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The Spirit of the Law

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Jonah Goldberg writes in National Review, Hillary and Her Wheelbarrows

Using the clever wheelbarrow analogy Goldberg notes:

This whole argument misses the point. What we know from these e-mails, particularly thanks to an analysis by the Associated Press, is that Clinton or other State Department officials agreed to meet or talk on the phone with a large number of Clinton Foundation donors. Some of these meetings probably would have happened if the foundation never existed. But clearly some wouldn’t have.

Team Clinton wants to say that even though these meetings and conversations took place, there’s no evidence that anyone was granted a special favor.

Fine. Maybe. We’ll see. But even if that’s true, is there any evidence that the Clinton Foundation wasn’t eager to leave the impression that a donation couldn’t hurt your chances with the State Department?

This brings me back to the wheelbarrow joke. The meetings (and phone calls) are the wheelbarrows. It really doesn’t matter if there’s nothing “inside” the wheelbarrows; the meetings and conversations alone were valuable.

HKO

Clinton’s refuses to acknowledge her corruption because in her mind there is none.  As a trained lawyer she parses her words so carefully that she rationalizes her integrity while it is nonexistent. As her husband Bill could only answer an incriminating question with the infamous “ that depends on the meaning of ‘is’”, Hillary used similar parsing to answer questions about her e-mails, and even then was proven to be a bold faced liar.

Such answers underlie a betrayal of the spirit of the law as much as the ‘letter’ of the law. A civilized society depends on the citizens following the spirit of the law as well of the letter, less it grind to halt mired in legal technicalities.

Hillary is unfit to lead a civilized society.

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Epi Politics

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“We judge other groups by their worst examples – while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”  George W. Bush

The “scandal” of the EpiPen pricing is a picture perfect play for those who have a chip on their shoulder about rich people, corporations, and the need for government to protect us from the greed of the private sector, which of course can only be accomplished by the government because nobody in government is motivated by greed.

Kevin Williamson goes off on a full-fledged unrestrained rant, because what is the point of having a restrained rant.  From his article in National Review, The Politics of Anaphylaxis:

Pardon my bluntness here, but screw these people. Nobody, anywhere, at any time, has ever in a moment of mortal terror cried out: “For God’s sake, is there a politician in the house?” You know how many treatments for anaphylaxis have been produced by politicians over the course of human history? Zero. Congress’s sole contribution to the existence of a handy device that keeps your children from dying from bee stings is the fact that Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is the daughter of a Democratic senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

If we were relying on the intelligence, work ethic, creativity, entrepreneurship, scientific prowess, and far-sightedness of the members of Congress to produce treatments for allergic reactions or any other medical problem, we’d still have a million people a year dying from smallpox and preventable infections. We’d also be starving to death.

A more restrained if different analysis from Homan Jenkins, Jr. at The Wall Street, Dear EpiPen Customers:

Newspaper and TV coverage of our pricing controversy has not been friendly to Mylan, but most reports at least mention the ways we strive to lower the out-of-pocket price for consumers with coupons and rebates to offset their copays and deductibles. We also provide free drugs to hardship cases. The Washington Post even alluded to these efforts in its headline: “Despite coupons, EpiPen’s virtual monopoly roils critics.”

Sadly, the media have proved unable to explain the finer points of pharmaceutical pricing. Not that we blame the media: health-care pricing is complicated and subject to Reporter Complexity Refusal Syndrome.

And yet the essential matter is not complicated. It can be explained in a sentence: Six hundred dollars is the price we want insurers to pay.

HKO

The fury is the same as those who do not understand the role the pricing system plays in allocating needed goods to flooded areas. Charging more for needed products in areas that need it more is functional because it reduces the need for those needed products in areas that need it less. The moral superiors who are more interested in punishing profiteers than helping the needy often end up denying them the goods they need.

Yet there are many that altruistically donate time and money to the needy and needy areas.  To praise them is not to condemn a system that works in their absence. God bless them.

While the EpiPen pricings is tailor made news for those trolling for reasons to “stick” it to the greedy capitalists, it does raise a few other questions.

Why does it take so long and cost so much to get approval for a drug from the FDA? Does this restrict competition and protect greedy profiteers from the accountability and discipline of the market?

How much does the third party payment system distort the pricing system, adding layers of administrative costs while removing basic consumer accountability?

Has the CEO’s father,  Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, ever interfered with the FDA’s approval process for Mylan’s competitors?  Would they pursue this line of questioning further is he was a Republican?

But most important, why is this news?  This is not to discount the merit and the outrage of the story, but there are millions of products priced in the market every day, probably in the medical field alone. Transactions flow like water with little ire from the consumers or the moral preening gatekeepers we keep returning to office.  The fact that the EpiPen “scandal” is even newsworthy is testament that market pricing works so well so often that such an aberration is extremely rare. Poorly thought out regulations directed at such exceptions will likely not make it less common.  It would likely just add to the restrictions and roadblocks to innovation that caused such cases in the first place.

 

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Shrink the Power of the Presidency

From Ian Tuttle at National Review Why There Is No Serious Third-Party Alternative This Year

If there is any lesson to take from this present disaster, surely it is that the place of the presidency in American life has grown too large. It has taken calm, rational human beings and turned them into fanatics; it has turned dispassionate observers into cultists. And we do desperately need Congress to reassert its role restricting the executive, and to devolve the powers that have been more and more centralized by higher and higher offices back to state, regional, and municipal governments.

But it is the case even now, after a century spent increasing the authority — including the extra-constitutional authority — of the president, that no occupant of the Oval Office is likely to be able to wreak the havoc that either side fears. Hillary Clinton will not ban handgun ownership. Donald Trump will not nuke Beijing. There are constitutional and institutional and bureaucratic and (yes) moral checks that are still likely to stay even the most muscular strong-arm.

Of course, it would be best if we did not have to put those checks to the test at all. Far more agreeable would be a quiet, do-nothing president, a president on whom very little depended. This year’s fiasco should encourage both sides to work toward that end. The belief that the country lives and dies on the shoulders of the president only makes it more likely that it will.

HKO

Perhaps the silver lining in this depressing choice will be a reversal of the trend to make the President more powerful.

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Gilded Progressives

from The Great Regression in The National Review by Victor Davis Hanson

At the turn of the last century, “trust busters” of the progressive movement made the argument that the free market was imperiled by crony capitalists, who had, with government collusion, vertically integrated enormous conglomerates and monopolies, strangling free commerce and competition in the steel, oil, and railroad industries. Central to the muckrakers’ advocacy was that the Morgans, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Stanfords, and Carnegies were illiberal obstacles to egalitarianism and fairness — in other words, to the aspirations of the “little guy.”

Compare that to the scene today, with the record-setting monopolies of the founders of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon. Internet grandees like Mark Zuckerberg are every bit as opulent in today’s dollars, and live as often in gated estates as did the now derided robber barons of the past — and are no less unethical. They certainly share the same disdain for the working middle classes, as they seek to import cheap foreign tech labor. Yet at least Rockefeller gave us oil, and Carnegie steel; it is hard to calibrate exactly how the country benefits from millions of 20-somethings glued to their Facebook pages.

Google massages its daily news fare to reflect liberal biases. Facebook censures far more social media on the right than on the left. Twitter closes down those it arbitrarily deems incorrect. The only difference is that in the Gilded Age, plutocrats preached the doctrines of self-reliance and hard work, professing that others could follow their golden paths. Today’s versions mouth progressive bromides on the assurance that they easily have the money and influence to navigate around the bothersome concrete ramifications of their own ideological boilerplate. None of them want their families to live in the world that is the logical result of their abstract and guilt-ridden theories.

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Deciding How to Fail

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From Kevin Williamson at National Review, Thank Goodness Trump Is a Compulsive Liar

With that in mind, ask yourself this question: Given that the shortfall of our total future government obligations — not the obligations themselves, just how short we are of paying them — almost equals the entire stock of wealth accumulated by the entire human race over the course of its history, what do you imagine the chances are that those obligations will be paid out in the future at their present value?

The real debate going forward isn’t how we’re going to go about making good on all those promises — it’s how we’re going to go about not making good on those promises.