Saturday, June 29, 2013

Criminalizing Employers Inside America's "Golden Door"

A letter appeared in the New Jersey Star-Ledger on April 16, 2013 under the heading "Don't Forget Employers." The letter writer refers to "the most important factor in the immigration debate, . . .employers of illegal immigrants" when he said:


Employers entice people to come to the United States illegally by giving them work when unemployment is at record levels. Why aren’t we putting them in jail for taking money from unemployed citizens?

I left these comments:

RE: Don't Forget Employers

What facts do you offer to back up your claim that hiring illegal aliens equates to "taking money from unemployed citizens," Jerry? Someone else didn't get the jobs, and therefor are not entitled to money they didn't earn. On your premise that the hiring of one person is taking from those who didn't get the job, then every worker and every employer is a criminal, so long as there is anyone out of work. On your premise, we might as well declare jobs to be illegal, and we can all live alone on isolated, self-sustaining farms in abject poverty, if we survive at all.

The problem of high unemployment--which, by the way, is not "at record levels"--is not the fault of people who want to come to America to work, or employers who hire them in a voluntary contract that hurts no one and violates no one's rights. The current dismal employment situation is caused by massive government intervention into the economy, such as minimum wage laws, massive business regulations, and the government policies that led to the housing bubble and  "Great Recession." 

"The most important factor in the immigration debate" is individual rights. The illegal immigrant problem is caused by the restrictive immigration policies of this country, which violates the inalienable rights of people to live and work in the country of their choice--America--thus forcing these productive people into black market status. Criminalizing innocent, productive businessmen as the solution to the problems caused by unjust immigration laws is consistent with a totalitarian collectivist state, not the civil, open, rights-respecting society America was intended to be. Don't forget the "New Colossus" plaque mounted inside the Pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. America the Golden Door!: We should live up to it's promise.

The aforementioned plaque in the Statue of Liberty contains the sonnet by Emma Lazarus. Here it is in its entirety. You will recognize the famous, oft-repeated phrase within it:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

What an economic powerhouse those tired and poor helped to build

Related Reading:


Individual Rights, The Ayn Rand Center 







Thursday, June 27, 2013

Stop Indoctrinating Schoolchildren With Environmentalist Propaganda

In Gov. Christie's Towering Hypocracy on Climate, the NJ Star-Ledger makes hay about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's environmental policies. In my comments, I chose to zero in on what to the writer Tom Moran was probably intended only as an introductory aside:


The kids at Demarest Elementary School in Bloomfield could teach Gov. Chris Christie a thing or two about climate change.
Their school just won first place in a national contest by cutting its energy use in half. And it wasn’t that hard. They did stuff like turn off the heat on weekends and nights, fix leaky windows and unplug fax machines overnight. Simple measures saved more than $70,000 in the first year, about enough to pay a starting teacher’s salary and benefits.
In the fight against climate change, this is the easy pickin’s. It’s much cheaper than matching the same results by building a windmill or solar farm.
And for third-grader Daniella Estevez and her friend Jaelyn Oranas, the lesson was obvious. “Please take care of Earth,” they told their friends at a ceremony Wednesday marking the prize. “It’s the only planet we can live on.”
Christie doesn’t seem to get that.

Moran goes on to chastise Christie for raiding environment funds intended for "green energy" government subsidies to use for other purposes.

I replied:

Demarest Elementary only proves that government schools are indoctrinating inexperienced, intellectually defenseless children with politically-motivated ideas.

Now, their's nothing wrong with common-sense energy savings that save money (though why precious education time and money is wasted on such silly contests is beyond me). There is something horribly wrong with the deadly environmentalist ideology that prompts kids to spout "Please take care of the Earth" and the like. Such a statement is an outgrowth of the evil premise underpinning environmentalism;  that raw nature has intrinsic value. If so, then every time people apply intelligence and productive work to improve the environment for man, such as building hydro-electric dams, nuclear power plants, oil refineries, pipelines, fossil fuel-powered electric plants, housing developments, shopping malls, pharmaceutical plants, factories, modern industrial agriculture, cars, roads, and office buildings, they are not "taking care of the Earth" but destroying it, because raw nature has "intrinsic value."

In fact, industrialization is precisely man's way of taking care of the Earth. Raw nature is misery and death to man. It is not a value for man, except as a day-trip getaway from our centrally heated, air conditioned, plumbed, electric powered homes and workplaces. Industrialization, powered primarily by fossil fuels, has vastly improved Earth's environment. Compare the health, comfort, and longevity we enjoy today with human history before free market capitalism generated the industrial revolution. Lives were brutal and short, famine and plague were regular scourges, and most children died before the age of ten. I wonder if those children would trade places with that kid who was brainwashed into believing we should "take care of the Earth."

A bit of climate change? So what? It's always been around. Even if you accept that man is primarily responsible for this round of minor climate change--which I don't--it's a small price to pay for our vastly improved environment. If we're still relatively free, we'll adapt to whatever problems it creates through human ingenuity, and otherwise enjoy the benefits of warmer weather. If government schools are going to propagandize, shouldn't they at least be presenting the case for man's efforts to improve Earth's environment for man? Or does "diversity" only apply to race, but not ideas?

As to Christie: No, he shouldn't be using that "green" money to balance the budget. He should be cutting redistributionist spending, instead.  Then, he should repeal the subsidies to the solar and wind industries and lower taxes and electric rates accordingly. The subsidies only prove that solar and wind make no sense and can't compete with other energy sources. If they could compete, people would voluntarily install them with their own money, rather than have their money stolen to feed the corporate welfare subsidies.

Related Reading:

Why I Don't Trust the "Climate Consensus"

What is the Purpose of Education?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Singer Lauryn Hill Needs to Learn what Real Slavery Is


At her recent sentencing, convicted tax evader Lauryn Hill blamed the music industry. NJ Star-Ledger reporters Jason Grant and Tris McCall report on the singer’s statement before the judge:



She berated the people in the music industry whom she had dealt with since her teenage years. "I was being conceived of as a cash cow—not as a person. I took myself away from society . . . because there were veiled threats."

Pounding the wooden lectern in front of her, she went on: "I am a child of former slaves, who had a system imposed on them—I got into a system" of economic power in the recording industry that was "imposed on me, and all I sought to do was understand it."

Hill needs to learn a thing or two about power.

Slavery in America was entrenched by political power. Slaves in America’s pre-Civil War South were owned by their plantation masters, and that ownership was enforced by law. Slaves were involuntary servants forbidden to act on their own judgement or benefit from their labor and, if any escaped, the full force of the law was employed to recapture them and return them to their slavemaster owners.

Economic power derives from the ability to produce valuable goods or services that others are voluntarily willing to pay for. The music industry’s power to produce and market music enabled Hill to realize her own economic power in the form of millions of dollars in royalties she receives from the industry, her primary source of income. Nobody forced Hill to contract with the music industry (as she once again did with Sony Worldwide Entertainment, note Grant and McCall, as recently as April). Instead, she voluntarily chose to partake of the music industry's economic power to turn her talent into millions.

Political power is the coercive power to enslave—and, as it were, to tax. Hill owed a confiscatory $1 million on $2.3 million of 2005-09 income. As philosopher Harry Binswanger puts it, “The symbol of political power is a gun.”

Economic power is the benevolent power of productive enrichment; symbolized, as Binswanger notes, by the dollar.

Where is the gun in Hill's relationship with the music industry? The only thing evident are dollars. The gun is evident only in her dealings with the government.

Hill's inane diatribe is a profound injustice to her own slave ancestors. She—and all of us—had better learn the difference between political and economic power if we are to avoid the very real possibility of a future enslaved America.

Related Reading:


The Dollar and the Gun by Harry Binswanger

Monday, June 24, 2013

Attack on "Carbon Pollution" an Attack on Human Life

A letter dubbed Moving on Climate Change was published in the 6/24/13 NJ Star-Ledger applauding New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez (D) for signing a letter to President Obama "calling on the president to set limits on carbon pollution from power plants." Frank Iannuzzi of Environment New Jersey concluded:


I applaud Menendez for speaking out, and I urge Obama to tackle global warming with the urgency it requires, most notably by setting strong limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.

I left these comments:

Any restrictions on carbon (i.e., CO2) emissions that hamper energy production is grossly irresponsible. Fossil fuels power most of our electricity needs (not to mention transportation, central heating systems, and many other life-enhancing needs), and without fossil fuels our industrialization is doomed for the foreseeable future. Without industrialization, human beings will once again be at the full mercy of natural disasters (which have always happened, and always will).

Any discussion of fossil fuels should consider their benefits, and the consequences to man of ending their use (which is the environmentalists' ultimate goal). Fossil fuels have vastly improved the planet and made for a vastly better living environment. Even if we concede that man's use of fossil fuels is marginally warming the planet and increasing the severity of storms—a dubious assumption—so what? It should be remembered that without industrialization, which depends primarily on fossil fuels and will for the foreseeable future, life for humans is miserable, short, and deadly.

Rather than adding restrictions, we should be removing restrictions on fossil fuel production and use. A better approach is to adapt by building more and better protections against weather extremes, which fossil fuel-driven industrialization can and has enabled us to do.

Related Reading:

Obama Should Approve the Keystone Pipeline for Economic and Environmental Reasons

Why I Don't Trust the "Climate Consensus"

"Fracking's" Knee-Jerk Enemies






Sunday, June 23, 2013

We Need Full Liberation, not Full Control, of the Food Industry

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of an anti-capitalist outfit called Food and Water Watch and author of "Foodopoly," seeks centralized government control over the food industry in the name of "fighting monopoly." She writes:

We, the people, must reclaim our democracy. We must reestablish strong antitrust laws to begin the work of fixing our broken, corporate-controlled food system. Our food system should work for consumers and farmers, not big agricultural, processing, retail, and chemical conglomerates.

It's obvious Hauter has no idea what a monopoly is or how markets work--about the relationship between producers and consumers--and evades the crucial distinction between political and economic power.

A monopoly can only be created and sustained by government force, because only a government can legally bar competition. The food industry is not monopolized. It will be if the government takes full control.

Political power is the power of physical force. Economic power is the power of production. When Hauter says her organization "tries to fight back against the corporate control of our food system," she attacks the inalienable rights to freedom of production and trade, and calls instead for government control. She apparently forgot about the hunger and food shortages that plagued Soviet Russia despite vastly greater quantities of fertile farmland than we have in America. What does Ms. Hauter mean by "fight back against the corporate control of our food system?" She means to replace the "market power" of productive individuals working cooperatively, which derives from the voluntary choices of consumers, with political power, which is government force derived from a gun.

When Hauter proclaims "We, the people, must reclaim our democracy," she means the government must take control away from actual individuals. She wants to replace market democracy with political democracy. It must be remembered that political democracy is a form of tyranny; essentially a system of rotating elected dictators. Market democracy is true freedom, because it involves consumers "voting" with their wallets; which is the way in which consumer choice determines the success or failure, and the size, of companies. The food "giants" Hauter so fears are granted their size by consumers.

The heroic, incredibly productive companies that Hauter wants to assault--the companies that provide us with an abundance of cheap, wide varieties of quality foods--lobby the government because of the government's regulatory control over their industry. Of course the productive people who own and manage these companies want to influence the government: The politicians and bureaucrats have the power to write "food policy." But silencing free speech is not the answer. Want to end the industry lobbying without trashing the First Amendment? Do it right: Liberate the industry and the market from the unjust, tyrannical antitrust laws and the government's power to regulate and control.

The interests of food producers and consumers do not conflict. The interests both producers and consumers conflict with those who want to violate their rights to freedom of production and trade, not to mention First Amendment rights--with government as the hired gun.

The "very economic system" Hauter mentions is not a free economy. We have a mixed economy of government controls and increasingly limited freedom. Do we want to create a food crisis similar to the increasingly frequent economic crises that government control over money and banking already causes?

Hauter, obsessed over size and "consolidation," imagines a "broken food system" to advance a statist agenda. Do we want a food crisis similar to the "increasingly frequent economic crises" that government control over money and banking already causes? If Hauter can do better, then let her produce and market food and show us how it's done. That's the moral workings of a free market. But, she should stay the hell out of our food pantry. We, the people, as individuals--not government bureaucrats and not her--have the right to decide what food to buy and from whom.

Related Reading:

The First Amendment vs. Antitrust

The Abolition of Antitrust by Gary Hull

A Brief History of U.S. Farm Policy and the Need for Free Market Agriculture by Monica Hughes








Saturday, June 22, 2013

Social Conservatism, not Immigration, is the Republican Party's Big Problem

The Republican Party's only hope of winning the White House in 2016 hinges on passing immigration reform, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.


AP reports that Graham, one of the so-called "gang of eight" senators who wrote the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill, "told conservatives who are trying to block the measure that they will doom the party and all but guarantee a Democrat will remain in the White House after 2016’s election." "[I]f we don’t pass immigration reform. . . ," said Graham, "it doesn’t matter who you run in 2016. We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party. . . ."


Leaving aside the pros and cons of the current CIR bill, the Republican Party's problem is much broader than immigration reform: Its problem is the dominance in the party of social conservatives. These mostly religious conservatives seek to broadly violate rights by legally imposing their own moral agenda, which includes not only hostility toward immigrants but legally banning abortion and gay marriage, restricting or banning stem cell research, ongoing attempts to erode the separation of church and state, etc.


If the GOP wants to save itself, it must adopt a genuine right-wing, pro-liberty platform. This means, it must reject the authoritarian agenda of social conservatives and embrace social liberty.


By adopting social liberty—while also deepening its traditional commitment to free markets and economic liberty—the GOP could draw in liberty lovers from across the political spectrum, many of whom are suspicious of the Dems' economic authoritarianism but are  turned off by social conservatism. As for immigrants, most are drawn to America for the increased freedom, so a consistent, genuine platform of individual liberty would undoubtedly resonate with many of them as well.


But the GOP must orient its agenda around explicit principles—the principles of individual rights and limited, rights-protected government. If they merely pass an immigration bill for political expediency, they won't do much to tip the demographic scales or stem their continuing slide into political irrelevance. Voters can recognize a hollow gesture when they see one.


Purging its platform of the rights-violating elements of the social conservative agenda and embracing liberty across the board is the GOP's best and only path to political dominance in 2016 and beyond.


Related:





An "Extremist" GOP is Just What We Need

Friday, June 21, 2013

Money is Not Speech, but a Means to Speech

This letter appeared in the NJ Star-Ledger on May 10, 2013:


Treat all money as free speech

The First Amendment guarantees the rights of free speech and government petition to all people subject to its laws. In fact, the entire democratic enterprise is founded upon the idea of communication of one’s ideas and opinions to government representatives and officials.Because a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that money is speech (Citizens United decision), it would seem that the laws against giving money to government officials, directly or indirectly, to influence their decisions is not bribery, but only the exercise of First Amendment rights.And if that is indeed the case, then laws criminalizing such monetary speech should be struck from the books and let participatory democracy run rampant.Jack Colldeweih, Somerset

I left these comments:

RE: "Treat all money as speech"

Jack, your comparison of people spending their own money on advocating their ideas to bribery is a moral perversion.

And you're also wrong about the Court's decision.

The court did not rule that money, as such, is speech. It ruled that money is a means to exercising free speech, and thus restricting spending for the purpose of speech violates the First Amendment.

The court is correct. The right to free speech, like all rights, implies the right to employ the means required to exercise that right. When people spend their own money on their own speech, whether as individuals or in voluntary association and cooperation with others--as with a corporation or a labor union--they are well within their moral and First Amendment rights.

Restricting people's right to spend their own money as they judge best is tantamount to restricting their free speech rights. The Supreme Court protected all of our vital free speech rights in the Citizens United case. They most certainly did not sanction actual bribery. If free speech is bribery, then the whole point of "participatory democracy" is bribery. What is the point of free speech and political advocacy, if not to influence the decisions of government officials?

*****

If there is a stench of covert bribery in political and issue advocacy, blame the mixed economy, in which government has the illegitimate power to dispense economic favors to some at the expense of others. If you want to stop that rampant, corrupt practice, reign in the government's power over the economy. Don't trash the First Amendment.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dramatic Advance in Cloning Technology Holds Promise for Dramatic Advance for Medical Treatment

My latest post at The Objective Standard blog highlights a major breakthrough in cloning technology that will enable scientists to produce a virtually unlimited supply of stem cells derived from a patient's own DNA. This will enable personalized medical treatment in the form of replacement of diseased organs and cells without the threat of bodily rejection.

Read Scientists Advance Toward Genetically Perfect Replacements for Diseased Cells.



Cloning is controversial, however. Opposition to cloning comes mostly from religionists based on the mystic mythology that considers an embryo to be a person, in contravention to the obvious physical facts of reality. These opponents claim to be pro-life, even as they seek to subordinate the health of actual living human beings to a microscopic cluster of cells containing stem cells that haven't even begun differentiating into specialized human cells and organs, let alone become an actual human being.

Essentially, there are two types of cloning, reproductive and therapeutic. Most American scientists, reports Melissa Healy in the article I linked to, have (unfortunately) “squarely renounced” reproductive cloning, and 13 states have outlawed it, as have most industrialized countries (though not the U.S. federal government). But the work of the Oregon scientists falls under the category of “therapeutic cloning for research and medical treatment,” for which there is much less resistance among so-called “bioethicists.” Even President Bush’s 2002 The President’s Council on Bioethics, which urged a ban on reproductive cloning, refused to do the same regarding therapeutic cloning.


That doesn’t mean that therapeutic cloning is completely in the clear, however. Seven states ban it, and there are calls—such as from Johns Hopkins University bioethicist Jeffrey Kahn—to enforce “consistent national limits” on the practice. And some states have placed legal limits on compensation for egg donors. This could restrict the supply of donor eggs, which are critical to this avenue of research and treatment. Anyone who values their own and their loved one’s health should fight such rights-violating restrictions.

Still, therapeutic cloning is legal in most states, and that’s great news. While speculating about the ultimate practical benefits of theoretical science is always uncertain, the work of the heroic OHSU scientists should cheer every life-loving human being, for the door to treatments for currently untreatable or incurable diseases has just been cracked open wider—perhaps much wider.


For more of my Objective Standard posts, click here.


Related Reading:


Heroes at Harvard by Craig Biddle

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Eminent Domain Assault by Readington Against Solberg Land is Democracy in Action—and Un-American

My hometown of Readington Township, New Jersey, has been the scene of a long-running battle over a large swath of land surrounding Solberg Airport. This is a small local airport owned by the Solberg family, descendants of aviation pioneer Thor Solberg. The township wants to seize 725 acres of the Solberg's undeveloped land that surrounds its 102 acre facility, to preserve as "open space." Underlying the drive to keep Readington "green" is the fear that Solberg may eventually be expanded, possibly into a major regional jetport akin to JFK International.

In an article titled Readington continues legal battles to keep land around Solberg Airport green, Renee Kiriluk-Hill writes:

The process is driven, in part, by a $22 million bond ordinance that voters approved in 2006. The approval essentially requires the township to either acquire 625 open acres surrounding the airport and the development rights to about 100 acres used for airport operations, or to negotiate a settlement with the airport owners.This year the township is budgeting $275,000 for legal expenses for the Solberg case and routine business before the Township Committee, Planning Board and other local government bodies. 

I love the term "negotiate" in this context. The Solberg's choice is either to "agree" to "voluntarily" sell their land to Readington, or have it seized through eminent domain. If this sounds like a mob boss "making an offer you can't refuse," it is exactly that. To call that a "negotiation" is an insult to any rational person's intelligence.

The editors of the Hunterdon County Democrat subsequently argued that "Taxpayers have a right to decide for themselves if they are getting the value they deserve for continuing the legal dispute with the Solbergs." 

Both miss the crucial point. Both the editors and Kiriluk-Hill speak of "voters" and "taxpayers" as if they are homogeneous wholes; i.e., entities separate from and above individual voters and taxpayers. But what about taxpayers who oppose the entire initiative, rendering that question moot?

That question was the subject of my letter-to-the-editor published in the Hunterdon County Democrat under the heading The government is abusing its legal powers in Readington:


"To the editor:

"In a May 21 article on NJ.com about Readington continuing it legal battles to keep land around Solberg Airport green, Renee Kiriluk-Hill reported that this year Readington has budgeted thousands of dollars for 'legal expenses' related to this 'battle,' as has been the case over the past eight years. She notes that, 'The process is driven, in part, by a $22 million bond ordinance that voters approved in 2006.'

"But not all voters approved of this bond issue, which underpins the efforts to seize the Solberg’s land through eminent domain. That there are voters who didn't vote for the bond issue might seem obvious, but this fact deserves serious consideration.

"I oppose eminent domain on moral grounds. Whether the purpose is to keep land 'green' or to head off airport expansion, it is simply unjust to use government’s legal powers — essentially the power of the gun — to confiscate private land against the owner’s wishes. It is likewise unjust to force those who disagree to finance this outrage through their taxes.

"Some would say to me, 'That’s democracy, majority rules.' Yes, it is, and that is the most damning indictment of democracy: that it grants the majority the power to trample the rights and violate the consciences of the minority. The government should not have the power to impose any voting bloc’s desire to violate others’ rights.

"Government’s proper purpose is to protect individual rights, including rights to property and freedom of conscience, from criminals who violate rights by initiating force or fraud. The legal assault against the Solbergs, being pursued under the veneer of false legitimacy accorded by democracy, turns the government’s very reason for being on its head."  

The township claims the right to seize the land in order to preserve it as "open space" and to prevent the airport from being expanded. My sense is that using eminent domain to stop development is a much harder sell in the courts than the open space rational. But, make no mistake, fear of a larger airport is the driving force behind the issue. When  the issue first arose, it was controversial. The township was sprinkled with competing signs, some demanding "No Jets," and others stating "Stop Eminent Domain! It is Un-American." 

My wife and I plan to live in Readington for a long time, so I do not want to see Solberg expanded into a jetport. But  the erosion of property and other individual rights is the real threat to our well-being. The Solbergs have an inalienable right to use their property as they see fit, so long as that use doesn't violate the rights of others—that is, initiate force or fraud against others. If this means I may someday have to live in a town with a jetport, so be it.

Doesn't the community have a say in the matter? No. The "community," as such, has no rights, because it doesn't exist as an entity. Like any other group by any other name (voters, taxpayers), a community is a loose aggregate of individuals, who each possess rights individually. If the community has the right to impose its will on individuals, then in practice some individuals have the right to impose their will on other individuals. No one can have that right: That is, no one has the right to declare "the community, c'est moi," and impose "the community's" will on others at the point of a governmental gun.

Don't surrounding residents, as individuals, have rights? Of course; the same rights as the Solbergs. If they believe that airport operations pose an objective physical danger to their lives and property, beyond the normal risks associated with air travel, they can seek government action (through the courts) to have those risks remediated. For a good explanation of how the rights of surrounding residents play into this issue, listen to Yaron Brook answer the question Should the government regulate the use of private property if that use creates risks for its neighbors?  

The government does have a role in mediating disputes among individuals. But it has no role outside of the context of a physical threat to the lives and properties of others, and may not regulate or prohibit the use of property simply because some people feel that they may be inconvenienced.

Of course, what I just described is relevant in a free market, and we don't have a free market today. The government does regulate airports. In the current context, the Solbergs would have to apply to state and federal aviation agencies for any expansion plans. Be that as it may, that is their right, and so is it the local residents' right to participate in that process as proscribed by law. The threat to steal the Solberg's land should not be part of that process.

Related Reading:

Eminent Domain—Always an Abuse

Honoring American Heroes...Forgetting American Ideals






Monday, June 17, 2013

Is the Right to Life the "Right to Be?"

This letter appeared recently in the NJ Star-Ledger, under the heading "Bad Decisions":


More than 150 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in the Dred Scott decision that blacks should be “considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings.” Fortunately, the 14th Amendment overturned that decision. 
Forty years ago, the Supreme Court declared in Roe v. Wade that a baby growing inside its mother should not be considered “human” but instead disposable. 
The Constitution, in guaranteeing all citizens “right to life,” assures we have the right to “be,” whether in the womb or outside. The Supreme Court does not always decide wisely. It’s time to overturn a bad decision. 
Carolyn Glodek, Colonia

I left the following comments:

RE: Bad Decisions

The Constitution, in guaranteeing all citizens “right to life,” assures we have the right to “be,” whether in the womb or outside. -- Carolyn Glodek, Colonia

The constitution guarantees no such thing. If the "right to life" meant simply the right to "be," then the rights of any political prisoner rotting in any dictator's dungeon are not being violated so long as he receives minimal food, water, and shelter. The same goes for any slave held for forced labor. 


Rights can not be understood except in their total context. The Declaration of Independence, the philosophical blueprint for the constitution, recognizes the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Without the liberty to act on one's own judgment, one cannot pursue his own happiness, thus stifling his life. Life and liberty are inextricably interlinked. Clearly, this context applies to actual, living, born individuals, not potential or developing humans beings inside of a woman's womb. The 14th Amendment clearly supports this view: It refers specifically to "All persons born or naturalized in the United States..."


The right to life applies to the woman and the woman only.  There is no right to be, only the right to pursue one's own being; i.e., no right to life at the price of another person's life and liberty. If a fetus has  a "right to life" at the expense of the woman's rights to life and liberty, then her rights are not unalienable, and the whole concept that Americanism rests upon evaporates. Here again, the 14th Amendment: "nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." If the "rights" of the unborn supersede the actual rights of the born person, then that person--the woman--is being denied "equal protection" of her rights if she is forbidden from deciding for herself on reproductive issues. We either have rights "in the womb" or "outside" the womb, but not both. 


The very idea that rights apply only inside the womb, then disappear at birth, is absurd on its face. If the woman doesn't have a right to her life, then on what basis do the unborn have rights?


The reference to slavery in Glodek's letter is indeed analogous: Compelling a woman to continue a pregnancy against her will is akin to slavery.


One final note: Glodek states that "Roe v. Wade [declared] that a baby growing inside its mother should not be considered 'human' but instead disposable." That's not what Rowe said. Of course, a fetus is human. The issue is rights.

Related Reading:

Abortion: It's When Rights, not Life, Begin

My 3-part Abortion Statement, listed in reverse order.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Immigration is Both Moral and Practical

On Immigration Reform, the GOP Gangs Up on Blue-Collar Workers, NJ columnist Paul Mulshine challenges the GOP's immigration reform supporters who argue that we need more immigrants to fill an alleged "labor shortage." 

Mulshine's retort: "There are no jobs Americans won’t do. There are only jobs Americans won’t pay to have done.

He goes on to say that these GOPers support for immigration "amounts to a double-cross of America’s blue-collar workers."

Mulshine highlights the futility of relying on the collectivist utilitarian argument in support of a rights-based immigration policy, and avoiding the fundamental moral issues involved in the immigration debate. The utilitarian argument opened the door to Mulshine's attack.

I left these comments:

Fundamentally, the immigration issue doesn't revolve around utilitarian arguments. The question is moral: What right does anyone have to stop any person who poses no health, criminal, or national security risk from working and living in America (or any country), and employers from voluntarily hiring them?

Citizenship is another matter, and that issue should be separated from any immigration bill. While morally upstanding people have an inalienable right to live and work where they choose, their is no right to naturalized citizenship. Immigration and citizenship are separate issues.


I view freedom of migration and freedom of trade as inextricably linked. Just as free trade is a moral right, so too is free migration. There is no justification for saying we should have open borders for the flow of goods, but not people.


Americans are not a collective that owns the continent any more than the Indians owned it. Just as others rightfully immigrated here in the past, so too may others do so today. In crafting our immigration policy, we should remember the exalted status of the individual codified in the Declaration of Independence, and the plaque inside the Statue of Liberty stating the Land of the Free's openness to liberty-seekers.


Others replied to my comments, to which I added the following:

The struggling jobs market has to do with the increasingly crushing regulatory welfare state, not immigration or free trade. In the 19th Century, America grew from an impoverished third-rate colony to the world's greatest industrial power. There was no welfare state to speak of and minimal government interference into the economy. Yet the economy grew dramatically (despite the drag of high tariffs), particularly between the Civil War and WW I. Real wages rose steadily, life expectancy grew, the standard of living soared, and the middle class was born. All of this happened, and  jobs were plentiful, even as the country absorbed millions upon millions of mostly poor immigrants. Immigrants not only fill jobs, but start businesses and create them.

But again, the issue is moral, not utilitarian. And the moral is the practical, which is why a rational, just open immigration policy would be a boon to the economy. I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with Mr. Mulshine on this. We need to focus on reigning in statism within our borders, not people who want to live and work here.


Yes, Marylou, as people you can compare [past immigrants to today's]. The only difference is that many of today's immigrants are relegated to black market status by unfair immigration laws. (I realize that a growing percentage of immigrants come here to feed off of our welfare state. But, that's a welfare state problem, not fundamentally an immigration problem.)

No one should have to pay for food stamps, because no one is entitled to another person's wallet. Forced redistribution of wealth is immoral and corrupt in all of its forms, whether the recipient is from across the globe or across the street, legal or illegal.

Related Reading:

Time to Rethink Immigration

The Truth about Trade in History, CATO

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Big Government vs. Big Business; or, Political Power vs. Economic Power

This letter appeared in the NJ Star-Ledger on April 26, 2013:


Tax rates don’t matter 
One need go no further than Page 11 of the April 25 Star-Ledger ("Corporate tax-dodging is simply unpatriotic") to refute the finding of PolitiFact N.J. on Page 9 of the same edition.
While it may be technically true that the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, no corporation actually pays it. Factoring in creative accounting, subsidies, loopholes and offshore tax havens, corporations pay little or no tax.
A Feb. 7 Star-Ledger article states, "The amount of taxes that companies and wealthy individuals avoided paying in 2011 thanks to overseas tax havens would equal New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s reported salary for the next 185 years, the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group found."
It is not big government that is the enemy. It is Big Business, Big Corporations and Big Banks that are bleeding the American taxpayer dry and destroying the middle class.
Barbara Wirkus, Kenilworth
I left the following comments:

RE: Tax Rates Don't Matter

"It is not big government that is the enemy. It is Big Business, Big Corporations and Big Banks that are bleeding the American taxpayer dry and destroying the middle class."

Barbara, how is it that companies legally keeping more of the money they earn by providing goods, services, and jobs is "bleeding the American taxpayer dry and destroying the middle class?" The money the government doesn't tax doesn't come out of other taxpayers pockets, and the middle class wouldn't exist if not for those goods, services, and jobs.

Your conclusion is morally inverted. It is those who want "Big Government" to seize more of these company's earnings who are looking to do the bleeding and destroying.


At the root of this letter is Wirkus's evasion of the difference between government and private entities; of force vs. non-force. She not only equivocates between the two; she inverts them. This is akin to pinning the badge of morality to the armed robber, and tagging his victim as the bad guy.

Related Reading:

Patriotism and the Welfare State

Obama, "the Lord's Work," and the Real Goliath

The Dollar and the Gun by Harry Binswanger

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Glory Days of America's "Robber Barons"

In response to the article Corporate Tax Dodging is Simply Unpatriotic that I blogged on yesterday, a correspondent sarcastically replied to another's comments with:

By all means let's return to the good old days of Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller because life was so much better for the working class. Andrew Carnegie would treat a drill bit better than the guy who used it.
In fact, the first sentence is literally true, in large part because the second sentence is completely false. As Burton W. Folsom, Jr. explains in The Myth of the Robber Barons,  Andrew Carnegie valued his employees, rewarding productiveness through a "a merit system":


Strong incentives were given employees who . . . excelled. Carnegie explained that success "flows from having interested exceptional men in our service; thus only can we develop ability and hold it in our service."

One of the dopiest fantasies espoused by anti-business, anti-capitalist mentalities is that business success can be built on cheating the customers and trashing the employees. It's astounding how many people swallow this gunk, despite the fact that a few minutes of thought would expose the illogic of the idea.

I left this reply:

These three were productive geniuses who raised the general standard of living. Carnegie dramatically lowered the cost of steel, supercharging myriad steel-using industries from construction to autos to railroads to farm equipment and more. Rockefeller perfected and lowered the cost of oil products such as kerosene, bringing economical nighttime illumination to average folk for the first time (displacing expensive whale oil, which only the wealthy could afford) and, later, feeding the automobile industry with cheap gasoline. These two together created indespensible necessities of the advanced industrial civilization we enjoy today. Morgan sent surges of prosperity through the economy by providing vital capital to promising companies, technologies, and innovators such as Thomas Edison. The "working class" has rarely had such valuable benefactors. Their fortunes are a pittance compared to the value they added to the lives of untold millions.

Yes, by all means lets return to the days when the Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Morgans could once again flourish without the drag of soak-the-rich parasites.


As Andrew Bernstein notes in his article The Inventive Period, "To defend freedom against the distortions of the anti-capitalist historians it is important to reject the inaccurate and opprobrious title of 'the Gilded Age' for the late nineteenth century."

Related Reading:

The Myth of the Robber Barons by Burton W. Folsom Jr.

Patriotism and the Welfare State

Capitalism in No Way Created Poverty, It Inherited It by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins