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Saturday, December 20, 2014

 

Olson's Social Contract

Based on Power and Prosperity by Mancur Olson
            Moving from a state of nature to what many philosophers have dubbed a social contract requires either a tacit or an explicit concession of one's rights to the state. Exchanging these rights to protect the remaining rights that one possesses. In Power and Prosperity Mancur Olson offers us an alternate theory to the classic paradigm made famous by Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau. Two variations of the bandit exist in this model. The roving bandit who represents anarchy in society and the stationary bandit who when materialized represented the initial example of tyranny. Implying that consent never existed, just a less predations more desirable bandit. The roving bandit does one thing, he plunders society causing no incentive for whomever he plunders to produce. Less production will achieve less consumption, thus less for the bandit to plunder. Once the roving bandit realizes he can corner the crime market in his respected region, his interests shift to those of the stationary bandit, thus our modern governments are born. This creates incentives for the bandit. Incentives to keep his plundering to a minimum. "Because of his monopoly on crime and taxation," the stationary bandit, "has an encompassing interest in his domain that makes him limit his predations because he bears a substantial share of the social losses resulting from these predations."(9) Thus, it would be prohibitive for the stationary bandit to enforce a 100% tax rate and beneficial to provide public goods. Whether we can completely abandon the bandit overtime is unclear and in my view impossible. Our best case scenario is banditry that limits its predations to a minimum. Olson concludes that there only exists two ways to generate prosperity. The first way is secure defined rights and impartial enforcement of contracts. The second is a complete absence of predation. Democracy is simply the most likely institution to fulfill this. But as Olson explains, is also open to the, "sclerosis of special interests," over time. The same special interests that are eroding our nation and allowing for the growing inequality that presently exists.    

 

Stiglitz, Prosperity, and Labor Union


Based on The Price of Inequality by Joseph Stiglitz
             Looking for an alternative view on why such great inequality exists within the world I turned to Nobel Prize winner in economics Joseph Stiglitz and his progressive views on why nations fail. Stiglitz asserts that the incomes of the top 1% have been steadily rising, doubling since 1980. This has led to a "hollowing out of the middle class," which has increased poverty throughout our nation. Offering us a starting point for government predation, Stiglitz argues that our troubles began during the Reagan administration in the 1980s. The deregulation of the financial sector coupled with tax cuts has allowed the top 400 earners in the United States to pay an average tax rate of just below 20%. This has led to the U.S. having the most inequality and the worst equality of opportunity among advanced nations. One reason is due to the decline of unions in America. 
            Stiglitz argues that Reagan deregulation in the 80s has had a negative impact on our economy. Stiglitz claims that between 1980 and 2000 one reason why inequality has risen in America is because unions in the U.S. declined from 20.1% to 11.9%. This has had significant impact on the earnings of Americans and created an imbalance of power in the workforce, with power being diverted from the employee to the employer. This together with capture theory (industry being captured by the agency that is supposed to regulate it) has allowed for corporate managers to seize greater portions of wealth regardless of profit, therefore widening the inequality gap.
            The problem with this argument is unions don't create jobs within the industries they monopolize. They effectively contribute in lowering the number of jobs. When the worker receives wages above equilibrium this implies an increase in productivity for the worker. Without there would be no way to support the inflated wages demanded by unions. When productivity doesn't increase and even decreases, the direct result is layoffs within the industry or a rise in the price of outputs. This gives incentive to create entry barriers to the industry, thus artificially lowering the number of jobs that it can support. Further, because it's important to retain jobs, any move towards efficiency technology is vetoed. Combined, this implies that the above market wages unions secure for workers allows for an artificial entry barrier into the labor market. This leads to unemployment, a rise in prices, and less innovation.
            Because Stiglitz believes that markets are neither stable nor efficient and will cause wealth to be distributed from the many to the few when left alone. He concludes that free and competitive markets can only be attained through government intervention. Like all progressives, Stiglitz believes that interventionism in the market fosters prosperity. This is why he supports labor unions, government involvement, and other predacious means of acquiring people's money like estate taxes. All these inhibit growth, not support it. This is also why he chooses a starting point like the Reagan administration. I might have chosen when the courts started supporting collective bargaining between these cartels instead of supporting contracts that already existed. While I agree with Stiglitz's assertions that excessive inequality slows down the mechanisms of capitalism, I disagree with his theory on how to attain prosperity. Simply put government should protect freedom of contract and outside force, no more.  

 

 

How prosperity originated


Based on the book Why Nation Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson
            In the 14th Century the Plague wiped out almost half of the world's population. This catastrophic event was the catalyst for our modern inclusive institutions. The loss of so many citizens left a void in Europe that caused two very different scenarios. In the east extraction persisted both economically and politically. While in the west feudalism was almost altogether abandoned due to the labor shortage, sending us down a path of inclusion. Broadly, inclusion refers to active participation. Inclusive economic institutions, "are those that allow and encourage participation by the great mass of people in economic activities that make best use of their talents and skills and that enable individuals to make the choices they wish." (74) Some key tenets being property rights, a rule of law, and basic public services. Inclusive political institutions follow the same basic ideas and boast pluralism and centralization. On the opposite side of the spectrum lies extractive institutions, "extractive because such institutions are designed to extract incomes and wealth from one subset of society to benefit a different subset." (76) Property rights are almost non-existent under extractive institutions and if they did exist, rule of law would be so that no one would enforce them. Political institutions that are extractive narrowly distribute power and are often completely unrestrained in every aspect.
            Several things happened in Western Europe, specifically England, to facilitate inclusion. The English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution were both results of the institutional struggles that were adverse to the average citizen. "The Glorious Revolution of 1688...limited the power of the King and the executive, and relocated to Parliament the power to determine economic institutions." (102) Once a footing for inclusion was found it gradually persisted, growing through the increased liberty and the notion of a rule of law, speeding up the process of political centralization and creating the, "world's first set of inclusive political institutions." (102) A direct consequence was the spreading of inclusion to the economic sector. This is what the authors referred to as the virtuous circle. As inclusion is advanced it naturally fosters more inclusive institutions, allowing them to persist and exist. Opposite, the vicious circle allows for tyranny to ensue until it collapses under its own weight.
            The authors argue that the emergence of more inclusion in politics following the Glorious Revolution had several contributing factors. Power was being diverted to middle class and they had a direct incentive to maintain as much inclusion as possible. Next was the broad coalitions that were formed by the newly enfranchised people. Successful because of numbers and diversity. This was not a revolution brought about by narrow interests, but by these newly formed political groups. Finally, the political history at the time allowed for a foundation for which more inclusive regimes could form. Specifically England and France's history of parliaments facilitated this as well as both countries had previously started shifting ideology away from absolutism to more pluralistic ones.
            The virtuous circle is able to maintain momentum because once in place power transfers are mandated by law. This makes it difficult to seize any more power than is delegated, with checks and balances maintaining accountability. Second is that inclusive political institutions are supported by inclusive economic institutions; they remove extractive ones by mandating laws against things like slavery and not granting government monopolies. Third, and maybe most important, it allows for free media to exists. Media is important because it provides important information to the masses and allows for resistance and assemblage in opposition to threats against inclusive institutions.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

 

Give me Liberty or give me a well-planned nutrient plan.


Some of might have noticed over the last few years that the food you buy at restaurants has some strange numbers next to your favorite meal. Those numbers are the calorie count of that meal. Why did McDonald all of the sudden add the calorie intake to all their menu items. FDA would be the answer to that question, the FDA is requiring or more like forcing restaurants with over 20 locations to post the calorie intake or count of all the items on their menu. This has been done with the hope that when someone goes to McDonald’s and sees how many calories are in his favorite item they will cut back on the food they eat there.

The FDA and those that are pushing these changes believe that the government should be the grown-up for tens of millions Americans and tell them what they should eat, how they should eat, and how much they should eat. They don’t think this action should be left to the individual but be put in the hands of the government. They seem to think that people can’t for themselves that they need a guiding hand to push them in the right path. I wonder if anyone else feels as insulted about this as I do. I myself had weight issues about a year back I also liked to eat at restaurants like McDonalds and Smash-burger. But I didn’t need the government to tell me that eating at those restaurants was unhealthy for me. Most people that eat at those places know it’s not a healthy meal but eat there because they like the taste of the food. It’s insulting to think that the American public is too stupid to know that these places sell unhealthy food. The FDA acts like this is a market failure because there is a lack of information and that they should try and fix it. That they know that this new rule will end all the problems of obesity. But that’s clearly not the case as can be seen in the results so far, many of the results have shown no change in dietary habit since the law was enacted. But this shouldn’t be a surprise, it was never the lack of information about the calorie numbers that caused people to eat at these places but their preferences.

There is another issue with all of this from the classical liberal view and it’s the constant expanding of the federal government and its blatant theft of property from the restaurant owners. It cannot be explained in any other manner, if companies are forced to do something with their property that they don’t want to. The federal government has taken the property of the restaurant owners and put their calorie numbers on every single one of them. The worst part about this is that almost no one seems that concerned about it, sure some people might not like it or think it’s stupid but nearly anyone seems to be up in arms that the government just expanded its powers and force to new highs and blatantly took property of someone else.

Liberty/classical liberalism would say or what I think they would say on the matter is that this is why we need limits on the power of government. That we should enforce that the role of the government is to protect private property not to steal it. That we should focus on the individual and his rights not on some grand theory of what’s the greatest outcome for the greatest amount of people, that’s bound to fail and end up hurting many more people then it helps. I think we should look at what the role of government is and should be in America and focus more on the rights of individuals rather than on some collective good, before it’s too late and the government has taken your property as well, all in the name of the greater good.
http://www.unitedliberty.org/articles/18902-big-government-at-it-again-fda-proposes-sweeping-calorie-count-labeling-rules
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/restaurant-menu-labeling
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21326209
http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/28/6/w1110.abstract
 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

 

Bioshock and Economic Liberty

Recently, over the Steam Black Friday sale, I picked up, among other games, Bioshock.  It is a highly enjoyable game, and one of the most interesting aspects of the game is its universe and the characters within it.  The basic premise of the game is that, in the 1950s, an Ayn Rand-superhero-esque genius named Andrew Ryan... I'll just let him tell you in his own words.  This is the opening monologue of the game.

"I am Andrew Ryan, and I'm here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? 'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.' 'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.' 'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone.' I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... Rapture, a city where the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, where the great would not be constrained by the small! And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city as well."

Later on, when the character is walking through a park built at the bottom of the ocean (called Arcadia) Ryan gets on the radio with your character and says the following.

"On the surface, I once bought a forest. The parasites claimed that the land belonged to God, and demanded that I establish a public park there. Why? So the rabble could stand slack-jawed under the canopy and pretend that it was paradise 'earned'. When Congress moved to nationalize my forest, I burnt it to the ground. God did not plant the seeds of this Arcadia - I did."

While Ryan is an all-around reprehensible character that does some highly questionable things, the true liberty economist will actually sound something like Andrew Ryan (philosophically if not morally).  By the logic of liberty economics, a person's property is their own to do with as they please, whether it is to sell, use, or destroy (Ryan's question of "Is not a man entitled to the sweat of his brow?").  Thus, if a person wishes to raze an entire forest to the ground out of pure spite, so long as they own the forest and they do not harm another person in the process, they are perfectly at liberty to do so: i.e., if there isn't someone in the forest when it is burnt.  

Sunday, December 07, 2014

 

Restoring Liberty

Lately, we have been talking about flaws in the political system in the U.S. and how those flaws affect it's citizens liberty and freedom. The Constitution was meant to give the people of the United States liberty as unalienable rights but that doesn't seem to be the case in present day. There are many ways the government uses force to take liberty away from it's people.
       Since that is the case, why do we the people allow it? We wouldn't let any individual do the things the government does to us so what makes the government different? One theory, as Professor Eubanks stated, is that the people view the government as a parental figure which gives comfort to the people. Obama said, “Look, we tried leaving you free to live your own life, and that didn’t work. You have to be forced, you have to have your earnings seized by the state, you have to work under our directions–under penalty of fines or imprisonment. You don’t deserve to be free,” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/harrybinswanger/2013/12/31/obama-to-americans-you-dont-deserve-to-be-free/2/). To me, that sounds like an attitude similar to white slave owners when talking to their black slaves. Does that make the American people slaves to the government? In some scenarios, yes. Regulations are becoming more prevalent now more than ever, constricting liberty more and more. 
       What can Americans do to restore liberty? Acting would be the obvious first step but how can we get more people on board and see real change? First, people need to be made aware of the present situation. Should and emotion need to be attached to the message during education to gain more followers and for better effectiveness. If a big enough movement starts, there will be change. What would change? Maybe the way politics have an effect on liberty and certainly how the government uses force on it's people. The reason I include politics is because the way the government and the election process is set up now gives the wrong incentives in regards to liberty. If the incentives were set up for maximum liberty, that is what would happen. 
       This is my opinion on what would work to restore liberty in the U.S. The reason I chose to discuss this is from our discussion on Friday and this question of how do we restore liberty was left unanswered so I wanted to give my opinion. Eventually, such an event will happen, as people can only take oppression for so long. If the people are made aware of the oppression, I think such a movement could happen much sooner than later. Hopefully, it does. 

       


Saturday, December 06, 2014

 
Efficiency vs. Liberty
               As economists we often try to finds ways to have the most efficient allocation of resources or increase efficiency. There are countless studies and research papers in economics about different public policies we can enact to achieve higher GDP or greater productivity. These recommendations seem to always skip over whether or not the action of the new policy will go against liberty. Liberty is simply overlooked on a majority of policy recommendations or policy decisions.
               I don't expect every economist to use liberty in their policy decisions. I do expect some judgment on morality to be made before the policy recommendation is made. The lack of judgment based on morality or liberty makes the argument that efficiency is always more important than liberty. I heard the idea the other day of giving more money to early education would increase GDP latter down the road when the children are older. However, when this idea was being pitched to me there no mention of whether if it was right or wrong to take money from everyone and give it to the few young children. It's difficult to understand policy decisions like these because they simply ignore whether it is right to force everyone to do something like this.

               I find when economists make recommendations that affect public policy I almost automatically disregard it immediately because I have no interest in doing something that would limit liberty. When economists make recommendations of increasing GDP or being more productive the way to achieve this should be in the private marketplace. Economists should look for ways to increase productivity in the private markets. If economists did this then no one would be forced to do something they did not. 

Friday, December 05, 2014

 

Education a Human Right?

I find it pretty troubling how little the United States values education compared to other first world countries. One of the many things of this concept that troubles me is the incredible lack of government aid compared to other countries (I'm talking about increasing accessibility, not necessarily financially) to encourage high school graduates with low incomes to go to universities. Universities seem a lot more interested in their financial profits than of their quality education and research, and this is certainly a huge problem.

The prices for tuition continue to go up in the United States for pretty much all universities and campuses, however what is really being done about this? Student loans with less interest isn't doing something about the problem. Why is it in some European countries - Germany, Sweden, and Norway for example - are willing to make education a lot more accessible for their people by imposing price limitations for universities to charge their students, while the United States does very little? It's pretty obvious to many foreign transfers (I have spoken to a few here at UCCS) that colleges in the United States are willing to put a substantial amount of money into unimportant things, sports for example, when there is absolutely zero educational value in sports at these universities.

Tuition rates have skyrocketed in the last twenty to thirty years because of the high, and continually rising, demand for upper education. Many universities need this money to grow and expand, build new buildings, housing, etc in order to accommodate the amount of students that get accepted to these universities. Though, a lot of these universities also build these buildings not only with tuition fees, but with supporter money and funding. That is why some buildings get named after these people that greatly contribute to making these buildings possible. So, with massive outside funding coming in (including state funding, take the future sport arena going to be built on Nevada for example), why do tuition fees continue to rise? Just to clarify, this type of behavior is directed toward all universities, not just UCCS. UCCS, compared to most universities, actually has lower than average tuition rates in the United States, but would be considered incredibly high for a lot of European countries.

Yes, lower interest rates help, but why are we even being charged interest on education that can benefit our country's workforce and research? We are still paying a lot more than we should on tuition alone before textbooks (some semesters I find myself spending up to $500 on books, and that doubles for hard science majors) and housing (some students need to live on or near campus and housing alone is almost half the price of one semester of tuition). Education should be considered a human right that should be much more accessible and encouraged, and not used to make massive amounts of money off of students seeking to better their lives.

 

Urban Planning and Socialism

Jake Miller
December 5, 2014
Economic Freedom
Blog Post 2
Socialism and Urban Planning
                Socialism is defined as an economic theory that came up in the nineteenth century where simply the government controls the economy and influences most of the individual’s choices.  It is looked at not as crazy as communism but a little less liberal than that of communism.  Where socialism comes into the picture with this idea is that urban planning is looking more and more like a socialistic idea that only some people are seeing.   Now governments are using lots of regulation to go down the socialistic route to obtain the goals of productivity, equivalence, and control of externalities.  All of these qualities are being used in urban planning according to the piece by Randal O’Toole titled Is Urban Planning “Creeping Socialism”?   O’Toole claims that, “Urban planning rests on the ideas that urban residents impose numerous externalities on one another and that planning and regulation can minimize such externalities.  Despite their claim of scientific expertise, planners often have little idea what they are doing: cities are simply too complex to understand or control.”  So from this quote you can see that urban planning has had some bad historical failures.  There are a couple of qualities of urban planning that suggest we are creeping to socialism.
                Smart growth is the main tool that is used by urban planners and they are trying to discourage auto driving.  There are many parking and transportation limits that smart growth has caused.  O’Toole tells us that, “But smart-growth planners say that building more roads only encourages more auto traffic. Their goal instead is to discourage driving by reducing road capacities. They call this strategy “traffic calming.” It consists of putting barriers in roads to reduce speeds or flow capacities.”  The funny thing about this idea is that the government has socialized highways and streets and now cause of urban planners using smart growth to make less highways/streets because it only makes more people want to drive and cause more congestion.

                Smart growth urban planners also think that air pollution is a problem because of the mass amounts of automobiles that are being used.  So simply if less people are driving or using cars to commute then there will be less air pollution that people will have to inhale.  O’Toole states that, “Therefore, a transportation system that results in many short trips at slow speeds in stop-and-go traffic will produce far more pollution than one that results in longer trips in free-flowing traffic averaging 45 miles per hour. Because smart growth is more likely to produce the former conditions, it could significantly degrade air quality.”  This statistic is staggering to me because really I would believe to that the more cars on the road create more pollution, but the more the stop and go the automobile is creates most of the pollution that is harmful to us.  The idea of smart growth that urban planners use is definitely hinders on personal freedoms, and liberties of people and does creep us closer to socialism.  

 

Private Ownership of Natural Resources

Too often today do we hear about "greedy" capitalists exploiting natural resources for their own personal gain.  People see the clear cutting of forests, the exhaustion of farmland, extensive drought, and so on and so on, and immediately associate it with greedy capitalism.  But their blame is misplaced.  To truly understand why resources are being exploited, people must first turn their attention to the government policy in place.

Take, for instance, the example of clear cutting.  Many people see patches of barren land in otherwise lush forests and immediately begin to think of exploitation.  They believe that "greedy" capitalists are clear cutting forests only for their own personal gains (seen as profits).  But what they fail to recognize is the government policy in place that allows certain firms to exploit the resources in the first place.  Because most forest land in the United States is "public" land owned by the government (so technically owned by no one), firms must get permission to use the land or the resources on it.  But since they don't own the land, only the rights to its resources for a particular amount of time, the firm's only incentive is to cut as many trees as possible as quickly as possible.  They don't have the incentive to replant trees because they do not own the actual capital value of the land itself.  This sets up an incentive structure that is much different had the firm actually owned the land it was using to harvest resources.

The simple solution to the problem (at least in the case of clear cutting) is to allow private ownership of such lands and the natural resources they possess.  When a private owner owns a certain acreage of forest and he decides to harvest timber from it, he must do so responsibly in order to satisfy future demand.  If the owner decides to cut all the trees at once, he would have to wait a number of years before his resource base replenished itself.  He feels obligated to take care of his land (such as replanting trees once they've been harvested) because if he doesn't, the future success of his timber business will be in doubt.  The incentive structure has thus changed, and the change demands that the owner be responsible with his land and the valuable resources (as determined by consumers) that it possesses.  

 

Religion and Economic Freedom

Many religions devote large amounts of literature and knowledge towards the ideas of loving each other, doing kind things, and being a better person through acts of altruism. For many, concepts such as altruism, sharing, and never consuming above one's means are foreign concepts to the proponent of capitalism. This logic seems to fit for it can only be described as a grand hypocrisy to promote a system of self-interest while claiming your religious faith is to follow the ideas of selflessness.

On his nationally-recognized show The Colbert Report comedian Stephen Colbert claims, "Because if this is gonna be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition, and then we admit that we just don't wanna do it." Obviously, it would be silly to take the words of a comedian, who is known for his satire, too seriously, but it does bring up an interesting philosophical question: can religious ideals and economic freedom coexist?

Perhaps, they cannot. As I explained above, a society promoting self-interest seems to be inherently selfish, but this is not the whole story, and anyone who claims this logic is missing a few key notions on freedom and giving. George Price was a brilliant mathematician who proved that altruism was an evolutionary concept; his theory eventually drove him to madness and suicide. His theory stated that the only reason we act altruistically is to benefit ourselves in the long run. This is not as crazy as it may seem. Any economist knows the goal of consumption is to maximize utility. Consumption requires a cost to be paid, and such a cost is paid in order to fulfill the goal of being happy. This logic may hint that altruism many not be as altruistic as we previously thought. If we are acting in our own self-interest when we give, are we really being selfless?

Furthermore, the opponent of laissez-faire capitalism who claims religious morals conflict with capitalist ideals misunderstands what giving is. The act of giving, which for our purposes we are defining as an altruistic action, is the voluntarily allocation of one's resources to another at no cost to the recipient. It is not an act of altruism to propose a tax hike in favor of giving to the needy, nor is it an act of altruism to pay one's taxes so long as the tax money is used for the public good. These acts are not voluntary, so they are not acts of altruism. Only acts done through voluntary means can be considered altruistic so long as they adhere to the definition of giving. In fact, we can argue that the forceful allocation of resources from one to another on the basis that the other is impoverished is an act of great selfishness. An action can only be considered altruistic if the resources given belonged to the giver.  

 

Immigration and Economic Freedom


On November 20th the president introduced a plan that would allow roughly 5 million illegal immigrants to come forward and register, pay a fine, and go through a background check and they would receive work permits and no longer have to live in fear of deportation.  Immigration is something that has been on and off the table for decades in our current political system without resolution.  Many argue that the country already has a system in place that would allow those who desire to immigrate to this country legally the opportunity.  Others argue that even with those laws in place there are tens of millions of people already within the US illegally and it is not feasible to track those people down and force them through deportation or the legalization process.  

                When it comes to economic freedom the classical liberal stance is clearly that open borders and freedom of movement is acceptable and perhaps even desired on grounds of liberty.  Mises wrote, “There cannot be the slightest doubt that migration barriers diminish the productivity of human labor.” Many economists even argue that illegal immigration is a necessary component of the working economy of the US. The question becomes why has the United States, a country that was founded on immigration and utilized it as a necessity of rapid growth in the 19th and 20th century having such a difficult time reaching agreements in Washington?  The president’s actions were unconstitutional in my opinion and as of yesterday the House voted to make them null and void, which is just the first step in stopping the executive order. But on the grounds of liberty the actions of the plan themselves are a small drop in the bucket compared to the immigration reform that needs to take place within the country.  It might be time for our country to revisit the words on the statue of liberty that so many of our forefathers saw on their way to Ellis Island,

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 

Are We Really Free?

During the semester we been talking a lot about liberty. Liberty to do what you want with your person and your property as long as it does not cause harm towards others. In the United States it is very easy to assume that we have the liberty to do what we want with our property and our person as long as it does not cause harm towards others. I used to believe that until I realized that there our laws out there that prevents me from doing certain things with my private property such as zoning laws, or laws that prevent me from selling a kidney.

I once thought of the United States as being free and to a certain extent it is free, but because of laws that restrict me from doing certain things or laws that enable the government to do certain things to me such as the NSA potentially spying I feel like my very own liberty has been violated. Laws have even been passed to force me to purchase health insurance. The government is using its force to violate the liberty of citizens.

It is really easy to call the U.S. a free country and to extent it still is, but when there are laws in place that would do no harm to others or their private property if the law were to be violated. These laws tell us what we can and cannot do with our private property, they tell us what we cannot do with our bodies, and they tell us were we can and cannot live. We still own our private property, but sometimes it really makes me think if we really do or if the government is just "leasing" it out to us.

I am not saying that the U.S. is not a free country because to an extent it is. All I wanted to say is that even though the U.S. is a free country the government has the power to violate our liberties. They violate our liberty of private property, and they violate the liberty that we have of ourselves. Sure we are free to prosper in the economy, but you better follow the rules that the government has in place or you might not be "free" for very much longer.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

 

Education Reform

                Taking a look at funding in public schools, I got to thinking about the students that lie on both the low and high end of mental capacity spectrum. Many school systems seem to have focused on spending money, time, and energy on building programs for special needs students. At the same time, there is not nearly the same amount spent on students who drastically excel compared to their classmates. While there are some programs available to extremely smart students, there are not enough. It is my belief that the same amount of money, time, and energy that is spent on special needs students should be spent on the students whom are extremely smart.

                Many studies show that these students face issues with being truly tested in their schoolwork. Many have a tendency to become bored with what they are learning, and know that they can learn much more than what they are being taught. If these students are going to grow up and make advancements for the betterment of everyone, then it is only logical that they should be given extra resources to get a better education from a younger age. Even though these programs will not have much if any short term return on investments, the long term return will be exponential. These students will have the opportunity to test their limits and make advancements quicker than they have previously been able to.

 

Professional Politicians

Ever get the feeling that those whom have been elected into office have been professional politicians their whole lives? It seems like every time I look at current news, that feeling comes to mind. Due to a recently assigned article, written by Scott A. Boykin, I started thinking about the professional politicians who have become strewn throughout our current government. It always seems when professional politicians first get into office, their first order of business is to benefit the interest groups who backed their campaign. Many of these politicians are elected into offices which have relatively short term limits. During this time in office, many do not take into account long-term implications, or the costs associated with their actions.
It is my opinion that those who have been elected into office should be the leaders of their respective fields. If elected officials have previously demonstrated they have the ability to make sound decisions at a high level, then they should be able to do so while leading the country. Most highly successful entrepreneurs continue to do what they do because they love what they do. While continually making more money is a perk that everyone enjoys, money becomes just that. A perk of the job. The real thrill is diving into something new and making it the best that they could possibly make it. The constantly evolving environment and the relentless competition are waters that these types of people have learned to navigate over the years.

Leaders of their respective fields have an innate knowledge of how to run a business; unlike where many others have failed. Using a finite amount of resources to achieve an optimal output is what this country needs in its politics. Hard decisions will be made, but at the end of the day, the maximum amount of people will benefit. This maximum benefit will also occur with minimum costs associated with doing so. By operating politics like a well-oiled business, funds can be used on projects that will truly benefit this countries citizens, instead of those that got them elected. If this were to take place, I am positive that we would see swift and drastic beneficial changes.

 

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

One of the topics that we discussed in class was conservation. I chose the topic of whether or not we should drill for oil in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge as it has been a very controversial topic as of late. Many people see it as completely senseless for us to not drill for oil there as there is a plethora of it. However, there are many people who see the many negative effects that this would cause as outweighing the gains that we would get from it.
Many proponents of drilling in ANWR speak of the countless jobs that it would provide as being beneficial, especially in an ailing economy; not to mention the general economic benefits the oil would provide. They also speak of the positive effects of lessening our dependence on foreign oil. This not only provides economic benefits to our country but on a global political aspect can only weaken the Middle East, Russia, and Venezuela and help our fight against terrorism, communism, and anti-liberal regimes.
People who are against the drilling of oil in ANWR often talk about the harm that it can cause to the animals and wildlife in the area. Though this is a big part of the anti-drilling argument, many anti-drilling proponents speak about the amount of time before there is any reasonable amount of oil that can be of use to us or whether it even has any significant amount of oil at all. And if it even does, why not save it as a sort of backup plan for when we REALLY need the oil.
There are many arguments for and against the drilling of oil in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge. However, I think anyone who is for liberalism and pro-liberal policies cannot reasonably advocate for the prevention of oil in ANWR.

 

Discrimination in the Locker Room

One of the most fascinating topics that we focused more recently in class involved discrimination. Not only did it include discrimination involving different races and sexes but it also included how a business person may have changed prices to affect their net profit from a certain group and other such examples. Nowadays there seems to be much less discrimination due to the fact that labor laws have changed how we approach situations like that. Although we have put in place some decent laws regarding the extermination of discrimination in the workplace, we can still find things that push the boundaries on what companies can do with regards to hiring people.
I would say that at my first job there may have been an instance where there was discrimination against any sort of women trying to apply for the job I was doing. Around 2007, I started a job with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, a triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies MLB team. I was a bat boy about half the time and the other half I spent helping players with any needs they may have wanted help with. I noticed there wasn't a single female working in the clubhouse. A couple years later when I helped my boss interview new workers for the same position I was in, I noticed one girl had applied for the position. When we called her up to be interviewed my boss shook her hand and flat out told her that girls were not allowed to work in the clubhouse. Since she had applied to many other positions in the stadium she just said it was okay and moved on. Immediately I wondered why this was the case. My boss' answer was basically that sometimes the baseball players are naked walking around after showers and stuff (after working 7 years there I can safely say they clearly like to be stripped down). Although it seems reasonable to say a woman should not have to see naked men running around, it still seems like that is not an adequate reason as to why she wouldn't be allowed to work there. Nothing in the job description says there are rules against it and it clearly to me would violate the liberty of that woman to want to work there and by us turning her down due to her gender would be discrimination. As i said before it is reasonable to want to keep that female from being harmed by naked ball players, it still does not justify why that should keep her from the job. I certainly did not want to see that stuff everyday but I was hired no problem because I was a guy. There should be no difference in this case considering there are no boundaries to the position. When you see female trainers on teams on different ball clubs or any sort of professional sport, they cannot justify why women cannot also be a player assistant or bat boy. This, to me, clearly violates the liberty of that individual and is a strong signal that the hiring process involves discrimination.

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