Archive for Regulation

Who Wouldn’t Like A Few More Kiwis?

Dave Killion — April 28, 2013

The Atlantic has an article on open borders that is getting a lot of attention in the libertarian community –

“What if there was a program that would cost nothing, improve the lives of millions of people from poorer nations, and double world GDP? At least one economist says that increased mobility of people is by far the biggest missed opportunity in development. And an informally aligned group of advocates is doing its best to make the world aware of the “open borders” movement, which suggests that individuals should be able to move between countries at will.”

Like abortion, immigration is an area where libertarians are frequently at odds with one another, one concern being the impact of allowing immigration of people who are very likely to be anti-libertarian. In the early days of my libertarian awakening, I felt that some government restrictions were necessary and appropriate, but my eldest son (whose biases had not been so deeply entrenched as my own) gave me an intellectual backhand by asking, “Where, in libertarianism, do you find any defence of the notion that you have the right to initiate violence against peaceful persons crossing some arbitrary and imaginary line?” In that Zen-like moment, I attained enlightenment, and have been an open-borders man ever since.

As such, I advocate for the immediate and total elimination of all state restrictions on immigration and emigration. Knowing that that is unlikely, I would be happy to see someone in Canada pushing for an international treaty allowing open borders between countries. For reasons I’ve discussed previously, I think such an arrangement between the U.S. and Canada might meet too much resistance, but if Albertans don’t bar Newfoundlanders, and Quebecers don’t bar British Columbians, then what objection could Canadians have to any law-abiding New Zealanders? This is doable, and I’d be happy to see it done.

 

At These Prices, You Can’t Afford To NOT Have Heart Surgery

Dave Killion — April 25, 2013

drnickThank goodness that for every area where Canada has regulated innovation near to death, there is a country where the market is permitted freedom. If that were not the case, this world might never see $800 heart surgeries

“Using pre-fabricated buildings, stripping out air-conditioning and even training visitors to help with post-operative care, (the chain of “no-frills” Narayana Hrudayalaya clinics in southern India) believes it can cut the cost of heart surgery”… “Already famous for his “heart factory” in Bangalore, which does the highest number of cardiac operations in the world, the latest Narayana Hrudayalaya (“Temple of the Heart”) projects are ultra low-cost facilities.”

It is a cold fact of nature that your typical Canadian would sooner bleed out and die on the operating table before admitting there are problems with the universal health insurance system. Well, all I can say is ‘Go, India!’ Neither Canada, the U.S. nor any other country is going to see constantly improving health care and perpetually falling prices until governments withdraw entirely from every facet of the health care market. If it weren’t for progress on the margins, we’d have none at all.

 

Hat Tip: Neatorama

Surprise! No One Wants A Sewer Plant Built Next Door.

Dave Killion — April 13, 2013

One often hears city planning defended as the means by which citizens are protected from having a slaughterhouse built next door to them. In fact, it is quite the opposite

“The CRD announced last week it had purchased a $17-million industrial property on Viewfield Road, just metres from the Ashes’ home, as a possible site for a sewage processing facility”… “CRD spokesman Andy Orr sympathized with the couple, but said government land deals tend to be done in secret to avoid price speculation”… “While truck traffic is already heavy in the area, (there are) worries about the likelihood of falling property values.”

In situations like this, residents who oppose attempts to force certain projects into their neighbourhoods are frequently derided as NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard), and criticized for defending their narrow self-interests against the greater good. But consider how different matters would be if this conflict was to be resolved by actors regulated by market forces, rather than a coercive state.

In the latter case, local residents bear a disproportionate burden from the noise, smell, traffic, unsightly buildings, and reduced property values, while the benefits are widely dispersed to others far removed from the project. It is perfectly rational for them to resist. But if those same residents had control over the land use for their immediate area, they would be in a position to receive direct compensation from the operators of the proposed facility. In a case like that, rather than facing local opposition at every possible location, it is likely several communities would actively encourage service providers to consider their neighbourhood. Get the state out of land-use regulation, and you will replace conflict with cooperation.

Canada Defends American Consumers

Dave Killion — April 10, 2013

Here’s a letter to the Calgary Herald –

Your article concerning the determination of Canadian cattle and hog producers to fight against new U.S. regulations for labelling meat (March 12) fails to note that this is a battle not only on behalf of Canadians, but also for American consumers and American workers whose occupations benefit from lower-priced Canadian meat products. Indeed, aside from a few U.S. politicians and the special interests that support them, it is a battle on behalf of all Americans.

It’s true that some of the least competitive U.S. cattle and hog producers will lose business, and some may even have to close down and lay off their employees. But in Canada, every resource that goes into producing meat is a resource that can’t be used to grow cotton or oranges, build wooden boats or furniture, or cater to Canadian tourists traveling abroad. Likely, Canada will turn to the U.S. for help in acquiring these goods and services, and the market will quickly find mutually profitable use for all the resources recently freed from U.S. meat production. Consumers on both sides of the border will benefit from less-expensive goods and services. This is the nature of trade; that the elimination of any barrier is not a zero-sum game, but rather, a win-win proposition.

Central Planning

Dave Killion — April 8, 2013

 

Mistakes happen to us all, so no sense in making a big fuss when they happen. We should keep in mind, though, who pays for mistakes like this (taxpayers) and who doesn’t (those responsible for the error).

Food Freedom

Dave Killion — April 1, 2013

There is no law that prevents you from drinking a bottle of whiskey every day, nor smoking yourself into lung cancer, nor loaning your retirement fund to your prodigal brother-in-law, nor having as much anonymous, unprotected sex with sketchy strangers as you please. In fact, every day people make decisions with potentially devastating, even life-threatening, consequences. But just try to buy raw milk, or meat that has been processed on the same local farm on which the animal was raised, and nanny will spank. Well, some towns in Maine have had enough

“Voters here made their town the fifth in Hancock County to pass a local food sovereignty ordinance that thumbs its nose at state and federal regulations for direct-to-consumer sales of prepared foods and farm products.

In a referendum election on March 4, residents voted 112-64 to approve the “Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance,” which states that producers or processors of local foods are “exempt from licensure and inspection,” so long as the food is sold directly by the producer to a consumer.

The ordinance also makes it “unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights organized by this ordinance.”

Naturally, the state government has declared that the legislation has no weight, despite similar ordinances having previously passed in eight other Maine towns, but I suspect state legislators might be feeling some pressure. Furthermore, such legislation certainly must embolden citizens to disregard state regulations in such numbers that enforcement against consumers could prove impossible. Producers could be a different story, but if the movement keeps its momentum, perhaps even they can escape prosecution.

If only such ordinances could find their way in front of some Canadian municipal governments, perhaps Canadians could achieve the same sort of progress. This looks like another job for the Free Province Project.

Blood Money

Dave Killion — March 31, 2013

If the federal government approves a licence application to open three clinics, willing Canadians may soon be able to make up to $40 a week by selling plasma to Canadian Plasma Resources. Self-interested parties eager to keep market competition out of health care are not supportive

“The chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare said she was shocked by the news that a company in Ontario was planning to pay for plasma.

“The critical issue here is opening up our blood services sector to for-profit companies who have an interest in providing a profit to their shareholders that at times could conflict with the imperative to maintain high quality health standards for Canadians,” Dr. Danielle Martin said in an interview Wednesday at Women’s College Hospital, where she is a family physician.”

Given that about 20,000 Canadians who received tainted blood products from U.S. sources contracted HIV and Hepatitis C, and that those U.S. sources paid for donations, one might think Dr. Martin has a point. One would be mistaken. Although the Canadian system was extensively revamped after the Krever Commission, market forces had already put key players (such as Health Management Associates) out of business. Furthermore, Canada has continued to use products from for-profit companies, to no ill effect –

“…officials distinguish between two uses of plasma. Plasma used for transfusions is always donated as part of an extensive screening and testing system.

Plasma can also processed and purified into therapeutic products using technology that inactivates viruses. For this stream, Canada uses products made from U.S. paid donor plasma.”

In a world where a free market in organ donations is desperately needed, it is depressing that there is even a debate concerning for-profit blood donation. It is doubly depressing that so much of the opposition comes from the medical community, which is bound, by oath, to do no harm. Cross your fingers, and hope the feds do the right thing here.

Utah Man, 22, Regulated To Death

Dave Killion — March 27, 2013

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“SALT LAKE CITY — A 22-year-old man was killed trying to swing through the opening of a 33-meter-tall sandstone arch in a stunt made so popular on YouTube that state authorities recently banned the daredevil activity by commercial outfitters.” (Emphasis mine, link)

Of course, nobody made this young man jump, but if the state hadn’t made it criminal for him to engage a commercial outfitter, what do you think the chances are that the world would have one less grieving mother?

 

 

The State Testifies Against Itself

Dave Killion — March 25, 2013

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This photo comes from an article concerning a seizure of ivory from some poachers in Kenya. I imagine that the authorities like to promote pictures like this because they think it demonstrates that the government is effective in catching and punishing poachers. But it doesn’t. I have seen variations on this photo for decades. Piles of horns, piles of tusks, piles of hides. So many, in fact, that I am always surprised when I see another. It is as if traditional conservationists and their government enablers don’t see that these images no longer suggest the state is winning its battle against poaching and smuggling, but rather, have become evidence of the continued failure and devastating consequences of command-and-control wildlife management. The time is long past to place these vulnerable creatures into the hands of entrepreneurs, under whose care they will flourish, as do dogs, cats, horses, and all other animals in which private property can be held.

Protecting The Agonized From Addiction

Dave Killion — March 24, 2013

Many Americans must endure extreme, chronic pain because of their physicians’ caution in prescribing pain-killers (particularly opiates). In some cases, they are driven to violate legislation (‘break the law’) in order to obtain relief, sometimes suffering devastating consequences. It is difficult to blame the physicians, though, threatened as they are by the state. Well, as health care in the U.S. becomes increasingly state-controlled, Americans can look forward to worse –

“In the 23 years since he tried to break up a robbery in central London, Ian Semmons hasn’t spent a day without severe pain”… “Despite a similar standard of living, on a per-person basis, patients in the UK receive less than half the pain medication as their U.S. counterparts, according to the Drug Control and Access to Medicines Consortium, a UK academic research group that studies issues related to medicine and drugs.

And while the approach may anger patients like Semmons, British physicians say it’s helped their country avoid the wave of misuse and overdoses that plagues the United States.”

Perhaps, and perhaps not. But if so, do the benefits outweigh the costs? Can they be achieved without the costs? And as for these British physicians, are they the right people to make such a determination? I think not –

“(Dr. Anthony) Ordman says, “The physician (in the UK) has a salary … that takes away certain influences that the patient may have on the physician’s thinking. I don’t necessarily have to be liked by my patients.”

That is to say, when British physicians consider what the optimal policy is for painkiller prescription, their self-interest extends to protecting themselves from legal action and satisfying their paymaster, the state. Indifference to the patient has no consequences. So how strict will nanny be, once she crosses the Pacific? Well, you might wish to stock up on Tylenol –

“While you can walk into virtually any U.S. drugstore and pick up a bottle of ibuprofen or acetaminophen with 400 or 500 tablets, the largest size on UK shelves contains just 16 pills. If you consult a pharmacist and he or she approves, you can purchase 32 pills.

“We have to protect the patient,” says Howard Silver, a pharmacist at Gateway Chemist in London, who notes that even a moderate overdose of Tylenol can cause liver damage and even death. Shown a typical 400-count bottle of acetaminophen from a U.S. drugstore, Silver shook his head with dismay.

“I’m astonished,” he says. “That’s a bottle of death.”

Faced with such hysteria, I think I would be wise to familiarize myself with some extra-legal means of obtaining drugs I might someday want, but will not be able to get otherwise.