Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Rich are Getting Richer

but the poor are getting richer too, and faster.

HT Ideas Matter.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just what are we buying with our liberty?

Check out this pie chart from the research by the Rand Corporation.
They conclude that only 10% of premature deaths are caused by lack of medical are.

So, remind me. Why are we massively increasing government control over health insurance and private financial decisions, while simultaneously risking government bankruptcy, to provide more "free" health care?

Rather than significantly improved health, our country will be getting more expensive, more arbitrary government rule over private matters of life and death.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How WalMart Benefits Communities

Inappropriately maligned, Walmart actually provides value in more ways than affordable commodities.

(HT Care Diem)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Really, Mr. President?

From yesterday's interview of President Obama by Bill O'Reilly:

CLAIM: “I lowered taxes over the last two years.”

FACT: The health care law includes a whopping $569,200,000,000 in tax increases scheduled to take effect over the coming years – taxes that will harm an economy struggling to grow. Most of these taxes will be paid by, or passed through to, the middle-class – including a new 40 percent tax on insurance policies the government is forcing individuals to buy, a tax so unpopular Democrats refused to impose it before 2018, well after President Obama will leave office.

CLAIM: “We want cost controls in health care.”

FACT: According to the Medicare actuary, the health care law will INCREASE costs by $310,800,000,000. In June 2009, President Obama claimed that any health care legislation must control costs: “If any bill arrives from Congress that is not controlling costs, that’s not a bill I can support. It’s going to have to control costs.” But just last month, the Medicare actuary once again confirmed that the President’s promise is “false, more so than true.”

CLAIM: “What we said was, if you have health care that you like, you keep it.”

FACT: According to the Administration’s own estimates, half of all employers – and as many as 80% of small businesses – will be forced to give up their current coverage within the next two years, thus subjecting them to costly new mandates that will increase premiums. Last month, the Medicare actuary agreed with the Administration’s own estimates that the President’s promise is “not true in all cases.”

CLAIM: [Responding to O’Reilly’s claim that the bill was “a huge government intrusion” that will “take over, basically, decision making for Americans”] “But, Bill….you have a responsibility to make sure that you have got coverage.”

FACT: The law goes much further than its constitutionally dubious requirement to obtain coverage – it forces individuals to buy, and large employers to offer, government-defined insurance coverage or pay financial penalties, meaning federal bureaucrats will be defining the parameters under which all Americans will obtain health care. Moreover, the law itself creates 159 new bureaucracies and programs, stretching the federal government’s involvement into virtually every nook and cranny of the health care sector.

(Above taken from an email by Chris Jacobs, Health Policy Analyst, Republican Policy Committee)

And there's more:

O'REILLY: Do you deny that you are a man who wants to redistribute wealth.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: You deny that?

OBAMA: Absolutely.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who is the scoundrel?

And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.

--President Obama, SOTU 2011

Let's say you have been borrowing money from a friend to pay rent or better yet, say a friend has simply been generously giving you money, and this has been going on for a long time. Finally, your friend says, "dude, I can't give you any more money." Would your response ever be: "I can't afford to allow you to stop giving me money"? In fact, isn't it the case that you can't afford to pay your own rent? Would you be mad at your friend for not giving you more money? And, if you were mad, rather than grateful for the past and eager to pay your own way, shouldn't you be considered a scoundrel at best?

How is it different ethically when we apply this principle to the government?

--Doug Reich, The Rational Capitalist

Friday, February 4, 2011

More on the Individual Mandate

Legal scholar Randy Barnett testified yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Among other salient points, Barnett reminds Congress that each member takes an oath to uphold the Constitution. It is NOT just the Supreme Court which must judge and vote on the constitutionality of legislation. Congress, and the President himself, have the sworn duty to strike down unconstitutional bills and laws.

Other resources worth reading:

Amici Curiae by Randy Barnett , CEI and Cato, Virginia v. Sebelius

Commandeering the People: Why the Individual Health Insurance Mandate is Unconstitutional, by Randy Barnett

Columbia Law School web page of links on the Constitutionality of the health care control law.

What freedom in medicine can bring

What we need is not less medical technology, but more.
What amazing treatments capable of ending suffering and promoting health are possible?
If we continue done the current path of strangling innovation, focusing primarily on reducing expenditures, we may never get to find out.

Many blame new expensive technologies for the increasing unaffordability of medical care. This claim is false.

Government price fixing in combination with the insistence that all treatments, no matter their cost, be immediately available to all those in "need" insulates medical care from healthy market forces. Medical goods and services are protected from the pressures of competition, profit and loss. When allowed to function without government intervention, markets take items which start out as luxuries for the wealthy and turn them into nearly universal commodities---even to the point that people begin to consider access to those commodities as essential to modern life. (Witness government efforts to guarantee people access to phones and the internet.)

Not only that, but the cycle time from luxury to mass availability shortens. It took 71 years for half the homes in the US to obtain telephones. This degree of penetration was achieved for electricity in 52 years, and for radio in 28 years. Personal computers took only 19 years, and internet access 10 years.

Even more astounding is taking a look at what the "poor" (household of 4 with an income <$22,000) in American currently own.
43% own their own home
75% own a car
97% own a TV
91$ have a microwave
48% have a cell phone

When allowed to function free from coercive egalitarian standards, the market will raise the prosperity of all. when price, profit and loss signals are manipulated (even if done with the intention of helping the most disadvantaged) everyone suffers.

Arguments are advanced that the health care market is unique and requires government intervention to assure equitability. But it is the degree of government intervention into medical care which has grossly distorted health care:

Physicians have a legal monopoly on the practice of medicine.
Hospitals and doctors are required to treat people for free.
Minimum insurance laws artificially increase the price of health insurance.
Medicare price fixing prevents competition for quality and efficiency.
Patients (health care consumers) are protected from having to consider cost in their demand for medical services.
Fee-for-service, which is the source of efficiency elsewhere in our economy, has perverse incentives when attempting to function within the third party payer system.

This names just a few.

Having removed or distorted normal market functioning in health care, the government finds it necessary to pile on even more intervention via 2700 pages of legislation (which enables tens of thousands of pages of regulations) --all in attempt to micro-manage health care from the top-down. But centralized command and control is not only not necessary, history has repeatedly demonstrated it to be counterproductive at best, and destructive at its worst. And what is destroys is the ability of individuals to live their lives according to their own values and judgement.

For greater access, greater affordability, greater advances--the best direction to take is to get government out of the medical care market.

Our lives, health and freedom depend on on it.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Source of Efficient Energy--the Market or the State?

Excellent analysis over at One Reality on what is the most efficient way to meet our energy needs: government experts choosing and coercively imposing their conclusions on the rest of us, or the free discovery process of market of profit and loss?

President Obama and the State University of Baloney

It is instructive to juxtapose two recent news events to consider which is more likely to cause harm...

[I]f the cold fusion claims from the University of Bologna turn out to be false or mistaken, nobody who hasn't invested will pay a penny for it--unless, of course, the research is prolonged by grants from the Italian government. When the president's formula for energy progress--massive state intervention--fails, it will inevitably (and absurdly) be blamed on freedom and "greed," providing the pretext for still more government power grabs.

Which of these is the greater evil?


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is the individual mandate constitutional? It's now 2 and 2

Yesterday, in State of Florida v. US Dept. of HHS, Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the individual mandate of the PPACA is unconstitutional, AND since, as supporters of the law have repeatedly argued, the mandate is "absolutely 'essential' to the Act's overarching goal of expanding the availability of affordable health insurance coverage" the mandate is not severable. This means the entire law must be struck down.

Three other court cases have ruled on whether or not the individual mandate exceeds Congress' power under the Commerce Clause: Liberty University, Inc. v. Geithner and Thomas More Law Center v. Obama , and Virginia v. Sebelius. The first two ruled that the mandate does fall within the power of the Commerce Clause and thus is constitutional. Virginia v. Sebelius and Florida v. HHS ruled the mandate unconstitutional.

I strongly recommend reading the entire 78 pages of Judge Vinson's ruling. It is well organized, and written in easily understood plain language. Vinson explicitly (and correctly) recognizes that this legal case is not about "whether the [PPACA] is wise or unwise legislation" or "really about our health care system at all. It is principally about our federalist system, and it raises very important issues regarding the constitutional role of the federal government."

As part of his opinion, Vinson provides an excellent summary of the evolution of judicial interpretation of the Commerce Clause, beginning with its original purpose "to give Congress power to regulate commerce so that it could eliminate the trade restrictions and barriers by and between the states that had existed under the Articles of Confederation." Since so much will rest on the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Commerce Clause, it will behoove all concerned citizens to familiarize themselves with the relevant landmark cases, in particular Gibbons v. Ogden, Schechter Poultry v. U.S., Wickard v. Filburn, U.S. v. Lopez and Gonzales v. Raich. Vinson's opinion will give you a good start.

Vinson also refers us to the Reason TV video clip below: "Wheat, Weed and Obamacare: How the Commerce Clause Made congress All-Powerful."

Is there a limit to Congress' power to regulate private activity, and even inactivity?

Far more than health care hangs in the balance.