The New Clarion

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Healthcare Is Not a Right

By Galileo Blogs · February 6th, 2010 6:57 am · Comments Off

Healthcare is not a right. It is a good and service to be bought voluntarily from willing providers, like anything else. Do I tell my barber that a haircut is my right, and then force him to provide me with the haircut of my choice at the price that I dictate to him? That is what socialized medicine does to doctors.

If it is my right to that haircut, what has happened to the right of the barber to offer his service on terms agreeable to him? And if his rights are violated — if he is reduced to the status of an unwilling servant — imagine how lousy my haircuts will look, as he rushes them along to provide them at the price set by government.

Now consider that this same scenario plays out right now with a far more vital service, one upon which all of our lives depend. Today about 50% of medical costs are paid for by the government under terms set by government. We have 50%-socialized medicine in the United States. The problems we have are due to this high level of socialism that already exists.

The solution is not to drink the whole bottle of poison and condemn all of us, doctors and their patients, to life-shortening medical “care” by rights-less doctors and their disgruntled, sick patients.

The solution is freedom. It has never really been tried. Abolish government funding of medical care. Eliminate the rules that bind insurance companies and doctors from offering the care that customers want. Respect the rights of doctors and their patients to freely contract with each other for medical services.

Healthcare is not a right, and our lives depend on acknowledging this fact.

Say “no” to any scheme to further entrench socialized medicine.

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Originally posted here on a website that is soliciting solutions for the problems in healthcare. Register your vote.

The Nobel Committee’s Wishful Thinking

By Galileo Blogs · October 9th, 2009 5:12 am · 5 Comments

I thought it was a joke in The Onion this morning when I read the headline, “Obama Wins 2009 Peace Prize.” For what? He has been in office for nine months and before that was a one-term United States senator. What could he have possibly accomplished so soon that merits such an award?

The answer is: nothing.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “It is an award that speaks to the promise of President Obama’s message of hope.” So, the President got the award for the promise of his message, but no actual accomplishment.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy said that the award confirmed, “America’s return to the hearts of the people of the world.” How is that?

The answer comes from a member of the Nobel committee that awarded the prize, who said, “His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”

A plurality, perhaps even a majority of the world’s population, despises the values that America has stood for, the fundamental value of an individual’s right to his own life, and all that it implies: property rights, the right to the pursuit of happiness… capitalism. The Nobel Committee is acknowledging their fervent wish that Obama will stand for those angry masses, whose values are antithetical to America. And by doing that, America will be “loved” instead of hated.

The Nobel Committee has given this prize to Obama as a moral downpayment, an advance recognition, if you will, of future “accomplishments” they expect him to make.

Let’s hope that Obama does not live up to their wishful thinking.

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I almost did not write this commentary because the Nobel Peace Prize, in fact, merits no respect and its award is therefore hardly noteworthy. It is more of a booby prize than an honest recognition of something good. Among its recent past recipients are Yasser Arafat and Jimmy Carter, a terrorist and the American president who passively acquiesced to terrorism. For the current award, the Nobel Committee apparently passed over a Chinese dissident, among many other honorable and dishonorable nominees. This “prize” has nothing to do with peace, and everything to do with advancing the cause of statism and destroying the values that America stood for. A man of proper integrity would have rejected it.

Stealing the Commanding Heights

By Galileo Blogs · October 7th, 2009 4:26 pm · 6 Comments

The Federal Reserve recently announced that it would establish rules governing the pay of employees at essentially all bank and financial corporations in the United States. This goes well beyond just targeting CEOs at banks who received federal bailout money last year. According to the New York Times, the proposed rules would apply to 5,000 bank holding companies and state-chartered banks. And it would apply to traders, loan officers and other employees, not just top bank executives.

Ostensibly, the purpose of the rules is to reduce “systemic risk.” Allegedly, by having government regulators determine the pay of bankers, those bankers will no longer have the incentive to make risky loans to individuals and corporations.

Such a policy evades the fundamental cause of that risky behavior, namely government policies that fostered artificially cheap credit and mandated risky loans. The Fed itself is the author of these policies. It flooded the economy with cheap credit and 1% interest rates in 2003-2004, which fed the orgy of subprime borrowing. The Fed also enforced the Community Reinvestment Act that forced bankers to meet quantitative targets of loans to uncreditworthy borrowers. Moreover, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored enterprises, guaranteed mortgages against default, thus ensuring that bankers would have no incentive to monitor credit risk.

The government’s subsidies, guarantees against default, and promiscuously cheap credit created an atmosphere in which private bankers were rewarded for taking excessive risks, and made to look like suckers if they prudently restrained themselves.

Yet the government blames the bankers for this mess and now wants to control their pay.

Over the past year we have seen Barney Frank (October 2008) call for a moratorium on Wall Street bonuses and President Obama (February 2009) call for limiting the bonuses of CEOs to $500,000. At the time, I warned that when government arrogates such a power to itself, do not assume that it will be confined to a few Wall Street executives. Now we see the Fed claim for itself the power to control the pay of tens of thousands of employees at every banking institution across the land.

Government fostered the financial crisis by violating the rights of private citizens through its reckless policy of subsidy and cheap credit. Now it proposes to “solve” the problem by further violating rights, including the right of employer and employee to voluntarily agree on the terms of employment.

The end game of this dangerous grab for power should be obvious. The government will not stop until it has taken complete control of the commanding heights of the economy. And it has already largely succeeded. With its progressive takeover of banking, government is now assuming control of the most important sector of the economy. The banks are fundamental in economic importance because their lending and capital raising decisions directly affect the growth of all other industries. Now the government, through its control of banking, will decide whether a particular company or industry is to receive credit, and succeed or fail.

Do not doubt that the government will use this power. Recently, for example, the Wall Street Journal reported that former Vice President Al Gore used his influence to steer two $500 million federal loans to cronies planning to make expensive “environmentally friendly” cars. Imagine what Al Gore or others will be able to do when the Fed controls the salaries of thousands of private bankers. To whom will they be able to direct loans, and for what type of quid pro quo?

Statist governments operate under a rule. They always seek to control the commanding heights of the economy. Statists know that if they control the key industry upon which all others depend, they can control all industries. Our government is seizing the commanding heights of our economy right before our eyes.

The Human Face of Socialized Medicine

By Galileo Blogs · June 15th, 2009 10:07 am · 7 Comments

Some weeks ago a reader of my blog, Galileo Blogs, posted the story of his father-in-law, who received treatment under Canada’s system of socialized medicine. With his permission, I reproduce his story below. As President Obama this week begins his congressional push for further socializing medicine in America, consider the story of his father-in-law, and think about what socialized medicine will mean for you. Consider the “human face of socialized medicine.” My response to him follows his story.

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“I was born in Canada and have taken Canada’s socialized health care system for granted all my life that it was good – until we needed it.

My father in law, a Filipino immigrant, wasn’t feeling well so we took him in for a check up. We waited for a few more months until the testing could be arranged, and then more waiting since there were, “complications.” He had a lung cancer and we would have to wait for “6 to 8 months” before scheduling treatment.

I think he knew he was going to die and took charge. After a few months of constantly coughing, we tried to pester the doctors to speed up the waiting time. He tried his own remedies to alleviate his worsening condition like drinking Ginger soup but he could delay no longer. He and his wife decided to go back to the Philippines for treatment. The doctors there had immediately started treating him with radiation but it was already too late. He had developed a fast growing form of lung cancer and died a few weeks later.

The doctors seemed concerned but wouldn’t change the waiting times due to limited available machines and Canada’s administrative central control in this field.

The fact the Canadian health care system pretends to be based on equality hides the fact it is a socialist experiment that destroys human life and can never be sufficient enough to heal life when needed. The carrot in Canada’s healthcare system is the so called “affordability for everyone” promise, but it is an inherently bad way to go due to its built in socialization. Lives are constantly lost. Ted Harlson (Toronto, Canada)”

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Galileo Blogs’ response to Mr. Harlson:

Your story saddened and angered me. It is criminal that your father-in-law had to die because of socialized medicine.

Socialized medicine harms everyone, doctors, patients, and their families. It is deadly to human health, as your story illustrates. Socialized medicine kills.

The alternative is to recognize that doctors have the right to freely charge for their services, just as patients have the right to freely select their doctors. No one has a “right” to medical care. That care must be paid for, and when government is the payer, it means rationing care and killing off the “excess” patients that “the system” cannot afford.

No one worries about there being a shortage of cars. People do not wait in line to buy cars, clothing, or houses. That is because those markets are largely free. Each party voluntarily deals with the other. The result is an abundance of these goods willingly bought and sold in the marketplace, at times and in quantities, and at quality levels that both parties mutually and voluntarily agree on.

Recall the long lines in the Soviet Union for bread, shoes, and toilet paper. That was because their entire economy was socialized. Those Soviet-style lines have now come to medical care, because it too has become socialized in Canada and, soon I fear, the United States. Your father-in-law died waiting in one of those lines.

Please take your grief and fight back by denouncing this injustice, as you have by sharing your story.

Please accept my condolences and best wishes.

The Europeans Punish Success, Again

By Galileo Blogs · May 13th, 2009 2:51 am · 9 Comments

The European antitrust regulator has just announced it will fine Intel Corporation $1.44 billion (1.06 billion euros) because it “harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for computer chips for many years.” It did this, essentially, by discounting the price it sold chips to stores that agreed to sell computers containing them in bulk through exclusive agreements.

We’ve been down this path before. The railroads that served Standard Oil charged him a lower rate because Rockefeller could guarantee large, steady shipments of oil, which the railroads could ship more cheaply. For providing the railroads with product in a way that reduced their costs, and being charged less for providing that, Rockefeller was prosecuted.

In the same manner, a retail store that can guarantee large, steady sales of computers containing Intel chips is more valuable to Intel than a store that buys some of its chips and some of its competitor’s chips. Intel can afford to provide a discount.

Those never-to-be-denied European customers benefit from this by getting cheaper Intel chips, yet they were supposedly harmed according to the European antitrust commissioner.

But also evaded by the European antitrust commissioner is that a market for computer chips would not exist at all if Intel did not invent, develop, and constantly innovate the chips that become the brains of computers. Because of Intel’s work, each year the chips are faster and smarter. Each computer sold with those chips can do more — faster processing of material from the Internet, simultaneous handling of video and audio, and numerous other tasks — because of the relentless intellectual effort of Intel’s scientists and engineers.

That is part of what the never-to-be-denied European consumers and all others who buy Intel chips are getting.

To steal $1.44 billion from Intel is to demand that these scientists and engineers work for free. It is to steal the fruit of their effort, which we all benefit from by voluntarily buying their products that they create. As their property created by their minds, they have the right to set the terms under which we gladly buy these products, which we buy because of the great benefits they offer us.

Into all this steps the punishing European antitrust commissioner. She violates Intel’s property rights and the rights of Intel’s customers to do business with Intel on mutually agreed-upon terms. And by so doing, she ensures that Intel has $1.44 billion less in which to reward the efforts of those scientists and engineers who create the marvelous Intel chips.

If our computers are a little slower than they could be and our freedoms more diminished, thank Neelie Kroes, the European antitrust commissioner, and the legions of apologist economists who rationalize the pernicious doctrine of antitrust that gives her this power.

New York Tea Party

By Galileo Blogs · April 16th, 2009 4:48 pm · 40 Comments

I joined thousands of other protesters yesterday at the “Tea Party” protest at City Hall Park in downtown New York. My sign read on one side, “Reason & Capitalism. No Creeping Socialism!” On the other, it read, “Ayn Rand Is Right.” I saw many signs referring to Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand. One Objectivist joined me with his sign that read, “Who Is John Galt?”

We found a strategic spot right alongside Broadway. Many busloads and carloads of commuters got to see “Ayn Rand Is Right” and “Who Is John Galt?” on their way home from work. One person asked us who John Galt was. We told him that if he wants to understand what is wrong with the world and what should be done about it, read Atlas Shrugged. He said he would.

I was pleased overall by the event. It was remarkably secular. There were few references to God and the conservative Republicans only showed themselves in a tentative manner. (I think they know how responsible the Bush-era Big Government and Religious Right Republicans are for the crisis we’re in.)

Overall, the impression I had was one of a true grassroots protest. People were angry at the violation of our rights. People expressed it in terms of outrage over spending and taxation.

The speakers weren’t very good overall, but they were sincere and angry.

This is the first protest I have ever gone to. I have always thought that the battle of ideas is won through conventionally intellectual pursuits: writing and teaching.

But there is a time to speak out in the form of a protest. This was one of those times.

I hope we see more Tea Parties.

Thank you, Rick “Sam Adams” Santelli for issuing the clarion call that was heard around the country.

Smiling Daggers

By Galileo Blogs · February 11th, 2009 7:54 am · 5 Comments

Paul Hsieh has an interesting commentary on President Obama’s embrace of something called “libertarian paternalism.” Obama appointed Cass Sunstein, who authored this concept, as a senior regulatory official in his administration. The concept says that government should “nudge” us with coercive measures to do “good things” such as eating better foods, saving for retirement, encouraging our children to do their homework, etc.

The nudges involve handing back our tax money to us in the form of credits or deductions, or even paying us for performance, again using the tax money already taken from us. The “nudge” may also be more direct, such as New York City’s ban on the use of trans fats in restaurants.

All of this is for our “good.” But who determines this good? Answer: Cass Sunstein or sundry other regulatory officials who make it their life’s work determining what is good for me, or even President Obama himself. Accepted in this premise is that the judgment of these individuals must forcefully supplant my own judgment about my own life. I am not permitted to make my own decisions on topics that these officials have determined are worthy of their attention.

These nudges come at the expense of my personal liberty. A society where people are nudged about is one where individual rights are absent. That is the society we are being nudged to accept.

As Mr. Sunstein and his cohort of regulators, led by the regulator-in-chief, President Obama, prescribe and proscribe in the minutest detail how we are to live our lives, don’t be fooled by confusing phrases such as “libertarian paternalism,” or by the broad smile of President Obama as he appoints Mr. Sunstein to take on his duties. “Libertarian” is seemingly based on “liberty”; “paternalism” derives from the Latin word for “father.” There is nothing “fatherly” in government ordering adult Americans about; we are not children. Moreover, liberty cannot exist where government is telling us what to do. These terms are meant to confuse. In such confusion, government power is rationalized and expanded. It is a tactic that has been used by dictators throughout history.

In George Orwell’s fictional 1984, the dictator “Big Brother” said, “Freedom is slavery.” In the same oxymoronic manner, “Liberty is paternalism.”

Don’t be fooled.

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Posted from Galileo Blogs.

Heroes of Capitalism

By Galileo Blogs · December 30th, 2008 7:37 am · 1 Comment

I enjoy many good blogs. However, I want to draw attention to a great new one I discovered, “Heroes of Capitalism.” Each day this blog features a businessman who improved our lives. Actually, the last part of that sentence is redundant because a successful businessman in a capitalist economy always improves our lives by creating goods that we value and purchase from him in trade.

The businessmen cited so far range from the well-known (Henry Ford and Steve Jobs) to the obscure (James Wright and Peter Hodgson, developers of “Silly Putty”), but all of them are benefactors to man. We can all thank them and have already done so, simply by purchasing and using their products, but this website goes further by publicly acknowledging their achievements.

Men like this need to be recognized. They are the “human face” of capitalism, the social system that frees them, and all of us, to produce. If I stop to think about it, nearly every second of my life I am using one of their products and my life has been made healthier, happier, longer, and full of great enjoyable things as a result.

Thank you, businessmen, and thank you to the producers of “Heroes of Capitalism” for bringing their good work to the attention of the world.