Stop Misusing the Term "Health Care"

Media reports say that 20 million Americans will lose their “health care” under the Republican plan to replace ObamaCare, as if health care is like a cellphone, wallet, or item of clothing unintentionally left somewhere or stolen by someone.

Such confusion about “health care” stems from the misuse of the term itself. In common usage, the term “health care” is used as a synonym for “medical care” and “medical insurance,” although these terms have widely different meanings. This is more than an issue of semantics. There are serious policy implications of using the wrong words, and the misuse reflects an entitled attitude among the populace and lazy thinking by the media, academia, and politicians.

Health care means taking care of one’s health. It’s what one does to stay healthy—namely, to have a heathy diet, exercise, not abuse alcohol or drugs, and avoid risky behaviors.

Medical care or treatment is what you seek from medical professionals when you have a medical problem and aren’t in good health.

Medical insurance is what you obtain to protect yourself financially from a catastrophic illness or injury requiring expensive medical treatment. In insurance terms, you pool the risk with others.

The total cost of medical care in the USA would be reduced significantly if Americans simply took care of their health. For example, the cost of overeating alone is estimated at $200 billion, just for the treatment of diabetes and heart disease. This doesn’t include the cost of Social Security Disability payments or other income support for those incapable of working due to medical problems stemming from overeating. Nor does it include joint problems from being overweight or gastrointestinal problems from eating too much of the wrong foods.
In addition, the medical costs stemming from smoking are estimated to be $133 billion. Alcohol and drug abuse add another $350 billion. Sexually-transmitted diseases add $16 billion. Reckless driving and other reckless behavior add untold billions more.

Using these figures, the total cost of preventable illnesses and injuries is $699 billion at the minimum, and probably $1 trillion when all the other costs are included. That comes to $2,184 to $3,125 per citizen, or $5,024 to $7,187 per household. In a very real sense, the 30% of the population that foregoes health care – that is, that doesn’t take care of their health – are inflicting these costs on everyone else.

Much philosophical gibberish has been written about the moral responsibility of society to provide medical care to those who can’t afford it (as if society is an individual moral agent). But virtually nothing has been written about the moral responsibility of individuals to not inflict costs on the rest of society because they lack self-control and self-respect. Of course, with nearly a third of Americans not taking care of their health, this is too large of a group for the media and their advertisers to make angry by stressing the point – especially given that much of advertising is for drugs, magic elixirs, and snake oil to address the infirmities and ailments stemming from a lack of personal health care. Certainly, no politician in his right mind would dare to raise the issue.

These cowardly framers of public opinion also are silent about the fact that spending on medical care/insurance ranks about fifth compared to other spending categories, such as housing, food, transportation (cars), education, and entertainment, as I’ve detailed in previous commentaries. It’s not hyperbole to say that medical care/insurance is subsidized and socialized in the USA so that the masses can buy expensive cars that are loaded with gadgets galore, instead of saving money for the infirmities of old age. It’s a matter of making tradeoffs.

In the same vein, many (most?) of the framers of public opinion say that medical care/insurance should be socialized; that is, provided entirely by the government. Yet, strangely and inconsistently, they don’t advocate the same for food, shelter, clothing, and transportation. Unless they are hardcore Marxists, they don’t say that these industries have to be socialized in order to help the poor—that everyone, rich, poor and in between, should have to buy food in government commissaries, live in public housing, wear standard Mao uniforms, and ride the same model of bicycles to work. Instead, the poor are aided with targeted social-welfare programs, such as food stamps, housing vouchers, and over one hundred other forms of welfare and entitlements.

The counterargument is that medical care/insurance is different, because it doesn’t have the immediacy of food, shelter, clothing, and transportation. It’s not something that people need every day. It requires people to plan ahead, defer gratification, make tradeoffs, and save for medical emergencies. That’s a valid point. However, there are ways of addressing this inescapable fact of human nature other than socializing the entire medical industry, or engaging in massive income transfers, or hatching monstrous central plans in Congress that will only serve to raise costs and make people even less willing to take care of their health. I’ve detailed the other ways in other commentaries, including commentaries in the Wall Street Journal, a professional medical journal, and other publications.

Oh, well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I have to end now so that I can drive to the convenience store in my $30,000 car to buy a big bag of Cheetos, a Big Gulp, a package of beef jerky, a package of Twinkies, a Snickers bar, a pack of cigarettes, five lottery tickets, and a bottle of antacid tablets. Or to use the popular lament, I’ll be “losing my health care” at the convenience store.

Republished from The Libertarian Institute.

Craig Cantoni
Craig Cantoni writes for the Libertarian Institute.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

The Best Defenses of Individualism in One Book

George H. Smith and Marilyn Moore have done a terrific job compiling this varied selection of essays on individualism. Some of the writers may be known to the general public - people like John Stuart Mill, Oscar Wilde, Michel de Montaigne, St. Augustine, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Robert G. Ingersoll. Others may be known to libertarians and anarchists - people like Lysander Spooner, Auberon Herbert and Josiah Warren. But many more are relatively obscure and may be new to the reader. They were to me.

The book is divided into six categories - individuality, social individualism, moral individualism, political individualism, religious individualism and economic individualism. There is, of course, some overlap between them.

In the introduction by George H. Smith, he discusses the origins of the term and some of its critics. He quotes Tocqueville to the effect that "that word 'individualism' was unknown to our ancestors, for the good reason that in their days every individual necessarily belonged to a group and no one could regard himself as an isolated unit." It was often used as an epithet, a term of derision, and "has retained its negative connotations to this day among both conservative and socialist intellectuals, whose criticisms have much in common."

The essays themselves range from a short two pages to twenty-nine pages. There are twenty-six altogether, all by different authors. The quality of the essays vary. A few are a bit arcane, but the vast majority are lucid to the modern reader. And more than a few are brilliant and inspiring.

One of the early essays to impress me was "Of Individuality, As One of the Elements of Well-being" by John Stuart Mill. It's one of the chapters from his famous book, On Liberty. In it, he gives a resounding defense of eccentricity, the right to be different. And more, the importance of letting people be different. It is what defines character and sometimes genius. "One whose desires and impulses are not his own, has no character, no more than a steam-engine has character. If, in addition to being his own, his impulses are strong, and are under the government of a strong will, he has an energetic character. Whoever thinks that individuality of desires and impulses should not be encouraged to unfold itself, must maintain that society has no need of strong natures - is not the better for containing many persons who have such character - and that a high general average of energy is not desirable."

The book only gets better from there. I particularly enjoyed the following:
  • an entry by Oscar Wilde from The Soul of Man Under Socialism 
  • the excerpt from Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman 
  • an eclectic entry criticizing state and religion sanctioned marriage from Moses Harman
  • an excerpt defending sexual freedom from Social Bliss Considered: In Marriage and Divorce; Cohabiting Unmarried, and Public Whoring by Peter Annet (published in 1749)
  • excerpts from True Civilization by the libertarian Josiah Warren on self-sovereignty and voluntary individualism. Published in 1868, this passage anticipates much of the later writings of Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard and other luminaries of the modern libertarian movement.
  • an excellent essay on property rights by Thomas Hodgskin
  • a superb attack on slavery by Angelina E. Grimke from Letters to Catherine E. Beecher; in Reply to An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism.  This essay is short but brilliant. She calls slavery "man-stealing".
  • a stirring defense of voluntaryism from Auberon Herbert's The Voluntaryist Creed. He admonishes politicians of all stripes. "Why should you desire to compel others; why should you seek to have power - that evil, bitter, mocking thing, which has been from of old, as it is today, the sorrow and curse of the world - over your fellow men and fellow women?" This is a powerful piece of writing, a ringing denunciation of the use of force and fraud in society. It is also very much a precursor of modern libertarian writings.
  • a strong endorsement of reason over mysticism in an excerpt from Free Thought - Its Conditions, Agreements, and Secular Results by George Jacob Holyoake
  • a ringing defense of individuality and independent mind against religious orthodoxy from Robert G. Ingersoll. Known as "The Great Infidel", Ingersoll was a renowned orator and abolitionist in the 19th Century. Encouraging people to stand on their own convictions, he writes, "Whoever believes at the command of power, tramples his own individuality beneath his feet and voluntarily robs himself of all that renders man superior to the brute." He invokes a mythical traveler "over the vast plain called life" and asks, which path shall he choose. Independent thinkers take their own path. "These travelers take roads of their own, and are denounced by all the others as infidels and atheists." But they are true heroes. "Suppression of honest inquiry is retrogression, and must end in intellectual night." One wonders if Ingersoll inspired Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken.
  • the longest passage is called A Catechism of Individualism by Henry Wilson. It is a response to A New Catechism of Socialism by Belfort Bax. Written as a series of questions and answers, this little gem is a solid explanations of the fallacies of socialist economics.
To say I enjoyed this book is an understatement. I loved it. It explores the entire range of individualist thinking including individuality, property, self-sovereignty, the rights of women, the proper use of force in society, free thought and more.

I leave you with this excerpt The Dominant Idea by individualist-feminist Voltairine de Cleyre in which she urges people to commit to the cause of freedom and not be seduced by the dominant idea of her age, materialism. Make freedom your dominant idea. This call to arms would actually have made a good closing essay for the book rather than being included in the section on social individualism.
"If you choose the liberty and pride and strength of the single soul, and the free fraternization of men, as the purpose which your life is to make manifest, then do not sell it for tinsel. Think that your soul is strong and will hold its way; and slowly, through bitter struggle perhaps, the strength will grow. And the foregoing of possessions for which others barter the last possibility of freedom, will become easy.
"Let us have Men, Men who will say a word to their souls and keep it - keep it when it is not easy, but keep it when it is hard - keep it when the storm roars and there is a white-streaked sky and blue thunder before, and one's eyes are blinded and one's ears deafened with the war of opposing things; and keep it under the long leaden sky and the gray dreariness that never lifts. Hold unto the last: that is what it means to have a Dominant Idea."

Marco den Ouden
Marco den Ouden
Marco den Ouden writes at The Jolly Libertarian.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Trade Deficits Don't Matter; Understanding Deficits Do

Donald Trump has demonstrated his profound misunderstanding of the basic economic principles of international trade for several years now, and perhaps reached a pinnacle when he told the New York Daily News in an interview last August that “we’re getting hosed by the Chinese — and that we’ve done it with our eyes wide shut.” Here’s more of Trump from that interview, further demonstrating his clueless and child-like misunderstanding of international trade:
“What China has done to America?” he raged. “The money and the jobs they’ve taken from us? It is the greatest single theft in the history of the United States.” In other words, China is to the United States as Bernie Madoff is to investors. “And Japan is almost as bad,” he stormed. “Japan sells us millions of cars — and we sell them wheat!
MP: Alternatively, we might say “What the US has done to China? The manufactured goods we’ve taken from them? It is the greatest single theft in the history of China.” In other words, the United States is to China as Bernie Madoff is to investors. Here’s more from the interview:
“I’ve been saying for years that China would take us down. Why? Because our leaders are stupid and China’s leaders are smart. They sell to us, no taxes, no nothing. We sell them 10% of what they sell us. Ninety percent to 10%! It’s crazy. Our trade deficit with China is like having a business that continues to lose money every single year. Who would do business like that?”
Peter Navarro, in his Wall Street Journal opinion piece earlier this week (see related post here) demonstrated his fundamental misunderstanding of international trade when he opened his op-ed with the following question: “Do trade deficits matter?” Just to ask the question is to admit one’s ignorance of trade theory, which has been pretty settled on this topic since Adam Smith taught us in 1776 that “Nothing…can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade.”

To help Mr. Trump and Mr. Navarro with their “understanding deficit” about international trade theory and trade deficits, it’s a good time to invoke the timeless wisdom of Milton Friedman (featured here), presented below as a remedial refresher on some of the most basic principles of international trade (updated for today):
In the international trade area, the political rhetoric is almost always about how we must export, and what’s really good for America is an industry that produces exports. And if we buy from abroad and import lots of goods from countries like China, Japan and Mexico, that’s supposed to be bad. In the words of Donald Trump, we are getting “hosed,” “ripped off,” “crushed,” and killed” by our trade partners who then laugh at us as they supposedly steal our jobs. 
But clearly that is backwards and upside-down thinking. After all, the goods we send abroad to other countries we now can’t eat ourselves, we can’t wear, and we can’t use for our homes and households. Simply put, the goods and services we export and send abroad are goods and services not available to us. On the other hand, the goods and services we import from China, Japan, Germany and Mexico provide Americans with TV sets we can watch, automobiles we can drive, food we can eat, with all sorts of nice things for us to use. 
Here are two important points about trade that Mr. Trump and Mr. Navarro need to understand: 1) the economic gain to Americans from foreign trade is what we import from countries like China, Japan and Mexico, and 2) what we export is the cost of getting those imports. And the proper objective for a nation as Adam Smith put it, is to arrange things, so we get as large a volume of imports as possible from China, Japan and Mexico, for as small a volume of our exports as possible.
This carries over to the terminology we hear Mr. Trump and Mr. Navarro use. When they talk about a favorable balance of trade, what is that term taken to mean? It’s taken to mean that we export more than we import. But from the point of view of our economic well-being and our standard of living, that’s an unfavorable balance. That means we’re sending out more goods and getting fewer in return. Each of you in your private household would know better than that. You don’t regard it as a favorable balance when you have to send out more goods to get less coming in. It’s favorable when you can get more by sending out less.
Republished from AEI.
Mark J. Perry
Mark J. Perry
Mark J. Perry is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

VIDEO: VA Hospital Removes Trump Photo Hung by Veterans

A Veterans Affairs hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida, is facing questions today for removing photos of President Donald Trump and VA Secretary David Shulkin.
Fox News’ Ed Henry reported Thursday on “Fox & Friends” that U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., and a wounded veteran hung the pictures after noticing the VA hospital didn’t have any on display, as is customary. Even though a staff member at the VA hospital assisted the veterans, the photos of Trump and Shulkin were later removed.
“Local officials there told [Mast], ‘He’s not our president. We’re not hanging the photo.’ So he brought a portrait and put it up on the wall,” Henry told viewers. “But then after the congressman left, they pulled the photos back down.”
A VA spokeswoman told CBS 12 News that Mast’s actions were “inappropriate.” She added that the portraits were not “authenticated” and they need to come from “the central office.”

Report by, and originally published at, The Daily Signal.

New Planned Parenthood Ad Campaign Seeks to Defend Abortion Giant’s Government Funding

After spending over $30 million on the 2016 election, Planned Parenthood has a new project: a million-dollar ad campaign defending its government funding.
The organization, which receives over half a billion dollars from taxpayers each year, stands to lose a significant portion of its government funding should Congress pass a reconciliation bill that includes the House Energy and Commerce Committee language making Planned Parenthood affiliates ineligible for receiving Medicaid reimbursements for one year after the enactment of the bill.
Desperate to keep the tax dollars flowing, Planned Parenthood’s latest campaign will reportedly highlight the abortion giant’s “cancer screening and prevention services,” as they are referred to in the group’s annual reports, which, according to Planned Parenthood’s own numbers, have decreased by 57 percent since 2010.
It’s not surprising that Planned Parenthood intends to highlight cancer-related services rather than its abortion activity. But policymakers should keep several important facts in mind during the debate surrounding tax dollars and entanglement with the abortion industry.
The most recent annual report for 2014-2015 shows that 94 percent of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy resolution services were abortions and less than 1 percent were adoption referrals. In the same year, Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortions. Over the course of the last three reported years, Planned Parenthood has performed almost 1 million abortions.
Meanwhile, annual reports in recent years show that Planned Parenthood’s contraceptive services have dropped. STD and STI prevention and treatment services have dropped. Total services have dropped. And, importantly, cancer screening and prevention services have dropped.
LiveAction highlights that Planned Parenthood “only does 0.97 percent of Pap smears and 1.8 percent of breast exams” in the U.S. Planned Parenthood provides zero mammograms, despite often repeated claims to the contrary.
It’s also worth noting that the most recent data available about Planned Parenthood’s activity comes from the 2014-2015 annual report, which was released in December 2015. As previously discussed here at The Daily Signal, these annual reports are typically published in December or January, so the latest report addressing 2015-2016 was expected to be available by now.
But it’s nowhere to be found, and requests from The Daily Signal to Planned Parenthood’s press team have gone unanswered.
How many cancer screening and prevention services did Planned Parenthood provide during the most recent reporting year? How many unique patients were served? How many abortions were performed?
Planned Parenthood isn’t saying, but is going to great lengths to keep the tax dollars flowing in the meantime.
Commentary by Melanie Israel. Originally published at The Daily Signal.

Republicans split, conservatives angry as healthcare overhaul inches ahead

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 16, 2017.REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 16, 2017.REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (R-TN) and John Yarmuth (R-KY) prepare for the markup of the American Healthcare Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (R-TN) begins the markup of the American Healthcare Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The House Budget Committee begins the markup of the American Healthcare Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Deeply divided Republicans squeezed their U.S. healthcare overhaul, backed by President Donald Trump, through a key House of Representatives panel on Thursday despite defections by three conservatives who consider it too similar to the Obamacare law it is intended to replace.

Trump's first major legislative initiative still faces an uphill battle in the full House and later the Senate despite ongoing efforts by the White House and Republican leaders to satisfy conservative opponents.

The Budget Committee vote was 19 to 17, with Republican Representatives David Brat, Gary Palmer and Mark Sanford - all members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus - joining the panel's Democrats in voting against it. The committee brought provisions approved last week by two other panels into a single bill, helping pave the way for a later vote on the House floor.

Republicans, who control Congress and the White House, could not afford to lose more than three from their ranks on the committee for it to pass.

"I don't think we are anywhere near passage," Brat said after the vote, noting that Republican conservatives as well as moderates had problems with the bill.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act, the signature legislative achievement of former President Barack Obama, enabled about 20 million previously uninsured Americans to obtain medical coverage. About half of those were through the law's expansion of eligibility and increased funding for the Medicaid government health insurance program for the poor.

The close vote illustrated the problems Republican leaders may encounter in corralling enough votes in their party to win passage on the House floor amid unified Democratic opposition. The measure now goes to the Rules Committee before reaching the House floor.

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan congressional agency, forecast on Monday that the legislation would increase the number of Americans without health insurance by 24 million by 2026, while cutting $337 billion from federal budget deficits over the same period. The bill faces opposition from leading healthcare providers, including doctors and hospitals.

"We are on track and on schedule," House Speaker Paul Ryan, who unveiled the legislation last week and is its chief champion in the House, said after the committee's vote. He added that while the main parts of the bill "are going to stay exactly as they are," Republicans were making unspecified "improvements and refinements."

Ryan told a news conference that Trump was "deeply involved" and "helping bridge gaps" among Republican lawmakers to get a consensus plan.


Conservatives were unmoved. "There's no natural constituency for this bill," said Republican Representative Raul Labrador, another Freedom Caucus member.

"The Left is really mad about it. The Right is really mad about it. The middle is really mad about it. And so far it just seems to be a constituency of one, which is Washington insiders, people that are just trying to get something passed so they can get to the next issue."

Trump administration officials and House Republican leaders have said they hope to get the bill to the House floor by the end of the month so it can go to the Senate before lawmakers' mid-April recess.

Conservatives want a quicker end to the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which the bill has set for 2020, and want to add work requirements for some Medicaid recipients. They also call the age-based tax credits to help people buy insurance on the open market an unwise new entitlement.

The White House said it was discussing changes with House Republican leaders. Trump told a Fox News interviewer on Wednesday that much of the bill would still be negotiated, especially as it moves from the House to the Senate.

Conservative advocacy groups praised the Republicans who voted "no." Club for Growth President David McIntosh said it makes no sense for Ryan and Budget Committee chair Diane Black to force Republicans "to walk the plank and vote for a bad bill that they've already admitted needs to be changed."

Black asked fellow Republicans who had doubts not to "cut off the discussion" by voting no.

After approving the legislation, the panel adopted four non-binding Republican recommendations for changes before it moves to the House floor, including one by the conservative Palmer on adding work requirements for able-bodied, childless Medicaid recipients.

The other recommendations called for no longer encouraging people to sign up for insurance through Medicaid, giving states more flexibility in designing Medicaid programs, and changing the bill's tax credits to help lower-income people more.

Democrats have called the Republicans' plan a blow to the elderly and the poor while giving tax cuts to the rich.

Representative John Yarmuth, the committee's top Democrat, said the legislation was "not a healthcare bill; it is an ideological document." He said the bill imagined a "fantasy land where young people don't get sick, and apparently they don't grow old either, because they don't have to worry about being priced out of the market."

 (Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu, David Morgan and Yasmeen Abutaleb; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Dan Grebler)