Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Please--Write Your Senator TODAY

I'd much rather be quietly celebrating the holidays with my family--but this issue is much to important to let slip by through Congress. My heart sinks at the thought that the Senate will pass the health care reform bill, over the objection of the majority of the people in the United States. What hubris motivates the Democrats in the Senate? Their strident support seems only to increase as the polls show plummeting support for this bill. Like children, unable to admit a mistake, they plunge us headlong toward fiscal and political disaster.

Please take time TODAY to write to your senators and express revulsion at the health care bill in general, and the individual mandate in particular.

Below is from an email I received from AAPS, followed by email I sent to my Senators. Feel free to use it.

Other talking points are available through AAPS (especially their series on health care myths) or from FIRM.

From AAPS:

There are two more chances to kill the healthcare bill in the Senate tomorrow, so more action is needed.

First, there will be a vote on the constitutionality.

Second, will be the final cloture vote around 2 pm before proceeding to the final vote on the bill, which is now scheduled for 8 am Christmas Eve. Votes needed for cloture are 60. Today, Sen. Barrasso, M.D. (R-WY) talked about John F. Kennedy’s book, “Profiles in Courage” and said that we need one Democrat to exhibit courage and stand up and say that this is a bad bill, and that these sweetheart deals are unfair. Maybe we can convince Ben Nelson (D-NE) to go back to his previous courageous stand against the bill.


1. Write a letter to Sen. Ben Nelson expressing your position on his flip-flop. If you intend to help any opponent he may have in his re-election, you might mention that in your letter.

We will deliver the letters to Sen. Nelson’s office before the vote tomorrow.

An easy form is posted on

2. Contact your Senators to tell them to vote that the bill is unconstitutional, largely due to the individual mandate. You can find your Senators' contact information at


Two big announcements from groups on the left today grabbed our attention.

The self-acknowledged government single-payer doctors from Physicians for a National Health Plan wrote to Senators:

"We have concluded that the Senate bill's passage would bring more harm than good."

The negatives, the group says, “include the individual mandate requiring that people buy private insurance policies, large government subsidies to private insurers, the unfair taxing of high-cost health plans, and cuts of $43 billion in Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals.”

And put out a list of “5 Critical Flaws in the Senate Healthcare Bill” including: #4: Tax American workers' health coverage to pay for reform.


Senators Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and John Ensign (R-Nevada), raised a Constitutional Point of Order on the Senate floor against the Democrat health care takeover bill on behalf of the Steering Committee, a caucus of conservative senators. The Senate will vote tomorrow on the bill’s constitutionality.

Further, during our “Virtual Vigil” webcast Sunday night, national radio talk show host, Mike Siegel, who is an attorney, explained that the bill violates a basic legal concept of “breadth.”


Once again, the Senate leadership is ignoring its own rules.

It’s complex, but the net effect is that Sen. Harry Reid inserted language into the health care legislation changing the Senate rules so that internally the Senate must have two-thirds of the Senate in agreement to consider any future amendments to Obamacare on the floor. Oh, the Senate is actually supposed to vote on rules changes.

Dear Senator,

Please consider carefully before you vote on the current health care reform bill.

An individual mandate is a disaster to our freedom and will not make medical care more available or more affordable.

The experience in Massachusetts should make clear that mandating insurance coverage only serves to increase public debt and decrease the actual availability of medical care. Health insurance coverage is not the same as medical care. This bill will force the use of price controls and rationing--the antithesis of freedom and the end to quality medical care.

I know you have worked very hard to try and construct a health care reform bill---but this bill will not solve the problems that you hope it will and IT DOES NOT HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE POPULACE!

Please vote NO.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Public Option and Individual Mandate BOTH Destroy Real Choice

Thanks to 3 Ring Binder for posting this. It's short, to the point and spot on.

Hopefully, the public option is dead. This is not really much cause for celebration, however, as long as the individual mandate is alive and well.

A mandate would make it illegal to not have health insurance coverage--which is just a sneakier way of accomplishing the same damn thing as a public option. If you have to purchase health insurance BY LAW, then the law will have to define just what constitutes "health insurance". What better way to surreptitiously open the door to full and total control of medical care?

The ability to decide what must or will not be paid for by a legally mandated insurance program is the ability to decide what medical care will be purchased.

In addition, if either a requirement for community rating, or outlawing the ability to exclude pre-existing conditions end up as part of the reform, it will be the death knell of financially viable private insurance.

And then we will be back to the public "option"---and a choice of one, is no choice at all.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Copenhagen Central Planners Fail at Planning

Environmentalists gathered to attend the global warming conference in Copenhagen, only to find out that the organization they are hoping will control the weather and plan for all our energy needs can't even properly organize their meeting.

The UN chose to hold what was billed as “the most important meeting in the history of the world” in a conference center that only holds fifteen thousand people. The environmental NGOs sent lists of delegates that added up to over thirty thousand. The UN looked at these two numbers and decided everything would work out fine...

On Tuesday, it was announced that only 1,000 NGO delegates would be allowed to attend on Thursday and Friday and that the method for choosing the lucky few would be announced later in the day. A notice was posted that said the decision would be made by 6 PM. At 6, another notice said come back at 7. At 7, we were told that NGO representatives would meet with Yvo De Boer, the head of the Secretariat, at 7:30 and to watch our e-mails for an announcement of when we would meet. At 7:45, we were told to assemble at 8 to find out which lucky thousand would be allowed to attend the last two days of the conference. At 8, the meeting with Mr. de Boer was still going on. So we sat and waited. Ditto 8:30. Ditto 9. At 9:35, our NGO representatives appeared.

Then the NGO representative told us that UN security had advised Mr. de Boer that no NGO delegates should be allowed to attend the last two days, when over one hundred prime ministers and presidents, including President Obama, would be in the building. But de Boer had insisted on the rights of “civil society” to be represented and had secured a compromise. Instead of a thousand passes for NGOs, there would be three hundred.

Thus the approximately thirty thousand NGO delegates who traveled from around the world to Copenhagen to attend COP-15 were limited to seven thousand on Tuesday and Wednesday and to three hundred for the last two days.

Perhaps some individuals who support efforts at a world-government takeover of energy production and use do so with good, although mistaken, intentions. However, it is difficult to understand how can anyone with even a modicum of honesty and historical knowledge can fail to understand the enormous hubris of such a central planning effort.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pure Self-Interest Promotes Energy Efficiency

from Carpe Diem.

Bottom Line: These significant increases in energy efficiency for both our homes in general and also for the appliances that we have in our homes have happened gradually, but steadily, for many decades, and many of these improvements in energy efficiency probably took place without any government intervention, stimulus or rebate programs. The incentive to save money ensures that there will always be an incentive to become more energy efficient out of pure self-interest, since increased energy efficiency translates directly into monetary gain.

Listening to Obama, one might get the impression that we have become less and less energy efficient over time, and we energy gluttons now need nanny state hectoring to become energy misers. The truth is just the opposite - we have become more and more energy efficient over time, not less.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Global Warming in Perspective

Original images from Watts up with That?
Video clip and narration from The Autopsy

I posted a similar set of graphs over a year ago. Be sure to check out the last graph of the post which plots temperature and CO2 levels--going back 600 million years. I don't think even Mr. Gore could say it fits together any more.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Copenhagen: A Travesty for Freedom and Prosperity

George Will has an excellent editorial on the subject of climate change. Here are a few choice paragraphs:

George F. Will, Washington Post, Sunday, December 6, 2009

With 20,000 delegates, advocates and journalists jetting to Copenhagen for planet Earth's last chance, the carbon footprint of the global warming summit will be the only impressive consequence of the climate-change meeting. Its organizers had hoped that it would produce binding caps on emissions, global taxation to redistribute trillions of dollars, and micromanagement of everyone's choices...

Barack Obama, understanding the histrionics required in climate-change debates, promises that U.S. emissions in 2050 will be 83 percent below 2005 levels. If so, 2050 emissions will equal those in 1910, when there were 92 million Americans. But there will be 420 million Americans in 2050, so Obama's promise means that per capita emissions then will be about what they were in 1875. That. Will. Not. Happen...

Copenhagen is the culmination of the post-Kyoto maneuvering by people determined to fix the world's climate by breaking the world's -- especially America's -- population to the saddle of ever-more-minute supervision by governments. But Copenhagen also is prologue for the 2010 climate change summit in Mexico City, which will be planet Earth's last chance, until the next one.

The rest is worth reading as well.

(HT my wonderful husband.)

Medical Services Received: The Uninsured in U.S. = Canadian Universal Coverage

While researching on the origin of the oft quoted "47 million uninsured," I stumbled onto a wonderful article by June and Dave O'Neill, "Who are the Uninsured?" One of several aspects of the health-care coverage issue which they analyze is a comparison of the amount and type of services received between those with insurance in the U.S. and those without. As you would expect, those with insurance obtain more medical services, but there are some fascinating details about this.

First, when looking at who received a routine check-up, flu shot, mammogram, PAP smear, PSA test (screen for prostate cancer) and a blood pressure check with the past 2 years, the uninsured received 50-60% of the services that those with insurance received! Not bad. When measured as dollars per capita, the uninsured received only 40% of what the insured received, significantly less but still a substantial amount of health care.

But most interesting of all, the authors compared cancer screening rates of the U.S. uninsured to rates in Canada under universal health coverage. Forty-nine percent of uninsured U.S. women aged 40-69 had a mammogram within the last 2 years, whereas 65% of these women had one within the past 5 years--which is identical to the percent of Canadian women who received a mammogram over the same time period! This equivalence also holds for PAP smears, with 80% of both Canadian women and U.S. uninsured women receiving this cervical cancer screen within the past 5 years. The rate for insured U.S. women is higher at 92%.

Men fare even worse in Canada. In the past 5 years, 16% of Canadian men aged 40-64 received PSA testing, compared to 31% of U.S. uninsured and 52% of U.S. insured men.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Our system is not perfect. Too many individuals are currently priced out of health insurance and consequently forgo needed medical care. But as the above figures demonstrate, the answer is not more government involvement. The solution is to understand what has made the cost of health insurance premiums and of medical care rise faster than the the general rate of price inflation.

But that will have to wait until another post.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The General Welfare and the Sacrifice of One

Wisdom of the Month via Walter Williams' Homepage

"They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare.... [G]iving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please."
-- Thomas Jefferson

When, if ever, does the end justify the means?

How can the "general welfare" justify violating individual rights?

Individual rights are the moral basis for preservation of the general welfare, for what is the general welfare but the welfare of the individuals of which the "general" consists? There can be no "general welfare" apart from the individual rights upon which it rests. An act which violates an individual's right to life, liberty or property destroys that which it claims to be promoting.

The sacrifice of one human being entails the sacrifice of the very principle of the right to life--whether it is done in the name of helping the poor or saving the environment. Both are worthy goals----but remain worthy only if they are accomplished through means which respect as an absolute the right of each man to his own life----and only to his own.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Must Read"s on Climate Change

Two superb articles on now available on-line, each of which addresses one of the two major aspects of the climate change debate: the science and the politics.

For the science, read Richard Lindzen's WSJ editorial "The Climate Science isn't Settled." I have been following Lindzen's presentations for several years and find him one of the most reasonable and well-credentialed of those who are speaking out against the existence of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. In this editorial, Lindzen briefly summarizes the state of the science, offering an excellent explanation of what is known and generally agreed upon, as well as where opinion diverges. His explanation is easily understood by an intelligent layman.

For the political economy of how to solve our need for energy, read "Human Ingenuity: The Real Renewable Resource" by C. August, posted on his blog Titanic Deck Chairs. August's main point is that all resources derive their utility from human ingenuity, whether it is oil, sun, wind or coal. Without the human mind to "transform inanimate matter into life-sustaining values," natural resources would simply be rocks, poisonous goo and weather. The best way to solve our problems of energy access and environmental quality is to identify and protect the condition which maximizes the "inexhaustible resource" of human ingenuity: capitalism.

Capitalism unleashes the political and economic possibilities of the best within humanity. All of the creative, positive, progressive aspects of human activity are fostered -- not oppressed -- by the socio-political framework of capitalism, which means the system that fully and consistently protects individual rights in all areas of human interaction, leaving men free to produce, to solve problems, and to make enormous sums of money in the process. Nearly every modern convenience and life-sustaining technology that we take for granted today is ultimately the product of men who were free, at least in part, to use their minds, to innovate, and to produce.


Will all adults please stand up....for your freedom

The nanny state continues to trample on our liberty, one law or regulation at a time. Are we adults, responsible for our own lives, free to make our own decisions and judgments, or are we incompetent idiots who need to be protected from ourselves and others by the increasingly invasive set of government bureaucrats?

Where will it end? Are there no limits to the control people are willing to accept?

Go here to donate to the Institute for Justice to support their efforts in defending our freedom.

(HT 3 Ring Binder)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lasik: A Model for Health Reform

(HT Carpe Diem)

FTC blog rules attack free speech

Abolish the FTC: New Blogging Rules

by Ari Armstrong (HT Rational Capitalist)

1. The FTC's rules constitute censorship and onerous controls.
2. The FTC's rules are capricious and nonobjective.
3. The FTC's rules open the door to further political abuses.
4. The FTC's rules undermine the equal protection of the laws.
5. The FTC's rules violate privacy.
6. The FTC's rules are unnecessary.

Read the post for a more detailed analysis.

And it's not just what you twitter or put in your Facebook status reports! As Diana Hsiesh puts it, they are Regulating Speech to Death.

Any one feeling warm yet?

And from the site where I stumbled on the above image:

"The framers of the Constitution knew, and we should not forget today, that there is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principles of law which officials would impose upon a minority must be imposed generally. Conversely, nothing opens the door to arbitrary action so effectively as to allow those officials to pick and choose only a few to whom they will apply legislation, and thus to escape the political retribution that might be visited upon them if larger numbers were affected. Courts can take no better measure to assure that laws will be just than to require that laws be equal in operation." - United States Supreme Court, Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972)


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Climategate should be irrelevant to government policy

As I have argued before, just the simple fact that all the prominent global warming alarmists promote statist solutions to the "global warming problem" and that NONE argue for increased freedom, wealth and prosperity should make their motives suspect.

We can always hope that the recently leaked emails will draw attention to this fact, but many powerful special interests are heavily vested in the catastrophic scenarios, so it still may not be enough to shift such entrenched beliefs.

Ultimately, however, the science is irrelevant to the politics.

John Derbyshire states it well when considering the relationship between science and politics:

That one stands higher than the other in the great scale of things, is a value judgment, based probably on one's temperament. I could argue it either way. Without rational politics and a stable social order, not much science would get done. Without some true understanding of the natural world, politicians would commit gross errors and fail.

Both fields have their crucial contribution to make to human well-being. The problem arises when scientists and politicians claim that a scientific fact (or theory) implies a particular political policy. It does not. Not for alarmists nor for skeptics.

Derbyshire continues, reminding us of the dangers posed by conflating these two subjects:

Does the political connection corrupt science? Yes it does, though in different ways in different areas of science. It has the biggest corrupting effect on the softest science — things like GW, where the data is indecisive enough (it seems to me) to be open to easy political manipulation.

The greatest gift of science is perhaps its emphasis on the scientific method, which is really just reason applied to the study of the natural world: observations lead to pattern recognition, which leads to theories of causation, which must then be verified through experimentation and the power to predict. The goal is a continued refinement of our knowledge and understanding of the world.

But scientific facts pertaining to the non-human natural world provide no guidance for determining a political response to those facts. There is nothing in climate science which informs us on the question of whether the proper response is more government or more freedom. To answer that question requires an adequate understanding of the social and political requirements for man to thrive. A robust literature exists* which demonstrates those conditions to include the recognition of individual rights (including the right to property) accompanied by the systematic exclusion of the initiation of force from the realm of acceptable human behavior.

Respecting the rights of life, liberty, and property leads to the wealth and prosperity which will allow us to continually improve and adapt to our environment.

Wealth is not the problem. Wealth is the solution.

*For just a few sources to substantiate this claim, see my list of recommended books in teh side bar.

CO2, Climate Sensitivity and Politics

I'd like to respond to a comment made following the Hide the Decline post. Garret Seine states:

I think we need to stay very focused on one item, CO2. All the justification for control hinges on CO2 driving global warming. No one has been able to truly establish that there is a link and the fraudsters efforts are going up in smoke.

The justification for catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is not simply CO2, but the presence of positive feedbacks triggered by CO2.

Carbon dioxide has risen, and my understanding of the science is that through analysis of isotopes, it is possible to demonstrate that this rise is indeed caused by the burning of fossil fuels. However, the simple rise of this trace greenhouse gas would not be a problem without a significant positive feedback acting to significantly increase atmospheric water vapor content. It is this claim of a "climate sensitivity" to CO2 that drives fears of catastrophic warming.

The scientific work of Lindzen and others challenges the intensity and even the direction of these feedbacks. That these challenges have not been disproven, nor even seriously considered, should cause scientists to question the alarmist scenarios. The lack of candor and reasonable humility amongst promoters of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is evidence that too many people have too much invested in catastrophe to maintain an objective perspective on this subject.

Honduras: Lessons in Constutionality

Thanks to Gus Van Horn for linking to an excellent article on the latest developments in Honduras. The appropriateness of ousting former Honduran President Zelaya for his unconstitutional activities has been reinforced by further details and this week-end's election.

America, North, South and Central, still struggles to understand the prerequisites for freedom, but recent events in Honduras provide an example worthy of emulation.

WSJ In Elections, Honduras Defeats Chavez, by Mary Anastasia O'Grady

And from Honduran, Rodrigo Cantero:

Time and time again we have seen "democrats" like Hugo Chavez, like Evo Morales, like Rafael Correa and now Daniel Ortega trying to turn their countries into their own private ranches, and we have seen the International Community stand by and just applaud rigged election after rigged election.

Cantero's scare quotes are unnecessary though. Chavez, Morales, Ortega, Correa...and Hamas, and Ahmadinejad, and unfortunately Obama and the U.S. Congress, are democrats. Democracy is not commensurate with liberty--but with unfettered majority rule: mobocracy. The presence of elections, in-and-of themselves, do not preserve liberty. What preserves freedom, in Honduras, in the United Sates, and anywhere, is a constitution which places the protection of individual rights above the will of the majority as well as beyond the control of a would-be-dictator.

This is a lesson the United States will have to relearn if we wish to continue to live in liberty.