Libertarian History/Philosophy

The Best Answer to Voter Ignorance? Smaller Government!

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George Will has an interesting column about Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, by George Mason University's Ilya Somin. Somin—who explained to Reason TV in 2012 why he thought the individual mandate was unconstitutional and a threat to liberty—contends that citizen ignorance is a major problem because it leaves government power essentially unchecked and unaccountable.

As Will summarizes:

Voters cannot hold officials responsible if they do not know what government is doing, or which parts of government are doing what. Given that 20 percent thinks the sun revolves around the Earth, it is unsurprising that a majority is unable to locate major states such as New York on a map. Usually only 30 percent of Americans can name their two senators. The average American expends more time becoming informed about choosing a car than choosing a candidate. But, then, the consequences of the former choice are immediate and discernible….

A typical argument is that such rational ignorance on the part of voters can be remedied by getting voters to become more knowledgeable. Somin goes in a different direction, says Will:

A better ameliorative measure would be to reduce the risks of ignorance by reducing government's consequences — its complexity, centralization and intrusiveness. In the 19th century, voters' information burdens were much lighter because important federal issues — the expansion of slavery, the disposition of public lands, tariffs, banking, infrastructure spending — were much fewer.

Read the whole thing. And watch Somin discuss Obamacare below.

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  1. Or we could indict high school civics teachers for negligence. But let’s face it, Big Government thrives on voter ignorance.

    1. Bingo. Big Gov is apparently the answer for ignorant voters. It takes, apparently, a pretty well-informed voter to understand that Big Gov is not the answer to most problems.

  2. I read that this morning. Whatever you do, don’t read the comments. It is like a black hole of stupid. I am not sure which is more disturbing, that that many people could be that stupid or that that many people could that stupid while being totally convinced they are correct and completely closed to any idea contrary to their beliefs.

    1. I think it’s related to the Dunning-Kruger Effect. They discount contradictory information because they “know” they are smart and right. So the contradiction must come from someone who is wrong, and probably stupid.

      ( for ref on the theory )

      1. What a terrible way to go through life. I actually get a lot of pleasure from realizing when I am wrong about things or when someone makes a valid point I hadn’t considered. When that happens, you walk a away a little smarter and your thoughts are a little more clear. That to me is one of the greatest pleasures in life.

        1. The wise learn from the mistakes of others.
          Smart people learn from their own mistakes.

          Stupid people don’t learn.

        2. Then I envy the pleasure that awaits you as you realize you’re wrong about just about everything.

          1. Tony thanks for confirming exactly what I am talking about. You really are out of central casting. Stupid, uniformed, profoundly narrow minded, utterly intolerant and incurious, if someone wrote you as fiction, it would never be written off as completely unbelievable.

            1. Even if I don’t always live up to the ideal, a central value of mine is open-mindedness, truly. If something doesn’t work, scrap it and try something new. Best, try something proven to work. You know what doesn’t work? Everything you believe in.

              1. Yeah. You’re so open-minded that your brain has fallen out of your head and is being used as a soccer ball by Mexican kids in the park.

              2. Best, try something proven to work.

                Which is why Tony opposes massive central planning.

                Oh wait…

                Tony strangled off Poe’s Law under the pier a long time ago. He really is beyond parody. He’s like a slightly more 1 dimensional Rand villain, but less self aware.

              3. “Even if I don’t always live up to the ideal, a central value of mine is open-mindedness…”

                Why yes, Tony’s open to Marxism and Leninism.

                1. Don’t forget Maoism!

                  And, a hefty dose of Italian-style Fascism.

                  1. “And, a hefty dose of Italian-style Fascism”

                    Ahem, THAT would be our current Administration.

    2. many people could that stupid while being totally convinced they are correct and completely closed to any idea contrary to their beliefs

      Nowadays that’s called tolerance.

    3. I don’t believe for one second that 20% of the population holds a geocentric view of the solar system. 10%, sure. 10% believes anything. But 20%? No way. More likely people thought it would be hilarious to answer that way.

      1. I think you are right about that. Pollsters never can admit that the act of observing can change a result.

        1. The Dr. Rosenpenis Uncertainty Principle.

          1. Fletch influenced the story he was reporting.

            1. Fletch is the story he is reporting. That’s what makes him Fletch.

          1. What does it mean to “reject evolution”? Not buying the theory as a whole is not the same thing as thinking the universe is 7000 years old.

            1. Well, right from the article:

              The Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project report released Monday found that 33% think “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”

            2. Your discomfort with facts does not have anything to do with your relative expertise about them.

              1. yes Tony, there may in fact be people out there who are as stupid as you are. I am still skeptical of that. But don’t let that stop you from daily trying to prove me wrong.

                1. What parts of evolution science do you not “buy”? I’m very curious.

                  1. Last I checked, there was a raging debate about whether evolution was a consistent, gradual process, or a more “punctuated” process.

                    I lean toward the latter.

                    1. I think that’s X-Men.

                    2. Evolution is randomness. How can it be any of the above? I guess punctuated would describe historical randomness. Gradual works only in the long slog of time. Long slog.

          2. In that case, there’s a religious wrench in some people’s heads. However, even fundamentalist Christians aren’t going around saying the sun orbits the Earth.

            1. I think you are assuming everyone knows what the word “orbit” means.

              1. I’d be surprised if 20% of the population doesn’t get that it means “go around.” It’s commonly used for purposes beyond astronomical, after all.

                1. It’s commonly used for purposes beyond astronomical, after all.

                  Orbit gum has turned an entire generation of people into scientific illiterates.

                    1. I’ll be in my bunk.

      2. Except that there’s nothing wrong with a geocentric view of the solar system. All motion is relative. Sure geocentric models are more complex, but they can describe the solar system just as accurately. Saying that any point, whether the earth or sun or my ass is the center of the solar system or universe or whatever is just as accurate/inaccurate as any other point. Geometrically speaking, spacetime is homogeneous and isotropic.

        1. Okay, but it is a fact that, when looking specifically at the solar system, the Earth orbits the sun. If we’re talking about the universe, you might be right, but when you’re talking about the solar system you aren’t.

          I couldn’t say “the Earth rotates the moon because spacetime is homogenous and isotropic!”

        2. Spacetime is not homogeneous. Differences in velocity and gravity change the perception of distance and time.

    4. “It is like a black hole of stupid.”

      Too right, J. Too fucking right…

    5. JudyJupiter
      1/1/2014 9:16 PM EST
      Oh please, would somebody fire the intern who writes these?

      This woman thinks George Will is intellectually beneath her. Delicious.

      1. That definitely proved Will’s point. This woman is so uninformed that she doesn’t know who George Will is, and she’s also a total statist.

        George Will 1, Judy Jupiter 0

        1. If anything she helped prove his point about people looking for confirmation of their own politics.

      2. Whatever Will’s failings, he is a smart and learned guy. And he’s had a libertarian streak all along–I asked him a question at a luncheon in the 90s that got a pretty libertarian answer.

  3. citizen ignorance is a major problem because it leaves government power essentially unchecked and unaccountable.

    Right. It’s a feature, not a bug. Now who wants another another tax deduction?

    1. Mememe!

    2. I’ll take one, as long as the money comes from rich guys. Take that, rich guys! Ha!

  4. semi-related: just saw this via Instapundit:

    Obama To Americans: You Don’t Deserve To Be Free

    There is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes?especially for the wealthy?our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.

    Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ’50s and ’60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.

    1. Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.

      1. “And let me be clear, when I get through with you, you won’t be.”

    2. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade.

      I have yet to get anything other than incoherent sputtering when I’ve challenged the liberals who claim Bush was a Wall Street deregulator to point out what specific regulations were repealed.

      1. Ask them to name just one. Hilarity ensues.

        1. GLASS?STEAGALL! THE GREAT RECESSION WAS CAUSED BY BUSH REPEALING GLASS-STEAGALL!

          1. Clinton

            1. I know that. I was being sarcastic.

        2. He repealed Sarbanes-Oxley! Signed, repealed, whatever.

      2. Oh yes, the MASSIVE deregulation of the 20’s, you know, the decade the enacted Prohibition.

        Also the decade that preceded almost all of the regulatory agencies.

    3. it’s not as if we and a host of other countries haven’t tried top-down, central planning, either, and the discrepancy between that and a market-based economy is something than only an academic could miss. Or an ideologue.

      1. …the discrepancy between that and a market-based economy is something than only an academic could miss. Or an ideologue.

        But you repeat yourself…

    4. While I was sitting in law school reading enormous tomes full of securities regulations, I guess I should have realized those regulations didn’t exist, because Bush was president.

      Bizarre.

      Also, Obama might not want to talk about bumper stickers, since that seems to be the way his voter communicates. I don’t see a lot of right-wing bumper stickers, but a whole hell of a lot of cars decked out with COEXIST and 20 other ugly-ass stickers.

      1. What’s that, Prius with an “I Heart Obamacare” sticker on it? You want in?

        Pound. Fucking. Sand.

        1. Hummer/Suburban/Excursion with Yellow ribbon indicating a “support” for the troops. WTF?

        2. I once saw a Prius with the following custom license plate: “EFF GAS.”

          We may never reach peak stupid, but that person definitely reached peak smug.

      2. I think that it all depends upon where you live. Here in the southern Denver suburbs I see all kinds of Conservative stickers (“NOBAMA”, “How’s that Hope and Change Working?”, Gadsden Flags, etc.) Team Red stickers way outnumber the handful of liberal ones.

    5. Weird that that Forbes article came out now. Obama gave that speech almost a year ago and I found it JAW-DROPPINGLY stupid. Just an abject attempt to deny history. And NO ONE NO ONE NO ONE ever calls him on this shit. So, why is this dude so late to the party?

      1. The one time anyone ever called Obama on his bullshit was in the first debate with Romney and he fell apart so badly that I think Romney was afraid to do it again out of fear of being seen as a bully.

        The guy is a complete bullshit artist. He completely any intellectual depth or ability to do anything beyond lie and successfully manipulate people.

        1. I was quite surprised that Romney didn’t go in for the kill. Obama is an awful debater.

          1. Obama is an awful debater.

            Romney sucked too.

            1. Surely, but he was better than the president.

          2. I was quite surprised that Romney didn’t go in for the kill.

            Showing right there that winning the election wasn’t as important to him as, I dunno, placating the DemOp media? Doesn’t matter; a Prez who won’t close with and destroy an opponent isn’t much of a Prez, proving (again) that when Romney lost the election, we didn’t really miss out on much.

        2. Obama is like that annoying partisan family member most of us have. They bring up politics to prove their own knowledge and intelligence and once confronted with an argument or evidence contrary to their opinion, they shut down and say they don’t want to talk about politics, or switch to ad hominem attacks.

          Kinda like Tony, except Obama has the full force of the executive behind him.

          1. And gets really angry and pissy when anyone stands up to him

            1. Good Christ, project much you too?

    6. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.)

      The irony being completely lost on the barking trained seals with fucking “HOPE”, “CHANGE” and “YES WE CAN” bumper stickers on their cars and Shepard Fairey posters on the ceiling above their bed.

      It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression.

      Not even worth pointing out here since everybody knows it, but goddamn when will the Hoover austerity shit ever die?

      1. Shoulda scrolled…

      2. Never; that lie is to politically convenient, and the truth, that Progressive attempts to make the economy (particularly prices for agricultural products) more fair created unsustainable overexpansion, too politically inconvenient.

  5. Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.

  6. With a smaller government with more checks and balances, the damage that can be done by the evil, venal, dishonest, and incompetent is naturally limited. That’s why the focus of people who want any kind of freedom should be on having a small or even no government, not on getting the massive government to behave a certain way though elections.

    1. But, but, but “the evil, venal, dishonest, and incompetent” will just go into business and use corporate power to force customers to buy their inferior products! We need government to protect us!

      1. It is stunning, isn’t it, that people worry about corporate power without noticing how most perceived corporate abuses are either government abuses in disguise or are massively enhanced by government.

        1. confirmation bias, isn’t it? If you see the profiteers as venal and evil, but view govt as wise and benevolent, no amount of evidence will cause you to change your mind. At worst, you will concede that even govt occasionally has a bad seed in it but such people are the exception.

          1. It’s not like businesses don’t ever do anything bad–hell, it’s not like any human institution isn’t capable of doing bad things–but it’s a matter of power. Walmart can’t really oppress me on its own. The government can without even trying.

            1. that’s what I mean…I am under no illusion that all corporate chieftains are wonderful people but the notion that everyone in govt is a new level of delusion.

  7. Somin also discussed this on Cato Unbound in October: http://www.cato-unbound.org/is…..government

    1. That’s actually an interesting argument on Cato Unbound, which is nice since they tend to have total idiots taking the anti-libertarian side.

      1. they tend to have total idiots taking the anti-libertarian side.

        Props to Cato for giving us a representative sample.

  8. George Will has certainly gravitated libertarian as he’s gotten older. Too bad he’s pretty much the only pundit to honestly do so.

    1. George Will has certainly gravitated libertarian as he’s gotten older. long as Dems are in charge.

  9. For so long the Left has used the anecdote and emotional appeal to its advantage. Stories like this need to be shoved down their throats at every opportunity.

    It didn’t wait for Shaniquah Irein to get health insurance via the overwhelmed HealthCare.gov federal portal. Irein, 26, had tried by computer, then telephone, as late as 11:55 p.m. Christmas Eve, but couldn’t get though to sign up for Obamacare.

    Having endured a wicked sore throat for days, Irein went to an urgent-care facility Wednesday prepared to foot the bill for a doctor’s visit herself.

    “I’ll just have to pay out of pocket,” she said, handing a credit card to the receptionist at the Doctors’ Office Urgent Care in West Caldwell. She lost her health insurance when she lost her retail job four months ago?

    http://www.nj.com/news/index.s…..e_act.html

    There are going to be hundreds of thousands of stories like this. They should be held up in liberals’ faces at every opportunity.

    1. Remember those “I am the 99%” pictures people posted on FB? Someone should start an “I am Obamacare” thing.

      1. That is a good idea.

    2. there is a whole different lesson here: this woman sought care for a sore throat, the functional equivalent of changing her car’s battery. Does she expect her auto coverage to pay for that?

      If only more people paid out of pocket for routine things, that in itself would be a marked improvement over the current system.

      1. Last I looked, having a sore throat meant you were sick. Yes, I expect my health insurance to pay for things when I am sick. I would expect it to pay for actually fixing my body when it is broke, not just when it is injured in an accident. So yes health insurance is effectively auto repair insurance for your body.

        1. I think the idea is that the market price for routine medical services would be low enough to not require insurance. Insurance would be more like a car warranty for your engine–wouldn’t cover oil changes, tires, etc.

          1. Why does it cost a couple hundred dollars for a doctor to look you over for five minutes before declaring your cold to be viral and sending you home?

            Because he’s being paid for by a third party.

            I doubt a visit like that would cost more than fifty bucks in a free market.

            1. With my wife’s surgery, we had a follow-up visit where the nurse practitioner recommended a new stocking for her leg. It’s something that probably costs a few bucks if we got it at CVS. A staff person warned us later that if we got it from the doctor’s office, which we were about to do, it would cost $90 and not be covered by insurance.

              I’d say that’s a market distortion.

              1. What is truly amazing is that, for some reason, people let the medical industry get away with this crap. When presented with an absurdly high bill, the correct response is: “I am not paying. Fix the bill, or sue me.”

                Consider this analogous scenario. My wife and I go out to restaurant and have a nice meal. The server asks whether we’d like dessert or an after-dinner drink. I order a cup of expresso. Then, when presented with the bill, I discover that I’ve been charged $90 for two fluid ounces of expresso. What am I going to do? I am going to tell the server to fix the bill because he has overcharged me. If he tries to explain that, no, expresso costs $90 and I should have asked the price before I ordered, I am going to say, “Fuck you, I’m not paying.” If he says he’s going to call the cops, I am going to say, “Go ahead.” But it’s not going to happen because no restauranteur would treat his customers as badly as a doctor, or a hospital, or a medical lab.

            2. But that third party doesn’t print its own money. They either pass that cost on to her in the form of higher premiums or use their collective bargaining power to lower the cost of that visit. Insurance companies are free to drop a doctor from their network if the costs are too high.

          2. And if the market creates that, great. But if people are risk adverse and like having their insurance pay for small expenses, that is their choice. I am not going to tell them they have to forgo insurance for routine expenses anymore than I would tell them their insurance must cover this or that category of expenses.

            Just because it will pay for you seeing a doctor when you have a sore throat doesn’t mean it is not “insurance” or objectively any better or worse than less generous insurance.

            1. the market does not “create” that because there is no market in play, not as the term is commonly understood. Third party involvement kills that.

              1. So anytime someone buys insurance, it isn’t a market? That is nonsense. The market most certainly does create that.

                There are high deductible policies available. Some people like them and buy them others do not. That is really all there is to it.

                1. when the state determines which companies can participate in the market, it’s not really a market. When the state tells you that you can’t buy across state lines, that’s not a market. When policies are required to include specific treatments that you may or may not want, neither is that.

                  1. when the state determines which companies can participate in the market, it’s not really a market.

                    Then change that. But that has nothing to do with the question of whether someone should be able to buy or would choose to buy health insurance that covers routine expenses.

                    What you are telling me is that the only reason this person wants such insurance is because the state distorts the market to make her want it. Maybe. But more likely she wants the insurance because she likes the security of having it. At best you are left with telling me that the state makes such insurance cheaper than it might otherwise be. Again, maybe that is the case. But even if it is true, that just means she would buy such insurance if she had more money. That doesn’t mean those who do have more money still wouldn’t purchase such.

                2. There are high deductible policies available.

                  There always were, but now you have to pay a lot more for them.

            2. What market there is in insurance and medical services is so distorted as to not really be a “market” in the economic sense.

            3. Don’t you think a typical oil change would cost more if instead of handing them your debit card you handed them your insurance card? After all, you’re not looking at the price. Why should you? You’re not paying directly. What incentive do you have to go to Prompto (or a clinic) and save a few bucks over going to the dealership (or a hospital)? Why should Prompto (or a clinic) make an effort to keep their price down when the customer isn’t even going to check it?

              If you buy that argument above, then wouldn’t you think routine medical care would cost less if most people payed with their debit card instead of their insurance card?

              1. Don’t you think a typical oil change would cost more if instead of handing them your debit card you handed them your insurance card?

                It might. But so what? If everyone in the world decided prepaying for oil changes was the way to go and as a result of that the price of oil changes went up, that wouldn’t make it right for me to demand they stop because my price has gone up.

                The bottom line is that people should be free to insure for any risk they want. If them doing that distorts the market a bit because insurance companies are less price sensitive than individual consumers, well that is just the way life goes sometimes.

                1. that wouldn’t make it right for me to demand they stop because my price has gone up.

                  Who is demanding that they stop? You’re flogging a straw man again, Tulpa.

                  1. If you are not demanding she stop, then what are you bitching about? Yeah, I assumed you wanted her to stop or you wouldn’t care so much she is doing it.

                    Do you have a point Bo or are you just shitting on the thread making pedantic points? Tell me Bo.

                    1. Libertarians don’t jump to the use of force whenever we see someone doing something we disagree with. All I did was attempt to point out that the third party payer system raises costs for consumers. That’s not a demand that someone forcibly end the third party payer system and forcibly set up a system that I like.

                    2. . All I did was attempt to point out that the third party payer system raises costs for consumers.

                      Sure it does. And in return for that, they get the security of having someone else cover uncertain costs. That is really all there is to it. I can’t for the life of me understand why Libertarians get so upset about it.

                    3. I can’t for the life of me understand why Libertarians get so upset about it.

                      Who is upset? I’m just trying to point out a bit of reality that most people do not understand. You get that the third-party payer system results in higher costs. That’s great. Most people don’t.

                      Trying to cure people of their ignorance is not calling them stupid. No, it’s quite the opposite because if I thought people were stupid I wouldn’t bother to tell them anything.

                    4. Yes, and if there were a true market in healthcare and in health insurance, people could probably buy what the fuck they wanted to. Like a full warranty versus a warranty on major parts.

                    5. Sure pro, but that is a different bitch than complaining about this woman wanting health insurance that covers her seeing a doctor.

            4. “generous insurance”

              Insurance policies may be more or less comprehensive, but they are never generous.

              No insurance policy should ever be generous as this would violate the whole idea of insurance. The policy should pay only for that which its contract obliges, and nothing more.

              Generosity, if it were to exist, would be a vice rather than a virtue in the insurance industry. An insurer could only be generous to an insured at the expense of another insured or other stakeholder.

        2. I expect health insurance to kick in for major things, not for the routine. The additional tests done that she may not have needed, the paperwork for filing her insurance claim, all add unnecessary cost to her final bill.

          1. So what? This woman likes her health insurance to kick in earlier. Who are you to tell her she is wrong?

            1. no, this woman likes the illusion of someone else paying for her care.

              1. Oh, so she is just stupid and doesn’t know what is good for her and needs to have someone step in and tell her what insurance really is?

                Isn’t that what you are saying? I think this women knows full well who is paying for this. What is happening is that she is risk adverse and wants really good health insurance. You like your health insurance a bit different. Good for you. She doesn’t seem to want to tell you what kind insurance you should buy, why are you telling her what she should buy?

                1. I’m saying she has bought into the false definition of health insurance. No one called her stupid but you.

                  1. I’m saying she has bought into the false definition of health insurance

                    That is completely idiotic and on a par with saying she has a “false consciousness”. What you are actually saying is you don’t like her health insurance and think it is a mistake for her to want such. Big fucking deal. I am sure she thinks your insurance sucks too.

                    You can insure for any cost. A lot deductible doesn’t make it not insurance. It just makes it good insurance.

                    1. What you are actually saying is you don’t like her health insurance and think it is a mistake for her to want such

                      some days your ability your ability to shift someone’s argument into what you wish it were is a site to see. This is one of those days.

                      What I am saying, for the how many Nth time now?, is that people have been conditioned to believe that health insurance – unlike its brethren in other areas – has magical powers that cover any and everything, and that no 3rd party is either involved or distorting of prices.

                      She bought what was available because the public as a whole has become conditioned to believe that any medical bill they incur should carry little to not cost for them.

                      Of course, this model distorts the market. How can the presence of a third party do anything but?

                      But what do you want to do about it?
                      I would settle for govt butting the fuck out but since that’s not gonna happen, I am not required to ignore the elephant.

                2. Pointing out that the traditional model of health insurance distorts markets and raises costs is not calling everyone who uses it stupid and is not demanding that every policy be changed.

                  You’re flogging a straw man, Tulpa.

                  1. Pointing out that the traditional model of health insurance distorts markets and raises costs is not calling everyone who uses it stupid and is not demanding that every policy be changed.

                    Then what is it doing? When it snows it makes the roads slick. Well okay, what is the point.

                    And it doesn’t “distort” markets anyway. That people are risk adverse and want to insure against healthcare costs is part of the market. What you are telling me is that “health care markets” are not perfect. That sucks. It sucks the market for healthcare isn’t like the market for gasoline or wheat and close to perfectly efficient. But what do you want to do about it?

                    1. I’d like the opportunity to take my total compensation, including what my employer contributes to the shitty Obamacare-approved insurance policy that I’m stuck with, and use it as i see fit.

                      I’d like others to have the same opportunity as well.

                      That’s not calling people stupid or wanting to force them into an approved plan. No. It’s the opposite. Not allowing people a choice is saying they are stupid. I want people to have a choice because I think they know their own needs better than you, me, or some asshole in Washington.

                    2. I think you should have that opportunity too. But when you get it, there will still be what you call a “third party payer problem”.

                      The problem such at it is is not this woman or anyone else having their insurance pay for seeing a doctor. The problem is the government telling people what they have to insure for and what insurance companies can operate in a given market.

                    3. Now you finally get it. Damn that was difficult getting that through your thick skull.

                    4. I always got it Sarcasmic. It is just that this woman going to a doctor has nothing whatsoever to do with that issue.

                      The only “difficult” thing here is that you can’t seem to understand this story has nothing to do with the problems you think exist.

                    5. So her trip to the doctor costing her more out of pocket than it would have if not for the incentive structure of the third-party payer system has nothing to do with the incentive structure of the third-party payer system.

                      Got it.

      2. Agreed. Urgent care is a fantastic thing. The out-of-pocket payment for that type of thing is effectively accomplished having a high deductible. Insurance is/should be for a catastrophe, not for oil changes and windshield repairs.

        1. My deductibles, for what was a decent plan, doubled this year. Doubled. And the premiums went up significantly, too.

          1. Similar experience here. The Obama plans suck balls. An equivalent plan to what I had was almost triple the price. Because guys with vasectomies need maternity coverage.

            1. you never know when a super bus may come along.

            2. It’s so irksome. I already pay a shitload of taxes to provide welfare to people, so why do I now have to pay more for much less coverage to further subsidize these people? I am not in the giving vein today.

            3. Or a woman without a uterus needs a lifetime supply of free birth control pills.

          2. Just wrote my first check today to pay out-of-pocket for an allergy shot that was covered 100% by insurance 2 days ago. But what the fuck, I’m just too stupid to know that my old insurance plan was terrible and wasn’t really insurance.

    3. She couldn’t call insurance companies directly?

    4. The punch line for Shaniquah is that she would have had to pay out-of-pocket anyway under an OCare plan, because of the high deductibles.

      She’s actually money ahead without insurance, because she hasn’t had to pay premiums.

  10. The political cartoon is a nice touch. “I pried it into his cold dead hands” is what they want to show off as their best joke of 2013? Really? These people being as stupid as they are wouldn’t be so bad if they had a sense of humor.

    1. Humor requires self awareness and an open mind and neither of those two things are exactly strong points for Progs.

      1. A sense of humor requires accepting uncomfortable truths which progs prefer to ignore.

      2. What the fuck are you saying. It’s the progs that OWN any message via their FAR superior ability to mix humor and media in a consumable way. When conservatives try it is sad and rarely funny.
        And don’t try to name the one or two funny conservatives as your rebuttal. Jeff Foxworthy is awesome, I’ll give you that. Penn Jillette isn’t exactly conservative. Dennis Miller hasn’t been funny since he switched teams. Larry the Cable Guy isn’t funny. Oh, and Mallard Fillmore is/was…just…terrible. The others are mostly configned to right wing blogs and nobody knows who they are.

    2. I didn’t get that either, is it really supposed to be funny?

    3. All of them were unfunny. And these are the “best” ones.

  11. Speaking of ignorance and government policy, this article from Eugene Volokh:

    “Laws that ban so-called “assault weapons” often define them with reference to various features, such as a rifle’s having a bayonet mount or “a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon” (to quote the New York assault weapon ban upheld by N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Cuomo (W.D.N.Y. Dec. 31, 2013)). One reason given for focusing on rifles with such pistol grips is that, in the words of the court, this “feature[] aid shooters when ‘spray firing’ from the hip.” I’m not an expert on firearms tactics, but I’m very skeptical of this.

    People “spray firing” a semi-automatic from the hip are thus making themselves less dangerous to the people they’re shooting at (compared to normal firing when one is actually sighting down the barrel). Nor are they making it easier to fire a lot of rounds quickly; one can fire just as quickly in the normal shooting position as when firing from the hip. (To be sure, one can fire more quickly if one doesn’t care to aim before each shot, but that’s true from any position.)”

    This line alone is priceless:

    “There’s a reason that the expression “shoot from the hip” tends to refer to actions that are less effective because they are less deliberate.”

    http://www.volokh.com/2014/01/…..qus_thread

    1. I am not sure what you are doing here so I may be agreeing with you. But a pistol grip doesn’t make a weapon any more accurate or more effective at killing people. It just makes it easier on your hand to shoot it a lot.

      1. I am in agreement with Volokh that there is no rational reason to ban pistol grips on firearms, the motivation comes from either too much Hollywood or some irrational sense that such cosmetic features are more dangerous because they are more ‘scary’ to one ignorant of them.

        1. Okay. That is what I thought but wasn’t sure. It is total nonsense.

    2. Didn’t Duke Nukem fire automatic guns from the hips? I remember he was fairly effective. I mean it was mostly a phallic reference, but whatever works.

    3. this “feature[] aid shooters when ‘spray firing’ from the hip.”

      Maybe. It also aids shooters in firing from any kind of awkward position. Its why I have a pistol grip on my turkey shotgun – you can’t shift your body around when hunting turkeys or they will spot you and bolt, so you take some shots that are awkward.

  12. Will’s argument is essentially that we should enact his preferred utopian laissez-faire system because [insert excuse here]. To a liberal, mass ignorance is a social problem to be solved, not least because an education population leads to better functioning democratic society. How complex government is reflects the complexity of the world. Yes George, life was much simpler back in the 19th century. Everyone knew his or her place!

    1. “To a liberal, mass ignorance is a social problem to be solved”

      But Tony, what if it is not ‘solvable?’ A certain, and significant, amount of political ignorance may be a constant (one could argue it is not even rational to take the time to counter it given the inefficacy of any one person’s vote). If that is the case, then such a condition in a nation with an every more powerful and more complex government could lend itself to some pretty horrible abuses, right?

      1. I can’t disagree that an ignorant population is a disastrous problem for democracy. But then it’s a problem for any society, isn’t it? At least with democracy, the people are fucking themselves.

        The only known way to increase education on a mass scale is to… increase education on a mass scale. Invest lots and lots of public money in education. The Will prescription seems to be “Trust me, I know the best system. We’ll just put that in place and let the unwashed masses continue flinging shit at each other forever.”

        I don’t trust tyrants, even if they wear nerdy glasses and write for a respected newspaper.

        1. I can’t disagree that an ignorant population is a disastrous problem for democracy.

          Or its only a problem for democracy when the government has control of a major portion of everyday life…which is Will’s entire point.

          You’re grasping for a solution to a problem that only exists because of certain conditions.

          1. Conditions which your solution would exacerbate.

          2. So government should only be in charge of the very important things?

            1. So government should only be in charge of the very important things?

              Everything government does is predicated on very real threats of organized violence.

              So government should only be in charge of things where organized violence is justified.

              I don’t think education justifies organized violence.

        2. Invest lots and lots of public money in education

          just stop. No nation “invests” more in education than the US and gets lousy results.

          1. How educated a country’s population is tracks very closely to how much money countries spend on education. The US is pretty high on both lists actually. The problem in the US is that plenty of money is spent on educating people with money, while the poor see less money and less education. As with most problems in this country, this one is traced to the disparity in opportunity based on wealth. If you live in a wealthy neighborhood and have wealthy parents, you can get the best education in the world. If not, not so much. None of this is a problem that presents laissez-faire government as a solution.

            1. per pupil expenditures are disproportionately high in exactly the areas you think need more money. They are getting it as it is. And the same folks who fight against any initiative that gives the poor better options are the ones who created the funding problem in the first place.

            2. Re: Tony,

              How educated a country’s population is tracks very closely to how much money countries spend on education.

              Countries don’t spend money, only individuals spend money. That’s the first flaw in your argument.

              The second is your assumption that education (the level of knowledge and culture possessed by an individual) is contingent upon the money spent on the individual or by the individual. That cannot be true for two reasons: One, everybody is different, and two, education is a personal choice: Only the individual can choose to be educated. No amount of money can turn an unwilling or stubborn dunce into a Rhodes Scholar.

              None of this is a problem that presents laissez-faire government as a solution.

              Or big government for that matter, for the reason I posited: No amount of money is going to turn an unwilling or stubborn dunce into a Rhodes Scholar. Ignoring this fact turns your argument (that you need big governent) into a question-begging fallacy. The solution to education is not government, either small or big.

        3. Personally, I’d prefer a tyrant who leaves me alone and wants to shrink the size and scope of government and to expand the frontiers of individual liberty to a meddlesome, imperial President who wants to expand the frontiers of the total-information-awareness State even if he is fairly elected.

        4. “I don’t trust tyrants”

          I do not either, so let us keep the tools by which tyrants work their evil limited, a government limited in its powers.

        5. Invest lots and lots of public money in education.

          How’s that working out?

        6. The only known way to increase education on a mass scale is to… increase education on a mass scale.

          So, your answer to Bo’s question (“what if it’s not solvable?”) is, “But it is, so long as we spend even more!”

    2. mass ignorance is a social problem to be solved,

      solved by whom, by liberals? They’ve done such a wonderful job thus far turning schools into cauldrons of ignorance, not to mention leading people to believe that only through govt is anything worthwhile possible.

      1. Progressives have actively created ignorance and Tony thinks the solution is more progressives.

        1. Nope. The absolute lowest of the low in terms of ignorance creation are religious institutions. Nowhere else can someone go every week to be fed completely incorrect information. Schools (of the Public variety) may push a PC, progressive agenda while downplaying mathmatics, science, and language skills. But….religious institutions teach 100% Mythology, and somehow convince thier students that this mythology is a substitute for any knowledge gained via scientific method.

          1. Ya Boston College is 100% a den of mythology and ignorance. Fucking Jesuits.

    3. enact his preferred utopian laissez-faire system

      Once again Tony’s stupidity is put on display.

      Laissez-faire is not something to be enacted. Quite the opposite. That’s like saying silence is sound or darkness is light.

      Fucking moron.

      1. That’s unfair. Wait for Obama’s New Economic Plan. It’s a five-year plan that includes carefully planned, managed, and controlled–albeit temporary–market elements in our economy.

        1. Will I be benefiting the people by smelting iron in my backyard?

          1. You must have insider connections.

    4. Re: Tony,

      Will’s argument is essentially that we should enact his preferred utopian laissez-faire system because [insert excuse here]

      But this country had a very limited government -in size – during the first 100 years of its existence. An Utopia is an imaginary scenario that cannot exist in reality, so your objetion is based on a contradiction of your own doing.

      To a liberal, mass ignorance is a social problem to be solved,

      It can’t be solved. By definition, everybody is going to ignore something, so saying that you can solve “mass ignorance” is utopian in itself.

      not least because an education population leads to better functioning democratic society.

      That is utopian as well. What is exactly a “better functioning democracy” and why would it be contingent to the quantity of knowledge from a people? At what POINT would you deem the people knowledgeable enough to have a “better functioning Democracy”? When would that happen?

      How complex government is reflects the complexity of the world.

      You’re begging the question.

      1. But this country had a very limited government –in size – during the first 100 years of its existence.

        Glad you specified because it certainly wasn’t very limited in scope.

        1. The federal government actually was pretty limited in scope for the first, say, 140 years or so.

          There was very little federal regulation of economic issues, for starters. Which is the hook that most of the current Total State is hung on.

  13. Last week somebody here linked to a paper titled Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government. Although the paper’s thesis is arguable, and I think there are a couple of flaws in its method, it did have a finding that struck me as relevant to this topic.

    With a diverse sample of 1111 American adults, the researchers asked an simple True-False question that required 4th grade arithmetic and elementary logic to answer correctly. The odds of answering correctly by selecting an answer at random are 50-50. However, 59% of this sample answered incorrectly.

    If you haven’t read the study, you may be thinking: “Yes, but this was one of those tricky Bayesian probability questions, wasn’t it?” The answer is, “No.”

    The problem was to determine whether a skin cream was effective in treating rashes. It posited a simple 2×2 contingency table, and asked study participants whether the data indicate the the skin cream works or not. After 13 years of education in public schools that cost taxpayers about $150,000 per student, almost 60% of American adults cannot supply the correct answer on a simple True-False test that requires elementary arithmetic and elementary logic.

    1. If you were conspiracy minded, you would almost think that the education professionals intended that result.

      Those results cannot happen by accident. And indeed, human beings do have the innate ability to reason. Moreover, even if the person had no ability to even understand the question, they would have a 50/50 chance of getting it right. But in this case 60% of them got it wrong. That means that they were not just uninformed and guessing. They were engaging in illogic. That, I would submit to you had to be learned and someone taught them that.

      1. Re: John,

        If you were conspiracy minded, you would almost think that the education professionals intended that result.

        I’m not conspiracy minded, but I know economics and economic science will tell me that the dismal failure of public education is not the result of a massive conspiracy by evil geniuses but the result of progressive quality degradation due to a lack of competition. When you have an artificial monopoly, the quality of the product will gradualy diminish as the actors will progressively keep doing less in an effort to get more, as they are not held accountable by a profit/loss test. The reason they are not subjected to a profit/loss test is because the actors are not engaging in direct trading with the interested party at all (the students or their parents), but are instead trading with a 3rd party (the government) which has NO REAL INCENTIVE to keep costs down and thus increase the value of the ware.

        1. True. But that would explain them teaching nothing. They seem to be however teaching illogic.

          1. Re: John,

            They seem to be however teaching illogic.

            Remember that teachers are the result of the same process (the Amerikan Pulbic Skool Seistem dat taut them to red and writ) and so their level of knowledge is already degraded to the point of uselessness. Some teachers I know (the ones that teach my kids) are very good motivators but their level of knowledge is clearly only slightly better than the books they are using, which is frightening when you think about it.

      2. I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but I have usually found that Hanlon’s Razor usually offers more satisfactory explanation. Anyway, there are enough conspiracy facts to satisfy any discerning connoisseur of such things.

        However, the paper’s thesis suggests that an ideological predisposition (either benevolent or malevolent) can cause stupidity. If one has a malicious, statist predisposition, his ideological reasoning will appear to be stupid even if he is quite intelligent in non-ideological analysis. This explains people like Paul Krugman: they have a malicious ideology, and because of this they reason stupidly in matters ideological. It offers no special insight on a guy like Robert Reich, whose every utterance is stupid regardless of whether it has ideological content.

        So this paper’s findings cast doubt on the validity of Hanlon’s Razor as a valid assessment of the probability of whether a conspiracy theory is true. If the holder of a malicious ideology will reason stupidly regardless of his intelligence, it seems that it is no longer possible to distinguish between maliciousness and stupidity in matters ideological.

        If you think that the government has created a really awful mess in the education of children, just wait until you find out what it is planning to fix it.

      3. Ceterum autem censeo imperium scholis delendam esse.

    2. Is it just me or does your link not work?

      1. A separate of study of my html competence reveals that my links fail every time I link to a pdf file. This should work:

        http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/pa…..id=2319992

  14. This argument strikes me as about right. I think it’s sort of related to something I’ve been noticing on a separate line of thought. It strikes me that as government grows larger and more powerful, it controls more and more of our public life. This creates a vital incentive for people to control the government to ensure their way of life. The more choices “we” make, the more important it is that it’s your “we” making the choice. The culture war is both a cause and consequence of too large government.

  15. I get it and I agree: big government represents a constant threat to liberty which must be curtailed. I think most liberals agree on that position. We don’t want big government, we want smart, effective government (which is another seemingly impossible ideal). BUT, you libertarians seem to have a fatal blind spot: you can ONLY recognize threats to liberty from government, and seem INCAPABLE of recognizing the threats to liberty from big business.

    Any concentration of power represents a potential threat to liberty. And when you focus ONLY on the government malfeasance, you render yourselves ideological tools, unwittingly or not.

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