It’s a Paternalistic World as Obamacare Advocates Admit Their Love for Bossing Us Around

Lego hospitalPresident Obama’s
famous promise
that Americans would be able to keep health
plans they like, even after the passage of Obamacare, has proven to
be so much bullshit. Caught between immovable quotes and
irresistable reality, Barry and friends now double down, explaining
to us that, yes it was a lie, but the deception was for the greater
good, whether or not we individually have been shafted. Welcome to
a world of bare-faced paternalism, in which pundits and presidents
sigh in relief at finally treating us all as so many little pieces
in the snap-together Lego world they’re cobbling together to
replace whatever it was that we inhabited before.

President Obama himself dismissed complaints from people losing
their health coverage because of the Affordable Care Act with an
updated version of “gotta break a few eggs.” In Boston, he shrugged
and
said
, “a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and
it turned out not to be so good.” Since Americans were too stupid
to recognize that their health plans were “substandard,” it’s no
great loss that they were swept away. People should shut up and
shop for a new plan that complies with the law, he suggested,
whatever the
price
or
access to care
.

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post took a
similar for-your-own-good view
of the Affordable Care Act’s
deceptions.

Health-care consultant Bob Laszewski buys insurance on the
individual market in Maryland. His plan’s benefits are excellent.
“I can access every provider in the national Blue Cross
network––about every doc and hospital in America––without a
referral and without higher deductibles and co-pays,” he
writes…

But his plan is ending. The replacements all have tighter
networks, higher deductibles, and higher premiums. And Laszewski
isn’t alone. Many Americans who currently buy insurance on the
individual markets are seeing their plans canceled and finding the
replacement plans have higher premiums or stingier benefits. For
them, President Obama’s promise that “if you like your plan, you
can keep it,” is proving a cruel hoax.

But that’s OK, you see, Klein says, because Laszewski’s
attractive insurance policy existed under the old rules, and had to
make way for the more inclusive, and expensive, new medical
order.

But all the possible solutions have tradeoffs. Laszewski’s
preference, he said in a recent interview, would’ve been for the
administration to grandfather in more existing insurance plans.
That would’ve meant higher insurance premiums in the exchanges, as
healthier people who’re able to buy into the individual market now
would’ve just stayed there. High-risk pools or any other kind of
direct, government-provided insurance or subsidy for the sick needs
to be paid for by someone.

There are no easy solutions to the health-care trilemma. Someone
always loses.

And it’s apparently the administration’s job to pick the losers
according to its policy preferences. Laszewski is too healthy and
successful to benefit from subsidies or mandates that he be sold
insurance. That makes him a loser. So screw you, Bob!

Father knows bestMatt Welch
pointed, last week
to David Firestone similarly rolling his
eyes in the pages of the New York Times at people upset
over the federal government’s increasingly intrusive health
policies. “Republicans were apparently furious that government
would dare intrude on an insurance company’s freedom to offer a
terrible product to desperate people,” Firestone
wrote
.

Yeah, such a “terrible product” that people are pissed that the
new law makes those products go away. But they don’t know better,
so the decision has to be made for them.

But perhaps the most open and honest endorsement of paternalism
you’ll see that doesn’t actually use the words, “all within the
state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state” is in
a column by
Timothy Noah
at MSNBC in which he takes Charles Krauthammer to
task for daring to use the “p” word as a criticism:

What’s most striking here is Krauthammer’s overconfidence that
the word “paternalism” will be received as a crushing blow. In
truth it is neither exceptional nor disturbing for government to
place certain limits on individual choice, even when those choices
affect nobody else.

It is illegal to kill yourself, or to sell yourself into
slavery, or to sell your organs, or to practice prostitution. It is
illegal to take certain drugs, either recreationally (because
they’re addictive and/or potentially harmful) or as treatment for
disease (because their efficacy is not yet proven and/or the side
effects are unknown).  State laws place maximum limits on how
much interest to charge for a private loan. Polygamy is illegal in
all 50 states.  And if a state trooper catches you driving 90
m.p.h., you will be fined, even if yours was the only vehicle on
the highway.

There’s certainly room for argument about whether particular
paternalistic laws are just and humane. But any notion that
government paternalism in general is inherently illegitimate stands
well outside the mainstream of practical governance.

You’ll notice that almost all of the restrictions and bans that
Noah cites as examples of beneficial paternalism have been
specifically criticized by libertarians and other advocates of
personal freedom as government overreach—especially pernicious and
dangerous overreach in the case of drug prohibition. The one
exception would be selling yourself into slavery, which many
libertarians consider a
logical impossibility, since you can’t alienate your free will
.
Maybe that ability will be available as a rider on the new exchange
plans.

Noah dispenses with that inconvenient philosophical hurdle to
his “we all dig paternalism” argument by simply dismissing
consistent objections to exactly that as “outside the mainstream of
practical governance.” Paternalism is nothing for which to
apologize, he tells us, loud and proud. It isn’t a matter of
whether we should all be pushed around by the state, but
only the specifics of the pushing. Nothing else rates
discussion.

So welcome to world of paternalism as explicit policy, in which
substituting the preferences of politicians for our own choices is
a moral good, and lying to us about the outcome of rules and laws
is just fine in the pursuit of a worthy goal.

And if you object? Well, “someone always loses” in the pursuit
of the greater good.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/04/with-obamacare-and-other-policies-were-a
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It's a Paternalistic World as Obamacare Advocates Admit Their Love for Bossing Us Around

Lego hospitalPresident Obama’s
famous promise
that Americans would be able to keep health
plans they like, even after the passage of Obamacare, has proven to
be so much bullshit. Caught between immovable quotes and
irresistable reality, Barry and friends now double down, explaining
to us that, yes it was a lie, but the deception was for the greater
good, whether or not we individually have been shafted. Welcome to
a world of bare-faced paternalism, in which pundits and presidents
sigh in relief at finally treating us all as so many little pieces
in the snap-together Lego world they’re cobbling together to
replace whatever it was that we inhabited before.

President Obama himself dismissed complaints from people losing
their health coverage because of the Affordable Care Act with an
updated version of “gotta break a few eggs.” In Boston, he shrugged
and
said
, “a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and
it turned out not to be so good.” Since Americans were too stupid
to recognize that their health plans were “substandard,” it’s no
great loss that they were swept away. People should shut up and
shop for a new plan that complies with the law, he suggested,
whatever the
price
or
access to care
.

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post took a
similar for-your-own-good view
of the Affordable Care Act’s
deceptions.

Health-care consultant Bob Laszewski buys insurance on the
individual market in Maryland. His plan’s benefits are excellent.
“I can access every provider in the national Blue Cross
network––about every doc and hospital in America––without a
referral and without higher deductibles and co-pays,” he
writes…

But his plan is ending. The replacements all have tighter
networks, higher deductibles, and higher premiums. And Laszewski
isn’t alone. Many Americans who currently buy insurance on the
individual markets are seeing their plans canceled and finding the
replacement plans have higher premiums or stingier benefits. For
them, President Obama’s promise that “if you like your plan, you
can keep it,” is proving a cruel hoax.

But that’s OK, you see, Klein says, because Laszewski’s
attractive insurance policy existed under the old rules, and had to
make way for the more inclusive, and expensive, new medical
order.

But all the possible solutions have tradeoffs. Laszewski’s
preference, he said in a recent interview, would’ve been for the
administration to grandfather in more existing insurance plans.
That would’ve meant higher insurance premiums in the exchanges, as
healthier people who’re able to buy into the individual market now
would’ve just stayed there. High-risk pools or any other kind of
direct, government-provided insurance or subsidy for the sick needs
to be paid for by someone.

There are no easy solutions to the health-care trilemma. Someone
always loses.

And it’s apparently the administration’s job to pick the losers
according to its policy preferences. Laszewski is too healthy and
successful to benefit from subsidies or mandates that he be sold
insurance. That makes him a loser. So screw you, Bob!

Father knows bestMatt Welch
pointed, last week
to David Firestone similarly rolling his
eyes in the pages of the New York Times at people upset
over the federal government’s increasingly intrusive health
policies. “Republicans were apparently furious that government
would dare intrude on an insurance company’s freedom to offer a
terrible product to desperate people,” Firestone
wrote
.

Yeah, such a “terrible product” that people are pissed that the
new law makes those products go away. But they don’t know better,
so the decision has to be made for them.

But perhaps the most open and honest endorsement of paternalism
you’ll see that doesn’t actually use the words, “all within the
state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state” is in
a column by
Timothy Noah
at MSNBC in which he takes Charles Krauthammer to
task for daring to use the “p” word as a criticism:

What’s most striking here is Krauthammer’s overconfidence that
the word “paternalism” will be received as a crushing blow. In
truth it is neither exceptional nor disturbing for government to
place certain limits on individual choice, even when those choices
affect nobody else.

It is illegal to kill yourself, or to sell yourself into
slavery, or to sell your organs, or to practice prostitution. It is
illegal to take certain drugs, either recreationally (because
they’re addictive and/or potentially harmful) or as treatment for
disease (because their efficacy is not yet proven and/or the side
effects are unknown).  State laws place maximum limits on how
much interest to charge for a private loan. Polygamy is illegal in
all 50 states.  And if a state trooper catches you driving 90
m.p.h., you will be fined, even if yours was the only vehicle on
the highway.

There’s certainly room for argument about whether particular
paternalistic laws are just and humane. But any notion that
government paternalism in general is inherently illegitimate stands
well outside the mainstream of practical governance.

You’ll notice that almost all of the restrictions and bans that
Noah cites as examples of beneficial paternalism have been
specifically criticized by libertarians and other advocates of
personal freedom as government overreach—especially pernicious and
dangerous overreach in the case of drug prohibition. The one
exception would be selling yourself into slavery, which many
libertarians consider a
logical impossibility, since you can’t alienate your free will
.
Maybe that ability will be available as a rider on the new exchange
plans.

Noah dispenses with that inconvenient philosophical hurdle to
his “we all dig paternalism” argument by simply dismissing
consistent objections to exactly that as “outside the mainstream of
practical governance.” Paternalism is nothing for which to
apologize, he tells us, loud and proud. It isn’t a matter of
whether we should all be pushed around by the state, but
only the specifics of the pushing. Nothing else rates
discussion.

So welcome to world of paternalism as explicit policy, in which
substituting the preferences of politicians for our own choices is
a moral good, and lying to us about the outcome of rules and laws
is just fine in the pursuit of a worthy goal.

And if you object? Well, “someone always loses” in the pursuit
of the greater good.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/04/with-obamacare-and-other-policies-were-a
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Officer who Shot Toy Rifle-Holding Teen Had Pulled Gun During Traffic Stop a Few Months Ago

Sometimes reckless officer behavior that doesn’t kill someone
can be a sign, as
reported in the UK Daily Mail
:

A driver has come forward saying the deputy who shot dead a
13-year-old California boy after mistaking his fake AK-47 as real
pulled a gun on him also, after he failed to signal a lane change
during a carpool. 

Jeff Westbrook, 57, of Santa Rosa said he was mistreated by
Deputy Erick Gelhaus after being pulled over Aug. 21 in Cotati, so
much so that at one point he asked Gelhaus: ‘Sir, is there
something wrong with you?’

‘I felt like I was watching somebody I needed to help,’ Mr
Westbrook, a program manager at an information technology company,
told CBS of Gelhaus.

‘This was not right. He did not manage this correctly.’

Gelhaus shot Andy Lopez seven times at a Santa Rosa parking
after recieving reports of a suspicious and believing his toy
machine gun was real.

Mr Westbrook was pulled over by Gelhaus for not using his
indicator.

He said he pulled into a shoulder, but offered to move the car
forward because there was not much room next to the driver door for
Gelhaus.

When the car started moving, Gelhaus is alleged to have drawn
his gun.

‘It was about a foot from by face,’ Westbrook said.

‘I’ve never had a gun pointed at me before.’

Reason on the shooting of Andy
Lopez.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/04/officer-who-shot-toy-rifle-holding-teen
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Cameron: British Support For EU Membership is “Wafer Thin”

British Prime
Minister David Cameron, who has promised to hold a referendum on
British membership of the European Union by the end of 2017 if the
Conservatives win a majority in the next general election, has said
that British support for E.U. membership is “wafer thin.”

From the
BBC
:

British people’s support for staying in the European Union is
currently “wafer thin”, David Cameron has said.

The prime minister argued that his promise to renegotiate powers
with Brussels before holding an “in-out” referendum had the
“overwhelming support” of the public.

Follow this story and more at Reason
24/7
.

Spice up your blog or Website with Reason 24/7 news and
Reason articles. You can get the
 widgets
here
. If you have a story that would be of
interest to Reason’s readers please let us know by emailing the
24/7 crew at 24_7@reason.com, or tweet us stories
at 
@reason247.


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Cameron: British Support For EU Membership is "Wafer Thin"

British Prime
Minister David Cameron, who has promised to hold a referendum on
British membership of the European Union by the end of 2017 if the
Conservatives win a majority in the next general election, has said
that British support for E.U. membership is “wafer thin.”

From the
BBC
:

British people’s support for staying in the European Union is
currently “wafer thin”, David Cameron has said.

The prime minister argued that his promise to renegotiate powers
with Brussels before holding an “in-out” referendum had the
“overwhelming support” of the public.

Follow this story and more at Reason
24/7
.

Spice up your blog or Website with Reason 24/7 news and
Reason articles. You can get the
 widgets
here
. If you have a story that would be of
interest to Reason’s readers please let us know by emailing the
24/7 crew at 24_7@reason.com, or tweet us stories
at 
@reason247.


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J.D. Tuccille on the Madness of Law Enforcement’s Escalating Brutality

SWATLaw-enforcement excesses grab an ever-growing
share of headlines. Doors kicked in, people killed, dogs shot,
phone lines tapped, curfews imposed—they’re all examples of
official overreaching at that unpleasant intersection of private
activity and state disapproval. For some people, the implication of
such abuses is that more scrutiny and the right people in charge
will make law enforcement an enterprise which people need not fear.
But that’s not necessarily the case, writes J.D. Tuccille. It may
be that lawmakers have assigned law-enforcers goals so
frustratingly elusive that even angels couldn’t resist the
temptation to escalate tactics to insane extremes, trampling
liberty and decency along the way.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/04/jd-tuccille-on-the-madness-of-law-enforc
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J.D. Tuccille on the Madness of Law Enforcement's Escalating Brutality

SWATLaw-enforcement excesses grab an ever-growing
share of headlines. Doors kicked in, people killed, dogs shot,
phone lines tapped, curfews imposed—they’re all examples of
official overreaching at that unpleasant intersection of private
activity and state disapproval. For some people, the implication of
such abuses is that more scrutiny and the right people in charge
will make law enforcement an enterprise which people need not fear.
But that’s not necessarily the case, writes J.D. Tuccille. It may
be that lawmakers have assigned law-enforcers goals so
frustratingly elusive that even angels couldn’t resist the
temptation to escalate tactics to insane extremes, trampling
liberty and decency along the way.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/04/jd-tuccille-on-the-madness-of-law-enforc
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How Does Free Insurance for Healthy People Pay for Sick People’s Medical Care?

According to a
recent
analysis
by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, about 7
million Americans will qualify for free health insurance policies
under the Affordable Care Act once federal subsidies are taken into
account. That includes about 6 million people who are currently
uninsured and about 1 million who have policies purchased on the
individual market. All of them have incomes that are too high for
Medicaid but low enough to receive subsidies that will fully cover
the cost of a “bronze” or “silver” plan on a government-run
exchange. The New York Times says
this free medical coverage is not only a boon to the
recipients but also a shot in the arm for Obamacare, since “the
availability of zero-premium plans may make the deal especially
enticing to the healthy young people the marketplace needs to
succeed.”

Wait a minute. It’s true that younger, healthier policyholders
are expected to subsidize medical care for older, sicker
policyholders, especially now that it’s illegal to charge people
based on how much covering them is expected to cost. But that works
only if the younger, healthier policyholders are paying for medical
coverage they rarely or never use; if they are not putting any
money into the system, how can they possibly improve its financial
condition?

Instead of paying for the premiums of the young and healthy, the
government could directly subsidize coverage for people who really
need it. Wouldn’t that be cheaper? More generally, Obamacare seems
like an unnecessarily complicated way of forcing some Americans
(the ones who do not qualify for subsidized premiums) to pay for
other Americans’ medical treatment. The mandates, the exchanges,
and the individual insurance requirement combine to transfer
resources from richer, healthier people to poorer, sicklier people.
This hardly seems like the most straightforward or efficient way of
helping people who cannot afford health care, but it does serve to
conceal what is actually going on, to the point that a leading news
outlet claims each healthy person covered at taxpayers’ expense is
somehow saving taxpayers money. 

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/04/how-does-free-insurance-for-healthy-peop
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How Does Free Insurance for Healthy People Pay for Sick People's Medical Care?

According to a
recent
analysis
by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, about 7
million Americans will qualify for free health insurance policies
under the Affordable Care Act once federal subsidies are taken into
account. That includes about 6 million people who are currently
uninsured and about 1 million who have policies purchased on the
individual market. All of them have incomes that are too high for
Medicaid but low enough to receive subsidies that will fully cover
the cost of a “bronze” or “silver” plan on a government-run
exchange. The New York Times says
this free medical coverage is not only a boon to the
recipients but also a shot in the arm for Obamacare, since “the
availability of zero-premium plans may make the deal especially
enticing to the healthy young people the marketplace needs to
succeed.”

Wait a minute. It’s true that younger, healthier policyholders
are expected to subsidize medical care for older, sicker
policyholders, especially now that it’s illegal to charge people
based on how much covering them is expected to cost. But that works
only if the younger, healthier policyholders are paying for medical
coverage they rarely or never use; if they are not putting any
money into the system, how can they possibly improve its financial
condition?

Instead of paying for the premiums of the young and healthy, the
government could directly subsidize coverage for people who really
need it. Wouldn’t that be cheaper? More generally, Obamacare seems
like an unnecessarily complicated way of forcing some Americans
(the ones who do not qualify for subsidized premiums) to pay for
other Americans’ medical treatment. The mandates, the exchanges,
and the individual insurance requirement combine to transfer
resources from richer, healthier people to poorer, sicklier people.
This hardly seems like the most straightforward or efficient way of
helping people who cannot afford health care, but it does serve to
conceal what is actually going on, to the point that a leading news
outlet claims each healthy person covered at taxpayers’ expense is
somehow saving taxpayers money. 

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/04/how-does-free-insurance-for-healthy-peop
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Cory Doctorow Proposes “Kickstarter” Defense Against Patent Trolls, Copyright Trolls, and Copyfraudsters

Patent TrollOver at Locus, sci-fi
author and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow outlines an
intriguing proposal
on how to crowdsource a defense against
patent and copyright trolls. The basic collective action problem is
that trolls have a huge incentive (concentrated benefits) to demand
payments from thousands of allegedly infringing companies and
individuals (diffuse costs) under the threat of expensive lawsuits.
Doctorow reports that patent trolls extort $29 billion annually
from lawsuit-wary companies.

In his new article at Locus, Doctorow offers what he
calls the Magnificent
Seven
solution
. In that 1960 western movie, a farming
village hires seven gunslingers to help defend themselves against
extortionist bandits.

To counter patent trolls, Doctorow suggests that it might be
possible create a Kickstarter-like mechanism to aggregate fees from
companies and individuals to fight back against the trolls, making
it too expensive for them to threaten infringement lawsuits. From
Locus:

Imagine a Kickstarter-style service for a new kind of
class-action lawsuit: the class-action defense…

What would a Kickstarter for Class Action Defense look like?
Imagine if you could pledge, ‘‘I promise that I will withhold
license fees/settlements for [a bad patent/a fraudulent copyright
fee/a copyright troll’s threat] as soon as 100 other victims do the
same.’’ Or 1,000. Or 10,000. Hungry, entrepreneurial class-action
lawyers could bid for the business, offer opinions on the
win-ability of the actions, or even start their own kickstarters
(‘‘I promise I will litigate this question until final judgment if
1,000 threat-letter recipients promise to pay me half of what the
troll is asking.’’)

Basically, it’s the scene where the villagers decide to stop
paying the bandits and offer the next round of protection money to
the Magnificent Seven to defend them.

There’s a lot to like about this solution. Once a troll is
worried about a pushback from his victims, he’ll need to raise a
war-chest, and since the only thing a troll makes is lawsuits,
he’ll start sending more threats. Those threats will attract more
people to the kickstarter, raising its profile and its search-rank.
The more the troll wriggles, the more stuck he becomes.

Doctorow’s proposal does help solve this particular collective
action problem inside the bounds of our current legal environment.
As he notes:

Getting screwed by thieving, amoral ripoff artists sucks. The
reason people give in to the blackmail is because it is
unimaginably, impossibly expensive to fight back. I think that if
we can nudge ‘‘unimaginable and impossible’’ into the realm of mere
‘‘expensive and time-consuming,’’ we’d have armies lining up to
hand these crooks their asses.

As I have argued, a far better solution would be for Congress to
entirely eliminate software and business practice patents, and to
limit copyright to the life of the author plus ten years. In the
meantime, let’s go with Doctorow’s proposal.

For more background on how patent trolling stifles innovation,
see my column, “Patent
Trolls of Tech Fairy Godmothers
.”

H/T Jeff Patterson.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/04/cory-doctorows-proposes-kickstarter-defe
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