Astoria Tea Party Hears from Cascade Policy Institute

On Saturday, September 12, Cascade Policy Institute founder and Senior Policy Analyst Steve Buckstein [center photo] spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of about 80 people from the courthouse steps in Astoria. The event was one of hundreds of such “9-12″ events around the country, including a massive rally in Washington, D.C. that drew over one million peaceful protesters.

Other speakers in Astoria included Matt Evans of Americans for Prosperity — Oregon [right photo], Art Hyland of Astoria [not in photo], and Clatsop County Commissioner Jeff Hazen [left photo].

Buckstein talked about both health care reform and taxation. He told the crowd that while Americans witnessed a very eloquent President speak to the nation last Wednesday night about his vision of government health care reform, they should remember the words of this nation’s first president. George Washington said:

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force!
Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master.”

So, Buckstein told the crowd not to mistake eloquence for governance. A very eloquent speaker can be wrong about the issues.

Here are Buckstein’s prepared remarks:

On Health Care Reform

I haven’t read the 1,000-plus page health care bill in Congress, but I have read the Constitution of the United States; and there’s nothing in that founding document that gives Congress or the President any authority to run our health care system.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped them from controlling half of our health care already with Medicare, Medicaid, children’s health care programs, etc.

But as Milton Friedman pointed out a few years ago, you can watch health care costs go up as the government pays for more of it.

The current reform efforts are doomed to continue that trend because they ignore the economics of insurance and the economics of health care.

I want to make sure you know that there are at least three myths that the President and many Congressmen continue to perpetuate about health care.

The first myth is that we’re underinsured in America. Rather than quibble about how many people are uninsured at any given time, we’d all be better off if we realized that rather than being underinsured, most Americans are actually over insured.

That’s because most health insurance today, including much of what ObamaCare promises, is not so much insurance as it is pre-payment for future health care costs.

And we don’t pay ourselves, but allow a so-called third party, the insurance company or the government, to stand between us and our doctors.

The concept of insurance is that many people pool their funds to insure against unpredictable and costly events that will surely happen to some of us, but we don’t know who. Some people will get hit by a bus. Some will come down with cancer. Most of us can’t pay out of pocket for such catastrophic events, so we buy insurance.

Just like we buy auto insurance to protect us from the financial costs of serious accidents. But we don’t buy insurance to pay for our weekly gasoline fill-ups, oil changes or new tires. We budget for those everyday expenses.

What do you think your car insurance would cost if it did cover gasoline, and you could say “fill it up” with only a $5 co-pay?

But with health insurance, for some reason reform advocates not only want us all covered by what they call insurance, but they want us all covered for virtually everything, including routine care and annual check-ups.

But paying for such routine care through insurance simply raised the cost. We’d be better off purchasing so-called catastrophic policies for low premiums, and budgeting for the routine care we know we’re going to get.

Unfortunately, Oregon and many other states mandate that much routine care be covered by insurance policies, so we end up paying outrageously high premiums, and we blame the insurance companies instead of blaming the real culprit, the government.

ObamaCare would make this problem even worse, but we may not notice because rather than paying higher premiums, we’ll pay through our taxes, and our children’s taxes.

The second myth is that the profit motive is responsible for our high health care costs.

To hear the reformers tell it, we’d have much cheaper insurance premiums if we stopped the insurance companies from raking in obscene profits. The truth is that all the profits of the health insurance companies would pay for the health care of Americans for only about four days.

Drug company profits would pay for all our health care for only about eight days.

On the other side of the coin, the profit motive can be a powerful motivator to reduce health care costs.

You don’t have a Wal-Mart here in Astoria yet, but in the 2,500 Wal-Mart stores around America they’ve figured out how to reduce generic drug prescription costs from around $30 for a month’s supply down to just $4.

As soon as they introduced that program in 2007, other pharmacies began matching those $4 prices, so now you can go to Fred Meyer or Safeway or Walgreens pharmacies and get a month’s supply of hundreds of common prescription drugs for just $4.

Each of these big chains is a for-profit company. Yet each realized that to make profits in health care, they needed to offer something that would attract and retain customers.

It didn’t take some big government program to slash prescription prices; it just took a few greedy profit-making companies.

The reformers think that profits add to the cost of health care. But profit is not a cost as much as it’s a signal that consumer needs are being met. Satisfy more consumers, and a business can earn more profits.

So, rather than eliminating profit from our health care system, we need to encourage companies to innovate and to earn profits by lowering prices to consumers.

Unfortunately, again ObamaCare will take us in the opposite direction.
No matter how much reformers claim that they want to introduce choice and competition into health care, their so-called “public plan option” will do just the opposite. And costs will go up.

The third myth is that health care is a right. We need to remember that America was founded on the principle that government doesn’t grant rights, it simply protects our inalienable rights such as those to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Our rights define what we’re free to do without interference; they’re not goods or services that others must provide for us.

Define health care as a right and cost control will go out the window.
Rather than trying to create an artificial right to health care, I suggest we find practical ways to drive health care costs down and quality up.

Make it easier for more people to afford health care on their own by getting unneeded mandates and insurance regulation out of the way.

In closing, let me give you one simple proposal that would work in Oregon and nationally to drive down health care costs and make insurance more affordable for everyone:

Allow Americans to buy insurance across state lines. Most states, including Oregon, prohibit their citizens from buying health insurance unless the company has plans approved in their state.

Oregon has many more mandates than some other states.

If we could purchase insurance plans approved in, say, Connecticut, we could save thousands of dollars a year and more of us could afford coverage.

Finally, if you agree that government involvement in health care is the wrong direction to go, then educate yourself about the kind of concepts I’ve mentioned here.

Ask tough questions of your elected officials. Many of them got an earful during August when they held town halls in their districts. Now that they’re back in Washington, don’t let up.

Call their offices, write letters to the editor, call talk shows, and make your voices heard, just like you’re doing today. Together we can take back our health care, and take back America.

Thank you.

On Taxes

The Tea Party movement got into high gear this year on Tax Day, April 15th.

But what is taxation really all about?

Some see taxation benignly as the way we pay for government services.

Others see it as an immoral transfer of money from those who earned it to those who didn’t.

Still others see it as an offensive method of funding activities they abhor””perhaps abortion, or foreign wars.

The Internal Revenue Service actually chiseled Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ definition above the entrance of its building in Washington. It reads:

“Taxation is the price we pay for civilization.”

Well, I disagree. Civilization implies a high degree of civility, of peace and harmony between members of our society. Civilized people reason with one another, we don’t use force or fraud to get what we want from our neighbors.

But Taxation ultimately rests on the threat of force.

“Pay up or we’ll take your money against your will, or even throw you in jail if you resist.” Taxation relies on the very tactics that civilized people are trying to leave behind.

My response to the IRS definition of taxation comes from free-market economist Mark Skousen who said that”¦

“Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. And the higher the tax level, the greater the failure.”

So, whenever a state or national politician proposes to raise anyone’s taxes, ask him or her why they can’t find a more civilized way to achieve their goals.

If they tell you the taxation they propose is the price you must pay for a civilized society, then you might let them know that you just can afford any more of their so-called civilization!!

Promoting a truly civilized society means finding ways to meet everyone’s needs through voluntary transactions, rather than coercive ones.

It means resisting the urge to tax our neighbors to pay for our worthy cause, whatever it is, including national health insurance.

Most of our politicians in Washington haven’t gotten that message yet.

Most Oregon legislators haven’t gotten the message either. They recently voted on four big new taxes, two or three of which will be referred to the voters in January.

My organization, Cascade Policy Institute, has done research on the personal income tax increase and the corporate tax increase bills. Between them they threaten to destroy 70,000 Oregon jobs.

Killing the jobs of 70,000 Oregonians is anything but civilized. So please join me in helping to put these tax measures on the ballot, and then defeat them at the polls in January.

That will mean a more civilized Oregon, and it will send a message to the politicians in Washington DC that they can’t take Oregon voters for granted anymore.

They may even re-think their plans to tax us for their uncivilized national health care plan.

When Americans finally give up the idea that we can tax ourselves into prosperity, we’ll be on our way to reclaiming our country and becoming a truly civilized society.

This rally and others like it across the country today are a critical part of this movement. Thank you for adding your voices to this important effort.


Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s nonpartisan free market public policy research organization.

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  • anonymous

    “The event was one of hundreds of such “9-12” events around the country, including a massive rally in Washington, D.C. that drew over one million peaceful protesters.”

    Credibility guys. The AP estimate was 60-70.000. A respectable turnout, but not in the ballpark of 1 million.

    • Steve Buckstein

      I took the one million figure from early reports that did seem to be refuted by later estimates of 60,000 to 250,000. Good discussion of the validity of these later numbers is here: http://reason.com/blog/show/136065.html.

      • Steve Plunk

        There have been many attempts to establish the correct number but it appears to be going up rather than down. 60-70,000 has been completely discredited as too small. The firmest numbers are between 500,000 to 900,000. Throw in the regional rallies and it becomes obvious there is real grassroots discontent.

        Beyond the numbers the facts speak volumes. Steve Buckstein, as usual, puts things in perspective. I thank him and Cascade Policy Institute for all they do.

        Now let’s get that gas tax referred to the voters!

        • anonymous

          “The firmest numbers are between 500,000 to 900,000.”

          Can you cite your source for this?

          • v person

            Between 500,000 and 900,000 is hardly a “firm” estimate, given that a range of 400,000 in between is nearly as much as the lower end.

            Maybe the best we can say is “tens of thousands” and leave it at that. The question, as I’ve posted before, is where were all these people during the Bush Adminstration, which after all did create the mess Obama is now trying to find a way out of? We had 8 years of a mismanaged economy that ended in a financial disaster. What woke these people out of their slumber? And why do they let Bush off the hook? He is the one who created the TARP program, he is the one who had the government take over AIG, Fannie, and Freddie, and he is the one who “loaned” GM and Chrysler the money to keep them in business. And he is the one who doubled the national debt in 8 years. All this happened before the election if I remember correctly.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            > The question, as I’ve posted before, is where were all these people during the Bush Adminstration,

            Loudly complaining. Lots of it right here. The only things these people ever cheered Bush2 for was vetoing SCHIP expansion.

            Which your boy gladly signed.

            What is this absurd nitwit idea you have that conservatives did not complain about Bush2?

            Please, don’t go ranting about Bush2, BO approved the spending items, such as SCHIP, that were even too much for Bush2 to stomach. And that’s saying something!

            >which after all did create the mess Obama is now trying to find a way out of?

            Say what?

            I had no idea Bush2 appointed Chris Dodd, who said FmacFmae were financial stable months before their crash.

            I had no idea Barney Frank was appointed by Bush2. He was the main thrust behind loosening lending regulations.

            Huh, Hey dean, where the hell were you? I mean other than defending these clowns?

            Conservatives roundly criticized Bush2 right on this blog. Time for you to step up to the plate and criticize BO, Dodd and Frank. You won’t and we all know it. You can only follow. You can never criticize your masters.

            Let’s see it Dean.

            In case you missed it, I just said for about the hundredth time Bush2’s spending was out of control. I said it then, I say it now.

            But you.

            you.

            Will not say thing one to ever criticize a Democrat.

            You can’t

            And thats why the only real question regarding your response is will we hear a “moo” or a “baaaah”. The fact that you will follow blindly is not in question. The acoustic nature of your bleating is all that is to be determined.

            >We had 8 years of a mismanaged economy that ended in a financial disaster. What woke these people out of their slumber?

            Can you say, a president who managed to make Bush2 look like a piker in terms of wasteful spending?

            Can you say a president who spent way more than Bush2 all in one single stimulus that virtually every economist warned was too back loaded and viola, didn’t even meet the presidents own goals!

            Can you say a president who now has us on the verge of a trade war with China? Who ran around quoting a number of uninsured that included illegal aliens and then wondered why people were outraged he intended to cover illegals with their money?

            Sure you can.

            >And why do they let Bush off the hook?

            I don’t see anyone letting Bush2 off the hook. I didn’t see any signs at the march looking to bring back Bush2. I cant think of a single conservative who ever said Bush2 was great on spending.

            Last time I checked you guys won the election. What I see is a lot of Dems who now that they are in the drivers seat don’t want to grow up and deal with the problem.

            Bash Bush2 all you want, he didn’t whine like a little boy when Iraq went bad and blame it all on inheriting the problem from Clinton.

            If you guys want to be the party in power for more than a couple of years this whiney stuff isn’t going to cut it.

            Bush2 is gone, you are on your own. Grow a pair.

            >He is the one who created the TARP prog

            Which was lauded by you and opposed by me and virtually every conservative I can name.

            What’s your next point?

            >he is the one who had the government take over AIG, Fannie, and Freddie

            Which again was supported by you and opposed by me and more than a few others here..

            Should we rent you a back hoe?

            Since you are digging a hole for yourself ever deeper maybe one would help.

            >And he is the one who doubled the national debt in 8 years. All this happened before the election if I remember correctly.

            Uh oh, you’re terminal now.

            Your boy is the one who spent more than everyone else combined, Bush included, in 8 months!

            I take it back, you don’t need a back hoe, you need an excavator or some giant strip mining machine.

          • v person

            Oh Rupert. I can’t blame you for getting all frustrated. I would be too if my world were crumbling.

            Yes, people “complained” about Bush. The same people who elected him twice. He wasn’t really a conservative, only he ran as one and basically governed as the return of Reagan. Both based their economic program on large tax cuts mostly for the rich, raisrf military spending, increased spending on entitlements (SSI for Reagan, Medicare for Bush,) and deregulated, resulting in the collapse of Savings & Loans under Reagan, and the entire banking industry under Bush. Oh, and both Bush and Reagan and Bush’s dad piled up the debt. To Reagan’s credit he did not start any wars, and other than the debt he left the economy in decent if a bit wobbly shape.

            What is the lesson? When conservatives govern their policies don’t match their rhetoric. When they are out of power they rediscover their rhetoric. How many times do you want to be had? Are you really that gullible? Do you really think it would be all better under Palin, who did not govern at all as a “conservative” in Alaska during her very brief tenure?

            Yes, I supported Bush at the end when he broke the bank to save the banks because I study history, and I know what happens when there is a serious bank run and a credit collapse. And Obama supported him as well for the same reasons. And now Obama has the tiller and look at what is happening. Stocks are up, banks are stabilized, credit is flowing, houses and cars are selling, GDP is probably inceasing this quarter, and unemployment appears to have bottomed out. The price for this is a yet higher mountain of debt, fortunately borrowed from the Chinese at near zero interest rates. Things could be a whole lot worse and would have been had Bush and then Obama not acted as they did.

            By this time next year, we likely will have turned a nice profit on the TARP money, GM and maybe Chyrsler and AIG will be buying their stock back, one very expensive war will be over and maybe the other as well, unemployment will be headed down, a lot of potholes will have gotten filled, and a lot more wind turbines will be spinning. it will be morning in America once again.

            If this comes to pass, and I don’t think it is at all optimistic, just realistic, what will you have to work with then? What will the Sturm und Drang be about?

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >Oh Rupert. I can’t blame you for getting all frustrated. I would be too if my world were crumbling.

            Expressing amazement that someone would keep asking a question, “where were all these people” on a blog that has had almost nothing good to say about Bush’s spending, ever, is hardly frustration. It’s just simple astonishment that someone would think a question as demonstrably stupid as the one you are asking was clever.

            I’m simply amazed you think looking inane is so clever.

            Get over it, you won the election. Time to stop the Bush whining and grow up.

            >He wasn’t really a conservative, only he ran as one

            Wow, thanks for the history lesson.

            Everyone on here, myself included has constantly been saying to you Bush was not a conservative for years. I wouldn’t even say he really ran as one. Glad you finally caught on.

            >What is the lesson? When conservatives govern their policies don’t match their rhetoric.

            No, the lesson is you don’t listen very well and don’t even follow your own logic.

            You just got through saying Bush was not a conservative. Now you are trying to give an assessment on how conservatives govern based on someone you just said was not a conservative?

            Your problem is you have such loose use of language that words no long mean anything with you. For years you have conflated the words Conservative and Republican. I have tried over the years to inform you that they have two different meanings but because you have a complete inability to ever admit you were wrong you also have a complete inability to ever learn anything new.

            Get it through your head, Bush was not a conservative he was a Republican. Not the same thing.

            You can keep blaming stuff on Bush or Reagan or whatever.

            The fact is, you guys won the election and need to man up a little. All this whining about Bush really is a little pathetic.

            >By this time next year, we likely will have turned a nice profit on the TARP money, GM and maybe Chyrsler and AIG will be buying their stock back, one very expensive war will be over and maybe the other as well, unemployment will be headed down, a lot of potholes will have gotten filled, and a lot more wind turbines will be spinning. it will be morning in America once again. If this comes to pass, and I don’t think it is at all optimistic, just realistic, what will you have to work with then? What will the Sturm und Drang be about?

            Could I have some of whatever you are drinking?

          • v person

            Bush ran as a “compassionate CONSERVATIVE.” He dropped the compassionate part in his re-election and ran only as a CONSERVATIVE. And he had essentially the same economic policies as Ronald Reagan. You skip right over my examples. Cut taxes, increase defense spending, cut regulation, increase entitlement spending, AND blow the deficit up.

            If Bush was not a conservative then neither was Reagan, so where does that leave you Rupert? Who are you going to get behind the next time? Someone who really really means it that they really really are a conservative? Would that be Palin? Check her actual record as governor. Huckabee? Check his record. He increased taxes and spending. Romney? He created the only universal state health care system, one that the Obama plan is modeled on.

            You and your fellow conservatives are stuck. You can whine all you want about the “Obama deficit” but you lack the first clue about how to reduce it, which involves raising taxes (can’t do that) cutting defense spending (can’t do that) and reducing entitlement spending for geeezers (they won’t let you do that).

            Show me the money Ru[pert. What is your next hero going to cut? How gullible can you possibly be?

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Well, there is always this:

    The Daily mail describes the march as up to two million, here is the link:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1213056/Up-million-march-US-Capitol-protest-Obamas-spending-tea-party-demonstration.html

    Personally I don’t think it looked like 2 mil, but then again I wasn’t there.

    Lets be honest though, no matter how you slice this, the march was huge. Had it been for abortion rights or in support of BO Tass and Pravda would have accepted any figure that was above 1 million.

    Look at the pictures, compare them to Kings march on Washington in 1963, they look pretty close and that estimate was 250k ( http://afroamhistory.about.com/od/marchonwashington/a/marchonwash1963.htm ).

    Compare the pictures to the “Million Man March” – That was estimated at 870,000 by my alma matter BU ( http://www.bu.edu/remotesensing/research/million-man-march/index.html ) .

    Both look reasonably close, at least in terms of orders of magnitude ( note to nitwits, if you do not know what order of magnitude means do not reply to my post )

    While we will not know, and will never know, the actual numbers two things are certain:

    1 – This march was significant in that it is the only march anywhere near this size that was not generated by a charismatic leader. That’s huge. This was opposition based on policy, not blind partisanship.

    2 – This march went was the first conservative event of this kind of magnitude in anyone’s lifetime who is now living. That says a lot to the idea that big government is in and conservatism is out. Does that mean Republicans are in? Not on your life. But it does mean if Obama continues to govern in the liberal manner he promised and delivered throughout the campaign, those who follow do so at grave peril.

    Wheeew, well, so much for being polite.

    You know, I feel like retiring to the beer hall, really saying what’s on my mind and clearly a lot of other peoples.

    I submit we saw nothing like this prior to 1994 and look at what happened. Will Republicans take over the Senate or House? Who knows. Who cares. Frankly I would prefer they did not. I would prefer America finally bury this idea of socialism/fascism whatever you feel is closer once and for all. We have had eight months of BO and already the pitch forks and torches are at the door.

    Just like BO is determined to crash the system, so is there a reaction from the ultra right wing, me. I don’t want the pitchforks and torches at the door. That’s not enough and it should not be enough for you. I want the pitch forks and torches through the door. I want them inside. I want them pointed at those who think its a good idea to put our country into a serfdom of debt to pay for absurd government expansion just to aggrandize a party and an individual who care more about buying votes with our grandchildren’s money than they do about the financial stability of this country. I don’t want them defeated at the next election. I want them buried. I want them buried not so that they never rear their ugly heads again. No. I want them buried so far down that when a McCain, a Bob Dole, a John Warner or an Olympia Snow gets the bright idea into their head that liberal lite is a good way to govern, that they are laughed at. I want the pestilence of idiocy, this absurd Bush 2 notion that giving the left half of what it wants now and the other half in six months is better than repudiating the whole, to be ground into the vapidity of other nonsensical political elysian playgrounds.

    Ok – That’s the end of my rant.

    Now, let me wipe my brow, straighten out my tunic and armband and grab a beer.

    HANS! BRATWURST PLEASE!!!!!

    • v person

      Take it from an aging former left-wing protestor. Millions of people in the streets, week after week, month after month, failed to bring an end to the war in Viet Nam. Hundreds of thousands in the streets, millions world wide, failed to prevent the invasion of Iraq. King’s march on Washington may have been the tipping point that got a civil rights act, but it took years of organizing, bodies on the line, and time in jail before that happened. Street protests in a democratic nation are mostly about venting, and not much more than that. Electoral politics matter, and for that you either have to wait for the other side to collapse or you have to offer a better alternative or both.

      The debt, suddenly rediscoverd as a problem by the right after Reagan, both Bushs, and a Republican Congress managed to blow it into the stratosphere, is a good populist issue. The problem you will have when it comes election time is that you will be running the same people who brought us a mountain of debt to repace those responsible for a mere thimble of it. And you will have no plan or method of balancing the budget short of eviscerating the military, really pulling the plug on grannie and grandpappy, and cutting their SSI checks to boot. Good luck with that.

      Plus you have the loons within your tent who can’t accept a birth certificate when it is placed in front of their noses, think the Federal Reserve is unconstitutional, and bring loaded guns to presidential speaking engagements. Suburban middle America is not going to elect people who associate with these people, let alone those who take to the streets with them.

      So maybe the beer hall and arm band is your best bet. Hitler never had a majority, but he did have meaner thugs than anyone else.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >The problem you will have when it comes election time is that you will be running the same people who brought us a mountain of debt to repace those responsible for a mere thimble of it.

        And the problem you will have is trying to get anyone to believe that nonsense.

        Your boy has spent more in eight months than everyone before him.

        Everyone knows it.

        Apparently you don’t

        You guys own the deficit. Get used to it. Start dealing with it.

  • Ralph Branxton

    Any sad sack who cites a number from the AP must be really out of it.
    They are buffoons at best. But accurate reporters? I don’t think so.
    But, hey, if you want to believe them, good luck.

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