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By Ron Paul
As Congress continues passing trillions of dollars in spending bills aimed at addressing COVID-19, they should avoid harming those on the front lines: health care providers.
Health care providers are working hard, sometimes at personal risk, to treat those affected with the virus. Their job is made harder by the hysteria whipped up by politicians and the media. This makes people flock to emergency rooms and doctors’ offices. And, this comes on top of the challenge already facing the medical profession as a result of federal laws like ObamaCare, and rules limiting the number of hospital beds in certain areas.
Incredibly, a bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives and Senators think the government is not putting enough burdens on health care professionals. These legislators are scheming to insert a provision placing new price controls on health care practitioners in the COVID-19 spending bill.
The price controls are a response to “surprise medical billing.” This is the all-to-common situation where a patient receives a large medical bill, sometimes months after treatment, because one or more of the providers on their medical team were “out-of-network” so that providers services are not covered by the patient’s insurance.
Surprise medical bills are a consequence of government policies that have created over reliance on third-party payers. By removing control of the health care dollar from patients, these government policies eliminated all incentives for patients to minimize costs. This led to the growth of the Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). One way HMOs control costs is by only paying for procedures done by a member of their (increasingly) narrow networks.
Surprise medical bills are a legitimate problem, but the solution is to restore free-market health care. Sadly, but not surprisingly, few, if any, in Washington are working to include free-market health care reforms in the COVID-19 legislation. Instead, most of the legislators working on the issue support giving government power to dictate how much “our-of-network” providers should be paid.
Like all price controls, these schemes will reduce supply as the low payments drive providers to refuse to see patients unless they are among the select few in that patient’s “narrow network” of allowed providers. These price controls may even cause some providers to leave the medical profession altogether.
These provisions could make it harder for those with COVID-19 to obtain care.
At this writing, it appears that the third COVID-19 bill might contain these price controls. This price control scheme is backed by some of the most influential U.S. Senators and Representatives in Congress. It is also being pushed by the insurance industry, which loves the idea of government “forcing” it to underpay out-if-network providers almost as much as it loved the idea of government mandating every American buy their product.
Those of us who understand that trying to solve the problem to surprise medical bills with price controls is a cure worse than the disease must remain vigilant against any attempt to expand government’s role in health care. We must also work to enact policies giving patients control of the health care dollar through tax credits, deductions, and expanded Health Savings Accounts (HSA). The cure for what ails our health care system is the same as for all our economic problems: liberty.
This article was originally published at the Campaign for Liberty.
'Shut down' the economy? Would government even think of such a thing without a Federal Reserve? Most likely not. Bailout just about everyone? Could government even think of such a thing without a Federal Reserve? Of course not! Every government and Federal Reserve "solution" comes with a promise for a bigger future economic crisis. The Fed is doomed to fail.
As with everything else, the government is making the coronavirus outbreak much worse. Rep. Thomas Massie, one of the few original thinkers in the US House believes government should step out of the way and let the free market address demands for things like testing kits. Plus, Massie briefs the Liberty Report on the ongoing threat to our civil liberties posed by the PATRIOT Act as it has been temporarily renewed. Don't miss today's program!
By Chris Rossini
The words in the title are attributed to Thomas Jefferson. Whether or not they came from him first is immaterial. The truth in the words are the concern here. The meaning of the word 'eternal' means 'lasting forever,' and 'vigilant' means to 'always be on careful watch for danger.'
The danger to Liberty has always been, and always will be, power.
Both Liberty and power pertain to relations between individual human beings. Liberty means non-aggression and voluntary interaction between individuals. Power means non-voluntary interactions, force, coercion and violence.
So every individual must forever keep a watchful eye on power in order to enjoy their natural Liberty.
To use a simple analogy:
All gardeners must keep a watchful eye on their gardens for weeds. If their guard is let down, the garden will be attacked by the weeds.
So must all individuals keep a watchful eye on power. If their guard is let down, power will attack their Liberty.
All gardens will be attacked.
All Liberty will be attacked.
There are always individuals in every society who succumb to what St. Augustine called libido dominandi, which means the 'lust to dominate' other human beings. This error is the most destructive error that humans can make in their lives. For once embraced, it is insatiable, unquenchable, and never-ending.
It is rightfully considered a crime when individuals use aggressive force against others. Violence and fraud are rightfully prosecuted and punished.
But major problems arise when individuals enter a group of people called government and make it legal to use aggressive force against others.
Once this legalization is permitted, an immediate magnet is created. Those who have a lust to dominate others pour into government like moths to a flame. They now have an opportunity to legally do what is rightfully illegal for the rest of society.
But since government positions are limited, and so many with a lust to rule want to fill those positions, they will do the most vicious things imaginable in order to "win." That's why there are no morals, rules, or ethics for those who want it most.
Since grabbing the reins of power requires absolute ruthlessness, it gives a preview to the population as to what is in store for them. For the power that will be directed, will ultimately be directed straight at them.
For those who finally grab the power, it's time to live out their very unfortunate dream; unfortunate for themselves, for they are destroying their own individual humanity, and unfortunate for the rest of humanity that they set out to dominate.
The tactics of power are always the same. They never change.
All increases of power occur in steps, and not all at once. People do not give up their Liberty all at once, and those in power understand that they must cope with this fact.
When power is increased, it's always done in a state of fear. Fear disarms the population. When people are confident and unshakable, they will not give up their Liberty. Those in power understand this as well, and over the thousands of years have mastered the process of generating and propagating fear.
Lies and truth are interchangeable for those in power. They both carry equal weight. Whichever gets the job done. In normal life, truth is good and lies are bad. Not so for power.
Once disarmed by fear and in a panic, a door is opened wide for the power grab. It has to be grabbed very quickly. There's only a small window of opportunity to capitalize on.
Government bills that are thousands of pages long, and prepared well before the crisis, are voted through without being read or debated. Anyone who questions what is going on is shouted down as unpatriotic or actually supportive of the crisis.
As the power is grabbed, the population is gently caressed, and told that it is 'temporary,' and an 'emergency measure' only. But there is nothing more permanent in government than a temporary measure.
The panic always subsides, but the power remains.
After the panic subsides, the population is given time to acclimate to the new constraints and dictates. It becomes normal.
New generations are born and they believe that 'this is how it is and always has been.' The previous Liberty that was enjoyed by prior generations don't even cross their minds. It's as if they never existed.
Step by step...this process repeats.
But it is not everlasting. It always ends, and ends badly for everyone.
All power exhausts itself and paints itself into a corner. It works so hard trying to get into control of everything, only to find out that in the end, it can't control anything!
All power reaches the point where everything they think is wrong, and every idea they have only makes things worse, and every move is met with failure.
This is a world of individual liberty, not of power. If it were a world of power, it would not be here today. The world would have been destroyed long ago, or would have never have come into existence in the first place.
Life is Liberty and eternal vigilance is the price of keeping it.
Neocons never like to allow a good crisis to go to waste. While Americans are increasingly threatened by authoritarian politicians if they dare leave their homes to protect against the spread of a virus that may end up being less deadly than the flu, the neocons are hard at work stirring up war on Iran. More sanctions, bombing "Iran-backed" militias in Iraq. And more. Panic is good for the war business.
By David Stockman
Finally even the robo-machines and day traders are puking, not BTFDing. Today’s 3,000 Dow Point Dump says even they have had enough of the craven dolts who occupy the Eccles Building.
You do not need an PhD in economics—or even a night school survey course—to see that COVID-19 is temporary supply side shock which 0.05% money market rates are powerless to combat.
Likewise, you don’t need to be a finance wizard to see that with 10-year USTs at 0.78% and 30-year mortgages at their lowest level in history more QE is a sick joke. Adding another $700 billion of government and GSE debt to the Fed’s already hideously bloated balance sheet can’t possibly drive interest rates meaningfully lower, even if rates were a barrier to activity, which they are not.
In fact, the new barrage of QE5 is nothing more than a blatant financial fraud authorized by the official criminals domiciled in the Eccles Building. Today, and for years in the past, the FOMC has been scurrying about in the dealer markets swapping counterfeit credits plucked from thin air for Treasury and GSE bonds that funded the consumption of real economic resources such as government salaries, purchases and private housing construction.
The traditional argument for central banking, of course, was that a little bit of financial fraud (3% per year balance sheet expansion per Uncle Milton Friedman, for example) could help lubricate the banking system and nudge GDP to steadier performance over time.
But what we have now is epic-scale counterfeiting. That is, upwards of $5 trillion of fiat money liabilities at the Fed and $25 trillion at all the world’s central banks, compared to just $500 billion and $2 trillion, respectively, at the turn of the century; and the latter of which had taken decades, and in some cases, centuries to accumulate.
Moreover, on top of everything else in the last several days, these madmen announced in late morning today a new $500 billion O/N repo to be offered two hours later. Just like that—up to one half-trillion dollars of Fake Credit was to emanate from the Fed’s “buy” key during lunch hour!
Fortunately, only $19 billion got taken down, proving these economic morons and arsonists have absolutely not idea what they are doing.
So not knowing, however, they have succeeded in turning the entire financial system into a cesspool of false prices and destructive gambling rackets, thereby stripping
capitalism of the honest money and capital markets its needs to function and thrive. What lies ahead, therefore, is a no man’s land of statist economic and capital demolition.
Needless to say, you don’t need to be a cynic to understand why the Eccles Building launched this limp baby bazooka last night. The Federal Reserve now, and for many years past, has been the abject handmaid of the Wall Street gamblers, bullies and crybabies.
The Fed heads are deathly afraid of honest stock market prices (i.e. a crash) because they know it will make a mockery of their risible claims that the US economy is in a “good place” or that the consumer is “strong” and that they have delivered the hallowed state of Keynesian full employment, world without end.
In truth, decades of Keynesian central banking have sucked the lifeblood out of main street prosperity, stability and resilience. It has destroyed savers; addicted households to debt-based hand-to-mouth living; eviscerated the purchasing power of wages via its 2.00% inflation obsession; and turned the C-suites of corporate America into stock trading rooms and financial engineering joints in the service of Wall Street speculators, not the construction of resilient, value-creating enterprises.
But now the mask of self-serving rhetoric is being ripped-off the Fed’s (and Wall Street’s) phony narrative about the alleged strength of the main street economy— especially the purported Energizer Bunny of household consumption.
After all, just consider the implications of Nancy Pelosi’s Friday Night Abomination—a mass scale soup line of Washington-ordered handouts that is every bit as insidious as the TARP bailout of September 2008.
That is, anyone on Wall Street back then who was illiquid, deserved to be liquidated; and anyone on main street today who has not had enough common sense to put aside at least two weeks of rainy day funds—which is the amount of sick leave Nancy ordered businesses to pay— might profit from spending 14 days begging, borrowing and scrounging for canned soup.
So let’s be very clear. This isn’t about humanitarian necessity or safety net minimums. There are upwards of 110 million American now receiving welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing etc. and not a dime of it that aid—deserved or not—is imperiled by COVID-19.
For crying out loud, Pelosi’s mandated sick pay covers just 80 hours of work for the minority of American workers who are employed by firms with less than 500 employees and (apparently after the allowed DOL waivers) more than 50.
So consider the median wage earner, who doesn’t work for a Small Business (< 50 workers) or a Big Business (> 500 workers), but got their economic porridge just right, thereby qualifying for Nancy’s bequest.
According to the Social Security Administration, there were 167 million US persons who generated a payroll tax record in the most recent year (2018). Among them, there were 9.29 million workers right around the median wage who generated $330 billion of gross pay or an average of $32,450 each.
That is to say, two weeks’ pay amounted to the grand sum of $1,250. Yet these cats down in the Imperial City insist these workers positively can’t get by for even 14 days by drawing down savings, belt-tightening and selling some excess junk on e-Bay if they get the COVID-19 or the quarantine, as the case may be.
We doubt whether that’s strictly accurate, but are quite sure that Federally mandating employers to provide sick leave—and then paying for it on the other side with a tax credit handout— is just another fatal step down the slippery slope of socialization of economic life that will eventually bankrupt the US Treasury.
The fact is, the entire Keynesian policy regime of the present era encourages households, businesses and governments alike to borrow to the hilt and spend every dollar of income in hand-to-mouth fashion. It has therefore left all economic sectors vulnerable, fragile and, in the metaphor of the day, defenseless against even the short-term dislocations generating by public health measures to contain a strain of flu which is highly contagious but not even remotely a Black Plague scale phenomena.
Indeed, the chart below puts the lie to the “strong” consumer canard. The second set of bars covers households right in the middle of the wage distribution cited above, with annual incomes between $25,000 and $45,000.
At each income interval the bars cover households which actually have savings accounts according to the most recent survey of the Federal Reserve, meaning that even the dark green bars representing median amounts significantly over-state the case.
Accordingly, at best the median wage earning household has cash savings of just $1,400. Yet that is not evidence that households are inherently irresponsible spendthrifts; it’s merely the consequence of central banking policies that positively punish savers and encourage them to shop until they drop.
The evidence for the Fed’s role in leaving large swaths of the working population naked in the face of even a modest interruption of paychecks is dispositive. As shown in the chart below, there have been only 9 months since the eve of the financial crisis in early 2008 during which liquid savings generated a return that even matched the inflation rate.
As it happened, during most of that 12-year period, the liquid savings rate as represented by the 90-day T-bill (purple line) earned well less than 1.0% when the inflation rate was consistently 2.00% or higher.
Moreover, after the brief interlude in 2019 when the T-bill yield crossed above the inflation rate, the positive yield wasn’t even a rounding error, albeit enough for the crybabies of Wall Street and the ignoramus in the Oval Office, respectively, to come down on the Fed with a ton of bricks for daring to raise rates too much, too fast.
Needless to say, these monetary cranks have now gotten their way. Today the 90-day T- bill posted at a ridiculously low yield of just 0.23% at a time when the running core inflation rate (CPI less food and energy) most recently clocked in at 2.37% ( February).
So the real yield on liquid savings is negative -2.14%.
Is it any wonder that households have no savings?
Is it any surprise that the Republican sheeples of the beltway just rolled-over Friday night and voted through the Dems’ latest plank on Bernie’s highway to social democracy?
The fact is, the free market would be more than capable of handling a temporary disruption of the supply side—even in the form of the kind of shutdown hysteria that is now issuing from any and all Federal, state or local officials who can manage to grab and open mike, as we will outline in Part 2. In the meanwhile, Gary Kaltbaum gets the last word:
He’s printing money to buy bonds but bonds are already yielding under 1% on the 10 year and around 1.5% on the 30 year. Mortgage rates are not coming down much more. Loan rates are not coming down much more. But again, Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob are screwed because there goes any return on riskless income investments. You already know what we think of these people. We have highlighted them time and time again. They have done nothing more than distort price and yield, screwed savers, bubbled up asset prices, enabled massive leverage and massive debt and deficits but let’s keep depending on them. What’s next? You deposit money and also have to give them the toaster? Does this compare to 1987? To our eyes, it is worse.
This article was reprinted with permission from David Stockman's Contra-Corner.
David Stockman began his career in Washington as a young man and quickly rose through the ranks of the Republican Party to become the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. Stockman is an Advisory Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.
By Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.
People are understandably upset about the coronavirus epidemic, but if we’re not careful, an even greater danger lies ahead. Sinister forces in American political life are using the crisis to incite war with China and to stir up bad feelings towards the Chinese people. The Chinese people are in fact heroic. They are our friends, not our enemies. But the forces of evil want you to think otherwise.
Concerning the coronavirus, the key fact to remember is that we know very little about it. The worst mistake we could make is to become jittery and panicked. As Bill Sardi, an outstanding expert on health issues, has pointed out,
There are two hotspots in the world for coronavirus infections: Wuhan, China (Hubei Province) and Italy. Both of these geographic areas were grappling with tuberculosis outbreaks prior to the eruption of the mutated COVID-19 coronavirus. Strangely, coronavirus appears to spread to the rest of the world from these hotspots via airplane travel. But the infection remains in those infected and may spread within a household, but not into the community. Other geographical outbreaks must be questioned as there are too many false positive tests to confirm COVID-19 coronavirus, which at this point in time may be nothing more than a passenger virus that accompanies tubercular infections.
If Sardi is right, the main thing we can do to keep safe is to close our borders to immigrants.
Unfortunately, people are using the epidemic to stir up bad feelings toward the Chinese people, because the epidemic began in Hubei Province there. Ironically, there is evidence that the virus was really sent to China from the US. Larry Romanoff, whose “Global Research” column often uncovers items that others miss, says:
Not only did the virus not originate at the seafood market, it did not originate in Wuhan at all, and it has now been proven that it did not originate in China but was brought to China from another country. Part of the proof of this assertion is that the genome varieties of the virus in Iran and Italy have been sequenced and declared to have no part of the variety that infected China and must, by definition, have originated elsewhere.
But even if Romanoff is wrong, the epidemic was not the fault of the Chinese people. Rather, the responsibility lies with the Chinese government, which suppressed warnings by local doctors. Had these warnings been heeded, the disease could have been contained with little trouble.
Hate directed against the Chinese blocks efforts in the US to deal with the coronavirus problem. Chinese scientists have developed an efficient way to test for the virus that can process forty people in 130 minutes, instead of the 2–3-day wait for results from US tests. The US government has made no effort to get this test but instead keeps it out of the news. Instead, we hear ridiculous talk about supporting US pharmaceuticals instead of Chinese pharmaceuticals. We should be supporting free trade, so that we can get cheap drugs to US consumers. We should not help Big Pharma exploit American consumers.
Because the epidemic started in China and spread from there, hostility toward Chinese people living in the US has gone up. Chinese-owned stores have been threatened, and gun sales to Chinese who fear attacks have soared. Chinese restaurants are nearly empty.
The president’s talk about the “Chinese virus” fans the flame of ill feelings, and some fear that the government may provoke a war with China in order to distract attention from a tanking US economy. US government propaganda has spread false claims about predatory Chinese trade practices to get the American people ready for hostile action toward China. As David Stockman has observed,
Indeed, the entire intellectual property theft meme is just a scam under which the business lobbies have enlisted the FBI and other law enforcement branches to function as taxpayer-financed patent attorneys and litigants.
Provoking war with China is an incredibly dangerous policy. Eric S. Margolis, an experienced foreign policy expert, has noted: “But in a US-China war, the Chinese would be fighting almost at home. The US would have to sustain a major conflict many thousands of miles from its home ports. America is the world’s genius when it comes to logistics and mass operations, but even so great distances are punishing. It would prove a bridge too far.” The US would be the aggressor in a war with China. The South China Sea belongs to them, not to us, yet we send our ships there and insist we have a right to control what happens there. Also, a great deal of China’s industry and agriculture is privately owned, so an attack on China would be an attack on private property. Both the neocons and the nationalist “Right” want war with China. We should aim at peace instead, as Murray Rothbard and Ron Paul have taught us.
If we ignore propaganda and look at the facts, we should recognize that the Chinese people are heroes. It’s a scandal, in fact, that few Westerners are even aware, or, if they are aware, that they are not conscious, of the bloody reality that prevailed in China between the years 1949 and 1976, the years of rule by Mao Zedong.
How many died as a result of persecutions and the communist policies of Mao? Perhaps you care to guess? Many people over the years have attempted to guess. But they have always underestimated. As more data rolled in during the 1980s and 1990s, and as specialists have devoted themselves to investigations and estimates, the figures have become ever more reliable. And yet they remain imprecise. What kind of error term are we talking about? It could be as low as 40 million. It could be as high as 100 million—or more. In the Great Leap Forward from 1959 to 1961 alone, figures range between 20 million and 75 million. In the period before, 20 million. In the period after, tens of millions more.
As scholars in the area of mass death point out, most of us can’t imagine one hundred dead or one thousand. Above that, we are just talking about statistics: they have no conceptual meaning for us. And there is only so much ghastly information that our brains can absorb, only so much blood we can imagine. And yet there is more to why China’s communist experiment remains a hidden fact: it makes a decisive case against government power, one even more compelling than the cases of Russia or Germany in the twentieth century. Finally, in 1976, Mao died. Within a few months, his closest advisers were all imprisoned. And the reform began slowly at first and then gained breakneck speed. Civil liberties were restored (comparatively) and the rehabilitations began. Torturers were prosecuted. Economic controls were gradually relaxed. The economy, by virtue of human and private economic initiative, was transformed.
Having read the above, you are now in a tiny elite of people who know anything about the greatest death camp in the history of the world that China became between 1949 and 1976, an experiment in total control unlike anything other in history. Many more people today know more about China’s exploding cell phone batteries than the hundred million dead and the untold amount of suffering that occurred under communism.
When you hear complaints about the “Chinese virus” today, imagine millions in famine, with parents swapping children to eat in order to stay alive. Let’s have peace with China, not war, and let’s admire the hardworking, productive, and wonderful Chinese people.
This article was originally published at LewRockwell.com
After lowering the interest rate to zero and pumping trillions into the market, the Fed is finding that it has no tools to address the inevitable bursting of the bubble. They may try to blame the economic tsunami on coronavirus, but this crash has been in the works for some time. Mises Institute President Jeff Deist joins today's Liberty Report.
By Ron Paul
Governments love crises because when the people are fearful they are more willing to give up freedoms for promises that the government will take care of them. After 9/11, for example, Americans accepted the near-total destruction of their civil liberties in the PATRIOT Act’s hollow promises of security.
It is ironic to see the same Democrats who tried to impeach President Trump last month for abuse of power demanding that the Administration grab more power and authority in the name of fighting a virus that thus far has killed less than 100 Americans.
Declaring a pandemic emergency on Friday, President Trump now claims the power to quarantine individuals suspected of being infected by the virus and, as Politico writes, “stop and seize any plane, train or automobile to stymie the spread of contagious disease.” He can even call out the military to cordon off a US city or state.
State and local authoritarians love panic as well. The mayor of Champaign, Illinois, signed an executive order declaring the power to ban the sale of guns and alcohol and cut off gas, water, or electricity to any citizen. The governor of Ohio just essentially closed his entire state.
The chief fearmonger of the Trump Administration is without a doubt Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. Fauci is all over the media, serving up outright falsehoods to stir up even more panic. He testified to Congress that the death rate for the coronavirus is ten times that of the seasonal flu, a claim without any scientific basis.
On Face the Nation, Fauci did his best to further damage an already tanking economy by stating, “Right now, personally, myself, I wouldn’t go to a restaurant.” He has pushed for closing the entire country down for 14 days.
Over what? A virus that has thus far killed just over 5,000 worldwide and less than 100 in the United States? By contrast, tuberculosis, an old disease not much discussed these days, killed nearly 1.6 million people in 2017. Where’s the panic over this?
If anything, what people like Fauci and the other fearmongers are demanding will likely make the disease worse. The martial law they dream about will leave people hunkered down inside their homes instead of going outdoors or to the beach where the sunshine and fresh air would help boost immunity. The panic produced by these fearmongers is likely helping spread the disease, as massive crowds rush into Walmart and Costco for that last roll of toilet paper.
The madness over the coronavirus is not limited to politicians and the medical community. The head of the neoconservative Atlantic Council wrote an editorial this week urging NATO to pass an Article 5 declaration of war against the COVID-19 virus! Are they going to send in tanks and drones to wipe out these microscopic enemies?
People should ask themselves whether this coronavirus “pandemic” could be a big hoax, with the actual danger of the disease massively exaggerated by those who seek to profit – financially or politically – from the ensuing panic.
That is not to say the disease is harmless. Without question people will die from coronavirus. Those in vulnerable categories should take precautions to limit their risk of exposure. But we have seen this movie before. Government over-hypes a threat as an excuse to grab more of our freedoms. When the “threat” is over, however, they never give us our freedoms back.