Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Two Extreme Threats to Human Rights

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." - James Madison in the Federalist #51
Almost everyone agrees that a valid function of government is to protect individual rights. Indeed some would consider it the primary or even solitary legitimate function of government. Even people who have different ideas about what one's "rights" are or the what the outer limits of how they ought to be exercised might be can still agree that protecting the rights of the individual is a valid function of government.

Those on the far anarchist/voluntaryist end of the spectrum might say that it is the persistent tendency of government to abuse and move beyond this solitary function which makes government's existence more trouble than it is worth! Yet even they would say that if a government has any business at all existing, it would be to protect individual rights.

 While the rise of the post-modern central state has shown the state itself to be the biggest threat to the rights that it is supposed to protect, were there no government at all it does not mean that violations of our individual rights would vanish altogether. Rather, it would mean that private threats to our rights would gain a freer hand.

As a Localist, I understand that there are two sources of threats to individual rights- Public Threats and Private Threats. Public Threats to rights include government oppression (frequently in cahoots with private interests). Private Threats are extra-legal threats to individual rights, i.e. - crime or invasion from outside groups.

Which category of threat seems the largest to you is mostly a function of your environment. If you live among gentle and intellectual types in Suburbia or small-town USA, you likely have known little of the gross deprivation of rights which is suffered from Private Threats in areas where there has been a break down of civil government. If you are such a person, then you likely have the freedom and intellect and curiosity to take note of the ongoing, serious, and systemic Public Threats to individual rights. To you, Public Threats are the greatest and most immediate danger.

 There is no serious Private (extra-legal) threat to your liberties from a foreign government if you live in America. We have been the lone super-power in the world for at least 30 years. Many of us are surrounded by people who are prosperous enough that they don't have to rob and steal to survive, and by habit and moral training would resist such an inclination anyway.  Though we are not exactly angels, it is easy to see why, from such a viewpoint, no government would be necessary. If we live in a near-bubble, protected from external Private Threats and surrounded by other individuals like ourselves who are not much of a Private Threat, then we might not see government as anything but a threat to rights.

My point is that if you come from such an environment you are likely to understate the Private Threat to our liberties, and develop a philosophy of government which reflects that deeply affected risk assessment.  If you live in Somalia or inner city Detroit, you see a general breakdown of government.  Private Threats to your individual rights would abound.  Private gangs, not government gangs, rob and kill.   A person in such a situation would be more like almost all persons were before the rise of the modern central state- one who viewed Private Threats a great danger and government power as a protector and defender of individual rights.

Ultimately, a moral population will not need much government.  They have little use for it.  For an immoral population, even a harsh and repressive central government might protect rights better than having no government at all.  Thus the best defense against big government is a virtuous population.  The closer men get to angels, the less they need rulers.    But for right now, we live in a world with both good and bad people, and where even usually good people can do bad things.    We live in a world where there are both Public and Private threats to liberty.  One or the other may seem dominant to you, depending on your life experience and view of history, but either threat can become the dominant one depending on the ebb and flow of one's circumstances and public morality.  A workable philosophy of government is one that accounts for both Public and Private Threats.

Localism is the balanced position. That is, it is in the center.  From there it can defend against the loss of individual rights which tend to occur when either of the two extremes rule a society. The extreme statism currently practiced by central governments around the world leads to various sorts of Public Threats to individual rights. The extreme anarchist position results in gross Private Threats all but the most decent and civil people on earth are without government. Anarchy creates conditions where most people cry out for even a dictator.  They will accept a loss of freedom for the promise of restored order!    I am a Localist because this is the philosophy which best avoids the threats to human rights posed by the extremist positions of the state-ists and the self-ists.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Changing the Palatability, but Not the Morality, of Obamacare

The sociopaths who run D.C. want even more power than they have now, despite the prima facie evidence that they cannot run well all the things they are currently attempting to manage.    Few of us would be so foolish as to turn control of our family's healthcare over to these schemers if they did not have what amounts to a "magic money machine" at their disposal.     This is the most powerful weapon they have to convince you to turn more and more power over your life to a group of people that most of us recognize are deeply flawed.

This "magic money machine" is the Federal Reserve System.  In effect, it enables them to expand government for what appears to be "for free".   Of course it is not free.  There is no free- there are only things whose costs are deferred, transferred, or mis-stated.    Millions of Americans thought they got houses for a "bargain" price when they deferred payments into the future or took "teaser" interest rates.   They were lured into debt they could not afford because the initial terms seemed like such a bargain.   These people now constitute the growing former middle class in America.

The ruling class in D.C. does not care that this expansion of health care is unsustainable.  They do not care that the wealth does not and will not exist to fund these promises.  This conclusion is not a "close call".   It is obvious that the wealth does not exist to fund these promises.   Washington cannot keep its current health care promises to the elderly and the very poor, much less these newer ones.

So why are our rulers going through this charade?  It is simple really, and completely consistent with all the other actions of the ruling class in Washington D.C. for the last one hundred years.   They don't care about keeping the promises they are making in exchange for getting control, they just want control.   Once they control enough of your life, they know it won't matter if they don't keep their promises.   It won't matter that they will not do the things for you that they said they would do if only you let them control one area of your life after another.  At a certain event horizon, you dare not call them to account for the lies they used to gain control over your life, because these are the people who now control your life.   You will content yourself with the crumbs they throw you, because you dare not do anything else.

Once they have the control, all those good things they promised to do with that control doesn't matter.   You will rely on them for too much to ever really cross them.    They will regulate and do major business with the company where you work, no matter where you work.  They control your children's education.  They control the media that you watch, and monitor all of your formerly personal electronic communications.   They decide if you are paying enough taxes or not (and no one but them can say what the right amount is, so this is a sword hanging over ever income taxpayer's head).     If you are retired, they already provide much of your income, and your healthcare.  Now they want to control the rest of it.

Think of it.  The government will provide health care to you and your children.  How do you ever defy the people that control whether or not your children get health care?  Once they start rationing it, and it will be rationed, do your really want to risk losing that by being classed a "potential domestic terrorist" or whatever other term they use for non-violent people who are aware of and object to what they are really doing to this country?

So far, their magic money machine at the Fed has allowed them to tax the next generation for benefits paid to this one.   This is grossly immoral, but again, available evidence strongly suggests that many members of our ruling class are sociopaths and simply do not care if they are turning the next generation into debt slaves. They accept no moral restrictions whatsoever on their relentless obsession to centrally control more and more of mankind.  If anything, they prefer the population to be heavily in debt, as another means of control.  People with net wealth are too hard to rule.  They have the resources to resist infringements on their liberties.  Debt slaves don't.   They have to beg for crumbs and that's what I think these people want for almost all of us.

This proposed expansion of health care is immoral.  And like almost all moral decisions, it will have long-term consequences, even if in the short term it appears to be a "gain."    Using debt, and taxes on "the rich" means that you expect other people to pay for your health care.  It is not like Social Security, where you paid in when you were young in order to take out later.  The use of debt and taxes on income groups you don't expect to be a part of makes this theft.  It is just as immoral as finding someone's wallet and using the money in the wallet to pay for your doctor's visit rather than returning it to the rightful owner.  Perhaps more immoral, because you did not just find the wallet, you voted for people to go take it.

This constant expansion of government has turned almost all of us into liars, beggars, and thieves as we each genuflect before our government arbiters and make our case for a bigger share of the loot.  We think it is the next generation that is mostly getting looted, but that generation is now here.   Our masters will not take "the hit" on the debt we have built up over the decades.  Rather, they will squeeze it out of us.  Our promised "benefits" (share of the loot) will not be paid, but the control system will remain in place.  And the little thieves will have lost all moral high ground, all community with our neighbors, and all means of resistance, to the Master Thieves and Master Controllers in Washington. 

Obamacare in Arkansas has been made much more palatable by the decision to enact it by means of subsidies to "private" health care plans in a "state" exchange rather than direct expansion of Medicaid.   The poison is much more palatable in this form, but no less deadly.   It is still unsustainable, still funded by debt, and still cedes control to the centralizers in Washington.  There are some shell-games by which the centralization of power is hidden, but it is no less present.   The "state" exchanges will be funded and regulated by Washington, just as they have done with "state" education.   This plan merely deputizes the states to act as agents of the federal government in regards to their health care, it does not let the states "control" health care, if even that were a good idea.   Some are calling it the "private" option, but that is just another deception.   The public money simply passes through one more set of private hands, it does not change the fact that this is still a government takeover of health care.

Suppose two years after this began, the feds demanded that all health care exchanges fund abortion for any reason.   Do you really think that Arkansas politicians would withdraw from the exchange and turn down the money once vast swaths of the population benefited from the generational theft and began to look on it as their "right"?  Two years after that, the health plans might be required to "advise" abortion for certain pregnancies.   Two years after that, they could pay for abortion in such pregnancies but deny coverage for delivery.   What about funding sex-change operations, or bizarre fertilization efforts for homosexual couples who wanted to procreate?    Once you are hooked on the heroine of easy money, your dealer decides the terms.
The insurance companies and interests will love the Health Care Subsidies, because it compels people to purchase their products, so I am sure the "compromise" has a lobby in Little Rock.   The hospital lobby will love it too, and that is an interesting case.   Hospitals get ripped off a lot, and in turn they rip others off a lot.  By law, they cannot deny emergency room patients care regardless of their ability to pay, medical debt is harder to collect, and medical debt is discharged in bankruptcy.

In other words, government intervention caused the problem of hospitals losing money by mandating free care.      This problem, caused by government intervention, has become the excuse for even more government intervention.    People who use the care ought to have to commit to paying something.   At least the hospital would have some debt to sell to a collection agency.   But this is not in the controller's Master Plan.  They prefer to use the problems caused by one government intervention as reason for the next.

If Arkansas "Just Says No" to the dealer's offer of "free money" in exchange for control, there could even be a near-term upside.   Yes, we would miss out on the next few years of "high times" the other junkies were enjoying, but there is some indication that states which refuse to set up an exchange are exempted from certain provisions of the law.   They may be free of the employer mandates to provide coverage under the law.   Their citizens may be free of the "tax penalty" for failure to have Washington-Approved health care coverage.   Some legal scholars note that this appears to be what the text of the act itself says.   If so, saying "no" to the plan will cause an influx of companies and jobs and real honestly-earned money as companies flee the socialist states and expand operations here.

 James Madison once noted that the very definition of tyranny is when all power is gathered together in one set of hands.   Freedom then, would be the dispersal of power as much as can be practically accomplished while maintaining a state of civilization.  This plan is centralizing control into one set of hands.  It is tyranny, and it lays the groundwork, once the population is suitably addicted, for future injustice.    Oklahoma, Alabama, and many other states are just saying "no."  We should too.