Obamacare Exchanges Falsely Called ‘Marketplaces’

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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.

Genius of Democracy is in the Details

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The following is a nice piece that furnishes a quick summary of how government, namely the “social contract,” has evolved, yet continues on its exclusionary path of the people it governs.  If you thought Democracy was alive and well, Bill Bonner urges you to check your premises.

“…the genius of modern representative government is that it cons the masses into believing that they are insiders too. They are encouraged to vote…and to believe that their vote really matters. Of course, it matters not at all. Generally, the voters have no idea what or whom they are voting for. Often, they get the opposite of what they thought they had voted for anyway….

…now the insiders are in trouble. The typical citizen is beginning to realize that he’s been had. As long as the insiders could plausibly promise him more and more benefits, he was willing to go along. But now, growth has stalled. They can’t deliver. The insiders keep borrowing — more than $10 trillion this year alone. Soon, they’ll be out of credit…out of time…and out of luck.”

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The genius of our representative democracy, then, is that it is not representative at all.  Yet if furnishes the political elite the legal and presumptuously moral rights to tax our wealth.  Just something to chew on for a while.

The Financial Crisis, Foreseeable and Preventable

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When a government bails out  an auto company or any bank, it essentially charges the central bank (our Federal Reserve System) with transferring the risk from that company to the government, i.e. taxpayers.  We’ve known this and many other basic economic truths for many years. Yet despite all the claims to ignorance by Washington and the media conglomerates,  here are some other economic truths that should have tipped off policy experts to the financial implosion in 2008.

We’ve Known for Thousands of Years

We’ve known for literally thousands of years that debts need to be periodically written down, or the entire economy will collapse. And see this.

We’ve known for 1,900 years that rampant inequality destroys societies.

We’ve known for thousands of years that debasing currencies leads to economic collapse.

We’ve known for hundreds of years that the failure to punish financial fraud destroys economies.

We’ve known for hundreds of years that monopolies and the political influence which accompanies too much power in too few hands is dangerous for free markets.

We’ve known for hundreds of years that trust is vital for a healthy economy.

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Of particular interest is the last statement above, that trust is vital for a healthy economy.  While this may seem obvious, actually creating trust and confidence in a market becomes more difficult as government interventions increase.  Governments intervene in markets when they fail, but when a government fails due to market intervention (stimulus/deficit spending), one has to ask whether such actions are sufficiently warranted.  Adam Smith issued a solemn, yet practical, warning against misdirected government intervention and the interests behind them.

“The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public.  To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers.  To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but tot narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens.  The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.  It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the pubic, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it” (Wealth of Nations, 287-88. Modern Library Edition)

Despite the misconception that economics is an extremely complicated field, it essentially provides a methodology for examining human behavior, primarily how incentives contribute to individual choice.  Incentives, according  to Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (authors of Freakonomics), are at the root of economic analysis and provide a window into the economic, moral, and social musings of any society.  Although our so-called policy experts would have you believe that such complexities are not for the layman and should be left to them, nothing could be further from the truth.  Economic analysis such as this is simply a matter of aligning incentives with outcomes.  Whether they be of powerful interests, government officials, or the people, incentives govern behavior and the market bears that behavior to society and the people.

At this point, only one thing remains clear.  The more market distortions we see from government intervention, the more difficulties we inherit in trying to make rational decisions based on market factors and the overall position of our economy.   The implication is this: government intervention does more harm than good because it distorts market signals and creates misaligned incentives.

If you are not privy to this information, I suggest reading and rereading the article above in its entirety.  I first found this article on Monty Pelerin’s World, a very worthwhile site if you are attempting the daunting task of sifting through the lies and manipulation coming from Washington and the media.

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Entitlement America, Fiscally and Morally Bankrupt

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If one were to make the claim that America is fiscally insolvent, as I’ve made numerous times, one would then have to ask themselves why. While there is no one answer to this question, there is one ideology that underlies today’s reality.  The “Entitlement Generation,” a term thrown around characterizing today’s western youth, has more to say about America’s fiscal bankruptcy than any politician or campaign slogan could possibly utter.  Yet, the entitlement disease in not confined to western youth. Rather, our youth are only the latest victims of an ideology begun nearly 80 years ago amidst the wake of the Great Depression.  Four generations later, we are seeing its effects. Charles Hugh Smith comments:

“The entitlement mindset atrophies self-reliance, adaptability and flexibility, all key survival traits. If the government will “fix” our health, we no longer feel responsible in the way one does if there is limited government/employer-provided healthcare. If we expect our Social Security retirement regardless of what other conditions may be affecting the global economy or our nation, then we stop being responsible for managing our financial affairs in the same way as one does when there is no “guaranteed” retirement entitlement.”

Yet, few American’s recognize our current situation as an effect of the entitlement ideology, seeing it instead through the lens of the mainstream media and our policy hounds throughout Washington as a debate over the “social good.”

Ask any politician interested in maintaining his or her Congressional seat what surrounds debates in Washington.  They will quickly answer that they seek only what is best for America.  Best according to who? The Washington ideology underlying much of its policies such as stimulus spending – both from the fiscal side (government) and the monetary side (the Federal Reserve) – never ending tax cuts, or a perpetually climbing debt ceiling is grounded on the false notion of an endless line of credit.  We all saw that assumption severely weakened this year with the S&P downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt.  Despite a jobless recovery, lack of lending from banks to businesses and consumers, and a still-floundering housing market, their ideology has not changed.

Jeremy Bentham, by Henry William Pickersgill (...

The “social good” still sits atop the pedestal of Washingtonian rhetoric as not only something obtainable, but something that is real and quantifiable.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  If one were to place this false notion within the context of an already developed area of political economy, they would look to Bentham’s utilitarianism and its “greatest happiness principle,” which simply states that government should pursue such that produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people.  However, there is an inherent conflict embedded within this utilitarian philosophy.  Bentham also recognized the futility of measuring the “social good” without the individual.  Yet, his greatest happiness principle places the individual as a sacrificial lamb to the needs of society.

Utilitarianism is much the same as the entitlement ideology, except for one small development.  The latter is the next step in utilitarianism’s development.  Charles Smith stated, “The poisonous problem with the entitlement mindset is intrinsic to human nature: once we deserve something, then our minds fill with resentment and greed, and we focus obsessively on creating multiple rationalizations for why we deserve our fair share.”  Fulfilling the expectation and demand for one’s bread at the expense of another for no other reason than one’s entitlement is the basis of Washington politics today.  This is their philosophy and, contrary to rational expectations concerning the fiscal solvency of America, encapsulates their policies, campaign slogans, and empty promises for a better future.

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The entitlement state effectively supplants the market as the arbiter of social relations.  An entitlement state creates bread lines, while a market creates factories that produce bread.  An entitlement state creates zombies that stand in those lines, breathlessly awaiting their next handout, while a market creates laborers who work in the  bread factory and who upon payment for their labor purchase the bread they produced.  An entitlement state creates animosity among the people, lest the government deem their neighbors needier than they, while a market distributes goods and services according the natural laws of any harmonious society.  An entitlement state is the result of an ideology based on self-neglect, weakness, and irrational expectation, while the market is the result of an ideology based on self-sufficiency, strength, and rational thought.  The entitlement state is crucial in establishing a statist government, while the market ensures a small decentralized federal government.  Essentially, the market is the result of a multitude of individual desires (choices made by free individuals) and thus has an inherent aptitude at coordinating society in such a way that benefits the most people in the most ways.  But underlying all this is the key component of any market system, liberty.

Life is freely given, but its preservation must be earned everyday.  Our politicians live in a world where their hubris is matched only by their want of control.  The entitlement ideology is taking hold, effectively bankrupting America both fiscally and morally.  Government would have you believe otherwise, yet the ideology underpinning their policies and programs will not change the nature of reality.  In fact, it is the market, and the market only, that preserves the natural rights (rights granted to all by virtue of one being human) of the individual.

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Capitalism’s True Legacy, Freedom and Plenty

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Anthony Gregory’s piece below exerts a passionate defense of our nation’s and the world’s namesake.  Indeed, capitalism has taken quite a beating over the past few decades. Yet, despite all the ideological debates among politicians, bureaucrats, and academics, one cannot deny that the fruits of capitalism are present all around us.  It was not government that provided us with our way of life. Rather, the twentieth century saw its progress forged from the furnaces of the human mind.   Ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and labor built the world we live in, not welfare, food stamps, social security, medicare and the myriad of state-funded programs that are now draining the coffers of Americans nationwide.

It is simply a fact that capitalism, even hampered by the state, has dragged most of the world out of the pitiful poverty that characterized all of human existence for millennia. It was industrialization that saved the common worker from the constant tedium of primitive agriculture. It was the commodification of labor that doomed slavery, serfdom, and feudalism. Capitalism is the liberator of women and the benefactor of all children who enjoy time for study and play rather than endure uninterrupted toil on the farm. Capitalism is the great mediator between tribes and nations, which first put aside their weapons and hatreds in the prospect of benefiting from mutual exchange.

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Gregory’s piece is not so much an argument as it is a simple reminder to the American people that capitalism works.  The primary debates coming out of Washington today are ideological, yet, it is the practical ideology of capitalism that produces. Capitalism’s three basic tenets of free-exchange, free-markets, and labor mobility are themselves based on freedom: the freedom to exchange my dollars as I see fit, the freedom for me to enter into any market absent artificial barriers such as government-mandated licenses, and the freedom to work where I choose.  What those in Washington do not have that proponents of capitalism possess in abundance is the substantive proof that our ideology is practical because it has produced the beds we sleep in, the food we eat, and a level of opulence that allows us leisure and the opportunity to raise responsible children who will continue in capitalism’s namesake.

Take a look at Gregory’s article, and remember that while capitalism is based on the ideology of freedom and production, its opponents will have you believe they can bring you the same degree of freedom, albeit from an ideology based on altruism, central planning, and the forced redistribution of wealth.

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