December 18, 2008

Making My Case For NAFTA Trade Dispute

As I am about to submit a formal notice of Arbitration based on a number of arguments. I thought I would bring back a piece I wrote earlier on the steps leading me to actually filing my claim more then anything it is a protectionism claim against American health companies that want to enter the Canadian market. When Canadian publicly traded companies can acquire and build surgical facilities throughout the US unhampered by any US government agency. There is something fundamentally wrong with this one-sided trade dispute that has been going on for so long.  


Arguments and Theories

By Melvin J. Howard 

 Deep thinking what does that mean we all use the word logic but what does the word mean? It is the science or study of how to evaluate arguments and reasoning. Logic is a way to allow us to distinguish correct reasoning from poor reasoning. Logic is important because it helps us reason correctly without correct reasoning, we don’t have a viable means for knowing the truth or arriving at sound beliefs. I have a personal interest in logic and how the mind works. Because of a disorder that I have had since adolescent I have to write constant notes to myself on daily activities to keep my bearings. 

Logic is not a matter of opinion when it comes to evaluating arguments; there are specific principles and criteria, which are used. If we use those principles and criteria, then we are using logic. This is important because sometimes people don’t realize that what sounds reasonable isn’t necessarily logical in the strict sense of the word. The ability to use reasoning is far from perfect, but it is also our most reliable and successful means for developing sound judgments about the world around us. In general, our ability to survive depends upon our ability to know what is true, or at least what is more likely true than not true. For that, we need to use reason. I had a very good friend whom was my lawyer he passed away a couple of years ago. His passing was a terrible lost to me personally and professionally. We were roughly the same age we had some of the same ideas about life. But we were the polar opposites when it came to style he was downtown I was uptown. But we clicked he knew how my mind worked better then my ex-wife that tells you how much time we spent together. My relationship with him lasted longer then my marriage. 

But what Dave gave to me was more important then any legal advice he taught me how to think in terms of logic and reason. Of course, reason can be used well or it can be used poorly and that is where logic comes in. One of the things he taught me was never to make any decisions on emotional bases. For example when ever I got news that I did not like from him. Whether I did not get the deal I wanted or we had to delay a particular item. I would not have none of it I would instruct him to take legal action ASAP. Well Dave caught on to my emotional state of mind so he would send any news that I might not like at 4:50 p.m. on Friday’s  then he would leave his office. To late to respond to anything so it left me steaming all weekend long. Well what do you think happened it gave me enough time to really look at the issues involved and allow me to do some critical thinking? Years after he finally told me what he was doing and we both laughed about it he got me.  This is what happens to people who come in to contact with the court system for the first time. They will go into court very emotional, thinking that I will just tell my side of the truth and I am done. There are a number of variables that have to be taken in to account. The Greek philosopher Aristotle is generally regarded as the “father” of logic. Others before him discussed the nature of arguments and how to evaluate them, but he was the one who first created a system for doing it. Whatever the subject matter logic is applicable anywhere that reasoning and arguments are being used. If we don’t apply the criteria of logic to our arguments, we cannot trust that our reasoning is sound. 

When a lawyer makes an argument for a particular course of action, how can that argument be properly evaluated without an understanding of the principles of logic? When a CEO makes a pitch for a product, arguing that it is superior to the competition, how can we determine whether to trust the claims if we aren’t familiar with what distinguishes a good argument from a poor one? Here is where we have to use critical thinking, critical thinking is an effort to develop reliable, rational evaluations about what is reasonable for us to believe or disbelieve. Critical thinking makes use of the tools of logic and science because it values skepticism over gullibility or dogmatism, reason over faith, science of pseudoscience, and rationality over wishful thinking. Critical thinking does not guarantee that you will arrive at the truth, but it does make it much more likely than not you will. 

Open Your Mind

A person who wishes to think critically about something like politics or religion must be open-minded. This requires being open to the possibility that not only are others right, but also that you are wrong. Too often people launch into a frenzy of arguments apparently without taking any time to consider that they may be mistaken in something. Of course, it is also possible to be too “open-minded” because not every idea is equally valid or has an equal chance of being true. Although we should technically allow for the possibility that someone is correct, we must still require that they offer support for their claims if they cannot or do not, we may be justified in dismissing those claims and acting as if they weren’t true. Even if you have clear logical reason for accepting an idea, you also probably have emotional and psychological reasons for accepting it. Reasons which you are not fully aware of. It is important though, that you learn to separate the two because the latter can easily interfere with the former. 

Don’t Jump 

It’s easy for people to quickly go to the first and most obvious conclusion in any sort of dilemma, but the fact of the matter is the obvious conclusion isn’t always the correct one. Remember all those TV crime dramas that you thought you had wrapped up in 15 minutes only to be wrong at the end of the show. Unfortunately, once a person adopts a conclusion it can be difficult to get them to give it up in favour of something else after all, no one wants to be wrong, do they? One of the most important things to watch out for in arguments is the influence of bias or vested interest and every human has them. Both are variations on the same sort of problem, although there are differences that require mentioning each separately. Bias occurs any time that facts are interpreted in a way that unreasonably favours one position over another; vested interest is a cause of bias in which one will personally and specifically benefit if people adopt a particular position. Ultimately, some sort of bias is always going to exist we all have our passions, desires, and preferences. We wouldn’t even be debating particular issues unless we cared about them in some way, so the very nature that we are participating in a debate or discussion is itself evidence of some sort of bias. 

Having a bias, however, is not the same as allowing one’s reasoning and arguments to succumb to bias. In critical thinking the person makes a sincere effort to recognize and acknowledge their biases, ultimately taking them into account when weighing evidence and logic so as to ensure that those biases don’t unfairly tip the scales in an inappropriate direction. It is also important to listen when someone points out possible biases because, quite frankly, we often aren’t good at noticing when we have biases that influence our thinking. A vested interest is a particular cause of bias, which occurs not simply when one unreasonably favours a preferred perspective, but in fact favours a perspective, which provides them with specific benefits. An obvious example of vested interest would be anyone who is paid to promote a product in commercials. 

There are also many ways in which a person can have a vested interest which aren’t quite so obvious. A person might, for example, discount allegations of unethical or illegal conduct against a company they have stock in. They might also favour any reports that improve the image of their case on the assumption that anything, which makes their theory look better, must therefore make them look better as well. You can also identify backwards-looking examples of vested interest because people seem to have a strong interest in defending decisions that have already been made i.e. the wrongly convicted no one wants to be wrong. Similar behaviour can be seen when it comes to political candidates or political parties voted for in the past. Example some people are upset they did not get the candidate they voted for in their party. So they will vote for the opposite candidate in the other party for spite this not logical! So as I go into the new year I go into it to knock down the walls of protectionism in Canada’s health care system which has proved time and time again is a failed policy. We want fair treatment that is what this is all about. 

December 06, 2008

Free Health Care/Private Market Health Care Both Does Not Exist

Melvin J. Howard speaks


Free health care the Canadians think they have it, free market health care the Americans think they got it. Guess what both have it wrong. Since challenging Canada ‘s health care system under NAFTA. I have been somewhat surprised of the comments mostly from the uninformed about just what this debate is all about.  But I suppose I should not have been that surprised when the public gets its information from sound bites. In war Propaganda was used very successful to sway the public. Even before a single bullet was fired, Medicare lobbyists play a good game of this type of propaganda. From self appointed watchdog associations such as friends of Medicare, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, Canada’s Nurses voice, the various labour unions and in the US Physicians for a national health program. I have become their poster boy for opening the door to the big insurance and health care companies. If that is the case so be it but it is the polar opposite of what this is all about. Fortunately not everybody feels the way the Medicare lobbyist do as written by Lucretius.    


Canadian Health Care

Article by Lucretius

Socialized medicine in Canada continues to enjoy wide public support. The conventional wisdom asks: why not? Patients can go to their physician or to the hospital when they need to. They can arrange to see a specialist or make an appointment for whatever kind of hospital surgery they require. And they have access to all of these services without having to pay out of pocket.

Waiting for a few hours to see the doctor or just a few measly weeks for surgery seems a small price to pay in return for free medical services on demand. Even if there are growing waiting lists for medical services, governments across the country can always be pressured to fill in the gaps with increased funding.

This popular superficial view of Canada’s health care system as the national "sacred trust" and the envy of the rest of the world does not reveal how poorly informed people really are about how health care is funded and delivered. In fact, if Canadians knew as much as they think they do about the economic and moral workings of Medicare, they might not be as enthusiastic as they are about their cherished right to "free" health care.

Instead, most citizens remain supportive of the government health care monopoly because of decades of relentless propaganda by politicians and interest groups extolling the virtues of health care socialism. Many Canadians strongly feel that equal access to medical services is and should continue to be the moral guiding force for a successful health care system. They also hold firm to the notion that a free market health care system would result in American-style health care characterized by profit-hungry physicians and hospitals out to rip-off their patients. These myths are completely false and must be decisively refuted if private health care reforms ever receive the full support of the Canadian public.

In an unhampered free market, patients have to take full financial responsibility for medical payments, usually through a combination of out of pocket payments and catastrophic health insurance. According to their individual needs and preferences, the patient voluntarily engages in a mutual exchange with their health care provider. Of course, there will always be a few patients without enough money to pay for their health care needs on the market, which suggests that there are inequalities that the market has failed to rectify.

Public health care supporters firmly believe that if every Canadian does not have the ability to pay for their own health care, then no Canadian should, even if they have the money. A decade ago, Quebec economist and libertarian activist Pierre Lemieux aptly described the morality behind the Medicare system:

Opponents of private health care…morally oppose the idea that some individuals may use money to purchase better health care. They prefer that everybody has less, provided it is equal.

Equal access to medical services regardless of one’s ability to pay requires the state to use its coercive power to create the equality of conditions that voluntary exchange fails to provide. The private property rights of patients, doctors, nurses and other health care providers are replaced with government monopoly control over the means of production. For patients, this means they lose the right to pay their provider for prompt medical treatment when they truly need it. Physicians, as the primary health care provider, lose their right to charge what patients would be willing to pay them for their services and must bill the government for patient visits based on fixed fee schedules with little regard for the depth of service provided.

Making equal access the highest moral standard of a health care system may sound like a worthwhile pursuit, but to make it a reality requires the sacrifice of individual liberty and private property rights. These rights are lost with the involuntary taxation of one person to provide health care for another. The money taxed away from citizens through government coercion is money that cannot be freely spent by the person being taxed. Such is the price all Canadians are forced to pay for their "free" access to physicians’ offices and hospital rooms. The late Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises understood full well the dire consequences of this kind of government control:

The substitution of economic planning for the market economy removes all freedom and leaves to the individual merely the right to obey. The authority directing all economic matters controls all aspects of a man's life and activities. It is the only employer. All labor becomes compulsory labor because the employee must accept what the chief deigns to offer him. The economic tsar determines what and how much of each the consumer may consume. There is no sector of human life in which a decision is left to the individual's value judgments.

Aside from the popular moral arguments in favor of equal health care access, Canadians are constantly told that health care for profit can only mean higher costs and poorer quality of care. As part of their opposition to Bill 11, the newest health care reform legislation passed in the province of Alberta allowing for the existence of government-regulated private surgical facilities, the lobby group Friends of Medicare state that "patients rarely say "no" to services recommended by their doctors. Under Bill 11, doctors working in private facilities will have a clear incentive to pressure patients to purchase services that are not medically necessary."

What the self-appointed "friends" of health care seem to be saying is that patients are so dependent on their physician’s advice that there is no way to judge if they are getting the best quality care or being ripped off. The underlying assumption here is that the government must step in to ensure that doctors are not exploiting their ignorant patients (sounds a little Marxist doesn’t it?).

But who is the sick party that needs a physician’s attention: the individual patient or the collective Canadian population? The nation of Canada does not suffer from good or bad health, individuals do. Individuals are the entities that get the symptoms, get sick, need surgery, and eventually die. If this is undeniably the case, then why does the government insist on regulating and controlling what patients can buy from their doctors? The patient must take the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the doctor does not charge them for frivolous medical goods. However, if the government decides that the patient does not bear the ultimate responsibility the patient’s role is still one of slave to the public health care system.

Of course the patients are not the only slaves in this matter, their physicians are too. According to the Canada Health Act, the federal legislation that governs the way health care is delivered, the government does not allow physicians to charge patients the market price for their services. Since doctors are restricted in what they can charge, they will naturally take advantage of other ways to boost their incomes. The reality is that doctors work out of self-interest just like everyone else. If health care in Canada operated in a free market environment, the doctor would have every incentive to give accurate medical information because the patient is the direct payer. Since the patient would be responsible for payment, they would be able to freely to shop among competing physicians and clinics to find the best deal available.

The alternative to the current Canadian emphasis on an egalitarian theory of justice would be a political ethic based on individual liberty and property rights. The right of every person to liberty emerges as a protection of their freedom to use their minds toward purposive action. Individuals must make use of the resources around them and labor in order to live and to be productive. This means they necessarily have a right to own themselves, the product of their labor, and ultimately, to own and use their property as they see fit.

Individual rights to life, liberty and property enable people to pursue their interests using whatever means at their disposal so long as they do not interfere (through violence or the threat of it) with the ability of others to do the same. According to this interpretation of individual rights, someone who pays a doctor or a hospital for immediate medical treatment is not violating the equal rights of others in society to act in the same way, even if they cannot afford to pay.

Both patients and health care providers clearly ought to have the liberty to use their private property in their own best interests. Not only should they possess these rights, they should not feel guilty about exercising them. American philosopher David Kelley elaborates on this point further when he states the following:

The rights of liberty are paramount because individuals are ends in themselves. We are not instruments of society, or possessions of society. And if we are ends in ourselves, we have the right to be ends for ourselves: to hold our own lives and happiness as our highest values, not to be sacrificed for anything else. 

I think many people are afraid to assert their rights and interests as individuals, afraid to assert these rights and interests as moral absolutes, because they are afraid of being labelled selfish. So it is vital that we draw certain distinctions. What I am advocating is not selfishness in the conventional sense: the vain, self-centered, grasping pursuit of pleasure, riches, prestige, or power. Genuine happiness results from a life of productive achievement, of stable relationships with friends and family, of peaceful exchange with others. The pursuit of our self-interest in this sense requires that we act in accordance with moral standards of rationality, responsibility, honesty, and fairness. If we understand the self and its interests in terms of these values, then I am happy to acknowledge that I am advocating selfishness.

Medicare lobbyists are often quick to point out that if private, for-profit medicine ever reared its ugly head north of the border, it would mean the "Americanization" of Canada’s health care system. The truth of the matter is that the American health care system is hardly a shining example of free market capitalism at work. In fact, the American and Canadian health care systems both have something in common: the majority of a patient’s health care expenses and a doctor’s fees for service are covered by a third party, not by the patient.

In the US, private health insurance companies are subjected to many federal and state regulations requiring them to cover risks and health expenses normally covered by patients out of pocket. Austrian economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe offers a cogent explanation of the deep-seated problems with private health insurance in America today:

Because of legal restrictions on the health insurers' right of refusal--to exclude any individual risk as uninsurable--the present health-insurance system is only partly concerned with insurance. The industry cannot discriminate freely among different groups' risks. 
As a result, health insurers cover a multitude of uninsurable risks, alongside, and pooled with, genuine insurance risks. They do not discriminate among various groups of people which pose significantly different insurance risks. The industry thus runs a system of income redistribution--benefiting irresponsible actors and high-risk groups at the expense of responsible individuals and low risk groups. Accordingly the industry's prices are high and ballooning.


Third-party coverage of a patient’s health care expenses and a physician’s fees has resulted in skyrocketing health care costs in the United States. Instead of being limited to covering major hospital and surgical expenses, health insurance is improperly used as prepayment for all of a patient’s medical expenses. Since patients covered by health insurance pay less for health care out of pocket, they have less incentive to spend wisely and shop for health providers offering the best deal. In order to control costs, health insurers and health maintenance organizations have had to cut back on the level of medical services. It resembles the way Canadian provinces are forced to place funding limits on their health care budgets in the face of excess patient demand for physician and hospital services.

It seems clear to Canadians on both sides of this debate that an American system of private health insurance is nothing to strive for. Yet despite the high costs of medical treatment in the US, some Canadians are still willing to travel to clinics there and pay for immediate medical attention. Not all Canadians are willing to wait their turn anymore. When a person is suffering terribly or dying and is willing to pay for surgery or a diagnostic test, worrying about their fellow patients’ inability to pay is the last thing on their mind.

Canadians are now starting to ask themselves the hard questions, if they haven’t already. What will happen to me if I get seriously ill? Will I receive the operation I need as soon as possible or will I have to wait weeks, even months for it? Am I willing to go to the United States and pay for immediate treatment? If so, why am I not allowed to pay for it in Canada?

With the high level of waiting lists for major surgeries caused by the rationing of government provided health care services, socialized health care in Canada is in deep trouble and has been for many years. This is because it is illegal for health care providers and patients to contract in a free market that respects their individual property rights. It is also the result of a long-standing attitude that government should provide every Canadian citizen the right to demand and receive health care services without fully compensating the providers of that care.

Most Canadians assume that health care is a good that can only be efficiently provided by the government. They have no real idea what a genuine free market in health care would look like. The only information people receive about the prospects of private, for-profit health care is from their politicians and the Friends of Medicare. These groups have falsely indoctrinated Canadians to believe that private health care is immoral, unfair to the poor, in violation of the Canada Health Act, and synonymous with the American health care system.

Radical steps must be taken by governments at all levels to solve the problems in Canadian health care today. But before radical health care reform ever happens, Canadians need to change their attitudes about free market health care. They need to understand that health care for profit means that doctors and hospitals acting in their self-interest only profit when they satisfy the needs of their patients, not when they rip them off. They must also realize that the US health care system is not what true private, for-profit health care is all about.

If individual liberty became the overriding political value in Canadian society, the debate over health care would see a monumental shift in focus. Instead of debating about how governments can best ensure equal access to health care, the individual rights of Canadians to use their property (i.e. their money) to provide for their own health needs would become the primary concern of policymakers and the general public.

The vast majority of people may not be ready for or even want a purely private system of health care. Whether Canadians like it or not, their individual right to buy health care directly from doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers is the true key to their future health.


December 03, 2008

Mutiny on the bounty scratch that Mutiny in Canada

Its time t' take o'er this government by force Ya lily livered scurvy cur! This be a mutiny Ya bilge rat whut deserves the black spot! Its goin' t' be a rough storm ahead
Ya horn swogglin' scurvy cur!  


By Melvin J. Howard

 UPDATE : The Prime Minister of Canada has shut down Parliament until January 26. If there has not been a date set for consultations or a settlement is not reached at the end of that time. We will submit our claim to Arbitration under Article 1120 Chapter 11 Arbitration Procedures.


OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper shut down Parliament on Thursday in an unprecedented attempt to keep his government in power, fending off a no-confidence vote he was all but certain to lose. 

Less than two months after winning re-election, Harper successfully asked the unelected representative of the head of state for the authority to close down Parliament until Jan. 26, hoping to buy enough time to develop a stimulus package that could prop up the economy. 


Article 1120: Submission of a Claim to Arbitration

1. Except as provided in Annex 1120.1, and provided that six months have elapsed since the events giving rise to a claim, a disputing investor may submit the claim to arbitration under:

(a) the ICSID Convention, provided that both the disputing Party and the Party of the investor are parties to the Convention;

(b) the Additional Facility Rules of ICSID, provided that either the disputing Party or the Party of the investor, but not both is a party to the ICSID Convention; or

(c) the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.

2. The applicable arbitration rules shall govern the arbitration except to the extent modified by this Section.

Well Canada seems to be doing some infighting which could form a new Government this after an election held 2 months ago. Can anyone understand now the problems I faced building the largest surgical center in Canada. The constant bickering and fighting sends mixed signals not only to the markets. But also investors, physicians, vendors, investment banks etc. As a result I have sent a letter to the Government Of Canada requesting that Negotiations and Consultations take place as soon as possible under Article 1118 of NAFTA. As I am not sure who will be the sitting Government I want to get this process underway. To tell you the truth I am a little confused about the political system in Canada I thought if you win the election you win the election apparently not so. As far as I am concerned I don’t care who the sitting government is just get them in front of me. As told by the Wallstreet Journal it could be a long dragged out fight.


By NIRMALA MENON Wallstreet Journal


OTTAWA -- Canada's minority Conservative government, re-elected less than two months ago, could be toppled in the next few days if Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn't make changes to an economic statement that has all three opposition parties up in arms. Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on Friday offered a series of spending cuts to keep the budget in surplus. Two of the three Canadian opposition parties are negotiating to form a coalition government, which the third has agreed to support, if the government is defeated in a confidence vote in the House of Commons on the government's updated budget forecast, which the opposition parties said doesn't address the financial crisis. The plan also would eliminate some subsidies to political parties.

Former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Ed Broadbent, former leader of the New Democratic Party, are brokering a behind-the-scenes deal, according to a person familiar with the matter. The two parties plan to ask Governor General Michaëlle Jean to allow them to govern as a coalition if the Conservative government is defeated. The Quebec-based separatist Bloc Québécois will support them, but won't be part of a coalition. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's economic and fiscal update, delivered on Thursday, contained an array of spending cuts to keep the budget in surplus. The projected surplus for the current fiscal year ending in March 2009 was pared to 800 million Canadian dollars (US$650 million) from C$2.3 billion predicted in the C$241.9 billion budget last February. In the following two fiscal years, the surplus is now expected to be just C$100 million each year, down from C$1.3 billion and C$3.1 billion respectively.The plan didn't contain measures to stimulate an economy that Mr. Flaherty acknowledged was in a recession. The government said it was reviewing spending to save C$4.3 billion in the next fiscal year and as much as C$11.3 billion over four years after that.The opposition parties said the plan fails to address the growing financial crisis in Canada. But their ire was especially stoked by a controversial plan to eliminate about C$30 million a year in taxpayer subsidies to political parties. Although the Conservatives stand to lose the most, they attract more contributions from individual donors, unlike their opposition rivals that depend to a greater degree on the subsidies.

A spokesman for Mr. Harper said Friday that the prime minister is prepared to stand his ground on the political subsidy issue.