Sydney Kendall Says

Thinking in public about anything that matters.

Category: Liberty (page 1 of 2)

Obamacare’s “Independent Payment Advisory Board”

HowardDean_IPAB

I believe in government as policeman.  Its job is to be the legal power that pursues those who commit violence and fraud, who initiate physical force against others.   Its job is to punish right’s violators.  It’s job is to go after criminals and defend against foreign aggressors.  It’s job is the use of force in retaliation against those who initiate it and to stop those who threaten to initiate it.

It is *the* legal entity that has the right to use violence in pursuit of rights violators and to use violence, if necessary to stop, to imprison, or even to kill those who do not demonstrate through their actions a willingness to avoid initiating violence or using fraud against their fellowman.  That job is complex enough and requires vigilance on the part of the population to ensure that the coercive power of the state doesn’t get out of hand.

But there are many people who think that government should not be limited to the policing power.  It should provide a security net for senior citizens and for the poor, it should pay for or at least help with health care, and a whole host of other duties that are not normally coercive… except that when government gets into them, they become so.  At the very least, the taxpayer is forced to pay into funds that he or she might otherwise opt out of, on pain of some legal punishment.  But beyond that, there is the addition of layers of bureaucracy and the expense and complications that that brings.  And there is the narrowing of choice, in order to make the administration of the sphere involved simpler and less expensive for the bureaucracy to handle.  Instead of the expansion of alternatives, bureaucratic management tends toward a one size fits all model.

This is one of the reasons I don’t approve of government involvement in health care insurance.  As long as it’s guarding against fraud in the industry, it’s doing its job.  But when it interferes in the market itself, things get complicated.  And coercive.

Sometime I’d like to explore the case for alternative solutions to our health care cost/payment troubles instead of the government-controlled ones.  But the topic I want to put up for discussion  is a particular part of Obamacare: the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

Howard Dean,  governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2002 and a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has written an article for the Wall Street Journal.  Unlike me, Mr. Dean favors Obamacare overall, but like me he sees that the IPAB – Obamacare’s health-care rationing body – is a serious threat to individualized care necessary to suit the needs of actual patients.

Here is an excerpt from his article:

“One major problem is the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB is essentially a health-care rationing body. By setting doctor reimbursement rates for Medicare and determining which procedures and drugs will be covered and at what price, the IPAB will be able to stop certain treatments its members do not favor by simply setting rates to levels where no doctor or hospital will perform them.

“There does have to be control of costs in our health-care system. However, rate setting—the essential mechanism of the IPAB—has a 40-year track record of failure. What ends up happening in these schemes (which many states including my home state of Vermont have implemented with virtually no long-term effect on costs) is that patients and physicians get aggravated because bureaucrats in either the private or public sector are making medical decisions without knowing the patients. Most important, once again, these kinds of schemes do not control costs. The medical system simply becomes more bureaucratic.

“The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has indicated that the IPAB, in its current form, won’t save a single dime before 2021. As everyone in Washington knows, but less frequently admits, CBO projections of any kind—past five years or so—are really just speculation. I believe the IPAB will never control costs based on the long record of previous attempts in many of the states, including my own state of Vermont.”

I invite readers to join a serious discussion of a serious topic that will affect us all in the near future.  If you take part in the discussion, please do not resort to deliberate personal attacks on your opponents, no personal insults or moral accusations that can distract from dealing with the very important matters at hand.  Everyone needs to sort out the complex of issues here, to understand them and think seriously and honestly about them.   It’s our health and perhaps even our lives at stake.

 

 

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Prodos Being Interviewed

Pleasant_PRODOS

Here’s an interview not “by” Prodos, but “of” Prodos from several years ago, on an Australian radio show.

2007 PRODOS interview on Triple J radio show, Restoring the Balance

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Happy Independence Day, 2013!

Learning Liberty - (c) Barbara A H Marinakis

When the American colonies finally agreed to separate from England in order to establish a country where liberty was the law of the land, it was a turning point for liberty in the world.  The American Founders declared their reasons for the separation in the Declaration of Independence.

July 4th, 1776 was the day that the Declaration was officially adopted by Congress.

From The Charters of Freedom – Declaration of Independence: A History:  “Jefferson’s account reflects three stages in the life of the Declaration: the document originally written by Jefferson; the changes to that document made by Franklin and Adams, resulting in the version that was submitted by the Committee of Five to the Congress; and the version that was eventually adopted.

“On July 1, 1776, Congress reconvened. The following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting. Immediately afterward, the Congress began to consider the Declaration. Adams and Franklin had made only a few changes before the committee submitted the document. The discussion in Congress resulted in some alterations and deletions, but the basic document remained Jefferson’s. The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late morning of July 4. Then, at last, church bells rang out over Philadelphia; the Declaration had been officially adopted.”

This should be a precious document to anyone who knows the crucial value of living by his or her own honest intelligence, free from those who would impose their own beliefs and will through coercion.   Liberty enables the honest and the intelligent to go their own way (as well as the dishonest and stupid to go theirs, as long as they don’t use force or fraud to gain their ends), and to thus live with self-respect and to pursue happiness  according to their own judgment and conscience.  The result is an outpouring of intellectual, scientific, and material discovery and invention, a contentious but productive marketplace of ideas and goods.

When all agree on the principles of liberty, the widest variety of views can live in physical peace with each other (although the field of argument can become verbally heated and even ugly), and live by their own judgment and conscience.  It is when someone’s conscience includes the view that he must enforce his own particular ideology or religion on his ideological opponents that the protective wall of liberty is broken and a society of free people needs to rally against that breach. Continue reading

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Know Before You Go

Here’s a little video from FIRE for college-bound freshmen about what to expect regarding college speech codes versus their actual rights of free speech, and who to contact if they run afoul of the codes.

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Book: The Shadow University

I like to read by topic.

After reading Unlearning Liberty about the strangling of freedom of speech on American University campuses (and the undermining of due process, as well), I’ve now started another book on the topic, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on American Campuses.

While Unlearning Liberty  was published in 2012, The Shadow University was published in 1998.  Both books were written by members of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and organization whose mission is “to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities”.  If these books are telling it like it is, not much has changed in 14 years.

Here are excerpts of the description of the book on Amazon: “…Universities still set themselves apart from American society, but now they do so by enforcing their own politically correct worldview through censorship, double standards and a judicial system without due process…”

“…The Shadow University is a stinging indictment of the covert system of justice on college campuses, exposing the widespread reliance of n kangaroo courts and arbitrary punishment to coerce students and faculty into conformity.  Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate, staunch civil libertarians and active defenders of free inquiry on campus, lay bare the totalitarian mindset that undergirds speech codes, conduct codes, and “campus life” bureaucracies, through which a cadre of deans and counselors indoctrinate students and faculty in an ideology that favors group rights over individual rights, sacrificing free speech and academic freedom to spare the sensitivities of currently favored groups.”

“From Maine to California, at public and private universities alike, liberty and fairness are the first casualties as teachers and students find themselves in the dock, presumed guilty until proven innocent and often forbidden to cross-examine their accusers.  Kors and Silverglate introduce us to many of those who have firsthand experience of The Shadow University…”

“…The Shadow University unmasks a chilling reality for parent who entrust their sons and daughters to the authority of such institutions, for thinking people who recognize that vigorous debate is the only sure path to truth, and for all Americans who realize that when even one citizen is deprived of liberty, we are all diminished.”

[Links to bios added by me.]

As I read, I’ll report.

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Student Governments Against Free Speech

I’m still reading Greg Lukianoff’s book “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate” .  Truly hair-raising.  (Lukianoff isan attorney and the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, aka FIRE.)

I’ve just finished the section called “Student Government Gone Wild”, about the shocking – but not surprising – tyrannical nature of many student governments at colleges across the USA.  I say that it’s not surprising because, after having read the previous 10 chapters of this book, I can’t imagine that a significant portion of the student body would not have learned how to be tyrants against non-PC points of view.

Here are a couple of excerpts from this chapter:

EXCERPT: “Something that should probably keep you up at night is the fact that student governments, which are often seen as training grounds for future politicians and lawmakers, harbor attitudes towards basic free speech and due process rights that are more akin to petty dictatorships than to the American Founding Fathers…”

EXCERPT: “At the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2009, students organized to get rid of copies of a conservative newspaper that mocked student government officials.  A UMass police officer stood by as angry students tore copies of the newspaper out of the hands of another student.  Rather than distance itself from this effort at censorship, the student government later passed a resolution in support of shutting down the newspaper if it did not apologize for mocking them.  The university eventually rejected the resolution to punish the paper, but only after FIRE stepped in.”

COMMENT: Since student government and student journalism are both rehearsals for real-world government and real-world journalism, the student government should be held to the strictest standards of respect  for freedom of speech and press.

We do not and should not legally punish regular newspapers for editorials mocking government officials.  University administrations should have the sense not to allow student governments to infringe on the right of the student press to mock the student government *or* to mock the university administration, for that matter.

That it took an organization like FIRE  to get the university to do the right thing should be troubling to everyone who understands the importance of freedom of the press.  This is not an isolated incident – the book is rich with examples of tyrannical breaches of freedom of speech and failures to uphold the individual rights of students in other areas as well.   FIRE is overwhelmed with cases that need defending.

I believe that college campuses are among the most important – if not the most important – places to take a stand for individual rights.  This is where young people should be learning about the principles and procedures that keep corruption and dictatorship at bay.  That’s why I’m bugging people to read Lukianoff’s book and – if they agree that it’s an important book – to blog it and Facebook it and tell their face-to-face friends about it.

I’ve been talking to people about the topic of the book, and it looks to me that a lot of people have no idea what’s been going on at colleges in regard to this most important aspect of our liberty.

 

 

 

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BOOK: Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate

I am currently reading “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate” by Greg Lukianoff.

I have read numerous books and articles about the quelling of politically “incorrect” , i.e., conservative and libertarian, views at universities for many years now and the reports seem to be getting worse over time. But this book has a difference – while the other books and articles I’ve read on this topic were written by people on the “right”, this one is written by a fellow on the “left”, with plenty of lefty credentials, who is just as concerned about the destruction of intellectual debate and rational rigor as the writers on the right have been (for two or three decades now). He recognizes that universities are *supposed* to foster such debate in an atmosphere that does not punish challenges to the “PC” views, but rather encourages such challenges. He recognizes that freedom of speech is in dire danger and that both high school and university students have been and are being trained to accept a certain point of view without critical examination, and without an appreciation for the necessity of free discourse among thinkers of all points of view.

I am only on the second chapter and I already consider this book to be must reading for everyone. I mean EVERYONE – no matter what country you’re in, no matter what political alliegiance or religious views. High school kids, college kids, parents, grandparents, childless people and orphans – EVERYONE.

Even if people only read as far as I’ve read so far, it would be worthwhile. Even if the rest of the book turns out to be crap.

Here are a few excerpts (I had to type these out because you can’t copy and paste from a Kindle. So any type-os or spelling errors are mine.):

EXCERPT: “You can’t fully understand what lessons colleges are teaching students about living in a free society without knowing what students have learned before they even step foot on campus. The news isn’t good. By the time they graduate from high school, American students already harbor negative attitudes about free speech….”

EXCERPT: “…Lessons taught by example are most powerful, and high school administrators have offered students some of the worst examples of censorship…”

EXCERPT: “Take, for example, this quote from a high school principal explaining his decision to confiscate an edition of the student newspaper because of an editorial supporting marijuana legalization: ‘I feel like censorship is very important.’ He elaborated, ‘Court cases support school censorship of articles. And we feel like that’s necessary for us to censor editorials in the best interest of our program and community.’ I believe this statement reflects the opinion of many other high school administrators: not only may a high school censor opinions, but it *should* do so for reasons ranging from harmony, to patriotism, to convenience.”

EXCERPT: “With high school administrative censors claiming the high ground, it should be no surprise that the Knight study also found that high school students were far more likely than adults to think that citizens should not be allowed to express unpopular opinions and that government should have a role in approving newspaper stories. After all, if protecting everyone from hurt and difficulty of free speech is a laudable goal, shouldn’t the government be empowered to do that?”

“Meanwhile, there is precious little education in the philosophical principles that undergird our basic liberties, which might otherwise counteract these bad examples. Civics has not been stressed in high schools in recent years, and ignorance of the basics of American governance is widespread.”

EXCERPT: “So what’s the big deal? What’s really at stake? Everything.”

 

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Dissident Cuban Bloggers

I’ve been reading the blogs of Cubans who risk their freedom (or what they have of it) and physical well-being in order to put their thoughts into cyberspace.   The best thing you can do to help keep these bloggers safe is to read their blogs and post on them, and tell others about them.  Help to build an online following.   One of the bloggers, Yoani Sanchez, writes:

“Link to the blogs and place them on the search engines or platforms where they can have greater visibility. Each person who reads us, protects us, so we need to strengthen the shield formed by readers and commentators.”

With that in mind, I offer these links:

Generacion Y

Octavo Cerco

Sin Evasion/Without Evasion

Re-Evolution

Laritza’s Laws

Those are just a few of the blogs.  Most of them have a list of other Cuban blogs down the right-hand side of the websites.  It’s a fascinating and deeply moving world to explore.  Better yet, we can help spread their fame and thus help keep them from serious harm while giving them a great sense of connection with the outside world.  Let them know they aren’t risking beatings and prison for nothing – for speaking out to a world that doesn’t hear.

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Tea Party Time

OH_NO_signedHave you happened to catch members of the media and some politicians making out that the “Tea Party” protesters are racist or are an “angry mob”?

If you’re firmly convinced that government botches up more than it heals when it steps outside its proper role as protector against fraud and against the initiation of physical force, you know very well that those Tea Parties have nothing to do with Obama being black or with any other racial concern.  You know that the principles of individual liberty and of reducing government to that specific role is what the fuss is all about.  It’s a color-blind issue.  It just so happens that the president that is in charge of creating a raging deficit, pushing for giant bail-out funds and a “stimulus” package and attempting to entrench government even deeper into our medical system happens to be black.

So what?

What I care about is the status of my freedom in relation to those in power, whatever color they may be.

I’ve been convinced of my political principles for about 50 years, more or less, and as I questioned those principles and tested them over the years against my experience and my growing body of information, I have only become more firmly convinced than when I started.

Here’s a link to Rob Tracinski’s article entitled:

It’s the Liberty, Stupid

I couldn’t have put it better, myself.

At the link for the photos of Tea Party placards, I like Rob’s sign that says “Brother, you ain’t my keeper!”

I also especially like the ones that say: “Read the bills or get off  ‘The Hill’.”

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Green Blasphemy

This link – The Rise and Rise of Climate Blasphemy –  is to an article posted in July, 2008, but I only just came across it at Spiked-Online.   Another Brendan O’Neill gem.

“You don’t have to endorse Durkin’s film, or the ‘alternative’ climate-change theories that he and others have put forward (I, for one, do not), to be concerned about the censuring of anyone who challenges any part of the politics or science of climate change today. Rather, this is about upholding openness, scepticism and the right to question everything, in the world of journalism and in the world of science. “

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