Monthly Archives: October 2008

Tarran Votes 2008

In less than a week it will be over; a year and a half of maneuvering, jockeying, speechifying, electioneering and speculating will thankfully draw to a close, and the U.S., which once was a sort of free republic, will crown a new king, who promises to reward the innocent and punish the guilty.

In less than a week the polling places will open, and nice old ladies will ask you your name and your street address, put a line through your name, and hand you a ballot. When you hand it in they will give you a nice sticker that says “I voted”, which like the “You’re a Star!” stickers every student — regardless of his or her performance — gets on quizzes in first grade, makes a big deal out of a meaningless accomplishment.

So why should we bother?  Wouldn’t our time be spent more productively and usefully if we drank a beer while playing pool with our friends, or curled up with a decent book, or gave the loves of our lives a nice back rub?

Why should we show up at a place filled with groups of people carrying signs, glaring at rival groups?  Why should we stand in line, carry our paperwork to a curtained booth, and much like some man furtively watching a peep show at an “adult movie” theatre, call upon some man to be given the power to loot and pillage our neighbors at will, to hand out favors to his friends, and to risk our lives in war?

If we don’t show up, the only people marching into those booths will be people who love the pillagers, who want to egg them on to loot and pillage more thoroughly.  The politicians will look at the totals and conclude that the only way they will acquire power is by promising more taxes, more spending, more jails, more police, more beatings, more prison rape, more death.

If we ignore the polling booths, then the politicians will look at the few thousand votes that were cast, all calling for higher taxes, and conclude that raising taxes isn’t so risky after all.

The system is rotten, intentionally designed to encourage tyranny and to limit the tendency toward freedom.  It is biased against us.  And when we withhold consent by ignoring it, our would-be masters congratulate themselves on their mandates and ability to continue with business as usual.

So I vote.  My vote is statistically insignificant.  Other than the few times I have voted against a  tax increase, my votes generally go into the losing column.  This is not so bad…  the politicians are fractionally less brave because my vote makes them look fractionally less strong.

But who to vote for?

Next week, my ballot will contain the following names for the office of President:
1)Charles Baldwin – Christian Dominionist
2)John McCain – Warmonger
3)Cynthia McKinney – Insane Person
4)Bob Barr – Former Freedom Hater Claiming Road to Damascus Conversion – possibly a Karl Rove Plant
5)Barrack Obama – Economy Wrecker

It is tempting to leave the ballot blank, to quitely vote to decriminalize marijuana posession, do away with the income tax and to vote to permit dog racing to continue, and leave every office blank.

But that would result in a “spoiled” ballot.  In order to accommodate people who might make a mistake in their first attempt to fill out a ballot, in polling places, a person can turn in a “spoiled” ballot and request a new, clean one.  In order to prevent the fraus of having workers stuff the ballot box with those spoiled ballots, the machines that count votes are usually set to ignore ballots that are not completley filled out. Update: This is incorrect. I withdraw this claim.

Luckily, in most places, a voter is given the option of writing in someone who is not listed on the ballot.  Thus, I usually write in None of the Above on my ballot.  The write in votes are considered “unspoiled”, my pro-freedom votes are tallied in the system and occasionally, my votes for freedom are part of a dominant majority on some issue.   Yay!

Of course, if you are stuck in some place with barbaric laws and a government that hates the citizenry (cough cough Oklohoma cough cough) you may not have the option of writing in a name; you must pick people from the list of candidates approved by the state government.  Of course, there you can always vote for the most obscure candidate, and thus express your displeasure.

So how am I going to vote?

I am going to vote as follows:

1) U.S. President:  Bob Barr.

I have long suspected that Bob Barr’s Road to Damascus conversion is not genuine.  However, he is world famous in the United States, and will attract more than a few votes.  As president, while he would be awful, but he has no chance of winning, meaning that he is safe as a protest vote – and for once people will pay attention to the votes he garners as an indication of dissatisfaction to the big government agenda of the dominant parties.  I want to signal to the political classes that I – and several thousand like me – support freedom.

Of course, in doing so, I am committing fraud.  I don’t want to vote for the winning candidate: then all the crimes he commits, the robberies, the destruction of property, the murders are all beign done in my name.  Hopefully, no politician figures that out. ;)

2) U.S. Senate: Robert F Underwood

Mr Underwood is a member of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.  I like the JFPO – they have  a healthy understanding of the what the relationship between the state and the individual should properly be.  That is, they recognize that the government is an attractive tool for homicidal maniacs to fulfill their sick fantasies, and that the citizenry should be in a position to put those maniacs 6 feet underground should it be necessary.  I actually want this guy to win.

3) U.S. House: John Cunningham

Mr Cunningham is a Ron Paul  Republican who wants to repeal the Patriot Act
.  This is, of course, shocking because here in Massachusetts, Republicans tend to be warmongers who love socialism but hate abortion.  While I am not a fan of Ron Paul’s leadership style and have serious reservations about his judgment concerning other people, I love many of his policies.  Even though I hate the Republicans, and swore never to vote for them again, I will be voting for this man;  chalk it up to the erosion of moral standards inherent to politics, or a wise reconsideration of hasty, intemperate remarks.  Whatever floats your boat.  Again, I wouldn’t mind if he won.  The outrage from coworkers over his victory would be reward enough.

Wow!  That takes care of the Federal Races, and no NOTA’s yet!  Luckily, all the state races, with one unopposed Massachusetts Liberal appearing on the ballot will allow me to keep my anarchist street cred.

4) Governor’s Councillor (Approves the governor’s judicial nominees): NOTA

The only candidate approved by the government is a Democrat.  I will be voting None of the Above.

5) State Senator: NOTA

Ditto:

6) State Representative: NOTA

Ditto.

7) Register of Probate: (Administers family court (adoption, paternity, divorce, death etc.)): NOTA

Ditto.

And there we are.  Sorry Democrats.  Perhaps when you start fielding candidates who believe in civil rights, you might get my endorsement.  This year you fielded people who love to tax the little guy and give the money to big business.  Oh, and you support union laws that originally were intended to keep black people from moving into white enclaves in the North.  Plus, I have seen what hyperinflation did to Turkey, and I have no desire to see it happen here.

Ballot Questions:

Question 1:  Should we repeal the Massachusetts Income Tax? Hell Yes!

Question 2:  Should we partially decriminalize marijuana? Well, we should make it completely legal, but hey, I’ll take a small step in the right direction; Yes!

Question 3:  Should we allow Dog Racing in Massachusetts? Dog Racing is a vile, disgusting sport, and I am boycotting it.  But, it’s none of the state’s business what people do to dogs.  Hell No!

And that’s it!

Happy voting come election day!

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.
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The Great Libertarian Purge Of 2008

Over at Reason, Ryan Sager tries to figure out where the libertarians who used to vote for Republicans have gone, and why:

[The] coalition between social conservatives and economic libertarians (who tend to be socially moderate to liberal), served the GOP well from 1964 to 2006. It gave the party eight years of Ronald Reagan and 12 years of a Republican Congress. But the Bush years have proven to be one long pulling apart. And, in a matter of days, we may just see the final snap.

The Cato Institute has done excellent work over the last few years tracking the shift in the libertarian vote—the roughly 10 percent to 15 percent of the American public that can be categorized as fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

Based on an analysis of the American National Election Studies, Cato found that between 2000 and 2004, there was a substantial flight of libertarians away from the Republican Party and toward the Democrats. While libertarians preferred Bush by a margin of 52 points over Al Gore in 2000, that margin shrank to 21 points in 2004, when many libertarians—disaffected by the Iraq war, massive GOP spending increases, and the campaign against gay marriage—switched to John Kerry.

Polling on libertarian voters is somewhat sparse during elections, but there are a couple of data points and some broad trends that can give us an idea of where things stand now. An early October Zogby Interactive poll found that self-identified libertarians (about 6 percent of the poll’s sample) give McCain only 36 percent of their vote, lower than the 45 percent and 42 percent Zogby found them giving Bush in the last two elections. The libertarian voters claim to be defecting mainly to Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr and other third-party candidates, not to Obama. A Gallup poll conducted in September, which identified libertarian-minded voters with a series of ideological questions about the role of government in the economy and society (pegging them at around 23 percent of the electorate), found that only 43 percent of these voters plan pull the lever for McCain, slightly fewer than did for Bush in 2004. The Gallup poll also finds a significant uptick in libertarians planning to vote third-party, with 3.5 percent supporting Barr.

The GOP has lost these libertarian Republicans, Sager asserts, because it has become a one-note party:

Why would libertarians abandon McCain? After all, they believe in low taxes—and McCain is the one promising those. And if they’re concerned about social issues, well, McCain’s never shown much of a stomach for cultural warfare.

That is, of course, until now.

The real McCain, whoever that is or was, may still believe that major swathes of the Religious Right represent “agents of intolerance” in our politics. But he has decided to stake both his election and the Republican Party’s future upon them—from the barely coded racial refrain of “Who is Barack Obama?,” to the rallies with shouts of “terrorist” and “kill him,” to the corrosive choice of pipeline-prayer Sarah Palin as his running mate and heir apparent.

Tax cuts or no tax cuts, a party that can be roused in time of deep crisis only by fear and tribalism—a party that a supposed moderate is now deeding to its most extreme elements—can scarcely serve as a safe home to liberty or the voters who cherish it.

None of this is surprising, of course, because Republicans have been taking the libertarian, fiscally conservative oriented wing of their party for granted for quite some time now. While they pander to the religious right and social conservatives on a regular basis, they have spent the past eight years governing more like Democrats and Republicans and are leaving the nation with the legacy of a $ 10 trillion debt. And then, in what may end up being a grand act of political suicide, they nominate for President a man who clearly doesn’t give a crap about limited government in practice and let him pick a running mate who quite obviously doesn’t know what her job would be if she did manage to become Vice-President.

As Stephen Green notes, one wonders how long the abandonment can continue:

A party can ignore an important segment of swing voters for only so long — four-to-eight-years in the case of most right-leaning libertarians — before they finally become disaffected. Can the Republicans win us back?

Well, I don’t know about other libertarians, but I set the terms of my return back in June:

Time after time, those of us who do believe in limited government, individual liberty, and fiscal responsibility are told that we have to accept the crappy nominees that we’re faced with “for the good of the party.”

Well, you know what ? I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of accepting the idea that politicians who have demonstrated time after time that they aren’t going to fulfill the promises they make should be re-elected to office. I’m sick of having Presidential candidates like Bob Dole, George W. Bush, and John McCain shoved down my throat. And, I’m sick of being told to vote for the lesser of two evils.

That’s why, when November comes along, I’m voting for Bob Barr for President, or I won’t be voting for President at all. When it comes to lesser offices, I’ll vote for candidates who actually believe in limited government and free markets regardless of which party they belong to.

The Republican Party can have my vote back when, and if, they earn it.

And they can start earning it by nominating candidates who will actually follow some of those great-sounding provisions in their platform.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

One Congressman Stands Up For Sanity

Ed Schafer, US Secretary of Agriculture, seems to think we need to bail out the ethanol industry:

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer’s statement on Oct. 17 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture could provide ethanol companies that got into trouble by speculating on corn with up to $25 million per company in refinancing has caused a firestorm of criticism among ethanol critics who say he is favoring one segment of agriculture and might waste taxpayer money.

According to a report on Agweb.com, Schafer said at the World Food Prize symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, “There’s going to have to be some credit applied to companies to buy some lower-priced corn to blend with their higher-priced corn. This is important public policy for the country because corn-based ethanol is a stepping stone to energy independence through cellulosic ethanol. We’re going to continue to support it as much as we can. We have the responsibility to make sure we cement in the infrastructure of rural America and ethanol production has increased the economic opportunities, the jobs and the building of rural America.”

One can’t claim that these companies are “too big to fail” or that their failure will endanger our entire economy. One can’t claim, with any sense of honesty, that the ethanol experiment has really done much positive for America. In reality, one can’t say a good word about this mess.

Which just proves, once again, that government is more than willing to engage in theft of tax dollars and redistribution to industry in order to satisfy the politically-correct goal of the day. And nobody will stand up to them… Scratch that– nearly nobody:

Ethanol plants may be the next beneficiary of a federal bailout and Mesa congressman Jeff Flake is among those opposed to that idea.

Flake, a fiscal conservative, panned the plan Wednesday saying federal promotion of ethanol production is the problem. “The federal government’s ethanol policies have driven up the price of corn,” said Flake. “But rather than reforming the policies that have caused a spike in corn prices, the federal government wants to bail out ethanol producers who speculated on the price of corn. Only the U.S. Department of Agriculture could dream up a policy like this.”

Flake said tax breaks and credits for ethanol producers should be repealed. “The high price of corn has had a ripple effect over our entire economy. Instead of trying to bail out every industry hurt by it, the federal government needs to take a serious look at reforming our ethanol policies,” said the East Valley Republican.

I’m never one to look to Congress to solve my problems; nor do I think that elections are likely to improve our collective lot. But it’s good to see someone who wishes to stand athwart the tide, and I can’t say I’d mind seeing a few more like him.

Barack Obama Says The Constitution Is Flawed, And He’s Right

In what seems to be a follow-up to yesterday’s kerfuffle about Barack Obama’s comments about the Warren Court and redistribution of wealth, there’s now an audio clip of him from the same radio program discussing what he called a “fundamental flaw” in the Constitution:

I think it’s a remarkable document…

The original Constitution as well as the Civil War Amendments…but I think it is an imperfect document, and I think it is a document that reflects some deep flaws in American culture, the Colonial culture nascent at that time.

African-Americans were not — first of all they weren’t African-Americans — the Africans at the time were not considered as part of the polity that was of concern to the Framers. I think that as Richard said it was a ‘nagging problem’ in the same way that these days we might think of environmental issues, or some other problem where you have to balance cost-benefits, as opposed to seeing it as a moral problem involving persons of moral worth.

And in that sense, I think we can say that the Constitution reflected an enormous blind spot in this culture that carries on until this day, and that the Framers had that same blind spot. I don’t think the two views are contradictory, to say that it was a remarkable political document that paved the way for where we are now, and to say that it also reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.

Obama was referring, quite obviously, to those provisions of the Constitution that not only protected slavery, but enshrined it. First, there’s the infamous 3/5th’s clause in Article I, Section 2:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

The provision in Article I, Section 9 that prohibited Congress from banning the slave trade before 1808:

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

And, the provision in Article IV that required the return of fugitive slaves who managed to escape into non-slave states:

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Each of these provisions enshrined and perpetuated an institution that constituted a gross violation of individual and violated the very principles upon which this nation was founded. It was a stain that ate at the very soul of the country and didn’t get erased until the blood of 600,000 men had been shed.

So, in that sense, <strong>Barack Obama is absolutely right when he says that the Constitution was “fundamentally flawed.”

And, you know what ? It still is.

For example, the Interstate Commerce Clause has been used to do far more than regulate commerce between the states. The Necessary and Proper Clause has been used to find powers for Congress and the President that exist nowhere in the Constitution. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments are, thanks largely to the vagueness of their language, largely unenforceable. Congress’s monetary powers have been ceded to an unelected Federal Reserve Board. And don’t even get me started about the flaws in some of the Amendments.

Stevens Convicted

40 years of corruption down the drain. Might as well have joined the f’in Peace Corps:

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted of seven corruption charges Monday in a trial that threatened to end the 40-year career of Alaska’s political patriarch in disgrace.

The verdict, coming barely a week before Election Day, increased Stevens’ difficulty in winning what already was a difficult race against Democratic challenger Mark Begich. Democrats hope to seize the once reliably Republican seat as part of their bid for a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Stevens, 84, was convicted of all the felony charges he faced of lying about free home renovations and other gifts from a wealthy oil contractor. Jurors began deliberating last week.

The senator showed no emotion as the jury foreman said “guilty” seven times. After the verdicts, Stevens sat in his chair and stared at the ceiling as attorney Brendan Sullivan put his arm around him.

Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each count when he is sentenced, but under federal guidelines he is likely to receive much less prison time, if any. The judge originally scheduled sentencing for Jan. 26 but then changed his mind and did not immediately set a date.

What federal guidelines allow him to be convicted of multiple felonies and not face prison time? Is that the “you get billions in earmarks for my state, I’ll scratch your back” sort of guideline?

Social Security: The Betrayal Between Generations

If you think the “bailout from hell” is going to be painful to taxpayers, wait until the bill comes due for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. According to Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, the unfunded liability for Social Security and Medicare sits at an incredible $99.2 trillion. This figure does not account for the myriad of other existing so-called entitlement programs or even consider future wealth redistribution entitlement programs Barack Obama and the Democrats wish to burden the taxpayer with.

The looming Social Security crisis is one which angers me to no end. If you are under 40, you should be angry too. The payroll taxes which are forcibly taken out of your paycheck by the federal government are given to current retirees. There will be little or nothing left when you retire but you will still be paying the bill for those who have benefited from your labors.

Yet anyone who dares to suggest even putting aside a small percentage of FICA withholding into private accounts is accused by the Left of trying to undermine Social Security. AARP and other such organizations run attack ads aimed at the elderly to make them believe they will be kicked into the streets if any such reforms are suggested by anyone who recognizes a need to reform the system.

Reason.tv is currently running a very entertaining, humorous, and informative animated series which explains exactly how royally we are getting screwed by this Ponzi scheme we call Social Security. Here are the first four episodes:

Best Biden Interview Ever

Found via Michelle Malkin

UPDATE: The campaign retaliates by denying the TV station access for the rest of the campaign.

WFTV-Channel 9’s Barbara West conducted a satellite interview with Sen. Joe Biden on Thursday. A friend says it’s some of the best entertainment he’s seen recently. What do you think?

West wondered about Sen. Barack Obama’s comment, to Joe the Plumber, about spreading the wealth. She quoted Karl Marx and asked how Obama isn’t being a Marxist with the “spreading the wealth” comment.

“Are you joking?” said Biden, who is Obama’s running mate. “No,” West said.

West later asked Biden about his comments that Obama could be tested early on as president. She wondered if the Delaware senator was saying America’s days as the world’s leading power were over.

“I don’t know who’s writing your questions,” Biden shot back.

Biden so disliked West’s line of questioning that the Obama campaign canceled a WFTV interview with Jill Biden, the candidate’s wife.

“This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election,” wrote Laura K. McGinnis, Central Florida communications director for the Obama campaign.

McGinnis said the Biden cancellation was “a result of her husband’s experience yesterday during the satellite interview with Barbara West.”

Here’s a link to the interview: http://www.wftv.com/video/17790025/index.html.

WFTV news director Bob Jordan said, “When you get a shot to ask these candidates, you want to make the most of it. They usually give you five minutes.”

Jordan said political campaigns in general pick and choose the stations they like. And stations often pose softball questions during the satellite interviews.

“Mr. Biden didn’t like the questions,” Jordan said. “We choose not to ask softball questions.”

Jordan added, “I’m crying foul on this one.”

What did you think of the interview?

I think the news directors response was perfect.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Federal Judge Tosses Obama Citizenship Lawsuit

A Federal Judge in Pennsylvania has, not surprisingly, dismissed a lawsuit attempting to remove Barack Obama from the ballot on the ground that he is not a natural born citizen:

A federal judge in Philadelphia last night threw out a complaint by a Montgomery County lawyer who claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was not qualified to be president and that his name should be removed from the Nov. 4 ballot.

Philip J. Berg alleged in a complaint filed in federal district court on Aug. 21 against Obama, the Democratic National Committee and the Federal Election Commission, that Obama was born in Mombasa, Kenya.

Berg claimed that the Democratic presidential standardbearer is not even an American citizen but a citizen of Indonesia and therefore ineligible to be president.

He alleged that if Obama was permitted to run for president and subsequently found to be ineligible, he and other voters would be disenfranchised.

(…)

In a 34-page memorandum and opinion, the judge said Berg’s allegations of harm were “too vague and too attenuated” to confer standing on him or any other voters.

Surrick ruled that Berg’s attempts to use certain laws to gain standing to pursue his claim that Obama was not a natural-born citizen were “frivolous and not worthy of discussion.”

The judge also said the harm Berg alleged did “not constitute an injury in fact” and Berg’s arguments to the contrary “ventured into the unreasonable.”

Again, this isn’t a surprise. Berg’s claims had no legal or factual merit.

Hopefully, there will be a Rule 11 motion coming in the mail to him soon.

A Tale Of Two Bubbles

Today’s Wall Street Journal notes that the world’s financial problems go well beyond a credit crisis:

The original bubble was in housing prices and mortgage-related assets, which the Federal Reserve helped to create with its negative real interest rates from 2002 into 2005. This was Alan Greenspan’s tragic mistake, not that the former Fed chief will acknowledge it. Testifying before Congress yesterday, Mr. Greenspan pinned the crisis on mortgage securitizers, risk modelers and lending institutions, thus contributing to the Washington narrative that government had little to do with it. The Fed’s monetary policy apparently gets a pass. The media and Members of Congress will use Mr. Greenspan’s testimony to impugn the very free market principles that the former Ayn Rand protégé has spent his life promoting. It was a painful spectacle to watch.

As for the second bubble, this one began in August 2007 with the onset of the credit panic. This is Ben Bernanke’s creation. The Fed chose to confront the credit crunch as if it were mainly a problem of too little liquidity, not fear of insolvency. To that end it flooded the economy with money, while taking short-term interest rates down to 2% from 5.25% in seven months. The panic only got worse, and this September’s stampede finally led the Treasury and Fed to address the solvency problem by supplying public capital and numerous guarantees to the financial system.

But, in the process, the Federal Reserve had created a monetary/commodity price bubble that is clearly reflected in these two charts:

OilDollar

As the Journal points out, the consequence of this monetary bubble is that it has left us, and the rest of the world in a much weaker position to respond to the credit crisis that, even today, continues to rampage it’s way through the financial system. And yet, both major political parties, and both major-party candidates, continue to ignore reality, as the Journal points out:

As Congress plumbs the causes of our current mess, the main one is hiding in plain sight: Reckless monetary policy that did so much to create the credit mania and then compounded the felony with a commodity bubble and run on the dollar whose damage is now becoming apparent. The American people intuitively understand what’s been done to them, which is why they are so angry. If the next President ignores the monetary roots of our troubles, he is courting the same fate as George W. Bush.

Monetary policy isn’t fun, it isn’t sexy, it doesn’t make for cute soundbites or 30 second television commercials, but it’s important and it’s been ignored for far too long. Unless we start paying attention to it soon, the Bush years may start looking like the good old days.

The Coming Constitutional Crisis

The following motion was filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on October 22nd, and entered earlier today.

This is an amended filing from the earlier motions (as is clear from the text); based on the state of the case as of the 22nd.

Earlier, the Obama campaign filed a motion to dismiss, and a motion to prevent discovery. Neither of these motions have been granted.

The Obama campaign has not filed substantive responses to Bergs motions and assertions; and has missed several deadlines.

Theoretically, by the rules of civil procedure, the judge has to rule in favor of the plaintiff, unless he finds the plaintiffs motions have no merit (or that he cannot hear the case due to jurisdictional defect, or lack of standing on the part of the plaintiff); however the judge could decide to dismiss, or to hear the case instead.

Also, the plaintiff has requested a jury trial if summary judgement is not entered; and the Obama campaign failed to respond to this request; so if the judge decides not to enter summary judgement and instead hear the case, he is again required by civil procedure to order a hearing before a jury.

Judges have a lot of leeway within the rules, but if they decide to do something outside of normal practice that leaves a lot of room for appeal. I’ve looked at this judges rules for civil procedure (judges can set their own rules to a certain extent) and he is a hardcore stickler for the rules.

The Obama campaign clearly thought the judge wasn’t going to take this case seriously, and that they could either get it dismissed our of hand, or delayed until after the election.

It seems clear now this isn’t going to happen.

At this point, the Obama campaigns only response is to claim jurisdictional defect and lack of standing. They are saying that the court can’t hear the case, and that even if they could, Berg can’t bring the case. Their grounds for such assertions are weak at best.

Read the filings. If you don’t believe me, go log in to P.A.C.E.R. and look at the totality of the case. Berg has affadavits from Obamas grandmother, officials from the Kenyan ministry of state, officials from the hospital he is alleging Obama was born in…

This is going to be messy. Even if the case is dismissed by jurisdictional or standing defect, it will simply be refiled immediately by someone who has standing (that shouldn’t be hard to find) in the proper jurisdiction.

This isn’t going away.

Whether the allegations are true or not, by not taking this case seriously, Obama is in trouble.

UPDATE:

Understand, I am making no claims as to the validity of the case; only that it has not been dismissed, and the Obama campaign is treating it as if it already has been.

I’m inclined to think if the judge were going to summarily dismiss the case, he would have done so before Oct. 21st.

I have a feeling the judge will at least have a hearing on jurisdiction and standing.

If the Obama campaign address this only as a jurisdictional issue, or a standing issue, it’s going to come back.

Right now, the Obama campaign isn’t even arguing the merits of the case; and if they DON’T get it dismissed on the merits, the exact same allegations and information are going to be used to file cases from now, until he is out of office presuming he is elected.

I’ve spent the last three years arguing a federal case, responding to motions and appeals with no merit. Because our opponent had even the slightest validity in his cause of action, it was strongly advised BY THE JUDGE, that we respond to all motions in a timely manner; even though we had a motion to dismiss pending the entire time (it was eventually granted).

Until this case is heard on the merits, and dismissed on the merits, I think it’s going to be a MAJOR issue for Obama; even after the election, whether he is elected or not.

» Read more

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Don’t Forget to Study Before the Final!

I just received my mail-in ballot a week or so ago. The ballot, with multiple choices with arrows to be filled out next to each choice, reminds me of taking standardized tests back in the day. Some tests were easier than others but I knew that if I did not study, one of two things could happen: (1) I could get lucky and answer enough of the questions correctly to pass or (2) I could possibly fail.

In a way, the general election is a final exam. Whether one “passes” the exam or not depends on whether s/he votes according to his or her principles. In order to increase your chances of voting according to your principles, you must study.

I am disgusted with the Republican and Democrat parties. When going over my ballot, my first instinct was to vote Libertarian in every race with a Libertarian candidate. I had studied all of the ballot measures and was satisfied that I could make intelligent choices there, but I hadn’t researched the candidates below the presidential level*. In the U.S. House race, I found three choices: the incumbent Diana DeGette (D), George Lilly (R), and Martin Buchanan (L). I knew that DeGette supported the bailout so she was never an option. Buchanan is a Libertarian and his positions he posted on his website are indeed Libertarian.

So why not just support the Libertarian you ask?

Regardless of how much I despise the Republican and Democrat parties, I make an effort to learn about the individual candidates and their positions before making a choice. Much to my delight and surprise, I found the Republican, George Lilly to be a “Ron Paul Republican.” I knew that there were such individuals running in this election but I never thought I would have had an opportunity to vote for one!

Now, I know that an endorsement from Ron Paul is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be but take a look at Lilly’s positions posted on his website:

Please join me in RESTORING the Constitution, and together, let’s:

1. RESTORE the economy — free up business from onerous outdated regulations.

2. RESTORE proper use of the military (136 nations have U.S. military presence.)

3. RESTORE integrity to the treaty process to protect America’s interests first.

4. RESTORE individual privacy and say “no” to the Real I.D. Act.

5. RESTORE high quality medical care at affordable prices.

6. RESTORE checks & balances — the executive branch has gotten too powerful.

7. RESTORE integrity in the campaign financing process.

8. RESTORE integrity to the dollar — re-institute the gold standard. Watch this YouTube video!

9. RESTORE integrity to the tax system — rein in the I.R.S.

10. RESTORE and retain rights to unregulated health supplements & the Internet.

The following will be my top priorities in Congress:

1. Create a level playing field for Americans who receive the benefit of Workmen’s Compensation, mandatory health insurance, retirement benefits, taxes, OSHA, EPA etc. and calculate that into the cost of the products manufactured so that any foreign country not providing the same benefits to their employees would have to pay a tariff on their imported products to equal that amount.

2. Support a bill that calls for a single subject on all spending bills.

3. Oppose unconstitutional spending in the form of corporate subsidies.

4. Oppose unconstitutional spending in the area of education so that “No (every) Child Left Behind” is abolished.

5. Hold the Federal Reserve to account for their corruption of the dollar which has driven up the price of everything way beyond what any normal person can even consider affording!

While I have some concern about his #1 priority being a little on the protectionist side, I certainly applaud his willingness to stand up for the Constitution and against big government**. He’s not purely libertarian but in my estimation, he’s at least as libertarian as Ron Paul.

Having learned about George Lilly’s positions, most of which I agree with, I am very glad I had taken the time to make an informed choice. Now my choice was between the Ron Paul Republican and the Libertarian. Who should I choose?

Most things being equal, I decided to support Lilly. As a practical matter, the Republican Lilly would have a much better chance of unseating DeGette than the Libertarian Buchanan. I have not seen any polls regarding the District 1 race, but I suspect that in a district which seems to worship the ground Barack Obama walks on, DeGette will be difficult if not impossible to beat. If most of the libertarian vote goes to Buchanan, we’ll almost certainly re-elect a tax and spend Democrat to another term.

This is why I urge everyone to study each race before casting a vote***. Put emotions aside and “think the vote.” Though the electorate as a whole may fail the exam, we should each make the effort to pass individually.
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Gunblogger conference call with Missouri Governor Matt Blunt

Earlier today, I participated in a conference call with Missouri governor Matt Blunt, on the subject of gun rights, John McCain, and Barack Obama.

You may recall that recently, the Obama campaign worked directly with democratic party elected officials in the state of Missouri; engaging prosecutors and county sheriffs, to intimidate local media outlets, and prevent them from taking advertising criticizing Barack Obama.

Governor Blunt delivered a scathing rebuke of this blatant ethical misconduct (and violation of at least federal election regulations, if not federal law):

Gov. Blunt Statement on Obama Campaign’s
Abusive Use of Missouri Law Enforcement

JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Matt Blunt today issued the following statement on news reports that have exposed plans by U.S. Senator Barack Obama to use Missouri law enforcement to threaten and intimidate his critics.

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.

“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts – not a free society.”

Governor Blunt, who has decided not to seek re-election; has been campaigning in Missouri, and across the country, for gun rights, and for John McCain.

On the call with me were the organizers, Bryan Pick and John Henke from QandO.net, Jonathan Blank of the Cato Institute, Nicky Fellenzer from The Liberty Zone, Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute and DaveKopel.com, David Codrea of The War On Guns, JR of A Keyboard and a .45, Sebastian of Snowflakes in Hell, Cam Edwards of NRA News and the Cam and Company radio show, Bitter of The Bitchgirls, Dustin of Dustins Gun Blog, John Donovan of The Donovan, and Caleb of Call me Ahab.

It has been agreed that we can release the full audio of our conference call with the governor. I’ve put it up here:

Sorry, I cant get the embeddable streaming widget to work. Here’s a link to the full file, and an embedded player that works, at archive.org.

Gunblogger conference call with Missouri Governor Matt Blunt

I have edited nothing from Governor Blunts comments; only the introductions and some chat between my fellow bloggers at the beginning and end of the call.

If time permits, I will post a transcript later.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

A slight profundity

A question was asked of me recently: “Why don’t libertarians and real conservatives win elections”.

Simple really.

True libertarians and conservatives share the same electoral disadvantage:

True libertarians and real conservatives, CANNOT win electorally, in a climate where everyone is allowed to vote; and that “everyone” includes the huge politically created classes (both underclass, and “elite”) that exists because of governments meddling, and live at government sufferance.

True libertarians and conservatives only have answers that make those folks, and those who “support” or worship them, feel bad about themselves; and solutions that are against their short term interests.

Until these permanent classes of government dependents are eliminated (or at the least, politically neutered); government will continue, with the active support of these people (and those who “support” and worship them); to vote in the GOVERNMENTS interest:

That is, to increase the size, scope, reach, and power of the government, and to use that power to redistribute ever more wealth; making the class of government dependents ever larger, and reinforcing that dependency ever more.

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” — Alexis de Tocqueville

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Extremism In The Defense Of Liberty Is No Vice

Steve Chapman, writing for Reason, pontificates on California’s Proposition 8, the question of whether gays in California should be officially allowed the right to marry. California already grants legal recognition to same-sex civil unions, but a recent court decision expanded that to open the name “marriage” to those agreements. Chapman suggests that such a decision should be made by the people, not the courts.

I personally believe that the state should get out of the “marriage” business for everyone, and only sanction civil unions. Leave the marriage business to the churches, where it rightfully belongs:

The idea, which I fully agree with, is that marriage is a religious concept, that happens to bear the same name as a legal concept. Most of the uproar over the gay marriage issue is based upon the contention that it will somehow damage the “sanctity of marriage”. This claim underscores the fact that church and state have become much more intertwined on the issue of marriage than is needed. We would be much better off if the government never broached the subject of marriage, and instead gave any consenting adults who wanted one a “civil union”.

But the situation being what it is, I would rather that we offer fully equal rights to everyone. Left unanswered, then, is whether there are acceptable and unacceptable methods for achieving such liberties. Chapman argues that doing so by judicial fiat is less acceptable than by the ballot box.

To say that gays should have access to civil unions rather than marriage could mean society regards them as unworthy of true matrimony. Or it could mean society sees same-sex unions not as worse or better than marriage but simply different, and thus properly designated by another name.

But the question before California voters is not whether the court correctly interpreted the equal protection clause of the state constitution. It is whether gay couples should be deprived of the right to marry that they gained a few months ago. And the best course would be the one spurned by the Supreme Court: to let the new policy remain in effect long enough to judge its value.

Barry Goldwater once said that “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” I agree in this case. While it would be wonderful to wait for public opinion to be sure to offer equality to all, sometimes that is not possible. I’d rather take victories for liberty where we can get them, whether officially sanctioned by public vote or not.

Here in California, thankfully, the voters may actually reach the pro-liberty conclusion. If so, it will be a watershed moment. As a large state, California tends to lead the rest of the nation in many ways (some better than others), and for this to pass would be a major victory for civil liberties. But if it loses, it will be a sad day as the public stands athwart the tide of history in in favor of bigotry.

Unfortunately, as of midnight last night I have officially missed the window to register to vote in California. So my disgust with McCain, Obama, Boxer, and Feinstein will preclude me from exercising a vote against Prop 8. I only hope that it won’t matter on Nov 5.

Security Theater

This one has been making the libertarian rounds for a day or two now, and with good reason. A story about Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer who has taken security expert Bruce Schneier’s proclamations about ineffectiveness of security measures at airports and gone and proven them.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to devote to this, as I’m currently sitting in an airport bar on a layover. But given my current location and my position as the contributor to The Liberty Papers with the heaviest travel schedule* (I’ll be flying 6 of the next 9 days), I thought it apropos that I pass this along.

As the below excerpt so perfectly points out, the constant hassle I have to get through security has not led to me feeling much safer:

On another occasion, at LaGuardia, in New York, the transportation-security officer in charge of my secondary screening emptied my carry-on bag of nearly everything it contained, including a yellow, three-foot-by-four-foot Hezbollah flag, purchased at a Hezbollah gift shop in south Lebanon. The flag features, as its charming main image, an upraised fist clutching an AK-47 automatic rifle. Atop the rifle is a line of Arabic writing that reads Then surely the party of God are they who will be triumphant. The officer took the flag and spread it out on the inspection table. She finished her inspection, gave me back my flag, and told me I could go. I said, “That’s a Hezbollah flag.” She said, “Uh-huh.” Not “Uh-huh, I’ve been trained to recognize the symbols of anti-American terror groups, but after careful inspection of your physical person, your behavior, and your last name, I’ve come to the conclusion that you are not a Bekaa Valley–trained threat to the United States commercial aviation system,” but “Uh-huh, I’m going on break, why are you talking to me?”

On 9/12/2001, I said that there will never be another 9/11 in this country, and Flight 93 proved why. Further in the article Schneier is quoted as saying the two biggest reasons to believe security is improved is the reinforced cockpit doors and the fact that a plane full of people no longer believes they should not resist a hijacker. All the rest, from the TSA “you can’t professionalize unless you federalize” restrictions on liquids to the requirement that 80-year-old grandmothers remove their shoes, are just theater.

As they say, read the whole thing. You won’t feel safer afterwards, but I’d argue that if you feel safe now, you need a reality check.

Hat Tip: Billy Beck

Ha Ha Only Serious

This has to be John McCains Best Speech Ever

Seriously, McCain delivers what is certainly the best speech he’s ever given… and it’s a comedy routine.

Part 1:

And part 2:

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

The Death Of Free-Market Capitalism Is Greatly Exaggerated

Some surprisingly cogent wisdom from the Editoral Page of The Washington Post:

IS THIS the end of American capitalism? As financial panic spread across the globe and governments scrambled to contain the damage, reality seemed to announce the doom of U.S.-style free markets and President Bush’s ideology. But this is wrong in two ways. The deregulation of U.S. financial markets did not reflect only the narrow ideology of a particular party or administration. And the problem with the U.S. economy, more than lack of regulation, has been government’s failure to control systemic risks that government itself helped to create. We are not witnessing a crisis of the free market but a crisis of distorted markets.

(…)

We’ll never know how this newly liberated financial sector might have performed on a playing field designed by Adam Smith. That’s because government interventions of all kinds, from the defense budget to farm supports, shaped the business environment. No subsidy would prove more fateful than the massive federal commitment to residential real estate — from the mortgage interest tax deduction to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the Federal Reserve’s low interest rates under Mr. Greenspan. Unregulated derivatives known as credit-default swaps did accentuate the boom in mortgage-based investments, by allowing investors to transfer risk rather than setting aside cash reserves. But government helped make mortgages a purportedly sure thing in the first place. Home prices seemed to stand on a solid floor built by Washington.

And, much like the great Tulip Bubble that once gripped Amsterdam, the price of houses rose and rose, and the popular culture started to emulate the absurd idea that what goes up, must continue to go up. Sit back some time and watch a pre-2008 episode of HGTV’s My House Is Worth What ? or House Hunters and you’ll see what I mean. It was a market bubble just like any other we’ve seen in the past, and just like every other market bubble, it was created largely thanks to the benevolent intentions of government.

But, of course, this is the Washington Post, and while they correctly point out the fact that it was government intervention that created the distorted market that led to the problems we face today, the solution they suggest is more government intervention:

The new capitalist model that emerges from this crisis must operate according to more consistent principles. The Fed should set interest rates with the long-run value of the dollar in mind. Government must be more selective about manipulating markets; over the long term, business works best when it is subject to market discipline alone. In those cases — and there will and should be some — in which government intervenes on behalf of social goals, its support must be counterbalanced with taxpayer protections and regulation. Government-sponsored, upside-only capitalism is the kind that’s in crisis today, and we say: Good riddance.

That last sentence is absolutely correct, what’s mind-boggling is that the entire paragraph that precedes it contradicts the conclusion.

The Post is right that it was government interventions in the mortgage and housing market that created distortions and an artificial bubble that was destined to pop, but the Editors ruin that otherwise excellent point when they insist that the solution to distortion-creating government intervention is………more government intervention.

Wouldn’t that just create yet more distortions guys ?

I don’t expect an answer, but I do expect an apology from everyone who has blamed this crisis on free-market capitalism.

Cross-posted at Below The Beltway

RIP Libertarianism, 1971-2008

According to Jacob Weisberg in Slate:

A source of mild entertainment amid the financial carnage has been watching libertarians scurrying to explain how the global financial crisis is the result of too much government intervention rather than too little. One line of argument casts as villain the Community Reinvestment Act, which prevents banks from “redlining” minority neighborhoods as not creditworthy. Another theory blames Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for causing the trouble by subsidizing and securitizing mortgages with an implicit government guarantee. An alternative thesis is that past bailouts encouraged investors to behave recklessly in anticipation of a taxpayer rescue.

There are rebuttals to these claims and rejoinders to the rebuttals. But to summarize, the libertarian apologetics fall wildly short of providing any convincing explanation for what went wrong. The argument as a whole is reminiscent of wearying dorm-room debates that took place circa 1989 about whether the fall of the Soviet bloc demonstrated the failure of communism. Academic Marxists were never going to be convinced that anything that happened in the real world could invalidate their belief system. Utopians of the right, libertarians are just as convinced that their ideas have yet to be tried, and that they would work beautifully if we could only just have a do-over of human history. Like all true ideologues, they find a way to interpret mounting evidence of error as proof that they were right all along.

Well, I would suggest that he goes off the tracks as soon as he says that we “fall wildly short of providing any convincing explanation for what went wrong.” I hear a hell of a lot more cogent analysis of what went wrong and how than either Republicans or Democrats have offered.

In fact, the whole article is a strawman. Weisberg essentially says that the whole mess was caused by deregulation, and that deregulation equals libertarianism. Further, since the crisis was “caused” by deregulation, that invalidates the argument for deregulation and thus makes libertarianism intellectually bankrupt.

He does have one thing right, though. Libertarians will be painted with the same broad brush as the socialists, who– when faced with the collapse of socialist nations such as the USSR, Cuba, etc– claim that socialism would work if only it was really tried. The problem is that his conclusion is based on the premise that anyone believes libertarian has been attempted — a premise that he’s actually trying to generate rather than to reflect. Libertarians have never claimed that the society that we advocate has been remotely enacted in America, and the whole time we’ve been criticizing the hodgepodge of regulation and non-regulation by government as evidence that government is captured by special interests.

This, more than any other reason, was why I’ve removed my support from the FairTax. I love the FairTax proposal, but my cynicism of government has proven correct too many times to believe that Washington would allow a proposal to go through without modifying it into a monster. If I believed they’d enact the FairTax as proposed, I may support it. But since I do not, I don’t want my name behind the horrible tax scheme that would eventually be enacted under the moniker “Fair”Tax.

Sadly, though, some would claim that Weisberg– if not right about the issues– accurately captures public sentiment towards libertarianism. This mess will undoubtedly give deregulation or non-regulation a bad name, completely glossing over the fact that we libertarians have been complaining about the perverse incentives cause by this supposed deregulation all along. They’ll follow this up as electorates always do, by running away from liberty into the waiting arms of their nanny-state saviors.

Is Free Market Medicine Heartless?le

Recently I had an interesting conversation with someone who leveled the following accusation:

“You libertarians don’t care if people die from lack of medicine, or if someone can’t afford a doctor.  Libertarianism is the freedom to die from a cold while the doctor who could treat you is doing a checkup for a rich guy who has nothing wrong with him.
You guys are so wrapped up in hating the government that you don’t see the good it can do.”

This is a frequent charge leveled against those who oppose some government intervention.  The assumption contained within the accusation is that if someone opposes the state performing some task, then one is in effect opposing anybody performing that task. There are two possible ways that this accusation could be correct:

1) The task can only be done by the state.  Regardless of our desires to see the task done, it won’t happen without state action. Therefore by opposing state action we are opposing any action that could attain that goal.

2) The task could be done by others, but we believe that it shouldn’t be done at all.

While I am sure one could find the occasional libertarian who is opposed to the broad mass of the people having access to good medical care, this is not true of the vast majority of libertarians.  Unsurprisingly like non-libertarians, most libertarians are fans of good health.  So clearly the second statement is not correct and we are left with the first one as the accusation.

But, is this correct?  Is the state the only entity capable of accomplishing this goal?  It’s actually trivial to demonstrate that the state can’t assure people the highest quality of medical care.  But can it do a better job than other organizations?  The answer is that it can do a “better” job, but at a cost that will wreck the economy.

Why Involve the State?

The notion that the state is required to ensure that people have access to medical care is, itself, predicated on several assumptions:

1) It is bad when someone is allowed to die or goes unhealed when the means to save his or her life or health is available.

2) People who cannot afford to hire a doctor or purchase medicines will go untreated.

3) People are unwilling to voluntarily support others who are unable to pay for their own care.

4) Only the state can amass the funds needed to ensure that all are treated, since it can extract more money than people are willing to give up.

Can the state do it all?

Unfortunately, while these assumptions at first seem reasonable, item number 4 is problematic in ways that supporters of state provisioning ignore at their own peril.  The first is that while state action can alleviate scarcity of medical care, it cannot eliminate it entirely.  Consider Paul Newman.  Paul Newman was a wealthy man.  He had a personal doctor who was well paid.  This doctor probably had no more than 50 patients under his care.  Can state action provide a doctor for every 50 people?  In the United States alone, this would require training 1,000 doctors for every doctor practicing today.  There would be more doctors than the combined population of plumbers, farmers, factory workers and shopkeepers.  Such an action, would take millions of workers out of working in other trades, trades where they paid taxes and put them in the position of consuming taxes.

Clearly this is untenable, at some point, the administrators of any system of providing medical care have to say “no more” and to stop providing additional care that may be technically possible, but economically unfeasible.

Thus we see that even a government-administered program will have to accommodate scarce resources, permitting people to suffer who otherwise could be treated.

Is the state the one who does a better job?

Even if the state can’t treat everyone, can it still do a better job than every other conceivable organization?  To answer this question, we need to examine how medical care is provided on a free market.

Free market provisioning – simple

The simplest way that a person gets medical care in a free market is by waiting until he or she gets sick.  The sick person then goes to a store and purchases the medicines he or she needs or visits a doctor, paying for these services out of their cash balance.  Of course, if the person lacks the money to pay the doctor or the medicine owner, the illness won’t be treated.

The prices under such a scenario are set as follows.  Doctors and medicine makers charge whatever the market will bear.  If they set their prices too high, they won’t be paid at all.  Furthermore if their profits are sufficiently high, they will attract competition, more people choosing to become doctors.  These additional providers will compete for customers, charging whatever the market will bear for their services as well.  Eventually, an equilibrium will be reached where the supply of doctors is sufficient to supply all the patients who are willing to pay them sufficiently well for treatment.

Free market provisioning – Insurance

Illness is a stochastic process that visits people randomly.  The rates of illness in a large population are, however, predictable to a reasonable degree of accuracy.  This makes it quite possible for insurance companies to provide health insurance; people pay a monthly or annual fee for coverage, and the insurance company pays for their illnesses.  People who get very sick benefit because the cost of care exceeds the premiums they pay to the insurance company.  The insurance company profits because the premiums they charge exceed the costs of the treatments they pay for.  The people who don’t get sick may lose money, but should they get sick in the future, they are in a position to become benefactors.

The introduction of medical insurance, of course, results in higher prices in the short term as people who previously could not afford treatment are now able to afford treatment.  However, as in the previous simple scenario, the rise in prices would attract even more people to become providers.

Free market provisioning – Charity

Under the previous two methods, there is still a class of people who seek treatment who don’t get it: people who cannot afford insurance.  The plight of this group will not go unnoticed; some segment of their neighbors will be moved by their plight, and will want to help.  These neighbors make a gift of money, their services, or their non-money property to the needy, either by paying for services directly, giving gifts to the needy, or by giving gifts to organizations, known as charities, that distribute the gifts to the needy.

The supply of charitable gifts is dictated by how much the gift givers are willing to give in return for the psychic benefit they get for giving gifts.  These people choose how much they will give, and to whom based on what they are a) able to spend, b) how ‘deserving’ they feel the benefactor to be, c) the predicted effect of the gift.

These benefactors are thus examining the need of the beneficiaries, the resources available to donate to the problem and how effectively those resources will solve the problem in choosing how much money to give.  Again, initially the action of charities will increase the demand for medical services and bid up prices.  Again, these higher prices will attract more providers to provide services, until once again prices have stabilized at a level where the number of providers is constant.

Deviation from Free Market – Medical Licensing

The free market provisioning of medical care assumes that anyone who wishes can hang a shingle form their door and go into business as a doctor.  It provides severe downward pressure on prices: any time doctors in a particular branch of medicine start making sufficient amounts of money to make the training profitable, it attracts more people to take up the profession.

The medical industry has reacted to this downward pressure by calling for the state to restrict the pool of practicing doctors.  This eliminates downward pressure on prices. If the number of doctors is restricted, then the bidding war as patients fight for the few available slots will result in prices rising dramatically.  The more entry is restricted by these laws the more dramatic this phenomenon is.

Deviation from the Free Market – Subsidies

Earlier, we showed how charitable contributions tend to push prices higher.  This phenomenon becomes more dramatic once medical licensing is in place.  To understand this phenomenon, we must examine how prices are set at a free market.  Imagine an economy where A, B, C and D are interested in visiting a doctor.  This doctor can see 2 patients per day.

The prices they are willing to pay to see a doctor are:

Actor Willing to Pay
A $110.00
B $ 80.00
C $ 60.00
D $ 50.00

To maximize his profits, the doctor must fill up his schedule.  If he posts a price of less than or equal to $80.00 per visit, he can fill his schedule with paying patients.  Thus, we can expect that the doctor will charge $80.00.

Now let us examine what happens if some entity offers a $50.00 subsidy for patients wanting to visit the doctor but can’t afford it.  Now the demand schedule looks like this:

Actor Out of pocket + Subsidy = Payment to Doctor
A $110.00 $0.00 $110.00
B $ 80.00 $0.00 $80.00
C $ 60.00 $50.00 $110.00
D $ 50.00 $50.00 $100.00

At this point the doctor finds himself deluged with patients.  Eventually, he finds himself wanting new equipment, or to hire more staff, and so he experiments with raising his price.  He raises his prices to $90.00, then to $100.00 or more.  When his prices reach $110.00, once again he is maximizing his income.  Any higher, and he will have empty slots in his schedule and lose business.  The effect of the subsidy, in the presence of significant barriers to entry for new providers is to increase prices.  The higher the subsidy, the more people it is offered to, the more dramatic this effect is.

If one looks at all the asset bubbles in recent history, all the sectors of the economy where prices are climbing faster than the rate of inflation, one finds generous government subsidies coupled with significant barriers to entry for new providers.

Of course, patient B, having been able to afford a doctor in previous days now finds himself out in the cold.  He is not offered a subsidy, but cannot afford to see a doctor.  Unless he is very aware of economics, he will ask the subsidizer to include him in the subsidy as well.  This expansion in subsidy will result in still higher prices, creating another wave of people who no longer can hire a doctor.  The people in this wave then lobby for the expansion of the subsidy to include them.  If the cycle continues long enough, nobody will be able to afford the subsidy.

Deviation from the Free Market – Monopoly Customer

Another option is to establish a monopoly that takes over all payment to doctors.  This monopoly can avoid the phenomenon of competing consumers bidding up prices by taking over all payment decisions.  It sets a price, and a doctor who attempts to charge above the price is simply not paid.  This authority then sets prices according to its whim.   The entity can offer doctors below market wages, resulting in patients flooding the system.  Or, it can establish above market prices, leading to it having to outlay huge amounts of money.

The latter becomes a significant problem.  The monopoly must somehow acquire (or create) the money needed to pay for all these treatments.

However, unless this entity can increase the supply of doctors, it cannot expand medical care.  Unless more doctors are permitted to go into practice, the number of patients that can be treated remains the same as under the Free Market + Medical Licensing.

This problem can be easily solved, by having the monopoly guarantee all doctors above market wages, as follows:

In the scenario above, every day four patients sought medical treatment.  The single doctor was only able to treat two.  So the monopoly arranges to pay two doctors $80.00 per visit, resulting in a greater capacity than exists under Free Market + Medical Licensing.  At this point, the monopoly is obligated to pay $320.00 per day to treat all four patients.  The total number of dollars people were prepared to part with for medical care was $110 + $80 + $60 + $50 or $300.00 total.   Thus, the monopoly has to extract $20.00 from someone to pay for the extra medical care, diverting that money from other, more highly desired ends from some actor somewhere in the economy.

The State

The state is well positioned to act as such a monopoly.  It can, though taxes, extract as many resources as the economy can supply in order to maintain the monopoly payments. Just as the state could, if its officers desire, land men on the moon, something that no organization depending on making a profit or voluntary donations will be able to do in the foreseeable future, the state could ensure that everyone gets reasonably good medical care.  However, this will come at significant cost.  The resources commandeered to pay these above market wages will necessarily impoverish the public.  In our scenario above, we had the state demanding that one or more people be forced to give $20.00 more than they would have liked to to cover the medical care of all actors.  This is money that would otherwise go to satisfying other consumer demands, such as food, better housing, beer or factories.

Additionally, the use of taxation to acquire the money needed generally means that patients pay $0.00 out of pocket.  This means that there is no cost (other than the lost time and inconvenience) for visiting the doctor.  This results in a massive spike in demand as people rush to visit the doctor more often.  Again, absent the lifting of the restriction on the number of practicing doctors, such a system will be plagued by long wait times and rationing via queues.

This power is also the state’s Achilles heel.  Unlike a charity that depends on voluntary donations, the state does not have to do a good job to get money.  Even if the state spends the money in a lousy, inefficient manner, the money will continue to flow into its coffers; people are denied the choice to withhold their money from the state.  Furthermore, for a government official, challenging inefficiency or generating efficient ideas requires effort.  The worse the problem being confronted the more effort the official must exert. Such efforts are often psychically unpleasant.  Thus a significant number of officials will find the disutility associated with the effort to do better will far outweigh any possible personal benefit they accrue.  Again, we see this phenomenon demonstrated in countless government offices.  for example a significant portion of Medicare funding is consumed by fraudulent charges.  Government officials turn a blind eye to the fraud since they run no risk of being bankrupt by excessive claims.  As an aside, the proponents of state provisioning of medical services love to cite the low administrative costs of Medicare as a good thing, whereas it is precisely the skimping on administrative oversight which causes the overbillers to be able to perpetrate their fraud with impunity indefinitely.

It is not surprising that numerous studies analyzing private (dependent on payments or voluntary donations) ventures with public ones (funded by force) performing similar tasks found that, on average, the private ventures delivered the same service at only 75% of the cost.

The importance of innovation

Having found that government provisioning of medical care is no panacea in the present, we should look at what is really required to make health care better for more people.

What is the engine driving improvements in medical care?  In the end, it is the desire of doctors to do a better job, whether from professional pride or from a desire for more revenue.  In a free market, an innovation requires only a doctor and a patient agreeing to try it out.  In an environment where the state pays for medical care, the doctor or patient must convince the state to permit the test being tried.  For very innovative ideas, especially ones that are likely to trigger an episode of creative destruction, where whole branches of the field will be rendered obsolete or redundant, it is possible that the state will refuse to permit the innovation to take place.

Medical treatments that are available to the poorest among us today were not available to kings two centuries ago.  Two centuries ago no economy could have afforded to extend even the pitiful medical care that kings received to the entire population.  It is only through innovation, the discovery of new and cheaper ways of doing thing, that the care afforded by the wealthy can become available to the basic population.

Let us see how this works in a free market.  Let us consider some case where a doctor invents a new procedure that allows him to treat a condition at one-tenth the cost of the current treatment in vogue.  Of course, he starts providing this treatment, and pocketing the massive profits that accrue to him as a result.  The news of his procedure gets out.  Other doctors also adopt the practice.  Initially all who adopt the practice make unusually high profits.  These high profits attract additional providers to try to treat people with this procedure.

As the number of providers treating patients increase, the market-clearing price starts to fall.  New providers offer lower and lower prices in an attempt to fill their schedules.  This process continues until the profits to be earned by treating patients with the new treatment is too low to attract additional providers.  The result is that many more people are having their condition treated than were before.

Any regimen that slows or short circuits this process of innovation has the effect of denying the poor access to future medical care.

The important thing is that state regulation does hamper innovation.  It can do no other.  The result, present state regulation is harmful to future patients, and past regulation is harmful to patients in the present.

Must We Lean on the State?

From the above analysis we can come to several conclusions:

1) It is impossible to make high quality medical care available to the most number of people while restrictive medical licensure laws make it difficult for new people to enter the medical profession.
2) While government action can expand the amount of care available today, it does so at an expense of less medical care in the future.
3) The government will either have to ration care, or heavily tax people to accomplish the goal of expanding medical care to more people in the short term.
4) The function performed by the state can be done more cost effectively by charities funded by donations.

Thus we see that the earlier assumption 4, that only the state can amass the needed resources, is not correct.

Additionally, we can question the applicability of assumption 3, given that most governments that provide medical care or subsidize it are representative ones, where the population picks the lawmakers.  Obviously, since government provisioning on health care is voted into law by representatives selected in popular elections, it is safe to say that a sizeable portion of the population are willing to donate money to care for those who are unable to afford care.

We can clearly see that the state is neither the only organization that can provide medical care, nor is it very efficient in doing so.

Conclusions

We can see that far from being heartless, the supporter of free markets is really attempting to make medical care cheaper and more widely available, and that the advocate of government involvement is inevitably arguing for a system that is inefficient,  not innovative and that in the long term will do a poor job of extending quality care to the poor who cannot afford it today.  While in the short term, the state can commandeer impressive resources and make massive strides towards acheiving some goal, in the long term such actions can be very detrimental.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.
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