BLOGS - Page 6 of 31 - The Advocates for Self-Government

Home » BLOGS

Increasing Costs Tied to Obamacare Make Healthcare Ministries More Appealing Than Insurance Providers

in Economic Liberty, Healthcare, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Comments are off

Increasing Costs Tied to Obamacare Make Healthcare Ministries More Appealing Than Insurance Providers

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

As the country is distracted by the presidential election, issues that aren’t getting as much air time as Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton become a side show.

With reports concerning the ineffectiveness of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, hitting the news but being ignored by major news channels, crusaders take it to the Internet to discredit Obamacare critics. As new reports argue that Americans are fed up, smaller publications seek to downplay some of the fears brought up by conservatives and libertarians all along. When faced with evidence that shows ACA is making healthcare less affordable, will these pro-Obamacare crusaders back down?

Health Care

Exactly two days before Christmas, the New York Magazine ran an article tailored to take conservative-leaning Americans to task. The subject? One of the left’s most adored achievements (and one of the right’s biggest, and most disputed, creations): Obamacare.

According to Jonathan Chait, the author, the NY Mag piece was conceived in order to debunk arguments presented by Ross Douthat, who wrote a column on Obamacare for New York Times earlier that same week.

While the piece discusses the number of covered Americans before and after the enactment of Obamacare and other points made by Douthat, it’s when Chait focuses on the cost of healthcare before and after the enactment of ACA that things get interesting.

In the NY Mag piece, Chait introduces a seemingly detailed blueprint of how ACA has bent the overall healthcare cost to the average consumer. Yet he ignores actual evidence proving that no, Obamacare hasn’t helped to keep the cost of healthcare low. As a matter of fact, the constant meddling with the insurance business and the healthcare industry in the past has done nothing but to increase the overall cost of health care. Now, those who lost their previous plans and who are unable to sign up for insurance after Obamacare went into full force are being cornered. As a result, they are choosing to pay the IRS fee instead of getting coverage.

Even those who supported President Barack Obama’s signature law are getting desperate.

But as a number of consumers lose their hope, a report recently published by the Wall Street Journal shows that things might have just gotten worse.

According to the WSJ, the cost of health insurance is such a heavy burden for those who lost their insurance plans after ACA became the law of the land that many consumers are now turning to healthcare ministries to cover their medical expenses.

That’s right. Health insurance costs are so out of control that consumers are turning to ministries, which operate outside the insurance system, in order to get access to the health care they need.

Instead of functioning as an insurance provider, these ministries provide health care cost-sharing arrangements to those who share the same religious beliefs.

Ministries now count with about 500,000 members nationwide thanks to ACA. Previous to the law, there were about 200,000 members enrolled in the system. But things could get crowded soon, making it hard for ministries to take in more members.

While ACA gives these ministries an exception to the law, only groups that have operated continuously since at least December 31, 1999 are eligible. Without the possibility of expanding the number of participating ministries, helping those in need could become too heavy of a burden.

When the exception was added to the law, it hoped to satisfy a relatively small number of groups that argued that nonparticipation was a matter of religious freedom. Now, ministries are being sought after as a matter of survival. And as ministries become crowded, insurance commissioners begin to complain, claiming these groups operating outside ACA are hurting consumers.

But with ministries costing about 30 percent less than private insurance, consumers who choose the more affordable path can’t be blamed for taking the easier way out.

Claiming to have the consumer’s best interest at heart, insurance commissioners from Kentucky, Washington, and Oklahoma have, in the past, decided to take action against ministries in their states. Thankfully, legislatures blocked the efforts. But as the cost of care continues to grow and the number of uninsured only shrinks because of the threat associated with non-compliance, other states may attempt to put an end to faith-based healthcare providers again, hurting thousands of consumers if they succeed.

In light of this report, will NY Mag’s Chait finally agree that Obamacare is making healthcare less affordable? Probably not. Nevertheless, ministries may have to fight yet another battle to stay open if membership growth remains steady.

The Philosophy of Liberty

in Conversations With My Boys, Liberator Online by Comments are off

The Philosophy of Liberty

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Me: What can you tell me about the philosophy of liberty?
BA (10): You own your life. Other people own their lives.
Me: Does any other person have a higher claim on your life than you do?
BA: No.
Philosophy of Liberty Me: What do we call it when we say someone has a higher claim on your life than you have?
BA: Slavery.
Me: You exist in time, right?
BA: Yeah. Past, present, and future.
Me: What do we call it when someone steals your future?
BA: Murder.
Me: And when someone steals your property what are they stealing?
BA: That’s called theft. They’re stealing the time you spent in the past to get that thing.
Me: And when someone comes and enslaves you or uses force to get you to do what they want you to do?
BA: They’re stealing your present.
Me: Why not your past?
BA: Because you weren’t enslaved in the past.
Me: And why not the future?
BA: Because it hasn’t been determined yet.
Me: Property is pretty important.
BA: It’s something you spent your past acquiring. It’s like bees. They spend their time gathering stuff and making honey and that honey is like time made real. That’s their property and they will protect it.
Me: So you’re allowed to protect your justly acquired property.
BA: Yes. You can ask other people help you protect your property, too.
Me: When you’re protecting your property are you allowed to hurt people?
BA: Yes. But you aren’t going to hurt someone over a penny.
Me: We call that proportionality. Can you hurt innocent bystanders as you try to get your property back?
BA: No. You can not hurt innocent people. They’re allowed to come after you if you hurt them even if you hurt them in pursuit of justice.
Me: If you hurt them and they’re innocent then you have to make them whole?
BA: Yes.
Me: Give me an example.
BA: If you’re running after the guy who stole your TV set and you knock me down and break my arm, you have to pay my medical expenses because you have hurt me.
Me: But I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just wanted my TV back and you were in the way.
BA: It doesn’t matter. You break it, you buy it. It doesn’t matter what you were doing.
Me: So if they guy who stole my TV came through your house and I wrecked your house trying to get back my TV what would I have to do?
BA: Make me whole.

 

NSA Spied on Israel to Counter Criticism of Iran Deal, Communications with U.S. Lawmakers Intercepted

in Foreign Policy, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Comments are off

NSA Spied on Israel to Counter Criticism of Iran Deal, Communications with U.S. Lawmakers Intercepted

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The National Security Agency is bracing for another heavy round of criticism. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the controversial intelligence agency spied on Israeli leaders while the United States was ironing out a nuclear agreement with Iran. But the spying apparatus also captured communications between Israeli and members of Congress.

NSA

President Barack Obama and the NSA have already come under fire for spying on leaders of countries that are allied with the United States, such as Brazil, Germany, and Mexico. The White House was reportedly unaware of the NSA’s activities, which came to light in the summer of 2013.

President Obama, in early 2014, pledged to stop snooping on the United States’ allies. “The leaders of our close friends and allies deserve to know that if I want to learn what they think about an issue,” he said, “I will pick up the phone and call them, rather than turning to surveillance.” The only exceptions to the prohibition were countries that served a national security interest. Among them was Israel.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the NSA has continued to spy on Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a fierce critic of the nuclear agreement that the United States worked out with Iran. Netanyahu brought his concerns against the deal to Washington in March during a speech to a joint session of Congress.

The intelligence received by the NSA, according to the report, was used to “counter” Netanyahu’s criticism of the agreement with Iran. Inadvertently or not, the NSA “also swept up the contents of some of [Israel leaders’] private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

The intercepts revealed that Israel was coordinating with U.S.-based groups to criticize the Iran deal. “The NSA reports allowed administration officials to peer inside Israeli efforts to turn Congress against the deal. [Israeli Ambassador Ron] Dermer was described as coaching unnamed U.S. organizations—which officials could tell from the context were Jewish-American groups—on lines of argument to use with lawmakers, and Israeli officials were reported pressing lawmakers to oppose the deal,” the report explained.

It’s unclear which lawmakers’ communications were intercepted by the NSA. But the report could reignite the already fiery debate in the halls of Congress and on the campaign trail over the intelligence agency’s snooping, as well as renewed criticism of the Iran deal and the Obama administration’s already stressed relationship Israel and Netanyahu.

Use “Venture Buyers” to Show the Hidden Dangers of Government Spending

in Liberator Online, Monetary Policy, One Minute Liberty Tip, Taxes by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Use “Venture Buyers” to Show the Hidden Dangers of Government Spending

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

You’re probably familiar with venture capitalists. But what about “venture buyers”?

I encountered that term this week in an excellent short article entitled “Federal Spending: Now for the Really Bad News” by Forbes Political Economy Editor John Tamny.

“Venture buyers” is a nifty phrase and concept that can be very helpful when you’re trying to persuade skeptics that government spending has terrible consequences.

Traian_vuia_flying_machine

In his article Tamny points out that government spending is not just ridiculously wasteful, bad as that is. It also deprives the people who earned that money of the ability to spend it themselves, on the things they consider most important. And this not only deprives them, it harms the rest of us — in unexpected ways.
One of those ways is that “venture buyers” don’t get to spend their money on new, innovative, risky, expensive and important items.
What are “venture buyers?”

“We sometimes hear them described as ‘first adopters,” Tamny explains. “These are the people with the means to experiment on what is new, frequently expensive, and possibly even life-threatening. Their buying habits tell businesses what consumers want, how they want it, and [by] doing that signal to entrepreneurs where the profits will be if they can turn what is frequently a rare luxury into a common good. But with government so aggressively spending the resources we’ve created… there’s much less ‘easy money’ in our pockets that would reveal our preferences for what is [currently] expensive and largely unknown.”

Venture buyers, then, are the people who are the first to buy new, promising, risky and costly goods and services, try them out, and bring them to the attention of the rest of us. As we watch them using and playing with their new products and toys and benefiting from exciting new services, the rest of us start clamoring for them as well. And businesses are motivated to discover how to quickly lower prices so the rest of us can enjoy them, too.
Venture buyers thus play a huge role in bringing life-changing new products and services to
society.

Think of all the things we commonly use today that began life as expensive and/or startlingly different products only used by those on the bleeding edge. Cars were once crazily expensive and dangerous, as were airplanes. Portable phones were luxuries for the rich. Home computers, VHS players, fax machines, Uber, Airbnb… it’s an endless list.

And an important note: it’s not just fun and seemingly frivolous products that venture buyers popularize. Take health and medicine.

Writes Tamny:

” [C]onsider the health implications of our free spending government. … Thinking about cancer, how much experimentation has never taken place over the last 80 years thanks to government spending having greatly shrunk the total availability of resources necessary for it? Was a cure (or many cures) lost as politicians falsely promised growth through spending on the proverbial bridges, grants, and yes, medical studies to nowhere?”

The more government spends, the less venture buyers have to spend. And that means far less experimenting with new and innovative products and services — including critical and life-saving ones. And that in turn means businesses and entrepreneurs receive far less information about society’s greatest needs and desires — and the best ways to fulfill them.

Of course, we never see the inventions, the cures, the innovations, the services that don’t come into being. We don’t know what we are missing. But we can understand that we are far poorer because of it.

This is a powerful and persuasive indictment of government spending. (There are many others, of course.) I love the catchy, intriguing phrase “venture buyers” and how using it helps explain the little-understood but crucial role early adopters play in raising living standards for everyone.
Share it, and open minds to overlooked dangers of massive government spending.

16 Liberty Action Items for ’16

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

16 Liberty Action Items for ’16

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

“What can I do to help?”

This is LITERALLY my favorite question to be asked, because I can always share SOMETHING that can be done. There’s certainly something for everyone.

Here, I’ve compiled a list of 16 action-oriented items for you to share with your liberty-minded friends:

  1. Liberty in 2016Seek out a group of like-minded people in your area. America’s Future Foundation, The Bastiat Society, and Liberty on the Rocks are all easy ways to network with liberty-minded people, though any civic organization will be helpful.
  2. Seek out a group with whom you frequently disagree. I’m not suggesting that you crash their events, rather I suggest you go to listen to a different perspective.
  3. Identify a candidate for office that you wholeheartedly support, and campaign for him/her.
  4. Run for an elected office where you could serve with passion. A passion for liberty and a passion for the duties of the office will make your service fulfilling.
  5. Affiliate with a local group of organized, engaged, civics-minded citizens.
  6. Pick one issue to speak, write, or advocate for effectively.
  7. Write a monthly letter to the editor about the libertarian perspective on the topic du jour.
  8. Embrace a “disruptive” technology or innovation. 3-D printing, Uber, Bitcoin, AirBNB all come to mind.
  9. Adopt a new “favorite” columnist. In the age of the Internet, it should be easy to find a new writer that you enjoy reading.
  10. When discussing libertarian thought and philosophy, focus on what Liberty offers, rather than focusing on your desire for it. “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
  11. Pick a charity to support with your time, talent, or treasure.
  12. Donate to candidates and organizations that you support.
  13. Choose an issue to wave signs, go to a rally, or volunteer to spread the word about.
  14. Find one thing that you can do that will make a positive, lasting difference in the life of one person. It’s easier than you think.
  15. Be nice to everyone, no matter how they treat you.
  16. Do all of the above, and be a shining example of libertarians everywhere.

I look forward to seeing the change you create in 2016!

Multiple Threats Made Against US School Systems Following San Bernardino Shootings

in Education, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Comments are off

Multiple Threats Made Against US School Systems Following San Bernardino Shootings

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

In the weeks following the shootings in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people, multiple threats have been made against school systems in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Miami and Indiana.

Members of the Los Angeles Board of Education received a crudely written email that prompted officials to close all 900 schools in the nation’s second-largest school system Tuesday. School officials for the New York City school systems and local law enforcement dismissed an identical threat as a hoax.

On Thursday, school officials in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Houston and Dallas said they received threats similar to the ones received by the Los Angeles and New York school districts earlier this week.

School

Two schools in Indiana canceled classes after also getting threats. The Danville Community School Corporation said two students were arrested after allegedly making threats against schools in separate incidents.

The Miami-Dade County, Dallas and Houston school districts announced on their websites that “less-than-credible” threats were received by email late Wednesday evening, and that schools would be open Thursday. Officials from Broward County Public Schools in Fort Lauderdale said they also received a threat.

The districts are among the nation’s largest — Miami ranks fourth, Broward is sixth, Houston is seventh and Dallas is 14th.

In Dallas, officials with the Dallas Independent School District said some teachers and staff members at two schools — Pinkston High and Martinez Elementary — received threats via email and notified district officials. The district’s police department activated its emergency response protocol and began working with other law enforcement agencies to make sure the schools were safe.

“We need to make sure that we don’t overreact to fear,” Dallas police Chief David Brown said. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings agreed, adding, “Obviously someone is trying to scare Dallas and that is not going to work.”

Robert Mock, police chief for the Houston Independent School District, said random overnight searches by explosives detecting dogs and patrol officers turned up nothing after district officials, including the superintendent, received the threat by email.

So far Thursday morning, “everything’s been normal, schools are in session, kids are learning,” Mock said.

He added that he doesn’t want to downplay the message because “a threat is a threat.” But he said the message referred to weapons and explosives among unsophisticated content that was “so far over the top the logistics just didn’t pan out.”

Details about the threats in Miami and Fort Lauderdale haven’t been released yet, but said on their websites they were similar to those received in New York and Los Angeles earlier in the week.

It’s unfortunate that some of the largest school systems in the U.S. let fear win – and dictate action. Instead of having the foresight to recognize hoaxes coming from some of these schools’ own students, the “better safe than sorry” mentality only succeeded in distracting students from what is really important – their education.

From the Missile Crisis to Air Travel

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

From the Missile Crisis to Air Travel

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Our relationship with one of our closest neighbors continues to thaw after more than 50 years of tense relations, as both the United States and Cuba reached an agreement to allow commercial air travel to commence between the two nations. We are one step closer to ending the embargo and restoring a relationship that many thought would return upon the collapse of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago.

I love it!  I’ve long been a fan of the food, music, and culture of the Caribbean, especially that which has made its way from Cuba.

Not only will Americans soon be able to travel to the island nation ninety miles off the coast of Florida openly and often, Cubans will soon be able to enjoy many of the niceties they’ve missed over the last fifty-four years.

When it comes to freedom, this may be one of the best ways to share it. When we’re disconnected from a nation, but more importantly its people, we become a piece of propaganda over which we have no influence. After fifty-four years of a Castro-controlled narrative, we have a opportunity to share what it means to be free. Our goods, our music, and our people will serve as ambassadors to a regime that seems to be content living in an era frozen in time.

CubaThe introduction of commerce with the United States offers a glimpse at the advances made since 1961. Cars, computers, and culture all progressed during our absence from their lives. We can shape a vision of “Libertad” previously unfamiliar. Without a single bomb, boot on the ground, or posturing politician, we can liberate the hearts and minds of millions of people simply through the expressions available in our culture.

As “Western” goods made their way behind the Iron Curtain, we began to erode the messaging about America through commerce. The narrative about us didn’t hold up.

We can do that again. We SHOULD do that again.

We should ALWAYS be doing that, even within our own borders. If we forget what we’re told and believe what we experience with and about one another, we can build a future that does not rely on Big Government. We can build one that only relies on the freedom to choose our best path and the personal responsibility that goes along with that freedom.

¡Viva la Libertad!

 

Santa?

in Conversations With My Boys, Liberator Online by Comments are off

Santa?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Me: Tell me about Santa.
santaBA (10): People say he’s a fat guy who likes milk and cookies, defies physics and flies around on a sled with flying reindeer, goes around the world delivering presents to everyone in one day. But what he really is, is the guy who gives stuff in secret which I can believe a lot easier.
Me: What do you mean?
BA: Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas gave in secret. Like Santa Claus does.
Me: But Saint Nicholas is dead. How can he give children stuff?
BA: People do what he did. They say it’s Santa Claus giving when they give in secret. Santa is the name they use for secret giving. They’re doing what Saint Nicholas did. Giving in secret.
Me: Yeah that’s….
BA: But the Santa thing doesn’t make any sense. You can’t get around the world and deliver presents all in one night. People make stuff up to convince you it happens but it doesn’t make sense. He has a magical bag because the sled can’t hold all the presents for all the kids in the world. Flying reindeer? Goofball. People think he comes down your chimney. What if you don’t have a chimney? And what if you have a whole bunch of stuff in front of your fireplace. And if you have a chimney like ours, how is he going to get in?
Me: What are your thoughts on this?
BA: It’s like believing in superheroes or something from a movie. I just don’t believe in magic. I think things have a reason. There’s a reason behind everything. If you don’t know the reason something happened that doesn’t mean it’s magic. There’s never been magic. Everything that happens has a reason. You have to think. You have to figure out that reason. What it is that makes something happen.
Me: You sound annoyed by it.
BA: I’m annoyed that someone would make something up like that. Why? Tell the kid the truth. What about kids who believe that Santa is magic and ask for things like a house or food or to get better from something? Don’t make something up. There are reasons for things.
Me: Do you remember that April Fool’s video I showed you when you were little? The one with the flying penguins.
BA: No.
Me: You were aware that penguins couldn’t fly. We had told you that. But when you saw the video you were so excited. You really wanted for penguins to be able to fly so you were so excited. And I had to immediately tell you it was an April Fool’s video. You were so sad. Even though you knew they couldn’t fly the video looked real and for a second you really were excited because you wanted to believe it and then you were crushed. It was awful.
BA: Kids can be fooled. They’ll believe things they really want to believe. Sometimes I want to tell my friends that he’s not real. They just go on and on about it and it doesn’t make sense.
Me: I think you need to leave it alone if someone believes in Santa Claus.
BA: They just go on and on about it. It’s not true but they really want to believe it. There’s nothing you can do about kids who believe in Santa Claus anyway. They don’t want to know what’s true. You wonder what they’re going to believe in next. Pixies? You just have to go along with it.
Me: Throughout your life you’re going to meet people who willfully believe things that are clearly untrue and you’re just going to have to hold your tongue and know that it’s really important to them to believe this thing. Santa is practice for that.
BA: But even their parents will tell you, “Yeah, there’s no Santa but we still do Santa at our house.” There is no magic. There are reasons that things happen. You have to figure things out.

He went on for quite some time. Completely flummoxed that–even in the face of a great deal of evidence against Jolly Old Saint Nick and in favor of his name being used when someone wanted to give in secret–children would so willingly disregard reason and instead believe what pleased them.

“Safe Spaces” Used to Silence Political Speech

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Comments are off

“Safe Spaces” Used to Silence Political Speech

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

In the last year, dozens of protests on college campuses have called for everything from supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement to demanding that school administrators address racial microaggressions on campus. These protesters and students alike call for “safe spaces” on campuses so that they can have an open dialogue about these issues. But what they don’t realize is that these “safe spaces” are being used to silence political speech – especially speech that they don’t agree with.

Free Speech

For example, George Washington University police ordered a student to take down a Palestinian flag that was hanging from his dorm window because it was not “respectful of your peers,” according to an administrator.

Ramie Abounaja, a 20-year-old pre-med student, was visited by a GWU police officer in October. The officer claimed he had received “numerous complaints” about the flag and wouldn’t leave the room until it was removed. Abounaja complied, but later questioned whether he had actually violated any university policies.

According to Abounaja:

Then, on Tuesday, to my alarm, I received an email from the Graduate Fellow Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities stating that they “received a report from the GW University Police Department regarding [my] behavior” that I was “found to have had a flag out [my] window” and that the letter “serves as a warning that this behavior is a violation of the ‘Code of Student Conduct and/or the Residential Community Conduct Guidelines.’” The letter also warned me to be “respectful” of my “peers” that “my behavior had the potential to leave a profound impact on the community.” The letter (attached) did not provide any details as to which provision, article or rule I violated.

According to The Intercept’s Andrew Fishman, GWU has no policy barring flags on the inside of dorm rooms, but it does prohibit flags hanging outside of the dorms – even though numerous amounts of flags have been seen flying outside of GWU dorm windows.
It seems as if the police are only called to remove flags that have offended others. Certainly, Abounaja is a victim of viewpoint discrimination. This kind of censorship—censorship of pro-Palestinian speech—is common according to Fishman:

Campus free speech and so-called “political correctness censorship” have been vigorously debated over the last two decades. That topic received particularly intense attention from journalists and pundits this year in response to controversies at the University of Missouri, Yale and other campuses.

In the first half of 2015 alone, Palestine Legal, a U.S. civil rights advocacy organization, has reported 140 instances of suppression of Palestine advocacy, 80 percent of which has happened on college campuses.

A Jewish student at the University of Michigan was recently investigated by a student government ethics commission after Palestinian students took offense at him aggressively criticizing a pro-Palestinian display. According to The College Fix, the commission affirmed that the student had a First Amendment right to question the demonstrators.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fired Professor Steven Salaita for his anti-Israel tweets and his lawsuit is currently moving forward in a federal court. The University of California is attempting to label all criticism of the state of Israel as anti-Semitic hate speech and Occidental College may institute a microaggression reporting system.

The First Amendment rights of everyone are in danger if one person’s freedom of expression can be diminished by an administrator, campus police officer, or an emotional student. The words “hateful” and “offensive” are relative terms. We cannot protect the kinds of speech we find to be agreeable unless we can also protect the kinds of speech we find disagreeable.

Will Republicans Allow an Obamacare Bailout?

in Healthcare, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Comments are off

Will Republicans Allow an Obamacare Bailout?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

One of the few bright spots in the government-funding bill passed last December was the inclusion of a provision that barred the Obama administration from using taxpayer dollars to bailout a little-known Obamacare program. Known as “risk corridors,” the program receives contributions from health insurance companies that make money from plans sold on the exchanges required by the law and redistributes it to those that experience losses.

Health Care

Congressional Republicans had targeted the program for repeal. In November 2013, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced legislation, the Obamacare Bailout Prevention Act, to do just that. “The American people are sick of Washington picking winners and losers, especially since the chosen losers often end up being taxpayers who foot the bills for Washington’s mistakes,” Rubio said at the time. “Washington’s bailout culture must end, and eliminating Obamacare’s blank check for a bailout of insurance companies is a common sense step to protect taxpayers when Obamacare fails.”

Lobbyists for insurance companies worried about congressional action against the program, which, according to the administration’s propaganda, is supposed to be deficit-neutral. Without the program, insurers’ lobbyists said, premiums would rise and drive consumers away from the exchanges, possibly leading to a dreaded “death spiral.” While the bill didn’t see any action in the Senate, Rubio reintroduced it in January at the beginning of the new Congress.

The language prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for the risk corridors program that was included in the government-funding bill applied only to fiscal year 2015. It would have to be inserted into the bill for fiscal year 2016 for it to continue to apply. This is where it gets interesting. Insurers have filed more in claims than money that’s available in the program.

“On October 1, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the total of collections and payouts under the risk corridor premium stabilization program for 2014. CMS announced that insurers have submitted $2.87 billion in risk corridor claims for 2014. Insurers only owe, however, $362 million in risk corridor contributions,” Health Affairs reported in October. “Thus payments in 2015 for 2014 will be paid out at 12.6 percent of claims, assuming full collections of contributions owed.”

In other words, the risk corridors program faces a more than a $2.5 billion shortfall. The only way to fill the gap is to transfer funds – i.e., taxpayer money – to cover the payments owed to insurers.

The House of Representatives is in the midst of working on the government-funding bill for fiscal year 2016. The current funding agreement expires on Friday, though lawmakers will likely pass an extension to give themselves more time to hammer out a framework. But without a specific language prohibiting the administration from using taxpayer money to make the risk corridors payments, taxpayers could be on the hook for what is, ostensibly, a $2.5 billion Obamacare bailout.

Life is About People

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Life is About People

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

“Life is about people, not rings. Rings collect dust.” – Coach Mark Richt

In the context that he was quoted, at his final meeting with the football players at the University of Georgia, he meant that the developing those he coached into fine young men was a greater accomplishment than the rings he won with those young men on the field of play.

peopleLife is about people.

The first part of his quote is something that I observe many omit as they live their lives. I also observe that many libertarians omit this when they work to win hearts and minds to the principles, the ideals, the philosophy, and the lifestyle of libertarianism.

When it comes to Liberty, I don’t want it just for myself. I want it for everyone. I want it for the person struggling to ends meet that has the entrepreneurial spirit to be prosperous and to add value to the lives of others. I want it for the child with a learning disability that is getting left behind in school who is an amazingly talented musician. I want it for the international student here on a student visa that will cure cancer.

Too often, we get caught up in the latest news story, political issues, and the rhetoric when having a “political” conversation, but our efforts are for naught if we forget that the people we live among are what our lives are all about. Other times, we project our desires onto others. Sometimes, we just don’t listen to their concerns. 

When we stop getting caught up in those hurdles, we can connect to the people around us and have a real conversation. That conversation will help us to see how to address their concerns and desires and discuss our love of freedom to help open hearts and minds to Liberty.

Looking In the Mirror

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Looking In the Mirror

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Nearly every government official or candidate for office has a governmental solution for issues we face, regardless of the nature of that issue.

Poverty? Let’s adjust the minimum wage.

Education? Let’s tweak this or implement that new and shiny idea in government schools.

Jobs? We need the government efforts to lure businesses to a certain area with special favors.

What these “solutions” fail to address is the largest problem, the government itself. They seek to reform a reform of a reform that needed to change.

We’re told that these solutions are “outside the box” thinking, yet they simply make a small adjustment thought to “fix” the problem they’ve now uncovered.

looking in the mirrorLet’s think “outside the box” for just minute here…

What if we looked in the mirror for a moment and asked, “How can I solve this? Who would I ask for advice about [X]?” without the baggage of what currently exists and the bias toward the status quo? Obviously, our varied expertise and experience, as well as our areas of passion will drive our focus to the areas of greatest interest.

Would you want a brickmason determining healthcare policy? What does a realtor know about which math curriculum works best for students on the autism spectrum? How can a single person be enough of an expert in all that government involves themselves in to accurately determine the best outcomes in each and every case? What we see occur is that an agenda drives the decision-making to a “one size fits all” solution for over 300 million Americans.

What if we decided not to outsource all of this to a few people with a vested interest in keeping things as they are. After all, if they solved the problems we face, why would we need them? Further, if they had the solutions, wouldn’t they have already fixed everything?

What does this have to with liberty? If we took it upon ourselves to examine these issues and used our tendency to consider outcomes rather than intent and to seek out experts for their perspective, we can offer some pretty solid solutions that lean toward liberty and away from Big Government’s further growth.

Real solutions begin with us.

 

Run This Up the Flagpole…

in Liberator Online, One Minute Liberty Tip by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Run This Up the Flagpole…

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

I have always loved the Gadsden Flag – the bold yellow banner featuring a rattlesnake and the defiant words “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Gadsen Flag

One of the first flags of the United States, it was designed by American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden in 1775 and was a renowned war flag during the American Revolution.

Because of its history, it connotes a deep patriotism. And “Don’t Tread on Me” powerfully conveys the fundamental libertarian message of nonaggression.

The Gadsden Flag truly is a classic symbol. But lately, I’ve come to much prefer a new evolution of this famous flag.

While “Don’t Tread on Me” is a great notion, it has a defensiveness and war-like nature (appropriately, since after all, it was originally a war flag). And to many viewers, it only speaks for the person carrying it: “Don’t tread on ME.” Do what you want, but don’t bother ME. This unfortunately can reinforce the false negative stereotype often used against libertarians: that libertarians are selfish, don’t care about others, etc.

Also, in recent years, the Gadsden flag has come to stand for political movements that don’t represent the kind of peaceful non-aggression and tolerance that libertarians stand for.

The main thing that makes libertarianism different from any other political philosophy is the fact that everything we advocate applies to EVERYONE. We want individual liberty – not just for ourselves, but for everyone. The Nonaggression Principle applies to all human beings – not just libertarians, not just Americans. Everyone.

That’s why I’ve fallen in love with the newer expression: “Don’t tread on ANYONE.” It looks great on the Gadsden Flag!

Porcupine

And it is especially powerful when the Gadsden Flag’s snake is replaced by a porcupine, as some clever libertarians have done. The porcupine is certainly very well equipped to defend itself, yet it does not aggress against other animals. (And besides, it’s cute!)

Another bonus: Turning an icon on its head, as this new meme does, creates an element of surprise. It makes people stop and think. It gives them an “ah-ha!” experience. As Chip and Dan Heath point out in their landmark book “Made to Stick,” ideas that are “sticky” (ideas that last, go viral, etc.) have some things in common, and one of those things is that those ideas are “unexpected, counter-intuitive, with surprise implications.”

(And hey, what’s more “sticky” than a porcupine?)

You can find variations of this new icon on T-shirts, bumper stickers, flags, and more online.

I hope more and more libertarians will begin to use this new reworking of a classic American symbol of independence. What a great way to present our glorious philosophy of liberty, peace, harmony, and goodwill toward ALL!

Address Security Concerns But Let Syrian Refugees Come to the U.S.

in Foreign Policy, Immigration, Liberator Online, Middle East, News You Can Use by Comments are off

Address Security Concerns But Let Syrian Refugees Come to the U.S.

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

America’s governors are playing right into the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, the governors of 30 states have called on the Obama administration to delay its plans to allow refugees from Syria to be placed in their states.

The concerns aren’t without merit. One of the Islamic radicals who participated in the terrorist attacks had a passport, using a phony name, showing that he entered Europe from Syria. This revelation has raised concerns about holes in the security screenings of the refugees who may enter the United States as the flee from a bloody civil war that has ravaged their country and left tens of thousands dead.

syrian-refugee-crisis

Similarly, congressional Republicans are poised to push legislation to “pause” the program. Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in the first major test of his nascent speakership, said, “This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced a bill of his own to temporarily halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

“The time has come to stop terrorists from walking in our front door,” Paul said in a statement. “The Boston Marathon bombers were refugees, and numerous refugees from Iraq, including some living in my hometown, have attempted to commit terrorist attacks.”

“The terrorist attacks in Paris underscore this concern that I have been working to address for the past several years. My bill will press pause on new refugee entrants from high-risk countries until stringent new screening procedures are in place,” he added.

Prohibiting Syrian refugees from entering the United States, which is what some seem to want, may not be at all like the retaliatory attacks being carried out against mosques and Muslim-owed businesses in France in the aftermath of the attacks, but the anti-Islam sentiment is what ISIS thrives upon in its twisted eschatology.

“This is precisely what ISIS was aiming for — to provoke communities to commit actions against Muslims,” University of Maryland professor Arie Kruglanski told the Washington Post. “Then ISIS will be able to say, ‘I told you so. These are your enemies, and the enemies of Islam.”

Governors and lawmakers must tread carefully and keep in mind that history shows that refugees are overwhelming unlikely to be terrorists. A temporarily halt to the Syrian refugee program is understandable until security concerns are addressed, but we shouldn’t shut the door to people who are seeking safety by conflating it with the other hot-button issues, such as immigration.

They Want Hate Between You

in Conversations With My Boys, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East by Comments are off

They Want Hate Between You

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

BA(10): I wish I knew why those terrorist did that.
Me: Would it comfort you to know why?
BA: It would help me if I understood why.
HateMe: Well, they murdered those people so you would hate Muslims. Like Al (a friend who is Muslim). They want you to hate Al.
BA: I would never hate Al. Why do they want me to hate him?
Me: They want you to make Al feel hated and attacked. They want you to work for them and make Al feel attacked. Like you are his enemy. They want you to hate Al and attack him so he has to defend himself from you.
BA: Why would they want that?
Me: They want Al to feel persecuted by you and they can’t do that job. They have to make you do that. They want hate between you. They want Al to hate you and they want Al to join them.
BA: I would never hate Al.
Me: It doesn’t begin as hate. It begins as fear and distrust. When you fear and distrust your friends and neighbors you are doing the work the terrorists want you to do. You are working for them.
BA: If I hate anyone I hate the terrorists.
Me: That also serves them. Hate is like a little pile of burning matches. You can not put out that little burning pile of matches by adding your own burning match to it. You must quench hate and more hate does not quench hate. Do you see?
BA: Yes.
Me: When there is great hatred like there was last night in Paris we are being called to great love and compassion. We are called to love the people who have died and the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, and friends who are heartbroken with grief. Love quenches hate. Do you see?
BA: They want me to hate and be afraid.
Me: Yes. Do you remember those people who came to our church to frighten people?
BA: It’s like that. It’s the same thing. Only they didn’t kill us they just tried to scare us.
Me: Yes. It’s hate. They want you to hate. When you hate, you are on the side of those who hate.

How do You Defeat Hydra?

in Conversations With My Boys, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, War by Comments are off

How do You Defeat Hydra?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Me: YS, do you know what a Hydra is?
BA (10): It’s a monster. Every time you chop off one of its heads, two grow in its place.
Me: How do you know this?
Hydra 2BA: Minecraft. In the Twilight Forest there’s a Hydra.
Me: Do you know why I’m asking about the Hydra?
YS (15): Terrorism? It’s like we’re fighting Hydra. The more we fight, the more heads it makes.
Me: So how do you defeat an enemy like that?
YS: First you need to stop cutting off the heads.
Me: But that doesn’t make it go away. How do you destroy a thing you can’t destroy with an attack?
YS: Stop fueling it.
Me: What is this Hydra’s fuel?
YS: We’ve been giving this Hydra literal weapons, literal training, literal financing.
Me: Why did we do this?
YS: We thought we could control it so we grew it. Then it spun out of control. Now it’s attacking us.
Me: Who are the teeth of the Hydra?
YS: Terrorists who carry out the attacks.
Me: And what can you tell me about them?
YS: They’re mad. They’ve had something done to them.
Me: They are called Injustice Collectors and they are easily radicalized. You’re describing something called radicalization. Sometimes what happens is citizens of a country will become radicalized and carry out acts of terror in their own country. People are afraid of immigrants and refugees when actually it’s just as likely to be radicalized citizens who carry out terrorism in their own countries. If someone is running away from terrorism in their own country are they going to become radicalized in their new home?
YS: No. They want nothing to do with it. Refugees from ISIS are the anti-ISIS. They have experienced it.
Me: What kind of effect will an influx of refugees fleeing ISIS violence have on a population?
YS: Those people are not likely to be recruited. They’re going to tell people who could potentially be radicalized that they shouldn’t. They’ve lived it.
Me: What else feeds the Hydra?
YS: Hatred.
Me: When you are hateful to a person they are more willing to be the teeth. How do we make them unwilling to be the teeth?
YS: Those people around us that ISIS is targeting for recruitment, we need to show them kindness.
Me: That’s what starves Hydra.
YS: The state has murdered their people in our name, just like ISIS has murdered people in the name of all Muslims. We have to be kind and think logically. We have to not want to be afraid of these terrorists. Emotional responses don’t get people anywhere.
Me: We kind of enjoy being afraid, don’t we?
YS: Right. Like gun control. Emotional, irrational responses. There’s a mass shooting and people get scared and the start yelling for gun control. It’s like that. It doesn’t work. Gun control doesn’t stop violent people. It just makes it easier for violent people to be violent. It’s an emotional response. We need to think but emotional responses are a lot of fun for the majority of people.

Charles Koch Blasts Corporate Welfare

in Economic Liberty, Economics, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Comments are off

Charles Koch Blasts Corporate Welfare

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

It’s amazing how Charles and David Koch have become the boogeymen of progressives. Democratic politicians, in their class warfare messaging, often reference the multi-billionaire brothers, who frequently contribute to free market causes and Republican candidates.

In reality, the Koch brothers, both of whom are libertarians, hold views that are overlap with progressive thought. They’re skeptical of the United States’ foreign policy, support same-sex marriage, and are critical of corporate welfare.

Free-Market

Writing in Time on Wednesday, Charles Koch repeated his criticism of corporate welfare. “According to a New York Times poll released earlier this year, most Americans believe only the wealthy and well-connected can get ahead these days, leaving everyone else to fall farther behind,” Koch wrote. “I find this very disturbing – because they are right.”

The difference between Koch and progressives is that he doesn’t see government regulation and mandates as the answer to this problem; he sees the government as the problem.

“I have devoted most of my life to this cause. For more than 50 years, I have sought to understand the principles that make free societies the most successful at enabling widespread well-being for everyone – especially the least advantaged. These principles include dignity, respect, tolerance, equality before the law, free speech and free markets, and individual rights,” Koch explained. “If we want to create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we must re-establish these principles. The benefits will be incalculable, flowing to people at every level of society – not just the politically connected.”

“To achieve this vision,” he continued, “we must undo decades of misguided policies that tend to fall into two broad categories: barriers to opportunity for the many and special treatment for the few.”

Koch said, “[T]he role of business is to provide products and services that make people’s lives better.” But, he notes, businesses often bring “harm” on people by taking handouts from the government. What Koch said may shock some.

“The tax code alone contains $1.5 trillion in exemptions and special-interest carve-outs. The federal government also uses direct subsidies, grants, loans, mandates, bailouts, loan guarantees, no-bid contracts and more to help the lucky few with the most lobbyists,” he wrote. “Overall, according to George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, corporate welfare in Washington, D.C. costs more than $11,000 per person in lost gross domestic product every year—$3.6 trillion lost to special favors for special interests.” He added that this doesn’t include regulations promulgated to benefit certain special interests.

Whether progressives like it or not, the Koch brothers are much more than they’ve been made out to be. Of course, as noted, they don’t believe government is the answer and, let’s be honest, it’s not. The problem is, far too few in Washington, including many self-identified progressives, aren’t interested in taking on special interests, largely because they’ve been bought and paid for by them.

What is a Libertarian Win? Part 2

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

What is a Libertarian Win? Part 2

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

**Note: This is the second part of an article focused on wins for libertarians. You can find the first part, focused on electoral politics, here.**

Outside of winning your election as a candidate or some of the other wins we shared in Part 1, libertarians can win in other ways as well.

  • winWinning a voter referendum. Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon re-legalized the possession and use of marijuana recreationally. About half of the states that legalized marijuana for medical use did so through ballot measures. These popular votes increased freedom for everyone in their respective states and pressured nearby states to “keep up with the Joneses.” These referendums gave libertarians an opportunity to share a message about the freedom to choose what goes into your body. Statewide ballot measures are not the only opportunities to share a freedom-oriented position on an issue. Local tax referendums take place across the country, and are a great opportunity for a win for libertarians. We can highlight wasteful spending, cronyism, and the proper role of government in opposition to the proposed tax. Who votes to tax themselves? 
  • Lobbying for legislative action. Referendums are not the only avenue for libertarian legislative wins. Strong working relationships with legislators and their staff can yield positive results for liberty if you work with them to pass freedom-oriented bills. This can be a difficult route, even if you have legislators friendly to the issue you’re working on. This will also require some coalescing with other groups with a similar interest and potentially compromising to get some of what you seek. This is easier with the more populist beliefs we hold.
  • Disruptive innovation. Almost entirely outside of politics, free market innovations that revolutionize industries and change the way we do things disrupt the status quo and offer another win for libertarians. Innovations like Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon transformed transportation, travel lodging, and retail sales. Until your innovation affects Big Government and their cronies, this won’t become a political issue. As Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon can tell you, the politicization of innovation will get you interested in politics, no matter the level of interest you held before.

Can you think of any other ways a libertarian can win?

Unrest at Mizzou: A Timeline

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Comments are off

Unrest at Mizzou: A Timeline

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

**Editor’s Note: Tim Wolfe’s resignation as president of the University of Missouri prompted us to take a look at the events surrounding his resignation. We have complied them in a timeline here. 

September 12: Student Government President Payton Head posts on Facebook his frustrations after people riding in the back of a pickup truck screamed racial slurs at him. “For those of you who wonder why I’m always talking about the importance of inclusion and respect, it’s because I’ve experienced moments like this multiple times at THIS university, making me not feel included here,” he wrote in the widely shared post.

September 17: Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, the top resident official on the Missouri campus, issues a statement deploring “recent incidents of bias and discrimination.” He calls them “totally unacceptable.”

Mizzou

October 1: A “Racism Lives Here rally” is held on campus. “White silence is violence, no justice no peace,” protesters chanted, according to a report by the Columbia Missourian newspaper.

October 4: A drunken white student disrupts an African American student group, the Legion of Black Collegians, preparing for homecoming activities and uses a racial slur when they asked him to leave. “Not only did this individual disrupt our rehearsal, but we were also made victims of blatant racism in a space that we should be made to feel safe,” the group said. Loftin issues a statement the next day, saying “racism is clearly alive at Mizzou.” “What we have done is not enough. Every member of our community must help us change our culture,” he said.

October 8: Loftin orders diversity and inclusion training for students and faculty in 2016. “This training will inform all of us about the diversity of our campus and the organizations present on campus and make us conscious of how to be inclusive in our words and behaviors,” he wrote.

In an open letter to Loftin in the campus newspaper, student leader Jonathan Butler welcomes the announcement as “a step in the right direction,” but criticizes the chancellor for not acknowledging the work of African American students in developing diversity programs and for failing to acknowledge the breadth of racial issues on the campus.

October 10: Protesters block university President Tim Wolfe’s car during the Missouri homecoming parade to voice their concerns. Wolfe doesn’t respond to their complaints, something he later apologizes for, and his car taps a protester, which angered the group. No one was hurt, but protesters later accused police of using excessive force to clear the street.

October 20: The student group Concerned Student 1950, named for the year African-American students were first admitted to the university, issues a list of demands: an apology from Wolfe, his removal from office and a more comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum overseen by minority students and faculty. There is no immediate response from administration.

October 24: Another incident roils the campus. Someone uses feces to draw a swastika on the wall of a residence hall. A similar incident had occurred in April, but with ashes, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.

October 26: Wolfe meets privately with Concerned Student 1950 members, but doesn’t agree to meet their demands, according to the Missourian.

November 3: Butler launches a hunger strike, saying “Mr. Wolfe had ample opportunity to create policies and reform that could shift the culture of Mizzou in a positive direction but in each scenario he failed to do so.”

November 4: A student boycott in support of Concerned Student 1950 begins.

November 6: Wolfe issues an apology to Concerned Student 1950. “Racism does exist at our university and it is unacceptable. It is a long-standing, systemic problem which daily affects our family of students, faculty and staff,” he says.

November 8: Black football players announce they won’t practice or play until Wolfe is removed. The Athletic Department, Coach Gary Pinkel and many white players announce their support for the protest.

November 9: The Missouri Students Association’s executive cabinet calls for Wolfe’s ouster, saying the system’s administration “has undeniably failed us.” Soon afterwards, Wolfe announces his resignation.

November 10: Threats begin to circulate online towards the safety of minority students. The author of the posts on the anonymous location-based messaging app YikYak and other social media, threatened to “shoot every black person I see.”

November 11: Hunter M. Park, a 19-year-old sophomore studying computer science at a sister campus in Rolla, was arrested shortly before 2 a.m. at a residence hall for the anonymous social media posts. Some professors cancel classes, others do not, which sparks outrage from students and in one instance, resignation.

 

Page 6 of 31« First...45678...2030...Last »