March 5, 2015

It’s not affordable and Obama doesn’t care

Obama_desk_s640x427TAMPA, January 3, 2014 – Two days ago, Americans rang in the first New Year in its history in which they were required to buy a private company’s product, regardless of their wishes. Predictably, the bloom was already off the rose, even for supporters of this debacle.

The reality that the Affordable Care Act will make insurance premiums go up and eliminate existing health plans whether members liked them or not had already set in. As for those 45 million uninsured we heard so much about four years ago, 44 million of them presumably remain uninsured under the ACA. That the website can’t handle the traffic is likely providing cover for millions of Americans who just aren’t interested in complying.

The lion’s share of blame has been focused on President Obama, but that is really counterproductive. Despite his name being forever attached to “Obamacare,” Obama really had little to do with creating it. He didn’t write the bill. He probably hasn’t even read it.

President Obama’s role in Obamacare was to use the “bully pulpit” of the Oval Office to pitch a tired, old and previously rejected idea that suddenly had new life because of a financial crisis that was largely blamed on the Republican Party, fairly or not.

So where did it come from? The snap answer would be Democrats, who passed the bill without a single Republican vote. That’s good politics for the Republicans, but only because Americans have an extremely short memory.

Even Romneycare in Massachusetts was not the genesis of Obamacare. The individual mandate, subsidies for low income earners and most other attributes of Obamacare were all part of the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993, introduced by Republican U.S. Senator John Conyers and supported by fellow Republicans Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennet and Kit Bond, among others.

Bennet would go on in 2007 to join Democrat Ron Wyden in introducing the Healthy Americans Act, which also featured an individual mandate and “State Help Agencies,” now called “health care exchanges” or “health care marketplaces.”

That Republicans used to introduce this horrible program as an alternative to the even worse single payer proposal by Democrats is no excuse. It is precisely the tyrannical, economically obtuse and grossly unfair program that Republicans have described it as for the past four years – after promoting it for the previous twenty.

It goes to show that given a long enough stay in Washington, D.C., anyone will begin to see govenrment as the only answer to any problem, most of which are created by government in the first place.

More importantly, debacles like Obamacare are rarely the result of presidential elections. Presidents like FDR, LBJ and Obama merely become the face associated with laws that finally pass after resistance has been worn down over decades.

James Madison’s words from the Federalist are instructive:

“But in a representative republic, where the executive magistracy is carefully limited; both in the extent and the duration of its power; and where the legislative power is exercised by an assembly, which is inspired, by a supposed influence over the people, with an intrepid confidence in its own strength; which is sufficiently numerous to feel all the passions which actuate a multitude, yet not so numerous as to be incapable of pursuing the objects of its passions, by means which reason prescribes; it is against the enterprising ambition of this department that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy and exhaust all their precautions.”

Despite the many usurpations of power by the executive branch, it is still “the enterprising ambition” of Congress that causes most of the misery government continues to spread. Given enough time, they will impose their boondoggles, no matter how unwise and unpopular they are.

There are over 100 members of the House of Representatives that have sat in those seats since at least the 1990’s. There are almost 30 members of similar longevity in the Senate.

Who knows what they’ll drag out of the dustbin next? It’s time for voters to do a little sweeping of their own. The letters after representatives’ names should make little difference.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Obama violates oath of office with insurance letter

Obama-meets-with-insurance-company-execs_s640x427TAMPA, November 17, 2013 – In a desperate attempt to diffuse criticism of his administration over the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), President Obama has once again broken new constitutional ground.

In a letter dated November 14, Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Gary Cohen informed state insurance commissioners that insurance policies rendered illegal by the legislation “will not be considered to be out of compliance with the market reforms specified below under the conditions specified below.”

The president has just violated his oath of office. No investigation is necessary. He’s put it in writing.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

Why a free market would work for health care

Doctor_655362410569_AP-676x450 (640x426) (2)TAMPA, October 26, 2013 – Conservatives are confused again, rejoicing in Obamacare’s early operational struggles. One would think that their only objection to the legislation has been that the Democrats wouldn’t run it efficiently. Maybe it was. After all, the Republicans ran a candidate against Obama that had implemented virtually the same program in Massachusetts, promising only to “repeal and replace.”

Replace?

Jon Stewart took the opportunity to join conservatives in criticizing the government’s performance during his interview with Kathleen Sebelius because he knew it wasn’t a principled argument. That the government didn’t have its website ready to handle the volume doesn’t address the principle of Obamacare.

This wrongheaded criticism by conservatives allowed Stewart to join in and appear to viewers as if he were being objective, while at the same time delivering the message that Democrats ultimately want Americans to accept: that “a market-based solution doesn’t work for health care.”

First, it is important to define “free market.” When attempting to do so, both conservatives and liberals tend to focus on competition, private ownership of the means of production and the profit motive. These are actually results of the free market, not defining characteristics.

The free market has only one defining characteristic: that all exchanges of property occur by mutual, voluntary consent. Period.

That the means of production are privately owned is a result of this, as no government acquisition of anything occurs by voluntary consent. Competition, too, occurs because customers are free to choose which products they buy or whether they buy at all. This motivates producers to make their products more attractive in quality, price or both. They are also motivated to operate at a profit, both for their own enrichment and in order to survive. Losing money eventually results in the dissolution of the firm.

Applying the definition, a free market in healthcare means simply that all exchanges of property, including the labor of doctors, occurs by mutual, voluntary consent. There is only one alternative to this: coercion. If all participants are not acting by voluntary consent, then some or all are being forced to make exchanges under the threat of violence if they don’t.

Anyone who doubts this should simply withhold the Medicare portion of his tax payments and see what happens next.

Stewart made a familiar argument that is compelling on its face. The free market doesn’t work for health care because patients in need of treatment are often not in a position to make choices the way they do when buying shoes or automobiles. Patients may be picked up in an ambulance delirious or even unconscious. It is unreasonable to assume those patients can make rational decisions about which hospitals they are taken to, which providers treat them or what treatments are administered to them.

Granted, but here’s the rub. Their situation is worthy of compassion, but it does not give them the right to force others to do their bidding. They have every right to ask for help, but not demand it. Their misfortune may not be their fault, but bad luck does not grant them a legal claim on the property of others. Nor does it give them the right to dictate the terms under which an exchange of property is to take place. That exchange either happens by mutual, voluntary consent or freedom is annihilated.

The same argument applies to those who simply cannot afford to purchase health care. Again, many find themselves in this position through no fault of their own. That doesn’t give them the right to use force on innocent third parties.

American governments were once constituted with the assumption that the government’s role was to ensure a free market. As John Locke said in his famous treatise, “The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property.”

It is no accident that Thomas Jefferson had a resolution passed in Virginia declaring that Locke’s treatise was the basis for American liberty.

However, the argument against Obamacare is not just a moral but a utilitarian one. There are cause and effect relationships between the manner in which exchanges are made and the affordability of products. When all exchanges are voluntary, supply expands, prices fall, and wealth is distributed widely. That’s why real wages rose so dramatically during the 19th century, contrary to leftist myths.

When exchanges are involuntary, these cause and effect relationships are disrupted. It is no accident that the most heavily regulated and subsidized industries, like education and health care, are the most disproportionately expensive. Heavy regulation artificially limits supply. Forced subsidies artificially expand demand. Both interventions make prices go up. It’s simple economics.

The health care market suffered from both interventions long before Obamacare. Medicare and Medicaid alone make up about a third of all health care spending. Regulation regarding who can dispense care makes medieval guilds look liberal. It’s no mystery why the price of health care is outrageously high.

If the Republican Party is to remain relevant at all, it has to stand for something other than myopic cheap shots over inconsequential issues like the Obamacare website. It has to stand for freedom. If not, it’s time for it to step aside, as its forbears the Whig and Federalist parties did. There just might be a party waiting in the wings that more faithfully represents voters who truly want a more limited government.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

More anti-libertarian nonsense: Libertarians are heartless

TAMPA, March 28, 2013 – This week’s anti-libertarian nonsense is “libertarians are heartless.”

There are many variations on this theme. Libertarians oppose government-run education so they must not want poor people to get an education. They oppose government-run healthcare so they must want poor, sick people to die. They oppose government-subsidized housing so they must want poor people to be homeless, too (if they aren’t already). Libertarians are selfish, amoral…You get it.

Libertarians also oppose state religions, but no one makes the claim that libertarians are against religion. I wonder why? It seems to follow.

The people who make these claims don’t understand what libertarianism is and don’t really understand the nature of government or their relationship to it, either.

Libertarians do not object to you helping the poor. They merely object to you forcing someone else to help the poor.

Libertarianism answers only one question: When is violence or threatening violence justified? The libertarian answer is only in self-defense. That includes defending your life from an immediate attack upon it or defending yourself against a previous theft of property or other crime.

This is where libertarians face reality and their opponents don’t. Libertarians understand that all government action is violent action. That’s not because people in the government aren’t doing it right. It’s because that is what government is designed to be. Violence is its raison d’etre.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

Questions remain after Rand Paul’s filibuster

TAMPA, March 10, 2013 – First, the good news. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul squared off in a 13-hour game of chicken with the White House on Wednesday. At stake was the bedrock American principle that no one will be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Early Thursday morning, the White House blinked.

“It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” The answer to that question is no. Sincerely, Eric H. Holder, Jr.”

It took “a month and a half and a root canal” to get that carefully worded answer, according to Senator Paul, and even then some obvious questions remained.

Does the president have the authority to use manned aircraft to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil? How about a rifle? A bow and arrow?

Perhaps due to the popular support for Paul’s filibuster, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney attempted to clean up Holder’s overqualified answer.

Read the rest of the article at Liberty Pulse…

Questions Obama and Romney won’t have to answer at tonight’s debate

TAMPA, October 16, 2012 – Tonight, we will be subjected to another presidential “debate,” in which two candidates who agree that government is the solution to everything argue about whose central plan is better. With the questions coming directly from the electorate and super-liberal Candy Crowley deciding which ones to ask, there is not much chance that big government will be challenged by anyone.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the candidates were actually asked substantive questions that couldn’t be answered with rehearsed talking points? Here are just a few that you won’t hear asked in any debate or interview:

1. Both of you support U.S. military involvement in the Middle East and elsewhere against nations that have committed no acts of war against the United States. How do you justify planned military action when no state of war exists?

2. Both of you support employing the U.S. military to promote “democracy” in other countries. Why is the U.S. taxpayer financially responsible for the liberty and security of everyone on the planet? When will this financial responsibility end?

3. You both agree that President Obama was right in signing the last NDAA bill which has provisions allowing the arrest and indefinite detention of U.S. citizens by the military without due process. How do you reconcile this policy with the 4th and 5th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution?

4. It is almost universally acknowledged that Social Security and Medicare have unfunded liabilities that can never be paid, with Medicare representing the graver financial threat. Both of you argue that the programs must be preserved. However, don’t U.S. citizens who weren’t even born when these programs were started have a right to opt out of them, if they agree to waive all benefits in exchange for not being required to pay in? Would you sign a bill allowing younger workers to opt out under those conditions?

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Romney-Obama debate as competitive as professional wrestling

TAMPA, October 4, 2012 — The early consensus after last night’s debate between President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is that it was a win for Romney. That depends upon how you define “win.”

Certainly, Romney came off as more confident in his answers, while the president seemed distracted at times. However, if this was a battle of ideas, then the outcome was about as uncertain as professional wrestling. Anyone who was listening could tell that this wasn’t a real fight. Big government was the predetermined winner the minute that Romney was nominated.

Yes, Romney made a few references to “competition” and “private markets,” as did Obama. But neither of them is interested in giving free markets a try. In that sense, Obama was at least a little more honest, except when he made the ironic statement that “the genius of America is the free enterprise system.”

The first segment concerned the economy and “creating jobs,” something the government has no role in whatsoever in a free market. The only valid government policy to create jobs from a free market perspective is one that stops the government from doing what it’s already doing. Neither man proposed this.

For many decades, the federal government has employed the same ruse in an attempt to centrally plan the economy while at the same time claim it is fostering free enterprise.

Step One: Tax the living daylights out of everybody and everything.

Step Two: Give “targeted tax cuts” to firms in sectors the central planners think should grow.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Occupy Wall Street talking gibberish about healthcare

TAMPA, July 5 2012 – Thank heaven for the great Steve Zahn, who in his hilarious turn as Lenny in the Beatlesque That Thing You Do, coined a phrase that applies to nearly every political sentiment expressed here in the land of the free.

“You’re talking gibberish.”

Lenny’s prescient warning against calling the band “The One-ders” was ignored, resulting in the band’s name being universally mispronounced, until it was changed to “The Wonders” by the band’s eventual manager.

The lesson? When gibberish is accepted as reason, bad things happen. The stakes are much higher for healthcare.

There are limitless reactions to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare. Unfortunately, those opposed are also talking gibberish. Conservatives are trying to spin the decision as a blow for limited government because it was rendered by a conservative judge. That’s bad enough. Occupy Wall Street’s argument against the decision is even worse.

At least the left’s opposition to the law, where it exists, has remained consistent. True believers in government-provided healthcare object to the Affordable Care Act because it makes use of private insurers. Occupy Wall Street is 100% correct on one thing. “The law will deliver 20+ million new customers and $447 billion in taxpayer subsidies directly to the private health insurance companies.”

Libertarians couldn’t agree more. The Act is nothing more than a half trillion dollar theft for the health insurance industry. That it benefits big business does not make it a “free market” solution. It’s just more welfare, of the corporate variety, that libertarians oppose like any other forcible redistribution of wealth.

The gibberish comes in when Occupy argues for its solution. Proposing “Medicare for All,” a single-payer healthcare system 100% operated by the government, Occupy makes this statement.

“We believe that healthcare is a human right, not a commodity or a luxury for those who can afford it.”

Gibberish. Why? Let’s think for a moment about what this statement really means. To do that, we’re going to have to define the words used in the statement. The first one is “healthcare.”

Continue at Washington Times Communities…

Can a libertarian be pro life?

TAMPA, May 20, 2012 – Thanks to Ron Paul’s extraordinary presidential campaign, libertarianism is arguably getting its best hearing in decades. It’s catching on, especially with young people. While baby boomers prepare to retire and devour Social Security and Medicare to the bone, the generations succeeding them realize that they will be stuck with the bill for these financially insolvent social programs, along with an unsustainable foreign policy.

Proceeding from its central tenet of non-aggression, libertarianism sees government the way Thomas Paine did. “Even in its best state, [it] is but a necessary evil.” Some libertarians think Paine was only half right. Either way, a libertarian government would do far less and cost far less than the one we have now.

Ron Paul has presented one of the purest libertarian platforms of any presidential candidate in U.S. history. Paul absolutely refuses to consider preemptive war and wants to “march right out” of the Middle East, Germany, Japan and Korea. He doesn’t just want to reform Social Security and Medicare; he wants to let younger workers opt completely out.

He wants to end the drug war and pardon all non-violent drug offenders. He wants to repeal the Patriot Act and subsequent “war on terror” legislation.

Paul doesn’t pitch a watered down version of libertarianism to avoid ruffling feathers within his party. When asked about a federal prohibition on gay marriage, Paul responds that the government should get out of the marriage business altogether, even at the state level, except for enforcing marriage agreements like any other contract.

However, there are a few issues where Paul’s libertarianism has been questioned. The most consequential in terms of political impact is his stance on abortion. Paul is staunchly pro-life.

Some have said this violates the basic tenets of libertarianism. The government cannot be allowed to dictate what an individual does regarding her own body. All libertarian theory is rooted in property rights and the most basic, fundamental property right is self-ownership. This precedes modern libertarianism. John Locke, the philosopher that inspired Thomas Jefferson, established this principle before the right to any other kind of property.

“Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his.”

The progressive pro-choice argument rests firmly upon this foundation. A woman owns her body and has sole dominion over what occurs within it. While progressives generally go on to violate this principle with their support for government regulation of virtually every other decision one makes with one’s body, they are very libertarian on this issue.

Or are they?

While libertarian theory is built upon property rights, it also recognizes a natural limit to the exercise thereof. That limit is what Locke called, “the law of nature,” which is that “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”

Based upon this limit, the woman’s rights would seem to end before she can bring harm to the fetus. Yet, libertarians recognize that everyone has a right to forcibly remove an unwanted person from his or her property. What is the libertarian answer?

Continue at Washington Times Communities…

What’s so important about replacing Obama with Romney?

TAMPA, April 25, 2012 – Now that the Republican Party and the media have decided, in quite Orwellian fashion, that Mitt Romney has won the nomination (even though he hasn’t); the party has ramped up its campaign to unite behind the Republican candidate. Regardless of those “minor differences” supporters of other candidates may have had, nothing is more important than defeating Barack Obama in November. There is only one question that no one is asking.

Why?

The first answer provided by many Republicans is “Obama is a socialist.”

I don’t read minds, so I can’t speculate as to what President Obama thinks. He may silently recite Saul Alinsky while he signs executive orders. He may be wearing Karl Marx Underoos when he reads from his teleprompter. I don’t know (and don’t want to know). We can only judge him on what he’s done. So far, he hasn’t done anything substantively more socialist than George W. Bush.

Continue at Communities@Washington Times…