It’s Free

One of the most misused words in the English language is “free,” as in “it’s free.” Whether it’s the free samples of stuff at Costco, or the free pens and refrigerator magnets they give away at your local bank or car dealership, or the free hip replacement your mother-in-law just received, we use the term freely, so to speak, without ever considering it’s true meaning.

When we say “it’s free,” what we really mean is that someone else is paying for it—voluntarily or involuntarily. And this is a very important distinction. Because one is morally defensible, while the other is not. One involves a clear violation of private property rights, enshrined in the Seventh Commandment, while the other does not. The Seventh Commandment states, “Thou Shalt Not Steal Thy Neighbor’s Goods.” This is the clearest affirmation of private property rights ever handed down. By The Man Himself. And it’s etched in stone. You can’t take someone else’s things, period. And just because you take something from someone and turn around and give it to someone you believe is deserving doesn’t justify it either. The Seventh Commandment is everything the Good Lord ever had to say about “social justice,”–about what is mine and what is thine.

The free samples of some new pineapple/anchovy salsa being handed out by the nice ladies in latex gloves at Costco are not really free. They are either being paid for by Costco, or the company that makes those dreadful concoctions. So while Costco is erroneously saying, “Try these free samples,” what they really should be saying is, “Try one of these dreadful concoctions that we or the producer are paying for.” The same with the pens and refrigerator magnets at your local bank or car dealership. And the customers are likewise incorrect when they proudly tell their spouses, “These pens were free, Honey.”

So, while the merchants and customers are misusing the word free in these examples, if only because it’s convenient; the actions in both cases are not immoral. Neither action involves breaking the Seventh Commandment nor anyone’s private property rights. Both the salsa and the pens and refrigerator magnets are owned by the parties giving them away. The owners can dispose of them as they wish. But, in any event, they are not free. Someone had to pay for them.

In the case of your mother-in-law’s hip replacement, however, it is neither free nor morally acquired. The new hip wasn’t free; it was clearly paid for by somebody else, in this case the taxpayer. And it was not morally acquired, since it involved a breach of the Seventh Commandment and private property rights. The money to pay for her new hip came out of her neighbor’s pocket, the very party the Seventh Commandment (and the United States Constitution) was designed to protect. The money to pay for the hip was taken from her neighbor by a third party, an intermediary we customarily call the government. Third Party intervention, however, does not legitimize the violation of the Seventh Commandment nor the very private property rights protected by the Seventh Commandment. If a highwayman robs you at gun-point and tells you they are going to give all your money to the needy, it doesn’t make it right. It’s still a violation of that pesky Seventh Commandment.

Both the hip replacement and the act of that thoughtful highwayman involve a breach of the Seventh Commandment and the private property rights protected by the Seventh Commandment. In either case, the ends do not justify the means. Nor is the hip replacement free. But if you ask your mother-in-law how much she had to pay for the hip replacement, she would in all likelihood and without a second thought say, “It was free.” What she really should have said was, “My neighbor paid for it, and they didn’t even ask him for permission.”

So the next time you’re about to casually say, “It’s free,” think again. Because, rightly or wrongly, it really means somebody else is paying for it.

The Artful Dilettante

Great Quote

A very good case can be made, on moral as well as economic grounds, for a system in which the individual is required to stand on his own feet, not to lean on the state for handouts. Character, resourcefulness, capacity are formed and developed in struggle with obstacles, not in waiting passively for benefits from outside.   William Henry Chamberlin

The Real Scandal of the Spending

Last week Congress passed a massive coronavirus relief and omnibus spending bill. President Trump threatened to veto the bill, saying he wants an increase in the amount for “stimulus” checks authorized by the bill from 600 dollars to 2,000 dollars. The checks are designed to help those harmed by the lockdowns. President Trump also demanded a cut in some of the wasteful spending contained in the bill, such as the ten million dollars for gender programs in Pakistan.

At the 11th hour, however, President Trump signed the bill.

President Trump’s veto threat came after many people complained that a 600 dollars one-time payment was insufficient, and that the payment could be higher if Congress cut spending on militarism, foreign aid, and corporate handouts.

The text of the 5,593-page bill was made available hours before the votes in the House and Senate. Representatives and senators were told the bill had to pass immediately or else government would shut down around Christmas. This does not excuse voting for the bill. Congress should have refused to vote for this bill until members had time to read it. Those who voted “yes” should not get away with claiming the bill needed to be passed before members could read it.

While it is understandable that many are outraged over the way this bill was rushed through, the real outrage is that the rushed passage of omnibus bills has become a yearly Christmas tradition on Capitol Hill. These spending bills are always full of outrageous special interest giveaways. This practice denies the average member of Congress a meaningful role in carrying out one of Congress’ two most significant constitutional duties — funding the government. Congress long ago abandoned its other main constitutional responsibility — declaring war.

Whether 600 dollars or 2,000 dollars, a one-time stimulus payment is hardly adequate compensation for the suffering the government lockdowns have inflicted on the American people. Stimulus checks will not reopen closed small businesses or stop increases in domestic violence and substance abuse. A government check will not restore educational and development opportunities denied to children stuck at home struggling with “virtual education.” A one-time check will not compensate workers for the health problems developed due to having to wear a mask for eight hours a day. The only just solution is to end the lockdowns, and never again allow overblown fears to justify shutting down the economy.

Funding the government via massive omnibus bills drafted in secret and rushed into law concentrates power in the hands of a select few representatives and senators. It also gives the president excessive influence over the appropriations process. This is exactly the opposite of what the Framers intended when they gave Congress power over government spending.

This situation is the inevitable result of a government that tries to maintain the fiction that republican institutions are compatible with a welfare-warfare leviathan. Congress will continue to indulge this delusion until the system collapses. This collapse will likely be brought on by a collapse in the dollar’s value.

The combination of the high-profile coronavirus bill with this year’s omnibus spending bill has brought new attention to Congress’ practice of funding the government via massive, unread appropriations bills. Hopefully, the anger people are expressing, instead of just disappearing once people receive their checks, will strengthen the movement to return to free markets and limited constitutional government. Liberty is a far better option than descent into economic chaos and totalitarianism.

Ron Paul

Who is to Blame for Black Poverty ?

We’re all familiar with the cycle of poverty in Black urban neighborhoods that Democrat politicians have run for decades. Everybody assumes it’s because Democrats are so wedded to their policies, they keep throwing good money after bad. Maybe that’s not the problem, though. Maybe Black Democrat politicians don’t want to help these areas, and the citizens in those areas don’t actually want to be helped. 

“Diversity” and “inclusion” are two of the most often heard buzzwords in our lives these days, with a heavy helping coming from the media, of course.  Tucker Carlson addressed the subject very well recently in an opinion piece where he discussed diversity versus the meritocracy, using Biden’s recently-announced cabinet selections to make his case. The evident theme for Joe Biden’s picks has nothing to do with whether his picks are actually qualified for their postings. Rather, that must check off the appropriate victim identity group box: female, Black, Hispanic, gay, trans, or (Jackpot!) a combination of two or more, where being a black Hispanic lesbian is the pinnacle of the victim hierarchy.  

In particular, I noted in the public remarks made by soon-to-be repeat offender against our economy, Janet Yellen, that a big part of her focus as Fed Chair is to address economic inequality, wage inequality, food insecurity, poverty — all seemingly benevolent causes until you peel back the onion just slightly and realize that she’s not talking about these things in the scope of helping everyone, regardless of race.  No, she’s specifically talking about “communities of color.”  Just so we’re clear, a group of people is going to receive different (preferential) treatment based solely on the color of their skin.  I’m pretty sure that’s called racism.

Yellen goes on to say that she also wants to provide more opportunities for people of color, because, she says in so many words, these opportunities are denied to people of color. She specifically states that opportunities are denied, so I must ask the question: Who exactly is doing the denying?  

If we look at the largest areas of concentration of Black people, which would be the large urban centers of New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit, just to name a few (and I’m not even crossing the Mississippi!), those areas presumably contain large numbers of black-owned businesses or at least Black people who would like to start a business . . .  you know, they’d like to, but they’re being denied the opportunity.  (I think we all know the subtext when someone is saying that “people of color” are being allegedly mistreated, the alleged mistreatment is at the hands of Evil White Conservatives.)

So, again, who is doing this denying?  All of the major cities that I just listed, and dozens more just like them across the country, have been run for decades by Democrat mayors and city councils, with assistance from Democrat Congressmen on both a state and federal level.  One must therefore assume that these same people in charge are also very influential regarding who receives economic opportunities or assistance, right?  Thus, this horrible denying is being done, in fact, by the very people now crying about the fact that the denying is happening!

As usual, it takes mental gymnastics on an Olympic level to reconcile leftist thinking.  Democrats have had control of these cities for decades and what have their policies brought their “people of color?”  Misery, poverty, violence, and addiction.  Obama and Biden had eight years, with two of those eight having the benefit of both houses of Congress on their side, but they didn’t come up with any miracle salve to soothe the troubles of the inner cities.  What on earth would lead us to believe that this will be any different under Biden and Harris?  

Or is it more practical and pragmatic if we believe that, via Occam’s Razor, the simplest answer is the correct one: These so-called leaders in Democrat-run enclaves have no real interest in helping their constituents pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty.  For decades, Democrats have had their faithful Black voters right where they want them; namely, poor and dependent on the government. We give you stuff, you vote for us. That’s the unspoken agreement.  But when a true leader finally comes around who has a plan and the political will to do something to help these communities — like Kimberly Klacik in the Baltimore Congressional district formerly ruled by the late Elijah Cummings — she receives a paltry 28% of the vote.  Now the always useless 10-year Congressional veteran Kweisi Mfume has Cummings’s old job and somehow those precious opportunities are still being denied.

I’ve already established solid evidence that Democrat politicians — even and especially Black Democrat politicians — have little to no interest in helping their Black constituents.  But there is another side to that coin. The evidence seems to show that Black people themselves appear to not want to be helped.  One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.  So, are Black voters in these areas insane?  They keep voting for the likes of Sheila Jackson Lee, Maxine Waters, and Kweisi Mfume, but expect these serial grifters to suddenly start working for them. 

In my eyes, that puts the blame squarely on both parties, the politicians and the voters who keep sending them back to their offices.  Is it because the way things stand now, those voters are cozily wrapped up in their blanket of victimhood?  Is it so comfy in there receiving their government subsistence handouts that they can’t be bothered to get out and do something about it?  Is the alternative to this abusive, co-dependent relationship — personal responsibility, hard work, and entrepreneurialism — just too difficult to face?  

My prediction for all of these cities that I’ve mentioned, and any other Democrat-run major cities around the country, is that if a Biden/Harris ticket sets up shop in the White House, in four years’ time those cities will look much the same as they do now, except with four more years’ worth of decay, addiction, and violent crime.  But those citizens can comfort themselves that they still have someone else to blame for their problems. 

H.P. Smith, American Thinker

VIDEO: Woman Finds Out She’s Approved for Welfare

VIDEO: Woman Finds Out She’s Approved for Welfare
Political Insider

Commentary:  This video says it all.  As I noted in yesterday’s post, there was a time when being on public assistance, like getting pregnant out of wedlock or going into rehab, was a source of embarrassment, or at least kept under wraps.  And being on public assistance was a only a short-term fix, a temporary waystation till you put your life back together after losing a job or suffering a personal setback.

This is no temporary situation.  This woman will be on the public dole till she reaches room temperature.  She’ll spend her days watching soaps and eating bon-bons.

This woman is the face of the Culture of  Dependency.  The poster child of what we have become.

Medicare: Socialism’s Sacred Cow by Michael J. Hurd + commentary

“Ben [Carson] wants to knock out Medicare,” said Donald Trump. “I heard that over the weekend. He wants to abolish Medicare. Abolishing Medicare, I don’t think you’ll get away with that one. It’s actually a program that’s worked. It’s a program that some people love, actually.” [Newsmax.com 10-27-15]

Actually, Carson does not propose abolishing Medicare. According to DailyCaller.com, he says he would not end Medicare and would use health savings accounts, which would eliminate “the need for people to be dependent on government programs.” Carson wants to “provide people with an alternative” that he describes as “so much better than anything else,” but added he doesn’t plan on ending Medicare completely.

Carson is under fire not for suggesting that we should privatize and phase out Medicare — which we should — but merely for hinting that we might provide an alternative to the coercive, government-run program. He’s under fire not just from Democrats, but from fellow Republicans, particularly Ohio Governor John Kasich and apparent front runner for the nomination, Donald Trump.

Is Trump right? Is Medicare popular and, if so, does that automatically make it morally right and fiscally sustainable?

Can’t a majority be wrong? And if they are, isn’t it the job of a leader — in politics, or anywhere else — to educate that majority as to why they’re wrong, and what the consequences of their errors are? Even if that means losing an election in one case (Republicans already lose anyway, even when they win), might it not become an advantage a few years down the road, when they’re shown to be right?

Medicare is a single-payer, socialized insurance plan for those 65 years and older. Back in 1965, Congress would have passed a single-payer plan for everyone, if they thought they had the votes. Even in 2010, Obama and the Democratic Congress would have passed a single payer plan, if they thought they had the votes. (Obamacare was the next best thing).

What nobody seems willing to examine — not even Ben Carson, who’s at least willing to slightly hint at it — is whether single-payer insurance is ever morally right, for seniors or for anyone?

Medicare is a coercive government monopoly. It’s even more communistic and socialistic than, say, public schools. With public schools, you can opt out. Granted, private schools are more expensive and in shorter supply than they otherwise would be, because government dominates the market with federally funded public schools. But it’s not against the law to send your child to a private school, or even home school, in many cases.

Not so with Medicare. With Medicare, once you turn 65, you’re on Medicare, like it or not. You have no right to purchase an alternative plan in the marketplace (or to have planned on one years before), because there is no marketplace, and it’s against the law. While there are “Medigap” plans (Medicare secondary insurance) available through quasi-private insurance companies, most people do not understand that those plans follow the rules of Medicare and the government, not the market. In other words, if your doctor or health provider does not participate with Medicare, then your secondary “Medigap” insurance will not cover that provider, either. And all the rules, edicts, regulations that apply to Medicare likewise apply to the secondary insurance.

Medicare is a monopoly. It’s a coercive, one-size-fits-all single-payer system. If Republicans running for President will not acknowledge this, then I don’t know who will. It’s a fact, all the same.

Is Medicare popular? Well, of course it is. People have no other choice. But “popularity” implies a willingness to choose one option over all others. If there are fifty restaurants in a town, one or two restaurants might draw 60 or even 75 percent of the diners. We’d call those restaurants the most popular, with good reason. Medicare is, according to the law of the land, the only option for seniors in health insurance. By what stretch do you call that popular, or say that people “love” it?

It’s reasonable to assume that most people on Medicare would not want the plug pulled on it overnight. I don’t know of anyone who’s proposing that. The only rational and just way to handle the problem is to phase Medicare out. Put young people on notice there will be no Medicare program for them, because there most certainly will not be anyway, given the fiscal unsustainability that its morally wrong and coercive approach creates. Unless the U.S. economy can find a way to sustain debts and deficits too high for economists or computers to calculate, or tax rates so high that the economy will grind to a complete halt, Medicare (like Social Security) cannot go on forever.

Debate should be open to how best, or in what way, start privatizing Medicare and all of health care in America. Until or unless we get to that point, no discussion of the subject makes any moral or economic sense. Even flailing about Obamacare does not address the core issue. If you want to privatize health care in America, you’ve got to take on Medicare.

Medicare’s fiscal unsustainability (freely acknowledged by the government, including Obama’s own Treasury Department) is not the worst thing about it. The worst thing about it is that it’s forced. It prevents people from freely acting as they otherwise would. Why are proponents of Medicare, Donald Trump included, so afraid of a free market, or even an alternative market as Ben Carson suggests we might need? If Medicare is as beloved and as great as they assume, nobody will ever opt out of it. Of course, even if we established health savings accounts for seniors as Carson proposes, it’s still not a fair competition, because government would still have the upper hand with its federally funded (albeit bankrupt) programs. Yet nobody can tolerate even this much competition with the government in health care, not even the vast majority of Republicans. It’s pathetic.

Donald Trump is supposed to be such a smart businessman, and so willing to speak his mind. Both of these things may be true. But his comment that Medicare is popular and beloved by seniors is laughable. If the government passed a law that people may buy only one kind of car — same size, color and model for everyone — would you call that brand and style of car popular? Even though that’s the only one they’re permitted to buy or own?

That’s exactly what Donald Trump and other Republicans are saying.

Without any meaningful or principled opposition to Medicare, Republicans are dead in the water on health care. We might as well have the Democrats in charge. These are their programs, and if socialism is morally justified in health care, then socialism is morally justified potentially anywhere. If Republicans really opposed socialism in principle, they’d be willing to take on or at least question the sacred cow of Medicare.—Michael J. Hurd, drhurd.com

Medicare: The Mother of All Generational Larceny by The Artful Dilettante

Medicare is the Big Enchilada, the mother of all generational larceny. Like most federal entitlement programs, Medicare is financed through long-term debt. In other words, the cost of every hip replacement, knee replacement, open-heart surgery, kidney replacement, indeed most eldercare, will be borne by our children and grandchildren, the young and unborn. Talk about taxation without representation. We older Americans love to talk about how much we love and spoil our progeny. We brag about their report cards and athletic prowess, and shower them with money and gifts well beyond anything they’ve done to deserve it. Yet we have no guilt, no mercy, and give not a second thought to them when it comes to passing along the costs of our old age onto them. Because of us, they will inherent a debt they will struggle and suffer their whole lives to pay. Our legacy is nothing less than making them slaves to debt. We all want to live to be 100 as long as someone else is footing the bill, bearing the consequences. Try asking an elderly person, “Who paid for your hip replacement?” and they’ll likely respond, “It was free,” or “The government paid for it.” Their response should accurately be, “My neighbor paid for it, and they didn’t even ask for his permission.” Or, “My newborn grandchild will be paying for it her whole life, and I don’t even care,” or how about, “My kids are paying for it. It’s part of their inheritance.” So don’t go around shouting from the rooftops how much you love and spoil your grandchildren. As long as you are mortgaging their future, you’re just blowing smoke. And making a lot of Wall Street bankers very happy.

 

 

It’s Free

One of the most misused words in the English language is “free,” as in “it’s free.” Whether it’s the free samples of stuff at Costco, or the free pens and refrigerator magnets they give away at your local bank or car dealership, or the free hip replacement your mother-in-law just received, we use the term freely, so to speak, without ever considering it’s true meaning.  When we say “it’s free,” what we really mean is that someone else is paying for it—voluntarily or involuntarily.  And this is a very important distinction. Because one is morally defensible, while the other is not.  One involves a clear violation of private property rights, enshrined in the Seventh Commandment, while the other does not.  The Seventh Commandment states, “Thou Shalt Not Steal Thy Neighbor’s Goods.” This is the clearest affirmation of private property rights ever handed down.  By The Man Himself.  And it’s etched in stone.  You can’t take someone else’s things, period. And just because you take something from someone and turn around and give it to someone you believe is deserving doesn’t justify it either. The Seventh Commandment is everything the Good Lord ever had to say about “social justice,”–about what is mine and what is thine. Continue reading