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Showing posts from August, 2019

The Horrifying Idea that Health Care Is a Right

It’s not uncommon to hear people declare health care a fundamental human right. At least two candidates for U.S. President, Sanders and Warren, would create the obligation for us all to provide health care for everyone through “Medicare for all.” The most common response is to ask how we would pay the tremendous price tag of such a plan. But, while that is a very good question, there is a fundamental moral issue at stake. Every good and service must be produced by someone. Even with automated production, in some way a human hand is integral to creating all we consume. That most definitely includes health care. Therefore, to claim a fundamental human right to anything that must be produced by someone else, especially if it is to be had for free, is to claim a right to another human’s labor. There is a word for this. It’s “slavery.” Scoffing at this fact is easy. After all, doctors in nations that provide free health care to all are paid for their services. They hardly look lik

Massage Therapy Licensing: Violating the Pursuit of Happiness

In a way, America at least partly owes its independence to the conviction that granting exclusive market privileges is an illegitimate function of government. In a free country, no-one has an exclusive right to a market over anyone else. Yet, two and a half centuries after the American Revolution, the old-fashioned kind of monopoly, wherein government grants exclusive privileges, is experiencing something of a revival. In Oklahoma, legally bestowed market advantages are commonplace, and take many forms such as Tax Increment Finance Districts , various special tax credits unrelated to core government functions , and occupational licensing . Today, people use the word “monopoly” to refer to a business that has achieved total domination in a market as the result of laissez-faire processes, but not so long ago, a “monopoly” was a business that was bestowed with artificial market-domination and insulated from competition by a monarch. That’s the kind of monopoly conferred on the East

Why Oklahoma's Method for Selecting Judges Is a Bad Idea

The state of Oklahoma selects supreme court justices using a system known as the Missouri Plan, which is a form of merit selection. Advocates paint a rosy picture of the plan, claiming that it is a more sophisticated system than the federal model or the election model and that it strikes the perfect balance between the other two systems. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. Here is how the plan works: the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC), a board of individuals who review candidates for vacancies on the supreme court, selects three candidates to present to the governor. The governor must select one of these candidates. If he does not, after 60 days, the Chief Justice selects one of the candidates to fill the vacancy. Once on the court, justices face an uncontested “retention election” every six years; however, not one justice has been voted off the court in the half century that this system has been in place. On its face this system might seem like a good idea, but

Higher Home Prices, Brought to You by Oklahoma's Occupational Licensing Machine

Increasingly, people across the ideological spectrum recognize the costs of occupational licensing. Almost since its inception, the 1889 Institute has highlighted several of the least justifiable licensing regimes in Oklahoma. Each individual license may seem, if not harmless , then at least only slightly harmful on its own. But the effects add up. It is estimated that licensing costs $203 billion each year, and results in up to 2.85 million fewer jobs nationwide. One of the principle ways Americans build lasting wealth is through home ownership. So a license that interferes with this process is particularly galling.  The transaction costs of buying and selling a home in Oklahoma are too high. This is not a matter of opinion, like “the price of gas is too high” or “the luxury goods I would like to own cost too much.” It is an empirical fact. The way Oklahoma regulates the Abstracting and Title Insurance industries tangibly and demonstrably impacts the cost of buying and