Re: Medicare Cuts; Why Medicare is Not a Caring Policy

As explained by the heading on my blog, I am taking a government class at my community college. My classmates posted on her blog, Farren’s Inside Look, regarding Texas legislation to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by taking money from Medicare funds.

I agree with the main point of the article. It makes no sense to take from one major insurance program to give to another. I think its just politics, little else. As stated by George Bernard Shaw, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”[1] The issue I have with the article is in the last two paragraphs. The assertion Farren makes is that Medicare is the future of America’s seniors and therefore is worth keeping around. I respectfully disagree. Medicare is a bad policy for the same reasons as other government welfare programs. The dilemma with government welfare programs such as Medicare is that either 1) money comes from taxpayer right back to taxpayers, and some mysteriously disappears along the way; or 2) Money goes from taxpayers to non-taxpayers and then Government has become no better than any thief.

The first problem is that when government takes money from people via taxation and then decides to give it back to them, some will inevitably disappear through government’s “butter fingers.” At best, it is useless; at worst, it causes economic lag. According to Economists James D. Gwartney, Ph.D., and Richard L. Stroup, Ph.D.:

“In the United States, studies indicates [sic] that it takes businesses and individuals approximately 5.5 billion worker-hours (the equivalent of 2,750,000 full-time workers) each year just to complete the taxation paperwork. This compliance cost adds approximately 15 cents to every dollar of tax revenue raised by the government.”[2]

Fifteen percent mysteriously disappears in the process of just getting tax money to the government, and that’s not counting administration of the programs. On the other hand, when people can keep more of their money and invest it as they see fit, and then the money can be more effectively utilized. Therefore, I think that Medicare money should be given back to the people in the form of tax-cuts.

Secondly, it is morally wrong for anyone, especially the government, to plunder one person to “give” to another. If a person stole money from one person while threatening to take their property, he would be punished as a criminal. It doesn’t matter if he had the benevolent ends of helping someone in need fund their health care. Yet, government somehow claims immunity from this law. Justice Brandeis had some very insightful words for us when he said: “Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law…”[3] No matter how benevolent the acts of the government be, sponsoring Medicare-like programs is still plunder if it takes from one person to “help” another.

After realizing the facts outlined above, Texas hero Davy Crockett stated before Congress:

“We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.”[4]

I believe its time for Texas government to grasp this idea and realize that it has no more right to steel than anyone.

A note I believe I need to add: I am not attacking anyone who uses programs such as Medicare, Welfare, CHIP, etc. In fact, I was on CHIP for a while. I understand that such people have paid the government a lot of money, and should get at least a little bit back. I just believe that we should stop funneling money through a bureaucracy that has butter fingers and start letting people keep more of their own money.

References

I recommend The Law by Frederick Bastiat. It is an excellent primer on the philosophy of freedom.

1. George Bernard Shaw. Everybody’s Political What’s What? (1944) ch 30. http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/179.html

2. James D. Gwartney and Richard L. Stroup. What Everyone Should Know About Economics and Prosperity. (1993) p 76. available at: http://oldfraser.lexi.net/publications/books/econ_prosp/

3. Justice Louis Brandeis (dissenting). Olmstead et. al. v. United States. 277 U.S. 438. (1928) http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=277&invol=438

4. David Crockett. “Not Yours To Give” originally in: Edward Sylvester Ellis. The Life of Colonel David Crockett (1884). http://www.house.gov/paul/nytg.htm

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What is property?

On the O’Brian FACTor today, I’m getting a little more pro-active. This is an essay on a subject very near to my heart; property rights. Hope you enjoy! Please feel free to post comments for and against if you feel inclined to do so.

Private Property is a phrase thrown around a lot. Often, we’re told of the atrocities eminent domain has claimed against private property. But what is property? James Madison, a man known as the “founder of our constitution” explained to us that private property is a “ketch-all” phrase, that “In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right…”[1] Now that is a broad definition.

The founder’s love of the right of property was put into the Fifth Amendment in the Bill of Rights with two prohibitions to protect the right of property:

No person shall […] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due
process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just
compensation.” [2]

Over the years, battles have been fought over what is meant by this clause, and most of it has focused on the right to own land property. Very little has recognized the far-reaching implications of the word “property” as originally intended.

James Madison, who (rather unwillingly) drafted the bill of rights as well as the main body of the constitution, enumerates what he meant by “property” in the essay quoted above. Two main threads come from his broad definition as “‘that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.'”[1] The second was inclusive of opinions, speech, etc. The first (which I would like to focus on most) was not only inclusive of land property but, as he stated:

“In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandize, or money is called his property.”

Notice, not just his land. Private property rights included money and merchandise. If we may then insert this definition into the Fifth Amendment,

…nor shall private [money or merchandise] be taken for public use,
without just compensation.[3]

What is taxation? Princeton provides an obvious definition:

“charge against a citizen’s person or property or activity for the support of government” [4]

Taxation is basically the government charging the people so it can survive; private money taken for public use.

So, then, if the courts would interpret this clause as it was intended to be interpreted, then any tax that did not go back to compensate the individual it had taxed would be unconstitutional by the fifth amendment. This does not mean that the government can’t tax people; there just has to be some kind of compensation to every individual who is taxed. It means that government can’t constitutionally steal from one person to give to another person. Such “legal plunder” is unjust, should be unconstitutional, and is just plain wrong!

Imagine with me that a lawn service comes to your door, points a gun at your head, forces you to pay them for mowing, and then, the next day, decides that you “aren’t qualified” to receive their benefits. Every time the government taxes someone without paying them back with some kind of service, they are doing the exact same thing! Now, imagine with me the Salvation Army coming through your neighborhood to do the same thing. Yes, that’s government “charity programs.” You can probably spot them; affirmative action, welfare, etc.

This theory of the original meaning of private property has many implications. Ultimately, it has effects on both the feds and each state government as well. It would not only mean a more fair taxation, but also less taxation on both levels.

Let me leave you with the words to Davy Crockett who spoke against forced government charity as a representative from Tennessee before coming to the great state of Texas:

“We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we
please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a
dollar of the public money.”[5]

Then he boldly took this pro-active stance:

“I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay [of my own money] to the object[…]”[5]

Col. Crockett later told a friend that “Money with them [politicians] is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people.”

We should give for charity; but from our own pocket, not another’s.

References

[1] James Madison, March 1792. “Property” in William T. Huchinson et al, ed. The Papers of James Madison. (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1962) in: The Founders Constitution, (University of Chicago, 2000) Ch 16. http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch16s23.html. (accessed 10/2/07)

[2] Bill Of Rights. “Amendment V” (15 December 1791) http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.billofrights.html (accessed 10/2/07)

[3] (paraphrased by me)

[4] WordNet Search “taxation” (Princeton University, 2006) http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=taxation (accessed 10/2/07)

[5] David Crockett “Not Yours to Give” (Project Freedom, n.d.) http://www.house.gov/paul/nytg.htm (accessed 10/2/07)