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Shameless Self-promotion Sunday

Hey y’all: it’s Sunday. Time to get down, get down, get Shameless.

I’m in the process of recovering from the weekend of coordinating cooking, preparing a presentation on Anarchism, holding down three organization tables, and otherwise having a blast at Living Without Borders 09. I have a big day of just about as close to nothing as possible planned for tomorrow — time for some reading in bed.

And you? What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

15 replies to Shameless Self-promotion Sunday Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. littlehorn

    More activism in Calais; it was nice this week cause a lot of people came around, including old faces that I became friends with a long time ago.

    I tried to leave but failed due to technical problems.

    I helped open ‘tourist attractions’ for people whose movement is illegally restricted. One night, I almost got caught with a crowbar in my pants, but Destiny had mercy upon me, and the stop&search was light as far as I was concerned (my two other friends were not so lucky, but I had all the tools anyway, they didn’t risk nothing).

    I did get lectured by one of the CRS, the French riot police. ‘How peculiar, an English, a French and an Afghan. This man [an Afghan migrant & friend] is not supposed to be here. You know that right ? He’s a stranger. _ A migrant. _ Yeah. A stranger. He comes, he goes. In any case, you know you can call us if you need protection.’

    This happened several days ago so the recollection is not perfectly accurate. But the idea is there. How awful. We need dictaphones; that’ll shut them up.

  2. Nataliya Petrova

    Charles,

    Any chance of a commentary on the new corporatist health bill? Mandatory insurance…

  3. John

    I ranted and raved about the type of law-enforcement system that would tase, handcuff, and imprison a man after he saved people from his own burning house, as it was burning down, for no apparent charge other than resisting arrest. I took the idea for the title of the post from your series “We need government cops and government courts because private protection forces and private arbitrators would be accountable to the powerful and well-connected instead of being accountable to the people.”

  4. MBH

    Nataliya, as health care stands now, it’s corporatist. Only corporations offer insurance. Only corporations set the rules for who can buy that insurance. Only corporations set the rules for who can sustain that insurance. No anti-trust laws exist, so monopolies and cartels are — legally — unstoppable.

    It’s true that, as the bill stands, it will mandate purchasing health insurance (which will be subsidized). But the kicker is that a new company is entering the market. With the economy of scale brought along with 10’s of millions of public option purchasers, the monopolies and cartels will face competition they’ve never seen. They’ll fight to retain their customers and the gov’t will fight to wrestle them away — just like any other market in which two really powerful organizations compete.

    Try not to focus on what the names of the organizations are (the big bad scary “feds” or the big bad scary “corporations”). Think instead in terms of their function: one large powerful organization is challenging another large powerful organization. And this is good because, before now, the first large powerful organization was using the other large powerful organization to protect them from competition.

  5. Gary Chartier

    Little Alex helpfully posted a link to my work on anarchism and health-care–in so doing ensuring a web presence for the updated version that’s otherwise nowhere to be found on-line (OK, this was Monday, not Sunday, but where better to get the word out than here?):

    http://littlealexinwonderland.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/healthcare-an-anarchist-approach/

  6. Laura J.

    MBH,

    I have a little difficulty seeing the value of government bodies throwing themselves around even harder in the insurance market, if the question is one of competition. At least I’ve had the option of not having to hand over my own money to any slimy corporations for insurance if I don’t want in on their particular financial schemes; the government is proposing to take that freedom away. The choices were already narrowed; now they want to force us to pick one of them even if we’d rather opt-out.

  7. MBH

    Your definition of freedom is different from mine. The ability to opt-out of a financial scheme is not freedom. Just as the ability to opt-out of jumping-off-the-empire-state-building is not freedom. The ability to not purchase health insurance is not freedom. There are always opportunity costs. Not purchasing health insurance means no protection from financial ruin if you need extensive care. So here is the freedom you want: a choice between the following.

    (1) Enter a financial scheme (2) Likely face financial ruin (3) Die from curable causes

    How is that freedom?

  8. Rad Geek

    MBH:

    Not purchasing health insurance means no protection from financial ruin if you need extensive care.

    So? People have a right to take risks.

    What risks somebody should take is generally better determined by the person bearing the risk than it is by some third party who neither enjoys the benefits nor suffers the costs.

    Anyway, you’re mistaken if you think that the only alternatives are (1) paying for corporate health insurance, (2) getting health insurance provided (directly or indirectly) by government, or (3) having no resources to fall back on for routine or catastrophic healthcare expenses.

    Like most left-libertarians, I think that there are a lot of desirable alternatives to the corporate insurance model, whether for comprehensive coverage or for catastrophic coverage (among them, grassroots mutual aid societies, individual or pooled savings, community free clinics, unconventional payment plans by doctors, and so on). These alternatives are currently not very widespread, not because they are unsustainable on a free market, but rather because they are currently crowded out or actively suppressed by pro-corporate government regulation of the insurance industry, and by government-granted monopolies and cartels which artificially produce sky-high costs for medical care and pharmaceuticals.

    Hence, the solution is not to try to engineer a better government plan. Still less is it to put through a lot of new mandates that force working people into a captive market, where they have to pay in for the existing corporate insurance bullshit whether or not they can afford it, and whether or not they feel that what they’re getting is worth the money they’re paying for it. That kind of thing is a sweet deal for insurance companies and a guarantee that workers will continue to be exploited by penny-pinching bureaucrats. (If they don’t like it, where are they going to go?) Rather, the solution is to get the government’s fangs out of healthcare and let people organize a vibrant set of alternatives to the corporatist status quo.

  9. MBH

    People have a right to take risks.

    No doubt. The problem occurs when the only options are irrational risks. Other than the three irrational risks I list, what is there? (I can only imagine (4) studying medicine yourself, and (5) joining an underground system of care) Is that what you have in mind?

    The solutions you propose would offer rational options. But, from my perspective, the nation-state system is a situation which would demand an alternate route.

  10. Laura J.

    MBH,

    If they do someday start up a Jumping-Off-The-Empire-State-Building Program, I would indeed consider it a significant deprivation of freedom to not be allowed to opt out of it.

  11. MBH

    Haha! :) Well, that’s not exactly my point. I would consider it a significant deprivation of freedom to not be allowed to opt-out also.

    I’m trying to draw attention to insignificant instances of freedom. In a death camp, those who die from experimentation were free from the gas chambers. Those burned to death were free from gun shots.

    Nearly 50,000 Americans die preventable deaths every year because they can’t afford health insurance. Ask them how valuable the “freedom” is to not purchase insurance…

  12. Rad Geek

    MBH,

    The problem occurs when the only options are irrational risks.

    I would like to suggest, again, that the person taking the risk is better equipped than you are to decide whether the risk they are taking is a rational one or an irrational one under the circumstances.

    When you’ve got to balance off the risk of a serious health problem in the next month with the need to pay off hundreds or thousands of dollars in debt, the need to keep from getting evicted from your apartment, the need to keep gas in your car so you can keep going to work, the need to feed your kids, etc. etc. etc., then it may well be rational to drop off paying for health insurance and risk the costs of an uncovered serious health problem, in order to pay off the known, fixed costs that you already have.

    Other than the three irrational risks I list, what is there? (I can only imagine (4) studying medicine yourself, and (5) joining an underground system of care) Is that what you have in mind?

    1. I deny that the options you listed are irrational risks to take. Each of them may be rational under certain circumstances. The problem to look at is the political system that’s rigging the circumstances in such a fucked-up way.

    2. I certainly do advocate an underground (counter-economic) system of care — in which needed healthcare and access to the money needed to pay to healthcare, can be provided, to the extent possible, through black and grey markets, outside the view of, and beyond the control of, the state. I’m all for it, to the extent that it’s possible.

    3. You left off an option: (6) working to get rid of existing governmental controls which artificially drive up the costs of healthcare and drive down the availability of affordable health insurance. Of course, (6) is something that you might pursue through many different means, and alongside other options. In particular, I think that (5) developing the counter-economy in medicine is important not only in its own right, but also as a strategic means towards (6).

    Nearly 50,000 Americans die preventable deaths every year because they can’t afford health insurance. Ask them how valuable the freedom is to not purchase insurance…

    That sounds like a a problem with the high costs of carrying health insurance.

    But then the problem is not the fact that people are currently free to opt out of purchasing health insurance; the problem is that they are currently forbidden from buying in to alternatives to the current state-cartelized health insurance business model which would provide more reasonable service and which would be more affordable to working people.

    If so, then the problem is not to be solved by using new government mandates to force everyone to buy in on corporate insurance plans that they would otherwise decide that they cannot afford. It’s to be solved by getting the government out of the way of alternatives that people can afford without having to be forced into it.

  13. MBH

    All fair points. Standards for rationality move relative to circumstances. I’m cool with that. My conscience stings though with the thought of children going without care because their parents made bad financial decisions…

  14. Rad Geek

    MBH:

    My conscience stings though with the thought of children going without care because their parents made bad financial decisions…

    So put your money where your conscience is and start or support a mutual aid project or medical charity, to help out children who are locked in such circumstances. Of course, lots of people are locked in the current system in various nasty ways that will cause immediate suffering and create problems for any transition to a freer society. All that sounds like a good argument for ramping up grassroots mutual aid for the time being, as long as it is necessary to heal some portion of the massive damage inflicted by the State.

    It doesn’t, on the other hand, sound like much of a reason to expand the scope of that damage even further, or to put the people and institutions responsible for the problem in an even greater position of power over a legally captive market.

    (Cf. also: GT 2005-06-25: Shut up and put up.)

  15. MBH

    Not a bad idea.

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