Thursday, December 24, 2009

Is healthcare a right?

Many on the left think that healthcare is a right not to be denied to anyone. I think they're wrong. I think their hearts are in the right place, but they're simply wrong. And before you start with the heartless conservative crap, hear me out.

Everyone in this country deserves the opportunity for healthcare. No, and I mean no one, should be denied coverage. This, as I've said, is one of the things I think the current healthcare legislation has right. People with preexisting conditions should be able to get care, they should know however that they're going to be paying more. Smokers should be able to get healthcare insurance, but they should pay out the ass for it because they make the conscious decision to endanger their health many times a day.

Regardless of whether you think that healthcare is a right or not, let's try to look at the issue from an economic point of view. Even before we do that, we have to come to some realizations. Whether you like it or not, the United States of America was founded on free-market principles. We have a lot more regulation nowadays, but our economy is essentially a free-market, where supply and demand sets pricing. Even if you think that capitalism is the bane of humanity, it's here to stay. At least in this country. And so long as we have a capitalistic society, we can't be instituting things that will affect a large portion of the economy negatively. Healthcare is estimated to make up 16% (Washington Post), and instating a healthcare system which negatively affects the economic efficiency of said system will hurt the economy. There's no way around it.

Back to the question at hand.

Whether you believe it's a right or not, let's just consider it what it is; a good.

When you go to buy homeowner's insurance, you're purchasing a good. It's the same when you buy car insurance. You're buying a good.

"But those don't pertain to the wellness of people" you say. Some could argue that they do, but I won't. Let's dig deeper.

Health insurance is only one type of insurance used to hedge against emergencies or tragedies. What about life insurance? Life insurance is used to make sure that those who depend on someone else to make the living have fiscal security after their loved ones have died. Should this be considered a right? What about long-term care insurance. This is becoming increasingly more important as the baby boomers start to retire. LTC insurance is something bought by the insured to make sure that when the inevitable time arrives in which they are put in a care facility they won't be a drain on their family's wealth. Should this be considered a right?

We can extend this argument to dental insurance and optical insurance. Are these rights? They are certainly good things, and they should be made available to anyone, but they're not a right.

So what's a government to do? If health insurance is not a right, then what can it do to lower costs? First we have to address the first problem in this dilemma, which is the government is trying to do something (PLEASE GOD STOP THEM!). Their hearts may be in the right place, but their brains aren't.

Some people argue that the government should set prices. Hmm...

Let us explore when our government has tried to set prices in the past.

After imports of oil fell sharply in the 1970s, the government tried to "help" the citizens of the U.S. by doing two things, one good and one bad:

  1. They reduced regulation on domestic oil companies, allowing them to pump more oil into the market. (The Good)
  2. They started to fix prices of gasoline to keep the prices artificially below what the market would have set them at. (The Horrifically Bad)
Here's what the pricing structure looks like when the market is allowed to set prices:


Demand and Supply meet and the price is set. Let's see what happens when the government attempts to set prices lower than the market dictates:


When the government sets the price of a good it creates a shortage. When a good is in shortage, it must be rationed.

So, if the government considers healthcare a right it will start to set prices. In this case the price setting is taking the form of a heavily subsidized "public option" that still might get through both houses. As I said in my previous post, this public option business is just one more thing that will complicate the market and increase prices for free market alternatives. This will push more people into the public option and eventually drive private health insurance out of the business except for the very rich. The public option is just a stepping stone on the way to a single-payer health system for the progressives.

So after all private options are gone the government will be the only purveyor of healthcare. They'll be pressured to keep prices artificially low, which will create a shortage. The shortage (caused by everyone wanting healthcare and doctors leaving the profession because it doesn't pay as well as it used to) will create the need for rationing.

So next time a progressive, liberal, or Democrat tells you that healthcare is a right, and that government run healthcare won't result in rationing, explain to them in a nice and respectful manner why they're completely wrong and need to take a few courses on basic economics.

I did a little sleuthing of Canada's two main progressive parties, and even they admit that their healthcare system makes necessary the act of having to wait for care, both basic and specialized.

Here's a screenshot from the New Democratic Party of Canada website:


Kind of funny how the media in America keeps telling us that Canada's health system doesn't mean longer wait times for procedures.

Just like I said in my last post, if we stop looking at this issue from an emotional standpoint and start looking at it from an economic standpoint, it's starts to make more sense.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The White House's goals for healthcare reform

I'll try not to be snarky about this. I have my views on the issue, everyone else has their own views. I'm not trying to change any views, I just want to explore things from a rational, economic, and common sense point of view, instead of just making decisions based on emotions, which I think is a major shortfall of the left's greatest downfalls when it comes to these things.

Taken from:

Key things they want to change:

- Reduce long-term growth of health care costs for businesses and government
- Protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health care costs
- Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans
- Invest in prevention and wellness
- Improve patient safety and quality of care
- Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans
- Maintain coverage when you change or lose your job
- End barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions

Let's take these one at a time.

"Reduce long-term growth of health care costs for businesses and government"

Government bureaucracy won't achieve this. When I say bureaucracy I'm not trying to simply use emotional words to evoke hatred or mental images of lazy government employees. I'm talking to convey the sheer amount of "movement" that has to be achieved to get anything done when it comes to getting stuff done in a government setting.

Government is inefficient. If you can't admit that then you're either so far up your own ass that you'll deny anything bad said about government, or you've never had to deal with the government doing something that should be incredibly simple but turns out to be a giant clusterfuck.

I helped my father-in-law with some government paperwork. Remember cash for clunkers? He's a car salesman, but was given the task of dealing with the immense amount of paperwork that was necessary to get the money back from the government. We spent over a month dealing with the asinine forms, scanning, filling them out, dealing with the CFC website (a horrendous experience in and of itself), and then trying to submit. Every couple of days they'd change the rules and reject an entire batch of cars. We'd do them over again.

Government is so vast that for anything to get done, it has to go through many channels. Adding more bureaucracy to the healthcare mix will not do anything to reduce long-term growth of costs. I'm not too familiar with this part of the proposals, but I've heard about increasing mandates on employers. I think it's a nice benefit when employers provide healthcare for their employees, but I also think it causes more problems than it's worth.

If people were allowed the same tax benefit as companies have when it comes to healthcare costs (such as getting rid of the 7.5% AGI floor the current tax code has now for medical-related costs), the incentive to shop around for a better deal would be greater. Not only would people be able to have more choice than just what their employer offers, it would help mitigate the effect of one of the major causes of the uninsured today, that is, having healthcare attached to a job. When your employer provides your healthcare, you'd better hope that the economy doesn't go through a down cycle. If you get fired, you will be without insurance. Sure, there's COBRA, but it's expensive and doesn't last long. Detaching coverage from employment would at least save people from being uninsured if they lose their jobs.

"Protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health care costs"

I think this is a great idea, but you have to explore why people were in that position in the first place. If a family has a member get sick and they have to go into debt to pay the hospital, it's a clear case of not being prepared. I'm not saying they deserve the debt, but they should have been better prepared. One of the major rules of being financially responsible is keeping an emergency fund of at least nine months worth of expenses. Not only does this cover the family for nine months in case of loss of jobs, it also is there to help with enormous medical costs, should they arise.

This is actually a whole other subject that deserves its own article, but I'll have to mention it to get my point across. Too many American families are in debt. They're not in debt because of evil banks or crooked capitalists, they're in debt because they lack the long-term thought processes that are so prevalent in millionaires. Most wealthy people aren't wealthy because they make exorbitant amounts of money. They're wealthy because they think and plan for the long term. They don't finance cars because they know that if they save the money they'll save a lot in the long run. They don't spend every dime they earn on unnecessary items. They save, they invest, and they prepare for the bad times while they're in the good times.

Too many families nowadays are have negative net worths because of their spending habits. This isn't so much a healthcare issue as it is a lifestyle issue.

"Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans"

I doubt a public option would affect this in the short-term, but it would kill consumer choice in the long-term. The government doesn't pay doctors a lot when it comes to healthcare. Why do you think that doctors will order all tests necessary? Three reasons: 1) They need to actually make money doing their job 2) They want to make sure they have their asses covered so ambulance chasers like John Edwards won't come and sue them for tortious acts and 3) They have no incentive to reduce costs for their customer if their customer has no incentive to reduce costs for themselves. When you don't pay for something, you don't shop around for the best price.

There wouldn't be a mass exodus of physicians overnight, but overtime, as the government takes more and more control of the healthcare industry, the incentive to be a doctor will be diminished. At that point there WILL be rationing of care.

And let's be honest here, the "public option" is just a stepping stone on the way to a single-payer system. Don't kid yourselves.

"Invest in prevention and wellness"

I see no problem with this, but what I fail to see is why the government must step in and do this. People can do it for themselves if healthcare is more affordable.

"Improve patient safety and quality of care"

Government can't increase safety of care. They can "mandate" or "regulate" safety rules that will, in theory, increase safety, but they can't guarantee it. Think of the big peanut scare a year or so ago. The FDA had rules on how to inspect peanuts, and there was still a government failure to ensure safety.

You don't hear the words
government failure in the news very often, but gee golly I sure am accustomed to hearing market failure come from the talking heads...

As for quality, see above under "Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans".

"Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans"

Governmental frolics into the free market, whether they be in the form of regulatory changes and/or "competition" in the form of a government-run option, will always raise prices. Just like new taxes on businesses. You're a fool if you think that the firms simply absorbed the cost of new regulations and taxes. They pass them into you, the consumer.

"Maintain coverage when you change or lose your job"

Again, if people were allowed the same tax benefit as companies have when it comes to healthcare costs the incentive to shop around for a better deal would be greater. Detaching coverage from employment would at least save people from being uninsured if they lose their jobs.

"End barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions"

I'm all for this. It WILL raise prices for everyone, but I think it's a noble cause. It will raise prices because more money will be leaving the insurance company's big "pot", so more money will need to go into the pot to cover costs. Too many people are denied coverage in this country. The insurance companies aren't perfect, and this is one of their major transgressions.

On a side note, keep in mind that you always will hear about the failures of insurance companies, and never the millions of people who've been helped by their insurance companies. That's not emotional enough for the media to air.

In conclusion, try analyzing important things (especially when they make up such a large portion of the economy) from an economic standpoint instead of an emotional one. It's easy to say that we should have universal healthcare because "we're the richest nation in the world" or "every human has a right to healthcare" or "because Europe does it". Try doing some critical thinking on the matter, and crunch the numbers. God forbid you pick up a calculator.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Which is more dangerous?

Tell me which is more dangerous.

1) Little Jimmy is at a friend's house and comes across a loaded pistol left on a table by a negligent parent. Jimmy's parent's don't believe in owning a gun for protection and have always taught him that guns themselves were bad, only on the earth to kill, and can only be used for good when in the hands of the police or military. They also told him never, ever to touch a gun if he finds one. But little Jimmy is curious. The gun holds a certain mystique because they are forbidden to him. He's never seen one fired in real life, nor has he ever touched one. So he decides that while no one is looking he'll pick up the gun and check it out. He holds it, looks at the various parts, fiddles with the slide release, pretends to shoot it, makes "pew" sounds, looks down the barrel to see if he can see the shiny metal bullet inside, and then puts his finger on the trigger to see what it feels like. I'll stop there.


2) Little Tommy is at a friend's house and comes across a loaded pistol left on a table by a negligent parent. Tommy's parents have many guns, and have involved Tommy in shooting from a young age. They taught him how to safely handle weapons and also instilled in him a healthy dose a respect for guns as a tool that, when used wrong, can be deadly. They also taught him that they, as responsible parents, will never keep guns out of locked storage unless they are carrying or cleaning them. They also told him to 
always tell an adult ANYTIME there is a gun out that's not attached to someone's hip or being cleaned. The gun holds no mystique for Tommy, and he goes into the backyard where Mr. and Mrs. Potential Negligent-Homicide are arguing about the amount of chlorine to throw in the crappy above-ground pool and informs them that there is a gun out in the open and that they should put it up. They go in and put the gun up.

Which is more dangerous?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why you can't bitch and moan about your credit card debt

It's a sad fact of reality that using credit cards to finance above-your-earning-capability lifestyles has become much too prevalent in our society. If someone wants a new TV they don't wait until they have the money saved up (something which would probably only take them a few months), they just stick it on the credit card. Some people don't like carrying cash, so they stick everything from groceries to lunch at McDonald's on their credit cards. 

The "learned" elders in our society (baby-boomers) tend to keep a credit card around for "emergencies". The last thing you want in an emergency is to stick a couple of thousand dollars on a high interest credit card. The real learned elders (the ones who grew up during the depression) know the importance of not financing your goals, and that you should pay with cash whenever possible. 

I saw a story on CNN about a woman who's Bank of America credit card's interest rate was raised from 12.99% to 30%. This angered her so she made a Youtube video about the audacity of them doing such a thing. 

Here are some of the things that she listed as being wrong:

  1. Raising her interest rate without prior notice
  2. Not being willing to negotiate a return to the previous rate
  3. The bailout going to banks who charge large interest rates for loans
  4. The banks charging high interest rates when their interest rate with the Fed is 0%
I agree with her point about the bailout. We never should've passed it. But her other points are utter rubbish.

Here's a congealed list of what people hate about credit cards. 

  1. The high interest rates
  2. The changes in interest rates without notice
  3. The changes in minimum payment percentages
  4. It's too easy to build large amounts of debt
Here's the scoop. When you get a home mortgage you can get low interest rates if you qualify. Rates of 5% aren't uncommon. When you get a car loan you can get a rate lower than 5% if your credit is good enough. You can get these lower rates because the loan is collateralized. Your mortgage is collateralized by the house, and your car loan is collateralized by your car. If you stop paying on the loan, the bank has something to recoup some of their lost capital. Banks aren't boogeymen for taking a house that collateralized a loan that was never paid. The people are boogymen for not paying the loan. Contrary to popular belief banks will work with you if you're going through a hardship. 

Credit cards are unsecured debt. They are not collateralized by anything. If you loaned a friend $300 for a new Playstation 3, wouldn't you want to have the PS3 as collateral? If your friend stopped paying you, you could just take back the PS3. But if you let them borrow the money without a clause that said you would get the game system, wouldn't you want a little extra for the risk you're bearing? Maybe an extra $25 dollars for your trouble. That's why it's okay for credit card companies to charge you more in interest. 

The credit card issuers will put in the contract booklet you receive before you activate your card a clause that will state that they can raise the interest rates whenever they want without warning. If you don't like that rule, don't activate the card. 

When a bank raises the minimum payment percentage it really can hurt people, but only the people who are dumb enough to have a big balance and to only pay the minimum every month. If you're carrying $10,000 on your card and the minimum monthly payment is 2% of the balance, you'd pay $200. Banks have been known to raise that to rates such as 4-5%, so that would mean that you'd be paying $400-500 per month without notice. Now, there should be some notice of this, I'm in agreeance there. But again, it's unsecured debt. You're the risky party. 

It is easy to build up a large bunch of debt with credit cards, but that's not the bank's problem. That's a problem of personal responsibility. If someone can't trust themselves with a credit card, they should not apply for one. It's not the bank's fault you reached your credit limit by with beer, a new flat-screen, and a gaggle of internet porn charges. 

Not there are some reforms that need to happen in the credit card industry. Universal default is an evil tool of the devil. Universal default is when the issuing bank learns that you were late on a payment (could be an old car loan, student loan, etc.) so they raise your rate. Keep in mind that these late payments had absolutely nothing to do with your ability to pay your current credit card. The missed payments in question could've been over ten years ago, and they could've been settled. 

There's been some talk lately about raising the age at which you can acquire a credit card to 21. I think that's a horrible idea. If people aren't ever allowed to make their mistakes then they can never learn the valuable lessons that come with it. 

Bank fees are out of control also. There are so many that it's hard to keep straight. They sneak them in for the most ridiculous reasons. I'd love to see some reform in this area. 

Moral of the story, if you have credit card debt, don't whine about it. If you have credit card debt from an emergency, I feel for you, but that's why we have emergency funds. If your bank just raised your interest rate, consider it an opportunity to pay off the balance, instead of sitting there with you arms crossed, sniveling about it and calling them names. 

Aye, the moral of the story is personal responsibility. 

Friday, September 25, 2009

Obama sucks at economics.

He must have flunked it. Or he's been taught by someone subscribing to the Keynesian school of thought. Either way, he lacks knowledge.

I'm not speaking broadly about his handling of the economy, I'm speaking of his actual ability to comprehend the laws of economics. 

Take his healthcare proposal. 

Logic dictates that when a heavily subsidized option for anything undercuts the other free-market options in that particular market, it will create an unfair advantage. He says his plan will "increase competition". That's a blatant lie. His plan will push people out of private insurance and into the public plan. Give people a cheaper alternative and they'll take it. This will create an oligopoly, and eventually a government monopoly on the health insurance market. 

It also won't "lower the cost of healthcare for everyone". 

After everyone goes to the monopolized public option the massive demand and subsequent cost of that option means that it will need to cut costs or increase funding. This is where the healthcare rationing "scare tactic" (as the left calls it) comes into play. It's not a boogyman scenario. When things get that bad something will have to be done, and rationing is the simplest way to achieve control over costs. We'll have to wait for both routine and critical care. It's not a rightist propaganda tool, it really does happen in Canada and the UK. 

My second example of his monkey-with-a-learning-disability economics intellect would be his "green jobs" plan. 

He wants to increase regulation and funnel money into green energy investments, thereby "creating" green jobs. 

This is what's called a broken window fallacy

Say you intentionally break a window with the intent that it will "create" a job for someone to do. The work that it takes to fix the window will have to be done by someone willing to clean up the glass and someone willing to replace the window pane. But this isn't creating jobs at all. All it does is divert capital from more constructive things. The money spent on cleanup and replacement would have been spent elsewhere had the window not been broken. It would've been invested, or spent on goods that stimulate private business. 

The exact same thing will happen when he tries to divert funds away from one thing and into another. No jobs will be created, they will just be moved from other sectors of the economy, and it certainly won't be the same people who just lost their jobs being moved. They'll have to find another job. 

In order to solve our "healthcare crisis", we need to do three big things.

1) Medical Tort Reform

I'm not a fan of tort reform. I'm really not. But I REALLY FUCKING HATE AMBULANCE CHASING TRIAL LAWYERS (you know, like John Edwards, that cheating bag of retarded-monkey shit). 

But tort reform isn't good for the individual. I don't need some bureaucratic twat telling me how much I can get from my lawsuit award. I do, however, understand both sides of the matter. 

People who rally against reform say it's hurting people's right to fair compensation and lowering the incentive to not produce shoddy products. The proponents of reform say that the amount of lawsuits for silly things are clogging up the legal system and keeping the meaningful cases from being heard in a reasonable amount of time. 

They're both right. But there are ways to make everyone happy.

a) Make the losing party pay the other side's legal expenses: This would make sure that lawsuits are only filed when the plaintiff thinks they have a legitimate claim against the defendant. Because if their case is lost, they'll be in a world of financial hurt.

b) Enact commonsense medical malpractice tort reform: Don't limit what we can get when we get hit by a negligent driver, but do limit what we can get for negligent doctors (of which there are few). Doctors build in the cost of their immense amounts of malpractice insurance into their services, as do medical supply companies. Pacemakers are about $1000-2000 more expensive than they need to be because the manufacturers need a ton of malpractice insurance to cover their asses. Doctors are also less likely to perform unnecessary tests on their patients. They do this because it's both 1) paid for by the insurance or medicare and 2) used as a hedge in making sure they can prove they did everything possible if they get taken to court.

c) Enact laws against trial lawyers advertising on TV about how they'll get those evil bastards that gave you mesothelioma and cancer and a broken arm and a workplace  injury and denied disability: (See: Jeff Martin and Binder and Binder).

2) Go back to cash-based doctor visits and major medical insurance with high deductibles, and health savings accounts.

Back in the good ol' days before health plans, there was just health insurance. Anyone in need of a vaccination, checkup, or physical went to their family doctor and paid cash. It's ridiculous that it's gotten to the point where we pay a copay for a fucking checkup.

People who use the method above save money in an HSA (health savings account), which is available to people in high-deductible health insurance plans. Funds put into this account are not subject to an income tax, and the money in the account rolls over into the next year. 

When people have HMOs they get lazy. HMOs negotiate with doctors on prices. One insurance company will pay a doctor less than another based on negotiations. It's also a big financial burden for physicians. They must hire on additional workers to deal with health insurance payments. It's not a fun situation. 

Doctors will likely give you a discount if you're paying with cash. When their patients pay with cash, they get the money up front, instead of waiting for the HMO to pay up (often this takes over a month). 

Another benefit of paying for regular is that it forces consumers to shop around for the best price. Imagine if your grocery purchases were paid for my someone else. You wouldn't worry about getting store brand items. You'd want name brands. You wouldn't get the crappy beef, you'd go for the prime. You would and you know you would. But you of course don't do that when you're shopping with your own money. The same thing applies to healthcare. If you're using your own money it behooves you to shop around for the best prices. If you have insurance paying for regular visits you get into the "well, I'm not really paying for the test so let's do it" mindset. It's wasteful. 

If you end up in a bad wreck or with cancer, the major medical insurance kicks in. After you pay the deductible with untaxed dollars from you HSA, insurance does pay for things. 

3) Stop listening to the media's bias

I'm talking about both sides. CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, Michael Moore, etc.. Sicko is full of misquotes and misinformation. If you really, truly believe the Cuban healthcare system is better than ours and that the Cuban government didn't take the film crew to the hospital for the "haves", then go here. For God's sake look at the pictures of those poor people. The Cuban healthcare system is atrocious, and believing it's better than the American system is damned foolishness. 

4) Take a look at what the Federal Reserve has done to our money

Our money is worth squat. It's been inflated by interest rate cuts. The Fed prints money out of thin air. It's never been audited. By decreasing the value of the money we currently have earned, it essentially has used our savings to bail out big businesses. It's goal is to sooth the ups and down of the market, but it causes as many bubbles as it aims to fix.

If we did those four things, we'd be so much better off in the long run. We'd retain our freedom. We'd not be told but some buearucrat fuck-nut in Washington that we have to purchase healthcare or face a fine. We'd have sound money. We'd have more money left in our pockets. 

We'd all be happier, and our medical innovations wouldn't be stifled by undue regulation. 

If you still support Obama's healthcare plan after listening to common sense arguments such as the one I just laid out, then I guess there's no changing your mind. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Media Sensationalism

Media sensationalism is a big problem in today's society. Americans rely so heavily on the news to help them form their opinions about certain issues. Among the hotly contested subjects that the media frequently misreports on are dangers to children, healthcare, and firearms.  

I was perusing the internet, minding my own business when I came across the term "cop killer" bullets. 

Let's explore this.  

When the media (or a special interest group) uses the phrase "cop killer", it's meant to play to our emotions. In the very early nineties Winchester released a new type of ammunition specializing in personal defense, for both law enforcement officers and civilians. They called it Black Talon. The "black" came from the oxidized Lubalox coating and the "talon" probably came from the fact that the rounds were hollow-point bullets. The Lubalox coating was to protect the rifling in a gun's barrel.  

Hollow-point bullets are designed for self-defense use. Full metal jacket bullets are not as easily stopped by a body, and are therefor much more likely to exit the body and cause potential harm to people or things behind the target. The way hollow-point bullets work is when they hit a soft target the metal petals expand, slowing the bullet's travel (to keep it from exiting through the back of the target), causing a greater area of damage (to better stop the threat), and to create hydrostatic shock (more important in more powerful cartridges).  

Now for the media sensationalism. It can affect anyone. I've fallen for it before. Everyone does. Even the LEO that taught my concealed carry class fell for it.  

"All armor-piercing ammunition is illegal, including Black Talon ammo and every other bullet coated with Teflon. No cop-killing ammo is allowed."  

There are a few things wrong with what he said.  

1. If you're wearing a bullet-proof vest for protection, you're much better off being hit with a hollow-point round. The energy is much easer dissipated because of the expanding pedals. FMJs are the bullets you don't want to get hit with.  

2. Black Talon ammunition wasn't coated with Teflon. Like I said above, the coating is called Lubalox. It's meant to not harm gun barrels.  

3. No Black Talon ammunition was released in FMJ. It was all HP. There goes the "cop-killer" excuse.  

4. Simply coating a bullet with Teflon WILL NOT increase its penetration ability. It won't do anything except rub off on whatever it hits.  

5. Black Talon bullets were simply jacketed hollow-point bullets, just like most other self-defense round, including the Speer Gold Dot HP bullets I carry in my gun.  

But how could a 20-year police veteran who's teaching a class on self-defense and the law fall for such things? Because sometimes the media like to do this little thing called lie.  

Back in 1996 some maniac shot up a train full of people, killed six people, and used Black Talon bullets to do it. A lawsuit was filed against the manufacturer (which oddly enough was thrown out because the judge decided that the ammo "performed as was intended"), and Winchester stopped production of the Black Talons. Fueling this outrage was the media's portrayal of the ammunition as being "cop-killers", "armor piercing", "coated with Teflon", and having "spiky metal petals" (which is a byproduct of any HP bullet). This bullet was singled out because of media sensationalism. It was no different than any other defense round on the market except for the black coating, which is now actually found on several high quality defense rounds. The media lied about the coating, its ballistics, and its purpose, and special interests perpetuated the lies.  

So, by getting Winchester to stop production of the bullets, those opposed to it kept no one from dying. If maniacs are going to shoot people they're going to use whatever they can get their hands on.  

The media is full of liars, both on the left and on the right.  

I guess my point is to make your own damn decisions and form your own damn opinions. Don't let some dork with nice hair and a know-it-all attitude on the boob-tube sway you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A serious proposition for the President

I have a challenge for President Obama. If he's going to keep pushing for healthcare reform that's more about government intervention and control than effectiveness and efficiency, then I want him to do me a solid. 

Barack Obama's net worth is estimated at being a little over $7 million. I'd like to see him invest about $1 million directly into the general healthcare fund that will be used to fund the reforms he is hawking. If he is so sure of the new way of doing things I'd like him to invest money in it. I'd also love to see him and his family make do with the public option for the next four years. 

You see, in my opinion, if someone is advocating something they should be the first to finance it and sign up for it. How is this any different than what liberals ramble on and on about when it comes to a progressive tax code? Among other nonsensical reasonings they pull out of 8th grade civics textbooks, they claim that the wealthy are wealthy because of the freedoms we have so they have a moral obligation to pay more into the system than do people earning far less. How is it any less preposterous for me to wish that Obama be the first to put his money in the government managed pot and the first to sign up for mandated government healthcare? It's not. 

Besides, if the system is as efficient as he says it is it might make him some serious cash. The investment would turn him into a venture capitalist, just like Al Gore. Al Gore's venture capitalist firm is invested heavily in carbon credits. I mean, if there's a crisis (healthcare or climate), why shouldn't the people perpetuating how dangerous the situation is stand to profit greatly from it? This is America after all...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Consider This

I've heard a lot of arguing lately about whether or not people should be able to defend themselves against home intruders (or other threats outside of your home) by using deadly force. From Jersey City's Police Chief Thomas Comey to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, enemies of our right to defend ourselves are becoming more prominent. 

I often hear the argument that states citizens don't need to carry guns or even have them in the home for self-defense purposes, as that's what police are here for. If someone is trying to break into your home, you should just call the police, announce to the bad guy that the authorities will arrive shortly, and then hope the criminals don't slit your throat in the meantime. 

Well, consider this. 

You're a stay at home mother with two small children in the house. You're husband is on a business trip for the next three days. You've decided to make fried chicken for dinner. You clean the chicken, dredge it, and preheat the oil. 

Then something unthinkable happens: the oil bursts into flames. 

A giant oil fire is now raging in your kitchen, spreading quite quickly. You make sure your children in the other room are where you can see them, go to grab the fire extinguisher out of the pantry, and you're stunned to find that the extinguisher is gone. 

Then you remember. The Washington bureaucrats outlawed using fire extinguishers inside the home a little over a year ago. Their rationale was that fighting fires is what fire departments are for. Vigilante citizens armed with fire extinguishers obviously cannot be trusted to take on the flame alone, so they should be forced to call the fire department when a fire breaks out. The government must take away their only line of defense against fires for their own good. 

So, you've got a raging fire (the threat) that could be extinguished by a fire extinguisher (the tool to neutralize the threat), but since you, the lowly citizen, can't be trusted with the tool because the government says so, you are forced to grab your children, hope that your phone is charged, run outside to find shelter, all the while a raging fire is consuming everything you have.

Make sense now?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Constitutional Rights

I ran into someone on the internet who claimed that your Constitutional rights are void if people around you dislike what you're doing.

His example: If you're sitting in a classroom and you're legally concealing a weapon, if the students around you are uncomfortable with you doing this they can vote to void your right (to keep and bear arms).

This example was made under the assumption that the student is
legally allowed to conceal carry on campus, has gone through the necessary background checks, and has the license.

His exact words were "if the majority of your students don't want you armed in the classroom they are sharing with you, then I believe you shouldn't be armed. I would extend that to a city, state or nation."

Rights guaranteed in the Constitution, i.e. the supreme law of the land, can't be denied just because they're unpopular. So if I start speaking out against gay marriage in San Francisco they should be able to take my right to free speech away? No, it's guaranteed by the First Amendment. If I commit a hate-crime in a predominately black city should they be able to take my right to a fair trial away, just because there was an element of racism? No, because a fair, speedy, and public trial is guaranteed to me by the Sixth Amendment. If I do a news report over a corrupt presidential administration should they be able to take my freedom of the press rights away from me because the president's popular? No, because I'm guaranteed this right under the First Amendment. What if I'm a member of the Westboro Baptist Church and I stand on a street corner with a sign that reads 'GOD HATES FAGS' should I be imprisoned for my views? No, because I'm guaranteed freedom of religion under the First Amendment.

The Second Amendment is no different. Just because you're uncomfortable with my
right to carry a gun for my protection doesn't mean that you can deny me that right.

Our rights
are not to be compromised just because they're unpopular.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Some things are truly embarrassing.

I've lived in the South all my life (or what's commonly included as the south), and I've always maintained that people from the south are not the backwards-ass, stupid, ignorant, and bigoted people that those damned yankees up north make them out to be. 

But for every illogically ideological soggy-pancake-brained quasi-socialist from San Francisco who spews something moronic about "economic justice" and progressive bullshit, there's one person from down south who spews an equally ridiculous statement. 

I give you Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern (R).

She's an embarrassment to Oklahoma. I love my State, but we've got some nuts. She has started a little campaign known as the Proclamation for Morality, where she blames "abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery" for the nation's economic crisis, among our other problems.

I set out to write a post about the absurdities of issuing permits to shoot off fireworks, but I just couldn't let this little nugget of shame go by. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Second Amendment

I got curious, so I did something crazy. I googled "repeal second amendment". 

What came up made me both laugh and snort furiously at my computer.

Here I give you six opinion pieces: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

I'll let you read them and make your own assumptions, but here's my opinion on the matter. 

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

What part of "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" don't people understand? It wasn't meant for only militias, it wasn't meant for only hunters, and it is NOT an outdated, archaic clause in an otherwise brilliant piece of work.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Social Security in trouble?? Nooooo....

CNN story here.
The recession strikes again. Maybe now our dumbass politicians will consider one of the only options that will save the broken system that doesn't involve taxing us at levels that would make the Swedish blush. Social Security was created in 1935 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 128. Instead of utilizing asset allocation with the taxpayer money that was flowing in the politicians decided that the "investments" needed to go into risk-free government treasury bills. Here's a logarithmic graph comparing the returns of small and large-cap stocks' returns and the T-Bills that the Social Security money is invested in. Photobucket Notice that if you invested $1 back then in T-Bills it would be worth around $18 2004. If you had invested $1 in large-cap, which are relatively safe compared to mid and small-cap, you'd have around $2,500. If the politicians back then had had the balls to allocate even just a small percentage of the FICA revenue in small-cap funds we wouldn't have this problem with the system today. Here's a linear graph of the Dow's returns from about 1928 to today. Photobucket Over its life, it has averaged 10.83%. So, even if you vehemently hate George W. Bush and all of his policies, can you at least see that what he wanted to do in 2005 with Social Security was a sound idea that could've helped with this today? Opponents claimed he just wanted to give Americans' retire money to Wall Street and his corporate fat-cat friends. Uh huh. People used that as an argument. Sad, huh? What he really wanted to do was let people invest 4% of the 7.65% taken from every one of your paychecks in whatever they wanted, including stocks, bonds, bank CDs, money market funds, mutual funds, etc.. Only 4% of the total (7.65% is taken from your paycheck and an extra 7.65% is paid by your employer) would be available for alternative investments. The other 11.3% would have been invested in T-Bills, just like it has always been. It was a voluntary participation program. Those who didn't want to participate didn't have to, and the system would've worked the same for them as it had for the generation before them. So, are the politicians going to look at the facts and do the right thing, or are they going to do what will keep them in office in 2010? I guess we'll see.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Great article on self defense and the State's obligation (or lack thereof) to protect you

Individualism and Self Defense

My favorite parts:

"There are present in America today a very large number of citizens who believe protection of themselves and their loved ones from violent physical attack, robbery, rape and general mayhem is the sole responsibility of others. Most of these ignorant folks believe that employees of the state should be responsible for protection of the individual in our society. This view is elitist and based on false assumptions."

"Many are unaware that, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, the police have no obligation to protect the individual in society. The court ruled as late as June 27th 2005, in Castle Rock v Gonzales, that Jessica Gonzales did not have a constitutional right to police protection for herself, or her children, even though she had obtained a restraining order against her husband Simon. Simon Gonzales subsequently abducted their three children, murdered them, and was killed by police after shooting into the police station window. Ms. Gonzales called the police after the children were abducted, but, the police, believing Simon Gonzales to be non-violent, did nothing. Perhaps, had the police enforced the restraining order, the children would be alive today?"

"The Supreme Court has consistently ruled the police have no obligation to defend the individual. Beginning with South V. Maryland in 1856 and several subsequent rulings on the subject, the court has ruled, "…there is no Constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen." Emphasis added. Yet, the state and its myriad civilian supporters persist in the belief the individual in society should be disarmed, stating the police are there, should anyone need protection."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ron Paul: A Patriot

These are some excerpts from Ron Paul's The Revolution: A Manifesto.

On the philosophy of economic freedom:

"Economic freedom is based on a simple moral rule: everyone has a right to his or her life and property, and no one has the right to deprive anyone of these things.
To some extent, everyone accepts this principle. For instance, anyone going to his neighbor's home and taking his money at gunpoint, regardless of all the wonderful, selfless things he promised to do with it, would be promptly arrested as a thief.
But for some reason it is considered morally acceptable when government does that very thing."

- Page 69

On free trade:

"Consider a single, almost trivial example of government favoritism: sugar quotas. The United States government limits the amount of sugar that can be imported from around the world. These quotas make it more expensive for all Americans since they now have fewer choices as a result of diminished competition. The quotas also put at a competitive disadvantage all those businesses that use sugar to produce their own products. That's one reason that American colas use corn syrup instead of sugar: American sugar, thanks to quotas, is simply too expensive."

- Page 72

On government expansion:

"Once government does become involved in something, intellectual and institutional inertia tend to keep it there for good. People lose their political imagination. It becomes impossible to conceive of dealing with the matter in any other way. Repealing the new bureaucracy becomes unthinkable. Mythology about how terrible things were in the old days becomes the conventional wisdom. Meanwhile, the bureaucracy itself, with a vested interest in maintaining itself and increasing its funding, employs all the resources it can to ensuring that it gets a bigger budget next year, regardless of its performance. In fact, the worse it does, the more funding it is likely to get - exactly the opposite of what happens in the private sector,..."

- Page 74

"Take arts funding, for example. Some Americans appear to believe that there would be no arts in America were it not for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and institution created in 1965. They cannot imagine things being done any other way, even though they were done another way throughout our country' existence, and throughout most of mankind's history. While the government requested $121 million for the NEA in 2006, private donations to the arts totaled $2.5 billion that year, dwarfing the NEA budget...
... NEA funds go not necessarily to the best artists, but to people who happen to be good at filling out government grant applications."

- Page 75

"To get an appreciation for the difference between public and private administration in terms of bureaucracy and cost-effectiveness, consider this. The Brookings Institution's John Chubb once investigated the number of Bureaucrats working in the central administration offices of the New York City pubic schools. Six telephone calls finally yielded someone who knew the answer, but that person was not allowed to disclose it. Another six calls later, Chubb had at last pinned down someone who knew the answer and could tell him what it was: there were 6,000 bureaucrats working in the central office.
Then Chubb called the Archdiocese of New York, to find out the figure there. (The city's Catholic schools educated one-fifth as many students as did the government-run schools.) Chubb's first telephone call was taken by someone who did not know the answer. Here we go again, he though. But after a moment she said, "Wait a minute,; let me count." Her answer: 26."

- Page 77

On welfare:

"... but private efforts could never substitute for gigantic government budgets for various forms of welfare. But private assistance would not need to match these budgets dollar for dollar. As much as 70 percent of welfare budgets has been eaten up by bureaucracy. Moreover, government programs are far more easily abused, and the money they they dispense more readily becomes a destructive habit, than with more local or private forms of assistance."

- Pages 75-76

On the income tax and the redistribution of wealth:

"In another chapter I explain my opposition to the military draft, a government institution based on the idea that the government owns its citizens and may direct their destinies against their will. The income tax applies the same things: government owns you, and graciously allows you to keep whatever percentage of the fruits of your labor it chooses. Such an idea is incompatible with the principles of a free society. 
Robert Nozick... minced no words when it came to the taxation of earnings from labor. How, he demanded to know, was this any different from forced labor? In America, the average citizen in effect does unremunerated work for various levels of government for the equivalent of size months out of the year. People who favor this system should be honest about what they are saying: we have the right to force you to work against your will. Strip away the civics-class platitudes about "contributions" to "society", which are mere obfuscations designed to engineer the people's consent to the system, and that is what the income tax amounts to."

- Page 78

"Abolishing the income tax on individuals would cut government revenue by about 40 percent. I have heard the breathless claims about how radical that is - and compared to the trivial changes we are accustomed to seeing in government, I suppose it is. But in absolute terms, is it really so radical? In order to imagine what it would be like to live in a country with a federal budget 40 percent lower than the federal budget of 2007, it would be necessary to go all the way back to... 1997."

- Pages 79-80

On regulation:

"Americans have been the impression that "regulation" is always a good thing, and that anyone who speaks of lessening the regulatory burden is an antisocial ogre who would sacrifice safety and human well-being for the sake of economic efficiency. If so much as one of the tens of thousands of pages in the Federal Register, which lists all federal regulations, were to be eliminated, we would all die instantly.
The real history of regulation is not so straightforward. Businesses have often called for regulation themselves, hopeful that their smaller competitors will have a more difficult time meeting regulatory demands. Special interests have helped to impose utterly senseless regulations that impose crushing burdens on private enterprise -- far out of proportion to any benefit they are alleged to bring -- but since those interests bear none of these burdens themselves, it costs nothing to advocate them."

- Page 91

"It is not unusual for American students to find their textbooks telling them that injustice was everywhere before the federal government, motivated by nothing but a deep commitment to the public good, intervened to save them from the wickedness of the free market."

- Page 93

"An argument we hear even now is that a hundred years ago, when the federal government was far smaller than it is today, people were much poorer and worked in less desirable conditions, while today, with a much larger federal government and far more regulation in place, people are much more prosperous. This is a classic case of the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. THis fallacy is committed whenever we carelessly assume that because outcome B occurred after action A, then B was caused by action A. If people are more prosperous today, that must be because government saved them from the ravages of the free market.
But that is nonsense. Of course people were less prosperous a hundred years ago, but not for the reason fashionable opinion assumes. Compared to today, the American economy was starved for capital. The economy's productive capacity was miniscule by today's standards, and therefor very few goods per capita could be produced."

- Pages 93-94

"Soaking the rich works for only so long: the rich eventually wise up and decide to hide their income, move away, or stop working so much. But investing in capital makes everyone better off. It is the only way we can all become wealthier. We are wealthier today because our economy is physically capable of producing so much more at far lower costs. And that's why, just from a practical point of view, it is foolish to levy taxes along any step of this process, because doing so sabotages the only way wealth can be created for everyone."

- Pages 94

On the Constitution:

"Our Constitution was written to restrain government, not the people. Government is always tempted to turn that maxim upside down. Little wonder that George Washington, the father of our country, once said, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.""

- Page 135

He has an entire chapter on the Federal Reserve that is so good it cannot be adequately summarized here.