Thursday, June 29, 2017

Droughts and Lack of Clean Water: It’s the Politics, Stupid!

In the comments section of former New Jersey Governor James Florio’s article ThoughtfuRepublicans must stop Trump's EPA cuts (see my last post, EPA Cuts in the Climate Change ‘Fight’ Means More Money to Mitigate Real Pollution), correspondent Lbwalnj posted in support of Florio:

Lack of safe drinking water is already impacting places in the world. Droughts, contamination, destruction of watersheds, overpopulation straining what is available. Lack of water can mean wars and dislocations of people. Part of the mass migration of Syrians in recent years into Western Europe is due to 5+ years of droughts that pushed many farmers off their land, into cities there then political chaos.  China is already seeing serious problems from a lack of clean water.

Here in NJ due to years of far thinking people, we have done a lot to preserve clean water in by protecting land for watersheds and trying to clean up polluted waterways
Still more can be done. Reduce the use of bottled water from 100's of miles away and from often foreign owned companies (Nestle owns Poland Spring for example). Limit private and foreign ownership of water supplies (French company Suez owned water companies in much of Bergen Co.). Government and quasi-Government utilities must have strict ethics and not be political playgrounds to favored parties. Limit development in and near watershed areas, ban development in flood plain areas and encourage reasonable reductions in use of water by more efficient appliances, faucets, recycling of 'gray' water. [sic, emphasis added]

I left these comments, edited and expanded for clarity:

If it’s true that the Syrian refugee crisis “is due to 5+ years of droughts,” then how to explain the lack of a refugee crisis in California, where a severe five year drought just came to an end? It’s obvious to anyone with eyes and ears that the Syrian tragedy has nothing to do with drought or climate change, and everything to do with repression from Assad’s dictatorship and religious (Islamic) totalitarianism.

The problem of clean water is strictly political.

Wherever enterprise is free to produce and market clean water, clean water availability is plentiful and improving both for agriculture and drinking. Thanks to freedom and plentiful reliable energy, droughts are readily manageable rather than killers. Kudos to Nestle and Suez! Legally limiting private and foreign ownership of water supplies amounts to a moratorium on clean water production. Such a moratorium is insane and would be catastrophic. Government should protect, not violate, the rights of people to produce, market, distribute, and profit from the provision of clean water to consumers voluntarily willing to buy it.

“Lack of safe drinking water” is not some new problem. It is an age-old problem. Contrary to the mindless scaremongers, improved access to clean water is at an all-time high worldwide—91% in 2015, up from 76% in 1990, according to the World Health Organization. This, in the era of alleged climate catastrophe. Furthermore, worldwide deaths due to droughts are down well over 99% over the last 80 years, according to World Bank and other sources. Increased use and availability of economical, reliable, industrial scale fossil fuel energy for both transportation and agriculture is vital to this improvement in access to clean water and world health generally.

Climate change is not the problem. Efforts to “fight” it by restricting energy and freedom are the problems. Humans need more freedom and capitalism, not more political repression.

Related Reading:

The planet has never been a safer place for humans to live—Alex Epstein

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

EPA Cuts in the Climate Change ‘Fight’ Means More Money to Mitigate Real Pollution

Former New Jersey Governor James J. Florio continued the NJ Star-Ledger’s Earth Day assault. Trump has proposed a 31% cut in the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency. Part of the cut is to be achieved by eliminating climate change funding, including moneys that fund climate change considerations in environmental reviews.

EPA reductions on SuperFund cleanups will particularly impact our State with more such toxic sites than any other State. With over 110 toxic sites within our 21 counties, we average about five sites per County. That means no one lives very far from one of these toxic locations that are officially designated as "imminent and substantial hazards to human health and the environment".  Leaching as they do into our surface and ground drinking water supplies, expeditious remediation is essential to deal with these catastrophic problems of past practices.
In a related issue defending existing laws, such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery act (RCRA), which prospectively regulates the disposal of toxic waste, insures the creation of new SuperFund sites. [sic]

These are legitimate concerns, as is the issue of clean water. “In the 21st Century, with a new awareness of the problems associated with fossil fuels,” writes Florio, “water has assumed th[e] role [of] indispensable lubricant” of economic and social development. Note that Florio no longer views fossil fuels as indispensable in cleaning up pollution, but as part of the problem. We’ll see why later.

SuperFund sites are contaminated old industrial sites, often left over from defunct corporations. It’s arguable whether the government should be paying to clean up or contain the pollution of these sites. Where the polluting corporation is still in existence, it can and should, and usually is, made to fund the cleanup, or at least part of it. As to abandoned sites that pose a danger to innocent parties but in which responsible parties no longer exist or are unknown, the question must be asked in regard to paying for cleanup costs, “If not the general taxpayer, then whom?” I have no answer. It’s a question more properly addressed by free market legal scholars.

That constitutional issue aside, Florio followed his last statement with what one commenting correspondent labeled “a bizarre non- sequitur”:

Likewise, the failure to take seriously climate change concerns, denying even the existence of the problem by the Trump-appointed head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is a major threat to New Jersey's water supply.  

I chose this sentence as a lead into my comments, which I have edited for clarity:

Climate Change. Therein lies the problem—but it’s not the problem Governor Florio sees.

What is scientifically demonstrated—hysterical speculation to the contrary notwithstanding—is that the causes of modern climate change is some heretofore debatable combination of natural and human causes, but which in any event is benign, mild, and manageable. Yet the EPA is wasting enormous financial resources on “fighting climate change?” Why?

Climate catastrophism is a political agenda of the statists on the Left—an agenda rationalized by the idiotic notion that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. If the EPA could stop wasting $billions on “fighting climate change”—which Trump seems to intend to do—the bloated EPA budget can be cut without reducing spending on cleaning up real pollution. The Federal Government may even be able to increase funding of legitimate pollution cleanup while cutting the budget and saving taxpayers money.

Wasteful climate change spending is the problem. (There’s probably a lot of waste in the superfund cleanup operation, as well, given that the EPA seems to be staffed in part by environmentalist zealots.) That issue aside for the moment, Pruitt appears to be a level-headed guy and a welcome rational counterbalance to the climate change hystericists. Pollution certainly has been a negative side effect of industrialization. And a lot of anti-pollution progress has already been made, but no one would argue against the notion that more needs to be done. The government and law has a role in this. (What that role entails is beyond the scope of this discussion.)

I think Pruitt may do a good job of prioritizing spending and separating the Ideological Environmentalism’s political agenda from the practical work of pollution control and cleanup. I certainly trust him more than I trust the quasi-religious climate catastrophists and their enablers.

Related Reading:

The planet has never been a safer place for humans to live—Alex Epstein

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sanders Should Look to His Socialism for Answer to Hodgkinson's Political Violence

A lot of analysis about the Alexandria shooting of Republican congressmen involves trying to decipher some connection between rhetoric and violence. But we should look to a deeper, more fundamental level than rhetoric. I’m talking about the ideas behind the rhetoric.

Bernie Sanders is said to be 'Sickened' That the Alexandria Shooter Was a Volunteer on His Presidential Campaign. As Bridget Johnson reports for PJ Media,

"We’ve got to stop the violence," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) after a shooter whose social media showed he was apparently a fan of the former presidential candidate opened fire on Republicans practicing for Thursday's congressional baseball game.

Sanders undoubtedly doesn’t condone the shooting. But, given his hateful rhetoric against “the 1%” and assertions that healthcare is a right that should be guaranteed by the government, it shouldn’t be surprising that the man who committed the Alexandria shooting was a Sanders acolyte.

Government is the only institution that, via its law-making powers, can compel obedience. This is as it should and must be. A civil society cannot exist without the rule of law. The rule of law cannot exist if the government cannot enforce the law—that is, back it up with police power, the power of physical force; i.e. the threat of violence. Law is political force. Political force is deferred violence.

A proper government is restrained in the use of its lawmaking power to the protection of individual rights; that is, to the retaliatory use of force against those who initiate its use. It can send armed government agents to arrest you for robbing someone at gunpoint. But it cannot become the armed robber. It can arrest you if you force someone to act against her will, as with extortion. But it cannot become the assailant, as with economic regulation. A proper government can only use political force against criminals, who are those who commit acts of aggressive force against others. It cannot become the criminal; i.e., use its lawmaking powers in an aggressive way against citizens who have not violated others rights through the violation of criminal laws.

What social system is based on a government constitutionally limited to retaliatory force? Capitalism. What social system is based on a government that is free to initiate aggressive force? Socialism. Socialism starts with criminal aggressive force—that is, violence. Violence, camouflaged as law, is built into the DNA of socialism. Name one socialist policy that doesn’t begin with armed aggression—the taking of private wealth or the compelling of innocent citizens to act against their own judgement. It doesn’t exist.

Capitalism forbids government from infringing on the rights of individuals to work, trade, freely associate, and to keep and dispose of earned property. Communist-minded individuals can start their own commune, pool their money, and distribute it “to each according to his need.” A capitalist government can not and will not stop such free and voluntary associations. Nor can it force anyone to join. Socialism, on the other hand, can force the unwilling into such communist-minded associations. Try not paying your Social Security taxes, and instead use those dollars you earned for your own purposes. You’ll be arrested and thrown into a cage. Under socialism, you are considered to have a “right” to material goods you did not earn—which means those who did earn them have no right to them, and are compelled by political force, by deferred violence, to turn them over to you. Those unearned goods are yours by “right.” America is a mixture of capitalism and socialism, with socialism gaining and capitalism retreating.

Now imagine a right wing politician proposing to cut back or eliminate one of America’s socialist programs, like Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, that takes those earnings of others to satisfy your “right” to health care. Hell hath no fury like a parasite scorned. By the inverted morality implied in “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” the collector of government subsidies is a victim of Republican attempts to reduce what is rightfully his subsidies. The Republicans are not returning money to its rightful owners, those who earned it. In reducing the subsidies, they are taking from needy people what is rightfully theirs. Given Bernie Sanders’s explicit assertion that health care is a right, Republicans’ proposal to cut back on Medicaid is aggression. It is not the forced redistribution of wealth of Medicaid subsidies that is violent. It is the Medicaid reduction itself. It is not those who are taxed of their earnings to support Medicaid recipients who are victims. The victims are the profiteers on the taxed—those who lose their unearned Medicaid handouts.

Is it any wonder that James T. Hodgkinson, the thug who shot up a GOP baseball practice session in Alexandria, Virginia, was a Sanders presidential campaign volunteer? Sanders explicitly considers himself a socialist; that is, a believer in using the deferred violence of political power to force people into socialist programs based on a “right” to material benefits that others must be forced to provide. By the logic of socialism, Hodgkinson's violent act was an act of retaliation in defense of that right, not a wanton act of aggression. Anyone advocating free markets, restoration of more freedom in healthcare, etc. is going to be the target.

This is not to say that overt violence is precisely the same as socialist government policies. Violence is worse, in that a law can be repealed, a lost life (or the lost recovery time of those wounded) cannot be brought back. It is to say that Hodgkinson's violence and Sanders’s support for ObamaCare and eventually single-payer healthcare spring from the same source: They are both manifestations of aggressive force, the bane of mankind. Sanders doesn’t oppose what Hodgkinson did. He opposes Hodgkinson’s method. Sanders prefers the legislative method of criminality, because he can’t be arrested for that—the government is on his, not his victims’, side. Sanders shouldn’t be surprised that Hodgkinson worked on his campaign. Hodgkinson’s violence is a logical extension of Sanders’s socialism, which is built on aggressive force.

Sanders said he is “sickened by this despicable act” by “someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign.” Sanders went on to say,

Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.

It’s true that violence has no place in bringing about change—not in America; not as long as we have a First Amendment, and we can fight with words and with ballots. I am not suggesting that Sanders is somehow personally responsible for the shooting. He is not. It is all on Hodgkinson. But our most deeply held American values are the inalienable rights to life, liberty, property earned through our own individual work and efforts, and the pursuit of happiness. Sanders seeks to invert those values. Socialism is at all times, in every instance, in its essence, aggressively violent and totalitarian. I would venture to guess that many Sanders supporters secretly “understand,” sympathize with, if not outright condone what Hodgkinson did.

If Bernie Sanders really believes "We’ve got to stop the violence,” he’d look to the implied violence of socialist political power that he advocates to understand its logical derivative, politically motivated violence of the Hodgkinsons of the nation. That won’t happen, because that would require him to apply the same principle to his socialist worldviews—and abandon them to the only social system that banishes violence, implied or overt, from all human relationships, including relationships involving individuals in their capacity as government officials. That system is constitutional republican government and its logical derivative, capitalism.

Related Reading:

Bernie Sanders Links Political Rhetoric to Violence When 'Right-Wing,' Not When Perpetrated by His Own Volunteer—Matt Welsh

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pope Francis’ Critics Fail to Appreciate the Fundamental Motives Behind His Anti-Individualism

In a Message to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Pope Francis reaffirmed his hatred of human freedom and flourishing.

In true socialistic fashion, Francis again speaks of the “evils” of the “unequal distributions of goods,” and condemns “inequality” by conflating two opposing theories of rights—political (“the theoretical attribution of equal rights for all”) with the economic (“the unequal and iniquitous distribution of fundamental goods”). Political freedom, the right to act, is in fact incompatible with the “right” to goods and services that others must be forced to provide. A long line of popes, including Francis, have continually upheld the Church's position that forced redistribution trumps political freedom, including property and trade rights (which are derived from political rights).

But Francis doesn’t stop at forced redistribution. He makes plain the scope of the authority that must be exerted over the individual:

A first point I want to bring to your attention is the extension necessary today of the traditional notion of justice, which cannot be restricted to judgment on the distributive moment of wealth, but must be pushed until the moment of its production. [emphasis added]

This is another way of calling for government control, not only of our wealth, but of our productive actions—the means of production. Sound familiar? Does Marxism come to mind? The pope doesn’t seem to care if the socialistic control takes the form of outright ownership (communism) or regulatory quasi-ownership (fascism)—although he seems to favor the fascist approach, which national socialist Adolf Hitler described as “Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.” The Hitlerian notion of socializing—i.e., enslaving—human beings is what Francis seems to have in mind, based on this and other writings. (See “related reading” below for my other comments on Francis.)

There’s a lot of other stuff along these lines. At times, Francis seems to pay lip service to freedom, but always vaguely and always with a “but.” Francis’ fundamental principles make clear that references to human freedom, dignity, and the like are window dressing. Toward the end of his Message to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Francis makes clear where he stands:

Finally, I cannot fail to speak of the grave risks connected with the invasion, in the high levels of culture and of instruction — be it of the university or school –, of the positions of libertarian individualism. A common characteristic of this fallacious paradigm is that it minimizes the common good, namely, the “living well,” the “good life,” in the communal framework, and exalts that egoistic ideal,  which deceitfully affirms that it is only the individual that gives value to things and to inter-personal relations and, therefore, it is only the individual that decides what thing is good and what thing is bad; libertarianism, very fashionable today, preaches that to found individual freedom and responsibility one must recur to the idea of self-causation. Thus libertarian individualism denies the validity of the common good, because on one hand it implies that the idea itself of “common” implies the constriction of at least some individuals, and on the other hand that the notion of “good” deprives freedom of its essence.

The radicalization of individualism in libertarian terms and, therefore, antisocial, leads to conclude that each one has the ‘right”  to expand himself to where his power consents him even at the price of the exclusion and marginalization of the most vulnerable majority. Because it would limit freedom, the bonds must be what must be loosened. Erroneously equating the concept of bond with that of link, one ends up by confusing the conditionings of freedom – the links – with the essence of the freedom realized, namely the bonds or relations with the precise goods, from those of the family or the inter-personal, from those of the excluded and the marginalized to those of the common good, and finally to God.

With fundamental beliefs such as these, one cannot be remotely considered a champion of a free society. Freedom is the individual right to to think and ack on one’s own judgement. Freedom is individualism! Notice the straw man that Francis relies on—the false equation of individualism with antisocial—the aggressive lone wolf who achieves his ends without regard to any other human being.

Earlier in the speech, Francis speaks a lot about “fraternity.” Merriam-Webster defines fraternity as “a group of people associated or formally organized for a common purpose, interest, or pleasure.” There is nothing about individualism that forbids fraternity. In fact, a true individualist values fraternity. Individualism, properly understood, is the concept of each human thinking and acting on his own judgement while respecting the same freedom of others, dealing with others only on voluntary, mutually agreed terms. So, what is Francis implying? Francis condemns the “deceit” that “only the individual . . . gives value to things and to inter-personal relations and, therefore, it is only the individual that decides what thing is good and what thing is bad.” Since only individuals exist, and the mind is strictly an individual facet, how else would these things be decided?

Here is the connection between collectivism and religion. If the individual, working either alone or in voluntary association with others, cannot decide for himself, then who decides? Collectivists and religionists both answer, anyone who claims to speak for “the common good” or God, respectively. Francis’ idea of fraternity is not each individual deciding for himself who to fraternize with. His idea forbids voluntary association. His idea of “fraternity” is the fraternity of a chain gang governed by an authority endowed with unconstrained coercive powers.

As Francis makes clear, to him and the Church's position, there is no real distinction between collectivism and religion—which makes sense, since both collectivism and supernaturalism are both forms of mysticism. Collectivists simply replace God with society as the ultimate authority, with the state as the authority’s enforcer. Francis dispenses with that superficial distinction, saying essentially that the common good is God’s will. Socialism and Catholicism—and by logical extension monotheistic religion generally—are thus bridged.

And how is the common good or God’s will to be enforced? At the point of a governmental gun, whether wielded by a dictator, cleric, or king operating by “divine right” of the collective or God, whichever suits the tyrant. What is the enemy of this point of view? Individualism—and thus individual rights—and its social/political expression, capitalism, which by definition limits government to rights-protecting functions.

Some apologists, such as Reason’s Stephanie Slade, ascribe Francis’ collectivist tirade against the “radicalization of individualism” to ignorance of economics and free markets. I find that argument to be utterly incredible. Can it be that a scholar of the stature of a pope, speaking on behalf of an institution with roots dating back centuries, can actually be so ignorant? No. The Pope’s message is far deeper than economics.

Closer to the mark is Andrew Napolitano, who flat out describes Francis as a “communist, lower case ‘c’, and a Marxist, upper case ‘M’.” Interestingly, both Slade and Napolitano reference Ayn Rand—Slade rather derogatorily, and Napolitana supportively. But neither goes to the fundamental heart of the matter that Rand identified as crucial to defending capitalism, the moral case. Francis is attacking capitalism and peddling collectivism on fundamental moral grounds.

Napolitano seems to comes close, declaring himself a believer in “Ayn Rand economics,” saying that “the only moral commercial transactions are those that are truly and wholly voluntary.” But he fails to establish what’s really moral about voluntary commercial transactions—that they are moral because they are mutually selfish. He later affirms his belief in the Church’s position that “I am my brother’s keeper and that I should help my brother out.” The “am” and the “should” are the leitmotifs of altruism—the moral commandment to live for others. This contradicts the moral case for voluntary free trade. Rational egoism, altruism’s antipode, rejects the “am” and the “should,” instead upholding the morality of living (and trading) for one’s own sake.

On the issue of “helping my brother out,” Ayn Rand succinctly nails down the fundamental issue:

Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.

Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime.

My emphasis is in blue. Napolitano declares, on the Church’s morality, “I accept that and I embrace it, as long as I am free to accept it and embrace it; as long as I am not forced to do it through the mechanism of government.” But it’s not just a matter of whether you should or should not be forced. It’s a matter of whether you are morally obligated. Government policy is a reflection of the dominant morals of a culture. Capitalism says, “Yes, you do have the right to exist.” Socialism says, “no, you do not.” If you are morally obligated, then socialism wins where it counts most—on the battleground of moral principles.

Here we see where Napolitano is much more damaging than Slade. He grants the pope the position of final authority on ethics. “The pope is the vicar of Christ on Earth. He is infallible on faith and morals. Thank God it is limited to faith and morals.” But is it? He argues that the pope should not use the “imprimatur” of the Church to wade into economics and government’s role in it, as he is now doing.

I do not believe you can separate morals from economics or politics. Think of what Napolitano is essentially saying: The pope is infallible on morals. If that is so, then when Francis rails against egoism, materialism, economic inequality, and individualism; in favor of global redistribution of wealth and the coercive reorganization of the production process along statist lines; that need supersedes rights; and rails against “a global economic dictatorship [free markets]” and the“international imperialism of money [free trade]”—when, in other words, he attacks capitalism and promotes communism and Marxism—the aura of the moral high ground attaches, by definition and by the very fact of his moral infallibility. This means Marxian communism, the social/political expressions of the mandatory “brothers’ keeper” morality, are the right—the moral—social systems. He who controls the moral direction of cultures controls the economic/political direction. When capitalism’s defenders grant capitalism’s enemies the moral high ground, the enemy wins, even in defiance of sound economics. Ayn Rand understood this. The pope understands this. Bernie Sanders understands this. It’s time capitalism’s defenders understood this.

The Pope is right that capitalism is not altruistic. Napolitano's position amounts to a manifestation of the failed argument that capitalism isn’t moral, but it works; socialism is moral but it doesn’t work; so we should embrace capitalism—Individualistic capitalism, in other words, is the best means to achieve the collectivist moral goals of socialism. It makes no sense. This is the very argument that has never worked to stem the socialist/collectivist tide now overwhelming capitalism/individualism. If capitalism is the system of living for one’s own sake, and socialism is the system of living for others—and if the former is wrong and the latter is right—which system can be logically expected to win, and keep on winning until capitalism is completely destroyed? The pope knows the answer to this question. Neither Slade nor Napolitano knows it, or perhaps has the courage to acknowledge it.

Both Slade and Napolitano are right to invoke Any Rand in the context of Francis’ message. Who else but Rand can the Pope have in mind? Indeed, Pope Francis’ phraseology, the “invasion” of the “radicalization of individualism in libertarian terms,” strongly indicates that he has Ayn Rand in mind as the enemy that poses “grave risks” to the altruist/collectivist paradigm. Neither will acknowledge that what Ayn Rand called “The Virtue of Selfishness” is the moral foundation of capitalism and that that is what makes capitalism right, and that the notion of “our brothers’ keeper” as the standard of morality is the antithesis of capitalism.

Francis is not economically illiterate. He is a moral crusader. He is defending the morality of altruism from the inroads of rational egoism—and thus collectivism and statism from individualism and capitalism. Francis’ convoluted message is just another attack on capitalism and another call for authoritarianism, if not totalitarianism—the only end that can be achieved by the morality of “my brothers’ keeper.”

Despite the depressing spectacle of such a highly influential a figure as Pope Francis taking aim at the core of a free society, I take heart from Francis’ direct assault on radical libertarian individualism. That such a prominent leader of statism like the Pope feels compelled to explicitly and publicly throw the weight of the Catholic Church against individualism is, I believe, an indication of the anti-capitalists’ growing alarm about a movement they now believe has reached a point of cultural influence that must be taken very seriously. The Pope and other statist leaders understand the logical political/social/economic implications of morality, and must deal with an opposing intellectual force that understands it, too—an intellectual force that started with Ayn Rand. That, not economic ignorance, is why this prominent communist and Marxist has effectively declared war on individualism.

Related Reading:

How the Catholic Church Paved the Way for the Birth Control Mandate.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Florio’s Misleading Take on Insurance and Pre-Existing Conditions

Recently, former New Jersey governor James Florio critiqued a key element in the Republican AHCa plan to revise ObamaCare. The GOP would replace ObamaCare’s individual and pre-existing condition mandates with a separate state-level insurance pool for people with pre-existing conditions. Republicans say that, by separating the small percentage of pre-existing conditions from the rest of the insurance market, general insurance rates will fall substantially.

But Florio observes that NJ has already tried this so-called “assigned risk” pool in its auto insurance market, and argues that the approach failed and was eventually done away with.

That’s all debatable. But what caught my eye was the following statement from his article, which is titled Gov. Florio: GOP's high-risk insurance pools makes same mistake as 'bad driver' scheme:

The deficiency in these devices is that they are not insurance. The concept of insurance is the sharing and spreading of risk. The high-risk pool is about insurers avoiding risk -- the off-loading of risk onto someone else.

In the current case, it would be taxpayers.

I think it’s very important to understand what insurance is and is not. Socialized medicine-oriented statists always attempt to frame an issue in socialist/collectivist terms. In my view, that’s what Florio is doing here in his critique of Republicans. Florio also endorses so-called “essential benefits” mandates, which is a way of redistributing wealth through “sharing and spreading of risk.”

I offered my view in these comments:

This is highly misleading.

First of all, risk-sharing is not the essential purpose. I don’t buy car or homeowners insurance to subsidize others. I buy it for personal financial protection. The primary purpose of insurance is as a financial tool for protecting against unforeseen, catastrophic future expenses. Insurance enables a consumer to arrange for such payments in the event one happens. That’s what my premiums pay for—not a chance to dump the cost of my risk on others. Insurance, properly understood, is a personal financial planning tool, not a gimmick to escape from the personal moral obligation to be responsible for one’s own health care. For insurance to work, insurers must be free to objectively assess risk and charge each customer accordingly, in a competitive environment (which, thanks to legal restrictions, we don’t now have).

Insurance is not for the purpose of redistributing wealth. Florio says assigned risk pools “offload” risk to taxpayers. But ObamaCare does the same thing, in different form. It “offloads risk” on all others through artificially higher premiums on health insurance, as well as through taxpayer subsidies to insurance companies, to subsidize “pre-existing conditions” and other mandates that enable some people to escape higher premiums based on the higher risk they pose or the choices they make.

If the GOP plan is wrong, so is ObamaCare. So is any scheme that is essentially forced wealth redistribution. Whether we’re talking about the ACA and the AHCA, which uses “private” companies, or single payer, which bypasses the private sector, we’re not talking about real insurance. We’re talking about forced “sharing and spreading of risk,” a fancy word for forced redistribution of wealth—which is legalized theft and thus fundamentally immoral and contrary to the proper purpose of government, which is to protect individual rights, including rights to spend our own money as we judge best.

It’s funny that Florio should accuse Republicans of getting people "priced out of the market” in the same breath that he endorses government-mandated “essential services, like maternal care” being forced on insurers and consumers. It is such mandates that substantially drives up the general cost of health insurance—thus making insurance unaffordable for many more people. Neither the federal nor state governments have any moral right to dictate health insurance policy provisions, aside from laws that forbid fraud, breach-of-contract, and the like. Thanks to decades of government interference, we’ve arrived at the ultimate absurdity—”unaffordable” health insurance, at 18%+ of GDP, and at a substantial cost to our freedom and individual rights in healthcare!

Related Reading:

Real vs. Our Pseudo Health Insurance