Friday, July 21, 2006

The Separation of Science and State

The Partial Observer - The Separation of Science and State by James Leroy Wilson

One of my favorite evening programs is the Daily Show. Tonight on the show, John Stewart mocked Bush’s veto of federal funding for stem cell research. As usual, the show made some very good points through clever editing. However, it became very clear that neither President Bush nor John Stewart really understand the true issue. As always, James Leroy Wilson nails it in his weekly column for the Partial Observer, but I wanted to stress a few points.

First, I understand why supporters of stem cell research believe in the technology and most have good intentions. However, many people in the United States have sincere moral concerns about stem cell research. Whether you agree with their concerns or not, you need to recognize their concerns as legitimate and respect their right to believe the way they do. It is simply immoral to force people to pay for something they think is morally wrong. Democrats and Liberals love to preach tolerance, but federal funding for stem cell research is an egregious example of intolerance.

Second, pharmaceutical companies are among the Democrats favorite political targets. Whenever Liberal politicians want to get some attention, they rail on how pharmaceutical companies are driving up healthcare costs. If the government funds stem cell research, who do you think will get the money? The answer is those “evil” pharmaceutical companies. In addition, when government spends money, the money does not go to the best and the brightest, but to “friends of the program.” In other words, instead of investing money in companies with the best R&D capabilities, government gives money to companies with the best lobbyist.

Third, if you believe so strongly in stem cell research, open up your wallet and contribute YOUR own money. Stop forcing other people to pay for YOUR priorities.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Corporate Police State

Corporate Police State | No gods, no masters

I found this link at "Freedom Is Free", needless to say it is terrifying.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fascism, Islam, and Immigration

Independent Country: Fascism, Islam, and Immigration by James Leroy Wilson

The following is a comment I left at James Leroy Wilson’s Independent Country. Click the above link to see the original post. Hopefully, this is the first of many posts in the near future.

While I agree with your distinction between fascism and intolerance, I have a few counterpoints to your argument.

It occurs to me that beefing up coastal and boarder security could keep us in the country as well as keep others out. Consider if the scenario you described above occurs, in which the President declares marshal law, suspends habeas corpus and ignores the Posse Comitatus Act. Many Americans would just go about their business as if nothing happened; some would fight the regime, while others refusing to live under such conditions would try to leave. However, upon arriving at the border, those who chose to flee would find an electric fence and other beefed up security measures preventing them from leaving. The State already has control of most of the guns; do we want to give it more control over the exits?

Without freedom of movement, government gains more leverage. Tyrannical governments understand this better than anyone does. For example, the USSR severely restricted immigration, because the Soviet elites knew that if their productive citizens left the country, the system would fall apart. Government elites need productive citizens to subsidize their power, without subjects the State is nothing.

Regarding Thomas Fleming’s question, whether it would be good for the country to import 500 million Martians with IQ of 150 and terrific work habits, the answer is it does not matter. If these Martians exist and Americans are incapable of matching them, the Martians will supplant American industry and workers regardless of where they live. Americans earn higher wages only by providing more value. If they cannot provide more value, companies will find less expensive labor either in the US or in other countries. Attempts to slow this process lead directly to subsidies, high tariffs and other protective policies (closed borders qualify as a protective policy).

Why are naturalized devote Muslims such a threat, but American born devote Muslims are not? Why do American-born Muslims not face the same issue? Can a truly devout Christian accept “the Constitution of the United States as the source of his highest loyalty?”

I agree that the US is not responsible for people in other countries and that the US should not try to save the world. However, borders are merely artificial boundaries of civic jurisdiction. People on the other side of the border are no more or less trustworthy than people on this side. Closing or regulating our borders inevitably infringes on the liberties of Americans by curtailing our freedom of movement and association. In my case, when I wanted to marry a woman from another country, I had to ask permission from the US government. Mine is only a small (albeit demeaning) example of the restrictions to liberty brought on by regulating borders.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Libertarian Joke A Libertarian Joke

Via Radley Balko at The Agitator:

Sent by Jay Aldrich:
Three guys are in a jail cell. They start to talking and find out that they're all gas station owners.

The first one says, "I set my prices at a couple of cents higher than my competitors. I'm in here for price-gouging."

The second one says "I set my prices at a couple of cents lower than my competitors. I'm in here for predatory practices."

The third one says "I set my prices at the same price as my competitors. I'm in here for collusion!"

It's funny 'cause it's true.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Wal-Mart Warms to the State

Wal-Mart Warms to the State by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr- Mises Institute
H. Lee Scott, Jr., the CEO of Wal-Mart, surprised many by calling for an increase in the minimum wage. And what accolades were heaped on him! The company was even cast in a new role, from the exploiter of workers to the responsible advocate of pro-worker policies.

And how selfless, for who has to pay such higher wages but companies like Wal-Mart? And thus do we see a corporation set aside its business interests on behalf of the long-term interests of society.

The whole thing befuddled Wal-Mart haters as much as it disgusted its free-market defenders.

Ted Kennedy wouldn't go so far as to praise the company, but he did say that "If the CEO of Walmart can call for an increase in the minimum wage, the Republicans should follow suit on behalf of the millions of working men and women living in poverty."

Other lefties just wouldn't believe it. The spokesman for Wal-Mart Watch said that Scott's call for a higher wage floor was "disingenuous and laughable."

And yet, let us think this through. Might there be another reason Wal-Mart would advocate a higher minimum wage?

Before looking at the evidence, let's do some a priori theorizing based on the history of US corporate regulation. Historians such as Robert Higgs, Butler Shaffer, Dominick Armentano, and Gabriel Kolko have chronicled how the rise of business regulation, including intervention in market wages, was pushed by large companies for one main reason: to impose higher costs on smaller competitors.

This is how child labor legislation, mandated pensions, labor union impositions, health and safety regulations, and the entire panoply of business regimentation came about. It was pushed by big businesses that had already absorbed the costs of these practices into their profit margins so as to burden smaller businesses that did not have these practices. Regulation is thus a violent method of competition.

Think of it this way. Let's say you run a retail coffee shop that sells only "fair trade" coffee, which is expensive to acquire, but for which consumers are willing to pay a high price. All is going swimmingly until a competitor shows up and sells unfair coffee that tastes just as good for half the price.

Let's say consumers begin to change their minds about the merit of your "fair trade" coffee and your profits fall. You must make a change to survive. You can compete by offering a wider range of choice. Or you can lobby the local government in the name of "social responsibility" (oh, such high ideals!) to require that all coffee sold in your town be "fair trade."

Who does that benefit? Your company. Who does it hurt? Their company...

Now here is the great irony. The left has long been in a total frenzy about how Wal-Mart saunters into small towns and outcompetes long-established local retailers. Wal-Mart's opponents have whipped themselves into a frenzy about the company's success, claiming that it always comes at a huge social cost.

Now, most of this rhetoric is overblown and ignorant. Wal-Mart would not have made any profits or grown as it has without having convinced the consuming public to purchase from the store. Consumers could put the company out of business tomorrow, just by failing to show up to buy.

The left's claims of unfair practices would be valid if Wal-Mart did indeed work to impose legal disabilities on its competitors — in effect making it illegal to outcompete the company. And yet that is precisely what raising the minimum wage would do: impose a legal disability on those companies engaged in lower-wage competition with Wal-Mart. So the economically ignorant left advocates raising the minimum wage.

Thus has our CEO friend Mr. Scott discovered a viciously devious tactic. He sees a way to drive out the competition by doing precisely what Wal-Mart's biggest critics are advocating! And what will be the result? Wal-Mart's share of the market will go up, and its degree of cartelization over the mass consumer market will increase, not by market means but through government intervention. Then we can expect the left to once again fly into another hysteria about the size and growth of the company — totally oblivious to how they worked to bring it about.

Free-market advocates who have long defended Wal-Mart can only be disgusted at this shift in the company's methods from competing on market grounds to calling for the state to crush its competition. Even more disgusting is how the company can count on the economic ignorance of its critics to help do it.

The minimum wage should not be raised but abolished. If free competition and a non-monopolized market are what you favor, you too should favor abolishing the minimum wage. In a purely free market, Wal-Mart would discover that there are indeed limits to growth, and that others are willing and able to learn from its successes.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Big Lies and Little Lies

Big Lies and Little Lies by Ron Paul
Before the US House of Representatives, November 2, 2005

Scooter Libby has been indicted for lying. Many suspect Libby, and perhaps others, deliberately outed Joe Wilson’s wife as a covert CIA agent. This was done to punish and discredit Wilson for bringing attention to the false information regarding Iraq’s supposed efforts to build a nuclear weapon – information made public in President Bush’s State of the Union message in January 2003. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was chosen to determine if this revelation regarding Valerie Plame, Wilson’s wife, violated the Intelligence Identification Protection Act. The actual indictment of Libby did not claim such a violation occurred. Instead, he has been charged with lying and participating in a cover-up during the two-year investigation. I believe this is a serious matter that should not be ignored, but it is not an earth-shattering event.

This case, like almost everything in Washington, has been driven by politics – not truth, justice, or the Constitution. It’s about seeking political power, pure and simple, not unlike the impeachment process during the last administration.

There are much more serious charges of lying and cover-ups that deserve congressional attention. The country now knows the decision to go to war in Iraq was based on information that was not factual. Congress and the people of this country were misled. Because of this, more than 2,000 U. S. troops and many innocent people have died. Tens of thousands have been severely wounded, their lives forever changed if not totally ruined.

The lies Scooter Libby may or may not have told deserve a thorough investigation. But in the scheme of things, the indictment about questions regarding the release of Valerie Plame’s name, a political dirty trick, is minor compared to the disinformation about weapons of mass destruction and other events that propelled us into an unnecessary war. Its costs – in life, suffering, and money – have proven to be prohibitive.

The Libby indictment, unless it opens the door to more profound questions concerning why we went to war, may serve only as a distraction from much more serious events and lies.

The decision to go to war is profound. It behooves Congress to ask more questions and investigate exactly how the President, Congress, and the people were misled into believing that invading Iraq was necessary for our national security.

Why do we still not know who forged the documents claiming Saddam Hussein was about to buy uranium from Niger?

Was this information concocted by those who were overly eager to go to war?

Why was CIA reluctance regarding this assessment ignored, allowing it to be presented by the President as a clincher for our need to go to war?

Other reasons used to justify the war deserve equal attention, since the results have been so painful for our country.

If lies were told to justify the invasion of Iraq, the American people deserve to know the truth. Congress has a responsibility to seek this truth and change our policies accordingly. The sooner this is done the better.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Democrats--Not for Free Speech Anymore!