First of all, let me be perfectly clear from the beginning so that there are no misunderstandings. You absolutely do not, under any circumstances, have a right to healthcare. As an extension, you do not have a right to birth control. You do not have a right to food, medicine, clothing, shelter, education, a cell phone, a car, or internet service.

You have a right to your own person and, by extension, to your life, liberty, and labor. Your labor, which is representative of your life because of the time and effort you put into it, transforms into your property, which you thus also have a right to.

THAT’S IT.

It is not possible to have a right to healthcare, birth control, food, or phones, or anything else that is the product of SOMEONE ELSE’S labor. To assert these kinds of “rights” is to enslave the producers of these goods or services, and is thus morally repugnant.

Simply wanting something, or even needing it, is not enough to claim a right to it. We can talk all day about the things we should do, in our daily lives, to succor the needs and wants of our fellow man. We can speak and write emphatically about the fact that no one should be without healthcare, or food, or shelter, but again, that is not the same as “a right”, and it is not the same as a law. The moral drive behind SHOULD is vastly different than the threat of force behind LAW mandated by government.

In other words, everyone has the right to be a “bad person”, so long as their actions do not deprive anyone of their life, liberty, or property. It is not the proper role of government to legislate a society into “goodness”, whether it’s through mandating “free” healthcare or through an imposed definition of marriage. One of these is thought by many to be morally upstanding, and the other to be a moral outrage, but they are in fact both symptoms of the same grievous error: the attempt of a central government at social engineering, at the cost of depriving its citizens of their natural rights.

Once again, the political pundits and talking heads have drowned this issue in sensational rhetoric, affected outrage, and poisonous labels. We hear it’s about a woman’s right to choose, about crusty old men trying to control them through their reproductive health. Those mean conservatives want us to regress fifty years, those godless liberals want us to forsake our religious beliefs. All of this is far beyond the point. The federal government has no authority to require your employer, or anyone else, to pay for any of your healthcare.. It’s irrelevant how much you want it; it does not matter how wonderful it would be if healthcare could be [truly] free for everyone. Envisioning some kind of a utopia and then using government force or the threat of force to coerce your fellow man to follow that vision, is wrong. It’s just plain wrong. Those who have tried to deprive us of our natural rights, to whatever end, have always pleaded the best of intentions.

I have yet to hear a justification for these supposed “rights”, that does not rest solely on “should”. People should have healthcare. People should not have to lose their house because they got cancer. Young adults often can’t afford their own coverage, so insurers should continue to cover them. All women should have birth control, if they want it.

All of these things are true, but they have nothing whatever to do with the law. The only just purpose of the law is to protect your rights (which, remember, are only life, liberty, and property). Everything else is tyranny because virtually everything else involves depriving one group of these rights in order to transfer them to another group.

Even if we were to agree on all these points, we would still be left with a society afflicted by high healthcare costs and with many people who do not have access to healthcare.

So what to do?

The first thing to do is to get government out of the healthcare business altogether. Putting aside the moral arguments against it that I’ve already made, I’ve never heard anyone praise any government agency as efficient and effective, so it mystifies me that people think the government is even capable of dealing with healthcare. It is no coincidence that the cost of healthcare has skyrocketed since the introduction of federal third-party payers. When you introduce a third-party payer, you remove all downward pressures on prices. Neither the provider of the service nor the recipient have any motive to engage in the sorts of behaviors that normally drive prices down. It is truly disturbing to hear people claim that the free market has driven up healthcare costs. What free market? Maybe there’s a healthcare free market in Mexico, or Barbados, or some such so, but certainly not here.

Any third-party payer is covered by this rule, whether it’s government or private insurance. It’s also no coincidence that the cost of plastic surgery has fallen significantly in the past few decades. Any new, cutting-edge procedure may start expensive, but quickly goes down in value, in much the same way as high-tech gadgets. Why would non-elective healthcare be exempt from this trend? Why is it that health insurance is supposed to cover everything, even the routine? Car insurance does not cover the cost of oil changes. House insurance does not cover the cost of a new water heater. If they did, the cost of these types of insurance would also skyrocket. Heath insurance as we know it today is not insurance at all. If it were, it would cover only unforeseen, high-impact events, like severe injury or long-term diseases. Now, the government is making it harder or even impossible to buy such coverage (usually called “high-deductible” plans).

The impact of a government-funded third-party payer is, however, much greater than private insurance, because the government has access to certain things that private insurance companies do not, things that remove any remnant of normal price controlling forces: taxes and a printing press.

Where is the motivation to lower prices? Not only is “someone else” footing the bill, but that someone else has infinite money! Or, at least, they think they do.

The end result of soaring healthcare costs was always a mathematical and economic inevitability.

Amazingly, we are told that introducing more government into the mix will make it better. Increasing the presence of this mammoth, third-party payer, even mandating that everyone participate in it, is somehow going to reduce costs. This would be a good example of a mathematical impossibility.

I can’t tell you how sad it makes me that so many people believe it. The results are not going to be an improvement. Instead, it is going to make things much, much worse.

Remove government from the business altogether, free hospitals and clinics from the noose of regulations and paperwork, and return insurance to what it properly is, a protection against unforeseeable catastrophes, and you will see the cost of healthcare plummet like a lead ball.

Nonetheless, you would still be left with people who cannot afford it. What to do?

It’s called CHARITY. It’s actually been around for a long time.

If your house is blown over by a hurricane, who would you rather see come to your aid, the Red Cross, or FEMA?

What is more effective in addressing human catastrophes overseas: the International Red Cross, Peace Corps, and Doctors Without Borders? Or government backed foreign aid?

With very few exceptions, private always does it better, and everyone knows it. And not only do private charities function more effectively than government mandated aid, but best of all, they don’t violate anyone rights! From the workers who give their time to the individuals who contribute their hard-earned money, it’s all voluntary! No force or threats involved! Amazing!

We do have wealth in this country (dwindling though it may be), but most of all we have a lot of goodness, goodness which we can, and do, put into action all the time, without any direction or mandates or threats from government. This generosity and goodwill could be even more powerful if we removed the crutch of government assistance, and if so much of our wealth and prosperity were not forfeited to, and consumed by, the state. I believe it may be the greatest tragedy of our time that the statists, on both sides of the aisle, have convinced us that all good things (healthcare, jobs, education, protection for the vulnerable, assistance for the needy) come from government, and all bad things (drug use, gun crime, discrimination, poverty) come from freedom. The argument that private charity can and should replace government welfare is always countered by the assertion that people would not give enough without the force of government to make them do so. This argument, made by individuals who profess to care deeply about their fellow man, instead belies a deep and callous cynicism towards humanity. If you scratch the surface of any statist, left or right, you will find a dark antagonism toward true freedom. In a statement condemning the Blunt amendment (which was an attempt to tack a unrelated measure to a transportation funding bill, by the way), Senator Barbara Mikulski declared:

It allows any insurance company or any employer to deny coverage for any service they choose, based on a religious belief or moral conviction. What is a moral conviction? I have moral convictions. You have moral convictions. We have different moral convictions.

Wow. You mean, people are different? What a pain. That must make social engineering a real headache. And allowing the employers who have to pay for it a choice in the matter? How horrible! That cannot stand! I have a right to take your money and use it for my birth control. Of course, the real hilarity about the whole thing is that if employers are forced to cover this and other services, they’ll just pay their employees less. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, people!

The sensational antics that are being displayed over the recent birth control versus religious freedom controversy are outside the point. It makes no difference what Blunt’s motives are. Rush Limbaugh is just one thick-headed gas bag, whose daily airing of piffle and nonsense will never have the slightest impact on your life. The hysterical hyperbole and name callings are distractions from the core truth that is being ignored: the federal government has no authority and no moral right to force your employer, or anyone else, to pay for your birth control.

Try freedom.

The

“‘Good’ and ‘bad’, I define these terms—quite clear, no doubt, somehow. Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” – Bob Dylan

The purpose of the state is to protect your rights. All manifestations of the state, including the law, courts, police, and bureaucrats, fall under this edict. The purpose of the state is to protect your rights.

That is all.

All other powers taken upon itself by government are expansions of authoritarianism. It is not possible for the state to dole out favors that are not at the expense of others. I do not here intend to expand on this point, or attempt to justify it. I invite the reader to investigate the essay The Law, by Frederic Bastiat.

Building on this foundation, the logical conclusion is that it is inappropriate and unjust for government to attempt to regulate what it sees as discrimination or otherwise “unfair” or “immoral” behavior in the workplace or in places of business. How do we arrive at this conclusion, on the basis that the sole role of government is to protect your rights? To illustrate, I will use two examples:

  1. Sexual harassment in the workplace
  2. Discrimination at a place of business

First, let me assert that I have no interest here in entertaining a moral or philosophical debate. Is it fair to allow managers and supervisors to behave in any way that creates an inhospitable work environment? No, probably not. But that is irrelevant. Even if we were to agree that a company is morally obligated to protect their workers from this behavior, that would have nothing whatever to do with the law. It is not the role of government to legislate goodness, even if it were capable of doing so, which of course it is not. It is not the role of government to reflect the righteousness and moral compass of its people, as so many seem to believe. The moral evolution of a people occurs at the individual level. It happens when persuasive ideas spread; it happens when individuals make a stand and use pressure, judgment, and censure to persuade their fellow citizens that a certain kind of behavior is wrong. This is how we have always progressed, even if history has attempted to give the credit to government. The truth is, elected officials attempt to pass laws that reflect attitudes already prevalent. They are the Johnny-come-lately to the moral party. In short, goodness does not come from government.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Recently, an article appeared on the CNN website that advocated the adoption of a law (I can only assume the author means a national law) that would make it “illegal for men (or women) to make sexual overtures to their subordinates”. I don’t think I will waste much time on the illogical nature of the article itself. The author herself admits that what qualifies as sexual harassment is not always clear, and that due to the nature of the beast, it often comes down to he-said, she-said. Nonetheless, she declares that her idea for a law would somehow address the problem when we “decide what, as a society, we want to be acceptable or not in our workplaces and schools and then enforce the norms with legal penalties” (emphasis added).

Enforce norms? With legal penalties? Yeah sure, that’s the way a free society would do it. Sort of like how it works in France with the prohibition against Muslim female dress.

If a private company decides to adopt and enforce their own code of conduct (and they do, all the time, without the government’s direction), then good for them. If, however, no such code exists, or if it is poorly enforced or not enforced at all, then ultimately the worker has no just alternative but to quit. She may attempt to pursued management to adopt such a policy. She may even pursued her colleagues to stand with her. Perhaps she, or they, will go to the press and get public opinion involved. Perhaps a boycott or walk out can be arranged. Or, she could just quit, and take her talents and experience elsewhere. All of these options are perfectly acceptable in a free society, where employment is, on both sides, a voluntary contract.

What is not acceptable, is to call in the goons of government, threaten the employer with a myriad of civil and legal penalties, including monetary liabilities and even jail time. This can only be logical if we believe that the employee has a right to that job, which is nonsense. You can say that she should not have to quit, that it isn’t fair, and all that would be true, but it would be irrelevant. In the words of Joe South: “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.”

You don’t actually have a right to that job, or to the work environment which you think is “moral”. You’re not guaranteed a life free from the unpleasant, disquieting, unfair, or painful. The government should not be involved unless someone’s rights are being violated, which an employer could only do by holding people in slavery or by somehow defrauding them of their rightful property, because, at the end of the day, you don’t have a right to that job. Yes, quitting is easier said than done. Yes, economic conditions can make it difficult. Yes, it can bring upon that person all sorts of financial and personal inconveniences. All true, all irrelevant.

Even if you refused to see the law in this light, the fact remains that such laws fail to accomplish their stated goal and often do more harm than good. Singling a group out for special protection implies that people in that group are weak, in a weak position, and need the defense of armed bureaucrats. A law like this is not a gift to its target; it is an insult. Moreover, it turns that group of people into liabilities, making employers more hesitant to hire them for fear of what it may cost them in the future. This is especially true of sexual harassment, since it is an allegation so easy to make, difficult to prove, and where often “innocent until proven guilty” does not apply. One thing I will say for our present system. It has effectively spread the “potential liability” around so well that sensible employers are more or less equally hesitant to hire anybody.

Let’s consider another potential consequence of such a law. First of all, we all know that 99% of companies have sexual harassment codes in place. So let’s imagine a situation where an employee, male or female—we’ll call them Drew—feels the need to bring inappropriate behavior to the attention of human resources. Then let us imagine that human resources agrees that an investigation is in order and promised, while the investigation is underway, to maintain Drew’s anonymity. Perhaps at the end of the investigation, the transgressor is reprimanded, censored, or terminated. Perhaps human resources decides that there is not enough evidence to move forward.

Now let us imagine a scenario where it is a crime to engage in this behavior that has concerned Drew. Now when Drew goes to human resources, they are obligated to report the incident as a suspected crime, because otherwise they could be liable for concealing or aiding a crime. Now Drew must speak to the police, or drop the compliant. Now the transgressor must be interrogated by the police. And we can forget anonymity, because the accused, no longer dealing with human resources within a private company, is now entitled to all the evidence against him and to confront his accuser.

So seriously. This is supposed to be an improvement?

Discrimination at a Place of Business

It is not enough to have a “right” to a job with an acceptable environment, but we also apparently have a “right” to be served at any and every place of business of our choosing. Although many establishments have signs that assert their right to refuse service to anyone, the truth is that merely being suspecting of refusing, or just not accommodating, service to someone based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or disability is to invite a storm of legal and civil liabilities and harassment at the hands of an army of local, state, and federal bureaucrats. This can only be reasonable if we accept that individuals have a right to be serviced at a private establishment.

Honestly, I don’t know how to frame this in a way that does not sound insane.

Let’s imagine another scenario. Say you walk into a restaurant, and witness the manager asking a mixed race couple to leave, in a way that made it clear the manager was racially motivated. What would you do?

I’d like to think that enough people I know would be outraged. That sense of outrage, that feeling of righteous indignation, does not come from government, by the way. In our situation, maybe you would walk out. Maybe you would tell your family and friends not to frequent that establishment. Maybe you’d even write a letter to your local paper and bring down a fury of public outrage and boycotting upon the owner’s head. All of this would be well within your rights.

And it’s how a free society works.

Yes, it’s true, not everyone would take that initiative, or show so much moral courage, but let us have enough faith in our neighbors to cede that many would. Certainly, this is more likely than government bureaucrats helping the situation.

How much does government help in these situations? Let’s consider the Americans with Disabilities Act, a piece of legislation passed to make our representatives seem compassionate and moral. The intent is to make life easier and more fair for people with disabilities, a noble goal, though hardly an appropriate use of government force. However, be that as it may, it does not even accomplish this goal. Who does this legislation benefit the most?

I’ll give you a hint. Who, for the most part, writes legislation?

That’s right. Lawyers.

All across this great land of ours there is a multitude of the codification trained, whose sole source of income is bringing ADA-related lawsuits against businesses. Most of these businesses are small because one, they are more likely to have violations and two, are less able to defend themselves.

From the Sierra Sun (a Californian newspaper, March 2011):

Donner Lake Kitchen, a popular family-owned restaurant in rural Truckee, Calif. is closing its doors following a legal battle with attorney Scott Johnson, who is said to have filed “countless” complaints of lack of handicap accessibility at California businesses. The owner estimates that $20,000-$60,000 in repairs and upgrades would have been needed to bring the dining establishment into ADA compliance.

This has become such a widespread occurrence that even NPR has taken note.

Aside from lining the pockets of lawyers, what good does this sort of thing accomplish? The business is closed! Now no one can eat there! I guess that’s equality for you. And what is the justification? Are we honestly saying that a person has a right, that they are entitled, to eat at a particular restaurant, no matter what? How does it violate anyone’s rights if they are not able to eat at a restaurant?

When did we come to believe that life has to be fair all of the time for everyone, or there shall be hell [fines] to pay? When did we come to think that nothing bad, uncomfortable, or unpleasant, should ever happen to us? When did we come to expect that everything will go our way?

If you’re thinking: “but disabled people should be able to go out to eat!”

You’re right. They should. But as discussed previously, should, in a moral sense, and must, in a legal sense, are two entirely different things. It is not the job of the government to enforce shoulds, no matter how compelling, unless it must do so to protect your actual rights.

Your rights are to life and liberty.

That’s it.

Not to a job, restaurants, cars, houses, healthcare, education, a book, a pair of shoes, a pint of milk or a gallon of gas. ALL of those things must be procured in an environment of free and voluntary exchange, where there is no role for government except to protect your right to life and liberty.

End transmission.

Corporations are People?

Posted: 10/25/2011 in Politics

One of the complaints of the Occupy Wall St. movement is a resistance or backlash against a landmark Supreme Court decision (Citizens United v. FEC) that did away with limitations on “corporate speech.” The implications were explicitly that the corporations would be able to spend as much as they wanted on political action. The populist anger towards this decision is rooted in the belief that (1) corporations are not people and should not be assumed to have the rights of people (e.g. free speech) and (2) if allowed to do so corporations will take over U.S. politics by flooding the airwaves with their propaganda.

The case itself was brought forward by Citizens United, a non-profit corporation which had been prohibited from airing a film “Hillary: The Movie” within 30 days of the 2008 Democratic primaries. In 2002, Citizens United had attempted to use the same regulation to prevent the airing of “Fahrenheit 9/11”, but that film was found to be “commercial”, rather than political. The Citizens United v. FEC decision struck down the provisions of the McCain-Feingold Act (2002) that prohibited all corporations, profit and non-profit, from broadcasting “electioneering communications” within 60 days of a general election and 30 days of a primary. The court upheld requirements for disclaimer and disclosure by sponsors of advertisements. It did not, contrary to popular misconception, overturn the ban on direct corporate or union contributions to political parties or campaigns.

Without delving into a Olympic size swimming pool of legal jargon, suffice it to say that the gist of the decision was that the first amendment was written in terms of speech, not speakers. In other words, free speech is free speech no matter who is doing the talking and thus the government cannot be a blocking force in the release of speech, such as movies, books, etc.

Opponents have one primary argument against this logic: corporations are not people. This makes a lot of sense, considering they are not individuals, they are not born, they do not grow old, they do not get married or have children or need food and medicine.

However, if corporations are not people, then why are they taxed? Isn’t the idea of taxation based on representation? How can a non-entity have representation? Isn’t the justification for taxation based on the premise that taxed individuals use public services? How can a non-entity use a service?

Now, the individuals who constitute a corporation, or union, use public services, and they are represented. But then, they pay their own taxes, don’t they?

So, if corporations are not people, and if the people they contain already pay taxes, what is the justification for the corporate tax? It seems evident to me that the only possible justification is because we can. But simply wanting the money, even needing it, does not justify taking it. The original justification that was used to get people to accept taxes as fair was that they were in exchange for representation and services. If corporations do not qualify as people, then these things do not apply to them, and taking their money is just opportunistic stealing.

I want to also address the assumption that, if unrestrained, corporate involvement in politics will take over, silencing the voice of the people.

Leave it to “progressive” liberals to have such a denigrating, hateful opinion of their fellow man. Are we to callously accept that people are empty-headed lemmings, blown to one candidate or another by the wind of propaganda slogans? There are far, far more individual voters in this country than there are corporations, but that power means nothing because apparently we are helpless to the programming of media. People believe anything they see or hear, so it is up to the [leftist] politician to protect them from this influence. Of course it must be a politician, or a bureaucrat, who decides what qualifies as electioneering and what the people can and cannot handle, because we couldn’t possibly leave it up to the individual.

For those who may be reading this and thinking to yourselves that this is true—painful, but true—you should be ashamed of yourselves. Try having a modicum of faith in your fellow man. You’ll sleep better and live longer.

 

End transmission.

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science’. But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” – Murray Rothbard

You’re scheming on a thing that’s a mirage, I’m tryin’ to tell ya now: it’s sabotage.” – Beastie Boys

Mars is heaven.” – Ray Bradbury

The Top Five Economic Fallacies in America

  1. Wealth Destruction Equals Wealth Creation.

This is perhaps the most insane, and yet the most prevalent, fallacy of all. Looking at the sentence above, you may be thinking “how can anyone believe that?” And yet this principle is taught in schools in every corner of the country and has been enshrined in higher education and economic and monetary policy. Alan Greenspan, the so-called Maestro, recently advocated the demolition of houses as a way to bolster the housing market. During the Great Depression, the “progressive” American government confiscated and destroyed food (including livestock), in order to drive the prices of food higher. It is generally held indisputable that war stimulates economic growth.

These ideas and practices are not only logically flawed, but fraught with moral peril. War does not create anything, it destroys. It destroys lives, and it destroys property and wealth. Peace is always preferable to war. War interferes with the progress, production and trade that might otherwise have taken place. This cold and dangerous idea points to post-war rebuilding as evidence of its validity, but its proponents ignore that the rebuilding consumes wealth that might have been spent elsewhere. If a house is destroyed by a bomb, and then rebuilt, you have one house. If the house had never been bombed, you could have had two houses.

To slaughter millions of animals without the justification of feeding hungry mouths (when there were many hungry mouths), to deliberately destroy grain and produce, goes beyond a mere moral hazard. It is true that higher food prices benefit the producers of food, in the short term. But one cannot escape the truth that there are more people who consume food than produce it, and so such a policy inflicts damage on the larger group to support and benefit the smaller group (which is virtually always the case with government economic intervention). Furthermore, the higher prices that the population then had to pay for food was wealth that could have been used in other ways which would have benefited the economy just as well. Many believe to this day that these kinds of policies got America out of the Depression, but it is worth noting that the Depression endured for ten years after such policies began.

Then there is the Maestro. I cannot fathom how such a man can believe such nonsense, unless he is insane, senile, or actually an alien in disguise. It is true that the housing market suffered a decline in part because of a glut of supply. During the housing boom, certain policies and maneuvering encouraged and overstimulated the housing market, and so we built more than we could afford. This resulted in all sorts of problems, but at least we got houses out of it! Houses are physical structures that have intrinsic value, even if what they can net on the market has fallen. An empty lot is never worth more than a lot with a house on it. If we destroy the houses, we would have gained nothing from our frenzied glut on debt and borrowing. How is this a good thing?

Let’s imagine that the government took Mr. Greenspan’s advice and bought up these houses in order to destroy them. Here is how it would go:

First, the government would have to actually buy the houses. Where the money would come from is anyone’s guess.

Since the goal is to reduce the supply of houses, it would be best to buy as many as possible, but since the government could never buy all of them, some criteria would have to be established. Obviously, the first to be bought would be the ones already owned by the bank, so most likely the group to benefit the most from this policy would be the bankers. Next in line would be houses that are underwater, in foreclosure proceedings, or close to it. This group would consist of a large number of people who made irresponsible financial decisions, and also people who were trying to flip property and got caught in a mess they didn’t see coming. Even in this situation, the bankers are still the single largest beneficiary, because they would have ended up with the burden of these houses, had the government not intervened. In other words, this would just be another bailout. Also, it should be noted that there would likely be people who would take advantage of the situation to get rid of a house that they didn’t want for one reason or another but probably could have kept above water on their own. Putting that aside, however, we’ve arrived at the point where the government has a bunch of houses.

Now the government owns a boatload of houses and needs to destroy them. One cannot simply pour some kerosene on a house, or whole blocks of houses, and light a match. Demolition crews would have to be brought in, with equipment. Debris would have be removed and properly disposed of. The lot would have to be cleared, and then maintained afterward because you couldn’t have all these lots going to seed in residential neighborhoods. All of this would cost money and resources, not to mention the loss of local property tax revenue. Also, all of these displaced people would have to live somewhere and since they can’t live in houses, they would have to live in apartments and would thus drive rental prices through the roof.

  1. Government Can Create Prosperity

Listening to election propaganda, it is clear that this isn’t just a widespread economic belief; it is written on the stone tablet. From their podiums and carefully financed advertisements, candidates promise two things: to create more jobs, and to better redistribute the wealth. The first one is impossible, the second one just improbable.

My initial response to this idea is simplistic. If government can create prosperity, why hasn’t it? If government can create jobs, out of thin air, why is anyone unemployed? Is it just because, up until now, the system has been inefficient, corrupt, rigged, unfair, and controlled by evil forces? This is certainly what every crop of new candidates wishes us to believe. It may even be true but, if it is, why should we expect it to suddenly change? Are we to believe that this time we’ll elect a new bunch of people and it will be suddenly completely different, even though it never has been in the past? Just in the short history of our country, a dozen generations have lived and died in the shadow of an expanding government, which glutted itself on their belief that this time it would be different.

Maybe the truth is that government can’t do the things it says it can. Maybe politicians are born liars. Maybe they’re just hopelessly wrong. Maybe the answer is not in government at all.

Fundamentally, government is incapable of creating prosperity, or anything else. By its very nature, it can only confiscate, consume, and redistribute. There are some that honestly believe that the government can create jobs by, as an example, creating infrastructure. This is essentially based on the same fallacy as destroying houses. In order to pay for workers and materials to build, say, a public fountain, the government must confiscate that wealth from productive citizens in the form of taxes. It may borrow the money, but that debt will have to be paid by future taxpayers, so it amounts to the same thing. It may print the money, and it does, but that devalues the currency and leads to inflation, a subject I will touch more upon later. In any case, the money spent by the state on such projects could have been spent elsewhere by private individuals if it had not been taken from them. It is easy to see the “productivity” of government-hired workers digging a ditch. The fallacy comes from failing to see what might have been done with the funds if they had never been in government hands to begin with.

Some will say that government is a better conduit of this wealth than private forces, but I ask for justification for such an absurd notion. What has the government done to merit this unshakable faith? If the productive citizen is allowed to keep his capital, what harm would it do? Is he using it to buy drugs from terrorists? Is he trading in slave children? Much more likely, he is investing it in enterprise that will result in a net gain of more capital and more jobs. Still, it is assumed that the money is better placed in the hands of government, despite its proven record of failure, inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and corruption. The political class has a compelling interest to do everything it can to foster these beliefs.

You may be thinking that this is just the principle of trickle-down economics, an idea that has been vilified by the left as benefiting the rich at the expense of the poor. Please see section five.

In short, despite what candidates promise and politicians claim, the government cannot create jobs. Jobs are created by entrepreneurs, and they do so in spite of government, not because of it. Government does not and will not make this country great. That is for people to do.

  1. Spending is Good, Saving is Bad

If spending is the cure, how did we get so sick? Spending certainly was not curtailed in the years preceding the bust of 2008. In fact, government has been growing steadily since before living memory and exponentially since at least 2000. All government growth is facilitated by government spending. So again, if spending is what will solve our economic woes, how did we get in this mess at all?

Government spending is a primary cause of our troubles, so it cannot be a cure. Rather, it is the drug that continues to feed our addiction. The recent crash should have been the cure, because it should have forced us to give up the drug. Instead, government removes the correcting forces of the free market by shoring up badly run banks and businesses and using artificially low interest rates to encourage more borrowing and spending and to discourage saving. Saving is treated as poison by seemingly otherwise intelligent individuals. When people save instead of spend, it is said that there is less money to go around, which will hurt retailers and businesses and thus cost jobs. This is especially true of the wealthy. It is thought that, if not taxed, the capital in their possession will stagnate somewhere and not contribute to the economy. Thus the government tries to discourage saving with taxation, inflation, and low or non-existence interest rates.

This is patently absurd. Do people honestly think that wealth is accumulated in the form of gold coins and piled in private vaults, which the owners swim in like Scrooge McDuck? Whether the owner is wealthy or just middle-class, they are more likely keeping their savings in a bank. What does that mean? It means that banks have more money to lend (something the government has tried and failed to encourage). These savings fund everything from mortgages to commercial investments. This encourages businesses to grow and, ding-ding-ding, create jobs. In addition, since most savers want their money to grow, they invest it (another way to encourage economic growth) or put it in interest-bearing accounts, which accumulates more wealth, which will translate into more spending at some future point, not to mention less people living off the dole in their dotage.

In the years leading up to the crash, the government not only glutted itself on excess spending, but actively encouraged its citizens to spend rather than save. Today, these same policies continue and it is said, with a straight face, that they will somehow cure our troubles. The belief that government spending is the cure is the primary reason that gold standards were removed from currencies around the world. Mainstream economist argued that the restraint of the gold standard had to be removed to allow governments to realize their just and proper role in stimulating the economy when needed. This principle ignores the historical evidence that increased government spending has never translated into prolonged prosperity, and it ignores the deleterious and insidious effects of inflation.

  1. Inflation is Inherent

Most people accept inflation as a fact of life, or as a mysterious phenomenon that just happens. However, in the 97 years before the establishment of the Federal Reserve the U.S. dollar gained in value by almost 90%. In the 97 years since, the dollar has lost 95% of its value. Is this a coincidence? Inflation, of this sort, is not some inevitable component of the market. It is currency manipulation driven by the desire to expand the scope and reach of government. It is deliberate debasement; it is sabotage.

It is also no coincidence that inflation skyrocketed after all ties between the dollar and gold were removed in 1971. There are plenty of arguments for and against a gold standard, and I do not intend to delve into that debate here. However, historically, governments have removed commodity backing of their currency when they wished to facilitate deficit spending. The British temporarily went off the gold standard during the Napoleonic Wars, as did the US government during the Civil War. The permanent removal of the gold standard, world wide, began during World War I. Now the dollar is not redeemable in anything but itself. It is a mere symbol. Now there are no limits on the volume of currency that can be printed and the result has been both an unchecked expansion of government and a long period of inflation.

Not only is inflation not inevitable, it is also not harmless. Just as earlier governments left the gold standard to enable wartime spending, today our government, unhindered by any standard, has been involved in perpetual “military operations” since before I was born. Inflation is a hidden tax in two ways. One, it facilitates excessive government borrowing which will have to be repaid by future tax increases. This happens because inflation benefits the borrower over a loaner, because the money paid back will have less worth than when it was borrowed. Two, it is a transfer of wealth from the lower class to the bankers and political class. This is because, once the paper money is printed, the value of the dollar decreases over time. The initial recipients of the dollar, the banks and the US treasury, have a higher buying power than the last recipients of the dollar. John Keynes, the champion of deficit spending and father of government economic intervention, said: “By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.”

  1. Tax Cuts are a Public Cost

This is another fallacy that has become part of the general public’s mental schema of economics. We are told that Bush tax cuts to the wealthy “cost” the US government some astronomical, so-large-it-has-no-real-meaning, number.

Anyone who values liberty should cringe at this turn of phrase. It implies explicitly that all capital belongs to the government, since the earnings that people are allowed to keep are a “cost” to government. After all, if a tax cut by 5.4% is a cost to government, then the current “tax break” of 70% (roughly the amount of my income the federal government allows to me to keep) is a cost to government. Positing that tax cuts are an expense to the public implies that the money belongs to the public in the first place, that they have a right to it. They don’t. Natural rights are to your life and liberty and that’s about it. You don’t have a right to things that don’t belong to you. You do have a right to the things that do belong to you, things you produced or earned, because they are an extension of yourself. They represent your time, energy, effort…in essence your life, as well as your liberty to engage in capital exchange. In fact, all rights are based on property rights, because it is asserted that you have an inalienable ownership of yourself. Thus, to have a right to something that represents someone else’s life and liberty, is a contradiction in terms. It isn’t necessary to think of justifications for people to keep their money. It’s already theirs.

Not only is this principle profoundly hostile to liberty, it is mathematically wrong.

And now we get to trickle down economics.

Mathematically speaking, “trickle down” has to work. There’s no way that it can’t! As pointed out earlier, any person who has disposable income uses it in some way, either by spending, investing, or saving. For reasons I’ve already covered, these activities lead to economic growth. Unless money is being hoarded under a mattress, buried under the ocean, or shot out into space, there is no way for it not to have an economic impact. In fact, if rich people were somehow withholding their funds from the economy from which we all benefit, we wouldn’t have inflation! It would be impossible! In fact, we would have insane deflation.

You may be thinking that this same principle would apply to government. In other words, if economic impact is a given, then the same would happen if government took the money and used it.

        1. If this is true, why introduce the factor of government at all?
        2. If it is assumed that government is better at this than private individuals, that it more efficient and effective with money, I invite examples of these miracles of bureaucracy.

Private individuals, motivated by personal gain and without the manipulation of government, save their money, or they invest it where they think the balance of risk and reward is best. They spend it on products and services that best meet their needs. All of this behavior rewards the most efficient and effective producers.

Government, on the other hand, largely allocates money based on personal and political agendas, ambitions, shifting and conflicting policies, and the influence of special interest, all the while paying the salary of the army of bureaucrats it takes to confiscate and allocate the funds.

It has been said that “trickle down ” does not work because periods of high taxation have corresponded with high economic growth. An example would be the Eisenhower period, where the highest tax bracket paid 90%.

        1. Anyone who thinks that 90% is fair needs to have their head examined.
        2. No one paid 90%. I mean, get real. We’re talking about a bracket that was so small in terms of population it could scarcely be said to exist, and IRS tracking was still in its infancy anyway.
        3. You know what else we had during the Eisenhower administration? Smaller government.
        4. You know what else? Manufacturing jobs, jobs that are long gone thanks to the burden of government regulations and taxation.

Finally, the phrase “trickle-down economics” refers to a government policy of a particular kind of economic planning that therefore cannot be equated with a true free market situation. It is hardly reasonable to expect such a policy, or any policy, to work as touted, when at the same time the government is expanding its economic reach, engaging in endless and expensive military adventures abroad financed by deficits, and printing and borrowing money like no tomorrow.

Epilogue: Capitalism is NOT the problem

On talk shows, in blog posts, in bestsellers and documentaries, in rhetoric being shouted and whispered in classrooms and coffee houses across the land, across the world, capitalism is being denigrated as the root of all our evils. For all the emotional sensationalism, only one response is necessary.

What is the alternative?

The answer seems to be a sort of controlled capitalism, where people are free to earn money so long as it’s not too much and so long as they surrender much of it to the state, and where regulations of the best intentions protect the little man from being trampled. This is probably a good estimate of the general idea supported by most people who complain about capitalism. Then there are those who advocate for outright state control but, thankfully, those are few and far between.

Or are they?

Controlled capitalism is just another way to say fascism. Today, you may more likely hear the word “corporatism”, because fascism has become such a pejorative that it has lost its original meaning: a form of government economic control where the means of production are privately owned but controlled by a central government. It is a system where the central economic planners in government pick the winners and losers based on lobbying influence. The winners take home the loot and the losers go out of business.

This is not capitalism. Bailouts are not capitalism. Capitalism is a system of investment and individual growth; it is a system of free enterprise, free association, and free choices. To blame recent economic hardship on capitalism and free markets is irrational, because we have not had any such thing in this country in a long time. In a free market, we would not have crop quotas meant to control the price of food. My soda could have natural sugar in it. It does not because corn is cheaper. Corn is cheaper because it is heavily subsidized by government and because of high tariffs on sugar. Both instruments were put in place to protect domestic growers of these crops, a small fraction of the population, at the expense of everyone else. I repeat, this is not capitalism.

It has been claimed that a lack of regulation allowed the crash. This is indeed mystifying. All businesses must devote a significant portion of their resources to tax and regulation compliance. Small businesses are especially hurt, spending several thousand dollars a year, per employee, on tax and regulatory compliance. Larger corporations certainly pay more but, due to their size, are more insulated from the cost, giving them an advantage that is the direct result of government impact. Banks are even more regulated than other sectors with at least 12% of their spending going toward compliance. Every year brings new rules and regulations. It is not in the nature of government to shrink. Assertions that passed administrations allowed businesses of any kind to “run wild” is empty demagoguery and it is intellectually dishonest.

We have not yet even touched upon the role the central bankers play in the boom and bust cycles of the US economy. I’ve already discussed how the currency is devalued, but the Federal Reserve has other tools at its disposal. The purpose of the Federal Reserve is also to back banks. It does this by guaranteeing their deposits, and by providing them with low interest loans. In ye olden times, a bank would have felt compelled to keep a good percentage of its funds on hand so that it would be able to satisfy demand for withdrawals. This meant that the bank had less money to lend out, which in turn meant it had to be more careful with those funds. Now, thanks to the omnipresent Fed, banks are encouraged, practically required, to lend more money and take greater risks. This behavior is further rewarded when the risk of failure is removed via bailouts and government guarantees. Politicians have a lot of nerve claiming that Wall Street “ran wild”, when ultimately they are the ones who pumped the system with stimulants. By providing easy credit from the Fed, guarantees for any kind of loan, and through social-engineering policies that encouraged risky mortgages, our political class is directly responsible for the housing bubble and for the crash that followed. As Henry Hazlitt wrote way back in 1946:

Government-guaranteed home mortgages, especially when a negligible down payment or no down payment is required, inevitably means more bad loans than otherwise. They force the general taxpayer to subsidize the bad risks and to defray the losses. They encourage people to “buy” houses they cannot really afford. They tend eventually to bring about an oversupply of houses…temporarily overstimulate building, raise the cost of building for everybody and may mislead the building industry into an eventually costly overexpansion. In brief, in the long run they do not increase overall national production but encourage malinvestment.”

Despite this warning, government went right on its merry way, and even today, after everything that’s happened, politicians will continue to say “Well…home ownership is very important.”

Capitalism would reward effort and ingenuity with gain, but instead such things are punished with a higher tax rate and a myriad of regulations, fees, and penalties that favor the established and discourage the newcomers. Capitalism would punish ineptitude and misbehavior with loss, but instead the reckless are bailed out by government, leaving no incentive to change their ways. In true capitalism, there would be no such thing as “too big to fail”.

Now, you may be thinking that allowing so many banks to fail would have hurt everybody, and that is certainly true. First, the situation would not have gotten to that point without the meddling of government. Second, some pain would be necessary to correct the mistakes, to wean us off the drug of spending and debt. Such suffering would be far less, and far shorter, than what is still waiting for us as the policies that caused the problems in the first place are continued and even accelerated.

I am disappointed to see Americans protesting on Wall St., angered by the system created and perpetuated by their own government. I am saddened by the ease with which they were convinced by Washington that bailouts and corporate welfare were necessary and in everyone’s best interest, and that they, the elected, were helpless to stop it.

The situation we find ourselves in bears little resemblance to capitalism, and therefore capitalism should not bear the blame for our hardships. More than this, in addition to all else I’ve said here, capitalism is an economic theory of freedom. All alternatives to it involve government control and government force. Simply put, no matter what your motivation, if you oppose capitalism, you oppose liberty. Period. You can try to squirm out of it, but that is the plain and simple truth.

 

End transmission.

There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu

War is peace.” – George Orwell

It is unwise to discuss Iran without a nodding acquaintance with its history. The civilization is one of the oldest on Earth and it would take whole volumes to cover the history of Iran, even just since the Muslim conquest. Skipping ahead to the early twentieth century, the Persian Constitutional Revolution led to the establishment of a parliament, the first of its kind in Asia. The struggle between the constitutionalists and the Shahs continued, however, with the Shahs backed by foreign powers that had gained much in concessions from the Shahs in the past. By 1907 an Anglo-Russian agreement divided Iran into a Russian zone in the north and a British zone in the south. The British promptly abandoned the constitutionalists and reinstated the Shah. In 1908 the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (predecessor of BP) discovered oil in Iran, which reinvigorated interest in the region. During World War I, Iran was occupied by Russian and British forces, but remained officially neutral. In 1921 a military coup led to the rule of Reza Knan and the beginning of the Pahlavi dynasty. The rule of the new Shah was both progressive and despotic. The ruler maintained an iron fist of oppression, corruption, taxation, censorship and state propaganda. On the other hand, there was a push toward equality between the sexes, education, and secularization.

Reza Khan (Reza Shah) abdicated during World War II under pressure from occupying British and Indian forces. Power passed to his pro-British son, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who ruled until 1979. Initially, the new Shah allowed the parliament to exercise a fair amount of authority. However, in 1951 parliament began efforts to nationalize Iranian oil, under the leadership of Prime Minister Mosaddeq. Shortly thereafter, a military coup, organized by American and British intelligence agencies (Operation Ajax), removed the prime minster from power. From that time until the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the Shah ruled with unquestioned authority over a population that viewed him (rightly) as a puppet of Western hegemony.

Simply put, these events led directly to the Iranian Revolution, which saw the transfer of power from a Western-friendly absolute monarchy, to the Islamic Republic, where industry was nationalized, laws and schools Islamicized, and Western influences banned. The taking of fifty-two American hostages from the US embassy, an act that was highly popular in Iran, was just one of the events labeled as “blowback” by the CIA. The hostage crisis set off thirty-two years of various levels of economic sanctions.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein took advantage of the political and social upheaval in Iran to invade in the fall of 1980. Although the Iraqi campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, Iranian casualties are estimated to be between 500,000 and 1,000,000, some of whom were victims of the Iraqi army’s chemical weapons. Iraq received financial backing from Egypt, the U.K., the U.S., and China, among others.

Throw in some bickering, normalizing, trading, and protest crackdowns, and here we are today. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 toppled the major Sunni power in the region, strengthening the position of Shi’a -dominated Iran, especially amongst the Shi’ites of Iraq. Despite declarations by the Ayatollah in Iran that forbade nuclear weapons, claims in the U.S. that Iran was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) have not abated.

So it is time to get real about Iran. It is not a small country, and it is not a weak country, especially within its region, but in terms of military strength it hardly compares to Israel, let alone the U.S. The economy of Iran has its good points, but it is hindered by corruption and inefficiency (especially damaging, as 70% of its industry is state-owned). Iran ranks third in the world in oil reserves, but it lacks the capacity to refine enough of it for their own energy needs. There is no significant evidence that Iran has progressed toward nuclear weapons, but even if it had, so what? A lot of countries in the world have nuclear weapons, but there hasn’t been a nuclear attack since, well, we did it. In fact, if you look at our military history, countries without nuclear weapons (e.g. Iraq) get invaded. Countries with them, like Pakistan and North Korea, remain safe.

The Gulf War ended with a “cease-fire” and a containment policy, which included no-fly zones (not mandated by the UN), economic sanctions, and weapon inspections. The UN body UNSCOM was able to verify the destruction of large amounts of weapons, but inspectors left Iraq when the U.S. and U.K. launched a bombing campaign in 1998. Around the same time, the U.S. passed a resolution calling for regime change in Iraq and George H. Bush directed the CIA to facilitate Saddam’s removal. In late June of 1993, President Clinton ordered a missile strike at the Iraq Intelligence Service building in Baghdad. During UN inspections in 1999, Iraq alleged that the inspectors included US intelligence agents, which was later confirmed by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Iraq agreed to new inspections in late 2002. The lead weapons inspector advised the UN Security Council that Iraq was cooperating with inspections and that he expected confirmation of disarmament. An ambassador working for the CIA reported that claims of yellowcake sales to Iraq (from Niger) were “unequivocally wrong”. The Bush administration continued to repeat the allegations. In 2002, U.S. senators were told in a closed session that Iraq was capable of striking America’s eastern seaboard, despite that Iraq had no real air force or navy.

Even though the official military invasion would not come until March of 2003, CIA incursions and intensified no-fly zone enforcement began at least six months prior to that. Even at this point, Iraq continued to claim it was innocent of the weapons violations and tried to make concessions about allowing further inspections. When White House rhetoric made it clear that invasion was eminent anyway, high ranking Iraqi officials attempted to communicate with Washington through various liaisons, apparently hoping to discuss the allegations of WMDs and ties to al-Qaeda. Their efforts fell on deaf ears. The war-hawks in DC had already made up their minds. The one thing Iraq could have done to appease the U.S. was the one thing it would not do: Saddam’s abdication. There were no WMDs, as we know full well today.

Let me be blunt. One particular Iraqi official held a press conference on the eve of the invasion, condemning it, and saying that he did not blame the American people because they had been deceived. Whatever his faults, the hard truth is that man was right, and that man is dead.

Iran’s motivation to develop WMDs, if it is real, is nothing to be wondered at.

Since this is the subject of such high-strung fears, it must be assumed that it is generally believed Iran would actually use a nuclear weapon if they had it, since an unused weapon is not dangerous. However, what would part two of the plan be, exactly? Assuming that Iran, in time, scraped together the resources and know-how to build some nuclear missiles and that they then decided to use them, what next? Despite what the warfare enthusiasts would have us believe, authorities in Iran are not so stupid and insane that they cannot see the ultimate end of that endeavor.

In the minds of the Neocons, however, they must imagine that the Iranian plan goes something like this:

Step 1: Obtain WMDs (aka, Steal Underpants)

Step 2: …?…

Step 3: World Domination!

This is cute and all, but shouldn’t be taken seriously as a matter of foreign policy.

What if Iran was not a real threat? What if we did not have military personal in the Middle East, or anywhere else? What if we just pushed “reset” for our foreign policy and began with diplomacy and trade for all? The Neocons would have us believe that the people in the Middle East would continue to hate us anyway, just because of who we are, because we are free and prosperous, but this is empty demagoguery. As we’ve seen just in the short, and incomplete, history of Iran that I’ve given, they have plenty of reason to dislike and distrust America and other Western powers. If we pulled back now and attempted to “start over” with Iran and other countries, it would not come easy at first, but in the end peace between us would be attainable and we would save uncounted lives and unbelievable amounts of money.

We can’t talk about Iran without touching upon the recent “incident” that has dominated the news and that inspired me to write this piece in the first place. Apparently, some Iranian colluded with [what he thought was] Mexican drug cartels to plot the assassination of a Saudi diplomat while he was in Washington, DC.

Just because an Iranian was [allegedly] involved, why does that then mean the Iranian government was behind it? Is the American government to blame for everything every American does abroad? If so, they probably shouldn’t be assassinating them for it!

The plot itself is so foolish, so full of holes that, if it is the machination of the Iranian government, we have even less to worry about than I thought. It also doesn’t say much about Mexican drug cartels, since they were apparently willing to take on all this hassle for $100,000.

This is all assuming that our government is correct in its assessment of the situation and truthful in its report of it. Forgive me if I’m at least a little skeptical. The warfare class in our country have been itching to stick it to Iran for a long time, so any excuse that comes along is bound to strike me as a little too convenient. I’ll admit here that I gave my government the benefit of the doubt when it came to WMDs in Iraq. Fool me once…

In conclusion, Iran today is not much more of a threat to the U.S. than Iraq was back then (which was none at all). We have no right to deal with other countries with threats and ultimatums, and such behavior does nothing to increase our security. Instead, our imperialistic aggression and meddling has increased the danger to our citizens’ safety and prosperity. Let us not fool ourselves that military action against Iran is impossible because no president, no elected official, would dare suggest yet another military operation. We’ve seen all the evidence we need that there is no limit to the influence of the industrial-military complex in this country. If money is short, they’ll just print it. Not enough young men? Well, that’s why they are still required to register with Selective Service.

Instead of giving ourselves ulcers over the alleged antics of an immaterial nation on the other side of the globe, perhaps we could spend that energy worrying about the things that are threatening us at home, like the growing hostility on the part of our government towards our constitutional rights, or the monetary, economic, and foreign policies that are bankrupting us.

Shutting down military bases and ceasing to deal with other countries with threats and violence is not isolationism, it is the opposite. Opening ourselves up to friendship, honest trade, and diplomacy is the foreign policy of peace and prosperity. “ – Ron Paul

 

End transmission.

Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat candidate for the Senate, has been wowing audiences in Massachusetts, though, to be fair, for a Harvard Law School professor and former Obama administration official, this is not exactly a miracle. A particular video of Warren addressing an audience has gone viral, with emphasis on the following lines:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own—nobody.

You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads that the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory—and hire someone to protect against this—because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless—keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is: you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

I intend to address this statement line by line, but first I’m going to take the liberty of a little guessing here, and suppose that many who read this or hear it experience an almost euphoric “yeah-that’s right-so there” feeling. Despite Ms. Warren’s claims to the contrary, what you are feeling is just plain and simple class envy. This is what she is peddling to get elected. The people who cheer her on are motivated by two basic strains of thought.

“Those damn, dirty rich people deserve it! Crooks, all of ‘em!”

“Somebody else will pay, not me.”

Warren’s speech is pretty rhetoric, emotional and compelling, but it’s still the same old “us versus them” drama.

Worse than that, it’s just plain wrong.

“You built a factory out there? Good for you.”

If you listen to the audio of the speech, it is especially evident that Warren is not sincerely congratulatory. She sounds snide and dismissive.

“You moved your goods to market on the roads that the rest of us paid for.”

Unless the wealthy owner of this factory is an illegal immigrant, one can only assume that he paid the same taxes the “rest of us” did. On a personal level, he probably uses the roads no more than I do, commuting to work and running errands. If we are speaking of him as a business entity, then if he hires freighters for his goods he must pay for this service (plus sales tax). The freighters pay taxes, including vehicle taxes and gasoline taxes, costs which they pass on to their customer, in this case the factory owner. If he owns his own fleet of vehicles, then these costs must be absorbed by his business directly. Indeed, even a small business owner contributes a great deal more to the maintenance of roads than I do.

Also, considering that many millionaire business owners are still just small business owners, much of the time their business is conducted locally on local roads, the maintenance of which has nothing whatever to do with the federal government Warren is trying to represent.

Another point to make here is that the factory owner has no choice in the matter. It’s not as if he chose to “take a free ride” on public roads, instead of paying to use a private highway system.

It is true that no man is an island, but if we take this argument to its logical extreme, businesses and factories cannot exist without a multitude of advancements and advantages of society, including but not limited to telephones, electricity, combustion engines, chemistry and mechanics, metal working, language and fire. Are we born beholden to our fellow man because of the wheel?

And what about the wealthy who do not depend on such infrastructure at all? What about those who inherit their wealth? What about the inventor who sells his invention for a few million and lets someone else bring it to us as a product? What about the novelist, who churns out bestsellers from her cabin in western Maine, who uses roads no more than I do?

“You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.”

This line actually made me laugh. It is true that education is heavily subsidized in this country. However, one must assume that the primary beneficiaries are the workers themselves. After all, isn’t that what we tell young people? To get educated so that they can have a brighter future?

And how is that brighter future obtained, in practical terms? Through higher salaries. And who pays the salary? Wait for it…

The factory owner!

Again, I must assume that the factory owner in question is paying his educated workers, plus the not-insignificant payroll taxes, unless he is holding them in slavery. Also, does Warren suggest that employers should get a discount for hiring workers educated in private institutions?

“You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for.”

The only sort of protection provided by the federal government is from terrorism, Mexican drug cartels, and, I suppose, an invasion of aliens. None of these things are a statistically significant threat to the average factory owner. Keeping the streets safe for businesses, and for everyone else, is the job of a policeman. The policemen and firemen that Warren mentions are employees of local governments. This has nothing to do with the Feds. Putting that glaring error in logic aside, what if I feel entitled to the same protection as a factory owner? Do I have to pay as much as she does? If not, why does she have to pay more? Of course, she does pay more to support local services, in the form of property taxes, local sales taxes, state and local income taxes, permit and licensing fees, and so on. So I guess the real issue is that it is just not enough for Warren.

Also, once again, the factory owner does not have the option of rejecting government protection in favor of private services. They can add the protection of a private security agency (and most probably do), but they cannot shirk the costs imposed by the local agencies, nor by the federal government for the expensive and morally questionable actions it takes to keep us all “safe”.

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless—keep a hunk of it.”

Aside from noting again the snide and dismissive air, I’d like to ask Ms. Warren: what exactly is a “hunk”? I’ve noticed for all the leftists’ claims that the wealthy do not pay their fair share, virtually none are willing to give a cold, hard number of what that fair share is. Perhaps this is because, deep down, you squirm from outright declaring how much of someone else’s money you wish to steal? Or perhaps you know, deep down, that it will never be enough.

“But part of the underlying social contract is: you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Again with the “hunk” business.

What is this social contract? Who wrote it? Who, besides Ms. Warren, is able to interpret it? Is it voluntary?

Or is it true, as “progressives” seem to insist, that the social contract is rigid and binding, to be interpreted by them, and imposed on all? Simply by virtue of being born human, we are born into bondage.

Here and now, let me be clear: I reject this claim utterly. Owing nothing to anyone, and claiming no debt for myself, I wish only to be free, and for all others everywhere to be free, so long as I violate the rights of no one, and no one does such to me.

Morally speaking, I believe that generosity and charity are virtues. They are morally obligatory. But that has nothing to do with government. What people should do, is not the same as what they must do under threat of force. And let no one have any illusions; government is the threat of physical force, something which is only morally permissible in defense of natural rights (which do not include other people’s money, by the way). If you’re wondering how this principle is at all compatible with our current government…it isn’t.

Something else needs to be said here, concerning Warren’s statements earlier in the video positing what caused the current debt crisis. Among other things, she places blame on Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Let’s first look at the numbers.

The last law to change rates was the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, which, among other things, continued or accelerated tax changes passed in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. In 2002, the highest income bracket for married-filing-jointly began at $307,050. That meant that a couple earning 308K would pay 38.6% just in federal taxes. In 2003, the highest income bracket rose to $311,950, with its new rate lowered to 35%. The same couple, still making 308K, now pays a federal income tax rate of 33%, so a reduction of 5.6%.

Anyone who believes that reducing someone’s taxes by 5.6% led to our current crisis is fooling themselves. I hate to break it to you, but there just aren’t that many wealthy people in this country. A whooping 49% of the population pay no federal income taxes at all (I wonder if they should be allowed to use Warren’s roads). In 2008, the top 5% of earners were people who made more than $159,619. 1040s with AGI of more than $380,354, were in the top ONE percent. That’s 1% of all taxpayers, and .45% of the entire population. Despite being such a tiny group, these taxpayers are responsible for something around 40% of ALL income tax taken by the federal government. The top 10% (earners reporting more than $113,799) are carrying 71% of the federal income tax burden.

And yet it’s not enough, because it will never be enough. Even if this small group of people forked over everything they earned and went to live in shelters, it would not save us.

The real truth about it is, with few exceptions, government spending has outpaced revenue since 1960.

A drop in revenue, even if it occurs, is not the cause of debt. Spending is the cause of debt. If I go out and buy a luxury car I cannot afford, it is not the fault of my employer for not paying me enough, it is my fault for spending what I did not have.

I take issue with referring to tax-cuts as a “cost” to government, because I take issue with the assumption or implication that the government owns everything, and they generously allow us to keep some of it, at a “cost” to them.

Let’s put all that aside while I make one final point. Even if you believed that the government has the right to confiscate a significantly higher portion of the income of a tiny percentage of the population, what good would it do? Do you believe that the government would suddenly become solvent, efficient, and effective? Federal revenues have tripled since 1965. Do you believe that the federal government has gotten three times better?

Or…just three times bigger?

Will higher federal revenue bring an end to military adventures abroad? Will it stop them from debasing the currency by printing and borrowing even more money? Will they cease pursuing policies that create artificial market bubbles that derail economic stability and sabotage savings? Will they cut back on the executive privileges that hush civil liberties to a whisper? Will they no longer foster corporatism and cronyism?

Maybe, just maybe, the answer is not putting more money in the hands of government, even if it is conveniently taken from a very small minority.

“Democracy leads to anarchy, which is mob rule.” – Plato

 

End transmission.

Why Gay Marriage is OK

(subtitled: So Please Shut the Hell Up About It Already)

For reasons that I admit are quite beyond my comprehension, this is a matter of some debate in the so-called Land of the Free. What there is to debate about I simply cannot imagine. Nonetheless, I’m going to lay it all out right here, so if you read this and disagree, please don’t call me, send messages or emails, or ride over my house in a single engine Cessna with threatening banners, because I’ve said it all here and there’s nothing left to discuss.

Parte Una: If You Don’t Like Gay Marriage, Don’t Get One

That sums this section up rather succinctly. I would think nothing else need be said. But in the interest of thoroughness, let me expound.

What is it about morals that make those who have them (or think they have them) feel they can push them on everyone else? How does it impact you at all if a gay couple live in blissful, or bickering, matrimony down the street? How does this effect your life? None and none. Mind your own damn business.

So let’s say that gaydom is a terrible, mortal sin. Let’s say God thinks it’s worse than being a commie. Even if you were to accept such (arbitrary) beliefs, here’s the thing:

YOU CAN’T LEGISLATE GOODNESS.

Forbidding it doesn’t actually save anybody’s soul, because, as you would know if you were to believe in anything religious, the sin is in a person’s heart. This is why such matters are best left up to God (or whoever) and NOT YOU. Because you are not God (or whoever), in case you’ve forgotten.

(This same point also applies to laws about gambling and prostitution, but…another day).

Parte Due: Surprise! Minorities DO Have Rights

In the California situation, the argument has been made that the will of the people in this matter should be upheld; that, if the majority don’t want gay marriage, then “so let it be written, let it be done.”

Given our country’s history, this argument is truly mystifying! If such an argument were valid, the South could very well still be segregated. Today, no one would even entertain the notion that the majority should be able to pass discriminating laws based on race, or even on gender, physical handicap, or religion. It would not matter if even 90% of the population believed that Islam should be banned by law, such a law would OF COURSE be unthinkable. Yes, such a thing would be democratic, but I’ve got news for you, we don’t live in a democracy, we live in a

REPRESENTATIVE REPUBLIC.

(That’s the idea, anyway.)

The Founders knew better than to establish a tyranny of majority. Instead, they left us one, fundamental American principle:

EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.

What part of this do you not understand? Equal means Equal. It doesn’t mean when you feel like it, or when you do or do not feel strongly about it, or for those who you do or do not like. It means everybody, even gay people who want to get married.

Don’t like it? Well, you’re probably not invited to the ceremony anyway.

Epilogue: Oh Yeah, Just In Case

Before someone brings up the counterargument of “What about the children?”, pressing the notion that if gay people can get married, next they’ll be having/adopting children and such a thing cannot be borne, because the children would be warped for life, let me respond succinctly:

Horsehockey.

I’ve seen no real evidence that children raised in perfect, normal, two parent homes (if such things exist) fare any better in life than any other children. Every now and then some group with an agenda tries to push statistics that seem to support such an argument, but we all know the truth: all a child needs is a loving environment and, despite what you may think, many different kinds of people can provide that.

Conclusion:

So please, accept that there are some things in this world that you don’t like or don’t agree with, get over it, and try using your mental energy for something more useful, like charity work, building world peace, or making the perfect lemon meringue pie.

End transmission.