Monthly Archives: March 2013

In Defense of Intellectual Property Rights

So, no matter how annoying RINO’s and the psycho-Santorum social conservative wing is within the GOP, the fact is that our problems are nothing compared to how the libertarians are going out of their goddamn minds. The argument between libertarians and conservatives used to be over the need for social constraints—libertarians believed we didn’t need any and conservatives believed those needs could be handled mostly by church, private charity, community organizations, and local government (with maybe just a touch of state government in special circumstances)*—but not anymore. Now libertarians are becoming a big tent party that has no ideological center, in addition to old school libertarians, the anti-war left, drug addicts, and anarchists seem to all be flocking to the name libertarian under a truly perverse idea of liberty.

For instance I’m now seeing an attack on intellectual property. This seems to come from the a response to the poorly conceived SOPA and PIPA laws, in addition to the continual and idiotic extension of copyright laws (driven a great deal by Disney Corp.)…but to say because there is bad copyright and patent laws we should get rid of the concept of intellectual property is about as logical and ethical as saying that because you can find some innocent people who were convicted of murder then we should simply stop making murder a crime.

First let’s go over the bizarre argument from the libertarian organization Learn Liberty**

So the argument is that intellectual property isn’t like private property.

Well before we get into this argument let’s look at why you have private property rights in the first place.

To do this we go back to John Locke and the Theory of Natural Rights. The theory of natural rights is always best understood in the context of living on a deserted island. So let’s say, like Robinson Crusoe, you get stranded on a deserted island for 10 years. You build a house, you farm the land, you pick fruit. Everything is yours. Why? Because according to the theory of natural rights you have mixed your labor, something that is most certainly yours, with something that no one had any claim to beforehand (the land, the fruit, the materials you used to build your house). Now let’s say someone else gets stranded on the same island. Do they have to bow down to you because you own the entire island? No. You only have right to that which you worked for. You have a right to your house, the land you farmed, and any fruit you picked up yourself, but the new guy has the right to start farming on any land you haven’t, to build a house with any materials you haven’t used, and to pick up any fruit you didn’t. On the deserted island you only have a right to what you worked for and you can consume it yourself or give it to anyone you wish.
Now moving to actual civilization where all the land is owned by someone and you can’t just mix your labor and property that hasn’t been claimed by because pretty much everything has been claims (anyone (and there are actually laws like prescriptive easements and homesteading), Locke and the theory of natural rights points out, that you are compensated either in money or by barter for your labor. And for the sake of ease, I will simply refer to money as property as well. So even though you are no longer mixing your labor with something no one owns, you are being compensated for your labor at a rate that you agree to. You have a right to all the property that is a result of your labor. Why? Because your labor is an extension of you, thus your property is an extension of you. Which is why Locke’s three basic natural rights were Life, Liberty and Property (which Jefferson later tied to the point of life, Happiness).***

Let me say that again: You have a right to all the property that is a result of your labor because your labor is an extension of you, making all the property you have earned an extension of you and your person.

But we don’t live in the state of nature, we live in a society, under a social contract. And under the basic theories of Locke we have given up a portion of our rights to maintain the rest (because all it takes is one jerk to turn the state of nature from paradise into a living hell, and for all of its potential, society certainly has more than one jerk in its midst). One of the rights we give a little on is the right to property—we agree that a government must be funded with taxes, which are an imposition on our right to property, but better to give a little to protect the rest than to have none at all. I would argue anything over 10% of your income is tyranny and anyone who wants to take more than that should meet the end of Julius Caesar, Caligula, Richard III, Charles I, and the redcoats armies, but that’s another debate for another time—we all agree that we give up a little of our right to property under the social contract, to maintain the bulk of our property. This will be important later so keep this in mind.

Now how is intellectual property different from normal private property? Now if you were to buy the argument of the libertarian/anarchist video above they’re not the same at all. The argument seems to be that you are entitled to the property rights that come from your labor but not from your mind. This strikes me as odd because, according to Theory of Natural Rights, property is yours because it has become an extension of you through your labor. I find it hard to believe that the labor of my physical body can make something an extension of me, but the inspiration of my soul and the creativity of my mind and the works thereof are somehow not mine. I have to say that an individual is much more their soul and their mind than they are their body. So why if the work of their body makes something theirs, but the work of their mind isn’t theirs. From the Constitution, to Adam Smith, to arguments of Friedman and Hayek, to the speeches of Atlas Shrugged, well articulated philosophy and understanding of history and human nature to poorly worded intrinsic understanding, people have understood that if you have the right to the results of your body you certainly have a right to the results of your mind. The work of your mind is even more you than the work of your body. And if you have the right to creations from your body you certainly have rights to creations from your mind. In fact before seeing this video, I knew of only one work in history that valued the works of the mind as lower in value than the works of the body: Das Kapital by Karl Marx. Remind me where that philosophic line leads to. To say you don’t have the rights to the works of your mind is actually worse than anarchy; it is among the most vicious foundations of socialism and collectivism. (This is also part of the liberal ideal that those that work physically are equal or greater than those that work with the mind).

Now the speaker in this video claims that intellectual property rights are intellectually incoherent. But only if you use his 3 part system. Absolute rights, rights created by the government, or no rights at all. What he seems to ignore is what we really have: absolute rights tempered by the needs of the social contract. The social contract does not create rights, it infringes on them here or there so that the bulk of those rights may be saved from the chaos of anarchy. Now taking the traditional view of natural rights, the first view, that intellectual property rights would continue on in perpetuity would actually be correct in the state of nature. In the state of nature your intellectual property rights would be eternal and you could will them to any inheritor you wished or to the public. However because of the social contract, something that is not addressed at all in this video, and actually quite conveniently ignored, we understand and enter into a state where there are certain limitations placed on intellectual property through copyright, trademark, and patent law.

The primary restriction on these rights is time. Copyrights, patents expire after time? Now we know the reason why, so people can build off of other ideas, stand on the shoulders of giants, and further society. No one denies that society is made better by building ideas on each other. But why should intellectual property fade where physical property doesn’t? The answer is quite simple, physical property does fade. Houses decay, land that is not worked produces nothing, business mismanaged fails, and all other forms of physical property decay. If a multi-billionaire leaves their entire fortune to their children, that fortune will not last forever. If the children are idiots they will quickly squander even the most vast fortune. Fortunes are only maintained if the next generation continues to work and continues to produce. All physical items will decay if they are not kept up, and up keep costs money which means either money for up keep will have to be earned, the items will have to be sold, or they will just decay. Physical property decays. Limits are placed on intellectual property not because they are special and should be treated differently from other property rights but so they are actually treated like physical property rights. The parchment Homer wrote the Iliad on has long turned to dust, but the idea still shines as brightly as ever, and thus to make both the physical and intellectual property rights equivalent the intellectual property rights must be given a end date. We can debate what that should be (I like life of the artist + 25 years or 75 years after creation, whichever is longer, for copyright, and 20 years for patents…but that is negotiable). So the argument that intellectual property rights are contradictory is simply intellectually dishonest.

Now the second claim that this video makes against property rights is that to enforce intellectual property rights “You have to interfere with people’s other property rights in real physical objects and to stop them from using those objects as they wish to.” This is just patently false and either a bald face lie or the speaker in the video ain’t bright. If I want to buy a computer, hack into Windows and rewrite as much code as I want I can do that. And nothing is going to happen to me. I have the right to buy anything I want, make modifications or changes to my property. And no one is going to stop me and no one is going to care…as long as I keep my property in my house. The kind of enforcement that he is talking about here is when you take something that belonged to someone else and either share it or try to resell your new product. In either case you’re offering competition to the original creator. Your cutting into the profits they worked for and are not enjoying any of the benefits of. In a lot of cases people are more than happy to have their patents used by others, so long as they get paid. Tesla was more than happy that Marconi got credit for inventing the radio, which Tesla invented, because Marconi had to pay him on 13 patents. Youtube and fanfic websites are allowed to operate and have so much copy-written material on them because it’s free advertising. It’s only when you start cutting into the profit share or start making money that patent and copyright holders start objecting. So it’s not that your property rights are violated, its that your hurting their property rights and they get kind of testy about that. Who’d of thought?

Then of course he makes the claim that you can still have creativity and invention without patents and copyrights. Let’s ignore the fact that Venice and Florence offered a version of patents and copyright in the 1400’s (remind me which cities were the center of the Renaissance in the 1400 and 1500’s) or that England and France have the origins of copyright and patent laws since the 1500’s (again centers of the later Renaissance and Industrial Revolution)…remind me again why the Spanish Empire kind of shriveled up and died intellectually and economically without any kind of those laws (might also have something to do with their love of the gold standard, but again another discussion for another time).

But the inherent claim is that free exchange of ideas leads to better creativity and innovation. By that argument fanfic site should have the highest quality literature in the world and Unix and Linux should be the most effective and user friendly systems on earth. Oh wait. The vast, vast, of fan fiction just sucks and Linux, while praised as a more stable system, is absolutely worthless to anyone who isn’t a computer geek. Also by that argument Open Office should be a better product than Microsoft Office. Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. Strangely enough you get what you pay for, and you can’t pay people for ideas when there isn’t protection for intellectual copyright.

Oh but wait they have a rebuttal that shows an artist can make money even without intellectual property rights.

Their example, Verdi. Since Verdi didn’t have intellectual property rights to fall back on, but still made enough to live off of, this shows you don’t need intellectual property rights. This again conveniently ignores little things, like the fact that Verdi was commissioned (i.e. he got paid upfront) to write several of his operas, and that his operas were quite famous in countries with intellectual property rights which he could fall back on if he had to. It also ignores that before intellectual property rights art existed only when the artist was paid by a patron, and that almost all scientific advancement for most of the dark ages was only in military science, because people were actually paid for that. It also ignores the problem for writers. A musician like Verdi could make money as a performance artist. A writer can’t. If there are no intellectual property rights, then when a writer publishes a book a publisher could theoretically just take the book and reprint it without paying the author and the author would have no recourse (see the history of Google Books)…it should come as no shock that as the patronage system died out the only place you found a lot of writers is in nations that had copyright laws.

One final point. If this video is supposed to be from a libertarian group then they should believe in liberty and capitalism (let’s ignore they already have given up on capitalism as capitalism cannot possibly operate without intellectual property rights). And as such they must believe in the sacrosanct nature of contract law (the current administration may not believe it’s sacrosanct, or even vaguely relevant, but any intelligent human understands that a contract is a contract is a contract). As such, many contracts legally include nondisclosure agreements. Without intellectual property rights I can almost guarantee you that every book, every movie, every album will come with a 20 page boiler plate contract that states ‘by buying this product you agree to not share…blah, blah, blah” having basically the same effect as copyright but taking up much more costs in court time as companies will have to exponentially increase prosecutions for contract violation and the fact that there will not be a standard (like copyright law is) so each contract will be slightly different and the merits of each judged individually. Yes, because I want a system that creates more lawsuits, I’m sure that will be wonderful for the economy.

Yes SOPA and PIPA and Disney’s efforts to keep Steamboat Willie under copyright are bad laws. The system needs correction: we need to reduce the length of time for copyright, to make patents more logical, to stop giving special considerations to fields that don’t deserve it and stop regulating the patents in certain fields out of existence. And Tort reform, we need tort reform to get the companies to stop suing everyone for even the slightest unintended infraction of copyright or patent law. But just because the system needs work and we need legal reform is not a reason to just do away with the natural rights of property to the creations of your mind and soul. The argument of these videos are that because the system is broken we should just do away with everything—throw the baby, the crib, and that entire nursery out with the bath water.

Intellectual property is the heart and soul of capitalism and without capitalism there is no liberty. So Learn Liberty should learn what liberty is based on, things like intellectual property rights.

*Yes I will fully admit that the social conservative wing does not understand this part and that government should not be used to implement these social constraints.
**Whom I usually like, but in this case are out of their gourd.
***Now one last caveat that was more applicable in Locke’s time than in ours. Locke stated that there is a limit to how much you could own, that limit being you only had the right to own what you could use. For instance, let’s say a person could only farm 30 acres, then they had a right to only 30 acres unless they were willing to hire people to help them farm anything above that 30. This is a distinction that really only relevant in Locke’s time because with the advent of capitalism very little isn’t used. That land you own but don’t do anything with isn’t wasted, it’s collateral for future projects. That money sitting in the bank isn’t wasted, it is being used by the bank to make loans. With the advent of capitalism and investment nothing really is lies fallow, resources may not be used wisely but next to nothing is deliberately wasted. Yes I guess there could be a case of someone buying up food just to let it rot, but first I don’t think you’ll find many people that insane who have the capital to do that (at least outside of our government), and second any law you could make to prevent people from not wasting resources would be so impossible to justly enforce that it would likely cause more harm than the evil it wished to stop.

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Destiny’s Knights, a fantasy novel

So while this is a political/spiritual blog we do also cover entertainment and art because those are important parts of society, and even pop culture and pleasure reading have an effect on and are affected by politics and spirituality.  This is why, first and foremost, I consider myself a fantasy novelist before any of my political commentary.

Now I already have on book out, Destiny’s Knights*…and very soon I plan to publish the sequel A Dark Twist of Destiny.  But as I primarily self publish (due in large part to literary agents being idiots and I have no patience to spend years sucking up to them begging them to buy my books), publishing costs money.  So I’m going to use Kickstarter in  a couple of months to help raise funds to publish the sequel.  But first  I plan to get a little interest drummed up among my readers to hopefully help me reach the needed funds for publishing.

So here I present you free of charge the first 200 pages of Destiny’s Knights.  Please feel free to share it with everyone you can think of who might like this a new fantasy series.

Please check back on this page for new details on the Kickstarter project and the future of the Destiny’s Knights Series.

Destiny's Knights

*The first printing needs a little revision, but I will republish that when I publish the sequel.

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Rules for Life

So I was working on a more complex meditation when I ran across this.rules for life

I think this is actually more interesting than what I was working on (maybe two weeks from now it will evolved into something better).  I might question if it really comes from a Sanksrit text, but the ideas are still valid and worth thinking over in your daily mediations.

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What do Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, and Ron Paul have in common?

The Three Horsemen

All we need is Death on a pale horse and we have the full quartet.

What do you mean you don’t know what they all have in common?

You didn’t know all three of them are never wrong, know everything about every subject, have a perfect plan, and all three can walk on water, turn water to wine and while still alive are already up for sainthood.

Right about now a good portion of people are saying something like, how dare you compare _______ to the other two.  But it kind of proves my point.

All three of them have followers who will defend them to their dying breath, without question without exception.  And this is a problem…especially conservatives and libertarians who are supposedly the ones who use their brains.  Now personally as a conservative, I and my fellow conservatives endlessly mock liberals for blindly following their leaders with the unquestioning lockstep goosestep of a Nuremberg march…but it doesn’t help when we have people on our own side who do the same.

For instance for some people on the right I can’t critique Sarah Palin without being called a RINO and a liberal.

For a disturbing portion of libertarians (or at least the vocal ones) Ron Paul is still in incapable of wrong.

There is something seriously, seriously wrong here.  People are not perfect and they shouldn’t be treated as such.  No one ever agrees with someone 100% of the time and if you do you should question your judgement.

I loved Reagan as  President.  I can name a dozen things I think he was wrong on.  I loved Romney, there are a dozen or more things I think he wasn’t right on.  I believe Aristotle’s philosophy is perhaps as a whole the most logical argument ever presented…it’s full of problems.  I can agree with people, support them, push for their ideas without believing them to be absolutely perfect.   Why because no one is perfect.

Ron was a racist, an anti-Semite, a hypocrite and if in control would have either been utterly powerless or would have killed government programs too fast to let society adjust to change and thus caused more problems than the government programs themselves.  That doesn’t mean he was wrong about auditing the Fed, or cutting back on government spending, taxation and regulation. Although correct in theory on many of his wishes, as demonstrated with his newsletter, he is not a good manager or leader.

In theory I agree with a lot of what Sarah says.  Of course since it’s all a collection of vague one-liners it’s kind of hard to find an actual point to disagree with.  But despite this lack of substance there are quite a few in the Republican Party who hang on her every word.  For god’s sake, she pulled a cheap prop trick with a Big Gulp (which I’ve seen at least a dozen people already do) this weekend, and from the reaction you’d swear she was Moses come down from the mountain with the Commandments.  Does anyone forget that she was in support of using federal funds for the biggest pork project one could imagine (the bridge to no where) or that during the VP debate she suggested that the solution to fixing the education system was to throw money at it.  Or how about her backing of RINO politicians like McCain.  I don’t care if he made her his running mate, the man is a corrupt, brainless, liberal.  His major piece of legislation is an assault on the First Amendment.  And she endorsed him.  There is no possible excuse for that, but watch so called conservatives one minute who would rightfully be howling for McCain’s blood the next minute defend Sarah’s endorsement to the death. It’s sad and disgusting.  And given that she has no depth to speak of, only quips and charisma, and that everything she does is motivated by what’s good for Sarah, not necessarily the country, I feel comfortable in saying that Sarah Palin is the Republican Party’s Obama.  A vainglorious hack who leads an army of sheeple.  To my knowledge she has made no concrete statements regarding plans/solutions to Republican issues other than the promoting our big loosers ; ending abortion and gay rights – yeah those are the two most pressing problems our country is facing today – that’ll solve all our problems.

Yes we all understand why liberals don’t question anything about their leader, Barry.  To hell about the corruption, the drone war*, the gun running, the cover up in Benghazi, the pork, the opulence, the incompetence.  Obama is the savior and one must not question the one true God.  We’ve come to expect this sort of idiocy from liberals.

But we’re conservatives and libertarians.  We’re supposed to think, goddamnit!  We’re supposed to care about ideas more than people.  We’re supposed to care about truth/substance more than perception.

Now maybe if their followers could be less psychotic and admit the faults of Ron or Sarah I wouldn’t attack them so much.  I mean they serve a needed purpose in the party. You need people/firebrands like Sarah Palin who can energize the base.  You need policy extremists like Ron to keep us honest. You need people who can use a stunt like a 13 hour filibuster to rally the troops.  But you also need people like Cantor (and I still hold a little hope for McConnell) who can cut the deals when they need to be made, lest we lose on everything.  And we need leaders like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, who in the spirit of Reagan, know how to balance these two ends of the party and when to use one and when to use other to best achieve their goals.  But right now we don’t put enough faith in those leaders because both sides, the establishment and the ideological purists, hate the other and won’t talk to each other admitting we have a common enemy to kill.  You know once liberalism and progressivism has been reduced to the political relevancy of the Whig party, conservatives and libertarians can rip out each others throats to their heart’s content for all I care, but NOT ONE SECOND BEFORE THAT!

And the first step is to admit that our icons are not perfect. Until we can stop treating political figures like they are prophets from God and utterly infallible, we are not going to be able to prioritize and work together to kill the beast that is the Democratic Party.

Here’s a test, if you can’t name 10 things** you disagree with the person you are supporting, you’re not thinking.  There is no person on Earth you can agree with on everything, especially in politics, where even the best have to make deals that to someone not aware of all the ins and outs looks like a bad call. If you can’t find 10 things you disagree with a politician on, go back and do research, because you obviously haven’t done any.

Maybe the way to deal with all of this is to make a list of what needs to occur in our country and maybe we can all agree on the top 3/5 and then together start there and work our way down and we might find that as we accomplish the goals forward some of the items lower on the list will become not as important will self correct to an extent.  It’s worth a try or we will just become as irrelevant as the Whig destiny we would wish on the other party.

*I have no problems with a drone war in theory…but a weapon that should be used with the precision of a scalpel is being waved around like a broadsword in the hands of a Berserker.  That’s a problem.

**I’d even go as far as to say that if you can’t come up with 10 nice things to say about someone you oppose you’re admitting you don’t know much as well.  (Yes I can say 10 nice things about Barry, Sarah and Ron if I had to, like I perfectly agree with Barry’s 2009 statement that running up the debt is unpatriotic.  But even though I am not so blinded by bias that I can point out that they are human and thus not entirely without any redeeming values or positions, that does mean that when taken as a whole, they do not come up very, very lacking.)

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10 Suggestions to Improve Healthcare After Obamacare is Killed

Rep. Paul Ryan budget proposal

The Path to Prosperity is still the first step we need to take to getting back to sanity. It may not have everything conservatives and libertarians want, but it is the first real step in right direction in a long time.

So this week started out with Paul Ryan stating that he is still planning on the complete repeal of Obamacare. And from what he said before his keynote speech at CPAC…I’m laying even odds that he starts a chorus of “Do You Hear the People Sing” and leads a march to build a barricade around the White House.

But it’s good to know that the crusade to end what is perhaps the worst bill in memory (it’s hard to say it’s the worst bill of all time when you have to compare it to the terrible socialist bills of FDR and LBJ’s presidencies)…still this bill is pretty close to being the straw that broke the camel’s back for this country and it must go before we can fix all the other monstrosities.

But liberals, being the whiny brainless sort that they are will whine “but medical costs are too high. But people have a right to insurance. But people have a right to  healthcare!”
Ignoring the simple fact that healthcare isn’t a right by any stretch of the imagination and that if you need healthcare, get a job and earn it, let’s deal with their claim that medical costs are too high.

I would agree medical costs are too high. But, like a bad doctor, liberals want to treat the symptom not the disease. Healthcare costs too much, throw money at it; that should cut the costs.

Conservatives however, like to determine the causes of high costs, which is the disease and treat that. So what are the causes of high costs (hint, it’s not the private sector)?

(Everything that will follow will assume that Obamacare has been justly killed because there is nothing in the bill that should be saved).

So what are the three main costs to medical care: Insurance, doctor’s/hospital bills, and drug costs?

So how do we cut insurance costs?

Suggestion #1
Tort Reform. Tort Reform. Tort Reform.
Every state that has instituted tort reform has seen medical costs drop, the number of doctors increase, the number of unnecessary procedures drop like a rock and even the number of deaths drop. If the federal government and every state were to institute real and sweeping tort reform you would see every single thing you buy drop in price, but you would probably see the biggest increase in the quality of medicine.

Suggestion #2

We allow insurance companies to cross state lines. Right now all insurance companies are banned from selling insurance across state lines. Look at any insurance card you have. Farmer’s Insurance of California. Blue Cross of Arizona. There may be a national corporation, but it owns 50 separate corporations in 50 different states. That’s a lot of overhead. It also stifles competition. A smaller company can’t expand beyond its own state because it can’t afford to set up a whole infrastructure to have a multi-state operation. This limits competition, and as anyone knows the less competition the higher the prices. If we remove the federal block against insurance crossing state lines you will see drops in every form of insurance you have: medical, car, house.

Just those two things would easily drop the cost of health insurance to probably 90% of its pre-Obamacare costs, perhaps more.

But why stop there? Doctor’s bills themselves also contribute to a large portion of the costs. So what can we do there?

Well a lot of the initial costs come from the fact that when doctors start their career they are laden with college and med school debt. Obscene levels of debt. So let’s fix that.

Suggestion #3
The reason why college costs are so high is because the federal government subsidizes them at outrageous prices. Subsidies always increase costs. Always! So cut all tuition subsidies and grants. Within a year you will see college costs drop. Now this won’t have an immediate effect as the doctors without massive debt will be years away from entering the market, but long term this will not only solve part of our medical problem but our massive college debt problem.

But part of the reason why doctors charge so much is because they know that Medicare and Medicaid aren’t going to pay them their full billing price, so to stay in business this has a threefold fix.

Suggestion #4
Adopt the Ryan Plan which will allow more competition in Medicare and Medicaid, which will both ensure doctors get better payment AND lower the cost to the taxpayer for these costs.

Suggestion #5
In a second step we need to move as much of Medicare and Medicaid costs to the states as possible. While the private sector does better when done on large scale, government and bureaucracy work in the exact opposite manner. The closer any government program is to the people the more efficient and the lower the cost. Lower costs means that Medicaid and Medicare will be able to get closer to pay 100% of doctors’ asking prices for their services (not to mention more doctors taking Medicare and Medicaid patients) which means they will be able to drop their prices for the rest of us and still make a tidy profit for their practice.

Suggestion #6
Increase the penalties for Medicaid and Medicare fraud. We’re talking about nearly $500 Billion in fraud every year. $500,000,000,000.00! I’ll let that number wash over you for a second. That’s one of the main reasons why Medicaid and Medicare can’t afford to pay full price to doctors. Now while I generally don’t believe the government should criminalize more things or come up with even stronger punishments, fraud is something even the most libertarian government must prosecute and fraud against the government doubly so. Penalties and enforcement need to be much stronger. If there’s $500 Billion in fraud it means the risk is much, much lower than the reward. Much lower. If we have to get a little Draconian, so be it, we need to make it very clear that the risk is now worth the reward.

Now the cost of drugs is also an issue. So how do we lower the costs of drugs (and liberals throwing money all willy-nilly at research never works).

However there are things we can do.

Suggestion #7
Allow drug patents to start when the FDA approves the drug. Right now a drug patent (20 years) begins when the drug is patented. So when a drug takes 10-15 years to get FDA approval. This means that the company only has 5-10 years to recoup all of the cost of not only research for that drug, but of all the other drugs that failed. So they have to recoup all of their investment for all R&D in only 5 years. And you wonder why the cost is so high. If we started the 20 year clock when the FDA grants approval they would have more time to recoup costs and thus would not need to charge as much.

Suggestion #8
Reform the FDA. Right now the FDA prevents human testing of experimental drugs on willing patients with terminal diseases….because the drug might kill them. You know if I have a terminal disease the last thing I care about is if a drug will kill me, because I know for a fact the disease will. A lot of medical costs are in cancer treatment; to allow willing patients to try experimental drugs could not only rapidly speed up research (thus cutting costs to a fraction of their current levels) but actually find some cures and real treatments to one of the biggest costs in the medical industry.

And then there are some other things we could do that could help medical care. Nanny’s in the government like to talk to us a lot about eating healthier which is odd since government programs are designed to make sure we don’t eat healthier.

Suggestion #9
End all government subsidies, tariffs, and controls for agriculture. We pay people to grow tobacco, we pay them to grow sugar, we pay them to leave ground fallow. We even pay people to grow corn only to be turned into fuel (ironically it takes over a gallon of fuel to produce a gallon of corn ethanol…that’s efficient.) When you subsidize something you get more of it. And you wonder why it’s hard to get healthy food. Yes, ending subsidies and tariffs on sugar would initially drop the price of sugar, but it would also result in less being produced which would again raise the price. It would also leave more ground for producing the fruits and vegetables we’re not getting right now because fresh food is so overpriced.

Suggestion # 10
And while we’re at it, if we want people to eat healthier maybe we could stop regulations on food. Stop sending SWAT teams at raw milk distributors, stop fining people for having their own gardens of fresh food, stop preventing the Amish from taking fresh food across state lines. You know little things like that.

Special Idea #11 Fluoridation
Now I usually hate talking about fluoridation. Why? Because so many wacko conspiracy theorist nuts think it’s some grand government conspiracy to control people. It’s not. It was, as with most government actions, a well meaning but idiotic plan. Let’s put fluoride in the water to strengthen their teeth (we can’t trust people with their own hygiene). Yeah let’s put a substance in the water that causes lower IQ’s, higher cancer rates and drastically lowers the thyroid gland (which might have something to do with obesity). What could possibly go wrong? You know between the expansion of the dental industry, better access to toothpaste, and personal responsibility I think our teeth are fine. Let’s stop fluoridating water.

Special Idea #12 

Walmart and other such stores apparently want to get into the healthcare business.  I say let them.  They want to open small clinics.  Honestly what they’re proposing will basically act as a triage center.  They will tell all the people with just a cough to just get Sudafed, treat the small wounds, and thus clean up the real traffic at urgent care and the ER.  This will almost certainly cut down costs from needless tests.

Notice something about this. With the exception of #6, involving the prosecution of criminals (a proper function of government), each and every one of these calls for less government not more. Why? Because government and regulation are what is causing so many problems.

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Bill Whittle: Making it Hurt

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The Evil of Obamacare in One Picture

ObamaCareThanks to Mitch McConnell’s staff for taking this picture of the monstrosity that is Obamacare.  There is no way anyone could possibly know all of this, let alone be in compliance with all of it.  There is no way to own a business and not break the law at this point.   This monster must be destroyed. 

“Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against – then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

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The Absolute Need for Tort Reform

SCOTUSI’m planning on looking at various problems liberals whine and complain about needing more government and show how each and everyone one of those problems is caused in multiple ways by more government.  And I already know that in in most of the cases it’s going to come back to Tort Reform being needed, so I figured I should put together some evidence for it.

Tort Reform?  Tort law is the law that governs civil lawsuits.  Right now the Democratic Party (and quite a few RINOs) as a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Bar Association (read unethical scum and ambulance chasers) are against tort reform (probably because it would be good for the nation).

However reforms like limiting the amounts you can receive for pain and suffering, limiting lawsuits to negligence or the but-for test (where you can sue unless you can prove but for the plaintiff’s actions the defendant would be fine), creating a loser pays system (where the loser has to pay the winner’s legal fees), penalties for ambulance chasers who bring in one frivolous lawsuit after another, and more power for judges to throw out frivolous cases.  Simple things like that.

This may all sound silly, or even pointless.  But take a look at the warning labels on items when you buy them.  An iron that says “Do not use while wearing clothes.”  A hair dryer that says “Do not use in tub.”  A string of Christmas lights that say “For indoor and outdoor use only” (I’m not making that one up…but I really don’t want to know what the use they’re warning you against is). Or “Warning Coffee is Hot” really? The coffee’s hot?  No kidding.  You have to be a f!@#ing idiot to not know that.  Almost all of these are because stupid people used these items in an inappropriate way…and then they sued.  And when the company they sued loses the costs hurt you either by raised prices or fewer employees being hired.  Even when the company doesn’t win, they’ve still lost because of legal fees.  And you still bear the burden of the cost.  All because stupid people also happen to be litigious people (also because lawyers tend to be somewhere on the evolutionary chain below pond scum).

Every state that has engaged in tort reform has seen lower costs, more employment, fewer court costs and more efficient courts, a stimulated economy and more tax revenue. They’ve even seen fewer deaths because doctors aren’t afraid anymore to actually practice medicine.

Tort reform is primarily a state by state issue, and you should see where your state is in terms of tort laws and if you have time try and get  tort reform in your state.  However there are also a few federal issues (as there are federal civil cases) and thus we need some federal reform as well.

But don’t believe me.  Here is a body of op-eds, reports, studies and opinions by people who have done far more research than I.  It all comes to the same conclusion, we need tort reform.

Torture By Tort
The Ninth Circuit Frosts the Lawyers in a Juvenile Cereal Lawsuit
Do’s and Don’ts of Tort Reform
 Big Tort Means Big Problems for US Health Care
Tort Reform in the States 
Tort reform, the right way
Tort Reform in the States: Protecting Consumers and Enhancing Economic Growth
 Does Tort Reform Reduce Health Care Costs?
Tort Reform Saves Lives
 U.S. Tort Liability Index: 2010 Report
Tort Reform Can Lower Costs Without Harming Health Care. So Why Isn’t It in Obama’s Plan?
Subway’s “Footlong” Accused of Coming Up Short

Now in doing this research I found some typical complaints from liberals. I present these stupid arguments with my responses.

1. Most cases aren’t civil lawsuits so this isn’t a problem.

That’s because most companies will settle because they know juries are unreliable and composed of 12 people too dumb to get out of jury duty.  Thus most things that come under the law governed by tort law are handled out of court.

2. Evil corporations want tort reform.

Any time the whole argument is against corporations, you know it’s a BS argument.  Corporations can be good or bad depending on their behavior.  Corporations will actually behave better when only legitimate lawsuits are brought against them and we don’t knee jerk dismiss every lawsuit as the work of an ambulance chaser.

3. Tort reform limits people from receiving their right to a jury trial.  Juries are one of the most basic defenses of a democracy.

First we live in a republic, a system designed on the premise that people are fickle and can be stupid.  And for anyone who wants to plead the intelligence of juries I have two letters for you: OJ.  Juries are a last ditch effort that no one wants, it’s why so many criminal cases are plead out, and so many civil suits dealt with out of court.  Juries are at best unpredictable and at worst consistently illogical and dumb.  They’re trying to make a pointless emotional argument that has nothing to do with facts.

4.  Tort reform will limit the amount that people have a right to when they are harmed by people and corporations.

Um…the only thing I know we want to limit is “pain and suffering” costs.  If you’re a professional athlete and have your body injured by a corporation you could still sue them for loss of income for millions.  But that doesn’t often happen.  It’s pain and suffering judgments that create the most in awards and it’s these that are often the most ridiculous.

5. Injured people will not be able to file suit if we have tort reform.

Actually since there will be fewer frivolous lawsuits from ambulance chasers throwing everything against a wall to see what sticks, people with real cases (but who don’t have sleazy lawyers who know how to work the field) will have a better chance of getting their case heard.

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Bi Weekly Meditation: There should be no conflict between reason and faith.

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

In the beginning was Reason*, and Reason was with God, and Reason was God. (John 1:1)

I post this correct translation of the verse because I have had some odd runs ins with atheists and fanatical Christians lately (and in one really bizarre case someone who seemed to be both at the same time, yes I think that person was just a bit mentally unhinged) who seems to think that reason and faith in God somehow completely incompatible.

This is silly.

This is an embrace of the preposterous ancient concept of “I believe because it absurd .”  That faith, and by extension God, are opposed to and not limited by reason.

Now while there may be some people who feel this way, no sane religion I can think of takes this position.  From St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Contra Gentiles to Krishna in the Bhagavad –Gita to even being implicit in the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, and obviously in the quote above, faith and reason are not portrayed as opposing ideas but rather as ideas that fit together perfectly.

Creation of Adam

There is a reason why that robe around God is shaped like a brain and why the angels are contorted in just the right way to look like the different lobes of the brain.

Yes there are points where reason due to lack of knowledge and information can’t go beyond and that is why we need faith to go beyond it.  And there are places where reason might suggest a certain conclusion, but because our faith disagrees with this point we are forced to revisit the line of logic to find that we missed something.  And there must be times when reason commands that we put away some foolish ideas we previously held on faith.  But correct faith and reason always point to the Truth and are never truly opposed.    And anyone who thinks that they are by nature opposed doesn’t know anything.

Granted if faith says one thing and reason another you do need to find out if your reason is bad or if you misunderstand the point of faith, but never should they be opposed when both done correctly.

But God is ultimate reason, there is no possible reason why God, and the faith that believes in him, should conflict with reason.  And he gave you a brain and the free will to use it…I doubt that was simply to submit to illogic.  Faith may be needed to buffer us through some of the hard parts, but it doesn’t conflict with reason.  And reason doesn’t conflict with faith when they both point to the truth.

So for the next couple of weeks I would like you to consider what you believe because of reason and because of faith.  Find the contradictions, work through them.  And if you simply want a mantra to begin and end these meditations with may I suggest:

God is the mind in which I think

*Some will likely dispute this translation…but if you translated any other philosophical work from the time period λόγος (logos) would be translated as Reason or Logic.  Now in the NeoPlatonic belief system this word is jammed full of a lot of meaning and quite a bit of mysticism, but first and foremost it does mean Reason.

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A Compromise We Should Offer Liberals If We Want To Win

Did we forget we're conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?

A couple of years ago I did a series on laws the GOP should pass and in that I did a series of compromises I suggested we conservatives should suggest some laws that give liberals what they say they want but in such a way that we also get something in return and even though we’re giving them what they want we’re doing it in a way that does not violate our values (for instance make marriage a religious issue that government has nothing to do with, government only offers civil unions—they get the equality under law they want, we get the religious nature of marriage untouched by government).

 

And in this vein I have come up with the ultimate compromise, one that will in the end mean the decimation of Democratic and progressive power, but one that will be just too good an offer for the stupid liberals to turn down.

 

Lately there has been a call among the libs, idiots that they are, to overturn the 22nd Amendment…now to save you the time (because I’ll be honest after 19 they all get a little mixed up for me too) the 22nd is the one that limits any person from serving more than 2 terms (technically 10 years total) in the office of the president.  Why?  Because the liberals are so enamored of their divine savior that they think that His Holiness the transcendent Obama should just be allowed to serve 3 or 4 or 10 terms.  He is just that good.  (Yeah because that doesn’t sound like a dictator at all.)

 

And I say we give it to them.  Pass an amendment that overturns the 22nd Amendment.

 

What!  Do I want this nation to be destroyed?  Do I want us to have a GDP lower than a hunter-gatherer tribe lost in the Gobi?  Am I looking to spark a 2nd Dark Ages?

 

No. Hear me out.

 

For this, in the same Amendment (because this has to be an all or nothing thing) we overturn the 26th (the idiotic one that says unspeakably stupid and immature 18 year olds can vote).   And not only do we overturn it we replace it with the new bar that no one younger than 30 can vote* for a federal office (House, Senate, Electoral College)** AND that all states must verify their electoral votes by making voters show valid ID.

 

Okay so?  Why would that make allowing Obama have a chance at a third term acceptable?

 

Gosh...how can I best kill my base and help Romney's?

Because it will mean the end of the liberal movement.  It should come as no shock that the young, the immature, and the stupid from lack of experience tend to be liberal.  Also people who have not built up any property (again mostly the young) tend to liberal—yes I know it’s a shocker that the correct (read, conservative) governments, for whom one of the central functions is protection of property rights, isn’t popular with the people who haven’t been alive long enough to earn much. Also strangely the age group that finds the Daily Show to be their primary source of information tends to be the most liberal.

 

Okay, so we know that young people are dumb, big deal.  So what?

 

Well the benefits of Voter ID alone are almost too good to pass up. We all know that liberals have stolen an obscene number of elections through illegal voting.

 

I’ll tell you so what.  If voters under 30 had been barred from voting Romney would have won by nearly 70 Electoral College votes. Obama would have only won California by about 9 points (I could pull up the charts with all the math, but I don’t want to make your eyes bleed)…that’s right California would be at just the edge of swing state territory.  Swing states would become solid red and states that haven’t seen a Republican in ages would suddenly be battleground territory.  (And that’s before you take out all the illegals voting through Voter ID…if you had those 2 things it’s conceivable that California could once again be the state that gave us Reagan).

 

Almost every single thing that makes a person more inclined to be fiscally conservative (experience, marriage, children, income, wealth, employment, spirituality) is tied to age.  And think about it when the voting age was 21 in the colonial era, it wasn’t because people were so much more mature than by nature it was because the life expectancy was around 45.  You were already living on your own by the age of 19, still two years before you could vote.

 

By doing this conservatives gain an easy majority in the Senate and likely a consistent veto-proof majority in the House.

 

Now social issues will probably continue to lean a little left, but that’s just the evolution of society.

 

Now you may say, okay that will work for now, but once those 20 somethings get older they’ll be liberal with a vengeance in their 30’s.  Not so, because after a conservative Congress and conservative president institute real pro-growth policies, these otherwise idiotic young people will actually have something to work for and earn in their 20’s, will have families to care for, will have experience to guide them, and statistically they will vote for conservative economic policy.

 

Or you may say, the Democrats will never fall for it.

 

To which I have to say, you’re forgetting these are the idiots who fell for Obama’s shtick, deep thinkers they are not. If you offer them the chance to re-elect their God-king one more time they’d do things far worse than destroy their own party.  They’re deluded to think that he’ll get re-elected every time no matter what.  Yet the numbers show that’s not the case, but these idiots don’t understand numbers very much (as shown by their economic policies).

 

Now some of you still probably believe they’re not dumb enough to fall for this.  That they’ll see through the ruse and just vote for Obama-lite in 2016 and 2020.  Let me just point out that some of his idiot followers are attributing a cure for AIDS to the man, trust me they’re well beyond the point of being dumb enough. They really think this man is their lord and savior.  They’re well beyond dumb enough.  Well, well beyond.

 

They’ll fall for it.  And they’ll destroy their party in doing so.  So who’s with me on this?

 

 

*I’m more than willing to include an exception for active duty members of the military and veterans under 30.

**If states want to let the immature vote in state and local elections that’s their stupid choice.

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