Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Government: A proper view

Speaking to a group of recent college graduates, President Obama made this plea for Leviathan:

“Unfortunately, you've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They'll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

My, how things can suddenly change.

Today, we learned that this same benevolent overseer Obama implores us to embrace acted in ways that cast his view in serious doubt.

·         The Internal Revenue Service, over a yet unknown period of time, intimidated and bullied – behavior that bordered on criminal, several conservative and Tea Party activists groups.

·         The Justice Department secretly sought and collected two months’ worth of phone records for several Associated Press reporters for a yet to be disclosed investigation. 

Any rightful and informed view of big brother ought to dissuade just about everyone that power, even in the hands of angels, can be trusted.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Talk-the-talk but not walk-the-walk

I fail to understand hypocritical politicians.  (Not really)
Ever since water was wet, some politicians have engaged in the class warfare battle.  And President Obama has been the 4-star general of this perennial campaign.  He has publicly lamented the fact that Warren Buffet paid a lower effective tax rate than did Buffet’s secretary.  Well guess what: so did Obama.  See NY Times story here.

 And to rectify this great travesty the talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk Obama voluntarily paid more in federal income tax than required.  These actions by President Obama prove he truly believes that folks like him should pay more.

The only problem with this story is it didn’t happen.  Like any normal, rationally-behaving human, Obama did not voluntarily offer more of his (taxpayer funded) income to Uncle Sam.  In doing so, Obama spurned a perfect opportunity to back up his true belief that the ‘rich’ should pay more in taxes. 
Why?  Imagine the favorable press he would have received had he written a $25,000 check to the US Treasury.  He squandered a chance to pay a higher effective tax rate than his secretary and, more importantly, start a movement – a voluntary movement for all those like Obama who are ‘rich’ to contribute more to taxes than they’re required.  But this isn’t what the class warfare types desire.
Instead of leading the troops and persuading the ‘rich’ to volunteer more fruits of their labor to the State, he instead prefers to coerce them to do so using the American legal system.  You see, the sole purpose of government is to force folks to do what they ordinarily wouldn’t do.  Folks like Obama (and I use Obama because he’s the most visible and vocal) prefer state coercion over voluntary arrangements.  And this preference is antithetical to the notion of liberty and freedom.

I hope and pray that more people will realize that government power is a thing to be used sparingly less we all become nothing more than wards of the all-powerful state.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Liberty v Access

Our egalitarian-obsessed government is preparing to apply the American with Disabilities Act to websites.  There are, of course, First Amendment issues with such a novel application.  Websites deal with mainly with speech, which is protected by the Constitution.  So, we’ll see how all this shakes out.

As a libertarian, I consider the ADA one of the most offensive pieces of legislation around.  Prior to Obamacare, it took the top spot.  I totally reject the idea that a private business must be forced to comply with some accessibility standard.  As the owner of a firm, either I am free to arrange my business affairs as I see fit, or my liberty has been severely curtailed as a result of some high-minded notion of fairness.  Some may label me as cruel and insensitive but consider the unintended consequences of such noble accessibility legislation.  Let’s examine what ADA would look like in Korea.

If there are 20 million Koreans in Seoul, there must be 10 million restaurants.  I can count more than a dozen looking out my 26th story window, and none are handicapped accessible.  Most sidewalks don’t taper down to the curb.  Korea’s hills rival those found in San Francisco, and many restaurants and eateries are located on a very sloping grade.  Additionally, most Korean restaurants are tiny compared to their American counterpart.  With so many Koreans crammed into a small geographical area, space comes at a premium, and Koreans are experts at utilizing every inch.  

Now, let’s introduce ADA into Korea.
Nearly every mom & pop eatery would close up shop.  Most simply could not afford to comply with U.S. accessibility standards, and so they would simply cease to exist.  Those that chose to stay open would have to charge higher prices due to compliance – this in addition to the upward pressure on prices due to reduced supply.  And while some consumers would benefit from the new accessibility standards, the overwhelming majority would suffer.  Former mom & pop restaurateurs would be out of work and consumers would face dramatically fewer choices and higher prices.

Yes, it’s most unfortunate that some among cannot navigate around as easily as others, but to use the legal system to force private property owners into complying with a government-approved and costly standard seems hardly a just and noble cause.