Grassroot Perspective – March 7, 2003-The Bananas Split; Reforming Medicaid; Some Reflections on the Right to Bear Arms, Part 2

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– The Bananas Split

With a couple of 3-2 votes, the Federal Communications Commission has virtually guaranteed that the rules drawn up at the FCC’s birth in 1934 will still hold sway in 2034. Going into the debate over what became the 1996 Telecom Act, the only real question is whether the old telephone network would get deregulated fast enough to avoid ensnaring the Internet’s new, packet-switched network in a host of regulations and cross-subsidies. The answer to that question now appears to be no.

By kicking phone regulation down to the states, the FCC has given state bureaucrats a powerful incentive to keep the old system alive and dole out favors. A better idea would’ve been to keep it at the federal level and start disassembling it there. Now the states will immediately start defending the status quo they regulate against the new technologies they do not.

Further, the regulators — recognizing that the old circuit-switched network is inefficient and that the current subsidy system is doomed to run out of funding as high-end consumers move to escape it — have a powerful incentive to immediately find a way to impose access charges and Universal Service fees on new technologies such as the voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP), which uses the Net to make voice calls.

The proof that the packet-switched network will soon be bent to the needs of the old circuit-switched order can be found in a draft proposal of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Even if the exact language is changed, there can be no mistaking the state regulators’ intent: They want the Net to serve as the cash cow for further subsidies on the circuit-switched side. In its entirety, the language couldn’t be more incriminating if Hans Blix had found it in a pile of anthrax.

A few choice lines: Allowing VoIP to escape circuit-switched charges and fees “could reduce the base for collecting federal and state universal service revenues, increasing the pressure on the fund at the same time that it is growing substantially … [and] … access charges would no longer satisfy the principle of technological neutrality but would promote IP technology over other competing data formats.”

In other words, the whole edifice for regulating telecom would come tumbling down. The state would have no money to shower on politically pleasing projects, and the adoption of a single, universal, open protocol for handling traffic would remove the need for state futzing on that front as well. No wonder VoIP must be stopped.

Above article is quoted from Reason Express 2/25/03

– Reforming Medicaid
Authors: Michael Bond, John Goodman, Ronald Lindsey, and Richard Teske
Source: National Center for Policy Analysis, 2/03

“It is likely that many taxpayers are paying more in taxes to fund health insurance for the poor than they pay for themselves and their own families,” say John Goodman and co-authors in this paper outlining a pro-patient approach to Medicaid reform. This year Medicaid will cost almost $1,000 for each person in the United States. They recommend: 1) converting Medicaid into a defined-contribution system; 2) providing Medicaid enrollees with access to private health plans, including employer insurance; and 3) allowing the Medicaid benefit to be converted into private, portable insurance that can continue even after income levels exceed current Medicaid eligibility. Their key principles for reform are choice, competition, portability, patient empowerment, paying for results, and devolution of control to local communities.
Full text (pdf version):

Above article is quoted from The Galen Institute 2/21/03

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Some Reflections on the Right to Bear Arms, Part 2

By Richard M. Ebeling, November 2002

Many have been surprised by the lack of resistance by the European Jews who were killed by the millions in the Nazi concentration and death camps during the Second World War. For the most part, with a seemingly peculiar fatalism, they calmly went to their deaths with bullets to the back of the head or in gas chambers. Yet when some of the people were able to gain access to weapons, they did resist, even when they knew the end would be the same. The following is from historian John Toland’s biography of Adolf Hitler, in reference to the resistance of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943:

“Of the 380,000 Jews crowded into the Warsaw ghetto, all but 70,000 had been deported to the killing centers in an operation devoid of resistance. By this time, however, those left behind had come to the realization that deportation meant death. With this in mind, Jewish political parties within the ghetto finally resolved their differences and banded together to resist further shipments with force. … At three in the morning of April 9, 1943, more than 2,000 Waffen SS infantryman — accompanied by tanks, flame throwers and dynamite squads — invaded the ghetto, expecting an easy conquest, only to be met by determined fire from 1,500 fighters armed with weapons smuggled into the ghetto over a long period: several light machine guns, hand grenades, a hundred or so rifles and carbines, several hundred pistols and revolvers, and Molotov cocktails. Himmler had expected the action to take three days but by nightfall his forces had to withdraw. The one-sided battle continued day after day to the bewilderment of the SS commander, General J