Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

For "a human being, the question 'to be or not to be,' is the question 'to think or not to think.'" Ayn Rand

30 September 2013

What is Bad About a So-Called Government Shut-Down?

A so-called government shut-down is not really a shut-down of all government activities.  The defense of the country will continue to be provided.  Even Social Security checks and payments for Medicare will continue.  Yes, the employees of some meddling government regulatory agencies will be marked as non-essential and will be sent home.  That is the very least most of them are.  It is not at all essential that government interfere with the sovereign rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which is the mission of the government regulatory agencies.

Aside from defense, even the few powers the Constitution grants the federal government, are not very essential over short periods of time.  The power to establish post offices and post roads can surely go without exercise for a few months with no great consequences.  The power to establish a uniform rule of nationalization is already established in law, albeit not very good law.  Uniform laws on bankruptcy have also been established.  The regulation of commerce with foreign nations needs only to glide along established paths for a few months.  Protection against counterfeiting requires but a small group of specialists and it is clear that counterfeiters cannot even begin to compete with the Federal Reserve in watering down the value of the US currency in any case.  The Patent Office is also a small operation by the standards of the federal government.  Even the management of the federal courts is a very small fraction of the manpower used by the federal government.  The next Census is not to be held until 2020.  So, basically there is very little of the present mammoth government that is needed to perform its constitutionally granted functions, aside from the military.

And still the Social Security and Medicare checks will be also be issued, despite these activities clearly being beyond the constitutional grant of powers.  But, the EPA, NLRB, FEC, FAA, NOAA, NASA, NIH, FDA, the Agricultural Dept., the Energy Dept., the Education Dept., the Housing and Urban Affairs Dept., the Labor and Commerce Depts., SEC, HHS, and other agencies whose primary purpose is to control our lives and infringe upon our individual rights will have to designate many employees as non-essential and furlough them.  That is a very good thing.

Perhaps, these furloughs will even set aside many of the people writing regulations to implement such awful laws as ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank cover-up of the government culpability for the financial melt-down of the Great Socialist Recession.  Perhaps Obama will not have enough aides to do the paperwork to give his supporters special subsidies and exclusions from laws such as ObamaCare.  Now that would be a most excellent consequence of a government slow-down.

In fact, let us make the government slow-down a permanent thing!  It will do much to return our government to its legitimate function of protecting our sovereign individual rights.  It will do much to decrease its many tyrannical activities.  If the slow-down lasts long enough, any of the slowed activities with any justification will be taken up by the private sector and performed much better than our incompetent government does them.

20 September 2013

It is the Job of the House of Representatives to Stop Excessive Spending and ObamaCare

The federal government is wholeheartedly engaged in excessive spending.  Most of its spending is for purposes that are not consistent with the powers of the federal government as enumerated in the Constitution.  It is the responsibility of the House of Representatives to stop such spending.  One of the most egregious examples of the government violating its enumerated power limits is ObamaCare.

The federal government has no enumerated power to either provide healthcare to Americans or to impose limits on the healthcare they are allowed to choose for themselves.  This is so clear that the the only way that it could survive review by the big government Supreme Court was by five Justices pretending it was justified as a tax, despite the claims at the time of passage by its supporters that it was not a tax.  As I have argued before, such passage of legislation on a fraudulent basis should be sufficient by itself to have a law nullified by the Court.

But most fundamentally, ObamaCare's primary premise is that the government owns every individual's body and mind.  If it did not, it would not be in a position to dictate how individuals care for their bodies and minds.  There are almost innumerable other grounds for rejecting ObamaCare as a tyrannical violation of individual rights as well.

The House of Representatives is required by the Constitution to originate tax or revenue bills.  The passage of ObamaCare itself made a mockery of this requirement since that bill really originated in the Senate.  This was a severe violation of the separation of powers.  The House was chosen as the critical point of revenue bill origination because the power to tax was much feared by the Framers of the Constitution and they knew it to be feared by the People.  They wanted the House which had the most rapid turn-over and could be most quickly punished for its misdeeds by the People to play the primary role in taxation.

Because the House must originate taxation bills, it should be especially concerned to limit spending.  This is the only way, aside from running up the nation's debts, that it can avoid taxing the People at levels which will harm them and slow the growth of the economy.  To avoid the onus of heavy taxation or irresponsible debt, the House must control spending.  ObamaCare is a huge spending bill and it is also a bill which is substantially reducing the strength of the economy and increasing the burden of spending on households, thereby reducing their ability to pay taxes.

Yet despite these natural functions and responsibilities of the House of Representatives, we are being told by people such as Bill O'Reilly, Karl Rove, and Obama supporters that should the House of Representatives defund the ObamaCare train-wreck and should the Senate and the President then refuse to approve the spending bill sent to them by the House, that it is the House that has shutdown the government.  According to them, it is the responsibility of the House to bow to the Senate and the President on spending and presumably on taxation no matter how irresponsible their spending is.  These opponents of defunding ObamaCare are actually depriving the House of Representatives of its constitutional mandate to be the close guardian of government taxation and spending in the interests of the People.

ObamaCare supporters imply that a bill passed by some previous Congress is binding on future Congresses and all of its spending is also binding on those future Congresses until such time as a future Congress may repeal the entire law.  This is nonsense.  The American Principle is that government should be minimal and devoted to the protection of individual rights.  If the house of Congress closest to the People, the House of Representatives, is taken out of the control of the Democrats and comes to be controlled by the Republicans in large part due to the People's anger over the passage of ObamaCare, it is the responsibility of that House to limit the damage of the rights-violating, spendthrift, and health care degrading bill.  This is the process intended by the Framers of the Constitution.  The natural and responsible way to do this is by reducing its funding or better yet by defunding it altogether.

The Senate and Obama are simply obstructionist when they require that every program they want be fully funded or they will shut down the entire government.  They are failing their responsibility to provide those few functions of the government which are actually constitutionally required of it.  ObamaCare is not actually even allowed by the Constitution, let alone required by it.  Yet the media will insist that the House must bow to the power of the Senate and Obama to spend as much as they wish, no matter what the cost is to the People.

It is time for the People to insist upon the responsible use of their hard-earned tax dollars and upon limits on future debt increases.  It is also time for them to insist in no uncertain terms that ObamaCare is damaging their ability to manage their own medical care and hence is a fundamental violation of the very right to live and of the right to pursue their own happiness.

04 September 2013

Public School Monopoly Favored by Obama over Education

I have long opposed the government monopoly on our school system and education.  There is only a path to less and less freedom so long as this monopoly control continues.  It is the greatest of all impediments to the protection of individual rights in the USA.  The government will always use the schools as a propaganda tool to gain more and more power for itself at the expense of our liberties.  Children are rarely capable of teaching themselves how to think critically and independently enough to overcome the onslaught of highly biased Progressivist attacks on the private sector as the government is held up as the cure to all problems.

Not only are they devoured as individuals by a biased view of history, economics, and of society, but they are all too often left even more defenseless by schools that deliver them into adulthood unable to read, write, and perform basic math skills.  These government-run and controlled schools are making adult dependents, which really means they are producing people who will always be children.

Daniel Mitchell has written a very good article on the Obama administration backing of public teachers unions at the clear expense of the education of mostly black and totally poor students in the Louisiana voucher program.  Louisiana is a state particularly cursed with a long tradition of awful public schools.  Obama wants to prevent the reform of these terrible schools simply to keep the backing of the powerful public teachers unions.

Dan also gives some interesting links to articles by the always great Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams, as well as to articles on how Chile, Sweden, and the Netherlands are using vouchers to reform their school systems.

Daniel Mitchell is an economist and commentator well-worth the read.  He is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a very good man.

Cohen: Government Intimidation Violating Individual Rights

Alexander Cohen of the Atlas Society and its Business Rights Center has written a most excellent article on the violation of our individual rights caused by government prosecutors piling on sentencing penalties to keep us from standing upon our rights.  They intimidate people into plea bargain agreements when they are innocent or when they may be innocent.  These citizens are deprived of their day in court, to which they are entitled.  As Cohen says, our rights mean little if were are too afraid to assert them.

Syria and Intervention

Generally, the American public and certainly most of the media, have concluded that George W. Bush was wrong to put Saddam Hussein out of power in Iraq.  Yet, many of these same people are calling for Obama to use military power against Bashar al-Assad in Iraq.  Let us take a quick assessment of the relative merits of the two cases.

It seems clear that if the action of George W. Bush in applying military power to Iraq was as wrong as so many now claim it was, then those same people should be having a very difficult time justifying military action against Syria.

To be sure, Obama is presently talking about a limited action and one might argue that it could be scaled appropriately to the lower level of justification for the retribution against the evil regime of Bashar al-Assad.  However, these efforts to tune actions to a lower level of violence and effort often become much escalated.  What is more, Obama very nearly took action without Congressional approval, which is an assertion of power on his part that can only be justified if he is acting to protect Americans from a clear and imminent danger.  No such danger exists, so the constitutional requirement for Congressional approval is clear.  I am very inclined to mistrust a man who is reluctant to acknowledge this constitutional requirement.  Note that George W. Bush did not ignore it.

Frankly, one also has to be sure that our own national interest is substantially involved.  Even a limited attack is expensive at a time when our economy is in stagnation and our government is already draining the private sector of its wealth by taking 24 and 25% of GDP year after year.  We have a huge unemployment rate and many people employed only part time.  We have the outrageous expenses and rights violations of ObamaCare hanging over us.  We have an energy policy designed to pay off Obama cronies and cost consumers skyrocketing energy bills with no valid justification in either fossil fuel shortages or a failed man-made global warming hypothesis.  We have a mushrooming dependency of people on food stamps and social security disability payments.  We have a Baby Boomer Generation about to begin retiring in huge numbers with the accompanying loss of production and taxes and a great increase in Medicare and Social Security expenses.

We have a government which refuses to face these realities and which indeed appears to be playing up the Syria atrocities and our military response as a distraction from our own problems.  What is more, we do not have either a clear policy for Syria or for the Middle East in general.  Our policy is pretty near completely befuddled in fact.  At some point one has to adjust our foreign policy to the intelligence and knowledge of those who would execute it and we have to note that the present regime is uniquely clueless.  A regime headed by a community organizer who cannot write a coherent report or article and which first put Hilary Clinton and then Hanoi John at the head of the State Department, is not one we should want leading such military adventures.  A regime that would not face the need for more security for our people in Benghazi and would not even try to come to their rescue, is not one that inspires confidence.  What is more, this regime has long been choosing our military leaders for their political compliance and even those leaders have recently been replaced in unusually large numbers because they were apparently not compliant enough.

Bashar al-Assad is a monster.  One cannot help but wish to see such people removed from the face of the Earth.  But, it is not sufficiently in the interest of the U.S. to do this by ourselves and it sure is not a task I want to entrust to Obama.

Now let us return to discussions of the ObamaCare train-wreck, the stagnant economy, huge government overspending, the needed reforms of Medicare, Social Security, tax policy, the regulatory agencies, the Department of Education, the Department of Labor and its NLRB, the Department of Energy and an anti-fossil fuel bias, the monetary messes of the Federal Reserve, the massive snooping on Americans, the general anti-business climate, and the promotion of really bad climate science by the government.  Solving these problems is in the national interest.  Ignoring them is not.

03 September 2013

Soaking Smaller Businesses under Mandated Workers Compensation Insurance

My small laboratory operation with three employees, counting myself, is forced to pay $69 a year for Terrorism Insurance to The Hartford as part of our mandated Workers Compensation and Employers Liability Insurance.  This is a ridiculous charge for insurance for a small company located in Columbia, Maryland.  We are hardly a target for terrorists.

What is more important yet, my actual payroll was multiplied by a factor of 1.74 to arrive at the payroll basis they use for charging for all aspects of the workers compensation insurance.  It turns out that the state of Maryland requires insurers offering workers compensation insurance to treat all officers of the company as having a minimum salary even if they actually have a smaller salary.  This is a clearly discriminatory act against very small companies and is of the nature of piling onto them when times are hard.  What I would give to be able to pay myself and my partner what the state claims we must have for our insurance premium basis!

Of course, I would not be surprised if the state of Maryland does not have this discriminatory requirement in part at the insistence of the insurers.  It is a curious thing that the upper salary used for the insurance basis is also set by the state of Maryland.  An executive making more than $197,600 is only counted as $197,600 to calculate the premium.  Chalk up another advantage for larger companies to make it a bit harder for smaller companies to compete.

This piling on process is similar to the state raising the rate for unemployment insurance on a company that has kept all of its employees while other companies are letting theirs go.  When unemployment claims go up, our rate goes up to cover the state's increased costs.  No one ever worries about our increased costs in hard times.  This never-ending Great Socialist Recession sure is a one-of-a-kind such hard time.

Governments cause horrible, long-lasting recessions and then they increase taxes on those companies trying to survive the chaos and destruction caused by governments.  Of course, if you are a big company or you have pull with government, then you can gather up subsidies,
be the beneficiary of mandates, and earn exemptions.

02 September 2013

Roger Donway Calls for an End to White Collar Crime Persecutions of Businessmen

Roger Donway has long fought heroically for the rights of businessmen to pursue profits and to earn a living.  He has led the effort of the Business Rights Center of the Atlas Society.  Roger has defended Michael Milken, Frank Quattrone, and more recently Greg Reyes against villainous persecutions.  The case of Greg Reyes is told in his acclaimed book Rich-Hunt: The Backdated Options Frenzy and the Ordeal of Greg Reyes.  Now at the last Atlas Shrugged Summer Seminar, he gave a talk entitled White Collar Crime.

Donway traces the origins of the intent to persecute businessmen for their profit seeking and the early use of the term "white collar crime."  He points out that if an act is properly criminal, in objective law it is not criminal simply because it was committed by a businessman.  It is no more right to direct laws and crimes at businessmen than it is to have a special set of laws and crimes for Hispanics, or Asian-Americans, or blue-collar employees.

He points out that the white collar crime crusade grew out of plains-state Christian condemnation of profit and self-interest modified by a high regard for the state that various Progressive scholars picked up from studies abroad in Prussia in the early 20th Century.  He identifies a couple of sociologists, E. A. Ross and Edwin H. Sutherland, as being particularly important in the development of the irrational idea of white collar crime.

The idea was developed that businessmen who may be more honest and law-abiding individually were driven by being in a corporation or business organization to an unusual disregard for the norms of society and its laws and regulations.  Because of this, the state needed to have an especially rigorous set of laws and regulations directed at controlling their behavior.

Of course, this idea has the usual fault that the state has a very high disregard for the norms of society and has a strong predilection for not applying the laws it creates to Congress and those in the employ of the government.  The regulator is much more corruptible and has no constraints placed on it by highly concerned customers.  State regulation simply resorts to force in a relationship and does not use the restraining effect that all parties must at least think they will benefit from a transaction if it is to win their approval.  Most business transactions are scrutinized far more closely than are most political votes for our representatives.  The quality of the regulatory agency leadership is even more questionable.  Then there are the publicity-seeking public prosecutors playing upon uninformed and prejudiced public opinion.

Donway makes many good points in his very important talk.  It will be well worth your time to listen to his presentation.