Presentation by Randal O’Toole of CATO

No happy hour this week! See “change of plans” below:

The American Dream turned into a nightmare when the housing bubble burst, and people have been trying to figure out who to blame- Greedy bankers? Corrupt politicians? Ignorant homeowners? In American Nightmare: How Government Undermines the Dream of Homeownership, Randal O’Toole explores the forces at play in the housing market and shows how we can rebuild the American dream of homeownership by eliminating federal, state, and local policies that distort the free market for housing.

Please join the Independence Institute and Liberty on the Rocks for a presentation with Mr. O’Toole on Wednesday evening, June 20 at the Independence Institute.

When: Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 5:30-7pm
Where: Independence Institute | 727 E. 16th Ave., Denver

5:30 PM Refreshments
6:00 PM Presentation

R.s.v.p. to or 303-279-6536 X 102

Randal O’Toole is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute & Independence Institute working on urban growth, public land, and transportation issues.

Can’t make it? View the event LIVE online from 6-6:45 (MDT) tonight!

The True Environmental Impact of Rail Projects + Beer!

Converse and drink with fellow liberty enthusiasts on Wednesday, October 12 at Choppers Sports Grill in Cherry Creek from 7-9 pm!

Our special guest for this bonus happy hour will be Randal O’Toole of the CATO Institute, who will spend 10-15 minutes (followed by Q & A) discussing the harmful impact high speed rail has on the environment (despite claims that it is about “going green”).

When: Wednesday, October 12th (Bonus happy hour!) from 7-9 pm
Where: Choppers Sports Grill | 80 S. Madison Street in Denver, CO

***About Randal O’Toole***

Mr. O’Toole is a Cato Institute Senior Fellow working on urban growth, public land, and transportation issues. He travels extensively and has spoken about free-market environmental issues in dozens of cities. In his book The Best-Laid Plans, O’Toole calls for repealing federal, state, and local planning laws and proposes reforms that can help solve social and environmental problems without heavy-handed government regulation.

O’Toole’s latest book is Gridlock: Why We’re Stuck in Traffic and What to Do About It, in which he presents a wide range of innovative ideas and policy recommendations for creating an effective transportation system.

Scott Brown for Senate – An Ideal Choice?

Considering the buzz about the Massachusetts special election and candidate Scott Brown, I decided to do a little research into what the man was all about.  I was hoping to find a true liberty-driven candidate, but was a bit disappointed.  That is not to say that he doesn’t have some good qualities.  He does claim that he will reduce taxes and spending and has signed the Americans For Tax Reform (ATR) Taxpayer Protection Pledge (which I give him kudos for).  He also claims he will vote against Cap-and-Trade and the Health Care legislation, and will no doubt be better than the Democrat candidate Martha Coakley.

However, what concerned me (among other things) was his stance on the Massachusetts Health Care Reform plan that was passed under Governor Romney in 2006.  On his site he lets readers know, “In Massachusetts, I support the 2006 healthcare law that was successful in expanding coverage, but I also recognize that the state must now turn its attention to controlling costs.”  I don’t have a problem with his attention turning to controlling costs, but I can’t comprehend his support for the health care law. I honestly don’t see how anyone not completely outraged by that law can be a true lover of liberty.

In defending his stance on the 2006 law, he claims that although he does not agree with the current health care legislation, he does “…believe that all Americans deserve health care coverage…”.  That sounds to me as though he believes Americans have some sort of a right or claim to health care.  I very much disagree with this stance and I think it is part of the reason for the mess we (and especially residents of Massachusetts) are currently in.

Our rights as individuals include the rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. These are things which can be enjoyed by an individual without violating the rights of another. In the article Health Care Is Not A Right, Leonard Peikoff of the Ayn Rand Institute states, “Observe that all legitimate rights have one thing in common: they are rights to action, not to rewards from other people.” The bottom line is that these rights do not impose obligations onto others. As we all know, when obligations are imposed, an individual no longer has the right to life, liberty and happiness. If a group is able to force an individual to work for the purpose of their choosing, can we claim that they are truly living their own life and maintaining their liberty?  If not, what exactly should we call that?  Research by the Tax Foundation looks into how many days an American spends throughout the year working for the government (i.e. not for themselves).  For the last few years, most Americans have worked until sometime in April before they could celebrate their Tax Freedom Day – the day they are able to keep the fruits of their labor for themselves and their families.  If this isn’t considered forced labor, I’m not sure what is.

In addition to the morality of the issue, the Massachusetts Health Care Reform plan has been a tremendous failure.  While many claim that it has been a success that the Federal Government should look to for guidance, Senior Fellow of the CATO Institute, Michael Tanner, has to disagree.  His issue paper Massachusetts Miracle or Massachusetts Miserable: What the Failure of the “Massachusetts Model” Tells Us About Health Care Reform shows how, “…experience so far suggests that the “Massachusetts model” actually provides an object lesson in how not to reform health care. The program has failed even by its own goal criteria of achieving universal coverage. It has failed to restrain the growth in health care costs. And it has greatly exceeded its initial budget, placing new burdens on the state’s taxpayers.”

An article in the New York Times last summer announced that the Boston Medical Center was suing the State of Massachusetts, with the charge  that “its costly universal health care law is forcing the hospital to cover too much of the expense of caring for the poor.”  The NY Times reports that “State officials expressed surprise at the lawsuit, saying that Boston Medical received $1.5 billion in state funds in the past year and should not be seeking more in the midst of a fiscal crisis.” But who is seeking more? Is it not the legislature who keeps promising more and more programs and “freebies”?

When the government forces the hospital to pay to insure individuals of the state, there is no doubt there will be problems, and these will ultimately affect their patients. The hospital will either have to raise costs for those who can pay, lower care and/or service by cutting down on staff and/or equipment or perhaps even go out of business. It’s difficult to comprehend how anyone can think this situation is sustainable, or wise.

I am no doubt sick of what the Democrats are doing to this economy and our freedom and would like to see more congressman who will vote against devastating legislation such as Cap-and-Trade, but I am concerned about our future.  If our choices continue to be the lesser of two evils (see my past post on this), will we ever get freedom back in America?  I think eventually, we are going to have to take charge no matter who is in office, and I very much hope it is through peaceful means.