Author Archives: Ryan Craig

The Lack of Critical Thought in the "Occupy Wall Street" Movement

I am a conservative-libertarian not because of a belief, but because that is where I have found the most critical thought occurs. Philosophies beget ideas which beget actions, and actions have consequences, both seen and unseen. Over the course of many years of studying politics, I have long come to the conclusion that the Leftist philosophies draw the irrational people far more than those on the right. Yes, both sides have their crazies, but there are far more on the Left, and it is why those n the Left are so dangerous: They make laws which strip people of liberty and the fruits of their labor and ignore the effects their policies have.

The subject of today’s lesson is the “Occupy Wall Street” (OWS) crowd. For a primer on the subject from other CDN writers, check out pieces by Deanna Lutz, DJ Redman, Michael J. Fell, and Kira Davis. I am taking a different approach, pointing out their absurdity by usng their own words.

First, an advisory. Reading one of their list of demands could cause an aneurysm, heart attack, liver failure, restless leg syndrome, port wine stains, and colon spasms, but no worries. i will help guide you through this quagmire of irrationality and outright savagery. Grab your beverage of choice and we shall begin…

Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending “Freetrade” by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.

Their first demand, and we will see this pattern with the rest, is a clear example of a lack of critical thought. Getting rid of onerous regulations is completely ignored, and they do not seem to be worried that raising the minimum wage to $20/hr would make goods so expensive nobody would be able to afford to buy them. Why stop at $20? Why not go to $30? $40? $50? Why, if everyone was making $50/hr, then nobody would be poor.

We’ll set aside the notion that the minimum wage should not exist as a law and focus on what the minimum wage is. The minimum wage is what is paid to people with no skills and no experience. If you are 30 years old and can only command a minimum wage salary, you have made some bad decisions in your life. Forcing other people to pay for your bad decisions is immoral. I would add that a high school kid stocking shelves after school does not require a “living wage,” which is an arbitrary number based on whom you ask.

Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors.

Paid for by whom? If they actually believe that the healthcare market’s only rule is to “take money away from doctors, nurses, and hospitals,” then they have not bothered to read the Obamacare bill which, among other things, instituted an arbitrary $50,000 tax on hospitals.

Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.

Since they already defined a living wage as $20/hr, this means people can collect that wage for sitting at home. Again, paid for by whom? No answer.

Demand four: Free college education.

i suppose we are to shackle educators to desks and force them to teach for free? I thought we fought a war a century and a half ago that settled the question of slavery, but I could be wrong.

Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.

Here we can see they are wanting to take us back to the 18th century. The “fossil fuel economy” has led to the greatest advancements of mankind, the greatest jump in individual liberties, and at the fastest pace seen in history. Not one of the alternative energy sources, save for geothermal, can even begin to match fossil fuels in terms of efficiency, power, or potential…but none of this matters. We apparently need “green jobs,” even though that has proven to be a bust.

Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.

This has actually been bothering me for a while, especially since President Obama announced his jobs bill and went around pitching it in front of bridges. Most infrastructure is handled by the states, as it should be since the states know best which projects should be prioritized. I have driven across Missouri and into Illinois twice in the past two weeks (along I-70) and counted a dozen projects being done by both MO and IL departments of transportation. Infrastructure projects are underway…and none of them had any signs up showing the were a part of any federal government grant.

Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America’s nuclear power plants.

Now we are at our second trillion dollars without mentioning who is to pay for it all. Never mind asking people to plant a tree. They would rather politician take money from you and then hire someone to plant it, and at a “living wage.”  That part about nuclear power plants boggles me, given that nuclear power is the most efficient power source available AND has the least environmental impact. Even the Fukishima plant withstood the earthquake and Tsunami; the diesel generator that ran the cooling was what was damaged and caused the meltdown.

Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.

They apparently missed civics class when the 14th and 19th Amendments were discussed, not to mention the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1870, 1871, 1875, 1957, 1964, 1968, 1991, etc.

Demand nine: Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live.

While there is a libertarian argument to be made for the free flow of labor and capital, no borders means no sovereignty. What is to stop any other country from simply walking in and taking whatever they want?

Demand ten: Bring American elections up to international standards of a paper ballot precinct counted and recounted in front of an independent and party observers system.

America set the standard of democratic elections. Giving legitimacy to a set of standards devised and voted as legitimate by nations such as Russia, China, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe is a slap in the face. Never mind that the OWS crowd is suddenly giving legitimacy to the very nations it wants to impose a trade war with in their first demand.

Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the “Books.” World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the “Books.” And I don’t mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.

Translation: Buy what you want, live beyond your means, then stick it to the people you depend upon to give you access to all of those things.

Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.

While some of the credit reporting regulations are onerous and lack sense, such as a simple credit check causing you to lose points on your rating, such a move would deny lenders the ability to gauge whether someone has a history of paying back their loans. We should all go to NYC and start asking the protesters for money and then promising to pay it back. Then, when they ask how we can be trusted, we can simply cite this demand.

Demand thirteen: Allow all workers to sign a ballot at any time during a union organizing campaign or at any time that represents their yeah or nay to having a union represent them in collective bargaining or to form a union.

This one is not clear, though I imagine it has something to do with right-to-work states. They do not bother to mention the enormous problems unions have caused in terms of America’s ability to compete with the rest of the world (i.e. your sweetheart deals are fine when your competitors were bombed to oblivion during WWII, but when they rebuild and the economy globalizes the gravy train must stop or it will derail).

These demands will create so many jobs it will be completely impossible to fill them without an open borders policy.

Lloyd J Hart 508-687-9153

If you haven’t clicked the link, that final statement, name, and phone number appear just as it does on the OWS site (at the time of this writing). In fact, everything in the block quotes was taken directly from their site. Feel free to call him and give your thoughts.

Corporate Personhood

To bring everyone up to speed on the purpose of the title and this article, I was in a recent discussion with a friend on the other side of the political aisle who asked me to define the term “corporate personhood.” The discussion had its genesis around a story that placed the onus of responsibility for the state of the economy on Wall Street. I countered that burdensome regulations and government intervention were to blame. At one point corporations were brought up, and the term “corporate personhood” became the focal point. We decided to do “dueling articles,” and his piece can be found here.

The term comes from the question of whether or not a corporation counts as a person in terms of constitutional rights, so we first have to define a corporation. Merriam-Webster defines a corporation as follows:

1.  a. A group of merchants or traders united in a trade guild; b. The municipal authorities of a town or city.

2. A body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession.

3. An association of employers and employees in a basic industry or of members of a profession organized as an organ of political representation in a corporative state.

Essentially, a corporation is a single entity made up of a group of individuals. My off-the-cuff response was a bit more simplified:

“It amazes me how people make the leap that a corporation is some supernatural entity that needs to be defeated, like the Balrog or something (YOU SHALL NOT PASS!). It’s not. A corporation is a group of people working together towards a common goal of producing products that people want to buy. The only reason they BECAME corporations, instead of (for example) LLC’s is because they are really good at what they do.”

So let us recap. Thus far, we have established that corporations are made up of individuals, the next step is to ascertain what the law says. USC § 1 defines corporations as:

“the words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals;”

Friends, it does not get much clearer than that. But since there is still an argument despite the above, we need to press on.

Campaign Finance Reform

This discussion now takes us into the morass of “campaign finance.” While there have been a few attempts throughout our jurisprudence to restrict who can give what to which candidate, the most commonly referred to (modern) law is the aptly-named Bipartisan Reform Act of 2002, which is known as McCain-Feingold (votes can be found here).

Legally speaking, a corporation counts as a person. So now we have to ask ourselves whether or not a corporation is afforded constitutional rights. We can argue this two ways. First, a corporation is simply a group of individuals. Since individuals have constitutionally protected rights, they keep those rights even if they get together with others. Secondly, the law flat out states that corporations are “persons” which are protected under the Constitution.

The Constitution uses the term “Person” and “Citizen” almost interchangeably, using the term “citizen” when discussing location and “person” in general. For example, Article IV Sec. 2 covers Privileges and Immunities of “Citizens,” while at the same time laying out the framework for legal action against “persons” that commit a crime in one state and flee to another.

Furthermore, the Bill of Rights uses the term “people,” which is the plural form of person. A corporation is legally defined as a “person” and specifically defined as a group of people, so it would take a great leap to claim that the bill of rights, specifically the First Amendment, does not apply to them.

What McCain-Feingold did was, in the words of Justice Kennedy speaking for the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission:

 “The law before us is an outright ban, backed by criminal sanctions. Section 441b makes it a felony for all corporations—including nonprofit advocacy corporations—either to expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates or to broadcast electioneering communications within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election.”

Legality

The First Amendment was written not just to protect speech, but to protect political speech, and the language is pretty clear: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

While there have been several challenges to the law, including one by Senator Mitch McConnell (R, KY), this decision was by far the most comprehensive in deciding the constitutionality. Essentially, the court decided that barring corporations from participating in political speech during an election was unconstitutional, and went on to cite numerous legal precedents where corporations were defined as persons with First Amendment rights (Section A, 1). Ironically, though I suppose predictably, most supporters of campaign finance laws do not know the history of it in this country.

Philosophy

There is certainly a case to be made for restrictions on campaign finance. We do not want foreign interests, whether it be companies or governments, to fund candidates they want. But to restrict the political speech of Americans is something completely different.

Before we continue, we need to define “money.” I know, it seems a bit strange, but indulge me for a moment. Money is a “tool of exchange” that represents one’s labor. Money cannot exist unless a person expends labor to produce a product or service that someone else values enough to buy with what they produced with their labor. We use paper money because it is not convenient to trade in livestock or large amounts of metals. The amount of money one earns is representative of the amount and value of their labor, which is why a corporate CEO that works 18 hours per day and is in charge of 500 people producing products for millions of individuals while ensuring the stockholders invested their own money wisely earns more money than a union janitor doing the 9-to-5 mopping floors and taking out trash.

This money, in the context of this subject, represents speech in that it is used to produce advertisements and buy ad space in media that speak on certain issues important to the survival and success of the company. Sometimes this involves speaking for or against certain candidates or platforms.

The arguments against allowing corporations to speak during election seasons normally revolve around the fact that they are able to pool money, buy ads, and drown out the voice of the common people. This is a class warfare argument and legislation banning speech by corporations (i.e. groups of people) makes them legally-defined special classes of which it is legal to discriminate against. The irony (and philosophical shortcoming) is that in a nation that legally and philosophically was set up to value the individual, we consistently have to fight political battles to stop certain people from passing laws that group people together so as to both dole out special favors and discriminate against. A fitting analogy is that the people who advocate for special laws against “the rich” are no different than those who supported Jim Crow laws.

There is another ethical argument to be made against this sort of campaign reform law, and we saw this play out up close and personal in 2008. During that election season, we saw speeches by all candidates denigrating corporations. Public sentiment against corporate CEOs reached the point to where people were protesting outside of their private homes. Corporate CEOs are also routinely called before Congress to justify their ability to make money. This is, again, the definition of class warfare, which had its place in 17th century feudal Europe, but was outmoded by the advancement of free market capitalism and the philosophy that stated all men were created equal.

Essentially, the argument against corporate speech boils down to saying that they should just shut up and take the congressional grill sessions, the protests, the public denigrations, all while the people they are not allowed to speak out against paint them as evil, institute more onerous regulations that make business even harder to conduct, and pass tax laws that take more of their money away from them (yes, corporations do pay taxes, as do CEOs, despite what that bumper sticker on the Prius says). Corporations should just stay on their knees and smile as they are punched, kicked, and made into monsters, then are taxed for the privilege.

How is that ethical? It is not. If politicians are going to spend a year and a half during election season speaking out against the very corporations they depend on to fund their pet projects and keep the nation’s economy going, the corporations, and the people running and working them, should be able to call those politicians on their drivel.

(Originally posted at Federalism Online)

When Federalism Fumbles the Ball

What are we to do when our government refuses to perform its constitutional obligation?

Some would argue, and argue effectively, that the revolutionary concept that spawned America’s independence was not freedom but federalism. It is through federalism that the United States has truly achieved long lasting freedom. It is federalism that has kept absolute power, and subsequently absolute tyranny, away from any one particular person or body. The system of checks and balances and separation of powers has forced Congress, the presidency and the courts to a level of accountability not seen in human history.

But what many people do not realize about federalism is that it creates a working relationship between the national government and those of the states. In concept, it is a two way street. It is not, as some would assume a top down process, where the federal government reigns supreme. On the contrary, federalism was designed to create responsibilities and barriers between the two governments.

Perhaps a history lesson will put this into perspective. As most people know, the Constitution that we currently live under is not the first for the United States. The Articles of Confederation served as the union’s first constitution until 1788, when it was replaced by the current document. A Confederacy is a loose association of independent states, the governments of which wield more power than that of the national government. A modern example of a Confederacy would be the European Union. The EU does not claim sovereignty over its member nations. French law is still (or should be) the supreme law of the land in France. The same goes for the United Kingdom and the other members of the EU.

However in the summer of 1787, it was obvious that the Articles of Confederation were simply too weak to keep the fledgling nation together and free. If one races through a history book, one might get the impression that the Constitution was an easy sell – it was not. From its signing on September 17, 1787, the newly created Constitution underwent scrutiny from 13 states fresh off of a protracted and bloody war against their mother country, mainly to loose its self from the oppression of a tyrant. To ratify a new governing document that would take many of their freedoms away from the state level and consolidate them in a new, stronger federal government was not the objective of many who had fought for the cause of freedom.

The proponents of the Constitution, mainly through the Federalist Papers, eventually convinced all 13 states that their new government would not be one that ruled from the top down, but rather would be a symbiotic partner with all states in the union, creating many universal freedoms, but also leaving the lion share of the decision-making to the states.

This is what federalism is. Through the expressed, denied and implied powers of the Constitution of the United States, obligations of law are separated, shared and commissioned to the respective levels of government for the proper governing of its people.

But what happens when one of those governments – state or federal – is not living up to those obligations? We are quite used to (unfortunately so) the federal government superseding state’s obligations when it feels that said state has not lived up to its task. This is a disturbing trend in and of itself but now we are faced with the opposite. What are states to do when it is obvious that the federal government will not, for one reason or another, fulfill its constitutional obligations?

States like Arizona, Georgia and Alabama have recently answered that question, particularly when it comes to the subject of immigration. In the Constitution is the federal government’s responsibility to create laws of uniformity in regards to immigration. However, it is obvious that our federal government, like so many other issues, has decided to kick the can down the road in regards to the issue of illegal immigration from our southern border. For well over 30 years, this has been an issue for these border states and now it has become one of security for the people of those states.

The current violence on the border of Texas and Arizona has once again brought the problem of a porous border to the forefront. When those states become so overwhelmed with the criminal and financial burden placed upon them due to the negligence of the federal government, what constitutional recourse do they have? States, like the ones mentioned above, have been forced to take matters into their own hands, passing laws that simply require the enforcement of federal statutes that are already on the books.

There is a concept in our country known as the doctrine of nullification. Basically, this says that the states do not have to go along with federal policy or law that they believe is a violation of their constitutional rights. Currently, there are 26 states, that are using the doctrine of notification to declare President Obama’s healthcare plan unconstitutional, citing that healthcare should be a state’s rights issue, as per the 10th amendment. But how does a state nullify negligence? Such is the burden of a country that is slowly allowed its federal government to usurp power from the states and centralize it in Washington DC over the past 100 years.

They say that all politics are local, yet the slow, decades long march towards socialism has created a society that looks to the Potomac for all of the answers to its problems. As Ronald Reagan said, “government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem”.

The solution, of course, is and will be up for debate for a long time. But one thing is for sure – we got ourselves into this mess over a long period of time and it will not remedy itself overnight. The constant vigilant watch and occasional call to arms is the responsibility of every well educated individual who sees and understands what our founding fathers and framers intended for our great country. Rugged individualism, localized control and the understanding that the old adage is indeed old but true – absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Correcting Bad Economics

I was recently added to a political discussion group and while the topics covered are interesting, the premise of the group is faulty and based on some skewed version of history and economic theory. In this article, we will pull apart the mission statement and note the major inaccuracies, since they are prevalent in many other debates.

“In the aftermath of a global recession, as we have seen a massive failure of deregulated subprime-mortgage securities poison the global economy, we seem to be stuck with the same old economic debates.”

This opening sentence shows us where the author is coming from; He is essentially under the belief that deregulation is what caused the mortgage meltdown. Such is not the case, and anyone that makes the argument that the US has been deregulated in any substantial way has not been paying attention. As I pointed out in an earlier article,  the amount of regulations has gone up for 16 out of the last 30 years with the only significant (and sustained) drop happening during Reagan.

The main cause for the subprime-mortgage “poison” was the government instituting regulations. While the beginnings of the problem can be traced to the 1940’s, it wasn’t until the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, a vague and crudely-worded piece of legislation, that the issue snowballed. Essentially, banks were forced to lend to people that couldn’t pay the loans back (in the interest of “fairness”). The loans were, naturally, high-risk, so the banks bundled them up into a “security” and sold them to other institutions. Those companies realized it as a bad deal and sold them to other institutions, and so on until the last company holding the bag got shafted. This never would have happened without government intervention in the marketplace. (I am aware of counter arguments made by somewhat reputable sources regarding the 1977 CRA, specifically that a problem caused by such an old law is a “silly’ notion. I contend that those authors lack the ability to see a causal relationship to actions and seek to gloss over the evidence in order to fit their ideological viewpoint).

As for “same old economic debates,” these debates have been happening since the dawn of civilization. Some believe that humans are fit to make their own economic decisions, while others seem to believe we need a government to make those decisions for us. It is an argument pitting liberty against government control. With the historical record clearly showing the greatest leaps in humankind having happened in direct proportion to the amount of economic and political freedom citizens possess, you’d think this debate would have been over centuries ago.

“The U.S. has never been purely socialist, not purely capitalist, except in the era of the banker and industrial robber barons of the late 1800’s.”

This is a cop-out, and is historically accurate to the point that the late 1800’s did see a rise in economic freedom, but it began to unravel with the McKinley administration (who enjoyed Republican control of Congress) and ended with Teddy Roosevelt and his “trust-busting” policies.

The use of the term “robber barons” is enlightening. While the term is applicable in the train industry, where railroad executives worked with the government to pass legislation (which is not capitalism), it is not applicable when applied to the likes of John Rockefeller and Standard Oil, the usual scapegoat who was able to grab a huge market share by eliminating waste and inefficiency in the fuel refining process, which allowed him to sell his fuel cheaper (which was better for consumers) and reap huge profits (which was better for him and his workers).

Yes, there were a lot of swindlers, but all of these regulations only hurt the honest businessman. It’s like the gun arguments involving gun-free zones; a criminal intent on murdering people is not going to stop because a certain area is “gun-free.” They have already made the decision to commit murder. A regulation banning his weapon of choice from a certain area is not going to stop him. In fact, the evidence points that it only encourages them.

“We have people advocating the same old trickle down deregulatory approach which has greatly helped the top 1%.”

Here, we see the beginnings of the class warfare argument, which is a stance rooted in envy, greed, and seeks to influence the worst parts of human nature. Steve Jobs is in the top 1%, so the argument goes that he should have to pay more in taxes and be regulated more. The flip side to the argument that the class-warfare warriors never seem to understand is how much more productive individuals and society as a whole is by the fact that Steve Jobs exists and is allowed to make his products. He and his team work hard and provide superior products to people who want them, and he should be allowed to keep the money he earns selling those products. Any so-called societal obligation has already been paid in full by the very nature that he made people more productive and grew the economic pie, of which everyone at all levels is able to enjoy.

“As for liberals or left-wing people like myself, I advocate government programs for the poor and disenfranchised as I know full well the ills of bureaucracy, inefficiency, waste, fraud, etc of our government.”

This is the revealing statement, where the author lets his views be known. The problem is that it contradicts itself. How can one advocate for government programs while simultaneously acknowledging the problems associated with them?

The fact of the matter is that those very government programs the author, and those associated with his belief structure, do not work for the simple fact that politicians and bureaucrats make decisions based on a political return, not an economic return. They have no fiscal discipline, and are not subject to the rules of the marketplace, so their job security is based on whether or not they can hand out more goodies and not on job performance. Never mind that those goodies are laced with poison and paid for on the backs of others.

Never in the history of mankind has centralized planning or class-warfare worked. Besides the faulty economic basis for such theories, i.e. class-warfare was only valid when the rich were the ones writing the laws and jailing the people who did not pay up, it ended when capitalism (meritocracy and free markets) came into effect.

“We cannot return to full-fledged Keynesianism and wax nostalgic over a past far better than the present, but we need to examine what clearly works well under the rubric of “social democracies” whose middle and poor classes benefit and progress from governments’ support of education, green technology, and universal health care. We have to consider the government’s role in providing the jobs and sustainable economies of the future as contrasted from the current oligopoly of fossil fuel companies, drug companies, big banks, the media conglomerates, all these being functional fascisms dictating the world economy.”

Again, with the class-warfare argument. He seeks to segregate people into groups and wants to equalize outcomes, which is impossible. The best that we can do, the path that we are morally obligated to seek, is one that frees people to go as high as they want while placing no burdens on their fellow man. The notion of all men being created equal escapes those like the author, who sees people as incompetent and in need of a benevolent force to take care of them.

Before the “common era,” that benevolent force was sold to mankind as a god-in-the-flesh whose divine power was mandated by heaven. His argument is little different and constitutes a societal regression, which is ironic since the people who use those arguments consider themselves “progressive.”

The latter part of that quote is important. The only role government has in a free society in providing sustainable economies is twofold, and is centered around the notion of keeping us free. The first is to protect us from force, which takes form in the defense of our borders (outside threats) and the defense of our selves and property (home-grown threats) with military and law enforcement. Secondly, the government should provide a court system so, in the case someone brings undue force against his neighbor, he can take them to court and have the matter judged by an independent arbiter.

The purpose of government is not to jump into the economy and start picking favorites, controlling people, and passing arbitrary regulations that make everyday living even harder. Such policies, which the author advocates, creates the very “functional fascism” he is railing against.

“The market for regular citizens cannot possible be free with the concentrations of power into ever fewer hands.”

Yet he would put control of that market in the hands of regulatory agencies controlled by 535 members of Congress, a president, and 15 cabinet members? One cannot make the argument that such a plan gives us more power when you consider that Congress is only at a 6% approval, hasn’t passed 20% in recent memory, and yet they still get reelected time and time again.

“Getting power back to the people cannot happen under the persistent stagnation of stereotyped economic polemics.”

Polemics (attacks) on leftist economic policies are warranted because those policies have never worked in the history of mankind despite 10,000 years of experimentation with centralized control. Whether you call the fascist, socialist, socialist-light, communist, tribalist, progressive, or liberal, they all fail horribly and only after sucking away the talent and motivation of a people. Such policies need to be attacked, discredited, and buried because real people’s lives are at stake.

What he said is true regarding polemics against capitalism. Capitalism is incredibly misunderstood even though it is essentially the easiest to understand: You are free to make your own economic decisions. It is because of this misunderstanding that I added the first picture in this article.

“We need to find common ground, try to understand the merits of theories we are predisposed to oppose before we can shift the paradigm. Shifting the paradigm is necessary to move forward and extricate ourselves from the transnational corporate tyranny impeding personal freedom and potential for growth.”

The “transnational corporate tyranny” is a straw man argument, though any sort of tyranny caused by corporations could not exist were it not for the regulations and amount of government control he advocates. No company can force you to buy a product, only government. No company can form a cartel without the assistance of government (i.e. the railroad industry in the 1800’s). In a free market, absent of the massive amount of regulations in place today, such companies cannot exist because a dozen competitors would rise up to take their market share.

In this argument between freedom and control, there can be no middle ground. You cannot say you are for freedom while advocating a new set of Jim Crow laws that put people into various groups and treat them differently under the law. 80% of millionaires in this country are self-made, first-generation, and they get that way through dedication, frugality, and hard work. They produce products people are willing to buy, and do so by hiring people willing to do the work. Enacting laws that essentially steal their money to fund corrupt programs does more harm to society than anything else. Such is the folly of “liberals and left-wing people.”

(Crossposted at Federalism Online)

Wisconsin’s Public Union Problem

With the successful push in Wisconsin to end collective bargaining with the public sector unions, unions and their Democrat allies have filed for numerous state-level recall elections. While this is inherently better exercise in democracy than the approximately $350,000 in damage and clean-up costs caused by their protests, not to mention the $7.4 Million in law enforcement costs to police them up, the initial premise is wrong and seeks to put them right back into the fiscal mess the governor and the Republican members of the legislature were trying to get them out of.

The first thing to look at is that they are terming collective bargaining as a right. This is simply not the case. In order for something to qualify as a “right,” it must pass a two-pronged litmus test: It must be inherent, and it must not place an undue burden on your fellow man. Speaking freely about the government is a right. Forcing people to listen is not. Owning tools to protect one’s life and property is a right. Banning your neighbor from owning those items simply because you do not like them is not. Forming a voluntary organization is a right. Forcing people to join it is not.

Collective bargaining is not a right. If people choose to join together in order to bargain for a better deal, then that is fine, but that right ends when they can elect the very people that they will end up sitting across the table from, while dealing with money that does not belong to either. Such is the problem with public unions. The entire process is an unethical exercise of power, and it is done in an environment with no fiscal discipline.

When people form a union with a company in the private sector, they deal with their employers and are essentially in a closed system where their success or failure will only harm themselves. In the public sector, there is no such danger. The success or failure of the system is dependent on whether or not they can elect the people that will perpetuate their jobs, and on whether those politicians will be able to milk the taxpayer for enough money to cover it. It is an inherently flawed system that has no basis on a worker’s productivity, and one of the reasons why so many states are broke.

The ethics of the process aside, much can be learned from who it is these people (both unions and the politicians) are. From The Foundry over at Heritage:

“Numerous signs proclaimed “Tax the rich,” and protesters frequently cited that mantra as the solution to budget problems.”

“Few protesters we spoke to knew Wisconsin has a deficit of $137 million — a deficit projected to increase to $3.6 billion in the next two years. Fewer still seemed to realize just how generous public worker benefits in Wisconsin are — far more generous than the national average.”

“Dispute also existed as to whether union membership is currently optional for public workers in Wisconsin (it’s not), even though most protesters seemed to think it should be optional.”

Basically, there were a bunch of people who were ignorant of what is going on (i.e. their golden goose was being sucked dry), while engaging in class warfare arguments. You can see in the below video their mindset and beliefs.

Keep in mind, this is the same debate in which 14 Senate Democrats fled the state and hid out in Illinois.

As we are seeing with these recall elections, the public sector unions are buying votes, spending their money on Democrat politicians that will give them a better deal with the taxpayer footing the bill. We can take solace in the fact that the voters in Wisconsin will have to live in the world they create without dragging the rest of us down with them.

(Crossposted at Federalism Online)