Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Go Pats! (and something on Libertarians)


I regret dropping that introductory philosophy course in college as I surmise we are descending into a rather classical argument about where the limits of individual rights and liberty end, and inter-individual responsibilities begin. Thomas Burke v Karl Marx maybe?

The element of the libertarian ideal (if I understand it correctly) that I have the most trouble with is that the individual's actions are somehow mystically disconnected from their consequences for others. If I, for instance employ a 10 year old to clean our toilets (an idea resurrected by the current Republican front runner for the Presidency), that 10 year old's welfare, health, longevity and future prospects are all affected. And no sane person would argue that a 10 year old ever has a choice in such matters should they be unfortunate enough to be compelled to clean toilets.

Or to use a less absurd, and much more controversial example, the individual mandate to purchase health insurance at the center of Obamacare so reviled by a majority of Americans represents an incontrovertible limitation upon individual economic liberty. Yet its absence allows anyone without insurance to impose the costs of their "liberty" upon the rest of us every time they present themselves to the healthcare system demanding  treatment. That event occurs thousands of times across the country every day. No ER may refuse to treat a patient.

I can of course think of an endless series of these annoying (and self serving) examples.  But summed together they reinforce my notion that we are all in this together, whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not. Most Americans alas don't wan't to acknowlege it, as they continue to demand an ever growing array of government services. all the while refusing to pay for them.

As far as licensing (of doctors, hairdressers etc), that's a fascinating story on its own. It has been elegantly argued that licensing, by restricting competition, benefits those who hold the license as much or more than it protects the welfare of those who use the licensee's services. Your beloved sister and I are delighted to belong to highest paid profession in the land, but there is no rational reason I can think of that our salaries should be multiples of our counterparts in medicine across the  industrialized world. We are the fortunate participants in a system gamed for us. 

Sorry about your Broncos. As coach Fox pointed out, one can't be +3 against Brady and hope to prevail. Hope we see you again in Foxboro in the post season

Happy Holidays to you and yours 


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