Sunday, October 26, 2014

Government doing what it does best: What it's supposed to not do

The mayor of Cedar City is among those who are touting the clubhouse renovations being done at the city golf course. One of her fans added, "What a great tourism and economic simulator in our beautiful city". They presume that no economic stimulus comes by leaving those funds in the pockets of taxpayers so they can spend the money in a way that best benefits them.

These anti-free-market sentiments are typical of the we-must-have-government-take-care-of-us mentality that infects modern American society.

People seem to believe that only government spending can create prosperity or stimulate an economy. They presume that private spending is not the highest use of money and other resources. Instead, they think that only government spending is well-directed. Of course, politicians and bureaucrats are eager to exploit such beliefs. Presidential-wannabe Hillary Clinton even went so far as to proclaim, "Don't let anybody tell you it's corporations and businesses that create jobs." She must have had an extremely low estimate of the intelligence and rationality of her audience. And that low estimate was apparently correct.

Why must it be the government that provides a place where golfers (a tiny portion of the community) can chase balls? The same question can be asked of almost everything we allow or ask government to do for us: dog parks, swimming pools, basket ball courts, baseball fields, recreation centers, farmers' markets, libraries and bookmobiles (Has anyone besides me ever asked how much a library costs per book lent?), theater production companies, senior centers, theaters, stadiums for professional athletes, as well as swimming, dance, and exercise classes, etc. Too many presume that none of these recreational activities can be met by private enterprise or by individuals on their own.

A few years ago, Cedar City sold its swimming pool to the local college. Soon, that pool was demolished and converted to student parking. The value of that land was, apparently, greater as a parking lot than as a public swimming pool. The cities' politicians were quick to dream up ways to replace that old pool at taxpayer expense rather than leave the decision up to free enterprise. I was one of a tiny handful of taxpayers who asked the question, "Why must any new swimming pool be owned and operated by the city? Can't private enterprise satisfy that need?" My questions were ignored and the city built a $4.7 million 4-pool aquatics complex that reportedly goes into the red to the tune of at least $800,000 per year.

Cedar City has at least 4 fitness gyms that could, and would, add a swimming pool to their facilities. Why haven't they? Because those entrepreneurs, unlike politicians, are smart enough to know that they cannot possibly compete against the deep pockets of a taxing entity such as Cedar City that can afford to lose money on an aquatics center and simply pass the red ink on to the taxpayers. When governments take upon themselves to do what private enterprise and individuals should do, it always drives private enterprise out of the market.

Why do so many think that government can better allocate resources (land, labor, energy, knowledge, time, equipment, materials, etc.) than can a free market? A free market exists when producers of goods and services satisfy the needs of the consumers and consumers are free to buy from, or not buy from those producers. There are many who believe that only government (politicians, bureaucrats, and, sometimes judges) are smart and wise enough to allocate resources.

For example, if a golf course is the best use of a particular piece of land, an entrepreneur (eg land developer) will buy that land and convert it to a golf course with all of the expenses covered by himself and other investors. Consumers (eg golfers) will support the golf course as the best use of that land by paying fees to the entrepreneur so that he/she can earn a profit from his/her risk of creating a golf course. If the golf course is unusually profitable, other investors will create additional golf courses as necessary to satisfy consumer demand. On the other hand, when governments create and run golf courses, they do so without regard to whether a golf course is the best use for that land and without regard to whether the golf course will ever make a profit, let alone not be a money-pit burden on non-golfing taxpayers.

Nearly all that governments do at all levels (local, state, national) is to buy votes from special interests with money extracted from people who will never benefit from that government spending.

So, who are the special interests? Probably you.

If you want government to build and operate a golf course for your recreation, you are a special interest preying on taxpayers who do not golf.

If you want government to build and operate a swimming pool for your recreation, you are a special interest preying on taxpayers who do not swim.

If you want government to build and operate a baseball or soccer field for your recreation, you are a special interest preying on taxpayers who do not play those games.

If you want government to give you a rebate for your purchase of a hybrid or electric car, you are a special interest preying on taxpayers who do not play those games.

Yes, I am a special interest too. I'm the guy that expects you to pay your own bills rather than to ask government to tax me to pay for your golf course, swimming pool, dance lessons, dog park, etc.
"Would you be willing to give up your favorite federal program if it meant never having to pay income tax again?" -- Harry Browne

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The "supremacy clause" and nullification

The Utah legislature made an effort to nullify unconstitutional federal gun laws. But, the legislature lost its spine and neutered the bill. The Tucson Sentinal recently published a short article on the matter of state nullification of unconstitutional federal gun laws

Contrary to popular opinion, federal law (along with federal regulations, policies, and judicial opinions) is not the supreme law of the land simply because it was created by an entity of the central government. The supremacy clause says, "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land...." (emphasis mine)

According to that clause, coupled with the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution, any federal law, regulation, policy, or judicial opinion which exceeds the authority specifically delegated to the central government by the states to the central government via the Constitution or which infringes any right guaranteed by the US Constitution is not "in pursuance" of the plain wording or the original intent of the Constitution and is therefore unconstitutional and must be nullified by the states and ignored by federal bureaucrats until Congress has the sense and integrity to repeal it.

Thomas Jefferson, among other distinguished Americans agree. His draft of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 first introduced the word "nullification" into American political life, and follow-up resolutions in 1799 employed Jefferson's formulation that " the rightful remedy" when the federal government reaches beyond its constitutional powers. In the Virginia Resolutions of 1798, James Madison said the states were "duty bound to resist" when the federal government violated the Constitution."

Unfortunately, federal court opinions (including opinions by the Supreme Court) erroneously establish the distorted doctrine that only they may be the final arbiters of what's Constitutional. That, in effect, establishes the federal courts as the supreme law of the land -- not the Constitution!

I ardently support the Utah Legislature and Governor in voiding all federal laws which violate the US Constitution. It is an essential part of their job.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A gun restriction in a store that sells guns?

I've spent thousands of dollars in a certain chain of stores around Utah.

Today, as I entered the branch of that chain in Cedar City, I noticed a sign saying, "All firearms must be unloaded prior to entering the store." (An unloaded firearm isn't much good for self-defense.) I don't know how long that sign has been on the store's door -- this is the first time I noticed it.

Inasmuch as I have taken firearm training in that store and I have bought several firearms from that store chain around Utah, including the pistol that is on my hip as I write this complaint, I find this restriction incongruous and puzzling. It's odd that store management doesn't trust gun owners who are certified as by the State of Utah and by the FBI as responsible gun owners and who are trained in firearm safety (including those trained in the stores' own classrooms).

Store management surely must recognize that a person intent on committing violence in one of their stores will not be deterred by this sign. In fact, such a sign would likely indicate to such people that everyone in posted stores is defenseless, making their stores, employees, and customers more vulnerable to serious harm or death. I therefore consider that chain of stores to be too dangerous to enter.

I will respect their policy by taking my money elsewhere until this policy is permanently removed for all of their law-abiding customers and employees in all of their stores.

I am sharing my concerns with my friends, family, and blog readers.

Note: I have redacted the name of the store chain because they removed the above-mentioned sign within hours after I contacted store management. At 9:37 PM on 18 Oct, 2014, I received the following response from store management: "Thanks for bringing this to our attention. These signs are meant for firearms being brought into the store for warranty purposes and to have optics installed on them. This sign was removed this evening. We will provide better instructions to our store teams on the proper wording. We are fervent believers in the second amendment and our right to carry concealed or open carry firearms where permitted by law."

Ebola, flu, and tyranny

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is an ugly and deadly viral disease that was identified in Africa in 1976. It has a relatively low rate of contagion, but is is devastating to those who contract the disease.

We have had less than a handful of ebola cases in the US in recent weeks, but it seems to have the public and the news media in full panic mode. As of 14 October 2014, 9,216 suspected cases worldwide resulting in the deaths of 4,555 have been reported.

There's no doubt that ebola is an ugly disease, but it's nowhere near the threat of influenza.

According to "On average, there are about 36,000 flu deaths per year in the United States. This number includes people who die from the flu itself and those who develop complications from the flu - such as pneumonia - and then die from that illness. The CDC estimates that between 5 and 20 percent of the country's population gets the flu each year."

The big threat of ebola is fear which, in turn, is based on ignorance. Because of that ignorant fear, millions of Americans are demanding that the central government, especially putative President Obama, do something to give us absolute protection from ebola (while ignoring the flu, for which relatively few seek immunization).

I challenge anyone and everyone who demands Obama and other central-government agents to do something about ebola (and almost everything else the central government does including Obamacare) to look into the US Constitution for the authority and/or responsibility of the central government to do anything about any disease whatsoever. Instead, a careful reading of the Constitution reveals that dealing with disease is the sole responsibility of the individual states and of the People themselves -- not the central government (see the Tenth Amendment).

Our current fixation on ebola serves best to distract Americans from the greatest, and very real, threat this nation has suffered for decades: The steady loss of individual Liberty and the accelerating growth of big government tyranny.

This demand that Obama fix the ebola problem only fuels a continued expansion of imperial, dictatorial power in the Whitehouse. Is that really where you want to go?

We need smarter voters!