Category Archives: Licensing

“Common Sense” Legislation to Curb Gun Violence?

Like most people who value individual liberty, I listened to President Obama’s speech about reducing gun violence with a great deal of trepidation. He presented several ideas such as limiting the size of magazines to 10 rounds, banning “military-style assault weapons” (i.e. any gun that looks scary to progressives who know almost nothing about firearms), and “universal” background checks for anyone trying to buy a gun just to name a few “common sense” reforms. In so many words he basically said that anyone who doesn’t favor these proposals is getting in the way of preventing future gun violence (Why even St. Ronald Reagan was even in favor of some of these proposals!)

One point of particular irritation for me is this notion being promoted by the Left that AK-47’s and other “weapons of war” should not be made available to “civilians.” President Obama rightly pointed out that these weapons with these magazines “ha[ve] one purpose: to pump out as many bullets as possible, to do as much damage using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage.”

Well if we civilians do not “need” these weapons, why should the police have them? Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the local police also considered “civilian”? (i.e. civilian law enforcement). Why do the police “need” these awful “weapons of war” which “inflict maximum damage” to serve a warrant for a late night drug bust?* If everyone else should be limited to certain weapons with magazines containing 10 rounds or less, they too should be limited to what weapons are permissible (or at the very least, what situations these weapons should be used). To suggest otherwise would be to suggest that the police are “at war” with the “civilians” since war is all these weapons are good for.

As some who are critical of the president’s approach have correctly pointed out, these reforms would not have prevented the killing at Sandy Hook Elementary. Obama and his allies like to say “if these proposals save only one life…” but they fail to recognize that these reforms might save one life in one situation but might cost a life in another situation (such as a home invasion; the homeowner runs out of rounds due to smaller magazine capacity etc.). Most, if not all of these reforms are meaningless measures to prevent guns from falling into “the wrong hands” (at best) so that the president can say he’s “doing something” to prevent mass shootings.

Some of these proposals do seem reasonable based only on the broad outlines (as always, the devil is in the details). I don’t have a problem with person-to-person background checks** in the abstract. Why shouldn’t an individual be subjected to the same background check as when buying from a gun dealer when s/he is buying from someone who posted his firearm on Craig’s List? I would think that the seller would want to have the peace of mind and/or limit any exposure to liability for any misuse of the firearm.

There are many proposals that are being floated that need to be thought through rather than rushed through to score cheap political points. These proposals go well beyond the 2nd Amendment into areas such as free speech (i.e. censorship), doctor/client privilege (privacy), state’s rights, and more. I do think that we supporters of the right to bear arms need to try to offer up some “common sense” solutions of our own to reduce illegitimate force that either enhance liberty or at the very least, do not tread on the liberties of others.***

» Read more

FacebookGoogle+RedditStumbleUponEmailWordPressShare

Show Support For Your Team With Bud Light!

Fan Can
With the start of college football barely over 24 hours away, those of us who are rabid fans are salivating for some action… And for many of us, that pavlovian response to college football has us salivating for a tasty adult beverage as well. What better way to show our support than by drinking our beverage of choice* in team colors?

Well, apparently some schools have an issue with this, including my alma mater, Purdue:

Purdue University officials have joined a coalition of colleges in calling for Anheuser-Busch InBev to stop selling its “fan can” — a regular-size aluminum can of beer decked out in school colors.

Lafayette-area liquor stores and bars are now selling Bud Light in the cans mirroring Purdue’s black-and-gold colors.

“We feel like it implies that Purdue is associated with that certain type of product,” said Teri Lucie Thompson, Purdue’s vice president for marketing and media. “We have sent a letter to ask them to cease and desist.”

Now, as someone who bleeds Old Gold & Black when cut, I have a more than tangential emotional attachment to those colors. But are they legally defensible in a trademark battle? Prior to 2008, one might think that a color scheme is not defensible. In Nov 2008, though, the 5th Circuit Court ruled that school colors were defensible against a company marketing apparel. This is still not necessarily relevant here, as one of the tests of the court was that of confusion:

The three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit appeals court took very much the same stance as the lower court. In their ruling, the judges laid out the two major criteria the universities had to meet to prove trademark infringement: to “establish ownership in a legally protectible mark,” and to “show infringement by demonstrating a likelihood of confusion” between Smack’s apparel and the universities’ own products.

Most of Smack’s shirts and other equipment, he points out, “taunt the opponent” rather than “extol the virtue of a college,” he said, and since “universities tend not to approve or license shirts that taunt their opponents,” Smack is free to make shirts like that.

This suggests that one of the clear delineations in this case might be a question of whether there is confusion over whether the product is competing with officially-license products, in such case as the university does officially license similar products (such as apparel). No university that I am aware of licenses its colors or other logos to alcoholic beverage makers, therefore I think claims of confusion may not exist. In addition, the ONLY identifiable mark on these cans is the colors, unlike the apparel case where the shirts contained many additional marks relating to specifics of the schools’ teams or specific dates and scores of games.

Whether legally defensible or not, though, it seems that the cans are welcomed by fans:

Dan St. John, owner of the four Village Bottle Shoppes in West Lafayette, said he has been stocking the black-and-gold can for a few weeks.

The cans, which retail for $18.49 in a 24-can case, are selling a little better than the regular Bud Light cans, he said.

So far St. John has heard no complaints or been told by his distributor the promotion was over.

For now, the Bud Light “fan cans” are available around Purdue and the popularity is catching on.

Jake’s Roadhouse, a bar in the Chauncey Hill Mall, recently made an order from its distributor to start selling beer in the “fan can,” said manager Shannon Duda.

Without conducting a poll of those in the Lafayette area, my gut instinct is that most purchasers of these cans are not under the assumption that they are drinking officially licensed beer.

I don’t mind the universities calling for Anheuser-Busch to end the promotion, and ratcheting up the public pressure on them to stop. As the story mentions, A-B has already pulled the promotions from a few locales. But I’d prefer to see this handled outside the courtroom.
» Read more

The Battle Between the Right to Medical Care vs. Government ‘Medicine’

For decades the cost of medical care has risen relative to prices in general and relative to people’s incomes. Today [1994] a semi-private hospital room typically costs $1,000 to $1,500 per day, exclusive of all medical procedures, such as X-rays, surgery, or even a visit by one’s physician. Basic room charges of $500 per day or more are routinely tripled just by the inclusion of normal hospital pharmacy and supplies charges (the cost of a Tylenol tablet can be as much as $20). And typically the cost of the various medical procedures is commensurate. In such conditions, people who are not exceptionally wealthy, who lack extensive medical insurance, or who fear losing the insurance they do have if they become unemployed, must dread the financial consequences of any serious illness almost as much as the illness itself. At the same time, no end to the rise in medical costs is in sight. Thus it is no wonder that a great clamor has arisen in favor of reform – radical reform – that will put an end to a situation that bears the earmarks of financial lunacy.

Thus begins an essay that noted Objectivist economist George Reissman penned during Clinton’s efforts to ‘reform’ health care.

Given the current debate, it’s a good essay to reread, and the folks at the Mises Institute have obliged by posting it on their fine website.

Reisman argues against many of propositions that are assumed to be true by proponents of govenrment medicine, economic ideas that are based on primitive emotions and have no basis in actual economics: » Read more

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.

A Call From The Economist To License Economists

Typical…

It takes years of schooling and a series of hard exams to become a doctor or a lawyer, but just about anyone, with enough tenacity, can become responsible for billions of dollars. Pretty much anyone can call themselves an economist and opine about fiscal policy. Perhaps even more troubling, there exists no uniform set of standards which entitles someone to work in finance. It makes John Kay wonder if we should introduce professional standards to the finance industry.

A lack of understanding and competence inflicted lots of damage. Could that have been avoided if the industry had required passage of a series of exams in order to become a hedge fund portfolio manager, or a quant, or even a banker (and I mean something more demanding than the likes of the Series 7)?

One reason so many smart and ambitious types entered the industry, as opposed to medicine or law, was the high compensation relative to the years of necessary training. Higher standards probably would have discouraged some people from entering the industry, but it would have provided some screening for intellect, ability, and determination.

Of course… It’s for the integrity of the system…

Despite what Milton Friedman would say:

The justification offered is always the same: to protect the consumer. However, the reason is demonstrated by observing who lobbies at the state legislature for the imposition or strengthening of licensure. The lobbyists are invariably representatives of the occupation in question rather than of the customers. True enough, plumbers presumably know better than anyone else what their customers need to be protected against. However, it is hard to regard altruistic concern for their customers as the primary motive behind their determined efforts to get legal power to decide who may be a plumber.

There were many causes of the mess we’re in… But I don’t think we have any recourse to say that it would have been solved by licensing. It was often those with the highest intellect, ability, and determination who led the charge into the abyss.

The Brady Bill Was Only Step 1

Remember the “good old days” of the Brady Bill and the instant background check? It turns out that the gun grabbers in the 111th Congress no longer believe these gun control measures go far enough. Introducing perhaps the gravest threat to date against the Second Amendment: H.R. 45 Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009.

The primary goals of H.R. 45 are to license every firearm for every firearm a gun owner owns and regulate the buying and selling of firearms through licensed dealers. To apply for a firearms license, the applicant would have to provide the following:

SEC. 102. APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS.
(a) In General- In order to be issued a firearm license under this title, an individual shall submit to the Attorney General (in accordance with the regulations promulgated under subsection (b)) an application, which shall include–
(1) a current, passport-sized photograph of the applicant that provides a clear, accurate likeness of the applicant;
(2) the name, address, and date and place of birth of the applicant;
(3) any other name that the applicant has ever used or by which the applicant has ever been known;
(4) a clear thumb print of the applicant, which shall be made when, and in the presence of the entity to whom, the application is submitted;
(5) with respect to each category of person prohibited by Federal law, or by the law of the State of residence of the applicant, from obtaining a firearm, a statement that the individual is not a person prohibited from obtaining a firearm;
(6) a certification by the applicant that the applicant will keep any firearm owned by the applicant safely stored and out of the possession of persons who have not attained 18 years of age;
(7) a certificate attesting to the completion at the time of application of a written firearms examination, which shall test the knowledge and ability of the applicant regarding–
(A) the safe storage of firearms, particularly in the vicinity of persons who have not attained 18 years of age;
(B) the safe handling of firearms;
(C) the use of firearms in the home and the risks associated with such use;
(D) the legal responsibilities of firearms owners, including Federal, State, and local laws relating to requirements for the possession and storage of firearms, and relating to reporting requirements with respect to firearms; and
(E) any other subjects, as the Attorney General determines to be appropriate;
(8) an authorization by the applicant to release to the Attorney General or an authorized representative of the Attorney General any mental health records pertaining to the applicant;
(9) the date on which the application was submitted; and
(10) the signature of the applicant.
(b) Regulations Governing Submission- The Attorney General shall promulgate regulations specifying procedures for the submission of applications to the Attorney General under this section, which regulations shall–
(1) provide for submission of the application through a licensed dealer or an office or agency of the Federal Government designated by the Attorney General;
(2) require the applicant to provide a valid identification document (as defined in section 1028(d)(2) of title 18, United States Code) of the applicant, containing a photograph of the applicant, to the licensed dealer or to the office or agency of the Federal Government, as applicable, at the time of submission of the application to that dealer, office, or agency; and
(3) require that a completed application be forwarded to the Attorney General not later than 48 hours after the application is submitted to the licensed dealer or office or agency of the Federal Government, as applicable.
(c) Fees-
(1) IN GENERAL- The Attorney General shall charge and collect from each applicant for a license under this title a fee in an amount determined in accordance with paragraph (2).
(2) FEE AMOUNT- The amount of the fee collected under this subsection shall be not less than the amount determined by the Attorney General to be necessary to ensure that the total amount of all fees collected under this subsection during a fiscal year is sufficient to cover the costs of carrying out this title during that fiscal year, except that such amount shall not exceed $25.

I haven’t had time to read the rest of the bill, but from this and the titles of the remaining subsections (i.e. Sec. 302 Failure to Maintain or Permit Inspection of Records, Sec. 304 Failure to Provide Notice of Change of Address, Sec. 405 Inspections, etc.) it’s probably much worse than I think. This is like a bad marriage between the Real I.D. Act and the Brady Bill.

If the Brady Bill was step 1 and H.R. 45 is step 2 what are we then left with for step 3 but the outright repeal of the Second Amendment and complete prohibition for individuals to own firearms?

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.

Government Funded Science Inherently Politicized: Chinese Herbal Remedy Edition

Over in the Science Based Medicine blog, Wallace Sampson is expresses outrage that the National Institutes of Health has announced an initiative to fund “research” into Traditional Chinese Medicine:

I have pointed out that scientific characteristics were never a part of TCM. It lacked objective observation, consistency of observation, classification of observed phenomena, information storage, rationality and logic, consistent written transmission, objectively descriptive language, and a method for analysis or for interpretation. The system of elements , q’i, and yin/yang did not include a method for developing theories or independent natural conepts. TCM depended on empiricism, unreliable observation, was plagued by post hoc reasoning and causality error. It lacked a concept of error and a system for self-analysis to correct error. In fact, the culture discouraged analysis and criticism, considered to be bad form and disrespectful. TCM depended on individuals who rarely communicated in a formal, direct, manner. Add to that a system that accepted manipulation to suit the mood and concept of the observer or authority. I conclude that there is nothing in TCM to study scientifically. So now they want to develop scientific criteria to apply to their observations? Proteomics? On what? Actions of herbs? Words again fail me at the glaring presumptuousness and ignorance required to conceive such a project.

nothing but a jangling confusion of borderline and conflicting findings will result from further study. Unless they appoint people with critical analysis experience, a wide reading knowledge of the history and use of TCM, and a scientific view, their research conclusions will be indeterminate over the next 10 years or more. They will continue to rely on ideologues, advocates, self-deluded practitioners, and politically correct academics for advice and pronouncements.
They will probably exclude scientific or skeptical analysts, so there is no way they will develop a credible commentary on how best to integrate TCM and improve the health of the American and Chinese people. Well, they got it backwards again. It’s China that has to integrate scientific medicine over there. Their scientists and physicians clamor for it. The Chinese can begin with public health principles like inhibiting spitting in the streets, cleaning up their air (finally but it took the Olympics) personal hygiene, cleaning their toilets, improving their food handling methods, and other systematic changes.

What is HHS doing, using a cover of medical science and for what? The government doesn’t do such things without pressure from some group or perceived self-interest in negotiation. In this case, what are the respective interests? There could be several.
For China, the most apparent is awakening the American population to the hidden miracles of TCM – and the marketing of supplements. Ka Kit Hui, a practitioner in Santa Monica, Calif., been promoting TCM herbs for several decades. I debated him on the subject at Stanford in 1995 or so at which time he extolled the undiscovered miracles in TC herbal medicine. Again in a letter to the editor to JAMA in 1997 he predicted that TCM herbals would be the prime economic product of the 21st century. I dismissed the statement in a response, but here we are, nearly 1/10th the way through the century, and here is TCM herbalism making inroads. China must see a large market, a population at least a third of their’s, and in view of the differences in income, living standard, and disposable income, a market that is at least as large in dollars/yuens as China has at home – probably greater.

What motivates the US? For one, TCMers may be behind the effort. They are on a path toward legitimizing the OMD degree and licensing of TCM practice. They already have acupuncture licensure in a plurality of states. They have a dozen or more schools of TCM. The California state legislature several years ago dropped an attempt to standardize teaching in the California schools – a first step to a standard exam and thus an academic standard for licensure. But they will be back. It took naturopaths over 15 years to get their licensure and degree recognition – another history familiar to Kim Atwood and others. The rest of the ulicensed hordes are following through an accompanying though crippled series of Access to Medical Treatment Acts. They persist – getting bits here and there and then, in an alignment of the planets minute, achieving passage of licensure legislation that imprints their initials in gold.
The formation of the NCCAM was a major step for TCMers. Now an HHS officially- sanctioned 2 day conference opens the plausibility of studying more TCM just as acupuncture systematic reviews are showing indeterminacy to ineffectiveness, herbs are being found more dangerous than helpful, and products from the PRC being found adulterated with metals and with standard pharmaceuticals. A fly on the wall of certain congressmen and senators and of HHS director Leavitt could tell us a lot. (Here we go again with a FOI request.)
As for government sourced motives, as Ms. Woeckner suggested, we probably had to pay a price for the stationing of FDA offices in Chinese cities. I still fail to see what they can do about adulteration of products, much of which could be shifted to way stations in Taiwan or in the US.

While insightful, Dr Sampson fails to dig down to the real sources of the problem:

If the NIH wastes money on quackery, its officers do not suffer a loss. They don’t have to justify their spending to donors or shareholders. The money extracted at gunpoint from the citizenry will continue to flow in regardless of the junk science the NIH produces. In fact, inconclusive junk science can benefit NIH officials – larger staff and larger budgets will lead inevitably to higher salaries for managers – with no end in sight to the enterprise.

Furthermore, by having the government license medical treatments and practitioners, the medical industry has fatally undermined the ability of people to have reliable mechanisms to root out quackery. Again, publicly funded licensure boards will continue to be funded regardless of how bad a job they do. Their presence will inhibit the formation of private enterprises that are dependent on donor perceptions of effectiveness to continue operations – just as the creation of the FDA ended the drug testing research of Consumer Union. The public looks at a government license as a mark of quality – and there is no one to tell them otherwise. Suspicions allayed, most people in the market for medical care will accept advertising at face value.

The sad fact is that when the AMA was founded in the late 19th century, most doctors made a deal with the devil. The state licensure boards – which were successful in their mission to keep competition low and prices high – not only created a pool of underserved consumers for quacks to prey upon, it also created traditions and political framework that quacks and junk scientists can use to provide cover for their fraudulent activities.

So long as proponents of quality in medical care continue to pin their hopes on an organization that can extract money by force regardless of how crummy a job it does, they are doomed to failure.

My earlier post on the huge incentive for government to do junk science may be found here.

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.

Airlines And Outsourcing

Airlines, a business regulated to death, when they’re not self-immolating due to mismanagement, face a lot of pressures and not a lot of answers. Like other businesses which are procured as a commodity (i.e. most travelers fly whatever airline is cheapest on Orbitz, Travelocity, etc), there is constant pricing pressure and cutthroat competition, and always a search for lower, lower costs.

The airlines have taken advantage of some liberal FAA practices, where the FAA certifies offshore repair/maintenance/service firms to perform work on airplanes. And they’ve been saving lots of money:

Southwest Airlines planned to begin flying planes to this small Central American nation this year — but not with passengers aboard. The carrier wanted to outsource some of its maintenance to a Salvadoran repair shop called Aeroman.

Aeroman already services jetliners operated by U.S. carriers JetBlue and America West. The airlines fly empty planes hundreds of miles from the United States to have them refurbished, repaired and inspected. It’s like driving across town for a cheaper mechanic — except that airlines can save millions of dollars over the life of their rides.

[Aeroman] Chief Executive Ernesto Ruiz said two U.S. carriers had contacted him about grabbing Southwest’s spot in El Salvador, where they can cut their maintenance bills by 30% or more.

In the process, they’re actually getting a hell of a product. Much of the article goes on to applaud these service firms, who are providing quite excellent outcomes at a very decent price. The article also points out that the recent lapses in Southwest & American Airlines’ maintenance are not in any way related to these outsourced operations. In fact, the purchasers of the service are quite happy:

He described the Salvadoran operation as “an absolutely first-class facility.” Customers agree. Mitch Sine, a maintenance representative for JetBlue, was in El Salvador recently checking one of his company’s planes. He said Aeroman beats U.S.-based maintenance contractors, not just on price but on performance and on-time delivery.

“I can’t buy this kind of quality in the United States,” he said. “These people really have pride in their work.”

But, predictably, some people aren’t happy. And I think it’s no surprise that one of those unhappy people just happens to have the last name Hoffa:

“We’ve been trying for years to get the FAA to pay attention to how dangerous it is to outsource maintenance overseas,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said. Unionized mechanics at United Airlines voted this month to leave the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Organization and join the Teamsters, largely on promises by Hoffa to try to stem outsourcing.

I’m sure Hoffa is an objective, disinterested party, right? He’s not beholden in any way to the behavior that Milton Friedman described a long time ago?

The justification offered is always the same: to protect the consumer. However, the reason is demonstrated by observing who lobbies at the state legislature for the imposition or strengthening of licensure. The lobbyists are invariably representatives of the occupation in question rather than of the customers. True enough, plumbers presumably know better than anyone else what their customers need to be protected against. However, it is hard to regard altruistic concern for their customers as the primary motive behind their determined efforts to get legal power to decide who may be a plumber.

There is no reason to believe that we are less safe than we were before. In fact, we appear to be getting a safer total product at a lower cost. Anyone who argues against things being safer and better usually has their own interest, not that of the consumer, at heart.

The Right to Discriminate Based on Genetics

Very quietly, a bill has been working its way through Congress that bans Genetic Discrimination. The bill, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, has been passed by the House of Representatives with overwhelming support and will probably pass the Senate in the next few weeks.

While this bill has some powerful arguments behind it, it is a bad law and should not be passed. The freedom of association, the right to chose with whom you transact business or spend time with, is a basic human right – much like the freedom of speech and the right to your life. Respecting the freedom of association alone is a sufficient reason to oppose this bill.

The bill mandates that no medical insurer or employer may discriminate between employees based on their genetic predispostion towards disease. Dr Francis Collins explained the rationale behind the law thus:

We stand at a critical time in the development of medicine: the mapping of the human genome has provided powerful new tools to understand the genetic basis of disease, but our ability to fully realize the promise of personalized medicine is limited by legitimate fear of how this powerful information could be abused. Many people are afraid that their genetic information will be used against them and are unwilling to participate in medical research or be tested clinically, even when they are at substantial risk for serious disease. More than ten years ago, expert advisors to the genome project concluded that federal legislation is needed to provide all Americans with protection against genetic discrimination in health insurance and employment. Without it, we may never realize the full potential of genomic research, and, more importantly, of individualized approaches to health care.

Already, healthcare providers can test whether some of us carry DNA variants that pre-dispose us to certain diseases, and new research efforts could help to expand this capability and possibly offer better opportunities for preventive measures. If illness does occur, doctors will have more powerful tools to identify the molecular causes, and to prescribe medicines based on
individualized genetic information. This is our chance to transform medicine from “one-size-fits-all” to a potentially personalized approach.

[The] science of genomic medicine is rocketing forward. But fear of genetic discrimination threatens to slow both the advance of such groundbreaking biomedical research and the integration of the fruits of that research into our nation’s health care. If individuals continue to worry that they will be denied health insurance or refused employment because they have a predisposition to a particular disease, they may forego genetic testing that could help guide medical professionals to lessen their risk, simply because the test identifies them as having such a predisposition. This is about all of us, as there are no perfect specimens at the DNA level; each one of us carries numerous gene variants that increase our risk of developing one disease or another. Therefore, each one of us is at risk for genetic discrimination.

Public concerns about the possible misuse of their genetic information by insurers or employers have been documented. A recent NIH study of families at risk for hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) (a particular form of colon cancer) revealed that the number one concern expressed by participants regarding genetic testing was about losing health insurance,
should the knowledge of their genetic test result be divulged or fall into the “wrong hands.” Nearly half of individuals with a 50% chance of having the HNPCC mutation cited fear of insurance discrimination as their greatest concern surrounding their participation in this study. Similarly, a recent survey of the personal attitudes of cancer genetics specialists showed that
68% of respondents would not bill their own insurance company for HNPCC or breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA) genetic testing due to fear of genetic discrimination, and 26% of respondents said they would use an alias when being tested.

NHGRI remains deeply concerned about the impact of potential genetic discrimination on both research and clinical practice. Unless Americans are convinced that their genetic information will not be used against them, the era of personalized medicine may never come to pass. The result would be a continuation of the current one-size-fits-all medicine, ignoring the abundant
scientific evidence that the genetic differences among people help explain why some of us benefit from a therapy while others do not, and why some of us suffer severe adverse effects from a medication, while others do not.

These certainly are weighty concerns.

However, let us examine the costs such a law would impose on employers. Currently, laws impose penalties on anyone who hires someone else as a full time employee. The laws are structured so that the decision to hire someone brings a significant risk of losses to the person doing the hiring. Furthermore, mandates concerning provision of medical coverage, and government restrictions that dramatically reduce the availability of medical care mean that a person who hires another can find themselves having to pay for medical care to an employee who is not providing them with any work.

Imagine if laws mandated that you select a particular supermarket as your primary supplier of food. Imagine that these laws imposed a penalty if you switched stores, or forced you to pay the store a set amount of money whether or not you actually bought any food there. Wouldn’t you desperately need any information concerning the ability of a store to reliably provision you with your needs? Wouldn’t you be upset if you knew that the supermarket was purchasing its meat from an unhygienic meatpacker but were forbidden from using that information in selecting which supermarket you were going to be locked into? How could this law be enforced? What sort of evidence would the state gather to “prove” that you based your decision on an illegal set of criteria rather than a legal set?

In reality, employers and insurance companies discriminate illegally all the time, but are usually able evade punishment; they merely cloak their illegal decisions using legally permissible criteria as a cover. On occasion people who are not breaking discrimination laws are still found guilty of committing discrimination. This law will be yet another in the long list of anti-discrimination laws that are problematic to enforce. Unenforceable laws are, in my experience, uniformly bad; they inevitably become tools for politically persecuting those who are out of favor with the powers that be.

While it will not have a dramatic effect, I think that it will also tend make employers slightly less willing to take risks in hiring new people.

But what of Dr Collins’ legitimate and evidence-based concerns? How can we solve this problem?

Dr Collins has identified yet another aspect of the complete mess government intervention has made of the medical industry. People cannot afford to pay for their own medical care out of pocket, primarily because state governments unconscionably reduce the number of practicing doctors to a fraction of what would be provided in a free market, and because of federal tax laws encourage people to purchase socialized medical care from their employers, resulting in a form of the tragedy-of-the-commons where people are encouraged to over-consume medical care. We should be condemning the way the U.S. and state governments have cartelized the medical industry; it is this cartelization that causes people fear that without these nondiscrimination policies that they couldn’t afford to have their broken bones treated. Rather than calling for yet another unenforceable law, it would be better for Doctor Collins to lobby for the dismantling of Medicare and Medicaid, the repeal of tax laws that encourage employer funded health coverage, and the numerical caps placed by state licensure boards on the number of students medical schools graduate and the number of doctors who are allowed to practice medicine within each state.

But what of employment?

Dr Walter Block of Loyola University has written an essay on racial discrimination by employers which is very useful for tackling this subject:

Some people might recoil in horror from turning the clock on race relations back to the pre-1964 period. They would object that if a majority were free to discriminate against a minority, the latter would be greatly disadvantaged. That is, if, for example, whites, were to refuse to buy from, sell to, hire, work for, invest with, for example, blacks, the latter would be unemployed, homeless, and starving.

But this position is economically erroneous. All such scenarios fail to take into account the market’s fail-safe mechanism that helps those subjected to discrimination. Consider employment. If white racists rebuffed black workers, the first effect would indeed be unemployment or lower wages for the latter group. But this situation is only temporary, a mere first stage in the mental experiment we are now considering.(10) For with lower wages or greater unemployment, some whites(11) would be sorely tempted to employ these blacks, because they can earn additional profits exploiting workers who are underpaid or idled.

But is this not unfair to blacks? Why should they have to endure the indignity of lower wages and unemployment (or higher prices for food, clothing shelter, loans, etc.), even if it is only temporary? One answer to this very reasonable challenge is to realize that the enemy is not the market, which is riding to the rescue of the downtrodden group (by first allowing it to suffer, and then, in effect, making this suffering the key to their economic salvation). Another perhaps better answer is that this scenario is a hypothetical construct, articulated in terms of two stages, separate in time, and mainly for heuristic purposes. That is, to clarify the process, we purposefully assume that there would be two stages; in the first, the position of blacks is worsened, to show that in the second they would be rescued. In actual point of fact, there are no such two stages. Any time the wages of blacks (or anyone else) dips below their productivity levels, even by a tiny amount, there are immediate profit incentives to hire them, which starts their wages up on an upward spiral back toward equality.(18)

To return to my original objection, a person who has a genetic predisposition to an expensive illness has, statistically speaking, a lower expectation value for productivity. This is due to the fact that an employer has to take into account the risk that he is going to hire someone who then turns out to be a liability. The better path to improve the employability of people who are known to be predisposed towards genetic disease is to make it easier for employers to hire and fire employees, in part by reducing the laws that penalize discrimination rather than adding to them. Then an employer would not care so much about long-term risks. Rather than having to withhold a portion of their costs to hedge against unwanted dead-weight, they could pay wages that better approximate the marginal productivity of employees, resulting in higher take home wages. Those who are aware of their predisposition towards diseases would be then free to divert these higher wages towards preventative care.

There is yet another point that Dr Collins is bringing up that must be addressed. Even if the U.S. and state governments were to adopt my recommendations, people might still refuse to take the tests because people would probably still be afraid that the tests might be used against them somehow.

Unfortunately, the state can do nothing more than removing the interventions that have caused people to be reluctant to take the tests. I strongly doubt that this law will allay people’s concerns about taking these tests. Until the government stops making medical care unobtainable or prohibitively expensive for most people, people will still be reluctant to be tested, and I fear that Dr Collins’ vision of a medical care tailored to individuals will not be realized.

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.

UK Considering “Permit” To Buy Cigarettes

Let me ask, does this remind anyone of a marijuana tax stamp?

A ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone who does not pay for a government smoking permit has been proposed by Health England, a ministerial advisory board.

The idea is the brainchild of the board’s chairman, Julian Le Grand, who is a professor at the London School of Economics and was Tony Blair’s senior health adviser. In a paper being studied by Lord Darzi, the health minister appointed to oversee NHS reform, he says many smokers would be helped to break the habit if they had to make a decision whether to “opt in”.

The permit might cost as little as £10, but acquiring it could be made difficult if the forms were sufficiently complex, Le Grand said last night.

His paper says: “Suppose every individual who wanted to buy tobacco had to purchase a permit. And suppose further they had to do this every year. To get a permit would involve filling out a form and supplying a photograph, as well as paying the fee. Permits would only be issued to those over 18 and evidence of age would have to be provided. The money raised would go to the NHS.”

I’m sure that acquiring the permit would slowly become more and more difficult. Just think, the day comes that you apply for the permit and your voice is a bit hoarse from having a cold, or from cheering on your favorite “football” team, and they interpret the voice as an indication that you’re unhealthy and deny your permit.

In fact, it seems like this is one more step in the goal of eventually making smoking downright illegal. If they weren’t making enormous taxes off the sale of cigarettes, they’d already have done it. Of course, you may point out that if they make cigarettes illegal, only the criminals will have cigarettes. And I’d point out that you’re right, as high cigarette taxes have already created a black market that will only expand with a law like this:

The paper, written by Le Grand and Divya Srivastava, an LSE researcher, acknowledges: “Administratively it would require addressing the problem of the existing black markets and smuggling in tobacco; but this should probably be done anyway.”

Hell, if the government can’t stop bacon-wrapped hot dogs, how are they going to stop addictive drugs?

Hat Tip: Radley Balko

Tempe City Council’s Arbitrary Ruling Almost Ends In Mass Shooting At Super Bowl

Kurt Havelock, 35, planned to shoot people at the Super Bowl.  He loaded up his car with an AR-15 rifle and 200 rounds of ammunition, then drove to a parking lot near the stadium.  When he got there, however, he was suddenly hit with remorse, realized that what he was doing was wrong and decided that he couldn’t go through with it, so he turned around and went home.  Unfortunately for Mr. Havelock, he’d already mailed an eight-page manifesto to the newspapers so it wasn’t long before the authorities descended and arrested and charged him for sending threatening communications (which was completely appropriate for the cops to do).

And what set the guy off?

The city of Tempe, Arizona refused to recommend his application for a liquor license for the bar he was trying to start up because six of the seven council members didn’t like the name “Drunkenstein’s“.

I Can’t Think Of A Catchy Title

I suppose the best way to describe myself would be to say that I have a problem with authority. I’ve always disliked when people told me what to do, even as a young child, and I’ve always preferred to find my own path through life and make my own decisions, even if it occasionally went against the conventional wisdom and sometimes worked to my short-term disadvantage. My dad said I inherited it from him, but that I’ve taken it to a whole new level. When I was young I wanted to be a journalist, until I got to college and realized that journalism was less about the search for objective truth than it was about writing the stories that best suited your employer’s interests, whether they were true or not (which didn’t sit well with me at all). So I drifted aimlessly through a couple of years of college as an indifferent (often drunk) student, unsure of what to do with myself until one of my fraternity brothers gave me a copy of “The Fountainhead” and I got hooked on the ideas that success and a refusal to conform to societal standards were not mutally exclusive, and that the greatest evil in the world was society and government’s failure to recognize or accept individuality and individual freedom as a strength, not a weakness. So I threw myself into studying politics and history, worked in a few political campaigns after college, had some success, and thought about doing a career in politics until I realized that most of the people I knew who had never had a career outside of politics had no comprehension of how the real world actually worked and tended to make a lot of bad, self-absorbed decisions that rarely helped the people they claimed to be representing.

That didn’t sit well with me either, so I decided to put any thoughts of going into politics on hold until I’d actually had a life and possibly a real career, and I spent the next couple of years drifting between a series of random yet educational jobs (debt collector, deliveryman, computer salesman, repo man, dairy worker) that taught me the value of hard work, personal responsibility and the financial benefits of dining at Taco John’s on Tuesday nights (2 tacos for a buck) when money got tight.

After awhile, however, the desire to see the world (and the need for a more consistent and slightly larger paycheck) convinced me to join the Army, where I spent ten years traveling around the world on the government dime working as an intelligence analyst. I generally enjoyed my time in the military, despite the aforementioned problem with authority (which wasn’t as much of an issue in the military as many people might think it would be), and I got to see that the decisions our political leaders make were sometimes frivolous, often ill-informed, and always had unforeseen repercussions down the road…especially on the soldiers tasked with implementing those decisions. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my 10 years in the military doing jobs I enjoyed, traveling to countries that I always wanted to see (Scotland is the greatest place in the world to hang out, Afghanistan is very underrated) and working with people I liked and respected, until I finally decided that at 35 it was time to move into a job where I didn’t have the threat of relocation lying over my head every two or three years, where I didn’t have to worry about my friends being blown up, and where I didn’t have to work in any capacity for George W. Bush.

I work now for a financial company in Kansas where I’m responsible for overseeing, pricing and maintaining farms, commercial and residential properties, mineral assets, insurance policies, annuities, etc. In my spare time I like to read books on economics, history, and politics (I’m preparing to tackle Murray Rothbard’s “Man, Economy & State” and Von Mises’ “Human Action”…should take me about a year at the rate I’m currently finishing books), watch movies, and destroy posers on “Halo 3″ (where I’m signed in under “UCrawford” for anyone interested in taking a shot at me some time). I used to play rugby until age, inconsistent conditioning, and a string of gradually worsening injuries finally convinced me to quit. I’m a rabid fan of the Kansas Jayhawks in general and their basketball and football programs in particular and I’m also a devoted fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. I’m also fond of going online and debating/picking fights with people on the merits of the philosophy of individual freedom…sometimes to the point of being an asshole (but hopefully a reasonably well-informed asshole). I’ve been a big fan of The Liberty Papers ever since finding it online, I respect the body of work they’ve put out, and I’m honored that Brad Warbiany invited me to join his jolly band of freedom fighters. So cheers, Brad, and to everyone else I look forward to reaching consensus or locking horns with you in the near future.