Your Government at Work

I’d encourage anyone with any interest whatsoever in politics or the theory of government to create an account at OpenCongress.org.

At this official Congressional website, you can observe the status of any bill being considered in Congress. You can then comment on it (or even on specific sections of it) and vote your approval or disapproval. You can even track specific Senators and Representatives, if you’d like to keep an eye on their voting record.

Having spent quite a bit of time browsing through the legislation that our country is currently considering implementing as law, there are a few … “gems” I’d like to put on display:

H.R. 4173: This is the bill which would give the president and his appointees the power to buyout, bailout, and/or liquidate any company deemed “a threat” to our economy without having to go through all the inconvenience of asking Congress first. I’ve already talked about this one before.

H.R. 801: Here’s a bill that would allow academic journals to copyright studies funded by the federal government. Basically, the public pays for the research, but then the public isn’t allowed to see the results of the research without paying again.

S. 1696: If you thought environmental politics were already a bit totalitarian (or even if you didn’t), take a look at this bill. It would require the Energy Secretary to monitor the energy consumption of video game consoles. Yes. Video game consoles. Of course, once the government has the data showing that some video game consoles use more energy than others, there’s going to be talk about banning (or heavily taxing) the more energy-intensive platforms. Well, I think Mario wold survive this new element of fascism, but Master Chief and Solid Snake might not be so lucky. Also, the age-old struggle of Mac vs. PC might finally be settled when the government starts making the choice for you based on “environmental impact.”

Nancy Pelosi: Need I say more?

Your government at work.

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Barack Obama: CEO in Chief

Is this a country or a corporation? It’s getting hard to tell. This new price controls proposal, coupled with H.R. 4173, which would give the president the power to liquidate any company deemed “too big to fail,” would make this a Corporatist (a.k.a. economically Fascist) State. This would be the totalitarian dystopia cautioned against in “Atlas Shrugged.” Is it any wonder that Ayn Rand’s books are selling better than ever before?

It is this sort of totalitarianism which has galvanized the public against the Democrat Party. It is this sort of totalitarianism which has swelled the numbers of the Libertarian Party in opposition, and given the Republican Party a new life.

Do you value your freedom? Do you want to avoid living in a totalitarian state? If so, then I suggest you drop any support you may have for “progressivism.” The newly reformed, libertarian Glenn Beck is right: progressivism is a cancer which eats away at our basic, constitutionally guaranteed freedoms as it grows. The only thing we’re progressing towards when we surrender power over our lives to the government is totalitarian slavery.

A Right to Welfare?

Now that I’ve explained why humans have rights and what those rights are, I figure it’s a good time to address the claims that humans have “a right” to health care, or “a right” to food, or to anything else they need to survive.

If something is a human right, then it is inherent to human individuals, not a function of whatever government you have, or where you live. I have the same rights in Ethiopia as I do in the US, though whether or not the governments of those countries respect your human rights is a different matter entirely. Whether I live in the US, Ethiopia, North Korea, China, or even on a deserted island, I am still a human with the same human rights.

You can make the claim that if someone denies you health care, then they’re violating your rights. But let’s do a thought experiment to evaluate that claim. Say you’re in a plane crash and end up on a deserted island. Suddenly you’re deprived of food, clean drinking water, and most certainly health care. Does this mean the plane crash is violating your rights? Is nature violating your rights? It sounds pretty silly, but that’s exactly what you’re saying if you think that everyone has an inherent right to be given everything they need to survive.

Now, let’s say you run into another survivor on the island. You find out this survivor just happens to have been a doctor back home. How convenient this is, since you were starting to feel a little under the weather. So now, because you have a right to health care, he is obligated to take care of you, even if it means taking time away from his own survival efforts. In fact, he probably would be better off had he not been a doctor, because then he wouldn’t be forced to act as primary care physician in the midst of a survival situation.

Conveniently, this doctor also happens to know how to fish. He could teach you how, but even if he did, you wouldn’t really have to do anything, because you have a right to food. Hence, even if you choose not to find a way to provide for yourself, he is required to give you some of the fish he catches, or he’ll be violating your rights.

So you see, if you have a right to health care, or even food, then you have a right to force others to work for your own well-being; it is within your rights to enslave others. And this same concept applies if you scale up the situation to an entire country using redistributive welfare, the only difference being that it’s much harder to rebel against this enslavement when there’s a police force and military enforcing it. Saying that humans have a “right” to health care and a “right” to food or to any other material possession violates every notion of what a “right” actually is. It violates the premise that rights are inherent to all humans, and that all humans have equal rights.

Humans do not have rights to make sure every person has everything they need to survive, regardless of the choices they make. Humans rights are there to define what it means if we believe that “all men are created equal.” Humans can only be equal if they are free from being enslaved by others. You cannot force someone to take care of you and still say that you are treating them as your equal. Thus, forced welfare redistribution is in fact a violation of the truly fundamental human right to be free from enslavement.

Health Insurance => Health?

Does having health insurance imply that an individual has a higher chance of being healthy?

Well, of course! I mean, it’s so obvious! Having health insurance has got to make people more healthy and less likely to die, right?

Actually, no.

According to this review, every major study that was conducted scientifically enough to control for independent variables like demographics, smoking, and certain types of risky behavior has found no statistically significant link between lack of health insurance and higher mortality.

In other words, Health Insurance =/> Health, and any apparent link between them is due to common causes (e.g. someone doesn’t have health insurance because they smoke, and then they die because they smoke) rather than a cause-effect relationship.

This is a trifle surprising, but it’s certainly damning for those who believe that total health insurance coverage is necessary for a healthy society. It also supports my view that going without health insurance leaves you in danger of bankruptcy, not death.

So now that no statistical survival benefit can be seen from having health insurance, the health care debate is no longer about life or death. It’s about money. Redistribution. Control vs. Freedom.

Faced with this knowledge, why would anyone still support any form of mandatory health insurance?

Derivation of Rights

After posting my views of what the natural rights of humans are way back at the start of this blog, I’ve had a couple of people ask me where these rights come from, if not from the government. Here’s a simplified description of the logical progression of my thoughts.

In any logical derivation, there must be some starting point, some axiom off of which everything can be based. I feel that the sentiments and scenarios that fueled the rhetoric of Thomas Jefferson to be an excellent place to begin, as few contemporary individuals would argue in favor of the arbitrary power of kings.

If you start with the premise that “all men are created equal,” then it logically follows that no person’s will should dominate anyone else’s will. A person’s will can be used to shape the world around them, so that which is produced by a person from resources claimed by no other person must therefore be an extension of that person’s will, and is under that person’s control. Hence, the premise of property rights is established, including the right of control over your own body. If it is within the will of one person to agree with another person to coordinate the use of their property, this is a valid exercise of their wills so long as no other person whose person or property may be affected objects to it. This establishes the right to form contracts.

However, violation of another person’s will or control over their property is not consistent with the premise that one person’s will should not dominate another person’s will. Hence, this kind of action should not be allowed, and should be corrected to the greatest degree possible to reestablish the equality of the will of the offender with the will of the victim. This establishes the necessity for a criminal justice system and a military. This premise also establishes the view that forcible imposition of contract, deceptive imposition of contract, and violation of contract are violations of rights, and should be illegal.

Hence, we arrive at the conclusion that forcible imposition of any program by the government, aside from those which explicitly exist only to protect the rights of all, is a violation of rights and should be illegal in any society which considers all people to be equal. Hence, in a society where people are truly considered to be equal, government would consist only of a legislative system to interpret the guaranteed rights in terms of real-world laws, a military to defend the rights of the people from external threats, a police force to defend the rights of the people from internal threats, and a judicial system to determine the appropriate action necessary to correct any violation of rights and prevent repeat offenses.

No currently existing society truly respects the equal rights of the people. The two-party system we have here in the U.S. alternates between favoring the will of one group of people and favoring the will of the other group of people, calling this equal rights. I call that a sad attempt at justifying abuses of power.