Where conservatives have it wrong

YOU’RE A sensible, principled conservative. You want America to be a land of boundless opportunity and freedom, where people are treated as individuals and judged on their merits. You reject the divisive identity politics of the left – what matters most about any of us, you would insist, is not race or class or ethnic origins: it is personal character and achievement. There are few things about contemporary politics you deplore more than the demonizing or scapegoating of entire groups (“white males,” “the rich,” “the Christian right,” “gun owners”), as though every member of the group is interchangeable and indistinguishable, wholly defined by a single disparaging label.

But let someone mention “illegal immigrants,” and your principles fly out the window.

via Where conservatives have it wrong – The Boston Globe.

I have noted in conversation elsewhere, and I will say it here: it is immigration law that is wrong, not the illegal immigrants.

What should we do instead of the Obama health reform bill?

4. Make an all-out attempt to limit deaths by hospital infection and the simple failure of doctors to wash their hands and perform other medically obvious procedures.

5. Make an all-out attempt, working with state and local governments (recall, since the Feds are picking up the Medicaid tab they have temporary leverage here), to ease the spread of low-cost, walk-in health care clinics, run on a WalMart sort of basis. Stepping into the realm of the less feasible, weaken medical licensing and greatly expand the roles of nurses, paramedics, and pharmacists.

6. Make an all-out attempt, comparable to the moon landing effort if need be, to introduce price transparency for medical services. This can be done.

7. Preserve current HSAs. The Obama plan will tank them, yet HSAs, while sometimes overrated, do boost pending discipline. They also keep open some path of getting to the Singapore system in the future.

8. Invest more in pandemic preparation. By now it should be obvious how critical this is. It's fine to say “Obama is already working on this issue” but the fiscal constraint apparently binds and at the margin this should get more attention than jerry rigging all the subsidies and mandates and the like.

9. Establish the principle that future extensions of coverage, as done through government, will be for catastrophic care only.

10. Enforce current laws against fraudulent rescission. If these cases are so clear cut and so obviously in the wrong, let's act on it. We can strengthen the legal penalties if need be.

11. Realize that you cannot tack “universal coverage” (which by the way it isn't) onto the current sprawling mess of a system, so look for all other means of saving lives in other, more cost-effective ways. If you wish, as a kind of default position, opt for universal coverage if the elderly agree to give up Medicare, moving us to a version of the Swiss system and a truly unified method of coverage. But don't bet on that ever happening.

(As an aside, I *hate* the term “health care.” It’s not health care. It’s *medical* care.) Via Marginal Revolution: What should we do instead of the Obama health reform bill?.

Trying Terrorists

When appellate courts decide questions of law, they set precedents for future cases. If they make allowances for the exigencies of the war on terror in order to uphold convictions of [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and his associates, it could end up diminishing the rights of ordinary criminal defendants. That’s why the smart civil-libertarian position is to oppose trying terrorists as civilians.

Maybe reducing rights is part of the point. Via Instapundit » Blog Archive » JAMES TARANTO: “You have to wonder if the Obama administration and its supporters bothered to think….

Experimental Economics in EVE

This is via my brother, Ben Jones, who is a molecular biologist by training and a PHP programmer in practice.

When large external events like these happen they of course impact relative prices within EVE but the robustness of the market quickly allows prices to reflect these changes or shocks to the market. This might be a good lesson regarding our real life economies, showing that if we allow markets to adjust without intervention from governments they correct much quicker than when we try to steer prices to the “correct” level – given that the rules of the market are clear and that information flows relatively freely between agents on the market.

from http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=707

A brilliant example of free markets in action. (Incidentally, from a conversation with someone else entirely, you need to realize that “markets” does not mean “businesses” or “companies”. It means “the interactions that arise between buyers and sellers” — business is one part of it, consumers are another.)

Camille Paglia Against The Health Care Bill?

I can’t say she’s all right, but she does get a hell of a lot right.

As for the actual content of the House healthcare bill, horrors! Where to begin? That there are serious deficiencies and injustices in the U.S. healthcare system has been obvious for decades. To bring the poor and vulnerable into the fold has been a high ideal and an urgent goal for most Democrats. But this rigid, intrusive and grotesquely expensive bill is a nightmare. Holy Hygeia, why can't my fellow Democrats see that the creation of another huge, inefficient federal bureaucracy would slow and disrupt the delivery of basic healthcare and subject us all to a labyrinthine mass of incompetent, unaccountable petty dictators? Massively expanding the number of healthcare consumers without making due provision for the production of more healthcare providers means that we're hurtling toward a staggering logjam of de facto rationing.

A second issue souring me on this bill is its failure to include the most common-sense clause to increase competition and drive down prices: portability of health insurance across state lines. What covert business interests is the Democratic leadership protecting by stopping consumers from shopping for policies nationwide? Finally, no healthcare bill is worth the paper it's printed on when the authors ostentatiously exempt themselves from its rules. The solipsistic members of Congress want us peons to be ground up in the communal machine, while they themselves gambol on in the flowering meadow of their own lavish federal health plan. Hypocrites!

International models of socialized medicine have been developed for nations and populations that are usually vastly smaller than our own. There are positives and negatives in their system as in ours. So what's the point of this trade? The plight of the uninsured (whose number is far less than claimed) should be directly addressed without co-opting and destroying the entire U.S. medical infrastructure. Limited, targeted reforms can ban gouging and unfair practices and can streamline communications now wastefully encumbered by red tape. But insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry are not the sole cause of mounting healthcare costs, and constantly demonizing them is a demagogic evasion.

All emphasis mine, via Salon.com | Pelosi’s victory for women.

20 Years Ago Today

The Berlin Wall came down. Via 20 Years Ago Tomorrow – The Austrian Economists.

Here’s another piece:

Today, Berlin celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of The Wall. Sadly, much of Europe is already beginning to forget the atrocities wrought by communism. We libertarians regularly make the point that while Nazism is still regularly and justifiably vilified, communism periodically enjoys rebirths of chic. The point can’t be made enough. Not to diminish the horrors of Nazism, but to confront the cultural whitewashing of the horrors of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Il, and the others.

via http://www.theagitator.com/2009/11/09/fall-of-the-wall/.

The Road From Serfdom

In spite of its monumental failure to bring social peace and material abundance, socialism is enjoying something of a renaissance. From Venezuela to Bolivia to South Africa, government ministers espouse the supposed virtues of socialism. Even in the West, some policies are taking government intervention in the economy to levels unseen in decades. Given the renewed interest in alternatives to capitalism, it is perhaps appropriate to recall the last time that socialism was tried with real gusto.

As the Austrian philosopher Friedrich von Hayek explained in his 1944 classic, The Road to Serfdom, central planning leads to massive inefficiencies and long queues outside empty shops. A state of perpetual economic crisis then leads to calls for more planning. But economic planning is inimical to freedom. As there can be no agreement on a single plan in a free society, the centralization of economic decision-making has to be accompanied by centralization of political power in the hands of a small elite. When, in the end, the failure of central planning becomes undeniable, totalitarian regimes tend to silence the dissenters—sometimes through mass murder.

via The Road From Serfdom — The American, A Magazine of Ideas.

This is What Happens When You Drop the Ball

While DHS was busy putting tea parties and anyone who dares fly the official military Gadsen flag on the domestic terrorist watch list, a real terrorist was spouting off online, glorifying suicide bombings and our mission in Iraq. I mean, I’m sure if I drink enough I might be able to understand the perception that a bunch of middle-class people peacefully dissenting with certain Washington policies are way more dangerous than a dude who talked about terrorist stuff on social sites and had gotten authorities’ attention six months ago.

via This is What Happens When You Drop the Ball «.