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Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors in drug cases to seek the maximum penalty authorized by federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Sessions’ order represents a setback to the progress made toward restoring compassion and common sense to the sentencing process over the past few years. Sessions’ action also guarantees that many nonviolent drug law offenders will continue spending more time in prison than murderers.

Sessions’ support for mandatory minimums is no surprise, as he has a history of fanatical devotion to the drug war. Sessions’ pro-drug war stance is at odds with the reality of the drug war’s failure. Over forty years after President Nixon declared war on drugs, the government cannot even keep drugs out of prisons!

As was the case with alcohol prohibition, the drug war has empowered criminal gangs and even terrorists to take advantage of the opportunity presented by prohibition to profit by meeting the continued demand for drugs. Drug prohibition enables these criminal enterprises to make profits far above the potential profits if drugs where legalized. Ironically, the so-called “law-and-order” politicians who support the drug war are helping enrich the very criminals they claim to oppose!

The war on drugs also makes street drugs more lethal by incentivizing the creation of more potent and, thus, more dangerous drugs. Of course, even as Sessions himself admits, the war on drugs also leads to increased violence, as drug dealers cannot go to the courts to settle disputes among themselves or with their customers.

Before 9/11, the war on drugs was the go-to excuse used to justify new infringements on liberty. For example, laws limiting our ability to withdraw, or even carry, large sums of cash and laws authorizing civil asset forfeiture were justified by the need to crack down on drug dealers and users. The war on drugs is also the root cause of the criminal justice system’s disparate treatment of minorities and the militarization of local police.

The war on drugs is a war on the Constitution as well. The Constitution does not give the federal government authority to regulate, much less ban, drugs. People who doubt this should ask themselves why it was necessary to amend the Constitution to allow the federal government to criminalize drinking alcohol but not necessary to amend the Constitution to criminalize drug use.

Today, a majority of states have legalized medical marijuana, and a growing number are legalizing recreational marijuana use. Enforcement of federal laws outlawing marijuana in those states is the type of federal interference with state laws that conservatives usually oppose. Hopefully, in this area the Trump administration will exercise restraint and respect state marijuana laws.

Sessions’ announcement was not the only pro-drug war announcement made by the administration this week. President Trump himself, in a meeting with the president of Columbia, promised to continue US intervention in South and Central America to eliminate drug cartels. President Trump, like his attorney general, seems to not understand that the rise of foreign drug cartels, like the rise of domestic drug gangs, is a consequence of US drug policy.

The use of government force to stop adults from putting certain substances into their bodies — whether marijuana, saturated fats, or raw milk — violates the nonaggression principle that is the bedrock of a free society. Therefore, all those who care about protecting individual liberty and limiting government power should support ending the drug war. Those with moral objections to drug use should realize that education and persuasion, carried out through voluntary institutions like churches and schools, is a more moral and effective way to discourage drug use than relying on government force.

(Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Donald Trump, Drug Laws 

By the end of this month, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor HR McMaster will deliver to President Trump their plans for military escalations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. President Trump would be wise to rip the plans up and send his national security team back to the drawing board – or replace them. There is no way another “surge” in Afghanistan and Iraq (plus a new one in Syria) puts America first. There is no way doing the same thing over again will succeed any better than it did the last time.

Near the tenth anniversary of the US war on Afghanistan – seven years ago – I went to the Floor of Congress to point out that the war makes no sense. The original authorization had little to do with eliminating the Taliban. It was a resolution to retaliate against those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. From what we know now, the government of Saudi Arabia had far more to do with the financing and planning of 9/11 than did the Taliban. But we’re still pumping money into that lost cause. We are still killing Afghanis and in so doing creating the next generation of terrorists.

The war against ISIS will not end with its defeat in Mosul and Raqqa. We will not pack up and go home. Instead, the Pentagon and State Department have both said that US troops would remain in Iraq after ISIS is defeated. The continued presence of US troops in Iraq will provide all the recruiting needed for more ISIS or ISIS-like resistance groups to arise, which will in turn lead to a permanent US occupation of Iraq. The US “experts” have completely misdiagnosed the problem so it no surprise that their solutions will not work. They have claimed that al-Qaeda and ISIS arose in Iraq because we left, when actually they arose because we invaded in the first place.

General David Petraeus is said to have a lot of influence over HR McMaster, and in Syria he is pushing for the kind of US troop “surge” that he still believes was successful in Iraq. The two are said to favor thousands of US troops to fight ISIS in eastern Syria instead of relying on the US-sponsored and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to do the job. This “surge” into Syria would also lead to a lengthy US occupation of a large part of that country, as it is unlikely that the US would return the territory to the Syrian government. Would it remain an outpost of armed rebels that could be unleashed on Assad at the US President’s will? It’s hard to know from week to week whether “regime change” in Syria is a US priority or not. But we do know that a long-term US occupation of half of Syria would be illegal, dangerous, and enormously expensive.

President Trump’s Generals all seem to be pushing for a major US military escalation in the Middle East and south Asia. The President goes back and forth, one minute saying “we’re not going into Syria,” while the next seeming to favor another surge. He has given the military much decision-making latitude and may be persuaded by his Generals that the only solution is to go in big. If he follows such advice, it is likely his presidency itself will be buried in that graveyard of empires.

(Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Donald Trump, ISIS 

President Trump is about to embark on his first foreign trip, where he will stop in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican, before attending a NATO meeting in Brussels and the G-7 summit in Sicily. The media and pundits have loudly wondered why hasn’t he gone on a foreign trip sooner. I wonder why go at all?

What does the president hope to achieve with these meetings? This is a president who came into office with promises that we would finally start to mind our own business overseas. In December, he said that the policy of US “intervention and chaos” overseas must come to an end. Instead, he is jumping into a region – the Middle East – that has consumed the presidencies of numerous of his predecessors.

On Saudi Arabia, President Trump has shifted his position from criticism of the Saudi regime to a seemingly warm friendship with Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. He has approved weapons sales to Saudi Arabia that President Obama had halted due to Saudi human rights abuses, particularly in its horrific war on Yemen.

While visiting Saudi Arabia, one of the most extreme theocracies on earth – where conversion to Christianity can bring the death penalty – President Trump will attend a meeting of Muslim leaders to discuss the threats of terrorism and religious extremism. No, not in Saudi Arabia, but in Iran, where Christianity is legal and thriving!

Perhaps President Trump’s flip-flop on Saudi Arabia was inspired by the ten separate Washington, D.C. public relations firms the Kingdom keeps on the payroll, at a cost of $1.3 million per month. That kind of money can really grease the policy wheels in Washington.

From there, the US President will travel to Israel. Does he believe he will finally be able to solve the 70 year old Israel-Palestine conflict by negotiating a good deal? If so, he’s in for a surprise.

The problem persists partly because we have been meddling in the region for so long. Doing more of the same is pretty unlikely to bring about a different result. How many billions have we spent propping up “allies” and bribing others, and we’re no closer to peace now than when we started. Maybe it’s time for a new approach. Maybe it’s time for the countries in the Middle East to solve their own problems. They have much more incentive to reach some kind of deal in their own neighborhood.

Likewise his attendance at the NATO meeting is not very encouraging to those of us who were pleased to hear candidate Trump speak the truth about the outdated military alliance. We don’t need to strong-arm NATO members to spend more money on their own defense. We need to worry about our own defense. Our military empire – of which NATO is an arm – makes us weaker and more vulnerable. Minding our own business and rejecting militarism would make us safer.

Many pundits complain that President Trump spends too much time golfing. I would rather he spend a lot more time golfing and less time trying to solve the rest of the world’s problems. We cannot afford to be the policeman or nursemaid to the rest of the world, particularly when we have such a lousy record of success.

(Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
 

Congress ended the week by passing a continuing resolution keeping the government funded for one more week. This stopgap funding bill is designed to give Congress and the White House more time to negotiate a long-term spending bill. Passage of a long-term spending bill has been delayed over objections to Republican efforts to preserve Obamcare’s key features but give states a limited ability to opt out of some Obamacare mandates.

This type of brinkmanship has become standard operating procedure on Capitol Hill. The drama inevitably ends with a spending bill being crafted behind closed doors by small groups of members and staffers and then rushed to the floor and voted on before most members have a chance to read it. These “omnibus” spending bills are a dereliction of one of Congress’s two most important duties — allocating spending. Of course, Congress long ago abandoned another primary duty — preventing presidents from launching military attacks without first obtaining a congressional declaration of war.

The uncomfortable question raised by Congress’s abrogation of these two key functions is whether a republican form of government is compatible with a welfare-warfare state. The answer seems to be “no.”

Congress’s dysfunctional spending process is an inevitable result of the government’s growth. It is simply unrealistic to expect Congress to fund the modern leviathan via a lengthy and open process that allows individual members to have some say in how government spends their constituents’ money. The dysfunctional spending process benefits the many politicians eager to avoid accountability for government spending. The rushed process allows these politicians to say they had to vote for the spending bills. Often, these big spending bills include a promise to cut spending in the future. Like tomorrow, the promised spending cuts are always a day away.

If government continues to expand, the economy will continue to stagnate, social tensions and violence will increase, and more power will be concentrated in the hands of the president, bureaucrats, and a select few members of Congress. The only way to avoid this is for Congress to shut down most of the federal government, starting with bringing the troops home and drastically cutting the military-industrial complex’s budget. Congress must also close all unconstitutional federal agencies and programs, and wind down federal entitlement programs. A good place to start is the Department of Education. The Federal Reserve must be audited and then ended.

The root of the current crisis is neither political nor economic but philosophical. Too many have bought into the lie that government can protect us from life’s misfortunes and stamp out evil around the world without endangering our liberty, our safety, and our prosperity. Convincing a critical mass of people to reject big government is key to our success.

The breakdown of the congressional appropriations process, combined with hyper-interventionism via the Federal Reserve and foreign policy, suggest we are in the last stages of the welfare-warfare state. Whether this system’s inevitable collapse completes our descent into authoritarianism or leads to a restoration of limited, constitutional government and free markets depends on how effective those of us who know the truth are in spreading the ideas of liberty.

(Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Government Shutdown 

“I love Wikileaks,” candidate Donald Trump said on October 10th on the campaign trail. He praised the organization for reporting on the darker side of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was information likely leaked by a whistleblower from within the Clinton campaign to Wikileaks.

Back then he praised Wikileaks for promoting transparency, but candidate Trump looks less like President Trump every day. The candidate praised whistleblowers and Wikileaks often on the campaign trail. In fact, candidate Trump loved Wikileaks so much he mentioned the organization more than 140 times in the final month of the campaign alone! Now, as President, it seems Trump wants Wikileaks founder Julian Assange sent to prison

Last week CNN reported, citing anonymous “intelligence community” sources, that the Trump Administration’s Justice Department was seeking the arrest of Assange and had found a way to charge the Wikileaks founder for publishing classified information without charging other media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post for publishing the same information.

It might have been tempting to write off the CNN report as “fake news,” as is much of their reporting, but for the fact President Trump said in an interview on Friday that issuing an arrest warrant for Julian Assange would be, “OK with me.”

Trump’s condemnation of Wikileaks came just a day after his CIA Director, Michael Pompeo, attacked Wikileaks as a “hostile intelligence service.” Pompeo accused Assange of being “a fraud — a coward hiding behind a screen.”

Pompeo’s word choice was no accident. By accusing Wikileaks of being a “hostile intelligence service” rather than a publisher of information on illegal and abusive government practices leaked by whistleblowers, he signaled that the organization has no First Amendment rights. Like many in Washington, he does not understand that the First Amendment is a limitation on government rather than a granting of rights to citizens. Pompeo was declaring war on Wikileaks.

But not that long ago Pompeo also cited Wikileaks as an important source of information. In July he drew attention to the Wikileaks release of information damaging to the Clinton campaign, writing, “Need further proof that the fix was in from President Obama on down?”

There is a word for this sudden about-face on Wikileaks and the transparency it provides us into the operations of the prominent and powerful: hypocrisy.

The Trump Administration’s declaration of war on whistleblowers and Wikileaks is one of the greatest disappointments in these first 100 days. Donald Trump rode into the White House with promises that he would “drain the swamp,” meaning that he would overturn the apple carts of Washington’s vested interests. By unleashing those same vested interests on those who hold them in check – the whistleblowers and those who publish their revelations – he has turned his back on those who elected him.

Julian Assange, along with the whistleblowers who reveal to us the evil that is being done in our name, are heroes. They deserve our respect and admiration, not a prison cell. If we allow this president to declare war on those who tell the truth, we have only ourselves to blame.

(Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Julian Assange, Wikileaks 

Audit the Fed recently took a step closer to becoming law, when it was favorably reported by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. This means the House could vote on the bill at any time. The bill passed by voice vote without any objections, although Fed defenders did launch hysterical attacks on the bill during the debate as well as at a hearing on the bill the previous week.

One representative claimed that auditing the Fed would result in rising interest rates, a stock market crash, a decline in the dollar’s value, and a complete loss of confidence in the US economy. Those who understand economics know that all of this is actually what awaits America unless we change our monetary policy. Passing the audit bill is the vital first step in that process, since an audit can provide Congress a road map to changing the fiat currency system.

Another charge leveled by the Fed’s defenders is that subjecting the Fed to an audit would make the Fed subject to political pressure. There are two problems with this argument. First, nothing in the audit bill gives Congress or the president any new authority to interfere in the Federal Reserve’s operations. Second, and most importantly, the Federal Reserve has a long history of giving in to presidential pressure for an “accommodative” monetary policy.

The most notorious example of Fed chairmen tailoring monetary policy to fit the demands of a president is Nixon-era Federal Reserve Chair Arthur Burns. Burns and Nixon may be an extreme example — after all no other president was caught on tape joking with the Fed chair about Fed independence, but every president has tried to influence the Fed with varying degrees of success. For instance, Lyndon Johnson summoned the Fed chair to the White House to berate him for not tailoring monetary policy to support Johnson’s guns and butter policies.

Federal Reserve chairmen have also used their power to shape presidential economic policy. According to Maestro, Bob Woodward’s biography of Alan Greenspan, Bill Clinton once told Al Gore that Greenspan was a “man we can deal with,” while Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen claimed the Clinton administration and Greenspan’s Fed had a “gentleman’s agreement” regarding the Fed’s support for the administration’s economic policies.

The Federal Reserve has also worked to influence the legislative branch. In the 1970s, the Fed organized a campaign by major banks and financial institutions to defeat a prior audit bill. The banks and other institutions who worked to keep the Fed’s operations a secret are not only under the Fed’s regulatory jurisdiction, but are some of the major beneficiaries of the current monetary system.

There can be no doubt that, as the audit bill advances through the legislative process, the Fed and its allies will ramp up both public and behind-the-scenes efforts to kill the bill. Can anyone dismiss the possibility that Janet Yellen will attempt to “persuade” Donald Trump to drop his support for Audit the Fed in exchange for an “accommodative” monetary policy that supports the administration’s proposed spending on overseas militarism and domestic infrastructure?

While auditing the Fed is supported by the vast majority of Americans, it is opposed by powerful members of the financial elite and the deep state. Therefore, those of us seeking to change our national monetary policy must redouble our efforts to force Congress to put America on a path to liberty, peace, and prosperity by auditing, then ending, the Fed.

(Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Federal Reserve 

Thursday’s US missile attack on Syria must represent the quickest foreign policy U-turn in history. Less than a week after the White House gave Assad permission to stay on as president of his own country, President Trump decided that the US had to attack Syria and demand Assad’s ouster after a chemical attack earlier in the week. Trump blamed Assad for the attack, stated that “something’s going to happen” in retaliation, and less than two days later he launched a volley of 59 Tomahawk missiles (at a cost of $1.5 million each) onto a military airfield near where the chemical attack took place.

President Trump said it is in the “vital national security interest of the United States” to attack Syria over the use of poison gas. That is nonsense. Even if what Trump claims about the gas attack is true – and we’ve seen no evidence that it is – there is nothing about an isolated incident of inhuman cruelty thousands of miles from our borders that is in our “vital national security interest.” Even if Assad gassed his own people last week it hardly means he will launch chemical attacks on the United States even if he had the ability, which he does not.

From the moment the chemical attack was blamed on Assad, however, I expressed my doubts about the claims. It simply makes no sense for Assad to attack civilians with a chemical weapon just as he is winning his war against ISIS and al-Qaeda and has been told by the US that it no longer seeks regime change. On the verge of victory, he commits a suicidal act to no strategic or tactical military advantage? More likely the gas attack was a false flag by the rebels — or perhaps even by our CIA — as a last ditch effort to forestall a rebel defeat in the six year war.

Would the neocons and the mainstream media lie to us about what happened last week in Syria? Of course they would. They lied us into attacking Iraq, they lied us into attacking Gaddafi, they lied us into seeking regime change in Syria in the first place. We should always assume they are lying.

Who benefits from the US attack on Syria? ISIS, which immediately after the attack began a ground offensive. Does President Trump really want the US to act as ISIS’s air force?

The gas attack, which took some 70 civilian lives, was horrible and must be condemned. But we must also remember that US bombs in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians. Just recently, US bombs killed 300 Iraqi civilians in one strike! Does it really make a difference if you are killed by poison gas or by a US missile?

What’s next for President Trump in Syria? Russia has not backed down from its claim that the poison gas leaked as a result of a conventional Syrian bomb on an ISIS chemical weapons factory. Moscow claims it is determined to defend its ally, Syria. Will Trump unilaterally declare a no fly zone in parts of Syria and attempt to prevent Russian air traffic? Some suggest this is his next move. It is one that carries a great danger of igniting World War Three.

Donald Trump’s attack on Syria was clearly illegal. However, Congress shows no interest in reining in this out-of-control president. We should fear any US escalation and must demand that our Representatives prohibit it. If there ever was a time to flood the Capitol Hill switchboard demanding an end to US military action in Syria, it is now!

(Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Syria 

Is common sense beginning to creep into US policy in the Middle East? Last week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the longer-term status of Syrian President Assad would be “decided by the Syrian people.” The media reported this as a radical shift in US foreign policy, but isn’t this just stating what should be obvious? What gives any country the right to determine who rules someone else? Washington is currently paralyzed by evidence-free rumors that the Russians somehow influenced our elections, but no one blinks an eye when Washington declares that one or another foreign leader “must go.”

It’s only too bad that President Obama hadn’t followed this back in 2011 instead of declaring that Assad had to go and then arming rebel groups who ended up being allies with al-Qaeda. Imagine how many thousands of lives and billions of dollars would have been saved by following this policy in the first place. Imagine the millions of refugees who could still be in their homes, running their businesses, living their lives.

Will the Trump Administration actually follow through on Tillerson’s Syria policy statement? It is too early to tell. The President has illegally sent hundreds of US troops to fight on the ground in Syria. Current US positions in eastern Syria suggest that Washington may be looking to carve out parts of oil-rich areas of the country for some kind of future federation.

The White House followed up on Tillerson’s comments by stating that getting rid of Assad was no longer a top priority for the US. This also sounds good. But does this mean that once the current top priority, destroying ISIS, is completed, Washington may return to its active measures to unseat the Syrian president? Neocons in Washington still insist that the rise of ISIS in Syria was due to President Assad, but in fact ISIS did not appear in Syria until the US began trying to overthrow Assad. They haven’t given up on their desire to overthrow the Syrian government and they do have influence in this Administration.

If the Trump Administration is serious about letting the people of Syria decide their fate he needs to take concrete steps. Rather than sending in more troops to fight an ISIS already on its last legs, he must bring US troops home and prohibit the CIA from further destabilizing the country.

It would also be nice if Congress would wake up from its long slumber and start following the Constitution. The President (and his predecessors) have taken this country to war repeatedly without proper Constitutionally-required authority to do so. The president has reportedly decided not to even bother announcing where next he plans to send the troops. Congress can rein him in with very little effort by saying no money can be spent to deploy US troops to areas where they may encounter hostilities unless a state of war is declared.

By all means, we should let the Syrian people decide who will be their president, even if they choose someone we don’t like. Syria was never a threat to the United States and the 2011 US intervention has destroyed the country. Interventionism has horrible consequences and no victories to show for itself. It is time for all the US troops to just march back home.

(Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Donald Trump, Syria 

There was high drama last week when Rep. Devin Nunes announced at the White House that he had seen evidence that the communications of the Donald Trump campaign people, and perhaps even Trump himself, had been “incidentally collected” by the US government.

If true, this means that someone authorized the monitoring of Trump campaign communications using Section 702 of the FISA Act. Could it have been then-President Obama? We don’t know. Could it have been other political enemies looking for something to harm the Trump campaign or presidency? It is possible.

There is much we do not yet know about what happened and there is probably quite a bit we will never know. But we do know several very important things about the government spying on Americans.

First there is Section 702 itself. The provision was passed in 2008 as part of a package of amendments to the 1978 FISA bill. As with the PATRIOT Act, we were told that we had to give the government more power to spy on us so that it could catch terrorists. We had to give up some of our liberty for promises of more security, we were told. We were also told that the government would only spy on the bad guys, and that if we had nothing to hide we should have nothing to fear.

We found out five years later from Edward Snowden that the US government viewed Section 702 as a green light for the mass surveillance of Americans. Through programs he revealed, like PRISM, the NSA is able to collect and store our Internet search history, the content of our emails, what files we have shared, who we have chatted with electronically, and more.

That’s why people like NSA whistleblower William Binney said that we know the NSA was spying on Trump because it spies on all of us!

Ironically, FISA itself was passed after the Church Committee Hearings revealed the abuses, criminality, and violations of our privacy that the CIA and other intelligence agencies had been committing for years. FISA was supposed to rein in the intelligence community but, as is often the case in Washington, it did the opposite: it ended up giving the government even more power to spy on us.

So President Trump might have been “wiretapped” by Obama, as he claimed, but unfortunately he will not draw the right conclusions from the violation. He will not see runaway spying on Americans as a grotesque attack on American values. That is unfortunate, because this could have provided a great teaching moment for the president. Seeing how all of us are vulnerable to this kind of government abuse, President Trump could have changed his tune on the PATRIOT Act and all government attacks on our privacy. He could have stood up for liberty, which is really what makes America great.

Section 702 of the FISA Act was renewed in 2012, just before we learned from Snowden how it is abused. It is set to expire this December unless Congress extends it again. Knowing what we now know about this anti-American legislation we must work hard to prevent its renewal. They will try to scare us into supporting the provision, but the loss of our liberty is what should scare us the most!

(Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
 

This Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on a Republican bill that supposedly repeals Obamacare. However, the bill retains Obamacare’s most destructive features.

That is not to say this legislation is entirely without merit. For example, the bill expands the amount individuals can contribute to a health savings account (HSA). HSAs allow individuals to save money tax-free to pay for routine medical expenses. By restoring individuals’ control over healthcare dollars, HSAs remove the distortions introduced in the healthcare market by government policies encouraging over-reliance on third-party payers.

The legislation also contains other positive tax changes, such a provision allowing individuals to use healthcare tax credits to purchase a “catastrophic-only” insurance policy. Ideally, health insurance should only cover major or catastrophic health events. No one expects their auto insurance to cover routine oil changes, so why should they expect health insurance to cover routine checkups?

Unfortunately the bill’s positive aspects are more than outweighed by its failure to repeal Obamacare’s regulations and price controls. Like all price controls, Obamacare distorts the signals that a freely functioning marketplace sends to consumers and producers, thus guaranteeing chaos in the marketplace. The result of this chaos is higher prices, reduced supply, and lowered quality.

Two particularly insidious Obamacare regulations are guaranteed issue and community ratings. As the name suggests, guaranteed issue forces health insurance companies to issue a health insurance policy to anyone who applies for coverage. Community ratings forces health insurance companies to charge an obese couch potato and a physically-fit jogger similar premiums. This forces the jogger to subsidize the couch potato’s unhealthy lifestyle.

Obamacare’s individual mandate was put in place to ensure that guaranteed issue and community ratings would not drive health insurance companies out of business. Rather than repealing guaranteed issue and community ratings, the House Republicans’ plan forces those who go longer than two months without health insurance to pay a penalty to health insurance companies when they purchase new policies.

It is hard to feel sympathy for the insurance companies since they supported Obamacare. These companies were eager to accept government regulations in exchange for a mandate that individuals buy their product. But we should feel sympathy for Americans who are struggling to afford, or even obtain, healthcare because of Obamacare and who will obtain little or no relief from Obamacare 2.0.

The underlying problem with the Republican proposal is philosophical. The plan put forth by the alleged pro-free-market Republicans implicitly accepts the premise that healthcare is a right that must be provided by government. But rights are inalienable aspects of our humanity, not gifts from government.

If government can give us rights, then it can also limit or even take away those rights. Giving government power to enforce a fictitious right to healthcare justifies government theft and coercion. Thievery and violence do not suddenly become moral when carried out by governments.

Treating healthcare as a right leads to government intervention, which, as we have seen, inevitably leads to higher prices and lower quality. This is why, with the exception of those specialties, like plastic surgery, that are still treated as goods, not rights, healthcare is one of the few areas where innovation leads to increased costs.

America’s healthcare system will only be fixed when a critical mass of people rejects the philosophical and economic fallacies justifying government-run healthcare. Those of us who know the truth must continue to work to spread the ideas of, and grow the movement for, liberty.

(Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Health Care, Obamacare