Stepping Up to the Plate?

Slow internet. No words invoke greater apoplexy in modern man than these. Oconee County, being largely rural, has suffered through its share of less than ideal Internet connectivity over the last decade. So it is little wonder that county officials recently engaged representatives of Corning Optical Communications to discuss the possibility of wiring the entire county for fiber optic Internet access. As a resident myself, nothing would please me more. However, as an ethically consistent human being, I cannot opt to ignore a little thing like theft even when that theft might benefit me personally.

Inroads to high speed Internet have been slow not because of capriciousness but rather due to simple economics. Investments are made only if the prospect of a meaningful return is sufficient to compensate for the risk involved. What would you say if someone asked you to invest your retirement savings into a project that might yield a payback of less than 1% after 75 years? If you’re unwilling to make such a poor investment, then who can blame the telecoms for reaching the same conclusion. Capital intensive projects like running underground cables for miles and miles only to serve a handful of customers just don’t make economic sense unless those customers are willing to pay hundreds of dollars a month. And since nobody is willing to pay that, it doesn’t happen. Local governments don’t help either as various right-of-way statutes heap unnecessary costs on the process (see OCGA §46-5-1(a) and 48-5-423).

In the meeting, according to the Oconee Enterprise, Administrative Officer Jeff Benko observed that, “…in areas where the private sector has not stepped up to the plate, there’s an opportunity for the government to intervene.” In other words, where my parents have not stepped up to the plate by buying me a Ferrari, there’s an opportunity for my bank-robbing uncle to buy one on my behalf. “Stepping up to the plate” is the economic equivalent of providing something at a false cost because no one is wiling to pay its true cost.

This project was estimated to run about $1400/home served. If everyone voluntarily wrote a $1400 check that would be grand. It would be true democracy, marketplace democracy, in action. Consumers vote their preference every time they open their wallet. But we live with a political democracy as well, so as long as 51 out of 100 people want something, then it’s perfectly acceptable to reach into their neighbor’s wallet and take what is needed. Some might suggest paying for it with bonds is ethically sound as someone is voluntarily lending money to the county. But that logic is specious insofar as the bond must eventually be repaid and the only way to do so is with taxes and as we all know, taxes are theft. Indeed bonds are even more cowardly as they shift the repayment burden onto future taxpayers who have no voice in what is decided today.

Repeat after me: just because it is something I want, that does not make it is ok to use political means to force others to provide it for me.

True Lies

Hillary Clinton’s strategy in attempting to deflect attention away from the ongoing saga surrounding her e-mails while Secretary of State shows a deep reliance on Bill’s anti-scandal playbook. From the man who was fuzzy on the meaning of the word “is” we see a similar semantic game with Hillary. She claims that FBI director James Comey said her statements were truthful. Except that isn’t what he said. He said they have “no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.” Being truthful and not lying are two very different things. This aphorism holds true both for con artists and the mentally impaired. Clinton is trying to parse a single answer to two different questions: her actions and what she has said about her actions. The FBI found that Clinton did indeed send classified e-mails through her private server (directly contravening Clinton’s prior public statements). This exchange between Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Director Comey sets the record straight:

GOWDY: Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her emails either sent or received. Was that true?

COMEY: That’s not true.

GOWDY: Secretary Clinton said, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” Was that true?

COMEY: There was classified material emailed.

The secondary question then becomes “was it intentional” (although legally that makes no difference)? Did she know they were classified? That is a harder question to answer, as it requires either a “smoking gun” admission or mind reading. But this is how the Clintons operate. Doing things we all “know” they did, but because their guilt often depends on intent become unprovable. They truly are the O.J. Simpson of politics.

Clinton maintains she was truthful when asked about these emails. In order for her to be both truthful and for classified materials to have been sent necessitates that Clinton be either incompetent or lacking in mental facilities. If she is not an imbecile, then she is a bold faced liar. Logically there is no other choice. Neither of these (perjury or stupidity) are desirable traits in a potential President.

Do I think Clinton is a moron? No. Did she intend to circumvent the security of the government’s email system for her own personal political benefit (in hindsight apparently a mistake!) by setting up her own e-mail server so she could send, receive, and destroy e-mails without oversight? To ask the question is to answer it. But the fact that she has painted herself into a corner with lies and transparent attempts to protect her political career only underscore why she is indeed the most well qualified to be President; the most successful politicians are typically the most sociopathic ones.

By her own admission Hillary Clinton is either a liar or a moron. Donald Trump is a hypocritical opportunist. This is the first year where the “fringe” third party candidate, Libertarian Governor Gary Johnson is downright boringly conventional in comparison to these two loons. We’ve had enough Clinton and Trump drama already, time to try some boring old freedom.

August 10 / 2016
Author Greg Morin
Comments 5 Comments

Hooked on FERPA

There is no guarantee in government more assured than a bill doing the exact opposite of what its name implies. The “Affordable” Care Act – need I say more? An early vintage of this phenomenon is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, otherwise known as FERPA amongst college students and their parents. This law, enacted over 40 years ago, purports to protect the privacy of a student’s education records. But, rather than protecting privacy it simply affirms what was already true: that parents, or whoever is paying the bill, could see the results of the product they are paying for, namely any and all records related to their student. Any educational institution denying such access wouldn’t last long as no one would go there. It’s like passing an act guaranteeing the right to eat a meal you paid for. Legislative accomplishment is often measured in answering questions no one was asking.

But rather than protecting privacy, FERPA seeks to undermine it by (a) taking away the rights of the person paying for the education by virtue of the student’s age and (b) carving out a host of exceptions to that privacy for a number of state actors and various “officials” that the student or the parent may very well wish to restrict access to. But they no longer have that right. They had to give it up in order to retain that which they already had.

As both my wife and I attended a “private” college we had no prior experience with FERPA. During the orientation day for the public university where our eldest son is attending we and (based on the laughter in the room) many other parents first learned of the head popping idiocy of this “law.” The school took great pains to underscore the reality that unless our child gave us specific written consent to access their “educational records” we would not even be permitted to pay their housing and tuition bill because disclosure of the amounts owed was an illegal sharing of a student’s educational records. Brilliant. So time to crank up the paperwork machine as 99% of parents “encourage” their student to fill out the permission paperwork just so they can pay their bill. I guess it never occurred to our wise overlords that perhaps it might be more efficient to make the default option the one that the vast majority requires.

I say we had no prior experience with this act because private colleges typically do not receive funding from the Department of Education. However most public universities do. So in that sense FERPA is “voluntary” – all the school has to do is opt out of such funding. But that’s about as likely as a shopaholic cutting up their credit cards. These schools are hooked on this federal money and will do anything the Feds “ask.” If the prospect is losing millions in DOE funding or making students and parents jump through absurd hoops or be grossly inconvenienced, they’ll choose the latter every time. If you make a deal with the Devil, then you play by his rules.

August 03 / 2016

No Substitutions Please

Gun control does not and cannot “work” if the goal is to decrease human death. If the goal is to decrease gun ownership, then yes, it works just fine. Gun control affords an illusion of safety by virtue of willfully ignoring the substitution effect; that is, guns are simply a means to an end, if that means is denied, then another means may be substituted to achieve the same (or worse) effect.

Those that believe more stringent background checks will keep guns out of the hands of the “bad” guys, all I can say is consider the case of the Orlando nightclub shooter. He was investigated by the FBI. Twice. And he was still considered to be a non-threat. In other words, even if FBI agents personally engaged in full background investigations of every prospective gun owner, that nut still would have been able to buy a weapon. How are background checks supposed to improve the situation if even the gold standard of such checks failed in this case? Actual “bad” guys aren’t going to get guns the legal route anyway, so they can entirely avoid such checks. “Good” guys follow the rules, but since they are already “good,” background checks are a waste of time and resources. The “good in the past but planning something bad in the future” guys will slip through undetected as well since it’s impossible to know what someone might do. So in all cases it is entirely pointless.

In European countries they have managed to achieve the holy grail of limited gun ownership. This effectiveness affords us the opportunity to witness the substitution effect in action. Bomb attacks are unheard of in the US but are far more frequent in Europe. People that want to kill aren’t going to think “aw shucks, no guns, guess I’ll just go home and write angry Facebook comments”. No, people do what people have always done. They find another means to achieve their madness. In the case of the Nice, France attack far more people were killed with that truck (77 at last count) than would have been with an AR-15. It takes a long time to shoot 77 people with a gun – even automatically you have to pull the trigger 77 times (or more if you have bad aim). But a truck can kill scores in seconds. If guns are not available, then it pushes people to find other, more deadly, means. Next time it may be a bomb, or a biological agent. Those wishing the elimination of all guns should be careful what they wish for.

The recent attack in Munich, Germany oddly still has the gun control advocates crowing. They cite Germany’s low homicide rate by gun due to their restrictive gun ownership laws. Germany has a homicide rate of 0.9 (per 100,000) (notice I cited homicide rate, not gun death rate, as that is the proper apples to apples comparison metric). New Hampshire has a homicide rate of 1.0. New Hampshire’s gun ownership rate is 146 per hundred residents. Germany’s rate is 30. Interesting. Five times fewer guns yet the same rate of murder. Did I cherry pick New Hampshire? Of course. But that is the point – political boundaries are arbitrary distinctions. There are probably regions of Germany with a much lower and much higher murder rate. Citing countrywide statistics might be interesting fodder for navel gazing, but it does nothing to root out causes. Correlation is not causation, but for guns and deaths there isn’t even correlation. If you’re going to cite low homicide rates as being correlated with low gun ownership rates then don’t ignore the fact that it also correlate with high gun ownership rates. Likewise high homicide rates can be correlated with both low and high gun ownership rates. These are not one variable relationship and simplistic analyses do nothing to advance the conversation.

July 26 / 2016
Author Greg Morin
Category Current events, Guns
Comments 1 Comment

Undivided Attention

Let me open by citing the obvious – the random, revengeful killings of police officers are despicable acts of cowardice and bigotry. Bigotry? Yes – bigotry. Presuming that a member of a collective is equally culpable for the acts of any other is a bigoted worldview. Individuals are responsible for their own actions – not the actions of others who happen to be a member of their collective. All white people are not responsible for slavery, all Muslims are not responsible for 9-11, and all police are not responsible for every unnecessary shooting death.

In 2015 one-hundred twenty-four police lost their lives.  Nearly half of those were related to some kind of traffic incident. Meanwhile police killed 1,208 people in 2015. Some were unavoidable. But the majority of these deaths were unnecessary. Many involved innocent people in the wrong place at the wrong time. Others involved minor incidents that quickly escalated because of poor choices. The dictum that “officer safety” is paramount should concern any of us who might absentmindedly reach for our wallet when pulled over without loudly announcing our intentions. The question before us is how do we reduce civilian deaths while not putting officers in a position where they fear for their lives with every interaction. The answer is to stop asking them to do three things at once.

Traffic enforcement duties should be spun off as a completely new line of work wholly unrelated to traditional “policing.” Imagine for a second that roads were privately owned by Road Corp. Road Corp. wants a safe environment for its customers (as does any business). Road Corp. would hire traffic enforcers to maintain safety. No one would expect these enforcers to also search them for drugs or check their immigration status or telegraph their identity to government authorities. Mall cops don’t do that, so why should traffic cops? So returning from out thought experiment it should be obvious that traffic cops could be unarmed since even actual criminals would have nothing to fear from being pulled over. This alone would eliminate every instance of “thought he was reaching for a gun” death. If someone ignored the blue lights then simply photograph the car’s tag and send the owner a ticket in the mail; there is actually little reason to have a human in a car do the job of a camera on the side of the road.

The second task we ask of the police, and the one resulting in most unnecessary deaths on both sides, is enforcement of the drug war. The drug war casts everyone as a potential criminal since mere possession of an object is a crime. The police are then pushed into the role of assuming everyone is a “bad guy” until proven innocent. They are given unlimited means in this war to cast a wide net. This is a recipe for disaster. Wide nets tend to catch a lot of the wrong thing. Some are set free, but many die while caught in the net. Ending the drug war, for all drugs, would do far more toward reducing police and civilian deaths than any other reforms on the table.

The third job is the one police should actually be doing, namely, serving and protecting (or so the logo goes): recovering stolen property, tracking down the bad guy, bringing murderers to justice, and so on. Police would be more effective at this job if they were not required to dilute their resources with traffic and drug war duties. We don’t ask firemen to randomly search homes for fire hazards, stop and frisk people for lighters, sparklers, or copies of “Fahrenheit 451” and then to also put out fires, so we shouldn’t ask police to do a myriad of other tasks unrelated to actual policing against actual crimes.

July 19 / 2016
Author Greg Morin
Comments No Comments

Civil Wrongs

A few weeks ago house Democrats staged a “sit in” (with catered food no less – such sacrifice) in a transparent ploy to bolster their goals with civil rights movement era imagery. But like so many failed movie sequels, this one too falls flat on its face due to a poorly written narrative. These Democrat lawmakers would have had us believe that they were the underdogs, fighting the good fight against those evil Republicans who are part of the entrenched status quo. Nothing could be further from the truth. Civil rights protesters lacked political power; that’s why they were protesting, they had no other options. These members of Congress, however, are they very epitome of political power! They are the ones who are responsible for making the very changes they seek. They were in fact protesting their own incompetence, but with enough misdirected blame to make it look like someone else’s fault. Let us not forget it was the Democrats who controlled both the House and the Senate for the first 2 years of Obama’s presidency and yet they did nothing on gun control. It would seem procrastination is the better part of valor.

The civil rights movement stood primarily for the ideal that the government, whether local, state, or federal, should be in the business of guaranteeing equal rights for all citizens. Government should not be in the business of qualifying rights based on arbitrary criteria. So it is with rich irony that these “legislators” – including an actual participant in the original sit-ins (John Lewis (D-Ga.)) – were fighting to undo those very rights so dearly fought for in the 1960’s. Rights limitations based on race is really just rights limitations based on thought. Person A thinks X about Person B and so X becomes the reason to restrict rights. Thought X can be driven by anything: racism, sexism, fear, anxiety, or suspicion. But now they have the gall to suggest civil rights violations are only bad if “X” is driven by racism, but perfectly fine if driven by fear or suspicion.

Of what do I speak? That odiously Orwellian abomination known as the “No Fly” list. There is no greater threat to civil rights today. And yet they propose to make it more powerful by turning it into a “No Fly, No Buy” list, meaning those on the list can’t buy firearms. At face value this might make sense. Surely people on the list are just the sorts we don’t want flying or buying guns. Unfortunately the reality is that inclusion on this list has little to do with actual evidence of wrongdoing. Mere hunches based on nothing more than prejudices, similar sounding names, or Kevin-Bacon-game levels of guilt by association, are sufficient for inclusion. There is no process to be removed because naturally doing so would jeopardize “national security. The deprivation of rights without due process is an unambiguous violation of the 5th amendment. But those who peddle fear have no shame if they believe destruction of rights will keep them in office.

The gravest danger in adding gun rights to “The List” is the precedent it sets. How much easier will it now be to justify proscribing the right to drive, hold a job, have a bank account, or rent a home? In short, inclusion on the list could soon mean exclusion from society. If this happened to even one person in error, that would be one too many. How can I justify that sentiment? Easy, imagine you are the error.

July 12 / 2016
Author Greg Morin
Comments No Comments

On Brexit

The recent vote to “Brexit” the European Union in Great Britain has provided an opportunity to cast light on the hypocrisy of one side and the irony of the other. The “leave” (pro-Brexit) camp taps into the natural human disdain of involuntary control. From willful toddlers to headstrong teenagers to entrepreneurs – no one likes being told what to do. This instinct is normal and natural. The problem occurs when one conflates ones own sovereignty with the sovereignty of the “my”, e.g. my town, my city, my state, my country. People erroneously view this “regional sovereignty” through the lens of a primitive territorial instinct that says everything I can see is “mine”. This territoriality or regionalism is hypocritical at its best and downright evil at its worst. Regionalism purports to trump the sovereignty of the individual by placing the interests of the collective above those of the individual. In short, the many tell the few what they may or may not do. Now, were these constraints restricted to bans on murder, theft, and rape there would be no complaints. But it does not stop there. The regional collective (city, county, district, state, nation, or treaty union) dictates rules over every minutiae of life.

Every nation-state that seeks independence is guilty of the deepest hypocrisy, as they invariably see no problem leveling the same type of control on their own smaller political sub-units. So yes, seek independence, but be prepared to give it as well (cough, Northern Ireland, cough, cough).

The stay (pro-EU) camp is actually host to two types of irony. The first is the credulous acceptance that a large bureaucratic body is needed to achieve an end (free trade) that could also be achieved were each member state to simply do nothing to interfere with the free movement of goods. Which is easier: employ a thousand men to drain the lake you are sitting in so that you might be dry, or, simply get out of the lake?

The second irony pertains to their secondary goal – human unity. The Centralizers (anywhere) believe they are an enlightened sort whose high-minded goals of inclusiveness, equality, and community stand in opposition to backwards notions of nationalism or individualism. This conceit leaves them blind to the fact that centralization is itself inimical to their desired goals.

Forcing people together into larger autarkic unions strengthens those unions in a way that leaves them more capable of waging war (indeed, Turkey shot down a Russian jet last year knowing full well the EU would back it up in a potential Turkish-Russian conflict). Numerous, small groups are too weak to do this. Their interdependence through trade guarantees peace; the hand and the arm need each other, it would be folly for one to destroy the other. Counter intuitively; the freest individual is likewise the most dependent individual. No man is an island, as they say. We rely on our fellow man, through trade, to provide all that we need. Large trade unions like the EU or NAFTA are superfluous. Trade is the lifeblood of human civilization and existed long before such pan-national agreements. Indeed these agreements, rather than “freeing” trade instead manage it – to the benefit of the political and economic elites within each territory. They transform former explicit trade barriers into new regulations. These regulations stifle trade and growth by extinguishing the entrepreneurial flame before it has a chance to flourish. The EU has 109 regulations governing pillows; Europe is in economic decline. Coincidence?

Centralization foments a unique kind of conflict. Not allowing or creating barriers to leaving the union can do nothing but foster resentment. In the past (and present) it has lead to wars. Fortunately today in the case of Brexit it has only risen to the level of schoolyard insults. Heaping ultimatums or derision on the party attempting to leave (as many in the EU are now doing to Britain) smacks of the sour grapes hurled by a jilted partner when a romantic relationship ends: “hey baby, you’re nothing without me!”

Decentralization of authority achieves the goals of peace, prosperity, and equality because it depends on trade. Two people that but for ideological or religious reasons would never have cause to interact are more than willing to ignore those differences and engage in the “just business” of trade. Once a trade relationship is established, a human relationship will soon follow. Trade humanizes the foreigner, stripping away their “other group” title leaving behind only the person. Trade then has the power to expand both our wealth in things and in each other.

The path to uniting humanity is more, not fewer, groups. We should be promoting the break up of states, not their mergers. If all countries could dispense with this Trumpian siege mentality that implies a country can’t be “great” unless it is also autarkic, the world could achieve the peaceful utopia that the one-world centralizers dream of. Spontaneous order works in Nature. We are a part of Nature. It will work for us as well if we can make the right choice to the only question that matters: shall our relationships be governed by force or choice?

July 06 / 2016

Reasons Don’t Matter

Found this quote years ago, anyway, interesting way of explaining by Steve Jobs of the difference between jobs with unlimited potential and those with limited potential. Strive to never make excuses and anticipate all problems and you will go far in this world.


Jobs imagines his garbage regularly not being emptied in his office, and when he asks the janitor why, he gets an excuse: The locks have been changed, and the janitor doesn’t have a key. This is an acceptable excuse coming from someone who empties trash bins for a living. The janitor gets to explain why something went wrong. Senior people do not. “When you’re the janitor,” Jobs has repeatedly told incoming VPs, “reasons matter.” He continues: “Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering.” That “Rubicon,” he has said, “is crossed when you become a VP.

July 02 / 2016
Author Greg Morin
Category Uncategorized
Comments No Comments

Dear Mr. President

The White House recently posted an “Email from President Obama: An Update on Overtime” on the website. For some reason I was not on the distribution list for that e-mail. Had I been, here’s what I would have said:

“I wanted you to be the first to know about some important news on an issue I know you care deeply about: making sure you’re paid fairly.”

By “make sure” do you mean men with guns will insert themselves into the employer-employee relationship and substitute your notion of “fairness” for ours?

“Tomorrow, we’re strengthening our overtime pay rules to make sure millions of Americans’ hard work is rewarded. If you work more than 40 hours a week, you should get paid for it”

So people that are paid a salary aren’t paid for their work? That’s news to me. Last time I checked a salary covers ALL hours worked in a week, whether that is 25, 35, 40 or 60.

You do realize that there are two sides to this equation – sometimes a salaried worker may work 50 hours in a week and sometimes they may work 30. Regardless, they are paid the same amount each week. Oddly all the focus has been on the hours above forty worked but not on those that have the flexibility to work fewer hours when needed. Over time these fluctuations averages out to a level that satisfies both the employer and employee. There are benefits to both parties to being salaried. Salaried employees have an incentive to work as efficiently and productively as possible. If productivity exceeds both parties’ initial expectations, that can then become the basis to negotiate a raise. But, if one is not allowed to work more than 40 hours in a week (something many employers will now do to mitigate the cost increases) it becomes that much more difficult to justify a higher wage.

People who earn a salary take some measure of pride in that fact; punching a clock is seen as something teenagers do, not professional adults. Earning a salary means your employer is putting their trust in your ability to accomplish the necessary tasks without constant micromanaging. But overtime laws gag the employer and make it illegal for them to treat some employees as adults – they have no choice but to infantilize them with a “non-exempt” (hourly) classification. We (Seachem) have employees that are presently salaried but who stand to lose that status with this coming change. They view it as a demotion. I hope that they, and millions like them, do understand that it is you (and your progressive ilk) that is doing the demoting, come Election Day.

It is peculiar that some businesses can legally sell their wares at a flat rate (cell phone service, gym memberships, satellite TV, all you can eat buffets, etc.) but those who sell their labor are not afforded that same measure of autonomy. It’s almost like the government thinks individuals don’t have the capacity to make the “right” choice and so require a paternalistic helping hand.

“or get extra time off to spend with your family and loved ones.”

No, no you can’t. Read your own statutes Mr. President. What you just described is called “comp time” and that is illegal under the FLSA. At least for private employers and their non-exempt employees it is. “Public” employers are free to engage in this practice. I guess private employers are not as enlightened as their public brethren and so can’t be trusted to fairly give time off in lieu of extra hours worked even if that is what the employee wants.

“It’s one of most important steps we’re taking to help grow middle-class wages and put $12 billion more dollars in the pockets of hardworking Americans over the next 10 years.”

Right, instead of raising taxes on the employer directly, we’ll just raise them indirectly by finding another way to compel businesses to redistribute even more of their profits (wages are on average four-times the size of net profit) to those that bore no risk in earning them. Remember; when a business loses money employees still get paid. But when a business makes money employees expect even more money. Heads I win, tails you lose.

But that $12 billion figure is a pipe dream. These overtime rules changes will not raise worker income anywhere near to what you believe. To the extent it does raise it for some, it will be at the expense of others that are either laid off or that can’t be hired because too much of payroll is going toward paying excessive overtime. What this rule change will do, however, is ensure that America becomes less and less productive as businesses opt to send employees home at 40 hours. Payrolls will remain the same but output will decline. Although this is effectively a raise (the same money for less work) it actually harms both parties. The employee, being constrained to only 40 hours, is now in a weaker position to demonstrate their value. Likewise the employer realizes less output for the same amount of money. On net for the country less work will be done, growth will slow down and we’ll all wonder why the private sector appears to operate more and more like the Post Office or DMV.

Capital investments, which propel improvements to productivity, are the natural method to improve workers’ standard of living. Productivity gains translate into more goods for the same amount of work and income. Effectively everything becomes cheaper and thus more affordable. But these gains have all but been eroded by 40+ years of inflation wrought by the duopolic partnership of the Federal Reserve and Federal Government.

“But after years of inflation and lobbyists’ efforts to weaken overtime protections, that security has eroded for too many families”

Inflation is a 100% government phenomenon. The US Treasury issues bonds to prop up annual budget deficits. The Federal Reserve buys those bonds (directly or indirectly through open market operations) by using money literally created from nothing. More dollars equals more inflation, and the cycle continues year after year. If the government is serious about ending wage and benefit erosion it has the power to end it by ceasing all inflationary policies. It really is that simple.

“One of the many Americans who has been working hard but struggling to keep up is a single mom from Tucson, Arizona, Elizabeth Paredes. As an assistant manager at a sandwich shop, Elizabeth sometimes worked as many as 70 hours a week, without a dime of overtime pay.”

Seen benefit, unseen harm. You really should read more Bastiat. For every worker that benefits thousands more will be harmed by lost jobs, fewer hours, or simply not being hired in the first place. Forcing her employer to pay her more makes about as much sense as raising the minimum wage to $50/hour because you found a single mother with ten children who can’t get by working for $8/hour.

If someone wants to earn more money, then they should enhance their skills and find a new job. Dissatisfaction with low-skill wages is like buying a home by the airport and then being upset about the noise. Demanding changes to overtime or minimum wage laws would then be like adding new noise regulations that would make air travel cost more for everyone; concentrated benefits for some, increased costs for everyone else. Don’t ask others to pay the penalty for your choices.

“When workers have more income, they spend it – often at businesses in their local community – and that helps grow the economy for everyone.”

It is unclear why the economy would grow more if an employee spends money vs. the employer. Is the purchase of one set of goods “better” for the economy than another? I presume this line of reasoning comes from the flawed Keynesian notion that it is consumer spending that drives the economy. This viewpoint of course ignores the fact that consumers can’t buy anything until businesses/employers have first spent money on hiring employees, building plants, opening stores and so on. Consumer spending rests on the bedrock of business spending which itself lays on the firm foundation of savings. The lower the profit, the slower the savings, and thus everything else built upon it. Consumption does not grow an economy. Only savings and investment into capital goods will do that by making it easier to produce more goods with less effort. That is what improves the standard of living for everyone.

“Americans have spent too long working long hours and getting less in return. So wherever and whenever I can make sure that our economy rewards hard work and responsibility, that’s what I’m going to do.”

The fact that a thief can improve his standing at the expense of his victim(s) does not justify thievery as a legitimate means to improve one’s condition. Employers and employees have come to mutually beneficial arrangements that both parties agreed to. The employer is free to fire the employee and the employee is free to quit. No one is forcing these arrangements. There is no rational basis to suggest a disinterested third party has the right to interject themselves in these negotiations and supplant their judgment for the judgment of both parties.

When you remove choice from either party you rob them of their agency to live as independent, free individuals. In short, you turn them into de facto children. We are not children Mr. Obama. We are free men and women. Let us live our lives as we see fit, not as you do.

June 16 / 2016

How do libertarians think they can prevent the rich from appointing people which will serve them and not the rest of the country?

Another Quora question I answered.


You mean like how the (insert region) government eliminates all competitors for the services it provides by using its connections with armed thugs who are willing to do whatever they ask as long as they get paid?

It always strikes me as amusing that the assumed worst case scenario of a wholly free-market/libertarian society is exactly the scenario we live under today: one monopolistic centralized group controlling nearly everything.

Yes, people with many resources (wealth, friends, connections, etc) can wield that power for underhanded reasons. But people do that in government today (witness the rampant corruption and cronyism that is perenially uncovered by the media). If that is a reason to indict a free system then it must be equally leveled against the system we have today.

The key point is that in a free system no one is the “ruler” over everyone else, so without a lot of the artificial barriers to entry that the government/state create there will be more, not fewer competitors for various goods and services. If you want to start a business no one is going to stop you, you don’t need permission, you don’t need a license, all you need to do is provide a product the customer wants to stay in business.

Ultimately if someone tries to buy all these new competitors out or off or what have you, there is a limit to how far that will go – at some point you run out of money or reach a point where more buy offs don’t make sense. Witness the US government, as wealthy and powerful as it is, it can’t buy off every country in the world to allow them to dictate policy everywhere. Granted, they try, but there is a limit even for an entity that large. So I don’t suppose in a free system where the “rich” companies would have to compete for customers first by providing products they want vs a state that can simply take (tax) the money they need that any company would rise to a size or level anywhere approaching the power of any state or national government, hence the risk of such concentrated power should be accordingly that many orders of magnitude smaller relative to the same concern one would have about a regional government over stepping its bounds of authority in the same way.

June 09 / 2016
Author Greg Morin
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