Single Payer Sucks

Proponents of universal healthcare hold one of the most morally attractive political positions of present day.  That healthcare is a natural human right, and should be readily available to all regardless of socioeconomic standing.  On top of their moral high ground they pile on supposed proof of single payer’s merits by pointing to Canada, Scandinavia, and various other countries.  It’s their belief that if only such a system were implemented in the US, the problems associated with healthcare would largely be alleviated.

It’s a very emotionally pleasing opinion to hold.  Single payer advocates pat themselves on the back for being so benevolent to the poor and insurance-less, and claim that if it weren’t for their efforts, countless people would unnecessarily die.  Unfortunately, positive emotions for its proponents is about the only good thing that comes from single payer healthcare.

When subjected to reason, the only way for a single payer system to look attractive is to analyze it solely with emotion.  Logical and economic reasoning, along with an honest moral assessment, serve to show such a system to be the epitome of ugliness.

Economically, when the cost of a good or service is artificially dropped to $0, the demand for it will skyrocket.  When demand skyrockets, supply will fail to keep up.  When the supply of healthcare cannot meet the demand, the only way to solve the problem is through rationing.  Rationing inevitably leads to wait times, extended pain and suffering, and death.

It’s widely accepted that rationing is the natural consequence of government managed healthcare.  In an article that is supportive of single payer, the author says,

“Canadians have made a conscious decision to hold down costs. One of the ways they do that is by limiting supply, mostly for elective things, which can create wait times.”

It’s tough to identify the most concerning aspect of that statement, but the limitation of supply “mostly for elective things” is certainly at the top of the list.  In a single payer (or otherwise government controlled) system, who defines “elective”?  Whether or not a particular method of treatment is elective is a decision that can only be made by doctor and patient.  When this decision is placed in the hands of distant politicians and bureaucrats, the relationship between doctor and patient, and their ability to use free will to make healthcare decisions is irreparably harmed.

The word “mostly” in the above quotation is perhaps even more concerning.  Is one to conclude that even when central planners determine a treatment to be necessary – it can still be subject to rationing?  Supporters of universal healthcare cannot truly say that necessary procedures would NOT be subject to rationing.  If the demand for that procedure exceeded supply, logic and basic economics indicates that rationing would be unavoidable.

The Canadian single payer system is notorious for wait times.  A particularly troubling anecdote involves a man who needed both knees replaced.  The arthritis in his knees became so bad that he had bone grinding on bone.  It took him 4 months to get an appointment with a specialist, and then he was put 290th on a waiting list for the procedure.  While waiting, he became so desperate that he offered to purchase someone’s place in line ahead of him.  Needless to say, the provincial health care minister forbid that, calling it “unethical.”

Wait times and perversion of the patient-doctor relationship are just two of the major problems with a single payer system.  Patients’ ability to seek second opinions is another.  Imagine having waited several months to see a doctor.  You’ve never met the doctor before, and went to them only because it was the available appointment when your number was called.  The doctor makes a recommendation that you’re unsure of.  You’d like to get a second opinion.  But are you really going to wait in line another several months for that?  Likely not.  Patient options is one more victim of single payer systems.

Yet another major single payer problem is that healthcare decisions and policies are based on political rather than economic considerations.  It is a dangerous game to place this level of trust in the hands of corrupt politicians and inept bureaucrats.

Single payer proponents won’t readily admit that Canada’s healthcare system is a mess.  If they do, they’ll only go so far as to say that there are various reforms necessary to improve the situation.  Within Canada, they’ll point to Saskatchewan (which holds the lowest wait times among Canada’s provinces).  Internationally, they’ll point to Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany, Japan, and Australia.

Virtually all of the proposed reforms involve moving healthcare in the direction of the market.  Saskatchewan chose to “partner with private medical providers”.  The international countries encourage “competition between regulated private insurers,” and require “patient cost-sharing through copayments and deductibles.”  Since shifting toward the market leads to better healthcare, the logical conclusion is to continue in that direction.

The alternative to single payer healthcare is not a “mixed” system.  It is not the system that currently exists in the US.  Principled opponents of universal healthcare argue that the only proper alternative is a completely free market.  No government intervention of any kind.  Elimination of all healthcare associated taxes.  Allowance for the exercise of free will and placing all decision making responsibilities back in the hands of patients.

In the US, useful steps forward would be the repeal of ACA, reduction of income taxes, elimination of healthcare regulations, and allowing individuals to “opt out” of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  Eventually (and ideally sooner rather than later) the US Federal government needs to abolish the Department of Health and Human Services, and get itself out of the healthcare industry altogether.  Decisions related to healthcare policy should be moved down to the state and local levels – closer to the individual.  When this happens, there will be competition among systems, and individuals will be free to “vote with their feet.”

Is there anyone who would oppose the goal of seeing all people have easy access to high quality healthcare?  Of course not.  Unfortunately, that goal has not yet been realized – anywhere in the world.  The debate comes when speculating about the best way to achieve this.  There are only two sides to this debate.  One being the use of force, coercion, and central planning; the other being freedom.  Allowing individuals to exercise free will is always the economically, logically, and morally correct path to take.

Ayn Rand, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan Walk Into a Bar…

The age of social media has given rise to an increasingly large group of people who believe that a couple sentences, or even just a few words posted on a picture constitute an effective argument.  While in some ways, political and philosophical debate is healthier than ever before, the over reliance on simplistic arguments is creating a “meme world” where an asinine idea can be conveyed in few words and posted in mere seconds.  Proper refutation, however; takes more than a few words.

In the 140 character world of Twitter, these types of arguments exist almost exclusively.  This tweet from “Miss O’Kistic” has made its rounds in the online world:

“Ayn Rand, Rand Paul and Paul Ryan walk into a bar.  The bartender serves them tainted alcohol because there are no regulations.  They die.”

It’s the classic, “But if not for the state, how would we…” delusion.  People live in such fear over the possibility of government shrinking just one iota, that when confronted with radical reduction of government, or even (gasp!) complete elimination of government, they lose their minds.  The possibility to engage in rational discussion disappears, and they immediately jump to what they believe to be the only possible scenario, “We’d all die!!!”

For anyone even somewhat knowledgeable of free market economics, it is easy to address these concerns.  The market is more than capable of regulating itself, oftentimes much more effectively than is done by government; if something is demanded by the consumer it will be provided by the supplier.  Unfortunately, the economically ignorant often will not be satisfied with that explanation and will demand to know exactly how, in the absence of governmental regulations, people could be safe from dangers such as “tainted alcohol.”

Ok, fine.

To start, a bar or a liquor company would quickly lose customers and risk going out of business if it became known that they had served a bad product that caused illness.  Word of mouth is a powerful tool – especially in today’s digital age – and something like this would spread rapidly.  Businesses are in the game to make profits, so fear of losing customers and incurring losses provides a strong incentive for them to ensure that the products they serve are safe.

If they accept this premise, their next objection will be that this only addresses the problem after the fact – that there would be no way to make sure tainted alcohol didn’t become a problem in the first place.  Ignoring the fact that government regulations don’t prevent food or drink related illnesses, this objection is still unfounded because the free market would do a better job of that as well.

In any particular city, there are at least several bars that serve food and drink which all compete for customers.  With the absence of universal government regulations, one of them might choose to advertise a ‘guarantee of food & drink safety’ as a method of gaining a competitive advantage.  Their guarantee carries with it a promise to cover any and all medical costs associated with illness contracted by ingesting their products and is backed by an insurance company the bar has contracted with.

To receive the best possible insurance rates, the contract between the bar and the insurance company includes various stipulations.  In exchange for coverage of any potential liability, the insurance company requires the following:

  1. The bar will allow a preliminary inspection prior to execution of the contract, and periodically thereafter.  If the bar is found to be noncompliant of the insurance company’s standards, they will have a reasonable period of time to resolve the issue.  If the issue goes unresolved, the rate of insurance will increase.
  2. The bar will serve only food and drink that is supplied by vendors who are satisfactorily certified.  (The insurance company will provide a list of such vendors as well as contact information for food/drink certification firms that the bar’s current vendors can use if they are not already certified).
  3. The bar will display or otherwise make available to their customers a notice of disclosure with all relevant information pertaining to the contractual agreement between the bar and the insurance company.

Upon execution of the contract, the bar launches a marketing campaign to promote their new policy.  The move garners goodwill from the public, and the bar sees an immediate jump in both clientele and profits.

Other bars and restaurants see this and enter into similar insurance contracts so that they too can advertise safety guarantees.  Before long, such agreements are commonplace.  Competition between bars and restaurants drives up quality and safety standards while also driving down the cost of such insurance policies as the insurance companies compete for contracts.  The number of companies that certify food and drink vendors increase alongside the increasing demand for such services which results in similar quality increases and cost reductions.  Consumer confidence ratings soar.

See how easy that was?  All it takes to see how regulation would naturally occur in the free market without government is a little imagination.

James J. Hill and The Liquidation of Malinvestment

James J. Hill is unquestionably one of the greatest entrepreneurs in American history.  This past weekend marked the 100th anniversary of his passing.  He is best remembered for the successful construction of the only transcontinental railroad to not go bankrupt.  He didn’t accept government subsidies, and argued eloquently against his competitors who did:

“The government should not furnish capital to these companies, in addition to their enormous land subsidies, to enable them to conduct their business in competition with enterprises that have received no aid from the public treasury.”

His endeavors can claim to be largely responsible for the settling and economic development of the upper midwest United States, and for making Seattle into the commercial metropolis that it is today.  For the best histories of the man and his legacy, these two articles (here and here) are unmatched.

Countless business, entrepreneurial, and economic lessons can be learned from a detailed study of Mr. Hill.  One particular economic lesson stems from his entrance into the business of railroad ownership – that of malinvestment and the liquidation thereof.

Hill purchased his first railroad when the Panic of 1873 made purchase of the St. Paul & Pacific line financially possible.  The line had been in steady decline, and eventually made its way into receivership.  With a group of three partners, Hill purchased the line for what he estimated to be 20% of its actual value.  He tirelessly invested in his purchase, extending the line to other cities and connecting it to branches of other lines.

His efforts brought him great success and enormous wealth.  His fortune swelled to an estimated $63 million.  His efforts also led to levels of prosperity for anyone who did business with, worked for, or lived near his lines that had previously only been dreamed of.

The catalyst that started all of this was Hill’s decision to provide the capital necessary to liquidate the malinvestment that the St. Paul & Pacific had succumbed to.  Although much maligned, the liquidation of bankrupt companies or of toxic assets is a good and necessary function of a healthy economy.

Malinvestment, as described by the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle, is most commonly associated with monetary inflation by central banks.  This malinvestment is the source of bubbles, the cause of economic crises, and must eventually be liquidated.  Of course, the Federal Reserve wasn’t founded until 1913, and there was no central bank in the US in 1873.  That fact does not repudiate the theory as it relates to Hill’s purchase of the St. Paul & Pacific.

Panics occurred prior to central banks whenever governments or “private” banks (with special government granted privileges) artificially create money and credit out of thin air.  The Panic of 1873 was the result of US government monetary expansion to finance the Civil War.  This “funny money” was shoveled towards expanding the railroad network and the iron and steel industries.  Many companies in those sectors eventually failed with 1873 (like the recent 2008 crisis) becoming the year of reckoning.

Many are quick to demonize those who take advantage of these situations to purchase bankrupt companies at “rock-bottom” prices.  Mitt Romney was attacked for his company’s role in just such purchases.  Granted, there is plenty to dislike about Mitt Romney – he’s a politician for Pete’s sake.  But from an economic standpoint, companies like his and that of James J. Hill more than a century ago, serve the public good by correcting the problems of malinvestment.

Corrections as described in the preceding paragraph will certainly be economically painful for some people.  Liquidation of malinvestment can result in job loss, and in financial ruin for those invested in the bankrupt companies.  However, as shown by the history of Mr. Hill, there is much to be gained through these corrections.

Another important point related to the economic pain stemming from liquidating malinvestment is that any pain felt is fundamentally NOT the fault of the companies who purchase or liquidate the financially troubled firms.  The malinvestment was only made possible in the first place by central banks or by a governmentally privileged banking system.  Demonizing those who work to correct – and who subsequently further economic growth – the problems that come from artificial money creation is entirely unfounded.  These people should instead be looked upon as benefactors to all of society.  The true focus of demonization should be the institution that made the malinvestment possible.  As with so many societal ills, blame lies solely with the government.

While the story of James J. Hill provides us with many important lessons, it is unfortunate to note that his story did not have an entirely happy ending.  Hill’s success in the railroad business came as a result of his vigorous price cutting and through setting special rates for his biggest customers (along with an obsession for efficient construction and direct railroad routes).

Because all other railroad companies were on the receiving end of government subsidies, and because they were thus able to avoid the losses they would have suffered through competition in a free market, they provided poor service at high prices.  The public rightfully complained about this.  Of course, instead of recognizing their failures and getting out of the railroad subsidy business, the government chose to correct their poor policies by passing more laws and regulations.

The Interstate Commerce Act was passed in 1887.  The Hepburn Act was passed in 1906.  These laws forced all railroad companies to charge set rates for all customers, and effectively ended Hill’s price cutting endeavors.  He eventually began shrinking his business operations, switching his focus from expansion to preservation of what he had built.  An untold number of economic growth opportunities were lost forever.

Answers to economic hardships can always be found in the shrinking of government and in the freeing of markets.  Liquidation of malinvestment will be necessary as long as governments make possible artificial monetary inflation.  Once liquidation takes place, the only way to prevent malinvestment from taking hold again is a return to sound money.

James J. Hill worked to liquidate malinvestment.  That his efforts were eventually undermined is a tragedy.  His story should serve as a lesson in economics for us all.

The Secret to Success

The phone on my desk at work rang.  Looking at the caller ID, a rush of adrenaline hit when my company’s owner’s name appeared.  He really only ever spoke to me in passing, and had never called me directly like this.  Him and I did, however; have a lengthy conversation at our most recent annual Christmas Party during which we discussed free market economic principles, the negative incentives and effects of welfare programs, and governmental hindrances put upon businesses and upon commerce in general.  Afterwards, he remarked to me, “you and I, we’re on the same page.”  It was a proud moment.

When I answered, he asked me to come to his office saying that he had something he wanted my help with.  Sitting down in his office, he began to explain what he was looking for.  The company had recently acquired a new property, and he wanted me to create a spreadsheet that could easily capture costs and predict revenues.

As we were discussing the concept of real estate investment in general, we quickly got off topic.  He mentioned how the company had lost a property they had purchased in Jersey City to eminent domain.  Shaking my head in disgust, he continued, “They stole that property from me.”

“That’s the exact right way to describe what happened – they stole it from you,” I said.  He shrugged, looked a little irritated and said, “Well, they gave me a little money for it, but it was nowhere near what I would have been able to get for the property on the open market.”

I continued his thought saying, “And you would have never voluntarily chosen to sell it in the first place.”

“No, I wouldn’t have.  Certainly not for the amount of money they gave me,” he replied.

Continuing our conversation, something must have triggered a memory in him, because he delved into telling me a story about a time he had been asked for advice.

He was attending a relative’s wedding in Ireland.  While mingling at the reception a younger male relative approached him and asked if he could ask a question.  The two of them walked off to the side where it was less noisy so they could talk.  According to the re-telling of the story that my company’s owner regaled me with, he had no idea what to expect.

“What’s the secret to becoming successful?” the relative asked.  

“He was clearly hoping for some kind of trick, some magical strategy,” he said to me, laughing.  “So I said to him, ‘I’ll tell you exactly where success comes from’,” he continued, “first you wake up everyday at 5 or 6am, and you go to work.  And you work until 6 or 7pm.  And you do this 6 or 7 days a week for 10-15 years.  Then, once you’ve done that, and you’ve built up a little bit of money, and if you’ve been smart with your money – only then will you be able to take a bit of a step back and maybe start having your money work for you.”

Still laughing, he continued, “I’ll never forget the look on his face after I answered his question.  His eyes lowered, he got this dejected look on his face, and he just walked away shaking his head.”

“I guess I didn’t give him the answer he was looking for,” he said to me.  We both laughed and then continued on with the business purposes of our meeting.

As I was driving home later that day, reflecting on the meeting we had had, I couldn’t shake the thought of what good, profound advice this truly was.  Yes, becoming wealthy and successful is extremely difficult.  Yes, it takes a lot of hard work, long hours, persistence, perseverance, smarts, and discipline.

There is no trick or magical strategy to making oneself successful.  No state intervention into the economy can produce prosperity.  No “basic minimum income” or other mystical proposal can produce the advertised results that so many of their proponents push.

If you want success for yourself, or if you want to improve your standing in the world, you’re going to have to work for it.

$250 CASH Bonus to Drive for Uber

Uber is a great way to make some extra money in your spare time, and can even , now is the time to give it a shot.  Sign up before using my invite code, k78ypue, complete (50) trips, and I’ll send you $250!  After you sign up, send me an email at uberguy3000@gmail.com and I’ll send PayPal or another reasonable method of payment once the criteria are met.

Ever-increasing prices.  Unpredictable availability.  Inability to effectively match supply with demand.  Filthy cars.  Aggressive and unsafe drivers.  Anonymous and sometimes dangerous passengers.  We all know the problems with the traditional taxi system.

The problems can often be racial in nature, too.  If you’re a black man trying to flag down a yellow cab in NYC, chances are that none will stop for you.  Ask to be dropped off in a “sketchy” neighborhood, and you’ll likely be refused service and asked to get out of the car.

Uber (and ride-sharing in general) solves all of these problems.

The best way to demonstrate the obvious superiority of ride-sharing services over traditional taxis is through simple comparison:

  • Uber has announced several rate decreases while traditional taxis have consistently raised prices.
  • Uber’s surge feature brilliantly and effectively matches supply to demand.  The traditional system has no such feature.
  • Because Uber’s payment system is entirely digital, there is no cash involved.  Thus, potential for crime and fear of robbery is greatly diminished.

Clearly, ride-sharing services have made the taxi system more effective and more efficient for passengers.  As an Uber driver, I’ve heard from many of my riders how much they prefer Uber’s service and that they’d never go back to traditional taxis.  Their reasons are numerous, including vehicle cleanliness, driver courtesy, and the provision of “extra” amenities.

But Uber isn’t only great for riders.  It is great for drivers as well:

  • Most importantly, compensation ranges from decent to exceptional.  As a driver in the very busy region of Northern New Jersey, surge is frequent.  Driving during the busiest times (weekday rush hours & weekend nights) will push compensation toward the exceptional end of that spectrum.    If I drive for 2-3 hours after work 3-4 days a week and the occasional weekend shift, I can average $15 – $25 per hour.
  • Uber’s “App” makes the whole process of being a driver markedly simple.  It is constantly improving and offering new features.  When I first started driving, trips came one at a time.  Then, the next trip could be accepted while still driving the first trip.  Now, carpooling has been added.  Each of these improvements has cut down on “down time” between trips when you’re not getting paid.
  • The “App” also allows you to see where surge is taking place, so that drivers can focus in on the most lucrative driving opportunities.
  • Uber sends regular text notifications and emails to help maximize money earned.  These include data showing the busiest hours of the week when drivers can expect the possibility of surge earnings, and your personal driving statistics in comparison to other drivers.
  • Additional benefits include discounts on cell phone plans, gas, vehicle maintenance, and much more.  The more you drive, the more you get.

If you’ve ever thought about becoming an Uber driver, now is the time to give it a shot.  Sign up before using my invite code, k78ypue, complete (50) trips, and I’ll send you $200!  After you sign up, send me an email at uberguy3000@gmail.com and I’ll send PayPal or another reasonable method of payment once the criteria are met.

My Journey to the Philosophy of Anarcho-Capitalism

Bill Clinton vs Bob Dole in 1996 was the first presidential election that I remember. It was during this campaign season that I first learned the phrase “the lesser of two evils.” My parents were typical conservative republicans and though they weren’t overly enthusiastic about Dole, they thought that his brand of evil was more tolerable than Clinton’s brand of evil.

Another concept I first learned during this election was the idea of a “single-issue voter.” Though the phrase wasn’t explicitly used, the reason Dole was thought to be a lesser evil than Clinton was his opposition to abortion. That alone was reason enough to support Dole regardless of his stance on other issues. In that time and up until the 2008 elections, I hadn’t thought about or formulated my own political opinions. I had more or less taken up the ideology that I was brought up with in my family. However, I do recall being less than satisfied with the idea of voting for the “lesser of two evils.”

Starting college in fall 2005, I slowly started leaning more liberal democrat with thoughts such as “everyone should get free healthcare” and that sort of thing. It was also during this time that I began to see the problems with the war on drugs. During primary season, a friend pointed out to me two candidates who were advocating for the complete legalization of marijuana – Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich.

There was something about Ron Paul that drew me to him more so than Kucinich. He was candid and unafraid to voice unpopular opinions. As was true for so many others, his “Giuliani Moment,” was life changing for me, and opened my eyes to the immorality and criminality of US foreign policy. Those in power are constantly preaching that they are keeping us safe with their wars and foreign interventions. In reality with every bomb that is dropped, and every innocent person that is killed, the US is inciting hatred and provoking blowback.

Aside from the war issue, he was he only candidate who ever referred to the Federal Reserve. He was the sole voice speaking about monetary policy, and he explained how inflation and boom/bust cycles are not natural phenomena in an economy. Rather, they are a predictable result of central banking manipulation of the supply of money. His stances on war and on the Fed were the two greatest lessons I’ve ever learned, and started me down the path of fighting for liberty.

When Ron Paul eventually dropped out of the 2008 race, I was drawn to Barack Obama because he sounded a lot like Ron when it came to foreign policy. He was promising to end wars, bring troops home, rein in executive power to declare war, and close down Guantanamo. I let myself believe in the message of “Hope and Change,” and it was then a proud moment to pull the lever and cast my vote for Obama.

Midway through Obama’s first term, it was evident that he had made false promises. He either didn’t have the power to fulfill his promises, or he didn’t have the desire. Either way, it was during these years that I decided I wouldn’t get fooled again.

It was also during his first term that I began referring to myself as a libertarian. It was increasingly clear that government, especially big government, was the root cause of so many problems. My distrust of the state grew. Obama’s (and Hillary’s) Libyan War was another major turning point in my views on the US military. I read how Gaddafi’s regime was using weapons against the rebels that had been supplied by the US. I read how the rebels that the US was backing were comprised of jihadist fighters who were veterans of the US war in Iraq. How could the US be on the side of Al-Qaeda? Weren’t these the same people who flew planes into the WTC towers? Weren’t these the same people that the US had just lost 5,000 lives fighting against in Iraq and Afghanistan? Then after the US toppled Gaddafi, the Libyan government’s stockpile of weapons fell right into those jihadists’ hands. This played a direct role in the rise to power of Al-Nusra in Syria and in the creation of ISIS. Could the government really be this stupid? Or were they deliberate in their criminality? Regardless, it had become an institution that I feared more than cheered.

Aside from having my eyes opened to the ridiculous foreign policy of the US government, I was also coming to a more crystalline realization that domestic policy was equally farcical. In 2009, I began my first full time job after graduating college. I saw first-hand the problems associated with artificial government regulations, I was confronted with the concept of taxation as theft, and I began to see the problems associated with mandatory unionization of employees.

During the 2012 election, I became a part of the “Ron Paul or none at all” coalition. I was not going to be voting for the lesser of two evils. I donated to his campaign, passed out information on street corners, made the case for him on social media, and went to hear him speak when he come locally – dragging my parents along with me. During a Q&A session at a luncheon that I attended, a person asked him, “I find that I agree with you on virtually everything, what should I do to help bring about the changes that you speak about?” Ron’s answer was perfect. He said simply, “Do what you want to do. Do whatever makes you happy.”

As had become a staple of his speeches, it was not up to him to tell people what to do, nor was it the responsibility of government to make decisions in the lives of people. His advice was that if you’ve become a believer in the philosophy of freedom, the best thing you can do is to educate yourself. To read as much as possible. And, when confident in your knowledge and ability to refute those who would argue against freedom, to spread the ideas of liberty. I took that message to heart, and have been trying to follow that advice ever since.

Ron Paul’s GOP debate debate performances were nothing short of spectacular (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). When his campaign was finally over, it became the work of the millions he had inspired to assist him in carrying the torch for freedom. Reading was my priority. I consumed all the greats including Bastiat, Hazlitt, Hayek, Mises, Rothbard, Napolitano, and Woods. I read article after article on LewRockwell.com, Antiwar.com, Mises.org, and Fee.org. I simply could not get enough. It was like coming out of The Matrix.

In libertarian circles, there’s a joke that goes, “what’s the difference between a libertarian and an anarchist? About six months.” This became true for me. The more I read, the more I became convinced that the state is always a hindrance to human prosperity and an enemy of peace. It does not matter how the state is arranged or who is in power, everything that the state does is always a drain on wealth and on the productive capacities of free people.

Anarchy is a word that comes with negative connotations in the main stream. That anarchy has come to be synonymous with chaos is sad, and goes to show the ability of those in power to co-opt words and to skew language to their benefit. The true definition of anarchy is simply the lack of a ruling class. Anarcho-capitalism, the philosophy popularized by the great Murray Rothbard, is much wider in context. It is the philosophy of true and complete freedom in every aspect of life. Its guiding lessons include the non-aggression principle, property rights, and free market economics.

Every person has a right to their life, liberty, and justly acquired property. Aggression against another is never justified except in cases of self-defense, to achieve restitution, and in certain cases of retaliation. Economic resources are scarce, and as such, they should always be put toward their most efficient use as desired by the will of society.

That last point is often used as justification for central planning and state authority. How else would scarce resources be put to the best possible use? But this is a fallacy. The free market, comprised of the collective voluntary transactions and interactions between all individuals is the only way to effectively use Earth’s scarce resources. The collective knowledge of billions of free individuals will always be greater than the collective knowledge of a handful of central planners. The price and profit & loss systems that comprise free market economics show how resources will always be put toward the use that is valued most.

This newly acquired knowledge was liberating. Even so, as I began having discussions with people around me, I was still too frequently confronted with arguments that were difficult for me to refute. I knew the arguments I was being presented with were wrong, but I still lacked in ability to respond in a way that satisfied myself intellectually and in a way that could potentially change minds.

The “who would build the roads” argument was simple enough. Others, though; such as “we are the government” and “politicians represent us” were more difficult. The more I read, the more I was comfortable with responding to those arguments. Tom Woods’s podcast, The Tom Woods Show was another major contributing factor to my development, and I would be remiss were I not to give Dr. Woods his due.

Ron Paul ran as a strict constitutionalist, and that is a large part of what attracted me to him. In government schooling, I was taught how great and wise the founding fathers were in drafting the Constitution. That someone would be ridiculed and shunned in the way that Ron was for defending this supposedly revered document struck me.

I have become much more confident in responding to arguments against a stateless society that are presented to me. Politicians cannot truly be our representative, because what is representation? These people “represent” hundreds of thousands of individuals. If another individual and I hold opposing views, how can someone represent the both of us?

The entire premise of government authority is now like something from another planet. What right does 51% have to make laws that the 49% must follow? For that matter, even if every person in the world except one all agreed on a particular issue, what right do they have to tell the one how to live his life?

The questions that people will have when confronted with the ideas of a world without government will be many. While it will be increasingly difficult to answer every possible “what about this” scenario, it will always hold true that the market, the collective actions of millions of free-thinking and free-acting individuals, will be able to provide for any needs that arise.

The philosophy of anarcho-capitalism is so compelling because of its logical, economic, and moral consistency. It never requires one to follow up “I believe in freedom” with “but…” The point I always try to make when engaging people about these ideas is that I don’t want to force freedom and voluntarism on anyone. Ultimately, all I desire is to live with my family in a society free of coercion. I’d never try to force others into that society. If a group of people want to live in a community where they share everything collectively, and all wealth is evenly distributed, they should be free to do so. I only ask that these people do me the same courtesy and allow me to be free of state mandates and edicts.

While I will always be willing to accept smaller government, and a government more in line with the original desires of the Constitution, it has become clear that small, limited government cannot be the end game that is sought. It must be no government. No one should be given power to rule the lives of others. Lysander Spooner said this about the Constitution during the 19th century, “… it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

Top 10 Moronic Political Debates (Part 2, 5-1)

Part 1 of my ‘Top 10 Moronic Political Debates’ can be found here.  The following are the top moronic debates:

(5) Black Lives Matter (BLM) v. All Lives Matter (ALM)

After a series of high profile, highly publicized instances of black men being murdered by police officers, the slogan “Black Lives Matter” has risen to such prominence that it has developed into an international movement, and rightly so. BLM’s problem is marketing. By choosing a slogan that focuses on race, they’ve redirected the narrative away from the issue of police brutality and toward the issue of racism in general. There are people out there who miss the point of BLM’s message, and instead focus on the slogan itself, unable to determine if the slogan means “black lives matter too” or “only black lives matter.” The sad fact that some interpret the slogan to mean the latter has spawned the counter ALM movement. Now the two are becoming diametrically opposed, and the debate is shifting from BLM’s original message.

Both sides are missing the point. Of course black lives matter. Of course all lives matter. Virtually no one would reply in the negative when asked, “Do black lives matter?” Or, “Do all lives matter?” Darren Wilson could be asked the former question, and would likely respond in the affirmative. Both sides need to move beyond the moronic racial argument, and return to the original issue of police brutality. It’s fine to say that black lives matter or all lives matter, but ok – we all agree with both statements, now what? Demanding accountability for killer cops must be the focus of this very real problem.

(4) Healthcare

Maintain the status quo or move to a fully socialized single-payer system. The status quo is awful as most already know; costs continue to rise, quality continues to decline, and anyone who deals with the medical field knows that something is very wrong. The problems with the status quo are continually getting worse as additional state interventions into the field compile. A single payer system would compound these problems and create new ones. One need not look further than the military’s VA medical system to see the problems of single-payer. Looking at countries that have implemented single payer systems we see the same problems that plague the VA; long wait times, rationing of care, limited availability of doctors, etc.

Both sides have blinders on. There is a clear third way that has been proven to work historically, and still is finding ways to work today even in spite of all the associated government regulation and control. This third way is freedom. All barriers between the patient and the care provider must be eliminated. The market’s price and profit/loss systems must be allowed to perform the tasks that they perform best – directing resources to where they are most desired in the way that is most efficient and satisfactory to the end user, the patient.

(3) Climate Change & Environmental Issues

Global warming is real, man-made, and government intervention through regulation is the only way to solve the problem. That’s one extreme of this argument. The other extreme are those who have zero concern for the environment, and who characterize the global warming narrative as a big conspiracy. Like the vaccine argument, both sides have facts, statistics and reports that they’ll use to bolster their position. Similarly, both sides are quick to dismiss the numbers presented by the other side. Both sides throw out ridiculous “facts” that shouldn’t be taken seriously by any rational person. 97% of all scientists agree that climate change is man-made, and government regulations is the answer? Please. The climate is not changing at all? Please.

Both sides miss the point. Whichever side you fall on, this is simply a property rights issue. Environmental pollution and smog causing emissions is best dealt with by a strict adherence to property rights. No person or company has a right to pollute another person’s land including the air above that land. If property rights were respected, property owners could sue the polluters for damage of property. With so much of the world’s land, water, and air being owned by governments, there is a tragedy of the commons problem that doesn’t allow the principals of property rights to protect those spaces. Growing up near Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, NY provided a first-hand view of this type of tragedy. Tons upon tons of chemicals were dumped into the lake by a nearby company, and there was no protection against this as governments are always either slow to react or receiving handouts from the polluting companies to look the other way. Had a homeowners association, fisherman’s association, or some other group been able to have ownership of the lake, they would have reacted immediately to protect their property.

(2) Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life

Far and away the most heated of the political debates. Both sides are unwavering in their belief of being correct, and are just as unwavering in their belief that the other side contains nothing but hate. A woman should have the right to choose at all times what takes place within her body. The termination of an unborn life is murder. We’ve all heard both sides countless times, and it never ends. This issue is so intense that the term ‘single-issue voter’ stems directly from it.

Both sides fail to see the simple facts. This is a debate that will never be won by either side so long as both believe that the only solution is a one size fits all solution. Instead of this type of issue being decided on a national level such that all 330 million Americans must abide by it, the issue should be left to states or (better yet) local jurisdiction. Neither side would be fully content, but both sides would have won. Pro-Life advocates would surely carve out states and localities where their beliefs would reign, and Pro-Choice advocates would do the same. At that point, people could vote with their feet – the most effective form of voting.

(1) Republicans vs. Democrats

Liberal or conservative? Left or right? Red or blue? The primary debate that is had within America is far and away the most moronic. Both sides believe that if only their guy was in charge then everything would be better. All that is needed is the right people wielding power. Name-calling and demonization of opponents of either side is rampant. Those stuck in this two sided box are unwilling or unable to see the possibilities awaiting outside of the box.

Both sides fail to see the bigger picture. History shows that one political party is exactly the same as the other political party, and only differ in rhetoric while remaining identical in deed. Both take for granted the idea that a person or group of people have some kind of legitimate moral right to rule over and control the lives of others. What right does 51% have to boss around 49%? How does winning a popularity contest grant the moral authority to act in ways that a normal person would be convicted of criminal activity for? Taxation is no different than theft. Conscription is no different than kidnapping. War is no different than mass murder. Quantitative easing is no different than counterfeiting. The sooner that civilization realizes that ultimate sovereignty must reside with the individual and not the state, the better off all of humanity will be.