Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why Every Capitalist Should Think Like a Lefty

So I recently lost my job, and wound up getting one in L.A., rather than staying in Vegas.  The funny part is, I got really, really excited about my new job, my new company, and everything it stands for, even though it is usually pretty associated with the left.

My new job is at a craft beer bar and restaurant with a very local, sustainable focus.  All but five of our 72 beers are CA craft beers.  All of them are on draft.  Even our wine comes in kegs, to reduce waste.  Our entire menu is locally sourced, with an emphasis on local, small, sustainable farmers.  This is like a hippy's wet dream.

Thinking  about it, though, it should also be every Libertarian, economic conservative, or free market Republican's wet dream too.  Part of the reason we should not feel bad about deregulating, or about cutting social services is that we should insist that the free market is capable of "doing the right thing," without regulation and over-taxation.  That is, we would wind up donating more to charity if so much of our hard-earned income didn't get taken away for welfare and social security programs.  Businesses would have an incentive to protect the environment, and the rights of workers, especially in today's world of free flowing information, if the government let competition take its toll.

My question is this, though.  How many Republicans or Libertarians have made a conscious choice to buy responsibly, or to help a charity, recently?  Let's put our money where our mouth is.

I'm not really huge on the environment, or on animal rights.  So why is local, sustainable, vegan-friendly dining such a big deal to me?  The human rights aspect.  Last time I took a class on this, the world produces enough food to feed its population three times The issue is not a lack of resources.  It is an uneven distribution and supply chain.  The vast majority of food produced in "developing" nations (poor places), goes to the U.S. market.  Moreover, a lot of it is not consumed by humans as food.  Instead, it goes into gasoline as ethanol, or gets fed to our  livestock in factory-scaled farms.  By buying locally sourced, grass-fed food, we leave more grain in those poor countries to support their populations.  I guess it is also more humane, and more green, but more importantly, it is a good step toward basic human rights.

Prove the left wrong and prove that the free market can be green, humane, and compassionate.  Donate some time or money this holiday season, do your Christmas shopping at a local small business, or eat a meal you know was sourced locally.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Oakland and Wells Fargo

So this story really cracked me up the other day when I saw it.  But when I thought about it, it made me sad and mad, more than anything.  Occupy Oakland's depositing their money at a large, "Wall Street" bank highlights three major problems, two with the movement, and one with our society.
First, the movement doesn't really seem to be asking for anything, or protesting anything in particular.  It's really very interesting.  There are thousands of people across the country camping out in intersections, parks, and empty lots, and nobody is quite sure why.  They're protesting Wall Street and the big corporations (especially the banks).  Well, what exactly are they protesting?  And when exactly are they going to leave?  When Wall Street or its banks cease to exist?  When they lose control over the U.S. and global economy?  Is there an official measurement for how much influence a particular group of companies has on our economy and politics?  Is it going to end when everybody is happy?  My guess is people will be camping for a while.  The movement is so un-focused that the closest thing that they have to a clear target was just given a large deposit by one of its "chapters."  With no focus, and with so many people unemployed (and therefor otherwise un-comitted), plan on being Occcupied for a while.

The second problem is another problem with the movement.  There is no real action involved.  If every single person who is currently parked on their ass in an intersection or a park, or who is donating money, or posting supportive comments on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog right now, or is otherwise involved in Occupying Wall Street, L.A., Chicago, or Lincoln, Nebraska, would get up and do two things, we could effect real change.  First, vote for someone other than a Democrat or Republican for at least a state-wide office.  Second, close your accounts with Wells Fargo, Chase, Citi, U.S. Bank, etc.  Open accounts at a local credit union.  Get your loans through microlending sites like  The amount of money that would leave the big system, and the amount of votes that could collectively be sent just to send a message, would be a real force for change.  Although, one wonders what the bank account of someone who has been sitting in a park for three months looks like.

Finally, this is irritating because of what it says about our society.  Even these protesters went straight to a major bank to drop off their check.  I feel like our society has become one where morally, socially, politically, and environmentally responsible choices are more plentiful and more convenient each and every day.  Yet we are part of a generation that thinks only about what's easiest and works best in the moment.  Depositing this money with a credit union could not possibly have taken that much longer than finding the nearest unoccupied Wells Fargo.  Even those who are supposedly more politically and socially conscious couldn't be bothered though.  They found somewhere "easy" to put the money until they figured it out.  We're a generation that does what's easy, and then when we get caught, or it catches up to us, go back and fix it later.

This maneuver was both amusing and a little depressing.  Thanks a bunch, Occupy Oakland.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Free Trade Agreements and Libertarianism

So this is an issue that I think all Libertarians should consider (along with targeted tax breaks).  I guess it comes down to how idealistic we are versus how pragmatic we are as Libertarians.

I saw this link, but the speech itself is not really what poses the question.

The question is, from a Libertarian perspective, are free trade agreements a good or a bad thing?  The good side is fairly obvious.  Free trade is a good thing.  It encourages competition, and reinforces the rights of business owners (both here and abroad) to practice their business as they wish to.

The bad side is a little more complex.  Yes, free trade is a good thing.  Financially, and for the individuals in the countries involved, or American businesspeople who do business with them, this is obviously a very Libertarian step.

On the other hand, the idea of individual bilateral free trade agreements is very anti-Libertarian, anti-free market, and anti-capitalistic.  Instead of removing regulation and leveling the playing field, it creates an even more stark, government-induced contrast between the restrictions different sets of business owners face.

It creates two classes of international countries, and with them, two classes of American businesses.  That is, those businesses who choose to do business with countries we have free trade with, and businesses who choose to do business with other countries.

In short, if lower government regulation is what we think of as Libertarian ideals, then I guess these agreements are a gift.

If, on the other hand, less government involvement in our individual and business lives is what we see as Libertarian, this is terrible.  I would rather have more regulations, but have them be simple, and consistent, than have no restrictions for some countries, but a government web of individualized agreements with other nations.  Am I a bad Libertarian?

Another Reason to Support Ron Paul

I saw this video the other day.  Now, I know only Ron Paul was given the opportunity to answer this question, so it may seem unfair to use his answer as a reason to support him.  But ask yourself, what would the other candidates have said?

Paul is the only candidate, from either party, who seems to have a really firm grasp on the whole Constitution and Bill of Rights, and a genuine interest in enforcing it.  If we want a return to a free country, made up of united states, not one big state, Ron Paul is the best candidate for our country.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Asthmatics vs. The Ozone

This was shocking to me.  Our government, and apparently the international community, value the ozone over the lives of asthmatics.  This is what happens when a society becomes over regulated.  There is no effective, OTC alternative to this medication, yet our government has decided that asthmatics should not have access to it.

The only non-CFC-containing alternative medication is not approved for market yet, which is a whole different issue with over-regulation of the pharmaceutical industry.

Imagine that someone is traveling.  They are away from their regular doctor, and their insurance company (through a local company) charges huge prices for visits to out-of-network doctors and clinics.  The airline loses their son's bag, which has his inhaler.  The family now has to put their vacation on hold, find a doctor, pay huge doctor's bills, and wait for a scrip to be filled, because we were worried about the small effect that an OTC inhaler has on the ozone.

This is another example of our government's harmful effects, especially when they put being "green" over the interests of our people.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Obama Encouraging Union Harrassment

I saw this the other day, and although the public comment period is now closed, I found it important enough that I had to share it, so that we can at least be aware of what's going on in our government.

First of all, it's very scary that the DoL is collecting this information about replacement workers and making it available to the unions.  Although, in reality, most unions, especially in right to work states, have clauses in their CBAs requiring employers to give up names, addresses, and other personal information, of anyone hired to work in a CBA-covered position.

The scarier part to me is that we have just raised the debt ceiling, and given a very unclear, non-specific, almost certainly doomed-for-failure mandate to reduce government spending.  Our national debt and deficit problem is growing.  Why are we paying government officials to due unions' dirty work, and collect the names and information of scabs to pass along to the unions?

Oh wait, more government jobs.  That's just what the economy needs.  Hire more useless, pointless, government employees paid on taxpayers' dimes to work.  But make it better.  Their job is actually to make it more difficult and scary for people to go to work in the private sector.  That's right.  A strike or lockout is a huge opportunity for the millions of unemployed people in this country who are desperate to feed their families to cross the lines and actually earn (read, not be entitled to because of Union membership or seniority, but EARN) a living.  We now want to help the unions discourage them from doing just that.  This is absurd.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Surveillence State

I saw this a few days ago, and it really hit me.  This is a big part of why I am a Libertarian.  Although our current government may not be out to harm us, the technology available to it is scary.  All it would take would be one individual in the White House, Congress, or any of an ever-growing number of arms of the federal bureaucracy with less than kind intentions to turn this technology against us.

A state, or, for that matter, any other organization, which has the ability to monitor someone's every moves is only one short step away from controlling that individual.  Especially in our technology-driven world, where blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and texting are such large parts of our lives, this is scary.  The government can literally see where any American is planning on meeting their friends later this evening, what they had for dinner, who they took a photo with at the bar last night.  They can see your personal conflicts with friends, family, or your boss.  They can even tell whether you liked last night's episode of Glee.

Almost as concerning as the government's ability to collect this information is the fact that with our benevolent government, this is all useless information.  A true conspiracy theorist, or a pessimist, might fear that our government has sinister motives for wanting this information.  As an optimist, I believe that our government has no intention of misusing this information.  Why, then, are we paying thousands of people to collect and sift through it?  Why are we spending millions of dollars developing the technology to assist in this task?  As government debt and deficit rises, why are we wasting this money?

Just as importantly, there are actually bad people out there (within the U.S. and abroad).  As a highly trained, highly educated specialist sifts through my personal life via Facebook, this blog, Twitter, and my texts, how many of those bad people and their bad plans are slipping through the cracks?  As our government collects massive amounts of voice and text data from millions of American citizens, how many phone calls or messages planning the next major attack on America are sitting in a backlog of data somewhere?