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After Obamacare, Let’s Repeal All Government Involvement In Health Care

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

After Obamacare, Let’s Repeal All Government Involvement In Health Care

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

Everyone is talking about health care.

If you consider yourself a conservative, you might have felt a spark of excitement when Congress motioned to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, only to be let down once you learned lawmakers fell short of putting an end to President Barack Obama’s signature law.

obamacare

But to those who are serious about free market principles, the entire debate revolving around the end of of ACA is somewhat frustrating. That’s why health care in the United States hasn’t been good for decades, and Obamacare just made it a tad worse.

By the mid-1960s, the United States started to experience what heavy-handed intervention in the market does to supply and demand of services, and how it inflates the costs of such services.

With the passage of Medicare and Medicaid and new regulations that artificially trimmed the supply of doctors and hospitals, Americans noticed an increase in health care prices that, according to Mike Holly, “responded at twice the rate of inflation.”

Over time, medical special interests continued to lobby government for more regulations, further restricting competition and making it harder for members of the medical profession to make their services available at a lower cost.

With government’s involvement, demand for medical services increased thanks to subsidies, but with the restrictive regulatory monster only growing stronger with each passing decade, the supply of physicians, clinics, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals was further restricted.

As consumers began reporting hardships having access to care thanks to government’s overbearing involvement, government decided to act once again, targeting high costs by “partnering,” once again, with well-connected service providers and offering even more subsidies.

ACA, or Obamacare, is what happens when government tries to fix the problem by repeating its past mistakes.

With the passage of Obama’s signature health care law, the government ramped up subsidies, causing demand to continue to grow artificially while the supply was reduced thanks to the greater number of restrictions imposed on the market. As a result, powerful health care industry leaders grew into more powerful monopolies while entrepreneurs and independent physicians and clinics became overwhelmed and were forced to succumb to the system or get out of it completely.

So when Congress talks about repealing Obamacare as the only measure necessary to put an end to the incredibly maddening situation we find ourselves in today, don’t believe them.

For America to have a true free market system that will guarantee lower prices and increased supply of health care services to everyone, we must look beyond Obamacare. Or, as Mises Institute’s Ryan McMaken put it, we must “focus on repealing and undermining the edifice on which Obamacare was built: the highly regulated, subsidized, and manipulated healthcare markets that dominate today.”

Is Congress listening?

Massachusetts Moves To Put An End To Hair Braiding Licensing Requirements

in Business and Economy, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Massachusetts Moves To Put An End To Hair Braiding Licensing Requirements

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

Some estimate that the practice of hair braiding is about 5,000 years old, making it a much more traditional and well-established practice than going to the state for permission to braid hair.

Still, hair braiders across the country are often forced to dedicate long hours of training and spend thousands of dollars on classes they shouldn’t be required to take to continue braiding hair professionally.

braiding

Thanks to state laws regulating the practice, many women found themselves in tough situations, being forced to stop making a living out of hair braiding out of fear they would end up having troubles with the law. As a result, the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice filed several lawsuits across several states on behalf of these hair braiders.

Now, many states exempt hair braiders from having to follow licensing laws. Still, the most populous state in the New England region remains in the dark ages, requiring anyone who wants to braid hair for a living to log in 1,500 hours of training and spending up to $20,000 just so they may obtain a cosmetology license.

Because these licensing laws often impact women of color and immigrants, it’s hard to ignore the impact on these communities, especially when we consider that hair braiding poses no threat to public safety.

In order to address this issue statewide, Republican Massachusetts Senator Ryan Fattman proposed legislation that would ensure hair braiders would be exempt from cosmetology licensing laws. If this bill passes, it could help countless women who are predominantly black and immigrant to get back into the workforce without fear of being driven out of the market by the law.

When defending his bill, Fattman explained that licensing laws keep people from turning their talent into a fulfilling profession. “It’s an ethnic vocation that people have learned in their upbringing and they do it, and they do it without realizing they have to be licensed,” Fattman explained. “We wanted to basically lower the barriers to entry for people who make a living this way.”

As it stands, the bill is being reviewed by the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, but a hearing about the piece of legislation won’t be held until this fall.

While forcing hair braiders to obtain licenses to perform their duties is usually seen as nonsensical by most, many seem unable to think the same way about other professions and commercial endeavors, failing to see how regulation actually hurts professionals and consumers across the board by imposing barriers to entry in the market that will eventually inflate the cost of doing business. Still, it’s encouraging to see that yet another state is working on abolishing licensing requirements for hair braiders.

Trump Flips On Libya, Seems Set To Continue Obama’s Policy

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

Trump Flips On Libya, Seems Set To Continue Obama’s Policy

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

Buried in the news, somewhere under the tons of reports covering Donald Trump Jr.’s email exchange with Russians promising him damaging information on Hillary Clinton, was a report nearly ignored regarding Libya. The same Libya that was destabilized to utter ruin thanks to the policies implemented by President Barack Obama and his then Secretary of State Clinton.

After having claimed that he saw no role for the United States in Libya, U.S. officials are now saying that the President Donald Trump administration will soon announce a dramatic shift in policy, looking into not only appointing a new U.S. ambassador, but also putting more American boots in the country.

Libya

So what happened? After Clinton and Obama toppled Muammar Gaddafi, a power vacuum transformed Libya in fertile ground for constant conflict, despair, and misery. Now, Trump’s America wants to help, sending in boots to secure the “unity government” in Tripoli.

Adding more fuel to the fire, the operation would also send troops to Benghazi where a rival faction has taken over. With these ingredients in the mix, it’s hard to see how the U.S. ramped up involvement in the region won’t translate into more direct involvement, pitting U.S. forces against militants and terrorists in the region in the name of Libya’s new “official” government, which is the same faction that was once backed by Obama.

While the former administration offered the unity government the same support, helping them to fight off ISIS, the victory did nothing for Libya’s new government concoction. As a result, the country is divided and run by different powers, with Tripoli still under the care of the unity government.

If the current administration is serious about increasing its presence in the region, the U.S. may end up becoming a staple in the country, just like it did with Iraq. As such, whomever ends up taking the government of the country will also end up being a client of the United States.

Proving that Trump was never up to truly challenging Obama’s policies where it truly matters, the president is now doing the exact opposite of what he promised during his campaign.

He isn’t erasing the former president’s legacy, after all. Instead, he’s simply building on it, pursuing policies that repeat the same mistakes and rely on the same old and failed tactics.

With the U.S. continued involvement in Libya, resentment associated with our involvement in the country will only grow, giving terrorist cells in the broader region enough recruitment tools to continue growing their power over the region. If Trump wants to grow groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda-linked terrorist cells, he’s doing precisely what he should. In the process, he’s also sucking the taxpayer dry. Not the most austere — or prudent — of combos.

Thank A Bureaucrat: Baby Boomers Aren’t Leaving The Labor Force, Millennials Can’t Find Jobs

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

Thank A Bureaucrat: Baby Boomers Aren’t Leaving The Labor Force, Millennials Can’t Find Jobs

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

Early in 2017, the New York Times reported that the workforce is growing slowly as more baby boomers retire. Recently, economist Janet Yellen, otherwise known as the Federal Reserve System’s Chair, stated that another economic crisis is unlikely “in our lifetime.” Still, reports show that now more than ever, Americans of retiring age are choosing to forego retirement altogether. As these older Americans notice that Social Security and the meager savings they have accumulated over the years won’t be enough, they continue working.

boomer

But as young Americans leave college and find themselves stuck in part-time jobs that don’t even cover their student loans, baby boomers remain active. So, as a matter of fact, labor force participation hasn’t been falling thanks to older Americans finally retiring. Instead, young, fully capable and educated men and women are the ones who aren’t being able to find suitable work.

Don’t trust me? Look at the numbers.

Last quarter, Bloomberg reports, 19 percent of 70- to 74-year-olds were still working. In the same period in 1994, only 11 percent of people in that age group were still in the labor force.

Also, this past quarter, 32 percent of Americans between the age of 65 and 69 were employed. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36 percent of people in this age group will be working by 2024. A huge increase from 22 percent of Americans aged 65 to 69 who were active in the labor force in 1994.

 If these numbers aren’t enough, consider that in a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 79 percent of respondents said they expected to go into retirement while continuing to work. Workers aren’t even relying on retirement anymore as they struggle to save throughout life due to the high cost of living, high debt, and knowledge that Social Security alone just won’t do.

As you’ve read previously here at The Advocates, many young, educated Americans have already chosen to completely ignore their diplomas, going for occupations that are often available only to the low-skilled and poorly educated. As older Americans find it increasingly hard to leave the labor force altogether, expect an even greater number of young Americans failing to find gainful employment, especially in their areas. But instead of blaming baby boomers alone, remember what policies have paved the way for these discrepancies and who champions them.

 More government-backed student loans and easier access to loans and grants, ensuring everyone has a higher education, has always been a staple of the progressive agenda. One that has been thoroughly supported by… yes, Millennials.

As a result of the implementation of this kind of policy, the government created an inflated, artificial demand for a college education that would not be the norm if the state hadn’t decided that college is for everyone. Students, who are often just influenced by peer pressure, were led to believe that any degree was enough, and that they shouldn’t be taking a good look at the labor market before making a decision. The result? Too many Americans with useless degrees who will eventually settle for occupations that have nothing to do with their “calling.”

Unless government is removed entirely from the picture, this trend will only worsen.

California May Soon Put An End To Unchecked Police Surveillance

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

California May Soon Put An End To Unchecked Police Surveillance

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

A bill introduced in the California Senate earlier this year that requires law enforcement agencies in the Golden State must get local government approval before deploying surveillance technology has just passed California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. Now, it must pass the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection by a majority vote.

surveillance

If this bill remains favorable among California lawmakers and it becomes law, it could mark the beginning of a new era for privacy advocates since privacy advocates in other states might be inspired by seeing advocates targeting law enforcement agencies that abuse their power in the local level.

The bill, SB 21, mandates that law enforcement follows a Surveillance Use Policy for surveillance technologies available for use. This document would also cover the type of information these technologies collect. Once agencies develop their own operational policy, they would then have to submit these documents to a local governing body for approval. A hearing that would be open to the public would then be scheduled, and if the agency’s plan isn’t adopted then officials would be barred from using that particular surveillance technology within 30 days.

The proposed legislation would also ensure that civilians have the ability to sue a particular law enforcement agency if officers violate the legislation.

Officials would also have to amend policies related to any new surveillance technology they acquire in the future, forcing agencies to subject the new system to the same approval requirements.

While so far the bill seems promising, one of the risks associated with having this piece of legislation go through yet another committee is the fact lawmakers may feel compelled to amend the bill enough as to make some provisions in it toothless. Since this move would make law enforcement agencies fighting this bill quite happy, it’s important that SB 21 passes as is for it to be effective.

In order to help push the bill through the California legislature in a clean fashion, Media Alliance, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California, and the Tenth Amendment Center are all pushing legislators to focus on the end goal, ignoring calls for watering down the bill coming from law enforcement interests.

As it stands, officials are allowed access to an enormous amount of access to a series of surveillance equipment without any significant oversight. As officials notice access to these tools may be restricted, forcing them to do actual investigative work to do their jobs, pressure mounts. So it’s no wonder that law enforcement unions and their lobbyists aren’t willing to give up on this fight so easily.

As agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) show they are willing to let criminals go so their surveillance methods are challenged in court, we can only hope this legislative effort remains strong, producing the end goal desired so that Californians’ privacy is protected.

Credit Union Wins Small Victory In Fight Against Federal Marijuana Prohibition

in Drugs, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Credit Union Wins Small Victory In Fight Against Federal Marijuana Prohibition

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

Marijuana was legalized in the state of Colorado, nullifying the federal prohibitive rules regarding the substance, in 2012. But as the pot industry grew tremendously over a short period of time in the state, the feds found yet another way to restrict marijuana entrepreneurs.

marijuana

Since marijuana is still an illicit drug according to federal law, the banking industry found itself unable to provide services to marijuana businessmen and women. As a result, many entrepreneurs found it hard to have access to loans or even bank accounts to better manage their business.

Recently, a marijuana credit union was able to win a small but significant victory in the fight against the federal government’s control over drug policy.

Fourth Corner Credit Union had been barred from having access to certain services due to its willingness to do business with marijuana-related businesses. As a result, the institution was not allowed to open a Federal Reserve master account so it could provide banking services to customers. Now, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has annulled this decision.

Thanks to this move, the institution is now free to re-apply for the account. And, if denied once again, Fourth Corner may take the case to court once more.

While this isn’t necessarily a victory in the sense that it allows banking institutions to provide services to whomever they wish, it’s the first step in a long process to ensure that Colorado’s marijuana laws aren’t undermined by the federal government’s insistence in upholding laws that effectively impact Americans’ right to self-ownership.

As it stands, Colorado’s pot industry has functioned mostly on cash transactions. This causes problems for both consumers and entrepreneurs as many of these companies may feel that saving and managing their money is more difficult without having access to a banking account.

But Colorado isn’t the only state running into major banking problems thanks to the federal government. Business in Washington and Oregon are also facing problems as feds are the ones that regulate the banking industry.

Perhaps, if freedom and true liberty advocates are willing to take up the fight, the next step anti-drug war advocates should take is to embark on a new nullification effort that might help to decentralize banking in the United States. By default, if this effort is eventually successful, states could continue passing their own drug-related pieces of legislation, allowing entrepreneurs to have access to a world of banking options not available to them until then. Of course, any such fight wouldn’t be easy. But decentralization is key in promoting liberty.

As more states become freer than others on diverse fronts, Americans see incentives in moving. This is how “voting with our feet” happens.

 

Government Facial Scans Are Here, Here’s Why You Should Worry

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

Government Facial Scans Are Here, Here’s Why You Should Worry

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

What starts as “common sense” legislation often ends up opening up the gates for more government intrusion, putting the freedom and privacy of Americans at grave risk.

That’s what’s happening now as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s “Biometric Exit” program is starting to be used at airports in certain parts of the country.

government

Congress, decades ago, passed legislation pushing federal officials to take steps to track down foreign nationals as they entered and left the United States. The idea, born out of a perceived necessity to keep track of foreigners who overstayed their visas, soon became the basis for yet another idea. That’s when the thought of creating a database filled with scans of American faces came to life.

Without going to Congress or consulting the public, the DHS launched the Biometric Exit program. Slowly, the agency started implementing the scanning initiative, making American citizens and green card holders, as well as foreigners, have their faces scanned before embarking on certain international flights from both New York and Atlanta.

To kickstart this program, DHS partnered with Delta in Atlanta and New York and with JeBlue in Boston, making these face recognition scans mandatory when run by Delta and voluntary when run by JetBlue.

To those going through JetBlue, the company gives passengers the option of ditching the physical ticket altogether for a face scan.

Despite the different approaches, both of the systems already in use are just the start of something larger that could soon turn into a nationwide launch of Biometric Exit. As a result, everyone, both foreign and American, would be subject to having their faces scanned and their details added or matched to a federal database.

If this system becomes mandatory, the issues associated with errors could be a major headache for individuals on the receiving end of the extra scrutiny. With government goons taking the facial recognition tool much too seriously, a case of mistaken identity could put an absolutely innocent person at risk of being detained, while other, smaller mistakes, could cause passengers to miss their flights or spend extra hours at secondary screenings.

Aside from these potential issues, the very idea that the federal government would be collecting this information from anyone leaving the country raises questions regarding the constitutionality of these scans. After all, does the collection of information on innocent Americans without a warrant pass the Fourth Amendment test?

Many legal scholars say that it wouldn’t. So why is the DHS putting this in motion without Congress’ approval?

Well, quite frankly, because they can. As government grows larger and more intrusive, it also grows more certain it may operate outside existing laws that theoretically restrict them from infringing on people’s most basic rights. And that is the problem that must be addressed.

GOP Will Fail To Bring ACA Down Because Lawmakers Don’t Understand Economics

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

GOP Will Fail To Bring ACA Down Because Lawmakers Don’t Understand Economics

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

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been slowly falling apart from day one. With President Donald Trump promising to repeal and replace the health care legislation once in office, he pressed both the House and Senate to pass legislation that “fixed” what was wrong with President Barack Obama’s signature legislation. But perhaps, that’s the problem: The idea that a piece of law can be fixed simply by passing more legislation addressing the same issues is nothing but a sham.

GOP

Access to health care can only be expanded, helping those among us with the most meager of means to be able to obtain the care they require, once all laws regulating health care and insurance are abolished, not reformed. Unfortunately, neither the Senate nor the House GOP’s health care bill goes as far as necessary to allow the health care market to heal completely from the failures brought about heavy-handed government intervention.

According to Senior Research Fellow and health care scholar at the Mercatus Center Robert Graboyes, the latest version of the GOP’s health care bill does nothing to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. As a matter of fact, he writes on Real Clear Health, the bill simply alters the law. Calling the changes proposed by the bill “arcane,” Graboyes says neither of the GOP’s last attempts at tackling Obamacare dismantle the law’s structure. Instead, he explains, the only thing both the Senate and the House versions of health care reform are able to eliminate is the individual mandate, lifting requirements that force all Americans to obtain health insurance or else pay a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Still, the Senate version of health care reform legislation is just as dependent on government spending as Obamacare, ignoring that access to care will only be widened once the private sector isn’t restricted by regulations brought about the very marriage of Washington, D.C., politics and health industry heavyweights.

Instead of trying to tackle the health care problems that were provoked by health legislation in the first place with more laws, it’s time lawmakers recognize that the only way people will obtain better and more affordable care is by allowing the market to heal. And for that to happen, legislators must get out of the way completely, letting the private sector come up with the answers.

As Ron Johnson writes for the New York Times, the private sector relies on root-cause analysis to pursue improvement and offer better solutions to consumers without losing sight of the “KISS” principle (“keep it simple, stupid”). Without getting out of the way, health care providers will not be able to adapt and patients will continue to suffer to obtain basic care amidst health insurance skyrocketing premiums. Is that what we want?

New Law Ensures Maine Won’t Help Feds Restrict Gun Owners’ Freedoms

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

New Law Ensures Maine Won’t Help Feds Restrict Gun Owners’ Freedoms

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

Ever since the boom in state-led efforts to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, effectively rendering federal laws regarding the substance toothless, many decentralization advocates began urging locals to take up the fight against Washington, D.C., in more active ways. Now, groups across the country have added a series of other victories to their personal records by defying the state and crushing restrictive health care laws, freeing up education requirements in their states, and even making it safer to be a gun owner.

Maine

That’s what Maine lawmakers have just accomplished.

Last week, a bill that prohibits state officials to gather information on firearms and their owners was signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage. Thanks to this piece of legislation, Maine gun owners’ privacy will be protected and kept from the sticky hands of the feds, who are always looking for a way to put a countrywide registry of gun owners together. Without a far reaching database of firearms and their owners, federal officials are unable to enforce any more restrictive new anti-gun ownership law Washington decides to enact in the future.

House Bill 9 was introduced by Rep. Patrick Corey, a Republican from Windham. But what was surprising to many is that the piece of legislation obtained wide support from both sides of the aisle. According to the bill’s wording, the creation of a state firearms registry is now prohibited.

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a government agency of this State or a political subdivision of this State may not keep or cause to be kept a comprehensive registry of privately owned firearms and the owners of those firearms within its jurisdiction,” the law now states.

Passed by the state’s House by a 122-24 margin, the bill then headed to the Senate where it passed without any opposition. The piece of legislation was signed on June 12 and it’s scheduled to go into effect 90 days after the Maine legislative session is closed.

Since the federal government relies on information and resources made available by state officials and bureaucracies, passing this law means that the federal government won’t be able to obtain personal information on Maine gun owners anytime soon. By putting an end to any effort that would amount to a gun registry in the state, Maine is igniting a fire that could catch nationwide. In no time, the federal government would have its hands tied, forcing Washington to forego any new efforts to keep an eye on gun owners with the goal of restricting their freedom and violating their 2nd Amendment protections.

The Hoosier State Is About To Give Residents Enough Reasons To Flee

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

The Hoosier State Is About To Give Residents Enough Reasons To Flee

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

As lawmakers across many states of the union begin to understand that decentralization and less federal government control over their lives are important, other states make it easier for locals to simply pack and leave for greener pastures in neighboring states.

Hoosier

In Indiana, a Republican-controlled Assembly has been working with Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to increase taxes and fees on everything from fuel to medical marijuana registration in a series of different bills. As these bills have already been signed into law, locals will soon realize that the most mundane things that would otherwise cost nothing or very little in an environment free of government intervention are now actually hurting their pockets.

With all bills signed into law in 2017 alone in Indiana, at least 45 different taxes and fees have either been instituted or gone up. But according to Holcomb, that’s not “a lot.” Instead, he told reporters, he thinks that “paying for what we need” is what matters.

As fuel cost in the state goes up 10 cents on the gallon, many drivers may think that going “green” is the answer. But beginning in 2018, electric and hybrid vehicle owners will see a considerable increase in their registration fees, with hybrid cars costing an extra $50 and electric cars costing $150 more just to be registered with the state.

Thanks to the new laws, if you are local and you have a treatment-resistant epilepsy condition, you will need to register with the state’s epileptic cannabidiol registry to obtain legal treatment. But just to get your name on their list you will have to gather an extra $50 for the privilege — if you do not want trouble with the law for pursuing a health treatment to which you and only you have the right to say yes or no.

If Hoosiers who are tired of their current employment situation decide to change careers, choosing to become massage therapists instead, they will also have to obtain a license from the state, which will cost them $100 just for an “OK” stamp from bureaucrats.

Are you a college student in Indiana? Well, then you will face mandatory immunization against meningitis, which will cost you between $100 and $150. As we all know. there will be a lot of broke college students out there having to take money from their loans to cover for that.

Other fees and taxes that are also rising include court recordkeeping fees, background checks for teachers, notary services, storage fees for abandoned vehicles, and even harsher income tax requirements for visiting athletes.

Massachusetts Wants To Boost The Marijuana Black Market

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

Massachusetts Wants To Boost The Marijuana Black Market

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

Massachusetts voters chose to legalize marijuana for recreational use in November, putting an end to more than a century of prohibition in the region. This Wednesday, the state’s House leaders are going directly against their constituents, advancing a bill that would set the tax on recreational pot to 28 percent, double the amount currently allowed. On top of that, the proposal would also give municipal officials — or bureaucrats — power over which shops and farms can be banned, taking this authority away from local voters.

marijuana

Claiming that this piece of legislation actually better serves voters by protecting public health, safety, and the “best interests of the state,” lawmakers supporting the bill seem to ignore that the measures adopted in its text would have very different real-world consequences.

If the goal here is to boost the illicit marijuana drug market, the mandatory high taxes are enough to do the trick, and if what legislators want is to allow local government officials to be influenced by certain entrepreneurs to keep competitors from establishing shops or farms in certain locations in order to boost their own business, this bill also seems to be the perfect fit. In other words, if what Massachusetts lawmakers see as a victory is nothing but to create an environment where only gangsters and monied pot entrepreneurs are able to succeed, then they have hit the jackpot.

To advocates who have been working to legalize marijuana in the state for years, this bill represents a refusal to embrace what voters have already chosen to see implemented in 2016. Furthermore, they add that increasing taxes on marijuana sales will rise the cost of the final product to the consumer, who may choose to obtain his or her supply of weed from elsewhere.

Knowing consumers won’t buy pot if the cost is too high, many entrepreneurs who already run medical marijuana dispensaries in the state are beginning to reconsider plans to expand their business now that recreational marijuana is legal. But if legitimate businesses are disincentivized from opening their doors, consumers will then be at greater risk of experiencing health issues as they may end up purchasing marijuana in the black market, where products are often moldy or even adulterated.

Instead of protecting voters, lawmakers are making the marijuana market in the state more dangerous by both raising the overall cost of doing business and giving bureaucrats the power to pick and choose who may or may not do business in the state.

Unless lawmakers completely reword the bill, it’s poised to be passed this week before it goes to the Senate. If passed by both chambers, this bill could be signed by Governor Charlie Baker by the end of the month, putting an end to what anti-drug war advocates fought so hard to achieve.

Science Is Too Important To Be Left To the State

in Liberator Online, Libertarian Stances on Issues, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Science Is Too Important To Be Left To the State

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

When the science funding debate is ignited by reports that lawmakers are considering a new cut, news outlets are quick to publish stories about the “anti-science” legislators roaming Washington, D.C. with their dangerous unscientific biases running the country.

science What a bunch of old religious nuts, reporters and left-leaning critics suggest. They want science to die along with the planet.

Unfortunately, the winning narrative is nothing but that, a narrative. And whenever it pops up, people take it seriously, often ignoring facts — particularly those that demonstrate lawmakers are never truly serious about putting an end to government-funded anything.

So let’s look at what matters here. If science and advancing science so that we have access to better health treatments, technologies, and more convenient consumer products is what’s at stake, why would we, thinking individuals, allow scientific research to be funded by a handful of bureaucrats who have zero incentives to make good use of taxpayer money?

In a Bloomberg column, Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University Tyler Cowen explains that when scientific projects are funded in the private sector, actual projects get the cash, not overhead. What does that mean? It means that private organizations understand that funding funneled to overhead, meaning indirect costs that go to facilities and administration as opposed to equipment, lab supplies, researcher salaries, etc, are often wasted.

When governments redirect taxpayer-funded money to organizations working on scientific research, they are simply putting more money into the power structure of these universities and big conglomerates, strengthening administrators and already established scientists. Who loses? Young and motivated researchers who are willing to take on incredibly ground-breaking projects that may not require that much funding in the first place. If governments weren’t the sole provider of funds but the private sector, these researchers wouldn’t have to lobby universities for grants. Instead, they would have to simply prove their work is worth investing on in the open marketplace.

In an article for the Mises Institute, Dr. Michel Accad explains that once science became influenced by a “massive government stimulus program” in the 1970s, the funding inflation “greatly devalued the worth of individual papers.” Now, studies must be “peer-reviewed,” meaning they must be reevaluated by others in the same field and published in peer-review journals to be accepted.

But as we have learned with the Austrian theory of the business cycle, when access to funding (or credit) is easy, entrepreneurial malinvestment becomes a reality. When it comes to scientific research investment, inflated science funding may lead to “malscience,” or as Accad puts it, “scientific output that is not well coordinated to the needs of the scientific community, because this centralized funding cannot reflect the needs of those intended to ‘consume’ the product of the funded research.”

As you can see, if the advancement of sound science is what truly matters, then leaving it in the hands of governments means fueling malinvestment as opposed to allowing scientific research be carried out as a response to a real demand. If we do not allow this “boom” to wane, we will continue to see nothing but the strengthening of already established scientific hierarchies while denying researchers who are thirsty to make the world a better place a chance. Is that what we truly want?

‘War Machine:’ A Lesson In Intervention All Libertarians Must Cherish

in Liberator Online by Alice Salles Comments are off

‘War Machine:’ A Lesson In Intervention All Libertarians Must Cherish

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United States Army General Stanley McChrystal became infamous for resigning in shame after a report on Rolling Stone depicted him and his staff as highly critical of President Barack Obama. In the Netflix movie War Machine, McChrystal’s story becomes a tale of government folly abroad, where military men with views of grandeur attempt to mess with the lives of Afghans who want them out — no matter what.

warIn a post on his Facebook page, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) says the movie should be “mandatory for Congress to watch, particularly legislators hell bent on continuing/restarting the war in Afghanistan.” Without providing any spoilers, Paul touched on the very core subject of the movie.

Hiding behind a satirical rendition of McChrystal, the two-hour long flick is able to demonstrate, with visceral accuracy, just how utterly unproductive and destructive U.S. government’s interventions abroad can quickly become. By showing the viewer the demoralizing effect of a war against “common people” who don’t look or act like “insurgents,” the movie helps the public to have a better idea of what their tax dollars have been paying for since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

As many estimates claim both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars cost $4 trillion and $6 trillion, it’s difficult to watch War Machine and not ask ourselves why we were there in the first place.

As U.S. Marine Aaron O’Connell, the editor of Our Latest Longest War: Losing Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan, once stated, Americans spent a great deal of money “rebuilding” Afghanistan, only to have these efforts wasted in a short period of time.

During an interview with NPR, O’Connell gave a simple example of this phenomena:

“So we’ve spent billions building roads in Afghanistan, but we then turned the roads over to the Afghans in 2013. We trained up a maintenance unit so that it could provide for road maintenance, and nothing has happened since then. Now, today, more than half of the roads are deemed unfit for heavy traffic. And as one taxi driver put it in 2014 – things have gotten so much worse, now if we drive too fast, everyone in the car dies.”

When it comes to foreign policy, government intervention is very similar to intervention in domestic policies.

Government bureaucrats sit and think up a plan to “change” something or “make something better.” Then they pass legislation or simply pull some strings to get their views implemented. Unfortunately, their plan often backfires, simply because not one nor 100 bureaucrats have the knowledge that people on the ground, living those problems daily, have. As a result, the intervention turns into a mess that ends up harming more than it helps — no matter how well-intentioned.

As Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek once elaborated, “allocating scarce resources requires knowledge dispersed among many people.” Because access to this knowledge is impossible to any government body, interventions of any kind are bound to be disastrous.

In Afghanistan, we learned that much, except bureaucrats, are at it again, trying to revive the war sentiment even in Afghanistan.

As Paul stated, it might serve them well to watch War Machine, but not for the comedy alone. Instead of seeing the movie as satire, they must remember that what is depicted in the Brad Pitt-produced film is as far away from fiction as they can possibly imagine.

‘Old-Timey’ Jobs Are Back, And Gentrification Has Nothing To Do With It

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

 ‘Old-Timey’ Jobs Are Back, And Gentrification Has Nothing To Do With It

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

The Wall Street Journal published a piece stating that certain forgotten and despised professions are making a comeback in urban centers like Portland, Brooklyn, and Pittsburgh.

According to the WSJ, “gentrification” is causing young, educated workers to choose to take on jobs that had been seen as low-status, semi-manual professions, turning them into what sociologist Richard Ocejo calls “glamorous occupations.”

jobs

As young men and women leave college to work as butchers, craft brewers, bookbinders, furniture makers, and bartenders, Ocejo argues that young people are drawn to these jobs as a reaction to “the ephemerality of the digital age.” But what Ocejo seems to forget is that, as the education industry is inflated with an artificial demand mostly ignited by government-backed grants and easy loans, young people who were told they should go to college no matter what often leave universities absolutely unsure of what they will be doing next.

Sometimes, they look for jobs in their fields but a lack of success makes them desperate. Sometimes, they abandon what they studied for years in a heartbeat, choosing to do odd jobs and then settle, doing something that is both accessible and financially sustainable, but not overly complicated.

That’s why there are so many restaurant workers with college degrees. So many bartenders, baristas, and fishmongers who never even glanced at their credential again. Not because they may have been born to take on those occupations, but because they wouldn’t have gone to college if they hadn’t been told they should have.

When the government adopts policies that offer individuals extra incentives to take on a particular task, eliminating the upfront cost to obtain a certain degree, it eliminates the individual’s willingness to establish him or herself as their own person, fighting and working hard for whatever it is they wish to do or be.

By facilitating college education to the point that anyone can have a degree, no matter how low their performance might be, governments are harming these individuals. After all, not everyone truly wants a college education, but they might not be compelled to go find out for their own because who would turn down “free” money?

Just like not all of us were born to be doctors, many of us prefer occupations that involve skills better learned at an apprenticeship program or in a trade school. Others learn their craft entirely on their own, by watching online classes or studying at their own pace at home.

By inflating the demand for college degrees, bureaucrats are doing nothing but to inflate the cost of a college education while forcing young men and women into a life of debt. Instead of serving as a guide, college becomes a burden, putting the young and the educated in despair mode. Many move back with their parents while others choose to change their lives completely, taking on jobs they would have never imagined taking.

Instead of gentrification, what has been driving these young men and women into “unwanted” professions” is nothing but circumstance, as they leave college with little to no professional experience and no idea of what they are going to do to pay their student loans. In other words, they are being driven toward anything they can do thanks in part to government’s involvement with the higher education business.

 

Obama Era Rule Expansion Could Finally Kill The Fourth Amendment

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

Obama Era Rule Expansion Could Finally Kill The Fourth Amendment

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

Just before President Barack Obama left office, his administration gave President Donald Trump’s administration the best parting gift a power thirsty official could have asked for: More access to innocent Americans’ private information.

Fourth AmendmentAfter Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on innocent Americans without due process, the country — and the world — learned that the U.S. government prefers to collect the haystack before looking for the needle. As the debate surrounding privacy rights heated up due to this revelation, others dismissed the reports, saying that those who have nothing to hide should have nothing to fear.

As a counterargument, privacy advocates pointed out that officials don’t need to do their jobs correctly to bust someone for a crime they didn’t commit if they have data.

With data, these advocates would explain, officials can tell a story, even if you had nothing to do with a certain crime.

Now, the Trump administration has the power to make use of the data collected by the NSA even more widely, since Obama gave sixteen federal agencies access to the agency’s database.

These agencies include the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

While the government says that the collected communications available via the NSA are “masked” to protect the identity of innocent Americans, several government officials have the authority to demand unrestricted access. And what’s worse, Congress is now working hard to expand this information sharing system with a series of other agencies.

Thanks to Rep. John Katko (R-NY), HR 2169, or the Improving Fusion Centers’ Access to Information Act, may change the rules so that more agencies under the DHS control have the same access to NSA’s database, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). If flying hadn’t been made nearly unbearable thanks to the sexual harassment that comes along with going through airport security, the TSA is about to get even more invasive by combing through information provided by the NSA and doing what it pleases with it — unless HR 2169 gets booted.

To privacy advocates, this bill would only do more damage to America’s already fragile civil liberties protections. Instead of keeping government officials and workers from having more reasons to abuse their power, this new rule expansion would put more Americans at risk of having their rights violated for entirely new reasons.

If the Fourth Amendment still means anything in this country, it might as well die an agonizing and definite death if Katko’s bill gets to the president’s desk. Are we ready for more TSA and ICE scandals?

New York’s ‘Worker Protection’ Laws Will Only Hurt Workers

in Business and Economy, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

New York’s ‘Worker Protection’ Laws Will Only Hurt Workers

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

Politicians cannot create value, and neither can governments. Still, voters are often the first ones to admit they chose a particular candidate because he or she promised to “create jobs.” With both conservative-leaning and progressive-leaning Americans making the case for government-sponsored programs that create more jobs, it’s easy to ignore the role of basic economics. After all, knowing economics in depth means that you understand that you cannot create jobs out of thin air. What you can create instead is value, and the only way to do so is by having government get out of the way completely.

Workers

In an environment where individuals are free to start businesses by basing their decisions on the demands of consumers, jobs are created out of a real necessity. By responding to an actual market need, employers then offer potential employees the opportunity to trade their labor for wages, which in turn will help them better their standard of living. As Robert Fellner wrote for the Mises Institute, “wages spring directly from, and are proportional to, the degree in which a job creates wealth by helping to satisfy an unmet need.” Or in other words, wages are the product of the wealth creation process triggered by a service or product created to meet the market’s demands.

When government attempts to “create jobs” and stipulate wages artificially by passing minimum wage laws, they are neither creating these positions out of a real necessity to meet a market demand nor raising standards of living by creating value. Instead, government-sponsored job creation is often the result of taxpayer-backed projects, which are in turn managed by central planners with little to no knowledge of market demands. And by increasing restrictions on the productive sector of the economy with minimum wage laws or other restrictive policies, the government takes the businessman’s freedom to give low-skilled individuals a chance at being employed, learning a trade and perhaps going on to take jobs in the future that offer higher wages.

 The new law also stipulates that workers may not work without breaks of at least 11 hours between shifts.

Needless to say, this new law will only hurt workers who are often the first to take on extra shifts and are willing to cover for colleagues due to an abrupt schedule change — not the employer. These individuals will be forced to take on extra side gigs to make ends meet instead of simply working more hours for their current employers.

If anti-poverty advocates were honest about helping those in need, they wouldn’t demand government do “something” about creating new jobs or raising wages artificially. Instead, they would look at the only viable way of actually helping the greatest number of people possible: the free market.

Why Won’t The U.S. Ever End Its Cozy Relationship With Saudi Arabia?

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

Why Won’t The U.S. Ever End Its Cozy Relationship With Saudi Arabia?

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

Saudi Arabia has been in the news a lot lately. It was in the oil-rich kingdom that President Donald Trump started his Middle East trip and it was in the country’s capital, Riyadh, that the president urged the Muslim nations to unite against terrorism.

Saudi Arabia But as the president condemned Iran for its sponsorship of terrorism, vowing to stand by our ally, Saudi Arabia, not one mention of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Saudi kingdom was uttered. The president was also mum about the kingdom’s well-documented support for terrorism.

But even more importantly, the president failed to mention what has, over the years, kept the United States and the Saudi kingdom so closely connected. As a man who prides himself on being a nationalist, he should know that this relationship has disproportionately helped the Saudis while all the U.S. has gotten in return is that the oil-rich nation and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member continues to sell its petroleum in dollars.

In a 2014 piece, the founder and president of the Carl Menger Center Paul-Martin Foss explained that President Richard Nixon’s 1971 decision to cancel the convertibility of the U.S. dollar to gold brought the president to the Saudi kingdom for a very important meeting.

During his stay, Nixon and the House of Saud struck a deal, making the Middle East nation the “anchor of the petrodollar system.” For as long as Saudi Arabia would make its deals in dollars, America would promise to protect the nation militarily.

As it turned out, Nixon appears to have been afraid that closing the gold window would devalue the dollar — and he was right! But he figured that as long as the dollar was being used by nations purchasing and selling oil internationally, its core value would remain strong. With this deal, Nixon guaranteed America would continue experimenting with inflation without care while giving Saudi Arabia a strong military ally.

Fast forward to 2017: As Trump stands before the Saudi kingdom and the press, telling them how devoted he is to remain their partner, he promises to cut taxes like never before at home while increasing defense spending.

Will Trump, or any other president for that matter, ever recognize Nixon’s deal as the very reason why the U.S. remains blindly devoted to a country with such a terrible reputation? Probably not. Is it shameful that mainstream news outlets never report on this obscure piece of history? You bet.

Trump Praises Drug Warrior Duterte, Becoming The First US President To Be Honest About The Drug War’s Perverted Roots

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

Trump Praises Drug Warrior Duterte, Becoming The First US President To Be Honest About The Drug War’s Perverted Roots

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

Before becoming the president, candidate Donald Trump gave anti-drug war activists a sliver of hope.

DuterteWhen Merry Jane magazine ran an article saying the business mogul was more likely to help legalization advocates, in the long run, it based its argument on his past interviews.

Before running for president, Trump heroically attacked the drug war as a whole, Merry Jane reminded its readers, saying that to win the war, we should put an end to it. Unfortunately, President Trump seems to disagree with business mogul Trump — at least that’s what a recent conversation between him and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte suggests.

During the phone call, Trump allegedly congratulated Duterte on the “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Furthermore, he said, “many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing.”

Unlike the business mogul, President Trump seems taken by excitement with the idea that a country like the Philippines isn’t just slaughtering anyone suspected of being involved in the commerce of drugs. Inspired by their president’s encouragement, many vigilantes and police officers are simply gunning down users and addicts in the streets, sometimes in front of the whole neighborhood and with no due process.

Officially, only a little over 2,000 people in the Philippines have been gunned down by cops this way, but vigilantes appear to also be doing the dirty work so that nobody keeps count. And it’s this type of horrific approach to the drug “problem” that got the U.S. president overjoyed.

In America, killings aren’t happening as often, but thanks to U.S. laws targeting use and commerce of drugs, many otherwise non-violent and productive individuals are wasting their lives away in jail. Perhaps, when Trump shows praise for Duterte, he is only being honest; a  first for a U.S. president ever since the drug war was officially launched by President Richard Nixon.

At the time, the administration claimed the drug war was about an ongoing public health crisis. Later, the crusade became much more violent, with presidents and advocates saying it was all about public safety. As this war became militarized, with surplus equipment from U.S. interventions abroad falling in the hands of local police departments, it also became bloodier. But as these same presidents stood there, defending the war on drugs, they also condemned brutal shows of violence abroad.

As they intervene in foreign countries’ affairs in the name of democracy, they even impose sanctions on countries that impose brutal sentences on alleged criminals. But not once has any of these elected presidents admitted how absolutely immoral, bloody, and insane U.S. drug war truly is.

When Trump congratulates Duterte for doing what we see happening in America fairly regularly, he’s at least showing how sickly perverted politicians and their policies are instead of trying to dress up the anti-drug crusade as a quixotic pursuit for health and safety for all. And for that, Trump deserves praise.

But not his policies or Duterte’s, though. After all, individuals own their bodies and only they have a say in what they will put in it — not bureaucrats or police officers.

 

California Deputies Caught Selling Stolen Marijuana On The Side

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

California Deputies Caught Selling Stolen Marijuana On The Side

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

The drug war is a disaster on many levels, especially because it ignores the most basic principle there is, that the individual owns his body and only he has the right to do with it as he pleases.

marijuanaBut the drug war is also a failure when it comes to helping bring an end to violent crime, which stems from the black market created precisely because of the existence of restrictive laws concerning drug commerce and use in the first place.

And as it turns out, the disastrous war on drugs has also failed law enforcement, by giving officers incentives to be corrupt.

In California, two former Kern County deputies pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. What’s worse, they did so by abusing their positions within the law enforcement agency.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Logan August, 30, and Derrick Penney, 34, conspired with an informant for the police to steal marijuana that had been seized during investigations.

Once stolen marijuana was in their hands, August and Penney would then trim it then deliver it to one of their confidential informants who would then sell the stolen property. The proceeds were shared with August and Penney, along with another accomplice.

The instances involving theft and the distribution of marijuana happened more often, officials found, as an additional 25 pounds of marijuana had been stolen by the deputies.

The fact August served as a “peace officer” assigned to a narcotics unit helped, as he spent the period between March and December 2014 participating in marijuana-related operations.

According to the DOJ, he stole marijuana on at least ten separate occasions.

After this embarrassment to Kern County, officers involved in this scheme will spend only 5 years in jail for selling marijuana — not for stealing private property.

When laws meant to make us “safer” end up creating incentives for law enforcers to become criminals, you bet that they are also creating a lot of perverted incentives to those being hunted down by the police.

When government pushes a particular practice or substance into the shadows, they are also giving individuals incentives to distort the markets. Instead of working to beat the competition by providing better services and goods, they resort to simply killing their competitors, literally or figuratively by sabotaging their business. Corrupt law enforcement agents like the two deputies in Kern County saw a way to benefit from it, despite the fact they had sworn to uphold the law at all costs.

Ending the war on drugs is the only way to put an end to this vicious cycle.

 

What Aetna’s Decision To Leave Obamacare Proves

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What Aetna’s Decision To Leave Obamacare Proves

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

When it comes to government policies, we seldom see initiatives looking into undoing what has been done.

AetnaAs the health care bill supported by President Donald Trump makes its way to the Senate after being passed by the House of Representatives, many remind the public that the bill isn’t ideal. Not because it doesn’t bring a complete end to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as we know it. But instead, critics suggest that the new proposals simply do not go far enough by not bringing an end to the federal government’s involvement with the health insurance business.

Government officials have, for the most part, created a rise in health care costs by trying to address the consequences of their policies by enacting more restrictions and regulations.

By selectively intervening in the health care market, government generates more unanticipated difficulties, as economist Ludwig von Mises once wrote. As politicians are pressed to “do something” to address the issues brought up by intervention, they come up with new interventionist policies, thus never bringing an end government’s involvement in the business of providing care.

A perfect example of an unintended consequence caused by further meddling with the health insurance industry is Aetna’s recent decision to pull out completely from the Obamacare individual market for 2018.

According to the company, its participation in the Obamacare exchange is costing them money. More precisely, the company is projected to lose around $225 million this year. In 2014 through 2016, Aetna lost $700 million from its exchange plan businesses.

Some of the issues that have been to blame for these losses include a poor balance between sick and healthy customers purchasing plans through the exchange. As a result, premium rates have gone up 25 percent this year, forcing more Americans to remain uninsured, proving that every time the government gets involved with health policy, it stifles choice, hurting those who need the care the most: the patient.

Another problem caused by government’s requirements concerning mandatory insurance purchase is the lack of access to actual care.

As the insured notice that it becomes ever more expensive to have access to doctors because of the high co-pays, they fail to seek the care they require.

Seeing this trend and feeling the pressure to see more patients for less cash, many doctors have decided to skip the nightmare altogether by leaving the insurance market and by offering personalized care instead. The movement has prompted a series of doctors to turn to direct primary care for the solution, offering patients care in privately-run clinics in exchange for a monthly payment that often pales in comparison to what an individual would pay an insurance company.

By saying no to insurers, these doctors and patients are also saying no to suffocating regulations.

Perhaps, if more of these businesses are launched, health insurance companies as we know them will become obsolete, forcing the government to finally step away from messing with healthcare policy altogether.

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