After the close of business last Friday, Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole announced that no more airports will be permitted to participate in the congressionally authorized program under which all U.S. airports are allowed to have passenger and baggage screening performed by TSA-certified private security firms instead of TSA’s own federal workforce. …
This decision is bad news for airports, air travelers, and for effective airport security.
In fact, the opt-out program should be expanded, not frozen, for at least five good reasons…
A government agency usurping more power and control? Say it ain’t so…
“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”—Adrian Rogers (via combattant-de-la-liberte)
Whenever Republicans and Democrats agree, it’s almost never for anything good. Typically, “bi-partisanship” is a code-word for more of your liberty or property to be taken away. As Andrew Napolitano always says, “We have one party; called the Big Government Party. The Republican wing likes deficits, war, and assaults on civil liberties. The Democratic wing likes wealth transfer, taxes, and assaults on commercial liberties. Both parties like power; and neither is interested in your freedoms.”
So when there is common ground, it’s usually in favor of government.
Case in point, the “bi-partisan” response to Egypt.
Mubarak, you see, is not so bad of a guy. Since his ascendancy to power, he has enjoyed rich financial support from his friends in the U.S. - regardless of which party was in power. Second only to Israel, it has received an average of just under $2 billion/year in aid (see: “regime support”) for the last 30 years. So this recent uprising is proving to be a bit of an inconvenience to the big government doctrinaires in D.C.
Vice President Joe Biden, Democrat, wants to frame the narrative properly. Naturally, it would be awful for him to be seen as supporting a tyrant. So he explains to the unlettered masses: “I would not refer to [Mubarak] as a dictator.”
"Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with - with Israel."
Our continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our hundreds of thousands of troops in dozens of countries should reveal how wholly unserious the Democratic party is at being anti-empire, but no one likes a good fight in the War Room like the GOP. And Republican notables Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, among others, agitate that the populist rebellion may actually be subversively coordinated by anti-American Islamist sentiment. The Egyptian people standing up to their tyrannical government ”threatens the very existence our children and our future.” The next government, you see, may not be as willing to be our pawn in the region.
A secondary theme in all this is the way our representatives in power are comparing and contrasting power over people.
Obama said: Today’s government should take more control of the nation’s resources so it can do innovative things akin to building the transcontinental railroad and exploring space.
The nation heard: You should trust the government whose recent innovations include the ethanol debacle that, four days before the State of the Union, the government expanded. And you should surrender more resources to the government whose recent innovations include the wild proliferation of subprime mortgages.
One of the foundations of modern society is the belief that governments’ legitimacy is derived from the consent of the governed — a concept championed by political philosophers of the 18th century European Enlightenment, such as John Locke. It was Locke’s treatises on government that inspired the Declaration of Independence by the thirteen American colonies in 1776, as well as the Constitution that established the United States of America as the first modern republic in 1787.
The exact nature of the consent, however, has been a point of contention ever since. Today, the prevalent position among the governments is that any government whose country is not in a state of active rebellion is presumed to have at least the tacit consent of the populace. Furthermore, as a demonstration of that consent, just about every government in the world organizes elections and pays lip service to democracy.
What happens, however, when the governed begin to believe that the government no longer cares about their consent, or lack thereof?
The promise of profit is what incentivizes people to take risks. Conversely, the potential for loss is what incentivizes people to be reasoned, efficient, and prudent in their risk-taking.
The left hate when individuals profit from their efforts, as progressive taxation and the regulatory state punishes success to make society’s risk-takers “pay their fair share.” They also wish to protect people from their losses, failures, and short-comings, creating moral hazard with their bailouts and social safety nets.
If one truly valued the progress and innovation that is the result of risk-taking, one would be a free market capitalist.
I do not presume to know you. And as a matter of fact, the mere actuality that I do not know you is the point of free market anarcho-capitalism: no central planner could ever account for the tastes, desires, and demands of every individual.
And we are not completely Homo economicus; we do not solely base decisions on what is rational. We all make dumb decisions and mistakes from time to time. My wife, I’m sure, will put me forward as evidence to the fact. But most of us usually strive to make rational decisions that benefit (profit) us or - by proxy - our loved ones. (I explained in this follow up post, that profit does not necessarily mean money.)
My point was that profit provides incentive for taking risk.
Let’s discuss your example of coming out to your friends and family. Surely you hoped to gain something, if only the relief of finally being able to fully express yourself and be yourself around those you care about. You also stood to gain, potentially, closer and more intimate relationships once your secret was no longer standing in the way. Those are among your potential profits for taking the risk. You of course had to weigh that against the possible negative outcomes and also the uncomfortable feelings regarding the status quo of remaining closeted. I would imagine that at some point you made this risk assessment and decided that the pros outweighed the cons.
Now - not to marginalize, but simply for the sake of explanation - allow me to present to you the following hypothetical situation: imagine if a tv network or some magazine had offered you a million dollars to document your “coming out.” Or instead of money, something else of value to you was offered: backstage passes to any show you ever wanted, or perfect skin, or world peace… Would that not add incentive to your coming out? Would you not, then, have more reason to do so? Conversely, would the broadcast or publication of your coming out not also add an additional layer of risk for loss (possible embarrassment, discomfort, etc.) and thus provide incentive to not come out?
So we may not always think in these terms, but that does not mean that this is not apt understanding of general human behavior and human action.
One of the marks of a good economist is to recognize that money is not all that matters. Incentives come in lots of different forms – often in monetary forms, but often (perhaps even more often) in non-monetary forms.
The man who diets and goes to the gym regularly might well do so in order to make himself more attractive to potential mates. The benefit isn’t monetary, and the cost isn’t exclusively, or even chiefly, monetary. But there’s nevertheless a real cost-benefit calculation going on in that guy’s mind. Raise the cost (say, he injures a pectoral muscle) or lower the benefits (say, he meets a fetchin’ babe with a fetish for flabby dudes), and he’ll spend less time at the gym. And vice-versa.
*I am, of course, assuming that you did not really think the crux of my post was to advocate a coming-out show. I can’t conceive of anyone reading my post and logically coming to that farcical conclusion.
All these countries are different unto themselves, but the people in all of them share similar circumstances of living under dictatorial rule with repression and oppression that brings personal humiliation, lack of respect and dignity toward the individual at the hands of their government, extreme poverty, unemployment, rising prices for necessities along with widespread official corruption.
In all the Arab countries in rebellion their governments and their leaders are client states of the U.S. In the name of maintaining stability and our “war on terrorism” we have supported these country’s autocrats with military hardware and training of their security forces. …
The rebellions have all been spontaneous and internet connected, not led by activist types and their groups who are the “usual” opponents of the government. They are amorphous swellings of “ordinary” people inspired to join in and take part in these movements to overthrow their oppressors.
“Note that our wise public servants are [never] portrayed as having sinister motives. From time to time they may make ‘mistakes,’ but their intentions are good and they seek only to serve us. Those who resist them, on the other hand, are wicked and perverse. They must be crushed. They must be smeared and made into objects of hatred. Government is supposed to grow, our wise public servants and their favored constituencies are supposed to enrich themselves, and the rest of us are supposed to sit back and take it. The natural right of Ivy Leaguers to try out their theories on the American public shall not be infringed.”—Thomas Woods
hipsterlibertarian made a very long and detailed post in response to my questions about the libertarian view of healthcare. and while i appreciate the effort she took to write the post, and completely recognize the fact that she is an intelligent person with well-constructed arguments, and with all due respect, it’s the biggest load of tripe i have ever read.
a few things stuck out at me, but none more obnoxious than this:
Is it ok for insurance companies to deny people insurance because they have preexisting conditions?
I think most libertarians would be with me when I answer with a personally qualified “yes.” Insurance companies are a business, and, like other businesses, they exist primarily to make a profit. So it’s understandable if, from a business perspective, they would not wish to work with unprofitable clients. That isn’t to say that libertarians don’t value people, want them to go without health care if they can’t afford it, or would run their own insurance companies that way if they owned them. It’s simply recognizing that it is not in the insurance company’s interest to accept clients with preexisting conditions — or at least not to accept them at the same rates they’d give everyone else. Perhaps unfortunately, most people don’t get into the insurance business to be humanitarians; they do it to make a profit. If they were there to help people, they’d probably start a nonprofit or charitable organization.
the word ‘bollocks’ is about the only thing that comes to mind.
if you truly believe that healthcare is a business, and that people should be making profits off of the illness of other people, you are a bad person.
it’s really as cut and dry as that. if you view another human being’s misery as a way to make a dime, you are a bad person.
i don’t care about free markets. i don’t care about contracts and businesses and the goddamn economy. i care about the well-being of other human beings.
you can’t be a compassionate person AND be for private, for-profit insurance. you can tell yourself anything you want, but that doesn’t make it so.
in fact, saying that healthcare is a business does in fact mean that you think that some people should go without the care they need. you believe that these people ought to depend on charity.
i’m not here to convince anyone that universal healthcare is the way to go. i can’t convince anyone of that who is not already convinced. if you believe that healthcare is a privilege, you and i are fundamentally different. we will not agree. we can’t. because you’re convinced that it’s ok for people to suffer, and i’m not.
you can chalk it all up to your political or economic beliefs, and you can excuse your lack of empathy for the human condition because you don’t want the government in your life. but it’s just that- an excuse. an excuse for being a bad person. it’s not political. the health and well-being of your fellow man is not political. and the sooner you can divorce your lack of a heart from your politics, the sooner you can accept the fact that you are just a bad person.
I’m not at all surprised that this was your response, Lauren.
Bonnie laid out the facts quite plainly, and you dismissed everything she said out of hand, resorting instead to emotional appeals about “empathy for the human condition” and ad hominems about her being a “bad person.”
That our current system has become the way it is preciselybecause of government intervention (as Bonnie proved using various examples of health care legislation), is simply incontrovertible, and your solution is *more* government for the mere fact that you think that no one should make a profit from “someone else’s misery,” despite the abundance of evidence that the only way to ensure the highest level of care, for the most amount of people, at the lowest cost, is by allowing health care to be provided by the free market — as Bonnie said, free ofgovernment regulation, which is not the equivalent of “no regulations.”
This is a really sad response. I expected much better from you, and I suspect that what you’re actually achieving here is to demonstrate to your followers the irrationality of socialized medicine, because I don’t think that any rational person could read hipsterlibertarian’s post, and then read yours, and be in any way convinced by your emotional rebuttal.
Ricardo, did you really expect better? That Bonnie put together such a thorough, cordial rebuttal while greenstate responds with suchvileness (I’d call it textbook, but really I only wrote a post) hopefully signals to her followers the kind of person she is. Then again, if they haven’t figured it out by now, there may not be much hope for them.
The fact of the matter is, greenstate can never come to a proper conclusion because she begins with two (common for the left) incorrect assumptions.
First, she conflates health insurance with health care. Insurance should not be necessary for furnishing care any more than it should be necessary for acquiring food or clothing. That it currently is, is a problem inherent with the very system Bonnie plainly exposed as crafted by government. The fundamental problem with our health care is that is expensive. And the reason it is expensive is because of all the government interference that insulates consumers from costs, adds bureaucratic and regulatory excess, suppresses competition, and incentivizes unnecessary procedures.
Her second poor assumption is that profit is evil. To the contrary, profit is simply information. Profit signals to the market where human demands are, and provides the human feedback required to funnel limited resources into good ideas over bad. It’s what stops the funding for a failed medical experiment to instead fund more promising research. It’s what drives vegan products to be stocked more heavily in San Francisco than Auburn because there are more people who want the product in San Fran. There is no better metric of human demand, and thus value, than the information-rich market signal of profit.
As I have previously attempted to explain to greenstate and her husband: “The promise of profit is what incentivizes people to take risks. Conversely, the potential for loss is what incentivizes people to be reasoned, efficient, and prudent in their risk-taking.”
Profit is not evil. In a free market, it is what forces people to satisfy the needs of others (while conserving resources, no less) in order to make themselves happy.
And please correct me if wrong, since there was use of a translator (namely, me):
I hear you. I understand your socio-economic concerns. Now be quiet and behave. Respect the law. The only reason you can even protest is because of the freedoms I have given you.
Oh, and I will get rid of everyone else in government and replace them with individuals who listen to the people. And since I know what the people want, I really mean me, of course. In other words, you may claim that you want me out and that a few in the parliament have brought forward some freedoms and progress, but I know what you really want. So instead of stepping down and moving forward with free elections, I’m granting myself the power to rearrange government with people I choose.
“Rights belong to individuals, not groups. Property should be owned by people, not government. All voluntary associations should be permissible — economic and social. The government’s monetary role is to maintain the integrity of the monetary unit, not participate in fraud. Government exists to protect liberty, not to redistribute wealth or to grant special privileges.
The lives and actions of people are their own responsibility, not the government’s.”—Ron Paul (via stardustman)
Hey, since you're awesome at economics, I was wondering if you could help me out with a question.
I was talking to somebody about the public transportation system, and this somebody said that public transportation has what is called 'free rider benefits'.He said that people riding in cars benefit from public transportation systems because they benefit indirectly from not having an additional 50 cars on the road (people who are on the bus, naturally). This means reduced traffic for the 'free riders'. Therefore, this somehow justified having public transportation and forcing people who don't use it to pay for it. I'm just wondering what your take on it is...
Thanks for the compliment and the question.
This argument is not unlike those during the health care debate.
We were told that “free-loaders” who didn’t have insurance were driving the cost of insurance and hospital care up for the rest of us. While this is true, its actual affect on prices was nearly negligible. The claim, per President Obama, was that the hidden costs of uncompensated health care for the uninsured cost the average family around $900/year. The reality is that uncompensated care costs the average family much less, about $200/year. Meanwhile, the administrative costs alone of ObamaCare - meaning, not including the increase in prices from the quashed competition, the increase in prices that comes with a higher demand for insurance, the increase in prices that comes from the very inefficiency of government bureaucracy, the increase in taxes that comes with paying interest on debt incurred from a giant, new entitlement program - will be $1,000 per family. Whatever the actual cost is, however, it is clearly well above $200 per year.
This is like killing an ant on your leg with a shotgun.
So, the first thing we should remember is that even when government produces a benefit, it does so inefficiently. After all, if the demand for something was there, no one would need to be forced to pay for it.
Therefore, while there may indeed be a “free rider benefit,” the cost usually far outweighs it.
Public transportation costs millions, and in every instance - even in wealthy, densely populated, and heavily taxed New York City - it functions at a loss. Terminal locations are determined by political clout, not actual human demand. Inflated union wages and benefits dominate. Funding not tied to actual customer service naturally leads to lower quality of service. And when the public cries out against the poor quality of transportation, the political solution is always to throw more money at the problem. Thus, inefficiency is rewarded with greater budgets.
Further, the “free rider benefit” assumes that a free market would not also address those same concerns, same demands. In fact, there could be private buses, trains, and taxis that could offer the same or similar services for cheaper. The government-sponsored cartel of taxi and bus service in New York, for example, makes it more difficult for those who want to offer the public a faster and cheaper alternative to group transportation. The demand is there, but government suppresses it to feed its bureaucracy. If the government didn’t run a public transportation system (and police a transportation cartel to glean “license fees” and protect their cronies who in turn fund their campaigns), private entities would - and the competition would make it better for the consumer. In other words, the same de-congestion affects (“free rider benefits”) of public transportation will still exist if said transportation is privatized - except at much, much lower cost to both the rider and the non-rider.
Lastly, even if the “free rider benefit” was quantifiable and significant, it would only be so to those who value their time more than the money used. What of those who would have preferred to keep their contribution to public transportation at the cost of a slower commute? The government has taken the choice away from the individual.
“Ever since the new deal, a primary excuse for the expansion of governmental activity at the federal level has been the supposed necessity for government spending to eliminate unemployment.”—Milton Friedman
“And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.”—
- Barack Obama, State of the Union Address
Dear Mr. Obama,
Please learn the difference between the word “ask” and the word “force”. You will find that the first word implies that the person has the option and freedom to deny, ergo, to say: NO. You will also find that the second word implies that the person has no such option or freedom. Learn the definitions of these words. Then apply them to what you said above.
Somebody who doesn’t think you’re as good with words as you claim to be.
Earlier in the same speech, our duplicitous president praised the so-called tax “cuts”*:
"Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans’ paychecks are a little bigger today. Every business can write off the full cost of the new investments they make this year. These steps, taken by Democrats and Republicans, will grow the economy and add to the more than one million private sector jobs created last year.”
*These were not tax cuts, they were stopping a tax increase. Should I be heralded as saintly or heroic any time I pass people on a sidewalk and opt to not punch them in the face?
I know I linked to this in last night’s SOTU Roundup, but it’s well worth a second mention.
Here’s John Stossel’s State of the Union Address. It’s money:
We start by closing the Department of Education, which saves $100 billion a year. Education ought to be in the free market. It’s insane to take money from states only to launder it through Washington and then return it to states.
Next, we should close the Department of Housing and Urban Development: $41 billion. We had plenty of housing in America before a department was created. Let’s get government out of that business.
Then we eliminate the Commerce Department: $9 billion. A government that can’t count the votes accurately should not try to negotiate trade. Trade should be free. Free trade creates prosperity. And since trade should be free, we should eliminate all corporate welfare and all subsidies. That means: agriculture subsidies, green energy subsidies, ethanol subsidies, and subsidies for public broadcasting. None of these is needed.
I propose selling Amtrak. Taxpayers will save money, and riders will get better service. Why is government in the transportation business? Let’s have private companies compete to run the trains.
And we must finally stop one of the biggest assaults on freedom and our pocketbook, the war on drugs. The drug war is really a war on our own people. The ends do not justify the means.
Now the biggest cuts. Republicans propose to cut discretionary nonmilitary spending. Good. But why stop there? That’s only 15 percent of our budget. We must cut more. That means cutting Medicare, Social Security, and the military.
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”—Thomas Jefferson (via combattant-de-la-liberte)
Because bad cops and quiet cops are rewarded, while good cops who speak up against abuse are vilified.
The problem is institutional. Having a monopoly on protection breeds the same type of customer service as any other government-protected monopoly. Coupled with tens of thousands of laws that give those cops even more power over peaceful citizens, how can anyone be surprised with the results?
[I]t’s obvious that [the left-wing and socialist blogs are] doing a much better job of spreading their message of collectivism and oppression than we are of spreading our message of liberty.
It’s inherent with who we are.
We are self-reliant individualists. They are central-planning collectivists. We advocate self-ownership and non-aggression. They advocate communal ownership and that ends justify means. Sheep are naturally easier to herd than tigers; and our de-centralized, independent, live-and-let-live, autarkic natures aren’t as easily channeled (or manipulated) as those who think someone else has all the answers.
That said, I completely feel your frustration and I agree that we must all do our part to fight against the statist hive-mind.
This blog is my conduit. It’s how I inspire to be a modern-day Federal Farmer. But it is not all I do…
May the ripples of truth we make today be the waves of liberty tomorrow.
Paul’s cuts, which amount to 13 percent of the budget and 36 percent of the deficit, make House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s current target of $50 billion or so (which he justifies by noting that Republicans took over Congress in the middle of the fiscal year) look pretty puny. You can see a copy of Paul’s bill here.
“And let’s tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years –- and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college. (Applause.)”—
- Barack Obama, State of the Union Address.
Applause? Applause? Why would anybody applaud after the President of the United States of America has said that he will teach American kids a false sense of entitlement over the labours and resources of another human being?
Do you applaud if a thief announces that he will steal your money?
Eyre is charged with “disorderly conduct” (for wearing a hat after being told not to wear a hat by a clown with a shiny badge and an inflated sense of self-importance) and “resisting arrest” (for declining to assist in his own abduction by other clowns with shiny badges and inflated senses of self-importance). …
But hat-wearing and passivity in the face of brutality, even magically transmuted into criminal charges, don’t explain Eyre’s continued incarceration. To understand that, we have to look to the fetishes of a guy with a black robe and, you guessed it, an inflated sense of self-importance.
It seems that a judge in Keene, New Hampshire has taken an intense interest in pet obedience training, and wants Eyre to speak on command like a dog earning a treat. Eyre’s in jail, per the newspaper account, “because he refused to give his name.”
The symbolic significance of headgear and hairstyles has existed for centuries. They have served to identify social rank and personal affiliations. Doffing one’s hat is a recognized sign of respect. Silently wearing a hat then, could be a non-disruptive method of personal expression, of showing disdain for the ritual being presented — or a simple declaration that a warm head is more important than the judge’s feelings. And maybe the court officer was offended by the words “Don’t Tread on Me” printed on Eyre’s hat.
But whatever the officer thought of Eyre’s hat, his order to remove it in a cold courtroom was a deliberate display of power. He wanted to send a message that the courtroom is his turf, and the pettiest rules of decorum serve to designate privilege and rank. This is why a police officer who was photographed wearing a hat in the courtroom shortly after Eyre’s arrest was not accosted. This is also why the judge sits in a high chair and wears a special costume — and why people in the courtroom are expected to stand up when His Majesty enters the Court.
But why should people respect the court system or eagerly submit to its representatives? A court is little more than a money-making monopoly presided over by a politician in a fancy dress. Agents of any court deserve respect only when they respect individual liberty, something they are unlikely to do unless it happens to be convenient for the power structure they are tasked to uphold.
The pettiest tyranny enables and emboldens the deadliest tyranny. Every day, individuals who were not hurting anybody are assaulted by heavily-armed agents of the state and hauled away in chains to confinement centers of violent domination. For any violence that victims suffer along the way, the default is to blame them, not their assailants who carry badges that command respect. And this is the system that supports war crimes and corporate looting. The court, an obscene theater of power relations that intentionally uses language incomprehensible to the average person, is an integral part of this system. Government’s pretensions of rank and legitimacy support power relations that encourage some people to victimize others, and respecting court rituals supports the system’s pretensions.