Government is Force: The Uncomfortable Truth People Wish to Avoid.

It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.

—Ayn Rand

     Our society speaks of things like social justice as if it were a victimless activity. As though giving to someone deemed “less fortunate” entails only the act giving without the taking. Where then does this magical manna come from if not from another citizen? Clearly it comes from someone who is rich or simply has what some deem to be “too much,” right? Let’s assume it does, is the moral righteousness of theft based on the size of the victim’s bank account? If that is in fact the case, should not most white collar crimes be considered righteous?  Or, for example, if you carjack a Maserati are you not merely taking what is not deserved by the owner of that car?

       The rich are hardly the only ones who are victims of our entitled society; anyone who falls into some sort of minority can find themselves targets of our burgeoning tyranny of democracy. If the limits on individual rights to property are up for a vote, then where do the limits of the state lay? In a society which justifies activity by a majority (more aptly, plurality) opinion, no limits exist; instead, the law is a shifting tide dictated by mob behavior and “popular” ideas. I can take your money, your property, and (more poignantly accurate) your very life as long as I can convince enough of my fellow citizens to direct the government to forcibly remove those things from you at the point of a gun.

          You say that no one is taking another’s life, but only their money; excess money at that? How is it exactly that we earn money? Time! Time of our life spent producing, thinking, building, growing, and teaching; and by endorsing the government confiscation and redistribution of people’s money we are very much endorsing the taking of people’s lives; one hour at a time. You cannot ask another for $10 without considering that the money you ask for represents a portion of their life spent earning (assuming they have earned that money). Likewise, you cannot empower government to separate them from that same $10 by force without considering that government has taken the time that money represents from them.

      The cold reality that people wish to ignore is that if that person gets paid $10/hr. then your government has exercised your desire to steal that hour from them; forcibly take those minutes, those breaths, and those heartbeats from them as if they rightfully belong to you or someone else. That activity relegates that producer to the role of slave and you take on the role of slave owner. What gives us the right to prey on our fellow citizens? Nothing! Still, we try to justify it with absurd notions of social justice and fairness. Those who are comfortable voting the confiscation of other’s money are no different than the pimp on the street corner preying on their hookers or the mobster running a protection scheme on businesses. Try as we may to justify our actions as assistance or some altruistic heroism; we are merely common thieves who ply our trade at the ballot box because we lack the courage to steal from others in person.

 

What Exactly is Liberty?

         However intuitive an idea that freedom may seem, it appears that it is a rather difficult one to completely conceptualize. In fact, most people claim to want to be free, but are vehemently resistant to that which comprises liberty. So, what does it mean to be free or, more appropriately, what does it mean to live in a free society? This is, I believe, the ultimate question of societal development; and one that has been quite elusive for most generations of humans.

      James Madison noted in 1792 that “Although all men are born free, and all nations might be so, yet too true it is, that slavery has been the general lot of the human race.” Madison’s words were quite spot on in this observation. Regardless of the commonly held belief that slavery was, perhaps, a uniquely American and specifically white tradition, the truth is that humans have always sought to place their fellow man in servitude. However, servitude comes in many forms, albeit the economic form is the most focused upon, it is not the only type of servitude. The servitude I wish to focus on in this brief writing is that of the social form.

          Both sides of the ideological “aisle” believe that they have the key to engineering a more perfect society…that if they could only make people behave the way they believe is right, then society could finally be righteous and operate in perfect harmony. Whether these social engineers operate from an elected position, a bureaucratic one, a pulpit, or an educational institution is irrelevant. What is relevant is their fundamental belief that if other individuals are not free to act or behave of their own free will, society will be better off and subsequently so will said individual. This is not freedom, nor is it liberty. Instead it is servitude. It is the idea that one person should have a claim on another’s life.

     Imagine for a moment the liberal progressive who stands in staunch support of a woman’s right to make choices for her own body while simultaneously holding that people should not be able to determine how it is best to employ the fruits of their own body’s labors (which is their earnings). Now take the traditional conservative who believes that guns do not kill people; however, they can seem quite certain that casinos make people gamble, liquor stores make people into drunks, and prostitutes make people have sex. Is this likeness in the subversion of one’s fellow citizens unique to liberals or conservatives…or perhaps it is a Republican and Democratic phenomenon? No, it is not unique. It is, however, a common human behavior.

        To truly discover and enjoy freedom, we must all be able to accept one fundamental truth: freedom is uncomfortable at times. If there does not exist a point in time in our society in which each of us are made uncomfortable by the actions of our fellow citizens then freedom has eluded us. For example, there is no need for a First Amendment to protect popular speech—by definition popular speech needs no protection. We must accept that people have the right to say stupid things, believe absurd things, and act in ways which we might not condone or endorse. Additionally, as free people we always reserve the right to call their words, ideas, and actions stupid.   We do not, under any definition of a free society, have the right to legislate their words, thoughts, or actions out of existence; lest we hold it acceptable for them to do the same to us once the political winds shift.

Three-fifths compromise…was it truly racist?

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

             The preceding passage is from Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and gives a guideline for how both the number of representatives in the House of Representatives and taxes shall be apportioned. The underlined portion is of particular importance for our topic as it has been the source of much historical misinformation.   It is likely that what you learned about this part of the Constitution while in high school is incorrect, or at least rather misleading; then again, much of what you learned about the Constitution is highly inaccurate. The common reaction or presumption about the so-called three-fifths compromise is that it was a tool used to control slaves in the United States and is evidence that white Americans thought that blacks were only 3/5 human. There was a segment of society that thought such an absurd thing; however, this portion of the Constitution is not indicative of it. In fact, anyone that is a direct descendant of someone bound in slavery ought to be truly thankful that this concept made it into the Constitution.

            I know this idea is counter to what our popular culture and politicians lead us to believe of the framers of the Constitution; but, on the bright side, it is hardly the first time politicians have lied or obfuscated reality. We must first understand that at this point in the Constitutional Convention there was significant concern that the union might yet dissolve making the former colonies a veritable smorgasbord of resources and increasing production for the European powers to come and dine from. Furthermore, there was existing contention between the northern states and southern states regarding the institution of slavery and its moral repugnance (my description). However, many at the convention were well aware that an attempt to end the practice in the Constitution would result in a fracture in the union and certain conflict both with outside powers and between the states themselves. Since protection, or national security in today’s parlance, was the primary impetus of the union, it was imperative that the slavery question be held to another day. Otherwise, slavery would have continued in the divided territories anyhow.

           On the other hand, it was important to the north that slavery not be allowed to remain a perpetually growing enterprise and that southern states would not be able to drive the congressional boat because they could count slaves for representative reasons without any intention to allow them to vote–or engage in any other sort of self-destiny. The three-fifths rule was not a new concept designed for the Constitution and some in the northern states were concerned the three-fifths number was too high. In fact, some southern delegates briefly attempted to argue for the counting of their slaves as whole persons. I will give you a second to take another look at that last sentence. The slave owners wanted the slaves to count as whole persons for the purpose of representation while the anti-slavery northern delegates would have preferred a downgrading. If racism was the motivator for this provision, would not the tables have been reversed? Of course they would have.

            So, why did the anti-slavery north support counting slaves as less than a whole person while the pro-slavery south wanted them counted completely? Power; specifically political power, which likely would have allowed slavery to last long beyond when it was eradicated in America in the 1860s. If the slaves of the south would have been counted as whole persons the balance of the House of Representatives would have fallen significantly toward the southern states and would have likely caused the practice to perpetuate and spread throughout the new territories. The south was low on population (non-slave) compared to the north, but the volume of slaves pushed their numbers well beyond those of the north. Some in the north held concerns that even with a three-fifths rule the south would just import more slaves as a way to gain control of the House; and, because of the Electoral College, probably the presidency in most cases.

            The three-fifths compromise actually helped stem the spread of slavery into the west through legislative domination. It seems reasonable to assume that with a large legislative mandate created by a complete counting of slaves in the south, the practice would have had enough power to live well beyond the 1860s. Regardless of the accusation by those who profit from the “racial” divide; there is no inherent racism in the three-fifths clause. If someone tells you there is you should either question their knowledge on the matter or their motives. Perhaps we should consider what Dr. Martin Luther King had to say about the framers of the Constitution and their glorious experiment in liberty:

“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence (Yeah), they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed to the ‘Unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’”

Medical marijuana in Florida: confronting the scare tactics

           I am a Florida resident. There has recently been a successful effort to get a proposed state constitutional amendment, amendment 2 legalizing medical marijuana, on the ballot which will be voted on during the 2014 general election.  This has sparked significant controversy in the state as to what the precise results of this initiative will be and speculation as to what the ultimate intent of gaining passage of medical marijuana is.  I will make the effort to confront popular opposition and hyperbole in reference to this topic which I find to be largely scare tactics.

                Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and potential 2014 presidential candidate, stated earlier in the year that legalization of medical marijuana will hurt the state’s “family friendly” reputation.  This is an interesting observation that smacks of both ignorance of prescription drugs and detachment from medical conditions that can be helped with the use of this treatment.  First, perhaps Bush and others are unclear as to the wide array of opioids and other controlled substances which are readily available for medicinal use?  Maybe Mr. Bush and his contemporaries–which share his trepidation of medical use of a drug like marijuana–has not heard of morphine, oxycodone, methadone, codeine, hydromorphone, fentanyl, and Xanax; all drugs which can be safely stated as being much strong than marijuana.  I guess I have not heard of all the families boycotting Disney and Universal Studios when Orlando has a burgeoning drug problem with hydrocodone (a prescription drug) being one of the most popular illegal recreational choices.

                Speaking further on the attempt in Florida to “create a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire” Bush continued by stating that “allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all these efforts (Adams, Reuters, 2014).”  I suppose Jeb Bush has also not heard that there is no such thing as a marijuana shortage in the state.  In fact, our government, in all its wonderful glory cannot even keep drugs out of prisons; but, let us make certain that a cancer or epilepsy patient doesn’t get their hands on it…it will be the end for sure!!!

                A local state representative, Rep. Broxson, stated recently that legalization of medical marijuana is just the first step towards legalizing it recreationally; an assertion I have heard several times from state legislators.  Let us re-examine the list of controlled substances already listed above, which have all been legal (medicinally) for several years.  Then I would like someone to tell me which of those drugs (or their street alternatives, i.e. heroin) have been legalized because sick people are allowed to use them for medical reasons?  Hold on…you mean the answer is zero?  How can that be?  Medical use is clearly the gateway towards legalization…right??  Hmmm, perhaps not.

                Finally, Mr. Broxson thought it necessary to mention that we should not legalize such an option because it is against federal law.  We must keep in mind that Mr. Broxson fancies himself a constitutionalist, so my question is where in the US Constitution do the States give the federal government the power to regulate such things?  (Hint:  it doesn’t).  The states created the federal government with a certain amount of power that was limited, not the other way around.  I think it would be refreshing to hear people that claim to be students of the Constitution and champions of State’s rights not cowering to the claims to power lawlessly made by the federal government.  It is possible that if true defenders of the Constitution had been around 80 years ago, our political climate may be much more inclined towards actual justice and a moral (not to be confused with use of the law for legislating morality) use of the law than it is today.

                To deny people the use of a drug that can make a difference in a significant chronic or critical condition is unambiguously immoral; and borders on cruelty.  Those of us who claim to champion liberty and the American ideal should exercise caution in using the government as an implement of force for controlling behavior that might be contrary to our own beliefs and mores; particularly when that use of force can result in unnecessary harm to another individual.  Keep in mind that if we buy into the (anti)logic that keeping marijuana illegal for medical use because of the risk of people using it illegally for recreation is not appreciably different than the argument that guns should be illegal so criminals don’t hurt others.

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby: The great lie that birth control has become somehow illegal

        An interesting, although not surprising, situation has developed in the wake of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. whereas liberal-socialists have entered a new and even more irrational line of propaganda.  In short, the Supreme Court determined that closely held businesses cannot be forced to pay for coverage which includes post-fertilization birth control (e.g. the morning after pill) under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  Instead of engaging in any kind of honest assessment of the outcome of the case, the socialists have launched a campaign wrought with lies in an attempt to make the mindless populace believe women’s birth control has all the sudden become either illegal or under the direct control of employers.

          Many times the propaganda machine will only exaggerate reality (albeit in a fantastic way); however, they have reached a new low in creating a pseudo-reality which is not remotely representative of fact.  Somehow the idea that if someone else wishes to not pay for something, people have been “denied access” to it is one of the most absurd things I have ever heard.  That is what this is all about.  It is not whether an employer is controlling health decisions (as they are clearly not); it is whether people should be able to coerce others to pay for (or provide) items they wish to consume.  The only access to anything being denied is unfettered access to an employer’s bank account.  Let me attempt to make this as clear as possible:  “you do not have the right to other people’s stuff!”  This would be called theft and it is illegal for a good reason.  Political plunder is no less immoral than piracy, gang activity, or white collar crime.

          This brings to mind a passage written by Frederic Bastiat in The Law:

“…Unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions.  And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters.  The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose.  The law has been used to destroy its own objective:  It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights [life, liberty, and property] which its real purpose was to respect.  The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others.  It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder…The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes:  stupid greed and false philanthropy.”

         Both of those reasons are at play here.  “Stupid greed” compels people to feel entitled to something which they have no rightful basis for coercing out of others; in this case some forms of post-conception birth control.  “False philanthropy” drives those who encourage this idiocy (politicians) and those who support such claims.

          Additionally, we seem to ignore the reality that pregnancy is not some sort of mystery.  While there seems to be little consensus on when, precisely, humans became specifically aware that sex was the cause of pregnancy, it does seem to be rather clear that humans have known for a very, very long time (like several thousand years at least).  Therefore, I would argue that since pregnancy is totally avoidable for anyone who cannot afford birth control (which also means they cannot afford children, by the way) then the argument that birth control must be supplied or people will get pregnant only is evidence that there are a significant amount of stupid people.  These people’s primary problem, particularly those who are adults, is not a lack of birth control; it is instead the inability to compare the costs of a condom to the cost of a child.  Of course, with the nanny state and its willingness to engage in theft from one citizen to buy votes…hmmm, I mean help others; I guess kids really can be profitable and perhaps they have done the math.

Why the government cannot fix healthcare.

     There is a significant obstacle facing government in any attempt at “fixing” the costs of medical care:  reality.  Yes, reality, that often loathed principle of life for which we cannot escape yet seem to try tirelessly to ignore.  Obamacare seeks to repair healthcare through government subsidy, an increase in the pool of insured (which may lower the cost of health insurance, but not the cost of medical care), and coercion of providers to lessen their own fees.  However, it apparently fundamentally ignores the two primary factors that actually dictate prices in a market.

        I am writing of supply and demand, which represents Adam Smith’s principle of the “invisible hand” that guides the market and allocates goods in a world of unlimited wants and limited resources; in other words, that is how scarcity is dealt with.  Rationing is an undeniable fact of life and is the basis for all prices.  Government’s attempt to control the health market without addressing scarcity of supply and an overabundance of demand is doomed to failure from the word go.  Additionally, transferring the costs of health care through subsidy does not make it any cheaper, it only transfers those costs from direct medical payments to increased tax liability or to increased deficit spending; and amounts to more of a Chris Angel illusion than a solution.

        What about the fines for those who do not purchase healthcare you might ask?  Well, to state it simply, they are largely irrelevant.  The most recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections show that approximately six million people (and counting) will incur fines of approximately $1500 each (FYI:  that could be you), amounting to somewhere between $8 and $9 billion in revenues to the government.  There are two main problems with using the fines as a way to offset increasing prices.  First, government subsidies for insurance will undoubtedly exceed the fines.  Second, people who did not purchase insurance previously so they could save money will likely pay the fine as opposed to obtaining insurance (which would be significantly more expensive) and still will not pay their bills when they go to the hospital; thus maintaining the “free rider” status quo (in Pelosi parlance).

        Another important aspect to consider is that, as fines to employers are cheaper overall than actually carrying insurance, there is likely to be an increase in the number of uninsured, which previously were covered at work and thus more people receiving subsidies for insurance, or incurring fines for that matter (once again, this could be you).  This does not even factor in the likelihood that those employers who are on or near the threshold requiring them to provide insurance or pay the fine, which would result in a loss in income for the business owner (and thus a decrease in “revenues” to the federal government), will cut back employees (unemployment), trim some back to part-time (under-employment), or be hesitant of growing their business (an even more stagnant job market).

        All of these negatives…and pricing has not even been addressed.  Ironically, the only potential part of Obamacare that might affect pricing, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) (or, death panels in Palin parlance), is denied to be a rationing board.  If it is a rationing panel, we have a bureaucratically operated health lottery for old people (and, at some point, probably poor people through Medicaid); if it is not, the disparity between supply and demand will remain, or worsen, and costs will not change (downward anyway)…or will they?  It is actually irrelevant if Democrats are right and it is not a rationing panel; if it is a rationing panel prices will be curbed by decreased access (i.e.-less people getting care, which I thought they were trying to remedy…?).  However, pricing will be affected if they are absolutely correct and it is not a rationing panel, but a direct price controlling board:  overall costs will likely stay the same at best.  Now, if a price ceiling is imposed, that will restrict the number of providers wishing to enter the market (hospitals, doctors, nurses, etc.) and reduce the number of manufacturers wishing to develop and produce goods for health care (medical equipment, drugs, etc.).  We can remedy this, though, so all is not lost; let us reduce the obstacles to entry into those markets making it cheaper and easier to get “qualified” providers and manufacturers.  Do not begin rejoicing yet, that means the guy who was previously going to go into golf course management (with a 17 on his ACT) can now, for just a few dollars and years more, become a doctor.  Scared yet?  By this action we have reduced pricing by reducing quality (and probably increasing mortality) This must not be the case though as we have been assured quality will not suffer, so that must not be the plan either, right?

        There are three ways you can actually reduce the cost (and thus pricing) in healthcare:  1) increase supply through a reduction in obstacles to entry into the market (accomplished through reduced admission requirements into med school, increasing maximum entry quotas into med school, and establishing more med schools, etc. etc.); 2) we can reduce demand by letting more people die without care (Kevorkian care, anyone?  I do not think any of us like the sound of that…); 3) freeze the development of new technology in medical care (technology gets cheaper over time, particularly when you remove the need to mark-up to cover future research and development).  In fact, if we would have frozen medical technology one hundred years ago, costs would be next to nothing now; of course, bleeding would still be the primary cure for most ills.  On the “bright side” this would have maintained the “promised” costs of Social Security by freezing mortality for people to a point in which almost nobody would have lived long enough to collect it.

        Another fallacy proposed by both parties is that reducing fraud in Medicare will reduce the overall cost; however, this will only reduce the cost to government as pricing will have to increase to individuals to cover lost fraudulent revenues to providers.  This amounts to another cost sleight of hand, the alternate equivalent to that of subsidizing insurance.  Ultimately, if we are all dedicated to reducing the cost of healthcare, which would you choose?  Rationing does exist in the market, and that will not be eliminated through the government control of it unless quality or technology is influenced to address pricing.  Collectively, we must decide whether we will pay more for more — or wish to pay less for less; that is an undeniable fact of life in any market.  Whether you are a Republican or Democrat is irrelevant because neither is being honest about the problem because the voting public values fantasy over facts; ultimately, there is no solution that maintains technology and quality of service, increases access, and reduces costs.

        But, before we tinker with the most technologically advanced healthcare system in the world, perhaps we should try out these theories on the bubble gum market which will at least not result in the death of people so that politicians may try to “muddle through” to a solution which is patently unrealistic.  If the new “Obamagum” plan worked as they say Obamacare will, gum prices will go down (as will the overall cost of gum nationally), more people will be chewing gum, and there will be vastly better increases in gum technology.  If they are wrong, gum will not increase in quantity (relative to the increase in demand), variety of flavors and manufacturers will decrease, and the overall cost of gum and the gum market will increase.  Sounds like a safer experiment to me.  Please, let us refrain from killing people to just to prove that central planning and socialism still does not work!  Fair enough?

The fallacy of class-warfare: An illusion designed to keep people in want.

Poverty: are we treating the disease or just the symptom?

Poverty is an all important topic in America today.  In fact, there has been considerable conversation about it since LBJ declared “war on poverty” in 1964; however, beyond the typical rhetoric that poverty is bad and people cannot be left to die in the street nothing is really seriously discussed.  If one argues that entitlements are ineffective, inefficient, and just plain theft they are castigated as being hateful, greedy, or insensitive.  But, with all the spending which has taken place over the last 50 years, what do we really have to show for it?  Are we spending money trying to cure the symptom instead of the disease?  It seems likely with government’s proclivity towards throwing good money at bad “solutions” that we are ultimately ignoring that which causes poverty; all so feelings are spared and political cover is well preserved.

Entitlements are necessary?  Let us look at the numbers.  President Lyndon B. Johnson, in all his glory, declares war on poverty in 1964.  In 1968, the first publication of a poverty report by the Census Bureau is published; at the time the poverty rate is approximately 13% and the beginning estimate from 1950 is 22%. Good work LBJ?  Not so fast, Scooter.  The poverty rate had been descending steadily before the “war on poverty” began and continued its descent until a trough in 1969.  However, if you just cannot help but want to give LBJ credit for some of that decline, fair enough—from the time the “war” was declared to the trough saw a reduction from a level of approximately 17% down to the 12% level.  Hoorah for government spending!!!!!  So, after 50 years of enormous and blossoming entitlement spending to eliminate poverty what is the poverty rate now?  Drum roll, please—more than 15%.  Hmmmm…that was rather anti-climactic wasn’t it?

I have it!  Maybe poverty is up, but I bet all this socialism has closed the income gap!  Wrong again, Scooter! Since the late 1960s, income inequality has been rising quite impressively. So, why is it that after trillions of dollars having been spent in the name of poverty; are the poverty numbers really not improved since about 1967? Could it be that in our fervor over poverty we have misdiagnosed the condition? I suspect that, outside of some people who are legitimately (yes, I said it) handicapped, people often continue to be poor for the same reason rich people tend to get richer: they keep doing precisely what it was that made them that way in the first place.

Our society not only accepts less effort and apathy with regard to personal responsibility; we incentivize it.  If bad behavior is without consequence, you can be assured it will be repeated; if you give out cash prizes for it, it will really be repeated.  Don’t believe me? Test it out on your kids.  Every time your child hits another child, give them a candy bar or some other reward; I bet your kid will be hitting other children with lightning speed and efficiency in no time at all! Reverse your reward system and dis-incentivize that behavior and it will (perhaps less quickly) disappear…unless your child is a sociopath then you should have just taken my word for it.  In essence, that is what we have done as a nation; we have told people that not trying is good enough…that working on excuses can be equally or more profitable than actual production.  We have lied to ourselves and to those who feed at the government trough trapping them in a slavish-type relationship with government.  There is no success in a lack of effort nor can this situation continue in perpetuity.

Sadly, by subsidizing a lack of effort we relegate those who truly cannot earn for themselves to a life of poverty and squalor.  Handicapped people often live in poor conditions, so lazy people can comfortably watch Jerry Springer and Maury Povich.  But, we all know that is not the real reason…the real reason is so the aristocrats that loom over us from D.C. can continue to earn votes in exchange for other’s wealth.  Yet, as long as they have “good intentions” their failures, waste, lies, and theft will be excused.  Unfortunately, those in the ruling class do not have to live out the consequences of their actions; that is suffered most severely by the poor they claim to champion.  This makes the leaders we choose the most despicable kind of parasite.