We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Fred or Ron?

Fred Thompson or Ron Paul? Like Perry and some others, I would rather see a big government Democrat elected than a big government Republican. At least that would bring back some opposition. Republicans in Congress have a much better record of reining in the Democrats’ presidents than their own. And as I explain later, I think that one of these two is the only Republican candidate capable of winning the national election.

Ron Paul answering the What programs? question by naming three cabinet level departments … Wow. Good answer. If there was no rest-of-the-world, he would possibly have my vote.

“Possibly?!” Yes. Possibly. Why? Because good intentions are not enough. Many people have the right ideas. Even if elected, he needs to maneuver his ideas through both the Washington players and the great ambivalent middle of the electorate. He needs to explain and convince massive numbers of mainstream people that what he will bring is better for them personally. How many think Ron Paul is up to that job? I don’t.

Does any small government candidate have a chance both to be elected and a chance of accomplishing a rollback if elected? → Continue reading: Fred or Ron?

King Canute and health care, part 2

Who’d’a thought we’d see two shout-outs to King Canute in as many days in the health care arena? Yet there he is, popping up again in Business Week in the service of opposing more government intervention in health care.

According to legend, King Canute of Denmark facetiously tried to stop the rising tide by simply raising his hand and commanding the waters to roll back. The tide, of course, kept rising. Yet policymakers throughout history have followed Canute’s lead. From Hillary Clinton and John Edwards to Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, politicians across the spectrum have tried or vowed to solve America’s health-care woes by enacting an individual mandate – a law requiring every adult to purchase health insurance. Despite its bipartisan support, the individual mandate is bad policy, a vain attempt to command a better result while doing nothing to achieve it.

An excellent discussion of the folly of individual mandates follows. Of some interest is the way the estimate of the size of the problem meshes with that made below.

According to an Urban Institute study released in 2003, uncompensated care for the uninsured constitutes less than 3% of all health expenditures. Even if the individual mandate works exactly as planned, that’s the effective upper boundary on the mandate’s impact.

If you do the math, I think you will find that Mark Steyn’s number of the poor uninsured comes out to about 3% of the population.

More importantly, Whitman points out the major flaws in the individual mandate proposal – it would not work (people will still refuse to buy health insurance), and it will make the problem worse by driving costs even higher.

Even now, every state has a list of benefits that any health-insurance policy must cover – from contraception to psychotherapy to chiropractic to hair transplants. All states together have created nearly 1,900 mandated benefits. Of course, more generous benefits make insurance more expensive. A 2007 study estimates existing mandates boost premiums by more than 20%.

If interest groups have found it worthwhile to lobby 50 state legislatures for laws affecting only voluntarily purchased insurance policies, they will surely redouble their efforts to affect the contents of a federally mandated insurance plan. Consequently, even more people will find themselves unable to afford insurance. Others will buy insurance, but only via public subsidies. Isn’t that just what the doctor didn’t order?

His prescription for incremental policy reform strikes me as being pretty sound, as the fundamental shift that needs to be made in health care insurance is away from first dollar coverage, low deductibles and copays, etc. and toward catastrophic insurance. First dollar coverage has proven to distort if not destroy any semblance of financial responsibility on both sides of the health care transaction, and is one of the primary drivers of high costs. Catastrophic coverage fulfils the true function of insurance – protection against risks you can not afford – without creating the disastrously misaligned incentives that our current system has.

Richard Miniter stops short

He could have taken his article to this conclusion but perhaps he thought the baggage that would come with it would distract from his intended points. In order for my ‘friendly amendment’ to make sense, it is important to understand what “multiculturalism” really means. Multiculturalism is not a recent ideology. Only the name is new. Most of you are far more familiar with it as “separate but equal”. Wikipedia says:

Multiculturalism is an ideology advocating that society should consist of, or at least allow and include, distinct cultural and religious groups, with equal status.

Separate but equal … segregationism. Multiculturalism as an ideology is diametrically opposed to integration and assimilation. Some have noted a difference in the formation of terrorists in America as compared with Europe but without necessarily attributing it to America’s still comparatively high cultural emphasis and expectation of newcomers to assimilate.

The absence of significant terrorist attacks or even advanced terrorist plots in the United States since Sept. 11 is good news that cannot entirely be explained by increased intelligence or heightened security. It suggests America’s Muslim population may be less susceptible than Europe’s Muslim population, if not entirely immune, to jihadist ideology. In fact, countervailing voices may exist within the American Muslim community.

So what does this have to do with Richard Miniter? → Continue reading: Richard Miniter stops short

9/11 was blowback

9/11 was blowback. It was blowback for the USA making movies featuring nudity. It was blowback for rock and roll and Jack Daniels and hog-roasts and pornography and Marilyn Monroe and Baywatch. It was blowback for not being part of a caliphate. Mohammed Atta was an architect(!) and what really wound him up was that in his native Cairo the Hilton Hotel and the Bank of America towered over the medieval mosques. Oh Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine always gets dragged up as a “legitimate” grievance but that’s pure window dressing. Why has no Arab state done a bloody thing to aid the Palestinians? And by the way, my definition of “aid” does not include bunging $25000 to the family of a “martyr” who has blown up in a Pizza Hut. The PA has basically been bank-rolled by the EU and oddly enough not in fact by their fellow Arabs and brothers in Islam of the Arab League. Why do you think the oil sheiks didn’t pony up the dough?

– Regular commenter Nick M in this thread.

Bill Moyers embraces libertarianism

He wrapped up his Friday broadcast with carefully bracketed video of young Republicans in Washington. His softly presented outrage leads to the inevitable conclusion that he is embracing the libertarian principle of individual, personal action. The only other possible interpretation being that he is a sanctimonious hypocrite.

Ending his July 27 broadcast of Bill Moyers Journal, he makes his opinion very clear that unless someone has committed to personally experience the greatest possible cost of what they are advocating, their opinion is without standing and worthy only of ridicule and moral reprobation. His quiet anger is directed at people who advocate actions for which others will bear the burden. I for one consider this to be a marked improvement in Moyer’s politics. Prior to this he has always identified strongly with activists who want to force the rest of society to bear the burden for their projects. I look forward eagerly to seeing him apply his new standard to every guest that he invites onto his program. It will be refreshing to only hear opinions from people who have first made a total personal sacrifice to a cause, before they may express belief in the justice of that cause. Because, Bill’s right. If you have not given yourself totally to some great endeavor first, ‘volunteering’ others is the very essence of hypocrisy.

transcript excerpt: → Continue reading: Bill Moyers embraces libertarianism

Senator Webb announces imminent victory in Iraq

But that wasn’t quite his intention. He was attempting to declare a failure but accidentally got his facts right. On Sunday’s Meet the Press with Tim Russert, a debate waged between Senators Jim Webb and Lindsay Graham resulted in the following statement by Senator Webb.

And with respect to al-Qaeda, quite frankly, al-Qaeda didn’t come to Iraq to try to destroy a democracy. That’s a very, very flimsy democracy there. We all recognize that. Al-Qaeda came to Iraq because the United States was in Iraq, and the people in al-Anbar are not aligning themselves with the United States. It’s “The enemy of the enemy is my friend.” This hasn’t been the Iraqi military, the national military that’s been taking out al-Qaeda. It’s been a redneck justice. It’s been these sectarian groups out there who don’t like al-Qaeda. And if we leave, they still will not like al-Qaeda.

His statement is right on so many points, it’s more than a little heartening.

First, democracy or no, Al-Qaeda is in Iraq to attack the United States. Where would the Senator rather rather have them attack us? Second, he is correct that this is a case of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” But in terms of Al-Qaeda, that is called aligning themselves with the United States. We share a common enemy and are fighting it together. That is all “ally” means. What is he expecting? Conversions? Third, al-Anbar is a Sunni province. al-Qaeda is a Sunni organization. Sunnis have been their support base. And now a major part of that support base is turning against al-Qaeda. The biggest sign of success is when we no longer need to count on the military solutions but rather, the support base itself turns against the terrorists. Yet he is bemoaning the absence of a military component to this accomplishment. Senator Webb has done us the favor of highlighting some outstanding signs of imminent success although it was rather ambitious of him to spin them the way he did. It is also difficult to reconcile his belief that this revolt by the support base is “redneck justice” with the following statement taken from his own website.

Looking at these [Viet Nam] examples, you come to a conclusion about the use of force in this situation. In my opinion, we need to articulate clearly that we do not have a quarrel with the Muslim world. But the part of the Muslim world that considers itself at war with us must be on notice. Who are these people? They are the ones conducting terrorist activities and those training and providing logistical support to them. All those people, in my opinion, should be fair game. Over time, we should see the people who are conducting this international campaign of terrorism being cut away from their support base. Many good people were cut away from the support base of the South Vietnamese government. I think there’s a direct parallel.

Senator Webb is delivering good news suggesting that resistance to terrorism may soon be strong enough for us to reduce support levels. But he sounds greatly disappointed that this resistance is at the grass roots, and not a military accomplishment. Why do I suspect that if it was a military accomplishment, he would be lamenting the absence of grass roots support?

A fence post

This thread features TimC comparing unenforced laws to fence posts without the panels.

Here is a clear example of an uninstalled panel.

A vicar who lit his pipe in a Kent police station as a protest against the smoking ban has failed in his attempt to get himself arrested.

The totalitarians typically begin each step by enforcing it against those who garner the least sympathy. Clearly a pipe smoking vicar is too sympathetic of a target this early on. Beginning with social outcasts, progressively less unpopular targets are chosen for enforcement until the ‘Why should ___ be allowed a ‘privilege’ that I am not?’ argument takes over.

And notice that in a five word headline about the vicar’s smoking protest, BBC managed to use the words “unholy”, “stunt” and “failed”.

Independence from what?

On this day, 231 years ago, thirteen colonies declared themselves to be thirteen states.

Less known is that Thomas Jefferson wrote the “original Rough draught” of that declaration. Today is a good occasion to read in that rough draft what the full scope of grievances were before the representatives “in General Congress assembled” took the pen and scissors to it to assure unanimous support.

The last paragraph is the final treason of a treasonous document and had we lost the war that ensued, the greatest thinkers, doers and leaders of this continent would certainly have been executed for the crime of attempting the liberty of self determination.

We therefore the representatives of the United States of America in General Congress assembled do, in the name & by authority of the good people of these states, reject and renounce all allegiance & subjection to the kings of Great Britain & all others who may hereafter claim by, through, or under them; we utterly dissolve & break off all political connection which may have heretofore subsisted between us & the people or parliament of Great Britain; and finally we do assert and declare these colonies to be free and independant states, and that as free & independant states they shall hereafter have power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, & to do all other acts and things which independant states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, & our sacred honour.

Like they say, read the whole thing. It wasn’t just about tax. It wasn’t even primarily about tax. Some of the grievances have returned to us in force today and are worse perpetrated today by the government in Washington than they were by the government in Britain when this document was written. But some of the grievances may come as a surprise, particularly to some of you feeling the colonization by the EU. That is EU ‘colony‘ as in definition 2.

Memorial Day


I, {insert name here}, do solemnly swear, (or affirm), that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Blair’s legacy

By reading Samizdata for several years, I am one of the Americans that has received a major enlightenment regarding Tony Blair. I recently received this link from regular commenter RAB and decided to post it for the benefit of other Americans on the site.

Tony Blair, who was swept into office in 1997 amid higher hopes and greater goodwill than any incoming British Prime Minister in modern times, will leave it a few weeks hence with his reputation in ruins.

An opinion poll earlier this month showed that only 11 per cent of voters still like him; 51per cent think that “he manages to convince himself that whatever he has decided to do must be morally right”.

Some 57 per cent say he has stayed in Downing Street too long, and only five per cent agree that he is “in touch with ordinary people”.

Just 27 per cent think Britain is a more successful society than it was in 1997, and 61 per cent believe that it is a much less pleasant one.

Tony Blair has shown himself the most accomplished political actor ever to occupy the premiership.

He is an orator of near-genius, a performer who has for years dominated party conference platforms, TV studios, Parliament, White House press conferences, even the U.S. Congress.

Put him before an audience in his heyday, whether of three people or 3,000, and he could weave a spell worthy of Gandalf.

But now let us step over the camera and lighting cables, walk past the brilliantly painted frontage of whichever modern temple of glitz he is patronising – the Millennium Dome would be appropriate – and venture backstage.

Examine the real Britain after ten years of Blair.

Imprisonment by stealth

The problem is, they will outlaw almost everything while enforcing very little. Imprisonment by stealth. People will not know they are encircled until it is too late – like putting in all these very deep, robust fence-posts with no fence panels. All seems open. One day you will wake up and the panels are in, you are trapped and they can decide what law they wish to impose to nail whomsoever they desire.

– Regular commenter TimC in this thread.

Virginia Tech today

This quote is from a year ago, January.

Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. “I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.”

And this editorial was written last August.

We must give due criticism to the University for its decisions that put students in greater danger than was necessary. By that I am not so much referring to the decision to allow morning classes to take place, but rather the decades-old policy that prohibits students, faculty and staff from legally carrying firearms on campus. This ban even goes so far as to include those who have valid Concealed Handgun Permits.

For those of you who have not heard yet, 32 people died at Virginia Tech today.

Here was Virginia Tech’s solution to a mass killer on campus.