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The U.S. Transhumanist Party – Pursuing a Future of Extreme Progress – Presentation by G. Stolyarov II

The U.S. Transhumanist Party – Pursuing a Future of Extreme Progress – Presentation by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
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Listen to and download the audio recording of this presentation at http://rationalargumentator.com/USTP_Future_of_Extreme_Progress.mp3 (right-click to download).

Download Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation slides at http://rationalargumentator.com/USTP_Future_of_Extreme_Progress.pdf (right-click to download).


Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, delivered this presentation virtually at the Extreme Futures Technology and Forecasting (EFTF) Work Group on March 11, 2017.

Mr. Stolyarov outlines the background and history of the Transhumanist Party, its Core Ideals, its unique approach to politics and member involvement, and the hopes for transforming politics into a constructive focus on solutions to the prevailing problems of our time.

At the conclusion of the presentation Mr. Stolyarov answered a series of questions from futurists Mark Waser and Stuart Mason Dambrot.

Visit the website of the U.S. Transhumanist Party here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free here.

Watch the U.S. Transhumanist Party Discussion Panel on Artificial Intelligence here.

Watch the U.S. Transhumanist Party Discussion Panel on Life Extension here.

Secede and Decentralize: An Open Letter to Clinton Supporters – Article by Justin Murray

Secede and Decentralize: An Open Letter to Clinton Supporters – Article by Justin Murray

The New Renaissance HatJustin Murray
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Dear Clinton Voters:

I know this election has been painful for you. Many feel betrayed and even believe yourselves no longer living in the country you thought you were. Reflect on that pain and frustration for a moment. Now recognize how you feel now is how an equally large, possibly larger, number felt for the past eight years. Those who are of a liberty bent feel it all the time, no matter who ends up in office. Reflect on it, feel it, understand it, own it.

Before you get the wrong idea, this is not my attempt at rubbing in your face the loss of your candidate or an endorsement of President-elect Donald Trump. If anything, I share your pain and frustration, just for an entirely different reason. What you’re feeling, this hopelessness, this feeling that you’re no longer represented, this feeling that people other than you are now able to dictate your way of life, this is all a result of the massive expansion of the Federal government. Elections have long ceased being voting for someone you think represents the lifestyle you want to live and are, in practice, an exercise on determining whether or not you get to impose your preferred lifestyle on someone else.

This is the nature of elections, especially the “first past the post” method utilized in the United States. This system is, by its nature, one where one group of people enjoys the ability to effectively dictate to those who did not win how they will be living their lives over the next term period. The effect of this on voter frustration, which manifests as cultural divisiveness, only gets magnified the more powerful that government becomes. A weak federal government would produce little divisiveness because there is little to be divided over. A strong Federal government would produce significant divisiveness since there is much to be divided over. It also goes to say that an absolute government would create absolute division while the absence of government would not produce a division because there isn’t any risk of having your life dictated by distant populations. When we add in factors of geographic distance and cultural diversity, we end up with a horrible mud-slinging process where people actively dislike both candidates and the electorate openly attacks one another over the political process, completing the division process. These issues won’t go away with vague calls of being civil, coming together or getting along. One group or another will always feel put out and ignored since those in office only truly represent those that got them elected.

However, you need not despair. The liberty movement has the answers you seek to not only distance yourself from future risk of being dictated to by distant populations and political heartache but also be able to more quickly and nimbly get policies and lifestyles you prefer without having to fight someone else for it.

Option 1: Demand Your Representatives Shut Down DC

Nothing Obama signed into law or created through regulatory diktat had to be done at the national level. Not the Affordable Care Act. Not raising minimum wages. Not identifying tax rates. Not regulatory agencies. Not even food stamps and various other welfare programs. None of it has to be done in Washington DC. All of it can be done at your State level and even locally. To prove a point, Colorado had an opportunity to form the nation’s first European-style single-payer health care system. Had that referendum passed, residents of Colorado could have been able to copy the Canadian model of medical care delivery. And it would have been entirely legal and done so without having to collect the opinions of 320 million people or impose it on residents of other States that would not have wanted it.

However, as noted in the linked article, the referendum was opposed on grounds that it could not be sufficiently paid for. This is not because of the common argument that the entire nation needs to be tapped to afford it. Colorado is wealthier than the national average, so Colorado would realistically end up having to pay residents of other States if such a scheme went national. So why is this law fiscally impossible in today’s environment? It is mainly because the Federal government is already taking all those resources for itself.

On average, the Federal government consumes 50 percent of all the taxes paid in this country. This means that, if the average holds for Colorado, and the State is likely further disadvantaged because of the higher income bracket, residents are sending $1 in taxes to the federal government for every $1 in taxes that are collected from them that go to the State or Local governments. In other words, Colorado residents have no say in how half their tax resources are used. Worse, Colorado residents would likely do a better job administering the exact same programs and do so for less because most Federal programs do little more than return the money back to equivalent State agencies. This means your State is having to cover the overhead of 2.7 million Federal employees whose sole purpose is to take money from your State then give it back again with orders on how to spend it.

By eliminating these programs wholesale on a national level and utilizing your existing State systems, you can avoid any disruptions in the programs and also enjoy a less expensive process. Instead of the Federal government collecting its pound of flesh, you will send it to your State capital. This not only allows you to continue the policies and even amend and adjust them more readily without having to convince up to 59 other Senators, hundreds of House representatives and a sitting president, along with an unknown and distant bureaucracy. All you need to do is ask your State representative, who is probably far more available to talk to than the senator you send to DC. With an added bonus, the people living the next State over aren’t going to feel threatened by your political philosophy because they are safe knowing that whatever system you decide to live under does not apply to them if they so choose not to.

Option 2: Secession

This is a more extreme process, but it is also just as valid and allows for more culturally compatible people to have a stronger option at self-determination. This strategy further removes the chances of having a central power structure usurping the wishes and desires of your more culturally compatible group by incompatible groups elsewhere. If one looks at the 2016 election map:

us_2016_election_map

We can find that, at minimum, save for a couple of orphans in the form of New Mexico, Denver, Minneapolis, and Chicago, the United States as it stands is perfectly set up for a secession movement to split the nation into at least three separate entities.

This would allow a greater level of freedom for residents of these three newly formed entities. Further, this split is more than possible from economic size. For the purposes of this exercise, I’ll name the three new nations Cascadia (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and let’s throw Hawaii in there), New England (all the blue colored States from Virginia through Maine), and the United States (everyone else). If the USA split into these three entities, here is how the top 20 nations by GDP would look:

us_3_countries

These new nations would rank second, fourth and sixth in world GDP and two of them, USA and Cascadia, are one decent year of growth away from jumping up a rank.

An additional benefit of secession is the ability to further harmonize the new nation with more desirable trade practices, immigration policy, foreign policy, military spending, court systems, and monetary policy. These decentralized entities even have the option of altering how the government itself works, such as dispensing with individual State identities, removing the Electoral College and applying a direct vote system or even converting into a European-style Parliamentary system. Secession allows for even greater self-determination missing in today’s system.

Or you could continue operating as-is and hope enough swing voters decide they want to go back to your philosophy so you can take your turn again imposing your lifestyle on someone else and taking the risk of playing backseat where you truly have no representation or real say in how you live.

In any case, the liberty movement can be a strong ally to allow you to avoid having to live through another Donald Trump term and forge your own destiny without all the strife and divisiveness that goes with a modern American election cycle.

Justin Murray received his MBA in 2014 from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

This article was published on Mises.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

G. Stolyarov II Interviews Demian Zivkovic Regarding the D.N.A. – Gene Therapies Congress

G. Stolyarov II Interviews Demian Zivkovic Regarding the D.N.A. – Gene Therapies Congress

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II and Demian Zivkovic
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Mr. Stolyarov invited Demian Zivkovic, President of the Institute of Exponential Sciences (IES), to discuss the forthcoming Designing New Advances (D.N.A.) Gene Therapies Congress in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

The interview took place on Sunday, June 19, 2016, at 11 a.m. US Pacific Time. Watch the recording here.

The D.N.A. Congress is scheduled to occur on July 9, 2016, and will feature speakers such as Oliver Medvedik, Aubrey de Grey, Elizabeth Parrish, Keith Comito, and Tatjana Kochetkova. This event receives the strong endorsement of both The Rational Argumentator and the Nevada Transhumanist Party.

Read the announcement of the D. N. A. Congress here.

Contribute to the fundraiser for the D. N. A. Congress on Indiegogo  and Generosity.

DNA_Interview_CoverDemian Zivkovic is the president of the Institute of Exponential Sciences  (Facebook  / Meetup) – an international transhumanist think tank / education institute comprised of a group of transhumanism-oriented scientists, professionals, students, journalists, and entrepreneurs interested in the interdisciplinary approach to advancing exponential technologies and promoting techno-positive thought. He is also an entrepreneur and student of artificial intelligence and innovation sciences and management at the University of Utrecht.

Demian and the IES have been involved in several endeavors, such as organizing lectures on exponential sciences, interviewing experts such as Aubrey de Grey, joining several of Mr. Stolyarov’s futurism panels, and spreading Death is Wrong – Mr. Stolyarov’s illustrated children’s book on indefinite life extension – in The Netherlands.

Demian Zivkovic is a strong proponent of healthy life extension and cognitive augmentation. His interests include hyperreality, morphological freedom advocacy, postgenderism, and hypermodernism. He is currently working on his ambition of raising enough capital to make a real difference in life extension and transhumanist thought.

D.N.A. Congress Announcement by the Institute of Exponential Sciences

D.N.A. Congress Announcement by the Institute of Exponential Sciences

The New Renaissance HatInstitute of Exponential Sciences
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Editor’s Note: The forthcoming D.N.A. Congress in Utrecht, The Netherlands, hosted by the Institute of Exponential Sciences, devoted to discussions of gene therapies, receives the strong endorsement of both The Rational Argumentator and the Nevada Transhumanist Party. The D.N.A. Congress offers a promising venue to discuss the potential for gene therapies to cure diseases, lengthen lifespans, and improve quality of life for millions of people in the coming years and decades.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator, June 5, 2016

D.N.A CONGRESS PRESS RELEASE:

The Institute of Exponential Sciences (IES) has a large announcement to make. We are organising D.N.A – The largest European congress on human gene therapies, featuring speakers such as Aubrey de Grey, Liz Parrish, Oliver Medvedik and others.

Our event has been endorsed by LEAF, Heales VZW, BioViva, SENS Research Foundation, Singularity Network, People Unlimited, The Rational Argumentator, and many others. The event will be covered by national media and will be broadcasted online.

To make this vision a reality, we need your support. Share this message and donate today. Thank you!

IES needs your support to help make this vision a reality. Click here to donate to our crowdfunding campaign.

D.N.A – Designing New Advances: The second large Institute of Exponential Sciences event is coming to Utrecht

 

DNADemian Zivkovic

Utrecht – After a successful event last year in May, the grand congress is ready for a second edition. With a new name, we hope to make exponential sciences more approachable to the general public and bring people in the field closer together. The Institute of Exponential Sciences congress 2016 will be held at RASA podium on the 9th of July. The main theme of the event is gene therapies and cutting-edge applications of such therapies, such as health extension and interventions against human aging. To guarantee a great event, we have invited some of the biggest names in the field. Our guest speakers will be as follows:

Opening the event will be Oliver Medvedik, Ph.D, director of scientific programs at Genspace. Dr. Medvedik has earned his Ph.D at Harvard Medical school in the biomedical and biological sciences program. Since graduating from Harvard, he has worked as a biotechnology consultant, taught molecular biology to numerous undergraduates at Harvard, and mentored two of Harvard’s teams for the international genetically engineered machines competition (IGEM) held annually at M.I.T.

Our second speaker is Aubrey David Nicholas Jasper de Grey, Ph.D, an English author, Chief Science Officer of the SENS Research Foundation, and editor-in-chief of the academic journal Rejuvenation Research. Aubrey de Grey is well known for his focus on regenerative medicine and views on human aging. He will take the stage talking about the applications of current and upcoming technologies and studies which hold the potential to greatly extend our healthy lifespan.

Our third speaker is Tatjana Kochetkova, Ph.D, who is a fellow of the Institute of Exponential Sciences and a bioethicist. Dr. Kochetkova will follow up discussing the ethical and philosophical side of the technology and will address questions of what exponential technologies in biotech mean for society.

Our fourth speaker is Elizabeth Parrish, a fellow of the Institute of Exponential Sciences and the Founder and CEO of BioViva Sciences Inc, a Delaware corporation based in Seattle, WA, with labs and participating clinics in South/Central America where the majority of practical work is carried out. BioViva has been noted for being the first corporation in the world to treat a patient with gene therapy to reverse aging. The woman who wants to genetically engineer you will cover the basics of BioViva’s approach and vision for the the future, as well as the potential that gene therapies hold for radically improving our health and lives in the future.

Our fifth speaker will be Keith Comito, who is the founder and president of the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and a partner of the Institute of Exponential Sciences. Through LEAF, he operates the crowdfunding platform Lifespan.io, which supports biomedical research aimed at extending healthy human lifespan. He also serves as policy coordinator for the Global Healthspan Policy Institute, which facilitates relationships between researchers and government to advance initiatives in support of healthy life extension.

About Institute of Exponential Sciences

The Institute of Exponential Sciences is an international innovation-oriented think tank, outreach organisation, and networking platform based in the Netherlands, in the city of Utrecht. Its main activities include organising lectures and conferences, providing quality consultancy on innovation and exponential technologies, and collaborating with student organisations and universities in educating the public on the importance of exponential technologies.

It was founded by members of its predecessor, the Arma’thwynn society, which was a student group of like-minded young academics in the Netherlands. After organising events and attracting a very diverse and professional team of entrepreneurs, academics, and journalists, the society decided to move past student politics and make the move towards professionalism.

The Institute of Exponential Sciences is the result of that decision. After organising successful events (the largest of which was their symposium in April, 2015), the Institute of Exponential Sciences formalised its mission and reached out towards a process of international collaboration with other entities which share a techno-positive vision. The institute strives towards excellence in providing the best information and resources related to the issues relevant in the rapidly advancing technological society we live in.

The IES approach is focused on providing interdisciplinary education in the fields of exponential technologies such as artificial intelligence, bio-informatics, gene therapies, 3D-printing, augmented reality, and neural interfacing. We also provide a networking platform which allows entrepreneurs, scientists, journalists, and students to get in touch with others with similar ideas so that they may create the technologies of tomorrow. The IES strives not only to improve the speed of development of these technologies, but also to show the public the amazing possibilities technology provides for society.

IES and the IES logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of IES Foundation in the Netherlands and/or other countries. All other products and/or services referenced are trademarks of their respective entities.

CBO: Tangled Web of Welfare Programs Creates High Tax Rates on Participants – Article by Charles Hughes

CBO: Tangled Web of Welfare Programs Creates High Tax Rates on Participants – Article by Charles Hughes

The New Renaissance HatCharles Hughes
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The dozens of different programs that form our tangled welfare system often impose high effective marginal tax rates that make it harder for low-income people to transition out of these programs and lift of those programs and into the middle class. As the people in these programs enter the workforce, get a promotion, or work more hours, they can lose a significant portion of those earnings through reduced benefits and increased taxes. A new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) illustrates this predicament: many households hovering around the poverty level face steeper effective marginal tax rates than even the highest earners. These prohibitively high tax rates can discourage work and limit their prospects, ultimately making them less likely to escape poverty.

Marginal Tax Rates at the Median and 90th Percentiles by Earnings Group, 2016

cbo_tableau_marginal

Source: Congressional Budget Office, “Effective Marginal Tax Rates for Low- and Moderate-Income Workers in 2016,” November 19, 2015.

Note: Figure created using Tableau. 

CBO’s analysis looks at the range of effective marginal tax rates households face at different levels of income. The median marginal tax rate for households just above the poverty level is almost 34 percent, the highest for any income level. Some households that receive larger benefits or higher state taxes have even higher effective rates: 10 percent of households just above the poverty line face a marginal rate higher than 65 percent. For each additional dollar earned in this range, these households would lose almost two-thirds to taxes or lost benefits. The comparable rate for the highest earners, households above 400 percent of the poverty level, is only 43.4 percent. If anything this analysis might understate how steep the effective marginal rates are for some households. CBO only considers the combined effect of income taxes, payroll taxes, SNAP and ACA exchange subsidies, so households that participate in other programs like TANF or housing assistance could face even higher rates. These results mirror some of Cato’s past work investigating the issues and trade-offs involved with these welfare programs.

The nature of the welfare system contributes to the prevalence of these poverty traps. A House and Ways Human Resources Subcommittee recently held a hearing on issue and released a chart illustrating the complex, labyrinthine nature of the welfare system.

WM-Welfare-Chart-AR-amendment-110215-jpegClick on the image for a full-sized view.

New programs were grafted onto the existing system over time, each intended to address a perceived problem afflicting people in poverty, but they can interact in ways that can deter people from striving to create a better life for their families. That’s part of the reason the status quo system, which the Government Accountability Office estimates spends $742 billion at the federal level each year, has achieved such lackluster results to date.

While these shortcomings would seem to indicate that the welfare system is in need of reform, this tangled web has proved resistant to change. One of the last major reforms happened in 1996, when Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Even that reform only addressed one strand of the dozens that make up our tangled system, so while it might have improved that one aspect the larger flaws with the welfare system as a whole have to some extent continued unabated. Even within this one strand there has been little discussion of reform in the past two decades, TANF hasn’t even been properly reauthorized since the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, it is usually thrown into short-term continuing resolutions or broader omnibus appropriations acts that do not incorporate any meaningful attempts to address the program’s problems. Absent comprehensive, the flawed current system will continue to fall short even as the government funnels hundreds of billions of dollars into it each year.

If the federal government is going to finance a welfare system, it should foster an environment that encourages work and makes it easier for participants to transition out of these programs as they strive to create a better life. The current system falls far short in that regard and needs comprehensive reforms.

Charles Hughes is a research associate at the Cato Institute, where he focuses on federal budget policy, poverty, entitlement reform, and general economics.  Originally from Texas, Hughes joined Cato in 2011 after graduating from the University of Chicago with degrees in Economics and Public Policy.

This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Pathway to Faster Cures – When It Comes to Life-Saving Drugs, We Need More Than Modest Reform – Article by Bartley J. Madden

The Pathway to Faster Cures – When It Comes to Life-Saving Drugs, We Need More Than Modest Reform – Article by Bartley J. Madden

The New Renaissance Hat
Bartley J. Madden
May 26, 2015
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Rob Donahue used to ride horses. He was a modern-day cowboy until he was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Now his muscles are weak. He can’t ride horses anymore. And his condition is worsening quickly. ALS will degenerate Donahue’s neurons and nervous system, and he will probably die in less than five years.

Another ALS sufferer, Nick Grillo, is trying to change all that. He’s put together a petition on Change.org to urge the FDA to fast-track approval of a new drug, GM-604, that would help people like Donahue and others like him.

“People can’t wait five, ten, 15 years for the clinical trial process,” said Grillo. “Things need to happen much quicker.”

But ALS is just one illness, and GM-604 is just one medicine. There are thousands of Americans suffering — many with terminal illnesses — while waiting on the FDA approval process.

Paradigm change

A paradigm change is essential because FDA culture has led to a situation where it costs an average of $1.5 billion and 12 or more years of clinical testing to bring a new drug to market. Medical innovation cannot thrive when only very large firms can afford to research and develop new drugs.

Another problem is that the FDA’s first goal is not to maximize innovation, but to minimize the chances that an FDA-approved drug leads to unanticipated adverse side effects and negative publicity. In particular, the FDA’s efficacy testing requirements have resulted in an ever-increasing load of money and time on drug developers. We can’t count on FDA bureaucrats to fix the broken system they created.

Even Congress, whose cottage industry is to regulate, admits that the current FDA system is a roadblock to fast-paced innovation. Congress’s own 21st Century Cures Initiative has led to many good ideas for delivering medical treatments, but even if successful, these ideas would bring only incremental improvements.

Americans deserve a bold plan to achieve genuine large-scale change enabling us to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. And most importantly, we need a mechanism for allowing patients to exercise choice consistent with their own preferences for risk.

Congressional hearings: the missing seat at the table

The missing seat at the table is for someone who represents freedom — that is, the right of patients, advised by their doctors, to make informed decisions as to the use of not-yet-FDA-approved drugs.

Freedom in response to suffering and subjugation is a powerful rallying call. The Women’s Right to Vote constitutional amendment in 1920 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were not about incremental improvements; each was a paradigm change that brought forth a different and better future.

Absent from the congressional hearings over health care, however, has been a freedom agenda, specifically one designed to eliminate the FDA’s monopoly on access to new drugs.

Venture capitalists, where have you gone?

We hear very little about those who suffer and die because they were not able to access drugs stuck in the FDA’s testing pipeline, or about drugs that were never brought to market because FDA procedures made the development costs too high. There is an invisible graveyard filled with people who have died because of drug lag and drug loss.

The FDA’s deadly over-caution is why venture capitalists shy away from investing in biopharmaceutical startup firms. Venture capitalists are willing to take big risks on ideas that may fail. But failure due to regulatory risk is just too big a hurdle to overcome. Capital providers have other opportunities, even if those opportunities don’t involve cures for disease.

High costs and slow innovation are the hallmark of a monopoly. And, as medical science continues its rapid pace of innovation, the cost of lost opportunities for better health will increase even faster. The solution is to introduce consumer choice and competition.

Free to choose medicine

Three self-reinforcing principles are needed to bring rapid innovation to the biopharmaceutical marketplace.

First, we need a free-to-choose track that operates independently of the FDA and runs alongside the conventional FDA clinical testing track — a competitive alternative. After a new drug has successfully passed safety trials and shows initial effectiveness in early clinical trials, a drug developer could request that the drug be available for sale. Such an arrangement would allow for new drugs to be available up to seven years earlier than waiting for a final FDA approval decision.

Second, free-to-choose treatment results, including patients’ genetic data, would be posted on an open-access database. Patients and their physicians would be able to make informed decisions about the use of approved drugs versus not-yet-approved drugs. The resulting treasure trove of observational data would reveal, in real time on the Internet, which subsets of patients do extremely well or poorly using a particular new drug. This broad population of users — in contrast to the tight similarity of clinical trial patients — would better inform the biopharmaceutical industry, yielding better R&D decisions and faster innovation.

Third, some drug developers would want to provide free-to-choose drugs in order to quickly demonstrate that their drugs were effective, thereby enhancing the ability to raise needed capital. For patients who need insurance reimbursement and for developers seeking formal FDA recognition of their drugs’ safety and effectiveness, another kind of incentive is needed. That is, FDA observational approval would be based on treatment results reflected in observational data posted on the open-access Internet database.

In the foreword to my 2012 book, Free to Choose Medicine: Better Drugs Sooner at Lower Cost, Nobel Laureate economist Vernon Smith wrote, “These three design components for patient/doctor control of medical treatment are both innovative and soundly based. With this conceptual blueprint, legislation could be crafted to promote both expanded consumer choice and the discipline of choice to the long-term benefit of society.”

Opposition

FDA proponents would bolster the fear that “unsafe” drugs could flood the marketplace. But the FDA cannot define what is “safe.” Only patients with their unique health conditions, treatment profiles, and preferences for taking risk can define what is safe for them. That is what freedom is all about: individual choice. Keep in mind that the likely large number of free-to-choose patients with widely varying health conditions would yield uniquely useful safety data superior to safety readouts from clinical trial data.

The free-to-choose medicine plan is voluntary and would not disturb those who want to use only approved drugs. A reasonable implementation schedule would first allow the new system to be used by patients fighting a life-threatening illness, as they are the ones most in need of access to the latest drug advancements.

Biopharmaceutical firms likely to oppose such a plan would include larger firms who consider their expertise in dealing with the FDA bureaucracy as an especially valued competitive advantage over their smaller competitors. We should expect support from firms with a high level of scientific skill, but limited skill and resources in dealing with FDA bureaucracy. Nevertheless, even those firms initially opposed should question their current business models, which produce sky-high prescription drug prices and the very real chance that government at some future point will impose price controls. Why not set into motion an alternative that can lead to radically lower development and approval costs with concomitant lower prescription drug prices while maintaining industry profitability levels?

Trial lawyer organizations will be expected to contribute mightily to defeat any freedom-based legislation. They do not want Americans legally taking personal responsibility by way of voluntary contracts, even if there are life-saving benefits to be had.

Patients are the ultimate beneficiaries of competition, and they are a powerful force for those who want a fundamental restructuring of the FDA. Right-to-try state laws are designed to allow those dealing with life-threatening illnesses access to not-yet-approved drugs. These laws’ enormous popularity indicates that a well-run campaign could generate similar support at the federal level for free-to-choose medicine.

Freedom should be part of the national debate on 21st century medical legislation. For that to happen, we need to give freedom lovers and chronic sufferers a seat at the table.

Every American should have the right to make informed decisions that can improve health or save lives. Freedom is not something to fear; it is the best route forward to a more innovative, efficient, and humane medical system.

Bartley J. Madden is a founder of Tomorrow’s Cures Today.  His website is www.LearningWhatWorks.com.
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This article was originally published by The Foundation for Economic Education.

Mr. Stolyarov Cited in The Heartland Institute’s Articles on E-Cigarettes, Medicaid Estate Recovery, and Doctors Withholding Treatment

Mr. Stolyarov Cited in The Heartland Institute’s Articles on E-Cigarettes, Medicaid Estate Recovery, and Doctors Withholding Treatment

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
May 17, 2015
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My remarks have been cited in three new articles from The Heartland Institute regarding health policy issues.

* FDA Moves to Regulate E-Cigarettes – Article by Matthew Glans

As a nonsmoker, I do not have any attraction to e-cigarettes, but I am opposed, on both moral and practical grounds, to any attempts to restrict them. This article by Matthew Glans cites my remarks with regard to recent FDA attempts to limit the availability of e-cigarettes to young people.

***

Excerpt:

FDA’s push to regulate e-cigarettes may invite unintended health consequences, says Gennady Stolyarov, editor-in-chief of The Rational Argumentator. Although many nonsmokers have absolutely no attraction to e-cigs or tobacco products of any sort, for some individuals, e-cigs may work as a substitute for traditional tobacco products or as a part of a transitional approach toward the cessation of smoking.

E-cigs lack the high levels of more than 40 carcinogenic byproducts found in traditional tobacco smoke, and they also minimize the harm caused by secondhand smoke, says Stolyarov. If somebody wishes to smoke, it is better for that person’s health and the health of others if the person smokes an e-cigarette.

***

* California Seizes Estates of Deceased Medicaid Patients – Article by Kenneth Artz

This article by Kenneth Artz cites my remarks in opposition to the Medi-Cal “estate recovery” program, whereby California Medicaid recipients’ homes can be expropriated from them upon their deaths.

***
Excerpt:

Stolyarov says the estate recovery program is an example of an extremely hardhearted government program that forces people to suffer because of family members’ prior debts or health care needs.

“A person should not lose the family home because one of his or her deceased parents had little or no income and took recourse to Medicaid to pay for treatments for terminal cancer or another terrible disease,” Stolyarov said. “This is especially true given the fact most Medicaid recipients have no easy way of knowing their estates are put in jeopardy when they sign up for the program.”

This situation also sends a cautionary message about socialized health care arrangements purporting to provide “free” medical care, Stolyarov says.

“There is always a cost, and there are always strings attached when any aspect of health care is centrally planned,” said Stolyarov.

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* Dutch Doctors Withholding and Withdrawing Treatment from the Elderly – Article by Kenneth Artz

It is essential to treat all medical patients as human beings with decision-making autonomy, whose lives are worth living. In particular, a decision to shorten life by forgoing medical treatment should never be made by anyone except the patient him/herself. This article by Kenneth Artz cites my remarks regarding a recent study in the Journal of Medical Ethics is that withholding treatment from certain patients (particularly the elderly) appears to be becoming a default decision by doctors in the Netherlands in many cases – rather than a decision deliberately opted into by patients.

While people ought to have a right to voluntarily refuse medical treatment, it is also the case that they should have the right to insist on any and every measure that could possibly prolong their lives, even if their chances are remote. If a patient wishes to try a treatment that has a remote chance of succeeding, but where the alternative is a certain death, that patient’s desires should not be overridden by a central authority or even a medical expert.

***

Excerpt:

It is extremely important to respect the liberty of patients to make choices regarding their medical care and the aggressiveness with which they want to fight for their lives, says Gennady Stolyarov, editor-in-chief of The Rational Argumentator.

“What is disturbing about the findings of this study is that withholding treatment from certain patients—particularly the elderly—appears to be becoming a default decision by doctors in many cases, rather than a decision deliberately opted into by patients,” Stolyarov said. “The culture of medicine should always be guided by the premise that taking action to save life is the default, and only the patient should be able to make a different decision.”

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Let Market Forces Solve Organ-Transplant Crisis – Article by Ron Paul

Let Market Forces Solve Organ-Transplant Crisis – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
July 16, 2013
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Ten-year-old cystic fibrosis patient Sarah Murnaghan captured the nation’s attention when federal bureaucrats imposed a de facto death sentence on her by refusing to modify the rules governing organ transplants. The rules in question forbid children under 12 from receiving transplants of adult organs. Even though Sarah’s own physician said she was an excellent candidate to receive an adult organ transplant, federal government officials refused to even consider modifying their rules.

Fortunately, a federal judge intervened so Sarah received the lung transplant. But the welcome decision in this case does not change the need to end government control of organ donations and repeal the federal ban on compensating organ donors.

Supporters of the current system claim that organ donation is too important to be left to the marketplace. But this is nonsensical: if we trust the market to deliver food, shelter, and all other necessities, why should we not trust it to deliver healthcare—including organs?

It is also argued that it is “uncompassionate” or “immoral” to allow patients or insurance companies to provide compensation to donors. But one of the reasons the waiting lists for transplants is so long, with many Americans dying before receiving a transplant, is because of a shortage of organs. If organ donors, or their heirs, where compensated for donating, more people would have an incentive to become organ donors.

Those who oppose allowing patients to purchase organs should ask themselves how compassionate is it to allow those people to die on the transplant waiting list who might otherwise have lived if they were able to obtain organs though private contracts.

Some are concerned that if organ donations were supplied via the market instead of through government regulation, those with lower incomes would be effectively denied access to donated organs. This ignores our current two-tier system for allocating organs, as the wealthy can travel overseas for transplants if they cannot receive a transplant in America. Allowing the free market to alleviate the shortage of organs and reduce the costs of medial procedures like transplants would benefit the middle class and the poor, not the wealthy.

The costs of obtaining organs would likely be covered by most health insurance plans, thus reducing the costs directly borne by individual patients. Furthermore, if current federal laws distorting the health care market are repealed, procedures such as transplants would be much more affordable. Expanded access to health savings accounts and flexible savings accounts, combined with generous individual tax deductions and credits, would also make it easier for people to afford health care procedures such as transplants.

There is also some hypocrisy in the argument against allowing market forces in organ transplants. Everyone else involved in organ transplantation procedures, including doctors, nurses, and even the hospital janitor, receives compensation. Not even the most extreme proponent of government-provided health care advocates forcing medical professionals to provide care without compensation. Hospitals and other private intuitions provide compensation for blood and plasma donations, and men and women are compensated for donations to fertility clinics, so why not allow compensation for organ donation?

Sarah Murnaghan’s case shows the fallacy in thinking that a free-market system for organ donations is less moral or less effective than a government-controlled system. It is only the bureaucrats who put adherence to arbitrary rules ahead of the life of a ten-year old child. It is time for Congress to wake up and see that markets work better in all aspects of health care, including organ donation, just as they work better in providing all other goods and services.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission.

Ending the War on Kidneys – Article by Sanford Ikeda

Ending the War on Kidneys – Article by Sanford Ikeda

The New Renaissance Hat
Sanford Ikeda
October 13, 2012
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The war on drugs can be dated to 1914, although the phrase “war on drugs” was coined in 1972 during the presidency of Richard Nixon.  The war on kidneys began in 1984.

It’s an oft told tale how drug prohibition has led to the promotion of organized crime, skyrocketing violence here and abroad, and a simultaneous increase in potency and decrease in safety.  (See here and here for examples.)  The solution to these perhaps unintended but predictable negative consequences is legalization.  So it is, too, with the sale of organs–kidneys in particular.

Meanwhile in Iran…

Since 1984, under the leadership of Senator Al Gore, the United States government has made it illegal to buy or sell kidneys and in so doing has effectively launched a “war on kidneys.”  Again, the consequences, unintended but predictable, are mostly if not wholly bad.

According to the Human Resources and Services Administration there are currently over 93,000 persons in the United States on the waiting list for a donated kidney.  Another source estimates that the list grows by 3,000 to 4,000 candidates a year.  Between 1988 and 2008 yet another source reports that the number of kidney transplants performed in the United States has ranged from 8,873 (in 1988) to a high of 17,091 (in 2006) for an average of about 13,847 per year.  While that may indicate a dwindling list of candidates, the reality is that the number who die each year still runs into the thousands.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services, for instance, claims that 18 people die each day waiting for a kidney donor.  That’s 6,570 deaths a year, and though their figure for the waiting list is considerably higher than the HRSA’s, they are in the same ballpark.

Kidney sales are legal in Iran, which offers a mix of private and government financing for kidney transplants.  Not surprisingly, waiting lists there are practically nonexistent (because of a larger supply), and so is the number of people dying while waiting for one.

Moreover, the incidence of black markets and of “medical tourism”—in which relatively wealthy foreigners travel to relatively poor countries to buy local kidneys or have other procedures performed at lower cost than in the United States—would probably fall, much as legalization of alcohol after Prohibition saw the downfall of speakeasies and bathtub booze.

What’s the Downside?

And although some estimate that the cost of a kidney may be as high as $100,000—which would make the total cost of the transplant procedure around $350,000—keep in mind that in addition to the value of the lives saved, the savings from unnecessary kidney dialysis is about $70,000 per person per year.  (See also this article from The Economist.)

Some argue that only the rich would get organs and only the poor would die giving them up.  Existing black markets and medical tourism already reinforce any such tendency by keeping prices high.  Would a free market in organs mean that the relatively poor would supply the relatively rich?  Perhaps.  More generally, would abuses occur?  Yes, they would, just as they do in other aspects of organ transplantation—such as in shabby hospitals or lousy medical care. Nobody suggests banning hospitals or doctors because some hospitals and some doctors occasionally screw up.  The cure lies largely in greater competition, the prerequisite of which is making organ sales legal.

Some are put off by the very idea of a market in kidneys, and many who aren’t might have some reservations about extending the list to other parts of our bodies.  Some of this can be attributed to a socio-ethical resistance to “commoditizing the human body.”  Perhaps this is a valid concern.  Interestingly, there is a legal market for cadavers, so it seems to be OK to pay for bodies but not for organs.

What about other organs or body parts?  The thing about kidneys—or eyes, ears, hands, and feet—is that removing them from our bodies does not entail death or, in the case of kidneys, any significant decline in the quality of life to the donor.  But what about selling something vital such as a heart, which would spell certain death?  That’s a difficult question that we may not have to settle just yet.  Let’s start with kidneys.

The Moral Alternative

I confess to being uncomfortable with the thought of selling off body parts. In the same way, I would never recommend to anyone, including myself, taking cocaine for fun.  But I would stop short of banning cocaine, and my qualms about selling body parts doesn’t keep me from staunchly supporting legalization, especially when a strong case can be made (as in this video by Professor James Stacey Taylor) that banning it would itself be immoral.  Selling body parts for money should be no more illegal than letting people make a living fishing for crabs on the high seas or give up their lives for a cause they believe in.  I may disapprove of a practice that harms the practitioner, but that by itself doesn’t give me the right to stop it, especially if it harms no one else.

Finally, today it’s considered perfectly legal and moral to allow husband A to give up his kidney to his wife B without compensation.  Or, if A’s kidney is not a match for B, it’s okay for A to donate to C, whose husband D could then donate to B.  That is like trading a goat to Jack to get a pile of bricks to trade to Jill for a sack of grain, which is what you wanted for your goat in the first place.  While the Internet and creative websites have made organ bartering of this kind easier than in the past, humans long ago developed another institution that gets the job done much more easily:  buying and selling for money.

Crimalizing activities—whether  drugs, prostitution, or organ sales—typically generates consequences that are usually unintended but, with the aid of some basic economic knowledge, mostly predictable.  After decades and over a trillion dollars spent and countless lives ruined, a summit of Latin-American politicians earlier this year declared that “the war on drugs has failed,” a sentiment echoed around the world.

It’s time that our government ended the war on kidneys, too.

Sanford Ikeda is an associate professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.