David Price has another challenger . . .

A Cary neurosurgeon-turned-software-entrepreneur-turned-closet-Libertarian-turned-Republican named William "BJ" Lawson is jumping into the 4th district race with a flurry of contradictions that would be baffling to any careful observer. In case you're not up to speed on the 4th district, Lawson will have to take out Orange County GOP Chairman Augustus Cho for the honor of getting his butt kicked by Congressman David Price.

From his own website:

My name is B.J. Lawson, and I am running for Congress as a Republican to restore a Constitutional federal government. Washington must balance its budget, stop serving corporate interests, and allow us to prosper as free, entrepreneurial Americans instead of dividing us into special interest groups that fight each other for government handouts.

As a freakin' Republican? Now I know why the guy still goes by the nickname "BJ" even though his name is William T. Lawson? What the heck has BJ been smoking? Stop serving corporate interests . . . as a Republican? Restore a constitutional federal government . . . as a Republican? But have no fear, BJ is a uniter, not a divider. That's why he's at odds with two-thirds of Americans who don't want to see abortion made illegal. You see, BJ is a "life begins at conception" kind of guy who wants to pull us all into his precious little tent.

There's more, but it's all just a bunch of free-market double-talk. Which raises the real question: Why isn't Lawson running as the Libertarian he really is/ Could it be because he knows a Libertarian can't win anything in North Carolina? You can find out more about the guy at his old blog, which, if nothing else, reveals Lawson's alignment with the lunatic fringe's hero-du-jour, Ron Paul.

The way I see it, BJ's chances of beating Cho are excellent. Republican primary voters will spring for anybody with a boatload of money. But the chances of a pro-life isolationist who wants to disband public education winning the hearts and minds of the 4th district seem pretty close to non-existent. He probably won't even carry Cary.

(And wait till you see his reading list.)




Hat tip to the Dome

Comments

Who is on first! What is on 2 nd! & I don't know is on Hammurabi

As a single document establishing the rule of law in a nation, uou could make the argument that the Code of Hammurabi wasn't too far from being a "constitutional-type document." *MTBinDurham

Yeah! But old Hammurabi just couldn't let those slaves go unless he had hard cash and a banking system to cash those gold rods....

For documents which establish a union of existing states or nations under a larger aegis, the "Great Law of Peace" of the aforementioned Iroquois Confederacy is probably the best direct progenitor.*MTBinDurham

You might know these people,,,nice folks and Green party members.....

http://www.longhousecoalition.org/

I'm with you...

Robert, to a point. You see, we all see the same problems:

"People already give every penny they can in taxes and charity, there are no more dollars, and if you don't agree with that then the whole house of cards falls apart." -> Yep.

"But, that is the whole point of the Paul plan - putting more people in need that charity can't meet." -> Nope. That's not the "Paul plan." Ron Paul has never suggested abruptly turning off the switch of government assistance. He, and I, believe we can fight poverty and downward mobility by freeing the people from the yoke of government service and restoring an honest monetary system.

Those changes are neither instantaneous nor absolute, and we need to tide dependent folks over during the transition to freedom. Where are we going to find a spare trillion dollars to tide people over, you ask? Try an irrational and counterproductive foreign policy.

You see, where we differ is how we choose to find a solution. Although I don't see a solution in your post -- you've described a problem that seems intractable unless you believe we can print more paper money to pay for more government benefits:

(Hint: the federal government can't help us any more. It's broke. Printing and borrowing more paper money for more benefits just makes the problem worse.)

As a "frickin' person", I've forced myself to address the cognitive dissonance that results from having unlimited wants, but limited means. That's always the question, isn't it? For me, the root of these issues you describe is the selfishness that results from an inflationary money supply. Yes, that's right. The basis of our economy, the paper
money that is a useful medium of exchange but a horrendous store of value:

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
Fractional Reserve Banking (with hilarious video)

Would you feel generous and eager to help your fellow citizens if you were working 60 hours per week, just keeping up with the kids' bills, not saving for retirement, paying 35% of your income to the government, and... being paid in a currency that loses its purchasing power for basics like food at 10% per year? (Yes, I said 10%. Check your grocery bill.)

Maybe *you'd* still be generous, but many Americans are hoarding like misers, and just struggling to keep up, let alone get ahead. In an honest monetary system, you could work half your life, live on half your income, and retire. Today, you have to "beat inflation", and pay the financial services industry for the privilege of putting YOUR money at risk in volatile markets driven by speculators who are themselves trying to stay ahead of our depreciating currency. Not a great recipe for generosity and charity.

Oh, and if you want to talk about healthcare... I've been both a physician and a patient and am deeply concerned about that industry as well.

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Ron Paul would KEEP Medicare and Social Security

Ron Paul has not said that he would get rid of Medicare and Social Security, and in fact he's one of the few if not the only candidate who knows how he would pay for them: bring the troops home NOW and close some of the bases we have in 130 countries.

The Democrats, as far as I know, have said that they won't get the troops out before 2013 and haven't come up with good ideas for keeping Medicare or Social Security solvent.

"People already give every penny they can in taxes and charity, there are no more dollars, and if you don't agree with that then the whole house of cards falls apart"

That's why we should get rid of the income tax-- people could give more to charity and less to taxes and government waste.

Before you criticize a candidate, you have to understand their viewpoints. You clearly haven't read up on Ron Paul's actual political positions.

There isn't enough money to do what you say.

Individuals trying to do certain functions of the government will always fail.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

What about the Red Cross?

The Red Cross responds to all disasters except huge ones, and in the case of Hurricane Katrina, they did a MUCH better job providing for the victims than the FEMA did.

Hmm, let me think of some other organizations... Consumer Reports? Wouldn't an FDA-like consumer organization like Consumer Reports be more readily accepted than the bought-off-by-Big-Pharma FDA? I'd certainly trust an organization run by Ralph Nader which showed exactly how they conducted the tests and studies better than the FDA and the drugs (FenPhen, Vioxx) it tells me are safe.

How about airport security? If I recall correctly, in the last tests conducted of airport security a few months ago, the TSA (government-employed) workers failed 80% of fake bomb checks, but the privately employed security checkers in San Francisco got something like 100% right. It seems that private companies are better at checking for bombs. Perhaps they give better training, and perhaps their workers are more accountable and can be fired if they do badly.

What do you mean when you say "money", Robert?

If you mean pieces of paper with fancy printing... well, Alan Greenspan said it best. To paraphrase, "We can guarantee that the money will be there for Social Security. We cannot guarantee what that money will buy."

Until you answer the question, "What is money?", we cannot have a discussion about public versus private funding/provision of social services that is rooted in reality.

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Mr. Lawson, what is your

Mr. Lawson, what is your solution?

On your website you mention "gold and silver" as the solution. Can you go into depth, either here or on your website, about how you would implement that solution, specifically?

Would the government issue gold/silver certificates?

Would private bank-based currencies compete?

Sure, Jeremy.

Start by visiting the Issues page, and read the topic Monetary Reform. There are numerous postings with supporting references behind the summary on the Issues page. Of course, Ron Paul himself has also written extensively on the subject, and his writings are indexed at ronpaullibrary.org. My "platform" is no different than his -- just open up the monetary system from the current Federal Reserve monopoly to free-market competition.

To your specific questions, the government absolutely could, and should based upon the Constitution, issue gold and silver certificates. Private mint or bank-based certificates/coins would also be completely acceptable. We generally think "free markets" are a good thing for most commodities, and money as a medium of exchange and (hopefully) store of value is just another commodity.

The federal government can, and should, coin (real) money and issue certificates, but free people should be able to agree upon whatever medium of exchange they desire. If you want to trade a local Carrboro scrip "currency", hey, that's cool. But no one should be able to FORCE you, under penalty of law, to accept paper money. But that's what our (unconstitutional) "legal tender" laws do: "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private."

Here are some highlights from the blog:
http://blog.lawsonforcongress.com/2007/08/29/what-cnn-doesnt-understand-fractional-reserve-banking/
http://blog.lawsonforcongress.com/2007/08/19/ron-paulites-discuss-sound-money-at-redstatecom/
http://blog.lawsonforcongress.com/2007/10/25/got-problems-just-call-1-800-621-fema/

The second post is long, but comprehensive. I was writing under the handle "bhday" at that time.
The third post has an excellent Google video at the end that explains the history of our monetary system.

If you're looking for a great book that summarizes the problem and potential solutions, check out Murray Rothbard's "What Has the Government Done With Our Money", available through Mises.org.

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

The federal government can,

The federal government can, and should, coin (real) money and issue certificates, but free people should be able to agree upon whatever medium of exchange they desire. If you want to trade a local Carrboro scrip "currency", hey, that's cool

Honest question, can't you do that already? There is a NC-wide local currency called the NC Plenty. I don't think it's accepted very many places, but it's there. They peg it to the dollar for tax purposes, but want its value to float according to the market.

But no one should be able to FORCE you, under penalty of law, to accept paper money.

Recently, Apple made the news for requiring that iPhones be purchased by credit card. I'm not sure how that fared legally, but, a major corporation did do it.

To your specific questions, the government absolutely could, and should based upon the Constitution, issue gold and silver certificates.

That's all well and good. Would you ban fractional reserve lending? (To prevent a risk of a run) Would you provide methods for convertability of private stores of gold/silver to dollars? Most importantly, how would you transfer us from the current system of "fiat money" to a bimetallic standard?

I won't argue the Constitutionality of the Fed with you, but I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that it is unconstitutional.

You can, but not to any meaningful extent

Honest question, can't you do that already? There is a NC-wide local currency called the NC Plenty. I don't think it's accepted very many places, but it's there. They peg it to the dollar for tax purposes, but want its value to float according to the market.

Free-market alternatives generally get shut down once they achieve scale or notoriety. And you can't use these alternatives within an honest banking system, so they tend not to scale very well.

Recently, Apple made the news for requiring that iPhones be purchased by credit card. I'm not sure how that fared legally, but, a major corporation did do it.

Apple is the seller. The seller should be able to say what currency/currencies s/he will accept. You should not be able to force Apple to take a currency Apple does not want to take. If Apple loses customers as a result, that's their choice. I love my Mac, but I'm in no hurry to get an iPhone.

Would you ban fractional reserve lending? (To prevent a risk of a run) Would you provide methods for convertability of private stores of gold/silver to dollars? Most importantly, how would you transfer us from the current system of "fiat money" to a bimetallic standard?

You're ready to read this post. It answers those questions. There's no need to fix a "bimetallic standard". We just need a free market for money.

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Free-market alternatives

Free-market alternatives generally get shut down once they achieve scale or notoriety.

Generally? That's one example, and an extreme one. The "Liberty Mint" was minting coins that purported to be dollars to be used in commerce. It was pretty clearly in violation of US Code regarding counterfeiting. (I forget the chapter and verse of the part of US Code they violated...)

Something like NC Plenty, which doesn't purport to be dollars and doesn't use actually coins, but certificates would be legal. The Liberty Mint got in trouble for coins, not just any store of value.

Apple is the seller. The seller should be able to say what currency/currencies s/he will accept. You should not be able to force Apple to take a currency Apple does not want to take. If Apple loses customers as a result, that's their choice.

They did, and AFAIK, didn't get in any legal trouble. They may have lost a few customers, but, as you say, that's their business.

You're ready to read this post. It answers those questions. There's no need to fix a "bimetallic standard". We just need a free market for money.

I don't understand how we don't have a free market for money. As the Apple example above shows, sellers don't HAVE to take dollars. Private currencies exist, but don't do so well. Wny? Because competing currencies just doesn't make sense. It's far too complicated for a business to have to keep track of prices in Wachovias, BoAs, Dollars, and Plenties. This kind of "competition" doesn't lead to anything but inefficiency.

Just like it doesn't make sense to have multiple, competing landline telephone providers in a given area due to the grossly increased costs of physical infrastructure and the need for interoperability between consumers' telephones, it doesn't make sense to have multiple, competing currencies, because either,

1.) Merchants would have to be prepared to take multiple currencies, which would entail keeping track of exchange rates and changing them based on that business' demand for items sold in other currencies. This would spell the doom of vending machines, which wouldn't be able to take 5 different currencies. Or,

2.) The enrichment of exchange businesses. If one currency is eminent in Durham, an exchange merchant on the outskirts of Durham would make a killing converting funds between the Durham currency and the Chapel Hill currency, at the expense of both Durhamites and Chapel Hillians.

We don't have a free market for money

because of legal tender laws and capital gains/sales taxes on gold and silver (to start).

The "Liberty Mint" was minting coins that purported to be dollars to be used in commerce. It was pretty clearly in violation of US Code regarding counterfeiting.

There's nothing wrong with "Liberty Dollars". They are, just like Plenties, a voluntary barter currency that happens to be an ounce (or fractional ounce) of silver instead of an intrinsically-worthless piece of paper. Again, they're just silver. Nothing more, nothing less. What's a "dollar" anyway? Does the U.S. Treasury have a registered trademark on "dollar"?

It's far too complicated for a business to have to keep track of prices in Wachovias, BoAs, Dollars, and Plenties. This kind of "competition" doesn't lead to anything but inefficiency.

Without legal tender laws, the only currencies that would matter outside of a barter community willing to trade paper would be those entirely backed by a commodity like gold or silver. Since such notes would be receipts backed by a commodity, they would be identical to the extent you trusted the issuing institution.

The point isn't having a bunch of different currencies -- such a situation would not occur due to the reasons you note. The point is having tax-free access to equivalent commodity based currencies that would be welcomed by your bank. That is NOT the case today -- I cannot deposit silver in my local bank (other than in a safe deposit box), and if I convert my silver to dollars to be deposited, those dollars then get multiplied by ten (assuming a 10% "reserve ratio") in circulation through fractional reserve lending. The resulting inflation is a bad deal for me, and my grandmother on fixed income.

OK, that's all. Enjoy the reading, and I'm happy to talk more in person.

BJ

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Buy low and Sell high!

On your website you mention "gold and silver" as the solution. Can you go into depth, either here or on your website, about how you would implement that solution, specifically?*Jeremy Merrill

Jeremy! As the former owner and CEO of the 4 th largest precious metals refining and trading corporation on the planet for 30 years with over 5000 employees and major plants, offices world wide, I can assure you on how the Gold and Silver market works as a expert.

1. The market is a monopoly and the price is rigged or fix each day.

2. Over 70% of the Gold is owned by central banks of the world

3. In a international crisis the only value of trade for escaping the crisis is gold as the item of trust

4. Most of the Gold that has been found or mine over the centuries is at it's highest levels for use. In short, the planet has exhausted it's Gold resources for cheap production. Over 80% of Gold production comes from recycled gold,,,ie jewelry....computer scape, and other recycled gold products in the space industry and aviation, medical industry, industrial and commerial appliances.....

Would the government issue gold/silver certificates?*Jeremy Merrill

Governments already do that though private bonds to central banks of all nations.

Would private bank-based currencies compete?*Jeremy Merrill

They already do! It is called certificate of deposit from one central bank to another central bank on overnight interest account funds. Large Corporations have separate overnight trading departments that buy and sell the cash flow or their bank deposits for that day though Government issue T-Bills.

The only problem is that it is a close club and not open to the masses......

No. No they wouldn't.

That's why we should get rid of the income tax-- people could give more to charity and less to taxes and government waste.

I'm sorry. I don't think they would. And I don't think the infrastructure is in place - if you remove governmental infrastructure - to serve the enormous need. People where I live make enough money to alleviate a lot of suffering right now, but they don't. They could, but they don't. They'd rather have the 2nd Mercedes, the House on Pinehurst Number 2, and the best of everything. People who have a lot of money are often very wasteful, very selfish. The people who give are the people who can't afford it. They give up their Friday night movie, and give. To a candidate, or to a coalition for the homeless.

Have you seen the need? I don't know you, but I assume from your signature line that you're fairly young and still in school. Have you worked in any social service agency, governmental or not-for-profit and truly seen the need that's out there, right under our noses?


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Good morning, Paige.

Sorry I didn't get to your comments last night, but thank you for taking time to write.

You bring up some interesting questions about the nature of our two-party system and the role of debating issues vs. debating personal ideology, style, etc. I won't go into them all except to say this: given the world (two party) we live in, debates about issues don't matter in the general election. What matters, sadly, is whether a person has a D or and R behind their name.

BJ rightfully points out the miserable ratings for Congress these days. I attribute those ratings to Republican obstructionism. We now have a Senate where it takes 60 votes to pass anything. The answer is not more Republicans, but instead, the answer is a filibuster-proof majority. I know your guy's not running for the Senate, but the dynamic is similar in the house. The Blue Dog Democrats have sided often enough with the Bush Republicans to stymie any progress on any front . . . and BJ would be part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Final point regarding abortion rights, you wrote:

¨Since the issue itself is so contentious, it doesn't make any sense for the Supreme Court to issue a blanket ruling legalizing all abortions.¨ Disagree with this view, if you´d like, even though I´m working for his campaign, I am not fully pro-life. (From a libertarian perspective, I just can´t accept the idea that government would force women to put their lives at risk to give birth in situations where this could be the case) But that just goes to show who BJ Is: someone who can disagree with you without being disagreeable.

It's hard for me to imagine the litmus test for public policy being whether something is "contentious." That standard does not engender much confidence in my mind that Mr. Lawson would be willing to tackle a host of other "contentious" issues facing our nation. In fact, that standard seems absurd on its face. More to the point, Mr. Lawson is either a man of his convictions or not. If he believes abortion should not be legal, he should fight to have it made illegal rather than resort to the current pro-life political strategy of pushing the debate to the states.

In any case, welcome again to BlueNC. Our volatile mixture of satire, sarcasm, seriousness and silliness is not a good fit for everyone, but if you're willing to stick around, you'll find plenty of substantive discussion woven throughout.

Republican obstructionism?

The bad ratings for the Democratic Congress have nothing to do with Republican obstructionism and everything to do with Iraq, in the same way that GW's negative ratings (higher than the Democratic Congress, by the way!) are mostly about Iraq.

The Democrats said that they would get us out of Iraq and they simply have not delivered.

They haven't been able to deliver.

Bush has vetoed every bill that would have moved us closer to being out of Iraq, and there is not a veto-proof majority in either chamber. The Democratic congress was able to finally raise the minimum wage, along with a number of other things, but the - yes, obstructionist Republicans - have prevented the end of the war in Iraq by enabling our President to continue his fantasy that he is making progress and that he is "winning".

In January of last year, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid inherited an incredible problem. The country was - and is - fed up with the Republicans and their war. But they don't have enough votes to override the President. And he will never sign a bill that will end the war. Ever. Anyone with an ounce of sense knowns that.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

wow

im way too tired to follow all of this.

But new names and new users could be a good thing. I hope everyone sticks around.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

My thoughts exactly, Blue South

Welcome, new folks.

when it's not late, and I'm not bone-tired, I will read these posts and give them the thought they deserve. For the time being, let me say that I probably won't agree with everything you say, but I'm glad to see you here - and glad for the discussion.

Keep it going!


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I try to stay out of other

I try to stay out of other district races because I always get horribly confused and then need to sit down and try to sift through all the sheer BS and figure out what the core issues are.

I've looked at Augustus Cho's website actually. I find it incredibly sad when my son (an avid geek and the only reason I'm able to access the internet at all) laughs at his website. Lawson gives me this feeling of some sort of sleazy criminal-defense-attorney-meets-CEO... but then again, most Republicans do that to me anyway.

What??

I'm amazed at your categorization. What would give you that impression? Perhaps the picture of him with his smiling wife and three children?

Wow.... y'all have been busy.

Just a few comments:
Thoreau, I appreciate your characterization of a "sleazy criminal-defense-attorney-meets-CEO." That's quite insightful for never having met me. Perhaps I might change your impression over a cup of coffee, but in any case, I'm curious what gave you that impression.

Anglico, regarding your comment: "It's hard for me to imagine the litmus test for public policy being whether something is "contentious." That standard does not engender much confidence in my mind that Mr. Lawson would be willing to tackle a host of other "contentious" issues facing our nation."

Here's the deal -- I believe I'm stepping right into *the* most contentious issue facing our nation, and one that's been the most contentious since it's birth: What's the appropriate role of the federal government? In the beginning, it was the Jeffersonians (small federal government, state autonomy, self-governance) versus the Hamiltonians (strong federal government, central bank, elitist "landed gentry"). I'm clearly a Jeffersonian.

Some of your commenters seem to reject the "states rights" perspective, perhaps based upon a healthy concern for the states' ability to injure their own citizens as shown by the horrors of slavery. These folks feel comforted that the heavy hand of Washington can smack down unruly states. It's always a question of balance, and this discussion is EXACTLY where we should be engaged. My concern is that over the past ~100 years our national pendulum has traveled WAY too far in the direction of a totalitarian, all-powerful federal government.

People who want a "bigger but better" federal government will certainly get a bigger federal government, but it will *not* get any better. Just go to opensecrets.org or start reading appropriations bills, and you'll realize that the federal government is bought and paid for by corporate and special interests. That means *both* parties. In fact, as a party, the Republicans can't rub two nickels together this year since the corporate money is anticipating Democratic dominance. If you're a "party person", you might be excited to hear that, but if you take a longer view, it's a Pyrrhic victory. The money goes where the power is, and the money gets what it wants as successive pounds of flesh out of the American people.

The reason I'm running for Congress is that I'm willing to follow my oath of office. Here's one of my favorite quotes, by Thomas Jefferson: ""On every question of construction let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning can be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one which was passed."

My point is that many of the "contentious issues" being debated and regulated to the delight of corporate and special interest lobbyists are issues over which the federal government has no Constitutional jurisdiction. In my reading of history, government works best when it's local, and most responsive to the needs of the people. That way *you* can get involved, build the safety net that reflects the local resources, talents, and priorities of your community, and lead by example. We shouldn't HAVE to go to Washington to make a difference, but right now, the way to get things done is to belly up to the trough, grovel, beg, and down a few martinis with folks who can push your appropriations and amendments forward.

I have far more respect for panhandlers on the side of the road who will look you in the eye and ask for money. At least they have the courage to ask YOU for YOUR money. Lobbyists, on the other hand, go begging and ask legislators to spend someone else's money, and debase the currency for spending far in excess of tax receipts. Where's the honor in that?

Some additional food for thought:

http://blog.lawsonforcongress.com/2007/08/23/ron-paul-and-the-tenth-amendment/
http://blog.lawsonforcongress.com/2007/08/26/ron-paul-by-the-numbers/

Can we do this in person at some point? I'm a pretty slow typist... ;-)

BJ

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

In person would be good

but in the meantime, you go to war with the blog you have , , , or something like that.

Thanks for writing. You're obviously a smart guy and I personally appreciate zeal in almost any form.

When I read your website, I find some interesting ideas, but there are two drop-dead deal killers. Your views on health care and "life-begins-at-conception." On health care, you reject a role government should have and on "life" you create a role it should not.

___________________

To change the subject only slightly, why should corporations have any rights?

Health care

I don't know that I can convince you of my healthcare position in a comment, a cup of coffee would be a lot more realistic. I'm assuming you've read:

http://blog.lawsonforcongress.com/category/healthcare-freedom/

The bottom line is I reject the assertion that government should have a role in healthcare. By providing healthcare as a "right", people are completely divorced from the consequences of their actions. Don't get me wrong, I'm a really compassionate guy. But so many of our "health problems" today are out of the reach of simple medical "solutions". We have a healthcare system that maximizes corporate profits based upon treating the symptoms of sick people. Diabetes is a great business. We need more, more, more benefits to treat diabetes, right? It's the new epidemic! Oh, and childhood obesity! Heart disease! Cancer! Every disease has a lobby, every disease has an industry.

What would happen if there was no government in healthcare, and all sorts of traditional, holistic, nutritional, and other lifestyle consultants were available to compete for your attention and (non-taxed) healthcare dollars? Do you think you might take more responsibility for healthy living? Fewer refined carbohydrates? More exercise? Less red meat? More fruits and vegetables?

Frankly, food and drink are the most important drugs -- it's what's going into your body all day long. Medical training was amazing, because I learned how much money I could spend treating symptoms while completely ignoring the habits the facilitate the slow decline into chronic disease. That's not healthcare, that's corporatecare designed for the profit margins of the firms that supply the drugs and accessories fashionable in chronic disease: Check out my new glucometer! Got it free from a TV ad! Dunno, I think Medicare paid for it. Hey, gimme a Coke!

Sorry if a sound a bit cynical, and clearly medicine should be available to everyone who needs it -- which is why *real* insurance is so important. But *real* insurance is NOT "all you can eat" corporatecare for a $15 copay. It's paying a premium for real coverage that will save your bacon if a rare and unfortunate event occurs. That's what we need - affordable REAL insurance with an honest healthcare system that encourages people to get, and stay, as healthy as their genetic profile allows.

But you can't legislate healthy behavior. That's up to the individual. There's a great book called Leadership on the Line by Ronald Heifetz that talks about the difference between "technical" and "adaptive" solutions. People tend to be lazy, and want quick-fix "technical" solutions -- doc, gimme the drug to fix the problem. They don't *want* to hear that they need to look in the mirror, eat better food, and get more exercise. That's the "adaptive" solution.

We need a healthcare system that encourages adaptive solutions, and we need to encourage and inspire each other as free individuals.

Bottom line is that we can try to print enough money to provide government-rationed "healthcare" for all... I've just been in the industry long enough to know that we're already 2/3 of the way towards that endpoint, and we're not happy with the results. (The gvt already pays for 2/3 all healthcare expenditures between Medicare/Medicaid/VA/DOD.) Why do we think it will be better with MORE government?

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Contradictions

You want a government out of health care but you want to give tax breaks for health care spending and you want to get rid of the tax code that tax breaks depend on. You want a "Fair Tax" which would include 30% tax on services including health care. You are full of contradictions.

We need to take what we can get.

The Fair Tax is good in that it stops taxing income, and productivity. The IRS is an invasive agency that cripples our economy and turns ordinary Americans into unindicted criminals. But as I said in my blog post:

http://blog.lawsonforcongress.com/2007/12/01/fair-tax-great-start/

... the Fair Tax is not a panacea, and even with a 30% sales tax, we're still not covering the cost of all of our government's spending. That's where folks need to wake up -- what's worse? Paying 30% of your income in taxes, with an impossibly complex tax code? Or paying a 30% sales tax? In both cases, we can't afford the government we've bought, and we're borrowing from China, Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia to make up the difference. So spending is the problem:

But if we don't get a Fair Tax immediately, it makes NO sense to place arbitrary dollar limits on the tax-free savings for Healthcare Savings Accounts. The wealthy can drive change in the healthcare system immediately if they start "self insuring", saving larger amounts of money, and demanding services at cash prices from providers. Once real, paying customers show up at the doctor or hospital and say, "I'm paying cash, what will it cost?" the system will move in a better direction. While those who can afford to save will first drive the change, the changes will benefit EVERYONE.

The best "tax break" is to completely remove the counterproductive tax system. But until we get there, we can also advocate for incremental change in the right direction.

(But did I mention that SPENDING is the problem?)
http://blog.lawsonforcongress.com/2007/08/26/ron-paul-by-the-numbers/

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Mr. Lawson, you at least get

Mr. Lawson, you at least get brownie points for calling the FairTax a 30% sales tax, rather than the intellectually-dishonest 23% inclusive claim that Huckabee has been making.

However, significant analysis has been done regarding the FairTax, and I don't like it. As the proposal would lighten the tax burden on the rich (isn't that the point) and still have no taxes on the poor, while being revenue neutral, the FairTax would significantly increase the burden on middle-class families. http://www.factcheck.org/taxes/unspinning_the_fairtax.html

One main reason the government needs to be in the healthcare business is for the children. Children don't have the resources to save in their own Healthcare Savings Accounts, of course. If their parent's don't say for themselves, the parents suffer for their own foolishness, but if they don't save for their kids, the kids are screwed. We can't depend on charity, because it is not going to be there, all the time. Someone must provide healthcare to kids, and it must be the government.

That healthcare coverage must cover not only emergencies, but regular medical/dental appointments, etc, so America can grow up healthy.

OK, getting closer

Jeremy, I agree it's up to us to look out for each other. When I say "government shouldn't have a role in healthcare", I meant to explicitly say "federal government." You start getting into treacherous water when you define what services should be included, though. Let's watch Jeremy ration our children's health care! Oh, and how much will "etc." cost?

Seriously, though, we can, and should, implement safety nets that meet the needs of our citizens (including children) at the state and local level. That's why I don't consider myself a Libertarian -- I'm in favor of good government that meets the needs of its people at the most local level possible, and appropriate. But the federal government is a dangerous beast when providing such services, since it has the unique ability to "monetize debt", debase the currency, and destroy the value of your earnings and savings. That removes all discipline from spending and creates the economic chaos we're all enjoying right now. Watch the amazing, disappearing, American middle class!

Regarding the FairTax, yes, a 30% sales tax would be painful, would likely encourage black market activity. But it puts the ludicrous cost of government out there for all to see. Again, the spending is the problem. Here's some food for thought that you won't see on the evening news.

I personally think a national 30% sales tax would spark a tax rebellion, as it should. But if we could roll back spending and change our foreign policy, we could fund our government the way we did before 1913 -- uniform (non-protectionist) tarrifs and excise taxes -- which could correlate to a national sales tax of, say, 10%. Would that be too high? It's still high, but certainly better than 30%, or the IRS.

If we tax our spending instead of our income, maybe we would earn more, save more, and spend less. Would that be a bad thing? Kind of like putting the tapped-out American consumer on a diet. If we don't do it ourselves, China will do it for us.

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

What do you cut?

You seem to favor something approaching a 60% cut in federal spending. What programs do you plan on cutting? Specifically, what parts of the military, federal regulatory structure, US DOT, postal service, or other government agencies would you gut or eliminate?

I happened to flip on ABC News tonight, and they proudly claimed that after a thorough and extensive perusal of the federal budget, they had found $2.3 billion in pork. That amounts to less than $10 per person in annual taxes, and, what, a week of the Iraq war?

First, we could get it down to year 2000 levels

If spending could be cut to the spending levels of the year 2000, the government would be cut by 30%. That would be a great start. Then, let's take a look at all the wasteful spending and I'm sure we could find much more than that.

Where do you get the 60% figure, by the way?

Shall we kill off people to reach 2000 population levels?

Not sure how we'd reach 2000 inflation levels. Maybe burning cash.

B.J. correctly surmises that it would take a national 30% sales tax to replace current government funding. He then advocates for a 10% level. That's a 66% cut. I was spotting him 6% on good faith.

Why would we have to kill people?

I'm not sure what you're implying when you say that. What is your argument? Is the government providing something today that they did not provide (and thus was killing people) only seven years ago?

What about the war in Iraq? How many trillions is that costing us? We didn't have that expense, and contrary to your argument, that's killing a lot of people. The British Medical Journal published an estimate of more than 600,000 total civilians killed as of last year.

So I'm not sure I get what your point is.

(By the way, in 2000 I believe we were still conducting sanctions on Iraq, which were also responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. We could get back to the 2000 budget and even save money by cutting out the bombing of Iraq that Clinton undertook.)

Do I have to explain everything?

The killing people was dark humor. The country has grown, in work force, in population, in every way, since 2000. Restoring the budget to 2000 levels would be necessarily a per capita decrease in budgetary spending. Additionally, 2000 was only 30% lower spending if you don't account for inflation.

Yes, eliminating the Iraq war and its drain on the treasure would be a good thing -- I don't think you'll find a single argument against that here. But last I checked, that's still "only" $750 billion since it began, a five year period. That's not remotely 30% of the federal budget.

Oh, one more thing...

"If we tax our spending instead of our income, maybe we would earn more, save more, and spend less. Would that be a bad thing?"

I do have to point out the Paradox of Thrift here. Just exactly when we decide to save makes a big difference in whether it's a good thing or a bad thing.

Ah, yes. Keynes.

The paradox of thrift (or Paradox of Saving) is a paradox of economics propounded by John Maynard Keynes. The paradox states that if everyone saves more money during times of recession, then aggregate demand will fall and will in turn lower total savings in the population. One can argue that if everyone saves, then there is a decrease in consumption which leads to a fall in aggregate demand and thus leads to a fall in economic growth.

Keynes was a bright guy. But the problem with Keynes is that his intellectual perspective was limited to the perverse world of "managed", inflationary currencies with fractional reserve banking. When the underlying system is corrupt, the system's consequences will likewise be perverse.

But keep reading...

Non-Keynesian economists criticize this theory on two grounds. First, if demand slackens and prices fall, the resulting lower price will stimulate demand, which tends to limit the decline in demand. Second, and perhaps more important, "savings" represent loanable funds; an increase in the supply of loanable funds tends to lower interest rates and stimulate borrowing, so a decline in consumable goods with a short time horizon is offset by an increase in production in sectors with longer time horizons. For example, the demand for personal electronics might decline, but the demand for such things as real estate would be stimulated by favorable borrowing conditions.

What is described above is a self-regulating, stable system. Hint: our current monetary and banking system with a monopolistically-managed fiat currency and fractional reserve banking is neither self-regulating, nor stable.

But it is possible to move closer towards a self-regulating, stable system. If you want peace, work for justice (in the monetary system).

If you have the time, this post discusses the characteristics of such a system. Apologies in advance for quoting a discussion from "Redstate". This post was before Paul supporters were banned, and I found them to be particularly challenged with economics and human behavior. At the time, I was going by the handle "bhday".

If you'd rather read a book, an excellent introduction is "What Has the Government Done with our Money", by Murray Rothbard. You can find it through Mises.org.

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

self-regulating, stable systems

This notion gets thrown around an awful lot by free market types. Here's the problem:

The mathematical study of fields like complexity theory, stability theory, and chaos theory generally agree on a few things. When you have these self-correcting states, they are only truly fully self-correcting if they have a very small number of inputs, and the stability usually has a range. As the inputs get more complex, or said somewhat differently, as the orthogonality of the inputs increases, your realms of stability begin to decrease.

The critique of Keynes that you point out, which is admittedly partially true, is that saved funds are not lost but instead reintroduced as available credit. This is true, but an increase in available credit is not always an unmitigated good, and that depends largely on the state of the credit market, hence, an additional, largely orthogonal input. The danger is that as the complexity increases, the state of the system has a greater chance of escaping from realms of negative feedback, where the self regulating stability reigns, and into a state of positive feedback, which can result in runaway inflation, deflation, credit crunches, or other extremes which become a severe shock to the economy, risking systemic collapse.

This is, in a very tightly packed nutshell, what happend with the South American credit collapse of the late 1990s, as well as, in a much different package, the problem of Chinese manipulation of the currency markets. What is at issue in all cases is that none of these markets exist in any form of mind-independent or politically independent form. They are all created and monitored by political bodies. If something which resembles a "free market" truly exists, it does so by some imposition of political will. When the markets begin to operate in a mechanism that runs counter to the will of the enforcing political body, they will either be "interfered with" or they will collapse. Note that Argentina stabilized its economy greatly when it finally spat in the eye of the IMF, stopped floating its currency on the open market, established a currency board, and started bending the currency towards working for the country.

Three words

FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING

if you want a recipe for inherent instability, look no further.

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Seriously, though, we can,

Seriously, though, we can, and should, implement safety nets that meet the needs of our citizens (including children) at the state and local level.

Can you be more specific?

I would dismiss a Universal Healthcare plan on the local level as ineffectual. City and County governments don't have the infrastructure to implement social welfare projects simply by nature of their size. For example, Clay County, NC, has a population of less than 9000; there probably isn't anyone with the knowledge to run a healthcare plan for 9000 people in that county.

I'm asking you this as a potential constituent asking a potential representative, would you support a state-wide universal healthcare plan?

Let's watch Jeremy ration our children's health care! Oh, and how much will "etc." cost?

What if we don't ration healthcare at all? What if we, the people, can accept the costs of society's healthcare for what they are, and promise to pay those costs. Paying for everything will cost a certain amount regardless of who pays for it, "health savings accounts", private insurers or a single-payer government healthcare plan. Health savings accounts, as I've said above won't work, because some people won't save, or won't save enough to deal with a catastrophe, like a childhood cancer.

Private insurers, even if they cover everyone, would have significantly more problems than a government-run program. Private, for-profit, insurers spend money on advertising and massive bonuses for CEOs, something a government program wouldn't do. Private insurers, I've read, have overhead costs that account for 25% or more of total costs, while Medicare has only 2% overhead costs. If this could be expanded, the money freed by reducing overhead could cover everyone and give treatment to everyone who needs it. (Including people like Nataline Sarkisyen, that girl who died after being denied a kidney transplant by her families private insurance company)

If we, as a society, decide to make the sacrifice to pay for everyone's healthcare, we can do it.

But the federal government is a dangerous beast when providing such services, since it has the unique ability to "monetize debt", debase the currency, and destroy the value of your earnings and savings.

Then we just should be careful who we select as Treasury secretary and Fed chairman. If Bernanke does his job, as Greenspan did, he will keep the value of the currency fairly stable. This is no different than any other job of the Federal government. If we choose an inept President, the military might be used in ways that hurt America; if we choose an inept Fed chairman, monetary policy might be used in ways that hurt America.

If we tax our spending instead of our income, maybe we would earn more, save more, and spend less. Would that be a bad thing? Kind of like putting the tapped-out American consumer on a diet.

Kind of like putting the middle-class American on a diet. The rich and poor would pay less under the FairTax, while the middle-class would pay more. The middle class would actually earn less, save less and spend less.

A few questions

"If Bernanke does his job, as Greenspan did, he will keep the value of the currency fairly stable."

Haha. The currency may have been "stable," but Greenspan created such artificially low interest rates at the beckoning of Wall Street that he caused the current mortgage crisis.

You have good points about private insurers vs. the government, but then I ask you: why are the top 3 Democratic presidential contenders (Obama, Edwards, Clinton) exacerbating this problem with private insurance by subsidizing people to buy private insurance and in the case of Edwards/Clinton, requiring people to buy private insurance from these companies? Isn't that actually leading away from a single-payer health care program such as the one you seem to describe? When everyone has private insurance and insurance companies are prospering, it's going to be VERY difficult to get rid of the insurance companies.

Local governments could be bigger if the federal government were smaller. This has a number of advantages: it's easy to move somewhere else if you don't like a law, you can petition your local mayor if you want a change, and you can actually make a real difference in democracy. Your tax dollars would stay at home, locally.

You have good points about

You have good points about private insurers vs. the government, but then I ask you: why are the top 3 Democratic presidential contenders (Obama, Edwards, Clinton) exacerbating this problem with private insurance by subsidizing people to buy private insurance and in the case of Edwards/Clinton, requiring people to buy private insurance from these companies? Isn't that actually leading away from a single-payer health care program such as the one you seem to describe? When everyone has private insurance and insurance companies are prospering, it's going to be VERY difficult to get rid of the insurance companies.

That's why I don't like those three's healthcare plans.

However, if everyone had healthcare, I would hope that through some survival-of-the-fittest/invisible-hand machinations, the market would get more efficient, although I'm not convinced the healthcare companies wouldn't just divide up the market into their own monopolized sectors.

Unlimited Wants, Limited Means

What if we don't ration healthcare at all? What if we, the people, can accept the costs of society's healthcare for what they are, and promise to pay those costs. Paying for everything...

Whoa. With all due respect, I have to stop you there. Apply your logic to food. We need food, right?

What if we don't ration food at all? What if we, the people, can accept the costs of society's food for what they are, and promise to pay those costs. Paying for everything will cost a certain amount regardless of who pays for it, "food savings accounts", private insurers or a single-payer government food plan. Food savings accounts, as I've said above won't work, because some people won't save, or won't save enough to deal with a catastrophe, like a drought or famine.

Private insurers, even if they cover everyone, would have significantly more problems than a government-run program. Private, for-profit, insurers spend money on advertising and massive bonuses for CEOs, something a government program wouldn't do. Private insurers, I've read, have overhead costs that account for 25% or more of total costs, while FediFood has only 2% overhead costs. If this could be expanded, the money freed by reducing overhead could cover everyone and give food to everyone who needs it.

Do you see a problem here? Did we learn anything from the collapse of the USSR, and China's transitioning to a market economy?

Unlimited wants, limited means. Please, read one book for me: Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt.

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

I would argue that you just

I would argue that you just gave a false analogy. Healthcare is not a normal economic good. With food, wants are unlimited, of course, as with gold, televisions, etc. However, with healthcare, after a certain point the marginal utility is negative. That is, once I'm healthy, an additional appendectomy or kidney transplant will just be a waste of my time and a risk, with no benefit whatsoever.

Additionally, healthcare has some very cheap substitute goods - preventative care. If people realize that eating an orange rather than an oreo, and encouraging others to do the same, would reduce their taxes, people would act in a more healthy way.

How is healthcare not a normal economic good again?

That is, once I'm healthy, an additional appendectomy or kidney transplant will just be a waste of my time and a risk, with no benefit whatsoever.

Try this:

That is, once I've been through the buffet line at Golden Corral once, going through again will just be a waste of my time and a risk, with no benefit whatsoever.

There's negative marginal utility in food, as well. But people make the mistake of going through the line again, and again, and again.

If people realize that eating an orange rather than an oreo, and encouraging others to do the same, would reduce their taxes, people would act in a more healthy way.

Think about it -- what is a better incentive? The possibility that your "taxes would go down"? Or the likelihood that you would spend LESS of your OWN money out of your OWN pocket? And do you really think taxes would go down? We've been on a one-way trip of expanding government and rising tax burdens at every level for the past 100 years, and it is literally killing us.

Oh, and you can't have "an additional appendectomy" :-).

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

How is freedom not a normal economic good?

In to good old days, you could buy and sell people like shares in your company. Of course, it helped if they were black or red or brown, but still.

There are some things more important than whether you get to keep more of your hard-earned money. One of those things is whether the immigrant who dug the foundations for your fancy house has to suffer through the equivalent of medical bankruptcy when he injures his spine after slipping in the mud.

Yes, I agree.

Ugh. You want to talk about trading people? Look at the economic slavery we labor under today. Our mortgage and credit card payments are securitized and traded on global markets. Enjoy going to work so you can make that monthly payment, and if you make all your payments, your credit score goes up so you can enslave yourself further! How great is that?

But free people are generous people. "Pro bono" medical care in a free medical industry used to be the norm. Now we call it "self pay", and the corporate providers sic the collections agencies on the uninsured patients. Michael Moore did a great job documenting our system's problems with Sicko. I just disagree with his proposed solution. I don't trust big government any more than I trust big corporations -- at this point, there is no distinction between the two.

But your example is a perfect one -- the worker injured has suffered an unexpected and rare event. EVERYONE should have access to affordable health insurance. But again, I mean *real* insurance. You don't expect your car insurance to pay for oil changes, it's for bad accidents just like this.

If we had real health insurance, the worker (I'm assuming he's here legally, of course) would be just fine.

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Oh, and you can't have "an

Oh, and you can't have "an additional appendectomy" :-).

I know, that was the point. There would be absolutely no positive marginal utility to trying to remove your appendix again.

There's negative marginal utility in food, as well. But people make the mistake of going through the line again, and again, and again.

No, an additional steak/ice cream/roll has a positive marginal utility when you're eating it. Only afterwards does negative utility kick in. There is absolutely no positive utility for an additional appendectomy, or splinting your arm when it isn't broken, etc.

I have to qualify my statement above about society covering all medical costs. Obviously, certain elective procedures would still have to be paid for privately. However, for procedures that are "on the line" between medically-necessary and cosmetic and optional, there should be some sort of hearing system to defend why you would need that procedure. (For instance, about 10 years ago, my cousin had terrible acne. Cosmetic surgery was needed so his face wouldn't look like the surface of Mars. However, insurance didn't cover it because it was cosmetic, although it was needed for him to function normally in society. That's a kind of procedure that should be covered by Universal Health Care.

I'm glad to hear you have it all figured out.

Obviously, certain elective procedures would still have to be paid for privately.

What? You don't have it all figured out? What do you mean by "certain"???

However, for procedures that are "on the line" between medically-necessary and cosmetic and optional, there should be some sort of hearing system to defend why you would need that procedure. (For instance, about 10 years ago, my cousin had terrible acne. Cosmetic surgery was needed so his face wouldn't look like the surface of Mars. However, insurance didn't cover it because it was cosmetic, although it was needed for him to function normally in society. That's a kind of procedure that should be covered by Universal Health Care.

Oh, I see. A hearing system. So once the bureaucrat determines to allow the surgery (wait, isn't that rationing?) how much do you authorize paying the physician who performed that cosmetic surgery? How much is the hospital allowed to charge for the operating room time? How much is the equipment manufacturer allowed to charge for the scalpel? How much for the autoclave? Drapes? Sponges? What is a fair wage for the anesthetist, and scrub nurse?

When you get that all figured out, let me know and I'll go back to being a doctor again.

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

You are an amazingly trusting peson.

Then we just should be careful who we select as Treasury secretary and Fed chairman. If Bernanke does his job, as Greenspan did, he will keep the value of the currency fairly stable. This is no different than any other job of the Federal government. If we choose an inept President, the military might be used in ways that hurt America; if we choose an inept Fed chairman, monetary policy might be used in ways that hurt America.

Fairly STABLE??? Under Greenspan's tenure, our currency lost over 80% of it's purchasing power (from 1987 until 2007). You call that STABLE?

Do you like the idea of putting your life, livelihood, savings, and indeed the entire (inter)national economy in the hands of one person, or even one committee? Doesn't that sound odd, and a bit creepy?

Do you think the Treasury secretary has any real power? Try to read this with a straight face.

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Gold...?

First of all, your 80% figure seems like some funny number crunching. If $1.00 in 1987 buys $1.84 worth of stuff today, then that 1987 dollar lost 46% of its value. 1.84/1.00 = .54 of value retained, so 46% lost. If that 1987 dollar had lost 80% of its purchasing power, then $1 in 1987 would buy $5.00 worth of merchandise today.

Now, is gold stable?

In 1998, gold cost $288/oz, converted to 2007 dollars, $354. Today, gold costs $838/oz. If the dollar were based on gold, and the market went through a similar slump, our currency would would lose 58% of its purchasing power, over less than half the time it took for the current dollar to lose its value.

A dollar fixed to a certain purchasing power would be nice, but metals are not the way to do it.

Besides, gold is an entirely arbitrary store of value. If society decides it doesn't really care for shiny things anymore, gold will lose most or all of its value, as it isn't terribly useful to most of us.

A dollar that loses some of its value, predictably, every year, also serves as a spur towards investment. People realize that sticking money under the mattress or even in a low-yield savings account is throwing value away. Therefore, they invest in something with a rate of return greater than inflation, if possible.

A dollar that may gain or lose value, unpredictably, would cause an unstable economy simply by nature of its unpredictability. Why invest in new machinery if those dollars might be worth twice and a half as much in ten years?

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