How to stop Big Brother – A Constitutional Amendment

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

We’ve all seen them; and we may have gotten a friendly letter in the mail from our local government as a result of them as well. Those infernal speed and/or traffic light cameras.red-light-camera-springfield-ohio[1]

The people who advocate for them say that they are a deterrent to dangerous driving and therefore reduce accidents, but when scientists actually tabulated the results, it turns out those making the “deterrent” argument are often mistaken. big_brother_obama_parody_poster-p228489253510086489tdcp_400[1]

I’m not completely ignorant of the potential benefit of these devices. During the investigation of an accident, all that is truly desired is the truth; these cameras can provide that. If for instance, an accident occurs, and in an attempt to determine who was at fault, the police wish to review footage from a camera, then this is a very good and fair use of such devices.

But when these devices trigger legal action, this is what changes such machines from a technology advancement in investigation towards the ominous Big Brother. George Orwell’s 1984 was not a heart warming story where Big Brother was a robotic June Cleaver after all, I suspect people from almost all political sides were bothered by it.

The reason this is wrong is that it defies the purpose of our government, which by design, exists solely to protect our rights. As such, the point of traffic laws is to ensure people drive safely so as not to harm other motorists, violating their right to life and/or property. The financial penalties should be to help pay for the people to do the work of enforcing traffic laws and to serve as an incentive not to do it again. The government is not a business intended to make a profit, so revenue generation outside the tax structure violates the core of our nation.

So how is a real police officer doing a traffic stop any different from one of these cameras? There are two very important distinctions.

Every day, people manage to drive safely along the highway using the unwritten rule of 5-10 m.p.h. above the speed limit, and they often do so in front of police who rightly determine that as long as people are driving safely, they don’t need to be hassled. But machines cannot make such judgment calls, they are purely indiscriminate.

The second issue is that if an officer on duty sees someone driving unsafely, they will pull them over in an effort to stop them before they harm someone; something I think is often abused, but is necessary nonetheless. There’s never any way to know of course, but it likely saves lives.

A camera doesn’t stop anything however, the motorist continues on their merry way until days later when they receive a letter with their picture on it, if they were driving so dangerous as to likely kill someone, the deed was already done.

So if we understand from the study mentioned above that they are not an effective deterrent, and we know they don’t physically prevent someone from driving unsafely, then their only purpose left in life is investigation, and revenue generation—only one of which should be acceptable.yourspeed[1]

My idea? A “No Big Brother” constitutional amendment. The verbiage would go something like this:

The right of the people to not be policed, fined, or governed by an inanimate object shall not be infringed. Inanimate devices either owned and/or operated by government may not be used as an impetus for legal action.

Governments have already spent millions of taxpayer dollars on these devices, so I’m not suggesting they be scrapped altogether; that would be wasteful. But while 1984 may be fictional, that doesn’t change the fact that these devices are a fairly accurate representation of how something like Big Brother would start if left unfettered. If we endeavor to remain a free country versus a policed-state, that means at some point a line must be drawn.

Our forefathers couldn’t have accounted for this, 1984 was not written or even imagined back then, electricity wasn’t even understood. But this is why they left open the amendment process so that in the future, new restraints on government could be added to fit the times and protect our liberties from an oppressive government, which is the underlying point of the U.S. Constitution.

The line I’m drawing is fairly simple. If  an occurrence needs investigated, use all the technology available to do so. However, if there has been no crime or incident reported, these devices should just be recording information that will be forever ignored.

Our forefathers may not have been able to anticipate a surveillance state, but every ounce of recorded history shows that they certainly didn’t expect nor want the government to be making the king’s ransom.

The often overlooked issue with the Affordable Care Act

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Much like oil, natural gas, and other industries with products we simply can’t often forego, insurance companies operate on a pretty thin profit-margin; on average about 3%. We know this because most are publicly held entities, and must report their earnings. While this seems to be too thin of a margin to be true, it is in large part due to these industries not being subjected to the whims of the market as much as others. They don’t need to build up money in the good times to survive the bad—their business is fairly constant.

For instance, jewelry sales, an industry with profit margins that are significantly higher, often tank in a bad economy—that diamond necklace can wait when times are tough. But, you still need gas and insurance no matter what the economic conditions are.

With that being said, if insurance companies could achieve higher profit margins, they owe it to their shareholders to do so. So why don’t they? The problem is that “pesky free-market capitalism.” If one company raises their rates and another doesn’t, the former better be offering something the latter doesn’t or while their profit margins may rise, their actual profits will sink like a mobster with cement shoes.

So now let’s look at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), because a coworker asked me if I was for or against the law.

First let me point out that I can’t say that I’m completely against the law, it’s 9,625 %$#@ pages, depending on how you count it! I don’t know one hundredth of what is in it. There could be 20 pages worth of things that literally say something to the effect of, “…and The Logical Libertarian blog is to receive a $100,000 monthly stipend” for all I know. In which case, my opinion has just evolved in light of new evidence.

Mitch McConnell Standing Next To A Facsimile Of Obamacare In Print Form
Mitch McConnell Standing Next To A Facsimile Of Obamacare In Print Form

But when I consider that the U.S. Constitution is only six pages long, and it’s a damn-effective framework for a whole country to operate from, I’m pretty comfortable in saying the ACA is probably the quintessential Rube Goldberg of legislation—massively overcomplicated.

However, as people complain about this law for various reasons, one thing that is often overlooked is the intent behind it.

Most of the people behind the ACA take issue with private health insurance companies. While it’s hard to paint a doctor as an uncaring jerk, it’s quite acceptable among the ignorant to attack those evil insurance companies; just watch Bob Beckel on FNC‘s The Five on any given day. The left have conditioned generations of people to forget that insurance companies are simply composed of people with equal unalienable rights as the rest of us, who offer you their money to buy a risk you cannot afford to take yourself. They are not a diabolical monolith hell-bent on draining your blood and back account in one fell swoop.

Bob Beckel - Democratic Strategist on Fox News' The Five
Bob Beckel – Democratic Strategist on Fox News’ The Five

But here’s where the people behind this bill and their atrocious math come in. The ACA was aimed squarely at health insurance costs, not healthcare costs. Since insurance companies are operating on a 3% profit-margin, that means that for every $100 you spend on health insurance, $97 goes to the doctor, medical staff, and insurance company operating costs (something that will have increased, not decreased, to comply with new regulations), $3 goes to the health insurance company’s bank account.

Now lets imagine that this bill completely eradicated every single dollar of health insurance profit, your $100 health insurance bill would now be $97. I don’t know about you, but if I’m trying to reign in burgeoning costs of a bill that’s divided up 97:3, I think I’d focus my efforts on lowering the $97 portion before worrying about the $3 one.

So why didn’t they? I believe there are two issues at play.

Many lawmakers are lawyers by trade, including the president. Legal reforms such as limiting frivolous lawsuits, loser-pays legislation, or my proposal to indemnify people from punitive damages for immediate acceptance of liability (proposed in a previous post here) would severely reduce the income of the ambulance-chaser sub-species of legal counsel.ambulance-chaser_1407[1]

But if we consider the idea that a group of lawyers in Washington are going to pass reforms that would negatively affect the livelihoods of some of their former schoolmates, chances simply aren’t that good. There’s always going to be a sense of loyalty to their fellow law school alum, and sadly it seems to have overridden their oath of office and loyalty to their constituents. These proposed reforms are about justice for those who are being abused by a litigant using the court system as a method of intimidation and ill-gotten gains. There is no rational explanation to oppose them if justice is your goal.

Barack Obama - Harvard Law School
Barack Obama – Harvard Law School

If lowering health care costs isn’t important, just the health insurance costs, they could have opened up insurance markets to increase competition across state lines, dropped coverage requirements, etc., but they didn’t do this either. Capitalism has only been effective for hundreds of years, I’d link to think it has proven itself.

But this bill was passed by people who largely want socialized health care; something they know the populace isn’t willing to accept. They call it “single-payer” because they know “socialism” carries quite the stigma, but I refuse to allow them to rename poison to get me to swallow it.

These lawmakers are offended private health insurance companies even exist because they believe a right to life, and a right to health care are synonymous, and therefore a duty of government. I appreciate the altruism behind it, but that doesn’t make it any less nonsensical.

The problem is that health care isn’t just a thing that exists in the world like food, air, and water that people can consume as needed. It is a service provided by someone who has spent large sums of money and eons of time on education in the field. One person does not, nor ever will have the right to the time and effort of another in a free country.

So if that’s true, and we agree doctors deserve to get paid, why am I against government paying them as a collective then? As cold as it may sound, if I was not physically responsible for you being in a wheelchair, I should not be financially responsible for your wheelchair.

If you want help—ask for it. If I can afford and desire to, I will—it’s called charity, and it’s abundant here. What shouldn’t happen is me being pilfered at the point of government’s gun.

Now that the website is failing, rates are going up, and people are losing their plans that Obama promised they wouldn’t, I think it’s fairly clear that mistakes were made and lies were told. The only way Obama wasn’t lying about being able to keep your plan is if he honestly didn’t know what was in the bill either. The new higher coverage-requirements literally guaranteed this would happen by law.

But maybe they were crazy like a fox all along. Because these policy drops and rate increases, while induced in their entirety by big government, will assuredly be blamed on the evil insurance companies, and then used to promote a healthcare system former Mother Russia would be proud of.

So as we complain about the failed website, the assaults on liberty, the tort reform that didn’t happen, the deregulation promoting competition that were left on the cutting-room floor, and the host of other issues with this law, lets not forget that even if it had been 100% effective, it would still have only lowered costs by a measly 3%, because there was nothing to address health care costs, only health insurance costs; proving once again that math, logic, & reason and big government liberalism are still perfect strangers.