Minimum Wage Laws: State Intervention Leads to Individual Degradation

The following article from the Objective Standard Blog explains how minimum wage laws hurt individuals.  In addition, it highlights how the issue has become mischaracterized, cloaked in the shrouds of altruism.  This ideology is perhaps the most dangerous of all, for it legitimizes the State in almost every aspect of life.  Regarding the minimum wage, altruism supplants the individual’s ability to earn a living, with the State’s authority to forcefully redistribute wealth.

Minimum Wage Laws: Immoral, Crippling, and Nevertheless Supported by Many.


Apathy in America, The Answer is Philosophy

20130228-174934.jpgThe degree of political ignorance among the American populace is difficult to surmise. On one hand, college enrollment has steadily increased over the past four decades, indicating a much larger educated segment of the population. In addition, the advantages of the internet in information dissemination is so great, it literally furnishes the potential for a truly informed democratic republic. On the other hand, the apathy of the American people in the face of our government’s oppression of individual rights in the name of the public welfare is equally astounding. Our lack of opposition, or of any useful degree of organized opposition, is symptomatic of apathy.

Yet in lieu of the information revolution, room for a more hopeful interpretation exist. Perhaps the lack of response stems not from apathy fueled by a largely distracted populace, but rather from a different kind of apathy, one that too often results from information overload. Too much information too quickly thrown into the homes of America, perhaps turns people away from the important issues of the day, i.e. the economy, government spending, privacy versus national security. Over the last decade, legislation such as the Patriot Act, Obamacare, and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have passed into law often unread by the very legislators voting yay or nay. Less likely is that the average American is familiar with these laws or how they affect individual rights. Nor is the bureaucratic language that often weaves these unintelligible bills together typically accessible to anyone without a law degree.

So the riddle is this. What does a person require in order to filter massive amounts of information often representing opposing viewpoints? What is required of people to be informed short of a genuine desire to maintain one’s general awareness of current events? While people will disagree on the specifics, the simple answer is philosophy. For philosophy is a framework by which information can be analyzed, compartmentalized, and analyzed again for future use. It allows one to establish a system of beliefs that coincide with one’s life choices. More importantly, philosophy furnishes a backdrop by which one can analyze choices and cause and effect, so that if the perceived outcome of a choice is not what was expected, one still has a means of looking back to see what caused the outcome.  Given America’s ongoing economic turmoil, I believe the following words from philosopher Ayn Rand are particularly relevant.

The power that determines the establishment, the changes, the evolution, and the destruction f social systems is philosophy.  The role of chance, accident, or tradition, in this context, is the same as their role in the life of an individual; their power stands in inverse ratio to the power of a culture’s (or an individual’s) philosophical equipment, and grows as philosophy collapses.  It is, therefore, by reference to philosophy that the character of a social system has to be defined and evaluated.

Passage from The Ayn Rand Lexicon, s.v. “Philosophy.”

In short, a good philosophy sheds ambivalence. It allows its user to see essentials without the gray that often accompanies political and social debate. And it also acts as a how-to guide amidst information overload.

When thinking of philosophy, we typically associate it with a time long passed, yet never before has the need for a solidly based system of thinking been so prescient.  As technology advances, the amount of information available will increase as well as its rate of circulation throughout society.  In this sense, philosophy acts as a how-to guide to living with and evaluating massive amounts of information.  Consequently, the times ahead will require that we all embrace philosophy more than ever before.

Liberty Links: “You Didn’t Build That”

The following are a few links I find of particular value to our political and moral dialogue.

  • There has been much controversy of President Obama’s notion of “collective” success rather than individual effort.  His comments are quite frightening.  Here is an excerptfrom his speech in Roanoke, Virginia.

    via Google Images

“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

  • Few statements will induce more fear than this: “If you want to get involved in business,” Sen. Orrin Hatch warned technology companies at a conference in 2000, “you should get involved in politics.”  This of course begs the question: If successful businessmen answer to Washington, who does Washington answer to?
  • The Ayn Rand Institute’s Don Watkins on how to combat statism: “Explain that all productive individuals—whatever their income—have the same basic interest in common: freedom. Explain that anyone who takes responsibility for his own life, prosperity, and happiness requires freedom from government interference—not handouts or handcuffs.”
  • Mark Calabria, director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute, comments on calls to break up large banks that pose systemic risk to the economy.  “It is largely the moral hazard created by various government guarantees protecting “Too-Big-To-Fail” banks that caused the most recent crisis….Ultimately, Too-Big-To-Fail is a political problem, not an economic one. The solution is to be found in limiting government, not the banks.”

50 Top Political Quotes of 2011

Ron Paul taking questions in Manchester, NH

Image via Wikipedia

Of John Hawkins’ top 50 political quotes of 2011, I have to say Ron Paul‘s speaks the loudest regarding the absurdity of America’s diseased entitlement ideology.

“With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses.” 

These are the logical implications of an ideology that seeks to confiscate and redistribute instead of produce and earn.  Such a system is chronically unsustainable.

Entitlement America, Fiscally and Morally Bankrupt

Image via Google Images

If one were to make the claim that America is fiscally insolvent, as I’ve made numerous times, one would then have to ask themselves why. While there is no one answer to this question, there is one ideology that underlies today’s reality.  The “Entitlement Generation,” a term thrown around characterizing today’s western youth, has more to say about America’s fiscal bankruptcy than any politician or campaign slogan could possibly utter.  Yet, the entitlement disease in not confined to western youth. Rather, our youth are only the latest victims of an ideology begun nearly 80 years ago amidst the wake of the Great Depression.  Four generations later, we are seeing its effects. Charles Hugh Smith comments:

“The entitlement mindset atrophies self-reliance, adaptability and flexibility, all key survival traits. If the government will “fix” our health, we no longer feel responsible in the way one does if there is limited government/employer-provided healthcare. If we expect our Social Security retirement regardless of what other conditions may be affecting the global economy or our nation, then we stop being responsible for managing our financial affairs in the same way as one does when there is no “guaranteed” retirement entitlement.”

Yet, few American’s recognize our current situation as an effect of the entitlement ideology, seeing it instead through the lens of the mainstream media and our policy hounds throughout Washington as a debate over the “social good.”

Ask any politician interested in maintaining his or her Congressional seat what surrounds debates in Washington.  They will quickly answer that they seek only what is best for America.  Best according to who? The Washington ideology underlying much of its policies such as stimulus spending – both from the fiscal side (government) and the monetary side (the Federal Reserve) – never ending tax cuts, or a perpetually climbing debt ceiling is grounded on the false notion of an endless line of credit.  We all saw that assumption severely weakened this year with the S&P downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt.  Despite a jobless recovery, lack of lending from banks to businesses and consumers, and a still-floundering housing market, their ideology has not changed.

Jeremy Bentham, by Henry William Pickersgill (...

The “social good” still sits atop the pedestal of Washingtonian rhetoric as not only something obtainable, but something that is real and quantifiable.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  If one were to place this false notion within the context of an already developed area of political economy, they would look to Bentham’s utilitarianism and its “greatest happiness principle,” which simply states that government should pursue such that produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people.  However, there is an inherent conflict embedded within this utilitarian philosophy.  Bentham also recognized the futility of measuring the “social good” without the individual.  Yet, his greatest happiness principle places the individual as a sacrificial lamb to the needs of society.

Utilitarianism is much the same as the entitlement ideology, except for one small development.  The latter is the next step in utilitarianism’s development.  Charles Smith stated, “The poisonous problem with the entitlement mindset is intrinsic to human nature: once we deserve something, then our minds fill with resentment and greed, and we focus obsessively on creating multiple rationalizations for why we deserve our fair share.”  Fulfilling the expectation and demand for one’s bread at the expense of another for no other reason than one’s entitlement is the basis of Washington politics today.  This is their philosophy and, contrary to rational expectations concerning the fiscal solvency of America, encapsulates their policies, campaign slogans, and empty promises for a better future.

Image via Google Images

The entitlement state effectively supplants the market as the arbiter of social relations.  An entitlement state creates bread lines, while a market creates factories that produce bread.  An entitlement state creates zombies that stand in those lines, breathlessly awaiting their next handout, while a market creates laborers who work in the  bread factory and who upon payment for their labor purchase the bread they produced.  An entitlement state creates animosity among the people, lest the government deem their neighbors needier than they, while a market distributes goods and services according the natural laws of any harmonious society.  An entitlement state is the result of an ideology based on self-neglect, weakness, and irrational expectation, while the market is the result of an ideology based on self-sufficiency, strength, and rational thought.  The entitlement state is crucial in establishing a statist government, while the market ensures a small decentralized federal government.  Essentially, the market is the result of a multitude of individual desires (choices made by free individuals) and thus has an inherent aptitude at coordinating society in such a way that benefits the most people in the most ways.  But underlying all this is the key component of any market system, liberty.

Life is freely given, but its preservation must be earned everyday.  Our politicians live in a world where their hubris is matched only by their want of control.  The entitlement ideology is taking hold, effectively bankrupting America both fiscally and morally.  Government would have you believe otherwise, yet the ideology underpinning their policies and programs will not change the nature of reality.  In fact, it is the market, and the market only, that preserves the natural rights (rights granted to all by virtue of one being human) of the individual.

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