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.
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.
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 […]
“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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
The exercise had an awesome name, inspired by the movies: “Quantum Dawn 2.”On July 18, scads of U.S. banks, stock exchanges and government agencies took part in a digital fire drill — a practice run in the event all of Wall Street came under massive cyberattack.This isn’t the first time banks have come under an […]
The faces of the Detroit bankruptcy are the thousands of pensioners whose promised benefits are suddenly part of the restructure negotiation. When Motown filed for Chapter 9 last July, the city had $11.5 billion in unsecured liabilities. The vast majority of this was pension and health care benefits owed to retired city employees.The images of […]
So you’ve maneuvered the Obamacare website, plugged in your top-secret information and found out how much you are forced to pay to avoid a fine.And for some of you, it turns out you qualify for a government subsidy — making the premium sound like a bargain. But signing on that line to accept the government’s […]
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”As the inequality gap grows, there is an ideological battle unfolding in the West.On the one hand, there are those who think government can fix things. It must do more, tax more, […]
On Feb. 7 the United States will once again reach its statutory debt limit, meaning it cannot legally borrow any more money. Since the obvious option of cutting spending to match the amount of revenue that the government collects is off the table for some inexplicable reason, Congress will have to pass a new, higher […]
The New York Times published an interminable article on health care recently. Plenty of facts — how scrupulous are these journalists! — but the article displayed absolutely no comprehension of the basics of cause and effect. I was left wondering about the whole point.The article details how the health care system rewards specialists to an […]
For critics of the surveillance state, it is tempting to see President Obama’s speech a few weeks ago as a partial victory: Prompted by Edward Snowden’s leaks and the public pressure for National Security Agency reforms, he announced significant changes to the program that collects and stores information about all telephone calls. And he promised […]
It is at times useful to imagine how a truly laissez-faire society, one entirely emancipated from the shackles of state coercion, might exist and operate. Morris and Linda Tannehill examine this very idea in The Market for Liberty: Is Government Really Necessary?
The Market for Liberty imagines a totally free society: one with no government intrusion whatsoever, one in which the free market is left to respond to the demands of individuals, without recourse to institutionalized coercion — implied or actual. Is such a stateless existence even possible, much less preferable? Or, as so many contend, is it merely an academically contrived utopia?
Morris and Linda Tannehill address all the usual fears and protestations that a truly nongovernmental — i.e., anarchist society — conjures up.
Whenever there arises in conversation the mere suggestion of a totally free, laissez-faire market, the possibility that human beings might even be able to survive (much less thrive) without the safety net of state control, apologists for “benevolent government” invariably step atop their soapboxes and ask, Yes, but who will provide education for the masses, if not the public schools? or Who will care for the sick and weak, if not the public hospitals?
Indeed, these are questions that deserve thoughtful, honest answers. But these questions assume realities that are not in evidence.
They suppose that “the public” (i.e., the state) actually has money to “provide” these services, rather than, as is actually the case, first having to expropriate (steal) it from private, productive individuals. Furthermore, the fallacy of benign governmental control relies on the idea that governments can provide essential services more reliably and cost-effectively than the private sector.
In other words, the government’s obligation to provide essential services is more reliable and effective than the private sector’s opportunity to provide essential services. Admittedly, this debate does not lend itself to easy black-and-white conclusions. But as the Tannehill’s argue persuasively, the free market provides solutions that governments would never dream of.
“The big advantage of any action of the free market,” contend the Tannehills,
is that errors and injustices are self-correcting. Because competition creates a need for excellence on the part of each business, a free-market institution must correct its errors in order to survive. Government, on the other hand, survives not by excellence, but by coercion; so an error or flaw in a governmental institution can (and usually will) perpetuate itself almost indefinitely, with its errors being “corrected” by further errors. Private enterprise must, therefore, always be superior to government in any field.
(It is worth mentioning here that corporations acting in collusion with the state are not private enterprises as the Tannehill’s define them. They are simply entities that have co-opted the government’s “gun for hire” to do their dirty work for them. Think Wall Street “bailout” recipients and their army of D.C. lobbyists. Indeed, think any institution at all that seeks unfair protection or promotion from the state.)
The lines on the battlefield between the comfort of state control and the liberty of anarchy are familiar to all. The state is a protector, one side argues. The state is a prison guard, the other side argues.
- How, the statist is heard to question, might common disputes find resolution without the currently preferred monopoly of the state’s courts?
- What about private monopolies that would ruthlessly jack up prices and bleed us working-class proletarians to death?
- By what means might a laissez-faire society offer protection from foreign aggressors?
- How might the personal liberties underpinning the whole system be protected if it were not for the tireless work of the state’s police and its myriad other law-enforcement agencies?
- Indeed, the statist continues, how would “the law” itself even come into being, and in what shape would it find application, in the absence of the all-knowing, all-powerful state?
The Tannehills address these anxieties thoroughly and logically. “Freedom is not only as moral as governmental slavery is immoral,” they write, “it is as practical as government is impractical.”
Discussions criticizing the state’s myriad shortcomings and follies are many. The Tannehills’ Market for Liberty takes the extra step in providing viable, concrete solutions to state-sponsored dilemmas. The free market, they argue, can correct the state’s tendency toward costly excesses, and can do so peacefully and voluntarily, simply by following price signals from the market itself.
The Market for Liberty is, for all intents and purposes, a very real, practical solution set to those most commonly presented excuses for acquiescing to governmental authority. The government is not merely a “necessary evil,” the Tannehills argue. “It is necessarily evil.”
Of course, The Market for Liberty does not project a utopia in which acts of violence simply disappear and where every individual immediately sets off on a long road to perfection. Rather, the authors illustrate how individuals acting in their own self-interest, coming together to engage in mutually beneficial exchanges, are thus incentivized to act with honesty and integrity.
“The history of governments always has been, and always will be, written in blood, fire and tears,” the Tannehills assert. In The Market for Liberty, they show how freedom is not only an alternative to the state, but a far superior one worth, at the very least, our immediate and undivided attention.