Politics

Red Tape: Violent and Inefficient

Rachel Clark : February 3, 2015 7:45 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

It’s a dimly lit detention facility.

In the background a light bulb buzzes; the heavy sound of human breathing steadily reverberates down the halls. The springs of a cot squeak; rubber shoes squeal against the floor.

The conspicuously-clothed criminals pent up in this concrete-clad cage strike up a conversation.

“So, what are you in here for?” a rough-looking character says as he leans against the wall, with his clenched fist resting on his hip.

A man with a weasel face, thick-framed glasses, and greasy hair is hunched over in the corner, watching as events unfold.

Rather rebellious-looking and shifting uneasily, a young fellow towers by the locked entrance. He knows the question was addressed to him. Yet the silence prevails.

“Well, c’mon,” the demanding questioner continues, “We don’t have all day.”

“Actually we do,” he corrects, “But I ain’t a patient person.”

The young man looks down at the floor, his face turning red.

“Blogging without a license,” he gulps. The gruff individual who asked the question stares, wide-eyed. He isn’t sure he can match it.

The weasel-faced man nods, and points to the rough-looking man (his mother never told him it was rude to point) and mutters, “Ol’ Jim here planted patented pumpkins two falls ago. Big lawsuit. You probably saw it in the news.”

“What are you here for?” the young one asks the weasel-faced man.

Weasel-face scratches his head, and looks up.

“I sold organic raw-milk goat cheese to homeschool moms,” he pauses, “In New York no less.”

“You know what’s more?” Jim the rough-looking fellow adds, “’fore he was sent to solitary, I spent five weeks in thuh’ same cell as Trademark Tim.”

The young man is new to prison life. He asks, “Am I supposed to know who that is?”

“Fresh-face, eh?” weasel-face says, “He started up a package delivery company and used the color brown. You know the rest.”

They all shudder. They know they have to watch their backs—the inhabitants of this nightmarish “detainment facility” are obviously capable of anything.

 

When everybody’s a criminal, the law can’t mean anything.

d.c.

The town that paints everything red.

More and more often in the United States, ordinary people are inadvertently turning to a life of crime; and because the federal government is so determined to stifle honest work and efficient free enterprise, this sort of “crime” definitely pays.

In fact, the cost of complying with bureaucracies’ arbitrary regulation is so exceedingly burdensome that it’s enough to destroy entire markets and firms—to say nothing of millions of lost jobs and vanishing economic efficiency.

Red tape is more than just inefficient: it is violent.

A government’s one function is to protect life, liberty, and property—thus murderers, rapists, and thieves ought to be considered criminals.

But clearly those who do nothing to deprive a person of life, liberty, or property ought not be punished by the state, and when they are, the state is surpassing its bounds and is no longer legally valid. Even if the “criminal” would not have violated the non-aggression principle, the government’s henchmen would in their enforcement of their petty federal ultimatum.

Regulations that dish out thousand-dollar fines and prison time for legal “offenses” like unlicensed hair-braiding or out-of-the-home freelancing are doing precisely what the state is meant to prevent: infringing upon inherent rights.

The state-sponsored aggression that ensues when a regulation is broken is nauseatingly inconsistent and harsh, dictated by the mood of a bureaucrat. Kids selling lemonade without a license can get a criminal record before the age of ten; bakers or photographers can be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars because they turn down a customer; someone who crosses a powerful corporation with a strong D.C. presence will be cut down in the prime of life. (I mean this in a mostly figurative sense.)

Many who lean towards free markets but can’t help but think that there ought to be a set of ground rules for each industry are overlooking the fact that laws are not magically supported by words printed on paper: the law is backed up by guns, fines, pepper spray, prison time, promises of death, and life-ruining lawsuits. Are most of the federal regulations threatening these things worth those punishments?

In the end, the mass of federal regulations torturing the economy is unwarranted interference in individual choice, a brutal manifestation of state aggression against the citizenry, and an absolute breach of legal equality. These regulations present more than moral problems: practical problems (including overfilled jails, criminalization of half the population, dramatic economic slowdowns, and inconsistent enforcement of laws) also make our foolishly large collection of regulations far from worthwhile.

Little laws here and there almost always sound like they’re for the best; the contents of voluminous thousand-page laws seem to be prudent; the powers afforded to bureaucrats sound fair enough—but this is not the case, and never will be.

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Obama’s Anti-Personality Cult

Rachel Clark : January 2, 2015 6:37 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

obama face

A great deal has been said about the personality cults of famous politicians, and Obama’s is as good an example as any. Obamamania is the term coined for unquestioning, naïve support of the nation’s 44th president. And for the past seven or so years, plenty of conservatives have been decrying it.

 

They talk about Obama energy, Obamanation, and the Obama economy; they find as many terrible pictures of the man as possible*; they try to prove that he’s responsible for all the activities of the Democratic Party. They grumble about his wife’s healthy food hypocrisy; they snidely insist that leaders should never play “that much golf”; they poke fun at his history of eating dogs.

 

In other words, a disturbing portion of the right wing has taken to slamming the man himself and not his ideals, morals, religion, or policies.

 

Yes, these conservatives are right in some capacity: he fully supports big, intrusive government and is therefore a deplorable proponent of tyranny. As President, Obama has done loads of damage.  Yes, in politics such attacks are normal and within the rights of those who initiate them.

 

But focusing solely on this one man doesn’t improve the ideological situation in the United States—he’s just one man among millions. As soon as he’s gone, another will take his place.

 

These attacks and complaints, the anti-charisma and anti- magnetism, are never enough to ultimately change the scene of American politics or to do anything except foster dislike of one particular man.

 

However, killing his ideas of tyranny and government control would bring permanent change. Conservatives should be fighting an ideological battle, not a personal one. Men are mortal, ideas are eternal: fighting the former and ignoring the latter is a recipe for disaster.

 

Tearing down an individual and creating an anti-personality cult takes less short-term effort than putting together a logical argument and explaining it to millions of people, but it also has very few short-term benefits.

 

It’s essentially like a Kleenex box—if one is finally yanked out, another pops up. Using a flame-thrower on the whole box, however, might yield more positive results.

 

Obama’s popularity has suffered because of the conservatives’ attacks, but his ideology hasn’t.

 

Conservatives, find something better to rally against than Obama. Or better yet, find something to rally together for. Liberty would be a great place to start.

 

 

Note: finding unflattering pictures of your political opponents is fine. I do it all the time. But a bad picture isn’t your ultimate goal.
 
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Burned again

Rebekah Hair : December 3, 2014 1:25 pm : Columns, Politics, Rebekah

It’s getting alarming how our nation seems to be in one place to some and another to the others. We all would rather live in our own little worlds than try and stop the ticking time-bomb that is being tampered with by non-professionals. At least, that’s what you have to conclude when you look around at all the turmoil in our backyards.

Where’s our sense of nationalism? My chickens might be smarter than those in power. I don’t doubt that these men and women are intelligent. I just wonder if they’re behind their time. I have pet chickens. To me they are pets. To Mom, they are egg-producing wonders. But they are fiercely loyal to their pen and will fight any chicken that invades their privacy.

For those of you who don’t have chickens, consider this example. Poor, poor Sparkle was being picked on by her sisters, who are meaner than mean(she is too, but this was before she grew up). We had two little delicate hens in a cage all by themselves, and they never pecked each other. They had raised our chicks and were tolerant and kind little mothers.

Of course, that was before they began to lay. Suddenly they realized  that any chicken that invades their space might try to be the leader. She might destroy their eggs. She might set up a dictatorship. So what did they do? They chased her around until we decided that Sparkle would be safer back with the persecutors.

Now I’m not saying that politicians should act like chickens. That would be increasingly strange (though some people wonder if the people they elected suddenly turned into chickens when they have to make a decision) and rather cruel. Just because a being is nationalistic doesn’t mean it should be elected. Hitler was, and no one has him on their ticket.

But there is something to say about being loyal. This can be played both ways, as can everything, but let’s use a small example. First of all, did you know that one of the ways the Soviet Union kept their territories under their control was splitting them along ethnic lines? Suddenly, all reason to band together was lost. These people weren’t your friends or even allies…they were enemies! Why should we help them?

Secondly, how do you identify yourself: as a person or as a part of a family? To us, it is obviously a person. To an Asian, it’s obviously a family. They are loyal to their heritage, and we are loyal to…what?

Are we loyal to our community? The color of our skin? Our nation? Our state? Or nothing? That question must be asked. Those who formed our nation were amateurs. They had never run a country before. Indeed, at first it wasn’t a country, but simply a confederation of states. No state had dominance over the others. A Massachusetts man couldn’t order a Virginian to do something. They lived as separate countries.

But war has a funny way of either uniting or dividing. Suddenly they had an enemy. Should they fight or sue for peace? It divided them at first, but they soon realized that those armies weren’t going to go away on their own. The feuding states, like their delegates, must “Hang together, or we will all surely hang separately.”

Our forefathers learned very quickly that rich or poor, white or black, Northern merchant or Southern farmer, we need to work together. Some things that were big problems before are suddenly very small. After the war, the delegates had plenty of time to argue over whether slavery was right or whether representation should be proportionate to size or equal. But during the war, things were dropped.

Today we have reached a dangerous point in our nation. The parties, both R. & D. have been corrupted by those who claim to be our friends. People no longer trust our leaders, and consequently, don’t trust those whose job is to keep peace, namely, the military. Hypocrisy flows from Washington, and We the People are angry and upset.

My study of history has led me to believe that parties have always been more political than useful, but that is a story for another time. We’re facing a dilemma. Our nation is confused. We want peace, but those who are supposed to lead us are only pouring gasoline on the fire. No wonder we’re being burned.

It’s at times like this that we are particularly vulnerable, and those who want us destroyed can rise. Maybe they’re already there. I believe that the only thing we really can do is remember. This is my land, my Father’s land, my Home.

If I can’t be proud of anything else, I can be proud of this. In the end, these leaders will bite the dust, and be forgotten. No one cares who the Secretary of Treasury was under the Washington Administration (Alexander Hamilton) I doubt more than a dozen people know who the Attorney General was either. They are long gone. Soon these names will be just that, names! But the great story goes on.

We have to remember our ultimate loyalty. God First. Family second. Country third. No matter who you are or where you live, these things matter. Our ultimate loyalty is not to those who look like us. It’s to our God in heaven, who set up laws and officials. And he said that stealing was wrong, no matter what the cause.

I’m not going to pretend that we are perfect. As a nation, we have had our triumphs and our shames. But stirring up old wrongs to serve your own motives is disgusting, no matter who you are or what the excuse is. Some people have forgotten that.

 

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Black Friday’s Absurdities

Rachel Clark : December 1, 2014 11:31 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

black friday fallacy

On Black Friday you were bombarded with advertisements, inconvenienced by heavy traffic, and promised by local yokels and media that all the hectic and potentially lethal mobs descending on Wal-Mart and Best Buy were doing the nation’s economy a favor.

 

On small-business Saturday you were probably informed that not “supporting local business owners” could have disastrous consequences, warned of the evils of “big corporations,” and possibly guilted into dropping a few dozen dollars at the nearest mom-and-pop diner or antique shop. For the local economy’s sake, of course.

 

On Cyber Monday you might have sat home in your Snuggie (God help us all) and watched as your inbox and newsfeed blew up with allegedly unbeatable online deals; and if you didn’t, maybe you skimmed through the morning news and saw headlines about those wounded in the Black Friday skirmishes and later a few paragraphs about the economic condition of the nation.

 

And well, today, you might feel trampled—literally or figuratively, depending on whether or not you went shopping on Friday. The feeling may stick around for another month or so.

 

Although the private sector is almost entirely responsible for the December-long mall-raiding rampage, and although consumers make the choice to spend their money in this manner, there are some seriously outdated economic theories floating around in the political sphere about how consumer spending grows the economy, particularly the seasonal variety of binge-buying.

 

The Black Friday Lie . . . one of them . . .

 

You’re going to hear it from a lot of places:

 

“Strong consumer and government spending drove UK growth in the third quarter as business investment and exports contracted against an increasingly uncertain global backdrop…” – the Telegraph

 

“A pair of Commerce Department reports this week showed that consumer spending is recovering from a weak first quarter more slowly than economists expected, and some are worrying that slowdown in a sector accounting for 70 percent of the U.S. economy could foreshadow slower economic growth on the whole.” – International Business Times

 

“…holiday spending can start a virtuous cycle of spending, profits, hiring and more spending, said Richard Feinberg, professor of retail management at PurdueUniversity.” – Columbus Dispatch

 

And the Dispatch summed it all up in one fallacious headline: “Holiday spending can lift businesses, entire economy.”

 

All that trickle-down financial well-being, job growth, and impending prosperity you’ve been told comes about from the disturbing Friday, Saturday, and Monday splurges and the month-long Christmas frenzy? Lies, all lies.

 

Going bankrupt, spending well into the red, buying unnecessary products, and paying extra at small businesses for products available more cheaply elsewhere not only harms you financially, it has no aggregate economic benefit whatsoever.

 

You’re often told that consumer spending is crucial to growth because the more money individuals spend, the more money flows through the economy—and somehow that bolsters businesses and creates jobs. Savings are practically tantamount to holding back economic “growth,” or at least that’s what Keynesians have been broadcasting to eager interventionist listeners for over half a century now.

 

The problem is that Keynes’ theory disregards the difference between economic activity and economic expansion. Economic activity could be anything from a complex private sector banking system to two castaways sitting on an island and literally exchanging the same clamshell all day long. According to Keynes, the latter example is an engine for economic growth. Growth, however, is quite different from the Keynesian vision: it is greater productivity and efficiency in the allocation of resources, impossible to achieve without capital investment and savings.

 

The Law of Markets (Say’s Law) dictates that demand is caused by supply, and therefore there cannot be a consumer-led recovery at all. And even though spending may benefit some retailers a smidgen, consider what might have been. Other, possibly better, things are available, but only when consumption is delayed for a time.

 

Bastiat’s classic example of two brothers, one who spends all of his money as quickly as possible and one who delays consumption, demonstrates what savings actually do for the economy. Behind the scenes, in bank accounts and piggy banks, savings are invested in capital goods—goods that are used in the production of other goods, like factory equipment and technology. The greater efficiency afforded by such capital investment reduces the price of consumer goods, and thus technically consumer spending.

 

When a consumer decides to save and not spend, other consumers pick up the slack by borrowing those savings and using them to finance capital investment, which in turn results in a higher standard of living, greater efficiency, lower prices, and less consumer spending. Productivity and the efficient allocation of resources, not mindless spending and consuming, are the goals of an economy.

 

In short, less consumer spending can (and almost always does) mean greater capital investment and accompanying true economic growth. While the ultimate goal of the economy is to fulfill consumer needs, it can’t be done without saving.

 

Spending and consumption are not bad; you have the option to spend until you can spend no more, but keep in mind it is not the pathway to prosperity in the aggregate or otherwise.

 

The seasonal Christmas spending frenzy is pretty bad from a lot of perspectives, but the worst part is the assumption that this consumer spending leads to long-run growth.

 

 

It doesn’t.

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Because Equality, Right?

Rachel Clark : November 22, 2014 5:31 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

The nauseating signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act -- a great example of the fallacious assumption that economic equality is a good thing and ought to be enforced by the government.

The nauseating signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act — a great example of the fallacious assumption that economic equality is a good thing and ought to be enforced by the government.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Few fallacious catchphrases set my blood to boiling more fiercely than equal pay for equal work. A regrettable but unquestionably catching shibboleth of a misinformed women’s “rights” movement, it’s so appealing a maxim that millions of politicians and protestors have repeated it without understanding its meaning, much less its potential results.

What the phrase implies, of course, is that remuneration for labor shouldn’t be influenced by gender alone; the leftists who so often repeat these now rather meaningless four words, however, are willing to take the cause even further into the depths of state intervention. The movement has mostly been whipped up out of the misguided contention that government should break the economy of its purportedly discriminatory ways. Because equality, right?

President Obama and his gender pay gap howler monkeys fixate on apparent employer discrimination allegedly evidenced by wage differences, but the statistically flexible pay gap is demonstrative of a normal economic phenomenon: women have different life goals than men. They choose lower-risk occupations. A great deal of them prefer flexible schedules. And as a general rule, they’re more likely to state flexibility and enjoyableness as their goals rather than earning money. Basically, they make different choices. (While the occupation choices may be because of individual preference, most of it stems from the fact that women do have different roles in society, in the economy, and in the home from that of men.)

These choices translate into economic consequences; namely, slightly less pay.

Altering the economic consequences of these choices through government fiat merely because of gender is foolish, misguided, and characteristic of short-sighted statists.

Yet despite this unchangeable truth, solutions like the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Lily Ledbetter Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act have all been offered up with great political fanfare.

There are many erroneous assumptions in the modern end-the-pay-gap movement, especially the notion that government can revise reality and alter the financial and economic outcomes of making different life choices, of different occupations, of different working hours, of different efficiency levels—the list could go on for a great while.

But the aspect of this gender-politics campaign that offends my economic conscience most isn’t a superficial annoyance like brazen party politics and activism-mongering for an issue that doesn’t exist.

It isn’t female legislators who assume that their gender allows them to transcend economic fact.

The chief irritation isn’t even totalitarian newscasters and deluded protestors who tawdrily demand a dramatic shift in the government’s stated purpose and our national economic structure.

What’s truly disturbing about the movement is that so many Americans assume that all varieties of equality and all means of obtaining it have the moral high ground: this is most certainly not the case, and the root of the equal pay for equal work nonsense economics leads back to a confusion between legal equality and government-enforced social equality,  two values that share a word but have nothing else in common.

 

Legal Equality

 

What sort of equality were these guys actually talking about?

What sort of equality were these guys actually talking about?

Legal equality is far from what most minorities and “underprivileged” or “unjustly treated” groups have been lead to believe about equality in general. Just as the Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal, a government guided by the concept of legal equality will not make laws helping one group and hurting another.

 

 

Put simply, all laws apply to everybody under legal equality.

Income, skin color, or gender, for example, will not and cannot be the deciding factor in a court battle over your innocence or guilt.

Legal equality isn’t always popular.

Pundits’ and popular demands for a state solution to the “unjust” phenomenon of income inequality are similar to the cries of activists alleging that the so-called gender pay gap is a problem warranting government intervention. Yet state action in either of those areas abolishes legal equality: any attempted government solution (other than leaving it alone in the first place) will give some groups preferential treatment over others.

There’s a good reason why legal equality should be a guiding principle in government. Without a constant citizens’ vigil seeking to preserve equal rights under the law, politicians will vote themselves favors, the political majority will seek to create laws friendly to its own, and society will create a class of those who take and those who make. Those at the bottom will have no rights and no political power.

Legal equality is also crucial in an economic sense.

While involuntary servitude may seem like an extreme, unlikely occurrence even in developed interventionist economies that aren’t governed by the principle of legal equality, such a governmental system is well attuned (if not ideal) for the exploitation of the minority.

A majority of the population enslaving another group through sheer force, thereby creating an underclass or serfdom, is no different than the same majority determining that the minority’s assets were “unjustly” large and then legally dividing the politically powerless minority’s  hard-earned income and material goods more “equally.”

In either scenario, the minority is being forced to work for someone else without reaping the benefits—and that’s the definition of involuntary servitude.

Due to a very predictable aspect of human nature, involuntary servitude of all kinds is less efficient than the mutually beneficial exchanges characteristic of a capitalist economic system. Without legal equality, there are marked moral, political, and economic consequences.

As Mises noted, the maintenance of social peace is crucial to the peaceful development of the division of labor. “But it is well nigh impossible to preserve lasting peace in a society in which the rights and duties of the respective classes are different,” he said in Liberalism.

He continues in the same chapter:

“…the socialists say, it is not enough to make man equal before the law. In order to make them really equal, one must also allot them the same income. It is not enough to abolish privileges of birth and rank. One must finish the job and do away with the greatest and most important privilege of all, namely, that which is accorded by private property.”

And that’s where government-enforced social equality comes in.

 

Government-enforced social equality

 

As it turns out, this Great Equalizer -- Mao Zedong -- killed up to 78 million people for communism. And rather worryingly, he mentioned "equal pay for equal work."

As it turns out, this Great Equalizer — Mao Zedong — killed up to 78 million people for communism. And rather worryingly, he mentioned “equal pay for equal work.”

In short, this government-enforced social “equality” is the opposite of legal equality. It is the precursor to and abstruse goal of full socialism and government micromanagement. And it must be emphasized that social equality can never exist side by side with legal equality in any one given situation. Modern-day women’s “rights” movements strive for this statist bliss, but all the while maintain a façade that they’re still campaigning for equal legal rights.

The comprehensive immigration reform that leftists keep promising pretends to call for equal legal rights, when in reality it is for exemption from the law altogether for a specific group of politically connected people. Having laws apply to some but not others invalidates legal equality. Applying laws to some and not others is the only way to achieve this social “equality” of which totalitarians speak.

Social equality that totalitarians advocate is not about governing and judging humankind by the areas in which they are equal—their created state, unalienable rights, and human nature—but about governing and judging men according to the areas in which they are unequal. It is about central planners adopting a moral code; it is about measuring up all of society to their arbitrary code and then reacting accordingly with the full coercive force of government.

It’s about making all citizens equal in substance, in possessions, in material goods, and in income (but of course, some are more equal than others).

 

Social equality means abolition of legal equality

 

If you want government-enforced social equality (i.e., socialism and redistribution) talk to the Communists.

If you want government-enforced social equality (i.e., socialism and redistribution) talk to the Communists.

While social equality in and of itself is not an evil or unacceptable state, it’s definitely impossible; and particularly in light of the method in which it has traditionally been pursued—complete government control of the economy—it is an evil thing.

Full government control of the economy is the only way to redistribute wealth and regulate the capitalists, and redistributing and regulating is the only way that social equality can even begin to be achieved. And that’s where the big problems begin.

Any governmental system that allows for the redistribution of wealth will be corrupted, quickly and badly; and any governmental system that controls the economy requires very specific, non-general action to operate at all. The presence of “social equality” negates legal equality. Combine this with inevitable insatiable greed on the part of whoever’s running the show—be it a dictator, committee, or voters under a democratic system—and you’ve got a system bred for discord, instability, political unrest, economic collapse, poverty, a police state, political oppression, and varying degrees of involuntary servitude.

The only means by which the state can pursue social equality is, in fact, redistribution and laws that apply to one group but not another. Government will hurt some, help others, and run the whole economy on the basis of central planners’ ideal of social justice (whatever that may be). It’s an ambiguous, arbitrary, and unknown goal of “justice” and material equality.

As Hayek said:

“In fact, as planning becomes more and more extensive, it becomes regularly necessary to qualify legal provisions increasingly by reference to what is ‘fair’ or ‘reasonable’; this means that it becomes necessary to leave the decision of the concrete case more and more to the discretion of the judge or authority in question.”

In other words, when government seeks social equality, it can only do so through controlling the economy; controlling the economy necessitates planning; planning means that the Rule of Law is completely absent. 

Whereas individuals in a free market decide on their own what is “fair” or “reasonable,” in a socialist economy—which is the only type of economy compatible with seeking social equality—planners must decide, and decide arbitrarily, according to their individual concepts of fairness or reason, absolutely impossible to align with the public’s diverse moral and logical codes.

If the absence of legal equality means injustice (as I certainly contend) then adopting social equality as a goal, despite its advocates’ muddleheaded claims that it’s the only way to justice, is perhaps one of the most unjust economic goals a government can formulate.

Furthermore, to produce the precise same results for women as for men means it is necessary to treat them differently; this means the abolition of both legal equality and the Rule of Law in that area.

Anything the government does to equalize the economy or financially assist certain portions of the economy destroys legal equality and disregards that all men are created equal and should be governed the same.

 

 Social Equality’s manifestations

occupy wall street

These Occupy Wall Street protestors assumed that income inequality needed to be managed by government — and oddly enough, they invoked equality to support their cause.
Other logical errors and problems with their arguments aside, income redistribution always means the abolition of legal equality.

Protective tariffs and import restrictions, welfare, food stamps, socialized healthcare, the construction of government infrastructure, graduated tax brackets, all forms of subsidization and crony capitalism, public schools, amnesty, and social security are just a few examples of government action that by nature must treat different groups of people differently. Some are helped, some are hurt—because government has no funds on its own, anything that it pays for is paid for by a certain group of taxpayers whether they enjoy the benefits or not.

If legal equality is necessary and social equality negates it, government treating all humankind equally is just; government making all humankind equal in substance is definitely not.

If legal equality is something we must strive for, then big government is entirely out of the question. Economic interference on the part of the state can only lead to the destruction of legal equality, and therefore freedom, the free market, and financial stability.

 

All men are created equal, or all men need to be made equal?

 

The implicit socioeconomic goal in the statement all men are created equal couldn’t be more different then the agenda of “equal pay for equal work” advocates, who want preferential legal treatment from the state for a group that’s somehow better than the rest.

Legal equality is the backbone of capitalist economies and free, minimally governed societies.

Social equality is government coercion in the economic sphere (and thus necessarily individual life), excessive legal plunder to accommodate a technically permissible system of looting and subsequent redistribution, and complete disregard of the actual usefulness and efficiency of workers and occupations in relation to the remuneration they receive.

Social equality and legal equality ought never to be confused, considered compatible, or thought to be one and the same. They are opposites. They cannot exist side by side. While conservatives in the United States fight the alleged gender pay gap with statistics, they ought to hit at the heart of the matter: social equality is not true equality, and working towards this government-enforced equality rips apart the fabric that holds a capitalist economy and a free society together.

 

Not all types of equality are equal.

In conclusion, the biggest ideological flaw in many arguments for and against various categories of redistribution is definitely the failure to recognize that not all forms of equality are equal—and they shouldn’t be treated like they are.

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I’m not allowed to bring a knife to a gun fight

Rachel Clark : November 13, 2014 9:41 am : Columns, Politics, Rachel

Jim Bowie and his illegal knife. (Painting by Michael Schrek.)

Jim Bowie and his illegal knife. (Painting by Michael Schrek.)

Much to my chagrin, I recently discovered I can’t carry a broadsword into Whataburger.

 

Concealed carry of daggers in the local Wal-Mart is strictly forbidden; walking down the street with a Bowie knife, concealed or not, is entirely illicit.

 

Unlike with firearms—which I won’t be able to own until age eighteen or conceal until age twenty-one—Texas law prohibits citizens from legally carrying knives anywhere except in their own homes, in their own vehicles, or in vehicles “under their control.”

 

As it turns out, the state can’t trust citizens with sharp, pointy objects. Someone might get hurt. Yet oddly enough, the state allows, to an extent, ownership and concealed carry of handguns.

 

The liberality afforded gun owners ought to be expanded and liberalized a great deal more, but it does provide a decent framework for what knife and blade laws should more closely resemble. As it is now, citizens aren’t left with many options regarding knives and blades:

 

  •  Under current law, all blades over 5.5 inches long are illegal to conceal or open carry.
  •  All throwing knives and throwing stars are illegal to conceal or open carry.
  •  All “stabbing knives,” daggers, dirks, and stilettos are illegal to conceal or open carry.
  •  All swords and spears are illegal to conceal or open carry. (I’d actually like to see this done.)
  •  And perhaps most humiliating of all to Texans, Bowie knives are illegal to conceal or open carry. (Hang your head in shame, lawmakers.)

 

In 2013, HB 1862 loosened restrictions on switchblades. It was one miniscule step in the right direction.

 

Bringing a knife to a gun fight isn’t usually an overtly wise choice, but in Texas law-abiding citizens don’t have the freedom to make that choice—and for a time and again disproved reason: the assumption that weapon-restricting laws can reduce crime. But everywhere the law’s been attempted, the exact opposite has happened.

 

As the saying goes, the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun; criminals intent on killing innocent victims are already breaking the law, and the realization that they’re wandering into a gun free zone or violating a portion of the Texas Penal Code (no criminal would ever do that, obviously) certainly isn’t going to stop them.

 

Knife and blade laws aren’t going to do a thing to stop blade-related crimes; but what they do manage is to tie the hands of citizens and give them even more by-the-inch government regulations in their lives.

 

Texas should leave the blade restrictions to the People’s Republic of New York and the muddleheaded European continent.

 

If you want to bring a knife to a gunfight, that’s your business.

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Of Politicians and Hobbits (spoiler warning)

Rachel Clark : October 31, 2014 8:14 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel, Spoofs

frodo23Frodo Baggins is a lot like a politician.

He inherits a problem—an evil ring of power—from his uncle, who’s become overly attached to it and doesn’t understand all the problems it can cause (just like the others who previously owned the ring).

Frodo’s given the task of destroying it.

 

Almost immediately Frodo is trailed by a completely succumbed previous ring-bearer. This creature, known as Gollum, has killed for possession of the ring before and would do it again.

 

Meanwhile, Frodo is fighting and vowing to not become like Gollum; yet it’s practically unavoidable. The enchantment is too strong.

ryan and frodo

 

The insane previous ring-bearer offers to “help” Frodo and his bodyguard, Sam. He’s going to walk them to Mordor for the sole purpose of destroying the ring. But not before carefully triggering some infighting, separating Frodo and Sam, and then leading dazed Frodo into a giant spider’s lair.

gollum and smeagol

 

At the crucial moment, as he’s about to cast the ring into the fires of Mount Doom, he decides the ring is mine. It would have remained so, but the previous ring-bearer lunges forward and gruesomely steals it—and in the fray, falls into the fire.

it's mine, bros

 

After a little drama, Frodo and Sam walk home. Frodo is left with lasting scars, Sam returns to the Shire that he originally left with the sole purpose of protecting (along with Mr. Frodo, of course), and both of them are considered strange hobbits for the rest of their days.

quayle and bush

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Gradual and Silent Encroachments: How Big Government Threatens More Than Your Pocketbooks

Rachel Clark : October 18, 2014 3:23 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

tea party protest

America was founded on freedom of expression, thought, and association; yet slowly it seems to betray its heritage.

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” – George Washington

 

Free speech is the beginning of liberty; without it, other freedoms are naught more than vain trivialities, token privileges bestowed by law on those who meekly hold their peace and utter no dissent — implicit or explicit it matters not.

 

For thousands of years, governments have attempted to control thoughts and speech, to little ultimate avail. Thoughts have no measure; words have no weight; government of the physical realm cannot halt the ever-occupied minds of men nor can it ever completely silence the minds that attempt to share their findings.

 

Limiting freedom of expression is the beginning of the end of freedom. Totalitarians know the method to be effective, just like immobilizing an army is the way to conquer a territory or neutralizing an immune system is the way for a microscopic foe to defeat the human body. The asphyxiating burden of government very seldom utilizes sheer force to subdue the population, but rather simple limits on what thoughts are acceptable for public expression and what thoughts aren’t permissible for open articulation.

 

And in the western world, one can observe the gradual dissolution of freedom of speech, in politics, in academics, in business. This is a perfectly natural result of government involvement in citizens’ everyday lives: when agriculture, healthcare, transportation, education, and business fall under the watchful eye of centralized government, commonplace glitches, inconveniences, and disagreements take on unearthly political significance.

 

Issues government previously ignored are suddenly threatening to bureaucrats. If the state is in charge of marriage, the immediate result would be that marriage is no longer a moral issue, but a political one. If government creates a controversial regulation on, say, raw milk or GMOs, the issue is instantly politicized; it won’t be a consumer’s choice or a simple matter of grocery store decision-making anymore. If government bans certain forms of home heating, even firewood and coal become a bitterly polemical dispute. Those who use wood-fueled furnaces can become enemies of the state; people who support traditional marriage for reasons of religion can be placed on the terrorist watch list.

 

This is yet another reason why the yoke of socialism grows heavy so quickly: it spreads exponentially, popping up in political factions like a weed and rearing its speciously attractive head in one affair here and another there, promising to solve the aggravating problems ailing humanity, yet instead failing and failing miserably. Covering up this failure does involve a great deal of censorship, and attempting to satisfy the delicate balance of big government most certainly includes the silencing of nonconformists.

 

Big government, no matter how innocent the regulations it is setting forth may seem, limits speech with its size. The freedom a man has to say what he will without a regulatory, legal, or literal lynching is in direct proportion to how intrusive and how large his government is. An all-powerful state is like a one-ton cow sitting on the chest of a man — there isn’t really a way for the man to say anything, much less go anywhere or make progress.

 

Socialism is an extremely convincing lie. It offers liberation to the working classes, safety, equality, rights, and convenience. Many people see through the façade when faced with full socialism, but interventionism seems like a bargain. Rather than delivering the compromised utopia it promises, interventionism creates a gigantic state paving the way for full socialism. It alters democracy’s essence and leaves it an empty shell of broken promises and hollow traditions.

 

As odious and vile as the curtailment of speech is perceived, many times it is introduced in a democratic form of government by a majority. By its very nature, the infringement of the right to expression is something that must be forced on one group by another, more powerful or larger, group.

 

Winston Churchill aptly put it: “Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.” In other words, government run by a majority with no restrictions is a formidable threat to free speech.

 

America (and many western nations slipping into socialism around the world) is making a hypocrite of herself. With its global paragons of democratic virtue, the west is the epitome of saying one thing and doing another; demanding free speech yet strong-arming citizens into silence.

 

In academics and politics particularly, two areas dominated by government and its cronies and the two areas where strong discussion is critical, speech is gradually becoming more and more stifled. The sort of “freedom” and “democracy” that silences its citizens is a far cry from what the nation’s founders hoped for, but not too inconceivably distant from the current situation. “Democracy” that censors and scrubs political, academic, and religious thought is a whitewashed tomb, a culture that has a concept of what is right, good, and beautiful and attempts to maintain the image of goodness while blatantly betraying those standards in academia and government.

 

The United States’ situation has a long way to go yet, before it goes the way of the Soviet Union regarding free speech – but the thing that should bother every American is that it goes this way in the first place. In the end, increasing government’s size and scope has direct ramifications on freedom of expression. The more intrusive a government’s jurisdiction is, the less freedom of speech there is: this fact has been proven hundreds of times even in the past century.

 

Americans must realize, and subsequently act upon the fact, that big government threatens more than just pocketbooks. It ultimately threatens freedom itself.

 

James Madison explained, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

 

The gradual and silent encroachments Madison mentioned have been quietly progressing for over a hundred years. As mentioned previously, Americans are still quite free in most situations to say what they want; but government’s growth and looming involvement in citizens’ lives from birth to death menaces one important part of what America’s founders held dear.

 

 

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The Truth About Robber Barons

Rachel Clark : October 13, 2014 6:05 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

During the "Gilded Age," when crony capitalism was at its height, businessmen furthering their private interests through public funding became known as robber barons -- yet leftist have essentially inverted the meaning of the term in the past 150 years.

During the “Gilded Age,” when crony capitalism was at its height, businessmen furthering their private interests through public funding became known as robber barons — yet leftist have essentially inverted the meaning of the term in the past 150 years.

Robber baron: a reprehensibly misleading term, purposefully deceptive, and definitely more than a matter of semantics.

 

Such derogatory titles for entrepreneurs and businessmen apply particularly to the giants of industry that rose up in the Gilded Age, an era of unprecedented economic growth and in its own right, an extreme amount of crony capitalism.

 

Lamentably, the term has been constituent to socialistic propaganda for over a century yet is rarely recognized for that distinction – calling private sector businessmen robber barons is something that even classical liberals have done from time to time, wittingly and unwittingly; the term has been incorporated into American speech, where it remains unnoticed, unconsidered, and unevaluated.

 

What is bothersome about such an adjectival mishap is not that millions of people mislabel something so often, but that they genuinely misunderstand the very nature of capitalism.

 

Calling businessmen robber barons is the same as saying that businessmen are marauding feudal lords subjugating citizens and initiating armed conflicts on a whim. This is, in the United States at least, grossly inaccurate.

 

In an interventionist or socialist economy (somewhat similar to a feudal or mercantilist system in that favored businessmen either wield power or influence in or over the ruthless coercive force known as the state) it would be supremely appropriate to label state cronies – in charge of the collectivized or nationalized means of production – as robber barons.

 

After all, any individual who unfairly benefits from government resources is benefiting not from conjured-up state funds with which the government has a right to do as it pleases; this individual is profiting from the hard-earned property of citizens, seized under the guise of legal plunder.

 

It would be entirely accurate to call a head of a state-owned corporation or a government-funded businessman a robber baron, and here’s why: government is sheer force, coercion, rules, mandatory action. And if anything, the fact that government is most famous for taking (in excess) what doesn’t belong to it should be an indicator that it is the institution comprised of robber barons, not private sector businesses that can only operate on the basis of persuasion, supply and demand, and natural market forces.

 

Taxing and then spending the money on private interests is deplorable in the eyes of citizens, save the citizens whose private interests are benefiting. Depriving the populace of the fruits of its labor and subsequently handing over cash to the politically favored is unjust.

 

As Thomas DiLorenzo notes, there is a difference between a political entrepreneur and a market entrepreneur. One connives, manipulates, and lobbies to exclude or stifle competition or to obtain illicit government funding; the other works to build a better product or offer a more efficient service, and thus to convince consumers that his product is the one worth buying.

The former are always essentially robber barons – the go about their business through coercion – but the latter are working through mutually beneficial exchanges, with consent from all parties involved.

 

Capitalism’s beauty lies in its freedom for the individual and mutual benefits. Mises famously said that “cotton kings” or “chocolate kings” or “automobile kings” or any type of industry leader cannot satisfy the implicit definition of the term robber baron without resorting to methods strictly outside of the free market’s bounds. In a free market, businessmen cannot force anyone to do anything without breaking the law or violating the principles of the free market itself.

 

Do robber barons say things like “the customer is always right”? Certainly not – but robber barons do, in fact, attempt to limit or ban the imports of competitors’ products, establish a licensing racket, lobby lawmakers to fund or cut their business some slack, and a host of other shady interferences in the free market.

 

In a capitalist economy, it is possible – as unfortunate as it sounds – for a participant to be financially exploited, misused, or wronged; but only if the aforementioned participant agreed to it first. If he didn’t agree, then it’s violating the inherent rights of this consumer to life, liberty, and property and thus cannot fit, legally, within the capitalist system.

 

Feudal lords and socialist taskmasters, most people will intuit, did not and do not generally ask their victims’ permission before plundering, taxing, raising prices exorbitantly, stealing land, or demanding bribes.

 

In a free market, businessmen aren’t and can’t be robber barons – in crony capitalism, feudalism, socialism, interventionism, or mercantilism, there are always robber barons. In the absence of a free market, an economy will revolve around central planning and bureaucracy. Central planning and bureaucracy always mean corruption, stagnation, and (you guessed it) the likes of robber barons: individuals using public resources to further private interests.

 

Conversely, in a free market businessmen are forced not only to ask permission, but to treat customers and employees well. Wages and working conditions must be satisfactory or the employer will be bought out and left without competent workers, or any workers at all; in capitalism, there is a financial and self-benefiting incentive to “do the right thing”; in socialism, other than the shady restrictions laid out by the state, there remains no reason to maintain a pretense of niceties – there is no competition, no alternative, no way out, and no reason to do a good job or innovate.

 

In the end, the totalitarian nickname for capitalist businessmen – the robber baron – is only applicable to socialists, crony capitalists, and yes, feudal lords, operating within their own system.

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Obama: “We don’t have a strategy yet”

Rachel Clark : September 10, 2014 9:22 pm : Politics, Spoofs

we don't have a strategy yet

President Obama wore a light tan suit for the second time in recorded history last wednesday.

WASHINGTON – After the onset of nuclear war, an epidemic of a lethal airborne respiratory virus that slowly transforms humans into rabid flying squirrels, and the beginning of the end of the world, President Obama said at a Wednesday press conference that he does not have a strategy.

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” he said, “We don’t have a strategy yet.”

He went on to explain, “We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard … but there’s no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done.”

The President later stated that he will decide when and how to take action in a couple of weeks (assuming the earth is still in existence) after he consults with top political donors and politically correct celebrities, and after several days of intense golfing.

“I can’t rush my decision,” he continued, “Whatever strategy I develop needs to be the right one, for the American people and the world.”

President Obama made no further remarks on the doomsday situation on planet earth nor on his second wearing of a light suit, noting that “it’s five o’ clock and the day is over.”

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