Gender and Medicine: Two Questions for Arkansas Legislators

As I write this column, Arkansas House Bill 1570 (the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act”) awaits the signature or veto of Governor Asa Hutchinson, having passed in the state House on March 10 and in the Senate on March 29.

If it became law, the bill would forbid physicians and other healthcare professionals to ” provide gender transition procedures to any individual under eighteen (18) years of age” or to refer such an individual to other healthcare providers for such procedures.

Rather than argue over the nature of gender, the validity of gender dysphoria and gender transition, and other complicated questions, I’d simply like to ask the legislators who passed this bill two questions.

Question Number One: Are  each of you medical doctors with expertise (preferably board certification) in any or all of the various specialties that relate to the matter?

Two such specialties that come to mind are psychiatry  and endocrinology.

My impression, based on a quick look at legislator pages, is that few, if any, of you can claim such expertise.

Yet you just passed legislation preemptively substituting your collective political judgment for the individual medical judgments of professionals who’ve put in many years of hard work — in school and in actual practice — to become qualified to make those judgments.

Question #2: Are the 135 members of the Arkansas General Assembly (100 representatives and 35 senators) the parents of all of the 800,000 Arkansans under the age of 18?

If so, congratulations on your remarkable prowess at going forth and multiplying.

If not, then you’re once again substituting your collective (and uninformed) political judgment for the individual (and, if not fully informed, at least more informed) judgments of those kids’ ACTUAL parents where the children’s needs are concerned.

Interestingly, I see that of the General Assembly’s 135 members, 103 are Republicans, and my impression is that most of you who are Republicans publicly style yourselves “conservatives.”

Whatever happened to the “conservative” Republican lines on business (best operated with minimal government interference or regulation — yes, medical practices are businesses) and family (e.g. the sanctity of parental authority in nearly every aspect of child-rearing)?

I’d ask what’s up with the 180-degree reversal where gender identity is concerned, but let’s be honest:  While “conservative” Republicans talk those two lines quite loudly, they seldom walk either line much at all.

I’d also say these legislators should be ashamed of themselves, but shame is obviously as absent from their makeup as respect for their constituents’ liberties.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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In Georgia, Republican Dumbness Whets Democrats’ Thirst for Victory

Photo by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels.
Photo by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels.

On March 25, Republican governor Brian Kemp signed a bill overhauling various aspects of Georgia’s election laws. Within hours, voting rights groups challenged the bill in federal court, claiming it is “clearly intended to and will have the effect of making it harder for lawful Georgia voters to participate in the State’s elections.”

Among the bill’s dumbest provisions: Making it a crime to “give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of … food and drink” to someone waiting in line to vote.

How dumb is that?

Dumb enough that I have to wonder if Republican legislators  put in there as bait, hoping for a judge of “Solomon splitting the baby” temperament to quash it while allowing something else just as bad to stand in “compromise.”

Also, dumb enough to energize Democrats and cost Republicans future elections.

If you’ve ever voted in an urban center with heavy turnout, you may have spent hours waiting in line (I know I have). Under the new Georgia law, anyone offering you a bottle of water in the heat of the day risks arrest.

Strategically, the provision makes sense in an incredibly dumb (for the fifth time) kind of way.  The urban electorate, especially the black demographic, tends to break heavily Democratic. By making it harder for those voters to vote, Republicans think, they can make it harder for Democrats to beat Republicans in elections. Obvious, right?

Just because something is obvious that doesn’t mean it will work out in practice.

Republicans making it harder for Democratic voters to vote will just make Democrats work harder to get their voters to the polls.

Republicans making it illegal to hand nice, cool bottles of  water to voters will likely push a few thirsty undecided voters into the Democratic column. If those voters hadn’t heard about it before election day, they’ll hear about it in line when Democrats hand out water bottles as a form of civil disobedience and dare the cops to arrest them for it.

Even if the courts don’t strike down the water ban, the sheer meanness of it is already costing Republicans votes. And not just in Georgia.

I don’t care much for either of these two major parties. In terms of principle and policy, they’re hard to tell apart. But when one party loves and cuddles voters, while the other fears and threatens voters, the latter party is on its way out.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Value, Cryptocurrency, and the State’s War on Both

Bitcoin (stock photo from http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com, CC0 license)
Bitcoin (stock photo from http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com, CC0 license)

In a March 24 Yahoo! Finance interview, as the price of Bitcoin hovered above $55,000, Bridgewater Associates chief investment officer Ray Dalio weighed in on  the future of cryptocurrency.  The two main takeaways from the interview are a little scary, each in a different way.

Takeaway Number One: What’s up with a  billionaire hedge fund manager who doesn’t understand the concept of “value?”

“Bubbles,” says Dalio, “are financial assets that have imputed value. It’s an asset that doesn’t have intrinsic value. It has imputed value. It’s whatever we think it is.”

With that sentence, Dalio is describing every financial asset — in fact, every thing of any kind — in the universe. There’s no such thing as “intrinsic value.” All value is “imputed.” Or, rather, all value is subjective.  What’s a thing worth? Whatever someone thinks it’s worth, period.

In the context of buying and selling things, a “price” is the meeting point between how little the owner is willing to give up a thing for and how much the buyer is willing to give up to get that thing. If there’s no such meeting point, the exchange doesn’t happen.

There’s no magic formula that says the Furby you found in an old box in the attic is worth $5, $50, or $500. If you won’t give it up for less than $501, it’s worth at least $500 … to you. If you won’t give it up for any price, it’s “priceless” … to you. If a potential buyer won’t pay more than $4.99 for it, it’s worth less than $5 … to him.

Ditto baseball cards, cabbage, tickets to see the Stones, gold, and Bitcoin. All of those things are valuable to different degrees, and for different reasons, depending on who has them and who wants them. So are US dollars, but the government would rather you didn’t understand that.

I’m not an investor, but if I was I’d think twice before handing my money over to a fund manager who doesn’t understand value.

Takeaway Number Two: Dalio thinks “it would be very likely that you will have [cryptocurrency] under a certain set of circumstances outlawed the way gold was outlawed.” Acquaintances in the know tell him the surveillance state has become sufficiently powerful and invasive to make such an edict stick.

That’s scary, too. Not because the government CAN successfully suppress cryptocurrency (it can’t), but because to the extent that it believes it can, it’s going to ruin lives trying to suppress competition against its monopoly on money.

On March 16, federal agents raided (among other places) the studio of radio show Free Talk Live. They abducted six people, including several friends of mine, on charges of  conspiracy to “operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.” Their “crime” was openly and publicly buying and selling cryptocurrency — which, by the way, the government says isn’t money.

“The Crypto Six” face many years in prison if convicted. They’re not the first victims of governments’ developing war on cryptocurrency and they almost certainly won’t be the last. You can (and should) help fund their legal defense at thecrypto6.com.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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