Libertarian Ramblings

Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

The circularity of bailout money

Posted by gravisman on January 29, 2009

I want to take a slight detour from purely libertarian thought to talk about the (il)logic of government bailout dollars from a more objective economic perspective.

Let’s start with the general thought process that leads to thinking of government spending huge amounts of money to attempt to boost the economy despite already nearly drowning itself in debt. “People are suffering, and seem likely to continue to suffer, probably even more so than they are now. Therefore we must take drastic action in the form of dramatic dollar spending totals to help the people.” Reasonable, right? Well, there’s a problem there.

The reason that thought process makes sense on the surface is that it’s easy to think of the government and the people as separate entities. We can easily imagine an analogy like two neighbors where one neighbor experiences one hard time and the other does not, and the good neighbor reaches out to help the other. Okay, fine, but the analogy is inaccurate.

Government does not have a cent of its own money. Every dollar spent by the government comes out of the collective pocket of the people, one way or another. Taxes are one way, but as we’ve seen before, taxes aren’t the only way. When we start to think about this, the circularity of bailout logic quickly emerges. The people are in danger, so the government wants to spend money to help them, but the government gets its money……from the people.

Broken down, bailout theory claims that moving money from point A to point B, and back around to point A somehow makes things better. This is the economic and financial equivalent of a perpetual motion machine. Supposedly, each time around the cycle, value is not only maintained, but somehow increased – we’re making value (money) out of thin air simply by moving it back and forth between two points.

Unfortunately, perpetual motion doesn’t work. The only thing that can happen in this scenario is that some value is bled off as we go around the circle. Some is lost through waste, some is lost as benefits to people outside the country, and certainly other means I’m not thinking of. We’re not going to create wealth simply by moving money around the circle.

There is only one way we can claim to derive benefit from this circle route. That is to claim that the real effect of the maneuver is redistribution of wealth, since we’re taking money from everyone and giving it to whom we see fit. I can attack that easily on two fronts. Firstly, as we can all easily see, money is going to huge banks and corporations, so if there is a redistribution of wealth, the benefactors are clearly not the little people – they are those who already had money to lose when this crisis occurred. Secondly, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to tell me that redistribution of wealth is ethically okay.

“Yeah, we’ve decided that some people deserve to have money taken from them, and others deserve to have it given to them without having earned it. Really, we’re just socialists, but we don’t like to talk about that.”

Okay, so I turned a little libertarian at the end there, but the main point is clear. There is a blatant circularity to bailout theory, and it cannot be a net positive on the people in the long run.

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Resisting arrest

Posted by gravisman on December 19, 2008

For a few years now I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of resisting arrest as a crime. On a regular basis I find myself coming across stories of individuals who are wrongly attacked by police officers, and despite being cleared of any wrong doing prior to the attack, are still charged with resisting arrest. Since this is a felony, people can do jail time and have their lives severely thrown off track by something clearly caused by police error.

While many stories of this nature have come across my desk, the one that gets me thinking today this one. It’s beyond me that anyone could find it logical to call resisting a kidnapping at the hands of men who do not identify themselves a crime. That’s exactly what Galveston police are doing, though, charging a girl with resisting arrest for fighting back against unmarked police officers who jumped out of a van at her.

I would actually consider this a mild case, and one where the girl will probably get off. There are many more horrific stories. Another that comes to mind is this one where people are arrested seemingly because they resisted arrest (don’t ask me to explain that) and because they attempted to run away from a situation.

I see two problems in logic here. First, every person has the right to defend his or her self against unwarranted aggression. Second, we all have the right to flee a threatening situation.

Consider the following situation: you walk down the sidewalk and men jump out of a car and tackle a man walking near you. Scared for what might happen, you start running. Upon seeing you run, the men start chasing you. You throw things back at them as you run, and flail at them when they finally catch you and tackle you. You soon discover they are police officers. It doesn’t take long before everyone figures out that you were not at all involved with the man the police wanted – you are innocent. Good to go, right? Wrong. You will still be charged with resisting arrest. The only reason you were ever arrested in the first place is because you were scared and ran.

I propose two legislative changes to rebalance the power of the people and restore basic liberty. The first is to mandate that simply running or attempting to flee an area should not be considered probable cause for an arrest. The second is that resisting arrest should not punishable unless a suspect is convicted of another crime. That is, if you were falsely arrested in the first place, you cannot be charged with resisting arrest. We can still have our go at the real criminals who are rightly arrested – we just don’t need to be ruining the lives of people who are proven innocent.

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Taxes aren’t the issue

Posted by gravisman on November 24, 2008

NBC on Obama-nomics

In the above link, NBC talks about Obama’s plans to revive the economy, and most of the article focuses on taxes. What taxes may or may not be increased or decreased and when. The reality that the American people need to realize is that traditional taxes are essentially a red herring when it comes to government economic management.

So, here’s the big secret, if you haven’t heard it yet: the government doesn’t need to collect taxes to finance its expenses! The reality is that the government can fund every expense it wants through inflation. That is, it prints money via the Fed. If the government needs money to pay for something, it has the power to create that money. This is already widely practiced today.

The problem is that every time the government creates new money, it makes every other dollar in existence worth a little less. It’s exactly as though someone started printing Mickey Mantle rookie cards. There worth a lot now, but as soon as everyone has them, they’re not worth much. 

Because of this we can essentially classify inflation as a tax. What makes it really bad is that inflation affects every single person without mercy, because it devalues all our money, rich and poor alike. Even Fed Chairman Bernanke agrees that inflation is a tax.

So, the bottom line is that traditional taxes are really not the issue, and they distract people from what is the real issue: spending. No matter what the government does with taxes, they will find a way to finance their expenses. Lowering taxes just makes people feel better. We keep them at a high enough rate that people believe the distraction that they really are what’s important. Unless the government wishes to sink further into debt and inflate the dollar even more, there’s only one response: cut spending.

UPDATE: So, I just came across page 142 of Ron Paul’s book, The Revolution, where he explains inflation by comparing it to Mickey Mantle baseball cards. I can assure you that I wrote this post before reading Ron Paul’s words, so hopefully nobody accuses me of plagiarism. In any case, all respect for Dr. Paul.

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Why Obama doesn’t get it

Posted by gravisman on November 6, 2008

Change.gov – Civil Rights

The above page details the Obama administration’s attitudes toward, and plans for, dealing with civil rights. There are two fundamental problems in thinking that pop out at me when I read it. First, when talking about “the problem” they don’t really address civil rights. Second, when talking about “the plan” they quickly show that they think civil rights can be achieved by force, which is exactly the opposite of the right idea.

The page points out four current problems relating to civil rights.

1. Average pay inequity relating white men to women and racial minorities.

2. Hate crimes

3. Vote suppression against minorities

4. Criminal justice inequities

The first three are simply not civil rights. You don’t have the right to get paid any certain amount, and you certainly don’t have the right to get paid an amount simply because someone else does. Every person’s pay is determined on the employment market by factors of supply and demand as well as their personal ability to market themselves and negotiate. Anyone who accepts a job for a given wage has done so under his or her own free will. If he or she believes his or her self to be undervalued, the option is always there to seek alternate employment, or stake out an independent means of survival.

As for hate crimes, this is a fine line. Crime is a problem. From the perspective of pure civil rights, the motive of crime is irrelevant. To single out hate crimes as a civil rights issue is to miss the point of non-aggression. 

Vote suppression is sad and unfortunate, but it’s also a part of the political game. Yes, physical threats of intimidation are bad, but efforts to mislead or discourage voting (as long as they come from non-government entities) are not a violation of civil liberties. Just as much as you have the right to vote, I have the right to try to convince you not to vote. This is almost exactly the same scenario as is played out between a criminal suspect and police. Just as much as the suspect has the right to remain silent, the police have every right to attempt to convince him or her to talk. Giving up his or her rights is the responsibility of the individual.

The final problem noted is the only one that counts as a real civil rights issue, and the reason is because it deals with a direct relation between citizens and the government. What Obama seems to fail to realize is that the entire premise of civil rights is to protect people from government. Civil rights are not about protecting people from people. Yes, the government exists to protect people from being violent toward each other and stealing each other’s property, but it’s not meant to be an arbiter of every human transaction. Since judicial inequities and racial profiling is about government treating different people differently, this is something that must be stopped and people’s civil rights are on the line. The right in question is equal protection under the law, which every citizen should expect.

One out of four is not impressive. I call that luck.

Perhaps even more alarming than Obama’s obvious failure to recognize the very nature of civil rights is his completely wrong attitude toward protecting them. If we read down the page to see the plan for improving things, the theme quickly becomes clear: let’s pass more laws. Laws do not expand rights. Laws contract rights. That is their nature (there are, of course exceptions, but this is a fairly reliable generalization). The way to expand civil liberties to repeal laws and policies that restrict them. It is insanity to go around setting more rules and expect that people will be more free with all the rules you’ve placed on them.

Some people just don’t get it….

Let us not forget what real change is.

UPDATE: The link supplied above is now broken, and the page that has replaced it has been largely overhauled. You can read the new page here.

Posted in Links, philosophy, Politics, Rants | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Let’s keep marriage the way it’s supposed to be

Posted by gravisman on November 5, 2008

Marriage, in it’s most classical sense, is the joining together of a well-to-do man and a lovely young woman. Man has money, girl has beauty, and a transaction is made. The man gets exclusive rights to a fertile vagina, and the woman is taken care of and financially secured.

What’s blasphemous today is all these beautiful young women marrying men with no money. This has got to be stopped. The ideal couple is, and always will be, a 20 year old full chested young girl to a 60 year old white man. We don’t want our nation’s children being raised by poor people, do we?

We, the people of the State of California, have spoken by passing Proposition 8 and defining marriage to be between a man and a woman. This is a great step toward maintaining its sanctity and denying rights to those who have no business claiming them. Now it’s time to take the next logical step and allow marriages of only 18-25 year old girls to white men 60 and older with 6 figure net worths. Only by denying rights to all the “new age” hippies can we achieve a truly moral society.

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Getting it right

Posted by gravisman on October 12, 2008

“They should FIRE Bernanke and Paulson, and have people like Peter [Schiff] on the helm of US economy.”

The above is a response I read to this video of Peter Schiff dispensing his usual free market based economic wisodom. I felt this worth a comment because it’s important to not simply recognize who is speaking with logic, but to get the whole picture right.

What’s wrong with that quote is the idea that someone should be “at the the helm of the US economy.” The logic that makes Peter Schiff’s words ring so true is based on markets doing what markets do: setting prices and exchanging goods based on supply and demand. The idea of free market by definition shuns leadership (dictatorship) by some individual or set of individuals.

So, while I see little wrong with firing Bernanke and Paulson, let’s remember to get it right – we don’t need Bernanke, Paulson, Peter Schiff, or anyone running the economy – markets and the players in those markets can handle themselves.

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A bailout would be unethical

Posted by gravisman on September 28, 2008

I’ve already posted on the logic of why a federal bailout of wall street firms is a terrible idea economically. That should seem obvious to anyone. Government management of economic matters only ever does one thing: artificially affects prices. Printing money inflates the system artificially and drives up prices of everything. Using the Fed to set low interest rates artificially drives down the price of money (more precisely, the price of debt). Purchasing insolvent “illiquid” assets drives up the prices on those assets in the sense that it keeps them from falling down to a level where the market would actually be interested in purchasing.

Artificial pressures on prices are unfair and unethical to the players in the economic system. They always result in bad investment, because goods are being traded for something other than a real market value. An accumulation of bad investment always ultimately results in an economic bubble that must burst to correct itself. That is the nature of economic systems – people must pay the price for poor investment.

Just as much as the initial government pressures that influenced and supported poor investment were unfair to the market, so too is the action of propping up that failed system with an artificial bailout. This prevents the market from draining the bubble, as needs to happen, and course-correcting so that prices and investments can return to a sound state.

In addition to all this economic logic, there is one overriding reason why bailing out ailing investment firms with federal money is completely and entirely unethical, and it has nothing to do with whether doing so will fail or succeed. The simple fact is that the mob (some people call it government) has no right to decide that it needs $3000 dollars of my money (probably more than that, but a rough estimate based on the taxes I pay and the budget for the bailout) to help some private companies that have nothing to do with me, and do this without my consent.

If the bailout plan passes congress and I attempt to withhold $3000 of my tax money, men with guns will certainly come for me and throw me in prison. That is insane! Our people must wake up and recognize that there is an ethical element to government and how it spends its money and how it takes money from the people that cannot simply be ignored. Just because we have the infrastructure in place to take money from citizens whenever we want and spend it on whatever we want does not make it right.

Government should be allowed to collect some taxes and spend them on courts, transportation, non-aggressive defense, and other matters of reasonable infrastructure. The mob cannot take my money just because it paternalistically thinks it knows how to spend it to help me better than I can spend it to help myself. That is truly insanity.

Posted in libertarian, philosophy, Politics, Rants | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

What Iran crisis?

Posted by gravisman on September 1, 2008

If citizens of the United States have the right to keep and bear arms, why should the member states of the world not have the right to keep a military? Nobody spends more on their military forces than the United States, and somehow we like to act as though it’s wrong for someone like Iran to develop strength as well. The idea of nuclear non-proliferation is as insanely unfair as saying that anyone who hasn’t yet gotten broadband internet should never be allowed to have it. Nothing like setting the rules expressly against those who are already behind.

I titled this post after reading an article that asked the question of how the US should deal with the “Iran crisis.” The thought of Iran as somehow posing a crisis situation for our country belies a disturbing reality existing in the political thinking of the United States. How can we view a nation as presenting to us a crisis when they have done nothing to either us or anyone else, and they have not threatened to take any aggressive action toward us or anyone else.

Our invasion of Iraq was unfounded enough, but at least they had something to be framed as a history of aggression, even if that history was more than a decade old when we decided we must destroy them.

The way we treat other countries both reflects our current attitudes toward individual rights and inevitably shapes the evolution of those attitudes into the future. If we view Iran as a problem when they have not even done anything to hurt any other country, then what stops us from passing more and more laws to criminalize people haven’t hurt anyone else? The war on drugs has seen enough innocent people just trying to live their own lives put behind bars. If we continue down this path, we are sure to see more of the same.

My question remains, in the end, what Iran crisis?

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Free people get to have fun

Posted by gravisman on July 2, 2008

The above video is a bit of hilarity from the very talented ventriliquist Jeff Dunham. The next bit is a collection of responses to the video posted by MobLogic.

“Most of the people who watch these videos are racist.” What?! My message to anyone who finds racism in this video, or any joking of this nature: you are the ones giving legitimacy to any ideas of real difference, and thereby promoting racism – not the rest of us who are just having fun.

One of the great concepts of slander is that in order for something to be truly slanderous, it must be considered believable by a normal person. If someone posts a video joking that Libertarian Ramblings can’t even write a complete sentence, it can be easily left as simply a joke because it’s so obviously untrue. If I fight back on behalf of my blog and cry foul, it can only be from the perspective that it’s possibly true, and thus hurtful. Thus, it’s not the joke that brings bad light on LR, but the cry of foul play that suddenly brings people’s attention to the thought that maybe LR really does suck.

Additionally, embracing difference is generally considered to be a part of anti-racism, anti-sexism, etc. Embracing difference means we don’t avoid ever making mention of differences or potential differences – we don’t ignore them. Embracing difference means acknowledging that it’s ok to have differences, and so differences becomes a thing of smiling and laughter, not a thing of hate, as some pretend they must be. These people push what I call “tolerance by ignorance” – make everyone appear to be exactly the same and ignore all differences. If we can’t actually handle differences, then what the hell is the point?

The fact is, if we’re a free people, we can be free to embrace our idiosyncratic differences – even those that are associated with identifiable groups of people. More than that, we can be free to have fun with those differences; to make jokes and to laugh. What is freedom worth without laughter anyway?

Posted in Rants, Videos | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The government’s most blatant act of slavery

Posted by gravisman on July 1, 2008

I was reading this argument against the Supreme Court’s recent decision on D.C.’s handgun ban when I felt it necessary to comment on one of the laws I’ve always found most perplexing: it’s illegal to commit suicide. WTF? 

If I own a television set, I’m perfectly within my rights to break it. If I own my refrigerator I’m perfectly within my rights to unplug it. If I own a pig I’m perfectly within my rights to kill it. If I own my own life I’m perfectly within my rights to break it, to unplug it, or to kill it, right? The answer is, unequivacably, YES. The problem is, the government has never been of the belief that you own your own life!

You are a citizen, and as such the government views you as a piece of its property – a pawn in its games, both international and domestic, for power. You may notice that it can be perfectly legal for the government to kill you in different scenarios, whether at the hand of police or the courts. Since the government thinks it owns your life, that seems perfectly reasonable. Any attempt to end your life by anyone other than the government – including yourself – is seen as an attempt to steal the government’s property, and thus it intervenes with its legal forces.

The idea of the government claiming ownership over people’s lives in this manner is horrendous, especially when viewed with the realization that we are born into this country and this government without ever having a choice about it. We could not be given a chance to consent to a life of citizenry and governance before we are thrust into this life, and yet even after the choice is made for us and we are capable of choosing for ourselves, the option of revoking consent is deemed illegal.

It is clear what is going on. We are slaves to the government toward the end of continued economic production, military power, and physical reproduction so that the government maintains a steady supply of slaves. Couple this with the illegality of vagrancy and we see the full circle: it’s illegal to leave life, and it’s illegal to do nothing with it. In this way the government drives its slaves toward continued achievement of its ends.

Posted in philosophy, Rants | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »