Category Archives: Economics

FactCheck.org Debunks Obama Campaign’s “First Law” Ad Concerning the Gender Pay Gap

If you live in a swing state like I do, you have probably seen the ad from the Obama campaign entitled “First Law.” The claim in this ad is that women are “paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.” This claim (a real pet peeve of mine) is nothing new; the Obama campaign is repeating the same myth that Leftists and so-called feminists have been making for years.

Here is the ad:

The researchers at FactCheck.org concluded that the claim that women are being paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the “same” work isn’t true and to the extent there is a gap has little to do with discrimination on the part of employers.

Breaking last year’s figures down by occupation, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research showed women doing the “same work” (that is, within the same occupational groupings) often make much more than 77 percent of their male counterparts’ median weekly earnings. The IWPR is affiliated with the graduate program in Public Policy and Women’s Studies at the George Washington University and says it seeks “to address the needs of women.”

The IWPR study found that “median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations.” But for the most part, the gap for “the same work” is not as wide as Obama’s figure suggests. Of the 36 different occupational categories in the study, in only seven were women paid 77 percent of the pay of men or less.”

[…]

Economists have identified a host of factors — other than discrimination by employers — that lead to lower earnings for women. These include such things as women choosing to work fewer overtime hours, choosing jobs that offer more “family friendly” fringe benefits in lieu of higher pay, and choosing to leave the workforce for years to rear children. Whether these choices are voluntary, or unfairly forced on women by society, is a good question. But they are not discrimination by employers.

All the researchers at FactCheck.org did was determine an apples to apples comparison rather than lump all occupations men and women have and calculate an average. This may be a difficult concept for the Occupy crowd and Leftists in general but I do not want to live in a society where doctors and lawyers make the exact same money as janitors and store clerks. As pointed out in the article, the reason that women on average make less than men is because they choose not to work in the higher paying career fields, don’t work as much overtime, and generally have larger and more frequent gaps in their employment histories than men.

Let me break this down even more. Person A who has been an engineer for 10 years with few or no gaps in his or her employment history is probably going to make more than Person B who has been out of work for years at a time over the same period. Could we really say that Person B is doing the “same work” as Person A since both are engineers? I would have to say no. Person A has more job experience as an engineer than Person B. Person A should be paid more because of the additional job experience (provided that Person A is a more competent engineer than Person B).

Consider the above next time you hear someone complaining that women should be paid equal for equal work. More often than not, the “work” isn’t actually equal to begin with.

Related:
Gender Pay Gap for Democrat Senate Staffers > Gap Supporters of the “Paycheck Fairness Act” Aim to Close

The Absurdity of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Did Justice Roberts Help Romney and Provide a Path to Repeal ObamaCare?

Over at Red State, Erick Ericson theorizes that Chief Justice John Roberts joined the majority opinion as a way to put ObamaCare back into the hands of the political branches to decide the law’s fate:

The Democrats have been saying for a while that individual pieces of Obamacare are quite popular. With John Roberts’ opinion, the repeal fight takes place on GOP turf, not Democrat turf. The all or nothing repeal has always been better ground for the GOP and now John Roberts has forced everyone onto that ground. Oh, and as I mentioned earlier, because John Roberts concluded it [the individual mandate] was a tax, the Democrats cannot filibuster its repeal because of the same reconciliation procedure the Democrats used to pass it.

It seems very, very clear to me in reviewing John Roberts’ decision that he is playing a much longer game than us and can afford to with a life tenure. And he probably just handed Mitt Romney the White House.

Our own Doug Mataconis said he “would not be surprised to see it be a 6-3 decision” way back in April for the following reason:

Ordinarily, the most senior Justice in the majority gets to decide who writes the majority opinion. However, if the Chief Justice is in the majority he gets to make that decision. If Kennedy ends up voting to uphold the mandate then I could see Chief Justice Roberts joining him so that he can write the opinion himself and make the precedential value of the decision as limited as possible.

Erick Erickson also mentioned on his radio program that many conservatives and libertarians who aren’t thrilled with Romney as the nominee will put aside their objections and vote for him if it means repealing ObamaCare.

I hate to say it but I think Erickson has a point. ObamaCare being upheld is a game changer. Prior to this decision that was supposed to strike down all or part of ObamaCare, I was absolutely certain that I would enthusiastically vote for the Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson rather than settle for the lesser of the two evils. With ObamaCare being upheld, now I have to say I’m not so sure. I’m not normally a single issue voter but if ObamaCare isn’t stopped and soon, we will be stuck with it for at least a generation.

The problem is though, it might already be too late. Several things have to happen just right. First Romney must be elected and the GOP must take control of the Senate and hold the House. Second, we have to trust that Romney and the Republicans in congress will actually follow through. We’ve been disappointed before.

Individual Mandate Upheld as Tax

The Supreme Court has upheld the individual mandate as valid under the Congress’ taxing power in the Constitution. Disappointing, but not surprising.

The worst thing about it is that the individual mandate is really a one-shot delaying tactic. The law can only mandate people into the insurance market once. When health care spending continues to rise after the mandate, insurance premiums are going to have to rise along with it. So, really, the Supreme Court has upheld Congress’ ability to use its taxing power as a punitive measure in the service of a cheap trick.

Two predictions:

1. Health care premiums initially hold flat in 2014 as insurers get more customers via the mandate, then start rising faster than they were before.
2. Congress finds more ways to exercise its taxing power as punishment for non-compliance.

Folks, it’s going to get fun.

Tomasky: Kill personal freedom for government and crony capitalist well-being

Michael Tomasky penned a sickeningly ignorant and immoral piece in the Daily Beast… even more sickening than he considers sodas and 1/2 pound hamburgers. The most stomach-turning part:

We have this “liberty” business completely backward in this country, and if Bloomberg can start rebalancing individual freedom and the public good, God bless him, I say.

Got that? Individual freedom has to be balanced with the public good.

But, wait, you say, ain’t we the public? Not in Tomasky’s view:

The costs to the health-care system are enormous, so the public interest here is ridiculously obvious. Obesity is a killer. Are we to do nothing, in the name of the “liberty” that entitles millions of people to kill themselves however they please, whatever their diabetes treatments costs their insurers?

The health-care system is a hybrid crony capitalist/government enterprise. Health coverage in its current form exists because of myriad laws and regulations. Hospitals and clinics are highly regulated. Doctors and nurses must pass through regulated courses of education. In every way that matters, government has been driving for decades.

Washington has created a system where certain private, individual behaviors create a drag on the system. Therefore, it’s now in the “public interest” to limit commerce to discourage individual behaviors that cost the system money. Unlike with communicable diseases like tuberculosis, obesity inherently affects only the individual. The “public interest” here is entirely a construct of government.

Now, let’s restate Tomasky in a more truthful fashion:

We have this “liberty” business completely backward in this country, and if Bloomberg can start rebalancing individual freedom and the well-being of the government and crony capitalists, God bless him, I say.

I’d say those who are opposing this have ‘this “liberty” business’ quite right.

Reason.com has more on this.

The Birther Distraction Only Benefits Obama

There it is again. That damned conspiracy theory about Barack Obama being born not in Hawaii but Kenya. An honest question for you birthers out there: even assuming that everything you believe about the birthplace of Barack Obama is true, do you really think that even if you could prove it 100% that people who would otherwise support him/undecided would choose not to or would be declared ineligible to serve as president by some court, perhaps SCOTUS?

IMO the answers to those questions are no and probably not. If the voters are not concerned enough to vote him out (or even call for his impeachment) based on his other, much more damaging assaults on the Constitution, I seriously doubt these same people are going to be upset about Obama’s audacity to be born to an American mother outside the country. As far as violating his oath to defend the Constitution goes, this would be quite a minor assault.

So if the birther issue doesn’t benefit Obama’s opponents, who would it benefit? President Obama and the Democrat Party. The Obama campaign has already released an ad critical of Mitt Romney and his ties to Donald Trump (below).

This is precisely the kind of issue President Obama wants to be a part of this campaign. If the media and the people are talking about the birther question, they are not talking about his failed economic policies, his continued assaults on free market capitalism, ObamaCare, signing extensions to the Patriot Act, signing the NDAA, Fast and Furious, his drug war hypocrisy, his foreign policy befitting that of a warlord, his very Orwellian change in the definition of the term “civilian” to make his statistics for killings of innocent people in foreign lands not look so bad to the casual news consumer, and etc. In other words, Obama’s record as president!

I hear people complain that Obama wasn’t properly vetted in 2008 (and to a certain extent I agree). The media didn’t concentrate enough on the birth certificate, his time hanging out with Marxists in college, his unwillingness to release his college transcripts, his association with Jeremiah Wright. Some of these things are reasonable questions but are distractions to the issues of the greatest importance.

It may be true that we don’t know a whole lot about Obama’s biography or what made him the person he is relative to past presidents but we have had four years to evaluate his job performance as president. In the final analysis, isn’t that all that really matters?

Gender Pay Gap for Democrat Senate Staffers > Gap Supporters of the “Paycheck Fairness Act” Aim to Close

One would think that the politicians who scream the most about the alleged 23% pay gap between men and women would lead by example and pay men and women “equal pay for equal work.” This seems like a safe assumption but according to Andrew Stiles writing for The Washington Free Beacon, you would be assuming wrong:

A group of Democratic female senators on Wednesday declared war on the so-called “gender pay gap,” urging their colleagues to pass the aptly named Paycheck Fairness Act when Congress returns from recess next month. However, a substantial gender pay gap exists in their own offices, a Washington Free Beacon analysis of Senate salary data reveals.

Of the five senators who participated in Wednesday’s press conference—Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.)—three pay their female staff members significantly less than male staffers.

Murray, who has repeatedly accused Republicans of waging a “war a women,” is one of the worst offenders. Female members of Murray’s staff made about $21,000 less per year than male staffers in 2011, a difference of 35.2 percent.

That is well above the 23 percent gap that Democrats claim exists between male and female workers nationwide. The figure is based on a 2010 U.S. Census Bureau report, and is technically accurate. However, as CNN’s Lisa Sylvester has reported, when factors such as area of employment, hours of work, and time in the workplace are taken into account, the gap shrinks to about 5 percent.

[…]

The employee gender pay gap among Senate Democrats was not limited to Murray, Boxer, and Feinstein. Of the 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus examined in the analysis, 37 senators paid their female staffers less than male staffers.

[…]

Women working for Senate Democrats in 2011 pulled in an average salary of $60,877. Men made about $6,500 more.

While the gap is significant, it is slightly smaller than that of the White House, which pays men about $10,000, or 13 percent, more on average, according to a previous Free Beacon analysis.

And now for the most interesting part IMO. Among Senate Democrats, who has the greatest disparity between male and female staffers? The Socialist (!) from Vermont, Bernie Sanders pays his male staffers 47.6% more than his female staffers!

One has to wonder, why do these Democrats not pay male and female staffers the same? Could it be that the same factors stated above enter into their reasons for paying women less?

Nah. I’m pretty sure it’s because they hate women more than employers in the private sector.

Three Takeaways from the Dawn Loggins Story

Whatever your philosophy or wherever you find yourself in the political spectrum, one thing I think we can all agree on is that we are living in difficult economic times. Most of us, if we haven’t experienced it ourselves, know someone who has lost his or her job or is otherwise struggling to keep up with increases in the price of living. Times are tough for many if not most of us.

In these difficult times, I think it’s important to remember to persevere rather than throw up our hands and quit. One could understand a teenager giving up on her future if she was abandoned by her parents, bullied at school, and even homeless. Who could expect any other result?

Don’t tell that to 18 year-old Dawn Loggins. She experienced all this and more and has been accepted to…Harvard?

This is such an inspiring story that I don’t want to give much more of it away. Really, I hope that everyone who reads this post reads this four part series by Alicia Banks for The Shelby Star. This story is nothing short of amazing.

There were three main takeaways I got from reading this series:

1. Dawn’s Personal choices made all the difference. Every cliché you have ever heard about becoming a successful person applies to Dawn Loggins (ex: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” “when the going gets tough…” etc.). Rather than complaining about how unfair life is or blaming all her woes on the 1%,* or even her parents who abandoned her, she took it upon herself to improve her situation.

2. Sometimes one has to break the rules or violate the law to do the “right” thing. Dawn may not have been successful if the law was followed to the letter**. What if the principal or the school’s guidance counselor would have called DSS? Here’s an excerpt from part 2:

No one risked calling the Department of Social Services about Dawn, who was 17 at the time and had been homeless.

Those who cared about Dawn could have lost her to foster care if they alerted the authorities to her situation. Putnam was afraid Dawn wouldn’t be able to take classes she had lined up for her senior year at a different school.

Putnam and Kolton made sure Dawn had everything she needed: Clothes, food, shelter and Burns.

In situations like Dawn’s, Jane Shooter, assistant director for the county DSS, said social workers would have attempted to locate her parents and understand the situation. If they determined a child needed to be placed in foster care, their first attempts would be to find a safe guardian or foster family in the area. But that’s not always possible.

Members of the Burns community took care of one of their own on their own.

But was this the right thing to do?

“I can only say if you suspect a child is neglected or abused, by North Carolina law, you’re mandated to report it,” Shooter said.
Children in foster care age out of DSS’s protection when they turn 18 years old. Dawn turned 18 on Feb. 9.

“There’s nothing we can do now that she turned 18,” Shooter said.

3. Despite what some on the Left believe, regular people are more than willing to help others who are struggling without the government forcing them to do so via wealth redistribution (especially those who are doing all they can to help themselves). In addition to a few very key people who helped Dawn through high school, since this story was published, there has been an outpouring of support from regular people who want to help Dawn pay for her Harvard education.

Of course, Dawn’s story isn’t typical but neither is her work ethic. Was she successful despite her hardships or because of them? Was she smart because she studied hard or did she study hard because she was smart enough to realize doing so would be her most likely ticket out of poverty?

These chicken/egg questions aside, one thing is clear: we could all learn a thing or two about pursuing the American dream from a teenager by the name of Dawn Loggins.

Hat Tip: Neal Boortz
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Mao Yushi: An Inspiration for All Who Yearn to be Free

Last Friday, the Cato Institute honored dissident Chinese economist Mao Yushi with the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. Just a week prior, Mao, a consistent critic of Chinese government policies and advocate of both individual and economic liberty faced the possibility of being detained rather than being permitted to fly to Washington D.C. to receive the award in person and deliver his acceptance speech. By Tuesday, Cato confirmed in a press release that the Chinese government kept its word and allowed Mao to leave the country.

The first video tells Mao’s inspiring story:

The second video, the 2012 Milton Friedman Prize winner himself Mao Yushi delivers his acceptance speech.

Congratulations to Mao Yushi for earning this most prestigious prize for your life’s work in the advancement of human freedom. You sir, are an inspiration to us all.

The Life of Julia… who really wins?

President Obama’s campaign has put together “The Life of Julia“, following a woman from cradle to grave to show how she benefits from the enlightened benificence of President Barack Obama.

The reality, though, is rather different. Let’s look now at “The Life of Julia”:

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Open Thread: If I Wanted America to Fail…

FreeMarketAmerica.org has released a great video (above) called “If I Wanted America to Fail.” It’s a pretty decent list of policies one would want to implement to cause America to fail but it’s far from complete.

Here are a few suggestions of my own:

If I wanted America to fail, I would want congress to abdicate its war powers and give those powers to the president so he could commit acts of war against any country he desires for any or no reason at all.

If I wanted America to fail, I would want these undeclared wars to be open-ended with no discernable war aim. This would lead to blowback and create more enemies for America.

If I wanted America to fail, I would have troops deployed around the world to make sure the world is “safe for democracy” but would topple regimes, even those elected by the people of these countries, if the president found the new leaders not to his liking. This would create even more enemies who would try to cause America to fail.

If I wanted America to fail, I would do away with due process – even for American citizens who the president considers “enemy combatants.” I would want the president to have the ability to detain these people indefinitely, ship them to a foreign country, and even give the president the authority to kill these people anywhere in the world they are found.

If I wanted America to fail, I would have the ATF sell arms to Mexican drug cartels so they could kill innocent people on both sides of the border. I would name this operation after a lame action movie franchise and pretend to know nothing about it when details were made public (It’s not like the media would have any interest in investigating this deadly policy because this is a Democrat administration).

Now it’s your turn. What are the policies being implemented now that you would want implemented if your goal was to make America fail?

Milton Friedman on Libertarianism and Humility

On August 14, 1990, Milton Friedman gave a speech at the International Society for Individual Liberty’s 5th World Libertarian Conference on the subject of libertarianism and humility. There are many adjectives which can be ascribed to libertarians but “humble” usually isn’t one of them. Among the quotable parts of the speech, Friedman said the following:

On the one hand, I regard the basic human value that underlies my own beliefs as tolerance based on humility. I have no right to coerce someone else because I cannot be sure that I am right and he is wrong. On the other hand, some of our heros…people who have, in fact, done the most to promote libertarian ideas, who have been enormously influential, have been highly intolerant as human beings and have justified their views, with which I largely agree, in ways that I regard as promoting intolerance.

In searching for the above transcription of what I thought was very profound and wise, I found a couple of bloggers who thought this particular quotation as “an inadequate defense of liberty” or one of the “failures” of Milton Friedman.

I happen to disagree with these notions.

Maybe because I have been humbled in realizing that I had been wrong on some issues of great importance. By far the most difficult (yet ultimately liberating) post I have ever written was the post in which I declared that I was wrong about my support for the war in Iraq. I was so certain that regime change in Iraq would bring about peace in the Middle East and freedom would take hold. I thought the Ron Paul and big “L” Libertarian position on preemptive war was naïve and dangerous but now I believe the opposite to be true (for reasons I stated in the aforementioned post).

Having experiencing this, I can’t help but think that Friedman was right to say that each of us should be open to the possibility we may be wrong. If we aren’t open to this possibility, what is the point of debating an issue? Obviously, if I argue that X is correct and my opponent says Y is correct, I’m going to do my best to convince my opponent that I am right and s/he is wrong (meanwhile, my opponent is doing the same).

But what if I realize in the course of the debate that my opponent is at least partially right about Y being correct and/or that my reasoning is flawed or the facts do not support X? As a normal human being, I might not concede right away but if I am being intellectually honest, I’ll revise my thinking based on new information or new reasoning I hadn’t considered.

If Milton Friedman was willing to be open to the possibility of being wrong, how could I, someone whose mind will never in the same league as his, be so stubborn?

One thing I notice in watching Friedman debate people who are diametrically opposed to his positions was how patient he was with them. Something that many of us libertarians seem to forget is that much of what we believe to be true is counterintuitive to at least half of the people we encounter on a daily basis because many of these people have not been exposed to our philosophy. Friedman understood this. He knew that much of what he was saying was new territory for many who would hear his lectures or read his books.

Before he could make the case about any of his ideas to others, he had to be satisfied that the facts backed up his theory. These two sentences from the NPR obituary for Friedman summed up his approach beautifully:

Friedman was an empiricist, whose theories emerged from his study of the evidence, not the other way around. He also was a champion of the free market and small government.

We are supposed to believe this to be a weakness? I find this to be so refreshing!

Quote of the Day: In Response to Van Jones’ Remarks About “so-called libertarians”

Over at Reason, Mike Riggs responded to President Obama’s former Green Jobs czar Van Jones’ tirade about “so-called libertarians” at an Occupy rally in L.A. In case you missed it, Van Jones said that libertarians “say they love America but they hate the people, the brown folk, the gays, the lesbians, the people with piercings.” Clearly, he has never been to a Libertarian Party convention; I have. These people are more welcome in the LP than either of the big two political parties, I assure you.

Riggs responds:

I’m going to have to mic check you there, Mr. Jones. You’re not talking about so-called libertarians, but your former boss and current president. See, it’s Barack Obama who supports “traditional marriage”; Barack Obama who supports a drug war that sends an alarming number of black men to prison and destroys their employment prospects; Barack Obama who supports a foreign policy that kills children; Barack Obama who supports regulatory barriers that require the poorest of the poor to borrow their way into the workforce; Barack Obama who supports an immigration strategy that rips apart families and sees the children of undocumented workers put up for adoption.

Whether Obama’s support for those policies means he hates gays or brown folk is not for me to say. As the scriptures tell us, “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?”

Libertarians, on the other hand, love brown folk, the gays, the lesbians, the people with piercings, and immigrants. Many of us, after all, fit rather neatly into those categories, and we show our affection for ourselves and our neighbors by supporting the right of all peoples to live free of state-sponsored violence, discrimination, undue imprisonment, and theft; as well as the entirely predictable consequences of both left-wing and right-wing social engineering.

In fairness to Van Jones, there are a fair number of social conservatives,* NeoCons, and yes, certain unwelcome elements who do advocate these things who try to call themselves libertarians, but damn man. Would it be too much trouble for Jones to go on the series of tubes that is the interweb and do a search on the Libertarian Party Platform before shooting off his mouth about “so-called libertarians”? If so, he would find that true libertarians are the polar opposite of what he described.

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Remy: Health Care Mandates vs Pizza Toppings

I have argued that one of the reasons health insurance is so expensive, whether under ObamaCare or under the system we have now, is that some coverages are mandated whether the health care consumer wants/needs it or not. In the video below, Remy makes the same point but way more cleverly and humorously than I ever could comparing health care mandates to pizza toppings.

Wait, pizza toppings? You just have to watch.


Walking Dead Economics

My wife and kids got me hooked on a series some of you may have heard of called The Walking Dead (and like the rest of the Walking Dead fans out there, I have to wait until October for the next season to begin as the characters have been left in quite a precarious situation) For those who haven’t heard of this series, basically Atlanta, GA (and as far as we know, the rest of the world) has been taken over by zombies (called “walkers” by most people who inhabit this world). While the series does have many of the elements of the zombie genre, the story and the characters in the story are quite a bit more complex.The story isn’t so much about the walkers as it is about the characters who not only have to survive this zombie apocalypse, but also manage to survive the other survivors and live with very limited resources.

One thing that becomes very clear at the beginning of this series is that many of the societal rules quickly go out the window when under constant threat of flesh eating walkers. Paper money is of no practical use (other than to start a fire perhaps). Debit cards and credit cards are even less valuable as there is no way to access your worthless money.

One other thing I noticed is that gold isn’t even a commodity that is of much use in this world.

It so happens that I have been reading Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover as my wife and I are trying to apply his system to get our financial house in order (I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get out of debt). In the book I ran across the following passage in which Ramsey explains why he does not believe gold is a good investment, even as a hedge against a total economic collapse:

It is important to remember that gold is not used when economies fail. History shows that when an economy completely collapses, the first thing that appears is a black-market barter system in which people trade items for other items or services. In a primitive culture, items of utility often become the medium of exchange, and the same is temporarily true in a failed economy. A skill, a pair of blue jeans, or a tank of gas becomes very valuable, but not gold coins or nuggets. Usually a new government rises from the ashes, and new paper money or coinage is established. Gold will, at best, play a minor role, and the gold investor will be left with the sick feeling that real estate, canned soup, or knowledge would have been a better hedge against a failing economy. – The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey (Thomas Nelson, 2003, 2007) p. 55.

I don’t know that I fully agree with Ramsey here though I’m by no means an expert on the history of gold or monetary policy. It seems to me that as a new civilization emerges from economic collapse, gold (and other commodities) would play a much greater role before people would accept any new fiat money. He seems to have a legitimate point, however; with regard to a collapsing or fully collapsed economy.

This is certainly the case in The Walking Dead. The resources most necessary to survive in this world are water, food, shelter, firearms, ammunition, medicine, fuel, spare parts, etc. Without these items, you aren’t going to survive for very long. Under these circumstances, who would trade a shotgun and ammunition for a bar of gold? I sure wouldn’t. I might trade a shotgun, assuming I already have enough firearms to hold the flesh eaters at bay, for some food and water. Better yet, I might offer to provide security for a few nights in exchange for food, water, and a temporary place to stay. This arrangement would continue as long as both parties agree.

In the course of the series, these are the kinds of arrangements that are worked out. Security is a major concern because, despite apparent efforts by the federal government to impose martial law, the government failed* and the law of the jungle is now in full effect. Many resources such as firearms, water, auto parts, food, fuel, etc. are scavenged from those who were either killed or simply abandoned their property (finders’ keepers).

Earlier in this season, the main characters find themselves at a dead end on the interstate as thousands of abandoned cars litter the road. Though on one hand this is very bad news, on the other, it’s an opportunity to scavenge whatever resources were left behind. At another point, a couple of the survivors make their way into an abandoned small town where they hit the jackpot in finding an abandoned pharmacy with a decent supply of prescription drugs. At the very end of this last season, the camera pans out to a prison near where the remaining surviving characters are camped out. What, if anything, can these refugees benefit from the prison? (I’m very interested to see where the story goes from here with the prison).

“What about silver bullets, do they have any value?” you ask. Silver bullets are needed to kill ware wolves, not walkers. Ware wolves? Seriously, ware wolves? Now that would be ridiculous.

*Or did it? Perhaps all the “important” people have been relocated to a secret and secure location while the citizens are left to fend for themselves.

Ron Paul at His Very Best Confronting Ben Bernake

If Rep. Ron Paul has accomplished anything in his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns it would be the way he has educated the American public about monetary policy and the Federal Reserve. I’ve listened to on line lectures from the Cato Institute and read about monetary policy but more often than not its either over my head or bores me to tears. Paul manages translate the Fed’s policy and put into language people like me can understand and keep it interesting.

Today’s hearing where Paul questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake is a case-in-point. My favorite part is when he asks Bernake if he does his own grocery shopping driving home the point about how his inflationary policies impact average people where it matters most (cost of groceries and fuel doesn’t go into determining the rate of inflation).

Katy Bar the Door: Social Conservatives Want in Your Bedroom Too

Last week, I wrote a post about how the Left wants in the bedrooms of the people by mandating health insurance coverage for contraceptives. On the other extreme, we have Rick “every sperm is sacred” Santorum talking about the “dangers of contraceptives” and how non-procreative sex is somehow bad for society (as if concerns about “society” should trump the rights of the individual). I intended to write a full post devoted to making the opposite point (Does anyone really think that millions more unplanned births would actually be good for society?) and referencing a very interesting conclusion Steven Levitt made in a chapter his book Freakonomics called “It’s not Always a Wonderful Life.”

But I’m not going to do that. Santorum and his supporters’ antipathy for individuals making their own value judgments about sex has been documented on other blogs and I don’t know that I can really add much that hasn’t already been written. Having said that, I think Rick Moran at PJ Media nearly perfectly captures my concerns about Santorum and Social Conservatives more generally in his post: “The GOP’s Problem with Sex Could Cost Them in November.”

[Social Conservatives’] outdated, even primitive, critique of human sexuality that denies both the science and the cultural importance of sex and the sex act. Their main target appears to be women, and women’s sex lives, although the act of love itself is also to be placed in a strait jacket. No doubt the right will argue that their criticisms are only meant to help women, and nurture “healthy” attitudes toward sex. Nonsense. First of all, women don’t need that kind of help. They are capable of making their own choices without a bunch of ignorant busybodies telling them how to govern the most intimate and personal aspects of their lives.

Secondly, there is inherent in this critique a 19th century — or earlier — view of sex that seeks to keep the act of love within the confines of the marriage bed, and believes that physical intimacy should be primarily for one reason, and one reason only: procreation. At the very least, sex outside of marriage should be severely proscribed and limited to those who plan a long term relationship or eventual matrimony. Having sex because it’s fun, or because you’re bored, or because you crave physical intimacy, or for any other reason beyond traditional notions of “love” is grounds for disapprobation.

Certainly religion has much to do with this assault on sex. And if the extent of their critique stayed in the pews and pulpits of conservative churches, there would be no problem whatsoever. Christian denominations can tell their adherents how to live their lives, citing chapter and verse from the Bible, and nobody would care.

But when Republican politicians, and others associated with conservatism or the Republican Party, start echoing the various criticisms of contraception, of casual sex, of sex outside of marriage, the perception cannot be dismissed that the imprimatur of the entire party — and consequently, the government if they ever came to power — has been granted and that somebody, somewhere, might want to do something about it. As a voter making a political calculus on how to mark one’s ballot, the GOP is kidding itself if they don’t think this affects the decisions of millions of citizens.

Where do these people get off? Apparently they don’t…unless it’s for the purpose of procreation. No wonder they are so uptight!

Either You Want Government Out of Your Bedroom or You Don’t

One way we libertarians often describe ourselves are individuals who don’t want the government in our bedroom or our boardrooms. Those on the Left typically agree with the former while disagreeing with the latter while those on the Right typically believe the reverse. Yet when it comes to the federal government mandating that all health insurance policies provide “free” contraception via Obamacare, suddenly the Left wants the government in the bedroom while the Right correctly wants no part of it.

President Obama seems to believe (or more likely, wants us to believe) that by decreeing that contraception be free that it will be. No, birth control devices cost no money to develop, test, produce, or distribute; somehow these products are immune from the notion that there is no such thing as a free lunch*. This is the kind of policy that causes health insurance to go up in price because now everyone pays just a little more on their premiums whether everyone wants or needs contraception or not.

Much of the debate on this mandate has centered around the idea that Catholic and other religious organizations should be forced to either directly or indirectly provide contraception in their healthcare plans. Like Brian Lehman writes at United Liberty, this is missing the point. As a pro-choice libertarian atheist, I too am offended by the notion that I must pay for coverage I don’t want or need**. Why don’t I have a right to choose the level of coverage that suits my family’s healthcare needs?

Some healthcare providers may determine that offering the coverage is more cost effective than covering unplanned pregnancies and all that entails. Others may come to a different conclusion. In a more perfect world, individuals would be able to shop around for the right coverage independent of employers or the government. This would take the politics out of the issue except for those who insist that contraception is a right. (Here’s a hint: it isn’t.)

Contraception is a good thing and we are very fortunate to live in a time when we can better plan if or when we want to have children but those who choose to be sexually active should take responsibility for providing it. Is it really too much to ask to buy your own condoms, pills, shots, or whatever? If for some reason you cannot afford contraception, there are organizations that offer these products and services at little or no cost. When did your orgasm become my responsibility?

I think it’s time for my friends particularly on the Left to make a decision: do you really want the government in your bedroom? I sure as hell don’t!

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Could a Santorum Nomination Bring About a Libertarian Renaissance in the GOP?

A Daily Caller headline caught my eye yesterday from the Cato Institute’s John Samples: Is there a libertarian case for Rick Santorum? If Samples aim was to write an outlandish headline to bring attention to his article, it certainly did the trick*.

In the article, Samples does not make the case that Rick Santorum is a libertarian in any way, shape, or form** but makes the opposite argument (as if there is any question). So if Santorum stands against everything libertarians are for, how can anyone possibly make a libertarian case for Santorum?

Samples explains:

I think he would drive more secular and independent voters away from the GOP ticket. A ten-point Republican loss in a year when economic weakness suggested a close race would be a political disaster not just for the candidate and his party but also for the ideas they embody. Rick Santorum could be the George McGovern of his party.

Such a disaster might open the door for a different kind of GOP along lines indicated earlier, a party of free markets, moral pluralism, and realism in foreign affairs. Ron Paul has taken some steps this year toward creating such a party. He has attracted votes and inspired activism. His son or another candidate might take up the cause in 2016 and build on Paul’s achievements. Fanciful thinking? Perhaps, but it may take an electoral disaster to free the GOP from the ideas and forces that Rick Santorum represents.

Though I supported Ron Paul in the caucus and encourage everyone to do likewise, I doubt he has a realistic chance of winning in 2012 (I hope I’m wrong). In the likely event that Paul does not win the nomination, my next move is to support the Libertarian Party nominee (who will probably be Gary Johnson, my preferred choice to begin with). IF a Santorum nomination lead to a purging of the socialcons, and a resurgence of libertarian, small government principles then I would say that in the long run Santorum’s nomination victory/general election defeat would be worth it. IF it all played out just as Samples thinks it could, 2016 could be the best opportunity for libertarians to make a comeback.

But that’s a big if.

This all assumes that the GOP establishment would finally learn its lesson; not at all a safe assumption. Then again, because the establishment really only cares about winning elections rather than principle, yet another defeat for the most coveted prize (i.e. the presidency) may force the establishment to reconsider libertarianism.

We also have to consider the possibility (however unlikely) of Santorum actually winning the general election. If fuel is north of $5.00 a gallon on election day and the economy is in worse shape than it is now, the independent voter may not be as concerned about social issues or civil liberties but rather economic issues. IF Rick Santorum becomes the next POTUS, what becomes of the modest libertarian gains made within the GOP?

I say forget about the Machiavellian calculations, vote your values, and let the chips fall where they may.

Related
Rick Santorum is Not as Pro-Family as He Would Have Us Believe

Rick Santorum, The Anti-Libertarian

Rick Santorum Revives The Lincoln-Douglas Debates; Unwittingly Takes Douglas’ Side

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