Sunday, February 26, 2012

An Unconscionable Assault on the Sick

What would you call a man who would block a dieing person from receiving a life-giving medical treatment because a healthy person might profit from being that sick person's benefactor? You would call that man President Barack Obama.

Learn the dispicable truth in my latest post at The Objective Standard Blog: Obama’s “Cruel Disregard” for the Sick—and the Well

Monday, February 20, 2012

Time to Minimize "Macroeconomics"

I remember when, in 1981, the stock market fell sharply immediately following passage of President Ronald Reagan’s tax cut package. When asked what he thought about Wall Street’s plunge, Reagan quipped, "I have never found Wall Street to be a source of good economic advice." I’d say the same thing about many of today’s economists. Why? In part because too many rely on a form of pseudo-economics, which we call "macroeconomics".

Macroeconomics is defined by Investopedia as follows:

The field of economics that studies the behavior of the aggregate economy.
Macroeconomics examines economy-wide phenomena such as changes in unemployment,
national income, rate of growth, gross domestic product, inflation and price

Macroeconomics is focused on the movement and trends in the economy
as a whole, while in microeconomics the focus is placed on factors that affect
the decisions made by firms and individuals. The factors that are studied by
macro and micro will often influence each other, such as the current level of
unemployment in the economy as a whole will affect the supply of workers which
an oil company can hire from, for example. [Investopedia]

"Put … simply, the whole idea of macroeconomics is a fraud." – Steve Forbes

Amen! But it’s worse than a fraud. As Forbes points out, macroeconomics "has been a critical enabler for the obese growth of Big Government"; in other words, statism. It has served as a rationalization for government central planners to "do something" to correct real or imagined problems – imposed on us with our wealth through taxing and government spending, and at the expense of our freedom.

The economics profession has been corrupted by the absurdity called macroeconomics – the study of the economy "as a whole"; i.e., without focussing on actual human beings. In the definition cited above, notice the statement: "The factors that are studied by macro and micro will often influence each other." Often? When does the micro – "decisions made by firms and individuals" - not "influence" the "the economy as a whole?" When you cut through all of the political rhetoric and rationalizations, it all boils down to a very simple answer; whenever the policymakers feel like it. The "not" is the opening wedge of the fraud. The separation of the macro from the micro – i.e., the forest from the trees, meaning of the economy from the people – leads to the disconnect of economic policy from economic reality. With no connection to reality – i.e., any rational, objective standard – politicians are free to offer up any rationalization for their economic policies their whims – and their power-lust - dictate.

Just what is the "whole" as apart from individual firms and people?

The economy is not some disembodied entity that can be studied in an abstract statistical vacuum. Statistics may give you a lead, but they are rarely definitive, and should never be the primary basis for government policy.

Fundamentally, the economy is the production and trade engaged in by single, autonomous individuals thinking, acting, and interacting with each other, each in pursuit of some goal of his own. Consumption is the final result of this process. The economy begins with production. The fundamental source of production is thinking; human reason. Productive work, the next step, is the application of reason to physical labor, which leads to the creation of valuable products that can be traded for the products produced in the same manner by other human beings. Underneath all of the complexities of a modern economy is this basic process. All of it is long-term oriented; i.e., a process of planning ahead. The more complex the productive process, the more long-term the thinking is and must be. Money doesn’t alter this process. It merely facilitates it – and, unfortunately, serves to camouflage its nature. Without the productive process, there can be no money.

Modern macroeconomics ignores this whole process, and zeros in on statistics. For example, it measures economic activity not in terms of wealth production but in terms of money changing hands, which are not synonymous. Then you get such idiocy as the accepted "wisdom" that consumer spending is 70% of the economy, as if you can consume twice as much as you produce. You get nonsense like the idea that destruction – war, natural disaster, etc – "spurs" economic growth because of the rebuilding that follows, evading the fact that the rebuilding entails resources diverted from the production of new wealth toward the replacing of the previously existing. Plenty of money changed hands, but on balance no new wealth was added. But based only upon statistics, the GDP would have grown.

Under macroeconomic premises, you get meaningless phrases like "aggregate demand" and "deficiency of demand" and simplistic plans to "stimulate" that demand, ignoring the only true source of "consumer demand" – the consumer’s own productive work. You get quick fixes like temporary tax credits to entice a businessman - who thinks years ahead - to hire someone now. You get "to add or keep 275,000 jobs" for $447 billion, according to projections for Obama’s latest stimulus proposal; $1,625,455 per job, paid for by a fortune sucked out of the real private economy. That's a big bump in GDP, but a drag on the real economy. You get nonsensical ideas such as that the government can "jump-start the economy" by forcibly transferring money from some people to others. These policies may appear to "work" because of the vast amounts of money changing hands, evading the fact that wealth has merely been transferred from more productive activities to less productive political favorites, hurting the economy - and violating the rights of those whose wealth was taken, to boot.

There is an old saying: Never lose sight of the forest for the trees. There is nothing wrong with incorporating a macro view of the economy, as a part of economic study. But the corollary - never lose sight of the trees for the forest – is the more crucial flip side of the economics coin. The economy doesn’t exist independent of the productive interactions of actual people. Otherwise, we might as well program the Mars rovers to study the Martian economy. Absurd as that sounds, the essential premise of modern macroeconomics, which originated with the theories of John Meynard Keynes and others, is just that; an economy floating above the reality of actual people.

Washington’s most recent stimulus package - President Obama’s second and the fourth since the arrival of the Great Recession in 2007 – has stalled in congress. Counting such smaller idiocies as Cash-for-Clunkers and temporary subsidies for homebuyers, we’ve lost count. The idea was to increase consumer demand, and thus create jobs. Create jobs? We’ve been reduced to hearing our president brag – with a straight face - about how many jobs were saved! I’ve coined the term "OBushonomics" to describe the policies of the past four-plus years. (Although the modern concept behind the Bush and Obama administrations’ policies goes back to the 1930s, the basic theory of consumption-based economics dates back to 17th century mercantilism. See George Reisman at Mises Daily.

To understand why OBushonomics stimulus # 4 won’t "work" any more than the other 3, the fog of two false premises must be cleared away; the primitive collectivist notion that all wealth belongs to the tribe (society), to be doled out by the tribal chiefs (the government), and the fraudulent obscenity of "macroeconomics", which encompasses the first. Both premises ignore the real source of economic vitality - actual, individual human beings.

Want to know if a particular idea will "work"? Relate it to actual individual people.

If I robbed a convenience store, and used the cash to buy a car, I have created autoworkers’ jobs – on the government stimulus premise. Obama’s latest "jobs" bill is that on a national scale, and nothing more. Only the foggy mind of a collectivist or a macroeconomist can evade its nature. But, as a famous philosopher once said, "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." The consequences of robbing some people to employ someone else is immoral and non-productive, and thus spiritually and economically destructive.

Real jobs are those that result from voluntary interactions of thinking productive people. An individual starts a business – he has created a job for himself. He draws customers who voluntarily buy his work product, he pays his suppliers and other costs, and he makes money in the only valid honorable sense: He created value. If he is successful, more and more people desire his product, and he reaches the point when his intellectual energy and ambition exceeds his physical capacity alone to meet his customers’ "demand." He then hires one or more people who voluntarily agree to help him, at mutually agreed-upon wages – he has created jobs for others, who become customers for other businesses created in the same manner. All through the process, voluntary agreement to mutual advantage, not force, is the foundation. All through the process, value is created for all involved, to no one’s detriment. The required social condition for this process is a free market – freedom from forcible interference by criminals or government officials. Force is the enemy of production. Prosperity is built on voluntary, win-win contractual agreements – people getting better together.

The issue is not jobs, but moral, productive jobs vs. immoral parasitical jobs – which means freedom vs. government force. In a free market, jobs abound with no one sacrificed to anyone. When the government supercedes the free market, jobs go to special interests paid for out of the financial hides of the sacrificial victims’ forcibly confiscated property – a lose-win proposition. Any slave state can create jobs. Only free individuals can create real jobs. Get the government out of the way, liberate individuals to think, work, trade, and contract freely, and prosperity follows. Unfortunately, we are a long way from a free economy, as the ongoing economic stagnation attests to. We’ll know we’re on the right track when politicians stop making phony promises about how they will create jobs, and real statesmen arise to, as Forbes columnist Wayne Crews points out, "get things undone" – to undo collectivism, macroeconomics, and hence government interference (Or, more precisely, to leave the doing to free private individuals).

Macroeconomics is not just a nonsensical fraud. By rationalizing consumption-based economics, it is a grave injustice. George Reisman writes:

The idea that by consuming his product, one benefits the producer, by giving him
the work to do of making possible one's consumption, is absurd... Only the use
of money lends it the least semblance of plausibility. If it were true, then
every slave who ever lived should have cherished his master's every whim, the
satisfaction of which required of him more work. A slave should have been
grateful if his master desired a larger house, an improved road, more food, more
parties, and so on; for the provision of the means of satisfying these desires
would have given him correspondingly more work to do.

The belief that the consumption of the government benefits and helps to support the economic system
is on precisely the same footing … as the belief that the consumption of the
master benefits and supports the slave. It is a belief the absurdity of which is
matched only by the injustice it makes possible. It is the means by which
parasitical pressure groups, employing the government as an agent of plunder,
seek to delude their victims into imagining that they are benefited and
supported by those who take their products and give them nothing in return.

Stimulus always fails, for this very reason. Private consumers work for the money they spend, thus producing their own demand. Stimulus politicians - from liberals like Obama to pseudo-conservatives like Bush - do not create demand. They simply steal it.

The source of consumer spending is productive work. The source of government demand-side stimulus policies is economic plunder.

The antidote to macroeconomics is real economics such as embodied in Say's Law of Markets. Say’s law, as Wayne Crews explains in Forbes, is...

…reverentially referred to by another unappreciated market economist, William H.
Hutt, as the "most fundamental economic law" in all economic theory. It
enunciates the principle that "demands in general" are "supplies in
general"--different aspects of one phenomenon."

Or, as Ayn Rand puts it:

But, in fact, consumers qua consumers are not part of anyone’s market; qua
consumers, they are irrelevant to economics. Nature does not grant anyone an
innate title of "consumer"; it is a title that has to be earned—by production.
Only producers constitute a market—only men who trade products or services for
products or services. In the role of producers, they represent a market’s
"supply"; in the role of consumers, they represent a market’s "demand." The law
of supply and demand has an implicit subclause: that it involves the same people
in both capacities.

Or, as Steve Forbes explains:

Adam Smith taught that economic activity is composed of transactions between two
or more parties. For example, I go to a restaurant: They give me food; in return
I give them money, which the eatery then uses to pay for such things as
salaries, utilities, raw food, etc. So, as Amity [Shlaes] asks, how in the world
can consumer spending make up 70% of the economy? We're all consumers, and we're
all suppliers.

All emphasis is mine. The point must be driven home: Only producers are consumers, because only production makes consumption possible. I am not an economist. But one does not have to be an economist to know that ideas must be grounded in reality. Modern macroeconomics is not. It is a tool of state empowerment, and nothing else.

The destructive long-term course America is on can only be reversed when we challenge certain accepted conventional premises. Macroeconomics is one of them. In regard to this last, Steve Forbes believes the turn is at hand:

There's one big story this year [2011] that won't garner headlines but will have
a profound impact on our future: The edifice of post-Great Depression economics
is coming under an ultimately mortal intellectual assault. And a good thing,

Is Forbes’ "Copernican Revolution" in economics really at hand? Let’s hope so. Only when we realize that we must never lose sight of the trees for the forest, and minimize macroeconomics to the status of a tool of economics whose theories must be validated by real-world facts will we begin to see rational economic policies coming out of Washington.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Double Standard of the Catholic Church

The Obama Administration's contraversial birth control mandate has ignited a furor that has the Religious Right demanding that the consciences of religious believers be respected based upon the First Amendment. But this demand, however rightious, rings hollow in the face of the Catholic Church's own long-held ideals. I commented on this in my TOS Blog piece How the Catholic Church Paved the Way for the Birth Control Mandate. Here is the opening sentence:

Catholics angry at President Obama over the insurance mandate to cover birth control should blame one organization above all others: the Catholic Church.

Read the rest.

Related Reading:

Benedict XVI Condemns "Unregulated Capitalism", 1/1/13

Monday, February 13, 2012

On the Definition of the Concept "Marriage"

Following my recent TOS Blog post Message to Gov. Christie and His Critics: Gay Marriage is a Moral Right, a correspondent asked, "[W]ouldn't a better solution be to call homosexual contracts something else while not restricting their rights?" You can read my answer in my post, Should a “homosexual contract” be called something other than marriage?

Champion of His Own Victims: Obama's New HARP Rule

President Obama announced a new government-backed home refinance program. I commented on this at The Objective Standard. Here are the opening sentences:

President Obama recently announced an expansion of the Federal Government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). This new initiative seeks to help homeowners who can not refinance their mortgages at today’s low rates because their homes’ values have dropped below their mortgage balances. Obama, who places the blame for the crisis squarely on lenders and banks, says this initiative helps “more than 10 million homeowners in this country who, because of a decline in home prices that is no fault of their own, owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.”

Read the rest of my essay, The Government Should Extend Freedom, not HARP

Friday, February 10, 2012

What About the Freedom of Non-Catholics, Mike Spina?

In a column in the 1/31/12 NJ Star-Ledger, “Health care ruling an attack on Catholicism,” Mike Spina urges President Obama to retract a January 20th, 2012 “Department of Health and Human Services … ruling that [would require that], under the Affordable Care Act, virtually all employers must offer sterilization and contraceptive services free of charge in their employees’ health insurance plans by Aug. 1, 2013. The ruling would also cover abortifacients, or drugs that induce abortion.” This would violate Catholic teaching, says Mr. Spina, therefor the ruling should be rescinded. Spina writes:

Why is this ruling so dangerous? The religious objection is obvious to Catholics. Providing these services would be tantamount to asking Catholic institutions to be complicit in the prevention of life or in the possible murder of a human being, albeit one still in the mother’s womb. That is the equivalent of asking Catholic institutions to renounce their religious beliefs. For Catholics and the Catholic church [sic], this is the line drawn in the sand, the line that cannot be crossed.

I am a Democrat who voted for Barack Obama and might do so again. But this ruling must be changed to allow exemptions for all religious institutions, not just houses of worship. Employees at Catholic institutions were not forced to take jobs with their employers, nor are they forced to stay in employment. They have a choice to seek employment elsewhere. Catholic institutions should not be forced to contradict their religious beliefs.

So what can be done?

First, Obama must order his HHS secretary to retract this ruling in order to maintain the current exemption for not just houses of worship, but for all religiously affiliated institutions. Call or write the White House and ask the president to do this. Do the same thing with your congressman and senators.

Freedom must be fought for or it is easily lost.

This ruling is a good lesson in the fragile, interlocking nature of freedom: how rights violations in one area lead to rights violations in another. There are multiple lessons here.

First, the fact that some government bureaucrat can assault so basic a right as freedom of religion and conscience through a simple rule-making process illustrates that ObamaCare is totalitarian in essence.

Second, when we granted government the power to violate the rights of private citizens to make their own decisions on healthcare and health insurance, we granted the government the power to violate all rights.

Third, the mantra that under ObamaCare we could keep our current health insurance if we are satisfied with it is exposed as the lie that it always was. We are now under the dictatorial rule of HHS, which under ObamaCare can arbitrarily alter or abolish any health plan it doesn’t like.

Fourth, the denial that ObamaCare is a complete takeover of American medicine is exposed as the lie that it always was. In fact, those 2000+ pages are chock full of authorizations for federal bureaucratic regulatory powers over every aspect of medicine and, as can now be seen, beyond. ObamaCare is socialism through the back door. It is fascism.

Mr. Spina is right about the ruling. The government has no right to impose insurance mandates on unwilling Catholic Institutions. But neither does the government have the right to impose any mandates on any American, for the same reasons given here, and those Catholics now complaining about this ruling should ask themselves: Do you support other aspects of the bill? Other mandates such as the ban on pre-existing conditions, the individual mandate, or any other coercive rights-violating aspects of ObamaCare? If yes, then what right have you to complain.

But I would go further. Spina states that “Catholic institutions should not be forced to contradict their religious beliefs.” Fair enough. But I ask why should anyone be forced to contradict his or her fundamental beliefs, religious or secular? I believe that government-forced redistribution of wealth is immoral, that same-sex couples have a right to a marriage contract, that women have a right to end a pregnancy. Yet the Catholic Church supports rights-violating welfare state programs, legal bans on abortion and contraception, and denying gays basic legal marital rights.

Like the Catholic leadership, Spina apparently supports ObamaCare, as he says “The Affordable Care Act did many good things, primarily making health insurance affordable and available to those who might not otherwise be able to purchase it.” Except that now, it has turned around to bite him. Well, what has the HHS ruling done, if not make health insurance “available to those who might not otherwise be able to purchase it” – insurance for such healthcare services as “sterilization and contraceptive services, … abortifacients, or drugs that induce abortion?” Does Spina support expanded healthcare, or not? Yes, just not that healthcare. Employees at Catholic institutions “have a choice to seek employment elsewhere?” But the same can be said of employees anywhere, so why shouldn’t all employers be granted exemptions in their insurance plans based upon their beliefs regarding what should or should not be covered? Because only religious beliefs should be protected? Of course, that freedom to opt out would shatter the power that ObamaCare was designed to grant government bureaucrats; the same ObamaCare that Spina supported and the same bureaucrats that Catholic institutions are now a victim of. The hypocrisy is thick.

President Obama just announced a "tweaking" of the rule, to shift the financial cost of the mandate to the insurance companies. This "compromise" would still require birth control coverage for women employees at Catholic institutions, however. It remains to be seen if that will placate the Church. But the fundamental issue remains. For Catholics who advocate the violations of property or any other rights, or seek to impose their religious views on others, don’t ask for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for you. The chickens are now flocking home to roost in ways too numerous to recount.

Yes, Mr. Spina, “Freedom must be fought for or it is easily lost.” So true: So start fighting, Mike Spina. Start fighting for free market healthcare. That “line drawn in the sand, the line that cannot be crossed?” – that line between freedom and tyranny is not just for Catholics. It’s for everyone. And either everyone is protected, or no one is. That much is clear.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Governor Christie Steps In It

The New Jersey democratically controlled legislature is advancing a bill to legalize gay marriage, with almost certain odds of passage. Governor Chris Christie has vowed to veto the bill. He should have stopped there, but he didn't. As a result, in an act of political punting, he raised some hackles, and in the process raised some fundamental questions about individual rights.

I commented on this episode in a post at the Objective Standard Blog. Here are the opening sentences:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ignited a political furor when he vowed to veto a bill recently introduced in the state legislature legalizing gay marriage because he believed the issue should be decided by popular vote through a public referendum. In so doing, he said “I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South."

Click here to read the rest.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Greed" is a Two-Way Street

A 1/15/12 article in the NJ Star-Ledger played the "corporate greed" card against a company for its decision to move its operations to Connecticut. In Corporate greed cost N.J. 250 jobs and business with deep roots, Carol Freedman condemns New Brunswick Scientific of Edison for shutting down 250 jobs in order to relocate based on tax considerations:

In late 2007, when my father was elderly and infirm, NBS was sold to Eppendorf, a German life sciences company. As difficult as it was for him to let go of his life’s work, my father was comforted by Eppendorf’s promise to keep the company in central New Jersey, supporting hundreds of workers’ families.

On Nov. 30, 2011, Eppendorf closed the doors of NBS and moved what was left of the operation to Connecticut. The state of Connecticut had lured the new owners with tax breaks, and the result was the loss of 250 jobs in Central Jersey. On the last day of work, a banner was hung on the front of the building: CORP. GREED! 250 JOBS LEAVE NJ.

What Eppendorf did to the New Brunswick Scientific company goes well beyond legitimate and reasonable corporate decision-making; it sadly illustrates the reasons so many Americans have lost faith with big business and Wall Street. There is a reason the Occupy Wall Street protests captured the imagination of this country.

Freedman doesn't define "legitimate and reasonable corporate decision-making." Nor does she tell us whether other considerations were relevant to NBS's decision. One thing is sure: considering the enormous role that government's tax grab plays in the economy, tax considerations would certainly qualify as "legitimate and reasonable" by any - well - reasonable standard.

But Freedman, consistent with OWS premises, implicitly accepts tax policy-induced distortion of corporate decision-making as the given: government can do no wrong. But not so for NBS, which "showed no consideration [and] no thanks or gratitude ... to the people who had worked for NBS for years." "Eager to take a tax break in a different state," Freedman writes, "Eppendorf [the foreign-owned parent company] broke the social compact that was supposed to typify labor-management relations for the past century — a commitment to the workers that goes beyond just a paycheck at the end of the week." Instead, this "foreign-based company" exhibited "an indifference to the lives of workers abroad, a commitment to the bottom [line]."

What about the commitment of workers to the company that goes beyond a commitment to their bottom line - their paycheck? "Social Compact" is the concept that denotes the basic rules of conduct the people of a given society mutually agree to abide by. The term originated with Thomas Hobbes, a proponent of state supremacy. It has since taken on a more generic meaning, to be defined by each given culture. The original American version upheld the supremacy of reason and its political corollary; a free nation of individuals possessing unalienable individual rights to govern his/her own life, each in pursuit of his/her own personal happiness and fulfillment, under a regime of free mutually beneficial trade. America's social compact can be boiled down to these few words; mutual respect for each other's moral right to live his/her own life.

Freedman dismisses, by omission, America's original social compact; the compact of individual freedom that led to the unprecedented, near miraculous explosion of living standards of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the simultaneous eradication of such ancient horrors as 50% pre-industrial child mortality rates, child labor, and slavery. Instead, she refers to the social compact that has gradually been replacing the original over the past one hundred years; the compact of the socialist/fascist/statist forces; the compact of the sacrificing of the interests of some for the unearned benefit of others that gave this nation accelerating government control, diminishing freedom, and the entitlement state of America we have today.

In response, and in line with the premise I hold that capitalists must take the moral high ground that is rightfully theirs, I submitted a letter to the Star-Ledger, which was published in the print addition on 1/21/12. In the on-line version, the S-L titled it What about worker greed?. Here is my LTE (notice the accompanying picture, which creates a nice contrast:

In response to Carol Freedman’s charge of “corporate greed” against the owner of the NBS company for its move to Connecticut that cost 250 New Jersey jobs (“When business turns its back on its employees,” Jan. 15), I ask: What about worker greed?

Every year, especially in good times, millions of workers quit their jobs to pursue better life opportunities. Are they greedy for showing “no consideration” for the company that provided them with employment and a paycheck? A job is a two-way street — i.e., a voluntary contract. Both the employer and employee have a moral right to terminate that contract, consistent with its terms. In fact, neither should be condemned as greedy. Both the businessman and the employee have a fundamental right to pursue his/her own self-interest and happiness, and neither has an automatic moral claim on the other, beyond any mutually beneficial voluntary employment contract.

Michael A. LaFerrara, Flemington

I have one final point to make about the tax issue involved here. For that, I'll turn to a correspondent who calls himself eyesofsussex, who commented below my letter:

January 23, 2012 at 2:44PM

I agree with Mr. LaFerrara's view of mutual contractability between employee and company. However, that mutualness goes out the window when the company uses its profits to influence lawmakers to change the rules.

What's that you say? Employees have unions to amplify their voice? Not when the government takes that away too, e.g., Wisconsin and NJ.

Only when there's a level playing field, is there mutal[sic] bargaining power and mutual checks and balances.

I answered this way (under my S-L registered site screen name Zemack:

January 23, 2012 at 4:28PM

Excellent points, eyesofsussex, but wrong solution.

The practice of businesses, labor unions, and other special interests “influencing” lawmakers (i.e. lobbying) to attain some economic favoritism is a pervasive product of the mixed economy – the mixing of politics (government force) and economics (voluntary contract). The unsavory, beggar-thy-neighbor practice of states using tax favors to lure businesses away from other states, whether or not it is at the behest of a business using “its profits to influence lawmakers to change the rules,” argues for a legal end to politicians’ ability to manipulate the tax codes. It does not validate the granting of “collective bargaining rights,” which are not rights at all but a form of special economic favors.

Ultimately, the only answer to this kind of mixed economy shenanigans is laissez-faire capitalism – the separation of economics and state – the only system under which a true level playing field can exist because under capitalism government is restricted to the protection of everyone’s individual rights equally and at all times. Just as the separation of church and state has brought about the peaceful coexistence among people and factions in the area of religion and conscience, so the same would happen in economics, and the special interest pressure groups would disappear along with the power of politicians to dispense economic favoritism.

That said, within the current political/economic context, NBS should not be condemned. Short of constitutionally banning political manipulation of the economy, our best course of action is looking at what makes our state uncompetitive with other states, and change policies accordingly.

-Mike L.

It's time to stop demonizing modern civilization's unsung heros; businessmen. Far from being greedy exploiters, they are instead and in reality among our noblest - and most exploited - citizens. The inevitable quick-buck bad apples to the contrary notwithstanding - which exist in any field - business creates the values our lives and living standards depend upon; their self-interested pursuit of profit accomplished through the equally noble medium of trade - the mutually beneficial exchange of values. Instead of babbling about "corporate greed", think about what your life would be like without it, every time you pull out your wallet to exchange your dollars for the values that flood our markets - the very products of that very "greed."