Happy Independence Day - Part II

As I was walking up the stairs from my shower, my towel fell off.  I said to my wife, "this is how I celebrate my independence."  But then I realized that the 4th of July isn't celebrated for my independence, it is celebrated for our independence.  Is the contradiction of celebrating the independence of a collective lost on everyone else?

Happy Independence Day!

As a libertarian I am rarely more conflicted than I am on the 4th of July.  On the one hand, I support nothing more than the overthrow of tyrannical regimes.  On the other, I despise nothing more than the nationalistic worship of the State.  Today I am in a good mood, so I am going to focus on the former.  I am hoping you do the same!

Dr. Thomas Stossel on Medical Conflict of Interest Mania

Dr. Thomas Stossel (yes, John's brother) recently spoke with Reason on a topic that is near and dear to my heart, medical conflict of interest.  He may be the first person I have ever heard speak rationally about the subject, and I highly recommend that you check it out.  Among medical professionals, the official party line is always that conflict of interest is a huge problem caused by an unruly class of doctors who are only out to make money getting in bed with evil, profit-making corporations who would just as soon poison their patients as show any sort of compassion.  His level-headed presentation gives me back a little bit of hope for the industry.

What Will Mankind's Greatest Advancement Be?

It seems fairly obvious to me that the single greatest advancement mankind could make is the eradication of the religious notion that government can and should solve all of the world's problems.  All one must advocate in order to achieve this is the simple explanation of the so commonly misunderstood concept of "rights."  So much of the world is concerned that the government must protect their right to eat in certain restaurants without being exposed to cigarette smoke, nicotine-laced water vapor or trans-fats.  They say that the government must enforce these "rights", neglecting their true nature and what must be done to their neighbor in order to make it so.  I implore everyone to always remember that rights are those things to be respected by others, not provided by them.

Taxpayer Money

There is a phrase so common that it rarely raises an eyebrow just how ridiculous it is, "Taxpayer Money."  You've all heard the hyperbolic statements, "We aren't going to spend a dime of Taxpayer Money on (insert villainous project of the week here)."  Everyone on both sides of the aisle wants to look out for the little guy by protecting that hard-earned Taxpayer Money for only their own pet projects.

Get real.  If anyone actually honestly evaluated the term, they would feel compelled to give the taxpayers their money back!   Could you imagine if McDonald's issued press releases saying that unscrupulous franchise owners were wasting "Burger Eaters' Money" on over priced peanut oil and salt?  No, of course not!  Because in the world of free exchange we don't have to resort to dishonest language to hide out deeds.  I had money. McDonalds had hamburgers.  Now I have a hamburger and they have what was formerly my money.

By State logic, Taxpayer Money money belongs to the State, so let's end the charade and come up with a more accurate term.  

The Grantification of Academic Writing

In my day job I read a good number of academic articles.  They are written in specialty journals with audiences consisting of spine surgeons and researchers.  Regardless of the narrow scope and intimate audience of the journals, the authors invariably feel compelled to fill the introduction of every article with the prevalence of back pain, its cost to society etc.  Enough!  We've got it.  Move on to the interesting part.  As the reader I'm not sitting on your grant committee, so I don't need to be sold on something I already know and am quite tired of reading slight variations on the theme of how much this topic costs "society."

Don't we need regulation?

I was taught, through the lens of the Great Depression and the so-called progressive era, that the nation learned the virtues of moderation and threw off the shackles of the dangerous laissez-faire experiment with social programs and government "regulation" of industry and markets.  I was taught that our "mixed" economy was a harmonious compromise between greed and restraint.  I inferred that greed was powerful and functional; a little greed was good but too much was dangerous.  The corollary of course is that a “reasonable” amount of profit is ok, even good, but too much is bad, even evil.  The conclusion to this line of thinking is that “regulation” of industry is necessary and justified, even if it is cumbersome and costly.  What I have learned since about the historical narratives told in any venue is that they do little more than to demonstrate the preconceived notions of the narrator.  I now see the story as fantasy and the conclusions as false.

Regulation is neither morally justified nor necessary.  Less fundamental but more obvious, it has a demonstrably poor track record of efficacy.  The fact of human nature is that people trade.  Some are honest, others are not and the rest of us play for either side at one time or another.  The situation an individual is in greatly influences his/her propensity to dishonesty.  The existence of systemic protections creates moral hazards resulting in ignorant consumers and unscrupulous marketeers.  Responsibility in a broader field of things is shifted to the bureaucrat who has less incentive and less specific knowledge to make appropriate decisions in real time.  Further, the conundrum arises, as immortalized by Dr. Seuss, “Who will watch the bee watcher?”

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