Assorted Links (6/29/2012)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading, videos that I have been viewing, and podcasts that I have been listening to lately:

Uncommon Knowledge: John Stossel

I listened to Peter Robinson’s 45 minute interview with John Stossel this morning on my daily walk around ATX. Stossel is a rarity – a libertarian member of the news media. The interview centered around a discussion of Stossel’s new book entitled “No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails—but Individuals Succeed.” (cf. The interview and the book are organized around a series of initial statements which are framed as “What intuition tempts us to believe: ____”, followed by responses which are framed as “What reality taught me: ____”. For example,

WHAT INTUITION TEMPTS US TO BELIEVE: When there’s a problem, government should act.
WHAT REALITY TAUGHT ME: Individuals should act, not government.

WHAT INTUITION TEMPTS US TO BELIEVE: Someone needs to plan, and the central planners know best.
WHAT REALITY TAUGHT ME: No one knows enough to plan a society (Stossel gives a shout-out to Hayek on this one).

WHAT INTUITION TEMPTS US TO BELIEVE: The important thing is to have heroic leaders.
WHAT REALITY TAUGHT ME: Real heroes don’t control other people’s lives.

WHAT INTUITION TEMPTS US TO BELIEVE: Big business runs the media, so the media support business. WHAT REALITY TAUGHT ME: The media hate business.

and so forth…

The Wrong Remedy for Health Care

This article provides a coherent explanation of what a market-oriented reform alternative to the so-called “Affordable Care Act” (AKA “Obamacare”) would look like…

The Tax Duck

“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck… A sampling of Democratic denials—from President Obama on down—that the individual mandate is a tax, as the Supreme Court ruled it is.”

The ObamaCare Election

Quoting from this article, “The Roberts majority didn’t just legitimize ObamaCare—it provided Democrats a road map, and the tools, for the party’s ambitions to turn us into a European-style entitlement state.”

Noonan: Obama Has a Good Day

“But liberty has a bad one, Peggy Noonan writes.”

A Triumph and Tragedy for the Law

“In The Wall Street Journal, David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey write that in order to uphold the individual mandate as an exercise of the taxing power, the majority overlooked the natural meaning of the statutory text.”

Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis

I just added this book to my ever-expanding reading list; here’s a synopsis of the book provided by the “Zon” (AKA

“In the groundbreaking book Priceless, renowned healthcare economist John Goodman reveals how patients, healthcare providers, employers, and employees are all trapped in a dysfunctional, bureaucratic, healthcare system fraught with perverse incentives that raise costs, reduce quality, and make care less accessible. Unless changed, these incentives will only worsen the problems in the coming months and years. He demonstrates how market forces have been driven out from the American healthcare system, making it nearly impossible to solve problems as effectively or efficiently as in virtually every other type of consumer marketplace. Goodman cuts through the politics to think “outside the box” and propose dozens of bold and crucial innovations that, if adopted, would enable caregivers, entrepreneurs, and patients to use their knowledge and creativity to create access to low-cost, high-quality healthcare.”

Health care ruling: A strange constitutional win

Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett makes an intriguing case that the SCOTUS decision was a victory of a sort…

The Revolution: A Manifesto

In his book entitled “The Revolution: A Manifesto”, Ron Paul describes the health care system which existed in the America of my youth and early adulthood. How times have changed!:

“It is easy to forget that for decades the United States HAD a health care system that was the envy of the world. We had the finest doctors and hospitals, patients received high-quality, affordable medical care, and thousands of privately funded charities provided health services for the poor. I worked in an emergency room where nobody was turned away for lack of funds. People had insurance policies for serious health problems but paid cash for routine doctor visits.”  

Obama won ugly and only temporarily

Interesting political take on yesterday’s SCOTUS decision: “There was never a debate about whether Americans wanted new taxes to support government-required health insurance. The court answered a question that wasn’t asked. Now President Obama must celebrate his new tax and defend it between now and the election in November. The ruling will instantly be challenged in Congress, and it puts vulnerable Democrats in the position of having to defend an Obama tax increase, not generous health-care benefits.”

Why Roberts did it

“The chief justice had to choose between two imperatives.”  Excellent essay by Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer…

The New Swing Justice

Quoting from this article, “The tax theory had been disclaimed by President Obama, as well as House Democratic Leader and Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In their dissent, the Justices note that while Congress might have framed the mandate as a tax, it didn’t do so. “We cannot rewrite the statute to be what it is not,” they wrote. “In this case, there is simply no way, “without doing violence to the fair meaning of the words used,” . . . to escape what Congress enacted: a mandate that individuals maintain minimum essential coverage, enforced by a penalty.””

And Now, Health Care Reform?

Quoting from this article, “Forget SCOTUS. Amazingly, John Kerry laid out its real epitaph in 2004 in a major campaign address. Mr. Kerry delivered the unwelcome message that extending coverage to the uninsured would only lead to a renewed explosion of health-care spending as the uninsured now participated in the same incentives to overspend as the rest of us. Bingo.”

The ObamaCare Tax

“The Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore says Mr. Obama’s team is surely uncorking the champagne bottles, but taxpayers may not be so happy.”

Supreme Court Upholds Mandate as Tax

“The court upheld the mandate as a tax, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts. The justices also found fault with part of the health-care law’s expansion of Medicaid.”

The President That Time Forgot

“In The Wall Street Journal, Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger writes that ObamaCare was a legislative monolith, out of sync with an iPad world.”

Research On Religion | Robert Woodberry on Missionaries and Democracy

I highly recommend listening to Tony Gill’s interview of Bob Woodberry concerning his recently published paper entitled “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy” (available at Dr. Woodberry empirically finds that “the historic prevalence of Protestant missionaries explains about half the variation in democracy in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania and removes the impact of most variables that dominate current statistical research about democracy.”