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Posts Tagged ‘Property Rights’

WHY TAXATION IS SLAVERY

Posted by M. C. on September 2, 2020

Now I put it to you that the above description is exactly the reality that you face in relation to government as we know it today. The “I” in the example above is the IRS. It takes away your money by means of coercion, intimidation, and force and gives it to others who claim to legitimize the theft on the basis of majority rule, public benefit, wealth distribution, homeland security, etc., etc., etc. To the extent that the above description is correct, the government is a thieving parasite and you are its host. To the extent that you don’t get to keep the fruit of your labor the government owns it, not you; and to that extent you are a slave.

https://www.titanians.org/why-taxation-is-slavery/
By Robert E. Podolsky

Government is a Criminal Enterprise

I have maintained for some time that taxation is government’s most criminal enterprise and that it is, in fact, a form of slavery. Yet it continues to baffle me that so many people cannot or will not see the obvious truth in these statements and insist on arguing that taxation is necessary to humanity’s well being and that it is not slavery at all. “The greatest good for the greatest number” goes the usual utilitarian refrain…which I maintain is one of the greater falsehoods…for the usual reasons. But since these reasons are so elusive to the greatest number I have decided to explain my reasoning in language that (hopefully) anyone can understand, thus settling this dispute once and for all in the eyes of any reasonable person.

While a whole book might easily be devoted to this subject, it is my intention to present here only a brief treatise on the subject in order to make the information as accessible as possible. I present herein three separate, but not entirely independent, arguments to make my case. I call them respectively:

1. The Property Rights Argument,

2. The Robin Hood Argument, and

3. The Smart Business Argument.
The Property Rights Argument

Property Rights is the one usually presented by libertarians in the manner of the late Murray Rothbard. Unfortunately, Rothbard presupposed that most people would accept intuitively that people own their own bodies. From this assumption he then reasoned that this implied the existence of property rights and hence absolute ownership of whatever the individual might create or produce. While the reasoning behind this argument is correct, few people accept it because it is counter-intuitive. It is counter-intuitive because as children it is obvious to us that our parents own our bodies, rather than we ourselves. When we go to school our teachers appear to own us. And when we grow up and become employees it often seems that our employers own us. We also observe as adults that if we refuse to pay taxes we can involuntarily lose possession of all our assets, thus demonstrating that government has a higher claim than we do to whatever we would like to believe we own. In the midst of such a society it is hardly surprising that most of us are unconvinced that we have any property rights not mitigated by government decree.

So it follows that if indeed we have any property rights worth discussing we will need some other way to discover this fact than simply agreeing with the Rothbard assertion that we own our own bodies. Fortunately there is another avenue of reasoning that we can call upon for this purpose. It begins with the definition of an ethical act:

An act is ethical if it increases the creativity of anyone, including the person acting, without limiting or diminishing the creativity of anyone.

As I have shown elsewhere, this definition is logically equivalent to similar definitions in which the word “creativity” is replaced by “love”, “awareness”, “personal evolution”, or any of a potentially large set of resources that are logical equivalents of creativity. I have also conclusively shown elsewhere that the utilitarian definition defining an ethical act as one that does more good than harm is invalid, and that because of this that it follows by simple logic that ethical ends cannot ever be attained by unethical means no matter who (or how many) benefits from such an act[1].

Now let’s ask the question, “Might it be ethical to steal someone’s possessions, either by force or by deceit?” And the answer is a resounding, “NO!” The scientist depends on her computer. The poet depends on his word processor. The artist needs her brushes and paints. Steal these things from someone and they are rendered less creative. By definition such an act is unethical…bad…evil. It follows logically from this that if we have the “right” to be treated ethically then we must have the “right” to own whatever we are able to acquire without stealing from someone else…and that therefore no one has the right, for any reason, to deprive us of the fruit of our bodies’ labor. By similar reasoning it follows that we do indeed own our own bodies and that any act which abrogates that right of ownership is an act of slavery because it diminishes our self-ownership. If our physical and financial possessions indeed contribute to our creativity, then it follows that the systematic removal of any such resources from our possession is evil and is a form of enslavement. Taxation is just such an act.
The Robin Hood Argument

The Robin Hood Argument is even easier to understand. We begin the discussion with my asking you the question, “Would it be all right with you if I stole your assets?”

And of course your answer is, “No.”

Next I ask, “Would it matter to you whether the theft was by force or by fraud?”

Again you answer, “No.” Then I ask, “Would you care what I did with the money?”

Again, “No.” Then I ask, “What if I gave the money away…would that make it okay?”

Again, “No.” “Suppose I gave half the money to a lot of poor people and they liked it and wanted more. Would that make the theft okay with you?”

Still, “No.” “Suppose all those poor folks elected a bunch of congressmen and I gave the other half of your money to them to spend as they wished. Would that make the theft okay with you?”

Still, “No.” “Finally, suppose those congressmen got together and wrote a piece of paper saying it was all right for me to steal from you and give away the proceeds; and they called that piece of paper a ‘tax law’. Would that make the theft okay with you?”

At this point I hope you have the good sense to continue saying, “No. NO. NO!”

Now I put it to you that the above description is exactly the reality that you face in relation to government as we know it today. The “I” in the example above is the IRS. It takes away your money by means of coercion, intimidation, and force and gives it to others who claim to legitimize the theft on the basis of majority rule, public benefit, wealth distribution, homeland security, etc., etc., etc. To the extent that the above description is correct, the government is a thieving parasite and you are its host. To the extent that you don’t get to keep the fruit of your labor the government owns it, not you; and to that extent you are a slave.

I should say a few words here about how the government steals from you. It does so in three ways. First it taxes you directly by means of income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, parking and traffic tickets, court imposed fines, school and utility district assessments, licensing and registration fees, gasoline, alcohol, and tobacco taxes, etc. Then there are taxes passed on to you indirectly. Most of these are taxes paid by the businesses which make or import the things you buy. Every time the government requires a tariff for the importation of foreign goods or raw materials it requires you to pay more and get less. If your Toyota dealer pays a tariff, then you are paying more for a car than the free market would charge. If you save yourself the added expense by buying a Ford, then in effect your government insists you settle for an inferior product so that Ford can make a bigger profit. This amounts to an indirect tax. Either way value is taken away from you and given to someone else who didn’t earn it.
Hidden Taxes

And finally there are hidden taxes. The most blatant example of a hidden tax is inflation…the illusion of rising prices. Every time the Federal Reserve prints money for the government to spend, the government gets the full value of each Federal Reserve “dollar” printed. But shortly after the money is spent by the government it is absorbed by the economy and the value of every dollar in your bank account is diminished. In effect the government thereby steals the buying power of all of your money without your even knowing that you are being taxed[2].

All in all, if one includes direct, indirect, and hidden taxes, the average American gives up about 50% of their gross income to local, state, and federal authorities by way of taxes. That means that fully half the fruit of your labor is forfeit whether you like it or not. Is it any less odious to be a half time slave than it would be to live as a full time slave? I think not? Slavery is slavery.
Smart Business Argument

The Smart Business Argument starts with a fantasy. Imagine I am a slave owner and you are one of my hard-working slaves whom I use as labor in my agricultural business. They (and you) plant my fields and harvest my crops, which I sell at a substantial profit. My business depends on them. While you may think that slave labor is free to me, the fact is that it is not. Besides the initial purchase of my slaves, I have to maintain them. I feed, clothe, and house them…albeit cheaply, but it’s not free. I pay for whatever medical expenses I decide to invest in their health and I pay for their management, which includes the services of bounty hunters who round them up for me when they escape. I also have to pay for the tools and implements that my slaves use and the seeds that they plant. All in all it’s an expensive operation. What is more, I am limited in the geographical scope over which I can deploy my slaves, so my business is pretty much limited to the acreage contiguous to my home. This limits my profits still further.

Not wishing to remain so limited I consult a savvy business adviser and soon create a labor cartel together with a number of my colleagues. The cartel in turn goes into partnership with the government. Soon thereafter I round up all my slaves to attend a meeting at which I make the following announcements: “As of today your life will be different. Subject to certain rules and conditions, you and all other slaves will hereby be set free. The purpose of the rules is to reimburse me and my colleagues for the investment that we have made in you. When that debt has been paid, you will be completely free for all time. These are the rules:

1. You can live anywhere in the world you wish. As of today you can live in any housing you can afford. You pay for your own.

2. You can do any kind of work you want to do. You will work whatever hours you and your employer agree upon.

3. You will attend school through at least the age of 18 in preparation for your work. You will pay for your schools through taxes.

4. You may own a business if you so desire and are able to acquire the capital needed to start it.

5. You will carry an identification token all your life and through it your income will be tracked. I will know where you are working and for whom. I will know how much you earn and where you bank.

6. Directly and indirectly you will pay me and my colleagues 50¢ out of every dollar that you earn. This will apply toward payment of your debt to me.

7. If you need to borrow additional money and can convince a bank that you are a good ‘credit risk’, money will be created for you with the stroke of a computer key. This money costs the bank nothing to create and represents no risk to the bank, but if you fail to repay it with interest the bank will take away your house, your car, or any other assets you have that the bank required as collateral for the loan.

8. When the government needs to spend more money than it has collected in taxes, it will ‘borrow’ it from the Federal Reserve System which is a cartel of the world’s biggest banks. It will not need your permission to do this, but you and your descendants will be responsible for repayment of the loan. It will simply be added to whatever you already owe [3]. Naturally the value (buying power) of all the money (Federal Reserve Notes) in your possession will steadily diminish as the Fed continues this practice, so of course your debt to me and my colleagues will never be repaid in full.

9. In order to maintain your sense of freedom you will participate in general elections at regular intervals. The majority vote will determine who occupy the positions of elected officialdom. But the rules above will never be changed to your advantage…only to the advantage of the banking and labor cartels that are actually the owners of the whole system (including you). Accordingly, discussion of these rules will never be part of the general debate at election time.

10. The local, state, and federal governments of the United States will be responsible for enforcement of the rules above in keeping with its partnership in the banking and labor cartels. The courts will adjudicate any conflicts that arise; but discussion of these rules will be forbidden in court and any reference to them will be deemed ‘frivolous’ by the courts. In this way the rules become in themselves a form of law more potent and inviolable than the state and federal constitutions and local charters that might otherwise interfere with the working of the rules.”

The rules above are just “smart business” from the viewpoint of the modern slave owner. Costs are held to a minimum. Productivity is maximized. The slaves manage themselves. There are no rebellions to be concerned with. And yet the slaves are easy to manipulate and control using modern methods of scholastic indoctrination and media communication. What a blessing that most of the slaves have no inkling whatever that they are in fact slaves. This fact alone makes the whole system worth whatever sacrifices the slave owners have made to create it, because there are no organized modes of resistance to the system. Even the organized religions don’t protest the half-time slavery imposed on the public. What a deal for the owners of the system!

In Conclusion, I ask you not to feel too badly if you didn’t get it before now…if you didn’t realize that you are a slave. Most of us don’t get it and billions of dollars are spent each year to keep us in the dark about it. By maintaining the illusion that we are not slaves the system’s owners remain free to continue their perpetuation of the system, with the eventual (though not too distant) goal of taking over the whole world. If we don’t act promptly and with vigor that goal will be attained…very probably within your lifetime. As the goal is neared the deceit will become less and less subtle and the limitations on our freedom more and more pronounced. With the exceptions of 1865 and 1920 (emancipation and suffrage) we have had less freedom every year than the year before. This series of books [4] points the way to the only viable solution that I can see to the, otherwise inevitable, outcome of global slavery and the concomitant degradation of the social and physical environments of the world…to the detriment of all…including those who will be world’s rulers. It is a universal characteristic of parasites that, in the end, they destroy their host and with it themselves. Now let’s look at another atrocity – the attacks of 9/11/2011.

[1] See Appendix B of “BORG WARS” by Robert E. Podolsky

[2] See The Creature from Jekyll Island, a Second Look at the Federal Reserve System by G. Edward Griffin,

[3] Fully one half of your direct federal taxes today go to pay the interest on such loans.

[4] Titania™, the Bloodless Revolution by Robert E. Podolsky

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Why Should Recent Immigrants and Their Heirs Pay for Slavery Reparations? | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on August 18, 2020

It may be both necessary and desirable to seek reparations not just from living persons but from their descendants as well.

But in order to do this with an eye toward justice, one must identify specific victims and specific perpetrators. Reparations cannot justly be paid in the abstract.

Even if specific parties could be identified today, there’s no reason to assume these people have particularly deep pockets. The US government, on the other hand, has access to trillions of dollars. It makes sense to go to where the money is, even if that means sticking a hundred million immigrant families with the bill.

https://mises.org/wire/why-should-recent-immigrants-and-their-heirs-pay-slavery-reparations?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=f10f4c148e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-f10f4c148e-228343965

Imagine being a Latin American immigrant to the United States who arrived fifty years ago, worked six days a week—every week—to establish a small business, and has now achieved some modicum of financial security. But now you’re being told every every time you turn on the news that you are on the hook for a $12 trillion “reparations” payment (or $35,000 for every American) to be paid out, because you have to make amends for slavery. (The $12 trillion dollar figure—being promoted by economist William Darity — is the latest figure being offered as the minimum sum necessary for mitigating the lingering effects of slavery in America.)

Never mind, of course, that slavery was outlawed decades before you ever arrived in the United States. And never mind that you came to this country with almost nothing. What wealth you have managed to acquire in the decades since is now apparently fair game to a Congress which plans to “set things right” through just another massive transfer payments program.

This sum—obviously—is not to paid merely by those who owned slaves at some point, or by those who are their heirs. No, the modern idea of reparations most often promoted is one in which the American taxpayers overall —regardless of their background or origins—must be forced to pay. That is, in this view, countless millions of Americans descended from people who only arrived in the US after slavery was outlawed are to be taxed to pay for crimes for which they could not possibly have been responsible.

A Proper Definition of “Reparations”

This isn’t to say there is no proper role for reparations for past injustices. Any decent legal system would provide for a victim of kidnapping and forced labor to obtain repayment for the time and labor stolen from him by the kidnapper.

As Walter Block writes:

Justified reparations are nothing more and nothing less than the forced return of stolen property—even after a significant amount of time has passed. For example, if my grandfather stole a ring from your grandfather, and then bequeathed it to me through the intermediation of my father, then I am, presently, the illegitimate owner of that piece of jewelry. To take the position that reparations are always and forever unjustified is to give an imprimatur to theft, provided a sufficient time period has elapsed. In the just society, your father would have inherited the ring from his own parent, and then given it to you. It is thus not a violation of property rights, but a logical implication of them, to force me to give over this ill-gotten gain to you.

It may be both necessary and desirable to seek reparations not just from living persons but from their descendants as well.

But in order to do this with an eye toward justice, one must identify specific victims and specific perpetrators. Reparations cannot justly be paid in the abstract. As Chris Calton has noted, property rights, properly understood, are

based on concretely identifiable property rights. When a violation of a person’s property rights takes place, restitution is the logical means of compensating the victim….

But in the real world [on matters of slavery] such a claim is incredibly difficult to prove. And failure to prove a legitimate property claim means that the currently recognized property title holds. Anything else would be committing a new injustice to give the illusion of correcting an old one.

These notions are certainly nothing new. In the seventeenth century, the English philosopher John Locke had already considered the matter, as well summarized by philosopher Grant Havers:

In his Second Treatise on Government, Locke wrote that the act of “reparation…belongs only to the injured party.” Moreover, this “damnified Person has this Power of appropriating to himself, the Goods or Service of the Offender, by Right of Self-Preservation.” In short, if one person steals the property of another, then the “injured party” has every right to take it back. Yet Locke stipulated that this act of “reparation” applies only to the “injured party” who clearly participates in an exchange of goods or services….Locke’s idea of reparation, then, applies only to those who are either a first or second party to an exchange of property, not a third party.

The Moral Absurdity of Reparations from Third Parties: The Case of Immigrants

In the case of slavery in America, there are the slaves, who are the ones who were wrongfully imprisoned and who had the fruits of their labor stolen. And then there are the slave owners: those who committed the theft and the false imprisonment. Yet modern-day restitution claims are primarily based on forcing third parties to pay for wrongs to which few of today’s taxpayers have any connection.

Among these third parties are the nearly one-fifth of the US population composed of Americans who arrived from somewhere else over the past fifty years or are their descendants. According to Pew Research:

Between 1965 and 2015, new immigrants, their children and their grandchildren accounted for 55% of U.S. population growth. They added 72 million people to the nation’s population as it grew from 193 million in 1965 to 324 million in 2015.

But of course these relatively recent arrivals are not the only ones who entered the US after the thirteenth amendment was ratified. Naturally, if we extend the time horizon further back in time, the number of “new” Americans only get larger.

Between 1870 and 1900, nearly 12 million immigrants arrived, more foreign-born people than had come to the country in the preceding seventy years. If that doesn’t seem like a large number, remember that the entire population of the United States was only 38.5 million in 1870. After 1900, and until 1915, another 15 million arrived.

Meanwhile, out west the Mexican Revolution convinced hundreds of thousands of Mexicans to move to the United States. From 1910 to 1930, “the number of Mexican immigrants counted by the U.S. census tripled from 200,000 to 600,000. The actual number was probably far greater.” By the 1920s, the US was experiencing a sixteenfold increase in Mexican immigration compared to the first decade of the twentieth century.1

Yet advocates for a national reparations program would have us believe that these people and their descendants are somehow morally responsible for slavery. But how to make the case that a middle-class Mexican American, descended from refugees fleeing the Mexican Revolution, ought to be paying thousands on reparations? In many cases, this problem is simply ignored by those pushing for reparations. But in other cases they’ve invented a wide variety of new theories.

Chief among these is the idea that the US economy was built by slaves. This claim, however, is demonstrably false. The slave economy during the nineteenth century was backward, inefficient, and hardly provided a foundation for the Northern economy, which was rapidly industrializing thanks primarily to technological innovation and the superiority of free labor. When slavery was finally abolished, the Northern economy just kept growing.2

[RELATED: “Why They Keep Trying to Blame Capitalists for Slavery” by Ryan McMaken]

Proreparations advocates are unlikely to relent on this, however, because if the proreparations side can win this argument, they can then claim that all those immigrants who prospered in American over the past 150 years somehow owe their prosperity to the foundation laid by slaves decades earlier. The proreparations party is basically saying to immigrants and their descendants “That wealth you acquired since coming to America? You didn’t build that.”

There are other “arguments” as well. The “white privilege” claim can be used to assert that many immigrants—now matter how impoverished or illiterate they were when they arrived here—somehow prospered at the expense of slaves and former slaves. Superficially, this claim is relatively easy to make in the case of Irish Americans and eastern Europeans who arrived a century ago. The proreparations camp insists these immigrants were nonetheless “white presenting” and thus able to integrate easily. Their whiteness gave them access to the benefits of American capitalism—capitalism built on slavery—and thus we’re back again to concluding that even immigrants owe their prosperity to the slavery of ages past.

But not all immigrants are “white presenting.” Hispanics and Asian Americans combined make up nearly one-quarter of the US population today. Many clearly do not have a stereotypical white appearance and presumably are unable to take advantage of the free pass to riches that is “white privilege.” Moreover members of the ethnic groups within the Latin American and Asian immigrant groups have been historically faced with a wide variety of legal and cultural barriers designed to stymie their access to capital and social benefits. Yet the millions of Americans within these demographic groups are expected to foot the reparations bill as well.

The Problem with Specifics

While the case of immigrants presents an especially compelling case against forcing third parties to pay reparations for slavery, the reality is that the situation for other populations is not much more clear cut.

There is no doubt that some Americans who lived in the antebellum United States benefited from slavery, but the degree to which these populations benefited was quite diverse. Poor families in Appalachia, for example, were hardly getting rich off the toil of slaves. In fact, slavery drove down the wages of workers who had to compete with slave labor. The number of whites—both north and south—who found themselves in this position was substantial.2

Moreover, slavery was primarily a regional phenomenon and hardly something that could be described as inherently “American.” After all, by the time of the Civil War, the overwhelming majority of the US population lived in states where slavery was illegal. By midcentury, some Northern states had even refused to comply with the fugitive slave laws.

Nor were the slave patrols—an institution central to preventing and punishing slave rebellions—something that received national support. Slave patrols were staffed at the state level, often by conscripts forced into service by the state legislatures.

Given this, there is scant reason to conclude that a farmer in western Pennsylvania in 1860, where the state government had nullified the fugitive slave acts, and where slavery was illegal, is somehow legally, morally, or financially responsible for slavery.

The reason for this insistence on blaming all Americans—both past and present—has a long history. To assuage their consciences, the slave owners of old concocted all sorts of half-baked theories designed to place the blame for slavery on people other than themselves. But nowadays, this impulse is tied to the need to find as many people as possible who can pay in to a reparations program. Even if Congress were to pave the way legally for lawsuits against the heirs of slave owners of old, the obstacles to obtaining any sizable cash settlement are large. Even if specific parties could be identified today, there’s no reason to assume these people have particularly deep pockets. The US government, on the other hand, has access to trillions of dollars. It makes sense to go to where the money is, even if that means sticking a hundred million immigrant families with the bill.

  • 1. David R. Roediger, Working toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White: The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs (New York, Basic Books, 2005), p. 150.
  • 2. a. b. It should also be noted that the population of the slave states—including slaves—was considerably smaller than the population in free states. The population of the US in 1860 was 31 million. Of those, only 12 million lived in slave states, including 4 million slaves. In the decades following emancipation, most of the immense number of new immigrants moved to what had been non-slave states before the war.
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Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and The Austrian, 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.

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Authorities Are Still Looking for Any Clear Motives for the Attack – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 18, 2020

Each year adults all over the “developed” world spend the first half of the year working without pay, in a form of slavery creatively called the income tax.

It’s slavery.

Clear motives for the attack? Is that really a serious question?

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/07/allan-stevo/authorities-are-still-looking-for-any-clear-motives-for-the-attack/

By

What do you call a system in which a person is forced to work for someone else without pay?

Slavery.

Each year adults all over the “developed” world spend the first half of the year working without pay, in a form of slavery creatively called the income tax.

It’s slavery.

Doesn’t matter what foolish name they give it.

Each year, tens of thousands of people around the globe learn who really owns their home when they neglect to pay taxes on it and are forced out.

Property tax they call it. No matter whose name is on the deed, skip your property tax payments and be reminded that you’re just a tenant with no actual property rights.

It’s tenancy.

Doesn’t matter what foolish name they give it.

I make something. You like it. You offer to buy it from me. I say yes. We agree to a price, and you pull out the money. Some guy sticks his hand through the window and takes 13% of the money just as it’s passing between your hands and mine.

That’s stealing.

Doesn’t matter what foolish name they give it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 1%, 13%, or 21%. It’s still stealing. There’s no nominal amount of stealing that’s appropriate. There’s no justifiable quantity. There’s no moral amount that can be stolen. It’s all bad.

I don’t care if the guy calls it sales tax, VAT, or protection money, the money is still stolen.

In Kozani, Greece on Thursday, July 16, 2020, a 45-year-old man walked into the government tax office on Aristotle Street with an ax and started swinging away at people working there.

The dramatic retelling of the story ends with the reporter saying “Authorities are still looking for any clear motives for the attack…”

Really?

Clear motives to want to do harm to thieves?

Clear motives to want to do harm to thieves who not only enslave you, threaten your home and steal from you, but also now use their ill gotten gains to lock you into your home, pump the airwaves with fear, refuse to let you visit the sick, divide families, close playgrounds, close beaches, make beloved childhood activities illegal, foment societal division, put the elderly in group homes to die neglected and alone, close stadiums, bring the recovered alcoholic back to the bottle, cancel lifesaving surgeries for those on the brink of death, push the depressive over the edge, stop therapy for those with cancer creeping through their body, make life so unnecessarily challenging for the marginalized who were just starting to get things together, deny families a funeral, close down the churches, and destroy the economizing human cooperation that we call our civilization?

And then if you don’t go along with their destructionism they say you are so dishonorable that you hate people and are anti-science.

Clear motives for the attack? Is that really a serious question?

The Greek man with the ax might be more sane than anyone I know. He’s one in a billion. The real question isn’t “What’s wrong with him?” The real question is “What’s wrong with the rest of us?”

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A Double Whammy – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 6, 2020

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/07/laurence-m-vance/a-double-whammy/

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“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry” ~ Acts 17:16

Many Christians recently received a double whammy of blasphemy and idolatry because the Fourth of July fell on a Saturday this year.

Most churches—and especially conservative, evangelical churches—usually have some kind of a patriotic service on the Sunday before the Fourth of July. If you have the misfortune of attending, there you will see the church building and the grounds around the church decorated with American flags, hear special prayers for the troops and government officials, see military personnel wearing their uniforms to church, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, see veterans recognized, read the church bulletin with an American flag on the cover, see men wearing cross and flag lapel pins, and sing hymns of worship to the state.

What happened this year is that some churches moved their patriotic services to Sunday July fifth since that is only one day removed from the fourth. But not being content with just one Sunday of blasphemy and idolatry, some churches also had in addition a mini patriotic service on the Sunday before the Fourth of July, hence the double whammy.

This may have consisted of just one hymn of worship to the state to open the service or the choir singing just a medley of patriotic songs rather than the whole service being devoted to singing hymns of worship to the state. The extra American flags may have been put up already.

What ended up happening in some cases is that the church didn’t announce that its patriotic service was being moved. Therefore, Christians who didn’t want to engage in corporate worship of the state who stayed home on the Sunday before the Fourth of July like they normally do were shocked to see idolatry and blasphemy on full display on July fifth when they weren’t expecting it. Their double whammy was different. They missed what probably would have been a normal church service and then had to unexpectedly sit through a patriotic service. Unless, of course, they got up and went back home or did something more spiritual like go to a park or the beach.

If the Apostle Paul were here today, he would see most of the churches wholly given to idolatry; that is, if they were open.

  Some churches are still closed because they have the fear of the coronavirus instead of the fear of the Lord. Many churches that are open are what I call CDC churches because they consider all of the CDC guidelines to be the gospel truth: mask wearing, social distancing, etc.

But even in churches that no longer do these things and perhaps even never did any of these things, blasphemy and idolatry was still on full display during their patriotic services.

What makes patriotic services worse this year is that even though we are living through the greatest power grab, the greatest violation of civil liberties, and the greatest destruction of property rights by government at all levels (federal, state, county, city) in all of American history, most churches are still singing hymns of worship to the state and talking about how free America is while our freedoms are disappearing right before our eyes.

See this, this and this.

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Eminent Domain: Are Holdouts Really a Problem? | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 30, 2020

Before I respond to this, one point of clarification is essential. From a Rothbardian perspective, the whole issue dissolves at once. If you have a right to certain property, then it can’t be taken away from you and that is that. Rights cannot be taken away from you because total wealth would go up if they were. Readers won’t be surprised that this is my own view, but here I’m considering the argument just on its own terms.

https://mises.org/wire/eminent-domain-are-holdouts-really-problem?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=57a3e07dc6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-57a3e07dc6-228343965

Eminent domain gives the government the power to take over private property for public use. A popular argument that this interference with private property is needed goes like this: We can’t measure subjective utility, but we can take increases in wealth as a rough proxy for increases in utility. (This assumption is mistaken, but I won’t get into that here.) Suppose, on this assumption, that some public project will add a great deal of wealth to the economy. Unfortunately, someone owns a small parcel of land necessary to get the project underway. Often, a little old lady who refuses to sell her house, preventing a road from being built, is given as an example of the problem.

You might be inclined to dismiss this argument immediately. Wouldn’t it be unfair to the old lady to take away her house, just so total wealth goes up? But supporters of the argument have an answer. They say, “Can’t we give the old lady enough money so that she is as well off as she was before? Then, the economy is better off and she is no worse off.”

I have never found this argument persuasive. I think it suffers from a crucial flaw. Before explaining what that flaw is, let’s look at a statement of the argument by the distinguished classical liberal legal scholar Richard Epstein. In his book Simple Rules for a Complex World (Harvard, 1995), he says: “Often the government needs to obtain material resources from individuals in order to supply services to the public at large. . . . Holdout and coordination problems preclude that consensual solution for certain key assets, such as specific parcels of land needed for the construction of a fort or a public road. This problem is best met by government taking with payment of just compensation. Ideally, the individual citizen is left indifferent to the loss.”

What is the crucial flaw in the argument? You might at first think that it is the failure to take account of the non-monetary value of her house to the old lady. What if has great sentimental value to her; maybe it is the house she has lived in all her life. Or what if the property taken is a religious shrine? To offer compensation based only on the real estate value seems unfair.

This is an excellent point, but it isn’t the one I want to concentrate on here. The argument is still flawed, even if you disregard this type of value. Even if the owner attaches no sentimental or religious value to her house, but views the takeover in a strictly dollars-and-cents way, there is a problem that involves the compensation that is offered.

The problem is this: When it is said that the owner has to be made as well off as she was before, something important is being disregarded. The property is now much more valuable than it was before the project to build a bridge entered the scene. By hypothesis, the bridge adds immensely to the wealth of the economy. If the government had to buy the land from the owner in order to build the road, it would have to offer much more than the value of the property, leaving the bridge out of account. In brief, the owner could “holdout” in order to capture a substantial part of the economic gain from the project.

Supporters of eminent domain have an obvious answer to this point. Isn’t the owner taking unfair advantage by holding out? Isn’t some sort of action needed to prevent the owner from exploiting the situation?

Before I respond to this, one point of clarification is essential. From a Rothbardian perspective, the whole issue dissolves at once. If you have a right to certain property, then it can’t be taken away from you and that is that. Rights cannot be taken away from you because total wealth would go up if they were. Readers won’t be surprised that this is my own view, but here I’m considering the argument just on its own terms.

Those who don’t accept absolute property rights may say the case is that that of the person who demands from a victim of thirst in the desert a million dollar fee for a drink of water. Isn’t someone who does this taking advantage of the victim’s misfortune in a morally unacceptable way? (Again, I am not questioning whether he has a right to act like this.)

But the holdout case isn’t like this example. The owner is engaging in strategic bargaining. She is not taking advantage of anyone’s misfortune, other than the “misfortune” that those who would economically benefit from the bridge will have to pay more money and will end up with less of a net gain.

But suppose that you disagree with me about this. What if you think that it would be unfair for the owner to capture nearly all the economic gain from the bridge? It does not follow that she may be deprived of any gain at all. Why should all the profit from the bridge go to those who initiate the project and none to the owner? Isn’t she entitled to something more than being put back to her previous level of well-being?

Practically no one finds my view persuasive, but, rightly or wrongly, that is usually not enough to get me to shut up. Whether it should in this instance I’ll leave to my readers to judge.

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Free Expression and Property Rights – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 18, 2020

But it’s not just the wearing of a “Hail Satan” shirt that I can regulate in my home. I find almost as offensive the wearing of a “Bernie 2020” shirt. If one of my invited guests shows up wearing such a shirt, I have the same options. Why, because it is my property. And because it is my property, if I demand that all of my guests wear or not wear red shirts, Trump hats, or LeBron jerseys, then that is my right.

The case of the woman on the airplane with the “Hail Satan” shirt has nothing to do with free expression and everything to do with property rights.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/02/laurence-m-vance/free-expression-and-property-rights/

By

“Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom.” ~ U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo in Palko v. Connecticut (1937)

Is freedom of expression absolute?

In the case of Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky (2018), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a Minnesota statute prohibiting individuals from wearing political apparel at a polling place violated the First Amendment.

An airplane is not a polling place.

Near the end of last year, American Airlines issued an apology to a woman after flight attendants objected to her “Hail Satan” shirt that she wore on the plane.

Back in October, Swati Runi Goyal of Key West was on board an American Airlines flight from Florida to Nevada when a crew member told her to change her shirt or leave the plane because the flight crew found her shirt to be “offensive.” According to a page on the American Airlines website titled “conditions of carriage,” under “passenger responsibilities,” passengers are required to, among other things:

  • Behave appropriately and respectfully with other passengers on board
  • Dress appropriately; bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed

Passengers who fail to comply by being “uncooperative or show the potential to be uncooperative on board” may not be allowed to fly.

Goyal maintains that “she’s worn the T-shirt many times in the past without incident, including on airplanes.”

Although Goyal claims to be an atheist, she is a member of the Satanic Temple—an organization that’s “become well-known for its activism on issues such as separation of church and state, free speech, and religious freedom.” “It’s an ironic shirt,” she said. “People usually laugh at it, or they give me a thumbs-up because they understand the meaning behind it.”

The flight went on to Nevada as scheduled after the woman put on one of her husband’s shirts over her “Hail Satan” shirt. Goyal said that she was “humiliated” by the situation and contacted American Airlines after her flight to file a complaint. Only after she voiced her displeasure on Twitter did American Airlines apologize.

As a Christian, I find the “Hail Satan” shirt offensive. But since I recognize that I have no right to not be offended, what are my options?

If I see someone wearing a “Hail Satan” shirt out in public and don’t want to confront him, I can ignore him and just keep walking or I can go home and pray for him. If I see someone wearing a “Hail Satan” shirt out in public and want to confront him, I can stop and tell him that his shirt offends me and ask him not to wear it or I can tell him why I think we should hail Jesus instead of Satan. Those are my options. Forcing him to remove the shirt or seeking the government to force him to remove the shirt are not options.

If I see someone wearing a “Hail Satan” shirt that I have invited into my home, then I have other options. Why? Because it is my property. Now I can tell him to change his shirt or leave. Now I can preach to him, yell at him, insult him, or seek to embarrass him in front of my other guests for as long as he is willing to listen. He is, after all, free to leave on his own.

But it’s not just the wearing of a “Hail Satan” shirt that I can regulate in my home. I find almost as offensive the wearing of a “Bernie 2020” shirt. If one of my invited guests shows up wearing such a shirt, I have the same options. Why, because it is my property. And because it is my property, if I demand that all of my guests wear or not wear red shirts, Trump hats, or LeBron jerseys, then that is my right.

It is no different when it comes to American Airlines. Although it may be a dumb thing to do from a business perspective, if American Airlines wants to require all passengers to wear formal attire or prohibit all passengers from wearing Delta shirts, then the company should have the right to do so.

The case of the woman on the airplane with the “Hail Satan” shirt has nothing to do with free expression and everything to do with property rights.

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The Biggest Danger of Uncontrolled Immigration – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 16, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/07/michael-s-rozeff/the-biggest-danger-of-uncontrolled-immigration/

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The extent of our economic freedom and the defense of our property rights are the key factors in our accumulation of wealth (goods and services) and a rise in our standard of living via the division of labor. But economic freedom and property rights depend critically on our laws and institutions, that is, the kind of government we have.

There is no question that we’ve moved away from the good laws and institutions that promote capitalism and embarked instead on a course of bad laws and institutions that promote socialism. This is why over a period of decades our living standards have not grown as much as they could have, and why some large portions of Americans can’t seem to get ahead, drop out of the labor force, live on welfare or even live on the streets.

Immigration is good for a country under two conditions. First, the country has the good laws and institutions that protect economic freedom and property rights. Second, the immigrants assimilate to the good laws and do not change them for the worse.

The socialist aspects of our current system are its bad laws. Immigrants don’t do Americans any good if they burden those parts of our system that offer “free” or subsidized goods and services. We cannot have a welfare state and allow unlimited immigration. Too many immigrants will opt for the free benefits. The wealth transfer is a tax upon working taxpayers. This amounts to greater socialism and economic retardation.

In order to benefit from immigration, as we have in our pre-1930s past when the welfare state and socialist regulatory laws were minimal, we need to get rid of these bad laws and institutions. This being unlikely at present, immigration becomes a worse and worse problem. It must be stopped, but stopping it requires a wall and police state measures. As George Reisman notes, the welfare state becomes a police state with unlimited immigration.

Then there is the second condition, which is that immigrants assimilate to our laws and institutions if they are the good laws supportive of and consistent with capitalism, private property rights and economic freedom. If they assimilate to what we have in our country today, this means adopting and supporting a system that has large socialist elements. This is definitely undesirable in terms of promoting the growth of wealth. We do not want to teach immigrants that American prosperity owes to our panoply of socialist interventions.

Worse yet, there are conflicting sentiments among immigrants to contend with. Some or many come because they want to work, educate themselves and get ahead in ways they couldn’t where they came from. But some or many also bring with them sentiments and political attitudes of their mother countries that they’ve imbibed and do not realize are contradictory to economic freedom and private property rights. Once within the bosom of our system with its socialist elements, they are likely to fall right in line with them, thinking they are being true Americans in supporting laws like Obamacare, Medicare for All, or other socialist laws and administrations…

Although the Republican party has been no stranger to socialist legislation, such as extending Medicare to prescription benefits, the Democrats are worse. They typically propose the socialist extensions and campaign for them for years on end until they become law.

The biggest danger of uncontrolled or unlimited immigration is that it shifts American politics even more greatly toward socialism.

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What Robert Reich Failed to Say about Marijuana Legalization – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on June 22, 2019

https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/what-robert-reich-failed-to-say-about-marijuana-legalization/

by

…But even though Reich is a liberal in every sense of the word, conservatives should be paying attention to what he says about marijuana legalization. And so should liberals, since, after all, drug freedom is not a tenet of liberalism.

A recent post on Reich’s blog titled “Why We Must Legalize Marijuana” also appeared at Salon. He begins,

The federal prohibition on marijuana has been a disaster. For decades, millions of Americans have been locked up and billions of dollars have been wasted. It’s also deepened racial and economic inequality.

We must end this nonsensical prohibition.

The facts are staggering. In 2017, more Americans were arrested for marijuana possession than for murder, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery combined. That’s one marijuana arrest every minute.

The costs associated with enforcing this ban — including arrests, court costs, and incarceration — reach nearly $14 billion a year.

Prohibition also hurts the economy in terms of lost wages. And Americans with criminal records have a harder time finding a job and getting the education they need.

That marijuana prohibition is a colossal waste of money with costs that greatly exceed any of its supposed benefits is reason enough to legalize marijuana. But Reich doesn’t stop there. He also maintains that “legalizing, taxing, and regulating” marijuana “is good for the economy and creates jobs.” He believes that marijuana should be taxed by state and local governments the way cigarettes and alcohol are. Reich points to states such as Colorado and Washington that tax and regulate marijuana and generate “millions of dollars for health care, education, and other public investments.” As a libertarian, I certainly oppose taxes and regulations on marijuana, just as I oppose taxes and regulations on cigarettes and alcohol. But, like it or not, the fact remains that every state that has legalized marijuana has also taxed and regulated it — and reaped a windfall.

But Reich isn’t finished yet. Marijuana legalization is “more than an economic issue” because “it’s also a matter of racial justice and equality.” Reich recounts the racist origins of the federal prohibition on marijuana and asserts that “black and brown Americans are still much more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white Americans, despite using marijuana at similar rates.” He also points out that “more states are taking action to reform their laws and move toward legalization” and “support for marijuana legalization has surged in recent years, with two-thirds of Americans now in favor of it,” although I take issue with his statement that “even a majority of Republicans are in support.” “It’s time to legalize marijuana,” concludes Reich…

So Reich is certainly correct: It’s time to legalize marijuana.

Yet, there are some extremely important things that Robert Reich failed to say about marijuana legalization. And they are, in fact, much more important than anything he says in his article.

Reich has a law degree. He should know that the Constitution says absolutely nothing about marijuana or any other drug. He should know that the Constitution gives no authority to the federal government to have a Controlled Substances Act, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a drug czar, an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), or a Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program. He should know that the federal government has not only no authority under the Constitution to prohibit marijuana possession, but also that it has no authority whatsoever to have anything to do with marijuana.

So why didn’t Reich say so? They are things that any liberal, progressive, socialist, or Democrat could say. And they are also things that any conservative or Republican could say, and especially those who claim to revere the Constitution and say that the Constitution should be followed.

But that’s not all that Reich failed to say about marijuana legalization.

He failed to say that it is not the proper role of government to be concerned with the medical or recreational habits of Americans.

He failed to say that it is not the business of government bureaucrats to interfere with what Americans want to put in their mouths, noses, veins, or lungs.

He failed to say that it is an illegitimate purpose of government to regulate what Americans desire to eat, drink, smoke, inhale, or inject.

He failed to say that people should be able to do anything that’s peaceful as long as they don’t infringe the personal or property rights of others and are responsible for the consequences of their actions.

He failed to say that every crime should have a tangible and identifiable victim who has suffered measurable harm to his person or measurable damages to his property.

He failed to say that no American should ever be arrested, fined, or imprisoned for possessing a plant his government doesn’t approve of.

He failed to say that the government’s war on marijuana is a war on personal freedom, private property, personal responsibility, individual liberty, personal and financial privacy, and the free market.

But at least he said what he did about marijuana legalization. That is more than most conservatives would ever say.

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Despite Liberalizing Marijuana Laws, the War on Drugs ...

 

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Background Checks Violate Property Rights – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on June 19, 2019

If passed, this would set a dangerous precedent, for if government has the authority to impose a background check for guns, it can impose a background check to purchase, sell, transfer, or loan privately owned cars, cell phones, homes, or anything else.

Things you don’t think about until it is too late.

https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/background-checks-violate-property-rights/

by

…The Democratic Party-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has introduced a bill to force everyone to undergo a background check to sell, purchase, transfer, loan, or otherwise exchange firearms, which would require anyone wishing to do so to find a dealer and pay him to do the paperwork involved. This is an added and unnecessary expense especially for people living in rural areas where guns are borrowed, sold, or traded routinely, and where there may not be a licensed dealer within a reasonable drive. Such people would find it difficult, if not impossible, to comply.

More important, Congress has no jurisdiction over the private property of individuals. Therefore, the requirements of that license cannot apply to them. Since the acquisition and disposal of property is a fundamental right, no one needs government permission to acquire or dispose of his legally acquired property. As Armen A. Alchian (1914–2013), professor of economics at the UCLA and who is often called “the Armenian Adam Smith,” pointed out in his article “Property Rights”: “A property right is the exclusive authority to determine how a resource is used…. A private property right includes the right to delegate, rent, or sell any portion of the rights by exchange or gift at whatever price the owner determines…. Private property rights are the rights of humans to use specified goods and to exchange them.”

If passed, this would set a dangerous precedent, for if government has the authority to impose a background check for guns, it can impose a background check to purchase, sell, transfer, or loan privately owned cars, cell phones, homes, or anything else. Our system of justice operates on precedent. This is why the question posed to all federal judicial appointees during their confirmation hearings is whether they will respect and uphold precedent. Once a precedent is set, it is easy to expand the coverage of a law or pass similar legislation based on that precedent. An example is Medicare. It started as medical coverage for the elderly. Now try arguing against Medicare for all. The precedent was set by the first Medicare law. If the federal government has the authority to pass Medicare for some, it has authority to pass Medicare for all. The same is true of gun laws. If government can dictate under what conditions you may acquire and dispose of firearms, it can later use the same precedent to tell you how to acquire and dispose of any other piece of personal property…

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Want More Investment and Entrepreneurship? Protect Private Property | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 4, 2019

https://mises.org/wire/want-more-investment-and-entrepreneurship-protect-private-property

The principles of economic thought tells us that investments would flow to places with less capital accumulation, the reason being is that there would be less competition, thus a higher rate of return on investments. Indeed, as Adam Smith noted in the Wealth of Nations, capital accumulation would be the inevitable hindrance to economic growth.

However, this not as we have it in the real world. Many countries, especially those in the Global South, have very little capital, but yet aren’t flooded with investments. The reason for this is simple: there is no assurance that their property and investment would be protected by the law.

Picture this, why would someone invest in a piece of property, plot of land, or share in a business when there is a high probability that a random bandit, even worse, the government, could steal it at any time without assurance of compensation? This is certainly the norm in many authoritarian countries. For example, a report from the Business Anti-corruption Portal described the police in Nigeria “as the most corrupt institution in the country”, as they often impede on businesses and act above the law. If a country wants to attract foreign direct and portfolio investments, there ought to be a framework that holds people accountable to the arbitrary use of force: this is the rule of law.

This also goes hand-in-hand with property rights since the rule of law is the necessary condition under which property rights can be successfully employed. Indeed, as James Robinson points out in his essay, “Property Rights and African Poverty,” the lack of property rights has been the number one obstacle to economic prosperity in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is contrary to most prevalent views which blame the legacies of colonization and also the geographical location of sub-Saharan Africa to its economic shortcomings.

In addition, most of these countries are filled with an abundance of natural resources — for or example the diamonds in Congo, gold in Ghana, and oil in Nigeria — but yet are not flooded with investments. Some commentators have called this phenomenon the “resource curse.” This occurs when governments focus solely on natural resources as a means to get revenue while ignoring other parts of the economy, consequently making the country worse off as a whole.

Although there is some truth in this statement, the fact that these countries don’t possess or uphold a framework of laws which protect persons and property from arbitrary government interference is still the key explanation to this problem. As Thomas Sowell puts it brilliantly in his book, Basic Economics, “ Countries whose governments are ineffectual, arbitrary, or thoroughly corrupt can remain poor despite the abundance of natural resources, because neither foreign nor domestic entrepreneurs want to risk the kinds of large investments which are required to develop natural resources into finished products that raise the general standard of living.”

On the other hand, we could take a country, Hong Kong, which does not have an abundance of natural resources, but has been flooded with capital in recent times. Furthermore, Hong Kong has been continuously ranked as one of the freest places in terms economic freedom by think-tanks such the Fraser Institute and the Heritage Foundation

It is fair to say that concepts like the rule of law and property rights are not innate to any civilization; indeed, countries like the United States and Britain, which we could say have civil institutions, underwent violent revolutions in order to put these principles in place. This is not to say that current less-economically developed countries need to follow a similar path. Needless to say, there is a need to change the intellectual climate in these nations. This could be done by being less dependent on foreign aid, imposing checks and balances on politicians, and implementing free-market economic policies such as free trade and lower taxes.

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