Fantasy vs. Reality: Choose carefully.

As we approach New Year’s day, I hope you will take stock of whatever you have as part of your celebration.  I don’t mean your belongings in terms of property.  I mean you.  You have you.  You are special and uniquely you.  You may have a great family.  You may have friends that you care about and who care about you.  In the United States, you have natural rights that are protected.  And you have some sort of talent and skill that comes from your effort to learn it.  You may be ready to learn more new things or teach old things or try out something altogether different.  If you take an inventory of what your mind is capable of perhaps you should take a moment to appreciate your sanity.  According to Psychology: In Search of the Human Mind (1), “the term sanity is a legal term for describing behavior, not a psychological one.”  In order to evaluate a person’s sanity, you look at what they do.

Let’s appreciate the important distinction between sanity and insanity.  The M’Naghten Rule is a definition of insanity that was written from an English court case in 1843: “to establish a defense on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of committing the act, the party accused was laboring under such a defect of reasoning, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he [or she] was doing, or if he [or she] was doing what was wrong” (2).

When you are sane, you know the difference between right and wrong.  And you can also notice the difference between fantasy and reality because you can check your beliefs with what is real around you.  Whenever you hear anyone in Congress suggesting that we need government universal healthcare, each of us can check the reality of nations that have adopted that program and see what it does to harm them and to benefit them.  If you check into it, you will hear about long waits for surgery or sometimes a refusal to treat certain doom-laden diagnoses like cancer.  Universal healthcare programs cost so much money and they all ration care to cut costs.  They can only afford practical measures that cost a smaller amount of money.  Universal government healthcare has been implemented where it exists when people can’t afford to pay for their own needs, in a bad economy.  But universal healthcare further harms a bad economy.

Some say that if the government oversees costs, they can cut the high cost of healthcare.  When they believe this they clearly ignore the fact that Obamacare was written mostly by insurance companies and the cost of healthcare radically increased under Obamacare.  Functioning marketplaces, but not government, really can control costs through supply and demand and not by government fiat.  The real clients of the Obama Administration era Congress who voted for Obamacare were the very corporations who have been overcharging us.  There’s still a lot of monopoly power in healthcare and we all still live in the same politically neoliberal system that gave us a bad healthcare bill in Obamacare.  I doubt a new universal healthcare bill would be any better.  In fact, it could be much worse.

When Congress suggests that there’s a budget for a new program of any kind you should be skeptical.  You should realize that our nation has a large debt.  Congress wants to spend money that our nation doesn’t have.  And you should realize that a political person such as a Congress member always wants more influence and to them a new program means more political influence.  This is a defect of reasoning.  Congress members like influence more than anything else.  But not all new programs actually provide Congress with greater influence.  As Congress has gained more power to influence the economy, they have clearly lost the ability to judge what will work well for the people of the United States.  This has hurt their influence with ordinary Americans.  Many bad policies are currently in effect and we can already see that Congress may choose to do what is exactly the wrong thing for the nation.  As Walter Lippmann said, more power doesn’t mean greater wisdom.

Some persist and say again that the nation should have universal healthcare.  Universal healthcare would be such a large program we should check the treasury and the current deficit to see how much money we have to fund such a program.  The current federal debt is $21,861,315,992,472.00 (3).  When we look into the treasury for gold or treasure what we find instead is IOU’s.  That means there’s no money to fund universal healthcare and also that we already owe a huge amount of money as a nation to people who hold our debt.  Out of control levels of ever-increasing debt have been harmful.

When people claim that the government’s debt can grow infinitely large without causing harms, we should look around and realize that harms are all around us from undisciplined government spending and bad economic policies.  And our monetary system isn’t supporting a healthy economy and hasn’t since 2008.  Any new programs whether they are a government war effort or a government healthcare effort are beyond what we can afford because of years of overspending.  The outcome of more spending right now is just more economic failure for most Americans.

Obamacare was recently found to be unconstitutional.  The legal ground for finding it constitutional in the first place was fallacious, but the Supreme Court made a bad ruling and found that because it was a tax and spend program, it was within Congress’s power to pass it.  After the public mandate was repealed by Congress and the program could no longer be called a tax and spend program, it was declared to be unconstitutional.  But it was already a failure in a practical sense because the lifespan of Americans decreased during its implementation.  It was a tax on life and a biopolitical expansion of the government’s power over the American people that proved to be functionally toxic to people’s health.  And it was unconstitutional because it interfered with people’s natural right to buy or not buy and to make their own healtcare choices.

Some want universal healthcare because they don’t want to pay for their healthcare.  Economic insecurity is widespread right now and that’s scary.  Some people have been through several job losses due to corporate buy-outs that cost them their jobs.  Not everyone has been able to find another job.  Meanwhile, inflation in healthcare has continued for a long time.  But universal healthcare will increase economic insecurity and it will interfere with your healthcare choices.  Natural rights can be easily abused under universal government healthcare.  Mandated prescriptions, mandated mental healthcare or non-healthcare, mandated surgery or non-surgery, declarations of fitness or non-fitness, compliance or non-compliance.  People should be able to make their own healthcare choices.

Some want universal healthcare so that immigrants can get free care.  But that also hurts the economy where many people already don’t have a job and there’s a large federal, state and municipal debt in most communities.  Universal healthcare conflicts with our U.S. constitutional right to protect our own body and to own it for ourself.  The ACA has already proven a betrayal of good sense that doomed us all to a worsened healthcare system.  To consider having universal healthcare again in the United States is to embrace insanity.  If you’d like to learn more about American political ideologies over the span of U.S. history, buy a copy at Amazon.com of Political Catsup with Economy Fries for a dose of reality that finally makes sense.

(1) Robert J. Sternberg,  Psychology: In Search of the Human Mind, 3rd edition, copyright 2001, 1998, 1995, Harcourt College Publishers, also digital media copyright 2001, Digital: Convergence Corporation, Ft Worth TX, 540.

(2) Robert J. Sternberg,  Psychology: In Search of the Human Mind, 3rd edition, copyright 2001, 1998, 1995, Harcourt College Publishers, also digital media copyright 2001, Digital: Convergence Corporation, Ft Worth TX, (this reference from Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, 25th edition, 1990, p1374), 540.

(3)  Treasury Direct, https://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/debt/current, accessed 12-28-2018.

 

 

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The Bill of Rights protects natural rights from political violence.

When President Obama was in office, I waited to see what he would do.  And I thought about what would come of it.  When I look back, one of the obvious things to see that came out of his presidency has been a growth of intolerance that has taken root in our nation and a new hunger by some people to control other people’s choices by government fiat.  There are those among us now who want to end free speech, end the right to own firearms, end the right to privacy from government spying, monitor where people go and what they say and who want to control people’s health choices.  It may be that social media has caused a kind of intolerance and hysteria or was it politics?  Did President Obama’s policies make people hunger to control other people’s lives more?  In any case, I oppose this attitude and I think that it is un-American.

Looking at specific failures of the Obama Administration, I would include non-prosecution of bankers that failed in their fiduciary duty to inform their clients that a specific investment that they were recommending would likely become worthless, even when the bank selling it knew that it would.  Some would likewise include President Bush’s Administration because he also didn’t indict bankers for fiduciary failings at the very end of his presidency in the fall of 2008.  This non-prosecution allowed banks to defraud a lot of people during the Great Recession without any penalty.  And then banks were bailed out and not meaningfully reformed and it was like a subsidy had been given to them for doing the wrong thing that hurt a lot of Americans.

The Obama Administration failed to prosecute torturers that killed people during interrogations.  Eric Holder as the Attorney General did a big investigation.  A report detailing these tortures was presented to Congress during the Obama Administration, and it noted the deaths and suffering of several people.  Attorney General Eric Holder didn’t arrest or charge the perpetrators of torture and murder.  Little was said about the torturers or their specific crimes.  A deep shadow fell and remained across our justice system.  It remains today.  The Obama Administration also used drone assassination against selected enemies in the Middle East.  Innocent people were killed.  But the strategy was supposed to save money and some praised it.  There was almost no press controversy.

These specific failings and these kinds of failures hurt our society by ignoring wrongs that caused great harm to individuals and to us all indirectly.  These crimes and the subsequent failure to prosecute them break with rule of law habits that have kept America safe and well across time since the 1789 Constitution was written.  The United States was set up to protect Americans at all levels of power, at all levels of society, not just the most powerful people.  And because of the U.S. Constitution, Americans are protected.  The most powerful people aren’t supposed to determine the fate of everyone else here or abroad.  Here’s a quote from Justice Robert H. Jackson of the Supreme Court, written in 1943:

“The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.  One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” (1)

Natural rights are the most important thing that separates a free nation from a totalitarian one.  They are socially worth more than power to a few because they diffuse power and security to every part of us and allow us to stand together respecting every person.  Natural rights should be appreciated by everyone and protected by our government, and the rule of law enforced.  Government office holders are required to swear their allegiance to our Constitution.  It’s apalling to hear some officials deny the importance of this duty or the importance of our Constitution.  Americans aren’t better off by giving fiat power to our government.  Whether social media has enhanced political hysteria or whether it was the policies of neoliberalism or of President Obama, tolerance and respect for natural rights under a limited government is better than more government power.

If you’d like to learn how the United States moved from classical liberalism to modern liberalism to neoliberalism and incrementally away from our traditions of respecting natural rights, get a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries at Amazon.com.  This book is full of worthy topics for your consideration including our banking problems under fiat money.  Make sure and get a copy today.

(1) Justice Robert Jackson, http://www.libertytree.ca/quotes/ Robert.Jackson.Quote.30C4, accessed 11 Dec 2018.

 

 

Presidents can’t fix neoliberalism’s failings.

I watched the solemn funeral for President George Herbert Walker Bush on national television.  It was on all the major networks.  The National Cathedral was a beautiful location for the funeral and I heard the bell toll 45 times.  I didn’t tune in for all of it but I heard Senator Alan Simpson’s eulogy which was marvelously delivered in a heartfelt way that both elevated and humanized the ceremonies.  The eulogy was personal and offered insights into the President’s private circle of friends.  I observed respectful attitudes among funeral attendees.  Afterward, I listened to commentary that claimed that President G. H. W. Bush lived during a more gracious time in our history–a time that we may now long for.

I have to disagree with that assessment.  I remember the struggles of that president and of all the presidents that have served our nation over my lifespan.  Since I became a voter in 1982, our political decisions have never been a success.  I remember conversations I heard about the Kennedy assassination.  I remember the catastrophic Vietnam era.  I remember the Nixon disappointments.  American Presidents have never sailed by on the winds of change with grace and fortitude, secure in the belief that their efforts would win a better day for our America.  In fact, although President George Herbert Walker Bush achieved personal victories, he failed to achieve progress for our nation.  We now languish in doubt about what to do during the age of neoliberal bickering and strife.  It is an age that has failed to deliver the prosperity it once hoped for.

As I looked in the faces of President Carter, President G.W. Bush, President Clinton, President Obama and President Trump, I felt them all under siege in a politically failing United States.  Why failing?  Because neoliberalism is collectivism and collectivism encourages corruption that undermines each person’s ability to achieve.  However great each person’s effort, neoliberalism undermines long-term achievement and shrinks it down to almost nothing.  Much struggle, little accomplishment.  As America marches from Democrat to Republican to Democrat to Republican Administrations, each undermines the next but continues on in failing neoliberal programs.  Neoliberalism comes with financialization and globalization and we find these systems are all three failing us.  They fail to create a secure future.  They waste the talents of individuals.  Corruption undermines our success and capital eclipses wealth.  Too bad.  It’s time to change and turn towards what might work better for the nation.  It’s time to turn away from corruption that elevates capital and undermines accomplishment.

As much reverence as we’ve heard about President George Herbert Walker Bush, I have to say that his worthy military service may have taught him to be a follower of systems instead of a leader that innovates a system.  I’m glad that President Trump isn’t just a follower.  If he were, I don’t think he would have been elected.  But President Trump can’t change everything all at once.  President Trump is trying to rebalance trade.  If Americans knew more about economic history they would know to value this.  President George Herbert Walker Bush studied economics, but he didn’t try to innovate the nation’s economy.  Rebalancing trade may help us to recover some economic health.    But even if President Trump succeeds at rebalancing trade, he would make better progress if neoliberalism ended.  That is, if state sponsored corporatism ended.

Also, banks should be regulated and bank deregulation should end.  That would end the financial harms of hot money and borderless banking.  Banks should be smaller so that their failure doesn’t menace the nation.  Glass Steagall could be restored to separate commercial and investment banking.  Monetary and fiscal policy could acquire greater discipline.  Clinton era strategies to stymie regulation and regulatory agencies could end.  Corrupt Washington could reform.  Anti-trust legislation could be enforced.  We have seen alarm in Washington D.C. at President Trump’s election because it has endangered corrupt opportunities and might end non-prosecution for crimes committed against our nation.  I hope that crony protections against political crimes ends soon.

The nuclear age scared us into a neoliberal system and it hasn’t worked out.  We were trying to protect the world from a nuclear holocaust and even if we did that from 1945 until the present-day, it isn’t enough.  Neoliberalism can’t work for America because it is un-American.  It also can’t deliver the world into peace and prosperity even though that was the goal.  If you want to learn more about the history of ideological change during our nation’s evolution, buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries on sale at Amazon.com.