Health Care

The Economic Way of Thinking About Health Care

Health insurance does not grow wild and abundant in nature or fall from the sky like manna.


I realize Mike Lupica is a sports columnist—and that Howard Cosell called sports "the toy department of life"—but maybe that's what makes Lupica's recent declaration about Obamacare all the more representative a reaction. Appearing on a morning cable news program, Lupica declared that "health insurance for all is a noble idea." He repeated this a few times, apparently to make sure we all heard it.

What's curious is that it was all he felt he needed to say. It's a noble idea. Period. If you can't say something nice about it, say nothing at all.

Apparently it's of no interest to him what the term health insurance actually represents today. Of even less interest is how this noble idea is to be achieved under the Affordable Care Act, namely, through the exercise of force, specifically the government's taxing power. I suggest those two things matter and should be of interest to anyone who wants to be taken seriously on the issue. (If Lupica wants to plead, "But I'm just a sports writer," fine. But then don't go making public-policy pronouncements on national television.)

It's appropriate to begin with this spot-on reminder from Murray Rothbard:

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a "dismal science." But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.

(By the way, do you know why economics was dubbed the "dismal science"? It wasn't because the discipline deals with nature's miserliness, but rather, David Levy writes, because the British conservative opponents of the 19th-century liberal economists saw the liberating potential of free markets for common people, especially black people, whom white people were accustomed to subjugating one way or another.)

Now, Lupica may not have realized he was voicing an opinion on an economic subject, and that's the problem. People often make pronouncements that have profound economic implications without knowing it. They care about ends and are content to leave the means to others. That's irresponsible, the intellectual equivalent, as I've said before, to drunk driving.

Health insurance, whatever it is, does not grow wild and abundant in nature or fall from the sky like manna. It constitutes a command over goods and services—that is, over the products of human effort in conjunction with scarce resources. When government provides health insurance through subsidies or Medicare or Medicaid, it presides over the disposal of the fruits of other people's labor. Government personnel decide who gets what, even though they had no hand in producing the resources they "redistribute." In other words, they traffic in pilfered property. Hence H.L. Mencken's immortal insight:

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

Aside from the fact that whatever the government gives it must first take from someone else, there is also the manner in which the government gives it. Thanks to government policy, the word insurance has been fatally corrupted in the health care industry. Insurance arose as a way for groups of individuals to protect themselves against insolvency by pooling their risk of unlikely but highly costly happenings. Today, private and government health insurance is merely a scheme to have others—the taxpayers or other policyholders—pay one's bills not only for rare but catastrophic events, but also for predictable and likely, that is, uninsurable, events—and even for goods and services used in freely chosen activities.

The system is so camouflaged that the privately insured are often simply prepaying for future consumption, but the prepayment includes a hefty administrative overhead charge, which means the policy would be a bad deal if customers were paying the full price with eyes open.

What makes private medical insurance look like a good deal today is that employers seem to provide it for "free" (or at low cost) as noncash compensation, or a fringe benefit, which is treated more favorably by the tax system than cash compensation. If an employer pays workers in part with a $5,000 policy, they get a policy that costs $5,000. But if the employer pays workers $5,000 in cash, they'll have something less than $5,000 with which to buy insurance (or anything else) after the government finishes with them. That gives employer-provided insurance an appeal it would never have in a free society, where taxation would not distort decision-making. Moreover, the system creates an incentive to extend "insurance" to include noninsurable events simply to take advantage of the tax preference for noncash compensation. Today pseudo-insurance covers screening services and contraception, which of course are elective. (This does not mean they are trivial, only that they are chosen and are not happenings.)

Obliviousness to economics lets Lupica avoid thinking about the consequences of interventions such as Obamacare and the long-standing corporatist system on which it stands. Because the system makes medical services (defined in ever-broader terms) appear to be inexpensive or even free of charge—the real price is hidden—people overconsume them.

This artificial stimulus of demand (other things equal) must then cause the real prices of medical inputs to rise, with multiple rippling consequences: the price of insurance goes up; the government's health care budget rises, requiring higher taxes now or later (because of the debt); and resources and labor flow into the stimulated health care industry and away from other valued purposes, raising the prices of other goods and services. Higher insurance premiums in turn prompt demand for more government subsidies, higher taxes, and more debt. The less that consumers need to be cost-conscious, the more distorting their decision-making and the more disruptive their actions. Individual rationality under deceptive pricing leads to social irrationality.

At a certain critical point, the politicians could decide to ration services—that is, to limit what we may buy, or prohibit some purchases entirely—in order to control the budget. Politicians certainly won't want to spend all of the tax revenue on medical care and interest on the debt. (For details, see my "Medicare Is Doomed.")

So economics does matter, Mr. Lupica, and the inability or unwillingness to engage in the economic way of thinking is a recipe for disaster, your good intentions notwithstanding.

Still, there is something noble in envisioning the day when everyone can afford good health care.

What sound economic thinking can teach us is that just because government can't provide universal high-quality health care, that doesn't mean there's no other way to achieve it. The way to do that is to remove all the impediments to the production and provision of medical and insurance services that have accumulated over many years in the form of privileges that restrict competition. This includes occupational licensing and accreditation, facility permits, protectionist and market-narrowing regulations (such as FDA requirements), patents, tax distortions, and more.

"These kinds of legal privileges," Gary Chartier writes, "are sold to the public, of course, as designed in various ways to help ordinary people. But their practical—and, in many cases, intended—effect is to take money away from ordinary health-care consumers and transfer it to people and organizations with more political privileges." Chartier also points out,

Another dubious legal privilege that also drives up costs: the opportunity for plaintiffs in tort cases to obtain punitive damages. A punitive damage award can turn an individual person into a scapegoat, someone to be "taught a lesson" on behalf of the entire class of victims of conduct like his or her own. Punitive damage awards drive up costs unnecessarily while forcing health-care professionals and hospitals to focus on practicing defensive medicine.

Together these interventions function as a planning mechanism for the health care and insurance industries. Markets are too complex to be amenable to even piecemeal central planning. Bureaucrats and their counterparts in Organized Medicine and Big Insurance could never know what they would need to know to create services that best served all consumers. Without those interventions and privileges, competition, which when fully freed would improve quality and push prices down toward costs, would approximate universal and affordable care and coverage. Ingenuity and entrepreneurship would see to it. (Years ago, before the corporatist medical system was fully in place, working people left to their own devices managed to obtain health care through mutual-aid societies.)

Yes, universal and affordable health care is both a noble objective and a practical goal. All we need do to achieve it is sweep away the political privileges and free people from the impositions of politicians, bureaucrats, and their "private sector" patrons. Understanding the economic way of thinking is the beginning of wisdom.

NEXT: Nick Gillespie Interviews Eva Moskowitz About Fixing Our Schools

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  1. Silly man, it’s intentions all the way down.

    1. the sheep gains in respect.

  2. Lupica is the sports writer who is constantly barbering to eliminate my 2nd Amendment protections. Lupica deserves nothing more than to be gibbeted from a nearby lamppost, sport for the crows. Why is his opinion on any issue being entertained?

    1. He’s serving as an example of glibness and poor reasoning skills.

      1. Did we find the real life Bo?

        1. Bo is in favor of socialized medicine and abolishing the 2nd Amendment?

          1. He is if someone argues otherwise.

    2. I’m hoping many of you finally realize that we will never truly be free until we come to the realization that a large number their kind will need to be……dealt with…….to have a real lasting freedom and protection of our constitutional rights.

  3. The parable of partial slavery has many applications.

    1. Sheldon creates a non-stupid article for once.

      1. Now, all we have to do is get all our “progressive” friends and neighbors to read it and they will be convinced!! I predict we will have a libertarian government by next week. 🙂

  4. Also, Carlyle coined “dismal science” as a response to Malthus and his dire predictions of overpopulation. It had nothing to do with freedom for minorities. Read your Carlyle, Sheldon.

    1. That linked page seemed to tie his dismal science rant pretty clearly to his racism. Why do you think otherwise? Can you provide some counter-examples?

        1. Your linked page makes it pretty clear the actual phrase came as described in TFA; the Malthus response only used “dismal” as one of a series of adjectives unrelated to “science”.

      1. IIRC (it’s been quite a spell since I read him), the term was used in Chartism in the 1830s, appearing in Occasional Discourse about a decade later.

        1. Cool. I stand corrected (and late). Thanks.

    2. And Carlyle was, after all, spot on about the 20th century.


  5. Dude that makes a whole lot of sense when you think about it. Wow.

  6. When government provides health insurance through subsidies or Medicare or Medicaid, it presides over the disposal of the fruits of other people’s labor.

    Exactly. And that injustice was compounded by the fact that the insurance cartel kept many of those “other people” out of the system because they had preexisting conditions or were not old enough or poor enough to qualify for the government cartel.

    1. …because they had preexisting conditions…

      I am a terrible driver. I mean, like, really bad. What you’re suggesting is that everyone else in my insurer’s network should have to pay more just so that my rates are normalized. Does this seem fair to you? It wouldn’t if you truly understood the definition of insurance.

      Maybe you should start by reading about risk pools.

      1. You miss the point. There is nothing wrong with risk rating. The injustice would be if I had to pay YOUR car insurance premium and did without mine.

        Government began this problem with Medicare.

        1. While you’re absolutely correct on Medicare, I don’t miss the point at all.

          You presume that everyone should have healthcare – that it’s a right? – and that no predicting condition should disqualify anyone. You claim to understand risk rating but can’t take it all the way to the conclusion that some people might be too much a risk for a prudent insurer to cover.

          This is precisely the sort of thinking that brought about the housing crisis. Few years back and that’s pushing us toward a similar crisis in student lending. Insurance, quite simply, is not a right.

          1. Insurance, quite simply, is not a right.

            There are people who believe that medical care itself is a fundamental human right. They extend the argument to insurance because they are ignorant and do not separate having insurance from having access to medical care.

            1. A right to medical care presumes a right to another’s labor. Which is forced servitude. This constitutes slavery. So of course the progs believe medical care is a right.

          2. You presume that everyone should have healthcare – that it’s a right?

            Absolutely not! Where did you get that idea?

          3. I only presume that I should not be taxed for a service that I am ineligible to receive.

            Actually you could stop after “taxed” if you prefer.

            1. While I normally hate entertaining your ideas, I DO have to wonder about this.

              At what point did medical insurance cease to be a “What if?” in case of an emergency and became the major way doctors and hospitals made their money?

              I feel like, if medical insurance didn’t exist at all, perhaps we would have a better over all healthcare system.

              1. It is hard to tell since mass worker insurance coincided with Medicare in the 60s.

                True on your last sentence though. Providers work to maximize insurance/Medicare benefits – not to treat illness.

                1. Providers work to maximize insurance/Medicare benefits – not to treat illness.

                  Oh please. Is it not possible to do your best to treat illness while also trying to get the most reimbursement for your services through an absurdly labyrinthine system? These are absolutely not exclusive to each other.

                  I would think most people at least believe that they can trust their doctors and feel they have their best interest at heart, or they can still vote with their feet to a certain extent; there is no system I am aware of where you must stay with a certain physician or be denied any health care. And the road to becoming a physician is extremely demanding, and requires you to give up most of your youth to attain credentials — though no doubt there are money-grubbing docs out there, the great majority of physicians are in the profession out of a genuine desire to help others, and have dedicated their lives to doing so. There are so many easier ways to attain wealth if you are only out for money.

                  Feel free to beat that straw man, though. Here’s another one you probably like to use — ‘all physicians are just tools of Big Pharma’! I’ll be happy to dissect that one for you whenever you like.

                  1. Given the cost, time, intellect and talent required to be a physician, I promosie you that most of them are not in it for the money. There are easier ways for someone with that skill set to make more money faster.

              2. At what point did medical insurance cease to be a “What if?” in case of an emergency and became the major way doctors and hospitals made their money?

                Sometime after it became part of a salary package, thanks to government meddling.

                1. If I remember correctly, insurance packages became common due to salary limitations during the New Deal, didn’t they?

                  That would make sense. Especially if you think about doctors as people that want to be paid. I’m sure no small number of them noticed the increase in insurance carriers, and began finding new and interesting ways to bill insurance companies for their services.

                  It opened up a whole new world for them.

                  1. We forget that medicine being a prestigious and potentially lucrative profession is a relatively recent phenomenon. Since 1930, we’ve made more advances in science regarding the treatment of human pathologies than in all of previous human history.

                    The person who operates on your heart, or the one who knows enough to decompress your pleural space because you have a tension pneumothorax, or the one who rewires your vasculature because you have PAD…those people have made enormous sacrifices of time, put forth superhuman effort, and have often had to incur monstrous debt. They are going to find ways of making it pay off.

                    1. Successful jewel and art thieves are highly skilled. They know how to deactivate alarms, pirouette through laser nets, wear marvelous disguises, make things disappear. They are intelligent, they put forth superhuman effort, and they are going to find ways to get rich, drive European cars, collect trophy wives, and reside in mansions. I respect their ability and ambition, I admit it would take me 8-9 years to develop similar skills, but I don’t like it much when they steal.

                    2. I’m sure you’ll find the courage to tell your heart surgeon he’s no better than a highly skilled thief right before your inevitable bypass, T-money.

                    3. Yeah that totally sounds like my life. Just so you know, this “thief” is just an employee With very limited agency as most physicians are now. in my practice I don’t know what insurance you have, how much I bill or how much I am paid for taking care of you as an individual occurrence. So I just try to take good care of you as economically as possible. The bad news is if I want to give you break by not charging you for a service I could be fired. Just a rat in a maze…..

                  2. Employer insurance became widespread during World War II as it was a means of getting around wage and price controls.

                  3. “If I remember correctly, insurance packages became common due to salary limitations during the New Deal, didn’t they?”

                    Not during the New Deal – it began during World War 2 as a result of the federal government initiating salary freezes for the private sector. As health care benefits were not covered by the freeze, employers began using that benefit as a way to compete for employees. Employers continued that practice after the war was over.

                2. “Sometime after it became part of a salary package, thanks to government meddling.”

                  The WWII wage and price fixing was still in place some time after the end of the war.
                  Companies couldn’t compete for employees with pay, but, natch, the (distorted) market found a way; beneies!
                  Much the same way the gov’t-distorted market resulted in the 08 crash, regardless of the lies that fucking turd tells.

                3. Divorcing the general public from the actual cost of their care and the actual billing always was a huge mistake. Before I lost my medical insurance, thanks to Obamacare, it was a real struggle having my billing questions answered.

                  Simpler now, as even shit coverage will cost me nearly $5k per year. I opted out. Fuck Obama and all his evil works. And fuck anyone who supports him.

                  Your time will come.

      2. Unfortunately, the definition has been hijacked so as to include forced income redistribution by private means.

      3. I am tired of the entire concept of health insurance. The way we use it is absurd. Actual health insurance should be for bad shit that might kill you.

        I thought about this the last time I went to get a flu shot. They asked for my insurance information, and I told them I was just going to pay for it. They were incredulous! I told them I did. They damn near insisted I use my insurance to pay for the shot. A routine, completely normal, inexpensive vaccination.

        I paid out of pocket. The cost of filing a claim, paying all the people involved in processing the claim, the extra time to fill out forms…all of that would make that little shot cost way, way more than if I just paid for it right then and there.

        That’s not health insurance. Defaulting to a third-party payer for routine stuff is not insurance. It’s an absurdity.

        1. AMEN.

          Same with routine check-ups.

          Here we want to install ‘user fees’ as a means to loosen up the wait times. While I’m okay with it the problem is they still force me to pay for public health so I’m double paying.

          1. Here we want to install ‘user fees’ as a means to loosen up the wait times. While I’m okay with it the problem is they still force me to pay for public health so I’m double paying.

            Of course. Fees on top of taxes on top of whatever else they can dream up. Next thing is you’ll be subsidizing “user fees” for people who can’t afford them. BOOM!

            1. They don’t realize (or maybe they do and don’t give a hoot because ‘noble’) forcing us to pay upon things we’re already paying ERODES our chance to SAVE and build WEALTH.

              How noble.

              1. our chance to SAVE and build WEALTH

                How quaint.

              2. The last time I heard the phrase “give a hoot” was on an episode of Corner Gas. I like Canada.

                1. Give a hoot! Don’t pollute!

                  Captain Planet!

                  1. Woodsy Owl is prepared to sue for you misappropriating his catch phrase to the loathsome Captain Planet.

                2. Corner Gas strangely pulled me in. Maybe it’s all the Saskatchewan flat land.

                  1. Agreed, it is the sort of show that I would have thought too wholesome for me but it really drew me in with some rock solid ensemble performances. I also quite enjoyed Little Mosque On The Prairie.

                    I must say though, I’m hooked on what might be the most (inadvertently?) libertarian show since Yes, Minister, Australia’s Utopia. I wholeheartedly recommend it to all the regulars.


                    1. Looks good, I’ll check it out. Thanks!

              3. Saving means reduced spending, which depletes aggregate demand! Must. Boost. Aggregate. Demand!!!

        2. “I am tired of the entire concept of health insurance. The way we use it is absurd. Actual health insurance should be for bad shit that might kill you.”

          I imagine the insurance companies cover routine services because they can prevent the costlier emergencies to some extent.

          1. Yes, my auto insurer should pay for new tires because a blowout on the freeway might result in a costly accident. Or, perhaps a clause that says “if your tires are bald and you have a costly accident, the insurance coverage is null and void.”

            1. Why do you think health insurance companies started covering these routine preventive services then? It’s not all government mandates, and they don’t like giving away money any more than other businesses. I imagine they’re convinced paying for these preventive measures must be good for the bottom line or they wouldn’t be doing it.

              1. Lots of reasons, because they can be profitable but doesn’t mean it doesn’t raise the cost of health care. One major reason is that the employer pays (at least observably for most employees) and employees demand the coverage. Many of us would love to see the mandates go, and pay a high deductible, catastrophe policy.

                1. You can get a high deductible policy through ObamaCare. It even qualifies for a HSA. It’s still hugely expensive when you get older. Wife and I are paying about $13,000/year with a $12000 combined deductible in our early 60s.

                  Even though the ObamaCare allows high deductible poliies, they still come with lots of baggage. On the bright side, though, wife and I get free contraceptives and pediatric dental services.

                  The fact is that, even when discounted with negotiated rates, the standard of American medical services is extremely costly. To maintain that standard of care, healthy people must pay huge amounts that they will never recover to provide that standard of care for sick and injured strangers. There is simply no way of getting around this.

                  1. Yes, for a while, they said HSA plans would not be allowed, but they gave in. Which is a really good thing.

              2. It’s not all government mandates

                It is nowadays.

              3. Why do you think health insurance companies started covering these routine preventive services then?

                they may have started out of competitive pressures but today, mandates and requirements drive the train. Insurance covers what individual states, and the feds to an extent, tell companies to cover. As it is, states artificially limit competition by dictating which carriers can and cannot sell. From there comes a list of required coverages. And there are lobbyists for just about any medical specialty angling for their slice.

              4. Why do you think health insurance companies started covering these routine preventive services then? It’s not all government mandates…

                Health insurance as a pre-payment system only exists because of tax-arbitrage. IE it is a form of tax-free income. A particularly inefficient one, until one realizes that the marginal tax arbitraged away is 50% and more.

                1. IE it is a form of tax-free income.

                  I can take Internet Explorer out of my taxes? Awesome!

                  I’m off to surf the web!

                2. Some may not understand how you got to 50% marginal tax arbitrage since FIT rates are much lower than that.

                  It’s not just income tax arbitrage.

                  There’s no FICA on insurance benefits either.

                  So the 50% consists about 30% effective FIT + 5% SIT + 15.3% FICA @ about $100k/yr single.

                  1. Yep, everyone forgets about FICA when discussing marginal tax rates.

            2. Auto insurance’s primary purpose is to pay for the damage the driver causes to others, not damage to their own vehicle. What health insurance covers is more like a vehicle service plan, not auto insurance.

          2. Maybe. For some people with chronic health issues.

            Healthy is the default state for most people. Health promotion is the best prevention. It doesn’t always need to be something billable. Living life isn’t some inevitable downward spiral into sickness and infirmity.

            1. Living life isn’t some inevitable downward spiral into sickness and infirmity.

              Wait until you hit 40.

              1. Five more years. My goal is to feel better about taking my shirt off at the beach at 40 than I did when I was 18. So far, so good. I’m like a good wine, improving with age.

                1. Uh, well… that was never a goal of mine. The thought of how much work would have had to go into such a project makes my head spin. All I noticed is that at a certain point, various body parts suddenly just started randomly crapping out, then leveling out, then crapping out again….

                  1. The thought of how much work would have had to go into such a project makes my head spin.

                    far far less than you think. A good three hours per week will go a long ways toward improvement, along with some attention paid to your diet. And I don’t mean starvation or twigs/berries; just being conscious and a bit careful. On occasion, though, you have to indulge.

                  2. I’m only concerned about one body part crapping out, and I hear there’s pills for that now.

                    1. I don’t know how well I’m going to age. I’ve already had one knee surgery, and I live in constant pain.

                      I’m note sure if I’ll make it to sixty. Given the fact that my family tree has a 70% suicide rate, I’ll probably end up slipping into a black depression and driving off a cliff.

              2. Tell me about it. All of a sudden I’m getting these nagging injuries that in my 20s I couldn’t understand.

                Like back spasms.

                It really puts a dent in my training routines.

          3. Most people don’t enjoy getting sick. Most people will take care of their health if they know how to do it. Simply mailing out fact sheets, or having the doc tell you to get more exercise, is probably the best and simplest preventative health care.

            When I had my own catastrophic health insurance, I got a newsletter with the monthly bill. It was full of this kind of info. Repetitive, boring, but easy to skim through even when I wasn’t much in the mood for nanny finger-waving.

            Employer insurance throws that out. Government insurance is an oxymoron but still manages to throw that out, and if they did manage to revive it, it would be so full of political correctness and government propaganda unrelated to health care that no one would pay any attention.

            1. Employer insurance throws that out.

              I dunno about that. I get a steady stream of “advice” from my employer. As for the government, the nannying is endless – on TV, on the subway, everywhere (I live in NYC).

              1. I used to, but that stopped. Not sure why.

                Don’t see ads, though — no newspapers, TV, subway rides. Mostly NoScript with Firefox blocks stuff.

              2. Maybe your employer is forced by law to do be a nanny?

                1. Maybe your employer is forced by law to do be a nanny?

                  Well, they kick in a lot of money for my health insurance, so I imagine they see it in their interest to cut those costs.

          4. And because they’re forced to. Suggest that people should be allowed to buy a cheaper plan and pay for routine tests out of pocket, and you’ll be accused of trying to let women die of breast cancer.

        3. My ESOP/S Corp company self insures (~400 employees with about 200mil in revenue…and we pay no income tax). Most of us sign up for high deductible catastrophic plans with HSA’s. The best route to go as it exposes the price of goods, which most of us haggle down.

          That’s real insurance. The company does use a benny to half the deductible as seen by the employee who uses tax free HSA contributions to make up the rest.

        4. Trigger Warning 2016!

          I think I would drop dead if a Presidential candidate actually said something that sensible.

  7. “appear to be inexpensive or even free of charge?the real price is hidden?people overconsume them.”

    That people still can’t see or understand this blows my mind. Apparently, something that’s paid for through your taxes (worse, progressive taxes which penalizes successful people) is ‘free’…and to people like Lupica ‘noble’. That is, to take to give to someone else.

    Problem is, the people (i.e. the rich – however, we loosely define them) the masses think we’re forcing to ‘pay their fair share’ are really the middle class.

    Canadians collectively shout ‘we have free health care’! Which doesn’t say much about our economic acumen.

  8. No, dude, he means when the government steals money from me and gives it to other people it has deemed more worthy to have it. After it gets a nice cut, of course. Not sure what you’re on about. It’s like what you said didn’t have anything to do with what you quoted.

    1. Was responding to PB, even though I know better.

    2. That is exactly what I am complaining about – government.

      I don’t know how many times I have to say this – I RESENT paying for Medicare.

      1. Now you know how the brass here feels when you keeping claiming they defend Bush.

        1. brass def: ” persons in high positions (as in a business or the government)”.

          Exactly who is the “brass” here?

          Fuck them.

          1. I own my own business.

            And properties.

            Do I count?

            1. Who is the “brass” here?

              I want to know what you think.

              1. I award myself a brevet promotion to General of the Armies.

                1. Rufus obviously thinks there are some posters of high authority here.

                  That would explain the Team Red clique that has formed.

                  1. Dude, get off it. Just because somebody doesn’t like you or your opinions doesn’t mean they love the Republicans.

                  2. Against my better judgment I shall attempt to answer Palin’s diversion…sigh…Please forgive me friends:

                    A) I never thought anything. I just used a word you chose to nit-pick. No point was made about ‘high authority’. Don’t know what’s so ‘obvious’.

                    B) I’m pretty sure there’s a good chunk of people here, that being said, who are in positions of authority in varying degrees.

                    C) Yes. In what is perhaps one of the more eclectic and diverse community threads on the internet, a clique for Team Red has been formed.

                    In your mind.

                    1. eclectic and diverse community

                      Some here are trying to squash dissent (see Playa, John, and other Team Red water carriers)

                    2. Turd lies. That’s all, turd lies.

                    3. Turd lies. That’s all, turd lies.


                      John is a bit of a republican cheerleader.

                    4. John may be a cheerleader but he’s not tried to squash dissent.

                    5. No, he just tried to get us to give up our body armor, so it’s easier for the cops to squash dissent.

                    6. Yup.

                      Neither is Playa.

                    7. Stopped clocks.

                    8. “99%
                      John is a bit of a republican cheerleader.”

                      Stopped clocks
                      (damn threading!)

                    9. Rufus, didn’t you note and ask about recently the fact that the large majority of links posted here tend to be from right wing media sources?

                      If you take that and the fact that on threads where conservatives traditionally split with libertarians (immigration, gay marriage, etc) we often get an even split in the comments it suggests, if not a Red Clique, that. we’ve got an interesting number of non libertarian conservatives commenting here.

                    10. Yes, I did ask that.

                      However, I don’t know if people here are ‘libertarian conservative.’ I think it’s far more nuanced.

                      I tend to think it’s because, being an informative bunch, conservative publications are plain better.

                      You don’t see shit-garbage like that NYT article about white privilege by Kristoff you linked to.

                      To us, that’s typical liberal crap that’s come to mark that side. Hence, we read conservative stuff.

                    11. Yeah, are there really any reliable left leaning sources anymore? Slate, Salon, NYT, HuffPo are all just histrionic bullshit perpetually hosting the victimhood Olympics. The Economist is occasionally worth reading, though less and less I find.

                    12. WTF happened to the Economist? It used to be strongly free market, but lately it’s shown a statist slant.

                    13. we’ve got an interesting number of non libertarian conservatives commenting here.

                      The fact that American conservatism and libertarianism go hand in hand on any number of issues has nothing to do with it of course.

                      I’d argue that libertarianism is nothing more than traditional American conservatism, applied consistently to every issue. If you consistently favor the free market, small government, and a strict construction of the Constitution, than you will end up as a libertarian.

                2. Can I be the Prime Minister?

                3. I promote myself to ‘Dreaded Rear Admiral’.

      2. I don’t know how many times I have to say this – I RESENT paying for Medicare.

        Well, good. So do I, and so should everyone else.

      3. But do you RESENT getting free government services?

        1. Never have gotten one unless I slipped into a national park once.

          1. The NP near me charges $10/person or $20 for a car pass.

  9. Markets are too complex to be amenable to even piecemeal central planning.

    That’s why they must be done away with, DUH!

  10. Follow the money? Anti-AGW scientist found to be funded by fossil fuel industry

    “For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gases pose little risk to humanity.

    One of the names they invoke most often is Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun’s energy can largely explain recent global warming. He has often appeared on conservative news programs, testified before Congress and in state capitals, and starred at conferences of people who deny the risks of global warming.

    But newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon’s work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests.

    He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers.”

    Today’s NY times

    1. “Willie Soon” would be a- well, not a GOOD porn name, but a porn name nonetheless.

    2. He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers.

      So if my research is paid by some corporate sponsor, there is automatically a conflict of interest?!

      1. Well, if it’s an interest with, well, a strong interest in the debate, probably.

        I mean, critics of AGW researchers often point out that they might be influenced by their grant sources. That’s got to cut both ways to be consistent at all.

        1. Except the pro-AGW crowd never complains about their own funding.

          Tenure track glory is far more pernicious than they want people to know. Those tenure hounds would kill for tenure, I sometimes think. A few fraudulent graphs and echo chamber parroting is nothing compared to the backstabbing they are capable of to beat some other dude to tenure and defined-benefits pension.

          There are a lot of soft-science participants who are nothing more than glorified astrologers, with the calculators, books of equations to wield without understanding, jargon, and other symbols of expertise. They throw in expensive computer time and field work to make the field more impressive, but otherwise are indistinguishable from astrologers working up charts from imprecise birth times and locations, ignorant of time zones and other subtle details that don’t actually matter.

        2. The real question, Bo, is whether or not he’s been caught actually lying about the science.

          We’ve got climategate, as just one example of the blatant lying horseshit that AGW activists will peddle to achieve their goal of total world domination.

          1. Bo has a point: sources of funding may influence the research and its findings, and should always be disclosed.

            The simple fact that AGW research is overwhelmingly funded by governments combined with the simple fact that AGW provides an argument for vast expansion of government control suggest that most CAGW research is biased in the other direction.

        3. They are influenced by their grants both with the direct “keep mommy and daddy donor happy” as well as if they find no AGW they will need to find a new vocation (and one that doesn’t likely come with the power, prestige, or elevated paycheck).

    3. He’s still right, though.

      AND rich.

    4. I saw that, took a peek, and the ONLY thing they complain about is his funding. Not his ideas, not his methods, not nasty emails about the opposition he tried to hide, not his fraudulent graphs, nothing except his funding.

      I figure they are getting desperate to hold the lid on as long as possible and restoring to bungee cords because the welding didn’t take.

      1. Using the logic suggested in the NYT article, I suppose that any scientific research funded by government, or an environmental group, or the TIDES Foundation should also be rejected without consideration of its scientific merit.

        Still, Dr. Soon did err in not disclosing funding, if the allegations are in fact true.

    5. But newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon’s work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests.

      So the NYT and by extension the left generally, is saying that ‘science’ is in fact not objective truth seeking and instead mere propaganda.

      That seems the only conclusion to be drawn from complaints of the source of the funding without any complaints of the validity of science produced.

    6. Pfft…there are order’s of magnitudes of differences in the level of funding gov provides to warmers vice what little pittance the reasoned anti-CAGW crowd gets from Big Oil.

    7. Government-funded science reaches the conclusion that we need more government.

      No bias there, no sirree.

    8. Follow the money?

      Yawn … The NYT conveniently ignored the CRU’s involvement with “Big Oil”.…..r-support/

    9. everyone knows that scientists who haven’t published in the scientific literature for a decade and get millions of dollars in oil and gas industry money are brave dissenters. It’s these totalitarians at Nature and Science with their peer-review and all that are the real cretins.

      1. Two wolves approving that another wolf is going to eat a sheep is not a peer review.

      2. Nature is a hack journal. Their peer review process is pretty lame. Letter of Applied Geophysics or something similar is much better.

        Not surprising that a thieving moron would think Nature is the pinnacle of scientific publications.

  11. NYC Elite Private Schools Tackle ‘White Privilige’

    “The workshop was part of a daylong speaker series known at Friends as the Day of Concern. Students gathered in small groups to discuss a variety of social justice issues and participate in workshops; there were also talks about gender and the environment. But the overarching theme of the day was identity, privilege and power. And it was part of a new wave of diversity efforts that some of the city’s most elite private schools are undertaking.”…..nside.html

    1. If they feel guilty about their station, they can always joint the proles in New Joke’s rotten publik skools.

      1. In a totally unforeseeable event, some if the students kind of resent having ‘privilege’ thrown at them;

        “[the students] were trying to unload on their classmates slips of paper on which they had jotted down words related to the topic “Things I don’t want to be called.”

        Several girls tried get to rid of “ditsy.” A sophomore in jeans and a gray hoodie who identifies as Asian-American was seeking to unload “minority.” And several white students, including a long-limbed girl in a checkered lumberjack shirt, wanted to get rid of “privileged.” Under the rules of the exercise, no other student was obligated to accept it.

        “It’s just a very strong word to use,” the last girl said. ‘I don’t want to be identified with that just because my parents can afford things. I think it has a negative connotation.'”

        1. “It’s just a very strong word to use,” the last girl said. ‘I don’t want to be identified with that just because my parents can afford things. I think it has a negative connotation.'”

          She’s in for a rough time at whatever elite college her parents pay for her to go to.

          1. “a long-limbed girl in a checkered lumberjack shirt”

            She’ll be fine.

    2. Geez, if I found out I was throwing my money away on that junk I would remove my kid from the school toot sweet.

  12. Nick Kristoff Mansplains White Privilege

    “White men sometimes feel besieged and baffled by these suggestions of systematic advantage. When I wrote a series last year, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” the reaction from white men was often indignant: It’s an equal playing field now! Get off our case!

    Yet the evidence is overwhelming that unconscious bias remains widespread in ways that systematically benefit both whites and men. So white men get a double dividend, a payoff from both racial and gender biases.”…..e-men.html

    1. White men also pay an inordinate share of taxes.

      1. I don’t doubt that there are stereotypes that operate subtly and not so subtly that favor men and whites. These stereotypes often involved government restrictions in creating and fostering them (Jim Crow limits on blacks occupational and trade choices made blacks poor which fostered the idea they’re unsuccessful and riddled with pathologies associated with poverty; limits on women in the same area fostered the idea that women’s place is in the home).

        But these things are way more complicated than liberals present them. Some stereotypes favor blacks for example (that they’re inherently ‘cooler,’ better dancers, musicians athletes, etc). And many stereotypes that favor whites don’t apply across all whites and then actually harm the whites who don’t ‘live up’ to them.

        1. I’m waiting for the NBA and the Hip Hop industry to implement affirmative action. Until then, I could give a shit about all these complaints.

  13. What bothers me more than it perhaps should is this contorted distorted view of what insurance is. With car, home, and other insurance, people still have the reasonably correct understanding of what insurance is and how it works. Raise the deductible, premiums go down. Make lots of claims, premiums go up.

    But health insurance has come to be seen as how we pay for all medical care. Dental care with most employment pays for everything, predictable or not, sometimes in full, sometimes only partially.

    Obamacare has made it far worse. People who want universal medical care have co-opted insurance as the vehicle, and the concept of paying for predictable care has been thrown out the window.

    Insurance smooths out the bumps of major unpredictable expenses. Even if we could afford to pay for a broken arm, the inefficiency of paying via insurance is probably no worse than taking from savings or taking out a loan. I suspect most people have an intuitive understanding of this — the flow from premiums to central offices and back to doctors, the clerks and bean counters who all have to be paid — most people understand that makes things more expensive, but also accept the trade-off. But with insurance paying for everything, that inefficiency has spread to flu shots, annual checkups, vaccinations, “take two aspirin and call me in the morning”, and it really frustrates me.

    1. Single-payer legal care. Because no lawyer does anything worth more than minimum wage. Especially not BCE.

      1. We will have price controls on every single profession and occupation before there are any limits on attorney compensation. And it will be attorneys fighting to get those price controls on everyone but themselves.

    2. No, the problem is that employer-based coverage shields the consumer from the “make lots of claims – premiums go up” part of the equation.

      Group or community rates policies mean that your premiums DON’T go up if YOU make lots of claims. Everyone else has to make lots of claims too. So you can basically free-ride on every else’s good behavior and over-use the system. And everyone does it, but because *their* free riding is just a small piece of the puzzle they don’t feel obligated to stop.

  14. So much for the rumor that Bo took seriously the suggestion that he take his life.


    1. What an interesting, polite exchange of ideas and arguments the thread was, and then sarcastic shows up to express he’s sad someone didn’t kill themselves. And according to some here, it’s me that’s the anti social jerk. Right.

      This is what Virginia Postrel was talking about I think and is not what our hosts wish this discussion to be and to represent to those coming here intrigued by libertarianism. But when you’re a sicko I guess what your host would like gies out the window with basic social norms.

      1. I think if anyone thought you truely were suicidal there wouldn’t have been that comment. Unless sarcasmic is a 12 year old girl attending a public school.

      2. Last time Postrel worked here, you we’re likely in diapers. May still well be.

      3. Yeah. I really thought you would off yourself because some anonymous stranger on a website said you should do it, and now I’m like really sad because I like really thought it was really like totally true and stuff. Like gag me with a rubber spoon. And stuff.

  15. It’s nice to see Bo out himself as a proglodyte troll.

    1. Again.

    2. Yawn. Because posting some things from a liberal source and then disagreeing with most of those things=lprog troll. Keep trying Rev Al.

      1. lprog

        Come get the new Iprog 6+! Now with double the congitive dissonance!

        Can’t afford one? Act now and get free Iprog government subsidies!

        Choose between one government mandated color or a massive fine!

        Get them before we run out and you’re forced to pay the Iprog tax!

        1. IProg-S even works abroad; take it to Europe and it automatically goes into social democrat anti-austerity mode. Free Greek-English translation app available.

      2. Let’s see – bashing a scientist because of the source of his funding, which you did, is a proglodyte trait.

        As is treating white privilege as anything but a pathetic joke.

  16. Lupica was a decent enough sports writer way back when, but then developed BDS during the W years, and started throwing political rants into his sports articles.
    Because of this, and the fact that he’s short and wears glasses, he started thinking of himself as an intellectual and became too insufferable to read, and, thus, is now a worthless cunt.

  17. Health insurance does not grow wild and abundant in nature or fall from the sky like manna.

    No shit it doesn’t. It is the result of investment and labor, priced by supply and demand…well, it was, until the government started subsidizing and regulating heavily — now it is largely the result of politically connected cronies sucking the drippy dicks of bureaucrats, and dismally priced by the supply and demand distorted by this corruption.

    But hardly anyone, relatively speaking, knows this. More government = better life, always.

    It’s a noble idea. Period. If you can’t say something nice about it, say nothing at all.

    Either you agree with everything we say (at the very least don’t criticize it), or you are against us. And in the latter case, obviously you’re evil, stupid, or both.

  18. What makes private medical insurance look like a good deal today is that employers seem to provide it for “free” (or at low cost) as noncash compensation, or a fringe benefit, which is treated more favorably by the tax system than cash compensation.

    That isn’t the only distortion.
    The other distortion is that employer-based insurance is group-rated, meaning the employee pays the same amount as other employees, regardless of his or her recent claim history. Because of that fact, this makes it much EASIER for people to use health insurance to make other people pick up the costs of their routine or uninsurable expenses. It makes SENSE to abuse the insurance system if you know your insurance rates aren’t going to go up very much unless everyone else does it too. Community or group rated policies essentially create a free rider problem. Every individual plan member can abuse the system and other members will all have to share the costs.

    So you have a twofold problem – the tax deduction creates an incentive to make the plan cover everything, and the group premiums incentivize over using the system to get as much benefit out of it for yourself.

    1. I’ve always bought directly from the insurance provider. I have usually paid less than 200 a month for multimillion dollar max, 2000 deductable, and no drug or dental coverage. I have always made due being healthy and willing to pay up to 5000 bucks if anything significant occurred (it never did).
      Then I hear about the huge premiums work paid insurance puts out for each employee and am shocked companies pay thousands (?) a month to cover employees. I think this is the real scam – that insurance companies have been making a ton of money off employer sponsored health insurance. Or so it seems to me.

      1. A coworker of mine has a son who is in the literal sense of the word a retard. Downs, special diet, speech therapy, a couple operations a year, the list goes on. He maxes out his insurance every year. Imagine how many other employees it takes to subsidize his medical bills, and imagine how many others like him there are out there. It doesn’t take that many people with big bills to eat up the premiums paid by everyone else. Because of that I’m not so sure if the insurance companies are make a killing, or if a few high cost patients significantly raise the price for the rest of the people in the pool.

        And that’s not to mention the two coworkers with chronic kidney problems, the one who has had breast cancer, the other one who had some blood cancer, and so on and so forth. Those are just the ones I know about. They’re all alive by the way, thanks to the treatment that they got/get. That was all paid for by the rest of us.

        I’m not judging at this point. Just passing on some anecdotal evidence to challenge the notion that the insurance companies are pocketing those thousands of dollars per employee per month paid in in premiums, as opposed to paying it out to others who are getting a great deal (and understandably like it that way).

        1. …”Just passing on some anecdotal evidence to challenge the notion that the insurance companies are pocketing those thousands of dollars per employee per month paid in in premiums,”…

          They’re not. If they were, Buffett wouldn’t be the only one to own a bunch of them.
          The model is simple; the premiums are supposed to cover the costs. The float of all that money is invested otherwise and provides the profits.
          But that means you have to have a Buffett with the gov’t connections to know that the pipeline isn’t going to get approved soon, so buy a railroad!

  19. I can’t remember who wrote it,but Baen re-published it in an anthology, but there was a ’60s Sci-Fi story about car insurance paying for all the repairs a car might need.

    It was meant to be a spoof of health insurance and damned if it wasn’t dead on in its predictions.

  20. Over the hump it goes man.

  21. Why does Nick keep publishing articles from this turd? It tarnishes the libertarian brand, and reason in particular.

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  23. “But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”

    I’m just wondering exactly why libertarians feel so much like they are the hard-nosed realists when they advocate for policies that will keep tens of millions of people without health insurance. We have lots of data points on health care systems throughout the word. The ones that are funded by the government– either by single-payer or through mandatory insurance mandates all tend to be the best when measured by the health care they provide per unit cost. Why then is it pie-in-the-sky Utopianism to advocate for systems that actually work?

    I know, I know… It’s all about libertarian intentions. Of course, the health care systems they advocate for all suck where they’ve been tried, but we all know the goal is to combat tyranny of rich people paying taxes so we should all give them a break, you know.

    1. Systems that work? They don’t. The metrics you used are dishonest and are designed to produce the result that your fellow travelers intended, Socialized medicine is a failure or failing everywhere it’s tried.

      Just like socialism in general. But then, there is no convincing your kind of anything logical. You are too intellectually disingenuous and fanatical for that. Everything is about more government and more control.

      When the others wake up en masse and realize these things, it will not end well for your kind.

    2. A) Even if socialist health care systems worked, that wouldn’t be reason enough to adopt one – they are inherently immoral.
      B) To paraphrase C.S. Lewis Libertarianism ‘hasn’t been tried and found wanting; it’s been found difficult and not tried.’US is not free market, by any stretch of your retarded imagination, and the shittiness of our health system is not a stain on markets, but on government intervention.

  24. One of the better articles I’ve encountered on healthcare. The author understands that a total deregulation of healthcare is a complicated but critical requirement for lower costs. There are at least twenty reforms that must be accomplished. Here are but a few: (1) Recognize nursing and physician degrees from any teaching institution worldwide, (2) make all prescription drugs “over-the-counter,” (3) end all certificates of need for healthcare facilities, (4) end the ban on drug re-importation, and (5) allow all Healthcare Savings Accounts — the full untaxed balance therein — to be inherited by any designated beneficiary.

    Of course, these and the many others require a libertarian revolution and a fiscal starvation of government. But I can dream, can’t I?

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  27. my mum in-law recently got a nice twelve month old Cadillac CTS Vsport Premium only from working parttime off a laptop

  28. It’s worse than you can imagine. And people – companies that get big enough – are starting to find ways to self-insure through MEWAs under ERISA and opt out of O-Care. In the first year, premiums will look like market rates, but if you have a relatively health-conscious employee pool you can get great cost savings by dealing directly with doctors and paying cash-money, even if negotiated down from what they’d usually charge. There’s also a ton of fraud in the system – something like 30%. If you can keep employees from being a bunch of thieves, there’s a built in 30% reduction in health care costs.

    This thing has some political clout to it, as well. Because Congress won’t touch ERISA. Worth looking into.

  29. The Freakonomics approach to health insurance is easy to understand. Perhaps we should switch? When Herbert Hoover described prohibition as “a great experiment, noble in purpose”, he meant it was altruistic. Noble has since 1957 become THE substitute way of saying that something is altruistic.

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