The Web site of the National Libertarian Party has an online opinion poll that asks: “Which option most closely matches your feeling about the closing of the WWII Memorial during the so-called government shutdown?” I love it that they refer to the “so-called” government shutdown, so true in light of all the reports that government continued to spend our money at an alarming rate.
The first three proposed answers are what you might expect: “The government should not have closed the WWII Memorial” (58% ), “It was OK for the government to close the WWII Memorial” (3%), and “I don’t care much whether or not the memorial was closed during the shutdown” (5%).
But the next possible answer was a surprise: “The WWII Memorial should have been built on private property to avoid political meddling.” The thinking man’s answer! As Ayn Rand would have said, “check your premise.” If you rely on politicians to erect monuments, don’t complain if they choose to shut them down. An impressive 20% chose that answer.
The final possible answer, though, is even better: “A non-interventionist policy at the time of WWI might have prevented WWII.” I don’t think it’s possible to read that without laughing out loud. There shouldn’t even be a monument (to close down or keep open) because there never should have been a war. That’s really thinking it through! And 10% of the 5,516 folks who answered the poll chose that answer.
This is why I love libertarians. They think things through and for themselves, never accept the choices as they are presented by the political or chattering classes, and always check the premise. The result may not always be an effective tactic or strategy for advancing freedom, but that’s not always the point, is it? Finding the truth and speaking it out loud are their own reward, and they are toxic to totalitarianism of all stripes, eventually if not right away. No intellectual movement speaks truth to power better than libertarianism.
Diane and I just sent a gift to the LP to help them buy a building in Washington DC. You can learn more about that effort by going here.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), they point out, incorporates some ideas from a Heritage Foundation proposal and a law promoted by Mitt Romney. Those are not, however, conservative ideas, much less good ideas, and are not a “sound chassis” for anything.
There is nothing conservative about the forcible redistribution of wealth. And even Wall Street Occupiers should be against redistributing people’s earnings to Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Hospitals, Big Data Mining, and nameless unaccountable bureaucrats in the vast, ever-expanding realm of Kathleen Sebelius.
Redistributing wealth is a prescription for social unrest. There is nothing more divisive than dividing up loot. The “contributors” don’t like having their earnings taken, and the recipients are chronically unhappy too because their share is always too small. People resent having to pay for other people’s medical care—a resentment that was exploited in the disingenuous “free rider” argument for the law.
Young, healthy people don’t want to pay higher premiums so that older, sicker people can pay less than their actuarial costs. And without a mandate, they won’t.
ACA tries to conceal the fact that “insuring” everybody and everything means that everybody is always paying for everybody else’s medical care, with a big chunk siphoned off by managers and money shufflers.
Obama didn’t create the third-party payment system, which caused the spending crisis. But ACA expands it still more, rigidifies it, and attempts to crush true free-market competition.
Insurance is a voluntary risk-sharing contract. Real insurance companies are not third parties. They reimburse subscribers who suffer a loss. They do not provide or manage services or write checks to those who do. Nor do they tell subscribers how to spend their check. To the extent that some casualty insurers are beginning to imitate “health insurers,” they are damaging their industry and inviting a cost spiral, as well as corruption and deterioration of quality in the auto repair and other industries.
ObamaCare is compulsory. Most of the provisions of coverage are government-dictated, and pricing by risk is mostly forbidden. Hence, “health plans” are not insurance.
ACA is also the antithesis of affordability. Those who have a prepaid plan have every incentive to use it to the maximum. Plus there are enormous built-in transaction costs. These factors are reflected in the premiums—which HealthCare.gov attempted to conceal from people eligible for subsidies. Not that beneficiaries of taxpayer largesse necessarily care about how much invisible, presumably richer other people are having to pay on their behalf.
Those who seem to be getting something for nothing are still likely to be hurt. If the subsidy is miscalculated, they may have to “repay” that which they never received (it went to the insurer). Those who have coverage may still be unable to get care. They may be trading coverage for loss of a full-time paycheck. They may face a greater-than-100% marginal tax rate if they do earn more money, owing to the income thresholds.
In every case, forcible redistribution of wealth decreases the total amount of wealth. There is no prosperity without a reward for working.
ACA is not an opportunity for bipartisan coalition-building. There is no “tweak” that can help a rotted-out chassis, no advantage in trying to steer the vehicle built on it in a slightly different direction.
There is nothing conservative about theft, deceitfulness, forcing people to act contrary to interest or conscience, undermining the work ethic, or politicizing the practice of medicine.
There is also nothing compassionate, moral, ethical, or prudent about these things.
ObamaCare cannot be fixed. It must be repealed before it destroys the medical system, the economy, and the American system of constitutionally limited government.
We must learn from this debacle that compulsion is not the answer. Pasting a conservative, Republican, or bipartisan label on forcible redistribution of wealth, or hiding it behind a show of good intentions with well-chosen tragic stories, does not change its evil, destructive nature.
In this podcast, Mike LaFaive of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy discusses in greater detail his article on the Heartlander titled “A Tax Hike Al Capone Could Have Loved”. In his article, he compares Al Capone’s liquor smuggling incentives to the new increases in cigarette taxes proposed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
LaFaive describes the excessive taxes on cigarettes as “prohibition by price”, where the taxes are so high it creates an “implicit prohibition” of cigarettes. Recently, Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed a new, $.75 tax increase on cigarettes, which would put Chicago the most expensive city for cigarettes in the entire country. LaFaive believes this would cause Chicago to become the number one cigarette smuggling state, and bump down New York, where 60% of all cigarettes in the state are smuggled.
Before the most recent tax increases, the University of Illinois did a study of cigarette smuggling in the city of Chicago, and found that 75% of the cigarettes were not from Chicago; in fact, 29% were from Indiana. The fact is that increases taxes on cigarettes only drives smokers to buy elsewhere and the city (or state) actually ends up losing tax revenue, when the goal was to increase it. It creates incentives for smugglers to buy cheap and sell high; profits are as good as smuggling drugs and the punishments are less severe.
It’s time to fight back against these detrimental tax policies. You can read more at the Mackinac Center website.
Listen to the podcast in the player above
Dan Pilla, author of the Heartland-published Ten Principles of Federal Tax Policy, discusses the current tax system in the United States and how it does not follow any of the ten principles laid out in his book. Pilla is a taxpayer’s rights advocate and has defended countless tax payers against the IRS. He helps individuals and businesses who struggle with our tax problems, which are plentiful.
The first principle is simplicity, which our tax system is most certainly not. The tax code now consists of about four million words, which is three times the amount in the 1970′s, and twice the amount of the 1990′s. That doesn’t scream “simple” to me! Also, there have been more than 3,200 tax code changes between 2001 and 2008, with 500 of them being just in 2008. Nobody understands the tax code, not even the IRS.
Our current tax system creates criminals out of law-abiding citizens. Pilla says most people are trying to abide by the law and follow the tax rules, but they get tripped up by the complicated mess of the system. When you’ve got two different tax analysts telling you two different things, plus two IRS agents who tell you two different things, how are you to know what is correct and incorrect? Last year alone there were 37 million penalties issued by the IRS- and there’s only 130 million tax returns filed! That means 28% of people who filed tax returns were penalized… Scary stuff.
Another principle that Pilla discusses is stability. He says Americans have a right to know that their tax system will remain stable and consistent this year, and for years to come. This is important because every American is affected by the tax code in every part of their lives. Every decision made has tax consequences- to marry or not to marry, to have children or not, to take a raise at work, planning a business, and planning retirement.
The bottom line is the income tax and liberty cannot coexist. Which one are you willing to live without?
Listen to the podcast in the player above.
One hundred years ago this month, on December 23, 1913, the Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act, establishing a national central-banking system in the United States. The governing board of the Federal Reserve was organized on August 12, 1914, and the Federal Reserve banks opened for operation on November 16, 1914.
On the surface, the preamble to the Act, which summarized the purpose of the new government-created institution, seemed fairly innocuous:
“An Act to provide for the establishment of Federal reserve banks, to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper, to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States, and for other purposes.”The Powers of the Federal Reserve
But what this meant was the start of the monopolization of monetary matters in the hands of a single politically appointed authority within the boundaries of the United States.
Those innocuously sounding functions listed in the Act’s preamble, however, gave the Federal Reserve the power to:
(a) Control the quantity of money and credit supplied in the United States.
(b) Influence the value, or purchasing power, of the monetary unit that is used by the citizenry of the country in all their transactions.
(c) Indirectly manipulate the rates of interest at which borrowers and lenders transfer savings for investment and other purposes, including the funding of government budget deficits.A Century of Central Bank Mismanagement
The 100-year record of the Federal Reserve has been a roller coaster of inflations and recessions, including the disaster of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the “excessive exuberance” of the late 1990s that resulted in the “Dot.Com” bubble that burst in the early 2000s, and the recent boom-bust cycle of the last decade from which the U.S. economy is still slowly recovering.The crucial and fundamental problem with the power and authority of the Federal Reserve is that it represents monetary central planning. In a world that has, for the most part, turned its back on the theoretical error and practical disaster of believing that governments have the wisdom and ability to centrally plan the economic affairs of a society, central banking remains one of the major remaining forms of socialism practiced around the globe.
Government control and planning of the monetary system has resulted in extensive political power over virtually every aspect of our economic life. In 1942 Gustav Stolper, a German free-market economist then in exile in America from war-torn Europe, published a book titled “This Age of Fables.” He pointed out:“Hardly ever do the advocates of free capitalism realize how utterly their ideal was frustrated at the moment the state assumed control of the monetary system . . . A ‘free’ capitalism with government responsibility for money and credit has lost its innocence. From that point on it is no longer a matter of principle but one of expediency how far one wishes or permits government interference to go. Money control is the supreme and most comprehensive of all governmental controls short of expropriation.” The Power to Manipulate the Lives of Millions
Through monetary central planning governments have the capacity to manipulate and destroy the real value of the accumulated savings and wealth of hard-working people. Rising prices eats away at the real buying power of every dollar a person has set aside and saved for his needs of the future.
Governments can use money creation to redistribute income among individuals and groups in the society to serve various political purposes. When the money supply is increased it does not impact every market demand, price, or income at the same time. It is injected in the economy and, like a pebble dropped into a pond of water, sends out ripples of effects that differentially and disproportionally benefit some and harm others.
In addition, monetary injections through the banking system distort and twist the patterns of capital investment and resource use throughout the society, which inescapably generate the booms and busts that have punctuated the economic history of America during the last 100 years.
The rationale behind such control has been the notion that governments and their appointed central-banking authorities have the knowledge and capability of maintaining economy-wide stability and growth.Central Banking as the Failed Socialist Mentality
But what has never been explained is how a handful of central bankers can know, better than the free competitive market, what should be used as money, what the quantity and value of that money should be, and what interest rates can assure a proper and continuous balance between savings and investment for long-term sustainable economic growthIn other words, central banking represents one of those instances of the hubris of the social engineer, who claims to know more about how to better manage some aspect of society rather than to leave these decisions and their outcomes to the individual market participants themselves.
The fact is, the Federal Reserve can no more correctly plan for an “optimal” quantity of money or a fictitious “good” rate of price inflation than any other branch of government can properly plan for the optimal supply and pricing of shoes, cigars, soap, or scissors.
And the history of central bank monetary policy in the United States and around the world has demonstrated the same inevitable failures as all other forms of socialist planning over the last century.The Market Knows Better than a Central Bank
What should be used as money and what quantity of it would serve the uses and demands of people in society can only be discovered through the interactions of people in a free market.
What should be the value, or buying power, of a unit of money can only emerge out of people offering money they have to spend for the goods and services that others are offering in exchange for that money. The resulting money prices for purchasable goods would establish what the general value of that money should be in the market place.
And a truly free and competitive banking system would generate the stable and sustainable financial intermediation that would enable the formation of market-based rates of interest to bring people’s savings into coordinated balance with the borrowing demands of others desiring to undertake profitable investments.An Agenda for Monetary Freedom
What, then should be the done, and put in place of government central banking? The consistent advocate of the free market should call for the abolition of the Federal Reserve and the operation of a market-based system of private and competitive free banking in its place.
The following would be the steps to bring this about:
1.The repeal of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and all complementary and related legislation giving the federal government authority and control over the monetary and banking system.
Repeal of legal-tender laws, which give government the power to specify the medium through which all debts and other financial obligations, public and private, may be settled.
- Repeal of all restrictions and regulations on free entry into the banking business, including interstate banking.
- Repeal of all restrictions on the right of private banks to issue their own bank notes and to open accounts denominated in foreign currencies or gold and silver.
- Repeal of all federal and state rules, laws, and regulations concerning bank-reserve requirements, interest rates, and capital requirements.
- Abolition of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Any deposit-insurance arrangements and agreements between banks and their customers, or among associations of banks, would be private, voluntary, and market-based.
In the absence of government regulation and monopoly control, a free monetary and banking system would come into existence; it would not have to be created, designed, or supported.
A market-based monetary and banking system would naturally emerge, take form, and develop out of the prior system of monetary central planning. Monetary freedom would be established in place of the current Federal Reserve System.
The 100 years of central banking mismanagement and central banker hubris of presuming to plan the monetary and banking affairs of hundreds of millions of people would, then, would be brought to it’s end.
[Originally published on EPIC TiMES]
We are weeks away from being fully immersed in the 2014 election cycle. Predictions abound, likening the 2014 cycle to 2010—when the House flipped from Democratic to Republican. Only this time, it is the Senate that has the potential to change. Twenty of the 33 seats up in 2014 are currently held by Democrats—more than half of whom are in trouble.
In 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was up for reelection—for his fifth term—and he was facing “a ferocious challenge.” He was “in trouble.” Remember, 2010 was the year of Tea Party victory. In light of the mounting government debt, pork barrel spending was no longer vogue. But Senator Harry Reid, apparently, didn’t get the memo. “The 71-year-old one-time boxer touted his ability to bring federal money to his home state—no one could do more,” said the HuffPost coverage of his “surprise” win.
A May 2010 internal email addressing the need to expedite Department of Energy (DOE) green-energy loan approvals for projects in Reid’s district says: “Reid is constantly hit at home for not bringing in the federal dollars.” In the email, reported Obama bundler and former Clinton Administration staffer, Jonathan Silver, who was, at the time, the executive director of the Loan Programs Office, was to assure Reid that he anticipated “a good number of projects to be approved in the coming months.”
Reid saw the potential in green-energy dollars before anyone else. He laid the foundation to allow him to bring home the “federal dollars.”
The White House and DOE insiders helped Reid secure green-energy stimulus funds for his home state of Nevada—which he touted in his 2010 campaign. He is tied to more than $3 billion of taxpayer money—currency that created just over 200 permanent jobs.
The Washington Times reported: “Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, who led passage of the $814 billion stimulus bill and worked to include the loan guarantee program to help finance clean-energy projects…” The 2009 stimulus package—the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)—was jammed-packed full of clean-energy provisions, about 10 percent (nearly $100 billion) of the monies were earmarked for renewable energy.
Having “worked to include the loan guarantee program,” Reid was frustrated when the federal dollars weren’t flowing into Nevada fast enough.
Seven months after the stimulus was signed into law, Reid, sent a letter, dated September 23, 2009, to President Obama, complaining about the “slow pace of implementation of the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee programs.” In it, Reid patted himself on the back for his role (via the stimulus bill) in helping to “appropriate an additional $6 billion for an expanded loan guarantee program.” Despite Reid’s acknowledgement of the “risks” involved, he proceeded to request that “obstacles be cleared away,” and basically demanded that the ARRA monies for the loan program be “rapidly” dispensed.
Reid had campaign donors anxiously waiting for the federal dollars. The Washington Free Beacon revealed that executives from three companies that received millions through the “fast-track” approvals all donated to Reid and other Democrats—Nevada Geothermal, Ormat Nevada, and SolarReserve—have contributed more than $58,000 since 2008. Additionally, the then-CEO of BrightSource energy—which ultimately received $1.6 billion in stimulus funds—hosted a fundraiser for Reid.
Each of these projects did receive the federal dollars—but not because they were such great projects. President Obama has declared that DOE decisions had “nothing to do with politics.” But, all four of the above, plus a transmission project originally known as Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP), were speculative—at best. Their ratings, along with the majority (22 out of 26 projects) of the stimulus-created 1705 Loan Guarantee Program, were rated as “junk” grade investments (“with a high likelihood of failure”), yet the taxpayer-backed loans were approved, with many of these projects also being awarded huge amounts of free taxpayer cash in the form of stimulus grants. Why? Politics.
Loan Program Office emails indicate that Reid’s projects were prioritized because they were “high profile,” “tied to larger events,” or because they had Reid’s support. Here’s a sampling from the hundreds of leaked emails relating to the various Reid projects:
- December 5, 2009: “Reid may be desperate. WH might want to help. Short term considerations may be more important than longer term considerations and what’s a billion anyhow?”
These five projects gave Reid bragging rights at a time when he most needed it.
Reid’s 2010 campaign included this slogan: “FIGHTING FOR CLEAN ENERGY JOBS IN NEVADA.” In a campaign document, he brags about his “efforts in passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” and about pursuing “consistent federal incentives to develop clean renewable energy resources.”
The projects were used as campaign photo ops and talking points that helped the connected companies seeking the loans. Ormat Nevada, Inc.’s director of policy and business development, Paul Thomsen, was featured in a 2010 campaign ad where he states: “Harry Reid saw the potential for geothermal before just about anyone else.” It is important to note that Thomsen served as an aide to Reid from 2002-2005 and he also contributed to Reid’s campaign. Regarding SWIP, the Las Vegas Sun reported: Reid gets “an election-year trophy.”
Reid’s role in the green-energy, crony-corruption story is illustrative of the election scam that so often takes place in America. Once again, Obama lied. These loanswere given for political reasons. They gave Harry Reid an election-year platform and victory.
The whole green-energy, crony-corruption story is convoluted and difficult to grasp—which, I believe, is part of the goal. It is so twisted and interconnected that the average person is unlikely to have the time to dig through the whole story. Only hard-core politicos care enough to follow the trail—which is why, for the past 18 months Christine Lakatos and I have covered the saga. Christine has done the in-depth research; I’ve presented the capsulized version. I hope this taste has tempted you to dig deeper.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid knows how to work the system. He’s not up for reelection in 2014, but 20 of his friends are. Like Reid, they voted for the 2009 stimulus bill that launched the entire green-energy, crony-corruption scandal that took nearly $100 billion taxpayer dollars to pay off donors to Harry Reid, President Obama and other high-ranking Democrats. More than fifty of those stimulus-funded projects, coupled with additional clean-energy funds, have gone bankrupt—or are circling the drain—and have taken our money with them.
These five “junk-rated” stimulus loans were rushed so they could offer Reid election year trophies. Of the five, two are facing trouble. The other three, after years of receiving taxpayer money, are still incomplete. Plus, BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah solar power project has been “executing birds.”
More than $3 billion went to Reid’s friends with the promise that the federal dollars would create “tens of thousands of green jobs.” A little more than 200 permanent jobs have actually been created.
Harry Reid saw the potential before anyone else all right. Green energy was a gold mine for him and his cronies.
[Originally published on Town Hall]
Neil Stenhouse, lead author of a paper accepted for publication by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, trashed the ability of American Meteorological Society meteorologists to understand global warming after they failed to validate Stenhouse’s mythical global warming consensus. Stenhouse’s criticism of AMS meteorologists in the UKGuardian puts dues-paying AMS members in the odd position of supporting and publishing the work of a non-scientist who is bashing their credentials.
Stenhouse, a psychologist and doctoral student in communications at George Mason University, emailed all full members of the American Meteorological Society for whom he could find an email address and asked them to fill out an online survey on global warming. More than 1,800 AMS meteorologists filled out the survey.
Only 52 percent said global warming is occurring and is caused mostly by humans – which is itself a far cry from having 52 percent say humans are causing a global warming crisis. The results were a huge blow to the mythical notion that all or nearly all scientists agree that humans are causing a global warming crisis. This is especially the case considering the AMS survey reflected the views of scientists with atmospheric science expertise. This wasn’t a survey of engineers or other non-atmospheric scientists with little if any atmospheric science expertise.
After I reported the results of this survey last month at Forbes.com, global warming activists went into damage-control overdrive, doing everything possible to downplay the results.
The Guardian, in an article published by Scott Abraham and Dana Nuccitelli (one an engineer, the other a solar scientist), was especially critical of most AMS members’ ability to understand and hold informed opinions on global warming issues. “Most AMS members are not climate researchers, nor is scientific research of any kind their primary occupation,” Abraham and Nuccitelli asserted.
Stenhouse piled on with additional criticism, downplaying in the Guardian article most AMS meteorologists’ ability to hold informed views on global warming. “You only see low levels of consensus in the sample if you also look at the views of people who are not climate experts,” Stenhouse told the Guardian.
Considering only 52 percent of AMS scientists believe humans are the main cause for some global warming, and considering the Guardian protested that only 13 percent of AMS meteorologists listed climate science as their primary area of expertise (as if having expertise in one area of atmospheric science precludes expertise in others), this leaves Stenhouse asserting that the term “not climate experts” applies to a majority of AMS members.
This might lead you to wonder why Stenhouse conducted the survey in the first place. Most likely, the psychologist lives in an echo chamber of like-minded global warming alarmists and expected the survey to reveal a broad alarmist consensus. Now that Stenhouse doesn’t like the survey results, he trashes AMS meteorologists’ ability to hold informed opinions on global warming, even as Stenhouse publishes the results of his study in an AMS-administered journal.
Stenhouse and the Guardian also attempted to isolate and give unique credibility to the small percentage of AMS meteorologists who self-identified their primary job focus as research. This, by definition, excludes almost all meteorologists who don’t work for government. Therefore, the survey results show that the majority of meteorologists whose jobs, salary and publishing activities are dependent on government funding and the perpetuation of the mythical global warming crisis say global warming is occurring and humans are the primary cause.
Wow, that’s quite a news flash. Meanwhile, for the vast majority of meteorologists who don’t fall within that group – those who aren’t beholden to government funding and who don’t have a funding dog in the global warming debate – only a minority say global warming is occurring and humans are the primary cause.
Stenhouse’s undermining of the credibility of AMS meteorologists should come as no surprise given that his job is to spread global warming alarm. The website for the George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication, under whose auspices he conducted the survey, states at the very top, “Climate change is the result of human actions and choices.”
Boy, that’s an objective point of view, especially for a psychologist who criticizes the informed opinion of atmospheric scientists.
Stenhouse’s website even goes a step farther, arguing that social activism is necessary to address human-caused climate change. “Limiting climate change – and protecting people and ecosystems to the degree possible from unavoidable changes in the climate – will require significant public engagement in the issue so that difficult decisions can be made by members of the public and policy makers,” Stenhouse’s website argues.
Is it any wonder that a psychologist/global warming activist would throw atmospheric scientists under the bus after he discovers they don’t share his global warming alarmism? Probably not. But what is really interesting is how the very AMS meteorologists whom Stenhouse is trashing are the ones whose professional dues support the journal that publishes Stenhouse’s paper. Granted, the survey results reported in the paper destroy the mythical global warming consensus, for which there is value in spreading the word.
Still, I suspect the AMS bureaucracy is going to get an earful from its member meteorologists on this one.
The Obamacare “disaster” is everywhere. Recently, a poll in Transom showed that 42% of Indpendents trust democrats in regards to healthcare, whereas 58% trust Republicans. Ben Domenech, senior fellow from The Heartland Institute, says the poll shows a major shift in attitudes; historically, democrats have been viewed in favor regarding health care.
In this podcast, Domenech warns of the coming “dominoes” of Obamacare implementation. In the coming year, we will likely see a spill-over of disruption into the employer-based insurance market. In fact, the American Enterprise Institute estimates we could see up to 50 million cancellations in the next year.
The first major domino of Obamacare was the website launch, healthcare.gov. Domenech says we’ve had two unexpected dominoes as well;
1. Epic policy cancellations
2. The non-functioning back end of heatlhcare.gov. In fact, the back end isn’t even fully built yet…
To illustrate the disastrous quality of Obamacare, we can turn to a poll by CBS who found that 84% of democrats said they wanted Obamacare changed or repealed. How astonishing!
Domenech predicts another domino, which he calls “doc shock”. He predicts that the large, quality-care hospitals like the Mayo Clinic, Cedars-Sinai, and M.D. Anderson will see an enormous amount of disruption (As well as the patients who need them). Most of the Obamacare exchange plans cut the top hospitals out of the networks because they’re too expensive to support. This means that families who need quality care for cancer or other such serious illnesses won’t be able to purchase health insurance via the exchange that covers what they need.
All-in-all, Obamacare will cause some major disruptions in the health care world; for doctors, hospitals, and patients alike.
Listen to the podcast in the player above.
Americans know the Internet, wireless, and broadband have revolutionized communications. In six years, nearly three quarters of Americans have become smart-phone or tablet users!
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden understand America’s biggest communications disconnect.
They know the core of America’s communications law was written in 1934 based on 19th century technology and regulatory assumptions and is in serious need of overhaul. They know America has 1G communications law in a 4G world.
Chairmen Upton and Walden are showing much needed leadership in thoughtfully and diligently beginning the important multi-year task of modernizing and simplifying communications law for the 21st century.
They appreciate the risks of relying on 1934 technology law that has no living authors and technology assumptions that predate the TV, computers, and cellular, let alone today’s world of the Internet, broadband, smart-phones and apps.
They rightfully have concerns that outdated law that incorrectly presumes monopolies and that is inherently hostile to competition and innovation could snag 21st century growth and innovation in the legal blight, rubble and underbrush of the distant past.
Why force companies of today to run an obstacle course of obsolete technology law in order to grow and innovate? Much of this law has outlived its usefulness and is a drag, distortion, and discouragement of further communications growth and innovation.
So what’s the need for change? What isn’t working for a 21st century marketplace?
Technologically, legacy law assumes inefficient, analog, electrical, continuous-voltage function technology, the opposite of today’s hyper-efficient, digital, and discontinuous-voltage technology of computers.
This profoundly wrong technology predicate means the core law presumes all communications technologies have monopoly economic characteristics requiring preemptive, technology-specific, or “silo-ed” regulation.
A converged Internet world burdened with myopic silo-regulation inherently suffers from huge and unnecessary inefficiencies and impediments to competition and innovation.
Another fundamentally incorrect technology assumption of legacy law is that “place” matters.
In the monopoly wire line-centric world of the distant past, “place” was literally how and where the government regulated most everything.
Today, both mobile-wireless and the Internet make “place” largely irrelevant. People are no longer tied to a wired place and companies can access the Internet virtually anywhere.
Simply, people expect to be able to communicate and access the Internet from anywhere, when legacy law still assumes they somehow should be tethered to a specific “place.”
Economically and competitively, much of legacy 1934 law still incorrectly presumes monopolies still exist.
Today there is no telephone monopoly when 75% of Americans have chosen a competitive alternative. And there’s no cable monopoly when 46 million American households subscribe to a cable competitor.
Incorrectly assuming monopolies exist, means legacy law also incorrectly presumes monopoly economics exist. That’s despite the important change in policy toward competition in the 1996 law update and the advent of digital competitive economics.
That profound inherent economic conflict essentially means American communications law is at war with itself.
While legacy law assumes Government network unbundling needs to be done via regulation, digital technology naturally unbundles itself into infinitely-interchangeable building-block technologies.
Tellingly, IP technology enables engineers, and often users, to easily and quickly configure, devices, transmission technologies, and networks before a regulator can even collect their thoughts.
Simply, obsolete law assumes competition is not possible without Government, whereas modern law would recognize that digital and Internet technologies, with their ever-increasing cost efficiencies, naturally enable robust facilities-based broadband competition.
Legally, the FCC increasingly is finding obsolete law dysfunctional in the 21st century. It loss of authority in Comcast v. FCC, and its upcoming likely partial loss of authority in Verizon v. FCC, increasingly leaves the FCC with square pegs to put in round holes.
To stay relevant long term, expect the FCC to work cooperatively with Congress in updating the Communications Act.
As for spectrum, since there is no legal requirement for modern management, accountability or accounting of Government spectrum use, it hoards over two-thirds of this critical natural resource.
This wasteful Government spectrum hoarding denies the private sector the spectrum it needs to keep pace with exploding demand for mobile bandwidth. This benign neglect is becoming a growth cap on the mobile revolution.
In sum, the need for modernizing America’s communications law is urgent and undeniable.
Legacy law is not working for the 21st century marketplace; increasingly it is working against it.
[Originally published on The Daily Caller]
On the same day that the Los Angeles City Council moved to regulate e-cigarettes, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Jeff Stier testified at a New York City Council Health Committee hearing on a similar measure being rushed through the New York City Council.
In his testimony, Stier encouraged council members to think twice about whether it is in fact “prudent” to extend New York City’s ban on smoking in public places to include e-cigarettes:
I would caution you that this is not the prudent thing to do. The prudent thing to do here is to help cigarette smokers quit. Rushing to judgment here could have serious, unintended consequences that you need to be aware of. It will stop people from quitting smoking. E-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking. The data does not show that. E-cigarettes are a gateway to quitting smoking.
E-cigarettes, which do not produce smoke, have been a boon to those who have tried to quit smoking but have failed.
“Nicotine,” Stier explains, “is addictive, but not particularly harmful, especially at the levels consumed by smokers or users of e-cigarettes, who are called ‘vapers’ for the vapor, rather than smoke, emitted by e-cigarettes.”
“Nicotine’s bad reputation should be attributed to its most common delivery device, cigarettes,” says Stier. “Nicotine itself is about as dangerous as the caffeine in soda. Along the same lines, while too much soda can cause weight gain, nobody seriously suggests that caffeine causes obesity. Similarly, e-cigarettes provide the nicotine and the habitual activity of smoking, without the danger of burning tobacco.”
“Mayor Bloomberg and his nanny state allies in New York City and Los Angeles have steam coming out of their ears about e-cigarettes. Here is a product created by private-sector innovation that is doing what many hundreds of millions of dollars of government spending, costly litigation, addictive excise taxes, warning labels and punitive regulation have been unable to do: help cigarette smokers quit happily.”
“Regulators understand that in order to maintain not only their huge budgets, but their basis for authority to control both private-sector businesses as well as personal decisions, they must demonize, delegitimize, and defeat e-cigarettes every step of the way,” Stier says.
“Some, without any basis in science, allege that e-cigarettes are a ‘gateway’ to smoking. But initial studies, as well as empirical evidence, show that e-cigarettes are a major gateway away from, not toward, smoking. For all the heated rhetoric, there’s little dispute in the scientific community: those who quit smoking cigarettes and switch to e-cigarettes reap immediate as well as long-term health benefits. And those improvements are dramatic.”
Stier concludes: “Regulations that treat e-cigarettes the same as their deadly predecessor will have the unintended consequence of keeping smokers smoking. Quitting nicotine use altogether is the best choice. But for those who chose not to, or find it too difficult, e-cigarettes are a potentially life-saving alternative.”
Outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, nicknamed “Nanny Bloomberg” by many for his use of government tools to influence what private citizens eat and drink, supports the New York proposal. Bloomberg’s administration imposed New York City’s ban on public smoking in 2003.
Like Los Angeles and New York, Chicago is considering banning the use of smokeless e-cigarettes anywhere in the city tobacco smoking is banned. The proposed ban is supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The sale of e-cigarettes to minors is already appropriately illegal under Illinois state law.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.
Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.
[Originally published on Pundicity]
Except, unable to resist a good spin, journalists glommed on to the sympathetic portrayal of the Leaf owner’s seeming inconsequential crime: He only stole a nickel’s worth of electricity. If you didn’t dig very far into the story, you’d see the portrayal of driver Kaveh Kamooneh victimized by a cold, unyielding police officer in the Atlanta suburb of Chamblee. Worse, the officer’s boss, Sergeant Ernesto Ford, said, “I’m not sure how much electricity he stole. He broke the law. He stole something that wasn’t his.”
You’d think from the account that Kamooneh was the electric vehicle-driving version of Jean Valjean, the peasant of the novel Les Miserables who received a five-year sentence for stealing bread for his starving sister’s family. Hey, he just needed a little more power so he could make it home after playing tennis at the school!
Except what appears to be closer to the truth is in the officer’s report of the incident. Rather than the image of an unwitting offender who pleaded for leniency for a minor crime, the cop’s account described a “difficult and argumentative” suspect who had to be pointed out by another tennis player as the owner of the illegally charging Leaf. Rather than apologize or show contrition, he blamed the officer for damaging his car door, which was disproved by video footage that captured Kamooneh driving up to the school. Finally, it was later learned that Kamooneh, due to previous problems, had been warned not to use the school’s tennis courts unless previously approved and was on the property without permission. So, the officer issued a warrant for his arrest – a far cry from the Valjean of EVs!
While that’s an amusing recount of what really happened, there’s a larger point to be made about the government-driven expansion of the electric vehicle market and the public charging systems that re-power them.
Without the extenuating circumstances excerpted above, a situation in which a citizen charges his electric car for 20 minutes (like Kamooneh did) does not warrant an arrest – just a warning. I think we can all agree about that.
But an unintended consequence of the deployment – almost entirely paid for by taxpayers – of electric charging stations has to do with the expectations by EV owners about them: That is, that they are entitled to free electricity. Are we creating a class of vehicle owners that will demand free juice?
The roots of this attitude can be found in the habits Americans have developed when visiting cafes where they buy coffee and camp out for a while with their laptops or tablet computers. Most of these shops – especially Starbucks – have a good number of outlets for customers to plug in to. Their use is not discouraged so long as a purchase is made – part of the cost of doing business. It’s just an hour or two (at most, usually) of electricity – probably less than 30-40 cents-worth of power. And the Internet connection is free too.
Speaking of the Web, there’s another expectation among Americans that’s been instilled: free content. Because media organizations started giving away their information online and have done so for so long, readers expected permanent, free access. It nearly destroyed the newspaper industry, which still struggles. Now most of them are trying to make readers pay for their information and it’s not working very well.
So it’s not much of a logical leap for electric auto owners to think they can just plug into any unused outlet they see and extract a few cents of free juice. After all, with the limited range of their batteries, and the length of time it takes to recharge them, EV owners can be expected to be on the lookout for an outlet every time they stop somewhere – even for very short periods. Every charging second counts to an EV owner who is not safe at home connected to his home charger.
The question is: Are we creating an expectancy class for free electricity, much like newspapers did with Internet delivery of their journalism? Kamooneh certainly thought he was entitled to tap the public school’s outlet while he whacked the tennis ball around, and justified his action by making the case that, hey, it was only a few cents worth!
Sure, there are some paying charging stations around. Most of them are rarely used – just ask bankrupt charging company Ecotality. They received $135 million from the Department of Energy and still couldn’t make their chargers generate revenue. Considering how many free, unattended outlets on both commercial and public properties there are, why would very many people pay for power?
And many of the chargers deployed by Ecotality and others were intentionally set up to not collect money for electricity used anyway. In a fledgling business in which entrepreneurs want to remove every obstacle to adoption, giving away the power was easy to do – especially since the expense for that could be easily foisted on taxpayers too.
The mentality that is sympathetic to Kamooneh is one that is endemic to the Left. It’s reflected in their approach to public policy on budgeting and spending. Whether it’s raising sales taxes a fraction of a cent; or mandating renewable energy that adds a few cents to the monthly electric bill; or increasing property taxes to pay for pet projects – they are all imposed with the idea that “it’s only a few cents” that are worth the expense to gain the intended outcomes they want to impose on you.
That mindset is what got us billions of dollars in subsidies for EVs in the first place. So it’s not beyond the realm of expectation to let people who try to use electricity in public garages and facilities to skate on paying for it. Hey, it’s just a few cents!
[Originally published on the National Legal and Policy Center]
Following incidents in Washington state, Mexico and Tennessee, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it would probe fires that occurred recently over a six week period in Tesla Motors’ electric Model S.
And this week, as revealed in a Detroit News story, the NHTSA looks like they’re serious – at least more serious than Germany’s transportation safety authority.
Why bring up Germany? Because as the regulatory heat bears down in the U.S. on Tesla and high-profile CEO Elon Musk, they have trotted out the Eastern Europe nation to demonstrate that they’ve been absolved of any culpability in the fires. The media that has mostly fawned over the electric automaker helpfully amplified the development, which certainly Musk welcomed. He even got a slight recovery in the company stock price as a result.
On Monday Tesla posted a press release that claimed the company received an inquiry from the German Federal Motor Transport Authority about the three fires. While the NHTSA seems intent on conducting a thorough investigation (I’ll get to those details momentarily), the Germans have already wrapped up their inquiry! The result: After Tesla provided “data and additional information” and the Germans “reviewed Tesla’s responses to their inquiries,” they determined that “no manufacturer-related defects could be found. Therefore, no further measures under the German Product Safety Act are deemed necessary.”
Tesla posted a copy of the letter from the German Transport Authority – which is addressed to what appears to be the company’s local legal counsel – with the translation into English in the press release. Four things beg for explanation:
- The letter is dated Nov. 27, which is only about three weeks after the most recent fire. Such a rapid conclusion to an inquiry would seem to be a new record for governmental efficiency looking into complicated, sensitive matters such as this.
- The letter references a phone call earlier in the day with the attorney. What was that discussion about, that the Transport Authority immediately issued its exculpatory letter the same day?
- Tesla blacked out the identity and contact information of the Transport Authority representative who wrote the letter. Why?
- It’s apparent the German authority depended only on limited information supplied to it by Tesla (“According to the documents, no manufacturer-related defects could be found”). So it’s hard to give their “investigation” much credibility.
Compare that to what the US NHTSA is asking for. As the Detroit Newsreported Tuesday, the safety agency has requested that Tesla turn over detailed records of all consumer complaints, field reports, warranty claims and property damage claims related to the fires.
“Describe in detail all possible consequences to the vehicle from an impact to the subject component that damages the battery,” wrote NHTSA vehicle integrity chief D. Scott Yon. “Describe in detail how these possible consequences were addressed in the design of the (Model S) and the limits of that design to prevent damage to the propulsion battery, stalling and fires.”
The newspaper reported that Yon also asked for the results of all Tesla’s tests, studies, and investigations to review the battery fires and the alleged defect, and information about whether Tesla made any changes to the Model S to address the possible defect of roadway debris sparking fires in the battery packs. He also wants detailed records of vehicles at the time of the incidents, owner contact information, and all communication to owners or regional officers that the company plans to issue in the next four months.
The letter was dated November 27, and Tesla has until January 14 to respond. That’s about 50 days just to gather the information – more than twice as long as it took the Germans to collect, analyze and conclude their “inquiry” that “cleared” Tesla.
Tesla has carefully controlled information that’s been released about the fires, including statements from the Model S owners. For the most part media reports have derived from these. It makes you wonder if there is some sort of non-disclosure agreement between the company and its vehicle owners.
For example, in early October – shortly after the first fire in Kent, Wash. – Musk posted an essay on Tesla’s blog that explained how the Model S “struck a large metal object” that caused damage.
“A curved section that fell off a semi-trailer was recovered from the roadway near where the accident occurred and, according to the road crew that was on the scene, appears to be the culprit,” Musk explained. “The geometry of the object caused a powerful lever action as it went under the car, punching upward and impaling the Model S with a peak force on the order of 25 tons. Only a force of this magnitude would be strong enough to punch a 3-inch diameter hole through the quarter inch armor plate protecting the base of the vehicle.”
Maybe so, but for all the physical explanations Musk has tried to present, no photos of the large metal object have been produced. Nor are there any pictures – that are reasonably findable on the Web, at least – of the tow hitch that was accused of causing the Model S fire in Tennessee. In such a hotly scrutinized case you’d think Musk would be parading the evidence if it existed, but he hasn’t.
In the same blog post Musk went to great lengths to argue a conventional gasoline powered car, in the same circumstances, could have experienced a far worse fate.
“A typical gasoline car only has a thin metal sheet protecting the underbody, leaving it vulnerable to destruction of the fuel supply lines or fuel tank, which causes a pool of gasoline to form and often burn the entire car to the ground,” he wrote.
But the crash data doesn’t support that. As Justin Hyde of Yahoo!’s automotive Web site Motoramic wrote in early November, “Even though it has fewer electric cars on the road than its competitors (such as the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf), none have reported similar fires after crashes. And while liquid-fueled vehicles suffer about 170,000 such fires every year, federal data show they take place in only 0.1 percent of all crashes.”
Tesla’s control freakishness is also reflected in how the Model S owners who were fire victims. Has any independent journalist interviewed them? Below Musk’s blog post was a portion of an email exchange between Tesla’s vice president for sales and service and Rob Carlson, the Washington driver. The VP’s missive came off as a carefully crafted (lawyered?) explanation of how the fire occurred and that the Model S’s safety protections “operated correctly.” In reply, Carlson supported Tesla’s response to the incident and said, “I am still a big fan of your car and look forward to getting back into one.” Then he revealed that he is an investor in Tesla – so certainly a critical response on his part would not have helped the value of the shares he owns!
While not exactly tanking, Musk likely felt some anxiety (and investor pressure) when the company’s stock dropped from almost $200 earlier this year to about $120 the last couple of weeks, after the fires. Publicly Musk has said Tesla’s share price was overpriced anyway (he’s right), but at the same time, what executive wants to see a rapid drop like he’s seen? Not a moment too soon, this week he discovered a way to turn the German “inquiry” of the Model S fires into a Wall Street bump – the stock is up to almost $139 this morning.
As for the American investigation, time – and a serious examination – will tell whether Tesla needs to revisit its Model S design or not. Before the fires NHTSA still gave it a top safety rating, which seemed more like it wasjoining the irrational exuberance party rather than an accurate evaluation. The signs point to the agency taking this a lot more seriously than the Germans did, but then again, this is the Obama administrationwe’re talking about, which has relentlessly protected and subsidized the electric vehicle industry.
[Originally posted on the National Legal and Policy Center]
The folks at my favorite Canadian network, Sun News, asked me to come on Adrienne Batra’s show today to talk about Greenpeace’s absurd “Christmas is Canceled” video. Batra thought my blog post on the Greenpeace video the other day was funny, which was nice to hear.
I must say, however, that the audio quality on my end is pretty poor (we didn’t have time to do a test). So, apologies.
Victor Davis Hanson is a well-known historian, commentator, and senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is collaborating with Pajamas Media on a project called Freedom Academy- an online resource that allows the average reader to delve into a brief survey of western civilization and values. Freedom Academy is an online interactive experience designed to differentiate itself from traditional classrooms and other online learning resources.
Why did Hanson choose this particular project? Over the years, he’s witnessed the degradation of the university system, and also the increasing historical illiteracy among us. Freedom Academy is an attempt to interest people in history, particularly western civilization, and defend it using historical facts. He wants to apply an abstract standard to history and culture.
Freedom Academy’s model is different from the traditional university or online lecture; it’s conversational, and they use a sophisticated animation technique to represent images behind the speaker as he is talking. All of Hanson’s efforts are in pursuit of re-developing our society’s ability to self-govern and to learn how to do that through learning history.
Listen to this interesting and fruitful podcast in the player above.
President Obama’s speech yesterday on inequality is being lauded as one of the best of his life, by people who paid attention to it. It’s a sad speech to read, in some sense, since it contains within it the promise of a presidency that we never saw come to fruition – the sort of policy effort that might have been launched to bipartisan success in the first year of his presidency, instead of his effort on Obamacare.
In context today, it comes after the point where most Americans have begun to tune him out, just as they do with nearly all second term presidencies. For the first time, Obama is now below 40 percent approval on every issue polled. As the Washington Post notes, even on issues where Obama looks to be in agreement with the American people, he’s now lagging terribly. Even Millennials are now down on Obama. Whether this is because Americans have lost faith in Obama personally, or just reached a threshold where they are tired of his presence on the screen, his call for an effort to combat inequality is falling on deaf ears.
And that’s just as well, since the president has things all backwards. Consider this passage of his remarks:
“A new study shows that disparities in education, mental health, obesity, absent fathers, isolation from church, isolation from community groups – these gaps are now as much about growing up rich or poor as they are about anything else. The gap in test scores between poor kids and wealthy kids is now nearly twice what it is between white kids and black kids. Kids with working-class parents are 10 times likelier than kids with middle- or upper-class parents to go through a time when their parents have no income. So the fact is this: The opportunity gap in America is now as much about class as it is about race, and that gap is growing.”
Does the president really not realize that he has the causation here completely backwards? He’s spoken eloquently in the past about the dangerous decline of fatherhood among the working class. It’s not that being poor means you’ll have absentee parents, it’s that absentee parents – particularly absentee breadwinners – means you end up poor. Where the middle class and upper class are better insulated from the consequences of the economic pain that comes from family breakups, the poor are not.
What does that mean? Well, it means you can’t afford to live in a place with a good school, and government policy prevents you from learning elsewhere; it means mom has to work two jobs and can’t take time off to take you to the dentist, which can’t be scheduled because you’re on Medicaid; it means you’re likelier to drop out and end up permanently ensconced on assistance programs because you never had the intact family pressure to stay in school and learn a skill.
The greatest elevator of people from lower class to middle class life is an intact household. Robert Rector has done plenty of digging on this, and the ramifications are staggering:
Income inequality is not primarily an economic problem. It is a problem of societal decline and the breakdown of family structures, accelerated by government but not solely by government. Barack Obama the family man could’ve made a difference in this regard, but decided not to. Instead, he embarked on an agenda which has been great for corporate America, Big Banks, and Wall Street, and generally terrible for wage growth and working families. Evan Soltas has a little piece here, frustrated that people are looking to get rich off Obamacare, wringing his hands about how “the expected increase in health-care profits has a whiff of rent about it.” What do you expect to happen when you make it illegal not to buy a corporation’s product which drives these profits? That’s who this presidency has been for all along. As Jeffrey Anderson notes:
The utter failure of Obama’s trickle-down-government approach is perhaps best captured by two contrasting stats. When he took office, we were a full year into a major recession. Economically, there was almost nowhere to go but up. And, indeed, that’s what the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which tracks the stock prices of 30 very large companies, has done: gone up. In January 2009, the Dow was at about 8,000. It’s now at about 16,000. It has essentially doubled on Obama’s watch.
Meanwhile, according to Census Bureau figures compiled by Sentier Research, the median American household income when the Obama household took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January 2009 was $55,972 (in 2013 dollars). Now, nearly five years later, the median American household income is just $52,529. That’s a decrease of $3,443 – or more than 6 percent. And that’s during a “recovery”! If Americans’ median income were now merely the same (in real dollars) as during the recession, that would mark Obama’s tenure as a miserable economic failure. Instead, Americans’ median income has noticeably dropped. It’s important to note that these median-income figures include government payments, such as unemployment.
Today, Obama is describing inequality as “the defining challenge of our time”. But his agenda for the second term has been about everything but that. His second term has seen payroll taxes go up for all working Americans and a prioritization of immigration reform, gun control, climate change and a host of environmental issues which – while they might appeal to his allies on Wall Street and in Hollywood – have nothing to do with income inequality. In many cases, these policies are actually negatives for the working class, driving up the costs of goods and negatively impacting wages and working hours.
If this was the defining challenge of our time, why did he spend so much time on policies unrelated to it? Why did he go down a policy path which led in the opposite direction? And why, even today, is he bypassing any possibility of brokering a bipartisan effort to combat “the defining challenge” and instead prioritizing a clumsy, tired, politically dead-end solution – minimum wage hikes – which without question has a negative effect on low-skill job creation while aiding his powerful union allies?
It’s unclear why someone as uniquely positioned as Obama to speak to the challenges of being raised by a single mom – of having to rely on the support of relatives and family, and of the importance of such supports in determining success – put this issue on the backburner. Maybe Obama never really focused on the issue of inequality of opportunity before because he really doesn’t have a solution to the harder challenge of what’s really going on in the working class. The vacuity of his answers to the problems of inequality is illustrated in this line: “Kids with working-class parents are 10 times likelier than kids with middle- or upper-class parents to go through a time when their parents have no income.” You mean to tell me families with lower incomes are more likely to have lower incomes than families with higher incomes? How insightful. Tell me more about why we need another industry bailout.
[Originally published on The Federalist]
The government spent about $634 million on creating healthcare.gov; what did they do with all that money? Well, they created a huge mess. They contracted five different people who apparently built their portions while “hiding in silos” and never communicating with each other and they built it on 10+ year-old software.
Facebook is 9 years old! The first Pirates of the Caribbean came out around the same time that the software for healthcare.gov came out… Come on! So, how did they spend so much money and still not deliver? Well, Motley offers up the “wallet rule” as explanation — if you went out on a Friday night with your own wallet, but went out on a Saturday night with someone else’s wallet, which night do you think you’d have more fun on?
The point is, when you spend other people’s money, you are less frugal, and you care less about the results. And that is what happened to healthcare.gov, and what government almost always does!
When asked if the website would ever catch up and work how it’s supposed to work- Motley is not optimistic. He predicts that if the British government can’t pull it off in 9 years and $15 billion, then neither can we.
Listen to the podcast in the player above.
Yes, it’s better than it was two months ago. But by their own measures and by the measures of other retail sites, the administration has failed to fix their bungled website and achieve the easier lift of success on the front end, let alone the as-yet-unconstructed back end of the federal exchange.
Every week brings another announcement of delays in the law – delays that are in some cases more than even Republicans had requested to begin with – from the White House. The small business exchange delay dropped right before Thanksgiving, the decision to kick the can on open enrollment until after the 2014 elections, and the latest decision to scrap the payment system for insurers and rely on manual submissions for at least the first month illustrates how extreme the back end problems are.
Healthcare.gov is even having trouble signing people up for Medicaid, which should be as easy as can be. And we’re just three weeks away from the December 23rd deadline to buy insurance, and the December 31st deadline to pay their premium, before people start getting hit by the mandate penalty.
Taking the president’s public relations campaign rollout claiming “everything’s fixed!” at face value, Democrats are now reportedly demanding that someone be held accountable for the mismanaged launch of Obamacare.
White House officials, asserting that the HealthCare.gov website is largely fixed, are under mounting pressure from Democrats and close allies to hold senior-level people accountable for the botched rollout of President Obama’s signature domestic achievement and to determine who should be fired. For weeks, the president and his aides have said they are not interested in conducting a witch hunt in the middle of the effort to rescue the website. But in the West Wing, the desire for an explanation about how an administration that prides itself on competence bungled so badly remains an urgent mission… Close aides said that Mr. Obama was unlikely to give in to the demands for a public flogging, but White House officials also said that Mr. Obama had demonstrated a calculated willingness to push people out.
So they claim. To this point, there’s every indication that the president is too soft to fire anyone who was actually responsible for this. Kathleen Sebelius should feel safe as ever.
But if you set aside the talking points and look at the real, enduring problems of the federal exchange, the real question Democrats should be asking isn’t who should be pushed out – it’s who should be brought in.[S]uccessful businesses have a good management structure. People in charge are familiar with the problems and able to focus effort, and operational employees are empowered to identify and solve problems. The Obama Administration failed in this last task. The team lacked a “CEO” who could focus the efforts, and line employees were stifled or ignored. As a result, deadlines were missed, minority opinions were ignored, and possible problems were not considered. The universal opposition of Republicans to the ACA made the administration’s task more difficult, but it does not excuse the failure. Fixing the administration’s implementation efforts will require more than just fixing the website. It will mean changing the entire organization of the government’s ACA efforts. Undoubtedly, some people need to leave or move on to other positions. More important is who needs to come on board, and that’s people with management skills and experience in startup businesses. There is no successful organization without good senior leadership.
Going forward, this kind of CEO-style leadership is essential for fixing Obamacare. Back up a moment: one of the lessons about the failure of Obamacare’s launch is that it’s an indication of how the impression of Obama himself was out of sync with his actual approach to leadership. Obama delegates, and he trusts his people. While he ran as a cool under pressure technocrat, the reality is that he’s an ambitious ideologue and a political animal. He left the framing of his namesake legislation to Hill veterans, quickly backing off the promises he’d made while running for the presidency in 2008. The implementation was delegated, too – to a group of self-styled elite bureaucrats at HHS and CMS who, lacking experience in anything approaching a project of this size, turned out to be terrible project managers.So What’s The Answer?
We’re only beginning to deal with the ramifications of this, politically. But when it comes to the implementation side, there’s one simple step Obama could take to rescue his signature project. It’d be bold. It’d be out of the box. It’d be the sort of thing that the Hope and Change era Obama might’ve done, even if today’s Obama would never think of it.
What Obama needs right now more than ever is a turnaround artist. Ideally, he would find someone with executive experience and bipartisan bona fides, someone experienced in the health policy space, who understands how these complicated exchanges are supposed to work. He needs someone with serious management experience and corporate consulting acumen, who’s dealt with a prominent national project while in the public eye, who’s completed a significant Olympic-sized undertaking under the pressure of a hard timeline. He needs someone with no future ambitions or plans to run for office again, a true non-ideological technocrat, someone who won’t manipulate a bureaucratic undertaking toward personal or political ends, but is just interested in solutions, in making things work.
It might even help if this person was a bit cutthroat, a tad robotic, with that special type of smiling harshness – someone who can slash the deadwood from a project, prioritize what needs doing and who can do it, and who won’t hesitate for one second to fire people who deserve it. If you’re talking about the perfect candidate, it’d be someone who actuallyliked firing people, who relishes it, and didn’t really give a damn who didn’t like him for it.
Thankfully, as Ann Althouse has noted, there is exactly one person in America who has all these qualities. And he’s got time on his hands.
All Barack Obama has to do is pick up the phone and say the magic words: “Help me, Mitt Romney. You’re my only hope.”
[Originally published in The Federalist]
A new study shows that academic qualifications for prospective teachers are on the rise. Dan Goldhaber- director of the Center for Education Data & Research and a professor at the University of Washington- joins The Heartland Institute to discuss the aforementioned study.
In the past, teachers tended to be in the bottom half of the SAT distribution, while the top half chose other occupations. Recently, around 2009, there was a slight shift where more people in the upper half of the distribution were choosing to pursue careers in teaching. This is obviously a good thing, and Goldhaber discusses what the implications could mean.
Listen to the podcast in the player above.
The American people don’t trust the government. This could be a great thing for America. It could also be a dangerous opportunity for an enduring and desperate factionalism, of the kind largely unfamiliar to the American experience — and lead to more, and more dangerous, government in the future. But I don’t think it will.
There are all sorts of polls you can cite about the decline in trust in government, but after the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, this trendline isn’t going up. And Ezra Klein is worried about it. He runs through a litany of recent failures of federal government – considering that Millennials alone have witnessed 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Katrina, the financial crisis, the failed stimulus, and now Obamacare, young voters have every reason to be cynical. But Klein notes that this may not stop voters from trusting government to do more, and implement more big programs, in the future:[B]ecause voters don’t entrust tasks to “the government.” They entrust them to particular administrations, and, righty or wrongly, they tend to extend their faith in the president to the entire federal government. Obamacare’s failures aren’t likely to undermine confidence in Chris Christie or Hillary Clinton’s ability to manage the machinery of the federal government. They might perversely, enhance it, as a country that’s purposefully looking for more effective management is likely to be more desperate to believe they’ve found it. But the fact that the public will trust the government to do big things again doesn’t mean they should.
Government’s inability to get even basic things right may become just another attribute of partisan measures – Democrats trusting Democrats, Republicans trusting Republicans – but a system with a healthy level of distrust for both parties to manage “good government” is a more honest one, one which understands that markets and individuals do best when government doesn’t try to micromanage them. We should welcome an America with more skepticism that our political leaders know best, or know anything at all. They certainly haven’t proven otherwise recently.
If the American people see the lesson of the failures of government in foreign and domestic policy as a sign that the federal government should focus more on the handful of things it can do and set aside the things it keeps screwing up, most conservatives and libertarians would rejoice. There is a danger here, though, of swinging the pendulum back in the other direction. Nick Gillespie outlined this well in a piece earlier this summer, citing this 2010 paper on “Regulation and Distrust,” written by Philippe Aghion, Yann Algan, Pierre Cahuc, and Andrei Shleifer. Gillespie writes:
Drawing on World Values Survey data from the past several decades for over 50 countries, the authors help explain what they call “one of the central puzzles in research on political beliefs: Why do people in countries with bad governments want more government intervention?” The authors make a distinction between “high-trust” and “low-trust” countries. In the former, most people have positive feelings about business and government and the general level of regulation is relatively low. In “low-trust countries,” the opposite is true and citizens “support government regulation, fully recognizing that such regulation leads to corruption.” As an example, they point to differing attitudes toward government-mandated wages in former socialist countries that transitioned to market economies. “Approximately 92 percent of Russians and 82 percent of East Germans favor wage control,” they write, naming two low-trust populations. In Scandinavia, Great Britain, and North American countries, where there are higher levels of trust in the public and private sectors, less than half the population does. As a final kicker, Aghion et al. suggest that increased regulation sows yet more distrust, which in turn engenders more regulation.
This type of experience is echoed by Jorge Castañeda in his book, Mañana Forever. According to Castañeda, to understand Mexicans and their history you have to understand that Mexicans have nothing between the masses and the government, with almost nothing like the “little platoons” of Edmund Burke, nor the network of associations that Tocqueville saw as key to America’s thriving democratic-republic. Castañeda writes:
In the United States, there are approximately 2 million civil society organizations, or one for every 150 inhabitants; in Chile there are 35,000, or one for every 428 Chileans; in Mexico there are only 8,500, or one for every 12,000, according to Mexican public intellectual Federico Reyes Heroles. Eighty-five percent of all Americans belong to five or more organizations; in Mexico 85% belong to no organization and, according to Reyes Heroles, the largest type, by far, is religious. In the United States, one out of every ten jobs is located in the so-called third sector (or civil society); in Mexico the equivalent figure is one out of every 210 jobs. In polls taken in 2001, 2003, and 2005 on political culture in Mexico, a constant 82% of those surveyed stated they had never worked formally or informally with others to address their community’s problems. In another series of polls already quoted concerning Mexican and world values, a robust and inverse correlation was detected between Mexicans’ happiness (which grew remarkably between 1990 and 2003) and their belonging to any type of organizations. In the words of the survey in question, “the more a Mexican joins an organization or belongs to any type of association, the lower the probability of his or her feeling happy.… Studies regarding values have constantly concluded that Mexican society is extremely difficult to organize.”
In place of lateral social bonds, Castañeda maintains Mexicans form bonds upward and downward, creating a patronage society where unhealthy levels of corruption, cartels, and tribal loyalties are a substitute for freedom of association and true community. This creates a cycle of desperation, where people put their faith in charismatic leaders who promise to solve their problems, only to have their hopes dashed. Castañeda writes:[I]t should not be altogether surprising that today, after nearly five hundred years of a strong state, civil society should be weak. From this perspective, Mexicans are disorganized, except during exceptional circumstances (rescuing victims after an earthquake, for instance), because, tautologically, they are not organized, and they are not organized because a perennial, all-powerful, overwhelming state has crowded them out. This Hobbesian behemoth (unmistakable in colonial times, at least after the Bourbon Reforms of the late eighteenth century) has simply never allowed civil society to flourish, and absent an organized civil society, people fend for themselves. When they do that for centuries, they get used to it, and persist in their customs indefinitely, until something occurs that makes them change their mind. It hasn’t in Mexico, and so the ways of the past continue. As we shall see further on, those ways — corruption, cronyism, disregard for the laws — persist and date back to those times. Today, according to polls, nine out of every ten Mexicans believe that “if one does not take care of oneself, people will take advantage of you.” Some sought solutions by joining the state; others by leaving the country; still others, by retrenching into the past and the ways of that past.
So could the United States be on a path to becoming, like Mexico, a state where a hollowed out civil society leaves people with nowhere else to turn than the government they don’t trust? I just don’t think that’s going to happen. It didn’t happen after the Bay of Pigs, the JFK assassination, the quagmire of Vietnam, and Watergate. It won’t happen now. (The Millennials may turn out worse than the Boomers because of it, but that’s a different matter – and no one generation is all bad).
I’m more optimistic in part because America has bucked the trend of other nations and retained its inherent generosity, with more than 70% of charitable giving offered by individuals and families, and a healthier appreciation of civic involvement and volunteerism. The Mexican historical experience is a very different one from ours, and the character of the American people still has some strength in it yet. Even as the nature of our associations have changed, and the level of trust in government, institutions, and others has decreased, there’s still a large segment of the American people who have faith in each other and work to help each other. Rather than throwing up their hands, people should not view the failure or success of government, particularly presidential level policies, as the be all and end all of the nation’s future. Far from it.
There is a path for the country out of the wreck of distrust and disaster we’ve seen at the federal level over the past decade, if the American people choose to take it. The truth is staring them in the face. If the American people reject the false promise of one more politician promising a governmental answer to their problems – “trust me, this time, I’m not like the other guys” – we could see a resurgence of bottom-up trust. This has happened before in American history (the 1830s, for instance): when the failure of large institutions leaves power decentralized, people can give in to hopelessness… or they can realize the sun will still rise the next morning, and that they are better off living as individuals and families, trusting their neighbors rather than trusting in factional political tribes or far off powers which will always fail to live up to their promises.
The failure of government to live up to its promise is an opportunity for honesty and clarity and for the American people to reexamine the role of the citizen and the state – not a moment for despair. There’s more to life, and more to a country, than government.
[Originally published on The Federalist]
Two and a half years ago Eric Holder and the U.S. Justice Department applied dubious legal logic to shut down one of America’s quintessential pastimes – poker games among consenting adults. The Justice Department not only put a freeze on one of America’s fastest-growing forms of entertainment, it made the Land of the Free one of the few democratic nations in the world to ban consenting adults from playing online poker. Is it time for over-intrusive government to allow consenting adults in a free country to play online poker again?A Poker Renaissance
From 2003 through 2010, poker caught America’s fancy in a way not seen since Doc Holiday dominated the poker tables at the Alhambra and Oriental saloons in Tombstone, Arizona, infuriating the outlaw Cowboys gang by relieving them of much of their ill-gotten fortune. In 2003, a full-time accountant who avidly played small-stakes online poker turned, through a remarkable string of events, a $40 entry in an online poker tournament into the world championship at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas. Chris Moneymaker’s Cinderella championship run coincided with ESPN for the first time devoting major resources to producing several hour-long episodes chronicling that year’s WSOP. This was the poker equivalent of Rocky Balboa beating a stadium full of 838 Apollo Creeds – except this was a true story and the world’s premier sports network captured the story from start to finish.
Buoyed by the “Moneymaker Effect” and a dramatic increase in the popularity of online poker, 2,576 people entered the 2004 WSOP Main Event, fully triple the number of players who entered in 2003. Now, rather than a tournament numerically dominated by professional poker players and extremely wealthy businessmen, the tournament had a large contingent of amateur poker players and small-stakes pros living out a dream and telling themselves that if Chris Moneymaker could take down all those Apollo Creeds, so could they. In a sequel every bit as fascinating as the 2003 WSOP (and every bit as inspirational as the Rocky II sequel), full-time tax lawyer Greg Raymer gave amateur poker players a second consecutive victory over the legendary pros. Raymer’s run to the title gave the cameras everything a viewing audience could ask for, as the large, good-natured man appealed to every-day viewers while simultaneously intimidating even seasoned poker pros with his size, imposing stare, and unnerving lizard-eye sunglasses.
In 2005, the number of entrants jumped again, to 5,619. Again, a relatively unknown poker player won the championship in memorable fashion. With a large, rowdy cheering section reminiscent of a World Cup soccer match, telegenic Australian Joe Hachem seized his dream and won the title. Prior to 2005, poker spectators at the World Series of Poker could easily be mistaken for the nearly silent spectators at a golf tournament. In 2005, Hachem’s large contingent of boisterous friends and family waved Australian flags and chanted, “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, oi, oi!”
In 2006, a record 8,773 people entered the WSOP. Hollywood talent agent Jamie Gold captured the title and a staggering $12 million payday. Between 2007 and 2010, at least 6,300 people entered each year. Many of the entrants won their seats by entering small-stakes online tournaments like Moneymaker. Others fronted their own entrance fees, but honed their skills and built up their WSOP bankrolls on the online poker sites.
ESPN devoted more and more air time to the WSOP each year. Lesser tournaments and even simple poker cash games began popping up on the Game Show Network, NBC, and seemingly every channel in between. Top poker players began signing lucrative endorsement deals similar to NFL and NBA stars. Poker was hip, poker was lucrative, and poker was mainstream.
Just as importantly, poker was egalitarian. Everyday people mired in dead-end jobs and with little excitement in their lives could dream of becoming the next Chris Moneymaker or Greg Raymer. Jerry Yang, a religious, soft-spoken social worker who professional poker shark Scotty Nguyen described as the nicest guy you can ever meet, won the Main Event in 2007. In 2008 through 2010, a series of young 20-somethings seemingly fresh out of college took home the title.
In the absence of extraordinary God-given skills refined by a lifetime of practice, nobody can realistically dream of homering off David Price in the seventh game of the World Series, tackling Adrien Peterson in the open field to clinch a Super Bowl victory, schooling LeBron James in the NBA Finals, or taking down Tiger Woods at the Masters. But a skilled amateur poker player – if he or she is playing at the absolute top of his or her game and catching a few breaks along the way – can plausibly dream of entering a small-stakes online poker tournament culminating with sticking it to cocky, irascible poker legend Phil Hellmuth while capturing fame and fortune at the World Series of Poker.Feds Shut It Down
That all changed on April 15, 2011 – Tax Day, by design or not – when Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice shocked the poker world by shutting down poker websites, freezing poker accounts, and filing major criminal charges against operators of online poker sites and the financial companies that processed poker deposits and cash payouts. The Justice Department justified its actions by claiming the companies violated the Wire Act of 1961, a mafia-focused statute that outlaws the use of wire communications to accept sports wagers or process payments relating to sports bets.
By December 2011 the Justice Department, chastened by court rulings indicating it had overzealously applied the Wire Act, indicated it was backing off on its targeting of poker sites. Nevertheless, the damage was already done. The online poker sites had already shut down, and nobody was eager to start back up again without express assurance that the Justice Department wouldn’t change its mind again and resume prosecutions.
The federal government recently told the individual states it would not interfere with state-specific laws authorizing and regulating online poker. However, only a few states have begun to seriously consider this option. Those that do will have differing regulations and standards, meaning gaming companies will have to navigate a patchwork of often contradictory legal requirements. Moreover, each state that authorizes online poker must ensure that nobody can access that state’s poker sites from outside the state. For all intents and purposes, online poker remains dead thanks to the U.S. Justice Department, even though few seriously argue that it is illegal.The best and perhaps only way for government to reliably assure the online poker community that it can operate without fear of a new round of overzealous criminal prosecutions is for Congress to formally affirm that online poker remains legal.
The best and perhaps only way for government to reliably assure the online poker community that it can operate without fear of a new round of overzealous criminal prosecutions is for Congress to formally affirm that online poker remains legal. But not many Congressmen appear eager to stir a potential hornet’s nest of anti-gaming sentiment when the political rewards appear minimal. Nevertheless, is it time to restore legality to this quintessential American game?Ingrained in the American Spirit
History records the first poker games springing up in New Orleans during the 1820s. Large-wheeled riverboats delivered the game and its first professional players up and down the Mississippi River in America’s antebellum period. Poker became synonymous with Mississippi River folklore, and as the frontier stretched west, so did poker.
Poker provided river travelers with entertainment to relieve the boredom of long days confined on a boat deck. Poker offered a sanity-preserving diversion for Union and Confederate soldiers experiencing the long, drawn-out misery of fighting the Civil War. Poker gave gold prospectors and fur trappers an entertainment commodity thousands of miles from the bustling cities of the East. Poker became the preferred form of competition among outlaws and gunslingers in the Wild West, allowing them to blow off steam in a manner that did not involve bullets. Poker sustained thousands of Navy servicemen devoting years of service patrolling the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans during World War II. Poker, as much as baseball, steam boats, covered wagons, and manifest destiny, is part of the very fabric of America.The Strange Politics of Poker
Strange bedfellows have joined forces to vigorously oppose legal online poker. Two political factions that are usually in sharp disagreement on almost every political issue form the strongest opposition to online poker.
One faction consists of so-called nanny state liberals who believe government must step in to protect ourselves from our own personal choices and our own unregulated activities. These are the folks who often support laws against Big Gulps, laws requiring kids to obtain a permit to set up a lemonade stand or sell Girl Scout cookies, and laws requiring McDonald’s to serve apple wedges rather than French fries as the default side item in a Happy Meal. These folks believe some people will recklessly lose their rent money playing online poker, so therefore nobody should have the opportunity to play.
The other faction consists of social conservatives who believe playing poker is inherently immoral or sinful and therefore government must step in to preserve public morality. These are the folks who usually raise the most strenuous objections to the liberal nanny state, but find common ground with such liberals on this particular issue.
The result of this strange political coalition is legalized poker is neither a Democratic nor Republican issue. Support for legal poker spans the bipartisan middle ground between the usually bifurcated poker opponents.Misguided Opposition
The irony is the two factions opposing poker reveal a certain degree of self-contradiction.
For liberals concerned about people being victimized by their own choices, poker offers opportunities that for many people do not exist anywhere else. People without advanced education or highly developed job skills can master a game that allows them to pluck money from wealthy executives who play poker merely for ego and fun. The house commission for online poker tournaments is typically merely 10 percent, with 90 percent of the money returning to the players. This is a far more generous return than legally sanctioned lotteries, which are disproportionately played by low-income Americans, and a more generous return than brick-and-mortar casinos that typically return only about 75 percent of players’ entry fees.There is no Bible verse that condemns gambling, though gambling has occurred throughout human history.
Social conservatives concerned about the morality issue should take several points into consideration.
There is no Bible verse that condemns gambling, though gambling has occurred throughout human history. Gambling is more akin to drinking wine or engaging in other activities that are not immoral in themselves but can be problematic if a person does not behave ethically or exercise self-control. Indeed, some religious customs such as spinning the Hanukkah dreidel involve gambling.
For certain people, gambling can be an activity associated with self-destructive or immoral activity, but for many other people it is not. For 2012 Main Even champion Greg Merson, his love of poker and his need to stay sober in order to play well gave him the strength and inspiration to kick a serious drug habit. If you attend any WSOP tournaments you will observe that 99 percent of the players are sober, well-rested, and drinking nothing stronger than bottled water throughout the competition. Neither smoking, nor profanity, nor hostile behavior is allowed. The WSOP taking place in the inescapably wild atmosphere of the Las Vegas Strip has the feel of a convention of designated drivers taking place in Rio de Janeiro during Mardi Gras.
Also, poker has more in common with contests of skill than with gambling. In true gambling, there is little skill involved in choosing a particular wager and participants have little or no control over the outcome of the contest. Playing the lottery or slot machines is gambling. If you buy a lottery ticket, you theoretically have no better or worse chance of winning than anybody else who buys a ticket. The only person or entity with an advantage in the lottery is government, which unavoidably turns a profit on every lottery it promotes, administers, and thereafter taxes. In poker, by contrast, skill is a far greater factor than luck. Sure, the luck of the draw will impact the results in any given tournament, but in the longer term the best players are regular winners and the unskilled players are regular losers.
A good analogy is looking at the day-by-day results of a full baseball season. Even the best teams will lose plenty of games and have significant losing streaks. Even the worst teams will occasionally beat the best teams and string together several wins in a row. By the end of the season, however, the luck largely evens out and skill is rewarded in the standings. The best teams make the playoffs and the worst teams try to improve for next year.
There is little logic to opposing poker on morality grounds while allowing individuals the freedom to drink heavily, smoke, eat unhealthy foods, climb Mt. McKinley, or play golf with lightning nearby. Each of these activities is more dangerous or self-destructive than consenting adults deciding to spend a little of their hard-earned money playing in an online poker game. Yet each of these other activities is rightfully legal and few poker opponents argue these other activities should be against the law.
This brings us back to empowering the Big Government nanny state that most social conservatives oppose. Doesn’t government have more important things to do than tell people what card games they can play?Overlooked Virtue
For those who still believe poker is inherently immoral, the personal stories of virtue among poker players are too many for this column. However, here are a quick few:
2007 WSOP champion Jerry Yang, a childhood refugee from war-torn Laos, donated more than $2 million of his winnings to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and other charities. Yang’s unabashed Christian faith shone throughout the WSOP, as he frequently talked about his Lord and gave thanks for his tournament run.
Legendary poker pro Barry Greenstein is known as the Robin Hood of poker, donating all his tournament winnings to charity. Those donations have totaled millions of dollars.
Hedge fund manager David Einhorn gave all of his $4.3 million in winnings at the 2012 WSOP to the One Drop charity, which provides clean drinking water to people in Third World nations.
Without poker, none of this charity takes place.Time to Affirm the Freedom to Play Online Poker
In a free society, government should be very careful about taking away people’s freedoms. While some justifications and necessities will exist, it is hard to make a compelling, internally consistent case for the Land of the Free taking away the right of consenting adults to play online poker. With its de facto ban on online poker, America is an outlier among the world’s democratic nations that largely respect and protect such a right. Congress can and should affirm that online poker remains legal, and in the process demonstrate that America remains the Land of the Free.
[Originally published on The Federalist]