In this week's Liberty Update we highlight the potentially catastrophic threat of H.R. 3, the healthcare…
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Notable Quote: WSJ on H.R. 3, Biden & Pelosi's Dangerous Healthcare Bill

In this week's Liberty Update we highlight the potentially catastrophic threat of H.R. 3, the healthcare and drug price control bill that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are attempting to rush through Congress.  The Wall Street Journal helpfully offers further insight this morning on how H.R. 3 would threaten lifesaving U.S. pharmaceutical innovation and leadership, including on things like the Covid vaccines:

Companies that refuse the government’s price must pay a 95% excise tax on all revenue they generate from that drug in the U.S.  They’d also have to offer the government price to private insurers.  There’s no “negotiation” when a gun is pointed at your head.  A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that drug spending in the U.S. would…[more]

September 23, 2021 • 10:23 AM

Liberty Update

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Facebook Fails the Coronavirus Test Print
By David Harsanyi
Friday, April 24 2020
Government has some leeway in protecting public health, but it has no right, not even during an emergency, to work to preemptively prevent Americans from expressing their political beliefs.

A scattering of protests aimed at state lockdowns erupted across the country last week, sparked not by social distancing guidelines but by politicians' unilaterally dictating what products citizens are permitted to purchase in box stores, attempting to shut down drive-in Masses at churches and closing parks and beaches, among other ill-conceived and gratuitous intrusions.

Like any protest movement, this one is a mixed bag: Some of the protesters are acting in bad faith, some are idealists, and some are merely terrified of losing their livelihoods, their homes and their careers while waiting around for a government check that might never come.

In reality, the economy is going to reopen only when most people either feel safe enough to emerge from isolation or calculate that the risk of emerging is worthwhile. Arbitrary deadlines mean little. I suspect that the best way to temper anger surrounding the lockdowns would be for local leaders to stop acting like a bunch of petty authoritarians when the vast majority of citizens are already voluntarily doing what the government is asking to protect themselves.

Instead, officials are upping their game. The otherwise hapless New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was happy to eschew social distancing measures altogether until much too late in this crisis, has now created a hotline enabling denizens of his beleaguered city to rat out their neighbors to the authorities. Other mayors are deploying Chinese-made drones  fitting, I suppose  to catch those who violate government orders. "If these drones save one life, it is clearly worth the activity and the information they're sending," is a real thing that the mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey, told MSNBC.

Meanwhile, Facebook is reportedly removing the posts of those organizing anti-quarantine protests in conjunction with state governments, calling them "harmful misinformation."

There is some confusion over the exact nature of the social media giant's policy on self-censoring. This morning, it was reported that the company was removing all posts advertising protests against social distancing regulations, as well as posts deemed to spread "harmful misinformation" about the virus. The head of Facebook communications retweeted a CNN report that the social media company was consulting with governments in California, New Jersey and Nebraska to shut down the organization of "anti-quarantine" protests on its platform. Yet, after pushback, a company spokesperson clarified that Facebook was working with states to delete only posts advertising events that violate government orders and guidelines.

While I've long defended the right of social media companies to dictate and enforce their own speech codes without interference from politicians, it's difficult to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt here. Government has some leeway in protecting public health, but it has no right, not even during an emergency, to work to preemptively prevent Americans from expressing their political beliefs. If Facebook removed advertisements for protests at the behest of state and local governments  as initial reports suggested it might have  it would be a clear assault on expression, made all the more appalling by the fact that the protests were aimed at the very public policy that allows the state to undercut the ability of citizens to organize a demonstration in the first place. But even if Facebook was merely working with such governments to decide what millions of Americans can say to each other, that would be a big problem for both philosophical and practical reasons.

For one thing, we can't trust Facebook to competently weed out "harmful misinformation." Only last week, the company started deleting hundreds of thousands of "false" coronavirus missives, and then redirecting users to "accurate information" offered by the propagandists at the World Health Organization, which allowed this pandemic to mushroom into a crisis to begin with by wasting precious weeks echoing the deadly misinformation campaign of the Chinese Communist Party. Instead of touting such a group as a reliable source of information while crippling the ability of largely powerless Americans to voice their concerns over public policy, Facebook would be better served treating political content dispassionately and allowing users to curate their own experiences  even at the risk of upsetting government officials.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review and the author of the book "First Freedom: A Ride Through America's Enduring History With the Gun." 

Quiz Question   
What is the single deadliest disease epidemic to the U.S. population in history?
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Notable Quote   
"WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Eight months after President Joe Biden's inauguration, his job approval rating has fallen six percentage points to 43%, the lowest of his presidency. For the first time, a majority, 53%, now disapproves of Biden's performance.These findings are from a Sept. 1-17 Gallup poll that was conducted after the U.S. military evacuated more than 120,000 people from Afghanistan. The United…[more]
—Megan Brenan, Gallup
— Megan Brenan, Gallup
Liberty Poll   

Pres. Biden is seeking IRS authority to monitor every American financial transaction exceeding $600. Is there any legitimate government reason you can think of for such micro-monitoring of individual financial transactions?