It is truly rare that I see someone speak intelligently in the mainstream media.
Today's award -- and it really is deserved in this instance -- goes to Virginia Postrel.
Anyone -- a local teenager, a traveling businessman, a married mother of four, an illegal immigrant, even a student at a Jesuit university -- can walk into my neighborhood CVS any time, day or night, and, for less than $30, buy a 36-count “value pack” of Trojan condoms.
That’s enough to last most Americans at least three months, according to Kinsey Institute surveys. If you want more, you can buy out the store’s entire stock. There’s no limit, and you don’t need to see a doctor for permission and a prescription.
Contrary to widespread belief, there’s no good reason that oral contraceptives -- a far more effective form of birth control -- can’t be equally convenient.
True, making the pill available over the counter could reduce the amount of outrage and invective available for entertaining radio audiences, spurring political fundraising and otherwise amusing the American public. But the medical risks are quite low.
As I pointed out in my previous articles on this topic, the kerfluffle over this in the media, along with Rush Limbaugh's and others pontifications and faux outrage, precedes from a false premise -- that one has an insurable event when one engages in intentional, consensual conduct and thus has the right to charge off the expenses of that event on others, whether through government or private construct.
This premise is the antithesis of America, and is in fact directly out of Karl Marx's writings. It reaches beyond socialism well into the range of communism, where central planning by a government extends so far into your personal life that the government gets to tell you whether you can **** and what consequences you must bear on your own -- and what will be forcibly extracted from others -- if you do so.
The outrageous hypocrisy exposed by this debate has now literally ensnared both of the so-called "mainstream" political parties. Obama, along with Pelosi and her clan, have no problem at all with reaching into your bedroom, your kid's school and elsewhere. This has always been true, however, which makes the Catholic Church's bleating on this especially putrid, given their incandescent support of everything socialized when it comes to "general welfare", reaching all the way back to EMTALA in the 1980s. It was only when the snake they fed freely with the freedom of Americans turned and bared fangs that they complained. Of course this gives rise to one asking "What did you think that snake was going to do? It is, after all, a snake!"
On the Right we have Romney, who is at this point the presumptive Republican nominee. And as I pointed out last night, Romneycare includes "insurance coverage" for both contraception and elective abortion! Do I need to remind you that in Massachusetts Romneycare is mandatory, with a penalty for non-compliance, exactly as is Obamacare?
What Ms. Postrel hinted at but didn't quite reach was the perversity in the way "prescription" birth control is handled in the United States. Oral contraceptives are extremely cheap to produce and are one of the most-studied medicines of all time. There are risks, but remember that all things you consume come with risks. Aspirin is available over the counter in 100+ count bottles and yet while it is very useful in someone with particular disorders or medical conditions it can be extremely dangerous or even cause death. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a liver poison and can, in compromised individuals (or if overdosed) literally kill.
Yet both are sold over the counter.
So why aren't oral contraceptives?
Among other reasons there is a financial racket in operation here and you're probably unaware of it.
In Mexico and other nations where oral contraceptives are available freely, the monthly cost is as little as $3.00. That's right -- $3.00.
But most people's prescription copays are in the range of $10-30. That is, when you go in to have a prescription filled you pay somewhere between $10 and $30 no matter what the cost of the prescription is under a free market system.
The problem is that the insurance company actually makes money when you fill a prescription in which the co-pay is higher than the market cost!
Requiring a prescription “acts more as a barrier to access rather than providing medically necessary supervision,” argues Daniel Grossman of Ibis Reproductive Health, a research and advocacy group based in Massachusetts, in an article published in September in Expert Review of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Medically necessary supervision? Birth control, and indeed most prescription drugs, in most cases have no "medically necessary supervision" at all! There is an argument for medical oversight in a handful of cases, specifically antibiotics where overuse can (and does) produce drug-resistant strains of disease that are extremely difficult or impossible to treat, and since those diseases can be passed to others there is a legitimate argument for professional intervention.
But in virtually every case prescription drugs are prescription-only simply for one reason -- to enforce both monopoly pricing and force you to buy a service (in this case that of a doctor) which you may or may not want, even though the outcome of taking -- or not -- a particular drug is entirely and exclusively yours.
That is, the "sphere of influence" in terms of outcomes doesn't reach beyond you in virtually every case. If you have a heart medication and do or don't take it, the outcome (for good or bad) is entirely yours. Your decision to consume it or not never reaches another person. Likewise for nearly all other pharmaceutical products, from aspirin to birth control to beta blockers to blood thinners, protease inhibitors (e.g. HIV medication) and chemotherapy preparations.
Now should one obtain professional advice before choosing to ingest (or not) such a preparation? In many cases the answer is yes. But the premise that people are stupid is both insulting and immaterial. There are literally thousands of things I can do in my daily life that are dumb, and some of them might lead to serious harm or my demise. Indeed, I can go buy as much booze as I care to consume at the corner store and drink it all, and if I do so it's probably going to have a bad effect on my health, especially if I do that on a regular basis.
This debate over birth control and other procedures is in fact a debate over the wrong thing. What we should be debating, and where I have tried to direct this debate from the beginning, at least in the context of Tickerforum, is toward the base question: Where is the bright line beyond which the government has no right to interfere with the personal decisions made by an individual, and why are we not talking about and forcing government back within that set of bright lines?
The right has often complained about "bleeding heart liberals" and yet this is a chimera. The debate is in fact about the distinction between communists and those who believe in personal autonomy, personal dominion and freedom.
You will not find freedom with either the Republican or Democratic parties. Unfortunately this infestation appears to have taken root even within a good number of the Libertarian candidates, in that Gary Johnson, in particular, sees no problem in the state protecting the crooked acts of various state-linked actors (specifically, banks) who would not exist in their present form but for state-issued licenses to do things that you and I cannot without immediately going to prison (specifically, effectively counterfeiting currency.)
As a people if we are to ever get out of the mess we are in economically and otherwise we must speak to the truth and have a debate on the actual issue -- where the reach of government is, and what it should be. We must eschew all government interference into the realm of private action until and unless the consequences of same reach non-consenting parties.
This is the original premise of law and the foundation of America. It is what made this nation special over 200 years ago, and yet it has almost-entirely been lost in a sea of bull****.
If there is one good thing that has come from the "debate" over contraception in the Republican Party, along with the incendiary rhetoric from people like Rush Limbaugh, it is the illumination of the fact that neither Democrats or Republicans actually respect freedom of one's person when it comes to intimate activity -- that which most people consider "the most private among all actions."
Perhaps -- just perhaps -- some eyes will be opened as to the duplicity of the so-called "major parties" by this series of unfortunate events.
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