Monday, April 30, 2012

Apple Followup: Barbara Straniero's Mistaken Understanding of "Free Market"

A rebuttal to my NJ Star-Ledger letter-to-the-editor was published on 4/21/12. It was written by Barbara Straniero of Scotch Plains, NJ, and is available online under the heading, Antitrust laws wouldn't be needed if corporations played by the rules. 

Here is my response, posted in the comments section:

zemack April 21, 2012 at 10:39AM

Wouldn’t the company with the best product or the one with the lowest prices simply make the most profits?
 Generally, yes. And as you say, product quality and price are both relevant factors. But how are “lowest prices” set in a free market?
The true market value of a product would be decided by the consumer, who would receive the best value for the money.
Wrong. Otherwise, why wouldn’t any consumer decide on $0.00? Market value is established by mutual consent of “consumer” and producer. Prices are “fixed” every time a “consumer” voluntarily buys a product from a willing seller. Apple and the publishers voluntarily agreed to offer their products for sale at a certain price. “Consumers” voluntarily bought those products in droves, thus establishing market value. If that is price fixing, then every one of the billions of sales that take place in America is “price fixing,” and every e-book “consumer” is guilty of price fixing. In fact, it is the government that is trying to coercively fix prices below the established market value, not the companies or the “consumers.”
You speak of “free market rules,” but what do you think the “free” in free market means? It means, free from physical force and coercion. It means free and voluntary agreement. It means when both parties don’t agree on the terms of a contract, including price, each is free precisely to “take their business elsewhere” regardless of size (if “equal protection under the law” means anything).
Apple offered to contract with the publishers on certain terms, which included requiring offering the same pricing terms to Apple’s competitors. The publishers agreed to those terms voluntarily. Amazon then agreed to the publishers’ terms, voluntarily. “Consumers” then agreed to those pricing terms, by buying millions upon millions of e-books and e-readers. All transactions were voluntary. The publishers were free to turn down Apple’s contract. Amazon was free to turn down the publishers. “Consumers” were free to refuse to buy. None did. No other companies were barred from entering the market. Unless one has an ingrained entitlement mentality, one can call this nothing but “free and open competition.” What the companies did was compete. What the government is doing is stifling competition by criminalizing legitimate contracts.
As to your equation of “antitrust laws [with] copyright laws, bribery laws, corporate spying laws or computer hacking laws,” that is like equating an armed robber with his victims. The last four are intended to protect property rights and prosecute fraud. The antitrust laws upend “free market rules” by violating the rights of private citizens to engage freely in voluntary, mutually beneficial contracts. As I said in my letter, this case is legalized extortion by your government officials.

For more, I recommend:

The Abolition of Antitrust

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Liberate the American Ethanol Market

My latest post at The Objective Standard Blog is up. Here is the opening paragraph:

Texas chemical maker Celanese has developed a technology to make ethanol from natural gas and coal, both plentiful in America, and is building plants in Texas and China to manufacture it. “If it works,” notes Forbes columnist Christopher Helman, it “will revolutionize the fuel industry.”
Read Repeal, Don’t Amend, the “Renewable Fuel Standard” Law in full!

Note: In Helman's article, he says that corn-based ethanol "arguably cuts pollution coming out of U.S. tailpipes, but at a huge cost. Since 2005, when Congress required that ethanol be added to your gas tank, U.S. corn prices have tripled."

China, by contrast, "sees ethanol as a vital fuel, but with so many mouths to feed it can’t waste farmland growing it."

The key point, however, is that all types of ethanol should be freely competing in the market. The cumulative voluntary choices of market participants will determine the best product at the best price. Even more important, market participants--manufacturers, farmers, gas drillers, coal miners, "consumers"--all have an inalienable right to make those choices, not have them imposed by politicians.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wal-Mart's Mexican "Bribery" is Really Political Extortion

The New Jersey Star-Ledger Editorial Board demanded; Criminal Investigation Needed Into Wal-Mart's Mexico's Bribery Scandal

Citing a New York Times investigative article, the editors said, "Wal-Mart de Mexico slipped cash-stuffed envelopes — more than $24 million worth — to corrupt officials to speed construction of new stores." This, say the editors, explains "at least part of the company’s south-of-the-border success."

Saying the penalties for such "crimes" are way too weak, the editors called for a "knockout Punch" against Wal-Mart and other "corporate felons," including massive fines and jail time.

I left the following comments

April 27, 2012 at 10:03AM
First, Wal-Mart didn’t reap “the multibillion-dollar profits of their crimes.” Those profits were legitimately and morally earned by the value they brought to the millions of Mexican people who voluntarily patronize their stores. This great American company should be lauded for that business success, not smeared and condemned.
As to Wal-Mart’s “crimes,” the shoe is on the foot of the government officials who were extorting protection money in exchange for allowing the company’s stores to be built. The root of the problem is the government’s illegitimate power to force private citizens to seek permission from it in order to build in the first place. It’s a prescription for political abuse. What’s the essential difference between a “bribe” and a permit fee, aside from legal technicalities? Both are rent-seeking payments demanded by government officials, without which they will hold up legitimate economic activity.
The problem is unjust law, not “Corporate felony.”
The government’s proper function is to protect the rights of landowners to build on their property what they please, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others.
Whose rights did Wal-Mart infringe, either before or after making those payments? Nobody’s. What, exactly, was the “human toll” the editors speak of? Wal-Mart is a victim, not a villain. It’s bad enough that more money could be extorted from the company in the form of monetary fines. It would be a grave injustice if any Wal-Mart employees are jailed, as the editors suggest.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Memo to GOP: It's the Philosophy, Stupid

My latest post at TOS Blog focuses on a subject I've covered extensively; the need for the Republican Party to understand the philosophical nature of the political battle they are in. Here is the opening paragraph:

The Democrats, having made so-called “fairness” a key campaign issue in this year’s election, engineered a symbolic Senate vote on the so-called “Buffet Rule”—a special, higher income tax rate on the “rich.” As expected, it was defeated.

Read the rest of my post, Will Republicans Wield Muskets in a Nuclear War?

Note: "Social Darwinism" as I use the term in this post refers to a society in which various groups prey on one another, each trying to take some economic benefit from others by legislative force much as jungle animals fight over finite resources in the wild, with the “strongest” and “fittest” winning out. It is a term the free market’s enemies falsely level against capitalism, but which in fact aptly describes the mixed economy.

In a piece I referenced in the TOS post, Robert Reich defines social Darwinism as "the conservative creed during the late 19th century – legitimizing a politics in which the lackeys of robber barons deposited sacks of money on legislators’ desks...." 

A mixed economy is a mixture of freedom and government controls, in which productive citizens like the unjustly labeled "robber barons" must pay protection money to politicians who possess--and wield--the illegitimate power to block or hamper them from producing. 

Statist lackeys like Reich believe that politicians should be free to merrily go their controlling, expropriating, regulating way in the name of the "common good," insulated from the "influence" of the private citizens whose economic lives they hold in their hands. If Reich and their ilk wanted to stop "sacks of money" from being "deposited...on legislators' desks" --which is a hugely bigger problem today than it was in the 19th Century--they would fight for laissez-faire capitalism, the only system that separates economics and state. 

Take away the government's power to control the economic activities of its citizens, and you remove any need or incentive for private citizens to lobby and pay off politicians with campaign cash. But the Reich's of the world want to have it both ways--protect the regulatory welfare state and keep back the citizens--a prescription for a totalitarian state.

For more related to my TOS post, see my 11/29/08 post, My Challenge to the GOP: A Philosophical Contract With America.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Antitrust Prosecution of Apple is Rotten

The New Jersey Star-Ledger has published my letter-to-the-editor on the Apple antitrust case, making it the featured letter in the Readers Forum of the 4/18/12 print addition. My letter has also been published on-line under the heading, Antitrust case against Apple is unfair. Here is a reprint:

The antitrust case against Apple and five major book publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster — exposes the true nature of the antitrust laws.

These companies’ only “crime” was to engage in free, voluntary and morally legitimate business contracts for the purpose of maximizing their profits earned from their products — products of such high value and incredibly cheap prices that untold millions of “consumers” are willing and able to buy them; products marketed in a spirit of free and open competition.

Yet, in what can be described only as Orwellian, federal and state government officials — who themselves produce nothing of value for “consumers” to buy — have decided to prosecute these great American companies for the alleged criminal activity of “conspiring to fix the prices” on their own products!

This is nothing more than legalized extortion. The antitrust laws are, and always have been, a grossly unjust travesty that punishes successful companies — for being successful. Such arbitrary laws have no place in a society dedicated to the protection of individual rights and the rule of objective law, rather than of men over men. The antitrust laws are un-American and should be abolished.

Michael A. LaFerrara, Flemington
I also responed to the article Apple Should Settle E-Book Antitrust Case, Expert Says in the comments section. Citing a former DOJ attorney, the article called the evidence "so strong that the companies would be foolish not to settle the case with the Department of Justice out of court." The attorney, David Balto, was quoted as saying ""Government enforcers fantasize about this kind of evidence but this is beyond their fantasies."

What is this "evidence?"
Among the government's evidence is records of emails and phone calls that allegedly show executives from the companies, including late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, openly conspiring to use their market clout to increase the price of e-books industry wide.
I left the following comments:


I see nothing wrong with anything the companies did as described here. What I do see is Orwellian claptrap relating to the government’s case, such as “Federal Trade Commission, which regulates industry competition,” “restore the free market” by governmental decree, or the characterization of the executives private contractual correspondence as “conspiracy.” What Apple and the publishers did is competition in a free market; the “free” meaning free from physical force and coercion. What government is now doing is force, not free market competition.

These companies’ “market clout” represents benign economic power earned from the valuable products priced to attract untold tens of millions of willing “consumers” voluntarily buying them. It is the government that is attempting true price fixing—i.e., by political power of force and coercion. By what perverse logic do Apple and the publishers’ voluntary actions constitute “fixing” the price, but government’s coercive actions do not?

The Antitrust laws are an American travesty, and should be abolished.
For more on this, please read:

States Join Extortion Racket Against Book Publishers

3 Things Everyone Needs to Know About the Apple Antitrust Case

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Duty to Die" in ObamaCare?

My latest post is up at The Objective Standard Blog. Here is the opening sentence:

In 1984, then-Colorado Governor Dick Lamm infamously said, “We’ve got a duty to die and get out of the way with all of our machines and artificial hearts and everything else like that and let the other society, our kids, build a reasonable life.”
Read the rest at ObamaCare and the Statists' False Alternative.


Macmillan Report

Sentenced to Death for Being Old

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Abortion and Individual Rights - Part 2

[Continued from Abortion and Individual Rights--Part 1]

Applying the principle of individual rights to concrete issues is not always easy or clear-cut. But it is doable and necessary, once one understands the fundamental nature of rights. Every human conflict, issue, or controversy – including today’s “hot-button” issues – is ultimately a matter of applying the principle of rights. This is true of the political turmoil surrounding the so-called social issues. In the case of gay marriage, which I have already addressed, the matter is simple and straightforward. The issue of abortion, however, is more complex (and emotional) - given the nature and facts about human procreation; the nexus of the actual with the developing human being. Abortion thus represents the greatest challenge for rights advocates.

Abortion is defined variously as follows:

1- the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.

2- the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.

3- In medicine, an abortion is the premature exit of the products of conception (the fetus, fetal membranes, and placenta) from the uterus. It is the loss of a pregnancy and does not refer to why that pregnancy was lost.

4- expulsion from the uterus of the products of conception before the fetus is viable.

There are questions raised here. Where precisely does viability definitively fit in with the concept "abortion?" In common usage, #1 is the definition most people think of when they hear the term “abortion.” It is also the broadest definition. But does abortion necessarily have to be followed by the death of a fetus? In the pre-viable stage, the answer is obviously yes. What about the latter stages, when a fetus is viable (can live on its own, outside the womb)? This confusion need not be a distraction. Of necessity, as a matter of law and politics, the issue of abortion relates to the entire length of the pregnancy. However, for the sake of argument and simplicity here, I use #4 as my reference. Later, I'll broaden my focus to the post-viable stage, where the abortion issue diverges along parallel paths.

I’ll begin by properly framing the debate. The question is not, “when does life begin.” In a real sense, life precedes conception. The Catholic Church – for better or for worse the leading Christian voice – capitalizes on this. As the Church will tell you, both the sperm and the unfertilized egg represent a potential human life, and it is only God that may determine when they forge an actual embryo – which is why the Church all forms of “artificial” birth control except the allegedly God-sanctioned rhythm method. In other words, not just abortion but also birth control stops a human life. Framing the debate around when life begins can have dangerous consequences, as we shall see later. That aside, the fact that conception represents the beginning of a process that may lead to the development of a new human being is not relevant to the issue of abortion. Rather, the relevant and proper question surrounding the abortion issue is: When do rights begin? (In regard to this last point, I have long believed that the issue of abortion is a matter of rights. Ari Armstrong and Diana Hsieh make this crucial conceptual identification, thus clarifying the abortion issue immensely. See their position paper concerning the “Personhood Movement” and their article in the Winter 2011-2012 Objective Standard, which is available for free and to which I will return to later.)

Abortion rights opponents largely base their case on the idea that a fetus or unborn child has a “right to life” equal to that of other human beings, including the mother. But it is not merely a matter of the “right to life”. The right to life does not mean merely to exist – to be fed or protected from the elements; i.e., to exist merely as a mindless, soulless chunk of tissue and bones. On that premise, slavery is not a violation of the right to life, as long as the slave is minimally fed, housed, and clothed. The same would be true of political prisoners rotting in North Korean or Cuban dungeons, on the anti-abortion rights premise. But that - a mindless, soulless chunk of tissue and bones - is the premise upon which the grossly misnamed “pro life” movement bases its case. Notice that the individual that actually has a life – the pregnant woman – is given no consideration at all.

No, the right to life entails much more. In this regard, I want to focus on the precision of the Founding Fathers, who clearly articulate the point. Note that the Founders were generally relatively wealthy, productive achievers living under what was in their time the freest regime in world history – the English Crown. Yet, that was not enough. They still saw themselves as people whose right to life was being systematically violated by the Crown’s economic regulations and laws. For the colonists, to live meant to live free … free from coercive restrictions by other men, private or public. Thus, the key phrase in the Declaration of Independence ties together several crucial concepts:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

There is no accident here. Clearly, the Founders intended this statement as an integrated whole. The right to life, which abortion opponents base their case upon, is a broad concept. The right to life depends upon liberty, which depends upon the principle of unalienability, all of which are vital to every individual’s ability to pursue his own happiness. In other words, each individual must be free to act for his own benefit in a way that does not infringe upon the rights of another. Since all men are created equal, all men (and, of course, women) possess the same rights, equally, at all times. There is only one concept of rights that fits with that Declaratory statement, the rights to freedom of action in a social context – i.e., freedom of speech, of religion and conscience, of voluntary trade and contract, of production and use of property, etc; in a word, liberty. Furthermore, there is only one fundamental purpose involved – the setting and pursuit of one’s own goals, values, and welfare; in other words, the pursuit of one’s own happiness. This formulation implies a logically undeniable corollary - the right to one's own body.

The principles involved in this integrated whole is the only rational - i.e., reality oriented - frame of reference in which to understand the abortion issue. Armstrong and Hsieh conclude that rights begin at birth. It is at birth that the human being becomes truly independent, and emerges into a social context – the only context under which rights are relevant or necessary. In their Objective Standard article, The Assault on Abortion Rights Undermines All Our Liberties, Armstrong and Hsieh write:

An embryo or fetus in the womb, in contrast, is not an individual. It is a wholly dependent being, contained within and supported by the body of the pregnant woman. The fetus does not act independently to sustain its life, not even on the basic biological level possible to a day-old infant. It does not breathe independently, eat independently, move independently, or even defecate independently. The fetus cannot know or interact with the world outside the womb in any meaningful way. It is not an individual member of society, but rather a part of the pregnant woman. None of this changes until the fetus departs from the woman’s body at birth and thereby becomes an individual human person.

Birth is a radical biological and existential change for the fetus, more significant than any other change over the whole course of life, except death. The newborn infant lives his own life, outside his mother. Although still very needy, he maintains his own biological functions. He breathes his own air, digests his own food, and moves on his own. He can leave his mother, either temporarily or permanently, to be cared for by someone else, and still live and prosper. His mind, although in its nascent stages of development, now enables him to grasp the world and guide his actions. The newborn infant is no longer a dependent being encased in and supported by the body of another; he is a person in his own right, living in a social context.

From birth, the child has a lot to learn, including such basic functions as how to focus his eyes. The learning process is self-generated and knowledge is self-attained, regardless of the fact that a lengthy period of rearing requiring extensive adult supervision and intervention is required – a requirement imposed by nature on all of the higher life forms. The parents have the first responsibility to do the rearing, but any adult may fulfill the task. During the long process of rearing, the child is engaged in a self-generated, progressive acquisition of the ability – the knowledge, mind training, life experience, skills etc. – to exercise the rights acquired at birth. His rights to a proper rearing are grounded in the parents’ decision to bring him into the world; a decision that encompasses the abortion choice.

But, say Armstrong and Hsieh, the child has no such rights between conception and birth. (Partial birth, or late-term, abortion needs special consideration, as we shall see in part 3. That is where the principle that “rights begin at birth” needs qualification. For now, though, we’ll stay on this line of thought.) First and foremost, the principle of equality and unalienability rests upon the principle that rights do not and logically can not conflict. The “right” of the fetus (or unborn or developing child, or whatever term one chooses to use) do not and can not negate or infringe upon the rights of the woman to decide whether or not to carry the pregnancy to term. The right to life entails the right to control, as far as is possible, the function of one’s own body, which is one’s own property, and no one else’s. The decision on whether to end or continue a pregnancy belongs to the woman, and only the woman. The issue is not about the morality of abortion. It is about who makes the moral choice about a being carried inside of an individual human being.

The principle of rights alongside its corollary – a limited rights-protecting government – recognizes only the individual’s right to make moral choices on his/her own behalf - including a woman’s reproductive choices, abortion included – so long as those choices do not involve the violation of the rights of others. The question is, in regard to the abortion choice: If it is not the pregnant woman’s choice, then whose is it? The woman’s sole right to make that choice on her own behalf is grounded in the very reasons why that fully integrated statement appears in the Declaration of Independence. (Of course, the doctor has a right to refuse to perform abortions. The woman’s right to choose is not a right to demand that any doctor is obligated to perform the procedure, or that other people have an obligation to pay for it.) Denying that woman’s abortion rights negates the entire principle of rights, and thus the American Revolution’s rejection of the individual’s dependence upon state permission for his freedom. The idea that a fetus’s “right to life” – the right to make decisions pertaining to the use of his own body – ends at birth is absurd on its face.

Quite simply and logically, support for a legal ban on abortion is utterly incompatible with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Rights, properly understood, can not and do not conflict. If the unborn have rights, then the mother does not. If the rights of the mother can be negated by the state in favor of the "rights" of the unborn, then any rights can be negated in favor of anyone else’s “rights”, with the state as the arbiter of whose rights take precedence. The principle is crystal clear: When rights cease to be unalienable, then rights cease to exist, and freedom disappears into the muck of statism.

The crucial point to understand here is that a right is a concept that applies to, and only to, actual living human beings, not potential human beings. This is not a callous statement, but recognition of the facts of reality. A right is an attribute that is possessed by every human equally, and that places no unchosen positive obligation on another. Further, a right is something that a person possesses throughout his life. The idea that a person has a right (the rights of the unborn) that is automatically lost at birth is a contradiction, both of logic and of the facts of reality. Whatever anyone's moral evaluation of the procedure, the overarching moral principle of unalienable individual rights is absolute. The rights of the mother reign supreme, and one who denies those rights cannot claim to be a defender of the “rights of the unborn.” The concept of “the rights of the unborn” implies an impossible conflict…that the rights of some supercede and negate the rights of others…an idea that in fact negates the very concept of inalienable rights.

The “pro-life” case is based on faulty logic, is contradictory, and is self-defeating. If the unborn have rights that supercede the rights of the mother to control her own body (her property), then her rights are not unalienable. If her rights are not unalienable, then the whole concept of rights is invalid, which means no one has rights, including the unborn.

Support for abortion rights does not mean approval of abortion. It means support for rights across the board, period. Those who champion the “rights” of the unborn, while disregarding the rights of women, can not be and are not champions of anyone’s rights.

This now leads me to so-called partial-birth abortion, to be addressed in my next and last post in this series. Remember that, properly understood, abortion means “the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.” What about the period between the time a fetus becomes viable - which varies according to such things as race or gender, but usually occurs around the end of the second trimester - and birth? This is where the principle that “rights begin at birth” must be more deeply examined.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Government-Enforced Organ Donor Law is Immoral--2

In my post of 4/3/12, I cited a New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial that called for a mandatory organ donor law. In that editorial, the Star-Ledger implied that the main sponsor of the proposal, the NJ Sharing Network, supported such a compulsory law. But that in fact may not be the case, so, to be fair, I want to examine a related article by the Network's president.

The NJ Sharing Network, a private non-profit “organ procurement organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue” for New Jersey residents awaiting organ transplantation, is proposing a new law that “would permit health insurers in New Jersey to limit transplant coverage for people who decline to register as organ donors.” Dubbed “The Golden Rule proposal,” Network president Joseph S. Roth, citing cases of people refusing to donate dying family members’ organs despite members of the same family benefiting from organ donations, argues in a recent NJ Star-Ledger op-ed that such a law would “encourage all New Jerseyans to become organ donors.”

Of course, in a free health insurance market, no such law would be necessary. Insurers could include organ donor requirements in their policies with the mutual consent of their customers, and the government would have no business interfering in such voluntary contractual agreements.

But, given the government’s massive regulatory controls over private health insurance, such a “Golden Rule” law could easily become mandatory. Indeed, the NJ Star-Ledger, as I noted in my post of 4/3/12, was quick to recognize the inherently compulsory nature of such a law, calling it a “bigger stick” that would “force people” to become organ donors. Roth himself approvingly cites a compulsory Israeli law that is the world’s first “to incorporate ‘nonmedical’ criteria into the system”; an apparent contradiction of his stated position, which would merely “permit health limit transplant coverage” according to their own judgement; i.e., would be voluntary.

It’s not hard to imagine where the principle of “nonmedical criteria” could lead; perhaps, denying obesity-related medical treatment for exceeding government-approved weight standards or lung-related treatment for not installing “clean energy” devices like solar panels. If you think I am exaggerating, consider this actual case in Britain, where the NHS denied surgery to a woman at the facility of her choice, because she lived too far away from it, making her "carbon footprint" too large. Yes, her "carbon footprint"! There would be almost no limit to what politicians can “encourage” us to do, if they are allowed the power to hold a person’s medical treatment hostage to politically correct dictates.

The NJ Sharing Network’s mission to encourage people to become organ donors is laudable, but only if done privately and voluntarily. That may well be the case, but Roth is not clear on the issue of voluntarism vs. force. Whatever the case, any law essentially compelling people to sign organ donor cards is morally wrong. That some people may be hypocrites does not justify compromising anyone’s liberty.

Insurers’ should certainly be free to set their own organ transplant policies, and any legal restrictions preventing them from doing so should be removed. More important would be to advocate broader free-market reforms like repealing the 1984 ban on compensation for organ donors and eliminating all government interference in the contractual relationship between healthcare providers and their customers. Every individual’s right to pursue free and voluntary contracts with others must be fully recognized.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Obama's Antipathy Toward America's Constitution Boils Over

The Obama Democrats' antipathy toward the US constitution, epitomized by Nancy Pelosi's "Are you serious?" response to a question about the constitutionality of ObamaCare, has come to a head.

In my latest blog post at The Objective Standard, Obama’s Attack on the Supreme Court is an Assault on the American System, I addressed President Obama's recent attack on the Supreme Court immediately following the conclusion of the Court's hearings on ObamaCare. Here is the opening paragraph:

In response to the unexpectedly skeptical Supreme Court hearings on ObamaCare, an insolent President Obama declared that “overturning the law would amount to an ‘unprecedented, extraordinary step’ of judicial activism,” reports David Nakamura.

You can read the rest here. This is no surprise to this blog. On 11/2/08, just before the presidential election, I wrote:

In a 2001 Chicago Public Radio interview, Barack Obama discussed what he saw as a fundamental flaw that the Founding Fathers “allowed” into the U.S. Constitution and that continues to this day…the failure to establish the means for bringing about “redistributive change”…or “economic” and “political” justice. “Economic” and “political” justice means the “right” of certain groups of people, characterized by nothing more than a declared need of material benefits that they have not earned, to use the coercive power of the state to seize those benefits from those who have produced them. It means a predatory state with the power to loot and enslave some, for the unearned benefit of others. What stands in the way of Obama’s predatory state? It is the “flaw’, or “blind spot” that he sees in America’s Founding. Although he doesn’t explicitly say it, what he is referring to is the fundamental principle that makes America America…the equal, unalienable individual rights to life, liberty, property (addressed in the fifth amendment) and the pursuit of happiness.

Obama fully understands that his signature legislative "accomplishment"--along with the entire redistributive welfare state--is unconstitutional. If this fact begins to sink in--and if the courts are willing to consider it--then ObamaCare's nullification on constitutional grounds could be the tip of the iceberg. This may be why Obama is willing to take the political risk of demonizing the Supreme Court, as he did in his 2010 state-of-the-union address:

Though past presidents have occasionally inveighed against judicial activism, legal analysts and historians said it was difficult to find a historical parallel to match Obama’s willingness to directly confront the court.

Barbara Perry, a senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for presidential history, said that after the Supreme Court voided 16 pieces of New Deal legislation in 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt waited until after he had been re-elected to attack the court.

“The reason presidents are reluctant to take on the court is because they are a co-equal branch of government, they have lifetime tenures and they can be very powerful in their own way,” Perry said. “I would contrast that with Obama’s willingness to take on the court.”

She noted that Obama complained during his 2010 State of the Union address of the court’s decision that year in the Citizens United case, ruling that the First Amendment prohibited the federal government from restricting political expenditures by corporations.

With the robed justices seated in the front row of the House chambers, Obama said that the court “reversed a century of law” to “ open the floodgates for special interests” to influence elections.

“That he called them out in the State of the Union address shows he’s not squeamish about making a face-to-face attack on them,” Perry said.

The Citizens United case was a serious victory for free speech. Since freedom of speech and press are the bane of statists, it's no wonder Obama wants to reign it in. In the Citizen's case, as with ObamaCare (if it's struck down), the Court nullified existing law.

There is a linkage between the 2010 and 2012 attacks. Democratic totalitarianism can not coexist with a constitution based upon individual rights; or with a court willing to uphold it. Obama seeks to consign both to irrelevancy, in order not only to preserve his agenda, but to pave the way for future statists.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Government-Enforced Organ Donor Law is Immoral

The New Jersey Star-Ledger is beating the drum - both figuratively and literally – for mandatory organ donations. In Stronger Measures Needed to Encourage People to Donate Organs, they write:

Every month, hundreds of Americans die while waiting for a new heart, liver or kidney. What a waste — considering that thousands of healthy organs are senselessly buried in cemeteries. …

Clearly, arms need to be twisted.

How would that be accomplished? The editors cite a proposed law that would:

“…let health insurers refuse transplant coverage to anyone who doesn’t sign an organ donor card — leaving a nondonor on the hook for the cost of transplant surgery, easily hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Of course, health insurance is controlled by government, so any law to let insurers refuse coverage is Orwellian nonsense, and the editors know it:

Yes, it is a shame that such heavy-handed moves are necessary to force people to get over their squeamishness about this, but that is the state of play. In New Jersey, roughly 5,000 people are waiting for transplants today…. And yet, more than two-thirds of us have not agreed to donate needed organs.

That’s why a bigger stick is needed

The editors advocate government force to impose their own beliefs, a fundamentally immoral and un-American action.

Let me state that I see nothing wrong with an insurance company tying organ transplant coverage to organ donation, as long as it is by prior voluntary mutual agreement between insurer and policy holder. Let me also state that I agree that it is right to donate one’s organs after death. I have long been an organ donor. And I cannot for the life of me understand how any person can in good conscience expect to receive an organ transplant while refusing to sign an organ donor card himself. But if his policy does not require it, then the insurer is obligated to cover the transplant.

But what the Ledger advocates is another mandate. No law has been introduced into the NJ Legislature, so it is unknown whether such a law would authorize – i.e., force – insurers to unilateral breach their contracts or whether they would be forced to include the organ donor condition in their future policies. But either way, mandatory encouragement is a contradiction in terms, as well as unjust and immoral.

I’ve left the following comments:

Posted by zemack on March 26, 2012 at 12:48PM

Mtown_Quaker: Nice job exposing the utter immorality of the “Golden Rule Act” and the national ban on organ donor compensation. [See comment thread]

All statists are wedded to the initiation of brute force (twisting arms and bigger sticks), and will almost always be quick to advocate more government coercion to correct the problems (here, the organ shortage) of previous government coercion (such as the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984). This is the piecemeal method by which America is moving toward a totalitarian state.

It’s time to reverse this sinister game. The miss-named “Golden Rule Act” should be defeated, and instead the organ donor market should be completely liberated. There is nothing wrong with a world where free and voluntary trade allows organ donors to profit from the transaction – a transaction or trade that also benefits the recipient. The right to freely contract to mutual advantage is a cornerstone of a moral society, and the practical benefits inevitably follow. All will benefit from the inevitable increase in the supply of organs, including the poor, who can benefit not only financially but also from charitable organizations that would arise to buy organs and then offer them for free or at a discount to individuals who meet their criteria for deserving recipients.

The government’s role in a free organ market would be in line with its only proper reason for being; the broader mission of the protection of individual rights. It should punish fraud or extortion, protect minors and the mentally incompetent from exploitation, etc., but otherwise protect the fundamental moral right to freedom of trade and contract

I also responded to comments left by Mike Begley on March 26, 2012 at 12:02PM:

Posted by zemack on March 26, 2012 at 5:16PM

Mike Begley: There is nothing fair about using government force to impose your own idea of “fairness.” I agree it can be hypocritical for an organ recipient to refuse to become an organ donor. But freedom does not guarantee that everyone will act morally, just that everyone is free. Using legislative force to impose one’s own moral standards on another is worse; it is democratic tyranny.

As I stated below, free trade in organs, within the proper legal context, is the only moral answer, as well as the practical answer to the organ supply/demand imbalance. I’m glad to see we agree that “Those who are willing to donate to improve organ availability will receive a benefit for doing so. If you give, then you get.” Unfortunately, you contradict yourself in the very next paragraph, when you state that “Organ sales cannot be the answer.” What do you think a voluntary sale is? It is a mutually beneficial trade; you give and you get. Apparently, you favor trade, as long as it is imposed by force – not a moral position.

As to your concerns about “social equality issues”, there is only one kind of equality that is just and moral, the American concept; the equal right of every individual to think and act on his/her own judgement, free from coercive interference by others, including others in the capacity of government officials. Any other type of equality is evil. Notice that the Star-Ledger would rather more people die waiting for organs than be free to engage in free trade. This type of equality results only in equality of death and poverty; and ultimately of slavery.