Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Inflation Calculator

Check out the inflation calculator.

By plugging in a few numbers, you are instantly able to compare the value of the dollar in various years, from 1800 through 2005. I’ve played around with it, and noticed a few things.

Compare the value of $10,000 in 1800 (the beginning of the calculator’s statistics) to 1913 (the first year of the establishment of the Federal Reserve). In this 113 year period, we actually experienced an overall drop in prices – deflation. What cost $10000 in 1800 would cost only $5674.03 in 1913.

Why? Very simple. During this time, the dollar was backed by gold, and there was no central bank that had control over the entire monetary system, empowered to inflate the currency at will. Economic growth during this time enabled the production of various goods and services to be accomplished with greater and greater efficiency. The dollar was a stable form of currency, and the goods and services available for purchase in the economy became cheaper relative to the dollar, which had a more-or-less fixed (or slowly growing) supply. It is a basic economic truth that if the quantity of good “A” increases, while the supply of good “B” stays the same (or decreases, or increases at a lower rate than “A”), then one unit of “B” will command more of good “A” in a given exchange. It's the basic law of relative scarcity.

Now, compare $10,000 in 1913 to 2005 (the years of the Federal Reserve’s existence). What cost $10000 in 1913 would cost $191099.09 in 2005. In the 92 years of the Federal Reserve’s existence, expansion of the money supply has caused the value of the dollar, in terms of its purchasing power to drop incredibly…by what? 2000 percent? …and most of that came after Nixon completely the tie between the dollar and gold in 1971. In fact, from 1913 to 1971, what cost $10k would have been inflated to just over $40k, while $10k in 1971 would be the equivalent of about $47k on 2005.

The Federal Reserve is the greatest threat to liberty known to man. It is a thiefm able to steal the riches out from underneath the U.S. citizenry, without it’s victim even knowing the theft is taking place. It is the cause of the business cycle, the boom-bust ritual which causes capital to be malinvested, while eroding prospects for a prosperous and secure future. A fiat currency has no real value beyond a political promise that the government will ensure its value.

It’s time to abolish the Federal Reserve, and put the dollar firmly back on solid ground, out of the reach of scheming politicians and their inflation-hounds at the central bank.

Oh…and one other thing… My first job, when I was in high-school, I made $3.50/hour washing dishes at a local restaurant. That was 1989. Today, that would be the equivalent of making $5.46/hour. How many high school students make that at their part time jobs? Think about it next time you hear someone complaining about raising the minimum wage.

Yet Another Example of Big Government Republicanism

Hat tip to Dayton Politics who says “Vote NO on Kettering Income Tax”

As a liberty-loving, jealously-protective-of-my-paycheck Libertarian, 99.9999999% of the time I will vote no on any tax levy, simply on principle. Income taxes, possibly the worst form of taxation EVER, are no exception. Unfortunately, I do not live in Kettering, so I will be unable to cast a NO vote, but I wish the citizens of Kettering luck in their bid to fight back the ravenous demands of their local politicos.

But there is a bigger point here. My understanding is that the Kettering City Council is dominated (almost exclusively, I think) by Republicans. Isn’t it odd that the “Conservative” Republicans are making a bid to raise taxes?

I also once heard that almost every Republican on that same city council supports overturning the concept of private property, to allow the City Council to dictate to private business owners what sort of smoking policy they may have.

Conservatives! This is what YOUR party does! It raises taxes and it dictates how people can and cannot use their property! When are you going to wake up and smell the Big Government Subsidized Coffee? Your continued support of Republicans tells them that you LIKE what they do, and it makes you look like complete buffoons when you whine about your lost liberties!

Standard Oil, Part II?

Well, it was bound to be proposed sooner or later…

Senator Says Senate Must Study Breakup of Oil Firms

And not surprising, the anti-capitalistic Left is cheering.

Now, I know many people will point to the fact that there are only a few, ultra-huge oil companies in existence, and that fact alone serves to decrease the necessary competition to affect lower consumer prices. But, it is not the problem per se. Many times, public policy is to blame for the creation of tightly-consolidated, oligopolistic markets, and I’ve heard many commentators point out that if we were to focus on that, the natural incentives of the market would remedy the situation on its own.

Many others like to point out the similarity of today’s oil markets to the “monopoly” created by Standard Oil, which was eventually “busted” by anti-trust legislation. A couple of points need to be raised in response to any who want to draw such comparisons.

First, according to Burton Folsom Jr, in “The Myth of the Robber Barons”, John D. Rockefeller’s company may have had an overwhelming domination on the domestic market, but on a global scale, Standard Oil faced fierce competition from foreign companies in Russia, and other places, who had access to better quality crude oil reserves. If it wasn’t Rockefeller putting these Mom-and-Pop refineries out of their misery, it would have been foreign competition. Furthermore, because of Rockefeller’s superb business sense and his relentless consolidation of the domestic refinery industry, the price of kerosene dropped from 58 cents per gallon to 26 cents, between 1865 and 1870, so the claim that monopoly production was harmful to consumers just doesn’t bear scrutiny of the facts.

Secondly, Rockefeller’s success was the envy of his less-efficient competitors, who were the major forces behind the forthcoming anti-trust legislation. Indeed, anti-trust legislation has always been the tool of inefficient businesses to strike back at their betters, much to the detriment of consumers. Economic historian Thomas DiLorenzo explains this in an essay here.

Third, as just was reported recently, Iraqi oil production is at its lowest point in many years, this adversely affects world supply. Now, while I appreciate the Left’s anti-war sentiment, I’m surprised that they would fail to notice that the continuing war effort is the major catalyst behind the uncertainty in the oil markets, which has a tendency to make investors nervous. In fact, I recently read somewhere that trading in the oil futures market has been a bit subdued lately because of the uncertainty about war in Iraq, and the possibility of a new war with Iran.

If the left wants to really do something about gas prices, it would stop yelling about those damned oil companies, and focus its energies into stopping this war-mongering regime. The more supply stays restricted, and the uncertainty in the market injects higher levels of risk to the companies operating in those markets, then we will see higher profits to those companies, because, as any freshman finance student learns in his first week, risk and reward are positively correlated.

So, my friends on the left, what’s the deal? Do you want to continue proposing band-aid solutions, or do you want to strike at the root of the problem?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Oil? What Oil?

Remember all those claims about how Iraqi oil reserves would pay for the invasion and reconstruction of Iraq? Yeah, me too.

I guess that was just another far-flung fantasy...or deliberate deception...of the Neocon war crowd.

Iraq Oil Outpust Lowest Since Invasion

Do Reading and Politicians Mix?

E.J. Montani is whining about how Arizona politicians sneak in their unpopular pet projects into bills that eventually get passed. (Federal politicians do similar things, I am sure, only in different ways…)

It's called a "strike-all" amendment, in which the title of a proposed law is retained but the actual language is replaced with something completely different. You might have read about it in Sunday's paper. It's really simple.

Every bill proposed by a lawmaker is given a title. It then goes through a series of hearings before various committees, in which people like us can make comments about it, in favor or against. Sometimes, after a pet project fails, a politician will take another bill, strike out all the language below the title and replace it with his or her failed bill.

Perhaps they need a “Read the Bills Act”, like the DownsizeDC Foundation is trying to promote.

Imagine a radical idea like that…Politicians actually reading the laws they pass? Who would propose a silly idea like that?

Only someone who cares about clean and open government, that’s who.

Gas Prices Soar, Democrats Say Cut Taxes!

On the Federal level and the State level...(yeah, sure, Hawaii...but anyway....)

That's right! Democrats...not Republicans...are working to suspend taxes on gasoline to help alleviate the burdens of soaring gas prices. Regarding the federal measure:

The measure, proposed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), would reduce the cost of gas by $0.184 per gallon and the cost of diesel by $0.244 per gallon. The move, aides say, will provide $100 million dollars per day in relief.

Conservatives? What say you? Why isn't this kind of proposal coming from your "lesser of two evils" party? Let me see you try and argue your way out this one....

Now, I'll grant, the proposal isn't all rose petals. There are a few thorns, like:

Democrats say the money will be made up by cutting six billion dollars in tax breaks to oil firms. Currently, the money from the federal gas tax goes to the Highway Trust fund.
Democrats are also working on an amendment that would give federal authorities more power to investigate price gouging, aides say. The measure could be introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who is examining the idea.

But still...we should give credit where credit is due.

In the end, is this proposal going to be effective? Probably not. But I think the major significance of this is that its shows Democrats are beginning to think about these problems in the right way. When there's a problem, let's cut taxes, and remove government obstacles to the free market. The "cutting spending" part hasn't quite sunk in, I see...or at least not what really constitutes to Senator Menendez, tax loop holes are equivalent of "expenditures". But I give him an A for effort, even if the bottom line is not an overall reduction in taxes, but rather a shifting of the tax burden from one group (consumers) to another (producers).

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Plain Dealer Reporter Commits Libel; Conservative Ideologue Scores A Point

Recently, I’ve had some disagreements with a fellow blogger friend of mine, Speedothebrief, over at The Conservatorium of Conservatism on the issue of media bias. I've taken Speedo to task for making the non-statement that (duh!) the media is “biased” – in his view, a “liberal” bias – and that his time would be better spent pursuing more substantive issues.

Of course, as a libertarian, whose views are all but ignored by the “mainstream” media, its easy for me to sit back on my high horse and scoff at the incessant whining of him and his kind.

That is, until I see an article like this, in which the libertarian label is so blatantly slandered, one can only marvel at the sheer audacity - not to mention complete ignorance - of the author.

Here we have a former Geauga County Commissioner who advocates sterilization and castration of welfare mothers and deadbeat dads described as a “Republican-turned-Libertarian”.

Before I even had the chance to soundly scold this writer for spreading such vicious libel, I was told that Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Peirce wrote a letter to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, asserting that Mr. Albert most certainly was NOT anything close to resembling a libertarian. While libertarians do believe in holding people accountable for their actions, no libertarian would ever agree that such cruel and unusual, not to mention barbaric, punishments would ever be suitable.

In the next few days, the following letter is expected to be published in that paper:

Michael O'Malley's article about Geauga County Commissioner Craig Albert (P.D., 27 April 2006) describes him as "Republican-turned-Libertarian." I object. Nothing in libertarian philosophy and no plank of the Libertarian Party platform could be construed to defend sterilization of welfare mothers or castration of fathers who fail to pay child support. Libertarians believe in individual freedom and responsibility and object to violence by government and efforts by government to control the bodies and lives of its citizens.

Call Mr. Albert any names you like, but don't call him Libertarian.

Bill Peirce
Libertarian Candidate for Governor of Ohio

Dr. Peirce was much more civil than I would have been, that’s for sure.

But in the humble spirit so admirably displayed by Dr. Peirce, let me offer this olive branch:

Speedo…you may be right. Media bias is a real bitch.

The Carnival of Mises is one my favorite web sites – a must read site that I visit daily. It is the website for the Ludwig von Mises institute, and is dedicated to the advancement of the Austrian school economics, private property, and free markets. It is a decidely libertarian organization, and works to do its work in the “marketplace of ideas”.

Each day, on, you can find a new article, written by one of its many contributors. Some articles are scholarly, but many are readable by the intelligent layman. The topics range anything from economics, politics, history, foreign affairs, and culture. Here is my take on the last 10 articles:

In George Mason: Protectionism at its Worst, author T. Norman Van Cott takes a look at one of our most underappreciated Founding Fathers, and finds some startling hypocrisy. While Mr. Mason was instrumental in the the authoring of the Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution, he has seemingly irreconcilable differences on the question of slavery. While he wants to end the international slave trade, he also wanted to strengthen the property rights of slave holders.

What happens when one looks at Mason's two positions through the lens of the economist? The lens uncovers an underlying economic consistency between the positions — however morally repugnant they are when juxtaposed. To wit, both positions would, if enacted, advance Mason's economic interests. Mason becomes, in fact, the public choice economist's prototypical politician. That is, a politician who responds to personal economic incentives just like people in the private sector.

In How Big Is Bush’s Government? , author Mark Brandly discusses what is so painfully obvious: the Bush administration makes the a laughing stock out of the Conservative movement which blindly supports their man. He breaks down the numbers to demonstrate how large the Federal Leviathan has become. And is there any end to the growth in sight? Well, not if we keep electing Republicans to office, there isn't!

Since 1930, in addition to the spending increases, the feds also drove prices up more than 1,100%, according to the Consumer Price Index. Also, we should suspect that these inflation numbers are low since government officials have an incentive to underestimate inflation.

If we adjust the spending numbers to account for this inflation, real federal spending is 65 times larger than it was in 1930. The US population has more than doubled since 1930 and if we take the population changes into account, real per capita spending is 27 times higher than in 1930.

The 19th century political economist Henry George is the subject of Karen DeCoster’s article, Henry George and the Tariff Question . I’ve been interested in the ideas of George lately because he is primarily known for his “land value tax”, which Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Peirce would like see implemented as a part of property tax reform. In this article, however, DeCoster looks at George’s position on free trade, and whether it is economically beneficial or harmful.

The problem identified by Henry George, in Protection or Free Trade, is that of poverty, and more specifically, wages and unemployment. What follows from that is George's systematic and all-embracing dissertation of the effects that protectionist and free-trade policies have on the wealth of a nation and its individuals. Naturally, he arrives at a conclusion that is decidedly in favor of free trade — as opposed to protective prescriptions — as a surefire solution to the ills of poverty.

George Reisman asks Where Would General Motors Be Without the United Automobile Workers Union? An important question lately, since there have been an increasing number of well-publicized strikes/lockouts in the news lately. Furthermore, as General Motors is in a heap of financial troubles, which have spilled over to various suppliers, like Delphi, and with unions workers facing some pretty dim prospects, discussing the impact of unions seems to be particularly relevant.

Without the UAW, GM would have been free to produce in the most-efficient, lowest cost way and to introduce improvements in efficiency as rapidly as possible. Sometimes this would have meant simply having one or two workers on the spot do a variety of simple jobs that needed doing, without having to call in half a dozen different workers each belonging to a different union job classification and having to pay that much more to get the job done. At other times, it would have meant just going ahead and introducing an advance, such as the use of robots, without protracted negotiations with the UAW resulting in the need to create phony jobs for workers to do (and to be paid for doing) that were simply not necessary.

(Unbelievably, at its assembly plant in Oklahoma City, GM is actually obliged by its UAW contract to pay 2,300 workers full salary and benefits for doing absolutely nothing.
The New York Times
describes it, "Each day, workers report for duty at the plant and pass their time reading, watching television, playing dominoes or chatting. Since G.M. shut down production there last month, these workers have entered the Jobs Bank, industry's best form of job insurance. It pays idled workers a full salary and benefits even when there is no work for them to do.")

Ludwig von Mises once said that if classical liberalism (now more akin to libertarianism) could be summed up in two words, they would be “private property”. In Salvation Through Private Property Alone, Brad Edmonds examines how private property has a tendency to mitigate conflict and other problems in society.

We've experienced several grand conflicts in recent weeks, months, and years — the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the demonstrations and debates over immigration policy, the war on Iraq, and so on. While it is the natural tendency of news outlets to cover big problems (i.e., it's not news when we all go to work and get back home safely every day), it remains that recent months have seen more than their fair share of disasters. What all these conflicts have in common, however, has not been covered by the mass media: In a free society with all property being privately owned, the problems would have been reduced or entirely prevented.

What is the latest rage in Statism? Smoking ban. In Where There’s Smoke, You Don’t Have to Be, Ninos Malek sticks it to the Health Fascists.

The only two parties that seem to get mentioned in many of these cases are the smokers and the non-smokers. The former argue that it is their right to smoke and the latter argue that it is their right to have clean air. Who seems to be forgotten are the business owners! This misuse of the word "public" is the main cause.

When I ask my friends or students if the government should have the right to tell me whether or not I can smoke a cigar in my own home, they unanimously tell me "No!" But isn't my home where other people come to eat, drink, talk, or watch television a "public" place? Yet, the same people who concede that my home is private property conveniently do not see the connection
between my home and my restaurant (or other establishment). Why? Because they say my restaurant is a public place, established for the benefit of my patrons. I hate to disappoint them, but my business is for my benefit. Sure, I understand that I need many loyal customers who love to spend money at my establishment in order to have a thriving business. However, what people and legislators must realize is that my restaurant, bar, or casino is my private property just like
my home is my private property.
Murray Rothbard was probably the most prolific libertarian writers, scholars, and thinkers in the past 50 years. Many libertarians owe an intellectual debt of gratitude to this man. Having passed away in the early 90s, he is long from being forgotten, and frequently republishes various essays and book excerpts of his. In Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution , a rather scholarly article, he takes issue with certain approaches to the punishment of polluters, specifically the nobel proze winning Ronald Coase.

Another serious problem with the Coase-Demsetz approach is that pretending to be value-free, they in reality import the ethical norm of "efficiency," and assert that property rights should be assigned on the basis of such efficiency. But even if the concept of social efficiency were meaningful, they don't answer the questions of why efficiency should be the overriding consideration in establishing legal principles or why externalities should be internalized above
all other considerations. We are now out of Wertfreiheit and back to unexamined ethical questions.

And what to do about the welfare state? Many libertarians have discussed this for years. David Gordon reviews Charles Murray’s latest book, in an article called, A Man, A Plan, A Flop, and finds it extremely lacking, rifled with contradiction, and just plain counter-productive.

Murray rejects the libertarian approach because it is unacceptable to the American public. Are we then to regard his guaranteed income plan as a compromise with political reality? Unfortunately for this suggestion, Murray also thinks that his own plan exceeds the bounds of political possibility: "The ladder I am describing to you would work if it existed, but today's American politicians will not build it. I must ask you to suspend belief and play along." (p.xv) He cannot then imagine himself a Milton Friedman and say, e.g., "Ideally government should play no role in education. But the public will not accept this. Instead, educational vouchers are the closest to the free market that we can in practice attain." Friedman thought that his proposals were realistic; and however much one may disagree with them — would not vouchers lead to more government control, rather than less? — one can grant that he had a case worth presenting. Not so Murray — what is the point of a detailed account of an inferior plan that cannot be realized?

Want a look at a projection for the economy? Look no further than Sowing the Seeds of the Next Crisis, by Thorsten Polleit. In an article riddled with charts and graphs, he takes a look at various economic indicators, to show how government creates the crisis we face.

One should not get carried away by widespread euphoria. Taking into account the lessons learned from analyzing monetary matters from the point of view of the Austrian School of Economics, it becomes crystal clear that the very foundations of the monetary system on which economic prosperity of the industrial countries so heavily depends keep deteriorating at a rapid pace.

And if you didn’t think that Republicans were fundamentally anti-capitalist, just take a look at the latest calls for a witch-hunt of the commerical class. Prominent Republicans are taking a page out of the Soviet play book, looking to string up some “economic criminals”. William Anderson provides analysis in Republicans Target “Economic Crimes”

Once upon a time in that former country known as the Soviet Union, much of the law centered around the existence of what the government called "economic crimes" or "speculation" (a code word for "free enterprise"). Today, we see the top lawmakers in the United States trying to take a page out of the USSR in calling for prosecution — and, one would suppose, imprisonment — of oil company executives because gasoline prices have risen drastically at the pump.

And finally, today’s article, a rather scholarly one on the ideas of another 19th century economist, Charles Holt Carroll, who was know for his defense of sound money. Read The Organization of Debt into Currency: On the Monetary Thought of Charles Holt Carroll, by Robert Blumen.

Carroll advanced several brilliant arguments against the system of "fictitious money": that it is based on a confusion in thinking; that it creates a state of permanent indebtedness; that it leads to national impoverishment rather than prosperity; that it results in price inflation; and that it inevitably leads to bank runs and then to systemic banking crises; and that it unjustly redistributes wealth from the honest and industrious to bankers and their accomplices.

So, there you have it. A sampling of some of the best articles posted recently at one of the very best educational sites on the web. Many Libertarian readers of this blog will already be familiar with it. Conservatives and Liberals should add it to their favorites, or even subscribe to the mail list to have the daily article delivered promptly.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What Country Besides Canada Would NEED a Law Against Dwarf Tossing?


Bill 97 2003 An Act to ban dwarf tossing

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

Dwarf tossing banned

1. (1) No person shall organize adwarf tossing event or engage in dwarf tossing.


(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.


2. This Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.

Short title

3. The short title of this Act is the Dwarf Tossing Ban Act, 2003.

Happy Tax Freedom Day!

Do you realize that, so far, nothing that you’ve earned at your job this year is yours?

That’s right. Since January 1, you have been sweating your ass off working to satisfy the demands of greedy politicians and their cronies.

According to the Tax Foundation, April 26th is “Tax Freedom Day”, when you’ve officially paid off your debt of federal, state, and local taxes. Every day you've work from New Year’s day to April 25th went straight to the politicians. Today, you begin to work for yourself.

And lest you think that our supposedly “conservative” President and Congress are working to reduce your tax burden, this year’s tax burden has come later than last year’s Tax Freedom Day, just as last year was later than 2004.

“Tax freedom will come three days later in 2006 than it did in 2005,” said Tax Foundation President Scott A. Hodge, “and fully 10 days later than in 2003 and 2004 when a combination of slow income growth and tax cuts caused Tax Freedom Day to arrive comparatively early, on April 16.”

However, 2006’s Tax Freedom Day is still considerably earlier than it was in 2000, when the economic boom, the tech bubble and higher tax rates pushed tax burdens to a record high, and Tax Freedom Day was postponed until May 3.

“The economy has been growing at a good clip since mid-2003,” said Hodge, “and those growing incomes are pushing people into higher tax brackets. When that happens, tax collections grow faster than incomes.”

(Insert generic comment about Republicans being wasteful tax-and-spenders here.)

(Insert comment about delusional Conservatives who vote Republican, fantasizing that it will help to improve matters, here.)

(Insert comment about libertarians who work to reduce government, within and outside of, the Libertarian Party, here.)

In any event, enjoy your freedom. You’ve earned it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Here we go again!

Bush Orders Probe into Gas Prices

For all those of you Conspiracy-theorists out there who think that the current dilemma is the fault of those evil robber-barons at Exxon-Mobil, take time to actually think about a few things:

1) Have you actually looked up the financial data of various oil companies, including their stock price, and compared it with data from 1 year ago, 2 years ago, 5 years ago? You can go to any investment website, like or MSN Money to find out this information. How different are their profit margins? If these companies are raking in obscene profits, then it stands to reason that their stock price would be through the roof. (And also, would be a good investment opportunity for you.) So, what's the data say?

2) Everyone demands political action when the price of gas gets to high, but how many of you have sat on your lazy asses, never raising a sound when the environmental movement has virtually halted all construction on newer, modern, and more efficient refineries here in America?

This latest move by Bush, if it isn't just for show, (which it probably is, as the polls are indicating) only demonstrates that our own President has no understanding of basic economics.

Then again, economics is a subject that many people seem to lack proper understanding.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Separation of School and State - An idea worth reconsidering

Nothing starts an argument with State-Lovers quite like the suggestion that we should separate school and state - that's right, abolish government schools - once and for all. They'll say, "oh, but we need to make sure every child gets an education", or "the poor won't be educated", or "the profit motive will end up short-changing our children", or "'we' as a society need educated people"...or some other tripe.

Vin Suprynowicz writes in-depth about the pre-compulsory government education era in America, when literacy levels were high, and education was cheap and efficient.


Not only was private education in demand, but it was quite successful. Literacy in the North rose from 75 percent to between 91 and 97 percent between 1800 and 1840, the years prior to compulsory schooling and governmental provision and operation of education. In the South during the same time period, the rate grew among the white population from between 50 and 60 percent to 81 percent. (Sheldon Richman, Separating School & State, p. 38.) ..."

This year, by comparison, a study by the American Institutes for Research found that more than 75 percent of students at 2-year colleges and more than 50 percent of students at 4-year colleges in 2006 "lack the skills to perform complex literacy tasks ... ." These are today's college kids, mind you -- supposedly the cream of the American crop, youths on whose schooling our unionized government propaganda camps have squandered more treasure per pupil than any other society in history.

After the 1840s, Mr. Brouillette reports, "Government control of schooling was intended to bring education to a larger segment of the population, but the result was that it simply pushed aside existing private schools without substantially increasing overall enrollment rates. As tax expenditures on the government system increased during the mid-1800s, more parents were drawn away from tuition-charging schools while the percentage of the child population being educated remained essentially constant. Government usurpation of schooling did little to increase educational access for children. Rather, it simply shifted the responsibility of education from the family to the state. (Andrew J. Coulson, 'Market Education: The Unknown History,' New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1999, p. 83.)

So there you have it. Government schooling has destroyed the quality and diversity of education while driving up the costs. Politicians mold the minds of young children, and our culture embraces an ethic of irresponsibility. (It's not a parent's responsibility to educate their's the gubb'ment!). We have societal conflict over cirricula and values that would not exist but for the one-size-fits-all government system. I really feel embarassed for anyone that can say, with a straight-face, the Government educational system is not only needed, but successful as well. The plain facts of history prove otherwise.

But the most insidious aspect of government schooling is how it feeds the Cult of the Omnipotent State, and it's industrial allies.

The purpose of "modern, industrialized, compulsory schooling was to make a sort of surgical incision into the prospective unity of these underclasses," John Taylor Gatto concludes in "Against School: How public education cripples our kids and why," published in the September 2001 edition of Harper's. "Divide children by subject, by age-grading, by constant rankings on tests, and by many other more subtle means, and it was unlikely that the ignorant mass of mankind, separated in childhood, would ever re-integrate into a dangerous whole." (Dangerous, that is to say, to the planned domination of the corporate elites.)

That's right, schools are divisive. They're all about ranking and dividing. When you were in school, how much energy went into differentiating the "popular" kids from the nerds? If cultivating fertile minds -- as opposed to stressing herd unity and obedience -- was ever the goal of these institutions, why are the bright kids so ostracized?

The purpose of government schooling, Gatto learns from Alexander Inglis's 1918 book, "Principles of Secondary Education," is "to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.

See... We want a nation, not of free-thinking, rational, enlightened people capable of making informed decisions about the direction their nation; but that of sheep, compliant and obediently following orders of those in authority- be it government, or the bosses in the factory. We replace the self-reliant rugged individualism that marked our ancestors with a collectivist, I'm-a-victim mentality ready to blame everyone else for our problems. What better way to do that then to control what and how and when young minds learn important lessons in life.

Socialized education. Gotta love it!

And while so many conservatives (rightfully) argue against socialized medicine, few will not hesitate to defend the concept of government involvement in education. At best, many on the right will defend "vouchers"...without ever considering that what government pays for, government controls. Vouchers will do nothing but get private schools hooked on the subsidies, and when the regulators come knockin', they will be faced with surrendering their autonomy. Of course, to argue that the government should spend its money and NOT oversee how its spent, invites criticisms of fiscal irresponsibility. It never occurs to these voucher proponents that they should address the fundamental issue: why is government involved in first place? So, Conservatives are faced with a dilemma that can only end in one way: continued control of schools by government.

It's time to separate school and state. It's the ONLY solution to improve our educational system.

Federal Thugs Crackdown Copyright Infringement

Just in case anyone has any warm and cuddly feelings about the government being "we the people", we bring you this photo which demonstrates just exactly what happens to one of "we the people" when we are confronted by agents of the state.

The storm troopers shown above are members of the Beneficient Order of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (three legal products, the last time I checked....)

The poor fellow's "crime"? Looking "suspicious".
Jeremiah Ransom, a sophomore from Macon, was leaving a Wesley Foundation pirate vs. ninja event when he was detained.

After being held in investigative detention, he was found to have violated no criminal laws and was not arrested.

The most absurd aspect of this altercation?

Ransom was wearing black sweatpants and an athletic T-shirt with one red bandanna covering the bottom half of his face and another covering the top of his head, Williamson said.

“Seeing someone with something across the face, from a federal standpoint — that’s not right,” McLemore said, explaining why agents believed something to be amiss.

Now...when the BATF (or any other Federal Death Squad) raids a target, they are clad head to toe in black costumes, including masked faces. Apparently, the BATF doesn't like people running around in ninja costumes. That's a privelege they reserve for themselves.

(The full article here )

Update on Eminent Domain Conference

This was forwarded to me today from the Castle Coalition. There is no word as to why exactly this was cancelled, nor any indication of when it will be rescheduled. However, there's one thing you can be sure of: many politicians are breathing a sigh of relief!


The Castle Coalition's Ohio Eminent Domain Conference scheduled for April 29 is cancelled. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we do hope to reschedule it for a future date. We'll keep you posted.

Thanks to everyone who expressed interest in attending.

Christina Walsh
Assistant Castle Coalition Coordinator
Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203(703) 682-9320

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Economic Crimes: The Hot Trend

Libertarian Party of Indiana State Chairman Mark Rutherford has posted a very astute commentary on his blog about the growing popularity of “economic crimes” – a category of crime that was very prominent in the Soviet Union. He writes:

In my opinion, it's partly driven by our declining violent crime rate and our increasing need for prosecutors and district attorneys to politically improve themselves by going after "business".

The message is clear out there now - start a business with the real risk of being prosecuted as a criminal some day. Start a business and you are now a government tax collector, immigration law enforcer and social worker implementing the latest government social benefit craze. Once you're done with this, then you can do what you thought business was all about - serving your customer. But only after you finish your jail term.

Read the full post here.

A Look at Libertarian Party Politics

Yes, folks… Believe it or not, the Libertarian Party does have it’s own internal “politics”, just like the Ds and the Rs. And just as the followers of Socialist Parties “A” and “B” like to speculate who will be their “guy” in 2008, so has speculation on the LP’s Presidential Candidate begun.

So far, the absolute best summary of the prospective politics in the 2008 Libertarian Party presidential nomination has been done by Tom Knapp on his blog, Knappster, in a series entitled “First Look 2008”.

Here are the entries in this series:

First Look 2008: Karen Kwiatowski

First look 2008: Concerning Libertarian presidential campaigns

First Look 2008: Michael Badnarik

First Look 2008: Some asides

First Look 2008: George Phillies

As more candidates announce their intentions, and/or other developments occur which will impact the race, I’m sure Tom will continue to weigh in on these matters. So far, I think he has done a great job highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate’s qualifications. Furthermore, as the race isn’t going to be decided for another 2 years, it sure is going to be interesting to watch how each of these campaigns develop.

Democrats Embracing Economic Fascism?

So here we find out that there’s a new constituency forming within the Democratic Party. They call themselves the “Hamilton Project” . Anyone knowledgeable of early American history cannot fail to laugh at the irony here.

Broadly put, upon our nation’s founding, there were two distinct factions contending to set the course for our young nation’s political-economic structure: the “Jeffersonians”, those who favored small government, free-trade, and laissez faire economics; and the “Hamiltonians”, who came from a mercantilist background, and favored more active government involvement in the economy – tariffs, subsidies, trade restrictions, and so forth. By the time our third president took office, it was clear that the Jeffersonian faction had won the day.

However, Big Government ideas don’t die easily. While Jefferson’s party, the “Democratic Republicans” (later shortened to “Democrats”), went on as a continuing force in American politics, the mercantilist ideas that marked the Hamiltonian agenda found new life in the Whig party, and later, in the new Republican Party. (Few people remember that the Party of Lincoln was party founded to advance the anti-free market principles of protectionism and corporatism.) By the time the War Between the States rolled around, the south, dominated by Democrats and favoring free trade, was in direct opposition to northern industrial interests that pursued an agenda of restriction in trade. Our first Republican Party president, Abe Lincoln, campaigned to continue an economic blockade of southern economic interests, and not surprisingly, was elected without carrying a single southern state. Democrats, before and after the War Between the States, were largely recognized as the party of limited government, and Republicans, the party of special interests.

Fast forward 150 years. Now, we have the Party of Jefferson, doing an about face and attempting to embrace the ideas of Jefferson’s ideological foe, Alexander Hamilton. Granted, Democrats haven’t actually been the Party of Jefferson for at least 80 years, so this is nothing new. But like I said, it’s funny to see, particularly because every now and then, you do hear Democrats name-drop our third President. (Bill Clinton did it a number of times, I think.)

Personally, I think what both parties need is to start a “Jefferson Project”. Now THAT might get my vote.

Perhaps these “Hamiltonian Democrats” need to read Thomas DiLorenzo’s book, How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present

Another Study of American Empire

For those who are interested in America’s rise to status of Imperial Global Hegemon, this should be an interesting book: Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer. It is a study of the last 110 years of American foreign policy, and our role in various coups – “regime change”, if you will.

Here, the author is interviewed about his book. During the interview, he is asked about primary motives for U.S. intervention in foreign politics. He answers:

A lot of these coups have been studied individually, but what I'm trying to do in my book is see them not as a series of isolated incidents, but rather as one long continuum. And by looking at them that way, I am able to tease out certain patterns that recur over and over again. They don't all fit the same pattern, but it's amazing how many of them do.

You ask about the motivations, and that is one of the patterns that comes through when you look at these things all together. There’s really a three-stage motivation that I can see when I watch so many of the developments of these coups. The first thing that happens is that the regime in question starts bothering some American company. They start demanding that the company pay taxes or that it observe labor laws or environmental laws. Sometimes that company is nationalized or is somehow required to sell some of its land or its assets. So the first thing that happens is that an American or a foreign corporation is active in another country, and the government of that country starts to restrict it in some way or give it some trouble, restrict its ability to operate freely.

Then, the leaders of that company come to the political leadership of the United States to complain about the regime in that country. In the political process, in the White House, the motivation morphs a little bit. The U.S. government does not intervene directly to defend the rights of a company, but they transform the motivation from an economic one into a political or
geo-strategic one. They make the assumption that any regime that would bother an American company or harass an American company must be anti-American, repressive, dictatorial, and probably the tool of some foreign power or interest that wants to undermine the United States. So the motivation transforms from an economic to a political one, although the actual basis for it never changes.

Then, it morphs one more time when the U.S. leaders have to explain the motivation for this operation to the American people. Then they do not use either the economic or the political motivation usually, but they portray these interventions as liberation operations, just a chance to free a poor oppressed nation from the brutality of a regime that we assume is a dictatorship, because what other kind of a regime would be bothering an American company?

Whenever you hear politicians throw around the term “protecting American interests”, be sure to ask “which particular American’s interest?” It should come as no surprise that our foreign policy is just one big corporate-welfare boondoggle, where the blood of young men and women is spilled in order to enrich those fatcat CEOs.

(And for those of you on the “left”, this is not a slam on capitalism. Government intervention is an abandonment of capitalistic principles.)

However, if you are a supporter of American Empire, ask yourself: would you tolerate another government engineering "regime change" in America if they didn't like our trade policies? Or do you think the U.S. is the only country entitled to the benefits of sovereignty?

Reading this, reminds me that I have to get going on reading a couple of books on my shelf that have been sitting there collecting dust – like Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback and Pat Buchanan’s Republic, Not An Empire .

(I should also pick up Johnson’s The Sorrows of Empire , too. I’ve heard it was good.)

As I have not read any of these books, but have only read various reviews, I’d be interested in hearing from anyone regarding their quality. Also, if anyone has any other reading recommendations, I’d be glad to hear them as well.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

More on the Norwood Theft

Normally, I find George Will incredibly boring. But he wrote a great article in this week’s Newsweek about the Norwood, Ohio City Council’s scheme to steal the homes and businesses of hardworking, honest citizens there, in order to turn the property over to a politically connected real-estate developer.

Read Theft In Norwood

He focuses on the plight of an elderly couple, Carl and Joy Gamble, whose home of 35-plus years is threatened with being bulldozed to satisfy the “will of the community”. I’ve met the Gambles on a couple of occasions, and they are the nicest, most pleasant people you have ever met. You have be one cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch to want to kick these people out on the streets.

Then again…we are talking about politicians, aren’t we?

The Gambles say that when the city offered them money for their house, they were not interested. "We had everything we wanted, right there," says Joy, who does not drive but could walk to see her mother in a Norwood nursing home. "We loved that house—that home."

Past tense. Norwood's government, in a remarkably incestuous deal, accepted the developer's offer to pay the cost of the study that—surprise!—enabled the city to declare the neighborhood "blighted" and "deteriorating." NEWSWEEK reader, stroll around your neighborhood. Do you see
any broken sidewalk pavement? Any standing water in a road? Any weeds? Such factors—never mind that sidewalks and roads are government's responsibility—were cited by the developer's study to justify Norwood's forcing the Gambles and their neighbors to sell to the developer so he could build condominiums, office buildings and stores.

The case is currently awaiting decision by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Oh, and now would be a good time to promote the Castle Coalition, an organization dedicated to fighting eminent domain abuse. If you value property rights, then sign up for their email list. Become a member. Send them a donation. Pass it on.

Buffalo Politician Acknowledges Failure of Prohibition

Originally, I am from Western New York. I still have family up there whom I visit regularly, and I still pay some attention to the developments in the area. So I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to see this article:

Giambra Addresses Drug Legalization

Joel Giambra is the Erie County Executive, the county in which Buffalo lies. It’s nice to see a politician coming around to admitting the failure of Prohibition.

Giambra was then asked "how does legalizing drugs change the system breaking down there" and he said "when you legalize you have the ability to control...right now its out of control ."

You would think, given the fact that drug prohibition simply fosters uncontrolled, criminal black markets, that Conservatives everywhere would be in favor of legalization. After all, don’t Conservatives believe in “law and order” above all?

Now…I may be taken to task over this next statement by some of my more hardcore libertarian friends, but I’ve always said that when it comes to drug Prohibition, I’d be perfectly willing to settle for a compromise and have drugs of all sorts re-legalized and then (gasp!) regulated, as opposed to the current system, where they illegal and unregulated.

Of course, leave it up to the bureaucrats who benefit the most from Government-caused crisis to spout off their tired old rhetoric.

7 News spoke to Richard Gallagher, the executive director of Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services. Gallagher says he believes that legalizing drugs sends out the wrong message to kids. He also says that Marijuana is just the gateway drug to heavier ones.
For one, divorce is legal. Premarital sex is legal. Pornography is legal. Booze is legal. Smoking tobbacco is legal….(for now, anyway). Britney Spears is legal. What kind of messages do THESE things send to the chillllllllllllllldren???? (I thought Hillary Clinton cornered the market on using "the chilllllldren" as an excuse to advance her mad schemes. Apparently, Conservatives share common ground with Mrs. Clinton.)

And second, Gallagher is reasoning backwards, as most prohibitionists do. Sure, most hard drug users probably smoked marijuana. But that doesn’t mean all marijuana smokers will move on to harder drugs. That’d be like asking every crack addict, “have you ever drank milk?”, and then being surprised to find out that 99% of them said yes. Milk: The New Gateway Drug. How ridiculous is that?

In any event, a kudos to Mr. Giambra.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


For a while, I’ve been meaning to compose my own essay regarding the immigration "issue", but as there is a lot to discuss, I have not yet ordered all of my thoughts. In the meantime, here are three exceptional commentaries I’ve come across in the past few days.

Caliban over at Fall of the State posted a great commentary on the immigration issue and how completely ridiculous the right wing is over the issue.

Every other group of immigrants managed to figure it out. And the latest will too. In fact, what would lead you to think that immigrants have a lower chance to believe in the "American Dream?" Natural born citizens have no motivation to do so, they've enjoyed the fruits of living in America their entire lives. They have no concept of what the "American Dream" is. They're free to denigrate the very principles and systems that enable their luxury.

But an immigrant understands. By the very definition of the word, they're someone who believes that America is better than the place they come from. In my eyes, they're MORE likely to believe in the important things about this country -- because they've made a great sacrifice in trying to get here. People value the things they work for more than the things they are freely given. Why on earth would someone with socialist leanings want to emigrate to America?

Sheldon Richman, one of my favorite writers, wrote a piece exposing the collectivist nature of the anti-immigration position. In his article titled, What do you mean “We”?

To say the least, there is tension between the ideas that we live in a free society and that government may determine whom we may sell to, rent to, and hire. This is the real heart of the immigration debate. Who should decide such things, free individuals or the state?

And Evan, over at The Future Uncertain has an article on Illegal Immigration that discusses the economics of the situation. He writes:

Once upon a time there was no such thing as “illegal immigration.” Throughout much of our history the only immigration constraints were on the size of ships bringing them in. In the late 1800s several racist measures were passed against the Japanese and Chinese, but other than that the only way you could be kept out was if you were likely to become “a public charge.” It wasn’t until 1924 that the first meaningful immigration restrictions were imposed, and three years after that the Border Patrol was established. But through all of this time Mexicans came and went freely to work, trade and marry. Only in the 1930s, amidst the Depression and the nascent federal welfare state (Social Security took effect in 1935), did meaningful efforts to keep the brown hordes back commence. (The efforts have failed, like most efforts to stand between willing buyers and sellers, ever since.)

All of these articles are MUST reads. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

April 19th - A Day to Remember

Do you know today is?

April 19th.

What sort of things have happened on April 19th?

Well, for one, it was the day of the “shot heard ‘round the world”, as the first battles of the American Revolution were fought. April 19th, 1775.

British soldiers…government agents…were making a move to seize a cache of weapons in Concord, Massachusetts. Old King George, it would seem, was a strong supporter of gun control. Like all tyrants, he prefers his subjects to be disarmed and helpless to resist his whims.

It is also the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, when Jews destined for death camps revolted, and fought a courageous, but short-lived, battle for their lives. Jews in Nazi Germany had long been deprived of the right to keep and bear arms. The Fuhrer, it would seem, was a strong supporter of gun control. Like all tyrants, he preferred his subjects to be disarmed and helpless to resist his whims. That began April 19th, 1943.

It is also the anniversary of the Waco Massacre, when the federal government used a tank to partially demolish David Koresh’s compound, leading to a fire that killed over 80 men, women, and children. April 19th, 1993.

Ironically, the whole affair began as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms…government agents…were making a move to seize a cache of weapons allegedly stored inside the church. (The government propaganda machine likes to refer to the wooden structure as a “compound”…makes the boogeyman-of-the-day sound more threatening.) Old King Bill, it would seem, was a strong supporter of gun control. Like all tyrants, he prefers his subjects to be disarmed and helpless to resist his whims.

(As an aside…can anyone tell me why we have a law enforcement agency specifically focused on three legal products?)

Ironically, King Clinton would reprise this vile act in the year 2000, when government agents, armed with machine guns, raided a home to kidnap a six year-old Cuban boy, and sent him back the glorious socialist republic of Cuba. April 19, 2000.

It is also the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, when Timothy McVeigh (and fellow conspirators?) carried out the destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah building. April 19th, 1995.

The Murrah building was the location of the field offices for the FBI and the BATF where the Waco affair was planned. McVeigh, a former US soldier trained in explosives during the first Gulf War, stated that his goal was to strike back at the government that massacred its own people. When questioned about the 167 people, including many children, that were killed that day, McVeigh simply referred to them as “collateral damage” – a term for incidental casualties incurred during a military operation.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not defending McVeigh’s actions in the slightest. (Violence never accomplishes anything productive in the long run.) But many are quick to vilify and dismiss McVeigh without examining his motives. Since 9/11, it’s become politically incorrect to suggest that our own government is at least partly responsible for terrorist actions like the OKC bombing. But honesty demands we take a hard look at the policies of our government, and ask hard, tough questions. Has our government become oppressive and tyrannical? Does it trample our rights? Does it endanger our lives, our liberties, and our property each and every day?

We should always remember the significance of April 19th, and what it means for liberty. And just as those men stood on that bridge and took up arms against their own government; just as those Jews stood up and resisted their own government; and, just as McVeigh, in his own sick way, thought he was standing up to his own government; we should endeavor to recapture a little of the revolutionary spirit, that inspires men to stand up and say “no more!” That spirit which recognizes often our worst enemy is ourselves, and that the only thing standing in the way of what we want is what’s in our own minds. Contrary to President Bush’s claims, Al queda, or Saddam Hussein, or “islamofascists” can never take away our liberties – only we can surrender them. We lose our liberties when we allow fearmongers to scare us into surrendering them, turning each of us into slaves, eventually to be marched off to the death camps if “the good of the nation” calls for it.

We don’t need to be disarmed if we aren’t willing to fight.

So, look at the history of this day. April 19th is a day that all lovers of liberty should remember.

Oh, George! You Say That to ALL the Bureaucrats!

I'm sure I'm not the first one to point this out, but....

Bush says Rumsfeld is doing a fine job.

Of course, he said that about FEMA Director Michael "Brownie" Brown regarding the Hurricane Katrina response.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Blackwell's Hijinks

Does this surprise anyone?

Blackwell got $1M from vendors

And he was also the Ohio chairman for the Bush re-election campaign (which, as the official who oversees how the election is conducted, seems to be a rather odd side job.)

And of course there’s his cozy relationship with Diebold, the company who’s putting in the new electronic voting machines.

Do you think Ken Blackwell knows the meaning of the phrase “conflict of interest”?

I bet he knows what “quid pro quo” means.

2006 or 1870?

Hat tip to Independent Country

John McCain supports forced relocation of Navajo and Hopi indians; land to go to strip-miner.

Perhaps John Prine could write a song about this. Oh wait, he did. Well, sort of.

By John Prine

When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn.

And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away

Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
To the abandoned old prison down by Adrie Hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.

Repeat Chorus:

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

Repeat Chorus:

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin'
Just five miles away from wherever I am.

Repeat Chorus:

Happy Tax Day!!

This year, thanks to a generous donation by the IRS to give us tax slaves two extra days to pony up our protection money, today is Tax Day. Have you gotten your forms filed?

It’s funny how this one time of year is when most people are inclined to reflect on exactly how much they pay in taxes, and what they get in return. Of course, few people actually resolve to do anything about it, but many people will reflect for a few moments before resigning themselves to bending over and taking it from our Masters in Washington.

It’s also the time when the Americans for Fair Taxation try to make a push for their proposal to end income taxation and replacing it with a national sales tax. They call it the “Fair Tax” (as if there could ever be such a thing.) I even got a note in my inbox late last week, indicating that activists from this group will be at the post office handing out material to late filers. Good luck to them!

People ask me all the time what I think about the Fair Tax. Some are liberals who really like to pretend that the current progressive income tax system is the proper tool to soak the rich (the fact that it doesn’t just goes to show how corrupt those nasty Republicans are). Others are conservatives who think (correctly) that the current system is a horrible mess, and think (incorrectly) that if we could just wave a magic wand, implement the Fair Tax, all our big government problems would go away. So they ask me, what is my take on the fair tax?

Like most “reform” proposals, I’m ambivalent, bordering on skeptical, about it.

Radio talk-show host and self-professed “libertarian” Neal Boortz has gotten quite a lot of attention in the past year regarding his support of this proposal. He even authored a book with the bill’s principle sponsor, Representative John Linder (R-GA), which has raced up the New York Times Best-Sellers list. The book goes into the nuts and bolts of the proposal as well as explaining the ideological rationale behind moving away from an income tax system. I won’t attempt to debunk the arguments of the book itself, beyond pointing out that Lawrence Vance did a marvelous job skewering Boortz and Co , by exposing the various lies and problems the “Fair Tax” proponents ignore and/or overlook. (Another Vance article on the subject appears here )

To these eloquent arguments, I add the following:

1. A Sales Tax IS An Income Tax

One man’s purchase is another man’s “income”. When you pay an “income” tax, which is deducted from your paycheck, you are in effect paying a tax on the sale of your labor. Economically speaking, a sales tax is no different from an income tax, as it just boils down to which perspective are we looking at a given transaction. Plus, the fact that the tax would be on retail purchases, rather than at various steps of production in the supply chain, means we will have to create various classes of taxpayers, who will have to keep all the appropriate records on what sorts of purchases they make, and for what uses, and will be monitored by a special tax collection agency. (Sounds like the IRS to me.) To boot, even the bill itself sets up such an agency, so any fantasy you might have that getting rid of the income tax will eliminate the IRS is simply pie-in-the-sky.

2. The Numbers Don’t Add Up.

Boortz and Co. like to throw around a bunch of numbers, insisting that, under the Fair Tax, while you would get to take home every dollar that you earn (ie. no more withholding), this “revenue neutral” tax will not result in any corresponding increase in any form of consumer prices. It’s patently naïve to believe that such shifting around the sources of tax revenue would result in such a scenario. If the Feds need to collect two-point-whatever trillion dollars, and they decide to relocate the source of that revenue from your paycheck over to a cash-out counter, no amount of fiscal alchemy is going to alter that. If that actually were the case, then why not simply abolish the personal income tax altogether? The end result is the same. I get to take home 100% of my paycheck, and the prices of goods that I buy are exactly the same. So why not? Intuition tells you, that you can’t shift a tax burden from one column and not expect it to appear in another column.

3. The Income Tax Isn’t The Root Problem

Government spending is. On this point, I happen to agree with Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tx)(perhaps the most principled…or rather, the ONLY principled…person in Congress). I saw Dr. Paul give a speech once, and he mentioned the Fair Tax, and whether or not he would vote for it if it hit the floor. His take was that, in the short run, it might offer some temporary relief from our problems, but as long as we ask our government to raise and spend $2.7 trillion dollars (and climbing) then the exact method of financing is irrelevant. A government with a budget that size has to redivert resources from the private sector, and the more resources rediverted, the bigger the drag on the economy, and the bigger the threat to our liberties.

Ask yourself a simple question… if the Federal Government’s budget was half of what it is now, would you really care how we financed it? If the FedGov, instead of the $2.7 trillion they want now, only demanded $1 trillion from the private sector, wouldn’t that mean there are more resources left in the hands of productive enterprise?

It is this last point that I think provides the most crucial objection to the Fair Tax. The Fair Tax is a red herring issue which blinds it supporters to the real problem. Instead of fighting to make real and effective change, supporters of the Fair Tax are implicitly saying that they don’t have any objection to Big, Expensive, Intrusive Government, they would just like to finance it differently. If all these “Fair Tax” supporters put their energy into eliminating as much wasteful government spending (but I repeat myself) as possible, we could really begin to reestablish liberty in America.

Or, to go one step further…if we insisted the Federal Government do ONLY what it was authorized to do by the U.S. Constitution, we wouldn’t need an income tax to begin with, as we could finance the FedGov through the tariffs and excise taxes already in place. Of course, this means giving up our favorite government programs in exchange for tax freedom. In fact, this was the “Great Libertarian Offer” proposed by the late Harry Browne when he ran for President as a candidate from the Libertarian Party. The theme of his 2000 campaign was to ask the voters a simple question: “Would you give up your favorite federal programs if it meant you'd never have to pay income tax again?”

So, for those of you out there chaffing from your tax load, I hope you take the time to rethink your view of government. Instead of trying to rearrange the deck chairs, why not focus on keeping the ship from taking on water? The problem isn’t how you pay your taxes, it’s what you pay for with your taxes. Demand change for that, and you’ll solve more problems than how much time you waste filling out silly forms.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

You May Be A Libertarian If....

A lot of times people like to label libertarianism as a "right wing" ideology, or a subset of "conservatism". Many people like to hedge their political self-identification by calling themselves "libertarian-conservatives", or a "conservative with libertarian leanings". The implication is that the two are closely aligned, with only some minor nuances separating the two labels.

I disagree with each of those sentiments. Libertarians and Conservatives operate from fundamentally different perspectives. True, there may be some overlap - just as libertarian views sometime overlap with "liberal" stances - but libertarianism really is a uniquely different brand of thought on politics.

But if anyone who doubts this is confused on what exactly separates libertarians and conservatives, Jacob Hornberger has very simply outlined the difference.

Another Poke at the "Wasted Vote" Myth

The "wasted vote" myth is probably the most widely held fallacy in politics. You would think that most rational people wouldn't need to have such a simple concept explained to them. Apparently, many do. (Or perhaps most people aren't rational in their politics.)

There is an endless string of analogies and examples that explode this myth, and I never tire of hearing them. I found this quote from Mike Kole. (Mike Kole iscurrently the Libertarian Party candidate for Indiana Secretary of State. His blog is here. )

If you voted Republican and expected smaller government or lower taxes, you wasted your vote.

If you voted Democrat expecting greater civil liberties, you wasted your vote.

Moreover, if you went to McDonald's five times and asked for a Big Mac five times, but all five times you got a Filet O'Fish instead, you wouldn't go back to McDonald's any more, would you?

So, why do you keep voting Republican or Democrat? You aren't getting what you bargained for there. Vote Libertarian and you will vote for candidates who will better represent your beliefs and who will deliver when they are elected. many of you small government conservatives are going to waste your vote on Big Government Republicans this year? How many of you civil-liberty minded liberals are going to waste your vote on Big Brother Democrats this year?

Most of you, I suspect.

But don't come crying to me when taxes get more burdensome, the economy takes a nose dive, and our personal liberties erode even further.

It's your fault, not mine.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Carnival Has Come to Town

Some recent "Carnivals" to peruse:

The Carnival of Ohio Politics, #18 (My post on appreciating small business has been included in this one...)

The Carnival of Liberty, XL

The Carnival of the Capitalists, #33

These Carnivals are a great way to get exposed to some really astute bloggers, discussing a variety of current issues. Take some time and check them all out.

Top Ten Worst Government Programs

Hat tip to Independent County

Human Events Online lists the top 10 worst government programs.

I'd probably swap a few of the ones on this list with things like the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, some of the major gun control laws, the one that established the Department of Education, and any law that created and advanced prohibition of any kind.

Rockwell on the French Riots

Lew Rockwell comments on the French labor riots. As usual, he punctures the issue with outstanding insight and clarity.

Imagine if jobs were available for everyone who wanted to work. What if "help wanted" signs were everywhere? What if skilled laborers could pick where they wanted to work, and unskilled laborers could gain skills in a large range of environments? Or imagine if French workers were in the position of deciding – as many young Americans are – whether to work for someone else's company or take the risk of starting their own.

If that were the case, I would venture a guess that there would be no energy behind any protests of a law that grants business more liberality in firing. And yet a huge range of laws prevent that from happening. It is not easy to start a business in France or hire people. The taxes, mandates, and wage controls are wickedly restrictive. In the name of human rights, France has managed to deny people their most basic right of contributing to society in a manner of their own choosing.

It's so hard to believe that this is the same nation that gave birth toFrederic Bastiat. He's probably turning in his grave.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Film Review: John Q.

Occassionally, I write reviews of books, music, and movies over at . This past weekend, I rented the movie John Q. , starring Denzel Washington. It's a few years old and was Washington's first film after winning the academy award, but I hadn't seen it before and it was cheap, so why not?

After watching it, and realizing that it was a thinly-veiled propaganda film, I decided to post a review of it. You may read it here.

What this film is attempting to do is make a case for socialized medicine. Because of big, bad, evil, and greedy hospitals, HMOs, and other capitalist types, human needs – in this case, a heart transplant – are being neglected at every turn because rich people want to get richer, the poor, working class be damned. As is mentioned repeatedly in the film, if the current system is so bad, then people are advised to “write your congressman”. The overwhelming message is that health-care doesn’t operate on market principles, and therefore, due to what economists call “market failure”, a government solution is demanded.

But is that the case? Absolutely not.

Bill Peirce Says No to Monopoly Priveleges, Proposed Amendment is an "Abomination"

From my inbox this morning: A press release from the Bill Peirce for Governor Campaign. While libertarians don't have a problem with gambling, per se, we DO have a problem with the State doling out monopoly priveleges to politically connected special interests. Read below.

For Immediate Distribution
Contact: Charles Peirce, Campaign Manager
William S. Peirce, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Case Western Reserve University, and Libertarian Candidate for Governor of Ohio
(440) 471-0322 HQ
(216) 235-7049 Cell

The Proposed Gambling Amendment is an Abomination

“Learn and Earn,” the flagrantly mislabeled casino gambling proposal, is the worst constitutional amendment ever suggested in Ohio. If it were adopted, it would award a perpetual monopoly of casino gambling in this state to the owners of 10 specific sites: the seven existing race tracks, the Tower City complex and the Nautica Entertainment complex in Cleveland, and one unpublicized entity “no more than 3 miles from Fountain Square” in Cincinnati. The Ratner family, Jeff Jacobs, Jack Hanessian, Keith Nixon, Charles Ruma, and Brock Milstein are fine people, of course, but why would we write into the constitution that they have the exclusive privilege of extracting billions of dollars from the people of Ohio? It is even more puzzling that the citizens of Ohio would award such privileges to corporations headquartered elsewhere, including Penn National Gaming of Pennsylvania, Magna Entertainment Corp. of Ontario, and the MTR Gaming Group of West Virginia.

Once this monopoly is written into the constitution, it cannot be taken away except by passing another constitutional amendment. When the billions start rolling in, however, the holders of the privilege will be able to outspend anyone who would campaign to take the privilege away. The voters of today really are binding their children and grandchildren into this deal.

Ohio is asking absolutely nothing in return for this permanent privilege. The “Learn and Earn” ballot issue would not require any payment for the 10 casinos. Indeed, by specifying who will receive the licenses, the proposal prevents competitive bidding. In places where casino licenses are put out to bid (Pittsburgh, for example), gaming companies pay plenty for the privilege. A good estimate is that Ohio is giving away a privilege that it could sell for $4 billion dollars!

The backers of the proposal will argue that state and local governments will receive annual tax payments worth hundreds of millions. Even there, however, Ohio will be short changed. Pittsburgh will extract a tax of 54%, even after taking hundreds of millions up front. The Ohio proposal calls for a tax of 39%! The backers have referred to a tax of 45%, but 6% goes back to the racetracks to subsidize breeding race horses, so that leaves 39% for the public sector. Even for the paltry portion that does go to the public sector, the designers of this proposal have had the arrogance to tell the legislature exactly how the money shall be spent.

I certainly hope that the people of Ohio will learn about this amendment before they give a few rich people a monopoly privilege that will earn them billions more.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Polls and the Wasted Vote

Hat tip to 40 Degrees North

It seems that the polls have Republicans against the ropes. Strickland holds a 10 point lead on both the Republican front-runners.

My question: Is this really any surprise? I mean, who really takes Republicans seriously these days?

With scandal after scandal, and their empty rhetoric about supporting smaller government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility finally being exposed for the complete joke that it is, are we really surprised that the electorate is waking up to the reality that the Republican party is completely bankrupt - morally, ideologically, and politically?

Yet, how many “conservatives” will still cling to the hope that maybe, just maybe, if they vote Republican one more time, THIS time will be different - that we will get some people in office who will restrain government, and restore our liberties?

People say voting libertarian is a “wasted” vote. If you ask me, voting Republican is not only a wasted vote, it’s a waste of time, and one ends up looking pretty stupid trying to justify their vote when the things that we get are the complete opposite of what we say we want.

(To prove my point: How many of you “conservatives” out there voted for Bob Taft? Mike DeWine? Bush? Be honest…. How many will vote Republican right down the line this year?)

Wanted: Ohio Small Business Appreciation Week (...or month, or year...)

Ever notice when a large company lays off 300 people it makes headlines everywhere, but when 300 small businesses have to lay off one person each, it goes unreported? The net effect is the same…300 people without jobs. So why is the impact of small business often overlooked?

Small business is the lifeblood of a free-market capitalist economy. It makes up the overwhelming majority of firms, employs the most number of people, and is the principle source of job creation. Small businesses, because they are small, are more dynamic and flexible to respond to changes in the marketplace, to be innovative, and to stimulate economic progress. Today’s small businesses are tomorrow’s medium-sized and large businesses.

Here in Ohio, though, with our State government – run exclusively by the Republican Party for well over 20 years – we are ranked near the bottom in terms of our friendliness to small business ; one of the highest taxed states ; and one of the worst states for economic freedom . And what’s worse, we continue to drop year after year in each of these categories. Entrepreneurs and small business people need economic freedom like a fish needs water. Ohio – thanks to 20 years of GOP rule – is the proverbial small business desert.

So this week has been declared National Small Business Week. The importance and the contributions of small business will be hailed in this coming week. And rightfully, so.

If you ask me, what we need is an Ohio Small Business Week…or month…or YEAR. Aw, hell… we just need to get rid of the GOP entirely and replace it with a party that actually appreciates free-market capitalism and the entrepeneur. When politicians want to whine and complain about all sorts of red-herring issues, like “job outsourcing” or illegal immigration, we need to ask them, well, why are YOU, Mr. Politician making it so hard for small business people to do what needs to be done to keep America – and Ohio – prosperous and progressive? All these other issues wouldn’t be major problems if small businesses weren’t prevented from doing what needs to be done to fill in the holes!

(Now, I could go on a tirade about how delusional Republican party members are regarding their party’s supposed ideological superiority in matters of economics…given that they have had TWENTY years at the helm, and things have gone from bad to worse… but I think the above stats speak for themselves.)

What we need is a party who appreciates the small businessman. Republicans have proven they would rather cater to their cronies in the big corporations – ie. Bob Taft’s “Third Frontier” proposal which straddles Ohioans with massive debt, while giving some fat welfare subsidies to politically-connected corporations. Democrats, while showing some signs of life in this area, lack the credibility and flexibility to make a whole-scale ideological shift to doing what needs to be done. (They might be able to offer some hope, but they have a LOT of work if they want to exploit this opportunity).

Oh, wait! We DO have a party that supports small business. They’re called the Libertarian Party of Ohio. And the Ohio gubernatorial candidate, Bill Peirce, features an economic agenda specifically designed to free small business. (Even other mid-western states have libertarian parties that are prioritizing small business as their focus, such as Indiana, and are making a lot of headway.)

As Dr. Peirce noted, if every business hired one more employee – just one – we’d have the worst labor shortage since WWII. So why would it be hard to hire one more employee? Well, most of Ohio’s businesses are small businesses, and they are so shackled by taxes and regulations, that taking on one additional worker is a big risk. Big companies? No problem. They have enough capital to absorb one additional employee with only a minor risk to the overall company. But small business works much closer to the success/failure margin. If we lightened the load on small business people, they would find it easier to consider that additional employee. Do Republicans (and Democrats) consider this? Of course not!

So, this week – National Small Business Week – take the time to ask yourself, why don’t we have a healthier economy? Why are the prospects for growth so slim? Why do we have the myriad of economic problems that we do, from eminent domain abuse, to job outsourcing, to stagnating incomes, and a net-outflow of population?

Then consider the plight of small business in Ohio.

And be sure to thank a Republican for the mess we’re in.

Nuclear War Drums

So the war drums are a’beatin’ – this time it’s against Iran. I’ve been hearing talk about this for a while, but dismissed it as simply “focus group” testing for the propaganda machine. You know…the Bush Regime putting out feelers to see if the public is gullible enough to buy another pack of lies, distortions, and fear-tactics to go to war again. But, as it seems to keep popping up these days, I guess I should talk about it.

For one, can you blame Bush for needing a distraction on his failed war on Iraq? (Which, in turn was a distraction from his failed war to catch bin Laden…) Bush worshippers everywhere will point out that Clinton bombed an aspirin factory in the Sudan to distract from the Monica Lewinsky scandal, so that automatically makes it ok for Bush to do the same thing when he needs a little "quick! look over there!" (Apparently, Conservatives forget that they marketed their guy as the anti-Clinton, who was supposed to be better than our former Chief Executive…. Liberals, on the other hand, have probably, and conveniently, forgotten all about Clinton’s misdeeds, and how they have set a precendent for justification of the current Warmonging White House…)

Personally, what I get tired of is being spoon fed the Hitler comparisons. First, Saddam was “Islam’s Hitler”, and his party compared to the Nazis but Bush Sr. Now, Bush, Jr. is throwing around similar comparisons about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But the most startling aspect of all, is that this president is willing to use nuclear – nuclear! – weapons to accomplish his Utopian goals. For all the talk about Hussein having WMDs, and being a threat against his neighbors, and what is the Bush regime doing? Contemplating the use of WMDs and issuing threats against nations that aren’t even close to being our neighbors.

It must be a wonderful thing to be a Conservative. Kind of like dementia can be enjoyable.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Buy Gold, Ponyboy. Buy Gold.

This week, the price of gold hit $600/ounce and silver hit $12/ounce - prices not seen in over 20 years. For those of you who are investors, this is a pretty interesting development.

Now, lest we start some sort of gold-buying craze, with novice, get-rich-quick investors throwing away their life-savings looking for a new “dot-com” boom, it’s important to do your homework on why to buy precious metals. Here is a good article about whether gold is a good buy . Personally, I like Gary North’s advice on the subject. He lays it out in very simple terms. His website is here.

My take? Owning precious metals should definitely factor into every investor’s portfolio plans. Now, as to how much, in terms of percentage of total assets, to own…well, that’s a tricky one, and you are on your own to figure that one out. (I've heard from various sources recommendations from 3-5% of assets, all the way up to an astounding 25%! My sense is, a good level is probably somewhere in between those figures.)

But either way, precious metals are an asset class worth looking at, if for no other reason than to provide some diversification and a hedge against inflation (which the new Federal Reserve Chairman seems to view as a valuable tool to his schemes, and as they will no longer be reporting M3, we could start seeing a lot more of).

Prohibition: Utopian or Realist?

Two recent stories caught my attention.

Two Air Marshals Plead Guilty to Drug Smuggling

Drug War Dropout Calls Effort A Failure

It seems to me that it’s a near universal consensus that the “War on (some) Drugs” is a complete and total disaster, creating far more problems than it even pretends to focus on solving. I say near universal, because, as usual, the conservative right-wing, as delusional as ever about their ideological focus, continues to dogmatically assert that we “need” the wage a “war on drugs” because the consequences would be…well, the end of the world itself.

It’s funny. I know a guy at work – a red-blooded, dyed-in-the-wool, Conservative Christian Republican – who insists that libertarianism is “utopian”; that freedom leads to “chaos”; and that human nature is fundamentally base, and perhaps “evil”, which is why we need a powerful State to reign in mankind, and mold human clay into a more nobler, visionary creature. The State, it would seem, is our salvation from utter ruin.

Oh…did I say he was a Marxist? Well…he won’t admit it, but he sure sounds like one. (Of course, all Republicans do.)

But is liberty really “utopian”? Or is it utopian to give power to politicians and bureaucrats (who, the last time I checked, were made from the same clay as you and I), and expect them to solve society’s problems? Is it utopian to take the view that the State is somehow above the rest of us, staffed only by altruistic saints who will wield their power to vanquish “evil-doers”, and other societal undesireables, all the while, never attracting the corrupt and the morally deficient – or at the very least, serving to eventually exploit and corrupt the shortcomings of even honorable men (and women)?

One of my favorite political-economists of all time, Frederic Bastiat, once wrote :

No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them. The nature of law is to maintain justice. This is so much the case that, in the minds of the people, law and justice are one and the same thing. There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are "just" because law makes them so.
In the stories above, I see a paradigm of how the War on Drugs is affecting our law-enforcement community. In the first example, the economic incentives are severely overpowering, providing a temptation for these two individuals to break down. Notice, they weren’t smuggling computers, or leather jackets, or any other legal product. The fact that they could make a quick and easy $15000 by smuggling a couple pounds of an illegal product is a clear example of the results of our public policy. Without drug prohibition, there wouldn’t be the huge, black market profits, which make themselves available to tempt our law enforcement professionals to turn corrupt.

In the second, we see the other side of the coin. A law enforcement official plainly sees the futility of the goal and walks away. While, he should be commended for not going the route of the first two, his indictment of the “war on drugs” should send a message to day-dreaming Conservatives everywhere. When someone on the frontlines, someone closest to the problem, relays intelligence back to the decision-makers, that the project is a complete waste of time, how “utopian” is it to insist that the decision-makers can still solve the problem, they just need better, smarter, or tougher people to make the decisions. (And for the record, this isn’t a case of one “lone” cop, breaking ranks. Check out the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition website, a burgeoning organization of former officials that recognize the stupidity, and counter-productivity of Prohibition.)

Libertarians are usually laughed at or pigeon-holed because opposition to drug prohibition has been a staple of the movement for a long time. Many Conservatives tell me, “I would be a libertarian except for…(fill in the blank)”, with that deal breaker usually being drug prohibition (and so they continue to support big government Republicans). But as I ask my friend, who values “law and order” above all…doesn’t Bastiat have a point, that if you ask the State to start prosecuting people for victimless behavior, that you engender a general disrespect for “law and order”?

So who has more respect for “law and order”, the Libertarian or the Conservative? Who is more “utopian”, and who is more realistic?