Category Archives: free market

Of human bondage … liberal style

I was pondering our current economic and political situation and for some reason the term “slaves of the state” popped into my mind.

We know that the term had real meaning to the peasants of ancient China, the pyramid builders in the days of the pharaohs, the serfs of medieval Europe, the subjects of potentates, and even the proletariat of Communist Russia. In fact, it was not until the democratic experiment of the Greeks and Romans did mankind begin to envision of system of governance that was based on the assumed or God-given authority and inalienable rights of the governed. This has led to a growing global era of political, social and economic enlightenment — and freedom. Central to political freedom was economic freedom — to own property and freely distribute the earnings of one’s labor. However, the forces of totalitarianism are an ever present danger.

Under one system, the people derive their rewards and success from the beneficence of the state — be it a regime or an autocrat. You obey the rules of the state, turn over the fruits of your labor to the state for redistribution and accept the paternalistic care — at least minimal care — from the state according to the power elite’s will, whims and their need to remain in power.

The key to any slavery is that the benefits of your labor are confiscated for the benefit of the slave master, first and foremost — and subsequently doled out to those who support the system. In most cases, you, the peasant, receive only the barest of sustenance in return — only a fraction of the value of your labor.

The key question is: When do you and I become slaves to the state? At which point is the confiscations of our personal wealth tantamount to slavery?

This is not a frivolous question. Most “slavery” does not come in the form of kidnapping, being sold to some private enterprise and whipped into submission. In fact, most slavery is the result of authoritarian governance — slaves to the state. It can come by sweeping change as was the case in Chile, when the generals overthrew the democratically elected government. But, more often it comes by slow erosion, as the corruptive influence of power consumes more of our rights and freedoms with the false promise to improve the quality of our lives.

The most common characteristics of slavery is a wealthy elite and an impoverished captive laboring class. It is the same whether the enslaved is chattel or just subjected to the dependency on government for life’s minimal essentials. If you look closely, you realize that the residents of the American socialist ghettos are captive — stuck in generational poverty and segregated, figuratively and literally, from the personal opportunities of free market America.

You not only find slavery in America’s Old South, but in every society governed by rulers. The evidence of the suffering of the masses in undemocratic societies is so overwhelming as to be indisputable. All-powerful governments produce deprived masses. It can be called communism, socialism, Marxism, feudalism, or whatever. The more the state possess decision-making power over the lives of the governed, the more the governed are “slaves of the state.”

Many liberal political science professors like to proffer the theoretical benefits of a “benevolent dictatorship” as the potentially best form of government. However, significant examples of this “ideal” are impossible to find. Therefore it is safe to say that the more a government confiscates the value of our productivity, the more we are enslaved. More government means less freedom. Simple as that.

The Greco/Roman precepts of democracy have given those who live under them the most advanced and highest standard of living in history. Political freedom, the right to own property, pick our leaders, and engage in free market enterprise have brought the commoner personal wealth beyond the wildest imagination — far better than even those in this modern world who are still enslaved to their state.

While state-desired innovation has occurred under totalitarian regimes, it pales compared to the staggering progress achieved for the masses under free market capitalism. The Soviet Union did not sire the technology that got them into space or balanced our nuclear advantage. They stole it. And while the Russians and Red Chinese were able to focus on specific competitive military technologies (the so-called “arms race”), the people of their nations lived two centuries behind the average American.

As Ronald Reagan said, we are always only one generation away from totalitarianism. The democratic revolution in France, that was to mimic our own, ended with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. The more democratic Mensheviks of the Russian Revolution were crushed by the brutal statism of the Bolsheviks. Democracies are always threatened by forces, internal and external, which would enslave the public. This is why Thomas Jefferson admonished us to “eternal vigilance.”

So, what is the point.

The point is that we have every reason to be fearful with what is happening in Washington today. It is currently calculated that we already work for government from January 1 until mid August — more than half a year. This means that more than half of the wealth you and I earn is confiscated and redistributed by government. For most of the year, we already are “slaves of the state.”

As if that is not bad enough, we now have a regime in Washington determined to extend or servitude even more. Like all would-be dictatorship, they claim that the government must provide the benefits to society since you and I are not either capable enough or good enough. Like all statists, the radical Democrats currently in power demonize the producers of wealth as greedy and immoral — and only their government can protect the poor, the infirmed, the needy, and the very natural world in which we live from the evil of our intentions.

This sounds good, like the pitch of the snake oil salesman, but look at the reality of their world. We need not look to history or overseas to find the examples of socialistic statism. Detroit was a city run by radical socialists. The most “liberal” (read that socialistic) states in America are on the verge of economic collapse.

After a speech in a African American church in one of Chicago’s Democrat-run ghettos, I was challenged by an young lady to explain what free markets and capitalism has done for her. I told her, “Nothing.” Before she got too smug, I explained that she does not live in free market American. She is trapped in socialist America — an island of socialism surrounded by the obvious benefits for capitalism.

I often refer to the plight of modern inner city African Americans as the second great enslavement. They are trapped in dependency on the meager hand out of the government masters. Like the American slavery that ended with Abraham Lincoln, the new and more subtle economic slavery of today results in depravation of housing, depravation of food, depravation of healthcare, depravation of education, depravation of mobility and depravation of personal freedom. For meager considerations, the slaves of yore were to pick cotton. Today, the enslaved minorities provide the political plantation owners with votes.

More than anything, our founders were small “d” democrats, and more than anything they feared unbridled government as the enemy of the people. “The government that governs least, governs best.” “A government that can give you anything, can take away everything.” Their warnings ring through their writings, which, by no coincidence, are no longer taught in our government-run schools.

One can argue the extend of the danger in Washington today, but can anyone really say that we are not moving in the direction of an authoritarian regime? Already, the grip of Washington is so strong that many see it as inconceivable to take back the influence of the federal government.

Over the course of my blogs, I will examine this most critical issue from different perspectives.

>CHRISTMAS SPIRIT: St. Peter, the right winger

>A right wing friend of mine passed this along. I thought I would share it with all my readers. I hope you both like it.

We all know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem because “a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.”

Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus, went there to register for the tax.

We also know that many of the early disciples were fishermen. They paid a fish tax to the Roman Empire.

St. Peter met Jesus in a town called Capernaum.

Peter was not originally from Capernaum, but we now know that the fish tax in Capernaum was only half the fish tax in his original home town of Bethsaida.

We also know that Peter operated a large fishing fleet, perhaps the largest in the area, with hired men, that he ran on behalf of his mother-in-law, who is mentioned in the Bible.

The mother-in-law owned a large house in Capernaum, where Jesus often stayed, which is only a few steps from the synagogue in Capernaum, and which is also mentioned in the Bible.

The Bible also tells us that Peter carried a sword and used it in the Garden of Gethsamane.

So there you have it:

St. Peter, the chief disciple and leader of the early Christians, and first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, was an entrepreneur, a tax refugee, a small business owner, an employer, the inheritor of a family-owned business, and a man who kept and bore arms.

Merry Christmas!

>REACT: Thank God and John Walton for Wal-Mart.

>Wal-Mart just introduced the $199 computer. More about that below, but first a little preface …

The broad phalanx attack on Wal-Mart by the various battalions of liberal activists is typical of their hatred of the free market system, free trade and free just-about-anything-else — except lunch.

The unions grouse about Wal-Mart resisting representation – representation which would do nothing more than increase the costs of goods for the American consumer and make the fat cat leaders of labor a little fatter. They tell how Wal-Mart is paying wages in Asia that are a fraction of the American worker. They forget to mention that you can buy a bushel of corn in China for 12 cents. My tailor makes my pin-stripped power suits for under $100. I can leave KFC stuffed for about a buck and a half. I had $3000 worth of dental work (American dentist estimate) completed beautifully in China for $400. Also had a physical and the complete blood test cost me a Jefferson. (No, not a nickel. Geeez. A two dollar bill.)

In China, Wal-Mart is lifting tens of thousands of people out of poverty at every step of the supply chain. If Wal-Mart was such a damned awful employer, why is it when they open a store in China the job application line runs from Beijing to Shanghai? Unions also grouse about how poorly Wal-Mart treats its American workers. Same question. Why do they receive thousands of applications at every store?

Some of the alderman in my Chicago home town city council are fighting hard to keep Wal-Mart out of the Windy City – thus denying their constituents much-needed jobs and lower prices, and the city coffers some tax revenue. What is their motivation? Blind hatred with a dash of stupidity. Of course, that is only an opinion.

Then there is the crowd that complains that Wal-Mart’s lower prices are ruining the market. Pause and ponder here folks. These libs are so whacko that they think higher prices are good thing – competition is a bad thing. They say higher prices means more pay for the workers. Well, a lot of those wage gains will be eaten up by the higher prices…..duh. And the over-paid union leaders seem completely oblivious to the fact that a company also must serve its stockholders and the consuming public – and there are a lot more of them than workers. Wal-Mart has been a key player in bringing down the prices of tens of thousands of consumer products, even in the face of modest inflation. These are real dollar reductions, not the theoretical stuff we get from economists and accountants. Tee shirts that were once $14 are now $5.

One of my more liberal friends (and yes I DO have liberal friends – quite a few, in fact) criticized Wal-Mart for practically putting FAO Schwartz out of business. If you are not familiar with them, they are a trendy upscale toy store that catered to the rich and famous. It seems that nasty old Wal-Mart began selling a lot of the same toys for a fraction of the prices charged by FAO to the price-is-no-object crowd. (Since my friend’s heart is bleeding for FAO, the term “limousine liberal” suddenly jumped into my mind.)

This is how the free market and competition works. This is a good thing. I mean, yeah, I am sorry to see FAO become more like a Macy toy department. They were a fun store. However, price rules for most people – as it should.

Now … about those $199 computers. I can’t wait for the libs to figure out how to criticize this one.

The left pays a lot of attention to public education (which, in and of itself, serves as an example of the failure of their philosophy). They like to think that they are the vanguard of progressive and innovative education. Everyone agrees that getting computers in the hands of students at an early age is a good thing. The education industry has expressed that need for decades (ever since Al Gore invented the Internet).

The fear and reality is that the computer age created yet another gap between the “haves” and the “have nots.” Those financially-challenged kids trapped in the liberal-run city school systems are at the greatest disadvantage. The affluent parents are buying their kids thousands of dollars of cutting edge electronics to support education, while the kids in the inner city schools are getting the benefit of electronic metal detectors to eliminate cutting edges of a different sort.

There have been scores of programs to try to provide computers. The Holy Grail was always held out to be the $199 computer. Most programs fell far short of success because of the cost of the equipment. Now cometh that nasty old Wal-Mart again, this with the $199 computer. Suddenly, the dream of every kid having a laptop is inching toward reality.

Just think of the impact on our children when we can finally bring modern technology to the disadvantaged. (We do not call them disadvantaged for nothing, folks). There have been tons written on the enormous benefits of computers for kids, so you can only imagine the impact Wal-Mart pricing will have on education.

Next time you hear one of these liberal groups kicking about Wal-Mart, just remember those kids who are getting a better education – something the lip-service libs and the kids-last unions have failed to do for a generation or two.

The free market works. Alleluia!

>OBSERVATION: China’s new dynasty?

>I get a lot of my fellow conservatives rankled over China. I am of the opinion that China will be THE dominant social and economic world force for the better part of this young century. I believe in a certain inevitability. Most of the opposition to this view comes from wishful thinking, trade union propaganda and strident nationalism – none of which is consistent with conservative philosophy.

For most of my adult life, I have head my conservative colleagues talk about spreading the free market system around the world. The old counterpoint to our system was communism. Now that communism is only a name severed from the former failed ideology, and the free-market spirit is abounding in the Middle Kingdom, my friends are upset because we seem to be losing our completive advantage. But hey! That is what free-market competition is all about. Right?

Understand, I am not happy about us sinking to second place, but I just don’t see the strategic resolve in this country to stop it from happening. Yeah, there are a few things about China that can be criticized. But, against the monumental shift to a western-style economy, the problems pale by comparison.

Understanding why China will overtake the United States need not be overly complicated. One of the principle reasons seems to have escaped the attention of analysts and pundits. So, it is up to me to again provide some enlightenment. Gads, it is not easy educating the world.

But, here are the hard facts.

In the United States, the ruling class is the legal profession. It is almost assumed that you cannot serve in public office with out being a lawyer. That profession dominates all three branches of government, and a good deal of the entrenched bureaucracy.

On the other hand, the ruling class of China is composed of engineers. Not sure why that is. Maybe the authoritarian rule of pre-Nixon China found little need for lawyers because not a lot of things needed to be adjudicated. The legal profession thrives on two points of view. Dictatorships do not.

Engineers, by their professional nature, are creators, inventors, designers, innovators, builders. They give us the new products that drive a fee-market economy. They improve the quality of life, and stimulate the production/consumption cycle. Laws and policies in China bend to the perception and well-being of their ruling class.

Our laws and policies also bend to our ruling class; lawyers. While lawyers serve a good purpose in a free society in terms of their professional duties, they are about the last group on earth you want as a ruling class.

By there very nature, lawyer-legislators are counterproductive. They inhibit progress, and make all things more expensive. The empower their peers to wreak havoc on the free enterprise system. They entangle citizens, corporate and private, in restraining red tape. They discourage production and innovation.

The litigiousness of our society is well reported. The very fear of litigation is undermining every aspect of American life. Think for a moment how many times litigation and fear of litigation come into play – at home, in the work place, at school, in restaurants, at sport events. Every aspect of our civic life suffers from hyper-litigation. How many times do your read about ridiculous law suits – with ridiculous settlements?

It is an exponential problem because even as the practitioners increase litigation under current laws, the lawyer-legislators are passing new laws to create more opportunities and exclusivity for their professional colleagues.

A generation ago, I could form a corporation for a small fee, and no help from a lawyer. That is not so easy or cheap today.

A generation ago, I could set up a not-for-profit civic group in a few days for a small fee, and no lawyers. Today, the process requires reams of paper and stacks of dollars for the attorney.

A generation ago, I could close on real estate with a few papers and no lawyer. Today it takes more reams of paper and thousands of dollars in legal fees.

A generation ago, I could effectively represent myself in court. Today, lawyer-generated laws and self-serving court procedures make that impossible. We have literally lost our right of self-representation.

A generation ago, a teacher could discipline a child without fear of civil or criminal charges. Today, our education system flounders – and some due to inability to impose discipline.

It goes on and on.

We are suffering from lawyer-induced advancing civic paralysis. In many ways, they are like a medicine that is beneficial in its prescribed dosage, but lethal when over consumed. America is definitely overdosing on lawyers in government. Add it all together, and you can see why America will not compete effectively against the growing consumer and technology-driven Chinese free-market.

In many ways, China and the United States are still far apart on the free market continuum. How far apart is debatable. What is less arguable is the fact that China is heading in the right direction, and the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. While they are opening up more and more free market opportunities, we are slowly suffocating them with excessive laws, regulations, and litigation.