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Liberals DO NOT believe in Freedom For All

This past week end, I spent a lot of time outside working on my landscaping.  The long, hard winter of 2014/2015 looks to be over.  And I would just like to say thank you to Global Warming advocates who are still at a loss as to why this planets climate has not lived up to the desert like conditions promised.

I guess global warming equals record cold temperatures and record snow fall.  Well if that is what global warming is, then I will jump on board because I love living in New England and I sure don’t want another Alaska type winter to befall us.  Note the sarcasm.  But I digress.

While working in my yard this past week end, I got to see some of what makes America great.  The freedom of people to be who they want to be.  I saw people walking in shorts and tank tops. Mind you, although it is warm, to me it is far from tank top weather.

I saw folks riding their motorcycles, big ones and small ones.  Some had flags on the back.

Some were the noisy type.  Some were the fast type.  And some were the big, touring grandparent type. I saw folks taking their convertibles out for a week end joy ride probably for the first time this year.  I saw and heard the younger set with all their windows down and music blaring.  Yes, we can hear you a half mile away and you are going to kill your ears by playing music that loud. But at least in most communities, those young people have the freedom to play their music in their car as loud as they want.

And there it is.  The freedom.  I saw people enjoying their freedom.  Nobody telling them they could not walk in a tank top yet.  Nobody passing a law preventing motorcycles from being ridden at this time of year.  No overreaching ordinances telling young people that in order to be legal others cannot hear your music outside of your car at all.

Now this part of the article is for all of my Liberal friends and haters out there.  This is where I point out how hypocritical you are.  Lets take gay rights for example.  Now this is America.  As some would say, ‘Murica.  And this is the land of the free.  Which, you on the left say, means that gays have the right to live as they please.  They have a right to live in peace.  They have a right to love who they please.  They have the right to have a life just like a straight person.  To which many other Americans would agree. But then you turn the tables on everyone else.  You want laws dictating how others act and react around you.  You wish to stifle or take away the freedom and rights of others just to fit your own selfish desires.  You say you want to be free, but you want big government to dictate how we all live and interact with each other.

It would be like telling the person on the fast motorcycle that he is not allowed to go 65 mph on the highway while allowing cars to do that speed.  In other words, you are not asking for freedom.  You are asking for special privileges.  Privileges in which the rest of the population is not able to avail themselves of.  You are asking to separate the people in to classes and groups. Some classes and some groups get more freedom than others.

That kind of thought is straight out of the pages of the novel Animal Farm.  In this novel there is a passage that says, “some animals are more equal than others” which means some animals are not equal at all.

This is the same thought process used to own and keep slaves.  Blacks were not thought of as being equal to whites.  Now gays want to say that straights are not equal to gays.  And thus a straight person has no right to admonish gays in any way.  However, when you ask the question of gays should they be forced to make a T-Shirt for a Muslim that says “gays are infidels and must die” the fast and quick answer is no way.

Well if you have the right to tell a straight person they must make you a t-shirt that says “being gay is fab” then the Muslim has the right to tell the gay person to make him a t-shirt of his choosing. But in order to get around this, gays would say that what the Muslim wants is hate speech.  So you want to create a law that stops hate speech.  Even though, in this country, the Muslim is free to say what he pleases just like you and I.  But you wish to live your life of freedom by taking the rights of others away simply because you don’t like it.

This is not an issue with Muslims.  I need to say it because some of you out there would point out Muslims should not have a right to say what they say.  To which I reply with a query.  Why?  Sure I find a lot of what they say offensive.  But does that give me the right to deny his free speech rights simply because I don’t agree or like his speech? Does this mean that gays should censor straights because they don’t like the fact that some straights don’t agree with homosexuality?  Does it mean that we force the motorcycle to go only 55 instead of 65 because they are not wrapped in a steal cage?

Who decides who gets special rights and who gets their rights denied?  The point is when you deny someone their rights, you are most likely starting down that slippery road process of denying your own rights.  And frankly that makes us all less free.  And less freedom has no place in ‘Murica.

The American Dream Is For Dreamers

Over 230 years ago, a group of men had a dream.  They dreamed of a nation of free people.  A nation that existed solely to allow its citizens to live out their own dreams on their own terms with their own God given talent and grit.

They dreamed of a people free from the fear of government oppression.  A people free from tyranny from within and from without.  They dreamed of a people that could not be stopped from achieving greatness.

They dreamed long and hard.  They dreamed of that nation morning, noon and night.  They shared their dream with others who had the same dream.

They would talk about their dream in back allies, in local pubs, in living rooms, in town halls, in their churches, in the streets.

It was a dream that would not die.  It would not relent.  It would burn itself into their very being.  They woke with a burning desire to fulfill this dream every single day of their lives.  They went to bed every single night hoping God would allow them to wake so they could pursue that dream.

It was a dream that was real in their eyes, in their minds and in their hearts.  It was a dream that would lead them to war.  It was a dream that they knew would not become reality easily.  It was an elusive dream but it was an achievable dream.

So these men, these dreamers set out to fulfill their dream.  They fought, they bled and some even died before they could realize that dream for themselves.  But it was not a selfish dream.  It was a dream they believed would become reality even if they would not live to see it.

They dreamed for their children.  They dreamed for their grand-children.  They dreamed for their posterity.  They believed in the dream so much that they would willingly lay down their life if in doing so it would bring that dream to fruition.

It was a truly selfless dream.  A dream to be free.

That dream is still alive today.  That dream that those men fought and even died for became a reality.  That dream became the United States of America.

That same dream is still alive today.  Although it may seem that fewer than ever share that dream.  That thought would be wrong.

Today we are still a bunch of dreamers.  But we are now a strong nation of many dreamers.  More dreamers than those who first had the dream.

Today we dream the same as they dreamed centuries ago.  We dream about freedom.  We dream about pursuing our own happiness.  We dream of little of not government interference.  We dream not only for ourselves but for our children, our grand-children.  We dream for our posterity.

Today, the United States of America still attracts dreamers from all over the world.  They come here in boats, in planes, in cars, even by foot.  The people of the world have had the same dream and they heard the call.  They heard the dreamers call.  They heard the dreamers call from America.  They come to answer the call.

They sometimes risk their very lives to make that dream come true.  They do not dream only for themselves, but for their family, their children, their grand-children and their posterity.

This is a nation of dreamers.  All that we have accomplished that history will consider to be great came at first as a dream.

The great industrialists of the 19th  century dreamed of a nation that was fully modern and full of promise.  The great minds of the 20th century dreamed of fast cars and landing on the moon.

The great minds of the 21st century dream of an intelligent world full of smart devices that help man dream even bigger.

Yes, we are a nation that still dreams.  Yet in no ones dreams is their room or a place for an oppressive government.  There is no dream about sliding backwards.  There is no dream about having someone else take care of us.

Indeed, that would be a nightmare.

Instead we dream of being free to pursue our own dreams.  And we dream of even better days for our children, our grand-children and even our posterity.

That is the American way.  That is the American Dream.  That is the dream we are still willing to lay down our lives for so that others may keep that dream.

That is the American dream.  And that dream is not dead.  It is very much alive.  It is still very vibrant.  And that is what drives others from around the world to risk everything they have to come here.

Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream.  It was a dream of freedom for all.  That has always been the true American dream.

And that is my dream.

Is it yours, too?

Is Liberty Now A Thing Of The Past?

Many say that America is now the land of the free and home of the brave in concept only. It is getting more difficult to argue with that assessment. When Indiana governor, Mike Pence initially signed into law a religious liberty bill I was pleased and thought highly of the Hoosier State leader.  Unfortunately, after a hot air blow back from the usual progressive suspects, a proposal to amend changes to the bill was brought forth by the governor. So basically, certain individuals and anti- Christian groups don’t approve of Christians exercising their religious beliefs in the operation of their businesses. Even NASCAR went to nutsville, making some idiotic proclamation about welcoming homosexuals to their events. NASCAR’S little statement was nothing more than phony grand-standing event to make brownie points with anti-Christians zealots.

No-one advocates not allowing homosexuals to be prevented from being treated with the same respect due anyone else. By the way, for you anything goes promoters, the personal life choice of an individual or group does not supersede the right of another to operate according to his or her religious beliefs.  It is about time that homosexuals and their progressive supporters grow up and stop trying to bully people who don’t think and believe as they do.  I know that many homosexuals, just like liberals, progressives, dedicated Muslims, etc. are not stupid.  So let’s cut to the chase.  You people and groups want to fundamentally change America into a land void of the Christian values she was founded upon, including virtue and traditional family values. It is you liberals, homosexuals, dedicated Muslims and progressives who truly discriminate against sovereign individuals who don’t believe, act or think like you do.

If a homosexual, transvestite, or lesbian wants to walk into any bakery in America, they can purchase a cake. But Christians who actually believe the word of God concerning unnatural lifestyles may not want to sale a cake for that purpose.  It is not about discrimination against anyone. What is going on is homo-intimidation of those who believe in and operate according to a different lifestyle standard.

The Bible states that certain things are an abomination to God, including men laying with men in a sexual manner, also adultery and fornication. The last time I checked (and I really did check) American Christians are being forced to celebrate unnatural sexual activities. But a funny thing occurred to me. Adulterers are not filing into bakeries and demanding adultery cakes, or fornication cakes for fornicators. There are a great number of non-Christian specialty bakeries willing to oblige, just not a Christian bakery.

Besides, if I were not a Christian and homosexual who wanted to purchase a cake that reflects something totally non-Christian, I would try to force a Christian bakery to take my business. To try and bully others just to force them to serve your cause is not justice, nor is it morally correct. The so-called tolerance of the unnatural sexual practitioners always harp about is a crock of you know what.

It was a shame that governor Pence folded under pressure from people who do not believe in religious liberty. The left is hoping that those they oppose will give up their beliefs and cow-tow to their outrageous demands. Such actions exhibited by governor Pence is indicative of part of the reason why our republic turned mob rule democracy is in mortal danger of collapsing from within. If we are not willing to stand for what we believe or know to be right, our nation will end up falling for anything and suffer the consequences.

“We the People” can no longer afford to give in or give out because it may be a bit of uncomfortable persecution from the bigoted progressives. The more of our unalienable rights we allow to be trampled upon just to get along to go along, the more difficult it will be to simply live in the United States. The progressives, liberals and unnatural sexual practitioners will never stop complaining about others who don’t walk in lockstep with them.  For example the legions of homosexual supporters and other leftists who threatened the lives of pizzeria owners in Walktertown, Indiana because they are Christians who would not cater a homosexual wedding.  I thank God for the even greater numbers of Americans, both gay and straight, who showed with monetary support and words of encouragement for the pizzeria owners who only expressed their faith.

My fellow Americans, let’s remember the worthy words of the Revolutionary War her Thomas Paine. “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.”

Wake up America and avoid certain doom, let us together resume our nation’s destiny of greatness.

God Bless America and May America Bless God.

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Am I a Hypocrite?

Avoiding hypocrisy in an unfree world by SANDY IKEDA.

What do you think of someone who espouses the principle of nonaggression but lives off the fruits of aggression? How moral is it to oppose political power while benefiting from political power? Is it contradictory to write, lecture, and actively protest government intervention while at the same time making an income from the taxes other people pay?

I’ve spent my entire academic career on the faculty of one state-funded university or another, a major part of whose revenue has come from taxation. I understand the virtue of unhampered markets and I’ve asked myself these questions many times.

I was a student of the Austrian economist Hans Sennholz, who used to tell me with pride that none of his income came from government redistribution. (He taught at an institution, Grove City College, famous for refusing all government money.) So I’m sure he would have qualms with the way I’ve made my living, and it has troubled me. A reader recently wrote me a heartfelt letter expressing the same deep, personal concern, putting the issue starkly: “Am I being a hypocrite?”

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines “hypocrisy” as “simulation of virtue or goodness; dissimulation, pretense; acting of a part.” Is it hypocrisy then to argue against legal privilege while at the same time living off legal privilege?

A simple case

For simplicity, let’s take an extreme case. Say that I lived in a system in which the majority of people were slaves (that is, forced to serve under the threat of aggression) to a privileged minority. If I were a member of the slave majority, would I be a hypocrite to challenge the status quo and publicly argue for change, even though my livelihood comes off the backs of other slaves? I don’t think so. Nor do I think I would be a hypocrite were I to do this as a member of the privileged class. Evidently, there were abolitionists in the American South who manumitted their slaves before the Civil War.

Our situation in the United States today is less extreme, but it’s similar enough to reach the same conclusion: benefiting from the forced transfer of others’ wealth does not in itself cast a moral pall over our opposition to redistribution. (A separate but related point is that arguments are valid or not independent of the person who voices them. While we might suspect, say, a person’s motives we should still subject her arguments to reason and evidence rather than dismissing them or saying: “Consider the source!”)

What my friends say

I’m proud to count some of the smartest and most respected libertarians among my friends. I posed the question of whether a libertarian like me who works for a tax-funded university is a hypocrite. Here I paraphrase their responses, which I believe apply to most people who work for the government (subject to the qualifications mentioned, below) and certainly to those of us who use the physical and legal infrastructures provided by the state — for example, roads, parks, courts, and property protection.

One colleague wasn’t convinced that it makes you a hypocrite to benefit from a corrupt system, especially if you are committed to opposing what you believe is wrong about that system in whatever capacity you can, so long as you don’t participate in actions that make the problem worse. For instance, the decision to take a job at a state school does not affect whether that job or the state school system exists. It was hard for this colleague to see how taking that job makes things worse — especially if you use the position to teach students why you have reservations about it. She pointed out that holding such a job is very different from lobbying for more state schools or opposing competing options or cost-saving measures.

Another colleague argued that if a government-provided service is morally legitimate and would likely be provided if there were no government — the fire department, for example, as well as schools — then it’s not hypocritical to benefit from it. What’s bad about government-provided services, he said, is their coercively enforced monopolism, not the activities per se.

Drawing the line

So at what point does one become a hypocrite? Arguing against legal privilege in public while scheming in private to get it would be hypocritical, but more generally, libertarian hypocrisy lies simply in acting in such a way as to promote more rather than less government intervention on net.

Here are more responses.

One friend draws the line at advocating policies that would benefit him in a way contrary to his limited-government principles. For example, he would be a hypocrite were he to advocate privatizing other industries but leaving higher education in the public sector. He believes you’re perfectly well entitled to seek employment in a system that you’re forced to support through taxation. Likewise for riding Amtrak, visiting subsidized museums, and so on.

In addition, he marvels at people who say that if you benefit from government-provided goods, you have no right to criticize them. His counterexample is the case where all medical services are public and private medical practice is outlawed. He asks whether anyone would actually believe that a critic of such a system has no right to see a doctor. If so, then every coercive act by government that excludes private providers also chokes off dissent.

But not so fast!

The problem for me with these thoughtful responses is that in real life it’s hard to tell whether the way you earn a living would have been provided voluntarily in the absence of government intervention.

I agree that if we knew that the free market would have created, say, one million jobs in higher education and I held one of those positions under public education, then probably I’m not a hypocrite. But what if taxpayers fund one million and one jobs and I’m hired for that additional job? Or if taxpayers fund 10 million jobs — nine million more than a free society would have provided — and I hold one of those?

I also think there are some professions that are highly problematic from a libertarian perspective. That is, depending on what you see as the proper role of government, or on whether you believe government has any role whatsoever in a free society, some jobs may not even exist.

I’m pretty sure that there would be charitable organizations in a free society, but does that make it okay to hold a job administering Temporary Assistance to Needy Families? I’m also pretty sure that even in a society without government (that is, without a monopoly over the initiation of aggression), there would still be a need for effective governance, but does that mean that a politician, even a libertarian-leaning one, is morally neutral? If you believe government should provide national defense, does that mean anyone working for a voluntary army, an American soldier in Afghanistan perhaps, could also be a nonhypocritical libertarian? How about an engineer designing weapons or a contractor who bids to produce them?

I do think there’s a line somewhere, at least a fuzzy one, separating the ways a card-carrying libertarian can and can’t earn a living without being a hypocrite, and that in some cases it’s clear which side you are on. But I’m also troubled that as government grows, that line gets harder and harder to see.

Note: Murray Rothbard’s “Living in a State-Run World” and Ayn Rand’s “Government Grants and Scholarships” also address this topic. While I don’t necessarily endorse their treatments, there is some overlap with what I say, and those seeking answers to the questions I pose here may find them helpful.

Read a Portuguese version of this article here.

ABOUT SANDY IKEDA

Sandy Ikeda is a professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism.

Economic Equality and Social Injustice (Video)

Mandating equal outcomes leads to unfair treatment by LEVAN GVALIA …

From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently….

We do not object to equality as such…. Our objection is against all attempts to impress upon society a deliberately chosen pattern of distribution, whether it be an order of equality or of inequality.

– FA Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty

ABOUT LEVAN GVALIA

Levan Gvalia is a financial manager and animation enthusiast from Georgia.

Freedom OF Religion, Not Freedom FROM Religion

The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution do not abandon religion, they embrace it. They do not, however, require that Americans believe in God, nor punish them for failing to do so.

Central to the liberties enshrined in these documents is the belief that they come from a higher power and America exists because of that belief. Without it there would have been no America. There are those among us who insist that, as a nation, we abandon faith in God and, if we do, America will cease to be a power for good in the world.

First-Amendment-Religious-Freedom-610x400When Thomas Jefferson presented the Declaration to those who would pledge their lives and their sacred honor to achieve independence from England John Adams asked that it include the words “They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” after the phrase “all men are created equal” and Benjamin Franklin agreed, suggesting that “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” be added as well.” In their 2004 book, “Under God” by Toby Mac and Michael Tait, said “The changes demonstrated Congress’s strong reliance upon God—as delegates added the words “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions.”

Aware of the dangers inherent in a state religion, the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” followed by freedom of speech, the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance.” There is no state religion in America, but reflecting the values that created it, its leaders have always acknowledged a greater power than government, the belief in God.

There would be no America if the Pilgrims who established Plymouth, Massachusetts had not left England in the quest for their right to worship as they wished, reflecting the Protestant Reformation. Another early settlement, Jamestown, was a business venture by investors to obtain wealth. Jamestown failed and Plymouth is with us today.

I am not a religious person per se, but I do believe in God. Always have and always will. I don’t insist that anyone else has to and neither do our founding documents. They do, however, acknowledge God and sought His protection to create a new nation; a republic with clearly stated protections for all its citizens.

There are, however, those who insist that any reference to God be removed from public documents and recognition. The leader among them is the Freedom From Religion Foundation and their most recent lawsuit is against the U.S. Treasury Department claiming they are discriminating against non-believers by including the phrase “In God We Trust” on the nation’s currency. Their claim is that the government is prohibited from endorsing religion over non-religion.

“In God We Trust” on U.S. coins was first approved by Congress during the Civil War in 1864. In 1956, Congress passed a resolution to recognize the words officially as the national motto, replacing the de facto phrase, “E Pluribus Unum” and it has appeared on U.S. currency since 1957.

The Foundation’s intention is to make any acknowledgement of God illegal by any public institution. If that is true, then we might was well tear up the Declaration and Constitution. Atheists are not content to not believe in God, they insist that everyone else not believe as well. That is a form of tyranny we must not permit to exist in America.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation specializes in lawsuits to advance what it calls the separation of church and state, but this principle is enshrined in the Constitution along with the right to freely exercise one’s faith. Its lawsuits are designed to destroy religion in America. In 2012 the Foundation had total contributions of $2,726,316. Nearly 90% was devoted to its attack on the freedom of religion.

In 2013, the Huffington Post reported that in the past six years the Foundation’s paid membership had increased 130 percent. It was estimated at “nearly 20,000” members. Its co-president, Laurie Gaylor, said that recent high-profile legal victories had increased the foundation’s popularity.

There is still strong support in Congress for the freedom of religion. In 1993 it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act aimed at preventing laws that substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion. It was signed into law by President Clinton. In 1997 the Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional if applied to states, ruling that it was not a proper exercise of Congress’s enforcement power. It does, however, still apply to the federal government. In response, some states passed their own religious freedom restoration acts.

The Act was recently cited by the Supreme Court that ruled that closely held companies may be exempted from a government requirement to include contraceptives in employee health insurance coverage if it contravenes their belief in the sanctity of life.

There are millions more Americans who belong to various religious faiths and who believe that America must protect their right to exercise their faith. A relatively small Freedom From Religion Foundation will continue to use the courts to impose their atheistic views on any public institution. They must be resisted if America is to remain a citadel to the world as a place where people of faith can live together and exercise the tolerance that the atheists will not.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

For the Love of Money? by Gary M. Galles

Money at the margin, not everything for money.

It’s not unusual to hear market systems criticized for relying too much on money, as if this comes at the expense of the altruistic relationships that would otherwise prevail. Ever heard the phrase “only in it for the money”? It’s as if self-interest has a stink that can corrupt transactions that generate benefits for others, turning them into offenses. So this line of thinking suggests reliance on market systems based in self-ownership would be tantamount to creating a world where people only do things for money, and lose the ability to relate to one another on any other terms.

People Don’t Do Everything for Money

One need not go far to see the falsity of the claim that everything is done for money in market systems. My situation is but one example: I have a Ph.D. in economics from a top graduate program. It is true that, as a result, I have an above-average income. But I did not do it all for the money. One of my major fields was finance, but if all I cared about was money—as my wife reminds me when budgets are particularly tight—I would have gone into finance rather than academia and made far more. But I like university students. I think what I teach is important, and I value the ability to pass on whatever wisdom I have to offer. I like the freedom and time to pursue avenues of research I find interesting. I enjoy the ability to tell and write the truth as I see it (particularly since I see things differently from most) and I prefer a “steady job” to one with far more variability.

Every one of those things I value has cost me money. Yet I chose to be a professor (and would do it again). While it’s true that the need to support my family means that I must acquire sufficient resources, many things beyond just money go into choosing what I do for a living. And the same is true for everyone.

Ask any acquaintances of yours who they know that only does things for money. What would they say? They would certainly deny it about themselves. While they might apply this characterization to people they don’t know, beyond Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge and his comic book namesake, Scrooge McDuck, they would be unable to provide a single convincing example. If market critics performed that same experiment, they would recognize that they are condemning a mirage, not market arrangements.

Confusing Ends and Means

Beyond the fact that all of us forego some money we could earn for other things we value, the fact that every one of us gives up money we have earned for a vast multitude of goods, services, and causes also reveals that individuals don’t just do things for the money. Each of us willingly gives up money up to further many different purposes we care about. Money is not the ultimate end sought, but a means to a vast variety of possible ends. Mistakenly treating money as the end for which “people do everything” is fundamentally flawed—both for critics of the market and for the participants in it.

To do things for money is nothing more than to advance what we care about. In markets, we do for others as an indirect way of doing for ourselves. This logic even applies to Scrooge. His nephew Fred’s assertion that he doesn’t do any good with his wealth is false; he lends to willing borrowers at terms they find worth meeting, expanding the capital stock and the options of others.

That an end of our efforts is to benefit ourselves, in and of itself, merits neither calumny nor congratulations. Money’s role is that of an amoral servant that can help us advance whatever ends we ultimately pursue, while private property rights restrict that pursuit to purely voluntary arrangements. Moral criticism cannot attach to the universal desire to be able to better pursue our ends or to the requirement that we refrain from violating others’ rights, only to the ends we pursue.

To do things for money in order to achieve world domination could justify moral condemnation. But the problem is that your intended end will harm others, not the fact that you did some things for money, benefitting those you dealt with in that way, to do so. Using money to build a leprosarium, as Mother Teresa did with her Nobel Prize award, does not justify moral condemnation. Similarly, using money to support your family, to live up to agreements you made with others, and to try not to burden others is being responsible, not reprehensible. Further, there is nothing about voluntary arrangements that worsens the ends individuals choose. But by definition, they place limits on ends that require harming others to achieve them.

It is true that money represents purchasing power that can be directed to ends others object to. Money is nothing more than a particularly powerful tool, and all tools can be used to cause harm. Just as we shouldn’t have to forego the benefits of hammers because somebody could cause harm with one, there’s no reason to think society would be better off without money or the market arrangements it makes possible just because some people can use those things for harmful ends. And if the ends aren’t actually causing harm, then the objections over them come down to nothing more than disagreements about inherently subjective valuations. Enabling a small class of people to decide which of these can be pursued and which can’t makes everyone worse off.

Those who criticize people for doing everything for money also do a great deal for money themselves. How many campaigns have religious groups and nonprofit organizations run to get more money? How much of government action is focused on getting more money? Why do the individuals involved not apply the same criticism to themselves? Because they say they will “do good” with it. But every individual doing things for money also intends to do good, as he or she sees it, with that money. And if we accept that people are owners of themselves, there is no obvious reason why another’s claims about what is “good” should trump any “good” that you hold dear, or provide for another in service through exchange.

Criticizing a Straw Man

Given that the charge that “people do everything for money” in market systems is both factually wrong and logically lame, why do some keep repeating it? It creates a straw man easier to argue against than reality, by misrepresenting alternatives at both the individual and societal level.

At the individual level, this assertion arises when people disagree about how to spend “public” resources (when we respect private property, this dispute disappears, because the owner has the right to do as he or she chooses with it, but cannot force others to go along with or allow it; “public” resources are obtained by force). The people who wish to spend other people’s confiscated resources in ways the original owners disagree with claim a laundry list of caring benefits their choice would provide, but foreclose similar consideration of the harms that would be caused to those they claim care only about money. That, in turn, is used to imply that the purportedly selfish person’s claims are unworthy of serious attention. (Something similar happens when politicians count “multiplier effects” where government money is spent, but ignore the symmetrical negative “multiplier effects” radiating from where the resources are taken.)

This general line draws support from a misquotation of the Bible. While more than one recent translation of 1 Tim 6:10 renders it “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evils,” the far less accurate King James Version rendered it, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” When one simply omits or forgets the first three words, it becomes something very different—“money is the root of all evil.” Portray those who disagree with your “caring” ends as simply loving money more than other people, and they lose every argument by default. Naturally, it’s a seductive strategy.

At the societal level, criticizing market systems as tainted by the love of money implies that an alternate system would escape that taint and therefore be morally preferable. By focusing attention only on an imaginary failing of market systems that would be avoided, it allows the implication of superiority to be made without having to demonstrate it. This is a version of the Nirvana fallacy.

By blaming monetary relationships for people’s failings, “reformers” imply that taking away markets’ monetary nexus will somehow make people better. But no system makes people angels; all systems must confront human flaws and failings. That means a far different question must be addressed: How well will a given system do with real, imperfect, mostly self-interested people? And it shouldn’t be necessary, but most political rhetoric makes a second question nearly as important: Does the given system assume that people are not imperfect and self-interested when they have power?

Given that the utopian alternatives offered always involve some sort of socialism or other form of tyranny, an affirmative case for them cannot be made. Only by holding the imaginary “sins” of market systems to impossible standards, while holding alternatives to no real standards except the imagination of self-proclaimed reformers, can that fact be dodged. But there’s nothing in history or theory that demonstrates that overwriting markets with expanded coercion makes people more likely to do things for others. As Anatole France noted, “Those who have given themselves the most concern about the happiness of peoples have made their neighbors very miserable.” And as economist Paul Heyne wrote, “Market systems do not produce heaven on earth. But attempts by governments to repress market systems have produced . . . something very close to hell on earth.”

Money at the Margin

Money is not everything. But changes in the amounts of money to be earned or foregone as a result of decisions change our incentives at the many margins of choice we face, and so change our behavior. Such changes—money at the margin—are the primary means of adjusting our behavior in the direction of social coordination in a market system.

Changes in monetary incentives are how we adapt to changing circumstances, because whatever their ultimate ends, everyone cares about commanding more resources for those purposes they care about. It is how we rebalance arrangements when people’s plans get out of synch, which is inevitable in our complex, dynamic world. In such cases, changing money prices allow each individual to provide added incentives to all who might offer him assistance in achieving his ends, even if he doesn’t know them, doesn’t know how they would do so, and doesn’t think about their wellbeing (in fact, it applies even if he dislikes those he deals with, as long as the benefits of the arrangements exceed his perceived personal cost of doing so).

For instance, consider a retail gas station faced with lengthy lines of cars. That reflects a failure of social cooperation between the buyers and the seller. Those in line are revealing by their actions that they are willing to bear extra costs beyond the current price to get gas, but their costs of waiting do not provide benefits to the gas station owner. So the owner will convert those costs of waiting in line, which are going to waste, into higher prices (unless prevented by government price ceilings or antigouging directives) that benefit him. That use of money at the margin benefits both buyers and sellers and results in increased amounts of gasoline supplied to buyers.

Further, people can change their behavior in response to price changes in far more ways than “outsiders,” unfamiliar with all the local circumstances, realize. This makes prices, in turn, far more powerful than anyone recognizes.

Consider water prices. If water prices rose, your first thought might well be that you had no choice but to pay them. You might very well not know how many different responses people have already had to spikes (ranging from putting different plants in front yards to building sophisticated desalinization plants). Similarly, when airline fuel prices rose sharply, few recognized in advance the number of changes that airlines could make in response: using more fuel-efficient planes, changing route structures, reducing carry-on allowances, lightening seats, removing paint, and more.

If people recognized how powerful altered market prices are in inducing appropriate changes in behavior, demonstrated by a vast range of examples, they would recognize that the cost of abandoning money at the margin, which enables these responses by offering appropriate incentives to everyone who could be of assistance in addressing the problem faced, would enormously exceed any benefit.

Massive Improvements in Social Cooperation

If we could just presume that individuals know everyone and all the things they care about and the entirety of their circumstances, we could imagine a society more focused on doing things directly for others. But in any extensive society, there is no way people could acquire that much information about the large number of people involved. Instead, this would extend the impossible information problem that Hayek’s “The Use of Knowledge in Society” laid out in regard to central planners. You can care all you want, but that won’t give you the information you need. Beyond that insuperable problem, we would also have to assume that people cared far more about strangers than human history has evidenced.

Those information and other-interestedness requirements would necessarily dictate a very small society. But the costs of those limitations, if people recognized them, would be greater than virtually anyone would be willing to bear.

Without a broad society, the gains from cross-pollination of ideas and different ways of doing things would be hamstrung. The gains from comparative advantage (areas and groups focusing on what they do best, and trading with others doing the same thing) would similarly be sharply curtailed. A very small society would eliminate the incentive for large-scale specialization (requiring more extensive markets) and division of labor that makes our standard of living possible. Virtually every product that involves a large number of separate arrangements—such as producing cars or the gasoline to power them—would disappear, because the arrangements would be overwhelmed by the costs of making them without money as the balance-tipper. As Paul Heyne once put it,

The impersonal transactions that constitute the market system . . . have, over the course of a few centuries, enormously expanded our ability to provide [for] one another . . . while at the same time vastly extending our freedom both by offering us a multitude of options and by freeing us from arbitrary restrictions on our choice of life goals and on the means to further those goals. To reject impersonal transactions as unethical amounts to rejecting the foundation of modern life.

Conclusion

A pastiche of false premises leads many to reject out of hand what Hayek recognized as the “marvel” of market systems, which, if they had arisen from deliberate human design, “would have been acclaimed as one of the greatest triumphs of the human mind.” This is great for those who seek power over others—they have an endless supply of bogeymen to promise to fight.

But it’s a disaster for social coordination. The record of disasters inflicted on society demonstrates what follows when voluntary arrangements are replaced by someone else’s purportedly superior vision.

But it’s often forgotten. We must continue to make the case.

ABOUT GARY M. GALLES

Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Victory for Ukrainian Revolution

Ukrainian revolution has won today and it’s very emotional for me, since that is where I was born and raised. eighty-two protesters are dead, the president is running, government thieves are being hunted down and brought to justice, communist party headquarters ransacked, and all remaining statues of Lenin and other communist leaders torn down all over Ukraine.

I spent all day watching live feed from the victory rally on Independence Square, or Maidan (pronounced as My-DONE) in Kiev, wishing I were there. In fact, this is the first time in almost 20 years that I’ve been in the US that I wanted to be back in Ukraine and celebrate. So many memories, so much to say. So excuse me if I don’t write more now. Perhaps, later.

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EDITORS NOTE: We stand with the Ukrainian people and salute their victory over a tyrannical socialist regime. Our prayers are with them as they rebuild their great nation into a center of prosperity, beauty and freedom.

Rejoice! You have been liberated by the Red Army!

Last week Samantha Power, who once discussed invading Israel and now serves as Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations, decided to use the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army to link it to the Syrian Civil War“In 1945, Russian soldiers liberated Auschwitz. Sixty-nine year later, if the United Nations is to live up to the noble purposes for which it was founded, the world again needs Russia to use its influence.”

The theme of being liberated by communist forces is apparently also haunting The New York Times writers“The Congressional Budget Office estimated on Tuesday that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.5 million over the next decade. That is mostly a good thing, a liberating result of the law.”

Rejoice, comrades! The Red Army has finally come to liberate you from the shackles of capitalist employment! The ACA, erroneously known as Obamacare, but recognized by the Party as the Affordable Communism Act, is only a tool – a weapon, if you will – a fiery sword in the mighty hands of the Red Army warrior.

But, as we all know, the Red Army doesn’t liberate one thing like your employment and then just goes away! There’s a lot more to liberate here, comrades – your wealth, schools, religion, sexuality, firearms, and even your sanity!

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This post has been made possible through joined efforts by DDR Kamerad and Red Square.

MORE READING:

Commissar Reid: Millions Freed From Chains of Full Time Work

President to Make Congress More Free

Health Law To Empower Workers To Work Less

Rescued from the Living Hell of Employment Slavery!

Firearms Freedom Act coming to Florida?

The SWFL Citizens Alliance has been working to get Florida to be one of the next states to pass a Second Amendment Protection and Firearms Freedom Act. This is happening while Democrats are trying to repeal Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

A Firearms Freedom Act passed in Kansas this year. Proponents see it is a strong statement of “State Sovereignty” based on both the Commerce Clause and the 2nd, 9th and 10th Amendments of the US Constitution.

Map of states that have passed, introduced or are considering a Firearms Freedom Act. For a larger view click on the map.

In an email the SWFL Citizens Alliance states, “We have met with and have the support of 7 of our 8 FL House and Senate delegation from Southwest Florida. Rep Matt Hudson submitted the Kansas bill to Florida House Bill writing team and we have a Florida Draft of the bill – see attachedRep. Dane Eagle volunteered to sponsor this bill and our SWFL delegation strongly supports him to sponsor the House version of this bill.”

“We have had lengthy conference calls with the Kansas Sponsor of their bill, Rep. John Rubin and the NRA Affiliate, Patricia Stoneking, who was co-author of their KS Bill,” notes the Alliance.

The Alliance had a booth at the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) Summer Conference. Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk introduced the Florida draft legislation during the conference. The sheriffs agreed by consensus to ask their Legislative Committee to consider including this in their 2014 Legislative Agenda. The FSA Legislative Committee meets on August 30th.

The Alliance is seeking a Senate sponsor, with “several Senators contacted who are reviewing the draft legislation”.

September 23, 2013 is the first Florida Committee week in Tallahassee. The Alliance hopes to get teams from 8-10 counties to meet with various Committee heads to insure the Second Amendment Protection and Firearms Freedom Act is a priority for both House and Senate in the 2014 cycle.

Read the SWFL Citizens Alliance mission and vision statement here.