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Here's What Congress Was Doing While You Were Watching the Kavanaugh Circus

The passage of tax reform 2.0 blows a huge hole in the budget, and a much-touted opioid bill might just make the crisis worse.

Ron Sachs/CNP / Polaris/NewscomRon Sachs/CNP / Polaris/NewscomWhile much attention was diverted by the political circus surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday and Friday, Congress passed a massive spending bill and another round of tax cuts that will combine to blow an even bigger hole in the federal budget. Lawmakers also found time to pass a bill restricting Americans' access to prescription painkillers, something that's likely to force people who are dependent on or addicted to opioids (a distinction seemingly lost on legislators) to seek out more dangerous alternatives.

Let's start with the spending: Friday's passage of the House Republican's so-called Tax Reform 2.0 proposal will likely get heavy rotation in campaign ads over the next five weeks, even though the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. The bill does several things, but the key part of the proposal is the permanent extension of the individual and corporate income tax rate cuts enacted last year. Those lower rates are set to expire after 2025—reverting to their previous levels—but Republicans have been aiming for a permanent extension since before the final votes were cast on last year's tax bill.

If Republicans still cared about deficits, Tax Reform 2.0 would be a non-starter. Having last year's tax cuts expire in the middle of the next decade was a maneuver (or a gimmick, if you prefer) designed to limit the impact of tax reform on future deficits and the national debt.

Unsurprisingly, then, extending those tax cuts will add to the deficit. According to an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan number-crunching agency within Congress, the bill will add $631 billion to the deficit over a decade. While the JCT says an extension of the tax cuts will cause the economy to grow by about 0.5 percent in the years immediately after 2025, additional revenue from that growth will cancel out a mere $86 billion of the tax cut's impact on the deficit. Other analyses of the bill by the left-leaning Tax Policy Center and the right-leaning Tax Foundation make similar estimates about the long-term effect on revenue.

The bottom line? Even when accounting for increased economic growth, Tax Reform 2.0 comes with a price tag of more than $500 billion added to the deficit—an amount future taxpayers will have to cover.

The bill is not without its charms. A proposal to created so-called universal savings accounts would allow Americans to create tax-advantaged savings accounts where they could stash up to $5,000 annually without having to deal with all the restrictions and limitations that come with similarly structured 401(k) and IRA plans now. Encouraging savings—especially savings that are partially sheltered from the tax man—would be a positive step that helps families plan for the future.

But if you needed further evidence that Congress doesn't give a damn about planning for the country's future, look no further than the passage this week, in both houses, of a $853 billion spending bill. About $600 million of the spending is directed towards the Pentagon—boosting the military budget to levels not seen since the height of the Iraq War.

The bill is now on its way to President Donald Trump's desk. He must sign it before October 1 to avoid a government shutdown, which might be complicated by the lack of funding for his border wall.

The spending bill has raised the ire of the few fiscally conservative Republicans who sit in Congress. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) encouraged Trump not to sign the bill and blasted his fellow lawmakers for being "far worse than the politicians they once derided."

While the Kavanaugh hearings devolved into partisan acrimony, Congress was also serving up reminders of what happens when nearly everyone agrees. The Tax Reform 2.0 vote went mostly party line, but spending an obscene amount of money was, once again, a bipartisan affair in both the House and Senate.

So, too, was the passage of the Support for Patients and Communities Act, a much-touted bipartisan effort to address the opioid crisis in the most congressional of ways: by throwing money and more prohibition at the problem.

The final version of the bill, which passed the House 393-8 on Friday and now heads to the Senate, will spend about $8 billion on state-run opioid treatment centers and research into non-opioid pain killers. It also beefed up border security in the name of stopping the importation of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and other lab-made drugs.

But the bill may unintentionally increase demand for fentanyl and other drugs used by opioid addicts who can't get a legal fix. Several provisions in the proposal would restrict access to prescription painkillers; other aspects of the legislation would increase penalties for drug manufacturers and doctors deemed to have over-sold and over-prescribed opioids.

As J.J. Rich, a policy analyst for the Reason Foundation (which publishes this blog) notes in the November issue of Reason, previous crackdowns on prescription drugs have actually made the opioid crisis worse.

"It's clear that the black market has claimed the economy ceded by restrictions on the legal market," Rich notes, citing Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that pain reliever abuse rates have been flat since 2002. "When government restricts access to something people want, it drives demand to the black market. In this case, as opioids have become increasingly difficult to obtain legally in the last decade, users have switched to "diverted" prescription medications and illicit alternatives, including heroin. And just as Prohibition pushed bootleggers to switch from beer to potent bathtub gin, traffickers are increasingly adulterating their narcotics with potent synthetic opioids such as sufentanil—a substance that can be up to 500 times stronger than morphine."

Have a great weekend!

Photo Credit: Ron Sachs/CNP / Polaris/Newscom

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  • SQRLSY One||

    MAGA, Morons Are Governing America, as some wise wag posted the other day here!

  • DarrenM||

    I'll take the morons over the idiots.

  • James Pollock||

    Thus buying into the theory that OUR tribe is better than THEIR tribe...

  • SIV||

    The final version of the bill, which passed the House 393-8 on Friday

    Were the 8 voting against the War on Drugs bill were all Republicans?

    I assume so with Reason playing reverse name-that-party.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    If Republicans still cared about deficits, Tax Reform 2.0 would be a non-starter.

    Nuh-uh. If Republicans still cared about deficits, they'd stop spending as much.

  • Don't look at me!||

    Correct. Tax cuts don't cause deficits. If they did, why weren't we running a surplus before the tax cut?

  • Genrallex||

    If spending stays at the same level (ceteris paribus), tax cuts obviously increase deficits...

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Unless revenue doesn't actually fall, which is what happened.

  • JesseAz||

    Tax revenues increased this year, spending went up much more. You can't grow spending by the government at twice the growth of gdp. Anyone blaming tax cuts for the deficit is an idiot.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Cool, Bro, let's cut all taxes to ZERO then! Starting with importation taxes (tariffs) especially!

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm down.

  • Genrallex||

    ^^

  • JesseAz||

    So you're going argumentum by full retard? Let's play a game for your simple mind. If Spending increased by 0% last year would the deficit have gone up or down? Down. If you had not had the tax cuts would the deficit have gone up or down given the spending? Up. Obviously it is the spending portion causing the deficits you fucking moron.

    Again, I'm not sure how I can be clearer about this. The Federal taxation rate is around 18%. It hovers between 18% and 20% no matter what the top marginal or corporate is. This can be seen by looking at the history of the tax code. That is the natural level at which people tend to find ways around taxation at high levels and give up finding loopholes at low levels.

    When you grow spending at 2x the gdp rate, you will always have a deficit unless starting from a high surplus baseline.

    I know you revel in your ignorance ont his one SQRLSY, so let me just ask you to do one thing. Plot e^1.02x against e^1.05x. That is the gdp rate (2% growth vs 5% spending increases) and see what happens.

    I can't help you if you are an idiot.

  • JesseAz||

    "The Federal taxation rate is around 18%." refers to the 18-20% GDP rate that tends to normalize given human behavior against a given tax rate.

  • ChuckNorrisBeardFist||

    Agreed. I mean right now you and the Dems say it's out patriotic duty to pay taxes. So you would still donate to the government right? You can even do that today on the IRS page you know.

    No-one's arguing that cutting to zero is the right number. Neither is rising it.

  • TuIpa||

    Bro, you have to come to terms with this. We are past pretending we can get out of this, and are at the stage where you should grab what you can before it all falls apart.

  • chipper me timbers||

    ^ this is actually not a bad metaphor for the state of things.

  • Don't look at me!||

    It's how I look at social security. Get it while the getting is good.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    You know who else grabbed what he could?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Trump?

  • soldiermedic76||

    Bill Clinton? Ellison? Possibly Stuart Smalley, er I mean Al Franken? Cory Booker? Weinstein?

  • Red Tony||

    STEVE SMITH DID NOT GRAB WHAT HE COULD. STEVE SMITH HAS NO REGRETS.

  • TuIpa||

    No one cares about your attempts to get a date.

  • Sonny Bono's Ghost||

    Burn the fucker down and pass me some ammo!!!!!

  • soldiermedic76||

    So according to Eric Boehm, the libertarian position is that we should raise taxes unless we can afford to keep them low? Hmmmmm, I thought taxation was theft, guess I was wrong.

  • JFree||

    No the libertarian position is that we should spend everything we can dream (cuz free lunches and free toys exist), pay for nothing (cuz paying for something equals theft), and leave the IOU's in kids piggybanks (cuz we need to break them of myths like Santa will bring you free toys)

  • soldiermedic76||

    Hmmmmm, I thought the libertarian position was to cut government to the bare bones thus reducing spending? Pretty sure the libertarian position is to cut welfare and as much of discretionary spending as is possible. Do you have proof of your assertions, or was it just partisan snark?

  • Sevo||

    "Do you have proof of your assertions, or was it just partisan snark?"

    Not only partisan snark, but from a dimbulb who can't seem to back his claims, rigtht JFree?

  • Sevo||

    Hey, JFree? Still waiting, JFree:
    https://reason.com/blog/2018/09/23/
    debate-corporate-data-collection-poses-a
    JFree; bullshitter or ignoramus? Tell us, JFree, which is it.

  • Sevo||

    Hey, JFuckup! Where did you go?

  • JeremyR||

    The thing is, like most people, Reason doesn't have any problem with government spending, just not on things they approve of (in their case, the military and drug war). They are happy government providing funding for arts & museums, abortions, and welfare/health care for illegal immigrants/aliens.

    While admittedly that is a drop in the bucket compared to the military spending, it's stuff that might be in danger if taxes were lowered.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Welfare is not a drop in the bucket compared to military spending. It is 3-4 times the size and growing.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Nevermind, misread. But military spending is a drop in the bucket compared to the welfare state.

  • chipper me timbers||

    The only way spending will ever be reduced is to reduce revenues. Spending is always a function of revenue and it is always higher than revenues.

    Eventually debt servicing will catch up to them but it's not going to be possible for them to raise revenues to cover the debt servicing AND keep other spending levels where they are.

    That's what I call a win win for everyone and I think that not only should the recent tax cuts be made permanent, but there should be a new round ASAP cutting them even further.

  • Qsl||

    Or they could enact new taxes to make up for the tax reductions,and exert more government control over more aspects of the economy.

    And of course there is always the option of hyperinflation to address debit servicing until it all comes crashing down.

    There is no "permanent" in tax reduction, as the next foible from the GOP results in democrats seizing control eventually. It is merely a political football to appease the chattering classes; raised a few points here reduced a few points there with no net changes over the long term except to reward cronies. I'd gladly accept higher corporate and income taxes as long as all other forms of taxation were abolished. Which one of these do you think serves the cause of free markets more?

  • vek||

    I agree that spending always exceeds revenue, therefore the lower the income the better. None of it makes much difference at the changes we're talking about of course, but some is better than none.

    With the stupidity of people it will almost certainly take a crisis of some sort before it is addressed. Whether we have total collapse, or merely inflate our way out of it, it will be a mess. If we had a lovely repeat of 1970s/early 1980s inflation for a decade or so our real world debt would be manageable again... But I bet the Chinese and other foreigners who hold our debt aren't going to like that much...

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    Pfft... while the Kavanaugh hearings were not going on I was thinking about Kavanaugh— namely, what a sham it was to believe sexual harassment allegations from an elitist *professor* from Commiefornia and just how hard it was for Poor Judge Kavanaugh to bear the weight of the huge cross he's placed around his neck. This just goes to prove that Republicans are the party of the little people like Judge Kavanaugh, who is a Regular Joe.

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    I'm just glad to see that with the election of Donald J. Trump by a wide margin that change is finally coming to America.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Trade wars, then nuclear wars and starvation are change, too... Behold The Arrival of CHANGE!!!!

  • Don't look at me!||

    Good thing we only have a bit of one of those things.

  • vek||

    Better than the alternative that was on the table... I'll take lower taxes, regulations, and getting harder on illegal aliens over the Hillary Clinton 1000 Ways To Destroy America Plan. That Trump isn't ACTUALLY perfect should come as no surprise to anybody... We haven't had a truly perfect God-Emporer since Thomas Jefferson!

  • MSimon||

    How about what Trump was doing?

    President Trump just signed on to the Globalist Drug War. At the UN. At a meeting he sponsored. Who else is covering it besides me? The CTH (link at the link)
    The Drug Cartels own Trump

    This may have something to do with it.

    "The Latin American drug cartels have stretched their tentacles much deeper into our lives than most people believe. It's possible they are calling the shots at all levels of government." – William Colby, former CIA Director, 1995

    Not too long after making that statement Colby died in a boating accident.

    Trump's old opinion on the subject.

    In a speech delivered at the Miami Herald's Company of the Year Awards luncheon [April 1990], Donald Trump condemned the "war on drugs" as "a joke" and called for the legalization of drugs. "We're losing badly the war on drugs," he said. "You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars."

    Drug Prohibition is socialism for criminals. Says Milton Friedman.

  • Sevo||

    "The Latin American drug cartels have stretched their tentacles much deeper into our lives than most people believe. It's possible they are calling the shots at all levels of government." – William Colby, former CIA Director, 1995
    Not too long after making that statement Colby died in a boating accident."

    Check Amazon; they have good deals on tin foil hats.

  • MSimon||

    Well you ought to look into Colby's death.

    But it is certain Colby made that Statement.

    And it is certain Trump signed on to the Globalist Drug War.

  • MSimon||

    The "boating accident" had some odd features. Like where the boat was found.

  • Sevo||

    I think the good ones, with the shiny side out, are $25 or so.

  • MSimon||

    In other words you are having an opinion based on the evidence in your imagination.

    There is a lot of that going around.

    Fortunately this is America and you are entitled to your error.

  • vek||

    With Trump being all Trump like, AKA all over the map, I said from the get go that he should just throw some of the less popular GOP positions under the bus. Stuff like actually just saying "Fuck it, we're going to legalize weed." and some other stuff. It would confuse the fuck out of Dems, likely cost them tons of votes, and the hardcore SoCons aren't going to get anybody else anyway, so they'll still vote for him. It is a fact that many people only vote Dem because they consider social positions more important than fiscal stuff, but are actually nominally fiscally conservative. I've met a LOT of people who would probably vote Republican if they were for legalizing weed and stopped babbling about abortion so much.

    But I ain't holding my breath.

  • Kay Faibe||

    Mention legalizing drugs and people freak out. All this does is make life more difficult for non drug addicted people to get pain medication. Alcohol is legal and there are actually people out here that don't drink.

  • MSimon||

    The freakout is caused by ignorance. Drugs don't cause addiction.

    Dr. Lonny Shavelson found that 70% of female heroin addicts were sexually abused in childhood.

    Addiction is a symptom of PTSD. Look it up.

    The NIDA says Addiction Is A Genetic Disease

  • MSimon||

    And it is no surprise that addiction is a genetic disease. Because PTSD is a genetic disease. It requires 2 factors. The genetics and sufficient trauma.

  • vek||

    Almost ALL traits are being found to be genetic in origin. We really are likely to end up being at Gattica levels with stuff too once we've figured out what genes do what.

  • MSimon||

    Now you have to ask yourself why our government would not be trumpeting this information.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Plenty of people don't drink, and plenty who do don't experience any problem with it.

    Drugs are no different. People freak out about legalizing all drugs because they've been taught for decades now that would lead to people jumping off buildings believing they can fly, or everyone and their grandmother becoming a junkie. It's bullshit, just as much as the idea that legal alcohol will turn every male into a wife beater or bar brawler.

  • Sevo||

    "Drugs are no different. People freak out about legalizing all drugs because they've been taught for decades now that would lead to people jumping off buildings believing they can fly, or everyone and their grandmother becoming a junkie. It's bullshit, just as much as the idea that legal alcohol will turn every male into a wife beater or bar brawler."

    And even if it were true, the government has in role in dealing with it.
    If people enjoy something which leads to a shorter life-span that is their choice.

  • James Pollock||

    "If people enjoy something which leads to a shorter life-span that is their choice."

    It's where people enjoy something that leads to a shorter life-span for other people that those other people get all uppity.

    A side-effect of use of intoxicating drugs is driving while under the influence of intoxicants (plus a number of other activities which are not driving but which can pose risks to other people when done while intoxicated.)

  • MSimon||

    plenty who do don't experience any problem with it.

    Well of course.

    1. A lack of the PTSD genetics
    2. A lack of sufficient trauma.

  • TuIpa||

    So, are we supposed to not notice your sockpuppet means"fake"?

  • Sevo||

    Whose sock do you presume it to be? I can't see any tells.

  • BYODB||

    I mean, other than this person is spouting the same stuff AddictionMyth did before their disappearance.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    So they weren't batin'?

  • Eman||

    It must kill al gore to see his signal achievement being so misused.

  • Ben_||

    So-called libertarian complains about reduced taxes, buys into the statist idea that spending can never be cut. Or that taxpayers should be looted indefinitely until there are zero problems in the US, and only then can taxpayers see any relief.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    I don't know who you mean, but that person doesn't sound like a libertarian.

    For one thing, even if every problem could be solved throwing money at it (and I would say few actual problems can be solved that way), I would still question the wisdom of having government be the ones to do that. They have a track record, you see. It usually involves paying way, way too much and getting far too little in the way is results.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Because I'm out of the news cycle, I didn't know who Michael Avenatti is. I just found out. Now I get where this whole thing is going.

  • Morbo||

    Now I get where this whole thing is going.

    To hell? In a GMO-free organically certified handbasket?

  • Genrallex||

    "and research into non-opioid pain killers"

    That's one thing that might not be too bad.

  • MSimon||

    The difficulty is that there are receptors for the pain signal. And if you fill those receptors you will get the effect of filling those receptors.

    The people trying to accomplish "non-opioid pain killers" don't even understand the science.

    Or they understand the science and they are doing a con.

  • MichaelL||

    I choose a con!

  • Eman||

    Pain receptors are a social construct.

  • vek||

    Well, I think the theory isn't that we need to find something that doesn't get people high, it's more to find something that won't also kill people with ODs... Although some people will complain about the gettin' high bit too.

  • Eman||

    I mean except for the people in pain who would be paying to have painkillers kept at a safe distance, but theyre a minority so small they dont even have a lobby. What difference, at any point, do they make?

  • Macaulay McToken||

    Neither party cares about reigning in out of control spending. Nor, too, do the majority of Americans.

    Unfortunately-- or fortunately, depending on your vantage point-- what neither party wants to do willingly, will one day be done out of necessity.

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    sufentanil—a substance that can be up to 500 times stronger than morphine."

    Have a great weekend!

    Oh, I will! MOGA!

  • Oscarson44.||

    Don't forget su's sibblings, alfentanyl and remifentanyl

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Anyone who knows a bit about how pharmacology works knows that these "500 times stronger" assertions are just media hype. Every medication or drug has a range that goes from too low to be effective all the way to toxic. An effective dosing range might vary somewhat depending on individual characteristics.

    Let's say an effective dose of morphine for pain relief is 1 gram. (I'm just making up a number for illlustration). That this sufentanil is "500 times stronger" just means the effective dose would be 2 micrograms. It doesn't tell us that it is inherently more deadly, just that it takes less of it to have the desired effect.

    A huge part of the danger of black market drugs is that dosing can be wildly inaccurate and inconsistent. So you could end up with a dose that's much higher than intended. But that's a consequence of a legal system that creates the conditions for a black market in the first place, it's not a reflection of the safety of the drug itself.

    During Prohibition, people sometimes were poisoned by bathtub gin or wood alcohol. What do you think the chances are that the bottle you buy in a liquor store will be accidentally toxic? I love how the stupid government, with their "opioid crisis" legislation is trying to fix a problem their legislation created in the first place. Idiots.

  • Sevo||

    "Let's say an effective dose of morphine for pain relief is 1 gram. (I'm just making up a number for illlustration). That this sufentanil is "500 times stronger" just means the effective dose would be 2 micrograms. It doesn't tell us that it is inherently more deadly, just that it takes less of it to have the desired effect."

    Ah, yes, fun with numbers!
    Thank you for making that clear; the publicists for AGW use the same sort of sophistry, but that is more obvious to me.

  • Oscarson44.||

    So our legislators keep requirements for patient satisfaction scores (which includes questions like "was your pain treated adequately?") which are used to determine physician reimbursement, and now fund treatment for patients when opioids get over prescribed (which should not have surprised to anyone). And just for fun, now add in punishment for physicians who try to meet the objectives of those required patient satisfaction score surveys.

    Makes total sense... If your goal is to make more people criminals.

  • U. R. Huyulov||

    Seems likely that Murkowski and Collins are split. Which is bad news for Kavanaugh. Here is my reasoning:

    Jeff Flake is definitely voting no. He is auditioning for the leftist media's new pet Republican, and a yes vote would torpedo that. On the other hand, he doesn't want to be the deciding "no" vote, because then he will not be accepted in the Mormon community. This is different from opposing Trump, who most Mormons hate; this is joining hands with sodomites to railroad a probably innocent family man.

    Manchin wants to vote yes to increase his chances of being reelected, but also does not want to be the deciding "yes" vote. That would make him the target of the left's unbearable wrath, a fate worse than losing his seat.

    So, for those two guys the perfect scenario is that Murkowski and Collins both vote the same way. If they vote yes, then Flake votes no and Manchin yes. Kavanaugh wins 51-49. Manchin can argue that even if he voted no, Pence would have broken the tie in favor of confirmation. Or if Collins and Murkowski both vote no, Flake and Manchin both vote no, so Kavanaugh loses 52-48. Flake can claim he wasn't the deciding vote.

  • U. R. Huyulov||

    If that had been the way things were working out, then Flake and Manchin would have allowed a vote on Monday to get things over with.

    But if they split, then Flake and Manchin still have to vote no. Kavanaugh loses 51-49. Flake and Manchin could both be seen as the deciding "no" vote, and get expelled from the temple and voted out of the Senate, respectively. Since Flake and Manchin don't want a Monday vote, this seems like they're trying to convince one of Murkowski and Collins to change their mind.

  • MSimon||

    You have not factored in the problem the Mormons are having with Med Pot (it is on the ballot). So big a problem that they have given up on "we are totally against pot in all circumstances" and now admit that it might have some medical uses. .

  • vek||

    Jeff Flake is such a piece of shit.

    Reason loves to call him some sort of libertarian... But he's been anything but. Rand Paul sometimes votes against stuff I would be in favor of, but he is doing it from a somewhat principled position, so I let him slide. Flake is just a run of the mill squishy, big government, moderate, RINO. Nothing more and nothing less. He's too much of a pussy to draw the ire of the left on anything, but isn't a principled enough libertarian to be doing it for real reasons like Paul or Amash might.

  • esteve7||

    Kav's hearing were not a circus, they were a Stalinist show trial.

    In a circus, you don't accuse people of being a serial rapist and violent drunk without a single shred of evidence, proclaim he is guilty before you even hear him speak, and attack him for defending himself.

    It wasn't a circus, it was a fucking travesty, and a wake up call that the left will never stop and is willing to do anything for power. That's what it was.

  • Rich||

    Tax Reform 2.0 comes with a price tag of more than $500 billion added to the deficit—an amount future taxpayers will have to cover.

    This presumes "future taxpayers" is a thing.

  • sarcasmic||

    There will be future taxpayers, but the dollars they will be paying taxes with won't be worth the paper they're printed on.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Do you think it will be a giant meteor or hostile aliens that eliminates the future taxpayers? I'm not sure myself.

  • Rich||

    Oh, future *people* will probably exist. Whether they embrace the role of "taxpayer" is the question.

  • Don't look at me!||

    You can reduce the " price tag" to zero by cutting spending. The future taxpayers will enjoy that as well.

  • MichaelL||

    What we have with the fake "opiod crisis" is a reason for politicians to decide they know better how to care for patients in pain. They are practicing medicine without a license. But, us pain patients are just more collateral damage. As were many of my fellow physicians, who were trying to use good science to treat chronic pain. I just hope a those bastards end up dying in pain, poorly treated because of their ignorance, and arrogance. They are not as smart as they think they are. At this point, I say let the idiots who get addicted on our pain medicines end up in in miserable withdrawal. They deserve the misery for what they caused the people in control to do to us, who know how to properly take our pain pills!

  • MSimon||

    Evidently the school you went to disn't teach what is known about addiction.

    Dr. Lonny Shavelson found that 70% of female heroin addicts were sexually abused in childhood

    Addiction is a symptom of PTSD. Look it up.

    The NIDA says Addiction Is A Genetic Disease

    The "genetic disease" part should be no problem if you understand that PTSD is in part genetic.

  • Verbum Vincet||

    I pretty much agree with everything you say, except for the blatantly hypocritical part about 'letting addicts end up in miserable withdrawal,' because if they hadn't broken the rules (which are inherently flawed) your 'representatives' in the big, bad government wouldn't be forced to take it out on _you_. 'As long as I get mine, f**k everyone else!' That kind of attitude is, in itself, indicative of denial. It's also somewhat surprising to hear from a physician, who would almost certainly be familiar with the current 'disease model'!

    As a doctor, you must certainly know that virtually no one sets out to get addicted to any substance, and addict or not, tolerance is tolerance. Cut your 'legitimate' dose and you'll suffer every bit as much as an 'illegitimate' user. Basically, you're guilty of the same thinking that you condemn when it's politicians doing the picking and choosing, from afar.

  • Cyto||

    Which strongly argues against our puritanical attitudes towards recreational drug use.

    If we quit thinking of "getting high" as an illegitimate goal, maybe things would be different.

    Imagine, if you will, a world in which getting high is not illegal. A world in which going somewhere to get high is a normal thing. Imagine the "bars" that would spring up. We used to have opium dens 130 years ago where people went to get high. Imagine a bar where you could use substances socially.

    But getting plowed on heroin is not very good for anyone. Not very social, and lots of downsides. So maybe people start looking around for other substances. Companies freed to experiment with dosing controls, fast-clearing drugs, low addiction drugs, etc. might come up with some really good ideas.

    So you could have a NOX shot from an inhaler made by Pfizer. Or a breakfast drink made with coca leaf tea as a pick-me-up.

    They already work to remove the "euphoria' from opiods used in pain medication. What if they moved to enhance the euphoria part? How about a nice opium buzz that lasts 30 minutes and then quickly dissipates? Right now that can't exist.

    Absent the heavy hand of prohibition, all of this could be possible.

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    God! Some liberal douche actually wrote this:

    Trumpism, at its core, is a rebellion against changes in American society that undermine traditional hierarchies. It's based on the belief that these changes, rather than promoting fairness for historically oppressed groups, actually promote "political correctness": the oppression of white, native-born Christian men.

    I mean... the nerve of these libs suggesting that White men are the biggest bitches on the planet.

  • vek||

    LOL

    Trump is a vote against all that nonsense... But it's because the left has been discriminating against white people, and men of all colors. The entire world is turning upside down because of slanted university entrance requirements that are lowered for women and non Asian minorities, hence not allowing the most capable people to actually gain entrance. The same thing is going on in businesses. This means your Doctor is no longer the best person who applied to med school... That has not good outcomes...

    If their equality screed was about actual equal treatment, I'd be fine... But it's not.

    They're knee capping the most capable people in society, and promoting incompetent people. I do believe Ayn Rand may have written a 87,368 page book on the subject that I read as a teenager... The outcome of such things is not good. We already have the beginning stages of seeing what a collapsing society looks like, give it another couple decades without changing course and we will be living in Atlas Shrugged, except it will be women and minorities as the incompetents unlike all white men as it was in the book...

    Destroying the false notion of equality of outcomes is the most important thing we could achieve in coming years... Because all groups will never have that, for various reasons, but mainly because we're not all the same in skillsets or desires.

  • Sevo||

    I'm getting a news-feed that Flake changed position because some woman said "look at me" in the elevator?
    I live in CA so I'm used to being 'represented' by brain-deads responding to emotion, and this would not surprise me if it were, oh, Pelosi or Harris. But Flake is promoted here often as being 'libertarian leaning', for pete's sake.
    Hey, Flake! If you are unable to explain you'd prefer logic to naked appeals to emotion, maybe you ought to try the 5th grade again. I think that's when the teachers began to hint that you ought to *think* about your answer.

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    I know! The nerve of these "legislators" who actually want to wait a week before confirming a man credibly accused by three women of sexual assault. Pfft, when I served in 'Nam grabbing a women and covering her mouth up so she wouldn't scream was how we greeted those godless Gook women. SJWs and Abbie Hoffman have fucking ruined everything, my soul bro.

  • Sevo||

    Fuck off, commie kid.

  • DRM||

    Credible?

    You keep using that word . . .

  • BigT||

    "credibly accused"

    Ford added no info to her allegations during her act. She did, however, expose her blatant lie about her fear of flying when she admitted to jetting around the world for her hobbies. I hope someone picked up on this and she is charged.

  • vek||

    Flake is a spineless cuck, nothing more or less. He is not a libertarian, just a squish who goes whatever way he thinks the wind is blowing.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Like Bullwinkle sez... "Nothin' up mah sleeve!"

  • Eddy||

    I wonder if there's a connection between the out-of-control spending and the abandonment of constitutional restraints, as here in the post:

    "The final version of the bill, which passed the House 393-8 on Friday and now heads to the Senate, will spend about $8 billion on state-run opioid treatment centers and research into non-opioid pain killers. It also beefed up border security in the name of stopping the importation of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and other lab-made drugs.

    "But the bill may unintentionally increase demand for fentanyl and other drugs used by opioid addicts who can't get a legal fix. Several provisions in the proposal would restrict access to prescription painkillers; other aspects of the legislation would increase penalties for drug manufacturers and doctors deemed to have over-sold and over-prescribed opioids."

  • Eddy||

    Good thing we have a medical-research and regulating-the-practice-of-medicine clause in the Constitution, plus a generic prohibition clause, otherwise one might think Congress was overreaching...and that includes spending...a billion here, a billion there, sooner or later we're talking about real money.

  • ChuckNorrisBeardFist||

    Boy Reason, you used to be a good site. You had a good run.

    Tax cuts blow a whole in the budget...hummm. I mean those last tax cuts sure must have made the movement be begging for money right? I mean that's Reason and Dems points after all.

    Oh way...

    Federal government tax revenue

    FY 2019 - $3.422 trillion, estimated.
    FY 2018 - $3.34 trillion, estimated.
    FY 2017 - $3.32 trillion.
    FY 2016 - $3.27 trillion.
    FY 2015 - $3.25 trillion.

    Record revenue Eric. Record. It's both party's spending problem. Not that taxes are too low.

  • Cyto||

    FWIW, I'd say that if you can't make due on three trillion dollars, you probably have a spending problem.

  • Cyto||

    As a comparison, the budget for China, a country three times the population of the United States, is 1.3 trillion yuan. Or about $200 billion.

    At least, that's their publicly disclosed budget.

    And they are having trouble with deficit spending, even in an economy with a target of 6.5% annual growth. Their deficits are ballooning to around 3% of GDP.

    The US budget deficit is bouncing around 3.5% to 4+% of GDP. Our current interest cost on nearly $20 trillion in debt is around $500 billion per year. Imagine how much better off we'd be if we didn't have THAT hole in the budget.

    But that number is in a time of historically low interest rates. As interest rates rise..... hooo-boy. Look out.

  • Cyto||

    Blows a huge hole in the budget....

    nice turn of phrase.

    And I suppose in absolute terms, $60 billion per year (estimated) is a pretty big hole.

    But in a budget that has, what, a dozen holes bigger than that one? Maybe not so easy to spot. This budget is swiss cheese, to continue the "hole in budget" metaphor. Complaining about this newest hole is kinda just whistling in the dark.

    Oh, and remember how we had to set up that "trust fund" for social security or the budget would be destroyed by all the retirees in 2022-2024? Remember how we doubled payroll taxes to "fund" that "trust fund" so that we would have that to draw down when the time came?

    Yeah.... the time is nigh. Anyone have a clue how we are going to pay the social security trust fund when all of those T-bills come due?

  • U. R. Huyulov||

    Replace everybody's risky 401k stock portfolio with safe, trustworthy T-bills, with the happy side effect of funding trillion dollar deficits for another decade or two. CFPR was already exploring this option under Obama.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    As everyone above states, spending is the problem. From a libertarian perspective, this conclusion is obvious and necessary - the government spends money and that distorts the free market. Distorting the free market reduces freedom from it's continuously dynamic rebalanced optimum.

    Duh.

    What projecting these enormous deficits (or global warming, or overpopulation, or peak oil) always seems to ignore is technology.

    If you can believe the panicking class, we are on the verge of universal unemployment due to robots taking over all our jobs. This is full on retard. If robots are self-repairing and self replicating, we have really cheap robots. If robots can take on all medical tasks we have cheap healthcare. If not, we have health care jobs. There is no point where technology does not improve things (well, other than the inflection point of them deciding we are a glitch in the system. This isn't a problem since we, as rugged individualist libertarians, are all in on fighting the machine).... Uh, yeah. So more blah, blah. Robots are just one of the many life improving technologies that are being continuously introduced and which completely invalidate all these Cassandras and their proclamations.

    Today is the best day in the history of the world. That will also be true of tomorrow and the day after.

    Keep calm and carry on. It's going to be a damned good day.

  • U. R. Huyulov||

    If you can believe the panicking class, we are on the verge of universal unemployment due to robots taking over all our jobs. This is full on retard.

    Doesn't have to be "universal" to be a severe problem. Idle hands are the devil's workbench.

    If robots can take on all medical tasks we have cheap healthcare. If not, we have health care jobs.

    Labor is not the only price input to health care, so it may still be expensive even with robots. In your second scenario, those jobs are (a) already filled, and (b) generally unpleasant. Even a lowly checkout cashier would rue the day he or she had to switch to wiping elderly buttocks for a living.

    There is no point where technology does not improve things

    Improves things for some people, yes. Not necessarily in general, and certainly not for everyone. People working to produce vinyl records, VCR tapes, carburetors, and of course the travel agency and retail industries have been devastated by technological advances. I know the typical libertarian response is "boo hoo, learn new skills." As if that's an easy thing for a person in late middle age to do, and regardless it doesn't apply when industries across the spectrum are all automating jobs out of existence.

  • vek||

    As someone who keeps up on these things a lot, you're over simplifying things A LOT.

    The choice isn't between exactly the same job structure as we have now where basically everybody works, and some Star Trek like future where everything is free or near free, although even that would imply some form of communism... Either of those would work fine...

    The reality is likely to be a system where a small cognitive elite has a high enough IQ to still be useful for super high end work, and another small percentage of people still need to do menial tasks that can't be automated... But because there are 10 people capable of doing such menial jobs for every one open, they have no market value. No jobs for the other 80% of the population, or whatever the number ends up being.

    This would mean a total breakdown in a capitalistic system functioning, sans redistribution of wealth or other crazy government measures... This worries me.

  • vek||

    We're not there now, and I would imagine we have a few decades at least, but it is a very real possibility.

    I can imagine ways of mitigating it, such as employing people just to have a human doing something, the hand made artisan XYZ fad is almost an early sign of this type of thinking. Reducing work week hours, increasing consumption through the roof (90% reduction in labor per output needs the same labor if you consume 10x as much!), every elite worker has 4 servants, etc.

    But none of those are guaranteed to pan out, or be enough. And yeah, transitioning jobs is not as easy as people make it out to be either. Many people simply aren't capable of doing the jobs that there are to replace the old ones either. Your average factory worker doesn't have the IQ to become an AI developer... There are many, many issues.

    It will be a trying time whatever the outcome, with lots of tumult even if it works itself out in the end.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    You nailed it when you brought up the artisan trend. People can convince themselves that anything they do has value and the more idle time we have due to technology, the more people can market their uniqueness.

    By the standards of my grandfather, the tech-apocolypse has happened. I don't do anything all day. I sit in a comfy chair in an air-conditioned office, get to walk around when I feel like it, and basically type things into an amazingly ergonomic computer system. This is better than his best day off.

    And yet I complain, as does everyone else.

    If all we do all day is make unique farting noises while we are catered to cradle to grave, we will still think we are working too hard, and someone will 'pay' us in some way.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Your average factory worker doesn't have the IQ to become an AI developer

    Likely, your average factory worker does. Because you don't need a high IQ to work in the tech industry (it helps but it isn't an absolute requirement). What you need is an ability to develop your talent.

  • Tell It Right||

    "...you don't need a high IQ to work in the tech industry (it helps but it isn't an absolute requirement)".

    Depends on what part of the IT industry. Vek was talking about developing AI (we've overused the term, but I'll go with it). Unless you're talking about the fringe parts of it where it's just glorified configuration, then it does require a nice IQ. That's not me just being biased (I've done some AI, and my IQ is 125 which is not too shabby).

  • vek||

    As mentioned, it depends.

    Can a normal intelligence guy pick up a phone and possibly walk a below average IQ person through them not being able to figure out how something on their new Smart TV that includes a virtual assistant works? Sure. That's vaguely tech related employment... Or a little further, might he be able to reboot a server when it crashes? Or deal with backing up systems when something goes wrong with the automated backup process? Or a number of other similar dumbed down tasks? Most likely.

    But the 95 IQ tech support guy really will not be able to do anything cutting edge, or important. Problem is, all that above type semi simple stuff is going to become more and more automated. Doing the REAL important work requires real brains.

    You are clearly caught up in the nonsense idea that people are all equally capable if they just try hard enough. That's a bunch of bullshit. It's not true. Remember high school? Remember those kids doing pre-algebra (or lower!) senior year? Those guys can't do lots of shit. They don't have the IQ for it. It doesn't mean they're bad people, many of my best friends in life are not bright people, but they cannot be rocket scientists. This has implications.

  • vek||

    People are not all equal, or equally capable. PERIOD.

    If you base conclusions off of this premise, you will be wrong in your conclusions. There are lots of things for people of normal intelligence to do now, the question is how much of that type of work will there be in 50 years. It is possible that the answer is: not much. Time will tell. I already mentioned many things that could mitigate it, but none are guaranteed to fully address the issue.

    But drop the incorrect idea that effort alone is enough for people to do anything, it's just not true.

    The "big lie" that all people are ACTUALLY equal needs to be eliminated. Jefferson never meant that all people were equal in capabilities, merely that they deserved equal treatment under the law, and in a moral sense. I agree with this.

    Half of the problems in the world are because people nowadays refuse to accept that some people are more capable than others, hence will always do better. If you assume people are all equal, then any difference in outcomes must be discrimination... But it's not. Some people are simply more capable. Destroy the equality lie, and we can destroy most of the nonsense associated with socialism.

    There's a natural mental pecking order in humanity, and not everybody is born at the top of that pecking order... It sucks, but it's reality.

  • Eman||

    Someday, with all our advances in molecular science and understanding of he human body, we'll be able to make a such a perfect painkiller you wont even know you're taking it.

  • Eddy||

    I don't want to tamper with nature like that, so I gave painkiller to my clone.

  • Let freedom ring||

    Reasonoids- you are still asking the wrong question! Who cares what the income tax rate is, if you have no net taxable income? Most Americans (estimated 60 -80 %) have no taxable income. Not because of deductions, tax credits, etc. I am also referring tp payroll taxes. State and local income and payroll taxes. Those who have liability often enjoy non taxable income as well.
    Because of the taxing clauses of Art 1 USC, the income tax code is very narrowly written. All employers are federal, withholding is limited to those federal paymasters. Even a "trade or business"is a federal office (or its agencies and instrumentalities). The power to levy wages is also limited to federal wages.
    The imposition of the federal income tax on the population at large after WWII is the crime of the century. Yet those of us who read the law as written are considered kooks. Congress must have meant everyone, they say. The courts have never ruled in your favor they shriek!
    But the IRS has refunded millions of dollars since 2003 for those who insist on upholding the rule of law and file educated tax returns.
    The politicians won't stop accepting your voluntary contributions. It is up to individuals to shut off the money spigot. www.losthorizons.com

  • Enemy of the State||

    Yeah the IRS has put numerous morons following advice like yours in the slammer...

  • Tell It Right||

    I agree with the author's fussing over the spending. But I disagree with the fussing over extending the tax cuts. The tax cuts created more revenue. Plus, there's this thing about me keeping more of my stuff and doing what I want with it. Maybe I'm the only true libertarian posting on here.

  • rano del||

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  • Enemy of the State||

    Tax cuts never need to be financed, paid for andd do not cause deficits. Only spending needs to be paid for and when it isn't it causes deficits adding to the debt.

    So stop with the Marxist crappola that implies the state owns our income...

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