Faith in Mankind not the Legislator

More words of wisdom from uncle Freddie:
Against such conclusions as these I protest with all my strength. Far from entertaining the absurd idea of doing away with religion, education, property, labor, and the arts, when we say that the State ought to protect the free development of all these kinds of human activity, without helping some of them at the expense of others—we think, on the contrary, that all these living powers of society would develop themselves more harmoniously under the influence of liberty; and that, under such an influence no one of them would, as is now the case, be a source of trouble, of abuses, of tyranny, and disorder. Our adversaries consider that an activity which is neither aided by supplies, nor regulated by government, is an activity destroyed. We think just the contrary. Their faith is in the legislator, not in mankind; ours is in mankind, not in the legislator.

This is Your Chance

Don't everyone jump at once, but apparently the president needs help getting the word out about the great new healthcare system that he has so graciously provided for us.  So I guess maybe the popularity and great benefits of the program aren't speaking for themselves?  I just keep getting a kick out of these email calls to action.  I can only imagine in 20 years how much more hilarious they are going to be.

If you think you're never going to win a chance to go backstage to meet President Obama, I need to tell you something:

That's what I thought, too. 

When I got the phone call to tell me my name had been selected, I was floored. It wasn't long before my husband and I were getting on a free flight to D.C. to meet the President face to face. 

I'm here to tell you -- if you're still on the fence, you should go for it right now. 

Anyone who adds their name to help with the final push on health care enrollment is automatically eligible to win. Chances are, you were probably planning to help out anyway. This is a pretty amazing bonus.

When you get home, all your friends will want to know: What is it like to meet President Obama?

Here's the truth -- it felt like meeting an old friend.

The President is so warm and genuine -- he wanted to know all about me and my husband. Talking with him completely reaffirmed my commitment to keep fighting for what is important. And the photo of the three of us is one of my favorite things to show off.

If I could go again, I'd do it in a heartbeat -- heck, I'm going to throw my name in too, just in case. 

Add your name to help spread the word on health care enrollment, and you'll be automatically entered to meet President Obama himself:

http://my.barackobama.com/This-is-Your-Chance

Thanks -- I'll be pulling for you!

Cathi

Bastiat's Negative Railroad

From Economic Sophisms, by Frederic Bastiat

I have said that as long as one has regard, as unfortunately happens, only to the interest of the producer, it is impossible to avoid running counter to the general interest, since the producer, as such, demands nothing but the multiplication of obstacles, wants, and efforts.

I find a remarkable illustration of this in a Bordeaux newspaper.

M. Simiot raises the following question:

Should there be a break in the tracks at Bordeaux on the railroad from Paris to Spain?

He answers the question in the affirmative and offers a number of reasons, of which I propose to examine only this:

There should be a break in the railroad from Paris to Bayonne at Bordeaux; for, if goods and passengers are forced to stop at that city, this will be profitable for boatmen, porters, owners of hotels, etc.

Here again we see clearly how the interests of those who perform services are given priority over the interests of the consumers.

But if Bordeaux has a right to profit from a break in the tracks, and if this profit is consistent with the public interest, then Angoulême, Poitiers, Tours, Orléans, and, in fact, all the intermediate points, including Ruffec, Châtellerault, etc., etc., ought also to demand breaks in the tracks, on the ground of the general interest—in the interest, that is, of domestic industry—for the more there are of these breaks in the line, the greater will be the amount paid for storage, porters, and cartage at every point along the way. By this means, we shall end by having a railroad composed of a whole series of breaks in the tracks, i.e., a negative railroad.

Whatever the protectionists may say, it is no less certain that the basic principle of restriction is the same as the basic principle of breaks in the tracks: the sacrifice of the consumer to the producer, of the end to the means.

Bastiat Predicts the Civil War

I collected this note while reading the Bastiat Collection on my Kindle a couple of years back.  Unfortunately, I am going to have to do some digging in order to point you to the specific essay.  However, I found it to be an incredible tid bit of history that a Frenchman who died in 1850 would predict with such accuracy the roots of the War Between the States:
Look at the United States. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain—which is, to secure to everyone his liberty and his property. Therefore, there is no country in the world where social order appears to rest upon a more solid basis. Nevertheless, even in the United States, there are two questions, and only two, that from the beginning have endangered political order. And what are these two questions? That of slavery and that of tariffs; that is, precisely the only two questions in which, contrary to the general spirit of this republic, law has taken the character of a plunderer. Slavery is a violation, sanctioned by law, of the rights of the person. Protection is a violation perpetrated by the law upon the rights of property; and certainly it is very remarkable that, in the midst of so many other debates, this double legal scourge, the sorrowful inheritance of the Old World, should be the only one which can, and perhaps will, cause the rupture of the Union.

The Ethics of Dynamite

I just finished listening to an episode of Free Thoughts, The Ethics of Dynamite, which I cannot recommend highly enough.  Enjoy this calm and reasoned discussion on the legitimacy of the state based on the this essay of the same title.  I'm clearly a little bit more radical than these guys in terms of my view on the legitimacy of the state, but it is so rare that I hear a debate of this subject on either side that is not inflamed with vitriol that I cannot contain my excitement.

The Netflix Mandate

I finally took the plunge and signed up for Netflix.  I don't know why I was being so cheap before; I'm not really going to miss the $8/month.  And, I feel that I get a great deal of entertainment for the money.  Even more, I don't have to think about it; every month the money is charged to my credit card.  If it was more than $8/month, that bother me, but as it is I feel pretty good about it.

But, it got me to thinking, "What if the fee was automatically deducted from my paycheck on a pre-tax basis?"  Not only would that simplify things for me, but it would obviously increase the value proposition of Netflix, so much so that they would doubtless be able to increase their prices without loosing customers.  In fact, they would probably see a considerable expansion in their subscriptions, because let's face it, avoiding every possible penny of taxes is great fun.  Everyone else in the entertainment sector - and frankly, outside of it as well - would cry "foul".  This is rightfully so as Netflix would be profiting greatly from a fortuitous tax loophole.

This should make you wonder why we pay for health "insurance" this way.  Do we benefit from greater access to cheaper care because we are able to pay for it with pre-tax money, or does this practice simply inflate the prices, remove the true consumer from the decision making process and artificially drive the expansion of this voter-preferred sector of the economy?      

An Unfortunate Hole in Federally-Administered Education

Does anyone think that it is coincidence that we (at least everyone I have talked to) were never taught, in federally-administered schools, very many details about the lead up to the Constitutional Convention?  All I remember was a passing mention of the Articles of Confederation and how inadequate they were, particularly with regard to the "weakness" of the federal government.  All of these arguments seem to be based on the supremacy and importance of a large, strong federal government.  Why is so little attention paid to the strong apposition to the reformulation of the confederation (and why am I reluctant to use that word?)?  Why was I well out of school before I learned of the Anti Federalists?

While I do not believe this is a coincidence, I also do not imagine that it is the result of a massive conspiracy, but rather as an emergence of the religion of State observed by most citizens.

Today's Act of Mental Heresy

Today, I would like you to commit serial thoughtcrime.  Every time you encounter the word "government", I would like you to replace it with "organized crime" or an appropriate synonym.  If you hear "leaders", or better yet, "public servants", replace it with "boss" or some equivalent.

If you think this is silly or if it does not reveal any insight into our world, feel free to go back to your regular way of thinking tomorrow.
Disclaimer:  To protect the delicate humors of your friends, neighbors and coworkers, be advised not to make any utterances of your revelations.  Instead, provide your thoughts in the comments below.  

Confessions of an Alleged Former Libertarian

I have often wondered, "Where are all the former Libertarians?"  Well, I was delighted to come across tale of one on the School Sucks podcast.  In the highly recommended episode Brett goes word-by-word though a Salon.com article titled, "Confessions of a former Libertarian: My personal, psychological and intellectual epiphany."  I opened the article immediately upon arriving home from my daily commute.  Even though Brett went through the article in great detail, I couldn't wait to read it with my own eyes, thinking that there had to be some substance that I missed by just listening to it.  I was greatly disappointed. In spite of the title there was no description of an intellectual epiphany within the article. The author describes how the logical consistency of libertarianism made him feel good and allowed him to win arguments, but how, over time, the fact that he and his friends didn't feel that the ideology allowed him to act compassionately led to his conversion to "unremarkable liberalism."

I see.  It's a simple matter of feelings over mind, so let's work through the illogical progression.  I used to think that no one had the right the initiate the use of force against others.  But this didn't sit well with me.  What if some people don't have everything that I think they need, after all?  Other people can provide it for them.  Why shouldn't they be forced?  Viola!  I have a right to force A to give to B what i think B needs, because by God, that's the compassionate way to live!
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