Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

RATIONING MEDICAL CARE

July 12, 2010

RATIONING MEDICAL CARE

Our resources are limited. We have to make choices, to get the things we want most with our limited resources. That is rationing. Individually, we must make these choices within our individual resources.

With insurance, we pool our risks with others to provide for occasional extreme expenses. We pay regular premiums, spreading out the cost of major calamities over time and among a group of people within the same insurance program.

Back in the 1930s, medical insurance was rare, if it existed at all. When a medical emergency arose, we went to the County Hospital, supported by local taxes. The quality of care was not the best. I have a stiff elbow to show for it.

I take a dim view of any involvement of government in medical insurance. At the very least, it will add a level of bureaucratic inefficiency to the costs of medical care. At the worst, it will just reduce even more of whatever freedom is left in the medical care market. Say what they may, government involvement means medical care rationing driven by political considerations.

I believe the greatest problem with our medical care is the monopoly (granted by government) which enables the AMA to limit the supply of doctors, and to set rules by which doctors must treat patients. The result is not health care but rather medical care, suppressing symptoms by prescribing drugs. Prevention and cure are not part of the system.

A secondary problem is the close relationship of the AMA, the drug companies, and the FDA, which results in millions of routine prescriptions for expensive, ineffective, unsafe drugs. Prime examples are bisphosphonates, statins, and coumadin.

Providing by law for universal health care insurance will automatically assure that only AMA approved procedures will be covered by insurance. All existing health insurance already does that, but universal health insurance will even eliminate the option to pay as you go for your own health care. Of course, the automatic result of any socialist scheme like universal medical care is to reduce our freedom.

Insurance is an obvious solution to protect yourself from huge occasional unforeseen medical bills. On the other hand, insuring to cover routine office visits and checkups simply adds bookkeeping costs and red tape to your medical expense.

Pay as you go for health care forces you to make economic choices. The result is that you would spend less than you do under full medical insurance. You do your own rationing, according to your own priorities. Doctors and insurance companies prefer the full medical coverage; they earn more that way, and you and I pay for it.

Britain has its own version of universal health care. Through the years the government has tried many ways to limit the ballooning cost. Ultimately, as in Canada, the most effective rationing is the waiting list. When I lived in Britain, in 1999, I needed a knee replacement. The waiting list for that was 20 months. Fortunately, I had private health insurance and had it done immediately.

I feel that total medical insurance coverage, plus the conviction that “doctor knows best”, plus the conviction that the USA has the best health care system in the world, relieves us of responsibility for our own health. We fall in with the medical notion that sickness just happens, regardless of nutrition and lifestyle, and only an M.D. can fix it.

Take charge of your health. Invest some time and effort to learn about, and get, good nutrition. Get up from your couch and TV long enough to get some healthy exercise. Find one of those rare doctors who offer real health care and can see beyond their prescription pad. If you take out medical insurance, take the plan with the maximum deductible and co-pay to keep the incentive to look after your own health.

INTERVENTION

June 24, 2010

INTERVENTION

Why does our Government insist on tinkering with the free market economy? Don’t they trust us to handle our own affairs? Or is it just lust for power and wealth? Politicians have certainly increased their power through the years, ignoring all the limitations on Government power written into the U.S. Constitution. Politicians are also under pressure from lobbyists, pressure groups, and campaign contributors to intervene in the economy in their favor, or to support their pet projects.

But Government has really botched all interventions intended to improve our economic affairs. First, what they do to the economy violates our freedoms. Moreover, they never succeed in achieving their stated purpose. And, worse yet, they cause disastrous, unforeseen problems. But worst of all, with each failure, and each resulting problem, instead of backing off, Government blames the free market, and adds more interventions in a vain attempt to fix the problems that the earlier interventions have caused.

The free market gives each person the opportunity to achieve the maximum satisfaction with the means at his disposal. In the free market, every exchange involves two people, and each of them profits by the exchange. Each one has acquired something he wants more than what he gave up.

Any interference with the free market can only inflict a loss on one or both people, either by preventing the exchange, or by forcing it to be made on terms that harm one or both people involved in the trade. Government intervention can only reduce the satisfaction of the people affected.

When intervention blocks people from their own priorities, they will seek other ways to achieve their goals. People are ingenious at solving problems, and many will find unforeseen ways to get around these interventions, or to use the interventions in unforeseen ways to their own advantage. Many others will soon follow suit. Unfortunately, those who try to control the destiny of others always fail to foresee this. They always underestimate the ingenuity of man.

DEMOCRACY ISN’T FREEDOM

June 21, 2010

DEMOCRACY ISN’T FREEDOM

We frequently hear the terms, democracy and freedom, used as if they were inseparable, or even synonymous. Certainly, democracy is a step away from monarchy. But remember, Adolph Hitler was democratically elected to run Germany. Democracy is no guarantee of freedom.

Freedom is minimal restraint on your choice to do anything you want in any way you want. The minimal restraint prohibits using theft, fraud, or violence against others, to assure maximum and equal freedom for all.

Democracy is a means of governing a group. Decisions are made by majority vote of the voters, which may or may not include all members of the group. Democracy can give a majority the power to tyrannize the minority. Unless all members are voters, a minority of members can tyrannize all others in the group.

To quote once again Ludwig Von Mises; “Government is the negation of freedom”.

Under freedom, voluntary members of a group may practice democracy. Within a democracy, freedom lives or dies at the whim of the voters.

So what is the best form of government? There are good arguments in favor of monarchy. So long as there is a real likelihood that dissatisfied subjects may depose the king, he will feel the need to allow maximum freedom to his subjects. Kings have learned that contented subjects are the best source of taxes to support the monarchy.

However, a king, wanting to secure his power, can do so by building a loyal power base, by granting lands (and peasants or serfs) to a hierarchy of loyal lords, and by granting monopolies (Guilds) to merchants, bankers, and tradesmen. Soon, instead of just the royal family to support, the king’s subjects are groaning under the burden of supporting a huge aristocracy and greedy guilds.
A dictator may be voted into power, but then his first priority will be to perpetuate that power. That’s why it’s not good enough to choose good men to rule us; power not only corrupts, but it is also addictive.

Let’s face it; government is the negation of freedom. Government is the enemy of freedom. If we want freedom, we must either invent a form of government which has no power, or abandon government altogether. We must seriously think about anarchy, how to establish it, and how to make it work.

For those who do not want liberty, for whatever reason, and feel that some form of government, or some set of laws, or some enlightened rulers can build a utopia, nirvana, or paradise on earth, by all means subject yourself to such a government. But leave the rest of us free; don’t try to rule over or tax us or our land or property. We’re busy making freedom work. But first, we must find ways to escape from existing governments

ISLAM VS FREEDOM

June 13, 2010

ISLAM VS FREEDOM

One thing I cannot tolerate is intolerance. I can confidently say that the USA has done a good job of teaching people how to mingle and do business with people of other beliefs, religions, and cultures. I grew up immersed in this culture of tolerance. I see a lot of common fundamental values among different cultures and religions. The common bond among Americans is the desire for freedom and equal rights for all.

There is one way that we can reject this freedom and those rights to people, by denying certain groups the status of human beings. We all do this to children, because they are incapable of independent survival. The matter of the change of status from child to adult is a gray area perhaps never to be fully resolved.

Slavery of Blacks in America was justified in this way. People had to think of them as subhuman in order to live with their slavery. Slavery for millennia before that was justified simply by: “You lost the war; you are the spoils of war and my property”.

Women have been denied equal rights for millennia among many different cultures. Giving women the vote and the right to hold leadership positions is relatively recent in most cultures. Yet I find the status of women in Islam to be beyond toleration.

Under Islam a girl is born the property of her father until he sells her to her husband. She is the property of her husband until he dies or casts her off. She has no choice in this, no freedom at any time, and no more rights than any inanimate object that he owns. Her owner can freely subject her to any kind of abuse. She can be executed if she tries to escape.

I haven’t read a word of the Koran. My information is all second hand, although I did observe the selling off of daughters by a Pakistani family, a neighbor when I lived in Scotland. If you think I’ve got it wrong, please post a comment.

I don’t think it’s my business, or the business of my country, to try to change this, unless it happens within our country. But we should be ready to offer refuge to any woman who dares to escape from such bondage.

SOCIALISM AND THE FREE MARKET

June 12, 2010

SOCIALISM AND THE FREE MARKET
The free market and socialism are not totally incompatible. It’s true that a free market cannot exist legally under a socialist government. That’s what they call a black market. However, socialist countries usually do have a black market and probably would soon collapse without it. This is because socialist bureaucrats do a really dismal job of trying to achieve what the free market does so well; the assignment of the available labor, materials, and capital to efficiently satisfy the wants of consumers. That’s what economics is all about.

What I say about socialism applies equally to all of its variants: communism, socialism, fascism, the welfare state, and others. The differences between them are more a matter of degree than of principle.

Socialism can exist within a free market. The oldest form of commune, the family, has always been an essential tool of survival. Communes of any size can exist legally within a free market system, provided only that membership in the commune is voluntary. However, the larger a commune becomes the less efficient and the more dictatorial it becomes. Only strong bonds of family, tradition, or religion can hold it together.

A commune within a free market system soon reveals its inefficiency by its poverty in contrast with the prosperity of the people in the free market. This strains the bonds binding the commune together, and hastens its eventual collapse.

The solution for socialism is to completely isolate the commune from the outside world. Thus after WW2, the Russian empire (The USSR) proceeded to block all contact with the rest of the world. Winston Churchill put it aptly, “An iron curtain has fallen across Europe”.

All Russian soldiers who had contacted Europeans during the war, even if only in combat, were sent off to labor camps in Siberia, quarantined there until they had been decontaminated of any possible negative thoughts about communism. For decades the Soviet leaders tried to hide from their people their poverty in contrast with the prosperity of the rest of the Western world. Now the USSR has collapsed and Russia has adopted what might best be described as a “corporate welfare state”.

Meanwhile, the USA has become an ever-expanding welfare state with politicians buying votes, and gaining campaign contributions, by granting privilege and power to assorted special interest groups. Why do we so easily sell our votes? Do voters realize that they are being bought? Do they care?

Do they all believe that somehow each of them can get more out of the pot than they put in? (That’s impossible). Those who do get more out than they put in are parasites. The rest of us are their victims. This is theft, not a free market exchange, where each party profits by the exchange.

Government budget bills are always loaded with amendments submitted by congressmen to allot some money for some project which will benefit the people of their particular congressional districts. This is called the “Pork Barrel”. This is how your congressman tries to buy your votes. He has no trouble getting his amendment inserted in the budget bill. It’s an unwritten agreement among all congressmen; “you vote for my bit and I’ll vote for yours”.

I suspect that most of the public goes to the polls uninformed, except for the sound bites repeated over and over on TV, and paid for by campaign contributions from the corporate and special interest groups. If we are that careless about our votes, perhaps we deserve to be taxed for the benefit of these parasites.

The men who produced our Constitution imagined informed voters electing wise, public spirited men to represent them in Congress. What we got instead must have shocked them. How do you remove such corruption from government? Power is what creates corruption. Is it possible to create a government without power? Free market anarchy is the only answer I can see. If you can think of something better, please add your comment to this blog.

WHY ECONOMICS?

June 11, 2010

WHY ECONOMICS?

You may have heard economics called “the dismal science”. Whatever exposure you may have had to economics in school or in the news, it probably seemed complicated, weird, or boring. There are good reasons for this. Certainly talk about finance is complicated, full of specialized jargon, and confusing.

Perhaps that is partly camouflage to cover the fact that finance is credit which is legalized counterfeiting. Counterfeiting is robbery of the stealthiest sort. I was shocked when I recognized that simple truth. If you understood that, you might rebel. That’s why it is important to understand economics. It’s all about our freedom.

There are 2 major (and many minor) schools of economic theory, all wrapped in very scholastic language and style, with even more jargon. You can read all about it, with a huge dictionary at your elbow, trying to learn this new language as you go. My goal is to reduce economics to plain, simple English. Economics is something we all practice every day, so, without knowing it, we already understand a very big part of economics.

One of the 2 main Economic theories is that of John Maynard Keynes, usually called Keynesian economics. It is only concerned with the guidance for government in managing all of the economic activities of a nation. Its main concern is how to control the money supply in hopes of achieving eternal prosperity, and simultaneously enable the stealth tax to finance the growing power of government. The control of the money supply requires control of the banking system through a central bank. In the USA that’s the Federal Reserve System.

Trying to make sense of Keynes’s theory might drive you mad, because basically, it doesn’t make sense. Yet it is still the economic mainstream, because it so perfectly fills the goals of governments of all kinds.

The other main theory is called Austrian because it was pieced together in Austria over 100 years ago. Now, it seems there are “Austrians” (economists) everywhere but in Austria, and mostly in America. Austrian economics is the economics of the free market.

The difference between Keynesian economics and Austrian economics is the choice between government control and freedom.

The message of this Blog is just this; if your government has no respect for private property, then it really owns everything you own, including you, your income, and all your worldly possessions. Without economic freedom, all other freedoms are meaningless.

If you value freedom, you need to understand economics to realize just how unfree you are. With understanding, we can regain the freedom which we wrested from King George in the Revolutionary War.

GUILDS AND UNIONS

May 17, 2010

GUILDS AND UNIONS
Guilds and unions are necessary to assure the quality of workmanship, or so they have always told us.
In the middle ages, the Guilds were associations of tradesmen. Goldsmiths, blacksmiths, leather tanners, etc, all self employed, banded together to exclude new competitors, hold down the wages of their employees, and maintain uniformly high prices for their products and services.
A guildsman had no incentive to maintain high quality, or improve his quality, as that would be seen as an attempt to compete against his fellow Guildsmen.
Guilds were government creations. They were granted a charter by the King.
Their nearest equivalent today might be the American Medical Association, which over a hundred years ago was empowered by the government to qualify medical teaching schools and license medical doctors. These powers were sufficient to limit the supply of doctors, stifle competition among them, and control what they learned.
The result is that those who are licensed to practice medicine need not compete. They have little incentive to provide their best efforts. Their monopoly enables them to make buckets of money, so medical expenses take up a very large slice of our income.
Unions a century ago had no political power, so they used violence and intimidation to establish monopolies and extract higher wages, supposedly from their employers, but in effect from the consumers.
In the course of the 20th century, unions gained political power, so the coercive force of government enabled them to limit competition and extract higher wages. But union members feel no incentive to provide their best efforts. At times they intimidate those who do their best because it shows up their own careless attitude. Their pay is set according to their job description and seniority, and competence and effort won’t improve their pay.

EXPERIMENTS IN ANARCHY

May 10, 2010

Experiments in Anarchy
Libertarians and Anarchists have dandy ideas about ways we can live without government. I doubt that many people will take them or their ideas seriously until these ideas have been tried and proved workable. So I propose an experiment to test their theories.
How to start? The first need is a place to conduct this experiment, a place free from the control of any government. I wouldn’t suggest a revolution or a war of conquest. So someone with money should buy some land, free and clear of any government control or taxation. It should be big enough to build a small economy, preferably with some ocean frontage to permit free trade with the outside world. Then sell off parcels of land, free of any external control.
I can see only one precondition necessary to assure freedom for all. A strip of land around each parcel should be left as common property to allow an access route from any parcel to any other parcel. This commons, of course, would need some sort of government, representing all landowners, to assure free access, and to lease out the common land to one or more corporations to install and maintain streets and highways.
Some anarchists believe that streets and highways, too, should be privately owned. That could be another experiment.
Now proceed with your experiments. See what works and what doesn’t.

MONETARY REFORM

April 30, 2010

Monetary Reform
Gold was long ago chosen by the free market, by the people, as the best money. The gold standard is a convenient way to use gold as money. This means honest banknotes (no counterfeits) and token coins in circulation, redeemable at any time in gold at face value. Face value should be stated not in discredited units like dollars, pounds sterling, francs or yen, but in ounces or grams of gold.
Banking adds convenience to the gold standard, with checks and electronic transfers for convenient payment. Honest banking would mean simply enabling easy transfer of ownership of gold from one person to another, and acting as go-between for loans of gold.
How do we get from here to there?
Many economists have proposed assorted schemes to return to the gold standard. Most of them require either the co-operation or overthrow of the government. I see no chance of any government depriving itself of the power to use us with fiat currency. Therefore, I propose a free market re-creation of a gold standard, in free competition with government currency. Here’s how I see this happening.
First, get the message to the people- they are being cheated and manipulated through the stealth tax and the government control of the money supply. Their votes are needed to force the government to give up the monopoly in the money business. This would not force the government to quit the money business; it would simply require them to compete.
Next, repeal any laws that prohibit trade and contracts in other currencies. This would make it legal to buy, sell, lend, and make contracts (loans, insurance, annuities, mortgages, etc) in any currency, including, of course, gold.
Make it legal and easy to buy back our gold from the government at the free market price.
With this freedom, the market could provide us with an honest currency, with private banks and private mints dealing in gold coins, subsidiary token coins and bills.
Can we trust these private individuals to deal honestly with us? Not entirely. However, we won’t do business with private, competing banks and mints unless they give ironclad guarantees, and develop a reputation for honesty. They have to earn our trust, as any business operating in the free market has to earn our trust. An easy route to trust would be Insurance contracts that guarantee the safety of our deposits. The insurance company would have an excellent motive to detect and eliminate any cheating.
If banks don’t abide by their contractual obligations, we, or the insurance company, can bring them to justice and try them for fraud. That’s just what we can’t do to government, and that’s why we can’t trust government with our money.
There is no telling just how such a system might evolve. The free market is forever surprising us with new ideas. It could well give us an honest currency and an end to the boom and bust cycle. I would expect banks to evolve explicit contracts on the terms for withdrawing funds, such as advance notification for larger withdrawals, and deposit insurance (but not by government) as a guarantee against fraud or failure.

Labor Unions

April 26, 2010

Unions
I have disapproved of unions since before I ever started working. First, I disapproved of their coercive nature; they used intimidation and violence. Second, a union is a commons, which subjects the individual to the will of the majority. Third, unions insist on uniform pay depending on job classification, without regard to effort or results. I instinctively felt that employment should be a freely chosen contract between an individual employee and his employer, and pay should be awarded on the basis of employee effectiveness, with competition between employees and between employers.
Later, my earliest encounters with unions added to my disapproval. I was beset by threatening union pickets when I crossed picket lines for job interviews. I was denied part-time jobs by unions when I tried to work my way through college. When I finally got a job as a junior engineer, I was forced to pay union dues to keep my job. Then my wage was frozen for more than a year while the union negotiated with management to determine my pay.
Until the New Deal of the 1930s, union violence was winked at by government. With the enactment of labor legislation in the 1930s, the government provided the coercion to force companies to accept and negotiate with unions. A labor union is now a government granted monopoly with little protection for the rights of individual workers or for the employers. There is now no freedom in the labor market except in companies where the workers overwhelmingly reject unionization.