A Tale Of Two Conflicts

In March of 2003, the US invaded Iraq on the flimsiest of pretenses. 

In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, also on the flimsiest of pretenses. 

We hailed our invasion as brave and valiant and necessary for our security. 

We condemned their invasion as barbarous and the work of a power-hungry tyrant.

I’ve been wondering just what the difference is between the two.  The only thing I’ve come up with is, when we invade a country it’s good; when they invade a country it’s bad.

But wait, you say, we were attacked on September 11, 2001.  We were…but not by Iraq.  They didn’t even have the stockpile of weapons of mass destruction we claimed they had.

So, again, what’s the difference between the two?

I see people all over social media praising the Ukrainian citizens fighting against the Russian military as brave and noble.  But some of these same people also condemned the Iraqi people as evil and cowardly for doing the exact same thing against our military. 

And don’t even get me started on Central America. 

If an action is right, shouldn’t it always be right?  If an action is wrong, shouldn’t it always be wrong?

In V For Vendetta, V was the hero for assassinating the leaders of a currupt government and blowing up Parliament.  In The Batman, The Riddler is the villain for doing the exact same thing. 

Is it not the height of hypocrisy to determine the morality of an action based on who it is performing said action?

It seems to me that invading countries that have done you no harmshould always be wrong, and citizens of said countries should always have the right to defend themselves.

Better still, let’s stop trying to play the world’s policemen. 

Ken HolppFCLPO Communications Director

Three Books on Health Care Policy

Medical Apocalypse – the dramatic climax of a very bad horror movie.

The United States has massive problems to solve.  I believe the collapse or corruption of our health care system, our financial system and our election system are the most important to us as libertarians.  Any one of these three issues could destroy the country.  At the very least, our economy and our ability to compete on the world stage have been severely compromised. These issues feed directly into an unsustainably high cost of production which is in turn caused by an unsustainably high cost of living.  America’s costly and inefficient medical system is a major factor.  The result of a high cost of production is a reduced standard of living.  Our health care system is destroying us.Some would make the argument that the failure of our health care system is a failure of the market.   To them, the government must step in to solve the crisis. This is just flat out wrong.  Our health care system is anything but a free market.  What it represents is the failure of government intervention.  Health Care system reform must be a priority for our communication and our candidates.  We must insist that our candidates are educated about the problems and solutions and can explain them well.    We should be communicating as a political party to get this message out and calling out other party candidates and office holders for not providing leadership.  I think the three books I’m about to highlight can provide a foundation for this knowledge and drive home to all of us why this issue is so critically important.    

Priced Out by Uwe Reinhardt was published in 2019, two years after his death.  Reinhardt was the James Madison Professor of Political Economy and Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton.  He was highly regarded by mainstream participants in the health care discussion. His life’s work, including this book, made a clear case that the U.S. Health Care system is a chaotic mess.  Hospitals have pricing and economics that very few people understand, and that includes administrators, doctors and patients.  Reinhardt is a master at breaking down the key metrics to explain the American system and “why it costs so much more and delivers so much less than the systems of every other advanced country.” If you have a desire to wonk out on the economics of health care in the U.S., Priced Out is an excellent choice.A forward for the book was written by William Frist, MD., a Republican from Tennessee who served in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 and as Senate Majority Leader from 2003 to 2007.  Being a heart and lung transplant surgeon by occupation, and a student of Reinhardt, Frist understood the financial complexities and the ethical considerations discussed by Reinhardt.  In the forward, his respect and admiration for Reinhardt is obvious.  

Reinhardt’s analysis of our health care system made him the darling of Congress and mainstream stakeholders.  His grasp of detail and complexity was impressive, but it gave perfect cover for politicians and members of the health care establishment to avoid changing the system.  There are many that benefit from a needlessly complex and dysfunctional system.  This grasp of detail is actually a central flaw in his analysis.  He made it too easy to for politicians and medical professionals to say, “you know, it’s complicated”, or “we did the best we could” or “you can’t change it over night” and “you can only do so much”.  

The second flaw is a central organizing philosophy of Reinhardt’s life’s work, which he considers the fundamental question: “As a matter of national policy, and to the extent that a nation’s health system can make it possible, should the child of a poor American family have the same chance of avoiding preventable illness or of being cured from a preventable illness as does the child of a rich American family?”

William Frist certainly thought the answer was yes.  It is clear he was a fan of George Bush’s compassionate conservatism philosophy and proud of his role in it.  In his forward, he claims credit for writing and passing PEPFAR, The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a framework by which the U.S. government provides money for medical programs, mostly in Africa.  It was launched in 2003.  Since its inception, the United States government has funneled roughly 100 billion dollars into various programs using the authorizing legislation of PEPFAR.  This vast expenditure has mostly had the effect of enriching pharmaceutical company executives and others at the top of the world health food chain while leaving death and destruction behind it.  In my opinion, the record of experimentation and blatant exploitation on the people of Africa is well documented in Robert F. Kennedy’s book which I will mention last in this piece.  Frist should be more ashamed of the PEPFAR program than proud of it.  He seems like a good man.  I wonder if he would concur. 

Frist and Reinhardt are both misled by the central organizing question.  It’s the wrong question phrased in the wrong way leading to the wrong outcome.  It allows politicians to make themselves feel good about themselves by imposing their moral compass on other people.  The question uses phrases like “national policy”, “nation’s health system”, “poor” and “rich”.  The question is a shaming device and implies force to make some people pay for other people’s health care.  The question does not raise any consideration regarding individual responsibility for health of themselves and their children.  The question of cost of the “nation’s” health care is only vaguely referenced and left open ended to an unlimited expense.  What is included in a “nation’s health system”?  Does it include agricultural policy and the incentives for more healthy food as opposed to less healthy food choices?  Does it include food as medicine as opposed to only relying on pharmaceutical drugs?  When American political leaders authorize vast expenditures of money for a continent thousands of miles away, does it ever occur to them to follow up to ensure that money has been put to a good use, not to an evil one?

The problem I see in Reinhardt’s book is not intended as a criticism of the whole work.  He does give an unbiased and tremendously insightful look at the data.  It is a great book to study regarding the problems in our health care system. 

The Price We Pay by Marty Makary, MD, is another great work, also published in 2019 (with an update in 2021).  This book is probably more accessible to the average person than Reinhardt’s book.  Makary is a great story teller.  He is not trying to address every aspect of health care.  His primary focus is hospital system billing practices and the shocking abuse of the low-income wage earner.  Many hospitals systems, and especially the not for profits, sue patients for non-payment of invoices and have the courts garnish their wages.   The patients have no way to know in advance what the cost of the service will be and little they could do to avoid them.  Almost no one understands any particular hospital’s price structure.  Makary mentions one hospital that has over 3,000 contracts, each with a specified discount.  That’s 3,000 different prices for the same medical procedure!  

Makary’s mission has been to lobby Congress over the last couple of years to force hospitals to display their prices in a similar way that food labels are required to include nutritional content. He has achieved some success with this initiative, but unfortunately this success is little known due to being drowned out by the tsunami of Covid information.  Marty Makary’s book is relevant today, and maybe more relevant today after the revelations presented in the third book and last book I’m reviewing.      

The Real Anthony Fauci by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was published and released to the public in late 2021.  This is a highly controversial book. It blows the lid off the many individuals using science and medicine for their own selfish or evil purposes.  It pulls no punches in accusing Big Pharma and its supporters in government run Public Health agencies of conspiracy, probably criminal, but at minimum worthy of termination of employment and public disgrace.  The conspiracy described is the push for vaccination at the expense of all other public health measures.  The motive for the conspiracy is simply greed and power.  The amount of wealth gained by the perpetrators is immense. The damage to the world’s health is immeasurable.  Kennedy’s book is comprehensive, detailed and exceptionally well referenced, but whether or not the accusations are true, there is no doubt that the leaders of the CDC, NIH, NIAIA, FDA and the majority of the health care establishment will push back. They cannot allow this attack on their actions, motives and reputation to stand.

However, this opinion piece is not about the conspiracy.  It’s about the reform that was discussed in the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations but never got resolved.  It never got resolved because liberals have made nationalized, government run health care one of their signature goals, while conservatives and libertarians have been adamantly opposed.  It never got resolved because the criminal conspirators are masters at covering their tracks and concealing the true problems.  It never got resolved because the military industrial complex and the medical industrial complex came together as a nearly unstoppable force in public policy.  The mess we are in today might have been avoided if the right discussions had taken place and we had come to the right conclusions.  Unfortunately, a better solution has not been advocated strongly enough.  We have an opportunity to make a difference because at this point it is painfully obvious to many Americans that government involved health care is dangerous and doesn’t work.  

This system deserves a radical destruction/restructure, but it isn’t always productive to be viewed as too radical.  Fortunately, we can play the Jinga game as well.  There are blocks that can be removed which can dramatically bring down the whole system.  

My favorite goal advocating a small change with big potential to upset the system is to remove any tax advantage for insurance provided by an employer.  This hoary chestnut of a health care policy has been around since right after World War II.  It was promoted by employers to counter union organizers who were advocating health care benefits for union workers.  It has become a Frankenstein monster.  It has enabled insurers to reduce cost by marketing primarily to businesses while only offering crappy, expensive products to individuals.  Over time, this system has created a barrier between the individual and the health care system while HIPPA laws have created a barrier between the health care system and the employer to hide the true cost of the medical from the employer and the employee.  While allowing the insurance fox to guard the medical establishment hen house was in their best interest for a while, it has even begun to work against them.  The medical insurance industry has eaten all the chickens.  Costs have gotten so out of control that insurance companies have nearly destroyed themselves.  Removing the tax advantage for the employer provided insurance over insurance provided to individual will over time put the individual back in charge of his or her health care.  Medical providers will not be able to hide the cost of their services and patients will be enabled to negotiate the price of the services they receive before the service is provided.

The health insurance industry will need to be deregulated in an additional way. Private enterprise would normally elect to offer insurance against events over whose outcome the insured possesses no control. One cannot buy insurance against suicide or bankruptcy, for example, because it is in one’s own hands to bring these events about.

Because a person’s health, or lack of it, lies increasingly within his own control, many, if not most health risks, are actually uninsurable. “Insurance” against risks whose likelihood an individual can systematically influence falls within that person’s own responsibility.

All insurance, moreover, involves the pooling of individual risks. It implies that insurers pay more to some and less to others. But no one knows in advance, and with certainty, who the “winners” and “losers” will be. “Winners” and “losers” are distributed randomly, and the resulting income redistribution is unsystematic. If “winners” or “losers” could be systematically predicted, “losers” would not want to pool their risk with “winners,” but with other “losers,” because this would lower their insurance costs. I would not want to pool my personal accident risks with those of professional football players, for instance, but exclusively with those of people in circumstances similar to my own, at lower costs.

The current laws take none of this into account.  Laws, mostly state but some federal, place legal restrictions on the health insurers’ right of refusal — to exclude any individual risk as uninsurable — so the present health-insurance system is only partly concerned with insurance. The industry cannot discriminate freely among different groups’ risks.

As a result, health insurers cover a multitude of uninsurable risks, alongside, and pooled with, genuine insurance risks. They do not discriminate among various groups of people which pose significantly different insurance risks. The industry thus runs a system of income redistribution — benefiting irresponsible actors and high-risk groups at the expense of responsible individuals and low-risk groups. 

To deregulate the industry means to restore it to unrestricted freedom of contract: to allow a health insurer to offer any contract whatsoever, to include or exclude any risk, and to discriminate among any groups of individuals. Uninsurable risks would lose coverage, the variety of insurance policies for the remaining coverage would increase, and price differentials would reflect genuine insurance risks. On average, prices would drastically fall. And the reform would restore individual responsibility in health care. 

It is good news for libertarians that this initiative is primarily a state issue, an arena in which libertarians can compete on more equal footing.  It is state legislatures that have succumbed to pressure from special interest groups to force insurance carriers to provide coverage for the special risks of their constituency.  This is precisely the reason most conservatives want to remove laws that prevent companies from buying insurance across state lines.  If individuals or companies could buy out of state insurance, it would make the legislators pay attention to what anti-competitive restrictions they are proposing that hurts the insurance companies in their own state.  Not a bad idea.  As our contribution, we can provide the platform upon which state legislators are evaluated.

All licensing requirements for medical schools, hospitals, pharmacies, and medical doctors and other health care personnel must be eliminated. Their supply would almost instantly increase, prices would fall, and a greater variety of health care services would appear on the market.

Competing voluntary accreditation agencies would take the place of compulsory government licensing — if health care providers believe that such accreditation would enhance their own reputation, and that their consumers care about reputation, and are willing to pay for it.

Because consumers would no longer be duped into believing that there is such a thing as a “national standard” of health care, they will increase their search costs and make more discriminating health care choices.

Government restrictions on the production and sale of pharmaceutical products and medical devices must be eliminated. This means no more Food and Drug Administration, which presently hinders innovation and increases costs.

Costs and prices would fall, and a wider variety of better products would reach the market sooner. The market would force consumers to act in accordance with their own — rather than the government’s — risk assessment. And competing drug and device manufacturers and sellers, to safeguard against product liability suits as much as to attract customers, would provide increasingly better product descriptions and guarantees.

Eliminate all subsidies and special privileges to pharmaceutical companies and hospital systems.  Without a doubt, this means eliminating all liability protection laws currently in place for the pharmaceutical companies.  This liability protection and subsidies from Congress given to the NIH, CDC and others seems to only have encouraged them to make people more sick than to try and cure them, if Robert Kennedy’s book has any truth within it.  Subsidies create more of whatever is being subsidized. If you subsidize ill health you encourage ill health.  Subsidizing ill health promotes carelessness, indigence, and dependency. If we eliminate them, we would strengthen the will to live healthy lives and to work for a living.    

We will have to take a hard look at Medicare and Medicaid and highlight any provisions that seem to encourage carelessness with one’s health.  Money should be spent on programs which educate people on healthy living, such as providing it to social service agencies to help the poor navigate the new insurance and health care landscape.  However, force should never be used to make individuals do things which they do not believe is in their own best interest.  We need to take a hard look at agricultural regulations to be ensure that individuals have the information and freedom to make healthy food choices.

The solutions section of this article borrowed heavily from one that originally appeared on Mises.orghttps://www.lewrockwell.com/1970/01/hans-hermann-hoppe/a-four-step-health-care-solution/

John Stewart – FCLPO At-Large Member

Worse Than You Think

 There is talk of another round of lockdowns for the Omicron variant and the winter weather, since Covid does seem to be seasonal, so it seems reasonable to give them an evaluation so far.  There have been a lot of other, more informed people than me talking about whether lockdowns have been effective (my understanding of the peer reviewed literature is that they have not been shown to have statistically significant positive effects), but not much talk about the costs.

That seems weird to me, haven’t people been talking more about the overdose deaths, destruction of the economy, and so on coming from the lockdowns?  How Australia is having the military round up people and put them in camps and many countries having lockdowns of only the unvaccinated?  How peoples’ bodily autonomy is being violated, and they are being stripped of their livelihoods?

Sure they have.  I do really appreciate that.  But what about the number of deaths in the third world from this?  A number that in any other circumstance would be rightly called a genocide, but is hard to notice because it is buried in statistics.

How many people in the third world will die from the lockdowns?  It is hard to be sure, since there are disagreements over the number of deaths from poverty, but it is in the millions.  Every year, roughly 500,000 people die from tainted water.  1,500,000 die from indoor air pollution.  300,000 – 9,000,000 die from hunger.  These 2.3 to 11 million deaths a year are due to poverty and are entirely preventable.  These deaths are mostly youth children. 

What does this have to do with the lockdowns?  The lockdowns have pushed roughly 100 million people back into absolute poverty, increasing the number of people below that line by 17%.  Many others have been made poorer or had dropping standards of living due to the lockdowns.  Take all of those deaths above, take 17% of that, and realize those hundreds of thousands or millions of deaths will keep happening every year since people in absolute poverty are often trapped there.

India has had more deaths from lockdown induced starvation than Covid.  The projected 400,000 children that will die this year in Yemen is a combination of Covid lockdowns and the US/Saudi alliance bombing their farms and water systems.  There is a 6 times increase in famine-like conditions in the world.  Remember, the US is the world’s largest food exporter, and our shelves are sometimes empty.  How much worse is it for the countries that rely on us?

Did it have to be this way?  No.  People were warning us in the beginning, and throughout, that lockdowns would lead to the deaths of millions of the poorest in the world and they were ignored.  If you were against lockdowns you didn’t have an argument, you just wanted haircuts, remember?  Malawi is a good example of this, since their people protested and fought.  They stopped the lockdowns entirely, and they have had some of the world’s lowest Covid deaths and infections ever since: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/countries-and-territories/malawi/.

Why does this all matter?  Because politicians are pushing for lockdowns again, and this will lead to far more deaths than Covid can ever inflict.  The politicians and pundits who pushed for this intentionally ignored the economist and humanitarians, and they should be stopped and treated like the blood soaked monsters that they are.  

Drake Lundstrom, FCLP Co-Chair

A History Of “You have to do this to protect someone else”: Part 2

A reader wrote this in response to last month’s Opinion Piece:

Mr. Lundstrom makes a few good points in his essay, but I wonder how many of us may never have been here if mandatory polio and tuberculosis vaccines had not been received by our parents.  I would bet that, if choice were left to individuals, those diseases would still be a worldwide scourge.  We still cannot get rid of polio and TB entirely, only because some pockets of the world population are not vaccinated.It’s long been a Libertarian principle that one’s freedom extends only to the point that it endangers others.  Sure, I object to the government being involved in personal health matters, but too many people are allowing their stubbornness to make them idiots.
In lieu of a regular Opinion Piece I am printing Mr Lundstrom’s response:
 I share your positive feelings about the Polio and Tuberculosis vaccine.  I have been a member of Rotary for a couple of years now, and volunteered with them as a student even longer, and am proud of the thousands of dollars that I have raised and donated to making the Polio vaccine more available in the few remaining countries.  Though, unfortunately, it is politics, governments, and wars preventing the last few regions from getting vaccinated. With that said, the polio and tuberculosis vaccines were never mandatory.  It is also not the case that the tuberculosis vaccine prevents spread.  Even if everyone had the vaccine for it, it would not stop the disease: https://www.who.int/teams/health-product-policy-and-standards/standards-and-specifications/vaccines-quality/bcg With regard to our liberties stopping when it endangers others, that is true.  However, the burden of proof is on the side who is trying to limit freedoms, and they have not met that burden.  The current Covid 19 vaccines appear to have mixed effects on the spread of the disease, especially after a few months pass and as new strains appear among countries like India that are not scheduled to be fully vaccinated before 2024.  On top of that, countries that have been heavily vaccinated (such as Israel or Switzerland) how now seen large spikes in the disease.  That is not to say that the vaccine is not effective at protecting individuals from harm, but if the claim is that getting vaccinated protects others, there is much less evidence to support that, and you need to meet a high standard of proof to violate someone’s bodily autonomy. Beyond that, if the goal was to increase vaccination rates, I think that the answer would be pretty clear, and would be the same pathway walked by the polio vaccine before: tell the truth, address arguments openly, and actually follow the science.  This whole pandemic has been a case study in officials lying to the public, and many of those lies have latter been admitted.  On top of that, experts with legitimate questions and arguments have been suppressed by the media and social media.  It is reasonable for people to doubt what the government is saying when they refuse to answer experts in vaccinology asking why people who have already been infected with Covid have to get vaccinated anyways (especially since many countries with a vaccine mandate actually do have that exception) https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21ADfHk3IuaBrEH34&cid=914431B73799994E&id=914431B73799994E%2176735&parId=914431B73799994E%2173522&o=OneUp Finally, I don’t think that our philosophy is perfect or will bring about a utopia.  We can only act within our limited knowledge of the world.  But what I can say with high confidence at this point is that the lock downs have brought about more avoidable deaths from poverty (starvation, cholera, indoor air pollution, etc.) than Covid would kill even if it infected the whole world.  Yet, when that was going on, discussion was repressed and a policy was mandated.  I don’t know for sure what the best thing for us to do going forward is, but given the track record, I am very heavily leaning towards informing people and helping them rather than mandating and forcing them. My original piece was about the track record of mandated government interventions, and given that the polio and BCG vaccines were not mandated, I still do not know of an example in the last 100 or so years of US history where people were mandated to do something and there was a positive result.  

Drake LundstromFCLPO Vice-Chair

A History Of “You have to do this to protect someone else”:

The national government is mandating vaccination with the justification, paraphrased: “you have to take this to protect someone else”. This is an argument that governments have used time and time again, and it’s worth seeing how it has been abused in the past. Just the US over the last century or so has had many instances of this abuse of power. 

Eugenics: The same Supreme Court case that allowed for mandated vaccinations also allowed for forcibly sterilizing people who were criminals or simply not smart enough. The famous quote from it is “three generations of idiots is enough”, and the justification was that stupid or criminal people would have children that damaged others or cost them money to take care of. I don’t think that I need to explain just how morally horrific this is, especially since this was still happening recently (for example: 148 female inmates were sterilized in California between 2006 and 2010). 

WW1: The phrase “shouting fire in a crowded theater” originated from a different terrifying Supreme Court case against anti-war protestors. The idea was if you spoke out against the war, you were putting others “in danger”, and the government would arrest you. You have to shut up to protect someone else. 

Prohibition: Alcohol was banned in large part because people drinking put others in danger. The result of this was the creation of organized crime in the US, the highest murder rate in US history, and a large number of overdose deaths from black market, unsafe alcohol. 

War on drugs: The main argument that created the war on drugs was using marijuana or other drugs made someone a danger to others. The movie Reefer Madness is a good time capsule of the arguments made at the time, but overall the war on drugs was not started to protect people from drugs. It was to stop you from taking drugs to protect everyone else. This has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions being locked up, the overdose epidemic, and an ever-growing international system of dangerous cartels. 

9/11: The Patriot Act was pre-written before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.  The Act was voted on and signed into law before the end of the following month.  It authorized indefinite detention of immigrants without trial.  It permitted law enforcement to search property and records without a warrant, consent, or knowledge.  It contained numerous provisions that cancelled previously respected freedom and privacy of financial transactions.  It opened the door for mass surveillance of U.S. Citizens. The travel restrictions imposed and enforced by the TSA were forerunners to the government travel restrictions we’re facing today.  We even saw the phenomenon culturally. The US considered kidnapping and assassinating Julian Assange.  Both Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for Edward Snowden’s return and trial, with execution for treason on the table.  “If you are not with us, you are with the terrorists!” If you argued against the deadly regime change wars the US has been in for the last 20 years, you are putting everyone else in danger. 

Gay marriage: One of the big arguments against gay marriage was that it would hurt “society” or “the children”. People were not allowed to marry who they liked because even just viewing it or knowing about it would “harm” others. Similar arguments are still being made about other groups in the LGBTQ+ community. 

2020 lockdowns: We now know, based on many studies on the subject (that we would be happy to send to you if asked), that the lockdowns did little to nothing to prevent the spread and

danger of Covid. Countries like Sweden, with no lockdown, did about the same as the rest. Even worse, lockdowns caused tens or hundreds of thousands of children starving to death in the third world, over 100,000,000 people forced into absolute poverty, not even to mention the mental harm, restriction of freedom, and delay of medical procedures in richer countries. 

But this time, in 2021, we should trust them unconditionally? That is not to say that vaccines in general, or the Covid vaccines are not safe and effective. What I’m saying is we should be allowed to have the discussion, learn, and decide for ourselves. Everyone is in a different situation medically and you own your own body. No one should be able to force you to put something in your body that you don’t want to put in it. Make no mistake: if the government takes someone poor and makes it illegal for them to buy food anywhere within an hour of their house, they are forcing them. 

This argument has had a pretty terrible track record and that is worth knowing.

Drake Lundstrrom, Vice-Chair, FCLPO

What Was It All For?

Some years ago there was a science fiction series called Babylon 5. As one of the many running storylines, one of the alien races called the Centauri invaded and occupied the homeworld of another alien race called the Narn.  In exchange for help from the former Narn ambassador in eliminating the insane Centauri Emperor, the Centauri ambassador promised to end the occupation of the Narn homeworld.

As the Centauri were withdrawing, the Centauri ambassador’s aide, one of the more sympathetic characters in the series, looked out a window to watch the Narn celebrations and said, “What was it all for?”

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, watching our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban, the group we invaded to overthrow, retake control of the country, I have to ask myself the exact same question.

What was it all for?

The government and military we put it placed couldn’t surrender fast enough to the Taliban. Every gain women made in the last 20 years evaporated seemingly overnight as the pre-invasion status quo reasserted itself.

What was it all for?

Trillions of dollars spent, thousands of lives lost or maimed just for everything to go back to the way it was.

What was it all for?

Or better yet, what can we learn from it?

Maybe countries don’t like being occupied, even if it’s “for their good.”  The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 and eventually declared it unwinnable and withdrew with their tail between their legs. We just did the same after 20 years.  Even the great and glorious British Empire tried their hand at it a few times in the 1800s and eventually decided to finally withdraw after the third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919. 

(It’s telling that Dr Watson from the original Sherlock Holmes stories was wounded during Britain’s war in Afghanistan, and the Dr Watson from the recent modern-day Sherlock was also wounded in the modern-day war in Afghanistan.)

I joked recently that Afghanistan must be a pretty impressive country having fought three global super powers to a standstill. 

I also found it interesting when President Biden recently remarked that citizens with guns wouldn’t stand a chance against a government with F-15s.

Apparently, they can.

“But what of the Afghan citizens?” You may ask, “What about all the women who had a taste of freedom and, overnight, are back to the world of The Handmaid’s Tale?”

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s sad and tragic, but what is the alternative?  The speed with which the country fell and the speed with which the Afghan army rushed to surrender tells me that whatever “gains” Afghan society made under our occupation would not have survived our eventual withdrawal whenever that may have been.  I really don’t want to say this, but, from firsthand reports from the ground, it almost seemed like all the men couldn’t wait to be back under Taliban rule.  That doesn’t say a whole lot for a country we “liberated”.

There is a line from another television show that seems germane to the situation, “Sometimes the only choices you have are bad ones, but you still have to choose.”

Ken HolppCommunications Director, FCLPO

How You Can Change The Law

 It seems like everything and everyone has gotten more political over the past year.  Families and friends engaging in regular screaming matches about Washington.  But the funny thing about that?  You, me, and anyone you know personally (with rare exceptions) have almost no influence in what happens in Washington, and we are mostly ignoring the area where we do have lots of influence: our local governments. 

The vast majority of people can’t name their mayor, much less their town council members.  Even less than that have ever been inside city hall, or their equivalent, and even less have been there for an actual session.  What does that mean?  That since under 5 people show up to a regular city council meeting (and I am talking about cities smaller than 100,000 people, not Columbus), you can have a big influence if you do show up.

Most city council members just run on a few big issues and aren’t super partisan on the rest, and are open to good ideas, and as libertarians, we have lots of those.  If you want to get a law changed, all you need to do is show up to a few meetings, find an area where you and the city council largely agree, and propose some sample legislation.  We even have it already written for you, whatever you want to do:

Decriminalize marijuana. 

End no knock raids.

Reduce restrictions on gun rights.

And much more .

So yes, I am saying that if you want to change laws, become a lobbyist.  But don’t do it for a corporation, do it for freedom and the rights of everyone.  This is far easier than getting elected, and unlike arguing around the thanksgiving table, this will let you change and contribute to your home.
Drake Lundstrom, FCLP Vice-Chair

Opposition to State Power Evaporates Whenever There Is a “Crisis”

Robert Higgs identified the Leviathan as an opportunistic beast, using crises—real or manufactured—to expand its realm, to slither its tentacles into the remaining halls where large amounts of liberty are found. Any national or international event can be spun into the need for more government, more interventions, and more intrusions of its slimy appendages.

We have seen this time and time again, as the Leviathan strikes while the masses tremble. Somehow we are calmed by the sight of this powerful yet ugly serpentlike creature, believing that it is only grasping what it needs in order to protect us, and praying that it will release its grasp once the crisis passes.
However, government never willingly releases its hold of liberty. No, and in fact, any taste of the liberty that remains in possession of the masses simply whets government’s appetite for more. That which we give up in a momentary shudder of fear is gone forever.

Nevertheless, crises never seem to arise often enough for those wanting more power. Therefore, government will manufacture events, or spin the innocuous or unrelated incident into a crisis, whenever it desires more of the people’s liberty. While Higgs’s scholarship shows how this occurs at the national level, it also occurs at the local level as the sons of the Leviathan seek their own bits of power, the tidbits dropped from the mouth of the great beast.

Not four miles from my home is an old bridge that captivates many. Folks like the bridge’s style, simple beauty, and setting. The bridge, a registered national historic place, spans a section of the Olentangy River that still holds its natural qualities—a stretch of the water designated as a state scenic river.

Local and state officials—led by the county engineer, an elected official—wanted to tear down this bridge years ago. They regularly cited its age, restricted traffic flow, and possible structural deficiencies as reason to replace it with a modern—though institutional-looking—cement span. In opposition, local residents and other nature lovers have fought government all along. They have used every possible means to stop the destruction of their favored bridge. In fact, they even appealed to laws that protect areas designated as state scenic rivers and bridges deemed historic—anything to stop the state (you just have to love it when laws impede the state and its local minions).

The two groups—bridge lovers and government officials—locked horns, with neither side gaining ground. But, that all ended with one tragic event: the collapse of a bridge in Minneapolis. Finally, a crisis.

Within days, the county had reevaluated the structure of the bridge and determined that it was indeed deficient. Well, the bridge wasn’t actually deficient, but there was some slight evidence that overweight vehicles may have continued to cross it. So, they closed it down.

After years of battles, it only took one national event to change the balance of power at the local level: government had won. No voices arose from bridge lovers in defense of their span. No, they simply rolled over in the face of the fear; they blinked. And with that, years of battle ended, and their bridge is gone.
It certainly appears that local governments used the timing of a national tragedy to pursue their goals. The closing of the bridge was now an issue of safety, and government always claims a monopoly on the ability to provide safety. And, more important, the majority of local citizens have come to agree with government on this.

OK, so this incident is not really a matter of negative rights, but it does show how even local governments take advantage of any situation, large or small. And how local residents willingly concede that government is security.
More to the point: in June of 2001, a local resident was arrested for possession of pipe bombs, assault rifles, etc. This individual and his fellow conspirators were bombing and shooting in the state park not seven miles from my home, in an outlying suburban area. The man had strong ties to national groups that advocate violence as a means to achieve political ends.

Even though there was strong evidence to believe that harm would result from the groups’ activities, and given that this all occurred after Oklahoma City, it is hard to imagine today that the arrest was only considered minor local news. The Leviathan could not advance, not yet anyway.

A few years later, another local resident blustered about bombing a local mall. There was never any evidence that he possessed the wherewithal to execute his plans. Yet, post-9/11, this arrest achieved much greater attention. The Leviathan was allowed to advance because a majority of local residents have accepted—no, embraced—the belief that only government can provide safety in a crisis, and that safety is more valuable than liberty.

Finally, there are the debates over how much money is required by the various local governments to protect us in the event of a major natural disaster. Katrina has become the cry for more funding, because many believe that there can never be too much money spent on safety.

Given this, the city administrator rolls out the most fantastic scenario of catastrophe and emphatically states “We have to be ready for this.” Not to be outdone, the police and fire chiefs one-up the administrator and each other with scenarios bordering on the bizarre, claiming that “the city must be ready for these also.” Then, in unison, council members and local media race to bring attention to the need for more government, and the local Leviathans smile.

Of course, money is the solution, and more is always needed. However, dare question them and they will scream “Katrina, Katrina, Katrina!” The crisis drives it all.

So, we have a closed bridge, reduced liberty, and additional taxes. Yet many claim that we are safer for all of this. But are we safer, or is government safer? I venture to say that the local Leviathans are smug and more comfortable in our need for them. We, on the other hand, are in more danger than ever of losing the remnants of liberty that we still hold in our possession.

We must be vigilant with regard to the great Leviathan, as well as its local sons. They all exist solely to rob the liberty we hold dear.

Jim Fedako

Jim Fedako, a business analyst and homeschooling father of seven, lives in the wilds of suburban Columbus.

[Originally published as “Sons of Leviathan” in October 2007.]
Republished with permission https://mises.org/library/opposition-state-power-evaporates-whenever-there-crisis

First, Do No Harm

59 years ago a wonder drug swept Europe and the UK promising a restful sleep to anxious expectant mothers. 

FTA-By 1960, Thalidomide was marketed in 46 countries, with sales nearly matching those of aspirin.

Around this time, Australian obstetrician Dr. William McBride discovered that the drug also alleviated morning sickness. He started recommending this off-label use of the drug to his pregnant patients, setting a worldwide trend. Prescribing drugs for off-label purposes, or purposes other than those for which the drug was approved, is still a common practice in many countries today, including the U.S. In many cases, these off-label prescriptions are very effective, such as prescribing depression medication to treat chronic pain.

However, this practice can also lead to a more prevalent occurrence of unanticipated, and often serious, adverse drug reactions. In 1961, McBride began to associate this so-called harmless compound with severe birth defects in the babies he delivered. The drug interfered with the babies’ normal development, causing many of them to be born with phocomelia, resulting in shortened, absent, or flipper-like limbs. A German newspaper soon reported 161 babies were adversely affected by Thalidomide, leading the makers of the drug—who had ignored reports of the birth defects associated with the it—to finally stop distribution within Germany. Other countries followed suit and, by March of 1962, the drug was banned in most countries where it was previously sold.”

While the FDA at the time declined to approve the drug Thalidomide state-side, it came very close, and was hardly the bastion of objective science. This close call led to an overhaul that tightened restrictions surrounding the surveillance and approval process for drugs sold in the US.

Over the past 20 years those processes have been slowly undermined and increasingly the FDA authorizes thread-bare clinical studies conducted by pharma with obvious conflicts of interest. Drugs rubber stamped by the FDA one day are pulled from the market the next. Late night TV is full of law firm ads asking if the audience has been harmed by a growing list of drugs that were once touted as “safe and effective”.

Libertarians call for the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration, not to eliminate food and safety processes already in place nationwide and directly managed by food processors and reputable drug companies, but to end the false sense of security the agency provides Americans, corrupt revolving door of agency staff into captured industries and the consistent failure it presents to the market.

We demand an open market that allows multiple competing voluntary private inspectors, much like Consumer Reports and other watchdog groups, who alert the public to dangers long before the FDA or its corrupt bureaucracy. 

Allowing any government or corporation to have a monopoly on the definition of human health is dangerous and unwise.

We are living through a moment in history that may change the American experience forever, and the FDA has been at the heart of each misstep and tragedy, without correction, without accountability and without direction.


Citation: https://helix.northwestern.edu/article/thalidomide-tragedy-lessons-drug-safety-and-regulation

An addendum on abolishing the FDA

This agency is directly responsible for the disastrous handling of Covid response, allowing home testing early in 2020 when it could have made all the difference, then pulling authorization and demanding all testing go through the CDC and HHS. With a testing bottle neck at the federal level state health departments were unable to ramp up testing to assure panicked state Governors that a health crisis in March 2020 was non-existent in most states. While New York, New Jersey and to a much lesser extent Washington State saw alarming numbers of positive tests and a handful of over run hospitals, Ohio in particular saw hospitals statewide at 96% empty and massively under used, waiting for a surge that never came.
The absurd delay in testing led to an over reliance on long discredited apocalyptic projections that led governors to over-react with lock downs and restrictions through the summer, forcing hospitals to stay empty much longer than was obviously needed. This has led to an increased fragility in our health care networks, as doctors and nurses were let go and hospitals closed.
Bizarre contradictory advice has been issued from the FDA ,and its sibling agency the CDC, over the course of the year, ranging from scientifically dubious “social distancing”, flip-flopping mask guidance, excessive quarantine and avoiding the much needed discussion on informed consent.

No government or corporation should have this much influence over public health. We demand good outcomes, not just good intentions. 


Citation: https://www.mobihealthnews.com/news/home-covid-19-testing-services-pump-brakes-after-fda-warns-fraudulent-kits

Citation: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/23/mit-researchers-say-youre-no-safer-from-covid-indoors-at-6-feet-or-60-feet-in-new-study.html

Michael Sweeney, At-Large member, FCLP

Papers Please?

The Vaccine passports are an Orwellian nightmare descending on America with the support of the same politicians and spokespeople who have lied to us hundreds of times before.  And the worst part?  Unlike the 2 weeks to flatten the curve that is still ongoing, or the corporate bailouts with under 10% of the money spent on relief checks, this policy would stay forever.

America has a long history of this.  The TSA was supposed to only exist for a few years, the federal income tax was sold as only a 3% tax on the richest of Americans.  The NSA would only be used to spy on foreign terrorists.  Every government program grows in scope to keep itself alive and this will be no different.  The early vaccine passport demos are not just a verification that you got the shots, but track and store data on you.  Your health, where you go, who you interact with.  If this gets passed, why not add more vaccines?  If we already have the data, shouldn’t the police be able to access it to see who was near a crime?  This will only get worse.

These Fascistic controls should be opposed by everyone: Libertarian, Democrat, Republican, or whatever else.  Beyond this being a cheap rip off of the Chinese social credit system, you should not be punished for being healthy.  You would be detained everywhere you go, guilty until proven innocent, unless you have your smartphone on you (because the only thing Americans need right now is more screen time).  

The left should oppose this because minorities and the disenfranchised will be the most targeted by these policies.  Beyond the cops having a new reason to pull anyone over, the poor would be less likely to have a smartphone.  Survey data also shows us that African Americans are some of the least likely to take the vaccine, just Google the Tuskegee Experiment, and will be the ones segregated by this (again).  And whatever happened to my body, my choice?

In spite of DeWine probably pushing for more horrific government tracking, any right winger with principles should oppose this.  Where in the Constitution does it grant the government the power to partner with unaccountable corporations to monitor and control everything that you do?  I thought that big government was the enemy?  How will you feel when cops are stopping you from walking into your church because you didn’t bring your smartphone with you?

This must be opposed by a broad coalition, but the good news is that it is a largely unpopular policy outside of the ruling elite.  This is one of the battles we can actually win.

Talk to your friends and family.  Call Congresspeople.  Don’t shut up and just let this happen, do what you can to oppose it. The Libertarian party will have your back, and we will be doing everything we can to stop this new tyranny.

Drake Lundstrom, Vice-Chair, FCLP