by Lucas Baumbach
Healthcare exchanges are a major topic of legislative discussion in 2012. Butch Otter of Idaho accepted millions of dollars from Obamacare to fund their development. Otter’s rationale for taking the money: exchanges are a government concept whose time has come, even if Obama invented the idea.
Exchanges, it turns out, ARE a great idea. Sadly, Obama thought of them before I did. The greatest benefit of the healthcare exchange is not the exchange. The last thing we need is another government bureaucracy to manage another aspect of our lives. The benefit is the question itself: when would it be appropriate for government to exchange things? One example jumps out in front. Government should be self-sacrificing and exchange bureaucratic largesse for freedom. Freedom (Liberty) is the goal. It fosters efficiency and progress. And, a free man gets to keep the product of his labor, or freely exchange it for money! What a motivator would be a freedom exchange!
Setting up a freedom exchange will take a lot of volunteers. But, it will not require a single taxpayer dollar. Everyone can opt in or opt out. It’s that easy. Liberty lovers will opt in and slave-minded folks will not. Later on, states can offer big programs to test the resolve of the liberty folks, and they may again opt for the slavery of public debt, if they aren’t careful.
Exchanges should always involve trading up for a better value. Public debt would be traded for freedom from debt. The aim is prosperity. Social Security is one of these public debts. This thirty-year-old wants a retirement income, when I retire in 2040. But, my grandparents and parents cheated the country’s future. Even if SS was completely solvent (which it isn’t), I could double my return on investment through private retirement decisions. That’s freedom to prosper!
Medicare would be the next government debt to exchange for medical liberty. 46% of US births are paid for by government Medicare. As customer #1 the government is writing the rules for healthcare; the sad result is less health liberty and fewer options.
Medicare is in debt on many levels. First it is indebted to doctors. They don’t get paid for their services. Medicaid approved doctors are cheated out of 25% of their services by legislated reduction in reimbursements. It just doesn’t pay, unless they rush patients through, like cattle. It is institutionalized malpractice.
Prices also have to go up so doctors can stay in business (or at least pay their student debts). The cost to quality is dire: the doctor gives me 25% less service, just because I’m on government healthcare. 25% less service results in 25% less lifespan, if not 100% less lifespan. Freedom to survive illness would be the exchange. That’s my preferred option, but I am called an extremist.
Of course, as a good politician, I am told to preserve this inferior health program for the legions of statist seniors. Why not? They didn’t care enough about my future to preserve a superior free market. Why should I want to do them a good turn by giving them a free system?
The debt of income tax is an assault on individual liberty. Freedom exchange would allow you to keep more of the money you worked for and own. But, today, the government says you are in debt. By default you owe a portion of your labor. That is the definition of slavery. If freedom doesn’t include owning the fruit of one’s labor, what does it include?
Even Marxist materialists acknowledge that alienation from one’s own labor is an a priori issue. On the other hand, Christians shouldn’t find this hard to swallow. Tax-free income is a God-given right. Labor is property. Each individual owns his labor and the product of his labor. Not even God taxes income. Tithes are to be freely given not mandated. Increasing freedom requires eliminating the tax that comes out of the wage earner’s paycheck. The Bible says to pay the wage-earner in a timely fashion, lest he curse the master for not paying in a timely fashion. Millions of Americans are cursing their government. Income tax is a wedge between the people and their government that must go.
Exchange unemployment tax for freedom. Unemployment tax is really employment tax. Does it really make sense to punish a business for employing a man? This doesn’t show up on your pay stubs, like the first three taxes mentioned here, but it is an income-related tax. This tax is a percentage of your paycheck paid by your employer; it is money he could have given you a raise with. Instead it goes to Washington DC. Consumers of products pick up the cost of this in the inflated cost of goods that a company makes. Unemployment (ie employment tax) is a perfect example of how government taxes anything that moves, coming and going. If they could, they would institute a pre-employment tax, or a post-employment tax. Maybe even an employment interview tax. Why not? The obvious exchange here is an exchange of government-owned labor for individual-owned labor. And, this one is a liability to business.
Exchange worker’s compensation tax for freedom. Workers compensation is required by law. This is the original catastrophic health insurance. If you get injured at work, your injury-related costs are paid by worker’s compensation. First, it increases workplace carelessness. Employees that don’t worry about consequences are accident prone. The insurance is paid by the employer 100%, so it is hidden. The employee doesn’t even have skin in the game, no pun intended. Allegedly this tax keeps the burden of injured employees off society. That would be true, if it weren’t mandated upon every employer and raising the cost of goods. Again exchanging a government mandate for individual responsibility (FREEDOM), would be a great idea.
Exchange public schools for homeschooling: You can exchange education taxes that you don’t use for freedom! Yes, you can! Just stop paying property taxes, and support reforms to protect property from tax foreclosures. They are teaching your child about homosexual marriage and how to have en-condomed, pre-marital sex. Do you support that? It is the right and responsibility of every parent to feed and educate their own children. Foisting child husbandry on government is not the wisest use of your tax dollars. Does government feed and care for our domestic pets? No! Maybe we should give our children the same respect and freedom we give to Fido. Government-free education.
Exchange registration (the insurance mandate and licensure of motor vehicles) for the freedom to move and transport in any fashion. It is pure inequality to require motor vehicle registration and not horse and carriage registration. Why doesn’t government demand bicycle registration, canoe registration, and snow-shoe registration? Does the use of a motor really require a government tax? The government rule is, “If it moves, tax it.” Make registration voluntary. And, if you neighbor doesn’t get his skateboard registered, then you shun him. Or, just let communities track themselves.
Federal tyranny: most people haven’t heard of this. That’s because the federal government is so kind. The federal government follows the limits of the constitution, and it never, ever interprets two little clauses to indefinitely expands its own power.
But, if this ever ceases to be the case states can exchange federal tyranny for freedom. A synonym of freedom in this case is state sovereignty. The federation is made of many sovereign nation states, just as described by Alexis de Tocqueville. The concept that primacy rests in the 25 square mile swamp in Maryland is silly. The politicians of the individual sovereign states are problematic enough without giving them the excuse continually that they are just following orders from DC. It is the Nuremberg trial syndrome every day in each of the 50 state capitols. Freedom from federal distractions is a must. We can then focus all of our dissatisfaction on our local politicians. I know they will love that.
The free marketplace of goods is rivaled only by the free marketplace of ideas. Exchanging bad ideas for good ideas is good. Exchanging socialism for self-governance is good. The idea that government can do most everything in a productive and beneficial way is bad. So, by all means exchange, but do not exchange liberty for slavery. Exchange debt (slavery) for liberty!