Friday, July 28, 2006


Your favorite poison

What is your favorite form of government?

What is the most destructive, coercive, and costly? What is the price tag and in what way is it destructive?

The biggest and best coercive governmental group, to me, is the IRS. Although I do not know the price tag, it is destructive because it creates new winners and losers. Additionally, it has forced companies, businesses, and non-profits to fit into a particular mold, rather than exist for the greatest possible benefit to its share-holders and customers.

Other groups that are promising include the War Department and the "War on Terror", Health Care Regulation, Pension Insurance, and Medicaid.

Favorite form of government as in governmental system? Or program/regulation/initative through which government in the United States asserts itself?

Assuming you mean the latter, my favorite government program is the Advanced Technology Program. It's a piece of industrial planning created by Bush I, but really supported and lauded by Bill Clinton.

In theory, these programs are admirable because they can help account for positive externalities and promote innovation. In practice, it's very hard to decide who to give money to. ATP has picked some winners (Affymetrix, Orchid, Curagen), but they've also picked some losers (GeneTrace and others).

Do the public benefits generated by the winners outweight the costs incurred by the losers? That's an empirical question and I don't know the answer. But I wouldn't be suprised if it came out to be a wash.

But Bush II has never been a big fan of the program and it looks like it will probably close at the end of this fiscal year.
I always thought NASA was pretty cool. I also like to drive, so DOT is nice.

Can the same things be done with our these two groups -- absolutely.

Student, which do you dislike the most?
My favorite form of government is law enforcement, and living in DC has made me appreciate law enforcers everywhere else a lot more. I didn't know how good I had it in NC. Police here don't give a F&@#.

Can I pick "intervention in the healthcare industry" as my least favorite? This is kind of broad, but I would lump together Medicare, medical research grants, FDA regulation, certificate of need regulation, licensing, etc. and just say the whole thing is a mess. It is perhaps the clearest modern example of Ludwig von Mises's worst nightmare that intervention only leads to more intervention.

It is also likely the most onerous because the healthcare industry represents something like 1/5 of the US economy and it affects practically everyone.

I was probably a little confused about the topic. :P my bad. I thought we were talking best of the worst. I think ATP is probably the best "bad" program. Competitive advantage malarky aside, it wasn't a totally silly idea like price floors. But it still faces practical and intellecual problems. Most of all, how we decide who to give the money to? Is the government smarter than the market?

My actual favorite government funded service would have to be the criminal justice system. Without property rights being protected, contracts being protected, and serious criminals being jailed, this would be a shity place to live. And the best part? You can even take the government to court! Justice for all, mates.

Least Favorite Form of Government?Not sure. The minimum wage is a really bad idea. Government monopoly on schools sucks, too. I'm very suspicious of zoning and land-use regulations.

Meh. I'd say my LEAST favorite has to be subsidies for American farmers. It's an efficient waste of resources that hurts farmers in developing countries. And why do we it? I have no clue.
I have to second Travis on Health Care being the worst. I think education comes in at a close second, though.

Best is definitely justice/law enforcement.
You know I'm all for the courts.
I'll go along with the others saying healthcare is the worst.
I heard something on the radio today that got me thinking (Clark Howard show).
More big box stores are hosting health clinics, usually staffed by a physician's assistant and perhaps a nurse/ receptionist. It's cheaper than a trip to the doctors, more convenient, too, and less of an ordeal than the ER.
So, as government controlls the healthcare industry, prices go up, until many opt out of the industry to a sub-industry.
What happens when somone gets hurt at one of these places? Whoosh! In come the regulations. Or perhaps doctors will pressure to have them shut down, fearing competition.
Government is only a step or two from mandated government-only healthcare. What happens if you visit a doctor, pa, nurse, or whatever outside of the g's favor. Wham! You're a criminal.
You're an atheist, for refusing to worship within the set patterns. Make no mistake, healthcare in America is a religion.
We are all already dancing to its dirge, disdaining the unhealthy and infirm, practicing safe everything, etc.
Healthcare freaks me out.

WTF? I was with you until you went on the religion tangent. And I liked your use of "WHOOSH", whereas "WHAM" was uncalled for.


The government doesn't have a monopoly on schools, per se. There are some private schools. But the right to education is indeed another big steamy pile of progressive crap. I'll concede that it's second on my list too.
I am guessing Student was referring to the monopoly on mandated attendance at a school, with the largest of those being our publicly provided day-care system.

We can move on to Student's first understanding if you all want.

My favorite bad program is urban "renewal" and housing projects.
I will second Travis' question (for Nathan)...
"WTF?" You don't see it?
Okay, If government controlls everything, and is moving towards a centrally controlled state, it will eventually seek to deify one person and make them a God-King. Eg. Ceaser, Hitler, Stalin, Nebuchadnezzer, Pharoh, etc. If you were to visit a doctor/priest not sanctioned by the state in one of these civilizations you would be considered an "atheist" for neglecting the proper god. It would be considered unpatriotic.
I call Healthcare in America a religion because of the way we obsess over it. We are more attentive to vitamins and exercise than prayer or meditation. We spend more money on healthcare than on religion or other charitable giving.
We don't like to see sick or old people, so we hide them away in homes where we seldom visit them. Hospitals are just as businesslike as the Jewish temple under Eli's son's, taking advantage of the people, and treating them like numbers instead of names.
Don't get me wrong, the only people I fault for these problems are Christians, who ought to be doing these things instead, and more humanely.
By the way, early Christians were accused of "atheism" by the Romans, because they refused to worship the many gods of their pagan religions. Socrates was similarly condemned.
Breaking out of the pattern is a common Austrian model for entrepreneurship, it is related to liberty and monotheism.


"...the only people I fault for these problems are Christians, who ought to be doing these things instead, and more humanely."

First, all the problems you listed (hospitals are too business-like, we hide our elderly) are basically unrelated to government interference in healthcare. That section reads like a rant against the greedy capitalist society, which I believe is not the problem but indeed the solution.

Second, is it your opinion that healthcare ought to be a charity, only different from the present government "charity" in that it should come voluntarily? Do you believe that greed and the profit motive have no place in healthcare?

If so, why is healthcare different from other industries in which the profit motive is a powerful tool for the good?
Good point. Healthcare for those who cannot afford it, i.e. charity, should come from charities, not from the government. If charities paid the hospital bills for those in need, and those hospitals operated within a free-market system that would be optimal.
I think that government control of healthcare has encouraged the abuse of healthcare. If a medicade mom's kid gets sick, she doesn't schedule a doctor's appointment, she just waltzes into the ER. What more telling to me is that she doesn't stop to pray. Her first thought for help is not to her god, but to her doctor, who has become her god.
While many people won't "Bother god with trifles" in their prayers, the will "bother their doctor with trifles, so long as its free." Which doesn't make sense to me, since god's ability to listen to prayers is supposedly unlimited, and not a scarce resource, while doctors' time is limited.
People who say they love liberty ought to espouse methods for disarming tyrrany. Education and healthcare are two prime areas where I think privatized firms could produce better products than government. But the poor, and misplaced concern for the poor, enable government to take control. If liberty lovers could produce enough voluntary charity to provide for the needs of the poor, they could eliminate the need for the government programs in those areas.

The problem then becomes, how to convince the poor to take only from the charities, and not from the government?
I believe such a resolve on the part of the poor would require a conviction stronger than my own.

How do you think libertarians ought to settle the question of caring for the "least of these"?
It's like Roy said when I visited him yesterday: if the government gave up its "charity" and helpless people were struggling to get a doctor for their kids, I would help.

There's a catch 22, though, since I'm too poor as it is to help "the least of these" while paying an honestly staggering amount of taxes.

I can't guarantee any great result, but I don't think forced charity is morally superior to no charity at all.

Did I dodge the question well enough or should I have pulled out the Chewbacca defense?
What if we considered government to be a firm in the same industry as us, namely charity.
How are we going to take control of the market? By waiting for our competitor to close its doors? Or by producing a better product, one that better meets our customer's desires of liberty, not to mention lower costs and superior quality?
Waiting for government to get out of the welfare business before we get involved won't work.
But it's impossible to undercut government and "get them out of the business" because they do not operate within a profit/loss environment.

Also, one of the central issues here is that the government is too generous with other people's money, i.e., there is too much charity. Some people receive help who don't need it, at all.

What you're saying is that all of society should change its mind about charity right now and essentially overlap or pancake on government "charity," since we both know that government programs wouldn't just close down, as defeated businesses would.

Just to make a point, I would gladly give away (to non-governmental charities) the portion of my taxes that go to welfare/assistance programs. But I won't do both. No pancakes.
Post a Comment

<< Home
CrispAds Blog Ads

Does someone you know deserve flowers?
Web Site Hit Counter
Dell Canada

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?