As full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) approaches, every doctor, research professional, and health administrator I talk to tells me the same thing: Obamacare is going to reduce the quality of care and cost you more… in some cases, a lot more.
Economic theories don’t lend themselves to laboratory testing, so the work of a national appraisal firm is especially enlightening. A new study lends support to the Austrian business cycle theory, which says that the less government is involved, the faster a market will recover.
Can you imagine losing $119 billion in a single day? That might sound like an impossible amount of money to lose in any amount of time, but in the high-stakes world of startups, it really can happen in a day. And whenever there’s a “loser” in a zero-sum situation like this, there’s also a “winner.” The difference between the two? Vision.
This technology is not simply for modeling and prototyping, either. TV personality Jay Leno uses a 3-D printer to make custom and hard-to-find parts from scratch for his collection of classic cars. Entrepreneurs have been using these printers in a myriad of ways, and the trend is speeding up.
What positive steps can we take? The energy that is now expended by well intentioned, freedom-seeking individuals on the destructive course of politics can be turned into powerful steps that will have a positive effect on the future. All are moral, right and just. None require aggressing. Consider the following...
The Red-Carpet Treatment to Cutting Your State Tax Bill It doesn’t get talked about at the Oscars or on late-night talk shows, but something big has happened behind the scenes in Hollywood over the last 10 years. And it’s changed the way movies and TV shows are made. No, it isn’t the rise of 3-D […]
The first principle in dealing with government is: Don't be awed by it. What little the government achieves is almost always due to the voluntary participation of its citizens. Those who don't want to help the government can go their own ways without running into much trouble.
The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” says a proverb often attributed to Yogi Berra. Imagine the world of freedom, or lack of it. Who could foresee the technologies that make our lives so rewarding and convenient? The same technologies have us all under the government’s giant microscope. Thankfully, the brave have turned the microscope around.
“Como se dice… pinot grigio?” your humble club director managed to awkwardly muster. “Mee-ster Hill,” the friendly yet sheepish waitress replied, “it is the same in Spanish, pinot grigio.” “Perfect. We’re going to get along just fine.” My wife and I are hosting Laissez Faire’s first ever “Chill” Weekend at Rancho Santana, on the Pacific […]
In the months since Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the spying that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been perpetrating upon Americans and foreigners, some of the NSA's most troublesome behavior has not been a part of the public debate.
National Treasury Union President Colleen M. Kelly recently described the 2014 IRS budget allocation as “woefully inadequate.” But the agency has not proven itself to be an efficient steward of taxpayer dollars. Here are ten ways the IRS lost the trust of the American people.
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Given how poorly states like California and Illinois have funded the pension funds for their own employees, one would think that this would stop dead in its tracks any plan to have the government assist in managing private sector funds too. The spate of recent activity, however, suggests otherwise.
Save Big Money Without Jeopardizing Your Health Prescription drugs save lives. (They also cost lives, but that’s a story for another day.) Millions of people with cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and more depend on prescriptions to extend their lives in the face of disease. But that gets really expensive really fast. Is a hundred […]
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The problem for NSA apologist is that when guys like Snowden disclose that the government conducts comprehensive surveillance in ways that would have made 1984’s O’Brien drool, it puts the entire progressive agenda in jeopardy.
The east coast and parts of the southern U.S. were to varying degrees paralyzed by blizzards a few weeks ago. The snow as expected rendered the roads treacherous, and in anticipation of slick streets, shoppers flocked to the grocery stores in advance.The rush into grocery stores, and its aftermath, offers worthwhile lessons in economics.First up, […]
The financial world is plodding along like a drunken sailor avoiding debt collectors by keeping no cash in his wallet. It’s not the kind of calm that’s going to last or end well. But the storm will have to wait until after the Olympics.What a game! We’ve never watched ice hockey closely before. But watching […]
I bet you use online search engines from time to time. But have you ever bothered to read their privacy policies? If you’re not a legalese geek like me, the answer is probably somewhere between “Huh?” and “Heck no!” Aside from providing a cure for insomnia, website privacy policies can have a huge impact on […]
“When they come for my gun, they will have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands,” is a common refrain I often hear from the Neo-Cons when there is a threat, credible or otherwise, that the U.S. government is going to take their firearms.And, when I hear this crazy talk, I agree with […]
The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self-sufficient.But our systems of state charity — aka welfare — have too frequently had the opposite effect: They have actually created dependency. It is time to rethink the way we help people.I’m going to […]
In times of war and national emergency, it’s sometimes necessary to sacrifice civil liberties to secure vital gains in public safety. In those cases, we may have to accept a loss of privacy or freedom rather than invite mass slaughter of Americans.The National Security Agency’s domestic phone records collection is not one of those.Never have […]
Last year was quite the year for Bitcoin. We’ve seen exponential growth in Bitcoin’s exchange rate and extensive coverage in the media. Another phenomenon we have witnessed is the proliferation of alternative cryptocurrencies, five of which we’ve provided below.What all of these cryptocurrencies have in common is that they rely on a decentralized network to […]
Municipal bonds were flying high until 2007–08, when the collapse of the property markets caused widespread worry. Munis depend on state tax revenue, and with the economy in recession, sales and income taxes were in jeopardy. On top of that, the financial markets’ implosion meant pension and other investment funds of state and local governments […]
President Obama crowed in his State of the Union speech about the economy, even mentioning “a rebounding housing market.” Maybe he was referring to friends in high places, like the seller of Penthouse One in New York, which just closed for $50.9 million, all cash. Millions of mere-mortal homeowners likely wanted to throw something at […]
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is acting in a bipartisan way to cover up the biggest single threat to the bipartisan political alliance that is stripping America of its wealth: the United States Congress.There is no question that the following policy is bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are completely agreed that the following information […]
Recent difficulties with implementing the Affordable Care Act have increased opposition to the program. A majority of Americans now oppose it. Problems with the HealthCare.gov website are in all likelihood temporary. However, there are serious long-term problems, particularly considering long-term finance and labor supply issues. Given the mounting difficulties with and growing concerns about the […]
Amidst all the revelations about how the American people, many of whom are absolutely convinced they live in a free society, have their telephone calls, emails, website visits, and who knows what else under surveillance by their own government, let’s not forget the massive infringements on financial privacy that have gone on for decades.Consider, for […]
“The performance award payouts are in recognition of that great work done in very trying circumstances. I firmly believe that this investment in our employees will directly benefit taxpayers and the tax system.” — New IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on why he’s paying millions in bonuses to IRS employees. “We are going to have parents […]
Image: ShutterstockBitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem, along with alleged co-conspirator Robert Faiella, was arrested by federal authorities last week for allegedly laundering more than $1 million worth of Bitcoins. This is a tiny amount compared to the largest drug-and-terrorism money laundering case ever. Yet when British bank HSBC was found guilty in 2012 of laundering billions, […]
Do you trust your doctor? Most patients assume their doctor is working in their best medical interests whenever he or she orders a diagnostic test or recommends a particular treatment. Customers might wonder whether an unscrupulous auto mechanic is being truthful when he recommends a brake job or a new transmission. But most patients trust […]
On Monday September 10th at 8:00 ET, award-winning novelist and movie producer J.Neil Schulman will be available for Q&A at the Laissez Faire Books blog. His movie adaptation of his novel Alongside Night is currently shooting with Kevin Sorbo starring as Dr. Vreeland. SF author L.Neil Smith and graphic novelist Scott Bieser will be in attendance. You can purchase J.Neil’s book here. And check out the LFB Club while you are at it. The LFB Club is the fastest growing freedom community on the Internet.
Interview with J. Neil Schulman
Q: Your Prometheus Award winning novel “Alongside Night” has been called prophetic. Can you explain why?
J.Neil: Robert Heinlein said back in a speech he gave in the 1940’s that science fiction is not intended to be prophecy but it often is anyway. The truth is that if you look at contemporary trends and plug them into history you can figure out what’s likely to happen next under the principle that if you see someone jump out of a skyscraper it’s not a hard prediction to make about what happens when they hit the bottom.
In writing Alongside Night I applied the monetary principles Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard applied to the causes of hyperinflationary crises in France in 1793, Weimar Germany in 1923, and so forth. These are always major destabilizing events as people lose the ability to plan or save for the future because money won’t hold its buying power, an “end of the world” decadence sets in, and we get a society of spend-it-all-now grasshoppers and few stock-it-away-for-tomorrow ants. The decadence resulting from the German hyperinflation of the 20’s is well represented in the musical Cabaret … and the danger is, then as now, an iron-fisted “man on horseback” riding in to provide what everyone wants desperately: stability and predictability, even if its monstrously cruel and dictatorial.
Q: The novel paints a vivid picture of how an agorist society — that is, a true free market society — might function. How prominently does this figure into the movie?
J.Neil: It’s as central to the movie as it was to the novel. That’s the world in which my characters live.
Q: How closely does the movie follow the novel?
J.Neil: The flow through of the story is pretty much the same but a lot of the details had to be reworked to catch up with three decades of history. Also, movies tell stories differently than novels, and the story needed to be “weaponized.” One difference: in the new timeline of events taking place before we begin the story, New York City has become much more like Detroit and the Vreeland family has moved from New York to Las Vegas – the same move Murray Rothbard made in real life when he moved from teaching at New York Polytechnic to an endowed economics chair at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The story now takes place in and around Las Vegas. Some people have said to me, “But since Las Vegas is already decadent, how will anyone know the entire country has gone that way?” My answer is that Nevada’s western freedoms mean that Las Vegas is more resilent during a federal crisis than other American cities will be, so it makes sense that Dr. Vreeland would have thought of moving his family there. Plus, whoever thinks Chairman Bloomberg’s New York City is in any way less decadent and corrupt than Las Vegas is out of their minds.
Q: What is your favorite scene from the novel and movie?
J.Neil: I’d say it’s the pro-freedom rally where Elliot is almost captured by the feds who are looking for him. It’s great action.
Q: What is the most difficult aspect of the novel to translate on to film?
J.Neil: Film is a visual medium and that means words slow down the action. I have to find endlessly clever ways to put speeches and dialogue in the background while the action moves forward.
Q: Pushing aside economics, what is the main non-economic message or theme of your book and movie?
J.Neil: I suppose it’s about love. In the novel and the movie what’s driving Elliot Vreeland is his love of his missing father, mother, and sister, and his loyalty to his classmate and friend Phillip Gross.
Q: Dr. Martin Vreeland, played by Kevin Sorbo, is a wonderful character. Can you capture who he is in a sentence or two?
J.Neil: Dr. Vreeland is a mixture of the great 20th century free-market economists of both the Austrian and Chicago schools – Austrian, specifically, in his monetary theories. In the story he’s been awarded a Nobel Prize in economics for advising the EU to put their currency back on the gold standard, and in the movie the fiat Euro has been replaced by the gold-back Auro, which results in the salvation of Europe. So when the United States is going through the collapse of the fiat dollar, Europe – which collapsed first – is already on the road to recovery. This is the sequence of events I wrote in the novel three decades ago, and now we see Europe – in Spain, Greece, and Ireland – facing their monetary crisis before it reaches the shores of the U.S.
Q: What is it like to work with Kevin Sorbo?
J.Neil: Good time to ask that question since we just had our first shooting day with Kevin yesterday (Labor Day). Kevin is a consummate professional and that makes my job as writer/director easy. Just say action and he turns in a performance that brings the words I wrote to life. Aside from that, Kevin understands the principles behind the story. He’s economically and politically literate and comes out on the side of individual liberty.
Q: Do you believe the economic collapse depicted by Alongside Night is now inevitable?
J.Neil: It’s already history – as I just said – in Spain, Greece, Ireland – coming up fast in Italy. The United States is upside down with more government debt than gross domestic product. We’ve already had a collapse of the real-estate market, a leeching of manufacturing to outsourced markets, and everyday commodities like gasoline going up by half in price in a matter of weeks. Ron Paul was the last chance the United States had for a solution within the system and they tossed him out on his ear. So now nature will take its course and Alongside Night is now a pressing warning to be an ant rather than a grasshopper.
J.Neil: Widespread possession of individual private arms is the only defense individuals, families, and communities of neighbors have when the government goes lawless as it has done so often before, in Russia, Germany, China, Cuba, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum. Without this you get holocausts, and by any other name – concentration camps, gulags, relocation camps — the turning of a free society into a deadly and horrific prison where the guards are terrorists and the prisoners are dying.
Q: When will fans of “Alongside Night” be able to view the movie?
J.Neil: I’m aiming to have a film-festival cut by July 2013. I expect to have our first teaser trailer, featuring Kevin Sorbo, and produced by Austin Petersen, out by the end of September – just a few weeks from now.
Thank you J.Neil. We’ll see you right here on Monday, September 10 at 8:00 ET