[I]f you’re a free marketeer… you’ll tend to endorse statements like these:
- I, and not the government, should get to decide who will be a guest in my home.
- I, and not the government, should get to decide who I’ll hire to mow my lawn.
- I, and not the government, should get to decide who I’ll go running with this evening.
- I, and not the government, should get to decide whose businesses I’ll patronize, who I’ll serve as customers in my own business, and who I can sell my house to.
Strict controls on immigration are, of course, antithetical to all these propositions because their entire purpose is to exclude a large class of people from visiting my home, mowing my lawn, joining me for an evening run, selling me products, buying my products, and generally being, at my discretion, a part of my life.
Property rights mean that (1) if I plant corn, I have the right to harvest the yield of that corn, and therefore the right to prevent passersby from harvesting it; and (2) if I save some of the income from the sale of that harvest and invest in more land, then I have the right to plant and harvest from the additional land. To be “propertied” is to have the right to accumulate. To accumulate is not to consume all that my labor and previous savings investment has produced. This allows all my accumulation to remain at work in society at large and for all others to benefit from my capital investment. This is the basis for all endogenously sustainable (that is, devoid of perpetual external transfers) net wealth accumulation in society. There can be no other basis. If there is any abridgment of an individual’s rights to so harvest and accumulate, then there is a direct abridgment of the rights of all others to share in these external benefits and achieve a corresponding improvement in their welfare – benefits unintended by the investor-saver who seeks only his own security.
— Vernon Smith, Rationality in Economics
The total number of marijuana arrests in the United States, which rose dramatically from about 288,000 in 1991 to a peak of 873,000 in 2007, has declined since then, reaching 750,000 in 2012. But according to a new analysisby Jon Gettman, a former national director of NORML who is now a professor of criminal justice at Shenandoah University in Virginia, arrest rates have continued to rise in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Nationwide, the number of arrests per 100,000 residents more than doubled between 1991 and 2012. The overwhelming majority of those arrests (88 percent in 2012) involved simple possession, indicating that consumers have borne the brunt of this cannabis crackdown. Yet the huge increase in pot bustsdoes not seemto have had much of a deterrent effect.
According to National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), the number of people who reported using marijuana in the previous year rose and fell through the 1990s as arrests steadily climbed. In the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which began in 2002, that number was fairly flat until 2009, despite continued increases in arrests. It rose steadily from 2009 through 2012, the last year for which data are available. In theMonitoring the Future Study, annual prevalence of marijuana use by high school seniors rose from 24 percent in 1991 to 36 percent in 2012. This does not look like a drug policy that is working.
Actually, whether drug policy is “working” is completely subjective. Criminal organizations, so-called “private” prisons, lawyers, and police departments - among many other groups - all rely on prohibition for their own success…
This should concern anyone considering swimming off Florida’s beaches.
H/T Daily Kos user devtob
Because beach waters are not tested for a cyclical and naturally-occurring bacteria that is potentially harmful to people. This bacteria killed ten people last year (or, as they put it, “almost one person a month”), out of many millions of beach-goers. Incidentally, bleach is used to [try to] kill this bacteria, but that of course is also harmful to people (and to the ecosystem, which is ostensibly something the left concerns itself about).
This “libertarian beaches” episode of buck nutty buffoonery is brought to you by dailykos, who refuse to understand that libertarians concern themselves with things such as property rights, contracts, and liability against damages. A private “libertarian” beach that endangers its customers (by insufficiently protecting or warning against dangers) suffers (1) losses in revenue as customers choose other recreational activities and (2) possible law suits for negligence and endangerment. This is not complicated.
From the left we often see tension between those who want to help the poor, and those who want to help the government. One recent example of this is the proposal to ban cash forwarded by Harvard’s Ken Rogoff.
The gist of Rogoff’s beef with cash is that cash fuels the black market, and it makes it harder for the government to push negative nominal interest rates. In both cases, Rogoff doesn’t even get that he’s describing benefits of cash, not problems to be solved.
The fact that cash enables black market transactions is one of its greatest benefits to the poor and undercapitalized. The poor cannot afford to navigate regulatory thickets installed by bored bureaucrats on behalf of the powerful. The choice, then, is to set up an informal, cash-based business, or none at all. Recent debates over Uber’s taxi-services or Mom-and-Pop hair braiding remind us of the never-ending roadblocks placed in the way of entrepreneurs, and especially small entrepreneurs, by government. Indeed, without government who would harass small business? Government definitely built that.
The victims of this arbitrary harassment are disproportionately small businesses, who lack the ability to write checks to political godfathers. We will never know how many businesses are not started In the face of regulatory costs: those unstarted businesses are like the unbought alternatives in Bastiat’s parable of the broken window. The number is certainly large.
In 2011 the Kauffman Foundation found that 54 percent of Americans aged 18-34 either want to start a business or already have started one. Meanwhile, in a study by oDesk and Millennial Branding, 35 percent of 18-35 year-olds have started a business, while a full 72 percent would like to quit their jobs and start a business. We’re not talking a small group here. We’re talking about most Americans. Translating into terms politicians understand, we’re talking most voters.
Cash, of course, lets these people start businesses free of regulatory harassment. It’s an efficient system, actually; you start an informal cash-based business, braiding hair or designing websites. You’re paid under the table, so you can skip the regulatory costs. Meanwhile, as you do get bigger, opening franchises city-wide, say, you will need to register and pay those costs. But you’re now big enough to absorb them better.
In other words, black-market business is the “venture capital” industry of the poor and young. Cash provides early-stage immunity from regulatory burdens that would otherwise strangle small entrepreneurs.
The second part of Rogoff’s complaint moves us to the economy-wide level. He wants negative interest rates, and blames cash for making this harder. Here Rogoff betrays his ignorance of the rich classical and Austrian literature on business cycles. Outside the Keynesian reality distortion field, in real economics, it’s precisely government-managed low interest rates that cause the business cycle. Money’s too cheap, dumb projects get funded, and those dumb projects turn out to be unsustainable.
Since he doesn’t understand classical economics, Rogoff thinks he’s pushing for some free lunch sugar-high, when what he’s really asking for is a magnification of business cycles. He might think whether the next recession/depression really should be magnified by ever-lower rates.
Rogoff’s cashless society is aimed squarely at kneecapping the poor. He would stamp out early-stage small business, especially the resource-poor start-ups that are often the best way up for the poor and the young. Obviously, this would increase inequality, raise poverty and trim prosperity. Of course, if types like Rogoff manage to knock out an important rung from the ladder to the middle class, you can be sure they will reflexively blame the destruction on the rich or, better, greedy GOP billionaires. It’s the standard socialist pattern — destroy the poor then blame the rich. “Accelerating the contradictions,” as Lenin put it.
We’ll see much worse if Rogoff gets his way on interest rates; more extreme cycles, with the poor, as usual, taking the most savage hits in the downturns. Again, types like Rogoff will be ready with talk of Chinese savings or internet price compression, whatever fashionable explanation lets Harvard econ off the hook for not reading their Mises and Hayek.
Since outright slavery has been discredited, “democracy” is the only remaining rationale for state compulsion that most people will accept. Democracy has proved only that the best way to gain power over people is to assure the people that they are ruling themselves. Once they believe that, they make wonderfully submissive slaves.
— Joseph Sobran (via paleolibertarian)
In any kind of negotiation, your ability to walk away is your strongest tool.
Those who can walk away from the negotiation — legitimately walk away, not just make a show of it — are in the strongest position. Those who are convinced they need to make the deal are in the weakest position.
This is true of negotiating when you’re buying a car, closing the sale of your new home, haggling in a foreign flea market, or trying to get a raise.
It’s also true of anything in life.
And it’s still true with our “negotiations” with the state: we cannot simply “walk away” peacefully from their myriad unjust demands. As James Altucher points out: “If you can’t walk away from a negotiation, then you aren’t negotiating. You’re just working out the terms of your slavery.”
[U]nless someone steals from you, you have no business fretting about how much money they have relative to how much money you have. (Envy is an unsound basis not only for government policy but also for personal ethics.) And if someone did steal from you, then what you should fret about is that person’s thievery rather than about his or her monetary wealth relative to your own. After all, if the thief’s theft raised his or her income to a level more in line with your own, you surely wouldn’t shrug and excuse the thievery on the grounds that it helped to equalize incomes – and you’d be appalled if the police did so.
The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.
— H.L. Mencken
Nearly a century ago, the immortal Albert Jay Nock decanted one of the most potent condemnations of prohibition ever committed to print. Nock described the prohibitionist impulse as “simply unworthy of a free people, and, being unworthy [is] soon found intolerable.” He rebuked prohibitionists for their “hatreds, fanaticisms, inaccessibility to ideas … inflamed and cancerous interest in the personal conduct of others …. hysterical disregard of personal rights [and their] pure faith in force….” Those traits, he concluded, “characterize and animate a civilization that the general experience of mankind at once condemns as impossible, and as hateful as it is impossible.”
The prohibitionist is an instinctive authoritarian and self-enraptured bully determined to cleanse the world of conduct he considers offensive, no matter the cost. At antipodes is the bootlegger, an entrepreneur in the original sense of the word — someone who takes risks in order to provide goods to willing customers in mutually beneficial transactions.
During the past two weeks, while examining the affairs of the prohibitionist clique afflicting my beloved Treasure Valley, I re-read Memoirs of an Oregon Moonshiner, in which Ray Nelson described what it was like to be involved in the “illegal manufacture and delivery” of whiskey in Malheur County during the period of official derangement known as alcohol prohibition. While contemporary prohibitionists obsess about a different roster of proscribed substances, little else has changed.
Like countless others, Nelson — a World War I veteran and cowboy by training and inclination — got involved in the manufacture and “illegal delivery” of a controlled substance out of economic necessity. During a business trip to Vale in 1923, Nelson and his first partner were ratted out by an informant, the type of person “which Vale was accursed with,” and then arrested by “three old ex-barflies” who had been deputized by the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office.”
Nelson and his friend pleaded guilty to “possession of whiskey” in the hope that as first-time offenders they would receive leniency. Instead, the Justice of the Peace, who “looked at us with a hangman’s-gallows look on his mug,” sent them to jail for ninety days and imposed a $300 fine — a considerable sum at the time.
After it was made clear that the judge and his fellow parasites were interested only in the fine, and would commute the jail term if it were paid, Nelson and his colleague — in an entirely admirable display of contemptuous defiance — refused to pay the ransom and rejected offers by their friends to pay it on their behalf. Once he was set free, Nelson resumed his career, providing a high-quality product for willing customers at a reasonable price. Nelson would eventually serve time in prison after the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office and district attorney struck a deal with an ex-convict to testify against the bootlegger.
Manufacturing and selling alcohol in defiance of what the government pretended was the “law” was never a crime. Attempting to suppress that activity created an environment in which actual crime metastasized. While honest and honorable businessmen who defied prohibition to make a modest living, “Crooked county and state officials were getting rich from it,” Nelson observed. The same was true of politically protected gangsters in major cities who, in collusion with bureaucrats and law enforcement officers, “branched out into other rackets such as extortion, kidnapping, and bank robbery.”
“I was never a criminal, so I never shall reform,” Nelson testified decades later, long after Prohibition ended. “Robbing, stealing, killing, swindling, and the like are something I never did believe in. I hate and despise anybody who goes in for anything like that and want to see them justly prosecuted. Those who bucked the prohibition law were the same stock of people who, back in Colonial days, comprised the Boston Tea Party … people who had nerve enough to contest a law that was a direct infringement on their rights.”
Monarchy, democracy, communism, all useless forms to control the human mind. But a mind cannot be controlled. It cannot be restrained. It has no boundaries. It has its will. Anarchy is the true nature of all things.
— Alex Battig (via 18goingon80)
Peel back the layers of any statist argument and you will quickly discover at its cold, dark heart the notion that you do not own your self. You are, to some degree, the property of another. As such, you are to be ruled, governed, harassed, intimidated, harangued, searched and taxed in whichever way the owner deems to be “in the interest of society.” It’s enough to make the questioning individual cry… or laugh… or both. Either way, their message is clear: Free men are not to be trusted with their own lives. It’s time to tell these people to mind their own [insert expletive of choice here] business.
Enterprise is creative: people striving to produce better goods and services hit on new products, processes and technologies that improve the lives of everyone. By stifling that enterprise and creativity, egalitarianism closes off the prospect of continual improvement in the material lives of the whole world.
— Eamonn Butler, Foundations of a Free Society 
Four Things the State is Not
Great stuff from Tom Woods. Worth your time.
My mother-in-law paraphrased the piece: “[As paleos already know,] saturated fat is not the enemy! Butter, red meat, poultry skin = good for you! They increase the fluffy, unharmful part of LDL. The dense, dangerous part of LDL is caused by, wait for it… refined sugars and carbs! Imagine that.”