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    Responding to well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning liberals

    08/12/2009

    Thanks to those of you who took the time to comment on my selection of quotes…thanks even to those people whose comments were infantile, moronic, or attempts at personal insult. I’d like to respond to a few. I would have written back sooner, but I took the family away for a long weekend and promised the wife I’d stay away from the computer.

    So, here goes, in the order that your (selected) comments were posted:

    To “Dob Bixoff”: Calling me “selfish” is like throwing Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch. Have you ever heard of Ayn Rand’s “The Virtue of Selfishness” (which you must read to understand)? Well, my son’s middle name is Rand, so you can imagine how pleased I am to be called selfish in the context of a political discussion. (For more info, see THIS LINK.)

    But more seriously, in what way is your definition of “unselfish” morally superior to whatever selfishness you are gleaning from my writing? How did “unselfish” policies like “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” work out for Russia, Cuba, Cambodia, etc? Furthermore, do you drive a car or heat your home? If so, is it from “unselfishness” that the people who started and now continue energy producing companies have provided you with energy you need to survive but could under no circumstance provide for yourself? I could ask you the same about the food you bought at the supermarket recently or the clothes you’re wearing.

    As Adam Smith put it, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

    Your “spoilt children” analogy is particularly inapt. In political policy debates these days, we’re talking about government taking the hard-earned proceeds of people’s labor. That has extremely dangerous potential consequences, far worse than what apparently happened when someone took your shovel in the sandbox…clearly you’re still scarred by you mother’s admonitions to share.

    To Anonymous: I agree with “Publius Snerdly” that the VA is arguably constitutional, though some libertarians would disagree with me. Regarding public schools, most liberals find my view unsatisfactory (which does not displease me): I’m against them for a few reasons: First, they’re obviously failing the people who need them most, i.e. the lower income levels of American society who desperately need a decent education to better their standards of living. That’s no surprise given that government enterprises tend to turn into union enterprises and union enterprises are not about quality of product. Second, I think government schools stifle individualism and promote reverence for “society” and government, which I think is bad for the students and the nation. That said, it’s not one of the first battles I’d pick. Far more important is that there is obviously no FEDERAL authority in education. No Child Left Behind is clearly unconstitutional as is the entire department of Education (and most other cabinet departments.) Snerdly has the right answer on fire departments as well: A reasonable function of government, but not the federal government.

    In general, liberals need to get a much better understanding of the difference between classical liberalism (something like libertarianism) and anarchism. They are NOT the same thing. I, and as far as I know everyone at FreedomWorks, believes there are legitimate functions of government but that government in general and the federal government in particular do far more than they should.

    To DanD: Government in general should only be involved in things that people basically can’t do for themselves or where government has such a massive advantage that people shouldn’t do for themselves (though this last is a slippery slope which one must be careful approaching.) More specifically, the Federal government should only do those things which the Constitution says it should do, the most important of which is national security. Liberals too often assume that if government doesn’t do something then it won’t get done. However, that’s almost always a terrible assumption. More often than not, government crowds out the same actions by individuals and organizations by taking on projects that it should not, costing taxpayers more money than the same project would cost if done by private enterprise, and often subjecting the people to ongoing taxation which becomes the plaything of the next elected official. Your question about “whether it is good for the people or not” is a standard liberal question…to me it’s an irrelevant question. The Federal government should only do what it is authorized to do, not what you or someone else thinks is “good”. After all, what if you and I absolutely disagree on what is “good for the people”? You ask about he point of government. That’s obviously a very big question. However, he point of the federal government can be found here: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/help/constRedir.html

    To “Anonymous”: First, the 45 million number is a lie, and not just because of the illegal aliens. The number of chronically, unwillingly uninsured is probably under ¼ of that number. The health care system is a drag on the economy because it is set up in a way which separates the cost of receiving care from the benefits of receiving care. In other words, people overuse the health care system because they don’t care how many $10 copayments they have to make. Furthermore, the system is non-competitive because we can’t buy across state lines. How many people do you hear constantly complaining about their car insurance? Very few. It’s a very competitive business with companies fighting across the country for your business. That needs to be possible with health insurance. Also, the implication of your comment is that government-run health care would be less of a drag on the economy. However, there is no evidence to support that implication and plenty of evidence to dispute it.

    My vision of the health care system (and I do NOT speak for FreedomWorks” is one where there is true competition among plans (i.e. access by lots of plans to people, not just access the way it’s usually spoken about of people to a couple of plans) and where people bear a little more of the cost of seeing doctors and having tests. Although Medicare Part D (the prescription drug benefit) is unconstitutional and already has a larger unfunded liability than the entire Social Security system, it is worth noting that the plan has come in somewhat under the expected costs – incredibly unusual for a government program – because it has built-in competitive aspects (which Democrats opposed) which use free-market forces to keep costs down. Beneficiaries (except for those with very low income) generally have a deductible and have to pay co-pays for medicines. Particularly remarkable (again, I note that the Dems opposed this) is that there are over 1,800 plans available. The Wikipedia entry on Part D says that “The number of available plans varied by region. The lowest was 27 (Alaska) and the highest was 63 (Pennsylvania & West Virginia). This allows participants to choose a plan that best meets their individual needs.”

    So when you hear the Democrats saying that the “public option” is needed to promote competition, it’s a blatant lie. All that’s needed is a change of the law so that companies can compete nationwide. While it’s a topic for another day, have no doubt that the “public option” or even a “co-op” is a Trojan horse to eliminate private coverage. A government insurance plan can use the Treasury to collect money for it, giving it a huge advantage over private companies. The cost of collecting that money will be elsewhere in our tax bills, but on the surface it will let the government sell health insurance cheaper than most private companies. Again, the TRUE cost won’t be cheaper. Also, the government plan can run at or near a loss…and almost certainly will. This is in part because that’s just how government works and in part because the closer they can run to a loss, the lower the premiums they can charge and therefore drive private companies out of business – again, certainly the intention of Democrats. If you don’t believe it, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT4mV3R7vu4

    Also, don’t forget that the largest beneficiaries of health care “reform” as proposed by Democrats will be unions…and that’s why the Democratic leadership in Congress wants it so badly.

    And finally, there’s DanG, the typical leftist hack who can’t argue against a message so has to try to attack the messenger.

    First, Dan, here I am answering you even though you are, as my Russian friends used to say, an “oxygen thief.” Second, I do not work for FreedomWorks and am not paid to blog here. Third, of course, I give a s**t. If I didn’t I wouldn’t take the time responding to you and more worthy people.

    I’m not sure why you think I might be “OWNED by Health Care companies” since I’m self-employed as a financial markets trader and have no customers, no employer, no employees, and no reason to say anything I don’t believe. So, you know where you can shove that accusation.

    Next, do you think $12 billion in profit is a lot for the entire health insurance industry? I don’t know if your statistic is right, but that would amount to an annual profit of about $55 per insured American. WellPoint, one of the largest health insurance companies in America has a net profit margin of 4%. Cigna’s is 3.2%. Unitedhealth is 4.14%. Do you want to be in that business? You should thank their lucky stars they’re willing to provide you health insurance at such low profitability. Would you invest a million dollars in a business that after tax returned only $30,000 or $40,000 to you (annually)? I doubt it. Who are you to say that making a billion dollars a year is “enough”? If you think it’s too much and you could offer the services at a lower profit margin, go start a business and try to compete. In the meantime, keep your grubby hands off my money. I earned it and I didn’t earn it to please you.

    I’m not here to defend “Wall Street executives”. I have no idea what that has to do with what we’re discussing here since health insurance companies (and most insurance companies generally) have very little to do with Wall Street in a direct way and do no operate like brokerage houses or investment banks. Again, a complete strawman from someone with no ideas of his own, no understanding of economics, and an instant disdain from anyone who doesn’t agree with him. In other words, a typical Obama-loving Democrat.