Thursday, July 27, 2006

Open Letter to Democrats

Please, please please go antiwar this next election cycle. I want to vote Democratic this next election, I really do. But if you guys go and do ANOTHER election with cantidates who say "I'm just like a Republican, only better!" I'm really not sure what's going to happen to this country.

Lets take a long hard look at what voting more Republicans into office would say. With the exception of those few principled Republicans that have consistantly opposed the Bush Administration (Ron Paul, for example), most Republicans can be seen as basically a symbol of the current administration. Mr. Bush is in the process of redefining the executive branch into the position of Emperor of the World (provided it has the military means to do so). Now, I admit, the President has long had the power to do basically whatever he wants so long as he does it outside the United States themselves. This guy is formalizing it, and beginning to extend the Imperium into the home territory.

Very simply put, Caesar has crossed the Rubicon, and I cannot support any opponent who does not have as his or her goal the act of repulsing his forces, without installing just another imperial puppet. I think it can still be done electorially, but I think that window may be closing. And I think the act that will shut that window faster than anything else is another four years of Republican majority, unless said Republican majority is VERY different from the current one. And by different, I mean "willing to open Impeachment proceedings," and "Willing to actually enact the "fiscal conservatism" so many of them campaigned upon, then abandoned. Different names would help, too; fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. (Not that I voted Republican...)

So, PLEASE, Democrats, unless there is a miracle over at the Libertarian Party (and there's already been one), you guys are the only ones that can save us now (outside the LORD God Himself). Focus on anti-war and constitutionalism (whatever your horrendously shoddy record on that second issue). Stay away from abortion, stem-cells, gay rights, race-baiting, and so on. I don't even care if you actually mean it or not. Simply let it be writen upon the media records of campaigns and elections that THAT is what we voted for, and the fear-mongering imperialsm of the Republicans is what we voted against. Congress has abdicated its authority; the Supreme Court is packed with imperial supporters. Give the voters one last chance...

Please. Please.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Drug Errors and Government Medicine

I remember learning a fable in school. I don't remember whether I learned it in grade school, middle school, or high school, but by the time I was an adult, I knew this fable well. The fable went as so.

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as Medicine, or at least, not Scientific Medicine. Most people relied upon ancient superstitions, con-men, and such, for their medical treatment. Particularly scurrilious were the "snake-oil salesmen," people who would bottle esoteric substances and sell them as "miracle cures" to unsuspecting rubes. Many were injured by such villians, and the people cried out for something to be done.

Then the government created the FDA, licencing boards, etc. and everybody lived happily ever after.

So, how has the government been doing improving out medical system? Well, check this out. I can't help but wonder: is medicine in any better a state now than it was before the government got involved in medicine?

The hilarious thing about all this is that the answers to the questions are RIGHT THERE IN THE ARTICLE. For example
_The nation should invest about $100 million annually on research into drug errors and how to prevent them. Among the most-needed studies is the impact of free drug samples, which often lack proper labeling, on medication safety.
and the answer to the question...

Worse, there's too little incentive for health providers to invest in technology that could prevent some errors today, added Dr. J. Lyle Bootman, the University of Arizona's pharmacy dean, who co-chaired the IOM probe.

"We're paid whether these errors occur or not," lamented Bootman
Now, I'm not an expert, but I'd be willing to bet that under a system of medical freedom (ie. no governmen restrictions and no government funding), they WOULDN'T get paid whether the errors occured or not. Indeed, medical institutions all over the country would have a massive incentive to not make mistakes: those that did make mistakes would be fired for incompetance, and systemic problems would be fixed, or would be eliminated from the market.

How about this:

The government should speed electronic prescribing, including fostering technology improvements so that the myriad computer programs used by doctors, hospitals and drugstores are compatible.

Now, how exactly does a government do that? There's really only one power government can actually bring to bear: say, "start using electronic prescribing or else," and shut down those that don't, or can't comply. This is the main power of government.

So, have you ever heard of the law of supply and demand? Have you ever wondered why medical expenses are so high? Is it worth the money?

Personally, I don't really think so.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Non-Agression Principle: Absolute Propety Rights

I was just reading this blog over here, and I came myself thinking, once again, about the notion that we can have a civil society without any party having the right to sieze the property of another party or individual--including the government. What that means is: no taxes--none at all. There is no "public" support for things like police and military, among other things. It's straight-up anarchy, which is the way many "Libertarian Purists" like it. The market would solve all problems.

Thieves and murderers would, of course, continue to exist. What is one's recourse to coersion in such a socity? In our current one, you can call the police. If they're coming in large groups from across the border, the military is the preferred instrument. Under anarchy, the only recourse is private action: either keep up a subscription to a private security force, or get together with your fellows and take matters into your own hands... assuming you have any left (hands, or friends).

Personally, I don't think it would work. I have been working on a blog in which I attempt to demonstrate this concept, but I think that The State is an inevitability. Very simply put, it would be cheaper to pay off a group that, in echange for payment, would both protect you from thieves and murderers, and also not be such toward you (Mafia style), rather than pay a group that has to protect you from BOTH the thieves and murderers and the Mafia at the same time. The most economically advantageous system would be the one you are required to participate in--or else. In addition, this industry benefits considerably from economies of scale. Thus, were we to abolish all government today, we'd only be hitting the "reset" button. The State would regrow, as The State is embedded into the intersection of economic law and the law of force.

So Anarchism, particularly "Anarcho-Capitalism", can't really work. It's a nice idea, and people love to dream of it, but its impossible, isn't it?

Not really. I think it is entirely possible to have a social system in which propety is absolute, and in which there exists a guarantor of rights big enough to be effective, and accountable enough not to become the chief violator. Furthermore, we don't have to make any exceptions to the rules for the governing entity: it would not have the right to violate property rights AT ALL, and yet, it would have sufficient funding. All you need, is to accept two ideas:

  1. The right to property is absolute. No party has the right to violate the property of any other (not even the government).
  2. The Land is absolutely the property of the Community, and not of individuals.

Note that when I say "The Land," I am not referring to the structures built upon the land, the crops grown in carefully prepared fields, the produce of enormous investment in wells and mines, or any other form of capital improvement. These, the results of the labors of men, shall remain securely in the posession of the individuals who build them. The farmer that ploughs and sows shall reap. The miner that digs shall sell his produce. The financier who brings together enormous sums of capital to accomplish great improvements shall reap the proper rewards. The improvements will be secured for the use of those who create the improvements. However, the actual square-feet of dirt would remain, in principle, the property of the community at large.

The problem with treating Land as the absolute property of "The Community" is one of execution. The most obvious way to go about it is simply to declare that the whole Earth is now the property of a newly chartered corporation, with each and every human being equal shareholders. This corporation would rent the land out to those who are willing to pay for the right to exclude others from the use of land. This idea is nice and simple in concept, but likely hideously bureaucratic an corruptable in execution. In addition, it feels like theft, the siezing of property that previously belonged to private individuals. While many of these individuals are the lucky heirs of those who acquired and held land while it was still cheap, there are others who, in their lifetime, have sacrificed much to acquire the lot upon which they live, or where they do business.

I have written before about a way to establish such a coropration without even appearing to be stealing a thing. However, that solution has the problem, once again, of potentially being excessively bureaucratic and corruptable, particularly as it grows in size. I believe a far better solution is presented by Henry George in his book Progress and Poverty, which I am currently reading.

I would just jump to the chase on how it is done, but I think it is necessary to read what George has to say on the subject before his solution to the problem of the poverty that inevitably accompanies economic progress (the increasing divide between rich and poor, and the undeniable fact that the poorest among aboriginal peoples live far better than the poorest among our own.). Perhaps at a later date, I'll do a sort of "cliffs notes" for Progress and Poverty, for those who lack the ability to slog through the admittedly very wordy, perhaps unnecessarily wordy, writing style of Henry George. (Then again, perhaps I suffer the same deficiency.)

EDIT: Were to read but one chapter from Progress and Poverty, read this one.