More taxes? Reform thyself first please.


The Peninsula School Board, District 401 in Western Washington State, is putting a $50,000,000 levy on the November, 2013 ballot.  If the Levy passes, this will be a nearly nearly 60% increase in the school portion of your property taxes.  The tax effect on a home with a 250,000 assesment will be an increase of $348/year – on top of the current $3,031/year – for four years, assuming the District wouldn’t attempt another levy after this one expires.  The levy is intended to provide, according to District 401’s presentations, new schools and remodeling of existing facilities.  My opposition boils down to three points.

One:  This request is being conducted as a levy, not a bond issue.  Levies are customarily dedicated to ongoing operations expenditures, bonds are normally dedicated towards capital improvements: i.e. buildings, roads, bridges, etc.  Levies by state law are limited to four years in duration.  This levy would have trouble meeting the typical justification for a bond issue since not all, and maybe none of the proceeds, would be used for new construction.  A bond issue requires 60% to pass.  The levy proposal requires only 50% + 1, a slim requirement for allowing an extraction of $50M dollars from our struggling local economy.  And this doesn’t include economically regressive ripple effects caused by the hit on small businesses and consumer spending power.  Quoting famous economist Milton Friedman: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Two:  Wording in the resolution says the School District can use their own discretion to not spend levy proceeds on construction and remodeling improvements if the original intent “is deemed impractical”.  Would the $50,000,000 then go just to ongoing maintenance and/or remodeling?  Given the wording, the school board has recourse to spend these funds without any significant restraint.  Another statement says that the district “could receive funds from the State…” to complete the project.  If state funding isn’t approved, again this could be recourse for the school board to spend levy proceeds in ways other than new construction.

Last but not least:  Government entities, from a school board to Congress have no profit motive, unlike the private sector who’s survival requires profit.  Therefore, other incentives and techniques should be applied to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.  Have our local and state agencies ever considered adopting groundbreaking management and efficiency models; e.g., Peter Drucker’s classical tenants of organizational efficiency, Management By Objective’s result-oriented management processes, Total Quality Management’s continuous product improvement, The Air Force’s Performance Management Program, Six Sigma’s process improvement strategies, or Lean Management techniques?

Our new Democrat governor professes a desire to integrate these private industry Lean Management techniques.  Was the 2012 $80,000,000 levy spent using efficiency-optimizing techniques?  A School Board reply to a request by our local Citizens for Responsible School Spending Committee, asking about adoption of this technique, indicated there has been no such implementation, and whoever answered the inquiry indicated he or she didn’t know what it meant.

What incentives exist for meeting goals by under-spending a budget?  Why aren’t budgets tied to a population increase x CPI multiplier?  How about teacher pay for performance vs. seniority?  Have alternate facilities or leasebacks been considered?  This project will pay prevailing wages (meaning union negotiated wage rates), meaning $35-hour flaggers and $41-hour drywall tapers at journeyman rates.  (Out of your pocket.)  Really?  My wife is an RN and after 42 years of civilian and military nursing floor and administrative nursing experience makes about $55 hour.

Start to manage government like a business, get public pensions under control, repeal the prevailing wage, reduce unnecessary and capricious regulations and union contracts, and get the public sector out of anything that isn’t in the Yellow Pages, and I’ll consider voting for a tax increase.  Let’s work on spending our existing budgets efficiently, instead of continually asking taxpayers for more without instituting common sense free market principles.

Published in: on October 17, 2013 at 20:28  Leave a Comment  

Musings, Quotes, and Observations on a conservative argument


Musings, quotes and observations: how to debate your liberal friends.  A collection of quick and descriptive concepts.  Some quoted, some from unremembered authors, and some just floating around out there

We’re robbing selective Peter to pay for collective Paul

Individual rights are what we need to mobilize all the knowledge it takes to run a successful society- William Easterly

Democracy is the institutional building of freedom and the institutional building of the rule of law- Condi Rice

If the US stops attempting to influence the direction of liberty and dictatorial cultures and governments, then one of two things will happen: chaos, or someone else (China, Russia, an Islamic Caliphate) will take our place.  This has been relegated to us from Britain- Condi Rice

The costs of federal spending are diffused throughout the population so no one has an incentive to push back.  So therefore the greater federal spending becomes- Larry Arnn interviewed on the Hoover Institution’s “Uncommon Knowledge” podcast

Protecting the equal and inalienable rights of people is the government’s primary responsibility- Larry Arnn

The modern bureaucracy is NOT a disinterested/unbiased/neutral organization.  As in self-interested, self-perpetuating, and self-justifying

Originalist interpretation of the Constitution.  Two ways of looking at it:

-      What the founders intentions were

-      What the original public meaning was

 Your representative [congressman] owes you not his industry but his judgment- Edmond Burke

John Taylor from his book First Principles:

  • Predictable policy framework

  • Rule of Law

  • Strong incentives

  • Reliance on Markets

  • Clearly limited role for government

     

“Is there no word in English [coming from a German elite] for gelehrt [cultivated]?” “Oh yes [from a Brit], we call it a prig.”

“There is no power but the State and the State can’t sin when following it’s own higher interests.”- Descriptive statement of how Central Planners think

Mediocre souls trapped in material enjoyments will readily trade their political liberty for peace and security in those enjoyments

In reaction, they withdraw from the public, forgetting they are citizens, and concentrate their lives on family, friends, and themselves. Losing sight of the public, they become oblivious to any distant goal and welcome the benevolent aid of big government, “the immense being”, that acts on their behalf with their passive consent because it knows better and offers to take over responsibility for the trouble of thinking and the pain of living”- D’Tocqueville

 Religion combats the shortsightedness and fecklessness of democracy, and gives it something to be proud of, above the mediocrity of material enjoyments. D’Tocqueville

 The scientific materialism that deprives citizens of their belief in the possibility of self-government is used to justify instead, the rational control of citizens by experts with knowledge of such science”. D’Tocqueville

Legal positivism definition: Judicial opinions based on the utilitarian authority of the govt. vs. constitutional originalism

These proceedings may at first appear strange and difficult; but, like all other steps which we have already passed over, will in a little time become familiar and agreeable; and, until an independence is declared, the continent will feel itself like a man who continues putting off some unpleasant business from day to day, yet knows it must be done, hates to set about it, wishes it over, and is continually haunted with the thoughts of its necessity-  Thomas Paine, last sentence of “Common Sense”

Our country’s stumbles are the result of human frailty, not a crack in our foundation of inalienable rights and our bedrock of constitutional republican government

State planners always plan for the result they would most like to see, not the one that is most likely to happen.– Friedrich Hayek

We are objects of liberals enlightened interest; then their pity; then their wisdom, then their coercion

Something destructive at its core can’t be fixed at its margins

Property, prices and prof/loss = incentives, information, and innovation. – Ludwig Von Misis.

Liberalism = something between defective temperament and malign intent

WA State income tax failed: People understand wealth destruction = job destruction. Also, they don’t believe they won’t be subject to the tax in the near future

Welfare programs are the oxygen that fuels social pathologies.

Needs morph into rights

Egalitarianism sounds warm and fuzzy but it ain’t necessarily so

NAZI = National Socialist Worker’s Party.  The left throws out this word all the time, but there is not a modicum of difference between the NAZI party and the Soviet Union re: genocide, central planning and authoritarianism

Freedom means the freedom to be unhappy as well

A civilization that feels guilty for defending everything it sees and does lacks the conviction to defend itself.  Blame America first

The Yellow Pages test.  Anything in the Yellow Pages has no business being administered by government

The control of production means the creation of privilege

Liberals’ four states of conservative theory acceptance (when a liberal is forced to admit a conservative theory is proven correct)

1. This is worthless nonsense

2. This is interesting but perverse

3. This is true but quite unimportant

4. I always said so

(As in Bill Clinton‘s statement that “The era of big government is over”.)

Promote vs. provide the general welfare. Not as in provide for the common defense

The Supreme Court thinks that California’s attempt to limit welfare payments to new residents is a violation of the 14th Amendment Privileges and Immunities clause, as in limiting welfare payments limits someone’s right to travel.  How bizarre

A study of math skills showed Koreans first and Americans last. But when asked if you consider yourself “good at math”, only 23% of Koreans said they did, but 66% of Americans said they did. Thank you Democrats for instilling self-esteem in our students

Nothing is more guaranteed to attract govt. money than repeated failure

In the “decade of greed/1980s”, charitable giving grew at an annual rate 55% faster than the rate at which it had grown over the previous twenty-five years

Today, wanting someone else’s money is called need, wanting to keep your own money is called greed, and compassion is when politicians arrange the transfer-  Joe Sobran

The MSM newsrooms are filled with those insulated from what is considered common knowledge by those reading the WSJ and other conservative media sources. Therefore the ethos self perpetuates

Where there is a crowd there is untruth- Kierkegaard

Dystopian. No dictionary definition. Means the opposite of utopian.  See Mark Levin’s new book

One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors- Plato

A lie will go around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on

The constitution stands for fixed principles, a gift from the founding fathers. Legislators, as stated by Lincoln, must look backwards, not forwards for guidance. Lincoln was wary of what he called “progress in govt.” I would call this an anti-progressive explanation of conservative (and by inference) constitutional principles.  The Democrat party/liberal alliance views constitutional principals as quaint and out of touch with progressive legislators’ superior abilities to socially engineer society for an entitlement addicted class dependent on the largess of  “forward looking” progressives

Secular Humanism is blind to the concept that there just might be something greater than us out there

Conservatives must wander somewhere between the ideal and the prudential- William F. Buckley

Free markets, property rights and enforceable contracts will always be at the tip of the spear of prosperity

The “Prohibitive precautionary principle”: An excuse to regulate based on the “just in case concept”, without regard to unintended consequences. A philosophy institutionalizing problems that might otherwise be transcended by time if just left alone

“The gifts of heaven are legitimate. The gifts of the state are suspect”- Andrew Jackson

Classical liberalism (as opposed to the current meaning of liberalism) stands as a corrective to utopian arrogance

Conservative ideology bears antipathy towards state sanctioned privilege

Milton Friedman MCs the 26th Legislative District Kilmer-Driscoll debates. Driscoll extolls the benefits of an economy unfettered by debt and restrictive drilling policies. Sen. Kilmer announces his ability to micromanage our economy via his ability to manipulate and micromanage every possible sub-sector, while completely divorced from any visibility on infinitely complex daily price signals occurring at the rate of about 10B per sec. All while standing on one leg and juggling.


Last Friday night at the Gig Harbor, WA Peninsula High School, 6th Congressional District candidates Bill Driscoll-R and Derek Kilmer-D debated, fielding questions from former County Councilman Terry Lee, Gateway and Puyallup Herald editor Brian McClean, and former GH City Council member Bob Dick.  

State Sen. Kilmer argued that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would raise 1 trillion dollars, equivocated on Keystone Pipeline construction, attributed the 1990s economy to Clinton’s fiscal policies, and employed the oft-used non sequitur “government investment”.

Regarding tax cuts, the 1 trillion-dollar increase in revenues is based on a “zero sum assumption”.  Meaning taking 1 trillion dollars away from “the rich” – a populist pejorative – will result in no offsetting decrease in spending and hiring by many of those small business owners passing through business profits to their 1040s.  Democrats’ proposals to raise taxes on these households, not accounting for the negative effects on revenue and employment, would cover about 1.1% of the national debt.  Only a middle class tax hike will produce their desired results.  The middle class is seeing annual $4,520 decreases in income and $2,500 increases in health care premiums.  In the debate Sen. Kilmer praised forcing insurance companies to insure 26-year-old dependents.  This is a prescription for higher premiums.  (He also bemoaned the loss of forestry jobs when he lived in Pt. Angeles, ignoring his party’s deference to the environmental lobby that precipitated this tragic blow to Olympic Peninsula employment.)

Regarding Sen. Kilmer’s equivocation on the Keystone Pipeline, even the current State Department (approval is needed due to the Canadian border crossing) could not show potential hazardous consequences.  The pipeline might go to the B.C. coast instead of Louisiana, the oil ending up in China instead as candidate Driscoll said, should Sen. Kilmer and his party prevail on Nov 6th.  Sen. Kilmer also demurs to the anti-domestic-energy lobby about developing our recently discovered, poorly utilized vast resources of oil and natural gas, e.g. the Marcellus and Permian Basin formations.  Estimates show 100+ years of gas resources, including a shift to a net energy export.  Any extraction increases have been on private and non-federally controlled land.  Current drilling on Federal land operates under Bush-era permits.  I assume Sen. Kilmer would support the administration’s policies denying and reducing permits?

Regarding Sen. Kilmer’s admiration for the Clinton era, the deficit improved only after the Republicans retook congress in 1994 and forced conservative fiscal policies like capital gains cuts and welfare reform, which Pres. Clinton signed only due to the pending election.  A briefly balanced budget resulted from this action, as well as from Clinton’s defense and intelligence cuts, and also from capital gains influxes due to the brief Internet day-trading craze, which then crashed.

Pres. Bush’s deficits, which I wasn’t pleased with but which were mostly wartime vs. entitlement caused (and the market based therefore under budget Medicare Part D prescription drug program), decreased to 162B after his tax cuts.  Following the Democrats’ 2006 congressional takeover, it increased to 450B.  Since 2008, we’re at annual deficits of about 1.3 trillion a year.  Even the current Senate majority refuses to pass the White House’s budget proposals.

Regarding Sen. Kilmer’s favored term “government investment”, transfer payments aren’t, as economist Milton Friedman said a free lunch.  Top-down central planning invariably results in misallocation of resources and quid pro quo distribution to unions, and to business via crony capitalism.  Not to mention budgetary sinkholes like light rail and alternative energy, which lack science-based and cost-effectiveness-based justification.

The marketplace, via billions of daily price signals, is the only practical method of resource allocation.  It’s impossible for government bureaucracies (or the most powerful supercomputer) to react to these infinite price signals.  Nor do these officialdoms have a profit-motivated incentive to do so, given never-ending taxpayer subsidies supporting this vicious cycle of damaging economic manipulation.

For our local politicians like Sen. Kilmer who think regulations such as the 9,000 page Dodd-Frank Act are required interventions, please investigate the root causes of this recession.  The Community Reinvestment Act, created under Carter and accelerated under Clinton, sought to guarantee home ownership regardless of creditworthiness.  This, combined with Fed’s then (as now) low-interest rate policy, and the creation of a secondary market for collateralized mortgages by government-created (and taxpayer-bailed out) entities like Fannie Mae, created the perfect storm that caused this recession.

Misguided government attempts to efficiently allocate resources fuel the self-fulfilling natural expansion of these bureaucracies.  This is why famous economist Friedrich Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom.  Hayek’s last book The Fatal Conceit, also illustrates Sen. Kilmer and his party’s conviction in government’s ability to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.

“Government investment” is an oxymoron. 

Published in: on November 4, 2012 at 23:47  Leave a Comment  
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Intelligent Design


Atheism, Deism, Naturalism, Panthesim, Theism, or what?………..

Although Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” was published in the century after the Constitution, with its emphasis on John Locke’s Natural Rights, its publication continues to ignite inspired debates on the nature of creation, not to mention the origin of the universe. Although this article differs from my polemics on the current administration and a few historical economists, I believe the Founding Fathers would have had much to say on this issue should they have been magically transported into modern times.

 

Creationism, evolution, or an alternative?

Running a searches on local and national newspapers and other media on captured countless hits for “religion”, “faith”, and “secular”, obviously a continuing theme. The Seattle Discovery issue addresses the Intelligent Design (ID) issue extensively.

Archived letters and articles I dug up in my search ranged from widespread condemnation of religious belief, to advocacy of biblically defined creationism.

Most ply one side of the ideological chasm between creationism and the secular majority view of evolution. Creationists believe in a strict biblical interpretation of Time’s opening act, while secularists insist on strict procedural study of biology and physics.

Pure biblical creationism doesn’t pretend to meet the modern definition of methodical inquiry- it’s deliberately based on faith. However, the secular scientific conventional wisdom on the creation of the universe and biological evolution also can fail to meet a logical test. ID is a third alternative.

Briefly, ID is defined as an intelligence-directed evolution acknowledging the march of life in its ever-increasing complexity and endless variegation. But ID also is a foundation for explaining how our universe came to support life in the first place, which in the final analysis cannot exist without intelligence outside of known space and time.

ID recognizes that the genetic code in our DNA is a repository of information; “information” being key, and the key concept being information always arises from intelligence. Given this understanding, Darwin himself employed the technique of figuring out what happened in the past by analyzing what’s happening now (DNA in its current evolutionary state), like reverse engineering: taking something apart to see how it’s built: similar to linear regression for you math minded types.

Evolution, increasing in complexity and information from the time the first molecule “built itself”, goes against the concept of natural decay, or entropy. The natural order of life is entropic, the opposite of a net gain in complexity, complexity being impossible without the addition of more energy. For example, a leaf on the sidewalk will not spring into ever more complex forms of life; on the contrary, during the process of entropy it gradually and naturally declines and its component chemicals dissipating into entropic energy. The evolution of coded information – the opposite of entropy – implies a beginning, or original source.

ID also advocates for an intelligently guided process prior to the universe’s creation- the big bang, also known as the singularity. (This being a tiny point of infinite density before known space and time, implying that a creative-intelligence existed prior.) There are several reasons why. The structure of our universe described by Einstein and others is infinitely curved and small; intelligent intervention is therefore necessarily required for matter to exist under these conditions. Additionally the anthropic principle, first introduced by physicist Fred Hoyle, means that fine-tuning of physics by an intelligent source is the only explanation for the perfect conditions that exist in our universe allowing life to develop.

These perfect conditions are byproduct of the perfect balance of several forces that govern the universe: gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism, and gravity. Gravity for example, is balanced exactly strong enough to allow matter to coalesce into stars, and exactly weak enough to keep stars from burning out before planets can coalesce. For the universe to be configured this way, against monumental odds, requires if not a belief in ID, then necessarily a belief in multiple parallel universes (part of what physicists call M-Theory). Only this explanation of multiple/infinite universes; other than our most unlikely fine-tuned cosmos, would allow for such an incredibly friendly habitable environment. Therefore denying both ID and parallel universes invites a difficult contradiction.

One physicist, Dr. Stephen Meyer, (associated with Seattle’s Discovery Institute and interviewed by David Bose), identifies several world/theological views, which address the possibility of an ultimate creator who kick-started the universe and guided evolution.

Materialism/Naturalism. This view states that matter and energy are the substances everything comes from. There is nothing beyond the physical world, the laws of nature are supreme, and there is no purpose for the universe. This worldview does not explain the increasing complexity of coded information like DNA, nor does it answer the question of the perfect balance of forces required for life.

Deism/Agnosticism. There is a God that created the universe and the conditions that allow for intelligent life, however this God is unknowable, and has long since “checked out”, and left us on our own. This worldview also doesn’t answer the above questions.

Theism. This is the religious worldview most in conformity with ID. There is a God- the ultimate intelligence that created our universe and the unique conditions allowing for life. God built in the capacity to pass down genetic information through millennia, and periodically intervenes as an agent of order and creation. Examples of the latter include the Cambrian and Marine Mesozoic explosions of life (information), which occurred in very narrow geological bands, negating the Darwinian view of gradual evolution through the natural trial and error of accidental chromosomal mutation. This worldview does although, fall short of a God that “personally” intervenes in our lives.

Even Dr. Michio Kaku, a world famous Theoretical Physicist, no fan of theological principle, postulates that the reason a subatomic particle exists simultaneously as a wave, and then as a particle when being observed, may be because its very existence depends on this observation, otherwise its component matter might just “blink out”. “You observe me, therefore I am.”

To paraphrase Dr. Meyer: “maybe the subconscious fear of the lay scientific community, is this: As they climb the steep mountain of scientific inquiry, while in search of the ultimate secular scientific answer to the birth of the universe and life, that they’ll finally reach the top and discover sitting and staring at them: a creator. Kind of makes you want to go hmmm.

Welcome to the Liberty thru Knowledge Blog. How would Hayek, Jefferson, Friedman, Washington, Von Misis, Adam Smith and others react to our current political climate?


Image

Adam Smith, author: “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” and “The Wealth of Nations”

Appointing department heads with rule making power ignoring constitutional law regarding when the Senate is or is not in session. What’s next?

Maybe abrogating the rule of bankruptcy law for Chrysler bondholders?

Maybe taking over the student loan program?

Maybe dictating what kind of cars Detroit has to build?

Maybe hiring a self-described 911 Truther and self-described member of the Communist Party as a rule making czar for “green jobs”?

Maybe forcing a thousand-plus page bill through congress without letting Representatives read the bills, resulting in a board of approximately 15 people in charge of the country’s medical decisions instead of your doctor?

Maybe cutting out huge swaths of the military budget without mention of cutting other discretionary spending? 

Maybe a Dodd/Frank financial bill so ambiguous that another unelected board of self-described policy experts using their self-created scientific methods will control our financial system without a peep of input from the end users? And those end users would be industries like heavy manufacturing that now have to use the same leverage/reserve requirements to buy steel contracts that large brokerages do?

Maybe pressuring the President of S&P to resign because you don’t like the downgrade of your poorly managed fiscal policy?

Maybe creating an unheard of position called regulatory czar manned by one Cass Sunstein, a self-described mastermind who thinks he can coalesce millions of wage and price signals to micromanage every aspect of a multi-trillion dollar economy. (While he’s busy insisting that a horse should have counsel in a court of law.) Mr. Hayek, we’ll need you to join us here via my time machine to quickly help us with this one.

Maybe hiring a czar who identifies as her inspiration two people: Mother Teresa… good so far… and then Mao Tse-Tung: a genocidal maniac responsible for the murder of over 50 million people (at least).

Oh wait! Sorry Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Bastiat, and Mr. Madison, we’ve actually done this!

Please see my previous post below on a workable time machine so you and your compatriots can join us here again in 2012 and give us some sage advice. We’ll have the receiving transporter set up for your arrival through the wormhole at the next Gig Harbor Republican Women meeting. Mead, whiskey, venison, and hasty pudding will be provided.

The protestors outside will want to take your farthings and Golden Eagles to pay for their demonstration complaining about the need for more spotted owls. WA state 26th LD Representative Larry Seaquist, as per his comment at the recent Chamber of Commerce meeting at Tacoma Community College about proposing start up of a new CCC and WPA, will lobby to have the entire town of Forks, WA march out and light up the Olympics with sustainable fluorescent lights. (Including, for the poisonous mercury, a chemical capture facility installed in the Hoh Rain Forest Visitors’ Center.) This new government WPA should more than make up for all the lost logging jobs. 

Don’t worry, after your concern precipitated by viewing our master planned futuristic society, I’ll take you out to the Tide’s Tavern for a sarsaparilla or Scottish whiskey.

Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 00:29  Leave a Comment  

Adam Smith, Frederic Bastiat, and Friedrich Hayek Join Us Through a Time Machine


A Machine called

Our Last Chance


Major scientific break though just announced. Advances in quantum physics have allowed visitors from the past. The first three, after exiting a time machine, spent a few weeks touring the U.S.  All, after revealing much disappointment, unanimously decided to run for Tacoma area political offices.

Friedrich Hayek – economist and social theorist, 1899-1992 – first out of the time machine (nicknamed by prankster inventor Our Last Chance) has announced a run for a 26th District Legislative seat, under his newly formed party, the Decentralists. He will be debating his opponent – allied with the new CentralPlannerist party – at Artondale Elementary School Saturday night.

A flyer Hayek’s volunteers are passing out at Ace Hardware, quotes Friedrich: “The problem of economic order is determined by the fact that the knowledge of what we must make use of exists as dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory information.”

Hayek told the Tacoma News Tribune science reporter, he implores us to learn from the past.  We should understand from his quote, that it is impossible for government legume quantifiers to efficiently glean vast amounts of conflicting economic data, in order to make rational decisions regarding picking winners and losers in the market place. He indicated shock, when he heard about the bail out of GM, vs. the proposed but tabled “cash for cluckers” chicken farm bailout. Mr. Hayek insisted to the reporter , that money injected into the economy through tax cuts is better directed by individuals reacting to natural market forces, than by the CentralPlannerist Party’s stimulus. His campaign sign maker, Milton F., also pointed out that unbridled entrepreneurship (until 2009) allowed inventions like the transistor, major medical breakthroughs, and the Internet.

Emerging from Our Last Chance behind Hayek, Frederic Bastiat – hailing from the French Liberal School of Economics, 1801-1850 – additionally expressing disappointment after his tour, has decided to run for the Tacoma City Council. Joining the Decentralist Party also, Frederic’s campaign is titled “Hands Off My Business”, reminding us of the futility of government attempts to kindle growth by selective stimulus in 19th century France.

Bastiat’s campaign literature paraphrases a whimsical story he wrote about a fictitious petition to the French government in 1845: “To the Honourable Members of the Chamber of Deputies.  I present a petition from the Manufacturers of Candles. What they pray for is that it may please you to pass a law ordering the shutting up of all windows and skylights, by or through which the light of the sun has been in use to enter houses.”

This tongue-in-cheek parable suggests that if the government bans windows, then British candle makers (very overcast there) wouldn’t have an unfair advantage due to the fact sunlight enters through the candle maker’s windows in sunny France and melts their wax!  Frederick will explain at the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce, that the moral of the story is that the unintended dire consequences of protectionism to Tacoma window makers and their suppliers, will outweigh any advantage to the economy by a betterment of local area candle makers’ circumstances.

The flyer also illustrates CentralPlannerist Party efforts to ban the entry of 95 trucks into the U.S. from Mexico, to save a few union-trucking jobs. This to the possible detriment of countless jobs in the U.S. to include local Washington State wine and apple exports due to retaliatory tariffs.

The last candidate to join us via the space-time continuum through Our Last Chance is Adam Smith – one of the fathers of modern economics, 1723-1790. Taking a two year leave of 18th Century Scotland, Dr. Smith will run for Tacoma’s 6th Congressional District seat. His guineas being refused by all the local banks, in the neighboring city of Gig Harbor, the Gig Harbor Decentralist Women’s Club will be throwing a fundraiser and auction for him at Jerisch Park on Monday.

The fundraiser’s theme will be one of Adam’s 18th century quotes: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard [for their] their own interest”. A local caterer serving venison, sarsaparilla, and loaves, will provide lunch at competitive cost. An insider in Tacoma area food services, leaked the rumor that the caterer is not benevolent, but only concerned about maximizing her profit by insuring quality. (Also whispered is that picketing CentralPlannerists will be objecting to their lack of entitlement to great catering at their desired cost, and will be petitioning the Tacoma City Council to set maximum catering prices.)

The MC, George Washington, also with us (inadvertently sucked into the wormhole), unfortunately can’t stay long as he has an urgent meeting in Yorktown.  George will open the event with one of his quotes: “A people… who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.”  Miles Standish, sucked into the wormhole along with George thanks to the properties of String Theories 11th dimension, will present a PowerPoint lecture (weather permitting) on how Plymouth Colony was saved from starvation by eliminating collective farms, instead allowing the pilgrims to work their own fields.

Fundraiser open to the public. The Gig Harbor Decentralist Women’s Club requests volunteers bring a hasty pudding for desert.

Your most humble and obedient servant, etc, etc

Chief Time Travel Correspondent, Poor Richards Almanac

Published in: on October 9, 2010 at 09:46  Comments (6)  

2nd Post on Frederic Bastiat. Please click here and then scroll to the bottom of the site to add a comment.


Frederic Bastiat

 

“All the measures of law should protect property and punish plunder”      

Frederic Bastiat, 1849

“The Law perverted!  And the police powers of the state perverted along with it!  The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law becomes the weapon of every kind of greed!  Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!  If this is true, it is a serious fact, and moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow-citizens to it.”      

Frederick Bastiat, 1849

Drat!  The plan being to move on to my next post, away from Frederic Bastiat and on to the next historical beacon of free market wisdom is foiled.  Just as I didn’t feel one post (see the Liberty Through Knowledge blog’s first two posts) on Friedrich Hayek was sufficient, I now realize that one on Frederic Bastiat will not do sufficient justice to his message and this blog’s intent of establishing a parallel between historical figures of his caliber and our modern times.

My last post touched on Bastiat’s book The Law.  In continuing to read this book, one finds that the parallels between Bastiat’s concerns about France’s rapid descent into socialism in 1848, and our current political and economic quandary become frighteningly prescient.  I use the word frighteningly with neither malice nor forethought.  (Well, OK, maybe just a little malice and a touch of forethought.   :-)  )

The Law is solely a compilation of short statements.  It being impossible to do justice to the book as a whole, I’ll review a few of these statements and then briefly illustrate their parallels to the current philosophical and economic mindset in Foggy Bottom.  (Acknowledged, professed, declared, … or not.)

What follows is a brief explanation of a few selected statements/paragraphs from The Law and their applicability to our modern times.

The Law- Property and Plunder

The main gist of the title of this paragraph is best illuminated by Bastiat’s quote:  “…it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice.”  OK, this one’s easy.  How about income redistribution?  (Yes, a rhetorical question.)  Income redistribution can be viewed as a textbook definition of plundering someone’s property.  How about the new never-ending surtax proposals on the rich [i]or a bureaucrat’s definition of rich), or cash for clunkers: [ii]$24K thereabouts- yes that’s three zero’s, yes that’s per vehicle, and yes that’s per tax payer – per clunker purchased.  So that’s 24K of taxpayer’s dollars redistributed (to newly government and union owned GM and Chrysler and new car buyers) for a regulatory czar’s personal concept (see the last paragraph of this post) of the [iii]“greater good”.

The Law- What is Law?

An excerpt from What is Law? states:  “…Since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty or property of another individual, then the [“common good”] – for the same reason – cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.”  The first modern parallel that comes to mind is the infamous Kelo decision.  Upheld by five of the non-originalist members of the Supreme Court, this decision removed the property of the plaintiff. (Susan Kelo’s home.)  Amendment V of the constitution states “…nor shall private property be taken for public use…”  (Emphasis added.)  Happily for detractors of Bastiat, including those who don’t believe in the uniform rule of law, the property was usurped to allow a private company to use the land, exercising the tortured viewpoint that tax revenues would benefit the “public use”.  Although admittedly Amendment V essentially explains eminent domain rather than authorizes it, a history of solid case law explains the founder’s intent.  For example much modern case law on eminent domain delineates its application to matters of public safety, public health, valid transportation requirements, and law and order.  Not to tax revenues from a private concern.

And by the way the private company granted land rights through this decision has pulled up stakes and skedaddled.  (How ironic…  :?   This development inadvertently left out of the NYT?)

The Law- The Results of Legal Plunder

The title leads us in perfectly, as does Bastiat’s own first sentence: “…the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder”.  His description of the purpose of law is to support justice.  Therefore any law specifically designed to favor one special interest group or another, forces an unwanted contradiction upon the law-abiding citizen.  When citizens recognize an immoral public statute, they now find themselves in a quandary: give up your moral sense of justice or lose respect for the law.  The clear recognition of legal plunder forces law-abiding citizens into this conundrum.

Fast forwarding into the 21st century, let’s illuminate where we’re going with this.  The recent Senate passage of health care legislation contained several peculiar sops to a few particular states.  (Specifically Nebraska, Florida and Louisiana.)  Health care legislation also could force individuals against their will off of employer health care and on to a public option, while exempting the very legislators voting for the bill (60% of the Senate right down party lines by the way) from its egregious mandates.  How (yes… again meant rhetorically) would Bastiat with his concern for a moral sense of the law and respect for uniformly applied justice view these modern shenanigans?

The Law- The Socialists Despise Mankind, and The Socialists Wish to Play God

These two paragraphs are the last I’ll review in this post.  (And I thank the readers for accommodating one final time traveling parallel.)  This section of  The Law offer truly stunning similarities between our hero Bastiat’s 19th century concerns, and this current disconcerting challenge to our liberty.  Bastiat here ponders the tendency of socialists (read the House Financial Services Committee) to “…. Look upon people as raw material to be formed into social combinations”, as in “… between the inventor and his elements [or] the Gardner and his trees”.

So here’s the “stunning similarities angle”:  Our current President, when questioned about the wisdom of government intervention in the economy while he was campaigning said this (paraphrased): “Just as in the space program, I intend to experiment to find out what works until a solution is found”.  Bastiat calls this mentality (direct quote) “high-handed at the least”.  The attitude here being that with enough experimenting government can rectify all of society’s ills.  Bastiat then – with tongue firmly implanted in cheek – states that: “the socialists believe that they have a creative power whose sublime mission is to mold these scattered materials [read people] into a society.”

Our friend Frederic then continues this description of 1849 France’s legislators (and by inference our current political majority party’s) mindset:   Paraphrased:  [iv]Mankind = evil, legislators = good; mankind = darkness, legislators = enlightened;  mankind = drawn towards vice, legislators = virtuous.  So by inference, our law makers’ arrogance now becomes instituted by force.  Either by actual force as in communism, or by as Friedrich Hayek puts it: arbitrary coercion.

*  *  *

Arbitrary coerciveness by the government knows no bounds: LBJ’s Great Society programs, the Community Reinvestment Act, high corporate taxes (et al.), affirmative action, [v]politically correct textbook alteration  (yes censoring), and one more essential example of unjust coerciveness that can’t be left out:  [vi]the Supreme Court decision granting enemy combatants constitutional protections.

*  *  *

The rule of law and a moral sense of justice are evaporating into the ether.  Destructive altruism, invasive social engineering and moral superiority by our lawmakers seep past our constitutional protections just as water leaks through a dam.  Heed Frederic Bastiat’s good counsel.

Comments con and pro most welcome.  Really!


[i] Is someone who starts a business and invests their life savings, builds up debt over 5 years, assumes a massive amount of risk, and then finally, if they are one of the lucky few who make it and turn a profit of over let’s say 250K the 6th year rich?  What is rich?  Cash flow?  Assets minus 5 years worth of liabilities?  Personal bank account after life savings depleted?  Future revenue expectations?  So what is rich by the current administration’s definition regarding tax liabilities for being “too privileged”?  What about the majority of business starts that don’t make it and therefore can’t hire workers?  Are they now victims?  Should they have their risk based losses reimbursed by the taxpayers? Please  google “moral hazard”.

[ii] edmunds.com Senior Analyst David Tompkins, PhD

[iii] For those not convinced that “Cash for Clunkers” isn’t a greater good: consider estimates by the Dept. of Energy of a total of 4.5 hours driving worth of gas saved per year U.S. wide.  So you’re still not convinced this isn’t worth five figures of tax payers $ per vehicle?  How about the unintended consequences – as the vast majority of govt. intervention results in – of the loss of business/jobs for used car parts manufacturers, the reduction of the number of used cars on the market driving up prices for those who can’t afford a new car, the new cars that would have been purchased anyway, the energy required to build a false excess (non free market mandated) of new vehicles, or the extra miles some people might drive due to getting higher mpg?  How do those of our legislators with the current trendy entitlement saturated altruistic frame of mind explain these results?  With an “oops” – I didn’t mean for that to happen.  Oh well, on to the next social experiment.  (As in the above reference to our current President’s method of managing the economy like NASA’s modus operandi of experimenting until finding something that works.

[iv] I don’t think Bastiat would have an issue with mankind’s ongoing internal struggle with ‘evil darkness and vice’, it’s the assumption of ‘good enlightened and virtuous’ regarding some of our elected representatives he would take issue with.  :)

[v] Here’s a few of the directives California educators have mandated for their textbooks:  The nation’s Founding Fathers must be referred to as “The Framers”.  (Too paternalistic mind you.)  Images of unsafe foods – hot dogs, sodas, cake, etc. – have been banned.  Mount Rushmore can no longer be pictured because “it appears to offend” some Native Americans.  Yachts cannot be depicted in textbooks because theyseem elitist.  Trust me, it doesn’t end here.

[vi] The consequences of course endangering U.S. citizens by the necessary release of classified information outside of military tribunals.  This arbitrary and unjust application of the law by necessity hamstrings our soldiers on the battlefield by potentially putting them into the position of granting Miranda Rights to enemy combatants; non-uniformed mind you.  (Not to mention having to pick up shell casings with a pencil, ala Miami CSI?… Or is that Kandahar CSI?  Sarcasm unfortunately very much intended.)

 

Frederic Bastiat and Us. Please click here and scroll to the bottom of the site to add a comment.


It’s raining dollars!  What would Frederic Bastiat have to say about this if he could speak to us from 1848?


As government regulations grow slowly, we become used to the harness – Judge Robert Bork

Hail 1840s French Liberalism!

Frederic Bastiat


We interrupt our regular programming.  The President has just banned windows in order to benefit candle makers; candle production, he says, will stimulate the economy as long as candles aren’t melted by sunlight.  The administration also announces it will nationalize candle manufacturing, allow greedy wax suppliers only 10% of the money they are owed by the candle makers, plus grant a 30% share of Acme Candles, Inc.  to the UCMDWU (United Candle Mold Delivery Workers’ Union).   New York Times White House correspondent asks Press Secretary Robert Gibbs what most enchanted the President before he was blessed with this economic epiphany.

OK, I’ve got the facetiousness out of my system.  I wish I could take credit for this prescient concept.  I’ll admit to only my personal sarcasm in tying the philosophy of that remarkably witty proponent of freedom and liberty: Frederic Bastiat, (see link to Wikipedia entries from the pictures on the sidebar) to our current state of affairs.  Frederic Bastiat was a member of what was known as the French Liberal School in the 1840s (liberal as in the classical/original free market definition), warning of the folly of government intervention in the marketplace.  His parable of a fictitious petition by candle makers to the French government to eliminate windows in order to prevent candles from melting – thereby increasing economic prosperity by insuring the success of the candle industry (at the expense of the window industry…oops) – is a hilarious anecdote.  It also unfortunately illustrates the genesis of the president’s belief system.

Obviously above, I make reference to the bailout of GM, the perversion of the rule of law in throwing Chrysler bond holders to the wolves, and the artificial propping up of the UAW rather than normal bankruptcy pecking order.  Bastiat’s fable of altruistic but ultimately damaging marketplace intervention, is echoed consistently by the current administration’s adherence to this paradigm of unlimited spending by fiat justified by its immediate/short term effects on various and sundry interest groups.  In fact, Friedrich Hayek (see my previous two posts) said in a review of Bastiat that, according to 1930s economist John Maynard Keynes, the assumption of a multiplier effect (simply meaning a belief that the government can stimulate the economy by spending, producing a return greater than the cost of the stimulus; thereby increasing employment) on general economic prosperity would precisely mimic the argument of the candle makers!

Cash for clunkers (and maybe the upcoming Stimulus II cash for “cluckers” chicken farm bailout?) would most certainly fit neatly into these fallacies: money will do more good in the hands of the government, and it is the duty of government  to see that all get what they “deserve”.

Lastly, Frederic Bastiat’s landmark book: The Law has remarkable parallels to the economically damaging entitlement philosophies of the current congressional majority.  For example Bastiat says in the section The Results of Legal Plunder, “No society can exist unless the laws are respectable to a certain degree.  The safest ways to make laws respected is to make them respectable.”  This quote illustrates the current congress’s path towards a society in which greater than 50% of workers pay no taxes, and receive payments in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit.  Therefore, this non-tax paying majority – the receivers of public services and governmental largess – are able to award themselves through the ballot ever increasing free goods and services from the minority: the tax payers/suppliers of public services and governmental largess.  I see no end to this increase in receivers, to include the resulting unconstructive inertia towards manufactured dependence.

So to bring my polemic to a close, I quote Bastiat one more time: “Legal plunder is identified as “… the law takes from some persons [what] belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong…The person who profits from this law… will claim that the state is obligated to protect and encourage his particular industry…”

— Or nationality, ethnicity, income demographic, religion, color, blue collar, white collar, government employee, Woodstock museum, first time home buyer, union member, sexual preference, illegal immigrant, home in foreclosure, Wall St., Main St., small business, large business, self esteem damaging tatoo removers (I didn’t make this one up: see   http://www.mcclatchydc.com/226/story/63697.html), “green” energy producer, municipality, farmer, auto parts supplier, environmentalist, “too big to fail” bank and insurance companies, student, teacher, cop, mechanic, ethanol producer, the bicycle spoke hooker-uppers’ guild, donut shop owners’ amalgamated, and last but not least……….Acme Candles, Inc.

Comments on the blog con or pro most welcome.

Constitution of Liberty Part II… Please Click Here and scroll to the bottom of the page to add a comment.


This is the 2nd part of my discussion of Frederick Hayek’s  The Constitution of Liberty Chapter 5, and the book’s remarkable foresight concerning the current assault on free markets and liberty.

 

The Great Man himself

The Great Man himself

 

So continuing on from my previous post, how else does this dissertation on individual responsibility tie in with current events?  In one word-entrepreneurialism.  How about the current legislation on “tax cuts” for those not paying taxes, and the inverse relationship taxes have on motivation and risk assumption?

Regarding motivation, Hayek says:  “Yet there can be no doubt that the discovery of a better use of things or of one’s own capacities is one of the greatest contributions that an individual can make in our society…  Whoever leaves to others the task of finding some useful means of employing his [own] capacities must be content with a smaller reward.”

Besides this wonderful argument for entrepreneurialism, there are additional parallels.   How about the continual debate between conservatives and liberals on risk assumption and its relationship to success?  (Or failure!)  And how about those who believe the successful should be punished by making them responsible for those unwilling to risk the consequences of their own decisions?  (Class warfare and income redistribution.)  This is another great tie between Hayek’s ideas in The Constitution of Liberty and our current dilemma.  In other words, he says there are no guarantees in life, and government picking winners and losers in the marketplace is highly destructive.

This is a can of worms that has been opened in our recent political climate with regards to the debacle of GSEs (govt. sponsored enterprises: Fannie Mae etc.) and their unintended consequences of an unsustainable real estate bubble based on a home ownership entitlement for all regardless of credit.  This trend towards the government “insertion” of  individuals into a higher demographic without their earning it cancels out the oftentimes unpleasant but necessary results of risk assumption.  These consequences are what’s called “moral hazard”:  meaning the government mandated reduction of risk caused by bailing out losers in the marketplace. Whether it be the Treasury bailing out defaulting homeowners, or the Treasury bailing out corporate  holders of Mortgage Backed Securites (MBS) at above market prices:  it’s all the same.   The result of market manipulation by the government never changes when people are not allowed to reap the rewards, or suffer the consequences of their decisions and assumption of risk.

The new president and congress is taking us down disappointing and uncharted territory.   Free market conservatives must impress upon their entitlement-centered liberal friends the wisdom of Frederick Hayek’s not only historic but continuously relevant ideas.

For those interested in further review of Frederick Hayek’s works, I recommend these sites.

http://homepage.newschool.edu/het//home.htm

http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Fperson=52&Itemid=28

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2247048/posts

Comments con and pro from readers most welcome!

Welcome to the grand opening of the Liberty Through Knowledge blog. The Constitution of Liberty Part I


“The greatest tyranny has the smallest beginnings.  From precedents overlooked, from [remonstrances] despised, from grievances treated with ridicule, from powerless men oppressed with impunity, and overbearing men tolerated with complaisance, springs the tyrannical usage which generations of wise and good men may hereafter perceive and lament and resist in vain.”

The Times of London, Aug. 11, 1846.

Welcome the grand opening of the blog Liberty Though Knowledge

 

In this blog I will be discussing some of the great free market thinkers throughout history:  From Adam Smith through Milton Friedman.  Specifically this blog will be addressing the remarkable prescience these individuals had on not only the conundrums of their own time, but on the current political assault on liberty and the free marketplace.

My first entry on the Liberty Through Knowledge blog is a discussion of Frederick Hayek’s book The Constitution of Liberty.   Specifically Chapter 5- Responsibility and Freedom

This chapter is a great reflection of our current state of affairs!  In Hayek’s description of the slide of 1950s society towards socialism, his discussion centers on the need for personal responsibility and its relationship to a free society.   Although written in the 1950s, it specifically addresses our current mortgage crisis, spawned by the recievers of Fannie Mae campaign contributions: Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd (The President was one of the top three receivers when he was a U.S. Senator), The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), The Assoc. for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and generally coercive actions and regulations by Congressional Committees towards home lending institutions to grant mortgages to those without the wherewithal to keep up payments.  An altruistic intent to a large extent, but as usual the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In this chapter, Hayek emphatically states that a free society can’t function unless individuals accept that their position and success is directly attributable to their personal choices, regardless of luck or the lack of it.  Everything from an individual dishonestly signing a mortgage agreement to the above politicians and their proxies such as ACORN coercing banks to lend to un-creditworthy customers through the CRA, are harbingers of this country’s slide away from personal responsibility and its inseparable relationship to liberty.

Frighteningly today, many American’s desire for liberty is coming into question; just as it apparently did during the writing of this book, as liberty does not guarantee happiness or success. Hayek goes on to explain that those who insist their lives are dependent on circumstances outside of their control are those who tend to be afraid of (or even hostile to!) liberty itself.  He continues by explaining that this fear of liberty therefore leads to a predisposition towards governmental largess in areas from income redistribution to outright legalized moralizing.  A great current example is House Democrats’ motif that everyone be given the “right” to own a home.  Or how about the President’s government guarantee of General Motor’s warrantees?  (Now the govt. is going to fix your muffler for you.)  These current examples illustrate that:  We as conservatives believe that liberty means freedom from governmental coercion.  Liberals believe that liberty means freedom from all want or need.

This avoidance of individual responsibility also stems, according to Hayek, from something deeper than a fear of freedom (e.g. failure to succeed).  Hayek describes this avoidance of personal decision making as universal determinism, a concept originating in the 1800s.    All this term represents is the false belief that the general state of affairs in one’s life is determined by external events, or fate if you will.  (“Oh well, everything’s out of my control, why should I bother to try to improve my standard of living.”)  Basically, what this boils down to is: do we have free will and do our decisions have concrete consequences on our personal circumstances? (By the way, Judeo/Christian theology says we do.)

My next entry will finish the discussion of the Constitution of Liberty, Chapter 5, and it’s relevance to our modern times.

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