Well, health care reform is now a fact in America. The President has promised to make big changes to the way business is done in this country. He promised to reduce the deficit, make colleges more affordable, and freeze governmental spending for three years in 2011 among many other things. My biggest worry after listening to the President’s address several weeks ago was not that these amazing changes would not take place, but rather that they would.
For me, the scariest thing in this bill is making colleges more affordable to a wider range of people. The bill outlines plans for making community colleges more affordable, tuition for colleges in general be brought down, lending companies forgiving college debts after 20 years or 10 years if the person works in Public Service, and cutting the middle man when it comes to the handling of student loans.
This might be alarmist, but I’m becoming convinced that, since these measures are put in place, we will see the death of the private college institution. If community colleges, which are already cheaper than most private schools, are given a helping hand by the government more people will flock to these schools than the private ones. Given the fact that teachers are under-paid as is, a decrease in tuition for colleges will mean a possible decrease in professor’s salaries, which might lead to a decline in people seeking employment in teaching.
Of course, lending companies make their money by the interest rates they charge. What happens when these lending companies are then given a time frame to make back their investments? My guess would be they will chase those they lend to more doggedly and perhaps even raising interest rates even higher. They may even begin to only loan to those who they know can repay the loan, leaving others out of money for college.
However, the most alarming part of the bill is that lending institutions and banks will be cut completely out of the student loaning process. Instead, the government will be handing money to students directly. The reason this alarms me is that by giving students the money directly, the government will be paying money to private religious institutions. All it will take is one person to make the connection, faulty or otherwise, that this is a violation of the separation of Church and State. I believe we’ll be only one ACLU lawsuit away from the death of religious colleges and universities.
Stop cheering Bill Maher.
Like I said, this may sound alarmist, but I honestly do believe this scenario may occur now that these changes are made. And, since conjecture only goes so far, these problems may never come up. So, all we can do is hope I’m wrong.
Like many young liberals, our old friend“Obama Guy” has been pretty ecstatic since Obamacare became the law of the land. This week, he calls in to gushingly explain to me why George Bush was pig-headedly holding us back from receiving a right that is every bit as important as the Ten Commandments. He explains that no young person should ever have to suffer from the inability to pay their bill for difficult hangnail removals. Also, Obama Guy notes that Keith Olbermann is one of the calmest people he knows, Gossip Girl is really a haven of political philosophy, and Barack Obama will cure obesity.
The leftist hosers at the Huff Post have targeted the Democrats who voted against Obamacare last weekend. They believe they have betrayed the principles of Utopia, well being, and Franklin Roosevelt and should therefore be snuffed out for the dream-killers they are. It got me thinking that I hadn’t actually seen the A to Z list of all the Democrats who voted FOR Obamacare. I meandered over to the site of the congressional clerk and recorder and found just that. Below is every US Representative who voted for the bill.
It goes ‘Name – Party – Congressional District’. And yes – that ‘D’ in every entry means Democrat. This was truly a bi-partisan effort on behalf of the post-racial, post-partisan, post-etc. President Obama…
You can’t help but slap your forehead repeatedly and think to yourself… this health care bill is going to smack the economy around at a time when it really isn’t prudent. All we have to do is look across the Canadian border and across the pond to see this won’t work! And man, how did we let Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Charlie Rangle be in the position to pull this off? Our post-Obamacare TWG Special dwells on some forehead smacking, but also speaks to the hope we have for a Conservative renewal… N*Sync and Peter Pan somehow make appearances as well…
The House Minority Leader, John Boehner, gave what was undoubtedly the best speech of his life last night. A last ditch effort to convince Dems to vote against Obama-care, the GOP leader summarized poignantly the awful-ness that was the bill…
Much more on the epic day in Washington and the delightful news of Joe Mauer’s new deal with the Twins on an all new TWG Podcast later tonight...
Two accomplices get arrested for a number of crimes. The police have enough information to assure they both get a two year sentence. But they think they could connect them to another, much bigger crime, so they make both criminals an offer. If one informs on the other, he’ll go free, while the other will certainly get a ten year sentence. However, if both inform on each other, the police will have enough to ensure they both get five years.
The above scenario is commonly given to explain one principle of what has come to be called Game Theory: that when everyone works in his own best interest, it is possible to end up in a far worse position than if everyone had worked in the best interest of the collective. In the above situation it is always in one’s best interest to inform. If the other prisoner informs, you only get five years instead of ten, and if he doesn’t inform, you go free instead of getting two. Nonetheless, when both prisoners follow their best interest by informing, both get five, whereas paradoxically both could have gotten only two if they’d kept their mouths shut.
Conservatives, Libertarians, and Classical Liberals* tend to hate the above conclusion. And perhaps hate is too soft a word. It is an anathema to liberty, and one is a despised Communist merely for thinking it. As we all know, unbridled liberty is the source of all prosperity. America won the Cold War, after all, by each of us concerning ourselves only with our individual prosperity, whereas those collectivists sank into economic malaise, which ruined the Soviets, and would have ruined China if they hadn’t reformed their economic system to be more free-market. At least, this is the prevailing wisdom among modern Conservatives.
The above argument does a serious disservice to the principle of individual liberty and small government. It reduces what is essentially a moral argument into utilitarianism. Classical Liberal thought is based on the idea that people have foundational rights, that these rights allow one to choose to do anything which is not directly belligerent to another person’s rights, and that no one’s rights may be morally infringed for the benefit of any number of others. The utilitarian expresses the last principle differently: that when no one’s rights are infringed, any number of others will benefit. Now, if we were to apply that to, say, our first amendment rights, we would arrive at the conclusion that we are permitted freedom of speech because it benefits society. But from here it is no great leap to conclude that where freedom of speech does not benefit society, it need not be granted. No such conclusion could be drawn from the moral argument, that no amount of benefit to society can ever justify the suppression of speech. For this reason, the moral argument is superior to the utilitarian: it isn’t weakened when the collectivists put forward arguments along the lines of the prisoner paradox.
What then should the response to collectivism? Friedrich von Hayek, perhaps destined to be considered the greatest of the 20th century’s Classical Liberals, wrote extensively on this topic. In his work, the Road to Serfdom, the argument was put forward that the level of regulation necessary to achieve any benefits from collectivism would effectively end human liberty. Our choices would all need to be made for us by central planners, because we wouldn’t comply with the best interests of the collective on our own.
Put another way, let’s return to the first scenario. The reason this situation is regarded as paradoxical is because it is always in one’s best interest to choose the option that leads to prison for five years, whereas it is never in one’s best interest to choose the option that only leads to two years. Even if both prisoners are allowed to get together and talk out their options, and they both see that a better outcome is assured if both of them keep their mouths shut, and they agree to this course of action, it still remains an even better option for each one to double cross the other. If the first double crosses the second, he gets even fewer years than the two he’d agreed to earlier, and if both double cross, he gets five instead of ten. The paradox of this situation is that if each individual is allowed to have any individual choice whatsoever, his best choice leads to the worse result, and his worst choice leads to the better result. In order to obtain the better result, these criminals can’t be allowed any say in the matter, and a central planner must step in and choose to make both of them keep silent whether they want to or not. So long as they have any kind of individual choice, this problem cannot be resolved.
The Classical Liberal’s only recourse then is to try to eliminate any personal involvement in situations where these kinds of paradoxes occur, and they do occur often enough in our economy. When given a choice between an economic disaster or the loss of personal liberty, abstain altogether! I’ve harped on health insurance before, and have said most of what I think needs saying, but I think it provides a good example of how we ought to approach these problems. When health insurance is used as a payment mechanism for general medical care, the quantity of medicine you individually purchase has very little correlation to the premiums you pay, so frugality is not rewarded: you may as well use it to cover as much as you can; your costs will be divided among so many people that it’s hardly noticeable. But when everyone adopts this mindset, the costs of hundreds of millions of people splurging adds up, and premiums are forced to skyrocket just so insurance providers can break even. There’s still no point in being frugal, because that won’t lower your premium by more than a minuscule fraction of a cent, and even if everyone else in the country acted in the best interest of the collective and lowered their consumption, that only returns us to the position we were in at the beginning, where everyone is encouraged to buy lots of medicine for cheap, once again leading everyone to splurge. Just abstain: get catastrophic coverage, a cheap policy with a very high deductible, but pay for day to day expenses out of pocket and you’ll probably be able to save money. (That is, provided Washington gets its act together and allows tax-free personal health savings accounts.)
And, incidentally, this is another reason why the people in Washington trying to pass their insurance regulation “reform” bill (which I still doubt is going to make it into law, although the Dems are apparently more suicidal than I gave them credit for when I wrote after Scott Brown’s election and are trying to go Kamikaze to get it passed) are writing a simple disaster. The use of insurance as a funding mechanism for ordinary, expected health-care expenses puts everyone in the above paradox, which is causing the higher premiums we want to prevent. Abstention from non-catastrophic insurance is the only solution, yet the bill in question makes it illegal to abstain. This leaves us with one of two choices: premiums can go up forever, or a (death) panel of central planners will make our decisions for us, based on our value to the collective. The Democrats swear the latter will never happen, so in other words they plan on reducing premiums by forcing the market to raise premiums. Brilliant.
*Try as I may, I cannot find an appropriate word for the philosophy upon which the idea of a limited government is founded other than Liberal. The word Liberal, from the Latin root meaning “free,” was applied first to the same people as invented the idea of defined and limited government powers as a vehicle for protecting freedom. This Classic Liberalism finds its expression most clearly in modern fiscal conservatives, whereas fiscal liberals, being statist and all too often authoritarian, do not deserve the term. Doubtless calling conservatives liberals and liberals illiberal is confusing, but it needs to be done, as the alternative is becoming more problematic. Fiscal conservatives, being unable to call liberals illiberal, have taken to calling them by names of other historically illiberal groups: socialists and fascists. This is not precisely accurate, and illiberals are all too ready to point out minor distinctions between their views which are supposed to deflect the accusation. A wider, blanket term for statists is required, and that term is illiberal. But to use that term, the fiscal conservative must also become comfortable with calling himself a Liberal.
There’s a new kind of flip-flop in Washington. The power flip flop. One day the Republicans are flying high with their man on Pennsylvania Ave and good footing in both houses. The next, Democrats are on top with a majority in the houses and their man in the Oval office. Then an election spins out of control and into the headlines in Massachusetts and suddenly the top dogs are scrambling to keep their footing again. Up and down and in and out, Republicans and Democrats all vying and campaigning to win their seats and stay in power.
Which, for me, begs the question, are the politicians in Washington too busy being representatives of their parties to be representatives of the people?
Consider. In Massachusetts there was a mad scramble of last minute campaigning by the Democratic party to try to save Ted Kennedy’s seat from the hands of an upstart Republican. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both put in appearances to this end, though in vain. Why? To get a Democrat back into the house. The desires of the people of Massachusetts seemed irrelevant (note: this is the second time in this paragraph that I have spelled that state correctly on the first try without the assistance of spell check), for when the desires of the people seemed to challenge the power of the party, the party flexed its muscles against them.
Last I checked the purposes and desires of our founding fathers, the goal of representative government was to represent the people of the nation, not some power hungry political party. The shift has been subtle, but its effects can no longer be ignored. No wonder the people of this country, and particularly young people, are disillusioned, cynical and frustrated about the government. They feel like they have no voice in the goings on of our country, and it is beginning to seem that this perception is not far off.
What a radical day it would be if a Democrat or Republican began to run for office in a particular state or district and then dropped out on the grounds of “I cannot accurately represent the needs and desires of this constituency; my opponent will do a better job of that for these particular people than I” instead of scrambling, biting and clawing to win a seat for their party, regardless of the good of the people.
Obama ran under the banner of “change” and said he would be a new day for the American government, would encourage bipartisanship, would consider all interests, and even a few weeks ago derided the “permanent campaigning” of Washington politics. A funny thing from the mouth of a man who scant days before had himself been campaigning for Coakley. He has not brought change to Wasington. He is a democrat, representing the democratic party, and trying to work with republicans representing the republican party.
All America wants to know is when someone will show up in Washington who wants to represent people instead of a party.