The EPA Causes Pollution; Only Freedom Can Eliminate Pollution

By Mike Tront

For the vast majority of the population, those of us who have been educated in public schools, or consume our news from main stream media outlets, we know that the Environmental Protection Agency is here to protect the environment.  Mainly from evil businesses who seek to pollute public lands, waters, and air in order to increase their profits.

This is a noble cause, but one that is actually not served by the EPA.  In fact, just like the Department of Defense makes us less safe with their offensive war strategies, and just like the Department of Education reduces educational opportunities by enforcing a public school monopoly, the EPA actually permits and allows pollution to happen by these profit seeking businesses.

Take for example this current fight over the dumping of fracking wastewater in the Gulf of Mexico.  From the article:

Under the EPA’s current and draft permits, offshore drillers are allowed to dump an unlimited amount of fracking and acidizing chemicals overboard as long as they are mixed with the wastewater that returns from undersea wells. Oil and gas platforms dumped more than 75 billion gallons of these “produced waters” directly into the Gulf of Mexico in 2014 alone, according to the Center’s analysis of EPA records.

These large volumes of wastewater cannot contain oil and must meet toxicity standards, but oil and gas operators are only required to test the waste stream a few times a year. Monsell said these tests could easily be conducted at times when few or no fracking chemicals are present in the wastewater.

This is basically every EPA fight in a nutshell.  Environmental groups seek to stop businesses from polluting, then those businesses claim that the pollution isn’t harmful.  These groups and businesses then lobby and donate to politicians, and government sets standards that the businesses have to follow in order to pollute.

Environmental groups get to claim a small victory, but also get to soak their donors for more money since their job isn’t done yet (and it never will be!)  Businesses get to continue to pollute on public lands and waters, while using their influence to encourage favorably written regulations (like the now famous act that limits liability for oil spills.)  Politicians and lobbyists get to continue to stay in power and rake in money from all sides.

Who’s to Blame?

Clearly the current system is flawed.  The blame is often focused on these businesses for their desires to pollute.  This may be a logical and correct way of looking at it, but the businesses aren’t the root cause of the problem.  Government is.  More specifically, government ownership of lands and bodies of water is the problem.

Just like government creates incentives for poor and downtrodden people to make a living off collecting welfare, it also creates incentives for businesses to pollute on the very lands it is entrusted to protect.  Instead of blaming downtrodden people for collecting welfare, and instead of blaming businesses for polluting on public land, the real solution to both problems is getting government out of the way.

Fixing The Problem

The first step to fixing pollution is privatizing.  Everything.  Rivers, lakes, forests, lands, everything.  The fact is, there is nothing inherently wrong with polluting.  As long it’s done exclusively on your own property, and no damage is done to anyone else’s property as a result of your pollution, there’s no need to stop it.

At this point, however, pollution will become very expensive.  Take the above fracking wastewater issue as an example.  For the oil companies to be able to dump their wastewater in the ocean, they’d either have to own a significant amount of ocean, which would cost millions, if not billions of dollars to acquire.  Or, they’d have to pay the owners of the ocean they’re drilling in for the right to dump the wastewater.  If this wastewater is truly harmless, and wouldn’t hurt the ocean in any significant way, the owners may allow the dumping for a small fee.  However, if it will damage the ocean, it wouldn’t make sense for the owners to allow this to happen.  It simply wouldn’t be profitable.

In a free market, without government allowing companies to simply use public lands and waters as a dumping ground, companies would have to bare the true cost of their pollution.  It wouldn’t make sense to spend millions and billions of dollars buying up lands and bodies of waters just to then destroy them, as it would be much cheaper to innovate a way to produce their goods with significantly less pollution.

The second step to fixing the problem is to eliminate any laws that cap the liability of polluters.  After all, if it becomes too expensive for me to buy lands and bodies of water to pollute on, and no one will lease me land to pollute on, why not just dump on other people’s property?

Not only should I be liable for any and all damage done to the property of others, but if I intentionally damage or pollute the property of others I should be held criminally liable as well.  Just like in real life, if I accidentally drive into a parked car, I’m civilly liable for the damages, but I won’t end up in jail.  If it can be proven that I intentionally drive into a parked car, I can now be charged criminally and possible end up in jail as a result.

Without these current protections provided by government, both from liability and criminal prosecutions, companies will be put in a position to find a way to produce their goods without destroying the environment.  Nothing will eliminate all waste and pollution, but a free market would force companies to either pollute their own land at their own significant costs, or actually find an innovative way to change their production in a way as to significantly reduce or eliminate pollution.

 

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Trademark Law, The Chicago Cubs, and Welfare for Billionaires

By Mike Tront

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series in Major League Baseball since 1908.  This year, however, they are the favorites to win it all.  With less than a week to go in the season they have long had their division title clinched.  While the players are battling on the field for the World Series, the front office of the Cubs is fighting a different battle.  As their team wins more games, and as their players become more popular, people are making money selling merchandise not approved by MLB or the Cubs.

In a minute, I will argue that there should be no copyright or trademark laws at all.  People and corporations shouldn’t be able own an image or an idea.  Copyrights and trademarks are nothing more than the wealthy creating laws so they can stay on top.  It’s welfare for millionaires and billionaires.

But first, I want to tackle one particular ridiculousness that the Cubs have recently fought for and won.  The above linked article, from the Chicago Tribune, at one point mentions a problem with a specific type of merchandise.  Some shirts have no Cubs or MLB logos on it, but do have a flag with a “W” on it.  This flag, made famous by the Cubs, who fly a “W” flag after every Cubs victory, has been recently ruled to be property of the Cubs by the courts.  This means that no one can sell a flag with a giant blue “W” on a white background without fighting the Cubs and Major League Baseball.

In fact, in 2015, a completely unrelated financial startup was taken to court because their logo is a large “W.”  Even though it is a different color and style as the traditional flag the Cubs fly, they had to spend money to defend themselves.  The suit was eventually dropped, but there’s no way for the legal fees to be recovered.  They thankfully had the resources to defend themselves, but many people and companies don’t.

I’m sure many can agree that trademarking this “W” flag is pretty ridiculous.  It’s not their team logo, it’s not on their uniforms, it’s literally a flag they fly after a win that just has a big “W” on it.  This clearly goes to far.  But I don’t want to stop there.  All copyrights and trademarks laws are wrong.

Objections to Eliminating Copyrights and Trademarks

The first objection that is usually brought up is that companies spend millions of dollars designing, creating, and marketing their logos and ideas and other people shouldn’t be able to profit off this work.

The other major objection to having no trademark or copyright laws is that people will be a victim of fraud and knockoffs.  After all, if a company can’t own a logo or phrase, what would stop me from making my own beer and slapping a Budweiser label on it?  If they can’t own their labels, logos, and phrases, then no law would stop me from doing it and customers won’t know they’re actually not buying Budweiser.

In my mind, these two objections are related.  Companies should protect their reputations and the consumers need to know who they are really buying from.  I totally agree.  My above scenario about creating a fake Budweiser shouldn’t happen in a free market.  So without trademark and copyright laws, Mr. Libertarian, how would this be stopped?

Let’s look at the victim.  The victim in the above scenario isn’t Budweiser, it’s the consumer.  If I sell a product that I made in my basement, but claim it was made at the Budweiser plant, I’ve now defrauded the customer.  Therefore any customer who bought from me has a right to sue me.  I’ve used fraud to take their money.  In a free market, individuals and companies who misrepresent their products would be eliminated fairly quickly.  If every customer you sell your fraudulent product to has the right to sue you, it won’t take long for the class action suit to take you down.

The fake label Budweiser scenario would and should be stopped with or without copyright and trademark laws.  There is, however, one type of person that can’t be stopped in a free market.  That’s the vendor that sells knockoff merchandise so long as they expressly let that fact be known to their customers.

For example, in the article about the vendors selling Cubs merchandise without the permission of the Cubs or MLB, there really is no problem there.  The only potential problem is if the vendors insinuated that the merchandise was authorized or produced by the Cubs or MLB.  So as long as they let the customers know that this isn’t “official” merchandise, no one should be able to stop them from selling it.

What this comes down to is that people and companies can’t own ideas or images or phrases.  Just because I design something in a certain way, that doesn’t give me the right to stop other people from designing their products in a similar way, or even in the exact same way.  The only issue is if someone sells their product and claims or insinuates that I was the one who made it or approved it.

Copyrights and trademarks are nothing more than wealthy companies lobbying government to protect their profits.  The only reason companies can sell merchandise with sports logos on them for twice as much as normal merchandise is because they can use government force to stop others from competing.  Same goes for designer clothing, expensive gym shoes, and any other high end item where you’re basically “paying for a name.”

These companies can charge what they charge because they have exclusivity enforced by the government.  But what if anyone could make a hand bag that is identical to a Gucci bag, right down to the logo, but could charge half the price?  As long as this company expressly lets the consumer know that they are in no way affiliated with Gucci, there is no crime there.

When governments pass laws to regulate businesses and to “help the consumer,” just remember that the people making these laws are being funded by the same companies they are supposedly regulating.  This means that these laws end up helping the entrenched businesses and end up giving the consumer less choices.  Less choice means less quality and/or higher priced goods and services.  Copyright and trademark laws are no different.

 

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Clinton Wants Government To Take Over Your Daycare

By Mike Tront

Whether it’s Trump wanting the government to build a massive wall, or Bernie wanting free college for all, or Hillary wanting to expand the warfare state, there’s plenty of big government programs being proposed this election cycle.  There’s one, however, that’s not getting much press.  But it could have a huge impact on our lives.  It’s Hillary’s plan to take over your daycare.  From her campaign site:

Significantly increase child care investments so that no family in America has to pay more than 10 percent of its income to afford high-quality child care.

and:

Hillary will fight for every family in America to have access to high quality, affordable child care by significantly increasing the federal government’s investment in child care subsidies and providing tax relief for the cost of child care to working families.

It sounds simple and appears fairly non-intrusive.  If you’re a financially struggling family, she’s basically proposing that you and/or your daycare get an extra tax credit.  Who can object to that?

Like all government programs, however, once you give an inch they take 100 miles.  Then they take 10 more miles every year after that.  Eventually, we end up with something that is unbelievably more expensive than what we had before and with much lower quality.

What Happens to the Daycare Workers?

In addition to making daycare cheap again, Clinton also wants to raise the wages of daycare workers.  Who is going to pay for that?  Taxpayer subsidies, of course!  Again from her campaign site:

To increase the quality of child care in America and pay child care workers for the true value of their work, Hillary will create the Respect and Increased Salaries for Early Childhood Educators (RAISE) initiative. In line with Clinton’s Care Workers Initiative, RAISE will fund and support states and local communities that work to increase the compensation of child care providers

The idea is that with higher wages, better quality workers will be attracted to the daycare profession and those currently employed will have their wages increased.  But that’s a huge contradiction.  If the goal is to increase the quality of daycare professionals by increasing their wages, doesn’t that also mean that the current people employed in daycare are not good enough?  Won’t they lose their jobs?  If you want to increase their wages, how will getting them fired help?

The Takeover

All of this is leading to the inevitable government takeover of daycare.  The government won’t just simply send money to various independent daycares, no strings attached.  In order for a daycare to qualify for their worker subsidies, and in order for the parents to claim their daycare voucher or tax subsidy, they’ll have to sent their kids to specific, federal approved daycares.  After all, how else is the government supposed to make sure people aren’t just claiming fake daycares on their taxes?

These new federally approved daycares will be like any federally regulated industry.  The cost of complying with the new regulations will put many smaller, family run daycares out of business.  Only the larger ones will survive.  With less competition and less customizing available from local, small independent daycares, prices will go up and quality will go down.

Even more scary, this may eventually start to look like the public school system.  With taxpayers footing the bill, the price of daycare will skyrocket.  Just like colleges started raising their fees as more federal money started flowing their way, daycare fees will rise too.  As politicians get angry about daycares gouging the taxpayer, they will demand action.  Will this action involve getting the government out of the daycare industry?  Ha!  They will demand that daycares become totally paid for and ran by government so they can control the costs.

This will get passed by promising voters that daycare will now be free, or extremely low cost.  Every neighborhood will have their own government run daycare, just like they have their own schools.  Of course, with no competition and a centralized bureaucracy planning it all, costs will only go up further!  Since workers will not be able to be fired and there’s no competition for parents to go to, quality will get worse and worse.

Unless you’re rich.  Wealthy people will be completely out of this system.  Wealthy people will be able to afford to sent their kids to private daycares or have in-home nannies.  They’ll have the benefit of choice and competition.  And just like private schools today, these options will actually end up costing less than what the government will spend per child for their free services!

Am I crazy?  Am I reading too much into this seemingly simple proposal to make childcare more affordable?  Maybe Hillary Clinton doesn’t have some grand conspiracy to have government completely take over child care as I’ve described above.  It really doesn’t matter if she intends this or not.  The law of unintended consequences always gets its way.  The economic incentives for a government bureaucracy to take over childcare is too great to ignore.  The only way to stop it is to keep this Pandora’s Box of government subsidized child care closed.

 

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Marijuana Can Be a Victory for Libertarians, Unless We Screw it Up

By Mike Tront

For as long as I can remember, libertarians have been jokingly referred to as “Republicans who smoke weed.”  With Gary Johnson as the Libertarian Party presidential nominee, this image isn’t going to change anytime soon!  Many, both in and outside the movement, think this image is bad for us.

NBC News just ran this, titled How Gary Johnson’s Marijuana Position Could Affect His Presidential Bid. The basic premise being that GOP voters and lawmakers are having a hard time getting behind Johnson due to his firm marijuana legalization position.

Even people within the movement, like Jack Hunter, editor of Rare, wrote this not too long ago: Gary Johnson Can’t Just Be The Weed Guy.  Here his point is that Ron and Rand Paul have had success in using an overall message of smaller government in economics and foreign policy to attract people.  These issues affect more people directly than the single issue of marijuana legalization.

Both of these articles definitely make great points and are not totally off base.  But the attitude that libertarians should scale back our legalization zealotry is wrong.

The fact is, we’re up against an enormous monster of an enemy.  We’re out numbered.  In money, people, media, power, and in every other way you can imagine.  The only thing we have on our side is the truth.  We know that individual human freedom is the absolute best and only moral way for people to live.  For this truth to eventually become reality, we need more people on our side.

Technology has done wonders in allowing us to get our message out to the world and to attract more people who otherwise didn’t know they were libertarian.  But just as quickly as people are brought in, people also lose interest.  Just look at the Ron Paul Revolution.  Many were brought into the movement, but just four years later many of those people are now scattered away in many different directions.  They see what we’re up against, and they see that we’ve largely been ineffective, so why stick around?

We Need a Victory To Keep People Interested

There’s an old saying:  “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”

Marijuana legalization is coming.  No one can stop it.  The individual states are legalizing marijuana.  Poll after poll show that people are wanting marijuana to be legalized.  And every year more breakthroughs are coming out about the medical benefits of marijuana.  Since libertarians are known for this issue, perhaps more than any other issue that we believe in, why stop embracing it now?

When marijuana is finally legalized, the world should know that it was libertarians that fought longest and hardest for this cause.  If we are directly associated with getting marijuana legalized, it could do wonders for our movement.  People who consider themselves libertarian, but are pessimistic in their outlook for the movement, might actually see a glimmer of hope.  People who don’t consider themselves libertarian, might take a closer look at what else we have to say when they see that marijuana legalization didn’t bring down Western Civilization.

The Libertarian Party Blew it With Gay Marriage

We did have an amazing opportunity recently.  Last year the right of two consenting adults to get married, regardless of their sex, was finally recognized by the federal government.  This was a huge deal for human freedom and an amazing leap forward for a government that has tried to control marriage with laws for over a century.  The Libertarian Party has historically been a voice for gay rights.  Their first presidential candidate, John Hospers in 1972, was openly gay in a very hostile time.  They’ve supported the right for gays in the military way before it was politically fashionable to do so.

But as Slate pointed out in this 2013 article, the Libertarian Party, at that time, was basically silent on the issue of gay rights.  In order to find any libertarian position or advocacy of gay rights, they had to scour the Party website.  At a time when everyone was talking about gay rights, at a time when politicians like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were walking back their previous opposition to marriage equality, the Libertarian Party didn’t even have a tab on their website to point curious people to their firm and consistent support of marriage equality.

Perhaps they were trying to focus their branding to attract conservative leaning people from the Ron Paul revolution.  I don’t know. But a few short years later victory was won for marriage equality and libertarians were left in the dust.

We can’t let the same thing happen to us when marijuana is finally legalized.  Now that the tide is turning and legalization is inevitable, we need to make this a central issue for the movement and for the Libertarian Party.

Sometimes I see bumper stickers that say:  “If you can read this, thank a teacher” Or “If you can read this in English, thank a veteran”

One day I want to see a bumper sticker that says “If you can legally consume marijuana and you don’t have to purchase it from a dangerous cartel or gang, thank a libertarian!”

 

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Crime Solving, Libertarian Style

By Mike Tront

In a previous post, I talked about a future where we would live under a completely private criminal justice system.  No centralized government or force with a monopoly power on creating and enforcing laws.  The main point I made is that this future system would focus on restitution for the victim.  Basically, you’d have insurance coverage for crime.  Just like insurance covers you if your house burns down, you could have insurance that could cover your losses in the event of an assault, battery, robbery, fraud, rape, and even murder.  The insurance would pay you for your losses.  The insurance company would then recoup its losses by finding the criminal, prosecuting them, and extracting restitution from the guilty person.  You can find the post here.

Today, I want to talk about actually solving the crime in a free market system.

There would be a tremendous demand for solving crimes and apprehending criminals in a free society.  Even more so than there is today, actually.  The insurance companies would want to recoup their losses and prevent future losses.

Today, voters often demand that their politicians be tough on crime, but in practice government isn’t very good at solving crimes.

Problems with government crime solving

First, we have bureaucracy.  For the most part, if a crime happens in a certain jurisdiction, the only group that is allowed to solve that crime is the local police department.  If you happen to become a victim while in a poor neighborhood, the odds of that crime being solved are smaller.  Not only do they have less resources, but there are usually more crimes in poorer areas.  Even if you live in a wealthy area, if the local department is ineffective there’s no competition to turn to.  You’re stuck.  You could hire a private detective to help out, but what’s the point?  If the criminal is caught, he just goes to jail.  You aren’t able to get restitution for your losses or for the costs of finding the criminal.  Plus, you get to pay more in taxes to jail the guy!  It’s lose, lose, lose.  To make matters even worse, police departments are just like any government agency.  The more they fail, the more money they can claim they need, and often the more money they get.  This actually creates economic incentives for police departments to get worse at solving crimes, not better!

Second problem is the continued prosecution of victimless crimes.  There are only so many resources to go around, and large amounts of resources are used to go after people who are simply voluntarily exchanging goods and services outside of the formal economy.  This means less resources are being used to find violent criminals.

How a free market could look

A free market in solving crime wouldn’t have these hindrances.  Victimless crimes wouldn’t exist.  If my neighbor does drugs in his home, or sells his body for sex, how can I take him to court?  I’d have to spend my own money to take the case to a court, and when I lose for failing to show my rights were violated, I’d have to pay his court costs as well.  With no government to enforce random prohibitions based on scaring voters, the entire crime solving profession would be freed up to pursue violent criminals.

Bureaucracy could still be a problem.  Once an insurance company pays you for your claim, they now have to find out who committed this crime and apprehend them in order to recoup their lose.  Some companies might have their own detective division that they would turn to.  But this would be almost as inefficient as just having one police department to solve a crime.  The costs would go up and the quality would go down over time.  My guess is there would be more of a division of labor.

When an insurance company pays out for a crime, they might have a few local people on the payroll to investigate, but I’m envisioning more of a bounty situation.  They could simply offer a reward to anyone who could gather enough evidence to convict someone and bring them in for the trial.  This would unleash the forces of competition to get the best results in the most cost effective way.  Instead of having just one local police department responsible for solving all crimes in a specific area, there could be an unlimited number of detective agencies or individuals attempting to solve the same crime in the quickest, and most cost effective way.

Objections

There are many reasons to be skeptical about a competently private crime solving industry.  The fact that it would be a huge leap to go from here to there is enough to scare most people.  Many of us simply have a hard time imagining that entrepreneurs could come up with ways of making it happen.  But look at any industry when people are largely left alone from government interference.  With freedom, people and companies are able to create amazing inventions and solve seemingly unsolvable problems.  Before slavery was abolished, many people thought the economy would crash if they ever got rid of it.  But after the abolition, the economy had tremendous growth.  Entrepreneurs found better ways to farm without free labor and their inventions and techniques ushered in an era of economic growth never before seen.

Corruption

Corruption, however, is a very real possibility.  There are two kinds of corruption I can see happening.

First type:  the criminal buying off the detective agency.  Let’s say a criminal has orchestrated a fraud that caused him to become wealthy.  A detective agency could come to him and say “Give us a million dollars or we’ll turn you in along with all this evidence that we’ve got.”  But there’s one huge problem with this.  Just because you’ve bought off one agency, doesn’t mean another won’t be right behind them.  You might even buy them off too.  But you won’t be able to buy everyone off.  Eventually you’ll run out of money or run into an agency that wants to keep it’s reputation clean.  Or simply wants to do the right thing.  Today’s system is actually much more likely to fall victim to this kind of corruption.  After all, if you can just bribe or scare a few local yokals, you could be good.  Or, in the case of Hillary Clinton, if you can stop one person in the “Justice” Department from prosecuting you, you’re free!

The other type of corruption is falsifying evidence.  If a detective agency wants to get their reward money before anyone else, it would be in their interest to turn someone in as fast as possible.  This might cause an agency to falsify something in order to make someone look guilty.  Or if they have found the guilty person, they might want to falsify some evidence to strengthen the case so they can be sure he’ll get convicted.

Again, this is also a problem today.  There is little or no consequences for a police officer or prosecutor if they falsify, plant, or withhold evidence if it helps their case.  Prosecutors have immunity from being prosecuted for their transgressions. And good luck convincing a prosecutor to go after a police officer that has planted evidence.  They are brothers in arms.

So would a private system see more or less of this?  A lot less.  In a private system, if a detective agency gets caught falsifying evidence, their reputation would be gone.  Good luck getting an insurance company to accept your offers in the future.  Not only could they not trust you and your evidence, but the court would have a hard time convicting someone based on evidence acquired from a notoriously untrustworthy source.  Not to mention, any person that actually planted or falsified evidence could be held personally liable for damages caused by their actions.  Who’s going to plant evidence if they know their personal job, bank account, and freedom is on the line?

Plus, just because one agency falsified or planted some evidence, it doesn’t mean that another agency couldn’t show the insurance company a better and completely true file of evidence and end up getting the reward money.  The insurance company could then turn around and sue and expose the company that planted evidence.  Competition would push out the bad agencies in favor of the good ones.

When a freer market and unfettered competition are allowed to flourish in an industry, the benefits to everyone involved always increase exponentially.  I’m hoping we get to see this happen in the crime solving industry as well.

 

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Tickets Are Creating A Debtors Prison System

By Mike Tront

Anther week and we have another controversial police shooting.  Police came to the home of Korryn Gaines to arrest her after she missed a court date relating to a traffic indecent.  A man also living with her was to be arrested on a warrant relating to an assault case.  The man managed to run and was later apprehended.  Ms. Gaines, on the other hand, apparently hit her breaking point and refused to surrender.  After hours of a tense standoff, she allegedly pointed her gun toward the police, an officer shot at her, she shot back, and then she was fatally shot.

Clearly, it is never wise to point a weapon at a police officer.  If she had surrendered herself she’d be alive today.  She’d also likely be out of jail in a matter of days, if not hours, after her arrest.  After all, it was just traffic fines they were after her for, not violent crime.

What makes this case so newsworthy and controversial is the fact that Ms. Gaines happens to be black.  This sparked many on the left who are claiming this is a case of unfair treatment due to her race, and many on the right are unquestionably backing the actions of the police department.  But what both sides are overlooking is the bigger picture.  No one is asking the question that really matters:

Should the government be allowed to use police and prisons to collect debt?

After all, this is what this was all about.  Debt.  Ms. Gaines owed the local government money.  That’s it.  She failed to show up to her court date to make arrangements to pay her debt, so they sent armed men to her home to drag her in by force.  The implication being that if she couldn’t pay up, they’d lock her up.

Sure, if she would have showed up to her court date, and explained that she couldn’t afford to pay, they would have probably let her go.  For now.  But as we all know, that won’t go on forever.  Eventually you have to pay up or else.  Counties are increasingly using jails to lock up people who don’t or can’t pay fines.

From NPR – As Court Fees Rise, The Poor Are Paying The Price:

NPR obtained a year of jail records from Benton County and sampled data over a four-month period in 2013. On a typical day, about a quarter of the people who were in jail for misdemeanor offenses were there because they had failed to pay their court fines and fees.

Benton County District Court Judge Robert Ingvalson defends the county’s heavy use of fines and fees — and jail time for those who don’t pay. He says it’s needed to hold people accountable when they break laws.

“If they won’t pay the money, the only thing we can take from them at that point is their time,” Ingvalson says.

On the surface, this makes sense.  After all, isn’t he right?  Without prison, won’t people just not pay their fines?  Some people won’t.  But there are better ways.  Police and prisons are for violent people that need to be removed from society.  If I can’t afford to pay a fine, should I be removed from society?  More importantly, is it morally right to lock me up in a cage if I can’t pay a fine?

Private debt collectors

Now let’s look at a similar industry.  Private debt collection.  If I owe money to a creditor, things go a little different.  Now it does start out the same.  If I refuse or can’t pay, whoever I owe money to can take me to court.  Just like a government imposed fine, I have a right to argue in court about whether I actually owe this debt and to possibly make arrangements to pay this debt if I do owe it.

But there’s one huge, and important, difference.  No one has the right to compel me, by force, to show up to this court date.   Now if I choose not to show up, more than likely it will be ruled that I owe the debt in question.  After all, I’m not there to provide any evidence that I don’t owe it.  Same goes for the government court.  If I don’t show up, it’s assumed I’m guilty and the debt is now owed.  However, after I don’t show up to a government court, they not only rule that I owe the money, but they now put a warrant out to arrest me.  The police department is now used to bring me in by force.  The court then threatens me with prison if I can’t pay them.

Back to private debt.  Let’s say a bank gets a ruling that I owe them money.  They now have the right to collect that money from me.  But not by physical force.  No bank can send armed men after me to drag me in front of a judge, who will then tell me to either pay up, make arrangements to pay up, or I get locked in a cage.

So by the logic of the judge in the above NPR article, without police and prisons collecting these private debts, no one would pay, right?  Wrong of course.  These debt collectors can garnish wages, garnish tax returns, put liens on property, and report to credit monitoring agencies if the people are paying or not.  Basically, if a person has the ability to pay, and the debt is actually worth the effort of collecting, the bank will be able to recover some money at some point.  It’s not a perfect system.  Some people know how to game the system, file bankruptcy, and don’t ever pay their debts.  On the other side, some debt collectors use reprehensible tactics to convince people to send them money.

In the end, however, if you don’t or can’t pay a debt, you don’t go to jail.  You don’t have to worry about armed goons coming to your home to drag you away in front of your family and neighbors.  This is the fundamental difference between the competitive free market and the monopolistic government.

A competitive free market in debt collecting allows companies to specialize in finding ways to collect debt from people who don’t pay, but have the ability to pay.  People who truly can’t pay usually get left alone, or there are minimal attempts to collect.  After all, it actually costs money to attempt to collect on bad debt.  Why would a company, trying to make money, spend their own money going after someone they will never collect from?

On the government side, they don’t have to worry about making a profit on you individually.  They have tax money and police.  So if you owe them for a $100 ticket, they can spend thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars in resources and police officer time to track you down, drag you in, lock you up, release you onto probation, and then continue to monitor you.  All the while they can tack on more fees and fines while you’re on probation.  Thus continuing the cycle of debt until you can somehow find a way to pay them off for good.

Solution

From a moral standpoint, no one should be locked in a cage because they owe a debt or fine.  At least not in today’s world.  I did previously write an article about private criminal justice, wherein violent criminals who actually do harm to people and property could be forced to pay restitution to their victims.  However, traffic fines, government fees, and consumer debt don’t fall into the violent criminal category.

You can accurately say that Korryn Gaines would be alive today if she just surrendered and complied.  However, she would also be alive today if America took the physical violence, police departments, and prisons out of the debt collecting business.

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Capital Punishment in a Libertarian Justice System

By Mike Tront

Last week I wrote about how a criminal justice system might look without government.  This week I’d like to look at death as a possible penalty in a private criminal justice system.  First, I’d like to say that I’m 100% against the death penalty in today’s world.

Government should never have the right to administer a death sentence against anyone.  First of all, government is notorious for wrongful convictions.  Second, and perhaps most importantly, there is no oversight.  Sure, there’s a court and an endless appeals process, but that’s not real oversight.  Real oversight means there are consequences for the people involved.  Today, if a prosecutor, or police officer, or judge, or jury sentences someone to death, and they get it wrong, their lives don’t change.  Not one of these people that were responsible for sending an innocent man to die is ever held liable.  Not only are they unable to be personally sued, but they can’t even be removed from their jobs!  Without a possibility of being held liable for an improper decision, no one in the court case has an incentive to truly make sure they are doing the right thing.

Is a Death Penalty Ever Moral?

The main argument against the death penalty, even in a libertarian future where there is no government to screw it up, is that it’s just flat out wrong.  At least as a punishment.  After all, I’m sure everyone can agree that it’s right to kill someone in self-defense, so as long as they are actually threatening you with death or great bodily harm.  But what about after a murder has happened?  Is it right to kill someone that killed another person unjustly?  To answer this, I defer to Walker Block:

Block poses a hypothetical.  He imagines a machine where you could put a dead murder victim in, and the live murderer in along side him, and you could flip a switch and it would take the life of the murderer and somehow put his life into the victim’s body.  So the victim would be alive again like he was before his death, and the murderer would be dead.  He asks if such a machine existed, would it be moral to use it?  Of course!  If you could cure the death of a murdered person, but only at the cost of the life of the murderer, you’d have every right to compel the murderer into such a machine.

If you can agree that this hypothetical is just and fair, then you can agree that the murderer no longer owns his life.  His life belongs to his victim, or in a world without this machine (yet), his life belongs to the estate of his victim.

When Will Capital Punishment Be Used?

Even if we can agree that capital punishment can be used, there’s still the very tricky question of when?  What if a person accidentally kills someone?  What about a case of drunk driving that results in a death?  Or maybe a simple fist fight that results in a death when someone gets punched but falls down on the sidewalk wrong?  Or how about negligence during a medical procedure?  There are endless situations we can bring up that result in an innocent person dying where there was no intent to murder.

I’d say none of these situations can result in a death penalty.  You may ask “Well smart guy, why not?  Even if you accidentally kill someone, don’t you still owe your life to him?  If you can make him whole again by giving up your life, shouldn’t you?”

My answer is a definite no.  The reason is because of liability.  In the case of me walking up to a stranger, pulling out a gun, and shooting him until he is dead, there’s no question that I’m 100% liable for his death.  Therefore, I’m 100% liable for the restitution of his life.  I can’t stop the victim’s estate from taking my life if they see fit.  But in a case of an accidental death, or some other unclear situation, my liability for his death probably won’t reach 100%.  Meaning that even if I’m found 99% liable for the death of someone, the estate can not claim 100% restitution.  My life is safe.  I may owe millions of dollars, and they may be able to compel me to pay that back through forced labor, but they can not kill me back.  I still own 1% or more of my life.

Wrongful Convictions

Like any private system, there will be profit.  There will be profit made by the courts, prosecutors, juries, lawyers and everyone else involved in carrying out a hypothetical death sentence.  I even imagine that if a murderer is found 100% liable for his victim, the estate may put him to death and stream it as a pay-per-view type event with all proceeds going to the family of the victim.  So with all this “evil” profit going around, wouldn’t there be tons of wrongful convictions?

Compared to today, we’d have much less wrongful convictions.  There can always be mistakes, and quite possibly corruption, but the big difference is that when something wrong happens in a private system there is no immunity.  If a prosecutor withholds evidence that would exonerate the accused, he is now responsible for the murder of this now innocent person.  So he’s risking a potential death sentence himself, or at the very least a tremendous restitution payment that he’d be forced to pay back for the rest of his life, just to put away an innocent person.  Hardly seems worth it.

Same with a judge and/or jury that is bribed to rule against an innocent person.  They are now personally liable for the harm they caused.

So I ask you, what system would have more wrongful convictions?  Today’s system, where judges, juries, and prosecutors can put away an innocent person with no consequences, or a private system where a wrongful conviction could result in everyone involved being put on trial themselves?

In a private system, everyone involved in the conviction of any criminal would have a tremendous incentive to get it right.  After all, their job, money, freedom, and possibly life is at stake if they get it wrong.

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A Private Criminal Justice System

By Mike Tront

There are not too many actions of government that libertarians don’t want privatized.  One function, criminal justice, is mostly assumed to be a legitimate function of government, even by many libertarians.  I’m not on board with that.  Here, I’d like to show how a privatized justice system could look.

Let’s start with one area I think we can all agree on:  restitution should be the focal point of any justice system.  Today, if I am the victim of a violent crime, I’m actually a victim twice over.  First, I suffer whatever loss or injury the criminal imposed on me.  Second, I have to pay taxes to fund police, courts, and prisons to find, apprehend, try, and imprison the criminal.  Not only am I without restitution, but the opposite happens!  I have to continue losing money for as long as my attacker is in the system.  This obviously is not right.

To find a free market solution, let’s look at how insurance works today.  If someone robs my home or business, I can have an insurance policy that covers my losses.  This means, for at least some level of crimes, there already is a market solution that brings restitution to victims.  It isn’t a perfect system, mostly because the insurance company now is a victim of sorts, and it doesn’t address what happens to the criminal, but more on that in a minute.

In a free market, insurance would expand to insure against violent crimes as well.  I’d be able to find policies that pay out if I was a victim of assault, battery, rape, or even murder.  Just like life insurance, I’d have a range of polices to choose from based on how much risk I want to assume and how much I’d want it to pay out.

So far this isn’t groundbreaking stuff.  But the real change to justice happens on the other end.  The “what happens to the criminal” end.

If we’re talking about a totally privatized market, prisons like we have today can’t exist.  After all, who’s going to pay for them?  Plus, we still have a restitution problem.  Yes, the victim has been given restitution by their insurance company, but what about the insurance company?  They’re now out of their money.  Basically, by filing a claim with your insurance company, you’re selling debt.  The criminal is in debt to you or your estate for the crime they’ve committed.  Like any other debt, you can choose to collect it on your own at your own expense, or you can sell that debt to the highest bidder and they can now attempt to collect the debt, for better or worse.

Now the insurance company has an insensitive to find this criminal.  Today, this is the job of the government.  If the criminal is caught, tried, and convicted (all this at the victim’s expense), they are then put in prison to rot (at the victim’s expense yet again.)

This will look very different in a free market.  Let’s say I’m carjacked and I’m physically injured in the altercation.  All in all, the insurance company pays out $100,000 to replace the vehicle and pay for the physical and emotional damages I’ve suffered.  The insurance company now has a right to collect on this debt.  They will use their own funds to find this person and take him to a privately funded court to make sure he’s guilty.

If they find the correct person, and he’s found guilty of this crime, now what?  Chances are he’s broke.  He now owes the insurance company the money it paid to his victim, and the costs associated with his capture and trial.  Today, he’d rot in a cage for years, and his life would most likely be destroyed when he gets out, thus leading to more crime and more victims.

In a free market, he’d have to work off his debt.  Depending on his skills and risk level, this could work out many different ways.  If this was a teenager who got caught up with the wrong crowd one time, but otherwise is tracking to go to college and become a productive person, all sides might just agree to have him pay off his debt as a percentage of his income until he’s even.  No prison, no guards, no futures ruined, no further crime.

If this is a more hardened or violent criminal, it may look very different.  There may in fact be a prison.   Except it would have to be a prison that runs a factory.  Or a construction company.  Or some other economically viable business that could keep these violent criminals away from society, and at the same time generate revenue to pay for itself and the debt their prisoners owe.

Objections

Like any untried idea, there will be objections.  There’s one huge one I can imagine and I will touch on it a bit.

The biggest problem I can think of is: what about abuse and corruption?  If money is to be made by convicting and forcing people to work to pay off crime debts, won’t these courts, insurance companies, and prisons be incentivized to railroad innocent people for profit?

This is a very real possibility, since that’s exactly what we see today from police forces, prosecutors, federal bureaucracies, prison guard unions, and other cronies in the system.  They have an incentive to railroad people to justify their jobs and paychecks.  However, today there is little or no punishment for wrongdoing by these people.  If a police officer plants evidence, or a prosecutor withholds evidence that could exonerate an innocent person, they don’t get in trouble.  When a judge or jury sentences an innocent person to prison, and 20 years later he’s finally found innocent, nothing happens to the people that put him away.

In a free market, that’s not how it would go down.  An investigator or prosecutor that plants evidence, or withholds evidence that could free an innocent person, is personally liable for his actions.  20 years later when this is discovered, they are now a criminal.  The innocent person that had to pay that criminal debt is of course free, and the people responsible for putting him away now owe him a tremendous amount of money.  Today, innocent people locked up do get paid millions for their time, but the taxpayers pay that money.  The judges, jurors, prosecutors, and police officers responsible don’t pay a dime and they get to continue doing their job!

Any court that convicts even a few innocent people will quickly be out of business.  Any private juror or judge that gets even a few verdicts wrong will quickly be unemployable as well.  In a free market, all sides involved would have incentive to get it right, or else suffer the financial and personal consequences when they convict an innocent person.

Other Benefits of a Private Justice System

Another huge problem with today’s justice system is recidivism.  When someone goes to jail, they don’t learn new skills, they are housed in a dangerous environment, they loose all sense of self-worth and value for life and property, and they are mostly unemployable when they are released.  This dangerous mixture leads to more crime committed by the former criminals, often times of a more violent nature than what they originally did.

How will this be different with a free market in justice?  First, there would be very few prisons that actually house people 24/7.  These work camp prisons would be expensive, and most likely be only used for murderers and other horribly violent people.  People that probably won’t ever be able to pay off their huge criminal debt to the estates of their victims.  Even then, it would still be in the prison’s best interest to maintain a safe, healthy environment in order to maximize productivity.  This means keeping their prisoners healthy and teaching them new, more valuable skills.

What about lesser crimes?  I imagine many criminals would not want to be in a 24/7 work camp, so I’m sure they’d negotiate a deal to report somewhere 5 days a week for the day to work off their debt.  Of course, the more money they make, the quicker they’re totally free.  This incentivizes the convicts to work, and it would incentivize competing businesses to pay the highest wages possible in order to attract the best convict labor.  This could also allow convicts to learn new skills on the job.  Skills that could be used to become a productive person with no need for crime.

In the end, no system will ever be perfect.  What I think we can agree on is that the current justice system is extremely flawed, will continue to make us less safe, and will cost us more money every year.  Any industry that is largely left up to the market, whether it’s electronics, computing, food, etc will always bring the world tremendous products and services at lower and lower prices.  Any socialized industry, like public schools, will always bring the world worse and worse products and services at higher and higher prices.  It’s time we take the socialism out of the justice system and unleash the free market.

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A War on Guns is Another War on Minorities

By Mike Tront

This week’s latest controversial police shooting, the shooting of Alton Sterling, is putting anti-gunners in an awkward position.  On the one hand, we have a black man who was shot and killed by police while he was posing no threat to anyone.  On the other hand, he was carrying a gun.

If you’re an anti-gunner, there’s a good chance that you also consider yourself sympathetic to the plight and struggle that some minority groups face in America today.  From the perspective of libertarian-minded people, these two concerns are mutually exclusive though.  We know that any prohibition, whether it’s drugs, prostitution, or guns, will always take an exponentially worse toll on poor and minority communities.  In other words, it is impossible to look at the realities of America today and be in favor of a ban on guns and still claim to be looking out for the interests of the lower classes of society.

The War on Guns will be another War on Drugs

At this point, we now know for a fact that the war on drugs was specifically designed by Nixon to put otherwise non-violent black people and anti-war white people in jail.  Today, America now has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  Largely this prison population is taken from poor and minority communities.  White people are actually more likely to consume illegal drugs, but black people are arrested for drug violations at a rate three times greater than that of whites.

So why would a War on Guns be any different?  Do we really think rural police departments are going to be conducting raids for guns?  Or that federal agents will be descending on middle and upper class communities trying to sweep guns “off the streets?”  Of course not!  This War on Guns will be fought in the same poor and minority communities that the War on Drugs is fought in now.  An otherwise non-violent black gun owner will be way more likely to get caught up in the system than an otherwise non-violent white gun owner will.

For one, America is used to seeing minorities get hauled off to jail. Just try to incarcerate an entire generation of middle-class white males and see how long the War on Guns lasts!

Secondly, white people simply have an easier time getting away with crimes, especially non-violent “crimes.”  On average they have more money and connections, which leads to better lawyers and friendly treatment from judges, district attorneys, and police.

So I have a question to Matt Damon, who just days ago advocated for the U.S. to ban guns in “one fell swoop,” and other anti-gunners:  If you’re also a champion of poor minorities, how is this War on Guns going to help?

We already know that violent criminals won’t give up their guns.  Why would they?  Do you really believe that someone who is willing to car jack someone, or rob a business, or murder someone will magically care about gun laws?  The fact that violent criminals will always have guns will put otherwise law abiding people in a hard position.  Especially those that live in a rough neighborhood.  Do I give up my only means of self-defense, and rely on police that may not arrive for an hour, or do I risk going to jail just so I can have a chance at defending my family against a violent criminal?

Like the old saying goes:  “I’d rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6.”

Judging by how the War on Drugs is handled, and judging by how justice in America is handled in general, a War on Guns means a lot more poor and minorities in jail, and a lot more Alton Sterling’s dead in the street at the hands of police.

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Abortion: Now Liberals Don’t Like Regulation?

By Mike Tront

The Supreme Court is making big news in the abortion battle.  They just struck down regulations enacted by the State of Texas overseeing abortion clinics.  These seemingly common sense regulations ended up reducing people’s access to abortion clinic’s.  Since abortion is a constitutionally protected right, regulations affecting them are often ruled unconstitutional.

When you talk to most liberals, and even some conservatives these days, they’ll tell you that it’s the duty of the government to regulate industries to keep us all safe.  They claim that without government regulating every aspect of an industry, we as consumers would have no ability to recognize if we’re dealing with a shady business.  We’d have no access to quality goods and services.

If you’re on the libertarian side of the ball, you know that the only thing government regulation does is give more power to the legislatures, the regulators, and the people/businesses who lobby them.  This lobbying is used to get regulations to favor them and hurt their competitors, usually smaller businesses that can’t afford to lobby.  This is known as regulatory capture.

With this Supreme Court decision, liberals are inadvertently celebrating deregulation.  They just don’t realize it.  They think they’re celebrating the fact that government is giving their rights back.  But what’s the difference?  When any industry is deregulated by a national government, liberals today are usually against it.  However, deregulation means that the people are given back their right to choose.  Whether it’s airlines, phone service, or abortions.  People now have more access to these goods and services.  They now have the right to choose between a plethora of competitive choices, instead of the previous government mandated “choice.”

Of course abortion isn’t simply about regulation.  It’s a very difficult topic that involves the potential life of a child versus the self-ownership a woman has over her body and uterus.  But government force and regulation don’t care.  It is non-biased and nonpartisan.  Government regulation of anything means less access, less competition, and higher costs to the consumer.

So if you’re a liberal today and you’re celebrating this decision, why stop there?  If less government regulation will allow more access, more competition, and more affordable abortion choices, why don’t we reduce regulations on everything else?

I’d start with the FDA.  Over-regulation from the FDA causes life saving drugs to stay off the market for years and raises the costs of drugs when they are approved.  This means people die from lack of access to these drugs, and poorer people can’t afford them when they are approved.  Can we get liberals on board to deregulating the FDA?

Or how about getting rid of the Department of Education?  More choices in education will allow people access to better education at a much lower price.  Especially for people living in poorer neighborhoods.  Often they’re stuck in terrible, government schools with no hope of a quality or safe education.

Of course we’ll never see the day where liberals will support less regulation in any other industry.  But I don’t understand why.  If abortion is a right that shouldn’t be messed with by government, shouldn’t healthcare and education be a right that shouldn’t be messed with by government?  Shouldn’t our right to choose be universal across all industries?  Or does it simply begin and end with abortion?

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Is the Federal Government About to Legalize Medical Marijuana?

By Mike Tront

According to this heavily criticized, and most likely misinformed article from the Santa Monica Observer, an unnamed source in the DEA is claiming on August 1st, 2016 marijuana will be legalized at the federal level for medical purposes.

I say misinformed because there is only one unnamed source and as yet there is no confirmation from anyone, anywhere.  I also find it hard to believe the DEA is just going to lie down and take this.  There’s just too much money in locking up and pursuing marijuana users and dealers.

However, I wouldn’t say this is completely out of the realm of possibility.  The tide is turning on the War on Drugs.  Marijuana is now legal in some form in 25 states and that number is only going up.  More and more states are legalizing recreational use as well.  From the point of view of the federal government, this is terrible.  Even with it still illegal at the federal level, it’s unpopular to go into these states and round up people like they used to.  Plus all these new industries are popping around growing, cultivating, and selling marijuana and they’re largely free from federal regulation and domination.

If I’m in the federal government, and I want to slow down this tidal wave of legal marijuana and this new wave of small, local businesses that service this industry but can’t and won’t spend millions lobbying me, what do I do?  I let the people have a little bit of extra freedom, while at the same time I take total control of the industry.

What would legal medical marijuana look like?

First of all, you will need a prescription to get your medical marijuana, just like any other drug.  Today in the states where medical marijuana is legal, you apply for a card that allows you to legally buy, hold, and grow a certain amount of marijuana.  It’s a fairly easy and affordable process.  Very few people are rejected.

Those days will be gone.  With the federal government looking over every doctor’s shoulder, expect more raids like this one on a doctor’s office for issuing too many pain relievers.  Doctor’s will become increasingly more frightened to issue prescriptions.  This means people who now get legal medical marijuana will find it harder to get legalized in the future with new federal standards.

The great news is that people who truly need marijuana for medical purposes will be able to get it.  The bad news is less people will be able to get it overall, and more doctors will be thrown in jail, fined, or have their license revoked.

Second of all, only big pharmacy companies will be able to manufacture and sell marijuana.  Just like pain pills, only pharmacies will be allowed to sell medical marijuana and only big companies with huge lobbying budgets will be able to produce it.  This puts the entire local medical marijuana industries out of business.  It also means smoking marijuana will probably stay illegal.  Big pharmacy companies will stick to edible marijuana and other forms of ingesting it, but not smoking.  Smoking is still dangerous and scary.  Not to mention big tobacco wouldn’t want more competition in that department.  We’re already seeing what they’re doing to the vape industry.

The rumor may not be true, but this is coming eventually.  The federal government has lost their war on drugs.  At some point they have to change their approach.  Part of me would be happy with this since it is the step in the right direction.  Part of me doesn’t like this because it would be a step toward government and lobbyist domination of the industry.  This may even stop or reverse the trend of states legalizing recreational marijuana use.

The people will win back a tiny bit of freedom, but the federal government is the big winner here.  The federal government gets to look compassionate toward sick people, they get to rake in piles of cash from pharmacy lobbies, and they still get to lock up and pursue non-violent, recreational marijuana users.  They get to have their cake and eat it too.  Worst of all, the pharmacy lobbies will never let recreational use become legal.  Our only hope is that the people still continue their fight at the state level to end the drug war one state at a time.

 

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The Impossibility of Income Equality

By Mike Tront

There’s an old William F. Buckley quote that I love – “I’m not going to insult your intelligence by suggesting that you believe what you just said.”  This is how I feel about people who claim to want income equality.  There are just too many problems with the idea that everyone should get paid the same regardless of their skill, work ethic, or contribution to society.  The problems are so numerous that I’m having a hard time imagining a person who truly believes income equality is necessary, or even possible.

Let’s imagine someone does believe this.  There’s a probably a few college freshmen who have never had a job in their life, whose parents pay for everything, that might hold this belief.  But they don’t count.  They still live in virtual reality.  I’m talking about an actual adult, with experience, who has been in the work force.  I have some honest questions.

Who gets the equality?

First serious question:  Is this income equality for everyone?  It wouldn’t be very equal if only certain people got the equality, right?  If I choose not to go to college and just get a nice, easy, low-stress job bagging groceries, or stocking shelves, do I get the equal pay?  If so, how is that fair to the person that worked their butt off in college?  The person that gets a job in a high-demand, high-stress field like a pilot or surgeon?  Or the person that gets a dangerous job like loggers and deep-sea fishers?  All these jobs have an enormous benefit to society, shouldn’t they get compensated more than me for simply bagging groceries?

If you’re advocating for everyone to get paid the same, but you concede that some classes of jobs should get paid more than others, then you’re not advocating for income equality anymore.  You’re advocating for free market capitalism!  In a free market, you get paid for the benefit you provide to your fellow people.  The more benefit you provide, and the more you help others, the more you get paid.

Do we all get paid the same every year?

Second question:  If you still believe that we should still all get paid the same regardless of our jobs, how do you factor in age in order to remain equal?  Let’s say we all get paid $50,000 a year, the person who is 50 years old will have 30 years of that $50,000 pay, but the person who is 20 will only have a couple years of that pay.  So the 50 year old will be vastly wealthier that the 20 year old.  That 50 year old would be able to have a much nicer house, a much nicer car, better food, better clothing, better vacations, etc.  How fair is that?

How will this new inequality be dealt with?

I guess this will be part two of question two:  How do we level things out since older people will have vastly more wealth than younger people?  Do we say that younger people should start out making $100,000 a year and gradually make less every year so things even out?  If that’s the case, it’s far from equal!  Now you’ll have some people making $100,000 a year and some people making $15,000.  Or we could simply tax older people more, but that would be the same thing.  They’d bring home less money than younger people thus making it unfair again.

What about investing and gambling?

Question three:  Would there be any form of investing or gambling allowed?  I’m assuming in this world there will be no such thing as investing.  After all, if you invest wisely you’ll make a lot more money than the person that doesn’t invest wisely or doesn’t invest at all.  The easiest way to solve this “problem” would be to ban investing.

How about gambling?  Same problem.  It would have to be outlawed in all forms.  We can’t have an option for someone to win the lottery or gamble their way into wealth.  That would be unfair to the rest of us!

What about people who don’t work?

Question four:  Do the people who don’t work get the same equal pay?  I’m sure you’d say that someone who has a terrible, debilitating disability would get the pay, but what about people who just say they can’t work?  People with back pain that can’t be easily verified?  Or people who have depression?  Or anxiety?  Or people who just claim they have these things?  Once we’ve crossed that bridge into people who have unverifiable injuries and disorders getting the pay, what’s going to stop more and more people getting their pay while not having to work?  Are we going to pay disabled people less in order to stop people from faking injuries or disorders?  We can’t do that, it would create more inequality.

Income equality is unavoidable and unsolvable.

Like most political issues, income equality is unsolvable.  There will always be people who have more wealth and income than others.  Even in a perfect system, the people who are older will simply have more due to the extra time they’ve spent alive.

This is how politicians like it though.  They don’t want to deal with solvable problems.  They need to pick issues that will always need their benevolent assistance.  This is called job security.  If problems got solved, politicians wouldn’t be necessary!

The only fair system is a free market.  You get paid for what you provide to society.  The more you provide, the more you get paid.  The less you provide, the less you get paid.  What could be more fair than that?

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Insurance Companies: Unlikely Heroes Against Police Brutality

By Mike Tront

I’ve had this on my mind for a while, then the other day I stumbled onto this: Group Want Minneapolis Police to Carry Liability Insurance

A group called Committee for Professional Policing isn’t happy that taxpayers are picking up the tab. They believe that forcing cops to carry their own private insurance — the same way that doctors and plumbers do — would make bad cops think twice before beating down on civilians.

“It’s going to make Minneapolis a safer place to live because people are not going to have to interact with officers who aren’t held accountable to their actions, and they act knowing that,” says CfPP spokesman Cole Yates.

Under their proposal, the city would pay for the base rate of insurance, and the officer would have to pay for anything over the base rate if they are high risk.  This type of rule has many hurdles to jump through to get passed and you can believe there will be a union fight.  However, just 15 years ago we’d never imagine a world with legalized marijuana.  But today we’re about to have marijuana legalized in some manner in most states.

Currently, cities and municipalities have insurance to cover them in many lawsuits that involve police misconduct.  For a while I thought that growing lawsuits would force these cities to change how they hire and fire officers.  This seems much less likely to happen though.  After all, even if insurance companies raise their premiums for lawsuit protection from police misconduct, all that happens is that the extra cost falls on the taxpayers.  No one in the government or police department individually is paying.  So nothing changes.  We need the actual officers to be on the hook for their own misconduct for things to change in a major way.

So would this stop or reduce police abuse?  I think so.  Most police officers are regular people like you and I who are just doing a job.  They have no desire to get in a physical altercation with an unarmed, nonviolent person.  But like any job, there are always going to be a few bad apples.  In fact, according to this Chicago Tribune article:  Small Group of Chicago Police Cost City Millions in Settlements

Both are part of a small group of officers — just 124 of the city’s police force of roughly 12,000 — who were identified in nearly a third of the misconduct lawsuits settled since 2009, suggesting that officers who engaged in questionable behavior did it over and over. The Tribune’s investigation also found that 82 percent of the department’s officers were not named in any settlements. Still, the conduct of those 124 officers cost the city $34 million, the Tribune investigation found.

Sure, bad cops are bad cops and they will do harm regardless of any of this.  Just like actual criminals, they’re not thinking of the consequences of their actions.  But, when any indication pops up that someone might be a lawsuit risk, his insurance premium will pop up too!  Very quickly he will lose his insurance and be unable to continue being a police officer.

With so much at stake, I imagine insurance companies would take steps to prevent the hiring of high risk people in the first place.  Much like auto insurance companies check into your past before insuring you, I can see where an officer might get to the point of being hired by a police department but get rejected by the insurance company for having indications of being high risk.

In a perfect world, the officers responsible for abuse would simply be fired and/or thrown in jail.  But since the state has a monopoly, the entire system is on the same team.  Prosecutors, judges, unions, and legislators have a notoriously hard time getting rid of or punishing even the most abusive of officers.  In the face of all of life’s problems, the free market always finds a way though.  For this problem caused by government monopoly and apathy for our safety, the free market is fighting back with insurance companies!

 

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Yes Purists, Gary Johnson is Great for the Movement

By Mike Tront

To the chagrin of many in the liberty movement, the Libertarian Party has decided to go with two former Republicans on their Presidential ticket.  Just being a former Republican isn’t necessarily bad.  Some Republicans like Ron Paul, Justin Amash, and Thomas Massie are about as libertarian as one can get while being involved in politics.

The biggest issue people are having is that Gary Johnson and William Weld are simply not libertarian enough.

It’s true that Johnson doesn’t have the hatred for government that most libertarians have.  But what Johnson does offer to the average voters are reasonable, “sane” ways for the President to roll back government intervention in all areas of our lives.  Personally, nothing would make me happier than to have a principled, consistent libertarian voice at the head of the Libertarian Party who can clearly, confidently, and convincingly sell the masses on giving up their government goodies in favor of unbridled freedom.  However, Tom Woods didn’t seek the nomination this year.  And the more consistent libertarians that were seeking the nomination were basically “Internet Famous” libertarians.

So that brings me to this:

Would you rather have a guy who is 85% libertarian but gets a ton of media attention, or a guy who is 100% libertarian but gets little or no attention?

To a lot of libertarians it’s all or nothing, baby!  Give me Liberty or give me Death!  I disagree.  I can’t help the movement if I’m dead.  If the Libertarian Party keeps getting 1% in the elections, and can hardly maintain ballet access in many states, they’re pretty much dead to the world.  If that’s the case, why even have a Libertarian Party?

To defend the Libertarian Party, I think of it as market segmentation.  In the marketing world, companies realize that there are many different kinds of consumers in the world. They often look at specific markets and offer products/services tailored to that specific market.  One example of market segmentation is in the auto world.  Car companies know that different people have different budgets, tastes, and needs for vehicles, so they offer many different lines of vehicles to attempt to have a vehicle that will fit into everyone’s budget and fill everyone’s need.  How many cars would they sell if they just offered one car for one price?  Even if they believed it was the “perfect” car?

As a movement, we need to have our fingers in as many pies as possible.  We have a plethora of amazing, consistent libertarians writing books, getting media, producing podcasts, and genuinely furthering the cause of freedom.  The Libertarian Party is a gateway drug into that world.  Of course that doesn’t mean the Libertarian Party can just throw a Trump type person up there just to get a few extra votes.  Same as a car company can’t sell a bicycle and say it’s a car.  They at least need something with 4 wheels, a roof, an engine, an interior, heat, etc.  And we need someone who genuinely believes that less government is better than more government representing the Libertarian Party.

What Johnson/Weld ticket is going to do, that a perfect 100% libertarian can’t do, is peak the curiosity of the average voter.  None of us started out as 100% libertarian.  We all started somewhere.  So think of yourself as an average voter.  You know little or nothing about libertarianism.  The Libertarian Party then decides to nominate the most libertarian person in the room: Darryl W. Perry.  Perry is an awesome, principled, consistent libertarian.  I can’t think of a platform of his I disagree with.  However, to the average American and to the media, how much serious attention is he going to get with no name recognition and a platform that literally says “that the United States government, as it exists today, should be abolished!”  Not to mention he only accepts campaign donations in the form of Bitcoin and/or precious metals.  Hearing that, after 12 years in a government school and watching biased media all your life, what are you going to think?  I know I would have dismissed it right out.  It took me time to go from there to here.

The fact is the Libertarian Party is a political party.  They are not a social club.  They are not a philosophy club.  Their job isn’t to give The Nolan Chart to every potential candidate and simply pick who scores the best.  Their job is to find candidates who want to shrink the government and roll back oppression.  Preferably candidates who have the best shot at winning, getting press, piquing interest in Liberty, and influencing the people who do win into having a more libertarian agenda.

If you’re a full blown libertarian like me, our job is to help these new people who are coming into the movement from this campaign season.  They are going to talk to us on Twitter, on Facebook, on Reddit.  And maybe even in real life!  They will listen to our podcasts.  How can we keep them in the movement?  One thing I can say for sure is this:  if our attitude is that we are holier than thou, or if we call people stupid because they don’t completely grasp every aspect of how terrible government is, we will lose them just like I would have been lost had I been talked down to in the beginning of my discovery.

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What Would it Look Like if the Federal Government Outlawed Abortion?

By Mike Tront

Abortion is a tough subject.  Both sides have a strong case and both sides make valid points.  This is not going to be another article about whether or not the government should outlaw abortion, or whether it should be up to the individual states, but I just want to answer this question:

What would it look like if the federal government outlawed abortion?

Like all laws, it will be broken.  Just because the government outlaws something, it doesn’t magically stop happening.  The first consequence of this ban would be that otherwise law abiding and tax paying people will be jailed for a long time.

But how would we know who is getting abortions?  Abortions are much like drug and prostitution “crimes.”  When those “crimes” happen, there’s no victims to report the “crime” like a murder, robbery, or assault.  Under this law the fetus is the victim, but the parents and doctors involved in the abortion won’t report themselves.  So how do we know who is getting abortions?  How do we enforce this ban?  We would need some sort of government agency for abortions for the same reasons they have a DEA and ATF.

For an effective ban, the first step is that every pregnancy would have to be registered with the government.  When a woman goes to the doctor and finds out the good news, that doctor would be bound by law to report this pregnancy to the new federal department along with all the Mom’s information.  Without this intrusion, how else can they effectively find out who is getting abortions?

But it doesn’t stop there.

Every birth right now is recorded with a birth certificate and nearly every baby is given a social security number.  But with the abortion ban in place, every birth would also have to be registered federally in the baby database to be matched against all reported pregnancies.  If you got entered in this database when you got pregnant, but 9 months later there isn’t a birth, you’ve got a problem.  Now the agency has cause to believe you may be guilty of an abortion.

Unfortunately miscarriages are a terrible fact of life.  It is a tragic, private matter.  With this law though, it’s now a government matter too.  After all, how do we know this wasn’t intentional in some way?  How do we know you didn’t have an abortion and call it a miscarriage?

For any kind of abortion ban to work, EVERY miscarriage would have to be scrutinized and investigated.

If you have miscarriage symptoms and you go the doctor and find out your worst fears are true, what happens next?  Can the doctor simply take care of you?  Not with this ban in place.  There would need to be a government agent at every hospital and doctor’s office for this very case.  This government agent would need to verify that there was no foul play involved here before you can be treated.  Basically a coroner for fetuses.  Without this integral government agent, there would be a huge loophole.  Any pregnant woman could collude with a doctor to get an abortion and just call it a miscarriage.  Who would know otherwise?

Like all government police agents, it is their job to find guilty people.  If an agent has been on the job for a year and hasn’t found one suspicious miscarriage, do you think he’ll still have a job?  Hell no.  It is his job to find guilty people and he will do whatever it takes to beef up with arrest numbers.  Police who don’t bust people don’t keep their jobs.  If you happen to be a doctor, or a patient who suffers the misfortune of a miscarriage, be prepared to be treated and questioned like a criminal.

Like all government bans, there are going to be unintended consequences.  In this case, a huge federal bureaucracy would have to be created to track every pregnancy in the United States.  There would be massive costs. Like all government programs, mistakes would be made, data entered incorrectly, and people will be prosecuted who are guilty of nothing except for being incorrectly entered in a database or suffering the misfortune of having a miscarriage.

The question we never ask ourselves is this:  If we’re willing to get the government involved in something, are we willing to live with the intrusion to our privacy, our wallets, and our freedoms that will inevitably follow?

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The Inherent Racism of War

By Mike Tront

This topic has been on my mind for a while, and with the recent New York Times article about Obama being at war longer than any other president in history, it’s time to write this out.  First though, from the above article:

If the United States remains in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria until the end of Mr. Obama’s term — a near-certainty given the president’s recent announcement that he will send 250 additional Special Operations forces to Syria — he will leave behind an improbable legacy as the only president in American history to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.

Mr. Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and spent his years in the White House trying to fulfill the promises he made as an antiwar candidate, would have a longer tour of duty as a wartime president than Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon or his hero Abraham Lincoln.

Slaughtering innocent people is horrible, especially for a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, but why is it inherently racist?

It’s very simple, if you truly believe a war is just, so much so that you think it justifies killing innocent people, I have one question for you:  If this justifiable war didn’t kill one innocent person in another country, but somehow ONLY killed innocent Americans, would it still be justifiable?

Let’s get specific.  So far in Afghanistan around 26,000 civilian deaths have been recorded as a direct result of the war since 2001.  Another 91,000 have been injured.  Another 360,000 have been killed as an indirect result of the war.  These are innocent civilians.  Not terrorists, not soldiers, not militants.  Just the civilians.

War apologists usually say something along the lines of “those innocent deaths are not our fault, it’s their government or local terrorist group that’s holding them hostage and using them as human shields who are to blame!”

There may be some truth to the human shields argument, but that doesn’t justify killing the innocent people involved!  In America, if the police suspect a fugitive is in a particular apartment building, they are not justified in bombing the entire building in order to kill that dangerous fugitive!  We expect the police to apprehend the suspect while preserving the lives and property of the innocent people, even though it would be much easier to just drop a bomb and be done with it.  Why?  Because our innocent lives have value.

Even in a direct hostage situation in America, negotiating is always the first step.  Bombing the building is never considered.  In fact, in either situation we’d all much rather let the fugitive escape and save the innocent people, rather than kill the innocent along with the fugitive.

However, the war apologist will still insist the anti-war crowd is simply naive and there’s no way around killing innocent people.  In Afghanistan, the Taliban had to be defeated and Bin Laden had to be caught.  Well, lets suppose they’re right.  Let’s suppose there was no other way to achieve those ends without a war and the number of innocent people dying was and is unavoidable collateral damage.

If you argue that the war is necessary, but the cost of this current war in Afghanistan didn’t cost one innocent Afghan person, but somehow killed 26,000 innocent Americans directly, wounded 91,000 innocent Americans, and indirectly killed another 360,000 innocent American men, women, and children, would you consider that okay?

If you say either way it’s worth it as long as you don’t know any of the people being killed on either side, then you’re not racist, you’re just okay with murdering innocent people if you agree with the ends.

If you say it’s not worth it if the innocent people dying are Americans, then what you’re saying is that an innocent life in another country is simply worth less than the life of an American.  Downgrading the value of the life of someone else simply because they are a different race/nationality is what leads an average person to sit idly by while their government slaughters, plunders, enslaves, and destroys the population of another land.  I can’t image a worse form of racism on this Earth.

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Uber in Austin: Another Win for Regulators and a Loss For Everyone Else

By Mike Tront

If you haven’t heard, as of this week (May 2016) the people of Austin, Texas will no longer have Uber or Lyft to use to get around town.  The city recently passed several regulations that would regulate these ride-sharing companies in the same way that taxis are regulated.  Uber and Lyft, as a response to these regulations, promised to cease operations in the city if the laws weren’t overturned.  The decision went to the voters, and the voters upheld the new laws.  Now Uber and Lyft no longer offer their much needed and desired services to the people who use them.  10,000 drivers are now out of work as well.

Most people think we need government to pass common sense regulations to keep us all safe.  However, as Uber and Lyft have shown, industries can self-regulate much cheaper and more efficiently than government.  In fact, Uber alone has several self-imposed regulations it requires before you can become a driver.  Drivers go through background checks.  They need a clean driving record.  They must have 3 years driving experience.  They need insurance, a vehicle inspection, etc.  You can view the full list here.

This efficient, self-regulation has been the main reason these companies have grown so quickly.  Government regulated taxis, on the other hand, have done nothing to innovate the industry.  Prices keep going up, and the quality of the service stays the same or gets worse.

With ride-sharing companies, we can open an app on our phone and visually see every driver on the road and where they are.  We can have a ride come to us in minutes.  Not to mention we can rate our drivers!  This dramatically reduces drivers that are rude, smelly, play music we don’t like, drive erratically, etc. If you get bad ratings people will choose not to use you.  If they get low enough Uber can simply stop working with you.  In fact, customers can get rated by drivers too!  This feedback makes the entire system safer for drivers and passengers all around.

Even with all this innovation, the price is cheaper than a taxi.  Why?  Because they operate outside of the realm of taxi regulations.  Now in Austin they no longer have that option.  Now the background checks that these companies already perform, out of their own self-interest for providing a safe environment for their customers, isn’t enough.  Now they have to do fingerprinting of their drivers too.  This is much more costly, but also much more time consuming.  Often taking weeks to months in some cases.  Not to mention it is a turn off to many prospective drivers who simply don’t want to be treated like a criminal just to get a job.  This reduces and delays the supply of drivers, which drives up the costs for everyone.

Clearly some people want this regulation in place or the law wouldn’t have been passed and upheld, right?  Very true, but this is why the market is a beautiful thing.  For those who want fingerprinted drivers, they can already go with taxis!  But here is the hypocrisy of the entire situation.  These people don’t want taxis.  They want Uber.  They want Lyft.  They know they are already safer, cleaner, and more efficient.  They want all the good stuff the free market provides.  They want all of this, but they have a  fear that if the government isn’t involved it can’t possibly be safe.  Yet they don’t like taxis.  Somehow, they think all the low costs, innovation, and customer service these ride-sharing companies provide will still be there after the government gets its claws in.  They want to have their cake and eat it too.  Thanks to these busybodies, now no one gets their cake in Austin, Texas.

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Road Socialism is Killing Us

By Mike Tront – Support Mike on Patreon

It is far from settled in the libertarian community if it is possible, or advisable, to get government out of the road business.  One thing we know for sure is that right now around 30,000 people die on government roads yearly in the U.S. alone.  We can argue that many of these deaths could not be stopped regardless of who owns or maintains the roads.  However, given the nature of lawsuits and customer relations, I find it hard to believe that private companies, who don’t have lawsuit immunity like the government, and who wouldn’t have the power of a government monopoly, could get away with this amount of deadly service.

Case in point: this article caught my eye and is the inspiration for this post.  New York Man Arrested for Cutting Wires to Red Light Cameras After Exposing Government Revenue Scheme.

At first I thought it was just an article about some guy who doesn’t like those pesky red light cameras, so he disables them so we all get less tickets.  But the article starts out hitting you right in the face with this:

“A New York man known as the Red Light Robin Hood was arrested again this month after cutting wires to red light cameras where yellow light duration times were shortened by the city in order to generate more citations and revenue.

The shortened durations at the traffic lights generate $32 million for Suffolk County, which is why the county allows the practice to continue despite their own study showing they lead to an increase in accidents with injuries.”

The government, whose sole job is to protect us from harm and protect our rights from being violated, is intentionally causing injury and death to its very own citizens on the roads, when the people have no recourse to use another road company or even sue for damages.  The hero in this story isn’t just some guy disabling red light cameras because he feels like getting away with running red lights, he’s risking his life and liberty to save lives and draw attention to the problems of this terrible, government road management.

Originally when I read this article, I was going to use a few quotes from it in my weekly free newsletter “This Week in Hypocrisy.”  If you’re not a subscriber please sign up in the form below the article!  Every week I pick out some of the best hypocrisy in the news and add in a few sentence commentary.  This story, however, requires its own post!

The big take away here is that in this county they are shortening the yellow light time from 5 seconds to 3 seconds in order to generate more tickets.  Of course this is only happening on the intersections with the cameras, and there’s some evidence that the cameras are mostly placed in the lower and middle class communities, and not in the upper class part of town.  Big surprise, right?

Could you imagine any private company doing something like this and getting away with it?  Even when companies have practices that unintentionally cause injuries and/or death they are sued and forced to change their practices.  Many times a mistake like this would mean bankruptcy and possibly the end of the business.  At the very least it means lost market share.  This also signals other companies in the industry to stop the practice and improve their business before they get sued as well.

In this case, the government road owners are intentionally changing yellow light times to generate more revenue.  The fact that this also causes more accidents, injuries, and death doesn’t seem to matter.  And whey should it?  Can they be sued?  Even if they could, it’s just tax money they’d be paying out anyway.  Is anyone going to lose their job?  Ha!  Is anyone personally liable?  Hell no!

What would happen if WalMart intentionally made their shelves very unstable, thus resulting in the slightest touch causing merchandise to fall down and break?  This could then allow them strong arm you into paying for merchandise you broke.  That practice alone would put them out of business since customers would shop elsewhere.  But what if this policy also caused injuries and deaths from the falling merchandise and shelves?  They’d be sued into oblivion.

I’m not saying all businesses are perfect and all business owners are angels who would never have harmful practices and policies.  There would certainly be bad road companies here and there.  But like all socialized industries, whether it’s public schools, the police, or the roads, we just get worse and worse service and the costs just keep going up and up.  No one is personally liable and no one loses their job, their money, or their freedom.  In the free market, those bad business owners are liable.  They lose money, their business, and possibly their freedom if they have harmful practices.

Meanwhile, in the market place, competition and relative freedom has given us a boom in technology.  The quality of technology keeps up, and the prices keep going down.

So why not privatize the roads?  I know we can all think of objections like “more potholes,” “more tickets,” “more restrictions,” “more traffic” etc.  But the opposite is true.

muhroads1

Owners would have incentive to keep their roads clean, keep traffic moving, keep roads maintained, and not ticket, suspend, or otherwise restrict drivers unless they pose a hazard to other paying customers.

But all that aside, the one thing that matters most is injuries/death.  If nothing else gets better under private road ownership, there’s no way we can argue MORE people will die.  Every accident that is caused by a pot hole is a lawsuit.  Every injury caused by failing to clear ice and snow off the road in a timely manner is a lawsuit.  Every injury caused by the road owner knowingly allowing a dangerous driver to us the road is a lawsuit.  Heck, even if an accident happens that’s in no way the road owner’s fault, if the owner fails to dispatch the proper rescue team to the scene in a timely manner they could be held liable for injuries or death as a result of waiting.

All these incentives to not be sued and be put out of business would bring out the best innovation possible to give us, the customers, the safest and quickest experience possible while we’re traveling.

mike

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Government is Turning College into High School

By Mike Tront – Support Mike on Patreon

It would take a miracle for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination at this point, let alone the presidency.  One of his main ideas though, the idea that College should be free for Americans, is not going away anytime soon.

Just like healthcare, constant government regulation and intervention is making college more and more expensive every year.  Students are taking out huge government-backed loans to pay for their education, and the costs keep going up as more easy money enters the system.  Eventually the student loan bubble will bust, and this will be the excuse the government needs to step in and “fix” things.

You don’t have to look too far to find articles and studies on why the Bernie free college plan will be an economic and financial disaster.  But the huge taxpayer liability isn’t necessarily the worst part.  The worst part is that making college free will totally decimate the quality of higher education and it will keep the poor, poor and the rich, rich.

pjquote

Let’s imagine Bernie gets his wish.  To start, most Americans will be eligible for government to pay for their college education.  To paraphrase the above O’Rourke quote:  If you think college is expensive now, just wait until it’s free!  Now that government is footing the bill, why wouldn’t college’s, and the various industries that go with them (books, school supplies, housing) up their costs even more?  Sure, the college’s that would be eligible for the free money will be “public” or “non-profit,” but since when has that been an impediment to making tremendous profits?  (The NFL and the Clinton Foundation are both “non-profit” organizations!)

Once this gets out of hand, the government will have two choices:  Either completely leave the field of funding and regulating higher education (Ha!) or completely socializing it.  I think we all know what path legislators will take.

Socializing higher education, in order to keep costs down and to make it “fair” for everyone, would have to look something like our current public school system.  First, you’d only be allowed to go to your local neighborhood college for free.  The costs of you choosing your college and the government paying for housing and travel will just get too high.  Not to mention, what happens if everyone wants to go to the same colleges?  There’s only so much room at each school, so to make it “fair” you’d be forced to go to your local government college.

So if you grow up poor and in a bad neighborhood, the option of working your way up and out is gone.  Previously, you could work your way through college, get some grants and/or loans, then you’d have a shot at a better life.  Now, unless you can afford housing in a better college district, you’re stuck.  And just like now, the poorer the neighborhood you live in, the worse the education you’re going to get.  Good luck getting a high paying job with your “Detroit Public College” degree.

How far does this “right” to free college go?

What if I’m a bad student and I’m constantly failing my classes?  What if I want to come back in 10 years when I’m finally serious about my education? Is there an age limit on my “right” to a free education?  Can the government deny me my “right” to free college then?

How about graduate school?  Who pays for that?  Is it fair that only the wealthy will get to become doctors, lawyers, dentists, and other high paying professions?  And if grad school is a “right” too, shouldn’t anyone get to go regardless of their aptitude or previous grades?

What if I want to major in two subjects?  Is that allowed for free?  Or will double majors just be for the wealthy?  Again, free college is a “right” so why shouldn’t I be allowed to go to school indefinitely, constantly changing or adding majors?

These are all questions that will not be decided by you and me on an individual and voluntary basis, but they will be decided by bureaucrats and legislators.  And you’re stuck following their decisions and paying for their decisions whether you like them or not.

If you’re a free college supporter, I’m sure you’re going to argue that many countries already have free college education, so why not America?

The reason many other countries can afford free college is two fold:  First they have much lower rates of people actually going to college, which leads to the second fold:  many occupations in European countries simply don’t require a college degree like in the U.S.  Apprenticeship and on the job training is still an important part of many industries in Europe, just like it used to be in America when someone with a high school degree could have a quality standard of living, and have an opportunity to move up in life if they choose.

The fact is, the results of offering free college to all Americans regardless of grades, aptitude, or ability to actually apply such an education will result in another failed socialized industry that will stagnate and just cost more over time.  Most Americans will get stuck in a local, government college that will eventually offer little more than what high school did.  Thus is the nature of a government monopoly.  We get a worse product at a much higher cost to everyone.

The only people who will be able to escape this system will be the wealthy, of course.  Just like all socialist policies, this will make it that much harder for someone on the bottom to move up in life, and it will protect the people currently at the top.

 

mike

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Why Should Government Keep Bigots in Business?

By Mike Tront – Support Mike on Patreon

If you haven’t seen the movie “Inglourious Basterds,” it’s by far Quentin Tarantino‘s best work.  It follows a group of Jewish allied fighters during WWII behind German lines, constantly ambushing and killing as many Nazi’s as possible.  In one powerful scene, after another successful ambush on an enemy unit, a few enemies are left alive and given the option of giving intel on the whereabouts of another unit, or dying.  After one soldier proudly refuses the offer, he gruesomely dies for his country.  The last soldier promptly gives the Basterds the information they want.

But the powerful part of the scene happened when Brad Pitt’s character asks the now free soldier what he’s going to do with his uniform after the war.  “Burn it!” he proclaims.  Pitt doesn’t like that answer.  He explains once the uniform is gone, no one will know he is a Nazi, and he likes his Nazi’s out in the open right where he can see them.  He then uses his knife to carve a large Swastika in his forehead.  For the rest of his life everyone will know he is a Nazi.

So how does this relate to today?  Well, this is exactly how I view bigoted people and businesses.  I like them right out in the open for the world to see.  Individually, it’s pretty easy.  Once you start talking to someone, a bigoted person will tend to show their true nature.  You can then decide for yourself if this is the kind of person you’d like to associate with or not.

With businesses it becomes harder.  Why?  Because it’s against the law for a business to be bigoted against a certain race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.  On the surface, as libertarians, this isn’t all bad.  We believe everyone has the same rights and justice is blind.  It was a terrible time in the U.S. when segregation was the law of the land.

But the fact is, segregation only existed because it was the LAW.  In a free society, segregated businesses just can’t compete.  Why do you think it had to become a law in the first place?  Because without government forcing segregation, it is very hard to stay in business if you want to be segregated or bigoted.

The cost of being a bigoted business in a free market would be so great, in fact, that it would be virtually impossible to stay open.

Obviously losing customers is a huge cost.  Not just from the people they are intentionally refusing to serve, but also from people who will refuse to support a bigoted business.  But that’s just the beginning of the losses, as it definitely wouldn’t be free to enforce their bigotry!

Bigoted business would have to hire more security.  Just having a sign that says “No Jews” isn’t enough.  They’d need someone at the door enforcing that sign.  When it’s the government law, the owner just has to call the police and let the taxpayers pay for the enforcement.  Not so in a free market.  You’re responsible for your own security.

discrimination2

Now you have to find a security company that’s willing to enforce whatever ban you’re instituting.  How many security companies are willing to take the risk of guarding and enforcing a bigoted business?  They’d charge you more than the average company I’m sure.  Not just because of the added risk of confrontation, but also such a security company likely wouldn’t get much other business once they’re known for supporting bigots.  Not to mention this company couldn’t hire anyone from the group this business is trying to keep away!

How about insurance?  How many insurance companies want to be in bed with bigoted companies?  Even if you found one, the cost would be huge since so few companies would be willing to compete in the field of insuring bigots!  Being an openly bigoted business, they are risking possible vandalism and property damage from angry people and protesters.  This would all also add to the cost of insurance.

Libertarians tend to focus on property rights when it comes to discrimination.  Because of this they often have to concede the fact that in a free market, some forms of business discrimination could take place.  This is one of the prices of freedom, we correctly say.  Predictably, this tends to drive away many potential friends and allies who happen to belong to groups that have a history of being discriminated against by government agencies.  Ironically, however, many who belong to these groups often clamor for MORE government.  Plus all this gives fodder for pundits, mostly liberal, to claim that libertarians are racist, sexist, etc, etc.

However, this is not true.  We know that a free market keeps these bigots out of business.  Right now, we have a system that forces bigoted business owners to serve the people they hate, thus making these bigots wealthy and keeping them in business!

My question is:  if we really want to eliminate the influence of bigoted people in society, why is the government keeping them in business?

 

mike

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