July 31, 2014

Fast food and retail employees are capitalists, too

fast_food_strikes_ap_img_1TAMPA, January 6, 2014 – It’s startling how pervasive Karl Marx’s worldview has become, even here in the supposed home of capitalism. Economists since Adam Smith have represented the division of labor with names for the different roles played by individuals within it at any given time.

But it was Marx who identified “capitalists” as vampires sucking the blood of victim workers. He didn’t use labels such as capitalist and worker merely to explain economic roles, but identified them as separate classes in a political struggle.

Without even realizing it, even pro-market Americans accept these assumptions and largely base their arguments upon them. When the debate devolves into one in which low income earners claim an entitlement to higher wages and high income earners respond by telling them why they don’t deserve higher wages, Marx has already won.

There is no difference between capitalists and workers. All workers are capitalists, even those currently making minimum wage in the fast food or retail industries.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

What Bible is Pope Francis reading?

popeTAMPA, December 18, 2013 – There has already been a lot said about Pope Francis’ EVANGELII GAUDIUM, in which he is critical of free markets. Reactions by Christian proponents of capitalism have ranged from respectful disagreement to full-on denial that he was critical of the market at all.

The latter group is not facing reality. While having since clarified that he is not Marxist, the pope clearly rejected the laissez faire approach to the market in favor of the highly regulated, redistributionist model promoted by the left. His offering is chock full of the usual sophisms leftists use to justify overriding freedom of choice in exchanges of property.

There is no need to address each of the pope’s arguments against free markets from a purely economic perspective. Tom Woods has already done this thoroughly during his December 6 episode of the Tom Woods Show, “Pope Francis on Capitalism.”

What is more surprising than the pope’s leftist economic ideas is his ability to ignore the overtly pro-capitalist themes in the gospels themselves. Jesus’ teaching consistently holds capitalists up as heroes. He never once even hints that the government should direct economic affairs.

The misconception that Jesus’ message is anti-capitalist probably stems from the same confusion that pervades all leftist thinking: the inability to distinguish voluntary from coerced human action. Jesus often exhorts his followers to voluntarily give to the poor. Nowhere in the gospels does he suggest that the Romans or the vassal Jewish government should be empowered to tax the wealthy to provide for the poor.

Tax collectors are de facto sinners, remember?

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

The Thanksgiving Day deception: Exhibit A against public schools

Embarkation_of_the_Pilgrims (640x419)TAMPA, Fla., November 27, 2013 — Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and millions of schoolchildren couldn’t be happier. Not only will they have a fantastic meal on Thursday, but they get a mini-vacation from school. For at least the past week, they’ve been cutting Pilgrim hats and Native American headdresses out of crepe paper and listening to stories about the Pilgrims’ first few years in Plymouth Plantation.

Little do they know they’ve been lied to.

It’s not that what they’re told isn’t true. The Pilgrims did sail over on the Mayflower. They did face incredible hardship, losing half their numbers during the first winter and half of their supplemented numbers again during the second. The Indians did help them. Squanto really did advise them to put a dead fish under each cornstalk to help it grow in the New England soil.

But that’s not why they stopped starving.

Governor William Bradford was quite explicit in his diary about the real reason the Pilgrims starved during the first two winters. It wasn’t because they were suddenly incompetent after prospering in England and the Netherlands for decades.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

Why a free market would work for health care

Doctor_655362410569_AP-676x450 (640x426) (2)TAMPA, October 26, 2013 – Conservatives are confused again, rejoicing in Obamacare’s early operational struggles. One would think that their only objection to the legislation has been that the Democrats wouldn’t run it efficiently. Maybe it was. After all, the Republicans ran a candidate against Obama that had implemented virtually the same program in Massachusetts, promising only to “repeal and replace.”

Replace?

Jon Stewart took the opportunity to join conservatives in criticizing the government’s performance during his interview with Kathleen Sebelius because he knew it wasn’t a principled argument. That the government didn’t have its website ready to handle the volume doesn’t address the principle of Obamacare.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

The absurdities of the income tax

TAMPA, April 15, 2013 – Being a libertarian, I agree that all taxation is theft. I hope that someday the human race “progresses” to the point where coercion, even to purchase “protection” from the official mafia, is held in contempt. But of all of the possible ways to rob us, the income tax is by far the most insidious. Consider some of its absurd stepchildren.

There is some finite cost to defending the borders, running a court system, and administering “justice.” For those who believe that government should do more (like conservatives and liberals), there is likewise a finite cost for building roads, running healthcare programs and taking care of the poor. That cost doesn’t change significantly overnight or even from year to year.

But the income tax doesn’t reflect this. If productivity and therefore incomes double due to some new technology, the amount of money owed to the government doubles, even though there are less poor people, more private sector “infrastructure” projects and less crime (crime goes up during recessions, down during booms). The more productive Americans are, the bigger and more oppressive a government they get.

Talk about a bad incentive.

It also discourages productivity in general and encourages wasteful consumption. Anyone who has had any business success knows that at a certain point, additional income costs you money. You would rather stop producing more than allow the additional income to put you at the low end of a higher tax bracket. So you produce less to keep more.

The flipside of that is frivolous consumption. If you’re showing too much profit near the end of the fiscal year, you look for things to buy that you don’t really need so that you can write them off as business expenses. You’d rather purchase something that you’ll get some use out of rather than give that money to the government. If not for the income tax, you might have reinvested that money in producing even more goods or services and making society richer.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

More anti-libertarian nonsense: libertarianism failed African-Americans

TAMPA, April 6, 2013 ― If my colleague Chris Ladd had written the usual, libertarians-are-racists screed, it would be unworthy of a response. But he didn’t. In fact, his piece “How Libertarianism failed African Americans” is a thoughtful and philosophically consistent argument that clearly disclaims any accusation that libertarianism is inherently racist.

But it’s still nonsense. That it is eloquently stated makes it all the more harmful.

Ladd’s premise is that racism and Jim Crow presented libertarianism with a dilemma. Libertarians oppose all government interference with freedom of association and free markets, but blacks were being “oppressed” by the voluntary choices of white people not to serve them. Therefore, libertarians had to choose between staying true to their principles or supporting the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which meant granting the federal government the power to override private decisions.

Most libertarians don’t oppose most sections of the Act, which prohibit governments from discriminating. They oppose those sections which allow the federal government to prohibit private decisions based upon race. Ladd recognizes this distinction, claiming “African Americans repression rose not only from government, but from the culture and personal choices of their white neighbors.”

First, Ladd’s history is completely wrong. Like many conservatives and liberals, Ladd sees libertarianism as a subset of conservatism, an “extreme” version of the conservative philosophy which supposedly advocates a market economy. For him, libertarianism traces back only as far as Barry Goldwater and became an independent movement in the early 1970’s when anti-war conservatives formed the Libertarian Party.

Libertarianism does not follow at all from conservatism. It is the philosophical child of classical liberalism, which struck an uneasy alliance with conservatism during a few, short periods in the 20th century, after the liberal movement completely abandoned individual liberty. The so-called “Old Right” should really be called the “Middle Right,” because conservatism has meant bigger, more interventionist government for most of American (and world) history.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

Even libertarians wrong on Monsanto Protection Act

TAMPA, April 3, 2013 ― While the high priests in black robes were hearing arguments on gay marriage, President Obama quietly signed the continuing resolutions act that keeps the federal government operating in the absence of a budget. Buried inside the bill was language that has become notoriously known as “the Monsanto Protection Act.” The blogosphere exploded with cries of conspiracy, crony capitalism and corruption.

Liberals oppose the provision for the usual reasons: It lets a big corporation “run wild” without appropriate government oversight, free to (gasp!) make bigger profits on food. More thoughtful liberal arguments have suggested it may threaten the separation of powers by allowing the executive branch to override a decision by the judicial.

The lunatic fringe believes that Monsanto will control the world’s food supply through intellectual property laws and enslave us all, like the evil corporation did with oxygen in Total Recall. Of course, let’s not forget that old saying. “Just because I’m paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”

The liberal reaction to this bill and Monsanto’s activities in general is not surprising. It’s the libertarian reaction that’s surprising and disappointing. Even the Ron Paul crowd sounds like New Deal Democrats when it comes to this corporate farming giant.

They say that regardless of how much he supports the free market, everyone has that one issue that he is hopelessly socialist on. For some, it’s roads and so-called “infrastructure.” For others, it’s intellectual property. For Thomas Jefferson, it was education. Apparently, for libertarians it’s farming.

Now, if libertarians want to argue that corporations shouldn’t exist at all, that the privilege of limited liability violates individual rights and leads to market distortions, that regulating the markets only insulates large corporations from competition, that’s one thing. I’ve been there, written that.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

Anti-libertarian nonsense: Those government roads

TAMPA, March 22, 2013 — Libertarians have to deal with a lot of nonsense when making their case. Invariably, if a libertarian suggests any reduction in the power of the state, he is regaled with this supposedly devastating rejoinder:

“So, I suppose I won’t see you driving on any of those government roads.”

There are many reasons to stomp on the stupid button. Here are just a few.

First, there is the implication that the libertarian is disingenuous or even ungrateful. He seeks to reduce the power and influence of the state, perhaps even (gasp!) lower taxes, yet still has the audacity to drive on the roads that the government provides.

This argument holds no water. After being forced to purchase a road whether he wishes to or not and being virtually prohibited from building his own, exactly why should the libertarian not use the road he has paid for? Where is the contradiction in pointing out that the government road he was forced to buy would have been cheaper and of higher quality if it were produced by the market? Exactly why is he disingenuous or ungrateful by suggesting that the next road be financed the same way as houses and factories?

Of course, if the government didn’t build the roads, they wouldn’t exist, right? The proponents of this farcical idea should read some American history. For much our first century, the chief domestic policy debate was over whether the government should be allowed to subsidize roads, and the government side lost. As Tom Dilorenzo writes in How Capitalism Saved America,

“But the fact is, most roads and canals were privately financed in the nineteenth century. Moreover, in virtually every instance in which state, local or federal government got involved in building roads and canals, the result was a financial debacle in which little or nothing was actually built and huge sums of taxpayer dollars were squandered or simply stolen.”

All of the heroes of that century were on the private road side. Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson argued against government-subsidized roads. Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay and finally Abraham Lincoln – the proponents of state capitalism and privileges for the wealthy – argued for them.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

Obama has state of the delusion speech shovel ready

TAMPA, February 12, 2013 — Pundits are already atwitter over tonight’s annual exercise in political posturing. The question many are asking is whether Obama will stay on the attack against his Republican opponents or attempt to use the speech to identify areas where he can work with them.

The real question is whether the president will make a single remark that bears any resemblance to reality.

The State of the Union address (SOU) has always been little more than a nationally televised stump speech. As all presidents believe that anything happening anywhere in the country is a direct result of their policies, none have ever wanted to paint a less than rosy picture about the supposed “state of the union.” After all, if it’s in a bad state, it must be their fault.

However, with the U.S. now in full-fledged collapse, the speeches have become so detached from reality that they should be called “state of the delusion” addresses.

The speech is interminably long, but let’s look ahead to the main areas it will cover and try to separate fantasy from reality.

The president will remind us that he inherited an economy in shambles, which is true. He will hope that listeners draw the inference that his predecessor was wholly at fault for this, but that isn’t close to true. Every president since at least Teddy Roosevelt contributed to the problem, with the largest contributions coming from Democrats.

It will really turn bizarre when Obama starts talking about “the recovery” that’s underway. We’ll be told that while we’re not out of the woods and there is still “a lot of work to do (i.e., more government meddling to accomplish),” new jobs are being created, new industries are flourishing and things are generally looking up.

In reality, the United States is in a depression, just like the one in the 1930’s, and it’s being prolonged for all of the same reasons. The official numbers say that unemployment has been hovering around 8 percent, but that’s only because they’ve changed the way unemployment is measured. If they measured it the same way that they did in the 1930’s, unemployment would be the same as it was in the 1930’s.

As an aside, there isn’t any substantive economic distinction between “recession” and “depression.” Politicians just decided to stop calling them depressions to con the public. After a while, they started believing their own bovine waste products.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

But aren’t right-to-work laws also unjust?

TAMPA, December 13, 2012 ― As expected, the reaction to Monday’s column about Michigan’s right-to-work legislation inspired spirited discussion.

Weeding out both praise and invective that were unresponsive to my argument, there was a dissent that had merit. It was the libertarian argument that right-to-work laws also violate the rights of employers and employees to make a voluntary contract. An employer should be free to require membership in the union and/or payment of dues as a condition of employment.

Like most libertarians, I agree with that argument in principle, but one cannot evaluate right-to-work laws in a vacuum.

Right-to-work laws and the Taft-Hartley Act from which they proceed are wholly a reaction to the Wagner Act. The proponents of Taft-Hartley first tried to get the Wagner Act repealed. When the Supreme Court ruled Wagner constitutional, conservatives passed Taft-Hartley. If the Wagner Act were not already law, Taft-Hartley would be both unnecessary and unjust.

However, in the context of the Wagner act, neither is necessarily true. A brief allegory will illustrate.

Employer Smith sits down at the bargaining table with Union Jones. The two discuss potential terms of an employment contract, but are unable to reach an agreement. Jones wants more than Smith is willing or able to pay. Smith gets up to walk away.

Just then, Luca Brasi walks up and makes Smith “an offer he can’t refuse.” Brasi puts a gun to Smith’s head and invites him to sit back down, assuring him that at the end of the meeting, either his brains or his signature will be on a collective bargaining agreement.

Brasi is the Wagner Act.

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