Mental Health and Refugees

In this post we are going to do something a little different.  We are going to look at conditions in the mental health industry and the Syrian refugees, in order to draw a commonality from both situations.  I recently read a NY Times Opinion called How to Help Save the Mentally Ill From Themselves by Norman Ornstein.  The piece describes his family’s experience with their oldest son Matthew, who experienced a sudden psychotic break during his twenties.  We are sorry for the pain and loss they have endured.  We know first-hand what they have gone through.

You see, we too have a son who has suffered from mental illness for most of his life.  He is now in his thirties, and within the last decade has been diagnosed as having a bi-polar affective disorder.  There have been repeated attempts to get him set up with services over the last fifteen years.  My wife has even had a power of attorney, but it has been of little avail in providing the help that he needs.  During his teenage years, he was remanded to the custody of the State by the juvenile court, as it was not safe to have him in a home environment. 

Since his release by the State we’ve seen the same cycle play out again and again over the years; one that starts out with good intentions, followed by his stopping his medications, leading to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, and finally ending with him taking off to go to someplace better.  He has chosen to live homeless most of his adult life.  With the drug and alcohol use, he has been in and out of jail many times.  I must say that the police officers that have contacted us have gone above and beyond in trying to help him.  They have a very difficult job to do and are to be commended for the way in which they go about it.  We have watched over the last fifteen or so years while he has made choices that have diminished his life to the point where he has nowhere to go, but is no longer able to care for himself.  It has been tragic to watch, and most of the time the system has worked against us in helping him. 

However, while we share Mr. Ornstein’s pain and concern, we strongly disagree with his recommended solution.  He supports a bill currently in Congress that ‘improve[s] the financing, treatment and delivery of services across the range of mental illnesses’ – including assisted outpatient treatment for those with a ‘long history and pattern of proving a danger to themselves or others.’  I believe that the bill is well intentioned, but the effect of this proposed legislation would be to place decision-making in the hands of a judge, and of course it requires the creation of a new government position within the Department of Health and Human Services.  In short, the solution is for more government funding, jurisdiction, and intervention.  From the editorial, there appears to be some opposition to the bill on the grounds of its eroding civil liberties.  But to be honest, all of this just appears to be an attempt to deal with the effects, and not the cause of the current situation itself.

We should start with understanding why as a society we have arrived at this place.  It used to be that mental health resources were in the hands of private charities, or the local or state governments.  For about seventy years, the federal government has inserted itself into the mental health industry’s operations through the creation of new agencies, federal funding, and regulatory promulgation.  All in an area they have no authority over, and all in the name of making things better.  Along with the oversight came both new requirements and regulatory compliance.  Neither of these are costless, so the result has been cost increases.  When government inserts itself, there are one of four things that can happen – and in different industries throughout the last hundred years, we’ve seen all four occur.  The first option is to cut back on the services whose costs are greater than their revenue, and this option normally includes staff reductions – fewer jobs and worsening economic conditions.  Second, service reduction through some form of rationing.  Third, closing ones doors as operations are simply no longer sustainable.  Finally, government can say that the industry is too important to be without its services, and can elect to provide funding to sustain it – thus putting control in public hands and its funding on someone else – the taxpayer.

Some of you reading this will probably think this is totally off the wall and fanciful at best.  But one has only to look at what is happening in our healthcare industry, post Obamacare, to see this scenario unfolding.  Virginia currently has over 100 hospitals, and those that are privately run generally have a religious basis and a mission that includes looking after those who cannot afford their own healthcare.  The effect of this new legislation, as mentioned in the last post, has been the movement away from payment for services to perceived value, and that change is contributing to increases in unreimbursed care.  At the same time it is estimated that the changes have resulted in a cost increase of about $1.5 billion dollars that must be absorbed.  When revenues decline at the same time that costs increase, margins are reduced.  Last year about one fourth of Virginia’s acute care hospitals had negative operating margins, and in rural areas the results were even worse as over forty percent ran in the red.  More information is available on the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association web-site.  These conditions cannot continue indefinitely.  Eventually they will need to refuse to perform certain services, focus only on areas where a positive operating margin can be achieved, close their doors, or obtain funding from the government to ‘make up’ the deficit.  Government at its finest, first create the problem with new law and then come to the rescue for its unintended consequences.

So what does all of this have to do with the Syrian refugees?  We are being asked to accept people from the Middle East into our society in increasing numbers, and told that not to do so is against our founding principles – that it is un-American.  Obama has spent a significant amount of time while overseas once again bashing those he has sworn to God to serve.  But let us ask, is his assertion true?  Is the only question that matters one about aiding another human being?  If that is so, the answer must unequivocally be yes, that we should accept as many as we are able.  After all, as I’ve stated many times, we all share the same nature, and it is charity to extend help to another out of love.  However, this first question is not the only relevant one, and our leader knows this as well.  Historically, we have taken in immigrants from many parts of the world.  They have wanted to come to build a better life for themselves and their children – to give them a greater opportunity than what they had.  The people who immigrated to America gave themselves over to an idea, one based upon the Judeo-Christian principles that, as a country, we were founded upon – regardless of the religion they held – and we have been both blessed as a country and a blessing to those who have come. 

However, Islam presents a different kind of animal.  It is an ideology with a religious component.  For more information, you can see the series that began late last year.  For the purposes of this post, we can boil it down to two issues that reflect the depth of the differences.  First, one of our country’s founding principles is equality under the law; as we all share the same nature, we all have the same rights.  No one is better or worse than another based on their nature.  That is not true within Islam.  Only believers in Allah are deserving of full rights; and even then men have more rights than women simply because Allah, in the words of the Qur’an, ‘made the one to excel the other.’  The second founding principle is that man by nature is free, that he has the free will – freedom – to make his own choices.  Underlying this principle is the notion of hope, and the belief that our purpose is to come to know our Creator by becoming like Him to the extent that we can – by becoming good.  We cannot be set in motion as inanimate machines and still achieve that purpose.  However, this is all contrary to Islam, because within Islam man is a slave as the Qur’an says in several verses.  The freedom one has is the negation of a negative, instead of a positive; it is what one has when they are not being coerced, indicating that man’s nature is that of being in a state of coercion, whether under the control of others or his own passions, a slave. 

Our founding documents are also considered to be of human origin and transitory, to be replaced by the divinely inspired rule of Shari’ a.  Islam ignores the divine inspiration underlying both our Declaration and Constitution, because it does not acknowledge the Judeo-Christian principles on which they are based.  So a second question must be asked in regards to accepting immigrants from the Middle East, to what extent should a society sow the seed for its own destruction to demonstrate its compassion?  You must be able to answer both questions yes to act with knowledge and compassion.  Our President has been silent on this second question, likely because he already knows the answer and it is contrary to his goals – whatever those happen to be.  Think this notion is not supported?  All one has to do is look at the annihilation of the dhimmi (protected) peoples under Islam over the last 1,400 years, the fact that almost all of the war and civil unrest occurring in the world today is in areas where Islam is in conflict with other cultures, and finally the war between ISIS, other Sunnis, and Shia is proof that Islam cannot even get along with itself and hasn’t for over a thousand years.  What more proof is needed?

We are called not only as individuals within Christianity, but also to be a single people – God’s people as stated in I Peter Chapter 2.  Being a people requires both a single set of mutually agreed upon rights, and a shared commitment to the common good.  Can those two things exist within a society where Islam is present as the rights it recognizes and its perceived notion of the common good is not only contrary, but incompatible with our founding ideals?  Again, to what extent should a society be made to sow the seed for its own destruction to demonstrate its compassion?  Our leader has asked if we are afraid of orphans and children.  After the events of this week, perhaps we should at least be skeptical.  I for one would support taking in some women and children refugees, as long as they were sponsored and adopted by our churches, so that they assimilated into our ideas and society as other immigrants before them.  One of the significant differences with Islam is that over time this group often isolate itself, unless that society is already Islamic.  We see that happening already within parts of our country.  If that cannot be done, the best approach is likely refugee containment areas within the Middle East, safe zones, where refugees can be supported and protected.  This is a mess created by Islam’s tenets, and exacerbated by our leadership’s incompetence.

By inviting those in, some of whom no doubt wish to destroy us, our government is performing a calculation that some number of citizens losing their lives is an acceptable loss as long as we achieve the greater good – the end goal.  This is the same calculus it has applied to healthcare.  In order to achieve the greater good, whatever that is, it is okay if we do not care for some in need as those whom we do take care of are deemed to be more deserving – a belief that some are more equal than others.  We must call this what it is, evil, and those supporting such actions are doing evil.  But this is the very ends justify the means notion that underlies all forms of collectivism, including Islam and the progressivism present in our country today.  It is not righteous to allow this to happen.  It is time that we stand up for what we believe.  When a society mocks and ridicules that which is good, what is left?  If good people do not run for office or vote in elections, who will be left and who vote?  If good people do not stand up and act in truth and honesty, how will things change?


Posted in: Healthcare


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About Dan Wolf

Dan WolfMy goal is that my writing will help you to get started on your own journey of discovery, or help you along the way on a journey you may have already begun. Our Founders considered education, religion, morality, and virtue to be the cornerstones for any successful society. Being successful requires understanding both the languages of reason and faith; reason alone is insufficient.