The Libertarian Standard » Totalitarianism Property - Prosperity - Peace Sat, 16 May 2015 17:42:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A new website and group blog of radical Austro-libertarians, shining the light of reason on truth and justice. The Libertarian Standard clean The Libertarian Standard (The Libertarian Standard) CC-BY Property - Prosperity - Peace The Libertarian Standard » Totalitarianism TV-G The Unintended – But Expected – Consequences of Obamacare Fri, 27 Sep 2013 09:54:50 +0000 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare – was expected by economists to cause economic changes.  (Here is the act in a handy 906-page .pdf file.)  Some predicted lower employment, either from employers’ reducing employees’ hours to keep them from being deemed full-time, or simply by firing employees whose marginal productivity isn’t more than the $300+ additional cost, per month, of complying with some of the employer mandates.

Put simply, mandating increased per-employee costs will cause employers to react, and the employees most at risk of losing hours or jobs will be the ones with the lowest productivity:  the minimum-wagers the government says it’s trying to protect.  Any time the government takes control of (more of) an industry, the result inevitably will be unintended consequences. People seek to do what produces the best outcomes for themselves; we are not the static, obedient walking statistics government pretends we are.  We actively seek ways to avoid burdens, because we need to feed our families.

Obamacare provides that employers cannot reduce employee wages to avoid the additional costs imposed on the employers, and every employer with 50 or more employees must participate in providing health care or face punitive fines. Individuals who are not covered by a welfare program (Medicare, Medicaid) or by their employer must purchase their own insurance on the new “health care exchanges” to be set up by the states, or pay a fine along with their income taxes every April 15.  Who are the people who don’t want medical insurance?  Healthy young males, who are expected to pay as much as $5,800 per year, essentially to subsidize health care for the poor and sick.  Their penalties will be far lower than that, at least at first, that we know of.  What do you think they will choose?

Enough about the act.  You can read about it from the links above.  Here are the consequences:

Those of you who told Trader Joe’s you won’t shop there any longer because they’re not covering health care for their part-timers should first read Trader Joe’s explanation (Trader Joe’s will give the employees cash and let them shop for themselves; that way, the employees get a tax break, and at any rate Trader Joe’s can’t offer the giveaway deal the government is forcing on everyone); and second, should be prepared not to shop in very many places any more:  Forbes writes of Walgreen and 17 other large retailers doing the same thing. Worse, 301 employers (that we know of so far) are cutting employee hours and firing people.  The most perverse part of that:  62 of the employers are private-sector, and 239 are government employers, including school districts.  In one survey of small businesses, 41% have delayed hiring, 20% have reduced hours, and 20% have reduced payroll, all because Obamacare would be too burdensome otherwise.

Another unintended consequence of creating government tax-and-spend “giveaways” that (as we saw above) threaten to harm the poor more than the rich:  Fraud.  Obamacare-related scams were and are being predicted—by federal officials, no less.  Thieves are expected to prey on the poor, the old, and the ignorant.  The fear is strong enough that the White House and the Justice Department have felt the need to reassure the public, with DOJ having to build a special initiative around the issue.  Here’s a list of the scams that have already been reported to law enforcement.

Some unintended consequences were not predicted by many, if at all.  Labor unions, the darling of the political left, are stung because they somehow could not foresee that employers would cut hours; and the Obama administration remarkably has refused to add special subsidies for them.

A headline from the notoriously left-leaning Pew research center:  Most uninsured Americans live in states that refuse to offer their own health insurance exchanges.  The people the government claimed it most wanted to help are going to have to use the federal exchanges.  (The real problem here, if you consider it a problem, is those people are the ones least likely to know they can use the federal system.)

Here’s a wild one:  Since Obamacare was enacted in 2010, 21 states have enacted new laws—and the federal government is powerless to stop this—banning private-insurance coverage of abortions.  THAT was certainly unexpected.

Obamacare subsidizes the health care of people who stay below certain income maxima.  The obvious and foreseeable unintended consequence of that, of course, is that some people at the margins will face incentives to earn less.  A dollar of additional income, for some, will mean losing a $5,000 subsidy.  It would be foolish for anyone facing that choice to work an additional hour and lose almost $5,000.

Finally (for now), employers who have just over 50 employees will fire workers to stay below that magic number and avoid the extra burdens, as several of the links above demonstrate.  If a CEO and board of directors will sell their bank, aggressively take the risk of buying other banks, or sell assets to avoid certain burdens that come with size under the Dodd Frank Act, a small business owner whose business feeds his family will certainly fire workers to avoid Obamacare.

There will be more unintended consequences, both expected and unexpected. I’ll stop here.  (Just one more:  To be able to continue to make a profit—i.e., stay in business—insurers are going to limit the insureds’ choices of service providers.)  I’m not even the first person to write about this; many of the links above are to articles with “Obamacare” and “unintended consequences” in their titles.  I’m just the most recent to write about it, so I have the newest data.  Google “unintended consequences of Obamacare” regularly for updates.  The insurance exchanges open October 1, so the coming months will be a busy time for discovering new problems with government medicine (or rediscovering known ones).  We appear doomed to repeat the inescapable history of government intervention proved sour, so we might as well be informed about it.

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On the Boston Lockdown Sat, 20 Apr 2013 20:39:09 +0000 One doesn’t have to be any sort of radical to be appalled that thousands of police, working with federal troops and agents, would “lockdown” an entire city—shutting down public transit, closing virtually all businesses, intimidating anyone from leaving their home, and going door to door with SWAT teams in pursuit of one suspect. The power of the police to “lockdown” a city is an authoritarian, borderline totalitarian power. A “lockdown” is prison terminology for forcing all prisoners into their cells. They did not do this to pursue the DC sniper, or to go after the Kennedy assassin, and I fear the precedent. It is eerie that this happened in an American city, and it should be eerie to you, no matter where you fall on the spectrum. You can tell me that most people in Boston were happy to go along with it, but that’s not really the point, either. If two criminals can bring an entire city to its knees like this with the help of the state, then terrorism truly is a winning strategy. (And we should also keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of the massive police response did not aid in capturing the suspect—it ultimately turned on that old fashioned breakthrough—a normal denizen calling the authorities with information.)

If America suffered a bombing like the Boston Marathon atrocity every week, America would feel like a very different place, although the homicide rate would only be about one percent higher. I acknowledge the maiming was on a mass scale, but this kind of attack has to be taken in perspective in terms of how much of a risk it poses to the average American, because we have to consider what response the people would tolerate in the event of more frequent or far worse attacks.

If the people of the United States will cheer seeing a whole city shut down, even for just a day, in the event of a horrific attack that nevertheless had 1/1000th the fatalities and about two percent of the casualties of 9/11, what would Americans support in light of another 9/11? What about a dirty bomb going off in a major city? The question has nothing to do with what government wants to do, or whether police statism is a goal or simply a consequence. What will the *people* want and expect the government to do if tens of thousands were chaotically killed and injured in a terrible terror attack, or if many small attacks hit the country? I fear they would welcome the abolition of liberty altogether, given their reaction to last night. That, of course, is altogether the wrong response. If we cannot look at the police reaction last night very critically, there is really no hope for even moderate protection of our civil liberties today.

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Drone Rage: A Day Late and a Sequester’d Dollar Short? Wed, 27 Feb 2013 03:51:55 +0000 The brilliant Glenn Greenwald tweeted today:

Must-read from ProPublica: The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About (via @robertgreenwald)

Must reading indeed. Here’s what I don’t get about the drone debate. Why the @#$% did it take so long to start? Admittedly, I’ve grown somewhat numb to the fact that so-called conservatives are attacking the current POTUS about issues that seemed somehow obscure to them when Shrub was manning the con. Still, one would hope that basic human decency would, maybe, cause some kind of reaction to senseless killing of men, women, and children even in the far-away Middle East. Yet, there has been an alarming lack of concern about the drone program before now. Given CIA director nominee John Brennan’s recent cageyness about plans to use drones domestically, everyone is up in arms. The British are coming! One drone if by land! Two drones if by sea!

ProPublica sums it up nicely:

Consider: while four American citizens are known to have been killed by drones in the past decade, the strikes have killed an estimated total of 2,600 to 4,700 people over the same period.

Four American citizens killed–over the past decade–added to the pending plan to deploy drones domestically, signals the apocalypse. Several thousand non-Americans, is, well, another day at the office. One suspects that there are more than a few Americans who think such action is warranted, particularly since we’re “at war” with Al Qaeda or some such.  Really? Well then, how to reconcile this little tidbit?

“What about the people who [are killed and] aren’t U.S. citizens and who aren’t on a [known terrorist] list?” asks Naureen Shah , a human rights and counterterrorism expert at Columbia Law School. Of the few thousand people killed, Shah notes, “it’s hard to believe all of these people are senior operational leaders of Al Qaeda.

Indeed. Are there really several thousand Al Qaeda “senior operational leaders” in Yemen and/or Pakistan? No. Furthermore, the standard for deciding to deploy a deadly drone strike is, shall we say, remarkably, embarrassingly  disgustingly, low.  U.S. officials are using what is termed a “‘reasonable man’ standard.” Let us again return to ProPublica, because I cannot say it better.

Asked what the standard is for who could be hit, former Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter recently told an interviewer: “The definition is a male between the ages of 20 and 40. My feeling is one man’s combatant is another man’s – well, a chump who went to a meeting.

So, there you have it. Certainly, this author won’t be confused with a military strategist any time soon, but one feels pretty safe in saying that is not a defensible standard for deciding who dies. We can certainly be excited that people like Rachel Maddow are asking hard questions about drone deployment given Brennan’s pending confirmation. However, just like the Tea Party’s tardy recognition of fascism under the previous statist Czar, it just strikes me as a little late, now that we’re all enjoying the audacity of hope.

Better late than never I guess!

…cross-posted at the LRCBlog.

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Unipartisanship is the new bipartisanship Fri, 30 Nov 2012 22:05:58 +0000 Romney bans certain kinds of guns; Obama supports war and Bush-era doctrines; Romney enacts (even more) socialist-fascist health care; Obama has a near opaque administration in spite of the desire to be transparent.

The so-called “left” promotes a policy (say, universal healthcare or the individual mandate or the health care exchanges). The “right” opposes it. The opposition is usually superficial and us used as talking points to obtain votes. The object of power is power, after all. Assuming the policy becomes law, and assuming (as is often the case) it receives widespread support, the right becomes less vociferous about repealing the law. At best they want to reform; usually either nothing happens or the mildest of cosmetic changes are made, if only to appease the fringe party supporters. Today’s progressive, becomes tomorrow’s conservative. Already, for example, the financially devastating Obamacare that was such a hot topic a year ago is starting to go away in the eyes of most–that is, if you don’t have a business facing ever-higher health care costs. Soon the right will stop talking about repealing it or replacing it with something else. Florida governor Rick Scott, who initially opposed setting up the FL healthcare exchange, has changed his tune–how unexpected!

On the other “side” of the political spectrum, the totalitarian and warmongering right wing, whose most recent icon and trend setter is GWB, pushes for war and empire and crackdowns on civil liberties. The left claims to oppose it. When Bush II was in power the progressives, ever irate, regaled us with their smugness (and, as we now know, insincere) opposition to the Bush administration’s policies and tactics. Enter a democratic president. Oh my–what happened!? Suddenly Obama adopts and relishes in continuing core Bush doctrines as well as expanding into new territories of despotism: droning and NDAA come to mind. Today’s warmongering conservative is tomorrow warmongering progressive.

I for one welcome our new unipartisanship overlords.

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Reality-Checking Che Fri, 21 Sep 2012 04:30:37 +0000 I have never understood the popular infatuation with Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Argentine-born Marxist revolutionary who instigated socialist revolts in three countries, or why people would want to wear clothing emblazoned with his face.  The man was a mass murderer, after all, and the architect (along with Fidel Castro) of the communist police state that rules Cuba to this day.  Unless one believes murder, wealth seizure and destruction, and the abrogation of civil liberties are justified means to political ends, why would anyone want to celebrate a person who engaged in all of these atrocities?

Thor Halvorssen, founder of the Human Rights Foundation, doesn’t understand it either, and in an open letter to Urban Outfitters published on Huffington Post this week, he questions the company’s reasons for offering Che-themed merchandise:

Although Guevara’s image has appeared on countless items for consumption over the last few decades as a symbol of change for the better, Guevara’s actual record is that of a brutal tyrant who suppressed individual freedom in Cuba and murdered those who challenged his worldview.

Guevara undoubtedly played a key role in the overthrow of the dictatorial Batista regime in January of 1959. However, despite promises of a new democratic government, within a few months he and Fidel Castro had designed and installed a full-blown police state that deprived the overwhelming majority of Cuban citizens of democracy and human rights.

From 1959 to 1960, the new government carried out summary executions of at least 1,118 people by firing squad. Guevara himself presided over the notorious La Cabaña prison, where hundreds of the executions took place. For comparison’s sake, the Batista regime was responsible for 747 noncombatant deaths between 1952 and 1959. The Cuban revolution under the direction of Guevara also saw the rise of forced labor camps which gave way a few years later to full-scale concentration camps. These were filled with dissidents, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Afro-Cuban priests, and anyone else who had committed “crimes” against the new moral revolution.

Note: it appears that Urban Outfitters no longer carries the poster that prompted Halvorssen’s letter.

It’s not just Urban Outfitters, of course; many companies over the decades have offered Che’s mug on everything from key chains to jackets to backpacks, snapped up primarily by college kids who dig the rebellious motif, or by hipsters who appreciate the irony of a leftist revolutionary icon being used to enrich filthy capitalist pigs.  Either way, Halvorssen’s letter is a welcome reality check.

Just so long as they don’t start selling Obama T-shirts.

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The Indignity of Airport Security: Will It Ever End? Sat, 01 Sep 2012 01:12:01 +0000 As I sat on one of those metal benches, retying my shoes after enduring yet another near-cavity search courtesy the TSA, something both rather obvious and rather sad dawned on me. It is, in fact, the answer to the question that heads this post, and that answer, by the way, is “No.” As a matter of fact, “Hell no.” As I sat there, I contemplated how much more intrusive the searches could get before the public rose up and said, “Enough!” Simultaneously, a conversation I had enjoyed with a fellow traveler as we stood in a very long line at the Monroe County (Rochester) International Airport rolled around in my head.

She had quipped, as we inched closer to our turn in the scanner, “I’m just glad that we haven’t had a bra bomber yet.” We laughed, but it was more out of pain than humor. She and I both knew that we were experiencing a real-life reenactment of the Stanford Prison Experiment, and that things would get worse–likely a lot worse–before they got better. (And that’s making the very large assumption, an assumption I might characterize as a pipe dream, that things will ever get better.)

As an aside, and just to provide some context for my conclusion, I recall talking to an executive from ExxonMobil 10 to 15 years ago. It was at that time when gas prices had just begun to creep up to levels that before then had seemed unthinkable. As I recall, the highest they had been was nearing $1.50/gallon, although that figure is just a guess. As I whined about the prices and how people would cope, he calmly asked me: “Wilt, do you think prices are at the highest level they could reach while people still buy lots of gas?” I thought about it a minute and had to conclude he was correct. Gas could (and probably would) far exceed that price level without any real reaction from the public, except whining as they drove their SUVs 35 miles to work alone. The same logic is true of the practices at Airport Security Theatre.

At what point do you think people would refuse to endure more? I submit that TSA could install curtains, with TSA-employed nurse practitioners and physician assistants performing very thorough “security checks” and all we’d have is longer lines. Shucks, people might begin to use the occasion for informal check-ups! I can hear the conversations now. “Bill, how are those hemorrhoids?” “Feels good Stan, and we’ll see what the nurse says at Airport Security next week. I’m flying on business.”

Coincidentally to all this thinking, I was in the midst of reading R. Dwayne Betts’ “A Question of Freedom.” It is a prison memoir of a young man sentenced to 10 years, spending much of it in maximum security prisons–and in “the hole” much of that time–for car jacking someone as a teenager. While Betts’ story is fascinating for a number of reasons, what struck me most viscerally was this statement he makes in a chapter entitled, “Prison 101…” Says Betts, “Prison life is a series of small indignities that you’re made to adapt to.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Cross-Posted at LRCBlog.

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The TSA is Wasteful, Unhealthy, and Unnecessary Wed, 14 Mar 2012 19:47:56 +0000 The Transportation Security Administration has demonstrated over and over again that they cannot be trusted with neither your personal liberty nor with your health. This infographic gives an excellent description of why and how they fail. (Cross-posted at

TSA Waste
Created by:

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SOPA, Piracy, Censorship and the End of the Internet? Kinsella and Stefan Molyneux on Freedomain Radio Thu, 22 Dec 2011 19:07:11 +0000 Stefan Molyneux interviewed me yesterday for his Freedomain Radio program about the evil Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. We discussed the First Amendment violations of and other problems with SOPA.

Podcast at KOL127.

(And check out Youtube’s cool “snowflake” feature.)


]]> 0 Stefan Molyneux interviewed me yesterday for his Freedomain Radio program about the evil Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. We discussed the First Amendment violations of and other problems with SOPA. - Podcast at KOL127. Stefan Molyneux interviewed me yesterday for his Freedomain Radio program about the evil Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. We discussed the First Amendment violations of and other problems with SOPA. Podcast at KOL127. (And check out Youtube's cool "snowflake" feature.) [c4sif] Stephan Kinsella clean <iframe width="290" height="30" src=";powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>
Down with Gatekeepers: Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration vs. Internet Freedom Tue, 06 Dec 2011 20:29:47 +0000 Last year, in Hillary Clinton’s Historic Speech on Global Internet Freedom, Adam Thierer praised Hillary Clinton for a speech drawing

a bold line in the cyber-sand regarding exactly where the United States stands on global online freedom. Clinton’s answer was unequivocal: “Both the American people and nations that censor the Internet should understand that our government is committed to helping promote Internet freedom.” “The Internet can serve as a great equalizer,” she argued. “By providing people with access to knowledge and potential markets, networks can create opportunities where none exist.”

But of course this is a complete sham. The fedgov and the Obama administration may not like it when other oppressive regimes restrict their own subjects’ access to technology, when this is contrary the American state’s geopolitical “interests,” but the cekatS1 is not at all in favor of Internet freedom. Witness the relentless push to keep increasing copyright law and its insidious effect on Internet freedom. Thus, Obama signed the horrible ACTA (probably unconstitutionally),2 and his administration is also: using other trade agreements to export the draconian DMCA-type copyright provisions to other countries;3 and has proposed to expand “tough” enforcement of copyright, including wiretaps4 and other legislation to curb “piracy” on the Internet.5 And it’s why

U.S. Copyright Czar and Obama administration officials secretly cooperate with Hollywood, recording industry and ISPs to disrupt internet access for users suspected of violating copyright law … Obama administration’s cozy relationship with Hollywood and the music industry’s lobbying arms and its early support for the copyright-violation crackdown system publicly announced in July.6

And it’s why we have the looming threat of SOPA,7 which endangers Internet freedom, which, as I’ve noted before, is one of the most important tools available in the fight against the state.8  And it’s why the cekatS wants to control and restrict it. And it’s doing so, cleverly if perversely, in the name of (intellectual) “property rights” and fighting “piracy”. And who can doubt Obama will sign SOPA if Congress puts it on his desk? (Even though Vice-Thug and IP Poobah Biden hypocritcally spoke out against SOPA type provisions recently.)

And it’s why the Obama administration has seized websites to censor Wikileaks. And ICE has seized hundreds of domains in the name of stopping piracy and at the behest of the MPAA, in addition to other ICE domain seizures in the name of stopping child pornography (“Operation Protect Our Children“–What do you mean “our,” kemosabe?).

No one can seriously think that the central state, or the Obama administration, is in favor of Internet freedom.

As for Hillary Clinton’s lies and claims to be for global Internet freedom despite being part of an administration hell bent on destroying it, her true views were revealed long ago, in 1998 in the wake of the Drudge Report breaking the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, in response to a question by reporters  Hillary Clinton was asked by reporters whether she favored curbs on the Internet. Her response:
We’re all going to have to rethink how we deal with the Internet. As exciting as these new developments are, there are a number of serious issues without any kind of editing function or gatekeeping function9 And, as Thierer notes in his piece, Hillary Clinton also said “We are all going to have to rethink how we deal with [the Internet], because there are all these competing values. Without any kind of editing function or gatekeeping function, what does it mean to have the right to defend your reputation?” Note here how IP (reputation rights are a type of IP) is once more at the root of the threat to the Internet (one reason I have concluded that copyright is even worse than patent). Of course the political elites–the real 1%–and the Big Media they are in cahoots with, hate the lack of the official “gatekeeper” function. They hate the Internet, social media, talk radio, podcasting, cell phones, twitter, and video cameras.

Update: see Democrats and “Internet Freedom”.

  1. Bill Stepp’s acronymous term for the state: cekatS = “criminal entity known as the State.” Other funny ones are “conjob” for Constitution, and “crookopolies” for monopolies. 

  2. ACTA, Executive Agreements, and the Bricker Amendment

  3. Free-trade pacts export U.S. copyright controls

  4. Copyright Enforcement, Now Featuring Wiretaps! 

  5. White House will propose new digital copyright laws

  6. Wired article, U.S. Copyright Czar Cozied Up to Content Industry, E-Mails Show

  7. Die, SOPA, Die

  8. The Ominous PROTECT IP Act and the End of Internet Freedom; Patent vs. Copyright: Which is Worse?; Internet Access as a Human Right

  9. Quoted in Government Gatekeepers Come After the Internet; see also No Gatekeepers; Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Understand The Constitution

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TLS Podcast Picks: Aaron Burr vs. Jefferson, Lew Rockwell vs. Parasite Tue, 06 Dec 2011 15:16:14 +0000 Recommended podcasts:

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