MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Property Rights’

If Government Can Take from One Group, It Can and Will Take from Everyone

Posted by M. C. on July 19, 2022

If a thief steals your money, you have every right to complain, and he’ll go to prison. But if the state does the same thing, then only a sociopath would complain, because the state is providing you and your neighbors with all kinds of “free” stuff. Only a self-responsible person and the enlightened minority understand that government can only give what it has stolen before. Most of the citizens still believe in the nanny-state myth and in free lunches.

https://mises.org/wire/if-government-can-take-one-group-it-can-and-will-take-everyone

Claudio Grass

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to argue that private property rights, as understood by classic liberal thinkers, by those who embrace Austrian economic theory, and by all members of an enlightened society, are not only the cornerstone, but also the last defense of human civilization and the Western way of life in particular. Nothing stands a chance without this premise. No prosperity can ever come about or even be maintained, none of the civil liberties and human freedoms we so often take for granted these days, no innovation in business, technology or science.

The respect of the individual’s property is at the heart of most of our freedoms, and when the state or any other central authority crosses this big red line, it causes a massive domino effect. This erosion of liberty might be slow, but it certainly is steady, and most citizens only realize the risks they’re facing only when it’s too late to do anything about it.

A Relentless Campaign

States’ incursion into their citizens’ lives, businesses, savings, and fundamental human liberties, like free speech, is certainly nothing new. In fact, it is a concerted campaign that has been going on arguably since the first form of centralized government emerged. Even without the (rather safe) assumption that megalomania and a pathological thirst for power and control over other people were the core motivation behind this, there have always been those among us that think they what’s best for others and are only too eager to “help” and “save” them. However, this push toward centralization has seen a significant acceleration over the past couple of decades.

After mostly unelected European Union bureaucrats and technocrats consolidated power in Europe and state powers were eroded in favor of federal authorities and countless agencies in the United States, the needle really moved, and although nothing happened from one day to the next, this shift certainly set the West on the path of more and more centralization. Toxic ideologies and misanthropic worldviews, like those promoted by the Frankfurt school and their long march through the institutions, were of considerable help along the way.

Window-dressing state control and massive wealth redistribution policies as “welfare” and promoting them as citizens’ “duty” to “give back” aided in disguising what was really taking place. Property rights became conditional.

If a thief steals your money, you have every right to complain, and he’ll go to prison. But if the state does the same thing, then only a sociopath would complain, because the state is providing you and your neighbors with all kinds of “free” stuff. Only a self-responsible person and the enlightened minority understand that government can only give what it has stolen before. Most of the citizens still believe in the nanny-state myth and in free lunches.

The concept of “free” and of “public goods” in particular appears to have stuck more than anything else. Especially in Europe and in much of the Commonwealth, there is to this day not only a clear understanding, but an expectation in the minds of most citizens that things like education and healthcare are and must always be “free.” Hardly anyone stops and questions what this means, and how services that obviously cost incredible amounts of money can be free.

Every time there’s an election around the corner, the incumbent governments start throwing all kinds of subsidies and extra welfare benefits from helicopters. The recipients of these checks, even when they are taxpayers themselves, still perceive these payments as government assistance, as though their prime minister or president and all their cabinet members had simply reached into their own pockets given gifts, out of the kindness of their hearts.

Of course, once wealth redistribution became established as the norm, it also became much easier to push a much more aggressive agenda. Once again, with the aforementioned ideological and political “packaging,” a fierce hatred started to take root, dividing our societies in extremely dangerous ways, but also really expediting the concentration of power in the hands of the few. We have seen a huge escalation of this in the last twenty-five years.

The “rich,” the “1 percent,” the “privileged” and the “greedy capitalists” are all terms that attempted to describe some largely mythical group of people that had their boots on the throats of everybody else. At first, it was just money that made some people instantly evil and thereby justified using state force to dispossess them. However, this soon expanded to success in general. Just being better than one’s peers, working harder, cultivating a particular talent, it all became reason enough for anyone to become a member of that hated group.

See the rest here

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Transgender Debate Should Be about Women’s Freedom and Private Property Rights

Posted by M. C. on May 14, 2022

Too many social issues advocate for government, instead of individual, action to advance their causes even when it might come back to bite them under future governments. To achieve their aims, gender-critical feminists should fight for less government power instead of relying on the government to protect them. The transgender debate should be left to society because when you ask the average person “should biological men be allowed in women’s toilets,” they would say no. Instead, if we leave it up to a politician who faces the pressure of various militant pressure groups like Stonewall or Mermaids, they might likely give a different answer.

https://mises.org/wire/transgender-debate-should-be-about-womens-freedom-and-private-property-rights

Jess Gill

The hot topic in British politics is whether it is appropriate for transgender-identified males to go into women’s only spaces such as toilets, changing rooms, and prisons. With J.K. Rowling as their figurehead, there has been a rise of women voicing their concerns about their safety and comfort if biological males enter spaces intended for biological females.

Several gender-critical groups have used the Equality Act 2010 as a basis for excluding transgender-identified males from single-sex spaces. For example, The Women’s Rights Network welcomed the Equality and Human Right Commission’s guidance, which clarified that there “are circumstances where a lawfully established separate or single-sex service provider can exclude, modify or limit access to their service for trans people.”

However, the gender-critical argument based on human rights and progressive legislation is philosophically weak and will not last. Allowing the state to define what a “protected characteristic” is and who is allowed to discriminate will only protect women’s freedoms until the next general election. The leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, has already given into the gender ideologues after refusing to answer questions such as “Can a woman have a penis?” or “Do only women have cervixes?” when confronted on the radio show LBC. The Labour Party seems to be dogmatic on the issue of transgender inclusion with the Labour MP, Rosie Duffield, receiving “obsessive harassment” after standing up for women’s spaces. In addition, influential LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) groups like Stonewall have been advocating for the Equality Act to make exemptions for transgender people in single-sex spaces. Extending the Equality Act to prohibit women’s only spaces to exclude biological men under the basis of “gender identity” will most likely be at the top of a Labour government’s legislative agenda. As the likelihood that the Conservatives will lose the next general election increases, the basis of women’s freedoms will probably go as well.

Instead of depending on the government’s subjectivity to protect women, gender-critical feminists should advocate for property rights as a bedrock of their campaign. Advocating for property rights means advocating for a person to be able to do as they wish with that property. Gender-critical feminists should use property rights as a basis for excluding biological men from women’s only spaces. Advocating for property rights would protect institutions that defend women’s spaces that would be punished by antidiscrimination laws. Giving businesses this autonomy would allow them to protect single-sex spaces by having the freedom to set the parameters of who’s allowed on their property.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Decentralization and the Rise of the West: The European Miracle Revisited

Posted by M. C. on April 27, 2022

The Amsterdam magistrate, in contrast, chose to treat all merchants, local or foreign, equally. Relatively speaking, the Dutch Republic was a beacon of political, economic, and religious freedom in the seventeenth century, and Holland in particular experienced an economic boom in the Dutch Golden Age. 

https://mises.org/wire/decentralization-and-rise-west-european-miracle-revisited

Bas Spliet

Decentralization has long been at the forefront of the minds of Austro-libertarians. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, for instance, appeared on Austrian television this month sharing his dream of a Europe “which consists of 1,000 Liechtensteins.”

Although principally based on economic reasoning, this policy agenda emerged at least in part out of a celebration of the historiography on the “European miracle,” which posits that the West grew rich because of the existence of thousands of competing political entities of differing size and form in premodern Europe. Since Ralph Raico summarized this historiography thirty years ago, the “European miracle” school of thought has moved forward with varying degrees of success.

The European Miracle

Back in 1994, Ralph Raico wrote an essay on the then emerging “European miracle” school of thought in economic history. The scholars in this school, Raico argued, had at long last repudiated the “historical materialism” of the Marxists. Unlike Karl Marx and his followers, they insisted that technological change and economic growth were the result of certain legal, political, and ideological institutions—or the “superstructure,” in Marxist terms—rather than the other way around.

Institutions such as property rights, restraint in taxation, and liberalism, in turn, arose out of the political anarchy of medieval Europe. Although culturally homogenous and economically integrated, Europe for centuries remained a patchwork of different kingdoms, principalities, city-states, and ecclesiastical polities. This meant that the ever-growing middle classes of merchants, artisans, and shopkeepers could take their business elsewhere if the rulers usurped too much of their productive wealth. As a result, the political authorities competed with each other to develop an atmosphere conducive to economic freedom. As Eric Jones put it in The European Miracle, which Raico named his article after:

Political decentralization and competition did abridge the worst arbitrariness of European princes. There were many exceptions, but gradually they became just that, exceptions. Meanwhile, freedom of movement among the nation-states offered opportunities for “best practices” to diffuse in many spheres, not least the economic…. The number of states never shrank to one, to a single dominant empire, despite the ambitions of Charlemagne, the Hapsburg Charles V or Napoleon. Within many states a long process in the history of economic thought conditioned rulers to listen to academics and other wise men. Writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in central and western Europe dared to offer advice about how to rule, some of which was taken.

Political competition ultimately is what set the West apart from the rest. Asia’s Charlemagnes, Charles Vs, and Napoleons were successful in monopolizing political power, allowing them to establish command economies.

The Nation-State

Raico’s article appeared in a volume called The Collapse of Development Planning, edited by Peter J. Boettke. The implosion of the Soviet Union undoubtedly made Raico optimistic that the influence of left-wing ideologies in the field of economic history would collapse, too. Yet the institutional approach has not come to dominate the field. The idea that the rise of the West is principally the result of the exploitation of labor still holds a lot of support in academia.1 Historical narratives that explain the Industrial Revolution through out-of-the-blue technological progress or coincidental geographical factors abound as well. Moreover, historians have tried to prove the efficiency of premodern antimarket institutions, such as craft guilds and serfdom.

Finally, the nation-state is still allocated a decisive role in the economic rise of the West. In his Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction, for instance, Robert C. Allen celebrates the “standard model” for economic development spearheaded by nineteenth-century European nation-states and the US government. Influenced by Friedrich List and Alexander Hamilton, the four allegedly “successful” state policies, according to Allen, were investments in transportation and mass education, central banking, and tariffs.

Still, few historians would deny that political competition played a vital role in the European miracle. Niall Ferguson, for instance, included competition as the first of several “killer apps of Western power” in his popular 2011 book Civilization: The Six Killer Apps of Western Power. The problem is that since most historians are not libertarians, they do not a priori exclude the possibility that the nation-state can create wealth. Therefore, when government intervention and economic growth go hand in hand, even the institutionalists tend to conclude that the state somehow played a contributing role.

See the rest here

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Marxist Myth of the “Treadmill of Production” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on January 25, 2022

Much of the discussion from eco-Marxists and Facebook pseudointellectuals is counterproductive. They mistakenly blame free markets for a problem created by the government’s failure to ensure property rights. These free market critics often attack the market mechanisms that serve as the cures to our environmental woes. A proper solution to the current ecological situation is not possible without the inclusion of an unhampered price system and a legal system that upholds and protects property rights.

https://mises.org/wire/marxist-myth-treadmill-production

Baker Elkins

In recent years, Marxist theories of environmentalism have plagued online discourse and seeped their way into the public policy realm. Politicians then utilize these theories when formulating new legislation. While sometimes intimidating, these theories suffer significant flaws. Eco-Marxist theory, such as the “Treadmill of Production,” generally states two main criticisms of capitalism.

First, withdrawals from the environment. According to the eco-Marxists, production under modern capitalism requires a vast amount of material inputs. The energy/raw materials required to produce mass amounts of consumer goods leads to extreme resource depletion and waste; this is an insufficient criticism.

This is, at its core, an issue of scarcity. To the capitalist, it’s no surprise that using a resource diminishes its quantity supplied, but recognition of scarcity is a new concept for the Marxists. Scarcity is an obvious issue, but less obvious is how scarcity would be managed in a Marxist utopia absent of prices. The answer for a market economy is simple, the price system.

Rothbard beautifully explains how prices manage scarcity:

The first thing to be said about this is that on the free market, regardless of the stringency of supply, there is never any “shortage”, that is, there is never a condition where a purchaser cannot find supplies available at the market price. On the free market, there is always enough supply available to satisfy demand. The clearing mechanism is fluctuations in price. If, for example, there is an orange blight, and the supply of oranges declines, there is then an increasing scarcity of oranges, and the scarcity, is “rationed” voluntarily to the purchasers by the uncoerced rise in price, a rise sufficient to equalize supply and demand.

Resource depletion in a market economy has an easy fix and is ultimately a nonissue. The rising price of a good discourages the use of said good and prevents the good from running out. Rising prices for a good also creates a profit opportunity for entrepreneurs to find alternatives for that good. In contrast, a socialist economy has no bidding for privately owned resources, no prices, and as a result there is no clearing mechanism or scarcity indicator. See Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth.

The second criticism is additions to the environment. The eco-Marxists say modern production is more reliant on chemicals and energy to create consumer goods; chemical and energy intensive production leads to large additions to the environment—i.e., pollution.

What the eco-Marxists misunderstand is that pollution isn’t a problem of production; pollution is a problem of garbage disposal. As Walter Block puts it: “At its root all pollution is garbage disposal in one form or another.” There is nothing inherently wrong with production resulting in excess materials or chemicals, the core issue is how to dispose of the excess.

If pollution is a problem of garbage disposal and not a problem of production itself, then what is to blame? The legal system. The current legal system has failed to protect property rights; instead, the law protects polluters and trespassers. Governments that once allowed individuals to take polluters to court in nuisance suits now auction off permission to pollute. Courts of law historically protected land owners from factory pollutants and other forms of trespass. This legal precedent changed in the 1830s and ’40s, when legal systems ceased protecting property rights and allowed pollution for the “greater good.”

[Read More: “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution” by Murray N. Rothbard]

Polluters can now dump fertilizer and chemicals into rivers with permission from the Environmental Protection Agency. Pollutants can be pumped into the air as long as polluters line the pockets of the EPA’s Clean Air Markets Division and receive a pollution permit. If the federal government’s many regulatory agencies have failed and succumbed to special interests, what makes left-leaning environmentalists and progressive public policy makers think that new environmental protection agencies will fare any differently?

Much of the discussion from eco-Marxists and Facebook pseudointellectuals is counterproductive. They mistakenly blame free markets for a problem created by the government’s failure to ensure property rights. These free market critics often attack the market mechanisms that serve as the cures to our environmental woes. A proper solution to the current ecological situation is not possible without the inclusion of an unhampered price system and a legal system that upholds and protects property rights. Author:

Baker Elkins

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Poor Forgotten Baker – LewRockwell LewRockwell.com

Posted by M. C. on November 10, 2021

The libertarian position on discrimination has nothing to do with racism, sexism, prejudice, bigotry, hate, intolerance, homophobia, or xenophobia and everything to do with freedom.

Anti-discrimination laws are an attack on property rights, freedom of association, the free market, and freedom of thought.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/11/laurence-m-vance/the-poor-forgotten-baker/

By Laurence M. Vance

Earlier this year, Colorado baker Jack Phillips got in trouble again for exercising what he thought was his right in a free country to discriminate. Some libertarians have been strangely quiet about his plight.

In 2013, Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, was accused by Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission (CCRD) of discriminating against a homosexual couple because he refused to bake them a cake for their “wedding.” An administrative law judge found in favor of the couple, and this was affirmed by the Commission. The decision was appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, which again affirmed the Commission’s decision in 2015. A petition for a writ of certiorari was filed with the Supreme Court in 2016, and was granted in 2017. The Court, in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018), in a 7-2 vote, ruled in favor of Phillips because “the Commission’s actions here violated the Free Exercise Clause.”

But the radical left wasn’t done with Phillips.

Soon after the Supreme Court decision, Autumn Scardina—who was born and remains a man no matter how many left-libertarians call him a woman—requested that Phillips bake him a cake pink on the inside and blue on the outside to celebrate his birthday and seventh anniversary of his “gender transition” from male to female.

Phillips refused, so Scardina filed a complaint with the CCRD.

CCRD director Aubrey Elenis concluded that there was probable cause that Phillips had unlawfully denied Scardina “equal enjoyment of a place of public accommodation,” and ordered the two to enter mediation. Phillips, represented again by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), sued the state of Colorado in U.S. District Court in Denver for renewing its “crusade” again him because he again refused to bake a cake that would have violated his religious beliefs.

In March 2019, the state Attorney General’s office announced that it and Phillips’ attorneys had “mutually agreed to end their ongoing state and federal court litigation,” including the CCRD action against Phillips.

So Scardina filed a civil suit of his own in state court.

In June of this year, Denver District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones ruled that Phillips violated Colorado anti-discrimination law by refusing to bake the special cake and fined him $500. (I wonder if the judge would have likewise ruled that a Jewish baker who refused to bake a cake for Nazis in honor of Hitler’s birthday and a seamstress who refused to monogram robes for Klan members violated Colorado anti-discrimination law? Of course he wouldn’t.)

For months now I have been watching carefully the libertarian reaction to Phillips’ recent plight. It is almost non-existent from some quarters. And when the right of Phillips to discriminate is mentioned, it is usually tempered by some statement implying that his beliefs are wrong. As one prominent libertarian said back in June: “You may not agree with Phillips’ beliefs—I don’t—but a liberal, pluralistic society requires tolerance for people of different moral beliefs coexisting without using the state to crush dissent out of one another.”

CDC libertarians are so enamored with the Covid-19 vaccine that they have forgotten about the poor baker. They have been so busy telling us that private businesses have the right to require that their customers wear masks, social distance, and get the Covid-19 vaccine that they have ignored Jack Phillips. Never in their life have they talked as much about the right of businesses to discriminate as they have during the past year. But it is usually always in reference to the right of businesses to discriminate against the unmasked and the unvaccinated.

Since CDC libertarians rarely make an unequivocal case for the absolute freedom of discrimination, let me state the libertarian position on discrimination as clearly and succinctly as I can: Since discrimination—against anyone, on any basis, and for any reason—is not aggression, force, coercion, threat, or violence, the government should never prohibit it, seek to prevent it, or punish anyone for doing it.

The libertarian position on discrimination has nothing to do with racism, sexism, prejudice, bigotry, hate, intolerance, homophobia, or xenophobia and everything to do with freedom.

Anti-discrimination laws are an attack on property rights, freedom of association, the free market, and freedom of thought.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to Use Democracy To Deny Human Rights | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on August 31, 2021

In the end, the fact that the notion of a people not needing a government to have their freedom of religion and speech seems absurd represents the devastating extent to which the statist mentality has been cemented in the minds of the men, women, and children of this country.

https://mises.org/wire/how-use-democracy-deny-human-rights

Ayush Poolovadoo

“You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
– Mark Twain

Since its rebirth as an independent state in 1968, this paradisaic island has been touted as a paragon of democratic political institutions promoting rapid economic growth and motivating its citizens to overcome divisions of religion, language, ethnicity, and region of origin. It is looked up to as an example of thriving democracy and constitutionalism in the aftermath, most recently, of Dutch, French, and British colonization.

One benefits greatly from venturing beyond a cursory look at this small island republic’s admirable history and digging into the respect for institutions borrowed from its Western overseers. In doing so, it becomes painfully transparent that proselytizing about the virtuous and egalitarian character of a representative democracy has been little more than another shrewd but effective tactic of the state to maintain its essentially illiberal nature with the end goal of enthralling the ancestors of present-day Mauritians and ensuring that their descendants are born under its yoke.

The Lack of Preexisting Cultural and Societal Institutions

Unlike a select few of its fellow African entities, such as Botswana or Madagascar, Mauritius has not had the advantage of precolonial institutions or cultural frameworks to promote resistance against the state’s encroachment on property rights or to provide guidance for development following the departure of the colonizers. With regard to Madagascar, several Malagasy tribes, specifically the Merina, had such institutions. This society, descended from Southeast Asian settlers, adhered to a legal code instituted by its Hindu aristocracy, which l’Estrac describes in Mauritians: Children of a Thousand Races, his 2004 work, as outlining a basic social order, the organization of justice, the status of the family, property rights, moral values, and territory. However, this lack of precolonial institutions or frameworks did not prevent the spark for an anarchic society from coming forth.

Beginning in the late seventeenth century, the incumbent Dutch colonial administrators witnessed not only the ruthlessness and violence they could inspire in rebels and runaway slaves, but also how this diverse group, comprising Malagasy and Indian slaves, could achieve peaceful coexistence. Taking refuge in the uncharted Mauritian wilderness upon their escape, this seemingly disparate group of former slaves, miles away from their respective motherlands, established a society in which each individual’s land was demarcated and neighbors’ property and individual rights, as well as their freedom to practice whichever faith they belonged to, were respected. The commonalities that transcended their differences were their love of freedom and willingness to take any measures necessary to defend their liberty. No measure was so drastic or immortalized as their arsonist massacres of the Dutch establishment in 1677 and their escape to Bourbon Island (present-day Réunion).

Thus, if we are to lament the loss of a truly voluntarist spirit among the island’s modern-day citizens, as well as its diaspora, we can pinpoint the departure of its anarchic ancestors, in the pursuit of their own freedom, as the downward turning point in the fight against the state. The fight for freedom by any means necessary did not end here; uprisings and revolts became increasingly frequent over the following years, manifested by Malagasy and Indian slaves who saw slow, excruciating deaths as free men and women as preferable to lifetimes spent chained and shackled. 

The State Wises Up

Under no colonial administration were the state’s attempts to keep disenfranchised groups pitted against one another more beautifully executed than under the French (1715–1810). The legal codes and governmental practices that their bureaucracy left behind were fundamental to keeping the freedoms and aspirations of the island’s inhabitants in check.

However, to understand how these manifestations of statism in their colonial incarnations function, it is crucial to gain an accurate picture of who stood where in the social hierarchy of the day. At the dawn of French rule, the elite consisted of French-born inhabitants who had arrived in service to the East India Company. Whites born on the island were directly beneath them. Then the Creoles, foreigners (Englishmen and Dutchmen), and, finally, the slaves, the latter of which were separately categorized as black, Indian, or Malagasy. At the turn of the century, this hierarchy had remained more or less unchanged, perhaps with greater diversity in the middle class (the “people of color”), which at this point consisted of free Indians and Creoles.

With specific regard to the Indians, a singularly ingenious strategy by the French colonial government to gain better control over them was the creation of the “chief of the Malabars” (chefs de Malabars) office1 in 1784. The position was created in response to frequent intracommunal feuds.

The position was filled by Denis Pitchen, a wealthy Tamilian Catholic born to free Indian parents. At a superficial level, Pitchen’s elevation to a position of authority as a nonwhite resident would be lauded as a milestone for the representation of nonwhites, particularly by apologists of colonialism or advocates of reform through bureaucratic channels. However, l’Estrac provides us with two wrinkles that undermine this milestone’s glorious sheen:

  • Pitchen was a slave owner, and among his possessions were other fellow Indian Christians. This drew the ire of the Catholic Church, which expressed its indignation at the enslavement of Christians.
  • Rather than serving any meaningful diplomatic position, the office of the chief simply served as a conduit for the Franco-Mauritian plantocracy to infiltrate the Indian camp and ensure that their internal troubles would not affect the administration’s hold over them.

Pitchen’s performative elevation was a crippling blow to the self-determination of the inhabitants. This tactic was a common one for rulers: elect an elite or a committee of them from the disenfranchised classes and grant them a few privileges to convince them of the benefits of retaining the present system of governance. The efficacy of this strategy is evident in the resignation of the future generations to the legislative and executive tools of the French and, later, the British as the best pathways to improve their condition and environment.

In their 2015 article in the journal International Labor and Working-Class, Yoshina Hurgobin and Subho Basu not only confirm the predicament of indentured laborers, as previously mentioned, but also reveal the despicable bastardization and repression under oligarchies and all forms of big-government camps throughout history (a feat that Murray N. Rothbard defines as the theft of capitalism from laissez-faire liberals by right-wing traditionalists). Knowing that an open and free labor market would allow laborers to pursue better-paying jobs or positions in which they could diversify their skills, the plantocracy saw to it that the state’s anticapitalistic and illiberal character trumped any entrepreneurial spirit that was slowly brewing within Mauritian society.

The state’s decisive blow to freedom and liberty came in 1886, when the revered reformist Sir William Newton began the electoral tradition of the Council of Government. Newton was very careful to restrict the franchise to those who met the criteria of earning a certain income and owning a certain amount of wealth in the form of assets or land. Despite this discriminatory restriction of the franchise, the masses’ adoration of democracy would soon grow into a general culture of leaving the responsibility of governance in the hands of “elected” officials. This contract, however, is merely symbolic, as their own constitution only recognizes three groups (Hindus, Muslims, and Chinese), with the remaining communities being lumped together under “general population.”

Conclusion

As the politicians and lawmakers of the Mauritian political structure have become more diverse (only with regard to ethnicity and religion, as opposed to diversity of thought and philosophy), the Mauritian population has convinced themselves that their fight for liberty and self-respect as a nation is behind them, remaining ignorant of the pyrrhic nature of their “victory.” In the end, the fact that the notion of a people not needing a government to have their freedom of religion and speech seems absurd represents the devastating extent to which the statist mentality has been cemented in the minds of the men, women, and children of this country.

  • 1. In the colonial context, “malabar” was a generic term used to describe Indians brought to the island, some as slaves and some as indentured laborers. The term refers to the Malabar Coast of the Tamilnadu state in south India.

Author:

Ayush Poolovadoo

Ayush Poolovadoo is a native of Mauritius and studies Politics and International Relations at Newcastle University.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

TGIF: Who’s the Aggressor? Who’s the Victim? | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on July 17, 2021

If the point of rights theory is to enable human beings to flourish as they live side by side peacefully and cooperatively in society, then any theory that regards land and other scarce resources as jointly owned by all of humanity is in for problems. The moral is the practical.

The principle of nonaggression is universal: you may not interfere with me, and I may not interfere with you. Liberty for all means no one is aggressed against. Society should be based on consent and cooperation.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/tgif-whos-the-aggressor-whos-the-victim/

by Sheldon Richman

rothbard

When a libertarian says that the most basic individual right is the right not to be aggressed against, a clever interlocutor may accuse the libertarian of begging the question, of stuffing the rabbit into the hat. The trick, the critic will say, is in the word aggress: libertarians allegedly rig the game by restricting the category of aggression to only the actions they disapprove of, thereby institutionalizing many corrupt activities.

For example, If Jones tells Smith to get off land to which Jones has legal title, is it really clear that Smith is in the wrong and Jones is in the right? The critic will offer a counter-narrative: it’s considered Jones’s land because the political system arbitrarily defines property rights in a certain way. It might have defined rights differently so that Smith could walk on the land as wishes. So why not see Jones as the aggressor against Smith?

If the libertarian responded that Jones transformed the hitherto unowned parcel by mixing his labor with it, perhaps by clearing and fencing it, the critic might respond that Jones’s act constituted aggression because, unlike yesterday and the day before, no one now may step on the land without Jones’s permission. Jones, in other words, restricts everyone else’s freedom. Who’s right and who’s wrong would depend on one’s point of view.

This case against libertarian property rights implies that land has never been unowned because it has always been owned by humanity in common. Such a position was taken most famously by Henry George. While George did not oppose individuals’ use of parcels of land, he said that users ought to have to pay land rent to the community, the true owners. This was George’s “single tax.” Murray Rothbard rebutted George’s case in both its moral and economic dimensions. (See also Rothbard’s Power and Market.)

If the point of rights theory is to enable human beings to flourish as they live side by side peacefully and cooperatively in society, then any theory that regards land and other scarce resources as jointly owned by all of humanity is in for problems. The moral is the practical. So imagine the impracticality of determining how a piece of land is to be used if everyone is to have a say in the matter. Yet if human beings are to prosper, decisions about how to use scarce resources are crucial. No one is infallible or has a monopoly of wisdom about the “best” use of resources, but we have the next best thing: the market and its price system. The market provides indispensable signals about ever-changing supplies and consumer preferences. Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek made their marks as great economists by, among other things, showing that market prices are the only things we have to relieve, insofar as possible, our ignorance about how scarce resources can be used best to serve everyone’s welfare. Private property and free markets expand rather than contract the public’s access to resources.

The critic of libertarianism may listen and nod but continue to insist that we have no objective way to tell who is the aggressor: Smith or Jones. But maybe we do.

Life is not an abstraction. Individual people are beings who live day to day through the pursuit of projects, which usually involve the cooperation of others. Since we are physical beings, that pursuit requires control over things, including land, and therefore noninterference by other people. How could we live and plan long term if our activities could be interfered with and the fruits of our efforts could be appropriated by others? I take for granted that each person is a self-owner because denial of this principle collapses in absurdity. Lincoln wrote that “if slavery isn’t wrong, nothing is wrong.” Abolitionists called slave owners “man-stealers.” If self-ownership isn’t right, then nothing is right.

The principle of nonaggression is universal: you may not interfere with me, and I may not interfere with you. Liberty for all means no one is aggressed against. Society should be based on consent and cooperation.

In the story above, if we assume Jones acquired the land justly through homesteading, purchase, or gift, then the land is part of his project, and Smith’s trespass constitutes interference with Jones’s life. (Of course, trespass can be trivial, and methods of prevention or redress would have to be proportional to the offense. Put bluntly, Jones can’t shoot Smith merely for setting foot on his land.)

Yes, in a physical sense, Jones’s ownership “interferes” with Smith’s freedom, although not his ability to live as a human being (except perhaps in an emergency). But human action is never merely physical. Justice is relevant. The same physical act can be just or unjust depending on the circumstances.

I think this demonstrates that the libertarian case does not pack its conclusions into its definition of aggression. Hard cases of course can arise, but generally we can determine who is the rightful owner and who is wrongfully interfering.

Finally, I have not tried to sort out the case of ownership clouded by historical injustice, namely, theft. What to do about this is a complicated matter, in part because of the variety of cases, on which I claim no particular wisdom. Those who wish to delve into the problem can begin by looking at what Rothbard had to say in The Ethics of Liberty.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The GOP Is Not Your Savior | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 17, 2021

Unfortunately, the answer is that the Republicans would not have saved us, and for two reasons, one historical and the other philosophical: (1) Republicans have never saved us from the bad policies and programs of Democrats, regardless of whether they had partial or total control of the government and could have done something, and (2) Republicans are philosophically not much different from Democrats, regardless of how often and how loud they recite their conservative mantra about the Constitution, the free market, limited government, federalism, traditional values, free enterprise, a balanced budget, individual freedom, free trade, and property rights.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/the-gop-is-not-your-savior/

by Laurence Vance

If Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) had not gotten sick and resigned his Senate seat, then the title of this article would have been “Will the Republicans Save Us?”

After serving in the Georgia state house and senate, Isakson served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He was re-elected in 2010 and 2016. Although his Senate term did not expire until January 2023, in August 2019 he announced that because of his Parkinson’s disease and other health challenges, he was resigning his Senate seat effective at the end of 2019. Under Georgia law, the governor—Brian Kemp, a Republican—was allowed to make an appointment to fill the unexpired term until the next regularly scheduled statewide election (November 3, 2020). He selected Republican Kelly Loeffler, the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), who had never held political office. She assumed office in January 2020.

Under Georgia election law, all candidates for a special election, regardless of their political party, compete in a “jungle primary” where every name is on the November general election ballot. If no candidate in what is usually a crowded field receives more than 50 percent of the vote, then a runoff election is conducted in January. All told, there were twenty-one candidates—including a write-in candidate who received seven votes—most of whom received less than 1 percent of the vote. Loeffler finished second in the special election with 25.9 percent of the vote. That is why she was in the January 5 runoff election for the Senate seat she held at the time. But although Loeffler claimed to be the most conservative Republican in the Senate, and was considered to be the richest member of the Senate, she lost in the runoff election to the Democrat Raphael Warnock by the slim margin of 50.8 to 49.2 percent.

It is because of this special election that Georgia was the only state to hold two Senate elections in 2020. In the Senate, the 100 senators are divided into three classes with staggered terms. Thus, only one-third of the Senate seats are contested at any election, and never more than one Senate seat in a state. In the regular Senate race in Georgia, the incumbent Republican David Perdue—the cousin of former Georgia governor and Trump administration Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue—was seeking a second term. But as he received only 49.7 percent of the vote (47.9 percent went for Democrat Jon Ossoff and 2.3 percent went for Libertarian Shane Hazel), Georgia law required a runoff election between the top two candidates. But in the January 5 runoff election, Ossoff defeated Perdue by a margin of 50.4 to 49.6 percent.

Winning these two Georgia Senate seats is how the Democrats wrested control of the Senate from the Republicans, who had controlled the Senate since January 2015. Prior to the Georgia runoff election, there were 50 Republicans in the Senate and 48 Democrats (including the two independent members of the Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, who caucus with the Democrats). So now that the Senate is tied 50-50, the Democratic vice president, the former senator Kamala Harris, gets to cast the tie-breaking vote, effectively giving Democrats control of the Senate.

The Democrats

One-party control of the government is dangerous. Gridlock in the Congress helps prevent one party — whether Democrats or Republicans — from exercising unbridled power. Thus, even if one Georgia Senate seat had been won by a Republican, it could have stopped bad legislation proposed by Democrats from passing (assuming that all of the Senate Republicans voted together). But the reality is that life under Democratic rule will be especially dangerous to privacy, liberty, and property.

Now, we know that the Democratic Party for many years has been the party of liberalism, progressivism, collectivism, socialism, paternalism, statism, environmentalism, “social justice,” economic egalitarianism, organized labor, taxpayer-funded abortion, public education, climate change, affirmative action, welfare, higher taxes on the “rich,” universal single-payer health care, increased government regulation of the economy and society, increased government spending, larger and more-intrusive government, and assorted income-transfer programs and wealth-redistribution schemes. The Democratic solution to every problem, injustice, or crisis — real, imaginary, or contrived—is invariably more government, more government intervention, or more government money.

The Democratic Party is not just going to pick up where it left off at the end of the Obama administration. Democrats in Congress will stop at nothing to achieve their agenda. The Democratic Party of today is even more radical than it was twelve years ago during the first two years of Obama’s first term, which was the last time that Democrats had total control of the federal government (House, Senate, presidency).

What’s On the Table

In an episode of “The Libertarian Angle” recorded just two days after the Electoral College vote was certified, Future of Freedom Foundation president Jacob Hornberger and Citadel professor Richard Ebeling examined the question of life under Democratic control and it was not a pretty picture they painted. According to Hornberger and Ebeling, we are going to see massive increases in federal spending, and the debt ceiling rendered totally irrelevant; massive foreign intervention, since Biden is essentially owned by the national-security state; increased focus on official enemies, expansion of the role of the military in American life, expansion of the welfare state, the revitalization of Obamacare, the attempt to implement a full-fledged government health-care system, and the expansion of the war on drugs (a war that Biden supported when he was vice president and Harris supported as a prosecutor); increased federal regulations, massive welfare-state socialism, a more centrally planned economy, massive debauchery of the currency, tax increases, increased anti-trust enforcement, a national increase in the minimum wage, elements of the “green new deal,” and emphasis on equality of outcomes and proportional representation of minorities in all groups; and more money creation by the Fed, increased inflation, wage and price controls to combat inflation, and a more interventionist foreign policy. They concluded that under a Biden administration, everything is on the table that could be a danger to our liberty, privacy, income, wealth, property, and freedom in the marketplace.

To this we can certainly add increased deficit spending, further increases in the national debt, unrestricted funding for Planned Parenthood, loosened restrictions on taxpayer-funded abortions, increased enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, expanded gun-control laws, a federal family-leave policy, government-funded child care, increased resources devoted to fighting climate change, increased violation of privacy and civil liberties in response to the coronavirus, fewer welfare-work requirements, and increased promotion of the transgender movement.

On the basis of statements in the 2020 Democratic Party platform, the recommendations in the “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations,” and statements from Biden himself, we can also look forward to extended unemployment benefits, a $15 per hour minimum wage, and more-generous refundable tax credits that give even more Americans tax refunds of money that they never paid in; increased funding for food stamps, WIC, and school-meal programs; greater “investment” in mass transit and transportation public-works projects, “fair” trade policies and deals, expanded farm and housing subsidies, a national goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings and vehicles, and “environmental justice”; increases in corporate tax rates, aggressive attempts to increase the supply of “affordable” housing, increased government efforts to close the racial wealth gap, increased spending on K-12 education, tuition-free college, increased federal education grants, extended student-loan payment suspension, and student-debt relief; and making Washington, D.C., the 51st state, an increased push for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, the ending of cash bail, the passing of an Equal Rights Amendment, increased condemnation of “hate speech,” the reauthorization and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act, the securing of equal pay for women, and increased funding for arts and culture.

The Republicans

Read the rest here

This article was originally featured at the Future of Freedom Foundation

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Of Two Minds – What’s Yours Is Now Mine: America’s Era of Accelerating Expropriation

Posted by M. C. on April 27, 2021

The takeaway here is obvious: earn as little money as possible and invest your surplus labor in assets that can’t be expropriated. Develop low-overhead gigs and enterprises that are 100% yours so you can legitimately write off expenses and control how much work you decide to take on. Keep accurate records and pay whatever taxes are due, but by minimizing net income then taxes will be modest. Invest your best self, time and energy in assets that can’t be assessed, taxed or expropriated: your skills, networks, value you create and invest in your own self-sufficiency, sharing and good living of the kind that can’t be bought or sold or expropriated.

https://www.oftwominds.com/blogapr21/expropriation4-21.html

Charles Hugh Smith

The takeaway here is obvious: earn as little money as possible and invest your surplus labor in assets that can’t be expropriated.

Expropriation: dispossessing the populace of property and property rights, via the legal and financial over-reach of monetary and political authorities.

All expropriations are pernicious, but the most destructive is the expropriation of labor’s value while the excessive gains of unproductive speculation accrue to the elite that owns most of the nation’s wealth.

In a nation in which the leadership has finely honed the art and artifice of legalized looting and financial legerdemain, it’s not surprising that the expropriation of labor’s value takes many forms. For the self-employed and small business proprietor, the list is practically endless:

1. Proliferating junk fees for permits, licence renewals, applications, late fees, penalties, fines for violating obscure regulations, etc. (Never mind if you’re losing money; by definition, as a business owner you’re “rich” and deserve petty expropriations. If you’re Amazon, however, we’ll shower you with subsidies and tax breaks.)

2. Sky-high liability insurance, disability insurance and workers compensation insurance, because all the fraud and friction in these systems adds expense and you’re the one who will pay for it all.

3. Sky-high rent. Now that the Federal Reserve jacked up the “market value” of a $1 million commercial building to $10 million via asset inflation, rents have soared even though no improvements have been made to the tenants’ spaces. Thanks to the Fed, rents are many multiples of what they would be if the Fed hadn’t jacked up real estate to absurd overvaluations.

4. Taxes on wages. Consider the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State: let’s start with the 15.3% federal self-employment tax on wages up to $142,000, then add federal tax rates that quickly reach 32% and up and state taxes that hit 10% and higher in high-tax states, and then don’t forget the extra 3.9% Medicare tax above $125,000, and when we add all this up, the total tax rate exceeds 61%. (You want to quibble? OK, make it 55%. How much difference does this make? None.)

Now this may be acceptable in Scandinavian nations where you receive virtually free healthcare and higher education, but here in the Accelerating Expropriation USA, the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State has to pay insanely costly healthcare insurance out of the 39% that’s been oh-so-generously left to live on, as well as the insanely high student loans that were taken out to attend university.

Factor those in and the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State gets a third or less of her labor’s value. This only rises slightly in so-called lower-tax states, which tend to compensate for lower income taxes with high sales taxes and property taxes (“they get you coming and going.”)

Inflation is stealth expropriation, and like all expropriation, we’re told it’s for our own good, just like any other beating delivered by authorities. So as the Fed pushes asset inflation to Mars and whines that real-inflation isn’t high enough yet, the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State are experiencing a monthly expropriation of the purchasing power of what little labor value has been left to them.

I received an insightful email on this topic from A.C.:

“Expropriation.

Once you’ve had it done to you personally (as I did through my business) you view the world in a whole new light.

Without assets in which you can store the excess value of your labor minus the worry of debasement or theft, the incentive to create that excess goes away. That’s why the BLS ‘take this job and shove it’ JOLT measure is staying so stubbornly high.

Unfortunately, it’s that excess labor that funds what we call civilization.

People without the margins which excess labor can create tend to revert, for their own security, to community groupings based on familial bonds. They’re a store of value that’s stable and can’t be inflated away.

Those without such bonds are SOL. Hunger goes a long way in mitigating the personality disorders which impair the creation of such bonds.”


Here’s the takeaway: Any “wealth” denominated in financial instruments will be expropriated by one means or another, so “wealth” has to be denominated in some other “currency”, social, cultural, skills / intellectual, that is beyond the grasp of monetary and political authorities. This is the primary reason why crazy risky speculation is being pursued with such intensity: there is no way to escape the grinding impoverishment of expropriation for most wage-earners except to make more “wealth” via crazy-risky gambles than is being expropriated.
The Only Way to Get Ahead Now Is Crazy-Risky Speculation.

There’s another dynamic few grasp: When the Empire runs out of colonies to exploit, it brings its expropriation machinery home to stripmine the domestic populace. I explained this dynamic back in 2012:

Neofeudalism and the Neocolonial-Financialization Model (4/24/12)

Welcome to Neocolonialism, Exploited Peasants! (10/21/16) October 21, 2016

Why are we not surprised that as expropriation accelerates on all fronts, the Middle Class Now Holds Less Wealth than Top 1 Percent? (brookings.edu) Thanks to the magic of pay-to-play “democracy,” the super-wealthy and corporate elites escape all the expropriation machinery stripmining wage earners. The corporate taxes collected are a tiny slice of the hundreds of billions corporations spend on stock buybacks, the only purpose of which is to enrich insiders and the super-wealthy who own most of the nation’s financial assets.

The takeaway here is obvious: earn as little money as possible and invest your surplus labor in assets that can’t be expropriated. Develop low-overhead gigs and enterprises that are 100% yours so you can legitimately write off expenses and control how much work you decide to take on. Keep accurate records and pay whatever taxes are due, but by minimizing net income then taxes will be modest. Invest your best self, time and energy in assets that can’t be assessed, taxed or expropriated: your skills, networks, value you create and invest in your own self-sufficiency, sharing and good living of the kind that can’t be bought or sold or expropriated.

I cover these topics in greater depth in my books:

Get a Job, Build a Real Career, Defy a Bewildering Economy

An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times

Money and Work Unchained

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Equality Act’s Attack on Religion Is Really about Private Property Rights | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on April 9, 2021

It has become clear that these laws are a fruitful and convenient vehicle—from the policymaker’s perspective—to advancing federal control over all of private life. As time goes on, expect lawmakers to turn again and again to these laws as a means of expanding government control of private organizations of every size, shape, purpose, mission, and religion. 

https://mises.org/wire/equality-acts-attack-religion-really-about-private-property-rights

Ryan McMaken

With the introduction of the Equality Act of 2021—and its passage in the House—the Democratic Party and its allies continue the now well-established tradition of using “antidiscrimination” and “public accommodation” laws to continue the attack on the private sector and private institutions once somewhat insulated from regime control. 

Historically these laws, acts, and court rulings—found initially in the Civil Rights Act of 1964—focused largely on regulating hiring and the provision of services at private institutions. These legislative and judicial acts regulate how private owners of restaurants and hotels—and a wide variety of other private establishments—enter into verbal or written contracts with potential employees, clients, and customers.

Initially, these mandates focused on regulating how business provide services to religious minorities and what the Canadians call “visible minorities”—i.e., non-whites. The laws began with just regulating private for-profit “public carriers” and organizations known to provide “public accommodation” of basic necessities.  The Equality Act, however, greatly expands these federal powers. First, the Act continues to expand the groups that are considered “protected” groups, most notably LGBT groups. Second, while older provisions tended to target run-of-the-mill businesses, the Act now expands federal power in order to regulate religious institutions, as well. The Act moves to ensure that fewer and fewer Americans will be able to exercise the free exercise of religion as a means of avoiding federal mandates. The Act also expands federal control over medical institutions and employees. 

It has become clear that these laws are a fruitful and convenient vehicle—from the policymaker’s perspective—to advancing federal control over all of private life. As time goes on, expect lawmakers to turn again and again to these laws as a means of expanding government control of private organizations of every size, shape, purpose, mission, and religion. 

What Is the Equality Act?

How exactly does the Equality Act expand regime control over the private sector? It redefines which organizations are subject to “public accommodation” laws, and it adds new interest groups that private sector institutions will be forced to service in a manner to the regime’s liking.  For instance, the act would make it discriminatory to deny certain medical procedures to transgender persons:

[t]he Equality Act would force hospitals and insurers to provide and pay for [sexual transition] therapies against any moral or medical objections [raised by medical personnel]. It would politicize medicine by forcing professionals to act against their best medical judgment and provide transition-affirming therapies.

The Act goes well beyond only medical institutions: 

The text of the bill explicitly includes … “any establishment that provides a good, service, or program, including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services.”

Notable among these is the expansion to “shelters” which include domestic violence shelters. Under the Equality Act, these organizations would be required to house males self-identifying as women in shelters alongside abused women.

The inclusion of salons is also notable, since—as was exhibited by the notorious Jessica Yaniv case in Canada—public accommodation mandates would likely erase the ability of salons to limit waxing services to women only. Naturally, as in the Yaniv case, the employees at these institutions could potentially be forced into waxing men’s genitals provided those men identify as women.

The Act also could easily be interpreted as a blanket ban on refusals to perform abortions:

The Equality Act bans discrimination on the basis of “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition,” and courts and the federal government have interpreted “related medical condition” to mean “abortion.” It is, therefore, quite conceivable that courts could soon interpret the Equality Act as requiring private insurance and government health-care programs to fund abortion.

The Abolition of Religious Exemptions

But perhaps most central to the Act are its provisions to reduce exemptions for religious persons and institutions. Historically, federal law and federal court decisions have in many cases noted that religious institutions—if the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is to mean anything—must be able to behave in ways that are compatible with religious belief. Thus, in some cases, a church or other religious organization can refuse to hire persons who espouse ideology or behavior that stands contrary to a religious group’s beliefs. Similarly, in some cases, a religious doctor or nurse could have found some protections under these provisions for refusing to perform religiously objectionable medical procedures such as sex reassignment surgery or abortions.

This has always been rather weak tea in terms of limiting federal powers, since it restricts private discretion to only those acts that are religiously motivated. Moreover, government agents themselves—i.e., government judges—have also often arrogated to themselves the power to determine if a discriminatory decision fits under any known religious category. In other words, the government will tell you if your legal defense can be defined as a religious defense. Moreover, as the Masterpiece Cake Shop case and similar cases have shown, even religious objections fail to provide much in the way of protection from these legal mandates.

Nevertheless, even these few and weak loopholes are too much for backers of the Equality Act which is designed to further restrict religious freedom:

University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock has warned that the Equality Act would “crush” religious dissenters. “It goes very far to stamp out religious exemptions…. It regulates religious non-profits. And then it says that [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] does not apply to any claim under the Equality Act. This would be the first time Congress has limited the reach of RFRA. This is not a good-faith attempt to reconcile competing interests. It is an attempt by one side to grab all the disputed territory and to crush the other side.”

If the Act passes, we should expect an avalanche of lawsuits against religious schools and similar institutions that attempt to hire only employees who reflect the organizations’ missions. 

A Doorway to Widespread Regulation of Private Life

This was to be expected. The public accommodation provisions have long served as a doorway for federal regulators to enter and manage the daily minutiae of private life and the private sector. The expansion of these powers under the Equality Act is only the next logical step. After all, this body of law has always constituted a direct assault on the private sector and the institution of private property, bringing more and more of private life under the watchful eye of government bureaucrats. It has provided an excuse for government regulators to investigate, fine, sue, and otherwise harass and destroy business owners in a wide variety of ways. For those business owners who cannot afford a legal defense, there is no recourse.

Naturally, this is all to the benefit of the regime itself. As Ludwig von Mises has noted, private property is an institution that is absolutely central and essential in limiting government power and in providing some small realm of freedom beyond the reach of the regime’s coercion. Like market institutions and the family, religious institutions are themselves within the private sector and a key part of what the early laissez-faire liberals called “society.” Society represents those noncoercive institutions that are to be contrasted with the state and its mandates, imposed under threat of fines and imprisonment. All else being equal, it’s a good thing that religious organizations have been able to exercise discretion in “discrimination” even if these same freedoms were denied to others. Some freedom—what some might call loopholes—is preferable to no freedom. 

But that was never enough for the advocates of the Equality Act, and they’re now moving faster in the wrong direction. The small bit of freedom carved out for religious institutions is being reduced further and religious institutions are likely to soon be considered more or less indistinguishable from long-beleaguered commercial organizations. 

The Answer Lies in Private Property

But what we can we do about the problem of private sector discrimination that’s truly designed to disadvantage some specific minority group? Ironically, the answer lies in protecting private property.

For those of us who are concerned about increasing access to goods and services for minority groups—ethnic and otherwise—it is most effective to combat the regime’s restrictions on private sector activities and lower barriers to entry in the marketplace. The legal public accommodation edifice is largely built on the idea that firms headed by bigots will be able to establish partial or total monopolies that can dictate to consumers who can buy what. In a reasonably free economy, however, this is extremely unlikely. As I have shown in the past, we can find many examples of much-discriminated-against Japanese Americans and Latinos—and in other groups that have built up ethnic economic enclaves—rushing to provide a responsive economic foundation of goods and services built around the needs of their group. If our goal is to broaden and expand services—and those who can count on them—the last thing we need is an ever more repressive legal regime built on the constant threat of lawsuits and fines for organizations that run afoul of the regime’s ideological preferences. 

On the other hand, it is unlikely that the backers of the Equality Act are actually motivated by securing economic prosperity for constituents. Rather, this is about settling political scores—carving out privileges for certain interest groups at the expense of other interest groups. In other words, it’s a culture war. And that means maximizing the regime’s ability to dole out favors and punishments.  Author:

Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power&Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado and was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »