More mildly amusing reportage from Paulista/desperate book shill/journalist Brian Doherty on the Rodney Dangerfield-level of respect the Paulite delegates are receiving at the sorta-kinda-still-on GOP convention in Tampa. Shockingly, an institution designed on the premise that everyone airs their disagreements in the nomination process and then comes together behind the eventual nominee is reacting poorly to people who participate in the process but then decide to take their ball and go home when the process doesn’t work out the way they wanted.
Then again, reading the tepid reactions to Gary Johnson’s appearance, it doesn’t quite sound like the Paul crowd has much interest in electing anyone not named “Ron Paul” to public office, regardless of party label attached. Maybe they should work on legalizing cloning to fix that problem.
It seems to me that if one’s goal is to reduce the escalating costs of health care (or at least reduce the rate of escalation of those costs), it would be rather counterproductive to increase people’s consumption of health care resources. Yet a number of policies, all implemented or encouraged by the present administration, have done so:
- Obamacare proper required all health care plans to get rid of co-pays for many routine office visits to physicians.
- The DEA‘s War on Meth and People with Colds has pushed two states (Mississippi and Oregon) to the point of requiring a prescription for dispensing any effective cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine, and many other states require it to be controlled behind the counter. Already one idiotic prosecutor has gone after someone trying to evade this silly requirement. Ten years from now, if not sooner, I have good money that says the feds will be going after “meth doctors” who are “overprescribing” pseudoephedrine, à la Oxycontin, and pharmacies who are “oversupplying” it.
- Now, we have the administration requiring health care plans to provide women with birth control without a co-pay. Never mind the evidence that women on the pill have worse taste in men.
I get that these things are politically popular and/or support politicians’ desires to Look Tough On Drugs. I also get that women who cannot afford birth control probably should have that expense covered in full. What I don’t get is why these mandated “no-co-pay” coverages aren’t means-tested in some way to at least try to keep costs under control for the large share of the population who can reasonably afford some out-of-pocket health care expenses—indeed, our entire federal income tax system is structured, in part, around the idea that 7.5% of your AGI is expected to be dedicated to health care and thus cannot be deducted, even if you itemize deductions.
Finally, I conclude with the following two necessary caveats: (a) I have no particular truck with the moral positions of the Catholic Church or other churches with similar positions on birth control, and think if they want to employ people they can either provide health care coverage or pay the fines/taxes for not providing it, and (b) employer-based health care in general is a stupid way to accomplish universal coverage, and given that we seem to have decided that universal health care coverage is desirable it follows that some form of single-payer or government-subsidized system is preferable, particularly if you’re going to have a nominally private system that is totally loaded down with mandated coverages (aka unfunded mandates), must-issue rules, and uniform premiums. Hence I think some sort of subsistence level universal government-paid system, with rationing-by-queueing and ward-type inpatient service, is inevitable (if not desirable), and as long as individuals are free to pay (or buy supplemental insurance) to upgrade their place in line and to the Beyoncé Birthing Suite, I can’t say I have any particular problem with it.
The folks at Reason have been keeping a rather keen eye on the escalation of the Obama administration’s war on medical marijuana; the latest salvo is apparently going to involve aggressive prosecutions of those advertising dispensaries, along with targeting landlords and other property owners whose tenants are dispensing pot, regardless of state licensing. Considering that the average Democrat supports legalizing pot outright,* and polls show even wider support for medical marijuana, the administration’s increasingly anti-pot position seems a bit inexplicable on the surface. However, I do think there are two potential explanations for this seemingly-conservative shift on the issue:
- Presidential politics: Most of the medical marijuana facilities are in California, a state that Obama has virtually no chance of losing in 2012. The policy is actually designed to shore up Obama’s support in swing states, where medical marijuana is not legal and the administration’s policy can be spun as “tough on drugs and crime.”
- Assertion of national authority against nullification more broadly: Although one would think that the Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales v. Raich, which (contrary to a line of Supreme Court cases leading to that point) found that non-commercial, intrastate activity, such as marijuana use, could be regulated under the commerce power, had settled the power of the national government to continue to regulate marijuana as a controlled substance, the behavior of the states that adopted medical marijuana laws has effectively advanced the doctrine of nullification, albeit this time from the left rather than its traditional home on the right. By cracking down on medical marijuana, the Obama administration is signalling that other nullification efforts, such as state laws against participation in ObamaCare and REAL ID, along with other efforts by states to make end-runs around federal policies, will be dealt with in a similar fashion.
The latter explanation, in particular, would explain the rather vehement reaction of the administration over the past couple of years to medical marijuana as other state-level efforts to nullify or crowd out federal policymaking prerogatives have emerged. But I’m certainly open to entertaining other theories.
* According to the 2010 General Social Survey, 52.0% of Democrats and Democrat-leaners supported legalization of marijuana (margin of error: ±4.0%).
Cross-posted at OTB
When you read a blog post about the dollar coin and realize that the reason the author—who is a presumably intelligent mainstream Republican who was instrumental in reviving the dollar coin in the first place—only is arguing against any aggressive effort to replace the dollar bill with the dollar coin because there are some people in the Tea Party that support it, and thus can use some minor issues with replacing the dollar bill as bludgeons to argue against Tea Partiers in general (he actually tries to make the argument, presumably with a straight face, that taking the dollar bill out of circulation is somehow an “unfunded mandate,” and that minting a few billion coins is a greater exercise in corporate welfare for miners than keeping Crane’s cotton-based paper business in profit), it’s hard to draw any conclusion except that everyone has caught a case of campaign-induced stupidity and that there’s virtually no point in paying attention to most political commentary on any issue in domestic politics for the next 13 months.
I really, really don’t get the appeal of Mark Sanford to some libertarians. Then again, the fact that my best friend has taken a furlough (without time off, essentially amounting to unpaid labor) solely so the douche-nozzle can continue to grandstand as part of his quixotic effort to get the 2012 GOP presidential nomination might color my opinions somewhat.
The day Sanford or Sanford-lite (aka Rick Perry) identify a part of libertarianism they like other than “tax cuts” is the day that serious libertarians should to give them the time of day—and no sooner. I don’t expect that to happen any time soon.