Boy Scouts made the right decision.

I was glad to read that the Boy Scouts are expanding their good work to include transgender boys.  (See Des Moines Register link below.)  Private club-type of organizations, like the Boy Scouts, do have and should have the right to decide who may or who may not be members.  The fundamental and peaceful right to Freedom of Association should be respected by law.  Any group of people should be able to voluntarily form a club or other organization. whether boy or girl, Christian or Muslim, Republican or Democrat, etc.   I’m sure this was a difficult decision for some in the organization. Many people simply do not know how to react to people who are transgendered.  Everything I’ve known about the Boy Scouts leads me to believe that it is an honorable organization that teaches both practical skills and good moral values and behaviors to boys.  This was the right thing for them to do.

Link to Des Moines Register article:  http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/31/iowa-boy-scout-leader-transgender-boys-welcome-join/97311766/

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Free community college?

President Obama is proposing that we, the taxpayers, pay for two years of community college for everyone who wants it and who meets relatively easy minimum requirements.  The plan would save each student, (and cost taxpayers), about $3,800 per year.  The total cost over 10 years for the estimated 9 million students for two years each would be about $60 billion.

The idea is bad for at least two reasons:

First, philosophically, under what circumstances should the force of government be used to require all taxpayers to pay for the benefit of a relative few?  We are already paying for pre-school, primary, and secondary education for all children.  We pay for health care for all of the poor, plus we subsidize health insurance for many others.  We subsidize housing, energy, and food costs for the poor.  To the extent that these things are provided for children and people who are incapable of providing for themselves, it may be morally defensible to use the force of government to require everyone to contribute.  But to the extent that we are talking about adults who have reasonably normal capability, it is not.  These kinds of policies not only weaken people’s ability to be independently responsible for their own lives, they also reinforce a belief and expectation that more government spending is the appropriate solution to every human problem.

Second, practically, why won’t a large majority of students currently bound for four year colleges want to do their first two years at a community college for free?  The projection of 9 million students might be extremely underestimated.  What happens if enrollment of freshmen and sophomores plummets in both public and private four year universities? How will they handle extreme down-sizing?

This proposal seems like a recipe for disaster.  There will be many more unintended negative consequences if we adopt such a policy.  We shouldn’t.

 

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.

Our government is spying on us.

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.

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.

Liberty and happiness.

Randy Barnett, legal scholar, wrote this in the October issue of Reason magazine:

“… you can’t make your happiness contingent on getting a libertarian society. The struggle for liberty will never end because there are always going to be statists. There are always going to be people who enjoy security over liberty, because that’s another part of the natural instincts that people have. And so the best that we can ever accomplish is keeping liberty alive. And you can keep liberty alive just by being a libertarian yourself, and writing about it, and getting other people to be. Even if the society you live in is not, you can at least keep the idea of liberty alive, possibly liberty itself.”

Here is a link to the entire article: http://reason.com/archives/2012/09/18/we-won-in-our-effort-to-preserve-the-con/2

 

Minimum wage hurts low skill workers the most.

The Guest View , “Fix the minimum wage”, by Elizabeth Rose, published in Cityview on 9/6/2012, was emotionally appealing, but logically misguided. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply raise the minimum wage without any unseen negative effects.

What we see are those people who get and keep jobs at the new higher minimum wage. What we don’t see are those people who just don’t get jobs because they are not economically viable at the new higher wage. Some jobs are lost because customers will simply not pay higher prices, some are lost to automation because the new higher wage makes automation economical, and some are lost to offshore outsourcing. Typically, those with the least skill are the ones who can’t find jobs.

Many of the government laws and regulations regarding employment protect big, established businesses from competition by new, start-up competitors. Established businesses are often the ones who lobby for regulations that increase costs for would-be competitors. This is much the same as unions wanting government to require a high “prevailing wage” on construction contracts – to protect the union’s higher wages. These types of laws and regulations are primarily intended to protect existing vested interests.

As we continue to have downward pressure on wages and benefits because of international competition, it is possible that the cost of living will decline too. If wages dropped 10% but the cost of living dropped 15% what would be wrong with that? At the same time, our government is doing everything it can to increase the cost of housing (housing prices) – and then subsidizing those with low incomes. It would be better for those with low incomes if our government let housing prices fall to their natural level. Many cities don’t allow homeowners to take in borders – which could lower the cost for both the owner and the tenants.

Morally and philosophically, we should not allow our government to use its force to prohibit peaceful and honest people from voluntarily agreeing to employment terms. It would be considered immoral and illegal if you used force or fraud to make someone pay you a higher wage. The same thing done by a majority through government is still immoral. The purpose of government is not to create jobs. The proper role of government is to protect our lives, liberty and property against those who would use force or fraud to take those things from us.

And If you still feel that government and taxpayers must subsidize those who earn low wages, then the Earned Income Tax Credit, which already exists, is much better than an increase in the minimum wage.