Thursday, May 10, 2007

Evolution, Immigration and Trade

Paul H. Rubin discusses free trade, immigration, and evolution. He argues for the restrictions of trade to be dropped and to let immigration work. He also says that evolution has a lot to do with this. But what I find most intriguing is his view on a static world:

Our primitive ancestors lived in a world that was essentially static; there was little societal or technological change from one generation to the next. This meant that our ancestors lived in a world that was zero sum -- if a particular gain happened to one group of humans, it came at the expense of another.

This was one of the topics we discussed at length this past semester. There are so many people today who cannot see the world in any way but a static view. They also therefore see economics as static as well. Rubin thinks, like I do, that the economy (in particular immigration and trade) are evolving. We can not view these two policy issues as we once did. John Stossel had a good piece on 20/20 concerning outsourcing ( In his piece he argues the benefits of outsourcing. Aside from the obvious union objections, many see outsourcing, like immigration and trade, as static views and therefore it must be bad.

Rubin is correct. We need to be looking at out world, economics, as evolving, or changing. When we can open our minds to the non-linear model, we might make more progress.


In certain countries smoking can be considered part of the culture, some 30% of Spaniards smoke. It is right for government to take that away. In January of 2006, the government of Spain made it illegal smoke in the workplace. They have also restricted smoking in certain bars and public locations. Is this a violation of our liberty?

I really don’t like the concept that other can take rights from you. It really comes down to the question what are your rights and what is not. If direct harm is being inflicted upon you or your property then you have the right to retaliation. Conclusive evidence has been provided saying second hand smoke causes health damage. Is it the place of the government to use coercion to prevent second hand smoke in public areas? If the population actually votes to remove smoking from public areas, because of health and lifestyle issues, I can not disagree with that. I do think lines do need to be drawn on where the government can and can not intervene. When it comes down to inflicting physical harm on others the choice is obvious, however, its not that easy. Many people feel that smoking is their right and should not be taken from them. It comes down the perspective of the citizen.

Being a non smoker it is easy for me to say that it is the right of the majority to ban smoking from designated areas. If second hand smoke really causes harm to individuals then from a liberty standpoint I can recommend this use of coercion.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Is socialism better? Some think so....

Recently, on May 4, 2007, I read an article titled Is socialism possible in the United States? By John Beacham on that talked about the possibly of the United States being a socialist country. While our country is moving more in that direction, I still believe we are a capitalist nation. Capitalism is blamed for things such as people not having health insurance, infant mortality, and poverty. It is believed that under a socialistic government society will be one of “true justice and peace, a society that works in the interest of the vast majority.” Private ownership is believed to be the root of all evil it seems.

This article really concerns me. It seems as though the author isn’t thinking rationally at all. He talks about workers having the power to decide their fate. However, from what I understand, socialism puts the power to decide everything in the hands of a few people, not workers. I think health care is the responsibility of those who work or have worked. People with disabilities of course would be taken care of by the government, but all others who work would be responsible for their health care. Free public health care would be a public good and be inefficient. Private ownership of property would increase the incentives of individuals to be productive, not diminish their desires to be productive. Individuals are more likely to work harder if they get to keep what they earned. I believe that workers are better able to decide their fate under capitalism by making choices about education, health care, places of employment, etc. Who wants the government to decide for you what is best for you? I know that I do not and I’m sure many people of the world agree. This isn’t saying that our country isn’t moving towards socialism, but more of that thinking socialism works better than capitalism is just nonsense.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Congestion Pricing

On April 22, 2007 the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, proposed a plan to charge $8 per day for cars to use the streets of the central business district of lower Manhattan. The policy is really nothing more than an increase to motoring taxes overall. This policy could help ease congestion in the area, but at what cost to the freedom of movement. Some opponents argue on the grounds of individual rights and that the government should not put financial barriers that restrict the freedom of movement.

This concern will likely fall on deaf ears, Bloomberg in the past has shown no concern for individual rights. He has already made New Yorkers live according to govenrment standards. He has previously passed bills prohibiting smoking and trans-fat. Both the smoking and trans-fat policies are based on a paternalisitic framework telling the citizens what is and what isnt good for them. The prohibitions are attrocious attacks on individual liberty, but yet they still were passed. So it should not be surprising if Bloomberg pays little to no attention to the impact that congestion pricing might have on the freedom of movement.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Political "Truth"?

I often read the editorial sections of our fine newspapers in the State of Colorado. In reading a recent editorial in the Denver Post it struck a nerve with me regarding the inefficiencies of the United States government. This article was directed at presidential candidate John Edwards response on funding for a universal health care plan. His blunt description of how this would be funded was through tax increases on the wealthy and corporations. These components of our economy are the ones that fuel growth spending in our country. Furthermore, the consumer will ultimately feel the pressure in the form of higher prices. This article stressed that this is a reduction in individual freedom through tax increases.

In my eyes the United States government spends to much for to little in return. I do believe in defense spending and police protection, yet much spending is wasteful and does not provide benefits to society as a whole. I agree with this that we need to define the real purpose of government as set forth in our constitution. This trim down will lead to less government spending and lower taxes for Americans. This in turn will provide individual liberties to the consumer.

Do I believe that tax increases for the rich is the only option to explore in establishing a universal healtcare system for the United States - NO. We need to lower government spending across the board and let free market conditions bear the weight of our economy. I do not agree with John Edwards plan, but his straight-talking approach said what people needed to hear. The Truth!

Creation of a New Constituion

It has been disussed in a recent lecture as to the validity and meaning of the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court of the United States presently has the ability to make final decisions regarding the enforcement of our Constitution. I feel this why we have the ability to amend the the Constitution as required. The fact is nine judges have the ability to manipulate and rule on the wording of our constitution does not give the document any enforceable right. All lawyers, judges and law professionals have their separate beliefs on how law is interpreted. They routinely research case laws, statutes and rulings to see how the law can be determined.

In the recent ruling (2005) by the Supreme Court on the Kelo Case, this took interpretation of "Public Use" to a new extreme. The wording of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution was not taken literally rather was "interpreted". I'm not on board that we should abolish or rewrite the United States Constitution. I would suggest that make the wording more concrete so that we do not get caught up in the interpretation of what is actually meant. It would not be very popular or wise to redraft a founding principle in the creation of the United States, yet it would be bested suite us to clarify the meaning so that decisions on our liberties are based on the true meaning.

Could Global Warming Regulations Become Even More Ridiculous?

During the past month, if you have a habit of watching Late Night TV, you may have noticed several jokes being made by comedians, such as Jay Leno, about comments the singer Sheryl Crowe has made on how people can combat Global Warming. The comment most often ridiculed by the comedians was Crowe's suggestion that the amount of toilet paper a person uses be limited to one square per visit. YahooNews, and several other sites, have also posted short articles talking about Crowe's bizare suggestions.

Now it's really hard to tell if this suggestion is really just a suggestion, or if Crowe actually thinks it's something the goverment should impose on us, but the possibility that she could be serious doesn't seem that far fetched, and that's a scary thought O_O. Of course the idea is laughably bad; how does she expect that the goverment could possibly enforce such a limitation, hire attendants to stand around in every public restroom in American and ration out toilet paper squares? Have mechanized toilet dispensers in the stalls? An enforcement of such a limitation for private citizens in their own homes would require an even bigger breach of freedom and privacy. Of course, the effect Crowe wants might be just as easily achieved by charging a toll for toilet paper in public restrooms (as I believe some other countries in the world actually do), but of course people like Crowe seem more comfortable lobbying goverment for it's coercive power, instead of relying on market forces.

And it;s pretty scary to me that this is just a continuation of such proposed resrictions as banning conventional lightbulbs in favor of the low power ones. Makes me wonder what strange proposals will be made next. The precedent that goverment has set to intervene in market operations seems to have opened up the possibility for us to slide into even more bizarre encroachments on our freedom. It's reassuring to see, at least for now, that Crowe's suggestions have been met with the eye-rolling comments they deserve from people in the media. I hope we won't reach a point one day when such a suggestion is really taken seriously.

A few of Crowe's other strange suggestions include designing disposable "diner sleeves" for people to wear on their clothes as a replacement for paper napkins (what does she expect these sleeves to be made out of? and I highly doubt wearable napkins would catch on with anyone who actually has manners. ^^) and creating a reality TV show where people would compete to see who lives the most "environmentally friendly" life, with a recording contract for the prize. (Does she think that living well with the environment really correlates with singing talent? What if someone like William Hung won? *shudder*) least those suggestions seem like they would be market determined, hopefully ^^.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hypocrisy and Animal Rights

Among child molestation and genocide stands animal abuse. Animal abuse has become such a repulsive practice that we now have entire TV shows dedicated to eradicating it and punishing these subhuman practitioners. However, even the smallest degree of coercive force used against animal abusers is even more vitriolic to liberty than the harshest of animal abuses. Animal 'rights' in America fails utterly when given the most cursory glance under a logical magnifying glass.

Today we enjoy meat from slaughtered animals on an almost on a tri-daily basis. Meat has become so ingrained into the American culture that grilling is also known as the great American pastime. The businesses engaged in slaughtering animals on a large scale are even traded on the stock market. If animals are more than property, as activists and much of the world is convinced how can we permit this widespread murder to occur? Many people will answer, “because we consume them to continue living” or other sundry arguments amounting to “fulfillment of needs.” Then animals don't have “rights” so much as they have privileges. We don't murder another to fulfill our needs; the other person has a right to their body and life. We allow animals to be killed to fulfill our needs, yet we don't allow animals to be abused to fulfill the bizarre needs of an individual. If these were rights and not privileges both of the above statements could not be contradictory because either animals have the right of their body or they don't. If they have the right to their body they cannot be slaughtered without consent; something I have never heard a chicken consenting to. Ergo, animal abusers are punished not because of their affront to a creature's rights but because their actions are deemed socially deviant.

Now sure, I admittedly find animal abuse repulsive and the direct loss to liberty from using force against animal abusers to be small. However, we should never direct our full attention to the immediate costs of an action; by allowing the state to punish an individual for his personal behavior because a large enough group of individuals deems it inappropriate, we set a precedent for further encouragements on liberty. We have not come to the point in time where the kid burning ants with a magnifying glass becomes the neighborhood Jeffrey Dahmer and we may never. However, by allowing even a modicum of animal rights hypocrisy to continue we legitimize the use of force by the state to satisfy the tastes of the majority.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Looking Back at Randy Barnett

I really couldn’t think of anything to write about so I just decided to read something from earlier in the semester and then write on that. When reading Randy E. Barnett’s, “The Moral Foundations of Modern Libertarianism,” and “A Law Professor’s Guide to Natural Law and Natural Rights,” I discovered many great ideas that Barnett argued that I agreed with. He gave his argument and then gave great support to explain to his audience why he believed certain things. One idea that he stated which I really agreed with is when he said, “Most people do not want to sacrifice their liberty to act even if such sacrifices would significantly benefit others” (Libertarianism 6). Even in today’s society this statement is still true. If I have something that I truly believe in or hold dear to my heart, then I would not give this up even if me giving this up would benefit many others. For example, if I have a piece of land that has been in my family for centuries and it means the world to me, I would not want to give this up even if it benefited others. If people wanted me to give up some of my land they that they could build an interstate to connect two major cities, I would do everything in my power to hold on to what is mine. It is my right as a citizen of this country to do with my property as I wish and if I did not want to sell my land then that’s just too bad for everyone else. This idea is important to me because it illustrates the right that we as American citizens should have.
In the essay, Barnett brings up a problem that is a part of every society. He states, “Given that the actions of each person in society are likely to have effects on others, on what conditions is it possible for persons to live and pursue happiness in society with other persons” (Libertarianism 11). When I read this problem, the first thing that comes to my mind is that there probably is no answer to totally answer this question. The reason I believe that “it possible for persons to live and pursue happiness in society with other persons” (Libertarianism 11), is because an individual needs other people to achieve happiness in a cooperative manner. For instance, if I am a business owner, and I see happiness as being well off financially then, I need people to purchase a good or service of mine in order to achieve my happiness. If I do not have others in society then I would never be able to pursue my happiness.
Another great point that Barnett makes is in his essay, “A Law Professor’s Guide to Natural Law and Natural Rights,” when he states that “Whether we attempt to feed ourselves, build bridges, or live a good life is a matter of choice. How we go about making our attempts and whether we succeed or fail will be constrained by natural law” (Natural 666). This is a great statement because when we make everyday decisions we have to take into account natural laws which no matter how bad we may want to, will never be able to change. A great example that Barnett uses is when he says that it might make someone happy to jump off a building, however that person needs to remember that gravity is a natural law and causes to person a fall fast, so if he/she wants to keep on living then he/she will not jump. “The existence of gravity and the nature of the human body lead to the following natural law injunction for human action: given that gravity will cause us to fall rapidly and that our bodies will not withstand the fall, if we want to live and be happy, then we better not jump of tall buildings” (Natural 657).
Barnett has many great ideas that he explains thoroughly in his essay. To be honest however, this was not one of my favorite readings so far in class. I enjoy reading essays where the author gets to his point quickly and then supports his theory with great facts and detail.

Delta Airlines Set to Try Business Again.

Delta Airlines left bankruptcy protection earlier this week. The company had been reorganizing for 19 and a half months. A bankruptcy judge in New York allowed the company to leave chapter eleven protection by closing a $2.5 billion dollar loan to pay back creditors. It will unleash a new marketing scheme which includes painting 900 airplanes and a new advertising campaign which will cost $10 million. Delta Airlines supposedly entered Chapter 11 protection due to high fuel and labor (including pensions) costs. Delta's bankruptcy has cost the company more than $127.9 Million in legal fees. Creditors will receive anywhere from 62- 78% of their claims in the soon to be reissued Delta stocks (all facts from attached Associated Press article).

Although the company may have genuine reasons for bankruptcy with gas and labor costs, I don't believe for a minute that the company should be able to return to business. Airline companies often seek Chapter 11 protection from the government to 'reorganize.' Protectionism is not the answer. Pilots' unions and other unions do have unfair monopsony control of labor costs in the airline industry. Fuel prices are subject to changes. But it simply seems more likely the case of a senile industry. Delta Airlines, as well as many other airlines, are offering their services at higher per unit costs (diseconomies of scale). Many of the causes of diseconomies of scale sound very plausible in this case. Top Heaviness: albeit there is reason for management and chief officers of companies to receive large salaries, it makes a company bear high costs in wages and stock options to a very limited set of workers. Inertia: there may also be a lack of willingness to change. Slow response and isolation of decision makers: information not communicated efficiently and is mainly held by too few workers.

Chapter 11 is of course the logical move for Delta Airlines. But not for the market, government or taxpayers. I believe large companies should either never be allowed to return to business after bankruptcy, or only get one shot at it. I don't think painting nearly a thousand planes will make much difference. Delta ought to sell off all/portions of its' fleet to other airlines (dissolve or get diminish). Or it could also increase stock options to all employees to create incentives for profitability. Information may not be efficiently communicated in their previous manner, allow for some spontaneity. As for the unions and high pensions, who the hell knows.