Obamacare: Dysfunction & Chaos!

Kathleen Sebelius

By Mike Cronin

Why has the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) been a failure so far? Because it was doomed from the start. Just like any other sector of the economy that gets taken over by the government, health care cannot and will not be improved by central planning and control.  But don’t we need Obamacare, so that people who don’t have health insurance can finally get coverage?

According Dr. Michael Hurd, a psychotherapist who writes a comprehensive mental health blog:

Health insurance started out as hospital insurance. People purchased hospital insurance in the marketplace so that they could afford catastrophic care when and if they needed it. Government regulations (e.g. mandating coverage for primary care) and tampering with/restricting the marketplace (e.g., no purchasing insurance across state lines; tax credits for large companies, but not individuals) are what led to health insurance premiums skyrocketing in the first place.

Piecemeal government interventions made the health care industry dysfunctional and insurance premiums un-affordable, so now the solution is…higher premiums for total government control of health care? Insane.

Health care providers will be unsatisfied because they will be paid based on what the government says they should be paid, not what free-market factors allow them to earn. Further, they will, be micromanaged and second-guessed by bureaucrats and bean-counters, and they will have to comply with ever more red tape.  Bright young people, realizing this, will opt out of medical careers, exacerbating the shortage of care providers. To compensate, the government will be forced to either pay bonuses to medical providers…or draft people into the medical profession.

Beneficiaries are discovering that, enrollment debacle aside, they will be charged exorbitant premiums, (especially the youngest, healthiest adults, in order to pay for the more medically needy); sometimes including mandatory coverage that they don’t need (such as pregnancy coverage for males);  that they won’t be able to keep insurance they already have (not because they law says they have to change companies, but because the economics of implementation have caused their employers to drop their old insurance), or the doctors they already have (again, because their insurance has changed). Some of the sickest beneficiaries will also discover that the government can arbitrarily decide that a given care regime is too costly, so it will be denied to them.

Think of it another way:

Imagine if we relied on auto insurance for “primary care” for our vehicles (fluid changes, tire rotations, wiper blades). Think of the paperwork and billing hassles we would endure for each little oil change. The overall cost of auto maintenance would increase to cover the business overhead. Soon, fewer Americans would be able to afford auto insurance, with serious ramifications for liability, setting the stage for a national crisis. It’s a ridiculous idea, isn’t it? Yet this is the way that health care works in America today. (from dpcare.org)



Weasel Words: Social Justice


By Mike Cronin

When you hear someone speak of social justice, what comes to mind?  The first time I heard the term, I recall wondering why justice needed a qualifier. Over time, I came to realize that it was simply another corruption of language the weasels have been using to push us towards more collectivism; in this case: it sounds so righteous, but it is really just code for the same old thing collectivists always seek: group “rights” and wealth redistribution.

To their way of thinking, it is unjust for a few to accumulate substantially more wealth than others, or for there to be a large difference in incomes and holdings between the wealthiest and the poorest members of society. The supposed goal of social justice is a community wherein there is at least rough parity in the economic outcomes for everyone. The goal is to be obtained regardless of whether there might be a huge disparity in the productive inputs between everyone, and in ignorance of the economic concept that it is possible to create wealth vice distribute it. More broadly, but in the same vein, the term social justice is also used when collectivists seek “rights” for groups that do not exist for the individual.

Here are some of the problems with the concept:

1.            When opponents argue that the term social justice means equal outcomes without equal inputs, proponents argue that they don’t mean absolutely strict equality…but they fail to identify just what an acceptable range of differences might be, and they blank out discussion of input entirely – as if it were axiomatic that all input effort is equal.

2.            Proponents of social justice have no recourse but to use the coercive power of government to obtain “equality of outcomes.” In other words, to tax the incomes and/or confiscate the wealth of those who have been the most industrious, in order to give it to those who have been less industrious.  This deters productivity and rewards mediocrity – where is the justice in that?

3.            Polish political commentator Janusz Korwin-Mikke (a.k.a. JKM) opines: “Either ‘social justice’ has the same meaning as ‘justice’ – or not. If so – why use the additional word ‘social?’ … if ‘social justice’ means something different from ‘justice’ – then ‘something different from justice’ is by definition ‘injustice.'”

4.            Valid rights are negative in nature. That means they require no positive action on the part of others, merely that one restrain oneself from violating another’s rights.  The group “rights” social justice proponents argue for are really privileges, obtained at the expense of others. Two examples: If one has a “right” to housing (as opposed to the right to attempt to buy or rent shelter through mutual agreement with an owner or landlord), then one has a “right” to the time, materials, and labor of construction workers, tradesmen, planners, landscapers, and other human beings involved in the production and marketing of the house. If one has a “right” to health care (as opposed to the right to seek out health care from a willing provider in exchange for some mutually agreed upon value), then one has the “right” to the time, effort, skill, and materials of doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmaceutical producers, and all of the other people engaged in the provision of one’s care.

How awesome for you if you’re getting some of that social justice the politicians have been promising! How cool is it that now you have such rights! But how long will it be until no one will design new technology, or build a factory, or rent a house, or grow crops, or slog through years of medical school anymore?  Ever wonder why there is a shortage of engineers and doctors, and an overabundance of lawyers in this country? Where will you get your social justice when such people extract their own form of justice from society?

Elevating “Minority Rights” over Individual Rights Yields Chaos


By Mike Cronin

Free market advocate Richard Maybury often mentions the two “laws” of human civilization: Do all that you have agreed to do; and do not encroach on others or their property. According to him, every place that has based their justice systems on these two fundamental principles (wittingly or not) have been relatively more prosperous and free than the places that have not adopted them. Maybury even coined a term for the places where these two principles hold no sway: Chaostan. It comprises, roughly: The Balkans, most of Eastern Europe, Russia and the rest of Asia (minus Japan), North Africa, and the Middle East.

The current troubles in Ukraine, Syria, and Afghanistan are the most recent manifestations of the chaos endemic in that region.  As long as, and to the degree that, the two laws of civilization hold no influence in that part of the world, it will remain conflicted and embattled. We should take note as our own government takes ever more liberties with its own laws (as if governments do not have to obey the same laws as individuals) and leaves us with less freedom, less order, and increasing chaos.

Two recent examples of chaos encroaching:

  1. The Ninth Circuit Court’s arbitrary ruling in California that in effect promotes Mexican culture and the “rights” of a group (Cinco de Mayo celebrants) over American culture and the rights of individuals (see my post from March 2nd).
  2. The recent cases in Colorado and Arizona that in effect promote minority rights over the rights of individuals – as if they were different. In this set of cases, the state governments have created a “right” for homosexuals to not be refused service by business owners. In other words, in Colorado and Arizona, the government is compelling business owners to conduct business that may be potentially offensive to them (providing goods or services to same-sex weddings) in order to not offend the homosexual constituency. In both cases, authorities have:

-Failed to recognize individual rights. One group does not accrue special privileges over another simply because they have lacked special privileges in the past, or because they are a minority. (If we stop and ask “what is the smallest minority?”  The answer: the individual.)

-Failed to apply the basics of the two laws: in the California case, it is no infringement, or encroachment, on the rights of the Cinco de Mayo celebrants for other student to wear patriotic American clothing, nor should it be considered an infringement for those wearing patriotic Americana to have to tolerate the celebration of Cinco de Mayo. In other words, such displays of cultural enthusiasm ought to be protected as free expression, with the realization by the celebrants that doing so does not grant a right to be protected from competing cultural enthusiasm in a public forum. In the Colorado and Arizona instances, there is no violation of individual rights if the owner of a private business refuses to do business, (i.e., declines to associate) with anyone for any reason, though it may indeed be discriminatory, bigoted, and economically unwise.

No one has the right to not be offended, but our governments are trying very hard to make it a crime to offend…some people some times.

When the government encroaches on others by telling them how they can or cannot express themselves, or compels them to conduct business that offends them, it is making a mockery of the concepts of free expression and free association and displacing the concept of the rule of law with the chaos of rule by influence and pressure.

The Ninth Circuit has no Appeal to Patriots

flag ban

By Mike Cronin

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that it is Constitutional for a California high school to ban students from wearing patriotic American-themed clothing, such as t-shirts displaying the stars and stripes, during the the Mexican commemoration day Cinco de Mayo. Their reasoning is that the school has issues with ethnic tensions between its majority Hispanic and minority white student populations, and that the school was acting prudently to ban the patriotic garb so as to reduce friction between the two groups.

The court’s decision has inflamed adults in the name of reducing the tensions of students. On the one hand, it very well may be provocative to “throw the flag” in the face of Cinco de Mayo celebrants, especially if that were the obvious intent of those so clothed. On the other, the purpose of the First Amendment is to protect unpopular, offensive, and disagreeable speech. It is a wonder to patriots that such a ban, seemingly in direct conflict with the freedom of expression, can be upheld, and it’s insulting and supremely ironic that the proscription elevates the cultural expression of a hosted culture at the expense of the host. (Note that the court did not ban Cinco de Mayo or Mexican-themed apparel.)

To be clear: The Ninth Circuit upheld the ban on the basis that the school was acting for the safety of the students. If that is truly their reasoning, then why not ban patriotic apparel for both cultures?  If wearing American-themed apparel at a high school in the United States of America, which receives funding from the American government at the expense of American taxpayers, is offensive to some Mexican students, could it not also be just as likely that celebrating a Mexican commemoration at that same high school might be offensive to the non-Mexican students?

The court made at least two serious errors: In banning patriotic wear, i.e. self –expression, it has taught the teens that their individual rights are to be violated at whim by authority rather than protected by it. In making the ban applicable to only one set of cultural expressions (American-themed), it has taught the students that it’s the majority that rules (at that school, the majority is Hispanic), not the law.

I wonder what country the Ninth Circuit judges come from?