Quick Roundup 303

Monday, February 18, 2008

Reports of Paternalism's Death Greatly Exaggerated

Over at City Journal comes the following perspicacious observation about socialized medicine.

[T]he real question is whether subsidized medicine is the best way to raise life expectancy -- or whether political and legal reforms that promote the creation of wealth do more.
Indeed, and that is a long-overdue question! But it should be asked not just regarding African aid programs, but in the context of the medical insurance crisis in the United States of America, and anywhere else socialized medicine exists or is being contemplated.

The article at City Journal is, by the way, quite worthwhile, but for the claim at its beginning that paternalism died, except in the area of foreign aid. No. Paternalism is alive and well in the West, sad to say.

As an excellent companion piece to Michael Knox Beran's piece, I would recommend a look at Roger Sandall's Spiked article, "The Dereliction Express".

Campaign Finance Regulations vs. Freedom of Speech

In the Washington Post is an article, "Unfettered Speech, Now", by Bradley A. Smith and Steve Simpson, in which they describe a lawsuit filed by an organization working to further the cause of freedom of speech because it is being forced to register as a political action committee (PAC):
Political activist David Keating created SpeechNow.org to give individual Americans a way to speak about candidates free of the byzantine campaign finance regulations that apply to modern political speech. The group's particular mission is to protect First Amendment rights at the ballot box -- to buy ads urging citizens to vote for politicians who support free speech and against those who do not -- but its model could be applied to any issue or candidate a group of voters cares about.


Nonetheless, according to federal campaign finance laws and the FEC, SpeechNow.org must become a "political committee," a PAC, and comply with a host of regulations that rival the tax laws in burden and complexity. Failure to do so could result in up to five years in prison for contributors and the principals of the group. [bold added]
I have to say that I disagree with the article's final paragraph. There is no way to "bring federal campaign finance laws into line with the constitutional principles of free speech and association" because such laws violate individual rights by their very nature. When the government introduces the initiation of force into one area of our lives, it will inevitably bring it into other areas of our lives for the same reason that, in economics, "controls breed controls", as they say.

Scott Powell Interview

Nick Provenzo interviews Scott Powell over at Rule of Reason regarding the latest course in his A First History for Adults series.
[J]ust as the West was achieving supremacy over Islam politically and militarily, after about 1700, its own culture was in many regards abandoning the root of its relative advance--namely the "Renaissance" or rebirth of reason. This is especially the case in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when Western thinkers turned against the Enlightenment, and the brief political flowering of individual rights in the latter eighteenth century was smothered in Europe. The process of the political subordination of the East was then accelerating, but the cultural conduit carrying ideas Eastward was now transmitting the ideologies then in vogue, such as nationalism and socialism, which were contrary to those that had actually spurred Europe's progress. Consequently, when those Muslims who were interested in improving their lives turned West, they failed to find anyone who could articulate the reasons why the West was better. That life in the West was and is better than in the Middle East is manifest, but to identify why is not a simple matter. And if one does not understand the causes then one cannot properly transpose what has happened in Western civilization into the Islamic setting.

The West is thus, as you say, to be indicted--for failing to know, embrace, and defend the values that have nourished its own greatness. Part and parcel to this had been the adoption of counterproductive foreign policies, which have only served to exacerbate the antagonism between the two cultures.
Read the whole thing!

Yaron Brook on the Economy

Over at Forbes, Yaron Brook argues that "To Stimulate the Economy, Liberate It".
Faced with recession, therefore, we should be asking not, "What can the government do to stimulate the economy?" but "What can it stop doing?" Washington should be debating which disastrous programs to phase out first: Sarbanes-Oxley, or the constellation of agencies that distort the housing market, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Politicians should be committing to drastically cutting government spending, so that Americans can have real and lasting tax relief.
Yes. He said exactly that and better yet, he shows how he reached this conclusion.

Don't forget that Forbes invites user comments. A timely article like this deserves a show of support!

-- CAV

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