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Conservative Problems with “Big Government” Exclude Security and Defense

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This afternoon while driving home I was listening to talk radio, some of you may already be judging but hear me out, and I heard the conservative them for bashing government run health care, “If the government can run the DMV, screws up this simple program, makes this stupid mistake, etc…then why would we entrust it with 1/6th of economy and let it run health care.”  This is a very valid point.  The question I have is why this isn’t consistently applied to defense and security.  If we can not trust government run health care or hand out drivers licenses, then how can we trust government to a true monopoly on protecting our individual rights, defending our property and lives, and running an industry that directly cost nearly 10 percent of US GDP in 2009.  The defense industry is riddled with just as much corruption, inefficiency, bureaucracy, and all other issues that are symptomatic of a government run program that lacks internalized costs for those making the decisions.

Dec 9, 2009

NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation

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After the break is a short essay I wrote on the Supreme Court case, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation (1937). The essay briefly addresses some of the case history regarding the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution as well as the impact that NLRB had on the expansion of the federal government and the destruction of federalism, States’ rights, and individual rights:

The Supreme Court case, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation, a new precedent was established through which what remained of state power and sovereignty and individual rights would be trampled by the ever growing federal government. In this case, the NLRB charged Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation (Defendants) with “unfair labor practices affecting interstate commerce” because they allegedly fired workers who chose to organize into a union.(1) The Circuit Court of Appeals found for the defendant and ruled that the order to cease “unfair labor practices” by the NLRB was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court heard the case and reversed the decision, marking a “dramatic departure…from a century and a half of precedent”(2) and putting another nail in the coffin of federalism.

In 1824, not long after the Constitution was written and adopted, the Court granted the federal government powers beyond the “narrowest definition” of the commerce clause, “to make regular” or “facilitate the free flow of goods, but not, except in cases of danger, to prohibit the flow of any good”(3); and instead adopted the position that the power granted by the commerce clause allowed congress to regulate interstate commerce in any manner it deems fit, limited only by “the political check of the voters.”(3) However, Chief Justice Marshall also made clear that since the framers of the Constitution felt the need to enumerate this specific power than there must be unenumerated power that was not granted and that “something, if we regard the language or the subject of the sentence, must be the exclusively internal commerce of the state.”(3) Following this decision, “Congress was relatively careful to limit its use of the commerce clause” to justify legislation. Until Franklin Roosevelt decided, in the midst of the Great Depression, to greatly expand federal government and its powers. This led to the Supreme Court striking down many of the laws he advocated as unconstitutional [Railroad Retirement Board v. Alton Railroad Co. (1935),A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp v. United States (1935), Carter v. Carter Coal Co. (1936)] All of these cases maintained most of the precedent set in the 1824 case. However, after Roosevelt politicized the Supreme Court’s decisions, comparing them to the very racist Dredd Scott decision, and threatening to pack the court with sympathetic judges the Court appears to have given in to the pressure in NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation. In this decision, the Supreme Court held that Congress could now regulate intrastate activities that have a “close substantial relation to interstate commerce” making regulation “essential or appropriate to protect that commerce from burdens and obstructions.”(4) This ruling has led to almost limitless expansion of the federal government as almost any activity can be shewn to be related or connected to interstate commerce, as demonstrated in Wickard v. Filburn, where the federal government was able to regulate even home-grown wheat used by the grower themselves to feed themselves and their horses since they had they purchased the wheat it would be reflected in the national market and could therefore be regulated.

Congress’s power under the commerce clause has continue to expand ever since and has almost been upheld every time, with a couple of exceptions [United States v. Lopez (1995)]. This has destroyed the system of federalism that founding fathers intended.

1. http://www.lawnix.com/cases/nlrb-jones.html

2. United States v. Lopez (1995)

3. The Heritage Guide to the Constitution. Edited by Edwin Meese III. 2005.

4. Men in Black. Mark R. Levin. 2005.

Filed under Politics
Nov 29, 2009

Political Survey November 27, 2009

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The Most up to date Political Survey can always be found at <http://damienmanier.com/political-survey/>

In order for this site to be an accurate metric of how my views may change over time as I continue researching and studying ideas, I have created a political survey on myself. I have tried to include most major issues and provided my views in short answer form. I intend to provide full essay attention to each of these topics over time, but readers should be able to see where I am coming from. Requests for issues to be added to the survey can be sent to me using the Contact button on the menu bar, as well as requests for which issues to focus on first when I am writing essays for the blog. Whenever I change, nuance, or feel the need to add clarification to the short answers in the survey I will post the updates to the blog as well as to this page which will also contain past answers to compare with.

  • (November 27, 2009) My stance hasn’t really changed on this issue. I still find the idea of single payer or government run health care to be a nightmare of an idea because it will lead to overspending, inefficiencies, rationing, and a growing dependence on the government. However, I would like to point out quickly some of the problems government is already causing in health care. I will not explore them much here just give them notice.Licensing- The practice of licensing, when it is required by law and enforced through government coercion, limits the supply of services in all fields, to include medicine, and therefore causes shortages. Many of the more basic medical needs do not require a PHD but the over qualification and shortage of practitioners inflate the cost of health care.FDA- Research has been done (I hope to more fully share and explore this later) that indicates that many of the FDA’s decisions and regulations are political. The FDA also adds on additional costs to the researching and marketing of medicine. Many economists, including Nobel Laureate for Economics Milton Friedman, believe that innovation in medicine, especially for rare diseases, has dramatically decreased since the creation and expansion of the FDA.

    Employer Insurance and HMOs- While my knowledge is still quite limited the research I have done points that government intervention is what has led to our current insurance situation. Wage restrictions and taxes on employment influenced employers to find ways to compensate their employees without being punished by creating employee health plans. The government further pushed this effort by creating tax penalties for individuals purchasing health care thus making them more likely to look for employer provided options. This of course removed internalization of the costs from the actual consumer and with more centrally controlled plans led to less competition.

    Medicare/Medicaid- The government negotiates or forces lower costs on medical providers and they in turn pass these costs on to the rest of their patients.

    This is an issue that I am currently researching. The topic is very complex as there are many player and interconnected parts. I am definitely against a single payer (taxpayer/government) system due to it being a direct threat to freedom and a guarantee of inefficiency. How will people stand up to a government that they depend on for life saving treatments and vaccinations for their children and what government record are people looking to make themselves believe that something as complex as healthcare for a country can be centrally controlled and run by the government.
  • (November 27, 2009)No longer do I believe that Social Security was meant to be a temporary fix. New research has led me to believe that it was unconstitutionally created and deceitfully packaged and sold to create a strong and lasting dependence on the government as well as to swell the governments pockets with new revenue.
    Currently I have to take a pretty unpopular stance on Social Security. I believe that it was intended (right or wrong) as a temporary fix to help the elderly during the great depression. However, that time has come and gone and Social Security has become the greatest example how something sold as a temporary fix to a crisis becomes a permanent entitlement with far reaching consequences and infinite potential for expansion. We can see this in the fact that Social Security not only is used as a retirement supplement for the elderly but is the sole income for some and has been expanded to cover the disabled and children of deceased citizens until they turn 18 (sometimes 21 if the continue going to school.) The government can never be trusted to limit itself and social security displays all that is wrong with entitlements.
  • (November 27, 2009) Previously, I said I was an avid supporter of the Fair Tax. I no longer see the Fair Tax as my goal but as a possible objective towards my goal of “No Coercive Taxes.” Many libertarians, especially on Mises.org, state that replacing the current coercive tax system with a new means of coercive collecting of taxes does not solve the problem. Coercive because people do not willing pay them, but pay them at the point of a gun. (If you don’t pay your taxes you will be fined or jailed–>you only allow your self to be imprisoned or fined because if you resist you will be shot…so in the end you pay at the point of a gun.)I agree that it is not a solution. However, under the current system the government is able to divide and conquer. They can raise taxes on some and not others in order to gain their support, give subsidies or tax breaks to special interest groups and engage in class welfare so that the people fight each other instead of the source of divisiveness and coercion, the State. The Fair Tax, on the other hand, if implemented as its creators intend, will reduce and/or eliminate many of these opportunities for the government to turn the people against each other and hide the true cost of government. Another idea I came up with recently would be to limit the federal government to taxing the states. This would allow the states to collect taxes in a variety of ways and to the degree that they see fit, it would also make it easier for people to vote with their feet since their tax burden would be wholly dependent on their state of residence, and it would give states an incentive to fight the growing behemoth of federal government since they would be the ones turning over its revenues.
    I have been avid supporter of the Fair Tax (all federal taxes, except excise taxes, replaced by a national sales tax) since I first learned about it. Many issues could be helped with this system of taxation and it would bring much needed transparency to the cost of government. It would be good for American business and the American financial system. While I can see the arguments of libertarians about eliminating all taxes (except possible “voluntary taxes”) I don’t believe America is prepared for that bold a step and I would be very pleased with this large step in the right direction.
  • (November 27, 2009) The State can only have the powers delegated to it by the people it serves and the people can not delegate powers they themselves don’t have. With that being said, since aggressive coercion or violence is wrong for individuals it must also be wrong for government. A war may still be justified, but only if it is in response to aggression or the direct threat of aggression and then only in proportionate response or until the aggressor ends their campaign or the direct threat no longer exists. Also, by direct threat I do not mean the potential to conduct aggressive acts or inflict harm but the stated intent or preparations with intent to do harm. However, there are other issues that have direct implications on this issue. So long as people who do not support the wars are the ones fighting and paying for them the wars, even with all other criteria being met, will not truly be just.
    I don’t think anyone would consider themselves pro-war, I am not in favor of war for the sake of war or for the confiscation of resources (land, treasure, people or power). However, I am currently in favor of military action up to and including war for the sake of protecting our National Security, which includes protecting our way of life. I believe that we are still at a point in civilization where military force has to be used to stop tyranny and other forces acting against the interests of the people of the United States. However, I am currently looking into the idea that more is lost than gained by the exercise of military force or projection. If I discover that the Cons outweigh the Pros when it comes to the interests of the people of this country I would whole heartedly change my position of support for military force.
  • (November 27, 2009) Previously this topic was Electoral College and Federalism but those topics were too narrow and has thus been expanded to the more general, “Structure of Government.” This topic also focuses on how I view the current government structure and the changes I propose, while they may seem radical, still maintain the integrity of the current state. The true goal, however, is a sort of libertarian anarchy but these steps should help to move in that direction.There are many inherent problems that arise from our structure of government. One major issue that a majority, or at least plurality, of Americans seem to have a problem with is the two party system More Americans identify themselves as Independent, or some other “third-party” such as Libertarian, than ever before. However, few have thought of why we are still stuck in a two party system in spite of mass discontent with either of the major parties. The most likely place for smaller parties and independents to gain ground is in the House of Representatives. However, the fixed number of seats, 435, since 1929 has created very large districts that give the major parties an advantage since more funds and organization are required to mobilize the vote in that large of a constituency. That is why the House should be reapportioned and greatly expanded. Another barrier is the single-party districts. When a majority of voters leads to a winner takes all contest it promotes support for major candidates who are seen as more likely to win while third parties are viewed as spoilers. This can be partially fixed just by creating smaller districts that smaller parties can compete in but another possible solution would be to assign seats in the House based on percentage of votes gained for each party. This is done in several other countries and allows for many smaller parties and usually prevents a straight majority party from being formed.One of the greatest political tragedies of American history has been the overwhelming centralization of power in the federal government. From the very beginning this was the debate that caused the founders to fracture into parties and it is only natural that the central governing body will always try to grab more and more power but the check against it was supposed to be the states acting in their self interests to protect and cling to that power for themselves. This trend, of centralization, was primarily started when States were no longer allowed to secede after the civil war. Up until the time states were voluntarily a part of the union and their ability to secede kept the federal government in check. However, since the “consent of the governed” is no longer needed the federal government expands more and more all the time, trampling state and individual rights. The idea of “consent of the governed” should be resurrected and states or even individuals should be allowed to secede in order to create a truly free society or societies.

    This is an issue I have not been able to come to a firm conclusion on. Currently I am leaning towards the category of opposing the Electoral College. Most of the original arguments for the Electoral College seem to be outdated and I have found several arguments against. I am actually in favor of fairly radical (in today’s status quo political environment) change in much of the structure of government.

    One of the greatest political tragedies of American history has been the overwhelming centralization of power in the federal government. From the very beginning this was the debate that caused the founders to fracture into parties and it is only natural that the central governing body will always try to grab more and more power but the check against it was supposed to be the states acting in their self interests to protect and cling to that power for themselves. Somewhere along the line the states rolled over or sold out and that is a trend that needs to be reversed. Diversity between the states is what allows people and business to vote with their feet moving where the laws are most friendly to them. When all blurs together and all laws are basically handed down from the federal government there can be no competition between the states or experimentation to find the best new ideas. Each voice of the people also becomes less and less heard as they are drowned out by the larger and larger masses ruled by an ever more centralized government.
  • (November 27, 2009) My previous position as a strict constructionist when it comes to judicial interpretation of the Constitution still holds. However, I also wanted to point out that while I believe the Constitution to have been an ingeniously written political document; I do not find it to be the last word, free from error, divinely inspired, or any more binding on government than being a symbol that acts as a rallying call for the people, who are the actual restrains binding state power. The constitution has been amended several times, not all that I agree with. Law, in the legislative sense, does not make write and just because it is written does not make it so. With that being said, I still stick to a strict constructionist, or literal, interpretation because to do otherwise would be to allow government unbound power.
    I am a strict constructionist when it comes to the Constitution. It should be interpreted as its writers intended to include each amendment. The Constitution can be a living document without judicial activism in its interpretation. The founders included a way for the Constitution to adapt to modern times throughout the amendment process. The difficulty of this process was intentional in order to limit the power of government, since it makes that laws that governs itself a fairly rigid document that needs the concurrence of competing powers is required to provide that limitation and shouldn’t be circumvented by a handful of judges.
  • (March 21, 2009) I support a policy that makes it much easier to come to this country to work, go to school or even live. At the same time I advocate much stricter standards for citizenship. I have not been able to do enough research to see exactly what standards I would ask be required but I am sure that in order to protect the integrity of our political system, to maintain an American culture and promote integration into society stricter standards are absolutely necessary. As to how much easier I believe it should be to enter this country, the only standard I would apply is a direct threat to the security of the country or the residents of the country. I do not mean a perceived threat to jobs or things of that nature but a national security threat or a criminal record. This freer flow of immigration would be much easier for people to support, however, if they did not fear that the influx of immigrants would be added burden due to the ever growing welfare state. Also, my way of dealing with illegal immigrant already in this country would be to grant them permanent status, we would then be aware of who is in our country and the would be recognized and not forced to live in the shadows. However, I would put limits on their status so that they could not become citizens unless they returned to their homecountry, without penalty, and re-entered the US legally behind everyone else who is waiting. They also would not ever be allowed to sponsor family members or other immigrants unless they returned to their home country first and entered legally. This would basically continue the status quo as far as their established lives, they currently can not sponsor relatives or become citizens, with the benefit of giving them basic rights and registering them in our systems so that they are accounted for; and it would alleviate fears of exponential growth in immigrants due to chain immigration after they are legalized and the culture shock of an addition of that number of immigrant citizens.
  • (November 27, 2009) The only thing I would add to my previous statements is that the goal is to remove government from education altogether. However, I still find school vouchers to be a huge step in the right direction and fully support it.(March 21, 2009) I am a strong advocate of school vouchers. I have found that an educated society has many spillover benefits and thus is one of the few items that I believe the government justifiably can fund. However, I do not trust the government to run our education. There is a conflict of iterest there in that young minds being shaped by those in power is a very dangerous thing. Also, the “common experience” “one size fits all” philosophy behind the public school system is a fails to achieve the goals that most citizens and parents see for schools: to instill children with knowledge and skills that will benefit them. Also, when choice is stifled and parents are compelled to send their kids to public school, usually not even able to choose which public school, it creates an environment where parents are either forced to accept someone else’s views, ideas and educating methodology, or to force their views on someone else’s kid. This has led to the great controversies in education that could have been largely avoided if parents had more choice and were able to more freely send their kids to schools they didn’t object to.
  • (March 21, 2009) While I may disagree with Thomas Friedman on many issues, I did find his books “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” and “The World is Flat” pretty useful. The conclusion he came to was that it doesn’t matter if we agree with globalization or because it’s happening. To ask if you agree with globalization would be like asking if you agree with the sun coming up in the morning…it’s going to happen regardless. The question is how do we live and adjust our views to fit that of a globalized world economy. We should recognize the new interconnectedness of not only countries but of issues. The economy is now directly connected to national security and our domestic politics are watched by countries around the world. Individuals can now do what only countries could do decades ago, moving large amounts of goods around the globe, conducting foreign policy, conducting business in several countries from their home or office.
  • (November 27, 2009) The topic of the Death Penalty was too narrow and thus expanded. The best place to find my views on Crime and Punishment more fully explored is in “The Ethics of Liberty” by Murray Rothbard. I will summarize them here. Crimes are committed against individuals by individuals and punishment is a way to seek justice, not to protect society or rehabilitate the criminal. The punishment should be guided by the “proportionality principle,” which will set the maximum for the punishment. The proportionality argument states that the criminal will be deprived of his rights up to the degree that he deprived the victim of their rights, plus restitution. However, instead of an “impartial” judge, who has no stake in the matter, the punishment, up to the maximum dictated by the proportionality principle, will be decided by the victim. The victim may decide to forgive part or all of the punishment for any reason to include personal beliefs, sympathy for the criminal’s situation or understanding of the events that led to the crime, to boost their personal image, or in a settlement with the criminal for money. The victim, or their heirs, was the one deprived of their rights so it should be up to them to decide the fate of the criminal up to the maximum.
    While reserved for heinous crimes like murder I agree with the Death Penalty. Even if I found some philosophical objection to it, it still wouldn’t bother me that a murderer or serial killer gets executed. It weighs zero on my conscience.
  • (March 21, 2009) In my personal life and personal advice I am against abortion. I think the debate is skewed and that I do not think there is a pro-life and a pro-death side of the issue or a pro-choice and anti-choice side of the issue but that there are those who believe that at some point during the pregnancy, some as early as conception, that a person exists. There are others who believe that it is only a clump of cells or some sort of animal or non-person fetus (I admit I am not sure what they classify it as, but I am giving them the benefit of doubt in my mind that they do not believe it is a person they are killing.) If there is a person in the womb then that person has rights including the right to life. If it is not a person then its rights are far less defined but I do not think that anyone can claim that it is not a living organism that is being killed in the abortion process. That is where I think the debate lies, in the personhood of the baby or fetus and when it becomes a person. Not about women’s rights. If it is not a person, I think few would object to a woman’s choice, but if you believe it is a person it can not be expected that you would sacrifice that person’s life for the convenience, career, plans, or even psychological trauma of the mother. Unless the life of the mother is in danger, I do not currently believe abortion is right.
  • (March 21, 2009) Anthropological global warming is a religion loosely veiled in science. The motivation for this fraud is great due to the huge sums of government money pouring in to finance it and the agenda of those pushing the theory is clearly anti-business and anti-capitalist. The deceit and misinformation that I have found prevalent in the science and theories in global warming has led me to believe that this is not just an incorrect theory but intentional misleading of people to make them act against their true self-interests and probably the greatest fraud in my lifetime. This politicized science, when finally exposed, will hurt the credibility of the scientific community for years to come and that is unfortunate.
  • (March 21, 2009) Frankly, if government got out of the marriage business: did not make tax laws, entitlements, legal recognition; then this would be a non-issue. However, gay marriage advocates are naive if they believe they can force acceptance on society or individuals. The government definitely should not prevent gay couples from living together, leaving eachother in their wills, granting eachother medical power of attorney, visiting as family in hosipitals; those should all be individual choices beyond the scope of government control regardless of who is chosen. At the same time, churches who do not recognize gay marriage should not have to perform the ceremony or allow one to take place in their building, employers who do not recognize gay marriage should not have to include the spouse on insurance plans or other benefits and employers who do recognize gay marriage shouldn’t have wait for the government to provide those benefits. If the government is not involved in the issue it will not give everyone what they want but it will provide everyone the choice of acting according to their own conscience.
  • (March 21, 2009) I believe the second ammendment is clear in the right to bear arms as individual citizens. There is little more I can say about the issue because I can not see where the debate is. As to regulations on selling and buying weapons, it does not bother me that there is a holding period, ID verification, and check in a federal registry to prevent the sell of weapons to felons or people with certain mental conditions.
  • (November 27, 2009) It is not the place of government to redistribute wealth within or outside of its borders. Private organizations and charities can help and hold to account, by the withdrawal of funds, foreign persons more efficiently and effectively than government. Especially if they have more of their own money not coercively taken (stolen) from them.
    The idea of the “Millenium Fund” of President Bush and of certain policies in regard to Foreign Aid under Reagan would be acceptable if pursued more strictly and across the board. A country should not just give away money to failing nations. They should tie that aid to reforms or to actions that are in the giving country’s interests. Otherwise nothing changes and the root problems that caused a country to need the aid remain. This does not necessarily apply to emergency aid due to natural disasters like the Tsunami in Indonesia and South Asia or even aid to the victims of genocide or oppression by their governments, but to the “lending” or providing of treasure and aid directly to governments.
  • (November 27, 2009) Adding more bureaucracy and centralizing power at a higher level will not lead to more cooperation or peace. More freedom is gained by empowering the lowest level, the individual, and allowing for free competition of ideas. I would also drop the last sentence of my previous stance because it seems to imply that States have some sort of inherent right to a monopoly of power over a geographic area.(March 21, 2009) The League of Nations and the UN are both failures in much of their goals. This is because most of the participating recognize and act in their own self interests and try to use the body to advance their own agendas. I do not blame them for this because it is the natural and right thing to do. However, we should not kid ourselves that the UN is some higher body trying to do the greater good. The UN is also very ineffectual due to the VERY different and often opposing agendas of the permanent council. It was George Washington who warned against permanent alliances. The US should make foreign policy based on what is in its interests and let those join who agree and consider the consequences of going against those who disagree and then take action with the US government being the one who decides not an international body unelected by the American people. The UN can be a place where ideas are discussed among countries but should have no binding power over sovereign nations.
  • (March 21, 2009) I am too young to have lived through the Civil Rights Era so I will not speak as to whether Affirmative Action was a justified policy at one time or not. However, I do believe that it has outlived any usefulness or justification it might have had. People should be given jobs based on merit, experience, and need not the color of their skin. Not hiring someone because they are white is just as racist as not hiring them because they are a minority. Issues like this do not cause greater acceptance between races but cause greater division and resentment.
  • (November 27, 2009) I have come down more confidently on the side that patents are not necessary and that copyrights should have a very short life if they are necessary at all. I have conducted research and become convinced of this, but I am not knowledgeable enough to really explain the position, yet.
    Recently I have began to look into the idea of IP. Where only a few months ago I would have defended IP as being nearly as sacred as property rights themselves. However, with recent research it would appear that copyright and patents have done considerably more harm than good. This may be simply due to the fact that they are abused and last for much too long a time. Further research is necessary but it would appear that history supports the argument that innovation still thrives with out IP and that in fact copyrights and patents, through the monopolies they create, are what stifle innovation.
  • (November 27, 2009) Eminent Domain for any purpose negates the concept of private property and begins the unravel of fundamental rights and the liberty of individuals. I am now taking a stronger position against any type of eminent domain land seizures.(March 21, 2009) Property rights are one of the foundational cornerstones of a free society. The taking of land from one private citizen and giving it to another private citizen is fundamentally wrong and should never be allowed. Actions of that nature should be met with great outrage from citizens because they could be next. I am not sure if I would make exception for eminent domain for the purpose of building roads and other government infrastructure but that would definitely be more tolerable than current uses of eminent domain laws.
  • (March 21, 2009) Like most issues that involve “personal choice” I do not care if someone uses drugs as long as I am not expected to pay, through taxes, their medical bills from either long term damage or emergency room visits, their food, their rent or their unemployment. It is only when people’s poor choices become a burden on that I find it acceptable to regulate such behavior. However, employers, to include the government, should be allowed to maintain their own standards on drug use and hire and fire based off those standards. The Drug war is a huge waste of money and time from what I can tell.
  • (March 21, 2009) The theoretical union that is usually presented in arguments, that protects workers from unsafe and inhumane working conditions and helps the every day Joe stand up to an abusive employer does not bother me. In fact, if unions were simply the voluntary organizing of workers to negotiate with an employer, based on what they both offer each other, and nothing else I probably would not have a problem with them. However, unions do not focus on negotiating with employers but instead lobby congress and the government to force employers to meet their demands. This is wrong. An employer should be able to hire or fire anyone he wants for any reason…its his money and his business. If an employer is acting unfairly or oppressively it is up to the employees to take a stand on behalf of their coworkers or their own rights and if they offer value to the employer then the employer will have to negotiate or suffer the consequences, or they can be held to account by the consumers of their product or services who do not want to support such practices, which can be used by competitors to draw the market away from bad actors due to a poor public image. The government’s role should be limited to enforcing legal contracts and that is it. If unions would stick to this more fundamental role they actually have a positive effect. Also, there does not need to be an ever present union collecting dues from employees whose survival depends on constantly convincing their members they should not be satisfied with their current status. Unions live in a paradox that if they are successful in implementing good work conditions they are no longer needed and must therefore act against their self interest to fulfill their promises and only a naive person could believe they act against their self interest.
  • (November 27, 2009) I have not put much more thought into this topic; however, the crime and punishment “proportionality principle” could probably apply here as well. So long as the techniques do not exceed the maximum limit set by the principle and the victims accept that punishment then it is not much different than capital punishment in that regard. However, the debate here is using to gain information, as opposed to punishment. In that regard my position is unchanged due to the fact that I have not further considered it.(March 21, 2009) I do not believe we should torture people. However, in the recent debates on torture that term has been applied very loosely. The literature put out by human rights groups claiming that the US is using torture, for example, classify the following into that category: standing for long periods of time; playing loud music; having dogs present at interrogations; females shaving the beards of muslim men; and water-boarding. If these things are going to be classified as torture then I have to rethink my position. I do not find discomfort or cultural insensitivity to be torture. As for water-boarding, if out interrogators can go through it for their training then a few, three reported instances of its use, terrorists with vital information that can save American lives can be exposed to it as well. There has been no reported permanent physical damage from the practice and like the Death Penalty, even if I could find philosophical objections to the rare use of water-boarding it would not bother my conscience that it happened to men like Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
  • (March 21, 2009) I have not firmly decided where I think life begins and could not say for sure if I find the use of embryonic stem cells morally wrong. I do think it is wrong to use stem cells from aborted fetuses or any embryos that were not specifically created in a lab for this purpose. It would also be better to use alternatives such as umbilical stem cells and adult stem cells if possible to avoid the possible ethical challenges. As far as government funding goes, the amount is most likely small compared to the overall budget of the research and if people truly believe in the potential of stemcells there should be plenty of people willing to support its research so that federal funding is not necessary.
  • (March 21, 2009) I support a 100% banking system as opposed to a fractional reserve banking system. There are also great arguments to return to a commodity money as opposed to fiat money. I agree with these arguments in principle but have not yet become convinced of a method of this return that would not have grave short term consequences. Theoretically, the benefits of commodity money could be mostly realized with fiat money if the government was prohibited from artificially growing money by use of the printing press and were only allowed to print money to replace DESTROYED old currency. Another benefit of commodity money is that it was an international standard and so minimized the effects of currency trading and sabotage on nations’ currencies. If an international fiat money was adopted that could not be printed for any reason other than replacing retired currency then I think many of the benefits of commodity money would be realized. At the same time, I do not expect that government, especially international institutions, can live up to the standards or be trusted not to manipulate currency that is under their control.
  • (March 21, 2009) After a long journey looking for what I truly believe, I have found the ideas of Deism. I would consider myself a positive deist and have no reason to disparage the faiths of others if it is providing them happiness, strength and a solid moral ground that does not lead to them harming those around them. I hope to write more in the future on my personal understanding of Deism and the path that led me to it.
  • (March 21, 2009) There is no argument that living things adapt to their environments and that mathematically speaking those that adapt the best are most likely to survive and pass those traits along. However, from the research I’ve done, which admittedly is not extensive but probably more than average, I have not been convinced of Darwinism or Macro-evolution. There appears to be some flawed logic and ample opportunity for logical fallacies and philosophical agendas to drive the conclusions of Darwinism. Currently, I do not believe that life was created by chance in the form of RNA, protein, single celled organism or some even simpler variant of life yet to be discovered that evolved into all the life that exists today. The more we study the more we see that even the most simple organisms are more complex then we could have imagined which makes macro-evolution even more unlikely. I do not have a religious agenda against evolution, if it were proved it would have no effect on beliefs. I just do not find the arguments for it compelling.
  • (March 21, 2009) Individualism, free-will and human reason are probably the cornerstones of my entire philosophy. Free-will is a topic that I waste little time debating, the arguments are usually circular, but accept as inherently true. I am very aware of the limitations of human reason but do not accept the skeptic’s view that we should accept nothing as true because of these limitations. The limitations should be recognized but we should act on what our reason tells us. Individualism and social evolution are what provide the safeguard and advance human reason as poor or incorrect reasoning will be weeded out as more successful reasoning becomes more prevalent. The idea is similar to that of biological evolution that as people adapt the ones who are most successful are most likely to be the ones whose ideas are accepted or spread. The probability of discovering the best ideas is exponentially greater when individuals are free to pursue their own reasoning as opposed to a collective society where new ideas stifled because by their very nature they are not accepted by the majority or only the ideas of one person or organization are tried and so the likelihood of finding the best idea is greatly reduced as only one idea out of infinite ideas are being tried.
  • Nov 27, 2009

    Corporate Welfare and Corporatism

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    Corporations are firms or companies (private, publicly traded, for profit, and/or non-profit) that agree to be regulated by certain rules, corporate law, that regulates the relationships and interactions of corporate management, shareholders/owners, employees, creditors and the government. Companies agree to these rules because they provided limited liabilities to all actual persons who are a part of the corporation by creating an artificial “person hood” status for the corporation and limiting the liabilities to that entity. The government also uses its state power to protect, from competition through tariffs and regulation, and subsidize these entities. In return, the government is able to manipulate the economy through few points, they can regulate the significantly fewer large corporations easier than they could coordinate and regulate different stores on every corner, and they will be working with voluntary and cooperative participants who want the continued benefits of state power. Understanding “corporate welfare” is a bit more complex since no one wants to claim to support such measures but nearly all political parties and platforms do in some form or another. In fact, the entire concept of the “corporation” is a form of corporate welfare, or redistributing wealth or interfering in the market on behalf of companies or firms. Support for corporate welfare is never described as such but almost the entire political class does support it in its more overt forms or it’s more subtle indirect forms. Libertarians, on the other hand, oppose all forms of corporate welfare when they are not being negligent or inconsistent with their principles.

    The left supports several types of corporate welfare. The recent “Kelo” case involving eminent domain gave private lands to corporate interests and was decided by liberal judges. Also, many of the regulations that are supposedly done to restrict corporate actions are supported by the corporations themselves because it makes it more difficult for new competitors to enter the market. Roderick T. Long in an essay written for the Cato Institute, “Corporations versus the Market” wrote that , “the ability of colossal firms to exploit economies of scale is also limited in a free market…unless the state enables them to socialize these costs by immunizing them from competition- e.g., by imposing fees, licensure requirements, capitalisation requirements, and other regulatory burdens that disproportionately impact newer, poorer entrants as opposed to richer, more established firms.” (1)

    The right also supports several types of corporate welfare, but they may be more dangerous since they shroud their policies in the cloak of the free market. For example, they advocate tax breaks for certain businesses or industries but “when a firm is exempted from taxes to which its competitors are subject, it becomes the beneficiary of state coercion directed against others, and to that extent owes its success to government intervention rather than market forces.” (1) The right’s use of privatization is often of a similar nature. In free market terminology privatization would be the removal of government and its influence from an industry but the right often uses it to mean a transfer of monopoly status over an industry to some contracted firm or corporation. Thus the monopoly status is maintained and the governments involvement and influence is still present.

    The right and left both justify the more overt types of corporate welfare that they end up supporting, such as TARP and the bailouts of the auto and financial industry, as necessary evils. However, necessary evil is a contradiction as if something is necessary than it must be good and not evil. Here we can apply one of Ayn Rand’s famous quotes “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” In this case, either the bailouts were necessary and good, having a positive effect, while the principle that labeled them evil must be ill founded or the principle that makes such bailouts evil is correct and they were not in fact necessary. The contradiction should force us to check the two premises “necessary” and “evil” and see which one is wrong.

    Libertarians, and the position I support, holds that all corporate welfare is wrong. The current “conflation” of corporatism and capitalism is especially dangerous since it rallies and multiplies the opponents of free markets who somehow see them tied to pro-corporate policies and also allows statist policies to be sold under the mantle of the free market. The current failures of “capitalism” and the “free market” are really only failures of the current system which is often labeled capitalism but is only one step away from socialism. In socialism, the state owns industry but in our current system, often labeled capitalism, the State offers privatized profits and socialized costs in exchange for regulation and willing “subjects” to form an alliance between government and industry; this corporatism should not be confused with real capitalism or free markets.

    1. http://www.cato-unbound.org/2008/11/10/roderick-long/corporations-versus-the-market-or-whip-conflation-now/

    Another good article I read while doing my research, but did not have room to include in my post was:
    http://97.74.65.51/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=22594
    An article in FrontPageMag.com

    Nov 27, 2009

    The Danger of Pure A Priori: Philosophy Without Experience

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    UPDATED AGAIN: The response from the involved party is that I have misrepresented or failed to understand how they were using A Priori. The use of the term is very diverse and so this is very possible. I tried to base my discussion based on the examples and illustrations provided. The essay still applies to the idea that an ethical or value based system can be derived entirely internally by the individual sans experience. I have recently studied the way Murray Rothbard, Roderick T. Long, and to a lesser degree Ludwig von Mises use the term. Without these more detailed explanations I initially found their refusal to test their theories or apply them empirically problematic, but after understanding what they really meant I can now more strongly support praxeology. I may explore that more in a future post.

    UPDATE: Made some semantic changes to essay. Changed Pure A Priori to Pure A Priori thought process. Also, gave new definition of a priori in terms section. Real content of essay unchanged but wanted to prevent semantics from being a diversion.

    The following essay is in response to recent conversations that I have had. I have kept in fairly general so it can be understood outside of the context of those conversations. However, I plan to follow up with a short essay more specifically addressing some of the topics of the conversation with context provided. I will also post any responses from the opposing parties on this topic. The available formats for viewing the essay are after the break.

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    Filed under Philosophy
    Nov 27, 2009

    Globalization and “Unrestricted Warfare”

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    After the break is the introduction I wrote for this essay earlier this year.  Since then I have substantially changed my position on war and foreign policy.  However, with such a large change there are still many gaps I need to fill in and much I need to learn before I can put together a coherent essay on the matter.  I maintained the original introduction to record the evolution of my thought which is one of the goals of this blog.  I hope to update my political survey soon with recent changes in certain positions and expand on my new ideas of war and foreign policy in a future essay.  In the mean time, you can see how I thought not too long ago and take away many insights that I still find to be relevant even if my position has changed.

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    Nov 26, 2009

    Political Survey March-21-2009

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    The Most up to date Political Survey can always be found at <http://damienmanier.com/political-survey/>

    In order for this site to be an accurate metric of how my views may change over time as I continue researching and studying ideas, I have created a political survey on myself. I have tried to include most major issues and provided my views in short answer form. I intend to provide full essay attention to each of these topics over time, but readers should be able to see where I am coming from. Requests for issues to be added to the survey can be sent to me using the Contact button on the menu bar, as well as requests for which issues to focus on first when I am writing essays for the blog. Whenever I change, nuance, or feel the need to add clarification to the short answers in the survey I will post the updates to the blog as well as link back to the original. After the break is the survey I completed on March 21, 2009.  I recently migrated my blog to wordpress and that is why there is a date discrepancy.

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    Nov 26, 2009

    The Flaws of Marxism

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    Marx’s communism appears quite logical if his assumptions are correct. However, many of his basic assumptions are in doubt and by his own standards of praxis determining the validity of philosophy communism has failed the test of historical application. This at best proves that the world or mankind is not in the right state for communist revolution or at worst proves his assessments of capitalism and the belief that there is “no such thing as a ‘human nature’” are wrong. (Text, 348)

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    Filed under Economics, Philosophy
    Nov 26, 2009

    Implementing School Vouchers

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    The following is an essay I wrote advocating school vouchers. School Choice and vouchers were one of the first issues I took interest in when I began becoming involved in politics and this is one of my first serious essays. Iwill include the first two paragraphs here and links to both an html version and Word Document version of the full essay.

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    Filed under Education, Politics
    Nov 26, 2009