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Posts Tagged ‘Regulation’

The Government Culture of Death

Posted by M. C. on June 2, 2022

But absent that waiver, the government cannot infringe upon rights without engaging in monstrous theft. And government theft has consequences. Whether it calls its theft “taxation” or “regulation,” one can understand Nietzsche’s aphorism that the government exists by lying and stealing.

By Andrew P. Napolitano

When the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead, he didn’t mean it literally, as that would have been impossible. He meant that God’s creatures have so failed to acknowledge Him and relate to Him, it is as if He decided to end His own existence.

Stated differently, Nietzsche recognized that Christianity had ceased to be influential in contemporary life. Though properly rejected as a madman, he reminded the world that the loss of virtue can only be sustained from the bottom up, not from the top down.

He meant that, for all the power the financial and governmental elites have, none of their valueless impulses would prevail were they not accepted by the majority or a determined minority.

He made these observations in 1886, during a time of relative peace but little freedom in Europe. His sentiments are just as valid in America today, where there is neither peace nor freedom.

People usually get the government they fear, whether it be Hitler’s willing executioners, Putin’s willing dupes or America’s willing subserviates.

Thus, when cultural and financial elites craft a government based on nihilism — a belief in nothing but power — when everything the government says is a lie, when everything the government has it has stolen, when the one thing the government does well is engage in violence, the result is a culture of death.

America today epitomizes a culture of death.

At home, America is at war with itself. The government permits the slaughter of babies in the womb and fails to prevent the slaughter of babies in a government classroom.

And America is at war abroad. The federal government has just sent cash and military hardware worth $56 billion to its vassal state, Ukraine. That amount rivals the annual military budget of Russia and is greater than the annual budget of the entire Ukraine government.

What’s going on?

What’s going on is the American rejection of the core Judeo-Christian value of the intrinsic worth of every person, and the tragic failure of American government at all levels to take rights seriously.

Because the government glorifies violence — constant wars, an annual defense budget larger than the next dozen countries combined including Russia and China, the adulation of the military, the encouragement and financing of abortions, and the use of the death penalty — it undermines the value of human life and sets a tone whereby because the government kills with impunity, violence becomes a personal tool.

Is it any wonder that deranged people pick up where the government has left off? For a person filled with hate and incapable of reason living in a society that rejects the intrinsic worth of every human life, is it very much of a leap from killing babies in the womb to killing strangers in a supermarket or a classroom?

Thomas Jefferson argued that the only moral purpose of government is to protect individual rights.

What is a right? A right is an indefeasible claim against the whole world that originates in our humanity. Thus the right to live, to worship or not to worship, to think as you wish, to say what you think, to publish what you say, to associate or not to associate, to acquire property voluntarily, to defend your life and property, to travel and to be left alone are rights that are inherent in our nature. Rights are above the law. Like the color of our eyes, they are immune from the lawmaking power.

The government, which is an artificial entity based on a monopoly of force in a geographic area, may not morally interfere with our rights unless we waive them. A house burglar waives his rights when he violates the property rights of the owner or legal occupant of the house.

But absent that waiver, the government cannot infringe upon rights without engaging in monstrous theft. And government theft has consequences. Whether it calls its theft “taxation” or “regulation,” one can understand Nietzsche’s aphorism that the government exists by lying and stealing.

See the rest here

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If the Nordic Countries Are Socialist, So Are These Less-Impressive Countries | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on April 15, 2021

Essentially, progressive politicians and economists are guilty of cherry-picking countries: while wanting to emulate the Nordic countries, which they claim to be socialist—the same countries which are just as easy to conduct business in as the United States—they ignore these three countries, Italy, France and Greece, which are, by most metrics, more socialist than the Nordics.

https://mises.org/wire/if-nordic-countries-are-socialist-so-are-these-less-impressive-countries

Eben Macdonald

The Nordic countries draw attention from democratic socialists in America thanks to their high tax rates, strong welfare states, and supposedly tight regulation of enterprise. The final indicator, however, is not exactly true: every single Nordic country except Finland ranks in the top ten on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, and they maintain high positions on the Tax Competitiveness Index. But if Progressives argue that Scandinavia is indeed a socialist region, then they must admit that the following countries are just as, and if not, more socialistic: Italy, France, and Greece. None of these three countries are ones which they refer to in order to demonstrate the benefits of their economic agenda. In fact, thanks to their low living standards, high rates of unemployment, and stagnant incomes, extreme illiberal, ultranationalist right-wing movements have thrived in every single one of these countries. Let’s examine each one.

Italy

Tax take is 42 percent of Italy’s GDP, higher than both Finland and Norway, and substantially greater than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average. Social expenditure is 28 percent, practically identical to Nordic levels. The country ranks a hopeless fifty-eighth on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, far lower than every single nation in Scandinavia. Furthermore, Italy has the least competitive tax system in the OECD, according to the Tax Foundation. Italy’s taxes and welfare spending are of Nordic style, and businesses are far more regulated. If the Nordic countries are socialist, so is Italy.

Yet is Italy considered to be more prosperous than the United States, or a poster child for a successful socialist system? Far from it. Pew Research Center gives us the following statistics: were Italy to become a part of the US, and thus adhere to US income metrics, 53 percent of Italians would inhabit the “low-income category,” as opposed to the American rate of 26 percent; and since 1990, Italy’s median household disposable income has declined by one-fifth.

Pew Research Center aside, OECD data show that Italy’s standard of living is substantially below America’s. The US ranks tenth on their Better Life Index—Italy ranks twenty-fourth. And data from The Economist magazine which attempt to apply the Better Life Index within countries by socioeconomic category find that someone in the top 10 percent of the Italian income spectrum has a standard of living no higher than someone in the bottom 10 percent of the US income spectrum. Moreover, in 2019, before the pandemic, their unemployment rate stood at 10 percent. Clearly, economic recovery from the 2008 crisis has not been easy.

France

Tax take is 45 percent of the French economy, the second highest in the OECD, just below Denmark. Social expenditure is 31 percent, higher than every single Nordic country, and the highest in the OECD. The country ranks thirty-second place both on the Ease of Doing Business Index and on the Tax Competitiveness Index. If the Nordic countries are socialist, France is even more so.

But does one often hear progressives lauding the welfarism and bureaucracy of the French system? Not at all. By US standards, a third of French people live in the low-income category, not as high as Italy, but still higher than the US average. Unemployment in France has fluctuated wildly over the years—perhaps a sign of fiscal instability. It reached a rate of 12 percent in the 1990s, but had declined to 7 percent by 2008, just as the global economy was collapsing. Having risen to 10 percent in 2015, it declined to 8 percent in 2019—lower than in Italy, but still shockingly high.

How does France fare on the Better Life Index? Not well. Ranking eighteenth place, it performs better than Italy, but nevertheless substantially below the United States. The Economist’s statistics reinforce this, pointing out that a Frenchman in the top 10 percent of their country’s socioeconomic pyramid is not particularly better off than someone in the bottom 10 percent of America’s.

Greece

Greece draws special attention for a particular reason. It demonstrates the danger which excessive debt and spending can pose to the overall economy. As other countries in Europe and North America clambered out of recession, the Greek economy continued to deteriorate. Between 2008 and 2013, the unemployment rate rose from 7 percent to 27 percent. Since then, it has declined to 15 percent, but the point is that Greek workers have suffered far too much thanks to fiscal recklessness: in 2008, Greek’s deficit was 10 percent of its GDP, so bondholders were not willing to lend any more money to the government for them to fund large stimulus packages. Thus, the Greek economy was drained of capital and had a prolonged depression. Its fiscal infrastructure collapsed even further: debt was 100 percent of GDP in 2008; in 2011, it was 172 percent. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, another country burdened by a high deficit, chose to cut spending, which, while unpopular, has enabled the economy to recover and avoid a debt-ridden catastrophe.

That aside, the Greek economy is undoubtedly overregulated and overtaxed, while welfare spending is indeed very high: social expenditure is 24 percent of GDP, similar to most Nordic countries; tax take is 38.7 percent of GDP, which, while the lowest rate among the countries examined here and lower than the other Nordic countries, is still significantly higher than the OECD average. On the Ease of Doing Business Index, however, Greece ranks by far the lowest of these three countries, in seventy-ninth place; it seems there is more red tape in Greece than in Vietnam, a formerly Communist country. But at least they rank twenty-ninth on the Tax Competitiveness Index, higher than the two other countries examined.

Unfortunately, the Pew Research Center has not focused on Greece much—nor has The Economist. However, other institutions have. As always, on the Better Life Index, Greece ranks thirty-sixth, out of forty countries. Greece’s median household disposable income is a paltry $17,700 a year, far below America’s $45,000.

Conclusion

Essentially, progressive politicians and economists are guilty of cherry-picking countries: while wanting to emulate the Nordic countries, which they claim to be socialist—the same countries which are just as easy to conduct business in as the United States—they ignore these three countries, Italy, France and Greece, which are, by most metrics, more socialist than the Nordics. Because their living standards are incomparable with the United States’s and, in some cases, akin to the Third World, they are rarely used as examples of socialist triumph. Author:

Eben Macdonald

Eben Macdonald is a 15-year-old student, a keen free-marketeer, and he wants a society which is predicated on liberty.

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Classic Stossel: Regulation Overload with Peter Thiel

Posted by M. C. on April 3, 2021

Government planners slow innovation with burdensome rules. In 1931, workers built the Empire State building in just over a year. Now it takes 13 years to finish the new World Trade Center. —- Don’t miss the weekly video from Stossel TV. Sign up here: https://johnstossel.activehosted.com/f/1​ —- Entrepreneur Peter Thiel America is lucky that today’s FDA wasn’t around when the polio vaccine was invented. A Stossel Classic from 2016

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Erie Times E-Edition Article-How some regulation can help markets function better

Posted by M. C. on September 12, 2020

When there are information asymmetries, market participants need some minimum level of assurances – provided and enforced by a credibly independent arbiter, such as the government…

Credibility=government – Catherine Rampell is either delusional or someone’s hack. I suspect the latter.

The only reason companies demand government regulation is to make competition too complex and expensive for smaller companies, or labs in this case.

There is a reason car companies don’t complain about emissions requirements and multiple crash tests from every direction for new car designs.
https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=0f7598765

Regulate us – please. That’s what big pharmaceutical companies are implicitly begging the Trump administration to do, because of a public crisis of confidence in any forthcoming COVID19 vaccine. The plea is surprising on its face. It also rebuts the GOP’s entire understanding of regulation – specifically, that regulation is necessarily bad for businesses, consumers and economic growth.

Since the spring, the administration has hyped miracle cures for COVID19, regardless of what’s known about their efficacy or risks: hydroxychloroquine, bleach, convalescent plasma, whatever that MyPillow guy is hawking lately. Recently, President Donald Trump suggested that a vaccine could, conveniently, come to market just before Election Day.

Meanwhile, his Food and Drug Administration commissioner said he was prepared to authorize a vaccine early.

Americans are understandably apprehensive.

Six in 10 Americans worry political pressure from the administration will lead the FDA to rush vaccine approval before confirming it’s safe and effective, the Kaiser Family Foundation has found. And only about four in 10 would get the vaccine, even if it were free, if the FDA approved it before the election.

Fearful that these suspicions might reduce the market for a drug tremendous resources have gone into developing, Big Pharma took an unusual step Tuesday.

The chief executives of nine drug companies publicly pledged to ‘make the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals the top priority in development of the first COVID19 vaccines.’ Moreover, they vowed not to seek FDA approval before vaccine safety and efficacy had been established in Phase 3 trials – the industry standard – implying that they would do this even if the Trump administration allowed (or encouraged) them to cut corners.

This pledge reflects several notable developments.

One is how much damage Trump has inflicted upon the perceived credibility of public health institutions, as he has upon the National Weather Service, Census Bureau and other independent agencies.

Another is that drug companies – which historically have sought fewer restrictions and faster approval from the FDA – once complained that the bar for bringing new drugs to market was too high. Now they worry that bar appears too low.

This is not the first time the Trump administration has sought to lower the regulatory bar in the name of helping industry and boosting economic growth even when industry objected. See, for example, its rollback of rules regulating methane emissions, automotive fuel-efficiency standards and mercury pollution. These actions were opposed by companies the administration claimed to be helping.

Recent vaccine regulatory jockeying underscores the flaw in the GOP narrative that regulation and economic activity are inversely related – that is, less regulation always means more economic growth.

When there are information asymmetries, market participants need some minimum level of assurances – provided and enforced by a credibly independent arbiter, such as the government – for markets to function. If you don’t trust the party on the other side of a transaction not to cheat or otherwise harm you, you’ll be less likely to engage in the transaction. (This observation is not original to me; an economics Nobel was awarded for it two decades ago.) Regulation, in other words, can be pro-market. It can facilitate the trust necessary for more economic activity to occur. After all, it would be virtually impossible for consumers to independently assess whether the beef at their local grocery store is untainted; whether a used car is fatally defective; or whether their local bank will keep their deposits safe. Yelp stars alone are no substitute for capital requirements.

Alas, the administration’s response to the pandemic has included rolling back more rules and relaxing enforcement of rules still on the books – including those related to public health. Lax government oversight threatens to hold back not just the market for vaccines but other industries affected by the pandemic, too. For instance, airlines say they’re requiring masks aboard. But absent a governmentenforced mandate, customers who see, say, viral photos of disobedient passengers might question whether the policy is actually enforced. And they might just stay home.

There’s a libertarianfriendly alternative to this worldview, one that also happened to win a Nobel Prize: Rather than using strict regulations to ensure honorable behavior, strong property rights and the frictionless ability to sue over those rights could theoretically achieve the same end.

That is, if companies know consumers will win redress for fraud or injury, that threat should sufficiently incentivize quality and safety.

Presumably, Mitch McConnell and Trump believe such policies help the economy. But the fewer consumers who trust either government or corporations to ‘do the right thing,’ the longer it will take for public health – and the economy – to recover. Catherine Rampell is a Washington Post columnist. Email her at crampell@washpost.com.

Catherine Rampell

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The Hidden Costs Behind Every Government Program | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on August 27, 2019

Behind every million dollar tax-funded high school, for example, there hides a million dollars’ worth of other goods and services that these taxpayers never got to purchase, but would have preferred…

https://mises.org/wire/hidden-costs-behind-every-government-program

When the state constructs a new bike lane, school, or begins a new space mission, the natural inclination of the majority is to cheer this new endeavor as progressive. We possess one new structure or have accomplished one new task than before; society has moved forward, the thinking goes.

The state is responsible for truly technically impressive or beautiful accomplishments like the Apollo missions, the Moscow Metro, the Palace of Versailles, etc. that most would agree clearly produce benefits for society.

Confronted with these concrete and widely celebrated examples of government accomplishments, how can libertarians deny that state action is sometimes a benevolent force in society?

Opportunity Cost

Leaving aside moral considerations and focusing on utilitarian considerations, the answer revolves around opportunity cost and demonstrated preference.

Opportunity cost is the benefits that could have been obtained through the best forgone alternative to an actual employment of resources. If a slice of pizza costs two dollars, and a hamburger costs two dollars, then the opportunity cost of a slice of pizza is a hamburger, and visa-versa.

The resources of any given country are scarce, and the “economic question” that must be solved is, how should the limited resources available be applied to best satisfy people’s subjective preferences?

Even if, for example, the state builds a library that is beautiful, the books are neatly organized, the librarian is competent and cordial, the temperature is well-regulated, and the computers are state of the art, we still need to hold our applause.

In order to be able to celebrate the employment of resources by the state in a particular application, it’s necessary to consider the alternative uses that could have been possible with those resources. If there exists an alternative option that could have better satisfied subjective preferences, then the actual employment, even if it produced benefits, was a relative failure.

Voluntary Exchange and Demonstrated Preference

Now the question is: by what standard can it be determined which employment of resources is best, relative to the subjective preferences of consumers, in any given case?

In instances of voluntary exchange, every exchange is not only ex-ante mutually beneficial, it’s ex-ante the best employment of the resources being exchanged, from the perspectives of the respective property owners. This is called demonstrated preference, which Rothbard explains to mean, “simply this: that actual choice reveals, or demonstrates, a man’s preferences; that is, that his preferences are deducible from what he has chosen in action.”

For example, if Smith sells Jones a lamp for twenty dollars, we can know that of all of the alternative uses of the lamp Smith had available to him, such as using it to read, using it as a decoration, keeping it in storage, etc., selling it to Jones for twenty dollars was his most highly preferred option, because that is the option that he freely chose.

Likewise, Jones thought buying Smith’s lamp was the best of all possible uses available to him of his twenty dollars. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have executed that option.

Involuntary Exchange

On the other hand, sometimes exchange, production, and consumption are not conducted as a result of the voluntary decisions of all of the owners of the property involved, but rather under compulsion of physical force. Then, in the absence of demonstrated preference, it can never be known whether the act benefited any of the involved parties or caused them harm, let alone that it was the most beneficial employment of resources for every party involved.

Given that usually countless options are available to actors at any given time, if would be an astronomically unlikely coincidence for the state to happen to dictate what consumers would have voluntarily chosen to do at a particular moment in time anyway. In this way, it’s metaphysically possible for state action to be equally ex-ante beneficial to all parties involved as voluntary exchange, but never more.

Fundamentally, acts of taxation and regulation, due to their involuntary nature, sever the link between consumers’ subjective preferences and the way in which their resources are deployed.

The Seen and the Unseen

Behind every million dollar tax-funded high school, for example, there hides a million dollars’ worth of other goods and services that these taxpayers never got to purchase, but would have preferred over the high school. Perhaps these goods would have been a million dollars’ worth of flowers, food, board games, medical services, books, cutlery, home renovations, farming equipment, computer software, and math tutor services.

There’s nothing stopping taxpayers from funding a high school on their own and sparing themselves the deadweight loss of bureaucracy. It really is simply the case that if consumers want a high school, they can pay for one, and as private high schools demonstrate, they often do.

However, the state using taxation to build a particular high school can only divert funds from more highly valued opportunity costs to the lower ranked high school. Otherwise, no compulsion would have been necessary. Despite this undeniable and simple logic, in the U.S., tax-funded expansions of the government K-12 education system, among other interventions, are widely celebrated.

In terms of public opinion, part of the explanation is that the high school can be seen and cheered because it actually exists, whereas the lost opportunity costs, by their very nature as forgone alternatives, never occurred, as so mourning their loss requires abstract reasoning and imagination on the part of the public.

Frédéric Bastiat described this phenomenon in his classic work “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen.” Conspicuous state projects win the public relations war over quietly letting people spend their money as they actually wish to.

The interstate highway system, the Louvre, and the Sixth Fleet may be impressive, but they’re not cause for applause. Relative to the preferences of the taxpayer, no matter how grand and awe-inspiring a project the state completes, it will always and everywhere ex-ante fall short of voluntary exchange.

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How to Turn America into a Shit-hole Country in 4 Easy Steps | The Daily Bell

Posted by M. C. on April 19, 2019

https://www.thedailybell.com/all-articles/news-analysis/how-to-turn-america-into-a-shit-hole-country-in-4-easy-steps/

By Joe Jarvis

Opening up the floodgates of immigration to people from shit-hole countries would not actually be a problem if America was a free country.

If people were free to keep what they earn instead of having it redistributed, free to defend themselves and their loved ones wherever they went, free to become entrepreneurs without impossible protectionist regulations, America would absorb and assimilate any number of immigrants and refugees.

That’s what happened when Ireland, Italy, and Scotland were shit-hole countries where my ancestors emigrated from. The Irish were poor as dirt, fleeing a famine. The Italians brought the murderous Mafia.

And according to Thomas Sowell in his book Black Rednecks, White Liberals, the Scottish immigrants started the southern redneck culture, ready to fight and kill at the tiniest insult to defend their “honor.”

But a lot has changed since then. You can’t leave your home without breaking a law, so American policing agencies would have to spend a lot of time, energy, and tax dollars beating the ‘Merica into new immigrants.

But why blame the immigrants instead of the system?

1. Tax the citizens’ wealth away (or just steal it outright)

Elizabeth Warren has proposed a wealth tax as part of her campaign platform for President 2020.

This would tax the entire net worth of individuals worth over $50 million, every single year.

This eventually guarantees that no one worth over $50 million lives in the United States. At which point the tax will creep down to the middle class as it always does (especially if inflation makes millionaires of all of us)… Read the rest of this entry »

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How So Many Bad Ideas Manage to Win on Election Day | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 9, 2018

The reason is well-captured by a quote from Jonathan Swift, in 1710: “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.” At the last minute, lies, damned lies and statistics, not to mention unsupported claims, rumors, innuendo, etc., can have their greatest power, because there is not time for serious thought, research, and effective rebuttal before voters must cast what will therefore be far more misinformed ballots.

https://mises.org/wire/how-so-many-bad-ideas-manage-win-election-day

What struck me most as an example this year was “Rent control could spur more building,” by Gary Painter, in the Los Angeles Times (10/31). It was written in favor of California’s Proposition 10, which would have re-enabled majority-renter communities to vote themselves large benefits from others’ pockets by imposing new rent control laws (currently banned by state law).

While many studies have shown that rent control reduces construction, Painter offered an alternate theory to convince voters who oppose rent control for that reason. The core of his argument, which he intimated was a standard Econ 101 lesson (despite over 90% of economists expressing disagreement with his conclusion), was:

Price controls can actually spur an increase in supply. When housing developers have too much power in the market, they can maximize profits by raising rents on the apartments they already own. But if rent control limits that option, developers have to go to Plan B if they want to make more money: Build more units.

The core of Painter’s argument was that the consolidation of the homebuilding industry due to the great recession (the number of builders was approximately halved from 2007 to 2012) and further subsequent concentration in the industry, had given builders monopoly power, which they were using to reduce construction. Consequently, he argued that imposing rent control would be able to tame their monopoly power to increase rents, and leave them with building more rental housing as their sole means to higher profits.

There were many holes in this argument, but there was too little time to it to effectively rebut it before the election. Read the rest of this entry »

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