Obamacare

The Whole Foods Plan for Health Care Reform

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Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who is a donor to the Reason Foundation, takes to the Wall Street Journal to sketch out his eight-point plan for health care reform. Excerpt:

Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees' Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.

Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan's costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.

Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.

Many of Mackey's recommendations will be familiar to readers of Reason's past health care coverage, including Science Correspondent Ron Bailey's most recent manifesto.

As someone who h-a-t-e-s the health care system, I've never understood why de-linking insurance from employment isn't a central part of every serious crack at reform, given that a preponderance of analysts on all sides of the debate agree that the post-war linkage of health benefits to the workplace is one of the system's Original Sins.

To relate one of those "personal stories" Team Obama seems to value so highly, I left my previous job on a Friday, and started the new one on a Monday, with yards of paperwork filed in advance, in a desperate attempt to maintain my health coverage and not get sucked into a Cobra nightmare. The result? Something like six or seven weeks of…a Cobra nightmare! One that coincided with A) my wife discovering she was pregnant, and B) us moving across the country. I am still sorting through the paperwork and quintuply-filed bills on that fiasco, and the cost difference between what I paid for and what I would have paid fr had we maintained a portable, individualized plan (keep in mind that my current and previous employer use the same health care provider), was at least in the high four figures. Is that the "status quo" I want protected? Hell no, it's not.

And for those of you wiseacres who tell me it's my own damned fault for not shelling out coin for my own insurance, know this: California isn't exactly crawling with insurance companies offering people deals. Though I'm healthy, during my long-suffering freelance journalism career I was turned down for health insurance by both Kaiser and Blue Cross, and the one company that finally let me give them money refused to cover any childbirthin', then jacked up my premiums by more than 50 percent after Year 1. How much of that lack of competition is a result of individual state regulation and an inability to cross state lines? I don't know. But common sense suggests that such restrictions certainly don't produce more choice.

I would be open to supporting a reform package that treats individual existence on equal footing as full-time employment, while removing barriers to competition for those individual consumers. Health care security, and general availability, after all, are part of the core problems we're trying to solve here, right? Unfortunately, things don't seem to be headed in that direction.

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  1. The fact that deregulation isn’t on the table in DC shows that the goal is control, not creating the best possible healthcare for the U.S.

  2. As incremental reform, Mackey’s plan is far superior to any being bandied about by Our Masters. Who, as PL, notes, cannot conceive of doing anything that doesn’t increase their control over us.

  3. I, unfortunately, had the health care argument with coworkers at lunch yesterday. Big O was on the telly and that set it off.

    Evidently, health care is a right, the republicans do it too and since there are douchebags on the right, their entire argument is null and void. How can I be suspicious of end-of-life counseling. The gummint is only offering an “option.” Oh, and all the protesters are astroturfers from an organization. Good thing those anti-war protests weren’t organized….

    I REALLY need to stop talking politics at work.

  4. I also already forwarded this article to my esteemed lunch time colleagues.

  5. I wish he had defined “tort reform” a little bit better. Punitive damages should be capped pretty low unless malicious intent can be proven. I think it would also help if juries no longer decided damages. Maybe a panel of judges and medical professions.

  6. …all our team members…

    Damn, I fucking hate that. They are employees! You are Whole Foods Market, not Da Bears.

    Now, back to RTFA.

  7. But… libertarians oppose single-payer, therefore we MUST be for the status quo! Right? ‘Cause there’s only ever two options, right?

  8. Da Bears are just employees too.

  9. JW, i’ve run into a similar issue with my relatives. The other day i got called a right-winger at a family dinner for daring to criticize Big O and his shitty, shitty administration.

  10. I used to know somebody who was “trapped” in a job she hated by her employer’s health insurance. She was convinced (no doubt rightly) that if she switched jobs, nobody would cover her, because of pre-existing conditions.

    Even discounting heavily for melodrama, it sucks.

  11. hurr hurr Whole Paycheck hurr hurr

  12. “JW, i’ve run into a similar issue with my relatives. The other day i got called a right-winger at a family dinner for daring to criticize Big O and his shitty, shitty administration.”

    Welcome to my world X. Welcome to my world…

  13. But… libertarians oppose single-payer, therefore we MUST be for the status quo! Right? ‘Cause there’s only ever two options, right?

    I’ve had this same conversation with my mother, the borderline socialist. She had the hardest time grasping that being against Obama’s plan isn’t the same thing as supporting the “status quo” (who’s frankly sick of the term as much as Obama’s folks keep using it).

  14. If this were about real reform, which, in part, would include major deregulation, then I’d support it. But it isn’t. Even Obama knows that the government system will be much more inefficient than the private sector options, will not be self-sustaining (and efforts to make it so will involve attempting to hamstring the private sector), and will make the bad customer service of insurers today look like nude women peeling grapes.

    Rationing and the other negative aspects of socializing most (if not all, in the end) of medicine will come, regardless of what bullshit we hear today. We already suffer drastically reduced competition and petty bureaucratic nonsense from the existing, more limited involvement of the government. Just imagine what we’ll get with it calling most or all of the shots!

  15. “JW, i’ve run into a similar issue with my relatives. The other day i got called a right-winger at a family dinner for daring to criticize Big O and his shitty, shitty administration.”

    I get the same thing. I get called a Rushbot. The fact that I haven’t listened to a single Rush Limbaugh show since the first Clinton Administration never seems to matter. I have critized Obama, therefore all of my views must come from Rush Limbaugh. I am just parioting what I hear on Rush. It is just fucking bizzare.

  16. The comments on the story on the WSJ site were awful. “This a a bad plan because Whole Foods charges too much for milk”. What the fuck!

  17. Kyle, what’s worse is one of my brothers is dabbling in Objectivism, and did he jump in on my side? Nooooo.

  18. I think tort reform is largely a canard. People assure me, over and over, that doctors order a vast array of largely pointless tests strictly as “self-defense” against evil ambulance-chasers.

    This conveniently ignores the substantial income they derive from the “referral fees” which are a genteel professional’s term for “kickback”. They’re just running up the score, because they can.

  19. hurr hurr Whole Paycheck hurr hurr

    A temple where guilty white liberals can absolve themselves of their sins by spending too much on groceries. Mackey is completely brilliant.

    Their pies are pretty tasty, though.

  20. Dude, at least you have someone who may back you. I’m alone is a family a lazy democrats thru full on socialists. That’s my extended family too. My mom’s starting to really get fed up with a lot of the shit coming from both sides in Washington but she still defaults to the left. I’m working on her and getting some headway though.

  21. “A temple where guilty white liberals can absolve themselves of their sins by spending too much on groceries. Mackey is completely brilliant.”

    No shit. What a brilliant idea. You have to respect a guy like that for no other reason than the audacity of running such a scheme. And their sushi is good to.

  22. I *do* believe the current jackpot-based legal system should be fixed.

  23. @JW

    Take a look at these two pictures:

    http://hesgotallkindsoftime.blogspot.com/2009/08/astroturf.html

    Which one looks like “astroturf”?

  24. I *do* believe the current jackpot-based legal system should be fixed.

    Which is why my suggested tort reform keeps punitive damages uncapped but doesnt allow the plaintiff or his lawyer(s) to receive any of the punitive award.

  25. I thought you guys burned this guy at the stake a few years ago for having the temerity to suggest that there is such a thing as corporate responsibility to people other than shareholders?

  26. If you could make a buck selling something that would make liberals feel better about themselves would you? Yes many liberals are absolutely silly about health/organic etc., foods. Taking of advantage of that is what Whole Foods does, while making themselves very rich, and who can blame them?

    And the soup there is worth the overcharge imo…

  27. 1. Tell the states to stay out of the insurance business. Have a single set of insurance regulations and let any company market itself in all 50 states.

    2. Tell the AMA and the states to go get bent. Have a single national medical licensing system and expand the areas of practice available to nurses and PAs. And open up the entire country to inovative low cost, high volume pay for service healthcare providers.

    3. Fund the construction and expansion of medical and nursing schools and create incentives for people to pursue those careers. If there are not enough qualified Americans, import people from overseas on the condition that they stay in the country after they get their training.

    4. Turn medicaide and medicare into a voucher system where people are given subsidies to buy insurance and maybe have the government set up a system to pool vouchers to get better rates.

    If you just did those four things, you would go a long way to solving the problem such as it is.

  28. Kyle, my mom’s side of the family is a mix — i’ve got a Marxist grandmother, some hardcore Constitutionalist cousins, a Green uncle, a random crunchy-con or two, and my mom wrote in McCain in 2004 and then stopped talking about politics altogether. My dad’s side of the family campaigned for Obama in lockstep and won’t stop talking about it.

    MNG, it’s always seemed obvious to me that the surest way to make bank is to sell something that makes well-to-do folks feel good about themselves, be it carbon credits, organic groceries, or Barack Obama. Reality has yet to prove me wrong.

  29. “Tell the states to stay out of the insurance business.”

    “Have a single national medical licensing system and expand the areas of practice available to nurses and PAs.”

    Federalism, BAD!

  30. Jesus Xeones,

    Your family reunions must be interesting. I frankly don’t blame your mom for refusing to talk about politics.

  31. No one blames Mackey for getting rich off your tribe, MNG. And I think it was a small minority here that hated him when he did that interview with Milton Friedman and some other guy who was a big asshole.

  32. Xeones
    That’s a great idea with the carbon credits. I should just make a website where I invite people to send me money and in return I agree to “offset” their carbon footprint by not flying places (I hate flying) or whatever…

  33. One thing that I never hear mentioned is that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to involve themselves with health care unless it is being sold or used across state lines, and even then, all they need to do is enforce the friggin’ contract and prosecute fraud that occurs across state lines.

  34. “Tell the states to stay out of the insurance business.”

    “Have a single national medical licensing system and expand the areas of practice available to nurses and PAs.”

    Federalism, BAD!”

    Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. It is not “Federalism BAD”. It is “enforcing the dormant commerce clause good”. The insurance business is interstate commerce. Yet, we allow the States to completely fuck it up and featherbed for their local insurance agents and doctors.

  35. I should just make a website where I invite people to send me money and in return I agree to “offset” their carbon footprint by not flying places (I hate flying) or whatever…

    Too late, holmes, i’ve already incorporated that one in Delaware.

  36. Picking up on John’s line of thinking, I’d love to observe one of your family reunions X. Especially if they’re like my family where an hour in, most every is pretty drunk and some are high.

  37. This conveniently ignores the substantial income they derive from the “referral fees” which are a genteel professional’s term for “kickback”.

    WTF? I have worked exclusively in healthcare for over a dozen years, and I have never once run into a physician getting a referral fee for ordering a test.

    Mostly, I suspect, because its illegal as hell.

  38. Those occasions are few and far between since my parents split, Kyle. When they do happen, i’m usually the only one trying to talk (read: ranting) about politics while everybody else makes polite chitchat. It’s way civil and boring.

  39. My immediate family defaults right, but one of my sisters refuses to vote out of disgust and I’ve convinced my parents to mainly vote Libertarian.

    My girlfriend’s family is congenitally Democrat, but she decided guns are good last night after seeing a PBS program about rape during war in Africa.

  40. RC, it’s astonishing what people don’t know about their health insurance or how their providers are paid. It’s less astonishing that the media plays up the worst myths about insurance companies.

  41. After Wickard v. Filburn (I think that’s it), what ISN’T interstate commerce?

  42. Spoonman is dating Hillary Clinton? Holy shit!

  43. Spoonman, my girlfriends’ family is a bunch of stereotypical liberal Jews. They got quite uncomfortable when I told them that Jews should be the most heavily armed people on the planet.

  44. “My girlfriend’s family is congenitally Democrat, but she decided guns are good last night after seeing a PBS program about rape during war in Africa.”

    Buy her a Glock 19, put XS Big Dot sights and Crimson Trace Lasergrips on it, buy a bunch of ammo, and get her shooting. Eventually get her in a class or two and she’ll be good to go.

    And try to get her shooting a rifle. You accomplish this, and she’ll be hooked for life.

  45. WWJGD – causes of action for gender-based violence and gun control laws.

    (US v. Morrison and US v. Lopez)

  46. Oh, she quite enjoyed shooting my Glock. Pretty soon she’ll be shooting Mosin-Nagants with me like a champ.

  47. Kyle Jordan

    A few weeks ago you gave me some titles of GL TPB’s worth checking out. I lost it, can you resupply the titles? Many thanks!

  48. Wait, why did I think you were talking to me? Shut the fuck up, Warty.

  49. The reason this reform package is not up for consideration is that almost everything spoken aloud in the health care debate is lies.

    The bottom line is that the left doesn’t want there to be any relationship between the health care you receive and your ability to pay. They also don’t want there to be any relationship between the amount of health care services you consume and the amount that you pay.

    There is no way to accomplish this without forcing the wealthy to pay for the poor and the healthy to pay for the sick.

    There is also no way to accomplish this without utterly removing any discipline to contain costs from within the system, other than by fiat rationing.

    Every other word spoken in the health care reform debate is designed to obscure these facts and always has been.

    Mackey’s plan would favor the healthy and savers, and that’s enough right there to take it out of consideration.

  50. I’ve never understood why de-linking insurance from employment isn’t a central part of every serious crack at reform

    Because the “evil giant corporation” mentality is now firmly entrenched in the public consciousness, to the point that most people would see such a suggestion as a form of corporate welfare.

  51. It is just fucking bizzare.

    It seems to be a coming together of an utter lack of argument on the part of statists and welfare whores, at which point it often turns to insults, and an active antagonism from on high, where “never waste a good crisis” meets “punch back twice as hard” in a little place I like to call Stalingrad.

  52. As I read the cases as long as the activity is cannot be classified as economic it can’t be regulated under the Commerce Clause. Any economic activity, even that which is intrastate, which would, when taken in the aggregate, have a substantial effect on interstate commerce, is fair game.

  53. I have never once run into a physician getting a referral fee for ordering a test.

    That comment was based on a conversation I had recently with someone in a position to know. It’s entirely possible the structure of the deal is more complex than a simple kickback, while the effect is substantially the same.

  54. Buy her a Glock 19, put XS Big Dot sights and Crimson Trace Lasergrips on it, buy a bunch of ammo, and get her shooting. Eventually get her in a class or two and she’ll be good to go.

    And try to get her shooting a rifle. You accomplish this, and she’ll be hooked for life.

    Have yet to convince her to actually learn to use one, but she’s now in favor of me owning lots.

  55. “The bottom line is that the left doesn’t want there to be any relationship between the health care you receive and your ability to pay.”

    I think in regards to some floor or minimum level of care, this is not so unfair. We kind of want it to be like police protection*: everybody gets a certain minimum regardless of ability to pay, but if you can afford security guards, knock yourself out…

  56. WWJGD – causes of action for gender-based violence and gun control laws.

    (US v. Morrison and US v. Lopez)

    Ok, so the commerce clause doesn’t apply against non-commerce. SCOTUS hasn’t completely gone insane. They still do overreach with the ICC.

  57. John,

    I have a problem with #4. This has only recently been bothering me. That is Medicare. How realistic is it that the elderly will be able to get any type of insurance at any price in a free market system, even with individual subsidies and a voucher pool? Dangerous drivers are dangerous drivers, regardless of how many of them you pool. Ultimately, the government would need to subsidize the insurance companies that provide for the elderly.

  58. Hey, WWJGD, you’re not going to get any argument from me. Wickard badly needs overruled.

    MNG – the problem with the “floor” is that folks on your side are going to keep parading around people who aren’t living as long as medically possible in an effort to tearjerk us all into “raising” the floor.

    Think about this: an average course of chemo is like, 25,000 (one time!). What does the “floor” include? As much chemo until Stage IV-ers are cured?

  59. Oh, yes. I can’t wait for the teardown of state-level consumer protections in health insurance to do for patients what the Delaware regime on credit cards did for this country’s borrowers (and the global economy).

    I wonder which state will become the corporate default for allowing the meanest, dirtiest, most underhanded fine-print contract tricks in our policies. Georgia? Alabama? Mississippi? Or will it be Delaware again?

    Once the health insurers manage to beggar and destroy a critical mass of their customers, Congress will step in with another bankruptcy “reform” to keep them in perpetual debtors’ hell.

    Welcome to the New Libertard Freedom, sponsored by Whole Foods.

  60. oh now it’s the credit-card companies fault for the economy. Man, people really like their whipping boys, I guess.

  61. Insurance purchasing across state lines is one of those areas that is clearly interstate commerce even without the a bogusly-expanded ICC.

  62. Credit card companies are, by and large, federally regulated.

  63. “What does the “floor” include?”

    I don’t pretend that’s an easy question TAO.

    More than nothing and less than everything 😉

  64. I can’t wait for the teardown of state-level consumer protections in health insurance to do for patients what the Delaware regime on credit cards did for this country’s borrowers (and the global economy).

    I guess I missed it the last time the Visa slavers came around. Nobody is forced to use a credit card. Don’t sign contracts you can’t understand.

  65. I wonder which state will become the corporate default for allowing the meanest, dirtiest, most underhanded fine-print contract tricks in our policies.

    I think New York might be winning right now. Are they one of the states mandating pregnancy coverage, even if you are a single male? And alcohol abuse treatment for teetotalers?

  66. Visa slavers

    I believe they are a branch of The Crimson Permanent Insurance.

  67. “Don’t sign contracts you can’t understand.”

    Jordan, I’d bet my bottom dollar that you are currently a party to at least one contract which you have not read in full/do not fully understand every provision.

    I hate that line.

  68. Dammit, Assurance.

    The Crimson Permanent Assurance.

  69. MNG – yeah, yeah, details, details. Why decide the hard stuff like “cost”? Broad, vacuous philosophical pronouncements about new, definitionally-impossible “rights” and two dollars will get you a cup of coffee at Panera.

  70. It’s funny. I keep hearing about this “debtor’s hell” regarding credit cards. I honestly have no clue what they’re talking about (you know, people like Dan here) because I just paid the things off. There’s tons of information in books and on the internet on how to do it.

    Healthcare, on the other hand, is a whole different animal that doesn’t extend credit. You pay them X money per month, and they take care of Y percentage of medical expenses incurred. How in the hell could an insurance company put you in debtor’s hell?

    Or, is this a case where facts just fuck up the whole argument?

  71. I’d bet my bottom dollar that you are currently a party to at least one contract which you have not read in full/do not fully understand every provision.

    Hypocrisy makes the advice no less valid.

  72. yeah, here’s a good idea: let’s destroy all of contract law because some people sign stuff they don’t understand.

    Awesome idea.

  73. That is Medicare. How realistic is it that the elderly will be able to get any type of insurance at any price in a free market system, even with individual subsidies and a voucher pool?

    What I would propose as a modest first step towards reforming Medicare would be raising the premiums for subscribers who have high incomes.

    We would know that we had raised the premiums high enough when private insurers started to compete for those customers.

    If the Medicare premium is less than what a private premium would cost, then the subscriber is receiving a subsidy. I don’t see any reason to give subsidies to millionaires.

  74. yeah, here’s a good idea: let’s destroy all of contract law because some people sign stuff they don’t understand.

    Awesome idea.

    According to my Surgical Technician friend, that’s the reason there’s so many medical lawsuits. Every patient is briefed on the surgery, the possible complications, and the post-surgery recovery effects. If they want to sue, the judge just throws out that form.

  75. Tomcat, that’s not the type of contract abuse that these guys are talking about.

    They’re talking about “contract abuse” like offering a homeowner’s insurance contract that doesn’t cover floods, and then not paying for flood damage.

    They’re talking about “contract abuse” like offering health insurance that doesn’t cover experimental drugs, and then not paying for experimental drugs.

    Basically offering any contract that limits coverage in any way whatsoever is declared contract abuse as soon as any subscriber wants coverage for something not in the contract.

  76. “I have a problem with #4. This has only recently been bothering me. That is Medicare. How realistic is it that the elderly will be able to get any type of insurance at any price in a free market system, even with individual subsidies and a voucher pool? Dangerous drivers are dangerous drivers, regardless of how many of them you pool. Ultimately, the government would need to subsidize the insurance companies that provide for the elderly.”

    You are right. They would. And as Fluffy points out, you could get some of that by raising the premiums for people with more ability to pay. I think MNG is right. I see no problem with providing basic health care to people regardless of their income. But there has got to be a better way to do it than by a bunch of government bureaucrats setting prices.

  77. I see no problem with providing basic health care to people regardless of their income

    Then why don’t you just do that, John? Please leave the rest of us out of it.

  78. I see no problem with providing basic health care to people regardless of their income. But there has got to be a better way to do it than by a bunch of government bureaucrats setting prices.

    Perhaps the non-libertopia intermediate position would be to deregulate the insurance market, but maintain a program to provide coverage for truly uninsurable people.

    We could define “uninsurable” to be people who can’t find a private sector premium available to them that is less than X% of their available income and assets.

  79. What? No organic food argument yet?

    So disappointed.

  80. Then why don’t you just do that, John? Please leave the rest of us out of it.

    Well, if we’re being realistic, the public simply won’t permit the correct solution. So we need a solution that gets as close to the correct solution as possible while indulging the public’s sentiment.

    Because right now in order to accomplish what should be a fairly minor goal of providing health care assistance to people who either can’t pay or think the amount being demanded is too high, the mainstream political parties are about to try to destroy the health care system utterly.

  81. Just because something doesn’t have the preciseness of definition you might demand or because some the meeting of some concept hasn’t been totally worked out doesn’t make it meaningless TAO, we’ve gone over this before.

    As a law student that has to come up against concepts like “due process”, “reasonable” etc., you should know that by now.

    Just like we want people to have equal access to certain base levels of police protection, we want people to have equal access to certain base levels of health care access. Neither can be defined with mathematical precision. But politically and pracitically these things can be worked out.

  82. Fluffy – recognizing the political context, as you do, and saying that you “have no problem with ‘providing’ health care”, as John does, are two different animals.

    MNG – I forgot, we’re just going to punch those doctors until they are forced to care for those for whom they aren’t responsible.

  83. “I see no problem with providing basic health care to people regardless of their income
    Then why don’t you just do that, John? Please leave the rest of us out of it.”

    OK, TAO, can you please leave me out of your wacky scheme to provide basic police protection, national defense, etc., to people regardless of their income?

    Oh…

  84. Why don’t we conquer some country–say, India–and enslave all of their medical personnel? Then we could use these medislaves to provide healthcare to those in America who can’t afford insurance.

  85. MNG, for what it’s worth, I didn’t appeal to mathematical certainty. I am telling you that I am damn tired of the “Government Good-Idea Fairy” coming around without any consideration of the nature of government or what the implications are of stripping people of choice.

  86. “I see no problem with providing basic health care to people regardless of their income
    Then why don’t you just do that, John? Please leave the rest of us out of it.”

    If I had a few hundred billion laying around I would. Sadly, the government is the only entity capable of doing that. I see nothing wrong with taxing people and using that money to provide help to people who are sick or old or can not for whatever reason take care of themselves. We are a rich country and there is nothing wrong with doing that up to a point.

    Statements like yours are where libertarians go off the rails and get accused of having no values beyond selfishness. I don’t think freedom and capitalism has to mean that we never as a collective society do anything to help anyone in need.

  87. OK, TAO, can you please leave me out of your wacky scheme to provide basic police protection, national defense, etc., to people regardless of their income?

    Fine. Granted. Done.

  88. TAO
    It’s all part of the Liberal Doctor Enslavement Plan TAO…

  89. “A few weeks ago you gave me some titles of GL TPB’s worth checking out. I lost it, can you resupply the titles? Many thanks!”

    Yeah no problem.

    Green Lantern:Rebirth
    Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War 1&2
    Green Lantern: Tales of the Sinestro Corps

    And if you want to, go to your local comic place and pick up a copy of Blackest Night 1 and 2. 2 comes out today and Blackest Night is the thrird in the Trilogy that of Rebirth and Sinestro Corps War.

  90. So you oppose taxation to fund basic levels of police protection and military defense for all?

  91. Fluffy: I guess I was being to literal 😉

  92. Statements like yours are where libertarians go off the rails and get accused of having no values beyond selfishness. I don’t think freedom and capitalism has to mean that we never as a collective society do anything to help anyone in need.

    In other words, you’re more than glad to force other people to live up to your values. No wonder you hate liberals so much – you guys are twins.

  93. Slavery is legal in the United States, provided that the enslaved are convicts. Besides, we have a gray area when we’re talking about enemy noncombatants, right?

  94. MNG – is it somehow possible for you to wrap your mind around the fact that the argument that it is good and proper for a government to do one thing does not mean it is good and proper for a government to do another?

    Anyway, make the social contract explicit and stop analogizing things that aren’t analogous.

  95. But there has got to be a better way to do it than by a bunch of government bureaucrats setting prices

    I hate to say it, but I am seriously having doubts. If the government doesn’t set prices, then the market will. But the market can’t set prices with such a large percentage of “uninsurable”. So, it falls back on the government. And round and round we go. Unless maybe you restrict private insurance to a “moderate risk” group, and derive prices from that group for the high risk. But whose task will that be? And whatever happened to the idea of the government picking up “catastrophic illness”?

  96. John,

    Government != Society

  97. “Have yet to convince her to actually learn to use one, but she’s now in favor of me owning lots.”

    Baby steps mang. You’re already doing well.

    “Oh, she quite enjoyed shooting my Glock. Pretty soon she’ll be shooting Mosin-Nagants with me like a champ.”

    Excellent.

  98. “you’re more than glad to force other people to live up to your values”

    Please stop with this nonsense. You are more than willing to advocate the use of force, and government force, to coerce people to live up to your values too (stopping robbers, murderers, squatters, etc). Get off the high horse.

    “wrap your mind around the fact that the argument that it is good and proper for a government to do one thing does not mean it is good and proper for a government to do another”

    Like police protection I think the government can and should provide basic health care to everyone because people morally deserve such care and the government is in the best position to guarantee it to all.

  99. Just like we want people to have equal access to certain base levels of police protection, we want people to have equal access to certain base levels of health care access.

    Well, in the delegatory model of the state we discussed that other time, this is not really a sensible statement.

    If TAO and I agree in principle that we’re morally entitled as individuals to directly employ violence to prevent the violation of certain rights, we become a “state” at the moment we agree to cooperate. Our “state” becomes larger and larger as more people agree.

    But by definition we don’t accept that you have the right to opt out of our arrangement. If you stroll by and say, “I am not going to acknowledge your agreement [i.e. the laws] and am just going to do what I want,” you’re one of the people we’re conducting violence against. You are literally an outlaw – outside the law.

    But your opt-in moment isn’t when you pay taxes. It’s when you delegate your approval to our state to conduct violence on your behalf. In other words, you participate in the police system by obeying. Not by paying taxes.

  100. But that makes too much sense and is contradictory to the Beloved Leader’s Glorious Plan to save us all from the evil, corrupt and Republican supported private sector of health insurance.

  101. “In other words, you’re more than glad to force other people to live up to your values. No wonder you hate liberals so much – you guys are twins.”

    No. I am just not a crazy fanatic. It is possible to think that maybe we should use tax money to help out people who really need it, but at the same time object to bankrupting the government and confiscate 50% of people’s income to do it. If you think that the use of any tax money for the collective good (i.e. defense, police, basic public services, some forms of welfare) can only mean the government we have today and that the only alternative is to eliminate all of these things entirely, then you are just as much of a nut as the biggest socialist liberal. There is such a thing as a middle position.

  102. “stop analogizing things that aren’t analogous.”

    Well, that’s the point. We find them to be analogous in the ways that are important to us in determining whether government should play a role in providing them. We don’t fetishize the “negative/affirmative” rights distinction as you do nor do we see it as being the crucial dividing line between what government can or should do.

  103. We don’t fetishize the “negative/affirmative” rights distinction as you do nor do we see it as being the crucial dividing line between what government can or should do.

    I think that it’s more accurate to say that many people don’t look at the enforcement of “rights” the same way when it’s done by a government as when it’s done by an individual.

    You were brutally honest in the other thread we had on this when you admitted that you would be perfectly happy to personalize enforce positive rights.

    That’s actually pretty rare.

    Most people are, for whatever reason, comfortable with the government undertaking forcible redistributions that they would not be willing to undertake personally, with the club in their own hand.

  104. Thanks, John – I always knew you were a statist of a different stripe. Think about the fact that you and MNG are in agreement here.

  105. “Like police protection I think the government can and should provide basic health care to everyone because people morally deserve such care and the government is in the best position to guarantee it to all.”

    Morally, I think people deserve such care as well. However, I morally oppose any system that requires me to pay into a system like that. Now, if this plan were self supporting, I’d tolerate it…but if it’s subsidized in the least little bit with tax money, then clearly I am being required to pay into that system.

    I’ve been the guy who was dirt poor and couldn’t pay my medical bills outright. So I worked out payment plans and got them taken care of that way…and this was all without insurance. I didn’t believe other people were responsible for my health, and I still don’t.

    Instead, non-profit hospitals and clinics that are funded through charitable means is my idea of how to provide it. Frankly, I’d donate more if I wasn’t taxed like I currently am 😉

  106. Positive “Rights” are logically impossible. To say that there is a positive “right” to money necessitates that someone else has to give it up. If I have a “right” to your dollar, that is a violation of your rights. Therefore, it is not a right. Rights do not contradict.

  107. “You were brutally honest in the other thread we had on this when you admitted that you would be perfectly happy to personalize enforce positive rights.”

    The only reason most people would not use physical force to make a doctor treat someone who was dying at their feet would be cowardice. Morally most people would approve. Hell, most people clapped when the Adam Sandler character in Big Daddy made that scrooge give shit to the kid on Halloween.

    Harming someone through callous withholding of something you know they need and will be seriously harmed if they go without is really no different than callously harming them yourself (well, at least not different enough to not make both situations warrant coercion as a possible response).

  108. Fluffy,

    I don’t think that saying something ought to be done means that it is a right. I think we ought to help those in need. But ultimately if say we get the great Obamaflation or are hit by an asteroid, we might not be able to do that. Healthcare paid for by the government is not a right in the same way due process is a right. I don’t care how tight things get; we can’t and shouldn’t repeal due process. But, if we have the money, and we do, we should at least try to provide some kind of safety net for people. Unfortunately, liberals have taken that idea and made it into a right and used it as a way to bankrupt the country. But I don’t think the original idea is a bad one.

  109. Harming someone through callous withholding of something you know they need and will be seriously harmed if they go without is really no different than callously harming them yourself

    You’re withholding your surplus food and money from children in Africa. According to you, that’s the same thing as starving them yourself.

  110. “Thanks, John – I always knew you were a statist of a different stripe. Think about the fact that you and MNG are in agreement here.”

    God fobid anyone think that perhaps the other side has a point. Nope,everyone on the other side is completely irrational and evil. I don’t agree with MNG about much. I think he is whacked about the idea of positive rights. But, I do understand why he would think that way. And I can see the appeal and the need to try to provide some kind of basic safety net for people.

  111. John, if it’s not a right, it’s a privilege, and I don’t see where you get off telling me that I should be forced to provide privileges to other people.

  112. “However, I morally oppose any system that requires me to pay into a system like that.”

    Do you morally oppose any system that requires you to pay into a system that provides equal access police protection?

    TAO
    What’s “right” to be done with that dollar depends on the circumstances. If I need that dollar to put it into a vending machine to give a dying fellow water, then it’s wrong for you to withold it and right for me to take it from you and do that. Consider the absurdity of any other view: that a human being should suffer and die for the sake of what, the sancitity of “property rights?” Any system of morality that demands such a result is one not worthy of respect or adherence. It’s inhumane in the truest sense in that it does not put human welfare as the over-riding criteria in determining right and wrong.

  113. So, yes, the existence of a hungry mouth, somewhere, somehow, is a mortgage on my life.

    I know you believe it, MNG, but that makes you pretty fucking evil.

  114. Positive “Rights” are logically impossible. To say that there is a positive “right” to money necessitates that someone else has to give it up. If I have a “right” to your dollar, that is a violation of your rights. Therefore, it is not a right. Rights do not contradict.

    Well, MNG also went along with me when I said that I had the moral right to go around killing people who were trying to capture and enslave people.

    So basically MNG is saying that he has the right to capture and enslave doctors, but that I have the right to kill him if I catch him doing it. Which seems a bit off.

    The only reason most people would not use physical force to make a doctor treat someone who was dying at their feet would be cowardice. Morally most people would approve. Hell, most people clapped when the Adam Sandler character in Big Daddy made that scrooge give shit to the kid on Halloween.

    Harming someone through callous withholding of something you know they need and will be seriously harmed if they go without is really no different than callously harming them yourself

    So basically you’re saying that the only reason you don’t break down rich peoples’ doors, beat them with a tire iron, take their valuables, and send them to starving people in Africa is because of cowardice?

    Wow, good thing you’re a coward.

    If allowing someone to die when you could have saved them is the same as murder, then you are a fucking mass murderer thousands of times over for not buying mosquito netting and sending it to Africa. Since we agreed that it’s OK to use violence to stop murderers, why haven’t you killed yourself?

  115. “John, if it’s not a right, it’s a privilege, and I don’t see where you get off telling me that I should be forced to provide privileges to other people.”

    So if you lose your job and get really sick, it is a privelege to get any help? Helping you pay your doctor bills is no different than buying you other privileges like beer, cigs and Yankees’ tickets. That is nuts.

  116. In other words, MNG, I earned that dollar – the mere fact that someone is dying does not instantly grant him a claim check on my efforts. This is not about whether I should give the dollar; it’s about whether I have the right to withhold what I earned.

  117. “However, I morally oppose any system that requires me to pay into a system like that.”

    Do you morally oppose any system that requires you to pay into a system that provides equal access police protection?

    Well, since the Supreme Court has ruled that the police aren’t obligated to “protect” anyone, I’m not. Instead, I’m paying for a service that arrests criminals after they have committed crimes and, on occasion, lucks up and catches people in the middle of committing them.

  118. TAO,

    Perhaps “need” would be a better term. Again, it is a gray area. It is a “should do” not a have to do. Should the government, if it can try to help the sick and people who can’t help themselves? Yes. Does it have to to the exclusion of all other priorities? No. If something is a “right” that means they are entitled to it regardless of competing interestes.

  119. ” the mere fact that someone is dying does not instantly grant him a claim check on my efforts”

    In any moral system that has human well being as the criteria for sorting out right from wrong actions it most certainly would.

  120. If I had it in for Whole Foods for some reason and wanted to create a parody of its name, I’d go with Whore Foods.

  121. @John – “Statements like yours are where libertarians go off the rails and get accused of having no values beyond selfishness. I don’t think freedom and capitalism has to mean that we never as a collective society do anything to help anyone in need.”

    Libertarians NEVER say you shouldn’t help people in need. The libertarian philosophy is if you want to help, then help, just don’t force me to do the same. Why is that such a hard concept for people to accept?

    Do you force people to buy your lunch? Do you force people to pay your rent? Do you force people to put gas in your tank?

    Sheesh, it’s like you’re actually trying to NOT understand…

  122. Do you know what system it is that provides the best advancement for human wellbeing? It is not your communist beliefs.

  123. “I’m paying for a service that arrests criminals after they have committed crimes”

    Yeah, but let’s say I don’t want to pay my dollar towards that service. I’m a big guy, I own a gun, hell if I have any interest in catching someone who victimizes you. Can I opt out? Or are you going to coerce me into supporting it? And in doing so I guess you have “enslaved” me, eh?

  124. I understand perfectly well free for all. But there is such a thing as the government and the collective “you”. And I am sorry, to say that collective forms of civil society like governments should never help anyone in need under any conditions is nuts.

  125. TAO
    I know it’s not communism, in fact any serious liberal post-Rawls knows that.

    It’s not Libertopia either.

  126. It’s slavery. Plain and simple slavery. And John is nodding along in agreement, much to no one’s surprise.

  127. “Do you know what system it is that provides the best advancement for human wellbeing? It is not your communist beliefs.”

    So the fact that I think that maybe the government should try to help people who are sick and really in need sometimes, makes me a Communist? Come on.

  128. Consider the absurdity of any other view: that a human being should suffer and die for the sake of what, the sancitity of “property rights?”

    No, for the sake of the principle that no man can make another his slave.

    It’s not merely a matter of property, since you were also willing to specify that you would force a doctor to labor.

  129. “It’s slavery. Plain and simple slavery. And John is nodding along in agreement, much to no one’s surprise.”

    By that standard any form of government that takes taxes from you and uses it for things that don’t directly benefit you, is slavery. That makes you an anarchist not a libertarian.

  130. I wasn’t talking to you on that one, John. MNG seems to think that slavery is the best track to wellbeing, and that a hungry mouth creates a claim check on everyone else’s effort. Why he hasn’t killed the rich and shipped their dollars to Africa (or, even better, sacrificed himself to send his own dollars), he won’t say.

  131. Can I opt out?

    If it’s a private security force…

  132. By that standard any form of government that takes taxes from you and uses it for things that don’t directly benefit you, is slavery. That makes you an anarchist not a libertarian.

    Wrong. And you call yourself educated.

  133. TAO,

    You have turned into Lefiti’s evil twin.

  134. To say that someone has a moral duty to provide immediate help to one imminently in need of what you can provide, and that that duty is so strong that it justifies coercion to mke you obey it is not necessarily to say that the duty exists or at the same strength to justify coercion for every situation which exists in the world of someone in need who could use something you my have.

    In On Liberty Mill talks of how it would be OK to use coercion on a person who knows the bridge is out and could reasonably flag down car approaching the bridge-less chasm. That seems right to me. Like imposing a duty on that guy to share his information with the driver I can see imposing duty on a doctor to share his skills on the dying guy at his feet…

    1. I don’t see how you can conclude that you can coerce someone to do something you think is “morally right”. Sure you might value the lives of the people in the car more than the time and effort it takes to flag them down. But that doesn’t mean everyone does or necessarily should. What if someone thought their wife might be dying in desperate need of medicine? How much time do they have to spend taking care of you instead of their own family?

      In any case coercion isn’t needed. The number of people who would ignore a dying man for their own convenience is minimal. And even if it weren’t all it would take in a free society is offering rewards for saving people’s lives that compensate for the trouble. That wouldn’t be hard to organise on a charitbale basis.

  135. John, a minimal government could raise money without taxes and defend its territory with volunteers, like the AoC set up (minus excises).

  136. “I’m paying for a service that arrests criminals after they have committed crimes”

    Yeah, but let’s say I don’t want to pay my dollar towards that service. I’m a big guy, I own a gun, hell if I have any interest in catching someone who victimizes you. Can I opt out? Or are you going to coerce me into supporting it? And in doing so I guess you have “enslaved” me, eh?

    Different animal. It arrests people who break laws, regardless of who they victimize (or whether it was a person or not).

    Healthcare, on the other hand, as described by Obama and his supporters, requires me to pay into a system regardless of whether I have health insurance or not. Meaning, if I have insurance, I am being forced to pay into a system that only benefits certain people as it’s direct beneficiary where as law enforcement has the community as it’s direct beneficiary.

    You can try and argue that health care does the same thing, but how does robbing me of money to pay for insurance for someone benefit society as a whole when the vast majority under the current system is already insured? Easy. It doesn’t.

  137. “I wasn’t talking to you on that one, John. MNG seems to think that slavery is the best track to wellbeing, and that a hungry mouth creates a claim check on everyone else’s effort. Why he hasn’t killed the rich and shipped their dollars to Africa (or, even better, sacrificed himself to send his own dollars), he won’t say.”

    My apologies then. Yes, MNG is whacked about that. Just because we don’t do something for someone doesn’t make us responsible. I think perhaps the people Africa are responsible for their plight not us. But, that doesn’t mean that it is a bad thing or an undesireable thing for government to try to help people, as long doing so actually does any good and doesn’t crowd out other priorities.

  138. @HeadTater – If the Republicans’ health plan is so superior, why the crap didn’t they implement it in the SIX YEARS they had control of Congress and the Presidency?

    Oh, I see, when they’re out of power THEN they want less government…

    *shakes head* foolish, foolish Republicans

  139. Like imposing a duty on that guy to share his information with the driver I can see imposing duty on a doctor to share his skills on the dying guy at his feet…

    Then you’re willing to risk imprisonment for this indentured service? Seems equitable, then.

  140. fluffy
    But of course a man may make another person “his slave” if the contrary course would cause a person to die or suffer serious harm. There are worse things morally than slavery for goodness sake!

    Like I said, if a person steals an apple from a stand and a cop pulls his club and says “put that apple back or else” and he does I guess you could say we all just supported an act of “enslavement”, but I’m betting you are not only cool with that, you would cheer…

  141. Really, MNG? The dying person can claim someone else’s efforts for no reason other than he’s dying? I don’t think TAO is saying he wouldn’t help that dying person. He’s saying you may not force him to. The force you inflict IS a violation of TAO’s rights whether the dying man is thirsty or not.

  142. “So the fact that I think that maybe the government should try to help people who are sick and really in need sometimes, makes me a Communist? Come on.”

    Welcome to 2009. You’re lucky he didn’t call you a Nazi.

  143. “John, a minimal government could raise money without taxes and defend its territory with volunteers, like the AoC set up (minus excises).”

    How would it raise money without taxes? Further, the authoritarian govenrment next door will draft and enslave its people, build a huge army and come kick your ass and enslave you. It wouldn’t be fair. But that is how it would happen.

  144. What impediments are in place?

    I can easily go open a savings account, call it my health savings account, and deposit into it regularly.

    I can go get a high-deductible policy right now if I want and it won’t cost me much.

    What are the impediments?

  145. how is making someone return stolen goods “slavery”? As a matter of fact, if the police officer just let him go, that makes the proper owner of the apple a slave to the thief.

  146. “you were also willing to specify that you would force a doctor to labor”

    A much better way would be to take property from some people and use that property to induce the doctor to tend to the person. But it’s all going to be enslavement to you I imagine…

  147. How would it raise money without taxes?

    Donations and bake sales. We’re not talking about a police state, we’re talking about a Constitution.

    Further, the authoritarian govenrment next door will draft and enslave its people, build a huge army and come kick your ass and enslave you.

    Volunteer military forces have worked pretty well here so far. Some would say even now there’s too much (voluntary) military.

  148. Why it’s certainly slaver TAO. He doesn’t want to walk over and put the goods down. He wants to keep walking. He’s been made, via force, to do it. You’ve enslaved him my man! Goodness, you’re worse than the guy from Roots…

  149. He doesn’t want to walk over and put the goods down. He wants to keep walking. He’s been made, via force, to do it. You’ve enslaved him my man!

    Yes, we’re all slaves to property, and the sooner it’s erased from the language the sooner we can forget about it. If only I could get this dead rat out of my dreds…

  150. you’re an idiot. The thief relinquished his rights to keep the apple and not return it the second he stole it from the rightful owner.

  151. “The force you inflict IS a violation of TAO’s rights whether the dying man is thirsty or not.”

    “rights” divorced from the consequences of actions on human well being are absurd, inhumane and immoral.

  152. Who cares about what is right? We are just talking enslavement, right? Forcing people to do what you want. And you just did it! It’s like the Ivory Coast all over again!

  153. “Slavery is a form of forced labor in which people are considered to be, or treated as, the property of others”

    By not enforcing property rights, you are making the owner of the apple the property of the thief.

  154. MNG, what you mean is that you’re not willing to risk the consequences of supposedly violating a right to provide a privilege, and you want the state to protect you. In which case, I question the “morality” of what you want to do.

  155. Bad faith argumentation. Fuck off.

  156. Yeah, but let’s say I don’t want to pay my dollar towards that service. I’m a big guy, I own a gun, hell if I have any interest in catching someone who victimizes you. Can I opt out? Or are you going to coerce me into supporting it? And in doing so I guess you have “enslaved” me, eh?

    Well, Rand came up with a relatively easy way to allow you to opt out that doesn’t require Rothbardian foolishness like competing police forces:

    Tax all contracts and sales. No contract on which no tax was paid will be enforceable in the courts. No property on which no tax was paid can be claimed as property before the courts.

    That would allow you to participate as much or as little as you wanted. If you opted out entirely, you might find the going a bit rough.

    You could potentially free ride on physical protection for your person, because it would behoove those of us who are maintaining the system to prevent criminal murderers and rapists from having free reign in our territory. But hey, we can tolerate a little free riding.

  157. SO TAO what you are saying is that it is OK to enslave someone when they are not in the right, or when they violate someone’s rights?

    Which is of course what I’ve said all along. The doctor is doing something wrong, is violating the rights of the dying man.

    Thanks for playing!

  158. The thief stealing the apple has violated the apple stand owner’s rights and someone told him to put it back and he complied. I don’t see how the thief’s rights have been violated? No one was enslaved. Someone was convinced to change their ways. That is all. And if the cop had arrested him for theft, it was a punishment for a crime, not enslavement.

  159. “Bad faith argumentation. Fuck off.”

    Oh my, don’t have your moral philosophy quite as worked out as you need to considering your arrogance, now do you?

    lol

  160. Nick
    Of course he was enslaved. He was forced to do something he didn’t want via force/threat of force.

    Unless you only want to reserve the concept of enslavement for when someone is forcing people to do something when it’s not morally warranted. You do?

    Well guess what, so do I.

    You see, it all comes back to the positive/negative rights thing…

  161. Unless you only want to reserve the concept of enslavement for when someone is forcing people to do something when it’s not morally warranted.

    You seem to be confused. You’re talking about achieving egalitarian results and calling the means “rights.” Instead, rights are egalitarian conditions which are used as each individual desires, to varying results. And if somebody wants to risk their hide in the doctor scenario, then they ought to be prepared for moral reprisal.


  162. A temple where guilty white liberals can absolve themselves of their sins by spending too much on groceries. Mackey is completely brilliant.

    I saw ground beef for more than $20 per pound at the one in Atlanta a few years ago.

    I am all for Whole Foods existing and catering to whomever can afford to shop there, but I can invariably find better deals elsewhere (Publix sells very tasty buffalo meat for about six dollars per pound, for example).

    The comments on the story on the WSJ site were awful. “This a a bad plan because Whole Foods charges too much for milk”. What the fuck!

    I’m always amazed at how readily people will attack something about the messenger and then act as if they have refuted the message. There’s gotta be a word or phrase for that sort of thing…

    In On Liberty Mill talks of how it would be OK to use coercion on a person who knows the bridge is out and could reasonably flag down car approaching the bridge-less chasm.

    In the world I imagine, no one would need to compelled to do that sort of thing. Maybe it’s a pipe dream, I dunno.

    Like imposing a duty on that guy to share his information with the driver I can see imposing duty on a doctor to share his skills on the dying guy at his feet…

    It may vary by state, but I think in that sort of situation, a physician is compelled under force of law to assist an injured person as much as he is able.

  163. Which is of course what I’ve said all along. The doctor is doing something wrong, is violating the rights of the dying man.

    In a long line of stupid things you’ve said on this board, this may be the stupidest.

    I know you have the typical leftist inability to understand the difference between involuntary and voluntary, but this is right off the rails.

  164. To say that someone has a moral duty to provide immediate help to one imminently in need of what you can provide, and that that duty is so strong that it justifies coercion to mke you obey it is not necessarily to say that the duty exists or at the same strength to justify coercion for every situation which exists in the world of someone in need who could use something you my have.

    This, and the Mill example, are even more absurd than the other things you are arguing.

    Basically you are saying that the man who can contrive matters so that he does not see the poor has no obligation to them, and that’s it’s the proximity, and not the poverty, that creates the obligation.

    Good, then all I need to do to avoid being obligated is stand over here with my fingers in my ears saying “La la la la, I am not listening to MNG”.

    This counterargument is a cop out designed to avoid the moral and practical consequences of an ethical system that combines altruism and the idea of sins of omission. If altruism is true, and if sins of omission are possible, then we are all slaves to need until the last hungry person anywhere in the universe is fed. “Oh, well, not if the poor people aren’t actually right near you right now!” Give me a break. Then you committed a sin of omission by not busting your ass to be near the poor people.

    Like I said, if a person steals an apple from a stand and a cop pulls his club and says “put that apple back or else” and he does I guess you could say we all just supported an act of “enslavement”, but I’m betting you are not only cool with that, you would cheer…

    The apple cart guy had to labor to get that apple and labor to transport it to the place where he was trying to sell it. The thief has taken that labor from the apple cart guy and forced him to contribute it without compensating him or trading him something in exchange. To me, this is morally indistinguishable from forcing the apple cart guy to labor to bring you apples. So yes, when someone stops you, I will cheer.

  165. The doctor must then reserve his right to shoot MNG in the face so he’s not forced to give medical care to the dying man against his will. Seems fair.

  166. Certain hardcore libertarian beliefs are nice to believe in in a vacuum, but are useless in the real world. You will never ever ever get any more than a tiny minority of this country to believe that critically injured peopled shouldn’t receive immediate medical treatment regardless of ability to pay. The same goes for treatment of chronically ill people. Now, it is possible that you may sway public opinion for less critical needs such as regular checkups and minor non-life threatening injuries, but there will always been subsegments of the population for which the overwhelming majority believes that a government assistance program is an absolute must.

    Given that, I find it hard to even debate about pushing for libertopia. The TAOs of the world need to accept political reality unless they’re willing to accept a lifetime of futile argumentation.

  167. You will never ever ever get any more than a tiny minority of this country to believe that critically injured peopled shouldn’t receive immediate medical treatment regardless of ability to pay

    Too bad ERs don’t operate that way now voluntarily and by law with donated funds. If only society were compassionate enough!

  168. MNG, my philosophy is fine. Yours is complete nonsense, and you know it. And that makes you dishonest and therefore, a bad faith arguer.

  169. Too bad ERs don’t operate that way now voluntarily and by law with donated funds. If only society were compassionate enough!

    NSS. My point was there’s always going to be a minimum social assistance level when it comes to healthcare. Things like free ER care and Medicaid (in some form) are not going away, ever. If you can frame your debate around that, then you’re simply not a useful participant in the reform process.

  170. “Too bad ERs don’t operate that way now voluntarily and by law with donated funds. If only society were compassionate enough!”

    The key phrase is “by law”. If they are being forced to do so buy law, they might as well be taxed to do it.

  171. It’s entirely possible the structure of the deal is more complex than a simple kickback, while the effect is substantially the same.

    Then in all likelihood its illegal. The federal government has been on a physician witchhunt for more than a dozen years.

    MNG is struggling with the distinction between morality and legality. He seems to be arguing that a certain moral vision should be enforced by the law.

    The first difficulty, of course, is in deciding whose moral vision should be legally enforced. I doubt MNG would agree that the pro-life moral vision should be legally enforced.

    History is replete with moralities that took up the sword and committed atrocities. The realization that a claim to morality should not automatically entail a claim to legal enforcement is the bedrock of old-school liberalism and limited government.

    The question of which moral injunctions should be enforced with the billy club and the jackboot is the hard one. Some (thou shalt not kill) we all agree on. Others (thou shalt have this or that good or service, regardless of ability to obtain it via voluntary transation), not so much.

  172. MP, that’s voluntary. There are ways to be a doctor without being in the ER treating indigents. There are ways to pay for other people’s medicine without paying for abortions. There are ways to solicit funds without going through socialist insurance. People are somewhat free to use their capital as they see fit, and though there aren’t much more ways it could get worse than are being currently proposed, it could also be a lot better.

    By nationalizing health care, the government sets all conditions.

  173. MP is exactly right. Furhter, as bad things go, I am not too concerned about that one. OMG we tax people to pay for the care of the critically injured, handicapped and chonrically ill. Say it isn’t so. That is no different than communism or slavery.

  174. “By nationalizing health care, the government sets all conditions.”

    True. But since when does helping out people at the low end of the spectrum require nationalizing all healthcare?

  175. John, it doesn’t. Like I said, hospitals already do it (by law and sometimes beyond what the law requires). And they’d do it if there were no wealth-redistribution entities, because that’s what its shareholders want it to do. But convince MNG of that.

  176. But since when does helping out people at the low end of the spectrum require nationalizing all healthcare?

    Because if they are entitled to it, why aren’t I?

  177. Because if they are entitled to it, why aren’t I?

    A fine elucidation of what’s wrong with Social Security.

  178. But since when does helping out people at the low end of the spectrum require nationalizing all healthcare?

    because everyone should have access to any doctor, procedure and treatment regardless of ability to pay.

  179. “because everyone should have access to any doctor, procedure and treatment regardless of ability to pay.”

    I think that’s where I came in. But the floor’s all sticky now.

  180. “Because if they are entitled to it, why aren’t I?”

    Because we are making the decision to help people when they need it. You are entitled to it in the sense that if you ever get poor and down on your luck, we will help you to.

    As Anonymous points out above, the government doesn’t have to do everything. Private entities do a lot of charity. But as long as you don’t go overboard and crowd out charities, there is no reason why the government can’t do some things other than some pigheaded idea that the government should never do anything. As MP rightly points out, most are not and will not buy that. So rather than standing around pissing in the wind bemoaning how any form of transfer payment is slavery, maybe people would be better off thinking of ways to help people without bankrupting the government or having it take over the entire economy.

  181. maybe people would be better off thinking of ways to help people without bankrupting the government or having it take over the entire economy.

    We could call it “The Salvation Cavalry.”

    But we’ll need horses.

  182. “because everyone should have access to any doctor, procedure and treatment regardless of ability to pay.”

    Now that is bullshit. To say we should help you stay alive doesn’t mean we owe you every treatment you ever dreamed of.

  183. Because we are making the decision to help people when they need it. You are entitled to it in the sense that if you ever get poor and down on your luck, we will help you to.

    So, in other words, other people’s misfortunes means they have a claim check against my labor.

    This isn’t hard, John. Just admit you want to force people to work for other people.

    But don’t call it “slavery”, kids! That’s HYPERBOLE!

  184. “So, in other words, other people’s misfortunes means they have a claim check against my labor.”

    Yes and in return you get a claim check against their labor if something rotten happens to you. It is not slavery because you get something out of the deal to.

    TAO, this whole thread is why people who don’t know any better think Libertarians are whack jobs. I can see you at one of Xeones’ family reunion screaming “I don’t care if that fucking kid’s parents died and he got hit by a car. Let him fucking die. You can’t put a claim on my money to pay for his misfortune. That is slavery.”

    If this is what the small government position has come to, it is little wonder both parties are now run by big government types.

  185. Our thinking around these types of issues is increasingly binary. Altruism isn’t a question of the government or nothing. However, when the government takes over a charitable area, it seems to reduce private activities (or forestall them) and even to take the very idea of a private, charitable option off the table.

    In other words, why can’t civil society handle healthcare for those who can’t get it? Why must it be the government? In the past, mutual aid societies and other private means were used. Most of us do have medical insurance or access to healthcare, after all, so we’re really talking about a relatively small number of people. We’re certainly a generous people, with no serious limit on our willingness and our financial ability to help those in need. Why government and compulsion are viewed as necessary is beyond me.

  186. John, the question isn’t whether I care: the question is whether you can make me sign over my life to that kid.

    Now you’re being a fuckface arguer.

  187. Or, Shorter John: IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN!

    Thanks, Barack Obama John.

  188. “In other words, why can’t civil society handle healthcare for those who can’t get it? ”

    I think it can to a large degree. But I think there is still some roll for government to fill in the gaps. Further, the government’s roll in helping could be to help and empower civil society to do this things and then perhaps catch those cases that fill in the gaps.

    Civil society is great. But, back in the days when there was only civil society, people who didn’t have families and couldn’t take care of themselves were truely fucked. 19th Century America may not have been some Dickens’ nightmare. But, the idea that “civil society” took care every need is a myth.

  189. “Why must it be the government?”

    1. You gain great economies of scale. It’s practical, ignoring bureaucracy, which will exist anyway, so we can ignore it.

    2. If it were to pass a referendum, that would make it moral to impose on the rest, because imposing the majority’s will is the path of least resistence when compromising between opinions of social organization, which are inherently and necessarily arbitrary in any case.

  190. I don’t care if that fucking kid’s parents died and he got hit by a car. Let him fucking die.

    You could pay for his medical bills if you care that much.

  191. TAO,

    You are funny. Pro makes a good point. We are totally binary on this. It is either libertopia or Obamatopia with nothing in the middle. Everyone is either for you or against you. That is crazy. There ought to be a place for limited government to help those who most need it.

  192. There ought to be a place for limited government to help those who most need it.

    “When in the course of human events…” has a ring to it.

  193. Again, John, why is it that you get to determine what people’s “needs” are, and why does the existence of those needs, just because they happen to exist, impose an obligation on me?

    So, John, when are you going to support increased global aid for the world’s truly needy? Surely “America” can spare a trillion dollars for the poor.

  194. “I don’t care if that fucking kid’s parents died and he got hit by a car. Let him fucking die.

    You could pay for his medical bills if you care that much.”

    Yes because we could never do anything reasonably. We can’t have a government that does a few things for people who really need it. Nope. If we have that, we have socialism and what we have today.

  195. In other words, why can’t civil society handle healthcare for those who can’t get it? Why must it be the government?

    I think it’s a question of dispersion of access in addition to volume of caseload. Just consider the size of the Medicaid program. Even if it was better optimized, do you really think that this could be wholly subsumed by “civil society”. Also, “civil society” would likely end up centralizing those resources in core areas. What about those who aren’t near enough to the core to survive transport?

  196. Why is government intervention “reasonable”? Is that an efficiency argument?

  197. Well, I imagine private charities–if acting alone–would come down to two major options: (1) providing insurance funding or support to people or (2) mutual aid societies, where the people in need combine their resources to either obtain coverage or to buy medical attention directly.

    I’m just taking shots in the dark, though. I’m not an expert on any of this. R C Dean is in the healthcare industry and might have some better ideas about what a purely private healthcare charity would look like. Let’s not forget, too, that we’re not talking about one gigantic charity.

  198. “Again, John, why is it that you get to determine what people’s “needs” are, and why does the existence of those needs, just because they happen to exist, impose an obligation on me?”

    Because it sucks to be you. Ultimately, in a civil society the majority make the rules and obligations. Most societies, including this one, have decided that everyone has at least some small obligation to help those in need. Society functions better if people don’t drop out of the bottom of it. Maybe someday we will have a society and a government that decides differently. I would rather live in a society where everyone has some obligation, be it a small one, to help those in need. I am lucky enough to live in a society that does.

    So, John, when are you going to support increased global aid for the world’s truly needy? Surely “America” can spare a trillion dollars for the poor.”

    I never said we have an obligation to go bankrupt to help the poor. I have frequently said that our obligation varies directly to our situation. It is a “need” and a “good” not a right. Rights are things you grant regardless of competing needs.

  199. “Why is government intervention “reasonable”? Is that an efficiency argument?”

    It is not a question of why it is reasonable. It is a question of when it is reasonable. Like anything else, it can and does get out of hand.

  200. “Well, I imagine private charities–if acting alone–would come down to two major options: (1) providing insurance funding or support to people or (2) mutual aid societies, where the people in need combine their resources to either obtain coverage or to buy medical attention directly.”

    We have a lot of those things now. We certainly have tons of charitable hospitals. We require that people get care by law. Perhaps the sollution is to say that every hospital must provide a given amount of care regardless of ability to pay. Then leave it up to the hospitals to either pass the cost on to their customers or get charity to make up the difference. That is kind of what we do now.

  201. Helping should not be forced, John. The end. Any quibbling you do with the Democrats is just that: quibbling. You have already signed over a dollar, so when they come to take two, you have no cause to complain.

  202. John:
    “Because it sucks to be you. Ultimately, in a civil society the majority make the rules and obligations.”

    wtf is civil about majority rule?

  203. “Helping should not be forced, John. The end. Any quibbling you do with the Democrats is just that: quibbling. You have already signed over a dollar, so when they come to take two, you have no cause to complain.”

    That is blindingly ignorant. You are just being a troll. Anyone who thinks there is any roll for government at all has no right to complain no matter what the government does. After all, they gave the dollar.

    That is just self evidently stupid.

  204. “It is not a question of why it is reasonable. It is a question of when it is reasonable.”

    I’m dense, but if a time comes when something’s attained a property, there’s usually a reason for that property. In other words, regardless of when it becomes reasonable, why is government intervention reasonable?

  205. I rather suspect that massive government intervention in healthcare has limited the growth of any possible private charitable options.

  206. whatever, John. you’re doing to define need at X amount of income, and they are going to say “nooo, we have to do 2X income”. And what are you going to say? “That’s too high”? On what grounds are you complaining?

  207. “In other words, regardless of when it becomes reasonable, why is government intervention reasonable?”

    Because civil society, while it does a lot, doesn’t do everything. There is nothing unreasonable about the idea that government can tax and take that money to fill in the gaps of civil society and make things a bit less brutal. I am sorry I don’t find anything wrong or unreasonable with that idea in principle. I certainly find a lot unreasonable about its execution.

    It might be that I am naive. That no matter how well intentioned, government invariably goes berserk and if you try and do anything you end up with a Byzantine welfare state like we have today. I am willing to admit that possibility. But I am not willing to rant and rave a bunch of nonsense that any taxing of me to help anyone else is immoral slavery.

  208. “That is blindingly ignorant. You are just being a troll. Anyone who thinks there is any roll for government at all has no right to complain no matter what the government does. After all, they gave the dollar.

    That is just self evidently stupid.”

    actually what’s stupid is failing to see that was his defense for not giving the first dollar.

    and it’s role not roll

    roll is what you obviously take to keep so blearily ignorant about the nature of freedom.

  209. “I rather suspect that massive government intervention in healthcare has limited the growth of any possible private charitable options.”

    I am sure it has. But that doesn’t mean that private charities would grow enough to replace government. Nor does it mean that there isn’t a smaller roll for government that wouldn’t drown out private charities.

  210. and it’s role not roll

    he he

    ad homonym attack

  211. Okay, that amused me.

    Here’s another one: Ad Houyhnhnm–an attack on the horse you rode in on.

  212. There is nothing unreasonable about the idea that government can tax and take that money to fill in the gaps of civil society and make things a bit less brutal.

    So what you’re saying is that massive, forced wealth redistribution provides a less “brutal” environment than doing nothing but protecting property rights? See, that’s a misconception we can work to overcome, and it’s quite a different statement than saying that people should be taken care of (which is simple individual action and wish fulfillment, not a judgement on economic impacts).

  213. don’t mind me, i’m just a Trole

  214. PL:

    eye never new Howe two spell that be for!

  215. You people are fanatics. That is why there is like 1% of the country who calls themselves Libertarians. Unless and until you can come up with a vision of limited government that recognizes some role for government to help people who really need it, you are not going to go anywhere. Further, it does no good to lump anyone who doesn’t buy into the most radical view with everyone on the Left up to and including communists and advocates of a command and control economy. People will just tune you out at that point. That is no different than being a Bircher.

  216. It’s a cheap joke, because I don’t think it’s supposed to be pronounced the way it looks.

    I was going to say “Google is my friend”, but I think a little artistic license is in order (for those who recall their Swift): “Yahoo is my friend.”

  217. “So what you’re saying is that massive, forced wealth redistribution provides a less “brutal” environment than doing nothing but protecting property rights? See, that’s a misconception we can work to overcome, and it’s quite a different statement than saying that people should be taken care of (which is simple individual action and wish fulfillment, not a judgement on economic impacts).”

    Yes, because any wealth distribution must be “massive”. It is communism or freedom and nothing in between. Why don’t you just start looking into fluoridation as a plot of the welfare state? You are not that far away.

  218. john:

    didja think this was the wedge issue that was going to allow you to convince a bunch of libertarians they were mistaken?

  219. ad homonym attack

    Absurd.

  220. It is a wealth redistribution to take away your purity of essence TAO. You are finally onto us.

  221. “john:

    didja think this was the wedge issue that was going to allow you to convince a bunch of libertarians they were mistaken?”

    No. I would just like to think that there is something in between MNG demanding my American Express Card and TAO talking about the communist plot through fluoridation.

  222. “Absurd.”

    says hoo?

  223. says eye!

  224. Yes, because any wealth distribution must be “massive”.

    Well, it is massive and the proposed nationalized medicine bill takes massive to elephantine levels. Now, you might argue that it doesn’t need to be so massive. But I’d argue that government has no business in this business. And you might argue that as a tool of democracy it has business in any business the majority vote it for. But I’d argue that the Constitution sets up a distributed republic with specific prohibitions of power to counter that very notion.

    Obviously the Constitution is designed for limited government. Obviously, government is not being properly limited right now, eg because of the reliance on absurdities like incorporation (where “Congress” suddenly refers to any entity of government, Executive or State or local). So we’re basically sitting here trying to pin down where it could be if we were following the rules written down.

    Which suggests that the rules weren’t good enough, and if we’re going to do it again we’re not going to make it any less limited than the first time around.

  225. John,

    I’m a libertarian for utilitarian reasons as much as anything else, and I’m also a minarchist. That said, I don’t see where the federal government has the legal authority to do this in the first place. I know that’s a losing argument, since we already have Medicare, etc., but I do believe that’s a correct reading of the Constitution.

    I honestly believe–not from fanatical devotion to the free market or from anything other than my interpretation of the facts–that a freer market in healthcare would benefit all of us. Including the very large percentage of us who have healthcare but are tired of the bureaucratic nonsense and those who have limited access to healthcare. But I’m unlikely to get a chance to prove my hypothesis.

    The free market when allowed to operate does great things. Virtually every home has a TV, and a very large percentage of homes have cable or satellite. Not subsidized, not legally required. And, of course, there are thousands of other examples. Medical service is a commodity, like everything else in the marketplace.

  226. “No. I would just like to think that there is something in between MNG demanding my American Express Card and TAO talking about the communist plot through fluoridation.”

    guess i missed that. i thought we were talking about theft from one group of individuals in the interest of another group of individuals.

  227. Ad Mahna Mahna–an argumentative fallacy involving an attack on someone for being a Muppet.

  228. “I honestly believe–not from fanatical devotion to the free market or from anything other than my interpretation of the facts–that a freer market in healthcare would benefit all of us. Including the very large percentage of us who have healthcare but are tired of the bureaucratic nonsense and those who have limited access to healthcare. But I’m unlikely to get a chance to prove my hypothesis.”

    I agree completely. The fact that the government helps people doesn’t mean we have to have a government controlled market. I think Friedman’s idea of a negative income tax is probably the best idea. Give everyone a floor income and the ability to buy their own insurance. And then let charities do the rest. But according to many on this thread, any redistribution of wealth is communism. I am sure if Friedman were alive today; it would be news to him that he was part of the international communist conspiracy.

  229. john:

    did you not expect to find that there are varying views among the libt. crowd? i think milt’s ideas on reverse taxation are horrible.

    i think ayn rand had fantastic points about greed and value, but i’m not an athiest.

    so what’s the big surprise?

  230. “did you not expect to find that there are varying views among the libt. crowd? i think milt’s ideas on reverse taxation are horrible.

    i think ayn rand had fantastic points about greed and value, but i’m not an athiest.

    so what’s the big surprise?”

    Of course it varies. I think Milt’s ideas on reverse taxation are great. But, that doesn’t make me a liberal or any sort of a collectivist.

    I understand the points about the government not doing anything. I am sympathetic to them. I admit above, that it may be that human beings are incapable of sipping from the government well. And that once you start they wont’ stop and you will always end up where we are now. But saying that is different than saying any government intervention or redistribution is wrong.

  231. Good now I will never buy at Whole Foods, it’s a very rich peoples store anyways and I was buying some meat

  232. But saying that is different than saying any government intervention or redistribution is wrong.

    Not necessarily. Maybe you think it’s wrong because it will be abused because government will always be used as a tool for the whims of whoever can control it, and therefore its grip increases monotonically. Thus, the point is to minimize its power and minimize its ability to be centralized while retaining the protection of property rights feature which acts as a self-defense contract between citizens and between nations.

    Which is to say, if the thing we call “government” is the thing we can’t get rid of without having to deal with true anarchy, let’s divest it of threats to property. Then come up with institutions to do the rest, which are simply voluntary associations that can and will adjust to our needs without the frictions and moral impositions associated with taxes and regulations.

    Of course, in terms of society’s benefits, this assumes that — if it’s the case that charity isn’t enough, so to speak — resentment from being overtaxed has a greater social cost than the social benefit of a “safety net”. But then, if we wanted it to abstract it in that way for purposes other than recordkeeping, we’d be approaching collectivist-ville.

  233. “Of course, in terms of society’s benefits, this assumes that — if it’s the case that charity isn’t enough, so to speak — resentment from being overtaxed has a greater social cost than the social benefit of a “safety net”.”

    That depends on the nature of the safety net and the amount of over taxation. Honestly, we can have a lot of safety net before people revolt over taxes. But, the government seems more intent on stealing the money for their chronies rather than providing a safety net.

  234. But, the government seems more intent on stealing the money for their chronies rather than providing a safety net.

    That’s because socializing parts of an economy usually entail freezing current conditions in legislation, and only adjusting according to an inadequate algorithm or when something breaks. The result is a huge deadweight loss and tons of rent-seeking.

    It’s like balls rolling down an incline, taken by hand to slide down instead. Friction results; maybe somebody gets wise and rotates it to reduce friction, but then they hurt their finger because they can’t spin it fast enough. The other guy laughs at the first guy in his isolation until his ball melts helplessly while the other ball, chunks missing, falls off the side.

  235. “I understand the points about the government not doing anything. I am sympathetic to them. I admit above, that it may be that human beings are incapable of sipping from the government well. And that once you start they wont’ stop and you will always end up where we are now. But saying that is different than saying any government intervention or redistribution is wrong.”

    well, that’s more reasonable than some, i’ll give you that

    but i disagree. i do believe it is wrong, and i do believe that charity would not be AS effective as govt. in providing a safety net. i believe it would be MORE effective.

    i’m confounded by the notion that govt., the most inefficient thing going, is somehow magically greater than the sum of it’s parts. that makes zero sense.

  236. re: Balls, inclines

    Gotta say that’s a darned odd analogy to come up with. Not wrong, just oh so random.

  237. Thank you. I try.

    I’m always interested in analogies to simplify such situations to the kernel of importance. They’re the lime juice to my muddy idiotfish fillet.

  238. Further, it does no good to lump anyone who doesn’t buy into the most radical view with everyone on the Left up to and including communists and advocates of a command and control economy.

    John, if you accept the principle that need trumps self-autonomy, then if you aren’t a communist it’s only out of either cowardice or a refusal to follow your principles to their necessary and obvious conclusions.

    I realize that you’re trying to argue that you’re not saying that need creates a right, but that you still want the state to do “something” to help – but think about that for a minute. The resources the state uses are acquired by compulsory taxation. The state will use whatever level of force is required to make sure citizens comply with its tax laws. If I don’t pay my taxes, the state will seize my property and put me in jail. If I resist their attempt to do either of these things, the state will kill me if need be. So basically you’re saying that the state should take the money it must be willing to kill to get and apply it to activities you yourself admit aren’t either defending or advancing any actual right. Once you’re willing to say that, why shouldn’t go the full Lenin?

    People on the left are complaining about how “uncivil” the tea baggers are, but as far as I am concerned they aren’t uncivil enough. There are people being held in jails today on tax charges so that millionaires can get subsidized Medicare. There are people being held in jails today so that some asshole can get a grant for his shitty art. There are people being held in jails today so that Obama can get new pictures taken of Air Force One. People should be full of much more rage about these things than anyone is demonstrating right now. And when you buy into that system even just a little, because “health care is important”, it’s disappointing.

    I can understand a tactical concession that some kind of health care has to be provided for the indigent, to prevent some worse and more expensive total nationalization from taking place, but that’s different from thinking it’s good.

  239. A Crazy (Health Care) Idea

    The Obama Administration’s plan will not work. Taxing private health insurers to pay for a public health plan will raise private insurers’ costs, therefore premiums, driving people to the public plan. This will reduce the tax base that supports the public option, doom private insurers, and leave the public plan unfunded except for taxes ? but there is a better way:

    Our goal is to give everyone health insurance, so let’s just do it – eliminate Medicare, Medicaid, all Government Employee Health Insurance, (including Congress), Military and VA domestic facilities, (except combat injury rehabilitation), and Workers Compensation medical benefits.

    Let’s provide every taxpayer, (citizen or not), with a voucher to obtain basic coverage from any health insurance company. Insurers who redeem vouchers for premium dollars must insure anyone who presents a voucher so everyone will be insured. Insurers will compete for the healthiest people by providing good service and extra benefits. Insurers cannot decline anyone, so they will focus on attracting healthy people and making their people as healthy as possible.

    Let’s pass legislation to prohibit litigation to recover medical expenses – no matter who causes injury or illness, everyone is covered by their own insurer and no one can sue to recover.

    We can pay for this with the savings from eliminating all other health programs and imposing a 2% sales tax, (including internet and service transactions). Businesses will save from no longer paying health benefits and Workers Compensation, which will cause employment to rise and help the economy. Health care for all will be about $3trillion in 2011 and savings from eliminating these 6 programs will cover about $2trillion. A 2% tax on a $50 trillion GDP will cover the other $1trillion. Is this a crazy idea, or what?

    Bill Hartigan, CIC, ARM, AAI
    Littleton, Colorado

    (PS, I’m not a health insurance agent)

  240. Our goal is to give everyone health insurance…

    The goal is to make sure everybody has a decent level of health care, which is not the same as having health insurance.

    Hopefully, I’m not being pedantic. It makes a big difference in how one thinks about solutions.

    Charity, health savings accounts, mutual aid organizations, simply having the government help pay health care bills for the truly need, are all ways of providing health care that won’t be adequately considered if policy makers are too focused on the idea that everyone has to have health insurance.

    And putting a bunch of restrictions on insurance companies’ ability to charge the rates they see fit and to screen based on pre-existing conditions subverts the basic concept of insurance.

  241. And putting a bunch of restrictions on insurance companies’ ability to charge the rates they see fit and to screen based on pre-existing conditions subverts the basic concept of insurance.

    You mean it subverts the basic concept of for-profit insurance. That’s why we need a public insurance plan. Social security doesn’t get to exclude people who might live too long, as that would subvert the basic concept of social insurance.

  242. If I were president, I’d spend the trillion on making humans invulnerable to aging, disease, or injury. Robot bodies, genetic engineering, some combination of the two.

  243. You mean it subverts the basic concept of for-profit insurance. That’s why we need a public insurance plan. Social security doesn’t get to exclude people who might live too long, as that would subvert the basic concept of social insurance.

    Yes, I meant for-profit insurance. One could have public, non-profit or for-profit insurance, or the mutual aid societies that I mentioned could also offer non-profit or for-profit insurance.

    Government-provided healthcare could also be provided through other means than insurance, profitable or not.

    So why the fixation, the zooming-in-on the solution that “we need a public insurance plan” without considering other possibilities?

  244. I can’t wait for the teardown of state-level consumer protections in health insurance to do for patients what the Delaware regime on credit cards did for this country’s borrowers (and the global economy).

    I guess I missed it the last time the Visa slavers came around. Nobody is forced to use a credit card. Don’t sign contracts you can’t understand.

    Amen to that. If you didn’t like the terms being offered by Chase, MBNA, or BoA, there was absolutely nothing keeping you from applying to Amalgamated Bank of Chicago or Pulaski Bank & Trust, for example, for a credit card.

    What’s that? You say they wouldn’t give you a line of credit bigger than a few Benjamins, or that maybe your credit wasn’t good enough for you to get a card from them at all? Gee, I wonder why it works that way?

  245. Dear MNG,

    “Harming someone through callous withholding of something you know they need and will be seriously harmed if they go without is really no different than callously harming them yourself (well, at least not different enough to not make both situations warrant coercion as a possible response).”

    Really? So my callous withholding of my food and money from the starving people in my nation and world is the same thing as my starving them? And so they are justified in forcing me to give up all of my food and money so that I am one of the starving people? And then I can claim anything from those who have more and use force to obtain it?

    What a vicious short sighted barbaric approach to reality.


    Just like we want people to have equal access to certain base levels of police protection, we want people to have equal access to certain base levels of health care access. Neither can be defined with mathematical precision. But politically and pracitically these things can be worked out.”

    True, but only because there is no “we”. However, if individuals and groups of individuals don’t try to decide what “we” want, then the answers can be defined with mathematical precision: zero.

    That’s how much money should be extorted from people for anything. It is the only moral and legal option, for the one common law, the one common law, is thus: NO STEALING.

    No stealing for crack, no stealing for police, no stealing for medicine, no stealing for food, no stealing for education. No stealing, not by anyone or for anything.

    Please stop with this nonsense. You are more than willing to advocate the use of force, and government force, to coerce people to live up to your values too (stopping robbers, murderers, squatters, etc). Get off the high horse.

    There is a major and fundamental difference there. Offensive force, used to steal, is wrong. Defensive force, used to stop the stealing, is right. So what you are saying by “get off the high horse” is “abandon your morals, principles, and the law and join the insatiable maw of the mob and start whining for your piece of other peoples property”. While you and the vast majority of people may and do choose to steal, it is not right or necessary.

    “Like police protection I think the government can and should provide basic health care to everyone because people morally deserve such care and the government is in the best position to guarantee it to all.

    The only way to morally deserve something is to earn it.

    “To each their own.” Radical concept, eh?

    Regards,

    Patriot Henry

  246. Dear John,

    Statements like yours are where libertarians go off the rails and get accused of having no values beyond selfishness. I don’t think freedom and capitalism has to mean that we never as a collective society do anything to help anyone in need.

    So when one is free one can be forced to pay for the needs of other people? And capitalism, based upon the mutual voluntary trade, consists in part of forced non-voluntary seizure and redistribution of property?


    “Why don’t you just start looking into fluoridation as a plot of the welfare state? You are not that far away.”

    Fluoridation is a plot of the flip-side of the welfare state, that is to say, the warfare state. WWII ended in 1945 and by 1947 our nation was giving poisonous waste materials left over from war production to infants.

    But of course, we can trust the government, because they are here to help us.

    Regards,

    Patriot Henry

  247. Dear MNG,

    “A much better way would be to take property from some people and use that property to induce the doctor to tend to the person. But it’s all going to be enslavement to you I imagine…”

    Why is it better to steal from some people rather than have many people give according to their ability and inclination to pay? And regardless of a persons views, forcing one to labor or pay a portion of ones labor is slavery. You can call it taxation, but it is what it is – stealing the time and work of another person AKA slavery.

    “But of course a man may make another person “his slave” if the contrary course would cause a person to die or suffer serious harm. There are worse things morally than slavery for goodness sake!”

    I don’t earn much but pay thousands of dollars in taxes. How about giving me a few grand so I can buy some steaks and get a dental appointment etc? Are you going to follow your alleged morals, or do I have to get a tax collector backed by a SWAT team to get you to pay up on your moral obligations?


    “Like I said, if a person steals an apple from a stand and a cop pulls his club and says “put that apple back or else” and he does I guess you could say we all just supported an act of “enslavement”, but I’m betting you are not only cool with that, you would cheer…”

    The apple wasn’t earned. Slavery is the theft of earnings.

    Regards,

    Patriot Henry

  248. Dear John,

    “Because civil society, while it does a lot, doesn’t do everything. There is nothing unreasonable about the idea that government can tax and take that money to fill in the gaps of civil society and make things a bit less brutal. I am sorry I don’t find anything wrong or unreasonable with that idea in principle. I certainly find a lot unreasonable about its execution.”

    One can not prevent brutality by brutal acts. What is the principle of taxation in a “democratic”/republican system such as ours? Group A the voters picks Group B the politicians who decide how and how much of Group C the taxpayers property to take and then how and how much of this property to give to Group D the welfare/warfare state recipients. What is the principle behind this complex system that you support?

    “It might be that I am naive. That no matter how well intentioned, government invariably goes berserk and if you try and do anything you end up with a Byzantine welfare state like we have today. I am willing to admit that possibility.”

    You are being naive. No offense intended – but that’s the word that fits.

    As Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” – and as Mao said “Power comes from the barrel of a gun”. This political power is the power to use guns, and the threat of their use, and cages, and the threat of their use. As soon as anyone is given this magic power of being able to use force and the threat of force, either directly or indirectly, then they become corrupt.

    So not only are you naive – you are corrupt. Again, no offense intended, but that’s the word that fits.

    Your willingness to admit the possibility that you have erred demonstrates that you might not be irrevocably doomed. You can save yourself yet if you so choose. Or you can maintain your beliefs and overtime you’ll demand more and more of other people’s property for yourself.

    “But I am not willing to rant and rave a bunch of nonsense that any taxing of me to help anyone else is immoral slavery.”

    I go hungry so others may eat. I go without medical care so others may receive medical care.

    If that’s not immoral slavery, what is?

    How about the Chinese peasants and Russian poor who pay taxes their government loans us to pay for our Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security? If it’s not immoral slavery to rob and impoverish poor Americans, then surely there is nothing immoral or slavish about robbing and impoverishing the poor of other nations to feed, clothe, and medicate Americans, right?

    Regards,

    Patriot Henry

  249. PEOPLE! This left/right fight has made both sides incoherent. Nevermind Mackey…I challenge you guys on the left and right…and tell me why the Whole Foods plan is not the best bet yet. From a liberal point of view and a conservative view everyone wins. 1)the individual pays no premiums 2)The individual gets money to cover most of the deductable 3)Individual is incent-ed to shop around and make wise decisions on their health 4)Insurance companies dont get to control the patients choices as much. 5)In addition the employee gets the extra to keep if they have any of the money left over. How is this not the best plan, possible? If Obama proposed this and the right opposed it….Then I would feel exactly the same way. How about the rest of you guys on the right?

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