Posts Tagged ‘capitalism’

Can You Be Libertarian and Not A Hypocrite?

August 4, 2017

I have often heard that Libertarians and Objectivists are hypocrites, as they use tax-funded services, even though they denounce taxes.  After all, most Libertarians drive on tax-funded roads, are protected by tax-funded police and military, get their weather from a tax-funded National Weather Service, and so on.  Shouldn’t a true, non-hypocritical Libertarian abstain from using tax-funded goods and services?

As part of my daily commute, I use two separate city bus systems, as well as a commuter
train.  I watch the weather carefully (I have one degree in meteorology), so I use the National Weather Service, Storm Prediction Center, and plenty of weather satellites, indirectly.  I did my K-12, and all three college degrees at public schools, and paid for them with federal student loans.  Now, I work in public schools and a public college, funded by your tax dollars.

How then, could I be an advocate for eliminating taxes?  Isn’t that hypocritical?

No.  I was going to pay for these things anyway.  Whether or not I partake in public education has no influence on whether or not my taxes change.  Whether or not I check the weather forecast, I will pay for the weather service.  Whether or not I take public transportation, I will pay for it.

Unlike the free-market, my lack of participation in a service does not exclude my paying for it.  In the free-market, I don’t pay for things I am not using.  If enough people decide not to pay for this product, the company will either change its service, or go out of business.  Either way, I don’t have to pay for a service I do not want.

In public works, I pay either way.  And, because these services do not HAVE to make money, my choice to use the service or not has no influence on the service, or my checkbook.  Case in point:  our train is used by so few people.  There have been many train rides where I am the only occupant of my car.  A business would have to figure out what to do about this.  However, the public train keeps running.  It never actually runs out of money, as more appears from tax dollars, regardless of financial performance.  Therefore, you can run a train from Santa Fe to Belen with one rider, paying a few dollars.  The difference – my few dollars versus the diesel, engine maintenance, track maintenance, salaries, and so on – comes from everyone else.

This is why boycotting a government service on moral grounds is a losing battle.  Unlike boycotting a business, where they stand to go out of business if the boycott is large enough, a government service will continue to run in the red for a long time until the tax payers finally opt to get rid of it through legislative means.

You vowing to never drive on a public road will limit your future and your potential employment and entertainment opportunities, and you’ll pay for the road anyhow.

However, to be consistent, one must still reject the notion of a government service on the principle that you should never have to sacrifice your efforts for a “common good.”  What you cannot do, and claim consistency is to explain why your government service is necessary and moral, while another government service is not.  They are all immoral from principle.

Thank you for reading my post.

Why “Buying Local” is a Joke

July 27, 2017

Around town, there are signs and stickers and advertisements, attempting to convince all of us residents to “Buy Local” instead of driving down the hill to the larger city (in the next county, five miles away from my house) and shopping there.

There is no incentive for me to shop local.  First, taxes are lower down the hill, so my groceries are cheaper.  Second, there are more stores with better hours down the hill.  Third, the stores are better stocked, better staffed and have a better shopping experience.  Fourth, there are fewer idle police officers, writing tickets for 3 mph over the speed limit, or dirty license plates, or other giant wastes of time.

“Buy Local” is a bunch of crap.  It attempts to guilt trip you into buying a product you would not normally buy, or paying more for a product.  If your store has better produce, you don’t need a guilt trip to convince people to buy your produce.  If it has better prices, you don’t need a guilt trip to convince people to pay less.  If you provide a more convenient experience, you can charge more, and you don’t need a guilt trip to convince people to pay more for a quick stop.

Instead, the whole “Buy Local” is a bunch of guilt.  The town will either guilt you based on environmental concerns (if you buy from the local farmer’s market instead of the Walmart, you are saving all of that truck traffic), or based on community “needs” (if you buy local, you help but your neighbor’s daughter through dance lessons instead of sending money to an executive somewhere else).

In reality, if you have a better product, or some advantage (convenience, better hours, cleaner store, etc.) people will come.  They will often drive out of their way for it.

Be wary of any store that tries to convince you to buy a product on anything other than the product’s value to you.  They are simply asking you to pay more for a product than it is worth to you, based on some guilt- guilt you did not earn.  Guilt for their inferior product or inferior store.  It’s the same guilt a bum expects you to feel for “having” when they “have not.”

Walk away from those establishments until they can trade value for value.

Thank you for reading my post.

United Airlines and the Free Market

April 13, 2017

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have seen the video of the man that was beaten and dragged from the United Airlines flight.  You’ve probably seen the internet responses to this incident, including responses by rival airlines.

Unfortunately, I will give an unpopular opinion:  United was within their rights to do so.  They issued a ticket with the condition that it could be revoked at anytime.  Once it was revoked, the man’s refusal to leave was criminal tresspassing, just like the crackhead who hangs around 7-11 and is asked to leave. In both cases, you call the authorities to remove them.

Now, to a more popular opinion:  What a dreadful policy you have, United!

Thankfully, the free market has spoken.  Boycotts, hilarious parodies, and a large drop in your stock prices.  Competing airlines have offered specials to suck away your customers.

A company is allowed to make dreadful policies, such as this, but they are not protected from its effects on their bottom line.

Now, the trick will be to keep the government out of the way, and let the free market take its course.  No bailouts for struggling airlines, no new legisliation about treatment by TSA agents, no false “consumer rights” about being allowed to squat on an airplane.

Let United figure out how to reconcile this awful policy in the eyes of the free market, or let them fail.

Guaranteed Basic Income

February 16, 2017

Guaranteed Basic Income is becoming a popular topic of conversation in the news.  It is the idea that everyone, regardless of what he or she is doing (working, unemployed, etc.) is given a basic salary, just for breathing air.  The idea is that this system could replace our broken welfare system and cut out some of the overhead associated with fraud detection, and perhaps get more money to people who need it the most.

It doesn’t take a lot to see how this is just another socialist scheme.  Where does this money come from?  The government, through your taxes.  Before, we had to give the benefit of the doubt to welfare recipients, and assume that they were working or trying to find work.  Under Guaranteed Basic Income, no such assumption can be made.  You can literally be taxed to support those who do NOTHING.

Some of the smartest advocates of Guaranteed Basic Income argue that automation, not foreign competition has taken away jobs.  True, many of the manufacturing job s that have been lost over the last few years will never come back, as a machine is performing the task.  These same people argue that nearly half of all people risk losing their jobs to machines in the next ten years.  It sounds like we will all be at risk for being unemployed, and had better come up with a plan.

There are two flaws in this logic.

First, consumer goods can only sell for the price that someone is willing to pay for them.  If the entire nation is unemployed, there will be no purchasing of consumer goods, and the prices will drop. Under this doomsday scenario, eventually, people will have to produce their own goods, or at some point, it will be cheaper to hire labor again than to invest in machinery.  At least under the free market.

Also, the assumption that all things will be created entirely by machine, and, that there is nothing left to create.  The flaw is that human beings are creative, and machines are only as creative as their programmer allows.  If people have creaed machines to handle their mundane tasks, it frees up more time to be creative and invent even newer things.  Once the production of that new idea has been automated, they can move onto something else.

A guaranteed basic income’s only actual purpose is to allow folks to do nothing except consume resources, and somehow collect a paycheck.

EpiPen Controversy

December 16, 2016

I will preface this post by saying that I have not actually kept up with this controversy at all.  I know that the prices of EpiPens went up significantly and that the CEO was brought before a congressional hearing over the matter.

Here is the link to the CEO’s testimony.  What strikes me about this is that she actually apologizes for the high cost, and clarifies that the company makes only a fraction of the cost as a profit.

How dare them make any profit?  After all, their company only developed a reliable, safe method for dealing with severe allergies- something that killed around 1500 people annually.  That’s nothing, right?  They should give it away, after investing all of the time and money into research, development, testing, marketing and patenting this.

You can also watch the video here.  What is interesting about this is the CEO says they will make a generic; they get more of the profit (versus the named product), but the price will cut in half.  Congress Critter Chaffetz complains that the company is going to make a mere $25 extra profit, even though the consumer will pay HALF AS MUCH.  This proves that this entire fiasco was more about CEO pay than it was about any sort of humanitarian effort.

This video is also infuriating.  Congress Critter Watson gets all uppity about the CEO using a company jet.  *GASP*

Finally, this article sums up this entire witch hunt.  Congress Critter Norton asks, “What have you done to earn this 671% [compensation] increase?”

Well, for starters, she runs a company that saves lives every day.  What is it you do, Congress Critter Norton, besides stand in the way?  What do YOU do to earn your pay?

 

The Albuquerque Riots -Just a Rerun

May 28, 2016

As many of you know, Donald Trump spoke in Albuquerque earlier this week.  Outside a “protest” took the form of rioting and setting fires.  Not all protestors were involved or supported these actions, but plenty did.  A quick scan among my Facebook “friends” showed varying degrees of support for these actions.

But where have I seen this before?

Today, I was reading the next chapter in Capitalism:  The Unknown Ideal, by Ayn Rand, and it all made sense.  In this collection of essays and speeches, there is one titled, The Cashing-In:  The Student “Rebellion” that sums up what is happening.  The Student “Rebellion” took place on the UC Berkley campus in the 1960’s, concerning students’ rights and free speech on campus (which included soliciting funds for the Vietcong).  However, what these students were advocating was not free speech, but the “freedom” to speak whatever they wanted regardless of who owned the land.   (Rand, 295) This particular situation was a little bit muddier, as the land was state-owned property.  However, the protesters’ message was clear.

The implications of this are huge. Don’t like interracial couples?  Feel free to protest in their bedrooms.  After all, how dare them try to block your free speech?  This is what happens when we throw away property rights in the false name of “free speech.”

In the middle of this essay, Ayn Rand highlights a few of the points this “rebellion” was actually about, philosophically, and then we’ll compare it to the Trump protest:

“…there is no justification, in a civilized society, for the kind of mass civil disobedience that involves the violation of the rights of others–regardless of whether the demonstrators’ goal is good or evil.  The end does not justify the means.  No one’s rights can be secured by the violation of the rights of others.”  (Rand, 291).

“The forcible occupation [sit-ins] of another man’s property or the obstruction of a public thoroughfare is so blatant a violation of rights that an attempt to justify it becomes an abrogation of morality.  An individual has no right to do a “sit-in” in the home or office of a person he disagrees with–and he does not acquire such a  right by joining a gang.  Rights are not a matter of numbers–and there can be no such thing, in law or in morality as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob.”  (Rand, 291)

Another goal is, “To facilitate the acceptance of force, the Berkley rebels attempted to establish a special distinction between force and violence:  force, they claimed explicitly, is a proper form of social action, but violence is not.  Their definition of the terms was as follows:  coercion by means of a literal physical contact is “violence” and is reprehensible; any other way of violating rights is merely “force” and is a legitimate, peaceful method of dealing with opponents.”  (Rand, 292).  “The theoretical purpose of that grotesque absurdity is to establish a moral inversion:  to make the initiation of force moral, and the resistance to force immoral–and thus to obliterate the right of self-defense.”  (Rand, 292-293).

Just a few statements that I agree with, and we’ll apply them to the next Trump protest to see how many of them are violated.

Rand, Ayn.  Capitalism:  The Unknown Ideal.  Signet, New York, 1966.

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!

 

 

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.

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.