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A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

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  • A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

    I have been talking a lot lately about Bastiat's The Law, and about positive and negative law, and legal plunder.

    That's all nice and well and good and everything, but maybe none of those terms really mean anything to you. Maybe you meant to get around to reading it, but didn't get the chance, or whatever.

    So here is an article that I just came across that gives an excellent modern example of legal plunder (including graphs!):


    I stand my my contention that if you are not angry, then you are not paying attention! :)
    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

  • #2
    Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

    I freaking abhor medicine run for profit. Certain industries, by virtue of their value to the functioning of life, are able to control pricing in ways that are unjust and detrimental to society at large. There is no reason that EpiPen should cost $400's. None. And our government does have a lot to do with it. That just about covers my opinion on the subject matter of the article, the tone and conclusions the article makes I disagree with.

    I don't understand how congressional outrage, feigned by some and authentic for others, is a 'witch-hunt' to cause distraction. Its very clear that Shkreli deserved the fufuing he got and then some. That man did a despicable thing at the cost of other's lives for to explode his own immediate disposable income. Its not a witch hunt if you are appropriately addressing blame and social scorn to an individual acting so selfishly.

    The biggest problem I have with the article is that it acts as if the government is the sole agent of blame, that Mylan's price gouging is directly controlled by congress. Its not. Sure our legal framework, indeed put in place by the government over many decades, allows for this price hike; but allowing and causing/doing are completely different verbs. Primary blame, regardless of how much they want to describe this as a 'kangaroo court' (which they aren't using that term correctly), is with the agency that did the actual action. In this case that is Mylan. There is literally no other way to interpret 'runaway healthcare costs'. It comes from the people setting the price! Guess what? We routinely back politicians that work by the stance of privatizing the medical field and our social nets in the name of 'fiscal responsibility' and with the concept that companies do things right all the time. Every time we try to let medicaid or the government bid for lower prices we get an astro-turf fueled outrage machine telling us about death panels! (yes that last sentence was a partisan jab, hopefully the only one)

    The article then gets into an almost contradictory realm when applying this blame to the government and deflecting it from resting on Mylan. It claims one on hand this is a distraction act but then says that congress could very well be upset that Mylan abused its lobbying power to help shape legislation (2013 School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act). But then acts as if people like Grassley (who called for the hearing) and Bernie Sanders are the very same people responsible for the price increase. They aren't.

    Sure, the government has the power to reform healthcare and reign in costs through legislation. This was one of the biggest reasons I loved Bernie Sanders and am hoping that come election day we learn that Colorado will socialize its medicine to a degree. But not passing legislation is much different than causing the price increase.

    In fact it is the cynicism in which this article assumes insincerity of some of our congressmen that further cements an apathetic (or disenfranchised) approach to government involvement. If we can't use this case as a way of pointing out to our fellow citizens and our representatives that this incident is happening because companies are seeking profit at all social costs and that we want increased regulatory controls on medical services then just abandon all hope and get mad.

    I for one have a ton of faith the Bernie Sanders is authentic and honest. I am not so naive to suggest that some senators or congressmen are 'in bed with' or 'share blood with' Pharma. But sweeping generalizations are unproductive, and apathetic nihilism and negativity is hopeless and angering.

    I loved the article, it informed me that Bresh is related to Manchin and suggested that some congressmen might be trying to coverup that they were at best 'played' by Mylan or at worst 'complicit' with their plot. But its negativity and some of its conclusions seem jumped to hastily and I feel serve to keep its readers detached from a process that should be very hands on and ultimately hopeful (probably completely unintentionally!).

    P.S. I freaking hate Jason Chaffetz.


    • #3
      Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

      Jumped to hastily? This seems to me a pretty direct case of A->B causation where you get a really good ROI on your investment by simply directly bribing sorry, lobbying, Congress.

      Did you miss this part in the linked article?:

      Mylan spent about $4 million in 2012 and 2013 on lobbying for access to EpiPens generally and for legislation, including the 2013 School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, according to lobbying disclosure forms filed with the Office of the Clerk for the House of Representatives. Mylan also was the top corporate sponsor of a group called Food Allergy Research & Education that was the key lobbyist pushing for the bill encouraging schools to stock epinephrine auto-injectors, of which EpiPen is by far the leading product.
      Or is it actually beyond your ability (or willingness?) to comprehend that one or more people in Congress might actually be *gasp!* CORRUPT?! Say it ain't so! The outrage!

      At any rate, this is straight up legal plunder, per Bastiat (btw, has anyone here actually read The Law yet? just curious!). Why risk capital doing any actual productive work or service in the economy, when the returns from legal plunder are so good?

      And this is a perfect example of just about everything wrong with our Federal government today. Almost all the resulting problems in the economy can ultimately be traced back similarly. And that's what people mean when they say "the economy is rigged." It's pay to play at this point, and you and I (the vast majority of us, actually) ain't in the club!
      Last edited by Randy_Shughart_ClwFL; 08-24-2016, 05:42 PM.
      "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw


      • #4
        Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

        If my latter point:

        Originally posted by Randy_Shughart_ClwFL View Post
        Or is it actually beyond your ability (or willingness?) to comprehend that one or more people in Congress might actually be *gasp!* CORRUPT?! Say it ain't so! The outrage!
        is in fact true, then from my point of view, it would appear you may be a true believer in the mythology of the state! Don't feel bad, I suppose the vast majority of people are right there with you. But this is what we need to change. It is the only thing holding us back, and it is no more than a construct of your mind. A belief. Nothing more, and nothing less.

        "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw


        • #5
          Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

          This is what I mean Randy. This is exactly what I mean.


          • #6
            Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

            I was actually just thinking about this. You are right. I came here to apologize to you.

            The video I posted above is not really germane to this particular discussion. It's a good video, but not really applicable to the current discussion.

            Thinking about your words further, and the gist of your post, and your reaction to my posts (and sarcasm in general) makes me think that you are a kind hearted, gentle soul, that doesn't appreciate sarcasm / cynicism. Of course, I kind of do, and so many of the sources I post resonate with me because I certainly can have cynical tendencies at times, especially now, when I feel so frustrated. But you are not a cynic, you sound more hopeful, and so cynicism just makes you uncomfortable. And thus the substance of what I might be trying to convey might not be getting through as well as it potentially could.

            I remember reading that you should frame your arguments from the paradigm of the person you are talking to. For instance, if you know someone is conservative, frame it in terms of fiscal/personal responsibility, etc. If they are liberal, frame it in terms of social justice or whatever. It's the same as mirroring in sales. And so on a technical basis alone, as a (thus far) amateur propagandist, I have utterly failed. Believe it or not, I actually do much better on YouTube for Chrissakes, and the standards of discourse there are obviously much lower than here. I'm still trying to puzzle out why I do this. Familiarity breeding contempt perhaps? I dunno.

            But besides that, and more importantly, I have just been overbearing and boorish and completely disregarded your inputs to the conversation. This is just not acceptable behavior on a human, personal level. Furthermore, I really do believe in civil discourse, and I have also failed to maintain this standard for myself. And for that I apologize to you Ytman.

            I gotta run and do some things today, but I am going to get back to some of your hanging conversation threads and reply as soon as I get a chance. Thanks again for your patience and maintaining respectful tone in the meantime.
            "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw


            • #7
              Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

              First of all, some common ground.

              I am also absolutely disgusted by this profiteering. I would assume that most people are. When did medicine become such a good business model? Not profit, but profiteering. It's disgusting.

              Furthermore, I agree with you on the "death panels" thing, remember I am not a fan of the red team either. I don't think it's controversial to say that neither the red team nor the blue team have "our" interests at heart any more. Far too many of both "teams" pretty clearly serve the interests of a very small number of wealthy donors and some multinational corps, etc. I think this article happens to lambast some on "your" side, but I am by no means blind that it happens on both sides. So that is a very fair point, but it's not a point I am arguing, at all. You are arguing partisan politics, I am saying that neither the red nor blue team is on our side. In fact, the two "teams" are a large part of the problem itself. This is why we vote and nothing changes. And if we allow ourselves to fall into that trap, we are allowing this Left-Right-Left-Right march towards totalitarianism to continue. In fact, we are feeding into it, any time we instinctively and immediately defend "our team" and I suppose that's what I was trying to point out in the "tribe" video.

              Of course Mylan are the ones directly responsible for the price increase, as well as directly responsible for their lobbying of congressmen. But to ignore the role that some congresspeople have played in being implicit in this, is IMO naive.

              As I said in my last post, you seem like a pretty nice, kind, and hopeful guy, YT. These are all admirable qualities. But I would respectfully submit that just because you do not see evil, greed, etc. in others, or seem to be capable of practicing it yourself, does not mean that other people share your same values (politicians most of all).

              What sort of person seeks out public office? The type of person who wants power over other people. Unfortunately, this draws a disproportionate number of socio/psychopaths.

              "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw


              • #8
                Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

                Thanks Randy.

                When it comes to congressional abuse? Certainly I know it can happen and does, but I must always accept that it doesn't have to happen. That is the premise of 'there can still be good in this world'.

                In regards to this event I think Zero Hedge is 100% spot on in almost all categories. It's very obvious that Mylan acquired EpiPen with an eventual desire to raise its cost. It is also very obvious that Mylan lobbied congress in such a way that it became the legal sole provider to many local schools through legislation. Finally, it is clearly obvious that Mylan was full aware that all of those actions would ultimately be supplanted by existing legislation that prevents the government from bidding for lower prices in medical areas.

                Now, as much as Mylan is fully to blame for these machinations I too agree congress is to blame as well. Congress has been consistently unwilling to tackle runaway medical costs, something I believe Bernie Sanders was being very honest about when he was criticizing the 'system' and suggesting Medicaid for All. Congress also deserves blame for allowing lobbying forces to so disasterously harm American families. And finally I certainly can believe that some, or even many, congressional officials could have been aware of what Mylan was plotting and was okay with it.

                However, I just do not see enough evidence to claim that this ruckus, as brought to light by a Congresswoman writing to Jason Chaffezt, is a show or the fabled circus Zero Hedge suggests. It is literally a disagreement of an iota of a percent. On the whole, on the policy, I agree. I disagree with the nihilistic interpretation and hopelessness.

                I feel it will be a struggle to rework our government and laws to a better form but I must always hope that we can. It means that I will seek out any of my congressmen who allowed this legislation to be passed and demand they disavow it, apologize, and seek to immediately fix it. It will be a slow process but with enough outrage, something I know can be a unifying bipartisan point, it can be fast tracked.

                Now about statesmen being 'psychopaths' sure the job does do well for egolomaniacs with high self importance and low respect for others. This is why democracy is supposed to prevent us from electing those officials in the first place. The fact that we allow certain people in office puts some of the blame on us. But also, to a lesser extent, there will always be an argument that anyone passing a law is 'oppressing' others, because that is the literal definition of law. And, ultimately, the one rule of this reality is that doers do; this rule requires a proactive outlook and the ability to have some ego to argue your position and fight for what you believe in. In other words I don't want an introverted meekly senator representing me, sure humility is a virtue, but I want the person representing me to be a force of nature in their own right. Not so afraid to make mistakes that they do nothing, not so timid that they have no opinion.

                So, for me, it needs to be a case by case approach - because I'd rather some freedoms shared by all then everyone have all the freedom to do whatever they want against whoever they want.

                Edit: This Mylan episode is a great opportunity to motivate a multiprong grassroots movement against corporate lobbying and for medical reform. I will not accept defeat before it has even been allowed to play out.

                PS: From the horse's mouth. Not quite sure she explains anything about why there was an increase and goes on to back track. I'd like to keep her feet to the fire, and doubly so to congress.
                Last edited by Ytman; 08-25-2016, 06:24 PM.


                • #9
                  Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

                  Well, I came here initially to post this in the throwing down my tin foil gauntlet thread, but now after reading your post, I suppose that this is just as good of a place as any.

                  I disagree that the system can be changed / fixed in it's current state. From my point of view, I agree with Chris Hedges when he says a small number of people have seized all the levers of power of the government, and that the terms of the revolution are always dictated by the powers that be. And since the government is no longer responding rationally to the many problems and injustices that we face, we no longer have a functioning democracy. At that point, you must realize that the only thing that power understands is force.

                  To make this problem even worse, I fear that far too many people nowadays worship at the altars of the deities of consumerism, free market fundamentalism, and of course the biggest one of them all, the myth of American exceptionalism. These myths pervade our entire society, and thus our institutions. And I suppose this is ultimately the salient question. How many of us see what I am seeing, vs. how many people are completely blind to it?

                  Which reminds me to bring something up that I have been thinking about. Is anyone getting anything out of any of my posts here? Any thought being generated? Assumptions challenged? I mean other than YT, who has been kind enough to respond. :) Or do you guys just think I am crazy? Am I just wasting my time? I've just been curious that perhaps my efforts might be better spent elsewhere. OTOH, maybe there is a "silent majority" out there? But I have no way to gauge that, without feedback. I do see a lot of people viewing The Sandbox, so there's that...

                  Anyway, so, getting to the point. I just came across this video today, and I really think it stitches quite a lot of things together quite nicely. It looks to my eye to hold quite a lot of truth, although I'm sure it will rustle some jimmies, especially around here. :)

                  The guy prefaces the video by saying the following in the intro text under the video. Since you won't be able to read that in an embedded video, I will reproduce thee text here for your benefit:

                  I would never have imagined, let alone predicted that there would be revolution in America in my lifetime. Yet, I can imagine it for the first time and that's not reassuring at all.

                  What form it may eventually take, or how broadly it may spread, I can't say. But I do sense enough remaining rebellious spirit and angry people in this country that we will not go quietly into the night.

                  Assuming we do, how Americans finally stand up to this government is unforeseeable. But I'd hazard a guess that there's enough of us troubled enough to make history, and block the pass with 300 Spartans, even if we are unable to make a difference in the end.
                  "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw


                  • #10
                    Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

                    Really quickly, just because I want to pin this down, and mind you we really do agree on a lot of things, I do want to ask if you think that the video's claim that the founding fathers all unanimously worked towards entrenching an oppressive state separated by class, race, and wealth?

                    The reason I ask is because other times you defend the constitution and do make appeals to our national heritage, so I don't think you actually hold that belief the narrator suggests within the first 5 minutes.

                    And finally I think a lot of your tenor and style comes off less as discussion and conversation and more as preaching your vision. I'm not slighting you, I'm just saying that as you mentioned in another post, you need to orate differently when talking to those who you want to understand you but don't yet. Its a slow, plodding process that ultimately succeeds not on your merits but on their personal rational processes guided by your input.


                    • #11
                      Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

                      The truth is, I dunno, man! \_(ツ)_/

                      A lot of that video rings very true to me, as hard as it is to admit. But I suspect that very few people can take their star spangled glasses off for a moment and see the truth. This is our national identity we are talking about here. And many people's very own personal identities are highly intertwined with the national mythology (MURRRICA!!!!1111!!!), even if many parts of the narrative are demonstrably untrue if you are a student of unvarnished history. I think this video does a great job of pointing that out, and that's why I posted it.

                      I do think it's pretty true that basically, our country was founded by rich, white men. And the two assertions put forth in the video (a government to enshrine private property rights and suppress mass democracy) are also clearly, demonstrably true. This is why our form of government is actually a Republic, and NOT a Democracy, contrary to what many people may think. Private property (i.e., owned by corporations -- which is different than personal property) is also central to the debate of capitalism vs any form of collectivism, of course.

                      Before anyone starts hyperventilating at the mere mention of collectivism, please understand that I am talking about voluntarism and in no way am I advocating for any form of government coercion by force toward one system or another. If you understand that Publix (or a farmer co op) = socialism, in the strictest sense of the word (workers as shareholders) than this is what I am talking about. Not USSR style centralization at the barrel of a gun.

                      Now there is a flip side to the "founded by rich white men" discussion (namely, IQ and cultural differences between the races, and further, natural differences between men and women) that is in no way Politically Correct, and in fact you have to go to certain corners of the internet to even find any real discussion of that, seeing as how censored any such discussion has become. And so, I'm not sure I even want to open that can of worms. I will just state that to ignore reality (regardless of muh feels) is folly.

                      Anyway... I've laid this out in other post before, but here is the logic I've followed to get to "let's get back to the Constitution":

                      ->Our government is completely corrupt and no longer following the will of the people, nor responding rationally to seriously address any of the myriad of very serious issues we are facing as a nation
                      ->the system/structures themselves need to be changed
                      ->the only thing power understands is force
                      ->Therefore voting doesn't matter
                      ->be careful what you wish for, you could end up with something much worse (revolutions, historically speaking, end up in tyranny, could be much worse that what we have today, who knows)
                      ->Also, I think the system has gone beyond the point of no return (primarily monetarily) and it is going to collapse at some point anyway, violent revolution won't even be required, necessarily
                      ->So, what to replace it with? How to fix the system and make it better in the future? I think we need to start thinking about this NOW
                      ->Look into socialism, marxism, anarchism, each make some really compelling arguments but not convinced any of them would really work (although I'm not sure)
                      ->anarchism in particular is interesting to me, what do we need governments for anyway? let people do what they want, voluntary collectivism, non aggression principle, sounds good, although not sure of some edge cases
                      ->I also know that I am sort of a loner and most people are not like me, and at the risk of sounding obnoxious also smarter than the average bear, and so I find anarchism interesting, although it might be "a bridge too far" for a bunch of dumb/propagandized people who don't seem to be able to comprehend it fully
                      ->even if you do anarchism (no government) at some point some sociopath will try and consolidate power over other humans through force, many humans seem to have a need to follow someone anyway (1000s of years of tribal/familial affiliation/structure)
                      ->now we are back at some form of government, likely tyranny/dictatorship (something bad) is usually where this starts out
                      ->OK so what would be the minimum form of government needed? OK now we minarchist
                      ->this is pretty close to what "our American mythology" of the Constitution has been portrayed as being (ideals of liberty, natural rights, etc.) although that's not exactly what it actually is (which is in favor of aristocrats)
                      ->but a lot of Americans know and understand this mythology, it's a common idea we could unite behind, the aristocrats messed up by promoting this mythology, lol, now many actually believe in it
                      ->let's get back to the Constitution, except adjust it to actually be in favor of the things it has been purported to represent (natural rights of man) and while we are at it let's throw in some specific penalties for breaking it, which is something that is sorely lacking right now

                      But I claim no monopoly on the truth. I have come up with this based on my current level of understanding of the nature of man, and my study of history, society, psychology, governments, war, economics, etc. which, I feel pretty safe to wager is more than most, although I am sure there is much more that I could learn, and probably should.

                      And to the extent that we are now into sort of "unknown territory" in terms of being intellectually certain, I am proportionately less emotionally attached to my arguments, and willing to have more of the detached, polite sort of friendly parlor chat that I think you might have been looking for in the first place, YT. :D Like you said earlier, I am looking to refine my arguments, have someone else poke holes in my own wrong assumptions. For me it's all in the name of seeking the truth, which is all I have ever been after from the get go.
                      "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw


                      • #12
                        Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

                        At some point you get into the revolutionaries' paradox. If the current system is deeply flawed and unresolvable then the only logical conclusions are to flee or fight. The Revolutionaries fight to instill a new system. However, all systems are based on power structures, on resource allocation and distribution, and ultimately the fact that while we may all be equal and equivalent under law we are unique individuals with certain specific skill sets that make some more valuable/powerful than others.

                        So the Revolutionaries decide, normally by a minority of active practitioners supported by the silent fear or support of the majority, to wage war against the current regime and power system in order to replace it with their ideal regime and power system. Ultimately this means that the Revolutionaries, once successful, become that fabled TPTB.

                        No matter how perfect a system is there will be war, conflict, emigration, scarcity, illness, crime, etc. Basically the world, and the human condition, will continue to be less than perfect, maybe even worse off like the French Revolution. This means that eventually new Revolutionaries will become disillusioned and angry. The birth of the NeoRevolutionary will begin as the older system entrenches its flaws and this group will arise to fight the old Revolutionaries. Its the adage of, "The Young Eat the Old", on the scale of states, cultures, and society.

                        To me this is course of nature. But to me I've yet to witness a society that is evil and out to get me, one that is beyond hope of saving, one that is all encompassing and brings forth great images of battles of Absolute Good versus Absolute Evil. With that acceptance I approach a decidedly Eastern Philosophy; take the good with the bad and find inner harmony while working to a better future.

                        For me, and I'm being frank because I respect you, this vague talk about perhaps violent revolution and this belief that the nation is at least in some way evil is a bit . . . concerning. Surely I agree about revolutions being necessary, but for me that revolution is entrenched in constant action, and for me I learned a long time ago the only way to get things done is to DO. For me this means getting into that machinery and fixing it the best I can in the most pragmatic way I can, not burning down a forest to plant a sprout.

                        I am wary of American Libertarianism otherwise stated as the innocuous Voluntarism, an effective minarchist philosophy that boils down to everyone becoming their own state. We already have that on the large scale, that is called international relations and wars and conflict and terrible things arise because of that. States will always exist, they are fundamental to societal interaction. The only way a Stateless world can come to be is if no man has contact with another. That truth leads me to wants a State that blends seemlessly with its population. To be fair, my opinion is, improving what we've got today is our best bet!

                        I'm with Nietzsche here when I say that the best thing a human can ever do is impose arbitrary limits on itself. The scope of this planet and human intellect and pleasure, let alone the Universe, is far too massive and humbling to embrace fully. Any attempt to do so leads invariably to the realization of puny insignificance and total powerlessness to achieve everything. His effort to bring out the concept of Nihilism was mostly to get us past Nihilism which is a terrible burden on the human psyche.


                        • #13
                          Re: A current example of legal plunder, per Bastiat

                          I am paying attention and am not particularly angry.

                          Power corrupts. It's a sad realization to come to of course but all of us get there as we age I think. I'm 51. Spent most of my life as an idealist. Still am tbh but I've learned that some things just occur naturally and we can't do a damn thing about them. It's as old as the human story and nothing I do can or will change it. Call it defeatist, call it weak, call it whatever you want but I choose to spend my time, effort and energy enjoying my life, family and small things that mean incredibly much to me. I applaud your passion and rage Randy. I do. But in the latter half of life I am content finding joy when and where it presents itself regardless of the incredible inequities that abound in this life. Doesn't mean I'm happy about it or that I agree with it.
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