Monday, March 28, 2011

On Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, Remember the Injustice of the Military Draft

The United States senate has voted to make March 30th Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. On March 30th, 1973, the last remaining American troops withdrew from Vietnam.

The Vietnam era was a horrendous time for America. The whole debacle, from the false pretenses that initiated our military role, to the no-win war strategy of our civilian leadership, to the abandonment of the South Vietnamese people to the communist butchers of the North, was a travesty. It was a war that ended in humiliating defeat for the mightiest military in world history – at the hands of a pipsqueak tyranny that could have and should have been quickly crushed with little loss of American blood and treasure.

Also appalling was the treatment accorded to our combat soldiers upon returning home. Carolyn Abell documents the injustice over at Gulf1. She writes:

"Largely due to intentional misreporting by anti-war press members, a number of myths and falsehoods were generated and have continued to be perpetuated about this war and the men who fought it."

Among the lies and myths are:

"The few isolated atrocities committed by American servicemen were blown out of proportion, causing the general public to wonder if they had evolved into savage and inhumane beasts reminiscent of the degenerate boys in “Lord of the Flies.” The truth is that while we had a few incidents, the North Vietnamese routinely committed such atrocities against our side—a fact that seldom got reported."

Ms. Abell debunks the commonly held beliefs that drug abuse was rampant among the troops and that the war was fought disproportionately by the poor, uneducated, and blacks. She reports that “A 97 percent rate of honorable discharges among Vietnam veterans should quell any myths that they were largely lawless heathens”.

One of the worst stains on the period (and on 20th Century America) was the existence of the military draft. Unfortunately, Ms. Abell apparently doesn’t see it that way. Instead, she simply denigrates a whole swath of the population as “draft dodgers and cowards”. This is common among those seeking to restore the well-deserved honor of those who served in Vietnam. Your nation needed you, the thinking goes, and you refused to answer the call of duty. Therefor, you must be condemned.

I’ve left the following comments which, for reasons best known to the website, were removed within a day:

I fully support the Senate’s move to give Vietnam veterans the official national recognition they deserve. Exposing the lies and myths surrounding American servicemen perpetrated by New Left nihilists and others, documented here by Ms. Abell, is long overdue.

I must, however, take issue with Ms. Abell’s implicit designation of all draft dodgers and those who did not serve as “cowards”. Those who today “claim credit for military service they never gave” justly deserve condemnation. But many “draft dodgers” were simply acting in accordance with their moral convictions, a basic human right.

The term “draft dodger” was created by that sinister, un-American institution of the time, the military draft. Draft dodger conjures up images of young men ordered to report into service but who illegally evaded it. But remember that there were many, many more legal draft “dodgers”, myself included, who avoided service first through deferments and then through luck because of that ridiculous birthdate lottery system of picking draftees, or who simply claimed “conscientious objector” status based upon religious or moral beliefs. It's been reported that 60% of draft-age men between 1964 and 1973 – some 15+ million - escaped the draft in this manner. Are they all to be branded as “cowards”?

America was founded on the principle that each individual owns his own life. According to the Declaration of Independence, which is the philosophical blueprint for this country, each person has the unalienable right to exercise his liberty to pursue his own goals, welfare, and happiness. America is the first and only country that explicitly endorses a non-sacrificial way of life.

The draft runs completely contrary to these American ideals. The draft forces some people into involuntary servitude to “the nation” in defiance of the concept that “we the people” – each and every individual one of us – are the nation. Ending the draft was Richard Nixon’s greatest tribute to Vietnam veterans, many if not most of whom were forced into involuntary servitude – directly or indirectly – to fight a war that served no national purpose or interest. Forced sacrifice was and always is un-American. The Vietnam era draft dodgers, avoiders, or evaders, whatever their motivations or means, were Americans who should not have been put in the position of having to either break the law or use the law in order to exercise their unalienable right to say no to military service. The right to simply say no is inherent in the American ideals grounded in individual rights, the protection of which is what America’s military is supposed to be engaged in.

Under the rights-respecting volunteer armed forces we have had since, American servicepersons elect to take on the job the rest of us pay them to do through our taxes – defend ALL of our rights. Those Americans who choose to serve do so to defend the ideals that they presumably believe in and that America stands for. They are voluntarily fighting for their belief in America’s non-sacrificial way of life enshrined in the Declaration, because those are the only conditions they presumably wish to live under. Otherwise, why did they volunteer? Yes, it is “noble and honorable” to serve in the American armed forces, because those who do are defending the supreme nobility and honorability of every individual’s unalienable right to his own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

I certainly appreciate Carolyn Abell’s vigorous defense of our Vietnam veterans. It’s time to set the record straight. But, to complete the record, we must recognize the fundamentally corrupting role that conscription had on the Vietnam era and our historical perception of it. By all means, let’s recognize and thank them every March 30th. Having been forced to fight in a war they were forbidden to win only to be treated like villains by many Americans is unforgivable. But let’s not denigrate non-vets in the process.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Separation of Church (or Education) and State

Last month, I dealt with one aspect of Bob Braun's NJ Star-ledger article N.J. vouchers would wrongly use taxes for schools with religious affiliations - voluntarism vs. force. Today, I return to Mr. Braun's piece to deal with another fundamental point he raises; the separation of church and state.

Braun is a staunch defender of the government-run public school establishment. Likewise, he unequivocally opposes parental school choice based upon any method that diverts the government's education tax dollars - probably any tax dollars - for that purpose. In this piece, he leans heavily upon the doctrine of separation of church and state to make his case. He writes:

It is just plain wrong to use taxes to promote a religious message.

While I might endorse the Catholic message, not everyone does — not even all Catholics. I’ve heard Catholic priests use pulpits to urge the defeat of marriage equality. I’ve heard them use pulpits to condemn abortion and birth control. Must all people, through their taxes, pay to endorse these messages — even if these beliefs offend the beliefs of others?

Wasn’t that issue settled by the First Amendment — and the specific ban on tax money going to religious ministries in the New Jersey Constitution?

I am a Catholic.

But no Catholic — neither I nor Chris Christie — has the right to expect Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and non-believers to support our causes, convey our messages, involuntarily through their tax dollars.

I agree with the principle Braun is espousing here. That principle - that no one should be forced to financially support ideas that they may not agree with - is an absolute. There's a funny thing about principles, though: they are "universal", meaning that their abstract message can be applied to an unlimited number of specific, concrete issues - past, present, or future. When one espouses a principle, he in effect opens up his entire repertoire of issue positions to scrutiny.

I've left the following commentary.

zemack February 11, 2011 at 6:55PM

Bob Braun’s argument is easily refuted by the facts. A tax credit represents taxes not being collected. The corporations funding the Opportunity Scholarship Act are contributing their own money. None of it goes to the state, and the state is issuing no checks to religious schools or to the Opportunity Scholarship Board that dispenses the funds.

These are the facts. There is no violation of the separation of church and state. Money belongs first to those who earn it. The government has no inherent claim on that money. How in the world do taxes not collected translate into tax-funded religion, or tax-funded anything? If that is the case, then every private dollar we spend is tax-funded something or other. The idea is absurd.

Having said that, Braun does a good job defending separation of religion and state:

“It is just plain wrong to use taxes to promote a religious message.

“While I might endorse the Catholic message, not everyone does — not even all Catholics. I’ve heard Catholic priests use pulpits to urge the defeat of marriage equality. I’ve heard them use pulpits to condemn abortion and birth control. Must all people, through their taxes, pay to endorse these messages — even if these beliefs offend the beliefs of others?

“Wasn’t that issue settled by the First Amendment — and the specific ban on tax money going to religious ministries in the New Jersey Constitution?”

I concur. So, why should I be forced to support, through my taxes, educational ideas that I may or may not agree with, or that “offend” me? I abhor the collectivist theories of John Dewey, which dominates modern progressive education. I believe in the individualist educational and epistemological philosophies of Maria Montessori and Ayn Rand. Why should I be forced to pay for Dewey? And why should I be forced to pay for the education of other people’s children, any more than be forced to pay for the church religious training of those same children?

Braun writes:

“But no Catholic — neither I nor Chris Christie — has the right to expect Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and non-believers to support our causes, convey our messages, involuntarily through their tax dollars.”

James Madison’s 1785 Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments argued forcefully against tax-supported religion, and won the day. The result was a thriving and free religious sector, including for non-believers. The same arguments can be made against tax-supported education, which would lead to a thriving and free educational marketplace. [For an indepth assessment on this point, see Dr. C. Bradley Thompson's lecture, The Case for Abolishing America’s Government Schools

Braun argues persuasively for the separation of church and state. In doing so, he inadvertently makes the case for the separation of education and state. Though flawed in significant areas, the Opportunity Scholarship Act is a small but meaningful step in that direction – the right direction. It should pass. [The flaws in the Opportunity Scholarship Act are too serious to warrant my unequivocal support - namely, the state-approved intermediary called the Opportunity Scholarship Board, which ultimately gives politicians the power to choose, and exclude, participating schools. My position is elaborated on in my Objective Standard article.]

In a future post, I'll deal with a couple of correspondents who rebutted this posting.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cohen: Hate-Crime Laws are "Totalitarian Nonsense"

Almost as bad as hate crimes themselves is the designation. It is a little piece of totalitarian nonsense, a way for prosecutors to punish miscreants for their thoughts or speech, both of which used to be protected by the Constitution (I am an originalist in this regard).

Richard Cohen, writing in the Washington Post.

I've written on this subject before. It is a critical First Amendment issue. Cohen is widely considered to be a liberal, so this piece demonstrates that the "hate crime" issue transcends the Left-Right ideological divide (In the previous piece I referenced a voice from the Right - George F. Will.) Because of what I consider to be the profound importance of this issue, it is well to elaborate on it further.

First of all, the whole concept is absurd. The concept “hate crime” logically implies some other types of crime. What exactly are non-bigotry motivated crimes like rape, serial murder, armed robbery, or Ponzi theft, - expressions of love? The whole concept “hate crime” is a laughable absurdity, except it is incredibly dangerous.

Hate crime laws are taken straight out of the collectivist playbook – they represent punishment for hatred for a particular group (gays, blacks, immigrants), not the individual victim. A “hate” criminal is tried not just for his actions against his particular victim, but for his alleged animosity towards the group identification of his victim. As Cohen points out, the principle involved here is a license for prosecutorial aggression.

But the longer-term danger is much graver. As of now, punishment for one’s motivating ideas are tied to an actual crime. A hate crime conviction results in punishment added to that related to the action – for the perpetrator’s thoughts. However, it is inevitable that thought will one day be severed from the action completely. Why not, some future entrepreneurial prosecutor might ask, punish the thought before it turns into an actual crime? Why not, indeed, some “activist” future judge might concur.

Once any thought becomes criminalized, then all thoughts – i.e., ideas – cease to be an unalienable right. They then become the property of, and exist only by permission of, the state. Since thought is the precursor to individual human action, it logically follows that action may be taken only by permission of the state, since one’s actions are to be judged – at least in part - by the ideas that motivate them.

The broad sweep of the term “hate crime” is chilling. For example, free market opponents of the welfare state are routinely demonized as enemies of the “weak”, and harbor a callous disregard for “the poor, the elderly, the sick, and the children”, or whoever fits the latest definition of the “needy”. What’s to stop some future statist administration from arresting pro-capitalist activists and charging them with a hate crime against some needy group? Nothing except time. No modern politician can get away with that sort of thing today, but principles drive human events and, coupled with precedents, drive legal evolution.

Bigotry, of course, is cruel and evil. Opposing hate crime law in no way should be taken as a sanction for it. Rather, defending the individual’s right to his own ideas, however wrong-headed, is a defense of every other person’s right to theirs. To do less is to invite tyranny, because it is just through such sores on society that the virus of statism infects the body of a free society. The principles and precedents underpinning hate crime legislation empowers government to criminalize any ideas it deems unacceptable. And coercive power that extends beyond that which is legitimately required to carry out its sole duty to protect individual rights, once accrued to government, will be exercised sooner or later, unless repealed. The power of political censorship is embedded in hate-crime legislation. It is impossible to say how long it will remain dormant, but it won’t forever.

Cohen is perfectly accurate in ascribing the term “totalitarian” to hate crime legislation.

Also see George F. Will: Hate Crime Laws.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Objective Standard Article - Vouchers vs. Tax Credits

My article, Toward a Free Market in Education: School Vouchers or Tax Credits?, appears in this Spring’s addition of The Objective Standard. It seeks to move the parental school choice movement in the direction of less government control by embracing properly structured tax credits while rejecting any incarnation of government-funded private school vouchers. The idea of education tax credits has, of course, been around for a long time. What I’ve sought to do is pull together a plan that carries the idea to its full logical implications – in effect, bringing about the separation of education and state one parent, and one child, at a time.

Parental school choice has been a focus of mine for at least 20 years. My thinking on the subject has evolved over time, culminating in the plan I submit in the TOS piece. I believe that the time is right for this article. When I first latched on to it, the idea that all parents should be able to choose their children’s school through some manner of redirecting their education tax dollars was considered a fringe issue not worthy of much serious consideration, even though it had been more than 30 years since Milton Friedman launched the idea in the 1950s. Today, we see choice programs popping up around the nation. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie has endorsed the nation’s first statewide universal parental choice initiative.

The political winds are now at the backs of the choice movement. This is a good thing, up to a point. It represents the most serious challenge to the hegemony of the government’s virtual education monopoly at least in my lifetime, and probably ever. It is my view that the public school establishment is on the ropes, and major changes are on the way. The growing strength of the school choice movement is evidence of that. But, the movement needs more. Its current thrust could turn the promise of parental school choice into a disaster for the private school sector, and set back the cause of educational freedom by years, if not decades.

The school choice debate needs a healthy infusion of the argument from individual rights, with all that that implies. This article should help open the door wide to that infusion. I look forward to answering questions and objections concerning my plan, especially from those that may come from the reactionary defenders of the status quo.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the help I received in writing the TOS article. My daughter Christine and wife Kathy offered valuable proofreading services on my first draft submission to the editors. Though the final article was significantly revamped through the editing process and bore significant revisions in structure and content to the original version, their help should be acknowledged. I cannot overstate the assistance given to me by TOS’s Editor Craig Biddle and Assistant Editor Alan Germani. There are more questions and complexities to the idea of a tax credit-based transition to a free education market than can be dealt with in a short article. A short book could probably be written on the subject. In constructing my case I was often prone to wonder off into different directions which, though I thought important, tended to dilute my theme. Craig and Alan persistently and patiently kept me on message – to say nothing of the many important suggestions and guidance they offered.

I hope you enjoy the article.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What is the Purpose of Education?

New Jersey Star-Ledger columnist Bob Braun weighed in some months ago on the idea that NJ's public schools are failing. In hias article titled Idea of failing N.J. public schools promoted by politicians, privatizers, celebrities, Braun took the naysayers to task. I, in turn, took him to task on his collectivist premises.

For one thing, he ties the quality of the schools to the wealth of the community, forgetting that New Jersey's municipal welfare scheme - whereby money is drained from some communities to subsidize others - has resulted in "poor" cities like Newark spending more money per pupil than any other city.

There's more, but in my comments I chose to focus on what I think is the most important - and telling - statement in the article. It goes to the heart of the matter: Just what is the purpose of education?

My Commentary

“Public schooling is a value as well as an institution. Fostering a democratic, egalitarian America. Reject that value and you change the country in unknowable, maybe dangerous, ways.”

Everything that is wrong with American education is embodied in those few words.

The people who cheer every antitrust attack on successful private companies like Apple, Microsoft, Intel, AT&T, and now possibly Google on trumped-up charges of “monopoly” turn a blind eye to a true destructive monopoly: the government-run public school establishment. Unlike those private companies, which draw their alleged monopoly power from the voluntary consent of their customers who willingly buy their products, the education monopoly collects it revenues and its customers (the students) by force. Compulsory taxation and compulsory attendance laws alone support the government schools, and the result is classic for coercive monopolies – exploding costs and imploding quality.

But, that’s not the worst part, which is that the public schools’ monopoly power serves to entrench the Progressive Education establishment, whose goal is precisely to foster “a democratic, egalitarian America.” Democracy is the subordination of the individual to the majority, which has unlimited power to do as it pleases. Egalitarianism holds that human beings are interchangeable components of a human ant colony, which reigns supreme. Both are fundamentally collectivist, and opposed to the American view of people as sovereign individuals possessing unalienable rights to manage their own lives. Progressive education has an overriding goal – to foster conformity to the group, or “social adjustment”, which is exactly what democracy and egalitarianism require.

To call that a value is to subvert the very concept of “value”. The purpose of education, fundamentally, is to train the child’s mind to deal with reality – to think, to analyze, to understand, to be independent. The independent mind is what democracy and egalitarianism abhor: The person who does his own thinking doesn’t readily submit to the will of any collective pack.

The missing ingredient in the whole school reform discussion is education philosophy. Failing schools are not caused by poverty, or lack of money – not @ $26Gs per year per student. Blaming the students is unjust and perverse. The problem is bad educational philosophy. Autonomous individual students, each with his own unique needs, strengths, and interests, can not be pushed robot-like through a school assembly line. Don’t think for yourself, conform to the mob is a prescription for boredom and failure.

The opposite of Progressive Education can be summed up nicely in the words of education researcher and entrepreneur Maria Montessori, who sought to give every child a chance to “become as powerful in their concentration, as independent of spirit, as strong of will and as clear of thought as the world’s greatest geniuses”. But, that philosophy and similar ones could never break through within the progressive monopoly.

The whole education model needs to be reexamined, otherwise Zuckerberg’s millions will disappear down an establishment rat hole. Government-run schooling has had its day, and has failed. The Progressive stranglehold must be broken. The public school monopoly must be dismantled, and a free market established in education. Start by converting the $100 million gift into student scholarship grants to be used on the school of the parents’ choice. Then, follow that with universal parental school choice through tax credits, where the parents’ tax money follows the student to the school of choice. A free market will open the school doors to a badly needed philosophical revolution in education, and the one kind of “diversity” that the progressives have always feared – a diversity of ideas. Not all ideas would be good, but all ideas would get a chance, and the free market will allow the best philosophies to prove themselves and win. (Are you listening, Governor Christie and Mayor Booker? Empower the parents!)

The “change” will be “unknowable” and “dangerous” only to the utopians that have never given up the dream of ruling over a compliant, orderly human ant colony. It’s time for real school reform.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Healthcare Bandaid, where Major Surgery is Needed

Wherever you may fall on the political spectrum regarding the new federal health care law, we can all agree that the cost of health care in New Jersey continues to place a horrific burden on the public and private sectors.

So began New Jersey Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer (D-Passaic), chairman of the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, in an article late last year in the NJ Star-Ledger. In Health care costs undermine growth
, Mr. Schaer argued in favor of the "Healthcare Transparency and Disclosure Act", which will ostensibly "better assist New Jerseyans in making informed and financially prudent choices about their health care". This will "lower costs" and help "create jobs".

Mr. Schaer says we must accomplish those goals "with as little government intervention as possible" because "health care already is over-regulated". It never occurred to Mr. Schaer, or at least he chose not to mention it, that the over-regulation is the cause of the problems his bill seeks to address. It's nice that he wants to be sure that "patients must know each party’s financial responsibility for each medical transaction — no mysteries and no surprises". But mysteries and surprises are what you get under a system in which everyone is reponsible for everyone else's healthcare, but not his own. It is the government that created the third-party-payer system, in which insurance is provided by either government (Medicare) or employers, but in which the healthcare consumer does not own his own policy.

The over-regulation is widespread and deep. Until that problem is addressed rather than simply accepted as a given and then swept under the rug, bandaid solutions like the Healthcare Transparency and Disclosure Act will do nothing substantive except add another layer of regulation and enable politicians to claim to have "done something".

I've left the following comments, and then engaged in a little back-and-forth with another correspondent who took issue with what I had to say:

zemack December 01, 2010 at 7:24PM

The need for government to control healthcare costs was created by government itself. More than half of American healthcare spending is by government, through such programs as Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, etc. Most of the rest is through the heavily regulated, mandate-burdened, competition-protected quasi-private insurance companies. The only practical and moral way to “control costs” is to free the market from government interference – meaning that each individual participant is responsible for managing his own healthcare spending based upon his own judgement. The natural incentives inherent in a free market – consumers seeking care that they can afford from providers seeking their business – leads inexorably to falling costs and widening availability and quality of healthcare. Free markets have been proven to be practical, and they are moral because they recognize the rights of all participants – consumers, insurers, doctors, pharmaceutical companies and other providers, and patients – to contract voluntarily with each other to mutual advantage.

We can begin to move toward a free market by focussing on converting what we now erroniously call the private sector into something that at least mimics a real free market. First, remove the burden from business by ending the third-party-payer (also referred to as employer-based) system of health insurance. Instead of businesses and other third parties like unions buying insurance on behalf of their employees, they should be allowed to simply deposit whatever they are currently spending to insure their employees’ into their own self-directed, personal tax-free health savings accounts. Individuals and families can then go forth and purchase insurance directly from insurers competing for their business. This would also alleviate a host of other problems by making health insurance portable like auto, life, and homeowners insurance, which people don’t lose when leaving a job.

But for that to work, two other reforms are needed. End all insurance mandates like community rating and benefit mandates. These mandates violate the rights of consumers by forcing them to pay for coverages they may not want or be able to afford and of insurers by restricting their freedom to compete based upon market realities. Mandates are special interest group driven, and really amount to using “private” insurance companies as conduits for government-enforced wealth redistribution. The other reform needed is to stop protecting insurers from interstate competition, and state politicians’ controlling power, by removing insurance trade barriers between the states. These three simple reforms would dramatically lower insurance premiums, leaving more money in people’s HSAs for direct payment of routine, predictable medical needs, resulting in lower prices for a myriad of procedures like mammograms, prostate screening, and doctor’s visits.

Assemblyman Schaer is correct that “Health care already is over-regulated”. These limited free market reforms would begin to reduce the over-regulation by partially freeing up the private sector. More would need to be done. The encroaching crisis in healthcare grows worse the farther we move away from a free market, and we should not reward government with even more power and regulatory authority. With due respect to Assemblyman Schaer, the Healthcare Transparency and Disclosure Act is, at best, a Band-Aid. The underlying problem is that healthcare is at least the second most controlled industry in America, behind only the financial industry (another big headache, not surprisingly).

A slow-motion government takeover of American healthcare has been advancing for decades, turning an industry that should be a growth driver into a growth inhibitor. Real reform, and cost control, means reversing that trend. Most Americans don’t want full socialized medicine, and never have. Yet, that is where we are headed. But, the trend can be reversed, and decontrol looks to be the next big healthcare trend. Far-sighted, courageous politicians can get in front of the trend by advocating now for more freedom for all American citizens in healthcare.

jimmaiul December 02, 2010 at 9:40PM

zemack, I'm sure you know the story behind employer based insurance, starting in WWII as employee compensation above wage and price controls. Employer compensation offers a big advantage as bulk purchasers holding down costs to individuals as compared to you as an individual buying insurance in the market, It's just the way markets work, so people have to get together and use the market to their advantage. it would be understatement to say you would be taken to the cleaners if you bought insurance as an individual.
Why not extend this practice to the entire country, and while you're at it eliminate the profits from insuring people which don't go to health care anyway. That's how other countries spend 1/2 per capita what we do while none of their citizens goes without access to routine medical care.

zemack December 03, 2010 at 2:39PM

Employer-based insurance was imposed back then through the tax code. The individual market was long ago made dysfunctional by this and other government policies, some of which are listed in my comments above. My proposal is simple: Shift all tax benefits to the individual, and put him in charge, which is his unalienable right. Those of us who choose can still pool our money under group plans. But, it would be our choice.

Profits are a driver of lower costs, and accrue to producers - including insurers - who successfully compete through lower prices and quality service (but only in a market free from government force ... a free market … which we need to establish). Government, not having the need to consider the bottom line, simply doesn't have any incentive or need to control costs. That is the main reason healthcare costs have skyrocketed in the US, quadrupling as a percentage of GDP since the mid sixties. To the extent that other countries actually do have lower costs (for a variety of reasons, including faulty accounting), they do it by denying care.

At some point, probably starting with ObamaCare, our government will do the same under such guises as "cost control" and "comparative effectiveness". Then we will be at the mercy of government bureaucrats and politicians backed by government’s power of legalized physical force. I’d rather be “taken to the cleaners” by truly private insurers whose only “power” is their desire to attract and hold my business with products that benefit me and that I voluntarily agree to purchase. Profits (and CEO salaries) earned through free market, mutually beneficial trades are a moral and human right for those who earn them, and a boon to our standard of living.

Jimmaiul, you’re willing to throw away our freedom in the healthcare area based upon faulty premises. You should check them.

jimmaiul December 03, 2010 at 9:13PM

Government, not having the need to consider the bottom line, simply doesn't have any incentive or need to control costs

zemack, this is precisely what governement in other counries do, they control costs through rationalization, what esto denigrates as rationing resulting in dead canadians who fail to make it to our health care paradise. The provinces have a fixed budget so politicans either spend it smartly or they're out on their ass. Here government encourages just the opposite in delusional devotion to free markets, medical policy is outsourced. Instead of the "efficiencoes of the market:, we get a revolving door, insurance co. to Congress , money in legistlation out, LIz Fowler from Wellpoint insurance seated behind Senator Max Bacuus handing him papers during testimony.

Government coercion is a bit of a stretch, don't you think? more like corporate coercion when private entities become too big to fail .

zemack December 06, 2010 at 7:36PM

"Rationalization" is a buzz word for rationing - stripping us of our freedom to pursue healthcare in voluntary association with providers. It means, quite simply, death squads.

"Too big to fail" is a government creation, which feeds growth of businesses racing to enter the exclusive bailout club, known as "too big to fail". Stop the bailouts, and many business behemoths would fall to smaller, better competitors, who are currently at a disadvantage thanks to government protection of the big guys under "too big to fail" policies.

Government coercion is no "stretch". It is a fact. A government, by its nature, has a legal monopoly on the use of physical force (coercion). No private business in a free market can legally force anyone. It is only in a mixed, regulated economy - where business and politics blends - that private businesses appear to have coercive powers. You said so yourself: "Instead of the "efficiencoes of the market:, we get a revolving door, insurance co. to Congress , money in legistlation out, LIz Fowler from Wellpoint insurance seated behind Senator Max Bacuus handing him papers during testimony." If we had capitalism - the separation of economics and state - the government would use its monopoly on legalized coercion to protect us from criminals, foreign enemies, fraud, libel, breach of contract, and the like. Business would have only voluntary pursuasion to buy its products. Fowler would have no need to sit behind Baucus, because Baucus would not have the power to legislate government control of health insurance. He would be on his own, trying to devise policies that we like and can afford.