Can We Get Free Market Innovation in Healthcare?

nurse2Everyone knows how the dead hand of the FDA turns the development and delivery of new drugs into a multi-billion dollar process. And everyone knows about the liberal wish-list of compulsory coverage for health insurance products. But the extent to which regulation has progress-proofed the status quo is rarely appreciated. From ‘Certificates of Need’ — whereby investments in health facilities require the blessing of central-planning bureaucrats — to the socialization of insurance pools through ‘Community Rating,’ to forced coverage of pre-existing conditions, everything in the current system either unwittingly or deliberately resists innovation.

Where only giant organisations with vast compliance departments can meet the inhumanly complex requirements of ever-shifting regulation, where laws, upon regulations, upon rules bake-in the assumption that health insurance is the only means of delivering health outcomes, is real innovation possible? Where can the Ubers, AirBnBs or Googles of health possibly come from? Indeed, where can the sliced bread, resealable bags, or pop-tops of health come from? Where is the room for the thousand little improvements that can make life so astonishing for consumers, when the law assumes that the way things were done in 1964, 1972, or 1986 is the only way they can be done, and woe betide anyone who suggests otherwise?

Read On

The Hillsdale Conspiracy

I’ve been reluctant to write about Hillsdale’s conspiracy to educate our K-12 children, for fear of betraying one of the most effective schemes to restore the Republic ever devised by the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

But, since public education is a perpetual topic of debate here among the center-right (see here, here, and here), I thought readers might like to know about my kids’ public charter school, which teaches a classical curriculum provided by Hillsdale College. Yes, that Hillsdale. The Hillsdale of Ricochet’s own Paul Rahe, the online courses on The Constitution and The Great Books, Imprimis, and the most excellent Hillsdale Dialogue interviews by Hugh Hewitt of President Larry Arnn and other members of the faculty.

Read On

A Conservative Statement in Arizona

Most view Arizona as monolithically conservative, but it’s anything but. In reality, the Grand Canyon State was monolithically Democratic until Barry Goldwater rebranded the GOP from its Rockefeller roots.

Just 10 out of Arizona’s 26 governors have been Republican, and for the past 35 years the office has seen a 50/50 split. Gov. Janet Napolitano was re-elected by a 2-to-1 margin just 8 years ago.

Read On

Hello, My Name Is Doug, and I’m an Addict

NDIt has been said that as a person grows older the approach of autumn can be depressing. From green to brilliant reds, orange, and yellow the leaves go and barren trees under lead grey skies shortly follow as a reminder of our own mortality. I look forward to autumn because I’m addicted to Notre Dame football. The words of Grantland Rice best describes how I feel about the mortality of the season.

“Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army football team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds yesterday afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down on the bewildering panorama spread on the green plain below.”

Read On

Mitt Again?

Mitt-Romney-happy-624x445On Politico at this hour:

The day after Mitt Romney opened the door to another possible presidential run, a new poll shows he has a huge lead among likely 2016 Iowa Republican caucus voters.

Read On

ISIS: It is ____’s Fault!

No points for filling the blank correctly.

In a new op-ed published at Project Syndicate, Joschka Fischer, former Foreign Minister of Germany (1998-2005), has a theory on what he calls “the staggering accumulation of crises and conflicts facing the world today – in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Gaza, and Libya” and it all has to do with America’s decline or, as he sees it, the waning of Pax Americana. While he is not entirely clear whether this decline is self-imposed or brought about by the inevitable march of history, Fischer is extremely clear on one thing: A great deal of it is George Bush’s fault! This certainty is delivered in one sleight of hand sentence with no further explanations.

Read On

The Libertarian Podcast: What Went Wrong in Ferguson?

This week on the Libertarian podcast, I lead Professor Epstein through a discussion of the recent controversies in Ferguson, Missouri. Has the militarization of police forces gone too far? Was it proper for the federal government to insert itself into the case through a Justice Department investigation? And does President Obama bear some of the blame for the seeming decline in racial relations that has occurred in recent years? These questions and more are answered in this super-sized episode.

Read On

The GOP Tax Debate and the Healing Power of ‘And’


Senator Mike Lee and Rep. Paul Ryan have different approaches to tax reform, at least on the individual side. Lee would modestly cut the top rate and greatly expand the child tax credit. Ryan would sharply lower the top rate to a level not seen since the Coolidge administration. What both approaches, at least as currently outlined, have in common is a high likelihood of greatly adding to the budget deficit.

Read On

Libertarianism: What About the Children?

delilahWhy does libertarianism seem to insufficiently care about children? It appears to only be concerned about the rights of adults while brushing off the consequences to children.

At first blush, this is a legitimate complaint. In libertarian world, there would be — for instance — easier access to harder drugs, which will lead to inevitable child/drug interactions. Obviously, it’s in our interest to minimize this, and what better way to minimize child/drug interaction than simply minimizing the amount of drugs?

Read On

Strong Contender for Most Annoying and Vacuous Column of the Week

I know, the field is crowded. But this is it, I think. In Time. Some woman named Sarah Miller has figured out why she doesn’t like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and she wants to share:

At any given time, many people on the planet are enduring war and famine and violence. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that in the last few weeks the news been especially awful. Around 2,000 Palestinians and 66 Israelis have died in Gaza since that conflict flared up. In our very own country, a police officer shot an unarmed 18-year-old boy, six times. This morning, Sudanese rebels shot down a U.N. helicopter.

Read On

Big-Government Conservatives: Who Are They?

4634992731_63ec506cba_mWe’ve been arguing a lot about libertarians here on Ricochet. I’ve been criticized for quoting from a blog that some Ricochetti took to be non-representative of libertarians. For the record, I never claimed it was representative; I was mainly just interested in the argument being made. But some people were irritated even by the reference, and reminded me that they could cherry-pick some pretty terrible big-government conservatives if they chose.

Actually, I’m quite interested in this. Who are the obnoxious big-government conservatives out there? Don’t tell me George W. Bush, because he’s retired. (Although, on that point, I grant that he was bad about spending and permitting government bloat, but how much morality policing did he really do? Not a whole lot.) I’m mainly interested in people who are influential in conservative politics right now. Are there prominent, unapologetic advocates of bigger, more intrusive government out there? Rick Santorum? Mike Huckabee? I want to know who really gets under your skin, libertarians. If you want to provide links as well, that would be awesome.

Read On

The Risk of Crist

Tonight as the sun sets in Pensacola, Charlie Crist will be the Democratic nominee for Governor of Florida. Yes, there’s a kind of pro-forma primary going on between Charlie and the hapless State Senator Nan Rich, a grating South Florida liberal of the Bella Abzug stripe, but everyone knows it isn’t serious. Crist has been the de facto nominee for over a year, plodding along in his faux-shucks way.

In essence, it isn’t about Crist the candidate. It’s about the Democratic Party. It’s a window into the deep, desperate soul of a state party looking for a foothold back into power. They know Crist is lying to them, and they love it. They know he’s playing them for patsies, and they’re lined up around the block to kiss his manorexic backside.

Read On

Burger King Shrugged

Progressives are outraged. “But that’s so unlike them, Jon.” I know, but this time they mean it.

Burger King, a fast food establishment I last visited during the Clinton administration, has determined that their tax bite is a bit lower if they incorporate in Canada rather than the U.S. Or something like that. I’ll let the experts explain:

Read On

Sam, Bugs, Daffy: Where Do You Fit In?

Recently, an intrepid Rico coined a phrase: “Yosemite Sam Conservative”. To illustrate:

Yosemite Sam

Read On

If You Don’t Find This Funny …

… You haven’t spent enough time around College Republicans.

Read On

Warren Buffett, Tax Hypocrite

The Buffett Rule, named after its impresario, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is simply this: a guaranteed minimum tax for individuals who “make” over $1 million per year.  

Warren likes it, Obama likes it — it’s a very popular rule. Forget, for a moment, that the rule doesn’t really specify what “make” means. Rich people tend to make a lot of money in a lot of different ways. Some of it is “income,” but a lot of it is other stuff, like capital gains. Investors and hedge fund dudes make it and call it “carried interest,” which (as far as I know) isn’t taxed as income. Okay, well, forget those troublesome details. Focus just on the “fairness” issue that the Buffett-Obama axis likes to use.

Read On

Where Do You Give?

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 11.12.01 AM

Here on the center-right, we believe that the best and most interesting stuff in life happens without government. Every day people marry, raise families, work, start businesses, trade, and support their communities with neither help nor inducement from the state (though often with its hindrance). Though I argue that we don’t give the for-profit sector nearly enough credit for making our world as prosperous, happy, and moral as it is*, private charities can fill in the gaps where markets aren’t functioning properly.

Read On

In Other News . . .

President Obama took a break from a golf outing on Martha’s Vineyard today to address reporters on the day’s events in Southern California, where ISIS forces had staged an amphibious invasion of Malibu. Stopping at the clubhouse for a hot dog and a soda before heading to the tenth tee, the president gave an unprepared statement about the surprise assault, in which thousands of ISIS fighters came ashore and occupied the seaside city,  home to many celebrities.

“I know a lot of you are concerned,” he said, “as we all are about what happened in California this morning. The video of ISIS fighters beheading the mayor of Malibu is truly disturbing. But I want to assure the American people that we are monitoring the situation there, and we are working with our partners in the international community to formulate what we hope will be an appropriate response. I’m sending John Kerry to Cairo for some frank discussions with somebody – I forget who – but you can trust that Secretary Kerry will figure things out within a few weeks, or months at the most.”

Read On

Richard Dawkins, Eugenics, Conflicting Principles, and Political Reality

With a tweet that spawned a thousand Ricochet threads, Richard Dawkins really stepped in it last week.

The would-be avatar of all things atheist then issued an “It’s-not-me-it’s-you” style apology soon thereafter; this said more about the man’s venal nature than his underlying argument. Unfortunately, people’s first instinct seemed to be to prove Godwin’s Law in the first iteration of the argument in their haste to denounce Dawkins and his admittedly tactless 140 characters.

Read On

The Libertarian Blind Spot on Policing

In my column this week for Defining Ideas from the Hoover Institution, I look at the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and the reaction they’ve inspired in the press. One of my conclusions: that many libertarians have gone overboard with otherwise legitimate concerns about policing. As I note:

It is not that I entirely part company with modern libertarians on all issues relating to the police. It is that I would like to see libertarians of all stripes slow down their denunciation of public authorities, without whom we cannot enjoy the ordered liberty that we all prize. The correct attitude on the police force is to see it as a regrettable necessity, but a necessity nonetheless. Without police intervention, many cities in this country would turn into Iraqi-style war zones. The point remains true even if it is the case, as it is in Iraq, that most people have a strong desire to live out their lives in peace. So long as some fringe groups are intent on using violence, they can force everyone else to follow suit, until by degrees entire nations can be plunged into chaos and sectarian violence unless there are some organized institutions to protect us.

Read On

Kevin McCarthy, Standing Athwart Jerry Brown

In the final clip from my recent conversation with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for Uncommon Knowledge, we turn to California politics — specifically to the future of the Golden State’s high-speed rail project, a topic on which McCarthy has become a thorn in the side of Governor Jerry Brown:

Read On

Another Personal Indulgence: The Crucible Edition

Globe2It is the last step, the last big test before graduation. Fifty-four hours of being stretched to the limit. Forty-five miles of marching. Two and one-half MREs. Seventy recruits that trained side by side for the last 12 weeks acting as one unit.

At the end they meet at a replica of the Marine Memorial from Arlington National Ceremony. Here, a Chaplain says a prayer, the Drill Instructors will shake each hand and then place in that hand the Globe and Anchor and address the recruit as “Marine” for the first time.

Read On

C-SPAN’s Conversation with Tim Groseclose

Earlier this year, the folks from C-SPAN’s Book TV sat down with Ricochet’s own Tim Groseclose to discuss his book Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind, preview his subsequent volume (since released), Cheating: An Insider’s Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLAand explain why Professor Groseclose was leaving Southern California behind for a new academic home on the East Coast.

Watch the video here.

Read On

No Correlation Here. Move Along, Please.

Do not attempt to draw any conclusions from this fact, delivered without meaningful context, from the Washington Times:

Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low. We all know that’s impossible.

Read On