You don't have to be a economist to understand why American healthcare has been such a disaster for so long -- and why Obamacare has spectacularly failed to do the one thing that would have solved most of its problems.
Because of a near-evil system in which employers are subsidized to pay health insurance premiums that the consumers of healthcare never pay, the health consumer has no incentive to shop for value. Price competition -- which is the most important mechanism by which the free market makes goods and services affordable -- is therefore eliminated. Care becomes hugely expensive as hospitals charge made-up prices that they know will be paid for by insurance companies. Not only does this system support the practicing of hugely wasteful defensive medicine, but also hospitals take every opportunity to recover from the insurance companies the cost of non-emergency care that government forces them to give for free to others who neither pay for what they use nor have their own insurance.
For the better part of a year, a pro-free-market, pro-liberty, grand-bargain solution to American healthcare has been kicking around my head, but I never wrote it down because it does not reject all government involvement in healthcare, and I rather expected that many of my libertarian readership would be disgusted by what many of them would deem a compromise of principle.
But for a reason that shall become clear, it's now time to share it. It goes something like this.
by Nelson Hultberg | AFR.orgNelson Hultberg is the author of The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values.
Who rules America today? Not the people; they have been vanquished. America is ruled today by a collectivist Troika – an Executive-Congressional Combine, Judicial Oligarchs, and a Corporatist Banking Cartel – who have as much concern for the resplendent principles that formed our country as street pimps have for romance and love. How has this Troika come to possess its power over our lives? It has accrued its power by conveying endless privileges (handouts, subsidies, loans, quotas, monopolies, price controls, tax breaks, etc.) to an ever-swelling mobocracy. This buys the mobocracy’s support every election year and insures the Troika’s permanency.
Who comprises the mobocracy? Sixty million Americans looking to get more out of life than they have a right to: government bureaucrats, corporate quislings, welfare parasites, media lackeys, union members, Black and Latino minorities, feminists, gays, environmentalists, Hollywood decadents, illegal aliens, unemployable misfits, and hordes of other obtuse voters.
Is this being unfair to Blacks, Latinos, gays, and feminists? To union workers and welfare recipients? Not at all. These groups demand and receive from the federal government quotas, monopolistic protections, hiring dictates, and subsidies to advance themselves in the marketplace. This violates their fellow citizens’ rights to free association, to free trade, and to their property. Such conveyance of “special privileges” is the reason why we are now $110 trillion in debt, why lobbyists annually converge upon Washington like weevils to the gristmill, and why Americans have voted a blatant Marxist radical into the highest office of the land.
On Saturday, March 23rd, 390 people representing 152 precincts gathered to hold the 2013 Oklahoma County Republican Convention. Eight elections were held: Chair, Vice Chair, State Committee, State Committee, 4th Congressional District Committee, 4th Congressional District Committee, 5th Congressional District Committee, and 5th Congressional District Committee. I ran for Chair, in this largest of all counties in the State of Oklahoma.
I lost by 18 votes.
This is an amazing number for several reasons. I am not a long time party activist. Indeed, I took a very long break – from 1995 to 2011 – with almost zero political activity. I spent that time as a “normal person”, getting married, finishing college, having two different careers and starting a third, and creating four children with my wife. I did some things right and some things wrong, but just tried to make my way in the world. I’m a dad, an employee, and a taxpaying citizen of Oklahoma.
by Nelson Hultberg | Americans for a Free Republic
Modern intellectuals are anti-ideology. They shun its use like kings and high priests shun voting. One of the first putdowns a student receives from a liberal professor when expounding the basic principles of capitalism in a college classroom is, “Oh, that’s too ideological. Your thinking is too rigid. You’re trying to label things! You must be more open to progressive experimentation and creative government. The Constitution is a living document. The use of any strict ideology or rigid set of political principles is impractical and reactionary. In a modern world, we must be flexible, pragmatic, willing to tolerate a new and ever changing role for government.”
Such is the usual response given to any student daring to declare that government’s functions should be limited to a Constitution that is strictly, i.e., literally interpreted, or that capitalism is the only socio-economic system that is capable of protecting the individual’s rights, or that without upholding the principle of “equal rights under the law,” there can be no true or lasting freedom, etc.
It’s not difficult to understand why our liberal-dominated intellectual establishment opposes ideology and its use of labels to define government’s role in society. Precisely because it does just that – it defines government’s role in society! The statist mind wants a vaguely and loosely defined government, unfettered by the restrictions of theory or principle or rights or labels or moral judgment. He seeks blanket power over men and their production. Thus it is only natural for him to be antagonistic toward the use of an overall ideology that labels his approach dictatorial, statist, neo-fascist, authoritarian, etc. and backs it up with rational arguments. Such intellectual labeling inhibits his power.
When welfarism fails most spectacularly, it is usually because it attempts to treat a perceived social or economic problem without understanding -- let alone undoing -- its cause. Often, this treatment of symptom only serves to mask the cause, establishing it more firmly in society, typically distorting incentives and having unintended consequences that often do more harm than good.
The British government (a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) seems determined to prove this point in one of the most disturbing ways seen in recent times.
Many British families face the difficulty of extremely expensive childcare, which, for many, has become a necessity rather than a choice, as parents find themselves unable to bring up their children on only one income. This was not true for our grandparents' generation.
The greatest ideological achievement of Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative Prime Minster of Britain from 1979 to 1990, was arguably not the redefinition of the Right of British politics, but the redefinition of its Left, and therewith, its middle. She has a legacy not because she destroyed her opponents or their political philosophies, but because her practical success as a politician forced them to incorporate much of hers.
by Nelson Hultberg
Paradigms are mega-systems of thought that explain certain realms of reality so as to shift mankind toward new visions. For example, mercantilism, Lockean limited government, species evolution, Pasteurian medicine, quantum physics, Keynesian economics, and welfare-state politics are paradigms that developed in their respective fields over the past several centuries. History is a continual process of shifting toward new paradigms in which the established thought of society is dramatically altered.
Paradigm shifts can be either positive or negative. When positive, these shifts are the manifestations of truth’s discovery and a better way of life. But in bringing about a better way of life, they also create a powerful dilemma for those who find themselves on the wrong side of the shift.
I am typing this in Miami, where I have had the privilege of sharing ideas of liberty with some new Americans who know more of its antithesis than almost anyone on this Continent -- Cuban exiles of Castro's regime. One of them, Normando, has spent seven years in prison for the crime of criticizing the quality of government-manufactured Cuban bread.
A conversation with Normando over breakfast on the day of my second lecture caused me to throw out the lecture I was going to give and replace it with one entitled, "Why Changing Minds (and Hearts) Is Difficult," which is full of empirical psychology, epistemology and neurology. It attempts to explain why it is hard not only to interpret reality accurately but even to see reality when it conflicts with what we already "know" -- regardless of whether our knowledge is right or wrong. (Its opening quote is from Goethe: "We see only what we know".) I am referring not so much to the changing of others' minds as to the changing of our own.
At the end of my lecture, I asked my audience who among them had read 1984. Some of them had -- although more of them had lived it than had read it.
I suggested that the book is, from its opening page, set in a near-complete tyranny. In the political sense, the world of 1984 is as hopeless as any dystopia that has been imagined in literature. You read it without much sense of hope for anything. Isn't it strange, then, that there would be any palpable sinking of the heart when you get to the end, when Winston, taken to Room 101 is finally broken by the destruction of his ability to believe for himself; to think for himself, even to perceive for himself? Why does your heart sink? Because at that point, all hope truly is lost. The ability to see his world as it is has gone, and with it, the possibility that he could ever experience his true self.
Revitalization of the State Militias
A Review of Edwin Vieira’s The Sword and Sovereignty
by Nelson Hultberg
On April 19, 1775, the battles of Lexington and Concord on the outskirts of Boston ignited the conflict that led to the most momentous political event of man’s history – the Declaration of Independence and the birth of America. In the early morning hours of that day, a command of British troops was dispatched from Boston to search out and confiscate stores of militia weapons and supplies at Concord. On the way they confronted a small and unimposing band of armed American militia at Lexington. The British Major John Pitcairn shouted out, “Ye villains, ye Rebels, disperse; damn you, disperse! Lay down your arms!”
The American militia were under the command of Captain, John Parker; and their orders were to remain non-antagonistic to the British. They were outnumbered by almost ten to one. So why didn’t they lay down their arms when ordered to do so? “Because,” says constitutional scholar Edwin Vieira, “free men with a duty to keep and bear arms never willingly lay down their arms. And at Lexington, none of them did.” The heroic militia Captain John Parker warned his men, “if they mean to have a war let it begin here.” And begin it did.
Importance of the State Militias
With his newest book, The Sword and Sovereignty, Edwin Vieira, Jr., has given us a magisterial work that meticulously documents the history of the early American militias and why similar units must be revitalized today if we are to adequately confront our disintegration as a society and restore the republic that the Founders gave us. It is a book that will profoundly shock 98 percent of Americans. It is so overpowering in its legal logic and constitutional veracity that the intellectuality of Cicero and Plutarch comes to mind as one reads the prose. It is not a book that can be read lightly; it demands a tolerance for legal thought and abstract conceptualization. But for those “men of the mind” who understand the importance of ideas in the unfolding of history, the effort will be most rewarding. You will be shown an entirely new way of seeing things regarding guns, militia, the Second Amendment, homeland security, how they intertwine, and how they have been grossly misrepresented by quisling, pseudo-experts of the establishment.
This is (finally) and update to the January 26 post, "Who's the Commander?"
The Commander is none other than George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.
Below is a diorama in the lobby of the Commander Hotel in titled "Washington Takes Command - July 3, 1775, Cambridge Massachusetts." The diorama depicts
Across the street in the Cambridge Common, where Washington took command, is this memorial:
Here is a South Carolina 6 year old kicked out of school for bringing a toy gun to school (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/s-student-6-expelle...).
How about this Philadelphia story of a paper gun resulting in the same punishment(http://bungalowbillscw.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-paper-gun-gets...)?
Another child was kicked out for "threatening" to use her "Hello Kitty" gun - but she didn't even have it at school... she is 5 years old (http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/politics/Kindergartner-B...).
A pair of 6 year old boys in Maryland were playing "cops and robbers" and were suspended. Obviously, they are a serious threat (http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2013/01/15/parents-furious-aft...).
Have you had enough of this idiotic behavior? These administrators are completely out of control - and they are everywhere. These stories are all from the last few weeks - all in January 2013. There are plenty more, and there will be more in the future. The goal is to demonize the very idea of guns, instead of bad behaviors with weapons, or bad behavior in general.
Objects are not good or evil, people are.
Most Americans are not involved in politics. According to the U.S. Census (which is only current through 2010), about 35% of the population votes in non-presidential election years, and about 50-55% vote in presidential election years. So only half the public bothers to vote for President. Every other election a little more than a third picks the entire House and 1/3 of the Senate. Most people think that voting is enough. It is NOT. I would call it a minimum standard for being a citizen. This is really only half of the way someone can influence how our nation is governed.
The other half of the equation – political parties – is a murky world that we are told is difficult to understand, expensive to participate in, and boring with no reward. There is a reason we are told this lie. Those who control the political parties have a vested interest in maintaining control of them. With a larger number of people involved, it becomes more difficult to control who runs for office, who receives campaign support including both financial support and volunteer help, and what agenda is served. Let me be clear:
Political parties are a tool to win elections.
On the night of April 18, 1775, 700 British soldiers marched through the night and into the morning of the 19th, on their way to confiscate and destroy American guns and military supplies in Concord, Massachusetts.
The Patriots were prepared.
The Colonists had known of the planned confiscation for weeks in advance, and were alerted by Paul Revere that the hour was nigh. Having waited through the night at the Buckman Tavern, just across from the Lexington Green, the soldiers were prepared when the British arrived at the break of dawn.
Speaking of Paul Revere, there is a lovely statue in Boston's North End of Revere on his horse. In the background, you can see the Old North Church, where the lanterns were hung -- 'One if by land, two if by sea' -- to warn the colonists of the impending British invasion:
Hey guys, I started a new little fun blog/slideshow at Postcards from the Revolution.
Boston, where I live, was a pivotal place in America's first revolution, and everywhere are markers of that historic period. I have a feeling my days here in the Northeast are numbered, and so I wanted to document what have been my stomping grounds for the past 7 years, as much for myself as anything. All of the pictures on the blog are within a short walk or drive from my home. As such, I see them daily, and they have become as much a part of me as anything. When I see these monuments and reminders, I am touched with a profound feeling of what has happened here long before me, and made my way of life possible.
Without further ado, here is a picture I snapped yesterday, and short post I wrote about it this morning:
What happens when you're too old to run? You stand your ground and keep shooting.
The memorial pictured below at 181 Washington Street in Somerville MA, just down the hill from America's First Flag, serves as a reminder of the great courage that built this country: