The Chief Struggle: Part 9. Pets

This is one in an occasional series about how government agents cause or heighten animosity among people in society. See the previous parts.

The politicians who legislate for the municipal government of San Francisco, Calif., that will—all things being equal—cause fewer people to adopt or purchase dogs as pets into safe, loving homes. At the same time, many organizations around the USA are trying to promote pet adoption as a solution to overcrowded animal shelters and a great number of strays.

First, this law will make some number of people, who were already on the fence about adopting or buying a dog, to decide not to do so; worse yet, some who already own dogs will get rid of them. I predict this because there will be (again, all things being equal) fewer dog walkers because not all of the current and aspiring dog walkers will make the licensure cutoff. With the numbers thus restricted, two things will happen: First, the remaining dog walkers can charge higher rates because, as we all learned in Economics 101, all things being equal, less supply creates greater demand. Second, there will be areas underserved by dog walkers, perhaps a complete absence in some neighborhoods.

Second, by requiring the licensing of dog walkers, the politicians have infringed on the rights of the residents of that city to contract for labor under mutually agreeable terms. By setting a limit under which it is illegal (insurance, number of dogs)

How to solve this: Two ways.

The first way to solve the coming problem is the government way: Encourage people to walk dogs. Perhaps there could be advertising campaigns about the benefits of walking dogs: being outside, getting exercise, playing with puppies, &c. Perhaps there could even be financial incentives to help aspiring dog walkers to meet licensure requirements, say, in tax breaks for people who insure their vehicles at a certain level. Of course, all such advertising, incentives, and other programs will be paid for by taxing everybody in the city—all just to solve the problem the politicians created in the first place! It also creates animosity on the part of non-dog owners towards dog owners: “Why should my tax dollars go to fund the careers of those who choose to work with pets?”

The second way to solve the coming problem is the humane way: Eliminate infringements on people’s rights—in this case, dog-walking licensure—and allow people to contract with whomever they desire for such services. The price of walking a dog will drop, all things being equal, in the absence of legislation that props it up artificially.

This blog calls for the humane solution to dog walking services and every problem. Let us reclaim our natural rights from those who act to take them from us. Ecrasez l’etat!

The Chief Struggle: Part 8. Your Body

This is one in an occasional series about how government agents cause or heighten animosity among people in society. See the previous parts.

Your income and monetary wealth do not belong to you. That is the reasoning behind the 16th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: The national government has first dibs on your income, leaving you whatever part—if any—its politicians deem you may keep.
Likewise, your body does not belong to you. You may do whatever you like with your body as long as politicians and bureaucrats have first crack to let you know what you may and may not do. (I mean this, as you may have guessed, outside the limits of respecting others’ natural rights.) One recent example occurred within the California penal system.
Doctors within the California penal system are alleged to have sterilized women whom they determined were likely to repeat offenses so as to return to prison after their releases. Note also the most jarring quote associated with this story: “Everybody was operating on the fact that this was a reasonable thing to do,” explained Dr. Ricki Barnett. “Everybody” and “fact” caught my eye; I expected a statement along the lines of, “Administrators operated on the assumption that this was reasonable.”
Note this well: You do not have permission from the government of California to reproduce as you think best. “Everybody” knows the “fact” that inmates have given up their permission to reproduce.
It is time we take back our natural rights from politicians and bureaucrats. Let us eliminate the institution that allows them to carry out their every desire: Ecrasez l’etat!

The Death of DOMA Does Not Mean Marriage Equality

With the Supreme Court’s ruling effectively outlawing the national government’s Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, people are decrying or celebrating this ruling along the usual lines: This is either a travesty of judicial activism thwarting the will of the people and the congress or a victory of enlightenment over mob rule. This blog has a different view entirely, and it should both assuage and challenge social conservatives and social liberals alike.

To social conservatives I ask: When did citizens of the USA give up their natural rights to define marriage? I understand and sympathize with your desire to have the most powerful state in the history of the world to define marriage according to your terms. Not too long ago in the USA, every relationship—dating, friendship, marriage, f**k buddies, adultery, acquaintances, hooking up, celibacy, &c.—was defined and regulated by individual people. Yes, many people looked to their communities of worship—church, temple, mosque, synagogue, &c.—to help them define these relationships, but without an established church (in light of the First Amendment) membership in an agreement with the definitions of relationships of any community of worship is voluntary. At most, the county or state government would duplicate and consolidate the marriage records from the various communities of worship for the purposes of upholding the contracts (“marriage”) into which the people had entered. In fact, one argument against the statehood of Utah was the people in other states would have to have accepted plural marriage since many men therein had registered marriages with multiple wives.

Things have been complicated. An inversion of the aforementioned system took place: Instead of politicians and bureaucrats accepting voluntary records at face value, they started to regulate who could and could not be recorded. This allowed them to control tax benefits and welfare payouts. It has gotten to the point today that a married couple on average pays less in taxes than an unmarried couple, and many welfare payouts are given for surviving spouses but not surviving nonspouses. A married person pays less and gets more; no wonder everyone wants in on this!

This inversion occurred without much of a protest from people or their communities of worship. Mormon leaders had received a special revelation reversing their earlier acceptance of polygyny, reducing opposition to statehood for Utah. This brought most of the major religious groups in the USA into almost substantial agreement on the definition of marriage: one man and one woman in a lifelong contract. Thus, not too many people protested when the various state and even national governments defined marriage along their terms.

With the privilege to define marriage in the politicians’ and bureaucrats’ hands, they were free to tinker with it. They did not conform to Mormons’ teaching (changed since by a special revelation) that a black and a white could not marry; it struck down antimiscegenation laws. They did not conform to the Catholics’ teaching that marriage is lifelong; it could be broken by mutual consent of the parties. They did not conform to the Orthodox Christians’ teaching that no more than three marriages can be admitted for a person; it could be entered into many times by mutual consent of the parties. I could continue with the divergences between state government “marriage” and each community of worship’s “marriage.”

To social conservatives I conclude: You gave up the fight in the nineteenth century. You saw an ally in government officials, who have betrayed you ever since. The death of DOMA and Prop 8 are not watershed moments in history; they signify but one more step on the road to politicians’ and bureaucrats’ control over the most intimate relationships and moments of your lives. (Also, break your loyalty to the Republican Party. The deciding vote to kill DOMA and Prop 8 was Justice Anthony Kennedy, an appointee of Ronald Reagan.)

To social liberals I warn: Take heed of what politicians have done to social conservatives, and be wary of—indeed, reject—government officials who agree with your definition of marriage today. For we cannot know what a grant of power over our lives today can harbor for tomorrow. (On a personal note, I implore you to stop declaring victory for “marriage equality” when a polyamorous group does not have equality under the law compared to a heterosexual couple and a homosexual couple. I do this for your own sake; you sound just as bad a social conservatives: “I want to use the force of government to define marriage as between two people; all others need not apply.”)

I propose instead: Let us wrest control over the definition of marriage back from the hands of politicians and bureaucrats. Let people marry and not marry whom they choose according to the consent of the parties. Let none of us use or threaten to use the force of government to force others to live according to our own definitions of marriage. Separation of marriage and state! Leading to the ultimate separation of the two: Ecrasez l’etat!

Obama: The Only Thing We Can Cut Is Social Security

Putting together all of President Obama’s rhetoric and speeches over the last few months, this is the conclusion: He thinks no USA government spending can be cut except Social Security. In fact, to put our money where his mouth is, he will submit a budget that includes, for Social Security payments and other similar payouts, a revision of the calculation of the consumer price index (CPI), this one called the “chained” CPI (CCPI).

The CCPI removes the prices of some goods currently counted in the CPI and replaces them with others. The CPI is defined as a representative sample of goods people generally purchase, and it is used to calculate how much to pay out through certain programs such as Social Security. By advocating a reduction in the calculation of CPI, the president’s proposal will reduce the rate of increase in Social Security payments, putting the beneficiaries of this program even further behind the rate of the increase of the cost of goods.

Couple this with the dire warnings about the “fiscal cliff” and the “sequestration,” in which the president professed to yield nothing to those who proposed neither to make cuts in the rate of increase in government spending nor to increase the rates of taxes.

The logical result: President Obama wants nothing to be cut except Social Security. Some Democrat! Some liberal!

There are so many places to cut the USA budget without putting additional costs on the elderly, disabled, and others on Social Security. It just demonstrates the folly of this nation’s—and every nation’s—attempt to have everybody live out of the back pocket of everybody else. What a folly is the nature of the government as a band of robbers writ large. Ecrasez l’etat!

I Can’t Go to Cuba

It’s my own fault, really.

You see, I am neither a recording artist nor a donor to a president’s reelection campaign. I have never performed in any concerts to benefit a politician. I am not a household name who is known for supporting one elected official over another.

In a free society, the movement of every person is restricted only by encroaching on another’s rights (e.g., you may not walk through my living room at will); this is not what exists between the USA and Cuba today. The people of the USA—with very few exceptions—are restricted from visiting the island nation because of historical disagreements between the nations’ politicians.

This restriction was highlighted recently when Beyoncé and Jay-Z celebrated their wedding anniversary by vacationing in Cuba, a trip sanctioned by the Treasury Department of the USA government. They were afforded special privilege (i.e., to exercise their natural rights to travel), while at the same time the rest of us continue to be denied our natural rights to vacation in Cuba.

Travel restrictions make both sides poorer. In this scenario the citizens of the USA are deprived of the experience of visiting this foreign land, smoking Cuban cigars where Ernest Hemingway smoked his, and all other benefits that may accrue from visiting or trading with the people of this country. Likewise, the citizens of Cuba are denied tourist money from the USA, opportunities to serve vacationers, cultural exchanges, and other such benefits. Perhaps the only winners in this situation are the politicians who puff up their chests in front of their constituents and the guards they hire to enforce the travel and trade restrictions.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) wants to know why these politically connected entertainers were allowed to travel to Cuba. I want to know why the rest of us are not.

It is past time to reclaim the natural right to free movement. Let us not allow governments to suppress these rights. Ecrasez l’etat!

Why I Loathe Privatization

That’s right: loathe. I loathe to read news reports about privatization and the bills that are introduced to privatize more sectors and tasks the governments of the world have wrested from our rightful patrimony. Oh, how visceral my reaction has become to the word privatization!

Wait a minute…

Why—I trust you are asking yourself—would a philosophical anarchist, whose political philosophy is based on self-ownership and private property as its logical extension, be opposed to privatization? Do not private property and privatization share the same state of being? You are perceptive. In short, I am in favor of true privatization; similarly, I am opposed vehemently to what every politician, almost every news outlet, and most people call “privatization.” Let me explain.

In the ownership of property, let us consider two possibilities. (There are more than two possibilities, but I mean to simplify this explanation, allowing you to extrapolate to other situations.) The road to my house may be owned either by me—because I have traded for or homesteaded it—or by everybody in the surrounding geographical region—because we all are taxed for its construction and upkeep.

  1. If I own the road, it is privatized—truly privatized—and I have the natural right to decide how and for what it can be used by whom. I can allow sick children to fry eggs on it on a hot day; I can charge skateboarders to build ramps on it for their enjoyment; I can build a fence around it and admire it as a monument to my greatness; I can do anything with it, including nothing. (I have the right to do so; the moral uses of this road may prompt me to do otherwise, but nobody has the right to force me to use it ni any manner.)

  2. If everyone owns the road via taxation, it is not privatized; rather, it is owned communally. Someone—perhaps myself, perhaps another person, perhaps a committee of persons—is given stewardship to decide for what and how it can be used by whom. We see this around the world, for example, with public roads: everybody is taxed for their construction and upkeep, and politicians are given stewardship over their use, from driving to cycling to pedestrian crossing to parking to parades to block parties.

True privatization of a communally owned road would involve the transfer from stewardship to ownership. The steward would donate or sell the road as he or she sees fit. Let us say, in this example, I have purchased the road to my house from the steward, thus transferring from situation #2 to #1 above.

The more commonly practiced form of privatization—the one championed by politicians, described by most news outlets, and called to mind by most people—does not follow the aforementioned example. Rather, the steward maintains control and the taxpayers maintain ownership over the property, and the individual or corporation leases or is given temporary, secondary stewardship over the property. In the case of false privatization, the politicians, in effect, hire people to do their dirty work. This is why the word privatization is so tainted in my mind.

Let us see how this false privatization works in reality. Many localities offer waste (trash, garbage) pickup, which in most instances is “privatized.” The municipal government maintains stewardship over the waste pickup, leasing the collection of waste, the charging of customers, and the other duties of the business to an otherwise private individual or corporation. In such a situation, the “private” individual or corporation is hired to do the work the politician-steward finds too expensive, too politically dangerous, or impracticable for him- or herself to fulfill. This is but one example of common false privatization; a few other examples include the distribution of utilities such as water and electricity, the maintenance and management of parking meters, the maintenance and guards for prisons, and the execution of certain military operations.

This false privatization is so beloved by politicians because it allows them to claim to have done more than they actually do. For the cost of drawing up a contract (and sometimes even the revenue of selling the privilege), a politician can claim waste collection, utilities, parking meters, and every other “privatized” benefit under his or her accomplishments. What a public-relations boon to the politician! All for getting someone else to do the dirty work.

I wish the true nature of privatization were better understood (hence this post) and executed writ large until every person were his or her own owner and every property would revert to the status of private or unclaimed. I wish the false notion of privatization were consigned to the dustbin of history as the political trick it is. Then we can finally be rid of the state and the leech on individuals and society that it is. Escrasez l’etat!

The Free Market Punishes Discrimination

One oft-repeated defense of the state and its involuntary government is its supposed necessity to fight against discrimination. Such examples in the USA include the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1994, which mandates accommodations for workers, customers, and all people with certain disabilities, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which mandates equal protection and access for every person no matter his or her race.

As happens so often, legislators and judges provide solutions for problems they themselves had caused! In the case of the Civil Rights Act, for example, legislators were in part overturning provisions the same government had allowed and even mandated under “Jim Crow” legislation and Plessy v. Ferguson, among others.

Suffer me one personal anecdote to illustrate this. A former coworker had been in the Army; during a leave, there were many soldiers boarding a train to the Midwest to spend some time back home. So many, in fact, there were more soldiers than seats, and many had taken to sitting on their duffel bags in the aisles. My coworker and a friend had decided to try their luck in another car, and to their surprise there were only two people already on the last car; they spread out in the seats and felt a little sorry for the guys who packed themselves in like sardines in the other cars. Just before the train was to depart, the conductor kicked them off the nigh empty car, informing them, “This is the colored car; you have to move to another car.” Their protestations along with those of the black soldiers notwithstanding, they rode to Chicago on their duffel bags in one of the cramped cars. This was all because of separate-but-equal laws in force at the time, i.e., the state enforcing racial segregation against the wills of people.

I write this post not to argue the absence of sexual, racial, religious, and countless other bases for prejudice and discrimination; I am very aware these exist. I write this post to provide anecdotes that illustrate the means employed by individual people acting with wills unconstrained by the state to decrease the power, duration, and effectiveness of acts based on irrational prejudice.

In these first two examples, people engaged in serving the public are punished for failing to serve all of the public by discriminating against some customers: story 1 and story 2.

In this final story a customer is punished for discriminating against an employee who falls into a prejudiced group.

Herein the free actions of people are working to reduce prejudice and discrimination in the world. May we never again give any state the power to . Ecrasez l’etat!

That Should Be My $750

The members of the House of Representatives and Senate have colluded with the president of the USA to pass a bill to kick the can down the road towards the “fiscal cliff.” (N.B. I worked with a different and farther-reaching definition of the fiscal cliff when I wrote about it my pre-election series.) They have staved off another manufactured “disaster” for a few months largely by increasing taxes on most citizens in the USA.

I am still reading over summaries of what is included in the several-hundred-page bill, but initial calculations show my own take-home pay will be reduced by about $63 per month, over $750 per year. If you are working in the USA, you can calculate your own reduction here. Keep in mind I have a below average income—calculations for the average worker in the USA hover around $75,000 per year—and at times could use every dollar I can bring home.

The popular talk of raising taxes on the top earners usually leaves out discussion about the expiration of the payroll tax cut. This affects the top earners, yes, but it also affects every person who works in the USA or has his or her earnings subject to taxation by the USA government. This translates to fewer items I might purchase (stimulate the economy, anyone?), putting away my own savings (deferred purchasing for a rainy day or retirement), and less financial incentive to work.

I suppose the good news is the decreasing value of the US dollar; every dollar taxed away from me is worth less and less…

Ecrasez l’etat!