Ethical Individualism

I apologize for stealing this section from this article. But I think that this is important to be read as written rather than re-interpreted. You can find the whole article here. You will find this section begins on page 392. This is about James M. Buchanan, an economist who won the Nobel prize in 1986 . “Buchanan’s work initiated research on how politicians’ and bureaucrats’ self-interest, utility maximization, and other non-wealth-maximizing considerations affect their decision-making.

3. Ethical individualism: a society of equals and unequals. Buchanan believed that the intellectual starting point of the constitutional mentality was recognition of the moral equality of all persons. Buchanan (1975a, pp. 3–4) began The Limits of Liberty with a statement of ethical individualism: “the individualist is forced to acknowledge the mutual existence of fellow men, who also have values, and he violates his precepts at the outset when and if he begins to assign men differential weights…. Each man counts for one, and that is that”. Similarly, in The Reason of Rules, Brennan and Buchanan (1985, p. 26) explained that their approach to constitutional political economy “requires that all persons be treated as moral equivalents, as individuals equally capable of expressing evaluations among relevant options”. Importantly, given the accusations of white supremacism recently levelled against Buchanan, he always was unequivocal that all persons were morally equal and that no second class of persons counted for less than others (Buchanan 1971, 1975a, pp. 3–4, 1989a).Buchanan’s conception of consensual politics followed from the conviction that it always was wrong to impose ends, outcomes, or costs on another person without that person’s consenteven if it was thought to be for his or her own benefit. That concept meant that unanimity was an essential component of constitutional agreement because an individual could not enter into a contract involuntarily, “there is no place for majority rule or, indeed, for any rule short of unanimity” (Buchanan 1986b, p. 220; emphasis in original. See also Brennan and Buchanan 1985, Chapter 1; Buchanan 1975a, Chapter 1).The American Founding was built upon a similar belief in the moral equality of persons. The revolution was a revolt against a monarchical, undemocratic government that ruled on the basis of the inequality of persons—that some people were born to rule and other, lesser people were born to be ruled. As such, colonial governments ruled along lines of patronage and ties of privilege that went back across the Atlantic Ocean to the British monarch. The revolution was a rejection of those ideas and destruction of those relationships. The revo-lutionaries dismissed the age-old principle of aristocracy by birth and replaced it with the principle of equality—that all men were fundamentally, morally equal. As Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”. Men were deemed to be equal in their moral worth and equal in their capacity for self-government (Bailyn 1967; Pole 1978; Wood 1992).It has been argued that those words ring hollow given that the Founders did not consider African-Americans to be equal to white Americans of European descent (Magnis 1999; Mills 1997; Pateman and Mills 2007). It is important to recognize and acknowledge the exclusion of African-Americans from the society of equals envisaged by the Founders, but, 393Public Choice (2020) 183:389–403 1 3as Douglass (1852) argued powerfully, the fault was not in the principle of equality the Founders espoused, but in their failure of extend(ing) it to all Americans.The Founders’ (partially applied) belief in equality reflected the teachings of the leading Enlightenment scholars that traditional hierarchies were not natural and ordained by God, but were man-made and artificial. Wood (1992, pp. 236–40) has described the widespread belief in Lockean sensationalism during the revolutionary period—the belief that all peo-ple were born intellectually, psychologically, and emotionally identical and the differences that emerged came from the influences of their different experiences. Perhaps the most famous example was Adam Smith’s (1776, pp. 28–29) claim, published in the same year as the Declaration of Independence, that the differences between a philosopher and a street porter, “arise not so much from nature, as from habit, custom and education”, so that no difference existed between the two at birth, little in infancy, but great differences gradually developed over time as they were exposed to different experiences. Not all the American revolutionaries subscribed to such a strong account of the individual as a clean slate, but its extensive currency nevertheless reflected the widely held belief in the enormous scope for human improvement if only society could be organized to the benefit of all, not just a privileged minority (Bailyn 1967; Pole 1978; Wood 1992).Buchanan (1975a, pp. 15–17), however, counselled that the belief in the moral equality of persons should not disguise the fact that people were unequal in important, non-trivial respects. Indeed, the unique moral value of each individual flowed from their differences. Buchanan (1971, p. 237) wrote that people, “differ in capacities; even at some defined point in time, inequality in endowments (human and nonhuman) is characteristic of the real world”. Furthermore, in the real world, people also differed in their possessions of property and wealth and those differences had to be taken seriously in any process of institutional design.Buchanan (1975a, p. 17) argued that the opening words of the Declaration of Independ-ence had allowed confusion to enter our understanding of the kind of equality imagined by the Founders and that Jefferson should have written, “to their creator, all men are equal”, to describe more accurately the Founders’ vision of equality. A constitutional agreement must be founded on moral equality, but must also recognize the reality of personal and mate-rial inequalities. Buchanan’s constitutional political economy required recognition of both natural equality and natural inequality (Levy and Peart 2018).Buchanan and the Founders derived very different understandings of rights from their similar conceptions of moral equality. The Declaration of Independence was a classic statement of natural rights—the belief that people possess basic human rights qua people, irrespective of whether other people or institutions recognize those rights. That conclu-sion reflects the views of the key Enlightenment thinkers who inspired the revolutionaries, notably Locke (1689), who articulated influential arguments in favor of natural rights. By contrast, Buchanan (1975a) and Brennan and Buchanan (1985, Chapter 2), rejected natural rights because their existence would imply a source of values external to individual men and women. For Buchanan (1977a, b, p. 244), “the basic Kantian notion that individual human beings are the ultimate ethical units, that persons are to be treated strictly as ends and never as means”, meant “that there are no transcendental, suprapersonal norms” —such as universal human rights. Accordingly, rights existed only when people agreed to assign rights to one another and mutually to respect those rights. The mutual assignment of rights was the process by which people left the state of nature and entered political society (Buchanan 1975a, Chapter 4; Meadowcroft 2011, pp. 50–51).While Buchanan (1971, 1975a, Chapter 1, 1979a) rejected the idea that individuals were human putty who could be moulded into perfect beings by a benevolent ruler, he 394Public Choice (2020) 183:389–4031 3nevertheless contended that the desire for self-improvement, even self-transformation, was a defining human characteristic. It was this ability to conceive the possibility that one could live a different life that drove purposeful economic and political behavior. Buchanan’s (1979a, p. 259; emphasis in original) project was driven by the idea that, “Man wants lib-erty to become the man he wants to become”. Liberty was the freedom to imagine and ulti-mately pursue different, possible alternative lives. Political and economic theories assum-ing that individual preferences were given and fixed and could be captured accurately by external agents were inimical to liberty and the ideals of self-governance and self-transfor-mation (Buchanan 1979a).Buchanan’s constitutional political economy reflected his belief that people sought to create rules to enable the pursuit of their personal, and potentially transformative, conceptions of the good life. Constitutional order freed individuals from ends imposed by others. Like the American Founders, Buchanan believed that a constitution could unleash people’s dynamic potential to change themselves and their world.

Kudo to Sen. Ron Johnson

Here is why:

“On Monday, Jan. 6, I am filing suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to make Congress live by the letter of the health-care law it imposed on the rest of America. By arranging for me and other members of Congress and their staffs to receive benefits intentionally ruled out by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the administration has exceeded its legal authority.

The president and his congressional supporters have also broken their promise to the American people that ObamaCare was going to be so good that they would participate in it just like everyone else. In truth, many members of Congress feel entitled to an exemption from the harsh realities of the law they helped jam down Americans’ throats in 2010. Unlike millions of their countrymen who have lost coverage and must now purchase insurance through an exchange, members and their staffs will receive an employer contribution to help pay for their new plans.

It is clear that this special treatment, via a ruling by the president’s Office of Personnel Management, was deliberately excluded in the law. During the drafting, debate and passage of ObamaCare, the issue of how the law should affect members of Congress and their staffs was repeatedly addressed. Even a cursory reading of the legislative history clearly shows the intent of Congress was to ensure that members and staff would no longer be eligible for their current coverage under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan.

The law states that as of Jan. 1, 2014, the only health-insurance plans that members of Congress and their staffs can be offered by the federal government are plans “created under” ObamaCare or “offered through an Exchange” established under ObamaCare.

Furthermore, allowing the federal government to make an employer contribution to help pay for insurance coverage was explicitly considered, debated and rejected. In doing so, Congress established that the only subsidy available to them would be the same income-based subsidy available to every other eligible American accessing insurance through an exchange. This was the confidence-building covenant supporters of the law made to reassure skeptics that ObamaCare would live up to its billing. They wanted to appear eager to avail themselves of the law’s benefits and be more than willing to subject themselves to the exact same rules, regulations and requirements as their constituents.

Eager, that is, until they began to understand what they had actually done to themselves. For instance, by agreeing to go through an exchange they cut themselves off from the option of paying for health care with pretax dollars, the way many Americans will continue to do through employer-supplied plans. That’s when they went running to President Obama for relief. The president supplied it via the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which issued a convoluted ruling in October 2013 that ignores the clear intent and language of the law. After groping for a pretext, OPM essentially declared the federal government a small employer—magically qualifying members of Congress for coverage through a Small Business Health Options Program, exchanges where employers can buy insurance for their employees.

Neat trick, huh? Except that in issuing the ruling, OPM exceeded its statutory jurisdiction and legal authority. In directing OPM to do so, President Obama once again chose political expediency instead of faithfully executing the law—even one of his own making. If the president wants to change the law, he needs to come to Congress to have them change it with legislation, not by presidential fiat or decree.

The legal basis for our lawsuit (which I will file with a staff member, Brooke Ericson, as the other plaintiff) includes the fact that the OPM ruling forces me, as a member of Congress, to engage in activity that I believe violates the law. It also potentially alienates members of Congress from their constituents, since those constituents are witnessing members of Congress blatantly giving themselves and their staff special treatment.

Republicans have tried to overturn this special treatment with legislation that was passed by the House on Sept. 29, but blocked in the Senate. Amendments have also been offered to Senate bills, but Majority Leader Harry Reid refuses to allow a vote on any of them.

I believe that I have not only legal standing but an obligation to go to court to overturn this unlawful executive overreach, end the injustice, and provide a long overdue check on an executive that recognizes fewer and fewer constitutional restraints.”

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ReasonableCitizen says “Hear!Hear!”

Privacy on the Net: TOR usage doubles

Once you’ve installed Tor’s software on your PC—most often in the form of the Tor browser bundle—the service allows you to surf the web anonymously by encrypting your Internet connection requests and bouncing them between numerous “relay nodes” before finally sending them on to the final destination.

No node knows the identifiable information of any nodes in the chain aside from the ones they’re taking information from and passing information to and., just to be on the safe side, each hop along the way gets a whole new set of encryption keys.

Whoa! That’s very secure!

“The idea is similar to using a twisty, hard-to-follow route in order to throw off somebody who is tailing you—and then periodically erasing your footprints,” explains the Tor website. All the hip-hopping makes for a very secure (yet very slow) browsing experience, assuming you’re smart about your usage habits. It’s also great for bypassing government firewalls.

Tor’s “onion-routing” technology also enables the creation of “hidden services,” or websites that can also hide their server identity from its users and are only accessible while using Tor. This extreme level of anonymity makes the so-called “Onionland” darknet a haven—not only for seedy types, but also for people who want (or need) to stay anonymous, such as political dissidents and whistleblowers—the type of people who may have relied on Lavabit and Silent Mail previously.

Perhaps not the best group of people to be associated with but you will never know them any way.

 

Healthcare, ObamaCare, SomebodyCares Follow Up

Surprisingly, today I was on Linked In and the topic was “Four Healthcare Changes Happening Now”

The article is written by Delos Cosgrove the President and CEO of Cleveland Clinic. If you don’t know, Cleveland Clinic is one of the most prestigious hospitals in the US. Here’s a little blurb about them:

Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH is ranked nationally in 14 adult and 7 pediatric specialties. It was also high-performing in 2 adult specialties, as shown below. Cleveland Clinic is a 1,267-bed general medical and surgical facility with 52,885 admissions in the most recent year reported. It performed 26,124 annual inpatient and 55,830 outpatient surgeries. Its emergency room had 58,653 visits. Cleveland Clinic is a teaching hospital.

Here is the article.

While the article was interesting it is not really news. However, the comment section is full of overripe tomatoes being thrown by one professional to another. Well worth the time to browse through a few. Everyone loves a food fight ‘tween egg heads, right?

Snip:

Who is drinking this Kool-Aid… Costs are increasing and we are penalized for every infraction…. and that’s a good thing?????? open your eyes Mr. Cosgrove.. we are on our way to the EU/Canadian form of healthcare, 6 months to a year to get an MRI and people dying waiting for treatment… if you rank statistically to even get the treatment, else your told “you’ve had a good life… time to die now, it’s not worth paying for you’re treatment.” worse thing to happen to America since 911…

Snip:

Hard to have competition among healthcare providers when none of them are required to publish a price for any service. Find any listings from a hospital regarding the price of an appendectomy? You won’t but I can tell you that hospitals in the US will charge $20,000 to $40,000 for one. Why the wide range of prices and why don’t people know this going in? If I hire a mechanic I am at least given an estimate first. The truth is the healthcare providers are a group of large providers who hide their actual costs and uniformly jack up their prices. For an individual consumer it is like dealing with a cartel. Insurance companies just add another layer of deception to healthcare costs. Not to forget their very healthy profit margins. Profiting on peoples illness to such a level strikes me as morally bankrupt.

Snip:

I personally welcome the Affordable Care Act. After 40 years of being in Field Service with the last 20 being a Service Manager for Siemens HealthCare, I was laid off because of declining revenue in Ultrasound. Three months later I was diagnosed with Cancer. I was fortunate Siemens paid for my insurance for an additional 6 months with the cost being more than $150,000. 6 months passed very quickly. Service Manager jobs are tough to come by. I discovered I am now uninsurable, my wife is as well, and my only option for the next 18 months is Cobra at a cost of $1800 per month. I am looking forward to next January when insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for me and my family because of pre existing conditions. There have been good points made by people that are for and against the proposed healthcare changes rapidly coming upon us. I believe there are millions of low to middle income people in the county that will benefit from the Affordable Care Act.

If you have the time, the comments are fascinating and informative. The frauds are quickly exposed.

Sowell Speaks…

thomas_sowell

The political perversion of the criminal justice system began early and at the top, with the President of the United States. Unlike other public officials who decline to comment on criminal cases that have not yet been tried in court, Barack Obama chose to say, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

It was a clever way to play the race card, as he had done before, when Professor Henry Louis Gates of Harvard was arrested.

But it did not stop there. After the local police in Florida found insufficient evidence to ask for Zimmerman to be prosecuted, the Obama administration sent Justice Department investigators to Sanford, Florida, and also used the taxpayers’ money to finance local activists who agitated for Zimmerman to be arrested.

Political intervention did not end with the federal government. The city manager in Sanford intervened to prevent the usual police procedures from being followed.

When the question arose of identifying the voice of whoever was calling for help during the confrontation between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, the normal police procedure would have been to let individuals hear the recording separately, rather than have a whole family hear it together.

If you want to get each individual’s honest opinion, you don’t want that opinion to be influenced by others who are present, much less allow a group to coordinate what they are going to say.

When the city manager took this out of the hands of the police, and had Trayvon Martin’s family, plus Rachel Jeantel, all hear the recording together, that’s politics, not law.

You can read more about it here.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s Good Decision

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer makes the right move.

She said everyone has to come back to the office to work. Boy, is she in trouble! Yahoooooooo!!!!!!

I have a similar and true story from a time when I headed up worldwide service for a division of a Fortune 100 company.

The business manager for my department stopped me in the hallway several times and left me voice and email messages that he wanted to talk about a way to save us big bucks by getting rid of all the service offices in the US. This was 1996.

I feigned busyness several times but he finally came into my office and sat down. He began by telling me how technology has changed the work world. He spoke about personal computers in employee homes and how telephones and email had changed the way the world worked. He told me all the virtues of not having six district offices full of employees and consolidating the administration process into a single headquarters location. He told me that our district managers did not need an office to meet with the local service engineers and that our service managers could have great relationships with sales managers even if they never met. There was no longer any need to meet face-to-face.

Well, I looked at him and said “Scott, why are you in my office?”

“Because I wanted to tell you about this opportunity”, he said.

I said, “Scott, why are you in my office?”

He looked perplexed and quizzical as if he did not know what to say. So I said, ‘You left me voice mails and sent emails and yet here you are sitting in my office to talk to me face-to-face. Why?”

He nodded that he understood and I continued by saying, “There is value in meeting face-to-face. There is value in having people around you to give you feedback by actions, word, or deed that you have a common purpose and goal to accomplish. How can you do that  if you never meet the people you work with?”

Now the world has changed into exactly what Scott talked about and very few medical companies have regional or district offices anymore. They have consolidated everything into the home office, collected all the savings of not having those local offices, and spent that money on technology to communicate with each other but they have lost two things of great importance: the ability to serve a customer’s need and the ability to create a team with a common purpose.

I know this because I work with 100 service companies now. Supporting the customer is a sometime thing. The managers of those companies support the logistics systems, the call dispatch system, the tech support system, and the service administration system. Some of those managers even have a role to support the “equipment replacement system” when the product doesn’t work like it should.

I applaud CEO Mayer’s decision to bring employees back to the workplace. Yahoo is about service and innovation. How can you build a team if you never work together? How can you foster creativity when your employees are at home every day? And finally why should the CEO, CFO, all VPs and Directors come to the office while their employees work at home?

And finally, what kind of message would it send if Marissa Mayer worked from home while allegedly turning the company around?

There are times to work from home. Exceptions. Special projects. Special employee needs. But not everyone and not all the time.

Kudos to Mayer. She will do well.

Oh, btw, one of the best managers I ever knew practiced MBWA. Management By Wandering Around. He walked around and was available to everyone and anyone. Face-to-Face. All the time. Finest run company I ever worked with. I can’t imagine what old Bill would do if his employees were all at home every day. He would have failed instead of helping to build one of the finest medical companies in its day. Too bad it was purchased by a monolithic company that weakened it. They let people work from home now.

Homage to Charley Reese….

First published March of 1995, Charley Reese wrote a similar version in 1983.  A potent article on our government.

 

THE 545 PEOPLE
RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL
OF AMERICA’S WOES

BY CHARLEY REESE

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The president does. You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I don’t write the tax code. Congress does. You and I don’t set fiscal policy. Congress does. You and I don’t control monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president and nine Supreme Court justices – 545 human beings out of the 235 million – are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered but private central bank.

I excluded all but the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it.

No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislation’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

A CONFIDENCE CONSPIRACY

Don’t you see how the con game that is played on the people by the politicians? Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of Tip O’Neill, who stood up and criticized Ronald Reagan for creating deficits.

The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating appropriations and taxes.

O’neill is the speaker of the House. He is the leader of the majority party. He and his fellow Democrats, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetos it, they can pass it over his veto.

REPLACE SCOUNDRELS

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 235 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts – of incompetence and irresponsibility.

I can’t think of a single domestic problem, from an unfair tax code to defense overruns, that is not traceable directly to those 545 people.

When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red. If the Marines are in Lebanon, it’s because they want them in Lebanon.

There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take it.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exist disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people and they alone are responsible. They and they alone have the power. They and they alone should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses – provided they have the gumption to manage their own employees.

This article was taken from the Orlando Sentinel Star newspaper