Archive for November, 2012

Tax the Rich?

Antony — November 15, 2012

As the US approaches the so-called “fiscal cliff”, there are increasing calls to raise taxes on “the rich” to help increase government revenue. Many of the wealthy themselves, such as Warren Buffett, are joining this call, seemingly putting the greater good before their self interest. But if we analyze the situation more closely, we see that their motives may not be so pure.

Are they proposing that the government seize the accumulated fortunes (or a portion thereof) of people like Buffett? No, the increased taxes will be on high incomes. In other words, people who are already wealthy will not necessarily pay more tax, but those who seek to become wealthy will. People such as young ambitious entrepreneurs, or growing family businesses.

The effect on society? Further economic empoverishment by discouraging wealth creation and innovation. The effect on the likes of Buffett? Another handy crutch, courtesy of his government buddies, to hobble any up-and-coming competitors, and entrench him at the top of the wealth heap.

This is just another example of the rich and powerful elites using political influence to secure their positions of wealth, all while the unwitting masses cheer them on.

What Happened To Subsidiarity Podcast?

Dave Killion — November 14, 2012

It’s been a little while since any of you has been able to enjoy a new episode of Subsidiarity Podcast, and I flatter myself that that absence has been disappointing to at least a few of our supporters. Well, the good news is that the podcast has been suspended (at least temporarily) because my co-host Ashley Johnston has taken the job of Executive Producer for the Ed and Ethan Show.

Self-described as The Voice of Liberty in Canada, the Ed and Ethan podcast is much further along in its development than is Subsidiarity Podcast, and it shows. The addition of Ashley has only made the program better. Make sure you subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode.

 

The Difference Between Us And Them

Dave Killion — November 13, 2012

 

The workings of the non-libertarian mind are forever shrouded in mystery. In a post entitled “Nation unsure how it feels about video of President Obama crying“, Boing Boing editor Xeni Jardin comments on the above video –

“Maybe I’m projecting, but I think he might be crying for all those innocent people in Pakistan who lost family members in the 300+ drone strikes he authorized during his first term as president. Or maybe the innocent not-terrorists who are detained at Guantánamo because our military held them as terrorists, but can’t manage to figure out how to set free now.”

And amen to that. Too bad Jardin didn’t stop there –

“Like many others, I am glad Obama won, and I agree that he seems more “human” than his opponent. “

Given that Mitt Romney has so far only expressed a desire to  slaughter and imprison innocent people, I am staggered that anyone would find him less “human” than a President who has actually done so. And having acknowledged that the President is a murderer and a kidnapper, what part of one’s own humanity must one be lacking to be “glad” he has won re-election? I suppose it is that part that separates libertarians from everyone else.

Anti-Gouging Laws Aren’t The Only Regulations That Make Disasters Worse

Dave Killion — November 12, 2012

As Antony wrote a few days ago, anti-gouging laws make disasters worse, not better , and since coastal British Columbia is destined to suffer a massive earthquake at some time, we should be concerned over this. The good news is that BC has, to the best of my knowledge, no anti-gouging laws, per se. How ever, the Emergency Program Act ’empowers’ the minister to do just about anything short of murder (if you think I exaggerate, please see this), including  –

“….fix prices for… food, clothing, fuel, equipment, medical supplies or other essential supplies and the use of any property, services, resources or equipment within any part of British Columbia for the duration of the state of emergency.” 

Given that every decision the Minister makes will be tempered by its likely effect in the voter’s booth at the next election, the popular appetite of an economically ignorant electorate for price controls during an emergency insures we will suffer long lines and shortages far in excess of what would otherwise be the case. Plan accordingly.

Sadder still, even if the government of the day is wise enough and in a secure enough position to do what’s right, rather than what’s expedient, there many other types of regulations which may serve to exacerbate difficulties. These include, but are not limited to –

1. Laws prohibiting out of district gas in the area.
2. Laws against selling gas direct from trucks.
3. Laws requiring meter inspections on fuel sales.
4. Laws requiring meter fume control.

Storing gas is a difficult proposition, but I’ve decided not to let any of my vehicles get below half empty (half full?), and I’ll keep a full 5-gallon container in my carport. In the face of disaster, both natural- and man-made, this is likely to prove both trivial and pathetic, but there is at least some comfort in doing something more than nothing.

 

Random Thought

Dave Killion — November 11, 2012

Chinese penicillin

I have a cold, and I don’t think “starve a cold, feed a fever” means you should go hungry when you have a cold, and eat when you have a fever. I think it means that if you don’t eat when you have a cold, you are increasing the chance you will become even more ill by weakening yourself. That is to say, if you starve a cold, then you feed a fever. So I’m going to go have a bowl of soup or something.

 

A Government Disaster

Antony — November 9, 2012

Hurricane Sandy has brought hardship to millions of people, and in its aftermath, many are arguing that large-scale disasters such as this illustrate the need for government intervention. But other than strutting around in front of cameras, what have government officials actually done? One of the most visible measures taken has been to combat “price gouging”, to protect the poor consumers from evil gasoline profiteers.

Like all interventions, however, the price controls have had unintended consequences. They have caused long lines and shortages. It seems that many people fail to realize the basic economic reality that price controls will always cause shortages. Economist Bob Murphy does a good job of describing the various ways in which the “anti gouging” laws are harmful:

In fact, the lesson of Hurricane Sandy should be the exact opposite of the pro-government position. Times of hardship and distress are exactly the times when free markets are most needed, and government intervention is most harmful. It is during these times when we most need the creativity of the free market to enable people to work together effectively, and when we can least afford the destructive impacts of government interventions.

Unmasking Government Stupidity

Dave Killion — November 8, 2012


If you don’t take that mask off, you’re gonna be in SO much trouble!

If you are attending a peaceful protest or demonstration in Canada, you might want to wear a mask or something, for the sake of anonymity and the benefits it brings. But if things turn violent, you better yank that thing off –

“While tens of thousands of children are putting the final touches on Halloween costumes and masks, the House of Commons has approved a bill banning people from hiding their faces during riots”….”The bill provides a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for anyone convicted of covering their face during a riot or other unlawful assembly.”

If someone is okay with smashing store windows, burning police cars, and stealing electronics, why would anyone think they would obey a no-mask-during-a-riot law? Fear of arrest? Even for political posturing, this is stupid. No, wait. I take it all back. The problem with this bill is that is doesn’t go far enough. Really, what should be required is a law against rioting without a permit. And anyone who applies for a permit will have to get fingerprinted. And pay a damage deposit.

For crying out loud.

Halloween Proves Bigger Than New Jersey Governor

Dave Killion — November 7, 2012

A costume suggestion for the Governor of New Jersey

On Monday, October 29th, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pulled a Grinch. That is, he behaved just like the Seuss character who thought he had the power and ability to stop Christmas from coming… Christie ordered that Halloween be postponed

“We believe that much time is necessary to ensure conditions are safe enough for towns to take part in them,” Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts wrote in an email. “Compliance with the order is a local matter, but it’s one we feel is necessary to ensure that Halloween celebrations happen in way that is enjoyable and safe for children.”

I guess Christie feels the local governments aren’t up to making any decisions about Halloween on their own, but they are smart enough to decide whether or not to obey his order to postpone Halloween. If anyone sees the logic in that, can you please explain it to me? –

“Phillipsburg Mayor Harry Wyant said…. “I don’t know why he’s getting involved in Halloween. I understand in certain areas of the state, but we postponed it last week and if we have to postpone it again it just won’t happen probably.”

Well, here’s a thought: parents love their children. If they think it’s safe for their rug rats to go out, so be it. Would things be a little uncoordinated? Maybe. I guess some homes in New Jersey would get Trick-or-Treaters dropping by for several nights in a row. Or maybe the schools would talk to the churches, and they would encourage everyone to celebrate on a certain evening. But whatever happens, I would prefer New Jerseyans demonstrate to Christie the lesson learned long ago by King Canute…. there are some things that are beyond his authority, and beyond his power.

As Goes Greece, So Goes The West?

Dave Killion — November 6, 2012

 

The Free To Choose Network pumps out a lot of good material, and this is no exception. Although moderately lengthy (57 min) it is well worth watching for its analysis of the circumstances which have given rise to the European financial crisis, the parallels to the U.S. economy, and the steps needed to not only end these crises, but promote future prosperity.

 

Most Club Members Would Elect Not To Vote

Dave Killion — November 5, 2012

The U.S. presidential election is upon us, and a few media organizations have been good enough to let us know how their staff intend to vote. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, you can get the gruesome details over at The American Conservative, Slate, and Reason. Inspired by these articles, I have taken it upon myself to ask my fellow Libertarian Book Club members to respond to the following –

If you were eligible to vote in the US presidential election, for whom would you vote?

Barack Obama
Mitt Romney
Gary Johnson
Other/Write In (Please specify)
Prefer Not to Say
Would Not Vote

The response was underwhelming, which I take as a revealed preference by most members for “Prefer Not to Say.” Of the 6 who did respond, 4 have declared they would not vote –

“I would not vote. The primary reason is that I think its a waste of time, since it makes no difference. I also think it harmful psychologically, and undignified”…. “On the other hand, if someone else feels like voting, I have no problem with it. I just choose not to myself.”

One respondent declared not only his preference, but his ACTUAL vote –

“I voted in the Colorado election, and I voted libertarian (Johnson) across the board. I truly believe Obama is the lesser of two evils, but not even the prospect of a Romney win in CO by one vote would stop me from voting for Johnson.”

And the last repondent?

“I would select my candidates, presidential and congressional, in such a manner as to contribute to the greatest likelihood of division of the branches between the parties, in the hopes of generating as much gridlock as possible. The less they can do the better.”

Who that might be was not made clear, but since I suspect Republicans will maintain or increase control of the House, and will strengthen their position in the Senate, I will chalk that up to a libertarian vote for Obama.

As for myself, I would have liked to say that I would vote for Johnson. However, the fact is that, as a U.S. citizen, I actually COULD have voted for Johnson, but I didn’t. It seems that going through the steps necessary to vote as a U.S. citizens living abroad was so tedious that I procrastinated myself right out of the election. What that says about me, I’m not sure, but I must confess that I don’t feel very good about myself.