Monday, April 30, 2007

Constitution not respected

Is it right for the current president to not respect the Constitution? It is not right for the president to make a firing of eight attorneys because they were not in cahoots with Bush. In a recent speech done by former presidential candidate Barack Obama he states the Bush does not respect the Constitution. This is absolutely absurd to have our current president not even respecting the document that hold this country together. The constitution are rules that have been established along with principles that govern an organization or political entity. The constitution guarantees right s to people, and for the president to not respect that is ridiculous. The president uses his coercive power to get rid of eight attorneys which can backfire and make this country worse off. The reasoning behind the firing of these attorneys was mainly do to the fact that they were not on Bush's side. This is unconstitutional to do by the president which is also the reason why it is said that he doesn't respect our constitution. Obama has made efforts to rally up people to get the truth out there. If our own president can not respect the constitution then why should we respect him.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Zoning regulations - Government Rent Control?

The recent discussions on land zoning regulations led me to think of the current development and growth in my hometown of Colorado Springs. I have lived in this region for thirteen years of massive growth. Areas of town that were not inhabited such as Stetson Hills, Falcon and Fountain have experienced dramatic housing and commercial growth. I'm a firm believer in "responsible growth", yet it seems that zoning changes from previously agriculture zoned land to residential is merely a phone call and a back room discussion away from approval. It is true that these changes in zoning to residential applications increases employment, tax base and promote economic growth, however is this growth smart?

The east side of Colorado Springs is a ill-conceived sprawl of suburbia. This has led to increases in schools with no funding to provide new schools (i.e. Falcon School District. In the mix on the development is the question of water availability. Furthermore, as the population of Colorado Springs heads east, no insight has been given to improving our east-west travel. I do realize that growth has periods of changes and adjustments yet, our city council and county commissioners have given little consideration to responsible growth, rather a green light to developers to keep building.

It is interesting that this land can be so easily rezoned without thinking of the ramifications of the development. A moritorium on building is not a viable answer. The plans of developers should be closer scrutinzed to examine their appeal, need and sustainability. It appears to me that our local government is thinking in a short term mentality of stimulating our economy, when a long run plan is in the other back room waiting to rear its ugly head.

Friday, April 27, 2007

No freedom of speech for students?

In Indiana a teacher was the advisor for the school paper. One of the students wrote an article on tolerance of gays. The teacher allowed the article to be published in the school paper. The teacher has been reprimanded and forced to resign. The settlement has included her placement in a new district where she will not be allowed to have any involvement with the school paper. the principle has justified her reprimand on the grounds that she was required to discuss any articles of a controversial nature with him prior to them being published.

So, I can understand that in schools the board and the administration is subject tot he desires of the parents. There may have been some people who were offended by the article. There were probably people that were not offended. Certainly on the grounds of liberty this is a ridiculous situation. The teacher is being punished because she let a student express her views. the teacher did not even write the content in question. Certainly the teacher was preserving the students rights. Certainly no harm was inflicted on other people due to the article. If people found it offensive they could certainly opt not to read it. I might suggest that it is the parents responsibility to direct the students in what is acceptable. Generally, if the parents are doing their job and they feel that something is unacceptable the children will know that and also feel that way and avoid content that offends them. The school and the disapproving parents have overstepped their boundaries. Maybe people don't like it, but everyone has a right to express their opinion.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Social Security or Liberty Liability

Social security has been a dark cloud hovering over the US for numerous years. The many problems with social security have left American wondering if they are ever going to see their money that was invested. Reform has been attempted, but the myriad of problems has been a tomato seed under the fingers key politicians. No publicly appealing short term solutions have been seriously considered. One of the largest and most difficult problems to address comes from our age structure. In the early 50s the worker-to-beneficiary ratio around 16.5 to 1, this allowed for minimal contribution by the workers. Because our reproductive cycle has slowed to 3.3 to 1 it takes more contribution per worker to give the same benefits, within 40 years the ratio is expected to drop to 2 to 1. The second major problem is the investment vehicle the government chosen. They have invested in themselves almost exclusively in US government securities! The only way for the government to pay off the debt they have issued is to issue more, cut spending or tax our shirts off. Some government assistance is necessary, but when citizens become dependent on transfer payments their personal retirement planning is effected.

How can the government get out of this major problem they have created? The obvious solution is to increase public savings and slowly reduce the benefits of social security until it no longer exists. Unfortunately, a politician running on that campaign could not get elected for dog catcher in Grand Junction.

The idea that we are paying for something we may never see is a very serious infringement on our liberty, and by many, could be construed as stealing. Why do we allow them to forcefully steal our money with almost no hope of repayment? Because their coercive force is greater than the individual, we do not have a choice. Only in large aggregates can change be made. It will just take time for Americans to realize the shear size of the problem, and create political demand for a solution.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It turns out that FEMA is inefficient

A new report set to be released by the Department of Homeland Security found that FEMA poorly awarded contracts for the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Most the contract bids were either exceptionally low or high. One goal of FEMA was to hire local companies to spur the devastated economy. Several companies were found to be exceptionally large and non- local, and had ties to the Republican party. Flour Corp. and its subsidiary PRI-DJI received large no- bid contracts and have happened to have donated more than $930,000 to primarily GOP candidates. FEMA officials claimed that expensive contracts would be offset later down the road by lower payments. Some of the examples of erratic bids were; a range of $74 to $4,720 to refurbish trailers, when cost should have been $295 according to Homeland Security audits, and bids accepted from companies with negative net worths (all information from attached associated press article link).

It is of course not surprising that a government entity is inefficient. A company was contracted recently by the Department of Defense to make tourniquets for Iraq, which cost about $40.00 apiece and consisted of a piece of webbing and a couple d- rings (a glorified scout belt). The story of hammers that cost $70.00, etc, etc. And especially FEMA, after all the previous mismanagement and misspending estimated to have cost 1 billion dollars. This sort of mismanagement of a national disaster really makes for a sound argument for privatization of certain government sectors. Real fodder for Rothbard's argument. Even when government contracts private firms it cannot do so in a way which is allocatively efficient. A small group profits while the majority suffers, in this case taxpayers. According to Rothbard: The essence and the glory of the free market is that the individual firms and businesses, competing on the market, provide an ever-changing orchestration of efficient and progressive goods and services: continually improving products and markets, advancing technology, cutting costs, and meeting changing consumer demands as swiftly and as efficiently as possible (For a New Liberty, 195). When government is left to do the allocation, it becomes inefficient.

Appeal to force

Is it justified that an Army Ranger take an order form an officer to with hold information about a specific incident that occurred. The case dealing with the friendly fire case of a former solider had a situation that dealt with the appeal to force. The soldier was threatened that if he did not give false information then he would get in trouble. This is an example of an appeal to force brought upon by some person of higher rank. When the information was revealed to President Bush he made no reference to the idea that it may have been friendly fire even though it was suggested to him. The government violated its most basic responsibility in that in order to make a better story parts of the incident were left out. The government used its coercion to neglect the fact that the truth was being avoided in order to protect people. The least the government could do is inform the family what had really happened. The military instead of telling the truth about what had actually happened was to make up a story that was unreasonable to give the death a sense of heroic efforts, rather than a friendly fire death. The appeal to force or the use of governments coercion is unjust in the sense that when used to make a story be portrayed as a lie is wrong and there should be legal action taken by the government.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

One and Only One Lesson in Economics

Opportunity cost, or said, all costs of an action, immediately visible or otherwise hidden by the 'what may be' and 'what could have been'; is the single most important lesson one can learn in economics. However, the true significance of the lesson lay outside the realm of economists. What makes the lesson of opportunity costs so important is the impact on the overwhelming majority non-economists. Certainly, esoteric lessons in Methodenstreit are important and impact non-economists but if the world could be educated in one idea I would not have a second thought that the idea would be opportunity costs.

Opportunity cost is the foundation for much of economics, it also has deeper applications. Accounting for opportunity costs is the first step in building an abstract or higher model for an individual's thinking and the supreme aegis against the demagoguery of destruction.

The ability for one to explain, “the only cost incurred in selling these tickets is five dollar price tag the tickets carry” is about as common as a glutton for embarrassment at an American Idol audition. In this thought process the individual only sees the immediate cost, the price of the tickets and ignores all the costs, where as the individual keeping opportunity costs in heart would see all the costs like, what the money used to buy the tickets could otherwise be used for and the time it takes to actually sell the tickets. An understanding of opportunity costs will impart everyone from the stay-at-home mom to the prospective businessman with an invaluable tool in accounting for the mundane and monumental.

After 9/11 and Katrina it was common to hear arguments along the lines of, “well at least the rebuilding process will stimulate the economy and add jobs.” What is even more unfortunate about such statements is that sometimes they were coming from economists themselves. The slightest understanding of opportunity costs would prevent the proliferation of such pro-destruction rhetoric. The offending party correctly thinks that some parties will benefit, such as Home Depot, what they fial to understand however is that this benefit comes at an overall detraction to society. Home Depot benefits from the home owners now buying a large amount of their goods whereas previously they would have not. Home Depot then buys more goods from its suppliers, hires more workers and invests more, the workers buy more goods like Ipods and milk, Apple invests more, hires more works etc; and I cant object, this is all true. However, what the destruction dunce fails to account for is the hidden costs. In my example this is the homeowners who had to purchase drywall and beds instead of computers and shoes. So where society had previously had a house and a computer we now have a house and we are all that much worse off because of it. Or maybe we should just run around and firebomb entire cities to stimulate the economy.

Monday, April 23, 2007


I started to reread the road to serfdom and found this cartoon.

This is probably the best music track ive ever heard too.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Assassination, Government Officials and Liberty.

Recently, in conversation it dawned on me, Nancy Pelosi would take the presidential throne should the president and vice president be killed. My synapses were flooded with horrific images and not just the ones that are normally conjured when one looks upon the ruined skeletal visage hidden behind a wall of makeup three pounds thick. No, my mind recoiled at the thought of someone that is so openly anti-liberal laying a foundation for further affronts on liberty in much the same way Lincoln; whom, contrary to my build up of Mrs. Skelator, is the focus of my writing today.

Lincoln comes to my immediate attention for two reasons. Not only was Lincoln assassinated but he is considered by many to be a great American hero because of his manner of death. Furthermore, Lincoln is responsible for the most salient and enduring anti-liberal action undertaken by a president, the American civil war. When I was just a stripling in middle school I can recall doing a presentation on American presidents. Each student was assigned one president, as you can guess, I had Lincoln. I also remember concluding my presentation on, “the greatest American president” with the end of his life and something along the lines of, “those last four days were the happiest days of his life.” Lincoln, of course, was actually Americas greatest tyrant and is responsible for the death of over 600,000 men and the American liberal spirit.

The question then becomes, if Lincoln was in fact responsible for the death of all these men and and innumerable violations of property how should he be held responsible? I would advocate a market solution, the violated parties seek restitution or injunction. If a thief is to break into my home would I not take action to prevent and recover my losses? This motivation to protect ones property is actually a result of market forces. The butcher, next to the baker sees that his neighbor has been robbed because he left his back door unlocked every night. The butcher not wishing to be victim to a similar fate locks his door. In this way, the bank has the safe, the home owner the shotgun.

Government officials, being constituted of humans like you and I are no exception. For example I pay my neighbor to murder my wife I'm no less responsible for the murder of my wife than my neighbor. Yet, the above is exactly what government officials around the world do. When an official in the production of say, votes, encroaches on another's property, in say eminent domain, and does not have to account for the costs of his action these actions will tend to be oversupplied. In the case of Lincoln and his Proclamation of Blockade Against Southern Ports the injured parties should, in a market driven society, seek injunction and restitution to make further officials aware of all costs associated with their actions. We can even apply the principle to a smaller scale, such as police officers.

Finally, we come to my title, Assassination, Government Officials and Liberty. Assassination is warranted on a far larger scale than it is currently practiced. There is a reason why leaders around the world have come to a consensus on the matter, why all government officials from the lowly street thug with a badge to the president and chancellor with a pen are hailed as unconditional heros upon their slaying, why assassination is considered one of the most barbaric things one can do in a modern society. The only thing barbaric is a cowardly official hiding behind a title or an army to impose his will on the unwilling.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Worker rights in trade agreements

A recent article in the New York Times discussed negotiations between Congress and the President on several pending trade acts. The Democrats of course are pushing for more protection of labor rights. The labor rights that are expressed in the bill are a ban on child and slave labor and the right to organize. The Democrats also want to include the International Labor Organization accords.
This whole debate does not make much sense to me. How is the U.S. going to make sure that these laws are enforced? Enforcing these kinds of laws would be a waste of our time needless to say inefficient. The whole point of trading with these countries is for their cheep labor which in turn makes their goods cheep. By enforcing these laws we are increasing the cost of labor. The Democrats are in a way pushing for unions. Of course the labor unions in the U.S. are supporting the Democrats in this legislation. To me it sounds a little bit like rent seeking behavior. If international labor laws are enforced then labor around the world becomes more expensive; therefore, raising the price of goods and possibly allowing unions in the U.S. to compete.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Darn those American polluters!

Cars are an American pastime. Since Henry Ford’s Model T, Americans have loved their cars. But with the recent concerns over global warming and emissions, the US has been taking a lot of flak over the amount of gas guzzling cars that we own and their effect on the environment. Are there solutions to this problem? Of course. Any that Americans would take to? Probably not.

Aside from certain states attempting to pass laws that would lower overall car emissions, little has been done to decrease the impact that American drivers have on the environment. Of course there are other ways of lowering the pollution that American vehicles produce, but they’re not very likely. Some would suggest that we take advantage of public transportation or walk to our destinations. Doing either of these would significantly lower our impact on the environment. However, unlike many European and Hispanic countries, the Landscape of most of American states is not built for this. Colorado Springs is a prime example. Most people are living in one area and working in another. With the open landscape that we have, walking anywhere is simply out of the question. Public transportation wouldn’t be much better. With the variety of destinations that residents travel to every day, an hour of errands would turn into an entire day of traveling. Not to mention that a prevalent trait among U.S. citizens is their love of the open road and its symbolism of freedom. So, people can gripe all they want about our car pollution, but until pollution-free fuel is created, Americans will continue to drive their gas guzzlers and love doing it while the rest of the world blames us for global warming.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Democracy or Liberty

In the article On Democracy on the website Free Market News Network Corp. author Steve H. Hanke writes about democracy and U.S. documents. He explains that the intention of the Framers of the Constitution was never democracy as many people in the public think. Hanke states that “the Constitution was designed to further the cause of liberty, not democracy”. Within the Constitution are set limits(rules) for each branch of the United States Government: legislative, judicial, and executive. These limits give the branches certain powers to exercise and to check the other branches of government while ultimately protecting people from abuse of government powers. Democracy isn’t even mentioned in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence. I think it is interesting to look at the principles of which our Constitution and other documents were founded on and the direction our government is taking today with domestic and foreign policy. Our government seems to be forcing democracy, not liberty, on other nations as well as our own. It would seem more rational to me to take the route of the Framers of the Constitution and push for liberty. I am not saying that democracy is evil or bad, but I am saying that I could see where democracy could move our country towards more government intervention and control that would result in less freedom for the people. I think the Framers of the Constitution realized this as well and that is why they wrote the Constitution and other documents the way that they did.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Global Climate change is raising the price of dinner

Due to the current hot topic of global climate, the world is in a scramble to find an alternative to oil and coal. Recent attention has been focused on corn based ethanol as a alternative. The surge in use of corn as a fuel is having a huge impact on the US agricultural market. Not only are farmers growing more corn but they are selling it at a much higher price. Corn is the primary ingredient of cattle feed in the US, and the inflated prices are making it harder for cattle ranchers to properly feed their animals. It is reported that livestock are weighing in 10-20 pounds lower than usual. Lower weights mean a lower supply of beef and higher prices to the consumer.

As of now there has not been any notable rise in prices for beef but if demand continues to increase for corn and the price continues to rise, this will undoubtedly rise beef prices in the near future. So not only does the government subsidizing of ethanol encourage a switch to a less efficient, less cost effective fuel, it is also increasing the prices on our dinner menu.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Economic Freedom

This link is to Michael J. Totten's diary as he is in Iraq (thank you to Dr. Eubanks for making aware this site in his blog Economics & Liberty"). In this particular entry, Totten talks about how Kurdistan is booming in a country with sectarian violence and strife. Yet here is a part of that country which is booming. In fact, land is being scooped up by investors (more than likely foreign investors).

As the theme for our class has been on economic freedom, I can't think of a better example of how this type of freedom works. I have been reading a biography on F. A. Hayek and one of the things mentioned is that socialism does not work and that our century will be remembered by the battle between socialism and capitalism/economic freedom. I can't help but think that we are living in a time where we will see the end to socialism and the re-birth of the economic freedoms our founders so desperately wanted to impose on future generations.

Within so many news articles today (many you have to look for) describing the benefits of property rights and economic freedoms, I think our primary role as economists should be coming up with solutions to help those in countries that do not yet have the economic freedoms we have. How can we help Mexicans want to stay in their own country. Do micro loans really help those in developing countries.

Before I started this class, liberalism was a dirty word to me- I did not understand it's first, or true, meaning. Now, I can not think of other solutions to the problems we, as Americans, and those needing freedoms, other than property rights and free markets without government interference. The roots of all of the solutions I can come up with begin with these simple, yet
necessary rights.

I find it so discouraging that the main stream press does not report on such progress like that seen in Kurdistan. This lack of reporting also shows to those in oppressing regimes (such as Venezuela) that economic freedom is not important to us. I wonder if more Americans knew about the success in Kurdistan and, say Lebanon or Lybia, if the support for our troops would increase. We see how bad it is, we don't see any success. I think countries like Iran like that- how unfortunate.