Monthly Archives: February 2009

Moral Problem with Taxation

I recall a conversation I had with my brother-in-law, who is left-leaning and a solid Democrat.  I was trying to explain why I viewed taxation as immoral.  My slant was something like this: if taxes are good and beneficial, then individuals would pay them voluntarily.  Why force me to put my money where I would otherwise not put it?  To me, this is an irreconcilable abrogation on private property rights.

His response was simple: to him, taxes were voluntary.  He trusts the system (more than I do, anyway) and gladly pays his taxes for what he sees are fair pay-offs: health care assistance, education assistance, roads, social security, etc.  In short, he voluntarily would pay his taxes.  He chooses to do so.  Even if the IRS removed their thousands of armed agents and strict federal tax evasion laws were repealed, he’d still pay.

Now my argument is this: that’s fine and dandy if you or even many people would voluntarily pay the government for these services.  But what of us that would not willingly do so, provided stringent repellents were not in place?  We are being forced or compelled to use our money in a way we would not choose to.

Consider how many tens of millions of Americans are being forced to pay taxes (taxes and tax policy are largely controlled by unelected bureaucrats) against their will!  Where is their agency?  Where is their individual liberty?  Why is it neglected?

Did our Founding Fathers really think that a bare majority (or unelected bureaucrats, as the case may be) are morally justified in setting an arbitrary tax rate that is binding on everyone else?

I think not.  Democracy is highly over-rated in today’s political world, and is one way of abrogating private property rights and individual liberty itself.  Far better to follow the Founding Fathers in severely limiting the powers and functions of government, especially government’s control over our pursestrings, and those of our grandchildren!

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Filed under Austrian Economics, fiscal policy, Libertarian, monetary policy, politics, role of government

On the Stimulus Plan

The much-discussed stimulus plan is one amazing piece of legislation.  Has there ever been one single piece of legislation to rival it in its scope and cost?  Some estimate its eventual cost to be $3 trillion.

There is something very backwards and contradictory about the mainstream Keynesian economic assumptions behind the bill: the government is somehow able to get us out of this mess.

Historically, governments do not run economies well.  They do tragically poorly when trying to distribute resources equitably or justly.  Just ask any who recall Khmer Rouge, Red China, North Korea, or the USSR.  Each has a history of hundreds of thousands (in some cases tens of millions) of individuals starving to death as the government failed to distribute the simplest commodity, food, to individuals in need.  If governments consistently fail to distribute food, a most basic necessity, to those in dire need, how can they distribute cash or capital necessary to jumpstart the economy again?

We can recall the source of these troubles: contrary to popular belief, the free market, as Thomas Woods’ latest book reminds us, is not the culprit, but government intervention is.  How ironic that we allow those who got us into this mess (bureaucratic interventionists) to determine how to get us out.

The argument that something must be done is ludicrous: does heaping gasoline on a blazing fire help at all?

Far better to trust individuals acting freely to use their own resources as they see fit.  Far better to follow the Austrian model and trust liberty, freedom, limited Constitutional government, non-interventionism (domestically and internationally) and the protection of individual rights (including private property rights).  It is this model alone that predicted The Great Depression, the failure of socialism, and all other economic catastrophes, including the present one.

While most run to and fro wondering, “Why did this happen?” and “How do we get out of this?” we should trust those that have a proven record of understanding the problems associated with economic interventionism and the benefits of individual liberty.

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Filed under Austrian Economics, fiscal policy, Libertarian, monetary policy, politics, recession, role of government, Social Commentary

On Obama’s Mortgage Rescue Plan

I’m no expert.

But economics shouldn’t be (and really isn’t) about smoke-and-mirrors, or complicated terminology and formulae understandable only by the intellectual elite.

It’s about individuals acting freely, and efforts hampering their free actions.

In this case, one effect of the recently-discussed mortgage rescue plan effectively props up housing prices.

A market economy is all about using prices to send the right market signals.  When government price controls are in place, or prices or otherwise distorted, they send the wrong signal.

During a boom, prices are artificially inflated, especially in those areas where the boom was focused.  During a bust, they come down.  For the economy to get going again, the bubble must deflate.  Prices must adjust downwards.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s mortgage rescue plan, as well meaning as it may be, has the effect of trying to prop up prices, keeping them artificially high.  Perhaps the most important effect this will have for you and I is that it will slow down economic recovery by delaying the inevitable price falls now taking place.  Those prices falls will occur.  Propping up housing prices is relatively futile and in this case, also expensive.

The mortgage rescue plan seems well-intentioned: it aims to create government incentives and penalties to encourage “responsible” homeowners to stay in their homes rather than foreclose.  Unfortunately, as it takes away from individual liberty (by further intervening in private enterprise) and burdens current and future generations with debt, it has negative consequences which far outweigh potential benefits.

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Filed under Austrian Economics, fiscal policy, politics, recession, role of government

Not Billy Graham’s Prayer

I found this emailed to me yesterday, and thought it interesting enough to share:

“Heavenly Father,

We come before You today to ask Your Forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ”Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we have done. We have lost our Spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that; we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism; We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism; We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle; We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery; We have neglected the needy and called it self preservation; We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare; We have killed our unborn and called it choice; We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable; We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem; We have abused power and called it political savvy; We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition; We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression; We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of this state and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state of Kansas. Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your Will.

I ask in in the name of your Son, The Living Savior, Jesus Christ.”

By the way, this link indicates that Billy Graham is not the author, but Minister Joe Wright, who gave the prayer in 1996 in front of the Kansas Senate.

No matter who gave it, many find it true and it has become their prayer as well.

I would add to the prayer that there’s also the idea of adding a huge military-industrial (and spying or “intelligence”) complex for the purpose of peace.  There’s something ironic about that.

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Filed under Libertarian, politics, role of government, Social Commentary

On President Obama and Economics

Considering yesterday’s post, you may wonder whether I have some sort of vendetta or personal grudge against our president.  I do not.  I have a grudge against the welfare-warfare state, and since President Obama is heading it up, and bringing us more welfare and warfare, I am opposed, staunchly, to his policies which lead us in that direction.  I pray for him and hope for the best, and certainly have reason for some optimism.  But I am not expecting a liberty-based perspective from him.  I am relatively ambivalent about his superpopularity: that will be an achilles heel, a constant barrage of special interests that can in no way find complete satisfaction at his hand, and they will one day turn on him, in my opinion.  My wife and I are in agreement: with popular (and celebrity) expectations so high, how can he possibly meet them without becoming a tyrant?

I am staunchly opposed to his narrow-minded economic perspective.  He wants to transcend ideology by embracing it.  Namely, that ideology which trusts central economic planning and the powerful hand of government to fix problems.  The more numerous the problems, the more heavy-handed the government response.  The narrow-mindedness stems from the lack of regard to infringements on personal liberty and the misunderstanding that government intervention is the source of many of these problems to begin with.

Mr. Obama has said very recently, “Every economist, even those who may quibble with the details of the makeup in a package, will agree that if you’ve got a trillion dollars in lost demand this year, and a trillion dollars in lost demand next year, then you’ve got to have a big enough recovery package to actually make up for those lost jobs and lost demand.”

On January 9th, he said something similar, “”There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jump-start the economy.”

I recommend you consult this interview for a perspective into the actual disagreement.  There are economists from the Austrian School that trust liberty over statism and freedom over government control.  They understand the great irony that statism is largely to blame for many of the weaknesses government tries to remedy.  It’s as if one tries to cure mercury poisoning by consuming more mercury, not understanding the cause, nor the effects of the cure.

Please note this ad: there is certainly disagreement with the idea that further government spending will fix the problem.

Mr. President, if you truly desire change that leads to greater prosperity, peace, freedom, and unity for all, you do yourself and the American people a huge disservice by discounting this growing school of thought that puts individual liberty ahead of collectivism.

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Filed under Austrian Economics, fiscal policy, Learning, politics, role of government, Social Commentary

Sardonic Reflections on the News

I didn’t know that a bus was a standard measurement unit, but it seems like every reference to this story includes this comparison.  And why is it that every story seems to link that amazing find to climate change?  Could there not be an agenda in there somewhere?

Why all the emphasis on “President Obama? (note the 650,000+ news stories)”  Why not just call him king, call the inauguration a coronation, and rename the “White House” the “White Castle?” 

Just think of all the jobs created by designing, fabricating, and fitting an intricate crown made of various precious metals and gems!  Come to think of it, why stop at one when we could get royal headgear for the whole royal family!  There would be the quandry of whether to insert a “buy American” clause into such a crown.  After all, I’m not sure American goldsmithing is up to snuff.

Question: if President Obama is the king, who is the jester?

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