October 19

central planners: the smartest people in the world

central planners are the smartest people in the world. the central planner of the U.S. – Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Fed – knows exactly what I, as well as 300 million other people, are going to do with our money!

or not. earlier this year, I had a discussion with a friend about how, later this year, we would see inflation due to the massive amount of money that would have to be printed to compensate for the trillions in bailouts and other imaginary money the Fed was going to create. he argued that central economic planning was a good thing because it evens out the highs and lows in the economy, so that we don’t have depressions, and recessions aren’t so bad, etc.

theoretically, he was right. it would be great to be able to smooth out the economy! the problem is, nobody on this earth could ever understand the spending patterns of even a handful of other random people, yet alone of 300 million. throw on top of that the fact that central planners must be totally incorruptible – that is, they must never make decisions that would unfairly benefit themselves or anyone else. if such a human being exists, I assure you, they will not be working a government job.

until the U.S. economy was centrally planned, the value of the dollar had not really deviated since it was created. however, since the Fed was reinstated in the early 1900s, the dollar has lost 95% of its value. tell me – is the Fed doing its job?

recently, the DOW hit 10,000. great! within the same week, gold hit an all-time high against the dollar. to give a quick economics lesson, gold is still the “unofficial” international standard – when gold rises in USD, the value of the USD has dropped, since it requires more USD to purchase the same amount of gold. what this means is that the actual value of the DOW today as compared to another year is roughly equal to (today’s DOW * (gold then / gold today)). the value of the DOW today, only 5 years ago, would be only at 4,000 (it was actually at 10,000 then). the dollar has lost 60% of its value in half of one decade. yes, all this to say two words: massive inflation. tell me – is the Fed doing its job?

basically, the concept of central planners means that they not only know how I should spend my money (better than I do), but that they know how I will spend my money (better than I do!). and on that notion, I would have to disagree. I hope you would too.

[Bailout and Stimulus] spending will only stimulate sectors of the economy that are failing. This is like trying to rid the world of gravity by throwing things up in the air. – Ron Paul

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October 4

in response to a statist, on healthcare

the following is a copy of comments left on my YouTube video socialized healthcare implications, reality, and solutions – first by another user, then my response. after I posted my response 2 weeks ago, he went back and removed a number of his comments (many of them pertaining to a misguided allegory between car insurance and health insurance), but here’s what remained.

Youre very fortunate not to have experienced the worse of the health care industry, but thats the problem. While many have found themselves in situations where they developed an illness while insured (by lets say their job) then lose that coverage (lets say they were laid off or moved), now they run the risk of being denied treatment or even coverage because they couldnt stay with their old provider. Not enough of you have had this experience, but if and when you do, youll be happy know that theres an indiscriminate insurance provider that will offer you coverage even if youve had cancer before. The Government. May I suggest that you read up on Mr. Lee Einer and what he was hired by health insurance companies to do.

the problem I have with your logic is that it takes all responsibility away from the courts. if the contract between the individual and the insurance company stated that the insurance could be terminated due to such a circumstance, the individual should have taken the responsibility of a) being informed and b) meeting any preexisting stipulations so this situation could not lawfully arise. now, if the courts do not lawfully enforce the contract, then they are at fault, and the problem is not with the healthcare system but with the inability of the insurance companies to be held accountable to the individual. if on the other hand the courts DO uphold the contracts, then the fault is on the individual for not fully understanding the contract they willfully signed. creating a government safety net serves only to accelerate the latter circumstance, as well as to rob people of their property. a co-op plan would make the most sense to me, however, NOT a state-run one. people should be free to voluntarily enter any co-op (across state lines) and do business with any insurance companies they please. the state does not need to be involved in order for this to be effective (quite the opposite in fact), there are numerous non-public nonprofits. this is why the answer is not MORE government, but less. we have not seen a truly free market in a century or two, but if we returned to one, costs would have no choice but to return to normal levels (this is why insurance companies lobby for MORE regulations – more taxpayer money for them). I have read the article on Lee Einer before, and certainly, corporate corruption is despicable – I am no “fan” of corporations per se. let me remind you that any individual is free to start their own insurance company should the existing options not fulfill the needs of the public (ah, capitalism), AND, no individual is forced into any contract with any insurance company (YET). let me also remind you that your solution is to take power from one group of greedy men and give it to another group of (not greedy?) politicians. I would like to return fire a suggestion to read “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins, if you have not already. it is a brilliant example of how we must never rely on corporations nor government, as both are ruled by greedy, powerful, and corrupt men. the responsibility of the individual is infinitely more important than the responsibility of the state. this is key to the health of our Republic.

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September 15

civil disobedients and the neo-hippie movement

right this moment, something exciting is happening in New Hampshire. it’s nothing groundbreaking, dangerous, or particularly thrilling, but it is illegal. at exactly 11:00 PM this evening, some people… get this… entered a park.

you see, entering a park past 11:00 PM in the city of Manchester is illegal; there is an ordinance against it. but more and more every day, everyday citizens are engaging in that activity which Henry David Thoreau coined a century and a half ago, civil disobedience. it’s called the Liberty Movement, and it’s growing particularly strongly and quickly in New Hampshire, in the form of the Free State Project.

yes, these civil disobedients take issue with the government telling them what to do, from the streets to the courtroom. but they are not just talk, they are all action, routinely defying what they deem as overreaching statutes of their governing bodies. here are some examples:

  • after walking around on the streets and freely discussing the topic with passersby for hours, a man walked into a police station while conspicuously carrying a bag of marijuana and asked to speak to the police about why it was illegal – they did not approach him after 30 minutes, so he left
  • this woman gets 10 points for full participation in a topless open carry (the first of its kind that I know of), arguing that if a man had the right to do it, so should a woman – after the police argued with her to return to a shirt, she was booked
  • last but certainly not least, everyone has heard of William Kostric, who gave a boost to the Liberty movement when he legally but quite controversially wore a sidearm to a Presidential event – when numerous news stations attempted to grill him over the topic, most notably Hardball, his eloquent and well-thought-out answers changed minds across the nation

it is the new hippie movement, full of minarchists and anarchists. and it makes a guy like me smile.

of course, when I want to see some hippies, all I have to do is make a trip over to Athens :)

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August 19

Health Care: Right or Privilege?

the following is a letter of opinion written by my father today in response to a letter of opinion in the local paper: Is universal health care a right or a privilege for Americans?

I read with interest the letter from Mr. John Murphy of Franklin, and would like to share some thoughts on this subject. On many of the points raised, Mr. Murphy and I would agree: the populace is very anxious and untrusting of our government, and rightly so. It does seem that our country has been slowly strolling toward Socialism for decades, and now we are at a full sprint. Policies that would have been unthinkable to our founding fathers have been slowly but surely by small increments passed into law, and today the concepts of individualism have given way to a victim mentality, where even those who know and understand the history of our country, as well as the history of Socialism, have a sense that it is permissible to take “from each according to his ability” and give the product of his time and effort “to each according to his need”.

Our Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” This indicates that rights are given by our Creator, not by our governing officials. If our representatives are elected by us, and are conceptually our paid employees, then how on earth does it fall to them to “allow” us to have certain rights or not, as they might deem appropriate? How are we to know what the “unalienable rights” are? I would submit that they include but are definitely not limited to things like the right to bear and raise children, own property, eat as we please, and worship God. Does this sound ridiculous? Are there countries where these rights are suppressed by governments? Absolutely! Which countries are these? Countries ruled by Socialism, Fascism, and Communism. Given to men by the Creator, these rights still exist in those countries, but are suppressed, and acting on those rights is punishable.

As Americans we also have specific rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, including the rights to free speech, to keep and bear arms, to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure, and to trial by jury, among others. Note that the Ninth Amendment mentions other rights “retained by the people”. While these rights are intentionally not specified, they are generally assumed to include such ideas as the right to travel, and the right to presumption of innocence, and similar ideas that seem to fit in well with the “unalienable rights” discussed above.

How then is a privilege defined? “A special advantage, immunity, or benefit not enjoyed by all, or that may be enjoyed only under special conditions.” Who determines societal privileges? We, the people do this, en masse, by setting up powers and authorities who we hope will represent our best interests as a group, in other words, government. As they should, governing bodies grant privileges to law-abiding citizens, and deny privileges (and even some rights) to those who are found by their peers not to have conformed to our laws. The privilege of driving a vehicle can be restricted by a finding of unlawful behavior. Nationally, an estimated 5.3 million Americans are denied the right to vote because of laws that prohibit voting by people with felony convictions. The worst offenders among us may even be denied the right to Life by our penal system, and many would agree that our government has an obligation to the law-abiding to deny some privileges and some rights to some who violate our laws. So, privileges are granted by the people to the people.

Where does health care fall in this continuum? It does not enter this arena at all, whatsoever. Why? Because the health care industry is just that, an industry, comprised of thousands of independent businesses, large and small. Does your neighbor have the authority to force you to give to him the property which you own? Absolutely not. Does the government have the authority to force any private business, owned by people like ourselves, to now operate in a way dictated by another who has no ownership of that business? Absolutely not, and if you disagree, please show me the Constitutional article, section, or amendment from which that authority derives. Health care is neither a right nor a privilege, but a commodity which is able to be purchased from a business entity, in the same way that one would purchase a loaf of bread or an automobile. What gives our government the authority to dictate to the seller of bread to whom he must sell and for what price? If we can’t afford the bread, we can make our own bread, but we can’t ask the government to force the baker to give us the bread! Like it or not, health care is exactly identical. If we can’t afford it (or just don’t care to buy it!), then we go without it, just as we would do without anything else we can’t afford. There are faith-based organizations and benevolent charities who can and will help those who need care, and if the people of this country were not so incredibly overtaxed, we would have more disposable income with which to help our own family members and to give to those charities as well.

I could continue indefinitely, but I believe that this is where we should begin. Primarily and immediately, keep the government out of our business and our businesses, including health care. Get them out of the businesses they’re already in which can be done by private enterprise. Lower our taxes so we the people can help our families and friends in need. Anytime the government, on any level, attempts to pass a bill into law, require a reference to the Constitutional article or amendment which would give them the authority to pass that bill into law. Finally, free enterprise and the capitalistic system always work to provide the best product for the best price, anytime and anywhere, without exception, when that system is allowed to operate free of government intervention, and especially so when done under the influence of Christian Scriptural principles. These facts are what made our country the strongest and most vibrant economy in the world in an amazingly short span of time. If we continue to walk away from these ideals, there is no doubt but that our freedoms and liberties, as well as our rights and privileges, will soon be nonexistent.

Yours truly,

Tom Fretts

July 22

socialized healthcare – implications, reality, and solutions

in President Obama’s latest weekly address, he basically claims that insurance companies are not standing up to their end of the deal and paying for certain medicines/surgeries/care that they are obligated to. I contend that, if this is the case, why not hold them liable in court, as we do in every other sector? for example, if a dealer sells me a new car that breaks the next day, and they don’t uphold the warranty, should I expect the government to fix it for free? no, I would take the company to court so that they must uphold their contract. the health industry should be no different. it’s important to note that the courts must actually impel the company to fulfill their obligation – companies breaking the law should be fined accordingly until it either bankrupts them or they start behaving. if the courts do not do this, the onus is on them, and they must be reformed – but it should not lead us to lean on The State to fill the gap.

on the other hand, if the reason that insurance companies don’t pay for certain medicines/surgeries/etc is that they are NOT obligated to, then they are running their business as they should – just as a car insurance company would not be contractually obligated to pay for a home that was destroyed. therefore, the individual is responsible for knowing what their insurance plan does and does not cover, and then deciding whether they wish to continue paying for that plan.

now, since I suspect that many times the reason insurance companies don’t pay for certain things is because they are NOT obligated to, socialized (single payer) healthcare does an interesting thing – it passes that obligation on to you, me, and other taxpayers. it comes to your house and says, “hey Calen – this man needs care he can’t afford – so you’re going to pay for it. that’s right, cough up the money! what’s that? you don’t want to pay for him? how’s prison sound! what’s that? you don’t want to go to prison? BANG. YOU’RE DEAD.”

of course that sounds dramatic, but in a nutshell, that’s how it actually works. my point is this: accountability and responsibility should be on the individual needing care (or their family if need be, or charities, or the Church), but not on The State, which is really just the rest of the taxpaying People. one citizen should never feel entitled to another citizen’s property, and when you look at socialized healthcare (and Medicare/Medicaid) in a cut and dry sense, that’s exactly what you have.

a lot of people argue that hey, many people have a pre-existing condition and can’t get health insurance now. we can equate this to buying a car and driving it around uninsured for a few years. finally you get in an accident, and you’re stuck with the bill. you could try to get insurance on the car at this point, but good luck finding a company to take you up on that! insurance is not supposed to be this thing that people run to when they need healthcare and it magically hands out medicine to them. it is a hedge against your odds of eventually needing it – you pay in when you’re healthy and it pays out when you’re sick.

now, the only logical way to afford socialized healthcare is to tax the People (or borrow and increase the debt, or print money, both of which are hidden taxes). neither of these is desired, or, at this point, affordable. the solution is to keep The State’s hands totally off of the healthcare industry (other than to enforce contracts, as stated above). when this happens, the People who are for using their taxes to help the poor can instead donate the couple hundred dollars to a charity (or individual) of their choice, if they so choose. in this way, we put accountability and responsibility on the People (where it belongs), we preserve choice, and we endorse freedom of contract, the strongest base of a free Republic.

If you protect a man from folly, you will soon have a nation of fools.

– William Penn