From the latest issue of The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. This seems to be a particularly strong issue from mostly relative unknowns. Here’s the abstract to the above linked piece, by Lucas Engelhardt (which works as a follow-up to this piece from a 2008 QJAE issue):
Austrian business cycle theory has been criticized on the basis of “rational expectations.” That is, reasonably high quality entrepreneurs—which are required for economic growth—should be able to foresee the business cycle and thereby avoid making malinvestments. … [T]his argument ignores the fact that entrepreneurs are heterogeneous in quality. American housing data from the past 25 years suggests that entrepreneurs are more likely to make errors when interest rates are unusually low. This suggests that during the boom either entrepreneurs become foolish—or, as suggested by Evans and Baxendale (2008), fools become entrepreneurs.
“Taking somebody’s money without permission is stealing, unless you work for the IRS; then it’s taxation. Killing people en masse is homicidal mania, unless you work for the Army; then it’s National Defence. Spying on your neighbours is invasion of privacy, unless you work for the FBI; then it’s National Security. Running a whorehouse makes you a pimp and poisoning people makes you a murderer, unless you work for the CIA; then it’s counter-intelligence.”—Robert Anton Wilson
[I]f private individuals were to own all the lands and resources, then it would be to the owners’ interest to maximize the present value of each resource. Excessive depletion of the resource would lower its capital value on the market. Against the preservation of the capital value of the resource as a whole, the resource owner balances the income to be presently obtained from its use. The balance is decided, ceteris paribus, by the time preference and the other preferences of the market. If private individuals can only use but not own the land, the balance is destroyed, and the government has provided an impetus to excessive present use.
Not only is the announced aim of conservation laws—to aid the future at the expense of the present—illegitimate, and the arguments in favor of it invalid, but compulsory conservation would not achieve even this goal. For the future is already provided for through present saving and investment. Conservation laws will indeed coerce greater investment in natural resources: using other resources to maintain renewable resources and forcing a greater inventory of stock in depletable resources. But total investment is determined by the time preferences of individuals, and these will not have changed. Conservation laws, then, do not really increase total provisions for the future; they merely shift investment from capital goods, buildings, etc., to natural resources. They thereby impose an inefficient and distorted investment pattern on the economy.
Congressmen in both parties want you to pay more taxes on your online purchases, and once again, big business is lobbying for bigger government, which would hurt Mom and Pop.
Online sales taxes have been a battlefield for lobbying titans for years, pitting Walmart and the rest of the brick-and-mortar retail lobby against Amazon and other online retailers. But now Amazon has changed its business model and also its lobbying position, joining the rest of the retail giants in calling on Congress to aid states in collecting sales tax from online sales. …
The bipartisan lobbying effort has yielded fruit this year in the “Marketplace Fairness Act.” Under this bill, if you buy something online, you pay a sales tax. Retailers, meanwhile, will have to collect sales taxes for every state where they have customers, even if the retailer has no physical presence there.
This is often how tax legislation gets passed: powerful interests hire revolving-door lobbyists to push for taxes on their clients’ competitors. For over a decade, such online sales-tax bills have faltered in Congress, largely because they had a powerful opponent in Amazon.
But this year, Amazon switched teams, joining Walmart on the pro-tax side — not out of some newfound concern for “marketplace fairness,” but because Amazon’s business model is changing in such a way that now Amazon stands to benefit from this tax.
In order to provide faster shipping, Amazon is building warehouses throughout the country. These warehouses constitute a “physical presence,” which requires them to collect sales taxes, in any event. So, if Amazon is going to have to collect sales taxes under the existing “physical presence” doctrine, it may as well try to expand online sales taxes to whack its smaller competitors who don’t have a 50-state network of giant warehouses.
The National Defense Authorization Act for 2008 established the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The SIGAR recently released [his] report on the state of ongoing U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The report is less than optimistic about U.S. efforts to create a stable, functioning political infrastructure before U.S. troops are scheduled to leave:
As this report to Congress illustrates, a decade of struggle and bloodshed—and more than $89 billion of U.S. appropriations for Afghan reconstruction—has not cleared the landscape of serious problems…
• A significant portion of the U.S. government’s $400 million investment in large-scale infrastructure projects in fiscal year 2011 may be wasted, due to weaknesses in planning, coordination, and execution, raising sustainability concerns and risking adverse counter-insurgency effects.
• Security costs at reconstruction sites are likely to increase as a result of the mandated transition from private security companies to the state-owned Afghan Public Protection Force.
• USAID contracts to promote district-level stabilization in eastern Afghanistan are making slow progress, have high operating costs, and lack a country-wide exit strategy.
This one in particular is eye-brow raising:
• The U.S. Army accepted contract construction that is so poor it prevents some multimillion-dollar border police bases from being used as intended. One base is unoccupied because it has no viable water supply. Other deficiencies included leaking fuel lines, unconnected drain pipes, poorly built guard towers, and improperly installed heating and ventilation systems.
Jeffrey Tucker dismantles the statist distortion lie - promoted by the likes of the New York Times, ThinkProgress, and anywhere else that leftists (mostly) peddle their narratives - that government is shrinking.
“Most conservationist arguments evince almost no familiarity with economics. Many assume that entrepreneurs have no foresight and would blithely use natural resources only to find themselves some day suddenly without any property. Only the wise, providential State can foresee depletion. The absurdity of this argument is evident when we realize that the present value of the entrepreneur’s land is dependent on the expected future rents from his resources. Even if the entrepreneur himself should be unaccountably ignorant, the market will not be, and its valuation (i.e., the valuation of interested experts with money at stake) will tend to reflect its value accurately. In fact, it is the entrepreneur’s business to forecast, and he is rewarded for correct forecasting by profits. Will entrepreneurs on the market have less foresight than bureaucrats comfortably ensconced in their seizure of the taxpayers’ money?”—Murray Rothbard, Power & Market
Excerpt from Ron Paul’s Speech Before the United States House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy, Hearing on Sound Money: Parallel Currencies and the Roadmap to Monetary Freedom, August 2, 2012 (emphasis added):
The importance of sound money is summed up nicely by Ludwig von Mises: “It is impossible to grasp the meaning of the idea of sound money if one does not realize that it was devised as an instrument for the protection of civil liberties against despotic inroads on the part of governments.” It is no wonder that governments fight tooth and nail against sound money, as sound money protects the well-being of the middle class and the poor while preventing the expansion of government.
Governments throughout history have sought to monopolize the issuance of money, either directly or through the creation of central banks. The growth of central banking in the 20th century allowed governments to monetize their debt in an indirect manner while still ensuring a ready market for government debt. And central banks’ slow but sure debasement of the currency allowed governments to repay their debts in devalued money. What debtor would not want such a sweetheart deal?
Indeed, the 20th century witnessed a revolt by governments against the strictures of sound money. In some countries such as Weimar Germany the revolution came quickly and the results were both immediately apparent and instantaneously disastrous. In other countries such as the United States, the revolt came more gradually, with the destructive effects of money printing only recently becoming apparent to more and more Americans.
Over the past 100 years, the Federal Reserve has continually pumped new money into the economy, resulting in a 96 percent devaluation of the dollar. This devaluation does not affect everyone equally, as the banks who receive this new money first benefit from using it before prices rise, while average Americans suffer the price rises first and receive only a trickle of money well afterward. In this way the Fed enriches Wall Street while impoverishing Main Street, leading to a growing disparity of wealth.
The wealthy are always able to protect the value of their assets against inflation to an extent that the middle class and poor cannot. Anyone with enough money and resources can set up a foreign bank account denominated in euros or Hong Kong dollars, or purchase gold and silver that will be safely stored in London or Singapore. The rich are best able to purchase precious metals, the only ones able to invest in high-yielding hedge funds, and the ones most able to shelter their assets from punitive taxation.
All the legislation and regulation that ostensibly protects the average American from losing money in fact does exactly the opposite. It keeps the average American from being able to defend against inflation by investing in precious metals, forces him into mediocre investment opportunities that do not even keep up with inflation, and leaves him at the mercy of the taxman. Compared to their counterparts in other countries, the average American has far fewer financial options available to them.
Mexican workers can set up accounts that are denominated in ounces of silver, and can take delivery of that silver whenever they want, tax-free. In Singapore and some other Asian countries, individuals can set up bank accounts denominated in gold and silver. Debit cards can be linked to gold and silver accounts so that customers can use their gold and silver to make point of sale transactions, a service which is only available to non-Americans. In short, Americans have far fewer options to protect their wealth than citizens of many foreign countries do.
The solution to this problem is to legalize monetary freedom and allow the circulation of parallel and competing currencies. There is no reason why Americans should not be able to transact, save, and invest in the currency of their choosing. Unfortunately, decades of government restrictions and regulations have hampered and prevented the circulation of parallel currencies and destroyed the familiarity of Americans with any sort of money aside from Federal Reserve Notes or bank deposits denominated in U.S. dollars. The thought of introducing parallel currencies undoubtedly scares many people who understandably wish to minimize their financial risk.
All financial activity is fraught with risk. Most people understand the risks inherent in stock or bond investment, but the risk of holding savings accounts or cash is still drastically under-appreciated. Everyone is familiar with the maxim “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” and investors and savers are constantly urged to diversify their portfolios, yet the U.S. government continues to set roadblocks that force Americans to transact and save in dollars that continue to depreciate.
According to the government’s official figures, price inflation runs around two percent per year which means that, since interest rates on savings accounts are near zero, the real rate of return on savings accounts is negative. Anyone holding a savings account or cash is losing nearly two percent of the value of his savings per year with this relatively mild inflation. Some private economists estimate that actual price inflation is running closer to nine percent per year, which would make the loss from holding dollars enormous.
Even greater danger comes during bouts of hyperinflation, such as during Weimar Germany and more recently in Zimbabwe. But when Zimbabwe’s dollar became worthless, people began to use U.S. dollars, South African rand, and Zambian kwacha to conduct transactions. Similarly in Weimar Germany, many individuals resorted to using dollars, pounds, and precious metals. So despite the economic hardship wrought by hyperinflation, not all economic activity ground to a halt, largely due to the circulation of parallel currencies. Should the United States ever face a hyperinflationary crisis, which due to the Fed’s quantitative easing is very possible, the only means of survival would be through the use of parallel currencies.
It is horribly unjust to force the American people to do business with a dollar that is continuously debased by the Federal Reserve. Forcing a monopoly currency with legal tender status onto the people benefits the issuer (government) while harming consumers, investors, and savers. The American people should be free to use the currency of their choice, whether gold, silver, or other currencies, with no legal restrictions or punitive taxation standing in the way. …
“Compulsory unemployment is achieved indirectly through minimum wage laws. On the free market, everyone’s wage tends to be set at his discounted marginal value productivity. A minimum wage law means that those whose DMVP is below the legal minimum are prevented from working. The worker was willing to take the job, and the employer to hire him. But the decree of the State prevents this hiring from taking place. Compulsory unemployment thus removes the competition of marginal workers and raises the wage rates of the other workers remaining. Thus, while the announced aim of a minimum wage law is to improve the incomes of the marginal workers, the actual effect is precisely the reverse—it is to render them unemployable at legal wage rates. The higher the minimum wage rate relative to free-market rates, the greater the resulting unemployment.”—Murray Rothbard, Power & Market
Here’s the wonderful Percy Greaves, from a series of lectures delivered in Argentina in the summer of 1969, properly understanding the interconnectedness of free people (emphasis added).
The essence of freedom is that people be free, not only to select their actions, but also to deviate from traditional ways of thinking and acting, so that they may plan for themselves rather than have an established authority plan for them and prevent them from planning in their own way.
We all gain from the planning and the freedom of others. Many of us are using things that we ourselves could not invent or produce. I flew down here in a jet airplane. I have no way of knowing how to make a jet, and yet I benefit from the freedom of the people who made it. We all benefit from the freedom of the people who made the earphones that most of you have on today. We all benefit from the freedom others have enjoyed. Many inventors in days past had their difficulties. We benefit from Mr. Gutenberg’s freedom, which produced the invaluable printing press, so misused by national treasuries today.
So freedom is important to us not only for our own use, but also for our use of the products of the freedom of others who can improve our situation. …
My great teacher, Mises, asks, “What is the automobile of 1969?” He answers his own question: “It is just the automobile of 1909 with thousands upon thousands of minor improvements.” Everyone who suggested an improvement did it with the hope that he would make a profit. Many made suggestions that fell by the wayside. But it was the freedom of those men to work on improving the automobile that has given us the automobile that we have today. No one man invented it, neither did one man produce it.
It takes a roomful of plans or specifications to make a jet airplane. It takes men of many different talents. As one of the speakers brought here before you many years ago, Leonard Read, has said, no one man can make even such a simple thing as a pencil. There is not a man alive who can take it all the way from the original raw materials to the finished pencil with its eraser. There isn’t a man alive who could make a jet plane. It takes the cooperation of hundreds, possibly thousands. We who want to use the jet need freedom for them, so that we may use our freedom to use the production of their minds, while they are striving to help themselves by helping us.
For the past few years the Federal Reserve has received criticism from all sides of the political spectrum, and rightly so, for its unprecedented intervention into the economy and its bailouts of large Wall Street banks and foreign central banks. Yet this criticism risks losing sight of the most insidious result of the Fed’s actions, which is to enable the growth of government.
For nearly the first 40 years of its existence, the Fed operated as an adjunct of the Treasury Department, tasked with purchasing government debt in order to keep the government’s borrowing costs low. Even after gaining its vaunted “independence” from Treasury in 1951, the Fed never shrank from enabling the growth of government. The extraordinary monetary policy of the last four years has reaffirmed that the Fed, its protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, is only too willing to enable growing government spending and massive fiscal deficits.
For centuries, banks have received special privileges from government in exchange for funding the government’s wars. The creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913 formalized and centralized this arrangement in the United States. From the very beginning, the Fed was intended to provide a more liquid market for federal government debt, enabling the growth of big government.
What we’ve seen over the last century is nothing less than the remaking of American government, thanks in large part to the Fed. Its loose monetary policy gave rise to: (i) the welfare state, encouraging dependency on government largesse and destroying the work ethic and family life of lower-income Americans; (ii) the warfare state, allowing the U.S. government to involve itself in wars of aggression around the world; and (iii) the regulatory state, the mammoth bureaucracy that relentlessly grinds away at the rights of the American people.
Little more than a decade ago, Fed economists were wringing their hands over the prospect that the federal government might pay off the national debt. Nothing could be worse for the Fed, because the Fed’s monetary policy operations require the existence of government debt. Treasury debt is purchased from or sold to banks on the open market in order to influence interest rates. Without government debt, the Fed would have no idea how to conduct monetary policy. From a free market perspective this would be wonderful, as it is Fed monetary policy which largely creates the booms and busts of the business cycle. Unfortunately, the federal government has run up the national debt to unprecedented levels over the past decade, and the Federal Reserve has been right there, monetizing that debt to ensure that none of it goes unsold.
While the desire of foreign countries and private investors to purchase Treasuries was drying up, the Federal Reserve was only too willing to step in and enable the government to continue its deficit spending. The Fed’s balance sheet exploded as it purchased over one trillion dollars in Treasury debt over the past few years. And before it did that, the Fed also purchased over a trillion dollars of overrated mortgage-backed securities from Wall Street banks, giving those banks the cash they needed to purchase Treasury debt of their own. Were it not for the Federal Reserve’s actions, the federal government would not have been able to run trillion-dollar deficits for the past several years.
In fact, had the Federal Reserve never been created, the federal government never would have been able to run up a $16 trillion debt. No market actor would lend money to such a major debtor at such low interest rates. The only reason that banks are willing to buy Treasury debt at such low interest rates is because they can easily resell that debt to the Fed.
Without the Fed, interest rates would rise to such levels that the federal government would have no choice but to curtail its expenditures and focus only on doing what is truly necessary. With market discipline allowed to prevail, the size of the federal government would be drastically smaller. If Congress were really serious about limiting the size of government, it would eliminate the most important enabler of government profligacy by ending the Fed.
"Since outright grants of monopoly or quasi monopoly would usually be considered baldly injurious to the public, governments have discovered a variety of methods of granting such privileges indirectly, as well as a variety of arguments to justify these measures. But they all have the effects common to monopoly or quasi-monopoly grants and monopoly prices when these are obtained.
"The important types of monopolistic grants (monopoly and quasi monopoly) are as follows: (1) governmentally enforced cartels which every firm in an industry is compelled to join; (2) virtual cartels imposed by the government, such as the production quotas enforced by American agricultural policy; (3) licenses, which require meeting government rules before a man or a firm is permitted to enter a certain line of production, and which also require the payment of a fee—a payment that serves as a penalty tax on smaller firms with less capital, which are thereby debarred from competing with larger firms; (4) “quality” standards, which prohibit competition by what the government (not the consumers) defines as “lower-quality” products; (5) tariffs and other measures that levy a penalty tax on competitors outside a given geographical region; (6) immigration restrictions, which prohibit the competition of laborers, as well as entrepreneurs, who would otherwise move from another geographical region of the world market; (7) child labor laws, which prohibit the labor competition of workers below a certain age; (8) minimum wage laws, which, by causing the unemployment of the least value-productive workers, remove their competition from the labor markets; (9) maximum hour laws, which force partial unemployment on those workers who are willing to work longer hours; (10) compulsory unionism, such as the Wagner-Taft-Hartley Act imposes, causing unemployment among the workers with the least seniority or the least political influence in their union; (11) conscription, which forces many young men out of the labor force; (12) any sort of governmental penalty on any form of industrial or market organization, such as antitrust laws, special chain store taxes, corporate income taxes, laws closing businesses at specific hours or outlawing pushcart peddlers or door-to-door salesmen; (13) conservation laws, which restrict production by force; (14) patents, where independent later discoverers of a process are debarred from entering a field production.”
Under the terms of [the Malicious Communications Act 1988], it is an offence to send messages to another person which are “indecent or grossly offensive”, threatening or false.
Any indecent or grossly offensive message could be considered an offence if it causes distress or anxiety to the recipient, or “any other person to whom he intends that it or its contents or nature should be communicated”.
UK Tumblrs, beware.
Follow-up: It looks like this guy also threatened violence, which changes things a bit. This information was not available or noted in any of the pieces I read when I posted this story. Still, no new law is necessary for this. A legitimate threat of aggression is a threat no matter the medium. The Malicious Communications Act merely expands the scope of laws against speech. Charging this person with “malicious communication” is unnecessary as there are already laws against threatening with violence. If he legitimately threatened violence and it was reasonable to believe he would follow through, then it doesn’t matter if he did so with his voice on a street corner, with a written message tied to a brick, or on the internet. So the two related questions we must ask are: (1) if people were genuinely threatened and fearful for their safety, why is he only being charged with the lesser offense of “malicious communication”? (2) if people did not think he was a credible threat, why was he arrested at all?
While attending the Agora Financial Symposium in Vancouver, I became aware that Americans enjoy some rights that Canadians do not: among them, the limited ability to carry weapons. Even private security guards seem unable to be armed in Canada. This does not make me feel safer. Quite the reverse.
Private people who carry guns make me feel safer.
So I would like to make a plea to my fellow citizens: please buy, carry, and even stockpile weapons. Carry them with you always. Keep them in your homes and cars. It’s especially important to do this in public places, where freak murderers like that guy in Aurora, Colorado, lurk. The weapons should be loaded and dangerous, capable of killing with one shot.
I especially desire this because I don’t want to buy or own a gun. Truth be told, I hate them. I don’t want them in my home. I don’t want to go shooting at the range. I don’t like looking at them, shopping for them, cleaning them, or even thinking about what they do to others. I loathe violence of all sorts, and hope to never have to use it. I’m a pacifist in spirit.
The only way I can really hope to get away with indulging my wimpy temperament here is if others are willing to pick up the slack that my unarmed self has created. I want burglars, kidnappers, and thieves of all sorts to believe that every home in my neighborhood is heavily armed and populated by fearless gun owners.
I want every robber around every corner to hold the expectation that anyone he mugs is carrying a deadly weapon. I would like to sit in theaters, airplanes, and restaurants where the trolls and scum among us believe that they could pay the ultimate price for misbehavior. …
The only real means to prevent the emergence of a world safe for criminals and government is to see the proliferation of guns among everyone else.
“[When government issues grants of monopoly:] even where no monopolist or quasi monopolist can achieve a monopoly price, the consumers are still injured because they are barred from buying from the most efficient and value-productive producers. Production is thereby restricted, and the decrease in output (particularly of the most efficiently produced output) raises the price to consumers. If the monopolist or quasi monopolist also achieves a monopoly price, the injury to consumers and the misallocation of production will be redoubled.”—Murray Rothbard, Power & Market
In addition to anarchist literature, the warrants also authorize agents to seize flags, flag-making material, cell phones, hard drives, address books, and black clothing.
The listing of black clothing and flags, along with comments made by police, indicates that the FBI may ostensibly be investigating “black bloc” tactics used during May Day protests in Seattle, which destroyed corporate property.
If that is true, how are books and literature evidence of criminal activity?
The protracted and pointless tormenting of [Scientist Nancy Black] illustrates the thesis of Harvey Silverglate’s invaluable 2009 book, “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.” Silverglate, a civil liberties lawyer in Boston, chillingly demonstrates how the mad proliferation of federal criminal laws — which often are too vague to give fair notice of what behavior is proscribed or prescribed — means that “our normal daily activities expose us to potential prosecution at the whim of a government official.” Such laws, which enable government zealots to accuse almost anyone of committing three felonies in a day, do not just enable government misconduct, they incite prosecutors to intimidate decent people who never had culpable intentions. And to inflict punishments without crimes.
By showing that Kafka was a realist, Black’s misfortune may improve the nation: The more Americans learn about their government’s abuse of criminal law for capricious bullying, the more likely they are to recoil in a libertarian direction and put Leviathan on a short leash.
George Will, discussing the on-going litigation involving Nancy Black, a marine biologist who became the target of a federal investigation after somebody on her boat whistled at a whale.
An investigation ensued to determine whether the whistling constituted “harassment of a marine mammal,” an environmental crime. The NOAA found that no harassment took place after viewing a video of the incident, but the investigation continued after the feds believed that the tape was doctored in violation of the 1863 False Claims Act. Black has spent over $100,000 in legal fees defending herself, and has become isolated from at least one close friend after her scientific colleagues were told by the government to inform investigators if Black tried to speak with any of them.
A promising scientific career has been destroyed because somebody whistled. Prosecutorial indiscretion at its worst. (via letterstomycountry)
“The theory of monopoly price is illusory when applied to the free market, but it applies fully to the case of monopoly and quasi-monopoly grants. For here we have an identifiable distinction—not the spurious distinction between “competitive” and “monopoly” or “monopolistic” price—but one between the free-market price and the monopoly price. For the free-market price is conceptually identifiable and definable, whereas the “competitive price” is not. The monopolist, as a receiver of a monopoly privilege, will be able to achieve a monopoly price for the product if his demand curve is inelastic, or sufficiently less elastic, above the free-market price. On the free market, every demand curve to a firm is elastic above the free-market price; otherwise the firm would have an incentive to raise its price and increase its revenue. But the grant of monopoly privilege renders the consumer demand curve less elastic, for the consumer is deprived of substitute products from other would-be competitors.”—Murray Rothbard, Power & Market
At the farmer’s market today, LAPD had a large booth and trailer to - I guess - show that they’re a part of the community too. (They proved how they’re just like us by parking their squad cruisers along the red-curbed street where anyone else would get ticketed).
Anyway, I wore my Hoppe “Privatize Everything” t-shirt today.
Once the cops clocked it and, after a few minutes, processed the implications - I was showered with dirty looks. It was actually pretty funny how I was being watched at all times. At one point, I was in the petting zoo area with my daughters and two of them spent a few minutes leaning over the fence to stare right at me. Surprisingly I was not approached, though it looked like a few of them were thinking about it. I almost wish they had; I’m happy to have the privatization conversation with anyone.
What is it about believing in the virtues of peaceful, consensual, and mutually beneficial exchange that gets people all worked up? Don’t most people recognize the undesirability of monopolies and initiating aggression? Why must anyone believe that a properly functioning society requires guns pointed at the heads of peaceful people?*
On the flip side, the old man who plays the banjo on the street corner recognized the shirt and said he loved von Mises, that the Institute does good work, and he’s always happy to meet “other smart libertarians.” It’s nice to know that his approval of my Ron Paul t-shirt back in the spring wasn’t superficial.
*These were rhetorical questions. Obviously, many police would typically be against privatization as it would put an end to their gravy train - no more unnecessary OT, no more unlimited pensions, no more acting with impunity, no more property seizures and harassment of people who have committed “victimless crimes,” etc.
If you buy a packaged product, inspect the ingredient list. If there is any mention of corn, grain, soy, sugar (fructose, glucose, etc.), starch, or anything unfamiliar or unpronounceable - think twice. If you opt for something that saves you a few cents but compromises your health, what’s the point?
Eggs. What’s not to love? Can be used in nigh-limitless ways, provide great protein, and can be found cheap. Stick to organic and free-range eggs - they aren’t too expensive but are much healthier.
Add bulk with cheap veggies. Broccoli, peppers, onions, squash, zucchini, and leafy greens are often pretty cheap and can be added to almost any meal. Cauliflower is sometimes a little more expensive than broccoli but it’s a transformative addition that can be roasted, fried, riced, pureed, etc. We use sweet potato as a side about two to three times a week.
Look into a local CSA or farmer’s market, as it’s often cheaper (and of higher quality) than buying produce at a supermarket. (We did the CSA thing for a while but found our farmer’s market was cheaper. Your milage may vary).
Often it’s cheaper to buy frozen veggies. They’re just as nutritious, and if they’re getting cooked anyway it usually doesn’t matter that they’re frozen. This goes for fruits, too - especially berries.
Fish. Trader Joe’s has great seafood selections for cheap. In fact, they have a lot of affordable food options for people going paleo/primal. What’s more regionally available is likely to be the most affordable. Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and squid tend to be very cheap around here - since they’re local and plentiful year-round.
Offal is delicious and incredibly cheap. I just picked up 3 pounds of chicken hearts for $4. That fed me three times and my daughters twice. And using plenty of butter and oil and onions and garlic and citrus and spices - it’s a hell of a meal. Keep an eye out for more ignored parts of the animal. Your best-bets are asian and hispanic markets.
Grass-fed beef is best, but it’s not always cheap. If you can’t afford it, don’t worry about it too much. Just opt for it when you can. Same goes for pastured pig and chicken (though you should be able to find good quality chicken for cheap). I’d stick with grass-fed butter - no compromise on that one. Edit: Do at least try to stick to organic even if not grass-fed/pastured. No reason to ingest hormones and other unsavory non-foods.
Discover goat. It’s the most commonly eaten animal in the world, but not exactly a staple in American diets. In reality, it’s quite delicious when cooked properly. And cheap.
Avocados. At least here in California (where they’re abundant), avocados are very affordable. They’re even cheaper in Florida. And very primal/paleo.
A Costco or Sam’s Club membership, especially one that’s shared with some college buddies, more than pays for itself after one or two shops (though steer clear of their many aisles of grains!).
Don’t forget that Amazon sells some food items. I get a number of things - including coconut oil and olive oil - from Amazon for VERY cheap.
If you’re trying to save money, cans can be acceptable. Tomatoes, tuna, salmon, and sardines are all just fine out of a can (but check ingredient list).
Consider the savings when you’re drinking water instead of sodas and juices.
Don’t be afraid to skip a meal if you’re not hungry. After going primal/paleo, you’ll find you’re satiated longer and don’t have the need to chase insulin spikes. Don’t feel the need to stick to a schedule or follow the old advice of “breaking” your fast to kick-start your metabolism. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. (If you’re never hungry but actually starving yourself, go see a doctor or something.)
Sometimes a small handful of walnuts, almonds, or macadamias is all you need to keep you going for a few more hours.
Use a crock pot. Making big stews will allow you to use the cheaper but tougher cuts of meat that require slow cooking. You can also throw in various leftover ingredients so you waste less. Plus, buying in bulk to make a crock pot stew that lasts you several meals may make you a frugal gourmet.
Grow your own herbs. Even if all you have is a small kitchen window, you can grow basil and mint and rosemary pretty easily - and that will pay for itself fairly quickly.
Make your own bacon, jerky, and ghee. And pemmican.
If you live in a dorm, I’m sure you can find some people who’ll split a quarter cow or half pig with you (can be bought from a local ranch or various places online). If you can do this, you can save a ton.
Don’t be above clipping coupons, though the kind of things that are usually discounted with coupons tend to not be very caveman-friendly.
“In many instances of product prohibition, of course, inevitable pressure develops for the reestablishment of the market illegally, i.e., as a “black” market. As in the case of price control, a black market creates difficulties because of its illegality. The supply of the product will be scarcer, and the price of the product will be higher to compensate the producers for the risk of violating the law; and the more strict the prohibition and penalties, the scarcer the product and the higher the price will be. Furthermore, the illegality hinders the process of distributing to the consumers information (e.g., by way of advertising) about the existence of the market. As a result, the organization of the market will be far less efficient, the service to the consumer will decline in quality, and prices again will be higher than under a legal market. The premium on secrecy in the “black” market also militates against large-scale business, which is likely to be more visible and therefore more vulnerable to law enforcement. The advantages of efficient large-scale organization are thus lost, injuring the consumer and raising prices because of the diminished supply. Paradoxically, the prohibition may serve as a form of grant of monopolistic privilege to the black marketeers, since they are likely to be very different entrepreneurs from those who would succeed in a legal market. For in the black market, rewards accrue to skill in bypassing the law or in bribing government officials.”—Murray Rothbard, Power & Market
In California, a law that promised to control politicians is now being used to control the public.
California’s Proposition 25 promised to rein in runaway spending and "end budget gridlock" by hitting politicians’ pocketbooks. Every day on which lawmakers failed to pass a balanced budget after their June 15 deadline each year would be a day of pay they lost.
This was an attempt to increase government “efficiency” — to make government conform to the laws of business: you must give people the things they want on time or you do not get paid. But, as Mises wrote, “government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things.”
Prop. 25 was passed in 2010. The next year, when legislators’ budget ran the state even further into the red, the state controller tried to dock their pay. Not surprisingly, the politicians fought him on this, and California’s superior court found that only the lawmakers’ themselves have the power to declare their own budget unbalanced and thus deprive themselves of their paychecks.
So the net effect of Prop. 25’s threat to politicians is that they can dock their own pay if they feel like admitting failure. Not bloody likely.
Critics of Prop. 25 might say that it has failed to bring the government efficiency it promised. But Prop. 25 has actually increased the efficiency of the state: the speed and ease with which it can extract wealth from its subjects.
This is because the threat to dock lawmakers’ pay was only half of the measure. The other half makes it easier to ratchet up the size of government.
In Frédéric Bastiat’s brilliant The Law, he explains that “when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make law,” everyone eventually becomes involved in legislation. And when the masses join in, “they emulate their evil predecessors by participating in this legal plunder.”
The illusion of democracy is that by voting yes or no to certain politicians or certain laws, the people can restrain the government. But “so long as legal plunder continues to be the main business of the legislature,” the people find themselves becoming merely the state’s accomplice.
This year, California’s budget is balanced — if you include the $8 billion in tax increases (levied largely on the richest Californians) that voters are being asked to consent to on a ballot in November.
The state of California is unusual in that it has historically required a two-thirds majority to pass any budget or tax increase. This was the cause of the state’s historical “budget gridlock.” Even a substantial majority found it difficult to railroad the public into new spending or taxing.
Prop. 25 has knocked down that roadblock.
The measure’s supporters pointed out in their video ads again and again that it “does not raise taxes.” That’s true. Prop. 25 only makes it easier to increase spending by reducing the budget requirement to a simple one-half majority in the legislature.
A slight majority of politicians stealing money from the public is not any more immoral than a large majority doing so. But the difference is, as a practical matter, grease on the wheels of the train to total government.
With Prop. 25, which promised to make government pass balanced budgets, the ruling majority now found itself able to pass all its budget measures rather easily. It still couldn’t pass tax increases directly, but it could create a tax-increase ballot measure and a bundle of targeted cuts in order to corral the public into voting for it.
The tax hike is targeted to hit the wealthiest Californians. Of the $8 billion in new taxes, $7.5 billion will come from Californians making $250,000 or more (about 5 percent of the population).
And if the masses do not approve those taxes in November, $6 billion in automatic trigger cuts to education programs will kick in. Eighty percent of those cuts will hit public schools and most of the rest will hit community colleges. Horror of horrors, there is even talk of reducing the school year by as much as 15 days.
That is the choice that the government has managed to put before voters: join in with the state to rob the rich or cut your kids’ education (which you are already forced to pay for).
Californians do not get to choose between increasing taxes and cutting their state’s bloated public pensions, which are now unfunded to the tune of $497 billion dollars. Neither do the voters have the option to cut the governor’s pet project — a $68 billion high-speed rail line. That’s not on the chopping block either.
Instead, voters must think of the children. Plunder the rich for your children’s sake. Did even Bastiat foresee machinations this cynical?
Just in case the game was not sufficiently rigged, the government has also passed a new law simply to relocate the tax increase from the bottom to the top of the November ballot paper, where they expect it will be in its best light to meet with voters’ approval. (Since that relocation was considered a budget-related measure, under Prop. 25 it could be passed with a simple majority and without any necessary waiting period for public review or comment.)
At last, government gridlock has been cured! You Californians didn’t make it easier for the politicians to raise taxes themselves, but you did make it easier for them to make you raise the taxes for them. …
In voting for Prop. 25, the people of California were duped by the mirage of government efficiency. Now they should note what their government has become more efficient at doing. Tax and spend. Rob and squander.
If that’s government efficiency, then government gridlock is vastly to be preferred.
I’ve also discussed how politicians (and California in that particular instance) like to make budget cuts hurt the public to turn them against the cuts and support tax increases: “It’s always cuts to police or fire, cuts to mail delivery days, cuts to teachers, and so on - all areas in which government monopolies leave the public without alternatives. This is always a dishonest ploy, and any politician or bureaucrat who employs this tactic is, in all cases, deliberately compromising the public’s safety and happiness for their own selfish, manipulative whims.”
“I can describe an axe entering a human skull in great explicit detail and no one will blink twice at it. I provide a similar description, just as detailed, of a penis entering a vagina, and I get letters about it and people swearing off.”
“To my mind this is kind of frustrating, it’s madness. Ultimately, in the history of [the] world, penises entering vaginas have given a lot of people a lot of pleasure; axes entering skulls, well, not so much.”
In my years in this industry, easily 80% of the notes I’ve gotten from BS&P have been with regards to nudity and sexuality. The rest were mainly profanity and logos. I can’t even remember one note ever having to do with gore or violence.
“Directly, the utility of at least one set of exchangers will be impaired by [price] control. Further analysis reveals that the hidden, but just as certain, effects are to injure a substantial number of people who had thought they would gain in utility from the imposed controls. The announced aim of a maximum price control is to benefit the consumer by insuring his supply at a lower price; yet the objective result is to prevent many consumers from acquiring the good at all. The announced aim of a minimum price control is to insure higher prices for the sellers; yet the effect will be to prevent many sellers from selling any of their surplus. Furthermore, price controls distort production and the allocation of resources and factors in the economy, thereby injuring again the bulk of consumers. And we must not overlook the army of bureaucrats who must be financed by the binary intervention of taxation, and who must administer and enforce the myriad of regulations. This army, in itself, withdraws a mass of workers from productive labor and saddles them onto the backs of the remaining producers—thereby benefiting the bureaucrats, but injuring the rest of the people. This, of course, is the consequence of establishing an army of bureaucrats for any interventionary purpose whatever.”—Murray Rothbard, Power & Market
I’ve discussed before how those of us who work in the tv/film industry and are not proponents of a big and meddlesome government tend to be marginalized by those others who are. This is why I call it Leftywood: the non-leftists are a very tiny minority.
A few years ago (2008, before the election), some producers were in my office and had spent a fair amount of time discussing the messianic qualities of Barack Obama. When I tried to steer them back to the task at hand, one of them turned to me and said something along the lines of “You’re latino. You must be so excited.” I winced at the employ of latino, and simply stated that I wasn’t going to vote for Obama. They looked at me as though I had just bitten the heads off a half-dozen live bats. If I hadn’t pulled the weight on that show that I did (and, frankly, wasn’t as well-liked as I was), I may not have stayed employed.
This is why I keep my identity generally under wraps on this blog. My coworkers and employers know that I’m libertarian, but there’s no telling what the consequences would be if the statists in the industry knew the extent to which my anti-statism reached. (The more I advance in my career - and the more clout and connections I have - the more open I become.)
Well, today I met another libertarian in the industry, a stunt coordinator who specializes in working with motorcycles. As a matter of fact, he lives directly across the street from me (he approached me while I was doing some sprinkler repair).
Apparently, working on a movie a few summers ago, his political affiliation was discovered. Like me, he was an anti-union member of a union (see my personal note on unions here) - a libertarian who would not support Obama.
That night, he returned to find his bike vandalized. The next day, he was met with cold shoulders and bad attitudes from his coworkers and especially his employers. Two days later, he was out of a job - and his employers made sure he understood that they were only looking for “team players” and wouldn’t tolerate “enemies within their ranks.”
Now this is the kind of story that would normally make the left’s blood boil. Here was an employer using his authority to squelch dissenting opinion. But when the opinion is anti-left, then I guess the normal rules don’t apply.
Hollywood is every bit as left-leaning and state-loving as it’s made out to be - but less tolerant than it wants the public to realize.
When pressed for a “success story” of their policies, Keynesians point with pride to World War II. They claim that it is the perfect illustration of the ability of massive government spending to lift an economy out of the doldrums.
In the effort to battle this myth, Steve Horwitz and Michael J. McPhillips offer an interesting new article that analyzes diaries, newspapers, and other primary source documents from the wartime era. They show that average Americans on the home front certainly did not think they were living amidst a great economic recovery. Yet as I’ll show in this article—relying on the pioneering efforts of Robert Higgs—we can use even the official statistics to turn the conventional Keynesian account on its head.
To the good gentleman representing the Libertarian community of Los Angeles:
I very much appreciate the niceties, but I don’t represent any community; I only speak for myself. If others agree, I welcome them - but that is their choice (and they are not limited by geography).
In reference to hipsterlibertarian’s use of “WE,” I believe the hipster knows it’s the government doing it, not the people of the United States. But understanding the basics of representative government, the administration has in fact been elected by a majority of the people and so they do have the authority as such to carry out nation-to-nation relations on our behalf, and in this case, to impose sanctions. Despite thinking that the hipster may have mis-spoken, he is not error.
"Representative government" without the unanimous consent of the governed in every aspect the so-called government claims to have authority is a sham. Democracy is illegitimate. Majority rule is tyranny.
The short of it is this: no person or group of persons, even if they call themselves “government,” may initiate force or fraud against a peaceful person or group of persons. This is because - although a person may relinquish certain authority over one’s life or hire another to perform a task on his behalf - no person or group of persons, even if they call themselves “government,” may be empowered to do something others may not.
If it is improper for you to break down your neighbor’s door, put a gun to his head, rip him away from his family, confiscate his property, and put him in a cage with violent criminals (who may rape him) simply for participating in a peaceful activity you happen to not like, then how can you empower a third party to do the same?
But more to the point: even if most people agree that such a penalty would be proper against your neighbor’s activity, if your neighbor did not agree to those terms then how can he be under any obligation to them?
Those who didn’t vote at all cannot be said to have consented to the outcome of the vote. Those who voted against the candidate or policy cannot be said to have consented to the outcome.
(Your claim that “the administration has in fact been elected by a majority of the people,” is, in fact, false. Even after historic voter turnout, Barack Obama’s 66.5 million votes represents only 21.8% of the total population of 305 million.)
But even some of those who voted for the candidate or policy cannot be said to have consented to the repercussions of the result. For starters, a policy’s implementation can be reinterpreted by those in power in a way counter to expectations, and a candidate can change his position after the election. I’m sure some Obama supporters would have made a different choice (including not choosing at all) if they had known that the so-called peace president would kill civilians daily, the so-called transparency candidate would deny more FOIA requests than anyone, the whistle-blower supporter would lock away Bradley Manning, the champion of minority causes would deport more immigrants in three years than Bush in eight, the constitutional scholar would sign the NDAA, Patriot Act, ACTA, and the death warrants of Americans “tried” without due process.
Then, there’s the matter of voting for “lesser of two evils.” As Rothbard explained, such terms - choosing between evils - are never used by people when they act freely for themselves: “No one thinks of his new suit or refrigerator as an “evil”—lesser or greater. In such cases, people think of themselves as buying positive “goods,” not as resignedly supporting a lesser bad. The point is that the public never has the opportunity of voting on the State system itself; they are caught up in a system in which coercion over them is inevitable.”
So we’ve got those who didn’t vote, those who voted against, those who voted for an idealized version that never materialized, those who simply voted for the lesser of two evils and never truly agreed with specific policies, and even those who may have changed their minds for any other reason.
The will of the people, therefore, is not reflected in the state.
And even if it can be said that an enthusiastic majority support the state and the elected rulers, it is still, as stated previously, tyranny over the minority.
So even in the most gracious interpretation of representative democracy, the government is not “we.” The state is not society. I have no doubt whatsoever hipsterlibertarian knows that “it’s the government doing it, not the people of the United States.” She’s incredibly bright and, doubtless, it was simply an oft-used turn of phrase. But, employing the word “we” is rhetorically dangerous. It falsely conflates the state with society so that the actions of the state may be said to be representative of the will of the people. Often, they’re merely the will of the politicians, plutocrats, and corporatists who stand to gain most. Especially when it comes to atrocities that one clearly does not support, it’s crucial to make the distinction.
Sanctions are not an act of war. In fact, they are a very weak soft control mechanism used to prevent it. Sanctions along with embargoes are legal ways to limit trade. The UN has consistently supported sanctions when countries have not ‘played well with others.’ I don’t think such an esteemed organization would do so if they considered it an act of war.
Those sanctions are NOT an act of war. That is just utter nonsense. How is not giving someone something “an act of war”? …
This is exactly why I stressed that the state is not “we.” Just as the U.S. government becomes a proxy for the myriad individuals within its borders, so does the Iranian government become proxy for the myriad individuals within theirs.
If person A wants to peacefully exchange goods with person B, it is of no concern to anyone else. If someone in Iran wants to buy a bag of pencils from someone in Kentucky, and a third party interferes through force (imposes sanctions) - then that third party is committing aggression.
If Iran imposed sanctions on the United States and the many individuals within its borders, would it not be considered an act of war? It was economic sanctions, after all, that provoked Japan to attack Pearl Harbor.
It is free and open trade that promotes peace, not threats and impediments to free exchange. As Bastiat said, “when goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will.”
(Oh, and there’s nothing esteemed about the U.N. It’s merely another governmental entity complete with taxes, bureaucrats, courts, and a standing army. It is, functionally, a global government that places itself above even the autonomy of other states, and thus has even less concern for the will of the people (that is, individual will). Just like all states, it often serves to grant favors for connected cronies, supports cartels and despots when profitable, and prevents peace by obstructing trade. The U.N. has even less legitimacy than the U.S.)
If a kid keeps spitting at you when you try to invite him to the kickball game it’s okay if we don’t offer him our peanut butter cookie.
I don’t even know how to interpret these silly contortions. I’m assuming the “kid” is Iran. But what’s the “kickball game”? And how are they “spitting”? Wouldn’t it just be easier to stop inviting the kid to the kickball game since he clearly doesn’t want to go? And what’s “our peanut butter cookie”? Again, this is the danger in looking at states as an aggregate of the people themselves.
Iran may or may not be working on a nuclear weapon. So far the threat is very implausible, much less actionable. Even if it were, who is the United States - the only entity to have used nuclear weapons against a population and subsequently killed hundred of thousands, mostly civilians - to decide how other countries arm themselves?
If there is an imminent threat of attack, then most people would understand aggressive action in defense. (tofamoustocare believes that the true purpose of the sanctions is in response to funding terrorists and not the stated purpose of preventing the development of a nuclear weapon - the argument still stands.) But obstructing the peaceful exchange of individuals only escalates problems. The average American has no quarrel with the average Iranian. If the states and rulers don’t like each other, they should leave us out of it. Your support of their interventions only fosters the resentment that leads to antagonism. After all, no one seems to bother with Switzerland because the Swiss prefer not to meddle.
“Entrepreneurs operate on the basis of certain criteria: prices, interest rates, etc., established by the free market. Interventionary tampering with these criteria destroys the adjustment and brings about losses, as well as misallocation of resources in satisfying consumer wants.”—Murray Rothbard, Power & Market
Not just in this latest tragedy - panic, time and time again, triumphs easily over reason.
It is this sad truth that explains the persistence of the state itself. Emotion, fear, and unthinking are the leading sources of the state’s success. And indeed it is because of the state’s reliance on these human shortcomings that it strives to monger fear, provoke emotional responses, and keep the populace unaccustomed to reasoning.
Those in power can only remain in power if the people they presume to rule continue to turn to them for the answers to all their ills - which is why those in power seek to frame the issues of the day as unsolvable without their interventions.
It’s a self-fulfilling cycle.
Respite from this tyranny of the unthinking will not come until the masses let go of their blissful ignorance and acknowledge the falsity of their comfortable premises: those in power do not (and can not) have all the answers, those in power often place their own interests above the best interests of others, positions of power attract those most willing to abuse them, power structures that usurp individual autonomy are inherently unaccountable, corruption would be marginalized without an institutionalized monopoly on force, the future is uncertain, scarcity cannot be eliminated, democracy is illegitimate, and liberty is a pre-requisite to prosperity.
"Consumers also take entrepreneurial risks on the market. Many critics of the market, while willing to concede the expertise of the capitalist-entrepreneurs, bewail the prevailing ignorance of consumers, which prevents them from gaining the utility ex post that they expected to have ex ante. Typically, Wesley C. Mitchell entitled one of his famous essays: “The Backward Art of Spending Money.” Professor Ludwig von Mises has keenly pointed out the paradoxical position of so many “progressives” who insist that consumers are too ignorant or incompetent to buy products intelligently, while at the same time touting the virtues of democracy, where the same people vote for politicians whom they do not know and for policies that they hardly understand.
"In fact, the truth is precisely the reverse of the popular ideology. Consumers are not omniscient, but they do have direct tests by which to acquire their knowledge. They buy a certain brand of breakfast food and they don’t like it; so they don’t buy it again. They buy a certain type of automobile and they do like its performance; so they buy another one. In both cases, they tell their friends of this newly won knowledge. Other consumers patronize consumers’ research organizations, which can warn or advise them in advance. But, in all cases, the consumers have the direct test of results to guide them. And the firm that satisfies the consumers expands and prospers, while the firm that fails to satisfy them goes out of business.
"On the other hand, voting for politicians and public policies is a completely different matter. Here there are no direct tests of success or failure whatever, neither profits and losses nor enjoyable or unsatisfying consumption. In order to grasp consequences, especially the indirect consequences of governmental decisions, it is necessary to comprehend a complex chain of praxeological reasoning… Very few voters have the ability or the interest to follow such reasoning, particularly, as Schumpeter points out, in political situations. For in political situations, the minute influence that any one person has on the results, as well as the seeming remoteness of the actions, induces people to lose interest in political problems or argumentation. Lacking the direct test of success or failure, the voter tends to turn, not to those politicians whose measures have the best chance of success, but to those with the ability to “sell” their propaganda. Without grasping logical chains of deduction, the average voter will never be able to discover the error that the ruler makes. Thus, suppose that the government inflates the money supply, thereby causing an inevitable rise in prices. The government can blame the price rise on wicked speculators or alien black marketeers, and, unless the public knows economics, it will not be able to see the fallacies in the ruler’s arguments. …
"It might be objected that, while the average voter may not be competent to decide on policies that require for his decision chains of praxeological reasoning, he is competent to pick the experts—the politicians and bureaucrats—who will decide on the issues, just as the individual may select his own private expert adviser in any one of numerous fields. But the point is precisely that in government the individual does not have the direct, personal test of success or failure for his hired expert that he does on the market. On the market, individuals tend to patronize those experts whose advice proves most successful. Good doctors or lawyers reap rewards on the free market, while the poor ones fail; the privately hired expert tends to flourish in proportion to his demonstrated ability. In government, on the other hand, there is no concrete test of the expert’s success. In the absence of such a test, there is no way by which the voter can gauge the true expertise of the man he must vote for. This difficulty is aggravated in modern-style elections, where the candidates agree on all the fundamental issues. For issues, after all, are susceptible to reasoning; the voter can, if he so wishes and he has the ability, learn about and decide on the issues. But what can any voter, even the most intelligent, know about the true expertise or competence of individual candidates, especially when elections are shorn of virtually all important issues? The voter can then fall back only on the purely external, packaged “personalities” or images of the candidates. The result is that voting purely on candidates makes the result even less rational than mass voting on the issues themselves.
"Furthermore, the government itself contains inherent mechanisms that lead to poor choices of experts and officials. For one thing, the politician and the government expert receive their revenues, not from service voluntarily purchased on the market, but from a compulsory levy on the populace. These officials, therefore, wholly lack the pecuniary incentive to care about serving the public properly and competently. And, what is more, the vital criterion of “fitness” is very different in the government and on the market. In the market, the fittest are those most able to serve the consumers; in government, the fittest are those most adept at wielding coercion and/or those most adroit at making demagogic appeals to the voting public.
"Another critical divergence between market action and democratic voting is this: the voter has, for example, only a 1/50 millionth power to choose among his would-be rulers, who in turn will make vital decisions affecting him, unchecked and unhampered until the next election. In the market, on the other hand, the individual has the absolute sovereign power to make the decisions concerning his person and property, not merely a distant, 1/50 millionth power. On the market the individual is continually demonstrating his choice of buying or not buying, selling or not selling, in the course of making absolute decisions regarding his property. The voter, by voting for some particular candidate, is demonstrating only a relative preference over one or two other potential rulers; he must do this within the framework of the coercive rule that, whether or not he votes at all, one of these men will rule over him for the next several years.
"Thus, we see that the free market contains a smooth, efficient mechanism for bringing anticipated, ex ante utility into the realization of ex post. The free market always maximizes ex ante social utility as well. In political action, on the contrary, there is no such mechanism; indeed, the political process inherently tends to delay and thwart the realization of any expected gains. Furthermore, the divergence between ex post gains through government and through the market is even greater than this; for we shall find that in every instance of government intervention, the indirect consequences will be such as to make the intervention appear worse in the eyes of many of its original supporters.
"In sum, the free market always benefits every participant, and it maximizes social utility ex ante; it also tends to do so ex post, since it works for the rapid conversion of anticipations into realizations. With intervention, one group gains directly at the expense of another, and therefore social utility cannot be increased; the attainment of goals is blocked rather than facilitated; and, as we shall see, the indirect consequences are such that many interveners themselves will lose utility ex post.”
Here is the news report to go along with the above headline … in its entirety:
Here’s one more reason to remember to keep your vehicle doors locked overnight. Lincoln Police Officer Katie Flood says someone stole an AR-15 assault rifle from a man’s blue Ford explorer.
Flood says the owner of the vehicle left the doors unlocked. She says it happened between 2:30 and 5:15 a.m. Monday morning in the 16-hundred block of Grenada Lane. That’s in the Capitol Beach area.
The gun is worth $1,000 dollars. Flood says other items, including an I-pod and ammunition were also stolen. Police do not have any suspects.
We have the cost of the gun, a concise list of the other items stolen, and a helpful reminder that, if you’re going to keep your weapon in your vehicle (which you’re almost sure to do), you’ll definitely want to remember to lock your car door.
You will note that there is no mention whatsoever of the problem that first came to my mind: someone is now walking around town with a stolen AR-15 rifle and ammunition … and, of course, an iPod.
“Police do not have any suspects.”
I, for one, am just pleased as punch to see how easy it is for anyone who wants one to own a gun in this country … especially criminals who can just open an unlocked car door and walk off with an AR-15 rifle.
2nd Amendment 4 Life!
If this keeps happening (say, many hundreds of times more) and people die as a result of these unaccounted-for weapons (say, 150 civilians), then what we’ve got on our hands is an epidemic comparable to the one recently orchestrated by Eric Holder and Barack Obama.
But the concern regarding valuable firearms left unattended in unlocked vehicles is sorely misplaced, since most people have very high motives to not be stolen from. Those who arm themselves tend to be more mindful about leaving themselves to being victimized.
Plus, there have been a number incidents of weapons stolen from police officers - those who even many gun control advocates would say have the most legitimate claim to owning and using a gun. Unlike the post you link to that was over a year ago, just today it is reported that a police-issue Stag-15 was stolen from the trunk of an unmarked police car. Unlike a private owner, however, the police officer is unlikely to suffer any losses.*
Just like cocaine and prostitution, guns cannot be legislated out of existence. Firearms will always be available to criminals, no matter the law.
Though I am sure this argument is not new to you, just as I’m sure you find it unconvincing: the truth is that gun control only disarms the peaceful and law-abiding.
As I said a few days ago, agitating against gun-ownership does not achieve its intended aim of eliminating guns and weakening criminals. In fact, the opposite is true - it gives criminals an edge.
* According to a friend of mine who works for a major metropolitan police force (one of the ten largest police forces in the U.S.): while side arms carried by police officers are sometimes personally owned, shotguns and assault rifles typically belong to the department. When a gun is lost or stolen, an officer may be placed on temporary administrative leave - a paid vacation, essentially - while an investigation is carried out and paperwork is submitted to DOJ and the state. The officer is typically not required to reimburse the department or city/county, and is usually reissued a weapon after a short probationary period.
A fundamental question for democracy is what should be submitted to the democratic process. The laws of physics are presumably immune. But should public opinion help to decide which areas of science are studied or funded?
An excellent essay (from the science journal, Nature) about the recent push by some legislators to cut funding for political science.
Is this a joke?
The editorial begins thusly:
A fundamental question for democracy is what should be submitted to the democratic process. The laws of physics are presumably immune. But should public opinion help to decide which areas of science are studied or funded?
I’ve previously discussed the illegitimacy of democracy, but of course this is not a principled understanding of the sovereignty of the individual over his own life.
Take this strained conception of “democracy” (which throughout they seem to take as a synonym for a “properly functioning society”):
The proper function of democracy is to establish impartial bodies of experts and leave it to them.
This is a ridiculous new definition for “democracy” that precludes all inconvenient constructs of democratic will. “Leaving” decisions to others is the crux of the problem in the first place since “experts” are either politically appointed or democratically decided by the same “public opinion” nature abhors. There is no such thing as impartiality when the state and its monopoly on force is involved. Nature claims to be a science journal but is instead clutching tightly to fairy tales of unbiased government agencies filled with experts who know better than the rest of us and are capable of steering individuals and their property better than they can manage themselves. This is why Mencken referred to democracy as a theological concept.
In truth, this editorial-cum-screed is nonsense parading as intelligensia’s response to the political maneuvers of “right-wingers” (yes, the science journal’s editorial used the phrase “right-wingers”). See, the point here is that they insist on funding their studies through tax-payers, but they want the simple masses to keep their uninformed noses away from how their money is being spent.
The editorial later notes:
The idea that politicians should decide what is worthy of research is perilous.
What does one expect to happen when research is funneled through the political sausage factory? (And especially, as is the case in what this editorial is responding to, research for “political science”?!)
It’s really quite simple: if you, like me, resent the politicization of how research is funded, then you must advocate an end to the government’s involvement in research. Otherwise, you can expect those who pay into it to want to have a say in how it is run. Further, though not touched upon in the editorial, if you resent politicians and bureaucrats selfishly siphoning funds away from good research into some lesser research simply because some group or corporation gave to their political campaigns or because they’re buying votes by funding the firm that provides jobs in their districts, then the solution is still to end the government’s involvement in research.
So, “should public opinion help to decide which areas of science are studied or funded”? What is necessary, and I’m sure everyone in nature would agree, is to have those with the most pertinent knowledge have the most say - instead of turning delicate decision-making over to the uninformed and uninterested. Government funding is lucrative irrespective of the success or relevance of its subsequent studies. This is because the revenue is sourced at the point of a gun (taxation, ultimately, is paid by threat of violence), and the inherent bureaucratic and corporatist cesspool of government makes the funding itself the ends instead of the means to further successful research. Scarce resources are thus not conserved or put to their greatest utility. When research and studies are conducted on a private (voluntary) basis, however, it’s the most relevant, important, and promising ones that tend to be funded. After all, future funding is not guaranteed as there is no legitimized and institutionalized violent coercion sourcing it.
If free people participate in consensual exchange, the resultant emergent order would most efficiently distribute knowledge among the relevant actors. The natural economic calculation of this process would make funding available to the most relevant, promising, and demanded studies. No threats of violence necessary, and no politicians or voting to muck things up.
“Error can always occur in the path from ante to post, but the free market is so constructed that this error is reduced to a minimum. In the first place, there is a fast-working, easily understandable test that tells the entrepreneur, as well as the income-receiver, whether he is succeeding or failing at the task of satisfying the desires of the consumer. For the entrepreneur, who carries the main burden of adjustment to uncertain consumer desires, the test is swift and sure—profits or losses. Large profits are a signal that he has been on the right track; losses, that he has been on a wrong one. Profits and losses thus spur rapid adjustments to consumer demands; at the same time, they perform the function of getting money out of the hands of the bad entrepreneurs and into the hands of the good ones. The fact that good entrepreneurs prosper and add to their capital, and poor ones are driven out, insures an ever smoother market adjustment to changes in conditions.”—Murray Rothbard, Power & Market
“Anarchy refers to a society without a central political authority. But it is also used to refer to disorder or chaos. This constitutes a textbook example of Orwellian newspeak in which assigning the same name to two different concepts effectively narrows the range of thought. For if lack of government is identified with the lack of order, no one will ask whether lack of government is absolutely essential to the case for the state. For if people were ever to seriously question whether government is really productive of order, popular support for government would almost instantly collapse.”—John Hasnas, Georgetown University
There is no consistent association between gun crimes and easy access to guns or the right to carry. [Mass shootings] are so bizarre and rare that there is no sense in trying to craft laws aimed at preventing them. [Of all homicides in the U.S., those with five or more victims account for 0.1%.] Despite constantly expanding gun ownership—the number of new firearms entering American possession averages around 4 million a year—and expanded rights to legally carry weapons, the last two decades have seen a 41 percent decline in violent crime rates. Since the 2004 expiration of the “assault weapon” ban, murder rates are down 15 percent. …
Prohibition has never succeeded in eradicating that which was prohibited. The more difficult it is for peaceful, law-abiding individuals to acquire a good, the more the supply of that good falls into the hands of criminals. And someone who is willing to murder is not afraid of committing the much less grievous crime of acquiring an illegal firearm.
What happened in Colorado is horrific. A deranged individual left twelve thirteen dead and even more injured - including a three-month-old - after opening fire in a crowded theater. Even one innocent life taken away at the hands of evil is too many, much less thirteen. This noxious atrocity exposes the profoundly dark recesses that are sometimes found in the human mind, and it makes us conscious of the uncertain nature of all our lives. I am deeply saddened by the mindlessness and, as a father, part of me wants to never let my little girls leave my side. But while it’s easy to react to tragedies with emotion, I know that this is an untenable solution - just as the current advocating for greater gun control is not the answer.
The way to mitigate such senseless violence is not to tip the scales in favor of criminals by disarming their victims.
Indeed, the vast majority of people who own guns not only use them safely, but often use them to protect innocent life. Just a few days ago, a 71-year-old man with a small handgun was able to shoot two armed thugs (one with a bat, the other with a gun) who were attempting to rob the many patrons of an internet cafe. When such a heroic thing happens, are the hails of how concealed ownership saved lives anywhere as vociferous as the cries for banning guns when tragedy strikes?
And make no mistake, those opposed to guns have already seized on this tragic “opportunity” to push their political agenda. But agitating against gun-ownership does not achieve its intended aim of eliminating guns and weakening criminals. In fact, the opposite is true - it gives them an edge.
As I’ve said previously, “Guns are equalizers. No longer can someone be attacked simply because he or she is smaller or weaker. A small elderly woman with a gun can take down an assailant of any size. And if the assailant has a gun, no rape whistle or pepper spray or even knife could equal the playing field like a firearm.
"When statist impulses are used to disarm the sane and peaceful, only the insane and violent will be armed - and fewer will be safe."