Archive for the ‘Capitalism’ Category

Taxes

February 26, 2016

I completed my taxes this week.  No, I don’t feel patriotic.  Thankfully, I’ll get a refund this year.

Am I being hypocritical by working in the public sector and then denouncing taxes?  Isn’t that biting the hand that feeds me? No.  I am morally opposed to taxes.  However, they are not going away any time soon, especially not because I am posting on my own politics blog.  Because of this, it is my job to turn those tax dollars into the best investment I can in my power.  I consider myself very good at my jobs.

Furthermore, the problem of tax-funded industries (such as education and transportation) often leads to other problems.  Instead of running an efficient business, one where inefficiency is punished by a decreased bottom-line, and perhaps the failure of the business, a tax-funded business is allowed to run at a loss.  For example, the schools are expected to run at a loss; and nobody cares. Instead of finding ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of education, we are allowing it to stagnate by letting it run at a loss.

In the case of transportation, I hear plenty of people discuss privatized roads as a total disaster, full of inconvenient and expensive toll-booths and so on.  In reality, the many toll-booths, inefficiencies in traffic laws, poor maintenance of too many roads, and so on is really only possible in the subsidized economy.  A private company would see a ton of toll booths as a giant expense.  Perhaps instead, they would come up with some other way of tracking your usage of the road, or perhaps go to a subscription-based program.   I admit that I am not an entrepreneuer in this field, so I don’t know what is the most efficient way.  I do know that the days of repairing the same roads over and over again (regardless of their conditions), the days of toll booth operator unions defending drunk toll booth operators, and so on would not be permitted by a free economy.

Thank you for reading my late-night rant.

Advertisements

Imagined Freedoms

February 19, 2016

Often, a politician will make up new rights.  We’ve all heard a politician talk about a “right to clean water,” or a “right to a living wage,” or a “right to a fulfilling job,” or any other such drivel.  This is a corruption of the true meaning of rights.

There is only one fundamental right for human beings; “the right to choose to think, or not.”  This means that regardless of what choices an individual makes, the only choice is “Do I think, or not?”

The corollary to this is that, while free choice can be made, one cannot avoid the consequences.  One can choose to jump off a building, but one cannot avoid the rapidly-approaching ground.

While this may seem like a trivial issue, the real problem is what ISN’T being said.  In order for there to be a “right to food,”there needs to be food to distribute.  Because food isn’t always free, and must be produced by SOMEONE, to claim such a right is to make claim to the productive work of someone else.

The original Bill of Rights was written to specify what a government cannot do.  It promises nothing; you have a right to plant a garden, but are not guaranteed to have growing plants. Your choices can help determine the output of the garden: plant seeds, water, weed, etc.   Because a government cannot legislate how many degree days this year will have, nor can it demand your garden to grow, to demand a “right to food,” requires that food appear from thin air upon the table, or that food is to be taken from a table belonging to those who have abundance.

Thank yo for reading my very-tired post.  I will revisit this topic sometime when I am not falling asleep at my computer.  Good night!

 

 

The Link Between Provincial Attitudes and Tribalism

January 29, 2016

Currently, there is a lot of support for “buying locally” and that “local” is somehow synonymous with “moral.”  There are city-wide campaigns in some areas to “shop local” or cries to, “save our small town.”

Do you wonder why your teenage boys fight?  In gangs, over girls?  You’ve taught them that the entire world ends at the city or county line.  There is no word outside of the little box called, “local.”  Without seeing the world as a large place, full of possibilities, is it hard to imagine our young folks fighting over small pieces of ghetto territory?

I will not post the link, for fear of political retaliation, but one small college town newspaper recently featured an editorial concerning candidates for the new university president.  The search committee narrowed down the applicant pool to a few candidates, but did not include one of the current school administrators.  This editorial stated that one of the biggest qualifications was this administrator’s birth city and current location- both of which were the same town as the college.  His hometown should be the qualification for his  presidency, that over the skills and experince of the other candiidates!

In reality, simply purchasing something because it was generated locally, or hiring someone because he or she lives in the area is a disgusting form of tribalism.  These types of advertising campaigns and government programs are used to substitute an imaginary moral with a value. They rely on the consumer to overlook the product itself and instead look at where the product was made.  A well-made, value-added product would not need to rely on such claims. These claims can only made by an inferior producer, with only a few notable exceptions- locally grown produce, for example, implies that it is fresher than produce brought in from another place.

To choose (or not choose) an employee or a product based on non-essentials, such as race, gender, or family history is a poor way to do business.  These things are not important to the quality of the product, or the value added.  Also, these non-essentials are not under the control of the person seling the product.  Buying from members of your “tribe” simply because they are members of your tribe is tribalism. Refusing to buy because the seller is not a member of your tribe is also tribalism.

To choose (or not choose) an employee or a product based on philosophical grounds is not a choice that stems from the quality of the product or the value added.  However, because the money you spent on the product or employee is inconsistent with the value system or may be used to actively destroy a set of values you uphold, it could be in your interest to make this choice.  Therefore, a boycott can be a moral reason for not choosing a product or employee.  Because this choice to buy or not buy is based on the choices of the seller is NOT tribalism.

So then, what about the case of “buying local” or “hiring local?”  A local product or individual is not a matter of choice- a person is born where he or she is born, and he or she has no say in the matter.  The circumstances to which a person spends their childhood is often mandated by parents, including the location of their home. Imagine the absurdity of hiring only folks that grew up in a single parent household!  Yet, somehow, when we “hire locally” we are stating that the circumstances one is born into are far more important than the value of the product!  This is clearly tribalism in its ugliest, most concealed from.

Next time you see a “shop local” sign, think back to the true meaning of these signs. “Buy from our tribe, only.”  You can replace the text in your mind with, “Only shop at white-owned stores” or “Don’t buy from the Jews” if you prefer, as these signs all mean the same thing.

Thank you for reading my post.

From Freedom to Slavery, by Gerry Spence

January 22, 2016

This book was most disappointing.  The title sounded promising, and Gerry Spence was the defense attorney for Randy Weaver.  For those of you who do not know, Randy Weaver was the separatist involved in the Ruby Ridge incident, which left his son, wife, and at least one federal officer dead, all over a shotgun barrel that was 1/4″ too short and a rescheduled trial.  During this trial, the FBI admitted to manufacturing evidence, withholding evidence, and shooting an unarmed woman while she held a baby.

There was plenty of abuses of power to write about during this trial.  However, only two chapters dealt with the trial.  The rest of the book was a long political rant about “Freedom from” which, by the way, is not really freedom.  He speaks of the “Tyranny of the Media” and the “Tyranny of Maleness” and several other topics where the end result is that capitalism is an evil religion.

Throughout the book he refers to corporations as “the New King” and says how man is enslaved to them, even though corporations are not real.  He proposes,instead that “the people” run everything; the media should be controlled by “the people.”  Which people?  Anyone claiming to be the people, I guess.  He gives examples such as “Black people” and “the teachers’ unions.”  Anyone claiming to speak for more than themselves.

He also has one chapter (“Tyranny of Viewpoint”) where he argues that trees and animals get to have a say in the way government is run, just like corporations do.

He claims that the free-market is a religion, one that enslaves everyone and convinces them that they are free.  What anti-technology, anti-capitalists have in common is their need-based standard of values.  Rather than swapping value for value, they believe that need IS the standard of value, and that by simply needing something, it should appear.

An infant can do this; a baby has no choice, and lives by the graces of his or her parents.  In this case, the value that is swapped is love and care from the parents for the happiness that the child brings, and will continue to bring in the future.  Those who believe in a need-based system of values expect to be cared for like infants for the rest of their lives.  However, as an infant swaps some value for value, a crackhead may not.  A thief, a drunkard, a bum, they may not.  We are expected to care for them anyway, and give them whatever they need.

Their claim is that they deserve freedom; freedoms that do not exist.  “Freedom from hunger” or “freedom from cold.”  At whose expense?  Food must come from somewhere.  Somewhere, someone has to labor for that food.  If this person is not willing to give it freely, how does it get distributed such that everyone is “free from hunger?”  I’ll tell you how- force.

Overall, this book was terrible.  I finished it out of determination for completion, and for no other reason.

Thank you for reading my post, and don’t bother with reading this book.  I give it two middle fingers up.

Our Smith’s is Closing

December 10, 2015

Our local Smith’s grocery store is closing. There is a giant effort to keep them in town, and the reasoning is completely terrible. Smith’s decided to close their store. Whatever their reasons are perfectly acceptable, as it is their business.

The locals around here are passing around a petition to keep the store open. Some are well intentioned; they took it for granted that there was a Smith’s in town, and now they vow to shop there always and forever. Those are mistaken.

More disappointing are those that feel they have some right to a Smith’s. They demand that Smith’s exist for their benefit. I’ve heard arguments about how, “Smith’s owes them service,” or that “Smith’s needs to supply” them. They insist that Smith’s be willing to run at a loss rather than close up shop.

I’ve also heard folks claim that Walmart has run Smith’s out of business, and if it wasn’t for Walmart, the town would be better off. Wrong again. Competition is always, always a good thing. Walmart showed up and other stores either had to step up their game, or pack their bags. Smith’s chose to pack its bags.

This, and all other “save our small town store” movements typically follow one of these two formats: 1) we are owed a store or 2) big, evil corporation ruins everyone’s lives.

I’m sad to see Smith’s go, but it’s their decision. And it’s long past final.

Why I Don’t Care About Water

July 3, 2015

Actually, I do. I like drinking clean, clear water, even way out here in the desert southwest. I like taking a shower every morning, watering my garden and very occasionally, washing my car.

So then, why do I write this title?

There’s a hilarious trick happening, and we’re all falling for it. We all know the statistics and the facts. We know that a person will die in three days without water. We know that corn requires x water to grow, and that a steak needs so many gallons to go from a calf to my belly.

The trick is that we are told that we will “run out of” water.

I will start out by saying that it is a great trick; over 2/3 of the planet’s surface is covered with it, and any water molecules we consume end up back in the hydrologic cycle, meaning that 2/3 is still there.

How is it we risk “running out?”

We can’t drink or use just any water. Most of the water on the planet is salt water, and is not fit for drinking. Which leaves us with fresh water. Some of that is locked up in glacial ice, polluted, diseased, or trapped in the ground. A very small percentage is tied up as water vapor in the atmosphere.

This leaves only a small fraction left for drinking, irrigating, washing, and industrial uses.

One of the most important aquifers (groundwater sources) in the United States is the Ogallala Aquifer (sometimes called the High Plains Aquifer), which runs north to south, right along the very spine of our fertile, food-growing land. Farmers from Wyoming to Texas use this water to irrigate their lands.

The water is being pumped out much faster than it is being recharged through rain. Unfortunately, the majority of the precipitation in this region falls during the heaviest growing season, meaning much of it is absorbed by plants, rather than being used to recharge the aquifer.

The doomsday scenario sounds very realistic, and, under certain conditions, could be. Wars fought over water rights. Widespread famine due to drought-like conditions. Disease due to lack of sanitation. The very breadbasket of our country could be a desert!

Environmentalists would like you to stop there. The only solution, they say, is to put wise people in charge of regulating who can have what water, lest we all run out of water.

Knowing that I need water, or in three days, I will die, it is tempting to turn to the government for help. We are presented with two options: die or have the government regulate the water and save us.

It is a false alternative.

What would happen if the High Plains Aquifer dried up? What happens when an agricultural land is no longer fit for farming? PEOPLE ADAPT. Yes, that’s right. In a free society, when conditions are better somewhere else, they move away.

But what about the food? Well, it will need to come from another source. What is that source? I don’t know. However, as the Great Plains dries up as a food source, I bet some entrepreneuers will start thinking about it.

What about the water? We have countless ways (and can develop more ways) of cleaning up water. We can distill polluted water, desalinate salt water, melt ice, filter and UV treat questionable water and so on. It is more expensive than drinking it directly from the ground, but much safer. We can transport it by pipeline (we do this with oil, electricity, and natural gas anyway).

Water will be more expensive in the future. Food will be as well. However, there is a bigger expense in the regulation.

By allowing someone else to regulate your water supply, and what you can pump into your home, you are allowing them to control your life. Without their approval, you die in three days.

Ok, maybe I’ve gone to hyperbole. We’re just talking about some minor water restrictions, thought up by smart people who know about hydrology.

By allowing the government to determine if and when you are allowed to water your garden, you are submitting your food supply to their control.

Maybe you were talking about watering flowers or washing cars. Then it’s not a matter of survival. Then it’s ok to regulate water usage?

No. If there is water to purchase and I purchase it (buy it from a source or buy the well or storage apparatus, etc.), then it is my property. I am free to waste it if I so choose. I am free to break my phone if I get angry at it, free to crush my car, free to bulldoze my house, even if you view it as a waste.

I’m not advocating wasting water. I water my garden before sunrise, when the air is at its maximum humidity. I reuse some water through a gray water system for trees and plants. All of this is in an effort to drive my costs down. I do not own a well, so I must buy it from someone else.

I haven’t worked through all of water rights yet; if you build a well next to my well, and my well no longer works because of how much you withdraw, I am not sure of the best moral way to calculate the property rights here. I wrote this to dismiss the stupid idea that we are “running out of water.”

Thank you for reading my post.

Surfers Bully Billionaire

September 29, 2014

It has been a long time since I posted on this blog. There have been plenty of topics worth posting about, but today’s topic grabbed me and forced me to write.

A few days ago, a California court ruled against property rights and in favor of the collective. The court ruled that a venture capitalist, Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, could not prevent “the public” from crossing his beachfront property to get to a public beach.

Facebook and other social media outlets have been calling this a great ruling for “the 99%”, with headlines like “Surfers Beat Billionaire”. Rather than shredding all of the articles, I will just evaluate the article featured in Time, found here.

The first paragraph reads “…pitted the surfers who cross the property against the billionaire who owns it.” Replace the word “surfers” with “trespassers”, as that is what was actually happening. Surfers sounds nicer, perhaps like your son, grandson. It is a package deal; the first time you read it, you think that the billionaire is persecuting surfers instead of trespassers. Because surfing is not actually a crime, and you know that, you already think of the billionaire as some sort of surfer-hating stick-in-the-mud.

The court case came about because the property manager blocked access to Martins Beach. The beach was open to the public, at the land owner’s convenience, and for a fee. Instead, of being grateful for allowing the public onto his property, he received a letter from the county demanding that his gate be left open all the time, every single day. His property manager closed the beach in response.

Let’s look at several aspects of this. First, it is HIS property. He should not be required to allow access to his property. That is a blatant violation of property rights. If I need to walk to my friend’s house, I can’t demand that you let me cut through your kitchen to get there.

Second, let’s look at the liability of this situation. If someone gets hurt surfing, traversing his property, etc., will Khosla be held liable? YOU BET! It’s like having a swimming pool in your yard, and your neighbors getting drunk, demanding to swim in it, then suing you when one of them dives in the shallow end.

The organization that was suing, the Surfrider foundation, had this to say about Khosla, “ “[Kholsa] believes that he can find a way to use his wealth and power to strong-arm the situation,” says Chad Nelsen, environmental director of the Surfrider Foundation.” Who knew kicking people off your land was “strong-arming the situation” ? These are such loaded words.

The next paragraph was about Khosla’s legal fight. He had no plans to build a home there, but correctly asserted his property rights. The only reason this was included in the article at all was to show that he didn’t “need” to do this for any reason of privacy. However, his “needs” are not up to the courts to decide. He closed his property in accordance with his rights, plain and simple.

The next several paragraphs discuss which socialist ruling or edict has been used to terrorize this land owner, and others like him, in the past. There is also a paragraph about the greatness of Martins Beach. It is presented to show you what the evil capitalist is taking from you.

Later, the article discusses how there was a small fee for parking, but once again, evil capitalism created a sign that reads $15 for parking. Part of the ruling was that he could only charge $2 for parking, just like in 1973. Not only did this man give up access to his own property, but he lost the right to charge what his property was worth to him.

The next part is scary as well. Five trespassers started this case by jumping the gate (many have), and the District Attorney refused to prosecute them. Imagine the scenario of people breaking into your property and the LEGAL SYSTEM REFUSES TO HELP YOU.

This article was meant to show a victory for the little guy against the rich. Instead, it revealed exactly how little legal protection the rich have in this country. It showed that your property is not yours, but subject to any bullying by the public, and if the public can find a use for it- they can just take it.

The final paragraph sums up the cry of the collectivists. The quote is that “The Surfrider Foundation remains vigilant to protect beach access rights, not only in this case, but also in other cases where it is wrongfully cut off from the public.” In other words, they will make sure that the public has access to whatever they want, whenever they want, your property rights be damned.

Walmart and the Press

June 25, 2014

I have no idea if http://m.washingtonexaminer.com/article/2550063/ is real or not, but I certainly hope it is.

The author of the original article demonstrates how badly “the rich” and “the corporations” are portrayed in the mainstream media.

Part of the problem is Warren Buffet’s statement on how his secretary pays more taxes than he does.  Actually, this is a mistake. His secretary pays a higher PERCENTAGE of his income than he does.  Don’t kid yourself into thinking his poor little secretary pays more actual dollars to the taxman.   Somehow this misconception has been overlooked in the mainstream media.

Actually, these articles are all wrong.  It is not the duty of the rich or any for-profit organization to create jobs or decrease the gap between the rich and poor. Their only duty is to make money, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Who are you to micro-manage their payroll?   Who are you to decide how much workers “should” be paid for the jobs that need to be done?  

If you are the one offering the job, you have the right to set how much you pay for the job.  If nobody signs up to do it, you’ll either have to pay better, or do the job yourself.  There is nothing wrong with that.  

More on “The Poor”

June 24, 2014

I made the mistake of reading CNN this morning.  My eyes were unfortunately drawn to this article.

I hate these articles. I hate everything about them. They try to show how tough it is for the poor in hopes that you will blame the rich. Not to pick on these folks, as I have not lived in their shoes directly. I am going to point out that either the victim mentality is terrible, or CNN has crappy writers who are not really pulling out their stories. Let’s take a look at the nine victims (one of which is from the town where I live):

1. “She takes two buses to get to work — a trip that takes more than an hour each way — and considers herself lucky if she gets 30 hours of work a week.” My commute is an hour and a half drive one way. Or, if I don’t feel like driving, I can take two buses and a train for a one way commute of three hours.

2. “‘I was almost better off before the raise,’ she said. She has since found a job paying $20 an hour, but making ends meet still isn’t easy.” Killer. You make $2.50 more an hour than me, and I hold a master’s degree in engineering, and you are complaining that it’s still too hard.

3. “I go out and volunteer with [nonprofit advocacy group] OurDC — we fight for things like minimum wage [increases] and try to get some of these Congress people to do something, because you can’t live off $8 or $9 an hour.” Broke, near homeless, “applying for jobs”, but plenty of time to protest the minimum wage you aren’t receiving (because you’re not working). If she wins, and minimum wage increases, her cost of living will go up, but not her fixed income. Wonder if she knows that…

4. “Andrew doesn’t get to see his wife or son after 9 p.m. each night. This puts a strain on Kristen, since their son suffers from severe attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and she could use Andrew’s help putting him to bed.” For real? My girlfriend and I bounced between the night shifts (every night, one of us was at the factory) and we saw each other practically none. Oh yeah, and our son has ADHD and Asperger Syndrome. Try harder, obvious troll.

5. “they were also finally able to move out of their mice-infested house into a Section 8 home that costs them only $30 per month in rent (though that will increase now that they both found work).” Wait….. $30 a month for housing? Where is the rest of your money going? The quote also exemplifies the problem stated earlier- you are punished for working more. Now that these poor folks have found work and made themselves productive members of society, they’ll pay more for the same house as someone who does nothing all day.

6. “…with the hope of achieving the ‘American Dream’ and finding a better way to support her mother and two children.
But the only jobs she has been able to find have paid minimum wage.” What do you bring to the table? A desire to achieve the “American Dream?” That is not a marketable skill. No fair saying you should be paid more without any marketable skill. The article goes on to say that she’s worked 13 years in the same position. If you are skilled- leave. Find some place that will appreciate your skill. If you are not up-skilling, don’t expect a bigger paycheck.

7. “…earns a mere $18,000 a year. Her husband, meanwhile, makes about $45,000 as a construction manager.” “They currently have about $11,000 in student loan debt.” Super. I have $35,000 in student loan debt, my girlfriend has another $12,000, and they make about $15,000 more than we do a year. Oh, but I bet all three kids have smart phones, and I bet they have cable/satellite TV. We don’t. We don’t drink, either. My car has 319,000 miles on it, and my girlfriends is a “baby” with only 150,000 and no air conditioning. We spend money on vacations- vacations that we can do on the cheap. When we are bored, we go to our bookshelf and select a book.

8. “But working and going to school means that she’s out of the house for 17 hours a day several times a week.” Tragic, I know. Except for two years, I was out of the house 24 hours a day every Wednesday (at two different jobs, while going to school), and would have been out for more (15.5 hours every day), except that I found it was cheaper to stay with my brother (out of my house 24 hours a day, 3 days a week) than to commute. Also, complain to some soldiers who are out of their house for 24 hours a day for their deployments. I’m sure they’ll agree you need more money to be a hotel security guard.

9. “He says he’s scared to ask for a raise because he’s worried that they will let him go and find someone else willing to take the low wage.” Too scared to talk to his boss, but not too scared to protest for higher minimum wage (the photo used for this article is him doing so), or to go on national news and complain about it.

In spite of what you may think, this article is not set up to shred these folks- I am merely highlighting that these difficulties can be overcome. None of this is easy, but the sooner everyone drops the “victim” mentality that is brought about by reports like this, the sooner EVERYONE can view their life something to be cherished and improved, instead of waiting for someone else to make it better.

We could think of our lives the same way: Asperger/ADHD child born to us when we were 20 years old, took out too many loans, working long hours for minimum pay, health troubles (girlfriend and son allergic to wheat, soy, milk, potato, and a dozen common ingredients in all prepackaged food, I have a thyroid disorder, rheumatoid arthritis and diagnosed narcolepsy).

Instead of playing the victim, we organized. For a while, we lived on $30 a week for all groceries. No TV, old cars that we used infrequently to save gas, etc. We grew vegetables to supplement our grocery budget- but frozen vegetables are cheap. We cowboy’d/cowgirl’d up. We skilled up. We learned and educated up. We saw opportunities when others saw problems. We lived within our means.

Stop being a victim. It will never, ever benefit you. Every time you hear sad music in your head about your current situation, tell it to stop!