Monday, March 31, 2014

"Crunch Time" for Some Truths About ObamaCare

Today is the deadline for signing up for health insurance under ObamaCare, so it's a good time to reflect  a bit on what ObamaCare "achieves." A good place to start is with a staunch ObamaCare supporter, the New Jersey Star-Ledger. I commented on the Star-Ledger's editorial For Obamacare enrollment in NJ, it's crunch time, using selected quotes from the article. Here are my comments:

"When people don’t enroll, we all pay more. Not just for the uninsured’s emergency room bills, but also for insurance premiums, which will be higher if we don’t get young, healthy adults to sign up."

Who forces us to pay for the uninsured’s emergency room bills (which are usually not even emergencies)? The government, through the Reagan law, EMTALA. Rather than fix that problem by repealing EMTALA, ObamaCare compounds the problem by forcing higher premiums on younger people to subsidize older people. ObamaCare doesn't alleviate the "free-rider" problem. It creates more free riders.

"Because this much we know already: It has greatly reduced the uninsurance rate, and that’s a huge achievement."

As whose expense? The taxpayers whose wealth is seized to fund the subsidies of the newly insured. The wealth seized from younger people forced to pay higher premiums to subsidize lower premiums for others. The only "achievement" is the increased government power over our healthcare and our wealth. Liberty exhibit # 1: The SLEB claims that "After March 31, you won’t be able to buy individual health insurance anywhere unless you have some special circumstance. . ." ObamaCare made it illegal to purchase health insurance other than "insurance" sold under government direction. This is proof that those who warned that ObamaCare was a takeover of healthcare were right.

ObamaCare was sold on a lie. The problems ObamaCare was allegedly designed to fix could have been alleviated by removing previous government intrusions into healthcare, like the third-party-payer system, myriad insurance mandates, the state cartelization of health insurance, and various redistribution schemes.

The bottom line is that we are not our brothers' keepers. No one's need is a moral claim on another's life and wealth. Consumers and insurers should be free to contract voluntarily to mutual advantage, when they choose, on terms they choose. Government should mediate contract disputes and prosecute breach of contract and fraud. The corollary: Government should protect freedom of contract, not control the market and forcibly redistribute wealth.

Related Reading:

How ObamaCare Redistributes Wealth

Milton Wolf’s PatientCare: A Sensible Alternative to ObamaCare

Cost of Healthcare: ObamaCare Supporters Drop the Context to Support Their Case

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Poverty Doesn't Cause Bad Education

Marie Corfield has consistently beaten the drums in defense of the coercive government school establishment, and her most recent letter, School Choice is not the Answer, is no different.

In this case, she blames poverty for failing schools:

But fixing poverty doesn’t turn a profit [the Industrial Revolution? It apparently didn't happen]. Otherwise, the giant corporations, hedge fund managers and billionaires who’ve funneled a steady stream of money into, and profits out of, one failed education reform scheme after another would have fixed it years ago.
The real choice is their ability to choose which children attend their schools and which get sent back to the underfunded public schools.

Get that? "School choice" means "giant corporations" choosing the children. What about the parents of those children? They blindly allow their kids to participate in "failed" education, which billionaires somehow "profit" from.

This is how statists view private citizens. I left these comments:

Translation: "'Poor' parents are too stupid and incompetent to know what's educationally best for their children."

The idea that poverty is the cause of failing schools is one of the most arrogant, utterly materialistic rationalizations for denying parents their right to search for alternatives to government schools for their children that I have encountered. (This view ignores the causes of poverty, but that is off-topic.)

School choice is precisely what's needed to empower the better low-income parents to search out new and effective educational options offered by private entrepreneurial educators. The Corfields and their ilk should stop trying to hold everyone down to the level of the worst parents and students.

I laid out a robust tax-credit based school choice proposal in The Objective Standard that would allow all parents the freedom to direct the spending of their education tax dollars to the school of their choice on behalf of the child of their choice, whether their own or others (See link below). Importantly, my proposal would open up the floodgates of philanthropic assistance to low-income parents concerned about a decent education for their children but whose tax credits are too small for they [who] themselves can't afford it.

All parents have a fundamental, inalienable right to direct the course of their own children's education and the spending of their own money. In particular, the opportunity for low-income families to get their children out of the worst government schools and into private schools—or at least charter schools—is a moral imperative of our time. What about "inequality"? Not all parents care about education, but those who do should not be chained to the level of those who don't.

Government school apologists have become the modern-day equivalents of George Wallace in reverse; They can be seen standing in the schoolhouse door, not to keep certain children out, but to keep all children trapped inside disastrous government schools.

It's time to pose these questions to these reverse-Wallaces: If government schools are so good, why do you have to force parents to send their children to them, and force them to pay for them? Why are you so afraid that, given the chance, they will not choose your government schools?

Tax credits, of course, are a step toward the final destination—a complete separation of school and government through a completely free market in education. In today's political environment, incremental reform, properly implemented, is the most viable approach toward that end. The same arguments and principles that support limited but genuine free market reforms also underpin a fully free market. It is in this way that free market reforms pave the way toward full freedom and individual rights in education, by exposing the public debate to these ideas.

Related Reading:

Is Education Incompatible With Business?

On Neo-George Wallaces Standing in the Schoolhouse Door, Keeping Children IN, rather than OUT

The Problem for Government School Apologists; American Ideals

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bill to Legalize Pot in New Jersey is the Right Step

A New Jersey lawmaker has proposed legislation to legalize marijuana in the state. The NJ Star-Ledger editorialized in support of State Sen. Nicholas Scutari's bill. 

The editors cite increased tax revenue and growing public opinion support for pot legalization, or at least reduced legal penalties for their use, as justification for legalization. The editors cite a racial element in support of their position as well; that blacks are "three times more often than whites [to be arrested], though pot-smoking is equally common." 

"The best argument for legalizing pot, however, is the failure of the government’s war against it," the editors say. Amen to that. 1020s alcohol Prohibition was disastrous, fostering widespread disrespect for the law and generating the emergence of leading criminal organizations. The War on Drugs has doubled and tripled down on those consequences.

But what is the most fundamental reason for legalizing marijuana; and by extension all drugs?
I left these comments:

I agree that pot should be legalized, but not for the reasons cited here.

Pot should not be legalized because it fattens the government's coffers, or to give the government another monopoly over another industry (through occupational licensure of marijuana producers), or because the War on Drugs has failed (even though that's true). It has nothing to do with the skin color of those arrested under this war. And it certainly has nothing to do with polls or the fallacy of historical determinism.

Pot should be legalized for one simple reason: Every individual has a right to use it if he pleases, so long as his actions don't violate the rights of others (such as driving under it's influence). Legalizing pot would be a good step in the right direction; that is to say, toward liberty and individual rights in regard to the private production, trade, and use of drugs. Of course, legalization should pertain only to adults, not children.

Related Reading:

Dueling Letters Over Rights

Ayn Rand's Theory of Rights: The Moral Foundation of a Free Society by Craig Biddle

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Private Sector Anti-Discrimination Laws are Rights-Violating and Destructive

A letter in the NJ Star-Ledger (Legalized discrimination) applauded the United States Senate for passing Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA would make it explicitly illegal to fire someone because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), according to

I left these comments:

Laws banning discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation are intended to target an evil. But such laws targeted at the private sector violate rights to freedom of association, a bedrock principle underpinning a free, civil society.

Boehner is right that the actual effect of such laws is to engender predatory lawsuits. Correcting one wrong doesn't justify legalizing other injustices. But the damage doesn't end there. Anti-discrimination laws were a major contributing factor to the 2008 financial crisis, were and are wreaking havoc on men's college sports programs, and are assaulting religious freedom.

Laws that violate inalienable individual rights, even allegedly for a good cause, always have unintended harmful consequences. Granted, some people use their freedom toward irrational actions. But rights, including rights to freely associate—or not associate—with whom one pleases, must be protected equally and at all times. If not, then rights violations expand in ever-widening circles.

Essentially, no one has the right to a job if the employer doesn't want him, regardless of the employer's reasons. 

Related Reading:

Gay Marriage: The Right to Voluntary Contract, Not Coercive "Contract"

Title 2: Government vs. Private Action

"42": The Power of Courage and Moral Certitude and the Impotence of Ignorance and Bigotry

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Climate Crimes": The Latest Anti-Man Environmentalist Buzzword

When it comes to "green" issues, the Left can suddenly become a champion of free markets.

In an editorial about the Tesla direct-sales ban, the NJ Star-Ledger writes:

The very same governor who just complained that “government’s trying to control the free market” is now stepping in to do so himself. And not only is Christie meddling in the market, kowtowing to special interests and incurring the wrath of almost everyone on the political spectrum, he’s ignoring the effect on the climate.

The plug for free markets and jab at special interest kowtowing is just window dressing, of course. Ignoring the "meddling in the market" that Tesla's many subsidies represent, the Star-Ledger then went on to viciously lambaste Governor Chris Christie for "climate crimes," a reference to the Christie Administration's not-stringent-enough-by-the-Left's-standards efforts to enforce government policies to combat man-made climate change.

Among Christie's "crimes" is his description of climate change as "esoteric" (horrors!), withdrawing NJ from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and a sweeping but vague accusation of "flout[ing] long-standing environmental regulations — an open invitation to polluters," among other things.

I left these comments:

The term "climate crimes" buried in this editorial is another buzzword in the smear arsenal of the environmentalists' campaign against human well-being and survival. It implies that the climate is sacred, and human-caused climate change is evil. But human beings can only survive by altering the raw earth by reason and productive work so as to create an environment conducive to human life. If that work affects the climate, then, according to environmentalist dogma, the sacred climate must take precedence over human life.

There is crime, alright. It is crimes against humanity, and environmentalists are the real perpetrators. Environmentalism's purpose is not cleaner industrialization, as many innocently suppose. Its purpose is to stop it; to protect the raw environment against human survival and well-being, by means hampering man's ability to improve the human environment, which has made our lives longer, healthier, more enjoyable, and less prone to climate catastrophes than ever before. Exhibit "A": the Pinelands Commissions ruling against the natural gas pipeline.

The Pinelands Commission was formed after the state government seized control of an allegedly environmentally fragile area of NJ called the "Pine Barrens." The commission's job is to "preserve, protect, and enhance"—i.e., restrict development of—the Pinelands. It recently ruled against the construction of a natural gas pipeline through the region, a decision that Governor Christie and Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney are fighting to overrule.

One final note: It's comical that the editors beat the drum for Tesla Motors based on the Tesla car's supposedly climate-friendly zero carbon emissions. As Alex Epstein pointed out in a Forbes column, the Tesla is more accurately called "a nice fossil fuel car" because of the fossil-fueled electricity production required to manufacture the car and charge its batteries. 

Related Reading:

Tesla the Beneficiary of Crony Laws

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tesla the Beneficiary of Crony Laws

Yesterday I highlighted the assault on Tesla by state laws requiring it (and other auto manufacturers) to sell its cars only through franchised dealers. These laws are textbook cases of what is popularly called "crony capitalism," but which in fact has nothing to do with capitalism. It is more accurately called crony socialism.

Today, I highlight Tesla as the guilty party. It supports and is supported by an array of taxpayer-funded federal and state loans, subsidies, and credits.

As Christopher Koopman writes in U.S. News and World Report, Tesla's very profitability rests on cronyism. Koopman writes:

Tesla's success is ultimately a case study in the perils of government-granted privilege, its financial success demonstrating a reliance on political favoritism more than an ability to create value for customers. Tesla Motors would not have been created were it not for the generosity of politicians – if generosity is the right term for spending taxpayers' money.

To round out the complete story of Tesla, read Koopman's entire article, Tesla is No Success Story.

Related Reading:

Tesla Battles Crony Laws Banning Direct Manufacturer-to-Consumer Car Sales

"Regulating" Business - the Good and the Bad

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cronyism Doesn't Promote Competition: It Limits Competition

Following several other states, New Jersey has banned Tesla from selling its electric cars direct to consumers, as you may have heard. This ban is based on a decades-old law that requires car manufacturers to enlist only state-licensed franchised dealerships to market their cars.

In defense of this ban, James B. Appleton, the President of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJCAR), defended the law in an op-ed State just wants Tesla playing by the rules. Appleton lists several reasons, from saying the law "protects consumers," to invoking the "public interest," to—can you believe it?—advising Tesla that its direct-sales model is too inefficient!

But this statement really took the cake:

The franchise system of independent new car dealerships promotes aggressive price competition, while the factory-store model advocated by Tesla creates a vertical monopoly and limits competition.

So the president of NJCAR, which is essentially a legally protected cartel, is trying to sell the idea that competition from Tesla limits competition.

But competition is based on voluntary contract to mutual advantage. Only when all producers and consumers are free to act on their own judgement, short of violating others' rights (such as through fraud or breach of contract), can there be true competition.

In the case of mandatory franchise laws, which force automobile manufacturers to contract with independent dealerships in order to sell cars, competition between manufacturers and dealerships is illegal, because consumers are stripped of the choice of buying directly from a manufacturer who may otherwise be willing to contract in such manner. Creating a legally protected cartel of dealerships is the exact opposite of competition.

I left these comments:

When you cut through the nonsensical rationalizations—such as that the government-enforced franchise system "protects consumers," as if forbidding consumers from buying Teslas in Tesla stores somehow "protects" them, or that without such a law "the factory-store model advocated by Tesla . . . limits competition," which only government has the power do and which is exactly what Appleton aims to do by shutting down Tesla sales—what you're left with is that the "public interest" turns out to be the NJCAR interest. In other words, the law Appleton defends is nothing more than naked cronyism.

Businesses and consumers have a right to contract voluntarily to mutual advantage—or not—whether between manufacturers and franchisees, franchisees and consumers, or manufacturers and consumers. The law should protect that liberty of contract equally and for all, not enforce the interests of some at the expense of the interests and rights of others.

Related Reading:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Jersey's Law Against Concealed Carry Violates Right to Self-Defense

New Jersey law provides for concealed carry of a gun in public, but the conditions make it virtually impossible in practice for law abiding, upstanding citizens to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. This, contends NJ resident Max McGuire in a NJ Star-Ledger letter (Gun Rights are Lacking in New Jersey), not only violates the Second Amendment but indirectly threatens all rights:

    [I]n . . . New Jersey, "may issue" might as well be "no issue" [of a concealed carry permit]. You must demonstrate a"justifiable need" and an urgent need for self-defense based on past instances or threats of violence.
    Imagine if you were forced to show a justifiable need before you were allowed to vote or before you were given a trial before a jury of your peers.
    And as long as it's acceptable to require a "justifiable need" to exercise one right, then the entire Bill of Rights is in jeopardy.

Leaving aside the constitutional issue, which is complex, McGuire is correct to identify the role of principles and precedent and how they affect the broader context regarding rights.

The next day, a letter by David Twersky challenged McGuire's assessment, arguing that Constitutional rights come with restrictions:

    Even the writer’s two examples have restrictions. No one argues that you have a right to vote, yet this right is limited to citizens, at least 18 years old and, in many states, not convicted of felony.
    The right to a jury trial is restricted, too. In most states, you are not allowed a jury trial in family law cases, such as divorce and child custody, or when the maximum imprisonment is six months or less.
    Just as freedom of speech doesn’t allow us to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, or freedom of religion does not permit animal sacrifice, the Bill of Rights is regulated. Yet the writer would have us believe that limiting the right to carry concealed weapons . . . puts the entire Bill of Rights in jeopardy.

As I rebutted in some comments to Twersky's letter, there is a major difference between Twersky's examples and NJ's concealed carry law. He confuses the means of rationally implementing rights in law, a philosophical and contextual question, with violating rights. Let's take the rights to vote, a jury trial, speech, and religion in turn.

The "regulations" on voting do not restrict—i.e., violate—the right to vote, unless one believes that every non-American in the world, of any age, should vote in U.S. elections. Voting is a derivative right. Age and citizenship requirements related to choosing political leaders do not violate the fundamental rights to life, liberty, property, or the pursuit of happiness because the state in a free society does not possess the means to violate those rights.

Likewise, the right to a jury trial does not mean the court system should be clogged to the point of disfunctionality with juries for every minor dispute. Again, the issue is contextual. A trial by jury is a derivative right. Restricting that right to serious charges is not at all an infringement on the basic right to a presumption of innocence principle and the right to be judged in an objective venue, or that when a jury is appropriate, it is constituted with one's peers.

The free speech example is not about freedom of speech at all. No right gives anyone the right to violate the rights of others. Yelling fire in a crowded theater fraudulently disrupts the operation of the theater and endangers the physical safety of the patrons, violating the rights of the theater owner and his customers. Rights are sanctions to freedom of action, so long as one's actions don't violate the rights of others. Forbidding a person to yell fire in a crowded theater does not violate anyone's freedom of speech. Such laws protect individual rights by identifying and proscribing a rights-violating action.

The same goes for freedom of religion. (Laws against wanton animal cruelty is a separate issue. Animals do not and logically can not possess rights, so I'm not sure here such laws fit into the structure of a proper government. But again, the issue is not about one's freedom of religion, but about one's actions.)

In none of these cases are the underlying rights expunged.

Not so with NJ's concealed carry law. The right to self-defense, which is inherent in the right to life, IS being expunged—albeit through the back door of making the rules so stringent as to effectively annul the right to carry a gun for self-protection.

McGuire is absolutely correct when he says that "as long as it's acceptable to require a 'justifiable need' to exercise one right, then the entire Bill of Rights is in jeopardy." Principles have consequences for a broad range of related specific concretes, and bad principles have bad consequences. If we accept the premise that individuals must get permission from government officials for the privilege of exercising any one fundamental right, all rights are in danger under that same premise, and the concepts of rights and rights-protecting government are turned on their heads. It is akin to an automatic presumption of guilt without evidence. Such a premise is a regression to the darkest days of humanity—the days of omnipotent government and rule by arbitrary, non-objective law—i.e., brute force—against constitutionally defenseless citizens.

A "regulated right" is a contradiction in terms. One must distinguish between rules and procedures for implementing and anchoring rights in law, and regulations that restrict and violate rights. Twersky fails to do that.

Rules shouldn't effectively prohibit the exercise of rights, as is the case with NJ's concealed carry laws. Protecting rights is not the same as regulating rights.

So how should the specific issue of concealed carry be handled, and why? Guns in the hands of incompetent or irresponsible individuals threatens others. Therefor, a concealed carry permit (or even gun ownership) should not be granted to people who are objectively determined to be mentally incompetent, have a violent criminal history, or are not properly trained in gun use. Otherwise, every individual has a right to own or carry a gun without demonstrating "justifiable need" or some such criteria to government officials. Twersky's free speech example actually makes the point, as noted above. With guns, as with speech and other rights, there should be no restrictions or "regulations" on the exercise of gun rights by rights-respecting citizens.

For more indepth discussion of this issue, read my blog post "Is There a Right to Carry a Gun in Public"?

Related Reading:

Is There a Right to Carry a Gun in Public?

Rand Paul, Title 2, and the Importance of Principles

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Free Market is the Only Rational Alternative to Government "Plans"

In a NJ Star-Ledger letter titled No conservative planJonathan Grotz leveled the usual statist charge that those who oppose ObamaCare have no alternative "plan."

Well, many opponents don't, which opens the door to this kind of charge. In his letter, Grotz praises ObamaCare as a step in the right direction, but concludes with:

"Of course, the rational alternatives would be a public option along the lines of Germany’s system . . . or a single-payer system similar to Canada’s."

I left these comments:

Government control of healthcare is "rational?" Nice bit of Orwellian doublespeak.

The rational faculty is the exclusive function of individual human beings. Governments don't think. Neither do societies. There is no social brain. Any manifestation of socialized medicine necessarily outlaws individuals (including doctors) from acting according to their own rational judgment in regard to healthcare decisions, and puts government bureaucrats in charge of dictating who gets what healthcare, when, at what price, and who pays. When we give up our responsibility to pay for our own healthcare, we give up the freedom to make our own healthcare choices. There's nothing rational about outlawing freedom of rational choice.

The fact that some people have problems paying for their healthcare is not a national problem to be "solved" by dumping all Americans into government controlled healthcare of some kind. Healthcare is an individual responsibility to be solved by individuals through personal choices (which could include seeking or giving voluntary private charity). The government's only job is to protect the rights of all individuals—including consumers, doctors, insurers, healthcare manufacturers, etc.—to manage their own affairs and to contract with each other voluntarily to mutual advantage. The government only steps in when rights are violated, such as in the case of breach of contract (e.g., when and if an insurer refuses to cover a medical condition it contractually agreed to cover).

Any "plan" to socialize medicine is obscenely immoral. We don't need more alternative "plans". We don't need ObamaCare or [an] alternate conservative plan or Germany or Canada or the pre-ObamaCare semi-socialized system. We need to eliminate all such government-imposed plans and intrusions into healthcare so each of us can individually plan for our own healthcare needs. Grotz's implication that only some manifestation of socialized medicine constitutes an "alternative" ignores the only real alternative to any government plan—a fully free market in healthcare.

Related Reading:

Government Controlled Healthcare vs. Personal Responsibility

Responsibility Depends on Individual Rights

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New Jersey's Intrusive "Opportunity to Compete Act" is Morally Unjust and Economically Damaging

Statists never run out of ways to infringe the rights of employers to manage their own affairs.

In New Jersey, the legislature is considering a law called the Opportunity to Compete Act, which “would prohibit an employer from conducting a criminal background check on job candidates during the pre-application and application process,” and only allow a check “once a candidate has been found to be qualified and has received a conditional offer of employment.”

In a letter, Larry L. Bembry, drug court director and deputy of intensive supervision program, state Office of the Public Defender, argued in favor of the law, saying “The Opportunity to Compete Act would represent a step forward in helping individuals with criminal records turn around their lives.”

What about employers and their lives?

As a practical matter, the “Opportunity to Compete Act” now before the New Jersey legislature would put the state in position to nose into, and eventually dictate, every business’s “hiring process.” Otherwise, how does one define “late in the process?” Indeed, Page 7 of the Act states “New Jersey’s Opportunity to Compete Act requires that employers follow certain procedures when asking about your criminal history,” followed by six pages of procedures, and capped off with a listing of fines for violations of procedures based on number of employees.

The Act would create yet another avenue for predatory lawsuits, forcing employers to waste time and effort—as well as the time and effort of job applicants—going through the hiring process when the job applicant has no chance of getting a job, lest the applicant sue based on the charge that the potential employer inquired about his criminal background “too early” in the process.

But on the moral level, this intrusive bill violates the rights of businessmen and other employers to establish the terms of their hiring policies according to their own judgment and in accordance with their own self-interest.

The fundamental issue is not whether former criminals deserve a chance to rebuild their lives. Many undoubtedly do, and who would be against that? The issue is individual rights and the proper role of government: The government has no right to force anyone to give anyone a chance or an opportunity. In effect, this bill empowers the state to emulate criminals, the very people for whom the bill is designed to help escape from a life of crime? After all, what makes an act a crime?—violating the rights of others by initiating force against them. Is the answer then for the state, whose job it is to protect us from criminals, to initiate force and violate rights of businessmen? This is patently absurd.

The proper way for activists such as Bembry to advocate for jobs for those with a criminal history is through voluntary persuasion, rather than legal coercion. As the text of the Act itself acknowledges, this is a very viable approach. The Act notes that many large employers have already “voluntarily implemented their own policies removing barriers to the employment of those with criminal histories, including, among others, British Petroleum, Exxon Mobil, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Royal Dutch Shell, Staples, Starbucks, . . . Target [and] Wal-Mart.”

But if any employer refuses to implement hiring practices regarding criminal histories of applicants that the government doesn’t approve of, it is the employer’s inalienable right to do so, and no one has a right to force them to change its policy. While the government may create whatever procedures it likes regarding government employment, private employers have a right to accept or reject job applicants on whatever terms they choose.

Pundits and politicians are forever agonizing over the lack of jobs. Look no further than laws like this intrusive bill to see why that is.

Related Reading:

Hiring, Racism, and Criminal Records

End Government Intrusion into Labor-Management Contracts

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Social Construct" Another Collectivist Buzzword for Tyranny

In a letter published in the New Jersey Star-Ledger (No religious exemption), gynecologist Joseph Ramieri called the "concept that oral contraceptives should not be required coverage under the Affordable Care Act" "ludicrous." He said "If any sect can choose the allowed prescriptions and therapies for its insured, we are opening an enormous Pandora’s box." He cites two examples:

Maybe people who work for Christian Science groups, for example, which do not believe in any medical intervention, should be exempt from providing coverage at all. After all, they don’t believe in conventional therapies and, therefore, can claim they shouldn't be subject to insuring their employees. Maybe my particular group doesn’t believe cholesterol levels mean anything, so it shouldn't have to pay for cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Ramieri concluded: "I hope the reality, that our social construct often dictates measures we may not like as individuals, will be realized." 

I left these comments:

People who want to force their judgment and values on others always rely on collectivist rationalizations to  "justify" their force, and Joseph Ramieri is no exception. 

Ramieri claims that religious beliefs do not justify allowing religious employers to be exempt from government-mandated contraception coverage for their employees. Otherwise, he says, other employers may not want to cover cholesterol-lowering drugs, or not offer any medical coverage at all.

Well, in all cases, it is their right to do so. It is also the right of individuals to buy, or not buy, whatever coverage that they believe fits their needs, budgets, and beliefs—from whatever offerings insurers choose to market. The contraception mandate is immoral not just for the religious, but for all people. This principle applies not just to the contraception mandate, but to all health insurance mandates. What right does anyone have to dictate what coverage others, employer or individual, must purchase?

Ramieri claims "our social construct" dictates such matters as health insurance coverage, apparently believing that HE represents the social construct, but people who disagree with him do NOT.

There is no "social construct," apart from the individuals that make it up. Only the individual exists. Only the individual can think, value, judge, make choices. To say the social construct dictates is to say some people have the right to force their values on others. When you say "social construct", you mean government. When you say "dictate", you mean dictatorship. That, in fact, is the basic nature of the Affordable Care Act, as Ramieri clearly demonstrates. Dictatorship is the basic nature of all laws that impose insurance mandates, whether at the federal or state level. 

In any valid sense that a social construct exists, all individuals are equal members. America's "social construct" is based on individual rights and equality before the law. The only health insurance system that is consistent with Americanism is a free market, where compulsion is banished, and the government protects—equally and at all times—the rights of all individuals and insurers to contract voluntarily to mutual advantage.

Ramieri's "Pandora's Box" refers to liberty, or the right of each individual to act on his own rational judgment: precisely the one that statists of all kinds strive to keep boxed up. That is the whole point of tyranny: The essence of dictatorship is to forbid individual liberty.  The real Pandora's Box is the one that allows government officials to dictate to We the People how we live our lives. We began opening that one long ago, which is why we have ObamaCare and the whole, massive, rights-violating regulatory welfare state.

Related Reading:

Collectivism vs. Individualism in Letters

Obama's Collectivist "Togetherness" vs. Individualist Togetherness

Friday, March 14, 2014

Creationists and Climate Change Ideologists: Perfect Together

The New Jersey Star-Ledger latched on to a Pew Research Center poll to equate religionists' rejection of evolution theory with those skeptical of man-made climate change. This is the two-pronged anti-science cabal that dominates the Republican Party, the Star-Ledger asserts.

This shift toward absolutist views doesn’t just threaten the party itself, but the country as a whole. The whole point of science, after all, is to identify an objective reality, independent of political biases. How do you make public policy with people who stand against science itself?

This is a clear attempt to smear critics of the Left's agenda and shut down debate on the subject of climate change, its consequences for man, the extent of human contribution, and the question of what to do about it—which must include an assessment of the value to man of the contributory industrialization, including the use of fossil fuels.

But the real parallel is between the climate change political ideologists and the anti-evolutionists. I left these comments:

Nice trick, equating religious absolutism with rational opponents of climate change political ideology. Climate Change (aka catastrophic, man-made global warming) has itself become a religion. Just take note of how often climate change ideologists point to every weather extreme as evidence of catastrophic climate change; such claims to be taken as gospel, on faith, despite the clear evidence that such extremes have always plagued mankind. Such faith is used to justify a virulent statist "public policy" agenda of the Left—all in the name of "science," the climate ideologists' own version of God. 

As Alex Epstein notes:

"'Science' is perhaps the most abused word in the English language.

"The word used to name the method of Galileo, Newton, and Einstein has also been used to rationalize some of the most destructive political policies in human history, such as socialism and population control. The Nazis invoked the once-renowned 'science' of eugenics to justify a Holocaust of 'scientifically inferior' races."

Related Reading:

King Obama's Carbon Emission Mandate

Climate Cabal Exploits Sandy for Statist Ideological Purposes

Why I Don't Trust the "Climate Consensus"

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Minimum Wage Laws Facilitate "Wage Theft"—Against Employers

New Brunswick, New Jersey has passed an ordinance that would ban "wage theft"—a term used to describe an employer "paying [an employee] less than state and federally required minimum wage and overtime." 

As the NJ Star-Ledger reports:

Israel Lopez emigrated from Mexico to New Brunswick looking for a better life for his family. He got a job at a deli in the city, but realized sometime later that he was being paid less than the legal minimum wage.

Any business owner who pays less than legal minimum wage will be put out of business by the township, which has licensure power over "food service, retail and a variety of other types of businesses."

"Lopez said he 'finally stood up for my rights, filed a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Labor and was able to reclaim a considerable sum of wages stolen from me.'"

I left these comments:

Unjust laws that violate rights subvert concepts and invert justice. So-called "wage theft" is a case in point.

Theft is the taking of property against the rightful owner's will. Wages are not theft, since they are based on voluntary agreement. So, let's examine who is the thief here, and who is the victim.

Israel Lopez voluntarily agrees to take a job at a mutually agreed-upon wage. Now, he demands more money from his employer after the fact because a bunch of politicians decree that he was not paid what they think he should have been paid. What of his contractual agreement with the employer? Apparently, he feels entitled to violate that agreement with impunity, because he legally can.

And that is what is wrong with minimum wage laws: They violate the rights of employers and employees to voluntarily contract on mutually acceptable, mutually beneficial terms. Worse, they empower one party to unilaterally and immorally breach their side of the agreement, as Lopez is doing.

Such is the nature of minimum wage laws and related laws like the New Brunswick ordinance. They aid and abet perpetrators, turning them into victims, and turn innocent victims into the criminal. There is a "wage thief," all right. And it's not the employer, who took nothing from Lopez. The employer is the actual victim of theft. It is he whose property is being seized against his will.

If the term "wage theft" has any rational meaning, it applies to Lopez. The fact that the law backs him up just shows how corrupt our government, whose proper job is to protect us from thieves, has become. Unjust laws that violate rights subvert concepts and invert justice. Minimum wage laws are unjust, and should be repealed.

Related Reading:

Minimum Wage Issue is Not "about what it’s like to live on $7.25 an hour"

Some Fallacies Behind the Drive for the NJ Minimum Wage Increase Amendment

NJ's Minimum Wage Approval Highlights the Moral Disease that Afflicts America

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Star-Ledger Exploits a Workers Death to Attack Big Business

The tragic accidental death of a worker in's Avenel, New Jersey, facility was the prop for the New Jersey Star-Ledger to bash big business. In worker's death sheds much-needed light on worker safety, the editors open:

We may not know for several months exactly how a temporary worker died this month at’s distribution center in Avenel, but there is already a lot we know about how companies like Amazon exploit temps and too often fail to protect them from physical danger.

Notice the word "exploit," as if Amazon forces workers into their jobs and then holds them there against their will, whip in hand. The editorial goes on:

The use of temporary workers has become increasingly popular with big corporations in recent years as a way to boost profits and CEO pay packages by providing lower wages and eliminating benefits.

I left these comments:

I love the one-sidedness and bigotry of this—the Left's—view of productive businesses. What's missing from that description?—the life-advancing value enjoyed by the workers who voluntarily take the jobs and the consumers who benefit from lower prices enabled by the cost-cutting, which increases sales and "boosts profits."

One of the dopiest ideas is that corporations profit by harming their own workers and their own customers, as if workers deliberately seek out bad jobs and consumers seek out the worst products. A few seconds of thought will expose the absurdity. Profitable corporations don't happen at anyone's expense—and in fact, can not. The occasional quick-buck artist notwithstanding, when a corporation increases profits, workers and consumers benefit along with the executives. This is really the essence of capitalism; the win-win-win relationship between business, labor, and consumer, each pursuing their own self-interest. This harmony of mutual self-interest is the basic moral virtue of capitalism.

This doesn't mean the issue of worker safety isn't important. Legal responsibility is a complex issue, and much of that responsibility undoubtedly rests with the corporation that creates and maintains the job position, with all that that entails. But there is no exploitation of temps involved, unless the authors are willing to also argue that the worker and consumer are exploiting Amazon to their own self-interested benefit. But if every voluntary contractual relationship is mutual exploitation, that would demolish the cognitive usefulness of the term "exploit."

Responsibility for worker safety is a complex legal issue. Both the corporation and the worker have certain responsibilities. The editors acknowledge that the facts of the case of this worker are not yet known. Was it his fault, the company's neglect, or some combination. I can tell you, as someone who worked in the construction industry for 46 years, that plenty of times it is the worker who ignores safety procedures put in place by the company. But objectivity is beside the editorial's main point, which is to go after business, as this next statement demonstrates:

OSHA should be commended for calling attention to this urgent issue and for urging host corporations and temp agencies to meet their legal responsibility to provide safe conditions and proper training. But, unfortunately, lobbyists for big corporations often succeed at preventing Congress from providing the safety agency with the necessary resources to make employers obey the law.
At the same time, corporate special interests have been able to severely weaken enforcement of workers’ legal right to form unions in order to insist on safe conditions.

The emergence of regulatory agencies—which are essentially lawless bureaucracies wielding arbitrary power to impose legal mandates—creates the need for special interest lobbies, which try to nudge these agencies in the direction that best suits their respective interests. There are business lobbies; consumer lobbies; labor lobbies; and myriad other special interest lobbies with myriad agendas. Notice only "big corporations" are criticized for protecting their interests.

Who advocates stripping workers of the right to form unions? The only people arguing for violating rights are those who call for compulsory unionization, which violates workers' rights, and those seeking laws legally forcing companies to deal with unions, which violates the rights of businessmen.

The legal issues surrounding responsibility for worker safety are properly handled by objective law—not regulatory agencies wielding arbitrary power—with disputes resolved in courts of law.

Related Reading:

It's Time to Bury the "Trickle-Down" Myth

What is Objective Law—Harry Binswanger

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ann McFeatters's Call to Impose Leftist Political Dogma Under Cover of Science

The clash between science and religion is alive and well in America.

In a recent op-ed articlethe McClatchy-Tribune's Ann McFeatters begins by raising the controversial issue of whether creationism should be taught in government schools. She correctly rejects that notion, but then:

President Barack Obama says he is against teaching creationism as an alternative to evolution to children because it is religion-based. He calls science the never-ending search for knowledge and truth. He says science holds the key to our planet’s survival (climate change). And he says it is time to put science at the top of our agenda.

Notice the subtle switch. What starts out as a legitimate and important discussion about science vs. religion, and how that relates to government schools, morphs into Leftist political advocacy.

Obama is right that religion has no place in government schools. Science is the never-ending search for knowledge and truth, and education is about knowledge and truth.

But science tells you nothing about what to do with that knowledge. And here McFeatters smuggles in statism under cover of science.

We can translate as follows: According to Obama's worldview, climate change is a threat to "the planet"—meaning, the planetary environment unaltered by human activity—and human activity is the cause. Therefore, human activity that drives climate change—so-called carbon "pollution" (fossil fuel use)—must be forcibly curbed in favor of "renewables".

But McFeatters isn't through. In the very next paragraph, she goes on:

[Former and possibly future GOP presidential candidate Mike] Huckabee and many millions like him do not agree. They want “belief” at the top of the agenda, or rather, they want their form of belief. Their belief that America can do no wrong. Belief that their God loves this country more than others. Their belief that scientific findings can be cherry picked and denied. Their belief that parents may decide what truths their children are taught and which are inconvenient.

On the clash between religion and science, McFeatters comes down on the right side; the side of science. But their is a more fundamental clash going on in America; the clash between the individual and the state. And in education, McFeatters come down squarely on the wrong side; the side of the state.

McFeatters is right that Huckabee and his ilk should not be able to impose their religious agenda on the rest of us by law. But consider that last sentence—"Their belief that parents may decide what truths their children are taught and which are inconvenient"—and you'll see where McFeatters is going. She is not against an agenda being imposed, just the Religious Right's agenda.

This is particularly galling since "climate change" has itself morphed into a kind of religious dogma, as Alex Epstein exposes here. McFeatters conflates scientific truth with the Leftist political agenda in a sneaky little package deal, and then hopes to use government schools to impose that agenda under cover of scientific knowledge and truth. We can't have any kind of parental liberty in education, because that would stop anyonenot just Huckabee and company but also the Left, from imposing “their form of belief" on the rest of us.

McFeatters supports substituting Leftist dogma for religious dogma in government schools, with science as the cudgel. In so doing, she highlights the need to get government out of education altogether; i.e., to establish a free market in education. Parents do have a right to "decide what truths their children are taught and which are inconvenient"; i.e., to direct the course of their own children's education.

A free market would bring to an end controversies like whether or not to teach creationism in the schools. Such controversies are inherent in tax-funded schooling, because everyone pays for the schools through their taxes, but some taxpayers’ ideas take precedence over others, forcing some to pay for educational ideas that they oppose. (In this sense, the rights of religious taxpayers are being violated.)

True, in a free market, some parents will "teach" bad ideas to their kids. But they do anyway. As McFeatters acknowledges, "If you think the U.S. education system is doing its job, here's a statistic to contemplate: 46 percent of Americans believe humans were created just 6,000 years ago."

But so what? This doesn’t mean religious parents are necessarily bad teachers. A good overall educational curriculum that fosters independent thinking and love of learning will give the child the proper mental tools needed to critically reexamine and question—as an adult—everything he’s been taught. This will arm him with the independence to form his own fact-and-truth based opinions. A good education sprinkled with religious dogma would be better than a "progressive," Leftist-oriented “education” that fosters conformity to the collective, which leads to submission to authority, which fosters state supremacy. As is generally recognized, private schools—most of which fold religion into the curriculum—do a better job of educating children than do the secular public schools. 

McFeatters is right that creationism should not be imposed in government schools. Religion must be kept out of government schools, for reasons of church-state separation. But no one should be able to impose their ideas on everyone else, as McFeatters accuses many religionists of trying to do but which McFeatters herself aims to do with her allegedly science-based ideas. A free education market would accomplish that. That’s the real lesson to be taken away from McFeatters’s column.

The Church Of Climate Scientology: How Climate Science Became A Religion—Alex Epstein

Toward a Free Market in Education:School Vouchers or Tax Credits?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Would the Founders Really Support Bill Maher's Call for a "Maximum Wage"?---PART 2

PART 2: Continued from yesterday's post.

In Why Thomas Jefferson Favored Profit Sharing, David Cay Johnston moves on to John Adams:

The second president, John Adams, feared "monopolies of land" would destroy the nation and that a business aristocracy born of inequality would manipulate voters, creating "a system of subordination to all... The capricious will of one or a very few" dominating the rest. Unless constrained, Adams wrote, "the rich and the proud" would wield economic and political power that "will destroy all the equality and liberty, with the consent and acclamations of the people themselves."

There is a crucial difference between economic and political power. Adams definitely seemed to understand the danger of politically powerful rich. By "system of subordination," Adams is obviously thinking of a political system. The very principle of a government as protector of inalienable individual rights is designed precisely to prevent the capricious political domination by the wealthy few over the rest. Here's Alexander Hamilton:

Alexander Hamilton, who championed manufacturing and banking as the first Treasury secretary, also argued for widespread ownership of assets, warning in 1782 that, "whenever a discretionary power is lodged in any set of men over the property of their neighbors, they will abuse it."

And George Washington:

George Washington, nine months before his inauguration as the first president, predicted that America "will be the most favorable country of any kind in the world for persons of industry and frugality, possessed of moderate capital, to inhabit." And, he continued, "it will not be less advantageous to the happiness of the lowest class of people, because of the equal distribution of property."

Note the emphasis in those block quotes, which I added. It's clear, even from these quotes cherry-picked by a champion of Obama's war on "severe and growing inequality," that the Founders sought to protect the individual's earned wealth, not politically enhanced fortunes, and to protect the rights of all, not just the rich. Hamilton's quote is a perfect description of statism: What power of the "super-rich," divorced from political power, could match the power that government regulatory agencies wield over our property? Washington's hope reflects the actual nature of capitalism, under which all individuals would enjoy the freedom and rights-protections to flourish according to his "industry and frugality," without fear of being subject to "discretionary power . . . lodged in any set of men over the property of their neighbors"—i.e., rich men wielding political power.

These quotes are consistent with the Founders fear of politically begotten riches. What would they say of the great fortunes created by building great businesses? Even Johnston acclaims the industrialists that many historians denigrate as "robber barons":

[Joseph R.] Blasi and his co-authors [of The Citizen's Share: Putting Ownership Back into Democracy] show that in the late 19th century, paying workers a share of profits helped build the fortunes of many of the most successful businessmen. John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil, George Eastman of Eastman Kodak, William Cooper Procter of Procter & Gamble and grain merchant Charles A. Pillsbury all used profit-sharing to attract the best workers, discourage unions, reduce turnover and give employees a greater incentive to make their businesses prosper. "They did it, for sure, out of self-interest," Blasi says, "but it was an enlightened self-interest that benefitted society as a whole."

Nowhere do the Founders call for forced government redistribution of wealth. In fact, in 2001, President Obama himself noted that the American constitution doesn't allow for forced wealth redistribution. Where does one find any evidence that the Founding Fathers would endorse a political class with the discretionary power to limit "industry," or productive achievement, by way of "maximum wage" laws or other limits on earnings? (Even if some would, it wouldn't make it right.) In fact, the whole of the constitution is designed to limit political, not economic, power—by protecting individual rights, including property rights. The Founders way of preventing "domination" by those who accumulate "unmerited" riches is through political equality; or equal protection of rights, including property rights, under the law.

These days, the "1%" is the scapegoat for every societal ill. From the alleged "gilded age" of Rockefeller and Carnegie to what ,modern Leftists deride as the "new gilded age" of Gates and Jobs, the great capitalist fortunes pale into insignificance when compared to the untold tens of trillions of dollars of economic dynamism that the building of those fortunes ignited.

Maher, cheered on by an audience whose reaction has the quality of a mob cheering a lynching, ridicules certain billionaires for daring to fight back against the bigots who (implicitly or not) equate their productive achievements with the thieving rich of old. Maher's loatheful diatribe plays well to the feelings of envy and resentment toward the economically successful person that festers in the self-described "99%-er"—a sensibility that Ayn Rand identified as Hatred of the Good for Being the Good. For these hateful mentalities, "the 1%" stands in their minds as the symbol for any individual with more wealth than the next guy. The simple fact of someone making more is ipso-facto a justification for tagging him as a 1%-er, and thus hating him for it. The crusade against the "top 1%" is a crusade against achievement as such.

Maher ridicules billionaire Tom Perkins for "saying the richest 1% are so persecuted in America, they feel like Jews in Nazi Germany." Perkins's hyperbole aside, he's right that "the rich" are persecuted in America, especially since Obama came to office. I offer, as exhibit A, "Bill Maher's Excellent Commentary on Income Inequality"

Ayn Rand once said:

Every ugly, brutal aspect of injustice toward racial or religious minorities is being practiced toward businessmen.. . . Every movement that seeks to enslave a country, every dictatorship or potential dictatorship, needs some minority group as a scapegoat which it can blame for the nation’s troubles and use as a justification of its own demands for dictatorial powers. In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessmen.

Can anyone deny that today's "progressive" war on the rich is essentially no different than old-fashioned bigotry? The "1%"—the top of the business pyramid—is taking on the role of scapegoat in Obama's America—an America oozing toward dictatorship.

Related Reading:

Hank Reardon Answers Bill Maher's Call for a "Maximum Wage" Law

Would the Founders Really Support Bill Maher's Call for a "Maximum Wage"?---PART 1

The Left’s Egalitarian Trap (and Why Republicans Must Not Step In)

Obama's Corrupt "Equality" Campaign and the 99/1 Premise