About Me

Mike LaFerrara

New Jersey

Greetings and welcome to my blog. My name is Michael A. (Mike) LaFerrara. I sometimes use the pen or "screen" name "Mike Zemack" or "Zemack" in online activism such as posted comments on articles. Zemack stands for the first letters of the names of my six grandchildren. I was born in 1949 in New Jersey, U.S.A., where I still reside with my wife of 42 years. The goal and purpose of my blog is the discussion of current or historical human events based on an Objectivist perspective. For a full discription of the purpose of this blog, see my Introduction. One final introductory note: I strongly recommend Philosophy, Who Needs it, which highlights the inescapable importance of philosophy in every individual's life. I can be reached at mal.atlas@comcast.net. Thanks, Mike LaFerrara.

My Complete Profile

    Of Special Interest
FIRM Healthcare Publications
ARC On Healthcare
Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis
ARC's Response to the Financial Crisis
The Financial Crisis: Causes and Possible Cures

    Influential Books
-AYN RAND'S NORMATIVE ETHICS...The Virtuous Egoist Tara Smith
-FREE MARKET REVOLUTION: How Ayn Rand's Ideas can End Big Government Yaron Brook and Don Watkins
LIBERAL FASCISM...The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning Jonah Goldberg
-REAGAN'S WAR Peter Schweizer
-SOMETHING FOR NOTHING: The All-Consuming Desire that turns the American Dream into a Nightmare Brian Tracy
-STATE OF FEAR Michael Crichton
-THE OMINOUS PARALLELS...The Chaos of Pre-Hitler Germany...and The End of Freedom in America Leonard Peikoff
EXPLAINING POSTMODERNISM...Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault

    Recommended Reading
-Moral Health Care vs. “Universal Health Care” by Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh

-Health Care is not a Right by Leonard Peikoff

FAQ on Free Market Health Insurance

Mandatory Health Insurance: Wrong for Massachusetts, Wrong for America

Principles of a Free Society

The Comprachicos

Why Individual Rights?

    Meaningful Quotes
-"I love getting older...I get to grow up and learn things." Madalyn, then 5 years old, Montessori student, and my grand-daughter

-"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." Francis Bacon

-"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." Ronald Reagan

-"Thinking is hard work. If it weren't, more people would do it." Henry Ford

-"Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries." Ayn Rand

Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Friday, January 30, 2015
The Not-So-Subtle ObamaCare Extortion
As ObamaCare gets more entrenched, some previously recalcitrant governors are, as a New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial trumpeted, rethinking their “stiff-arm of ObamaCare.” The Star-Ledger writes:

Tennessee, like most states led by Republican governors, was so adamantly opposed to Obamacare that it rejected the money Washington offered to expand Medicaid coverage.

Now Gov. Bill Haslam is having second thoughts. He has watched several hospitals in his state close down because they could not afford the care they provided to the poor and uninsured.

Even the hospitals that survived are taking a hit.
So now the governor is calling a special session of the state’s Legislature in January to reverse course.

. . . Republican governors in several other states that rejected Medicaid expansion are reconsidering as well . . . . They include Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, North Carolina and Alabama.

The Star-Ledger notes that “Obamacare covers all costs [for Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare] through 2016, and at least 90 percent of the costs after that.” But that money is only available if states sign on to ObamaCare.

I left these comments:

What the S-L just described is extortion. The Federal government gets its money from the taxpayers of the states, then returns it with strings attached. It’s a form of tyranny. There are no Federal dollars. There are only dollars earned and owned by individuals and businesses, forcibly seized by government, then laundered into “government money”—and “returned” on condition of adopting ObamaCare, or Common Core, or some such Federal scheme.

What should be done now is what should have been done instead of ObamaCare’s power grab over health insurance: Eliminate the government policies that created all of the problems ObamaCare was fraudulently sold as a fix for, like pre-existing conditions and spiralling costs. E.G.—eliminate the policies that tie insurance to employment; repeal the thousands of crippling insurance mandates; end policies that forbid insurance competition, especially across state lines. These are not new ideas. But they’re the right ones.

It’s past time to outright repeal ObamaCare, now that it has been implemented. It’s time now to phase it out. Canada’s immoral, doctor-enslavement system is not the answer. (Never mind polls. Polls only tell what healthy people think. The real problem is getting sick under socialized medicine. As the saying goes, there are no victims of socialized medicine to complain, because the victims are all dead.)

The government can make healthcare and health insurance easier to get and more affordable by repealing bad government policies. But it has no legitimate business providing healthcare for all. In order to do that, it must control healthcare. To control healthcare, it must massively violate the rights of healthcare consumers and producers to manage their own healthcare affairs, and to  contract voluntarily with each other. That is immoral, whether disguised as single-payer, socialized, or Medicare-for all.

We are not our brothers’ keepers, and government should not force us to be. We, as individuals, are morally responsible for our own lives. A free market, not Medicare-for all, is the only moral, rights-respecting solution. And by its nature—consumers seeking the best care at the best price, producers competing for consumers’ business, and voluntary private charity—a free market is the best way to “control” costs, maximize quality, and expand access, without trampling rights under a government bureaucracy. The moral and the practical—perfect together.

Related Reading:

A Healthcare Bandaid, where Major Surgery is Needed

Real vs. Our Pseudo Health Insurance

Government Intervention, not the Health Insurance Industry, "Ruined the System"

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
New Jersey Advances Toward ‘Right to Die’ Justice
The New Jersey Star-Ledger editorialized that New Jersey is the next platform for the right-to-die debate:

After observing that:

The decision by Brittany Maynard to legally end her own life in Oregon Saturday was the latest cause célèbre for the majority of Americans who assert the right to self-determination.

The Star-Ledger wrote that:

The New Jersey Death with Dignity Act “would sanction an act of humanity, because the state’s only role should be to allow people their profoundly personal choices, especially the choice to die with dignity.

I left these comments:

“. . . the state’s only role should be to allow people their profoundly personal choices . . .”

I’m going to remember that sweeping statement for future reference. Though I believe the wording should be , “. . . the state’s only role should be to protect people’s inalienable right to their profoundly personal choices . . .” I profoundly agree.

As regards this issue, I fully agree with the The New Jersey Death with Dignity Act, as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough, being restricted as it is only to terminally ill people with six months to live. What about people existing in a state of living death? This very newspaper published a story by NJ Star-Ledger columnist Bob Braun about Christina Symanski. Symanski wasn’t terminally ill. After years of living in what she herself rationally judged to be an intolerable life, she wanted to end it. But she could find no legal professional help—not even if she moved to Oregon. So she was left with starving herself to death over several agonizing weeks.

As for myself, although 65 and currently healthy, the possibility of a horrendous end-of-life scenario is very real. I am going to die. We all are. We can’t always control how and when we die. But to the extent that I can, who has the right to stop me? Whether I have only months left due to a terminal illness, or years of living death, who has the right to take away what control I have? It’s my life, and my death.

Assisted suicide should not only be legal for people with a terminal illness, but for anyone who judges his life to be no longer worth living.

In answer to correspondent NJ Conservative, who posted comments against the bill, I asked:

And by what right does the state forbid any adult of sound mind from making his own choices regarding how and when to die, by his own rational judgement, by his own hand, with his own money, in cooperation with willing doctors and pharmacists?

No answer. There really isn’t any.

Both the NJ Senate and the NJ Assembly advanced the bill out of committee. As of this writing, we await the vote of the full legislature.

Related Reading:

The Inhumanity of Laws against Doctor-Assisted Suicide

Does Allowing Assisted Suicide "INSERT the Government Into Private Decision-Making," or Remove It?

Denying Assisted Suicide Rights Based on Potential “Abuse” is Immoral


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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Monday, January 26, 2015
Time for Some Humanity on Doctor-Assisted Suicide
In December, the Objective Standard published my article The Inhumanity of Laws Against Doctor-Assisted Suicide.

Here is an excerpt:

Currently, assisted suicide is unequivocally legal in only three states—Oregon, Washington, and Vermont—where it is allowed in cases of terminal illness in which doctors estimate that the person in question will die of his illness within six months. In Montana and New Mexico, although courts have ruled in favor of physicians assisting in the suicide of terminally ill patients, the legal situation appears unsettled. But even in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont, the laws do not fully recognize and protect an individual’s right to take his own life or to contract with a medical professional for assistance in this regard.

In addition to these states, in November the New Jersey state assembly passed a bill, “The New Jersey Death With Dignity Act,” that would legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients diagnosed with less that six months to live. Please read my whole article as this controversial issue cuts to the heart of what it means to be free.

Related Reading:

Conservatives’ Collectivist Case Against Assisted Suicide—Ari Armstrong

Assisted Suicide, "Liberals", and Conservatives

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Saturday, January 24, 2015
ARI's Watkins Sums Up Obama's State of the Union Message: More Central Planning
ARI's Watkins Sums Up Obama's State of the Union Message: More Central Planning

The Ayn Rand Institute’s Don Watkins nicely summed up President Obama’s State of the Union address:

“My fellow Americans,” Obama said at the close of last night’s State of the Union, “we too are a strong, tight-knit family,” It’s not unusual for politicians to invoke folksy metaphors of this kind, but in this case it just about sums up Obama’s worldview.

According to the president, Americans are not independent individuals who should be free to pursue their own diverse goals and values. Instead “we are one people” who should rally around a “sense of common purpose.” What purpose? No answer. Who should decide that purpose? That much was abundantly clear.
For Obama, the government’s role is to set our goals, determine our priorities, and centrally plan our lives so that we achieve these priorities.

You can read the whole essay here.

Related Reading:

Tax Inversion: “Fiduciary Duty to Shareholders” vs. “Duty to Society”

The Smoking Collectivist Gun Behind the Welfare Statists' Bleeding Hearts

Obama's Sugar-Coated Poison

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Friday, January 23, 2015
A Free Market is the Only ‘Natural Order of Things’
Continuing my critique of the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s editorial regarding Obama’s State of the Union address,  Obama's Robin Hood plan is overdue, I addressed a tactic that proponents of liberty are often accused of; that if you oppose the latest statist proposal, you’re for the status quo. Tom Moran, for the Star-Ledger editorial board, wrote in the comments:

I don't regard the current distribution of wealth as given from God, or even the free market. The government makes choices that influence it now. It makes the rules on minimum wage, on organizing unions, on trade agreements, on preferential treatment for income coming from capital over labor, on education.

Even subsidizing home mortgages, which is a giant benefit to the rich.

So those who say this natural order of things should be left alone are missing that. Obama would bring some measure of justice to this

I left this reply:

“So those who say this natural order of things should be left alone are missing that.”

The current status quo is not the “natural order of things.” We don’t have a free market. We have a mixed economy; an economy corrupted by government controls and political favor peddling. In today’s system, some of the wealth of the rich comes from cashing in on government favors or asset prices inflated by the Federal Reserve’s inflationary easy money policies. But that is a consequence of our mixed economy, regulatory welfare state and the Federal Reserve. In our politically corrupted system, the coercive power of government undermines the justice of the free market elements. Notice that the stagnant wages since the late 1990s alluded to above coincides with a huge expansion in government spending, debt, and regulations under Bush/Obama. Obama’s policies don’t fix anything. They only double down on the status quo. The cure is not more redistributive taxes, which doesn’t distinguish between fortunes by favor and fortunes by productive work—between the unearned and the earned. We should instead roll back the government’s power over our economic affairs, institute a non-discriminatory low-rate flat income tax after a single personal exemption for each individual, and abolish the Federal Reserve.

The justice of the free market derives from the fact that people’s wealth is determined not only by the individual’s own efforts but by the voluntary choices of those he trades with. Government is force, and when the government interferes in the economy, it brings the power of aggressive force (the power of a gun) to bear against private decision-making. A free market is the absence of aggressive government force. That fact makes free market capitalism the only system of economic justice because it is based on voluntary, mutually beneficial association and contract.

Of course, property rights—the essence of economic justice—requires a government to protect those rights. That government has to be paid for. That’s where taxes come in. Ideally, taxes should be voluntary. But that’s obviously not possible today, given the widespread entitlement mentality. The next best thing; a flat tax. Steve Forbes suggested a good one. His plan would have only a healthy personal exemption for every individual, which would exempt roughly the first $46,000 of income for a family of 4. After that, a non-discriminatory 17% tax on all income. That’s fairness. That’s real economic justice.

Related Reading:

Economic Equality vs. Political Equality: Which is Your America?

Time for a Flat Tax

Capitalism and the Moral High Ground—Craig Biddle

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal—Ayn Rand

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Thursday, January 22, 2015
The Starnes Heirs and the Left’s Tribal View of Wealth
In its editorial on the eve of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, Obama's Robin Hood plan is overdue, the New Jersey Star-Ledger wrote this gem: “We are all working to build the nation’s wealth, but the elites are capturing virtually all the gains.” In response to readers’ comments, Tom Moran, the author of the editorial, said: “I don't regard the current distribution of wealth as given from God, or even the free market.”

Behind every statist, you will find collectivist rationalizations. How many people do you know of who start out for work with “the nation’s wealth” in mind? How many people do you know of who think of their property as a “capture” rather than their earnings? But that line of mental garbage serves a very sinister purpose.

I left this reply:

“I don't regard the current distribution of wealth as given from God, or even the free market.”

A nation’s wealth is not a collective tribal product. A nation’s wealth is the sum of the wealth created by productive individuals working, contracting, and trading freely in the market. To speak in terms of the proper “distribution” of wealth is to deny individual ability, effort, ambition, and ingenuity, and encourage a sense of entitlement. The tribal view of wealth is merely a rationalization for takers to get a “fair share” of the fruits of other people’s intellectual and physical labor; for prestige-seeking phonies to pose as champions of “economic justice” through redistribution of other people’s wealth; and for power-lusters to gain the power to do the distributing.

I wrote that last sentence with Atlas Shrugged’s Twentieth Century Motor Company saga in mind. The decline and collapse of that fictional, once-great company was driven by the Starnes heirs’ institution of the plan, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” The saga was recounted in the tramp’s speech to Dagny Taggart, in which the tramp explains how the plan works to destroy human beings and who the real beneficiaries of Marx’s slogan are. Today we see real life equivalents of Gerald Starnes (the material parasite), Eric Starnes (the spiritual parasite), and Ivy Starnes (the power-luster) all around us.

The tramp’s speech is the best dramatization of Marx’s "From Each According to His Ability, To Each According to His Need" I have ever read.

Related Reading:

Ayn Rand Anticipated Obama's "You Didn't Build That" Outrage

Atlas Shrugged—Ayn Rand

Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice—Craig Biddle

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Obamanomics vs. Robin Hood
Hours before President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, the New Jersey Star-Ledger posted an editorial titled Obama's Robin Hood plan is overdue.

After an opening diatribe about the unfairness of the system—it paraphrases Elizabeth Warren regarding how “the game today is rigged”—the Star-Ledger wrote:

President Obama’s tax plan, which will be the centerpiece of his State of the Union address Tuesday night, has to be viewed through this lens. Pared down to its basics, it is a Robin Hood plan that raises taxes on the top 1 percent, while cutting taxes for the middle-class and below.

I left these comments:

Keep in mind that the real Robin Hood took wealth back from the thieving aristocratic rulers and returned it to the poor commoners who actually earned the wealth.

Today, the Robin Hood legend has been corrupted into something morally sinister; that it’s OK to take from others, as long as those others have more than you. That is not economic justice. That is theft.

“Economic justice” as the Left uses the term is a means of empowering government to favor some economic groups over others; i.e., to take from those who earned it and give it to those who didn’t. It is a reverse Robin Hood ideology that sides with the very people who were the targets of the real Robin Hood’s crusade for justice—looting rulers and their favored constituents. Case in point: Obama’s “Free” Community College Scheme, which would award handouts to select community college students paid for by looting the people who choose a different path.

What is real economic justice? Simply this: Whatever the economic level, if you earned it, it’s yours by right, and you are free to spend it, invest it, save it, or give it away according to your own judgement.

Obama is no Robin Hood. He’s the thieving aristocratic ruler, with a twist: He takes from the productive rich, not to enrich himself monetarily but to empower the new aristocratic rulers through vote buying.

Related Reading:

The Truth About Robin Hood

Obama’s “Free” Community College Scheme

Russell Crowe vs. the Real Robin Hood

The Left’s Pragmatic Shift in Marketing is a Good Sign

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Philosophy, Who Needs It?

The Objectivist Ethics

Atlas Shrugged: America's Second Declaration of Independence

    Blogs of Interest
George Reisman's Blog
Junk Science
Leonard Peikoff
Rule of Reason
The Objectivist
The Rational Capitalist
The Undercurrent
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We Stand Firm

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Alex Epstein at Forbes
Ayn Rand Campus
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Capitalism Magazine
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Center for Industrial Progress
Harry Binswanger @ Forbes
Job Creators Alliance
My Objective Standard Archives
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The Objective Standard
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The Not-So-Subtle ObamaCare Extortion
New Jersey Advances Toward ‘Right to Die’ Justice
Time for Some Humanity on Doctor-Assisted Suicide
ARI's Watkins Sums Up Obama's State of the Union M...
A Free Market is the Only ‘Natural Order of Things...
The Starnes Heirs and the Left’s Tribal View of We...
Obamanomics vs. Robin Hood
Are Pipelines a Threat to Water?
Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. For His Moral I...
Why Don’t Most Americans Get that Government Wealt...

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