Allan Meltzer’s provocative book Why Capitalism? makes the argument that capitalism and free markets work across nations and over time since they alone are compatible with human nature. His claim came to mind when I was reading about this little step towards economic freedom.
The British political class maintains an extensive, and generally successful, propaganda campaign to convince the unwashed masses that their socialist healthcare system is “the envy of the world.” But the truth is that Britain’s socialist National Health Service (NHS) combines the efficiency of the post office with the compassion of the IRS. A new study, in fact, finds that “basic errors” in NHS hospitals cause 1,000 preventable deaths per month. Among the horror stories:
Neglect by medical staff led to a man dying of dehydration in a hospital bed, a coroner has ruled. Medical staff at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, did not give Kane Gorny vital medication to help him retain fluids. The 22-year-old, who was a keen sportsman, even phoned police from his hospital bed as he was so desperate for a glass of water, the inquest heard. Deputy Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe told the hearing: “A cascade of individual failures has led to an incredibly tragic outcome.”
She recorded a narrative verdict at Westminster Coroner’s Court and said Mr Gorny had died from dehydration contributed to by neglect. Dr Radcliffe said: “Kane was undoubtedly let down by incompetence of staff, poor communication [and] lack of leadership, both medical and nursing.”
But the NHS is at least admirably egalitarian; they gave to the husband of a Member of Parliament the same poor treatment they usually reserve for ordinary Britons:
A senior MP broke down in tears yesterday as she condemned the ‘coldness, indifference and contempt’ of nurses she blames for her husband’s death.
Ann Clwyd said her beloved Owen Roberts died ‘like a battery hen’ after her repeated pleas for NHS nurses to help him were ‘brushed aside’.
Miss Clwyd, a Labour MP for 28 years, sobbed as she revealed she has nightmares over the way Mr Roberts died six weeks ago ‘from the cold and from people who didn’t care’.
A lawsuit by the NCAA and professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey challenges New Jersey’s sports betting law (which would allow casinos and racetracks to take bets on sporting events) by claiming that sporting contests would be “irreparably harmed” by betting in New Jersey –although I guess not from legal sports betting in Las Vegas or the illegal betting that takes place across the country. To deal with this impending threat to the integrity and sanctity of intercollegiate athletics the NCAA has also pulled five championships scheduled to be played at New Jersey schools in 2013.
Professional sports leagues are private sector cartels and should thus be free to be as sanctimonious as they want. The NCAA is a cartel made up of public universities and private non-profits and should be free to decide to pull the Division III men’s volleyball championship from Hoboken (although the participants will miss out on some great seafood!).
What makes all this hysteria somewhat comical is that both the professional and college leagues cannot deny gambling, from legal bets on the Super bowl to illegal bookmaking and March Madness office pools, creates huge fan interest. That interest turns into TV watchers, which turns into sponsors dollars, which allows huge fees for broadcast rights. All this lines the pockets of league owners and generates huge revenues for NCAA athletic departments. It all kinda reminds me of a movie:
Captain Renault: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.”
Emile: “Your winnings, sir.”
Captain Renault: “Thank you very much.”
The chattering classes typically express disdain for America’s “gun culture.” They argue that guns should be available only to the military and the police. But as novelist and gun expert Larry Correia points out in a very informative post, the gun culture includes many current and former police and military, and the police and military benefit from a talent pool of knowledge and skills sustained by the gun culture. The much maligned ‘gun nuts’ are people who have a lot of knowledge, which they can also pass on to others.
[T]he people who build the guns, really understand the guns, actually enjoy using the guns, and usually end up being picked to teach everybody else how to use the guns are the gun culture.
Correia’s thought provoking point is that, without a vibrant gun culture, even the performace of the military and police can be impaired. As an example of what happens when the gun culture is eradicated, Correia cites the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai.
Ten armed jihadi terrorists simply walked into town and started shooting people….These ten men shut down an entire massive city and struck fear into the hearts of millions for THREE DAYS. Depending on where this happened in America it would have been over in three minutes or three hours. The Indian police responded, but their tactics sucked. The marksmanship sucked. Their leadership sucked. Their response utterly and completely fell apart.
Correia blames this failure on the absence of a gun culture.
In talking afterwards with some individuals from a small agency of our government who were involved in the clean-up and investigation, all of whom are well trained, well practiced, gun nuts, they told me the problem was that the Indian police had no clue what to do because they’d never been taught what to do. Their leadership hated and feared the gun so much that they stamped out the ability for any of their men to actually master the tool. When you kill your gun culture, you kill off your instructors, and those who can pass down the information necessary to do the job.
Correia sees the same attitude starting to infect leadership in America, at least in liberal urban areas.
I recently got to sit down with some fans who are members of one of the larger metro police departments in America. These guys were all SWAT cops or narcotics, all of them were gun nuts who practiced on their own dime, and all of them were intimately familiar with real violence. These are the guys that you want responding when the real bad stuff goes down. What they told me made me sick. Their leadership was all uniformly liberal and extremely anti-gun, just like most big cities in America. They walked me through what their responses were supposed to be in case of a Mumbai style event, and how their “scary assault weapons” were kept locked up where they would be unavailable, and how dismal their training was, and how since the state had run off or shut down most of the gun ranges, most of the cops couldn’t even practice or qualify anymore.
We’re not sure if we agree totally with Correia’s argument, but it is certainly worth taking seriously. His article also goes on to refute many of the standard arguments against gun control, and the whole piece is worth reading in full.
The American Enterprise Institute sponsored a $50,000 video contest.
The winning entries can be seen here.
New York City Comptroller John Lin calls for an end to all taxpayer-funded subsidies for private businesses (a.k.a. corporate welfare). His economic development plan is thus: “Let’s level the playing field for everybody.”
Then prepare for more crime, and in particular, more gun crime.
In response to the 1996 Dunblane school shooting, the United Kingdom enacted one of the strictest gun control laws in the world, effectively banning all private ownership of handguns. The law was so strict that British Olympic pistol-shooters were not permitted to practice on British soil; they had to go to Switzerland.
Following the ban, crime in the UK went up. Not just crime in general, but specifically “the use of handguns in crime,” which “rose by 40% in the two years after the weapons were banned.” In the ten years following the ban, firearm offenses in England and Wales rose 89%, while the total number of people injured or killed by guns increased 104%.
The utter failure of gun control comes as no surprise to serious students of the issue. The simple fact is that criminals do not obey gun laws. In the U.K., an estimated one million handguns remain illegally in private hands. A gun ban has the effect of disarming the law-abiding population, and leaving it defenseless against the predations of the criminal population.
Criminals like gun bans because they insure that their victims cannot fight back. A telling statistic concerns the percentage of burglaries that are ‘hot’, meaning the burglar breaks into the home while the homeowner is present; in other words, a home invasion. In England and Wales, where the burglar has no fear of being shot by an armed homeowner, 56% of burglaries are hot. In the U.S., where homeowners often shoot home invaders, only 13% of burglaries are hot.
A British subject, unlike an American citizen, quite literally has no defense against criminal violence. Locks and alarm systems will not stop determined thugs. And remember: when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.
Wealthy British financier John Monckton had the best alarm system that money can buy. His home was described as “a fortress – heavily and obviously protected by various security systems.” What he did not have, because it was denied to him by the British government, was an effective weapon of self-defense. Monckton
fought to keep the two robbers out, [but] he and his wife Homeyra, 46, were overpowered in an incident described to the court as “every householder’s nightmare”.
The alarm was raised by their nine-year-old daughter Isobel who partly witnessed the attack as she hid upstairs in their home in Upper Cheyne Row, Chelsea, west London. In a videotaped interview played to the jury, she described how, after the robbers fled, she heard her mother frantically screaming for help. She ran downstairs where she saw “blood all over the floor” and on the walls. Her mother, who had been stabbed twice in the back, was lying at the bottom of the stairs. In the interview, Isobel described how she saw her father on the floor with his eyes closed.
The court heard how Hanson – wearing a balaclava, armed with a gun and a knife, and accompanied by his friend Elliot White, also 24 – had forced his way into the home and stabbed Mrs Monckton, leaving her close to death. He then attacked Mr Monckton, stabbing the financier repeatedly. The two men fled with a pair of earrings, two rings, a watch and a purse, a haul worth just £4,000.
Opponents of gun rights feel confident that they hold the moral high ground. Indeed the advocates of gun control, appalled by violence, are filled with righteous indignation. But they, and anyone else who seeks to deny the free-born citizen his right to self defense, are guilty of a grave moral failing.
The expansion of federal government involvement in the financing of higher education has led (surprise!) to a drastic increase in its price. Total student debt has now reached the $1 trillion mark. What happened? Well, the more money the federal government pumps into financial aid, the more money the colleges can charge for tuition. Inflation-adjusted tuition and fees have tripled over the last 30 years while aid quadrupled. Thanks to the federal government, massive sums of money are available to pay for massive tuition bills. As the bills come due, graduates face a debt stranglehold that leaves them unable to obtain a car loan or buy a house. Non-graduates (the nearly 50% of students that fail to get a degree within 6 years) likely have even more acute cases of buyer’s remorse.
Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee asked the Congressional Research Service to produce data on welfare spending. The CRS data revealed
roughly 80 overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs that together represented the single largest budget item in 2011—more than the nation spends on Social Security, Medicare, or national defense. The total amount spent on these federal programs, when taken together with approximately $280 billion in state contributions, amounted to roughly $1 trillion. Nearly 95 percent of these costs come from four categories of spending: medical assistance, cash assistance, food assistance, and social / housing assistance.
According to the government’s official definition of poverty, based on income, there are about 17 million poor households in America. Dividing total welfare spending by the number of poor households yields approximately $61,000 per household. This figure exceeds the median household income by about 20 percent. So, hypothetically, if the spending were converted to cash and given directly to the poor households, the income boost would propel these households to 20 percent above the mid-level of income! And this counts only what they would get from government; it does not count the income the “poor” households already earn on their own. Our hypothetical also does not account for the fact that welfare benefits, unlike most earned income, are not taxed.
Clearly the resource expenditure far exceeds what might reasonably be required to help out 17 million poor households. The government’s 80 welfare programs therefore comprise a staggeringly inefficient mechanism for fighting poverty. Where does all that money go? Well, part of the problem is that nowadays households that are not officially poor can nonetheless qualify for benefits. Only 15 percent of households are officially poor, and back in the 1970s, only 7 percent of Americans received some form of means-tested welfare. Now, one-third of the country does:
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that almost 110 million Americans received some form of means-tested welfare in 2011. These figures exclude entitlements like Medicare and Social Security to which people contribute, and they refer exclusively to low-income direct and indirect financial support—such as food stamps, public housing, child care, energy assistance, direct cash aid, etc. For instance, 47 million Americans currently receive food stamps, and USDA has engaged in an aggressive outreach campaign to boost enrollment even further…
The expansion of welfare eligibility is consistent with the theory that the political system supports a dependency agenda–the political class enhances its power by making people dependent on government. The beneficiaries include the politicians and bureaucrats who administer the programs, as well as private organizations that receive lucrative government contracts to deliver social services.
Long-term prognosis: social dysfunction, impaired economic growth, and eventual fiscal insolvency.