Friday, March 20, 2015

Out-of-control health-care costs

This morning, the medic prescribed some eye drops to treat my red eyes. Allergy, he says. I just picked up the prescription. Cost: $222 for 5 ml. That works out to $44,400 per liter or $168,072 per gallon! The active ingredient makes up only .1% of the drops. This virtually pure water must be good stuff!

If I may editorialize a bit, the soaring cost of health care began with FDR's wage/price-fixing in WWII. Industry had no choice but to offer other incentives to attract skilled labor. The most significant incentive offered was health insurance. Before that, the cost of health care was covered by the consumer and by charity -- not insurance or government. Once third-party payers (insurance companies) became part of the picture, most consumers ceased to be cost-conscious and costs soared. Later, our politicians bought our votes with our own money by adding "free" socialist health care for the elderly (Medicare) and low-income consumers (Medicaid, CHIP, etc), driving health care costs even higher. (A similar predicable impact on costs came with government intervention in education.)

I know that a significant portion of that $222/5ml is to recover the producer's cost of development and testing. But I also dare say that government meddling in the free market is the primary reason my eye drops are so expensive.

Of course, all aware Americans know what the so-called "Affordable" Care Act (AKA ObamaCare) has done to health-care and health-insurance costs. Surely, we can count on ever more government to fix the problems the government created in the free market.

We need smarter voters.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Get control over spending on recreation, arts, and parks

The recently-completed Southern Utah Sports Academy shows that the private sector can satisfy our recreational needs if it doesn't have to compete with the taxing power of government. It shows that we don't need a RAP (Recreation, Arts, and Parks) tax or other taxpayer-funded projects to have nice-to-have services.

The RAP tax is only a penny added to every $10 spent. That seems quite insignificant. But, government takes a penny here, a penny there, and pretty soon we find that government consumes over half of what we earn and produce in this country -- just to provide "free" services. Add to that, the cost to simply maintain those "free" services.

Please take a few seconds to imagine how much money you'd have left in your pocket if the local, state, and federal governments weren't constantly caving in to every demand for a taxpayer-funded park, monument, trail, playground, swimming class, dance class, exercise class, after-school program, theater, skating rink, rec center, museum, library, bookmobile, etc. (Anyone want to guess how much the taxpayer pays for each book-lent out of our library and bookmobile?). All of these services can be provided by the private sector which includes non-profit organizations. But, when government steps in to provide "free" services, the deep pockets of the taxpayers are tapped to compete with, and push out, the private sector. They go far beyond the proper role of government which is nothing more than the simple protection of our rights (see Declaration of Independence, second paragraph).

The primary reason for government growth (and the "incumbent advantage") is that we've yet to convince people to refuse to be bribed with their own money. Virtually everything funded by RAP funds is at the request of small special-interest groups and you pass them just to get those few votes. RAP-tax applicants all seem to share the notion that government money is free and endless. Although all of us are taxed to pay for them, I can't think of a single RAP project that serves more than a tiny portion of the people.

Frederic Bastiat said, "Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone."

Harry Browne said, "Would you be willing to give up your favorite federal program if it meant never having to pay the income tax again?"

That "favorite program" concept applies right here in Cedar City. Getting control of government at all levels begins in the city councils and school boards all across this nation.

I prefer the abolition of the RAP tax. But, since a majority of voters seem to want to be bribed with their own money, my second choice to require projects paid with RAP funds to pay their own way with regard to maintenance and overhead. My third choice is that maintenance and overhead expenses of RAP-funded projects must be paid with RAP funds.

My one concern about this proposal is that I doubt that setting aside 10% for maintenance is enough.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

We need congressional action -- not promises on gun rights

In light of the ATF's (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) desire to restrict certain types of ammunition (suspended for now) in common use, it is obvious to me that it is past time for self-described pro-gun congressmen to find a spine and cowboy-up to protect the Second Amendment and the rights it is intended to protect. Political campaign promises and vague pro-gun letters in response to to constituent concerns over gun rights mean absolutely nothing. We need congressmen with courage and integrity to aggressively defend the US Constitution. We need action!

1 - The "sporting use" reference in federal law must be stricken. The Second Amendment clearly is not about sporting use.

2 - Defund enforcement of, then repeal all federal legislation, regulation, policies, and judicial opinions which violate the Second Amendment ("The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.") That'd be a repeal of virtually 100% of current federal firearms law.

3 - There is nothing in the US Constitution that authorizes anything in ATF's mission. The Tenth Amendment clearly states that all of ATF's roles are in the jurisdiction of the States -- not the central government. Therefore, I suggest that all ATF supervision of the manufacture and sale of firearms be immediately turned over to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and that all ATF supervision of firearm and ammunition safety be immediately turned over to the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI). Unlike the ATF, both SAAMI and NSSF have been true experts in the firearms industry for many years. Then defund, then dissolve the ATF.

If Congress would live up to with its mandate given in Article I, Section 1 of the US Constitution ("All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States...") there would be no need to worry about unaccountable bureaucrats making unconstitutional laws as the ATF is wont to do. Why should Congress ever need to introduce legislation to undo the rogue law-making done by bureaucrats? Congress must write all laws itself -- as the Constitution demands!

Join the NRA today!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Modify the Pledge of Allegiance

The United States of America is unusual among nations in that our public officers swear (or affirm) an oath to principles (the US Constitution) rather than to persons (a king or government).

The oath taken by Congress is typical and reads:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
Currently, the rest of us don't pledge such loyalty to the Constitution. Instead, we "...pledge allegiance to the flag..." -- a piece of cloth. According to the United States Flag Code (4 USC § 1), the current Pledge of Allegiance reads:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
That pledge was penned by Francis Bellamy Socialist, a Socialist who apparently placed government and symbols above individual liberty.

I urge Congress to amend 4 USC § 1 to make the Pledge of Allegiance parallel the oath of office taken by public officers and employees:
I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, and to the Republic which it describes: one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
This pledge would continue to be made while saluting the US flag -- a symbol of the republic.