Should there be some limit to government spying on we citizens? Remember, we the people created our government to protect our lives, our liberty, and our property. We granted only limited powers to our government. We retained for ourselves and the States all powers not specifically granted to the federal government in the Constitution. We believe that people are innocent unless proven guilty and that there needs to be some “probable cause” before our government is allowed to search our property or intrude into our private lives. A key question is: Should private data that is held by third parties be subject to search without any probable cause? Specifically, should our government be able to “scoop up” data related to our phone calls, internet activity, or banking activity without a specific warrant based on probable cause. Today, the answer appears to be yes, our government can do that to us. I think the answer should be no. I understand that if the answer is no, that it will be more difficult for our government to protect us from terrorists. The price of freedom and liberty is not free. Along with our freedom, including privacy, comes risks: risks from which our government may not be able to protect us. At the same time, the history of humankind is littered with oppression of people by their governments. That is why our founding fathers intentionally made it difficult for our government to expand its powers.
The Farm Bill should not pass until the following changes are made:
Stop subsidizing crop insurance. Make farmers pay 100% of the cost. If that raises the price of food, so be it. If it reduces farmers’ incomes, so be it. Subsidizing crop insurance is not a proper role for our government. Today’s federally subsidized crop insurance not only covers losses due to unforeseen disasters, it also covers drops in revenues! If farmers had to pay the full price for their coverage, they might prefer higher deductibles and lower levels of coverage. But to add insult to injury,many farmer who receive subsidies are also very wealthy. There is no good reason why wealthy farmers should be subsidized, even for crop insurance. If our goal is to help poor farmers, then surely the subsidy should be phased out as a farmer’s wealth and income increase.
Establish a maximum amount of subsidy that can be received by any individual or commonly owned group of farms under all farm subsidy programs combined. Again, we shouldn’t be subsidizing big farmers or farm organizations.
Don’t place tariffs on imports unless the country of origin first places tariffs on our exports to that country. Free trade is beneficial to all. It is voluntary! It requires no intervention by government other than to resolve disputes. Free people should not be forced exchange or be prevented from voluntarily exchanging with another party. Amazingly, under the current Farm Bill, we pay Brazilian cotton farmers almost $150 million per year as compensation for the damage done to them by the subsidies we provide to our U.S. cotton farmers! Is that not insane trade policy?
Separate the “rural development” programs from farm subsidies. Again, the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars spent in this area are hidden within the much larger primary subsidy programs. It is questionable whether or not rural economic development is even a proper role of government. In any event, consideration of spending for rural economic development should not be mixed with farm subsidies.
Tie environmental practices to any subsidies granted. We shouldn’t expect perfectly clean water in our lakes and rivers. Wild animals have defecated in them forever. But, it reasonable to expect farmers to not fowl the water down stream from them, and to pay for damages when they can be reasonably determined. The idea of requiring minimum buffer strips between farms and rivers and lakes is reasonable.
Both current Iowa law and the proposed “right to work” amendment to the Iowa Constitution prohibit a private business owner from voluntarily agreeing to hire only union members.
In a free society that respects private property rights and freedom of association, business owners should be free to choose whether or not to bargain with anyone or group about any terms of employment. Government should not get involved either for or against the employer or the employees except to stop either party from using force or fraud against the other. If an employer wants to hire only union members and bargain with a single group, then government should not prohibit it. In that case, individuals who don’t want to join the union can simply refuse to work for that employer.
Just as an employer should be free to agree to hire only people who are members of a union, an employer should also be free to not bargain with any individual or group, including unions, regardless of what employees or union members might vote for. Unless the parties agree by voluntary contract to the contrary, employees should be free to strike, quit, protest, organize boycotts, etc., and employers should be free to fire, lock-out, hire replacements, etc. – as long as neither party uses force.
The whole issue of whether “union certification votes” should be by secret ballot or by a written card check method should not exist. There should be no law to force employers to bargain with unions, even if 100% of the employees vote for it. All employment relationships and contracts should be entered into voluntarily by both parties. The only proper role for government in private business relationships is to stop the use force or fraud against, and to resolve disputes.
In the special case of government as the employer, there should be no requirement that employees join a union, and there should be no requirement that a government bargain with any union. Government is paid for by all taxpayers under threat of force. Therefore, government, as an employer, should not discriminate in its employment practices except on the basis of job requirements or job performance.
The proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution should die, and current Iowa law should be changed to reflect the voluntary nature of any employment relationship.
In a free society, individuals should be allowed to voluntarily choose who they wish to associate with, or not associate with. In an employment relationship, both the employer and employee should be free to terminate the employment relationship with or without notice, and for any reason or no reason – unless they contractually agree to something else.
In the recent case of the dentist who fired his dental assistant, the Iowa Supreme Court was correct in its decision to not penalize the dentist. The dental practice was the private property of the dentist. There was no employment contract between the parties, so the employment relationship could properly be terminated by either party.
People who disagree with what the dentist did are free to peacefully protest against the dentist, and they can try to peacefully organize a boycott of his practice. Remaining employees of the dentist are free to quit or to organize a peaceful strike against him if they wish. But, no one should be able to use force, even a majority through government, to dictate the terms of the employment relationship or penalize either party for terminating the relationship.
If a government had been the employer, it would have been a completely different situation. Governments are created by all of the people to serve all of the people. Government employers should only be allowed to discriminate based on factors related to job requirements and job performance. But peaceful people acting voluntarily should be left alone by government to decide for themselves whether or not to enter into any relationships with one another and to set the terms of those relationships.
Even if it is a fact that traditional marriage, between one woman and one man, is best for children, and is good for the state, it does not logically follow that gay marriage is bad. Is it better for children to live in an orphanage or with a loving family, even if they are a gay couple? Is it better for gay couples to live together in uncommitted or committed relationships? When no one is harmed by the voluntary peaceful actions of adults, what is “good for the state” is a poor reason to use the force of government to prohibit those actions.
This blog post was prompted by a blog, “Marriage isn’t about love”, on Tom Quiner’s site: http://quinersdiner.com/2012/10/09/marriage-isnt-about-love/#comment-5260
Patents are government enforced monopolies that are granted to encourage innovation. There is no natural property right in “intellectual property” (IP). Natural property rights exist in physical things. If you create or obtain property by peaceful and honest means, then you have a natural right to keep and defend that property against those who would use force or fraud to take your property from you. Governments are created to help protect those rights.
Throughout most of human history there has been no recognition of patents. Anyone could copy a good idea from anyone else. Only Kings or other dictators bestowed monopolies to favored groups and used force to stop those who infringed on the monopoly. The inventor of the first wheel had a natural property right in that specific wheel. Other people who made similar copies for themselves did not take anything away from the original creator. Why should force be allowed to stop someone from copying from someone else? Do the ends justify the mean? Isn’t it immoral to use force to stop a peaceful person from doing something that does no harm to others?
It is wrong to assume that people would not be inventive if they had no patent protection. They might be more inventive and more creative. Do a thought experiment: What would happen if there were no patents? Might there not be more and faster invention? As much as possible, inventors would try to keep their manufacturing processes secret. But keeping such secrets would be very difficult, if not impossible in many cases. Inventors would also try to use contracts to prevent people from copying their inventions. Contracts would give them some protection, but only against those who are party to the contracts.
Patents are supposed to be granted only for original inventions that are not obvious. In the recent case between Apple and Samsung, one of the patents which Apple successfully defended was the “look and feel” of the IPhone, including the rounded corners and the “bounce-back” screen. Mercedes Benz has a new TV ad where they tout that they have over 80,000 patents. (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc6CejduPP0) Is that a good thing? Today, it is becoming very difficult to create anything technical without infringing on someone else’s patent. What government gives, government can take away. Until we get rid of patents, our government should get much more conservative about what types of inventions get patent protection and about how much time the patent is granted for.
In the case of drugs and medical devices, I would feel much better about our government providing for our “general welfare” by funding medical research if no patents were allowed if taxpayer money is used in anyway to fund the development. Inventions based on taxpayer funded medical and technological research, or based on research done at public universities should not be patentable, either by the States or the universities. They should be left in the public domain for the benefit of all citizens.