Saturday, November 10, 2012


It is a common misconception that it is the failure of the free market that has left millions of people without proper medical care, when in fact, it is the free market that would deliver the best care at the lowest cost without infringing on anyone's natural rights. The failed system we have in place now is a result of constant government intervention and its manipulation of the market. But before explaining the free market solution, I think it is important to understand the true role the government has played in mismanaging American health care.

The birth of "modern medicine" began in the late 19th century with the introduction of allopathic care, which relied heavily on surgical procedures and the use of medication. This differed greatly from the popular homeopathic care of the time that used natural remedies that were in abundance and available at low cost. At that time, health costs were kept low because both forms of medicine competed against one another on the open market and many doctors were allowed to enter the medical field.

The American Medical Association, which was given the power by the government to give out doctor licenses, knew that with more doctors entering the profession the average salary for a doctor would decrease. In order to increase doctor salaries they needed to limit the number of doctors able to practice. The AMA looked to take advantage of their government induced monopoly on the practice of medicine, and with the financial help of John D Rockefeller, who saw the potential profit that could be earned with allopathic care, financed the Flexner Report.

The Flexner Report called on American medical schools to enact higher admission and graduation standards in the name of the "greater good" but actually began the cartelization of the American medical profession...a cartelization enforced by the American Medical Association and backed by the police power of each American state.

As a result of the report:
  • Tuition for medical school was raised to the point that only upper-class white males could attend.
  • Half of all medical schools were closed, which included medical schools that trained doctors willing to charge patients less, or that adjusted their fees based on what patients could afford.
  • The number of applicants accepted to medical schools was cut in half.
  • Homeopathic care, the cheapest form of treatment, was dismissed as quackery and was not allowed to be taught in medical schools.

With less competition in the medical industry, the remaining doctors began charging more than most individuals could easily pay. To make matters worse, the Great Depression, which was caused by the failure of the government's central banking system, drove people into worse poverty and left them unable to afford medical care.

As a result, Blue Cross, a nonprofit health insurer, was established and insured everyone regardless of age, sex or pre-existing conditions. They were only able to do this though because of governmental tax credits, which later influenced other insurers to enter the market. But by offering low premiums, brought on by these tax credits, the government manipulated the market, creating a surplus in demand that would not have initially been there. The rise in consumption led to a scarcity in resources, which inevitably led to higher premiums and a reduction of coverage.

By the 1940s World War 2 was in full swing and the United States government took control over the economy and implemented wartime wage controls. Since businesses were no longer allowed to give raises, they began to compete for labor by offering health insurance plans. Like the insurance companies, government began subsidizing these company plans with tax breaks. With medical costs rising due to higher premiums from insurance companies, people relied on employment to afford healthcare. As a result, the pairing of health insurance and employment was born. Since large companies tend to employ significantly more young people than old people, the elderly were left uninsured and unable to pay their medical bills. The result was that people who really needed health care had an increasingly difficult time affording it.

People mistakenly did not see this as a problem caused by government intervention but as a failure of the free market. A progressive movement began to form, and looked to Congress to implement a system of socialized medicine for the elderly and the poor. By 1965 Congress created Medicare and Medicaid and overnight millions of Americans lost all financial responsibility for their health-care decisions.

Congress placed no restrictions on benefits and removed all sense of cost-consciousness. While the poor and the elderly were receiving "free" care, they were creating shortages in doctors and supplies causing the cost of health insurance for the rest of America to skyrocket. Within 6 years the nation's health-care bill nearly doubled in cost. To curb some of the cost Congress began to restrict reimbursements to physicians and offered fixed prepayments to hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies, no matter what costs they incurred. Congress had initiated managed care.

Despite these efforts, the cost continued to rise, outraging Americans who now began to demand socialized health care for all. Why should some get a free ride while others suffer? But the American government was going broke under the current system. So instead of acting responsibly and opening up healthcare to the free market, Congress opted instead for deception and created HMOs. (Once again most people blame the free market for the creation of HMOs when it was actually the government that implemented them.)

The government's long range plan was to take the responsibility of health care off of them and put it into the hands of corporations. But since medical care for the elderly is so expensive, Congress had to make sure that there were enough young healthy people in the HMO system to offset the cost of the elder's medical bills. Through a system of tax credits and subsidies to HMOs, they were able to capture a significant portion of the private insurance market. Once Medicare and Medicaid recipients were herded into HMOs, the organizations would have the flexibility to pool their resources, redistribute private premium dollars, and ration care across their patient populations.

Which leads us to today where corporations now second guess a doctor's treatment so they can refuse medical care, increase profits, and drive a permanent wedge between the doctor and the patient. This is not freedom, this is corporatism placed into power by governmental authority. But even with over 100 years of mismanaged care, people still look to the government as the solution not the problem.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


"Some people win the lottery; other people grow sugar."

With government intervention and handouts at their highest in years, it is no wonder that the American business industry has adopted the belief that they should use big government at the population's expense. As a result, in the name of defending American businesses, the government subsidizes well connected industries through tariffs and import quotas on foreign goods. But while this may seem noble, it is in fact destroying the American economy. Even when we look at smaller industries, such as the sugar cane industry, where there are roughly 10,000 sugar farmers in America, we can see how government intervention has lowered the standard of living in the United States.

In most cases, FDR's New Deal marks the beginning of big government intervention into the free market system. Sugar subsidies, of course, fall into this category and have lasted through even the most "conservative" presidencies. After a brief time of relaxed government intervention in the late seventies, it was Ronald Reagan who reinstated sugar import quotas creating an artificial shortage of sugar. These quotas allow domestic sugar growers to raise their prices due to the lack of competition in the market.

As a result, compared to international sugar prices, Congress has put American sugar prices on a level with the Goodyear blimp floating high above Yankee Stadium, adding $3 billion dollars to consumer's food bills per year.

But while sugar farmers reap the benefits, businesses that use sugar are hemorrhaging money. Some American businesses, such as Coke and Pepsi, abandoned using sugar and replaced it with high fructose corn syrup. The quota program drove sugar prices so high that it wreaked havoc on the market for sugar.

Domestic candy companies now found it almost impossible to compete with foreign prices and as a result began relocating their factories to foreign countries. Also, the high price of sugar has driven up the price of domestic farmland causing difficulty for unsubsidized farmers to find affordable land. In total the high price of sugar has destroyed almost 9,000 U.S. jobs in food manufacturing alone. In total, American jobs lost exceed the number of American sugar farmers.

Not only are these trade reductions hurting the wallets of Americans but they are also hurting the economic prosperity of foreign nations. To help Third World countries, like the Philippines, hurt by these embargoes, President Reagan created a new foreign-aid program to give them free food but in turn making it more difficult for local farmers to replace sugar with other crops. As an example, lets say the U.S. sends them free wheat. By flooding foreign markets with free "wheat," the U.S. inadvertently destroys the local Philippine "wheat" farmers' hope for competing in the market and eventually driving them out of business.

Other more profitable countries retaliated against the United States by reducing their purchase of American goods. Brazil reduced the amount of American grain they purchase and the Dominican Republic, former sugar growers, are now producing their own wheat and corn, providing more competition for American farmers.

These subsidies also have negative environmental effects, encouraging sugar production in fragile areas such as the Everglades. But instead of ending these subsidies, Congress voted to spend millions of tax payer dollars to clean up the Everglades and buy back sugar cane fields from farmers. This, of course, reducing the amount of sugar available to the consumer, which then again raises the price even further.

So, how are sugar farmers able to take such advantage of the American population through government interference? The answer is that the benefits are concentrated while the costs are dispersed. While the small sugar industry collects more than $3 billion dollars a year from these benefits, it only costs each individual American roughly $50 a year. An amount so small that it is not worth the time, money, and energy to battle both the Sugar Cane and Corn Syrup Lobby. (Let us not forget that the High Fructose Corn Syrup industry has benefited substantially from being able to raise their prices due to an increase in demand for HFCS.)

Multiply this modest example by about a million, to account for all of the other countless predatory schemes taking place, and the American citizen is being taken for thousands of dollars a year. Money, which I might add, that could have gone into a countless number of other industries and inventions to improve our standard of living.

It is important that we understand that free trade is extremely important to a healthy economy. Contact your representatives and make sure they understand the adverse effects of government intervention. If we don't act fast the only place unsubsidized farmers will be able to farm is on Farmville!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I have my friend's wedding to go to this weekend and everybody knows what that means...OPEN BAR! But before the festivities begin we must endure the nuptials brought to you by your local town government. As we all know it isn't a marriage without the perfect combination of love and state regulation. And just think less than a century ago it was only unromantic.

For most of Western history, marriage was a private contract between two families. Sure sometimes some land or livestock would be worked into the deal, but the government never got involved. Churches would take the word of the couple if they claimed to have exchanged vows, and signatures and blood tests were not required. Even up until the mid-19th century, US state supreme courts routinely ruled that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage.

But as we entered the 20th century, government began to be more intrusive into our personal lives. They knew what was best for Americans...and since government regulation is nothing but fair and just, they began to exert more control over who was allowed to marry. By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from interracial marriage and twelve states would not issue a marriage license if one partner was a drunk, an addict, had a social disease, or was a "mental defect."

The marriage laws and license requirements of many states originated from the ideas of eugenics. Such ideas had the support of scientists like Linus Pauling, who advocated that people with genetic defects be denied marriage licenses. He even went so far as to recommend that people with sickle cell anemia have their foreheads stamped to identify their condition so that no one would mate with them, thus eradicating the disease. As it became clear that the science of eugenics was highly suspect, often racist, and completely insane, the laws and restrictions were relaxed.

But the damage had been done. Instead of repealing the marriage license law, the government changed the laws purpose and used it to distribute benefits to marriages they deemed worthy. (In our case, these were only marriages between one man and one woman.) Corporations and employers were now able to hide behind these laws and deny health insurance or pension benefits to employees' dependents. Courts and hospitals now required a marriage license before granting couples the privilege of inheriting from each other or receiving medical information, no matter how long the couple had been together. And worst of all, Social Security savings would now disappear into government pockets if there was not a legal surviving spouse to inherit them. Goldie Hawn better hope and pray the money from Sky High will be able to support her when Kurt Russell is gone.

By allowing the state to exercise control over marriage, it is implied that we do not have a right to marry...marriage is only a privilege. And as recently as 2009, the power to license was still being used in attempts to block interracial marriages. Somehow only the government repeatedly gets away with this kind of blatant discrimination, and is never questioned about the laws original intent. Corporations, on the other hand, have begun to allow non-married partners to receive benefits, with proof of a joint bank account and residency. The government is usually decades behind the private sector, still not even allowing openly gay people into the military.

But if consenting adults wish to call themselves married let them, but no one has the right, especially the government, to impose their views onto someone else. We need to promote individualism and freedom. We need to take away the government's power to divide us. But most importantly, we need to make sure that the government upholds and enforces private legal contracts. Contracts granting partners rights that are so easily denied by this law. Non-marital relationship contracts are not limited to two people, and because these contracts are private any number of people can be a party to them, no matter their race, religion or sexual preference.

By only expanding the definition of marriage under government regulation, we are only expanding a broken and unfair welfare system. Government benefits, especially those that involve money, only pits citizens against one another. Government cleverly uses this to keep us divided so we are left in an endless debate over natural rights at the tax payer's expense, instead of debating about sound monetary and foreign policy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

From the people who brought you such great hits as the aqueduct, roads, and the public bath (woohoo), came one other lesser known hit…out of control government spending!

Rome, a once modest village that rose to rule over 120 million people and stretch across 2.5 million square miles, was brought to its knees by out of control spending, heavy taxation, and, of course, inflation.

Inflation started rising early in the Roman Empire, but the steady influx of gold from newly conquered lands kept government spending afloat. They were able to build extravagant buildings of pure marble, have a vast standing army of 500,000, and afford huge salaries for their bureaucrats. Let us also not forget that there was the price of keeping the citizens happy and distracted with ridiculous events and poorly computer animated fights between Russell Crowe and tigers.

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Come on! So lame!

Eventually the Roman Empire expanded their territory all the way into the Persian Gulf (modern day Iran and Iraq). But those lousy Persians wanted their land back and kept attacking poor Rome for it. Rome even struggled with invasions from northern barbaric Huns. So even though Rome was not expanding, it had to maintain its very large and very expensive army. But without more gold coming into the system, the Romans did what any self-respecting empire would do…tax the hell out of the population. (And by population I mean, everyone but the army and the civil servants.)

Rome had always had a tax but at first it was very minimal. As the costs of maintaining the Imperial army grew, so did the tax burden. Heavy taxes led people to flee their land, evade taxes, lose their homes, and lose their jobs.

Tax revenue started to fall dramatically, so instead of cutting back, Rome manufactured more money and inflated their currency. Their coin, the Denarius, which at one point in the early times of the empire was 90% percent silver, fell to .5% in two centuries. Prices rose dramatically, and in some cases more than 15,000 percent. When price controls were implemented a greater recession followed.

The result was that the government, in order to protect its civil servants and its soldiers from the effects of inflation, began to demand payment of taxes in services rather than in “silver” coin from the working class. (Nothing like a little slavery to bring the empire together.) Roman coin had become so worthless that the government that printed it wouldn’t even accept it as payment.

With the mass of the population of Rome now suffering, and the economy failing, barbarian invasion was a blessing…and an easy victory for the Huns was inevitable. Well done!

Thankfully, today we live in a country that spends within its means, does not have extravagant social programs, does not get entangled in nation building (especially in the Persian Gulf), does not overuse their military, does not overtax, and does not inflate their currency. Oh wait.

We’re so screwed.

On a lighter note, here is my version of the Roman Persian War. I call it The Battle of the Sepia Tone Posters. Who will win?

Thursday, October 15, 2009


“Pearls are not valuable because men dive for them…
men dive for them because pearls are valuable.”

It’s pretty scary to think that the United States dollar is not backed by gold, silver or anything precious or valuable. It is in fact, only worth the paper that it is printed on, and the only reason we accept its value is because enough people believe it to be worth something. This is called a fiat currency, where the power and the value of the dollar is determined by the central bank that prints it.

There is an inherent flaw in the fiat currency system though. If too many dollars are printed we face hyperinflation, where all perceived value of the dollar is lost and they become less valuable than the latest Hanson CD. This is the problem that we face today as the value of our dollar plummets.

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It hasn’t always been this way. Our Founding Fathers knew the flaws of a centralized banking system and wanted to keep the nation's wealth in the hands of the people. This meant that if everyone used gold and silver pieces to trade, instead of a central bank note, it would deter banks from running on a fractional reserve banking system. FRB, for short, would give banks the ability to loan out or print more money then the gold they have in their vaults. If we stuck to the Founder's system, gold and silver pieces would be inflation proof and counterfeit proof.

Through the Constitution and the Coinage Act of 1792, the Founders set up a system where they defined dollars to be gold and silver coins, and allowed only Congress the power to coin money. Only these minted coins would be deemed "lawful money," meaning that promissory notes or demand notes (today’s version of dollars) were unlawful.

The government was able to keep to these standards for at least a few decades. But in order to finance the Civil War, Lincoln reeled in coins and replaced them with the infamous greenbacks. The value of the dollar plummeted and it wasn’t until after the war, when the government began to reissue coins, that the buying power of the dollar increased.

In order for paper money to have value, it must be a legally binding document or contract. That’s what all the writing and funky signatures on the bill are for. But when looking at a bill you should pay close attention to the wording of it.

Between the Civil War and 1914, there were several versions of paper money with several different agreements, but when the Federal Reserve Bank, a “private” central bank, opened its doors in 1914 they began printing money with this contract on it:

"This note is receivable by all National Banks and Federal Reserve Banks for taxes and public dues. It is redeemable in gold on demand at the treasury department in Washington or in gold coin or lawful money at any Federal Reserve Bank."

If dollars can be exchanged for lawful money, then they are not lawful money. They are a loan, a promissory note, an IOU. They are a contract that gives the Federal Reserve the full power to inflate the dollar, and does not guarantee any set amount of gold in return.

Today's dollars have been further revised to not allow the exchange of notes to lawful money.


By the 1920s Fractional Reserve Banking was in full effect. Banks, backed by the Federal Reserve's notes, loaned out too much money, creating a financial bubble that would soon burst and result in many bank failures. (Sound familiar?) To stimulate the shrinking economy, FDR sent the printing presses into overdrive and confiscated all of the circulating gold coins. Under Executive Order 6102, it became illegal for citizens to have any gold coin, bullion or certificate. The seized gold would become the infamous gold housed in the Federal Reserve vaults.

At the time of the confiscation it cost $21 to buy an ounce of gold, and immediately after, it became $35 per ounce. Already the purchasing power of the dollar was declining. In all, 11 billion dollars were exchanged for all 261,000,000 ounces of gold.

Complete control of the gold supply was now in the hands of the Federal Reserve, exactly what our Founding Fathers were trying to avoid. World war and depression raged on throughout the globe and, in order to provide a foundation for global recovery, a conference was held in Bretton Woods, NH in 1944 by all 44 major allied powers. At the conference it was recognized that the US represented half of the global economy, and it would be for the world’s best interest to make the US dollar the global reserve currency to make trade easier between nations. This was great for the Unite States, because in order to trade, all countries had to buy dollars at its $35 per ounce rate, resulting in a US economic boom. But there was nothing in the Bretton Woods agreement that stopped the Federal Reserve from issuing more Federal Reserve Notes.

In only a few decades, countries began to question how we were possibly able to finance our unending wars overseas. In order to fund the Vietnam War, the US ran huge budget deficits and started flooding the economy with paper dollars. The French, under President Charles de Gaulle, became suspicious that the United States could not back the money supply with gold, and began trading in their surplus of dollars for gold.

In 1971, the United States Treasury's gold stocks began to decline at an alarming rate and, in order to save our reserves, Nixon declared a force majeure, unilaterally breaking us from the Bretton Woods agreement. He had officially closed the gold window, and would no longer allow anyone to redeem their dollars for gold. We were now completely severed from the gold system. Without gold backing our dollar, there was no limit to how many Federal Reserve notes could be printed.

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It took our country 300 hundred years, from the first pilgrim until 1973, to generate the first trillion dollars of money stock. The most recent trillion dollars was generated in the past four and a half months. Before our dollar completely crashes, we need to put an end to our out of control spending. We need to take back control of our dollar, and put it back in the hands of the United States citizens. And, above all else, we need to put an end to the Federal Reserve.

There is hope. The rules that were outlined in the Constitution still stand. There has been no amendment to repeal them. The Coinage Act is held in a state of suspension by laws that are both unconstitutional and illegal. We have ended central banks in the past and we can do it again. New currency can be phased in as the Federal Note is phased out. The introduction of the euro is proof of it.

Right now there is a bill, HR 1207, in Congress to audit the Fed. Contact your representatives and make sure that they are supporting this bill. This is the first step to change we can actually believe in.

These guys are awesome!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


After writing my last blog, I was in the mood for a high calorie, all American meal. I hopped into my car and headed for those golden arches. Upon receiving my meal, (calorie count unknown) I was happy to see Rich Uncle Pennybags staring up at me with his ridiculous mustache and snazzy top hat! It was time for the McDonald’s annual Monopoly Game! Hell friggin' yeah!

Monopoly, a game of monetary and property domination usually played by people who can’t run their own lives, is as boring to read about as it is frustrating to play.

Even the iconic metal player pieces have little to no story behind them. They are just leftover garbage from miniature toy companies and other failed Parker Brothers games that George and Charles incorporated into Monopoly. But what you might not have known is that the British Secret Service, during WW2, sent this game to prisoners being held by Nazis, with maps, compasses and real money hidden inside. (I guess files baked into cakes were a little too obvious.) But since I took the time to read about its history, I might as well keep a blog log of it.

The history of Monopoly dates back to 1904, when a Quaker named Magie Phillips created “the Landlord’s Game,” proving that Quakers really suck at coming up with titles. The concept behind the game was to explain that privately owned land, enriched the property owners and impoverished tenants. (This was a Georgist philosophy where people believed that the government should own all the land instead and rent it out to the citizens.) Knowing that this concept would be far too difficult to explain, she crafted its lessons into a long drawn out game where it’s meaning would never fade or be forgotten?

Socialists, for some crazy reason, loved the game and spread it’s message and game play across the land. (If there is one thing I know about socialists...they have an unrelenting competitive nature.)

Soon, other people started making their own versions. Daniel Layman sold his version under an equally horrible name “The Fascinating Game of Finance.” And Charles Darrow learned the game and repackaged it again changing the name to “Monopoly," which now included Atlantic City street names.

Parker Brothers, after rejecting all versions of the game, eventually saw it’s popularity grow and proceeded to buy the rights to all three versions ironically giving them a monopoly over the game "Monopoly."


Oh yeah...if anyone turns up with Park Place, I'll go halves with you cause I just got Boardwalk....BOOYAH!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


It should be no surprise to anyone that more government regulation has failed once again. Their latest scheme to keep fat people thin by requiring restaurants to post their calorie counts has failed. With thousands of tax dollars spent to put this into effect, new studies point out that this did not change consumers' waist lines at all. But even if it did, is this what we want to spend our money on, social engineering and behavioral changes? That is a little too 1984 for me.

Now I always thought that the government’s primary function was to prevent people from harming each other, whether by force or by fraud. But in the past century, we have been misled to believe that the government’s job is to stop us from making bad decisions, and to demonize anyone that tempts us with anything more than a celery stick. Why take personal responsibility when it is so much easier to point your fat finger?

But the truth is that if a restaurant doesn’t share nutritional information with you, you are not being harmed – you’re just not getting what you want. If you believe you can’t make healthy choices without that information, you are free to take your business elsewhere. The restaurants know this, so it’s in their interest to keep you happy. That’s why nutrition information is easily available online and in pamphlets – because enough customers demanded it, not because politicians did.

Meanwhile, these laws force restaurants to conduct a lot of expensive lab tests on their food to determine all the calorie counts, which in turn drives up prices. The end result, of course, is that not only are your taxes increased but you’ll pay more for your restaurant meals and fat people will still be just as fat.* This of course, like most regulations, hurt the lower and middle class pocketbooks much more than the upper class. But f*ck em, who cares about that 90% of the population...right? The politicians get to feel good about themselves, and that’s all that really matters.

But whether it’s menu labeling, soda taxes, or something as ridiculous as salt shaker bans, regulators seem dead-set on destroying our freedom as consumers. And if America continues down this road and does to the food industry what it did to the tobacco industry, you can find me down in the sewer with Sylvester Stallone and Denis Leary eating a nice juicy rat burger.

You can look up nutrition information for hundreds of restaurants on this web site, which somebody took the time to create without any interference by politicians.

* I think it is important to note that calorie based diets work roughly 1% of the time and usually leads to weight gain. People can watch their calories all they want but what they should strive for is a well balanced nutritional diet. Let's face it, the bigger you are the more calories your body needs for fuel. And for fat people if they are insulin-resistant, meaning their bodies produce a higher level of insulin to keep their blood surgar down, their bodies end up storing calories as fat and not using them as fuel. Cutting back on calories for one meal at McDonald's will only lead you to crash and then binge later on that day...eating just as much if not more calories.