US Healthcare. Did you know?

31 08 2009

This comment comes from Paul Hsieh of F.I.R.M.  (Freedom and individual rights in medicine, http://www.westandfirm.org/blog/)

Life expectancy and infant mortality statistics are notoriously poor measures of the quality of a nation’s health care system. For instance, more Americans are killed in car accidents and homicide than in Canada and Europe. According to ABC News, if one adjusts for these fatal injuries, then U.S. life expectancy is actually higher than in nearly every other industrialized nation.

International comparisons of infant mortality rates are similarly suspect. The U.S. counts any premature infant born with a heartbeat as a live birth even if it survives only a few hours. Many European countries count such children as “stillborn” if they weigh less than 1 pound even if they show a heartbeat. Japan doesn’t count such infants as “live births” unless they survive for more than 24 hours.

Flawed statistics make a poor basis for public policy.

Paul Hsieh, M.D., Sedalia

The writer is co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine.

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Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC)

27 08 2009

Interesting name. 

New book released on climate change:  “Climate Change Reconsidered”

http://www.climatechangereconsidered.org/





Luke Slawomirski thinks he’s got Libertarian’s sussed.

25 08 2009

Some guy, Luke, an obvious supporter of big government, wrote an appallingly illogical letter to the editor in the Australian in response to an article by Julie Novak.  I didn’t read this original article, I just found Luke’s comments disconcerting – and somewhat interesting. 

What I interpret from Luke’s letter is that those in favour of our current levels of state control (like Luke) are looking for logical consistency in political theory and are seeking to satisfy their ethics. 

This is the letter, I’ve typed my comments in wine red.

 I’M willing to wager that Julie Novak (“No nudging, please”, Opinion, 18/8) felt tempted to use the libertarians’ favourite phrase: social engineering. She may as well have, and also gone on to deride compulsory education, the mandatory wearing of seat belts or indeed any laws that place even the slightest restrictions on the sanctity of individual freedom. 

What’s so bad about any of that?  Please explain.  What’s wrong with using the term social engineering?  Personally I’d use a harsher phrase: immoral force initiation. 

 I would also like to see some real evidence supporting her claim that the freest economies in the world are also most conducive to economic growth, social accord and personal happiness. This is simply not backed up by any peer-reviewed literature, which consistently indicates that nations where egalitarian social structure is emphasised (sometimes at odds with absolute individual freedom) rank highest on a range of indices related to health and happiness and, in the long run, also outperform their libertarian counterparts in economic growth.

Evidence.  USA vs Soviet Union.  Where’s your evidence?

The efficacy of free markets is backed up by mountains of peer reviewed economics articles.  You are being dishonest Luke because a quick search would have educated you.  Also, try the many right wing think tanks.  They produce articles daily in Australia, the USA and many other countries.

What libertarian counterpoints?  Apparently there are libertarian nations out there.  News to me.

Luke is engaged in aggressive but totally empty assertion.  

The term “market failure” is known to most policymakers by now but still seems conspicuously absent from Novak’s Friedmanite lexicon.

So what?  Would you consider it a good argument, if I said, the term “government failure” is well known.  You might, but you’d be wrong.

Sure, individuals learn from past consumption decisions when they are purchasing wine or buying a car. However, neglecting to protect or support individuals in situations where they are faced with decisions on, for instance, medical interventions, financial investment or daily lifestyle choices on caloric intake or smoking is absolutely facile.

Empty assertion again.  In addition, Luke unwillingly admits here that “learning” is reduced in the face of state force.  And Luke seems to think that people are capable of making choices about wine, but not about more crucial and important issues.  This is absurd, people spend far more time pondering important things, and they would spend even more time if they had the freedom to act on their decisions.  The more state control, the less learnt, the less thought and the less self responsibility.  No way around that one. 

Novak is simply peddling the mantra of thinly disguised Social Darwinism preferred by devotees of orthodox economic theory. In case she hadn’t noticed, this has now been thoroughly discredited, a fact even acknowledged by some of its formerly staunchest supporters (eg, Alan Greenspan).

Social Darwinism is used to imply that someone is benefitting at the expense of someone else.  This is a misrepresentation of capitalism.  Capitalism requires a legal system of individual rights so that property rights can be protected and so that all people can be protected from initiatiary force.  Capitalism allows the trader principle to operate – good for you, good for me.  In reality, it is governments that plunder and exploit people.  People in a capitalist society survive by productivity or by charity if necessary.  Government control of the economy necessarily does exactly what Luke is scared free markets do.  Government by its very nature has to steal from some, in order to be able to “give” to others. 

Then throw in the Greenspan name calling.  Once again this paragraph is empty assertion.  Greenspan was hardly objectivist or libertarian for that matter.  He headed the government control of the money supply!  Objectivists spoke out against Greenspan and he spoke out against free markets – over decades.  It’s really quite telling when people have to use straw man arguments to make their case. 

Luke is saying that free markets are bad because Alan said so.  Wow what a great argument!  

For once, I’d like to see these liberal acolytes bring their arguments to their logical conclusion by calling for the legalisation of illicit drugs, non-compulsory education and the abolition of any other laws that impinge on our supposed freedom. This would finally confirm that their standpoint is rooted in ideology as opposed to observed, empirical fact.

Here Luke again displays his ignorance with a straw man argument.  Objectivists and many libertarians (literally thousands, possibly millions) proudly and loudly argue for the TOTAL abolishion of state education, health, welfare, infrastructure and more.  The call to legalise illicit drugs is hardly new, and on this issue I’d say you could find millions of people around the world in favour of legalisation. 

But the big winner here is when Luke accuses free market promoters for a standpoint rooted in ideology.  Well Luke, every single person on the planet’s political views are rooted in some sort of ideology.  So what?  Are you implying a theory – practise dichotomy?  This might actually be an interesting discussion.

However Luke, you have just identified yourself as a hypocrite, because in paragraph two, you clearly promote the ideology of egalitarianism. 

In addition, Luke is clearly in favour of empiricism (the epistemological portion of his ideology at work).  He again shows us that he is a hypocrite by not living up to his own standard of empirical evidence – because he supplies none. 

Luke Slawomirski
Highgate, WA

 I’m not sure if the Australian printed this letter just to show how bad the arguments of a typical supporter of state control are? 

Anyhow, the Australian has printed an aggressive letter, containing obvious contradictions, that engages in empty assertion, straw man arguments and ad hominem.  And that’s the state of the world we live in.  It’s quite depressing.

Luke I think I genuinely feel sorry for you.  But my real concern is that this standard of thought is common in our community.  Luke appears well educated – at least he uses big words – but he’s still highly ignorant – and alarmingly opinionated considering this ignorance.  Although I’m a little jealous.  If I wrote such an illogical waste of words that took the other side and supported capitalism – there’s no way I’d get published.  You should feel lucky Luke, that you even have the opportunity to display to the world your contradictory thinking and ignorance.  Although you should also feel embarassed.

I will end this short piece by restating my second paragraph:

What I interpret from Luke’s letter is that those in favour of our current levels of state control (like Luke) are looking for logical consistency in political theory and are seeking to satisfy their ethics.  And this exposes one of the problems with libertarian politics.

Objectivism satisfies.  But Libertarianism does not.  The only defining aspect of a libertarian is that libertarians want less government.  Unfortunately most people don’t, and like Luke, they cannot conceive of some forms of privitisation – because for their whole life and most of human history, state or religious control dominated.  Therefore a large change in politics is required.  Meaning a change in ideology – something libertarians don’t want to touch.  This is why I do not think a libertarian political party will gain power and why promoting Objectivism is time better spent to achieving a brighter future.





How well do hollywood movies demonstrate a change in US culture?

21 08 2009

I don’t know any detailed answer to this. 

But I certainly get the impression that some mainstream US movies from 50+ years ago are quite different (in terms of their American patriotism and focus on liberty) than those of today.  There’s far less pragmatist ideology in the characters. 

Two movies I have recently watched are:

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”.  1939.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031679/

“The Alamo”.  1960.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053580/

IMO, there’s no way these movies would be box office hits today.  I doubt characters such as these are even conceivable to people of my generation, they barely are to me and my views on freedom aren’t exactly representative of the majority.   

eg/ John Wayne’s republic speech in the Alamo.  

eg/ James Stewart’s charater’s moment of personal crises outside the Lincoln memorial.





“Give me liberty or give me death”

21 08 2009

The famous words of Patrick Henry.

Can you imagine a politician in our allegedly “extreme capitalist” society saying these words today? 

For a free download of this speech visit, http://librivox.org/give-me-liberty-by-patrick-henry/

Librivox hosts a realtively extensive collections of audio recordings of public domain works





The Rattan Cane

20 08 2009

Via a comment on NoodleFood:

“Malaysia to cane beer drinking Muslim women”

http://despardes.com/wp/tag/kartika-sari-dewi-shukarno/

Sooo grateful I am not a Malaysian Muslim. 

Via Wikipedia:

The flexibility and durability of rattan canes make them an effective instrument for inflicting disciplinary pain. A rattan 4ft long (1.2 m) and half an inch thick is used for judicial corporal punishment in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.[3] It is soaked in water before use to make it heavier and even more whippy. This punishment is delivered to the offender’s bare buttocks. It was a rattan (not bamboo, as widely misreported) that was used for the caning of Michael P. Fay in 1994. It is also used to discipline recalcitrant soldiers in the Singapore Armed Forces.

A somewhat thinner rattan cane was the standard implement for school corporal punishment in England and Wales, and is still used for this purpose in schools in Singapore, Malaysia and several African countries.

It can also be used for torture or for pleasure, as in BDSM contexts.





Remember Daniel Hannan?

19 08 2009

The parliamentarian made famous (on the internet at least) for this vid where he outspokenly attacks the hypocrisy and socialist policies of the UK:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94lW6Y4tBXs

Well, he’s currently fighting the good fight in the US on the healthcare issue. 

See this Glenn Beck interview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wcWlHTRcTE