Speech, Money and Means

Elections, campaigning, voting; these are all creatures of the state. To the extent the state itself is illegitimate, it is wasted effort to debate the legitimacy of internal rules of an illegitimate entity (a bit like arguing over the moral distinction between thieves that pick locks vs those that break down doors). So discussions concerning whether the government should limit political donations to this amount or that amount is entirely academic; there is no right or wrong answer given the larger context that compelling all to accept the outcome of an election is the true affront to individual rights (that is, the right to choose with whom one will associate).

With that said, however, I would like to touch on a common philosophical misconception that has been reignited with the recent Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC. In this decision the Supreme Court struck down limits on total donation amounts to candidates and political committees (while retaining certain other limits). The predictable knee-jerk response then ensued from the progressive media outlets: Unrestricted giving means our democracy is for sale! More money in politics means only the well-funded candidates will win elections! Money is not speech! Ok, stop right there. The first two assertions are at least plausible (although plenty of examples abound where the more well-funded candidate lost), however denying the essential connection that money and speech have is to engage in intellectual dishonesty

What does the right to free speech entail? (Before I continue, for clarity’s sake “speech” is shorthand to describe any action that externalizes the thoughts or ideas of an individual). Does free speech mean we should be able to speak for free? No. It means that it is impermissible for anyone (which includes government) to aggressively interfere with an individual’s exercise of speech (assuming the speaker has not voluntarily agreed to limit that right under contract). Conversely it does not obligate anyone to assist an individual in his speech efforts. That is, speech is a negative right. If one wishes to spread their speech more efficiently, they may employ their own means (money, printing press, radio station, etc.) or they may ask others to assist them in their effort by providing them with those same means.

Speech is a means to an end. That is to say, we exercise speech in order to achieve some end. Means themselves often require other means to achieve them. For example, I buy gas (means) to use my car (means) to drive to work (means) to earn money (means) in order to buy food (means) to keep me alive (end). In a campaign the candidate’s end is to make the public aware of his candidacy and persuade them to cast their vote for him. This is done through speech from the candidate to the public. Speech is most efficiently disseminated using tools (print, radio, TV, etc) and those tools can often only be obtained via monetary trade. So, perhaps money is not literally speech in the same way that gasoline is not literally food, but in both cases the former is a direct link in the causal chain of means to achieve the latter end. To deny the significance of money as it relates to speech is to deny the legitimacy of utilizing any means to achieve some end.

For those concerned with the possible distorting effects of money in politics I would suggest ending the fixation on limiting money and rather focus instead on what the money is buying: power. If we commit to limiting the power of government over our lives, we will find the appeal of purchasing such impaired power likewise diminished.

Who is the customer?

Outsourcing, public-private partnership – this is the Trojan horse of the political entrepreneur that will fool the political class every time into believing salvation from inefficient government lies within. For those familiar with how markets are actually supposed to function, the irony is clear: only harm shall spring forth.

One of the more insidious “partnerships” is that of the outsourced private prison and probation services. The Georgia legislature has recently passed HB 837 which has expanded the authority of private probation companies while simultaneously decreasing public oversight of their operations. In Georgia, if one is convicted of a misdemeanor  (anything from shoplifting to traffic citations) and cannot pay the assessed fine in full, then one is turned over to a private probation company (basically a glorified collection agency) which then collects the fine, along with their monthly fee of course. Under the new law, if fines are unpaid then those convicted may be thrown in jail or electronically monitored all the while accruing greater fines. The original probation period may be “tolled” or extended indefinitely until the fine is paid in full. Inability to pay will land one in prison. Essentially Georgia has reestablished debtor prisons. Herein lies a perverse incentive; inability to pay translates into larger fines. The public courts and the private companies then share in this growing revenue stream. Ironically they make more money off of those with the least ability to pay.

“But criminals must make restitution, surely you’re not suggesting that just because someone is “poor” they should not be compelled to answer for their crime?” No, I’m not suggesting that at all (although I do seriously question whether traffic violations rise to the level of “crime”). To understand why outsourcing leads to distorted incentives, ask yourself, who is the customer? Is it the state, or is it the lawbreaker? In fact, it is the lawbreaker. The state intercedes and poses as the customer, which diverts the stream of responsibility. The probation company is not answerable to the real customer, so they have no incentive to serve them.

Now you may be scratching your head trying to figure out why the lawbreaker should be the customer. Allow me to explain. Assuming that an actual rights violation has occurred (e.g. petty theft), then there is a victim and a perpetrator. The conflict is between those two parties and no one else. It can then be resolved by use of an arbitration (court) proceeding to uncover fault. Assuming the thief is at fault, he has an obligation to make all parties whole (the entity that apprehended him, the court that adjudicated the facts, and of course the victim). To simplify things we’ll assume the insurance carrier of the victim has made all parties whole. Now the insurance carrier has a rightful claim against the thief. It seeks to be made whole. Stated differently, the thief has a debt obligation to that insurance carrier. If the thief cannot pay immediately, then those two parties can come to a mutual agreement as to how that debt will be discharged. They are not constrained by any “laws” – they may agree to whatever they wish. There are many options, but one option could be a voluntary arrangement with a private “prison” (if you can call it that) that would discharge the debt to the insurance carrier in exchange for a certain amount of labor. The thief would have many of these private prisons to choose from and he is under no obligation to choose this path at all – therefore such private prisons would compete for such a labor source, enticing their customers with favorable terms. Indeed, conditions would most assuredly be far more favorable than in any public or private prison system today. After all, if they don’t please their customers (the voluntary “prisoners”) then they won’t be in business for long.

Public-private partnerships will always be corrupted by perverse incentives if the company providing the service is not directly accountable to the customer.

Debate Over?

Proponents of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming aka human caused climate change) are getting a bit nervous. A number of recent polls suggest they are beginning to lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the public. Granted, still about half of Americans believe in AGW, but that number is declining. So how do the champions of climate change choose to turn this tide? By engaging in a positive information campaign? By answering the questions of their critic’s head on in a forthright, open, and honest manner? No. Rather than shine a light they hand out blinders. More and more of them outright refuse to engage in any kind of debate (e.g. Gavin Schmidt refused to even sit at a table on air with a slightly skeptical fellow climatologist on The Stossel Show). And it’s not just scientists playing this game; the state apologist media eagerly snuffs out any hint of dissent. The Los Angeles Times refuses to publish letters to the editor that hold a skeptical position on AGW. The BBC refuses to air debates on the topic. Michael Mann (of “ClimateGate” fame) attempts to suppress those that would question his scientific conclusions regarding climate change by seeking the protection of the state. To wit, he convinced a judge that it is a violation of his rights for such skeptics to “question his intellect and reasoning.”

But it is the latest tactic that is the most frightening. Some have proposed to throw into the state’s dungeons those that have the audacity to publicly not conform to the officially sanctioned viewpoint on AGW (see here and here . Yes, you read that correctly: many now desire to make it illegal to publicly question AGW. Well I suppose that is one approach to winning an argument: gag your critics. Even the most contentious science-centered public debate of the 20th century, evolution vs creationism, never drew calls from either side to criminalize the opposing view. What are those pushing the AGW agenda so afraid of? If the science is so overwhelmingly on their side they should be able to wipe the floor with the skeptics. And by skeptics I mean genuine science-based skepticism, not conspiracy theorists. There are actual legitimate scientific questions concerning the magnitude, rate and quality of expected changes as well as the extent to which human activity has contributed to those changes.

Climate change will be to the 21st century what Keynesian economics was to the 20th century: a “science” backed justification to expand the power of the state.

They claim the science is settled and thus debate would be pointless, however their behavior reveals this to be a spurious excuse. They scorn not solely skeptics but likewise those in 100% agreement with their scientific conclusions – when, that is, such individuals (i.e. Bjorn Lomborg ) have the temerity to question the conventional wisdom of proposed ameliorative solutions. It’s not about the science; it’s about what many want to do in the name of science. Climate change will be to the 21st century what Keynesian economics was to the 20th century: a “science” backed justification to expand the power of the state. If those in power can slap the science label on their political ideology in order to shut down all debate, then even the fantasy that democracy can solve all problems will not long endure. No vote necessary dear citizen, science says we’re right.

“The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no place in the endeavor of science.” (Carl Sagan, Cosmos, pg 91).

Science is supposed to be a process of uncovering truths about the natural world. It is always open to the possibility of revision in light of new information or insights. To suppress new information or insights is to short circuit any hope of moving closer to the truth. Maybe the skeptics are wrong, maybe they are right, but simply telling them to “shut up” is not how science works. Science should never be rejected – but scientists, whose behavior runs counter to the scientific method, should be rebuked. Although Carl Sagan was one of the earliest proponents of the dangers of climate change, he, as a scientist, would be aghast at the current state of debate on the subject: “The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no place in the endeavor of science.” (Carl Sagan, Cosmos, pg 91).

 

April 07 / 2014
Author Greg Morin
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Vaccines: How Quickly We Forget

There is an all too common form of argumentation today. I call it argumentum ad forgetum. In this argument the proponent has lost site of all perspective on the origins of benefits gifted to them. They have forgotten the path others employed to bring them where they now stand. And so ignoring the path’s utility, they seek to destroy it. Burning bridges, as it were. While this 20/20 hind-blindness afflicts many today, nowhere is it more prevalent than among the anti-vaccination crowd. The increasing quantity and magnitude of outbreaks of formerly vanquished diseases (measles, whooping cough, polio) is a chilling reminder of the aphorism, “those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

The modern anti-vaccination movement had its genesis in a fraudulent study (since retracted) that claimed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Once that study was thoroughly debunked and discredited, the anti-vaccination front changed tactics. They employed FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). Scary sounding vaccine ingredients are plastered on anti-vaccination websites in order to bolster fear and uncertainty. Complex names are “bad” by mere virtue of sounding scary. Side effects are presented absent the context of concentration. Concentration matters: even water will kill if you drink too much. In point of fact, those scary sounding ingredients are no more harmful than common processed food ingredients we eat everyday. Even when childhood vaccines contained thimerosal  (ethyl-mercury) (they no longer do since 2001 due to autism hysteria) the amounts were so low that one could arguably receive a higher dose of mercury from a tuna sandwich than from a vaccine. The third prong (doubt) of their attack is to obliquely cite statistics that imply rates of disease were declining dramatically before vaccine use. For example, it is often cited that measles in the US declined by 96% before its vaccine was implemented in 1963. But push a little deeper – what they either omit or pass over quickly is that it was rates of death from measles that declined by that amount, not rates of the disease itself. This of course makes sense in light of improvements in childhood nutrition in the early 20th century. All things being equal, a weak, malnourished child is more likely to die from a disease then is a hardy, well-nourished child. To suggest that because death rates declined without vaccines we therefore don’t need vaccines is foolish. There are a many other debilitating effects (brain damage, deafness, paralysis) of these diseases that will have a profound impact on a child’s life.

Helping the immune system combat and prevent disease involves the use of many tools: sanitation, nutrition and vaccination. None of these alone is 100% effective. Even when all three are combined there is no guarantee of 100% effectiveness in all individuals. Herd immunity (augmented through vaccination) helps ameliorate that issue by reducing the overall probability of infection in a given individual. But, if more and more of the herd is not vaccinated then the probability that any one individual will be exposed increases, putting at risk both the voluntarily and involuntarily unvaccinated (as well as the vaccinated who unluckily fall into the minority of vaccine insensitive individuals). In this respect, forgoing vaccinations that put others at risk of death or permanent debilitation is selfish. Although selfishness should never be illegal, it will always be socially shunned.

So does this mean we should blindly follow the state and accept whatever elixir they wish to inject into our children or us? Certainly not. Be skeptical, ask questions and seek answers from those with expertise and a positive reputation (not self-anointed internet gurus). Weigh the benefits and risks. Just because some vaccines might not seem worth the risks doesn’t necessarily mean you should reject all vaccines. Likewise, just because some vaccines are worth the risks, doesn’t mean all vaccines are necessarily warranted. But most of all, don’t jump to conclusions and remember that correlation is not causation.

March 31 / 2014
Author Greg Morin
Comments 2 Comments

Equality for All

“That all men are created equal” is the cornerstone of modern society. This sentiment is however somewhat paradoxical in being both simultaneously true and untrue. The truth flows from the recognition of a necessary commonality of the Natural Rights of all humans. It would be a logical contradiction to assert such rights for oneself whilst simultaneously excluding a grant of that same right on one’s neighbors. Therefore any asserted rights must exist equally for all ipso facto equality of all with respect to their rights.

But upon moving from the philosophical to the physical realm we see that the truth of this statement evaporates. Some people are tall, short, fat, thin, fast, slow, smart, or challenged. We are far from equal. By far the most significant molder of human history has been the strong/weak dichotomy. Throughout history the law of the jungle has ruled virtually all human interactions; the physically strong exploit the physically weak because the gains vastly exceed the costs. The cavemen did it, ancient kings did it, American Indian tribes did it, and the large nation-states of today do it to both those without (via annexation) and within (through taxation). But it is not merely groups that exert violence upon the weak; individual interactions play on this stage all too frequently.

Prior to the existence of guns there were not many options left to the physically weak when confronted with a would-be rapist or mugger. They could run, fight or submit; but being weaker they were destined to lose no matter which route they chose. The invention of the gun changed the balance of power. In short, the gun erases the chasm of physical inequality and puts both the strong and weak on an equal footing. No more must women submit to the designs of the rapist. No more must one choose between being robbed or being nearly beaten to death for resisting.

In a prior article I suggested that a hypothetically ideal world would be one where we could wave a magic wand and all guns would disappear. In retrospect this would be anything but ideal. It would once again permit the physically strong to exploit the physically weak through violence.

Those that argue for total gun prohibitions question the need for anyone to own a weapon. They fail to understand that a violent maniac who kills or wounds an innocent is misusing their weapon no differently then had they used a hammer or knife. No one suggests we outlaw hammers because someone might misuse it because we recognize the utility of the hammer. So what then, if any, is the utility of the gun? Equality. More than any other other invention, the gun makes manifest in the physical world the striven for truth of our highest ideal, that “all men are created equal.”

March 24 / 2014
Author Greg Morin
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Eye in the Sky

Man, I really hate being right all the time! Just last June I made the hypothetical assertion that in the not too distant future the government would be spying on our driving habits from the sky, “… drones so high in the sky you won’t even know they are there…will allow the government to decide if your car should be allowed on certain roads at certain times” (full comment here). Although the latter part of my prediction (using that information to restrict our movements) has not come to pass (yet), the former nearly did just begin. It was reported recently that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ordered (and then cancelled after massive public outcry) a plan to implement a national license plate tracking system. Yes, you read that correctly. National license plate tracking. Hello – this is George Orwell, he’d like his book “1984” back, he’s tired of those in charge using it as a guide rather than a warning.

This plan was initiated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency (a division of DHS) and was only made public because the agency (fortunately) does not have the ability to accomplish this on their own, therefore they put out requests for proposals from private companies. Apparently they were hoping such a system would help them track down fugitive illegal immigrants. Yes, clearly the immigrants we really want to deport are the ones that have come to this country and earned enough that they can actually afford an automobile. Those guys are just parasites on the system.

But, this is not something new. License plate reading is already going on across the country. Law enforcement uses it now to track down specific suspects. Presumably any information about non-targets is discarded in short order (one would hope). But even if it is not quickly discarded, the limited size of most jurisdictions constrains the degree of privacy loss to be no greater than if a few of your friends saw you driving about. The real danger, however, comes from federalizing all of these systems and assembling them into one all encompassing nationwide tracking web (Matrix?) that can determine precisely where each of us has been. Fortunately the plans were cancelled, however that does little to assuage fears that ultimately this will one day be a reality.

What did those in power learn? Don’t be dumb enough to publicize requests to spy on your citizens. Next time they will build their own solutions and we will have no way of knowing anything about them. Although the proposed system did not employ drones (as I predicted) the intended result was the same as my prediction: track people’s movement in their car. In the end though it is likely that drones will be the preferred tracking method. Our government already uses them extensively and could deploy them now with little fanfare. This fact, when coupled with a new NHTS rule that requires “black boxes” in all new cars by September 2014, could mean in the not too distant future that “upgrades” to these boxes in combination with drones built to track the unique signature of each black box will mean the government could have access to live, real time movement data of everyone on the road. Farfetched? Well, time will tell. But ten years ago who would have believed that our government would one day be tracking us on line, reading our e-mails, recording our phone calls, or spying on us through our webcams. The combination of technology and government’s insatiable desire to control the citizenry make such predictions all too easy.

March 18 / 2014

DST: Daylight Savings Tax

When told the reason for daylight saving time, the Old Indian said, “Only the Government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”

Daylight Savings Time is that peculiar tradition whereby we get up an hour early but pretend we didn’t. A bit like pretending we lost 10 lbs because we turned the zero point on the scale to -10 lbs. The real mystery though is why DST is a government-mandated program. Since there is no obvious crony that benefits from it, it must fall into that broader category of laws known as the Nanny Statutes, that is, laws enacted by those who simply enjoy telling the rest of us how to live our lives.

The putative goal of DST, to give us more daylight in the evening hours, is preposterous on its face. It is daylight tax and spend hocus-pocus that tricks us into thinking the day is longer because we “see” the extra evening hour but don’t see the morning hour of daylight we lost. Of course this begs the question: why are we trying to add hours to a day that is already getting longer? It’s a bit greedy if you think about it. As the days get longer on both ends in the summer, there are those that want to redistribute daylight from the morning to the evening. This is great for night owls, but what of the early birds (like some of us crazy runners that run at 5:30 am)? We’ve had our early hour of daylight stolen away!

The current “green” appeal to DST is that it will save energy. But even a cursory analysis reveals that the tradeoff between fewer light bulbs burning vs longer hours of air conditioning operation will result in a net increase in energy usage. And then there are the safety issues. All things being equal, it is always less safe to drive in the dark. All things being equal, a child standing at a bus stop in the dark is more likely to be accidentally struck. Additionally, there is no accounting for the expenditure of countless collective hours fitfully engaged in the semi-annual secret-handshake of the clock reset.

Given the mutually exclusive (“I want more evening light!”, “Well I want more morning light!”) there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will satisfy everyone. In this case there is no right or wrong answer. But with the current government mandate of DST, all are forced to endure the top-down one-size-fits-all solution. DST is essentially a solution in search of a problem. The solution to that solution though is to remove government mandate from the equation. Allow the people and businesses to determine for themselves what works best. Leave the darn clocks alone and shift your own schedule around if needed. If a business benefits by having their doors open only during daylight, then they can shift their hours anytime during the year to best serve their customers. Think this could never work? That it would be total chaos? Well, dear reader, once upon a time in this country people found solutions to problems on their own. The most apropos example here is that of time zones. It was private business (the railroads) that established the time zone system we use today. They did not mandate it by decree; they simply set it up for themselves to simplify the nightmare of hundreds of different city based time regions. Soon enough it became easier to simply refer to “railroad time” and in short order the people collectively and freely chose to follow a system that benefited them. It wasn’t until nearly 40 years later that government redundantly lumbered onto the scene and memorialized into statute what was already common practice. Of course this begs the question: if it worked for 40 years before becoming law, what exactly did making it a law achieve?

March 11 / 2014

Bad Bill Strikeout

Georgia now has its own variant of the Arizona “religious freedom” bill (recently vetoed by that state’s governor) known as HB 1023  (“Preservation of Religious Freedom Act”). At first blush the Georgia bill appears to uphold the libertarian principal of the right of association (i.e. the right to decide who we do or do not associate with). However, upon further analysis I have come to the conclusion that this is a bad bill and should be opposed. For those that don’t already know, the bill essentially says that if a person acts with a religious motivation then they are immune from any and all laws, ordinances, rules or regulations that might otherwise restrict the actions they undertook as a result of their religious convictions. Taken literally one could claim immunity from murder and theft if one stated it was motivated by religious belief. So on its face it is hyperbolically broad. Strike 1.

Proponents of this bill are engaged in a bit of prophylactic legal wrangling. It is currently completely legal to discriminate against homosexuals. But despite this apparent lack of protection there has been virtually no private sector discrimination of homosexuals. In fact the biggest discriminator against homosexuals has been the public sector aka government (non-recognition of marriage, non-equality in the tax code, etc.). Recently though two isolated cases of a wedding cake maker and photographer refusing to sell their services to gay couples under a highly specific scenario (wedding) has risen to the national news level. Following this outrage theater set on the national stage, the extreme Christian right felt the writing was on the wall and it would only be a matter of time until their views on homosexuals would be not just socially but legally verboten. Their only course of action? Legalize (or rather outlaw the illegality of) their peculiar brand of bigotry. Through this bit of legislative memorialization they attempt to normalize their position in society. Because, you see, if something is a “law” then that means it is “ok”, and conversely, if something is illegal then that means it is “bad.” Without laws to tell us right from wrong we would be rudderless in an ocean of moral ambiguity. Yes, sarcasm.

Racism, bigotry, sexism, ageism, insert-your-own-ism-here-ism are stupid, ignorant, sad, hateful, preposterous and irrational. But what they are not is criminal. In other words, it should always be legal to be a first class jerk. While we don’t need laws against boorish behavior in order to know it is unacceptable, we also don’t need laws that place the seal of state approval on such behavior either. Strike 2.

This bill does get it half-right on one front though. Everybody should have the right to act on their beliefs. But, this freedom should not be restricted solely to those possessing the religious get out of jail free card. Religious freedom is merely one flavor of natural rights based freedoms. Respecting everyone’s freedom means recognizing the fact that we each have the right to live our lives as we see fit, as long as we do not employ violence or the threat thereof to prevent others from doing the same. So, rather than exempting a subset of people from all laws, this bill should instead exempt a subset of laws from all people. In other words, it wimps out where it really counts: freedom. Strike 3.

To think that the fabric of society would fall to tatters without flecks of ink scattered upon slices of dead trees is to ignore the true source of order in society: the people. The vast majority of people behave in a civilized manner because the vast majority of people are not evil. Ask yourself, if all laws were repealed tomorrow do you truly fear that your friends, neighbors, and co-workers, would all try to rob and kill each other? Would you behave any differently than you do today?

March 04 / 2014

Ends and Means

Suppose the following: In order to prevent crimes against children there exist laws that require all residences and offices to be wired with cameras that record all activity. Furthermore, this practice has existed for decades and is simply accepted by the populace as a necessary intrusion of privacy. Most feel they have nothing to hide and so quietly accept the intrusion. Occasionally though this tool is used to harass and intimidate those who are out of favor with those running the State. Unfortunately though, in spite of these abuses, the acceptance of a “greater good” arising from this system weakens any widespread dissent. Now suppose an elected official finally objects to this system. Suppose they propose a repeal of the law enforcing this system.  Does this mean they are “for” crimes against children? Or does it simply mean they are against State sponsored violations of basic human rights? To take an even more extreme example: if it were shown that killing all males over the age of 30 entirely eliminates all crimes against children, should we thus enact such a law? If we did so, would the proposed repeal of such a law imply we are “for” those that would commit crimes against children?

It is entirely possible to be unified in the ends we seek while disagreeing over the most appropriate means to achieve those ends. Just because some particular set of means might achieve an end does not imply or prove it is the ONLY or BEST way to achieve that end. Objecting to an odious set of means does not imply an objection to its ends. Those that make such assertions are intellectual midgets, political opportunists all too eager to play upon the fears of the crowd as they employ cowardly straw man attacks.

So what is the point of my little tale above? To wit, Georgia Representative Sam Moore has introduced a bill (HB 1033) that would repeal all state laws related to loitering (defined as being on public property, ejection from private property is always permitted). Such laws empower local authorities to harass and intimidate (also known as profiling) those that they feel “look wrong” or “may be up to no good.” Current anti-loitering laws (GA §16-11-36) impose upon the citizens of this state a duty to produce proof of identity when such an inquiry is made under color of law enforcement. Current law states the officer may graciously allow one to prove their innocence “by requesting the person to identify himself and explain his presence and conduct.” To be clear this does not relate to probable cause (i.e. unambiguous evidence of potential or actual malfeasance), it solely relates to pure gut instinct, and nothing more. That these laws have stood for so many years is a ludicrous offense to a country supposedly founded on individual liberty. Sam Moore should be praised for his courage in opposing the status quo, not vilified with a false narrative.

But that’s not really the part of the bill that has gotten so many fired up. Legislation, like making sausage, is messy. Frequently new legislation that overrides parts of other unrelated legislation is added years later. Although the statutes related to loitering have nothing to do with restrictions on registered sex offenders, those statutes make reference to the loitering statutes so as to supersede any restrictions against them. Thus this bill (HB 1033) repeals those other statutes as well to ensure the complete and absolute abolishment of all anti-loitering laws. What ?!? Police can’t indiscriminately ask anyone for proof of identity just because they happen to be near a school or church? Clearly Sam Moore must hate children. It’s simply not possible that he is just as much against those that would harm children as his critics but simply feels there is a more effective route to achieving this end than maintaining Nazi-esque unconstitutional “prove-your-innocence” laws. These laws are in fact racist holdovers from the Jim Crow era recycled with a new purpose; to fool the credulous into believing the lie that such laws will protect our children. They do no such thing. They simply create a false sense of security that lulls us into complacency, making it more, not less, likely that such a predator will succeed.

 

Unionvergnügen

In the words of Bob King, President of the United Autoworkers Union (UAW), the UAW has no long-term future if they cannot expand their membership into Southern auto plants. And it looks like that day may come sooner than anyone expected: workers at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee recently voted by a margin of 53-47% against joining the UAW. The loss is even more stunning considering that VW welcomed and actively encouraged the UAW with open arms. Why were they so welcoming? Not only do labor interests make up half of the Germany based VW board, but VW was also keen to establish a German-style “works council” in their American plants. However, American labor law barred them from doing so – unless workers were unionized. Oh the irony; anti-union laws actually induced a company to invite unionization. Talk about unintended consequences!

But all is not lost. Perhaps if Bob King and the rest of the UAW were to adopt a more libertarian stance toward labor laws and thus began a push to have all such laws repealed, the UAW might actually have a fighting chance. Why do I say this? Consider the vote; 47% of the workers actually WANTED union representation, but, as with union voting and democracy the “majority rules” so the desires of the minority are simply squashed and ignored. But what if the 47% that wanted to join were simply allowed to join and the 53% that didn’t want to join did not? Would the sky fall? VW could deal with the 53% just the way they always have and then also deal with the newly unionized 47% however the union wished to proceed. If the union could accomplish those things it claimed for the workers then more workers would join of their own free will. And if the union failed to deliver, then workers would be free to leave as well. If VW wants to establish a “workers council” then let them. Why should some law stand in their way? But this law slashing cuts both ways. If the UAW approached say a Toyota plant but Toyota wanted nothing to do with the union then that is also their right. There should be no law forcing Toyota to negotiate with a union just as there should be no law forcing an employer to hire certain people. Freedom to choose with whom you associate is a fundamental natural right and it should not be abridged for wholly arbitrary and misguided notions of “fairness” implemented by sore losers that didn’t get their way.

Now some might say “oh that could never work, the non-unionized would “free-ride” off the non-exclusionary benefits of union backed negotiations.” Beyond better candy in the vending machine or more comfortable climate control settings I’m not really sure what these benefits could be, but even if that were the case, surely the value of the exclusionary benefits should vastly outweigh the trivial non-exclusionary fringe benefits of union proximity. One may derive some personal enjoyment benefit from viewing the country club’s grounds but such benefits pale in comparison to the amenities that the paying members may enjoy. If that is not the same situation with a union then that is one pathetic union.

In order for everyone to exercise their right of free association all laws relating to unions and labor must be repealed. Laws that compel union membership are as injurious to liberty as laws prohibiting it.

February 18 / 2014
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