Health Care and Free Markets

I was reading an article earlier about health care in the USA as compared to single payer health care in Canada. The gist of the article was that single payer is ineffective in Canada as evidenced by long waitlists for procedures, high taxes and 65,000 people a year coming to the USA for surgeries. In the comments section, several Canadians said that there are rarely wait times for necessary surgeries (Who decides what is necessary? That's a different rant altogether). In their experience, everyone they knew that came to the USA for surgery came for elective surgeries because the surgeons in Canada were slammed with "necessary" surgeries, thus no time for profit generating elective procedures.

Here's my takeaway from that:
1. The Canadian system is flawed for a multitude of reasons, including; single payer essentially conscripts medical practitioners by forcing them to provide a service, it's expensive (via taxes), and providers are too overloaded with mandatory work to perform elective procedures.
This is socialism. Socialism doesn't work.

2. The USA system is flawed for a multitude of reasons. Currently, government meddling has made the structure so incredibly convoluted that it is unaffordable for many many people. Another major issue is the insurance lobby. Let's face it, insurance companies have been able to buy favorable legislation for a very long time. This is corporatism. Corporatism doesn't work.

Analysis
So, in a socialist single payer system, physicians are overburdened with mandatory surgeries and don't have time for elective procedures. In a hybrid system that contains some socialist elements along with rampant corporatism, premium costs and actual procedure/facility costs are completely out of control.

The one system that seems to work the most effectively is elective surgeries in the USA. Why? Because the government doesn't have their hands in it (for the most part) and insurance companies aren't involved at all. You also know all of your costs up front through a menu of set fees. That way you can shop for the pricing and quality that you want. It's the closest to an actual market economy out of the whole bunch.

End corporatism.
End socialism.

A free market serves its customers every time.

Clearing the Air

There are probably 4 or 5 “flavors” of Democrats (or left leaning folks, in general). You have moderates, socialists, “democratic socialists” (not gonna lie, that term gives me a headache), old school Southern Democrats, Wall Street Democrats, and so on. I doubt a moderate Democrat would be too stoked about being called a Marxist or a socialist, right? 

Well, I’m a Republican. I’m not a corporatist Republican nor a religious right Republican nor a Tea Party Republican (whatever that means now) nor a Wall Street Republican. I’m a libertarian leaning Republican. I believe that every individual has the right to pursue their own happiness, whether they are straight, gay, green, blue or purple. I believe that the government needs to leave people alone from a social standpoint, spend as little of our money as possible (and as defined by the Constitution), and stay out of the business of using religion to drive public policy. Believe it or not, most of the younger Republicans I run into feel the same way. Before you say that makes me a Libertarian (with a capital L), it doesn’t. The reality of this country is that we currently have the best chance of advancing an ideology within one of the two major parties. I think my energy is best spent advancing liberty in a similar manner as Rand Paul and the rest of the liberty caucus Republicans. I don’t even align 100% with those guys. I probably don’t align 100% with ANYONE and that’s okay. Note: I was a dues paying Libertarian for almost a year until I realized that’s an entirely different can of worms and it’s not for me. Power to the folks who fight that fight, though. 

The GOP is a hot mess right now. To be fair, the Democrat Party is almost an equal sized dumpster fire, too. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. The old guard needs to go and that’s going to take a long time. We need to survive the Trump Administration and start putting more libertarian minded Republicans in office. This will be a long and slow process, but our government is designed to move slowly in order to avoid the whims of the masses. 

I see all this shit talking and friendships being torn apart because of political affiliation and it’s, quite frankly, stupid. Hell, if I avoided everyone with different views than my own, I’d have an extremely short list of Christmas cards to send out. And if I shunned all the bands that didn’t align with my political beliefs, I’d probably be stuck listening to Nashville country and Michale Graves. I prefer to think that I’m adult enough to hear something I disagree with, process it, and file it away without having a toddler sized tantrum.  

So, with all of that , I’m not going to hide my opinions and I’m not going to be vague about my affiliations any longer, simply because of the mess that the GOP is in right now. I wouldn’t expect you to hide because the Democrat Party is woefully out of touch, arrogant and fractured, either. 
So next time you get all high and mighty about people you “hate” – remember that it’s probably a guy you’ve played in a band with, or watched perform on stage, or turned wrenches with on a hot rod, or stood beside at a punk rock show (and, years ago, crashed into in a pit) or just had a beer with and talked about nothing and laughed a little bit.

So, you can hate and purge your social media accounts all day and that’s perfectly fine with me. I’m gonna have a beer, hang out with my wife, work on my hot rod, and lose what’s left of my hearing at a punk rock show. You might even see me letting my freak flag fly. If you do, feel free to wave yours, too, even if it looks different than mine. 

The REAL Wildcard in the 2016 Election

by: Dave Cox

With all of the craziness coming to a hopeful conclusion this week, I’ve been struggling with understanding exactly how we got here and, more importantly, how to wrap this up and summarize it into something that makes some modicum of sense.

  • Email scandals
  • Bombastic statements
  • Wikileaks
  • Blurred lines between government and charity
  • Pay-for-play
  • Greed
  • Entitlement
  • Unchecked political power
  • Unconstitutional proposals
  • Sex scandals
  • International interference
  • Leaks
  • FBI investigations

This list could go on and on – potentially without end – but that’s old news by now. The left latches onto their torches and the right (specifically, the populist right) latches onto theirs and the grand political wheel of finger pointing, demonizing and burying the opponent spins out of control. A lot of people believe that Donald Trump is the obvious wildcard in this election because he is a loud, brash, unapologetic outsider. Are you ready to have your mind blown? That’s actually not the case at all. In reality, Hillary Clinton is the wildcard. Think about it: Bernie Sanders tapped into a populist, frustrated and angry left. Thousands upon thousands of people attended his rallies. Hell, people practically worshiped the guy. He tapped into the anger and frustration of people on the left who felt let down by the system as well as by their leaders and he brought in countless people who weren’t terribly interested in traditional politics at all. At times it looked like people were attending the greatest rock show ever produced at his rallies.

Sound familiar?

With very different policy points, it all sounds an awful lot like the rise of Donald Trump. Trump struck a chord with an entirely different population of folks than Sanders, but they share the same kind of frustration as the Sanders supporters. They feel that the system has failed them and that they finally have a chance to flip a big ol’ middle finger at Washington. He fills arenas with supporters, some of whom border on manic. They hang on to every word he utters and they take every opportunity to tell the political system that they’ve had enough of their shit. He has brought in countless people who didn’t identify as Republicans or Democrats or even independents. They were just pissed off and they needed someone to carry the mantle for them. Trump was winning to be that guy.

Good or bad, THAT would have actually made sense in some strange way: The angry, frustrated and alienated left versus the angry, frustrated and alienated right in a head to head battle of pure populism. It would have been the ultimate convergence of a political shit storm and it would have produced the love child of a severely ailing political system as our next President, regardless of the winner.

But that didn’t happen.

The angry populists forgot one thing: THIS system is about strategy, planning, weirdly drawn districts, a solid ground game, political favors, lobbying, corporations, and nod-and-wink moments between the political elite. In other words, the wildcard this time is Hillary Clinton and her 40+ years of perfecting the minute details of the election process as it stands today. While Sanders filled coliseums, Clinton targeted key donors, pivotal districts and big-time influential supporters. While Sanders created such a frenzy that people were getting his likeness tattooed on their bodies, Clinton was making sure she left no stone unturned across the primary map, particularly in the early primaries where momentum can make or break a campaign. She had the giant machine that meshed perfectly with the gears that have been in place for decades – or perhaps even longer. She had the sheer political muscle to squash a populist uprising within her own party with relative ease. The GOP had 16 other guys who thought the same thing, but they couldn’t figure out how to rally behind just one of them, thus they quickly, and unceremoniously, failed.

In another odd twist that could only accompany the 2016 election, the Libertarian Party decided to play it safe and nominate their 2012 candidate, Gary Johnson, who garnered just under 1% of the popular vote the last time around and an 11th hour Libertarian and liberal Republican governor as a hopeless means to bring in folks from both sides. In other words the “Party of Principle” tried to lure us into their tent with a freaking vanilla milkshake. Not the good kind of milkshake that makes your heart happy, but the bland kind that you have to get because the other milkshake machine with the really good flavor is broken.

What all of this means is that we have a massive number of people in this country who are fed up, but they underestimated the power of the savvy political elite Clinton wildcard. In Bernie Sanders, he simply had to bear the brunt of being swept away early because of the primary calendar. Despite his experience and a lifetime of being a politician, he was squashed like an annoying little gnat. The messenger was old, but the socialist-populist message was still figuring out its way in American politics. It’s like a baby that’s still in need if diaper changes and is absolutely no match for the well oiled and well connected Clinton machine. With Donald Trump, we have a political puppy who eats the couch when you’re not home and poops under the dining room table. The nationalist-populist message is there, but it’s often ill formed and poorly communicated. On both sides, we have BIG numbers of people who are frustrated and angry and they’re just looking for different ways to ease that pain. The problem here is that anger and frustration alone don’t win elections. Our electoral process was intentionally designed to avoid the wide swinging whims of the day. If either of these messages fully form down the road, they may very well start to shape future elections. Granted, Trump still has a chance in this one, but realistically, that chance is slim because Clinton has known from day one how to wrap up the electoral map and she has the organization and connections to execute it.

So now, on the eve of the election, we have the one surviving populist “backlash candidate” in Donald Trump and one candidate who unexpectedly took on the role of the wildcard in a career politician – Hillary Clinton. I honestly can’t think of a more fitting way to summarize the circus that is the 2016 Presidential election.

VIDEO: Eric July Talks Music, Libertarian Politics and Developing a Brand

By: Dave Cox

I had the pleasure of sitting down with singer, MC, political commentator, lecturer, activist and all around Ancap badass, Eric July, in our home neighborhood of Oak Cliff in Dallas, Texas.

Here’s a summary of the things we discussed; from his politics, to the falling out with his old band, to his upcoming record release with his new band, Backwordz, and a LOT more. You’re going to want to watch this video!

Transcript:

Dave: Both major political parties are making a rift in America that continues to grow.

Eric: “Non-Aggression, Voluntarism… We shouldn’t agress upon others just to be doing it – and being positive and being able to change people’s lives. That’s why I’m here”

Dave: Eric July is trying to right the ship in US politics with music and media.

Eric:  “That to me is what it’s about – being able to set that scene and telling you where I came from.”

Eric: “What’s good everybody,  I’m Eric July – frontman for Backwordz… Backwordz is really just everything coming together. Me as a political commentator, me as an MC… loving hardcore growing up, loving punk rock and metal. We’ve also got some hardcore MC-ing going down.”

Dave: Running track in college and running in gangs – those are just a few things July drew inspiration from. You can see it in their new music video for the song, “Be Great.” You also see him fire back at his last group, Fire From the Gods.

Eric: “The idea of what was actually asked of me was that they wanted me to be a ghostwriter.” He couldn’t take a back seat, so he left the band.  “I really just wasn’t comfortable with that considering the type of material that I wrote with Fire.  Those are things that come straight from the heart.”

Dave: But what inspired his tribute to his old band was what they did to the last song he recorded with them, “Eat.”

Eric: “They just, literally, re-recorded the song and plugged cuss words in there, because I don’t cuss in my rhymes, to try to make it a slight lyric change. Top to bottom I wrote that song and they just re-did it without my consent and just put it out there.”

Dave: July’s style isn’t your typical rap metal. He changed the culture of hardcore with his political rhymes. There’s no way his style could be mimicked.

Eric: “Just from a musician’s standpoint, it is the whackest thing that I’ve ever seen – the corniest thing I’ve ever seen – of a musician. Not even up for debate – the corniest thing that I’ve ever seen.”

Dave: Doing band business independently is very important to July.

Eric: “We started getting offers. We straight up got offers and we declined them because Backwordz is a brand and a message that we stand behind.”

Dave: They’re self-releasing their new record in partnership with Stay Sick Recordings 2017.

Eric: “You see the shirt [the shirt says ‘Non-Aggression – Voluntaryism’] – we have an actual message and things that we believe in and music is more so just the driving force.”

Dave: The message in their music will reach a younger audience that may have never before been interested in politics.

Eric: “You’re impressing me when you go do a Fox News interview. You go write an article that got shared around by a lot of people. You go do some public speaking – a lecture or something – and you got your message out there and plant some seeds. That’s what’s impressive to me”

Dave: Cable TV, blogs, magazines – he’s done them all as a political commentator. Speaking his mind is second nature for July, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Eric: “I was both confused and, I ain’t going to lie, a little intimidated to be honest with you, because you have to understand the culture of blacks. Leftists have a political monopoly in these communities. A political monopoly is really what it is. I didn’t know about Libertarianism until I hit college. I had never heard the word – never ever heard the word. I was confused because this stuff is making sense, but how do I tell my family this? How do I tell my family that I came to this realization that government sucks?”

Dave: A punk rock theme many of us grew up with turned into political awareness when July went to college.

Eric: “Policies like minimum wage and a welfare state have… helped destroy black communities and black families.”

Dave: His key message is to NOT rely on the government.

Eric: “You know, it’s confusing because I’ve been led for… 19, 20 years of my life to believe one way.”

Dave: He also gets haters as a black Libertarian.

Eric: “It comes with the territory and you’ve got a target on your back. I get stripped down every day.  I’ll go to my messages right now and someone’s calling me the N word.  Black folks too, saying… ‘He’s an Uncle Tom. He’s a coon – a house nigga,’ is what they say.  They’re calling us all of these different terms not because I’m a Libertarian because I’m not a leftist. You can be a conservative – which I’m not. You can be a Libertarian, but as long as you’re not a leftist, you’re going to get called those names.”

Dave: His unique perspective growing up gangbanging, performing as MC YG Rippa and setting athletic records gives him a gift to open minds.

Eric: “I want somebody to come at me and call me one of those names and I’ll be like, ‘Well, you’re the one worshiping the same entity that you claim is suppressing you. Who’s really the Uncle Tome here?’”

Dave: Now, his words are more powerful than any diss track.

Eric: “If I’m going to claim to be real then I’m going to put it out there. Once I put it out there I got more comfortable and I didn’t get phased by all them folks talking down.”

Dave: One word describes Eric’s music and politics…

Eric: “One word – REAL.  You might not agree with it but you know that it’s us. You know that we’re getting out there – we’re putting this music out. You hear me write a lyric, you hear me lay it down, you know it’s real. You know I’m coming to you and I’m being honest with you. You know what I mean? I’m being for real with you. And THAT’S what it’s about!”

Trumps Makes Metal Band Slipknot Pretty Good Again

By: Dave Cox

Late last week, Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor told Spin Magazine that Donald Trump’s message is not in line with what Slipknot is all about. “Trump’s message is so anti-Slipknot it’s not even funny, because we have always tried to get people to stand together, and everything he does is so divisive.” Taylor went on to say that Trump’s message would tear people apart in an effort to control them.

In a shocking turn of events, Trump mentioned the band at a recent rally in Gainesville, Florida. Trump stated that Slipknot was “…terrible, just terrible. I mean, the drums and guitar are huuuuge – they’re great, they’re fantastic, but I can’t get behind the vocals. The vocals are horrible. Rosie O’Donnell could sing better than that guy! I will promise the American people right now that I am willing to take over as the lead singer for Slipknot and I WILL MAKE THEM PRETTY GOOD AGAIN!” Moments later, the curtains on the stage opened, and the members of Slipknot, sans Corey Taylor, launched into their 1999 hit ‘Wait and Bleed’. Trump sprinted to the unattended mic at the center of the stage and growled out the opening line, “I’ve felt the hate rise up in me, kneel down and clear the stone of leaves. I wander out where you can’t see, Inside my shell, I wait and bleed”

TrumpSlip

(meme borrowed from the interwebs)

It was actually happening. Donald J. Trump was the front man for Slipknot and it fucking ruled! The crowd was whipped into a frenzy as The Donald shrieked, “Well, I’m a victim – Manchurian candidate, I have sinned by just makin’ my mind up and takin’ your breath away.”

Shortly after the rally, Slipknot issued a press release stating that Trump was taking over lead vocal duties permanently and they are currently planning a world tour in early 2017, pending the results of the election and the final design of Trumps human flesh and saw blade mask.

Geography Lessons From Donald Trump [VIDEO]

By: Dave Cox

Donald Trump mentioned several times that Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, was from New Jersey, and then brushed it off and kept plowing away because it’s important to keep moving forward, even when facts get in the way of the narrative.  To bad Chris Christie wasn’t there to help him.

I really only have two questions to ask about this clip:

  1. 18 months ago, would anyone have thought that Donald Trump had a legitimate chance a becoming the President of the United States of America?
  2. Would anyone believe that Donald Trump would only be the SECOND worst candidate running for President in 2016?

Somebody please wake me up when this nightmare is over! Giant Meteor 2016!!

PREVIEW: Descendents “Hypercaffium Spazzinate”

It’s been 12 years since seminal punk band Descendents released a new record. I’ve been lucky enough to see their live show twice in the last two years and they never disappoint. With their increased touring schedule in recent years and the fact that they previewed some new tunes in 2014 when I saw them in Pomona, California, it looked like they had some new music brewing. Now, we have a July 29 release of Hypercaffium Spazzinate. Fortunately, the fine folks at NPR are streaming the new record today and it is nothing short of fantastic.

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You would never know this is a band that has been together for 39 years. The new record has an urgency to it that wasn’t seen as much on 2004’s Cool to Be You.  It’s more raw and energetic than anything they’ve released in years. Imagine the musicianship of their 1996 release Everything Sux and the rawness of Milo Goes to College and you’ll be able to see where things are headed. Here’s a quick song by song breakdown:

  1. Feel This – 1:13 of fury, extremely catchy guitar riffs and vocals that grab you from the first line.
  2. Victim of Me – This song was released a few weeks ago as a teaser and I can’t stop listening to it! This song has the best bass line I’ve ever heard in a Descendents song, and that’s saying something because Karl Alvarez is probably the most melodic punk bassist in the history of the genre. I’ve been a bass player for more than 30 years and I’m still blown away at how creative Karl is in his songwriting.
  3. On Paper – Typical Descendents  – and I mean that in a good way. Catchy, edgy and fun with clever lyrics. Self-effacing lyric writing at its finest.
  4. Shameless Halo – This is one of those songs that the crowd will sing along to at every show. Big riffs, super precise drums and a lead guitar riff coming out of each chorus that will make you pump your fist in the air.
  5.  No Fat Burger – The old guy’s response to “Wienerschnitzel” – 44 seconds of concerns about greasy food and high cholesterol.
  6. Testosterone – Driving bass line and guitar work similar to some of my favorite tunes from Cool to be You but with an extra edge. Milo’s vocals on this one are edgy and impressive.
  7. Without Love – this one reminds me a lot of the minor chord progression of “One More Day” from their 2004 release. Solid song with fantastic, introspective lyrics.
  8. We Got Defeat – This song could have been released on Milo Goes To College.  Seriously. The tempo changes are insane and the double beats in the chorus will have the pit going crazy.
  9. Smile – this song was written as an ode to drummer Bill Stevensen when he was dealing with a life threatening illness a few years ago. Heart wrenching lyrics, but twisted into a sweeping, driving melody. Typical Descendents, juxtaposing dark lyrics with catchy melodies.
  10. Limiter – kicks off with a great bass solo with another one at the breakdown in the middle.  Rapid fire drumming and urgent lyrics carry it the rest of the way through. This is a raw song in the best possible way.
  11. Fighting Myself – Upper register, frantic bass playing to kick it off. Very melodic tune and one of the more interesting guitar progressions on the record. Stephen Egerton is probably one of the most underrated guitarists in punk. He has a very unique style and consistently puts out unexpected chord progressions that just work.
  12. Spineless and Scarlet Red – Excellent song from start to finish. This one has a drive and darkness to it that feels sooooooo good. Honestly, songs like this one make me wonder why the Descendents aren’t wealthy men right now. Better than anything you’ll hear on the radio.
  13. Full Circle – This is a PIT SONG. The Descendents don’t normally have hook lines where the whole band is shouting together. Well, this one does. When the whole band yells, “Keep Me Alive!” you’ll find yourself yelling along with it.
  14. Comeback Kid – GREAT bass line throughout. By this point in the record, it starts to sound like a “How to Write a Great Pop Punk Song” lesson. It’s that solid. Very catchy chorus and another sing along break in the middle of the song.
  15. Beyond the Music – This sounds almost like an outtake from Cool to be You. It’s a great tribute to each other as the song talks about their 30+ years together  as a band and their friendship, “This is our family and it will always be that way, beyond the music.”

As a Descendents fanboy, I could’t be happier about this record.  There are things about all of their records that I love, but it always felt like the early releases were completely different than Everything Sux and Cool to be You. Hypercaffium Spazzinate seems to bridge that gap by capturing the energy and reckless abandon of their early work with the skilled musicianship and songwriting of their last two releases. They already have some festival shows scheduled in the late summer and fall and I’m hoping that turns into a full headlining tour after that. This band has meant more to me than I can put into words. They’ve gotten me through some hard times and celebrated with me through the good times. Hypercaffium Spazzinate just sums it all up in a big celebration of top notch music!