“Free market” healthcare is a pipe dream of utopians

The healthcare market can’t function like a free market. Those who think it can are capitalist utopians.

Republicans voted yesterday to move forward the process on an unformed version of the Trumpcare healthcare bill. The concept behind Trumpcare (also known as “Obamacare repeal”), as expressed by Republicans, is to make the healthcare market function more like a free market. Cut down on regulations and make end users pay more for their own healthcare, the argument goes, and there will be more competition and lower prices.

There’s just one problem: the healthcare market can’t function like a free market. Those who think it can are capitalist utopians who haven’t learned from history—the flip-side of communist utopians.

Go directly to my explanation of why the principles of free markets are incompatible with healthcare.

Whenever communists are faced with the inevitable failures of communism and radical socialism—whether it be that of the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Khmer Cambodia, or present day examples like Cuba, North Korea, and burning Venezuela—they just as inevitably respond with one phrase, “True communism has never been tried.” No amount of data-points, no amount of evidence of human nature will ever convince them that communism doesn’t work. Nor will they be convinced that even if “true communism” hasn’t been tried, the many failures of revolutionary movements to implement true communism prove communism is fundamentally impossible to implement.

So it is with free market dogmatists. If high quality healthcare could be provided to the vast majority of people on the free market at reasonable prices, then you could look around the world for examples of a free market healthcare system working. If government regulations and universal healthcare distribution fundamentally destroys prosperity, then there would be no examples of prosperous countries with universal healthcare. American conservatives are hostile to the idea of explicitly looking to other countries (particularly “socialist” European countries) for guidance—“American Exceptionalism” and all—but looking at the world and at history is at least a good means to learn what works and doesn’t work in human civilization. It’s actually a very conservative thing to do to consider what works in practice, rather than relying on idealistic theories. After all, how do we know that communism doesn’t work?

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Migrants and Crime: Latest Data from Germany

Few days back, I wrote about Dr Cheryl Benard’s excellent article on Afghans unleashed on Europe, and why it’s not a migration, but an invasion. It was accused of xenophobia. Facts are not xenophobic, even though xenophobes often usurp facts to their nefarious purposes. Nonetheless, it is the duty of an academic to seek truth, rather than be subservient to any ideology.

I have previously written about why the argument of Jews fleeing Nazis and Syrian refugees being similar is flawed. I have also written why Europe is undergoing an insurgency, which includes a fifth column within European society. Paper by Thomas Hegghammer supports my view. I have also written in 2015, how it will invite justifiable ethno-nationalist backlash, especially from insular East Europe.

Today, new data, spotted by my fellow blogger Ben Sixsmith, came into sight and the implications are horrifying.

Here are the graphs from Germany. Foreigners (in orange) here mean European Non-Germans, as opposed to Asylum Seekers (in red) who are from Middle East and Africa. 

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Inheritance Tax and the Overton Window

Abi Wilkinson, part of the Guardian‘s quartet of progressive commentators Ellie O’wen Wilkinkriss (Ellie Mae O’Hagan, Owen Jones, Abi Wilkinson and Sam Kriss), supports raising the inheritance tax rate to 100%.

Well, I say supports. The column is a part of a series titled “Utopian Thinking” so it as at least somewhat speculative. But given that Wilkinson offers so many reasons to support this radical idea, with the only disadvantage she is willing to admit to being its unpopularity among other people, it is fair to treat it not as a curious thought experiment but as an attempt to push the Overton Window; or, in other words, to expand the ideological borders of mainstream leftism.

It is a profoundly bad idea. This is partly as its imposition would cause many to leave Great Britain. It is partly as it would encourage gaming the system. It is partly as it would require a vast authoritarian bureaucracy devoted to seizing private possessions. But these arguments alone surrender too much ground to Wilkinson. It is not just to take so much from people in the first place. 

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Donald Trump wants Republicans subservient to him

Jonah Goldberg writes about a “cult of personality” around Trump again this week. It’s a well-trodden subject, especially at National Review, in my own writings, and even from Trump’s own mouth (“I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue…”).

So far he hasn’t been able to translate his rabid base of supporters into much besides a solid 39 percent base of approval and a protective wall of Republican Congressmen who mostly want to do as little as possible to hold him accountable.

For all the Republicans have been leaking information favorable to Trump, going on TV making farciscle excuses, and (some of them) using questioning of Jim Comey to defend Trump, Trump has been shockingly ungrateful to Republicans for their help.

Over the past few weeks, he has attacked Jeff Sessions, his first Senate supporter, for recusing, questioned the allegiances of Ron Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General who put his credibility on the line to help Trump fire Comey, and publicly threatened to primary Sen. Dean Heller, who is facing one of the toughest reelection fights of a Republican Senator in 2018, while sitting next to him.

Trump is noted for his views on “loyalty”–which got him in trouble with Comey–but it’s all about loyalty for he, not for thee.

But if there’s one thing Trump is in no short supply of, it’s narcissism and brazenness. This afternoon, the long-time Democrat demanded Republicans rally around him.

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Israel, Eastern Europe And An Alliance Of Nationalists

The Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised eyebrows last week by meeting, among other leaders from Central and Eastern Europe, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Orban has been accused of stoking anti-semitism yet pledged to Netanyahu that he would protect the Hungarian Jewish minority.

Raised eyebrows shot higher when Netanyahu was recorded saying to the Hungarian, Polish, Czech and Slovakian leaders that EU policy was “crazy”. “I think Europe has to decide if it wants to live and thrive,” he suggested, “Or if it wants to shrivel and disappear.”

There was an element of realpolitik in the wily Netanyahu’s comments. It is simply untrue that European survival depends, as he went on to claim, on its stance on Israel. But exploiting the resentment that nationalist Central and Eastern European leaders feel towards the cosmopolitan supranationalists of Western Europe makes sense. He can link their desire for sovereignty to his struggle against opposition to and criticisms of Israel.

Still, it is interesting how much these nations have in common. 

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The curse of geography

This is not a blog post. More like a record.

Joy Reid, MSNBC host, and prominent “Resistance” leader tweeted this.

When corrected, she doubled down, and made a pig’s breakfast out of it.

Not only is this a colossal mistake, historically and geographically wrong, it’s borderline xenophobic. Only tweeted to her rabidly ignorant followers in a modern version of 2017 red baiting. It doesn’t matter where Trump’s wives are from, but hey ho.

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Poland, Trump, and Hungary: This is what illiberal democracy looks like

The election of Trump, the Law and Politics Party winning a majority in Poland in 2015, and Viktor Orbán’s government in Hungary; what they all have in common is not merely a right-wing bend, but a contempt for liberal democracy. So goes the narrative, which has been particularly on display since Trump’s speech in Poland, that “illiberal democracy” is threatening the underpinnings of democracy in the Western world and beyond.

Some of the more conservative-minded would say this argument is the resentment of the losers. Trump, Szydlo, and Orbán won their elections fair and square. Why should they be dismissed just because you disagree with them? “If a democracy now needs to be a tool for spreading liberalism, conservatives are by definition, not democratic,” Sumantra Maitra wrote for Quillette.

Here is the thing: the problem isn’t simply with policy preferences but with the normative structures of democracy itself. These governments are taking actions to solidify their own power, not just to advance ideological interests of the people, but to advance the personal and party-based interests of the leaders or the ruling parties in ways that strike at the legal and moral underpinnings of democracy and rule of law.

A few examples will illustrate what exactly is meant by illiberal democracy. In Poland, the ruling party is trying to enact a measure that would give them control over the composition of the judiciary. As reported by Politico Europe:

Poland’s parliament, under the leadership of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, passed a law dissolving an independent body responsible for the nomination of judges. At the same time, PiS submitted a draft law that would force the entire Supreme Court into retirement and give the country’s justice minister the ability to decide which judges can stay in their current roles.

Currently, Poland’s federal judges are appointed by a professional panel of lawyer. The Law and Justice party attacked the judges as leftists—the party chairman called the judiciary a “stronghold of post-communists”—and it is easy to see how a panel made up of lawyers could be attacked as “elitist” and biased to be more favorable towards political liberalism than the public, due to expected leanings within the field. Perhaps there is a case to be made for having judges appointed by the president, prime minister, parliament, or some combination thereof, as is done in places like the United States and South Korea. Although there are problems with the system in the U.S., which has resulted in the politicization of judicial appointments, there is a case to be made for some level of political accountability in the process.

The problem is that the manner by which Law and Justice is planning to implement this program appears meant to give their party control over the composition of the court

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Is Yoga really harmful? Depends on what you think “Yoga” is.

Recently, the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies published an article on the negative effects of Yoga in 350 participants New York, which states that it has caused severe pain in a third of those surveyed. So after 5000 years of standard practice of Yoga across the World, why is it only now people are seemingly becoming susceptible to injury and pain?

If we go back to the birthplace of yoga, and look at some of the most influential yogis and yoginis in India, you will find many have something in common. Take for instance Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, ‘The Father of modern yoga’ who is credited into reviving hatha yoga and being the architect behind the ever popular vinyasa. Krishnamacharya was mainly known as a healer, and used yoga to restore health. Similarly, B K S Iyengar, one of Krishnamacharya’s earliest students, throughout his childhood disease riddled his frail body and turned to yoga to restore his health. Despite 2 heart attacks through his life, he still died at the ripe age of 95, and still able to do a hand stand. Iyengar was a pioneer in bringing yoga abroad and founding the yoga practice known as Iyengar Yoga.

 

See a pattern? Here’s something interesting. I myself took up yoga, as a sufferer of joint disorders and chronic pain conditions, yoga was something that helped me recognise my body alignment, that paired with weight lifting and one on one coaching has helped me incredibly, knowing my misaligned my joints are and rectifying the problem instantly as I now read my body right. If I do it wrong, I’ll most likely dislocate a joint.

 

Yoga is theoretically, supposed to heal, restore and maintain a healthy life balance, aligning and strengthening by developing your relationship between mind, body and spirit. Some of the best yoga I have experienced has been more about the connection then the physical exercise and poses. Prana Kriya was something that connected me so much and so overwhelmingly that I cried after the session was over and it was more to do with breath control than long withstanding poses. Yoga is an art that takes time precision and immense concentration and listening to fully get to achieve the full benefits of.

 

Unfortunately, that’s where it went wrong in the West.

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What Good is Going to University Anyway?

Fraud has been perpetrated against the nation’s youth. It has been perpetrated by successive governments. This fraud is not tuition fees in higher education but the status granted to that education in the first place. Universities are pillars of civilisation but millions of men and women would be better off not going to them. Britain would save millions in the process. Before abolishing tuition fees, then, we should minimise worthless tuition.

Between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, the proportion of young people going into universities across the Western European Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development rose from about 20% to about 40%. Many, doubtless, have benefited from this evolution. Many, on the other hand, have not.

I could have lived without university. I took a mixed humanities course, with politics and creative writing, but learned nothing life and Wikipedia could not have taught me. I remember two things: my creative writing tutor telling me I used too many adjectives, which was true, and a politics lecturer claiming that everybody is bisexual, which is not.

(Aware of the pointlessness of the endeavour, I went home and signed up with a distance learning course. This was cheaper, obviously, and wasted a lot less time. I recommend it to potential undergraduates.)

Naturally, my work has little to do with either field.

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Call it what it is, an invasion

A recent important essay by Dr Cheryl Benard cannot come at a more appropriate time. She writes for The National Interest in a must read essay, where she highlights something so obvious that it barely needs any debate. Europe is undergoing a categorical invasion, in the form of unarmed, military aged men, looking to destroy the society from within. A few highlights from this essay:

If there’s one thing you need to read, it is this essay.

Dr Benard is no right wing nutty Islamophobe. She’s married to an Afghan American diplomat, Dr Zalmay Khalilzad, and has a stellar record of working with refugees for over a decade, and producing scholarship on the concept of Honour in Islam.

Unfortunately, I have been saying this for quite a while.

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