Wendy Davis Went Too Far

October 11th, 2014

It takes a lot to rile me. I work in politics, so I tire quickly of people peddling the latest outrage. I often find myself ignoring the things everyone’s talking about when I think they’re stupid. However, I’m genuinely disgusted with both Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas right now. The latest ad released by her campaign stoops so low that it treats Greg Abbott’s disability as something worthy of attack.

Claiming that Abbott is a hypocrite for having sued and won after he became partially disabled due to an accident, the Davis ad proceeds to say that he hasn’t afforded others in tragic situations the same type of accommodations. This is an absolutely bogus claim that attempts to reduce very complicated legal liability questions into soundbites, and erroneously act as if Abbott had full control over each situation as Attorney General. I’m not inherently against attack ads, but dragging a man through the mud by way of his wheelchair? That’s beyond low.

 

 

Soon after I watched this absurd ad, I was treated to an arguably more ridiculous email from the Democratic group Battleground Texas. It claims that Greg Abbott supports Jim Crow laws and wants to take the country back to an era where minorities were denied the right to vote. REALLY? We can’t have a policy discussion about the need to balance ballot access and fraud prevention without stooping to that kind of a ghoulish level?

 

I don’t know if the Davis campaign and BGTX are acting out of desperation. I’d like to think that, and to forgive the people behind these antics. Regardless of their motivation, what I do know is the type of division they’re trying to sow to acquire power is dangerous. When you dehumanize the “other,” whether that’s a political opponent and his supporters, a group of people classified by race, religion, or really any other criteria, you’re laying the groundwork for tyranny.

When we cease to see each other as human beings and believe that those who differ from us are motivated by hate, remember that the only people who gain are those consolidating their political power as a result. The rest of us? We suffer in divided communities, rife with suspicion about “others,” and more inclined to abandon our liberties for “protection” from said “monsters.” A free society cannot function under such circumstances.

Millennials Have Soured on Obama; Will Republicans Capitalize?

September 10th, 2014

Originally published at Forbes

A perfect storm is brewing on the horizon of American politics. Older Millennials, who came of age during the tumultuous Bush years and were inspired by the rise of Barack Obama, are questioning the validity of the President’s promises at record rates.

Younger Millennials, who weren’t as politically aware when youth yearned for Anybody-But-Bush, are increasingly part of an emerging counterculture. This combination of sobering disappointment and youthful rebellion has the potential to change the political landscape—if politicians seize the moment.

Rebellion, regardless of the form it takes, will always be en vogue. This adage goes a long way in explaining the appeal of Barack Obama circa 2008. Obama was the perfect David to the establishment’s Goliath. After all, he defeated standard-issue Democratic and Republican choices in Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

What was less obvious at the time was how shallow that narrative would quickly become as the President doubled down on the cronyism and civil liberties violations young voters roundly rejected under Bush.

In recent months, polls have captured this dissatisfaction. Youth approval of Obama has largely tracked with that of the country overall. To the extent that it’s diverged, the President barely cracks 50% with the cohort that swept him into office.

This bipartisan disappointment helps shed light on why Millennials are much more politically independent than older Americans. 50% of 18-29 year olds choose not to identify with any party, whereas political independence of this nature ranges from only 34-39% among other generations.

As Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine aptly puts it, “After growing up under the Bush and Obama administrations, the Millennials are overwhelmingly skeptical of government’s ability to do anything well.” Enter the new rebellion.

Although young people are far from dedicated Republicans as a result of this disillusionment, poll after poll shows that Millennials aren’t as loyal to Democrats as is often assumed. If this generation is anything cohesive, it’s as a recent Pew survey found: Fiercely independent, driven by technology, and unimpressed with traditional ideology.

In the same vein, a new Reason-Rupe poll shows that those between 18 and 29 are largely non-partisan and quite socially liberal, yet lean fiscally conservative. This ideological mix provides free market advocates with both an opportunity and a major challenge.

The basic struggle for conservatives rests with the fact that to the extent Millennials identify as liberal, it’s because of traditionally defined “social issues.” As Tyler Koteskey at Reason explains, “When we investigate liberal Millennials, the report shows that only about a third of respondents describe their own liberalism in both social and economic terms.”

This means that even if Millennials value liberty overall, economic freedom has taken a backseat to personal freedom in the minds of youth—a fact that speaks to an unfortunate disconnect.

Perhaps it’s not immediately obvious to all advocates of personal liberty that economic freedom is a prerequisite necessary for their vision to flourish. After all, progressives have done a good job of erroneously separating the two and placing a superficial focus on the social absent the economic.

Government-run economies, which only 32% of young people support, are a huge impediment to social mobility in both the economic and personal sense. Ultimately, that authoritarianism inherently produces cronyism and corruption – something 66% of Millennials recognize.

After all, when economic incentives force a company to lobby politicians (when government is too large) rather than focus on the needs of consumers (when the market is free), what else can one expect? Absent the autonomy to transact with others in a reasonably free setting, social liberty will, by definition, be restricted or at least subordinated to established interests.

Ever heard of the developing sharing economy and the government’s Luddite reaction to it? Think Uber, AirBnb, and other innovative markets that big corporations and their politician buddies are trying to squash. God forbid you create economic value while exercising social freedom without the government’s permission.

If politicians want to reach a generation that sees Republicans and Democrats as similar appendages of a corrupt system (only 31% see a major difference between the two parties), they need to start with first principles. If freedom is the cause of Millennials – as it seems to be in many facets – it must be said at every turn that true social freedom is impossible to achieve without economic liberty.

An entire generation disillusioned with traditional institutions is open to this message. Will any politicians be brave enough to break the mold and emerge as defenders of a new choice-minded paradigm? If so, they might just earn the backing of Millennials, party labels aside.

 

The Government Hates When We Share

September 3rd, 2014

Originally posted at Rare

It seems like an obvious statement: With the advent of technology comes progress. New ways for people to connect, transact, and help one another are continuously emerging as smartphones and social media make previously impossible interactions commonplace.

When it’s easier to cooperate one-on-one without the need for a middleman, convenience skyrockets. Whether it’s making money on the side with an online business, renting out extra space in your house, turning your personal vehicle into an Uber or Lyft, or making your home into a doggy daycare, these examples barely scrape the surface of the growing “sharing economy.”

These types of peer-to-peer transactions have the potential, according to an analysis from the McKinsey Global Institute, to unlock $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in trapped capital. This is exactly the kind of jumpstart the economy needs, particularly when you consider the United States’ 15.1% youth unemployment rate and $1.2 trillion in total student loan debt.

What better way to help the young and technologically savvy than to allow for these bottom-up dealings that decrease consumer costs and increase provider incomes? Unfortunately, too many regulatory agencies and established corporations hold an opinion on that question at odds with those bettering their lives through these innovative businesses.

Increasingly, the rise of new economic paradigms is met with resistance from government officials. If an emergent technology doesn’t fit into an existing regulatory scheme, the first instinct of bureaucrats is often to ban it instead of allowing for growth and updating regulations in response.

This is an extremely backwards and damaging approach to dealing with progress. It’s also an attitude pervasive within a big government more interested in protecting equally big corporate interests than it is in empowering consumers.

Take Uber, for example. Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Robert McNamara explained during a Generation Opportunity-hosted panel recently that only one major city responded to the ride-sharing technology in a remotely rational way. Chicago saw the advent of Uber, and instead of immediately trying to get rid of the new service, city officials recognized that it had yet to produce a regulatory scheme for this model. Regulators therefore decided to let Uber continue operating while they worked to develop new standards. The resulting regulations, while arguably unfair and crony-minded, at least represent an effort to bring Uber into the fold rather than evict the company outright.

Unfortunately, nearly every other city has reacted by attempting to ban ride-sharing technologies while trying to figure out how to deal with them. For example, Uber is still outlawed entirely in Las Vegas, a tourist-centric city where this kind of service would flourish. These types of bans have almost always been instituted with the urging of the government-protected taxi cartels and against the wishes of consumers clamoring for just this sort of product.

Uber has even gone so far as to hire David Plouffe, one of President Obama’s former chief strategists. When a company introducing a disruptive technology into the market has to invest in political clout to receive fair (or special) treatment from regulatory agencies, it illustrates what’s fundamentally wrong with letting government run amok. Instead of focusing on how to serve consumers, emergent companies must divert resources to jumping through regulatory hoops set up largely to protect the government’s favored firms.

Welcome to the inevitable cronyism that big government, which naturally protects its big corporate counterparts, yields.

Unfortunately, this problem transcends ride-sharing. AirBnb, a website that allows people to rent space in their homes, has found itself in trouble with many local governments – most notably in New York City. A recent example in suburban Boston, where police repeatedly fined residents for the apparent crime of hosting guests in their home, further speaks to the problem. Instead of pushing to move people’s use of their property rights into the modern era, local authorities are largely relying on outdated laws to justify treating people trying to make a few extra bucks like criminals. Often, this is done at the insistence of established businesses.

While companies like AirBnb, HomeAway, and VRBO claim to be distinctly different from hotels in their business model, they haven’t avoided the ire of hotel advocacy organizations. As a representative for the Hotel Association of New York City stated: “(AirBnb takes) revenue from local municipalities and jobs from local employers, and could deter travelers from returning.”

This attitude sums up the problem so common among established businesses accustomed to being legally protected. Despite their claims, changes in the economy aren’t part of a zero-sum game that leads to the wholesale destruction of jobs and income. Revenue streams and employment structures are simply adapting to new advances, and in the process, unlocking untapped potential that could help both our country’s struggling middle class and the economy as a whole. This is a good thing for consumers, as we’ll be able to access additional services and participate more readily in this emerging economy ourselves.

Try as it might, the heavy-hand of government ultimately won’t be able to stop us from sharing.

Fighting Cronyism Can Bring People Together

August 21st, 2014

Originally posted at The Daily Caller

Nothing should unite the left and right like opposition to corporate welfare. The left is traditionally skeptical of unabated corporate power, and the right, of wasting taxpayer dollars on matters that work themselves out absent government intervention. Ideologically, the average liberal and conservative are likely to find common ground on this matter. There happens to be a bipartisan consensus around this issue as well, but it’s entirely at odds with this area of left-right agreement.

Consider the Export-Import Bank. This little-known relic of New Deal-style command-and-control economics represents cronyism at its worst. Ex-Im, which is up for congressional reauthorization this fall, provides a select few corporations with taxpayer-funded handouts meant to buoy their exports. As Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center, explains, “Economists have long known that these kinds of export credit subsidies will never raise the overall level of trade; rather, they redistribute wealth away from unsubsidized American firms, employees, and consumers and direct it toward a tiny number of subsidy beneficiaries.”

Despite this economic reality, advocates of the Ex-Im Bank claim that it creates jobs and poses little risk to taxpayers. This ignores the fact that ninety-eight percent of American companies engaged in exporting their products don’t receive these favors, making it difficult to compete and thus eliminating jobs and new economic growth. Defenders even say that the government-run bank makes a profit for taxpayers; however, this claim has been proven false. As Tim Carney, a Visiting Fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, points out, “The Congressional Budget Office reported that if Ex-Im used proper accounting methods, it would be budgeted as a $2 billion cost to the taxpayers per decade.”

The fact is, even if it were true that Ex-Im makes a profit, it wouldn’t justify elected officials picking winners and losers based on which companies peddle the most political influence. The point of having a free market is to place the most power possible in the hands of consumers. A marketplace distorted by politicians doling out favors to select corporate interests creates all the wrong incentives. Instead of innovating to earn the business of average people, companies will focus on turning a profit through the acquisition of government subsidies. When that happens, we all miss out. Not only do we lose great products that weren’t created due to a focus on pleasing politicians rather than the people making purchases, but we also forgo economic growth that could have been fostered if resources were allocated in a manner that actually reflected consumer desires.

Those concerned with issues of income inequality and the plight of the “99 percent” ought to be extremely disturbed by the transgressions of politicians who campaign on these issues and do the exact opposite in practice. When Barack Obama embraced a grassroots shtick in an effort to out-maneuver Hillary Clinton in 2008, he described the Ex-Im Bank as “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” The president was right, of course, but now his rhetoric echoes those who act as if government-subsidized job creation doesn’t have a net negative impact on the small businesses trying to compete under the weight of an unjust corporatist system.

The same goes for the allegedly populist senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, who is known for railing against the excesses of corporate America. Her spokesperson recently stated, “Senator Warren believes that the Export-Import Bank helps create American jobs and spur economic growth.” So much for protecting the little guy, who’s trying to compete without a guaranteed taxpayer bailout and can’t afford the K Street lobbyists needed to acquire one.

At the same time, an identical hypocrisy exists among politicians who say they support free markets yet consistently vote in favor of destroying that which they claim as gospel. In that vein, the Ex-Im Bank has long been supported by many conservatives and reauthorized when Republicans have controlled the presidency and had majorities in Congress. Fortunately, recent efforts in opposition to this hypocritical behavior have eroded support for this crony measure among Republicans – which goes a long way in explaining why politicians in leadership are looking to shadily attach Ex-Im reauthorization to a larger funding bill instead of presenting it as its own measure.

Ultimately, fighting against corporate welfare comes down to how organized the resistance is. Railing against something as obscure as the Export-Import Bank may not sound sexy, but the truth is, it’s a great place to start. Breaking the unjust corporate-government monopoly that determines who gets a leg up when it comes to international trade is something liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and moderates alike can get behind. Unless we force politicians to break the habit of treating their central planning as more enlightened than the choices of American consumers, the corruption inherent in a corporatist system will continue to flourish

Obamacare’s War on Women’s Health

May 16th, 2014

Originally posted at The Daily Caller

Brace yourselves — it’s National Women’s Health Week! I hope you’ve been watching the Washington elite extoll Obamacare’s alleged virtues to mark the occasion. As they congratulate themselves, they’ll surely ignore how condescending it is to equate female empowerment to government dependency. Expect them to also gloss over the fact that a program supposedly designed to help womenhas banned the health insurance millions of us depended on and made access to care more expensive.

Ironically, the political class expects women to submissively believe that Obamacare is all unicorns and rainbows. But in my case, I’m among the countless women notified that my insurance policy is now illegal thanks to Obamacare. Please, disproportionately male politicians, forgive my naïve feminine skepticism when you tell me how great this law is.

I know it’s not just me – millions of women admire the trailblazing feminists who stood up against oppressive government to fight for equality. Today however, this legacy is tarnished by those who use the force of law to limit women’s health care options. In the spirit of National Women’s Health Week, let’s explore how the latest iteration of this war on choice is impacting women – especially those of us who happen to be Millennials.

– Obamacare increases out-of-pocket medical costs for women: Due to the fact that Obamacare plans feature high deductibles, women are disproportionately hit with higher out-of-pocket costs. This is because females generally require more medical care than our male counterparts. In fact, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women age 18 and older visited the doctor an average of 121 times more than men in 2010. Couple that with monthly premium payments that have risen an average 193 percent for the typical 30 year old woman, and you find that Obamacare is anything but affordable.

– Obamacare leaves working women with fewer hours and insurance options: One of the most damaging provisions in Obamacare is the employer mandate. Well-intentioned as it may be, forcing businesses with 50 or more employees to purchase medical coverage for employees that work 30 hours or more hurts a company’s bottom line. This unrealistic mandate doesn’t magically create more insured people – but it does force businesses to move more employees to part-time schedules. This has a negative effect on women, because 57 percent of part-time workers are female. When companies are forced to cut hours and there’s more competition for part-time work, women, especially single mothers, suffer. Additionally, Obamacare hurts working wives who used to be eligible for coverage under their husband’s health insurance, but no longer are.

– Obamacare limits women’s access to the doctors of their choice: In a failed effort to control costs, Obamacare plans are designed to have narrow doctor networks. This is particularly problematic for women who develop life-long relationships with their specialists, and especially their children’s doctors. If you liked your doctor before you signed up for Obamacare, good luck. Obamacare limits your access to the medical care you want in the name of “affordability,” all while there’s no actual market in health care with transparent prices that allow women to make informed decisions for themselves and their families.

Ultimately, the federal government simply cannot centrally manage the health care of 313.9 million Americans. Women should be empowered to make their own choices absent government mandates that limit our access to health care and negatively impact our economic prospects. Unfortunately, in that regard, Obamacare is a step in the wrong direction. The good news is that an educated female electorate can push for the right kind of change, which will empower us as informed individuals rather than forcing us to be part of a faceless government collective.

Women’s health care should be about options, access, and price transparency. The more government strangles choice and innovation, the less we’ll have of all three. During National Women’s Health Week, let’s promote women as the knowledgeable, self-reliant people we are, and finally put an end to the outlandish idea that government control is empowerment.

The Texas GOP’s Lieutenant Governor Runoff Race

May 8th, 2014

The runoff between Dan Patrick and David Dewhurst, the two remaining GOP Lieutenant Governor candidates in Texas is May 27th. Neither choice is ideal, and both are running what, in my opinion, are lackluster campaigns. Nevertheless, liberty-minded Republicans (including my original choice for Lt. Governor Jerry Patterson) are leaning toward  the current Lt. Governor, David Dewhurst, which I sympathize with despite prior wounds from the last Texas Senate race in which Dewhurst was a candidate.

Looking back to 2012, I was a hardcore Ted Cruz supporter during the Texas Senate primary. I certainly engaged in my share of Dewhurst bashing at the time. Some of it I regret in light of finally interacting with the Lieutenant Governor (I wish he’d been more accessible to the grassroots back then, as it would have served him well. He’s a very likable man in small group settings).

What I stand by however, is the fact that the Dewhurst campaign released some really classless ads against Cruz. Despite preferring Dewhurst over Patrick in the current Lt. Gov runoff by a significant margin, I’ve been quite vocal about the fact that I’m still having a hard time getting over many of those ads. Especially the not-so-subtle race baiting “Cruz supports amnesty” one.

However, one of the reasons I’ve chosen Dewhurst over Patrick despite my concerns is because I’ve never heard the Lieutenant Governor personally use the divisive rhetoric that, unfortunately, his Senate campaign was reduced to utilizing in the aforementioned attack ad. Sadly, I cannot say the same of State Senator Patrick, who regularly engages in insensitive commentary, handing ready-made talking points to Battleground Texas operatives.

But now, I find myself frustrated yet again by the tone deafness of Dewhurst’s campaign, despite my new-found appreciation of his reasoned approach to accomplishing legislative goals in his current role. The recently released “Dannie Goeb” parody of a song from “Frozen” is just bizarre, and is rightfully getting made fun of across the internet. Instead of focusing on the serious problems with Dan Patrick (and there are many), Dewhurst’s campaign is choosing to highlight the fact that Patrick changed his name, and has appeared in public shirtless.

The overall level of discourse in this race has been a disappointment to me. I know that attack ads are more effective than positive ones, and I don’t have a fundamental problem with going negative. But the “Frozen” ad reeks of desperation, and makes it look like there’s nothing substantive to criticize Patrick on, which is simply false. That being said, I’m still supporting David Dewhurst despite wondering what goes on in the man’s mind when he OK’s ads that go out under his name.

Another relevant point is to remind Ron Paul supporters outraged over his recent endorsement of Dewhurst that this is nothing new. Dr. Paul has been endorsing less than ideal politicians longer than those of us who jumped on the bandwagon in 2008 and 2012 have been alive. Sometimes, he actually exercises a bit of political savvy, and thinks about the the long-term impact of certain races. It’s much better to keep Dewhurst in a position he’s held for quite some time after he’s demonstrated that he can’t move much higher than to provide someone like Dan Patrick, who makes Dewhurst look like a saint, an upward trajectory.

Obamacare’s 7.1 million sign-ups: This year’s worst April Fools joke

April 7th, 2014

Originally posted at The Daily Caller

In a twist of fate that reflects the dishonesty built into Obamacare, the president took to the White House Rose Garden to proclaim victory for his signature legislation on, of all days, April 1st. It might have been funny, if Obamacare wasn’t premised on falsehoods that are causing problems for the economymiddle class families, and Millennials. But Obamacare’s impending legacy appears to be increasingly tarnished with the deceit that has been central to the law’s political viability.

Parroting the claim that 7.1 million people have signed up for Obamacare, the White House coupled the president’s aforementioned speech with the Twitter campaign #7MillionAndCounting. Critics of the law rightfully used the hashtag to point out the many falsehoods promoted by the president — in a setting where, unsurprisingly, questions from the press were disallowed. While the White House pretends this  scheme is working (even as midterm election projections paint another picture), a quick reality check tells us the following:

– At least 5 million Americans lost their health insurance because Obamacare banned it. This means that even if 7.1 million is an accurate representation of those who bought plans, Obamacare is an expensive game of musical chairs with the collateral impact of hurting the economy and transferring earned wealth away from young Americans.

– The Department of Health and Human Services defines someone as being enrolled in Obamacare as long as they’ve “selected” a plan. Furthermore, their metrics don’t count whether people actually have paid for their plan or not – the centrally important question.

– Obamacare has only decreased the amount of uninsured Americans by 1.2 percent from the last quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014. This needs to be considered in the context of the fact that at least 1 million individuals who had plans they liked before Obamacare banned them remain uninsured as of today. Perhaps many of these people are the low-income college students Obamacare has created nightmares for.

– 83 percent of Obamacare enrollees have their insurance subsidized by taxpayers. This essentially means that Obamacare is the new unsustainable entitlement its critics always said it would be. Couple this with the problems Medicare and Social Security face, and you’ll see that the government’s full-fledged war on youth is alive and well.

– Only 27 percent of Obamacare enrollees are young and/or healthy, falling significantly below the Congressional Budget Office’s projection of the needed 40 percent figure. This tells you a lot about who Obamacare attracts, who has chosen to opt out, and why the program is unsustainable in the long-run.

It’s a crafty political bait-and-switch, banning the insurance several million people depended on and then claiming you were responsible for “expanding access.” From an ethical standpoint this is absurd, and speaks to why placing essential services in the hands of government bureaucrats is dangerous. Those who believe in programs like Obamacare are often critics of alleged “unbridled capitalism.” They point to profit motive in a market as an inherent moral negative. On its face, this concept sounds as if it could have merit – and sometimes it does. There are many bad actors in a free market, but when consumers have an abundance of choices, companies that consistently treat their customers poorly will go out of business.

To assume that government meddling in an industry such as health care will intrinsically yield positive outcomes is to suspend realistic thinking. If the profit motive of a private insurance company is something that concerns you, the power motive inherent in politics (which more often than not leads to ill-gotten profit) should be that much scarier. What we’re currently seeing with Obamacare is simply another example of this timeless truth. The larger government grows, the less effective it is at managing its basic functions, and the more it enriches the powerful at the expense of the less-connected.

In this case, the less-connected and thusly-screwed are largely members of my generation. Obamacare puts a target on the back of Millennials who already suffer as a result of record un- and under-employment, not to mention unreasonably high federally subsidized student loan debt. By mandating that we pay for costlysub-par Obamacare plans, the government is doubling down on its war on youth. This conflict is both immoral and unnecessary – but it can only be stopped by an informed electorate unwilling to stand for this unseemly generational transfer of wealth. After all, a government ultimately reflects its citizenry; and a corrupt one, its apathy. Let’s change that.

Obamacare’s latest target: Low-income college students

February 24th, 2014

Originally posted at The Daily Caller

Much has been made of Obamacare’s “adult child” provision — the portion of the law that allows dependents to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26. Some have interpreted this to mean that all plans must cover individuals up to that age, but it actually just allows for the possibility if you’re fortunate enough to have a comprehensive plan. Ultimately, it’s a bone thrown to upper-middle class Millennials who can afford to sip hot cocoa in their onesies while mom and dad foot the bills. But not every “adult child” has that luxury.

What about families that lack the resources to fund their twenty-something’s health insurance? Or young adults who, like me, reject the condescending “adult child” concept outright? Advocates of Obamacare claim that the program’s subsidies should make up for a lack of dependency on our parents (ignoring, of course, market reforms that would actually make healthcare affordable). But like any taxpayer funded redistribution scheme, these subsidies create economic distortions and discourage the kind of competition that lowers overall costs.

Even worse, Obamacare has explicitly banned millions of plans people were happy with, offering in their place more costly, substandard insurance with narrower doctor networks. Sadly, one of the targets of this failed attempt at social engineering has been low-income college students. Across the nation, young people who purchased plans through their universities are now seeing sticker shock beyond their wildest dreams.

In some states, the situation is so bad that colleges have dropped the requirement that students be insured – putting a damper on Obamacare’s alleged goal of reducing the number of uninsured Americans. Take North Carolina as an example. Plans at the state’s public schools increased from $460 per semester to $709. At private schools, a hike of $668 per semester to $1,179 was seen. Unfortunately, this trend isn’t isolated to just North Carolina and a few of its campuses.

Health care policy analyst Avik Roy warned that because Obamacare bans the sort of affordable policies that low-income college students depend on, we could expect price hikes as high as 1,112 percent. This cost increase has profoundly damaged young people attempting to better their economic prospects. College students are already dealing with tuition costs that have risen by 6.5 percent each year for the past decade due in large part to federal loan subsidies. Despite this, the government continues to pile on while politicians feign confusion over the 15.8 percent youth unemployment rate.

As Roy noted at Forbes, these cost increases for students are happening virtually across the board. A couple of particularly egregious examples include the State University of New York in Plattsburgh, where for the entire school year, premiums were $440 per student. Now, they’re between $1,300 and $1,600. The University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington is facing an even bigger disparity: a jump from $165 per year to somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 annually, and will no longer be offering coverage through the college. Cornell College in Iowa, Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, and Bethany College in Kansas are also among many institutions of higher education that will no longer provide school-based coverage due to Obamacare.

If the above instances aren’t bad enough, it’s become clear that those most adversely impacted by Obamacare’s gutting of their university plans are students at historically black colleges and community schools. As Eugene Craig, the President of Young Americans for Liberty at Bowie State University in Maryland noted during an appearance on Fox News, the school’s plans that many of his peers were dependent on were suspended after Obamacare increased rates from $100 to $1,800 per year.

In New Jersey, the state’s entire network of community colleges has suffered as costs increased up to $1,700 per year. Students are struggling so much that the state’s legislature repealed a longstanding law that required all university students to have coverage. Perhaps the fact that Obamacare has banned affordable university health insurance won’t impact students who are able to depend on their families. But minorities, recent immigrants, unskilled workers, and low-income students are being pushed into uninsured status or forced to rely on substandard Medicaid plans they could’ve avoided had Obamacare not made the private insurance they used to have illegal.

Creating government dependency when an existing system was working for both the university and student body speaks to the trouble with Obamacare and other programs like it. Most Americans agree that some form of a safety net to eliminate the possibility of absolute poverty is a favorable concept. But when politicians ban cooperation between consenting parties in order to foster a reliance on government, they’re discouraging personal responsibility and social mobility: two hallmarks of the American Dream. Young Americans have had enough of being treated like children who need to be dependent on either our parents or the government, when all we really want is the same opportunities past generations have been afforded as a result of economic freedom. It’s time for government to step out of our way once and for all, and let us thrive.

The “Unanticipated” Consequences of Obamacare

February 10th, 2014

Originally posted at The Daily Caller

Stop the presses! Obamacare is going to be trillions more expensive than originally projected and will destroy millions of jobs? That’s what last week’s report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) declares, coupled with some almost humorous commentary about how these results were “unanticipated.” As the CBO states in making projections through 2017, “Reduced incentives to work attributable to the Affordable Care Act – with most of the impact arising from new subsidies for health insurance purchased through the exchanges – will have a larger negative effect on (labor force) participation toward the end of that period.”

This was far from the only observation the CBO made about Obamacare – but it’s the most important one philosophically. It begs the question, what kind of country are we leaving to American youth? One that encourages hard work as a prerequisite for fulfilling boundless potential? Or a nation where we’re artificially “free” from obligation through regulations that discourage wealth creation and social mobility? Unfortunately, Obamacare is promoting the latter. Even worse, there are people defending the outcome.

The New York Times’ editorial board didn’t try to spin the truth of how severely Obamacare is impacting job growth, but rather chose to celebrate the alleged positivity of elevating government handouts over employment. In their own words, “The Congressional Budget Office estimated on Tuesday that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.5 million over the next decade. That is mostly a good thing, a liberating result of the law.”

Apparently, liberation doesn’t mean freedom from a government that limits one’s ability to enhance their well-being. Instead, “liberation” is a luxury afforded to some, while others subsidize the programs they depend on. This is not an outlook steeped in long-term sustainability. It’s actually a disturbing indication of the fact that there are Americans willing to trade the incentives that encourage social mobility for government-induced mediocrity that has the net effect of dragging the entire economy down.

Physician and scholar Scott Gottlieb put it well when he said, “The old employer sponsored system forced people to stay in jobs they didn’t like because they needed the health insurance coverage. The new Obamacare system will force people to stay out of jobs they do want because they need to maximize their subsidies. And this is social progress?” A crucial inquiry indeed.

Most advocates of a free-market health care system recognize the problems with insurance being tied to employment and care being tied to insurance. Portable, affordable plans tailored to meet the needs of consumers are what’s desperately required, but they have been banned by Obamacare. Moreover, health insurance should specifically be geared toward coverage for catastrophic events – not utilized to pay for basic care.

This is the route young people who have chosen to opt out of Obamacare are taking. Whether they sign up for a short-term plan or purchase any one of the many of private options still available, it’s wholly possible to reject Obamacare and act responsibly. Ultimately, the better understanding consumers have of actual health care costs, the morecompetition will bring prices down. These concepts are simple – but they seem to evade politicians who refuse to acknowledge the value of policies that shift power out of their orbit and back toward the people.

Indicative of that problem, Obamacare has exasperated what was wrong with the health care market prior to its enactment. Instead of creating more choice, it has restricted doctor options. Instead of making health care more affordable, it has disproportionately burdened the middle class. Instead of increasing options, it has banned millions of plans. Instead of “freeing” young people, it has pushed several trillion dollars more in government debt on our shoulders. Instead of reining in corporate excess, it has guaranteed insurance companies bailouts.

Nothing about Obamacare represents a “step in the right direction,” unless one believes the government is a self-sustaining entity upon which everyone can depend without contributing. That outlook has collapsed many an economy and been the catalyst for vast social unrest. We’ve already seen problems of this nature in countries like Spain andGreece recently.

The United States must avoid going down the same path and ultimately handing young Americans a country where instead of pursuing our dreams, we’re forced to pay for the mistakes of those who thought mortgaging our futures for their personal gain was acceptable. In these trying times, it would be wise to heed the words of French philosopher Frédéric Bastiat:  ”Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.”

State of the Youth

January 29th, 2014

Originally posted at The Daily Caller

Enduring the pomp and circumstance of the State of the Union can be an ordeal in and of itself. For those of us inherently skeptical of the president being presented in too king-like a fashion, Barack Obama’s latest exhibition did nothing to moderate our doubts. In fact, we were fed a vision of the president as supreme legislator, in which a compliant Congress enacts his schemes or is cut out of the governing process. In the second year of his final term, as his signature legislation unravels before the nation’s eyes, it appears that Barack Obama cannot abide the divided government the American people intentionally installed. And so we contend with his agenda.

When one listens to Barack Obama, it’s hard to dismiss the unsettling feeling that he believes government is the economy. That any cut to federal spending chips away at growth potential. That progress is achieved through “investments” made by politicians with assets they stole from us. Surely, without the benign hand of government directing our resources toward commitments it deems laudable, we peasants would drown in a sea of decentralized incompetence. You and I cannot be trusted with the fruits of our own labor, lest the bureaucratic machine miss an opportunity to regulate more of our voluntary interactions with one another.

Naturally, it’s terrifying to think that the leader of the free world could even hint at subscribing to such an authoritarian outlook. It is especially troublesome for those of us under thirty, who will bear the consequences of policies crafted under this vision. We are already inordinately burdened by a government keen to enact new “youth jobs training programs,” but never considers reforming the regulatory regime that strangles would-be Millennial entrepreneurs. Just so, Obama’s address doubled down on the debt-fueled policies that have contributed to the 15.9 percent unemployment rate 18-29 year olds currently face.

The manner in which the President chose to discuss issues like the minimum wage, Obamacare, and income inequality clearly demonstrates his inability to see solutions implemented outside of Washington as viable. His command-and-control approach is tiresome to young people who have heard this rhetoric before, yet feel disempowered due to the lackluster economic results it yields. Ultimately, words don’t create jobs, and results do matter more than intentions.

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