French WW2 Soldier Carries Donkey

Jul 312009

Boy oh boy, would I ever love to know the story behind this picture!

As someone in the comments observed, it gives new meaning to the phrase “hauling ass”!

Brook: Why Are We Moving Toward Socialized Medicine?

Jul 302009

Yaron Brook asks the question that all Americans should be asking, “Why Are We Moving Toward Socialized Medicine?

Here’s his OpEd in full:

Why Are We Moving Toward Socialized Medicine?

By Yaron Brook

Government intervention in medicine is wrecking American health care. Nearly half of all spending on health care in America is already government spending. Yet President Obama’s “reforms” will only expand that intervention.

Prior to the government’s entrance into medicine, health care was regarded as a product to be traded voluntarily on a free market–no different from food, clothing, or any other important good or service. Medical providers competed to provide the best quality services at the lowest possible prices. Virtually all Americans could afford basic health care, while those few who could not were able to rely on abundant private charity.

Had this freedom been allowed to endure, Americans’ rising productivity would have afforded them better and better health care, just as, today, we buy better and more varied food and clothing than people did a century ago. There would be no crisis of affordability, as there isn’t for food or clothing.

But by the time Medicare and Medicaid were enacted in 1965, this view of health care as an economic product–for which each individual must assume responsibility–had given way to a view of health care as a “right,” an unearned “entitlement,” to be provided at others’ expense.

This entitlement mentality fueled the rise of our current third-party-payer system, a blend of government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, together with government-controlled employer-based health insurance (itself spawned by perverse tax incentives during the wage and price controls of World War II).

The resulting system aimed to relieve the individual of the “burden” of paying for his own health care by coercively imposing its costs on his neighbors. Today, for every dollar’s worth of hospital care a patient consumes, that patient pays only about 3 cents out of pocket; the rest is paid by third-party coverage. And for the health care system as a whole, patients pay only about 14 percent.

Shifting the responsibility for health care costs away from the individuals who accrue them led to an explosion in spending. In a system in which someone else is footing the bill, consumers, encouraged to regard health care as a “right,” demand medical services without having to consider their real price. When, through the 1970s and 1980s, this artificially inflated consumer demand sent expenditures soaring out of control, the government cracked down by enacting further coercive measures: price controls on medical services, cuts to medical benefits, and a crushing burden of regulations on every aspect of the health care system.

As each new intervention further distorted the health care market, driving up costs and lowering quality, belligerent voices demanded still further interventions to preserve the “right” to health care: from regulations mandating various forms of insurance coverage to Bush’s massive prescription drug bill.

The solution to this ongoing crisis is to recognize that the very idea of a “right” to health care is a perversion. There can be no such thing as a “right” to products or services created by the effort of others, and this most definitely includes medical products and services. Rights, as the Founders conceived them, are not claims to economic goods, but to freedoms of action.

You are free to see a doctor and pay him for his services–no one may forcibly prevent you from doing so. But you do not have a “right” to force the doctor to treat you without charge or to force others to pay for your treatment. The rights of some cannot require the coercion and sacrifice of others.

Real and lasting solutions to our health care problems require a rejection of the entitlement mentality in favor of a proper conception of rights. This would provide the moral basis for breaking the regulatory chains stifling the medical industry; for lifting the tax and regulatory incentives fueling our dysfunctional, employer-based insurance system; for inaugurating a gradual phase-out of all government health care programs, especially Medicare and Medicaid; and for restoring a true free market in medical care.

Such sweeping reforms would unleash the power of capitalism in the medical industry. They would provide the freedom for entrepreneurs motivated by profit to compete with each other to offer the best quality medical services at the lowest prices, driving innovation and bringing affordable medical care, once again, into the reach of all Americans.

Yaron Brook is the executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights in Washington, D.C. ARC is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand–author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

If you agree with him, then you should tell your elected officials.

The Psychology of Social Media

Jul 302009

Too funny:

(Via BuzzFeed and Eric)

Objectivist Roundup

Jul 302009

Nick Provenzo has the latest Objectivist Roundup over at Rule of Reason. Go check it out!

Feynman on Mirrors

Jul 292009

Legendary CalTech physicist Richard Feynman discusses the classic logic problem, “Why do mirrors reverse left-right but not top-bottom?

Don’t click through unless you want to hear the answer.

Wednesday Open Thread #81

Jul 292009

Here’s yet another Open Thread for your thoughts:

For anyone in the fiery grip of a random question, comment, joke, or link they’d like to share with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. (Please refrain from posting personal attacks, pornographic material, and commercial solicitations.)

Oral Surgery and Evil Mothers

Jul 282009

As my twitter followers know, I had oral surgery on Tuesday afternoon. Some time ago, my gum on a particular molar (#19, in fact) receded beyond the point of safety. The surgery, performed by a periodontist, transplanted a section of gum tissue from my palate (i.e. the roof of my mouth) to that problem spot.

The surgery went very well, but now I have a bunch of sliced-up tissue by that molar, plus a seemingly massive excavation site in the roof of my mouth. All of that will heal up, but for the moment, it’s rather painful — even with the protective dressings around the molar and the palate guard covering the whole roof of my mouth. Plus, I’ve definitely learned the meaning and importance of taking drugs to “get ahead of the pain” via my own failure to take my prescribed Vicodin as soon as possible yesterday. I was only delayed by about an hour, but that made a difference, I think.

Anyway, that’s all just a long-winded way of saying that I’m not much in the mood for blogging. Hence, I’m going to lean on Miss Manners today, as I was totally floored by the woman in this column when I read it:

Dear Miss Manners:

My son got married two years ago, and please keep in mind that my daughter-in-law and I have never had a falling-out. We’ve stayed at their house overnight and were treated wonderfully. We get along fine because I do not want to be a meddling mother-in-law.

However, I’ve got some situations that I do not know how to handle.

1. First, tell me, am I wrong for believing that the bride should acknowledge her groom’s side of the family with a thank-you note for gifts, rather than making the groom write the thank-you? The way they handled it, she wrote the thank-yous to her side of the family and my son wrote the notes to his side. Is this the acceptable way now?

2. Does that also hold true on Mother’s Day? Only my son acknowledges me on Mother’s Day with a phone call, but the both of them acknowledge her mother and both her grandmothers each year by taking them out to brunch or hosting a brunch at their home. Even though we live in another state, I felt slighted again this year on Mother’s Day when all I received was a phone call from my son, no card, nothing. I was brought up to respect both our mothers on Mother’s Day with at least a card, and it was always the wife’s duty to keep the list and remember to buy the cards or whatever.

3. Would I be out of line by sending a thank-you note to my son thanking him for the phone call? I love my son dearly, and it’s not that I expect a gift, but I don’t think it’s very nice to call me up and tell me what they are doing for the other mothers and all I get is a “Happy Mother’s Day.”

4. I really need some answers because I feel that when they start having a family, I will be slighted again where the children are concerned.

Wow. That’s a woman determined to ruin her relationship with her son, then blame it on her daughter-in-law! Here’s what Miss Manners said in reply:

Unless you heed Miss Manners’s advice, you will indeed receive more slights. That is because you are manufacturing them yourself, and she is advising you to stop.

The premise on which you base your grievances — that a wife assumes all social duties because the husband is the sole wage-earner — has long been defunct. Couples sensibly decide for themselves who does what, and dividing correspondence by family is both common and sensible. You wouldn’t care to have Mother’s Day acknowledged by a card from your daughter-in-law and ignored by your son.

So if you expect more than a telephone call, you should deal with him. And not by a thank-you letter if you intend that as a reprimand.

Try saying “Your Mother’s Day excursions sound so delightful that I’d love to join you some time. Would it be convenient for me to visit at that time? Or if it turns out that I’m not able to, I’ll settle for a card.”

Sadly, I don’t think the woman will follow Miss Manners’ good advice — and she’ll make her son and his bride miserable in the process.

Upgrade to HD Television

Jul 282009

Paul and I have been living in the stone ages: we’ve not yet upgraded to high definition television. We bought a 52″ set back in 2001, when HD was way too expensive. We’ve delayed the upgrade as prices dropped so as to get more value from that purchase. But now, with the upcoming NFL season approaching, I just can’t stand it. We’d like to get another large screen — probably about the same size. Any recommendations for buying? Any features that we definitely must have?

Monica Hughes in The Objective Standard

Jul 272009

Dr. Monica Hughes has an article in the Summer 2009 edition of The Objective Standard (TOS) entitled “A Brief History of U.S. Farm Policy and the Need for Free-Market Agriculture“.

I just read it, and I found it very informative. I know very little about farm and agriculture policy, so her article filled in a big gap in my knowledge. If you’re not a subscriber, you can purchase a PDF of the article from TOS for $4.95 at the article link.

She also runs a website devoted to free market agricultural policy, Free Agriculture – Restore Markets (FARM).

Congratulations, Monica!

As a side note, this the fifth Objective Standard article written by members of our local Front Range Objectivism Group, all done pretty much by people working in their spare time on top of their regular day jobs.

The list of TOS articles from FROG members includes:

Monica Hughes, “A Brief History of U.S. Farm Policy and the Need for Free-Market Agriculture“, Summer 2009.

Ari Armstrong, “Lest We Be Doomed to Repeat It: A Survey of Amity Shlaes’s History of the Great Depression“, Spring 2009.

Paul Hsieh, “Mandatory Health Insurance: Wrong for Massachusetts, Wrong for America“, Fall 2008.

Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh, “Moral Health Care vs. ‘Universal Health Care’“, Winter 2007.

Diana Hsieh, “Egoism Explained: A Review of Tara Smith’s Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist“, Spring 2007.

I’d especially like to thank Craig Biddle, editor of The Objective Standard, for his hard work in publishing such a consistently strong journal, as well as for providing a great platform for new writers such as me.

Faith in Atheism

Jul 272009

Here’s another funny bit from the BBC sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Look — this one on atheism:

Oh, and here’s Abraham and Isaac:

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