Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The State's Faith Healers of Poverty...

This is an excellent article on the minimum wage from George Reisman...

George Reisman's Blog: The State Against Economic Law: the Case of Minimum Wage Legislation

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Plastic Bags and the "Environment"

I watch a v-blog on a fairly regular basis called Rocketboom, and today’s installment is stranger than normal. It’s on plastic bags, of all things. The producers highlight how plastic bags are supposedly destroying the earth, killing marine life, etc. Then they talk about how governments can reduce this so-called damage, by putting a tax on plastic bags. Fortunately, the US has not adopted such measures.

A “plastic bag” tax (or any restriction on these products) is just one more way that governments wage war on the poor, despite insistent pleas to the contrary. A tax on plastic bags is nothing more than a cost that gets passed on to the consumer of the plastic bags through higher grocery prices, and the poor will certainly be burdened the most in the end. Furthermore, the argument about reusing the bags rings hollow. The poor don’t have the luxury of specialized storage containers, buying “high quality” garbage bags, or whatnot. Instead, we who don’t make much money reuse plastic bags all the time for all sorts of various things, from garbage bags, to packing materials, to long term storage. I wouldn’t consider myself poor by any means, and even I reuse plastic bags as much as I can.

With which should a government be more concerned: making groceries cost less so the poor can get by, or the state of the environment? The answer, truthfully, is neither. The government has no right to dictate how people trade groceries; the market will work to their advantage! As long as individuals are producing things that others value, they will have the means to trade for their survival. Nor does government have the right to force people at the point of a gun to give them money for ridiculous environmental protection measures. It’s immoral for individuals to steal, and just because the government calls that money “taxes”, the action is no more moral – it still is theft.

Scientists and engineers make products that people desire to accomplish useful purposes – ultimately these products are both for survival and enjoyment. Allowing the free market to work, and hence allowing we producers to make things that people want, promotes nothing less than the continuation of the human species. These measures of restricting trade, though perhaps well intentioned, are ultimately detrimental. In fact, I am convinced that environmentalists do not value humans much at all, as they are often more concerned with the well-being of non-sentient animals and the non-living “climate” than the well-being and preservation of human life. To make matters worse, they always endorse theft from others as the means of accomplishing their convoluted goals. Now that’s what I call a waste!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

One more on the minimum wage

This just came up in the last few days on www.lewrockwell.com. Ron Getty argues that the minimum wage is really about the new tax revenues that the government would get from it. Hmm, it sort of makes sense, but I'm not willing right now to run the numbers to estimate whether this really is the case or not. Regardless, the minimum wage is still a bad idea. You can see for yourself...

Speaker Pelosi – Minimum Wage Queen by Ron Getty

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Snow doesn't stop the civil religion, nor taxes...

Austin, being in Texas, doesn't tend to get much snow or ice. This year, however, was that rare exception to the rule. We had snow; we had ice. Correction: we HAVE snow and ice. People here don't really know how to cope with all of it, and of course the government hasn't a clue either. So everything shuts down! The first two days of classes have been canceled! It's been pretty fun here - playing games, reading books, watching the governor's inauguration, and doing taxes.

Speaking of the glorious governor - he was inducted into office yesterday, despite most of the city taking a day off. I guess he just couldn't wait to get back into power. I am becoming more aware of how the "state" is only a few steps away from being an actual religion. Perry and Dewhurst took credit for an outright MIRACLE during their speeches: that they now have a grand budget surplus despite the fact that Perry presided over the largest spending increase in Texas history and he cut everybody's taxes! Look at the budget numbers, people, they are all up online! How do you compute your numbers sir, because they don't add up.

So while the governor continues his hollow rhetoric, let me run a few other numbers for you. I'm going to do this with round numbers off the top of my head and a calculator, so I'm sure that I will be off but at least in the ballpark.

Ever wondered how much time and money are lost through federal tax returns? Consider that I, a fairly low-income citizen, have spent nearly 8 hours thus far on my taxes. This includes going to the store to buy Turbotax, organizing all my stuff, making calculations, typing, figuring out where things go - and I'm not even done yet.

Let's estimate that of the roughly 250 million people in the USA, about half of them work and do tax returns, roughly 125 million.

Consider, then, that almost 125 million work or free days have been lost due to tax preparation. If the average person's time is worth $10 per hour, or $80 per day, that's roughly $12 billion in lost productivity.

That's a pretty large number, but in reality I'm just scratching the surface. I can't even begin to imagine how the number increases when you add in purchases of tax software, purchases of tax services, and the expenditures of the IRS in processing and auditing. I think it's probably safe to say that we are talking about a 10's-of-billions-of-dollars industry of nothing but waste. Of course, that's the function of the "state" in a nutshell - plus injustice, rights abuse, death, and destruction of private property.

Note: I'm not saying you shouldn't do your taxes, because any money the Federal government doesn't get is great and you don't want to go to jail. I just want to point out that taxes are disastrous to prosperity in a multitude of ways...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Raising the Minimum Wage???

The House recently passed a bill that will raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25, proving once again that at least 315 representatives aggregated knowledge of economics barely surpasses that of a dead parrot. The ridiculous notion that a minimum wage actually helps individuals, much less an entire economy, has been documented and debunked so thoroughly by free-market economists that there is no point whatsoever in trying to rehash all of it, but here are some links for your edification...

Minimum wage hike passes House - Homeland Stupidity

Cato Daily Dispatch: House Poised to Raise Minimum Wage

Making Economic Sense

Mythology of the Minimum Wage - Mises Institute

Repeal the Minimum Wage - Mises Institute

Friday, January 05, 2007

Public Schooling - A Pernicious Poison

Check out this fascinating piece (with over 100 comments) by a victim of the system. It's very disheartening to hear of this sort of personal experience, but truly reinforces the fact that government schools are not a "public good" that everyone deserves, but a destructive force that programs state-servants.

How the Public School System Crushes Souls | steve-olson.com