Is Health Care a Right?

by J.J. Summerell
Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

Is health care a right?

No, health care is not a right.  Health care is a commodity.  Rights are conceptual, not material.  Consider things that are rights:

Right to free speech, right to assemble, right to contract, right to due process, right to privacy, etc,etc,etc

Health care is just a thing, not a right anymore than cars, houses and food are rights.  However, having said this, it is of utmost importance to point out that health care is one of the most important commodities in our lives because it has such an important impact on our lives.  Health care, more than any other commodity, determines the quantity and quality of the life we live.  That is, how long will we live and what will be the quality of health we have during that life.  This is certainly an extremely important commodity, but not a right.

Given the importance of this commodity it may well be that we want to provide a level of health care to all of our citizens – we are a productive and generous society.  However, to label health care as a right is to denigrate genuine rights.

If you think health care is a right, you have your rights all wrong!

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Banning Direct Auto Sales a Backward Idea

The bipartisan bill banning direct auto sales is a misguided and backward idea, the chair of the Durham and Orange County Libertarian Party said today in a letter to the Chapel Hill News

“The threat technological advancements pose to job security has been used as justification for stifling advancements for centuries,” said Jason Melehani. “Imagine all the jobs we could create if we banned electronic printing of books or banned computers from automating manufacturing processes.”

“These obviously are backwards ideas,” he said. “The ban on direct auto sales in SB 327 is backwards as well.”

Full text of the letter

When Milton Friedman visited China and saw thousands of workers digging a canal with shovels instead of tractors and excavators, his guides told him that this approach created more jobs. Famously, Friedman retorted, “Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?”

On Monday, May 13, the North Carolina Senate, in bipartisan fashion, unanimously approved Senate Bill 327 to ban direct auto sales to consumers by companies like Tesla Motors under the premise that it threatened the jobs of thousands who work at auto dealerships. I suspect the North Carolina Auto Dealership Association played a major role in bringing both parties together to pass this protectionist legislation.

The Senate has missed the point entirely. Their vote is stifling innovation and hurting consumers by preventing competition and leading to increased costs. The NC Senate clearly lacks an understanding of opportunity costs. When consumers are forced to pay more for a good, they ultimately can afford less of that good and others too. As Friedman pointed out, jobs are only as beneficial as the value they add to a process or product.

The threat technological advancements pose to job security has been used as justification for stifling advancements for centuries. Imagine all the jobs we could create if we banned electronic printing of books or banned computers from automating manufacturing processes. These obviously are backwards ideas. The ban on direct auto sales in Senate Bill 327 is backwards as well.

Jason Melehani
Chair, Durham and Orange County Libertarian Party

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GOP Tax Fairness Plan is Unfair

by J.J. Summerell
Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

The tax reform plan announced by state Sen. Phil Berger is just another charade designed to make citizens think Republicans are actually reducing taxes. Calling it the Tax Fairness Act and claiming it’s the largest tax cut in state history is misleading at best.

In fact, it isn’t fair and it isn’t a tax cut. Senator Berger and the other Republican leaders at their press conference last week probably used the word “fair” hundreds of times.

No tax is fair. Taxes are inherently unfair. Every tax hurts someone. The only difference between taxes proposed by Republicans and Democrats is which special interest group is going to benefit and which is going to pay.

Granted, Senator Berger’s plan moves North Carolina from a system of taxation that taxes production to a taxation system that taxes consumption. This is a step in the right direction, but only a small, miniscule step rather than the major reform that is needed. The individual and corporate income taxes should be repealed immediately. One hundred percent repealed, not simply marginally reduced.

A “revenue neutral” plan that increases the number of things taxed can’t be called a tax cut. Nor can it be called “fair,” because it shifts the tax burden onto the backs of those least able to pay.

The truth is, Republicans and Democrats believe the same thing. They insist that only way to fund what they claim are essential government programs is through taxes. Whether the tax is proposed by a liberal or a conservative, the idea is based on one premise: you don’t own your money or the fruits of your labor because the State has the right to take what it wants.

Only Libertarians believe that you own the fruits of your labor and enterprise, and that government does not have the right to take it from you. We believe taxation is by its very nature destructive to the economy, especially job creation.

We propose to reduce the need for increased taxes by reducing the size of state government in every way possible. We would use the John Locke Foundation’s “Budget for Growth” as a starting point. Ending corporate welfare and state aid to special interests would save over $100,000,000 annually with no cuts to other programs.

Libertarians agree with Senator Berger on one point. We can’t fix the broken state tax code by nibbling at the edges. Yet his tax plan does just that. The senator proposes minimal change. Libertarians propose radical change.

North Carolina’s tax code is obsolete and oppressive to the working class. Libertarians are working to change that.

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LP Statement on Boston Bombings

The Libertarian Party extends heartfelt sympathies to the surviving families of the victims and all who were harmed by the senseless and violent bombing in Boston on April 15 and its aftermath. We applaud the efforts of Boston-area residents and law enforcement officials who helped to remove the immediate threat of additional harm from the alleged perpetrators.

While we are relieved that the Justice Department has assured that the surviving bombing suspect will receive a civilian trial, we are troubled that, according to news reports, he was not read his Miranda rights prior to questioning. Regardless of the severity of the crime, upholding individual rights is paramount. We call for ensuring that all criminal suspects, including alleged terrorists, are Mirandized and offered the right to an attorney before questioning. We also call for ensuring that all such interrogations be, without exception, properly monitored and videotaped.

We are further troubled by reports of martial law tactics, including the alleged orders issued by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick for residents to stay inside their homes and for stores to stay closed. Visiting homes to inquire of suspect sightings or politely requesting that residents stay off the streets — without any threat of force — is a reasonable measure for authorities to take during an emergency. However, threatening force in any way is a breach of our constitutional rights and is unacceptable. Going forward, we call for laws that impose criminal penalties on any government official who oversteps his or her authority or who in any way diminishes our constitutional protections.

While we strenuously condemn acts of violence against innocent men, women, and children as occurred on April 17, we also condemn the U.S. government’s routine perpetration of such injustice on others throughout the world. As one example, U.S. drone strikes kill many times more civilians than terrorists.

Such disregard for human life is morally reprehensible. In addition, it unnecessarily engenders enemies of the United States.

Spokespersons for the military claim that the federal government does whatever it can to minimize civilian casualties. Perhaps it does from their current perspective. But from an honest and realistic perspective, their perpetual calls for military action do not minimize civilian casualties, but instead increase them.

To avoid harming innocent others, the Libertarian Party urges President Barack Obama and members of Congress to:

  1. Stay out of foreign conflicts, including Syria. The goal of our military should be defense only, not attempting to brutalize the world into acceptance of our cultural values, to impose “democracy” (its practice in U.S. elections leaves much to be desired), to control foreign resources, or to intervene for other purposes.
  2. Immediately end all trade sanctions, including sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Sanctions all too often end in war, as was the case in Iraq. They furthermore disrupt the peaceful influence of international businessmen and women who have every incentive to avoid war and violence.
  3. Begin to shut down the vast majority of our foreign military bases and bring our troops home. Our wealthy allies can pay for their own defense, and our military bases in less friendly areas serve to create more enemies.
  4. Immediately end all military alliances, including those associated with NATO. The Cold War is over. We have enough nuclear weapons to destroy every country on earth. No country can reasonably declare war on the United States. The kind of terrorism we deal with cannot be addressed by massive military alliances. If a threat were to arise large enough to require an allied force to fight it off, we can create a new alliance at that time.
  5. Immediately reduce military spending by 60 percent or more. When companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Northrup Grumman profit from war, they have a powerful incentive to use their influence to encourage military conflict. Canceling multi-billion-dollar contracts for unneeded fighter planes, ships, and other military equipment will reduce the incentive to lobby for military adventurism. Associated cuts in government spending will reduce the deficit, reduce inflation, and stimulate the private sector economy, creating job growth.

“The United States’ vast military arsenal is much too big, wildly overpriced, and morally unjustifiable. In addition, high government spending to fund the military contributes significantly to inflation and the risk of an economic collapse,” said Geoffrey J. Neale, chair of the Libertarian National Committee. “By dramatically reducing military spending and adopting a noninterventionist foreign policy, we will foster peace throughout the world, preserve Americans’ wealth, and make America safe.”

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