Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mandatory Service (Youth Chain Gangs?) is a Crime Against Liberty

There's some talk that the President believes we can do good in the world by conscripting our youth and forcing them to do good for us. That is, using the power of the state, we old folks force younger folks to spend years of their lives - after the age of majority when they SHOULD have all the right and priviledges which they were endowed by their creator - doing that which we judge to be a better use of their lives than what they would choose on their own.

I hope this idea gets the reception it deserves. "National Service," or whatever they will choose to brand it as, is so repugnant to liberty as to be beneath comtempt.

There's simply no deed that we can compel these age slaves to do that will justify this assault on liberty - and there's absolutely NO reason to believe that we they may be compelled to do will be of significant value. I see this as a frontal assault on liberty compounded by what is likely to be a massive loss in productivity - that is, these people would accomplish more working in their own interest for the same period of time compared to what they will complish when they are compelled to work against it.

The military has long since figured out that compulsory service is a loser's game. I have been in combat zones in the desert, in the air, and on a flight deck dodging jet exhaust and intakes - each time my life was literally in the hands of highly trained, technically competent and very responsible professional enlisted Sailors and Soldiers. My soft pink body is still here today because of their ability to manage immense responsibility OF THEIR OWN CHOOSING! In fact, they had to perform with distinction at lower levels of responsibility to earn the chance to keep me (and each other) alive by their performance at higher levels of responsibility. That is why 78% of US kids are not eligible to serve in the military - the standards are high and they should be high.

So assuming we go down the path to tyranny with some "Nation Service" or indentured servitude or youth slavery or conscripted chain gangs - what's the difference in a name? - what will they do with the ones that don't get up and go to work? What about the ones that cuss out or punch their supervisors? What about drug testing? How about the folks with 'personality disorders' who are simply unable (unwilling?) to perform? How will excellence be rewarded and lazyness, incompetence and inability to perform be disincentivized? The entire idea of using force to create anything of value - holy cow people, have they just never read anything about history?! We can't crush them under massive granite blocks to scare them into a good day's work - or can we??

I remember an argument being made that we could conscript the best and brightest and send them to inner city schools as teachers to make schools better ... what better argument could be made for the complete failure of the Coercive Government Monopoly School system than to say that we have to enslave people to save the schools!

This concept is too bizzarre to consider. What are these people thinking? I can't only assume they have been thinking around the concept of how to use government to solve life's problems for so long that they forgot that freedom has a value, and creates solutions to the most significant of life's problems - we spent all of modern history (the recorded part) trying to get ourselves to the point of being able to run our own lives, and now are rushing headlong to to abandon that same freedom. Well, most of us will have to abandon freedom for the sake of the 'common good' or 'social contract' (did you ever sign that contract, by the way? I've never even been asked to) or for 'equality' or some other buzz word that means "I'm justified in forcing you to do what I think is right." And while you and I abandon freedom for the good of the whole, the political class - take a look at places where this bill of goods has been sold, the political class still has the good stuff. The sacrifice little for the common good. As was written, 'some are more equal than others.'

I'm conceptually offended even by the talk of "National Service" but the outrage will be universal once folks see what a complete train wreck they've commissioned if the thing is ever born. I'm wondering what will be the best country to escape to when that day comes, so I can protect my progeny from this madness.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Blue skies, warriors"

Four dead officers, their families left to grieve. I want to grieve but I also celebrate. These men chose to stand between evil and good, and because they did, there's one less evil man out there preying on 12 year old girls or whomever else he can find. I don't know if there's any comfort in that to their families, but somewhere this week, their pain, their loss, will mean evil wasn't visited upon some unknown and unknowing benefactor. As my friend Joey would say, "Blue skies, warriors."

Real Change ... Or the Same Old Thing?

Professor Beaudreaux is particularly effective (in my humble as ever opinion) at conveying a lot of economics with a few lines of description. His 'mining' of these letters shows he's good at finding the same ability in others, also.

Equality - it's a buzzword that means "we're going to trick the uneducated masses into thinking we're helping them by increasing our (politicians and those who politicians are indebted to) power, taking money from those whom we can perjoratively identify as "wealthy" or "rich," and spending same to assure our re-election." There is and can never be equality of outcomes, nor should we try, as equality of outcomes is driven by factors beyond human control, and far far beyond government control. If we must attempt to create equality of outcomes, the first step is to quit pretending the coercive government monopoly (CGM) on education can succeed. "Real change" isn't continuing the trend of spending more money on worse outcomes in CGM schools, real change would be to purposefully seek a better option.

At any rate, since we know that's not going to happen, as no one really can stomach 'real change', I think the comments below point out the hazards of believing government propaganda about so-called inequality.

The Latest from Cafe Hayek <>
On Inequality (by Don Boudreaux) <>
Posted: 23 Mar 2009 12:26 PM PDT
I applaud these two letters-to-the-editor <> appearing in today's Wall Street Journal:
In regard to the appearance of French economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez in President Barack Obama's budget ("The Obama Rosetta Stone <> ," by Daniel Henninger, Wonder Land, March 12): In their use of statistics of the top 1% of income earners, Messrs. Piketty and Saez make the same false assumptions that the Internal Revenue Service does. In 1980 income disparity began to take off in the U.S. leaving the top 1% of income earners with a greater share of the income pie. Like the IRS, these French economists use "household" income as their measure.
But consider that 1980 was about the time when large percentages of college-educated women began to enter the workforce. Many of these professional women would go on to marry other professionals. This in effect created a doubling of "household" income for many families.
At the same time out-of-wedlock birth rates and divorce began to skyrocket creating large percentages of single-parent households. It should be no surprise that a two income household has a much higher income than a single-income household even if all workers make exactly the same income.
Surgeons will always make more than janitors, as anyone who has ever gone "under the knife" will agree with, and their income should not be distorted because they are married to a fellow surgeon.
My working wife and I often find ourselves in this 1% bracket, but if we were to divorce we would never come close. It's ironic that the left decries the income disparity between men and women, but in the instance when women earn equal pay it is used to inflame class warfare.
Steve Walde
Easton, Conn.

President Obama's new era of responsibility budget makes it clear that 5% of the population (the rich) must assume more financial responsibility for the other 95%. Fair enough, but is there some new responsibility that the other 95% also must assume? If not, that seems somewhat irresponsible.
Efforts to countermand the laws of nature to create a completely fair society mean forcing equality of outcomes, an end result that isn't fair, healthy or sustainable. History tells us that this type of class warfare never has a happy ending.
R.D. Shipley
Stamford, Conn.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Letter to my Congressional Delegation

I wonder which of the poor staff persons will have to read it.

Dear Sir,
I am writing to make a simple case that the AIG exec bonus payments are the least of the issues that trouble me about the trajectory of our government. It was completely predictable and of no surprise whatsoever that in handing out money which is coercively extracted from its citizenry, that money would be given to the wrong persons for the wrong reasons with the wrong outcomes. This always happens when government takes the Freeman's money and distributes same in an 'effort to do good.' This abuse of trust is part and parcel of the coercive power of the government, and I might point out that coercion is the only tool of government and therefore federal power was justifiably and strictly limited in our Constitution. I see the current situation as a natural and predictable result of the removal of many Constitutional limits over the course of our nation’s history.

How much money has our federal government forcibly extracted (on pain of imprisonment) from the citizenry and either fully wasted, or given to business interests in the form of subsidy, or given to other citizens (such as the shareholders and employees of AIG and the Big 3) in a pure extraction/transfer fashion? How much money do we the citizenry lose each year through the fraudulent abuse of government 'entitlement' programs? How much of our money is lost in mis-management in federally funded colleges, universities, and public elementary and secondary schools? Where is the money which was extracted from us as a payroll tax (purportedly to be doled back to us, if we live long enough, in our old age), and for what purpose was that money spent? How much in federal money has been wasted, either by incompetence or because it is an impossible mission, on the ‘War on Drugs’? In the light of the incalculable waste that has been inflicted on the supposedly free citizens of our nation by past and present politicians, making political calculations, which have vastly exceeded 100 Enrons, 50 Fannie and Freddies, and a month’s worth of AIGs (not to mention the role of the government in the fantastic failures of these institutions), I can only view the current kerfuffle over a few million in bonus payments as an attempt at distraction. The true outrage of government abuse of the citizenry exceeds this event by an amount the average person can not calculate or even conceive. Viewed with the slightest sense of perspective, I cannot view the current fuss over AIG bonus payments with any outrage; I do however wish that AIG bonuses approximated the worst of what has been done to us.

I assume we are not seeing stronger leadership from the GOP on the issue of leadership because both sides have dirty hands. This makes me wonder if it is possible to reverse the ugly trend of the present towards more government intervention and therefore more of the coercive power of the state applied in the lives of my fellow citizens, in my life, and in my children’s lives. I am a natural optimist but I cannot find any optimism that more government is going to make life better for our citizenry. I ask that you consider how the present trend may be interrupted and moved back towards more liberty.

I ask for your continued assistance in seeking ways to scale back the authority and power of the federal government, and to focus the your efforts on the fundamental charter of government: to protect the personal liberty and property rights of each citizen, and defend our Constitution. We the People give our consent to be governed for those two specific purposes. I support any and all Constitutional Amendments which would constrain our government to the accomplishment of those two ends, and would remove from federal authority the many purposes it has assumed which are extraneous to those ends.

With humble respect and appreciation for your efforts to defend liberty,