Monday, November 25, 2013

Dirty Word

Here is an interesting little debate found recently USA Today:

A defense lawyer in Tennessee earned the ire of the prosecuting attorney for referring to the prosecution as “the Government” during trials. Here is what she said:

"The State has noticed in the past few years that it has become commonplace during trials for attorneys for defendants, and especially Mr. Justice, to refer to State's attorneys as 'the Government,' " she wrote in her motion. "The State believes that such a reference is used in a derogatory way and is meant to make the State's attorney seem oppressive and to inflame the jury."

This brought a response from the defense attorney. He filed a motion requiring the prosecution to refer to him as “Defender of the Innocent” or perhaps “Guardian of the Realm.” The whole thing was dismissed because the judge said the word “government” isn’t derogatory.

Of course, no judge could be impartial in such a matter, every judge works for the government.

I try to stay out of the way of “government” in general. To be fair, I have had some experiences with “government” that I would call neutral. But even the neutral experiences are often what I would term “annoyingly neutral.” Most of my direct experiences with governments have been negative. Try as I might, I cannot remember even one positive experience when dealing directly with “government.”

So I must overrule the ruling of the judge in this case. With me, at least, the very term “government” is quite derogatory. I wish it were not so. I can imagine arrangements of government that would make it less so, perhaps. Making “government” smaller would make it better. Does that imply that none at all, at least in the versions we are accustomed to, would be best? We can debate that one.

But for now, given all the governments with which I must deal, calling something “the Government” is about the most derogatory handle I can imagine.  It’s along the lines of “scum-suckin’, low-down, double-dealing, no good, no account, two-faced, liar.”  Doesn’t that sound like a recent list of “Government” policies and activities?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Don’t Replace–Eliminate

Yesterday I heard a very interesting interview on radio. The host of the morning talk show interviewed a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from southern Indiana. The topic was “Obamacare.”

The House member seemed to be a rather “conservative” (vague, I know, but I will use it for now) Republican. The talk show host seems to be, at least when I have heard him, something of a dissenter from the usual “center-leftist” political orthodoxy we find frequently in power and in the media today.

I was a bit shocked by what I heard. What follows is not exact, but close enough to convey the thoughts accurately:

Interviewer: Do the Republicans have a proposal to replace Obamacare?

Rep: Yes. A few parts of it are good. For example, people like that fact that it requires health insurance policies to be portable. And that feature is very inexpensive. We think there are a few things like that which are worth keeping. But much of Obamacare needs to be changed.

If this is what conservative Republicans think, then we are doomed to Obamacare and many other things even worse.

Perhaps some people do like portability in health insurance. If enough people like that feature, someone will eventually sell it. If the government requires it in all policies, that is just a cost that must be added, even for those who don’t care about portability.

But the worst of the matter is this: once you concede that it is appropriate for governments to demand that you buy health insurance that is portable, you have conceded the very principle that makes Obamacare appropriate. If it is appropriate for government to demand portability, it is appropriate for government to demand anything at all related to health insurance.

Many so-called “conservative” Republicans don’t seem to understand that individual liberty ends wherever any government requirement begins. Things like Obamacare do not need “replacement” – not if you are interested in freedom. Such things need to be eliminated.

Those who wish to offer a true alternative to the present course of government cannot consistently do so by advocating some “toning down” or “tweaking” of laws that defy the free economic choices of people. Liberty requires that such laws, programs, and policies be completely and forever eliminated.

Cincinnati Bell and the Problem of Monopoly

I pause today to sing the anti-praises of Cincinnati Bell.  The company would be more aptly named if the “B” were to become an “H.”  (Yes, I just had yet another bad experience with them.)

It’s not that there are not nice people there when calling for service is required.  True, most of them seem to have English as a second language.  But unless the accent is so extreme that I can’t understand, that does not really bother me.

What does bother me is the fact that the “customer experience” when calling Cincinnati Bell seems designed to make it difficult to impossible to solve problems when problems arise.  Layers of menus insulate callers from anything beyond cookie-cutter help.  Representatives who don’t understand various problems greet you with polite, but mostly very unhelpful “help.”

Why is it that when I call other, even larger, companies with vast customer service divisions, problems are solved quickly, pleasantly, and usually relatively easily?  Consider just two examples:  Charles Schwab and T.D. Ameritrade.  Both are very large companies which are required to work within all sorts of (often unnecessary) government regulations.  Yet I almost enjoy needing to call them when I have a problem.  They are not just polite – they are downright neighborly-sounding – but they fix problems quickly, efficiently, and with very little effort on my part.

Why this difference?  One thing comes to mind.  Schwab and Ameritrade are thinking about Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, and many other choices I have for their financial services.

Cincinnati Bell, at least for those of us who need a land line in my area, has been granted a monopoly by the government.  For that kind of service, they have no competitors, and competition is not even allowed.

Monopoly is, contrary to propaganda otherwise, something only governments can grant.  Governments either claim monopolies for themselves in certain areas, or grant monopolies to favored providers in other cases.  Governments love monopolies because a monopoly granted by government is always controlled by government, and governments crave control.

Does this suggest anything to anyone about things like “ObamaCare”?