Robin Koerner's blog
"Liberty is not the beginning and the end. Before I believed in liberty, I believed in Love and Truth."
This is the speech I gave at the Republican Liberty Caucus of Washington State Annual Convention. It may be the most important I have given to date.
In Love and Liberty, Robin (Blue Republican)
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.
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.
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.
The only British political party that describes itself as libertarian is the United Kingdom Independence Party, or "UKIP". Twenty years ago, it did not exist. Today, it has the support of anywhere between 7 percent and 14 percent of the British electorate. This rise from non-existence to a force in British politics so powerful that even the mainstream media have begun to identify it as the biggest threat to the governing Conservative party is all the more remarkable because the majority of the British electorate doesn't actually know what the word "libertarian" means.
In interviewing Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President, I was following the advice of Ron Paul, who recently stated, "[Gary Johnson] is wonderful, and I think he's doing a good job, and I think people should look at him, and every individual should make up their own mind."
A curious thing about Johnson’s candidacy is that if you are not a libertarian – but you are liberal who believes in basic civil rights, the right to due process, personal privacy, an unregulated Internet, a peaceful foreign policy, marriage equality, and an end to crony corporatism and pro-wall street policy making, for example, then Johnson – not Obama - is much closer to you on policy, but you’ll probably vote for Obama. Similarly, if you are a conservative who believes in the Constitution, small government, free markets, balanced budgets and the Fed out of huge areas of your personal and economic life that could be better handled by yourself or even the States, then Johnson – not Romney – is much closer to you on policy, but you’ll probably vote for Romney.
If you do vote for Romney or Obama, you probably have no clue who Gary Johnson is.
In California, an incumbent Congresswoman, who has voted for the indefinite detention of citizens without trial (NDAA) and the surveillance state (Patriot Act, etc.), is expecting the voters of her district to return her to office. She does not believe that Americans should enjoy their fourth amendment right to privacy or their fifth amendment right to due process. She voted for corporate bailouts but against auditing the Fed to allow the American people to know which huge financial corporations (foreign and domestic) have benefited from the secret actions of our central bank.
One of the most troublesome developments for Americans who like Democracy is the rise of the "top-two-go-through" voting system. America's political system is already rigged to ensure that Democrat or Republican partisans always win, but this new voting system is set to make things even worse.
Under this new system, a primary election is held among all candidates (of whatever party) for a particular office. Only the two who receive the most and second-most votes may compete in the "general election".
In a nation with a healthy multi-party democracy, a case can be made for such a voting system, but in a political duopoly such as exists in the USA, maintained by federal laws that protect that duopoly against ballot access and media access by others, such a system is pro-Establishment and anti-Democratic. It ensures that even insurgent non-Republicrat candidates are excluded from general elections, and prevents their ideas from being presented to the electorate.
The simple "most-votes-wins" system at least allows a strong third-party or Independent candidate to force the "major" Republican or Democratic candidates (his opponents) to campaign hard to secure a win against the potential "spoiler" effect of an Independent's pulling enough votes from the Republican (Democrat) to let the Democrat (Republican) win. In contrast, the new "first-two-go-through" system allows the dominant party in very red or very blue districts to fill both slots on the ballot, securing the seat for the party without having to spend even a dime to compete with anyone else.
A better name for such a system might be, "The Establishment Always Wins".
Over the last year, many of Paul’s supporters have claimed that the GOP can’t win without them. That’s either a threat or a promise. As any parent knows, neither should be made emptily.
Following all of the shenanigans against them throughout the Primary season, and the RNC’s decision in Tampa to alienate them completely, Paul’s supporters have been considering how to vote in November.
Although most of them would like nothing more than to write his name in, they know that in most states, such write-in votes would not be counted, so as a statement of principle or protest, they would be rather ineffective, however satisfying they’d be to cast.
Therefore, I recently polled the 13,000-strong community of Blue Republicans, all Ron Paul supporters, to find out for whom they intended to vote for President.
An overwhelming 66% said they would be voting for Gary Johnson – the Libertarian candidate who shall be the only candidate other than Obama and Romney on the ballot in every state (absent yet more GOP mafia tactics). Sixteen (16) percent will be writing in Ron Paul, even though most don’t expect their vote to be counted, and Romney will attract the votes of a negligible 6%. (Margin of error +/-4%.)
These results may have serious implications for November’s election and signal the real possibly of an exciting shift in the trajectory of American politics.
In all fields of human endeavor, winning by cheating is losing.
In a competition, when someone cheats, he gets disqualified. The disqualification does not make the runner-up the winner. Rather, it reveals that the man who appeared to be the runner-up had in fact been the winner all along.
In the race for the GOP nomination for President, therefore, Ron Paul won.
As the New York Times wrote yesterday,
Delegates from Nevada tried to nominate Mr. Paul from the floor, submitting petitions from their own state as well as Minnesota, Maine, Iowa, Oregon, Alaska and the Virgin Islands. That should have done the trick: Rules require signatures from just five states. But the party changed the rules on the spot. Henceforth, delegates must gather petitions from eight states.
When Mr. Romney and the RNC cheat so blatantly, they make the game no longer about politics: they make themselves ineligible for the vote of anyone who cares about his own morality, his own honesty or his own integrity – regardless of his politics. And from a purely practical standpoint, they invite Americans to ask if they want to live in a nation governed with the same contempt for those who don’t toe the party line as has been displayed both in Tampa and throughout the primary process.
But as a Ron Paul supporter, I can’t remember feeling so invigorated and empowered in my cause.
In the 1960s, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, then the French Minister of Finance, coined the term "exorbitant privilege" to refer to the special benefits enjoyed by the USA by virtue of the fact that it is the issuer of the world's reserve currency.
Most Americans remain largely unaware of what these short-term benefits are and the long-term fall for which they have set us up.
On Friday last, Warren Buffett's right-hand man and Berkshire Hathaway's vice chairman, Charles Munger, told CNBC, "Gold is a great thing to sew into your garments if you're a Jewish family in Vienna in 1939," "but I think civilized people don't buy gold; they invest in productive businesses."
The newest and fastest growing political grouping in the USA is driven by the idea that the problems that are facing the nation today have been caused not just by the Left wing or the Right wing, but by the mainstream of both parties, which have for years been eliminating our civil rights, sponsoring and benefiting from a crony corporatist economic system, and operating a militaristic foreign policy, seemingly to the benefit of a military industrial complex more than that to the benefit of the nation.
This growing group of anti-Republicrats are mostly young people who’ve been educating themselves about their nation and its workings – rather than relying on the typically dull mainstream media that continue to filter events through the mistaken ideas that the Democrats and Republicans have fundamentally different political perspectives, and that on any particular issue, one of the parties will know the best political direction for the nation.
In 2012, most of these post-partisan Americans who say to America’s political duopoly, “Pox on both your houses”, are supporting Ron Paul for president, even though very many of them have never before identified Republican.