Shouldn’t freedom be shared?

July 3rd, 2010

Today all across the country we are celebrating independence day (never mind the fact that we’re celebrating a day early around here because the 4th lands on a Sunday).  Each year at this time we congratulate ourselves on how free we are and how grateful we are that we threw off our oppressive government that had no respect for the rule of law and no respect for private property.  What does that last statement have to do with sharing freedom?  It has everything to do with sharing freedom.

First I would like to be clear about what I mean when I speak of sharing freedom.  There are people all over this world that live under the oppression of their governments.  Their governments have found that they can tax their people to the limits of their productivity or directly take the natural resources of their lands and sell them for profit (often to the detriment of their citizens).  Many of these people only want relief.  They want to find a home where their property is not randomly seized by their government or robbers unthreatened by the rule of law.  It’s kind of like what the first immigrants here in North America as well as the first settlers here in Utah wanted.

We have a long tradition of escaping oppression.  By extension, we should continue that tradition by welcoming those seeking relief.  Why should we be trying to help those that also want to be free?  Because they are people just like us.  They have families and friends that they love and want to enjoy without threat from their government.  Those of us that call ourselves Christians and believe in the doctrines found in the bible are particularly responsible to help those who wish to come here to escape oppression.  In Deuteronomy 10:18-19 (NIV) we read, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.  And you are to love those who are aliens for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt”.  In Psalm 146:7 (NIV) we see, “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.  The LORD sets prisoners free.”

I bring all of this up because there is a human aspect to immigration (legal or illegal) that is missing from all of the debates I have seen.  We talk about people and assume them to be criminals and robbers.  We hear about how evil immigrants are and how they will destroy our culture and take our jobs.  They come here and use our government services without paying the taxes to support them.  Sounds like a lot of fear mongering to me.  Though that last part about using government services seems to have some interesting problems.

Why are we afraid of someone getting government health care and food assistance when they have not paid the taxes for it?  Why should we resent the fact that others are benefiting from our tax dollars?  Nay, why should we resent clothing the naked and feeding the hungry with our tax dollars?  I posit that it is because the help is forced.  We still feel that the money that has been taken by our government is still somehow ours.  In truth, it IS ours as there is nothing inherent in the formation of a government that gives it the right to strip its citizens of property be it goods, real estate, or money.

It is our responsibility to help those in need, but it is wrong to force our fellow citizens to provide that help.  Forced charity is not charity, but robbery.

So where does this leave us with immigration?  At this time we need to stop being distracted by immigration as a great evil to be dealt with.  We need to stop treating immigrants as criminals who want to take our resources by way of our government.  We should instead, focus on disarming the weapon we are accusing them of using.  That is to say, we should reexamine the role of government in our lives and use it to enforce the right to own and keep property instead of using it to take property for the purposes of assisting those in need that we should be helping directly anyway.

If we were to do this then the arguments about immigrants coming here for free healthcare and other welfare services would fall flat.  If we properly restrained our government we would never need to fear that new people coming into our country would ever use it to rob us and benefit themselves.

Last of all.  I would like to suggest that on this independence day we are back in the hands of oppressors who rob us of our property and use it for their own purposes.  Unfortunately our oppressors are us.  Isaiah wrote: “People will oppress each other – man against man, neighbor against neighbor…” (Isaiah 3:5)(NIV).

Many have forgotten what real liberty is.  Today I wish to urge everyone to start learning what real freedom of life, liberty, and property is so that we can start reclaiming it.

Economic mistakes we can easily make

May 6th, 2010

In our state and country we seem to take some things as foregone conclusions.  Housing prices will always on the average go up, and property taxes are a part of owning property.  I think that both of these are dangerous notions that don’t just result in less liberty, they are less liberty.  I’ll start with the results I have observed.

I really think that the “Real estate value only goes up” myth has two results (I won’t speak of the purposes as that could prove to be an unneeded diversion). 1. It makes people feel better about inflation destroying every other means of storing wealth (at least you can still try to store wealth in your house until the gains get taxed away). 2. It creates a constant implicit rise in taxes for cities.  Many residents won’t dispute the increased appraisal because if you tell someone their house is more valuable and they will want to believe it.  They will often accept the tax increase by way of increased property valuation because they believe they are benefiting from it.

The fallacy I wish to discuss today is that inflation is not seen as the great destroyer of wealth.  We hold onto real estate because it is one of the only forms of wealth storage that does not get destroyed by inflation.  I would like to address inflation by comparing money to stock in a company.  Money is very similar to a company’s stock.  Ideally there is an unchanging amount of it, that way when you have one share you know exactly how much of an interest you have in the company.

Lets take this example and assume that I have a company and there are 50,000 shares of stock in my company.  I have an investor and I sell them 10,000 shares of my company in exchange for their investment money.  They now have a 20% interest in my company.  Assume that I have more investors and they each want 10,000 shares.  At this rate I can only do that 4 more times and then I may have a job, but no company as I will have sold all of it.  What do I do if I want to sell 50,000 shares and I still want to own half of my company?  If I took the route of inflation I could double the number of shares (printing is cheap anyway).  Now I have 100,000 shares and I can sell off four more blocks of 10,000 without giving away more than 50% of my company.

On the surface that sounds like a great idea, but you’re probably looking at that saying that it should be securities fraud (I hope).  You can see that I now have more of my company, but what is not always seen is that I have robbed the first investor of a full half of his investment!  Whereas before he had bought 10% of my company he still has the same number of shares, but now only owns 5%.  A theft of the sneakiest variety as he still looks at his 10k shares and believes he has everything he paid for.

Lets take this example and apply it to our money.  When we consistently keep putting more money into circulation it is like printing off more shares in a corporation.  Money does not have implicit value.  It only has value as the commodity that we reckon exchange with.  When you buy a car you are not spending $30,000 on a car.  You are exchanging $30k/<total money supply> for that car.  When the total money supply sharply increases prices will follow starting at the first places where that money comes into the economy.  Consider the prices found in industries that benefit from government deficit spending such as defense.  Once everything evens out after the supply has inflated (assuming other market forces have not impacted prices through he supply chain) the car will now cost <new supply of money> * $30k / <original supply of money>.  Whatever you do the car will cost more money.  Not because it is more valuable, but because the money has become less valuable.

One disclaimer.  I know that the matter is more complex than a simple proportion as I have presented above.  However, the example still illustrates the principle in a way that is none the less true.  There is a certain amount of irreducible complexity that is inherent in these problems.

The real key to this is that many people today look at a little bit of inflation as a necessary evil (I’ll deal with why deflation isn’t so scary as some would have us believe in another post).  It’s not.  Without inflation saving for retirement would be much easier.  I posit that more people would have an incentive to save for their retirement if their savings wasn’t constantly losing relative value every year.  There would also be less of a push for risky investments that try to outrun inflation where people end up losing their retirements.  Without inflation it might become feasible for many people to plan for their own retirements without depending on social security or other government programs.  (Programs that require inflation to remain in operation)

It’s a very neat trick that is played.  Take from people the resources needed to take care of themselves through explicit taxes (income/property/usage fees/etc…) and implicit taxes (inflation).  Then turn around and give the resources back and take credit for being the benefactor and not the robber.

As I run for State Legislature I go because I believe we can all do a better job of taking care of ourselves and each other than any government ever can.

The concept of non-rule

April 11th, 2010

I view our constitutional government as an attempt at non-government.  Just barely enough government to survive in a world of states where those without the “protection” of a state will be taken over by other states.  The trouble is that those running it didn’t understand the vision of non-government.

It is obvious that most people today don’t understand the vision of non-government.  It’s not just our federal and state governments that are the problem.  Even many local city governments wish to control everything within the boundaries of their unit of government.

Ultimately, if you give any group a monopoly on the power to tax, fine, and punish crime; the definition of what is taxable and the definition of crime will be ever expanding until you, the citizen, become a slave paying tribute for the right to barely scratch out a living in a land of plenty.  Why do we accept such a generous offer from the state?  First, because the state claims that without it we would all die in the primitive conditions of nature.  Second, because the state isn’t making an offer.  If you wish to live you will submit to the state’s rule.

The question in my mind is whether or not it is moral for the state or it’s agents (governors, state legislators, police, employees, contractors, etc.) to tell any of its subjects what they can and can not do with their bodies, goods, or real estate.  Many accept the current state of government because they simply can not imagine a world that is any other way.  I posit that there is a way of living that can result in greater happiness and prosperity than we enjoy today.  As I write here I hope to convey the vision of what that means and how it can be done through reducing government control in all of our lives.

In favor of limited government

March 22nd, 2010

It is an interesting time to be involved in politics.  It’s even more interesting to consider the current theory of government.  I’m not sure when government stopped being a punisher of criminals and became a protector of people.  Some may even make the mistake of confusing the two. I wanted to start here because it is an important distinction.

What is the different between punishing criminals and protecting people?  When punishing criminals you have clear lines drawn.  When those lines are crossed you know it has happened.  It is easy to tell when someone has had something stolen.  It is easy to tell when an act of aggression has taken place.  Though, it may not always be clear who initiated the act and who has used their natural rights of self defence.  These are what I would call “easy” problems.  Easy because even though they are complex problems they still pale in comparision to the difficulty of protecing people.

When you seek to protect people you find ways to “prevent” crime.  You look at indicators and make correlations.  When you find what looks like an indicator you say “This is it!  If I outlaw this indicator this crime will go away with it!”  Very short sighted.  Imagine, if you will, that someone published a staistic saying that 75% of criminals drank hard liquor.  It would be easy to make the assumption that drinking hard liquor leads to criminal activity.  If you have any doubt that this leap in logic would be made I will refer you to the current war on drugs.  It does not matter if that assumption is correct or not.  This can lead (as seen with prohibition) to these indicators of crime being declared crimes in their own right.  In the 20’s consuming alcohol was illegal in the name of preserving morality.

The real problem with this is that you go from having crimes against specific persons to having crimes against unnamed unenumerable persons that may or may not eventually be harmed.  I refer to this as confusing liability for criminality.  Take note also that I mean liability in the sense of personal risk, not in the sense of responsibility for actions.

I posit that once our government steps out of the role of punishing criminals (people who steal, aggress, and murder) it begins to chase after an ever widening scope of crimes and social injustices while becoming the very perpetrator of the aggression against persons and property.  Doing that which it was tasked with punishing in the first place.

As I run for the seat of the 52nd House District I do so for the sole purpose of reducing our government’s involvement in everyones lives.  I am not just in favor of states rights, but I am in favor of returning the natural rights of self, property, and the products of one’s labor back to the people of the state of utah who have slowly lost those rights one legislative session at a time.