David Frum Would Respect Libertarians More if They'd Quit Worrying About Calorie Labeling and Talk About Medicare Reform


On the Twitter machine, David Frum, whose response to the passage of ObamaCare was to scold Republicans for not playing along with liberal reformers, now says he'd "respect libertarians much more if they'd propose Medicare reforms instead of grousing about calorie counts on menus."  And you know what? Maybe libertarians should start paying a little more attention to Medicare—and, yes, perhaps even talking about reform, tough as that may be.

Insert grousing here.

I know, I know. This would represent a radical departure for many libertarians, who as a cohort have failed to make entitlement reform a priority. After all, it's not as if anyone at this particular libertarian publication has repeatedly praised elected officials like Rand Paul and Paul Ryan for talking about reforming Medicare. Come to think of it, libertarians haven't defended the idea of voucherizing the program or examined bipartisan plans to do so. Nor have libertarians argued in favor of consumer-driven health care or supported folks proposing consumer-driven reforms.  

Neither has anyone here written about how competitive HMOs might serve as an antidote to Medicare's central-pricing woes, or why we ought to free doctors from the system's federal pricing caps.

And by golly no one at Reason has ever, ever excoriated Republican leadership or Tea Party activists for their timidity regarding making Medicare reform a priority.

Nor can you really say that libertarians have any history of concern about Medicare, or interest in designing plans to keep the system from imploding. This magazine, for example, made no reference to the need to defuse America's ticking entitlement time bomb in 2003. And no, the fine folks at The Cato Institute weren't proposing ways to avert serious fiscal problems within the program back in 1985, or pushing patient-centered reforms in the early days of the Clinton presidency. And oddly enough, it seems our wonky friends at The Mercatus Center have ignored the looming Medicare crisis and proposals for reform as well. How strange!

What has been going on? What can explain this oversight? I do not know for sure. But clearly, Medicare reform is one of those little-noticed public policy issues that, for whatever reason, just hasn't managed to penetrate the libertarian consciousness. And perhaps most of the world's libertarians were simply too distracted by mandatory calorie labeling to notice it.

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  1. how does it work?

  2. Calorie labeling? Why didn’t he just go with the good ole standby of “If libertarians would just put down the bong for 5mins and address medicare reform…”

    1. I think Tony has that phrase trademarked.

      1. I just put down my bong and solved the Medicare quandary!

        Medicare program abolished in 2010.

        If you have any more programs that need “reforming” just let me know Frum, you insufferable cunt. I can balance the budget in about five minutes, including bong hits.

        1. The Egregious Frum?

        2. HEY! Frum is not insufferable >:(

    2. I type and hit my vaporizer at the same time. I’m never putting it down!

  3. How does it work?

  4. Wait… we’re supposed to be talking about Medicare reform? How come I never get the memo?

    1. You didn’t get the new decoder ring.

  5. 5 minutes of dictatorial power, that’s all I’d need to run the paper shredder.

    1. It would take a lot more than five minutes, but you’re on to something.

  6. Every week I can’t wait for the progs and neocons to tell me which issues I should be addressing. YAY!

  7. I will translate David Frum for you:

    Assholes like Michael Bloomberg support calorie counts on menus. But we are not supposed to point out that this makes Bloomberg a fucking asshole, until Medicare is reformed.

    Michael Bloomberg must be left to be a colossal cunt in peace, because all energies must be devoted to reforming Medicare.

    1. Who will fund poor David’s lifestyle of access to important people if he loses Bloomberg’s patronage?

  8. Well I don’t know why Frummy’s panties are in a knot about our hatred of calorie labeling. Isn’t he part of the No Labels crowd?

    1. Labels for thee and not for me?

      1. Statists are all the same. When they say ‘No X’, they really mean ‘No X unless the right-thinking want it’. I guess calorie labels are ok with the right-thinking but political labels aren’t. What a bunch of transparent whores that lot are.

  9. He may be a nice man (I have no idea) but as a political commentator, David Frum sucks more ass than Jenna Jameson during her Blew Period.

    1. No he’s not. He specializes in that particular punditry that left-wingers love: having a “Republican” espouse liberal views because no one else but unfunny comedians can espouse left-wing moonbattery with a straight-face.

      1. His political advice is also seriously inept and shitty.

  10. Going after Frum is like going after Frank Rich.

    Low-lying fruit.

    1. Frum’s not even still on the tree. He’s rotting on the ground.

    2. Besides, Rish has better man-tits

  11. It isn’t even a libertarian position to be against printing calorie counts.

    Milton Friedman said the problem with the Ford Pinto wasn’t that Ford skimped on a cheap part that was responsible for a tiny numbers of deaths, the problem was that Ford knew about it and the consumers didn’t.

    In Friedman’s world, Ford would be compelled to disclose the known faults of the car and consumers would be free to choose the car based on their own risk tolerance.

    So yeah, calorie counts posted on menus aren’t exactly nanny statism. They show the food for what it is and let the consumer make the choice.

    Labeling is an out of control phenomenon but calorie counts are probably the weakest example.

    1. Alternately, there would be an impartial clearing house (Consumer Reports, for example) that would gather that information and release it to the public. This would ensure that the information was accurate, accessibly formatted, and relevant.

      1. When are you going to start this Kon-soomer Ree-ports thing? Surely it can’t already exist.

        1. It wouldn’t matter even if it did…I mean, no one would crash test cars without the government. Who would do it, the insurance companies? HA! They wouldn’t get past an acronym, like IIHS or something.

    2. If somebody wants to sell “mystery dinner” from a dented can, that’s the right of the company to do that. And the right of the consumer to buy it.

      I hope that person doesn’t invite me over to dinner though… because declining their invitation would be… awkward.

      Once one company starts labeling with things like calorie counts the health nuts will beat a path to their door. Then all the government has to do is prevent fraudulent labels.

      Or let a private rating agency figure it out, if you prefer.

    3. The calorie counts on menu applied to chains that already posted their menus online for anyone to read if they want the info. Some of the stores even had the calorie counts on the wall near the counter, but that’s not good enough. It has to be on a sign that is using X font, displayed inside the menu itself.

      This wasn’t about having information freely available.

    4. Except “food” isn’t a product that Taco Bell invented, nor are calories. High calorie counts aren’t a “defect” either. There’s a pretty wide chasm between a car with a design flaw which may kill consumers, as opposed to a 7 layer burrito that everyone knows has a lot of calories in it.

      Ie, the 7 layer burrito isn’t acting outside of its design specifications, where the Ford Pinto was.

      Now, if Taco Bell were adding some super-secret chemical to their food to make it taste better, and it was causing poisoning deaths, that would be a different matter.

      1. taco bell didn’t invent calories

        Damn Straight.

      2. the 7 layer burrito isn’t acting outside of its design specifications

        Until the gov’t changes its specifications for food, at least.

      3. if Taco Bell were adding some super-secret chemical to their food to make it taste better…

        I might be willing to eat the stuff.

      4. And oddly, they are more than happy to decry Taco Bell or McDonalds. But, try applying that to, say, Daniel or La Bernadin.

    5. Except that making a gnat’s ass accurate calorie count of fresh food prepared to order is next to impossible, especially for a small resturant. Requiring such a thing encourages the processed mass produced meals (as it easier to keep the portions consistant). You’re either being disingenuious or woefully ignorant about what you want restaurants to do by providing calorie counts.

    6. good post. i like calorie labeling. but (disclaimer) i am a weight classed athlete.

      calorie labeling does not decrease consumer or producer choice. producers aren’t prohibited from selling happy meals in san fran and consumers aren’t prohibited from buying 4 lokos. but labels let us know what’s in there and make an informed decision.

      *if* we choose to

  12. To David Frum, discussion of Medicare Reform must surround expanding the program, increasing funding or adding new regulatory framework around it.

    Anything else isn’t “reform”.

  13. No labels, baby, no labels.

  14. You know, at least all the Democrat turncoats that Repugnicunts love like Joel Kotkin, Juan Williams, Doug Schoen, Mickey Kaus, et al. are still actually fairly liberal and take down left-wing talking point from the left-side of the spectrum. David Frum is a one-act Canadian stripper who’s main specialty is to be able to spread his asshole wide while George Soros jams dollar bills in it. Frum is Bush’s Jr. many many many many awful legacies to this country.

    1. Your comment is but one reason why nobody takes libertarians seriously.

      1. Libertarians aren’t taken seriously because of RINOS and DINOS?

  15. To David:

    FourLoko! FourLoko! FourLoko! FourLoko! FourLoko!

  16. To Mr. Frum:


    What someone think of the children?

    1. Won’t, not what.

      1. Got a little excited there?

        1. Yeah, it sounded a lot better in my head than it looked on paper.

  17. You’re an exception, Peter. Frum won’t respect you no matter what libertarians do. You’re way too much of a tirsome asshole to command respect from anybody, even a toad like Frum.

    1. You’re way too much of a tirsome asshole to command respect from anybody, even a toad like Frum.

      That is odd…

      If that is true then why does Peter make the entire left wing blogosphere tremble when ever he enters the room?

      well i guess only most tremble….many of the women left wing bloggers cream their panties instead.

      1. I woulda gone with the standard “project much?” angle, but I see now that the “panty cream” angle is much more effective.

      2. A better word is quiver. Or maybe tingle.

      3. Odd… one would think Max would have an 8×10 glossy of Frum hidden under his mattress…

    2. tirsome

      I’m slowly becoming convinced that Edward/Max/Lefiti is someone’s elaborate joke. Otherwise, how do you explain the fact that he makes ludicrous spelling and grammar mistakes every time he insults us?

      1. He did leave out “suck Ron Pual’s cock”, which leads me to suspect the Max Simulator has some kind of virus…

  18. So, he would respect libertarians more if they would expend their efforts on trying the impossible and failing, rather than taking on reforms they have a shot at passing. That is, he will “respect” them so long as they are unable to achieve any policy changes. Shocking, for a statist like Frum. As if libertarians need or want the respect of scum like that anyway.

    1. As if libertarians need or want the respect of scum like that anyway.

      This could have been the whole article.

    2. Here’s a pretty easy reform. It’s so easy you don’t even have to change a law. Start talking about price shopping. Every day, some poor schlub that’s been socialized not to price shop pays more for an MRI using ‘insurance’ than if he’d just paid cash.

      If everybody price shopped, the hidden cost-shifting would be exposed and we’d quickly hit the point where the socialism lite we’ve got now would need to be abandoned to avoid a total collapse of medical care.

      You can get a $500 MRI in my area from a dedicated facility. To cover the cost of the freebie care hospitals are forced to give, some charge over $4000 for the same test (zero difference in quality). If you’ve got a 20% copay, cash is cheaper at the dedicated facility.

      Here’s another easy libertarian medicare reform. Either negotiate a nationwide license for the CPT codes everybody has to use or abandon CPT and adopt an open alternative that doesn’t handcuff the medical market with the inability to discuss price.

      This wouldn’t “fix” medicare but it would certainly improve it.

  19. Actually i was going to write a complaint today to reason magazine that they don’t cover calorie labeling enough.

    1. for a magazine called Calorie Counting Weekly….wait, I’m doing it wrong.

      Oh well….DRINK!

  20. I’d respect David Frum much more if he stopped posting ridiculous straw man drive-bys against libertarianism.

    1. He’s just seeking acceptance from his new pals.

  21. Frum is a Canadian who think likes a Canadian and when he sees something like calorie counting that annoys the Hell out of Americans, to the extent that it becomes the butt of late night tv jokes, he assumes that it must be part of that dangerous alien philosophy of YY-libertarianism because the only Americans he personally knows in his beauticious bubble think like Canadians too. Calorie counting is a good issue to raise because it has general appeal; Medicare reform is a much tougher sell given the bribery involved runs in the other direction.

    1. “his beauticious bubble” Bingo! Most of these commentators write their columns or espouse their views so that other people who think like they do can congratulate them on a job well done.

  22. [blinks]

    [stares at you, uncromprehendingly and slightly uncomfortably long]


  23. Philosophy is hard.

    1. But I’m not!

    2. Writing insults is hard!

      Let’s go shopping!

  24. If Reason were put together more like Time or USA Today, Frum might look at it. Notice, I didn’t say “read”. We need more scary infographics.

  25. Here’s a Medicare reform: end it for everyone making over $30,000 per year, and call it Medicaid.

  26. If consumers want to know how many calories food items have, and many do, businesses that provide that information will benefit, as long as the costs to research and display the information are economical. No regulation needed, once again.

    And calories aren’t bad anyway: they’re a measure of the energy the food provides, which is the basic reason why we eat in the first place.

  27. Frum is a guy who coined the term “Axis of Evil” as a Bush speechwriter, and who now makes a living stabbing the conservatives who employed him in the back socially & politically. Interesting that he’s turning his attention to libertarianism… In the light of the New York Mag article that appeared today, it makes me wonder whose talking points he’s getting via email each morning.

  28. I’d respect David Frum a lot more if he’d take a loaded pistol, disable the safety, aim it at the middle of his forehead, and pull the trigger. I’m sure it would raise his IQ at least 50 points.

  29. Ah, David. When you gaze long into the Beltway, the Beltway also gazes into you.

  30. Snark Attack! Good job, Pete. The irony deficient need their supplements after mental mestruation.

  31. I wish environmentalists would put down the bong occasionally and advocate nuclear power.

  32. For information on what world Libertarians are doing, please see:

  33. I am not surprised that Mr. Frum would respect people more if they would abandon their faith.

    If Libertarians were capable of behaving in politically constructive ways they wouldn’t be Libertarians. . . they would be Ron Paul Republicans.
    -Jahfre Fire Eater

  34. It’s pretty clear that Frum simply makes shit up as he goes along. Like every other liberal.

    1. Exactly. He’s got a mental construct in his head of what libertarians think about, and he can’t be bothered to cross check it against reality.

  35. I thought he was in favor of no labels? Is that except on food?

  36. Once again, Frum feels free to spout off remarks that display his utter ignorance of the subject at hand.

    Are we surprised by this? Has this guy ever bothered to inform himself of the actual facts any subject he’s opined on? Has he ever displayed any relictance to talk shit about things he obviously hasn’t bothered to research?

    1. I’d respect you a lot more if you would stop hurting me.

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