Category Archives: Free Trade

Kathleen Sebellius Blames Insurance Companies For The Effects of Obama’s Stimulus Program

Like her ideological forebears from the last century, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is angry that businessmen who are eager to avoid a loss are raising prices.

From the LA Times, Anthem Blue Cross asked to justify controversial rate hikes :

The Obama administration called on Anthem Blue Cross on Monday to justify its controversial new rate hikes of as much as 39% for individual policyholders, saying the increases were alarming at a time when subscribers are facing skyrocketing healthcare costs.

In a letter to the company’s president, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius voiced serious concern over the rates, which go into effect March 1 for many of the insurer’s estimated 800,000 individual policyholders.

The increases have triggered widespread criticism from Anthem members and brokers, who say the premium hikes will put health coverage out of reach for some and very costly for others.

“With so many families already affected by rising costs, I was very disturbed to learn through media accounts that Anthem Blue Cross plans to raise premiums for its California customers by as much as 39%,” Sebelius wrote to company President Leslie Margolin.

“These extraordinary increases are up to 15 times faster than inflation and threaten to make healthcare unaffordable for hundreds of thousands of Californians, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet in a difficult economy.”

Let’s get one thing straight;  these increases are entirely due to inflation, and they are likely largely caused by the Obama administration’s stimulus plan. Anthem executives didn’t wake up one morning and say “Hey! Let’s jack up prices so that our customers can no longer afford our product!”  Rather they are increasing prices to deal with the increased costs they anticipate for the coverage they provide.  Now why would they do that?

It turns out that while California has been receiving large amounts of bailout and stimulus funds, the supply of medical service providers has stayed steady.  That new money has largely gone to the California State government’s payroll and to cover their administrative overhead costs.  One of the largest discretionary expense most government employees have is the cost of medical insurance, and the demand for the insurance is relatively inelastic.  This insurance is used to pay for a multitude of doctor’s visits etc.  Thus you have a large pool of people with freshly printed money in their pockets engaged in a bidding war trying to consume an essentially static supply.The winners pay higher prices for the scarce goods, and the losers are left out in the cold.

This phenomenon is precisely how prices increase when whoever controls the money supply engages in inflation.  It’s not mysterious.  It’s not greed.  It is merely a predictable outcome counterfeiting.

This is one favorite method used by totalitarians to justify their seizures of power.  They engage in reckless government spending financed using the printing press.  Then, when these newly printed funds lead to a bidding war between buyers that drives prices up, they use the price increases as a justification for even greater usurpations of power.

If Kathleen Sebelius is serious about reducing prices for health care in California, she should be penning angry letters to the head of the California Medical Licensing Board.  This bullying of a company trying to stay solvent despite an economic storm created by government intervention – while making for very nice populist theater – will contributed nothing positive to the problem.

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.

The Institute for Justice Challenges Unjust Law Banning Compensation for Bone Marrow

In January 2008 I wrote a post calling for the repeal of the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984. As I mentioned in the post, many thousands of lives are being sacrificed because of the moral hang-ups of certain individuals who think its icky to sell organs to people who need them. How dare they.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, bone marrow is included as part of the ban. The act of paying an individual for his or her bone marrow is a felony which is punishable for up to five years in prison for everyone involved in the illegal transaction.

The Institute for Justice has decided to challenge this most absurd provision of this absurd bill. Below is a video from the organization explaining their lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General’s Office:

For the sake of the Flynn family, here’s hoping that the Institute for Justice wins the day.

Hat Tip: The Agitator

Obama Repeals NAFTA

Okay, that’s probably a bit of an overstatement… But I don’t think that starting a trade war with the Americans who say “eh” and “aboot” Canadians is a really good idea. Via co-blogger Jason Pye at his personal blog:

Canada’s six NHL teams are scrambling to find alternative travel arrangements south of the border after the U.S. Department of Transportation banned Air Canada’s charter fleet from flying between U.S. cities.

In a furious exchange with the Obama administration over the mid-August ruling, Canada has launched its own investigation and will soon close its skies to U.S. sports team charters in retaliation, warns Transport Minister John Baird.

The sticking point is an eight-year-old exemption that had allowed sports and celebrity charters to make several pit stops in American cities. Under existing open skies agreements, regular Canadian airline flights can only visit one U.S. city before returning.

The ruling also side-swipes musicians and other artists on tour.

The matter was pushed by the U.S. Air Line Pilots Association. It had demanded an investigation of passenger lists on the NHL flights, which found a few examples of injured players, personal trainers and team owners boarding the charter south of the border and departing at another U.S. city in a technical violation of the agreement.

Emphasis added to point out — as Jason does — that this is more about appeasing a union than anything else. This isn’t about safety. This isn’t about the NHL or Canada. This is about protecting an American union from competition. And if economic inefficiency is the result, so be it. If trade retaliation is the result, so be it. Campaigns don’t finance themselves, people! Ya gotta take care of your friends.

Obama Makes Highways More Dangerous

Barack Obama’s recent dictatorial decision to once again break his campaign promise on raising taxes byraising tariffs on Chinese made tires in order to payback political allies in organized labor is already having some consequences.

First of all, Obama has probably ignited a new trade tensions that may cause a trade war between the US and China. The last time a global trade war broke, well….the Great Depression was a result. The Asian and US stock markets were down this morning on the news.

More importantly, it seems that Barack Obama may be putting American lives at risk on the highway. Consumer Reports’ official blog had a writeup that was interesting to say the least.

The Obama administration on Friday imposed a new 35-percent tax on tires made in China. That includes many of the S- and T-rated tires in our recent upcoming tire test of all-season passenger car tires. More than half of the top 10-rated tires in the November issue are imported from China.

The tariff is likely to increase prices on tires for consumers at least in the short term, as China is by far the largest tire producer in the world. Also, some tire models could be harder to find temporarily if manufacturers decide to switch production to another low cost country.

China’s crime apparently was that it built low cost tires which are better in quality than tires made by Obama-supporting union thugs. The United Steelworkers Mafia couldn’t have that so they decide to try and eliminate the competition.

Average Americans may pay for this blatant act of political pandering…with their lives in some cases.

Because the tire industry is very competitive, tiremakers may not be able to pass the price whole price increase along to consumers for long. But we at Consumer Reports are concerned that the higher tariff may indirectly compromise safety by giving consumers incentive to delay replacing worn tires. The move is likely to put some pressure on consumers, but more on tire manufacturers.

In addition to the lost jobs at our ports and among our importers when China retaliates and/or as a direct result of this tax increase, in addition to higher tire prices, in addition to the economic and diplomatic damage this has caused, in addition to the clear example of old style political payback behind closed doors and without public input, this tax increase may prove fatal for some Americans who will have accidents that will be caused by worn tires that they could not replace because they cannot afford them.

“Hope and change” indeed.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
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