Some discrimination should be allowed.

The Des Moines Register recently published a nice essay by a gay couple who got married in Iowa without any discrimination issues to deal with. (See link to Register essay below.) It is fair and reasonable for government to prohibit discrimination against gay couples and others in the selling of standard goods and services that are offered to the public, like most products retail stores, rooms at hotels and motels, and meals at restaurants. But when the product or services needs to be customized or personalized by the seller, then discrimination by the seller should be allowed, and the buyer should not be able to enlist the force of government to require the seller to provide the product or service. So, for example, cake bakers should required to sell what is what is on their shelves and available for sale without discrimination, but they should not be required to create custom cakes against their will.  At the same time buyers are free to choose other sellers and to organize peaceful protests and boycotts against such discriminating sellers.  This way, everyone’s liberty is preserved, and no force needs to be used, by government or anyone else.
As readers of this blog may know, I am and atheist libertarian and support gay marriage.
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Consider Gary Johnson, Libertarian for President

Many of us feel very dissatisfied about having to choose between the lesser f two evils for president.  Many think that Hillary Clinton is dishonest and has been bought and paid for by large special interests, and many think that Trump is unqualified in international affairs and a braggart bully with no substance on the issues.  We shouldn’t have to make the least bad choice.

Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico and the Libertarian Party candidate for President, is a good choice.  Johnson is a down-to-earth, common sense person who believes in fiscal responsibility, social tolerance, strong defense international good will, and individual liberty.   Socially, he has a live-and-let-live philosophy – you should be able to do pretty much whatever you want as long as you don’t initiate force or fraud against others, and don’t put others in danger.  Fiscally, he believes the federal government should play a much smaller role in our lives.  He does believe there is a proper role for government – to help protect our lives, our liberty, and our justly acquired property.  He is against crony capitalism.  He knows that  a welfare state creates dependency.  He believes that we should work together, cooperatively and voluntarily, to solve our common problems.

If you are polled about who you would support or vote for President, tell them that you are for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president.  At least that might get him into the national debates and give us a chance to learn about an alternative to the the lesser of two evils.

Eminent domain – not for privately owned projects – no matter the “public benefit.”

Both the Iowa and U.S. Constitutions allow government to take private property, using the government’s power of eminent domain, when the property taken is for public use, (and just compensation is paid).  Taking property for public benefit is not sufficient.  Many privately owned enterprises benefit the public. If we allow property to be taken for public benefit, there would be almost no limit on the power of government to take people’s property.  Public use means what is says: the property will be used by the public, not by a privately owned company. So, using eminent domain to take property for privately owned gas pipelines or electricity transmission lines is not public use and should not be allowed.  The Iowa Legislature failed to pass legislation that would have strengthened our property rights against taking by eminent domain, but that doesn’t mean regulators (the Iowa Utility Board) can’t stand up for the rights of property owners and not allow the use of eminent domain for privately owned projects.

Link to related Des Moines Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2014/12/07/editorial-must-forfeit-land-utilities/20012449/

Newspaper should be able to fire editor for expression of religious beliefs

The Des Moines Register reported today (7/24/2014) that, “An Iowa newspaper editor fired after publishing his views on homosexuals is claiming he was the victim of religious discrimination by his former employer.”  He has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Editors of newspapers should not be protected by laws against discrimination in employment based on religious belief.  Newspapers are privately owned businesses that typically express the opinions of their owners.  They benefit our society by their independent advocacy regarding public policy.   They should not be forced by government to employ editors who hold beliefs contrary to their own – especially political or public policy beliefs.  Owners of newspapers should be free to fire editors at will, unless they have entered into an employment contract to the contrary.  For government to force a newspaper to continue to employ an editor is wrong and is bad public policy.

Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2014/07/23/newspaper-editor-fired-gaystapo/13047733/

Hobby Lobby decision correct.

A Supreme Court ruling today (6/30/2014) upheld our fundamental right to use our own private property in accordance with our own moral beliefs.  The ruling gives priority to natural religious and private property rights over the politically created guarantee that private business owners will provide employees with a health insurance benefit that covers certain birth control pills.

The owners of Hobby Lobby objected to the Obama Care legal requirement that they provide their employees with an insurance benefit that covered morning after “abortion” pills.  The law was in direct conflict with their sincerely held, honest and peaceful religious beliefs.  Hobby Lobby has never used force or fraud to get people to either work for or patronize their business.

Governments are the only organizations that can legally use force against peaceful people.  We created our government to use force, if necessary, to protect our fundamental right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.  Government force should not be used to make peaceful people act against their own religious beliefs – no matter how good the cause or the intentions.

By the way, I am a peaceful, honest, pro-choice, atheist, libertarian.

Hobby Lobby is correct.

Contrary to the letter by John Ashman, the owners of Hobby Lobby are not forcing their views on anyone.  (“Are owners of business forcing views on workers?” 2/12/2014)  Only governments have the legal right to use force against peaceful people.    No one is being forced to work for or patronize Hobby Lobby.  Although I disagree completely with their religious beliefs, I do agree that they have the right to use their own private property, including their business which is open to the public, in their own peaceful, honest way.  Similarly, individuals and groups have freedom of speech, assembly and association rights which allow them to organize protests and boycotts against businesses that they think operate unfairly.  Government’s proper role is to protect the lives, liberty and property of peaceful people against those who would use force or fraud to take what they want .  It is not proper to for government to take sides when there are differences of opinions between peaceful and honest people.

Link to Register article:  http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20140213/OPINION04/302130029/1038/opinion04/Letter-editor-owners-business-forcing-views-workers-

Income inequality is not the problem.

Income inequality is not a problem in and of itself.  As long a people earn their income through honest, peaceful and voluntary exchange, then there is no moral reason for our government to redistribute that wealth.  What is a problem is when government places its thumb on the scale and unfairly helps the rich to get richer, or hurts the poor and makes them poorer.  To the extent that a person gains wealth by unequal preferential treatment by government, it is morally correct for government to use its force to take away that wealth.

One good example of the many unfair government policies that wrongly favor the rich is the special low income tax rate on “carried interest” income earned by hedge fund managers.  They call it carried interest, but it is nothing more than a bonus based on performance.   In any other situation, this type of income is taxed at regular income tax rates. Somehow, hedge fund managers have sold politicians on the idea that carried interest is a special kind of income that should be taxed at lower rates.  Another example is the Oil Depletion Allowance for oil companies.  Another is farm subsidies for rich farmers.  We do not need to raise tax rates on ordinary income, we do need to do away with the unfair preferences, tax breaks, and subsidies that go mostly to the wealthy.

A good example of government policy that hurts poor people is that of keeping interest rates low in order to prop up housing prices.  If housing prices had been allowed to fall to their free market levels, housing would be much more affordable for poor people.  Instead, our government tries to fix the problem that it helped to create (unaffordable housing) by giving rent subsidies to the poor – creating more dependency on government, but not fixing the underlying causes of the problem.

To misquote Walter Scott, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to use our government to achieve social goals.”  The solution to many of our economic problems today is to reduce the size and scope of our government.  Many unfair crony capitalist subsidies and tax breaks exist because our government has expanded far beyond its Constitutionally limited powers.  The primary just powers of government are to protect our lives, liberty and property; and to resolve disputes.  The scope and powers of our current federal government are clearly way beyond the limited government that our founding fathers created.  Lets start by closing unfair tax breaks and lowering spending to match.