In this post, HOW THE LOGIC OF A LIVING CONSTITUTION LEADS TO THE SACRIFICE OF INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, we discussed the DC Court of Appeals’ decision on Obamacare. When Eric the 1/2 Troll commented (here, here, and here), he indicated his disagreement with the post. When I suggested private charity would work better than Obamacare, Eric responded by repeatedly asking some form of the same question.

“You really want to help the uninsured? There is no substitute for honest charity. That involves reaching into your own pocket.”

Tom, and what happens when no charity steps up to help the uninsured heart attack victim who needs triple by-pass surgery or he dies? Are you prepared to let him die (as a matter of policy) so as to preserve your ideal that gov’t has no role in charity? (from here)

When I explained Obamacare would just make things worse for everyone, Eric did not respond to my arguments. He could not get beyond repeating the same question. Why? Well, I think Eric is too focused on the problem to seriously consider whether the proposed solution, Obamacare, will work.

What happens we “think” emotionally? What if we are afraid or worried? Will we  give the solution to a problem that frightens or worries us enough thought?  Some people will not. Want an example? You see a child drowning. What do you do? Well, here is an example of what someone did, Girl, 9, rescuer drown in Plymouth.

A 9-year-old girl and a 26-year-old man died Monday night after the man jumped into a pool at a Plymouth apartment complex to try to save the girl from drowning. (from here)

Like as not, the guy forgot he could not swim, and that is not uncommon. In fact it happens enough that the problem has actually received some research, Drowning for Love. The Aquatic-Victim-Instead-of-Rescuer (AVIR) Syndrome: Drowning fatalities involving those attempting to rescue a child. Here is the introduction.

Non-intentional child drowning remains a leading cause of child mortality. A related and secondary syndrome is composed of those who drown in impulsive, altruistic attempts to go to the aid of a drowning child. Such ‘rescuers’ who attempt to save a drowning child may themselves drown, a tragic event we term the AVIR syndrome or aquatic victim-instead-of-rescuer.

The article suggests it might help to teach potential rescuers how to conduct such a rescue without inordinate risk to their own lives (The rescuer who drowns provides an “oral” presentation.). So some experts do provide instruction. For example, How To Rescue a Drowning Victim provides recommendations for conducting a rescue. Note that these suggestions are not particularly remarkable. Here is how How To Rescue a Drowning Victim begins.

Drowning victims are probably the most dangerous to try to rescue. In a panic, drowning victims are likely to claw at rescuers and climb to the surface at all costs. NEVER attempt a direct rescue of a conscious drowning victim without proper training.

Remember always: REACH, THROW, but only GO with training and equipment.

Even if you know how to swim well, it is not a good idea to get into the water with a drowning victim. Unfortunately, in a highly emotional, emergency situation, we don’t always stop to think. We take the most direct approach. We head straight for the victim. Without thinking, we risk being pulled under by the person we are trying to rescue.

Unfortunately, the corporate news media does not encourage calm and thoughtful responses to national problems. Instead, journalists urge us to dwell on the health care “crisis”, magnifying the problem and our emotional response. We empathize with the health care problems of the poor, the aged, and those who have exhausted their insurance. We imagine ourselves in the same dilemma. Then we listen with relief and rapt attention to the promises of scheming politicians.

When our leaders boldly promise to solve the problem of health care — to make health care a “right” — we want to believe them. When they offer Obamacare as the most direct approach to fixing our health care system, many cheered the “solution”.

Instead of cheering we first need examine the solution carefully. Because politicians are just people, we must consider whether their proposals will work. Will Obamacare fix the problem or make the situation worse? Has Eric considered that question? If we have good reason to believe Obamacare will worsen our health care problems, further damage our economy, and continue the unraveling of our Constitution, then the question Eric did ask is a non sequitur.


  1. Tony – What you advocate is redistributing the wealth. That crosses a moral line.

    What do I prefer? I prefer limited government. In order to protect our rights, we must give government sufficient authority to protect our rights. Here is an example. Since the movement of people and their property requires a right of way, we require government to guaranteed that certain routes are available to all. Having a right, however, does not mean that you have the right to make others pay to allow you to exercise that right. Thus, I prefer tolls as alternative to just giving politicians our money to pay for transportation infrastructure construction and maintenance.

    In addition to being more ethical, tolls reduce waste. A toll is based upon usage. You don’t use a road, you don’t pay for it. Since none of us like to waste our own money, that cost reduces our incentive for frivolous travel. That cost also reduces our government’s incentive to build roads we do not need. If government must finance roads using bonds that will be paid off with tolls, the politicians trying to sell those bonds must convince the bond’s buyers of something rather important. After the road is built, sufficient numbers of people will pay those tolls.

    Are user fees such as tolls always the best solution? No. As human being, we simply do not have the capacity to create perfect solutions. Nonetheless, we can learn recognize certain ethical boundaries. Redistributing the wealth crosses one such boundary. Redistributing the wealth is just a euphemism for stealing.


  2. Tom,

    Read your own definition of Socialism. One has to torture the term to the death all its meaning to find that I am advocating state ownership of ALL of the means of production of goods and services, all industry, and all capital just because I believe in progressive taxation. On the other hand, governments, even in the most capitalistic economies, own some public capital and some of the means of providing public goods and services. If you don’t want to define the government’s ownership of the capital investments and the government’s providing the “service” of defending the country as Socialistic, then call it what you want in Tomese, but it still fits the conventional definition. The same is true for our governmental capital investments in the publicly owned and operated services provided by courts and police. You would have to eliminate all these common governmental industries and have each person voluntarily contract for a private defense and private legal arbitration and enforcement industries in order to make it all capitalistic. No one company would be soveriegn. We would have the negation of soveriegn statehood, a failed state, Somalia.

    As for your toll road idea, if it is a government owned road, then it is still “taxation” (still just a redistribution of wealth to pay for a shared public capital investment): it’s taxation in the form of tolls rather than taxation in the form of sales tax, or a customs duty or a property tax. If you don’t want to call a toll a tax in Tomese, fine, but it has the same function in a different form. In conventional English, however, it is considered another type of tax.

    By comparison, private ownership of a road and charging a toll to use it is capitalism, and yes, it is not a tax. In some cases, I think it is probably appropriate and efficient, but it is not practical for most roads. However, even when common public functions are privately owned and operated, as in the case of utilities, they are the result of imminent domain assistance from the government and highly regulated, for obvious reasons.

    As for your ranting mantra on the immorality of “redistribution of wealth”, I have begun what I think is a good argument to negate that fallacy in my last post. You and your readers can decide how successful that argument is.


  3. Tony – In spite of that long write-up, you never explained how I wrongly applied the term “Socialism”. Instead, you argued that our government must be socialist, and that is not true. Look at the definition. A courtroom or a police department is not a socialist institution. Armies are a means of destruction, not production.

    If Socialists do not justify Socialism as a means of redistributing the wealth, then how do they justify it? Our roads can be paid for with tolls, we could allow private ownership. Many utility companies are owned privately.

    But you don’t like Tomese. Let’s see. Let’s talk about words. Let’s talk Democratese. Progressive as in political beliefs. Progressive as in income tax. Gay. Same-sex marriage. Entitlement. Earned income. Empowered. Hate crime. Change. Right. Living Constitution. Inclusive. Diversity…. And you don’t like the way I used Socialism? 🙄 At least I try to use the word correctly.


  4. So from my prospective, Facism is eating bananas of Fridays, and once you buy into the belief that you can eat bananas of Friday, then you are Facist. Since you have obviously bought into that belief, then from my point-of-view, you are a Facist.

    I also find Facism morally repugnant…. Well, hopefully you get the point, Tom.

    If you are going to make up your own language, and change the definitions of words whenever the conventional definitions don’t support your arguments, then it is impossible to have a serious discussion. Aren’t you the one who is always saying that words should have meaning? I guess what you are really saying is that words must have whatever interchangeable and pliable meaning you need them to have in the Tomese language. Reminds me of the old Twilight Zone where the guy wakes up and everyone seems to be speaking in gibberish, so at the end of the episode, his daughter is trying to help him relearn the right words with her children’s book. I’m not sure who is the one really meant to be speaking gibberish in the Twilight Zone story, but I do know that you are the one making up gibberish here.

    On the other hand, if you want to have a serious discussion based upon conventional definitions of terms then, by your own admission, Socialism conventionally is not defined as all redistributions of wealth. Instead, by definition, all economic systems, including capitalism, redistribute wealth. Also by definition, governments are a necessary component of every economic system, even market capitalism, in that, as I have explained, market capitalism cannot even exist today and has never existed in the past, absent a government with the soveriegn power to define, protect, enforce and arbitrate the bundle of rights and responsibilities that make up all property ownership.

    Furthermore, in order to have a government to provide these necessary and generally accepted public services, you have to pay for that government in some way by redistributing someone’s wealth somehow. This redistribution of wealth to pay for the government’s provision of these necessary public services (even the ones we have little dispute over such as courts of law, police and national defense) is always done through some form of taxation. Evidence of this fact is that every government now and throughout history is/was supported through taxation in some form.

    Ergo, because you can’t have even the most uncontroversial of limited governmental public goods and services without paying for them through some form of taxation, and because taxation, no matter what form it takes, is by definition a redistribution of wealth, all governments of all kinds redistribute wealth.

    In the Tomese language perhaps this means that all types of government, from fuedal to constitutional democracy, are Socialistim, but in under standard English language meanings that are not gibberish, it means that all forms of government, including the most libertarian market capitalistic ones, must redistribute wealth, and in fact, this is one of the purposes of ALL forms of government. And because “no government” means “no ownership,” you can’t own property and have a viable market economy if you don’t have a government that redistributes wealth through some form of taxation.

    Now if you want to talk about what forms of redistribution of wealth are just and practical, than that is fine, but could we please just use real English language words because I don’t have the time or inclination to learn Tomese.


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