Tag Archives: Free market

Let Market Forces Solve Organ Transplant Crisis

Original Article: http://www.thedailybell.com/29388/Ron-Paul-Let-Market-Forces-Solve-Organ-Transplant-Crisis

MONDAY, JULY 15, 2013

By Ron Paul

Ron Paul

Ten-year old cystic fibrosis patient Sarah Murnaghan captured the nation’s attention when federal bureaucrats imposed a de facto death sentence on her by refusing to modify the rules governing organ transplants. The rules in question forbid children under 12 from receiving transplants of adult organs. Even though Sarah’s own physician said she was an excellent candidate to receive an adult organ transplant, government officials refused to even consider modifying their rules.

Fortunately, a federal judge intervened so Sarah received the lung transplant. But the welcome decision in this case does not change the need to end government control of organ donations and repeal the federal ban on compensating organ donors.

Supporters of the current system claim that organ donation is too important to be left to the marketplace. But this is nonsensical: if we trust the market to deliver food, shelter and all other necessities, why should we not trust it to deliver healthcare—including organs?

It is also argued that it is “uncompassionate” or “immoral” to allow patients or insurance companies to provide compensation to donors. But one of the reasons the waiting lists for transplants is so long, with many Americans dying before receiving a transplant, is because of a shortage of organs. If organ donors, or their heirs, were compensated for donating, more people would have an incentive to become organ donors.

Those who oppose allowing patients to purchase organs should ask themselves how compassionate it is to allow those people to die on the transplant waiting list who might otherwise have lived if they were able to obtain organs though private contracts.

Some are concerned that if organ donations were supplied via the market instead of through government regulation, those with lower incomes would be effectively denied access to donated organs. This ignores our current two-tier system for allocating organs, as the wealthy can travel overseas for transplants if they cannot receive a transplant in America. Allowing the free market to alleviate the shortage of organs and reduce the costs of medial procedures like transplants would benefit the middle class and the poor, not the wealthy.

The costs of obtaining organs would likely be covered by most health insurance plans, thus reducing the costs directly borne by individual patients. Furthermore, if current federal laws distorting the health care market are repealed, procedures such as transplants would be much more affordable. Expanded access to health savings accounts and flexible savings accounts, combined with generous individual tax deductions and credits, would also make it easier for people to afford health care procedures such as transplants.

There is also some hypocrisy in the argument against allowing market forces in organ transplants. Everyone else involved in organ transplantation procedures, including doctors, nurses and even the hospital janitor, receives compensation. Not even the most extreme proponent of government-provided health care advocates forcing medical professionals to provide care without compensation. Hospitals and other private institutions provide compensation for blood and plasma donations, and men and women are compensated for donations to fertility clinics, so why not allow compensation for organ donation?

Sarah Murnaghan’s case shows the fallacy in thinking that a free-market system for organ donations is less moral or less effective than a government-controlled system. It is only the bureaucrats who put adherence to arbitrary rules ahead of the life of a ten-year-old child. It is time for Congress to wake up and see that markets work better in all aspects of health care, including organ donation, just as they work better in providing all other goods and services.

Dr. Ron Paul, a medical doctor and longtime Texas Representative to the US House, continues to promote and educate on issues of liberty through his “Ron Paul’s Texas Straight Talk” column, pubished weekly here.

 


The Elitists Will Not Change Even If they Say They Will.

Our Interests and Their Interests

by Murray N. Rothbard

Excerpted from Rothbard’s 1978 preface to Ludwig von Mises‘s The Clash of Group Interests and Other Essays

In the 20th century, the advocates of free-market economics almost invariably pin the blame for government intervention solely on erroneous ideas – that is, on incorrect ideas about which policies will advance the public weal. To most of these writers, any such concept as “ruling class” sounds impossibly Marxist. In short, what they are really saying is that there are no irreconcilable conflicts of class or group interest in human history, that everyone’s interests are always compatible, and that therefore any political clashes can only stem from misapprehensions of this common interest.

In “The Clash of Group Interests,” Ludwig von Mises, the outstanding champion of the free market in this century, avoids the naïve trap embraced by so many of his colleagues. Instead, Mises sets forth a highly sophisticated and libertarian theory of classes and of class conflict by distinguishing sharply between the free market and government intervention.

It is true that on the free market there are no clashes of class or group interest; all participants benefit from the market and therefore all their interests are in harmony.

But the matter changes drastically, Mises points out, when we move to the intervention of government. For that very intervention necessarily creates conflict between those classes of people who are benefited or privileged by the State and those who are burdened by it. These conflicting classes created by State intervention Mises calls castes. As Mises states,

Thus there prevails a solidarity of interests among all caste members and a conflict of interests among the various castes. Each privileged caste aims at the attainment of new privileges and at the preservation of old ones. Each underprivileged caste aims at the abolition of its disqualifications. Within a caste society there is an irreconcilable antagonism between the interests of the various castes.

In this profound analysis Mises harkens back to the original libertarian theory of class analysis, originated by Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer, leaders of French laissez-faire liberalism in the early 19th century.

But Mises has a grave problem; as a utilitarian, indeed as someone who equates utilitarianism with economics and with the free market, he has to be able to convince everyone, even those whom he concedes are the ruling castes, that they would be better off in a free market and a free society, and that they too should agitate for this end. He attempts to do this by setting up a dichotomy between “short-run” and “long-run” interests, the latter being termed “the rightly understood” interests. Even the short-run beneficiaries of statism, Mises asserts, will lose in the long run. As Mises puts it,

In the short run an individual or a group may profit from violating the interests of other groups or individuals. But in the long run, in indulging in such actions, they damage their own selfish interests no less than those of the people they have injured. The sacrifice that a man or a group makes in renouncing some short-run gains, lest they endanger the peaceful operation of the apparatus of social cooperation, is merely temporary. It amounts to an abandonment of a small immediate profit for the sake of incomparably greater advantages in the long run.

The great problem here is: why should people always consult their long-run, as contrasted to their short-run, interests? Why is the long run the “right understanding”? Ludwig von Mises, more than any economist of his day, has brought to the discipline the realization of the great and abiding importance of time preference in human action: the preference of achieving a given satisfaction now rather than later. In short, everyone prefers the shorter to the longer run, some to different degrees than others.

How can Mises, as a utilitarian, say that a lower time preference for the present is “better” than a higher? In brief, some moral doctrine beyond utilitarianism is necessary to assert that people should consult their long-run over their short-run interests. This consideration becomes even more important when we consider those cases where government intervention confers great, not “small,” gains on the privileged, and where retribution does not arrive for a very long time, so that the “temporary” in the above quote is a long time indeed.

Mises, in “The Clash of Group Interests,” tries to dismiss war between nations and nationalisms as senseless, at least in the long run. But he does not come to grips with the problem of national boundaries; since the essence of the nation-State is that it has a monopoly of force over a given territorial area, there is ineluctably a conflict of interest between States and their rulers over the size of their territories, the size of the areas over which their dominion is exercised.

While in the free market, each man’s gain is another man’s gain, one State’s gain in territory is necessarily another State’s loss, and so the conflicts of interest over boundaries are irreconcilable – even though they are less important the fewer the government interventions in society.

Mises’s notable theory of classes has been curiously neglected by most of his followers. By bringing it back into prominence, we have to abandon the cozy view that all of us, we and our privileged rulers alike, are in a continuing harmony of interest. By amending Mises’s theory to account for time preference and other problems in his “rightly understood” analysis, we conclude with the still less cozy view that the interests of the State-privileged and of the rest of society are at loggerheads – and further, that only moral principles beyond utilitarianism can ultimately settle the dispute between them.

Reprinted from Mises.org.

Murray N. Rothbard (1926–1995) was dean of the Austrian School, founder of modern libertarianism, and chief academic officer of the Mises Institute. He was also editor – with Lew Rockwell – of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, and appointed Lew as his literary executor. See his books.

The Best of Murray Rothbard


Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics

Mises Daily: Friday, October 22, 2010 by 

In previous decades libertarians viewed intellectual property as a boring and technical area of the law, the province of legal specialists. They also assumed it to be a legitimate, if arcane, type of property in a capitalist, free-market society. After all, it’s in the Constitution, and Ayn Rand blessed it. But we don’t ignore it anymore, and we don’t take its legitimacy for granted. We can’t. The injustices of IP have multiplied in the Internet age and are staring us in the face.

The advent of the Internet, digital information, and easy file-sharing and duplication have been met with ever-more draconian enforcement of the state’s IP law, and with incessant lobbying for legislation to make IP stronger and last longer. Just as the state wants to tax everything that moves, intellectual properteers want to cover ever-more subjects of life with IP protection. But everyone — the young, students, and libertarians — copies files, and we all regularly hear stories about insane patent and copyright lawsuits. Single moms and college students are sued for file-sharing. The IP barons seek three-strikes-and-you’re-out laws banishing accused offenders from the Internet for life. They seek international enforcement of their national monopoly rights, to harass street vendors in third-world countries. The legislators, who are in their pockets, have already outlawed the possession of devices that might be used to crack encryption codes. Their propaganda — in TV commercials, video games, magazine ads, and unskippable warnings at the beginning of DVD movies — hectors kids and college students about how uncool it is to copy.

We hear regularly about multimillion- or even billion-dollar patent lawsuits, and about the millions of dollars spent by corporations on patent attorneys and litigators just to cross-license with each other, leaving smaller companies outside the walls of the barriers to entry erected on these patent arsenals. In the name of IP, books are banned, movies are ordered destroyed, singers are prevented from singing, car owners prevented from photographing their own cars, churches are prohibited from having Super Bowl parties, and imports of watches and reimports of drugs are blocked. And a little mouse keeps getting his life extended, thanks to copyright — from the original 14 years to over 100. Trumped-up charges of IP infringement are used as an excuse by the government to investigate political opponents.[1] IP may still be arcane, but it’s not boring anymore. Scary and outrageous, maybe, but not boring.

Everyone knows something is wrong here. Everyone. Except perhaps for patent lawyers, federal judges, and Orrin Hatch. I take that back. I think even most patent lawyers know something is wrong. But mired in a mainstream, quasi-statist mindset, most people are unable to think clearly about this issue. For libertarians — especially those with a principled view of individual rights and an understanding of Austrian economics — there is more hope.

We must start by taking a close look at the traditional libertarian assumption that IP is, in fact, a legitimate type of property right. And it turns out that advocates of the free market have made a mistake all along. Patent and copyright, to take the two worst manifestations of IP, are nothing but state monopolies that violate property rights. IP is antithetical to capitalism and the free market.

And should this be any surprise? Copyright is rooted in censorship. No wonder it still leads to censorship today. Patent law finds its origins in mercantilist monopoly grants, and even legalized plunder — letters patent were used to legalize piracy in the 16th century — making it ironic for IP to be used against modern-day “pirates” who are not real pirates at all.

Once IP is seen this way, the scales fall from one’s eyes. It’s a transformative moment in one’s libertarian life, akin to the moment when one finally admits to himself that even the minimal state is criminal and thus adopts anarchism. Realizing that IP is not part of a free-market order makes possible a reassessment of aspects of libertarianism, economics, or social thought hitherto neglected or seen confusingly through the IP haze.

But this does not mean that once you realize IP is unlibertarian that is all there is to know. There is so much more. This is a difficult subject in the sense that it requires serious thought, not just a quick intuition. As noted above, libertarians are beginning to grapple with this issue in recent years as we enter the digital-information age. The realization that IP is incompatible with libertarianism is forcing a rethinking about topics that have been neglected or taken for granted.

While the fairly recent advent of the digital revolution has caused most libertarians to turn their attention to this issue, I started focusing on this issue intensely almost 20 years ago, as a libertarian beginning to practice patent law. I have been criticizing the validity of IP in print since 1995,[2] and I kept learning as other insights unfolded in the ensuing fifteen years. The history of IP is illuminating. For example, it was not simply invented by infallible, well-intentioned, protolibertarian framers of the Constitution, but originated in censorship and mercantilism. Seen in this light, IP is seen as another mercantilist-corporatist state intervention in the free market. And one simply must have a sound, coherent, and libertarian understanding of property rights, the nature ofhomesteading, and the nature of contractual exchange, to understand the IP issue. Or, rather, in wrapping your head around IP, you hone and deepen your understanding of property rights, and make new connections. In so doing, new insights become possible, indeed inevitable.

To develop an understanding of property, contract, and homesteading sophisticated enough to understand the nature of IP and exactly how and why it does not fit into libertarianism and the free market, you must look closer at the nature of homesteading (Locke), contract theory (Evers-Rothbard), and at the nature and function of property rights. This last category, in particular, provides a good illustration of why Austrians are especially suited to libertarian theorizing, as it requires a close study of praxeology and the very structure of human action. On this topic, we must examine the work of Austrian luminaries such as Mises, Rothbard, and Hoppe to fully appreciate the relationship between scarcity and property rights, and the unique role of ideas and emulation in a free market and in society in general.

The purpose of my Mises Academy course, “Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics” (six weeks, starting November 1, with Monday evening lecture/question-and-answer sessions), is to explore these issues in detail. The history of IP is little known; we will cover it, and expose its statist, mercantilist, monopolistic origins. Advocates of IP are often shamelessly ignorant of the nature and details of the very system they support; even skeptics and critics are often unclear about what IP law is. The course will therefore provide an overview of modern intellectual-property law, distinguishing between the various types of IP, with examples and illustrations.

The course will explore and offer critical analysis of various utilitarian and deontological justifications offered for IP. We will seek to analyze the proper relationship between property, scarcity, and ideas, and to integrate the proper perspective on IP and the nature of ideas, emulation, and information with Austrian economics and libertarian theory.

As to putting some of these ideas into practice, the course will conclude by studying or proposing various legal and political reforms that might be implemented. Finally, because even those skeptical of IP naturally ask, “but how would I make money doing X without copyright and patent?,” we will discuss likely types of market and social institutions and practices that could be expected to arise in a post-IP world.

Here are some of the topics that the course will cover:

  • The statist origins of patent and copyright, and how IP, used to persecute “pirates” today, was used in the past to support actual piracy;
  • The types of IP, and the difference between copyright and patent — and trade secret, trademark, moral rights, reputation rights, database rights, and sui generis IP rights like boat-hull designs and semiconductor maskwork protection;
  • Problems with utilitarian arguments in general, and with utilitarian arguments for IP;
  • Why empirical arguments for IP’s “success” are flawed;
  • How open-source software depends on IP;
  • Why it’s almost impossible to get rid of copyright, and why it’s not hypocritical to oppose IP and still “have” a copyright;
  • Why patent and copyright cannot originate in the common law (also: what is wrong with legislation, anyway; and what “common law copyright” was; bonus: what’s a “poor man’s patent”);
  • What is the most libertarian type of copyright license to use in today’s world;
  • The relationship between scarcity and property;
  • Homesteading theory, the nature of human action and contract, and their relationship to property and scarcity;
  • Why IP cannot be based on contract;
  • How most patent lawsuits have nothing to do with “copying”;
  • Central mistakes and confusions of natural-law arguments for IP;
  • Common fallacies and mistakes of pro-IP arguments, such as the implicit idea that there are property rights in labor, or that creation is an independent source of rights;
  • What Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard, as well as other notable economists such as Fritz Machlup, thought about IP;
  • The IP arguments of early libertarians like Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner;
  • Legal and political reforms to improve or abolish IP; and
  • Market and social institutions and practices that would arise in a post-IP world.

As noted above, coming to grips with IP is not easy. Thinking it through helps firm up the case for property rights and contract. And the implications of what we learn extend far beyond just this area; it reaches into social theory and competition theory as well.

Mises Academy: Stephan Kinsella teaches Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics

Those already convinced by the general argument against IP thus have much to learn in this course, which will deepen and extend their understanding of not only IP theory but also libertarian theory and economics. The course is also ideal for those who are on the fence, or who are confused, about IP; no intellectual conformity is required. Libertarians who think there are good arguments for IP are also welcome — at the least, they can test their arguments against the best we critics have to offer, and perhaps strengthen, modify, or deepen their own views about the nature of ideas, government, and property rights. (For further details about the course, see my interview about it with Jeff Tucker.)

This should be a fun course. I look forward to sharing ideas with you!

Notes

[1] Some examples are collected in my post “The Patent, Copyright, Trademark, and Trade Secret Horror Files.”

[2] See my various IP-related publications here.

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About the Author

Photo of Stephan    Kinsella

Stephan Kinsella

Stephan Kinsella is an attorney in Houston, director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom, and editor of Libertarian Papers. See his blog. Send him mail.

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