Labor

Government Gone Bad

Central planners and liberal politicians are clueless about what really helps workers: a free economy.

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Politicians claim they make our lives better by passing laws. But laws rarely improve life. They go wrong. Unintended consequences are inevitable.

Most voters don't pay enough attention to notice. They read headlines. They watch the Rose Garden signing ceremonies and hear the pundits declare that progress was made. Bipartisanship! Something got done. We assume a problem was solved.

Intuition tells us that government is in the problem-solving business, and so the more laws passed, the better off we are. The possibility that fewer laws could leave us better off is hard to grasp. Kids visiting Washington don't ask their congressmen, "What laws did you repeal?" It's always, "What did you pass?"

And so they pass and pass—a thousand pages of proposed new rules each week—and for every rule, there's an unintended consequence, or several.

It's one reason America has been unusually slow to recover from the Great Recession. After previous recessions, employers quickly resumed hiring. Not this time. The unemployment rate is still near 8 percent. It only fell last month because people stopped looking for jobs.

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute understands what's happening.

"Add up all the regulations and red tape, all the government spending, all the tax increases we're about to get—you can understand why entrepreneurs think: "Maybe I don't want to hire people. … I want to keep my company small. I don't want to give health insurance, because then I'm stuck with all the Obamacare mandates." We can see our future in Europe—unless we change. Ann Jolis, who covers European labor issues for The Wall Street Journal, watches how government-imposed work rules sabotage economies.

"The minimum guaranteed annual vacation in Europe is 20 days paid vacation a year. … In France, it starts at 25 guaranteed days off. … This summer, the European Court of Justice … gave workers the right to a vacation do-over. … You spend the last eight days of your vacation laid up with a sprained ankle … eight days automatically go into your sick leave. … You get a vacation do-over."

Such benefits appeal to workers, who don't realize that the goodies come out of their wages. The unemployed don't realize that such rules deter employers from hiring them in the first place.

In Italy, some work rules kick in once a company has more than 10 employees, so companies have an incentive not to hire an 11th employee. Businesses stay small. People stay unemployed.

"European workers have the right … to gainful unemployment," says Jolis.

Both European central planners and liberal politicians in America are clueless about what really helps workers: a free economy.

The record is clear. Central planners failed, in the Soviet Union, in Cuba, at the U.S. Postal Service and in America's public schools, and now they stifle growth in Europe and America. Central planning stops innovation.

Yet for all that failure, whenever another crisis (real or imagined) hits, the natural instinct is to say, "Politicians must do something."

In my town, unions and civil rights groups demand a higher minimum wage. That sounds good to people. Everyone will get a raise!

The problem is in what is not seen. I can interview the guy who got a raise. I can't interview workers who are never offered jobs because the minimum wage or high union pay scales "protected" those jobs out of existence.

The benefit of government leaving us alone is rarely intuitive.

Because companies just want to make a buck, it's logical to assume that only government rules assure workers' safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets safety standards for factories, and OSHA officials proudly point out that workplace deaths have dropped since it opened its doors.

Thank goodness for government, right? Well, not so fast. Go back a few years before OSHA, and we find that workplace deaths were dropping just as fast.

Workers are safer today because we are richer, and richer societies care more about safety. Even greedy employers take safety precautions if only because it's expensive to replace workers who are hurt!

Government is like the person who gets in front of a parade and pretends to lead it.

In a free society, things get better on their own—if government will only allow it.

NEXT: Sheriff: Oregon Mall Shooter Likely Chose Targets At Random

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  1. I disagree with the premise, in a perfect world, everybody would do the right thing. In the world we live in they cut corners. That’s why some rules are necessary.

    1. Taxes are the price we pay for not being a civilized society.

      1. Amen. Holmes got it exactly backward.

      2. I disagree. Government is not a civilizing process. Every moral decision happens in an individual’s mind. It cannot be shared or thinned or spread out. Someone made a decision and is responsible for it. Government can only obscure that fact.

        1. I didnt say it was a civilizing process.

          Im saying the reason we have government at all is that we arent civilized. The fact that government exists proves it.

          It didnt make us civilized or we would have got rid of it.

          1. I would say that’s fairly accurate.

          2. Pardon. I read it differently. Text-only communication and all that.

    2. Re: Tim,

      In the world we live in they cut corners. That’s why some rules are necessary.

      Do you really think that people are aware of the rules unless a government legislates them?

      Do you really think people do not cut corners around such legislated rules?

      Don’t you think that people will have a false sense of security and lower their guard when government legislates such rules, instead of keeing their guard high and their senses tuned for fraud and deceit?

      What is better: A world where people know they can be fooled, thereby keeping their common sense well maintained and greased (as Richard Feynman would say) or a world full of credulous nitwits who operate under the assumption that Daddy Government will always be there to make the boo-boo go away?

      I would think HELL would look like the second world I described above.

      1. By the way, it should be “Do you really think that people are not aware of rules unless a government legislates them?”

        1. Do you want to live in a world of stoplights, or a world where your life deepends on whether I feel like stopping?

      2. Don’t you think that people will have a false sense of security and lower their guard when government legislates such rules, instead of keeing their guard high and their senses tuned for fraud and deceit?

        I think people would be more likely to get screwed, and would find society so unacceptably risky that they would start forming governments.

        How are there even rules–as opposed to just exploitation–without someone making and enforcing them? We just all magically are born understanding what they should be and compliant to them?

  2. Just as we have a commission that recommends military bases to be closed, we should have a commission that recommends laws to be repealed.

    1. How about a new branch of government?
      Size it like a Congress. Empower it like a Constitutional court. Pay reduced according to the current number of active pages of the Federal Register. New elections any year there’s a deficit, tax increase or per-capita spending increase.

  3. “In a free society, things get better on their own [or they don’t].”

    Comparing this most recent recession to any other economic crisis than the Great Depression is to misunderstand its causes and scale. Unless someone would like to name all the extra regulations and government meddling that existed prior to it that didn’t exist prior to the other ones.

    John Stossel is living proof that discovering libertarianism makes you a dumber person.

    1. THREE CHEERS FOR THE KING OF THE DERPS!

      HIP HIP HOORAY!

      HIP HIP HOORAY!

      HIP HIP HOORAY!

      1. He apparently has the vocabulary and analytical depth of a kindergartener. A Princeton grad! That is what libertarianism does to you.

        It is after all the political philosophy for people who think claims are truer the simpler they are.

        1. It is after all the political philosophy for people who think claims are truer the simpler they are.

          So you mean people who understand Occam’s Razor?

          1. Which apparently doesn’t include you.

            1. Considering you used the word “truer”, I was dumbing down Occam’s Razor to your level, that is the level of a mongoloid cretin who has no bowel control.

              1. No I think you just don’t know what you’re talking about. For an example of what I mean, consult robc’s post below.

                It must be the case that the fewer laws, the better. As justification for this claim, he offers nothing. Yet versions of this mindset populate libertarian belief. One can only assume that you prefer the world to be simple so that you can better understand it, and have latched onto a philosophy that rewards you for this simplemindedness.

                1. I dont normally respond to socks or puppets, but you mentioned me in an idiotic manner.

                  As justification for this claim, he offers nothing.

                  Bullshit, I offered all of Coase’s research in this area.

                  Either you cant read or you are a liar. Im going with both.

                  1. This is what you get when you argue with chimps, robc.

                  2. It wasn’t Coase’s research you’re referring to but a quotation in which he refers to studies he published as editor of The Journal of Law and Economics. Anyway, he states that all regulations studied increased prices and were less adapted to the needs of consumers than they otherwise would have been. I have no idea if this is true, but even if it is, he misses the point. If you only judge regulations by how much they increase the price of goods, then all regulations are bad. But the purpose of regulations is to account for externalities. Yes the cost of, say, a drug might be increased by a regulation, but if the regulation prevents the drug from killing people then you can’t say the regulation is all bad.

                    1. What about regulations that delay the release of life-saving drugs for years Tony? How about those consequences? Regulation isn’t to account for externalities or whatever you learned in elementary school. It’s for Top.Men to exercise control and to fuck over small competitors of big companies

                2. You’re just a mendacious little shit.

                  Laws are an attempt to control chaos, yes? A world with less law would be more chaotic, in the mathematical sense. Of course, your pea-brain is incapable of graping Daniel Dennet’s (not that you’ve ever heard of him) arguement in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea that succiently shows that order can arise from chaos without any sort of mind or plan.

                  Your philosophy is no differant than the belief that one can sacrifice virgins to volcanos in an attempt to control the weather, another dynamic, deterministic but mathematically chaotic system.

                  1. *different

                  2. The more laws and order are made prominent,
                    The more thieves and robbers there will be.
                    — Lao Tzu

                  3. I’ve read all of Dennett’s books! The concept of emergent order in nature is quite irrelevant to the question of how society should be structured. You don’t get sophisticated civilization by waiting around for it to happen, and you absolutely don’t get one that has protection of individual rights as one of its components. Wars had to be fought over these things, and they are only protected by precarious systems of checks and balances.

                    Understand that I believe the entire conversation of whether more or fewer laws is good or bad is a pointless and nonsensical one. There are perfectly comprehensible reasons that rules and rulemaking exist. The only question is whether a rule is needed, that is, to what end.

                    1. Then do you agree that there are innumerable laws currently on the books that are actively having a negative economic effect? Do you believe that our lives would be better or worse if we removed such laws?

                    2. Most probably. But we have to go through them one by one.

                    3. I was watching Hoarders yesterday. They talked about how one of the biggest reasons it’s impossible to stop hoarders is because they always want to go through their precious items one at a time. Of course, when they go through everything one at a time, nothing ever gets done and their hoarding continues.

                      When you start making arguments identical to the people on Hoarders, it’s probably best that you reassess your political opinions.

                    4. A few years ago, Arizona started suspending for various regulatory agencies their power to make rules. Somehow, the world didn’t end.

                      As a follow up to that, there was an effort to reduce regulation by grouping them into buckets and letting the legislature vote on them that way.

                      That’s probably marginally better than going one by one. On the other hand, I can see how it would be worse. If you have one “good” regulation in the bunch, then there is an emotional need to save that one, even though it means keeping all of the unnecessary ones.

                    5. they always want to go through their precious items one at a time

                      I use the “square foot” method. Every day I pick a square foot clutter area and either put it away or toss it. That usually keeps my wife from “Baby & Bathwater” more than twice a year.

                    6. Most probably. But we have to go through them one by one.

                      Last I knew the Federal Register was over 80,000 pages long.

                    7. The concept of emergent order in nature is quite irrelevant to the question of how society should be structured.

                      The Austrian School along with many other philosophers, economists and other thinkers disagree.

                      This would be a fascinating topic to discuss and debate, if you weren’t untruthful and didn’t spout ad homeniem attacks everytime you were rhetorically cornered.

                    8. “the question of how society should be structured.”

                      That’s your problem right there sockpuppet. IT’S NOT YOUR FUCKING PLACE TO STRUCTURE SOCIETY!

                    9. Get a grip.

                    10. You want control of your fellow human being and I’m the one that needs to get a grip?

                3. The most easily grasped justification for simplification of laws: Things have gotten to the point that even the experts in any particular area of the law cannot possibly know what might be illegal. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” is long since an axiom of the law legislated into parody.

                4. Re: Tony,

                  It must be the case that the fewer laws, the better. As justification for this claim, he offers nothing.

                  Looks like logic and common sense are concepts foreign to you. But I will try again, only because I am still hopefull:

                  What would you prefer: Work with an association governed by a rule book you can learn in one hour, or by a rule book that requires 10,000 hours?

                  Because this “show me the statistics” shit is really getting old, Tony. I am beginning to think that you really really prefer NOT to think, even a little.

            1. Oh Tony, you’re such a scamp.

              1. Tony is correct in asserting thet “elegence” (as the term is used in logic) is not equal to “true”; however, I’m surprised he has enough brains to even recognize the difference. We’re so used to simplifying even slightly-complex subjects to him that who knew he would appreciate the nuance?

              2. Applying parsimony to competing hypotheses means that the one that makes the fewest assumptions is the best choice.

                “Laws are bad, mmkay” is a hypothesis, but it is not a particularly parsimonious one, which is beside the point, as it is closer to the level of simpleminded nonsense than hypothesis.

                1. Nobody is saying that “laws are bad” shithead, just that laws that don’t protect property/liberty are bad.

                  Making it legal to rape me in the ass does not mean it’s a good law.

                  1. How can it be that laws that protect property are good, but laws that prevent starvation can’t possibly be good?

                    1. Because you have to steal the food and/or money from someone else to provide that starving person with food.

                      Stealing is bad, no matter who does it.

                    2. Stealing is bad, no matter who does it.

                      Nuh uh! It’s not stealing when the government does it because … might makes right!

                    3. So why is it okay to “steal” to provide for police, courts, and all the other apparatus necessary to have a system of property rights?

                    4. So why is it okay to “steal” to provide for police, courts, and all the other apparatus necessary to have a system of property rights?

                      Without the apparatus necessary to secure property and liberty, there is no “society.”

                    5. Without the apparatus necessary to secure property and liberty, there is no “society.”

                      So how do you know the best thing to do is stop at property and liberty (whatever you take that to mean)? If it’s stealing, it’s stealing, right?

                    6. So why is it okay to “steal” to provide for police, courts, and all the other apparatus necessary to have a system of property rights?

                      …might makes right?

                    7. laws that prevent starvation

                      laws that use coercion to fund charity …

                      might makes right

                    8. might makes right

                      I haven’t given much thought to this until now, but that would really make a lot of sense as to why progressives want gun control. Take the power, exert your own.


                    9. I haven’t given much thought to this until now, but that would really make a lot of sense as to why progressives want gun control. Take the power, exert your own.

                      Ummm….duh?

                      Thats exactly the reason for it. Almost every tyrant in history has tried to disarm the populace, at least as far as they could endanger himself.

                    10. Almost every tyrant in history has tried to disarm the populace, at least as far as they could endanger himself.

                      Well, I know that. I guess up until very recently I just thought that proggies really thought that disarming the public would make things safer for everyone, despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary.

                      I was speaking more of the mindset depriving someone of their firearms causes; breed citizens that would never under any circumstance question the authority of the Top Men.

                    11. citizens that would never under any circumstance question the authority of the Top Men.

                      Well, yeah. Tyrants and blind followers go hand in hand.

                    12. If you really think about it, there isn’t much that progressives want that does not come from the premise that ‘might makes right’.

                      Having the last word in violence means you’re always right, even when you are wrong.

                    13. anon @ 12:46: Congratulations, you’re learning. But it’s not all progressives, just the leaders, who seek power as an end; the rest fall into the same category as Stalin’s useful idiots.

                      Now, get yourself a proper handle. Keep up the good work and we’ll invite you to pledge.

                    14. Now, get yourself a proper handle. Keep up the good work and we’ll invite you to pledge.

                      My handle is fine. There’s nothing I have to add that hasn’t been said before, because it’s the same fucking argument for the past 150 years.

                    15. My handle is fine.

                      It’s rather generic. Since you’re not registered the same handle could easily be used by one or more other posters thus sowing confusion.

                    16. Tony, please explain to me which law in America is preventing anyone from starving. You always make this assertion, but I help out at food pantries. Every food pantry I’ve ever volunteered at has too much food to give away. Most of it ends up rotting. This is true no matter where you go, be it in the suburbs, the inner cities or a rural area.

                      One food pantry I work at actually had SO MUCH FOOD that they got pissed when a local store started donating. You heard that right: The food pantry had too much food to give away, so they got angry when someone gave them more food.

                      Tell me again, how exactly is anyone starving in a society where you food pantries are literally overflowing? We could cut every food stamp program in the country and no one would go hungry, Tony.

                    17. One food pantry I work at actually had SO MUCH FOOD that they got pissed when a local store started donating.

                      Every year around this time several local radio stations do fund raisers for the local food banks. They regularly hit around $100,000 for a couple day’s work. Can you believe that? People voluntarily giving that much money to a charitable cause!!!

                    18. People voluntarily giving that much money to a charitable cause!!!

                      Have we ever asked Tony what he does to give back? Or is paying tax (and lamenting that he is not paying enough) all he does?

                    19. We could cut every food stamp program in the country and no one would go hungry, Tony.

                      Show your work. Besides, it’s just a hypothetical. Pick something else, like healthcare.

                    20. Show your work. Besides, it’s just a hypothetical. Pick something else, like healthcare.

                      You’re not playing my way! Wah! Play my way!

                    21. Pick something else, like healthcare.

                      What did you say a few weeks ago? No medicare is like shooting old people in the head?

                    22. No medicare is like shooting old people in the head?

                      Sign me the fuck up.

                    23. No, you show your work, Tony. You’re the one who consistently argues that people would starve without these laws and offer no evidence that these laws are necessary to prevent people from going hungry. I pointed out that your extreme example, that of starvation, is idiotic because American society is literally overflowing with food.

                      I realize pointing out the mass of food at food pantries that goes uneaten is anecdotal evidence, but it’s more evidence than you’ve ever given. I like that you give no evidence for any of your arguments but I need to cite as many sources as possible, since my evidence isn’t good enough for grandmaster Tony.

                      So again, who would starve without government financed food? Because you’re the one who brought starvation into this, not me.

                    24. Okay well let’s talk about some hypothetical society that is not “overflowing with food.” You’re missing the point. How can it be OK to use government guns to enforce property rights while it’s not OK to use them to enforce access to basic needs?

                      The question for libertarianism is this: how do you justify using government to protect the luxuries of the rich, while it ignores the basic needs of the poor?

                    25. At this point the conversation usually goes silent, because it’s not actually a question you can answer satisfactorily.

                    26. No, it never goes silent at this point, dink. If it does, it’s usually because you get answered and then disappear.

                      Property rights DO NOT protect the luxuries of the rich. They protect ALL our property. Why don’t we discuss Kelo v. City of New London, a supreme court ruling in which the LIBERAL wing of the Supreme Court decided that it’s okay for governments to use imminent domain to take property from the poor and sell it to corporate interests.

                      This is a blatant violation of property rights. Now tell me again how property right protection helps the rich and hurts the poor? Please, I’m all ears.

                    27. So to further answer your question: Property right protections are good because they help all of us. They keep us from worrying about the state of our property, since we know it will be here tomorrow. All business and economic expansion relies on property rights.

                      On the other hand, when government gives money away, it helps one group at the expense of others. Particularly, it helps groups with political pull. Property rights result in economic growth, expansion and the betterment of all mankind. Using government force to redistribute wealth results in crony capitalism, thuggery and a less dynamic economy.

                      How’s that for silence, Tony?

                    28. Property rights tend to be valued more by those with more property. Some have very little, if any, property. How do property rights benefit a homeless person?

                      You are in the position of saying government guns are legitimately deployed to protect a wealthy person’s 7th yacht but not a single cent can be spent to provide a poor person with healthcare. This is morally ridiculous.

                    29. I just gave you an example of government taking property from the poor to benefit the rich. Everyone has some form of property, even if it is just a place to live. You ignored my statement about the left wing justices on the Supreme Court undermining low income property rights in order to sell that property to a corporation. Of course you ignored this argument, since you are a goddamn idiot.

                    30. How is this for Good American Government using bombs to satisfy basic needs of the poor?

                      http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_06_26/79390184/

                    31. At this point the conversation usually goes silent, because it’s not actually a question you can answer satisfactorily.

                      There are many libertarians that favor limited government, and even support for the poor. They are not all anarchists, they do not all just reflexively dismiss every law or government program just because of its association with government. Many of them are pragmatists who think that things are generally better, the less government, and the more freedom, we have.

                      Yesterday, didn’t you, yourself, say that right to work laws were both 1. bad, and 2. “unlibertarian” (sic)? This implies you would prefer a libertarian policy.

                      You shouldn’t be surprised by the silence when you’re knocking over your own straw men, over and over again, like a broken record.

                      We can keep explaining it to you, Tony, but we can’t make you understand.

                    32. I guess it’s a satisfactory answer to say “I guess taxation isn’t theft after all, that we merely disagree about what government should do, and there is absolutely no moral distinction between our views of the role of government.” That would satisfy me and I might even go away. Instead you guys keep telling me your preferred form of society is required by certain moral first principles.

                    33. Tony said:

                      I guess it’s a satisfactory answer to say “I guess taxation isn’t theft after all, that we merely disagree about what government should do, and there is absolutely no moral distinction between our views of the role of government.” That would satisfy me and I might even go away.

                      Many libertarians, while favoring the concept of taxation and a military, disapprove of being the world’s policeman, and would say that preemptive invasion, as well as the draft, are immoral.

                      You can say that, since they’ve allowed taxes and the military in the first place, they’ve forfeited any moralistic claims to compulsory service or military application, since taxation and war = coercion and violence. However, since they’re not anarchists, they haven’t forfeited all moral claims, just claims that all coercion and violence must be rejected. If libertarians were anarchist and supporting taxation, the military, etc, you may have a point.

                      I’m sure you can think of many other counter examples to your claim. It’s not hard.

                      In short, you keep assuming that libertarians are all anarchists who haven’t figured out that anarchy requires no government. Then, you go off like a flamethrower in a room full of straw men.

                      In the end, you’re just convincing libertarians that they’re not anarchists, not that they aren’t libertarians, or that libertarianism is inconsistent hypocrisy, just because it isn’t anarchy.

                    34. Tony said:

                      Instead you guys keep telling me your preferred form of society is required by certain moral first principles.

                      You’re a pragmatic consequentalist/utilitarian. Since those are ethical theories, they are related to morals and morality. Even if all you want to do is maximize human well-being, whatever that takes, you’ve established a principle (i.e., “Maximizing human well-being is good/just/moral”). Since you have established at least one principle, this implies a set of “first principles”, even if that set is exhaustive of all principles.

                      So, you’re not exactly avoiding moral/ethical principles. You just disagree about what those are, and how they should be applied.

                      This may surprise you, but some people justify the Non Aggression Principle as a conclusion of rule utilitarianism (see Friedrich Hayek). For Hayek, the NAP was a utilitarian conclusion, not a premise.

                      You need to give the straw men a rest. Either that, or you need to read up on ethics, morality, NAP, utilitarianism, etc, before you go explaining everyone’s hypocrisy to them.

                      As a side note, I’m curious to know the decision processes that lead to you, claiming the maximization of human well-being as the ultimate goal, to spend so much time trolling libertarian web sites and making straw man/tu quoque fallacy arguments all day.

                    35. At this point the conversation usually goes silent, because it’s not actually a question you can answer satisfactorily.

                      Only because you turn tail and run.

                    36. Only because you turn tail and run.

                      He’ll be back in two hours, when nobody else is checking the comment here, to add his last two cents and claim victory.

                    37. He’ll be back in two hours, when nobody else is checking the comment here, to add his last two cents and claim victory.

                      Yeah, with some bs about how taxation for the purpose of paying police to do the job of enforcing private property rights is no different than taxation for the purpose of explicitly violating property rights by transferring wealth from a rich person to a poor person simply because the rich person can afford it.

                      His arguments boil down to one principle: Might makes right.

                      A government that exists to protect private property rights can also exist to violate private property rights because might makes right.

                      That’s our Tony!

                    38. HAHAHAHA! He showed up again at 3 P.M, almost exactly two hours after I posted my last argument, at which point he ignored my previous argument and reiterated a point I’d already refuted.

                      He is the most predictable person in the world.

                    39. how do you justify using government to protect the luxuries of the rich, while it ignores the basic needs of the poor?

                      Fucking property, how does it work?

                    40. The question for libertarianism is this: how do you justify using government to protect the luxuries of the rich, while it ignores the basic needs of the poor?

                      A) If the ‘luxuries’ the ‘rich’ have were not acquired through force or fraud, then the government should protect them from having those ‘luxuries’ taken from them by force or fraud.

                      B) Those same rules will permit the ‘poor’ to both attain and retain wealth as well. They do not ignore one group over another. The ends of providing for one group do not justify the means of stealing from a different group.

                    41. It costs tax money to protect the luxuries of the rich! Evil redistribution!

                    42. “The question for libertarianism is this: how do you justify using government to protect the luxuries of the rich, while it ignores the basic needs of the poor?”

                      I don’t. The rich would be fine. They for the most part have the means to protect their own property and luxuries. It is the poor and middle classes who need government to help protect their property. Where do you get the idea that laws protecting property don’t help the poor just as much as they do the rich?

                    43. Tony:
                      ” How can it be OK to use government guns to enforce property rights while it’s not OK to use them to enforce access to basic needs?”

                      This is fascinating bullshit.

                      ensuring personal rights is what ensures access to basic needs.

                      If you walk into a store with some money, you can buy food, even if some well-connected rich guy doesn’t want you to. Enforcing property rights protects and benefits the poor far more than it does the rich.

                      But the fascinating part is your use of the word “access”. What does that mean? And how do you enforce access?

                      I’m guessing in your world, it is where someone uses the police state to mooch off someone else.

                      If so, are you suggesting armed mooching is morally equivalent to armed protection of property rights?

                      If this is one of your premises, it explains so much re your postings here.

                    44. Pick something else, like healthcare.

                      Did you know that right now there are live people walking around that don’t have any kind of coverage? And if they go to a hospital they pay for the care they receive!

                      Of course, I’m assuming that when you say healthcare you actually mean health insurance. That’s generally what the folks on your side of the room do.

                    45. healthcare.

                      First off, it’s MEDICAL care, meaning discrete products and procedures provided by another trained person.

                      Healthcare is you’re problem, snookums, e.g.: What you eat, what you don’t eat, whom you fuck, whom you don’t fuck, what you choose to imbibe/smoke/inject and what you don’t, given in the parametres of your congenital existence, and you have no right or moral authority to demand that from another via “soft” coercion or at the point of a gun.

                      I happen to be, right now, in a former Soviet Bloc country that 22 years ago was as centrally Soviet planned as you can get, and I can tell you, firsthand, how awful centralized medical planning is in a country of ~45 million people.

                      I would strongly suggest you avoid opening that can of worms, your Twinkness, because I will tear off your head and shit down your neck. Rhetorically speaking, of course. }-[

                      Also, does AC-AC ring a bell with you?

                    46. OOOH…Damn, Dr. Groovus, you preach it!

                    47. *your problem in your Activities of Daily Living (ADL). -)

                    48. You do realize that healthcare is not a right, right?

                      Oh wait, no you don’t cause your a moron and a sockpuppet.

                    49. Begging the question. I say it should be a right, every bit as much as the right to own property. If anything it’s more essential to human life, liberty, and happiness.

                    50. Your health is a right. You have the right to do whatever you want to try and keep yourself as healthy as possible, without hurting anybody else in the process. However, it is nobody’s responsibility to do this but your own.

                      It is not your right to steal money from me to pay to pay for your own medical care.

                    51. It’s nice to know you support slavery sockpuppet.

                    52. Tony said:

                      Begging the question. I say it should be a right, every bit as much as the right to own property. If anything it’s more essential to human life, liberty, and happiness.

                      But, Tony, you reject all rigid premises (please see many of your previous comments). Under what justification, then, do you establish that anything is a right?

                    53. How can it be that laws that protect property are good, but laws that prevent starvation can’t possibly be good?

                      Laws don’t prevent starvation. They add no calories.

              3. You can always tell a socialist troll because they rarely bother to offer a counter assertion, just ad hominem cuts and demeaning other’s ideas.

                Tony is THE TROLL OF THE DAY!
                (Congrats Tony. You will receive a copy of the 2011 compendium of federal regulations and stool softener!)

                1. Tony is the troll of every day.

                  Its why I rarely read his posts (it takes an extra click to do it) and I feel dirty when I respond to one, like above.

                  1. Tony is the troll of every day.

                    Poor shrike.

        2. As opposed to you believe only that “might makes right”?

          KING OF THE DERPS!

          KING OF THE DERPS!

          DERP DERP DERP!

        3. That’s rich coming from a guy who’s political philosophy believes that Top Men can order the world.

          1. His philosophy is even simpler than that.

            Might makes right.

            Every argument he makes boils down to those three words.

            1. Your consistent mistake is assuming that I believe that to be a normative statement rather than a descriptive one.

              If you want to claim there is a divine arbitrator of moral truths (God) then we can have an 8th grade debate on the existence of God.

              1. Shorter Tony: Might makes right.

            2. Your consistent mistake is assuming that Tony thinks.

        4. A Princeton grad!

          I know; there’s clearly something deeply wrong with any school that would let someone like you teach there.

    2. Ask and ye shall receive.

    3. The spam filter won’t let me link it, so search for “Gambling with Other People’s Money” by Russ Roberts.

    4. You’re right, comparing it to the great depression would be more appropriate. In both cases the government took a bad situation and made it much worse.

    5. Maybe someone will accomodate Tony once he gets around to answering the question posed him so often here:
      “What Bush policies caused the Great Recession?”

      1. “What Bush policies caused the Great Recession?”

        Wilfully and egregiously being a Republican.

        1. That’s pretty much it. Bush didn’t cause the GR by himself. Laws passed (or repealed) under Clinton had a lot to do with it.

          The underlying factor was financial risk-taking run amok, aided by a laissez-faire theory of policing the financial sector. (Alan Greenspan: “oops.”)

          1. What laissez-faire policy did Alan Greenspan cause? I was unaware that the Federal Reserve regulated and policed anything other than interest rates and basic monetary policy. Aren’t most Libertarians arguing that it was his anti-Laissez-Faire policy of artificially low interest rates that helped cause the crisis?

            Again, what laissez-faire policing occurred. You never offer evidence for anything. Show your work, Tony.

            1. Just read the Wikipedia page on the subject. You can generally do that with any topic and not be too bad off.

              1. You’re using wikipedia as a source? Are you fucking with me?

          2. So, a) Our Glorious Leader is lying when he says we can’t go back to the Bush policies which “caused the great recession” and b) Alan Greenspan so mesmerized the Democratic majority from 2007 to 2009 that they failed to rein in any of the “laissez faire” policies that he allegedly imposed on Wall Street.

          3. Tens of thousands of pages were added to the Federal Register each year under Bush, but if the magical line between commercial banks and investment banks is repealed, we have anarchy. If you work at a large corporation, you may actually have a Sarbanes Oxley Compliance Department. There’s a word for that. Oh, yes. Anarchy. By every meaningful measure, government regulation is increasing year by year, but anything bad that happens is caused by a regulation here or there being repealed. Anarchy!

            If we are to assume that you are being minimally consistent, one would have to assume that the vast majority of these regulations have no practical effect. You don’t even mention them, because they are so irrelevant to our current situation. After all, their purpose is to fend off the horrible, anarchic hellscape that you believe Libertopia to be. The massive regulatory state we have now did nothing to prevent the greatest recession since the Great Depression and bring the welfare state nearer day by day to complete collapse.

            On the other hand, there are a few, magical regulations that would keep us safe. Ok. Let’s keep those and get rid of the rest.

            1. ^ But we have to go through the millions of regulations one by one with a fine toothed comb, pmains! Otherwise orphans may die in the street!

      2. “What Bush policies caused the Great Recession?”

        All of them?

        1. I’d say all administrations going back at least to Carter share a good part of the blame.

        2. That’s not how the game is played, Zeb.

          This is a variant of the “You know who else [did whatever]?” game. The winner is the one who posts the most outrageous and plausible but incorrect answer.

        3. It was probably Ron Paul in Congress. He’s a Libertarian Republican so it had to have been him.

          Yeah, lets just go with that. The Libertarian’s fucked us again!!!

    6. Re: Tony,

      Comparing this most recent recession to any other economic crisis than the Great Depression is to misunderstand its causes and scale.

      Your proposition is unintelligible, Tony. Did you mean that to compare this current recession to any other save the Great Depression is evidence of a misunderstanding of its causes, or to compare it against any other after the Great Depression?

      Unless someone would like to name all the extra regulations and government meddling that existed prior to it that didn’t exist prior to the other ones.

      You mean like the Community Reinvestment Act, or the new regulations that allowed Freddy and Fannie to underwrite riskier loans, or the even more meddling from the Federal Reserve unlike nothing seen before?

      Or is there anything you have in line of sight in that sand under which you have your head buried?

      1. You don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re repeating stale, very debunked Republican lies meant to absolve them and blame poor people. I can’t respond to insipid partisan blather.

        1. I blame poor people (and rich people and middle class people) for electing the dimwits we have in government who did this. It was not the poor or middle class using government programs, it was them electing these progressive overlord scum bags into office who cannot help but massively alter the free market.

  4. Would it be hyperbolic, too much, exaggerated to say that 99 percent of politicians are sociopaths?

    The few that might not be (say, perhaps Rand Paul) are suspect for keeping company with the rest of the disgusting lot.

    1. It would be proper to say that 100% of politicians are sociopaths.

      1. I am going to allow that some politicians might be brave souls with strong stomachs and poor sense of smell.

        Maybe it’s simply wishful thinking. A fantasy.

    2. I think that many of them start with motives that are at least somewhat noble (even if misguided). But the process and the power corrupt.

      1. I disagree. Power doesn’t merely corrupt, it attracts the already corrupt and the easily corrupted.

  5. Im reminded of the REASON interview with Coase from ~late 90s. When he was researching regulations, he wanted to know which ones improved things and which made things worse. And he couldnt name one that improved things. His theory, which makes sense, is that there are some that make things better, but that we are past the point of size in government for that to occur anymore.

    Sort of a Laffer curve for laws (my analogy, not his). Once government is so large, any law makes things worse. Laws against force and fraud make things better (probably), but once you get beyoond that, it starts heading down hill.

    Its also a law of diminishing returns, in that each provides less benefit until you go negative.

    Basically the entire field of economics is full of examples of why you cant keep expanding government and expect good results.

    Its always nice when moral liberty lines up with practical liberty. I expect it to, but I cant prove that it should. Of course, if the utilitarians would measure utility in terms of “moral liberty”, we would be on the same page and I wouldnt have to tell them to fuck off.

  6. Unintended consequences are inevitable.

    Please, please, please, I’m begging everyone to stop using this phrase. There are no such thing as “unintended consequences.” Every action has a consequence, if you intend to perform an action then all of its consequences are intended.

    1. That doesn’t even begin to makes sense unless you are a clairvoyant!

      1. Thinking things through before acting doesn’t make one a clairvoyant. Taking responsibility for an outcome of your action that you didn’t think of does make you a responsible person.

        1. Thinking things through before acting doesn’t make one a clairvoyant. Taking responsibility for an outcome of your action that you didn’t think of does make you a responsible person.

          *enthusastic consent applause*

        2. If you didn’t think of it, you can’t have intended it.

          I’m not saying that that means you don’t bear responsibility for the consequences, but intent means something.

          Does a bull in a china shop intend specifically to break each individual plate that gets broken? I don’t think it is unfair to compare a lot of legislators and rule makers to bulls in china shops.

          1. Does a bull in a china shop intend specifically to break each individual plate that gets broken?

            I suspect you missed this episode of Mythbusters.

            Unexpected != unintended.

            1. There’s more than that but somebody stopped by my desk and completely broke my train of thought.

          2. Zeb there is a huge difference between a bovine and a human. Humans as a species can reason; cattle can’t. So, yes, it is very appropriate to hold legislators responsible for the consequences of their actions, including nth-order consequences.

            To do otherwise invites bad, knee-jerk legislation (the situation we now have).

            If they can’t envision those consequences, and explain those to their electorate, they shouldn’t be in office.

      2. I suppose if you think this is the height of attractiveness, anything’s possible.

        1. height of attractiveness

          Let’s not get carried away here. I think she’s hot, but there are certainly hotter.

          1. I see you like them built for comfort. Nothing wrong with that.

            Personally, I like ’em built for speed.

            1. Yes, yes, I saw those in the ML. I’ll agree that she is indeed hot, I just wish there was a bit less jaw.

    2. I’ll disagree with you and refer to the Iron Law: foreseeable consequences are not unintended.

      When you get into a system as ridiculously complex as the fedgov, I will be charitable and presume that you can have multiple order effects that nobody foresaw. Any system big enough and complex enough is going to have this problem in that you can predict about 3 or 4 levels down in terms of effects. Past that, it gets exponentially harder. (Side note: yes, this is an argument for making systems as simple as possible.)

      I will agree that you make the change, you get the blame for all of the effects. But I’ll disagree that all of them were intended. Limits to knowledge crop up everywhere.

      1. I’ll disagree with you and refer to the Iron Law: foreseeable consequences are not unintended.

        Who developed these Iron Laws anyway?

        Any system big enough and complex enough is going to have this problem in that you can predict about 3 or 4 levels down in terms of effects. Past that, it gets exponentially harder.

        Let me put it this way: you perform an action with a very specific intended outcome that must go through several layers of bureaucracy before it can affect its outcome. Along the way, another actor performs an action that subverts your original action. Your original action has now been expended because someone else has changed it. Now that person is on the hook for their action, and so on down the line. Maintaining a line of intended actions is good for traceability, it allows you to see what the initial trigger action was, but the person at the end of the line is ultimately responsible for whatever final action was performed.

        1. I’m not thinking of it in terms of outcome being subverted by actual people being people. I’m thinking structurally.

          Make change A to law. Change A requires change B to regulation X, which requires Change C to Reg Y, which requires D to Z, ad infinitum. By the time you run through the Federal Register and make all the changes needed to accomodate the legislative abortion that is PPACA, there are things that have to change that nobody knew about or considered. I’ll even take bets that down in the weeds you’ll end up with things that cannot both comply with PPACA and other legislation.

          This is all stuff necessary from the original act of fixing healthcare via PPACA, not any actions taken past that. Then, the problems created by PPACA will need to be addressed by more laws and regs, and the spiral continues to wriggle downwards.

          1. there are things that have to change that nobody knew about or considered

            But that’s part of my point. Just because somebody didn’t pick up on them or didn’t think of them doesn’t absolve them of responsibility. Just because laws have been made so intentionally convoluted that it would take years to sort things out doesn’t mean years shouldn’t be spent sorting things out.

            1. Just because somebody didn’t pick up on them or didn’t think of them doesn’t absolve them of responsibility.

              Never said it did. I’m just not willing to sign off on the idea that all consequences are intended. Some aren’t.

              But, yes, you don’t get to choose what consequences are your responsibility out here in the real world. You make the change, you take the hit.

              1. Fair enough.

        2. Who developed these Iron Laws anyway?

          RC Dean. My understanding is that the laws weren’t “developed” (invented) so much as derived from observation. I find the truth of the laws to be self-evident.

          1. RC Dean, eh? Figures it would be a lawyer who would come up with the need for more laws.

          2. Good one, Sparks. [high-fives Sparky]

    3. Re: Sparky,

      There are no such thing as “unintended consequences.”

      Are you suggesting… *gasp!* …. that all these failures and wealth destruction and division and property destruction and trampling on rights was…. please don’t say… intended???

      Please say it ain’t so, Shoeless! Please say it ain’t so!!

      Actually, you would be giving too much credit to the intellectual prowess and insightfulness of your current Masters. They really do NOT understand the consequences of their laws and regulations because they cannot fathom a world where people change their behavior. Theirs is still a totally one-dimensional thinking process.

      That is, they’re stupid. Just look at what Tony writes – same shit.

      1. Actually, you would be giving too much credit to the intellectual prowess and insightfulness of your current Masters.

        Oh no, I give them no credit for being anything other than a pack of morons. That doesn’t give them the right to dodge the outcomes of their actions.

  7. We assume a problem was solved.

    Got a mouse in yer pocket, John? I don’t assume anything of the sort.

  8. Government Gone Bad

    Rattler gone poisonous

    1. It’s like people acting all surprised that the fire they lit on their living room floor has ended up burning down the neighborhood.

      1. Wait, wait, you mean uncontrolled fire burns uncontrollably? HOLY SHIT!

        1. It’s not like our house didn’t come with a fireplace, after all. Not sure why people keep wanting to start fires elsewhere.

          1. It’s not like our house didn’t come with a fireplace, after all. Not sure why people keep wanting to start fires elsewhere.

            “We tossed in pea coal until the wood stove glowed red. How should we know it’d start a fire?”

    2. It’s the young ones that are most dangerous, being inexperienced and fearful.

      The old ones are only a problem if you get in their way or give them some other reason to notice you.

      1. I take the rattle as similar to a polite clearing of the throat. “I’m right here, please leave me alone now.”

        All right, buddy. You go your way, I’ll go mine. Unless Mr. Snake ends up in a whiskey distillery, like one they had on TV last week. Then he gets to leave.

        1. I was talking about governments… 😉

      2. The old ones are only a problem if you get in their way or give them some other reason to notice you.

        Or if they’re cold and sluggish.
        I stepped on one when I was a teenager. Warm weather brought him out when he should have been curled up in his hole. Just lucky I stepped on him close to his head. He could only strike at my boot. Without another way to safely get away from him, I put my other boot down on the head, then used my Buck to cut it off.

        1. Lucky fucking bastard. You must have felt like you brushed up against a tripwire and stopped just before the mine went off.

  9. John has missed the central problem:

    People are fucking morons.

    The end.

    1. + Earth’s population

    2. Yes. Bad idea even if the numbers add up – but they don’t come close.

  10. Workers are safer today because we are richer, and richer societies care more about safety. Even greedy employers take safety precautions if only because it’s expensive to replace workers who are hurt!

    I remember the fun fact my econ history prof gave in class, that when (American) slaveowners rented out their slaves they often had stipulations in the contracts that the slaves not do specific, very dangerous tasks. Those were left to the Irish.

    1. Yeah, slaves were property and thus valuable. Irish were just hired help and thus expendable.

      1. To be fair, for enough money I’d probably do anything.

  11. “European workers have the right … to gainful unemployment,” says Jolis.

    The fuck does this even mean?

    1. It means fuck you, that’s what.

    2. Pay me, fuckhead!

    3. It means that if they can find someone who wants to employ them, no one can interfere. But I suspect they have something different in mind.

  12. John Stossel claims he makes our lives better by writing articles. But John Stossel’s articles rarely improve life, writes John Stossel. They go wrong. Unintended consequences are inevitable.

    Most readers don’t pay enough attention to notice, for the first few paragraphs. But then they do, and they stop reading.

    1. Did this make sense to you as you were typing it out or were you just banging on the keyboard?

    2. Re: Alan Vanneman,

      John Stossel claims he makes our lives better by writing articles.

      You haven’t taken your Thorazine yet, have you? You’re starting to hear those voices again.

      But John Stossel’s articles rarely improve life, writes John Stossel.

      They are not norms imposed on everybody, Alan.

      Leave aside the fact that your analogy fails miserably. It is the outrageousness of your intellectual dishonesty which astounds the most. The fact that you’re not even addressing the points that John makes but just make this silly comparison between LAWS/REGULATIONS and an essay can only make me conclude that you’re either deranged or simply not interested in rational conversation – which is pretty much what insane people do, so we’re back to your Thorazine.

  13. Re: Tony,

    It must be the case that the fewer laws, the better. As justification for this claim, he [robc] offers nothing.

    Looks like logic and reason are concepts foreign to you. But I will try again, only because I am still hopefull:

    What would you prefer: To work with an association governed by a rule book you can learn in one hour, or by a rule book that requires 10,000 hours to learn?

    Because this “show me the statistics” shit is really getting old, Tony. I am beginning to think that you really really prefer NOT to think, even if a little.

    1. I’d prefer there be no more rules than necessary and that they be purposeful. All I’m proposing is that life is a bit more complex than Stossel’s insight “Freedom is good. Laws are dumb.”

      1. Tony said:

        All I’m proposing is that life is a bit more complex than Stossel’s insight “Freedom is good. Laws are dumb.”

        Right, but when people say “Government is good. We’re all in this together!” do you also immediately jump on their hypocrisy, and criticize their simplistic worldview?

        I doubt it.

  14. Re: Tony,

    How can it be that laws that protect property are good, but laws that prevent starvation can’t possibly be good?

    Protection of property already prevents starvation. Rules against private property created massive starvation events in Russia, China, etc. and, currently, North Korea.

    Before you can fight starvation, you have to have production of food and, for that, people need to possess what they produce, otherwise they will not feel the incentive to produce. No matter how much of a terrible and awful tyrant you think you can become, you will not be able to entice or cajole people to work in fields that do not belong to them and without any sort of remuneration that they think is reasonable. Stalin tried it; Mao tried it; Pol Pot tried it. Heck, even FDR tried it! It doesn’t work.

    So, to conclude: You cannot purport to save people from starvation if you have NO property rights. So yes, laws that protect property rights are paramounts; laws that pretend to prevent starvation are redundant, at best.

  15. OM, the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting different results. Yet you continue to feed it.

    It’s not arguing in good faith, therefore not subject to rational suasion.

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