Free Markets, Free People

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How can anyone support Santorum after this?

When I was at CPAC, I asked Santorum voters why he was their man.  Almost to a person, they cited the fact that he was the most “consistent conservative”.  If that’s the case, is this what “consistent conservatives” believe?

I’m someone who takes the opinion that gaming is not something that is beneficial, particularly having that access on the Internet. Just as we’ve seen from a lot of other things that are vices on the Internet, they end to grow exponentially as a result of that. It’s one thing to come to Las Vegas and do gaming and participate in the shows and that kind of thing as entertainment, it’s another thing to sit in your home and have access to that it. I think it would be dangerous to our country to have that type of access to gaming on the Internet.

Freedom’s not absolute. What rights in the Constitution are absolute? There is no right to absolute freedom. There are limitations. You might want to say the same thing about a whole variety of other things that are on the Internet — “let everybody have it, let everybody do it.” No. There are certain things that actually do cost people a lot of money, cost them their lives, cost them their fortunes that we shouldn’t have and make available, to make it that easy to do. That’s why we regulate gambling. You have a big commission here that regulates gambling, for a reason.

I opposed gaming in Pennsylvania . . . A lot of people obviously don’t responsibly gamble and lose a lot and end up in not so great economic straits as a result of that. I believe there should be limitations.

If you’re not aghast then you’re not paying attention.  The question posed to Santorum concerned online gambling.

Swap “gambling” with about any freedom you can imagine and run it through that statement.  You should be terrified.   This is an argument almost any liberal or “progressive” would make to limit your freedoms.  They consider freedom and rights to be government granted (or they don’t exist until government says they exist – and folks that’s not a “right”, that’s a privilege).  They reserve the right to limit your freedom to make you conform to their idea of what is “right” or “good”. 

Here’s a simple solution Mr. Santorum.  If you oppose online gambling, don’t do it.  But his argument here is fundamentally anti-freedom.  It is his decision to limit your choice to act by claiming your action is destructive and must be “limited” by government do-gooders.

It is the very argument that I thought conservatives opposed.

How is this smaller and less intrusive government?  And, more importantly, how is this not translatable as a philosophy, to just about anything you can imagine that Rick Santorum finds objectionable?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Obama administration and its health care “mystery shoppers”

One of the things many who have studied the problem of health care in the US have known for quite some time is that there is and will be a shortage of primary care doctors in the US.  These doctors are the gatekeepers in the system in which health insurance providers require primary care doctors manage the health care of patients and be the ones to authorize referrals to specialists.

The shortage of these doctors isn’t news nor is it something new.  Only 30% of practicing doctors are in primary care.  65 million Americans live in areas where a shortage of primary care doctors exists.  And ObamaCare’s extension of insurance benefits will add another 30 million to the roles who will have to seek a primary care physician.

So, how does the administration plan to address this known problem?  With incentives for such doctors to take Medicare and Medicaid patients whose reimbursement for services is known to be lower than that of private insurance?   Announce a plan to incentivize incoming medical school students to become primary care doctors?

Nope.   It’s to snoop on existing primary care doctors by enlisting “mystery shoppers” who will falsely identify themselves as potential patients with various types of insurance (Medicare, Medicaid and private) to determine whether the physicians called discriminate among who they’ll accept.

Alarmed by a shortage of primary care doctors, Obama administration officials are recruiting a team of “mystery shoppers” to pose as patients, call doctors’ offices and request appointments to see how difficult it is for people to get care when they need it.

The administration says the survey will address a “critical public policy problem”: the increasing shortage of primary care doctors, including specialists in internal medicine and family practice. It will also try to discover whether doctors are accepting patients with private insurance while turning away those in government health programs that pay lower reimbursement rates.

As you might imagine, doctors who’ve learned about this upcoming attempt are not at all happy with it:

Dr. George J. Petruncio, a family doctor in Turnersville, N.J., said: “This is not a way to build trust in government. Why should I trust someone who does not correctly identify himself?”

Dr. Stephen C. Albrecht, a family doctor in Olympia, Wash., said: “If federal officials are worried about access to care, they could help us. They don’t have to spy on us.”

Dr. Robert L. Hogue, a family physician in Brownwood, Tex., asked: “Is this a good use of tax money? Probably not. Everybody with a brain knows we do not have enough doctors.”

In response the administration says:

In response to the drumbeat of criticism, a federal health official said doctors need not worry because the data would be kept confidential. “Reports will present aggregate data, and individuals will not be identified,” said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the plan before its final approval by the White House.

Christian J. Stenrud, a Health and Human Services spokesman, said: “Access to primary care is a priority for the administration. This study is an effort to better understand the problem and make sure we are doing everything we can to support primary care physicians, especially in communities where the need is greatest.”

Now, being the skeptic I am and having watched government operate for decades, I tend to see other possibilities in this sort of an effort.  Remember, ObamaCare was passed by Democrats, most of whom see health care as a “right”.  Thus, they feel they have the right to mandate that a) everyone have insurance and b) that everyone with insurance have access to a physician.   They got the “a” done in ObamaCare.  Left undone is the mandate that all insured have access to a doctor – without exception.  That mandate would be perfectly in-line with their belief that they can demand the skills, assets and time of one to serve the pseudo-right of another.

Why else would this “stealth survey” involving people falsely identifying themselves to doctors to determine whether they discriminate against lower paying insurance programs be planned?  The doctor shortage is known.  The administration claims that ObamaCare “includes several provisions intended to increase the supply of primary care doctors” and that this survey is intended to “evaluate the effectiveness of those policies. “  Really?  Considering that the law has been in effect only a short time and is not fully in effect, one might find it a bit hard to believe that bit of spin.

Instead it seems much more likely that this is a prelude to something else.  This is information gathering to prove something – i.e. doctors are discriminating.  And we all know that in our new, brave world, “discrimination” is a mortal political sin.  Does anyone not believe the outcome of such a survey might be used to attempt to pass an anti-discrimination law or a law which requires primary care physicians to accept anyone with insurance who applies regardless of coverage? 

Yeah, me too.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 15 May 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Indiana Supreme Court’s Ruling on the 4th Amendment, and this week’s political stories.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Internet “kill switch” legislation back–and no judicial review authorized

What was one of the first thing done by the Egyptian government when protests started to seriously build into threatening government’s further existence?  It turned off the internet.  That is, it abruptly ordered it be shut down along with cell phones in order to hamstring the protesters ability to communicate and coordinate and to not allow tweets, emails and liveblogs from recording the situation for the rest of the world.

It couldn’t happen here, though, could it?

A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a "national cyberemergency," and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.

Yes, it’s back.  And the same sponsors who tried to get it through Congress the last time around are sponsoring it again.

Internet companies should not be alarmed by the legislation, first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a Senate aide said last week. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We’re not trying to mandate any requirements for the entire Internet, the entire Internet backbone," said Brandon Milhorn, Republican staff director and counsel for the committee.

Instead, Milhorn said at a conference in Washington, D.C., the point of the proposal is to assert governmental control only over those "crucial components that form our nation’s critical infrastructure."

Uh, yeah – that’s those are the same “crucial components” that Egypt used to cut its people off from the rest of the world.   And somehow we’re supposed to trust government not to use its power in ways not yet imagined and certainly not wanted?

I don’t think so.

Portions of the Lieberman-Collins bill, which was not uniformly well-received when it became public in June 2010, became even more restrictive when a Senate committee approved a modified version on December 15. The full Senate did not act on the measure.

The revised version includes new language saying that the federal government’s designation of vital Internet or other computer systems "shall not be subject to judicial review." Another addition expanded the definition of critical infrastructure to include "provider of information technology," and a third authorized the submission of "classified" reports on security vulnerabilities.

I don’t know about you but given government overreach in the last two years, I see nothing about this that gives me a warm fuzzy.  And I certainly don’t want anything to do with a bill which gives the executive or legislative branch power not subject to judicial review.   That’s how rights get trampled.

And yes, friends, it’s all about protecting you from, well, something:

"For all of its ‘user-friendly’ allure, the Internet can also be a dangerous place with electronic pipelines that run directly into everything from our personal bank accounts to key infrastructure to government and industrial secrets," he said.

Hey Joe, I’m a big boy – I’ll take care of myself… hands off the Internet, m’kay?

But they won’t.  You know it and they know it.   Its there and since it is there it must be taxed, regulated and controlled by government.

Here’s the initial criteria for the supposed “vital internet or other computer systems”:

Under the revised legislation, the definition of critical infrastructure has been tightened. DHS is only supposed to place a computer system (including a server, Web site, router, and so on) on the list if it meets three requirements. First, the disruption of the system could cause "severe economic consequences" or worse. Second, that the system "is a component of the national information infrastructure." Third, that the "national information infrastructure is essential to the reliable operation of the system."

At last week’s event, Milhorn, the Senate aide, used the example of computers at a nuclear power plant or the Hoover Dam but acknowledged that "the legislation does not foreclose additional requirements, or additional additions to the list."

Yeah, “just give us this little bit – no more”.  Uh huh.  The proverbial camel’s nose under the tent that is not subject to judicial review.  Let me stress that for the third time  – none of this, if passed into law, is reviewable by the judiciary. And, of course, once passed, they won’t decide other parts of the infrastructure belong on there, will they? Oh, no.

As Berin Szoka of TechFreedom says, “blocking judicial review of this … essentially says that the rule of law goes out the window if a major crisis occurs.”

Well, yeah … and guess who gets to decide what is a “major crisis”?  Without judicial review. 

Sound good to you?

~McQ


Observations: The Qando Podcast for 16 Aug 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the troubling nature of Turkey’s re-alignment away from the West, and President Obama’s statements about the “Ground Zero” mosque.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Clueless in California

You have to watch this 3 minute video if you want a clue as to why we’re in the shape we are now as a nation. And Pete Stark obviously isn’t the only one who thinks the “federal government can do most anything.” Also notice he never addresses the questions directly. He hems and haws around, clearly clueless as to how to answer the very specific and pointed questions. Lastly, watch his pathetic little slam at the questioner at the end.

Is it any wonder we have legislation that many consider to be a Constitutional travesty? Is it any wonder that Congress now “enjoys” the worst approval numbers in its history (since polls have been taken)?

~McQ

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SCOTUS – all Americans have the right to keep and bear arms

In a rather interesting ruling which, unsurprisingly, split along ideological lines, the Supreme Court today made it clear that all Americans enjoy the full right and benefit of self-defense guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment.  Mary Katharine Ham notes part of the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito:

Alito writes in part, “Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present day, and in Heller, we held that individual self-defense is “the central component” of the Second Amendment right,” while allowing, as in Heller, for sensible gun ownership restrictions.

Alito went on to write:

We repeat those assurances here. Despite municipal respondents’ doomsday proclamations, incorporation does not imperil every law regulating firearms.

Of course, the crack left by that sentence will be fully exploited by municipalities and states, calling whatever they try to do "sensible gun ownership restrictions". But Alito makes it clear that the Bill of Rights, as incorporated under the Constitution, doesn’t mean that states have the right or authority to radically change the intent of the constitutional guarantees they provide citizens:

"The relationship between the Bill of Rights’ guarantees and the States must be governed by a single, neutral principle. It is far too late to exhume what Justice Brennan, writing for the Court 46 years ago, derided as “the notion that the Fourteenth Amendment applies to the States only a watered-down, subjective version of the individual guarantees of the Bill of Rights.”

Or, screw with this ruling at your own peril.

As mentioned, the court split 5-4.  Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissent:

He disagreed with the majority that it is a fundamental right, and said the court was restricting state and local efforts from designing gun control laws that fit their particular circumstances, and turning over all decisions to federal judges.

"Given the empirical and local value-laden nature of the questions that lie at the heart of the issue, why, in a nation whose constitution foresees democratic decision-making, is it so fundamental a matter as to require taking that power from the people?" Breyer wrote. "What is it here that the people did not know? What is it that a judge knows better?"

Well that’s a simple one, Justice Breyer – because rights aren’t something one votes on.  A right is something one either has or doesn’t.  What Breyer is suggesting is it should be up to a majority to “vote” to take away the rights guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution.  In my ideological neck of the woods, that dog won’t hunt.

~McQ


“Everyone deserves health care”

That’s been the starting position for everyone who supported the health care reform monstrosity that just came out of Washington DC.  It’s stated in various ways, such as health care being a “right”, but the axiom is always that in our society everyone should have health care, or as a practical matter, health insurance.

It sounds so compassionate and decent doesn’t it? But that little phrase packs in some nasty principles.

It’s one thing to say that you deserve to control your own life, or property or income.    That’s pretty uncontroversial.  But when you say, “I have a right to have health care–or a pension, or a home–provided for me even if I can’t afford it”, then what you’re really saying is that I have an obligation to provide you with those things.  Whether I wish to provide them to you, or whether it causes me some degree of privation, is irrelevant.  To say that you–or anyone else–has a right to something I must provide is to say that you have an irrevocable claim on my life, labor or property.  I owe you.

No matter how you try to gussy it up, or dress it in compassion, the fact is that by claiming that such an obligation, you place me in indentured servitude.  My wishes are irrelevant.

Indeed, it’s not even indentured servitude.  At least in an indenture, I have to agree to provide you with my labor for some period, after which I am manumitted.  In actuality, by claiming such an obligation on me that I cannot evade, you make me, to some degree, your serf.  You are the laird of the manor, and I have my obligation of labor days to provide you.

Now, perhaps I should be willing to provide you with health insurance.  Perhaps that is the moral and/or ethical course of action I should undertake.  But that, too, is irrelevant.  By demanding it, and by forcing me to provide you with a good or service by law, you not only ignore my conception of morality, you impose your morality on me.  Whether I agree with your morality is not even a consideration for you.  You have a claim,you say, so your morality trumps mine.

Moreover, once you’ve accepted that it’s perfectly all right to impose a form of servitude on me, in order that I might provide you with a good, what’s your limiting principle?  If you may impose an obligation on me to provide a part of my income or property in order to procure a good for yourself, why can’t you simply take all of it?  After all, you’ve already signed on to imposing slavery in principle, because you’ve decided that you can impose an obligation on me against my will.  Why stop  at serfdom?

Slavery, to one degree or another, is, of course, the inevitable outcome of any attempt to enforce some sense of cosmic justice on life, and the lives of your fellow men.  Because there is no such thing as cosmic justice.  Nor is there any general agreement on what cosmic justice should be.  So, your attempt to impose it on others invariably must be done by force, either through the majesty of the law, or with a knife to the throat.

Which is often the same thing.

So, what you are really saying when you claim that “Everyone deserves health care,” is, “I have the right to enslave you, in whole or in part, in order to require you provide health care to me.”  When you strip the high-sounding phrases to the principles, it doesn’t sound nearly so moral and compassionate, does it?

Oh, and by the way, it does no good to tell me that I also have the same claim on others, and can force someone else to provide me with health care, too.  Because all you’re really telling me is that I can become a slavemaster, too.  The fact that I don’t care to be a slavemaster, or that I find it morally abhorrent, is utterly irrelevant to you.  Again, your morality trumps mine.

Because, after all, if you can get everyone else to join you in your crime–indeed, to glory in it–who will condemn you?

Discuss amongst yourselves.


More Stupid Journalist Tricks

This quote from the NYT‘s Robert Frank is enough to cause any half-way intelligent person apoplexy [HT: Ramesh Ponnuru]:

Anti-tax zealots denounce all taxation as theft, as depriving citizens of their right to spend their hard-earned incomes as they see fit. Yet nowhere does the Constitution grant us the right not to be taxed. Nor does it grant us the right to harm others with impunity. No one is permitted to steal our cars or vandalize our homes. Why should opponents of taxation be allowed to harm us in less direct ways?

Oh, Jeez. Correcting all of the problems with this statement could fill volumes, but at its core is this mind-numbingly stupid assertion: “Yet nowhere does the Constitution grant us the right not to be taxed.

That’s right, genius, it doesn’t. Wanna know why? Because nowhere does the Constitution grant us any rights, you imbecile! That’s not what the Constitution is about or for. It doesn’t grant us the right to free speech, or to bear arms, or to due process, or to be secure in our possessions and properties. It doesn’t even grant anyone the right to vote. What it does is protect those individual rights, all of which existed prior to the Constitution even being contemplated. Which, incidentally, was the point to having a government in the first place (and not to use the state’s police powers to dole out goodies to favored constituencies, as seems to be all the rage nowadays).

Indeed, the only thing that Constitution does grant is limited powers to the federal government, all other powers being reserved to the States or the people (see Amendment X to that Constitution you are blathering about).

Accordingly, your argument is not just “insane”, to use Mr. Ponnuru’s term, it is also fundamentally misinformed. In the future, should find the need to expound upon the foundation of our government and/or its relation to individual rights, perhaps you should educate yourself about those concepts first.


Podcast for 09 Aug 09

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the furor over the Health Care bill.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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