Liberty, Politics, Uncategorized

What Right Do We Have To Healthcare?

This is a research paper I wrote in 2016.

What Right Do We Have to Healthcare?

The 2016 election is once again shining the political light on healthcare in the United States. On Hillary Clinton’s website, the headline concerning the issue of healthcare reads, “Affordable health care is a basic human right.” Her competition in the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders, similarly says on his website, “Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege.” This idea that healthcare is a right is not new. As Sanders states on his webpage, universal healthcare has been a goal of the Democratic Party since Franklin D. Roosevelt. By examining what a right is, what a right to healthcare implies and what it looks like, and then compare healthcare to what rights are it can be determined that publicly funded healthcare is not a right.

A right must be defined before making the decision of whether or not healthcare qualifies as a right. The root of the study of human rights can be traced back to the ancient Greek philosophers. A more focused view of the subject however can start a little more recent than that. In 1625, Hugo Grotius in his work The Law of War and Peace put forward the idea of the need for mutual consent in people’s interactions. In his essay “Why Human Rights are Called Human Rights,” Alan Sussman explains that Grotius’ idea of consent comes from the ownership of our own bodies. With that control we are capable of influencing our interactions with those around us (176). This idea of ownership of our bodies and interaction through mutual consent is a good start on the journey to discover what a right is.

The next step is to look into a man named John Locke. In his book Launching Liberalism Michael Zuckert does a very in depth study of Locke’s philosophy. In his study of Lockean Natural Rights, Zuckert points out that instead of using the word “rights” Locke talks about “property”. While the word “right” had already been used in many different ways, property still held the notion of ownership that was exclusive to the owner (194). Much like Grotius before him, Locke came to the conclusion that people owned their own bodies. Part of Locke’s theory of people’s ownership of themselves is that people’s choices throughout their lives connect to form who that person is. He describes this as the “I”. This ownership is the beginning of a person’s property (195). Zuckert goes on to point out that if one person can claim the right to personal ownership, then everyone else can claim ownership of themselves as well (196). While previous philosophers were trying to look to nature for law and justice, Locke put forward the idea that if someone decides to violate another person’s property that creates conflict based on the ownership rather than some natural form of justice. To prevent this kind of conflict, Locke would use a proper government whose purpose it was to protect the property of the individuals under that protection (196).

Immanuel Kant came after Locke with an expansion to Locke’s description of rights. In an article titled “Rights,” authors Manuel Velasquez, Claire Andrea, Thomas Shanks, S.J., and Michael J. Meyer explain Kant’s idea. They explain that Kant believed that people have a “dignity” that must be respected by others. For this reason people cannot control other people by force. So where Locke said people were property of themselves and so could not be controlled by others, Kant believed that people have dignity which needs to be preserved and so they cannot be controlled by others. Kant’s theory goes a step further though and introduces the idea that self-ownership is not enough and that dignity requires that a person is entitled to certain basics, if that dignity is to be maintained. This is where Locke and Kant go their separate ways.

The article “Rights” goes on to explain that there are two different types of rights that come out of Kant’s theory. They separated into positive and negative rights. According to Zuckert, Locke’s theory is negative rights only (196). “Rights” explains negative rights are rights to your own property. The only requirement from others is that they not interfere with these rights. Positive rights on the other hand are the rights, that Kant talks about that require something from other people. “Rights” also refers to positive rights as “welfare rights.” This refers to the basics of Kant’s theory that are required to maintain a person’s dignity. If universal healthcare is determined to be a right, it would be a positive right because it requires action from others.

In 2011, there was a Senate subcommittee hearing discussing emergency room usage and costs. In this hearing Senator and Medical Doctor Rand Paul laid out what a right to healthcare really means:

With regard to the idea of whether or not you have a right to health care, you have to realize what that implies. It is not an abstraction. I am a physician, that means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. It means that you are going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses. If you have a right to their services basically once you imply a belief and a right to someone’s services, do you have a right to plumbing, do you have a right to water, do you have a right to food, you are basically saying that you believe in slavery. You are saying you believe in taking and extracting from another person.

Our founding documents were very clear about this. You have a right to pursue happiness, but there is no guarantee of physical comfort, there is no guarantee of concrete items. In order to give something concrete or someone’s service, you have to take it from someone. So there is an implied threat of force.

Senator Paul is making the case that defining healthcare as a positive right, requires the negative rights of those required for that service to be violated. He refers to the founding documents, assumed to be the Bill of Rights. He rightly states that the documents do not include things received from others whether it is items or service, but rather protections from government violating the rights of its citizens.

Healthcare is treated as a right in some countries already. One of those countries is Sweden. According to an article on the news site The Local, in 2014 one in ten Swedes had private health insurance even though there was a publicly funded option. The reason for this is that the supply for health care could not keep up with the demand. The wait times in the public system were too long. Under the private insurance those wait times were significantly decreased. If a person was lucky enough to have employer provided health insurance or pay privately then that person was seen and treated in a timely manner.  The point of declaring healthcare a right is to make sure everyone gets the care they need regardless of economic class, but even when it is treated as a right by being paid for by the government the privileged members of the society still receive care that the less privileged  cannot.

The gray area of positive rights is that there needs to be supply of those declared rights. That is the point Senator Paul was making concerning declaring healthcare a right. Where negative rights come from a person’s ability to do or possess something provided by their own merits, positive rights need to be supplied by another person. When there is not enough supply to provide the declared positive right, the right disappears. If a right no longer exists based on lack of someone else to provide it, the question must be asked whether it existed at all.

It has been established that both Locke and Kant agree that people have ownership of their lives.  Both agree that because of that ownership forcing someone to do something against their will is wrong. As a negative right, a right to healthcare means that people should not be prevented from pursuing care. The right to healthcare espoused by many in politics today is a right to have healthcare provided by others. That is a positive right to healthcare. In order for healthcare to be treated in such a way it would require that people’s negative rights be violated. In most cases where this is acted out, such as in Sweden, everybody pays extra taxes to pay for the public healthcare system. According to Kyle Pomerleau of the Tax Foundation, through income and payroll taxes Sweden raises revenues of 22.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) versus the United States that raises 15 percent of GDP. Taxes are a type of force by government. The entire population’s negative right to their property is violated by being forced to pay for other people’s positive right to healthcare.
All three of the philosophers looked at believe rights to begin with value in the individual. Consent, property, and dignity all require that people belong to themselves. By that basis people have no right to deny others their basic rights to take by force from the product of their labor and use it for healthcare for others. They do however have a right to deal with others to receive care through mutual agreement. If force is used to prevent such interactions, that would then be a violation of individual rights.

Through study of what rights are, what a right to healthcare implies, and comparison of the definition of rights to application of a right to healthcare, it has been determined that people do not have a right to publicly funded healthcare. It has also been determined that people do have a right to receive healthcare as long as all participants are acting of their own free will. Such a standard ensures that no one has to give up their individual rights for the sake of another.

 

 

Works Cited

“Hillary Clinton on Health Care.” Health Care. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

“Medicare for All: Leaving No One Behind.” Bernie Sanders RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

Pomerleau, Kyle. “How Scandinavian Countries Pay for Their Government Spending.” Tax      Foundation. N.p., 10 June 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Sussman, Alan. “Why Human Rights Are Called Human Rights.” Ethics & International Affairs

Cambridge University Press) 28.2 (2014): 171-182. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Mar. 2016.

“Swedes Buy Insurance to Skip Long Health Queues.” The Local. N.p., 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 15          Apr. 2016

United States. Cong. Senate. Health, Committee on Education, Labor, and Pensions.             https://www.gpo.gov. 112 Cong., 1st sess. S. Doc. 789. N.p., 18 July 2013. Web. 7 Mar.    2016.

Velasquez, Manuel, Claire Andre, Thomas Shanks, S. J., and Michael J. Meyer. “Rights.”         Ethical Decision Making. Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, 8 Aug. 2014. Web. 16            Apr. 2016.

Zuckert, Michael P. Launching Liberalism: On Lockean Political Philosophy. Lawrence: U of           Kansas, 2002. Print.

 

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Liberty, Politics, Uncategorized

Captain America vs. Capitalism?

In 2014, Steve Rogers had the Super Soldier Serum removed from his body. This caused him to return to his natural age (very old). Because of this, he passed on the title of Captain America to his longtime friend and partner, Sam Wilson (Falcon). In a world focused on identity politics, this was a big deal because Sam is black. Marvel often uses the Captain America series to tackle political topics and by switching Captains they were able to adjust the viewpoint of their Captain America.

For those of you who may not be a comic reader, many comics use storytelling that span many issues known as story arcs. The first arc in Captain America: Sam Wilson (2015) starts out with the immigration issue, but becomes a story of the evils of Big Business. Captain America finds out that the violence at the border is actually caused by a company called Serpent Solutions. Serpent Solutions is supposed to be a group of super villains attempt at “going legit.” Their business model seems to be create products by any means necessary (kidnapping, human experiments, and murder) and then sell the patents to big corporations.

Screenshot_20180203-110408

Now, I think most people would easily agree this is a bad practice. Captain America is right to put a stop to Serpent Solutions and the corporations who turn a blind eye to their practices and profit from using their “services.” My issue though is that while these are bad people, the buzz words and justifications used by the bad guys connect their philosophy with that of capitalism, free markets, and liberty. They even outright name Ayn Rand, as seen below.

Screenshot_20180203-114638

20180203_115114
Cap was experimented on earlier in the story. That is why he is a werewolf here. Don’t worry, it wears off.

Not once throughout the arc is this distortion of what capitalism is refuted for the perversion that it is. The reader is only presented with the villain’s philosophy being tied to Ayn Rand, corporations, and Donald Trump (“make America Marvelous again”). So, I am going to take this opportunity to enlighten people about what a Free Market is and is not.

There are many terms that all roughly describe the same thing. Free market, free enterprise, capitalism, laissez-faire are all examples of the basic idea of an economy grounded in private property and little government control. As an example of this idea, I will use an excerpt from Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, since she was called out by Marvel in this story.

“I work for nothing but my own profit- which I make by selling a product they need to men who are willing and able to buy it. I do not produce it for their benefit at the expense of mine, and they do not buy it for my benefit at the expense of theirs; I do not sacrifice my interests to them nor do they sacrifice theirs to me; we deal as equals by mutual consent to mutual advantage-and I am proud of every penny that I have earned in this manner… I have made my money by my own effort, in free exchange and through the voluntary consent of every man I dealt with-the voluntary consent of those who employed me when I started, the voluntary consent of those who work for me now, the voluntary consent of those who buy my product… I could say to you that you do not serve the public good-that nobody’s good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices-that when you violate the rights of one man, you have violated the rights of all man, and a public of rightless creatures is doomed to destruction.”

At the beginning of this passage, you may think Marvel had the right idea. That is until the phrase, “mutual consent,” is used. It is that spirit that continues on through the rest of the passage. The idea of consent and voluntarism. That is the heart of the Free Market. The ability to decide for yourself what you want to do with your own property.

So, let’s look at what Serpent Solutions and the companies who hired them were doing. They were kidnapping people. That is, they took people by force without their consent. They experimented on them without their consent. They murdered people. That is, they forcefully ended the lives of others. All of this action is the violation of people’s rights. Clearly, these actions are not what Ayn Rand promoted.

But what about some of the other things Viper talks about when trying to justify his actions to Captain America? He brings up regulations and asks, “where in the Constitution is anyone promised clean air?” This is a common straw man when discussing over regulation. Why are people concerned with air pollution? Because it causes harm. It violates the rights of others and therefore is not in keeping with Free Market principles. There are valid policy questions about preventative measures (regulation) vs. reactive measures (prosecution/lawsuits), but those questions do not invalidate the Free Market as a whole. Viper, during a sales pitch, talks about how the people he is talking to are not bad guys and lists some of their activities like corporate bailouts, corruption, and corporate welfare. These too are not Free Market friendly practices. Corporate bailouts and welfare is money gained, not through the market, but rather taken from the government who gained possession of it by force. Corruption is a much broader term, but in the terms of government, corruption is using the government to get an advantage rather than competing in the market without force. Corruption in business also violates consent in cases like fraud. Changing the terms of a deal, removes consent until that knowledge is shared by all involved.

Now I want to take a step back to the bailouts and welfare. There are those who consider themselves capitalists who will take government money to prop up their business. This could be anyone from a major bank down to a farmer. This is known as Crony Capitalism or in extreme cases could be considered Corporatism. These are not in line with the Free Market. Even though they may seem like it because the people participating are acting in their own interests, the force of government must violate the rights of others in order to act this way. So before blaming the Free Market, ask yourself, “How is the government involved in this?” If you can find a path from the government to the problem, you don’t have a problem with Free Markets, you have a problem with government. A general rule of thumb is, “If the government is involved or violence or the threat of violence is being used, it is not the Free Market/Capitalism/Free Enterprise.”

P.S. Charity is voluntary and therefore aligns with and I would say is necessary for Free Markets.

Liberty, Politics, Uncategorized

Who is winning the War on Terror?

16 years ago, the United States was attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists. 2,996 people were killed in what would be the beginning of the longest war in U.S. history. Hate for America goes back a long way in the Middle East. I am no historian. I know bits and pieces of what created this animosity, but not nearly enough to be able to say why. What I do know, is this terror group wanted to bring down the United States of America.

Today I want us to ask ourselves the question, “Who is winning the War on Terror?”

First, we need to define what “Terrorism” is. This can be difficult. Even the government waging the war can’t even agree on 1 definition (1). I am going to go with the Department of Defense definition which states, “The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.”

Second, we need to ask ourselves, “Did the terrorists achieve their goals?” What did the attacks change politically, religiously, or ideologically? Most obvious is the United States went to war in Afghanistan and later Iraq and now wherever the government wants to go (2). 16 years later, 6,915+ lives later (3), we are still fighting in the Middle East, including Afghanistan. While it is not the first time we have waged war without a Declaration of War as prescribed in the Constitution, it should be noted that we are fighting an undeclared war. This war has cost the United States $2,125,700,000,000 (4). In response to the terror attacks on 9/11/01 the PATRIOT Act was passed. This legislation has been used to justify warrantless spying on American citizens in a number of ways (5). Later the USA Freedom Act would reinstate spying programs that expired (6). What has become known as Indefinite Detention has become a “legal” option under the NDAA (7). We have also set a precedent for assassinating American citizens (including minors) without trial outside the battlefield (8). This is just a few of the political changes that have been made as a result of the terrorist attacks.

Ideologically what has the terrorists accomplished? After we took out, either directly or indirectly, multiple secular leaders, the Muslim extremists have established their Islamic State where they are able to brutally enforce their beliefs on those stuck under their rule. The Taliban is still actively trying (often succeeding) to retake Afghanistan, while IS also works within the country. Control in Libya is a mess, some of which is under IS control (9). Syria is in the middle of a civil war that we have funded opposing sides (10) and IS has been involved in. We have managed to capture or kill many leaders and fighters of the different Islamist factions, but overall they are more powerful now than before 9/11/01.

Back to the original question of “Who is winning the War on Terror?” I would say that 3 groups of people are winning and none of them are the American people as a whole. The first group winning from the War on Terror are big government politicians who want more control over the American people. The second group are defense contractors who make fortunes off of an endless, borderless war. The third group of people winning the War on Terror, it seems to be the terrorists themselves. Not only in gaining territory, but also in the erosion of the very freedoms we claim to be fighting to defend. The Constitution is the document that outlines the formation of our government, but in the fight to defend it we seem to have destroyed it ourselves.

The American people are the single biggest losers of the War on Terror and on this anniversary of the attacks that started it all, I hope we can begin to reclaim our losses. We need to take a stand for our civil liberties. We need to call for a withdrawal of U.S. intervention overseas where there is no plan for success and no Declaration of War has been issued. We need to demand an end to the Federal and State reckless spending. In essence we need to embrace the Liberty that is the basis of our great nation.

  1. http://www.secbrief.org/2014/04/definition-of-terrorism/
  2. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/u-s-bombed-iraq-syria-pakistan-afghanistan-libya-yemen-somalia-n704636
  3. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-memorial-day-20170529-htmlstory.html
  4. https://www.thebalance.com/war-on-terror-facts-costs-timeline-3306300
  5. http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/22/politics/patriot-act-debate-explainer-nsa/index.html
  6. http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/243850-obama-signs-nsa-bill-renewing-patriot-act-powers
  7. https://www.aclu.org/news/president-obama-signs-indefinite-detention-bill-law
  8. https://theintercept.com/2017/01/30/obama-killed-a-16-year-old-american-in-yemen-trump-just-killed-his-8-year-old-sister/
  9. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2017/03/libya-controls-170321125820367.html
  10. http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-cia-pentagon-isis-20160327-story.html
Liberty, Politics, Uncategorized

Hope for the Future

Hope speech

 

Comic books have always been a way to tackle social issues in an entertaining way. One of the most famous versions of this is the X-Men. While the struggle from the comics is one between mutants and humans, it is easy to see the connection between the mutant struggle and prejudices in the real world. As with most movements, there are different sects within the larger group. In the Marvel Universe, those sects historically were the violent Brotherhood led by Magneto and the more peaceful mutants the X-Men led by Professor Xavier.

 

In this excerpt, the new mutant, Hope Summers, is meeting Magneto and Professor Xavier for the first time and she isn’t happy to hear how they are discussing the state of the mutant struggle. The conversation takes on a competitive connotation that creates a barrier between the two sides. Hope recognizes that this type of language will only ensure that the humans and the mutants remain at odds even when they say their purpose is equality.

 

The same is often the case in today’s political dialogue. People have chosen their side and instead of talking about solutions and goals, we discuss beating the opposition. We round up people in our minds into certain groups and brand them with the assumptions we have about that group. At that point, what is the point of talking to each other? We already think we know everything about what that person thinks because we have them lumped into their group.

 

This is a problem with three roots. The first is our natural tendencies. Our brains take shortcuts often without our realizing it. To demonstrate this, often times people will overlook misspelled words or think something was in its rightful place when it wasn’t because our brain filled it in. This can happen in our interactions with each other as well. We meet someone and immediately make assumption about them based on any number of criteria (1). The second root is our culture and experiences. This is closely related to the first root, but can often compound the problem. The third root is propaganda. In today’s political climate I believe this is one of the biggest problems we have to overcome. When people consume massive amounts of hateful and divisive content it just piles on the walls separating us from each other. That divide is by design of those spreading the content. It is how they make a profit.

 

Now the danger in realizing this is to swing too far in the opposite direction and not stand for anything. Apathy is a whole problem within itself, but it is not a solution to prejudice.

 

What we can do instead is train ourselves to recognize our prejudices and try to focus on the conversation at hand. If you are talking to a Trump supporter and categorize that person as an alt-right neo-nazi you may miss what that person is actually saying. Listen to the concerns of others and then seek solutions together. This is not to say that we will always get along or agree, but for the most part we all want to see the United States of America and it’s people succeed. We can also make a conscious effort to not partake in inflammatory rhetoric. Maybe don’t click that link with the headline talking about “Crushing” the opposition or maybe don’t share or even “like” that meme that exposes the “stupidity” of someone who believes different than you.  It is up to us to change the political climate to one of working together rather than tearing each other apart.

  1. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/research-states-that-prejudice-comes-from-a-basic-human-need-and-way-of-thinking.html#.WFDetX0VJUc
Uncategorized

Don’t be what they made you.

There are different levels of influences in our lives. Government controls what we can and can’t do. Media and the education systems control what information we have to work with. There are many more, but these are some of the most powerful when it comes to a nation as a whole. These influences are very good at what they do. They understand what motivates people and how to deliver information in a way that creates the “proper” response. They tug at the puppet strings through headlines and buzzwords. They present false dichotomies to issues and demand we choose sides. It is a relentless battle to control us. Does that mean we have to play along?

Both in the movie “Logan” and the X-Men comics Laura Kinney (a.k.a X-23) is a clone of Logan (a.k.a. James Howlett/Wolverine). She was created to be a weapon. Created in a test tube. Born in a lab. Raised in a cell. Trained as an assassin. In the movie, Laura escapes the lab and ends up in the care of Logan. In one of the final scenes of the movie, Logan tells Laura, “Don’t be what they made you.” With this simple yet powerful charge, Logan revealed the beauty that is independence. This statement doesn’t magically make her enemies disappear or want to control her less. What it does do is reveal the opportunity for her to control her own life despite their desire to control her.



Just like Laura is given a choice to be something more than what those in charge of her want her to be, so do we have a choice. We can throw off the chains of a 2 party system. We can look beyond the headlines and ask “What is the angle?” We can use reason and logic to evaluate a situation and develop a solution. It isn’t going to be easy. Those who wish to control us are powerful, but simply by asking “Why?” you can be freed from the puppet strings. With every person freed, it is a little bit easier for the next person as the enemy loses strength.



We are blessed to live in a country where we can question openly. That freedom is one of the targets of the opposition and we must stand strong against them. There are those who want to silence unpopular opinions. In doing so they hope to strengthen their hold on us. We need to continue to fight, not only for our own free speech, but for the free speech of those we don’t agree with. When we have that ability, we have the ability to look beyond what “they” have made us. We can question and reason together. Find answers outside of what options “they” give us.



“Don’t be what they made you.” Be an individual. Think for yourself. Do your own research. Discuss with others, but reach your own conclusions. If we all submit to those holding the puppet strings, then we only have a few solutions to the world’s problems. But if we all take charge of our own lives, then in the United States alone, we could have 200 million people approaching the world’s problems from different angles. 

Liberty, Uncategorized

This isn’t freedom, this is fear.

The movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of my favorite movies. In the movie, we see the secret spy agency, SHIELD has been infiltrated by agents of HYDRA, the Nazi supernatural branch that was thought ended with the death of the Red Skull. Not only has HYDRA been discovered in SHIELD, but SHIELD is on the brink of launching a fleet of Helicarriers that are programmed to neutralize threats before they happen anywhere in the world. When Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, shows Captain America (Steve Rogers) what they are planning, Cap is less than thrilled. What follows is a very brief, but deep conversation about the limits of security.

  • Nick Fury: These new long range precision guns can eliminate a thousand hostiles a minute. The satellites can read a terrorist’s DNA before he steps outside his spider hole. We gonna neutralize a lot of threats before they even happen.
  • Steve Rogers: I thought the punishment usually came after the crime.
  • Nick Fury: We can’t afford to wait that long.
  • Steve Rogers: Who’s “we”?
  • Nick Fury: After New York, I convinced the World Security Council we needed a quantum surge in threat analysis. For once we’re way ahead of the curve.
  • Steve Rogers: By holding a gun at everyone on Earth and calling it protection.
  • Nick Fury: You know, I read those SSR files. Greatest generation? You guys did some nasty stuff.
  • Steve Rogers: Yeah, we compromised. Sometimes in ways that made us not sleep so well. But we did it so the people could be free. This isn’t freedom, this is fear.

The World Security Council decided they needed absolute power to keep people safe. They believed they were the good guys and so it was okay to take this step in eliminating threats before a crime happened with no consideration for rights and civil liberties.

Later on in the movie, Cap and Black Widow find themselves in an abandoned base where they meet the computer version of Dr. Zola, a HYDRA scientist from WWII. In an effort to keep them occupied while an airstrike is on its way, Zola explains the connection between SHIELD and HYDRA.

  • Dr. Arnim Zola: HYDRA was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom. What we did not realize, was that if you try to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly. After the war, SHIELD was founded and I was recruited. The new HYDRA grew. A beautiful parasite inside SHIELD. For seventy years HYDRA has been secretly feeding crisis, reaping war. And when history did not cooperate, history was changed.
  • Natasha Romanoff: That’s impossible, SHIELD would have stopped you.
  • Dr. Arnim Zola: Accidents will happen. HYDRA created a world so chaotic that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security. Once the purification process is complete, HYDRA’s new world order will arise. We won, Captain. Your death amounts to the same as your Life; a zero sum.

There is a lot to unpack in Dr. Zola’s statements, so I am just going to start from the beginning.

“HYDRA was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom.” Sounds a lot like every argument for big government ever. Whether it be the drug war, gun control, or even education. It all boils down to a belief that individuals will make bad decisions and need to be kept in line.

“What we did not realize, was that if you try to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly.”

This statement reminds me of the illustration of boiling a frog. Throw a frog in hot water and it will jump out, but slowly turn up the heat over time and it will stay in the water and die. We have accepted an erosion of our freedoms over time, usually in response to a tragedy. Economic freedoms were sacrificed in response to the Great Depression. Gun rights were sacrificed in response to the Valentine’s Day Massacre. Congressional declaration of war was sacrificed in response to the Cold War. Privacy rights were sacrificed in response to 9/11.

“HYDRA created a world so chaotic that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security.”

I don’t believe that the state of the world is the way it is because of some secretive evil organization making calculated decisions about how to get people to give up their freedoms. An organization like that doesn’t need to exist for that outcome. Authoritarianism is as old as humanity. It is the default of civilizations. Freedom is a relatively new concept, but it has catapulted humanity into an age of unparalleled growth. Like anything worthwhile, freedom requires effort to be maintained.

In his podcast, Common Sense, Dan Carlin often asks what will happen after the next big terrorist attack in the U.S.? What rights are left to surrender? What price will people be willing to pay for that promise of freedom? Will we accept outlawing Islam? Will we accept arresting people without a trial (already authorized in the NDAA)? Maybe we will accept rounding up people of a certain background like we did with the Japanese-Americans in WWII?

The purpose of securing our rights in the Bill of Rights was so that emotion and mob rule didn’t infringe on people’s rights when a spirit of authoritarianism swept through the people. Unfortunately, those very rights have been chipped away at for 200+ years and authoritarianism is once again taking hold. It is time to take a stand for freedom. To reclaim our individual rights. Dedicate ourselves to the principles of Liberty even when we are scared or suffering. In the words of Captain America:

“… the price of freedom is high, it always has been, and it’s a price I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one, then so be it. But I’m willing to bet I’m not.”

Liberty, Uncategorized

Focus on the Horcruxes

Voldemort is the villain of the Harry Potter books and movies. At the beginning of the first book, Voldemort is thought to be dead. You then find out a part of him clung to life in Professor Quirrell. Then another part of him popped up in the Diary from Chamber of Secrets. Then he is full blown brought back to life in the Goblet of Fire. They just can’t seem to get rid of him until finally Dumbledore discovers the secret. Voldemort split his soul into 7 pieces stored in what is called Horcruxes. These vessels were then hidden and protected to keep Voldemort alive. The key to defeating Voldemort was to not attack Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters but to rather attack the source of the problem. Voldemort and the Death Eaters were the symptom of the greater problem of the Horcruxes.

The same applies to many of our real world problems today. So much of what people and the news are concerned about is only symptoms of often common sources. We can attack the symptoms for decades (as we have) and find ourselves either in the same situation or often in a worse situation. If we want to truly solve the problems of the United States, we need to take a step back as a nation and separate the symptoms from the core problems.

One very clear example of this is college tuition and debt. For decades, the cost of tuition has kept rising faster than most other costs in the U.S. (1. “The average annual increase in college tuition from 1980-2014 grew by nearly 260% compared to the nearly 120% increase in all consumer items.”) The government has tried to solve this problem by throwing more and more money at the problem (grants) and by making it easier for students to get loans to afford school (2. History of Financial Aid). As the ability for students to pay more rose, so did the cost of tuition. Instead of attacking the Horcrux (price inflation from government subsidies and bad loans) the U.S. keeps trying to fix symptoms without addressing the real problem.

Our out of control college tuition and debt is only 1 example of symptoms being mistaken for the problem. The rise of Donald Trump, overcrowded prison systems, much of the nations poverty, etc. are all symptoms of deeper less obvious problems. Until the American public demands that politicians destroy the Horcruxes plaguing our nation, rather than fighting skirmishes with the Death Eaters, our nation will not be great. As it is now, the illusion of doing something while the source persists is what gets politicians re-elected. Americans need to demand meaningful results for re-election, not political theater and pandering.

tuition cost 64-15 (3)

  1. http://www.businessinsider.com/this-chart-shows-how-quickly-college-tuition-has-skyrocketed-since-1980-2015-7
  2. http://www.finaid.org/educators/history.phtml
  3. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76