Category Archives: Obamacare

Supreme Kool-Aid

The Supreme Court rendered two landmark decisions this past week. For those short on time I will parse them in the simplest of terms. In King v. Burwell (the “Obamacare” case) the Court decided that “established by the States” can mean exactly the same thing as “not established by the States.” This ranks right up there with Bill Clinton’s inability to parse the meaning of the word “is.” This linguistic pretzel betrays the court’s predilection to save Congress from themselves. The court regards Congress as a parent would a child who keeps getting into trouble: “aw, shucks silly rabbit, you mean you didn’t anticipate that a poison pill clause aimed at punishing the citizens of recalcitrant states might blow up in your face if those states remained recalcitrant? – well, don’t you worry, old Uncle Roberts will fix that right up for you with his magical judicial word-redefiner.”

In the next decision, Obergefell v. Hodges (the “gay marriage” case) the Court affirmed the principle that we should heap accolades upon our wise overlords when they deign to stop interfering in our lives. Apparently we need the state to stop other states from doing bad things – but who will protect us when the federal state does bad things? State regulation of marriage makes about as much sense as state regulation of healthcare.

Right about now the left is feeling pretty smug and self-satisfied with these decisions. But the right has had their day, and they will once again. That’s just how our system works – the lives of 300 million people must conform to the opinion of nine random people in black robes while each side cheers for their “team.” Both sides trumpet the merits of democracy – until their side loses. When that happens they are both all too happy to jettison the “democratic” results and substitute it with the opinion of 9 monarchs.

The fact that so many wait in eager anticipation for a sign of white or black smoke wafting from the judicial chimney of the Supreme Palace betrays something rather sinister. Nearly all of us are part of a cult: the cult of the State. The figurative “kool-aid” of state-love is doled out year after year at, gasp!, state run schools. There is nearly no defense against this mountain of propaganda. We grow up believing our rights come from government and therefore when the wise sages of that august institution speak, we must pay heed.

Consider a different perspective: The US Government is the functional equivalent of a private corporation that has monopolized certain segments of the economy. It maintains its market dominance and its customer base (us) through a combination of brainwashing during childhood, the illusion of control in adulthood (voting), and the for those that would rebel against paying for products it forces upon us, the overt threat of violence from a massive military complex. Cast in that light we should see that the internal policy making procedures of this company should have as much relevance to one’s life as would the operational policy decisions made at Apple, Walmart or Payless Shoe Stores. Who cares what 9 random people think? How is it that we not only allow – we welcome – other people, (the President, Congress, or the Supreme Court) telling us how to run our lives? If you want to participate in a socialized insurance system called “Obamacare” fine, be my guest. That has as much relevance to my life as does your decision to buy car insurance from Progressive and not State Farm. However, I choose to not purchase the products of U.S. Government, Inc – Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare. I also see no need to ask permission from one of its wholly owned subsidiaries (Georgia, Inc.) to get married, get a job, start a business or educate my children.

Now some might argue that I have a “social responsibility” to purchase some products (“public goods”) and that gosh-darn someone must force me to do so if I won’t. In reality, there is no such thing as “public goods” – this is simply a name that emerges from sloppy and lazy thinking from those that can’t fathom how anything other than violence could bring such products to market. And for those inclined to cite “the roads” please bear in mind it only constitutes about 1% of government spending.

I will close with this one tidbit of irony. The determination of the constitutionality of laws by the Supreme Court (“judicial review”) is itself unconstitutional. You can scour the Constitution but you will not find the authority for the court to engage in this practice.  This notion of “judicial review” was born out of the court’s ruling in Marbury v. Madison in 1803 as a matter of expediency and we’ve suffered the consequences ever since. That the dictum “the ends justify the means” guides this court’s decision should come as no surprise considering its power to render these decisions flowed from the same principle.

Medicaid Expansion: Compassion or Trojan Horse?

Georgia is one of 19 states currently not expanding Medicaid under the auspices of Obamacare. This, contends proponents of expansion, is leading to needless deaths and poor health outcomes for many poorer Georgia residents due to the ongoing closure of rural Georgia hospitals. As with any political issue reduced to sound bites, this is a gross over simplification. Although it is true that monies received under a Medicaid expansion would indirectly alleviate some of the financial burden faced by these hospitals, it would not solve the problem nor would it address the proximate cause of these hospital’s failures.

This nationwide network of rural hospitals was established in the 1940s by the federal government. For the most part they were quite successful with few closures, that is, until the first year of Obamacare regulations came on line – 2010. Obamacare then began to smother these community hospitals with shortsighted regulations that do nothing to limit costs. These regulations included penalties for patient re-admittance if done too soon after initial release, mandates to establish electronic medical records, as well as cuts in Medicare reimbursements to hospitals.  While one hand of Obamacare beats these hospitals with a stick (regulation), the other hand offers a Band-Aid (Medicaid expansion); truly a case of governmental cognitive dissonance.

Medicaid expansion is but one part of the Obamacare-Trojan horse that will slowly stamp out the last vestige of market health care. The “Medicaid Hole” was deliberately inserted into Obamacare. This “hole” leaves some people with no coverage unless the states go along with the Federal definition of Medicaid eligibility (the states can set their own standards now). This is the second Gruber-esque ploy within Obamacare directed at enticing “voluntary” state compliance. It follows the standard Mafia extortion-pattern of an “offer you can’t refuse” by threatening harm to a third party. The first instance of this was the state exchanges: “set up state exchanges or else your citizens won’t qualify for federal subsidies.” Now it is “expand Medicaid or your citizens will suffer for lack of health care.” The individual is but a pawn in their game. If that were not so then why didn’t they simply create federal exchanges and grant everyone subsidies?

The second part of this Trojan horse is that Obamacare sets a substantial tax on “Cadillac” health care plans. The threshold for a Cadillac plan is the ONLY financial figure in Obamacare that is NOT indexed to inflation (let that sink in for a minute). Once a state expands Medicaid they must follow the federal eligibility requirements. The end game is a masterful pincer action; Medicaid eligibility will be eased upward by the feds while the Cadillac cap will in effect be eased downward (as a result of healthcare inflation). “Affordable” plans will disappear and thus people will have no choice but to jump over to Medicaid. End result: single payer healthcare (Medicaid) without a shot being fired.

Now before anyone argues that we need single payer to fix this “free market” mess remember that we have never had a free market based health care system in this country – there has always, at some level, been government intrusion into the market.* These intrusions distorted natural incentives and created unintended consequences. The “solution” to these unintended consequences then is always more government intrusions. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

To find a real solution to government interventions we must “undo” – not “do”. If proponents of Medicaid expansion in Georgia are serious about helping the poor and uninsured then they should propose the total repeal of all “Certificate of Need” laws (O.C.G.A. 31-6) in this state that require both state approval and the approval of any potential competitors for not only any new health care facility, but even the expansion of an existing one. CON laws have nothing to do with maintaining a certain standard of care. They are entirely a crony-capitalist measure, like taxi medallions, meant to limit competition among providers of a particular service. These laws do nothing but scare off potential investors and add years onto the process of opening a new hospital. The best thing to help the uninsured would be low prices brought about through competition. Subsidies to the uninsured in a CON environment are nothing but an indirect subsidy to high cost providers.


*Sky high income tax rates during World War II fostered the creation of tax free health insurance through ones employer. That, coupled with the creation of Medicare in the 1960s soon led to rapidly increasing health costs in the 1970s which Congress tried to stem with the HMO Act of 1973  and this country’s first dalliance with “managed-care” – that is the insertion of a third party between the doctor and patient who would pay for all care but also inject their opinion on the necessity of care. As costs continued to spiral upwards (due to the artificial disconnect between the customer (the patient) and the vendor (the doctor), Congress introduced layer upon layer of additional regulations trying to keep costs down. That was about as successful as throwing more blankets on a leaking waterbed to stop the leak. Like whack-a-mole, as soon as they plugged one hole a new one appeared, normally as a direct, unintended consequence of the “fix” for the last hole. And that story is how we now got to Obamacare – the latest fix in a long line of fixes.


Poison Pill

A “poison pill” is a clause added to a contract with the express intent of providing a disincentive for anyone affected by that contract to contest it. It is typically employed when one anticipates animosity or disagreement among the parties (such as a Will where a beneficiary might be dissatisfied with their inheritance). In other words, it’s a legal stick (as opposed to carrot) used to keep otherwise discordant individuals in line. Unsurprisingly the most contentious legal artifact in recent memory, Obamacare, contains just such a legal provision. Naturally political prudence demanded that the punitive measure remain carefully camouflaged. Otherwise the Feds ran the risk of their private beliefs becoming public knowledge, namely that Federal paternalism gives them the right to punish impudent states.

A poison pill provision in Obamacare was recently unearthed in the wake of a ruling early last week by a D.C. Circuit Court (Halbig v. Burwell) which stated that contrary to an IRS rule and the Obama administration’s contention, the plain language of the Obamacare statute says that subsidies for health insurance were limited to STATE-run health exchanges (and therefore subsidies are not possible in exchanges created and run by the Federal government). There was of course an immediate howl of objection by the administration and those on the left. They said that this was silly, clearly that is not what Congress meant – even if they used very simple and unambiguous language to the contrary – of course they meant to include federal exchanges as well, silly rabbit, only some backwards troglodyte would think otherwise. Funny thing how selective memory works; anything that might contradict your current position is conveniently forgotten. So it was rather embarrassing indeed when it was found that in 2012 (long before this suit was initiated), a Jonathan Gruber (an MIT economics professor who played a key role in drafting Obamacare) was recorded (twice) unequivocally endorsing the very core of that ruling – that only state exchanges were eligible for subsidies. But it wasn’t that admission that was the most telling, but rather what followed.


“What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.” Jonathan Gruber, 1/18/2012


He clearly admits that this circumstance (no tax credits) is intended to influence state behavior in order to compel them (get their act together) to carry out the demands placed upon them by this legislation. This language was no mistake, no typo, no oversight; it was clearly intended to act as poison pill to keep the contentious “red” states in line. But then something unexpected happened. Overwhelming civil disobedience. A majority of states (34) chose to swallow that politically poisoned pill anyway. Uh-oh, now what to do we do? Establish federal exchanges and pretend that the poison pill language was a typo. Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

Even if one is inclined to believe it’s all just a big misunderstanding and perhaps only Gruber thought it had this purpose, then that still means the law as plainly written diverges from the intentions of Congress. So how do we fix bad law in this country? Apparently now we allow the executive branch (the President) to unilaterally change it to fit his own subjective interpretation. Extend this deadline, remove this penalty, change the rules, all at his whim.

It certainly is much easier to rule and get things done if you don’t have to deal with a pesky Congress that would never permit such a change without also compelling other, less ideologically palatable, changes. Who needs the slow and incremental rule of law when you can have the fast and instantaneous rule of man? As Mel Brooks said, “It’s good to be the King.”

Risky Business

When Nancy Pelosi said “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it” she wasn’t kidding! Four years later the adventure into this 906-page behemoth continues. Apparently taxpayer funded bailouts of insurer losses is one little tidbit they tried to sweep under the rug. This provision is part of the innocuous sounding “Section 1342. Risk Adjustment.” This section of the bill is intended to insure the insurers against their own bad decisions. This is achieved by compelling all insurers to participate in the “risk corridor” program. This program requires them to fork over progressively larger portions of what the government deems to be “excess profits” to offset any “excess losses” by their competitors. The idea is that robbing Peter to pay Paul will keep the program revenue neutral. This neutrality rests on the dubious assumption that the distribution of excess funds from company A will always offset the deficit from company B. Even if that assumption were true, the goal here is flawed. This program will engender a government run cartel of insurance carriers with zero incentive to reduce costs. Too efficient? Make too much? Sorry, we’re gonna’ give it to your competitor. The insurance industry essentially becomes a single federalized fascist monopoly; administered by the federal government but held by private entities. The veneer of private ownership in name only is maintained only to fool the “useful idiots” into believing we still have a “free” market.

Even if one is a proponent of Obamacare, it should be recognized that this provision will do more harm than good in terms of reducing cost. In fact it will have the opposite effect: it will drive the best insurers out of business while subsidizing the worst, thus ensuring ever-increasing costs. Only free competition can have the correct effect: drive the worst out while rewarding the best. Any well-run business maintains capital reserves from flush years to offset potential future losses in lean years. In other words a well-run business will take care of itself. Forcing such a business to hand over its reserves to its more profligate competitors and expecting those prodigal siblings to change their ways is naïve at best, willfully ignorant at worst. But wait, there’s more!

As is typical for such bills there is an underlying assumption that nothing could ever go wrong, therefore it lacks any provision to cap how much the feds may have to dole out under this program. In other words the American taxpayer will be obligated to write an unlimited blank check to cover health insurance industry losses (the program is slated to only run from 2014-2016, but you can be certain industry lobbyists will ensure it is renewed in perpetuity). The moral hazard arising from this program will incentivize insurers to steal business away from their competitors by undercutting them on premium. The better-run insurers won’t cut as far and will lose customers; the more poorly run insurers will cut deeper (counting on a bailout if they go too far) and gain customers. Eventually, once the more prudent insurers are all out of business, all that will remain will be the insurers counting on their annual bailout. There is no free lunch. Premiums may decrease on the front end, but when April 15 rolls around or your inflation riddled dollar buys you less, you’ll be paying it on the back end (I leave it to the reader to decide if that metaphor is figurative or literal).

The Rule of Men

This past Thursday regulators overseeing the US school lunch program graciously decided to “permanently” ease restrictions added to the school lunch program only 4 years ago. The changes initiated in 2010 were a part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was crafted with the laudable goal of solving childhood obesity. Fat and salt were cut, fruits and vegetables increased, portion sizes and overall calories reduced. Clearly this singular approach from a singular agency imposed upon an entire nation was destined to succeed because if history has taught us anything, it is that humans always solve a problem upon the first attempt and that monopolistic one-size-fits-all solutions are an ideal mechanism for societal improvement.

But our wise overlords were thwarted in their attempts at showing us peons how to feed our kids. Rebellious local school systems bristled at the new rules; they were vociferous in their objections but ultimately powerless to ignore the rules. Failure to obey would have resulted in a loss of all of their school lunch funding. Federalization of our local school systems via monetary assistance has transformed these systems into the dependent servants of the federal state we see today. Federalization was meant to help, but just as a young bird who is “helped” in its hatching process will be weaker, so too have the school systems grown weak and dependent. Once one accepts the help of the state it is all too easy to become dependent upon it. Once dependency weakens you, it is difficult to find the strength to object to the hand that feeds you. The lion tamer subdues his charge not with the stick but with the carrot of dependency (notice how quickly the lion is fed after each trick). Fortunately our overlords at the U.S. Department of Agriculture deigned to listen to the peasants and in their sole discretion (which could change at any moment) have decided to let a little slack upon the reigns… for now.

However what is interesting here is not so much this federalized flailing over the school lunch program but rather the fact that the federal government can’t even implement this one simple program (feed children a healthy diet) without controversy.  Yet we are supposed to accept credulously that this same federal government can manage something an order of magnitude more complicated (healthcare) and all will be fine. Move along, nothing to see here.

The failure of these new school lunch mandates is a visceral metaphor for the failure of Obamacare. The pattern is the same. Both Obamacare and the HHFKA are predicated upon a naive understanding of a problem which results in misdiagnosis and an ineffective solution. The putative goal of the changes to the school lunch program was to “cure” childhood obesity.  Because, you know, if kids are known for anything it is for their love of the school lunch! Clearly overeating at schools is the proximate cause for childhood obesity. Likewise those foisting Obamacare upon this country labor under the delusion that health care costs are high not because of decades of government interference in the health care market, but rather because the uninsured are unfairly driving costs up by not paying premiums and then getting “free” care at emergency rooms (which I must point out, this latter scenario has been shown to add only 2% to total health care spending in this country (as reported by the left leaning Urban Institute in a 2008 study)).


When the top down approach of these mandates is foisted upon an unwilling public how do those in charge respond when the serfs don’t take too kindly to it? The same in both cases: a temporary and discretionary choice to ignore the law (at least while it is politically expedient to do so). With such actions we slide invariably toward a country run by the rule of men, not the rule of law, where it is the individual in charge that decides upon whim how we may live our lives. If the law is bad then repeal it, but these half-hearted “temporary” suspensions of enforcement are the acts of a cowardly and tyrannical government.

Lost in translation

Like millions of Americans you probably have received a letter like this (see below) from your health insurance provider (for both individual or group plans). As the farmer said to the pigs about to be slaughtered, “We’re going to be transitioning you to an environment free of worldly concerns.” Reading between the lines can often be critical to our own well-being, therefore, in that vein I shall endeavor to offer a translation of the following:

 Dear Subscriber:

The federal Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) has been changing how Americans get their health care coverage. The next big step begins in 2014. For many individuals like you with coverage through their employers, it includes important changes to coverage.

 ACA requires us to make significant changes to our health benefit plan designs. We have redesigned our entire employer portfolio to include new health benefit plans that comply with 2014 ACA requirements.

 There is nothing for you to do at this time. Your employer’s existing policy will continue until your next renewal. We are unable to renew your employer’s existing plan in 2014, but your employer can purchase any of our new plans with the 2014 ACA requirements for your coverage.

 We value you as a member and look forward to a long-standing relationship with you.


Health Insurance Company


Dear person-now-required-to-buy-our-product-under-penalty-of-law,

Obamacare has transformed a government manipulated healthcare market into a government controlled healthcare market. Unadulterated fascism rears its ugly head once again in America in 2014 (fascism = state control of a putative private market). For those of you who already get insurance through your employer, the paltry level of choice you used to have will be whittled down to next to nothing.

Obamacare requires us to add on coverage options we formerly begged you to buy but now you are forced to buy, therefore we have the perfect excuse to inflate premiums as high as possible. Apparently Nancy Pelosi thinks you are too stupid to make your own decisions when it comes to buying health insurance, therefore she has empowered bureaucrats to make those decisions for you. Do not fret gentle citizen; you will be well cared for in Obama’s gentle bosom.

You are helpless to avoid this, so sit back and enjoy the ride. You have a few months left to see your doctor before multi-hour waiting room camp-outs and month long waiting lists for medical procedures turn the US into Canada 2.0. We are unable to renew your employer’s existing plan in 2014, but that’s just fine with us because we’re content to get in bed with the government and be more tightly regulated if it means we will be guaranteed a steady stream of customers and profit. Crony capitalism and fascism is what made this country great after all!

We value you as our cash cow and look forward to milking this relationship for all its worth until either the federal government collapses under its own weight or the American public becomes so irate that they finally elect people that will remove all government influences from the medical market so that prices can naturally fall until medical insurance is no more costly than auto-insurance.


Health Insurance Company (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Federal Government, Inc.)

Counting, Government Style

As Obamacare looms nigh small employers such as myself who are near the margins of the 50 employee threshold of being an “applicable large employer for Section 4980H” have found it necessary to waste time and money just trying to figure out if we have reached that threshold or not (and yes, we already provide health insurance). At face value it seems like this should be simple enough: just count. But as with most things generated via government bureaucracy nothing is ever as simple as it seems. The statute is filled with ambiguous and undefined terms such as “stability period”, “measurement period”, “standard measurement period”, “upcoming stability period”, “safe harbor”, and so on. I’m actually trying to comply with this nightmare of a law but even our accountants admit some of the questions simply can’t be answered yet. Typical government: “Here, comply with this” – “Ok, how do I do that?” – “We haven’t decided yet, but don’t worry, if you get it wrong we’ll let you know with a fine.”

For example, there are two calculations that must be done. The first determines how many full time employees there are and the second determines how many “full time equivalent” employees there are. However a full time employee is only eligible to be measured as such if they are considered to be an “ongoing employee” (meaning they are employed for at least one “measurement period”). But… if they become full time during the measurement period or otherwise have a status change then there is a whole different set of rules for counting them – except those rules have not yet been issued (insert picture of chimpanzee with pencil scratching his head).

Assuming we have figured out who the “ongoing employees” are, we are now ready to determine if they are part time or full time. This calculation procedure all too predictably betrays the fact that whoever came up with it clearly has never worked in the private sector. They are laboring under the delusion that employees are paid on a calendar monthly basis as opposed to a weekly or biweekly basis (perhaps because governments reserve to themselves the exclusive right to pay monthly – that practice is illegal for private employers). “Fine”, you may say, there are 4 weeks in a month, what’s the big deal? Well, in fact, no, there are not 4 weeks in a month – there are up to 4.42 weeks in a month. So we cannot simply add up 4 weeks of payroll hours for a part time employee and divide by 120 to see if they exceed an average of 30 hours per week (the newly defined “full time” standard under Obamacare). No, rather than simply using data we already have (weekly or biweekly hours worked) for each employee, instead we must now warehouse up to 7-times more data by saving daily hours details. Although all employers already track daily punches, smaller employers store this massive amount of raw data off-line after getting the totals for payroll. Why waste resources if there is nothing to be gained by storing the number “8” five times vs storing the number “40” one time. The storage space is not the central issue however, it’s that we must incur a cost to reprogram payroll systems – in short wasting money to rebuild something we already had.

With monthly hour data in hand, we can now count up the employees that exceed 130 hours and count them as “full-time”. For all other employees we total up the lesser of actual hours worked or 120 and then divide that sum by 120 to get the “full time equivalents”. This means, in short, that two part time employees working 60 hours in a month will count as one full time employee. This calculation subtly explains the incentive behind large employers (such as Trader Joe’s or Kroger) who already fall under Obamacare but who are nevertheless cutting back their part time employee’s hours to below 30. This allows them to reduce their potential fine exposure. For example, in the case of Kroger, if all of their 340,000 employees work at least 30 hours, then they will be counted 340,000 full-time employees. However, if this same number of employees works only 29 hours per week, then they would be equivalent to 328,666 employees or a net potential savings of $23-34 million in Obamacare fines. That’s nothing to sneeze it at, but if you do at least you’ll be covered under Obamacare.

A Model for Freedom… in Detroit?

If you could distill the essence of the morning hangover and turn it into a city, that city would be Detroit. Everything seems “ok” during the party as both booze and money are consumed in excess. But as with all such excesses we are eventually (and often unceremoniously) awoken to the consequences of the cold hard reality we have wrought. Not quite the “morning in America” Ronald Reagan envisioned, but it is indeed now “morning” in Detroit.

Detroit is not alone in its profligate tax and spend policies that have slowly destroyed cities like a silent cancer. Stockton, California. Jefferson County, Alabama. Pontiac, Michigan. And the list goes on. Municipal debt has nearly doubled since 2000 from $1.5 trillion to $2.8 trillion as of 2011. Since municipalities can’t print their own money like Uncle Sam can there is a municipal debt bubble getting ready to burst that will make the housing bubble look like a hiccup. But there is a bright side to all of this, and Detroit is it. How so? For sure Detroit is in the condition it is in (abandoned homes, cars, factories, etc.) because of the actions of its overlords (city council). However, the response of its citizens to those actions has yielded the city we see today. Those citizens left. Those businesses left. And the fact that they were free to do so reveals the glimmer of hope for us all. We can at least (still) leave any relationship that is injurious. If the city had erected a wall and made it illegal to leave the city, illegal to close down a business, illegal to quit a job, it would no longer be a city but a prison (or any Ayn Rand novel, take your pick).

Where did those citizens go? To other cities. Detroit, just like any other city, county or state must compete for citizens on the open market. Create an environment that is conducive to freedom (low taxes, low regulations, civil liberties) and you will attract citizens. Create an environment opposed to those principals and the opposite occurs. Government decentralization is the reason we still enjoy some measure of freedom today. When government competes with government they all (mostly) behave. It is no accident that those states with the highest tax rates have been steadily losing citizens and those with the lowest gaining citizens.

However, there is a movement afoot from both the left and the right to set us on a path of complete nationalization. Each side falls sway to the delusion that they’ll be the ones “in control” and thus there is nothing to worry about. Under this “one nation” path the Federal government’s judgment will reign supreme in all areas, not just the annoying few outlined by the Constitution. But this reality is not new; we started down this path long ago. For those things controlled by the Feds there is no escape in moving. Don’t like paying into a bankrupt Social Security system? or Obamacare? Or funding endless wars (on terror and drugs)? Too bad, there is nowhere to go to opt out. Removing the Federal government would not necessarily mean an end to these programs however – it would simply mean that those programs could only exist in those areas where 100% of the citizens desired them. Anyone opposed would leave for cities with different policies.

But even such a geographically decentralized system of governance is but a mere compromise on the road toward true freedom. The dream is that someday humanity will evolve beyond our territorially driven reptilian brains to the point where geographical boundaries are irrelevant in defining political allegiances. Just as religious allegiances are blind to geographical boundaries so too should political allegiances be likewise blind to such boundaries. Although we can move to escape tyranny we shouldn’t have to.

Smokers in California escape their fair share

I heard a story on NPR this morning about how California is doing something about that evil Obamacare rule that allows insurers to “discriminate” against the most unfortunate of those among us – smokers. Obamacare actually (gasp) allows insurers to charge up to 50% more on premiums to smokers! How unfair, doesn’t Obama understand that these poor smokers have no choice, they are poor helpless victims of the big evil tobacco companies! Apparently smoking is much more prevalent of a lifestyle choice among the “poor” – so where Obamacare provides the “poor” with “affordable” health insurance, the smoking allowance allows insurers to basically add back all the “savings” – yes, that is the world’s smallest violin you hear in the background.

Funny, somehow the “poor” can afford to buy cigarettes (anywhere from $300-$3000/year depending on where they live and how much they smoke), yet they can’t afford the additional premium on their insurance policy attributable solely to something they choose to do. “Affordability” is one of those words thrown around a lot without any thought to what it actually means. Affordable simply means that one prioritizes the expense. Affordability all depends on how you order those things in your life that you value. One could claim a private school education for their child is unaffordable – and that would be true if they choose to spend their money first on a larger fancier house, on fancier cars, on cable TV, on high speed internet, on new clothes every month, then yes, not much is left for a private school education. But, one could pay for the education first, and then with what is left over structure their life around that so that they live in a smaller house, drive older cars and then at that point they would find cable TV and high speed internet become the “unaffordable” goods. To claim that health insurance or any other good is “unaffordable” is to simply be proclaiming it is not the thing you most highly value. Now one might argue that a $10 million mansion is unaffordable to nearly everyone and no amount of prioritization will make it so, true enough. But we are talking about affordability within the context of normal consumer goods and services, not about super luxury goods and services for which their lacking in the market is a concern to anyone. No one is crying about the “unaffordabiilty” of 50 foot yachts among the general public.

Not that I agree with the mandates Obamacare makes upon insurers in terms of what they can charge and how they can determine what they charge but at least I can understand why those who support Obamacare don’t want insurers to discriminate based on characteristics we can not control (i.e. gender, age, health status) – you are who are and there is no choice in the matter. Of course this “equality” mentality just means those who cost insurers less must pay more to subsidize the more costly demographics (witness France, where female drivers must now pay MORE for their auto insurance because in the name of equality it was deemed unfair that safer, more prudent female drivers be charged less than their male counterparts). But come on, cigarettes? Please, this is ENTIRELY the choice of the smoker. Are they addictive? Sure, but it is not IMPOSSIBLE to quit, plenty of people do it all the time. They are treating smokers like they are helpless victims who have no control over themselves. Please, give me a break.

This story highlights all that is wrong with socialized medicine. Those who willfully engage in bad behavior that affects their health must not be made to bear any of the cost of associated with their behavior – that is the job for the rest of society.

Who shall steer us then?

This week the Republican Party will be carrying out their well-scripted coronation of Mitt Romney as the party’s presidential nominee. Sadly, those in control of the party are either moles for the Obama campaign or are criminally inept. They have done everything in their power to suppress any possibility of Ron Paul’s name going into the nomination ring at the convention (in case you’re not aware, he never officially dropped out of the race and technically can be nominated were it not for recent RNC shenanigans).

What is the result? The nomination of a candidate who is more like Obama than unlike him. Yes, their rhetoric may be different, but both are in stark agreement on many issues: the war on drugs, the war on terror, bailouts for big banks (TARP), increasing government spending, and government managed socialized healthcare (Obamacare v Romneycare) to name just a few. So while the American people watch the cleverly orchestrated marionette show between Mitt and Barry, little do they realize there is only one manipulator controlling the strings: the elite party bosses of the centralized state (D’s and R’s are two sides of the same coin). In that respect I suppose it should not be surprising that Ron Paul was ignored and shut out of the process at every turn. He represented an opportunity for a meaningful choice between the two major parties. Why would the party push a candidate who is nearly identical to the opposition rather than a candidate that can offer a real alternative in the market place of ideas? If I’m trying to sell a product I don’t do it by copying my competition and then claiming the product is different because mine comes in a red box and theirs comes in a blue box.

Libertarians don’t want to pilot the ship, they want to dock it so people are free to come and go as they please.

Of course one could make the same argument against the Democrats. Their candidate claimed to stand in stark contrast to the policies of Bush yet he furthers Bush-era policies: bank bailouts, DEA raids of state-legal marijuana dispensaries, Guantanamo, and strong support of the PATRIOT Act and the NDAA. The Democrats are becoming war hawks and pawns of the military industrial complex (NDAA support) while the Republicans are becoming socialists (Romneycare, Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind). Both parties are merging into the single Bureaucratic State Party. This “BS” Party is a monopoly that suppresses all outside dissent and rigs the rules to prevent you, the voter, from even hearing about other options. For example, the Commission on Presidential Debates (a non-profit organization literally controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties) has a “15% rule” that prevents Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson from being on the debate stage with Romney and Obama this fall. The media, rather than acting in its regulatory role as part of the Fourth Estate, is willingly involved in the suppression of dissenting opinions by not even placing Gov. Johnson (or any other party’s candidates) in any polls used as the metric for the magical 15% threshold.

So again I ask, why would both parties be so aligned across so many issues while feigning the appearance of difference in order to give the populace the illusion of choice? Because the goal of both parties is power. Their policy alignments all have one thing in common: expansion or maintenance of government power. The bureaucrats write rules that validate the existence of more bureaucrats. The parties may fight over who is steering the ship, but what they both agree on is that the people must never ever leave the ship. If the people find out they can live on land and take care of themselves, then there won’t be much need for a ship and her crew, will there? Libertarians don’t want to pilot the ship, they want to dock it so people are free to come and go as they please. It’s all about choice. You may not agree with Gov. Gary Johnson, but fairness in the political process is a very basic American principal. There is no legitimate reason to establish rules that suppress ideas that fall outside of the 3×5 card of approved political opinion. Let the voters hear all sides and make up their own minds.