Archive for the ‘economic freedom’ Category

Express Yourself, New York

September 10, 2012 2 comments

Conventional wisdom says a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote.  The Free Agent posits that in New York this November, the only way your vote will count is if it’s cast for a third party candidate.

The Free Agent probably shouldn’t say this, spokesmodel that she is for the Manhattan Libertarian Party, but this November, New York will cast its 29 electoral votes for Mister Obama.  The city of New York in particular absolutely adores him.  Gothamites will pay forty thousand dollars just to watch the man chew groceries.  The poor, immigrants, lower middle class, middle middle class, young people, old people, they not only love Mister Obama, but they are thoroughly conditioned to believe they are incapable of renting an apartment, seeing a doctor, or selecting a beverage without a politician’s guidance and a lawyer’s business card.  Mister Obama will carry New York.  If you vote for him, your vote is wasted.

If you don’t want Mister Obama to renew his lease on the Executive Mansion, you might be tempted to vote Republican, but a vote for Mister Romney says nothing.  Are you demanding X% or X+10% growth in the defense budget?  If you favor the repeal of Pee-Pee Ca-Ca, with no replacement, Mister Romney has promised he will replace it, presumably with the not-uncoincidentally named Romneycare.   Do you want an end to federal attacks on legal marijuana producers?  Would you have the USA Patriot Act repealed?  Would you like to see business and state as separate as church and same?  Your vote for Mister Romney communicates none of that.  Your vote is wasted.

The Free Agent suggests New Yorkers choose one of two candidates whose votes will actually communicate your desires (if anyone bothers to count votes in New York, which they don’t always do).  A vote for Socialist Party USA’s Stewart Alexander loudly proclaims Mister Obama has not been aggressive enough in demolishing the constitutional limits to federal power, while a vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson  says you want the federal leviathan poked back into its constitutional cage.

You know The Free Agent will urge you to vote for Governor Gary Johnson, a candidate she has supported both with her limited resources and her shoe leather.  A vote for Mister Johnson could not be more unequivocal—your vote says you demand an immediate end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (or did every single soldier return home by last Christmas as the current Commander-in-Chief promised?) as well as the devastating war the US has been fighting against its own citizens dubbed by Richard Nixon, the ‘War on Drugs’.   Your vote will acknowledge that a third of the federal budget must be cut, and accept that many lives will be disrupted, but that living on borrowed money is passing unearned consumption of today onto non-consenting taxpayers of the future.  Voting for Mister Johnson communicates that you jealously defend your rights and the rights of others, and want the natural consequence of those rights—peace and prosperity.

Still, The Free Agent would rather you vote for the Socialist than either of the major party candidates.  If what you want to say is that all humans are part of one collective, that we should all reap the same rewards regardless of our ability to pay for them, if you favor “putting workers and consumers in control of the economy” and—to be fair—repealing the USA Patriot Act—if you consider Mister Obama a traitor to the march of history for failing to create a political health-care monopoly, say it with a vote for Mister Alexander.

Can’t bring yourself to vote for either a Libertarian or a Socialist?  You still don’t have to vote for a Republicrat.  Tick or write in ‘None of the Above’, and your silence will speak volumes.


The Roads

March 28, 2012 1 comment

I, Roads

But, who would take care of the roads! Or the airports! Or the [insert state-monopolized capital asset here]! And that’s where someone asks you a question that is impossible to answer. The Statist Roads Argument (SRA) rears its silly head.

If someone asks you how a pencil is made, I’ve come to realize you should simply say, “I see what you’re trying to do here. You’re not going to trick me.” Why? Because no one knows how a pencil is made. The point of Leonard Read’s classic “I, Pencil” is that no one person alone has the knowledge required to describe how something as simple as a pencil is made from start to finish.

The more nuanced point is this: even though no one person can tell you how a pencil is made, pencils are made. Thus, we can conclude that the existence of pencils doesn’t depend on any one person knowing how to produce pencils. Instead, it depends on a complex network of economic activity that results in a pencil.

The same is obviously true of any provision of roads without state monopolization. The how and who would take care of the roads is the same as the how and who would take care of pencils: a complex network of economic activity that results in roads.

Burden of Proof

At this point I think it’s obvious that the burden of proof is on the naysayer to show how something as ubiquitous as automobile transportation would fail despite giving people the freedom to create the complex network of economic activity that results in roads. I can give a few reasons to suspect it would not fail.

In the first place, there’s a high demand for roads. People want them. A lot. However, not every road is equal. So the upkeep for a road without government supervision would depend on how likely the road is to be used, and therefore incur maintenance costs. That is to say, if a road is valuable enough to the people that use it, they will pay for it.

This begs the question, “Can all the users coordinate in order to maintain the road?”

The typical Statist answer to this question is, “Only through government.”

Which brings me to my second point: entrepreneurs exist.

The answer on a free market is, “Yes, and that responsibility falls to the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur coordinates goods such that a specific good or service is provided by coordinating users’ demand in the form of revenue, and perpetuating the provision of said good or service using profit margin analysis. If the entrepreneur fails, he loses money. If he succeeds, he benefits by profiting, and the provision of the good continues.”

Let My People Drive!

A third reason for thinking roads would thrive is that roads are capital assets with predictable fixed costs. The marginal cost of letting another driver on the road is minimal. So the obvious solution to maximizing profit is to have as many drivers on the road as possible. It is in the interest of a road entrepreneur to allow as many people as possible on any particular toll road, excepting dangerous drivers. Variable costs are definitely the products of accidents on the fixed capital assets known as roads. Your GPS will send you to an alternate route. And there goes the day’s take.

A fourth reason is that roads are essentially nothing more than long pieces of rock. I mean, really? Roads!? The market makes fake body parts for crying out loud. Complex molecules are created by private firms in order to coordinate biological activity inside a human being and you’re worried about long pieces of rocks and metal? Shame on you.

Less Talky, More Experimenty

The real farce about the SRA is that the Statist position is merely a hypothesis, but Statists refuse to make any experiment to test it, and accept it as an already established fact.

The real test of the matter isn’t how well a Libertarian can answer an unanswerable question. It would rather be to let Libertarians have their day and let the test be made. It’s unscientific to hypothesize, “The private ownership experiment concerning roads will fail,” and then not undertake the experiment to confirm or deny this hypothesis. It’s rhetoric, plain and simple. That’s all it is.

What Statists are doing when they posit the SRA is confirming a hypothesis out of hand. So I think no matter what I write here today, it’s all beside the point if Statists are going to write off private ownership of roads by entrepreneurs based on unscientific analysis.

Until the experiment is made that confirms or denies roads can be handled by private parties, the suggestion that the same is a fact is nothing more than rhetoric.

And even without the experiment, we know at least one thing for sure: taking from one person to pay for another’s road is just as bad as taking from one person to pay for another’s car. What others posit as “public” goods are really goods enjoyed by private parties, but whose costs have been socialized by force by a bureaucracy that has exhibited an agency problem involving lack of cost control, roads being in a state of disrepair (I live in New Jersey, it’s like a virus), and the creation of artificial barriers to entry for alternative means of transportation.

The answer.

You can’t really assume that any specific ownership type or maintenance process for roads would prevail in the market due to its dynamic nature. It might be the case that some roads would be owned and cared for directly by the people who have property on the road. In other cases, people on the same street all get together and hire a road maintenance company that receives regular fees and fixes potholes when they come about. In yet another possibility, a toll collection company would take care of roads.

In order to see how roads would be provided without the government, one simply has to let people take care of the roads themselves.

So who would take care of the roads absent a state monopoly? The same people who make pencils. That’s who.

The Future of Tomorrow Today

March 5, 2012 1 comment

The Free Agent likes keeping her finger on the pulse of youth, so she almost perspired at the opportunity to speak to a group of political science students at Manhattan’s alternative City-as-High-School.  Their instructor cleared the path by passing on a list of the students’ concerns, along with the caveat that they were just beginning to learn about politics and knew nothing about economics, so please to keep everything basic.

“You’ll hear Libertarians refer to the Constitution frequently,” The FA began, “because the people who started our party were grappling with the same problems as the Founders.  They both decided there was the business of government and the business of society and when they get confused, bad things happen.”  From then, as the neophytes say, it was on.

The first question was from a self-described “Ron Paul Republican”, “How would the Libertarian Party address unemployment?”  Grateful for such a softball, The Free Agent replied, “Repeal all employment laws.”  She then discussed the most catastrophic law affecting high school students, minimum wage.  The FA could write a book on how 1937’s Fair Labor Standards Act is the depression that keeps on giving, but she had realized that apart from foreign policy, all the students’ concerns had to do with black markets of various sorts, so she made that her leitmotif.  “If you want to do work for five dollars an hour, who am I to stop you?  You own your own bodies, you’re not slaves, you have the right to work or not work however you choose.  You’re concerned about immigration, one reason we have illegal immigrants is minimum wage creates a black market for lower-paid labor.   That kills two birds with one stone, no minimum wage.”

The Free Agent has never had the misfortune to live in a violent neighborhood like the students she met.  Unlike theorists, their experience and common sense applauded when The FA said Libertarians would end the drug war and defend gun rights.  Being something of a humorist, The FA is used to her speeches being punctuated with laughter, but she wasn’t going for the belly laugh she got when she drew parallels between the drug war and other flavors of prohibition.  “We’ve tried everything, every idea everyone can think of, for thousands of years, and we haven’t figured out a way to get people to not want sex.  For a hundred years, we’ve tried everything we can think of to persuade people not to get high.  Remember the area where government belongs and the area where it creates more problems than it solves?  This is the biggest reason your neighborhoods are unsafe.”  Unschooled they may have been, but no one in that room was so impoverished of common sense as to suggest that perhaps just one more moonlight basketball league would turn the tide.

One could rightly observe that The Free Agent wasn’t asked to confront the bread and butter issues of these students’ lives, such as how they will be required to pay off the federal debt and could not look forward to seeing a dime of the earnings which will be withheld for their retirement.  (Although when asked what the government’s role in healthier diets should be, she asked how the school lunches at City-as-High-School were.  “They suck,” came the economical reply.  “That’s what the government feeds you when it has complete control,” she pointed out.)  For now, they do not see that cloud on their horizon.  Just in case there was a patch of fertile ground, however, The Free Agent could not resist planting a seed.  “You wouldn’t pay off your crazy crack cousin’s credit card until she got off the crack, would you?” she said.

And thus for two hours, staring down the barrel of the future, was The Free Agent educated.

Paula Gloria and Joe Barton on marijuana laws: Off with its head.

August 2, 2011 1 comment

Apparently the cops had no warrant when they busted down Joe Barton’s door.  Of course Libertarians would be outraged. But Joe Barton and Paula Gloria aren’t really Libertarians – at least not the big L type.  Most people aren’t as radical as Libertarians on Marijuana laws right?  Well perhaps you haven’t been far enough down the Rabbit Hole.

Note: Paula Gloria and Joe Barton will be the guest speakers at the Manhattan Libertarian Monthly Meeting, Next Monday August 8th, 2011.  The meeting is free and all are welcome to attend.  More Info here.

Here are some excerpts from my recent conversation with Paula and Joe.

Q: Please introduce yourself and tell us why Libertarians should be interested in your talk on Monday.

Paula:  I’m actually not informed enough about Libertarian positions. I can make some comments about medical marijuana. We are for freeing all the prisoners. We are for upholding the Constitution. We are for due process. To have a grand jury indictment you should have a victim of a crime.  Somebody should be able to say they have been hurt.  We are the People.  We are sovereign. We can do anything we want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else or prevent anyone else from exercising their rights.

Q: Can you give us a little background and tell us what the title of your talk means?

Paula: I’m the host of a show called “Farther Down The Rabbit Hole” which comes out daily at 12 noon on the community affairs channel on Manhattan Neighborhood Network.  It goes to about 600,000 households. Four years ago I started posting some of the shows on YouTube and because of that I was able to get a lot of feedback from people. Blogging is a really exciting way to develop our understanding and become good members of society and in particular I started to learn about the power of our Constitution and the importance of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

On Monday we will talk about “How to stand up vs run into machine gun fire”.  The importance of standing up versus walking into machine-gun fire means if you’re trying to do something that’s very difficult to do and you have opposition like a police state you want to make sure you have the best power behind you. We feel we have the Constitution behind us and if people understand the Constitution and understand the importance of God-given inalienable rights, that power can transform machine-gun fire. It can convince people who are trying to fight you, that they really should be with you. We are all Americans. We may have different ways of exercising our rights which is how it was meant t be as long as they don’t hurt other people.

Joe:  We believe we are becoming a police state. But rather than confront the police we prefer that people start taking their grievances to the courts and stand on constitutional issues. We are into supporting anybody who is standing up and protecting and defending the Constitution in court.

Paula: We support all marijuana reforms whose priority is to free the non-violent prisoners. We believe that the so-called marijuana laws are not even constitutional and if people understood how to argue in court they would win and the courts would do the right thing and uphold people’s inalienable rights.

Joe : the Constitution guarantees us the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and according to the Constitution only a crime that has a victim is really a criminal offense. Our legislators have gotten so out of hand, they’ve made so many laws that our prisons are full right now of citizens convicted of crimes with no victim. We need to wake people up and liberate our country. We need to take back the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and stop filling our prisons with nonviolent people who were convicted of victimless crimes. How can you have a crime when there’s no victim?

Q:  What about court cases that support the federal government’s right to interfere in medical marijuana states?

Joe : Every person who goes to court should take a stand, and  more people should support the people going to court. Go to court with them. Give publicity to anybody who is really taking a stand.  As far as the rulings, what we need to do is have enough people wake up and speak up and even start writing to the Supreme Court.  If a nationwide letter campaign was written by the American people, which the Libertarian party could probably get behind, get everybody to write letters to the Supreme Court saying “We are We The People and you work for us. You are giving away our rights. You are selling out to big business. You took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution and we expect you to do that.  You aren’t doing that when you protect government and corporations against the people.”

Paula: We fear that the medical marijuana laws are actually going increase regulation and if you increase regulation you have more government. We want less government and to free the prisoners.  Half a million people are in jail now unconstitutionally. A felony is a very serious, horrible thing. The founding fathers understood that it would be an extreme case that you arrest somebody and that you would put somebody in prison, so when you start looking at false arrest and imprisonment you begin to see what’s happened is an atrophying of the Constitution. Special interests have raided the country. If people don’t understand their rights they can’t stand up for them in a timely way. You have to call the court’s attention to the fraud. Until you call fraud to the core court’s attention the court is not obliged to do anything. Once people understand their powers and our constitutional principles they can stand up and say  “hey you judges, you swore and oath to protect our rights, you work for us, protect our rights”.

Q: Would you comment on Federal interference in medical marijuana states?

Joe: the Democrats and Republicans, all they do is pass power back and forth and the people keep losing more and more rights. Over the years Libertarians have asked me to help support them and the Green party asked me to support them. But one of my problems with all the politicians is the Republicans and Democrats are power mad and the Libertarians and the Greens really have no balls. They’re afraid to really go out on the edge. If the Libertarian party really wants to do something it’s got to get much more in touch with the people and much more radical. I don’t mean wild radical. I mean radical as far as taking on the Democrats and Republicans and really bringing the issues up. Don’t half step. Come out and say it.

Paula: You have the Constitution behind you there’s a great case,  Shuttlesworth v Birmingham  . If the state turns a liberty into a privilege, a citizen can engage in the right with impunity. One of the charges against Joe was growing marijuana without a license. A lot of people might say this is New York there is no license for growing marijuana.  But our concern is, and we cite case law again, Murdoch v Penn  , where the First Amendment right was upheld. The Supreme Court determined the state cannot convert a liberty into a privilege, license it and attach a fee to it.  So Joe in arguing his case, is not saying give me a license. He is saying you don’t need a license to grow marijuana.  And anybody has a right, in this case the right to grow marijuana under the right of a freedom of the pursuit of happiness.  You can read all of our arguments.  So these statutes that are not constitutional – the citizen can engage in the right with impunity.  But the citizen has to know how to stand up in a timely way in court and not be tricked out of giving up his rights.  Mostly when the courts uphold special interests over We the People, they do it through trickery and getting you in different jurisdictions.

In the case of the medical marijuana laws life might be given to somebody, a medical patient who otherwise without marijuana wouldn’t have life. But what about a law where you are taking the marijuana away from people who are illegally busted in order to provide that medicine? On one hand you’re saying it’s a crime (to have marijuana) and on the other hand government is confiscating marijuana with the intent to sell it to medical marijuana patients, which is stealing from growers so the government can profit. If government can distribute or license pharmaceutical companies government is stealing from the people for pharmaceutical profits and when they license pharmaceutical companies they incarcerate We the People for not having licenses.  This is arbitrary, regulation against the people in favor of big business by gathering what supposed to be criminal to give it away to patients.  Not give it away – I’m sure governments will have a big fee attached to it.

Q: Joe, what’s the status of your case?

Joe: there are two court cases. In the first one they came in with a knock warrant but they busted down my door anyway! The police trespassed on two occasions. After coming up a half mile driveway posted with many no trespassing signs, they came up on my porch and were looking in my window and sniffing at my door to try to smell marijuana so that they could get a warrant which is illegal.  That case is on appeal right now.  Then they came back again three years later.  The police officer met my son on the porch said he smelled marijuana again and forced his way into the house without a warrant. We are going to court right now on that.  When my son stepped out on the porch he told the cop you need a warrant but the cop forced his way in any way.  They had us there for two hours out in the car in the winter with no coats on.  Then they brought us to the police station for eight hours while they went and got a warrant to try to make good on coming in without a warrant, which under our Constitution is illegal.

Q: Do you see anything improving or any progress on the anti-prohibition movement?

Joe:  The American people are so squeezed and the politicians have sold us out to big business and corporations. Look how many people are losing their homes while we bailed out the banks. We give billions of dollars to the banks while people are evicted, American citizens, from their homes.  I see within the next year to two years you’re going to see the American people rise up like they never rose up before.  Unless the Libertarian party really comes out and takes a real stand and is very active they are going to be left behind.

Paula:  Let me read this from Norton v Shelby County .

“While acts of a de facto incumbent of an office lawfully created by law and existing are often held to be binding from reasons of public policy, the acts of a person assuming to fill and perform the duties of an office which does not exist de jure can have no validity whatever in law.  An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation as inoperative as though it had never been passed”

When my husband was talking about being radical the actual term is being constitutional. In a way the Constitution is a very radical document if you look in world history.  Can we be great enough today so we can maintain it? That’s what I’m saying.  When I read the case law that’s the Supreme Court in legal contemplation.  It’s not the spin factor or hype, it is what our country is founded on.

Joe:  When you talk about legalization,  the government will legalize drugs and then they will say well you can’t get it on the street. The medical thing is a phony thing.  The people will push for medical marijuana and the government will say you can’t consistently deliver the dosage. Then they will license it to pharmaceutical companies and anybody growing on their own will still be illegal and growing without a license and we will still have the prison state. So we want repeal of an unconstitutional law. Let it go back to what it was like before the law ever existed where anybody could grow it and it wasn’t regulated. Look at what is happening in Canada.  Canada has medical marijuana but the medical marijuana patients we have talked to say the marijuana they get from the government is crap and doesn’t  work in relation to their illnesses and they still have to go out on the street and buy so called “illegal” marijuana which works. If the marijuana laws were repealed the free market would produce the best quality.

The government says that people who grow or are selling marijuana are dealing drugs and they are criminals yet the government wants to license pharmaceutical corporations to deal the very same drugs which gives corporations rights and takes them away from the people and even on the statutory level violates anti-trust laws.  The government protects corporate interests by violating the rights of the people which is clearly unconstitutional.

A flesh and blood human being with inalienable rights always trumps a corporation in court if the violated party stands up to become the belligerent claimant.  We don’t trust the government to do what is best for medical patients or the people who grow marijuana.  Here is an example, the mafia used to run numbers the government called them criminals and said they were immoral lock them up put them in jail.  Then once the number runners were out of business the government started lotto saying that the profits would go to better schools.  Here is how that turned out when you bet with the mafia if they said they would pay a hundred dollars they paid a hundred dollars.  Now that the government is running numbers if they say you are going to win a million dollars they then tax it and they don’t pay a million dollars.  As far as the lottery money going to schools our schools are worse now then ever before in spite of billions of dollars taken in by the government from lotto. Where has the money gone?  We should have the best equipped schools in the world.  Government created criminals out of the mafia who honored the rules of the game yet government pays half what they claim and the money doesn’t go to schools.  Who is scamming who?



Related Legal Documents:

Memorandum of  Law



Please join us Monday August 8th for Paula’s and Joe’s talk with the Manhattan LP.  The meeting is free.  All are welcome.  More info here.

Moore On

March 28, 2011 3 comments

“The nation is not broke, my friends.  Wisconsin is not broke.  Saying that the country is broke is repeating a Big Lie.”  While The Free Agent certainly doesn’t count herself among Michael Moore’s friends, she cannot help but be intrigued by the speech he gave in Madison supporting intractable state workers and their enablers in the state assembly, given her recent exposition on the same subject.  Also, The Free Agent herself faces financial embarrassment she would prefer to avoid, hence she reads on, “The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich”

Let us blink our eyes at the implication that before the federal bailout (and oh, how The Free Agent hates to find herself agreeing with Mister Moore!) the nation’s economy was to his liking.  He goes on to claim that the wealthiest 400 individuals in the United States own half its wealth.

The Free Agent has never been able to grok the relevance of this how-many-control-how-much measurement.  (She recently read a book wherein the author bemoaned the destabilizing effect of the widening gap between rich and poor, the timeframe being 1559-1715.)   Mister Moore supposes .0000013% of the population controls approximately $95 trillion (it’s difficult to estimate total wealth; this is a lowball derived from the most recent Federal Reserve Board’s Z1: Flow of Funds report); more planet-earth-oriented sources place the number at 1%, or 3,000,000 people, owning approximately 43%, a figure that has hardly changed since 1981.  Yet whatever the particulars, The Free Agent’s eyebrow remains unarched.  Would Mister Moore prefer a more ‘democratic’ (his ne plus ultra) distribution, such as China’s?  The bottom 90% of the population owns 60% of its wealth.  The FA invites Moore to experience the relative economic justice first-hand.

But Mister Moore’s point was that America/Wisconsin, and by extension, The Free Agent, aren’t broke because wealth still exists somewhere in the country.  Using this logic, The Free Agent owns a Honda CR-V because one sits in her neighbor’s driveway.  All she requires is the, ahem, ‘democratic’ means to acquire a set of keys.

The Free Agent’s economic worldview is founded on only a few principals learned at her accountant-mother’s knee: if you live beyond your means for too long, you will go broke.  If you make financial promises you can’t keep, you will go broke, and possibly to jail.  If you are digging yourself into a hole, you should slow the digging (chuck the Quality Paperback Book Club catalog) and try to fill it up (pick up an extra shift at the mall).  If you’re going to steal, embezzle.  That one is a bit of a surprise if you know The Free Agent’s mater, but she never condoned theft, so that branch of the decision tree will never be climbed.

Mister Moore, unencumbered by similar moral education, sees the situation differently: in order to perpetuate the state government of Wisconsin’s living beyond its means and paying off ludicrous unfunded retiree benefits, it is merely needful to rouse the rabble to vote themselves someone else’s bank account.  In short, Mister Moore, like most politicians, is a graduate of the Willie Sutton school of economics.  Mister Sutton, you’ll recall, when asked why he robbed banks, replied, “Because that’s where the money is.”  This is a gentleman in whose company you should not wear your good watch.

Alas, like so much we have lost under the oligarchy, The Free Agent has just been informed she no longer owns the CR-V.  It’s going to an Affirmative Action Coordinator  in Oshkosh.

The Danielle Steel Decade *

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

The Free Agent has observed that the frequency of the nostalgia wave is about twenty years. In particular, Generation-Whatevers look upon twenty years before whatever year it is as a time when people wore funny clothes and didn’t have real problems like we do nowadays. (When The Free Agent was a toddler, the rage was for the 1950s—school dances were sock hops, girls dug through their mothers’ closets for the ol’ poodle skirt and boys gelled their shag cuts into DAs.) In that spirit, you are invited to don a plaid flannel shirt, tie another plaid flannel shirt around your waist, and revisit Things We Complained About in the 90s.

Ross Perot’s “giant sucking sound” of jobs moving Mexico-ward as a result of the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA took effect January 1, 1994, in December, Mexico suffered a currency crisis, muddling the statistical waters quite a bit. But comparing total employment in Mexico between 1993 and 1998, sure enough, its economy added over 3 million jobs, a 20% increase. But during the same period, the US added nearly 15 million jobs, for an overall increase of 14%. U.S. gross domestic product grew 32% during those five years, in Mexico it rose 15%. If there was a sound, it would seem to have been caused by significant increase in prosperity for both countries. A fact Mexico might well be reminded of, now that it hears a sucking sound from China and India.

But what was the nature of those jobs? The Free Agent recently received an Internet chain letter suggesting we demand to speak to an American customer service agent when we detect a foreign accent on the phone, repatriating “our jobs”. Ignoring the anti-competitive impact higher wages would have for US employers, in the 90s, we disdained exactly this type of work as soulless, low-wage, service sector McJobs. Increasing total employment, decreasing total employment, alluding to the 1970s again, “it’s always something.”

Remember when Barnes & Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks and B. Dalton were the enemies? When we worried about Starbucks’ opening too many stores? When gentrification was evil? All of those trends have reversed, to no one’s clear benefit or injury.

The Free Agent concludes her musings on a sober note. In the waning months of the 90s, she marched with fellow Washingtonians in protest of NATO’s bombing campaign in Yugoslavia. It was hardly a frenzied, Vietnam-caliber protest, by June 5 it was already clear the campaign would end in a few days. But we objected to the idea that bombing could be an easy, or clean war, cashing in on the US’s technological strengths with little exposure to loss of our lives or treasure. Since Yugoslavia/Kosovo’s European neighbors seemed uninterested in risking themselves to impose an end to the war, why should Washington override them?

Yes, The Free Agent’s complaints about the 90s concept of clean wars seems as quaint as a tuna boycott now that her country is ensnared in at least two eye-level wars, consuming both treasure and her countrymen’s lives. She wonders if in 2031 if she’ll wax nostalgic for Iraq and Afghanistan. What events would have to transpire for that to happen, she daren’t contemplate.

* Danielle Steel wrote 20 of the 100 end of year top 10 novels from 1990-1999

NLRB Tells Voters “Talk To The Hand”

January 17, 2011 3 comments

Barak Obama may be paying lip service to the will of the voters after the resounding vote of no confidence in the November elections.  But his bureaucracy either isn’t listening or they just don’t care what the voters want. 

Last November the voters in Utah, South Carolina, South Dakota and Arizona overwhelmingly approved amendments to their state constitutions that in effect guaranty workers the right to a secret ballot for union organizing elections.  Arguably these measures were intended to nullify the proposed federal Card-Check law, deceptively named the Employee Free Choice Act which would remove that guaranty.  

In no uncertain terms, voters told the Federal Government that they preferred to make their own decisions with respect to activity within their own states.   These votes were not even close (sources SC, UT, SD, AZ):

South Carolina 86%

Utah  60%

South Dakota79%

Arizona 60%

 But democracy and federalism be damned, the National Labor Relations Board informed the states’ Attorneys General that they plan to sue the states to force them to submit to federal labor laws.  General Counsel Lafe Solomon argues that the U.S. Constitution’s  Supremacy Clause means that the federal labor law overrides state constitutions.  The Supremacy Clause may mean that legitimate federal law overrides state law.   However, that applies only to legitimate federal law.

 The authority to interfere in business agreements among consenting adults is not found in the enumerated powers that the U.S Constitution designates as the only powers allowed the Federal Government.  Proponents of broad federal regulation of business resort to tortured interpretations of the commerce and welfare clauses to justify the power of the Federal Government to do just about anything.  Of course this is the opposite of the Federal System of limited central government on which the U.S. Constitution is based.

In this case the Federal Government rushes to grant special privileges to labor unions who have faithfully supported big government in return for these special privileges.   I’m not against any group of workers’ right to organize.  But granting them any special legal privileges empowers special interests at the expense of the regular people.  It’s corruption pure and simple.

It’s these payoffs to special interests whether it’s the military-industrial complex, big-pharma, the trial lawyers, the teacher’s union, college students,  toxic mortgage holders, and many others, that have brought the country near bankruptcy.   The only way to stop it is to create meaningful competition among governments.  That is, make it easier to change jurisdictions, including tax jurisdictions.  It’s a lot easier to move to another town or another state than it is to move to another country.

I’m not suggesting that all the states are better than the Feds – some are much worse.  But currently most of the power and tax revenues accrue to the centralized Federal Government.  That defeats the free market competition among governments that the founding fathers intended as a protection of federalism.     Rapacious governments at all levels look for ways to pay for their extravagant payoffs to special interests .  Real competition among tax jurisdictions is the only way to keep in check the politicians and the special interests they serve.  That means much less power and much lower taxes at the federal level.  The states can then make taxing and spending decisions that are more in line with their voters’ preferences.

 That would be a step in the right direction. It isn’t the ultimate goal.  While the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects State sovereignty – morally sovereignty resides in the individual.  Recognizing  that a human being is not morally born the subject of any other human being or group is the first step in creating a society where every human being is free to fulfill his/her full potential free of force and coercion by self-serving special interests .  Reducing the power of the Federal Government is just a first step toward improving the human condition.  That means putting the Federal Government back into its constitutionally defined box.  That’s what the nullification movement and the Tenth Amendment movement are about.

As the Federal Government continues to expand its control over every aspect of our lives and businesses challenges to federal regulation of health care, gun rights, drug laws and a dozen or so other topics have mounted. 

The fundamental issue is whether the Federal Government and specifically the Supreme Court, is the only entity that can judge the constitutional legitimacy of Federal Law.  The people who wrote the Constitution didn’t intend it that way (see my blog here).

The legal constitutional argument is one thing – the Federal Government should obey the law as defined by the Constitution.  But how should the Federal Government react when the will of a few hundred corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in Washington D.C. – people  who are dependent on union political contributions –  run roughshod over the will of hundreds of thousands of voters.  This is now more the norm than the exception.  The Federal Government acted against the will of the voters on the bailouts, health care, the wars and REAL ID.  Bills are almost never read by the legislators who force them on us and most of the rules we are told to live by are made by appointed bureaucrats with no constitutional authority at all.  To add insult to injury the political class isn’t subject to its own laws,  for example they have different health care, different retirement benefits, and special parking privileges.

We could wait until it’s too late. We could wait for a future in which many states and perhaps the Federal Government declare bankruptcy, the dollar and the economy go into  freefall,  only the political class can afford health care and we have new wars to take the public’s mind off the failure of government.  That’s exactly the path the Federal Government has us on now.

The alternative, the more civilized path, is to respect the will of the people as expressed by their state and local political institutions and by the individuals themselves.   Maybe that should be in the Constitution.  Hey – guess what – it is!  


BTW – Rick Montes of the Tenth Amendment Center will speak at the Manhattan Libertarian Party Monthly Meeting on March 14, 2010. More info here.