Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

First of all, let me be perfectly clear from the beginning so that there are no misunderstandings. You absolutely do not, under any circumstances, have a right to healthcare. As an extension, you do not have a right to birth control. You do not have a right to food, medicine, clothing, shelter, education, a cell phone, a car, or internet service.

You have a right to your own person and, by extension, to your life, liberty, and labor. Your labor, which is representative of your life because of the time and effort you put into it, transforms into your property, which you thus also have a right to.

THAT’S IT.

It is not possible to have a right to healthcare, birth control, food, or phones, or anything else that is the product of SOMEONE ELSE’S labor. To assert these kinds of “rights” is to enslave the producers of these goods or services, and is thus morally repugnant.

Simply wanting something, or even needing it, is not enough to claim a right to it. We can talk all day about the things we should do, in our daily lives, to succor the needs and wants of our fellow man. We can speak and write emphatically about the fact that no one should be without healthcare, or food, or shelter, but again, that is not the same as “a right”, and it is not the same as a law. The moral drive behind SHOULD is vastly different than the threat of force behind LAW mandated by government.

In other words, everyone has the right to be a “bad person”, so long as their actions do not deprive anyone of their life, liberty, or property. It is not the proper role of government to legislate a society into “goodness”, whether it’s through mandating “free” healthcare or through an imposed definition of marriage. One of these is thought by many to be morally upstanding, and the other to be a moral outrage, but they are in fact both symptoms of the same grievous error: the attempt of a central government at social engineering, at the cost of depriving its citizens of their natural rights.

Once again, the political pundits and talking heads have drowned this issue in sensational rhetoric, affected outrage, and poisonous labels. We hear it’s about a woman’s right to choose, about crusty old men trying to control them through their reproductive health. Those mean conservatives want us to regress fifty years, those godless liberals want us to forsake our religious beliefs. All of this is far beyond the point. The federal government has no authority to require your employer, or anyone else, to pay for any of your healthcare.. It’s irrelevant how much you want it; it does not matter how wonderful it would be if healthcare could be [truly] free for everyone. Envisioning some kind of a utopia and then using government force or the threat of force to coerce your fellow man to follow that vision, is wrong. It’s just plain wrong. Those who have tried to deprive us of our natural rights, to whatever end, have always pleaded the best of intentions.

I have yet to hear a justification for these supposed “rights”, that does not rest solely on “should”. People should have healthcare. People should not have to lose their house because they got cancer. Young adults often can’t afford their own coverage, so insurers should continue to cover them. All women should have birth control, if they want it.

All of these things are true, but they have nothing whatever to do with the law. The only just purpose of the law is to protect your rights (which, remember, are only life, liberty, and property). Everything else is tyranny because virtually everything else involves depriving one group of these rights in order to transfer them to another group.

Even if we were to agree on all these points, we would still be left with a society afflicted by high healthcare costs and with many people who do not have access to healthcare.

So what to do?

The first thing to do is to get government out of the healthcare business altogether. Putting aside the moral arguments against it that I’ve already made, I’ve never heard anyone praise any government agency as efficient and effective, so it mystifies me that people think the government is even capable of dealing with healthcare. It is no coincidence that the cost of healthcare has skyrocketed since the introduction of federal third-party payers. When you introduce a third-party payer, you remove all downward pressures on prices. Neither the provider of the service nor the recipient have any motive to engage in the sorts of behaviors that normally drive prices down. It is truly disturbing to hear people claim that the free market has driven up healthcare costs. What free market? Maybe there’s a healthcare free market in Mexico, or Barbados, or some such so, but certainly not here.

Any third-party payer is covered by this rule, whether it’s government or private insurance. It’s also no coincidence that the cost of plastic surgery has fallen significantly in the past few decades. Any new, cutting-edge procedure may start expensive, but quickly goes down in value, in much the same way as high-tech gadgets. Why would non-elective healthcare be exempt from this trend? Why is it that health insurance is supposed to cover everything, even the routine? Car insurance does not cover the cost of oil changes. House insurance does not cover the cost of a new water heater. If they did, the cost of these types of insurance would also skyrocket. Heath insurance as we know it today is not insurance at all. If it were, it would cover only unforeseen, high-impact events, like severe injury or long-term diseases. Now, the government is making it harder or even impossible to buy such coverage (usually called “high-deductible” plans).

The impact of a government-funded third-party payer is, however, much greater than private insurance, because the government has access to certain things that private insurance companies do not, things that remove any remnant of normal price controlling forces: taxes and a printing press.

Where is the motivation to lower prices? Not only is “someone else” footing the bill, but that someone else has infinite money! Or, at least, they think they do.

The end result of soaring healthcare costs was always a mathematical and economic inevitability.

Amazingly, we are told that introducing more government into the mix will make it better. Increasing the presence of this mammoth, third-party payer, even mandating that everyone participate in it, is somehow going to reduce costs. This would be a good example of a mathematical impossibility.

I can’t tell you how sad it makes me that so many people believe it. The results are not going to be an improvement. Instead, it is going to make things much, much worse.

Remove government from the business altogether, free hospitals and clinics from the noose of regulations and paperwork, and return insurance to what it properly is, a protection against unforeseeable catastrophes, and you will see the cost of healthcare plummet like a lead ball.

Nonetheless, you would still be left with people who cannot afford it. What to do?

It’s called CHARITY. It’s actually been around for a long time.

If your house is blown over by a hurricane, who would you rather see come to your aid, the Red Cross, or FEMA?

What is more effective in addressing human catastrophes overseas: the International Red Cross, Peace Corps, and Doctors Without Borders? Or government backed foreign aid?

With very few exceptions, private always does it better, and everyone knows it. And not only do private charities function more effectively than government mandated aid, but best of all, they don’t violate anyone rights! From the workers who give their time to the individuals who contribute their hard-earned money, it’s all voluntary! No force or threats involved! Amazing!

We do have wealth in this country (dwindling though it may be), but most of all we have a lot of goodness, goodness which we can, and do, put into action all the time, without any direction or mandates or threats from government. This generosity and goodwill could be even more powerful if we removed the crutch of government assistance, and if so much of our wealth and prosperity were not forfeited to, and consumed by, the state. I believe it may be the greatest tragedy of our time that the statists, on both sides of the aisle, have convinced us that all good things (healthcare, jobs, education, protection for the vulnerable, assistance for the needy) come from government, and all bad things (drug use, gun crime, discrimination, poverty) come from freedom. The argument that private charity can and should replace government welfare is always countered by the assertion that people would not give enough without the force of government to make them do so. This argument, made by individuals who profess to care deeply about their fellow man, instead belies a deep and callous cynicism towards humanity. If you scratch the surface of any statist, left or right, you will find a dark antagonism toward true freedom. In a statement condemning the Blunt amendment (which was an attempt to tack a unrelated measure to a transportation funding bill, by the way), Senator Barbara Mikulski declared:

It allows any insurance company or any employer to deny coverage for any service they choose, based on a religious belief or moral conviction. What is a moral conviction? I have moral convictions. You have moral convictions. We have different moral convictions.

Wow. You mean, people are different? What a pain. That must make social engineering a real headache. And allowing the employers who have to pay for it a choice in the matter? How horrible! That cannot stand! I have a right to take your money and use it for my birth control. Of course, the real hilarity about the whole thing is that if employers are forced to cover this and other services, they’ll just pay their employees less. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, people!

The sensational antics that are being displayed over the recent birth control versus religious freedom controversy are outside the point. It makes no difference what Blunt’s motives are. Rush Limbaugh is just one thick-headed gas bag, whose daily airing of piffle and nonsense will never have the slightest impact on your life. The hysterical hyperbole and name callings are distractions from the core truth that is being ignored: the federal government has no authority and no moral right to force your employer, or anyone else, to pay for your birth control.

Try freedom.

The

Corporations are People?

Posted: 10/25/2011 in Politics

One of the complaints of the Occupy Wall St. movement is a resistance or backlash against a landmark Supreme Court decision (Citizens United v. FEC) that did away with limitations on “corporate speech.” The implications were explicitly that the corporations would be able to spend as much as they wanted on political action. The populist anger towards this decision is rooted in the belief that (1) corporations are not people and should not be assumed to have the rights of people (e.g. free speech) and (2) if allowed to do so corporations will take over U.S. politics by flooding the airwaves with their propaganda.

The case itself was brought forward by Citizens United, a non-profit corporation which had been prohibited from airing a film “Hillary: The Movie” within 30 days of the 2008 Democratic primaries. In 2002, Citizens United had attempted to use the same regulation to prevent the airing of “Fahrenheit 9/11”, but that film was found to be “commercial”, rather than political. The Citizens United v. FEC decision struck down the provisions of the McCain-Feingold Act (2002) that prohibited all corporations, profit and non-profit, from broadcasting “electioneering communications” within 60 days of a general election and 30 days of a primary. The court upheld requirements for disclaimer and disclosure by sponsors of advertisements. It did not, contrary to popular misconception, overturn the ban on direct corporate or union contributions to political parties or campaigns.

Without delving into a Olympic size swimming pool of legal jargon, suffice it to say that the gist of the decision was that the first amendment was written in terms of speech, not speakers. In other words, free speech is free speech no matter who is doing the talking and thus the government cannot be a blocking force in the release of speech, such as movies, books, etc.

Opponents have one primary argument against this logic: corporations are not people. This makes a lot of sense, considering they are not individuals, they are not born, they do not grow old, they do not get married or have children or need food and medicine.

However, if corporations are not people, then why are they taxed? Isn’t the idea of taxation based on representation? How can a non-entity have representation? Isn’t the justification for taxation based on the premise that taxed individuals use public services? How can a non-entity use a service?

Now, the individuals who constitute a corporation, or union, use public services, and they are represented. But then, they pay their own taxes, don’t they?

So, if corporations are not people, and if the people they contain already pay taxes, what is the justification for the corporate tax? It seems evident to me that the only possible justification is because we can. But simply wanting the money, even needing it, does not justify taking it. The original justification that was used to get people to accept taxes as fair was that they were in exchange for representation and services. If corporations do not qualify as people, then these things do not apply to them, and taking their money is just opportunistic stealing.

I want to also address the assumption that, if unrestrained, corporate involvement in politics will take over, silencing the voice of the people.

Leave it to “progressive” liberals to have such a denigrating, hateful opinion of their fellow man. Are we to callously accept that people are empty-headed lemmings, blown to one candidate or another by the wind of propaganda slogans? There are far, far more individual voters in this country than there are corporations, but that power means nothing because apparently we are helpless to the programming of media. People believe anything they see or hear, so it is up to the [leftist] politician to protect them from this influence. Of course it must be a politician, or a bureaucrat, who decides what qualifies as electioneering and what the people can and cannot handle, because we couldn’t possibly leave it up to the individual.

For those who may be reading this and thinking to yourselves that this is true—painful, but true—you should be ashamed of yourselves. Try having a modicum of faith in your fellow man. You’ll sleep better and live longer.

 

End transmission.

Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat candidate for the Senate, has been wowing audiences in Massachusetts, though, to be fair, for a Harvard Law School professor and former Obama administration official, this is not exactly a miracle. A particular video of Warren addressing an audience has gone viral, with emphasis on the following lines:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own—nobody.

You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads that the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory—and hire someone to protect against this—because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless—keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is: you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

I intend to address this statement line by line, but first I’m going to take the liberty of a little guessing here, and suppose that many who read this or hear it experience an almost euphoric “yeah-that’s right-so there” feeling. Despite Ms. Warren’s claims to the contrary, what you are feeling is just plain and simple class envy. This is what she is peddling to get elected. The people who cheer her on are motivated by two basic strains of thought.

“Those damn, dirty rich people deserve it! Crooks, all of ‘em!”

“Somebody else will pay, not me.”

Warren’s speech is pretty rhetoric, emotional and compelling, but it’s still the same old “us versus them” drama.

Worse than that, it’s just plain wrong.

“You built a factory out there? Good for you.”

If you listen to the audio of the speech, it is especially evident that Warren is not sincerely congratulatory. She sounds snide and dismissive.

“You moved your goods to market on the roads that the rest of us paid for.”

Unless the wealthy owner of this factory is an illegal immigrant, one can only assume that he paid the same taxes the “rest of us” did. On a personal level, he probably uses the roads no more than I do, commuting to work and running errands. If we are speaking of him as a business entity, then if he hires freighters for his goods he must pay for this service (plus sales tax). The freighters pay taxes, including vehicle taxes and gasoline taxes, costs which they pass on to their customer, in this case the factory owner. If he owns his own fleet of vehicles, then these costs must be absorbed by his business directly. Indeed, even a small business owner contributes a great deal more to the maintenance of roads than I do.

Also, considering that many millionaire business owners are still just small business owners, much of the time their business is conducted locally on local roads, the maintenance of which has nothing whatever to do with the federal government Warren is trying to represent.

Another point to make here is that the factory owner has no choice in the matter. It’s not as if he chose to “take a free ride” on public roads, instead of paying to use a private highway system.

It is true that no man is an island, but if we take this argument to its logical extreme, businesses and factories cannot exist without a multitude of advancements and advantages of society, including but not limited to telephones, electricity, combustion engines, chemistry and mechanics, metal working, language and fire. Are we born beholden to our fellow man because of the wheel?

And what about the wealthy who do not depend on such infrastructure at all? What about those who inherit their wealth? What about the inventor who sells his invention for a few million and lets someone else bring it to us as a product? What about the novelist, who churns out bestsellers from her cabin in western Maine, who uses roads no more than I do?

“You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.”

This line actually made me laugh. It is true that education is heavily subsidized in this country. However, one must assume that the primary beneficiaries are the workers themselves. After all, isn’t that what we tell young people? To get educated so that they can have a brighter future?

And how is that brighter future obtained, in practical terms? Through higher salaries. And who pays the salary? Wait for it…

The factory owner!

Again, I must assume that the factory owner in question is paying his educated workers, plus the not-insignificant payroll taxes, unless he is holding them in slavery. Also, does Warren suggest that employers should get a discount for hiring workers educated in private institutions?

“You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for.”

The only sort of protection provided by the federal government is from terrorism, Mexican drug cartels, and, I suppose, an invasion of aliens. None of these things are a statistically significant threat to the average factory owner. Keeping the streets safe for businesses, and for everyone else, is the job of a policeman. The policemen and firemen that Warren mentions are employees of local governments. This has nothing to do with the Feds. Putting that glaring error in logic aside, what if I feel entitled to the same protection as a factory owner? Do I have to pay as much as she does? If not, why does she have to pay more? Of course, she does pay more to support local services, in the form of property taxes, local sales taxes, state and local income taxes, permit and licensing fees, and so on. So I guess the real issue is that it is just not enough for Warren.

Also, once again, the factory owner does not have the option of rejecting government protection in favor of private services. They can add the protection of a private security agency (and most probably do), but they cannot shirk the costs imposed by the local agencies, nor by the federal government for the expensive and morally questionable actions it takes to keep us all “safe”.

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless—keep a hunk of it.”

Aside from noting again the snide and dismissive air, I’d like to ask Ms. Warren: what exactly is a “hunk”? I’ve noticed for all the leftists’ claims that the wealthy do not pay their fair share, virtually none are willing to give a cold, hard number of what that fair share is. Perhaps this is because, deep down, you squirm from outright declaring how much of someone else’s money you wish to steal? Or perhaps you know, deep down, that it will never be enough.

“But part of the underlying social contract is: you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Again with the “hunk” business.

What is this social contract? Who wrote it? Who, besides Ms. Warren, is able to interpret it? Is it voluntary?

Or is it true, as “progressives” seem to insist, that the social contract is rigid and binding, to be interpreted by them, and imposed on all? Simply by virtue of being born human, we are born into bondage.

Here and now, let me be clear: I reject this claim utterly. Owing nothing to anyone, and claiming no debt for myself, I wish only to be free, and for all others everywhere to be free, so long as I violate the rights of no one, and no one does such to me.

Morally speaking, I believe that generosity and charity are virtues. They are morally obligatory. But that has nothing to do with government. What people should do, is not the same as what they must do under threat of force. And let no one have any illusions; government is the threat of physical force, something which is only morally permissible in defense of natural rights (which do not include other people’s money, by the way). If you’re wondering how this principle is at all compatible with our current government…it isn’t.

Something else needs to be said here, concerning Warren’s statements earlier in the video positing what caused the current debt crisis. Among other things, she places blame on Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Let’s first look at the numbers.

The last law to change rates was the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, which, among other things, continued or accelerated tax changes passed in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. In 2002, the highest income bracket for married-filing-jointly began at $307,050. That meant that a couple earning 308K would pay 38.6% just in federal taxes. In 2003, the highest income bracket rose to $311,950, with its new rate lowered to 35%. The same couple, still making 308K, now pays a federal income tax rate of 33%, so a reduction of 5.6%.

Anyone who believes that reducing someone’s taxes by 5.6% led to our current crisis is fooling themselves. I hate to break it to you, but there just aren’t that many wealthy people in this country. A whooping 49% of the population pay no federal income taxes at all (I wonder if they should be allowed to use Warren’s roads). In 2008, the top 5% of earners were people who made more than $159,619. 1040s with AGI of more than $380,354, were in the top ONE percent. That’s 1% of all taxpayers, and .45% of the entire population. Despite being such a tiny group, these taxpayers are responsible for something around 40% of ALL income tax taken by the federal government. The top 10% (earners reporting more than $113,799) are carrying 71% of the federal income tax burden.

And yet it’s not enough, because it will never be enough. Even if this small group of people forked over everything they earned and went to live in shelters, it would not save us.

The real truth about it is, with few exceptions, government spending has outpaced revenue since 1960.

A drop in revenue, even if it occurs, is not the cause of debt. Spending is the cause of debt. If I go out and buy a luxury car I cannot afford, it is not the fault of my employer for not paying me enough, it is my fault for spending what I did not have.

I take issue with referring to tax-cuts as a “cost” to government, because I take issue with the assumption or implication that the government owns everything, and they generously allow us to keep some of it, at a “cost” to them.

Let’s put all that aside while I make one final point. Even if you believed that the government has the right to confiscate a significantly higher portion of the income of a tiny percentage of the population, what good would it do? Do you believe that the government would suddenly become solvent, efficient, and effective? Federal revenues have tripled since 1965. Do you believe that the federal government has gotten three times better?

Or…just three times bigger?

Will higher federal revenue bring an end to military adventures abroad? Will it stop them from debasing the currency by printing and borrowing even more money? Will they cease pursuing policies that create artificial market bubbles that derail economic stability and sabotage savings? Will they cut back on the executive privileges that hush civil liberties to a whisper? Will they no longer foster corporatism and cronyism?

Maybe, just maybe, the answer is not putting more money in the hands of government, even if it is conveniently taken from a very small minority.

“Democracy leads to anarchy, which is mob rule.” – Plato

 

End transmission.