Slavery Is Freedom?

Harry Reid Argues Government-Induced Languidness Is Freedom

The Congressional Budget Office released a report revising employment projections under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The report was not so good for defenders of the health care law.  The CBO projects approximately 2 million full time jobs lost by 2017, due to the provisions of the law, with another 500,000 full time jobs lost by 2024.

Then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sagely remarked in 2010 that “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it…”

As it turns out, what’s in there is a host of tax and regulatory provisions relating to income taxes and insurance subsidies provided by the federal government (i.e., the taxpayer) such that 2.5 million people will eventually make the decision that not working is more preferable to working.

The remarkable takeaway from the report is that it doesn’t quantify how many jobs might have been created by employers absent the tax and regulatory scheme that is Obamacare.  Instead, the report analyzes individual choices people make with respect to the level of free subsidies received from tax payers, the cost of insurance coverage, income levels, and what is available as public assistance.  The CBO proves an age-old adage that mankind generally wants what he wants, and he wants it in exchange for the least possible effort.

Perhaps competing with Nancy Pelosi for the dunce’s crown, Harry Reid is reported to have said at a meeting with the press, “We have the CBO report, which rightfully says, that people shouldn’t have job lock. If they — we live in a country where there should be free agency. People can do what they want.”

Generally we would agree, but this statement is about as dumb as they come.

Harry Reid is advocating that having a job to pay for one’s expenses represents  a kind of slavery from which one should be freed. “There should be free agency,” he says. But free agency refers to being “able to act freely without being controlled by someone else.” The good folks at Merriam-Webster even published that, maybe just for Harry!

People who make their decisions based on the coercion of government tax policy are not acting freely without being controlled by someone else.  They’re being controlled by the government and its policies. When the government makes a life of mooching mathematically valid and more profitable than a life of holding a job, three things are certain. One, the person giving up work for life on the public dole is definitely being controlled by government policy. Two, there are a healthy number of people who will take the government up on their offer. Three, someone else must pay the bill.

Is it truly freedom or slavery when a government-created policy creates a disincentive to work and favors collecting public welfare as a new career path? What about the person who faithfully maintains a job, pays his or her own bills, and pays taxes?

Is it freedom or slavery to take away the fruits of his or her labor and give them to someone who has made a conscious choice not to work and to collect tax-payer funded benefits?

wiley-reidWhat about the man who stands in front of you, and with all sincerity tells you that giving up your job in exchange for government benefits somehow sets you free? Is he showing you a tunnel to freedom and new opportunities? Or is he setting a trap for you to run at full speed into a boulder face? Is he offering you freedom? Or is he offering you slavery?

One thing is certain: it’s anything but “free agency” or “freedom.”

This…Actually Won Money…Money…Money…

The US Department of Health and Human Services and Young Invincibles teamed up to spend a sum of some thousands (we think $5,000 but it’s not clear, if you can interpret the beaucra-speak from the contest prizes rules and press release let us know) on this mess…


Even the White House joined in the fun of ripping off a pop song to try to turn it into political propaganda for an age group that so far  is largely not interested in buying into Obamacare.

Here’s why the video isn’t worth whatever price the government and its unwitting partner paid:

1. The video, which received financial compensation, makes heavy and unattributed use of a copyrighted song by Jessie J without attribution. We’re pretty sure if a Tea Party group had used a copyrighted song to illustrate a point against the Affordable Care Act, that concerted teams of IRS agents, left-wing activists, media types, lawyers, FBI swat teams, heavily armed Predator drones, even Eric Holder himself would descend on the Tea Party group to capture those involved and dispense whatever mob justice seemed appropriate at the time.

2. The video’s chorus asks you to “Forget About the Price Tag” for a program that’s been plagued with upward cost estimate revisions since the president claimed it would cost only $90 billion per year. Coming up on 5 years and 5 revisions later the current estimate stands at $2.7 trillion (3 times the president’s original figure) factored in a 10-year CBO projection. Forget about that price tag, indeed…

3. The program’s signature product website healthcare.gov cost taxpayers more than $600 million, and was nowhere near ready for prime time on the administration’s launch date of October 1 of this year. Negligence and gross mismanagement abounded, but no one has been held accountable. But forget about the price tag; we guess it “ain’t about the uh-cha-ching cha-ching.”

4. Speaking of “cha-ching cha-ching,” the $600 million the federal government blew on a non-working website still has NO payment transfer mechanism to pay insurance companies those subsidies the federal government promised. As one observer has pointed out, the Armed Forces of the United States mobilized, deployed, fought, and defeated the Axis Powers, winning World War II in less time than it took the government to develop a non-functional website.

5. In a lilting exhortation, our singer says “there’s no excuse to be uninsured.” But the law applies to all Americans. You get a government-approved health plan, or you get fined. But “just stop for a minute to think.”  Do the super-wealthy like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffet really need to purchase individual health insurance?

6. “Keep your mind at ease and get some security.” Like the 5 million+ people who had an individual health insurance policy and have had their plans cancelled due to the Obama Administration’s implementing regulations for the Affordable Care Act? But don’t worry about the “yeah bla-bling bla-bling”!

7. “We just wanna make it more fair with affordable health caaaare.”  But having an insurance policy that has the Obama administration’s gold (or maybe even red!) star seal of approval, does NOT mean you will be getting any health caaaare. It means you have coverage and now have to find a doctor that participates with that insurance program.

8. When coverage expands? Well coverage so far has only contracted with millions of cancellation notices and the president’s extra-legal request that insurers extend policies that his law, as his administration has chosen to implement it, are barred from having…  Even as Obamacare enters maturity as a federal program, the CBO projects we will still have 30 million some uninsured Americans.  But wasn’t that close to the number of uninsured before the government seized control of the health insurance industry?

9. “Take advantage of this opportunity!” What opportunity? Insurance actuarial tables work thusly: a population or risk pool pays premiums. Premiums are used to pay for the bad things that happen to members of the risk pool. Young people in general have far fewer health care requirements–and thus many could benefit from a plan offering catastrophic coverage and socking money into a Health Savings Account, which they control, for later in life when their needs, unfortunately, are destined to change. But like Social Security, the young are paying higher premiums into a program that will pay NOW for sicker people and will not have enough future money coming in to pay for the young when they advance in age and require more costly care.

10. “Why is everyone so oblivious?” Well, many aren’t. A recent poll suggests that only 1 in 4 young people (the target of the video) plan to sign up for “Obamacare,” suggesting that at least the remaining 3 out of 4 aren’t so oblivious and can do the simple math above and see that the program is not a good deal for them. It’s too bad we can’t count the video author among the un-oblivious.

11. “I know we’re in our prime. About time we opened our eyes.” Agreed!

We think the video’s author, Erin McDonald, could have gotten more benefit and closer to the truth if she had stuck with words from the original song:

“Seems like everybody’s got a price” (Like the Louisiana Purchase–Right, Sen Landrieu?)

“…when the sale comes first, and the truth comes second” (Ain’t that the truth? Right, Pres Obama? And your close to 40 recorded promises of “if you like your doctor/health plan you can keep your doctor/health plan.”

“It’s not about the money, money, money//We don’t need your money, money, money.” While Obamacare is precisely about the money, money, money, we’d much prefer a government that espoused this idea!

“Money can’t buy us happiness//can we all slow down and enjoy right now.” This sounds an awful lot like freedom to us. If government would stop worrying about what you and I do with our money and stop trying to steal it to buy votes, corruption, and political power, perhaps we could all just “make the world dance.”

Health Law Disproves Obama’s Rejection of “The Voices”

In May of this year at a commencement address, the president did his best to cast dispersions on his critics who say that government is too big and that tyranny lurks around the corner. The “voices” of criticism need to be rejected. Rejected because they have no validity. “Voices” warning of tyranny need to be rejected. Rejected because there is no truth to them of course. The “voices” aren’t even deserving of names–despite the fact that millions of people believe what the “voices” warn against. Because to give the “voices” an identity humanizes them and gives some sense of legitimacy to their concerns and their cause.


The Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) provides a confirmation of what the “voices” warn against: that tyranny may indeed be around the corner. That perhaps the “voices” should not be rejected but should be heeded

Tyranny is the exercise of power by a king, despot, or government that is either cruel, arbitrary, or both.  During the Affordable Care Act legislative debates in 2009, an amendment was added to the bill that requires members of Congress and their staff to purchase health insurance plans from the exchanges.

Various news reports confirmed that over the summer, the president personally involved himself in how the law should be applied to Congress. The decision he made, via the Office of Personnel Management, was that taxpayers would pay a subsidy for senators, congressman, and their staff members.

The president has been stating since the beginning of the healthcare debate and continues to say that his signature law lowered insurance premiums for people who will buy insurance on the healthcare exchanges. So if the president and many who support the healthcare law truly believe that the rates are on their way down (by as much as 3000% the president exclaimed in one speech), then why was it so important for taxpayers to provide a subsidy to elected officials? [Of course the premiums are not going down. The promised savings are turning out to actually be an increased cost.]

Why does Congress deserve special treatment? So much so that the president made the law say what he wanted it to say with regard to subsidies for Congress. If they really wanted to raid the public treasury to pay for their healthcare costs, all they need do is pass a law to that effect. The president meanwhile exercised power he doesn’t have, to alter a law he didn’t like. It wasn’t the only aspect of the law he took it upon himself to enact–he also granted a one year delay for large businesses to comply.

Republicans recently made the argument that this exemption should also be extended to small businesses and to individuals, and be enacted as a law instead of relying on a presidential whim. But the president and his party did not want to negotiate that point.

So in effect we have the president, arbitrarily altering provisions of his own law when politically advantageous to him and offering unequal treatment to different classes of citizens. And we have Congress not living under the laws that it passes. Where are the subsidies (again, written into the law by the president and his administration–not authorized by Congress) for people who share similar income levels as Congress and their staff? Why are elected officials deserving of subsidies when the people who actually pay taxes are not?

All of which leads us to what James Madison wrote in Federalist 57:

I will add…in the situation of the House of Representatives, restraining them from oppressive measures, that they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interests and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny. If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America — a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.

If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate any thing but liberty.

In the health care law, we have a law the congress did not have the constitutional authority to enact, a law the president had no authority to sign, and a law the supreme court had no authority to uphold as a tax.

It is up to the people to vote out those political actors who promote themselves above the constitution and the rule of law. It is up to us to insist that politicians and people in government live by the same laws that they require the rest of us to live by.

Voters must consider whether to elect politicians who will repeal the Affordable Care Act or not. But regardless of that decision, the only acceptable outcome is for Obamacare to be applied to all three branches of government. The president, all members of congress, the justices of the supreme court and their families should all get the same opportunity as the rest of us to log into the non-functioning healthcare.gov website and begin the tedious process of selecting an insurance provider or preparing to be guilty of not complying with the law and paying a fine. Without raiding taxpayer’s wallets for subsidies for themselves.

“That Government of the People, by the People, for the People, Shall Not Perish from the Earth”

Seven and a half score (150) years ago, Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address, commemorating the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War.

He closed his speech by saying:

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Fast forward from 1863 to 2013 and consider a Fox News Poll released yesterday 10/3. The last question of the poll is disheartening: “In the United States, the people are supposed to be in charge of the government. What do you think is happening today?”  Eighty-eight percent of those polled said “the government is in charge of the people.” Eight percent said the people are in charge of the government.

Set aside any passions you may have for the new healthcare law or the government shutdown for a moment and consider where “We the People” currently stand in our relationship with our federal government:

-It openly admits, in glaring contrast to the guarantees of the Fourth Amendment of Constitution, to a domestic spying program, with surveillance of American citizens’ web-browsing, email, and telephone calls.

-It has mortgaged the future of young Americans, amassing $17 TRILLION in debt and another $126 TRILLION in promises made to current tax payers with no realistic ability to pay them.

-It has hoarded an arsenal of billions of rounds of ammunition–more than would be needed for 24 Iraq Wars, and refuses to provide a justification for the purpose for such purchases. (With one purchasing official advocating a race war and still on paid leave…)

-It has, via the Internal Revenue Service, engaged in active harassment, tax audits, and discrimination against persons and organizations who do not agree with the current administration’s political views and policies.

-It has engaged in armed raids on private property, using heavily armed tactical agents at civilian agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

-it has enacted a complex, confiscatory, and redistributive scheme of federal taxation, spanning nearly 74,000 pages, ensuring that even honest, law-abiding citizens are guilty of some unintended offense.

-It has denied farmers operating on federally managed lands their proper allocation of water because of rabid adherence to an arbitrary environmental policy.

-It has engaged in surveillance of journalists, with a keen interest in those who do not support the current administration’s politics.

The list could go on and on and on. And as the details of the anti-constitutional Affordable Care Act become known, the government is going to assert more control than ever before over the supply and demand of medical services. To make matters worse, enforcement of the ACA will be overseen by the same agency that has a documented history of bias against the current administration’s political opponents.

All this begs the original question from the poll: Should the government be in charge of its citizens, or should the citizens be in charge of the government? Are Americans citizens, or are they subjects ruled by their betters from a dysfunctional and corrupt capital?

Reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, we know that the United States federal government was established for one purpose:

(Declaration of Independence): We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

(US Constitution): We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It is time to remind government of their purpose. By calling, tweeting, “Facebooking”, and writing to your elected officials at all levels, by holding them accountable with your votes, and by speaking out against government injustice, we the people must retake our birthright of freedom and ensure that it is the government who works for us, and not we who work for them.

John Quincy Adams once remarked, “Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” And so we must. We must make good use of our freedom. We must do our part now to ensure “that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Government Pays Hospitals to Let Patients Die?

UK-based The Daily Telegraph printed a story illustrating one of the dangers of socialized medicine. Based on a Freedom of Information Act request, the report demonstrates financial incentives were paid to National Health Service (NHS) hospitals to employ a controversial treatment, called Liverpool Care Pathway, for patients believed to be dying. The treatment can involve withholding diagnostic tests and “nonessential” treatments. In some cases “can involve the removal of hydration and nutrition from dying patients.”

In a sample, NHS hospitals were paid at least an equivalent of $20 million (£12.4 million), and potentially in excess of $32 million (£20 million) as an incentive for putting patients on the “treatment” course. As the debate over government’s proper role in healthcare in the US continues, this example from “across the pond” shows us exactly why Americans should be distrustful of a greater role for government in the healthcare sector of the economy.

We’ve heard the argument before. It goes something like, “well healthcare in the UK is so much better and efficient than here because they don’t give you medical services until you really need it.” Or so the argument goes.

The fundamental flaw for the pro-government approach to health care delivery is that politicians and government bureaucrats tend to see “healthcare” as a finite resource that must be distributed as “fairly” and as equitably as possible to the voting constituencies (or an even more cynical view, campaign donating constituencies). In dessert terms, government views healthcare as a cake and its mission is to decide who will get how big of a piece.  We’ve heard ad nauseum from one presidential candidate about fairness. We’d like to point out that our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which describe the roles and powers of government does not discuss “fairness.” They do, however, mention “freedom.”

And freedom is lost in a government-controlled healthcare system. As seen in the bureaucratic machinations of the Affordable Care Act, an unelected, appointed group of bureaucrats serving on the Independent Payment Advisory Board will wield power (not subject to Congressional override) to determine anything from a list of accepted treatments to an overall “per capita funding level” in the event that the growth of medical payments exceeds targeted amounts.

Government fails to efficiently allocate resources because it is subject to political pressures. Would government mandates have lead to the creation of “minute clinics” now popping up in various pharmacies and discount stores across the US? No, of course not. Because rather than finding a way to more efficiently deliver service–and thus find a way to increase the size of the healthcare cake available to all, government is locked into its finite resource mentality of allocating scarce resources. It’s the incentive to reap the rewards of their innovation that has inspired US companies to research and develop new medical technologies–technologies that other countries benefit from (even those with socialized medicine). If the US turns to socialized medicine, who will be left with any incentive to develop new and life-saving medical innovations?

Sarah Palin is noted for coining the phrase “death panels” and was savagely criticized for it. But the reality is she’s far closer to the truth than those who attacked her for using the phrase to describe the future of government-managed care in the US. The UK health system uses a metric called “quality adjusted life years” to determine if a disabled or elderly patient will be eligible for various treatments. One of President Obama’s healthcare advisers, Ezekiel Emanual, is noted for his contributions to the Complete Lives System, which evaluates a patient’s future overall value to society in decisions of allocating healthcare resources.

Which leads us to our conclusion. If government is permitted to decide what treatments are available to certain patients, healthcare in the US becomes an entirely new proposition, not unlike the relationship many people have with their cars. When a car needs a new transmission or another expensive repair, many owners (excepting true car lovers!) either resort to a do-it-yourself option or often weigh the cost of a repair against how many useful years a car “realistically” has left. If the fix is determined to be more expensive than its worth, the car owner evaluates trade-ins or how to finance a new car.

This is the undeniable reality of government-managed care that we see coming via “Obamacare.” Government management of the healthcare system chases political rewards rather than economic ones. If a company finds a low cost and profitable way to deliver care via a minute clinic, patients win by finding a low cost provider, and the company wins by earning profits. But instead of engaging in this market-based behavior, the UK government established financial rewards to ease a patient’s passing and allocate scarce healthcare dollars to other areas. It kind of reminds us of another group, also from the UK:

(Warning: Strong Language at close of clip, but very funny!)