Monthly Archives: July 2007

Monday Open Thread: Socialist Atrocity News Day

Hey guys… I always manage to stir it up whenever I talk about Venezuela and the fact that Chavez is slowly destroying the underpinnings of a free society in his bid for dictatorial control.

But with work, and a baby on the way, and dreams of opening a brewery dancing through my head, I don’t have much time for “research”.

So what do you guys have? Any links of any stupid anti-freedom policies by socialists? What’s going on in the world that readers of this blog need to know about?

This can be about any socialist country, Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe, even Ecuador (still in early stages), France, etc. Even some American politicians may be worth including in this.

People Want Big Brother To Watch Them

At least that’s what a recent ABC News poll seems to suggest:

Crime-fighting beats privacy in public places: Americans, by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, support the increased use of surveillance cameras — a measure decried by some civil libertarians, but credited in London with helping to catch a variety of perpetrators since the early 1990s.

Given the chief arguments, pro and con — a way to help solve crimes vs. too much of a government intrusion on privacy — it isn’t close: 71 percent of Americans favor the increased use of surveillance cameras, while 25 percent oppose it.

London’s surveillance network, known as the “Ring of Steel,” is said to have aided in the capture of suspects, including those accused of a pair of attempted car bombings in June.

A similar system is coming to New York City, which plans 100 new surveillance cameras in downtown Manhattan by year’s end and 3,000 — public and private — by 2010. Chicago and Baltimore plan expanded surveillance systems as well.

And, apparently, to a city near you soon after that.

Single-Payer Health Care: A View From The Inside

A Canadian Doctor provides a fascinating, and for anyone who cares about freedom, troubling, inside view of the kind of medical system that Hillary, Barack, and Michael Moore would like to bring to America:

I was once a believer in socialized medicine. As a Canadian, I had soaked up the belief that government-run health care was truly compassionate. What I knew about American health care was unappealing: high expenses and lots of uninsured people.

My health care prejudices crumbled on the way to a medical school class. On a subzero Winnipeg morning in 1997, I cut across the hospital emergency room to shave a few minutes off my frigid commute.

Swinging open the door, I stepped into a nightmare: the ER overflowed with elderly people on stretchers, waiting for admission. Some, it turned out, had waited five days. The air stank with sweat and urine. Right then, I began to reconsider everything that I thought I knew about Canadian health care.

But that’s just the beginning, consider this:

Government researchers now note that more than 1.5 million Ontarians (or 12% of that province’s population) can’t find family physicians. Health officials in one Nova Scotia community actually resorted to a lottery to determine who’d get a doctor’s appointment.

These problems are not unique to Canada — they characterize all government-run health care systems.

Consider the recent British controversy over a cancer patient who tried to get an appointment with a specialist, only to have it canceled — 48 times. More than 1 million Britons must wait for some type of care, with 200,000 in line for longer than six months. In France, the supply of doctors is so limited that during an August 2003 heat wave — when many doctors were on vacation and hospitals were stretched beyond capacity — 15,000 elderly citizens died. Across Europe, state-of-the-art drugs aren’t available. And so on.

And yet, here in the United States, we are being told by the elites that it is the Canadian, and British, and European, health care systems that we need to emulate.

I don’t know about you, but if the cost of government run health care is having to wait for necessary surgery and people dying because there aren’t enough hospital beds, something you never hear of happening in the United States by the way, then I, for one, am not willing to pay the price.

Unfortunately, the media, aided and abetted by the Democratic candidates for President and propagandists like Michael Moore, never tell you about the costs of government run health care. And, they also never tell you about just how good we have it here:

One often-heard argument, voiced by the New York Times’ Paul Krugman and others, is that America lags behind other countries in crude health outcomes. But such outcomes reflect a mosaic of factors, such as diet, lifestyle, drug use and cultural values. It pains me as a doctor to say this, but health care is just one factor in health.

Americans live 75.3 years on average, fewer than Canadians (77.3) or the French (76.6) or the citizens of any Western European nation save Portugal. Health care influences life expectancy, of course. But a life can end because of a murder, a fall or a car accident. Such factors aren’t academic — homicide rates in the U.S. are much higher than in other countries.

In The Business of Health, Robert Ohsfeldt and John Schneider factor out intentional and unintentional injuries from life-expectancy statistics and find that Americans who don’t die in car crashes or homicides outlive people in any other Western country.

And if we measure a health care system by how well it serves its sick citizens, American medicine excels. Five-year cancer survival rates bear this out. For leukemia, the American survival rate is almost 50%; the European rate is just 35%. Esophageal carcinoma: 12% in the U.S., 6% in Europe. The survival rate for prostate cancer is 81.2% here, yet 61.7% in France and down to 44.3% in England — a striking variation.

Yes, there are plenty of things wrong with health care in America. Most of them, I would submit, are attributable to unnecessary government regulation and the existence of a health-care insurance system, encouraged by tax subsidies, which hides the true cost of much routine health care from consumers. In other words, while America is thankfully far from the socialized mess of Canada, Britain, and Europe, there still isn’t a truly free market in health care in this country.

Until that happens, things will continue to be screwed up.

Cities Sue Gangs To Keep Them From Congregating

You know, I read this headline:

Cities sue gangs in bid to stop violence

And I immediately thought “wow, civil suits against gangs would be a novel concept, and an interesting test of anarcho-capitalist theory!” Instead of trying to meet the standard of evidence to put them in jail, which is typically a very difficult thing, suing them monetarily due to the harm they inflict on the community might actually make a difference. Of course, it wouldn’t do nearly as much to end their damage as ending drug prohibition, but I can guarantee that suing them for their drug profits would be a lot less of a “rite of passage” as the first time a gang member gets sent up the river. Plus, it would be much more honest theft than the taxes they extract from us.

Nope, it’s just the equivalent of suing them to create a restraining order to keep them apart from one another:

Fed up with deadly drive-by shootings, incessant drug dealing and graffiti, cities nationwide are trying a different tactic to combat gangs: They’re suing them.

Fort Worth and San Francisco are among the latest to file lawsuits against gang members, asking courts for injunctions barring them from hanging out together on street corners, in cars or anywhere else in certain areas.

The injunctions are aimed at disrupting gang activity before it can escalate. They also give police legal reasons to stop and question gang members, who often are found with drugs or weapons, authorities said. In some cases, they don’t allow gang members to even talk to people passing in cars or to carry spray paint.

“It is another tool,” said Kevin Rousseau, a Tarrant County assistant prosecutor in Fort Worth, which recently filed its first civil injunction against a gang. “This is more of a proactive approach.”

The injunctions prohibit gang members from associating with each other, carrying weapons, possessing drugs, committing crimes and displaying gang symbols in a safety zone — neighborhoods where suspected gang members live and are most active. Some injunctions set curfews for members and ban them from possessing alcohol in public areas — even if they’re of legal drinking age.

So government declares you to be a “gang member” or a “suspected gang member”, and slap a laundry list of restrictions on you. Ahh well, at least they’re not being sent to Gitmo, right?

Doesn’t anyone wonder that we’re treating the symptom, not the disease? What gives gangs their power? It’s very simple, when you have a black market, you actually help those who are willing to illegally supply that market. The drug war hasn’t stopped drugs, and it’s actually created gangs. And now, the government is fighting an unwinnable, ridiculously expensive two-front war against the pair.

Fred Thompson — Federalist?

I’m pulling for Ron Paul, but I have to have a question in the back of my mind. If Ron Paul doesn’t get the nomination, should I vote Republican or Libertarian in 2008? The question comes down to this: “Is there anyone other than Ron Paul in the Republican field that I want to vote for, instead of just voting against Democrats?”

Since I live in California, the question is largely academic. California isn’t in danger of being a close state in the general election, so I have to vote for principle. I’ve already ruled out Giuliani, McCain, and I’m already leaning against Romney. But I know very little about Fred Thompson.

I received an email from Jon Henke, one of the bloggers from QandO, who is a Fred Thompson supporter. The email contained the last two paragraphs of this post, making me think that perhaps Fred Thompson believed in the same strain of federalism that I do:

A good first step would be to codify the Executive Order on Federalism first signed by President Ronald Reagan. That Executive Order, first revoked by President Clinton, then modified to the point of uselessness, required agencies to respect the principle of the Tenth Amendment when formulating policies and implementing the laws passed by Congress. It preserved the division of responsibilities between the states and the federal government envisioned by the Framers of the Constitution. It was a fine idea that should never have been revoked. The next president should put it right back in effect, and see to it that the rightful authority of state and local governments is respected.

It is not enough to say that we are “for” federalism, because in today’s world it is not always clear what that means. What we are “for” is liberty for our citizens. Federalism divides power between the states and government in Washington. It is a tool to promote freedom. How we draw the line between federal and state roles in this century, and how we stay true to the principles of federalism for the purpose of protecting economic and individual freedom are questions we must answer. Our challenge – meaning the federal government, the states, our communities and constituents – is to answer these questions together.

Sounds pretty good, no? But when I read the whole think, I started to backtrack on that…

First, he points out that federalism creates 50 little “laboratories” across America, where different ideas can be tested out. Unfortunately, he first points out how wonderful it was that we could take those different ideas and start standardizing them across our entire nation:

A good example of this early in my Senate service was welfare reform. We were warned that terrible things would happen if we went forward with a bill – a fundamental commitment would be abandoned and, among state governments, a “race to the bottom” would begin.

But key to our approach were elements of welfare reform that had proved successful in various states, such as Colorado, Michigan and Wisconsin. The result was a law that allowed us to better meet our commitments to our fellow citizens. It was one of the great political successes of the 1990’s, because Washington – for once – had the good sense to learn from state and local authorities and empower them in return.

I’ll give him half a pass on this one. After all, one can make the argument that the welfare reform bill was an improvement over what existed, and federalism did assist to make that more efficient. However, Thompson doesn’t make the argument that welfare should be a state matter from the beginning, he argues that the federal government learned from federalism. Allowing states to compete ensures continually improving efficiency of future programs, codifying the results of past competition and keeping power in federal hands doesn’t prepare for the future.

But another point is just inexcusable. He again suggests that federalism might help efficiency of the federal government, but then states that the funding must remain in Washington’s hands. How does the guy who fondly references Ronald Reagan’s executive order leave out the fact that Reagan campaigned on the promise to abolish the federal Department of Education, and then suggest that the feds have a responsibility to fund education?

Perhaps the clearest example of federal over-involvement in state and local responsibilities is public education. It’s the classic case of how the federal government buys authority over state and local matters with tax-payer money and ends up squandering both the authority and the money while imposing additional burdens on states.

It is appropriate for the federal government to provide funding and set goals for the state to meet in exchange for that funding. However, it is not a good idea for the federal government to specifically set forth the means to be used in order to reach those goals. Adherence to this principle would make for fewer bureaucracies, fewer regulations, and less expense, while promoting educational achievement. There are bills pending in Congress that would move us in this direction, and I hope Congress gives them the attention they deserve.

It is appropriate for the feds to provide funding? I thought he was a federalist, and a Constitutionalist. Sure, Thompson can read the Tenth Amendment, but apparently he’s reading between the lines of Article I, Section 8 if he believes that the federal government has a role in local education, whether funding or control. I would remind him that with funding comes control, and that’s one of the biggest reason to sever the funding link, not try to ignore the fact that one follows the other.

Fred Thompson appears to be a federalist in the same way that George W. Bush appears to be a conservative: when it’s politically expedient.

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