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 […]
I hit a nerve whenever I write about voting and democracy.
Point out the sheer lunacy of the civic religion and a certain group of readers will blow their stacks, sending back long emails stuffed with long words, calling me things like “intellectually vacuous” and insisting I’m full of “self-aggrandizement.”
Such is the case with an email from Laissez Faire Today reader B.R., who says he doesn’t normally like to start his criticisms with name-calling but believes the idea of not voting is “so astounding” that it “requires an equally strong tactic to stop its momentum in its tracks.”
I hate to break it to B.R., but the nonvoting train left the station a long time ago. For the last 50 years, 40-50% of eligible voters have chosen to stay home on presidential Election Days. President Obama’s campaign in 2008 actually pumped life into the election process.
However, since the promised changes never occurred, Americans will likely stay home on Nov. 6. We can only hope. Meanwhile, globally, Wikipedia reports that voter turnout has decreased five percentage points over the past four decades.
BR then proceeds to school me on “the four basic types of government power acquisition.” So BR’s assumption is that government must acquire power. Individual sovereignty is out of the question. He says that government power is inherited, bestowed, seized, or chosen.
Therefore, since I’m not for choosing, I, according to BR, “must be in favor of despotism and tyranny. This is where logic must take us.”
B.R. is assuming that since we have elections in the U.S., we don’t have tyranny or despotism. I would contend that we have both. The tyranny of the majority has elected despots at every level of government from the local school board to the president of the United States.
Why is that? Democracy itself is the problem. It attracts the wrong people to leadership positions. As F.A. Hayek famously argued in The Road to Serfdom, in politics, the worst get on top, and he outlined three reasons this is so. First, Hayek makes the point that people of higher intelligence have different tastes and views. So, as Hayek writes, “We have to descend to the regions of lower moral and intellectual standards where the more primitive instincts prevail,” to have uniformity of opinion.
Second, those on top must “gain the support of the docile and gullible,” who are ready to accept whatever values and ideology are drummed into them. Totalitarians depend upon those who are guided by their passions and emotions, rather than critical thinking.
Finally, leaders don’t promote a positive agenda, but a negative one of hating an enemy and envy of the wealthy. To appeal to the masses, leaders preach an “us” against “them” program.
“Advancement within a totalitarian group or party depends largely on a willingness to do immoral things,” Hayek explains. “The principle that the end justifies the means, which in individualist ethics is regarded as the denial of all morals, in collectivist ethics becomes necessarily the supreme rule.”
Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” has something to do with it. Maslow’s hierarchy is taught in most business management classes and is depicted as a pyramid.
Maslow’s view was that the basic human needs — thirst, hunger, breathing — must be satisfied before humans can accomplish or worry about anything else. The next level of the pyramid is the need for safety. After satisfying thirst and hunger, humans are concerned about their continued survival. If a man is constantly worried about being eaten by a tiger, he doesn’t concern himself with much else.
Once other needs are satisfied, according to Maslow, humans seek the belonging and esteem needs. These first four needs are considered deficit needs. If a person is lacking, there is a motivation to fill that need. Once the particular need is filled, the motivation abates.
This makes these needs different from the need at the top of Maslow’s pyramid, the need for self-actualization. The need for self-actualization is never satisfied, and Maslow referred to it as a being need.
Maslow believed only 2% of humans become self-actualized. That means many are stuck a step or more below seeking actualization.
Maslow described lower and higher esteem needs. And while the higher form of esteem calls for healthy attributes such as freedom, independence, confidence, and achievement, the lower form “is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, fame, glory, recognition, attention, reputation, appreciation, dignity, even dominance.”
Most psychological problems manifest themselves in this lower esteem area. We see these qualities displayed by virtually all politicians in democracy: the constant need for status and recognition. The ends — compensating for an inferiority complex — justify whatever Machiavellian means.
So while B.R. thinks democracy is so hot, the fact that democracy is open to any and all who can get themselves elected either through connections, personality, or personal wealth means it is a social system where leadership positions become a hotbed for sociopaths.
B.R. doesn’t sound like he’s too wild about inherited power — monarchies — but as Hans Hoppe points out in The Great Fiction, governments that will stay in the family have much more incentive not to steal from their citizens, as opposed to short-term caretakers in a democracy that have every incentive to take as much as they can in the short time that they will be in power.
B.R. contends that it is axiomatic that “All you need to do is convince a majority of the voters to agree with you and your position or candidate.”
The problem is that democracy promotes the opposite of freedom. As Hoppe explains:
“One-man-one-vote combined with ‘free entry’ into government democracy implies that every person and his personal property comes within reach of and is up for grabs by everyone else. A ‘tragedy of the commons’ is created. It can be expected that majorities of ‘have-nots’ will relentlessly try to enrich themselves at the expense of minorities of ‘haves.’”
One assumes B.R. is a productive person who believes that he can influence other productive people into joining his cause and electing the right politicians who will enact the right (or get rid of the wrong) laws. History, I’m afraid has just flat proved B.R. wrong.
In a recent interview, Hoppe — the author of The Great Fiction: Property, Economy, Society, and the Politics of Decline, which can be yours free, along with so much more, if you become a member of the Laissez Faire Club — explained:
“It is democracy that is causally responsible for the fatal conditions afflicting us now. The number of productive people is constantly decreasing, and the number of people parasitically consuming the income and wealth of this dwindling number of productive people is increasing steadily. This can’t work in the long run.”
Finally, B.R. accuses me of triangulation. That I’m setting myself up to be “above it all.” My no vote message make me feel better, “but it’s, in fact, harmful,” he writes. “If the ‘good’ among us refrain from participating, then only the ‘corrupt’ will participate and, by default, own government.”
However, in the words of Sy Leon, “A choice between the politicians is not a choice — it is a surrender.” It is a surrender to the idea that these empty suits we elect actually run the government day to day. That a vote for this one or that one will prompt change in Washington or your nearest state capital or city hall.
No matter who wins, the government gets elected. The millions of government employees will wake up on Nov. 7 and trudge off to their assigned work areas. They will march to the beat of their bureaucratic drummer — just like any other day. They will do all they can to spend their budgets, keep their jobs, and convince elected officials they are important. They never go away. The elected politicians and their political appointees are transitory decorations; the real structures of the nation-state are permanent and constitute the core of what is called “the state.”
The idea that you can change all this by spending a few quality minutes making your enlightened choices in a voting booth is complete fantasy. There comes a time in a person’s life when they should face the facts and stop believing in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and change through politics.
H.L. Mencken wrote, “The average American legislator is not only an ass, but also an oblique, sinister, depraved, and knavish fellow.”
This is not company you want to keep or endorse. To do so makes you even worse.