Where Do Rights Come From?

A reader writes: “My non-religious Libertarian friends completely disagree with my view that we are endowed with unalienable rights by our Creator. That being said, do you agree with that? (Right to be free, right to live) and if so, how can I defend my position to someone who feels rights can only come from a state?”

If your friends don’t believe in a Creator, then of course they aren’t going to believe that rights are bestowed by a Creator. That gap is unbridgeable as long as one of you is a religious believer and the other is not.

But I don’t understand why your friends think the only remaining option is that rights come from a state. There are other options, too: (1) there is no such thing as rights; and (2) rights exist, but are not divinely bestowed. They would be odd libertarians indeed to think people have no rights until a group of people wearing funny hats declare that they do, especially given that your friends would now need to explain how, if there is no such thing as rights prior to the state, these people get the right to establish a state and start barking out commands in the first place.


Governor Mary Fallin: No Health Exchange for Oklahoma

Today, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius indicating that the Sooner State will not create a state insurance exchange under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. She wrote, in part:

“After careful consideration, I have today informed U.S. Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius that Oklahoma will not pursue the creation of its own health insurance exchange. Any exchange that is PPACA compliant will necessarily be ‘state-run’ in name only and would require Oklahoma resources, staff and tax dollars to implement. It does not benefit Oklahoma taxpayers to actively support and fund a new government program that will ultimately be under the control of the federal government, that is opposed by a clear majority of Oklahomans, and that will further the implementation of a law that threatens to erode both the quality of American health care and the fiscal stability of the nation.”

“Despite my ongoing opposition to the federal health care law, the state of Oklahoma is legally obligated to either build an exchange that is PPACA compliant and approved by the Obama Administration, or to default to an exchange run by the federal government. This choice has been forced on the people of Oklahoma by the Obama Administration in spite of the fact that voters have overwhelmingly expressed their opposition to the federal health care law through their support of State Question 756, a constitutional amendment prohibiting the implementation of key components of PPACA.”

Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey noted that refusing to implement exchanges in multiple states is a positive first step. “The feds depend on state cooperation to make these huge programs work. If a large number of states refuse to set these exchanges up, it puts and increasing burden on the federal bureaucracy, one I’m not convinced they are really prepared to deal with. Hopefully, it will lead to more aggressive action to block implementation down the road,” Maharrey said.

Maharrey noted that Fallin’s statement included something that other governors have been leaving out of their rejection letters to Sebelius, their state constitution.


Scott Walker: No Health Exchange for Wisconsin

On Friday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius indicating that the Badger State will not create a state insurance exchange or be involved in a state-federal partnership under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In Wisconsin, we have been successful in providing health insurance coverage to over 90 percent of state residents without the creation of an exchange and absent federal regulation. We have a long history of being a leader on health reform issues, and with more guidance and greater state flexibility, our competitive market system would have ensured health insurance coverage to the most vulnerable Wisconsinites without federalization of our market. Unfortunately, operating a state exchange would not provide the flexibility to meet our state’s unique needs or to protect our state’s taxpayers.

Therefore, after much consideration and outreach with citizens across the state, and in the best interest of the taxpayers of Wisconsin, we have determined Wisconsin will not develop a partnership or state-based exchange

Tenth Amendment Center Communications director Mike Maharrey said Walker’s concern with the lack of state control gets at the root of the problem.


North Carolina to Make Decision on Obamacare Healthcare Exchange


Under the mandates of Obamacare, states are required to implement healthcare exchanges, which are online health insurance shopping centers for state residents and small businesses.  This is where they will sign up for a healthcare plan, in accordance with the dictates of federal healthcare law.  They can declare one of 3 options for these exchanges –   a pure federal plan (HHS sets it up), a state-federal plan, or pure state plan.  Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Kathleen Sibelius, has set deadlines for each of the options.  For example, the deadline for states who want to run their own exchanges (pure state plan) was Friday, November 16 (but extended by Sibelius to December 14).  For those states opting for the state-federal plan, the deadline is February 15, 2013.

Our NC State Legislature, as I understand it, had considered the state option and in fact, it passed the House.  But it failed to pass the Senate after an independent report looking into the feasibility of the option concluded that it could not be done.  There would not be enough time to set it up and get it running here in NC.  And that’s where things stood.  It was anticipated that the healthcare bill would be repealed with a Romney-Ryan victory and we wouldn’t have to be concerned with its implementation.  But that wasn’t what was written in the stars.  The re-election of President Obama has put Obamacare back at center stage.  And so, despite a deadline of February 15, Governor Beverly Perdue went ahead on Thursday, November 15 and sent a letter to Sec. Sibelius declaring that our state of North Carolina will opt for the hybrid state-federal healthcare exchange plan.  She claims the new state legislature will have the ability to stick with that option or decide that they want a pure federal plan.  What does newly-elected Governor Pat McCrory think?   (see News & Observer article below)

The states are faced with a dilemma, including North Carolina: Whether to acquiesce and accept that this bad bill and unconstitutional Supreme Court decision is “the law of the land”, or, to keep protesting and challenging the government’s authority to force its will on the individual states even when the area it wishes to legislate is one reserved to the states?   And so, that is being played out at the state level, through the opting out of the healthcare exchanges and the consideration of nullification bills and state constitutional amendments.  On November 6th, the people of 3 states voted to add an amendment to their state constitution nullifying the federal healthcare Individual Mandate –  Montana, Wyoming, and Alabama.  Florida narrowly failed to pass its Obamacare nullification amendment – by only 1% of the vote.  [See:  http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-laws-and-actions-challenging-ppaca.aspx]

So far, 17 states have opted out of the state healthcare exchanges mandated by Obamacare –  Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas (of course!!), South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.


Votes could signal end of cannabis prohibition

By: Paul Armentano, Deputy Director NORML, appearing originally in on the Daily Caller

Voters in Colorado and Washington made history on Election Day. For the first time ever, a majority of voters decided at the ballot box to abolish cannabis prohibition.

In Colorado, 55 percent of voters approved Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment that allows those age 21 or older to legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to six cannabis plants in the privacy of their home. In Washington, 55 percent of voters decided in favor of I-502, which removes statewide criminal penalties for adults who possess up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use. Longer term, both measures seek to enact regulations governing the state-licensed production and sale of marijuana for adults.

Yet, even in the short term, both votes are game-changers. For starters, both measures provide adult cannabis consumers with unprecedented legal protections. Until now, no state law has defined cannabis as a legal commodity. Some state laws do provide for a legal exception that allows for certain qualified patients to possess specific amounts of cannabis as needed. But, until now, no state in modern history has classified cannabis itself as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults.