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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Somewhere in this country (I cannot be bothered to remember if it is Chicago proper, Cook County or Illinois State) the police have decided that women are better served to defend themselves with girly items like rat-tail combs (those haircombs from the 50s with the long pointy end that I have not seen for sale in like 10 years) and their own puke. Heaven forfend that we actually destigmatise firearms and firearms training for women. We’ve been talking about this over at Aunt B.’s for the last day or so, and as usual Exador and I are the main ones taking up the Libertarian arguments. Fortunately this is one issue where the sweet liberals are willing to concede that we crazed freedom monkeys may have at least part of a point.

The yellow road where our two roads seem to be diverging is in the idea of Who Decides The Rights of Stupid People. This is what pains me about being a libertarian, because those who know me personally know that nothing makes me as crazed as stupid people; people who put on eyeliner while they’re driving, who only read books recommended by Oprah, who think that being gay is a reason to treat another human being with cruelty. I have no tolerance for stupidity at all.

It pains me to argue liberty on behalf of stupid people. If I had my way all of the Stupid of the world would be sat down for a stern talking-to by my mother. That’d either sort them out for good or scare them into never again revealing their stupidity outside their home. A few years back, though, I began to notice something.

No matter how smart a person is, there is always someone who thinks that person is stupid.

Take me for instance. I think I’m a pretty smart fellow all in all. Yet I work from home. Right now there is a book out there with the premise that I just may be stupid for making that decision. I’m sure that there are those who also think I’m stupid for liking Pauly Shore movies, Cadbury Eggs and the Electric Light Orchestra. Based on that do I want others to decide what I should and should not be allowed to do? No. Not really. I may know all of the words to “Witch Doctor” (ting tang walla walla bing bang), but should that disqualify me from carrying a gun? I may believe that a middle-aged carpenter from a small desert country allowed himself a horrible death only to be brought back to life so he could start a religion with some fishermen and tax men. Yet I think this in no way impairs my ability to vote in an election.

So while we’re all making our little lists, I think we’re well-served to remember that it is entirely possible the Lord High Executioner would have us on his. That’s why the libertarian in me would just as soon see all little lists disappear when it comes to deciding rights.

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Apparently one of the largest concentrations of refugees from Darfur is in and around my hometown.

I’m not surprised. Fort Wayne has always been a welcoming place for refugees.

What DID surprise me was a Darfuri woman saying that Indiana farmland reminded her of her country. Clearly I have the wrong visual images of Darfur in my head.

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except my dad, my brother and Roger Abramson.

I’m prattling on about tort reform over at Mack’s place.

And no word about how my position on TR directly contradicts my libertarianism. I know that it does. And I’m duly ashamed.

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Let’s say you go to buy a car.   But the way in which cars are bought and paid for is like the current way we do health care.  You’d go to the car lot, tell them what you need–two or four doors, a v-6 or a v-8, anti-lock brakes, etc.   The sales team (five of them) would bring the car to you that matches your general description.  The billing team (3 of them) would have you sign many papers after which you’d give them your downpayment check.  You’d then drive off.    Ten days later you get a bill from the car lot which says you owe $200,000 for the car, but they’re negotiating with your car insurance to find out the “final” amount.

About a month later your insurance sends you a statement showing that they’ve negotiated the price of the car down to $40k, but you “only” pay 10% of that.   Cool.  You’re only on the hook for $4K (plus the deposit you paid earlier).   But then other bills start to come.   The sales team at the dealership has a separate bill.  It seems that you pay their salary, not the car lot.   So you owe the sales team 20% of $2K.   Then the folks who make the tires send you four bills.   Not only are tires not included in the cost of the car, but for insurance reasons they must bill you for each of the tires seperately.  Same goes for the doors, the engine, the radio.  Separate bills–all of them high.   But since the total is still under that first $200,000 estimate you feel lucky.

And on and on.    Of course you must keep in mind also that you were never able to get the full cost of the car upfront, so you were never able to shop for a better car.   You never saw the car in advance–you just had to take the sales team’s word that it would meet your needs–so you couldn’t really pick a car that would have been better for you.    Since the car is billed to you in pieces you never know for sure when the bills will stop coming.

That’s how health care works now.   For my last surgery I’ve now received six bills from 5 entities.    Prior to the surgery I did ask how much it would cost.  I didn’t know the answer I got was for the HOSPITAL only.   I still had to pay the doctor, the anesthesiologist (twice; once for pre-and post- op, once for the actual surgery), the radiologist who read the x-rays and the pathologist who analysed the tissue.

Clearly the free market is not at work in the health care system.   We need a sea change in medical billing practices.   You shouldn’t need an associates degree to understand the billing for health services.    The free market, with a true end-price for the consumer would force regulation of costs through competition.  If you knew upfront that HCA charges $2,200 for your procedure and Baptist charges $1,950 you’d figure out if HCA had extras that you preferred and go with the place that suits you.   Because I don’t think it’s only the HIGH cost of health care that bothers all of us, but the feeling of helplessness at the confusing tangle of bills.

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Wes Comer has two separate posts along the same theme. The general idea is that Fred Thompson (like Chuck Norris and Jack Bauer) is a sort of he-man kickarse action figure.

Am I bad for wanting our next president to do simple, ordinary things?

Let’s balance the budget. Let’s get realistic about the true cost-to-benefits analysis on the War on Drugs. Let’s keep our nation from harm by having a strong defence. (For the record a “defence” is what you have in case you are attacked. “Preventative defence” is aggression.) Let’s reform our immigration policy to make it more humane while at the same time making the protection of our borders a reality instead of a long-standing inside joke. Let’s reform the national Ponzi scheme we call ‘social security’.

Maybe its time that various campaign teams stop trying to sell us on the toughness of their candidate and start finding men who actually want to do the job we need to have done.

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  • Well, I think after reading more in depth about Fred, I’m firmly back on the Ron Paul bandwagon. I just don’t see Fred as my ideological counterpart in this race. Regardless, I think it’s time for me to vote outside the box for once. I’m really tired of picking the lesser-rotting apple out of two. We’ve all seen how well that works.
  • I have to go to church tomorrow and I’ll be honest. I don’t want to. I’m really feeling very introverted and not at all in the mood to fraternise. But that’s not all that’s bothering me. The last Sunday I was there, some man I don’t know stood up in our homeroom session and asked for donations. You see, my Sunday School department is having a marriage retreat, and they apparently want people to donate door prizes. Yes. That’s right. In a world where people are starving and homeless…in our Sunday School department where at least three families (that I know of) are having grave financial and health struggles we are soliciting for door prizes. Something about that seems so fiddle-y while America burns-ish. Then again, it’s probably just my problem.
  • Rachel forwarded me an article yesterday that she (rightfully) thought would make my blood boil. Apparently doctors are prescribing Adderal (a type of speed!) for overweight kids in order to help them shed pounds and be just like the really good and cool thin kids.
    What can be said about this other than ##@%&*#%&? Look, I know I’m all in favour of scaling back the ‘War’ on [some] Drugs, but what insanity has taken hold of us? We’re giving kids speed because they’re overweight? Adderal hasn’t even been approved for use in weight-control. Yet fat is such an evil, such an abomination, such a sign of being from the lower classes that we must do whatever it takes–including using untested and unproven and highly-addictive drugs–to keep our kids skinny.
  • I hate it when my favourite bloggers do things like go and have babies. Their real lives really disrupt all my pajama time.

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So I’ve gotten myself caught up in a bit of a feud. (Yes, I’m certain that shocks all of you to your very core.) The long and the short of the matter is that some folks back in my hometown want to generate renewed interest in the downtown area. This in and of itself is not a bad thing. Problem is that they want to do it by leaving the existing Single A Minor League Baseball Field and relocating the team in a spanky new downtown field with condos and restaurants all around it.
Sound familiar?

So, I’m on the side of the angels in this, arguing against sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into something so completely wrongheaded. That’s just how we libertarians roll. The thing is that one of the local Metro Councilmen, a theoretical Republican, has decided that I Hate Fort Wayne and All Of It’s Leaders.

This came as a great surprise to my husband, who ferries me up there twice a year on nostalgic visits, going with me to all my favourite hometown places. It especially came as a great surprise to him since he has to put up with my occasional fits of wanting to move back there permanently. When I told my husband about it, his response was very enlightening.

That’s just like all those people who say that someone can’t love America if they don’t support the Iraq war. It’s ridiculous.

Which of course got me to thinking about a couple of things. First off, why exactly is it acceptable to assume that someone on the opposite side of a disagreement about policy doesn’t care about their community? Surely the very fact that they care enough to have an opinion shows they have a love for the place, be it a midsized Indiana city or the entire United States of America.

Second off, why is it automatically assumed that our Elected Officials are actually our leaders? The more I think about it, the more that very label angers me. If you are elected to a public office it should be because you are eager to serve as a representative of the people. Not because you want to be installed as some sort of money-mad spendthrift overlord. That’s the whole problem with our representative government. The men and women we elect think, mistakenly, that they’ve been vaunted to some sort of papal status whereby they are never wrong and are entitled to great profit from their actions.

Frankly, no one outside of a military or paramilitary organisation should refer to him- or herself as a leader. It’s like telling people you’re good in bed. It’s arrogant and really a decision that’s better left up to someone else.

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