Monday, July 31, 2017

MegaCon 2017: Stranger Things

MegaCon 2017: Stranger Things

Charlie Gard’s Parents Are Forced to Stop Fighting for their Dying Baby

Charlie Gard’s Parents Are Forced to Stop Fighting for their Dying Baby

Charlie Gard's Parents Are Forced to Stop Fighting for their Dying Baby

I cannot imagine the pain Charlie Gard’s parents are feeling now, as they savor their last moments with their precious child. Charlie is 11 months old and he’s dying.

Chris and Connie have been fighting for months to get treatment for Charlie, ever since he was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. But they have been forced to give up that fight.

I can’t imagine their pain, but I can imagine their fury because I share it.

From the Hospital to the Courts

Charlie is not mine. I’ve never met him or anyone who knows him. Yet I am furious with the British government for refusing to allow his parents to take their dying son to the United States for treatment: a therapy trial, his last and only hope.

No further recourse was available in the UK, but an American doctor was ready to try to help him at Columbia University Medical Center. Charlie’s parents raised £1.4 million through crowdfunding; they had the money to take him to the US by air ambulance.

But doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London didn’t like that idea. They said it wouldn’t help, that the American therapy was experimental. They said the baby’s life support should just stop.

On April 11th, a British High Court judge ruled with the doctors, empowering them to turn off Charlie’s life-support machines. His mother screamed “no” when she heard the verdict.

There was a petition with more than 110,000 names on it. People wrote letters to the Prime Minister, calling on her to release Charlie from Great Ormond Street’s care. The pope said he was praying for Charlie’s parents, “hoping that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored."

Even US President Trump tweeted that "If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so."

Charlie’s parents challenged the decision in the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court, and the European Court of Human Rights.

All to no avail. The Courts would not allow them to try to save their baby’s life.

Who Can Call This Justice?

And now Charlie is out of time. According to the BBC, "US neurologist Dr. Michio Hirano had said he was no longer willing to offer the baby experimental therapy after he saw the results of a new MRI scan last week."

It’s possible that Charlie’s doctors were right, that experimental treatment wouldn’t have helped (although his parents don’t think so, nor do American and Italian doctors). But what harm could it have done when he’s dying anyway? And if his parents had the means to give him one last chance, why shouldn’t they exercise their right to do so? They belong to Charlie just as he belongs to them, and no one but Chris and Connie should get the final say on his medical care.

I never really knew what people meant by the phrase “death panels” before. It was just a term bandied about by talking heads and political personalities. It’s chilling how well it applies in this instance: a group of bureaucrats that sits around deciding who is worthy of medical care.

I don’t know how the power slipped away from the individual, whether taken by force or given away with applause, but this is outrageous. And it’s wrong.

Read with a Box of Tissues

I will leave you with the words of Connie Yate’s, Charlie’s mom:
Due to the deterioration in his muscles, there is now no way back for Charlie. Time that has been wasted. It is time that has sadly gone against him.

We want people to realise that we have been speaking to parents whose children were just like Charlie before starting treatment and now some of them are walking around like normal children. We wanted Charlie to have that chance too.

All we wanted to do was take Charlie from one world renowned hospital to another world renowned hospital in the attempt to save his life and to be treated by the world leader in mitochondrial disease. We feel that we should have been trusted as parents to do so but we will always know in our hearts that we did the very best for Charlie and I hope that he is proud of us for fighting his corner.

Charlie had a real chance of getting better. It's now unfortunately too late for him but it's not too late for others with this horrible disease and other diseases. We will continue to help and support families of ill children and try and make Charlie live on in the lives of others. We owe it to him to not let his life be in vain.

Despite the way that our beautiful son has been spoken about sometimes, as if he not worthy of a chance at life, our son is an absolute WARRIOR and we could not be prouder of him and we will miss him terribly. One little boy has brought the world together and whatever people's opinions are, no one can deny the impact our beautiful son has had on the world and his legacy will never ever die.

We are now going to spend our last precious moments with our son Charlie, who unfortunately won't make his 1st birthday in just under 2 weeks' time, and we would ask that our privacy is respected at this very difficult time.

Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will and we are so sorry that we couldn't save you.”

Marianne March


Marianne is a recent graduate of Georgia State University, where she majored in Public Policy, with a minor in Economics. Follow her on twitter @mari_tweets.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

What Is the SEC Doing to Blockchain Technology?

What Is the SEC Doing to Blockchain Technology?

What Is the SEC Doing to Blockchain Technology?

To be sure, the question in this article's title is entirely rhetorical, because the regulators surely don’t know what they are doing. Certainly no one active in the blockchain industry knows precisely what the SEC is doing. That is being debated all over the world right now. 

This much seems clear: arbitrary government power will henceforth threaten constantly to hobble the advance of distributed ledger technology, trying for force fit it into some old model that exists on regulatory books, so long as doing so is viable until technological evolution makes fools of them all. And it will.

An Ominous Warning 



In case you haven't heard, the SEC has just issued a very strange warning/threat/edict to the effect that cryptoasset tokens of “distributed autonomous organizations” will be regulated like regular securities. The announcement casts doubt that these crypto-innovations are anything but deceptive ways to get around the law, so the SEC is provoked to say: we still matter, and all your fancy language about tokens and assets changes nothing. 

For anyone in this industry, it is a strange thing to claim. It comes across like the Department of Agriculture's announcing that satellites will be regulated like livestock, or that math will be controlled under a law designed for vegetables.

However, the SEC also says that whether digital assets will be considered securities "will depend on the facts and circumstances, including the economic realities of the transaction." Only the SEC can say for sure. 

The question is how narrowly or broadly will this regulatory threat apply. This is where the confusion begins. Does it apply narrowly only to the DAO case from last year, which was huge at the time but buggy and led to the Etherium fork? In other words, is this just the usual pretend excuse of consumer protection?

Or will it apply to every case of a token sale that uses blockchain technology? You can’t really tell from the language of the announcement, which is circuitous and merely suggestive amidst its faux-decisiveness. The SEC announcement on cryptoassets is ambiguous as a Papal encyclical issued under Pope Francis.

Maybe it is nothing serious, as the well-connected Coin Center hopes:
What the SEC did not say is that all tokens are securities. Rather, they suggest a facts and circumstances test but only analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding last year’s DAO token sale.

We believe that applying the same facts and circumstances test to other tokens will mean that some do not fit into the definition of securities, particularly tokens with an underlying utility rather than a mere speculative investment value.
The Blockchain Makes Peace and Prosperity Possible


Or perhaps someone in Washington truly believes that the most extraordinary technological innovation since the Internet can be made to work like the technology it is intended to replace. It’s like trying to make the lightbulb operate just like the whale-oil lamp. And actually it is not different from Ayn Rand’s tale of Anthem.

The market for cryptoassets is booming beyond belief, approaching the market capitalization of Ireland or Austria, all in a few short years. It’s because smart money is figuring out just what an amazing innovation blockchain is. It has taken nine years to fully dawn on people.

This is not really about Bitcoin as such, or even just monetary innovation, though there is that, and that in itself would be amazing enough. This is about a new and vastly improved path for human engagement itself: documenting claims, establishing ownership, communicating in a reliable way across the globe person to person, and establishing new rules for making peace and prosperity possible.  

In the particular case of these “tokens” or “coins,” they do not operate like securities, which are ownership shares in the profits and interest of particular companies. These crypto tokens are vessels for valuing the authority to access ledgers that power human services. They come and go, as with any other market. Yes, people lose their shirts in this market, and others get rich. This is part of the exploratory process that is embedded in market evolution, particularly in these early days. 

The market must be allowed to work at warp speed! As for the many, many pump-and-dumps, scams, and silly claims in deceptive white papers, there is just no way for government to police all this. The market is too new and active. These markets regulate themselves. Also: consumer beware! 

There are plenty of legitimate companies in this sector now, many built on the platform that the SEC seems to disrespect. Even government agencies have contracted with them to provide services that are otherwise unavailable. 

Also, these token sales help raise capital for new ventures, precisely because they are unregulated on platforms that have never existed before in human history. They have come along at a time when VC and bank funding have dried up, and when the practice of going public on regulated exchanges has become the privilege of a few. Everyone but the most highly capitalized has been shut out. Cryptoasset markets are free, which is why they are unleashing an amazing amount of creative and wealth-creating energy.

A Good Idea Cannot By Killed Bureaucracy

The SEC seems inclined literally to stop the progress of history, with old world coercion, as if mere announcements from bureaucrats will shape the world and the pace of social evolution in the long run. If this is serious, and if the bureaucracy follows through, it could be the most devastating economic regulation of our lifetimes.

However, there is the short run and the long run. Perhaps in the short run, this news could have a chilling effect on the market, or worse. Or maybe it is all just bluster.

The markets have so far sent mixed signals on the announcement. They are generally down across the board, but not nearly as much as you might expect from an existential threat. It seems like there are many buyers in the space right now, hoping for bargains. 

In the long run, there is nothing that can stop a good idea from triumphing over reactionary attempts to stop it. That’s because ideas are portable and live on a metaphorical distributed ledger themselves, one that long pre-exists the blockchain. A good idea cannot be killed by mere bureaucracy.

There is also the matter of geography and borders, which thankfully still restrain the state to some extent. Intellectual and digital capital fly to where they are loved and not bludgeoned. The United States could become the world haven for great innovation, but not with these kinds of actions from the SEC (but you could substitute any bureaucracy in for those letters).

The future loves freedom, and freedom loves any jurisdiction in which it is valued, guarded, and celebrated. The SEC statement on blockchain technology is not the right way to go about this.


Jeffrey A. Tucker


Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also Chief Liberty Officer and founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books. He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Friday, July 28, 2017

EFF Asks Court to Strike Down Unconstitutional Restraint on Our Speech

EFF Asks Court to Strike Down Unconstitutional Restraint on Our Speech



EFF has asked a federal court to rule in its favor in a lawsuit we filed against an Australian company that sought to use foreign law to censor us from expressing our opinion about its patent. While the company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd (GEMSA,) knows its way around U.S. courts—having filed dozens of lawsuits against big tech companies claiming patent infringement—it has failed to respond to ours. Today we asked for a default judgment, which if granted means we win the case.



It all started when GEMSA’s patent litigation was featured in our June 2016 blog series “Stupid Patent of the Month.” The company wrote to EFF accusing us of “false and malicious slander.” It subsequently filed a lawsuit and obtained an injunction from a South Australia court ordering EFF to take down the blog post and blocking us from ever talking about any of its intellectual property.

We have not removed the post. The South Australian injunction can’t be enforced in the U.S. under a 2010 federal law that took aim against “libel tourism,” a practice by which plaintiffs—often billionaires, celebrities, or oligarchs—sued U.S. writers and academics in countries like England where it was easier to win a defamation case.

The Securing the Protection of Our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act (SPEECH Act) says foreign orders aren’t enforceable in the United States unless they are consistent with the free speech protections provided by the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as state law. Our lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, maintains that GEMSA’s injunction, which seeks to silence expression of an opinion, would never survive scrutiny under the First Amendment in the United States and should therefore be declared unenforceable. We stood ready to defend our right to express constitutionally protected speech.

GEMSA, which has three pending patent lawsuits in in the Northern District of California, had until May 23 to respond to our case. That day came and went without a word. We can’t speculate as to why GEMSA hasn’t responded. To get a default judgment, we need to show that not only has GEMSA failed to answer our claims but also, regarding our claim that the South Australia injunction is unenforceable in the U.S., the law is on our side.

We believe that we should prevail. The law does not allow companies or individuals to make an end run around the First Amendment by finding a judge in another country to sign an injunction that censors speech in the U.S. The law the Australian court applied to grant the injunction didn’t provide as much protection for EFF’s speech as American law, which means it’s unenforceable under the SPEECH Act. Additionally, the injunction is unconstitutional under American law as it prohibits all future speech by EFF about any of GEMSA’s patents. Such prohibitions are also known as prior restraints, and are allowed only in the rarest of circumstances, none of which apply here.

Our laws also don’t allow plaintiffs to be left under a cloud of uncertainty as to their ability to speak publicly about something as important as patent litigation and reform. The Australian injunction states that failure to comply could result in the seizure of EFF’s assets and prison time for its officers. GEMSA attorneys have threatened to take the Australian injunction to American search engine companies to deindex the blog post, making the post harder to find online.

The court should set the record straight and grant our request for a default judgment. Our laws call for no less.

Source: EFF Asks Court to Strike Down Unconstitutional Restraint on Our Speech | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Insurance Cartel Holds Back Life-Saving Therapy from Thousands of Small Children

Insurance Cartel Holds Back Life-Saving Therapy from Thousands of Small Children

Insurance Cartel Holds Back Life-Saving Therapy from Thousands of Small Children

The challenges of the FDA’s drug approval process are well known. In what appeared to be an encouraging departure from the norm, Spinraza – the first and only FDA-approved therapy for Spinal Muscular Atrophy – gained its approval at twice the usual speed last December, after only five years in clinical trials. But patients continue to wait on the treatment, thanks to a different flaw in our convoluted health insurance system.

The Lives of Babes

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is the leading genetic cause of death in infants and toddlers. It is characterized by progressive, incapacitating muscle weakness. There are four primary types of SMA. If your child suffers from the most common – SMA Type I – you are unlikely to celebrate her second birthday. Type II means your baby will never be strong enough to walk; she will start getting weaker soon after learning to crawl, and eventually will lose the ability to sit independently.

For patients, their families, and the entire SMA community, December 23rd was a day of great joy. Spinraza, which was shown in clinical trials to help 40 percent of children reach new motor milestones, would finally be available to all patients.

Six months later that joy has turned into disappointment and heartache: as of May 4th, only about 250 U.S. patients had received the treatment – that’s fewer than two percent of the 15,000 affected by the disease in the country.

What’s causing the delay? It’s not a medication shortage, as Biogen, Spinraza’s manufacturer, was ready to ship the drug within a week of its approval. Rather, the key problem is the lack of providers that administer the drug. CureSMA, an advocacy group that played a major role in speeding up FDA approval, estimates that about 250-300 sites are needed to serve the U.S population. So far, only 63 have been confirmed.

Why so few? While malpractice insurance, scope-of-practice limitations, and the fragmented organizational structure of U.S. hospitals all contribute to red tape and discourage innovation, in the case of Spinraza delays, the key culprit is reimbursement uncertainty.

Reimbursement Uncertainty

While all insurers promptly issued Spinraza coverage policies, these provide no payment guarantee. The problem is magnified because Spinraza is expensive and hospitals can only submit claims after buying the drug and administering treatment. Biogen encourages providers to get pre-authorization, invest in payer remittance monitoring, and pursue appeals. While taking on this administrative burden might mitigate some of the reimbursement uncertainty, the process is far from encouraging.

It would be easy to blame insurers – after all, billing requires an army of administrators and claim denials cost hospitals millions of dollars annually. Yet it’s not the individual insurance companies that cause the problem, but rather our regulatory system which protects these companies from competition. Burdensome regulations and concentrated market power among just four companies create an absurd system that perpetuates uncertainty.

Without competition, insurance companies have little incentive to serve patients. The lack of patient choice allows insurers to get away with malleable reimbursement policies and arbitrary claim denials. Patients don’t know what is covered or how much it will cost them, and must wait until after treatment to see the bill.

The issue is magnified by the tax-exempt status of group health insurance. Since most of us must change jobs to change insurance, we have no way of signaling dissatisfaction to our insurance provider. In turn, the risk of not getting paid keeps providers from adopting new treatments. Without competition in the health insurance market, patients and providers face tremendous uncertainty.

And yet, the very point of insurance is to mitigate uncertainty so that when tragedy strikes, you don’t have to worry about the money. An effective health insurance system should also ensure that providers don’t hesitate to take on innovative, life-saving treatments, especially those that have passed FDA efficacy and efficiency standards.

The System Stands in the Way of Treatment

Today, SMA patients need the ability to switch between health insurance providers. In fact, we all would benefit from individual, portable, lifelong, guaranteed-renewable, transferrable, competitive, lightly-regulated health insurance.

Of course, health insurance is unique in that once you develop a lifelong condition, your premium dramatically increases. But as economist John Cochrane has shown, it is possible to have a competitive health insurance market that protects people with pre-existing conditions from premium spikes through health status insurance. The first step is to end the tax exemption on employer-provided health insurance.

We don’t know how many children died as Spinraza was being developed or as it was undergoing FDA review. But imagine the pain of knowing that rather than research or even safety concerns standing between your child and the treatment – it’s a broken, counterproductive, over-regulated insurance system.

Reprinted from Real Clear Health.


Marta Podemska-Mikluch


Marta Podemska-Mikluch is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Gustavus Adolphus College.

 

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.


Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine (October 1999)

Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine (October 1999)






MegaCon 2017: Jeri Ryan

MegaCon 2017: Jeri Ryan

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Obamacare Is Dying. Let It

Obamacare Is Dying. Let It

Obamacare Is Dying. Let It

The alleged failure of Republicans to repeal the misnamed Affordable Care Act (ACA) predictably has the conservative punditry up in arms. “Why Can’t Republicans Get Anything Done?” was one of many frustrated headlines lamenting the GOP’s lack of legislative success.

One editorial asserted that Republican failure to ‘do something’ about the ACA “is one of the great political failures in recent U.S. history, and the damage will echo for years.” Really?

Implicit in all the conservative ranting about the need to repeal, or worse, fix the ACA, is that health care was a wholly unfettered, dynamic source of free-market driven innovation before President Obama was elected. Let’s try to be serious for a moment.

Letting Obamacare Fail



Repeal of the ACA would have been an impressive headline, but the short and long-term politics of repeal for Republicans would have been worse than doing nothing. That is so because expectations about a looming nirvana would have been created, only for health care to, at best, return to its less-than-stellar-self that existed before passage of the ACA in 2010.

Importantly, none of what’s been written so far should be construed as support for the ACA. It was foolish legislation, and evidence supporting the previous contention is that the ACA was already dying before our eyes. No surprise there. Legislation meant to give some Americans a lot for a little, with a lot taken from others in return for very little, was bound to fail.

The ACA was plainly imploding as the constant rush of insurance companies out of ACA exchanges revealed in bright colors. Why abolish what the laws of economics were already abolishing?

And that’s why the half-measures offered by Republican compromisers were plainly worse than simply doing nothing. Why legislate away one central plan in return for an allegedly improved central plan; essentially exchanging bad legislation for bad legislation on top of what already wasn’t working before 2010? The politics of repeal or partial repeal spoke to the horror of Washington doing anything to legislate a right to what was and is a market good like any other.

Not discussed enough by either side is that it’s impossible to invent a right to a good or service of any kind to begin with. This is certainly true with regard to health care when we remember that it didn’t realistically exist until the 20th century. Lest we forget, in the 19th it was a death sentence if you were shot in the abdomen. If you broke your femur, you had 1 in 3 odds of dying. Broken hip? Dead. Cancer? Forget about it. You were going to die.

Legislation didn’t reverse the previously mentioned odds as much as trial and error in the area of healing led to healing advances such that a market eventually formed. The shame here is that politicians discovered health care in the first place. Imagine how much more advanced we’d be had they left what was advancing alone.

We Don't Have a Crystal Ball

All of the above has seemingly been ignored by Republicans ever eager to prove they’re as compassionate as their reliably hysterical opponents on the other side of the aisle. And there lies the problem.

Much as health care didn’t broadly exist when the 20th century dawned, so were automobiles the microscopic exception to the horse rule. Imagine if politicians, sensing what few did about the car’s potential, had legislated broad access to what very few people owned. If so, it’s safe to say that the American automobile industry would never have taken shape, mainly because politicians can’t possibly divine what we want, let alone need. The car evolved into a common good thanks to relentless experimentation that occurred alongside a 99% percent failure rate for American car companies.

Thinking about the computer, while few could get by without one today, as late as 1943, IBM Chairman Tom Watson confidently asserted that the market for computers wouldn’t expand beyond five total computers. Decades later, and billions of dollars worth of failed companies later, the computer is the can’t-live-without rule, including the supercomputers that increasingly line the pockets of rich and poor alike.

At present, politicians in both major political parties are thinking about ways to spend trillions in tax dollars on enhanced roads, just as entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos are aggressively thinking of ways to deliver us goods and services by air, care of drones. Yet conservatives are comfortable allowing Republicans to add more laws to an already over-controlled health care market?

Despite the historical truth that the present rarely predicts the future of goods and services, politicians in both parties pretend that they know what the market for health care should look like. But how could they?

For Republicans and Democrats to legislate a right to medical services in the present is every bit as lame-brained as it would have been had they legislated access to specific kinds of cars, computers, and smartphones in 1900, 1950 and 2000. Whatever they would have dreamed up for all three would have been a fraction of what intrepid entrepreneurs divined through feverish trial and error.

What Is and What Will Be

Seemingly forgotten by Republicans is that legislation is the absolute worst way to solve any problem, real or imagined, particularly one involving goods and services created in the marketplace.

Lawmaking by definition deals with what is while thriving markets are all about sleuthing out what will be. We’ll only arrive at what will be in the health care space insofar as individuals and businesses are free to experiment without limits, yet Republicans and Democrats in their infinite confusion are trying to create rights for people with what already is.

Ok, but that’s cruel. It’s the hypothetical equivalent of politicians legislating access to the cars, computers, and smartphones of today at a time when all three were likely on the verge of rapid evolution. Health care is no different. If the goal is that everyone should have access to it, the only response from Congress should be that it will cease legislating access to what it can’t give, and more important, what it doesn’t understand. If so, watch health care markets evolve in amazing ways that redound to us all.

Reprinted from Real Clear Markets.


John Tamny


John Tamny is a Forbes contributor, editor of RealClearMarkets, a senior fellow in economics at Reason, and a senior economic adviser to Toreador Research & Trading. He’s the author of the 2016 book Who Needs the Fed? (Encounter), along with Popular Economics (Regnery Publishing, 2015).

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bitcoin Is Protecting Brazil’s Right to Free Speech

Bitcoin Is Protecting Brazil’s Right to Free Speech

Bitcoin Is Protecting Brazil's Right to Free Speech

Dâniel Fraga, a young man living in the city of São Paulo, Brazil began his YouTube channel by recording and commenting on what was going on in the city. Shortly thereafter, Brazil was having its 2010 General Elections and his channel steadily became more political.

Two years later, during the 2012 local electoral season, Fraga recorded a video criticizing a candidate for São José dos Campos mayor (a city in the state of São Paulo) for going before the judiciary and requesting that negative internet memes about him be removed from Facebook.

In the video, he also criticizes the judge who accepted the candidate’s arguments and henceforth ordered that all relevant memes be taken down, even establishing a fine for anybody continuing to post and share the “offensive” memes. Since Fraga had continued to post videos discussing the situation, the judge involved sued him requesting compensation for “moral damages”. There began Fraga’s quest for free speech.

The Right to Criticize 

Fraga, however, did not back down in spite of the judge’s actions and recorded another video accusing the judge of trying to censor his YouTube content. Fraga also refused to take the original video down. He encouraged his viewers to download and repost the video to all social media outlets in order to raise awareness to his situation. He also made several statements making it clear that he had no intention of giving a dime to the judge seeking damages.  

After exposing the judge for demanding that Fraga pay 5,000 BLR each time he mentioned the situation on camera, he asked the judge if he was familiar with Bitcoin. His reason for bringing up the topic of crypto assets was to spite the judge’s attempts to take his money by turning all of his Brazilian currency into Bitcoin, where it would be almost untouchable by the government, or anyone else for that matter.  He ends this video by wishing the judge luck in trying to gain access to his Bitcoin wallet.

The judge, not finding this situation at all humorous, doubled-down on the censorship and asked for “secret of justice” in the case. This essentially acts like a gag order and would mean that Fraga would not be able to say anything publicly about the lawsuit.

Of course, all these threats did was encourage Fraga to keep making videos. Though Fraga knew that the odds were stacked against him and that he would most likely lose the case, he still refused to capitulate. He continued to expose the corruption within the government’s judicial system, mentioning every name of the people involved and urging viewers concerned with freedom of speech to place calls and send emails to the perpetrators of the censorship campaign against him.

After all the pressure and exposure, the judge finally gave up and withdrew the lawsuit. A huge victory for both Fraga and freedom of speech.

The Role of Bitcoin

Fraga has never committed a crime and was not being threatened with jail time. The judge was trying to use legalized extortion to silence and censor Fraga and here came Bitcoin.

Seeing Bitcoin as a revolutionary and disruptive technology, Fraga had turned all his assets into Bitcoin. In 2014, Fraga was sued again by a Rio de Janeiro state representative who also wanted to censor his videos and collect damages but he, of course, fought back once again. When the politician tried to censor and extort him, all she received was five dollars that he had left in his checking account.

On July 11, 2013, the day he uploaded his first video about the lawsuit, Bitcoin's value was 86.41 USD. Today it is around 2,500 USD. Knowing that he has turned all his properties and assets into Bitcoin, he not only had his rights protected, but he also made a significant amount of money in the process.

Dâniel Fraga’s story encourages people all over the world and inspires them to fight against tyranny. Additionally, Fraga's use of Bitcoin shows that revolutionary technology helps fight to protect free speech and limit state abuses.


Maurício F. Bento


Mauricio F. Bento is an analyst at Instituto Mercado Popular and a contributor to the HuffPost in Brazil.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Quebec’s Politicians Want to Maintain Milk Poverty

Quebec’s Politicians Want to Maintain Milk Poverty

Quebec's Politicians Want to Maintain Milk Poverty

Spared by the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, the Canadian milk supply restrictions are “in danger” again. Because of trade negotiations with the US and Europe, foreign farmers want better access to the Canadian market.

However, hearing complaints from the US about unfree dairy markets comes as paradoxical. Indeed, since the Great Depression, the dairy industry has been anything but free. It profits from various subsidies programs including “the Dairy Price Support Program, which bought up surplus production at guaranteed prices; the Milk Income Loss Contracts (MILC), which subsidized farmers when prices fall below certain thresholds, and many others.” It even came close to supply management in 2014, according to the Wilson Center.

But nevertheless, should US farmers ever have greater access to Canadian markets, it won’t be without a tough fight from Canadian farmers, especially those from the province of Quebec. Per provincial Agriculture Ministry (MAPAQ) figures, the dairy industry is the most lucrative farm activity, accounting for 28% of all farm revenues in the province, but also 37% of national milk revenues in 2013. “La Belle Province” also has 41% of all milk transformation manufacturers in Canada.

Supply Management that Costs Dearly

Why is this such a lucrative industry? The answer is simple: it was developed under a highly protectionist system known as supply management. In addition to the prohibitive Canadian tariffs – over 240% once the quota is met – Quebec producers are protected by production quotas, which one must own in order to produce milk (article 3).

Whoever dares to produce without this government blessing, or doesn’t sell milk through a centralized market, will be slapped with heavy fines (article 18). And the said quotas can only be transferred through a centralized board tightly defined by article 28.

As if it weren’t enough, minimum milk prices are also decided by an MAPAQ central board. The most recent update (June 1, 2017) states that the 2-percent milk fat, 4-liter (about a gallon) format must at least be sold for $6.33 in populous regions like Montreal and as much as $7.37 in further regions like the Magdalena Islands.

In comparison, neighboring Ontario sells its milk 33% (about $4.30), which can tempt neighboring cities like Gatineau to cross the Ottawa River to save money. Also, expensive US cities like San Francisco and New York City only pay $2.84 and $2.39 respectively for the same quantity of milk on average.

These high prices, of course, hurt families – especially low-income ones. For Canada as a whole, supply management costs on average $300 more per year. It also hurts the economy since the manufacturing industry cannot import cheaper products from abroad, increasing its production cost. Finally, insistence from Canada on keeping its expensive supply management system hinders its capacity to meaningfully reduce trade barriers with other markets – which would profit nearly 95% of agricultural producers who are not operating within the dairy industry.

Unanimous Political Support

But even though the near entirety of the population would profit from freer dairy markets, their liberalization will not happen anytime soon.

Basic Public Choice theory teaches that tiny organized minorities (here: milk producers) have so much to gain from making sure that the status quo remains. A region like Montérégie (Montreal’s South Shore) produced over 20% of all gross milk revenues in 2016. There are 23 out of 125 seats in that region, making it the most populous after Montreal (28 seats). So if a politician dares to question their way of living, milk producers will come together to make sure he or she doesn’t get elected. Libertarian-leaning Maxime Bernier learned it the hard way during the Canadian Conservative Party leadership race; producers banded together – some even joined the Conservative Party just for the race – and instead elected friendlier Andrew Scheer.

On the provincial level, all political parties in the National Assembly openly support milk quotas. From the Liberal Party to Coalition Avenir Québec and to Québec Solidaire, no one will openly talk against milk quotas. However, and maybe unwillingly, separatist leader Martine Ouellet gave the very reason why milk quotas are so important: they keep the dairy industry alive.

An Artificial Market

In fact, Ouellet simply confirmed what former Agriculture minister Pierre Paradis once said: agricultural production in Quebec is heavily aligned with protected markets. Before a parliamentary committee in 2015, he candidly said that 40% of all agriculture in Quebec is in the heavily protected dairy sector (inclusive of eggs and poultry).

And while the remaining 60% don’t receive as much protection, they still profit from preferential loans and public support through intricate government programs.

In other words: agriculture only thrives through government incentives. Otherwise, it would be unlikely that Quebec, entirely north of the 45th parallel with agriculture downright impossible at least half the year, would have so much resource directed towards agriculture.

And there would be nothing wrong with that – are we expecting Alaska to grow its own pineapples? It should be up to markets (i.e. consumers) to decide whether they want to eat Quebec dairy products. If the products are as good as they are marketed, then they should instead welcome foreign competition as they would be able to conquer new markets, expand their production and become even richer.

But until Canadian and Québécois politicians make the bold step of at least increasing dairy quota imports, we might never know. Instead, Canadians will keep overpaying for a basic staple because a small, organized group ensures that their livelihood remains intact, even if, in the long run, it impoverishes them too.


Pierre-Guy Veer


Pierre-Guy Veer is a Canadian-born libertarian now living in the US.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Totalitarianism of the Environmentalists

The Totalitarianism of the Environmentalists

The Totalitarianism of the Environmentalists

Late last year, I gave a talk about human progress to an audience of college students in Ottawa, Canada. I went through the usual multitude of indicators – rising life expectancy, literacy, and per capita incomes; declining infant mortality, malnutrition, and cancer death rates – to show that the world was becoming a much better place for an ever-growing share of its population.

It seemed to me that the audience was genuinely delighted to hear some good news for a change. I had won them over to the cause of rational optimism. And then someone in the audience asked about climate change and I blew it.

While acknowledging that the available data suggests a “lukewarming” trend in global temperatures, I cautioned against excessive alarmism. Available resources, I said, should be spent on adaptation to climate change, not on preventing changes in global temperature – a task that I, along with many others, consider to be both ruinously expensive and, largely, futile.

The audience was at first shocked – I reckon they considered me a rational and data-savvy academic up to that point – and then became angry and, during a breakout session, hostile. I even noticed one of the students scratching out five, the highest mark a speaker could get on an evaluation form, and replacing it with one. I suppose I should be glad he did not mark me down to zero.

My Ottawa audience was in no way exceptional. Very often, when speaking to audiences in Europe and North America about the improving state of the world, people acknowledge the positive trends, but worry that, as Matt Ridley puts it, “this happy interlude [in human history will come] to a terrible end.”

Of course, apocalyptic writings are as old as humanity itself. The Bible, for example, contains the story of the Great Flood, in which God “destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air.” The Akkadian poem of Gilgamesh similarly contains a myth of angry gods flooding the Earth, while an apocalyptic deluge plays a prominent part in the Hindu Dharmasastra.

And then there is Al Gore. In his 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth, Gore warns that “if Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen to the sea level in Florida,” before an animation shows much of the state underwater. Gore also shows animations of San Francisco, Holland, Beijing, Shanghai, Calcutta, and Manhattan drowning. “But this is what would happen to Manhattan, they can measure this precisely,” Gore says as he shows much of the city underwater.

Thinking Environmentalist Laws Through

It is possible, I suppose, that our eschatological obsessions are innate. The latest research suggests that our species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, is 300,000 years old. For most of our existence, life was, to quote Thomas Hobbes, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Our life expectancy was between 25 years and 30 years, and our incomes were stuck at a subsistence level for millennia. Conversely, our experience with relative abundance is, at most, two centuries old. That amounts to 0.07 percent of our time on Earth. Is there any wonder that we are prone to be pessimistic?

That said, I wonder how many global warming enthusiasts have thought through the full implications of their (in my view overblown) fears of a looming apocalypse. If it is true that global warming threatens the very survival of life on Earth, then all other considerations must, by necessity, be secondary to preventing global warming from happening.

That includes, first and foremost, the reproductive rights of women. Some global warming fearmongers have been good enough to acknowledge as much. Bill Nye, a progressive TV personality, wondered if we should “have policies that penalize people for having extra kids.”

Then there is travel and nutrition. Is it really so difficult to imagine a future in which each of us is issued with a carbon credit at the start of each year, limiting what kind of food we eat (locally grown potatoes will be fine, but Alaskan salmon will be verboten) and how far we can travel (visiting our in-laws in Ohio once a year will be permitted, but not Paris)? In fact, it is almost impossible to imagine a single aspect of human existence that would be free from government interference – all in the name of saving the environment.

These ideas might sound nutty, but they are slowly gaining ground. Just last week, a study came out estimating the environmental benefits of “having one fewer child (an average for developed countries of 58.6 tonnes CO2-equivalent (tCO2e) emission reductions per year), living car-free (2.4 tCO2e saved per year), avoiding air travel (1.6 tCO2e saved per roundtrip transatlantic flight), and eating a plant-based diet (0.8 tCO2e saved per year).”

And then there is Travis N. Rieder, a research scholar at Johns Hopkins’ Berman Institute of Bioethics, who says that “maybe we should protect our kids by not having them.” He wants tax penalties to punish new parents in rich countries. The proposed tax penalty would become harsher with each additional child.

And that brings me to my final point. Since the fall of communism, global warming has been, without question, the most potent weapon in the hands of those who wish to control the behavior of their fellow human beings. Lukewarmists like me do not caution against visions of an environmental apocalypse out of some perverse hatred of nature. On the contrary, concern for the environment is laudable and, I happen to believe, nearly universal. But environmentalism, like all –isms, can become totalitarian. It is for that reason that, when it comes to our environmental policies, we ought to tread very carefully.

Reprinted from CapX.


Marian L. Tupy


Marian L. Tupy is the editor of HumanProgress.org and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

MegaCon 2017: Tom Wilson

MegaCon 2017: Tom Wilson

Steve Jobs Wanted to Break Up the Education Monopoly

Steve Jobs Wanted to Break Up the Education Monopoly

Steve Jobs Wanted to Break Up the Education Monopoly

Steve Jobs said in a 1995 interview, “The unions are the worst thing that ever happened in education.”

Jobs spoke with Computerworld’s Daniel Morrow in a 1995 interview, which covered a wide range of topics, but frequently delved into Jobs’s views on the American education system. As he said, “I’d like the people teaching my kids to be good enough that they could get a job at the company I work for making $100,000 a year.”

But Jobs blamed teachers unions for getting in the way of good teachers getting better pay. “It’s not a meritocracy,” said Jobs. “It turns into a bureaucracy, which is exactly what’s happened. And teachers can’t teach, and administrators run the place, and nobody can be fired. It’s terrible.”

He noted that one solution is school choice: “I’ve been a very strong believer that what we need to do in education is go to the full voucher system.” Jobs explained that education in America had been taken over by a government monopoly, which was providing a poor quality education for children.

He referenced the government-created phone monopoly, broken up in 1982: “I remember seeing a bumper sticker with the Bell logo on it and it said, ‘We don’t care, we don’t have to.' That’s certainly what the public school system is. They don’t have to care.”

Jobs said that one way to open up a free market in education would be to offer a voucher to families. He gave an example of the California public school system, which in 1995 spent $4,400 per pupil: “I believe strongly that if the country gave each parent a voucher – a check for $4,400 that they could only spend at any accredited school – that several things would happen.”

First, “Schools would start marketing themselves like crazy to parents, to get students.”

Second, many new schools would begin popping up. “You could have 25-year-old kids out of college – very idealistic, full of energy – instead of starting a Silicon Valley company, they would start a school, and I believe they would do far better than many of our public school teachers do.”

 

Finally, the quality of education would rise in a competitive market: “A lot of schools would go broke, there’s no question about it. It would be rather painful for the first several years, but I think far less painful than the kids going through the system as it is right now.”

Jobs said that the main complaint against school choice is that schools would cater only to rich kids, and the poor kids would be “left to wallow together.”

However, he said, “that’s like saying, well, all the car manufacturers are going to make BMWs and Mercedes and nobody’s going to make a $10,000 car. Well, I think the most hotly competitive market right now is the $10,000 car.”

In other words, Jobs said, all students would benefit from more school choice, as the monopoly in education was broken up.

“The market competition model seems to indicate that where there is a need, there is a lot of providers willing to tailor their products to fit that need, and a lot of competition which keeps forcing them to get better and better.”


Joe Kent


Joe Kent is the Vice President of Research at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a free market think tank. Joe previously worked as a public school teacher for eight years, both in Hawaii and in Minnesota.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Everything You Need to Know about Government, in One Story

Everything You Need to Know about Government, in One Story

Everything You Need to Know about Government, in One Story

Every so often, I run across a chart, cartoon, or story that captures the essence of an issue. And when that happens, I make it part of my “everything you need to know” series.

I don’t actually think those columns tell us everything we need to know, of course, but they do show something very important. At least I hope.

And now, from our (normally) semi-rational northern neighbor, I have a new example.

This story from Toronto truly is a powerful example of the difference between government action and private action.
A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. 
Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont. Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job. …Astl says he hired a homeless person to help him and built the eight steps in a matter of hours. …Astl says members of his gardening group have been thanking him for taking care of the project, especially after one of them broke her wrist falling down the slope last year.
There are actually two profound lessons to learn from this story.

Since I’m a fiscal wonk, the part that grabbed my attention was the $550 cost of private action compared to $65,000 for government. Or maybe $150,000. Heck, probably more considering government cost overruns.

Though we’re not actually talking about government action. God only knows how long it would have taken the bureaucracy to complete this task. So this is a story of inexpensive private action vs. costly government inaction.

But there’s another part of this story that also caught my eye. The bureaucracy is responding with spite.
The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards…City bylaw officers have taped off the stairs while officials make a decision on what to do with it. …Mayor John Tory…says that still doesn’t justify allowing private citizens to bypass city bylaws to build public structures themselves. …“We just can’t have people decide to go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that’s what they would like to have.”
But there is a silver lining. With infinite mercy, the government isn’t going to throw Mr. Astl in jail or make him pay a fine. At least not yet.
Astl has not been charged with any sort of violation.
Gee, how nice and thoughtful.

One woman has drawn the appropriate conclusion from this episode.
Area resident Dana Beamon told CTV Toronto she’s happy to have the stairs there, whether or not they are up to city standards. “We have far too much bureaucracy,” she said. “We don’t have enough self-initiative in our city, so I’m impressed.”
Which is the lesson I think everybody should take away. Private initiative works much faster and much cheaper than government.

P.S. Let’s also call this an example of super-federalism, or super-decentralization. Imagine how expensive it would have been for the national government in Ottawa to build the stairs? Or how long it would have taken? Probably millions of dollars and a couple of years.

Now imagine how costly and time-consuming it would have been if the Ontario provincial government was in charge? Perhaps not as bad, but still very expensive and time-consuming.

And we already know the cost (and inaction) of the city government. Reminds me of the $1 million bus stop in Arlington, VA.

But when actual users of the park take responsibility (both in terms of action and money), the stairs were built quickly and efficiently.

In other words, let’s have decentralization. But the most radical federalism is when private action replaces government.

Reprinted from International Liberty

Editors Note: Since this article was originally published, the local government tore down Astl's $500 stairs, citing "safety standards," and plans to replace it with a $10,000 set.


Daniel J. Mitchell


Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Antic (March 1987)

Antic (March 1987)




Sunday, July 23, 2017

The West’s Advancement of Liberty

The West’s Advancement of Liberty

The West's Advancement of Liberty

Selections from an AMA with Robin Koerner. Founder of WatchingAmerica.com, the original "Blue Republican" and author of "If You Can Keep It".

Q: Hi Robin, thanks so much for doing this AMA. What's the most striking difference you see between the fortunes of human liberty in the US vs. the UK?

A: The US has a conscious, explicit and foundational tradition of liberty. I couldn’t do what I do in the UK (go around talking a lot about liberty and how to sell it) simply because the political vocabulary and interest in that concept per se are largely absent.  That is a huge thing.

It’s not just that the US has a classical liberal Constitution, but that the spirit of that constitution is “in the air”. It’s actually in the culture. It’s popular.  As a result, mostly unconscious, when Americans are considering any political issue, which necessarily involves the government, they are always thinking not only about the issue per se but also about the nature of government/governance itself.

On the flip side, I am more scared of the US government than the British (as a citizen of both countries). Because Americans, despite their self-narrative of rugged individualism, have a respect for, and deference to, authority, including most importantly political authority (people in the office) and law enforcement (people in uniform) that you would never find in Britain.

So in short, there are many dimensions on which the US/the UK are ahead of/behind each other in the liberty-stakes. But if you ask me to pick one best place to protect liberty, I still choose the US, once I net it all out. And I voted with my feet.

Q: The expenses associated with Brexit are going to be astronomical. While I see the need for Britain to retain its sovereignty, is it worth the cost?

A: With respect to “retain its sovereignty” – and the general thrust about weighing freedom with economic benefit, yes it absolutely worth it, for exactly the same reason that “picking cotton will become more expensive” was not a good argument against freeing the slaves. Getting out of the EU must be done at almost any cost if the British people are going to be not only free in the long run, but also, simply, a self-determined people.

Regarding the premise about the high cost of leaving, I don’t believe it’s necessarily the case. The EU side – and therefore the pro-EU media – has a massive interest in pumping out the propaganda that it’s going to hurt the UK to be outside of the union. But we heard the exact same thing when the UK didn’t join the Euro – and then when we voted for Brexit (which was before any negotiations apparently going to have a massive negative impact on our economy: the opposite happened, of course).

But there is absolutely no legal reason that this has to cost us any more than the adjustment costs that will be borne by large private and public companies that invested based on one future (if they were not very good at reading the public) and now have to adjust to another. But that’s life. That’s just what it means to operate in a dynamic marketplace.

Q: What would you say is/are the toughest obstacle(s) for Liberty activists to overcome in order to persuade others to consider or support a different perspective (e.g. Persuading a leftist or neocon to support libertarian views)? And how can they overcome those obstacles in order to gain supporters for Liberty?

A: The biggest obstacle is lack of intellectual humility. They can overcome this one by seeking out smart people (preferably smarter than themselves!) they can respect with views that oppose their own, and deeply engaging the objections from a position that isn't motivated by "let me find where this is wrong" but rather by "let me see where this opposing view points to something that I've not fully considered/assimilated".

The second is mistaking the map for the territory. A political philosophy is an abstraction of reality. Its test is against the experiences of other people, who are the only ends of politics. If you keep not being able to persuade people (real things) of your version of libertarian ideas, that's as likely to do with a mismatch between your ideas and human nature or the current experiences of human beings in our culture (which must be taken into account as the context for any political change) as it is to do with the fact that everyone else is an idiot. (They're not.)

In short, to persuade person X of Proposition Y, it is more important to understand the nature of X than the logic of Y. So activists should spend a bit more time on the former and a bit less on the latter. Literally, spend more time exploring those fields than re-reading the Creature from Jekyll Island (awesome as that book is!) It's a corollary of "seeking first to understand before being understood". Travel (to different places, cultures etc.) is good for that too.

Q: You were heavily involved in 2012 prez election and saw the "movement" first hand. I think you might agree that there are fewer people around today who might be classified as a liberty "activist" in the sense that people were in those days. It is not obvious to me that this is regrettable. I would rather see sincerity and sophistication rather than sheer numbers. What is your view of this?

A: There are always more people doing anything that is getting more attention in the media and culture. “What we focus on we make bigger”. The presidential election is (alas) like a presidential super bowl that goes on for years… which means there’s plenty of time for people with myriad reasons to latch on to do so. The more attention something gets and the more of the “cultural space” it occupies, the more personal reasons people will have to get involved. It’s not unreasonable, it is attention and cultural space that presage real political change after all. (Culture precedes politics.)

So now that that presidential super bowl is over and especially since our (Liberty’s) team (Ron Paul) was playing, inevitably fewer fans are engaged (if you’ll allow me to stretch the analogy).

The citizens committed enough to set the direction of cultural and political change are always few, sincere and sophisticated. So like you, I am an optimist. Because our activist core is sincere and growing, and with this generation I believe, determined to become more sophisticated, using the new technological communication- and education-related tools for just that purpose.

Q: What's your favorite beer?

A: Now we're getting to what really matters! Not a single favorite, Grant. Rather, I love to explore the amazingly diverse and flavorsome Belgian beers (anything from Duvel to a Lambic). Closer to home, I'm partial to a good locally brewed IPA on draft...


Robin Koerner


Robin Koerner is British-born and recently became a citizen of the USA. A decade ago, he founded WatchingAmerica.com, an organization of over 200 volunteers that translates and posts views about the USA from all over the world, works as a trainer and a consultant, and recently wrote the book If You Can Keep It.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.


MegaCon 2017: Rocky Horror Picture Show Cast

MegaCon 2017: Rocky Horror Picture Show Cast

Friday, July 21, 2017

Health Care Is a Mess… But Why?

Health Care Is a Mess… But Why?

Health Care Is a Mess... But Why?

You probably know a couple who both work full time to support their children, but even with their dual incomes, they’re finding it more and more difficult to afford health insurance.

Everyday incidents like sports injuries, asthma, and blood pressure, combined with their anxiety over rising premiums, are turning their American dream into sleepless nights.

Why can’t people catch a break? It wasn’t always this way!

According to the Consumer Price Index and Medical-care price index from 1935 to 2009, the health care spending crisis didn’t start until the mid 1960s, around the same time when Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law, and at the same time that we began requiring doctors to go through all sorts of expensive licensing procedures beyond medical school.

Since then, health care spending has doubled, even adjusted for inflation. Why? Well, there are a few reasons.

Everyone wants health care, but there’s only so much to go around. And short supply leads to high prices. Normally what happens in a marketplace is that when prices are high, entrepreneurs try to profit by finding more affordable ways to provide goods and services.

The more people become involved in providing these services, the less scarce they become and the lower the prices drop, so that over time, more and more people can afford them.

This is what happened to televisions, microwaves, computers, cell phones, internet service, delivery services, food, shipping, transportation/air-travel, entertainment, home security, fitness, yoga, massages, and even all the medical technology, like LASIK, that isn't as heavily regulated or controlled by government.

Can't government drive down the price of goods and services like the free market?


Let's look at what happened with Medicare and Medicaid as an example. In 1965, these two single payer health insurance programs were instituted in the US. These programs made the unfortunate less dependant on impartial private charities and more dependant on political institutions and pharmaceutical companies.

On top of that, these programs constantly require tax increases, and because they function more to satisfy the health care industry than the worker, they continually lead to more expensive and wasteful ways of treating patients.

As a result, prices shot up, making it even more difficult for people to afford health insurance. Not only that, but in 1965, government took over the training of new doctors, and in 1997 they limited the number of new doctors they would train at 110,000 per year – and the number hasn’t changed since!

Even worse, our government won’t let migrant doctors from developed western countries practice in the US without undergoing this training. So, not only do experienced doctors from other countries not want to practice medicine here, but the ones who do are taking up 15% of those few 110,000 slots, limiting the supply of doctors even more.

Won't Obamacare solve these problems?

Unfortunately, Obamacare suffers from similar problems. It eliminated the pricing structure by seriously restricting competition because all providers have to offer the same kinds of plans at the same price. And because that price isn’t really determined by the market, providers can charge the taxpayer way more than they could otherwise. It’s basically just a handout to big insurance companies.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! If we get the government out of health care, more people like those you know will be able to get the care they need.


Seamus Coughlin


Seamus Coughlin is a comedy writer and animator with a deep interest in politics and morality. A good deal of his work can be found on the FreedomToons YouTube channel.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Electronic Gaming Monthly – Holiday 2007

Electronic Gaming Monthly – Holiday 2007