Laissez Faire Links: Social Obligation in Obamacare, ObamaRetire?, Progressives vs. Madisonians, Minimum Wage Revisited

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LAISSEZ FAIRE LINKS

  • Is there a social obligation for me to provide my neighbors’ opportunity to receive healthcare?  What about if his provision negates mine?  Rituparna Basu at the Ayn Rand Institute throws down the argument from social obligation used by proponents of Obamacare.  One’s only “right” to healthcare rests on one’s moral requirement to earn the best healthcare he or she can, not one’s right to receive it at the expense of someone else.  She also gives a comprehensive overview of how Obamacare will greatly limit younger Americans and what we can do to move forward.
  • Ari Armstrong at The Objectivist Standard Blog asks “Is ObamaRetire Next?”  Now that Progressives have our healthcare, they want our retirement accounts as well.
  • Judge Napolitano writes an informative piece contrasting the progressive status quo with the more liberty-loving Madisonians.  The latter founded America on the principle of individual liberty and limited government.  The Progressives, a title encompassing most of Washington, seeks to turn this idea on its head, placing the State as the first and final arbiter of personal liberty.

“Note that Obama doesn’t say that “America deserves a raise” because low-wage workers have suddenly become more productive and, therefore, more valuable to their employers. No, he says that they deserve it because “nobody who works full time should have to live in poverty.” What about the consequences of the minimum wage? Consequences be damned! What about the businessman who must make ends meet and can only pay a wage for unskilled labor that is lower than the minimum wage? Businessmen be damned! What about the workers who are willing to work for lower than minimum wage, but will be laid off or replaced by automated teller machines and other automatic processes? Workers be damned! The minimum wage is right! It makes us feel moral! Reality be damned!”

Obamacare Not Enough, Now Progressives Want Your Retirement

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Now that Progressives have control over our healthcare, they want our retirement accounts as well.  Using what Linda Gorman calls the “health care playbook,” progressives are aiming their snare guns at one of the final untouched frontiers in American individualism, the retirement account.

“Progressive activists are in the early stages of attempting to create a retirement security crisis. Using the health care playbook, they claim that people lack access to ‘adequate retirement security’.  The lack of access is said to impose large costs on everyone else because people without ‘retirement security’ consume more public assistance payments. Government must ‘solve’ the problem because only government can provide secure retirement investment options for all by mandating that people purchase them.”

Under the guise of “security” and led by the false identification of a “public good,” the Left will tout any retirement reform much the same way Obama and the Left sold Obamacare to the public.  The “public good” is in danger because a lack of coverage by too many will drive up costs.  Meanwhile, this ignores the economic reality that universal access destroys market access, which drives up costs while greatly diminishing quality.  More importantly is that the notion of a “public good” is not definable.  Rather, it is merely clever jargon to disguise the coercive nature of wealth redistribution schemes.  In the words of Ayn Rand, “since the public is merely a number of individuals, the idea that ‘the public interest’ supersedes private interests and rights, can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others.” (my emphasis)  The Left has used this jargon as their rallying cry since before LBJ’s Great Society experiment began, and whether accepted or rejected, the “public good” provided the largest of Obama’s soap boxes when campaigning his healthcare reform.  They will assuredly use it here if such legislation makes its way out of Colorado onto the national political scene.

Before you write this off as a close call and go about your day, keep a couple of things in mind.  First, passage of House Bill 1377 in Colorado failed by only 1 Senate vote.  And second, Colorado was also the staging ground for many aspects included in Obamacare.  Ari Armstrong over at The Objective Standard Blog says this:

“Three years before the 2010 passage of the national ObamaCare law, a “blue ribbon” commission in Colorado explored—at the behest of the state legislature—ways to expand government involvement in health care. Among other proposals, the commission recommended forcing ‘all legal residents of Colorado to have minimum insurance coverage’, ‘providing sliding-scale subsidies for low-income workers to purchase private coverage’, and creating a government ‘Connector’ to assist individuals and small employers to understand and choose among insurance options.”

In true statist fashion, the government claims the rights of some to fix problems itself creates.  From the Great Recession to the entitlement crisis, government solutions for government-created problems are becoming the hallmark of U.S government.

 

Laissez Faire Links: Minimum Wage, Rational Patriotism, Equality, and Obamacare

Government rights-violating policies take on many forms these days.  Below are a few issues circulating throughout Washington, the press, and the blogosphere.

The first piece is a wonderfully impassioned lashing against the Left and their refusal to acknowledge the economic reality that a minimum wage imposes on unskilled workers.  Yaron Brook, Director of the Ayn Rand Institute attacks the false logic behind a minimum wage raise, and it has nothing to do with economics.  Rather, it is coated with a thick malaise of altruistic do-goodedness.  He hits the nail on the head:

“The economic case against the minimum wage is easy to grasp. When the government artificially raises the price of something, the demand for it goes down. Raising the minimum wage decreases the demand for unskilled labor (usually the young).

Raising the minimum wage feels good because it appeals to the prevailing altruism in the culture.

Many people understand that the minimum wage defies economic reality. What we need are more people to understand that the morality of altruism defies reality. Human life and happiness require freedom, including the freedom to compete on the labor market with lower wages — yet this is the very reality the altruists want us to ignore in the name of the “poor.” That’s why it’s impractical — and any policy based on it will be destructive.

To move toward freedom — to defeat the senseless and immoral absurdity that the minimum wage represents — it is altruism that must be defeated.”

Full Article here: The Minimum Wage vs. Reality

 

Michael A. Laferrara, writing for The Objective Standard Blog uses government taxation of American corporations overseas to define patriotism in terms of what is rational for a better America, not a more intrusive American government.  “Rational patriotism does not mean throttling productive citizens for the sake of politicians and bureaucrats. Rational patriotism in America means loyalty to what America stands for: the inalienable rights of individuals to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Citizens for Tax Justice versus Rational Patriotism

 

Next is a rebuttal of Thomas Picketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century.  Picketty argues that income inequality has increased because investments grow faster than wages.  His solution?  Legislate an 80 percent wealth tax on the rich.  John Stossel at Reason counters that despite the Left’s concern over income inequality, income mobility in America is still very much alive.  More importantly, economic mobility is a result of the free market, and thus, logically, cannot be legislated.  It continues in spite of a natural inequality in living standards. The issue is then one of liberty rather than equality.

Debunking Popular Nonsense About Income Mobility in America

For a strictly Objectivist take on Picketty’s argument in Capital, see Yaron Brook’s response here.

 

Just as the government would like to legislate economic equality, the urge to legislate a nation’s collective living standard is akin to Obama legislating better healthcare.  Don Boudreaux, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, brings this flaw of logic to light.  Legislating universal access to a scarce item certainly does not guarantee any degree of quality.  In fact, basic economics tells you that mandating a minimal quantity of any commodity will lower the quality of that item due to the basic law of scarcity.

Dear Mr. Krugman

 

Let us summarize these four issues and the government’s position on them.  Let us mandate that employers pay wages higher than they would normally pay for a given skill set, forcefully redistributing wealth to less productive avenues.  Let us tax successful corporations for being successful, forcefully taking and redistributing capital to less productive avenues such as the welfare state.  Let us ignore income mobility, the manifestation of which is hope, focussing only on income inequality and turning what is a natural occurrence of diversity and freedom into a scapegoat for more taxation, spending programs, and laws.  So we have forced redistribution of wealth, forced redistribution of capital, and a blatant denial of natural facts for smoke-and-mirror rationalization.  Oh and let us not forget the Obama administration’s false equation of quantity of healthcare received to quality of healthcare produced.

Does this sound like a rights-respecting or rights-violating government?

 

Laissez Faire Links: Government Shutdown, Delaying the Obamacare Mandate, the Morality of Abortion, and Myths Against Capitalism

What would a proper government shutdown look like?  Why will President Obama need to delay his mandate provision?  Can a woman be charged with homicide for aborting her baby?  Did capitalism cause the 2008 financial crisis?

  • Ari Armstrong over at The Objective Standard talks about a government shutdown that would be welcomed.  His brief piece Toward a Shutdown to Celebrate makes the point that most government functions are superfluous, and there are many.  Beneath the umbrella of laissez-faire capitalism, the proper function of government is strictly limited to protector of individual rights.  He states, “In order to protect rights, the government needs to run an effective military, police force, court system, and the aspects of government necessary to support them. Those, and nothing else, are the essential functions of government.”
  • Forbes contributor Scott Gottlieb discusses problems the new government healthcare exchanges are having out of the gate.  Why President Obama Will Have To Delay His Health Insurance Mandate makes the case that technical problems with the virtual exchange rollout will necessitate a delay in the requirement for those uninsured to purchase coverage.  His prognosis is not optimistic: “The Administration started building these systems late, and rushed them online, without perfecting these networks. Working them out now, in real time, is going to take months, and maybe a year.”  With that large of a delay, the Obama Administration will have to backpedal on its threat to penalize the uninsured.
  • Just a little more from our friends at The Objective Standard tells us about a possible Colorado ballot measure that would effectively criminalize any and all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.  The measure would go further though.  In addition to calling for “homicide prosecutions for killing the unborn,” the “Brady Amendment” violates a women’s moral right to choose how she lives and what is best for her and her body.
  • Did Capitalism Cause the Financial Crisis?  This is a short, but invaluable video regarding the common myth that capitalism failed, resulting in the 2008 financial meltdown. Yaron Brook, Director of the Ayn Rand Institute, states that this is erroneous because a true system of laissez-faire capitalism did not exist prior to 2008.  What did exist was a degree of government intervention that distorted the market, leading to bubbles in asset prices that never would have existed under natural market forces.  It is no coincidence that the three most highly regulated industries – housing, banking, and mortgages – were those that failed.  Pay particular attention to his comments on the Federal Reserve system.  For more information, see my discussions of the Federal Reserve.