Playing Politics

Eric Shinseki    I am sure that many Republicans, and so-called conservatives are celebrating, and counting the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary, Eric Shinseki as a victory. But is it?

What is the victory here? Oh sure, the Republicans have managed to take out a cabinet secretary of President Obama, but how does that solve the problems facing the Veteran’s Administration?  And they can lay those problems at the feet of the Obama administration, but how does that help a single veteran? It may even help a couple of Republicans to get elected in the mid-term elections, but will that really hold anyone accountable?

Sure the easy answer is that the head of an agency is ultimately responsible for the actions of the people below them. However can we really expect one man to oversee an entire agency the size of the V.A., and to know everything that goes on, when the people he is counting on are lying to him in their reports?

This problem did not start with Secretary Shinseki, and it will not end now that he has resigned. The problem began somewhere in the middle, with some mid-level bureaucrat cooking the books so that they got their bonuses. It was perpetrated by many people for the same reason, and all who participated are responsible.

The real problem is the size of the agency, and the fact that it has no competition in the field of providing health care to veterans. Also there is no incentive for it to be run efficiently, only for moving as many people through the pipe line as possible, this is what led to the numbers being falsified. No one cares if the money spent is spent well, or if the care the veterans get is the best possible care available. They only care that the numbers show that people are being seen at a fast pace.

I am sure that in the beginning the idea of the Veteran’s hospitals was that veterans would have hospitals and doctors that would be dedicated specifically to veterans. That these hospitals and doctors would also be better trained to treat the specific health issues that face veterans. In theory this makes sense. One would believe that if there are specific places and doctors dedicated to veterans and their needs, well certainly they would receive better care, and in a timely manner.

As we have now seen this is not the case, it may never have been the case. How many examples do we need before the American people open their eyes to the reality that there is very little that government does better than the private sector?

Of course the Obama Administration will fight to preserve the status-quo. Oh sure, they will make personnel changes, a new cabinet secretary, even some of those mid-level bureaucrats, but will any real changes be made in how the V.A. operates? Not likely. Sure we will see some of the mandated numbers changed to allow the paper pusher to make it look like things are getting done. But will that mean that the veterans are getting the best care possible? In my opinion, no.

I believe it is time that we completely re-think the V.A.. It is time to admit that it is a failure, that the people, the citizens who give so much to protect our freedom, are not receiving even half of what they deserve in return.

As an aside, the idea behind the way the V.A. is currently operating is the proto type for single payer socialized health care, so if we admit that it does not work, then we have to admit that the ACA and the direction it is headed will not work either.

What the V.A. needs is the infusion of competition from the private sector. This is such an easy fix. We simply issue a card to every veteran that allows them to seek treatment from any hospital, or doctor of their choosing. That’s it.

Now some have said this is not a good idea because it would mean the loss of jobs for those working for the V.A.. Maybe, maybe not. Of course many veterans would seek treatment outside of the V.A., and some may choose to stick with the V.A..  But as those who seek treatment elsewhere leave, this would relieve pressure on the V.A., allowing it to offer better, more personalized treatment. It would also incentivize the agency to work more efficiently and to offer better treatment.

But let us suppose that the current model of the V.A. was no longer needed, that a sufficient number of veterans chose other sources of treatment  and care, we could still find a use for the facilities and staff. Think of all the homeless vets, and all of the elderly vets who need constant care. Why couldn’t we transition these facilities from medical facilities into homes for the homeless, and assisted living facilities?

I did not write a Memorial Day post this year, not because I don’t honor our veterans, I do. But because I saw so much pomp and circumstance about the holiday. Quite a lot of flag waving and speech making. The holiday has become a bit too formulae for my liking. Too many people telling me how I have to honor the veterans.

To tell you the truth I got a little tired of the people telling me not to have a BBQ, or if I did to make sure I remembered those who made it possible.  I know that many people have lost loved ones in war, that family members are in harm’s way. But not everyone has, some of our citizens are far removed from actual veterans, so for them the holiday is just that, a holiday. But is there a better way to honor those citizens who gave their lives for our freedom, than to exercise those freedoms they died to protect? When we BBQ, and we go to the beach, and mow the lawn, we do so under the umbrella of those who served. When we shop, and bike, and take our kids to the movies, we do so thanks to the veterans who fought while we  slept.

There is no need to stand in a crowd and listen to some politician make a speech in order to honor our veterans. We honor them best when we simply are Americans.

But there is one thing we can all do to honor those veterans who died for this nation, we can make sure that their brothers and sisters in arms, are receiving the very best care and assistance that we, as the freest nation in the world can provide. And we can stop playing politics with this issue. This is not a Republican issue, nor a Democrat issue, it is an American issue. We must all pull together at all levels of government, the federal, the state, the local, and the individual citizen, to assure that not a single veteran is left in need.


3 Comments on "Playing Politics"

  1. fightingbluehen says:

    Shinseki had little to do with the short comings of the VA, but he had to be the scape goat in order to make it look like the government has the situation under control, and that a bloated bureaucracy is not the real problem.
    Single payer healthcare is the goal, and the only example of single payer healthcare in the US right now is the VA. So at all costs, comprehensive government run healthcare must appear to be viable.

  2. Rick says:

    What is the victory here…

    There’s no “victory” here for vets, but at least an incompetent boob is no longer collecting a federal paycheck. Worse still is the fact that what has occurred at the V.A. is the ultimate destination for our new nationalized healthcare system. Just replace “veterans” with “citizens.” Isn’t that great?

  3. meatball says:

    Rick calls 38 year army combat veteran since Vietnam, retired four star general and Chief of Staff, with multiple successful commands, unanimously confirmed by the Senate, an incompetent boob. Amazing. maybe because he said this.
    “Shinseki said he couldn’t explain the lack of integrity among some leaders in VA healthcare facilities. “That breach of integrity is irresponsible, it is indefensible, and unacceptable to me.” He said he could not defend what happened because it was indefensible, but he could take responsibility for it and he would.”

Got something to say? Go for it!