Category Archives: Current events

A Blind Hen…

As the saying goes, even a blind hen finds corn. Georgia House Bill 523 is just that bit of legislative corn. Typically it is large, distant governing bodies (federal and/or state) that impose upon their subsidiaries egregious violations of individual liberty. These large bodies commonly compel all to march in lock step with their directives irrespective of the preferences of the smaller communities and individuals. But as Yoda says, “size matters not.” Small governing bodies may be just as injurious to individual rights as large bodies. House Bill 523 is trying to right the wrongs that numerous local, city, and county governments have inflicted on their citizens. In short, House Bill 523 would remove the legal authority for such communities to restrict the property rights of those who wish to engage in “short term” rentals (under 30 days) of their homes. HB 523 has been dubbed the “AirBnB” bill because it is attempting to restore the rights of homeowners to use their property as they see fit with respect to these rentals. Many local communities currently impose either outright bans on such short-term rentals or onerous restrictions (such as being forced to plead one’s case in front of a board of commissioners – basically begging to be permitted to use their own property). This bill would do away with these regulations and render the local governing bodies impotent in this domain.

The indignant outcries from the local communities’ governing leaders (e.g. Morgan County which encompasses a wide swath of lake homes and charming antebellum abodes – see this article (behind paywall)) concerning this bill is deafening in its hypocrisy. Why this is a blatant violation of THEIR right to violate the rights of those that live in their community! This ranks right up there with the indignation of slave owners who were forced to free their slaves after the Civil War – “I can’t believe what is being done to me!” These are the same people that will put their hand over their heart and recite the pledge of allegiance while fondly reflecting on the phrase “liberty and justice for all” and then with a straight face tell a homeowner, “no, sorry, we have the right to tell you how you may or may not use YOUR property.” Yep, nothing illustrates pursuit of happiness better than other people imposing their will on you.

The objections to HB 523 run the usual gamut of crony-capitalism, protectionism, and nods toward the protection of existing homeowners. Unsurprisingly existing bed and breakfasts and local hoteliers oppose this bill since AirBnB and similar real estate sharing activities threaten their business. But it is not the domain of government to protect the economic interests of businesses by restricting competition  – regardless of how rampant this behavior may otherwise be across this country (from taxi medallions, to Certificate of Need laws, to food truck regulations and similar “turf” zoning). The other concern raised is typical fear-mongering; paint a worst case scenario to the constituents and then step in and offer a solution to prevent said scenario, “well, this might happen, so let’s ban it.” But of course existing laws prohibiting public nuisance or excessive noise already cover the scenarios they outline; there is no need for additional restrictive controls.  

In fact, this bill is so astutely crafted that it carves out an exception for existing private protective covenants that govern short-term rentals. Why? Because protective covenants are voluntary contracts: one may opt in or out by buying or not buying property governed by them. But this is not so with ordinances and regulations, they come and go and change with the prevailing political winds so it is impossible to ever be sure what your property rights will be in one, five or ten years. Perhaps HB 523 will change just a bit of that.

Hypocrisy on Trial

Trump is going to win re-election. Bigly. And the Democrats have ironically all but guaranteed that result with this head-scratching insane witch-hunt of impeachment. The political class may think they have uncovered a cleaver loophole to abort their least favorite President but the rest of us, the American public, can see right through their subterfuge. The core of the argument for impeachment demonstrates the willful hypocrisy so often demonstrated by both parties against the other. They are literally saying that Trump’s political extortion to expose Biden’s political extortion is impeachable whereas Biden’s identical behavior is perfectly fine. Furthermore, these aren’t mere allegations against Biden – we literally have video of him bragging about doing just that. Biden boasted about how he got Ukraine to drop an investigation into Burisma Holdings Ltd in front of a small entourage by insisting if they didn’t do what he asked the foreign aid they had been promised would not be forthcoming. Sound familiar? That seems like an odd request for  a Vice-President. Why would he be so interested in the internal machinations inside Ukraine? Well it just so happens that his son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board of Burisma at the time. Of course no one in the corporate press seems curious to ask how Hunter Biden managed to secure a million dollar a year sinecure on the board of one of the largest Ukrainian natural gas companies. I’m sure it was complete coincidence that this dropped right into his lap while his father was Vice-President. Nothing to see here, move along, move along. 

Basically the new standard they are trying to set in Congress is that as soon as a politician is running for political office they are immune from all investigations of potential wrong doing. The only entity that could open such investigations is the government. And those in the government in the same party as the candidate certainly aren’t going to open such investigations. So that leaves only people from the other party. So the second someone from the other party suggests to open an investigation they themselves will be hauled before Congress on violation of “ethics” rules for having even proposed such a thing.

So what Trump intimated be done is no different than if say Exxon had a new CEO and that CEO asked that some outside party investigate the former CEO because there was strong evidence of wrongdoing. Let’s even say that former CEO was still on the board and seeking to claim his spot again. Even then, would anyone object to this scenario? Seems perfectly reasonable shareholders would want to know if there were wrong doing at the top of their company. Seems perfectly reasonable we would want to know if Biden engaged in unethical horse-trading during his tenure as VP.

Trump simply asked for the matter to be looked into. He didn’t ask them to “get him” by fabricating evidence. It is entirely possible the results could have been to fully exonerate Biden. There is no way to say a priori this request would necessarily benefit Trump politically. Firstly, it was unknown (and still is) who the final Democratic nominee for president will be, and secondly, it was equally likely that Biden could have been cleared or have implicated in something inappropriate. 

The final irony here is that what Trump (or Biden) actually did is something that nearly all politicians do all the time. They are constantly making deals to advance their own interests – that is literally how they get most votes for their bills, e.g. the old “you vote for my bill, I’ll vote for yours.” How is that ethical? A politician willing to undermine the interests of their constituents to advance their own political capital is certainly engaging in far more egregious behavior that what Trump is accused of. He literally was suggesting that a foreign country would not get a GIFT of OUR money unless they help him investigate possible FRAUD committed by a former elected official. Oh, the horrors! Lock up that monster now!

Warren’s Healthcare Plan Dead on Arrival

The likely Democratic front-runner, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has at long last lifted the proverbial kimono to reveal the wizardry by which she proposes to fund the so-called “Medicare for All.” She has long insisted her plan would require no new taxes for the middle class while deftly sidestepping questions seeking details on the funding scheme. Those details have now been revealed and it is apparent that the veracity of her prior assertions depends on her definition of “tax”, “middle class”, and “total costs.” In Warren’s world a payment that the government requires you to make is not a tax but rather a “contribution.” Ok. Although Democrats are not shy about wanting to drain your wallet via taxation, they assiduously avoid associating themselves with that particular term, instead opting to use feel-good Orwellian phrases such as the “Affordable” Care Act’s “shared responsibility payment.” Other common taxation weasel words include “revenue,” or board/department of “equalization” when referring to the entity responsible for taking the money. The Department of Theft would be more honest, but I digress. 

The crux of the financial underpinnings for her plan rely on a new employer mandate, that is, a “contribution” paid by every “large” (whatever that means) employer to the federal government in place of the amount they used to pay in health insurance premiums. But I’m sure that amount will never go up, just like the original income tax rate of 6% was promised to never increase. New government programs always cost exactly what they are estimated to and efficiently achieve their stated goals. 

But wait, there’s more. The remaining funding for her plan relies on what George Bush senior would have charitably called “voodoo economics.” It makes broad assumptions about economic growth and how much can be saved by consolidating services under the federal umbrella as well as laughable estimates of how much more tax revenue can be brought in by increasing IRS enforcements efforts. How tone-deaf does a candidate have to be to propose increasing IRS audits? Truly, Americans love nothing more than the prospect of an IRS audit. It’s right up there with Root Canals for All. 

But don’t take my word for it. Just listen to what her fellow Democrats have to say about this plan. Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign went on the record stating that,

For months, Elizabeth Warren has refused to say if her health care plan would raise taxes on the middle class, and now we know why: because it does. Senator Warren would place a new tax of nearly $9 trillion that will fall on American workers.”

Additionally, the Urban Institute (a highly regarded liberal think tank) projects a Warren/Sanders style single payer plan would raise health care spending by $7 trillion over a decade, while healthcare economics Kenneth Thorpe finds such a plan would increase costs to more than 70% of people who currently have private insurance. And these are people on the left!

To briefly touch on the economics of her new “contribution” it should be obvious this would have the side effect of suppressing future earnings of the very middle class she is pandering to. Economics is (partly) the study of the seen and the unseen (Bastiat). The seen benefit here is the “free” healthcare. The unseen result is that future wages and hires will necessarily be lower in comparison to a world where this new “contribution” does not exist. Companies do not have an infinite supply of money; if resources are mandated toward an MFA payment scheme, then that much less will be available for raises, new hires, and expansion of operations. In short this new tax would be a million ton anchor on the American economy. To suggest one can add $20 trillion in new spending without harmful economic consequences is either deranged or willfully dishonest. Neither is a good option from a presidential candidate.

Trump’s Troop Withdrawal, Spark of Peace?

How do you know when Donald Trump is doing the right thing? When the D’s & R’s are equally outraged. This past week Trump managed to trigger the neocons on the left and right into autistic apoplexy with his directive that US forces be withdrawn from northern Syria. What have the troops been doing there? Glad you asked. The US forces were allied with the Kurds who were busy fighting ISIS. ISIS tried to establish a new Islamic state in part of Kurdish territory a few years ago out of the chaos that arose from the Syrian “civil” war (or more aptly described by Tulsi Gabbard as the “Syrian regime change war”). This US instigated proxy regime change war utilized most fully the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The US decided, on Obama’s watch, to fund and arm Al-Qaida (the guys that brought down the Twin Towers, yes those guys) because they were willing to fight President Assad’s forces in Syria on our behalf.

The Deep State (aka The Swamp) wants war. They want death. They want chaos. Why? Money and power; but mostly money. As long as people are killing each other they’ll need weapons to do so. It is a viciously endless Yin and Yang of death. Each party will gladly participate in murders half a world away to keep the music playing. Step 1: foment war. Step 2: sell weapons. Step 3: use weapon sales profits to keep war-friendly politicians in power. Wash, rinse, repeat. And if anyone tries to interrupt this broken record, then smear them as “obviously” being some sort of traitor or “in the pocket” of the enemy du jour (today that being Russia and/or Iran). The contradiction of the smears is laughable at best. For example, the claim now is that Trump is simultaneously in the pocket of Ukraine and Russia; two countries whose long-standing animosity make this assertion incoherent. Likewise, just this week, Tulsi Gabbard (Representative from Hawaii, military combat veteran, and Democrat candidate for President) has been accused of being a Russian asset by Hillary Clinton. Gabbard brooks no smears and shot back,

“The reason why she’s doing this is because she knows that she can’t control me. She knows that she’s not going to be able to manipulate me if I’m elected president to be able to continue these warmongering policies that she has championed.”

Trump is no angel but his instincts, at least when it comes to killing people, are in the right place. Please recall that when Iran shot down an unmanned US drone a few weeks ago Trump rightly called off a counter attack that would have killed dozens if not hundreds of people because Iran broke our toy. Response in the corporate press: apoplexy. But when he ordered an air strike early in his first year in office the response in the corporate media was nothing but effusive praise for how “presidential” he was. It would seem the presidency is like joining the mafia; you aren’t a “made man” until you’ve killed someone. 

Fortunately, Trump’s impatience with these endless wars was correct. Not even a week after the announced withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria, the Kurds have negotiated with Syria and Russia to provide them protection from a potential invasion by Turkey. The US bemoaning the idea that Russia now might exert more influence in Syria is as absurd as were Russia to decry US influence in the Panama Canal. Peace is on the horizon. Whether that horizon is a dawn or dusk depends on Trump’s ability to keep the war hawks in check. 

Every Breath (of CO2) You Take – “We’ll be watching you”

The noted 18th century British essayist Samuel Johnson is perhaps best know for his statement, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” This is often misunderstood to be a disparagement of patriotism, but, in fact, is quite the opposite. Johnson was casting aspersions against those who shield their true motives beneath a banner of a noble ideal. Apropos the shielding of true motivations: the modern era “climate” crusaders. If I may be so bold as to pen as variant of this principle, “Children are the last refuge of the undefendable.” 

            The most current example of this principle (argumentum ad liberi) is manifested in a one Greta Thunberg. She is the physical incarnation of the modern climate campaign. And her address to the UN is the likely apotheosis of that movement. A child is the perfect avatar for a cause whose sole call to action is predicated on future calamities. And who will be here in that future? Children, of course! Being a child she is granted immunity from all criticism because this then facilitates casting such a critic as a misanthropic ogre (and we’ve already seen this dance play out in the media in the past week any time she has been criticized). Cue my critics in 3, 2, 1 and…

            But of course this is not her doing. We cannot blame her, she is after all only a child. She is but a tool, a puppet, for a movement whose roots extend far back into the last century. No, not environmentalism, but rather Marxism (aka communism). These 21st century Climate Marxists are political watermelons (green on the outside and red on the inside). Marxists are adept at pitting one “class” of people against another in order to foment unrest and animosity that they can capitalize (ironically) on in order to effect their political ideals in society. This pattern emerged during the Russian revolution and repeated throughout the 20th century (China, Cuba, Cambodia, Vietnam). Everywhere it was tried it was an abysmal failure that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions who did not want to be a part of their utopic commune. And now they are trying again. 

            Seeing as how capitalism raised the standard of living for billions in the last century and reduced absolute poverty from 90% to around 10% today, clearly the anti-capitalism message is rapidly losing its strength. But then along came “climate change” to breath new life into a dying movement. The appeal of this cause célèbre is that it doesn’t matter if the details are correct or not, what is important is that we “do something.” And of course that something, in their view, is to radically alter the global economy in order to “save” the planet. But leaders have been slow or recalcitrant to implement their favored policies. Potential damage is decades away. Time to shorten the timetable and pull out the big guns: children. 

            The current climate alarmism lobby is now taking a page from the Chinese communists propaganda playbook.  They used children in their propaganda as a means to shame adults into conforming.  And that is exactly what Greta set out to do. From her opening remark ,

“My message is that we’ll be watching you”

to her closing statement,

“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you”

were remarkable in their capacity to cram so much shaming, hate, anger, and implied revenge into such a short speech. Her statements sound more like dialogue from “The Godfather” than the expected plaintive pleas of a young schoolgirl afraid for her future.

            But the mask is off now. If these “climate” extremists get voted into power you can fully expect unyielding persecution, subjugation, or worse to any that would stand in their way (“How dare you oppose us! Why do you hate the planet so much comrade?”). The 20th century’s mountain of corpses stands as a testament to what the extreme left is willing to do to its opponents to achieve their ends. And they would have zero qualms about a repeat of the Ukrainian Holodomor on a global scale. This is not hyperbole. The stated “solutions” to keeping temperature rise below 1.5 °C would quite literally sentence several billions to death by starvation. Without carbon or nuclear-based fuels there is no serious short-term alternative to maintain the current global standard of living and food supplies. If we go back to the future of 1850’s technology within 10 years then population must necessarily fall from today’s 7 billion to the 1 billion back then. And this is entirely ignoring the concomitant drop in standard of living, as manual labor must increase without an equivalent supply of power. Ironically their boogeyman “income inequality” would skyrocket to what it was in the 19th century with mostly those in government occupying the upper echelons of income and power (a pattern by the way seen in every communist/Marxist regime). Of course this would be perfectly fine since many of those on the left (from Paul Ehrlich of “Population Bomb” fame, to the Club of Rome) have called from drastic reductions in global population.  

“Our aim is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to change the global economic system…”

UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres (Feb 2015)

“The common enemy of humanity is Man. In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill..”

– The Club of Rome Premier environmental think-tank and consultants to the United Nations. 

Anything Goes!

This past week Trump’s Energy Department announced a relaxation of a set of light-bulb energy efficiency standards (EISA) first implemented under George W. Bush and finalized under Obama. The standards were set to go into full effect in January 2020 (eliminating incandescent versions of three-way bulbs, candle-shaped, globe-shaped and reflector bulbs). 

The autistic screeching from the corporate press and leftist “public policy” lackeys only underscores the lengths to which “the Cathedral” will go to in order to maintain the hell-fire of climate alarmism. For Cathedral adherents the sky is quite literally falling. It is because of their prescient guidance that the rest of us are corralled into doing “the right thing” – namely spending $10 on a bulb to save $15 in electricity – over the next 30 years. Even though the market has always deprecated older technology in favor of newer, we just can’t wait when it comes to energy efficiency. In the words of New York Times columnist John Schwartz, we need the federal government to “force(d) Americans to use more energy-efficient light bulbs.” Please note that “force” here is a politically correct euphemism for “threaten with initiatory violence”. Now it is true, force can solve problems quickly. All the mugger needs to do is to wave his gun in my face and moments later his monetary problems are solved. One would like to believe that in the “land of the free” such state sponsored aggression would not be so readily lauded as the primary method deployed against perceived societal problems. Of course I do not expect the state to abjure this special power it has any time soon, it is the qua sine non of every state/government. When a such a body dictates to the citizenry what they may or may not manufacturer and buy, then that country is no longer entitled to call itself “the land of the free” or claim “liberty and justice for all.”

One of the more vocal critics of this rollback, an Andrew deLaski of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project went on record with some rather eyebrow-raising comments. For example

“The Trump administration is trying to protect technology that was first invented in the 1800s. It’s like trying to protect the horse and buggy from the automobile technology.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but as I recall the government did not OUTLAW the sale or manufacture of the horse and buggy in favor of promoting the automobile. Consumers transitioned to the newer technology over time at a rate mediated by both the cost and advantages of the new technology.

To imply that removing regulations that are annihilating an industry is equivalent to “protecting” said industry makes about as much sense as saying someone who was in the process of knifing you to death but then pauses and begins to only punch you in the face is actually now “protecting” you. The truth is the polar opposite. The manufacturers of fluorescent and LED bulbs are the ones receiving state protection insofar as competing technology have being outlawed. But we’re “protecting” the planet so greater good trumps all. Makes one wonder what the left is capable of when they eventually hold power and the climate apostates are in their cross hairs. In the words of Cole Porter I suspect it will be “anything goes!”

iMonopoly?

This past May the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Apple on the question of whether a group of iPhone users could file an antitrust lawsuit against Apple arising from their contention that Apple’s App Store constitutes a monopoly and thus has harmed consumers. Their primary argument is that Apple’s 30% fee on every app store sale constitutes a “tax.” Consumers are “harmed” because most developers simply pass that additional cost onto the consumer. So apparently if some entity is construed to hold a monopoly market position and imposes a “tax”, that is a bad thing. But if the government does precisely the same thing that is just a-ok. On the precedent of this ruling it should now be possible to overturn the taxing authority of every level of government! But I won’t hold my breath.

In point of fact, Apple does not hold a monopoly position in the market. To suggest so quickly leads to absurd wrongheaded conclusions such as Ford is a monopoly because only they can sell Ford cars or that Robert Di Niro is a monopolist because he is the only one that can star as Robert Di Niro in a movie. The obvious rejoinder to such claims would be that “well that’s silly, there are other manufacturers of cars and other actors, so the consumer can simply substitute the good if they find the supply too constrained or the price too high.” Exactly. Last time I checked Apple does not have the only “App Store” in town. Google has their equivalent and there are number of other independent “Android” app stores as well. But even if Apple did have the only App store platform they would still not be in a monopoly position. Anything that can be done in mobile apps can be done through a desktop or web interface.But even if that were not true, Apple would still not be a monopolist. Why? Because no company in a free market can become a monopoly (other than governments themselves which exert their monopoly provision of certain market goods (security, courts, roads, regulation) through coercive violence). Just as Ford competes with other automakers to sell cars, they are also competing with every other market entrant. Everyone is vying for the consumer’s dollar and so everyone is competing against everyone.Apple competes against pet stores, Ford competes against Apple, pet stores compete against shoe sellers, and so on. 

Every consumer, no matter how wealthy, has a limited supply of funds. When they use those funds they economize them, that is, they rank those things they desire in order of importance and spend their money on the most important items first (food, shelter) and then work their way down the list until at some point they only have enough for one more thing. The next entrant on that list lost out to the one just before, so in that sense they were competing with them head to head. So the App Store could lose out to someone who chose to go to the movies or to buy their dog a treat, or it could be vice versa. If the consumer has a choice (even if a difficult one) then there is no monopoly power. If you hate big oil you can choose to go electric.If you hate all cell phone carriers you can choose to not have a cell phone. It may be a difficult choice that imposes other costs on you, but you are free to do so. No one will throw you in a cage if you don’t sign up for cell service. But they will if you don’t pay your taxes.

In the broader context though this case was rather amusing. That a company can be sued for providing to the consumer this thing that literally didn’t even exist 15 years ago demonstrates an utter lack of comprehension by the public at large of the benefits bestowed on them by the market economy aka capitalism. You should rejoice that there are so many greedy SOB’s seeking to take your money and giving you in return the most incredible, standard of living enhancing tools in human history… things you could not create yourself if you had a hundred years to figure it out. Very sad. Many people agree. 

Blowing the Sails

President Trump continues on his shortsighted warpath of ever escalating tariffs on Chinese goods. “Tariffs will make our Country MUCH STRONGER, not weaker. Just sit back and watch!” he tweeted recently. Well, yes, I suppose if you jump off a bridge and break both your legs those bones will be stronger once healed, but I don’t think that’s what he had in mind. Tariffs are a self-imposed burden; the exporter of a good does not pay them – the importer does (i.e. the domestic business, employing domestic workers, selling to a domestic market). It is the economic equivalent of me insisting I pay an extra 25% to the grocery store because I’m so upset there is a trade imbalance between the grocer and myself. Trump is either being willfully dishonest (and to be fair, what politician isn’t – ‘if you like your plan you can keep your plan’), or, he is entirely ignorant of how tariffs actually work. If Importer ABC is buying widget A from a Chinese exporter for $1 and there is a new 25% tariff imposed, the cost goes from $1 to $1.25 – paid for entirely by the importer. The cost is either passed on to the American consumer or expenses in other areas are reduced (i.e. layoffs of American workers) in order to stay price competitive. 

            Perplexingly, Trump actually acknowledged the potential harm to some sectors (i.e. US farmers, whose sales of exported goods to China have dropped off due to in-kind retaliatory tariffs by China on the US) and rather than extinguishing the dumpster-fire he has created he has doubled down on an even more ludicrous plan. He is proposing that we take the proceeds from the tariffs and use it to offset declining agricultural sales by purchasing the unsold goods – and get this – donating it to foreign countries! So, it is bad for the US if China “dumps” low cost goods into our market, yet somehow it’s a-ok if the US in turn dumps totally free goods into other countries’ markets? Nah, that won’t totally disrupt their domestic agricultural market driving them to cross a border in order to find work… there is some country where that has happened before but the name escapes me right now. This Rube Goldberg scheme is tantamount to using a fan to blow the sail of a sailboat. Yes, it works, but it is incredibly inefficient; just remove the sail and turn the fan around. In other words, an actual free market in trade (not managed trade á la NAFTA or TPP) is maximally efficient and beneficial to all.

            The only utility to be gained from this scheme is to encourage Trump-hating-leftists to closely examine the idiocy of this scheme. Perhaps once Trump is out of office they will recognize the lunacy of this scheme in future government polices. For example, all foreign aid works on this principle. Take money from some Americans and give it to others to buy their goods in order to give them to a third party for free. Or, take money from some Americans and give it to a third party with the stipulation they can only use it to buy goods from some other Americans.Carbon taxes, if imposed, would work the same way. Impose a tax (on Americans) then turn around and refund the just collected funds to other Americans to offset the fact they are paying more for energy. 

            Perhaps in the end that will be the silver lining of the Trump presidency; to awaken the American electorate to the fact that the idiotic schemes implemented by Trump are identical to every past presidential administration in their execution. These programs and schemes are counter-productive and inefficient on their face regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. 

Reparations Roller Coaster

The political landscape in the Democratic Party has become so chaotic that in order for a presidential candidate to distinguish him or herself it is no longer sufficient to engage in safe, conservative levels of vote pandering e.g. free healthcare for all. Now one must step up with über-insane policy positions like slavery reparations. Several candidates have put forth pro-reparations platform positions recently. Any self-respecting black person should reject such talk outright. The whole notion is preposterously insulting. Why? Ok, hold up your hand (any race) if you think your “success” today is even marginally affected by the life events of one or more of your sixteen to thirty-two second-great or third-great grandparents? Can you even name a single one of them? The argument is basically that all succeeding generations over 150+ years have been entirely impotent to advance in life because they lacked a check from the federal government – all other forms of welfare and assistance not withstanding (12 years of free schooling be the main one). Perhaps you could make that argument (as with apartheid in South Africa) if every single black person were dirt poor today. But that’s not the case. In fact there are numerous highly successful black individuals today (doctors, lawyers, business owners, actors, politicians, athletes, etc.). This alone should conclusively prove that race no longer plays a meaningful role in holding anyone back. While the poverty rate for blacks as a whole vs. whites is higher, it is not earth-shatteringly so (20% vs 8%). To hear the pro-reparations people talk you’d think black poverty was 90%+ in this country.

The time for reparations was immediately after emancipation, to the actual slaves. That is how reparations have operated for more recent state-level atrocities (Germany, South Africa, etc). Locate the victim and compensate them. That is correct and just (although monetary compensation can never truly make one whole for these kinds of state sponsored crimes). Reparations should have been made in the US shortly after the Civil War (and indeed this was done for a short period, General Sherman’s Special Order 15 was quickly reversed by President Johnson). That this did not occur is a crime against those former slaves. However, there is nothing that can be done to fix that now. History is like that. Bad people did horrible things, but navel gazing hundreds of years later isn’t going to put the toothpaste back in the tube. If my grandmother were raped but the culprit never served time nothing is served by putting that guy’s grandson in prison today. However that is exactly what reparations would do, only worse (it would be like grabbing some random person off the street and putting him in prison merely because he’s a man). Were reparations to come to pass it would be funded by some new tax. But many millions of Americans (like myself) are recent generation Americans. All of my great-grandparents entered this country over 50 years after the end of the civil war – why should I be taxed to pay for something that neither I nor them could ever have conceivably benefited from? Indeed, these great grandparents were initially treated harshly (yes, the Klan hates Catholics too) by the “nativist” populations they emigrated to. Should I get reparations too for how they were held back by such incipient hatred on arrival? (In case you were wondering the  answer is “no” to this rhetorical question).

Some would argue that even post Civil War emigrants enjoyed the privilege of all the wealth brought about in this country through the labor of former slaves who built this country. Ok. Except that is totally backwards. This country was made poorer, not wealthier, because of slavery. The reason for this is simple: automation. Cheap slave labor meant there was no incentive to explore more efficient means of production. Without slavery the south would have been pushed economically to explore efficiency improving automation that much sooner. As we recall from high school history, the north was regarded as wealthy while the south was considered poor. The primary reason for this was the difference in automation. The highly industrialized north was highly automated in its output. Just as paper beats rock so to do machines beat humans every time in the output Olympics.

Even if we were to pay reparations there is no practical “fair” way to do so. The whole thing quickly spirals out of control into a general welfare check. Such a check would be far out of proportion to what those individuals might have had had actual reparations been paid in 1865 to the forefathers. If it were in proportion it would amount to only a few hundred dollars and politically such a small amount would be a non-starter. So it will have to be disproportionately larger. So how does this idea go from only for descendants of slaves to everyone? Well, first if it were constrained to only those that could prove a genealogical connection to a slave, accusations would fly of unfairness for all those unable to claim their rightful inheritance because of paperwork lost to the ages. Ok, so now anyone who is black (DNA test) gets it, but how much “blackness”? 90%? 50% 25%? No matter where you draw an arbitrary line someone will complain so just make it 1% or more then no one will complain. And of course the DNA tests will have to be free, otherwise this too would be deemed as unfairly keeping those most in need from obtaining their due. Next is the problem of payment ratio. Should it be a ratio of your DNA %, e.g. you are 10% black so you get 10% of the reparations payment? Or what if you can only prove one out of 32 ancestors was a slave; do you get 1/32ndof the payment? The mind boggles with the logistics of handling this all. Even if you assume a generous $100k reparations payment to each former slave this would be rapidly diluted to only a few hundred dollars today after applying the various race and generational dilution heuristics. Is a few hundred dollars really going to change anyone’s life?

And lastly, this must be a one-time payment. Anything other than that is not reparations but simply welfare. If you have made each “victim” whole, then there is no more reason to continue payment to them or their progeny. So under the only possible “fair” model of reparations Barack Obama would qualify. That’s a good thing, just think of what he could have accomplished had he not been black!

CON Job

There are a myriad of reasons that health care costs are sky high. Every cause shares a common genesis – government. From the World War II era tax benefit of allowing tax-free employer sponsored plans to state imposed price controls (Medicare/Medicaid) to today’s outright subsidies (Obamacare), it has been a 70+ year slow motion train wreck that has annihilated anything remotely resembling a “free” market in health care.

However, today I want to focus on but one sliver of that regulatory quagmire: Certificate of Need (CON) laws. When I first learned about these I honestly thought I was reading satire – this is America after all! How can such monstrosities of law exist? And yet they do. For those unaware, CON laws basically allow one or more local hospitals to have a say in whether a prospective hospital may be permitted in their “backyard.”

It’s like if McDonalds had a vote in whether any new fast food restaurants could be built within say 30 miles of their location. What do you think McDonalds’ choice would be? This is nothing but state backed protectionism, pure and simple. And like all protectionism it harms consumers while benefiting the protected class (unions, taxi drivers, any tariff protected industry, etc.) But please, tell me more about this free market in health care we have.

Supporters of CON laws try to appeal to ones sense of “fairness” by claiming that if these mean old private hospitals come in why they’ll “steal” patients from our poor old public hospital by only offering the most lucrative and profitable services leaving the extant hospital with money losing care and indigent patients. Hogwash. In other words they are saying that in terms of those “lucrative” services they can’t compete because they are in fact overcharging for their “lucrative” services in order to subsidize the money losing services.  In other words they don’t know how to properly run a (hospital) business and are afraid of someone coming in and competing with them that does. 

Ludicrously, these same people will turn around and decry the “monopoly” of a company like AT&T or Microsoft or Google or Apple and claim “why we need to break them up, don’t you know monopolies are bad and that competition lowers prices and helps consumers?” But then will unironically tell you that monopolies in hospital services makes perfect sense and why don’t you just trust the guy telling you he doesn’t need competition to give you a fair price? I guess state backed monopolies are “a ok” (schools, courts, police, utilities, roads, etc.)

Ironically many of these people who support CON laws are “conservative” Republicans! Indeed there was a recent Bill 198 in the Georgia House that died in that Republican dominated chamber. One representative quipped in a local paper

“I was very happy to help kill the elimination of the CON process that would hurt local hospitals.”

David Belton
R – Buckhead, GA, District 112

Wow, give that man a Bernie Sanders medal, he is a Democratic Socialist and doesn’t even know it. Socialism claims the right of the “people” (aka the State) to own the means of production. Ownership implies a right to control. If you don’t own it, then you have no authority to exert control. But if the state tells prospective investors in a new hospital what they may or may not do with their own money, then what is the state doing other than asserting an ownership (control) claim over those investors’ money? We have a word for people that control the property of another that they don’t own: thief. I’m sorry Republicans; I must have missed the part in the Constitution (Federal or State) where it says we have a right to a livelihood unfettered by nettlesome competition. Repeat after me, just because a violation of rights can be harmful doesn’t mean anything deemed harmful is a rights violation.