Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Declaration

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
Thomas Jefferson (1776)
perhaps with some help from Thomas Paine

These words mean something right now. Brilliant video. Though the video's tone be partialist[1], the message is universalist. Liberty can bring us together.

Hat tip: Daily Paul

  1. Where, for example, were the remonstrances when President Clinton invaded and occupied Haiti in a kingly and neocon manner without a declaration of war? Where are they when a man's right to pursue health care is violated? Where are they when a woman's equal right to pursue health care as she wishes is disparaged? Where are they when the natural rights of the Declaration, enshrined in the Ninth Amendment, need defending? What wakes up a partisan, who doesn't see his own brand of faction?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

HillaryCare and an offense taken without being given

John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon

Idiots and lunatics indeed, who cannot take care of themselves, must be taken care of by others; but while men have their five senses, I cannot see what the Magistrate has to do with actions by which the society cannot be affected; and where he meddles with such, he meddles impertinently or tyranically. Must the magistrate tie up every man's legs, because some men fall into ditches? Or, must he put out their eyes, because with them they see lying vanities? Or, would it2 become the wisdom and care of Governors to establish a traveling society, to prevent people, by a proper confinement, from throwing themselves into wells, or over precipices; or to endow a fraternity of physicians and surgeons all over the nation, to take care of their subjects' health, without their being consulted; and to vomit, bleed, purge, and scarify them at pleasure, whether they would or no, just as these established judges of health should think fit? If this were the case, what a stir and hubbub should we soon see kept about the established potions and lancets? Every man, woman, or child, though ever so healthy, must be a patient, or woe be to them! The best diet and medicines would soon grow pernicious from any other hand; and their pills alone, however ridiculous, insufficient, or distasteful, would be attended with a blessing.

Let people alone, and they will take care of themselves, and do it best; and if they do not, a sufficient punishment will follow their neglect, without the Magistrate's interposition and penalties. It is plain, that such busy care and officious intrusion into the personal affairs, or private actions, thoughts, and imaginations of men, has in it more craft than kindness; and is only a device to mislead people, and pick their pockets, under the false pretense of the public and their private good. To quarrel with any man for his opinions, humors, or the fashion of his clothes, is an offense taken without being given. What is it to a Magistrate how I wash my hands, or cut my corns; what fashion or colors I wear, or what notions I entertain, or what gestures I use, or what words I pronounce, when they please me, and do him and my neighbor no hurt? As well may he determine the color of my hair, and control my shape and features.

     John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon (1721)
     Cato Letter Number 62

In October 1993, I wrote,
Pacifists who strive to avoid the use of force in their day-to-day affairs ought not be coerced into coverage by force. Likewise constitutional libertarians, who advocate non-aggression and who accede to the use of civil government in the equal defense of natural rights, ought not be coerced into what they see as coverage through aggression. There are some who do not want to be covered if it will involve any or certain uses of force by government....

Ours is a government rooted in the awareness of that peace-minded sphere called society. Thomas Paine began his pamphlet Common Sense, which sparked the American Revolution, with a clarification of the difference between "society" and "government." We may preserve the health of our society (and government) by the respect we have this difference....

The American Declaration of 1776 was a call to Independence. "Universal coverage" is a call to Dependence. What ought our country's touchstone be? "Universal coverage" is nothing but "universal control" to be enforced by that long train of abuses that so characteristically goes with unlimited government and limited society. Let's leave alone those who, in their peaceful pursuit of happiness, wish not to be corrupted by power, however minimal or monstrous, so that each generation may understand the compatibility of limited government and unlimited society.

     Back to First Principles in Health Care
     Minnesota Libertarian 24(2) - April 1994, p. 7

What roused me?
In December [1993], a member of the Clinton Health Care Task Force, Dr. Steven Miles, came to present the Clinton Plan at a Sunday forum hosted by First Universalist Church in Minneapolis. Apart from his overall effort to convince his audience that the plan did not ential socialism, he made the shocking statement that "no one has a constitutional right to be a cardiologist." This statement has stuck in my mind. Contrary to his intention, he convinced me then that we do indeed have a crisis now—a crisis in government. This is why I for one am beginning to become active in the libertarian effort to elect to office persons dedicated to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in deed, not simply in creed. Government officials and quasi-officials are now attacking our rights, not securing them as their office demands. [Five and a half years later Miles would make a run for the U.S. Senate.]

Have we not learned from the experiences of the rest of the world how precious our American principles are? In his Inaugural Address, Clinton said, "We must provide for our nation the way a family provides for its children." One famous Czech dissident Milan Kundera, the author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, described another presidential address made by Gustav Husak, the president of Czechoslovakia in 1969, just after the Soviet invasion:
The ghosts of statues long torn down wandered around the podium where the president of forgetting was standing with a red scarf around his neck. The children clapped and called out his name.

Eight years have gone by since then, but I can still hear his words sailing through the blossoming apple trees.

"Children, you are the future," he said, and today I realize he did not mean it the way it sounded. The reason children are the future is not that they will one day be grownups. No, the reason is that mankind is moving more and more in the direction of infancy, and childhood is the image of the future.(The Book of Laughter and Forgetting)
In an interview with Philip Roth, Kundera is more specific: "The basic event of the book is the story of totalitarianism, which deprives people of memory and thus retools them into a nation of children. All totalitarian regimes do this." Eight days after Clinton's Inaugural Address, I reread these words.

On February 22, I along with other Minnesota LP members, attended the Minnesota Summit on Health Care Reform, featuring Governor Pete du Pont, Senator Paul Wellstone, Congressman Tim Penny, Dr. John Goodman, and many other prominent speakers. Dr. Steven Miles was there, too, again presenting the Clinton Health Care Plan. In a question and answer period, I reminded Dr. Miles of his statement at First Universalist Church, outlined what I have written above, and asked him one question: "Do we have a constitutional right to be an adult?" In a confused manner, he responded and actually answered "to the latter question... no." Given his befuddledness, I am not sure whether he really meant to answer no to my rhetorical question, but he did.


If we are to go back to first principles in this debate, we must re-amplify the spirit of 1776, and the wisdom of 1787. As Kundera wrote: "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

Back to First Principles in Health Care
Minnesota Libertarian 24(2) - April 1994, pp. 3, 7

I was not alone in my skepticism.
On April 8 [1994], KSTP hosted a town hall meeting in the Twin Cities at which President Clinton presented his plan and answered questions from the audience. If the first two questions are indicative of how the debate is changing, even here in Minnesota, then we libertarians should find hope that people are indeed coming around, however slowly, to see what we see.

The first questioner asked: "Is your plan really a health plan or is it a power grab?"

The second remarked: "I'm wondering if your program is about controlling rather than better service."

President Clinton became extremely flustered and was unable to give a coherent response to either person.
Minnesota Libertarian - June 1994, p. 4

Hillary Clinton has come around full circle. In the day, MinnesotaCare, a Clintonesque program at the state level, bestowed upon health maintenance organizations a privileged position of dominance over indemnity insurers. (See In Bed with the Devil by Brigid McMenamin, Forbes, Sep. 12, 1994) Insurers were in government disfavor. Now she is putting into place the requisites for an insurance cartel dominated by the whims of government officials. She extends them a qualified favoritism now.

In February 1995, as a Director for Citizens for Choice in Health Care, I wrote,
Health care ought to be controlled by individual choice and individual responsibility with equity towards all, including insurers.
To be clear, by equity I mean equal, full, inalienable natural rights. Let's get off this yo-yo of privilege and disfavor, and return to America.

What are we to do when politicians display, showing how tough they are by breaking the law, by breaking the Constitution, by breaking the Declaration, running through the forest breaking branches?

Let us rebuild liberalism.

For now, let's support Ron Paul 2008. His position on getting us out of the health-care mess (see video below) is largely on target.

Please reread the 1721 quote from Cato's Letters. This struggle has been going on for centuries from continent to continent. Cato's wisdom is timeless.

Liberda, da, da...

In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example ... of charters of power granted by liberty.
James Madison
"Charters", The National Gazette, January 19, 1792

Update (Sep 19, 2007): Check out this video, the last part of a Bill Moyers Special on impeachment with Bruce Fein and John Nichols. At the end (7:40), Nichols makes the point about the dangers of treating citizens as children, though in a different context. Liberty and adulthood can bring us together.

Update (Sep 19, 2007):
I don't support Fred Thompson 2008, but I do think this video commentary of his on HillaryCare is spot on.

Version 1.2

Update (Oct 5, 2007): Dr. Steven Miles has commented thoughtfully on this article. I verified his comments by emailing him directly. Today I ordered a book he published last year Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror, on an issue about which my guess is we're in strong agreement.

Update (Oct 6, 2007): In short, government has been granted neither the power to coin doctors nor the power to coin health insurance. By right can it never have such powers to the exclusion of competing, freely-formed professional associations. Government power must be distinguished from social power.

As David Boaz of the Cato Institute wrote,
The right term for the advocates of civil society and free markets is arguably socialist. Thomas Paine distinguished between society and government, and the libertarian writer Albert Jay Nock summed up all the things that people do voluntarily--for love or charity or profit--as "social power," which is always being threatened by the encroachment of State power. So we might say that those who advocate social power are socialists, while those who support State power are statists. But alas, the word socialist, like the word liberal, has been claimed by those who advocate neither civil society nor liberty.

Update (Oct 7, 2007): On the various types of dictates government office-holders have strewn across our path to happiness, John Seiler has written an excellent article, Mandated Health-Care Socialism, which I just received in the mail, cataloguing these beasts.

First there are those at the state level who dare mandate that free citizens buy health insurance. Such is mandated coverage. Seiler writes, "So far only Hawaii and Massachusetts have mandated coverage supposedly for every state resident," Hawaii since 1974, Massachusetts since 2006. Where is the 14th Amendment when you need it?

Next Seiler writes, "A less obvious path to socialized medicine is mandatory benefits, which require insurance providers to cover everything from athletic trainers in Arkansas to breast reduction in Maine."

Third, there are provider mandates, mandating the inclusion of various types of providers, from marriage therapists (13 states) to massage therapists (5 states).

Finally, there are covered-person mandates, such as the requirement that noncustodial children be covered (10 states).

If we are to make progress in making health more affordable, it must not be beyond criticism. Each of us must be able to shout out that something is absurd, and with effect. What good is it to exclaim, when we cannot claim. We have the right to make our own choices based on our own judgment as adults, as parents, facing real consequences, natural consequences. Learning what's best takes time, takes generations even, and it takes choice and diversity. What we have is dying "the death of a thousand scalpel cuts" thanks to the advocates of socialized medicine, who, like economical predators of the wild, wound first and feast later. Let's not punish health care apostasy. We have a right to say no, just plain no.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Will Rogers Plan

Will Rogers

It kinda looks like a bad day for plans... I'm not going to get discouraged though. In fact, these other failures -- well, they've really given me confidence, you know -- more hope that my plan will be a success... My plan is a plan to end all plans. It's to do away with all plans. That's what it is. This country has been planned to death... There ain't but one place that a plan is any good and that it'll really work, and that's on paper. But the minute you get it off a sheet of paper and get it out in the air... it blows away. ... Plans just don't work. If they're milk and honey to you, they're poison ivy to somebody else... My plan is when a senator or congressman -- or even a man of great ability (we must quit joking about those boys, because they're good guys) ... comes to Washington with a plan, you send 'em to Russia. Yes, sir, send 'em to Russia with the plan. That's the home of all plans, you know. That's the home. Russia, they eat and sleep and drink plans in Russia. That's why there's starvation there, because you just can't digest a plan. It don't eat right. Everything in Russia is run by plans; everything here is run by accident... [The Rogers Plan] is: 'Don't Plan' ... Live haphazard... There's nothing in the world as common as an idea, and there's nothing in the world as hard to carry out as an idea. If the Republicans would forget their main plan which is to get into the White House and the Democrats would forget their main plan which is to stay in there, and the others, all these various third parties, would just look at their history which shows that none of them ever did get in there, why, we'd all recover overnight, you see.

Will Rogers - Rogers' Plan to End All Plans
Cassette tape available here.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Will Rogers (1879-1935), here's his bio. I came across this when visiting his ranch in Pacific Palisades, California.

Update (Mar 14, 2008): Here's some of the audio. And a bit more.

There's also a DVD documentary The Will Rogers Story, available via Netflix, which recounts his life. Rogers was an American phenomenon... and a quick study, while others were oblivious. When he visited the Soviet Union in the mid 1920's, he had this to say as he sized up what he saw -
It seems the whole idea of communism or whatever they want to call it, is based on propaganda and blood. Russia is starving her own people to feed propaganda to the world. (29:43-29:52)
You can ask a Russian any question in the world, and if you give him long enough he'll explain their angle and it will sound plausible. Communism to me is one-third practice and two-thirds explanation. (30:01-30:14)

If you want to get away from communism, as we know communism in America, why you go to Russia. You know, a communist, he can't get far in Russia. There isn't a single agitator in the whole country, not a soul trying to plot a strike or tell somebody what to do with their job. The soviet government, it may be wrong, but no man is going to stand up on a soapbox either publicly or privately and announce the fact about it. Over there your criticism is you epitaph. (30:32-30:59)

Those people are going somewhere, and we better watch out while they're on their way. (31:14-31:19)
Will Rogers was a master satyagrahi. He explained,
I use only one set method in my little gags, and that is to try to keep to the truth. Of course, you can exaggerate, but what you say must be based on truth (26:55-27:03)