Saturday, February 23, 2013

Explaining Left and Right

Here is a set of videos with Dr. Walter Block where he tries to explain how certain parties can be called "Right Wing" and still express every trait of the Left.  While it is a great primer for what is wrong with the way the media and academia describe the political spectrum, he leaves to the viewer any sort of workable framework.
Part 1
Part Two

Part Three

Over the years, I have grown a renewed interest in the straight line graphic.  Working on a version now.

Here is the first draft of the graph, nothing special yet:
Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ann Coulter Blows It

Ann Coulter Battles Stossel, Calls Libertarians ‘Pussies,’ And Gets Booed By Room Full Of Students

I don't know what's up with Ann Coulter these days.  Maybe she just doesn't like freedom.  John Stossel didn't do much better on the marriage issue either.

From the Mediate article, Coulter said about libertarians:
“We’re living in a country that is 70-percent socialist, the government takes 60 percent of your money. They are taking care of your health care, of your pensions. They’re telling you who you can hire, what the regulations will be. And you want to suck up to your little liberal friends and say, ‘Oh, but we want to legalize pot.’ You know, if you’re a little more manly you would tell them what your position on employment discrimination is. How about that? But it’s always ‘We want to legalize pot.’”
While this might be true about the Reason Foundation branch of libertarians of which John Stossel is certainly a member, the comment approaches straw-man proportions. Yes, those libertarians often frame the drug issue in exactly that way, rather than citing specific laws for repeal, like the Harrison Act.  They use that fuzzy term "we want to legalize" which, to our friends on the Left, just means more laws, more regulation and more taxes.

The article quotes a later exchange with an audience member:
“How is it any of your business what I choose to put in my body if I’m not affecting anyone else?” one student asked during the Q&A, prompting the crowd to give a standing ovation. 
“First of all, for alleged individualists, you’re very mob-like,” Coulter snarked. “Second of all, it is my business because we are living in a welfare state … Right now, I have to pay for, it turns out, coming down the pike, your health care. I have to pay for your unemployment when you can’t hold a job. I have to pay for your food, for your housing. Yeah, it’s my business!”

With a perfect opportunity to express a mildly conservative stance, that the government healthcare bureaucracy is going to do more damage to your liberty and privacy than any 'evil Rightwinger', she answers with the Leftist position: The answer to bad regulation is more regulation.  She does not even go into the conservative utopia territory of "Well, if we didn't have this welfare state making your drug use even more expensive for the rest of us we might be able to talk about that, but . . ."

Then the conversation turned to marriage:
Stossel then asked: “Why can’t gays get married?” 
“Well, they can,” Coulter replied. “They have to marry a member of the opposite sex.” The room filled with boos. 
“This is another one where you’re just sucking up to liberals when there are big fights,” Coulter explained. 
“No, we believe the individual should be left alone,” Stossel shot back. 
“Marriage is the most important institution to civilize young people. I’d make divorce a lot more difficult,” she said. “Liberals want to destroy the family,” she continued, eliciting jeers and mocking laughter from the students.
If John Stossel wants the individual to be left alone, why is he supporting the government license of marriage position?  If he supported that, the question would have been along the lines of "Why can't we repeal the marriage laws?"

Coulter blows that one as big as Stossel.  The fact is, the Catholic Church invented marriage licensing for western civilization and governments adopted it from them.  Licensing is always a restriction of freedom, it is never an expansion of freedom.  If John Stossel's position were taken to its logical conclusion, everybody but hermits would be paying a marriage tax and a divorce tax when they found new partners.

What happened there was both sides took the political Left view of wanting the club of government to do their social work for them.

Even though a libertarian was on the stage, no libertarian positions were voiced.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

End Corporate Welfare!

This topic seems to be making a resurgence in my communications circles.  Oddly, it was a libertarian topic that I expressed "libertarian purity" on before I knew how to spell libertarian.

For one thing, many of the people who bring it up as a gripe topic have no idea what it actually is.  Public/private partnerships are National Socialism, or Fascism if you will.  It is what Mussolini used to become wildly popular with on the the Left.  It is what he used to become wildly popular with business leaders who wanted special government protection too.  It had its roots in Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party, but Mussolini and Franklin Delano Roosevelt took it to new levels only imagined by Teddy Roosevelt.

Leftists, and those educated by them, talk about "subsidies" for companies, when they really mean industry specific tax structures that exist for all businesses.  The mention defense contractors, which are really no different from any other government vendor and they are subject to more regulation than you average government supplier.  All of that can be put aside when a libertarian pipes up, "End all of it."  But it does not get put aside, because we libertarians want to end all of it, not merely use the club of government to beat up a different list of victims.

A litmus test of sorts is to mention the Public Broadcast System (PBS) or National Public Radio (NPR) in the discussion.  PBS is certainly not the largest, but is probably the most obvious corporate welfare scheme in America.

The short version of the way PBS works is the government has a big pot of money that came from taxpayers, that individuals in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and other government organizations hand out to groups of people (corporations) for products that they cannot sell anyplace else.  Or, at least they cannot sell them for the price that CPB/PBS pays.  For 2013, that pot of money amounted to $446 million dollars.  Of that, the people running the show say they plan on giving out $98 million in television and radio programming grants.

Not only is PBS an example of corporate welfare, it is also an example of public/private partnership where government is the senior partner.  In government/private partnerships, government is always the senior partner.  The little commercials you see and hear at the end of PBS/NPR shows are from sponsors of those shows.  Ever hear of the Texaco® Star Theater from the 1940s and 50s? Same thing, except with PBS/NPR it is a tax deduction and the bureaucrats have the majority say on how those donations are added to the involuntary taxpayer money taken from the rest of us and spent.

There was an issue during the last presidential campaign where the two biggest parties were quibbling over just one character on just one PBS show, Big Bird®, and if he should or should not be sent packing.  On cue, the Democrat supporters of this National Socialism ran to the rescue of Big Bird with the defense: That won't balance the budget.  Of course, you can never balance a budget if you have limited income and refuse to cut spending.  You had to get a bit over to the Right before you heard anybody bringing up relevant information, like the fact that the Sesame Street® brand makes plenty of money on its own and would likely find a new television home if PBS shut down at the close of business on any given day.

But what of the shows that would not exist anywhere if it were not for PBS and NPR?  It is really hard to believe that there are any of those at all.  Just look at this blog.  It exists, yet it has hardly any viewers.  Am I making a living off of it?  No, and even if I had ads on it I would not be making a living off of it either since advertisers pay for views.  However, if I read it aloud and got a big NPR welfare check for my trouble, I might be living a very comfortable life without any larger audience at all.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Title - The Anarchist's Soufflé Book

Time to start outlining The Anarchist's Soufflé Book TM.  Already have two very successful friends from high school who consented to interviews, one opened up my brain to the true meaning of the 2nd Amendment around 1978.  Trying to think of more people to ask.  The tough thing is so many of the people I know have very interesting things to tell, but I do not have infinite time to badger them all into talking to me.

Already have the front cover, plus my own spiffy imprint logo.  Now for something to put inside.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Why Nazism Was Socialism and Why Socialism is Totalitarian | George Reisman

The senior and adjunct faculty of the Mises Institute discuss the history, theory, and contemporary meaning of the fascist temptation, and what the Austrian economists are doing to combat it. Mises Institute Supporters Summit 2005, October 7-8, Auburn, Alabama.
George Gerald Reisman is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Pepperdine University and author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (1996). He is also the author of an earlier book, The Government Against the Economy (1979), which was praised by F.A. Hayek and Henry Hazlitt.
Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blog 'Splaination and Dr. Walter Block Explains Austrian Economics

If you, my few elite, self-selected visitors are still wondering about the blog title, here is Dr. Block to explain the first half of it:
The second half is pretty simple, and maybe I should have used Anarchism, but Anarchy sounded better to me:
Look at me, my personal Anarchism logo!
1: a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups
2: the advocacy or practice of anarchistic principles 
This is what it ain't (from 1828 Webster's):
anarchyAN'ARCHY, n. [Gr. rule.]
Want of government; a state of society, when there is no law or supreme power, or when the laws are not efficient, and individuals do what they please with impunity; political confusion.
 Ⓐ Steve 

Decriminalization of Unlicensed Heterosexual Coupling

Coat of arms or logo
Patrick Henry in the House of Burgesses by Peter F. Rothermel
An interesting set of stories this week.  First, Virginia is contemplating decriminalization of unlicensed heterosexual coupling.  Here is the old law, just in case anybody is unclear of which I speak:
§ 18.2-345. Lewd and lascivious cohabitation.

If any persons, not married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together, or, whether married or not, be guilty of open and gross lewdness and lasciviousness, each of them shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor; and upon a repetition of the offense, and conviction thereof, each of them shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(Code 1950, § 18.1-193; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.)
Here we have a beautiful instance of the people doing what is natural, no matter what sort of stupid laws their overseers concoct.  Marriage licensing entered Western Civilization through the Catholic Church, in the 13th century.  Pretty recent as far as recorded human history goes.  However, throughout the history of bureaucratic tape, couples have lived together as married without the paperwork the whole time.  And it is not like people who had the paperwork behaved monogamously if they did not feel like it anyway.

In North America, the State of Massachusetts began licensing marriage in the early 17th century.  It did not take long for the States to use this licensing scheme for racial discrimination that lasted into the 1960's

Today, marriage licensing is used to discriminate in the field of government giveaways.  If a couple possesses a magic marriage permission slip, then they are eligible for the "survivor benefits" lottery, where everybody with a ticket wins!  During World War II there were instances of women marrying men who were on their way to war, several times without bothering with divorces, and receiving federal money for their trouble.  I've never pinned down just how widespread this practice was.  For all anybody knows, it could have just been one instance and the story spread, or it could have been just a handful out of many who were caught.

The federal marriage lottery offers much explanation for a whole community that, until recently, demanded the government stay out of their bedroom: The homosexual community.  Suddenly, when government giveaways are involved, this same 4% of the US population now demands government permission slips for whom they are allowed to have in their bedroom.  In case you did not know, that is the primary function of the licensed marriage.  The people you are allowed intimate relations with are listed on the license.

And now for the other interesting story of the day: Same-sex military couples to get expanded access to benefits, Pentagon says
The Pentagon announced Monday that it would extend additional benefits to same-sex military couples, including access to base facilities and groups as well as joint assignments, the latest move by the Obama administration to heed calls from gays and lesbians pressing for change.

Activists hailed the move as a meaningful step toward full equality, which they say will remain elusive unless a 1996 federal law that defines marriage as a heterosexual union is repealed. The additional 20 benefits do not include health-care coverage for same-sex spouses or on-base housing privileges.
None of these benefits are being "extended" to heterosexual couples who did not visit a courthouse for a permission slip, the same permission slip that homosexual couples can obtain in any of nine States, and counting, i.e., it is no longer a paperwork problem for any couple to gain a permission slip for the feds to look at and check a block.

Perhaps the military will catch up to Virginia in the next century.  Only time will tell.  If you want equality, repeal the laws that make us unequal, rather than enacting new laws that merely shift inequality around.

Related post here.
Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Private Owned Roads or Government Roads?

On 26 January 2009, Loyola University New Orleans and Senior Fellow with the Ludwig von Mises Institute Professor Walter Block participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Federalist Society, University of Tennessee College of Law, 26 January 2009.

James Jerome Hill 
My points of disagreement with Dr. Block:
  • We have privately owned roads that are open to the general public, or to selected portions of the public, all over the place.  They exist in residential subdivisions, townhouse clusters, shopping complexes, industrial parks, and other places.  The "problem" is how to connect them.
  • In this area of the country if one is to generate additional traffic on a public road, they are forced to pay for improvements to that road without the benefit of ownership.
  • We already have new road construction and/or improvement where the property owners along the road are assessed fees for improvements or construction.  One problem there is even though a business owner did pay for the stretch of road in front of his store, the government still owns it.  If the road comes with a sidewalk, the shopkeeper might even be held liable if anybody is injured on it due to ice or other factors, even though the government owns it.
  • One solution is to leave the ownership of all these roads, that the people closest to them are forced to pay extra for, in the hands of the people being charged for them.
  • On the issue of building long, thin things, like roads, and having to purchase right-of-way being a problem: James J. Hill seemed to figure a way around this problem when he constructed the Great Northern Railway.  It was completed in 1893.  If he could figure out how to get a steam engine drawn train from the Atlantic to the Pacific without going "over or under" land that people did not want to sell, lease, or otherwise let others cross then any self-respecting libertarian Anarcho-Capitalist of the 21st century should be able to figure out that problem without a trespass.
  • Highways could operate on the James Hill model.
Ⓐ Steve 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Crock of Crap that Launched a Thousand Regulations

The Jungle, be the load of crap of which I speak

Of Meat and Myth

Read the whole thing here.  Some choice cuts:
The Jungle was, first and foremost, a novel. As is indicated by the fact that the book originally appeared as a serialization in the socialist journal “Appeal to Reason,” it was intended to be a polemic—a diatribe, if you will—not a well-researched and dispassionate documentary. Sinclair relied heavily both on his own imagination and on the hearsay of others. He did not even pretend that he had actually witnessed the horrendous conditions he ascribed to Chicago packinghouses, nor to have verified them, nor to have derived them from any official records.

Sinclair hoped the book would ignite a powerful socialist movement on behalf of America’s workers. The public’s attention focused instead on his fewer than a dozen pages of supposed descriptions of unsanitary conditions in the meat-packing plants. “I aimed at the public’s heart,” he later wrote, “and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”
Also . . .
When the sensational accusations of The Jungle became worldwide news, foreign purchases of American meat were cut in half and the meat packers looked for new regulations to give their markets a calming sense of security. The only congressional hearings on what ultimately became the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 were held by Congressman James Wadsworth’s Agriculture Committee between June 6 and 11. A careful reading of the deliberations of the Wadsworth committee and the subsequent floor debate leads inexorably to one conclusion: knowing that a new law would allay public fears fanned by The Jungle, bring smaller rivals under controls, and put a newly laundered government seal of approval on their products, the major meat packers strongly endorsed the proposed act and only quibbled over who should pay for it.  
In the end, Americans got a new federal meat inspection law, the big packers got the taxpayers to pick up the entire $3 million price tag for its implementation, as well as new regulations on the competition, and another myth entered the annals of anti-market dogma.

To his credit, Sinclair actually opposed the law because he saw it for what it really was—a boon for the big meat packers. He had been a fool and a sucker who ended up being used by the very industry he hated. But then, there may not have been an industry that he didn’t hate.
Ⓐ Steve 

Hack Your Showerhead (and other cool stuff)

Hack Your Showerhead by Jeffrey A. Tucker
Read the whole thing at LFB.Org
Ⓐ Steve 

Anarchy at the Convenience Store

Have you ever purchased an item at the store, paid cash, not exchanged a word, and left fully satisfied?  Happens all the time, right?

Was there any government overseer looking over the shoulder of you or the cashier making sure everything was "fair"?  Of course not.  Many will say that these transactions happen "in the shadow of an overseeing government" and that is why people behave in a fair manner, which is really not true.  People behave this way because there are social checks against bad behavior.

In the following video, Professor Peter Leeson speaks about anarchy, both the underlying, invisible anarchy of our daily lives, as well as the well regulated sort that has been in place ever since wooden ships circled the globe.

One quibble, when Professor Leeson speaks of having dinner and not making a "contract", I find that his premise is off when he says a contract was not made.  As a proud student of Dr. Art Stowers, as well as Dr. Allen Reagle, for my University of Tennessee Business Law courses, I am here to tell you that you made a contract every time you made a transaction.  If it is unwritten, it is a verbal contract even if no verbals were exchanged.

Professor Leeson does continue with his example and ask the audience if they have ever taken a restaurant owner to court over anything and the answer was no, primarily because the costs of going to court over the wrong order are so much greater than merely telling others of their bad experience and not returning.

Don't take my sometimes inaccurate memory for it, take a look at what the experts have to say:
In the United States, verbal contracts will usually refer to unwritten or oral contracts. An unwritten contract will usually mean that the contract or agreement was made through the use of spoken words as opposed to formally writing and entering into record the provisions of said contract.
Simple Guide to Verbal Contracts - Laws.Com
What we usually deal with in our everyday lives is the anarchy of self governance.  Far from a chaotic situation, it is a situation of order brought through customs evolved over the centuries.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Plans for this blog

Just a general idea for now.

I thought I'd start off with the anarchy that we live in every day in America, and then introduce how the actions of government (not that of those elected souls, the real government of bureaucrats, regulators, and overseers) muddy the waters.

How the basics of real Economics, of the Austrian variety, will be noted throughout.  Of course, comparatives with other Economic philosophies will be included, with liberal examples of Marx and Keynes.

Hoping to make some YouTube video with people I know from around town.  Some strangers would be fun too.

Until then, happy commerce!

Ⓐ Steve