The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The Senate Judiciary Committee

Next Wednesday I will be giving testimony as one of a handful of panelists to the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Orrin Hatch. As part of that testimony, I submitted written testimony for the committee on Friday.

You can read that testimony by clicking on this link.

The hearing is on Wednesday at 10:00am here in Utah. Email me if you'd like more information on how you can attend.

Got comments? Email me, dammit!


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Friday, April 09, 2004

TheIRS: Stories from the field

I got this email today in response to an article I ran in one of my business newsletters. The article was titled "The 37 Cent Mistake" and basically advised people to put TWO stamps on their tax returns before sending them in lest the envelope be deemed too heavy and get returned (thus making you late in sending your tax return).

Anyway, here's a response one of my readers sent:

The 37 cent mistake happened to me in 1985. I got a letter from the IRS stating they had lost my 1984 return. I immediately sent them a copy which they also lost. It took 9 years of fighting with the IRS to get the matter straightened out. During the nine years the IRS raided my checking and savings accounts in order to collect my 'estimated tax'. Finally the IRS admitted they were wrong and refunded all my money they had taken with interest (over $7000). Within a week after I got my refund the IRS sent me a tax bill on the interest they had paid me.


Remember: your income tax is "voluntary"...

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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Radio Tax Commercial

Listen to this great little radio commercial about taxes from the Libertarian Party!

Libertarian Party 040504-Ball Chain.mp3

Got comments? Email me, dammit!

A Closing Argument

by Kenneth Prazak

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury:

"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its Constitution." So said Thomas Jefferson. Let me repeat that. I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its Constitution." Our founding fathers understood that the reason we have trial by jury in this country is to allow the people to be the last arbiter of the law as it applies in a specific case. You, here, sitting in the jury box right now have more power than a king or a queen, more power than the president of the United States. You, here, are the law.

We have a great heritage in this regard. Our right to free speech, free assembly, and freedom of religion, and trial by jury dates back to 1670, in a case tried by jury in jolly ole England, the famous and historically pivotal case of William Penn--yes the same William Penn who eventually founded Pennsylvania.

This is an excellent treatise on the power of a jury and our last vestige of freedom in this country... to read the rest, go here:

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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Fed Up with Insurance, Some Doctors Want Payment in Cash

By Rebecca Cook
(Associated Press/Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

RENTON, Wash. -- When Chuck O'Brien visits his doctor, they talk about his aches and pains, his heart problems and his diet, but never about his health insurance.

That's because his doctor only accepts cash.

Dr. Vern Cherewatenko is one of a small but growing number of physicians across the country who are dumping complicated insurance contracts in favor of simple cash payments.

When O'Brien leaves the exam room, he writes a check for $50 and he's done - no forms, no ID numbers, no copayments.

"This is traditional medicine. This is what America was like 30 years ago," said O'Brien, 55 and self-employed, who believes he has saved thousands of dollars by dropping his expensive insurance policy and paying cash. "It's a whole world of difference."

Is this the health care wave of the future? Probably not, experts say. Most people are content with monthly premiums and $10 copays; nine out of 10 doctors contract with managed-care companies.

But cash-only medicine is becoming an increasingly attractive option for doctors frustrated by red tape and for the 43 million Americans who lack health insurance.

"It's a terrible indictment of the collapsing health care system," said Arthur Caplan, chairman of the medical ethics department at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. "Insurance and managed care were supposed to streamline - instead what they've done is add so much paperwork and bureaucracy they're driving some doctors out."

Health insurers downplay the trend, while emphasizing recent efforts to mend tattered relationships between doctors and managed care companies.

"I don't look at it as a threat," said Mohit Ghose, spokesman for the industry group America's Health Insurance Plans. "It's just a different way of practicing."

Medical establishment leaders don't object to doctors working for simple cash.

"This is America. One size does not fit all," said Dr. John C. Nelson, president-elect of the American Medical Association. "We certainly support the physicians' right to do that."

An obstetrician-gynecologist in Salt Lake City, Nelson easily recalled times when he believed managed care rules prevented his patients from getting the best treatment. He said cash-only doctors are driven by the desire to practice medicine without interference.

"There is a great intrusion by third parties into the patient-physician relationship," Nelson said. "We can understand their frustration."

Cherewatenko, a broad-shouldered 45-year-old who wears black jackets and red stethoscopes at work, switched to cash out of desperation six years ago. His suburban Seattle practice was hemorrhaging money, and he and his partners realized they were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars just to process insurance paperwork.

"We said, 'Let's cut out this administrative waste,'" Cherewatenko said. Before, he charged $79 for an office visit and got $43 from an insurance company months later, minus the $20 in staff time it took to collect the payment. Now he charges $50 - and he never worries about collection costs, because patients pay in full after every visit.

Cherewatenko sees fewer patients now. His whole office would probably fit inside his old waiting room. But he says the freedom is worth it.

"Accounts receivable is zero. It's a great feeling," Cherewatenko said. "I feel like I'm a real doctor again."

He started a group called SimpleCare to spread the gospel of cash-only medicine. The organization steers patients to doctors who offer cash discounts, and gives technical and moral support to doctors who want to start cutting their ties to insurance. Membership has grown to 22,000 patient members and 1,500 doctors. Some reject all insurance and take only cash, while others continue to accept insurance while offering discounts of 15 percent to 50 percent for cash-paying patients.

Independent of SimpleCare, doctors in California, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas, Mississippi and other states have also quit the insurance game. Some tired of the paperwork and administrative expenses. Some wanted to spend more time with patients without managed care bean-counters peering over their shoulders. The patients who pay cash range from poor to wealthy, with most in the blue-collar middle.

"When I first started, I thought it would be the elite. That's not the case," said Dr. Shelley Giebel, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Temple, Texas, who washed her hands of insurance eight years ago.

Her standard, hour-long annual checkup costs $140. Everyone pays cash.

If a patient needs extra tests or treatment, Giebel tells them upfront what it will cost.

"If it is an urgent test, we'll go ahead and do it. We're not going to delay medical care because they don't have the money in hand," she said. Often, patients return later with the money.

"It has usually not been a problem that people forgo medical care," she said.

The cash-only movement isn't just changing the way people pay, it's changing the way these doctors work. Because of managed care's low reimbursement rates, doctors on insurance contracts must limit their time with each patient.

Giebel, a typical example, said she would have to double her patient load to make ends meet if she relied on insurance - something she can't imagine. "How can you possibly talk about prevention of cancer and heart disease when you're seeing patients every 12 minutes?" she asked.

Cash-only patients rave about the quality of care.

"They take time here with you," said Jesse Rainwater, a 59-year-old church pastor from Bellevue, Wash., who credits Cherewatenko with teaching him to manage his diabetes. "They don't just bring you in and run you out like a bunch of cattle. You feel like you're loved."

The cash-only approach evokes Norman Rockwell-tinged visions of country doctors being paid with chickens. The simplicity is tempting, but the truth is many people went without preventive health care in those "good old days." A $50 charge can be powerful incentive to delay seeing a doctor until you're in pain - which can lead to more expensive health problems later.

"Medicine used to be a cash-only business, and there were certainly many people who didn't have the cash," said Caplan, the medical ethicist. Doctors who insist on cash also have an ethical obligation to help people who can't afford the fee, he said - even if it means accepting chickens.

Cash crusaders acknowledge the need for some type of insurance. Without it, expensive surgery or hospitalization would force most people into bankruptcy. But they think health insurance should work more like car insurance: you pay for the routine maintenance and little dings yourself, and insurance pays for more expensive repairs.

O'Brien, a freelance marketing specialist, switched from a comprehensive health plan with $300 monthly premiums to a catastrophic plan that costs $75 a month, with a $2,000 deductible. He pays out-of-pocket for routine checkups, and his insurance will kick in if he ever needs expensive care.

The promise of a simple cash payment lured him to Cherewatenko's office, but the doctor's personal attention keeps him coming back. The $50 exams are just part of the bargain for O'Brien. Cherewatenko recently met him for coffee to talk about improving his diet -including an admonition to cut back on caffeine.

"How often does your doctor go out and have a cup of coffee with you?" O'Brien asked.

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UTOPIA - Utah's latest government "investment" scheme...

Lately, here in Utah, there has been a lot of discussion around a new telecom scheme in which fiber optic lines will be run from one of the "I-15 corridor" (where all the population is) to the other. This, of course, will cost millions of dollars.

The company that wants to do this is not a major telecom like AT&T or Comcast. Nope. It's a little startup. Their problem? They can't get a good interest rate with a standard loan and they can't find venture capitalists who're willing to caugh up the money without taking over the business. So what have they done? They've approached Utah's city governments asking them to pony up the cash for the future payoffs...

Anyway, there's an excellent article about it in todays Salt Lake Tribune: showing the possible corruption that goes along with this scheme... You can read that article here:

In response to articles appearing in both the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune, I sent letters to the editor in yesterday. They read:

To the Deseret News:
Dear Editor,

In your paper today (4/6/04), one of your lead opinion stories is about UTOPIA-the fiber-optic network proposed to be funded by Utah cities.

I am appalled that such an idea is even being considered. Not only is it being considered, but some cities have already backed the plan with astounding amounts of money.

The questions raised by this are many and are fundamental to our way of thinking as Utahns and Americans...Why is government involved in this, a private enterprise-amounting to nothing more than becoming venture capitalists for a telecom scheme? Why are tax dollars being used to give advantages to some businesses (those who "win contracts") in the private sector? Finally, the biggest question of all: why are tax dollars (especially in the form of bonds, which carry a heavy interest burden over time) being put up for grabs for what is essentially a private enterprise??

I find it extremely disgusting that, during a time of fiscal shakiness all over the state, some cities are willing to take the bond credit card out of their wallet and recklessly "charge it" for a scheme like this.

Let this private enterprise do as all entrepreneurial ventures do and find funding from private interests, not our limited tax dollars!


Aaron Turpen

...and to the Salt Lake Tribune:
Dear Editor,

In today's edition, "Rocky not sold on UTOPIA," I found myself to be in agreement with Mayor Anderson: a rare occurrence.

The Mayor isn't so sure about the telecom scheme UTOPIA and doesn't think Salt Lake City should be putting up money (in the form of bonds) to fund it.

I completely agree with Mr. Anderson, though it may be for differing reasons. While it is true that Salt Lake City already has most of the services promised by UTOPIA, that is not my reasoning for disagreeing with the proponents of the idea.

I oppose it for the fundamental reason that hard-earned tax dollars should never be spent to finance private enterprise...for any reason. What UTOPIA amounts to, in so many words, is corporate welfare on the local level. We hate it when we see Washington do it, why don't we hate it when we see Utah's cities doing the same?

Let private enterprise do as all entrepreneurial ventures do and find funding from private interests, NOT our limited tax dollars!


Aaron Turpen

I'll let you know if either is published.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Washington's Biggest Crime Problem

I finally got around to reading the April edition of Reason magazine (I subscribe and it's sat there among various other unread things). In this edition was one of the best commentaries on our current federal "justice" system I've ever read. It's eye-opening, scary, and will serve to really piss you off if you love freedom. One of my friend's favorite phrases is "everything's a felony." He may be right...

Washington’s Biggest Crime Problem
The federal government’s ever-expanding criminal code is an affront to justice and the Constitution.
William L. Anderson and Candice E. Jackson

Michael Paul Mahoney was convicted of selling methamphetamine in 1980 and served 22 months in a Texas prison. Upon his release, he went straight, opening a pool hall in Jackson, Tennessee. After closing up each night, he would deposit the day’s receipts at the bank, carrying a small .22-caliber pistol for protection.

In 1992, after the pistol was stolen, Mahoney bought a new one at a pawnshop, filling out the required paperwork. After the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms investigated the purchase, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in western Tennessee charged him with violating a federal law that bars "career criminals" from owning a gun. (He qualified as a career criminal because he had sold methamphetamine to an undercover officer three times.) Although the judge at Mahoney’s trial protested that it was pointless to pursue such a case against a now-law-abiding citizen, federal sentencing rules tied his hands. Mahoney, who was 39 when he was convicted in 1993, received a 15-year sentence. By contrast, people convicted under Tennessee’s law prohibiting gun ownership by felons (which did not apply to Mahoney, since his drug conviction was more than 10 years old) can receive sentences of less than a year.

In 2000 Memphis business owner Logan Young, who had been a close friend of the legendary University of Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, was accused of paying some $150,000 to two Memphis high school coaches in an attempt to steer a prize recruit to Alabama.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association investigated the charges and placed Alabama’s football team on probation for two years. Young arguably could have been charged with violating a Tennessee law that forbids bribes to "public servants," a crime that carries a penalty of three to six years in prison. But then prosecutors would have had to prove that he actually bribed the coaches, a charge he hotly denies.

Instead he was indicted last fall on three federal charges derived from the alleged bribery: conspiring with the coaches; aiding and abetting travel across state lines "with the intent to further unlawful activity"; and trying to conceal the alleged payments by withdrawing the money in amounts of less than $10,000, the threshold for a currency transaction report to the Internal Revenue Service. Each count carries a five-year prison term.


Read the rest:

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More Fun Stuff

And try Asscroft's new test!

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Monday, April 05, 2004

Kerry Cartoon

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Sunday, April 04, 2004


Oi, sometimes I wonder about the world. Here's another instance of poor government schooling combined with a general lack of intelligence and an apparent disconnect from the world at large...

I'm in the grocery store today and I'm wearing one of my "politically active" t-shirts (of which I own many). This one, specifically, reads:

"This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer and the world will follow our lead into the future! -Adolf Hitler, 1935"

Anyway, this lady reads it and gives me a funny (and I suspect, for her, confrontational) look. "You are a Nazi?" She asks.

I laughed. Seriously, I laughed out loud. Her ignorance and accusation were too much. I stood still and held the shirt out flat so she could read it again. "Hitler liked gun control," I said. "If you like gun control, you must love Hitler." She smiled and nodded and pushed her cart away.

She probably thinks I'm nuts too.

On the up side, this example of sheeple probably doesn't vote and most likely has no ambitions beyond tonight's pot roast and beans.


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Protest Zones

Here we go. I see the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the idea of "protest zones" to protect the LDS temple square complex from anti-Mormon protestors.


Well, I guess we should have seen it coming. First, the President gets "free speech zones" to protect himself from having to see protestors who don't like him. This way, he can live in a world full of "everyone loves me" feelings. Great.

Now a church has basically done the same thing. You can protest against them, but you have to do it over there and out of sight. It's for the greater good. Right?

Yeah, right. It's always for the better. Only people are too blinded to see the progression here.

I don't mind the LDS Church. In fact, I have nothing specifically against the Mormons. I don't hate them or even really dislike them. Were this decision in favor of the Catholics, Baptists, Buddhists, nudists, or anyone else, I'd feel the same.

What's happening here is our First Amendment is being slowly strangled. It's a progression...

You see, first the started in on the Second Amendment; since that's our most powerful tool against tyranny (and therefore the statists can't stand it). 20,000 gun laws later (and counting), the 2nd Amendment is becoming more and more mute.

So now they've started whittling away at our First Amendment rights. After all, if we can't say anything without getting in trouble, they'll have the second largest annoyance out of their way. No more annoying letters from the plebes trying to tell their congresscritters what to do.

Won't be long before there're 20,000 anti-free-speech laws "for our own good" too.

This is what the "progressive agenda" is all about, folks. Slowly, progressively, whittling away your rights until we live in an authoritarian, socialist hell. It's been talked about in the past... 1984, Animal Farm, Logan's Run, the Matrix... things don't just suddenly become bad, they progress towards it over time.

We're in the middle of a progression towards tyranny.

Pay attention!

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