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Month: November 2009

Obama’s Medical Monopoly

November 28, 2009

© American Thinker 2009 (Link to this article at American Thinker)

If there’s anything worse than a private-sector monopoly, it’s a government-run monopoly. The difference is that in the private sector, everyone is free to compete and remove the monopolist’s monopoly status, while a government monopoly forbids competition and compels the citizenry to patronize its operation. It is still illegal, for example, to start a business competing with the United States Postal Service, as 19th-century American individualist and entrepreneur Lysander Spooner learned.

Right now, insurance companies already have a virtual monopoly with the help of government-imposed regulations that make it impossible for entrepreneurs to get in the act. Doctors have a virtual monopoly by state licensing and their power to restrict entry into the field to accredited medical schools. The result of this government-protected virtual monopoly is fewer consumer choices in insurance companies, fewer medical schools and doctors, and the protection of doctors’ high salaries, as well as reduced quality of health care. All of these factors show up in any monopolized industry.

When government runs an industry, criminalizes competition, and compels citizens to patronize only the government’s shifty organization, it is a “compulsory monopoly.” As economist Murray Rothbard notes, “A governmental monopoly need not worry that customers may go elsewhere or that inefficiency may mean its demise.”

If we removed all those regulations, restrictions, and intrusions that distort consumers’ natural ability to dictate costs, prices would fall dramatically.

Unfortunately, President Obama and Speaker Pelosi want to go the other way. With all the mandates and dictates in their proposals, the citizens will be compelled to participate. The proposed scheme will force private insurance companies out of business, regardless of politicians’ rhetoric to the contrary, and it will force doctors to participate in the scheme or not be allowed to practice. It will eventually engender a government-run medical industry.

We will see more government intrusion in our lives, less freedom, and lower quality of medical care. The more skilled doctors who don’t want to be slaves of the state will leave the practice, and those who do not value their independence or doctor-patient confidentiality will join. As with any other government-run agency, decisions made on our health-care matters will be political, and all providers of all medical services will be government employees. It is not an exaggeration to assert that Obama’s desires are not much different from those of communist regimes.

The virtual monopoly that doctors and insurance companies have will be transformed into a legally mandated monopoly, with no way for citizens to opt out of the system.

Besides the impracticalities of a compulsory medical monopoly, as indicated by all the historical evidence from the U.K., Canada and the old Soviet Union (as well as from our own country’s Medicare program), there are basic human rights questions. If the government takes over the medical industry, what if someone wants to be a private doctor, or have an independent insurance company, or get medical care from a non-government doctor?

What if someone doesn’t buy health insurance, as will be demanded by the new plan? A blunt translation of this legislation would have proponents declaring, “You must participate in this scheme whether you like it or not, or we’ll send the IRS after you or imprison you.”

Quite the uncivil way to let people know you care about their health.

If private citizens forced their neighbors to join in some scheme or else get thrown in a cage or get robbed, such schemers would be thrown in jail.

Just what is it about these public officials that makes them so demanding and dictatorial? Their control-freakishness is getting quite counterproductive…even dangerous.

One of our rights as citizens is to opt out of this kind of government scheme without threats of brute force. In the America our Founders created, we had the right to opt out of even health insurance, and whether or not we had insurance was none of the government’s business.

It’s called freedom.

As with any other industry that government has tampered with, state interference in the health care industry for many years has caused all the problems the industry has now. Get the government out of it. Allow the free market to work, and it will work…if given the chance.

So Many Hacks, So Little Time

Well, after all the Town Hall meetings and Tea Parties, and the 2009 elections in New Jersey, NY and Virginia, it’s time for a break from political annoyances–NOT!

In Massachusetts, the Special Election to find a hack to replace the late Senator Kennedy is in just two months, and the party primaries are in just a few weeks! I’m already exhausted. But does it really matter which statist hack will replace Kennedy? No, not really. It will be the same old thing for the victims, I mean, subjects, I mean, voters in this bluest of blue states.

But there are so many hacks, and there is just so little time. Take our front-runner, Attorney General Martha Coakley. Please.

Just this week, the Boston Globe revealed that, in 1995 when she was the Middlesex County DA, Coakley had a “closed-door” meeting that resulted in child-molesting priest John Geoghan’s one-year probation instead of any prosecution.

….Coakley, then the head of the Middlesex child abuse unit, had Geoghan in her sights and took a dramatically different approach. Back then, three grade-school brothers told investigators that Geoghan had inappropriately touched them during numerous visits to their Waltham home, and had made lewd telephone calls to them. Rather than prosecute, Coakley agreed to grant Geoghan a year of probation in a closed-door proceeding that received no media attention at all…In those interviews, the boys described several instances of touching, including one where Geoghan soaped up one of the brothers in the shower…..“Father Geoghan came in and was standing and then was sitting on the toilet and looking at him through the curtains,’’ Coakley wrote in the two-page letter. “He stated that [Geoghan] gave him a back rub while he was in the shower soaping him up.’’….Coakley, in her interview with the Globe, said the touching described by the boys did not rise to the accepted definition of indecent assault because the brothers never said that Geoghan touched the parts of their bodies that a court would consider private.

Right on, Martha! And, according to the Boston Herald’s Holly Robichaud, ACORN’s 2008 scorecard rates Coakley an A+. Isn’t that reassuring?

“General” Coakley’s a real hack’s hack. How fitting that she will probably replace Ted Kennedy, hack of all hacks. (Oh, grow up, plenty of time has passed since his death–we can be honest again!) I’m sure the roto-writers of the Globe ran this story now because  they will probably endorse US Rep. Mike Capuano (Have the swallows returned to Capuano?) There is a reason that the “Morrissey Boulevard Bum-Kissers” (as the Herald’s Howie Carr calls them) would endorse Capuano: because his vacant Congressional seat paves the way for former Rep. Joe Kennedy’s son, Little Joe, grand-nephew of the late senior senator.

And then there’s Boston Celtics part-owner and former Bain Capital partner Steve Pagliuca. Make that Steve Alleypuka. He barfs me out! Yech! To stimulate the economy, he wants to raise the capital gains tax.

RAISE!! THE!! CAPITAL!! GAINS!! TAX!!

Maybe he means raise the UNEMPLOYMENT RATE!! What planet is this guy from?

And that’s just the Democrats. Now the Republicans who want to replace Kennedy: (You mean, there are Republicans in  Massachusetts? There are a few, yes.) There’s state senator Scott Brown.  His views are similar to those of John McCain and Bob Dole, if that’s any indication. He supported Willard Mitt Romney’s Mandatory Health Insurance Law. He “Voted to increase the use of clean energy biofuel in MA,” “consistently supported funds for town recycling programs,” “voted for statewide Climate Change standards to reduce pollution,” “led the effort to promote alternative energy vehicles,” etc., according to his website. Had enough? Although, he is pro-gun rights. Sounds a lot like John McCain. We sure do need another John McCain, don’t we?

If Sen. Brown leaves the state senate (not likely), that will leave 4 Republicans in the 40-member senate, and, if Sen. Richard Tisei is elected Lt. Governor next year, that will then make it 3 remaining Republicans. Don’t count on any new Republicans elected to the Massachusetts state senate next year.

And finally, let us not forget “frequent candidate” Jack E. Robinson. Robinson has Law and Business degrees from Harvard, an extensive entrepreneurial business career, but otherwise has typical Massachusetts crazy leftist views and a somewhat questionable personal history. Nothing unusual.

Where’s Carla Howell when you need her?

Things in this state won’t change very much any time soon, replacing hacks with more hacks who support more government control over everything imaginable. These candidates who want to replace Ted Kennedy have given a common message: “Move out of Massachusetts!”

Morality and Governmental Aggression

It is immoral for the state to forcibly confiscate privately owned wealth and property. That’s theft. If it is against civil society’s general rules of behavior for private citizens to forcibly take another citizen’s private wealth  or property, then the same guidelines for common civility and respect for rights to life, liberty and property should apply to the state.

The Declaration of Independence recognizes every individual’s rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” These are natural, inherent rights that we have as human beings. An individual has a right of ownership of one’s  physical actions including one’s physical and intellectual labor, prior to selling such labor to an employer or client or customer. When an individual does sell one’s labor in a mutually agreeable voluntarily exchange, the individual has a 100% absolute right to all of what one has received in that exchange, and a right to do with those “earnings” or “fruits of one’s labor” whatever one wishes, as long as one isn’t violating  another individual’s same rights. Therefore, any forcible confiscation of those “fruits of one’s labor” is not only theft, but involuntary servitude. You can rationalize it to your heart’s content, but that’s what it is, and it is immoral, period.

It is even more immoral for the government to forcibly take an individual’s wealth or property to fund programs which one believes to be immoral, including or maybe especially government’s foreign expansionist policies of military invasions and occupations, especially those that cause destruction and violence against innocent people. It is also immoral to force your neighbors to fund abortions that they believe to be the killing of innocent life.

One thing I’ve learned is to never believe politicians, because they are liars. It is the nature of those who are driven towards the use of political force to further social agendas or otherwise asserted goals. The state itself exists as a “compulsory monopoly” in “territorial protection,” in which everyone within the territory is compelled to rely on for protection and justice. As economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe has noted,

…once there is no longer free entry into the business of the production of protection and adjudication, the price of protection and justice will rise and their quality will fall. Rather than being a protector and judge, a compulsory monopolist will become a protection racketeer — the destroyer and invader of the people and property that he is supposed to protect, a warmonger, and an imperialist…

If the  individual has an inherent right to life and liberty, then one has an inherent right to opt out of such a system, especially when it has become as corrupt and invasive as it is now, and thoroughly disorganized and inefficient as it is now. You might say that well, if you don’t like the system as it is now, then go to some other area. However, within these territories (the geographical territories of the United States of America), each individual still has that inherent right to life and liberty, a right of sovereignty over one’s life, one’s property, one’s body, and actually has that inherent, god-given right to opt out of such a corrupt and invasive system.

There is too much dependence on centralized government, especially federal centralized government. Dependence on a “compulsory protection monopolist” is a very bad thing, what makes a society dysfunctional. The compulsory monopolist doesn’t worry about sustaining itself as do regular folks who rely on their customers’, consumers’ and clients’ voluntary patronage. No, the compulsory monopolist relies on taxation imposed on their “protected” clients who have been compelled into such a relationship. As Hoppe states,

It is absurd to believe that an agency that may tax without consent can be a property protector. Likewise, it is absurd to believe that an agency with legislative powers can preserve law and order….Indeed, no one in his right mind would agree to a contract that allowed one’s alleged protector to determine unilaterally, without one’s consent, and irrevocably, without the possibility of exit, how much to charge for protection; and no one in his right mind would agree to an irrevocable contract which granted one’s alleged protector the right to ultimate decision making regarding one’s own person and property…In fact, any such protection contract is not only empirically unlikely, but praxeologically impossible. By “agreeing to be taxed and legislated in order to be protected,” a person would in effect surrender, or alienate, all of his property to the taxing authority and submit himself into permanent slavery to the legislative agency.

This reliance on governmental force for protection is a big reason why government has grown so much, including the welfare state and the warfare state, the “military industrial complex.”

But getting back to my statement that politicians are liars and should not be believed, I have a theory that people go into government “work” because they have a compulsion to intrude into other people’s private lives, a compulsion for aggression, if you will. (Going into their neighbors’ home and rummaging through their personal belongings and their private documents etc. might be too conspicuous.)

Even Soldiers Should Exercise Their Right To Bear Arms

Regarding this Fort Hood shooting incident yesterday, I would like to know why there wasn’t someone around who was armed to shoot that guy after he shot his first victim, to prevent him from shooting the next forty or fifty that he shot. Soldiers are Americans, too, you know, and they should’ve been able to exercise their rights to bear arms and of self-defense. This is very similar to that Virginia Tech shooting.

And this is a military facility? Would the number of victims have been much fewer had this been private security training grounds? My guess is, yes. This fiasco may very well be another example of how we might be better off by privatizing our defense.

Many people assume that defense is just one of those areas that only government can or should do.

However, the government has been running our military and security, and look at how security at airports and other travel areas is still lax after 8 years following 9/11, and look at these military escapades abroad that are getting increasingly quagmirish and futile. That is because Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush turned defense into “offense,” and into incompetence, recklessness, and self-destruction. And we still don’t have protected borders, thanks to the more recent Bush and Barack Obama.

Hoppe: On the Impossibility of Limited Government and the Prospects for a Second American Revolution

This article by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, published last year by the Mises Institute, On the Impossibility of Limited Government and the Prospects for a Second American Revolution, is a very important albeit somewhat lengthy analysis and criticism of our Constitutional form of government, with suggestions on alternatives towards improving our society.

Hoppe views the Constitution itself as in error, and notes economists Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises on the subject of the government’s monopoly in the business of protecting the citizens:

According to Mises and Rothbard, once there is no longer free entry into the business of the production of protection and adjudication, the price of protection and justice will rise and their quality will fall. Rather than being a protector and judge, a compulsory monopolist will become a protection racketeer — the destroyer and invader of the people and property that he is supposed to protect, a warmonger, and an imperialist.

Hoppe notes:

Instead of a king who regarded colonial America as his private property and the colonists as his tenants, the Constitution put temporary and interchangeable caretakers in charge of the country’s monopoly of justice and protection.These caretakers did not own the country, but as long as they were in office, they could make use of it and its residents to their own and their protégés’ advantage. However, as elementary economic theory predicts, this institutional setup will not eliminate the self-interest-driven tendency of a monopolist of law and order toward increased exploitation.

Hoppe quotes from Rothbard’s book, Power and Market: Government and the Economy:

…while a private owner, secure in his property and owning its capital value, plans the use of his resource over a long period of time, the government official must milk the property as quickly as he can, since he has no security of ownership. … [G]overnment officials own the use of resources but not their capital value (except in the case of the “private property” of a hereditary monarch). When only the current use can be owned, but not the resource itself, there will quickly ensue uneconomic exhaustion of the resources, since it will be to no one’s benefit to conserve it over a period of time and to every owner’s advantage to use it up as quickly as possible. … The private individual, secure in his property and in his capital resource, can take the long view, for he wants to maintain the capital value of his resource. It is the government official who must take and run, who must plunder the property while he is still in command.

The constitution provides that “anyone” can work as government officials, from the president down to lower bureaucrats, and, over more than 200 years now, the moral objection to state-committed property theft by those government officials has declined, and because of that the society in general has degenerated. As Hoppe notes:

That is, open political competition favors aggressive, hence dangerous, rather than defensive, hence harmless, political talents and will thus lead to the cultivation and perfection of the peculiar skills of demagoguery, deception, lying, opportunism, corruption, and bribery. Therefore, entrance into and success within government will become increasingly impossible for anyone hampered by moral scruples against lying and stealing….As the Declaration of Independence noted, government is supposed to protect life, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet in granting government the power to tax and legislate without consent, the Constitution cannot possibly assure this goal but is instead the very instrument for invading and destroying the right to life, property, and liberty. It is absurd to believe that an agency that may tax without consent can be a property protector. Likewise, it is absurd to believe that an agency with legislative powers can preserve law and order….Indeed, no one in his right mind would agree to a contract that allowed one’s alleged protector to determine unilaterally, without one’s consent, and irrevocably, without the possibility of exit, how much to charge for protection; and no one in his right mind would agree to an irrevocable contract which granted one’s alleged protector the right to ultimate decision making regarding one’s own person and property…In fact, any such protection contract is not only empirically unlikely, but praxeologically impossible. By “agreeing to be taxed and legislated in order to be protected,” a person would in effect surrender, or alienate, all of his property to the taxing authority and submit himself into permanent slavery to the legislative agency.

Hoppe comprehensively explains his alternative to the status quo of the reliance on the state’s property and liberty protection monopoly: Insurance. Among the many aspects of this “protection insurance” discussion, Hoppe notes an important difference in the context of arms possession:

Because they are not subject to and bound by contracts, states typically outlaw the ownership of weapons by their “clients,” thus increasing their own security at the expense of rendering their alleged clients defenseless. In contrast, no voluntary buyer of protection insurance would agree to a contract that required him to surrender his right to self-defense and be unarmed or otherwise defenseless. To the contrary, insurance agencies would encourage the ownership of guns and other protective devices among their clients by means of selective price cuts, because the better the private protection of their clients, the lower the insurers’ protection and indemnification costs would be.

The article suggests a book worth reading on the subject: The Market For Liberty by Linda and Morris Tannehill.  Hoppe’s article, Private Law Society, expands on these concepts.

In my opinion, the one major contributor to the self-destruction of our society has been taxation. It has made possible our government’s immoral occupations and atrocities abroad. While most reasonable citizens would voluntarily pay to fund the means towards their own protection, they probably wouldn’t voluntarily pay for (or, do more labor for) the “democratizing,” protection of, or “nation-building” for people in other countries, unless they are masochists. Being forced to do so at the force of gunpoint is immoral.

Those who really consider themselves open-minded will probably seriously consider these alternatives. Hoppe also gives suggestions on how to make these changes in our society. I think it naive at best to believe that we will ever be more secure or more free or prosperous with the continuation of our system, as guided by the United States Constitution. It is not pessimistic but only realistic to believe that under the status quo the society will continue to decline, and we might have to start learning to speak Chinese.