Jul 022014
 

On Thursday’s Philosophy in Action Radio, I’ll discuss the “three languages of politics” with my own Paul Hsieh. The concept is not original to Paul, but rather the work of economist Arnold Kling.

If you’re at all interested in politics and political debate, you’ll surely profit from our discussion. If you’re like Paul and me, you’ll find that the “three languages” reframes your whole view of political debates in America today. Plus, that conceptual framework helps you become a more sympathetic listener to other people’s political views — and more persuasive in discussions with them — very quickly. That seems like a win to me!

If you’d like to read a bit about the three languages before or after Thursday’s interview, check out this podcast with Arnold Kling on EconTalk. Also, Kling’s monograph — aptly titled The Three Languages of Politics — is available on Amazon for just $1.99.

See you on Thursday evening!

Don’t Celebrate Political Polarization

 Posted by on 18 June 2014 at 10:00 am  Election, Politics, Polls
Jun 182014
 

From America’s growing political polarization:

Unfortunately, both Republicans and Democrats are ardent opponents of individual rights in various domains. That’s why I don’t regard America’s growing political polarization as a good trend. It limits our choices — and many people’s thinking — to “economic freedom (sort-of) plus theocratic social controls” versus “social freedom (sort-of) plus fascist economic controls.” Alas, the statist elements seem to be growing in both parties of late.

Instead, people need a clear choice of freedom versus statist controls in all areas of life. Nonetheless, the widening gap is fascinating… and there’s more in the Pew Study too. (The year-by-year animated graph is pretty nifty.) I’d just like to see data for more than 20 years!

 

My latest column is now available at Forbes: “What The US Can Learn From the Australian Health Care Debate“.

Here is the opening:

Is it fair to ask a patient to pay $6 for emergency medical care? Or are patients entitled to free medical care whenever they need it? That’s the question Australian government officials are currently grappling with.

As the Australian health care unfolds, there are two lessons for Americans — one political and one philosophical.

For more details, read the full text of “What The US Can Learn From the Australian Health Care Debate“.

Presidencies in One Line

 Posted by on 20 March 2014 at 11:00 am  Politics
Mar 202014
 

Here’s an interesting phenomenon, I think. Some statements by US Presidents have taken on the status of memes. They’re false statements made by the President that cynically summarize his character and policies.

For example:

  • Richard Nixon: “I am not a crook.”
  • George H W Bush: “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
  • Bill Clinton: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinski.”

What would you propose for Barack Obama? I’d say, without a doubt:

  • “If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance.”

That’s a pretty damn good summary of his two terms, I think.

Can you think of examples for other recent presidents? George W Bush? Ronald Reagan? Jimmy Carter?

 

Forbes has published my latest column: “Can You Trust What’s In Your Electronic Medical Record?

I discuss how government-mandated electronic medical records are hampering doctors’ ability to practice and resulting in medical errors. I also discuss 4 concrete steps patients can take to protect themselves.

I didn’t mention this in the Forbes piece, but there was a terrific drawing in the Journal of the American Medical Association from a couple of years ago by a 7-year old girl depicting her recent doctor visit. Even young children understand the effect of electronic medical records on their care:

No one was more surprised than the physician himself. The drawing was unmistakable. It showed the artist — a 7-year-old girl — on the examining table. Her older sister was seated nearby in a chair, as was her mother, cradling her baby sister. The doctor sat staring at the computer, his back to the patient — and everyone else. All were smiling. The picture was carefully drawn with beautiful colors and details, and you couldn’t miss the message…

 

Forbes has published my latest column, “How ObamaCare Creates Ethical Conflicts For Physicians And How Patients Can Protect Themselves“.

Here is the opening:

Do you trust your doctor? Most patients assume their doctor is working in their best medical interests whenever he or she orders a diagnostic test or recommends a particular treatment. Customers might wonder whether an unscrupulous auto mechanic is being truthful when he recommends a brake job or a new transmission. But most patients trust that their doctor isn’t recommending unnecessary surgeries merely to line his pockets.

The vast majority of doctors take their ethical responsibilities very seriously. Prior to ObamaCare, only a relatively few “bad apples” have chosen to compromise their professional ethics for financial gain. However, ObamaCare creates new ethical conflicts for doctors. We’ll examine some common physician conflicts of interest before and after ObamaCare, and discuss how patients can best protect themselves…

Prior to ObamaCare, physicians faced perverse incentives for overtreatment. Physicians might also be tempted to pad their income through inappropriate self-referral or business relationships such as “physician owned distributorships”.

After ObamaCare, physicians will face perverse incentives for undertreatment, especially with “bundled payments” and government “appropriate use criteria”.  The new “narrow networks” required by many ObamaCare exchange plans will exacerbate these issues:

To cut costs, many ObamaCare exchange plans also require “narrow networks” of providers, where patients may only receive treatment from a short list of approved hospitals and doctors. President Obama has repeatedly promised, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” but many patients are learning the hard way that this isn’t true.

Such “narrow networks” also mean that many doctors will lose long-standing relationships with patients they’ve seen for years. Instead, doctors will be increasingly reliant on the government-run exchanges for new patients. This will create a powerful incentive for physicians to adhere to any treatment guidelines mandated by the government or by government-approved insurance plans.

I also discuss several ways patients can protect themselves from these old and new physician conflicts of interest.

For more details, see the full text of “How ObamaCare Creates Ethical Conflicts For Physicians And How Patients Can Protect Themselves“.

[Crossposted from the FIRM blog.]

Jan 222014
 

I’m a bit late in blogging this news, but I’m delighted to report that the Institute for Justice has created a Food Freedom Initiative:

A new national initiative launched [November 19, 2013] by the Institute for Justice seeks to make sure the government stays out of some of the most personal decisions people make every day: What we eat and how we get our food. This nationwide campaign will bring property rights, economic liberty and free speech challenges to laws that dictate what Americans can grow, raise, eat or even talk about.

To kick off the initiative, IJ is today filing three separate lawsuits challenging Miami Shores, Florida’s ban on front-yard vegetable gardens; Minnesota’s severe restrictions on home bakers, or “cottage food” producers; and Oregon’s ban on the advertisement of raw–or unpasteurized–milk. Each case demonstrates how real the need for food freedom is in every corner of the country.

“More and more, the government is demanding a seat at our dining room tables, attempting to dictate what we put on our plates, in our glasses and, ultimately, in our bodies,” said Michael Bindas, an IJ senior attorney who heads up the new initiative. “The National Food Freedom Initiative will end government’s meddlesome and unconstitutional interference in our food choices so that Americans can once again know true food freedom.”

  • IJ is challenging Miami Shores’ front-yard vegetable garden ban in state court on behalf of Herminie Ricketts and Tom Carroll, a married couple who grew vegetables on their own property for their own consumption for nearly two decades before Miami Shores officials ordered them to tear up the very source of their sustenance or face fines of $50 per day. Learn more about their case: www.ij.org/FlVeggies.
  • Minnesota allows food entrepreneurs to make certain inherently safe foods–such as baked goods–in home kitchens, but it: (1) prohibits their sale anywhere other than farmers’ markets and community events; and (2) limits revenues to $5,000 per year. Violating these restrictions can lead to fines of up to $7,500 or up to 90 days in jail. IJ is challenging these restrictions under the Minnesota Constitution on behalf of cottage food entrepreneurs Jane Astramecki and Mara Heck. Learn more about their case at: www.ij.org/MNCottageFoods.
  • In Oregon, it is legal for small farmers to sell raw milk, but they are flatly forbidden from advertising it. If they do advertise their milk, they face a fine of $6,250 and civil penalties as high as $10,000–plus one year in jail. IJ is challenging this ban under the First Amendment on behalf of farmer Christine Anderson of Cast Iron Farm. Learn more about Christine’s case at: www.ij.org/ORMilk.

These three cases raise important constitutional questions that show how meddlesome government has become in our food choices: Can government really prohibit you from peacefully and productively using your own property to feed your family? Can government really restrict how many cakes a baker sells and where she sells them? Can government really ban speech about a legal product like raw milk? The answer is no.

IJ’s President and General Counsel, Chip Mellor, said, “For 22 years, IJ has been on the forefront of protecting Americans’ property rights, economic liberty and freedom of speech. With our National Food Freedom Initiative, IJ will now bring that experience to bear in the most fundamental area–food–so that Americans can be truly free to produce, market, procure and consume the foods of their choice.”

If you care about your access to foods of your own choosing and the rights of food producers to engage in voluntary trade, please consider donating to IJ! IJ is extremely effective and principled in their advocacy of liberty, and I know that my donor dollars are going to very good use.

P.S. With this initiative, the Institute for Justice is tackling a really important and growing aspect of statism in a way that resonates with ordinary Americans. They’re doing so on the basis of sound principles and facts, and they’re likely to effect change through the courts and public outreach. In contrast, ARI’s only activity in this area has been a series of propagandistic blog posts in defense of GMOs by an astrophysicist without an adequate understanding of relevant principles of biology. Basically, ARI’s approach seems little better than what Christian Wernstedt satirized here: The Tragedy of Milkia®: The Luddite Attack Against Industrial Dairy Progress. For this reason and about a hundred others, I’m glad that my donor dollars have long gone elsewhere, particularly to IJ.

 

Forbes has just published my latest column: “Obamacare Spends ‘Other People’s Money’ To Make Healthcare Expensive And Scarce“.

I discuss 4 dangers of a health system based on spending ‘Other People’s Money’.  In other words, it’s not just that the money will run out some day!

Those dangers include:

1) Doctors will be increasingly expected to save money “for the system”

2) This will further fuel the nanny state

3) Health benefits will become increasingly politicized

4) Sooner or later, government spending Other People’s Money means the government taking your money

I also discuss how to avoid these problems.

(And many thanks to Ray Niles for finding that great Walter Williams quote.)

 

Alas, yes:

The Affordable Relationship Protection Act

 Posted by on 20 November 2013 at 10:00 am  Funny, Love/Sex, Medicine, Politics
Nov 202013
 

Chris Land posted this to Facebook yesterday, and it’s too awesome not to share:

Announcing the AFFORDABLE RELATIONSHIP PROTECTION ACT

Looking for a romantic partner takes time, energy and money. Sadly, many American adults are currently unrelationshipped. Who can they turn to in need? To whichever institution is in the best position to help, that’s who!

A few years after the passage of the Affordable Relationship Protection Act, the website YourLoveMatch.gov will go live. Unrelationshipped adults can then create an online profile with the help of specially funded Coaches. Based on your individual selection criteria, an exciting new partner will be assigned in 4-6 weeks. Love at last!

To provide the necessary funding, all adults will be required to set up an account or face a small penalty (this is not a tax unless it needs to be for legal reasons). Those already in a relationship will be required to register that relationship. Government is what we do together.

IF YOU LIKE YOUR PARTNER, YOU CAN KEEP YOUR PARTNER. Any significant changes (like change of job or residence or a new tattoo) will require re-registration. Approval will be routine unless you’ve selected a substandard partner. In those rare cases, your new partner will be a big improvement!

Sure there will be a few bugs to work out. A few kinks, some bumps in the road. But let’s all keep the end goal – happy relationships for everyone! – firmly in mind. Anyone against this WANTS people to be unhappy. Stride forward, comrades! Forward to the future!

I’m looking forward to upgrading my substandard partner soon! Sure, I’ll have to pay a bit more, but I’ll get something much better, right? Right?!?

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha