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John Spragge
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Authority means, strictly, the trust knowledge inspires. A look at the many "answer my question" sites on the Internet will put to rest any worries that this sort of authority has diminished in any way. Authority, in the sense South Park uses it, waxes and wanes over the development of societies; in the English speaking world, authority in the "modern" sense grew up over the nineteenth century. I prefer to refer to that sense of authority, as something imposed from outside that enhances the power of certain people apart from their personality, as legitimacy. This leads me to two conclusions: first, the legitimacy of any policy and, in a larger sense of any society, depends on public experience. Policies that work gain legitimacy; failed policies lose it. In that sense, legitimacy like other forms of authority depends on trust inspired by performance. Just as people who give correct answers on the web gain trust, policies that work gain legitimacy. When the wave of superpredators predicted by conservative criminologists failed to materialize, the solutions they proposed lost legitimacy. Second, the refusal by the police to go on enforcing policies that the public regards as having lost legitimacy represents an opportunity.
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The problem isn't the police. The problem is the American carceral state. The problem is the legacy of snake oil salesmen (and women) telling a generation of Americans (and others) they could have government without paying for it. The problem is racism. Individual police officers get tasked with "broken windows" policing, whether it works or not; individual officers do not get a choice about the dependence of governments on fines and forfeitures to pay for the things politicans have told the citizens they don't have to pay for. And when Americans discover that all the promises of free government were worth as much as the riches promised in an email from Nigeria, and that in reality the burden falls on those burdened with a history of racism, the police don't like getting blamed. Whatever the rhetoric of the New York police unions, however boorishly they act at funerals, their overall actions make much more sense than their talk. Their behaviour says, in effect, that if the citizenry doesn't like the intensive order-maintenance policing called for by the "broken windows" theory, let's roll it back. If citizens don't like the style of policing government dependence on fines and forfeitures, calls for, fine, the police will stop collecting. Then all citizens, and that includes the police, will see what happens. What happens next, and the debate about whether or not the public accepts that outcome, will determine the future of criminal justice policy in the United States. And in such messy and unruly ways a democracy drags itself forward.
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The poster calling themselves "I am no one" raised two points which require an answer. First, they said a health savings account system would make parents think twice about getting care for their kids. I have a newsflash: the parents of sick kids do not behave in an economically rational manner. By having a kid they have made an economic choice of dubious rationality. If your system for restraining costs depends on parents of kids with unknown ailments looking coolly at the economic aspects of their options, you will probably fail. Secondly, you can't control rent-seeking by a cartel by lowering consumption. Doctors control the supply. If a lowering of the consumption of health services threatens their incomes, they can lower the supply to match.
Toggle Commented Oct 29, 2013 on A "Conservative" Healthcare Market at Obsidian Wings
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CharlesWT has it right: the cost of health related services does not equal the price for health-related outcomes. Based on comparisons with other national economies, the actual cost for the health outcomes Americans obtain comes to about half the total health services outlay in the United States. As American conservatives remind me sometimes, Americans pay as much in taxes for health services as most people in OECD countries pay in total, for the same outcomes. What's the conservative solution? Some blend of the system in Canada, France, or Switzerland: a system of private or community providers with strong government involvement or regulation. Conservatives in the Burkean sense understand that society consists of a huge tangle of messy and often inconsistent relationships, and government exists to mediate these relationships, not to apply some consistent and elegant ideological solution. To judge from their behaviour, doctors as a class do not want to operate in a rough and tumble entrepreneurial environment. They show some fairly strong evidence of valuing their sense of themselves as a profession, dedicated to quality public service. A (Burkean) conservative response would respect that while having governments or representatives of civil society with large scale purchasing power balance the economic monopoly power of the medical profession. Something like Canada. Or France. Or Britain. Or just about any OECD country with the exception of the US. How would an ideologically motivated "free" market true believer address this problem? Milton Friedman proposed an approach: dismantle the medical monopoly, allow anyone to offer health care services with nothing but a ban on fraud and false advertising, and let the market work. So far, none of the states that have conservative legislators and governors (looking at North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas) have taken any stops in that direction that I can discern. Right now, the United States has the worst of both worlds, and outside the Affordable Care Act the will to remedy the problem appears absent.
Toggle Commented Oct 28, 2013 on A "Conservative" Healthcare Market at Obsidian Wings
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Oddly enough, while cycling on the Millennium Trail in Prince Edward County I encountered a section upon which some "maintainer" had decided to dump a load of loose gravel that sucked my tires up to the rims. Unable to ride further I dismounted and humped my bike through this mess. As soon as I could no longer ride at 15 km/hr, the deer flies in the swamp right by the trail came over for a snack. It took me quite a while to get my sense of humour back after that. The last cyclist memorial ride I went on, we placed a white bike to honour a popular local teacher who died at an intersection as a result of a hit and run. At the time, the police apparently claimed the cyclist had run a red light before getting hit; now they admit that the cyclist had apparently stopped entirely legally to make a left turn before the van that killed him struck him. For how hairy cycling in Toronto can get, watch this. And that's why we place ghost bikes.
Toggle Commented Aug 11, 2013 on Your ghostcycle Friday open thread at Obsidian Wings
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McKinney, I'd ask my Lakota friends to comment on your claim of respect for the ownership of real property and contract as bedrock American principles, but I am afraid they would die laughing. Put it this way: the banks and holding companies with these mortgages are pretty much all LLCs. In other words, they are all collectives who have taken advantage of a legal structure that allows the participants to walk away from inconvenient debts. We allow this precisely because we feel it benefits the public; that people will take economic risks they would not take if, say, the Roman rules that would have allowed the creditors of Goldman Sachs to sell the chairman off at public auction still held. But I see no reason to stand on principle about the rights of one group of people using an instrument to ditch their debts while discussing a proposal to allow a different group of people to write down debts in the public interest.
Toggle Commented Jul 31, 2013 on Eminent Domain done right at Obsidian Wings
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hairshirthedonist I should point out that I didn't ask what guns have to do with freedom: any one gun may have a negative, positive, or negligible affect on freedom, depending on who carries it and why. North Korean soldiers have guns, but I doubt any of us would say that makes them free. I asked Brett, specifically, what his guns have to do with freedom, because to the extent that anyone lets fear rule them, that person is not free, and a forged steel appliance will not change that.
Toggle Commented Jul 26, 2013 on the verdict at Obsidian Wings
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Brett, what do your guns have to do with liberty? Seriously, what?
Toggle Commented Jul 25, 2013 on the verdict at Obsidian Wings
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Don't you get it, Brett? Gun "rights" are irrelevant. You will never never get it up to take on the state. However many Edward Snowdons come forward to spill horrible details of online surveillance, the FBI turning on your cell phone and using it as a baby monitor, you still won't pull it together to do what your ancestors did at Lexington with far less provocation. And the authorities know that. Why do you think they let you have your little collection? Because they know your guns won't ever be used effectively against them, because they know you've divided yourselves and frightened yourselves. So when some snitch with scabs on his arms and eyes pleading for just one more fix tells the drug police you have a stash of cocaine or meth or pot that you sell out the back door, some judge will likely as not rubber stamp the no-knock warrant. And the cops will show up with an arsenal and an armoured vehicle. And from then on, your guns don't matter. You will, likely as not, have any pets in your home casually slaughtered. Because we have to show those thugs (in hoodies) what's what. You will have your family terrorized. And you will end up flat on the ground with a trooper's boot on your neck. You may or may not be a corpse. You may or may not have used your guns to defend yourself (if so, you will be facing murder or attempted murder charges regardless of the circumstances). But the ending will be the same. Their boot on your neck. And there's a way better than even chance that whatever happens, the courts will give you no satisfaction. Civil courts may dismiss your lawsuit, because if we don't uphold our gallant heroes in blue, who will protect us from the thugs? (in hoodies). If you defended yourself with your guns, the courts will probably convict you, however outrageous the police behaviour. Because, well, thugs, Brett. (in hoodies). If an officer died, they may even sentence you to death, depending on the jurisdiction. But one thing that will not happen, or has at least never yet happened: your neighbours will not arise at the ballot box and vote out the twerps who allowed this travesty. Because, well, Brett, thugs with hoodies frighten them into abandoning their sense of justice. As we have seen, your country has a pretty bad case of that. To paraphrase MASH, two rules apply here. Rule number one: frightened people are not free people, Brett. Rule number two: owning guns doesn't change rule number one. I don't have a gun. The laws of my country make if difficult for me to acquire one, and they absolutely prohibit me from carrying a gun for self defence outside my home. But I also live in a country, Brett, where the courts will routinely trash a charge if they believe the police brought it to punish disrespect of the police (so-called "contempt of cop"). I live in a country where the legislature is afraid to pass certain laws because juries have persistently nullified them in the past. I don't have a gun, Brett, but I do live in a community where I have a good change my fellow citizens and the courts that represent us will rally to protect my right, to protect anybody's rights. And frankly, I think that makes me more free than you.
Toggle Commented Jul 25, 2013 on the verdict at Obsidian Wings
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Anyone who questions the validity of the questions about the rightness of the jury's decision and the appropriateness of the prosecution's decisions has a perfect right to do so. We can believe the prosecutors did their best with the law they had, and that the jury made an inevitable or at least defensible decision, and still demand a review of the law. Whatever anyone's view of the jury's choices, it still makes sense to conclude that defects in the law in Florida set George Zimmerman on a fatal collision course with Trayvon Martin.
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2013 on the verdict at Obsidian Wings
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Leaving aside that nobody came close to proving the property in question stolen, I'd bet that virtually all North American kids who don't grow up in monastaries or (possibly) on Amish farms have things pass through their hands that fell of a truck at some point. I certainly did, and as I've said before, I was an actual alter boy. You're in denial about two things, Brett: the way North American kids (and, let's face it, adults) actually behave, and your never stated implication that petty vandalism, some anomalous items in a locker, and normal teenage rough-housing would add up to a diagnosis of "thug" if Trayvon Martin had been an upper middle class kid of European background.
Toggle Commented Jul 21, 2013 on the verdict at Obsidian Wings
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Earlier in this thread, Brett tried to distinguish between a "choirboy" and Trayvon Martin. Given the evidence and the allegations at issue, I have to conclude Brett doesn't know too many choirboys. Choir boys sing in church. They are not, in Joseph Wambaugh's memorable phrase, a bunch of eunuchs with their lunch money pinned to their underwear. In my adolescence, as an alter boy in a pretty conservative community, I got up to just about all the stuff that Brett clutches pearls at the thought Trayvon Martin may have done. So, Brett, here is where I go Colonel Jessup on you. Because the truth is that Trayvon Martin was just an American kid. He could have been anyone's son. Disowning him, writing him off as a "thug", consigns him to a large pile of children discarded in the ugly history of "white" supremacy that has blighted both the US and Canada. And in the place you don't talk about, the place only your greatest writers ever go, you know you won't get away with it: that writing off your children always carries a price tag. And I'll bet you know, deep down, what pasting a label of "thug" on a kid like Trayvon Martin costs you. But just in case you don't admit it to yourself, I'll tell you. It costs you your freedom. Because people shivering in fear of their own invented boogey men aren't free, Brett. They have to have protection from those boogey men. That's why you pay taxes and burden your kids and grandkids with run away debt to support a grotesque prison-industrial complex. To hide under the covers from the horrid shadow of Trayvon Martin, thug you've invented. That's why your police get more militarized all the time. That's why you let them get away with sick dominance games. It's why, when the police take people's property, break into their houses, terrorize their kids and slaughter their pets, Americans sit still instead of going to the voting booth and throwing out the elected officials responsible. Because any humiliation beats facing the boogey man you created. Trayvon Martin was an ordinary kid. An ordinary American kid. He could have been anyone's son. He died because a wannabe in the neighbourhood watch with terminally lousy judgment had a gun. That's the truth. And your pasting the dehumanizing label of "thug" on him tells me you can't handle that particular truth.
Toggle Commented Jul 21, 2013 on the verdict at Obsidian Wings
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Marty asked: "Do you really justify those things as "everybody did them"?" Well, Marty, in the present context, I pretty much do, tout court. If everyone, or very nearly everyone, has engaged in the conduct that Brett cited when he smeared Trayvon Martin as a "thug" then the word "thug" as used by Brett has no meaning. The most recent posts strongly suggest, Trayvon Martin's "crimes" consist of the most petty vandalism, of having stuff in his locker he couldn't produce receipts for, and fisticuffs with young men his own age. That doesn't set him apart from most kids. Anybody's son could have been followed, accosted, and ultimately shot by George Zimmerman. The verdict may be right according to Florida law. In that case, I note once more, with gratitude, the existence of an efficiently policed border between me and mine and the State of Florida. Trashing Trayvon Martin's memory will not successfully obscure the fact that anyone's kid could have died that night. Clutching pearls over a supposedly "thug" lifestyle, with all the racial anxieties that word has come to reflect, will not cancel out the lesson that "concealed carry" laws led to a horrific tragedy.
Toggle Commented Jul 17, 2013 on the verdict at Obsidian Wings
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Basically, I'm in favor of a single subject rule for legislation, I think log rolling a bad way to pass laws. You, um, want to remove negotiation and quid pro quo for the democratic process (boggle). This actually explains why I don't see eye to eye with Brett, ever. He and I appear to have completely different perspectives on the way government at any level works. I regard government as fundamentally a process of persuation, one that involves offering participants some benefit. In order to do that, you must in principle negotiate, you must in principle trade. I have no idea how Brett thinks democratic governance does (or should) work.
Toggle Commented Jul 17, 2013 on farm bill no food stamps at Obsidian Wings
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Where I live, adults do not have the right to be persistently on the six of adolescents, male or female. And if that stops just one child rape, while unleashing a plague of hoodie wearing locusts to plunder every single flat screen TV and i-everything from Cape Herschel to Point Pelee and from Cape Spear to Clayquot Sound, that's fine with me. I don't thank my Creator every day that I live in Canada, not the US, but today I have a deep and abiding gratitude for our laws, particularly the gun laws that make most forms of armed self defence unlawful or impractical, for everybody.
Toggle Commented Jul 17, 2013 on the verdict at Obsidian Wings
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at 9:07 on July 8, Laura Koerbeer wrote: ...I'm not sure why there's an effort.... to understand the perception of creep behavior as a misunderstanding social ineptness... Creep behavior is aggressive. Simply put, what Laura terms an effort to understand the perception of creep behaviour, I would call an effort to correct a misperception of dangerous behaviour. As for why some of us make an effort to clarify these distinctions: first, because mistaking comfort for safety can have disastrous consequences. If you interpret discomfort with a person as a signal from an effective mechanism for detecting dangerous behaviour, you risk mistaking comfort for safety. It appears that many people want to believe the premise behind this, that emotions can substitute for knowledge, but experience strongly suggests they cannot. The converse of this theory, of course, hold that we ought to have diversity without discomfort: again, an appealing notion, but which experience refutes. As for the notion of creep behaviour as aggressive: if "creep" behaviour means behaviour that sends out actual danger signals, I agree, no question. Aggressive, manipulative, boundary pushing and dehumanizing behaviour does signal danger. And if a consensus existed on that point, I suggest few of us would have any concerns. But the very word "creep" belies this: a "creep", by definition, gives you the "creeps"; in other words, a "creep" means someone who elicits a particular set of emotions. That those emotions do not reliably signal danger or safety, huge numbers of survivors can attest. But the effort, often an aggressive effort, to link the emotion with the reality goes on. And neurally and culturally diverse people who don't want to get "comfort zoned" out of existence will continue to push back.
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At 10:53 on July 5, Harald K. wrote: for many socially excluded and socially awkward men, fandoms are a way to get away from the burden of performing socially in front of women. I think one of the elephants in the room has to do with the word "awkward" here. For some, not all but by no means a negligible number of these people (not just men) the word autistic applies better then awkward. Few people in the autism spectrum behave in the predatory manner recommended by Ken Hoinsky, not least because autistic people tend to find physical contact seriously uncomfortable. Still, many people raised with Western cultural expectations find autistic behaviour patterns disconcerting. Maria Dahvana Headley, who claims to support neuro-diversity, writes the following guidelines to avoid the label of "creeper": You do not transgress against the boundaries and personal space of other people by ignoring signs, information, and basic courtesies. You do not touch inappropriately, loom inappropriately, lurk, follow, stalk, and otherwise harass. This list conflates genuinely bad behaviour with merely disconcerting behaviour. Actions such as invading personal space and touching inappropriately raise hackles and red flags because they have a known link to extreme violations such as rape. But what do "signs" mean? If that means social cues, not all people can read social cues, and the meaning of common social signals differs between cultures. The ultimate problem with words like "creep" or "creeper" lies with our complex attitude to the emotions behind these words. Specifically, too many people act and write as though they believed emotion or intuition provided a magical guide to dangerous behaviour. They don't, and the illusion they do harms endangers everyone.
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On the topic of the prescience of some electoral analysts: as far as I followed your election it appeared to me that at least three quarters of all your states fell into one political column or the other, leaving about 12 "swing" states. Also obviously, given the less than perfect success of President Obama over the last four years, and the appalling record of the Republicans over the prior eight, you would inevitably have a close election: probably within a few percentage points. Given the very small universe of plausible outcomes, and the comparativly large number of published predictions, it seems pretty much inevitable that one or two predictions would come very close, even "creepily" close to the result. That hardly invalidates the campaign. Given the stakes, does anyone agree that either party should not (from their own point of view, of course) have done all they possibly could to win.
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In the get out the vote ground game I have the most experience with, having an app transmit voter's names to a nationally centralized registry seems very highly centralized. In every political campaign I have worked (most unsuccessful, some successful, and a few historical), local organizers canvass residences by phone and on foot; doing so, the build up a database of potential and probable supporters. A regional or national group may mine that data for media buys targeted to address concerns voters express to the canvassers. Before the election, some campaigns run programs to add identified donors, past voters, and party members to the list of supporters. On election day, each electoral district takes that list and divides it by poll and assigns poll workers to each one. The poll workers, who often include the organizers who did the canvass, then get the vote out using old fashioned shoe leather. They have the help of a local headquarters that can provide rides, babysitting, or whatever reasonable help a voter needs to get to the polls, but the tally of who voted and who did not does not go, or need to go, to any regional headquarters on election day, much less a national headquarters.
Toggle Commented Nov 17, 2012 on Your Orca thread at Obsidian Wings
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According to the guiding philosophy of the United States Constitution, as stated in its preamble, does the federal government have a legitimate role in setting standards that ensure as many people as possible have heath care? It certainly provides for the general welfare, ad unless the United States has signed a nonaggression treaty with the tuberculosis bacillus and the HIV virus, it provides for the common defence as well. So I would say the aims of the affordable care act fit with the spirit of the United States constitution. Finding a way to affirm the principle within the limits of the US constitution seems like a worthy goal. In my opinion, the Affordable Care Act does not, by a long shot, qualify as the best expression of that goal, but your supreme court has not affirmed that it does not violate the constitution.
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Reality check here. Small government means responsible government. A government may well decide it cannot or should not carry out certain functions, and needs to devolve these to the initiative of individual people. That may or may not create a good economic outcome, but it still differs from the current medical system, in which the government, through its designates, regulates the supply of workers while disclaiming responsibility for the service. The analogy with Colorado Springs would only work if the city council had cut back on the provision of city services, but had passed a law saying that citizens who wanted the services must hire former city employees at the full (union) pay scale.
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Brett, I have got very tired of the hyperbole in this discussion. If libertarians really consider the restrictions on medical practice akin to rape, then they have the obligation to pull out all of the stops, no matter what, and end them. If the several state government actually had rape programs going, complaining about the political impossibility of ending them would not remotely pass muster, ethically or any other way. These lame comparisons derail the discussion and poison reasoned disagreement, while seriously offending those who have suffered the real harms you so glibly reference. Believe it or not, Brett, people with bad memories of sexual assault really exist, and I suspect most if not all understand that the craft-guild medical system, while obnoxious, has nothing in common with what they went through. Likewise, I suspect the survivors of the thirties and forties in Europe can only boggle at references to "national socialism" in connection with the health care policies of President Obama. So perhaps we could get back to the practical question at hand. I maintain that if, as "Fuzzy Face" concedes, the current medical system has too much support to seriously reform, making the government's intervention into the market as consistent with individual freedom as possible makes the most sense. And I claim you can only do that by requiring the government to act responsibly, in other words by accepting responsibility for the effect of its interventions and trying to limit the harm they cause. I don't see any way out of this. Either you can achieve a free market solution or you cannot. If I believe "Fuzzy Face", and feel free to disagree with him, libertarians cannot currently achieve a free market solution. If not, then only one question remains: how will the government control the market. If conservative libertarians, whether by design or default, support a form of government intervention in the medical marketplace that prevents with less than a certain level of wealth from accessing care, then the claims made by Dr. Science seem correct on their face. If you want to dispute this, please do so with facts and logic, and leave the poisonous rhetoric out.
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Brett Belmore wrote: And I stand by my opinion that liberalism is a political philosophy which confuses statism with civilization What "statism" do you see in this case, Brett? The state, through its designates, already exercises nearly complete control over the supply of providers of medical care. Let me suggest a radical notion: we have two ways of dealing with the exercise of power by an actor (in this case the state) in the larger society. We can make that actor impotent (Grover Norquist's dream of drowning government in the bathtub), or we can make the actor responsible. As "Fuzzy Face" pointed out at 9:05, we have no realistic way of making government impotent in the medical field. Too many people worry too much about the possibility that they or someone they care about will end up depending on a fraud. Given that constraint, we can at least hope to make the government responsible for ameliorating the effects of the restrictions they have put on the supply of medical personnel. What you see as socialism, or unwarranted interference in the market, or positive rights, I see as the government taking responsibility for the effects of a market that the government has already made less than free.
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On wait times: the sources I have found indicate that Canada, at least, does not have wait times of a year for hip surgery. If you know of a case where someone had to wait a year with a broken hip, please provide the cite. In any case, though, this goes to the basic point that Dr. Science raised, that of social solidarity. In Canada, everyone runs the risk of waiting for elective surgery. What we cannot afford, we all cannot afford. That differs from a situation in which two people, with the same problems but different financial resources, get profoundly different levels of care.
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Will the people who rail against socialized medicine ever notice that we have not had a free market in medical services since the middle ages? Hundreds of words about the imposition of "socialism", national, international and otherwise, and no mention of the elephant in the room: the government has always empowered a medieval craft guild, otherwise known as a self governing profession, to control, absolutely, the supply of medical personnel and even institutions. Newsflash, people: the government already exercises control over medicine. You already lack basic negative freedom when it comes to medical treatment; if you seek treatment from someone unlicensed, unaccredited by the government's delegates, you and the person helping you risk arrest and jail. The failure of conservatives to vigorously pursue genuine libertarian reforms as an alternative to the affordable care act provides the best evidence for the validity Dr. Science's position. If the debate over the ACA really concerned economic freedom, rather than the way we in society care for each other, then why has the attack on affordable care not produced a call for a genuine libertarian reform, instead of a return the a situation where a medieval craft guild, empowered by modern government sanctions, controls the supply of help, while leaving people in need to struggle to pay for it on their own. The the attack against the affordable care act has not involved an equally vigorous call for reform of the regulation of medical practice suggests that people who have thought about the issue have no problem with government interference or control, as long as this control does not provide access to actual care for everybody.
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