Tag Archives: Free Market

How Could A Christian Vote Democrat, Part 4

Continued from part 3.

Professor Drury continues his arguments outlining why he believes Christian ideas support a Democrat ideology. The last several parts of his argument are smaller, secondary points that I do not generally consider as essential to a particular belief system. For the most part they come down to meddling. An annoyance, but a secondary issue.

But a few of them aren’t.

Imperfect and struggling

Nationalism & The Military

With the caveat that Christians ought always to consider any earthly allegiance secondary to their heavenly allegiance, that secondary allegiance to earthly powers-that-be  is an important part of being involved and engaged in our culture, our communities. It is said that Christians make the best of citizens, but a requirement of citizenship is some sort of allegiance to that of which we are citizens.

Regarding military involvement, the Professor argues, fallaciously, that God’s leadership of the Israelites is of secondary importance to Christ’s words of peace. However, he never notes which of Chris’s words of peace are against any and all war. This is one point the Professor is sure of, to be Christian is to be against any and all war.

The fallacy of this argument is found in the fact it denies the more realistic view of human nature Christians hold, that of original and inescapable sin permeating the entirety of the human experience. When power corrupts or the corrupt achieve power and enslave entire peoples in their evil vision of some personal utopia, it is the responsibility of free people everywhere and especially Christian people, to liberate them. War is hell, and to save some from hell on earth while giving them a better chance of escaping Hell to come, hell can be justified.

And stemming from that, due to the wisdom and foresight of the Founding Fathers of our nation, the grace and mercy of the Eternal Father in allowing this once in all human history nation that, while far from perfect and heading quickly further from where it was first destined towards, and the hells we’ve been through, internally and externally, the United States of America is the last and best hope of oppressed people everywhere.

In the government and social systems and structures of the United States of America you find the climate best suited to allowing people to live according to the dictates of their own conscience, to freely choose for or against God.

That is the basis for my allegiance to the United States of America.

Other Issues

Capital punishment: I believe it ought to be rare but possible. To preclude the chance of the ultimate punishment for certain heinous crimes is to remove a powerful deterrent and expose more innocents to the horrors which earn evil people their date with God. Thankfully the Professor is too sensible to get into that ugly argument mixing objections to abortion with objections to capital punishment. Regrettably, he does get into the racial argument, claiming, by inference, that racial minorities are more likely to be given the death penalty than white people. And his jealousy gets the best of him when, tongue in cheek, he comments that he’d still be against the death penalty if all we executed were rich white men. If you wanted to be rich, Professor, you chose the wrong profession or place to practice it.

States rights and the size of government: The whole point of states rights is that the federal government can and should only create and maintain those laws that are best applied to all people in the entirety of the United States. The states are capable of creating a system of government within the broader framework of the U.S. Constitution that fits best the people and resources of their particular geographical responsibility. This is the same reason that a one-world government would fail. It would be top heavy and unwieldy, incapable of addressing properly the vast array of different cultures and nations for which it would be responsible.

Alcohol and tobacco: I believe cigarettes are unhealthy, dirty, a nuisance, and making people smoke them outside has made entering any building an exercise in holding my breath longer than I’d like. They are a typically American excess, and one which is being copied all over the world by people who idolize America and it’s Americana. Cigars and pipes are not so. Being an example of moderation and maturity, with their few health risks far outweighed by the health benefits of lower blood pressure and stress levels in their adherents. Until someone stands up and actually says that cigarettes ought to be illegal, I will accept no claim for reparations. Until there is courage found to actually stand up and accept the obvious end result of your views and not stop at some convenient and popular point, I find “sin taxes” and calls for increased regulation to be at best cowardly, and at worst, despicable. Alcohol is the same. And in both cases to prevent the one who indulges in excess is to punish the one who enjoys in moderation. A central point of conservatism is that in any such case where some use to excess where others enjoy responsibly, the error is made towards those who moderate, protecting their rights while allowing reasonable legal or social systems to punish those who damage with their excess. For example, drunk drivers ought to have no excuse or moderated punishment in cases where they harm others.

Corporations: Corporations are currently a handy scape-goat. Few people seem to grasp that corporations employ people, allow them to make money, produce higher standards of living, more accessible technology, longer life through medical progress. They are not all white knights, and most are more of a dappled grey, to be honest. But before we demonize, we must understand. Too often, people seem only to see as far as the vast piles of money corporations are believed to have. In all likelihood, you are employed by a corporation. In fact, if you’re self-employed you probably ARE a corporation. And the United States of America already taxes corporations at one of the highest levels of any of the industrialized nations. 35% of net profits (that is, profits after expenses) are taken from the businesses that create jobs and progress by a government that kills jobs and revels in backwardness. To argue that corporations find loopholes to lower their burdens is to miss the point. Loopholes are written into law to further the collusion of government and business. Businesses, acting in self-preservation, have found they can as easily legislate themselves a profit as they can innovate themselves a profit. And the solution to this is not to demonize the corporation. A corporation will do what is necessary preserve itself. To break this collusion we must cast out the fat-cats, the porkers and grubreaucrats who ask for and accept these bribes, and then enact tax law that is not confiscatory and has no special considerations or loopholes. The problem is the government, not the corporations.

Emissions standards: Should we ban cows too? Not that I’m against cleaner cars. But to focus on one small source of emissions for the sake of global warming, a questionable tale championed by questionable people of questionable morals with, you got it, questionable intent, is to show yourself the pawn of a lobby whose goal is not the cleaning of the air, but the chaining of the people. It has been said that marxists, after their initial reasons for existence stood up and told them “no thank you, 70 years of communism to achieve your wet dream isn’t something we asked for” searched for a victim that could not protest their offer of protection, and found the environment.

Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA): The Professor’s argument is that the rich ought to be compelled to act in accordance with God’s word. The Professor really is one jealous, mean-spirited individual. Wasn’t it those mean nasty rich who make and sell wheel chairs and walkers and canes and all sorts of mobility devices that aid the old and infirm in participating in lifestyles a hundred times more active than if they’d not had those devices? So should we compel the mean and nasty rich to give those devices away for free? Oh wait, many already do. No, Professor, the Christian will never compel Christian habits from another. God wants people who have freely chosen Him, not slaves or automatons. The Christian thing to do is to allow people to freely choose how they will run their businesses. Then those who want to live in Christian love will do so, and those who don’t, wont’. Yes, it won’t be as convenient, and if I were in a wheel chair I’d roundly curse that store which did not put a ramp up for me. But it would be honest and obvious. And further, this is another case of punishing many for the wrong attitudes of a few. For if I am starting a business, perhaps I had to choose between employing three staff and paying for the ramp and the larger bathroom. And now, because the government compels me to make certain accommodations, I can’t employ those nice people after all. Or maybe I won’t be in business at all because all these regulations and costs raise the bar of entry too high. Rather, let those who can and will freely choose to act in a moral way, and allow society to punish those who don’t.

Education: Considering the Professor does not want to government specifying the prayers that are to be said, I find it odd that he wants the government to specify how children ought to be trained, and that he uses for his argument God’s command that we are to bring children up… Oh, wait, how does that verse go? …in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let’s see here, God’s command is that we train children in His way. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. It’s a regular mantra throughout the Bible. If the government can’t (and I believe it oughtn’t) include God in their “bring(ing) up the children” then they oughtn’t be responsible for the children at all.

Immigration: Immigration is great and amazing and our system ought to be revised, heavily. It should be easier to get into the United States and to be a citizen. And it ought to be harder to do that illegally. Red tape and quotas and preferential treatment for particular groups or education types are all wrong. The United States of America should accept, as it has, the dregs of the earth, the cast outs, the feeble and the poor, anyone wishing to come should be allowed to come. And the only requirement is that they must become Americans. To leave their home country is to forswear their allegiance there, and to transfer that allegiance to their new home. Make legal entry easy and those law-abiding yet persecuted people fleeing their own nations will come here legally. And those who insist on subverting the laws of the nation they would seek to take advantage of should not benefit from the largesse of that nation.

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The Blueberry Story: A Failure Of Analogy

I came across the Blueberry Story recently. It didn’t pass the sniff test, but I couldn’t immediately explain why.

Jamie Vollmer was the CEO of an ice cream company that made, at one time, what some considered the best ice cream in America. He was also a sharp critic of the public school system, and shared his criticisms before an assembly of teachers and educators.

I was convinced of two things.  First, public schools needed to change; they were archaic selecting and sorting mechanisms designed for the industrial age and out of step with the needs of our emerging “knowledge society”.  Second, educators were a major part of the problem: they resisted change, hunkered down in their feathered nests, protected by tenure and shielded by a bureaucratic monopoly.  They needed to look to business.  We knew how to produce quality. Zero defects! TQM! Continuous improvement!

At the end of this particular talk he took questions from the audience.

As soon as I finished, a woman’s hand shot up.  She appeared polite, pleasant – she was, in fact, a razor-edged, veteran, high school English teacher who had been waiting to unload.

She began quietly, “We are told, sir, that you manage a company that makes good ice cream.”

I smugly replied, “Best ice cream in America, Ma’am.”

“How nice,” she said. “Is it rich and smooth?”

“Sixteen percent butterfat,” I crowed.

“Premium ingredients?” she inquired.

“Super-premium! Nothing but triple A.”  I was on a roll.  I never saw the next line coming.

“Mr. Vollmer,” she said, leaning forward with a wicked eyebrow raised to the sky, “when you are standing on your receiving dock and you see an inferior shipment of blueberries arrive, what do you do?”

In the silence of that room, I could hear the trap snap….  I was dead meat, but I wasn’t going to lie.

“I send them back.”

“That’s right!” she barked, “and we can never send back our blueberries.  We take them big, small, rich, poor, gifted, exceptional, abused, frightened, confident, homeless, rude, and brilliant.  We take them with ADHD, junior rheumatoid arthritis, and English as their second language. We take them all!  Every one! And that, Mr. Vollmer, is why it’s not a business.  It’s school!”

He was unable to reply to such ideas. And it took me a day to realize what was wrong with this teachers argument.

First, there is truth in both what Mr. Vollmer said and in what this teacher said. Neither of them are completely correct, and neither of them are completely wrong.

The big hole in this educators argument is that children are not the only resource in a school.

When you’re building a product commercially you gather all sorts of raw materials and assemble them and process them to create a finished product. Businesses are primarily rewarded by doing this more efficiently and with more quality than other companies. However, simple physical raw materials are never the entire picture.

You can take blueberries and cream and sugar and eggs and ice and salt and throw them together all day and it will not turn into ice cream. You must have a goal, a guiding principle, a primary idea which directs the process from beginning to end. This idea begins before any raw materials are assembled and achieves fruition and is born into reality in the end product.

In a school children are both a raw material and eventually the fruition and reality of this idea. A healthy, intelligent, wise, productive and strong member of society is the hoped-for result of any school. When children are the raw material (as small children first coming into the school) they indeed cannot be turned away. The school must take any and all. The teacher is right about this.

However, there are many other raw materials which may (and indeed should) be turned away at the loading dock for insufficient quality. Teachers are one of the raw materials of our education system. Those who can’t do, teach, is a sad but true tale of many who comprise the front lines of education in America. Low academic standards does not attract the best and the brightest to this profession. Many of the best teachers teach because they love to. Many others do it because they cannot find so secure a position with as healthy a payroll or extensive benefits in the private sector.

Education philosophies are another raw material that can and should be examined in light of reality and not in light of the establishment’s preconceived notions of the state of the world.

Specific subjects that do not pertain directly to healthy functioning in society also ought to be turned away at the door.

The lesson that schools should take from business, first and foremost, is that competition is good for everybody involved.

The only people who will be hurt by school vouchers, charter schools, more local control of education, and less federal nannying are teachers who aren’t up to snuff and entrenched and ensconced administrators who cannot really justify their silly existence.

The teacher was right, they can’t turn away children from school. Every child can and will benefit from learning truth. But learning and truth are not necessarily the same, and to fail to see the difference and to support a system that is so obviously and painfully failing yet another generation of children is to fail to see yet another blade laid to the neck of our great nation.

Success By Litigation

Google Burns AppleIs it too much to ask for a company who recognizes it should only succeed on it’s own merits? Apple isn’t it, that’s for sure. Market domination by litigation is an ugly thing.

Kinda ironic Apple used those “Think Different” ads with the 1984 send-up and they’re now resorting to cajoling the government into enforcing an artificial monopoly on their behalf.

Judges who accept such frivolities ought to be tossed out on their butts. And the companies that make such stupid claims, well, I can think of some things we buyers can do to them.

Once upon a time, Apple portrayed itself as David to Microsoft’s Goliath as it battled the ultimately dominant force from Redmond. A generation later, the world’s attention has shifted from PCs and laptops to mobile devices, and Apple now finds itself in the role of Goliath. It knows full well that dominance isn’t permanent, and anything that can be done to slow down new entrants should indeed be done. That it continues to let a certain degree of historically entrenched fear guide its actions isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Tension, after all, is a great driver of increased performance. But at this level, at this scale, and at this crucial moment in the history of the mobile market, it runs the risk of slamming the industry it helped define into neutral as lesser-endowed players run for the hills.

In that respect, Apple really shouldn’t be living in fear of HTC, Nokia, or any other potential competitor. The real fear belongs to consumers like us, and it should be directed back at Apple.

“Is Apple Afraid Of Google?” at BetaNews.com.

The Beneficent Free Market: Answering Questions

A small village in Nepal

Barb posted a letter written to a grandson explaining and illustrating the principles of the free market and the benefits of that system over systems more concerned with equality of outcome rather than equality of potential. She got the original article from the Free Market Foundation of South Africa.

More people need to read and understand this.

April 1942

Mr dear grandson:

I will answer your question as simply as I can. Profit is the result of enterprise which builds for others as well as for the enterpriser. Let us consider the operation of this fact in a primitive community, say of one hundred persons who are non-intelligent beyond the point of obtaining the mere necessities of living by working hard all day long.

Our primitive community, dwelling at the foot of a mountain, must have water. There is no water except at a spring near the top of the mountain: therefore, every day all the hundred persons climb to the top of the mountain. It takes them one hour to go up and back. They do this day in and day out, until at last one of them notices that the water from the spring runs down inside the mountain in the same direction that he goes when he comes down. He conceives the idea of digging a trough in the mountainside all the way down to the place where he has his habitation. He goes to work to build a trough. The other ninety-nine people are not even curious as to what he is doing.

Then one day this hundredth man turns a small part of the water from the spring into his trough and it runs down the mountain into a basin he has fashioned at the bottom. Whereupon he says to the ninety-nine others, who each spend an hour a day fetching their water, that if they will each give him the daily production of ten minutes of their time, he will give them water from his basin. He will then receive nine hundred and ninety minutes of the time of the other men each day, which will make it unnecessary for him to work sixteen hours a day in order to provide for his necessities. He is making a tremendous profit but his enterprise has given each of the ninety-nine other people fifty additional minutes each day for himself.

The enterpriser, now having sixteen hours a day at his disposal and being naturally curious, spends part of his time watching the water run down the mountain. He sees that it pushes along stones and pieces of wood. So he develops a water wheel; then he notices that it has power and, finally, after many hours of contemplation and work, makes the water wheel run a mill to grind his corn.

This hundredth man then realises that he has sufficient power to grind corn for the other ninety-nine . He says to them, I will allow you to grind your corn in my mill if you will give me one tenth of the time you save. They agree, and so the enterpriser now makes an additional profit. He uses the time paid by the ninety-nine others to build a better house for himself, to increase his conveniences of living through new benches, openings in his house for light, and better protection from the cold. So it goes on, as this hundredth man constantly finds ways to save the ninety-nine the total expenditure of their time one tenth of which he asks of them in payment, for his enterprising.

This hundredth mans time finally becomes all his own to use as he sees fit. He does not have to work unless he chooses to. His food and shelter and clothing are provided by others. His mind, however, is ever working and the other ninety-nine are constantly having more time to themselves because of his thinking and planning.

For instance, he notices that one of the ninety-nine makes better shoes than the others. He arranges for this man to spend all his time making shoes, because he can feed and clothe him and arrange for his shelter from profits.

The other ninety-eight do not now have to make their own shoes. They are charged one tenth the time they save. The ninety-ninth man is also able to work shorter hours because some of the time that is paid by each of the ninety-eight is allowed to him by the hundredth man.

As the days pass, another individual is seen by the hundredth man to be making better clothes than any of the others, and it is arranged that his time shall be given entirely to his speciality. And so on.

Due to the foresight of the hundredth man, a division of labour is created that results in more and more of those in the community doing the things for which they are best fitted. Everyone has a greater amount of time at his disposal. Each becomes interested, except the dullest, in what others are doing and wonders how he can better his own position. The final result is that each person begins to find his proper place in an intelligent community.

But suppose that, when the hundredth man had completed his trough down the mountain and said to the other ninety-nine, If you will give me what it takes you ten minutes to produce, I will let you get water from my basin, they had turned on him and said, We are ninety-nine and you are only one. We will take what water we want. You cannot prevent us and we will give you nothing. What would have happened then? The incentive of the most curious mind to build upon his enterprising thoughts would have been taken away. He would have seen that he could gain nothing by solving problems if he still had to use every waking hour to provide his living. There could have been no advancement in the community. The same stupidity that first existed would have remained. Life would have continued to be a drudge to everyone, with opportunity to do no more than work all day long just for a bare living.

But we will say the ninety-nine did not prevent the hundredth man from going on with his thinking, and the community prospered. And we will suppose that there were soon one hundred families. As the children grew up, it was realised that they should be taught the ways of life. There was now sufficient production so that it was possible to take others away from the work of providing for themselves, pay them, and set them to teaching the young.

Similarly, as intelligence grew the beauties of nature became apparent. Men tried to fix scenery and animals in drawings and art was born. From the sounds heard in natures studio and in the voices of the people, music developed. And it became possible for those who were proficient in drawing and music to spend all their time at their art, giving of their creations to others in return for a portion of the communitys production.

As these developments continued, each member of the community, while giving something from his own accomplishments, became more and more dependent upon the efforts of others. And, unless envy and jealousy and unfair laws intervened to restrict honest enterprisers who benefited all, progress promised to be constant.

Need we say more to prove that there can be profit from enterprise without taking anything from others, that such enterprise adds to the ease of living for everyone?

These principles are as active in a great nation such as the United States as in our imaginary community. Laws that kill incentive and cripple the honest enterpriser hold back progress. True profit is not something to be feared, because it works to the benefit of all.

We must endeavour to build, instead of tearing down what others have built. We must be fair to other men, or the world cannot be fair to us.

Sincerely,

Grandfather

Unchecked Free Market Problems

Unrestricted free market

Gary A writes article on the investing opinion site SeekingAlpha.com claiming that while limited government sounds good, it’s not a reasonable policy if the goal is market stability:

I support the free market but unlike them I don’t trust the free market. I don’t think that having just capitalists in charge of the free market can possibly keep it free very long. Capitalists cannot police themselves. Every game has rules. Try playing baseball without umpires. Try playing tennis without line judges. There are even rules when racing at the Indianapolis 500.

I agree with him, to an extent:

I agree that having capitalists in charge of capitalism can and has caused many a problem. Having Marxists in charge of a market causes even more.

The issue is that there is no suitable force acting upon the individuals that make up a government capable of restraining their choices actions.

And the more levels of government that are constructed to check and balance any system of man only lead to more levels of waste and corruption as they, in turn, fall to the very same forces.

The brilliance of the original American system was that it pitted this thirst for power against itself by building three branches of government with competing but not overlapping responsibilities.

This system worked well enough, for in that inherent tension there was stability left for those under it.

As the government’s greatest enemy was itself, instead of the people, the people were free to go about their ways.

As the government power alignment adjusted, mainly beginning with Lincoln’s power consolidation in the Civil war the forces of government were aligned and now could seek to take power, not from each other, but from the populace.

So is it a perfect system? No. Is it better than the alternatives? It depends on how you define better. I would say it is, with better being that state where there is least government intrusion into my affairs and then only so much as is necessary to prevent me from infringing unjustly on another’s affairs.

Of course, then you get into what is just and unjust.

The whole problem is that unless you accept a sovereign moral force who/which defines morality for us unsovereign beings, there is really no way to define right except through might.

Those in power get to define morality apart from that sovereign moral entity. And without an acceptance of a sovereign moral entity there is no legitimate basis for a universal and effective set of ethics to guide the behaviors of individuals, groups, corporations, societies, or nations.

Yes, I believe it all boils down to whether or not you subscribe to the idea there is a higher power who will judge you for your actions and your intentions and the results.