Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do ethics and the free market really collide?

Here is an interesting article from about whether free market libertarians really believe that the most ethical responsibility of a company is to maximize share holder value.

The author argues that even the most pure free market libertarian must at some point go against the idea of maximizing share holder value. His example is of Noble Prize winning economist Gary Becker, an ardent free market supporter, denouncing Yahoo! for turning over the names of potential dissidents in China. The author argues that Yahoo! was simply obeying local laws and by doing so was putting itself in a better position to gain market share in China, which would surely increase shareholder value at some point. But I am not convinced that is necessarily true.

Consumers in America and around the world are smart and if they think that a company is acting unethically they will make them pay. Yahoo! has been losing market share for several years now and its stock price is down from a high of ~ $43 in 2006 to ~ $16 today. Now this is certainly not all due to Yahoo! releasing the names of its users to the Chinese government, but is it really that hard to believe that acting unethically in one part of the world, though it may be in accordance with local laws, is the right thing to do for a company's stock? I feel that any short term gains that may be made by an unethical decision will be washed away once a company's behavior comes to light. So in reality it seems to me that a true free market libertarian whose primary concern is with maximizing share holder value would seek to do the right thing regardless of local laws. This will keep the consumer on your side and will ultimately lead to good publicity around the world.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's nice to see someone in power who doesn't want more of it

So apparently pay czar Kenneth Feinberg has warned Congress not to give him any more power regulating pay other than what he has already been given. It is refreshing to hear of someone who has power and does not want more of it. I actually don't see anything wrong with him regulating the pay of the 7 companies that he is currently responsible for since it will hopefully send the message to companies everywhere that you do not want the U.S. government to be your primary shareholder. But kudos to him for turning down the opportunity to regulate other companies that took smaller amounts of gov't money. He is a real public servant.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More Congressman?! Maybe it's not such a bad idea

Interesting article from Jonah Goldberg at National Review about expanding the size of the House of Representatives.

The current number of representatives, 435, was made law by congress with the passage of Public Law 62-5 on August 8th, 1911. Since then, the population of the United States has grown from 92,228,496 people in the 1910 census to approximately 306,000,000 in 2007. Yet despite this enormous population growth the amount of representatives has remained stagnant. I agree with Mr. Goldberg that it is time we explore the idea of increasing the number of members of the House of Representatives. As he points out, the additional seats would allow the smaller parties ,such as the Libertarian and Green parties, to get some of their own into the legislature. This would affect lawmaking in a real, tangible way and perhaps even inspire other parties to form.

Adding more seats is also a better solution than term limits when it comes to injecting fresh thinking into the legislative process, as term limits have the undesired effect of removing both poor and exceptional public servants alike. While I too have questions concerning cost and logistics (all of these people aren't fitting in the Capitol) it is definitely a conversation worth having and I hope it gains some traction.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The moral hazard of a public option

As the health care debate heats up I keep hearing political pundits like Ed Schultz cite situations in which a person has a health problem but does not have insurance and is thus being denied the care they need. Ed's most recent example was at a town hall for some republican congressman where one of the attendees spoke about a woman she knows who has stomach cancer. This woman has several tumors in her stomach that need to come out but because she doesn't have health insurance she cannot afford the operation. Of course without knowing any more information Ed jumps all over this and says this is why we need a public option and anyone who doesn't support a public option should be ashamed of themselves and so on.

What Ed Schultz never says though is who is going to pay for this lady's operation. Ed supports the public option so it can be inferred that he thinks the government should pay. The problem is the government has no money. We the people provide them with money. When the government pays, I pay, you pay, Sally in Minnesota pays, Tom in Alabama pays, and every other person who has never met this lady pays for her operation. Not that this is in itself a bad thing. Helping others is a very worthwhile. The problem is that Sally, Tom and I never get to know who we are helping before we are forced to pay. Has this lady been taking care of herself? Does she smoke, drink, do drugs? With something like cancer maybe it could not have been avoided. But what about bypass surgery? Type 2 diabetes? Lung cancer brought on by smoking? Are we all supposed to subsidize the treatment of these and other ailments just because it is the "right" thing to do, regardless of whether the situation could have been avoided?

I think that it is important to think about this kind of stuff every time you hear one of these stories. There are people who are suffering and there are people who need help, but we should not be forced by the government to help those who do not help themselves. In my opinion the public option will create a moral hazard in health care. According to the supporters of the public option, the poor will be subsidized and no care will be denied. So millions of people will pay nothing into the system and yet have access to every benefit, all in the name of being compassionate and caring. What is their incentive to stay as healthy as possible? We need health care reform that puts people in charge of their own health with things like health savings accounts and tax free dollars to buy health insurance on the open market. Only when people are confronted with the full cost of their health care will they make the healthiest decisions.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ACORN is a disgrace

Here is a letter I just sent to Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator George Voinovich concerning the recent tapes of ACORN employee's encouraging tax evasion and child prostitution.

Dear Senator,

I strongly urge you to use your position as a United States Senator to speak out against ACORN and demand that a federal investigation of ACORN and its affiliates take place. The recent tapes showing ACORN employee’s encouraging tax evasion and child prostitution are despicable. Not only should they not receive any more federal funding, but they should lose their tax exempt status. It is your duty as a Senator to speak out against ACORN and to seek a federal investigation into their operation.

Thank you,
Adam Millsap, Voter
Columbus, OH

Monday, September 14, 2009

The poor in America

Great article about the poor in America. I think sometimes we take for granted how wealthy our country is and lose perspective on what it truly means to be poor. No doubt there are people in this country who struggle, but compared to the poor of other countries, the American poor are well off indeed.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Repeal the Ohio state estate tax now!

Here is a letter I wrote to my state Rep., Dan Stewart, and my state Senator, Ray Miller, in support of repealing the estate tax.


I encourage you to lend your vocal and legislative support to the Ohio state chapter of Americans for Prosperity on the issue of repealing the state estate tax. More appropriately titled the death tax, this tax is one of the most unjust burdens that a government can place on its citizens. Not only is it completely unreasonable to take someone’s justly earned money simply because they die, it is also without question double taxation, as anyone who ends up paying the death tax has already paid taxes on that money when it was earned. In a country that prides itself on individual freedom and the right to hold private property, the death tax is out of place and a stain on our values. In fact, Karl Marx lists “the abolition of all right of inheritance” as his third tenet of an advanced communist state. Laws like the estate tax have no room in a capitalistic society such as ours.

You would do the state of Ohio an enormous service and show us to be a great example to the rest of the country by supporting the repeal of the estate tax.

Thank you,
Adam Millsap, Voter
Columbus, OH

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Health care is not a "right"

Great article by Kevin O'Brien printed in the Dispatch today (reprinted below). Calling health care a "right" cheapens our real rights, such as the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I understand that people want good health care and I agree that the health care system in place today is not ideal. But to keep referring to health care as a right is ridiculous.

For example, Sen. Max Baucus is going to release his health care plan next week ( and one of the things he is proposing is a tax on "insurance companies that provide the most expensive insurance plans". Do we tax someone for breathing too much? No, because the right to life is a God given right and no one has the authority to decide how much breathing is too much. I have the right to breath as rapidly or as slowly as I want. But apparently the government can decide when someone has too much health care. And if I or anyone else crosses that threshold, I am hit with extra taxes. How can too much of a right be taxed? It is completely illogical.

Anyone who talks about health care as a right has already lost my attention because anyone who is that illogical should not be heard.


With all due respect to Cassandra Barham of Cincinnati, whose personal desire for health insurance is perfectly understandable, and to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose confusion is not: Health care is not and cannot be a "right."

Barham drew boos at a town hall last week with Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown when she said, "You know, health care is a right."

The bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development deserves some hisses, too, for a serious mistake in an otherwise good case it presented last month to members of Congress.

Committee Chairman Bishop William F. Murphy wrote that efforts to reform the U.S. health-care system "must begin with the principle that decent health care is not a privilege, but a right ."

That's a principle based on a false premise.

Life is a right. It is a gift from God or, if you prefer a nonreligious approach, nature. From the moment we're able to take care of ourselves, other people need not intervene to cause us to continue living. We pay no fee to breathe. We require no one's permission to do so. We owe our lives to no person, and we live as long as our perishable bodies will allow. All by itself, life goes on.
Liberty is a right, too. Any philosopher worth his salt will tell you that in a state of nature, humans are free.

We may choose -- freely -- to constrain our elemental freedom with civil laws, religious strictures and unwritten but broadly held moral and ethical rules, all subject to renegotiation as we constantly adjust society's balance between individual liberty and social order. But we need not petition anyone to grant us liberty; we come into this world already owning it. Bishop Murphy's church teaches that God makes us to be free actors, each possessing a free will.
Now, what about health? Does it occur naturally?

Far from it. What occurs naturally is its polar opposite, death. From the day of our conception, each of us is on a downward slope that leads to the day when even the healthiest person's body will fail and die. The experience of thousands upon thousands of years tells us with perfect clarity that good health is not a God-given or naturally occurring right. Earthly immortality is neither granted to us nor achievable by our own efforts.

Nor, it should be obvious, can health care be a gift from God or nature.

Doctors, nurses, dentists, therapists, pharmaceutical products and MRI equipment do not spontaneously occur. They exist only because our society puts effort into training medical experts and developing healing technologies.

All are products of human ingenuity and activity -- of human labor. And no one has a right simply to help himself to the labor of another. We abolished slavery in this country long ago.
What Cassandra Barham wants is the peace of mind that comes with health insurance, and no one can blame her for that. We can make health care in this country more accessible and more affordable, and we should.

We may end up declaring health insurance to be anything from a universal civic benefit to an individual civic duty. But we can't make health care a right, even by turning it over to the government.

Somewhere along the way, the government would have to say something it cannot say to law-abiding people when it comes to life or liberty: No.

Now, if health care were a fundamental human right, then how could saying no -- something that other countries' government health services say all the time -- be anything other than a crime against humanity?

The U.S. Catholic bishops have a card to play in all of this, but it isn't the one the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development has shown.

What they should be writing about, and what all Americans should recognize, is not a nonexistent "right" of people in need to take -- or to have the government do their taking for them -- but the moral obligation that exists on the part of people who are in a position to give.

They should argue that the lack of basic health care for some people is an injustice. They should not, however, argue for compounding one injustice with another -- an infringement on the ability of medical professionals to sell their labor for just compensation, as determined by a free market.
There is no right to health care. Creating one is beyond the power of the church or the state. Any solution that ignores those facts will be rooted in deception and doomed to failure.

Kevin O'Brien is a columnist with The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What country do I live in?

Under a health care reform plan currently circulating in Congress, Americans who choose not to purchase health insurance would be fined up to $3,800 per person ( This is ridiculous. Forcing citizens to buy anything outright is almost certainly unconstitutional, so Congress is going to resort to draconian fines in order to "persuade" private citizens to buy something that they don't even want. This situation will be come even more oppressive if a public option is created, since it will eventually wipe out all private insurance due to government subsidies and favoritism. Eventually, the only insurer will be the Federal Government and we will all be forced to buy in or face the penalty of a several thousand dollar fine. Will the Federal Government really fine its own citizens for not purchasing health insurance? Am I in China? Russia? North Korea? The founders of this great country must be rolling in their graves.