It’s a little break from blogging the relentless assault on Second Amendment rights. It’s worth noting the same people who hate the free market are typically the same ones who hate firearms rights, or any citizen freedoms.
It’s a little break from blogging the relentless assault on Second Amendment rights. It’s worth noting the same people who hate the free market are typically the same ones who hate firearms rights, or any citizen freedoms.
German police officers fired a total of 85 bullets in 2011, 49 of which were warning shots, the German publication Der Spiegel reported. Officers fired 36 times at people, killing six and injuring 15. This is a slight decline from 2010, when seven people were killed and 17 injured. Ninety-six shots were fired in 2010.
Meanwhile, in the United States, The Atlantic reported that in April, 84 shots were fired at one murder suspect in Harlem, and another 90 at an unarmed man in Los Angeles.
I love these kinds of stories because they’re so simple in what they’re trying to imply, yet how quickly they fall apart as a narrative. The clear objective of them is to show how wonderfully marvelous Europe, European government control, and enlightened Europe is, and how backwards and gun-oriented we are in the US.
People are free to make bad decisions in the US. And once deadly force is used it’s deadly force, whether it’s one round fired or one hundred.
“Our police officers are no thugs in uniform,” Lorenz Caffier, interior minister of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, said at a press conference Tuesday.
“It is gratifying that the use of firearms by police officers against people is declining,” Caffier added.
It’s gratifying only if there is a lack of crime that necessitates fewer violent encounters. Otherwise the police could be running away or ignoring crime, especially in Gastarbeiter neighborhoods.
There’s a joke about the difference between heaven and hell. They’re the same, except different nationalities have different professions. In heaven, the English are the cops, the Germans are the engineers, the Italians are the cooks, the French are the lovers, and the Swiss run everything. In hell, the Germans are the cops, the English are the cooks, the Italians are the engineers, the Swiss are the lovers, and the French run everything.
Thing is, there’s little comparison in those statistics. The German police deal with a mostly homogenous, aging society that for the most part doesn’t have that much crime. There’s also the argument that they lost a lot of alpha males and their genes in WWI and then WWII, so they don’t even have the risk-taking types who end up skirting the line and becoming criminals anyway. The US has a naturally more volatile society, but we have a more free society. We have multiple ethnic groups (and as posted recently, we even have illegal criminal invaders), we have a vast, free country that leaves people to their own ends to a greater degree than Germany.
Ultimately, a few criminals and the regrettable, tragic losses of life that come from conflicts with the law that aren’t resolved well are a small price to pay. See, there’s a reason the “Germans are the cops” line applies to hell.
F.A. Hayek dedicated entire chapters in The Road To Serfdom explaining why the worst get on top in a socialist system (slightly less so in other systems) – because ultimately, such a system is totalitarian, and desires control. A system which makes for a pacified society ultimately leads to the violence at the hands of government authorities and police as per in Germany’s not-too-distant past. Otto von Bismarck’s socialist state that began offering government benefits set the stage for a government with more and more and more control.
Ultimately, many of the instruments of government control were already in place by the time things got far worse.
American law enforcement, where some 150+ officers were killed in 2011, and a greater number of criminals were killed, even when spread out over 300 million people, looks like a large number. Assuming that American cops kill ten times the number of officers killed, we could guess there are some 1500 people killed by law enforcement each year (a few internet searches couldn’t pull up a real number, so I’m just making that up based on a 10:1 ratio).
Just because I’m making numbers up, let’s assume it’s more like 5,000 per year. Totally made up number. It will still take 1200 years of 5,000 per year to equal Germany just from their famous years, and that’s with Germany’s lowest estimate. More than likely it’d take some 2400 years, and that’s not including East Germany’s actions for 40 years, the actions of the Kaiser or Bismarck before a decidedly anti-freedom Austrian made Germany’s police famous.
Mark Steyn writes about Obama’s budget fairytale and the “Buffet Rule”:
If the alleged Sage of Omaha is as exercised about this as his public effusions would suggest, I’d be in favor of repealing the prohibition on Bills of Attainder, and the old boy could sleep easy at night. But instead every other American “millionaire” will be subject to the new rule — because, as President Obama said this week, it “will help us close our deficit.”
Wow! Who knew it was that easy?
A-hem. According to the Congressional Budget Office (the same nonpartisan bean-counters who project that on Obama’s current spending proposals the entire U.S. economy will cease to exist in 2027) Obama’s Buffett Rule will raise — stand well back — $3.2 billion per year. Or what the United States government currently borrows every 17 hours. So in 514 years it will have raised enough additional revenue to pay off the 2011 federal budget deficit. If you want to mark it on your calendar, 514 years is the year 2526. There’s a sporting chance Joe Biden will have retired from public life by then, but other than that I’m not making any bets.
Let’s go back to that presidential sound bite:
“It will help us close our deficit.”
I’m beginning to suspect that the Oval Office teleprompter may be malfunctioning, or that perhaps that NBC News producer who “accidentally” edited George Zimmerman into sounding like a racist has now edited the smartest president of all time into sounding like an idiot. Either way, it appears the last seven words fell off the end of the sentence. What the president meant to say was:
“It will help us close our deficit . . . for 2011 . . . within a mere half millennium!”
It’s those fancy budget tricks again. It’s forecasting savings on things not spent and on income that won’t materialize when businesses move elsewhere.
Well, who cares about corporations? Only out of touch dilettante playboys like Mitt Romney who — hmm, let’s see what I can produce from the bottom of the top hat — put his dog on the roof of his car as recently as 1984! That’s where your gran’ma will be under the Republicans’ plan, while your contraceptiveless teenage daughter is giving birth on the hood. “Corporations are people, my friend,” said Mitt, in what’s generally regarded as a damaging sound bite by all the smart people who think Obama’s plan to use the Buffett Rule to “close the deficit” this side of the fourth millennium is a stroke of genius.
But Mitt’s not wrong. In the end, a corporation doesn’t pay tax. The marble atrium of Global MegaCorp’s corporate HQ is indifferent to the tax rate; the Articles of Incorporation in the bottom drawer of the chairman’s desk couldn’t care less. Every dollar of “corporate” tax has to be fished out the pocket of a real flesh-and-blood human being, whether shareholder, employee, or customer.
That’s a “tax on the manufacture” of the vehicle. It’s a business tax.
But you see that? That’s the window sticker. That tax is passed onto the consumer.
Taxing individuals who make $250,000 as robber baron slaveowner millionaires is just going to mean those small business owners and businessmen will simply increase the costs of their goods and services. If the Fantasy Maid Service of Lubbock ends up having to pay a millionaire bill of attainder tax, then they’ll simply pass it on to their customers. Ultimately, the increased prices hurt the business and crush them because they can’t expand if they can’t sell their goods and services to more people.
It’s a cheap cry for votes. It’s pushing class warfare, with useful (though incredibly wealthy) idiots like Buffet supporting it. While he may be wise in the ways of businesses he understands – note that he doesn’t invest in things he doesn’t understand – he’s unwise in government. Or else he’s chosen to create barriers to entry for his competition, making sure that no one little can make it – it’s the “pulling up the ladder” phenomenon.
If you’re an employee making $30,000/year, you’re working along, and you need your job. If you’re a business that grosses $500,000 and has ten employees to pay, you’re now a “millionaire” and the people who are going to hurt are going to be your $30K employees as well as the business as a whole. If you’re a $44,000,000,000 investor that owns a hedge fund that is 88,000 times larger than that small business, you won’t feel that tax at all. You buy and sell those ants for breakfast. Your personal wealth is larger than the GDP of most African nations, and your life will never be changed by another tax. You’ve got your money and it’s time to make sure no one else does. You can regulate and tax everyone out of existence because you have an army of litigators and lawyers to protect you.
But the small business owner will be destroyed.
Either Buffet is insulated, short-sighted, and foolishly believes, as have the tyrannical dictators of socialist hellholes around the world and throughout history, that he is smart enough to run everyone’s life and knows what’s best for you – or – he’s intentionally creating further barriers to entry, ensuring that the world he has created will be maintained, calcified in a web of regulations and taxes that enshrines the old businesses that can never be harmed as government will protect and save them for pull. He’s part of the Ruling Class, and has decided that he’ll run things from now on with his rich and powerful cronies… and the less rich and powerful will be demonized as “the real enemy”. There will be the masters and the serfs, and the citizen burghers and kulaks will have to be destroyed as we are driven down this Road To Serfdom.
Milton Friedman discussing Friedrich Hayek’s the Road To Serfdom back in 1994. As relevant again today as ever.
Part 2 is perhaps the more interesting of the two, especially around the 12 minute mark on. Friedman points out that experience may be more important than the influences of books or television; and how people have seen the failures in the former Soviet Union and the successes in Asia and the Pacific where unfettered economies succeeded. Arguably the internet and the 24 hour news cycle has become even more important, because it shortens the memory and lessens experience, but as he mentions, it’s a sophisticated question not easily answered.
Some important quotes:
If an experiment in private enterprise is unsuccessful people lose money and they have to close it down. If an experiment in government is unsuccessful, it’s always expanded.
Particularly relevant to the health care debate:
The founders of our country believed in individual freedom, believed in leaving people be, letting them be alone to do… whatever they wanted to do. But our government has been increasingly departing from those Constitutional principles. You know there’s a provision in the Constitution that congress shall not interfere with interstate commerce. That provision had some meaning at one time. But it has no meaning now at all. Our courts have ruled that anything you can think of is interstate commerce and so the government exercises extensive control over things that it has no business interfering with.
Around the 17 minute mark, Friedman begins dissecting the Federal Reserve.
At the 19 minute mark, Friedman discusses the collapse of the nation under debt. His belief was that the changes in public perception were going to allow the people to halt the expansion of government.
In response to why socialists would be happier about the history of the last 50 years (before 1994, though it works the same today) at the 21 minute mark:
Because the story they tell is a very simple story – easy to sell. If there’s something bad, it must be an evil person who’s done it. If you want something done, you’ve got to do it – you’ve got to have government step in and do it.
The story Hayek and I want to tell is a much more sophisticated and complicated story. That somehow or other there exists this subtle system in which without any individual trying to control it there is a system in which people in seeking to promote their own interests will also promote the well being of the country – Adam Smith’s invisible hand. Now that’s a very sophisticated story. It’s hard to understand how you can get a complex interrelated system without anybody controlling it. Moreover the benefits from government tend to be concentrated. The costs tend to be dispersed. To each farmer the subsidy he gets from the government means a great deal. To each of a much larger number of consumers it costs very little. And consequently those who feed at the trough of government tend to be politically much more powerful than those who provided the wherewithal.
Eloquently stated and encapsulating the relationship between people and government very succintly.
Afterwards he breaks down what parties mean what – bringing up liberalism as classical liberalism, and states he’s libertarian in philosophy, though not party. He mentions Hillarycare in passing as incredibly socialist. The EIC that he mentions at the end he supported as a replacement for all welfare programs with the EIC, a “negative income tax”, that helps to establish a baseline income. He ended up fighting against it, because as we all know, the EIC just became another welfare program, not a replacement for the patchwork of welfare that was already in place.
Well worth watching.
And as a reminder:
No, the other Hayek.
Milton Friedman on free markets, economics, and freedom.
The last in the series, with some advice on how to avoid the road to serfdom.
Though reading The Road To Serfdom might be a good way to learn how to avoid it.
What our generation has forgotten is that the system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not. It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that nobody has complete power over us, that we has individuals can decide what to do with ourselves. If all the means of production were vested in a single hand, whether it be nominally that of “society” as a whole or that of a dictator, whoever exercises this control has complete power over us.
And who will deny that a world in which the wealthy are powerful is still a better world that one in which only the already powerful can acquire wealth?
- F.A. Hayek, The Road To Serfdom (pg 136)
Why bring this up? Because of this guy. We currently have an administration that focuses on “Choice Architecture” by which you will be regulated into doing what they wish.
For an example, consider that Sarah Brady of the Brady Campaign (to ban guns) was told by President Obama that his administration would be working on banning guns “under the radar”. How does a government do that? Through regulation. The ATF famously enforces more regulations than laws (when they’re not supplying guns to cartels to kill Border Patrol and ICE agents, that is), as does the EPA, TSA, and numerous other government agencies that aren’t listed as constitutional functions of government. What happens when you have someone who is willing to modify regulations to modify behavior is you get situations similar to Australia and Britain. Gun control there is so strict that even dedicated collectors end up giving up their firearms rather than deal with the hassle, and the average citizen won’t even want to bother, and both are left completely defenseless against crime and tyrannical government. Power becomes concentrated in the hands of those who hold government positions, and government no longer exists at the consent of the governed, but as a condition of those who rule choosing to do so.
The same applies to the myriad dictates of the EPA which change the costs of your food and fuel, the tax code (which is probably somewhere around 16,000 pages long), TSA regulations that abuse children, and so on and so forth. Government acquires power and then dictates, government may not seize property as in communist regimes, but it controls the individuals’ use of their own property. This coercion and “nudging” is mostly a distinction without a difference.
Those who have power are the only ones who can make things comfortable for themselves, at the expense of those who they lord over. This becomes a system of kings and serfs, wherein the individual is made a slave to the state – the very warning of The Road to Serfdom – a road taken by many nations in the past, and one that demagogues today seek to lead us down “for our own good“.
As soon as the state takes upon itself the task of planning the whole economic life, the problem of the due station of the different individuals and groups must indeed inevitably become the central political problem. As the coercive power of the state will alone decide who is to have what, the only power worth having will be a share in the exercise of this directing power. There will be no economic or social questions that would not be political questions in the sense that their solution will depend exclusively on who wields the coercive power, on whose are the views that will prevail on all occasions.
I believe it was Lenin himself who introduced to Russia the famous phrase “who, whom?” – during the early years of Soviet rule the byword in which the people summed up the universal problem of a socialist society. Who plans whom, who directs and dominates whom, who assigns other people to their station in life, and who is to have his due allotted by others? These become necessarily the central issues to be decided solely by the supreme power.
- F.A. Hayek, The Road To Serfdom (pg138-139)
This is where redistribution comes in. This is where the “Obama Money” comes in. In the US, the fedgov has already used some 16,000 pages of tax code to take in money, and now it decides where to spend it and how, and also how much to borrow from China to continue spending on its pet projects. This is a major reason why we’re in the economic conditions we’re in. Politicians have promised so much with other people’s money (often Hu Jintao’s money) that they continue to spend that money due to political pressures of the zero-liability voter recipient class.
Many of the current crop of politicians agree that spreading other people’s wealth around is a good idea – and the ideological reason is to create equality of outcome (regardless of who has to pull others’ slack), but the political reason is that the people who vote for them want them to plunder from the better-off-than-them. The politicians have encouraged the nonsense of class warfare and run entire campaigns against “the rich”, promoting a crab in the bucket mentality, rather than removing government barriers impeding individuals so that they may improve their own status, or to show how wealthy even the poor in America are compared to the rest of the world (though they do tell us the rest of the world is poor every time they tell the US that we need to make sacrifices – but that’s more advanced international socialism).
And this is where Hayek comes down to quoting Lenin. Lenin knew that the socialist state would be one that is totalitarian of necessity, and the only question is how to operate it. There is no other way that such political structures can be created. The population must be forced into redistributive socialism, whether through indoctrination, coercion, reduction of choices (Sunstein’s nanny-state tyranny), or outright violence.
It reduces the individuals’ ability to choose, it reduces the free market’s ability to create dynamic solutions to lifes’ problems, but it certainly empowers the socialist in charge. It creates massive power and authority for the government (no longer by the consent of the governed) that will end up wielded by some supreme governmental power, whether it be by deciding what business lives or dies, or what people live or die.
We just need to get off that Road To Serfdom… maybe put it in low gear…
The Obama administration has floated a transportation authorization bill that would require the study and implementation of a plan to tax automobile drivers based on how many miles they drive.
The plan is a part of the administration’s “Transportation Opportunities Act,” an undated draft of which was obtained this week by Transportation Weekly.
It’s worth it to read the article. It mentions specifically putting tracking devices in vehicles, monitoring driving, and charging a tax based on the miles traveled. It’s a violation of the 4th Amendment, unless you agree with the craziness that police can put a tracking device in your car without your knowledge and it’s ok.
The proposal for the tax is surfacing because people are driving more fuel-efficient vehicles, and driving less, and they’re using less fuel. Since there’s less fuel being used, there’s less revenue for government from fuel taxes. When the economy is in decline like it has been for the last few years, and when gas and diesel prices are absurdly high, people drive less. Businesses use less. Shipping companies use less. Thus, tax revenue is reduced due to lack of consumption.
The great social planners don’t actually care about the painful effects of this proposed tax – they consider them “good things”. They won’t get rid of the gas tax that already exists. It will simply add to the individual’s tax burden, but with the addition of tracking their every movement. Of course, to the planners in office – who also have an eco-dalek and social justice bent – this is a tool to redistribute wealth and punish humanity for its own good and to “save the planet” for the “greater good”. Things that you and I consider negatives, that hurt us average Americans, are what they are using to “nudge” us into the choices they’ve made for us.
It limits our actual economic freedom by limiting our income, it limits our movement by reducing the movement we can afford, and limits the freedom of our lives – everything we can afford, as more of our income is confiscated for taxation.
Gas is already getting ridiculously expensive, made so in no small part by the anti-energy policies of the US govt that are restricting offshore shallow-water drilling, that are restricting land drilling, and thus driving up prices. Of course, $7/gallon gas is considered a “good thing” to the elites.
The near future. Fury Road to Serfdom!
>Friedrich A. Hayek wrote a rather well-known book on economics and the human condition called “The Road To Serfdom” back in the early 1940s. Hayek was an Austrian economist and one of the major contributors to the “Austrian School” of economics. The intro to the edition I’m reading is rather long and any summary of the factors that led to the book would be insufficient in comparison.
He also rather famously remarked: “Conservatism is only as good as what it conserves,” being critical of American conservatism that doesn’t embrace and conserve its libertarian/classic liberal ideals. Note that our motto at The Patriot Perspective has always been the same.
As I’ve been reading it, some passages are jumping out at me. Here, Hayek points out a major problem with central planning and socialism. It must control everything to create its utopia. And it invariably fails, as everything in existence must then be prioritized by government – not by individuals who govern their own affairs, and whose best interests may even change day to day. Here, he makes the point that there can be no such government because there exists no such set of prioritizing values.
Not only do we not possess such an all-inclusive scale of values: it would be impossible for any mind to comprehend the infinite variety of different needs of different people which compete for the available resources and to attach a definite weight to each. For our problem it is of minor importance whether the ends for which any person cares comprehend only his own individual needs, or whether they include the needs of his closer or even those of his more distant fellows-that is, whether he is egotistic or altruistic in the ordinary sense of these words. The point which is so important is the basic fact that it is impossible for any man to survey more than a limited field, to be aware of the urgency of more than a limited number of needs. Whether his interests center round his own physical needs, or whether he takes a warm interest in the welfare of every human being he knows, the ends about which he can be concerned will always be only an infinitesimal fraction of the needs of all men.
This is the fundamental fact on which the whole philosophy of individualism is based. It does not assume, as is often asserted, that man is egoistic or selfish or ought to be. It merely starts from the indisputable fact that the limits of our powers of imagination make it impossible to include in our scale of values more than a sector of the needs of the whole society…
- Friedrich August von Hayek, The Road To Serfdom (pg 102)