Archive for August, 2009

The Vice President Asks Your Help: Tell Us Why Reform Matters for You

The Vice President Asks Your Help: Tell Us Why Reform Matters for You

VP explains crowd-sourced health care myth-busting.


‘Kindling’ picked up off Market Street hillside

‘Kindling’ picked up off Market Street hillside

Hammers and Axes

It occurred to me, while listening to the “Dimmu Borgir – Puritania” Pandora radio channel and looking over a post for a video game I’ll never have time to play how awesome it would be to find a blacksmith in the Bay Area and, with them, design and build some big ass hammers. Specifically three, two, one for each hand, and a third that requires both.

I’m thinking I would trade beer for this service and I would have to do some research on how to make them, what metals are best and things like making them well balanced etc. After they are made we could have a fundraiser/event where we get a bunch of cinder blocks and reduce them to rubble. It’d be fucking awesome and savage – and there’d be beer.

So does anyone know a blacksmith in the Yay?

Edge: THE END OF UNIVERSAL RATIONALITY: A Talk with Yochai Benkler

Edge: THE END OF UNIVERSAL RATIONALITY: A Talk with Yochai Benkler

Self-interest, sharing and human nature in a future of surplus and the internet – Frickin’ interesting.

Communist Bastards

It occurs to me that the debate over healthcare is as follows:

On the pro-reform side: the private insurance oligopoly has failed in providing healthcare at competitive rates and as a result we pay around twice as much for significantly worse care than virtually all other industrialized nations enjoy.

On the pro-”no” side: anything the government does is Red Socialism and will undo the fabric of our great society.

Further arguments against generally go like this:

“I heard that someone had to wait in a very long line in Canada to get some help with X, Y, or Z treatment,” this is an urban legend. (How about this one, “I heard that in Canada if you drink pepsi and eat poprocks you get socialism!”)

“Millions of Americans will die if we go to a public option.” Congressmen make this argument. They love their public option. Who in the world takes this seriously?

Those aside, let us get back to the main argument against any kind of government reform of healthcare: anything the government does is socialism and an intrusion into the private sector, is fundamentally wrong and can not be made to work.

That argument is absurd just on the basis of how absolutist it is. But fine. Anything the government does is wrong and bad and can’t work. Why just apply this logic to healthcare? Surely the government is mucking up lots of other stuff, after all, it is a big government, right?

The Preamble of the Constitution includes the phrases: “establish Justice,” and, “provide for the common defense,” mandating that the government take over the court, police and national defense industries. Why did they do this? I have no idea.

Imagine a world in which those who want justice or need national defense find providers of it and purchase it at competitive rates, while those who do not need justice, enforcement of laws or the benefit of national defense are free to allocate their capital more productively.

I do not personally have any beef with people living in the Middle East, no one there ever hurt me so why should I pay for the armed forces? The only Iranians or Persians I know are great people, and I am certain no one in North Korea knows who I am and will not come looking for me. What do I need national defense for? Further, I’ve never been to court before nor have I ever needed to take anyone to court, so what do I need impartial courts for? If I want a court or a judge I should be able to buy one – those who need justice should be able to buy it on the free market.

Those with more wealth will be able to buy more justice, but never mind, I am sure that human behavior will self-regulate, after all murdering your competitors is bad for business, right?

Really, I am just paying for someone else’s justice at this point, and someone else’s national defense. How much better would this country be if we did not have all of these pro-military communists sucking us dry so they can have their national defense?

As Milton Freidman said, it is impossible to do good with other peoples’ money, so we should just not have a military, and quite frankly, anyone who joins the military might as well be signing up to work for the socialized medical services or the National Obama Doctor Corps of 2012.

Let’s not forget the principle of crowding out, stating that anything the government does, simply pushes out the private sector companies that were or would do it otherwise. Think of all of the small, mom ‘n’ pop national defense companies that never existed because a bunch of communists at the Philadelphia convention decided that we should have a military. That is not to mention all of the subsequent communists and socialists who have since then advocated for our increasingly large defense budget, which is the largest portion of government spending.

Back in the good ol’ days, a benevolent regional landlord would have his own military force, his own courts and his own police. If he decided he did not like someone and murdered them, he would just buy some justice, as he employed the police or “knights” as they were called as well as the courts. If he determined he did not like his neighboring landlords, he could invade them. He was not encumbered by national laws or impartial enforcement thereof, he and the people he ruled, lived in a state of freedom (anarchy), except where he subjectively enforced his laws and personal will upon them in a manner in which they had no fundamental recourse.

So the real message is this: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Adam Smith and Alexander Hamilton etc. are all communists. Red beret wearing, hammer and sickle wielding communists. Do not forget virtually every American hero since and probably all of the contemporary ones. All of them communists for advocating and supporting that the government do anything ever about any problem, which inherently is Socialism or Communism.

You know what else is socialist? Roads, I don’t have a car, I don’t use ‘em, we should get rid of them. Anyone who advocates more roads, hell, anyone who drives on a road is a communist. I don’t buy gasoline for a car, I buy it for my flamethrower, but I still have to pay extra taxes for you and your communist roads. It is disgusting.

You want another example? How about the way people feed their families. You’ve got some productive bread winner, and they redistribute their wealth through food and shelter to their family members. It’s a socialist system and it bothers me. I mean, gosh, women literally redistribute their nutrition to their babies in breast feeding, what communists, am I right? This must be the most terrible and inefficient system imaginable. We should put infants to work and have them learn about self determination and work ethic rather than letting them just sit around, grow, and learn to walk and talk.

Satire aside, here is what I am trying to say. I am really happy the government does not tell me what my profession is or how much soap I am to be allocated. I like that I get to choose whether or not to eat out, what kind of clothes I wear and what kind of religion I subscribe to or not. No one disagrees about those old Communist specters. What we have to move past is this ridiculous notion that anything the government does is “socialist”  and is therefore the worst thing ever. If you make these arguments you are a joke and do not deserve to be taken seriously until you make actual arguments regarding the merits of this system or that.

The car companies specifically noted that part of the reason they were insolvent was because they spent so much on healthcare and we know that we spend a ridiculous amount of money on it in this country compared to others. The natural thing to do is to check and see what our peers are doing differently that saves them so much money. It turns out that everyone else has socialized medicine so it’d really make sense to discuss why and how we can apply those lessons to the U.S..

We can have an intelligent discussion of why they save so much, and live longer healthier lives and what the trade-offs are, or you guys can keep shouting “socialism” at the top of your lungs and deny our democratic process the benefit of your intellectual contribution. In the meantime, actual Americans are suffering.