Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our Culture's "Screwed-Up" Moral Priorities

In Bain And Our Screwed-Up Culture, liberal columnist Froma Harrop recently took a pot shot at Bain Capital, Governor Romney's former private equity firm. I culled this bit for commentary:

Let's talk about capitalism. Granted, self-interest fuels the "animal spirits" that create our great business enterprises. Because the benefits of capitalism flow down to society at large, we are often at pains to divide ethical behavior from the other kind. Sometimes labor costs must be cut to stay competitive. Not every factory can be saved. And Bain apologists argue with some merit that the companies acquired were in trouble to begin with.
My commentary:

Yes, indeed, "let's talk about capitalism."

Since self-interest fuels the creation of "our great business enterprises," what does that tell you about which side of the ethical "divide" self-interest inhabits? Business--large and small, great and modest--is the core of capitalism that creates all of the goods and services our lives depend upon. What does that tell you about capitalism, the only social system that liberates all individuals--"society at large"--to pursue their own self-interest, by inalienable right?

It tells you that capitalism--properly understood as the separation of economics and state rather than the mixed economy we have now--is the moral social system, because self-interest--properly understood--is the life-giving moral ideal. "The benefits of capitalism flow down to society at large" because successful business enterprises are saturated with self-interest, from the owners who pursue profits, to the investors and lenders who supply capital, to the employees who choose to fill the jobs they create, to the suppliers they buy from, to the customers who buy its products. 

Doing what is truly self-interested requires virtues such as sound judgment, honesty, integrity, long-range planning, self-discipline, the ability to engage constructively with others, and so on--in other words, a commitment to rationality. After all, chasing after instant gratification without regard for long-term consequences is hardly in one's self-interest. It is self-destructive, and self-destruction has never built anything, let alone a successful business enterprise.

What's screwed-up is our culture's understanding of self-interest as morally corrupt, and of capitalism as a necessary evil.

One more juicy bit from Harrop, which I can't resist:

OK, but if a company is in trouble, do you multiply its debt by a factor of 22 and immediately take out millions for yourselves? That's what Bain did at Ampad, and, sorry, "looting" is the word.
This sounds like a miniaturized version of the welfare state, with its massive transfer of wealth from those who earned to those who didn't that is measured not in a few paltry millions but in the multi-$trillions of debt? If what Bain did is "looting," then the welfare state is the elephant and Bain the flea.

If Leftists are going to bring up looting, the first place they should be pointing the finger is at the person staring back from the mirror.

For more, see:

Hypocracy Left and Right

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gay Marriage Contraversy Highlights Need for Separation of Church and State

In an essay entitled Marriageretired USMC Gunnery Sergeant John McClain layed out the Christian position on gay marriage. Here are some excerpts:

   Much has been made of the many acts defining marriage as the bonds between a man and a woman, which, as instituted by God, was described as the binding of two into one, and remaining one for life.   For thousands of years, this [marriage] institution has remained that of religion, in particular our common form of marriage being of Christian descent, and in keeping with the principles first set forth by God in the Garden of Eden, between Adam and Eve.   Either all who support this demanded change are fools, or they have intent to destroy what true marriage has provided us, as societies, for all the time it has been established.  If they are fools, we are fools to even countenance their cries.  If they do have the intent to undo what marriage un-arguably has done throughout history, we must consider them enemies of society, and deliberately destructive.  Is it possible to consider this issue in any other way and be true to logic, reason, and the nature of Man?
It is well worth reading the whole thing

I've left the following comments [See note below]:

"This piece demonstrates why a free and civil society requires the separation of church and state; i.e., a secular state.
"Yes, "For thousands of years, this institution has remained that of religion." And for thousands of years we had slavery, tyranny, religious persecution. Then came the Enlightenment with its discovery of individual rights, and its glorious offspring--the United States of America. Finally, religion was relegated to its proper place as a private matter between the individual and his conscience. The premise that the Christian concept of marriage is right simply because it is old can also justify slavery, tyranny, and religious persecution.
"Marriage is not "the binding of two into one," but the legal recognition of a multifaceted values bond between two consenting adult individuals. One does not cease to be an individual at the point of marriage. Since this country was founded on the principle of the inalienable and equal rights of the individual, which includes contract rights, it follows that two same-sex individuals have the same rights to legal recognition of their values bonds as two opposite-sex individuals--since no one's rights are violated.
"The concept of marriage presented here is a Christian/religious/mystical one ("instituted by God"), not an objective one (based on "logic, reason, and the nature of Man"). The essential similarities between same-sex and hetero-sexual marriage far outweigh the differences. Both types of couples are capable of romantic, sexual, financial, familial, and other bonds. That the first cannot procreate--although they can adopt--validates the sub-category "gay" marriage, but does not invalidate the fact that gays are capable of marital bonds. Pro-creation for rational beings of reason is not the only purpose of either sex or marriage.
"The issue is not just one of definitions, however, but also one of rights. My wife and I have been married for over 40 years. How does the marriage of two gays violate my or my wife's rights? It doesn't. Who is initiating force or fraud against us? No one. Each of us has the right to our own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, so long as we don't violate the same rights of others. The question is not "Should gays be allowed to marry?" The question is, "Who in a rights-respecting society has a right to stop them?" Indeed, who would want to? Gay marriage does not in any way disparage or undermine traditional hetero-sexual marriage, and I challenge anyone who thinks so to explain exactly how it does.
"The government's sole purpose, as understood by the Founders and as logic and morality dictate, is to protect individual rights. Therefor, as the individual's servant, the government is duty-bound to legally protect gays' marital rights. To characterize those of us who uphold America's individual rights-oriented ideals--ideals for which our military is purpose-bound to protect--as "fools" and "enemies of society" is a smear that rivals anything the statist Left can muster. In fact, the only legitimate society--and the only one capable of promoting a benevolent human co-existence--is one based upon the moral principle of individual rights. Laws that impose the Christian concept of marriage on society defy what America stands for, and therefor should be repealed across the board. Christians have no more right to impose their ancient biblical commandments by law than Islamists have to impose Sharia Law or that Communists have to impose atheism."
[Note: Just as happened the last timemy comment was removed shortly after I posted it. It seems the owners at Gulf-1 can't handle a rational intellectual challenge.]

For more, see: 

Gay Marriage and Individual Rights

Message to Gov. Christie and His Critics: Gay Marriage is a Moral Right

Should a "Homosexual Contract" be called something other than marriage?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Soviet-Style Education

Here is the opening semtence from my latest post at The Objective Standard Blog, Soviet-Style Test Question Highlights Dangers of Government-Run Schools:

Many New Jersey parents were recently shocked to learn that their state’s standardized student test contained a question asking students “to reveal a secret about their lives [and] explain why it was hard to keep.”

For more, see:

Toward a Free Market in Education: School Vouchers or Tax Credits?

What is the Purpose of Education?

By All Means, Let Parents Lead

Does Freedom Equal the Wild West?

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Memorial Day Tribute

Throughout history, armies have fought for territorial boundaries, kings, monarchs, dictators, imperialistic ambitions, the “honor” of some sundry rulers, the tribe, some theocrat's assertion of God’s will, and so on.

America’s military is unique. It fights for a set of ideas…the most radical set of ideas in man’s history. America is the first and only country founded explicitly and philosophically on the principle that an individual’s life is his to live, by unalienable right. America is the first and only country founded on the explicit principle that the government exists as servant for and by permission of the people, with the solemn duty to protect those rights; or, as Ronald Reagan put it in his first inaugural address:

We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around!

Sadly, the knowledge of what this country stands for is steadily slipping away…and along with it, our rights. Fortunately, we’re still free to speak out. So the best way to honor our military personnel, for those of us who still retain that knowledge, is to remind our fellow Americans in any small way that we can about America’s unique, noble, and radical Founding ideals.

We can still prevent “the other way around”. But we must rediscover the knowledge of, and think about, what it means to be an American. So, let us reflect on what really made this country possible.

This Memorial Day weekend, we will hear a lot about the “sacrifices” made by those who died defending America.

It is said that this nation, our freedom and our way of life, are a gift bestowed upon us by the grace of the “sacrifices” of the Founding Fathers and the fighters of the Revolutionary War. But, was it? Is it even possible that so magnificent an achievement – the United States of America – could be the product of sacrifice? As the closing words of this country’s Founding philosophical document – the Declaration of Independence – attest, the Founding Fathers risked everything to make their ideals a reality:

“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

Some point to those words, and bestow on the signatories of that document the “honor” of having sacrificed for us, the "future generations." Nothing can be further from the truth. Sacrifice--properly understood--is the giving up, rather than the achievement, of values. America was achieved.

What is any human being’s highest attribute and value? It is his mind and his independent judgement. To use one’s mind – to think – is an exclusively personal, individualistic, self-motivated, self-chosen effort. All else in a person's life is a consequence of the use, or lack of use, of his mind – for better or for worse. One’s convictions about what one believes is right, one’s passionate concern for ideas, is the product of the independent use of one’s mind. The man who places nothing above the judgement of his own mind, even at the risk of his own physical well-being, is not engaging in self-sacrifice. To fight for one’s own fundamental beliefs is the noblest, most egoistic endeavor one can strive for.

The Founders were thinkers and fighters. They were egoists, in the noblest sense, which is the only valid sense. They believed in a world, not as it was, but as it could be and should be. They took action – pledging their “sacred honor” at great risk to their personal wealth and physical well-being – to that end. They would accept no substitute. They would take no middle road. They would not compromise. They would succeed or perish.

Such was the extraordinary character of the Founders of this nation.

To call the achievement of the Founders a sacrifice is to say that they did not deem the ideals set forth in the Declaration as worthy of their fighting for; that the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and not to any collective and not to any ruler was less of a value to them than what they pledged in defense of it; that they did what they did anyway without personal conviction or passion; that the Declaration of Independence is a fraud. To say that America was born out of sacrifice is a grave injustice and, in fact, a logical impossibility.

World history produced a steady parade of human sacrifices, and the overwhelming result was a steady stream of bloody tyrannies. The Founders stood up not merely to the British Crown, but to the whole brutal sacrificial history of mankind to turn the most radical set of ideas ever conceived into history’s greatest nation. It is no accident that the United States of America was born at the apex of the philosophical movement that introduced the concept of the Rights of Man to his own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, the Enlightenment.

Only the most extraordinary men of the most ferocious personal strength and courage could have so uncompromisingly upheld, against overwhelming odds and hostility and personal risk, so passionate a belief in their own independently held convictions so as to have established the American Founding. The American Revolution was history’s brightest demonstration of the rationally selfish pursuit of a noble goal by any group of people, ever. It was a monumental human testament to the dedication these men had to their cause – the refusal to live any longer under any social condition except freedom.

The highest tribute I can pay to those Americans who died in the line of military duty is not that they "sacrificed" to fight for their country. Self-sacrifice is not a virtue in my value system. It is an insult, because that would mean that their country and what it stands for was irrelevant to them; that they had no personal interest in it; that they were not passionate about their service; that they saw no difference between America and its enemies; that it made no difference to them whether they returned to live in freedom or to live in slavery.

The highest tribute I can pay to our fallen is to say that they were cut from the mold of the Founding Fathers; that they did not set out to die for their country but rather that they set out to fight for that radical set of ideals that is the United States of America.

In honor of those who perished fighting for the American cause, and to all of America’s service men and women past and present:

Thank you for your service in defense of American ideals, for your desire to live in freedom, and for your fierce determination to accept no substitute.

Happy Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

PSA Testing and Obama's Birth Control Mandate Revisted

Roman Catholic leaders opened a new front against the Obama administration mandate that employers provide workers birth control coverage, filing federal lawsuits Monday on behalf of dioceses, schools and health care agencies that argued the requirement violates religious freedom.
So reported the Associated Press' Rachel Zoll on Tuesday, May 22.

It is always welcome when someone takes a firm stand in defense of their inalienable rights. Whenever someone--or in this instance, an institution--does so, he/she is implicitly defending all rights of all people.

But as I said earlier, the Catholic Church has been quick to subordinate fundamental rights to its collectivist visions of "social justice," so its action rings hollow from the perspective of principle.

Nevertheless, I welcome the Church's fight for religious freedom. Perhaps, as noted at FIRM, the Church will come to realize that all rights are interlinked. To protect religious freedom, one must protect all freedoms, including rights to free trade and property.

On the healthcare front:

   Men should no longer receive a routine blood test to check for prostate cancer because the test does more harm than good, a top-level government task force has concluded in a final recommendation that immediately became controversial.   The recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force runs counter to two decades of medical practice in which many primary-care physicians give the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to healthy middle-aged men.

As I said earlier, "It’s notable that the study was done under the purview of the same bureaucrats charged with administering federal health care programs." If this were an independent research group operating in a free market, a man could simply agree to disagree. 

But being a government entity operating in the context of expanding government control of healthcare, with its associated rationing powers, this decision implicitly carries the coercive force of law. It is just on the basis of such "advisory board" recommendations that government bureaucrats will determine who gets what healthcare and when.

For more, see:

What About the Freedom of Non-Catholics, Mike Spina?

The Double Standard of the Catholic Church

PSA Testing: Are Death Panels Arriving Under Cover of "Scientific Evidence?"

Forbes: "Death Panels... We Already Have One"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Factual Ammo for Education Freedom Fighters

In my most recent post at The Objective Standard Blog, I briefly reviewed an essay on tax-funded education. Here's the opening paragraph:

The Library of Economics and Liberty offers an insightful study by Linda Gorman on the history and causes of the declining quality of education in America. The report covers a lot of ground and demonstrates, among other things, the wasteful destructiveness of tax-funded education.

Read the whole post, titled The Wasteful Destructiveness of Tax-Funded Education.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Abortion and Individual Rights - Part 3

In parts one and two, I have established my conviction that abortion is a right guaranteed by the constitution and philosophically validated by the both Declaration of Independence and by the fundamental nature of individual rights, and that it is an issue of when rights, not life, begins. I also applied the principle that “rights begin at birth” to make certain crucial points. How do those conclusions square with so-called “partial-birth,” or late-term, abortion?

Remember definition number 4; "expulsion from the uterus of the products of conception before the fetus is viable." Wikipedia cites sources that define "Partial Birth Abortion" [PBA] as beginning anywhere from 16 weeks of gestation on, including a 1998 Journal of the American Medical Association issue which contained three conflicting articles defining late-term abortion as beginning at somewhere between the 20th and 27th weeks. Though late-term abortion has never been clearly defined, for our purposes we will define it as the point at which the fetus becomes viable. The point of viability varies according to such factors as gender and race, so determining viability is a medical, case-specific issue. These questions are irrelevant to the current discussion.

To begin, let me quote from two different sources about the nature of the procedure called partial-birth abortion, or PBA. The first is from All About Popular Issues, a religious source:

Partial-birth abortion is exactly what the term infers. The baby is partially born before its abortionist-induced termination.

This Dilation and Extraction procedure is called D&X, Intact D&X, and Intrauterine cranial decompression. The public commonly uses the term PBA and Partial-birth Abortions.

The procedure is usually performed during the last trimester of gestation up to the end of the ninth month. The woman's cervix is dilated, and the abortionist grabs the baby's leg with forceps. Then he proceeds to pull the baby into the birth canal. The abortionist then delivers the baby's body, feet first, all but the baby's head. The abortionist inserts a sharp object into the back of the baby's head, removes it, and inserts a vacuum tube through which the brains are sucked out. The head of the baby collapses at this point and allows the aborted baby to be delivered lifelessly.

The second is from the website of National Public Radio, a secular source:

The further along a pregnancy is, the more complicated — and the more controversial — the procedures are for aborting it. Abortions performed after the 20th week of pregnancy typically require that the fetus be dismembered inside the womb so it can be removed without damaging the pregnant woman's cervix. Some gynecologists consider such methods, known as "dilation and evacuation," less than ideal because they can involve substantial blood loss and may increase the risk of lacerating the cervix, potentially undermining the woman's ability to bear children in the future.

Two abortion physicians, one in Ohio and one in California, independently developed variations on the method by extracting the fetus intact. The Ohio physician, Martin Haskell, called his method "dilation and extraction," or D&X. It involved dilating the woman's cervix, then pulling the fetus through it feet first until only the head remained inside. Using scissors or another sharp instrument, the head was then punctured, and the skull compressed, so it, too, could fit through the dilated cervix.

Both the religious and secular views agree: Partial birth abortion involves what is essentially a birth, with just the baby’s head technically “unborn”. If rights begin at birth, does this mean then that the baby has partial rights? But that’s a contradiction in terms, is it not? We can see the complexity introduced by the view that the main issue surrounding abortion is the question of when rights begin. Philosopher Ayn Rand, a staunch supporter of individual rights, understood this dilemma: “One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months.”

The ethical dilemma posed by PBA can be dramatized further. Republican congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, a doctor, tells this story, relayed by Joe Carter via First Things:

On one occasion in the 1960s when abortion was still illegal, I witnessed, while visiting a surgical suite as an OB/GYN resident, the abortion of a fetus that weighed approximately two pounds.

It was placed in a bucket, crying and struggling to breathe, and the medical personnel pretended not to notice.

Soon the crying stopped. This harrowing event forced me to think more seriously about this important issue.

That same day in the OB suite, an early delivery occurred and the infant born was only slightly larger than the one that was just aborted.

But in this room everybody did everything conceivable to save this child’s life. My conclusion that day was that we were overstepping the bounds of morality by picking and choosing who should live and who should die.

These were human lives. There was no consistent moral basis to the value of life under these circumstances.

My granddaughter was born 14 weeks premature. She weighed one pound, 11 ounces at birth; her weight dropping to one pound four ounces shortly thereafter before beginning a slow rebound. Today, she is a healthy nine year-old. Did she have rights at birth? Clearly, the answer is yes, on the premise that rights begin at birth. So, how does my granddaughter have rights, but the two pound product of late-term abortion Ron Paul watched die in a bucket not; the choice of the mother? But, this conflicts with the principle of the unalienability of rights: Rights are not subject to anyone’s choices.

So should abortion be legal in the early stages of a pregnancy, when the fetus in not viable, and banned thereafter? Or, should late-term abortions be forbidden except where the health of the mother and/or fetus is at issue? If the PBA procedure is legally restricted to protect the viable fetus, do we not run into the same issue concerning the principle of the woman's unalienable rights that we discussed in Part 2? No, because the right of the woman to terminate her pregnancy need not be infringed. Nor, however, need the rights of the baby be infringed. Assuming no extenuating circumstances, the issues of the rights of the baby and the rights of the woman diverge into separate issues after viability.

As I said, the nexus of abortion and rights presents the most difficult dilemma for liberty lovers, but again the principle of individual rights leads to the answer. To develop this argument further, let us consider what is meant by "birth." Merriam-Webster defines birth as:

a : the emergence of a new individual from the body of its parent
b : the act or process of bringing forth young from the womb

In the procedure called partial-birth abortion, the fully developed, viable fetus exits the womb, but not yet the body, and is then executed. So, did a birth occur, and rights begin for the fetus, or not? According to line a, the answer is no; to line b, the answer is yes. In a PBA, the infant exits the womb, but not fully the body, so relying only on the term "birth" leaves confdusion, which leads to the next question is: What is viability? Viability is defined as:

capable of developing, growing, and otherwise sustaining life, such as a normal human fetus at 24 weeks of gestation. able to maintain an independent existence; able to live after birth.

Referring back to the paragraphs in my last post, in which I quote from the essay by Ari Armstrong and Diana Hsieh in TOS in which the authors differentiate between fetal dependence and the independence of the newborn infant:

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.

Considering our definitions of “abortion,” "birth," and “viability,” the question arises: What of a procedure that involves a viable fetus “contained within and supported by the body of the pregnant woman,” but which is capable of being a “newborn infant liv[ing] his own life, outside his mother,” and brought forth from the womb in the process of a late-term abortion? How does that fit with the principle that “rights begin at birth?” Clearly, the dying baby of Ron Paul’s experience is a human being, with full rights deserving of full legal protections. The same should be said of the partially delivered baby described above.

I personally believe that, given the absolute moral nature of individual rights and in view of the facts of partial birth abortion, legal restrictions on late-term abortion as it relates to the infant are rationally and morally justified. In fact, in Rowe v. Wade the Supreme Court upheld the right of states to restrict abortion at the stage of viability. In the early stages, terminating the pregnancy necessarily involves terminating the life of the fetus because of its non-viability. Regardless of anyone’s moral evaluation concerning the procedure, the woman’s right to her own life includes the right to terminate her pregnancy. The decision is hers, and only hers. The idea that life – and thus the right to life – begins at conception is a religious view that has no place in the law of a secular government, the only legitimate type of government. But the idea that the right to life begins at birth necessarily must consider the viable fetus.

And here we see how the principle of individual rights points to a resolution of the question of late-term abortion. If rights begin at birth, then what do we do about the fully formed, healthy child delivered during PBA, prior to the obviously gruesome procedure that ends the abortion with what can only be termed the execution of a baby? Clearly, rights cannot belong and not belong to a person at the same time. The baby is delivered – i.e., born, for all intents and purposes – but for its head. It is undeniably a baby, capable of living solely through the power of its own biological and mental functions, as described above. Unlike the early stages of a pregnancy where there is no chance of survival outside the womb, the child can survive and flourish (leaving aside, for now, the cases of severe abnormalities). Furthermore, technical definitions of "birth" aside, the child has been essentially delivered. It is no longer in the womb. At this point, just prior to the procedure that ends the child’s life, does the baby not possess full rights? Do we split hairs, and say that the head is still in the body, or that the umbilical cord has yet to be cut? Or, do we acknowledge that a birth has occurred, and that rights have commenced? I believe the latter is true.

Put another way, abortion is a matter of terminating the pregnancy, not necessarily a life. In the early stages of a pregnancy, the life of the fetus – a developing, not an actual, human being – ends with the pregnancy. That death is an unavoidable consequence of early term abortions. It is one and the same issue, by its nature – the unalienable rights of the mother. At some point during the pregnancy, to be determined by the scientific facts of reality as regards fetal viability, the abortion issue diverges from the single issue of the rights of the woman. The issue is now dual; the right of the woman to terminate her pregnancy, versus the rights of a newborn child. Neither needs to be violated. The woman may still terminate the pregnancy (though why any woman, having endured most of the pregnancy, and in the absence of any extenuating circumstances such as her or her unborn child's health, would choose to end the pregnancy at this late stage is incomprehensible). However, the fate of the life of the child – now possessing rights - is no longer in her hands or the hands of the abortionist. A woman who inadvertently gets pregnant but who does not want a child at that time has ample opportunity to avert motherhood earlier in the pregnancy. Furthermore, adoption is still an option for her. The protection of the life and rights of the healthy child can and should be mandated by law. In this case, neither the rights of the woman or of the baby are or should be violated, because they do not conflict any more than the rights of mother and day-old child conflict. The fact that the mother might prefer PBA to other options is irrelevant. A fully developed child was born, acquiring rights. If another couple or institution is willing to voluntarily assume the moral and financial responsibility of raising the child, fine. If not, then the responsibility to raise the child is the mother’s, by virtue of the fact that she brought the child into the world. It’s true that a premature infant can require an extended period of expensive care, which the woman may not want to incur or be able to afford. But she let pass the opportunity to terminate the pregnancy earlier in the term, and still has the option to carry to term to avoid the expense. (We’re talking here of voluntary termination, not instances where health issues require early termination, in which case insurance should pick up the tab.)

The more exact way to frame the issue is: Rights begin with the bringing forth from the womb of a viable fetus. Essentially, this does not conflict with the basic principle that rights begin at birth.

Going further, the principle that rights begin at viability raise other questions, of course. For example, what if an emergency situation arises in which the lives of both mother and fetus are threatened, but only one can be saved? In any conflict of that kind, the woman’s rights and life take precedence, unless the woman’s prior instructions explicitly authorize placing the fetus’s life and health above her own.

What about a situation that involves a severely deformed fetus? In the late stages, the woman has already had plenty of time to terminate the pregnancy if she deemed it necessary to her life’s goals. It’s impossible to argue that, absent extenuating circumstances, inducing the almost complete delivery of a fully formed, healthy baby in order to kill it is justified from our unalienable rights perspective. It’s equally hard to make the case that an end run around the principle of viability rights should be allowed, such as an abortionist reverting to the older, more dangerous method of “dilation and evacuation” in which the fetus is killed inside the womb before removal. Yet it is also true, as I can attest to through personal experience involving a close family member, that legitimate reasons relating to the fetus’s health exist that can rationally justify full partial birth abortion. Some fetuses are so severely deformed that they will never be viable or live long, even after birth, and thus will never have rights in any meaningful way. In this extraordinary case: Who decides? This is a legal question that I do not believe can be resolved through any one-size-fits-all statute. Although I’m not a legal scholar, I think the best solution is judicial oversight or third-party certification. A woman seeking a partial birth abortion that involves her wish to end the child’s life for humane reasons could be required to obtain court permission, based upon legal guidelines regarding the baby’s health status and the doctors’ judgement (as well as the mother’s) established by legislative statute. Both the rights of the woman and the rights that I believe the fully formed child acquires during the partial birth procedure prior to aborting the baby’s life would be taken into court consideration in the same way that any contractual dispute would be resolved – by objectively examining the facts. But if viability means being able to survive and thrive on its own, then the right to terminate the life of a non-viable late-term fetus belongs to the woman, in conjunction with the diagnosis by her doctors and possibly with judicial oversight.

This leads me to one final crucial point: Rights, all rights, are inextricably linked by the principles that ground them. Criminalizing abortion – meaning, the voluntary termination of a pregnancy - can and ultimately will have catastrophic consequences for freedom across the board. As with any issue dealing with the rights of the individual, abortion as such is not the central point. For comparison, consider the First Amendment: The central issue is not what is said, but that one can say it. The central point is the role of the government, i.e., the roll of force in human relationships. The acceptance of bad principles will unleash that force in ways never intended by those who embrace it in regard to their own concrete cause. Just as “hate” crimes and “hate” speech laws will, if not reversed, upend freedom of speech and press, so the loss of a woman’s right to control her own body can and will have much wider ramifications. If a government can forbid abortion, then why can’t it also compel abortion? If you think I’m exaggerating, consider the awesome new powers awarded the EPA by the Bush Administration to regulate CO2, and the fact that with every breath a human being takes, 100 times more CO2 is exhaled than was inhaled (See my post Aborting “CO2 Machines”. In China today, the government compels abortion, ostensibly to control population growth. In Germany in the last century, human beings were used for the most hideous medical experiments. Contrary to accepted belief, this was not primarily a result of blind, wanton cruelty, but of a theory that was widely accepted in the early 20th century. That German practice was itself an outgrowth of the eugenics movement, which held that forced sterilization and other techniques could be used on human beings to weed out weak gene lines in order to “perfect” the human race. Eugenics was taken very seriously in America, where leading American intellectuals and public figures, including President Theodore Roosevelt, ascribed to that theory. The flowering of American eugenics had horrifying consequences here. In Germany, that idea was put to work by the Nazi drive to create a master race. These are actual concrete examples of theories and practices that have a crucial principle in common with the misnamed “pro-life” movement…that a woman’s (and thus everyone’s) body is the property of the state. When you accept the “pro-life” position, you accept the principle that the body belongs to the state.

Armstrong and Hsieh elaborate greatly on this point. They show how, for example, the “Personhood” movement – which would legally define personhood as beginning at conception – would open up fertility clinics and their employees and owners to murder charges, ending the in vitro practice vital to couples who can not conceive on their own (page 17). Furthermore, by logical extension, common birth control methods can be banned (page 15) as well as embryonic stem-cell research, research important to the cure for childhood diseases (page 18).

Importantly, Armstrong and Hsieh correctly trace the roots of the anti-abortion rights crusade to religion:

Despite the strategic differences among antiabortion crusaders, the vast majority of them are zealously driven to rewrite American law in accordance with religious assumptions. They seek to ban abortion because they regard the termination of any pregnancy as contrary to God’s will.

Armstrong and Hsieh provide ample evidence for this point, then provide a powerful argument to demonstrate how allowing law based upon religious tenets would ultimately destroy freedom:

However, the antiabortion crusade threatens rights in an even more fundamental way—by demanding laws founded on religious beliefs rather than observable facts. Claims of divine commands, including the supposed “rights” granted by God, are nothing more than arbitrary, baseless assertions: There is no evidence for the existence of a God, let alone for any morally binding edicts from such a being. Any laws based on religious stories and dogmas will necessarily clash with the objectively demonstrable rights of individuals and the laws that properly protect those rights. Consequently, the antiabortion movement, particularly in conjunction with the broader “social conservative” agenda of the religious right, poses a grave threat to all our liberties.

If abortion should be outlawed because some people imagine that God imbues the zygote with the right to life at the moment of conception, then our whole system of laws could be rewritten to reflect popular tenets of Christianity—and individual rights would be systematically violated in the process. For example, if, as the Baptists claim, devout Christians should eschew alcohol, then perhaps alcohol should be banned across America, as happened under Prohibition—rights of property and trade be damned.51 Because Jesus regards lust in the heart as adultery (Matthew 5), perhaps pornography should be banned—a goal Michele Bachmann has already endorsed—even if that violates the rights of contract, expression, and voluntary association between consenting adults.52 Any claimed right to ban activities or goods on religious grounds necessarily clashes with our actual rights of property, contract, and speech.

To carry this argument further – and as a warning to Christian Rightists – inserting the principle that religious tenets may serve as the basis of law means that any religious tenets may serve that purpose, including radical Islam's, which is gaining political power all across the Muslim world. Enlightened Christians understand that the doctrine of separation of church and state serves as a wall of protection for religious freedom. No civil, peaceful society can exist except on the basis of reason. Reason, as Ayn Rand has observed, “is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses.” When reason is the basis of law, objective reality – accessible to all - serves as the final arbiter and frame of reference for disagreements and agreements among people. Reality exists independent of man’s mind, and thus each individual must turn outward, observing the demonstrable facts of reality, to make his case. Because reality is absolute, it can serve as the proper basis for resolving disputes. People can then rely upon rational argument and persuasion in dealing with one another.

In a religion-based society, reason takes a back seat to faith – the reliance on feelings. Faith is the turning inward, away from objective reality, which means the rejection of reason and thus reality as the basis for human interaction. No agreement is possible between two or more individuals with differing opinions based upon feelings. In a secular society based upon objective law, neither is a threat to each other, because each has the protected right to his own beliefs. But the mixing of religion and politics – governmental force – enables one individual or faction to impose his beliefs on others, while remaining free from rational validation of his beliefs. How would one convince him of the wrongness of his laws? How does one argue with irrational feelings? How does one settle disputes with political leaders who have turned inward, away from reality, thus abandoning reason? One can’t, which means the only way to settle disputes is through physical force. As Ayn Rand convincingly demonstrates in her essay “Faith and Force, the Destroyers of the Modern World,” faith and force are inextricable corollaries, which is why faith must be kept out of politics and law.

Let anyone expressing an opinion on the legality of abortion, including those opposed to it, understand that only positions based upon rationality – fidelity to reality – are valid. My positions are clearly articulated here and thus open for logical scrutiny and refutation. Contrary opinions must be based upon the same. An argument based upon faith is no argument at all, but an arbitrary assertion and thus unanswerable.

In conclusion, the preservation and protection of individual rights are crucial to the survival of man the individual, and thus to a free, just, and benevolent society, and the abortion issue can not be isolated from this broader context. The nature of individual rights allows full protection of abortion rights. The principle of rights dictates that a woman has unrestricted “pro-choice” rights early in the pregnancy, but at some point revolving around the issue of fetal viability legal restrictions and/or judicial oversight relating to the rights of the newborn baby of some objective kind become appropriate. Those restrictions - whatever they may, as determined by legal scholars and philosophers - are grounded in the nature of late-term abortion and the principle that rights begin with the birth of a viable infant, whether that birth is natural or induced. The restrictions involve the life of the fully viable newborn, not control of the mother’s body. The termination of the pregnancy, for whatever reason, not just health – must be legal throughout a woman’s term of pregnancy. It is her body. But the fully developed, viable newborn should be protected unless saving the child would jeopardize the life or health of the mother or unless the mother instructs the doctors to save the baby even at risk to herself.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why Bad Economics Plagues New York City

The New York City Council recently passed a bill that restricts banks’ ability to foreclose on delinquent mortgages and forces them to expand lending to high risk borrowers. The New York Post correctly highlighted the economic destructiveness of these bills, noting that these very types of policies helped set the stage for the housing meltdown.

A couple of other bills would force employers to pay above market wages in some occupations. Here again, the Post correctly noted that this bill would kill jobs in the city.

The Post blasted the council members, saying they “by and large are economic illiterates…, while those few who do get it don’t care.”

I left the following brief comments:

Yes, the hacks that vote for this stuff are economic illiterates. But economics is not their concern. They believe what they’re doing is moral, because some people NEED higher wages, and some people NEED homes. They are altruists, and altruism holds that need is the moral standard, and all else—justice, contracts, the right of others to freely act on their own rational judgment--must be subordinated to it.

But this is morally perverse. The fact is, these bills are not just economically destructive, but IMMORAL, because they force bankers and employers to act against their own self-interest. The economically practical is also the moral.

If the pro-free market capitalist Right is bewildered about why it has such a hard time gaining traction despite overwhelming historical and theoretical evidence of the correctness of its cause, it is because it doesn't recognize that economic issues are not just about economics.

Anti-capitalists don’t care if overall prosperity is diminished or if the most ambitious and productive are hurt by their policies. To them, it’s all about “fairness,” and egalitarian “equality” at all costs is what’s “fair.”

Of course, the most productive and ambitious provide the opportunities that can lift everyone, so economic ignorance plays a role. But altruism clouds the facts, coloring the moral views of free markets, which are seen—correctly—as dominated by the pursuit of self-interest. This view leads many to brush aside the facts as morally irrelevant, which leads to bad economic policy that is seen as morally right.

To begin to turn the tide, the free market Right must promote its viewpoint as right. And what’s right is self-interest—or more precisely, rational self-interest. Spreading prosperity and opportunities for the poor and the young are not primary validations of free markets. They are consequences of the moral rightness of free markets.

[Afterword: There are deeper philosophical issues that underpin morality that must be grasped by the Right, however. For a good introduction into this broader field, I recommend a 42 minute lecture by Yaron Brook titled “Why Bad Economics Won’t Go Away,” and the 33 minute Q&A that follows.]

For more, see:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Camille Gaeta is Wrong on JP Morgan Trading Loss Fiasco

A New Jersey Star-Ledger letter writer cited the recently announced trading loss of $2 billion by bank giant JP Morgan as reason for still more government regulations. Camille Gaeta wrote:

So Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, still thinks the banking industry can regulate itself? Without government regulations, the “too big to fail” banks brought the U.S. economy to its knees with unchecked speculation in 2008, and it was you and I, the taxpayers, who had to bail them out. And now billions are lost again.
Could there be any more proof to implement government regulations now, in order to protect the struggling taxpayer against the greed and self-interest of banks such as JPMorgan Chase?
Camille Gaeta, Kearny

I responded with these comments:

The causes of the financial crisis can all be traced back to massive government intervention in and regulation of the financial, mortgage, and housing industries, not “unchecked speculation.” Yet those blinded by visions of the god-state call for more of the same, as if government officials are endowed with omniscience and infallibility that can somehow eliminate all human error by bounding bankers and investors hand and foot.

Finance is the most heavily regulated industry in America, and that is the source of the problem. Regulation of the banking industry, which hasn’t “regulated itself” for almost a century, should be massively rolled back, starting with the “too big to fail” taxpayer bailout policies that encourage bigness and excessive risk-taking.  JP Morgan and its investors should be left alone to heal its wounds and its reputation, and take its lumps—just as it should be free to reap the rewards of successful investments. It’s simply immoral to burden all other firms with more regulation because of the mistakes of the one.

It’s time to stop blaming the straw men of “greed and self-interest” and recognize that in America today we are witnessing the increasingly spectacular failure of the regulatory state.

Gaeta and other knee-jerk regulation faithful should also consider that the 2008 financial meltdown was caused by government-imposed unsound mortgage lending standards. Yet these are the people that are supposed to dictate to banks what they can and can not do with the money they manage?

Give me "greedy" self-interested bankers over our altruistic public servants any day!

And on the "greed and self-interest" front, I must wonder: JP Morgan was certainly--and properly--motivated by self-interest in its trading strategy. It's loss resulted from miscalculations or, as Dimon put it, "stupidity." So, I wonder what Ms. Gaeta would have had them do; act on altruism and selflessness, the opposite of "greed and self-interest?" What would that mean; that they should try their best to lose as much money as possible, in hopes that some "stupid" mistake would enable them to accidentally make money?

For more insightful commentary on this, read JP Morgan's Big Loss Highlights the Virtue of Capitalism at The Objective Standard Blog.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

By All Means, Let Parents Lead

In Newark parents must become leaders on school reform, a NJ Star-Ledger guest columnist urges "the one [interest group] that really matters"--the parents--to take the lead in school reform. 

Jody Pittman, a parent, asks:

There are thousands of children in Newark Public Schools and these children have, without question, received a substandard education. The vast majority is failing and we have allowed it to happen for more than 20 years. Shame on us. The argument of charter vs. public is not the issue. The issue is clear: Should a parent have the right to choose how and who takes on the most important job in the lives of our children — their destiny?
At first glance, Pittman appears to be making a call for free market reforms to education. But the key word is her use of the word "our" instead of "his/her" before "children" in the question. It's clear what she means a little later in the article:

We must also remember, as progressive parents, we assume responsibility for the “community of children.”
The article, as it turns out, is merely a call for the preservation of the status quo, with only a new  political interest group labeled "parents" taking the lead over other "stakeholders, politicians, neighbors and friends to turn our system around": 

What should parents do? First, remain hopeful because, given the proper tools, our children have the capacity to learn; demand that all families are engaged via community programming, in order to reach and teach those parents who don’t participate in the education process; allow for very necessary change; and hold all accountable.
What kind of "change" does Pittman suggest should come out of this parental free-for-all? In true Obama-esque spirit, her answer is:

There is no wrong and right — only the definite need for change. And those who are willing to move with the immediacy and urgency that our children deserve and require should be given the opportunity.
No wrong and right in regards to so crucial an issue as children's education? Just the need for blind, groping change? If you want a demonstration of the blind alley at the end of the road that pragmatism paves, there it is, on the editorial page of New Jersey's largest newspaper!

At least Pittman leaves the door open for rationality to enter:

As parents, we should be horrified with the way this is being handled and played to the media by some politicians and community activists. If you have no alternative plan to maximize the genius of our children, please allow someone to try something new, innovative and even uncomfortable.
I controlled my exasperation long enough to leave the following comments (posted under my S/L screen name ""zemack"):

Posted by zemack April 27, 2012 at 1:14PM
Creating another special interest group labeled “parents” is not the answer. The answer, as Ms. Pittman urges, is to “try something new, innovative and even uncomfortable.”
Parents—meaning, as individuals--should be free to pursue their own children’s education with their own money or with scholarships and grants from voluntary charitable organizations. They should be free to contract with educators and schools of their choice, by mutual voluntary agreement. Parents need to be free to do more than merely “express its opinion.” They must be free to act on their own opinions, judgments—and reason. That is their inalienable right. That is true parental empowerment.
Government-run schools cut parents out of the mix, and no amount of “reform” will ever change that fact. When “the community” is in charge, the individual is not. It massively violates individual rights by forcing people to pay for schools, educational philosophies and methods, and curricula they may not use and may not like or agree with. It forcibly diverts educational authority away from the very people to whom it rightfully, morally, and logically belongs—the parents.
Yes, “it is time for parents to lead.” But what if two parents disagree on what’s best for their own children? Whose “opinions” would be forced on whom? Until we recognize that tax-funded, government-run education itself is the problem—and that free market education, which recognizes individual rights, is the only moral alternative—that phrase is just empty rhetoric.
Would liberating parents, taxpayers, and educators in a free market be “uncomfortable” for the establishment “stakeholders?” It would be about time.

For more, read:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jesus' Ethics Supports Expanding, not Shrinking, the Welfare State

In Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan opposes Catholic values, NJ Star-Ledger Editorial board member Linda Ocasio basically smeared Representative Paul Ryan (R) for claiming that his proposed budget--which would modestly scales back growth of the welfare state--is consistent with Catholic teaching. What drew Ocasio's ire? This from Ryan:

"The preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenets of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life. Help people get out of poverty, out onto life of independence."
From that, we get this from Ocasio:

We’d love to hear Ryan’s version of the good Samaritan. Maybe instead of helping the poor fellow on the side of the road, the Samaritan dispensed a few uplifting words and continued on his merry way.
The problem is, "help" is not defined. Ocasio does make it obvious that by help she doesn't mean a voluntary act of good will. That doesn't fit into her worldview. She writes:

Ryan is the mastermind behind the Republican budget that lays waste to anti-poverty programs. Ryan cuts billions for Medicaid, food stamps, Head Start, Pell grants, job training and elder care. Hey, that’s what Jesus would do, isn’t it?
Ocasio equates Good Samaritanism with welfare statism. Every one of those programs begins with government theft. Every one is funded by money forcibly taken from productive people. The Good Samaritan, in Ocasio's world, is the man who pulls legal stick-ups for a living, hands some of the loot to some "poor fellow," making him dependent on stolen goods, then claims credit for being "anti-poverty." 

Since Ocasio shrieks in horror at so callous a phrase as "life of independence," one wonders what she means by "anti-poverty." Isn't independence the very antithesis of poverty? Ocasio should explain how one could be against both poverty and independence.

But Ocasio raises a more fundamental question: What does Christianity actually stand for?  This goes to the heart of the conflict between the Christian Right and the Christian Left. In this regard, I've left the following comments:

zemack April 26, 2012 at 8:42PM 
   It’s an open question whether Jesus would support the redistributionist state. After all, every dollar handed out by government programs is a dollar taken by force from someone who earned it. Would Jesus support legalized theft on such a grand scale? Who knows?
   But one thing for sure is that the Catholic Church thinks so. It has long been on record, in the name of Jesus, as calling for a totalitarian global welfare state. Paul VI lays out this vision in no uncertain terms in his 1967 Encyclical Populorum Progressio. He called for “public authorities” to be endowed with powers to redistribute “created goods” from those who created them to those who didn’t. Those powers are to be total, enabling governments “to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used” in pursuit of their collectivist vision. Paul was unequivocal: “All other rights, whatever they may be, including the rights of property and free trade, are to be subordinated to this principle.”
   In other words, you live at the mercy of an omnipotent state, which will guarantee your basic sustenance. Benedict XVI, reaffirmed this view in his 2009 Encyclical Caritas in Veritate. This is a long-held ideology. The Church was Marxist before Marx.
   Whatever Jesus’ politics, his ethics of universal altruism and self-sacrifice for those who have less underpins socialism in all of its variants. If Ryan—who, by the way, would not actually cut the welfare state, but merely grow it more slowly—is going to rely on Jesus to support his budget, he’ll lose. Morally, Jesus is clearly on the other side.
   The only way to defeat socialism is to reject altruism and uphold ethical, rational egoism; the inalienable right of every individual to think and act on his own judgment, in support of his own life, choices, goals, property, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Or, to put it more simply, the right to be free from thieving welfare statists.

Monday, May 14, 2012

In Answer to a Reader about Licensure

My recent TOS post, "It's time to End Occupational Licensure," a reader left the following comment:

Posted by Angie DetriotCollapse; We should end all government certification of trades and professionals as well.   If you want to fly a plan,  just buy one and take it up into the skies.  Who is the government to say you know what you'r doing.  You want to be a dentist?  Buy a chair and get her done!
I posted the following answer:

Operating licensure is outside the scope of this post. 
But as to that “dentist,” unscrupulous practitioners can (and do) operate on the fringes of any occupation. That’s why we have anti-fraud and criminal negligence laws and the like. Government should vigorously enforce these laws, rather than hamper honorable, productive people with licensure requirements.
Civil court redress is also available to anyone believed to have been harmed as a result of work performed by unqualified personnel. 
In a free market, there are strong legal and market incentives for tradesmen and professionals to voluntarily seek certifications in their occupational fields from trusted accreditation firms, as their own judgments dictate. All we need from government is for it to do its job of protecting individual rights.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Instead of Universal Health Care, How About Universal Health Care Freedom?

Winthrop C. Dillaway III, M.D., president of the New Jersey chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, had a guest editorial in the NJ Star-Ledger recently. In his article, Dillaway called for "universal health care." His piece is aptly titled The power of universal health care.

I left the following comments:

zemack April 18, 2012 at 2:55PM

The first major flaw is in the first sentence: Mr. Dillaway notes that “In 2009…the U.S. health care system was painfully dysfunctional” without any analysis of the causes of that dysfunction. But that is where the conversation must begin.
Before ObamaCare, almost 90 % of healthcare spending was disconnected from the consumer of healthcare; either because of government programs or the third-party-payer insurance system coercively back-doored in through the tax code. Add to that the flood of mandates and regulations on private insurers, the banning of interstate competition among insurers, and many other government-imposed restrictions on healthcare freedom, and you have all of the problems—including runaway costs and the pre-existing conditions crisis—that make for the dysfunctionality Dillaway laments.
The solution is to roll back government interference in healthcare, not to reward the government with ever more control. And make no mistake; “universal health care” is a euphemism for totalitarian government-run healthcare. The title of the article is apt; “The Power of Universal Health Care” refers to political power—the power of physical force; of government bureaucrats dictating who gets what healthcare when and at what cost. 
Contrary to Dillaway’s glowing assessment of socialized medicine, the fact is when government bean counters “do…overall budgeting, accounting, overhead control and insurance risk-pooling,” the cost in actual human lives and suffering caused by the loss of freedom is horrendous and incalculable. Example:
Sentenced to death for being old: The NHS denies life-saving treatment to the elderly, as one man's chilling story reveals.
The moral solution is universal freedom for each individual patient, consumer, doctor, and so on to make his/her own decisions in a free market where the government protects individual rights. The government’s proper function is not to guarantee “universal” anything, but to guarantee the conditions of liberty that allow the spread of technological advancements—including in healthcare--to all sectors of the population.
To place everyone’s lives and careers at the mercy of a dictatorial “elite” in pursuit of the chimera of “universal healthcare”--because under freedom some small percentage may have to depend on voluntary charity--is unconscionable. 
I'm always amazed that there are doctors who would willingly place their judgments, knowledge, skills, and careers at the disposal of government bureaucrats.  Would you want to place your medical well-being in the hands of such a person?

The words of philosopher Leonard Peikoff came back to me as I read this article. Peikoff noted that under government-run medicine, a certain kind of doctor flourishes; what he calls "new bureaucratic doctors." 

The following refers to HMOs, which are government created, but is true of any government-imposed, top-down system of healthcare. Simply substitute "government" for HMO.

After discussing how doctors under government medicine must subordinate their practice and the well-being of their patients to the dictates of cost-cutting bureaucrats, Peikoff writes:

[T]he HMO doctor ultimately has to obey: he either keeps his costs within the dictated parameters, or he is out of work. 
What kinds of doctors are willing or eager to practice medicine undei [sic] these conditions? In large part, they represent a new breed, new at leasl [sic] in quantity. There is a generation of utterly unambitious young doctors growing up today, especially conspicuous in the HMOs, doctors who are the exact opposite of the old-fashioned physician in private practice—doctors who want to escape the responsibility of independent thought and judgment, and who are prepared to abandon the prospect of a large income or a private practice in order to achieve this end. These doctors do not mind the forfeit of their professional autonomy to the HMO administrator. They do not object to practicing routine, cut-rate medicine with faceless patients on an assembly-line basis—so long as they themselves can escape blame for any bad results and cover their own tracks. These are the new bureaucratic doctors, the MDs with the mentality, and the fundamental indifference to their job, of the typical post-office clerk.
Peikoff spoke those words in 1985. I do not know what kind of a doctor Dillaway is. Was he a member of the "generation of utterly unambitious young doctors" Peikoff identified? Whatever the case--his mawkish serenades to the "profound benefits to all" that supposedly accompanies government-run medicine aside--the question remains:  Would you want to place your medical well-being in the hands of a Dr. Dillaway?