Individuals in Community

As she so often does, Jessica brings us back to our foundations. In her post yesterday, she brought forward something that we need to remember. When she says,

In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male or female. Why? Because Christ loves each of us for the unique individual we are. He also calls us to follow him, and in doing that we are part of a community of ‘saints’, and we have a common duty to each other; we are called to love one another.

She is exactly on point. Christianity brought to us the concept of individuality. But, and this is important, it brought us the concept of individuality within a community. Often that is something we forget, that we owe a duty, we have an obligation to the others in our community, whether it is our family, our church, our town, our state, our nation, or even our world. Granted as it spreads out, it becomes rather diffuse, but it remains.

We have an obligation to those too young, or too old, to those not able to work for any reason. Frankly, I suspect we did harm to ourselves as individuals and as a community when we delegated that duty to the State. It was a better system, to my mind, anyway, when it was carried out by the family, the church, or a very local government, say the township. Almost automatically the shirkers would be told to get a job, and quit living off others, and it was a shameful thing not to carry one’s weight without reason.

But the duty remains, and it remains ours, however, we choose to carry it out. Nobody, least of all St. Paul, thought that we are all equal in abilities, interests, or anything else. We simply aren’t. Here in America, we stated long ago that we are born with equal rights and are equal before the law, that comes down from English law, of course. That doesn’t mean we are going to have equal outcomes for any of a multitude of reasons. When we try to force equal outcomes we always do injustice to someone.

Sometimes it might be the poor, other times the rich, sometimes both. And that is the perniciousness of identity politics. It comes from believing that the pie is stagnant and all we can do is change the relative portions. This is simply wrong. The pie is unmeasurably larger than it was even 70 years ago, let alone in the days when Christ walked the earth. In truth, the life that Thomas Jefferson lived had more similarity to life in Biblical times, than it does with ours. Think about that, most of human progress has happened in the last 250 years, as we built upon the shoulders of others. That also speaks to the great wisdom of our Founders that they were able to write things that were obviously true then, and are true now, and will always be true.

They (and their European, mostly British) contemporaries were able to discern mostly from their study of history, the best (or at least, least worst) ways to organize government to protect each and every one of us. Was it perfect? Of course not. To make it happen, they had to make compromises, slavery amongst them. But if you read Washington, or Jefferson, fairly, you will soon find that they detested slavery, but could not, in their day, find a solution. I’d  bet that both agreed with Lincoln, they would never choose to be either a slave or a master, but they ended up as one of those things, and others ended up as their slaves. But they also thought, and I’ll not contest their thinking, that in their day, the slaves were likely better off as it was, until they could be brought to being able to function effectively in society.

You all know that here, we often celebrate the individual, and I think we are right to do so. But the individual needs to be in a community, for himself, yes, but also to benefit the community. If one reads Adam Smith, one will find that the basis of free trade is exactly that: free. Anything which impairs two people from making a deal that they think is mutually beneficial hurts one, or both, of them. Keep that in mind as you read of the various regulatory schemes that devolve more and more power away from the people involved always in favor of government regulation.

 

Why are EpiPens so Expensive?

EpipenThis is pretty interesting, not to mention rather disgusting.

The outrage of the week is the exorbitant rise in the cost of the EpiPen Auto-Injector. Predictably, the progressive left immediately jumped into full battle mode and trotted out its favorite boogie – capitalism. And just as predictably, they are looking to government to fix it.

The price to cash-paying customers for EpiPens is up some 600 percent to 700 percent over the past decade, with cash customers paying as much as $840 for a two-pack – though coupons are available that would bring the price down to around $650. (Hoping to dampen criticism and head off congressional hearings, Mylan announced yesterday it would begin offering a savings card to reduce the cost by as much as $300.) This is for a $2 ($4 for a two-pack) dose of medicine – a medicine available in Canada for about $100 without a prescription.

So EpiPen maker Mylan is coming under the scrutiny of the congressweasels – although that scrutiny has been tempered by the revelation that Mylan’s CEO Heather Bresch is the daughter of Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Over the last several days, Senators Chuck Grassley, Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal and Representative Elijah Cummings and others have called for information, investigations and explanations from and of Mylan. Klobuchar and Blumenthal are calling for price fixing – a form of collectivism that always fails and leads to shortages and more corruption.

If that’s where they’re looking, they’re looking in the wrong place.

In the years 2012 and 2013, Mylan spent about $4 million lobbying Congress and the Food and Drug Administration. The result is a defacto monopoly on epinephrine injectors. The FDA’s rules require companies with competing injectors to exceed the specifications required by Mylan, and so far the FDA has killed or stymied almost every potential competitor that’s come along. One epinephrine injector allowed into the market is dubbed “inferior” and rarely prescribed.

In 2013 Congress passed the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act that provides schools with financial incentives (read money from the federal treasury) to stock epinephrine injectors in case of emergency. The approved injectors are EpiPens, of course. The primary lobbying group pushing the bill was the group Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). The primary corporate sponsor of FARE is Mylan.

EpiPens have an FDA-mandated one-year expiration meaning, whether used or not, patients are cowed into tossing their old ones in the trash and replacing them and the doctors write new prescriptions each year. The government, through Medicare and Medicaid, pay whatever Mylan decrees the price to be, sans applicable deductibles.

via Capitalism is not to blame for exorbitant rise in price of EpiPen – Personal Liberty®

You see what has happened here, I think. They came up with a good idea, and then they got the government to guarantee a monopoly by regulating all others off the market and then mandating a short shelf life (which may or may not be justified) thereby continuing the sales momentum.

Nothing even vaguely capitalistic about the whole story, it’s simply a matter of using government to promote your product. EpiPen may be the greatest thing since canned beer, or the worst since Nero bought a fiddle. I simply don’t know. What I do know is that if there were three, or five, or thirty competing models from various companies, you’d be unlikely to be paying $840 for a two-pack, and doing it every year.

The Rise Of Progressivism And Administrative Agency In American History

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Ronald J. Pestritto, dean of the graduate school of statesmanship at Hillsdale College, joined The Federalist Radio Hour to discuss the rise of progressivism in American history and it’s role in shaping our government and modern politicians.

Pestritto’s research on the birth of American progressivism has lead him across the party lines as well as to politicians like Woodrow Wilson. “It’s really amazing how thoroughly [progressivism] comes to dominate politics and political culture toward the end of the 19th century,” Pestritto said. “The idea of progress and the power of that is deeply embedded.” […]

Later in the hour, Domenech and Pestritto discussed whether constitutional limits and ideas are even something that voters actually care about anymore. “Since the election of Barack Obama, we’ve had an extraordinary window of opportunity… to talk about constitutional principles,” Pestritto said. “I worry that the current election cycle season may mark the closing of that window.”

via The Rise Of Progressivism And Administrative Agency In American History

Pretty interesting stuff, I think you’ll enjoy it.

A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down: Now what?

This has been kicking around in my files for a month now, seems like the best-laid plans… In any case, as it grew less timely, I wonder if it hasn’t become important. I rather think it has. Seems to me that what he speaks of here is becoming more true in the US, at least, every day. A huge amount of the day-to-day reality of how politics is done is this country has been uprooted, on both sides. And so all is in flux.

How we put it back together to make it work (or not) is likely to be to be a large part of the question going forward. And do remember it’s not just us. Brexit in the UK, much of the turmoil caused by the Islamists in Europe, has much the same cause.

In large measure, I think all of the enemies of freedom around the world are sensing that the system is weak at the moment and that this may be their opportunity. They could be right, but they don’t have to be. How we answer the basic questions going forward will answer that question.

Western political systems are in the middle of a realignment. The way we think of left and right is a relic of the Cold War. Reality is finally catching up with us, several years late, and doing away with obsolete political movements and parties.

We saw direct evidence of this when, on both sides of the Atlantic, ordinary people finally had a chance to circumvent their nations’ political elites. In the United States, Trump used his wealth and high profile to sidestep party donors, special-interest groups and political correctness.

In the United Kingdom, the referendum on European Union membership vested power temporarily in the British voting public, not Cabinet ministers or party whips.

These unusual circumstances exposed profound but long-hidden fault lines in both countries’ political systems. I knew these fault lines existed, but I was surprised by how quickly they devastated the status quo.

The American conservative movement, for instance, at least as we knew it before Trump’s entry into the presidential race last summer, no longer exists. Whether by accident or design, Trump ignored the reference points of left and right, putting together a coalition of Middle Americans who don’t care about ideological purity. Coming from old-fashioned Democratic and Republican backgrounds, these voters are united by a cultural conservatism that used to be standard in both parties. They care about pragmatic action on a handful of issues, mainly immigration, political correctness, crime and jobs.

Something similar happened in Britain. Outside the London cloister, Labour voters overwhelmingly rejected the metropolitan version of left-wing politics. Along with many shire Tories, they have specific views on sovereignty, independence and immigration. Just as in the US, this broad cultural conservatism used to be a given within each party until cosmopolitanism took its place.

We are heading for a politics in which the divisions are no longer just left and right, at least not in the sense we’ve used those terms for the past few decades. The shift is splitting all current movements into nationalist and internationalist wings – or perhaps populist and establishment, middle class and upper class, or urban and provincial.

This is happening because so many of the traditional features of left and right no longer apply to them. A working-class white person seeking representation used to find it in the left. Now what does he get? A movement telling him to check his “privilege”. A conservative used to be able to count on the right to make the case for cultural assimilation. Now he, too, is told to be quiet and make way for “progress”.

via A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down – CatholicHerald.co.uk

Like so much of what we write here, we have to answer the questions for ourselves. I’m not sure that there are correct answers, in aggregate, you have to answer based on our knowledge and bedrock philosophy. So do I.

The Immorality of Guaranteeing Minimum Standards of Living

184I’ve had times over the years when I thought Erick Erickson was the greatest thing since canned beer, and I’ve had times when I swore he burned down the brewery. Life is like that, we don’t always agree, and we got where we are by different routes. But the other day he wrote about the so-called living wage that the Democrats prattled on about last week. He’s completely right and here’s an excerpt.

The Democrats have discovered a new right. It is the right of people to live a certain lifestyle at a certain income if people work forty hours a week.

It sounds like a wonderful idea. Why shouldn’t Americans be guaranteed a certain level of income for hard work? If you disagree with the idea, you might just be a cruel and heartless person. Well, put me in the cruel and heartless camp. The bumper sticker idea will have long range and terrible consequences.

First, life is not fair. The Democrats are championing this idea to gloss over the fact that their ideas have caused economic stagnation. Instead of allowing the private sector to thrive, they just want to raise taxes from the successful and give to those who are not successful. But life is inherently not fair. Some people will always have better jobs and some people will make better life choices.

Second, this is welfare disguised. By the 1990s — when Bill Clinton was president — we learned that some people could get comfortable living on a welfare check and checked out of work. Their children spiraled into a cycle of dependency and poverty. In Genesis, God put Adam and Eve to work in the garden. There is something soul nourishing about work. When we all get to Heaven we will all have jobs. Getting people comfortable not working sucks their souls away and destroys their families.

But putting people to work and guaranteeing them a lifestyle does much the same. It encourages complacency and saps the desire to get ahead for many people.

via The Immorality of Guaranteeing Minimum Standards of Living | The Resurgent

Boy, he said a mouthful there. If you’re willing to pay people enough to live somewhat comfortably without working, people are willing to not work. Well, Duh, who’d a thunk it!

Along the same line, know what else doesn’t work? Pricing labor above its level. Steven Hayward found a report that the City of Seattle commissioned on how their new $11/ hour minimum wage is working out.

So it’s fun to notice this morning that the city of Seattle, which threw out both shoulders patting itself on the back for raising its minimum age to $11 an hour last year, is finding the results are . . . not so good. Seattle commissioned a study by a group of economists, who reported in a few days ago:

Yet the actual benefits to workers might have been minimal, according to a group of economists whom the city commissioned to study the minimum wage and who presented their initial findings last week.

The average hourly wage for workers affected by the increase jumped from $9.96 to $11.14, but wages likely would have increased some anyway due to Seattle’s overall economy. Meanwhile, although workers were earning more, fewer of them had a job than would have without an increase. Those who did work had fewer hours than they would have without the wage hike.

Accounting for these factors, the average increase in total earnings due to the minimum wage was small, the researchers concluded. Using their preferred method, they calculated that workers’ earnings increased by $5.54 a week on average because of the minimum wage. Using other methods, the researchers found that the minimum wage hike actually caused total weekly earnings to drop — by as much as $5.22 a week. . .

If employers cannot stay in business while paying their staff more, they will either hire fewer people or give their workers fewer hours. As a result, even if wages per hour increase, workers’ total earnings could decline. . .

They attributed a wage increase of about $0.73 an hour for low-income workers to the minimum wage, and another $0.45 an hour to the improving economy. After the increase, Seattle’s workers got about seven more hours in a quarter. Workers’ hours increased even more in other parts of the state, however, leading the researchers to conclude that the minimum wage reduced the number of hours worked quarterly by 3.2, roughly 15 minutes each week.

Those figures do not include workers without jobs. The economists estimated that the minimum wage decreased the share of workers with jobs by about 1.2 percentage points.

As Glenn Reynolds likes to say: Unexpectedly!TM

via: Minimum Wage, Maximum Ignorance

Unexpectedly™, indeed. Unexpectedly,™ every conservative and every economist who said this would happen, was right still again.

Unexpectedly™ still again who did the liberals, Democrats, and media (Yes, I know, I repeated myself twice there) hurt the most?

Why, of course, the poor and the jobless, it’s what they do best!

Unexpectedly! ™

Party of the Rich (and Privileged)

583828184-former-new-york-city-mayor-michael-bloomberg-gestures.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2An interesting article and the author may well have several points here. Some of what he says, I agree, and as usual, some of it I disagree with. But it’s undoubtedly true that the Democrats have become the party of the rich, especially the newly rich, who got that way on the back of the taxpayers.

There are very few endorsements that are going to matter in this presidential election, but Michael Bloomberg’s might be one of them. On Wednesday night in Philadelphia, the three-term mayor of New York City called on his fellow independents to vote for Hillary Clinton. “I am asking you to join with me not out of party loyalty, but out of love of country,” Bloomberg said. Why? Is it because he’s so enthusiastic about her many virtues? Nope, it’s because a Trump presidency would be an unmitigated disaster: “He would make it harder for small businesses to compete, do great damage to our economy, threaten the retirement savings of millions of Americans, lead to greater debt and more unemployment, erode our influence in the world, and make our communities less safe.” Ouch. […]

Well, much of that is BS, at least in my opinion. Trump is not likely to be good for small business, no statist really, let alone a protectionist is, but he’s at least arguably better than Clinton. Nobody, at least since Reagan, has really been good for small business, although Bill Clinton’s term wasn’t terrible, but this is not the 90s. Clinton will be absolutely terrible, her support comes from the big business, cronyistic, corporatist bloc whose income depends on Washington, not real serving of the customer. That is also the weakness of Gary Johnson, his is a rather peculiar Libertarianism. Continuing:

It turns out Bloomberg wasn’t alone in this regard. There are millions of voters like Bloomberg—call them the “Bloombourgeoisie”—who might have voted for Romney if not for his stances on social issues, just as there are millions of voters who never would’ve voted for Romney if he hadn’t flip-flopped on abortion, and if he’d supported an amnesty for unauthorized immigrants. Republicans have built a coalition that is a far better fit for culturally conservative working-class whites than it is for the Bloombourgeoisie. If Donald Trump is any indication of where the GOP is heading, that trend will continue in the years to come.

Recently, Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at the think tank New America, argued that Democrats have replaced Republicans as the preferred party of America’s wealthiest voters. In 2012, Barack Obama won a larger share of the vote of households earning $220,000 or more than Mitt Romney, the first time since 1964 that voters in the top 4 percent of household incomes backed a Democrat over a Republican. It’s a safe bet that many of these well-off voters chose Obama over Romney for the same reasons Bloomberg did: RINO Romney was just too right-wing for their tastes. And if these voters couldn’t warm up to Romney, you can only imagine how they’d feel about Trump. […]

After all, it’s bankers’ bonuses that keep cab drivers, doormen, and servers of all kinds employed.

Where Bloomberg parts company with let-them-eat-cake types is in believing that low-wage workers should be provided with Medicaid, SNAP, and high-quality charter schools for their kids, because it’s the right thing to do and because, to be blunt, it’s an insurance policy against a reprise of the French Revolution. It’s not an entirely crazy political philosophy, and it’s shared by a decent number of upscale urban liberals and suburban moderates. Bloombergism is not far off from the progressive Republicanism once represented by Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits. What it’s emphatically not is Sanders-style socialism, which holds that the chief threat to democracy is the outsized power of “millionaires and billionaires” like, well, Michael Bloomberg.

via Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton shows the Democrats are the party of the rich.

I can’t speak for you, of course, but none of these candidates speak for me. I, and likely you, have a fair idea of which level I’ll pull, but it will be in no sense a celebration, and may well be the wake of ‘my America’ to the world’s detriment. We’ll simply have to see.

Hat tip to Cranach

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