Rules Are Rules

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Got them authoritarian local gub’mint blues:

A woman fighting a terminal form of bone cancer is trying to raise money to help pay bills with a few weekend garage sales, but the city of Salem says she’s breaking the law and is shutting her down.

Jan Cline had no idea, but the city of Salem has a clear law that states a person can only have three yard sales a year.

Cline has been selling her stuff in the backyard for a few weekends and said she thought she’d be fine by keeping the sale out of everyone’s way.

“It’s a struggle,” Cline says. “It’s a struggle for me because I’m very independent, used to taking care of myself.”

She’s run businesses and supported herself for years but this summer she was diagnosed with bone cancer.

“It’s a bone marrow cancer that eats through the bones and causes holes in the bones so that just by walking I can break a bone,” she says.

In one day she lost her independence, her ability to work and earn an income that could pay for all those medical bills.

So she decided to sell what she owned. The sale was bringing in several hundred dollars each weekend until one neighbor complained and she got a visit from the city.

“He said, ‘I’m sorry. Rules are rules.’”

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79 Responses to “Rules Are Rules”

  1. #1 |  Aaron | 

    Can she hold it at a neighbor’s?

  2. #2 |  Aaron | 

    Ah, it’s 95.165, available at http://www.cityofsalem.net/Departments/Legal/Salem%20Revised%20Codes/Miscellaneous.pdf . I see reports for 96.165, which is not the case.

    It looks like non-profits are exempt.

  3. #3 |  Mannie | 

    Burn the rat fink neighbor out, then hold it in their yard.

  4. #4 |  Mike | 

    Sometimes anonymous neighbor complaints have a happy ending: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/article_df87525c-c858-11e0-b8cf-001cc4c002e0.html

  5. #5 |  InMD | 

    I know this is going to get a bad reaction here but my feeling on this has less to do with the (admittedly stupid) law and is more disgust that the healthcare system in this country is so problematic that a woman has to resort to selling her possessions just to pay her medical bills.

  6. #6 |  Toddzilla | 

    I suppose friendlier neighbors than the rat could host yard sales in their own yards instead. Every third week a different neighbor could host since each person gets three a year.

  7. #7 |  2nd of 3 | 

    Thank goodness it wasn’t an HOA, or she’d be homeless right now.

  8. #8 |  SJE | 

    I just read a story about a guy who got an exotic tropical disease. Because the drug to treat it is not yet approved by the FDA, he had to get special approval through the FDA. That took at least another month. So while parasites course through his bloodstream, and a large festering boil marks his face, paperwork must be done.

  9. #9 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Wow! That should be the inscription they put up over the entrance to the new building that they will eventually build for the United States Department of Health Care.

    “I’m sorry. Rules are rules.”

  10. #10 |  TomG | 

    #5 inMD – no, you won’t get an unsympathetic reaction from me. One thing about most discussions on “the high cost of healthcare” is that they neglect the elephant in the room: monopolistic restrictions on who can provide healthcare, which drives up the cost and lowers patient choice.
    Now, this doesn’t have an easy simplistic answer, but the fact that most non-libertarians either don’t realize the situation, or naively insist that healthcare is a right (which means demand is not tied to cost or practicality, or again, CHOICE) means that the quality AND COST of healthcare will be sub-par for awhile longer.

  11. #11 |  Highway | 

    InMD, I’m really not as concerned that someone would have to ‘sell their possessions’ to afford medical care to deal with something like bone cancer. It’s possible that they overbought (overconsume?) things with any extra money in their pocket, not leaving any to deal with medical expenses. Or she bought things instead of medical insurance (which could still turn out to be the right decision, depending on how things turn out). Of course, the things she bought weren’t really investments, and selling at a yard sale sure isn’t the way to bring in top dollar, but again, that’s a consequence of her choice.

    Medicaid is more of a safety net for folks like this, but is means tested (some would say rightfully including me), so to qualify for that, she’d need to have less assets anyway. Would it be right to argue that she should be able to keep all the things she’s accumulated?

    Care for something like bone cancer is expensive, and involves sacrifices. I’d have a lot more of a problem with the care angle of the story if it was something like she’s had supposedly full coverage insurance, but was dropped when diagnosed. And I’m entirely sympathetic to the angle it’s been given here: Petty bureaucrats interfering with her attempts to afford health care.

  12. #12 |  Tom Johnson | 

    You can always find an absurd application of any regulation. I’m sure if we looked hard enough we could find an example of someone killed by a stop sign. But preventing people from having weekly “garage sales” is not ridiculous. My grandparents had a neighbor in Chicago who was running a retail outlet out of his garage, and it was a serious disruption of the residential neighborhood.

    Regulations like this are passed because activities on one person’s property can effect other people’s property. The three-sales-per-year limit seems a decent balance of competing interests, protecting the neighborhood from people like my grandfather’s neighbor while allowing people the freedom to sell their unwanted junk. It’s a compromise — imperfect, perhaps, but not unreasonable.

    It’s sad that this woman has cancer and admirable that she’s trying to raise money for her treatment. But the law — which is, admittedly, an ass — doesn’t have an exception for people with really compelling stories. It rightly treats everyone the same. Your outrage on this one is misplaced.

  13. #13 |  Highway | 

    Tom, the problem is that, like many regulations, it’s not addressing what the actual problem is. What was the problem with your anecdote about your grandparents neighbor? It wasn’t the selling things, it was the disruption. So why isn’t there a law about “You may not disrupt the operations of a residential street”? Same thing with this: They’re applying a law that is some sort of inexact proxy for dealing with something that’s been a problem in the past, but it’s a lot easier to make a law saying “You can only have 3 yard sales per year” than it is to say “You cannot do things that block traffic.”

    Obviously this is an incomplete report, but there’s no mention of any real secondary problems from this woman’s sales. Just that she was in violation of a rule. That’s what the problem is here.

  14. #14 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #5 InMD

    I know this is going to get a bad reaction here but my feeling on this has less to do with the (admittedly stupid) law and is more disgust that the healthcare system in this country is so problematic that a woman has to resort to selling her possessions just to pay her medical bills.

    Yeah, in a truly just society, she should be able to make other people sell their stuff to pay for her medical bills. Or better yet, the money should be taken from other people before they actually get to buy stuff with it, because the moment people buy stuff, they selfishly tend to think the stuff is theirs and balk when government, and its innumerable cheerleaders, want to take it away to satisfy their own sense of moral superiority.

    No, people should definitely not have to sell their stuff to pay their medical bills. Or to eat. Or to put a roof over their head. Or to stay warm in winder. Or to get a good education. That’s what other people’s stuff is for.

  15. #15 |  J | 

    InMD- Who else is going to pay for her care? Are you willing to write a check?

    Do you have any comments on how to fix the problems with our healthcare system? Any part of it? Any comment on tort reform, malpractice reform, hospital administration reform, or anything else?

    What do you propose to be a part of the solution instead of the problem?

  16. #16 |  Big Texan | 

    Is anyone else starting to wonder if all this ‘neighbor called with a complaint’ stuff is bullshit. I mean I know my neighbors and I’ve never had a problem with any or know anyone who had a problem neighbor, but I just don’t see somebody caring enough to to call code enforcement. I’ve never heard anyone say that. Which I mean, I would never think of calling the city no matter what so, maybe I’m only seeing through my filter. it just seems like an easy out for some bureaucrat to say that the neighbors had complained when it was really noticed by the bureaucrat. It’s not like anyone can check up on that, so I just the think the neighbor stuff is bullshit. Either way I guess the outcome is the same, just sows distrust in neighborhoods, especially if thought my neighbors were d-bags calling the city on me. I’d never quite look at my neighbors the same way. (which is why I err on the side of it’s bullshit)

  17. #17 |  BamBam | 

    “It’s a struggle for me because I’m very independent, used to taking care of myself.” That’s her problem: she needs to get with it and suck the government teat and run to government (other human beings) to take care of her.

    @16, I doubt it’s BS, it’s called “millions of petty tyrants”
    http://www.strike -the -root. com/millions-of-petty-tyrants

  18. #18 |  InMD | 

    Dave and J: Can either of you point out where in my post I advocated for what you’re claiming I did. Please be specific. If you can your comments might have merit, but you can’t. What you both did do was paint yourselves as the libertarian caricaitures which this blog typically does such a good job disproving. Congratulations.

    I understand that the basic libertarian position opposes the kind of model they have in Britain or Canada. What I don’t understand is the knee jerk reaction many libertarians have to any criticism of our system, as though it is somehow the height of perfection. It has many flaws, and while I can’t claim to know how to fix it, at least my head isn’t in the sand.

    Highway: I think that the article is unfortunately incomplete on the point of what type of coverage she has had up until her illness. Hypothetically if this woman had paid into private insurance her entire life then, yes, I’d say it’s wrong for her to have to sell her possessions because when she got sick she lost her job (which I believe the article implies) and coverage along with it. Now of course we don’t have those details so that may not be the case but that is my primary issue. If people are paying into a system they ought to be covered by it. It’s a major problem that insurance in this country is attached not just to employment but a particular employer.

  19. #19 |  jnc | 

    Somebody with terminal bone cancer is griping about not being able to have a yardsale? I smell me some B.S..

    But, hey, what level of affliction trumps reasonable laws?

    Can you set up a permanent junk sale on your front lawn if you have _non-terminal_ bone cancer? What about if you need a kidney transplant? How about if you broke both legs while skiing?

  20. #20 |  James | 

    What a fantastic article in support of single-payer healthcare.

  21. #21 |  Radley Balko | 

    Somebody with terminal bone cancer is griping about not being able to have a yardsale? I smell me some B.S.

    You lefties seem to lose your compassion right quick when it butts up against the exercise of government power.

  22. #22 |  Radley Balko | 

    What a fantastic article in support of single-payer healthcare.

    Yes. Because the lesson to draw from a story about dictative government bureaucrats enforcing a one-size-fits-all policy regardless of circumstance or consequence is . . . is to put dictative government bureaucrats in charge of healthcare!

  23. #23 |  SJE | 

    #22: Balko wins the thread.

  24. #24 |  tarran | 

    Is anyone else starting to wonder if all this ‘neighbor called with a complaint’ stuff is bullshit.

    When I was a kid, we had a busy body across the street circulating a petition to force our next door neighbor – a retired piano teacher – to stop playing the piano with her windows open in the summer.

    The petitioner was shocked when my mom sent her packing with a suggestion that if the music bothered her she could shut her own windows.

  25. #25 |  Marty | 

    it’d be nice if the IRS got out of our health savings accounts and people could help whoever they wanted with health costs. I’d be willing to siphon some money out of my account to help someone out.

  26. #26 |  jnc | 

    “You lefties seem to lose your compassion right quick when it butts up against the exercise of government power.”

    It’s funny that you think I’m a “leftie.”

  27. #27 |  James | 

    I like my single-payer healthcare, cuz hey no cancer patients and the almost-dead holding yardsales for spare change. Some of the posters around here think that ‘bitch needs to die cuz she bought too much stuff’, so if that makes me a ‘leftie’ I’ll wear it with smug superiority.

    You can peruse the comments for verification.

  28. #28 |  Highway | 

    And some of the posters, like James, are arguing against straw men. But he’s definitely got the ‘smug’ down.

  29. #29 |  Goober | 

    Yes, James, a system which sells other people’s things to pay for this woman’s afflictions, with care directed by uncaring, unflinching, unadaptable bureaucrats will so, like, totally be better and more fair.

    I don’t really understand why a woman selling some of her possesions to pay for her own medical care is such a huge crime to you advocates of “everyone else pays” healthcare. Why does it kill you so much that she is having to make a sacrifice to pay for her medical care? I simply don’t understand. She made her choices. If she’d bought disability insurance, for instance, which every responsible adult in America should have, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?

    What I don’t get it why you don’t do what i do, which is to understand that there are ways for people to insulate themselves against these sorts of things in our system, the way it works RIGHT NOW, but because people are not forced against their will to do these things, some people suffer more than others as a result because they make piss poor choices tht put them into bad situations. I just don’t get why that is MY problem. Especially given that I made good choices.

    For instance, i have both long and short term disability insurance, which covers my bills if i get bone cancer and can’t work. I also have medical insurance, which covers my medical costs if the same happens. Because I have planned ahead, I won’t have to sell my possessions if I get bone cancer. I will continue to make 85% of my current salary (plenty of money, because I live well within my means – another thing more people don’t seem to be able to do).

    This woman didn’t make good choices, obviously, or else she wouldn’t need to be selling her stuff to survive. I feel badly for her, but she made her choices and she should live with them. She should not be a poster child for a cause that wants to hold the gun barrel of government against my head to pay for her care when I’m the responsible one who did the right thing and took care of myself.

  30. #30 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    @26: Since you believe the law and its application are “reasonable,” how about state fellator, then?

  31. #31 |  J | 

    Dave and J: Can either of you point out where in my post I advocated for what you’re claiming I did. Please be specific. If you can your comments might have merit, but you can’t. What you both did do was paint yourselves as the libertarian caricaitures which this blog typically does such a good job disproving. Congratulations.

    I just asked a question. I’m sorry if you think I accused you of advocating anything. You said it’s a problem, I’m simply asking if you have anything to add to the solution part of the equation.

    It’s a very interesting question I think, considering healthcare involves 1/5th of our economy. Kind of hard to reform something that large, no?

  32. #32 |  highnumber | 

    How could she ever raise enough money for her treatments by having yard sales?

  33. #33 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #18 InMD

    What I don’t understand is the knee jerk reaction many libertarians have to any criticism of our system, as though it is somehow the height of perfection. It has many flaws, and while I can’t claim to know how to fix it, at least my head isn’t in the sand.

    Libertarians are in favor of a free market. Our healthcare system is not a free market system so I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that libertarians don’t like it when someone criticizes it (unless their criticism is an argument for even less of a free market system).

    A free market system is one where you pay your own way in a marketplace not influenced by self-serving corrupt politicians and their fan club whose idea of a perfect world is having plenty of other people’s money to spend on “humanitarian” causes.

    Did I misunderstand your comment? I don’t think so. You were clearly taking pity on her for having “to resort to selling her possessions just to pay her medical bills”, right? The woman is doing the one thing that most left-leaning (and many right-leaning) people in the U.S. don’t believe anyone should have to do: pay for their own healthcare. How rude that she should be forced to sell some stuff for something so trivial as extending her life.

    Medical care should just be a given, right? It should just materialize when needed. Of course, it shouldn’t be paid for with other people’s money. Hell it shouldn’t have to be paid for at all. It’s too important to be relegated to the seedy underworld where anything can be purchased… for a price.

  34. #34 |  James | 

    ‘This woman did not make good choices’

    Yes, after a long and serious bit of thinking on whether or not she’d enjoy bone cancer she made the plunge and went in headfirst. Or is it that she didn’t save the tens if not hundreds of thousands required for treatment? Or that she didn’t earn enough, through the glorious free market, to be able to afford health insurance?

    As far as I know, the only choice she made was to hold a couple of yard sales for some spare change, cuz if people recieve cancer treatment through a single-payer system bitch would be straight up robbing you.

  35. #35 |  Highway | 

    InMD, I don’t think I have a knee-jerk reaction to criticisms of the current system. But I will admit that I have a knee jerk reaction to criticisms which then imply that the answer is to further reduce the apparent prices of very very expensive and very very scarce things to those who would consume them, and I believe that not only would single-payer and Obamacare do this, but so does the current system, which has so many problems we can’t get into them in a timely manner.

    So it’s not that the system we have now is great, or even good. It’s that the general reaction to sad stories is worse.

  36. #36 |  celticdragonchick | 

    Dave Krueger

    Yeah, in a truly just society, she should be able to make other people sell their stuff to pay for her medical bills. Or better yet, the money should be taken from other people before they actually get to buy stuff with it, because the moment people buy stuff, they selfishly tend to think the stuff is theirs and balk when government, and its innumerable cheerleaders, want to take it away to satisfy their own sense of moral superiority.

    You really are a pathetic, bitter, son of a bitch.

    Remind me not to save you from a car crash or some other mishap, since that would mean I might have to use a resource that I could better put to use satisfying some other whim of my own. Watching you die slowly could be used as an object lesson in not depending on others, after all. Galt-y people stand on their own or not at all, amirite?

    Jebus fucking Christ. You actually resent some of the tax dollars you contributed going to help people with horrible diseases.

    I have no way to express the contempt I have for you.

  37. #37 |  BamBam | 

    @36, it is never ok to forcefully take from one to give to another regardless of “the cause”.

  38. #38 |  InMD | 

    Dave: No, you don’t know that she didn’t pay into the system. You’re just assuming that. What if she was employed in the private sector her entire life, paying out of her paycheck to be insured like most Americans do on her employer’s policy? Like I said to Highway, the article is silent as to that, though I believe the implication is that she lost her coverage when she got too sick to work. What does it say about a system when an individual pays an insurance company for years, under the theory that should that individual ever become ill they will be covered, only to lose that coverage for the precise reason one carries insurance to begin with?

    Those are circumstances under which a person has been responsible but is failed by the healthcare system. It’s even worse from a libertarian perspective when one considers that under the American structure, private companies collect profits from people who rarely use insurance in the firm knowledge that the tax payer foots the bill for those who can’t be profitably insured (the elderly, the poor). There’s nothing more antithetical to small government and free markets than a system that hides costs, privatizes profits with no benefit in quality or competition, and socializes losses.

    Where are you coming up with stuff about a right? No one has said anything about healthcare as a right other than you. If you must know I don’t think healthcare should be a right, and indeed I think treating it as such confuses the American legal tradition of what constitutes a right. I do however believe that we can do better. Further I find the idea that you’re ever going to totally purge the government from healthcare in a modern country so naive as to signify a profound disconnect from reality. Go ahead though and keep coming up with things no one has said in order to oppose arguments which no one on this thread has made.

  39. #39 |  InMD | 

    Highway:

    I don’t believe you have a knee-jerk reaction either. That comment was directed at other posters.

    We’ll simply have to agree to disagree regarding the reaction. I’m not an idealist and understand that there is no perfect policy. However the status quo isn’t sustainable.

  40. #40 |  benEzra | 

    “How could she ever raise enough money for her treatments by having yard sales?”

    Keep in mind that someone can have full-coverage insurance and *still* not have enough money to pay medical bills.

    If I have the misfortune to get sick and be taken to a non-PPO hospital, my insurance coverage (that I pay $800/month for) will pay *60%* of the bill after all deductibles. Sixty fricking percent. If I go to a PPO hospital, the payment is 80 percent.

    Maybe a lot of people are wealthy enough to afford twenty or forty percent of a cancer treatment bill without having yard sales, but a whole lot of people aren’t. And $DEITY forbid you should lose your job when you get sick; COBRA is completely out of reach of most unemployed, so your coverage is kaput, regardless of how many tens of thousands you’ve paid in premiums and how little you’ve used up to that point…

  41. #41 |  Highway | 

    InMD, this part here is what led me to believe that it’s likely not an insurance dis-coverage issue:

    She’s run businesses and supported herself for years but this summer she was diagnosed with bone cancer.

    It’s not necessarily code or a slam dunk, but that kinda makes me think ‘self-employed’ or ‘changed jobs often’. Neither are really conducive to having health insurance, given that generally so much of the cost is ‘provided’ by an employer. So I think it’s completely plausible that she didn’t have insurance at the time of the diagnosis.

  42. #42 |  captainahags | 

    it is never ok to forcefully take from one to give to another regardless of “the cause”

    It must be nice to know that you’ll never need emergency medical care that you can’t pay for because you’ve got enough to pay for your insurance or to go out of pocket. And it’s a good thing you won’t be going on social security or medicare when you get older! Also good to hear that the college education in your future or past will be/was paid for in full, without assistance. And that hovercar you drive to avoid touching public roads must be real neat. I wish we could all be as rich as you.

  43. #43 |  CK | 

    @36
    Taxes are never “contributed”, a contribution is voluntary. Taxation is theft; all taxation is theft. Once you have helped steal from me, I am not too interested in your motives or your excuses or your whinings; your a thief and all the high sounding rationalizations will not change that status.
    I have immense distaste for thieves and politicians — but that is redundant isn’t it.
    Civilized individuals voluntarily help others for many reasons. As soon as the guns and the truncheons and the uniformed drones enter the picture, civility and voluntary exchange exit. That you would enjoy watching someone slowly die because they have a different set of opinions than you is truly a Perfidious Albion thing I suppose.
    And, as an aside, I do wish some of the commenters bandying about the “Galty” descriptor would at least read the novel you are referencing. The first thing the “Galty” types do is arrange a voluntary society. It’s not Galt’s one man submarine; it’s Galt’s Gulch. A community of civilized, like-minded voluntarists.
    The statist fellators always have contempt at their lips for those who don’t bend the knees and assume the position.

  44. #44 |  Tom Johnson | 

    #13 @Highway — making laws more subjective is not a good formula for making their interpretation less absurd. Again, this is a tragic circumstance, but I’m not sure if we looked really hard we’d find another case where someone’s life was significantly impacted in any tangible way by this law or others like it. Granted, there is a largely abstract loss of freedom, and you may even believe that if people want to run retail businesses out of their garages they ought to be able to do that. But I suspect that lack of regulation would cause more problems than a fairly sensible and objective standard like this.

  45. #45 |  celticdragonchick | 

    Taxes are never “contributed”, a contribution is voluntary. Taxation is theft; all taxation is theft.

    It is the membership fee for being in a modern society. You can always go somewhere else that doesn’t have societal stratification, although that means you go quite a bit down in terms of complexity (as in no role specialization…like hunter-gatherers). I suggest the interior of Papua New Guinea. If you like macadam roads, modern building materials and educated people who provide modern convenience To say nothing of polite company), you will have taxes. Either get primitive or shut the fuck up.

    Civilized individuals voluntarily help others for many reasons. As soon as the guns and the truncheons and the uniformed drones enter the picture, civility and voluntary exchange exit.

    Altruism is great. It also entirely logical to skip out on your share and let somebody else do the heavy lifting if you can get away with it when it comes to societal jobs that have to be done. Why should I contribute to anybody elses well being if I think you will be taking care of it? We have several hundred years of experience in this country and Great Britain showing that voluntary charitable contributions do not even come close to dealing with major social problems (check out Victorian London and the nightmares in orphanages, or the preposterous incidence of forced prostitution in 19th Century American cities and in GB)

    Now, if you have no problem with Dickenesian Hell Holes, then drive on, by all means. Other people obviously did have a problem with it, and since social problems do tend to affect (and infect as well) other strata in the society, monies were collected via taxation to improve the lot of the society as a whole, including education, sanitation and health.

    You call it theft. Of course, you also might not even be alive if that cholera outbreak you paid to prevent wasn’t succesfully prevented. That kind of thing really used to be a sonavabitch. Maybe you should see it as an investment. You invest in your society to help you while you help out as well.

    That you would enjoy watching someone slowly die because they have a different set of opinions than you

    My comment to that effect was rhetorical. I would have thought was obvious, since I used rather absurd logic in presenting it. I would most certainly not stand by and watch a person die, no matter what my personal feelings.

    And, as an aside, I do wish some of the commenters bandying about the “Galty” descriptor would at least read the novel you are referencing. The first thing the “Galty” types do is arrange a voluntary society.

    I was thinking of a quote from “Atlas Shrugs” concerning not living for another person or having them live for me or some such. That goes right out the fucking window when you have a kid.

    Again, interdependence is mandatory in an advanced, stratified society. This is basic anthropology. Your “voluntary society” had better have an awful lot of skill sets. It also better have a government and some enforcement mechanism, since human beings will tend to do shitty things eventually. Oops! Your voluntary society found a couple of assholes that nobody likes! How do you get rid of them? Beats me…

    The statist fellators always have contempt at their lips for those who don’t bend the knees and assume the position.

    You really are too funny for words.

  46. #46 |  BamBam | 

    @42, your statements don’t change the base premise. Are you ok with using force to take from one to give to another? This is a YES or NO answer question.

  47. #47 |  BamBam | 

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tax
    a sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc.

    The demand is backed with force in the form of other humans willing to KILL YOU because other humans said it was ok.

  48. #48 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    There are three things I would like to see changed in our present ‘health Care System” before I’m even willing to talk about having the government (which haas a genius for making things more expensive and harder to get) take over;

    1) Last time I checked (and if I’m wrong, please tell me; I would be delighted to be wrong) there hadn’t been a new Medical School accredited in the U.S. for at least a quarter of a century. That needs to change; it keeps the supply of doctors artificially low.

    2) The AMA is supposed to keep an eye on its members and discipline them as needed. It doesn’t. My wife has TWICE been prescribed post operative medication that would have killed her – which data was ON HER CHART – by surgeons who were too busy, too egotistical, too SOMETHING to read her chart and pay attention. I don’t want such idiots to lose their license, but I would think that such incidents should result in temporary loss access to hospital facilities. They don’t. Somebody should be put in place to fix this. If the AMA won’t do it, it may have to be the government. Maybe threatening to give it to the government would get the AMA off its collective fat rear.

    3) Tort reform might make it hard for poor people to collect damages if a doctor screws up their lives, but not nearly as hard as it would be if the government was running the whole shebang.

    Get these three items taken care of, and if after five years matters aren’t improving I’ll listen to the pitch for ‘single payer’.

    I just can’t see our government doing conspicuously better than the British – and their National Health is a shambles.

  49. #49 |  celticdragonchick | 

    @46

    False dilemma…but if you consider it “force” to pay your dues to live in society…get the fuck off the public roads, get off the power grid we subsidized to have built and for that matter, get the hell out of the country completely, since we are also paying for your defense.

    Most of the rest of us are willing to put up with the annoyance of some taxation in order to have civilization. We have a representative government that we elect to decide how it is spent.

    You can go out and try to build a farcical libertarian utopia that has never existed in all of human history and hope that Thomas Hobbes was dead wrong.

    I sure as fuck wouldn’t bet my life on it.

  50. #50 |  Highway | 

    Tom Johnson, the police are always going to have discretion, even if the law is super clear. But my point is what is the actual thing that we’re trying to stop? It’s the disruption. But instead of a law saying “If your actions disrupt the operations of the street, then you face a fine and will have to disperse” they make a law that says “You can’t have a retail business.” So someone has yard sales, which aren’t the same. So they add another law that’s yard sales. Then someone else has a party 3 nights a week and clogs up the road, do we pass a law saying each house can only have a party 3 times a year? Why not a law that is clear about what the problem is? How is that any more subjective for the police? They still have the options of what to do when they get there. And don’t we want some subjectivity?

    People get into this mode of making rules passive-aggressively. They don’t like some secondary effect of someone else’s action, but instead of saying “We don’t like this secondary effect, so don’t do anything that causes it” they make a law against the action, even if the action could be done without the secondary effect. And that’s how we end up being guilty of 3 felonies a day.

  51. #51 |  CB | 

    I really have nothing to add. Dave Krueger has already done a great job of saying it. You are a moral beacon, Dave! Keep it up. Keep the de-brainwashing coming!

    @ celticdragonchick
    > It is the membership fee for being in a modern society.

    “Protection” payments to the mob would also be the “membership fee” required to live or do business in certain neighborhoods. Taxes are no different. And yes, you can always leave but that does not eradicate the immorality of the shakedown–even if the mobsters used the money to pay for dying children’s cancer treatments. It doesn’t matter what they do with the money. They stole it in the first place and taking it by force, just as the government does, is immoral.

    >You can always go somewhere else that doesn’t have societal stratification

    This “solution” that you propose violates property rights, at the very minimum, but I’m not going to bother to explain the philosophy to you; you obviously are okay with the state and its double standards of morality, which is really no moral code at all.

  52. #52 |  JOR | 

    If you accept the legitimacy of taxation you accept the absolute moral sovereignty of the state, and forfeit any rationale for complaining about, say, concentration camps or carpet bombing campaigns. To say nothing about drug laws and SWAT raids. The illegitimacy of such things seems more intuitively plausible than the legitimacy of taxation as a “membership fee for being in a modern society” or some similar mystical nonsense.

  53. #53 |  croaker | 

    @4 And now the neighborhood needs to hold a blanket party for the “anonymous neighbor”. Yeah, they know who it is.

  54. #54 |  Tom Johnson | 

    #52 JOR The legitimacy of taxation is dependent on taxes being the result of democratic processes. We vote to tax ourselves or not, and our commitment to democracy requires us to accept majority rule even when it goes against us. The idea, prevalent in this thread, that taxation is theft is…well, the word “stupid” comes to mind.

    If a community votes to fund a community benefit — roads, meat inspections, national defense — through taxation, that taxation is not theft in any sense of the word. That sort of absolutism makes both rational discussion and productive governance impossible. There is no such thing as a civilized, advanced society without taxation or regulation.

    Freedom, perhaps paradoxically, is greater and more assured in societies that set limits and require certain behaviors. We would not be a more free society without laws; we would just be oppressed by something other than government, something that we likely would have no control over. For example, capitalism wasn’t stronger before anti-trust regulation.

    The acceptance of democratically agreed upon taxation is not automatically the acceptance of concentration camps and absolute government power. Your equation of taxation and genocide is not a sign of depth of thought. Just the opposite; it’s the sign of ideological rigidity and a complete lack of clarity. So yeah: I reject your argument.

  55. #55 |  captainahags | 

    To the various “taxation is theft” commenters out there- I’ve yet to hear a satisfactory answer to how exactly you propose to do things like maintain fire and police protection (okay, given the numerous incidents chronicled on this blog you might not want police protection. Whatever) safe roads, or national defense.

    Let’s just say that you pay no taxes and live in this “Galt’s Gulch.” Who exactly fixes the huge pothole in the road that everyone drives on in the morning? Since public utilities workers are usually paid with tax dollars, there’s none of them, and with them goes, most likely, the knowledge and equipment required to fix it. Not to mention the fact that there’s really no incentive to fix it anyway- Why would I go out of my way to fix something that’s going to take a lot of my time, effort, and probably money, when I’m not going to be compensated for it, other than the slightly easier drive to wherever I go in the future? And, since it can be assumed that everyone is reasonably logical, no one would make that kind of investment- everyone would just hope that someone else will do it.

    But- there is a magical solution! Everyone could voluntarily pitch in some money to hire someone who has the know-how and equipment to fix the hole! And maybe sooner or later, everyone decides to just get a fund going that’s non-specific in purpose, so that if more holes come up, or if there’s a fire, etc. it can be used to solve that problem. But then, the people decide that they’re tired of the few people who benefit from these improvements without pitching in, and so they enact a system to collect the money owed for such services- hey! Taxes!

    You may not agree that your taxes are what you pay for living in a specialized society. In which case I invite you to not use anything not 100% paid for by you personally or made by your volunteer effort. Hell, I’d pay your tax bill just to watch you try to do that.

  56. #56 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The biggest problem with our healthcare system (bar none) is that is insulates the consumer from the price of the services he is using. And, of course, that is the single thing that is absolutely off the table in any discussion of fixing the system.

    The reason no one can afford health care, is because competition has been completely stripped out of the system. And because of that, it is growing at double digit rates even in the middle of a serious recession (even as everyone is talking about making it affordable!). About the only segment of the health care industry that is going down in cost is elective procedures. What a fucking surprise.

    So, sorry I don’t buy into all the self-righteousness vomited up by those who think they own the moral high ground because of their willingness to take other people’s money as long as they say it’s for a compassionate purpose.

    The problem is making healthcare affordable, not getting someone else to pay for it. As it stands now (and for the foreseeable future), our system is a political compromise between the medical industry, the insurance industry, and the politicians. The single entity with absolutely no power or voice is the individual and that’s the world where this woman lives. So pardon me that your bullshit about compassion doesn’t bring a tear to my eye. If there’s any factor that plays absolutely no role in the healthcare debate, it’s compassion. The only real debate going on is how to divide up the loot. Everything else is window dressing.

  57. #57 |  cryingAces | 

    @#43

    It’s a comment like that that sums up why libertarians will never be more than an insignificant third party.

    “The first thing the “Galty” types do is arrange a voluntary society. It’s not Galt’s one man submarine; it’s Galt’s Gulch. A community of civilized, like-minded voluntarists.
    The statist fellators always have contempt at their lips for those who don’t bend the knees and assume the position.”

    Feel free to ‘Go Galt’ anytime now bro, we won’t miss you.

  58. #58 |  M. Steve | 

    @57 “Feel free to ‘Go Galt’ anytime now bro, we won’t miss you.”

    The funny thing is, plenty of people already are. They’re all around you, and you’ll never notice them. “Galt’s Gulch” is not a location, because it no longer need be. Quasi-individuals like yourself, captainahags, and celticdragonchick, who insist on conflating Society and Community with Government will never understand the motivations of those who drop out of your grand experiment, which is probably for the best; the mill always needs willing grist.

  59. #59 |  celticdragonchick | 

    @CB

    This “solution” that you propose violates property rights, at the very minimum,

    What property rights do you refer to? The ones upheld by rule of law and courts paid for by your taxes, perchance?

    The usual alternative is mere acquisition by force, which has been the norm in human history.

  60. #60 |  celticdragonchick | 

    The funny thing is, plenty of people already are. They’re all around you, and you’ll never notice them.

    By all means, please continue. Clearing out deadwood with over-inflated notions of indispensibility is always a worthwhile pursuit, in my estimation. Of course, you reveal the hypocrisy of the entire “Galt’s Gulch” farce. Since it cannot exist in reality without a Deus ex machina like the perpetual motion machine in the book, you are forced to “mooch” off the infrastructure and legal framework of a society you do not actually want to pay into. You want the cake of civilization, but cannot stand the thought of paying for it. Therefore, you are reduced to theft.

  61. #61 |  M. Steve | 

    The eternal plight of the leftist is to know so much and to understand so little.

  62. #62 |  BamBam | 

    Slavery: it gets shit done.
    Taxation: it gets shit done.

    “We have a representative government that we elect to decide how it is spent.”

    Keep on believing that.

  63. #63 |  BamBam | 

    If one won’t answer a simple YES/NO question, dismisses it, and confuses multiple debate points, then there is no further debate that can be had.

  64. #64 |  2nd of 3 | 

    @36, it is never ok to forcefully take from one to give to another regardless of “the cause”.

    Yes it is.

  65. #65 |  celticdragonchick | 

    Slavery: it gets shit done.
    Taxation: it gets shit done.
    “We have a representative government that we elect to decide how it is spent.”
    Keep on believing that.

    Can I play?

    Utopianism: it gets shit done!
    Moping about taxes: it gets shit done!
    Infantile fits about “theft”: it gets shit done!

    This isn’t North Korea. You can leave any time you like and find a society with mores that reflect your own. Good luck with that. Keep in mind that you property rights here are upheld and defended with those taxes you are belly aching about, so wherever you go, you may want to be well armed and sleep lightly.

  66. #66 |  M. Steve | 

    The fact that CDC didn’t actually understand BamBam’s point is unsurprising (see #61). The grand irony is that CDC calls *us* utopian, but truly believes the following:

    “Most of the rest of us are willing to put up with the annoyance of some taxation in order to have civilization. We have a representative government that we elect to decide how it is spent.”

    Such a utopian delusion is a rare sight to behold.

    What has always puzzled me about you leftists is the combination of contempt and schadenfreude you seem to have towards a group that you yourselves admin hold no actual power in our society. Why do you care? Why are you even here, if we are such contemptible creatures who also don’t have any power? What exactly is your pathology? Are you looking for ways to assuage your guilt, as your subconscious is fully aware of the utter baseness of your “philosophy”?

    I’m serious here. Why the fuck do you people waste so much time here if we suck so bad and don’t mean a damn?

  67. #67 |  celticdragonchick | 

    What has always puzzled me about you leftists is the combination of contempt and schadenfreude you seem to have towards a group that you yourselves admin hold no actual power in our society.

    Ah. More of the left/right dichotomy fail.

    I am a Hobbesian realist (which means I am not bullish on human nature). I am not a conservative and I am not particularly liberal except for some some social matters regarding GLBT people. I own two assault rifles. Maybe you need to come up with some different labels for people who disagree with you.

  68. #68 |  M. Steve | 

    If it walks, talks, acts, etc.

    But let’s leave behind your deflection. Answer the question.

    Why do you waste so much time here if we suck so bad and don’t mean a damn?

  69. #69 |  M. Steve | 

    I also have a hard time squaring your claim of “Hobbesian realist” with this comment:

    “Jebus fucking Christ. You actually resent some of the tax dollars you contributed going to help people with horrible diseases.

    I have no way to express the contempt I have for you.”

    If you were serious about being bullish on human nature, then this position should certainly not be enough to draw so much anger.

    What you really mean to say is that you, celticdragonchick, are an enlightened ubermensch, who truly understands the needs of the masses, who clearly couldn’t determine their own best self-interests if their lives depended on it.

    Luckily, the moral depravity of a narcissist lacking self-awareness doesn’t really impress me. It may others, though. Go, then, CDC, go to the people, and let them know their enlightened philosopher-king savior has arrived! Stop wasting your time with the proles.

  70. #70 |  cryingAces | 

    M. Steve,

    I don’t think ‘going Galt’ means ‘sitting around and responding to liberal’s blog comments’. Why aren’t you out producing? If you’re not a producer then you’re a looter or a moocher.

    Also, where is your ‘voluntary society’ going to be?

    Just because libertarians have no power (even Radley has admitted before that the U.S. will never have a minarchist government) doesn’t mean we can’t call you out on spouting off bullshit about Galt’s Gulch, or hearing @CK say wordy sentences such as:

    “Once you have helped steal from me, I am not too interested in your motives or your excuses or your whinings; your a thief and all the high sounding rationalizations will not change that status.”

    (yet ironically misspelling ‘”you’re”), LOL.

  71. #71 |  M. Steve | 

    @70

    No need to even respond. Your own words spotlight your lack of wisdom.

  72. #72 |  captainahags | 

    I can answer the “If we suck so bad” question, M. Steve. It’s because I happen to believe that with respect to civil rights, many libertarians are in the right on most issues. So, I read the blog to keep up to date on the latest civil rights violations and efforts to prevent them. Where I get annoyed though, is this childish idea that you have an absolute right to everything you own, no matter what. If you had the cure for cancer but refused to give it out freely or at a reasonable price, hell yes I think it would be perfectly reasonable for the government, or for that matter all the people who have cancer, to gang up and take it from you. Ultimately, if it comes down to some people being a little worse off in order to prevent some people from dying, I choose to save lives rather than be a selfish, petty child.

    And BamBam, your hysterical comparisons of taxation to slavery are pretty over the top. Seriously, I’m actually surprised you haven’t compared the IRS to Nazis. Do you really believe that forcing people into a life of unpaid labor and brutal abuse is the same as giving up a few dollars out of your paycheck? And where is this yes or no question you’re asking? I seem to have missed it.

  73. #73 |  M. Steve | 

    @72 “I choose to save lives rather than be a selfish, petty child.”

    I quite enjoy the contradiction between the subject of your sentence and the thrust of your argument. “You guys are being way too selfish; instead, we’re gonna do things *my way*!”

  74. #74 |  celticdragonchick | 

    Why do you waste so much time here if we suck so bad and don’t mean a damn?

    It’s called wasting time for no particular reason. I could be painting Games Workshop miniatures, practicing Ballycastle Boys on my harp or reviewing calculus prior to classes starting on Monday. I am here on this thread instead. Go figure.

  75. #75 |  celticdragonchick | 

    @Steve M

    If you were serious about being bullish on human nature, then this position should certainly not be enough to draw so much anger.

    You need to reread what I wrote about human nature. To wit:

    (which means I am not bullish on human nature).

    Hobbesianism and pessimism are generally found together. Hobbes observed the insanity of the English Civil War and the murderous populism of the Cromwell era. He was an avowed Monarchist, since at the time, the English people didn’t do such a hot job of managing their own affairs. Many modern Hobbesian pessimists talk of the need for “Benovolent despots”, espcially in third world nations where rule of law is weak and education/middle class structures are largely absent(as was such in 15th Century England, to some degree).

    While I would not advocate such a policy here or other first world nations (We have a strong tradition of rule of law, good public education etc), I observe that human nature is universal and that our democracy survives only as long as we care to maintain it. You need only look to Hurricane Katrina to see what happens in a breakdown of civil society and lack of law enforcement (and you saw the breakdown with the police as well, let us not forget!).

    I am a geology major with a minor in American History. I am not an anthropologist, although I have taken coursework in the field. Nonetheless, I am perfectly able to obsorve historical patterns and evaluate modern cultural practices. I see no reason to believe that a “purist” libertarian society would be able to function without some degree of support fromn outside sources to gain skill sets and get materials etc, and it would almost ceretainly have to be small (less then 100 people) to avoid severe conflict unless a centralized “law enforcement” mechanism were introduced.

  76. #76 |  celticdragonchick | 

    I quite enjoy the contradiction between the subject of your sentence and the thrust of your argument. “You guys are being way too selfish; instead, we’re gonna do things *my way*!”

    Your insistance on property rights taking precedance over other people’s survival in the hypothetical is interesting. People being what they are, you should not be surprised if somebody comes and takes an item by force if that thing is necessary for the life of a family member. I would, if oush came right down to shove. I suspect you would as well. Other cultures who live a bit closer to life and death subsistance understand this all too well, which is why the Gware in Kenya don;t even have “private property” as we understand it. The cow is not owned by a family…the family has rights to the milk every other day, for instance. The cow is too valuable to the community at large to be a private asset, and decisions made as to whether it is traded or not are made communally.

  77. #77 |  Radley Balko | 

    People being what they are, you should not be surprised if somebody comes and takes an item by force if that thing is necessary for the life of a family member.

    So do you also oppose the FDA’s policy of forbidding private companies fro selling potentially life-saving drugs to dying patients because the agency hasn’t yet approved them?

    Other cultures who live a bit closer to life and death subsistance understand this all too well . . .

    Do you think our system of property rights and enforcement of contracts has anything to with why we’ve come so far from a subsistence economy?

  78. #78 |  celticdragonchick | 

    So do you also oppose the FDA’s policy of forbidding private companies fro selling potentially life-saving drugs to dying patients because the agency hasn’t yet approved them?

    In principle, yes. As a matter of science, I would not be in favor of doing anything that would prejudice a medical study, of course.

    Do you think our system of property rights and enforcement of contracts has anything to with why we’ve come so far from a subsistence economy?

    No. The development of Rule of Law instead of Rule of Great Men is not really connected with agriculture and advances in technology until comparitively recently (patent law protecting intellectual property, for example). Highly stratified and relatively advanced non subsistance societies abound in history without strong protections of property rights or contracts. In fact our very notion of private property is a very culturally specific more and is not universal by any means, as I illustrated earlier. Assuming that you advance out of subsistance by adopting Eurocentric (Anglo-Saxon/Dane Law…specifically) property rights laws has the problem exactly backwards and is unavoidably ethnocentric.

    Property rights are a luxury of excess production and role specialization. Communal property strategies in sub-Saharan Africa are a survival mechanism dictated by the environment. Note that you do not have the same problem in native American traditional societies in the Pacific Northwest, which had a far greater food productivity potential, although the technological capability was roughly the same.

  79. #79 |  Justthisguy | 

    When it comes to “rules are rules!” I am as autistic as the next guy, but when it comes to “that is just unjust”, I tend to get even more autistic and jump up and down and punch walls and things, dammit.

    That thing which Radley posted about is just horribly unjust.

    I mean, My God! This is bone cancer, arguably the most painful Godawful kind!

    C. S. Lewis, I believe, married a woman dying of bone cancer, so that he could better look after her.

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