Saturday, November 16, 2013


By James Craig Green

Cafe Hayek posted the following article about the Obamacare debacle - especially the President's deceitful handling of it - on November 15, 2013:

11-15-2013 CAFE HAYEK Article

I especially liked the question by Major Garett, followed by Obama's long-winded non-response:


Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You say, while the law was being debated, if you like your plan you can keep it. You said, after the law was implemented or signed, if you like your plan you can keep it. Americans believed you, sir, when you said that to them over and over.

Do you not believe, sir, the American people deserve a deeper, more transparent accountability from you as to why you said that over and over when your own statistics published in the Federal Register alerted your policy staff — and, I presume, you — to the fact that millions of Americans would in fact probably fall into the very gap you’re trying to administratively fix now? That’s one question.


With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan you can keep it, I think — you know, and I’ve said in interviews — that there is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate. It was not because of my intention not to deliver on that commitment and that promise. We put a grandfather clause into the law but it was insufficient.

Keep in mind that the individual market accounts for 5 percent of the population. So when I said you can keep your health care, you know, I’m looking at folks who’ve got employer-based health care. I’m looking at folks who’ve got Medicare and Medicaid. And that accounts for the vast majority of Americans. And then for people who don’t have any health insurance at all, obviously that didn’t apply. My commitment to them was you were going to be able to get affordable health care for the first time.

You have an individual market that accounts for about 5 percent of the population. And our working assumption was — my working assumption was that the majority of those folks would find better policies at lower cost or the same cost in the marketplaces and that there — the universe of folks who potentially would not find a better deal in the marketplaces, the grandfather clause would work sufficiently for them. And it didn’t. And again, that’s on us, which is why we’re — that’s on me.

And that’s why I’m trying to fix it. And as I said earlier, my — I guess last week, and I will repeat, that’s something I deeply regret because it’s scary getting a cancelation notice.

Now, it is important to understand that out of that population, typically, there is constant churn in that market. You know, this market is not very stable and reliable for people. So people have a lot of complaints when they’re in that marketplace. As long as you’re healthy, things seem to be going pretty good. And so a lot of people think, I’ve got pretty good insurance, until they get sick, and then suddenly they look at the fine print and they’ve got a $50,000 out-of- pocket expense that they can’t pay.

We know that on average over the last decade, each year premiums in that individual market would go up an average of 15 percent a year. I know that because when we were talking about health care reform, one of the complaints was, I bought health care in the individual market, and I just got a notice from the insurer they dropped me after I had an illness or my premiums skyrocketed by 20 or 30 percent; why aren’t we doing something about this?

So part of what our goal has been is to make sure that that individual market is stable and fair and has the kind of consumer protections that make sure that people don’t get a rude surprise when they really need health insurance.

But if you just got a cancelation notice and so far you’re thinking, my prices are pretty good, you haven’t been sick, and it fits your budget, and now you get this notice, you’re going to be worried about it. And if the insurer is saying the reason you’re getting this notice is because of the Affordable Care Act, then you’re going to be understandably aggravated about it.

Now, for a big portion of those people, the truth is, they might have gotten a notice saying, we’re jacking up your rates by 30 percent. They might have said, from here on out we’re not going to cover X, Y and Z illnesses. We’re changing the — because these were all 12- month policies. They — the insurance companies were no — under no obligation to renew the exact same policies that you had before.

But look, one of the things I understood when we decided to reform the — the health insurance market, part of the reason why it hasn’t been done before and it’s very difficult to do, is that anything that’s going on that’s tough in — in the health care market, if you initiated a reform, can be attributed to your law. And — and so what we want to do is to be able to say to these folks, you know what, the Affordable Care Act is not going to be the reason why insurers have to cancel your plan. Now, what folks may find is the insurance companies may still come back and say, we want to charge you 20 percent more than we did last year, or we’re not going to cover prescription drugs now. But that will — that’s in the nature of the market that existed earlier.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


by Morris and Linda Tannehill
(Introduction and excerpts by James Craig Green)

This was one of the most important books I ever read. The Tannehills capture the radical, anti-statist principles of individual freedom exemplified by the American Revolution. Better yet, the modern libertarian movement was not so focused on eliminating monarchy - addressing issues the Founders couldn't imagine - so the Tannehills' classic (1970's) was profoundly important to me during my libertarian epiphany in the seventies and eighties.

I suddenly realized I was a libertarian in 1980, though I had been positively influenced by Roger MacBride of Virginia in 1976 - Libertarian for President, when I decided NOT to vote. I had voted for Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972, but by the mid-seventies I was already disgusted with politics. I joined the Colorado Libertarian Party in 1980, then started reading Murray Rothbard, Robert LeFevre, Ayn Rand, John Locke, Ludwig von Mises and countess others. This changed my life more than anything else I had ever known.

I recently acquired a newly-published copy of this book, which except for copyright date and credits, is an exact reproduction of the original. I congratulate Cobden Press and Laissez-Faire Books for returning this outstanding classic of freedom principles to the forefront. I like to think of this book as very much like the sentiments of America's great founders, had they lived in the Twentieth Century.

You can download the 175-page book in PDF format from the Mises Institute here: 

OR, if you want a clean, handy perfect bound printed version, you can order the commemorative paperback from Laissez Faire Books, for $10.95, plus shipping.


This blog post includes excerpts below from the first paragraph or two of each chapter. I would encourage anyone interested in human freedom to buy copies of this, read it, and if you like it, buy copies for your friends.


CHAPTER 1 - If We Don't Know Where We Are Going...

If we don't know where we are going, chances are we won't get there.

Our world is increasingly disturbed with dissatisfaction. Myriads of people on every continent are whispering or shouting or rioting their discontent with the structures of their societies. And they have a lot to be dissatisfied with - poverty which increases instep with increasingly expensive anti-poverty programs, endless heavier burdens of taxation and regulation piled on by unmindful bureaucrats, the long death-agonies of meaningless mini-wars, the terrible iron-fisted knock knock of secret police...

Youth are especially dissatisfied. Many long to turn the world upside down, in hopes that a better, freer, more humane society will emerge. But improvements in man's condition never come as a result of blind hope, pious prayers, or random chance; they are the product of knowledge and thought...

CHAPTER 2 - Man and Society

In all of recorded history, men have never managed to establish a social order which didn't institutionalize violations of freedom, peace and justice - that is, a social order in which man could realize his real potential. This failure has been due to the fact - that thinkers have never clearly and explicitly understood three things - namely, 1- the nature of man, 2- what kind of society this nature requires for men to realize their full potential, and 3- how to maintain and achieve such a society

Most self-styled planners and builders of societies haven't even considered that man might have a particular nature...

CHAPTER 3 - The Self-Regulating Market

Government bureaucrats and their allies among the currently influential opinion-molders have made a practice of spreading misinformation about the nature of a free market. They have accused the market of instability and economic injustice and have misrepresented it as the origin of myriads of evils from "poverty" to "the affluent society." Their motives are obvious. If people can be made to believe that the laissez-faire system of a free, unregulated market is inherently faulty, then the bureaucrats and their cohorts in the classrooms and editorial offices will be called in to remedy the situation. In this way, power and influence will flow to the bureaucrats... and bureaucrats thrive on power.

The free-market system, which the bureaucrats and politicians blame so energetically for almost everything, is nothing more than individuals trading with each other in a market free from interference. Because of the tremendous benefits of trade under a division of labor, there will always be markets...

CHAPTER 4 - Government - An Unnecessary Evil

Because the weight of governmental power has such influence on the structure and functioning of any society, ideas concerning social organization have typically centered on the structure of the proposed society's government. Most "social thinkers" however, have taken government as a given. They have debated over the particular form of government they wished their ideal societies to have but have seldom attempted to examine the nature of government itself. But if one doesn't know clearly what government is, one can hardly determine what influences government will have on society...

Government is a coercive monopoly which has assumed power over and certain responsibilities for every human being within the geographical area which it claims as its own. A coercive monopoly is an institution maintained by the threat and/or use of physical force - the initiation of force - to prohibit competitors from entering its field of endeavor...

CHAPTER 5 - A Free and Healthy Economy

Imagine a feudal serf, legally bound to the land he was born on and to the social position he was born into, toiling from dawn to dusk with primitive tools for a bare existence which he must share with the lord of his manor, his mental processes enmeshed with fears and superstitions. Imagine trying to tell this serf about the social structure of Twentieth Century America. You would probably have a hard time convincing him that such a social structure could exist at all, because he would view everything you described from the context of his own knowledge of society. He would inform you, no doubt with a trace of smug superiority, that unless each individual born into the community had a specific and permantly fixed social place, society would speedily deteriorate into chaos.

In a similar way, telling a Twentieth Century man that government is evil and, therefore unnecessary, and that we would have a far better society if we had no government at all, is likely to elicit polite skepticim... especially if the man is not used to thinking individually...

CHAPTER 6 - Property - The Great Problem Solver 

Most social problems which perplex national leaders could be solved fairly simply by an increase of the amount of property owned. This would entail the equally important, general recognition that ownership is and must be total, rather than merely a governmental permission to possess and/or manage property so long as certain legal rules are complied with and "rent" in the form of property taxes is paid. When a man is required to "rent" his own property from the government by paying property taxes on it, he is being forbidden to fully exercise his right of ownership. Although he owns the property, he is forced into the position of a lessee, with the government as landlord. The proof of this is if he fails to pay the taxes the government will take the property away from him...

In a governmentally controlled society, the unrestricted enjoyment of property ownership is not permitted, since government has the power to tax, regulate, and sometimes even confiscate (as in eminent domain) just about anything it pleases...

CHAPTER 7 - Arbitration of Disputes 

Whenever men have dealings with each other, there is always a chance for disagreements and disputes to arise. Even when there has been no initiation of force, two persons can disagree over such matters as the terms and fulfillment of a contract or true title to a piece of property. Whether one party to the dispute is trying to cheat the other(s) or whether both (or all) are completely honest and sincere in their contentions, the dispute may reach a point where it can't be settled without binding arbitration by a disinterested arbiter. If no mechanism for such arbitration existed with a society, disputes could only be resolved in violence in every situtation in which at least one person abandoned reason - man's only satisfactory means of communication. Then, that society would disintegrate into strife, suspicion, and social and economic breakdown, as human relationships too dangerous to tolerate on any but the most limited scale.

Advocates of "limited government" contend that government is necessarsy to maintain social order because disputes could never satisfactorily settled without a single, final court of appeal for everyone and without the force of rules to compel disputants to submit to that court and abide by its decision(s)...

CHAPTER 8 - Protection of Life and Property 

Because man has a right to life, he has a right to defend that life. Without the right to self-defense, the right to life is a meaningless phrase. If a man has a right to defend his life against aggression, he also has a right to defend all his possessions, because these possessions are the result of his investment of time and energy (in other words, investments in part of his life) and are, thus, extensions of that life.

Pacifists deny that man may morally use force to defend himself, objecting that the use of physical force against any human being is never justified under any circumstances... Having made this assertion, they offer no evidence... but merely treat it as an arbitrary primary...

CHAPTER 9 - Dealing With Coercion 

Throughout history, the means of dealing with aggression (crime) has been punishment. Traditionally, it has been held that when a man commits a crime against society, the government, acting as an agent of society, must punish him. However, because punishment has not been based on the principle of righting the wrong but only of causing the criminal "to undergo pain, loss, or suffering," it has actually been revenge. This principle of vengeancy is expressed by the old saying, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," which means: "When you destroy a value of mine, I'll destroy a value of yours." ...Because destroying a value belonging to the criminal does nothing to compensate the innocent victim for his loss but only creates additional destruction, the principle of vengeance ignores, and in fact opposes, justice.

When an aggressor causes the loss, damage, or destruction of an innocent man's values, justice demands that that the aggressor pay for his crime, not by forfeiting a part of his life to "society," but by repaying the victim for his loss, plus all expenses directly occasioned by the aggression (such as the expenses of apprehending the aggressor)...

CHAPTER 10 - Rectification of Injustice 

Since aggression would be dealt with by forcing the aggressor to repay his victim for the damage caused (whenever the use of force was required), rather than by destroying values belonging to the aggressor, the free market would evolve a reparations-payment system vastly superior to and different from the present governmental prisons.

If the aggressor had the money to make his entire reparations payment immediately or could sell enough property to raise the money, he would do so and be free to go his way with no more than a heavy financial loss....

Assuming the aggressor could not make immediate payment of his entire debt, the method used to collect it would depend on the amount involved, the nature of the aggression, the aggressor's past record and present attitude, and any other pertinent variables...

CHAPTER 11 - Warring Defense Agencies and Organized Crime 

Some opponents of a laissez-faire society have contended that, because a governmentless society would have no single, society-wide institution able to legitimately wield superior force to prevent aggression, a state of gang warfare between defense agencies would arise. Then (as they argue), brute force, rather than justice, would prevail and society would collapse in internecine conflict. This contention assumes that private defense service entrepreneurs would find it to their advantage, at least in some circumstances, to use coercive, rather than market, means to achieve their ends. There is a further, unstated assumption that governmental officials would not only prevent coercion but would themselves consistently refrain from initiating force (or that the force they initiated would be somehow preferable to the chaos it is feared would result from an unhampered market).

The second of these assumptions is obviously groundless, since (as was shown in Chapter 4) government is a coercive monopoly which must initiate force in order to survive, and which cannot be kept limited. But what of the first assumption?...

CHAPTER 12 - Legislation and Objective Law 

It has been objected by advocates of government that a laissez-faire society, since it would have no legislative mechanism, would lack the objective laws necessary to maintain social order and justice. This is to assume that objective law is the product of the deliberations of some legislative body, and this assumption, in turn, springs from a confusion about the meaning and nature of law.

The adjective "objective" refers to that which has an actual existence in reality. When used to refer to the content of one's mind, it means ideas which are in accordance with the facts of reality. Mental objectivity cannot be "apart from the human mind," but it is the product of perceiving the facts of reality, integrating them in a non-contradictory manner into one's consciousness, and, thereby, reaching correct conclusions...

CHAPTER 13 - Foreign Aggression 

Many people ask, "But how in the world would a laissez-faire society deal with aggression by foreign nations, since it would have no government to protect it?" Behind this question are two unrealized assumptions: first, that government is some sort of extra-societal entity with resources of its own - resources which can only be tapped for defense by the action of the government - and, second, that government does, in fact, defend its citizens.

In reality, government must draw all its resources from the society over which it rules. When a governmentally controlled society takes defensive action against an aggression by a foreign power, where does it get the resources necessary to that action? The men who fight are private individuals, usually conscripted into government service. The armaments are produced by private individuals working at their jobs. The money to pay for these armaments and the pittance doled out to the conscripts, as well as the money to pay the salaries of that small minority comprising the other members of the armed forces, is confiscated from private individuals by means of taxation. Government's only contribution is to organize the whole effort by the use of force - the force of the draft, taxation, and other more minor coercions, such as rationing, wage and price ceilings, travel restrictions, etc. So, to maintaing that government is necessary to defend a society from foreign aggression is to maintain that it is necessary to use domestic aggression against the citizens in order to protect them from foreign aggression...

CHAPTER 14 - The Abolition of War 

A few hundred years ago, the devastation of periodic plagues and famines was unthinkingly accepted as a normal and inescapable part of human existence - they were held to be either visitations from the indignant God or nature's means of wiping out "excess population." Today, in spite of the volumes of frantically hopeful talk about peace, many people accept the necessity of wars in the same unthinking manner; or at least they feel that wars will be necessary for the rest of foreseeable future. Are wars an unavoidable part of human society? And if not, why have all the years of negotiations, the reams of theories, the solumn treaties and unions of nations, and the flood of hopes and pious prayers failed to bring peace? After all the talking, planning and effort, why is our world filled with more brutal and dangerous strife than ever?

War is a species of violence, and the most basic cause of violence is the belief that it is right or practical or necessary for human beings to initiate force against one another - that coercion is permissible or even unavoidable in human relationships. To the extent that men believe in the practicality and desirabilitiy of initiating force against other men, they will be beset with conflicts...

CHAPTER 15 - From Government to Laissez Faire 

The prospect of real freedom is a laissez-faire society is a dazzling one, but how can such a society ever be brought about? Through the decades, government has silently grown and spread, thrusting insidious, intertwining tentacles into nearly every area of our lives. Our society is now so thoroughly penetrated by government bureaucracy and our economy so engangled in government controls that dissolution of the State would cause major and painful temporary dislocations. The problems of adjusting to a laissez-faire society are somewhat like those facing an alcoholic or heroin addict who is thinking of kicking the habit, and the difficulties and discomforts involved may make some people decide that we'd be better off just staying as we are.

It is naive, however, to assume that we can "just stay where we are." America, and most of the rest of the world, is caught in a wave of economic decay and social upheaval which nothing can stop. After decades of governmental "fine tuning," our economy is now so distorted and crippled that we have a tremendous and ever growing class of hopeless and desparate poor... Government attempts to to aid them,... merely make the situtation worse.... As the poor see their lives becoming increasingly miserable in spite of all the political promises of help, their resentment must grow more violent...

CHAPTER 16 - The Force Which Shapes the World 

But a discussion of how government could be dismantled and how free men could then build a laissez-faire society out of the pieces still doesn't answer the question, "How do we get there?' Politicians are politicians because they enjoy wielding power over others and being honored for their "high positions." Power and plaudits are are the politician's life, and a true politician will fight to the death (your death) if he thinks it will help him hold on to them. Even the gray, faceless bureaucrats cling to their little bits of power with the desperate tenacity of a multitude of leaches, each squirming and fighting to hold and increase his area of domination. How can we successfully oppose this vast, cancerous power structure? Where can we find a force strong enough to attack, undermine, and finally destroy its power...?

...Throughout history, the vast majority of people have believed that government was a necessary part of human existence... and so there have always been governments. People have believed they had to have a government because their leaders said so, because they had always had one, and most of all because they found the world unexplainable and frightening and felt a need for someone to lead them. Mankind's fear of freedom has always been a fear of self-reliance - of being thrown on his own to face a frightening world, with no one else to tell him what to do. But we are no longer terrified savages making offerings to a lightning god or cowering Medieval serfs hiding from ghosts and witches. We have learned that man can understand and control his environment and his own life, and we have no need of high priests or kings or presidents to tell us what to do. Government is now known for what it is. It belongs in the dark past with the rest of man's superstitions. It's time for men to grow up so that each individual man can walk forward into the sunlight of freedom... in full control of his own life!