Sep 272013

Whoops! I forgot to post this when it was published. — DMH

PJMedia published part 2 of my 4-part series on changes in American health care: “How Big Medicine Will Affect Patient Care

Here is the opening:

The first article of this series described how the ObamaCare law is fueling the rise of government-controlled Big Medicine. This second article will take a closer look at how Big Medicine will control how what medical care patients can receive.

I discuss how government controls over health spending will lead to controls on the health care you may be able to receive. These controls interpose the government between the doctor and the patient, endangering the doctor-patient relationship.


Forbes has published my latest piece, “How Much Will Your Life Be Worth Under Obamacare?

Here is the opening:

How much will your life be worth to the federal government under ObamaCare? Less than you might think. We can make an educated guess by looking at which medical screening tests the government U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) considers worthwhile…

I also discuss problems with one-size-fits-all government medical recommendation, and how President Obama and his doctor knowingly violated guidelines set by his own federal task force.

(For more details, read the full text of “How Much Will Your Life Be Worth Under Obamacare?“)


Forbes has just published my latest OpEd, “The Single Most Important Lesson Gun Owners Should Learn From The George Zimmerman Case“.

Here is the opening:

I am a gun owner. I support the 2nd Amendment and the right to self-defense. Although I’m not a police officer or a gun expert, I am one of the 8 million Americans with a concealed weapons permit. And the most important lesson I’ve learned from the George Zimmerman case is, “Don’t go looking for trouble”…



PJ Media recently published my latest OpEd, “Is Obamacare’s Fatal Flaw Taking Effect?

I discuss how ObamaCare requires voluntary cooperation of people who will be harmed by the law — which gives Americans a powerful weapon.  Don’t be a willing accomplice to a law you don’t support!

I’d also like to thank Dr. Megan Edison for allowing me to quote her.

Update: I’m also encouraged by the fact that some former supporters of the law appear to now be having second thoughts: “Unions break ranks on ObamaCare” (The Hill, 5/21/2013)


On May 2nd, John McCaskey emailed me the following awesome bit of news:

Tonight in Manhattan, I went to hear Brad Thompson speak at NYC Junto. There were announcements before he spoke. A woman got up to alert the audience to a new development in libertarianism, the moral shift from Rand to Hayek and Rawls. She spoke for only a minute or two and then handed out copies of this:

Awesome, no? If you’ve not yet heard my interview with John P. McCaskey about “Libertarianism’s Moral Shift” from 10 April 2013… don’t miss out!

For more details, check out the episode’s archive page.


The May 7, 2013 online edition of Forbes published my latest OpEd, “Why 3D-Printed Untraceable Guns Could Be Good For America“.

Here is the opening:

In the past few days, Forbes writer Andy Greenberg broke a pair of dramatic stories on Cody Wilson’s quest to build an untraceable plastic gun using commercially available 3D-printing technology. First, Greenberg published exclusive photos of the completed firearm, then he reported on a successful test firing of a live .380 cartridge.

Although the technology is still in its infancy, Wilson’s innovation has already sparked heated debate. Some gun rights advocates (including Wilson) argue this means current gun laws will soon be obsolete. They welcome the fact that home hobbyists may soon be able to build functioning firearms without any background check or government record. Others are alarmed, concerned that this would enable criminals to more easily obtain firearms. Congressman Steve Israel has already stated his intent to modify current laws to ban such guns.

However, Congressman Israel may be too late. Once thousands of motivated hobbyists start downloading open source gun designs and posting their refinements, we’ll likely see rapid technical advances. But Cody Wilson’s real impact on America may not be technological but political — and in a good way…

(Read the full text of “Why 3D-Printed Untraceable Guns Could Be Good For America“.)

Free Objectivists Books Project

 Posted by on 7 May 2013 at 2:00 pm  Activism, Objectivism
May 072013

Jason Crawford recently posted this announcement to OActivists, and I’m reposting it here with his permission. This is a great project, definitely worthy of support!

Free Objectivist Books

You may be familiar with my website Free Objectivist Books, where students sign up to read books by Ayn Rand or about Objectivism, and donors can choose which ones to sponsor. To date we have had over 2,000 students apply and have granted over 800 requests.

Until now, donors have been responsible for sending the books themselves (in the mail or online). Some of you wanted to participate but found this to be too much administrative work.

An easier way to donate

Now there is an easier way to donate, with no hassle. Instead of sending books yourself, you can make a contribution on the site to cover the cost of your books, and one of our site volunteers will send the book on your behalf.

If you’re not already a donor, I encourage you to sign up here.

Volunteers needed too!

If you would prefer to give time and not money, we also need more volunteers. Volunteering can be done online in as little as 30 minutes/week. Contact me personally to sign up.

Hundreds of open requests

There are almost 500 students with open applications, such as John Guarco, studying economics at Duke, who wants The Virtue of Selfishness and says: “I want to learn more about the philosophy of Objectivism. After reading Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, I want to delve more and learn more about Ayn Rand’s tantalizing philosophy.”

Or Shanae Brown, studying neuroscience and philosophy at Ohio State, who says: “I’ve only heard good things about Atlas Shrugged. As a student working and interested in politics I think it would be immensely beneficial to educate myself with the (objectivist) beliefs of Rand–especially in today’s highly entitlement minded society.”

You choose the requests, you receive a personal thank-you from the students, and you hear when they have finished the book and what they thought of it.

Not convinced? Read these testimonials from students and donors.

Free Objectivist Books is the simplest and easiest way to get Ayn Rand’s ideas into the hands of students who want to read them.

I recently donated. I particularly enjoyed seeing the requests of the students and getting their thank-yous, such as this one: “Thank you very much! Just got the book today. 5/6/2013 and starting to read……… NOW! Thanks again :) ” I love that!


I’m thrilled and excited to announce that the Coalition for Secular Government’s lawsuit on campaign finance will be heard by the Colorado Supreme Court tomorrow at 10 am. The hearing will concern the four questions about the relevant law that our judge in federal court — Judge Kane — asked the Colorado Supreme Court to answer.

I’ll be there, of course. If you’d like to attend, the hearing will be at the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center at 1300 Broadway, Denver on Wednesday, May 8th. The hearing starts at 10 am, but you might want to arrive a bit early, as it’s the first case of the day. It’s scheduled to last just 30 minutes.

If you’ve not followed the case, check out the following write-up from the Center for Competitive Politics, the legal advocacy non-profit that has made this challenge to Colorado’s speech-stifling campaign finance laws possible.

Colorado’s Opportunity to Protect First Amendment Rights
By Tyler Martinez

May the government ban the publication of books if they contain only one sentence of express advocacy, such as “Vote for Smith”?

At the oral argument for Citizens United v. FEC, the federal government argued that campaign finance laws could ban a corporation, presumably including book publishers, from producing a book with even one sentence of express advocacy. The government’s stance was so shocking that the U.S. Supreme Court ordered another set of briefings and arguments on that issue, and today we have the famous decision upholding the right of corporations to make independent expenditures.

This May, a similar question will be heard by the Colorado Supreme Court in Coalition for Secular Government v. Gessler. This case centers around a small nonprofit, run by Diana Hsieh, a doctor of philosophy, who wanted to discuss a secular understanding of the principles of life, liberty, and property. To do this, Dr. Hsieh formed a nonprofit corporation, which she named the Coalition for Secular Government (CSG). CSG commissioned a paper discussing its philosophy regarding human personhood, written by Dr. Hsieh and her friend Ari Armstrong. On behalf of CSG, Dr. Hsieh and Mr. Armstrong raised money from their friends to help pay for the costs of writing and publishing the paper. They also ran some Facebook ads and made flyers to let people know about the paper.

The paper is 32 pages long, with 176 endnotes. It makes philosophical arguments concerning the complex public policy debate surrounding the definition of personhood. The paper used a proposed Colorado ballot measure as a backdrop for its discussion on the issue. The paper concludes with a single sentence of express advocacy: “If you believe that ‘human life has value,’ the only moral choice is to vote against Amendment 62.”

This one sentence of express advocacy meant that CSG may be forced to register as a issue committee with the state of Colorado. The state’s own briefing in the case has admitted that, but for this single sentence, the paper would go entirely unregulated by the Colorado government. While Colorado does not ban books, it does demand burdensome reporting and disclosure. Registration requires reporting the names and addresses of people who give more than $20 to help a cause–even if it is free help with Web design by a family member. Registration also requires documenting which post office an organization uses, and from which Office Depot it purchases printer paper.

The costs of failing to file these extensive reports, or not filing properly, can be extreme. One day, Dr. Hsieh’s house flooded and she was a day late with CSG’s required report. She then faced a $50 per day fine. Fortunately, this fine was waived, but only after needing to plead with the Secretary of State’s office. Even normal, non-flood-related compliance with Colorado’s byzantine filing system frustrated Dr. Hsieh and left her in constant fear of fines or lawsuits, just because she wanted to weigh in with her philosophical views.

This is not the first time the registering and reporting burdens required of issue committees has come up in Colorado. In the 2010 case of Sampson v. Buescher, a small group of residents outside of Parker, Colorado, came together to fight being annexed into the City of Parker. These individuals had raised less than $1,000 for their cause when their opposition challenged the failure of the neighbors to register as an issue committee.

In assessing the homeowners’ challenge, the Tenth Circuit concluded that Colorado’s issue committee disclosure and reporting requirements “substantial[ly]” burdened the homeowners’ First Amendment rights. The court relied on Citizens United and held that: “[t]he First Amendment does not permit laws that force speakers to retain a campaign finance attorney, conduct demographic marketing research, or seek declaratory rulings before discussing the most salient political issues of our day.”

Unfortunately, the state of Colorado failed to heed the Tenth Circuit, and CSG had to call the legal team at the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) for help. The CCP legal team filed a complaint alleging that, even though CSG plans to raise no more than $3,500 for updating and publishing their public policy paper, the state of Colorado appears to demand that CSG register as an issue committee. Once registered, CSG will again face all of the burdens of reporting their friends and allies, naming where they bought envelopes, and facing lawsuits and fines from the state for making even the slightest mistake.

Interestingly, CSG’s case was initially brought before a federal court. But Colorado law is so ambiguous that the federal judge had to ask the Colorado Supreme Court just what the Colorado law means. As a result, CCP will be before the Colorado Supreme Court this May 8 arguing the merits of registering lengthy policy papers with only one sentence of express advocacy.

As the Citizens United Court noted, it does violence to freedom of speech when a citizen must hire an attorney just to be sure how to speak. Hopefully, the Colorado Supreme Court will agree with that principle.

For more, check out my prior blogging on campaign finance regulations.

May 062013

Dr. Beth Haynes of the Benjamin Rush Society has a nice OpEd in the Huffington Post, “Almost All Americans Lack Health Insurance“.

She adds much-needed conceptual clarity in the discussion over health policy by discussing the nature of genuine insurance, as opposed to our current system. From her piece:

What is insurance? Think about your auto, life and homeowner’s insurance. Each of these is designed as a means to pay for unexpected, unpredictable, very expensive occurrences outside of the control of the policyholder. Insurance is a means of financially protecting people from the risk of unlikely but high-cost events. To build up sufficient funds, the insured pays a premium calculated on their specific chance of experiencing a covered event. Insurance companies can only stay solvent if what they take in as premiums is greater than what they pay out in claims (plus business expenses and a competitive profit).

So what is it we have that we call health insurance but isn’t? We have the prepayment of medical expenses. We expect our “insurance” to cover predictable, relatively inexpensive events like health maintenance checks, minor illnesses and injuries — and to pay for them with minimal out of pocket spending. Under Obamacare, these expectations will be mandated by law. The new law actually makes it illegal for insurance companies to charge individuals premiums equal to their risk of making claims. It’s like having a law requiring homeowner’s insurance to pay for lawn care, house painting and water heater replacement, while at the same time prohibiting the companies from operating an actuarially sound business.

Instead of genuine insurance, we are moving towards a system of bad pre-paid care.

For more details, read the full text of “Almost All Americans Lack Health Insurance“.

And by the way, under Dr. Haynes’ leadership, the Benjamin Rush Society has been sponsoring an excellent series of debates on important health policy issues. Go check out their website for details and videos!


Forbes has published my latest OpEd, “Big Brother Has A New Face, And It’s Your Boss“.

I discuss how government policies linking employment to health insurance create a powerful incentive for your boss to control his costs by controlling your lifestyle.

My take home point:

…[I]t’s wrong for the government to use economic carrots and sticks to induce private employers to become enforcers of healthy behavior. This is just a subtler form of “nanny state” controls, such as NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg outlawing soft drinks he considers unhealthy.

And once employers start monitoring employee behavior on the grounds of “health costs,” there’s no end to the potential meddling. Who will be the next politically disfavored group after smokers or the obese? Do we want bosses discouraging their employees from owning guns or enjoying mountain biking on the weekends? This is a dangerous road.

(Read the full text of “Big Brother Has A New Face, And It’s Your Boss“.)

Update from Diana: This column was published last Thursday, and it’s gotten over 47,000 views! Way to go, Paul!

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