Actions Trump Words

I’m certainly no Trump fan, but the level of hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance of the Clinton campaign is breathtaking. So when Bill Clinton came under fire with decades old charges of sexual assault, well that was just part of a vast right wing conspiracy to smear his good name and obviously had no impact on his ability to govern. However, when Donald Trump is the target of similar charges (although Trump barely made it to first base whereas Clinton made several home runs) from years gone by, well that is an obvious reason to disqualify him from the Presidency. Hillary’s tepid defense of women runs only as deep as their politics. If they are opposed to her or her husband then they are liars. But, if they are aligned with her, then their word is sacrosanct and it is up to the accused to prove his innocence.

Now of course the mainline Republicans aren’t much better. They were all too eager to skewer Bill Clinton over his indiscretions many years ago, but seem content to whistle past the graveyard of sexual escapades now that the Donald has come under similar fire. So it seems the general rule in politics is this: if my candidate does X that’s no big deal, but if the opposition does X then that instantly disqualifies them from holding office.

Again, Trump is no saint, but it does seem odd to get so upset over his mere words in contrast to Clinton’s deeds. As they say, actions speak louder than words. Clinton was actively involved in the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians in Libya and Syria. As Secretary of State she directly shaped policies of the Obama administration that led to destabilization of Libya by overthrowing Kaddafi. This Libyan power vacuum led to a widening of the conflict in Syria as the US-armed rebels in Libya moved into Syria and morphed into ISIS. So while some may fear what sort of rash behavior the loudmouth blowhard that is Donald Trump might engage in, I’d say we should be more fearful of the person for whom we have an actual record of action. Clinton either knew that this bloodshed and destabilization would result or she was unable to foresee the obvious consequences of such interventionism – either is sufficient to disqualify her from being given even more responsibility.

Trump is a businessman. Businesses try to achieve their goals with the least expenditure of resources. War is costly in comparison to peace, so that supposition and Trump’s own words suggest he would be more likely to invest in non-violent resolutions. Peace is far more profitable.

So whereas Gary Johnson is the far better candidate than either of these two loons, if you are convinced voting for Gary is “wasting” your vote (however false that premise may be) then at least vote for the candidate less likely to get us embroiled in World War III with Russia (as Clinton’s mentor Obama seems poised to do right now). After all Trump and Putin are pals, right?

October 21 / 2016

Color of Law

If you, like me, have been periodically receiving recorded messages on your voicemail from a heavily accented hypnotized Haldol user purporting to be from the IRS you will be relived to hear those calls were actually fraudulent. Yes, I know it is hard to believe. Indian authorities recently raided and arrested hundreds involved in this scam. If you’re curious to hear first-hand how the scam plays out for those willing to take the bait, have a listen to podcaster Tom Woods as he has a little bit of fun with them. It basically ends with the victim being instructed to purchase Target Green Dot cards (of all things) to stave off an imminent IRS raid. We may laugh at the notion that anyone could be so gullible as to fall for this scam but sadly at least 1 in 100 people did indeed fall for it. After the raid it was reported that these scammers raked in from one-hundred to one-hundred fifty thousand dollars every day.

Although we can agree their actions were contemptible, there is actually little separating what they were doing and what the IRS itself does everyday. Granted the IRS does not threaten people over the phone. No, the IRS is much more polite; they use the mail instead. I know. I’ve received many such letters over the years. And in every single case it was due to an error on the IRS’s part. In other words, guilty until proven innocent. Fortunately my issues were all resolved but not without unwarranted time and expense. But more to the point, the IRS is no different than these scammers even when the amounts owed are correct. Why are such amounts “owed”? Because someone somewhere scribbled ink on a piece of paper and bellowed the incantation “lllllaaaaawwwwwwww” over said paper in order to sanctify its legitimacy. The ostensible use of the idea of “law” in order to extract money from a victim is no more legitimate than the actions of such con-men. The fact that a “law” must be made to extract payment proves the transaction is not voluntary – were it so then no law would be needed. We don’t pass laws that stipulate you must purchase food everyday or else.

The same phenomenon exists with money. Counterfeiters are excoriated as contemptuous thieves who extract goods from society without producing anything of value. Their nefarious duplication of currency parasitically extracts value from all other currency holders. True enough. But if a “law” says the government, excuse me, Federal Reserve, may do the exact same thing, well, that is perfectly fine. This is the economic equivalent of a state granted license to kill and no one bats an eye.

So the next time we are cheering for the apprehension of a villainous criminal lets take a moment to shift focus from the mote in their eye and toward the beam in the eye of the state who is more likely than not engaging in the same practice but under the color of law. Remember, don’t steal, the government hates competition.

October 21 / 2016
Author Greg Morin
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Pot, meet Kettle

Who here would voluntarily pay more income tax? Anyone? Now be careful and think hard here, after all taxes help support so many aspects of society (roads, schools, welfare, defense, science, economic expansion, etc.) that benefit everyone wouldn’t it be selfish to not do all you could do? Sure the government says you can deduct your mortgage interest, property taxes, and other expenses, but should you? Wouldn’t it be more patriotic to forgo those deductions so that you can more fully participate in the community of this great nation?

If this sounds both familiar and ridiculous at the same time there is a reason for that. The whole message of taking part in the common good of taxation is directly from the statist’s propaganda playbook. The ploy is to guilt you into compliance: if you are opposed to taxation you must also be against all those things taxes fund, right? So while we are instinctively “for” the things taxes fund, we each individually endeavor to keep our share of that obligation to a minimum. A tragedy of the commons in which we extract from the tax pot as much as we can (concentrated benefits of special interests) while limiting what we put in that pot. This tragedy of the commons is nowhere more apparent than in the hypocrisy of ideologues like Clinton who claim the “wealthy” aren’t paying their “fair share” all the while she and her ilk are none to happy to take advantage for themselves every wrinkle in the tax code that allows them to limit their tax liability. Pot, meet kettle.

People who complain about the tax code don’t have any actual experience with it beyond filing their 1040. I do (unfortunately) as a business owner and I can guarantee you there is no secret “check this box to get out of paying taxes this year” box on any of the forms. If the current rumors are true that Trump has not paid taxes for the last 20 years it’s not because he’s some sort of clever businessman or has really great tax accountants. There is one simple reason. He lost a whole lot of money! It is after all called an “income tax.” You must have income in order to tax it. If you lose money in one year and make money in the next you are allowed to offset the profit with the prior loss. If that seems unfair to you then I suspect you’d find nothing wrong with gambling following rules of “heads I win, tails you lose.”

That Trump has apparently carried this loss forward 20 years makes his hesitancy to release his returns all the more understandable. He is tremendously embarrassed by the fact that he hasn’t made any money in over 20 years. In other words, imagine if you had invested $100,000 in the stock market in 1995 but it quickly declined in value to $20,000. Now 20 years later it was again $100,000. Have you made any money?

If it somehow seems unfair to you that people not making any money don’t have to pay “invest in the system” then perhaps it is time to abolish the income tax and shift toward a voluntary user-pays system. Those that consume more will pay more and those that consume less will pay less. You know, like every other good on the open market.

October 04 / 2016
Author Greg Morin
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In Defense of the Gouger

There was a recent disruption in the supply of gasoline to Georgia due to a ruptured pipeline. The resulting shortage was the predictable result not of the constrained supply but rather busybody price controls imposed by the Governor. The universal support by the public for the Governor’s actions betrays a breathtaking ignorance of basic economics. The law of supply and demand cares not one whit for your desire to maintain a constant supply of a good while forcing its price down.

Not only should “gouging” be “legal,” but in fact welcomed. Gouging ensures a supply of a good even when supplies are constrained. For example, gouging of event tickets ensures that you can get a ticket at a moment’s notice. Although the price is high would you prefer high price and ticket vs. no ticket? Rising prices due to increased demand is the market-natural rationing system. If prices stay low, then no one cuts back and the good is quickly consumed. High prices incentivize conservation so a given supply last longer and is available to those that desperately have a need of it. Hypocritically the state blocks private business from such practice but happily engages in it on a regular basis in the PeachPass toll lanes of I-85. I have personally seen prices go from 7¢ to over $11 for the same stretch. Of course this is a good thing, and the state knows it, so it is rather disingenuous for them to block it in other arenas.

The most common objection is what of the station that raises their prices during the day on the mere rumor of a disruption? They’ve already paid for the gas in the tanks in the ground – how can they possibly justify reaping these windfall gains? Easy. The higher price (and profit) ensures the station itself can buy more from their supplier at the soon to be higher prices. If the gas in the ground cost 25 and is sold for 30, then the station takes from those sales 25 and buys the same amount again. But if they are not allowed to raise prices and it soon will cost 100 to refill the station’s tanks, then they can only buy 1/3 of what is needed and so will run out that much faster each time. If they can charge 120, they can take 100 and fully replenish the tanks ensuring a steady supply.

A tertiary benefit of high prices is as economic alarm. It signals too society that resources are more urgently needed where prices are high. People then swoop in to access that higher profit potential and so the supply immediately begins to swell and prices fall. So even when such “gouging” occurs it will not last long as the market corrects itself naturally. No need for men with guns running around threatening people.

The usual objection here is that people can’t afford the higher prices. Please. No one is going to be filing bankruptcy because they spent extra on gas for a week or so. The above average amounts are no more than typical monthly discretionary spending (movies, eating out, etc.) The prospect of possibly foregoing a few luxuries doesn’t seem like the sort of essential human right that rises to a compelling state interest. Indeed, state intervention only makes matters worse – when it comes to economics, there’s no free lunch.

Can Buy Me Love

There is something eerily similar to the behavior of politicians competing for votes and that of divorced parents competing for the love of a child. There are two strategies deployed in this endeavor. Tear your competitor down with insults or build yourself up through gifts. With either approach there is little daylight between Democrats and Republicans. With Trump’s recent speech directed at working women we see that the difference between Democrats and Republicans is in degree, not kind. Both are quite willing to violate the rights of the individual upon the altar of compulsory collectivism, because you know, feelings. Trump promises six weeks of paid leave for working women. Clinton promises twelve weeks of paid leave for anyone caring for someone. Why so stingy though? It’s not their money after all. Why not promise a year of paid leave? Or two, or ten? Oh, that’s right, because of course we all know there are thresholds of cost that no business could bear. Let’s be reasonable after all. So in the pursuit of reasonableness our wise overlords-to-be dial back the burden-meter until some, but not all, business could manage to survive. Since only 12% of companies currently provide paid family leave we can draw the reasonable conclusion that this is a fairly expensive benefit. Were it not expensive then naturally every business would provide it (duh). And what adjective describes somebody that can afford really expensive things? That’s right: wealthy! So what kind of sorting might we expect to see if a large expense is imposed on large and small businesses alike? That’s right – smaller businesses will shut down leaving only the larger wealthy ones behind. Likewise the (artificial, government imposed) barrier to entry for new competitors will be so high that none will pass. I can almost understand Trump proposing this. As a large business owner it confers a competitive edge to his corporate interests. But the Democrats, those supposed champions of the “working men and women” leading the charge against the evil one percenters, they are in fact giving those ultra-uber rich businesses the greatest benefit imaginable: eliminating sources of competition. The irony is I’m sure Bernie would have supported a similar mandate while remaining blind to the fact he’s helping the very businesses he decries.

Such mandates further the goal of augmenting dependency on the state by slowly dissolving agency of the individual. The state views the employee as being too weak and stupid to make the best decision for themselves. If an employee would prefer more pay and less leave time, that’s not allowed. If an employee would prefer a higher wage in exchange for flexible working hours, that’s not allowed. If an employee would prefer having a job at lower wages vs. having no job at all, that’s not allowed. Mandated paid family or maternity leave is no different than a mandated minimum wage (i.e. price fixing). All benefits boil down to a monetary cost. If you mandate paid leave (the seen benefit), then you’re going to have to pay for it by subtracting from somewhere else (the unseen loss). That could be the rollback of non-mandated benefits, smaller bonuses and raises, or fewer workers hired. The last is most insidious as it leads to increasing unemployment despite no one losing their job. It further increases the work-load (and stress) on existing employees. When that happens many would gladly trade a lower wage for a smaller workload and less stress – but – that’s not allowed because children can’t make those sorts of decisions. Only the parents – the state – are wise and responsible enough to make those kind of decisions. Thank you wise and omniscient Dear Leader.


September 22 / 2016

Never Forget

“We will never forget.” This sentiment is nearly universally applied in remembrance of the September 11 anniversary. But what does it mean? Since most do not personally know someone who perished, it is doubtful it is intended to memorialize a particular individual. Rather, it is intended as a warning to those that attacked us, “I will never forget how you hurt us; you will pay for what you have done.” It is a passive-aggressive remembrance. But when a bee stings someone perhaps it is more fruitful to try understanding why they got stung than to wage war against the hive. Yes, the bee stung me and that rightfully makes me angry, but, perhaps my buddy should not have thrown that rock at the hive five minutes earlier. Maybe, just maybe, that had something to do with it. Sometimes we pay the price for the misdeeds of others. It is not fair. It is not right. We can’t change the past. But we can change the future by learning from the past.

Instead of being led by the nose, we need to start asking the questions we’re not supposed to ask. If the 9-11 assailants did what they did because they hate us for our freedom, then why have there not been attacks on every “free” western democracy for the past two hundred years? For some reason the history books seem to be silent on jihad-style attacks in the 1920’s or 1870’s. I wonder why. It is odd that the “modern” notion of Islamic extremist only developed post 1950’s. Let’s not forget that the US and UK governments played a hand in the 1953 Iranian coup d’état that saw the democratically elected Mosaddegh ousted in favor of a puppet dictator (the Shah). Let’s not forget that the Middle East was arbitrarily carved up by European powers in the wake of World War I and II. Let’s not forget Israel was created in 1948 by the UN by forcible removal of people from their homes. There is no single cause to this mess, but, that is the nature of an abusive relationship. A multitude of transgressions, large and small, will after many years culminate in a response. An abused spouse may long endure abuse until finally one day they strike back, violently. Such events do not occur in a vacuum.

To be clear, this is not “blaming America,” unless you subscribe to the fallacy that America is its government. Consider: my neighbor repeatedly tosses his dog’s poop over his fence into another neighborhood despite their protestations to cease such behavior. Then one day those neighbors toss a grenade back which also results in my house being damaged. I’m going to darn well blame them both! My neighbor’s actions precipitated this response. Stating that my neighbor played a hand in those events does not mean I’m disloyal to my neighborhood and blaming my neighborhood. A member of the group is not the group itself. Repeat after me: blaming our government is not blaming America. That is the lesson we should never forget: the actions of those we elect have consequences.

Capital Day

Labor Day, according to the US Department of Labor is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers” and as a “national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” While true, there is a major missing component in this tribute: capital. Show me a worker laboring without any contributions from capital and I’ll show you naked primitives feeding off berries and dead carcasses. Every advance in the standard of living is built on a foundation of both labor and the deferred consumption (capital creation) that permits the creation of tools to augment laboring efforts. Holidays should be deployed to remind the populace of that which normally escapes public notice. This is exactly why we need a “Capital Day”. Although capital surrounds us, it is too often ignored, like the air we breathe, and like air, our society would be dead without it.

The fact that most of you are now probably scratching your heads and wondering what possible role capital has played is all the more reason to have such a holiday. Yes, workers perform the labor needed to drive the engine of commerce, but they do not do so in a vacuum. Who paid for the building that they work in? The equipment and tools they use? Their wages? No one asks these questions. It is somehow assumed these are exogenous resources simply laying about waiting to be donned by the heroic laborer.

No, they are not manna from heaven. The capitalist provides them by virtue of having deferred consumption and thus saving resources. That savings (capital) allows them to pay others to build the tools needed to enhance the capacity and efficiency of the worker in their role as laborer. The machinist creates multiple cars in a day using tools, the material handler moves tons of goods with a forklift, the office worker performs millions of operations a day with their computer, and so on. And when done performing those tasks the workers are paid long before the revenue generated from their labor returns to the capitalist – paying someone for their service so far in advance of revenue generated from that activity necessitates that money, capital, be saved and available. Without capital every newly hired worker would have to wait weeks or months before receiving their first paycheck.

The market capitalist (as opposed to the cronyist political capitalist who partners with government in order to gain advantage) risks all. For every success, dozens more fail and lose everything. Capitalists are not mere fat cats earning a living off the sweat of the laborer – no, they play an important and vital role just as the laborer does. They provide and coordinate the resources needed by laborer to actually labor. It is a partnership, but one where one partner is honored, while the other is at best perplexingly ignored or at worst, reviled. Let us never forget the importance of both, here’s to Capital Day!

September 05 / 2016

Faith Healing

The current outrage-du-jour over the skyrocketing price of EpiPens is a perfect example of the effectiveness of a societal indoctrination that leaves us blind to the parasitic ills wrought by the state. The credulous media reports with much indignation and finger wagging over yet another example of an evil profiteering corporation charging outrageous sums for a life-sustaining drug. Clearly this fits with the media’s preconceived narrative that capitalism is bad and we need government to right such wrongs. Case closed. No need to scratch the surface and investigate the cause and effect of this phenomenon. Even those media outlets that do ask the right question and get the right answer are still somehow blind to the necessary solution. They recognize that prices are high because of a lack of competition (a result of patents), third party payment distortions, and cronyist-driven increased demand (fueled by FDA mandates). Even the likes of the Journal of the American Medical Association have admitted as much in a recent article.

“The most important factor that allows manufacturers to set high drug prices is market exclusivity, protected by monopoly rights awarded upon Food and Drug Administration approval and by patents. “

But the universal answer to solve these woes? More of the same: state intervention. If we can’t even imagine a world without state-driven influences in the market then there is only one option that remains – more state intervention. The state is entirely responsible for the current quagmire that is our health care system, but hey, maybe more regulations can fix the problem the first, second, and third set of regulations caused. As they say, if all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.

There is no quick fix. The foundation is built upon the sand of wishes and emotion rather than the stone of the unwavering principle of liberty. To solve the problems in the health care market we must dismantle the framework of rules, laws, and regulations that can do nothing but produce this distorted market.

Step 1: Eliminate the patent system entirely. Without patents competitors can instantly respond to prices that get out of control. Novel inventions have a natural period of protection because of secrecy and first-to-market advantages. The more obvious the invention, the more easily it could be copied. Praising the patent system for rewarding inventors with monopoly pricing while simultaneously pining for the low price of generics is the height of cognitive dissonance.

Step 2: End the FDA’s monopoly privilege of being the ONLY agency allowed to review the safety and efficacy of drugs. If the FDA is going to take years to approve a drug or device (resulting in countless needless deaths and higher costs) then perhaps it is time to let competitors help them out.

Step 3: The FDA and its competitors should be financially responsible for their mistakes just like any other company. Presently the FDA bears zero responsibility if they approve a flawed drug. If there existed in any other sector of the economy such a lack of competition and accountability we would be outraged. Yet somehow this state of affairs exists with the FDA and no one bats an eye. Most curious.

It’s almost like society has been brainwashed into the credulous narrative that those in government are not mere mortals but rather angels who are immune to normal human foibles. This blind faith in the supremacy and righteousness of the state has closed our eyes to the truth no less than medieval faith in the Church blinded men to the truth of heliocentrism. Time to question that faith. Our very lives depend on it.

Equal Treatment

Several local churches in Oconee county have proposed offering elective Bible classes at a new “Christian Learning Center” for county high school students. The CLC would be offsite and thus tight coordination between the county and the center would be necessary (exiting the campus, transportation, returning, etc.). The proposal is currently before the Oconee County School Board who has not yet made a decision. Although proponents say “freedom of religion” and opponents “separation of church and state”, neither of these slogans are useful in arriving at a decision where the question before the board doesn’t fit either narrative precisely.

Were this question before a private school board it would be easy to answer. There would be no “right” or “wrong” answer. The course of action should be whatever those running the school want to do. If parents disagree they are free to take their children, and tuition dollars, elsewhere. In the end it is the parents who have the veto power, a power they can wield immediately.

But this is not a private institution. It is a public one. And that means we parents and/or citizens have zero ability to vote with our dollars by transferring our tuition (property taxes) somewhere else. Sure we can vote, but board members have 4 year terms so one’s child is likely to be graduated before the opportunity to even attempt to do something arrives. Voting itself might be free, but it’s not without costs. You must expend enormous resources trying to convince all those around you to vote the same, otherwise your voice is silenced.

So given the fact that we parent and taxpayers have zero voice in decisions such as these, there must be a different standard when it comes to such curriculum. Non-ideological electives (languages, music, sports, etc.) favor no particular group. But ideologically drive electives, such as the proposed CLC, are an attempt by one group to expand their sphere of influence by co-opting the indoctrinatory power of the state. What advertiser would not love to get their product before a captive audience? Even if one chooses to not take such electives, the imprimatur of approval lends credence to the subject matter; that is de facto state approval.

Like it or not Christianity, or any religion, is ideological insofar as it rests on un-provable beliefs. That is not bad per se. Beliefs are by definition un-provable. But it’s still ideology. So the question here should be no different if a group of Synagogues, Mosques, or Buddhist Temples were proposing similar classes. Political ideology also falls under this umbrella. How would we react if the Democrat, Republican, or Communist parties wanted to offer a class supporting their worldviews? Is it fair to give one peddler of ideas a leg up on the competition? If you let one in, you must let all in. This non-exclusionary principal flows from our inability, under pain of imprisonment, to withdraw financial support of state functions. Whosoever removes choice is obligated to treat all equally.

August 25 / 2016
Author Greg Morin
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