July 29, 2016

Ron Paul’s 2012 delegate strategy isn’t cheating when Cruz uses it against Trump

trump cruz croppedDonald Trump lost it on Fox News Monday after learning Ted Cruz has secured 34 of Colorado’s 37 delegates to the Republican National Convention. The Colorado GOP canceled its caucus vote last August, electing to choose its delegates at its state convention. The Centennial State is only the latest in which Cruz has won a larger percentage of the delegates than his percentage of the popular vote.

Trump called the process “a crooked deal,” adding, “That’s not the way democracy is supposed to work.”

Newsflash to Trump: This isn’t a democracy. It’s a republic and this is exactly how a republic is supposed to work. The whole reason Colorado and many other states don’t assign their delegates on a winner-take-all basis after the popular vote is they want their nominating process to be more republican (small “r”) than democratic.

If this sounds like déjà vu, it’s because Ron Paul employed the same strategy in 2012, winning the most delegates in eleven states, despite not winning a single primary or caucus popular vote (although he may have been robbed in Maine). Paul was the anti-establishment candidate that year and many of the same people who are now riding the Trump train were Paul supporters who defended the strategy vehemently.

But while it is widely accepted that Trump picked up a large portion of Paul’s 2012 supporters, he obviously hasn’t captured the contingent that mastered Robert’s Rules of Order and took over state conventions in 2012. That’s not surprising, given the difference between the candidates. Paul’s delegate core were highly principled libertarians who typically understood and believed Paul’s message of limited, constitutional government.

That’s what saw them through the long, tedious process of advancing through local, district, county and state conventions. It’s relatively painless to show up at your local polling place and pull a lever behind a curtain. It doesn’t cost anything in time or money. But when the “beauty contest” is over, the real political work has just begun. The months-long process requires would-be delegates to make their candidate’s arguments hundreds of times and hear their opponents’ arguments just as many. By the time they are elected at a state convention, they are fully informed and vetted.

These aren’t the type of people likely to respond to Trump’s largely emotional pitch. Yes, Paul’s supporters may have been “angry” with the status quo, but it was a much more deliberative anger. Unlike Trump’s supporters, Paul’s were always the victims of any violence that broke out at meetings and conventions. And these followers of Austrian economics would never support Trump’s spurious economic theories, although some of his statements on foreign policy may have caught their attention.

While it is true Trump’s support is much wider than merely white working class voters, as pundits initially described it, it is still largely a protest vote. Doctors, lawyers and other professionals can be just as justifiably fed up with Washington, D.C. and its connected interests. It’s not surprising an independent candidate like Trump, apparently impervious to the influence of the donor class, would appeal to voters over a wide demographic. But while their dissatisfaction with the status quo is legitimate, whether Trump is the solution is another story entirely.

The truth is Trump is the type of candidate the whole republic-not-a-democracy idea is supposed to prevent. The founders’ chief concern with democracy was its susceptibility to the “turbulence” resulting from “common passion,” as James Madison put it. That was the reason for the electoral college. They wanted to give the people a direct say in choosing their government’s leadership, but they also wanted a buffer between the multitude’s passions and the reins of power. They would have been horrified by Trump’s rhetoric, no matter how refreshing his destruction of “political correctness” might be.

Trump can rage all he wants about the nominating process being rigged, but the truth is he’ll have to inspire something besides fist-shaking in his supporters if he wants to be president. In many states, it takes more than a fifteen-minute commitment to pull a lever behind a curtain to get your candidate nominated. That’s not such a bad thing.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Trump Isn’t Hitler; He’s Hamilton

trump hamiltonAs Donald Trump closes in on the Republican nomination for President, comparisons to Hitler continue. And while references to the dictator are never absent from political hyperbole, one can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a bit more legitimacy to them when it comes to the Donald. Even the creator of Godwin’s law won’t dismiss the comparison out of hand.

Superficially, there is something there. Trump appeals to the same kind of nationalist worldview that inspired Hitler’s supporters. Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” isn’t substantively different than Hitler’s. Neither are his arguments for what has caused the decline: corrupt politicians who have sold out the nation, the presence of subversive or merely unwanted elements (Jews and communists for Hitler; illegal immigrants and Muslim refugees for Trump), and inept economic policy, meaning not enough of or the wrong kind of state intervention.

Like Hitler, Trump touts himself as the only hope to save his country, a strongman-type leader who will run a command economy, rid the country of subversive elements, and restore lost international respect. His disdain for civil liberties like free speech and open support of torture are an even more chilling similarity. For Trump, government isn’t the problem, it’s the solution, as long as the right leader is running it.

But for all the similarities, there are important differences. He certainly can’t be accused of sharing Hitler’s racial beliefs. Trump’s wall to keep out illegal immigrants from Mexico will have a yuuuuge door in the middle to admit legal immigrants of the same ethnicity. He has repeatedly voiced his admiration and respect for the Chinese, because “you can still respect someone who’s knocking the hell out of you.”

Most striking is Trump’s foreign policy differences with the Fuhrer. While Trump does advocate some sort of military action against ISIS, he’s strikingly noninterventionist in general. His willingness to come out and admit the Iraq War was a mistake – in South Carolina no less – and his general view that America should start questioning its ongoing military posture everywhere, including NATO, are the opposite of the aggressive military component integral to Hitler’s plan from the beginning.

So what do you call Trump’s brand of nationalism, if not outright fascism? If you take away the boorishness of Trump’s personality and insert more thoughtful, elegant rhetoric, you’d call it traditional American conservatism, before it was infiltrated by more libertarian ideas. American conservatism was always about creating an American version of the mercantilist British Empire and it really never changed.

Since the founding of the republic, American conservatives have argued for a strong central government that subsidized domestic corporations to build roads and infrastructure, levied high protectionist tariffs and ran a central bank. This was Alexander Hamilton’s domestic platform, championed by his Federalist Party. Henry Clay and the Whigs adopted it after the Federalist Party died. From the ashes of the Whigs emerged Lincoln and the Republicans, who were finally able to install Clay’s “American System” after decades of electoral failure.

The Republican Party has remained startlingly consistent in its economic principles, despite incorporating free market rhetoric in the 20th century. Republicans from Lincoln to McKinley to Coolidge to George W. Bush have been protectionists. Hoover reacted to the Depression by signing the Smoot-Hawley tariff, for all the same reasons Trump threatens tariffs now. And what was the first thing Republicans did in the 1950s, after two decades of Democratic Party domination? A huge government roads project that had Hamilton smiling in his grave.

Trump promises more of the same, justifying his stance against nation-building by saying, “I just think we have to rebuild our country.” Make no mistake, Trump isn’t suggesting cutting military spending and allowing the private sector to build what it chooses to build. “We” is the government, with Trump as its intellectually superior leader.

Trump isn’t Hitler; he’s Hamilton, advocating the kind of centralist government Hamilton spoke about in secret at the Constitutional Convention and attempted to achieve surreptitiously throughout the rest of his political life by eroding the same limits on federal government power he had trumpeted to sell the Constitution in the Federalist Papers. Trump wants to be Hamilton’s elected king, running a crony-capitalist, mercantilist economy just as Hamilton envisioned. Even Trump’s campaign slogan is Hamiltonian. Hamilton’s stated goal was “national greatness,” something he referred to again and again in his writing.

And while Hamilton was certainly a more eloquent and well-mannered spokesman for conservatism, Trump is actually superior to him in at least one way: Hamilton was a military interventionist, whose ambition to conquer the colonial possessions of Spain was much more like Hitler’s desire to seize the Ukraine for Germany than anything Trump wants to do internationally.

One has to wonder: Is that the real reason neoconservatives like Bill Kristol, John McCain and Lindsey Graham are so anti-Trump?

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

There is nothing new about the neoconservatives

nothing new

Robert Eno of Conservative Review named Rand Paul the “standout of the night” after the December 15 Republican Presidential Debate on CNN. Eno laments that the mainstream media, including “conservative media pundits,” will proclaim Rubio the winner. Eno implies these pundits aren’t true conservatives, referring to a species of unicorn sought by millions of self-identified conservative voters.

Rand Paul himself has called out Rubio and other proponents of the U.S. military empire as failing to adhere to authentic conservative principles. The self-named “neoconservatives,” we’re told, are really progressives in Republican clothing, failing to promote the true conservative principles of small government, free markets and a noninterventionist foreign policy.

Rand is right about nonintervention, but he’s wrong about conservatism. There is nothing new about the neoconservatives. The essence of conservativism itself is belief in the need for an all-powerful government that regulates every area of life domestically and dominates every other nation in the world. This has been the conservative worldview for thousands of years. It has never changed.

Conservatives see the world as Thomas Hobbes did. Human nature is so depraved that the government must be powerful enough to “keep them in awe.” Like other enlightenment philosophers, Hobbes saw the relationship of nations to one another as virtually identical to the relationship between individual people. They are all in a de facto state of war unless one nation dominates the rest.

This explains the otherwise puzzling compulsion by generations of U.S. politicians to interfere in the affairs of destitute Third World countries thousands of miles away. Just as individual liberty within society is a threat to the commonwealth, self-determination by any individual nation is a threat to the world order. The “domino theory” offered as justification for the Korean and Viet Nam Wars was firmly rooted in Hobbesian conservatism. So was the British Empire.

Many conservatives would object and point to Edmund Burke or Russell Kirk as representing the true tenets of conservatism. There’s only one problem: Burke and Kirk agree with Hobbes on just about everything.

Hobbes, Burke and Kirk all deny the existence of natural, inalienable rights. Like Hobbes, Burke says that man in the state of nature “has a right to everything,” meaning there can be no rights to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Rather than “to secure these rights,” according to Burke, governments exist so “the inclinations of men should frequently be thwarted, their will controlled, and their passions brought into subjection.”

The only disagreement between Hobbesian “centralizers” and Burkean “constitutionalists” is on how government power should be distributed. The Hobbesians believe the sovereign power can never be safely divided. It must reside in one place, preferably in one man. Hobbesians in American history include Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, and George W. Bush.

The Burkeans believe the opposite. As the politicians have the same dark nature, they must be thwarted, too. Burkean conservatives in American history include John Adams, Robert Taft and Barry Goldwater.

Here’s the rub. While Burkean constitutional conservatives want power divided, they still believe 100% of the power resides somewhere in the government. If the federal government isn’t going to regulate a particular area of life, then the state or municipal government should. Or the town government. Or your local school board. No area of life remains unregulated.

Similarly, the two conservative camps have disagreements on foreign policy, but not on principle. “Old Right” conservatives like Robert Taft may have argued against war, but Taft’s chief argument against participation in NATO was his fear it would concentrate too much power in the executive, although he hints at the non-aggression principle in passing:

“Under the Monroe Doctrine we could change our policy at any time. We could judge whether perhaps one of the countries had given cause for the attack. Only Congress could declare a war in pursuance of the doctrine. Under the new pact the President can take us into war without Congress.”

Contrary to the beliefs of a lot of well-meaning people, individual liberty, limited government and free markets are the antithesis of conservatism and always have been. Mercantilism is the economic system of conservatism; empire its natural foreign policy.

The American Revolution was very much a libertarian revolution against a Hobbesian, mercantilist and militarist empire. The ensuing struggle between Federalists and Jeffersonians was likewise a struggle between conservatism and libertarianism, respectively.

As inconsistent as he sometimes was in practice, Jefferson’s thinking and writing remained consistent on this point throughout his life. He repeatedly cited the libertarian principle that government should “restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free” in describing the limits of government power.

His foreign policy was mostly libertarian as well. Unlike President Obama, he really gutted the military, cutting its budget by over 90% and largely dismantling the navy (the army was already disbanded when he took office). His stated purpose was to make the navy a purely defensive force, incapable of foreign adventures.

Like millions of self-identified conservatives, Rand Paul is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. He’s trying to see libertarianism as a subset of conservativism, just as Reagan did. It isn’t. It’s no surprise that even his attempt to portray himself as an authentic, Old Right conservative has failed. Trying to blend conservatism and libertarianism leads one into all sorts of self-contradictory positions.

It’s no coincidence that enthusiasm has peaked at those moments when Paul has taken the purely libertarian positions of his father, as he did filibustering drone strikes on American citizens or the Patriot Act. The marketplace of ideas is telling him something.

There is an intuitive libertarian instinct in everyone. The desire to live and let live and use force only in response to aggression is quite literally the “law of nature,” as Locke wrote over three hundred years ago. There are millions of Americans who believe it, but have it philosophically jumbled with the antithetical tenets of conservatism.

Rand Paul may be one of them. Or, he may believe the only way to make America more libertarian is by appealing to conservatives within the political process. Either way, he’s wrong.

Americans are starving for something besides conservatism or liberalism (as it’s defined today). A lot of them just don’t know it. Rand Paul could do the most good by taking his father’s ideas a step farther and rejecting conservatism altogether. It’s a dead end for the liberty movement, just as it always has been.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

We Need to Really Gut the Military

cracked-american-flag-jpgU.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told the Harvard Kennedy School Tuesday that Americans will be grappling with violent extremism for generations to come. If that feels like déjà vu, you’re not imagining things. Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark O. Schisslersaid the same thing – in 2006.

Schissler was expressing concern at the time over wavering public support for a war that had already lasted longer than WWII. His concern was warranted. The Republican Party had just suffered a shellacking in the mid-term elections, largely due to public dissatisfaction with “neoconservative” foreign policy. They would lose the White House two years later for largely the same reasons.

American voters may have believed they “threw the bums out,” as Carroll Quigley might put it, but the foreign policy never changed. The Obama administration may have used different tactics, but it’s been even more interventionist than Bush’s. It’s certainly intervened in more countries.

Bush and the 2000s Republicans were called neoconservatives, but they weren’t. Their way of seeing the world is classic conservatism, straight out of Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes not only saw all individuals, but all nations, in a de facto state of war with each other, in the absence of some overwhelming external force “keeping them in awe.”

This was the inspiration for the British Empire, which sought to “civilize” the world by force of arms. It eventually bled itself dry, its biggest failures occurring on precisely the same ground the United States is bleeding on now.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Dear Queen Elizabeth: Can we come back?

Dear Queen ElizabethDear Queen Elizabeth,

It’s been 239 years and we’re finally ready to admit we made a mistake. Just as your predecessor warned us, taxes are much higher, the government more oppressive, and liberty more non-existent than they ever were under the British monarchy.

We’re willing to bury the hatchet and rejoin the British Empire with that sweet tax deal you had for us in 1775. Don’t worry about representation. We tried it. Taxes skyrocketed.

Everything else we complained about got worse, too. Representative government issues more general warrants than the king’s officers ever did. In most cases, it doesn’t even bother with warrants. It just vacuums up our electronic data and peruses it at its pleasure.

It calls controlling everything from the food we eat to the amount of water in our toilets “regulating trade,” when all King George meant by that was levying a few tariffs. Our Federal Register is over 80,000 pages long. It’s insane.

In short, we were wrong. Let’s just pretend the whole, silly misunderstanding didn’t happen. I know it’s asking a lot, but you seem even nicer than George III was.

We’re willing to pay next year’s taxes at 1775 rates in advance. What say you?

Sincerely,

Your Prodigal Colonists

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

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.

The Thanksgiving Day deception: Exhibit A against public schools

Embarkation_of_the_Pilgrims (640x419)TAMPA, Fla., November 27, 2013 — Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and millions of schoolchildren couldn’t be happier. Not only will they have a fantastic meal on Thursday, but they get a mini-vacation from school. For at least the past week, they’ve been cutting Pilgrim hats and Native American headdresses out of crepe paper and listening to stories about the Pilgrims’ first few years in Plymouth Plantation.

Little do they know they’ve been lied to.

It’s not that what they’re told isn’t true. The Pilgrims did sail over on the Mayflower. They did face incredible hardship, losing half their numbers during the first winter and half of their supplemented numbers again during the second. The Indians did help them. Squanto really did advise them to put a dead fish under each cornstalk to help it grow in the New England soil.

But that’s not why they stopped starving.

Governor William Bradford was quite explicit in his diary about the real reason the Pilgrims starved during the first two winters. It wasn’t because they were suddenly incompetent after prospering in England and the Netherlands for decades.

It was because they set up a communist economy. The Pilgrims had reluctantly agreed with their investors to hold all property in common, under the erroneous assumption that this would give the investors a faster return on investment.

It worked as well in 1620 New England as it did in 20th century Russia and China.

Bradford is also clear about what halted the “misery.”  It wasn’t Squanto’s gardening tips. It was because they abolished communism and set up a private property system. As Bradford writes,

“At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance), and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted then otherwise would have been by any means the Gov. or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content.”

After establishing even this imperfect private property model, the Pilgrims never starved again. That seems pretty important, doesn’t it?

It’s not some minor detail like how they started wearing buckled shoes or how much beer they had onboard the Mayflower (they had quite a bit). It’s the crux of the Pilgrim’s story, why they starved and how they solved that problem.

There is a vital lesson that the Pilgrims learned from this experience that schoolchildren should be learning as well. Bradford thought it important enough to include this aside before continuing his narrative:

“The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients, applauded by some of later times; -that the taking away of property, and bringing in community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser then God.”

During their entire primary and secondary education, children will hear the Pilgrim story retold, using details taken from the very same primary source. They will hear about the Pilgrims starving and about Squanto’s fish trick, being led to believe that was what saved the Pilgrims.

They won’t hear the truth, even though one has to trip over oneself to tell the Pilgrims’ story without revealing it. Some may argue that younger schoolchildren are too young for such a “political” subject, but they’re never too young to hear about how awful private property and free enterprise are or how the government saves us all from “robber barons,” or how human beings are a scourge upon the Earth that pollute the air and destroy habitats.

One thing is certain. The very first event in American history is grossly misrepresented by the public school system. It certainly doesn’t end there. Given the importance of what is omitted, it is hard to believe the omission is not intentional.

Regardless, the public school version of early American history begins by depriving schoolchildren of a vital lesson: private property is essential to human survival. Communism led to starvation in 1620 just as it did in 20th century Europe and Asia.

With an education that starts this way, it’s not hard to understand why these innocent kids grow up to support a $4 trillion government that recognizes no limits on its power.

Strike a blow for freedom. Pull your kids out of school.

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

 

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.

 

If Congress can defund the 2nd Amendment, it can defund Obamacare

defundobama_s640x427TAMPA, October 28, 2013 – President Obama won a temporary victory in his standoff with House Republicans over funding the government and raising the debt ceiling. He signed a continuing resolution to reopen the government without conceding anything on his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. But continuing resolutions are temporary and this issue is far from settled.

Arguments by Democrats and some media that efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional show their lack of understanding of how government actually works. Their claims that because the legislation was passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court, Congress has a constitutional duty to appropriate funds to execute the law illustrate just how woefully misinformed they are.

Former New Jersey Superior Court Judge and Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explained, “Defunding permits to Congress to exercise the discretion it needs in order preserve tax dollars. By requiring yearly budgets and express appropriations, the Constitution expressly permits Congress to decline to pay for any regulatory scheme that it or a prior Congress has established.”

Professor of History and best-selling author Kevin Gutzman, Ph.D, J.D. says that the ability to defund enacted laws goes all of the way back to the Washington administration. Under President George Washington, James Madison proposed defunding part of the Jay Treaty. Moreover, he explains that delegates who ratified the Constitution were specifically told the House would have this power.

“Although virtually all historians miss this point, I note in James Madison and the Making of America that Madison had said during the Virginia Ratification Convention that the House would have this function in the treaty process, because it had this function in implementation of every law: it could refuse to fund it,” said Gutzman.

In fact, Congress defunds enacted laws all the time. Congress has defunded § 925(c) Exceptions: Relief from disabilities every year since 1992, for example. This is a law passed by Congress and signed by the president, just like the Affordable Care Act. The law provides a mechanism for convicted felons who have served their sentences to override the prohibition against convicted felons possessing firearms.

The Exceptions law helps mitigate the federal government’s war on the 2nd Amendment. Current federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony “in any court” to possess firearms (18 U.S.C. § 922(g). The only felonies excepted are offenses pertaining to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, restraints of trade, or other similar offenses relating to the regulation of business practices.” (18 U.S.C. § 921(a) (20)(A).

The courts interpret that exception very narrowly. In Dreher v. U.S., 115 F.3d 330 (5th Cir. 1997), The U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit found that a conviction for wire or mail fraud does not fall under the exception. Dreher was found guilty of billing clients for services not rendered. He is ineligible to own a firearm. The exception by no means encompasses all non-violent or even all white collar felonies.

In other words, even Martha Stewart is prohibited for life from owning a gun, due to Congress’ defunding of § 925(c). While it is debatable whether lying to a federal agent when not under oath should be a crime at all, no reasonable person would conclude that it should carry a life sentence. Yet this is effectively the case. It applies to people convicted of “crimes” as innocuous as unlocking their cell phones to accept more than one carrier, downloading copyrighted music, or even, in some states, adultery.

Regardless of one’s political positions on the Affordable Care Act or gun ownership, Congress’ is exercising the same power in defunding the health care law as they do when defunding the reinstatement process for firearm possession. The latter has passed Congress every year for over two decades without public outcry from either Republicans or Democrats, despite § 925(c) having been enacted by Congress and signed by the president.

There is a good argument to be made that persons convicted of non-violent felonies should automatically regain the legal right to possess firearms the minute they are released from custody. As soon as a prisoner is released, he is subjected to all of the dangers from violent criminals that justify anyone’s right to bear arms.

Congress’ defunding of § 925(c) makes that danger permanent, while defunding the Affordable Care Act actually safeguards Americans from a government fine that many still consider unjust, regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Liberals are suddenly exasperated that Congress would assert its power over the purse, but the knife cuts both ways. If Congress can defund the 2nd Amendment, it can defund the Affordable Care Act.

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

 

Does anyone really believe Assad used chemical weapons in Syria?

does anyoneTAMPA, September 6, 2013 – Public opinion polls are virtually unanimous. The American people oppose military intervention in Syria, despite poll questions worded in a way that assumes the Syrian government perpetrated chemical weapons attacks against its own people. The Washington Post/ABC News poll asked:

The United States says it has determined that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the civil war there. Given this, do you support or oppose the United States launching missile strikes against the Syrian government?”

 

Who could imagine the question being put in words more likely to elicit a favorable response? Nevertheless, Americans were resoundingly against military intervention. 59% said they opposed missile strikes. 36% said they favored them. 5% were undecided.

Results like that in a poll so obviously constructed to achieve the opposite begs the question:

Does anyone really believe the Assad government launched chemical weapons attacks against rebels and civilians?

That virtually every politician and pundit talks about the attacks as if it were proven they occurred and that Assad’s government perpetrated them is beyond surreal. U.N. weapons inspectors say that they won’t even be able to confirm that chemical weapons were used for two more weeks. Yet, the Obama administration says it is not only certain the attack occurred, but that Assad’s government launched it.

This despite strong suspicion that it was the rebels, not the Assad government that launched the chemical weapons attack earlier this year. As reported by Shaun Waterman in the Washington Times on May 6,

“Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels seeking to oust Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad had used the nerve agent.”

The rebels stood to gain far more from last month’s chemical weapons attack than Assad. The government had the upper hand in the two-year-old revolution. The attack would increase the chances that an outside force like the U.S. would join the struggle on the rebels’ side. Judge Andrew Napolitano is skeptical that the attack occurred at all and, if it did, that Assad perpetrated it. Writing in the Washington Times, he says,

“Never mind that the photos shown by Mr. Obama’s folks of aid workers ministering to the supposed victims of government gassing show the workers without gas masks or gloves, and never mind that the Assad regime has permitted United Nations weapons inspectors unfettered access to its materiel, and never mind that the president wants to invade Syria before the weapons inspectors issue their report. The president wants us to think that the Assad regime intentionally gassed 1,000 Syrian innocents who were of no military value to the rebels or threat to the regime…”

 

That’s not the only circumstantial evidence questioning the official story. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told Ron Paul Monday on the Ron Paul Channel that the U.S. government has been waiting for an excuse to intervene in Syria since 2011.

“Stratfor is a U.S. intelligence contractor based in Texas and we got hold of five million of their e-mails. They do consulting work for many different government organizations and private organizations. And one of those e-mails from late 2011, December 2011, is a report back from one of their agents meeting with the U.S. Air Force, members of the French military and British military, speaking about what the hopes and game plan was under various circumstances, essentially by the West, by the U.S. and NATO, if you like. And that they really felt that what they needed was for there to be some humanitarian outrage in Syria and that once they had that, that would legitimize going in with a big airstrike,” said Assange.

With no known evidence against the Assad government and strong circumstantial evidence against the rebels, the Obama administration still insists that they have conclusive proof against Assad, but cannot share the evidence. According to the Washington Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s replied,

“Claims that proof exists but is classified and cannot be shown are beneath criticism. “ He added, “If the U.S. says that the al-Assad regime is responsible for that attack and that they have proof, then let them submit it to the U.N. Security Council.”

The Obama administration hasn’t given the American public any more reason to believe it than Putin does. It’s been caught in one lie after another about its domestic spying programs, according to Forbes magazine. It’s also fighting the specter of a war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist.

The truth of what happened in Damascus last month will be known eventually. Until then, the Obama administration is trying to sell a dog that just won’t hunt to an American public that’s weary of war and has little reason to believe its government about anything.

If experience is any teacher, Americans would be wise to remain incredulous.

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