Monday, March 29, 2010

Goodbye, Mr. Jefferson

By Sam J. Smeaton

"When we interpret the Constitution, let us go back and look at the spirit in which the clause was drafted, so that we may truly interpret correctly." -Thomas Jefferson

There is no argument of any merit whatsoever that the founders would have supported this Healthcare legislation. For any person in this country (much less an elected official, Pelosi!!!) to suggest that the founders envisioned a country where the federal government forces (by law!) private businesses and citizens to do what it says, or buy what it demands you buy, has no understanding of history and no respect for the principles of liberty.

Health Care is not a right, Madame Speaker. To say so suggests that, as individuals, we have the right to other people’s lives and property. This is not true, and is downright reprehensible. It is not a right. Period.

On this night I fear for my country. Not some abstract, over dramatic, Olbermannesque fear, but a legitimate concern for the greatest nation on earth. On this night we have passed into law the idea that we all have the right to one another's money and property. If there was even a thread connecting us to the political philosophy of the American founding, it may have been cut tonight.

The road to hell is paved with good intention. I have no doubt that many supporters of this bill genuinely want all people to be healthy. But they are fools, naive in historical and moral understanding if they think that more government will fix our problems. Government killed the markets. It killed Medicare and Medicaid. It killed true economic recovery. It sends our troops to die in needless military interventionism. Government kills things. It retards growth and it hampers market forces. History has shown this, time and again. Yet despite all this, supporters of this Health legislation insist on granting government the power to slam more mandates, more regulations, and more taxes on our country. Problems caused by a lack of market forces cannot be solved by interventionism. 80 years ago, the greatest Austrian economist of all, the brilliant Ludwig Von Mises himself, tried to warn us that government interventions are an endless circle because each intervention causes more problems, which will attempt to be solved by future interventions, which will cause more problems, etc. This has turned out to be totally true in the last century in America (The New Deal, Military meddling in the Middle east, government mandates on health and insurance and housing, need I go on?).

I believe the solution to the Health crisis is fundamental change, more competition, less regulation, and more individual freedom. At the bottom of this note I will supply a link to some great writings on free market solutions from the Austrian Economic thinkers. But the focus of this note lends itself to the over-arching philosophy behind tonight's bill.

Are we so far away from the Constitution that it is totally null and void? Article One Section 8?! Remember that? It is immoral for governments to mandate healthcare. It is an assault on your liberty. It is an assault on American political Philosophy, and it is an assault on the founders. This country has maintained its greatness because of the Jeffersonian ideals of religious freedom, free expression, states rights, less taxes, and weak government. America is made great by her people, not her government.

But we are losing that. Indeed, tonight, we may be bidding Jefferson and his ideas, farewell. For tonight, government expands to its fattest form yet, and thus drives another nail into the coffin of the ideals of liberty. If you're not outraged, there are only a few options.

1-You are ignorant of the contents of the bill.

2-You don't understand our economic and political history.

3-You have an immoral political philosophy, because you believe Health Care is a right.

Regardless of which it is, you are bidding farewell to American liberty.

Goodbye, Mr. Jefferson. We shall miss you more than you know.


suntzusays said...

To nitpick, both Medicare and Medicaid were government programs anyway. Hence, what they actually killed by using government was not M&M but was the moral hazard problem that was being previously addressed through costs borne by working class people who had sickly parents or charitable uses of medicine and hospitals rather than government imposed solutions to the problems of poverty and advancing age.

Also, while I disagree strongly with the philosophy which declares health care as some formal legal right (which still hasn't been guaranteed by this bill, which addressed mostly health insurance not medical ethics and business practices), I would not go so far as to call it an immoral political philosophy. I disagree with people routinely about ethical positions, as people familiar with my writings will undoubtedly note but I am inclined to allow them their errors rather than to condemn them as having made some egregious sin. The premise of this as some fundamental sin is wholly based on the notion that taxation is theft, and therefore immoral, and that providing health care through those taxes is therefore a further immoral basis. This may be an accurate reflection for a culture composed of individuals and individual property, but we have collective properties in the form of governments which are practically necessitated by the nature of human beings as social animals and the formation of large cities and concentrations of a widely diverse population trying to coexist. I have a hard time accepting the proposition that taxation is theft as a result since it is intended to provide us with some tangible social benefits. The fact that it then does not always provide these benefits or that it is often more resembling mob extortion rackets than legitimate and popular uses of collective responses to problems is not really a convincing and popular moral argument against taxation and the existence of the state per se so much as a proof that the state's powers should be limited where possible so that it is disinclined to abuse them. That the state should be small is an effective moral and political argument most people are willing to tolerate, at least in theory. That the state should not exist is one most people have trouble with. As a libertarian and thus a political outcast in our system, you take what you can get.

In the case of this bill, then the obvious response is to either seek to kill it through legal methods and reform (unlikely to work, cases of outrage not withstanding. Indignation will not overturn popular votes by itself) or seek to limit its effects by doing things which are considered non-compliant by officials, such as not buying insurance, if it is rational not to do so anyway which is true of the many younger working people who were previously uninsured or had forms of insurance which may no longer exist or comply with the new legal requirements and just paying the penalty, or not paying that either,(more likely), along with pointing out where the bill fails to conform to their stated expectations (reducing costs or deficits for example).

Teresa said...

IMO, Sam is saying that Jefferson would never have approved of The NEW Deal as well as other programs that have led up to the perceived need of the Health care law when in fact, in reality these government programs were the cause of many problems and the precipitated the perceived need for the new health care law.

Taxation is not theft as long as it is not usurped upon you. It is our choice whether we want to buy a house and incur the taxation for that benefit. But, this government has usurped this law (health care bill) and forced citizens to pay for others' benefits in which the individual paying is not reaping any of those benefits. That is forced charity. That is a violation of the citizens' liberty and freedom to choose which charitable organization or person that he/she may want to donate money to.

Liberty said...

Sun Tzu- have you ever read The Law by Fredric Bastiat? I think that Bastiat does an incredible job explaining how unwarranted/over-the-top taxation is little more than plunder. Quite interesting.

But anyway- I understand the need for government, and I also understand the further need for some sort of taxation. We do need armies, we do need infrastructure, etc., but I don't see why my taxes should be used to guarantee someone a perceived right such as healthcare.

I'm really not all that familiar with the healthcare bill itself. However, Sam's note seemed quite interesting, so I thought I'd pass it on. ;) I do plan to read the actual bill though- once I get this essay on the PATRIOT act written. ^.^

I am definitely not an anarchist. I like having laws and a law enforcement network that can keep me safe from people who would otherwise do bad things and infringe on my rights. However, I think that often, the government takes advantage of the leeway we give them, sadly.

I can definitely see a lot of people just continuing to not buy insurance. Health insurance is expensive! And it's always possible (likely) that the penalties for not buying insurance will be significantly lower than the actual price of the insurance.

Not sure what you're trying to say in the first part...?

I'd suggest you also read The Law by Fredric Bastiat. Incredible book, and quite enlightening about things like taxation, etc. :)

Teresa said...

I will try and make my statement clearer to understand. Sometimes my physical pain takes over the brain when trying to convey a thought.

Do you think Jefferson would have approved of the New Deal?

Do you think the New Deal and other Governmental social programs caused the perception that there is a need for government run health care?

Without the New Deal I doubt that we would have needed all the other social programs that came along afterward-including this health care law. I don't think we need the totality of this health care law. The system needs tweaks but not more government intervention.

I will defintely check out the book :)

suntzusays said...

Bastiat is well known in economics. The "broken window fallacy" he describes comes up all the time. I'm not in lock step with the Mises/Bastiat/Austrian folks, but I read them from time to time. They serve a dual political purpose by making more pragmatic libertarians look reasonable by comparison but also to keep them pointed in the same relative anarchistic goals.

I did not quite say that I think taxation isn't theft. Mostly I said that most people seem to think government is necessary and proper and therefore taxes levied upon them are appropriate in order to provide for that government. We then use agreed upon methods to determine how they are appropriate and on what, which usually makes them harder to argue against. You're not going to win arguments with most people by saying they don't need a state at all and therefore no taxes at all, but you will win some by saying that state doesn't need to do xyz in addition to abc and therefore doesn't need to tax as much or to tax certain things (or behaviors). For my money, taxation is theft, but it's usually on the moral level of someone stealing food to survive, at least so long as the taxes are levied through a democratic process and not through more arbitrary and invasive methods (like civil forfeiture instead of the income tax). The better argument, more effective anyway, is made on what those taxes are spent, and usually wasted, on first and then one can start to attack the moral basis of taxation itself.

The penalties are much lower than the cost of insurance. They max out at ~$700, there's no delay if you suddenly get very sick and need to buy insurance (meaning the moral hazard problem is still there) AND it appears there's not going to be much of an enforcement method through the IRS on collecting these penalties anyway. So yeah, that sounds better and better.

Liberty said...

Teresa- I think Jefferson would have been against the New Deal, as it was a Socialist-type program, completely against the free-market principles America was founded on.

Of course, the New Deal was not the first Socialistic endeavor to slap America in the face- that happened in 1913 too, with the Federal Reserve act (creating a centralized bank that doesn't even belong to America), and multiple other blows all throughout the period preceding that.

Sun Tzu- Thanks for explaining. I see where you're coming from, and it makes sense. :)

I'll probably be among the camp of "I'm cheap so I'm just going to skip out on insurance and pay the dumb penalties..." but don't tell the IRS. :P