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Afraid for our country

The follow opinion was written by Michael Goodwin, New York Post columnist. ————————————- I am a baby boomer, which is to say my life has coincided with turbulent and awesome times. From the Cold War to Vietnam, from Watergate to Monicagate, through the horrors of 9/11 and the stunning lifestyle advances, my generation’s era has been historic and exciting. Yet for all the drama and change, the years only occasionally instilled in me the sensation I feel almost constantly now. I am afraid for my country. I am afraid — actually, certain — we are losing the heart and soul that made America unique in human history. Yes, we have enemies, but the greatest danger comes from within. Watching the freak show in Copenhagen last week, I was alternately furious and filled with dread. The world has gone absolutely bonkers and lunatics are in charge. Mugabe and Chavez are treated with respect and the United Nations is serious about wanting to regulate our industry and transfer our wealth to kleptocrats and genocidal maniacs. Even more frightening, our own leaders joined the circus. Marching to the beat of international drummers, they uncoupled themselves from the will of the people they were elected to serve. President Obama, for whom I voted because I believed he was the best choice available, is a profound disappointment. I now regard his campaign as a sly bait-and-switch operation, promising one thing and delivering another. Shame on me. Equally surprising, he has become an insufferable bore. The grace notes and charm have vanished, with peevishness and petty spite his default emotions. His rhetorical gifts now serve his loathsome habit of fear-mongering. ”Time is running out,” he says, over and again. He said it on health care, on the stimulus, in Copenhagen, on Iran. Instead of provoking thought and inspiring ideas, the man hailed for his Ivy League nuance insists we stop thinking and do what he says. Now. His assertion we will go bankrupt unless Congress immediately adopts the health monstrosity marks a new low. At least it did until he barged into a meeting in Copenhagen to insult the Chinese with the same do-it-now arrogance on carbon emissions. Don’t get me wrong — it’s OK to insult the Chinese, but save it for an urgent life-and-death issue. Iran qualifies, with its plans for a nuclear arsenal, yet Obama has not pushed China on that issue with the fervor of his attacks on their dirty smokestacks. Washington has its own freak show and it also features Big Government theocrats. One of the mainstream media myths is that the Democrat-on-Democrat attacks of late pit moderates against liberals. Horse hockey. No person of conservative or moderate sensibility could possibly support a federal takeover of the massive health system. That some who profess to be moderates have gone along, either out of fear or partisan loyalty or payoffs, only underscores the madness. In fact, it is a myth the fight is over health care at all. It is a vulgar power dispute between liberals and extreme liberals, with health care a convenient portal for command-and-control of 17 percent of the economy. It’s definitely not reform. Notice how little Obama talks about sick people or medicine or suffering or any of the realities of illness and death. There is almost no mention of the moral dimension that supposedly animates the demand for universal coverage. The public intuitively understands the con, which is why it prefers the flawed status quo. Voters tell pollsters by as much as 3-to-1 they think a federal takeover will cost them and the country more money and will produce more red tape instead of better care. Yet, because power corrupts, and one-party rule corrupts absolutely, dissenters are considered heretics. Until the next election. Meanwhile, Mother Nature delivered her verdict with yesterday’s blizzard in Washington. I am cheered by the thought that finally, hell has frozen over. Unions feed as city bleeds The disastrous decision by the City Council to kill a jobs-generating, $300 million development project in The Bronx was a scary sign of the rise of union power. But it’s not the only one. Virtually every day brings fresh evidence of how unions and their captive politicians are taking New York down a destructive path. Consider the slash-and-burn MTA service cuts, which include a plan to end free rides for hundreds of thousands of students. It’s no accident the decision, aimed at saving $400 million, comes as the agency is forced by the courts to pay raises of $300 million over two years. At nearly 4 percent a year for each worker, the raises, first granted by a suspect arbitration process, mean the MTA’s first obligation is to a union-protection racket instead of to paying customers. To cut services while giving raises in a recession is insane. Something similar is happening with schools. Gov. Paterson’s attempt to keep the state from running out of cash by delaying a fairly minor state-aid payment of $146 million was met with a lawsuit. The teachers union and some school boards claim he has no right to make the decision without legislative approval. That would be the same Legislature that, when the union says jump, asks “how high.” Paterson showed courage by also calling the lawsuit the selfish act it is. ”We’re supposed to get all the money and everybody else can just divide up the crumbs,” he said of the attitude behind the suit. “It’s clear to me they don’t care about anybody but themselves.” The long-term impact of excessive union pandering is reflected by a Citizens Budget Commission study. Working with the Partnership for New York, it surveyed 52 large firms and found the city could save about $1.4 billion annually simply by providing the same health-insurance benefits as private firms. Pension savings would be astronomical if the city could follow the private-market system of defined contributions instead of defined benefits. Instead, it’s locked into exorbitant and outdated plans. Taxpayers this year alone are paying $10.4 billion for the health insurance of employees and retirees and pensions for current workers. In short, the problem is bad and getting worse. Each and every day.

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