e shtunë, 7 korrik 2007


say what you will about ayn rand and the "cult" of objectivism, she had some brilliant moments--especially her more libertarian views on economics and ethics and her emphasis on a rational epistemology, even if i think her notion of "rationality" needs to be expanded. i also champion her "romantic manifesto," as i believe art *should* try to portray and achieve an aesthetic/heroic ideal that expresses the "metaphysical value-judgements" of an empowering, life-affirming (in other words, nietzschean) philosophy. i have included some essays on her aristotelian/romantic aesthetics below.

aristotelian theory is especially important when it comes to issues like discerning the "original intent" of the constitution--that is, whether such a thing is possible at all, or whether it is to be left to the whims of the democratic process, where the "majority" has the potential of voting pretty much *all* our rights away. in the sense that postmodern literary criticism understands meaning to come not from the "original intent" of the author but rather the dynamic interplay between the reader's class/race/ethnicity/whatever and the author's vague traces of presence, it seems to only further the predominantly leftist/liberal agenda of the state-sponsored academic elite with their notion of an infinitely malleable or "living" constitution that is to be read one way or another depending on the dominant social paradigm at the time--which gives one the impression that our "inalienable" rights may not be part of our original nature after all, but are rather something ascribed to us by the dictates of our platonic guardians, i.e. the supreme court judges who have not only taken it upon themselves to "translate" the constitution for us (how nice of them!) but also to let us know when it is *proper* to speak or own property or bear arms within certain limits (which they prescribe, of course).

anyway, enjoy!




The Romantic Manifesto

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature is a non-fiction work by Ayn Rand, a collection of essays regarding the nature of art. It was first published in 1969, with a second, revised edition published in 1975. Most of the essays originally appeared in The Objectivist, except for the "Introduction to Ninety-Three", which was an introduction for an edition of the Victor Hugo novel. The revised edition added the essay "Art and Cognition".

At the base of her argument, Rand asserts that one cannot create art without infusing a given work with one's own value judgments and personal philosophy. Even if the artist attempts to withhold moral overtones, the work becomes tinged with a deterministic or naturalistic message. The next logical step of Rand's argument is that the audience of any particular work cannot help but come away with some sense of a philosophical message, colored by his or her own personal values, ingrained into their psyche by whatever degree of emotional impact the work holds for them.

Rand goes on to divide artistic endeavors into "valid" and "invalid" forms. (Photography, for example, is invalid to her (qua art form) because a camera merely records the world exactly as it is and has very limited, if any, capacity to carry a moral message beyond the photographer's choice of subject matter.) Art, to her, should always strive to elevate and idealize the human spirit. She specifically attacks Naturalism and Modernism in art, while upholding Romanticism (in the artistic sense, not in terms of general philosophy).

Rand states unequivocally that the primary purpose of her art is to glorify the triumphs of free will through the heroic actions of heroic characters.

The book ends with a short story entitled "The Simplest Thing in the World".

What is Living in the Philosophy of Ayn Rand

by Lester Hunt

If I had to say which part of Ayn Rand's philosophical work is most unjustly neglected, and most likely to yield pleasant surprises when it is eventually discovered and exploited, it would certainly be her writings on aesthetics. The clarity and systematic rigor of her core writings on this subject - namely, the first three essays in The Romantic Manifesto - suggest very powerfully that she thought her position on these issues through as thoroughly and carefully as she did her views on any other subject. It has always seemed a shame to me that these writings are so seldom discussed in the secondary literature and that they have influenced, in comparison with the rest of her output, a relatively small group of people. The single virtue of these writings that I find most valuable today is also one that strikes me as the cardinal virtue of all of her work: this is a trait that I like to think of as her "radicalism," a term that I mean in the very literal sense of a tendency to approach an issue in terms of its root (radix) in the issues that underly it.

Perhaps the best way to indicate what I have in mind, both what this trait is and why it is a virtue, is to say a word or two about how her work in this area is related to a recent debate in literary theory. I have in mind the recent controversy between Judge Richard Posner and Professor Martha Nussbaum on the relation between morality and literature.(1) In it, Posner defends that view that aesthetic value, the value that is distinctive of a work of art, is not only distinct but separable from moral value, and that, where imaginative literature is concerned, moral properties of any sort are "almost sheer distraction."(2) Nussbaum insists, for her part, that it is a very important fact about literature that it provides us with a particular sort of moral enlightenment and character-improvement: the sort of "uplift" one gets from Charles Dickens, in which we learn to be compassionate toward the little fellow.

I would expect that many people find the general tendency of this discussion extremely unsatisfying. On the one hand, the deep sterility of Posner's conception of literature is difficult to escape. On the other, he does score some palpable hits against Nussbaum's view. Most devastating, perhaps, is his pointing out that the books that she picks out as clearly embodying her theory

-such works as Wright's Native Son and Forster's Maurice - are not the clearest examples of artistic greatness. To my way of thinking, perhaps the most telling case in point is one that Posner does not take advantage of, and that is Dickens' Hard Times. I find it shrilly and tediously didactic, and yet it seems to be precisely the sort of work she is must recommend to us. In fact, her presentation of her theory in Poetic Justice virtually takes the form of a commentary on Dickens' book.

A more deeply frustrating aspect of the debate is one about which Rand would very obviously have something to say. This is the fact that, in it, the nature of literature, and of art in general, are left unexamined. Posner is claiming that art, whatever it might be, does not need morality, and Nussbaum is claiming that art, whatever it is, is even better if one adds morality to it. The position she takes is thus actually wide open to a certain Posnerian counter

-charge. Most of the argument of her Poetic Justice consist of attempts to show how literature can have good moral effects on us. Such a case, even if it is made out, is perfectly consistent with the view that literature is an intrinsically amoral object which becomes good for us when it is turned toward moral purposes. Judge Posner can simply point out - as, in effect, he does - that these arguments do not show that the addition of morality to literature makes it better as literature. On the other hand, his own positive argument consists mainly in examples which tend to indicate that morally good works can be inferior literature while works expressing unsound moral and political theories can be great. These arguments are almost entirely intuitionist, in that they merely appeal to presumptive judgements of literary merit that we already have, and stop there. Neither side of this debate, however, presents an account of what art and literature are. In effect, the debate is carried on as if art were, as Rand would put it, an "irreducible primary," something that can explain other things but cannot itself be explained.

On this point Rand departs radically from the approaches of both Posner and Nussbaum. Just as, in her ethics, she begins by asking, not which values are right but why there are any values at all, so in her aesthetics she does not begin by asking what makes art better or not so good, but why there is any art at all.

With her distinctive drive toward the most radical, the most fundamental concepts, she poses an answer based on the nature of consciousness and the requirements of human survival. In order to plan their lives and give them unity, she maintains, human beings need to have a view of the nature of the world in which they live and of the value of broad categories of concerns that depend on human action.They need to have serviceable answers to questions like these:

Can man find happiness on earth, or is he doomed to frustration and despair? Does man have the power of choice, the power to choose his goals and to achieve them, the power to direct the course of his life

- or is he the helpless plaything of forces beyond his control, which determine his fate? Is man, by nature, to be valued as good or despised as evil? These are metaphysical questions, but the answers to them determine the kind of ethics men will accept and practice; the answers are the link between metaphysics and ethics.(3)

Rand calls the abstractions that answer such questions "metaphysical value judgments." They are so broad, and the entities subsumed under them are so various, that no human mind could adequately apply the principles involved directly to reality. An intermediary is needed, something that can bridge the crevasse that yawns between the abstract and the concrete. This intermediary, according to Rand, is art, though art conceived in a sense much wider than high art as we usually conceive of it. It is wide enough to include myth, legend, religious icons, and popular television shows. Art is a selective recreation of reality projecting fundamental abstractions into the only medium in which they can be readily grasped: that of perceptual concretes. Without such projections, the human mind would not be able to fully carry out its function as part of a living organism.

Thus conceived, the role that judgements of value play in literature, and in art in general, is much more profound than that put forward by Nussbaum in her exchanges with Posner. If Rand is right, then art will be particularly apt to be turned to the ends to which Nussbaum suggests it be turned, those of instructing us in previously unknown moral truths and molding our character. But the judgements which are essential to art, and make it a necessity of life itself, concern matters that are anterior to the comparatively petty issues with which Nussbaum is concerned. The function of art is not to express moral, political, or economic theories, but to embody ideas about the nature and possibility of human life, and its value.

If we assume that Rand is right about this, we can readily explain why works that vividly exemplify Nussbaum's theory can be artistically mediocre. She chooses the wrong sorts of issues for art to be about. Though art can deal with such issues and should, this is not the sort of function that makes it art, nor is it the sort of function that gives art value that it has by its very nature. More particularly, the sort of moral enlightenment Nussbaum recommends can easily degenerate into didacticism, and the egalitarian sympathy

-based ethic she believes in can produce sentimentality, and often does.

From Rand's point of view, Posner would be seen as making the very same mistake, that of misidentifying the way in which literature would be linked with morality if there were such a connection, though he takes the error and draws the opposite conclusion from it: that no connection exists. The Posner

-Nussbaum controversy illustrates several of the sorts of damage that follow from a failure to be sufficiently radical. These would include the trivialization of deep issues, the creation of false dichotomies in which entire alternative theories become invisible, and the creation of unsatisfying discussions, in which all participants seem to be both right and wrong - right in what they deny, but wrong in what they assert.

1. 1. Posner's original contribution, at least in print, was "Against Ethical Criticism," Philosophy and Literature, (April, 1997), vol. 21 no. 1, pp. 1-27. This was a criticism of Nussbaum's Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life (Boston: Beacon Press). This exchange of views recently took the form of a lively symposium, which featured not only Posner and Nussbaum but an extremely helpful presentation by Wayne Booth, at a May 9th, 1998 session of the Central Division Meetings of the American Philosophical Association.

2. 2. Ibid., p. 24.

3. The Romantic Manifesto (New York: Signet, 1971), p. 19.

Foundations Study Guide: Literary Theory

by Stephen Cox

, PhD.
Stephen Cox is professor of literature and director of the humanities program at the University of California, San Diego

Literary theory attempts to establish principles for interpreting and evaluating literary texts. Two of the most important issues in literary theory are authorial intention and interpretive objectivity. Is the author's intention responsible for the meanings of a text? Can readers arrive at an objective understanding of those meanings? Currently fashionable theory answers no to both questions. It suggests that meanings are created and recreated by influences beyond the control of either writers or readers. This view is diametrically opposed to the classical tradition in literary theory.

Aristotelian Theory

Aristotle originated the kind of literary theory that emphasizes the objective features of texts and the authorial intentions that those features reveal. He sought to explain and evaluate literature as a product of human design. His Poetics analyzes the objective features of Greek epics and dramas as means that are more or less appropriate to the full realization of various literary intentions.

In Aristotelian analysis, text-making intentions are understood as distinct from social influences and psychological motives. Aristotle appreciated the fact that Greek playwrights derived their themes and stories from the commonly held attitudes and commonly recounted myths of Greek society. He also knew that playwrights might be motivated largely by the desire to win prizes and other forms of public recognition. A psychologist or sociologist might perform an interesting analysis of these background influences on a play—without even beginning to explain and access the choices that its author made to produce the specific artistic effects that he intended. That, however, is the task to which Aristotle addresses himself as a literary theorist.

A classical example of Aristotle's analytical method is his treatment of the tragic protagonist. As Aristotle suggests, an author who intends to arouse the tragic emotions of "pity and fear" must choose his means of doing so, and the available means can be rationally estimated. The author can choose a central character who is perfectly bad, perfectly good, or somewhere in the middle. The downfall of a perfectly bad character would be comic, not tragic; the downfall of a perfectly good character would be merely hateful. The choice of an "intermediate" character is therefore the appropriate means of producing the tragic effect. The downfall of such a character can arouse pity for the defeat of good qualities and fear for the results of bad ones.

Aristotle's concern with the rational adaptation of literary means to literary ends includes concern with the unity of literary works. He assumes that an author's various purposes should be consistent with one another and that every element of a work—plot, character, style, and so forth— should contribute to those purposes, not frustrate or divert attention from them.

One interesting thing about Aristotle's literary theory is that it is not culture-bound. Although the Aristotelian standard of unity (for instance) is exemplified in certan works of the Greeks, it is not applicable merely to Greek or even Western Art. The Aztec lyric is governed by different intentions from those of Greek tragedy, but it can be rationally assessed in regard to its consistency and efficiency in fulfulling those intentions.

Aristotelianism after Aristotle

In the hands of later practitioners, especially those of the Renaissance, "Aristotelian" theory often degenerated into a system of rules that were far from universally applicable. But essentially Aristotelian assumptions were likely to come into play whenever critics of any school made a serious effort to assess works or authors according to their ability to accomplish their literary intentions.

For example, during the Enlightenment, the first great age of English criticism, leading critics informed themselves as best they could about the distinctive intentions of the authors they studied and analyzed the degree of skill that those authors showed in choosing literary means appropriate to their ends. Two of the most impressive works of that age, Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and Samuel Johnson's Preface to Shakespeare, are attempts by cultivated readers to recover the principles by which great authors practiced their craft.

During the Romantic period of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, literary theory often based itself on psychological or social speculation rather than objective analysis of artistic strategies. Nevertheless, the best of this Romantic theory is significant for its emphasis on the individual mind as creator of meaning and organic unity in literary works. Shelley's A Defence of Poetry depicts poets not simply as creatures of social circumstances but as "the unacknowledged legislators of the World." Coleridge's Biographia Literaria argues that real poetry displays a unity of "the general, with the concrete; the idea, with the image," and that this unity is imposed by the individual creative imagination.

In the twentieth century, Ayn Rand produced a unique combination of Romantic and Aristotelian approaches to literary theory. The essays collected in her Romantic Manifesto advocate a literature produced by rational selection, in the Aristotelian manner, and marked by imaginative unification or "integration," in the Romanitc manner. Rand's definition of art as "a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments" is widely applicable. It identifies the process of choice by which artists convert their contexts—"reality," as they understand it—into specific literary texts.

Current Controversies

It cannot be said that the late twentieth century is the golden age of either Romantic or Aristotelian theory. Currently fashionable theory is animated by the assumptions of Marx, Freud, and such contemporary continental thinkers as Michel Foucault. It is preoccupied with the ways in which political or psychosocial phenomena affect the processes of writing and reading. Its crucial assumption is that literature is "constructed" not by authors but by environmental influences, and that neither authors nor readers can "transcend" such influences.

One of the weaknesses of such theory is its inability to account for the ways in which very individual texts emerge from general contexts. Shakespeare's Macbeth is about (among other subjects) the political problems of a hierarchical society. The play's political context is a necessary condition for its existence—but not a sufficient condition. If context were sufficient to "construct" the salient features of the play, then the political environment of Elizabethan England would have produced thousands of Macbeths.

Readers as well as writers exist in political contexts, but if they could not transcend those contexts and arrive at a comprehension of works produced in environments very different from their own, then Macbeth would have run out of readers long ago. The same logic applies to theories of psychosocial construction. Many people have had miserable relationships with their fathers, but there is only one Brothers Karamazov, and the novel can be read and understood even by orphans.

The effects of current theories are not all bad. They have led critics who instinctively oppose them to refine their own ideas and account for what went wrong with those of other people. Some of the most valuable critiques of current theories, especially those descended from Marx and Freud, can be found in Frederick Crew's book Skeptical Engagements. Gerald Graff, in Literature Against Itself, provides a well-argued account of the mistaken assumptions that underlie postmodern theory. (Unfortunately, little can be learned from Graff's later work, which is an abject concession to the fallacies of academic political correctness.)

Politics by Other Means, by David Bromwich, is a many-sided defense of individualism in literary study. Bromwich offers cogent reasons for believing that even literary tradition is not simply a "social" artifact but is actively created by the choices of writers and readers. Papers by Stephen Cox criticize current academic tendencies on the basis of classical-liberal assumptions about the agency of the individual and the importance of rational procedures in analysis and theory.

The "Chicago School" of Criticism

The foundations of current theories had, in fact, been undermined long before the theories themselves appeared. The so-called Chicago Critics, who flourished in the 1950s, constructed defenses of authorial intention and critical objectivity that continue to repay close study. Chief among the Chicago Critics were R.S. Crane and Elder Olson, both powerful advocates of Aristotelian theory.

To a great degree, Crane and Olso defined themselves by opposition to the "New Criticism," a tendency that once dominated academic theory and that still exerts and influence on practical criticism. The New Critics justly opposed people's perennial inclination to reduce the meaning of literature to a paraphrasable "message." What was important to the New Critics was the richness of the literary text itself, not the circumstances in which was written or the moral or political causes in which it might be enlisted. But the New Critics often proceeded as if the text could be understood apart from any consideration of authorial intentions. They neglected the author's ability to impose structure by using objectively ascertainable textual markers to include certain meanings and exclude others. As a result, they sometimes discovered as many "meanings" in a text as their own ingenuity could possibly supply. "Meanings" that flatly contradicted either one another or any conceivable authorial intention were construed as "ironies" and "tensions" that "enriched" the overinterpreted text.

This defect of the New Criticism was exposed with devastating effect by Olson and Crane, who tried to revive interest in the author's power to unify and control the text. Crane developed some of the best evidence for this power in his studies of the great unifying device of plot. Crane and Olson also demonstrated the importance of understanding ways in which authors work with specific literary forms to accomplish their intentions. Olson's The Theory of Comedy, which illuminates a form that is notoriously resistant to analysis, is particularly worthy of notice.

The Chicago Critics' investigation of major literary forms and effects was pursued by Wayne Booth in two important books: The Rhetoric of Fiction, a learned analysis of the novel form, and A Rhetoric of Irony, a provocative attempt to explain the ways in which authors communicate certain meanings by pretending to communicate others. E.D. Hirsch, Jr., continued and advanced the Chicago Critics' work on authorial intentions. His Validity in Interpretation and The Aims of Interpretation are the most distinguished books on the subject. Hirsch attempts to vindicate a literary theory that gives full weight to authors' intended meanings. Do authors really know their own intentions? Doesn't the meaning of a text change over time? How can we be sure that the meaning we find in a text is the same one that the author intended? Hirsch's answers to these and other questions provide a persuasive defense of intentionalist theory as a basis of literary interpretation. Hirsch also provides sound arguments for regarding theory and interpretation as rational and objective processes.

Hirsch's discussion of the determinacy of authorial meanings is especially important to consider at a time when many prominent theorists assert that the meaning of a text necessarily varies with the race, class, and gender of its audience. Hirsch makes a useful distinction between meaning and significance: various readers may regard a text as significant to them in various ways, but they are responding, still, to the same text, a text with particular meanings, established by a particular author.

The Implications of Theory

The fashionable claim that the meaning of a text is "constructed" by the various contexts in which it is read should remind of us what is at stake in literary theory. Debates about theory are concerned with something more important than rival approaches to obscure poems. Ultimately, literary theory is about the human mind and its processes of communication. It is about our ability to understand what people say, write, and mean. Literary theory is a ferociously contested field because it has crucial implications for every other field that is based on the interpretation of words.

What we know about the world, especially the world of the past, comes largely form written documents. Our confidence in our ability to understand the world depends on our possession of sound working theories about the way in which texts communicate ideas across formidable barriers of time and cultural difference. Those "multiculturalists" who deny the validity of general and objective statements about the human condition are frequently inspired by literary theories that induce scepticism about people's ability to communicate their meanings across cultural and temporal barriers. Influential schools of legal thought that subject Constitutional rights to endless reinterpretation "in the light of current circumstances" depend on theories that posit the unknowability or irrelevance of the Founding Fathers' literary intentions.

To these intellectual and political problems, the solution is not less concern with literary theory but a better understanding of its principles and possibilities.


Many of the titles in this listing are available at Amazon.com. If you use this link, or the search box below, then IOS will earn a commission from Amazon.com on each book purchased.

Aristotle. Poetics.

Wayne C. Booth. The Rhetoric of Fiction. 2nd ed. Chicago. University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Wayne C. Booth. A Rhetoric of Irony. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974.

David Bromwich. Politics by Other Means: Higher Education and Group Thinking. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Biographia Literaria.

Stephen Cox. "Devices of Deconstruction." Critical Review, 3 (1989), 56-75.

Stephen Cox. "Literary Theory: Liberal and Otherwise." Humane Studies Review, 5 (Fall 1987), 1, 5-7, 12-14.

R.S. Crane. The Idea of the Humanities and Other Essays Critical and Historical. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967.

R.S. Crane, ed. Critics and Criticism: Ancient and Modern. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952.

Frederick Crews. Skeptical Engagements. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Gerald Graff. Literature Against Itself: Literary Ideas in Modern Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979.

E.D.Hirsch, Jr. The Aims of Interpretation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976.

E.D.Hirsch, Jr. Validity in Interpretation. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967.

Samuel Johnson. Preface to Shakespeare.

Elder Olson. On Value Judgments in the Arts and Other Essays. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976.

Elder Olson. The Theory of Comedy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968.

Alexander Pope. An Essay on Criticism.

Ayn Rand. The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature. Rev. ed. New York: New American Library, 1975. (Available from The Objectivism Store)

Percy Bysshe Shelley. A Defence of Poetry.


it is time to start paying attention to what these symbols mean. it explains a hidden history we are only just beginning to unravel. the people who put these things into place believe that they are influencing us on a subliminal level. that is why they are in plain sight. the only remedy is to become conscious, to learn their language, and to create our own symbols that empower *every* human being, rather than some platonic elite. for more, see jordan maxwell's lecture on "the occult world of commerce" and his "basic slideshow presentation" on the origins of the symbols on the dollar bill (refer to my blog post archive). this is not the stuff of conspiracy theory. it is a matter of historical reference, and all the source documents have been made fully available. again, watch with an open mind.

the film also raises questions as to the true nature of the influence of the bavarian illuminati/jacobins on the french and american revolutions. it seems that those responsible for instilling "fire in the minds of men" did indeed have noble intentions--freeing us from tyrannical theocracies and monarchs and establishing a "new secular order"--but their chief flaw--and the chief flaw of all violent uprisings, be th
ey Marxist or "democratic," which in the end are the same in achieving a "dictatorship of the proletariat" (read "u.s.a republic, the house that no one lives in" in my blog archive)--is the utilitarian/machiavellian belief that the ends justify the means, or the supreme good is the happiness of the many, even if it means the sacrifice of the few.

so, in other words, it is quite alright to cut the heads of priests and monarchists--or to kill millions of people while spreading "democracy" around the world--just as long as it is in the service of "liberty" or "social justice" or some such high ideal. i mean, neo-conservatives, who are carrying on that same revolutionary project, openly discuss their agenda as machiavellian.

but the real concern/question that comes up for me is this: was the founding of our republic done in the tradition of plato's republic, to restore some baconian sense of a lost atlantis (america, i believe, has something to do with "water" as in mer-chant or mer-maid, and as such has something to do with maritime/admiralty law, or the law of the high seas/commerce), that is to say with an "illuminated" or "enlightened" elite pulling the strings and levers of the body-politic to reform man and make him ready for a pure democracy (state socialism, in other words, where the state "molds" man in its image then "withers" away); or, as the traditional republicans and libertarians would have us believe, was the republic founded on the notion that government exists only to preserve the inherent "natural rights" of the people against both the tyranny of the majority (i.e. a "democracy") and the intrigues of the minority (i.e. an oligarchy) in the belief that humanity can only achieve its true excellence and potential when it is left to its own genius devices, when it can try every avenue and employ every artifice until it hits upon the "right way" with the law of averages and/or the passage of time. in other words, it is the perennial debate of the wisdom of the elite vs. the wisdom of the crowd.

it seems that there are two opposing conceptions of the "hidden destiny" of our republic. and the fight, strangely enough, seems to be reflected in the struggle between the predominantly right-wing Christian anti-masonic "patriot" movement and the occult traditions which founded the first "democratic" conventions in our country (the film discusses the role of the jacobins in this regard) and which eventually led to fellow master mason and socialist-democrat FDR's "new deal" (i.e. "new order") proposals and the resulting history of the expansion of federal power on all fronts (FDR seemed to keep masonic philosopher Manley P. Hall especially close to him during these times, who was responsible for not a few volumes on the "secret destiny of america").

is there something inherently Christian about the concept of "natural rights" endowed by the Creator? or, more precisely, perhaps it is the the Protestant belief that man needs no intermediary between himself and God and he can know the truth directly only of his own free-will and faith--perhaps it goes back to the example of Christ driving out the money-changers from the temple, his disdain for false idols and Roman/Pagan/Jewish "authorities"--as opposed to those esoteric traditions which seem to teach, as their starting point, that man only develops rights when he achieves a certain level of knowledge and is initiated into the proper degrees/circles by his "masters". or perhaps it goes back even further to the debate on fundamentals between the Platonists and the Aristotelians. it seems an important question to ask, and an even more important debate to resolve if we are to decide the fate of our republic.

there also seems to be two opposing, or perhaps complementary, strains of spiritual thought as well, often referred to as the "left hand" and "right hand" paths: those traditions which teach the perfection or strengthening of the individual will and ego (i.e. theosophy/masonry/the fourth way/etc.) and those traditions which emphasize enlightenment through the abolition or cessation of the individual will and ego (i.e. taoism/zen/vedanta/gnosticism) and the realization of the Universal/Transcendental Self or "dying to the flesh" and being "reborn" in the Holy Spirit. simply put, creating something out of nothing--molding the raw materials, as it were--or the unearthing of the precious stone that has always been there just beneath the charcoal surface.

it seems only inevitable that two very different approaches to political organization should come out of these two very different approaches to reforming the human spirit: one in which implosive pressure is applied from the top-down or the outside-in, and one in which explosive pressure is released from the bottom-up or the inside-out. to put fetters on, or to take them off--THAT is the question.

which side are *you* on?


if the barry goldwater conservatives/libertarians could take the republican party back from the eastern estbalishment cronies (like rockefeller), it gives us hope that we can take that same party back from the neo-conservatives with ron paul.

hope for america, indeed.

e premte, 6 korrik 2007

THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF 777 (live earth, etc.)

this is fascinating stuff, and a warning to all of us. don't underestimate the influence of astro-theology/numerology in the political intrigues and machinations of the world (again, watch zeitgeist and study jordan maxwell). the fraternal orders behind the international banking dynasties (read professor carroll quigley's "tragedy and hope") are obsessed with such things, whether they be rooted in reality or not.

remember, in many ancient sacred traditions, earth worship requires human sacrifice. it is a kind of atonement, returning earth to earth. we'll see what happens tomorrow on "live earth" day, when all the world gets together to figure out the best way of representing co2 (a natural byproduct of organic living things) as a poison instead of getting rid of the real toxic pollutants in the atmosphere. here is a partial list of all the other chemicals that come out your typical car exhaust pipe, just for comparison (thanks amy!):

* Carbon Monoxide
* Nitrogen dioxide
* Sulphur dioxide
* Suspended particles including PM-10, particles less than 10 microns in size.
* Benzene
* Formaldehyde
* Polycyclic hydrocarbons




i am afraid this film is going to have a DISASTROUS effect on the 2008 elections. people will forget about the incremental curtailing of our civil liberties, the onward march of centralized federal power and the social engineers in washington who would like every aspect of our lives to be the property of some "department" or other--just as long as they get more government cradling.

i'm sorry, it is NOT the american way to think more about "we" than "me." this is the soviet way. this is the bush way, telling us we must "sacrifice ourselves" to protect our freedoms. it people want to pay into a universal health care pool because they have concerns about the lack of coverage for poor americans, that is fine. it is a VOLUNTARY transaction, just like becoming a member of a union. but to coerce charity out of people through pay-roll deductions and progressive taxation is yet another example of the kind of government use of brute force through redistribution of private income that advocates of liberty are so much against.

further, how will the bureaucrats in washington know, in their divine wisdom, which drugs tax payer money should subsidize? do we have ANY say in the matter? will any of our money go to alternative, holistic health care programs? will they rely on the demand side (i.e. sick people), or the supply side (i.e. big pharma)? where will competition come from--if the national health care system isn't doing its job properly (i.e. the government run veteran hospitals)?

i am afraid, if we allow government to run our health care system (or, more than it does already, as ron paul argues in the article below that the government already *does* interfere in much of our health care system and that is why costs are so high), you will see something very much like the scenario spelled out in the article on "food totalitarianism" below.

giving the government a monopoly on the definition of health parameters may lead to disasters like our current mishandling of the HIV=AIDS hypothesis, which has been an undeniable boon for the medical-industrial complex (i.e. toxic chemotherapy drugs like AZT) and has led us further and further astray from a real cure because the politics have ruled out alternative "multi-factor" and behaviorial models (see my blog post on "aids dissidents"). not only that, considering how our definition of health has already been hijacked by big pharma and the suicidal ideologies of behaviorism and materialism that only see health as a kind of register of physical variables, i think the stage will be set for a massive social engineering program that will further the spiritual and psychological impoverishment of the american people and compel them to rely solely on drugs, etc. to solve all their problems. just look at our government-run schools: academic scores continue to decline since the federal government took over while campuses all over the u.s. have become nothing more than mass social engineering camps under the auspices of the department of education (see my blog post on "public schools dumbing us down").

it will be yet another step on the way to achieving that vegged out population that is the dream of totalitarians everywhere.

is there another path? yes, i believe so. i will let RON PAUL, who is himself a physician, and other libertarian theorists propose an alternative to the socialists' beloved national health care system in one of the many critical articles, lectures and videos in this post.

lastly, i would like to point out that MICHAEL MOORE is your typical "big government will take care of all our problems if only we had the best and brightest group of regulators in the best federal departments" socialist.

moore has already done the 9-11 truth movement a great disservice with his parody of the bush administration in his previous film, making it seem like bush and co. were simply too stupid to prevent the attacks (with the exception of the one hard-hitting section about the Bin Laden family being flown out of the country), when we now know full well that they got plenty of warning in advance and appeared to have total criminal negligence on their part (or even actively participated in the attacks).

michael moore is also responsible for fanning the anti-gun hysteria that may very well lead to the further disarming of the populace and the evisceration of the second amendment, leaving us defenseless not only against a possible declaration of martial law, but also against attacks on public property like the school shootings moore loves to exploit (if the students and other faculty had been armed, they would not have been shot down en masse because they were waiting for "big government" to save them).

so, in short, this film is NOT bi-partisan. don't give in to the rhetoric. state socialism is NOT the american way--neither is corporatist exploitation on behalf of the insurance companies, who are in bed with the legislators in washington. this is another example of how big government almost always gives in to the temptation to work in the interests of corporatism. we need to exact as much of a divide between economy and state as we have with church and state. free market enterprise and competition--the american way--are the exact opposite of corporatism and government regulation--the soviet way.

read on and you will see that michael moore is not only wrong about the details (i.e. his naive portrayals of the health care systems in Canada and Cuba) but also in the fundamental principles he espouses to treat the problem (i.e. just socialize it).

Do No Harm
by David Denby July 2, 2007

Michael Moore has teased and bullied his way to some brilliant highs in his career as a political entertainer, but he scrapes bottom in his new documentary, “Sicko.” The movie is an attack on the American health-care system, and it starts out strongly, with Moore interviewing families who have been betrayed or neglected by H.M.O.s and insurance companies. A man whose life might have been saved by a bone-marrow transplant died when he was refused “experimental” treatment. A feverish baby died when her mother, rather than taking her to a hospital run by her insurer, Kaiser Permanente, rushed her to the nearest emergency room, where they were turned away. Moore then zeroes in on the situation of three volunteer Ground Zero rescue workers, who have trouble breathing or who suffer from stress and can’t get assistance from the federal government. More baffled than angry, they soberly report on their conditions, and Moore comments that even national heroes aren’t given help by the nation. A bit later in the film, however, he presents congressional testimony suggesting that people the Administration has deemed to be national enemies—the detainees at Guantánamo Bay—are receiving good health care free. So Moore loads the Ground Zero volunteers, plus some other people who have serious health problems, into three boats in the Miami harbor. “Which way to Guantánamo Bay?” he calls out to a Coast Guard vessel, and the little flotilla sets off for Cuba. When the boats arrive outside the base, they are, of course, stonily denied entrance.

An absurdist of outrage, Moore has attacked corporations that destroy cities by closing down local plants (“Roger & Me”); a gun-happy culture that makes arms easily available (“Bowling for Columbine”); an Administration that begins a war without sufficient cause (“Fahrenheit 9/11”). He has stalked corporate officials and congressmen, planted his bulk before them and asked mock-naïve questions, and his provocations, at their best, have smoked out hypocrites and liars. But this confrontation is different. Hauling off seriously ill people to a military base where they won’t receive treatment is a dumb prank. And the insensitivity isn’t much relieved by the piece of whimsy that comes next: Moore and the rescue workers (the other sick voyagers having mysteriously disappeared) wander onto the streets of Havana and ask some guys playing dominoes if there’s a doctor nearby. They go to a pharmacy and then to a hospital, where the Americans are admitted and treated. Few people in Moore’s audience are likely to be displeased that they receive help from a Communist system. But what is the point of Moore’s fiction of a desperate, wandering quest for medicine on the streets, as if he hadn’t known in advance that Cuba has free health care? Why not tell us what really happened on the trip—for instance, what part Cuban officials played in receiving the American patients?

After the early tales of the system’s failure, “Sicko” becomes feeble, even inane. A recent poll shows that a majority of Americans not only favor a national health service but are willing to pay higher taxes for it. In that case, wouldn’t it have made sense for Moore to find out what features of universal care in other countries could be adapted to America? Instead of sorting through any of this, Moore and his crew go from place to place—to Canada, England, and France, as well as Cuba—and, at every stop, he pulls the same silly stunt of pretending to be astonished that health care is free. How much do people pay here in France? Nothing? You’ve got to be kidding. But isn’t everyone taxed to death to pay for health care? Well, here’s a nice, two-income French couple who have a great apartment and collect sand from the deserts of the world. Not only haven’t they been impoverished by taxation; they travel. And so on.

* from the issue
* cartoon bank
* e-mail this

In each country, Moore interviews doctors who speak proudly of how well their country’s system works. But the candor of these doctors is no more impressive than that of the corporate spokesmen Moore has confronted in the past. No one mentions the delays or the instances of less than first-rate care. We find out that a doctor in Great Britain makes a good income (about two hundred thousand dollars), but not how medical care in, say, Toronto might differ from that in a distant rural area, or how shortages may have affected the quality of Cuban health care. Moore winds up treating the audience the same way that, he says, powerful people treat the weak in America—as dopes easily satisfied with fairy tales and bland reassurances. And since he doesn’t interview any of the countless Americans who have been mulling over ways to reform our system, we’re supposed to come away from “Sicko” believing that sane thinking on these issues is unknown here. In the actual political world, the major Democratic Presidential candidates have already offered, or will soon offer, plans for reform. A shift to the left, or, at least, to the center, has overtaken Michael Moore, yielding an irony more striking than any he turns up: the changes in political consciousness that Moore himself has helped produce have rendered his latest film almost superfluous.


Description of Cuban health-care system

Kyle Smith, a New York Post film critic, wrote that Moore asserts he asked Cuban officials to give his group exactly the same care that a Cuban would receive, "and that’s exactly what they got". Smith writes that Moore treats the Cuban health-care system with kid gloves, although he's capable of taking a hard look at American officials: "You can’t film anywhere in Castro’s Alcatraz without government say-so, meaning the whole scene was as phony as what happens when [New York Times restaurant critic] Frank Bruni walks into a four-star restaurant, [...] Moore solemnly reports Cuba’s official health statistics, which are of course a fiction [...] Moore's motto is to trust no authority figure from cringing corporate spokesman on up to Washington windbags. Except dictators. Dictators, he’ll take your word for it."[4]

Rich Lowry, editor of National Review wrote in his syndicated column that Moore whitewashes the health-care system in Cuba, describing it as better than that in the United States[5], although "According to a 2004 story in the Canadian National Post: 'Hospitals are falling apart, surgeons lack basic supplies and must reuse latex gloves. Patients must buy their sutures on the black market and provide bed sheets and food for extended hospital stays.'"[6]

The World Health Organisation which Moore states ranked the United States' health care system at 37th, ranked Cuba's health care system at 39th.[7]

In an interview with Time Magazine, Moore states "I’m not trumpeting Castro or his regime. I just want to say to fellow Americans, "C’mon, we’re the United States! If they can [provide care for all] we can do it."[8] Fidel Castro is also referred to as a "dictator" in the film.

A Boston Globe reporter wrote that in Moore's descriptions of other nations' health care systems, "Never is heard a discouraging word about any of them. Typical unbalanced Moore. That he may be promoting a Potemkin Village in Havana for Fidel Castro bothers Moore not a whit."[9]

Moore told the Globe reporter, "If we went to Columbia Presbyterian, they're going to roll out the best doctors, take us to the best floor. And if we went to Pfizer, they're going to show their best face, too. What's the difference between what Pfizer does and what Castro does? We get P.R.'d all the time."[9]

[edit] Description of other nations' health-care systems

Smith criticizes Moore for presenting health care systems in Canada, Britain and France with the same uncritical attitude the filmmaker took with Cuba, despite the fact that there are significant criticisms of those systems within their own countries.[4] According to Scott, Moore's descriptions of health care in other nations have "a bit of theatrical faux-naïveté", and "the utopian picture of France in Sicko may be overstated", but Scott dismisses the problem by saying a filmmaker praised in Cannes would naturally be pro-French.[10]

Some Canadian critics did not like Michael Moore's glamorizing the Canadian health care system.[11] Peter Howell, in The Toronto Star, wrote: "Sicko makes it seem as if Canada's socialized medicine is flawless and that Canadians are satisfied with the status quo." Howell wrote that he and other Canadian journalists criticized Moore for inaccurately contending that Canadians only had to wait for minutes for health care, rather than much longer waiting periods. [12]

Michael C. Moynihan, an editor at the libertarian Reason magazine, writes that while Moore presents other nations' health-care systems as close to perfect, they and other systems have many of the same problems as in the United States. He cites anecdotal examples that he says rival and parallel the examples presented by Moore: a Swedish parent whose government-run health-care system refused to put cochlear implants in both ears of her child, a German man[13] who couldn't get his national health-care system to approve surgery for a brain tumor — and if he hadn't paid for it himself instead of continuing to wait, his doctor says the man would have died. London's Hammersmith Hospital, featured in the movie, was pressured by health officials to limit the number of patients treated in order to cut costs, a problem that isn't anomalous in Britain, where the government has promised to cut down waiting periods — down to 18 weeks.[14] "Such examples suggest that Moore's depiction of European-style medicine as an easy panacea for America's problems is rather more complicated than presented. Massive queues and cash shortages have plagued all of the systems profiled—and celebrated—in Sicko."[15]

Jonathan Cohn, writing in The New Republic, agrees that Moore wrongly downplays the waiting lines that the British and Canadian systems "really do have", but he points out that the French not only don't have waiting lines, they have an insurance system that "allows free choice of doctor and offers highly advanced medical care to those who need it." Although the French pay a lot for their health-care system (paying more in taxes and less in private insurance than Americans do, overall), their national health-care costs are still ultimately less than those of the United States.[16]

Moore said the wait for service in Canada is, on average, a few weeks. "I'd be willing to wait a couple of weeks," he said during a stop in Colorado on a publicity tour for the movie. "Statistics Canada, which is the governmental statistics office in Ottawa will tell you the following: there is a four-week wait in Canada to see specialist. There's a three-week wait for diagnostic testing. And there's a four-week wait for elective surgery."[17]. [18]






******Lowering the Cost of Health Care

by Ron Paul


As a medical doctor, I’ve seen first-hand how bureaucratic red tape interferes with the doctor-patient relationship and drives costs higher. The current system of third-party payers takes decision-making away from doctors, leaving patients feeling rushed and worsening the quality of care. Yet health insurance premiums and drug costs keep rising. Clearly a new approach is needed. Congress needs to craft innovative legislation that makes health care more affordable without raising taxes or increasing the deficit. It also needs to repeal bad laws that keep health care costs higher than necessary.

We should remember that HMOs did not arise because of free-market demand, but rather because of government mandates. The HMO Act of 1973 requires all but the smallest employers to offer their employees HMO coverage, and the tax code allows businesses – but not individuals – to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums. The result is the illogical coupling of employment and health insurance, which often leaves the unemployed without needed catastrophic coverage.

While many in Congress are happy to criticize HMOs today, the public never hears how the present system was imposed upon the American people by federal law. As usual, government intervention in the private market failed to deliver the promised benefits and caused unintended consequences, but Congress never blames itself for the problems created by bad laws. Instead, we are told more government – in the form of “universal coverage” – is the answer. But government already is involved in roughly two-thirds of all health care spending, through Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs.

For decades, the U.S. healthcare system was the envy of the entire world. Not coincidentally, there was far less government involvement in medicine during this time. America had the finest doctors and hospitals, patients enjoyed high-quality, affordable medical care, and thousands of private charities provided health services for the poor. Doctors focused on treating patients, without the red tape and threat of lawsuits that plague the profession today. Most Americans paid cash for basic services, and had insurance only for major illnesses and accidents. This meant both doctors and patients had an incentive to keep costs down, as the patient was directly responsible for payment, rather than an HMO or government program.

The lesson is clear: when government and other third parties get involved, health care costs spiral. The answer is not a system of outright socialized medicine, but rather a system that encourages everyone – doctors, hospitals, patients, and drug companies – to keep costs down. As long as “somebody else” is paying the bill, the bill will be too high.

The following are bills Congress should pass to reduce health care costs and leave more money in the pockets of families:

HR 3075 provides truly comprehensive health care reform by allowing families to claim a tax credit for the rising cost of health insurance premiums. With many families now spending close to $1000 or even more for their monthly premiums, they need real tax relief – including a dollar-for-dollar credit for every cent they spend on health care premiums – to make medical care more affordable.

HR 3076 is specifically designed to address the medical malpractice crisis that threatens to drive thousands of American doctors – especially obstetricians – out of business. The bill provides a dollar-for-dollar tax credit that permits consumers to purchase "negative outcomes" insurance prior to undergoing surgery or other serious medical treatments. Negative outcomes insurance is a novel approach that guarantees those harmed receive fair compensation, while reducing the burden of costly malpractice litigation on the health care system. Patients receive this insurance payout without having to endure lengthy lawsuits, and without having to give away a large portion of their award to a trial lawyer. This also drastically reduces the costs imposed on physicians and hospitals by malpractice litigation. Under HR 3076, individuals can purchase negative outcomes insurance at essentially no cost.

HR 3077 makes it more affordable for parents to provide health care for their children. It creates a $500 per child tax credit for medical expenses and prescription drugs that are not reimbursed by insurance. It also creates a $3,000 tax credit for dependent children with terminal illnesses, cancer, or disabilities. Parents who are struggling to pay for their children's medical care, especially when those children have serious health problems or special needs, need every extra dollar.

HR 3078 is commonsense, compassionate legislation for those suffering from cancer or other terminal illnesses. The sad reality is that many patients battling serious illnesses will never collect Social Security benefits – yet they continue to pay into the Social Security system. When facing a medical crisis, those patients need every extra dollar to pay for medical care, travel, and family matters. HR 3078 waives the employee portion of Social Security payroll taxes (or self-employment taxes) for individuals with documented serious illnesses or cancer. It also suspends Social Security taxes for primary caregivers with a sick spouse or child. There is no justification or excuse for collecting Social Security taxes from sick individuals who literally are fighting for their lives.

The Mises Institute monthly

Volume 23, Number 11
November 2003

Socialized Medicine in America
Timothy D. Terrell

Thanks to the untiring efforts of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Americans have been faced with the greatest expansion of the government into medical care since the 1960s. When these moves are complete, the free market in American medicine will be practically gone. Interventionism will be in complete possession of the field of battle, and the task of the government will be to mop up the remaining opposition.

There are three major pieces of legislation that indicate that socialized medicine has essentially arrived in the United States. A high profile, imminent concern is the Medicare reform now under consideration. The competing Medicare prescription drug bills—a House version and a Senate version—both accept the premise that the government should control medical treatment. Either bill would satisfy the Clinton administration's Medicare administrator Nancy-Ann DeParle, who exulted that in signing the bill, Bush would "preside over the biggest expansion of government health benefits since the Great Society."

But there are other ways in which government is invading medical care. Earlier this year, the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act (HIPPA) took effect. This horribly misnamed bill actually destroys patient privacy by allowing government bureaucrats, insurance companies, and others to gain access to private medical records without the patient's consent. Potentially even more dangerous is the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MSEHPA), which would grant state governors immense powers in the event of a public health "emergency," a condition that exists when so determined by the governor, of course. We'll take each of these in turn.

Medicare Reform

The Medicare reform would continue a long-term trend in American medical care—the intrusion of federal subsidies and regulation into every aspect of medical care. Over a third of all medical care is administered under federal Medicare and Medicaid programs. The bureaucracy that follows this intervention has added immense complexity and expense to the practice of medicine. There are elaborate diagnostic and treatment codes that require doctors to follow bureaucratic rules for medical care. Where Medicare or Medicaid are involved, a free market does not exist.

The government regulates prices, and it is illegal for the doctor to ask for or receive anything different, even if the patient agrees. Anything less than absolute adherence to the rules, indeed even a paperwork error, can be regarded as a felony charge of defrauding the government. A close enough look at almost any physician's practice would probably turn up some offense—which means that anyone the government wants to prosecute, it can prosecute. In effect, regulatory terrorism is being imposed upon the medical profession.

Medicare is a significant contributor to increased medical costs, by creating a large third party payer. In 1960, the government covered 21.4 percent of personal medical care expenditures. Americans covered 55.2 percent out-of-pocket. Most of the rest came from private medical insurance. In 2000, the government covered 43.3 percent of personal medical expenditures, through Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, and other government programs. Out-of-pocket spending accounted for only 17.2 percent of the total.

Over the same 40-year period, total personal medical spending increased by more than ten times, from an inflation-adjusted $111 billion in 1960 to $1130 billion in 2000. Some of this may be attributable to changing priorities, as Americans demanded relatively more medical care as other needs were satisfied in a growing economy. A large part, however, may be due to the incentives that appear whenever a third party is paying for medical care. In 1960, when Americans paid for the majority of their medical care out-of-pocket, they were more likely to watch for unnecessary expenditures. Today, with 83 percent of medical care being provided by a third party, we are naturally less vigilant.

In several ways, the government is responsible for the increase in third-party payment from private insurers as well. Government medical licensing created artificial shortages of medical practitioners, driving costs up so that illness or injury was more likely to produce financial catastrophe without insurance. Subsequently, as Gene Callahan noted in his textbook Economics for Real People, wage controls led employers to offer medical insurance instead of cash payments in their compensation packages. Increasing tax rates have had the same effect.

Employer-paid health insurance premiums are pre-tax while out-of-pocket expenditures are not. Finally, medical costs are bound to spiral upward when medical insurers are forced by law to create cross-subsidies from the healthy to the sick. This merely exacerbates the third-party payer problem, as the relatively healthy are given incentives to make greater use of medical services. (This last sort of attack on the market has come from both sides of the political aisle, as Jeffrey Herbener pointed out in a 1996 article).


On April 14 of this year, the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act's so-called "privacy" regulations took effect. This has to be one of the most egregiously misnamed laws to be passed in the last century (right up there with the "Banking Secrecy Act"). HIPPA created a "standard unique health care identifier" for all Americans, which destroys privacy rather than protecting it.

As Rep. Ron Paul has pointed out, this identifier "would allow federal bureaucrats to track every citizen's medical history from cradle to grave." Law enforcement officials and other government agents could examine these records without a search warrant, and the government, rather than the patient, can determine who else should have access. As Ron Paul contended, "it is possible that every medical professional, hospital, and Health Maintenance Organization in the country would be able to access an individual citizen's record simply by entering the patient's identifier into a health care database."


The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act[1] that circulated about state legislatures in the past year clearly indicates how the government could use a "public health emergency" to grab draconian powers. The legislation, which originated at the Centers for Disease Control, would give state governors broad powers to declare a health emergency, whereupon vast authority would be granted to state officials. The governor, public health officials, and other government agents could then detain people who had committed no criminal act, seize or destroy personal property, impose price controls, require individuals to receive a medical examination and/or be vaccinated (regardless of whether the person has conditions that could make vaccination harmful or even deadly), and assume other powers.

Civilian doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medically trained people could be conscripted into government service and required to conduct examinations or administer vaccinations. If they refuse, they could be stripped of their license. The military may even be brought in to back up the public health officials.

Many states rejected MSEHPA, but several have accepted significant parts of the legislation. Republican-controlled Florida is one of the worst—in that state the public health department may declare a health emergency with or without the governor's cooperation. Law enforcement would then be at the public health officials' disposal.

MSEHPA is a classic example of the government using emergencies to expand their power. In an atmosphere of general fear and panic, people are less likely to protest. Robert Higgs has pointed out that, in national emergencies, the Constitution is likely to be read very differently, and the freedoms it protects are likely to be significantly curtailed. The "Crisis Constitution," as he puts it, takes precedence as a fearful population grants immense powers to all branches of government. "The great danger," Higgs writes, "is that in an age of permanent emergency—the age we live in, the age we are likely to go on living in—the Crisis Constitution will simply swallow up the Normal Constitution, depriving us at all times of the very rights the original Constitution was created to protect at all times."

With the impending Medicare reform and recently-enacted legislation like HIPPA and MSEHPA, together with the vast structure of subsidies and regulation that has been around for decades, there is now little point in distinguishing between our current system and "socialized medicine." Aspects of a free market are still present, but they are so overwhelmed by government intervention as to be hopelessly crippled. We are not where Great Britain and Canada are now, with limited medical innovation and waiting lists of several years for life-saving, essential surgery. But the distinctions are now more a matter of degree than of principle. If Americans accept the basic idea that the government should control and provide medical care, it will only be a matter of time.

Timothy Terrell is assistant professor of economics at Wofford College and an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He can be contacted at terrelltd@wofford.edu. See also Gene Callahan, Economics for Real People (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute), 2002, pp. 180-182; Jeffrey Herbener, "Socialized Medicine, Take Two," The Free Market, vol. 14, no. 7 (July 1996);


In the mid-1990s the Clinton administration proposed a major overhaul of the U.S. health care system. Libertarian scholar Murray N. Rothbard wrote this analysis:

The standard media cliche about the Clinton health plan is that God, or the Devil, depending on your point of view, “is in the details.” There is surprising agreement among both the supporters and all too many of the critics of the Clinton health “reform.” The supporters say that the general principles of the plan are wonderful, but that there are a few problems in the details: e.g., how much will it cost, how exactly will it be financed, will small business get a sufficient subsidy to offset its higher costs, and on into the night.

The alleged critics of the Clinton Plan also hasten to assure us that they too accept the general principles, but that there are lots of problems in the details. Often the critics will present their own alternative plans, only slightly less complex than the Clinton scheme, accompanied by assertions that their plans are less coercive, less costly, and less socialistic than the Clinton effort. And since health care constitutes about one-seventh of the American output, there are enough details and variants to keep a host of policy wonks going for the rest of the their lives.

But the details of the Clintonian plan, however diabolic, are merely petty demons compared to the general principles, where Lucifer really lurks. By accepting the principles, and fighting over the details, the Loyal Opposition only succeeds in giving away the store, and doing so before the debate over the details can even get under way. Lost in an eye-glazing thicket of minutiae, the conservative critics of Clintonian reform, by being “responsible” and working within the paradigm set by The Enemy, are performing a vital service for the Clintonians in snuffing out any clear-cut opposition to Clinton’s Great Leap Forward into health collectivism.

Let us examine some of the Mephistophelean general principles in the Clintonian reform, seconded by the conservative critics.


Guaranteed universal access. There has been a lot of talk recently about “universal access” to this or that good or service. Many “libertarian” or “free-market” proponents of education “reform,” for example, advocate tax-supported voucher schemes to provide “access” to private schooling. But there is one simple entity, in any sort of free society, that provides “universal access” to every conceivable good or service, and not just to health or education or food. That entity is not a voucher or a Clintonian ID card; it’s called a “dollar.” Dollars not only provide universal access to all goods and services, they provide it to each dollar-holder for each product only to the extent that the dollar-holder desires. Every other artificial accessor, be it voucher or health card or food stamp, is despotic and coercive, mulcts the taxpayer, is inefficient and egalitarian.

Coercive. “Guaranteed universal access” can only be provided by the robbery of taxation, and the essence of this extortion is not changed by calling these taxes “fees,” “premiums,” or “contributions.” A tax by any other named smells as rotten, and has similar consequences, even if only “employers” are forced to pay the higher “premiums.”

Furthermore, for anyone to be “guaranteed” access to anything, he has to be forced to participate, both in receiving its “benefits” and in paying for them. Hence, “guaranteed universal access” means coercing not only taxpayers, but everyone as participants and contributors. All the weeping and wailing about the 37 million “uninsured” glosses over the fact that most of these uninsured have a made a rational decision that they don’t want to be “insured,” that they are willing to take the chance of paying market prices should health care become necessary. But they will not be permitted to remain free of the “benefits” of insurance; their participation will become compulsory. We will all become health draftees.

Egalitarian. Universal means egalitarian. For the dread egalitarian theme of “fairness” enters immediately into the equation. Once government becomes the boss of all health, under the Clinton plan or the Loyal Opposition, then it seems “unfair” for the rich to enjoy better medical care than the lowest bum. This “fairness” ploy is considered self-evident and never subject to criticism. Why is “the two-tier” health system (actually it has been multi-tier) any more “unfair” than the multi-tier system for clothing or food or transportation? So far at least, most people don’t consider it unfair that some people can afford to dine at The Four Seasons and vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, whereas others have to rest content with McDonald’s and staying home. Why is medical care any different?

And yet, one of the major thrusts of the Clinton Plan is to reduce us all to “one-tier,” egalitarian health care status.

Collectivist. To insure equality for one and all, medical care will be collectivist, under close supervision of the federal Health Care Board, with health provision and insurance dragooned by government into regional collectives and alliances. The private practice of medicine will be essentially driven out, so that these collectives and HMOs will be the only option for the consumer. Even though the Clintonians try to assure Americans that they can still “choose their own doctor,” in practice this will be increasingly impossible.

Price Controls. Since it is fairly well known that price controls have never worked, that they have always been a disaster, the Clinton Administration always keen on semantic trickery, have stoutly denied that any price controls are contemplated. But the network of severe price controls will be all too evident and painful, even if they wear the mask of “premium caps,” “cost caps,” or “spending control.” They will have to be there, for it is the promise of “cost control” that permits the Clintonians to make the outrageous claim that taxes will hardly go up at all. (Except, of course, on employers.) Tight spending control will be enforced by the government, not merely on its own, but particularly on private spending.

One of the most chilling aspects of the Clinton plan is that any attempt by us consumers to get around these price controls, e.g. to pay higher than controlled prices to doctors in private practice, will be criminalized. Thus, the Clinton Plan states that “A provider may not charge or collect from the patient a fee in excess of the fee schedule adopted by an alliance,” and criminal penalties will be imposed for “payment of bribes or gratuities” (i.e. “black market prices”) to “influence the delivery of health service.”

In arguing for their plan, by the way, the Clintonians have added insult to injury by employing absurd nonsense in the form of argument. Their main argument for the plan is that health care is “too costly,” and that thesis rests on the fact that health care spending, over recent years, has risen considerably as a percentage of the GDP. But a spending rise is scarcely the same as a cost increase; if it were, then I could easily argue that, since the percentage of GDP spent on computers has risen wildly in the past ten years, that “computer costs” are therefore excessive, and severe price controls, caps, and spending controls must be imposed promptly on consumer and business purchases of computers.

Medical Rationing. Severe price and spending controls means, of course, that medical care will have to be strictly rationed, especially since these controls and caps come at the same time that universal and equal care is being “guaranteed.” Socialists, indeed, always love rationing, since it gives the bureaucrats power over the people and makes for coercive egalitarianism.

And so this means that the government, and its medical bureaucrats and underlings, will decide who gets what service. Medical totalitarianism, if not the rest of us, will be alive and well in America.

The Annoying Consumer. We have to remember a crucial point about government as against business operations on the market. Businesses are always eager for consumers to buy their product or service. On the free market, the consumer is king or queen and the “providers” are always trying to make profits and gain customers by serving them well. But when government operates a service, the consumer is transmuted into a pain-in-the-neck, a “wasteful” user-up of scarce social resources. Whereas the free market is a peaceful cooperative place where everyone benefits and no one loses, when government supplies the product or service, every consumer is treated as using a resource only at the expense of his fellow-men. The “public service” arena, and not the free market, is the dog-eat-dog jungle.

So there we have the Clintonian health future: government as totalitarian rationer of health care, grudgingly doling out care on the lowest possible level equally to all, and treating each “client” as a wasteful pest. And if, God forbid, you have a serious health problem, or are elderly, or your treatment requires more scarce resources than the Health Care Board deems proper, well then Big Brother or Big Sister Rationer in Washington will decided, in the best interests of “society,” of course, to give you the Kevorkian treatment.

The Great Leap Forward. There are many other ludicrous though almost universally accepted aspects of the Clinton Plan, from the gross perversion of the concept of “insurance” to the imbecilic view that an enormous expansion of government control will somehow eliminate the need for filling out health forms. But suffice it to stress the most vital point: the plan consists of one more Great Leap Forward into collectivism.

The point was put very well, albeit admiringly, by David Lauter in the Los Angeles Times (September 23). Every once in a while, said Lauter, “the government collectively braces itself, takes a deep breath and leaps into a largely unknown future.” The first American leap was the New Deal in the 1930s, leaping into Social Security and extensive federal regulation of the economy. The second leap was the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. And now, writes Lauter, “another new President has proposed a sweeping plan” and we have been hearing again “the noises of a political system warming up once again for the big jump.”

The only important point Mr. Lauter omits is leaping into what? Wittingly or unwittingly, his “leap” metaphor rings true, for it recalls the Great Leap Forward of Mao’s worst surge into extreme Communism.

The Clinton health plan is not “reform” and it doesn’t meet a “crisis.” Cut through the fake semantics, and what we have is another Great Leap Forward into socialism. While Russia and the former Communist states are struggling to get out of socialism and the disaster of their “guaranteed universal health care” (check their vital statistics), Clinton and his bizarre Brain Trust of aging leftist grad students are proposing to wreck our economy, our freedom, and what has been, for all of the ills imposed by previous government intervention, the best medical system on earth.

That is why the Clinton health plan must be fought against root and branch, why Satan is in the general principles, and why the Ludwig von Mises Institute, instead of offering its own 500-page health plan, sticks to its principled “four-step” plan laid out by Mises Institute Senior Fellow Hans-Hermann Hoppe (The Free Market April 1993) of dismantling existing government intervention into health.

The Mises Institute monthly

April 1993
Volume 11, Number 4

A Four-Step Health-Care Solution
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

It's true that the U.S. health care system is a mess, but this demonstrates not market but government failure. To cure the problem requires not different or more government regulations and bureaucracies, as self-serving politicians want us to believe, but the elimination of all existing government controls.

It's time to get serious about health care reform. Tax credits, vouchers, and privatization will go a long way toward decentralizing the system and removmg unnecessary burdens from business. But four additional steps must also be taken:

1. Eliminate all licensing requirements for medical schools, hospitals, pharmacies, and medical doctors and other health care personnel. Their supply would almost instantly increase, prices would fall, and a greater variety of health care services would appear on the market.

Competing voluntary accreditation agencies would take the place of compulsory government licensing--if health care providers believe that such accreditation would enhance their own reputation, and that their consumers care about reputation, and are willing to pay for it.

Because consumers would no longer be duped into believing that there is such a thing as a "national standard" of health care, they will increase their search costs and make more discriminating health care choices.

2. Eliminate all government restrictions on the production and sale of pharmaceutical products and medical devices. This means no more Food and Drug Administration, which presently hinders innovation and increases costs.

Costs and prices would fall, and a wider variety of better products would reach the market sooner. The market would force consumers to act in accordance with their own--rather than the government's--risk assessment. And competing drug and device manufacturers and sellers, to safeguard against product liability suits as much as to attract customers, would provide increasingly better product descriptions and guarantees.

3. Deregulate the health insurance industry. Private enterprise can offer insurance against events over whose outcome the insured possesses no control. One cannot insure oneself against suicide or bankruptcy, for example, because it is in one's own hands to bring these events about.

Because a person's health, or lack of it, lies increasingly within his own control, many, if not most health risks, are actually uninsurable. "Insurance" against risks whose likelihood an individual can systematically influence falls within that person's own responsibility.

All insurance, moreover, involves the pooling of individual risks. It implies that insurers pay more to some and less to others. But no one knows in advance, and with certainty, who the "winners" and "losers" will be. "Winners" and "losers" are distributed randomly, and the resulting income redistribution is unsystematic. If "winners" or "losers" could be systematically predicted, "losers" would not want to pool their risk with "winners," but with other "losers," because this would lower their insurance costs. I would not want to pool my personal accident risks with those of professional football players, for instance, but exclusively with those of people in circumstances similar to my own, at lower costs.

Because of legal restrictions on the health insurers' right of refusal--to exclude any individual risk as uninsurable--the present health-insurance system is only partly concerned with insurance. The industry cannot discriminate freely among different groups' risks.

As a result, health insurers cover a multitude of uninnsurable risks, alongside, and pooled with, genuine insurance risks. They do not discriminate among various groups of people which pose significantly different insurance risks. The industry thus runs a system of income redistribution--benefiting irresponsible actors and high-risk groups at the expense of responsible individuals and low risk groups. Accordingly the industry's prices are high and ballooning.

To deregulate the industry means to restore it to unrestricted freedom of contract: to allow a health insurer to offer any contract whatsoever, to include or exclude any risk, and to discriminate among any groups of individuals. Uninsurable risks would lose coverage, the variety of insurance policies for the remaining coverage would increase, and price differentials would reflect genuine insurance risks. On average, prices would drastically fall. And the reform would restore individual responsibility in health care.

4. Eliminate all subsidies to the sick or unhealthy. Subsidies create more of whatever is being subsidized. Subsidies for the ill and diseased breed illness and disease, and promote carelessness, indigence, and dependency. If we eliminate them, we would strengthen the will to live healthy lives and to work for a living. In the first instance, that means abolishing Medicare and Medicaid.

Only these four steps, although drastic, will restore a fully free market in medical provision. Until they are adopted, the industry will have serious problems, and so will we, its consumers.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe teaches economics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


When Totalitarianism Comes to America

It Will Come Wrapped in a Whole-Grain, Low-Sodium, Decaffeinated, Re-Usable, Non-Carbon-Footprint Wrapper

by Karen De Coster


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sponsoring more food totalitarianism for the purpose of suitably herding the kiddies in their daily food round-ups in public schools. An Institute of Medicine committee - set up at the behest of congress - is proposing strict standards for all foods available in the government's daily internment camps.

Ayn Rand or George Orwell couldn't have fictionalized it any better. The Committee for Food Control, as we'll call it, is proposing that food and beverages be individually categorized into defined "tiers." The committee will collectively determine what food and beverages belong in either Tier 1 or Tier 2. Each tier of food and beverage items will come with varying availability according to the time of day and/or the child's grade level.

Tier 1 snacks contain no more than 200 calories per portion, and entrée items that could be sold à la carte do not exceed calorie limits on comparable school lunch program items. Tier 1 items have no more than 200 milligrams of sodium per snack portion or 480 milligrams per à la carte entrée item. They contain no more than 35 percent of total calories from fat; less than 10 percent of total calories from saturated fats; no trans fats; and no caffeine except in naturally occurring trace amounts. They also contain no more than 35 percent of calories from total sugars; exceptions to this guideline are flavored milk, which may contain up to 22 grams of sugars per 8-ounce serving, and yogurt, which should not exceed 30 grams of sugars per 8-ounce portion.

Got that? This means that yogurt with the inexcusable "fruit-on-the-bottom" will likely exceed the sugar limit and thus be tossed into the "less healthy" Tier 2. In fact, we're told that Tier 1 foods include stuff like carrot sticks, whole-grain, low-sugar cereals, whole fruit, skim or soy milk, and raisins. There would be a cap on juices because of their calorie-laden, sugary nature - 8 ounces for high school kids and 4 ounces for middle and elementary school students.

Tier 2 foods are the borderline sinful items - stuff like low-sodium whole-wheat crackers, caffeine-free diet soda, and seltzer water. These food items can only be made available after school hours and must conform to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Sports drinks, like Powerade or Gatorade, may only be ingested when the child has participated in "one or more hours of vigorous activity." That one ought to make for some great union jobs in providing for oversight and enforcement.

These standards will be applied to food and beverages sold on school grounds, including vending machines; à la carte cafeteria items; and "other foods and drinks that are available outside of - and therefore compete with - federally reimbursable school meals, which already must conform to some nutrition guidelines."

The criticism here is obvious. For starters, there is no room in a free society for lifestyle decrees of this nature - the government has overstepped its boundaries when it extends its coercive powers into the realm of the family and strives to regulate individual human eating habits. An unconstitutional action, yes. But even more so, it's preposterous to think that any group of people can be empowered to determine what kind of nutritional substance (or lack thereof) you can or can't put into your child's body. This proposed esophageal terrorism on the part of big government - under the pretext of making us all healthier - is indeed invasive and controlling enough to justify the term "food totalitarianism."

(Article Continues Below)

In reality, in order to enjoy good health and clean eating individuals do not need to categorize all foods as strictly "bad" or "good." They need to balance the healthy foods with the less healthy and moderate their overall diet so that, in total, their bodies are receiving a net advantage of solid, nutritional foods. Self-moderation on the part of the individual eventually brings on more knowledge, better decision-making, and cleaner eating habits. Taking the road from being a sloppy eater who subsists on fast food, sweet stuff, and highly-processed foods toward a life of clean eating is typically not a forced sprint; it is a voluntary walk along the path of knowledge when one strives for personal betterment through enhanced nutritional habits.

Another critique - that complements the comments above - is the government's "one-size-fits-all" proposal. The notion that what is good or bad for one person is necessarily the same for all others is collectivist in its foundation as well as scientifically unsound. Our bodies are so supremely individualistic that no group of us will achieve the same results from a given form of exercise or food program. As for children, there are many determining factors for diet type. A child's natural body type, growth pattern, metabolism, and level of activity will determine what he should be eating and when he should eat it. A centrally-planned food program with calorie ceilings, rigorously-defined good and bad foods, and shared time management techniques is both physically and mentally unhealthy. Envision the negativity that children would experience when eating becomes forced and authoritarian, and falls under yet another set of harsh rulemaking.

Furthermore, there is no totalitarian decree that can effectively centralize the health and food diets of millions of children via random commands from one gigantic central planning commission - made up of establishment doctors, government agencies, health special interests, busybody citizens, and corporatist food interests - headquartered in Washington D.C. In effect, the establishment of twinkie control and calorie constraints is oppressive and inhumane, and surely, it works against the very foundations of freedom that we should savor and preserve.

True, bad eating habits will lead to grim consequences later in life, if not in the here-and-now. However, one's body is one's own to take care of or not. When an obese person - or any individual for that matter - makes the choice to consume a Big Mac or deep-fried, processed corn dogs as opposed to non-fat yogurt and broccoli, they are choosing food consumption as the way to immediate happiness instead of thinking long-term and putting off instant gratification for future health benefits. Done continuously, it's a bad choice, but it is a choice. Poor choices like these are ripe for criticism and open to persuasion from onlookers, but they can never be taken away from individuals if we value self-ownership and the notion of negative liberty - the absence of physical interference with an individual's person and property - as espoused by classical liberal philosophers.

Looking through the proposal, I guess there's one thing for which we can be "grateful" concerning this latest episode of obesity scaremongering: "The standards apply only to competitive items sold or available on campuses, not to federal school meals or to bagged lunches or snacks that children bring to school."

Then again, before you consider this latest oppressive scheme for food control to be only a problem of food served in the public schools, consider the ramp-up in food totalitarianism that we have been witnessing all around us. One thing for certain is that government central planners are always predictable: given the opportunity, they will collectively assimilate all people everywhere into one big kettle and dole out equitable slices of compulsory recommendations that are backed up by the supremacy of law. This is so that we can all share in the same perceived benefits in the same equal amounts as identified by them - the chosen caretakers. Never mind that what may be beneficial to one man may be detrimental to another man.

Blessed be thy caretakers. They are spinning Orwell in his grave.