Skip directly to content

Blogs

Arthur Thomas's picture

Braaaaaaains!

on Thu, 05/03/2012 - 13:48

A recent article on the CNN website had this:

“This week President Obama did a swing through some college campuses talking about student loan debt. The immediate issue is the 3.4% interest rate on federal student loans. It's set to double July 1 unless Congress acts. Keeping the rate low in this still weak economy is, as the president said, a no-brainer. Even his opponent Mitt Romney has endorsed it.”

"no-brainer" is a thought terminating cliche. It is what people say so they don’t have to explain something and not because it is so obvious. Our government has been working off “no-brainer” policies for decades. It is time to put brains back into government.

This is more status quo ignorance from both sides. What happens when you pump easy access money into a market?  More people use the money obviously (this is what the central planners want and like), but also more institutions come to take the money and prices go up as institutions grow and demand grows. The problem with what the central planners want is that they are inflating one side of the market. They are inflating a system that may be pumping out people with degrees but there is no demand for it.  The other side effects, like increased costs through loan debt, are a huge burden on people who the market will not support.  This is why you see people with signs saying they want the government to ‘forgive’ their $80,000 in loan debt. They cannot get a job from the market that agrees with their decision to take the debt on. Is that your fault?

All this pumped in money floating around in the system is the reason for the cheap and low value degrees that the central planners also complain about. What did they expect to happen? Companies always find a way to suck up easy to access government money. Especially money guaranteed and backed up by a government promise with little risk. A free market regulates availability of resource, not to be discriminatory to anyone, but because of rational limits of those resources.

Was there an expectation that more students would come out with amazing degrees and find jobs immediately? Where do these jobs come from? Why do these planners not think of the cycle where private money comes from and how it is supported in a market. Companies spend money when they are successful and grow. New companies also start. This creates value and wealth. This value translates into money which is not value itself but a medium of value exchange. One way it moves around is through banks. As an economy is successful (good business environment) then it creates more money for loan availability that banks are willing to risk. It puts a reasonable cap on the availability of loan money and how much risk should be out at any particular time. This is also controlled by interest rates. The students then compete for the loan money. As risk of loan repayment goes up so do interest rates which slows down the loan market. This means that the best and brightest get the money because they will be the successful ones. In turn, for the degrees they earn, they will find jobs in a market that created the opportunity in the first place. When the market is ready to absorb more people the risk will go down with the interest rates. Students will be discouraged from degrees that the market will not support. This doesn't mean they cannot get them, but they will not be punished by a false hope. Central planners think they can take one aspect of this great cycle of resource control and dump money on it and make the whole better. They are ignorant of the systemic processes going on.  I have only given a simplistic view of interactions here but even this seems to be beyond the people created an education bubble that will punish people for generations.

I would also like to point out any detractors that this free market system would be a detriment to knowledge itself. Knowledge and the appreciation of learning should be celebrated by all and not limited to those with degrees. We have vast resources for learning and gaining knowledge without it being tied to a degree. A degree is a level of certification that is more applicable to a market than a general scope of learning for the sake of gaining wisdom and understanding. Loans and their availability never restrict what someone can learn on their own. Only corrupt government can attempt to restrict knowledge.

Good intentions are great, but not realizing the effects of them leads to a pathway to hell. That is exactly where these students are with all this debt. Many end up working jobs they would have without degrees anyway. Allowing these loans to default or 'forgiving' them would be equivalent to giving away our which would be an even greater irony. It would be robbing the market of money it could use to grow and employee people. That money would go to a bank that took no risk and will continue to do so as long as the government allows. Basically in that scenario we would just be feeding back our money.

Instead of

Tags: 
Arthur Thomas's picture

The Road Not Taken

on Thu, 04/19/2012 - 16:34

Just because something did not happen does not mean it could not have happened, and just because someone cannot imagine something does not mean it is impossible.

As a Libertarian I am used to getting extreme arguments all the time. No other party has to deal with edge cases of political philosophy as much as the Libertarian Party. This is understandable given that a lot of the arguments for freedom are from positions this country has steered away from long ago. It is easy to be labeled as extreme when you are saying the status quo is not acceptable. We have gotten so used to creating rules and giving up freedoms that the idea of restoring freedom has become foreign. I wish to take up one of the common arguments we encounter and give insight into the possibilities of freedom. I want to show the path we have chosen and accepted as ‘inevitable’ and how that may lead to missed opportunities.

The argument: We need to tax people to build a public road system. Without a public transportation system people would not be able to travel and businesses would not be able to transport their goods. Only the government could provide our road system. It has been implied that “without government we would not have roads”.

Let us do the extreme first. Imagine that all the current roads disappeared. No highways, no neighborhood roads, and no city streets. Now of course, since this is the common reaction, everyone would yell out for government to solve the problem. It is a knee jerk reaction because we have been taught that government is an organizing force in our lives. Let us propose for a moment though that the government is not an option available to us. So we have our grassy areas with no roads in our example. This is not too convenient for those cars we have. Businesses still need to carry goods. People still need to get to work. Life must go on. What would you do? Just give up and stay home? Let your life dwindle away in hopelessness because your car is stuck in a garage? Certainly you may be upset at the disappearance at roads all of a sudden but would you let it stop you?  Would it stop your life?

At first it would be hard. You may walk more or people rely on friends with 4 wheel drive vehicles or use all terrain buses that can travel on rough ground.  As time passed though the interests that care about roads would get together. They would start planning to solve the problem. Large corporations that pushed goods would get together to solve their common problem. Construction companies would quickly adapt to seek out a private road market for these companies. Local neighborhoods would band together to look into paving options for their mutual benefit. People would start solving their problems. Maybe paving to each driveway is too expensive so a neighborhood creates a communal garage and everyone creates more green space in the neighborhood. Some communities may create more bike and scooter paths and take more buses. Certainly there would be roads that become toll roads to pay for their ongoing operations as well. The needs of the area come in to solve problem. The solutions would reflect the culture of the area as well. No longer would a single solution path be there to tell everyone how to ‘pave their way’ but people come together to fix their transportation problems. Over time the roads would be built. Goods would still get to where they need to go and people would be able to travel. Even taking away all the current roads would not stop life. So just posing the question that implies roads would not exist without government is a straw man argument. Just because some may lack the imagination to see another path does not mean another path does not exist.

Now that was a wild what if, but let us go back and imagine that government was not the sole provider of roads. Let us look into a possible avenue of what would happen if the state was not expected to build public roads. What if roads were left more to those who use them instead of forcing them upon all?

One argument is that the poorest people would not have roads and be able to travel while the richest have nice roads. This is of course how the economy usually sorts things out. Rich people will always have the nicest things, but does that mean poor people are ‘trapped’? I would argue that they are trapped now. What are their choices? They have to rely on a subsidized system that runs whenever others determine it will run. The other choice is to sink lots of money into a car, fuel, and all the fees associated with it. They have very limited choices that are extremes in cost and freedom. How is that free or better for the poorest of us? An unmolested economy solves problems like these. It balances out necessity of travel for work with cost and freedom. It means light transport can develop with low cost long distance transport and serve everyone alike.

Another of the hidden costs that I want to show is probably a surprising one.

Arthur Thomas's picture

Government Students

on Wed, 11/09/2011 - 16:21

In a recent CATO article they point out how Michelle Obama right about the idea of personal responsibility but wrong about the reality of it. The Obamas do not seem to see that while people should be responsible and are the ones held accountable for their own life, people are only hindered when others are making decisions on their behalf.

Until we have real school choice in Texas then parents will never be fully responsible for children's educations and what goes into their minds. Parents need to stand up for a choice in being responsible for their kids development or decide if they are just having kids for the government.

It time for Texas to take it schools back and for parents to take back responsibility for their children's education.

Tags: 
Lynn and Roger Bloxham's picture

A Dose of Principle

on Tue, 11/01/2011 - 16:29

In reference to: Regulate marijuana like wine.

The measure of a person's value of liberty is not how much liberty one desires for oneself, but how much liberty one is willing to allow others.

 

We of the Libertarian Party are certainly supportive and proud of Judge Gray. Before anyone knew who he was (outside the legal profession) Roger Bloxham as Orange County LP Chair, invited Judge Gray to be our guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the LP of Orange County. So many people showed up they stood on the lawn outside and we opened the windows so they could hear. I think about 200 showed up and room was crowded at 50 so it made quite an impression on the different press members attending. I believe and as I remember, Alan Bock introduced him and then David Nolan did the wind up thank you to Judge Gray for his courage in taking such an unpopular stand. Hard to believe both Alan and Dave are gone now. Many libertarians feel the void, but know they both would applaud Judge Gray's continuing courage. 
 
Libertarians can be immensely proud of the principled stand we and the few dedicated organizations who have focused so long on these issues, have steadfastly held. We took the moral high ground and stood firm even in the face of ridicule, and non support from the other political parties. Libertarians held firm while others have cared more for political popularity and were too narrow, cowardly and blind to see the unethical ramifications of their position.
 
Further, the libertarians have stood almost alone on the issue of self ownership and self determination that the federal policy destroys. Of course, in spite of a great amount of foresight on the future dangers of the War on Drugs, even libertarians could not foresee the enormous number of incarcerations here and the convoluted world wide damage this "War" has caused. Enormous praise to all those who have stood tall against this travesty and especially to all the libertarians and the LP for being the voice of reason and justice.
Tags: 
Lynn and Roger Bloxham's picture

Your Papers?

on Thu, 10/20/2011 - 16:38

This was the moment he had dreaded more than any other. Not the final digging and the worry he might have miscalculated and they would not emerge beyond the perimeter of the fence. Not the crawling for almost an hour on their bellies when every fiber in him strained to stand and run as fast as possible. Not the fear that they had the wrong farm house. Not even the long walk into the town, listening to every sound and hiding quickly when anyone passed who might be suspicious of two strangers. He did dread the further splitting up again as each must take a different route. But no, no moment was as dreaded as the command to present the official papers. Look calm, he mentally commanded. He deliberately relaxed his shoulders and feigned an air of indifference while the officer examined the forged documents. He felt the almost acid sweat on the back of his neck and the urge to wipe at it was almost overwhelming.

Though he looked more German than Bud, his German was poor, the accent not believable. Bud's German was better, so they each played a part. Bud jerked his head toward him and said to the guard in German, “Stutters bad, not too smart, but he works hard.” The guard glanced at him again. Joe smiled and nodded. Then he slouched a little and yawned. He hoped he looked as if his only concern was being bored and tired after a hard day's work.

While he waited he willed his mind to dwell on pleasant things as he had done so many times these past two years, in battle and in the prison camp. He thought of home and his wife Sue, Susie to him. Home, America. No pompous guards, no authoritative demands for papers, no prison camps. Joe and Bud had both noticed how the old farmer had trembled every time he glanced at the door. Then they noticed the door had been repaired. No, no more suspicious police, breaking down your door. No guards at every town road. No papers! Free to go across the whole of America if he damned well pleased! Home! Soon. Soon.

--------------

For those who remember the World War II era, we could hear the terror in people's voices as they related their frightening experiences. We watched movies, read the letters, post cards and books which made real to those who were spared that surreal time. We were horrified at the idea of the control the police and military “over there” exerted on the populace. (Many Americans did not realize the extent or even know of the Japanese internment camps). We knew of  some of the tragedies others experienced.

Even as children, we understood when guards asked for a person's “Papers” something dreadful could happen. Several generations of Americans held the memories of the horrors of totalitarian regimes and those memories became a part of our common heritage. This made the very idea of a National Identity Number and authorities with the power to demand one present papers, anathema to most Americans. So why are so many suddenly in favor of the idea? Why? Are the reality of those travesties no longer a part of our memories.

Those who normally want the State to stay out of the economic affairs of people, suddenly desire the most authoritarian implementation of control. The State has already accumulated an amount of power unimaginable to someone in the not too distant past. The encroachment of people's freedoms to move about, travel, drive, fly, is already highly restricted. Control over ingress is vaunted as desirable forgetting that walls limit everyone's egress as well.

New burdens on business are being encouraged, no, more accurately, some are begging the State to institute sweeping controls on private businesses with E Verify. Worse are the penalties and punishments for any business who even mistakenly hires an illegal. Businesses are raided and people rounded up like cattle and deported or held in internment centers with little concern for their well being. People who have said they stand for individual liberty, the sanctity of each human, the ideal of freedom that sets America apart, these very same people are clamoring for E Verify.

Make no mistake, E Verify is the same tactic used  to instill fear and obtain control upon which every authoritarian regime has solidified their power. It does not matter whether our “officials” are police, military or mild mannered women and men at one of the many Administrative Agencies. Neither does it matter if our papers are actually filed electronically and accessed by a small card all will be required to carry. The critical impact is the same; peaceful people are no longer free to go when and where they please without permission.

Those who claim they want to live in a country with a free market, where each person makes his own decision on buying and selling, working for a company or for themselves, are nodding yes to E Verify. When contradictions exist, check your premise suggested Ayn Rand. A Free Market must mean each employer makes the decisions to hire and fire and not the State.

Tags: 
Lynn and Roger Bloxham's picture

Public Schools: A System Too Big to be Salvaged

on Mon, 10/10/2011 - 14:52

While libertarians have many arguments against the core assumption that the state should determine how ones child is educated, something bigger has developed. The giant dinosaurs is now  past the point where its brain is big enough for its size.  The writing is on the wall for Internet and small personalized groups, all variations of home schooling and puts the responsibility back in the parent's lap. Exactly where it should have always remained.

Pulling so much power to the federal level, while consolidating more and more smaller schools into huge ones, may look good on the surface, but they have created a bureaucracy of huge proportions. Now this behemoth is unresponsive to the local administrations, dedicated teachers, concerned parents and worse, the student's obvious problems. The justification of consolidation was given that the larger entities provide greater opportunities. In reality there  are many avenues for children to get many opportunities and experiences and reap the benefits of the larger geographical area without the full time responsibilities of a huge enterprise funded by the taxpayer.

Though these monstrosities are unequivocally dysfunctional, those who desire a nationally controlled top down system, are ginning up the rhetoric against anything that changes the public education dynamic. They are positioning smaller neighborhood schools as racist. However, that is the direction things are edging toward anyway, and has nothing whatsoever to do with racism. Rather the return to smaller scale and more parental assumption of parental responsibility reflects the realities of cost, safety, administration difficulties, public sector unions and most important, obvious educational failures. The enormous impact and influence of Internet support for learning cannot be discounted. Soon parents will realize the huge school with a rigid schedule is simply not needed nor practical.

Tags: 
Arthur Thomas's picture

Power of Words

on Fri, 10/07/2011 - 15:47

While not in Texas, I believe this blog article shows the kind of thinking that can seep into government. This is what happens when the idea that government is here to build society takes over. This is the result of when the idea of creating a society overtakes the idea of protecting it. This is emotional folly and the worst of good intentions over principle. 

When you have a foundation of principles based on ideas of liberty then questions like these are obvious. You never destroy freedom. Even in the heart tugging case of 'for the children' you realize that a sacrifice of rights hurts them more in the long run. This is a very clear example of just what it means to have absolute rights and the responsibilities that come with them. What is the right of free speech? Is it just some high minded goal of letting people say stuff about politics now and then? Is it more fundamental than that? Does it mean we can potentially 'harm' another with our words? Even through Libertarian principles of non aggression we cannot physically harm someone, but what of hurting them deeply with words or ideas? All humans run into the sting and agony of emotional pain from these things that have no weight but hold great meaning. Most of us know that an emotional attack on the heart can hurt more than a cut to the arm. If these things are so powerful then why should we retain all rights over them? 

The power that they hold mandates that we must maintain absolute right to express ourselves. We must never yield power each of us contains through our words. As with all great powers there is a balance each of us must find. We can lift, empower, educate, and bring hope with our words, but we can also, demoralize, lie, and bring despair with them as well. This is the essence of liberty and personal responsibility that comes with it. If you want to power to lift someone up then the ability to lower someone must exist. If you threaten one ability then you threaten both. When the right to create words that convey how you feel and think about the world are stripped from your mouth then the power is no longer yours. That power then belongs to others. When all you are allowed to say are words that are supposedly positive then what meaning does that hold when it is the only option. How are the words yours any more? 

Pain exist in the world and it is foolish to think that words cannot cause great pain. This is also the great blessing of liberty to use them to heal. We should not try to silence words that hurt because we take away the meaning of the words that heal. When other are allowed to put words into our mouths then we no longer own our thoughts or expression which are fundamental to freely expressing ourselves and tailoring our society. Keep your words. Keep your power. Keep your right to fix the damage other would cause through their ignorance and desire to rob you of your power.

A word or thought may seem like a simple thing. Intangible and fleeting. They form ideas though that are more powerful than any weapon. Ideas change society. They change the flow of our very future. Never, for any reason, allow someone to take away your ability to tailor your future.

Lynn and Roger Bloxham's picture

Crossing the Line

on Tue, 09/20/2011 - 00:46

Perhaps like me, you also talk with many conservatives and find areas of agreements on Taxes, deficit spending, budgets etc. Also we usually have commonality on the Second Amendment and, most important, partial agreement on Property rights.

I am astounded, however on the positions many conservatives take on personal rights. About 15 years ago I rather accidentally stumbled on information that shocked me as to who was really pulling strings on anti immigration rhetoric, using falsified statistics and generally attempting to saturate the conservatives with anti immigration ideas. These manipulators are succeeding, and in the process Conservatives are harming their reputation and credibility. Worse because they claim to agree with libertarians on some issues, their anti immigration position harms us also, simply by association. Worst though of all is the damage done to hard working immigrants who come here to work, live, trade and live normal lives.

There are many more arguments I will be making in this series of articles and I have extensive information, from all the speeches and the radio shows I did earlier. However, if you have immigration information to add, I would appreciate it. This furthers my suggestion idea that we divide and conquer(not people but the amount of educational work ahead) each of us not trying to do everything, but choosing one area and becoming well grounded and spending the time to handle it well.

I had the opportunity to submit a series of articles, to an immigration sympathetic conservative editor to present the pro immigrant position to counter the other authors and most of their reader base. They accepted my articles. So, with my friend Becky Akers the two of us will attempt to offer, explain and perhaps persuade toward the freedom of movement which libertarians hold as a primary essential for this particular Ezine.

I hope you will not only go to the site but forward the link to friends who are sympatheitic to the libertarian positition...or even opposed to it.

http://www.americandailyherald.com/lynn-atherton-bloxham/to-my-conservative-friends-on-the-issue-of-immigration

http://www.americandailyherald.com/lynn-atherton-bloxham/to-my-conservative-friends-on-the-issue-of-immigration-part-2

http://www.americandailyherald.com/lynn-atherton-bloxham/to-my-conservative-friends-on-the-issue-of-immigration-part-3

Arthur Thomas's picture

Business as a Privledge

on Mon, 09/19/2011 - 17:31

I recently read a statement that said businesses are privileges granted by the government. I found this idea a bit absurd as if someone was telling me trading milk and sugar with my neighbor should be seen as a privilege granted by a government authority. 

I am very much against the idea that conducting business is a privilege and is only something that can be granted by those who happen to be in power at the time. This statement implies that all interaction with fellow people are blessed by a special group of people who are no morally better than anyone else but have government guns and badges. If I am only given privileged to trade a cup of sugar to my neighbor for a bowl of milk by the pleasure of those in power then how am I free? This strikes at the very heart of personal liberty and property rights. Must every action be blessed by government? All things are rights until we lose them. Also take note that laws are not always enforced and are up to the whims of those who hold the power at any given time. Slavery was mentioned as a government intervention that protects us and of course is something which must be protected against to allow freedom. No man should be allowed to impose his will or take freedom from another. So what does it mean when my life and the products of my life (property) are governed by another? I become a slave. If freedom is nothing more than the mere fact that I can stand in one spot and breathe then what kind of freedom is that? What I spend my energy on, the land I buy, and the things I create are what give me life and they are my liberty. If I cannot choose what to do with them then I am a slave to those who can on my behalf. My life and my efforts are meaningless unless I am free to choose what to do with them. Even if you are a collectivist and believe the whole is more important than the one, it must be obvious that a mass of people just 'living' without meaning is nothing to aspire to. We define our lives by what we do with them. Whether knowledge or the products of our knowledge we must be free to express them.

Doing business is not a privilege of government but an essential right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Arthur Thomas's picture

Is Freedom Racism?

on Fri, 09/16/2011 - 16:46

The socialists believe in two things which are absolutely different and perhaps even contradictory: freedom and organization  -- Elie Halevy

Over the last few years as the word "libertarian" has become more widely used, even applying it to people who clearly are not libertarian. On several occasions certain media representatives and their admirers have stooped to pinning the label "racist" on libertarians and the Libertarian Political Party. Specifically this issue has come up in regards to defense of property rights.

I haven't met any Libertarians that are racists. I have met the ugly face of racism growing up here in Texas unfortunately, but not from anyone that has labeled themselves as Libertarian. I am sure there are some people that call themselves Libertarian for whatever reason and are racists, but this is no different than any other group 'collecting' outsiders that are confused. I will quite honestly tell you that, if I were forced to choose, I would feel more comfortable with a true Libertarian racists than a non Libertarian one. By definition a Libertarian knows not to impose themselves upon another while a racists of any other party will happily do so with the power of government. So even if you believe Libertarians are racists they would be the most harmless kind by the very definition of being Libertarian.

There are no rights held higher or lower than another. The issue of property rights is extremely simple: Are you free to do something with what you own or not? But the argument being made here against racists shop owners really isn't about rights at all. The argument really is about someone else being allowed to do something one does not like. The argument is to force someone to do what what another person finds as morally as acceptable. It is personal statement of morality. That is why the ideas are so easily placed on a moral stepladder because it has nothing to do with rights and everything to do with personal judgment of others. This is nothing but desire to punish people that are disagreeable using the power of government. I understand the urge. It is perfectly human to desire to do that, but one must realize that the power to do such a thing strips away freedom and does not protect it as expected. If one group can impose their judgment using government power then what stops another group? Freedom must be maintained absolutely for all parties or it holds no meaning and is left to the whims of the times and those in power. Beware of when the faddish moral judgments of a mob turn against you in a tyrannical world!

So lets bring this back to actually discussing rights. First lets realize that businesses are people. Its easy to abstract them away and see them as cold inhuman entities but fundamentally it is no different than Person A wanting to trade a good with Person B. People run business, people make businesses, people participate in business, people are businesses. We are really talking about peoples' rights here and separating them out into an abstracted entity is not very meaningful. So the question is does Person A have a fundamental right to do what he wants with his property even when that is judged as morally bad. Libertarians state, and I think you have to agree if you believe in freedom, that doing what you want with your property is freedom. So the next question is how much freedom? Is there a limit? Just how much freedom does one have that extends to what they own? Can Person A sell their property for 100 times what it is worth, or hold it away until someone they like better comes along? Can they hold their property until someone they think really needs it wants it? Can they give it to a charity of their choice? Can they destroy it and not give it to anyone? Can they give it away haphazardly. Can they give it to a favorite person? Can they not share it and sell it off and enjoy the money for themselves? There are so many choices that it is easy to see a spectrum of possibilities and how any ability to regulate what someone does with their property instantly turns that property into the governments property and not the property of the individual. If a person cannot choose to do what they will with their property then it is simply not their property. So if I take my property and enclose it within a structure that I have purchased (again my property) then why should I not do what I want with all my belongings. If I put up a bag of sugar and say it is for sale then it is really no different than having a bag of sugar in my house that I may be willing to give away. All of it is my property and what happens with it is governed by my will. I can choose to trade it as I see fit and I also cannot force it upon another. Mutual agreement of transaction is king here. This is the argument for absolute property rights and not for flippant checks of whatever a powerful group at the time thinks is proper. 

Now focusing specifically on racism, it is obvious that is not a moral or

Pages