PoliticalAction.com: Political Action Committee Homepage

Archive for July, 2009

Less Government, More Sense

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Individual rights. Economic freedom. Increased competition and productivity. These talking points are often foundational to the rhetoric of small government advocates. There are, however, plenty of supporting arguments that don’t achieve nearly the amount of exposure as these more traditional persuasions.

One such point sprouts from trends in human behavior as identified through social scientific research. Now, the problem with social scientific research, as noted by the Austrian School of Economics, is that it is impossible to hold all variables constant when dealing with human beings, and therefore truly controlled experiments cannot exist. For this reason, Austrians refute Positivist, research-based assumptions about human behavior, and instead draw from the concept of Praxeology, a more philosophically based assumption which notes that every conscious action is intended to improve the actor’s satisfaction.

While the empirical study of human behavior may not adequately serve to make De Facto claims, that is not to say that such research is of no use. Indeed, when evaluated in light of Praxeology, such findings can aid in the ability to forecast generally, though not as a matter of fact. This alignment of Praxeology and Positivism can serve as a powerful persuasive device for members of either school of thought.

In 1986 Richard Petty and John Cacioppo developed a theory based on social scientific research known as the Elaboration Likelihood Model. ELM posits the existence of an “elaboration continuum”, suggesting that people will be more or less likely to elaborate on their thoughts during a decision making process depending on the circumstances. The opposite ends of this elaboration progression yield corresponding levels of thought processing which can be identified as Central Route and Peripheral Route.

Central Route Processing requires intensive thought and scrutiny. It is more likely to occur when the decision maker has increased motivation or ability. Peripheral Route Processing is less cognitively intensive, and relies more on superficial judgments. Conversely, this is more likely to occur when the decision maker has less motivation or ability. One of the determining factors of a subject’s motivation is their involvement with the issue at hand, also referred to as perceived relevance.

Various studies have given credence to the claim that when a subject has higher perceived relevance to an issue, their motivation is increased, and they are more likely to employ Central Route Processing. Less perceived relevance lends itself to decreased motivation, likely resulting in Peripheral Route Processing.

These claims emerging from Positivist studies are coincidentally compatible with the Praxeological view that decisions are made on an ordinal basis, identifying that the conscious mind is capable of only one decision at a time. Based on this understanding, it is sensible to believe that individuals will put less effort into decisions that are less relevant, because realistic time constraints prohibit intensive and comprehensive evaluations of all given circumstances.

The implications of these assumptions have far reaching potential in the political realm. Government intervention throughout society removes the relevance of decision making from the individual, and therefore is likely to invoke a less logically aware voting constituency in regards to various societal issues. Advocates of big government often cite the inadequacy of the population to manage their own affairs, and as a result call for the necessity of a “big brother” to forcibly “protect people from themselves”.

Regardless of one’s philosophical approach to understanding human behavior, the evidence forecasts plainly against the value of big government. While it may be true that a majority of the population in today’s society wields a less than logical understanding of politically infused issues, the reason for this may not result from a natural incapacity, but from a lacking motivation given the systematic loss of individual relevance. As this loss of relevance is incurred at a more substantial rate, so too is the loss of motivation for the logical assessment of government managed issues. The resulting consequence is a voting constituency who is inclined to make superficial judgments when electing political representatives, because of a lack of motivation to scrutinize important societal affairs.

This trend of lost relevance is not healthy for the development of society. When fewer people are logically assessing the most important issues of our time, it follows that the resulting consensus will be less adequately able to respond to these issues because the free exchange of ideas will be less prolific.

Just another reason why less government makes more sense.

You’re Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It’s Not So!

Friday, July 24th, 2009

The man that brought you Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone is now america’s food safety czar.

The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history has just been made the US food safety czar. This is no joke.

Here’s the back story.

When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply — the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods — secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried “serious health hazards,” and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply.

But the biotech industry had rigged the game so that neither science nor scientists would stand in their way. They had placed their own man in charge of FDA policy and he wasn’t going to be swayed by feeble arguments related to food safety. No, he was going to do what corporations had done for decades to get past these types of pesky concerns. He was going to lie.

Dangerous Food Safety Lies

When the FDA was constructing their GMO policy in 1991-2, their scientists were clear that gene-sliced foods were significantly different and could lead to “different risks” than conventional foods. But official policy declared the opposite, claiming that the FDA knew nothing of significant differences, and declared GMOs substantially equivalent.

This fiction became the rationale for allowing GM foods on the market without any required safety studies whatsoever! The determination of whether GM foods were safe to eat was placed entirely in the hands of the companies that made them — companies like Monsanto, which told us that the PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange were safe.

GMOs were rushed onto our plates in 1996. Over the next nine years, multiple chronic illnesses in the US nearly doubled — from 7% to 13%. Allergy-related emergency room visits doubled between 1997 and 2002 while food allergies, especially among children, skyrocketed. We also witnessed a dramatic rise in asthma, autism, obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, and certain cancers.

In January of this year, Dr. P. M. Bhargava, one of the world’s top biologists, told me that after reviewing 600 scientific journals, he concluded that the GM foods in the US are largely responsible for the increase in many serious diseases.

In May, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine concluded that animal studies have demonstrated a causal relationship between GM foods and infertility, accelerated aging, dysfunctional insulin regulation, changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system, and immune problems such as asthma, allergies, and inflammation

In July, a report by eight international experts determined that the flimsy and superficial evaluations of GMOs by both regulators and GM companies “systematically overlook the side effects” and significantly underestimate “the initial signs of diseases like cancer and diseases of the hormonal, immune, nervous and reproductive systems, among others.”

The Fox Guarding the Chickens

If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto’s attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto’s vice president and chief lobbyist.

This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America’s food safety czar. What have we done?

The Milk Man Cometh

While Taylor was at the FDA in the early 90’s, he also oversaw the policy regarding Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST) — injected into cows to increase milk supply.

The milk from injected cows has more pus, more antibiotics, more bovine growth hormone, and most importantly, more insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a huge risk factor for common cancers and its high levels in this drugged milk is why so many medical organizations and hospitals have taken stands against rbGH. A former Monsanto scientist told me that when three of his Monsanto colleagues evaluated rbGH safety and discovered the elevated IGF-1 levels, even they refused to drink any more milk — unless it was organic and therefore untreated.

Government scientists from Canada evaluated the FDA’s approval of rbGH and concluded that it was a dangerous facade. The drug was banned in Canada, as well as Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. But it was approved in the US while Michael Taylor was in charge. His drugged milk might have caused a significant rise in US cancer rates. Additional published evidence also implicates rbGH in the high rate of fraternal twins in the US.

Taylor also determined that milk from injected cows did not require any special labeling. And as a gift to his future employer Monsanto, he wrote a white paper suggesting that if companies ever had the audacity to label their products as not using rbGH, they should also include a disclaimer stating that according to the FDA, there is no difference between milk from treated and untreated cows.

Taylor’s disclaimer was also a lie. Monsanto’s own studies and FDA scientists officially acknowledged differences in the drugged milk. No matter. Monsanto used Taylor’s white paper as the basis to successfully sue dairies that labeled their products as rbGH-free.

Will Monsanto’s Wolff Also Guard the Chickens?

As consumers learned that rbGH was dangerous, they refused to buy the milk. To keep their customers, a tidal wave of companies has publicly committed to not use the drug and to label their products as such. Monsanto tried unsuccessfully to convince the FDA and FTC to make it illegal for dairies to make rbGH-free claims, so they went to their special friend in Pennsylvania — Dennis Wolff. As state secretary of agriculture, Wolff unilaterally declared that labeling products rbGH-free was illegal, and that all such labels must be removed from shelves statewide. This would, of course, eliminate the label from all national brands, as they couldn’t afford to create separate packaging for just one state.

Fortunately, consumer demand forced Pennsylvania’s Governor Ed Rendell to step in and stop Wolff’s madness. But Rendell allowed Wolff to take a compromised position that now requires rbGH-free claims to also be accompanied by Taylor’s FDA disclaimer on the package.

President Obama is considering Dennis Wolff for the top food safety post at the USDA. Yikes!

Rumor has it that the reason why Pennsylvania’s governor is supporting Wolff’s appointment is to get him out of the state — after he “screwed up so badly” with the rbGH decision. Oh great, governor. Thanks.

Ohio Governor Gets Taylor-itus

Ohio not only followed Pennsylvania’s lead by requiring Taylor’s FDA disclaimer on packaging, they went a step further. They declared that dairies must place that disclaimer on the same panel where rbGH-free claims are made, and even dictated the font size. This would force national brands to re-design their labels and may ultimately dissuade them from making rbGH-free claims at all. The Organic Trade Association and the International Dairy Foods Association filed a lawsuit against Ohio. Although they lost the first court battle, upon appeal, the judge ordered a mediation session that takes place today. Thousands of Ohio citizens have flooded Governor Strickland’s office with urgent requests to withdraw the states anti-consumer labeling requirements.

Perhaps the governor has an ulterior motive for pushing his new rules. If he goes ahead with his labeling plans, he might end up with a top appointment in the Obama administration.

To hear what America is saying about GMOs and to add your voice, go to our new non-GMO Facebook Group.

Jeffrey M. Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods from Chelsea Green Publishing. Smith worked at a GMO detection laboratory, founded the Institute for Responsible Technology, and currently lives in Iowa-surrounded by genetically modified corn and soybeans. For more information, visit Chelsea Green.

Your Healthcare At Stake

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Fellow Concerned American,

Take Action! In the Hippocratic Oath I took to become a physician, the phrase “… I will keep [my patients] from harm and injustice…” remains dear to me; not only as a Physician, but now as a Member of Congress.

I have devoted my life to keeping my patients healthy and safe, and now I apply those same principles to my constituents in Georgia’s 6th District. With that said, the Democrats’ current plan in the U.S. House is detrimental to America’s well being.

Even the President wouldn’t get on board with his own plan. According to ABC News “Health Care Forum”, a doctor in the audience asked the President if he would pledge not to seek extraordinary help if his wife or kids became sick and their treatment and tests fell outside of the Public Plan offered. He refused to make such a pledge…

Under Government-Run HealthCare, Democrats would place Washington in between you and your physician. And by the sound of it, the President doesn’t even trust his own party to make such decisions on behalf of his family; so why should you?

As you heard last week from Leader Boehner, the Democratic plan is led by interest groups rather than physicians, and we must not stand for this!

Our Republican Alternative places an emphasis on two issues:

First — we agree that we must make healthcare coverage affordable for all Americans. We are working hard to create a level of coverage that makes financial sense for all Americans to be insured without government intrusion or mandates. And we plan on doing this through fundamental reform of the tax code.

Second — that coverage should be owned and controlled by those most affected by the system – patients! By placing the power in the hands of patients and their doctors, not federal bureaucrats, we will enjoy the innovation, responsiveness, accountability, and flexibility that would surely go unseen in the Democratic Plan.

Won’t you please join me in educating the public about how dangerous the passage of this plan really would be? Please take the time to call your Congressman and encourage him or her to vote ‘NO’ on the Democrat plan and not rush into another trillion dollar boondoggle.

I commit to you that I will do my very best to educate my colleagues in Congress and challenge them to prevent any harm or injustice that would make your healing more difficult, just as I would want for my patients.


Tom Price, M.D.

P.S. In addition to calling your Member of Congress to tell them to oppose Government-Run Healthcare, let them know about your ideas on how to fix our healthcare system. I would also encourage you to share your thoughts with others via a letter to the editor, discussion boards, social networks or simply by word of mouth. The more people learn about the Democrats’ plan to take-over your healthcare, the more likely they are to oppose it – and support positive changes.

A Doc Drops Out

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Doctor Alan Dappen wasn’t going to take it any more. So he got out.

Eight years ago, he decided that his office would no longer accept Medicare payments. Why? As he tells his patients, “We can’t afford to.” Medicare won’t pay for consultations by phone or email, won’t cover the full cost of a house call, and “barely pays for an office visit.”

Then there’s the regulatory burden. Dappen can’t understand a lot of the regulations. Further, as far as he can tell the folks enforcing them don’t understand many of them either. Yet the bureaucrats can audit a doctor’s paperwork and impose huge fines based on these unclear regs.

Medicare-mired physicians would be more effective if only they didn’t have to worry about complying with arbitrary regulatory dictates all the time. These rules make it harder for doctors to do their jobs. So Dr. Dappen took the risky but more satisfying path of operating in an unhampered market. And, of course, he invited his patients to join him.

Today, in the name of mandatory universal health coverage, the Obama administration wants even more restrictions on medical freedom. Shouldn’t we consider the consequences on the decision-making ability of doctors and patients of current coercive micromanagement when assessing the viability of yet newer coercive schemes?

Dr. Dappen figures he is better off with freedom. You and I are too.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

The Difference Between Rights and Privileges

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

This originally appeared in Michael Badnarik’s book, “Good To Be King.”

Rights vs. Privileges

The most important concept in this book is the difference between rights and privileges. For that reason, this chapter can be downloaded from my web site at no charge, and may be reproduced and distributed without written permission, as long as it is copied intact and without modification. A right is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “a power, privilege, faculty, or demand, inherent in one person and incident upon another … the powers of free action.” Please note that rights are “inherent” in a person. This means that it is physically impossible for rights to be extracted from a person by any means. Imagine a brick made of lead. The first thing that will cross your mind is that this object will be heavy. Extremely high density or weight is an inherent quality of lead. If an object isn’t heavy, you can be certain that it’s not made of lead. You cannot put a lead brick into a vacuum and “suck out the heavy.” You cannot put a lead brick into a microwave and zap it until it becomes light and fluffy. The quality of being heavy is one of the distinguishing attributes of lead.

Now recall some of the dreams that you’ve had. You can’t put the unpleasant ones into a bag and bury them in the back yard. You can share your dreams with others, but you don’t have to worry that someone will steal them from you when you’re not looking. Your dreams are an inherent part of who you are. No one can extract your dreams from you. The same thing is true about your rights. When you die, your dreams will die with you. If someone kills you, they will deprive you of life, but they can never deprive you of your right to life.

I define a right as something you can do without asking for permission. The opposite of a right, therefore, is something you cannot do without asking for permission. Any time you need permission to do something it is a privilege. Black’s Law Dictionary defines this as “a particular and peculiar benefit or advantage enjoyed by a person, company, or class, beyond the common advantages of other citizens. An exceptional or extraordinary power or exemption.” Rights and privileges are opposites. I have three corollaries to the definition of rights. They are:
• All rights are derived from property;
• Every right implies a responsibility; and
• The only limitation on your rights is the equal rights of others.

Let me demonstrate the principle behind my first corollary with an example. Suppose I walk out of my house onto my land. I can walk back and forth, back and forth, across my land anytime I want without asking anyone’s permission. Walking across my land is a right. Now suppose I want to walk to the store located on the other side of your land. Can I walk back and forth across your land anytime I want to? Certainly not. Not without your permission. It is a privilege to walk across your land. Assuming that we’ve been neighbors for a while, it is possible that your response would be, “Sure you can take the shortcut, Mike. What are friends for?” So on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I walk to the store making my way across your land. Let us now assume that something unpleasant happens to you. You misplace a winning lottery ticket, or your significant other leaves you for your best friend. You wake up Thursday morning in a terrible mood, looking for an opportunity to vent your frustrations. As I begin to make my way across your land you shout, “Hey, mister! Walk around! That’s what fences are for!” The important concept here is that privileges are granted, and they can be revoked at any time for any reason. Once again, rights and privileges are opposites.

Property! This is the one-word answer to any question regarding the Constitution. Any time there is a dispute about rights, the argument can be settled by determining who owns the property in question. Prior to the American Revolution, a man born into the proper family was thought to possess all of the land in England, and he claimed all rights as well. The king could bestow privileges on the people he favored and, being the king, he could revoke those privileges at any time. He could also have a person sentenced to death for any action he found insulting. All his power came from his ownership of property. When Christopher Columbus marched out of the water onto a beach in North America, he immediately proclaimed ownership of the entire continent for Queen Isabella of Spain. Subsequent settlers would each declare ownership of the land for the royalty they felt they owed allegiance to. The king’s power and prestige was directly related to how much land he possessed—which explains why human history consists almost exclusively of continuous warfare.

The Declaration of Independence states “they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” This statement refutes the idea that only the king had any rights. Instead of accepting privileges controlled by a human king, we claim the same rights that every king has ever claimed. We consider this to be “self-evident” now, but it was necessary for us to defend this idea by fighting a bloody revolution that ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The significance of this treaty was to transfer ownership of the land from the king to the people in America. Hence, the American Revolution was ultimately about the right to own property. The ownership of property is the most important distinction between freedom and tyranny. This idea is so important that John Adams, the twelfth president (right after George Washington) wrote: “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.” Regardless of your religious views, I think it can be safely said that anything as sacred as the law of God would hold considerable weight in any argument. Unfortunately, not everyone in America holds property is such high regard. Most of our problems in the United States can be traced to a blatant disregard for private property. Examine the quote of another American president, Theodore Roosevelt: “Every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it.”

If I own a piece of property, I control what happens to it. If the community has the “right” to regulate my property whenever it wishes, then I do not truly own the property. I am merely occupying it through the generous will of the majority. Both statements cannot be true at the same time. This is a very simple concept understood by every two-year-old. Every two year-old has two favorite words. Both are attempts to express their will over their environment. The first word is “no!” which is the equivalent of a royal veto—an attempt to forbid mother from doing something we don’t approve of. This statement is rarely a successful veto, but it is uttered with the same assumption of autonomy as any king who ever lived. Their other favorite word is “mine!” frequently shouted with a presumption of unquestioned authority, regardless of the item being claimed. The child claims ownership of any item they wish to have control over. They already understand that if it is “mine!” then I am the one who will determine what happens to the item. In other words, “I have the right to do what I want with it.” Of course children have an incomplete understanding of property, having a much more difficult time with the concept of “yours.” Parents spend countless hours trying to teach their offspring not to touch other children’s toys unless they are given permission. The problem does not go away in later years, either. Siblings sharing the same room will often draw a line down the center of the room to establish “ownership” and control over a given area and the property that it contains. Adults assume that they have a much better understanding of property than children do, but that is not necessarily the case. Americans do not legally own property in the manner that they believe they do, because they do not exercise autonomous control over their property. What would happen if you erected a derrick in your backyard and started drilling for oil? Would you be surprised if the county sheriff drove up and asked to see your permit? In order to drill for oil you must own the property under “allodial title.” Unfortunately, if you pay property taxes, then you do not own your property to the degree that you thought you did.

It may surprise many of you to learn that the federal government claims ownership of much of the land in each of the states, especially in the western states. Much of the rest is claimed by the states themselves. This is clearly an important topic, unfortunately not one that I have time to explore rigorously here.

You probably don’t own your car the way you think you do. If I give you a “gift certificate,” do you have the gift, or just a piece of paper that represents that gift? When you finish making payments on your auto loan, does the bank send you the “title” to the car, or simply a “certificate of title”? The certificate of title is a piece of paper that only represents the title of the car. Each car that is manufactured has an MCO, or “manufacturer’s certificate of origin,” that is the true title for the car. Because most cars are purchased on a payment plan, the dealer sends the MCO to the state agency that controls the registration of vehicles. The MCO is microfilmed and then shredded to make it much more difficult for you to obtain the actual title. If you are able to pay cash for your car and you know enough to demand the MCO as part of the purchase agreement, it is possible for you to purchase an automobile and own it the way you currently believe that you own it.

Property may be an adequate source of rights for land, but what is the source of your right to life? Many will argue that your right to life comes from God, however that debate is outside the scope of this book. Whether divinely created or scientifically evolved, one thing that is indisputable is the fact that your body exists. It is also widely assumed, at least in the contemporary United States, that you own your own body. If someone else owns your body, then you are a slave. The institution of slavery was based on the premise that other humans were considered to be property, and thus could be bought and sold like any other commodity. That idea is loath to many of us now, however the Thirteenth Amendment prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude was not passed until December of 1865. You cannot successfully claim your right to life until those around you respect your body as property that you alone control. Even today the women in Middle-Eastern countries are treated as the property of men, and children are still sold into slavery around the world.

The second corollary on the subject of rights is the fact that every right implies a responsibility. Rights and responsibilities are as inseparable as the heads and tails of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. I have a right to wear a gun on my hip, but I also have the responsibility to make sure that no one is injured by it. Furthermore, carrying a gun does not give me a right to your property. I only have a right to my property, not to yours. Americans have grown weary of their responsibilities, and our government has been only too eager to relieve us of those burdens. When two people have a child, they have a responsibility to determine what the child will learn and what values it should adopt. Over the years parents have become complacent about that responsibility, turning it over to government schools that offer “one size fi ts all” education. Then parents have the audacity to wonder why their children haven’t adopted the values they would like them to have. Instead of planning for their future, our parents and grandparents allowed the Socialist Insecurity Administration to take money from their paycheck to create their retirement program. Today, everyone is concerned that Social Security doesn’t return enough money for basic subsistence, much less the money people need to enjoy their golden years. If people had retained that responsibility for themselves, placing their money in a simple savings account with 5 percent interest, they would easily have more money than they currently get from the government. By allowing the government to assume our responsibilities, we have gradually given away many of our rights.

My third corollary on the subject is that the only limitation on your rights is the equal rights of others. To put it another way, you only have the right to your property. You do not have the right to anyone else’s property. Many people believe that they have a right to health care. There is even a presidential candidate who recently suggested a constitutional amendment guaranteeing that right. A right to health care suggests that you should be able to walk into a doctor’s office and insist that she or he correct your illness for free, or for a significantly reduced cost. Would you be willing to do your job for free for anyone who steps in off the sidewalk? I sincerely doubt it. You’d be very busy—and very, very poor. Why should your doctor provide services for free after spending all the time and money required to graduate from medical school? “Don’t worry!” people tell me, “the government will pay the doctor’s salary.” Oh, really? And where does the government get the money to pay the doctor’s salary? From taxes, of course. But for every $100 the government takes from my wallet, they keep $50, the HMO keeps $25, and the doctor gets what’s left. Wouldn’t it be easier and far more efficient for you to walk into my house to take $100 out of my wallet yourself? You’d be able to pay for even better treatment than you’re getting right now. There is, of course, one small problem with that plan. I am a strong Second Amendment supporter. If you come into my house in an attempt to take money from my wallet, you will soon be going to the doctor for something far more serious than whatever you were suffering from in the first place. You should have learned this in grade school, but just in case you missed it, you do not have a right to other people’s property, not even when the government takes it away from them and gives it to you. That is the basis for socialism, and that is exactly what the Constitution is intended to prevent.

What if I don’t want health insurance?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

New York – I’m one of the nearly 50 million Americans who don’t have health insurance. I don’t want it, either.

But the bill the House of Representatives is debating would force me to buy it. How good can any product be if Congress compels me to purchase it?

Politicians and interest groups have been trying virtually all my life to foist medical insurance on me. But their proposals rest on mistaken and even insulting assumptions.

First, they presume that everyone wants, needs, and should have abundant medical attention. But I come from a long-lived and healthy family, I’ve been a vegetarian since childhood because I’ve never liked the way meat tastes, I don’t smoke, and I love to hike – the more miles the better.

I am disgustingly healthy, so much so that the only doctors I see – or try to: I’m near-sighted – are ophthalmologists. Could I be hit by a bus tomorrow when I head out for my daily walk? Possibly. But that’s such an unlikely disaster that I’ve chosen to spend my money on more personally pressing needs than medical insurance.

On the other hand, unlikely disasters do happen. So I might purchase catastrophic coverage if it were reasonably priced – just as I might visit doctors for lesser complaints if their care were reasonably priced.

But the government’s meddling is what helped mess-up the medical market to begin with.

The federal government perverts costs with its Medicare and Medicaid programs: Recipients of this largess have no incentive to save money since someone else pays their bills.

In fact, the incentives run the opposite way as patients demand more procedures and tests while magnifying problems I resolve out of my medicine cabinet into emergency-room runs. Doctors who get away with charging Medicare hundreds for diagnosing Grandpa’s indigestion would charge me the same.

Meanwhile, state governments shackle the insurance industry, mandating that policies cover everything from chiropractic care to hormone replacement. These launch premiums into the stratosphere. I’d much rather pick and choose the coverage I want at a price I’m willing to pay than buy the plan bureaucrats and special interests decree.

But the universal-healthcare crowd thinks it knows better than I do how to spend my money. Why can’t they leave me alone? I’m not forcing them to eat flaxseed and bike to meetings instead of hopping into their limousines. It’s time for them to return the favor.

Besides, if that bus does hit me tomorrow, I want – and will pay for – top-notch care. And that’s not what government-run medical systems dispense. Delays, expedient rather than proper treatment, and double standards of care depending on who you are and whom you know characterize universal-healthcare systems.

Which makes sense. We live in a world of finite resources and infinite desires, where medical care must be “rationed” like all other products and services.

Though we can’t choose whether goods are rationed, we can choose how they are. Either the politicians and bureaucrats who bring us long lines at DMVs, failing public schools, and the endless war in Iraq will decide who gets what kind of treatment, or the free market will.

Fans of universal healthcare deride the market: They say it’s cold and cruel because we each have to pay for the care we demand. But government healthcare can be far colder and crueler. Its care is inferior: Contrast an inferior, run-down veteran’s hospital with a general one. And it’s expensive. Dr. Jeffrey Anderson recently wrote in Investor’s Business Daily, “Since 1970 ­– even without the prescription drug benefit – Medicare’s costs have risen 34 percent more, per patient, than the combined costs of all health care in America apart from Medicare and Medicaid….”

Absent such meddling, the price of medical care would return to reasonable levels. It benefits no provider of any service to charge such astronomical fees that customers can’t afford to patronize him.

Then, too, in a market free of the state’s stranglehold, doctors and hospitals would compete with one another to lower prices and attract the ill or injured.

That doesn’t mean everyone could finally buy all the procedures they wanted or even needed – but that’s where private charity would come in. Humanitarians who send inner-city kids to summer camp and volunteer their time or money at soup kitchens would strive to ensure that needy Americans received medical care.

President Obama says, “We have no choice but to fix the healthcare system because right now it’s broken for too many Americans.” But the only fix we need is for government to get out of medicine.

Becky Akers is a freelance writer and historian.

Healthcare is a Good, Not a Right

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Texas Straight Talk – A weekly column
Rep. Ron Paul (R) – TX 14

Political philosopher Richard Weaver famously and correctly stated that ideas have consequences. Take for example ideas about rights versus goods. Natural law states that people have rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A good is something you work for and earn. It might be a need, like food, but more “goods” seem to be becoming “rights” in our culture, and this has troubling consequences. It might seem harmless enough to decide that people have a right to things like education, employment, housing or healthcare. But if we look a little further into the consequences, we can see that the workings of the community and economy are thrown wildly off balance when people accept those ideas.

First of all, other people must pay for things like healthcare. Those people have bills to pay and families to support, just as you do. If there is a “right” to healthcare, you must force the providers of those goods, or others, to serve you.

Obviously, if healthcare providers were suddenly considered outright slaves to healthcare consumers, our medical schools would quickly empty. As the government continues to convince us that healthcare is a right instead of a good, it also very generously agrees to step in as middle man. Politicians can be very good at making it sound as if healthcare will be free for everybody. Nothing could be further from the truth. The administration doesn’t want you to think too much about how hospitals will be funded, or how you will somehow get something for nothing in the healthcare arena. We are asked to just trust the politicians. Somehow it will all work out.

Universal Healthcare never quite works out the way the people are led to believe before implementing it. Citizens in countries with nationalized healthcare never would have accepted this system had they known upfront about the rationing of care and the long lines.
As bureaucrats take over medicine, costs go up and quality goes down because doctors spend more and more of their time on paperwork and less time helping patients. As costs skyrocket, as they always do when inefficient bureaucrats take the reins, government will need to confiscate more and more money from an already foundering economy to somehow pay the bills. As we have seen many times, the more money and power that government has, the more power it will abuse. The frightening aspect of all this is that cutting costs, which they will inevitably do, could very well mean denying vital services. And since participation will be mandatory, no legal alternatives will be available.

The government will be paying the bills, forcing doctors and hospitals to dance more and more to the government’s tune. Having to subject our health to this bureaucratic insanity and mismanagement is possibly the biggest danger we face. The great irony is that in turning the good of healthcare into a right, your life and liberty are put in jeopardy.

Instead of further removing healthcare from the market, we should return to a true free market in healthcare, one that empowers individuals, not bureaucrats, with control of healthcare dollars. My bill HR 1495 the Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Act provides tax credits and medical savings accounts designed to do just that.

Fed Independence or Fed Secrecy?

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Texas Straight Talk – A weekly column

Rep. Ron Paul (R) – TX 14

Last week I was very pleased that hearings were held on the independence of the Federal Reserve system. My bill HR 1207, known as the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, was discussed at length, as well as the general question of whether or not the Federal Reserve should continue to operate independently.

The public is demanding transparency in government like never before. A majority of the House has cosponsored HR 1207. Yet, Senator Jim DeMint’s heroic efforts to attach it to another piece of legislation elicited intense opposition by the Senate leadership.

The hearings on Capitol Hill provided us with a great deal of information about the types of arguments that will be levied against meaningful transparency and how the secretive central bankers will defend the status quo that is so beneficial to them.

Claims are made that auditing the Fed would compromise its independence. However, by independence, they really mean secrecy. The Fed clearly cherishes its vast power to create and spend trillions of dollars, diluting the value of every other dollar in circulation, making deals with other central banks, and bailing out cronies, all to the detriment of the taxpayer, and to the enrichment of themselves. I am happy to challenge this type of “independence”.

They claim the Fed is endowed with special intellectual abilities with which to control the market and that central bankers magically know what the market needs. We should just trust them. This is patently ridiculous. The market is a complex and intricate thing. No one knows what the market needs other than the market itself. It sends signals, such as prices, that should be reacted to and respected, not thwarted and controlled. Bankers are not all-knowing and cannot ignore the rules of supply and demand. They might act as if they are, but their manipulation of the market just ends up throwing it wildly off balance, which gives us the boom and bust cycles.

They claim the Fed must remain apolitical. No organization is apolitical that relies on the President to appoint the Chairman. In fact, it is subject to the worst sort of politics – power to create trillions of dollars and affect the value of every dollar in the country without the accountability of direct elections or meaningful oversight! The Fed typically enacts monetary policy that is favorable to particular administrations close to elections, to the detriment of long term considerations. They do this partly because of the political appointee process for the Chairmanship.

The only accountability the Federal Reserve has is ultimately to Congress, which granted its charter and can revoke it at any time. It is Congress’s constitutional duty to protect the value of the money, and they have abdicated this responsibility for far too long. This was the issue that got me involved in politics 35 years ago. It is very encouraging to finally see the issue getting some needed exposure and traction. It is regrettable that it took a crisis of this magnitude to get a serious debate on this issue.

A Call For the Overthrow of Obama’s “Czars”

Monday, July 13th, 2009

By Vision America , Restoring Christian Values – 3 Hours Ago

Originally, the word “czar” referred to an autocratic ruler with despotic powers – the very antithesis of democracy.

That’s the way Obama’s czars operate,” said Vision America President Rick Scarborough. “His czars are unelected and unaccountable. They have too much money and power, and are remaking America in ways none of us could have imagined.”

Scarborough noted that whereas most of his predecessors had one or two “czars,” President Obama has 34 and counting. Each is paid over $172,000 annually plus benefits and has a staff of 10 or more.

“Pay Czar” Kenneth Feinberg (who’s 31-years-old, drives a foreign car and has no executive experience) can set the pay of executives at any company that receives bailout money.

“Science Czar” John Holdren once supported compulsory population-control, including forced-abortion, to fight what’s termed over-population.

“Obama is afflicted by Czar-mania, “Scarborough said. “By appointing these czars, often with powers exceeding those of cabinet-level officials, the president has avoided the Senate confirmation process, as set forth in Article II, Section 2.”

In this regard, Scarborough shares the concerns of ranking Senate Democrat Robert Byrd, who also questions the constitutionality of whole the czar-ist system.

Scarborough noted that Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) has filed a bill requiring confirmation of Obama’s czars and withholding funding from their bureaucratic empires until that happens.

Vision America President Rick Scarborough is also the moderator of a growing STOP Obama Coalition, dedicated to maintaining Constitutional government.

How can the media ignore the fact…

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Anthony from Detroit writes:

How can the media (all) ignore the fact of the U.S. coming
off the “gold” standard ($35/oz)to a free rise or fall during Nixon era and President Reagan allowing the CEO’s, CFO’s, and Presidents of corporations to escape going to jail when they commit a crime and hide in the name of a corporation when the I.R.S. treats the corporation as an individual? If I committed the same crime as an individual, I’d go to jail.

Secondly, President Obama was handed a “Ponzi Scheme” with the $700.billion+ bail-out money, knowing full well the next President would have to continue his “rip-off of the American citizens OR print more money to cover the bad decisions of the major companies and corporations. This is a Ponzi scheme to pay out good money after bad when they knew the decisions were bad.

Nixon started this mess when we came off the gold standard and the
Republicans took advantage of the print more money to pay off bad or greedy debts.