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.

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!!

Group Seeks To Ban Medical Errors

By: Dave Cox

A newly formed advocacy group SHAME (Sad Humans Against Medical Errors) is testifying before Congress this week in light of a recent study that lists “Medical Errors” as the third leading cause of death in the United States. As part of their testimony, SHAME is expected to push for legislation that bans medical errors and makes it a Federal crime, punishable by 5-10 years in prison. The group’s spokesman, A.R. Quince, told reporters that, “Medical errors must stop. More than 250,000 people die each year as the result of errors committed under the care of a physician. If we can take the bold step of simply banning medical errors, we can dramatically make our society a safer place.”

When asked why his group chose not to take on heart disease or cancer, the top 2 causes of death in the United States, Quince responded that, “It’s impractical to try and ban a disease because of all the research that would be required, but medical errors are another thing altogether. The simple step of making medical errors illegal will have an immediate impact and will save lives. Also, if you go to our web site, you can order a SHAME t-shirt or bumper sticker to show everyone that you will not stand for one more medical error.”

SHAME has also proposed a 15 day waiting period on new surgical procedures and a Federal requirement to register all pre-existing conditions in a national database, but only for statistical purposes.

Source:

Washington Post: Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in United States

Why I Left The Libertarian Party

By: Dave Cox

NOTE: This article was originally submitted for publication in Liberty Viral, but was not published for obvious reasons. There are some awesome folks over there doing great things and I encourage you to check them out. Links are provided below.  

I have decided to leave the Libertarian Party at a time when lots of other folks are flocking there in droves. Does it mean I will stop believing in personal liberty? Absolutely not! Does it mean I will stop supporting liberty minded candidates? No. Am I going to vote for Gary Johnson? Probably. Does it mean I will stop being a dues paying Libertarian? Absolutely. Does it mean I am going to take a step back from what I have seen in the liberty and, specifically, the upper case Libertarian movement? Definitely.

My political and personal journey has been a long one. As a kid, I played in punk bands and generally supported anything that would cause chaos. At the same time, I still always had an attraction to conservative politics, minus the social dogma that often went along with it. By my mid 20’s, I was an active Republican and even worked on some Republican campaigns in Virginia. As I put myself through college, had kids, and generally had more free time to ponder life, I evolved into a liberty leaning Republican and then a libertarian minded independent as the GOP became too fixated on social policy. Fast forward a couple of decades to this year’s Presidential race. I knew there was no way in hell I was going to support Dumb or Dumber from the two big parties, so I started looking at alternatives.  Constitution Party? Nope. They’re basically old school conservative Republicans who believe in fiscal and (most) personal liberty but with a big dose of religion to top it off. Green Party? Ummmmm, no. Social dogma from the left is just as bad  as social dogma from the right. Libertarian? Why not?!? I voted for Gary Johnson in 2012 and had voted Libertarian in a few other races in the past as well. This ragtag group looked like my people. Punks, geeks, political nerds, anarchists (and so many other -ists that will make your head spin) all seemed to form this unlikely alliance of liberty minded individuals and it drew me in. I ended up volunteering for the 2016 Austin Petersen Libertarian Presidential Campaign as his Texas Campaign Coordinator and I spent countless hours spreading his message of liberty. I have a great deal of respect for Austin and will continue to, even as I make my transition into the unaffiliated political abyss.  My networking also led to a writing gig as a contributor for Liberty Viral .

IMG_6339

Now that my boring background in politics has been mapped out, let’s talk about what brought me to the point of shutting things down, both from the liberty movement and from contributing to Liberty Viral:

1. The Libertarian Party is Just Like Every Other Political Party

The Libertarian Party sure looked like a good home for this stubborn, gun toting, socially tolerant, educated, aging punk who has a couple college degrees and likes to keep as much of his hard earned money as possible. So, what happened? I’ve been around the block a few times and I know I’m not going to agree with everyone on everything. I’m DEFINITELY not going to agree with any political party’s entire platform. That would just be weird, or at least too much of a herd mentality for someone like me. What I didn’t expect was the hate and vitriol that permeated much of the campaign season – and this was going on between members of the same party. I know the Libertarian Party is quite different in that it includes a lot of different factions, but the behavior bordered on outright silly at best, and vile at worst, all the way through (and after) the convention. Seriously, if I wanted back stabbing and drama I would have just gone back to the GOP!

2. Lots and Lots of Bitching 

I had about eight different wordings for this header, but this one ultimately summed it up the best. As I started adding Libertarian “friends” on various social media sites, I realized that my feed was chock full o’ endless whining and almost zero tangible solutions. Hell, I even caught myself doing the exact same thing a few times. It’s really fucking easy to say you want to abolish the government, or end the Fed, or privatize everything, or eliminate all taxes, but it’s another thing altogether to propose a tangible way to get there. If you’re going to bitch and moan about everything and offer no real solutions, you might as well save yourself some time and just register as a Democrat. Seriously. Side note about the whole bitching complaint: Calling everyone you disagree with a “statist” accomplishes absolutely nothing. In my time as a dues paying Libertarian, I’ve been called everything from a “statist” to a LINO (Libertarian in Name Only) to a Republican infiltrator. Do I care? Not really. It’s kind of fun to see people get so riled up that they resort to name calling. On the other hand, it’s not a great way to build a legitimate political party, much less a political movement that needs supporters to be relevant. In addition, there are quite a few members of the party who don’t even WANT it to be relevant. They want to forward the ideas, but not focus on winning. I can’t wrap my head around that. There are some wonderful folks in the Libertarian Party, but they often get overshadowed by the whining assholes.

3. Dallas

Many of my reservations about parts of the liberty movement came to fruition during the recent execution of police officers in Dallas. I live in Dallas (very close to where the shootings took place) and I have family members who work in law enforcement. I know my sister-in-law will stay strong for her husband as he goes to work patrolling the streets of Fort Worth, while she will probably have to try to unwrap that knot in her stomach, all while he gladly goes back out there to put his life on the line to help keep us safe. I remember the decades of my brother missing family vacations when he was a homicide detective because he was called in for an investigation or the risks he took serving as a SWAT Team leader. I watch my son, who is about to turn 21, seriously ponder going into law enforcement himself. I know that I will have that same knot in my stomach as his shift starts and one day he will have a wife and children who will pray for his safety as he risks his life to make our city safer. What I saw coming from the liberty movement in the aftermath of these shootings included the sickeningly overt things like memes saying “12 Terrorists Shot in Dallas” to slightly more subtle things like “If you work for the state these things can happen” (see the whole statist messaging happening again?) to the wry, but equally disturbing, veiled approval of what happened. I’ve seen many libertarians (upper case and lower case) say things to the effect of, “I don’t condone the death of these officers because of the NAP (I could write a fucking novel about the non-aggression principle), BUT (blah, blah, blah)….” My tipping point was actually an opinion piece on Liberty Viral called, “Exposing Blue Privilege: America’s True Protected Class.” Sorry, I’m not going to link it here but you can find it. The lack of respect for human dignity that accompanied the release of that article just a couple of days after the shootings in Dallas left me physically ill. I read it over and over again trying to find a satirical bend to it or a twinge of irony, but it wasn’t there. Should the publication that I contribute to be able to release whatever they want? Of course! Do I have to agree with everything that my publication releases? Hell no! I do, however, expect a little human decency. Statists didn’t die in Dallas. Evil doers didn’t die in Dallas (except for the asshole who did the shooting). Fathers died. Sons died. Sisters and daughters and friends died. More importantly, people who take an oath to protect the public died while protecting peoples’ right to protest against THEM!! Would it be too much to wait a little while before going there?

Parting Thoughts

If this article gets published by Liberty Viral, I will fully expect to get called all the names that I mentioned above plus a slew of new and very clever ones because libertarians are smart and creative folks. I’ll get some nasty comments made online and will probably receive some private messages as well. I’ll get unfriended by some and some people will show support. That’s fine. I really don’t care too much, except that I do care. I really wanted this to be my new home, both in the Libertarian Party and at Liberty Viral. It’s not and that’s okay. I’ll pull up my big boy panties and keep on keeping on. What I ask of libertarians is this: Try to stay positive. The message of liberty is one of hope, individualism and hard work. Don’t attack people just because their brand of liberty is a little different than yours. Offer solutions and stop bitching. You can’t get from A to Z without visiting the other 24 letters in between. In utopia, you can jump right to the last chapter. In the real world, you have to get there in increments and even compromise (gasp!) sometimes. Finally, don’t let your quest for liberty let you forget about the sanctity of ALL human life – even those “statists” in blue uniforms.

I’m outta here. Keep fighting the good fight and know that I’ll be out there, independently, doing the same thing. And hey, vote for Gary Johnson. He’s not perfect by any stretch, but the thought of him in the Oval Office doesn’t give me cold chills like the other two.