Laissez Faire Links: Government Shutdown, Delaying the Obamacare Mandate, the Morality of Abortion, and Myths Against Capitalism

What would a proper government shutdown look like?  Why will President Obama need to delay his mandate provision?  Can a woman be charged with homicide for aborting her baby?  Did capitalism cause the 2008 financial crisis?

  • Ari Armstrong over at The Objective Standard talks about a government shutdown that would be welcomed.  His brief piece Toward a Shutdown to Celebrate makes the point that most government functions are superfluous, and there are many.  Beneath the umbrella of laissez-faire capitalism, the proper function of government is strictly limited to protector of individual rights.  He states, “In order to protect rights, the government needs to run an effective military, police force, court system, and the aspects of government necessary to support them. Those, and nothing else, are the essential functions of government.”
  • Forbes contributor Scott Gottlieb discusses problems the new government healthcare exchanges are having out of the gate.  Why President Obama Will Have To Delay His Health Insurance Mandate makes the case that technical problems with the virtual exchange rollout will necessitate a delay in the requirement for those uninsured to purchase coverage.  His prognosis is not optimistic: “The Administration started building these systems late, and rushed them online, without perfecting these networks. Working them out now, in real time, is going to take months, and maybe a year.”  With that large of a delay, the Obama Administration will have to backpedal on its threat to penalize the uninsured.
  • Just a little more from our friends at The Objective Standard tells us about a possible Colorado ballot measure that would effectively criminalize any and all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.  The measure would go further though.  In addition to calling for “homicide prosecutions for killing the unborn,” the “Brady Amendment” violates a women’s moral right to choose how she lives and what is best for her and her body.
  • Did Capitalism Cause the Financial Crisis?  This is a short, but invaluable video regarding the common myth that capitalism failed, resulting in the 2008 financial meltdown. Yaron Brook, Director of the Ayn Rand Institute, states that this is erroneous because a true system of laissez-faire capitalism did not exist prior to 2008.  What did exist was a degree of government intervention that distorted the market, leading to bubbles in asset prices that never would have existed under natural market forces.  It is no coincidence that the three most highly regulated industries – housing, banking, and mortgages – were those that failed.  Pay particular attention to his comments on the Federal Reserve system.  For more information, see my discussions of the Federal Reserve.

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Laissez Faire Links: Myths Agaisnt Capitalism, Obamacare, Budget Talks, and the Index of Economic Freedom

Myths against capitalism, Doctors under Obamacare, budget cuts in lieu of growing government (how can that be?), and a decline in economic freedom for Americans are up for discussion today.

  • Check out Don Watkins’ new article over at the American on the common equation of successful businessmen with “greedy capitalists”.  The comparison often made between crooks like Bernie Madoff and successful businessmen such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs are erroneous at best.  On the contrary, the two are polar opposites.
  • Ari Armstrong points out the new problem posed by Obamacare in Under ObamaCare, “The Doctor Can’t See You Now”
  • The Republicans are just as guilty as the Democrats regarding our growing welfare state.  Michael A. Laferrara discusses the supposed “cuts” from SNAP proposed by Republicans.  The important point to note, however, is that no entity in Washington questions the morality of federal assistance and its growing role in the daily lives of Americans.
  • Indeed, federal assistance has become its own institution in Washington, often dominating political issues as fundamental and basic as the fiscal budget.  The current shutdown is a result not of politics in itself, but a fundamental disagreement between left and right on the scope of government involvement, symbolized most prominently by Obamacare.  The Senate rejection of House budget proposals along with current polls of Obamacare indicate that Washington listens little to the people when making decisions that affect them on a daily basis.

In every poll conducted by eight major national pollsters this year, opposition to the Affordable Care Act outweighs support. In the September 2013 CBS News/New York Times poll, for example, 39 percent of respondents approve of the law and 51 percent disapprove. In the mid-September Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 39 percent have a favorable view of it and 43 percent an unfavorable one. The late September CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found 38 percent in favor and 57 percent opposed.

Minimum Wage Laws: State Intervention Leads to Individual Degradation

The following article from the Objective Standard Blog explains how minimum wage laws hurt individuals.  In addition, it highlights how the issue has become mischaracterized, cloaked in the shrouds of altruism.  This ideology is perhaps the most dangerous of all, for it legitimizes the State in almost every aspect of life.  Regarding the minimum wage, altruism supplants the individual’s ability to earn a living, with the State’s authority to forcefully redistribute wealth.

Minimum Wage Laws: Immoral, Crippling, and Nevertheless Supported by Many.

Obamacare Exchanges Falsely Called ‘Marketplaces’

via Google Images

It seems the new propaganda coming out of Washington attempts to disguise Obamacare’s state-run health care exchanges as “marketplace” exchanges. The deceit is of course that Americans will retain their freedom of choice when purchasing health care, or for making the decision to purchase any care at all for that matter. Most of us realize the deception in this, but the following piece from the Daily Caller’s Twila Brase, President of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, indicates the smoke-and-mirrors approach often taken by governments to pass and garner support for unpopular legislation.

The left-leaning Herndon Alliance reported on research that determined the best words to use to sell exchanges to the American public. The research found that the term “marketplace” was the best option, particularly with members of the public opposed to Obamacare or opposed to big government. Adoption of the word “marketplace” in place of “exchange” is now being promoted at both the state and federal level. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently changed its exchange terminology. In an effort to build support for the exchanges, the HHS eliminated the term “health insurance exchange” and replaced it with “health insurance marketplace.” These efforts to dupe the public are disingenuous.

The reality is that on state insurance exchanges available health insurance plans will be limited by a host of federal regulations; personal privacy will be violated, because the exchanges will be connected to various state agencies and a wide variety of federal agencies — including the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the IRS, the Social Security Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services — that will share citizens’ data without consent; the federal government will use an individual’s income, tax, employment, medical, family and citizenship data to determine eligibility for coverage and premium subsidies; and it will be impossible to purchase health insurance without federal approval.

You can read the whole article here.

Apathy in America, The Answer is Philosophy

20130228-174934.jpgThe degree of political ignorance among the American populace is difficult to surmise. On one hand, college enrollment has steadily increased over the past four decades, indicating a much larger educated segment of the population. In addition, the advantages of the internet in information dissemination is so great, it literally furnishes the potential for a truly informed democratic republic. On the other hand, the apathy of the American people in the face of our government’s oppression of individual rights in the name of the public welfare is equally astounding. Our lack of opposition, or of any useful degree of organized opposition, is symptomatic of apathy.

Yet in lieu of the information revolution, room for a more hopeful interpretation exist. Perhaps the lack of response stems not from apathy fueled by a largely distracted populace, but rather from a different kind of apathy, one that too often results from information overload. Too much information too quickly thrown into the homes of America, perhaps turns people away from the important issues of the day, i.e. the economy, government spending, privacy versus national security. Over the last decade, legislation such as the Patriot Act, Obamacare, and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have passed into law often unread by the very legislators voting yay or nay. Less likely is that the average American is familiar with these laws or how they affect individual rights. Nor is the bureaucratic language that often weaves these unintelligible bills together typically accessible to anyone without a law degree.

So the riddle is this. What does a person require in order to filter massive amounts of information often representing opposing viewpoints? What is required of people to be informed short of a genuine desire to maintain one’s general awareness of current events? While people will disagree on the specifics, the simple answer is philosophy. For philosophy is a framework by which information can be analyzed, compartmentalized, and analyzed again for future use. It allows one to establish a system of beliefs that coincide with one’s life choices. More importantly, philosophy furnishes a backdrop by which one can analyze choices and cause and effect, so that if the perceived outcome of a choice is not what was expected, one still has a means of looking back to see what caused the outcome.  Given America’s ongoing economic turmoil, I believe the following words from philosopher Ayn Rand are particularly relevant.

The power that determines the establishment, the changes, the evolution, and the destruction f social systems is philosophy.  The role of chance, accident, or tradition, in this context, is the same as their role in the life of an individual; their power stands in inverse ratio to the power of a culture’s (or an individual’s) philosophical equipment, and grows as philosophy collapses.  It is, therefore, by reference to philosophy that the character of a social system has to be defined and evaluated.

Passage from The Ayn Rand Lexicon, s.v. “Philosophy.”

In short, a good philosophy sheds ambivalence. It allows its user to see essentials without the gray that often accompanies political and social debate. And it also acts as a how-to guide amidst information overload.

When thinking of philosophy, we typically associate it with a time long passed, yet never before has the need for a solidly based system of thinking been so prescient.  As technology advances, the amount of information available will increase as well as its rate of circulation throughout society.  In this sense, philosophy acts as a how-to guide to living with and evaluating massive amounts of information.  Consequently, the times ahead will require that we all embrace philosophy more than ever before.

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