“Trade does not require force. Free trade consists simply in letting people buy and sell as they want to buy and sell. It is protection that requires force, for it consists in preventing people from doing what they want to do. Protective tariffs are as much applications of force as are blockading squadrons, and their object is the same—to prevent trade. The difference between the two is that blockading squadrons are a means whereby nations seek to prevent their enemies from trading; protective tariffs are a means whereby nations attempt to prevent their own people from trading. What protection teaches us, is to do to ourselves in time of peace what enemies seek to do to us in time of war.”—
Henry George (1886)
Tariffs and import quotas do to a populace during times of peace what a blockade does to their enemies in times of war.
[I]t is simply not true that military action is necessary to “secure” global oil supplies. Take the worst-case scenario: a foreign, oil-rich regime that is currently a U.S. ally falls into the hands of a group that despises the U.S. government. What happens?
Well, if the hardliners in the new regime want to make a symbolic gesture, they might cut off oil exports to the U.S. (This is what Hugo Chavez threatened to do a few years ago, though note that he didn’t actually follow through.) Yet since oil is a very fungible commodity, all that would end up happening is a rearrangement of global oil shipments. Specifically, the new regime would ship its oil to countries other than the U.S., while other oil producers would shift their own exports away from these neutral destinations, and focus them more heavily on the United States, to make up for the gap. Oil is not perfectly fungible — refineries have to be calibrated to handle different types of crude — but our hypothetical regime wouldn’t be able to inflict too much damage just from embargoing the United States.
If the hypothetical regime really wanted to hurt U.S. motorists, it would have to renounce exports altogether. In this case, the world as a whole would be starved for oil, and crude prices would rise. Yet the pain wouldn’t be isolated in the U.S.; every oil consumer would suffer. More to the point, the most pain would be felt by the unfriendly regime itself. By refusing to sell its oil abroad, the regime would be cutting off its main source of revenue. Think of it this way: what’s the point of taking over the government apparatus in an autocratic oil-rich nation, if not to pocket the oil revenues?
These musings aren’t hypothetical. In the real world, what do the U.S. government and its allies do when they want to punish a Middle Eastern regime? Why, they try to prevent those regimes from selling their oil by imposing sanctions. This proves that, at least from a national-security standpoint, preventing Iran, say, from selling its oil inflicts more harm on the Iranians than it does on Americans.
Don’t misunderstand, I fully concede that multinational oil companies often work hand-in-glove with governments when it comes to military action in the Middle East. But my point is, the “wars over oil” are over who shall pocket the money from oil sales, notwhether it should be sold at all. And of course, the direct result of the various bombing campaigns and so forth is to reduce the world output of oil in the short run, raising prices. Whether it was hostilities with Iraq, Libya, or Iran, Western military operations caused temporary interruptions in exports and led to higher prices.
It is silly to worry about hostile regimes hoarding their oil to spite the Yankees. Yet even if this were a valid fear, the standard solutions make little sense. If indeed American oil consumption is currently being subsidized by U.S. military operations, then the solution is to stop those military operations. Let those foreign regimes cut off their supply of oil to the U.S., so that prices rise and American motorists realize they should switch to electric cars, or natural-gas-powered buses, or whatever the efficient response would be. …
The free market has futures and other derivatives markets to help anticipate supply and price volatility. All things considered, if it really makes more economic sense for Americans to begin a rapid shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles, then market forces will produce that result. If one of the “distortions” in this framework is massive U.S. military expenditures, then the most obvious solution is to cut those expenditures, rather than give the feds even more money and power to intervene in the energy sector.
If justice be not a natural principle, it is no principle at all. If it be not a natural principle, there is no such thing as justice. If it be not a natural principle, all that men have ever said or written about it, from time immemorial, has been said and written about that which had no existence. If it be not a natural principle, all the appeals for justice that have ever been heard, and all the struggles for justice that have ever been witnessed, have been appeals and struggles for a mere fantasy, a vagary of the imagination, and not for a reality.
If justice be not a natural principle, then there is no such thing as injustice; and all the crimes of which the world has been the scene, have been no crimes at all; but only simple events, like the falling of the rain, or the setting of the sun; events of which the victims had no more reason to complain than they had to complain of the running of the streams, or the growth of vegetation.
If justice be not a natural principle, governments (so-called) have no more right or reason to take cognizance of it, or to pretend or profess to take cognizance of it, than they have to take cognizance, or to pretend or profess to take cognizance, of any other nonentity; and all their professions of establishing justice, or of maintaining justice, or of rewarding justice, are simply the mere gibberish of fools, or the frauds of imposters.
But if justice be a natural principle, then it is necessarily an immutable one; and can no more be changed – by any power inferior to that which established it – than can the law of gravitation, the laws of light, the principles of mathematics, or any other natural law or principle whatever; and all attempts or assumptions, on the part of any man or body of men – whether calling themselves governments, or by any other name – to set up their own commands, wills, pleasure, or discretion, in the place of justice, as a rule of conduct for any human being, are as much an absurdity, an usurpation, and a tyranny, as would be their attempts to set up their own commands, wills, pleasure, or discretion in the place of any and all the physical, mental, and moral laws of the universe.
… Blindly obscuring the nuance of every American soldier’s experience by uncritically assigning them the status of “hero” reduces them to nothing more than a cartoon caricature of vague, praise-worthy character traits that in no way properly describes the actual feelings of many veterans towards their military service. Worse yet, such uncritical praise is one of the most dangerous strains of political thought that courses through the veins of our body politic. Nothing could be more erosive to the democratic process, or to military accountability, than a body politic which is incapable of criticizing its men and women in uniform. …
This is the crux of the issue: we often use heroism in America to obscure the fact that, in many cases, what happens to U.S. soldiers overseas is not heroic, but simply tragic. America’s tendency to uncritically label every U.S. soldier a hero unwittingly obscures the fact that many of the sacrifices in our past conflicts achieved no greater purpose, and that soldiers sometimes die in vain. They die in unnecessary conflicts, for bad reasons, towards no readily identifiable greater good. They die despite performing their duties with dedication and skill. Yet it does nobody any good when our leaders expend their valor on military missions that have a net negative impact on the safety and security of the United States, not to mention the countries they are ordered to invade and/or occupy. We should not allow warhawks to lend credibility to this state of affairs by dressing it in the language of heroism. They aren’t helping the soldiers. They’re helping themselves.
[The United States] left Vietnam after nearly two decades of conflict. And [the U.S.] left with nothing to show for it except hundreds of American servicemen who were left to rot in Viet Cong prisons. Countless thousands of American soldiers died in the jungles of Vietnam, just as thousands have died in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan. And there too, you will be able to see yet another failed foreign policy experiment reach its tragic conclusion. Just today, Taliban fighters broke into a prison complex and freed hundreds of captured enemy fighters that “took years” to lock up. Earlier this month, it was reported that the Taliban are forging secret alliances behind the U.S. government’s back. The likely result, after our departure, will be a joint Taliban-Afghan governing agreement that leaves substantial portions of the country controlled by the same Taliban [the U.S.] allegedly toppled 11 years ago. Tell me: why is it heroic for American men and women to have sacrificed in a war that has achieved virtually none of its long-term policy goals?
Any heroism that flows from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan was robbed from American soldiers by the civilian leaders who committed them to unnecessary conflicts that achieved no greater good. It was robbed from them again when, after it became apparent that Afghanistan and Iraq were boondoggles, our civilian leaders kept them in those countries with no clear mission and a “hearts and minds strategy” that [the U.S.] undermine[s] every time [it] drop[s] bombs on innocent civilians.
To the extent that true heroism endures in these conflicts, you will find that the most heroic acts by soldiers are often situations in which they are not defending our liberty, but defending themselves. The acts of valor that move us to tears are the ones in which American soldiers are acting to save their own lives from the violence that our leaders have thrown them into. That’s why it was heroic when Dakota Meyer evacuated 12 wounded American soldiers under intense enemy fire in Kunar Province, 2009. That’s why it was heroic when Salvatore Giunta saved Josh Brennan from being taken prisoner by insurgents in the Korengal Valley (though Brennan later died from his injuries).
Yet here again; Giunta’s heroism, and Brennan’s sacrifice, would later be proved to be in vain: U.S. forces later pulled out of the Korengal Valley after five years of constant firefights, ambushes, and mounting casualties. The Washington Post notes at the link above that “It was as if the five years of almost ceaseless firefights and ambushes had been a misunderstanding — a tragic, bloody misunderstanding.” So Giunta and Brennan’s sacrifices were made during a five year “misunderstanding,” during which countless soldiers lost their lives for no purpose. Is that heroic? No, it’s tragic. It’s tragic because Josh Brennan’s mother no long has a son, and Salvatore Giunta’s heroism achieved no greater purpose other than to potentially save the life of his squadmate, who later died as a result of a conflict that achieved no greater goal.
The point is this: some soldiers behave heroically, while others do not. Merely putting the uniform of the United States military on does not make you a hero. Plenty of people behave [in] extremely immoral, dishonorable ways while wearing the United States uniform, and they are not heroes. But what is more important is that we must be able to speak about the senseless tragedies that are daily inflicted upon our troops without obscuring it in the language of heroism, which is all too often linked up with the trope that they are “defending our freedom.” When 60,000 young men died in the jungles of Vietnam with nothing to show for it, it is difficult to convince me that they were sent there to defend our freedom. When the Taliban and the Afghan government are colluding with one another behind the U.S. government’s back, it is difficult to convince me that our troops are there “defending our freedom.” When U.S. troops spend five years fighting in the Korengal Valley, and they are then pulled out with nothing to show for their sacrifice, it is difficult to convince me that they were “defending our freedom.”
For far too long, the political discourse in this country has obscured the tragedies inflicted on American soldiers by calling those tragedies heroism. We rationalize the death of American soldiers in far off places by pretending that they died “protecting our freedom.” But that’s a sentiment that many U.S. soldiers don’t even share. And it is intellectually dishonest for outraged individuals to speak on their behalf when they are necessarily talking over soldiers who disagree with them.
There is plenty of heroism in the United States military. Whether we call a soldier’s sacrifice tragedy or heroism, it should still be recognized. But not in a manner that tends to obscure the real cost of military action. Placing an existential imprimatur of heroism on every person who wears a military uniform does not get us anywhere. It certainly does not “support” our troops. If anything, it is a subconscious attempt to give meaning to the sacrifices our troops are forced to make on a daily basis. That’s understandable. But if we are to have an honest discussion about our foreign policy, then we can no longer obscure the fact that not every soldier deserves to be labeled a hero, and that sometimes, their sacrifices are made in vain. When that happens, it’s not heroism. It’s tragedy. And obscuring it with a patriotic chorus of outrage every time someone has the balls to point out the distinction between them (heroism & tragedy) does more to keep soldiers unnecessarily in harm’s way than it does to actually, really, support them.
There have been many efforts over the years to develop a “third way” of managing social cooperation, a path that will take advantage of the efficiency of the market process while controlling its “excesses.” The fascist movement in Italy, National Socialism in Germany, and the New Deal in America were all examples of the search for that path.
However, all attempts to improve market outcomes run into the same problem that cripples the attempt to create a socialist society, although to a lesser extent. Outside of market prices, based on private property, there is no way to rationally calculate how valuable an undertaking’s contribution to society’s well-being is. Arbitrary numbers can be assigned to gauge the costs and benefits of, for instance, a new environmental regulation, but they are just guesses. Only real market prices convey information on the freely chosen values of acting man.
Mises pointed out that all market interventions are likely to produce results that are undesirable even from the point of view of those forwarding the intervention. That is because the market participants are not supine in the face of interference with their wishes, and will act contrary to the intent of the interventionists.
We shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or all the other banal bogies. It’s the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers; the rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widows’ weeds like nuns and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices…
[It] may be ministers and generals who blunder us into wars, but the least the rest of us can do is to resist honoring the institution.
Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.
Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.
“There is not a single writer who ever worked for Jon Stewart who will tell you that he’s a good man. Everybody who has ever written for Jon Stewart will tell you that he hates his writers, and he’s abusive, and is anti-union. But nobody has the courage to take on Satan in Christ’s clothes. I’m joking about his being Satan but he is anti-union. And the head of the Writer’s Guild out here told me that during the strike, when Jon was working as a writer, doing shows, and being his own scab, the head of the Writer’s Guild told me in his whole history he had never been talked to as abusively as he was by Jon Stewart. But nobody’s going to go after Jon Stewart. Nobody’s going to tell the truth about what a bad guy Jon Stewart is because for some reason he’s got angel’s wings. You know—he is funny, the show’s great, but he is not a supporter of unions.”—
Seeming public apathy over climate change is often attributed to a deficit in comprehension. The public knows too little science, it is claimed, to understand the evidence or avoid being misled . Widespread limits on technical reasoning aggravate the problem by forcing citizens to use unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk . We conducted a study to test this account and found no support for it. Members of the public with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity were not the most concerned about climate change. Rather, they were the ones among whom cultural polarization was greatest.
This result suggests that public divisions over climate change stem not from the public’s incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest: between the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties and the collective one they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare.
Sounds about right. Signaling, signaling, signaling. A sane analysis of projected climate changes would include potential benefits of such changes (and the potential costs of state interventionism great enough to effectively combat them) and would factor in the epistemic difficulties of prediction and the acknowledge the normative value judgements (e.g. intergenerational utility discounting), so why are economists prettymuch the only people even considering a cost-benefit analysis here? Because [of] signaling. That’s why. (and, of course, vested interests and the perverse incentive structure of state grants for research).
“My belief is that 60 year olds should never send 18 year olds to be killed … It’s never for a good cause and for every single war you can always trace it back to who is making the most money. Back to the Civil War (the North wanted its share of the Southern cotton tariffs) and even back to the Revolutionary War (the myth of ‘taxation without representation’ and now, 240 years later, I am taxed Federal, State, City, Sales, Luxury, Property, and god knows how many other places.) … The real heroes are forgotten. The real histories are made up mythologies. The ‘good’ reasons always hide the real reasons.”—James Altucher
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?”—Mohandas Gandhi
When news outlets and social media share photos of tearful mothers, fathers, wives, and children mourning their lost loved ones, my heart breaks at the senseless death and unnecessary sorrow. The state claimed a life, and then marked its claim by adorning the casket in its symbolism. And too few people earnestly ask why.
You’re told to remember “sacrifices” today. That certain people “died for your freedom.”
You’re told to “honor your country” today. That its government is an extension of the people’s will by way of the consent of the governed.
What you should remember today are the millions of lives and countless liberties lost at the whim and behest of the state.
You owe the state and its minions the same a victim owes his attacker: animosity and contempt. Freedom is free. Anyone who says otherwise is only preaching subservience and acquiescence. As I said on Veterans’ Day: “we should not be wiled by trite propaganda into supporting militarism under the guise of requisite defense of freedom.”
You should no more be grateful to the metastatic state than you should be grateful to metastatic cancer. Anything good the state ever does can always be done without the state’s monopoly on force (and, without its inherently lumbering and corrupt bureaucracy, in a more just and efficient manner). There is no such thing as a necessary evil as evil can never be a prerequisite for good.
Those blinded by uncritical “patriotism” will no doubt find these truths “disrespectful,” but to echo previous remarks from last Memorial Day: “The most respectful way to honor fallen troops is to not continue sending more troops to die in unprovoked and unnecessary wars.”
We can not properly memorialize the very real human beings who have died very real deaths - the very real losses of countless families - by celebrating needless war, promoting wanton destruction, and glorifying the very state that made those tragic losses possible. People who truly follow a desire to protect others, and are even willing to surrender their own lives for the well-being of not just their loved ones but complete strangers, certainly possess qualities that should be admired. But let’s not allow the genuinely honorable idealism that permeates many of those when they enlist - to protect their fellow man, to honor the principles of individual liberty codified in the constitution, to stamp out evil in the world - to cloud the sad reality of what those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines eventually become: tools for the political and economic whims of politicians, bureaucrats, despots, overlords, oppressors, and their cronies. The worst thing one can do for a fallen soldier is to dehumanize and transmogrify him into a symbol for the exaltation of the state.
The state is not you. Unless you’re a politician, plutocrat, or connected crony, it doesn’t serve you except whatever minimum is required to buy your quiet compliance. As I’ve said previously, “The state and its symbols are not synonymous with society. Nor are they representative of you or any other individual in particular. When your identity is intermixed with your government and your patriotism becomes sacerdotal reverence, you become a mindless minion of the state to be manipulated into agreeing to whatever loss of liberty best suits your god government.
"Be a good neighbor to your fellow man, not a doting subject to the state."
On Memorial Day, you’re supposed to “remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.” By all means, remember them - and reflect on how most of them had their lives unnecessarily and prematurely extinguished for and by the state. Grieve for their families who not only lost loved ones in a likely pointless endeavor but were fed lies as to the true reason for their loss. Ponder what little value those in power, contrary to their empty platitudes, place on the lives of even the most noble member of the military. Consider how many more youths, riled by the pomp and pageantry of such memorializations, will naively follow the same ruinous paths as those who are remembered today.
Mark this day as one to contemplate the state’s tragic acts on its own people, and how it masks its atrocities with the rhetorical drapes of “honor,” “sacrifice,” “bravery,” “heroism,” and - when ugly truths arise - “just following orders.” Let this day be one of shame for those in power who send our neighbors, friends, and family members to die for their own selfish causes, and let it be a day of shame for the fooled and compliant masses who support, obey, agitate, glorify, conspire with, and cover for the state.
And if you feel inclined to hoist a flag today, make it a black one.
I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. …
War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable*, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
please tell me what happens when the ‘market clears’.
It is when a good (or service) reaches its equilibrium price, courtesy of consensual and mutually beneficial exchange. The market is a discovery process, and prices are merely the natural result of the multitudes of independent exchanges expressing individual preferences. A market, then, is said to “clear” when the demand and supply find relative stability, and satisfaction of consumer desires is thus maximized. Prices set outside this process, such as a minimum wage determined by a central planning state, are necessarily arbitrary, since there is no standard against which they can be said to be correct or incorrect.
what happens to those who would have been willing to work at a higher wage?
You mean the entire human race? Can’t imagine too many individuals who aren’t “willing to work at a higher wage.”
are they not unemployed?
Only if they are, in fact, unemployed.
or are they just not officially unemployed, having been so discouraged at the lack of jobs that cover basic expenses that they don’t even bother looking?
For these unfortunate individuals at the margin, it is the minimum wage that makes them “officially” unemployed; so some earnings are better than no earnings (a preference that is made clear once the individual performs the action of accepting a given job). Plus, once the hurdles of interventionism are removed, competition will ensure that prices reflect the new “savings” of lowered wages, making the necessities the now gainfully employed individual would like cheaper.
and what about notions of fairness?
What’s fair about a third party using aggression to interfere in the voluntary, peaceful, and mutually beneficial exchange of others? And, to be sure, every free market exchange is mutually beneficial. Every participant values what he receives more than what he gives up, otherwise the exchange would not take place as there is no state gun to anyone’s head threatening him to act against his will.
is it not fair that a business entering into a contract with someone for that person to spend a day working for that business, to offer in exchange a wage that covers all that day’s expenses? from travel to board to sustenance to leisure?
What’s fair is for every party in an exchange to only give up what they are willing to, and nothing more.
or do we live in a society where we all see with how little we can get away with paying, or how much we can get away with when entering into any contract, any relation with other people?
Have you ever walked into a store and offered more than the asking price for any item? Have you ever opened a menu and thought, “This is an unfair price! I must pay them double!” Or do you, more often than not, understand that wealth saved at one location can be placed toward another desire elsewhere? Negotiations and haggling aren’t taking advantage because all parties are free to simply walk away if the offers are no longer beneficial. No one’s stopping you from paying more, of course. You are free to be as generous as you please. But the market-clearing price is about fairness not charity. Both parties in a given exchange are always trying to give up less than they receive in order to maximize their material or psychic profit. Meanwhile, the existence of competitors ensures that no one is unfairly overcharged or under-compensated. This is true for all exchanges, even labor. The fact that most people employed today - that is, approximately 95% of all hourly-paid workers in the U.S. - actually earn more than the minimum wage proves that employers must and do compete for labor.
if that is the society we live in, laliberty, why do you wish to reinforce it by abolishing the minimum wage? is that society not just a little worse to live in? a little less safe as people trust each other a little less? a little unhappier as some worry about having a little less?
Let’s consider the previous post on your blog. It says simply, “why do we not stand up to the bully?” and you tagged it “non-violence.”
Now how do you comport that sentiment with your above lament? How can you be against bullies and violence when you clearly advocate for a bully, the state, to use its monopoly on force to threaten violence on individuals if they don’t concede authority over their private decisions.
You speak of society, but what is society? Is it not merely individuals and their consensual interconnected relationships? Well, that’s all the free market is: individuals interacting. If we insert violence into these relationships, even for some purported greater good, we’re already off to a bad start. How can you suggest that your way, with this third party leviathan that inserts itself into the personal decisions of others (usually at the behest of “special interests”), is one that fosters more trust and happiness?
To the contrary, allowing no interference in the peaceful and voluntary interactions of people ensures every exchange is mutually beneficial, and as such we would all be wealthier and more free (which no doubt would lead to greater happiness and, when all individuals enter every exchange with the same power to walk away, greater trust).
I understand your concern. You and some others like you who support the minimum wage are disturbed by the conditions of the poor. (Though there are many - among them racists, xenophobes, and labor unions - who support a minimum wage for strictly selfish purposes). But a minimum wage does not solve these problems. It only makes those very same poor carry a disproportionately heavier burden.
I can, of course, point to no shortage of Austrian and neoclassical literature expressing my problems with minimum wage. But even some Keynesians once understood this…
Paul Samuelson expressed this succinctly:
"What good does it do a black youth to know that an employer must pay him $2.00 an hour if the fact that he must be paid that amount is what keeps him from getting a job?"
Also, James Tobin:
"I am against minimum wage legislation and have said so. It diminishes job opportunities, ceteris paribus, and it is an inefficient and haphazard tool for income maintenances or redistribution."
"People who lack the capacity to earn a decent living need to be helped, but they will not be helped by minimum wage laws, trade union wage pressures, or other devices which seek to compel employers to pay them more than their work is worth. The more likely outcome of such regulation is that the intended beneficiaries are not employed at all."
This should be uncontroversial: if you truly care about the plight of the poor, you must not support a minimum wage.
After receiving a few messages today regarding the minimum wage, I thought it worthwhile to offer a brief summary of the argument. (For a bit more detail, please see my post Repeal the Minimum Wage.)
The premise can be understood in one sentence: you set a price floor for anything, you create a surplus of supply.
When it’s a price floor on hirable labor (aka a minimum wage) - you get a surplus of hirable labor (aka unemployment).
It’s fairly basic economics: as the artificially dictated price increases above the market clearing price, the overall quantity demanded by consumers decreases (and thus supply remains unsold).
Lower-skilled workers in particular become un-hireable when their productivity in a given job is less than the wage an employer must pay. If a person can only contribute $5 an hour in productivity, any wage above $5 (plus overhead, insurance, taxes, and whatever profit that makes the employee worth hiring in the first place) would make the hire a net negative, or loss, to the employer. And no business can be competitive, much less sustainable, by carrying losses.
This glut of hirable labor as a result of a price floor in wages, in turn and counter to intentions, grants more power to the employers who now have more candidates for every job opening. Instead of these mostly entry-level candidates being able to negotiate their foot in the door, the employer may be able to use extraneous criteria that may have previously been unnecessary or immaterial (extended referrals, higher education completed, greater experience, church attendance, shared interests, ethnicity, etc.) to decide who to hire.
Employers often also increase prices of their products to compensate for their greater expenses, and thus pass off the costs to consumers (and we’re all consumers).
In the long run, the effects are further compounded as employers invest in ways to stay competitive by using machinery to automate tasks previously performed by workers. And once that investment has been made and the new efficiency has been created, it is unlikely to be reversed. Another long-term effect is that employers lose flexibility in offering non-wage benefits. To be able to afford the new wages: compromises may be made with regards to working conditions, vacation days may be decreased, or a workplace that was once more casual may make stricter and less comfortable demands in order to increase the productivity of the workers commensurate to their increase in pay.
So not only does a minimum wage price some workers out of the market altogether, it also incentivizes employers to find ways to use existing labor less and in a less favorable manner. This is what Bastiat called “that which is not seen.”
It is utter common sense: making something more expensive tends to force people to use less of it (by eliminating it altogether, finding ways to do more with less, or simply turning to alternatives, including black market options or technological substitutes). Statists seem to understand this principle with regards to things like sin taxes, gasoline taxes, or penalties for overwatering a lawn - but unfortunately they fail to make the connection when it is the price of labor that is increased.
…it was my lack of a small, cheap potholder that was holding me back.
And yes, that is a democrat pushing his republican approval. After redistricting, there are now two democrat incumbents (Howard Berman and Brad Sherman) going after the same new seat, and after 2010’s Proposition 14 that creates an open primary in which only the top two vote-getters move on to the general election (which, at the time I rightly called a “disastrous measure [that] would destroy third parties, muddle policy positions, and encourage banal, middle-of-the-road statist candidates.”), Berman is now staking the claim as the right-leaner of the two (he often promotes his support of police and defense) who are likely to move on to the general election.
I’ve had nothing but un-flattering things to say about the unspectacularly partly-line statists Berman and Sherman, who have both, at one time or another, been the rat claiming direct authority over “district” in which I’ve lived.
And you would think I’d be off Berman’s mailing list after the snark-tastic letter I sent him last year, among other correspondence, would label me as a waste of campaign funds. But I guess that would presume he’d be organized, efficient, and interested in saving money - which are three things a politician is not.
Just watched the first episode (which previewed a few days ago but officially premieres June 7) with my oldest daughter. Beck, the young insurgent who will be the main protagonist of the show, has this exchange with Tron:
TRON: “You understand this makes you an enemy of the State?”
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it.”—Frederic Bastiat
It is important to observe two points about projection:  the power of the state depends upon the scapegoat, whose presence is necessary to disguise and diffuse the conflicts, corruption, and contradictions that underlie all political systems. Economic depressions, wars, police-state brutalities, the wholesale plundering of taxpayers, and a more general cultural collapse, must be seen as the evildoing of persons outside the establishment. In this way, petroleum company greed – rather than Federal Reserve policies – can be offered as an explanation for rising gasoline prices.  The scapegoat need not be innocent of any wrongdoing. It is only essential that the substitute be seen as a wrongdoer, and that his or her role not be attributed to any established institutional interests. Soldiers who commit vicious crimes during wartime are guilty of what they have done. They can also serve as scapegoats to deflect the greater crimes of the war system itself. Thus can a Lt. Calley be convicted for his wrongs, while shielding Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, and other fomenters and conductors of their murderous deeds.
If you want a career in politics, just be certain to keep a regular supply of scapegoats at your disposal, and to learn the fine art of quickly fabricating more in case of an emergency. The article of faith of all politicians – “never let a crisis go to waste” – demands this skill!
A lot of people seem to think that if we could solve the problem of scarcity, all of a sudden economic issues would be solved. In other words, if we had infinite resources everyone would have access to as much as they wanted and everyone would be happy. But this isn’t true.
I think I can explain the point by describing my brother making breakfast in the morning. Monday through Friday I’ll wake up and go out into the kitchen and see my brother making breakfast. He always makes a basic egg and cheddar cheese omelet and after he’s finished he goes to work. However, his breakfast routine changes on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to his egg and cheddar cheese omelet, he also adds sliced vegetables and meat as well.
So exactly what’s changing his action between the weekdays and the weekend? Technically speaking, his resources are plentiful. He has access to the same ingredients Monday through Friday as he does on Saturday and Sunday but his meals are still different. The factor that’s determining his action is time. Even though he has an abundance of resources (ingredients) all seven days of the week, time is determining the amount of labor he allocates towards preparing his breakfast. On the weekdays he wants something simple and filling before work and on the weekends he wants something a little nicer with more ingredients since he doesn’t have to leave the house earlier to make it to work on time.
Sure the world would be a better place if resources were infinite but there’s still the issue of time and some people don’t seem to understand this. Maybe this helped clear things up.
Indeed. But to clarify, it’s not simply that his desires or demands shift on the weekends - he’d no doubt like those veggies and meat in his omelette on the weekdays - it’s that his preferences adjust based on the opportunity cost of adding those extra ingredients to his omelette. On the weekdays, because (again) his time is scarce, he’d either have to give up a few minutes of sleep or be a few minutes late to work. By choosing a more basic omelette on weekdays, his action reveals his preferences: he’d rather skip the extra ingredients and sleep in/get to work on time.
I’ve mentioned time as the scarcest resource before (most recently in my Money and Speech post) but Rothbard kicks off chapter 1 of Man, Economy, and State explaining how the scarcity of time leads to the development of preferences which leads to action. Time, after all, is the one resource that must be used as a means to attain all ends.
All human life must take place in time. Human reason cannot even conceive of an existence or of action that does not take place through time. At a time when a human being decides to act in order to attain an end, his goal, or end, can be finally and completely attained only at some point in the future. If the desired ends could all be attained instantaneously in the present, then man’s ends would all be attained and there would be no reason for him to act; and we have seen that action is necessary to the nature of man. Therefore, an actor chooses means from his environment, in accordance with his ideas, to arrive at an expected end, completely attainable only at some point in the future. For any given action, we can distinguish among three periods of time involved: the period before the action, the time absorbed by the action, and the period after the action has been completed. All action aims at rendering conditions at some time in the future more satisfactory for the actor than they would have been without the intervention of the action.
A man’s time is always scarce. He is not immortal; his time on earth is limited. Each day of his life has only 24 hours in which he can attain his ends. Furthermore, all actions must take place through time. Therefore time is a means that man must use to arrive at his ends. It is a means that is omnipresent in all human action.
Action takes place by choosing which ends shall be satisfied by the employment of means. Time is scarce for man only because whichever ends he chooses to satisfy, there are others that must remain unsatisfied. When we must use a means so that some ends remain unsatisfied, the necessity for a choice among ends arises.
Minnesota governor Mark Dayton just signed the midnight deal that state lawmakers struck with the owners of the Minnesota Vikings to build the team a new stadium. Players and management shook hands. Fans breathed a sigh of relief that their beloved football team would remain in the Gopher State. But some important parties were missing from the celebration: the taxpayers who are stuck with the check.
Both of us are sports fans — one a born-and-bred Vikings supporter, the other a Washington Capitals season-ticket holder who wrote his master’s thesis on the Olympics — but we recognize that most fans are hurt by such deals. That’s because they lead to increased taxes and higher prices, squeezing the average fan for the benefit of owners and sponsors. And that’s not even counting the overwhelming majority of taxpayers, regardless of fandom, who never set foot in these gladiatorial arenas.
Let’s look at this particular deal. The stadium costs $975 million on paper, with over half coming from public funds, $348 million from the state and $150 million from Minneapolis — not through parking taxes or other stadium-related user fees, but with a new city sales tax. In return, the public gets an annual $13 million fee and the right to rent out the stadium on non-game-days….
The reality of the Vikings deal is that the owners will gain the most, not taxpayers or fans. Taxpayers will bear most of the risk, while the expected increase in the franchise’s value will accrue wholly to the owners — who will also be free from facility-financing costs. The owners will also have new revenue opportunities in the form of higher ticket prices, club seats, stadium-naming rights, and advertising. With all these luxury goodies, the only fans who will be able to actually attend the games are those with luxury incomes, many of whom will surely be writing the cost off their taxes as a business expense.
“More fundamentally, each time the government expands its effective authority over economic decision-making, it sets in motion a variety of economic, institutional, and ideological adjustments whose common denominator is a diminished resistance to Bigger Government. Among the most significant of such adjustments is the Supreme Court’s consistent refusal to protect individual rights from invasion by government officials during national emergencies. Precedents established during extraordinary times tilt the constitutional balance even during ensuing normal times.”—Robert Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan
The Democrats. Obama ran a largely insurgent campaign in 2008. This meant that the people who cling to the coat tails of whomever they think will win all flocked to Clinton. The end result was that Clinton got an unmanageable operation full of egos with impressive resumes. Now all those egos are going to try to get Obama reelected. They’re a liability.
Appalachia. Obama is not doing well in West Virginia and Kentucky primaries—even where he’s largely unopposed. That’s not too much of a problem. He wasn’t expecting to win there anyway. Unfortunately, the demographics that really don’t like Obama spill into parts of Ohio and Virginia where Obama does want to win. Some of the opposition has to do with race. Some of it has to do with messaging problems. Much of it has to do with a (reasonable) sense that Obama is not-too-keen on coal-mining.
Wall Street. A lot of the investment bankers liked Obama in 2008. He was fresh. Technocratic. The kind of guy they could support. They were smart. He was smart. It was a good match. Except .. for some reason Obama isn’t going to let them loot the country like Romney would. This has made some people with a lot of money uncomfortable.
I like how Squashed rights off the entire midwest as racists who don’t understand Obama’s “message.” Did it ever occur to you that we don’t support his actual policies?
Here’s a brief list of why I wont be supporting Obama (and also why a lot of other college aged voters I’ve had contact with wont be voting for him).
Gitmo is still open.
We are still at war in the Middle East (even more so than when Obama was inaugurated).
Drone strikes are increasing.
Patriot Act reauthorization.
Escalation of War on Drugs.
Increased subsidies for “green” energy while obstructing coal, natural gas, oil exploration (hey at least one thing you said was right).
Escalation of the deportations of illegal immigrants.
The realization that he is just another politician who does not have the interests of the people in mind.
Note that none of these things have to do with a failure to message or the color of his skin. It’s because he fucking sucks as a human being and not to mention as a president.
I’d also like to point out that Romney and Obama agree on everything I’ve listed here except for maybe on energy.
Typical Obama Apologetics, putting “the blame of Obama’s failures squarely upon the shoulders of the unthinking masses, too stupid or self-centered or racist or confused to properly support the true savior.”
And to insinuate that Obama is no friend to Wall Street - who was bank-rolled by Wall Street, has repeatedly gifted Wall Street with bailouts, and whose administration is filled with Wall-Streeters - takes some serious chutzpah.
A partisan with any sort of intellectual integrity (I guess such a thing is an oxymoron) would start a list of Obama’s re-election hurdles with Obama himself, for reasons that include what Nate listed above. The peace president who loves war, the transparency candidate who’s denied more FOIA requests than anyone, the whistle-blower supporter who’s locked away Bradley Manning, the champion of minority causes who’s deported more immigrants in three years than Bush in eight, the constitutional scholar who signed the NDAA, Patriot Act, ACTA, and the death warrants of Americans “tried” without due process… Obama is the biggest hurdle to his own re-election. Luckily for him and his supporters, they’re right that the masses tend to be un-thinking - which is why I consider his re-election likely. But fret not, Obamaites: if Romney does win, nearly nothing will change. The support for leviathan’s expansion will continue on schedule.
“You have no principles, unless you are a voluntarist…. The payment of tax no more proves consent than the payment of a ransom transforms kidnapping into babysitting. …”—Conza: Libertarianism in a 300-word rant
An unhampered market [that is, a free market without interference from the state] brings about its outcome through the voluntary choices of all people in that market. Any interference with the market process—such as rent control, farm subsidies, and so on—will, to some extent, thwart the realization of people’s preferences. People, in the face of such interference, will act to reassert their desires. However, the process has been made less efficient. One reason is the overhead of the government program itself. Another is the fact that market forces will reassert themselves, though in unexpected ways. If apples would be priced at $1.00 a pound on the unhampered market, but government sets the price at 60¢ a pound, people will still tend to pay the market price. However, they will go to the market expecting to pay 60¢ for a pound, and be surprised by paying 60¢ plus 40¢ worth of time waiting in line.
Even the minimal state, which attempts to provide only protection from the violence of others, runs afoul of such difficulties. Since the minimal state must tax, it must set the level of taxes, or, looking at the other side of the coin, it must decide how much protection to provide. Whatever level of protection it chooses, some people will be unhappy with that decision. Since, in a constitutional republic, the level of protection will be set somewhere in the middle of the range of desired amounts, there will be a large group of people who feel they are getting, and paying for, too much of it.
It’s not impossible that those people will choose to just grin and bear it, but it is very unlikely. Humans act in order to improve situations they find unsatisfactory, and the people paying too much in taxes, in their own eyes, have the motivation to act.
Not paying their taxes will subject them to violence from the state. But since those taxes were imposed on them by political means, it will occur to them that they can use the same means to try to gain some compensating benefit. Perhaps they will lobby to have extra protection for their neighborhood, to have a military base located nearby, thereby increasing local trade, or to get street lights on their road, in the name of increased security.
Whatever benefit they wrestle from the state will change the situation of those who were happy with the old amount of protection. They are paying the same amount in taxes as before, but some of their previous benefits have been shifted to others. Now they have a motivation to form an interest group and lobby the state to provide them with some new benefit as compensation for their loss. That creates a dynamic that tends to produce continual growth in state programs.
Furthermore, however wise and noble the founders of the state were, state service will act as a magnet for the person who wants to exercise power over others—as Hayek said, the worst rise to the top. In order to maneuver his way into a position of power, such a person will have every reason to rub salt in some interest group’s wound. By goading “his” interest group on in its grievance, a politician can build a “constituency” that he can ride to power.
“The state is an exploiter, a murderer, a violator of human rights. The typical response of the left is to say that they want a state that only does good things, such as share and care, and not bad things, such as steal and kill, but this cannot be. We might as well wish for a lion that only purrs and cuddles or a rattlesnake that only provides percussive accompaniment to mariachi music.The very nature of the state is it exists only through and for compulsion. To imagine otherwise is to not face reality.”—Lew Rockwell
The House of Representatives defeated a proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 that would have required those detained in the United States to be tried in civilian courts. The amendment was supported by more liberal Democrats and more libertarian Republicans. The most prominent opposition to the amendment came from the rest of the Republicans.
Many of my more libertarian friends are at least as outraged as I am over current U.S. law involving detention. And it’s nice to see some principled Republicans breaking party lines on this one. But … I think we need to be clear on how the party lines are drawn.
* The Obama administration has threatened to veto the law over concerns about the detainee provisions. We can anticipate that the administration will do the same thing it’s done in the past with veto threats. Specifically, Obama will get some better-than-nothing concessions and grudgingly sign the bill. It’s fine to be disappointed if the concessions aren’t enough—but if you end up voting for Romney, you’re voting for the guy who won’t even ask for that much.
* The judge who recently declared a portion of the 2012 NDAA unconstitutional was an Obama appointee. The judge the Republicans would appoint is likely to have a much more expansive view of executive power. (Yes, even applies to a judge Ron Paul would appoint. Unless Paul takes a personal interest in the judicial philosophy of every appointee, his role in selecting judges to be appointed likely gets delegated to the hangers-on. In other words, you get a run-of-the-mill conservative jurist.)
I fall into the category of libertarians who are outraged “over current U.S. law involving detention,” and I’m on board with the vast majority of this post.
However, I have to object to the bit about Obama’s supposed concern for the NDAA provisions for indefinite detention. First, after threatening to veto the original 2012 bill, he backed down and ultimately signed it into law. I don’t know how many concessions he got, but the bill was still really crappy on this issue. But, even if there was a good reason to cut him some slack on that, have you read his statement of objections to the detention provisions in the 2013 bill? I have, and they’re not what you portray them to be here.
I’ve written on the subject of the 2013 bill at length, but here I’ll try to be a bit more brief since we’re looking at just this one aspect, and in particular Obama’s objections. Here’s the actual text of his statement (only the relevant part about detention, and I’ve added paragraph breaks for readability):
Detainee Matters: The Administration strongly objects to sections 1035-1043, which would continue and in some cases expand unwise restrictions that would constrain the flexibility that our Nation’s armed forces and counterterrorism professionals need to deal with evolving threats.
Section 1035, which would prohibit any detainee who has been repatriated to Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau from traveling to the U.S., is unnecessary and could undermine our relations with a friendly government whose citizens may serve in the U.S. military.
Sections 1036, 1037, 1038, and 1043 unnecessarily renew, supplement, or enhance the restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo detainees into the United States or a foreign country. The Administration continues to strongly oppose these provisions, which intrude upon the Executive branch’s ability to carry out its military, national security, and foreign relations activities and to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees.
Likewise, the Administration opposes the notice and reporting requirements in sections 1040, 1041, and 1042, which would unnecessarily complicate and potentially compromise military operations and detention practices – including aboard naval vessels at sea. These sections, like section 1039, would also greatly add to the military’s administrative burden.
Section 1041 is an unprecedented, unwarranted, and misguided intrusion into the military’s detention operations in a foreign combat theater during an active armed conflict. The reporting requirements seek to micromanage the decisions of experienced military commanders and diplomats, threaten to compromise the Executive’s ability to act swiftly and flexibly during a critical time for transition in Afghanistan, and could deter or jeopardize the success of effective foreign prosecutions.
Sections 1036, 1037, and 1041, moreover, would, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles. If the final bill presented to the President includes provisions that challenge critical executive branch authority, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
Now, a couple points:
1. It is actually Sections 1032 and 1033, which are not mentioned at all in the President’s list of objections (ctrl + f that for yourself), that deal with indefinite detention and habeas corpus rights. In other words, Obama has a lot of objections about the way the 2013 NDAA regulates detention, but he has nothing to say about its tricky wording on indefinite detention. Indeed, he has no stated objections to indefinite detention at all.
2. As I wrote in my first post on this subject, some of Obama’s objections make sense. For instance, I too don’t see why we need a law saying that if you were in Gitmo, and then you were released to Micronesia, you can never come to the U.S. I don’t know why you’d want to, but hey, go for it. I agree with the Administration that this “is unnecessary and could undermine our relations with a friendly government.” You know us libertarians are all about the making friends and trading with people.
3. But — and this is an important but — most of Obama’s objections are not so reasonable. They’re primarily concerned with impediments in the form of restrictions and paperwork on his flexibility to try, transport, and otherwise treat detainees how he sees fit. For example, he objects to Sections 1040 to 1042, which require stuff like telling the Senate Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee on Armed Services if detainees are captured or transferred under various circumstances. The White House states that this “would unnecessarily complicate and potentially compromise military operations and detention practices.”
As I wrote before, I’m all for simplicity in government five times as much as the next guy, but given the history of abuse of detainees’ rights and persons, this additional transparency might not be the worst thing. Of course, I have no illusions that these congressional committees will use these reports to become champions of individual rights.
That said, it primarily strikes me as ridiculous that anyone in this (or, for that matter, the previous) Administration could complain about a lack of flexibility in dealing with detainees. How much more leeway to arrest (often by mistake), hold without charge or trial, and even torture people could anyone need?
So, of Obama’s objections you wrote that the Administration ”has threatened to veto the law over concerns about the detainee provisions,” and that the threat will result in some lame concessions and a signature, but Romney would be worse. I agree that Romney (for whom I will not be voting) has evidenced no concern for the rights of detainees and evinced no willingness to consider that the U.S. military may be mistaken in its capture and treatment of terror suspects. Romney’s (and most of the GOP’s) foreign policy is terrible, end of story. But it is inaccurate to suggest that Obama’s veto threats are out of concern for anything but his own policy flexibility, as indeed his own statement makes extremely clear.
13. Warning: A walk in the grass could turn you vegan. Scott Commins at the University of Virginia has shown that tick bites can cause the immune system to produce antibodies to alpha-gal, a carbohydrate in beef, pork, and lamb. These antibodies can induce allergic reactions to meat. “We’ve had people nearly die,” Commins says.
If one prison guard beats you twenty times a day while the other guards beat you fifty times a day, then you’ll certainly prefer the first guard to the others – but should you be grateful to him? Or should you jump at the chance to switch to a guard who beats you only ten times a day? All the examples of things for which [Eduardo] Saverin [(Facebook co-founder who wishes to renounce his citizenship to escape excessive theft aka taxation]) “owes” the u.s. are respects in which u.s. laws are less oppressive than the laws of many other countries. Being less oppressed is like being beaten less often.
Gratitude is an appropriate response to receiving a favour or a privilege. Freedom is a right, not a privilege; demanding that people be “grateful” for not having their freedom violated so much is morally obscene. In any case, the freedom that Saverin enjoyed in this country was the result not of the government (which would happily expand to totalitarian dimensions if it could) or of the ruling class (ditto), but of many generations of citizens working to restrain both. So asking Saverin to feel grateful to the government, and surrender his money to it, is like asking a patient to be grateful to a virus because, thanks to inoculations, he doesn’t suffer too badly from it.
The very fact that sitting U.S. senators issue such a proposal – the sick reality that representatives of an allegedly free people act as if individuals are serfs bound to a master – the noxious yet proudly paraded assumption by American government officials that a peaceful man’s or woman’s freedom of movement can properly be restricted by a government jealous that it misses the opportunity to seize a huge chunk of that man’s or woman’s earnings – does nothing other than to confirm the wisdom and justice of Mr. Saverin’s decision.
LRC’s David Kramer draws non-hyperbolic parallels with Nazi Germany, noting that the Third Reich also forbade ex-pats from returning and that the U.S. tax is actually “much worse than the Nazi’s.” And all this is in addition to the fact that unlike most countries, the U.S. taxes its citizens on worldwide income even if said citizen is not residing in the U.S., and that there is already an Expatriation Tax on the books.
I’ve mentioned before: Chuck Schumer represents the worst of the statist impulses that can be found in the criminal snake pit that is D.C. He’s never had an experience that didn’t somehow lead him to conclude that more government was needed somewhere. He’s built a career on catering to myriad special interests, so long as those interests fall in line with his ultimate interest: more power - and more revenue - to the state.
On Wednesday, a federal judged blocked Section 1021, (AKA the indefinite detainment provision) of the the highly controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest agreed with journalist Chris Hedges, writer Noam Chomsky, Mr. Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg, and several other plaintiffs who argued in January that the NDAA might just have a chilling effect on free expression. Forrest also agreed that it violated the Fifth Amendment right to due process and that the thing just didn’t “pass Constitutional muster.” …
Meanwhile, scrappy young Congressman and advocate for actually reading bills before he votes on them, Justin Amash, is preparing to speak on the House floor about his (and Democrat Adam Smith’s) amendment to the NDAA. The amendment, which would explicitly say that the NDAA cannot apply to accused domestic terrorists, could potentially come up for a vote as early as Friday. Rep. Ron Paul is a fan, but the number of supporters are seemingly fairly small.
oh wait, I cannot see this because I have the invisible hand.
What is it? Child labor? The practice that has been going on for millennia that capitalism only recently made society wealthy enough to live without?
So, according to you, a capitalist, child labour is human nature? LOL
Human nature is survival. Do you think that child labor was invented by capitalists? Do you really think that prior to the 1800’s, children just played all day, until those factory owners forced them to come to work?
The fact is that in non-industrialized societies, child labor is not a choice, it’s the means of survival. The child provides income for the family or someone starves. Whether that means selling newspapers or tending the animals or being a prostitute, children have always worked because that’s what you have to do to survive. Capitalism has made adult labor so valuable that it’s possible to feed a family on only the parent’s income(s), so child labor is no longer necessary.
In poorer countries, children are always the first ones who stop working when a family saves up enough capital to subsist without their offspring’s efforts. This means that, if you see a child working, it is almost guaranteed that his or her parents work full-time, too. It’s why you see families in countries like Colombia — whose capital accumulations have been unstabilized by drug cartels fueled by drug prohibition — putting their children back into the workforce. When these poor governments begin strictly enforcing laws against child labor, it does nothing but remove these children from safer environments in factories in the service industry and force them into 24-hour outdoor agriculture sectors (and, for young girls, prostitution).
I’ve linked to Clark Nardinelli’s “Child Labor and the Factory Acts” many times before. It’s a fantastic paper for individuals who are interested in looking into the subject of child labor. Children and their parents back then we’re begging for the chance to work in these factories you deem unsatisfactory. Leftists typically imagine that the alternative option to these children working at factories is sitting home with a television, a warm meal, and a loving mother. The real alternative is isolation in an empty house, no food on the table, and no opportunity to gain job skills for the future.
From what I see, the government is the only one specifically sanctioning child labor, as Jeffrey Tucker explains: “…there is one final exemption [in] federal law [which] allows states to allow kids to work for a state or local government at any age, and there are no hourly restrictions.” And what’s worse than forcing children into public schools through compulsory attendance laws with their bullying epidemics and brain-dead teachers?
Child labor disappears as the free market grows. This is just another case of the government taking credit for a trend that was occurring without its intervention.
I was planning to reblog one of freebroccoli’s child labor posts, but Brian beat me to it…
“One inmate currently at Guantanamo was waterboarded 83 times. Was that because the torturer felt that the victim wasn’t forthcoming after 82 times? How many times would he waterboard a person who turned out to be totally innocent — 183 times? 283 times? When would he stop? Would he stop?”—Jacob Hornberger, “Torture and the Innocent”
I saw Chartier speak in LA last summer. I like him. I like a lot of what he says. I thought Chartier’s “Conscience of an Anarchist” was pretty good. But that was an earlier Chartier and this book is not just Chartier; it’s a collection of essays by many of the bigger names in mutualism, agorism, and “left-libertarianism.” Think of it as C4SS in print. (You can always tell when the adjective free becomes the adverb freed.)
And while “Markets not Capitalism” is couched in the language of, as Dustin suggests, “anarchy without hyphens,” it looks to achieve this by playing with [fairly] agreeable rhetoric so as to push “left-libertarianism” generally and mutualism specifically.
So the press to unify anti-statists by dropping hyphens only works, then, if said anti-statists adopt mutualist ideas of rejecting wage labor in toto, rejecting all hierarchy (even voluntary hierarchy), rejecting subjective theory of value (favoring Labor Theory of Value), and rejecting Lockean/Austrian understandings of property rights - among other things. Which is fine. Every book pushes its own point of view. Just don’t think that this book is about universal principles or that it’s about understanding the differences between anti-statists and cultivating the common ground.
The authors are smart people, to be sure. And there are certainly a number of insights to be gained in understanding their arguments (which are often extremely thoughtful). Just don’t be confused about what it is.
See here (and here) for more of my thoughts on mutualism.
I think it’s more than a bit of a stretch to say that a book including essays from Murray Rothbard, Karl Hess, Roy Childs, Roderick Long, Brad Spangler, Sheldon Richman, and Mary Ruwart —- six Rothbardians* plus Rothbard himself —- promotes “specifically mutualism.”
There is nothing in the freed market anti-capitalism position that indicates specifically mutualism (as you acknowledge in the previous ask box question that you link to.) In fact (as I indicate there), it seems that the majority of those at the C4SS (and I’d agree that the book is roughly “C4SS in print”) are themselves left-Rothbardian agorists. Rather, left-Rothbardians, mutualists, and left-agorists are all included within that broad tent. And the general superstructure of that kind of an anarchism would allow for smaller social anarchist communities within such a stateless society (hence the anarchism without hyphens).
Also, I have to disagree with your claim that: “So the press to unify anti-statists by dropping hyphens only works, then, if said anti-statists adopt mutualist ideas of rejecting wage labor in toto, rejecting all hierarchy (even voluntary hierarchy), rejecting subjective theory of value (favoring Labor Theory of Value), and rejecting Lockean/Austrian understandings of property rights - among other things.”
As stated earlier, there are several decidedly non-mutualist authors in the book. Not only that, rejection of wage labor isn’t a specifically mutualist idea (after all, both SEK3 and David Friedman reject wage labor as well), and it seems like you’ve over-simplified the actual account given of wage labor by most contemporary freed market anti-capitalists (including that given by contemporary mutualists). It’s certainly not clear (to say the least) that the book represents a rejection of “all hierarchy” (in the way that you seem to mean it), but rather a rejection of all unjust and oppressive forms of hierarchy. Long, Spangler, and Richman are all Austrians (and thus favor a subjective theory of value). Similarly, they favor the contemporary neo-Lockean account of land property rights (in fact, Long’s piece on public property is specifically framed from that perspective). The sole Rothbard piece, also, works specifically under the framework of neo-Lockean property rights.
Point being, you’re correct to note a strong presence of mutualism (especially with the nineteenth-century pieces) in the book, but to imply that the book itself is exclusively mutualist is inaccurate.
*Hess is a little complicated, but at the time the writing from him was written, he was solidly left-Rothbardian.
Throw a few banana slices in a bowl of cereal and it’d still be a bowl of cereal.
Long, Spangler, Richman and the others you list are all (save for Rothbard himself) considered “left-libertarian,” yes? (Long even counts himself as a mutualist.) When I emphasize mutualism it is precisely in the way it deviates with traditional libertarian thought (in those ways that I list) that makes it what is “specifically” pushed, even if most are agorists. The reason I note mutualists in this way and not agorists is that while all agorists promote the same strategy (e.g. non-cooperation with the state, including not voting and actively seeking grey and black market options), there is a philosophical split between those who may be considered austrian agorists on one side and mutualist agorists on the other. The mutualist side is what is featured in this book because although, as you mention, there are authors who fall on the austrian side, their selected essays are not about those opinions. While Richamn, as one example, may adhere to subjective property rights, he also believes wage labor would become non-existent in a “freed” market. And in this book, if I remember correctly, he never wrote on any topic in a way that would be counter to mutualist thought.
You’re right. This is not specifically a book about mutualism. And I decidedly did not “imply that the book itself is exclusively mutualist.” The crucial point is that when this book reaches an area of disagreement, it falls (I think exclusively, though I don’t remember every single essay) on the side of mutualism.