Thursday, May 28, 2015

Is Rand Paul correct about the "right" to healthcare?

I came across an image online of Rand Paul with a quote about healthcare. An article about the image as well as Rand Paul's full quotation can be found here. I will not concern myself with what the article says as it merely confirms the veracity of the statement. I have seen a video with the full statement as well as the retort of Bernie Sanders.

As the article points out, and what is missing from the video, is that Paul made this statement with regards to access to emergency care. However, some people actually believe that healthcare is a right. Some justify this conclusion based on the constitutional guarantee of right to life and healthcare is needed to ensure we can continue to live.

This is a misunderstanding of what right to life means. No where in the constitution is anyone granted a right to live only that they shall not be denied the right to life without due process. The Declaration of Independence does assert that all Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are inalienable rights. The constitution clarifies what this means by saying you shall not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.

Those who advocate for a right to healthcare on the claim that the right to life guarantees it must then accept that you have no right to liberty. This is what Rand Paul's claim amounts to.

Everyone cannot have access to unlimited healthcare. Healthcare resources are finite. There are only 3 ways to ensure that people do get access to healthcare.

1. Through peaceful, voluntary means. This is the only means compatible with a civil and just society. Healthcare is given based on a voluntary exchange with the provider of the healthcare service with payment by the consumer or voluntarily by a third party or as a purely voluntary act of the provider for those who are not able to afford it.

2. The second option is through stealing from a third party in order to pay the healthcare provider. This is the means that Bernie Sanders advocates and is the primary means that healthcare is provided in much of the uncivilized first world that practices socialized medicine.

3. The third option if no one is willing to provide the service voluntarily and no one is willing to accept stolen money in exchange for there services, the only option is to force the provider to provide the healthcare service. This is clearly a last resort but anyone who believes that you have a right to healthcare must admit that slavery is acceptable as a means to provide said healthcare.

It is this final option Rand was talking about. He is right. Ultimately the right to healthcare in the positive sense must mean that slavery will be used as a last resort.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Is "Does God exist?" an important question?

I hear believers, usually those about to argue for God's existence, claim that the question "Does God exist?" is an important question. Is it? I do not think so.

There are two possibilities that the realities of the world we live in leave use. Either God does not care about our well being or God does not exist. The massive suffering in the world leaves only these options.

Some might say that God does care but is unable to do anything. This is the thesis of Harold Kushner's book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. But if there is a being somewhere who is impotent to act to stop even a little suffering in this world, how can this same being have created the universe. The power to create something from nothing could easily be used to feed starving masses.

Some people claim that Atheists are simply mad at God. And surely if such a creature existed we would have much to be mad about. I do not need to even point out the little suffering in my life, there is so much suffering in this world. If God exists, he is making no effort to reduce suffering. If he cared about our welling being, he would reduce suffering. Therefore, if God exists, he does not care about our well being.

Some believers, desperate to cling to a belief in a good God, claim that God has a greater plan. But God is supposed to be all knowing. Is God not smart enough to achieve his plan without so much suffering? If God does not know how to achieve his plan without human suffering or does not have the power to so achieve his plan, clearly he is not a god.

So we are left with two options, either God does not exist or he does not care about us. If God does exist, then he is irrelevant to us as he does not care. If he does not exist, God matters even less. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Minimum Wage and Employee Turnover.

Let me start with this, I oppose minimum wage on purely moral grounds. Minimum wage laws threaten violent action against people entering into peaceful, voluntary mutually beneficial contracts who terms the supports of minimum wage laws do not support. For the same reasons I oppose the drug war, laws against prostitution or other types of consensual sex between adults, the FDA and other laws and regulations that create victimless crimes.

However, some people have started looking at studies on the effects of minimum wage to try to justify the aggression they support. One of the supposed economic benefits that minimum wage brings in reduced employee turnover.

Economic benefits are irrelevant to me. If you claimed that to avoid economic collapse we needed to make a human sacrifice to Mammon, I would tell you to start stockpiling supplies.

The claim has some superficial validity, though. And desperate to justify the violation of rights, some on the left will point to studies that show that an increased minimum wage can reduce employee turnover and thereby reduce the costs of employee training.

In some cases, a business may not be paying a high enough wage and would save money in employee training costs by raising the wage. In these particular cases, a higher wage is more than offset by the lower training costs.

There are two clear problems with this claim. The first is that it is not clear that all or even most companies will save money by raising wages and lowering training costs. In fact, some companies may actually be better off lowering wages below the current minimum wage, which leads to the second problem, government has no incentive to find the correct wage.

No only does government have no incentive to choose the correct wage, they have a huge incentive to overshoot that wage to appeal to voters.There is also no reason to assume that the best wage is the same for all jobs. Jobs that are less labor intensive and less risky would tend to have lower wages. Jobs that are more physically intense may need a higher wage to keep employees from leaving from exhaustion and burn out. But a one size fits all approach does not meet the needs of either types of work.

If some employers should have a higher wage, we should educate them. Using coercion does not inform them that they might be better off, it only violates their rights.