A Republic, If We Can Keep It

As 2023 arrives and the two-year anniversary of the infamous January 6th insurrection approaches, there is plenty to be grateful for as our imperfect nation ventures into the new year. Of course, there is also still much work to be done and more good fights to be fought. Here in Ohio, fascism continues to stand on our doorstep –– and is perhaps even knocking on the door –– especially as a new GOP supermajority is set to be seated in our Statehouse in January and Governor Mike DeWine starts his second term, both of which were decided by a majority of Ohio voters. Because of these recent midterm results, Ohio Republicans have been given a mandate –– and they will likely use it to their own advantage, just as they have since seizing power of every branch of our state government in 2010.

Case in point –– one of the Ohio GOP’s first power grabs after 2010 was to gerrymander Democrats out of relevance, redrawing Ohio’s state legislative and congressional districts in such a way that Democrats would eventually be relegated to obscurity. Consequently, Ohio’s Democrats have been plagued by a lack of funding, infighting and an inability to recruit quality candidates ever since. Then in 2013, when the GOP was gearing up for former Governor John Kasich’s re-election campaign in 2014, Republican power brokers realized the Libertarian Party of Ohio posed a threat to their win numbers, so they passed new ballot access rules to relegate Libertarians to obscurity as well. Consequently, Ohio’s Libertarians have been plagued by a lack of funding, infighting and an inability to recruit quality candidates ever since.

After their landslide victories in 2022, now the GOP is “coming for it all” –– to paraphrase Athens, Ohio’s own Joe Burrow in a less-fun way, when he was asked about the Cincinnati Bengals’ run for the Super Bowl earlier this year. In Ohio Republicans’ case, their next power grab will be to make it harder for Ohioans to amend our state constitution through a direct vote, a procedure that has been in place for over 100 years. This constitutional right ensured that Ohioans had a way to bypass an unresponsive state legislature and was endorsed by principled high-profile Republicans at the time, such as former President Teddy Roosevelt. Perhaps the irony is lost on Ohio’s modern day “Republicans” that their name derives from the term republic, in which power is held by the people and their elected representatives.

In fact, one of the most famous and often cited stories of the founding of our country –– an imperfect representative democratic constitutional republic as it may be, for anyone who needs an even longer definition –– is that as Benjamin Franklin was leaving Independence Hall in 1787, he was asked by a bystander about what kind of government the Constitutional Convention had created. Would it be “a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin reportedly replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Those poignant words still ring true today, especially as the potential tyranny of the supermajority –– or even a vocal minority –– attempts to enact policies that negatively impact millions of individuals’ rights. After all, republics are supposed to protect the constitutional rights of all citizens, not take them away.

Perhaps Ohio’s modern day Republicans need a reminder of this fact, especially considering that the Republican Party was originally founded as a third political party in the 1850s that sought to create a coalition of abolitionists –– those who were vehemently opposed to the practice of slavery in the United States –– as well as disenfranchised Whigs, the only political opposition at that time to the powerful and growing Democratic contingent in the country. Instead, this political party that started as a minor political party focused on protecting the rights of minorities has now turned their backs on both of those groups, while their supermajority only grows. From destroying minor parties’ ballot access to making it harder for poorer Ohioans to vote, Ohio Republicans seem to not understand the basic definition of “republic” at all.

So now it is our job as citizens to remind them. Earlier this month, I was proud to join over 500 demonstrators from over 170 organizations at the Statehouse to remind our elected representatives who exactly they are representing and what they can and cannot do as our elected representatives. We were there to remind them that their plan to make it harder for Ohioans to amend our state constitution would not be an easy fight. Fortunately, the legislature scrapped their plans to pass HJR6 due to a lack of support –– and while it may be gone for now, the effort could come back in 2023. If it does, this same coalition of Ohioans will be ready to fight again. After all, this is still a republic –– if we can keep it.

Travis Irving, 2018 Ohio Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate 
“This column was also published in The Columbus Free Press.” 

For Ourselves And Our Posterity

My wife and I recently celebrated the birth of our first child. A few weeks before he was born we were watching a particularly depressing evening news broadcast. We sat through half a dozen stories that evoked feelings of anger, sadness, and despair before looking at each other and asking, “What are we doing bringing a kid into this crazy world?” The question was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I imagine every parent asks themselves that at some point and it’s really not surprising why. Let’s take stock of where we’re at…

We’ve just come out of a multi-year pandemic that resulted in millions of lives lost. The attempt to control the severity of the pandemic has had a myriad of negative consequences. In an effort to save the crashing economy, the federal government initiated trillions of dollars of additional spending[1] with assistance from the federal reserve, which printed the money out of thin air. This increase in the money supply[2] devalued the dollar, and coupled with labor shortages, caused price increases that haven’t been seen in decades. Drug overdose deaths are higher[3], violent crime is on the rise[4], and home ownership is now even more of a pipedream for millennials and Generation Z[5].

When the pandemic started, children were sent home from school as districts scrambled to facilitate remote learning. When they were allowed to attend in-person, they were often required to wear face coverings. There is evidence that this response to COVID has saddled our children with a number of issues. We now have stunted personality development of young adults[6] and a mental health crisis for children[7]. ACT scores have dropped to their lowest in 30 years[8]. Two decades of progress in math and reading have vanished[9]. Our kids are now more obese than ever, with evidence that the average BMI for children have doubled[10].

In times like this, we should be able to turn to our leaders for guidance on where to go from here. Let’s check in on them to see where their priorities are: We have governors who are trying to harm the reputation of those in the opposing party by punting immigrants between states like a political football[11]. They’re sending billions of dollars (that we don’t have) to Ukraine[12] for a war that doesn’t involve us, increasing the risk of nuclear war with Russia. They’re beefing up IRS enforcement[13] to try and shake more pennies out of our piggy banks. And they’re arguing over whether Elon Musk should be allowed to buy Twitter[14].

So we face some large and unwieldy problems, and we have a political class that is either unwilling or unable to tackle them. I’ve always cared about liberty and freedom, but now I find myself asking what sort of country we’re going to be leaving for my son. Should we load him up with a public debt and a tax bill that he has no ability to consent to paying? Should we continue to devalue our currency and inflate the costs of college and home ownership? Am I supposed to be okay with him being obese, stupid, and depressed the next time a public health crisis emerges?

Since we cannot rely on our existing leaders to solve our problems, and since these leaders seem determined to curb our liberties at every step, we must roll up our sleeves and provide solutions ourselves. As Libertarians, we must be the voice calling for sound money, reduced government spending and taxation, and an end to involvement in foreign wars. It is imperative that we never allow the education or the social and emotional development of our children to suffer at the hands of bureaucrats and noisy fear-mongers. The fallout of the response to COVID should be the perfect case-study demonstrating how negative consequences are forced upon people when the government implements top-down edicts.

Fortunately, there is hope to be found in this sea of tears. Public trust in government remains very low[15]. The CDC has admitted that it got some things wrong[16]. More and more people are taking their children out of government schools and enrolling in private school[17] or opting to homeschool[18]. Homeschooled students tend to outperform their public school counterparts.[19] [20] And Americans are more willing to voluntarily help others with their time and money than they were before COVID[21].

The evidence is clear: top-down solutions have a tendency to create more harm than good. Solutions that are local and voluntary can minimize widespread risk and allow for faster error correction. Future generations are depending on us to set things right and we need to be ready to answer that call.

Jordan BertkeFCLPO Executive Committee At-Large Member

[1] https://www.usaspending.gov/disaster/covid-19?publicLaw=all

[2] https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=V2aQ

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p1218-overdose-deaths-covid-19.html

[4] https://www.safehome.org/resources/crime-statistics-by-state/

[5] https://www.statista.com/topics/4403/millennials-and-real-estate-in-the-us/

[6] https://www.sciencenews.org/article/pandemic-young-adults-personality-development

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8445752/

[8] https://leadershipblog.act.org/2022/10/GradClassRelease2022.html

[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/01/us/national-test-scores-math-reading-pandemic.html

[10] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7037a3.htm?s_cid=mm7037a3_w

[11] https://nypost.com/2022/09/15/ron-desantis-ships-2-planes-of-migrants-to-marthas-vineyard/

[12] https://nypost.com/2022/10/04/biden-sending-ukraine-625m-in-weapons-from-shrinking-us-stockpile/

[13] https://taxfoundation.org/inflation-reduction-act-irs-funding/

[14] https://ww w.foxnews.com/politics/congress-senate-house-musk-twitter

[15] https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2022/06/06/public-trust-in-government-1958-2022/

[16] https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2022/aug/24/opinion-cdc-finally-admits-it-botched-covid/

[17] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/07/during-covid-more-families-switch-to-private-school-from-public-.html

[18] https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/03/homeschooling-on-the-rise-during-covid-19-pandemic.html

[19] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232544669_The_Impact_of_Schooling_on_Academic_Achievement_Evidence_From_Homeschooled_and_Traditionally_Schooled_Students

[20] https://www.nheri.org/homeschool-sat-scores-for-2014-higher-than-national-average/

[21] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-08748-2

If We Ride the Cantillon Wave, We Should Remember That We’ll Crash with It Too

My daughter sometimes surfs the bore wave that heralds the incoming tide at Turnagain Arm, Alaska. The wave, or waves, to be exact, can reach a height of ten feet, but are usually smaller. Regardless of the size, the waves draw surfers from all over, each looking for the rush of riding a crest, and hoping not to crash in the foam.

While I have yet to surf those freezing waters, which are bounded by menacing quicksand-like mudflats, I recently rode a wave that lasted almost two years. To tell the truth, I enjoyed the ride. Sure, I knew my wave was the least of the series, with a subsequent one roaring in the distance. And I knew I had no chance of reaching the safety of a sandy shore before I was left crushed, broken, and shirtless by the tidal wave to come.

However, I also recognized that even if I skipped the thrills of the first wave, I would have ended up the same. There was neither a harbor nor breakwater to calm the seas on the ominous horizon. So I enjoyed the ride. What else could I do?

Irish banker Richard Cantillon is known for the observation that the first recipients of new money benefit at the expense of later ones. This is due to the first recipients being able to use the new money to purchase goods, assets, services, etc., while prices remain relatively low—these are the winners. By the time that money circulates into subsequent hands, prices have risen, offsetting any benefit. And, finally, when that money passes into later hands, prices have exceeded the nominal value of inflated wallets—these folks are the losers.

So when inflation—the increase in the money supply—occurs, you want to be riding the crest of the wave, letting others crash as it breaks over them.

Now the covid wave was huge—huge. And it kept on going. In all instances, I was a first recipient, as Uncle Sam stuffed my bank account on a regular basis—thousands and thousands of dollars, all totaled. With that money, I purchased stuff, took trips, etc. I really enjoyed being a first recipient. But then the wave of money stopped. 

That was in December, right around the time alarms were sounding the approaching doom.

I only rode the small wave that was bread and circuses for the masses. It was the payoff—the sleight of hand—which veiled the looming wave that dwarfed the first. The dollars churning in the groundswell and frothing off the white caps of that beckoning breaker, though somewhat delayed, were first received by the friends and family, so to speak, of government. And it’s the money rushing out of the friends and family wave that has me crashing daily at the pump and grocery store.

You can choose to ride a bore tide, risking the murky waters and mudflats. Or you can pick a vista along the road or mountainside to watch others surf the sea. It’s your choice. However, when the wave is an inflationary one, there is no means to opt out of crest and crash. Your only hope is to be connected to influence and power so that the bulk of the money passes through your hands first. Otherwise, the best you can do is enjoy some fun before it all comes crashing down on you.

So, on one hand, you reap at the expense of others, leaving suffering in your wake, while on the other hand, you can, at best, taste a few drops of the Cantillon waters before drowning in its depths. Neither are ways to live a good life. Neither are ways to secure a future.

The Cantillon effect is not just theoretical, it’s real. For almost two years, I rode a small Cantillon wave. And now, a colossal one is crashing all around me. When I was riding the ridge, I knew what was coming. Yet, just like King Canute, I had no power to influence the tide. I could only ride my wave until the tidal wave overtook me. And now I am paying, and paying, for the wave that has eroded the sand under my feet, fortifying the balance sheets of those better connected.

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

Reprinted with permission: https://mises.org/wire/if-we-ride-cantillon-wave-we-should-remember-well-crash-it-too


Every now and then I go on social media to remind myself why we deserve extinction. My most recent example is something that’s been going asking if people have noticed that every couple that appears in television commercials is interracial. And the typical response is that it’s the work of woke corporations trying to push diversity on the general public. 

And there’s the outcry every time a black actor is cast in a Star Wars project.

Bob Jones University, a Baptist college, used to have rules against interracial dating until they were dropped following a media outcry after George Bush spoke there during the 2000 Presidential Campaign. They now allow interracial dating, provided both parties bring notes from their parents saying they give permission for their adult children to date someone of another race. Without said note, the university will respect the wishes of the parents (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Now what does this have to do with Roe vs Wade? 

When Roe v Wade was struck down on June 24th some people hailed it as a victory; some people decried it as a step backwards for women; others said the issue was merely sent back to the States where it should have been all along. Some states will keep it legal; some states already have trigger laws to criminalize abortion the moment Roe v Wade is overturned.

But does anyone think it will end there. 

Justice Clarence Thomas, in his written opinion, cited several other decisions he would like to see reversed using the same justification used to reverse Roe, these include the the decisions legalizing same-sex marriage, same-sex activity, and contraception. The Texas State Republican Party just condemned all three as part of their State Party Platform. They’re already talking about bringing those issues back before the Supreme Court. 

But there’s a decision Justice Thomas didn’t mention, the decision that legalized interracial marriage. 

And that brings me back to the beginning. 

I’ve seen too many people decrying interracial couples on social media not to think they wouldn’t jump at the chance to have that decision reversed too. I’ve seen too many people jump on the bandwagon of religious extremism to justify their own hates and fears.

We, as a people, need to step up and protect our freedoms from being eaten away by those who always believe they’re doing the right thing. 

Otherwise Roe will be only the first domino to fall.

Ken HolppFCLPO Communications Director 

Ludo Fore Putavimus

A lot of exciting things are coming in the next couple of months – both the State and National Conventions and the Central Committee elections.  I highly encourage you to participate in as many of these as you can.

As the Republicans and Democrats increasingly turn to their fringe groups for support (and battle their influence at the same time) it is ever more important that we stand up and show people the better alternative we offer.

As the world spins ever more out of control it is important to show people that the cause of liberty is the best path to sanity.

So donate or get involved and help us grow our movement.

You might just have fun doing it.

Ken HolppCommunications Director – FCLPO

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