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The Libertarian Failures of the Republican Congress
Posted by: McQ on Monday, October 02, 2006

I guess today is politics day.

Today's Wall Street Journal editorial discusses the 109th Congress and what it has and hasn't accomplished. Most of it we're very aware of and have talked about at some length here and Q and O.

But there are a couple of points I'd like to highlight where opportunities were missed which were very unfortunate - at least in terms of how a libertarian might view the failures.

For instance:
Perhaps the most puzzling abdication was the GOP failure to do anything at all on health care. The window for saving private health care from government encroachment is closing, and both business and workers are feeling the pinch from rising costs. Yet Republicans failed to make health-care savings accounts more attractive, failed to let business associations offer their own health plans, and failed even to bring to a vote Arizona Congressman John Shadegg's bill to avoid costly state mandates by letting health insurance be marketed across state boundaries. The biggest winner here is Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 Presidential campaign.
I've been an advocate of getting health care away from employers for, oh heck, I can't tell you how long. That and eliminating governmental mandates on "minimum coverage" have been two of my primary ways to fix the health insurance problem in America.

I think you should be able to buy health insurance for your family through associations or an insurance agent and tailor it to your needs. If you want bare bones coverage and a catastrophic insurance policy when you are young, fine. Go for it. You should not be stuck with a high cost policy through your employer paying for coverage you don't want or need (via mandates). Make the health insurance market more like every other insurance market.

What Republicans failed to do was, essentially, to take steps which would have made insurance both portable and affordable - the two most pressing problems with health insurance today. And as the editorial points out, since the problem remains (one obviously created by government) it plays well as an issue for the probable '08 campaign of the woman who tired mightily to give us "Hillary Care" back in the '90s.

HSA's were poorly sold and there was no real attempt to take a consumer positive approach to health insurance and create the demand for legislation to make insurance portable or affordable. That leaves the door open for precisely the type of 'fix' we don't want and can't afford.

No, on the health care side, all we've seen Republicans do is pander to Democrats - who gladly accepted the gift but still wouldn't support them on the Republican agenda - by passing the horrendously expensive Medicare Part D.

Of course the other issue, Social Security reform, was also badly fumbled by the Republicans. Again elements of the reform appealed greatly to the "increase liberty" crowd such as myself.

Give me some control over the money I am forced to "contribute" and, given how the market has treated such investments historically over the long-haul, I stand to actually have the chance of a reasonable retirement income. How hard is that to sell to people who already know that you can't live on a social security income? And, insuring those already at a certain age that they'll get their full benefits (thereby removing their objections to such reform) seems to make it a no-brainer. But Republicans not only couldn't pull it off, they didn't seem to have the will to do so.
Social Security reform was never going to be easy, and Mr. Bush's war-driven decline in job approval meant he couldn't move any Democrats. But that still doesn't excuse such prominent Republicans as Tom Davis (Virginia) and Roy Blunt (Missouri) for resisting their President's reform effort behind the scenes. So frightened were they that they never even brought the subject up for a vote.
And there's the "inside baseball" version of why it never went anywhere. Short-sightedness, lack of courage and, most of all, lack of leadership. That's what will cost them the House in 30 days, and, frankly, I can't help but believe deservedly so.
 
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Comments
Just another example of you warmongering bush worshiping cultists defending anything he or the other bush worshiping prince craving cultists do
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oh wait, what post am I commenting in again?
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
I in principal agree with you whole heartily McQ but your not facing reality when you said "If you want bare bones coverage and a catastrophic insurance policy when you are young, fine. Go for it."

If a young person doesn’t buy the coverage for all of it we as a society would need to go ahead and let that young person die for thier failure to get the coverage. I think we should let that happen until people realise they are responsible for themselves but that just will not happen. I sure don’t want to be the person to tell a family "sorry he made the wrong choise" and let them die. I would bet any politician who said striaght up "we should let people die who don’t buy the coverage" would not have a job at the next election.
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
If a young person doesn’t buy the coverage for all of it we as a society would need to go ahead and let that young person die for thier failure to get the coverage.
That’s what the catastrophic coverage would take care of. And then there’s always, you know, cash?

Or, heaven forbid ... a health savings account to cover the gap between cash and the catastrophic insurance?

But if they don’t want "vision care" as a mandatory part of their insurance (say they have perfect 20/20 vision and no family history of eye problems) why should they be forced to buy it by state mandate?
I sure don’t want to be the person to tell a family "sorry he made the wrong choise" and let them die.
Well then you pay for it. I have no problem telling his family that he chose not to have insurance.

Note how you are trying to get others to pay for something which gives you concern but might not concern them. Why should your concerns, and not those of others, have first claim on my money (and I’m asking this in a moral sense, not a legislative sense, since we all know that the state can coerce this)? Why should we have to pay for his choices or lack thereof?

Seems to me telling them we won’t pay would give him more incentive to choose wisely.

But hey, if you’re going to pay no matter what he chooses (to include not choosing to have insurance), then tell me what incentive he has to have insurance at all? He’ll just let you pick up the tab by throwing himself on the system at the necessary time.

I’m saying put the product in the hands of the consumer, let the consumer take responsibility for his health care (and insurance) choices and let him live with those choices.

Freedom & liberty entail choice and responsibility (which seems to be anathema to how we seem to want to live our lives based in dependence these days).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
On this note, check out Kos’ Libertarian Democrat Round 2 article in CATO weekly. Frankly, McQ, I think you’ll be hard pressed to trash it.

Now *I* could trash it for focusing too much on negative goals and not enough on positive ones, or for being too shallow on the corporate issue, or for being too tactically-focused... etc. etc. But it ain’t bad.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
On this note, check out Kos’ Libertarian Democrat Round 2 article in CATO weekly. Frankly, McQ, I think you’ll be hard pressed to trash it.
I’ve already read it ... it’s trash. More on it later.

As a good friend said:
These people are trying to *steal* a concept to which they cannot claim the slightest right. That opening paragraph of his is as wrong as it can be: if you asked him about "the notion of personal liberty" when it comes to *socialized medicine*, for instance, what do you think you would get from him?
End of argument.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Think about reality.

When you where 18 (I moved out of parents home at 16 had a job and paid rent had a car and paid insurance for the car on the months I could) did you earn the money to buy health insurance?

I am against national health insurance but there has to be a way to provide for people. You may have went on to college and success. I started out needing to take care of myself. College was not an option I had to goto work. This is a personal bias but you college boys can go over to a coast and make laws on each other to your harts content. Do not tell me a person who can and always has taken care of myself, and in the last decade taken care of my own family, that I should go blind becuase I don’t have the money to buy insurance.

That is where I have mixed feeling in my very libertarian (more conservative then the republicans) view. Yes, we must be responsible for ourselves but you can not expect a 18 year old starting a new life to be able to afford the insurance even if they want it.
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
Yes, we must be responsible for ourselves but you can not expect a 18 year old starting a new life to be able to afford the insurance even if they want it.
So he has no family? No one to help out in the early years?

You avoided my questions. Why, if it is of such importance to you, don’t you pay for that 18 year old’s insurance.

In a free country, no one will stop you. But they also won’t make you.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
If she/he has no family then she/he should die?
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
Actually that wasn’t fair of me McQ,

You are correct in a free country we can give ourselves to a person or thru a chairity. I just do not see a person getting on the national or even state stage and saying that and still get elected.
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
I’ve already read it ... it’s trash.
.

LoL. Ok, you asked for it. If there was ever a political case of kicking the gift horse in the teeth, not to mention taking determined spite for its’ own sake over recognizing for two seconds the significance to libertarianism as a political movement that the #1 "nutroots moonbat" in Democratic politics is trying to accomodate his own movement to greater libertarianism.. dumb. I’m not a libertarian, but thinking from their point of view - downright stupid and self-destructive. Have a ball. I’m no libertarian, so I hope Kos gets a good smack in the face. That’ll teach him to weaken the movement. (half-sarcasm).

But let’s move on to the topic at hand..

libertarianism and its ugly stepchild of free-market grunting are at their most incoherent - which is saying a lot - when on the topic of the insurance market. Insurance in practice wavers between its ideal purpose and its reality, torn between societal function and greed, between-

#1. a societal evolution to lower volatility and mitigate risk - using market mechanisms by default, since that’s the only way to form complex economic organization - or:

#2. A parasitic scam, a running pyramid scheme that increases profits through systematic legal fraud and buck-passing, while siphoning capital away from real-value-added activity.

The schemes most like #1 - the ones that work well, the ones where insurance remains relatively affordable, relatively available, and doing what it’s meant to do - spread risk and mitigate loss - are the government-owned, government-paid, or heavily regulated industries. The auto insurance industry works better than the health care insurance industry in part because consumers are *forced* to buy it and companies are *forced* to provide coverage.That mandates a broadening of risk and allows the insurance industry to soak up catastrophic costs - which is, surprise, the *point* of insurance.

Your schemes about individual responsibility here are way off the mark, not only because putting them into effect would increase cost for who remained owning insurance, not just because the insurance industry would *die* in a move to individual coverage,(although this is sort of the only good argument in favor, actually) because individual insurance is *inherently unaffordable* in practice quite often, and usually a bad economic deal -
but also because *insurance* and *individual accountability* are fundamentally incompatible concepts.

You want individual accountability? Then start a movement to *end* insurance. When bad medical things happen to you, pay for them in cash. Or die.

—-

HSA’s were poorly sold and there was no real attempt to take a consumer positive approach to health insurance and create the demand for legislation to make insurance portable or affordable

This is denial. They weren’t poorly sold, they’re inherently unlilkable in today’s world. You practically need a JD to understand your health insurance policy, and beyond that, insurance companies outright refuse to pay claims they legally owe all the time when they calculate that your costs to challenge are too high. People understand from the gut that in a one-on-one contest, insurance companies will beat them, ditch their obligations, and leave them in the tank. People don’t want to deal with their insurance company on their own. There is no marketing plan that will make this work. You’ll have to think bigger.

That leaves the door open for precisely the type of ’fix’ we don’t want and can’t afford.So we are, as a society, inherently unable to afford to give sick people medical care? Bah.
Why should your concerns, and not those of others, have first claim on my money?
Well, if having people die or be incapacitiated to due to curable diseases because they didn’t meet some meet some imaginary standard of smart planning isn’t enough of a moral claim.. then go with the pragmatic reality that you’ll pay less for the right kind of government mandated system in the long run. The personal choice system fails because of the consequences of intrinsic contradictions and won’t be popular in the near future.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
You are correct in a free country we can give ourselves to a person or thru a chairity. I just do not see a person getting on the national or even state stage and saying that and still get elected.
But if you understand the purpose of charity, what has that to do with getting elected.

Why is government always the solution?

That speaks to the mindset that says we must take the responsibility for those who won’t (or can’t) take responsiblity for themselves. Of course, there is only one way to do that ... force. And the entity with the monopoly on force?

Government.

And that pretty effectively takes the ’free’ out of it, doesn’t it?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Yes it does, unless the people point the guns back at the government and say stop.

"Stop, already" or face my death and your own.
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
I have never qouted glasnsot before but here "You want individual accountability? Then start a movement to *end* insurance. When bad medical things happen to you, pay for them in cash. Or die."
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
I have never qouted glasnsot before but here "You want individual accountability? Then start a movement to *end* insurance. When bad medical things happen to you, pay for them in cash. Or die."
That’s just silly, SkyWatch. And when things are silly, you just let them lay there. [How would you end insurance unless you used government force to do so? Seems it’s market driven and a viable product which helps people act responsibly.]

What I’m arguing is two-fold. Make insurance more affordable by ending mandates. Make it portable by removing it from employment.

Any problem with those two ideas?

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Sorry I died many years ago in a highschool football game. It was just a chance hit that I made but knocked us both out. I stood up afterwards, he didn’t till the medic put a amonia pill under his nose, then I fell about an hour after the game. I had no family to take me to the hospital, just a friend who hollered at his mom to get an ambulance.

Guess you think I should have died.
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
Guess you think I should have died.
Huh?
What I’m arguing is two-fold. Make insurance more affordable by ending mandates. Make it portable by removing it from employment.

Any problem with those two ideas?
?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
A very good libertarian idea:

Start up a charity that will provide health insurance for the poor, or whatever.

The true purpose of the charity is to show to liberals that hey, instead of asking the government to raise taxes, why not contribute some money RIGHT NOW to help these poor people?

It’s the health care equivalent of the Chickenhawk argument, no?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Yes it does, unless the people point the guns back at the government and say stop.
...not paying for my heath care? ...in the name of love? ...dragging my heart around?
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
The current state of health care is a result of govenment intervention. Because of AMA lobbying, only so many medical schools are accredited. Therefore, the supply of doctors has been capped. Also, government regulations prevents someone who is quite capable of treating an injury or illness from legally doing so, once again reducing supply. Doctors are overburdened with paperwork and the FDA has played havoc with drug research and supplies. Why has healthcare become a crises only over the last few decades? Because the federal government has taken over more and more of the system. As the government’s control over health care has solidified, there has been a correlated increase in costs. If the government were to get out of healthcare, things would be much less expensive and most people, even the not so well off, could once again afford decent healthcare.
 
Written By: Marc
URL: http://
[How would you end insurance unless you used government force to do so? Seems it’s market driven and a viable product which helps people act responsibly.]

It’s not a suggestion to be taken literally. It’s a demonstration of the inherent tension between the concept of insurance and the concept of personal accountability. Insurance isn’t in any way about "helping people act responsibly". If anything, it’s exists to allow people to act irresponsibly, from the perspective of their own natural self-interest, for the good of society. It’s a socialist outcome through market mechanisms. On a personal level, I hate having to get insurance. You’d think I’d be a good sell for this argument, huh? But on a societal level, insurance - theoeretical insurance - is a net societal benefit. It’s a lot harder to make that case in the real world today.

You don’t answer the argument because you’re not prepared to.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Spoken like a true Libertarian, figures. I will slow down for you, Libertarians should stop saying they support MSAs, geesh.

President Bush promised tax free MSAs for all Americans. W delivered in the Medicare Rx Bill when he changed the name to Health Savings Accounts or tax free HSAs. So the tax free HSA is the law of the land and can’t be stopped.

President Bush said, "HSAs have tax free deposits, growth and withdrawals." So basically, we are talking about the Mother of all tax dodges. President Bush said, "Become empowered with a tax free HSA."

I’m a Swann Republican myself. Lynn Swann will be the next Governor of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania when he defeats America’s most powerful Democratic Governor, Ed Rendell.

Remember, the best tax cut is no taxes and it’s TIME for your HSA.

Check out "SwannSolution 100" if you need a clue or visit www.Swannblog.com

Stop Socialists / Vote Swann / Steadfast leadership in a TIME of change.
 
Written By: Ronald Greiner
URL: http://www.swannblog.com
You don’t answer the argument because you’re not prepared to.
Really?

Huh ... and I thought I didn’t answer it because its silly.
Insurance isn’t in any way about "helping people act responsibly". If anything, it’s exists to allow people to act irresponsibly, from the perspective of their own natural self-interest, for the good of society. It’s a socialist outcome through market mechanisms.
See what I mean?

But hey, apparently you know me better than I do.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Huh ... and I thought I didn’t answer it because its silly.

Let me use a finer grain here. I’m sure you think it’s silly. You’re certainly prepared to counterargue on the basis of "this is (pejorative). Not worth my consideration."

But until I hear you specifically dispute, ideally with evidentiary examples, or at least logical cause-and-effect, what I was saying, I have to interpret this as you having failed to genuinely consider the argument. I think "it’s silly" is an admission to "I’m not seriously looking at this."

Seems it’s market driven and a viable product which helps people act responsibly.]

Here’s the sentence fragment where you took a step in towards logically basing your statement.

But is it accurate? How does insurance help people "act responsibly?". How does it not, oh, subsidize irresponsible individual behavior for the benefit of the larger societal whole? Insurance subsidizes behavior whose risks would otherwise lead the behavior to be a bad idea and scarce. If you translated "whose risks would otherwise lead the behavior to be a bad idea and scarce" into a word, it would be "irresponsible".

Sorry to be shrill, but I do indeed think you’re not thinking any further than "it’s a market mechanism, therefore anything that I believe to be true about market mechansims is true here." There’s a lack of consideration.

Of course,
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
But is it accurate? How does insurance help people "act responsibly?". How does it not, oh, subsidize irresponsible individual behavior for the benefit of the larger societal whole?
Depends on the sort of insurance you’re talking about.

Auto? Go out, get drunk, wreck your car.

Good luck getting paid for that.

Housing? Play with matches and flammable liquids in your basement. Burn your house down.

Good luck getting paid for that.

Irresponsibility is not rewarded by having insurance.

Health insurance is the only insurance instrument in which your tenet even has a ghost of a credible argument?
Insurance subsidizes behavior whose risks would otherwise lead the behavior to be a bad idea and scarce.
Not really. See above. Nothing says insurance has to pay. In fact, that’s not true. Page after page after page of your policy stipulate when insurance doesn’t have to pay.

I’m not sure what type insurance you have, but if it "subsidizes behavior whose risks would otherwise lead", in its absence, to someone considering their choice to be a bad or unwise, I’d love to read the that puppy. I’ve never had a policy like that.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Not really. See above. Nothing says insurance has to pay. In fact, that’s not true. Page after page after page of your policy stipulate when insurance doesn’t have to pay.

This is true. I’d in fact suggest that it is a *reaction* to the basic nature of insurance, in fact, subsidizing irresponsible behavior. 100-page Policy statements like that are designed to limit or minimize the most obviously smoking-gun irresponsible behavior, but they’re a solution that is not just imperfect, but not much more than cosmetic. This same original solution to to some of the problem of insurance is also consistently gamed, by everyone, consumers and producers on all sides. The consumers get arrested for fraud a lot less often then the companies get in trouble for fig-leaf and all-but-random coverage denials, but the point is that the system is a mess. As bad as the tax code - and if you don’t believe me, look at a poll on the relative popularity of the two.

But to get back to the main point - irresponsible behavior is not always as obvious as setting your house on fire. It may be something as mundanely irresponsible as voluntarily living in a very flood-prone area. It may be something like, a general indifference to keeping your house up to safety regulations. Even if your insurance company demands that you obey them, will they be able to prove you didn’t, and do you *believe* that they’ll be able to prove it. Mostly not. Mostly you think you can game them, and they think that they can game you. If there was no insurance, you’d still find the occasional lazy slob, but you’d also see much less willingness to flaunt certain types of risks.

Almost everyone I know, for example, has made decisions about their checked baggage based on the presence of baggage insurance. If not for the insurance, the risk to their possessions would in many cases be too great for them to bring the possessions at all. Sans insurance, it would be economically irresponsible to bring their laptop on an airplane.

Insurance subsidizes behavior that would otherwise be irresponsible for the common good of society. Market means, liberal ends. Coincidentally, it also subsidizes a greater degree of individual freedom.

On the other hand, all of that is for a theoretical insurance system, and it all depends on risk being pooled. Individualizing insurance will increase profiling by insurance companies drastically, cause vast upticks in pricing differential make vast swathes of the population unaffordable to insure, and weaken the entire system by tossing out the societal benefits I described. And since everyone who gets old is a net loss to insurance companies, we will all go down the same tubes together.

Which is, in a nutshell, why PSA’s can’t, won’t, and don’t spark the interest of anyone except young Republicans who think they’re invincible, or people rich enough to literally not care about medical costs.

And libertarians.
And people who don’t understand the above - but most people get some of this purely on gut.

On the other hand, I understand the point you have now made, though I disagree, and I appreciate the logical engagement. Kudos.


 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
The consumers get arrested for fraud a lot less often then the companies get in trouble for fig-leaf and all-but-random coverage denials,

I meant a lot more.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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