“If bourgeois dignity and liberty are not on the whole embraced by public opinion, in the face of the sneers by the clerisy and the machinations of special interests, the enrichment of the poor doesn’t happen, because innovation doesn’t. You achieve merely through a doctrine of compelled charity in taxation and redistribution the “sanctification of envy,” as the Christian economist the late Paul Heyne put it. The older suppliers win. Everyone else loses. You ask God to take out two of your neighbor’s eyes, or to kill your neighbor’s goat. You work at your grandfather’s job in the field or factory instead of going to university. You stick with old ideas, and the old ferry company. You remain contentedly, or not so contentedly, at $3 a day, using the old design of a sickle. You continue to buy food for your kids at the liquor store at the corner of Cottage Grove and 79th Street. And most of us remain unspeakably poor and ignorant.”—Deirdre McCloskey, Bourgeois Dignity
However, the settlement agreement was discussed behind closed doors, and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck denies a ticket-quota system was put in place. “We will continue to have measures of productivity,” Beck told City News Service. “Not quotas. Measures of productivity. They’re different.”
This settlement comes on the heels of a similar 2011 ticket quotas lawsuit where two LAPD officers were awarded $2 million by the L.A. Superior Court.
So these tax-leech bullies are given orders from their tax-leech bosses to reach a minimum amount of harassment against mostly peaceful people - ticket quotas that are against the law (but these tax-leeches are above the law, so why would that matter?). They fail to reach this minimum and are subsequently “punished” (lol). Then, these tax-leech bullies sue the city in response to the treatment by their tax-leech bosses. The tax-leech meddlers in the city council, in turn, settled with the tax-leech bullies to the tune of $5.9 million. And this was paid for, of course, by taxpayers.
So we pay for all these tax-leeches to harass us, we pay them to set minimum amounts of harassment which in turn we pay fees on, and now we pay for the consequences of their wrong-doing.
Could you explain (in brief, if you'd like) why the 17th amendment is problematic?
Constitutional checks on government power are mostly a charade. States will forever and always do exactly what people are willing to acquiesce to, irrespective of whatever ostensible limitations some antique piece of parchment says to the contrary.
That said, it’s always better that there be checks on power than otherwise.
Before the 17th Amendment, the United States were structured in such a way that there was what may be referred to as a divided triumvirate of sovereignty: the people (by way of the House of Representatives), the states (by way of the Senate), and the federal government (by way of the executive). Decisions were made by these entities (and “interpreted” by the judicial), with the highest power going to the people (which is why the House of Representatives controls the budget). Senators were selected by the governments of their respective states. Because the federal government (before the 16th Amendment created the income tax) only had what was collected by and allotted to them by the individual states, and because states were unable to simply create their own currencies with which to amass debt, Senators with their state’s best interests in mind helped prevent overspending and keep a balanced budget. It was their job to ensure that their state wasn’t taken advantage of by the others, and because they weren’t necessarily democratically elected to “terms,” they could face immediate repercussions if they voted counter to the interests of their state and its people. The 17th Amendment changed how Senators were selected and removed them from the nexus of decision-makers who were responsible for making sound financial decisions for their state.
In short, Senators are less concerned with their specific state’s interests - particularly its financial obligations - when they are no longer selected by and accountable to the state legislators and executives who are in turn responsible to state residents for managing such matters. The 17th Amendment greatly diminishes state autonomy in favor of a more centralized federal government. It, along with the 16th Amendment, essentially neutered an important check on government power.
It is no coincidence that it was after the 16th and 17th Amendments were ratified, and the federal reserve came into being, that we saw the meteoric rise in government spending and control. There were no more impediments to its growth and centralization of power, and we naturally entered an age of total war.
Supporters of the 17th claim that it makes for a more democratic governance. This is, in a sense, true; but that does not mean it is good, as people, in turn, are able to exert less control over the minutiae of their own lives. Too many people don’t realize that political democracy is illegitimate.
Repealing the 17th would not be a panacea, but it would be a sensible step in the right direction. And, far more importantly, it would mean that people have rebuked the centralization of power and the loss of autonomy enough to agitate for that very change. And that would be worth celebrating.
“… Being an economist has got to be the most depressing job in the world. Because, you go your whole life trying to teach some basic principles, over and over and over you teach these principles: you teach them in the classroom, in newspapers, on television, on the internet—teach ‘em, teach ‘em, teach ‘em. And then, you’re sitting there on your deathbed, and your nurse comes in and says, ‘You know, I really think it would boost the economy if we raised the minimum wage.’ And you just think, what was it all for?”—Tom Woods (via eltigrechico)
The Hart family found a way to help their autistic toddler through animal therapy, specifically with pet chickens. Now, their local city council in DeBary, Florida – fully aware of the boy’s condition and treatment – is telling the family that they have to get rid of their pets.
The Harts discovered the transformative effect chickens had on their son, J.J., last year. The boy previously experienced long bouts of silence and fits of anger. J.J.’s mother, Ashleigh, told the Orlando Sentinel about the positive effects the birds have had on her son, “he’s now going to a new preschool, and he’s able to communicate much better. And it all has to do with the chickens. He plays with them. He cuddles with them. And he runs around the yard with them. … It’s made a tremendous difference.”
The city initially cited them for a code violation, but the Harts petitioned to be allowed to keep their pets and DeBarycity councilbegan a pilot program. The city allowed chickens, though required a permit. Reports indicate that the Harts and one other household, which was raising the chickens for eggs, participated in program.
Yet, the council voted last week 3-2 to yank away residents’ privilege to care for these animals. Mayor Bob Garcia was among the dissenting voices. He expressed to Fox Newshis view that “if we make laws that take away rights of individuals, especially children, those laws should be abolished. We should be protecting the rights of individuals, not suppressing them.”
Council member Nick Koval saw the situation differently. “I sympathize,” he assured, “but, we spend a lot of time and money establishing codes and ordinances for the protection of the citizens and taxpayers of this community. And I believe that they [chickens] belong in agricultural areas.”
While some government officials insist that the flightless birds harm the community, how much harm could the ban do to this child?
“It could be devastating to him,” Dr. Emily Forrest, who specializes in autism, explained that “children with autism are extremely sensitive to changes in their lives.” Forrest added, “it’s really sad for him that he has to stop because of a city ordinance.”
What people peacefully do on their own property should beis no one else’s business.
From cops to bureaucrats to elected politicians - the state is where the schoolyard bullies go when they grow up.
Fascism has become a term of general derision and rebuke. It is tossed casually in the direction of anything a critic happens to dislike.
But fascism is a real political and economic concept, not a stick with which to beat opponents arbitrarily. The abuse of this important word undermines its true value as a term referring to a very real phenomenon, and one whose spirit lives on even now.
Fascism is a specific ideology based on the idea that the state is the ideal organization for realizing a society’s and an individual’s potential economically, socially, and even spiritually.
The state, for the fascist, is the instrument by which the people’s common destiny is realized, and in which the potential for greatness is to be found. Individual rights, and the individual himself, are strictly subordinate to the state’s great and glorious goals for the nation. In foreign affairs, the fascist attitude is reflected in a belligerent chauvinism, a contempt for other peoples, and a society-wide reverence for soldiers and the martial virtues.
A few months ago, I was reading a fascinating paper by Thomas Leonard on “Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era.” The paper is full of interesting tidbits, but I was especially struck by the discussion of Progressive Era arguments for the minimum wage.
Most readers of this blog will be familiar with the argument that minimum wage laws create unemployment. And most of us, no doubt, regard this as a powerful argument against the minimum wage.
As Leonard’s paper shows, progressives like Sidney Webb were familiar with this argument. But rather than viewing additional unemployment as a cost of minimum wage laws, they actually regarded it as a positive benefit! After all, you see, the people most likely to be disemployed by a minimum wage were those who were among the least employable anyway – the drunks, the idiots, and the immigrants – especially those who were members of “low-wage races.” And, according to the grand progressive vision, anything we can do to identify such individuals and segregate them from healthy, productive white society was a step in the right direction for the human race.
The only logically consistent and economically sound supporters of a minimum wage are racists, government-protected unions, and large corporations as they have the most to gain relative to the rest of us. Oh, and of course politicians.
Increases in the minimum wage are usually “phased-in.” Instead of raising the minimum wage overnight, the law usually specifies a series of steps [over a number of years]. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 increased the prior $5.15 minimum wage in three steps:
…to $5.85 per hour 60 days after enactment (2007-07-24), to $6.55 per hour 12 months after that (2008-07-24), and finally to $7.25 per hour 12 months after that (2009-07-24)…
The initiative is targeted for the November 2014 ballot. If it passed early in 2015, the minimum wage in California will go up to $10 an hour; early in 2016 it would be raised to $12 an hour. In other words, the initiative in a couple of stages would raise the minimum wage of all California workers to $12 an hour.
What’s the point of these byzantine time tables? Why not just immediately impose the minimum wage you actually want? On the surface, the steps seem like an implicit admission that sharply and suddenly raising the minimum wage would have the negative disemployment effects emphasized by its critics. The point of the steps, then, is to turn a dangerously sharp and sudden hike into a harmlessly slow and gradual hike.
On reflection, though, this argument makes very little sense. Giving people more time to adjust to incentives normally leads to larger adjustments, not smaller. If you suddenly raise the gas tax, for example, there is very little effect on gas consumption. But if people expect the gas tax to go up years before the higher tax kicks in, many will buy more fuel-efficient cars, leading to a large behavioral response. Minimum wage hikes should work the same way: Employers’ long-run response should exceed their short-run response. If minimum wage advocates want to minimize the disemployment effect, they should remember the old adage about ripping off a Band-Aid: One sudden pull and you’re done.
On reflection, though, there is another major difference between employers’ response to sharp-and-sudden versus slow-and-gradual minimum wage hikes: visibility.
If the minimum wage unexpectedly jumped to $12 today, the effect on employment, though relatively small, would be blatant. Employers would wake up with a bunch of unprofitable workers on their hands. Over the next month or two, we would blame virtually all low-skilled lay-offs on the minimum wage hike - and we’d probably be right to do so.
If everyone knew the minimum wage was going to be $12 in 2015, however, even a large effect on employment could be virtually invisible. Employers wouldn’t need to lay any workers off. They could get to their new optimum via reduced hiring and attrition. When the law finally kicked in, you might find zero extra layoffs, because employers saw the writing on the wall and quietly downsize their workforce in advance.
If you sincerely cared about workers’ well-being, of course, it wouldn’t make any difference whether the negative side effects of the minimum wage were blatant or subtle. You’d certainly prefer small but blatant job losses to large but subtle job losses.
But what if you’re a ruthless demagogue, pandering to the public’s economic illiteracy in a quest for power? Then you have a clear reason to prefer the subtle to the blatant. If you raise the minimum wage to $12 today and low-skilled unemployment doubles overnight, even the benighted masses might connect the dots. A gradual phase-in is a great insurance policy against a public relations disaster. As long as the minimum wage takes years to kick in, any half-competent demagogue can find dozens of appealing scapegoats for unemployment of low-skilled workers.
Most non-economists never even consider the possibility that the minimum wage could reduce employment. Before I studied economics, I was one of these oblivious non-economists. But if minimum wage activists were as clueless as the typical non-economist, they wouldn’t bother with phase-in. They’d go full speed ahead. The fact that activists’ proposals include phase-in provisions therefore suggests that for all their bluster, they know that negative effects on employment are a serious possibility. If they really cared about low-skilled workers, they’d struggle to figure out the magnitude of the effect. Instead, they cleverly make the disemployment effect of the minimum wage too gradual to detect.
"ruthless demagogue, pandering to the public’s economic illiteracy in a quest for power"
I think I’ve found my new favorite definition of a politician.
During the twentieth century the worldwide socialist movement attempted to criticize capitalism by associating it with Nazi Germany since the Nazis did not nationalize many industries as the Russian socialists had done (they allowed ostensibly private enterprises that were nevertheless regulated, regimented and controlled by the state). The truth is that the roots of Nazism or “national socialism” were thoroughly socialistic. The Nazis were “national” socialists, whereas the Soviets claimed to be international socialists. The Nazis and the communists were ideological clones who considered the ideas of classical liberalism (free-market capitalism, limited government, low taxes, private property, the rule of law, peace), and those who espoused them, to be their mortal enemy.
Similarly, the international socialist movement has long attempted to associate another kind of socialist movement – the former South African Apartheid laws – as some kind of abuse of capitalism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Government-imposed discrimination against black South Africans was instigated by white labor unions associated with various Marxist and communist movements. It was a pervasive system of government regulation, regimentation and control. This of course is the exact opposite of free-market capitalism.
It was this form of massive government interventionism that the late Nelson Mandella battled against in his youth, and for which he was imprisoned for twenty-seven years by the South Africa government. (Unfortunately, Mandella himself was a socialist and a covert member of the executive committee of the South African Communist party who idolized such totalitarian monsters as Fidel Castro. He apparently never understood that it was a version of Castroite socialism that had victimized him and the black population of South Africa, and that what South African blacks needed the most was the economic freedom and opportunity provided by free-market capitalism). …
The origins of institutionalized discrimination against South African blacks were in the violent, Marxist-inspired white labor union movement (which had American ties) of the early twentieth century. One of the first leaders of this movement… was one W. H. Andrews, who formed a chapter of the International Socialist League and who became the first secretary of the Communist Party of South Africa. He championed the use of violence and terrorism to “protect” white workers from competition from blacks. This union movement eventually became joined at the hip with the South African government so as to use the coercive powers of government (which can be far more violent and terroristic than mere unions alone) to deprive South African blacks of economic opportunity.
Both theory and history indicate that government management of resources leads to waste and even absurdity. People view traffic jams, water shortages, power outages, deforestation, endangered species, and fishing rules as facts of life. But they are not necessary. On the contrary, they are perversities produced by government management. Private markets are not perfect, but competition and private ownership give the best possible framework for an efficient use of scarce resources.
“These two men rushed me. One went towards my kitchen and the other one was after me. He hit me in the face. …
I had just grabbed the gun and he said I got you right where I want you. I pointed the gun at him and I said 'I’ll blow your head off'.”—
Don’t accuse me of utopianism. I don’t foresee a future of new human beings who consistently respect the rights of others. Rather, I’m drawing attention to the distinction between crime and tort — between offenses against the state (or society) and offenses against individual persons or their justly held property. We’re so used to this distinction, and the priority of the criminal law over tort law, that most of us don’t realize that things used to be different. At one time, an “offense” that was not an act of force against an individual was not an offense at all.
What happened? In England, the early kings recognized that the administration of justice could be a cash cow. So they grabbed on and never let go. As a result, the emphasis shifted to punishment (fines and imprisonment) and away from restitution (making victims or their heirs as whole as possible).
Liberty-minded people should regret this change. Yet again, the ruling elite exploited the people. It needed wealth to buy war materiel and allegiance, so it took it by force from the laboring masses, and corrupted the justice system in the process. …
The trial of former Fullerton, California, police officers, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli began December 2, 2013, in the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old drifter with schizophrenia. Thomas died after a July, 2011, altercation with six police officers in which he was tasered, beaten with batons, and hit repeatedly in the face with the end of a Taser. Ramos is charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree murder and Cicinelli is charged with excessive force and involuntary manslaughter.
"He posed no threat at all, to the police or to anyone else," said Rackauckas to jurors. The District Attorney dramatically demonstrated the events of the encounter using a wooden police baton.
Statements from the defense maintained that Ramos and Cicinelli committed no crimes and were dealing with an uncontrollable and violent person. Michael Schwartz, defense attorney for Cicinelli told jurors in his statements that Thomas’s behavior “was consistent with someone with a methamphetamine background” and that his death was brought on by drug-induced heart disease.
The trial, taking place at the Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, California, is the first time a uniformed police officer has been charged with murder in the history of the county. The trial may never have happened without a slowly built citizen movement sparked by footage of the beating caught by mobile phone and a horrific hospital photo taken by Kelly Thomas’ father, Ron Thomas.
"Nothing was going on, I tried contacting everybody, nobody cared to do anything," said Ron Thomas to Reason TV in 2011. ”So, I released the picture of my son [in his hospital bed] and that got everybody’s attention. When the cell phone video came out, I released that. The audio had their attention again. You put together the picture with the sound of what’s happening [and] it’s very, very compelling.”
“A free man must be able to endure it when his fellow men act and live otherwise than he considers proper. He must free himself from the habit, just as soon as something does not please him, of calling for the police.”—Ludwig von Mises
The current system of fractional reserve banking and central banking stands in stark opposition to a market economy monetary regime in which the market participants could decide themselves, without state pressure or coercion, what money they want to use, and in which it would not be possible for anyone to expand the money supply because they simply choose to do so.
The expansion of the money supply, made possible through central banks and fractional reserve banking, is in reality what allows inflation, and thus, declining income in real terms. In The Theory of Money and Credit Ludwig von Mises wrote:
The most important of the causes of a diminution in the value of money of which we have to take account is an increase in the stock of money while the demand for it remains the same, or falls off, or, if it increases, at least increases less than the stock. … A lower subjective valuation of money is then passed on from person to person because those who come into possession of an additional quantity of money are inclined to consent to pay higher prices than before.
When there are price increases caused by an expansion of the money supply, the prices of various goods and services do not rise to the same degree, and do not rise at the same time. Mises explains the effects:
While the process is under way, some people enjoy the benefit of higher prices for the goods or services they sell, while the prices of the things they buy have not yet risen or have not risen to the same extent. On the other hand, there are people who are in the unhappy situation of selling commodities and services whose prices have not yet risen or not in the same degree as the prices of the goods they must buy for their daily consumption.
Indeed, in the case of the price of a worker’s labor (i.e., his or her wages) increasing at a slower rate than the price of bread or rent, we see how this shift in the relationship between income and assets can impoverish many workers and consumers.
An inflationary money supply can cause impoverishment and income inequality in a variety of ways:
1. The Cantillon Effect
The uneven distribution of price inflation is known as the Cantillon effect. Those who receive the newly created money first (primarily the state and the banks, but also some large companies) are the beneficiaries of easy money. They can make purchases with the new money at goods prices that are still unchanged. Those who obtain the newly created money only later, or do not receive any of it, are harmed (wage-earners and salaried employees, retirees). They can only buy goods at prices which have, in the meantime, risen.
2. Asset Price Inflation
Investors with greater assets can better spread their investments and assets and are thus in a position to invest in tangible assets such as stocks, real estate, and precious metals. When the prices of those assets rise due to an expansion of the money supply, the holders of those assets may benefit as their assets gain in value. Those holding assets become more wealthy while people with fewer assets or no assets either profit little or cannot profit at all from the price increases.
3. The Credit Market Amplifies the Effects
The effects of asset price inflation can be amplified by the credit market. Those who have a higher income can carry higher credit in contrast to those with lower income, by acquiring real estate, for example, or other assets. If real estate prices rise due to an expansion of the money supply, they may profit from those price increases and the gap between rich and poor grows even faster.
4. Boom and Bust Cycles Create Unemployment
The direct cause of unemployment is the inflexibility of the labor market, caused by state interference and labor union pressures. An indirect cause of unemployment is the expansion of the paper money supply, which can lead to illusory economic booms that in turn lead to malinvestment. Especially in inflexible labor markets, when these malinvestments become evident in a down economy, it ultimately leads to higher and more lasting unemployment that is often most severely felt among the lowest-income households.
The State Continues to Expand
Once the gap in income distribution and asset distribution has been opened, the supporters and protectors of social justice will more and more speak out, not knowing (or not saying) that it is the state itself with its monopolistic monetary system that is responsible for the conditions described.
It’s a perfidious “business model” in which the state creates social inequality through its monopolistic monetary system, splits society into poor and rich, and makes people dependent on welfare. It then intervenes in a regulatory and distributive manner, in order to justify its existence. The economist Roland Baader observed:
The political caste must prove its right to exist, by doing something. However, because everything it does, it does much worse, it has to constantly carry out reforms, i.e., it has to do something, because it did something already. It would not have to do something, had it not already done something. If only one knew what one could do to stop it from doing things.
The state even exploits the uncertainty in the population about the true reasons for the growing gap in income and asset distribution. For example, The Fourth Poverty and Wealth Report of the German Federal Government states that since 2002, there has been a clear majority among the German people in favor of carrying out measures to reduce differences in income.
The reigning paper money system is at the center of the growing income inequality and expanding poverty rates we find in many countries today. Nevertheless, states continue to grow in power in the name of taming the market system that has supposedly caused the impoverishment actually caused by the state and its allies.
[V]iolence by proxy – via the flim-flam of the ballot box and by having other people do the actual dirty work on our behalf – allows us to blank out the true knowledge of what’s going on. It is very hard – for most people – to contemplate threatening to assault their next-door neighbor for almost any reason. Even if your own wife or mother desperately needed food, obtaining it by kicking in your neighbor’s door and forcibly taking it at gunpoint is something very few psychologically normal people could do without experiencing extreme pangs of moral guilt. Particularly if the their victim attempted to defend himself and it became “necessary” to actually harm – or kill – him in order to obtain their “help.”
But when people use the ballot box or other mechanisms of “democracy” to do the same thing, they feel ok about it because they are not forced to confront the reality they have victimized other human beings.
Very bad, indeed. It normalizes moral obscenity.
Moreover, a principle has been established – and a precedent set – when one accepts blood money for whatever purpose. …
My “good” – my financial security – and my peace of mind – is undermined. For the sake of some other person’s “good.”
Over the past ten years, the total taken from me to “help” the local schools [through property taxes] amounts to almost $20,000. Over the next twenty, it’ll be another $40,000 – assuming the annual rate does not increase (which is about as likely as my rooster reciting Shakespeare). It will be said I can “afford” this. That it is necessary for the good of the children. Other people’s children. As opposed to the good of my own family.
How nice it must be to glibly dispose of other people’s money.
My physical security is threatened, too.
Because if I ever decline to “help,” eventually, men with guns will come and physically remove me from “my” home. These men will try to kill me if I attempt to defend myself.
You may say I am selfish and mean-spirited for not wanting to “help” finance “the children’s” education.
But here’s the broader point: If it is ethically ok to insist I hand over my money – and threaten to cage/kill me if I say no – for the sake of one thing, then logically, it is ok to do so for another thing.
In fact, for almost any thing.
“Good” is a subjective. You may believe it’s taxpayer-financed public (government) schools or libraries. I may believe it is a new shopping mall – created via eminent domain seizures of people’s homes and land to make way for it. Another person might believe it would be good to send a manned mission to Mars. No doubt some of these things are good – at least, in the eyes of some, and in terms of those who benefit. But they also entail and necessarily create victims. Winners – and losers. A potentially limitless pool of them. Indeed, we all become one another’s victims – for the sake of one another’s conceptions of “good.”
And – presto – we get to where we are: A system of plunder on a vast scale, in which you’re grateful to be “allowed” to keep anything, but in which nothing you have isn’t, in principle, off limits.
“Americans live with paternalist government that nudges (and shoves) them to do what it deems best and “help” everyone with everything. But government is just flawed people with worse information and worse incentives than the individuals directly involved…”—Gary Galles
“It is not radical to believe Americans should be free to talk to their friends, lovers, family members, and associates in private, without anyone listening. And it is no more radical to suggest that they ought to be able to do so via email.”—Conor Friedersdorf, “The Effort to Stigmatize Privacy as Anti-American” (via hipsterlibertarian)
Suppose that you’re at a McDonald’s restaurant or at a Safeway supermarket or at the office of a maid-service company and you see a 20-something young woman. The woman is obviously poor by American standards and her English is broken and heavily accented. She has no certifiable job experience. She applies for a job and is rejected. She – with entrepreneurial gumption – responds to the rejection by offering to work, not for the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour but, instead, for $5.00 per hour. You observe the manager’s evident interest in her counteroffer. The manager ponders for a minute or two and then whispers to her – yet loud enough for you to overhear – “Look, that’s against the law, but I can use you at $5.00 per hour. So, okay, you’re hired! But please don’t tell anyone or else I’ll be in serious trouble and you’ll lose this job.”
Would you – you personally – intervene to stop this woman from taking this job? Would you – you personally - be willing to look her in the eyes and tell her that she may not take that job? Would you – you personally – inform this young woman (with regret, of course) that she must remain unemployed for the time being and resume her job search elsewhere? And would you – you personally - be willing to use force against this woman to prevent her from working at $5.00 per hour if she stubbornly ignores your demands? Would you be willing, if her stubborn refusal to refuse the job persists, to poke a gun in her face to prevent her from working at an hourly wage of $5.00 per hour?
I have little doubt that many of you would willingly – even happily – take action against the manager who offers to employ this woman at $5.00 per hour (although you’d probably prefer to take this action out of eyesight and earshot of the woman whose job you’ll destroy by bringing the scofflaw manager to ‘justice’; you don’t want the woman to know that you, personally, are responsible for her misfortune). And I have no doubt that even more of you would be eager to rush home to call the police to report this incident and demand that armed cops intervene to punish the manager and to keep this woman from working at $5.00 per hour. But I wonder how many of you – you personally - have the courage of your moral convictions to be able to look the woman in her eyes and expose yourself personally, to her, as someone willing to deny her the opportunity to work at the highest wage she can now earn.
And if I’m correct, how can you, in good conscience, continue to feel that minimum-wage legislation is ethically justified?
Recent New York Times opinion articles by Arindrajit Dube and Paul Krugman suggest that raising the minimum wage will have no effects on employment.
University of California (Irvine) professors David Neumark and J.M. Ian Salas and Federal Reserve Board of Governors economist William Wascher show that raising the minimum wage will result in fewer jobs for teens and low-skill workers. Their recent working paper,Revisiting the Minimum Wage-Employment Debate: Throwing Out the Baby with the Bathwater, was released by the National Bureau of Economic Research this year. They conclude that “the research record still shows that minimum wages pose a tradeoff of higher wages for some against job losses for others, and that policymakers need to bear this tradeoff in mind when making decisions about increasing the minimum wage.”
This debate shows the problems of statistical analysis when interpreting complex economic situations. Since fewer than 3 percent of American workers are paid the minimum wage or below, teasing out effects on the aggregate economy is complex—many are unseen.
Nevertheless, evidence is clear that teens and low-skill workers are disproportionately affected by increases in the minimum wage (see Neumark’s review of minimum wage literature). When minimum wage is increased, workers whose skills are below the new level are pushed out of or blocked from entering the workforce. Young people (half of those earning the minimum wage) who are looking to gain experience are put at a disadvantage. In earlier work, Neumark has shown that higher minimum wages particularly affect African American teens, whose unemployment rate is now 36 percent.
Most who want a higher minimum wage argue in support of increasing the federal, not state or local, minimum wage. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have a rate above the federal level. The commonly proposed federal rate of $10.10 is above Washington State’s level of $9.19 an hour—the highest in the nation. Labor market conditions and cost of living differ throughout the country, as is shown by how difficult it is to statistically measure the real effects of minimum wage increases.
Pretending that increasing the rate would have no negative effects on inexperienced and low-skill workers is misleading and unrealistic. If minimum wages had no effect, why stop at $10.10? Why not $20.20, or $30.30? The answer, of course, is that many people would not be employed—just as some will not be employed with an increase in the wage to $10.10. As is the case with many well-intentioned policies, the losers of higher minimum wage laws are those who are young or low-skilled.
“U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries may be militarily effective, but they are killing innocent civilians in a way that is obscene and immoral. I’m afraid that ignoring this ugly fact makes Americans complicit in murder.”—
I don’t think it makes all Americans complicit, because many of use did not vote for or support the people who enact these policies, and it’s not like taxes are voluntary. But it does make some of us complicit, and it unquestionably makes our government guilty as — there’s really no other word for it — hell.
Same applies to Romney-supporters, of course, or supporters of pretty much any politician. But when you re-elect someone who is a confirmed perpetrator of these acts, you can’t feign surprise when he continues to do what he has already done.
(And of course those of us who didn’t support warmongers are not complicit.)
The NSA also claims that as a result of its spying, it has kept us safe.
I reject the argument that the government is empowered to take our liberties – here, the right to privacy – by majority vote or by secret fiat as part of an involuntary collective bargain that it needs to monitor us in private in order to protect us in public.
“We as a society” or “we as a nation” is generally used as an incantation with no scientific meaning. If it has any ascertainable meaning, it means “we who want to impose our current and perhaps changing whims on others.”
The simplest interpretation of “we as a society” is that it represents what a majority votes for. It would simply mean, we as a majority of 51 percent (or 60 percent, or 30 percent if we are talking of a mere plurality). But how is the majority representative of society? What tells us that another majority wouldn’t vote differently if the issues were presented differently? Whose preferences exactly does the majority represent?
Jason Brennan seems to think Mises considers action to be, by definition, “rational” in the sense of “guided by sound reason.” If he would read Mises more carefully, Jason would realize that Mises means “rational” in the sense of: guided by reason (human thinking regarding causation, relations, means, and ends, etc) at all, whether sound or faulty.
[Mises’ own view:]
“When applied to the means chosen for the attainment of ends, the terms rational and irrational imply a judgment about the expediency and adequacy of the procedure employed. The critic approves or disapproves of the method from the point of view of whether or not it is best suited to attain the end in question. It is a fact that human reason is not infallible and that man very often errs in selecting and applying means. An action unsuited to the end sought falls short of expectation. It is contrary to purpose, but it is rational, i.e., the outcome of a reasonable–although faulty–deliberation and an attempt–although an ineffectual attempt–to attain a definite goal. The doctors who a hundred years ago employed certain methods for the treatment of cancer which our contemporary doctors reject were–from the point of view of present-day pathology–badly instructed and therefore inefficient. But they did not act irrationally; they did their best. It is probable that in a hundred years more doctors will have more efficient methods at hand for the treatment of this disease. They will be more efficient but not more rational than our physicians.”
[Brennan then] gleans from his misinterpretation the conclusion that it is an open question whether markets and “actual human beings in the real world are better described by your a priori theory of human action or by behavioral economics.”
But the very questions virtually everyone of all schools of economic thought ask in economics involve such teleological notions as “prosperity,” “buy,” and “sell.” These notions presuppose that objects under consideration are acting, and therefore under Mises’s definition of the word, rational: using the human mind to guide action, however adeptly or ineptly.
He then scoffs at Austrian apriorists as characteristically the kind that contribute to journals that aren’t approved of by a certain massively state-sponsored and state-privileged establishment university in Washington, D.C., and which are therefore “fake.”
Given the fact that both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations (not to mention Congress) have followed the Keynesian playbook, the sorry results should be enough to discredit Keynesianism, this time for good. Either a theory explains and predicts phenomena or it does not, and it should be clear that Keynesian theory has failed.
Alas, the academic “market test” really does not embrace the actual success or failure of a theory. It seems that many academic economists do not wish to be bothered by what happens in the real world. The vaunted “market test” is not about actual results, but is about what many economists are willing to accept as what they wish to be true and what politicians believe is good for their own electoral purposes.
The assumption that comes with attempting to apply Eugene Fama’s “Perfect Market Hypothesis” to academic economics presupposes that economists are interested only in what actually occurs. Furthermore, the belief presumes that when presented with a set of facts, academic economists will give the same analysis and not be influenced by partisan politics.
Given the interpretations that economists such as Krugman, Alan Blinder, and others have made in the aftermath of the disastrous first week of “ObamaCare,” not to mention their shilling for the Obama administration itself, the latter is clearly untrue. Furthermore, we see there are “gains from trade,” as politicians tend to flock to those economists who can offer the proverbial “quick fix” to whatever ails the economy, as being seen as doing something confers more political benefits than doing the right thing, which is to curb the power, scope, and influence of state power.
In the 1930s you had a catastrophe, and if you were a public official or even just a layman looking for guidance and understanding, what did you get from institutionalists? Caricaturing, but only slightly, you got long, elliptical explanations that it all had deep historical roots and clearly there was no quick fix. Meanwhile, along came the Keynesians, who were model-oriented, and who basically said “Push this button” — increase G, and all will be well. And the experience of the wartime boom seemed to demonstrate that demand-side expansion did indeed work the way the Keynesians said it did.
In the past five years politicians have been pushing “button G” and all is not well. Yet, in this age of unrestrained government, the Keynesian promise of prosperity springing from massive government spending is attractive to politicians, economists, and public intellectuals. That it only makes things worse is irrelevant and beside the point. If the economy falters, politicians and academic economists blame capitalism, not Keynesianism, and they get away with it.
On a flight across the country, you watch the playoff game on live television, listen to some favorite playlists as you catch up on work, then relax with some video poker. Arriving home, you delete the game from your DVR and consider your options. Too tired for an intense cable drama — which you prefer to experience in immersive weekend marathons of at least three episodes each — you stream a first-season episode of “Duck Dynasty” from Amazon.com, then run last week’s “Elementary” from your DVR queue. While watching, you check IMDB.com to see where you’ve seen that familiar-looking guest star before, then you jump to your Facebook and Twitter feeds. You finish the evening with “SportsCenter,” recorded just far enough ahead that you can skip most of the commercials.
Little of this customized entertainment would have been possible a decade ago — and almost none of it shows up in the income and productivity statistics that dominate our understanding of the economy. A form of progress that large numbers of people experience every day, the increase in entertainment variety and convenience represents a challenge to the increasingly conventional wisdom that American living standards have stagnated, at least for the middle class.
The proliferation of entertainment choices doesn’t by itself refute those arguments. But entertainment is far from the only sector of the economy where unmeasured quality and variety improvements have ramped up in recent years. It reminds us how easy it is to take for granted even fairly obvious increases in the standard of living and real incomes of typical Americans.
The value of customized entertainment isn’t trivial to economic well-being.
On Oct. 2, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new rule that would…[designate] a specific form of bone marrow — circulating bone-marrow stem cells derived from blood — as a kind of donation that, under the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act, cannot be compensated. If this rule goes into effect (the public comment period ends today), anyone who pays another person for donating these cells would be subject to as much as five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Here’s why it’s a bad thing:
altruism has proven insufficient to motivate enough people to give marrow and, as a result, people die… Each year, 2,000 to 3,000 Americans in need of marrow transplants die waiting for a match. Altruism is a virtue, but clearly it is not a dependable motive for marrow donation.
Satel notes earlier in the article:
Locating a marrow donor is often a needle-in-a-haystack affair. The odds that two random individuals will have the same tissue type are less than 1 in 10,000, and the chances are much lower for blacks. Among the precious few potential donors who are matched, nearly half don’t follow through with the actual donation. Too often, patients don’t survive the time it takes to hunt for another donor.
Allowing compensation for donations could enlarge the pool of potential donors and increase the likelihood that compatible donors will follow through. So the [recent] ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [authorizing compensation for donors] was promising news for the 12,000 people with cancer and blood diseases currently looking for a marrow donor.
I can see two potential problems: the first is that people might donate bone marrow out of economic desperation, and this feels wrong to us at first glance. But is it really? Particularly when both parties benefit so readily from it? Indeed, given the risks of bone marrow donation, don’t donors deserve to be compensated? This is an objection which could be readily met by setting a threshold for compensated donations, to ensure that donors are compensation fairly for their donation.
The second problem is a more difficult one. There is potential that for-profit donations may eventually crowd out uncompensated donations, since why would any stranger do for free what they can get paid to do instead? Particularly when they’re making such an essential sacrifice—their own body?
At the end of the day though, I think the balance of equities weighs in favor of allowing for-profit donations. I have enough faith in the goodness of people that crowding out will be minimal. If someone walked up to me tomorrow and said I could save someone’s life with a bone marrow transplant, but that they couldn’t afford to pay me, I like to think that my decision would not be based on the lack of compensation. Meanwhile, some people may be more likely to donate if they know their risks will be well compensated. Allowing for-profit donations seems to be the better side of the argument, from my point of view.
I of course agree with your conclusion, but you overstate the concerns.
To your first “potential problem”: “people might donate bone marrow out of economic desperation.” Your solution is government (ostensibly; you don’t specify but the implication is there) “setting a threshold for compensated donations” to ensure “fairness.” As in pretty much every other instance of “fairness” being set from without, whatever is decided would be completely arbitrary. If two people negotiate on a price and willfully agree, then the price is fair. Either one owns oneself and thus controls his or her body, or he/she doesn’t.
Some may conclude that “economic desperation” would lead people to accept prices that seem unreasonable. You do not want people to be taken advantage of, and I grant that is a noble concern. But if organ donation is made legal - that is, if the state does not interfere in the consensual exchange of free individuals - then the market for organs will function like like all other markets. As I often note, the laws of supply and demand is immutable. Does anyone doubt that there will likely be more people in need of organs (marrow, in this instance) than those willing to endure the painful procedure to give it away? Thus, there will be competition for marrow. This drives the price up. And as the price rises, it will incentivize ever more people to enter the market and offer their marrow. This increases supply! More marrow will be available to sick people in need. As the supply increases, the price again lowers as it trends toward equilibrium. This means greater access to the sick. All good things.
Furthermore, because caring people like you would still exist, non-profits would no doubt emerge to help offset the costs for organs and offer minimum prices at what the non-profits and their sponsors seem fair - further assuaging concerns of individuals being taken advantage of.
As to your second “potential problem”: “for-profit donations may eventually crowd out uncompensated donations.” To address this, we must look at the matter in a different way.
Would you agree that, while very helpful and important, organ donation is not the most essential factor for our survival, yes? After all, only a small percentage of the overall population needs an organ transplant, whereas every human requires food, clean water, shelter, medicine, other forms of healthcare, etc. But we can acknowledge that it would be foolish to think in terms of the for-profit farmer “crowding out” the one who donates his labor with only the thanks of strangers as his reward. And most would agree that it would be irresponsible to suggest that doctors not be compensated for their years of dedication and sacrifice and training and expertise and labor and risks, yes? Thankfully, slavery has mostly been outlawed in this country. So why would the selling of organs - a much more painful and dangerous process than plucking a carrot from the ground - be different?
As illustrated above, selling organs would create incentive for people to offer theirs. The greater the need and the smaller the supply, the greater the price offered. The greater the price offered, the more people willing to exchange. Then, as now, most people with compatible family members will still receive donations from them. But those unfortunate souls without compatible family members will have more life-saving options available to them.
Allowing free people to buy and sell bone marrow is the only humane option. Not only does it represent a more just and civilized society (no state introducing threats of violence into the consensual decisions of free people), but it also means that no longer will so many people die every year hopelessly waiting for a matching donor.
The NFL is a private company and can do whatever they want.
Indeed. That much was already noted in the original post. Of course they can choose who to associate with. The point is that there is an incongruity with its paeans to militarism that involves individuals using guns overseas to make us less safe while denying an ad that is about a father owning a gun at home to keep his wife and child safe.
This is dumb.
What is? Is it dumb to note the hypocrisy in the NFL’s stance? Is it dumb to note how outrageously anti-gun media voices must be to avoid public relations backlash from the ignorant and naive masses who would doubtlessly cry fowl at a commercial that has a man state “I am responsible for [my family’s] protection” and further imply that he can use a certain tool to do so?
I love DD but they can’t force another company to do what they want.
Of course they can’t. And not a single word in that post even suggested otherwise. Again, it was explicitly noted in the original post: “I support the NFL being allowed to choose to run whatever they want (or not) during their games, assuming that such decision-making is part of its contracts with the network airing the game.”
“In addition to making jobs hard to find, minimum wage laws may also harm workers by changing how they are compensated. Fringe benefits – such as paid vacation, free room and board, inexpensive insurance, subsidized child care, and on-the-job training – are an important part of the total compensation package for many low-wage workers. When minimum wages rise, employers can control total compensation costs by cutting benefits. In extreme cases, employers convert low-wage full-time jobs with benefits to high-wage part-time jobs with no benefits and fewer hours. David Neumark and William Wascher found that a 10 percent increase in minimum wages decreased on-the-job training for young people by 1.5–1.8 percent. Since on-the-job training is the way most people build their salable skills, these findings suggest that minimum wage laws also reduce future opportunities for the unskilled.”—Linda Gorman, “Minimum Wages”
According to an Icelandic news agency, an armed man in his fifties had been making threats to his neighbours, prompting police to evacuate the apartment building where he lived.
Shortly after 05:00 am local time the man started to fire shots from a window. Police returned fire. According to eyewitnesses, some sort of smoke bomb was thrown into the apartment through a broken window. Armed police entered the apartment of the gunman at around 06:00 am and the man was shot in the process. He was taken out in a stretcher and taken to hospital before being pronounced dead.