It is increasingly the case that Federal law enforcement agents in the employ of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (the DEA) are inserting themselves into the practice of medicine by establishing the limits of certain pain control medication which physicians may prescribe for their patients. By what education and training are those agents qualified to participate in the determination of how much pain medication an unquestionably suffering patient requires to allow them to at least approach a normal level of functioning? I would suggest that the appropriate person to determine the level of pain medication required by a patient is the physician. Individuals experience pain from virtually identical injuries in myriad different ways and at myriad different intensities. IMHO, for a patient with pain resulting from physical injury, the individual’s level of pain is in some significant part unique and dependent upon what is likely a number of variables. This must make the determination of medication type and dosage a matter primarily for the prescribing physician, admittedly involving some degree of trial and error with feedback from the patient. I see almost NO place for the DEA to be involved in the process.

Any readers of this blog post who think all individuals respond to pharmacological substances in anything approaching an identical (or even near-identical) manner, are woefully ignorant of individual variability. To cite but one example, my own experience shows at least one source of variability. I smoked (mostly cigarettes, but at times a pipe) from the ages of 17 to 47, typically smoking one or more packs of unfiltered cigarettes during that period. At the age of 47 I had a mild myocardial infarction and I decided to quit smoking altogether. I expected to experience some sort of withdrawal symptons. However, while in the hospital a friend dropped off a book from a prominent cardiologist who mentioned in one brief passage that he had been surprised by the number of his patients who smoked who discovered by quitting that they were not addicted to nicotine at all. Rather, the cigarette  (or pipe, or cigar) turned out to be a prop in a ritual by which they resolved internal tension. Upon reading that passage, I immediately drew an imaginary cigarette to my mouth, inhaled and then exhaled and found that the sensation I had always interpreted as “needing a cigarette” was, in reality, simply needing to take a lungful of fresh air and exhale. I had always been a person who tended to intense concentrated focus on whatever I was doing. The result of that pattern of behavior was that I often forgot to breathe deeply until after the period of concentrated focus was completed. In the Hospital at that point I had quit smoking because I recognized the actual source of the perceived need,–namely the need to replace the carbon dioxide laden air in my lungs with some fresher air containing fresh oxygen.

My overall conclusion is that the DEA needs to get out of the space between the physician and the patient, unless there exists unimpeachable evidence of unethical conduct on the part of the physician, one example of which would be selling controlled substances to a drug dealer.

There seems to be an almost unbelievable lack of awareness in today’s world as to what abortion is. Perhaps some clarification is in order.

Abortion consists fundamentally, of the voluntary termination of the life of an unborn infant human being, by another person. If the unborn human infant were already born, that voluntary act would be neither more nor less than murder!

Which immediately prompts a question: What is it about the difference between an unborn infant and one that is born which allows the life of the former to be terminated without legal consequence for the person(s) performing the abortion, but not that of the latter?

The answer is that there is no such difference, absent wholly immoral and irrational legislation that makes such a distinction possible. Abortion kills the most innocent –and vulnerable– persons in our midst, defenseless infants. To allow such laws to exist and to be enforced, marks us as a nation that is as barbaric as virtually any other nation in the history of humanity. May God have mercy on the souls of the legislators who enacted the U.S. laws making abortion legal in this nation.

And even those of us who don’t support abortion are often unknowingly complicit in giving indirect support to abortion via the purchase of products from companies that support Planned Parenthood from the profits made on our, and others, purchase of those firms goods and/or services.

I don’t know how anyone who reads this post will respond to the information contained in this blog post, but as for me and my family, we will serve God, and we will not knowingly purchase goods or services from the following firms each of which has a current record of donating to Planned Parenthood (data current as of September 2015):



American Cancer Society

American Express



Bank of America

Bath & Body Works

Ben & Jerry’s




Deutsche Bank





Fannie Mae




Johnson & Johnson

La Senza

Levi Strauss

Liberty Mutual


March of Dimes


Morgan Stanley







Susan G. Komen



United Way


Wells Fargo


H – E -B

In his blog article today, Austrian school economist Detlev Slichter offers a very cogent argument that reinforces my opinion that:

  1. the U.S.A. is facing what is most likely an economic setback that will be comparable in intensity, and probably scope, to the Great Depression of the 21st century., and,
  2. that the likelihood that we can avoid such a setback, absent divine intervention, is becoming vanishingly small, irrespective of which of the two major candidates wins the Presidency in November.

I wish I were able to see an alternative future, but I am not. Read the whole article there.

Journalist and author Robert Neuwirth had some interesting remarks in a talk at TED about the “informal economy”. It seems that not a few corporations, including some large international ones, are more interested in meeting consumers demands for their products than in enforcing their intellectual property (IP) rights. They have recognized the scale and power of markets, which suggests that truly free markets are not the cause of our economic woes, at least when they are operated under the Rule of Law and the strict enforcement of real property rights, freedom of association, and freedom of exchange.

H/T: Jeffrey Walker (via FB)

On the Saturday of this year’s Labor Day weekend, Andrew F. Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., parent corporation of franchise restaurant’s Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., was a guest on the Tom Sullivan Show (Fox Business Network). Mr. Puzder is also a senior economic adviser with Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign. To me, the most interesting aspect of Mr. Puzder’s comments to Mr. Sullivan concerned the costs of PPACA to his corporation. The facts he presented, with the estimated costs of PPACA provided to him by the corporation’s healthcare consultant (the nation’s largest such firm), were as follows:

• CKE’s expenditures on healthcare coverage for employees in its most recent year was about $12 million.
• During that same period, CKE spent about $8.8 million on new restaurants, the sole significant means by which CKE, and its franchisees can grow the size of their businesses and hire more people.
• Each new restaurant employes about 25 people.
• A significant number of franchisees operate more than one restaurant as a part of their business.
• CKE has franchisees who would like to open additional restaurants as part of their business.
• CKE’s consultants best estimate of the first year’s increase in healthcare costs under PPACA will be about $18 million, or in other terms, more than twice what they spend in one year on new restaurants.

To fully appreciate the impact one needs to be aware that PPACA requires any non-exempted employer who employs “more than fifty full-time equivalent employees” (parentheses in original) either (a) to provide comprehensive healthcare coverage (as defined by the Secretary of Health & Human Services) to its employees, or (b) to pay a per-employee and per-day fine, if it does not provide such coverage. Summarized details of PPACA definitions and employer penalties can be found in this Congressional Research Service report.

To put the cost of current healthcare in perspective, one also needs to have a sense of the average amount paid by private industry employers for the insurance costs of their employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report for March 2012 indicate that the employer cost in that sector averaged 7.7% of total compensation, with variations among occupational categories ranging between 6.5% and 9.9%.

From the foregoing, and assuming that CKE’s consultant is correct about the order of magnitude of increases to employer costs, it should be readily apparent that PPACA (Obamacare) will likely ensure a serious prolongation in the duration of the current recession, and could conceivably be the trigger for a descent into economic depression.
PPACA is, quite simply, an unaffordable creation by a group of people (i.e., our elected Federal representatives) who have no understanding of simple arithmetic. Mrs. Pelosi has been granted her wish—the bill has been passed and signed into law by our sitting President, and we are now beginning to find out what is in it. If it is allowed to stand, the United States will become, in the foreseeable future, a second (if not third) world nation.

On 26 April 2012 HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a self-described Catholic (bio here), testified before Congress about the Affordable Care Act (more commonly referred to as Obamacare). During that testimony

a number of questions were put to her by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC, 4th Dist.) concerning a statement she had made with regard to that act’s controversial Healthcare Mandate, to wit [emphasis added]:

this decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised abouit religious liberty. I believe the proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.

Addressing myself directly to the character and content of her answers, which I can only assess as demonstrating a cavalier approach to the formulation of what she terms an “appropriate balance” in determining who may be exempted from the essentially absolute requirements of the Mandate (recall that nearly all employers will be required to provide all of their female employees with employer-paid coverages in their healthcare benefits package that includes “female reproductive services” which are (a) not intended to prevent a disease or unhealthy medical condition, and (b) to the provision of which the employer may have sincere and strongly held moral objections.) I am thus led to the question I have posed as the title in this post.

And that question is, “Just how competent and/or qualified is a Cabinet Secretary who does not seek out all available counsel as to the legality and constitutionality of a decision that has such far-reaching implications as requiring a third party to pay for a service which that third party may reasonably see as a grave evil (abortion and abortifacient drugs,1 to cite two examples).
Read the rest of this entry »

My objective in writing this blog is to counter an erroneous idea I have encountered, and anticipate I will continue to encounter, on a variety of Catholic and other Christian blogs. Namely, that being Austro-libertarian in one’s political and/or economic principles (as opposed to being a member of the Libertarian political party) is axiomatically incompatible with being a faithful Catholic who is loyal to the teachings of both the universal and special magisteria of the Catholic Church.

The error in question arises from a number of misunderstandings. One of the misunderstandings arises from the confusion of poorly catechised Catholics who believe, whether explicitly or implicitly, that the teachings of the Holy Fathers embodied in specific encyclicals on particular secular subjects are infallible, despite the fact that such teachings are neither given ex cathedra nor on matters specifically of faith or morals. Other errors arise from a fundamental misunderstanding of the varieties of libertarianism, many of which are in conflict with Catholic and general Christian teaching. It is my hope that in writing about the application of the principles to which God has led me over more than four decades of individual study, I will both refine the results of my own personal actions and words in living out my faith, and simultaneously encourage others to examine how their alternative principles comport with what Christ asks of us, with the result is that, not only I, but anyone who reads or comments here, might actually increase their understanding of how the world works in the arena of economics and politics, and of the ways in which we might better live out the teachings of our Lord.

In pursuing the above purpose I intend to address from an Austro-libertarian Catholic perspective, issues of liberty, economics and politics that are in the public eye. I welcome any contributions from readers that are civil and respectful.