National Green Party: Bring Medicare-For-All back to the table

This statement is based on a mailing to Green Party supporters. It was posted at onthewilderside.com:

***ACTION ALERT for Single Payer***
Write Your Representative Today!

It’s time to take action for SINGLE-PAYER NATIONAL HEALTH CARE!

The media are focusing on the debate between Democrats promoting Obamacare and ‘Tea Party’ activists who are determined to block any health care reform at all.  Whether Obamacare gets passed in Congress or Republicans succeed in defeating reform legislation, the for-profit health insurance companies will win and the rest of us will lose.

These are the worst economic times since the Great Depression and we need health care that is cost-effective for ALL.  Single-Payer will reduce health care costs by as much as a third and reduce ‘rationing’ — no more for-profit insurance company overhead, administrative costs, and skyrocketing CEO salaries.  Single-Payer will allow everyone to choose their physicians and hospitals, and no American will ever again face financial ruin over an illness or injury.

Tell your legislators that Single Payer makes economic sense and business sense.   Here are simple talking points you can use in messages to your congresspersons.

* Single-payer will boost the ailing US economy and provide relief for businesses large and small, because it will cancel the high expense and administrative burden of employer-based health care.

* At 3% administrative costs, Medicare (which would become universal under single payer) is very efficient compared to the 15-30% administrative costs of for-profit insurance.

* Single-payer will relieve cities, towns and school boards from having to bear the cost of providing health insurance to employees, allowing responsible officials to reduce their budgets and lower local property taxes.

* Single-payer gives government and citizens a stake in preventive medicine and promotion of good health habits to keep costs down.

Don’t let Democratic and Republican politicians destroy hope for real health care reform.  Don’t be fooled: Obamacare won’t provide health care for all Americans.  It will drive up heatlh care costs and impose ‘mandates’ that result in multi-million-dollar taxpayer-funded subsidies to insurance companies.  Obamacare is not the solution.  The only real solution to America’s health care crisis is Single-Payer.  Please write your representative and tell them we need Medicare for All.

More information:

http://www.gp.org
http://www.healthcare-now.org
http://www.pnhp.org
http://www.singlepayeraction.org/

79 thoughts on “National Green Party: Bring Medicare-For-All back to the table

  1. Brian Holtz

    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10011

    Supporters of a government-run national health care system often urge the United States to learn from the experience of other countries and they are right. But those lessons may not be exactly what the political left expects. For example:

    * Universal health insurance does not necessarily mean universal access to health care. In practice, many countries promise universal coverage but ration care or have extremely long waiting lists for treatment. Those countries that have single-payer systems or systems heavily weighted toward government control are the most likely to face waiting lists, rationing, restrictions on the choice of physician, and other barriers to care.

    * Those countries with national health care systems that work better, such as France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, are successful to the degree that they incorporate market mechanisms such as competition, cost-consciousness, market prices, and consumer choice, and eschew centralized government control.

    In France, for example, co-payments run between 10 and 40 percent, and physicians can balance bill over and above government reimbursement rates, something not allowed in the U.S. Medicare program. On average, French patients pay roughly as much out of pocket as do Americans.

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-613.pdf :

    The French health care system is the world’s
    third most expensive, costing roughly 11 per-
    cent of GDP, behind only the United States (17
    percent) and Switzerland (11.5 percent).

    Most French workers are effectively paying 18.8 percent of their income for health insurance.

    Most services require substantial copay-
    ments, ranging from 10 to 40 percent of the
    cost. As a result, French consumers pay for
    roughly 13 percent of health care out of pocket,
    roughly the same percentage as U.S. con-
    sumers. Moreover, because many health care
    services are not covered, and because many of
    the best providers refuse to accept the fee sched-
    ules imposed by the insurance funds, more
    than 92 percent of French residents purchase
    complementary private insurance. In fact, pri-
    vate insurance now makes up roughly 12.7 per-
    cent of all health care spending in France, a per-
    centage exceeded only by the Netherlands (15.2
    percent) and the United States (35 percent)
    among industrialized countries.

    The private insurance market in France is in
    many ways less regulated than the U.S. market.
    For example, while 20 U.S. states require some
    form of community rating or put limits on
    health insurance premiums, private health
    insurance in France is largely experience rated.
    No regulations specify what benefits must be
    included in coverage or mandate “guaranteed
    issue”; and pre-existing conditions may be
    excluded. The only significant restriction
    requires “guaranteed renewability” after two
    years of coverage. More than 118 carriers cur-
    rently offer some form of private health insur-
    ance coverage.

    In essence, the French system avoids wide-
    spread rationing because, unlike true single-
    payer systems, it employs market forces. Even
    the OECD says that the “proportion of the
    population with private health insurance”
    and the degree of cost sharing are key deter-
    minants of how severe waiting lists will be. […]

    However, the benefits of private insurance
    are not equally distributed. The wealthy are
    more likely to be able to pay privately to escape
    the government system, creating in essence a
    two-tier system. That has resulted in a dispari-
    ty in health outcomes based on income.
    While this is certainly the case in the United
    States and elsewhere—and there is nothing
    wrong with the wealthy being able to pay more
    to receive better care—it demonstrates that the
    professed goal of entirely equal access is largely
    unattainable even under this government-run
    health system.

    A 2004 poll showed that the French had the
    highest level of satisfaction with their health
    care system among all European countries.
    This is partly because their hybrid system has
    avoided many of the biggest problems of other
    national health care systems. Yet it also stems
    from French social character. For example, by a
    three-to-one margin, the French believe the
    quality of care they receive is less important
    than everyone having equal access to that
    care. This means the French experience may
    not be easily transferable to the United States,
    which has a far less egalitarian ethic.

    The French system works in part because it
    has incorporated many of the characteristics
    that supporters of national health care dislike most about the U.S. system. France imposes substantial cost sharing on patients in order to discourage over-utilization, relies heavily on a relatively unregulated private insurance market to fill gaps in coverage, and allows consumers to pay extra for better or additional care, creating a
    two-tier system.

  2. Brian Holtz

    Individual rights are human rights. Human rights are never “trite”. Human rights have no expiration date.

    Here, call this guy “trite”:

  3. Dave Schwab

    Medicare for all, also known as single payer healthcare, is favored by a majority of Americans.

    How can we convince Congress to enact what the people want?

    Tell your members of Congress that unless they support Medicare for all, you won’t support them.

    Take the Medicare For All Pledge today:

    http://bit.ly/medicareforallpledge

  4. Lou Novak

    Thomas Jefferson isn’t trite.

    It’s the bumper sticker slogans that are trite.

    People dying because they can’t get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions isn’t trite.

    The position that market forces will solve all the worlds problems is trite.

    Health care is not trite, it is a human right.

  5. Lou Novak

    That cute little video with the kids preparing to practice cannibalism is an excellent example of the rule moderation in everything.

    Just as democracy must be moderated to protect the minority, markets must be moderated.

    Free markets only exist in peoples imaginations, just like unicorns.

  6. Mik Robertson

    If the “single-payer” is the government, where does the government get the money to pay from?

  7. Brian Holtz

    What’s trite is vacuous name-calling against ideas you don’t dare argue against. I quoted Jefferson — where’s your argument against his position?

    Lou, you obviously didn’t read my link above. Market failure is its central theme. Instead of name-calling, and knocking over anarchist strawmen, try reading something that challenges you to think critically.

    I repeat from my article: Here is my challenge to any brainy do-gooders with the urge to use government power — i.e., handcuffs, jails, and guns — to enforce a feel-good vision on the rest of society. For any force-based intervention you propose, please 1) identify the market failure you’re trying to correct, and 2) explain why it cannot be corrected at a more decentral level — state, metro area, county, municipality, or neighborhood.

    Any takers?

    And: Why stop there? If you’re going to socialize and nationalize health insurance, then why not also nutrition, shelter, education, transportation, energy, retirement, and employment?

    Oh wait, I’ve read the Green Platform. Never mind. 🙂

    “People dying because they can’t get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions”

    Who? What was his name? What was his pre-existing condition? What was the cost of the treatment that could have saved him? How many years would it have added to his life? Why didn’t he or his family or his friends care enough about his life to buy him insurance before his condition came into existence? Can you honestly answer these questions for even one case?

    I have no problem with a safety net for the truly indigent, in the form of a geolibertarian citizen’s dividend financed by returning appropriated ground rent back to the community. However, like Jefferson, I object to you pointing your government’s guns at my daughters and demanding that they take on more debt to finance healthcare for people who aren’t even poor. Each of my three daughters already is on the hook for$124,000 in unfunded Medicare liabilities. It’s simply monstrous to propose adding to their obligations to finance your own misguided charitable ambitions.

  8. Brian Holtz

    I owe:
    federal debt: $38,788.997
    Social Security: $25,000.000
    Medicare: $124,000.000
    federal pensions: $17,000.000
    state pensions: $10,000.000
    state debt: $4,000.000
    Total: $218,788.997
    I’ve voted: 0 times
  9. Michael Cavlan

    Brian Holtz gives Libertarianism a freaking bad name. Using trite, vacuous name calling and then accusing others of doing so does not a coherent argument make. It also sure the hell does not add to the concept of the free market of ideas.

    Brian Hotlz blathers on and says
    ———————————–
    I repeat from my article: Here is my challenge to any brainy do-gooders with the urge to use government power — i.e., handcuffs, jails, and guns — to enforce a feel-good vision on the rest of society. For any force-based intervention you propose, please 1) identify the market failure you’re trying to correct, and 2) explain why it cannot be corrected at a more decentral level — state, metro area, county, municipality, or neighborhood.
    ———————————————-

    My answer
    When you use over stated hyperbole, it invalidates your entire argument. Show any of us here where ANYONE calls for the “state” to use guns and hand cuffs to force you or anyone else to ‘enforce a feel good vision” for society.

    You can’t because we don’t. You don’t want to pay into a Single payer healthcare, then don’t. Which means that if you do not want to use our healthcare system then go to your own. good luck with that.

    Kind of like using our police and fire engines. Don’t pay, then don’t call for help when you need it. Let your free market (which ain’t free and is rigged to the hilt) help you out.
    ————————————–

    Brian states

    And: Why stop there? If you’re going to socialize and nationalize health insurance, then why not also nutrition, shelter, education, transportation, energy, retirement, and employment?
    ————————————
    My answer,
    transportation paid by taxes- FDA paid by taxes, retirement and employment, well thank God for the free market force of Trade Unions for that.
    ———————————————-
    Brian states (in a Fox News induced haze of self created ignorance)

    “People dying because they can’t get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions”

    Who? What was his name? What was his pre-existing condition? What was the cost of the treatment that could have saved him? How many years would it have added to his life? Why didn’t he or his family or his friends care enough about his life to buy him insurance before his condition came into existence? Can you honestly answer these questions for even one case?
    ————————————————-

    My answer. I am a Registered Nurse and we see this virtually every day. Including my own mother who died from cancer.
    ————————————————–

    Brian states

    However, like Jefferson, I object to you pointing your government’s guns at my daughters and demanding that they take on more debt to finance healthcare for people who aren’t even poor. Each of my three daughters already is on the hook for$124,000 in unfunded Medicare liabilities. It’s simply monstrous to propose adding to their obligations to finance your own misguided charitable ambitions.
    ———————————————

    Again, over stated hyperbole about pointing government guns at your daughter just makes you look silly and takes away from your argument.

    Is there any way to voluntarily not contribute to social security? Which means that when you or she gets old, then they are on their own? i would have no problem with someone being stupid enough to make that choice for themselves. As long as they understand the consequences of their choice.

    We Nurses see people all the time of this calibre. They think that everyone should be left to their own devices. Right until THEY need help.

    Then they cry like little girls and demand attention and help.

    Single payer. The right choice for all the right reasons.

  10. VAGreen

    Let’s see…One of my friends from high school and college was nearly killed by thalassemia when he was 22. He needed a heart and liver transplant to save his life. The insurance company decided that they didn’t want to pay. Government regulations compelled them to. So far, he’s gotten an extra 16 years of life out of it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalassemia

  11. Brian Holtz

    Mr. Cavlan, it’s simply untenable to suggest that your Nanny State isn’t enforced with handcuffs, guns, and jails. If I or my daughters tried to opt out of it, as you speciously invite us to, the handcuffs, guns, and jails would quickly materialize. If you don’t think you’re advocating the use of force against people, it’s clear that you haven’t yet begun to grapple with the moral implications of your position.

    I would love for me and my daughters to be able to opt out of the Social Security ponzi scheme, since its rate of return is well-documented as inferior to what they could get through private savings — even if you pick the worst possible lifetime investment window for market performance. Social Security is simply inter-generational theft, and it’s not even means-tested. In fact, the rules of Social Security are infamously unfair to minorities, gays, women divorced by high-earning men, and people who need to work longer than 35 years. By contrast, SS is a windfall to young trophy wives, who can collect their dead geezer husband’s benefits 30 or 40 years or more, while the dumped wife gets zero credit for his earnings if she remarries.

    You didn’t answer my questions. What would have been the cost of your mother’s cancer treatment? How much would it have extended her life? Why didn’t she or her family or her friends care enough about her life to buy her insurance before her cancer set in? Death is terrible — I should know, my infant son died in my arms — but saying “cancer” and “mother” in the same sentence don’t constitute an argument for nationalized health insurance.

    VAGreen, you didn’t answer my questions either. And what “government regulations” — the ones for enforcing contracts? All libertarians favor contract enforcement. Your friend has gotten those 16 years, so this obviously doesn’t count as a death that could only have been prevented by Single Payer.

    And, for the record, my core challenge remains unmet: identify the market failure you’re trying to correct, and explain why it cannot be corrected at a more decentral level — state, metro area, county, municipality, or neighborhood. Any death you say could be prevented by federal Single Payer, I say could be prevented by state-level health insurance vouchers financed by a geolibertarian citizen’s dividend from land value taxes. So spare me the undocumented unfalsifiable anecdotal sob stories. There is always one more life somewhere that can be extended for a while if you’re willing to spend another $100,000 or $1,000,000 of other people’s money. Unless you’re willing to tell us what your spending limit is for such extensions, you’re just fantasizing about ponies and unicorns.

    Also, even Mr. Cavlan patently failed to answer this question: If you’re going to socialize and nationalize health insurance, then why not also nutrition, shelter, education, transportation, energy, retirement, and employment? In other words: why not Single Payer nutrition, Single Payer housing, Single Payer education, Single Payer transit, Single Payer energy, Single Payer retirement savings, Single Payer universal employment?

  12. Thomas M. Sipos

    Brian Holtz: “it’s simply untenable to suggest that your Nanny State isn’t enforced with handcuffs, guns, and jails.

    It’s also true that the State’s wars and empire (which Brian “liberventionist” Holtz supports) are enforced with handcuffs, guns and jails.

    Brian: I would love for me and my daughters to be able to opt out of the Social Security ponzi scheme,

    And I would love to opt out of paying for our overseas military bases.

    Of course, I’m sure Brian has some tortuous rationale as to why it’s wrong to force him to pay for statist health care, but justifiable to force others to pay for statist wars and empire.

    Indeed, I’m sure Brian can point me to one of his many online articles in which he “eviscerates” my equating the two (at least in his fantasies).

    Happily, I don’t have to read Brian’s waterfall of words. I just do a quick “drive by” to salve my antiwar “obsession” (Brian’s terms) and then leave.

  13. Brian Holtz

    I don’t support “wars and empire”. I do support paying cops and soldiers to defend liberty — a non-excludable non-rival (i.e. “public”) good — by collecting the ground rent it creates, via a David-Nolan-style self-assessed land value tax. I even on special occasions support those police and soldiers performing that defense by crossing the jurisdictional lines that statists have drawn on maps. For example, if the cop sees outside the city limits a man beating and raping a little girl, or if the soldier sees across the ocean a genocidal totalitarian WMD-using ballistic-missile-firing neighbor-annexing terrorist-funding sadistic maniac defiantly persist in “material breach” of his agreement to be inspected for cessation of his earlier WMD programme.

    For Sipos to actually disagree with me, instead of with the “empire” voices in his head, all he has to say is: the U.S. military should never attack any genocidal totalitarian WMD-using ballistic-missile-firing neighbor-annexing terrorist-funding sadistic maniac who defiantly persists in “material breach” of his agreement to be inspected for cessation of his earlier WMD programme.

    But he won’t say these words — perhaps because his words are priced too dearly. My “waterfall of words” is offered to the LP for free, but Sipos is used to getting ~$4,000 of LP member dues per year for us to read his words in the LPCA newsletter — to tell us in its pages things like how he voted against the LP presidential ticket.

    P.S. “Drive-by” indeed consists of my words, but Sipos himself has agreed that antiwar is his “obsession”.

  14. Thomas M. Sipos

    Actually, I’d said that antiwar was my “priority.” “Obsession” is your word (though, coming from a “liberventionist,” I take it as a compliment).

    But everyone take note: Brian has no problem with taxes (which, by his own admission, require handcuffs, guns, and jails) to pay for war. He’s only opposed to taxes to pay for health care.

  15. Susan Hogarth

    Holtz, something to think about: I consider my neighbor’s health more of a “non-excludable non-rival (i.e. “public”) good” than I do the presence of a flashy overseas dictator (especially considering that I have only shaky information about the latter). Heck, I consider my neighbor’s health more of a “non-excludable non-rival (i.e. “public”) good” than I do a child being beaten and raped over the county line.

    But, as always, we’re left with the question ‘who decides?’ And no doubt you have a list of exerts who will agree with you that squashing dictators and chasing far-off rapists is more important to *me* than my neighbor’s – or my husband’s – health.

    The truth is that righting any wrong can very reasonably be considered a ‘public good’ – we just have to decide (1) what’s wrong, and (2) how scarce resources can best be applied to righting wrongs. To strive to accomplish (1) and (2) via ‘public’ (that is, government) means leads inevitably to the centralization of power, and further injustice being committed. To strive to accomplish (1) and (2) via individual conscience and the free market will still leave us short – the world will never be perfectly just, I suspect – but I suspect it’s more efficient in the long run and it has the great advantage of not actually contributing *new* injustices to our lot in the meanwhile.

  16. Susan Hogarth

    “There is always one more life somewhere that can be extended for a while if you’re willing to spend another $100,000 or $1,000,000 of other people’s money.”

    There is ALWAYS one more nuke-wielding dictator (or baby-bayoneting hun, or whatever) to be taken out if you’re willing to spend a couple billion dollars of OPM.

  17. Robert Capozzi

    Sh, excellent question…who decides?, indeed! If another country decided that the US’s cruel and unusual practice of capital punishment was a holocaust, and they decided to overthrow the USG, that might lead to resistance by the USG and, likely, most Americans.

    Methinks that even if “another country” were Lincoln-type Brigades, that’d make no difference to the USG and most Americans.

    Such a quandary!

    (I don’t know about y’all, but I’m feeling guilty that our L conversation has spilled over into Green territory! But at least Susan is back and at the top of her game!)

  18. rgw

    Have voiced this before..maybe someone will listen..
    We have a system…Medicare…MEDICADE(DUMP IT)
    Have Medicare cover ALL..what it does not cover–80%–that is it..YOU do NOT need a Supp. Ins…always found that a JOKE..
    Would I pay more into Medicare..SURE..would be competitive to other that way..as for Doc/Hospital’s/Med’s only getting 80% of a bil…TOUGH.. cleanup your act on ADMIN. problems…DO NOT PASS IT ON TO US….same goes for CURRENT Ins. Companies..TOO BAD..

  19. Thomas M. Sipos

    Brian: “I even on special occasions support those police and soldiers performing that defense by crossing the jurisdictional lines that statists have drawn on maps.

    You love that phrase, don’t you? Ignoring “lines drawn on maps by statists.” Makes you sound so principled, even vaguely anarchistic.

    But are you for universal open borders, and unrestricted immigration, applied to every nation on earth?

    If not, then you support “lines drawn on maps by statists” to keep out peaceful immigrants, or to maintain a nation’s ethnic or religious identity. You only oppose “lines drawn on maps by statists” when you want to chuck some bombs over that line.

  20. Brian Holtz

    So here we see the dysfunction and self-marginalization of the Libertarian Party. With Nanny Staters on the brink of a big increase in the $50 TRILLION unfunded liability of their theft-financed healthcare promises, Libertarians aren’t very interested in arguing against that. Instead, they’d rather

    1) give anarchist aid-and-comfort to the markets-aren’t-perfect strawmen the nanny-staters use to gleefully sidestep arguments against their schemes, and

    2) complain about a one-time expense of a few hundred billion that was spent to bring to the gallows a genocidal totalitarian WMD-using ballistic-missile-firing neighbor-annexing terrorist-funding million-killing sadistic maniac who defiantly persisted in “material breach” of his agreement to be inspected for cessation of his earlier WMD programme.

    Tom Sipos carefully doesn’t deny that he’s agreed before that antiwar is his “obsession”. If dares to deny it, I’ll happily dig up the cite.

    He misleads when he suggests I approve of any tax-financed war, or that I am “only opposed to taxes to pay for health care”.

    1) I oppose any and all taxes on labor, peaceful production, or voluntary exchanges — at any time, for any reason.

    2) As I said above, I in fact favor indigent people buying health insurance with their geolibertarian citizen’s dividend — their share of the ground rent of land from which they’ve been excluded. (Under left-/geo- libertarian ethics this isn’t even a “tax”, but rather reparations for excluding people from a portion of the Earth’s surface area. You can’t “own” an acre, because you can’t create an acre. The Earth has the same surface area now as it did before there were any humans.)

    3) I already described the specific sort of war that I support; Sipos lacks the antiwar fortitude to specifically say he opposes even that sort of war. It turns out, Sipos is just not antiwar enough to say “I oppose the use of a tax-financed military even to depose a genocidal totalitarian WMD-using ballistic-missile-firing neighbor-annexing terrorist-funding million-killing sadistic maniac who defiantly persisted in what the UN called ‘material breach’ of his agreement to be inspected for cessation of his earlier WMD programme”. Sipos won’t say this, because he’s not as antiwar as he wants to think he is. Someday I may find a Libertarian who is antiwar enough to say this, but until then, the search continues…

    4) Sipos is also simply wrong that I favor “handcuffs, guns, and jails” to collect taxes. I do favor those things for enforcing court orders and collecting fines, but I don’t need them for collecting a David Nolan-style single “tax” on land value. If the owner of a parcel declines to return to the community the ground rent he appropriates from them, then we’d simply disconnect him from our wires and pipes, and while he’s in arrears we’d publish his name, address, and photo as someone whose property and person are excluded from the protections of our land-value-tax-financed police and courts.

    Susan, I’ll just repeat the final paragraph of http://libertarianmajority.net/do-markets-under-produce-public-goods: The existence of such market failures is essentially indisputable. The only question is whether and how we can know enough about people’s preferences to institute tax-financed public goods that while not strictly Pareto-efficient are still highly Kaldor-Hicks efficient. That is, they make so many people so much better off that, if everyone’s preferences were knowable, the few made worse off could be easily compensated by the rest. Minarchists claim that such trade-offs are morally justifiable only for “pure” public goods aimed at protecting life and liberty, like national defense and universal access to the justice system.

    Who decides? He who pays the piper calls the tune. If the land-value-tax payers of a jurisdiction that funds a cop decides that he spends too much time stopping rapists outside the jurisdiction, they’ll hire somebody else. Ditto for soldiers (and the commanders thereof) who spend too much time deposing genocidal totalitarian WMD-using ballistic-missile-firing neighbor-annexing terrorist-funding million-killing sadistic maniacs who defiantly persist in “material breach” of their agreements to be inspected for cessation of their earlier WMD programmes.

    And this system of finance should be inherently and explicitly decentralized. From the Free Earth Manifesto: Centripetal Finance. Revenue to finance services enjoyed in a community should flow up from the individuals and sub-communities benefiting from the service, not down from a central bureaucracy with the dangerous power to tax all communities and shift revenues among communities or constituencies.

    I have no comment on your moral prioritization between 1) child rape just outside the county line and 2) your neighbor’s desire for free healthcare. Except to say “wow”.

    It would not be true to claim that “there is always one more” neighbor-annexing totalitarian that we could depose. Since its creation right after WWII, the UN Security Council has only noticed two of them.

    Yes, that’s my youngest (Heather), who also played the doomed chicken in the video @2.

  21. Brian Holtz

    Tom, whenever you’re in doubt about what I advocate, the first place to check is the Free Earth Manifesto. It says: Migration of persons should be without constraints, provided that migrants 1) do not trespass, 2) pay for how much they pollute, congest, or deplete the commons, and 3) are sponsored by someone (perhaps themselves) who can afford to assume the same responsibility for their subsistence as parents do for native children.

    To me, borders are just demarcations mutually arranged by adjacent communities to manage their respective commons. One part of that management has to do with regulating how newcomers pollute, deplete, or congest those commons.

    No part of that management has to do with “ethnic or religious identity”. That’s the voices in your head again.

    But thanks for admitting that I “sound so principled”. Good thing you have those voices in your head so you can let people know my true secret beliefs.

  22. Susan Hogarth

    …complain about a one-time expense of a few hundred billion…

    Hundred billion here, hundred billion there, soon you’re talking about real money.

    Reality check: there is an endless supply of tinpot dictators who will need taking down. We should focus on having our govt NOT support them in the first place (Karzai, anyone?) rather than going along with its good-dictator, bad-dictator shell game.

  23. Susan Hogarth

    I have no comment on your moral prioritization between 1) child rape just outside the county line and 2) your neighbor’s desire for free healthcare. Except to say “wow”.

    Who said anything about free anything? I merely said that, insofar as I envision the concept of a ‘public good’, my neighbor’s health could easily be more of a public good to me than the health of a child at some remove.

    You’d better believe I’d choose to spend my money on helping vaccinate my neighbor’s kids against smallpox rather than on having cops patrol a neighboring area *under the right circumstances*.

    Guess who gets to decide what the ‘right circumstances’ are in a free society?

  24. Robert Milnes

    10 out of these 29 comments are by Brian. Several in succession, but not multiples like I have posted. & the end postings have very little to do with the Title of the article i.e. the TOPIC of the thread. & he pushes his agenda including videos & sparkly unicorns much like paulie. So I say brian & paulie are far bigger “trolls” than I am. & basically Brian’s agenda is libertarian reformism. Well I have personally corresponded with Milsted several times. I think he quit the LP because he created a monster-LRC-& didn’t know what to do about it. It became the rationale for rightists of all sorts to join the LP & basically take it over & move it to the right-exactly the opposite direction it should move.-towards the progressive right & left. Milsted tried to modify the reform to create a “new upper left party” which I believe to be a progressive party equivalent. I pointed out that this would directly compete with the Lp & GP & we can’t expect them to quit what they’ve accomplished & established & join the new party. That got me to PLAS. Now Milsted is on some sort of religious inclusive tangent which I am trying to follow and understand. Trying the impossible-making the CP inclusive to the LP. Not gonna happen. So Brian, how does it feel to be called a troll?

  25. Brian Holtz

    Susan, please name for us a neighbor-annexing totalitarian that we could depose right now.

    “Public good” has a meaning. It means non-rival non-excludable good. Health care is rival: surgery or pills for one patient cannot also be consumed by another patient. Health care is excludable: you can check whether a patient has paid before you dispense the surgery or pill.

    National defense is non-rival non-excludable: defending North Carolina defends everybody in NC, and new births in NC don’t increase its defense costs. Streets are non-rival non-excludable: your use of a street doesn’t preclude anybody else’s use of it, and it’s not practical to check whether you’ve paid a toll for every street you turn onto.

    There are only two public goods I’ve heard of related to healthcare.

    1) One would be the provision of a charitable safety net for the indigent, assuming nearly everybody enjoys seeing the indigent receive a basic level of charitable support. You can’t exclude soft-hearted misers from enjoying the fact the indigent receive charity from non-misers, and the arrival of extra misers to enjoy the charity spectacle doesn’t impinge on anyone’s enjoyment of it. (If there’s no such free-riding, it’s can’t be called a public good.)

    Libertarians oppose tax-financing of public goods — radio broadcasts, scientific research, publicly-visible landscaping and art, charitable safety nets — that aren’t about protecting life, liberty, and property from aggression. (Some of us go further, and say that even those protection public goods should only be financed by the return to the community of the appropriated ground rent that those public goods create.)

    2) The other is the one you just stumbled on: prevention of contagion, for example through vaccination. With sufficient population density, going unvaccinated is arguably aggression. Vaccinating the populace is non-rival, because your enjoyment of the lack of contagion does not interfere with my enjoyment of it. And it’s non-excludable, because we can’t selectively identify and sanction the needle-fearing minority who free-ride on the majority’s diligence. Thus a libertarian can support government efforts to require, and perhaps even provide, vaccinations.

    You can’t just go around calling anything you like a “public good”. It doesn’t work that way. Rivalry and excludability are technical terms in economics. They have meanings — even if some people don’t know what those meanings are.

    Mr. Milnes, a troll is someone who keeps talking about stuff that nobody else is interested in, or who blatantly changes the subject of a conversation. Everything I’ve written here — including this paragraph — is either a direct response to the subject article, or to specific criticisms here of of my positions. You cannot quote a single sentence from me that isn’t. Sipos trolled in @17 to bring up war. Susan chimed in @21 to question the existence of government. I would love to return this thread to my original questions: can Single Payer advocates identify a market failure they’re trying to correct, and why don’t they advocate Single Payer for every other industry? Unfortunately, this thread is now thoroughly hijacked, and the nanny staters have been excused from facing these questions.

  26. Robert Milnes

    Brian, neighbor annexing totalitarian we could depose right now-China. Oops, too big. & has nuclear weapons already. & besides, Israel wouldn’t be down with it. Never mind.

  27. Dave Schwab

    Market failure: 45,000 Americans die needlessly every year for lack of adequate health insurance.

    Can it be addressed at a less central level: Yes; CA has passed single-payer twice (both times vetoed by Schwarzenagger) and PA is considering it. But with Washington deliberating on health care now, why not fix a health care system that kills more Americans every year than a dozen 9/11s?

  28. Brian Holtz

    Here’s another market failure: people ignorant of the term ‘market failure’ use it in incorrect ways.

    I propose a government program to tax, fine, or jail such people.

    Market failure solved!

    A taxonomy of actual market failure is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_failure. There is no category there for “unfortunate things that would happen less often if everyone were forced to donate toward mitigating them”.

    Again: the actual market failures in health care are four-fold. Diagnosis and prescription is here.

    Why not socialize healthcare at the federal level? Well, for starters, it’s blatantly unconstitutional. There is nothing in the Article I Sec 8 powers of Congress that gives them the authority to do this. When your mob discards the Constitution’s protections for the rights you don’t like, don’t complain when another mob discards its protections for the rights you do like.

  29. Dave Schwab

    So when confronted with the fact that our healthcare system needlessly kills 45,000 Americans every year, you refuse to address it, become insulting, and bring back the bumper stickers.

    You can’t put a bumper sticker on a gaping wound, chief.

  30. John C

    Yes. everyone knows “real” libertarians are war mongering cop-licking state violence supporting assholes. As long as you really hate taxes, of course.

  31. Brian Holtz

    Dave, you’re assuming facts not in evidence. I’ve asked for details about even ONE of these so-called “killings”, and haven’t gotten them.

    Me not giving you something is not “killing” you — by definition. You can either address that point, or you can call it a bumper sticker. Your choice.

    As for “refusing to address” stuff, show me where any Green has in this thread addressed

    • the reality that their mandates initiate force backed by handcuffs, guns, and jail bars
    • my extensive quotes from Cato about the French healthcare system
    • my challenge to identify an actual market failure they are trying to correct
    • Jefferson’s analysis of the properly limited power of government
    • my proposal for an alternative safety net
    • the fact that nationalizing healthcare is not an Art I Sec 8 congressional power
    • the fact that Medicare already imposes $124K of unfunded liabilities on each of my kids
    • my questions about how much it would have cost to save any of these alleged “killing” victims, and why they or their friends or family didn’t buy insurance
    • my point that you can always save another life with another million dollars of other people’s money
    • why not Single Payer nutrition, Single Payer housing, Single Payer education, Single Payer transit, Single Payer energy, Single Payer retirement savings, Single Payer universal employment?

    Readers here can review for themselves whether I’ve been on the giving or receiving end of the insults in this thread.

  32. Dave Schwab

    Yes, we are in fact talking about a system that needlessly kills 45,000 Americans every year. If you want anecdotal evidence, read comments 14 and 15.

    So you see nothing wrong with a system that kills more of your fellow Americans every year than a dozen 9/11s. While consistently invoking the complaint that the government is holding a gun to your daughter’s head – that hasn’t ever really happened, now has it? And you support an unprovoked invasion of another country, based on falsehoods, in which there are real guns and real bombs really killing people every day.

    does not compute

  33. Brian Holtz

    Thanks for the Iraq red herring fallacy; it’s a handy indicator that you’re losing this debate.

    Re-read my questions @12, and quote me their answers @14 and @15. You can’t.

    I never said that a gun has been put to my daughter’s head. I said that her obligation to pay for your charitable ambitions is backed up by legal force that will use handcuffs, guns, and jails if she doesn’t comply. You don’t seriously claim to deny that, do you?

  34. Brian Holtz

    This has been fun, but I have better things to do with my time, and there are more competent Lefty polemicists around the blogosphere for me to test my arguments against. I will endeavor to resist further responding on this thread for a while, and check back later to see how many of my ten bullet-points above have received serious, thoughtful responses.

  35. Brian Holtz

    If you want to end the argument with my ten points above unaddressed, I too am fine with that. I haven’t declared myself the winner; I’ve just tallied the unanswered arguments on each side, and noted what the use of red herrings says about who’s trailing.

  36. Mik Robertson

    I would have to say I don’t think the federal government of the United States should be deposing genocidal totalitarian WMD-using ballistic-missile-firing neighbor-annexing terrorist-funding million-killing sadistic maniacs who defiantly persist in “material breach” of their agreements to be inspected for cessation of their earlier WMD programmes who do not pose a significant threat to the United States. It simply does not have the authority to do that.

    While people have a right to choose their health care preferences, there is no right to have anyone else pay for it. A social safety net is one thing, providing full medical coverage for all coverage is quite another. It is the difference between planning to avoid having to use the government system and planning your life around the government system.

    Why is it called single-payer when in fact it is everyone who is paying?

  37. Preston

    “There is no category there for “unfortunate things that would happen less often if everyone were forced to donate toward mitigating them”.”

    Brian, I have to say…your intuitions on these issues have been warped by an idealistic view of free markets.
    Do you really think that no amount of pain and suffering could possibly justify “initiation of force” (or whatever libertarian phrase you want to use there)? Because that’s just wild. If the gov. could save 5 billion people by sacrificing 10 peoples liberty, then it just seems obvious, to the non-theory-laden mind, that the gov. damn well better save the 5 billion people.

    So if the gov. can save 18,000 people a year (a fact you dispute, but let’s assume its true for the sake of argument here), why is it patently wrong for it to “initiate force,” a.k.a raise taxes a little bit, in order to save 18,000 lives?

    I’m also not sure what kind of weird metaphysics you are presupposing when you talk about basic human rights. Seems to me that that is an outdated theory. Human rights are based on utility. What else are they based on? Are they created by God? In what religious text does God talk about human rights?

    Our country is wealthy enough to afford medicare-for-all, so health care should become a human right.

  38. Brian Holtz

    Preston, thanks for your thoughtful response.

    You have to distinguish between 1) personal ethics in a lifeboat or Trolley Problem scenario and 2) institutional design of government.

    If, by some quirk of science fiction or historical accident, I were personally faced with a lifeboat-style choice, I would make what I consider to be the utility-maximizing choice. And if that involved violating anyone’s individual rights, then I would subject myself to the judgment of a jury of my peers.

    But I don’t face such a choice, and neither do you, and neither does President Obama. What we as a polity instead face is a choice about the institutional design of government.  I maintain that the design I favor actually saves more lives than yours does in the long run.  One of the ways it does that: for any level of income redistribution that you might fantasize about, my design will actually deliver that increase in living standards within two or three decades.  And then it will deliver another such increase in the subsequent decades, while your nanny state has imposed Eurosclerotic pressure against such growth in our living standards.

    Another way it does that is by restoring nature’s safety net, by ensuring that everyone enjoys their inalienable right of equal access to the natural commons of the Earth. The details require understanding a technical economic concept called ground rent, but the result is what we geolibertarians call a citizen’s dividend.  It’s a handy thing, because it erases your claim that my design will leave the indigent to die on the street.  Sorry, but you’ll have to find a less melodramatic and emotional argument to support your proposed design.

    Of course, you still won’t agree that my design works better, because you probably think that the outcomes we both want will only happen if centrally planned and imposed by force.  So let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that you’re right, and that we can in the long run prevent more deaths by means of forcible government appropriation of people’s labor, peaceful production, and voluntary exchanges.

    If so, then I have some questions for how you plan to legislate your moral calculus. How much of other people’s money are you willing to spend to save one more life?  How do you decide that level?  And how do you decide how far your concern reaches?  Will you be rescuing all the cheap-to-save people in Africa before you start rescuing the expensive-to-save people here in America?  If not, then how are you not a horrible xenophobic monster?

    (Note to any observant anarchist critics following along: I consider it crucial that such a calculus should not be legislated, but also unavoidable that cops and soldiers must apply some such calculus — because they are in the lifeboat business. Their decisions are to be reviewed by jurors and voters, not pre-programmed by legislators.)

    Whence individual rights?  Great question.  Not from any gods — they don’t exist. For the purposes of political discourse, I stand with Jefferson.  In this context, I hold these truths to be literally self-evident:

    • All persons are created equal, and are endowed at their creation with the inalienable right of equal access to the natural commons of the Earth — everything that is neither a person nor in any way a product of persons.
    • Each person has full rights to his body, labor, peaceful production, and voluntary exchanges, but he must compensate those whose access he impairs when he monopolizes, depletes, pollutes, or congests a natural commons.

    If, for whatever reason, you think that some people don’t deserve these rights, or that nobody fully deserves all these rights, then there are inherent limits to how far we’ll be able to get along peacefully. If your vision of government becomes too destructive of these individual rights, then I agree with Jefferson that it is the right of me and my neighbors to alter or to abolish your government, and to agree to such new governance as to us shall seem most likely to protect our liberty.

    But I doubt it will come to that, and to help prevent it I’m willing to share my own underlying political ethics with you. (This has nothing to do with metaphysics, which is the study of being.)  It’s too long to paste here, but my ethics are described in the Axiology section of my book.  Enjoy.

    I have to say, I find your last sentence very disturbing.  Are you seriously advocating as a principle of ethics that your mere proximity to wealth entitles you to a share of it?  I.e. that what rights you have changes according to how much stuff is owned by the people around you?  Can you please explain how this ethical principle is distinguishable from that of a common thief?  Has some god vouched that your utility function is more noble than the thief’s?  Would you bet that there are no thieves in the world who give a bigger fraction of their income to charity than you do?

  39. paulie

    Milnes,

    “he pushes his agenda including videos & sparkly unicorns much like paulie. So I say brian & paulie are far bigger “trolls” than I am.”

    IPR writers can post pictures and videos, commenters can’t. I’d fix this if I could, but see no way to do it in the admin panel. That has nothing to do with trolling.

    ” & basically Brian’s agenda is libertarian reformism. Well I have personally corresponded with Milsted several times.”

    Did he let you kiss his ring? I mean, we should be awed that we are in the presence of someone who received some email responses from Carl once upon a time, or what?

    ” I think he quit the LP because he created a monster-LRC-& didn’t know what to do about it. It became the rationale for rightists of all sorts to join the LP & basically take it over & move it to the right-exactly the opposite direction it should move.-towards the progressive right & left. ”

    As far as I can tell, the reforms he helped set in motion were not far reaching enough or fast enough for Carl, so he quit the LP. Also, he himself has become more moderate over the years and the party is just to extremist for him now. I don’t think this is a left/right issue – he voted for McCain, IIRC, as did Milnes.

    “Milsted tried to modify the reform to create a “new upper left party” which I believe to be a progressive party equivalent.”

    I’ll believe it when I see it. I’ve offered to help him and have heard nothing. The reality of starting new parties is a lot more difficult than the fantasy, and getting them even to the level of organization the LP has is much harder still.

    “So Brian, how does it feel to be called a troll?”

    Can’t speak for Brian, but it feels damn good to be called one by the likes of you.

  40. Robert Capozzi

    the “most effective” way to save lives would be to ban automobiles, since they lead to the most deaths.

    the methodology that came up with the 18-45,000 number is HIGHLY suspect. The next biggest premature killer might be poverty, and putting the government MORE in charge of health care than it is now would lead to MORE poverty.

    Government doesn’t “create” things. It takes, by force. All we are saying is give peace a chance.

  41. Mik Robertson

    Providing a full system of health coverage for everyone would be fine if it could be funded voluntarily.

    That is what makes the concept of geo-rent better than what we have now, if you don’t want to pay, don’t exclude people from land they could otherwise enjoy. The corollaries to the theory are taxes for polluting the natural environment and the extraction of natural resources.

    A government funded in this manner that could provide a single-payer health care plan for citizens that was described would be much better than the proposal with the current funding mechanisms. It still would not give the government any more authority to go after genocidal totalitarian WMD-using ballistic-missile-firing neighbor-annexing terrorist-funding million-killing sadistic maniacs who defiantly persist in “material breach” of their agreements to be inspected for cessation of their earlier WMD programmes, though.

  42. Preston

    “I maintain that the design I favor actually saves more lives than yours does in the long run.”
    Well good. If you can convince me of this, then I’m on your side.
    But it seems the difference between us is that you believe that liberty and justice trump overall well-being, and that’s plausible, but I disagree. We ARE in the “lifeboat business.”

    “If so, then I have some questions for how you plan to legislate your moral calculus. How much of other people’s money are you willing to spend to save one more life?”
    That’s way too complicated for a simple answer, I think you’d agree. But in most cases I am ok with saying plenty, depending on the person’s income. If somebody makes x amount of dollars over and above what they need to live comfortably, I have no issue, ceteris paribus, with forcing them to give up that x amount of dollars to save lives. A life is more valuable than a yacht. Now, let me add the caveat that this doesn’t mean I am pro taxing 100% above a certain income–but the reasons I am against it have nothing to do with “that person worked hard, so they deserve a yacht.”

    “How do you decide that level?” See above.

    ” And how do you decide how far your concern reaches? Will you be rescuing all the cheap-to-save people in Africa before you start rescuing the expensive-to-save people here in America? If not, then how are you not a horrible xenophobic monster?” If I ran the world without fear of revolution, and somehow became immune to the corruption that comes with that, then the answer is yes. An African life is just as valuable as an American life. So, given that its cheaper to give a few cans of Pediasure to a child w/ life-threatening diarrhea than it is to give someone an open-bypass surgery, Yes, I will save the Africans first.

    Finally, you made some point along the lines of what differentiates me from a thief in that situation. Well, I don’t have a moral issue with a Robin Hood-like character…if that’s what your getting at.

    Let me qualify everything I’ve just said–these aren’t things I advocate for right now, because the consequences of such actions are unforeseeable. But my point, more generally, is that to say something like single-payer health care is wrong in principle is to really tie your hands as to what you can do to help people. You keep shifting back and forth from “principled” arguments about rights and self-evident truths to more practical, utility-based arguments. And I’m just saying the latter is the way to go, because rights are not real–its just an emotive “Yay!” for your position. Are you also the type of person who thinks that the right to bear arms is a fundamental human right, even if it would have turned out to cause mass death? (Again, not saying it does, just a hypothetical question.)

  43. Susan Hogarth

    you just stumbled on

    I didn’t ‘just stumble on’ contagion as an example, and more than you just ‘stumbled on’ that phrase as a not-so-subtle insult.

    You can’t just go around calling anything you like a “public good”. It doesn’t work that way. Rivalry and excludability are technical terms in economics. They have meanings — even if some people don’t know what those meanings are.

    And I contend that those ‘technical terms’ are carefully designed to support the agenda of the particular economist who happens to be propounding them. You may disagree, but surely you are mature enough to realize that just because you read something in a textbook it is not equivalent to a revealed law of nature.

  44. Robert Milnes

    5 comments in succession by radical troll Susan.///I contend that since a lot of comment threads wind up as a debate with 2 or a few people usually pretty far off topic, this by definition is trolling & I’ve got no problem with it. Now, calling someone a troll because of a few complaints by people who don’t like what is said & then using that as a pretext to censor, esp. if hypocritical, I do have a problem with that.

  45. Susan Hogarth

    Holtz, funny thing just happened. I was talking to a fellow Lib and, unprompted, he mentioned his econ prof giving fireworks as an example of a ‘public good’. I thought that was amusing.

  46. Brian Holtz

    Fireworks are a public good, because enjoyment of them is non-rival and (to a certain extent) non-excludable.

    But fireworks aren’t about protecting life, liberty, and property from aggression.

    Please re-read where I wrote: “Libertarians oppose tax-financing of public goods — radio broadcasts, scientific research, publicly-visible landscaping and art, charitable safety nets — that aren’t about protecting life, liberty, and property from aggression.”

    Other public goods you might irrelevantly snark about are: jokes, hairstyles, the English language, lighthouses, open-source software, and streetlights.

  47. Susan Hogarth

    Gotta love the irony of ‘protecting life, liberty, and property from aggression’ … by aggressing against those who have different priorities.

    “Public goods” strikes me as just about as politically self-serving a concept as the “social contract”. In fact, it strikes me that it *is* basically the social contract, clothed in academic-speak.

  48. Brian Holtz

    Re: “aggressing against those with different priorities”

    What aggression? I guess now I have repeat the sentence that came right after the one I just had to repeat to you (and that you have now ignored as you’ve skated on to your next throwaway snark):

    (Some of us go further, and say that even those protection public goods should only be financed by the return to the community of the appropriated ground rent that those public goods create.)

    See Appropriating Ground Rent Is Aggression.

    The “social contract” is a normative concept; “public goods” is a positive concept. It’s simply a straightforward application of its component ideas of rivalry and excludability.

    I’m quite surprised by your implicit concession that if public goods actually exist, then the argument for government is irrefutable. However, I think you (implicitly) concede too much, and that we libertarians should oppose tax financing of public goods that are not for protecting life, liberty, and property from aggression.

    But let’s test your need for metaphysical certitude that you never ever are involved in force initiation against an innocent:

    1) Do you support the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to subpoena innocent third-party witnesses? That’s initiation of force, but it’s for the purpose of protecting individual rights.

    2) Do you support the arrest, detention, and compulsory trial of those accused — but not yet convicted — of violent crime? That’s a sometimes-force-initiating policy unless you magically know that innocents will never be arrested.

    3) Do you support enforcement of a positive obligation on parents to not let their children starve to death?

    4) Do you support class-action tort rulings that apply a uniform default penalty to a broad category of micro-aggression (such as tailpipe pollution) without a jury-determined calibration of the penalty to the circumstances of each aggressor?

    5) In a just defensive war against an aggressor army, would you approve of the use of weapons that have a non-zero chance of killing innocents (artillery, bombs, mines, heck even repeating rifles when used in urban areas)?

    Can you really answer “no” to all such questions? Would you really prioritize your clean hands over the protection of individual rights — and by so wide a margin?

  49. Susan Hogarth

    What aggression?

    You know, we use the same symbols strung together in similar ways, so that it often seems as if we’re speaking the same language, but sometimes I really wonder.

    You can define ‘protection’ as a taxworthy public good, describe whatever you think necessary to accomplish as ‘protection’ of someone or other, and define ‘collection of ground rent’ as non-aggression. And that little trick of defining the innocents trampled on the way to getting whatever ‘protection’ you deem necessary as an overall reduction in aggression is really handy. But that’s just not the way I understand aggression, and your assuring me that forcing me to pay for Project X is for my own good (or at least for someone’s own good, or for the greatest good for the greatest number, or whatever) is, I’m sorry to say, somewhat less than reassuring.

    I’m quite surprised by your implicit concession that if public goods actually exist, then the argument for government is irrefutable.

    I’d be too, if I had made such an ‘implicit concession’.

  50. Brian Holtz

    Susan, I’m not here to reassure you. “I didn’t say this would be easy. I just said it would be the truth.”

    I repeat: as a geolibertarian, I’m not “forcing you to pay for Project X for your own good or the greater good”. I’m just asking you not to violate people’s right of access to something that human labor never made: the surface area of the Earth. And I already said I wouldn’t even use “force” to stop such aggression: “If the holder of a parcel declines to return to the community the ground rent he appropriates from them, then we’d simply disconnect him from our wires and pipes, and while he’s in arrears we’d publish his name, address, and photo as someone whose property and person are excluded from the protections of our land-value-tax-financed police and courts.”

    So yes, the fundamental issue here is that we don’t agree on precisely what constitutes aggression. That’s why the draft St. Louis Accord says: “Principled libertarians can disagree about how best to reduce aggression or even about precisely what constitutes aggression, but we are united in defending the full rights of each person to his body, labor, peaceful production, and voluntary exchanges.” I’m curious if you find anything in the accord to object to.

  51. Thomas M. Sipos

    I don’t know doodley-squat (to borrow a term from Kurt Vonnegut) about what “geolibertarianism” is supposed to be. And I’m not gonna work too hard to find out.

    But this “ground rent” sounds like a “property tax.”

    and while he’s in arrears we’d publish his name, address, and photo as someone whose property and person are excluded from the protections of our land-value-tax-financed police and courts

    Sounds like if someone can’t pay her property taxes, your system would publicly declare open season on that person. “Hey, this woman hasn’t paid her property tax! Feel free to rob, rape, or murder her.”

    As a minarchist, I prefer our limited Constitutional republic (as properly conceived, not as currently practiced), in which even people who can’t pay taxes have their fundamental liberties protected.

  52. Brian Holtz

    A geolibertarian collection of ground rent would indeed be somewhat like a property tax, with some crucial differences:

    1. The “tax” would only be on site value, never on improvements or structures or any other product of labor.
    2. The “tax” would be zero on land at the margin of production — think Ted Kaczynski’s shack in the woods. Ground rent is the excess product/benefit from a site compared to unused sites.
    3. The tax basis could be self-assessed. Your basis is what you’d be willing to sell for, and if given a real offer for that much, you either sell or raise your tax basis.
    4. The “tax” could be deferred until you transfer ownership of the site, so nobody is ever taxed off the land they hold. When a site that is in arrears is attempted to be sold, it would be forfeited for auction if an attempted sale would not cover the back taxes plus interest (no penalties). Thus you can hold your land as long as you want, but you can’t reap a speculative profit from the accumulated ground rent (site value) created by surrounding development.
    5. As I mentioned, an alternative way to encourage paying the “tax” is to deny the landholder, to the extent feasible, the benefits of the community goods and services that create the ground rent (i.e. extra site value) in the first place.

    Land value “taxes”, along with pollution fees and resource depletion fees, are the only kind of “taxes” I know of that are arguably not force-initiating. Thomas, I’m curious what kind of taxes your minarchist Constitutional republic would collect, and how you defend them from charges of force-initiation.

    Land-value taxes are defended as the least harmful kind of tax by LP founder David Nolan and by many prominent libertarian economists: Friedman, Buchanan, Solow, Modigliani, Samuelson, Simon, Tobin, Vickrey, Cowan. This is because land-value taxes

    • have no deadweight loss, unlike taxes on exchanges/income/production
    • are trivial and non-intrusive to assess and collect: no need for tax forms, IRS, audits, or even site visits
    • are naturally local, and so encourage Tiebout Sorting (voting with your feet)
    • can only extract the extra value actually created by public services, creating pressure to defund public services that do not actually add value in the free market for land.

    LVT were also advocated by many famous classical liberals:

    • Adam Smith
    • Thomas Jefferson
    • Tom Paine
    • William Penn
    • Ben Franklin
    • Frederic Bastiat
    • John Stuart Mill
    • David Ricardo
    • Henry George
    • John Locke
    • William Lloyd Garrison
    • John Dewey
    • Lysander Spooner
    • Benjamin Tucker
    • Robert LeFevre
    • Frank Chodorov
    • Albert J. Nock
  53. Brian Holtz

    Preston, I do NOT “believe that liberty and justice trump overall well-being”, and I explicitly said otherwise: “I maintain that the design I favor actually saves more lives than yours does in the long run.” Again: the best possible reform for improving “overall well-being” now is to go back in time and start (the West’s approximation of) free-market industrial capitalism fifty years earlier.  There is absolutely no amount of feel-good confiscation+redistribution you could propose that would improve “overall well-being” nearly as much.  If you believe that people being unable to afford health insurance right now is “killing people”, then you need to understand that retarding market-driven economic growth is killing even more people.  One kind of death is easier to point out to bipedal omnivorous tool-using primates, because evolution hasn’t equipped us to think in counterfactuals very well.  But make no mistake: your proposals involve counterfactuals just as much as mine do.

    I don’t accept that a you’ve adequately answered my question “How much of other people’s money are you willing to spend to save one more life?”  All you said was “blah blah blah x < 100% blah blah blah”.  The Single Payer law you ask for would have actual numbers in it, not just “x < 100%”.  So are you OK with 99%?  75%?  50%?  Again: tell me what your limit is, and how you justify it.  And remember: my X is not 0%, because I favor nature’s safety net (a citizen’s dividend financed by a land-value tax).  So if there is even one life that you wouldn’t save by raising the tax rate to 100%, then you are guilty of the same charge being leveled against me, and the difference is only in degree.

    Your answer about savings Africans shows that you are no more immune from facile charges of wishful policy-making than I am. It was your side that here played the card of “you see nothing wrong with a system that kills more of your fellow Xs every year”.  If you’re willing to let more African children die every year so that middle-class Americans can get “free” health care, then how is that any less monstrous than what I allegedly am proposing to allow happen?

    You claim: “to say something like single-payer health care is wrong in principle is to really tie your hands as to what you can do to help people.”  No, it simply ties your hands as to what you can do to help people with the stolen money of other people.  Your expanding-Medicare proposal is especially perverse, because Medicare is straightforward intergenerational larceny, and many of its beneficiaries are far wealthier than the working poor whose payroll taxes finance Medicare.  Unless you’re willing to means-test every social program you propose, you can’t even claim the dubious moral status of being a Robin Hood.

    You, Preston, are still free to “help people” as much as you want. And if you claim that I’m not trying to “help people”, then you simply haven’t grappled with my proposal. As far as I can tell, none of you Medicare advocates here have said a single word about why it’s not better than yours.

    I’m not “shifting back and forth” between principle and utility; I’m just saying that both are on my side.

    As it happens, I just addressed the topic of gun rights this morning.

  54. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian one of the big problems seems to be with the idea of tax exemptions. You still have the free rider problem.

    And yes I do know a bit about this I was on a panel at one of the conventions some years ago.

  55. Susan Hogarth

    Land-value taxes are defended as the least harmful kind of tax..

    The common cold is arguably among the ‘least harmful’ human diseases. I still don’t want to be out there campaigning for it, and it still causes great misery.

    Yeah, the makers of benedryl get rich because of it. I guess some people benefit from taxes, too.

  56. Brian Holtz

    For every instance of aggression, the aggressor can usually be assumed to judge that he benefits from the aggression (at least compared to not committing it). This is true not only of the many tax aggressions that Susan and I both oppose, but also of the ground-rent-appropriating aggression that I oppose but that Susan tolerates. As for facile analogies to microorganisms, two can play that game. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_flora:

    There are more than 500 bacterial species present in the normal human gut and are generally beneficial: they synthesize vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin K and biotin, and they ferment complex indigestible carbohydrates.

    So now we know a little more about what Susan thinks about viral rhinopharyngitis (i.e. the common cold), but are still in the dark about what she thinks about

    • a St. Louis Accord;
    • the five political-ethics questions I asked @60;
    • whether any force-initiation is involved at all in a land-value “tax” enforced merely by withdrawing public services;
    • whether it’s aggression to violate the Lockean provision to leave “as much and as good” when excluding people from unowned land;
    • her secret list of neighbor-annexing totalitarians that America could depose right now;
    • why (even anarchist) economists recognize that “public goods” is a positive concept rather than a normative one;
    • whether it was “amusing” for her to hear that public goods also include jokes, hairstyles, the English language, lighthouses, open-source software, and streetlights;
    • why even radicals like David Nolan consider it useful to apply triage to the problem of reducing our tax burden — you know, like doctors do when confronting various kinds of the “diseases” that Susan was snarking about.

    Michael, I confess that I don’t understand your point @66.

  57. Mik Robertson

    The common cold analogy works, it’s just that the cold is the ability to exclude others from a geographic space and the remedy, the benedryl if you will, is the user fee to maintain that exclusion privilege. The beneficiaries of the fee are the people who are, or could be, excluded from the land.

    It seems if you really want to promote freedom you would want to not have large areas where people can be excluded and not want to limit choices people can make about their health care.

    The existing medicare system is unmanageable. It is estimated there is $60 billion a year in fraud, let alone other waste and inefficiency in the system. What is the cost in terms of human health and lives from those losses? Is there any reason to think a larger system will be managed any better?

  58. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian as I understand it there will still be organizations that will be exempt from the tax.
    Those perhaps will be religious organizations fraternal groups, non-profit universities, etc.

    If that is so won’t they still be getting services without having to pay for them, assuming that the minor amount of government that does exist under the system will still provide some services.

  59. Brian Holtz

    Ah. No, in a Foldvarian geolibertopia, absolutely no site is exempt from returning its geo-rent, as such exemptions would only distort land-use decisions. From the Free Earth Manifesto: “Bureaucracy Not Exempt. Community agencies and officials should not be exempt from the rules about land and other natural resources.”

  60. Michael H. Wilson

    Okay but I have been told something else.

    Now how has it worked in the areas that have it today?

    And if it was enacted nationwide in the U.S. today how about the seperation of church and state issue? Or any non-profit?

  61. Brian Holtz

    Churches and other non-profits are usually exempt from property taxes, but there’s no good reason for treating them differently.

    Example: In the Silicon Valley suburb where I live, land is worth about $2 million per acre. There is a 20-acre monastery here (adjacent to the mansion recently sold by Barry Bonds, and down the street from Cisco’s CEO) where 16 cloistered elderly nuns sleep on straw mattresses, have no TV, and wake up in the middle of the night to pray. Their only “work” is “prayer”, and they live only on “alms”. I kid you not: http://www.poor-clares.org/losaltos/losaltosl.html.

    Example: About a mile north of here are hundreds of acres of land owned by Stanford University in the hills above campus, with sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay. Nearly all of the land is off-limits to everyone but — wait for it — cows. The university grazes a handful of cows there, in order to comply with Leland Stanford’s requirement that a demonstration farm be maintained on a portion of the vast amount of land he used to create the university.

    So we have nuns and cows, both sleeping on straw, keeping hundreds of acres of prime Silicon Valley residential-grade land off the market, thus propping up property values for me and my zillionaire CEO neighbors, and making sure that their gardeners and maids can’t afford to live anywhere near them.

    For the market to be able to guide all land to its best use, all land has to be treated equally — even land owned by churches and governments. If people really value churches, they’ll either pay for them to occupy prime sites, or they’ll drive a little further to go pray.

  62. Thomas L. Knapp

    Without commenting on Land Value Taxes in particular, I agree with Brian on the “exemption” issue.

    “Separation of church and state” FOR REAL in a system that taxes means “no special treatment for churches — they pony up like everyone else.”

    I could even see some liberty-positive outcomes from such a change.

    For one thing, the IRS would lose its leverage over churches (“stop making political speeches from the pulpit or we’ll yank your exemption,” etc.).

    For another, churches might re-think their own support for this or that government function if they had to pick up part of the check for that program.

    But, from both a practical and ideological point of view, getting rid of taxes makes more sense than extending or “equalizing” them. A lot of Americans attend church. Telling them that their churches will only get to keep a portion of the (already taxed) dollars they stick in the collection plates doesn’t strike me as a very good way to pick up votes.

  63. Jeremy Young

    I’m not a member of the Green Party, but as a proud statist and single-payer advocate I’ll take a swing at Brian’s ten questions in #41.

    1) I don’t disagree with your assessment of statism. However, I don’t believe the use of force is bad in all instances (one of the main reasons I’m not a Green). There is a sort of force that large corporations can exert against the powerless that the market is not designed to protect, and that does not operate along any societally-agreed lines. Given the choice between the unregulated, amoral force of large corporations and the regulated, societally-determined, democratically-controlled force of government, I prefer the latter — even when the first does not involve physical prisons and the second does.

    2) I don’t know enough about the health care system in France to know whether the Cato description is accurate, but let’s assume for argument’s sake that it is. If so, I would dispute the notion that the French system “works” because of the U.S.-style limitations on coverage and private opt-out option. These are choices that were made somewhere down the line by the French government, and I disagree with those choices, even if doing so means increasing the cost to taxpayers.

    3) I would say 44,000 people dying every year from a lack of coverage is a market failure — but to a great degree that is beside the point. The issue is a moral one, not a market-based one. Each society has to determine what type of system is morally acceptable. I would argue the current one is not.

    4) I disagree with Jefferson’s analysis and would replace it instead with the analysis that Madison hints at in Federalist #10 and #51, something I think most commentators fail to understand. Madison’s argument is that the danger to society is not a powerful government, but a powerful person gaining control of government. The Jeffersonian position is to keep government weak so that even if a bad person gains control of it, they can’t do very much damage. The Madisonian position (in the Federalist; he changed his mind later) is more sophisticated. Madison argues that you can design a system whereby government is compartmentalized in such a way that wicked men are trapped in small compartments with small possibilities of advancement, and whereby their ambition and wickedness actually drives the proper functioning of government. This is an argument for separation of powers and bureaucratization of government (and Madison was vehemently against a too-powerful executive), but it is not an argument for a weak government.

    5) Your “safety net for the truly indigent” doesn’t go far enough because the “truly indigent” aren’t the only ones who need financial security; if they were, private charities would be able to do the job. The problem isn’t a bunch of war veterans with broken legs (although those are a problem too) but perfectly able-bodied people who are being worked too hard for too little, or who aren’t able to get jobs at all. Your system wouldn’t be able to provide for those people.

    6) The Supreme Court has not upheld your reasoning with regard to Medicare. If they do so at some future date, I would support a constitutional amendment to Constitutionally mandate universal health care.

    7) Medicare imposes unfunded liabilities on your kids so it can pay for their health care when they grow old, because society has decided that is the morally right thing to do. It is a problem that the liabilities are unfunded, and we need to raise taxes, a lot, so we can fund them. People want to have it both ways, and politicians are too cowardly to point out that it just can’t be done — either you cut services or you raise the taxes necessary to fund them. You support the former; I support the latter.

    8) Morally, it doesn’t matter. Morals are allowed to trump the cost-benefit analysis. In my view, we want to be a society that doesn’t let people die for lack of health care that could have saved them. If that costs more in tax dollars, so be it.

    9) Not really. If we could actually guarantee that we could save everyone’s life if we just spent enough money, I’d be in favor of a Marxist system that would make it happen; of the Lockean inalienable rights, property should never be allowed to trump life. However, I do believe the capitalist system allows for more life-saving advancements than any other system, provided it is properly regulated and contained. I also believe that a system that doesn’t allow for free enterprise takes a tremendous hit in quality of life. So I do believe there’s a limit to how much money can and should be spent on saving lives. Universal health care is worth it. Vast unnecessary preventive care — things like giving universal vaccinations for exceedingly rare illnesses — maybe not.

    10) Because we make a value judgment otherwise. Here’s how a society in my view decides what’s moral and necessary: we talk and think about it; we vote on it (directly or indirectly); and then we live by it. I don’t support nationalizing Greyhound because I don’t believe there’s a moral imperative behind it. I do believe we have a moral imperative for universal health care. You disagree, and that’s fine; we vote for President and Congress, and when we elect people who want a universal public option (as we have), we live by it. That is the societal consensus, even though it is not mine, or yours.

  64. Mik Robertson

    I think it is better for government to provide the conditions to allow people to develop into their own moral beings, not implement morality through the force of law. Once you make something law, there is no longer a moral choice and it is no longer a moral action to comply with the law.

    As Jefferson said, to secure the unalienable rights of individuals, governments are instituted. They are not instituted to implement the moral will of the majority.

    Many medical conditions requiring treatment stem from a lack of proper nutrition. Is it a moral imperative that government provide three square meals to everyone everyday? Is it moral to forcibly take money away from households trying to provide good nutrition for their children in order to treat others?

    The very instruments and materials used to save lives, through their manufacturing and distribution processes, contribute to exposures that result in additional medical conditions and death. Is it moral to cause harm in the course of trying to treat others?

    If you isolate one factor and say it is a moral imperative without considering the totality of the action is not trying to address an issue of morality as much as it is using a moral claim to try to promote a specific public policy position. That is not fair dinkum.

  65. Michael H. Wilson

    I tend to agree that everyone should be treated equally even when it comes to taxes. No exemptions. I just have never heard of any place where that is the case.

    I thought Pittsburgh had a land value tax at one time and some other places in the U.S. I’m not sure of all the details and don’t have time to research them.

    I know some cities, or town don’t tax property. It would be interesting to do some comparitive work.

  66. Michael H. Wilson

    The deaths from medical errors in the U.S. are thought to number between 44,000 and 98,000 annually in hospitals. From what I have read that does not include those who die from errors outside of hospitals. Hospital acquired infection are thought to kill about 100,000 annually.

    Then to add to that there was a study published in “Social Science and Medicine” if I recall the name correctly that noted that when the doctors went on strike in L.A. some years ago, maybe about 1960s, the death rate declined.

    My thoughts are that we get more medical intervention than needed and no one is doing anything about that.

  67. Mik Robertson

    Pittsburgh put a two-tiered tax system in place in 1913, but because of the extraordinary circumstances involves with the environment around such a concentration of heavy industry, it may be best to look at the city after the 1970’s when the steel industry declined to the point where thephysical environment substantially changed.

    Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania state capital, did a similar measure in 1977. Other Pennsylvania cities that have adopted modified Georgist tax systems include Scranton, Aliquippa, New Castle, Titusville, McKeesport and Clairton.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *