The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Be More Like Utah...

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Real Free Market Benefits Workers

by Sheldon Richman of the Future of Freedom Foundation
Original at

Hands are wringing over bleak reports that despite increased productivity, workers are falling behind: real median income — adjusted for government-caused inflation — is said to be falling. Meanwhile, corporate profits are skyrocketing, and the wealthiest are doing fine.

In other words, the benefits of economic growth are said to be distributed unfairly.

As the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), an organization that favors government activism, puts it, “After 2001, there has been basically no wage improvement for typical workers regardless of significant gains in productivity.”

EPI blames “increased global trade, less union membership, and more low-skilled and high-skilled immigration.” Its remedy? Strengthened unions, a higher minimum wage, and a “truly tight labor market.”

For EPI the system isn’t working fairly. But what system is that? EPI would probably say “capitalism.”

Among people who favor capitalism, the response to EPI-type studies is always the same. Last week the Wall Street Journal and various pro-capitalist blogs brought out counter-statistics to show that workers’ compensation has increased. They faulted the naysayers by pointing out methodological flaws (such as comparing average productivity growth to median income) and omissions (such as noncash employee benefits, though EPI says it accounts for these). The statistical snowball fight goes on without end.

This debate is unsatisfying. It seems to be about whether capitalism is fair or not. People inclined to dislike capitalism embrace the bleak reports. People inclined to favor capitalism find other data, which isn’t hard to do. Any economic situation is complex — there are statistics and time series to support any predilection. Data are like scriptures or the Constitution: you can always find what you’re looking for.

I suggest a new tack. If we don’t get the question right, we can hardly expect to get the answer right.

Leaving ambiguous labels like “capitalism” aside, what do the data presume to depict? Considering that for a couple hundred years local, state, and federal governments in America have intervened in the economy largely on behalf of business interests, we can say that whatever we call it, it is not a free market. If the outcome in recent years has been unfair, then the blame is on government intervention.

In an unmolested market economy — one where all dealings are by consent — the “allocation” of wealth and income is the result of transactions. There is no storehouse from which a custodian distributes wealth according to some arbitrary standard. Wealth comes from production and exchange between willing buyers and sellers. If someone efficiently produces a good that many people trade their money for, he becomes wealthy. His success results not from a distribution of money but rather from many discrete voluntary transactions.

When government undertakes to regulate a market-based system, it (1) compels exchanges (for example, through eminent domain and tax transfers) and (2) forcibly interferes with voluntary exchanges. When government taxes us to provide subsidies to business, our preferences are overthrown in favor of someone else’s. When it imposes import quotas, tariffs, and patents, the choices and prices of clothing, sugar, and many other things are distorted because inexpensive foreign goods are kept out of the market. When government imposes taxes and regulations, it favors large incumbent firms over small and yet-to-be-started firms. When it expands the money supply, inflation robs working people of purchasing power.

There is only one test for whether an arrangement of wealth and income is fair or not: is it the result of voluntary transactions? If so, there is no role for public policy, because that would mean forcible interference with people’s peaceful exchanges. If not, then the proper remedy is abolition of privilege.

Whatever the actual trend in living standards for average workers, we know they’d be better off in a free economy. It is intervention, not the free market, that is biased against workers, because intervention inhibits the emergence of alternative opportunities, including self-employment options. What makes workers wealthier is rising productivity plus uninhibited competition for their services.

The corporate state, by design, inhibits competition, making workers worse off than they’d otherwise be. The truly free market is the worker’s best friend.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Don't believe Rumsfeld's fantasy


On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a sneak attack that devastated a U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. And the United States rose in righteous fury, immediately declaring war on Thailand. Because, you know, it was in the same part of the world as Japan and the people kind of looked alike and, besides, those Thais had been getting a little uppity and were due for a smackdown.

Which is not the way it happened, of course, but if Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wants to use World War II allusions to describe the war on terror, I submit that my fantasy comes a lot closer to the truth than his.

Rumsfeld's fantasy, if you missed it, was shared in a recent speech before the American Legion in Salt Lake City. There, the Sec Def said that critics of the war in Iraq -- a designation that now includes most Americans -- are like those who thought they could avoid fighting by negotiating with, or "appeasing," the Nazis in the days before World War II.

The war's critics -- again, that's the majority of us -- need to crack a history book, he thinks. "Once again, we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism. But some seem not to have learned history's lessons."

Rumsfeld's rant was but the shrillest of several recent statements by members of the federal regime -- Cheney, Rice and the great and powerful Bush himself -- in defense of the war in Iraq. Which must mean -- hold on, let me check my calendar -- yep, there's an election coming.

Read the rest at

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Bush's False War

Bush's "War on Terrorism" is a crock of shit. Anyone with any kind of brain can see that. The young people in our nation's military are being squandered for no purpose (no purpose that helps the nation, anyway), our foreign relations are in the toilet, and our rights and freedoms are being raped and tortured to death.

A few news articles to belabour this point:
Bush turns to new gimmick to try and well terror war
Proving he will try any gimmick to sell his failed "war on terror," President George W. Bush is bringing representatives from countries that have suffered terrorist attacks to populate the audience at his next speech -- and effort, the White House says, to emphasize the global nature of the enemy.

In a speech Thursday that launched a new offensive to build support for the Iraq war and for Republicans in the fall elections, Bush said various factions of terrorists belong under the same umbrella, even though many terrorism experts do not agree and some say his new approach is long on hyperbole and short on fact.
War is not a solution for terrorism
THERE IS SOMETHING important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.

The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and-awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.
What Defending Freedom Really Means
Anyone who appeals to freedom as a reason for war has to support and favor freedom. He has to favor the exercise of freedom over one’s just property. He has to favor the absence of unjust attacks and infringements on one’s life, liberty, and property because that is what freedom means, correct? Not so. Politicians constantly make the appeal to freedom while simultaneously supporting the state’s multiple infringements upon life, liberty, and property.

What are we to think of this blatant contradiction? We can conclude that our rulers are hypocrites. This is true. They pretend to favor freedom while their every act undermines it. Whenever they invoke freedom, watch out. They are talking about other things, things that are not freedom, things that go against exercising one’s free will over one’s property. Their aim is to sabotage freedom.
Privacy: A right to defend
SOMETIMES, AS IN the case of the current domestic surveillance controversy, it's important to take the long view.

It was in 1978 that President Carter persuaded Congress to create a special secret court that would authorize wiretaps or secret surveillance on people suspected of espionage. I was one of the few members of Congress to vote against the measure.

Although little is known about the court that monitors the resulting Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, analysts generally assume that it has achieved its objectives while complying with the Fourth Amendment's requirement that a warrant be issued by a judge before every search and seizure.

After the 9/11 attacks on America in 2001, however, President Bush decided to finesse FISA and collect information from countless people suspected by the spy agencies of being involved in terrorist activities. Three years after this clandestine program was started, the press revealed its existence. Late last week, a federal judge in Detroit, Anna Diggs Taylor, said that the president's move to bypass FISA was unconstitutional. Still, the president remains adamant that the plan is essential and that it is justified by his broad inherent powers as commander in chief.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006


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