Government lying to itself Again..

20140201-223217.jpgGovernment Says You Can’t Overcome Addiction, Contrary to What Government Research Shows, Why does the National Institute on Drug Abuse contradict its own research? from Reason, Stanton Peele | February 1, 2014

The truth is, the vast majority of people quit addictions on their own. Every population study (that is, research with people not in treatment) tells us this. There is no ambiguity, no doubt, no scientific questioning of this truth. Only the neuroscientific, “chronic brain disease” crowd—represented by the new official medical subspecialty, the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM)—strives to convince us of the opposite, even as a never-ending flood of data tells us otherwise.

By reinforcing the myth that addiction is uncontrollable and permanent, neuroscientific models make it harder to overcome the problem, just as the 12-step disease model has all along. Telling yourself that you are powerless over addiction is self-defeating; it limits your capacity to change and grow. Isn’t it better to start from the belief that you—or your spouse, or your child—can fully and finally break out of addictive habits by redirecting your life? It may not be quick and easy to accomplish, but it happens all the time.

12 step programs do help people (my opinion) but I can well see that they may in fact be bad for some. I also agree that addiction is something you can grow out of or shake yourself, most of us have done it, even if it’s just chewing your fingernails, everything is on a spectrum and we all live on different arcs so different levels of self healing are bound to exist. This author makes the right points but I think let’s individualism blind him to the fact that some will need help.
The other point is that in all likelihood the American Puritanical War on Drugs, has all but certainly been a horrific waste of resources and souls…

Institutional Decay American Style

The Decay of American Political Institutions
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA Published on December 8, 2013
We have a problem, but we can’t see it clearly because our focus too often discounts any political

institutions in the United States are decaying. This is not the same thing as the broader phenomenon of societal or civilization decline, which has become a highly politicized topic in the discourse about America. Political decay in this instance simply means that a specific political process—sometimes an individual government agency—has become dysfunctional. This is the result of intellectual rigidity and the growing power of entrenched political actors that prevent reform and rebalancing. This doesn’t mean that America is set on a permanent course of decline, or that its power relative to other countries will necessarily diminish. Institutional reform is, however, an extremely difficult thing to bring about, and there is no guarantee that it can be accomplished without a major disruption of the political order. So while decay is not the same as decline, neither are the two discussions unrelated.

Theories of aging and senescence look at build up of damage in DNA, build up of poisons in cells, build up of damage in limited repair tissues, etc. I see government as a living entity with the same sorts of problems. This is why to a large extent progress has occurred with the birth of new governments (and often the death of the prior one.) The US was set up to purposely operate in a sort of continuous creative destruction and did well till the forces of ‘progress’ figured out how to jam a spoke in this wheel of change. For about fifty years things kept going, even got better because competent first generation operators were in place and constant change is not always very pretty. Now we are well into senescence and things are going to hell because this is not an era where sclerotic systems are treated gently.

The truth is always so much more interesting than the crap I learned in school

The Truth About the “Robber Barons”
Mises Daily: Saturday, September 23, 2006 by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
It’s long but interesting, after reading it think about what has been going on around us for decades, longer really, since what is discussed in this fascinating piece has only gotten worse since the long dead protagonists passed from the stage:

The American economy has always included a mix of market and political entrepreneurs — self-made men and women as well as political connivers and manipulators. And sometimes, people who have achieved success as market entrepreneurs in one period of their lives later become political entrepreneurs. But the distinction between the two is critical to make, for market entrepreneurship is a hallmark of genuine capitalism, whereas political entrepreneurship is not — it is neomercantilism.

In some cases, of course, the entrepreneurs commonly labeled “robber barons” did indeed profit by exploiting American customers, but these were not market entrepreneurs. For example, Leland Stanford, a former governor and US senator from California, used his political connections to have the state pass laws prohibiting competition for his Central Pacific railroad,[1] and he and his business partners profited from this monopoly scheme. Unfortunately, the resentment that this naturally generated among the public was unfairly directed at other entrepreneurs who succeeded in the railroad industry without political interference that tilted the playing field in their direction. Thanks to historians who fail to (or refuse to) make this crucial distinction, many Americans have an inaccurate view of American capitalism.

As a header for the article, DiLorenzo has this quote:

Free-market capitalism is a network of free and voluntary exchanges in which producers work, produce, and exchange their products for the products of others through prices voluntarily arrived at. State capitalism consists of one or more groups making use of the coercive apparatus of the government… for themselves by expropriating the production of others by force and violence.
— Murray N. Rothbard, The Logic of Action (1997)

So the taxonomy here is:

  1. Free market capitalism
  2. Political ( crony) capitalism
  3. State capitalism

But the whole story is much more complex than this article outlines, since all of the actors in the dance, (‘good’ guys and ‘bad’) were acting out of self interest, enlightened self interest, altruistic self interest and more darkly unconscious self interest, based on very, ( by today’s standards, very, very) poor information and worse theories of cause and effect. It is all but certain they were trying to do the best they could for the audience they cared about (sometimes but rarely, just themselves.) Even monsters think they are doing the right thing (sometimes via massive self delusion admittedly) whatever outside observers perceive.

URK! The sound made after the breath has been knocked out of you

Both me and the American economy. And they still don’t get that it’s all about the intersection of bad and vastly too much regulation
This and more at PJMEDIA: Stephen Green, The Bistromath economy
My emphasis

2.3 million — number of Americans “marginally attached” to the labor force.

-720,000 — change in civilian labor force in October.

815,000 — number of discouraged workers in October.

62.8% — labor force participation rate.

-0.4% — change since September.

13.8% — underemployment rate (U-6) in October.

More bistromathic mathematics:

+0.2% — change in U-6 since September.

14.2% — U-6 in January, 2009.

-0.4% — U-6 improvement after 52 months of economic recovery.

??? — actual unemployment rate, following revelations of data manipulation by Census Bureau during lead-up to 2012 election.

7949.09 — DJIA, January 20, 2009

16,064.77 — DJIA November 22, 2013

200% — increase of DJIA since January 20, 2009.

$22.01 — U.S. average hourly wage, January, 2009.

$24.10 — U.S. average hourly wage, October, 2013.

9% — increase in U.S. average hourly wage since January, 2009 (not adjusted for inflation).

10.61% — cumulative inflation since January, 2009.

< 0% — increase in average hourly wage since January, 2009

2.5% — second quarter U.S. GDP growth, annualized.

2.0% — third quarter U.S. GDP growth, annualized.

2.0% — fourth quarter US GDP growth, projected.

< 3.0% — 2014 U.S. GDP growth, projected.

1.67% — average U.S. GDP growth under George W. Bush, including 9/11 and 2008 financial meltdown.

Just over 1% — average U.S. GDP growth under Barack H. Obama, including stimulus and recovery.

$1,020,000,000,000 — stimulus injected into U.S. economy by Federal Reserve in 2013 (planned).

$313,695,000,000 — U.S. GDP growth in 2013 in dollars (projected).

3.25:1 — ratio of Fed stimulus dollars to each new dollar of economic growth.

62% — percentage increase in U.S. debt since January 20, 2009.

56% — increase in U.S. debt after eight years of GW Bush

38 — months remaining in Obama administration.

Charlie Martin @ PJMEDIA Obamacare vs Arithmatic

Mr. Martin lays out ‘my’ plan for health car, he got it probably long before I did, you should too. This should be the Republican, Tea Party, soft libertarian ‘answer’ to Health Care. @ http://pjmedia.com/blog/obamacare-vs-arithmetic/

In there is Gammon’s Law:

From Milton Friedman: Some years ago, I came across a study by Max Gammon, a British physician who also researches medical care, comparing input and output in the British socialized hospital system. He took the number of employees as his measure of input and the number of hospital beds as his measure of output. He found that input had increased sharply, while output had actually fallen.
He was led to enunciate what he called “the theory of bureaucratic displacement.” In his words, in “a bureaucratic system . . . increase in expenditure will be matched by fall in production. . . . Such systems will act rather like `black holes,’ in the economic universe, simultaneously sucking in resources, and shrinking in terms of `emitted production.'”

Friedman referenced health care in general but it applies to the square with Obamacare…

US Bureaucrat’s are (largely) neither stupid or venal, their bosses, our Politicians on the other hand….

Bad Mandates
Francis Fukuyama at The American Interest

Bureaucratic dysfunctions can almost always be traced back to a badly-conceived mandate from the political principal to the bureaucratic agent, which prevents the agent from exercising an appropriate degree of autonomous judgment.
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Under our system of government, private individuals are given standing in the courts to force agencies to implement laws. If local officials thought wheelchair ramps didn’t make sense, they would face a blizzard of lawsuits like the ones described by Loyola and Epstein, where a single individual named Theodore Pinnock forced every mom-and-pop store in little Julian, California to remodel their facilities to accommodate his wheelchair. So the problem here is not excessive autonomy, it’s complete lack of autonomy in complying with a senseless legislative mandate that takes no account of the need for discretionary tradeoffs against competing goods.

And why does the bureaucracy grow, because the politicians give it more, and more and more, to do….

Privacy IS Important! Without it Trust Withers and We Fester

WSJ: What We Lose if We Give Up Privacy
A civil libertarian reflects on the dangers of the surveillance state. By PEGGY NOONAN

READ IT ALL!

20130817-085410.jpg

Martin Kozlowski

I have to extract a lot of the piece, it discusses the issues much better than I can:

What is privacy? Why should we want to hold onto it? Why is it important, necessary, precious?

Is it just some prissy relic of the pretechnological past?

We talk about this now because of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency revelations, and new fears that we are operating, all of us, within what has become or is becoming a massive surveillance state. They log your calls here, they can listen in, they can read your emails. They keep the data in mammoth machines that contain a huge collection of information about you and yours. This of course is in pursuit of a laudable goal, security in the age of terror.

Is it excessive? It certainly appears to be. Does that matter? Yes. Among other reasons: The end of the expectation that citizens’ communications are and will remain private will probably change us as a people, and a country.
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Among the pertinent definitions of privacy from the Oxford English Dictionary: “freedom from disturbance or intrusion,” “intended only for the use of a particular person or persons,” belonging to “the property of a particular person.” Also: “confidential, not to be disclosed to others.” Among others, the OED quotes the playwright Arthur Miller, describing the McCarthy era: “Conscience was no longer a private matter but one of state administration.”

Privacy is connected to personhood. It has to do with intimate things—the innards of your head and heart, the workings of your mind—and the boundary between those things and the world outside.

A loss of the expectation of privacy in communications is a loss of something personal and intimate, and it will have broader implications. That is the view of Nat Hentoff, the great journalist and civil libertarian. He is 88 now and on fire on the issue of privacy. “The media has awakened,” he told me. “Congress has awakened, to some extent.” Both are beginning to realize “that there are particular constitutional liberty rights that [Americans] have that distinguish them from all other people, and one of them is privacy.”

Mr. Hentoff sees excessive government surveillance as violative of the Fourth Amendment, which protects “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” and requires that warrants be issued only “upon probable cause . . . particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

But Mr. Hentoff sees the surveillance state as a threat to free speech, too. About a year ago he went up to Harvard to speak to a class. He asked, he recalled: “How many of you realize the connection between what’s happening with the Fourth Amendment with the First Amendment?” He told the students that if citizens don’t have basic privacies—firm protections against the search and seizure of your private communications, for instance—they will be left feeling “threatened.” This will make citizens increasingly concerned “about what they say, and they do, and they think.” It will have the effect of constricting freedom of expression. Americans will become careful about what they say that can be misunderstood or misinterpreted, and then too careful about what they say that can be understood. The inevitable end of surveillance is self-censorship.

All of a sudden, the room became quiet. “These were bright kids, interested, concerned, but they hadn’t made an obvious connection about who we are as a people.” We are “free citizens in a self-governing republic.”
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Mr. Hentoff’s second point: An entrenched surveillance state will change and distort the balance that allows free government to function successfully. Broad and intrusive surveillance will, definitively, put government in charge. But a republic only works, Mr. Hentoff notes, if public officials know that they—and the government itself—answer to the citizens. It doesn’t work, and is distorted, if the citizens must answer to the government. And that will happen more and more if the government knows—and you know—that the government has something, or some things, on you. “The bad thing is you no longer have the one thing we’re supposed to have as Americans living in a self-governing republic,” Mr. Hentoff said. “The people we elect are not your bosses, they are responsible to us.” They must answer to us. But if they increasingly control our privacy, “suddenly they’re in charge if they know what you’re thinking.”
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What of those who say, “I have nothing to fear, I don’t do anything wrong”? Mr. Hentoff suggests that’s a false sense of security. “When you have this amount of privacy invasion put into these huge data banks, who knows what will come out?” Or can be made to come out through misunderstanding the data, or finagling, or mischief of one sort or another. “People say, ‘Well I’ve done nothing wrong so why should I worry?’ But that’s too easy a way to get out of what is in our history—constant attempts to try to change who we are as Americans.” Asked about those attempts, he mentions the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the Red Scare of the 1920s and the McCarthy era. Those times and incidents, he says, were more than specific scandals or news stories, they were attempts to change our nature as a people.

Then there is a paragraph were I may part ways in degree if not philosophy…

What of those who say they don’t care what the federal government does as long as it keeps us safe? The threat of terrorism is real, Mr. Hentoff acknowledges. Al Qaeda is still here, its networks are growing. But you have to be careful about who’s running U.S. intelligence and U.S. security, and they have to be fully versed in and obey constitutional guarantees. “There has to be somebody supervising them who knows what’s right. . . . Terrorism is not going to go away. But we need someone in charge of the whole apparatus who has read the Constitution.”

That ‘someone’ in charge and a faint subtext that there is some level of relaxation of the constitution that may be valid bothers me more than a little.

Advances in technology constantly up the ability of what government can do. Its technological expertise will only become deeper and broader. “They think they’re getting to how you think. The technology is such that with the masses of databases, then privacy will get even weaker.”

Mr. Hentoff notes that J. Edgar Hoover didn’t have all this technology. “He would be so envious of what NSA can do.”

As above, it is going to get easier to dive deeper, MINORITY REPORT posited ESP for preempting crime. It’s not impossible that soon technology could do the same thing…with the same problem that some minority of the ‘targets’ would never have acted on the urges, ideas, or impulses that got them preemptively targeted…indeed we are undoubtedly killing ‘innocent”terrorists’ today, some who might have turned away if they had not been evaporated.

The terrorists have won if they twist us into some distorted remnant of ourselves or worst themselves. And one of the things they hate most about us and understand the least is our assumption of trust…I trust that another may be different, think different, have faith different from me and mine but I trust them (within reason) to hold certain things dear…

Consequently I’m a bit troubled by any assumption that we need some huge and empowered organization that is cut out of the normal mechanisms of governing. Yes we have to have to use these tools but if they cannot be used without violating basic rights one of which is an assumption of innocence, then they should be used in the main to figure out how they can be defeated so others cannot use them against us, and their own people…

I do not understand the fear that drives so much of this, the US stands astride the world and yet we do not rule. Instead we cry at others pain and try to do the ‘best thing’ we can, often to the detriment of ‘the easy thing’ or even ‘the only thing.’

OK the ‘intelligentsia’ (or demagogues, ideologues) across the rest of the world often deride us, let them, it not us trying to emigrate there. OK other places do ‘this,’ ‘that’ or ‘the other’ better, we copy the best and ignore the rest, and none of those ideas would work as well broadly across a geography and citizenry as richly diverse as ours!

Megan McArdle // Property Forfeiture laws, license to steal?

Bloomberg// Megan McArdle // How the Lone Star State Legalized Highway Robbery
I think the title’s perhaps Acela corridor biased but the issue is real, very, very, real and localizing it is a dis service, this is a problem all over the US and one of the reasons we should fear the surveillance state.

ViaMeadia // The Miracles Wrought by Price Transparency

Read more at: The Miracles Wrought by Price Transparency

A surgery center in Oklahoma has started a bidding war by offering drastically lower prices than other providers and posting them online. The center describes itself as “free-market loving”—an unorthodox but welcome branding for a health care provider. The evidence of its success, however, is eye-popping. Where some hospitals charge more than $16,000 for a breast biopsy, Oklahoma Surgery Center charges $3, 500, according to a local Oklahoma news station. And that’s just one of many impressive examples.

Read more at: IndyStar: Abdul: Why our health-care system needs a single-payer – you

The recent move by the Obama administration to delay implementation of the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act means this is the perfect time to have a grown-up discussion about how we deliver health care in this country. As a free market-conservative, social-libertarian political pundit, I am convinced more than ever that it is time in this country for a single-payer health care system.

Get rid of employer ‘health insurance’ go with health savings plans and catastrophic medical insurance AND PUBLISHED PRICING then we at least know what the real price is and stop paying for so many empty suites…

On a very related note, at least in my mind: There is a great debate about the collapse of the demand for lawyers and the issues with ‘Higher Ed’ payoff vs price in general outside of core STEM. But as a practicing engineer, business development type I have to tell you that one of the most pernicious problems in today’s world is an over supply of pure play MBA’s, business school PhD’s, Operations consultants, etc, etc, et-bloody-cettera. I’m not saying that the tech types know all, do all, but when they are ignored the company ( practice, clinic,….. ) in which they work becomes a zombie…and as we all know zombies can win in the short run, even proliferate, but in the end they either rot out or pull down the society (economy) around them.