Sunday, April 26, 2009

Confronting The Cost of Addiction

In the comments section of The Smallest Minority, on this link to a post written at WRSA, about Americas destructive and clinical addiction to Big Government, some Pro-LeviathanStatist (but Anti-Obama, of course, ~eyeroll) by the name of Bilgeman, took issue with the idea that we even need to, or would find it desirable to, recover from that addiction, stating, at the end of a fairly long supposed justification: 

"We can survive quite nicely with a Federal prison system, Food and Drug safety regulations and enforcement, (if they'd actually...like...enforce the regs they have), a strong military and naval establishment, and border enforcement."

To which i replied, and will repost here:

And we could not just survive, but excel, without the unjust burden of supporting them.

We run the federal prison system (which didnt exist until about 1900) like a business, a business that wants to, and does expand daily. Incarceration has become a growth industry, and today honest americans are forced to support the largest prison population in the world, at immense cost, because there is money to be be allocated there, instead left for the building a more civil or free society.

the FDA is the reason most of the people i know travel out of their home country to buy the medicine they need to ensure their health, when the other countries have similar regulations, but the drugs are cheaper, because their parasitic regulator cartels haven't yet grown as fat, and without such massive parasitism and protectionism, the general cost of health care would be a fraction of what it is today, as evidenced by the market of "medical tourism", a sad state of affairs if ever ive seen one.

As to the notion of Federal Armies providing for our national security, that is nothing but the abdication of personal responsibility, and i think the following quote should be familiar to everyone. 
"There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army." --Thomas Jefferson to David Humphreys, 1789.
Im not sure exactly what you mean by border security, (movement of people, or goods) but both of the land borders of the US were basically completely open until 1929, and there was essentially no problem with illegal immigration in this country until 1965 saw the passage of The Immigration and Naturalization Act, which set quotas for immigration arbitrarily, drastically undercutting the demand for migrant, non permanent, workers, while at the same time tremendously changing the ethnic and political makeup of the United States by doubling the annual immigration rate. Many older folks who lived in the southwest, near the border, remembered working with Mexicans who would actually drive home to Mexico at night, and to work in the US, something that became practically unheard of as the regulatory chokehold set in on free trade and market demand.*

Forgive me if i not only fundamentally disagree with your assertion, but don't beleive our country's history, traditions, or the evidence support those assertions in any way.

There is not only very little the government does so well that i think they should do more of it, there are even fewer things i think it does so well as come anywhere close to justifying the cost of paying it to do so.

*Not to mention the real cause of the increase in demand for cheap labor, which exceeds those arbitrary quotas, which can be directly linked to the inflationary monetary policy of the fed.


I guess Bilgeman's response boils down to "My addiction isn't that bad, besides, it helps me deal with my problems", a classic case, if ever I've seen one, the only difference is that he applies it to some theory of "Society at Large" If nothing else, go read the Original Post by Pete, which one commenter stated made him realize "I am only a recovering socialist, not yet the Libertarian that I strive to be!"

Its a long road to recovery.

8 comments:

chris horton said...

Great post Rev! Linked from WRSA.
Peace!
CIII

Jay21 said...

Well reverend, you know i disagree with your border ideas. That being said, GREAT response. Way to actually use logic as opposed to the usual rant drivel i read/write.

ReverendFranz said...

I think it is perfectly acceptable to agree with the propriety of closed borders, but it would be silly to pretend that sending out a federal border patrol agency with an annual budget in excess of $2,000,000,000 (and that is not including other federal border programs, such as walls, local law enforcement grants, coast guard, customs...) to enforce mandates and immigration quotas that suppress a supply problem, without alleviating a demand, doesn't have a real cost.

Jay21 said...

Yeah, but that also go in hand with an earlier discussion we had about local law enforcements ability/duty to enfoce federal law. A reason we have so much waste in gov't spending is the overlap of duties. If we as a nation wish to return to a "nation of laws" than IMHO all persons, espicially those in the law enforcement community, should uphold ALL laws. The mandates of this crime is for this agency but not this one, is nothing more than playground turf wars that costs billions in funds to oversee.We should reduce the amount of laws and agencies dramatically. Then live by the laws we as a society deem just. I know to an extent i am preaching to the choir with that point, but hey it is harder to have a delayed debate than a live one.
Jason
III

Bilgeman said...

"some Pro-LeviathanStatist (but Anti-Obama, of course, ~eyeroll) by the name of Bilgeman, took issue with the idea that we even need to, or would find it desirable to, recover from that addiction, stating, at the end of a fairly long supposed justification: "

Well, and here I am, my pro-Leviathan State-worshiping self.

For the record, and your readers here, this is my comment over at Kevin's TSM:

"Kevin:

As well-written as Concerned American's piece was, it misses the mark.

The chap has apparently internalized his struggle against his addictions and made it the model for a general struggle against undue overtaxation.

IOTW, he's found a hammer...so now everything looks like a nail.

Fact is, drugs and booze are inanimate objects, they don't care whether you use or abuse them or not.

Citizens being taxed for things they object to are quite a different story...they mind VERY MUCH seeing their chidrens' futures being mortgaged by the man from the IRS and the fellow in the ninja-suit with the taxpayer-purchased firearms who is implictly standing behind him.

Concerned American seems to not want to realize that there ARE things that must be paid for from the public monies that really ARE in the public interest.

If he wants to label this as "Socialism", and our exercise of creating and funding these initiatives as "addiction to Socialism", then I'll cop to the rap.

What it boils down to, though, is an argument about what truly is in the public interest, and how many zeroes to attach to the budget of those items that we may subjectively feel are so.

Government does not create wealth, it can only set the stage where private enterprise can.

By it's very nature, then, government takes on the role of parasite to the commonwealth's host, and like a parasite,(if it desires to live), it must be the FIRST to feel the effects of the host's sickening.

Pity that under the Alleged Hawaiian and his fellow-travellers, it seems that the government "tick" is to enjoy sucking the blood from us in perpetuity.

We have been anemic for a very long time, and government's propensity to grow like a tumor upon us, has on balance been deleterious to our well-being.

The proposed deficits that the fellow who claims to have been born in Hawaii has endorsed augurs very poorly for any hope we may have of a recovery.

The Tea Parties, (and there were a few hundred attendees in Winchester, VA, FYI), are analogous to the immune system fighting an infection.

We can survive quite nicely with a Federal prison system, Food and Drug safety regulations and enforcement, (if they'd actually...like...enforce the regs they have), a strong military and naval establishment, and border enforcement.

The crap that the Alleged Hawaiian wants to spend trillions upon...not so much."

Now...on to yor points of contention:

"We run the federal prison system (which didnt exist until about 1900) like a business, a business that wants to, and does expand daily. Incarceration has become a growth industry, and today honest americans are forced to support the largest prison population in the world, at immense cost, because there is money to be be allocated there, instead left for the building a more civil or free society."

It is undeniable that the Federal prison system is a costly proposition, and made even more so by the governments' sad habit of getting into things that it should not be doing, but it is also undeniable that there are people in the Federal can who belong exactly where they are, and the stock response to those who quibble about the cost of incarceration is asking what the price would be to let such people OUT.

"the FDA is the reason most of the people i know travel out of their home country to buy the medicine they need to ensure their health, when the other countries have similar regulations, but the drugs are cheaper,"

You have apparently never heard of the Thalidomide horror of the early 1960's, which never hit our shores because back then the FDA did NOT "fast-track" the latest and greatest nostrums of the pharmaceutical industry.

If you think that the FDA is THAT much of a waste of taxpayer funds, (and I'm NOT asserting that waste doesn't exist there), you must like the present.

Has it escaped your notice how many drugs the FDA has been pulling from the market in the last 15 years or so?

You mostly hear about them through the advertisements of personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys.

This naturally beggars the question of why the FDA allowed these drugs to be marketed to the public in the FIRST place.

(Part of the answer to that question lies in the activities of the "ACT-UP" group in the late 1980's and early 90's.)

But as bad as all that is, imagine a pharma industry WITHOUT any regulatory body at all.

We've been there before, I am thankfully too young to remember it, but if you look for it, you can learn what it was like.

"As to the notion of Federal Armies providing for our national security, that is nothing but the abdication of personal responsibility,"

Maybe in YOUR case, but not in mine.
I personally enlisted in the Marines as an infantryman and personally served my hitch.

In fact, I've personally been in the Naval and Merchant Services of the United States for almost my entire personal adult life...even when they were shooting at me, (which wasn't personal on their part, and I didn't take it personally for mine...unless they hit me.)

Point is...I did my bit.

".Im not sure exactly what you mean by border security, (movement of people, or goods) but both of the land borders of the US were basically completely open until 1929, and there was essentially no problem with illegal immigration in this country".

You know exactly what i mean.

This isn't 1929.

And to place your alleged "open borders utopia" into its' context, many of the Mexicans who worked in the US then returned to Mexico in the evening because if they were found overnighting on the wrong side of the border, they'd be shot dead.

That's how us Gringos used to roll back in those days and along the Rio Grande.

Just out of curiosity, do you know many Texans? Have you talked to any of the old-timers?
I don't think you'd have posted that had you done so.

"I guess Bilgeman's response boils down to "My addiction isn't that bad, besides, it helps me deal with my problems", a classic case, if ever I've seen one,"

Okay. I have a higher tolerance of the essentially parasitism that government inescapably is than do you.

Fine.

Then get off my internet, which was a government-funded development, stay off my roads, which are built and maintained by government, and if someone makes criminal acts aginst you or yours, don't bother the government-run police or courts to seek justice or redress.

You're on your own.

"If nothing else, go read the Original Post by Pete, which one commenter stated made him realize "I am only a recovering socialist, not yet the Libertarian that I strive to be!""

A Libertarian...is that what you fancy yourself to be?

Okay.

You seem to have crossed one of those open borders of yours into "anarchy" some ways back, if you ask me.

ReverendFranz said...

I didn't ask you, but i do thank you for stopping by. I do apologize for lumping you in with the vast majority of federal apologists who have not been involved in the federal systems, and thank you for your service, sincerely.

You sound like an honorable fellow, and i didn't mean to insult you, I just think that it is very often naivety that leads us to ask the federal government to step in and solve these problems for us, and it is naivety that asserts that it does these things either well, or without a real and definite cost.

as Bastiat wrote in The State: "The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else."Now you couldnt exactly call Bastiat an anarchist, as he was a politician, by trade, and that would be rather silly. But of course, as usual, i digress.

I dont argue that there a good number of people in federal prison that i wouldnt want to live next to, but there have always been a good number of those people. So has the number of Socially unfit humans in the US really increased as drastically as the prison population has? If so, why? And if it has (im relatively certain it hasnt, but that government has merely used further failed policy to turn the former law abiding into the next paycheck for BOP and Wackenhut) does spending the amount of money we do spend on prisons stop this growth or increase it? Its like investing in ever bigger shirts to treat a large abdominal tumor. Isnt it at least possible that such massive amounts of funds could be spent to reduce crime, instead of to increase the punishment of criminals, every, single year?

You are correct, i am too young to remember the thalidomide waterfall of birth defects. I also dont take drugs im not familiar with, something most people are unwilling to do, when they assume that their government has taken care of it for them. Now i will admit it is a good idea to have well organized uniform clinical trials, but whats the point, when as you pointed out, dozens of drugs that should have failed those trials and were instead given the USFDA stamp of approval?

The FDA has grown in size 1,000% since 1955, and looking at the cases you mentioned, pro being in the 60s, and the Cons all being now, there hasn't been a thousandfold increase in benefit, has there? In the same time period, the time to bring a new life saving drug to market has tripled, while increasing regulation has wreaked havok on all sorts of harmless things that used to be legal, like Vitamin Supliments, unprocessed foods, etc... something ive touched on here before. The FY 2008 budget was 2,300 million dollars, and if im not mistaken, its going to expand this year. I dont see that as a good thing.

There is a difference, as well, between a regulatory agency, and a protection agency, which in many ways the FDA is turning into, and not for us, but for some great medical industry symbiosis.

I havent spent much time, outside of a few days working, in Texas, but i grew up in Arizona, so its not like i don't have a small amount of anti-immigration perspective, and rather than directly advocate open borders (though i think if we somehow, through a miracle of reform, fixed the entitlement system and some of the criminal crap that fuels immigrant demand, there isnt much of a reason we couldnt) the point of my argument was that government interference, in the form of the Immigration Act, directly led to an increase in immigration, and other government policy contributes daily to illegal immigration. Its not that i dont think there would be a problem, i just think we should treat the cause, not just the symptoms, which, when it comes to a bueurocratic agency who can only make money in treating symptoms, is not in the best interest of those making decisions.

The fact is these agencies dont get smaller, they get bigger, they always expand, they will always find another problem they need to address, and its always going to cost you. That was all that struck me as odd about your post, that you make it sound like every dime we spend on these "services" is irreplaceable, and that we gain a bigger benefit than it costs us, so why wouldn't we want to spend more on them, and therefor get more benefit? Its exactly the creation of these "sensible" regulatory and policing agencies that gives "The Hawaiian" the idea that more of it is how you actually fix problems, so why would you be opposed to him spending more of your money to fix more of "our" problems? Part of you obviously understands that we are throwing tax-money away to be wasted (at least some of it), and all I assert is that that waste is only half the story, as the economic imbalance of government intervention has a huge additional cost that most people don't take into account, which realy throws a kink in the standard cost/benefit curve. From my perspective, such a huge one, that i have to at least wonder if even a huge fractionalization of government power and programs could even bring it back to breaking even.

As for staying off your internet (one of the very few economic innovations that could be credited to government intervention) I might be more interested in doing so, if government subsidy hadnt killed all the natural alternatives. When i spent some time on the east coast, i did check out a very promising network called guerillanet, that was both cheaper, faster, more efficient, more secure, and portable (it was wireless) but it isn't available out here.

By the way, the internet was not simply the result of gov. invention, but rather just more of its usual intervention. The idea of a wide-area computer network was not conceived in a state supported laboratory. Many people came to the same concept separately: so many that the internet used to have competitors. In the early 90s (what some might refer to as PreSeptember) there were many more-or-less independent but interconnected networks: the FidoNet (cheap, truly decentralized and still operational today), the CompuServe, GEnie, and many more... But only the internet backbone got the subsidies of the US Gov, and so a large userbase from its universities. The other networks slowly died off.

And now, of course, they would like to regulate that, at what real cost to police the internet looking for errant packets and political thoughts espoused without a balanced counterpoint. The Lie of "Net Neutrality" is a good metaphor for all sorts of government regulation, They tell us there is a problem that doesnt exist today, work hard to create a problem, and then offer to fix it, the whole time hiding the fact that its gonna cost you, dearly, both in cash and liberties.

I grew up on a dirt road, where a call to a police agency didn't result in a response for between 40 and 60 minutes, and i didn't mind it much, hopefully ill get back to one sometime. The road i live on now is maintained by the city, not the federal government, and there is an economic principle that talks about waste in economies of scale. My local government is not only more efficient than a federal replacement for it, its alot more responsive when i show up for one of their council meetings.

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