If you are a citizen of the United States, finding employment, either through yourself or another, is one of your unenumerated civil rights. It is also your natural right to earn a living so you can satisfy your basic human needs. Unfortunately, like most of our rights, even those explicitly mentioned in the constitution, local and state governments violate it with impunity. This has been recently illustrated in the case of a South Carolina florist who was arrested for selling floral arrangements without a business license - a permission slip to earn a living as your own boss. Unlike some criminal offences, this man’s actions, continuing to sell his products after his license had been revoked for unpaid taxes, were not immoral. The only harm done was to the city of Columbia’s coffers because they decided to draw their revenue from the wages and capital investments of workers and businesses instead of the rents of landlords and mortgage lenders; a just tax scheme would place the burden on the latter and leave the business owner and workers with their full earnings. While I’m not exactly sure how you sure how you create a wealthier more prosperous society, I’m pretty sure making it more difficult for people to find work or make work for themselves is not how you do it.
Friday, August 30, 2019
Monday, August 26, 2019
If you want more military style policing, warrantless surveillance, warrantless searches and seizures, and mass incarceration then the parkland kids have the perfect plan for you. Their plan includes creating a director of gun violence prevention, a federal gun registry, an
assault weapons ban (read: scary looking semi-autos with pistol grips), red flag laws, and a mandatory
buy-back (i.e. armed robbery) program. Just like all authoritarian ideologies this
peace plan is based on a number of false premises and lies. For example: mentally ill people are inherently violent (an old eugenics lie), you can infer causation from correlation data (post hoc fallacy), and apparently our constitutional rights are optional and can be discarded if they become an inconvenience to power hungry psychopaths.
The bill of rights is not a buffet where you can pick and choose which one’s you’ll uphold at your own convenience. They are all inextricably linked; you cannot compromise one without compromising the others. Gun grabbers have already demonstrated this with such awful proposals as red flag laws and no buy lists, which not only removes firearms but also the right to due process and 4th amendment property protections. We have already witnessed the erosion of our constitutional rights with the war on drugs and the war on terror. The war on drugs gave us civil asset forfeiture, which is more often than not used to rob legitimate businesses of their hard earned money, Anti-Structuring Statutes, which allows LEOs to wipe out your bank account for making multiple deposits under an arbitrary amount, stop and frisk, an unconstitutional policy even gun control leftists protested, has allowed police to force college students to become informants and has led to the gutting almost all of our 4th amendment protections against searches and seizures without probable cause or a warrant. The war on terror has resulted in warrantless and suspicionless surveillance through the prism program, National Security letters, infiltration of minority communities, and cell site simulators. The war on terror has allowed the Feds to add Americans to a no fly list or FBI terrorist watch list and deprive them of certain liberties without their knowledge or ability to challenge their decision. Arming local police departments and sheriff’s offices with military grade weaponry such as .50 BMGs, mine resistant MRAPS, and tanks, things you would only need in an actual war zone, has been another perhaps intended effect of the war on terror.The war on terror has been the single most overused excuse for expanding the scope of executive power to allow the president to commit atrocities that we could only imagine a tin pot dictator doing such as extrajudicial execution and indefinite detention of American citizens. It is beyond naive to think a war on “gun violence” would not produce similar results. Of course, gun grabbers are really only concerned about private violence. State violence both as it currently exists and as a means to disarm American citizens is perfectly acceptable to them. If their plan came to fruition, you wouldn’t hear a peep from them about the people killed and maimed in no knock raids to seize weapons, as they currently do with drug raids, or the number of additional lives ruined in our injustice system for the heinous crime of possessing a firearm without the government’s permission. They don’t care that their plan would create a national police state where federal law enforcement agencies, like the FBI and ATF, have absolute power. Jack bootlickers like David Hogg wouldn’t care about these unintended consequences as long as it doesn’t personally inconvenience them.
The Real Solution to Gun Violence
As I’ve already pointed out in a previous post, mass shootings and other forms of violent crimes are positively correlated with higher levels of economic deprivation, income inequality and low social mobility. This is a better starting point for dealing with something as nebulous as gun violence than trying to make causal inferences from isolated case studies that use correlational data. While the level of income inequality, and the mass shootings it predicts, cannot be directly reduced we can take small steps in this direction by relieving local and state tax burdens on lower income people, providing more affordable housing options, access to cheaper credit, higher education, and more lucrative job opportunities. Reforms in taxation, city planning, higher education, and occupational licensing, would also be needed to encourage greater social mobility and narrow the distance between social classes.
Friday, August 23, 2019
On Wednesday Trump signed an executive order directing the department of education to forgive $750 million in federal student loan debt for 25,000 disabled veterans. While this is only a drop in the bucket compared to the almost $1.5 trillion in total outstanding federal student loan debt it demonstrates a remarkable point about the tenuous nature of both federal student loans and our entire monetary system as a whole. Despite evidence to the contrary, most Americans still think of our money, federal reserve notes, as some tangible commodity that must be extracted from the private sector and not, as the very term ‘fiat’ currency implies, a credit created by a monopoly on legal tender that only holds value via force of law i.e. mandatory taxation. Without an antiquated sound money view of the dollar, they would easily see that federal student loans and the inevitable debt crisis it created are both policy choices. The program itself drove up the cost of tuition by allowing universities to charge more than what most students would have otherwise been able to afford on their own. Just as cheap money from the federal reserve inflates stock and bond values, cheap money from the federal government to universities inflated college tuition costs. The resulting $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, 90% of which is federal student loan debt, serves no other purpose than being a drag on the economy. Forcing all other borrowers, who aren’t disabled veterans, to pay back their federal student loans does not create any additional wealth or add any value to the economy; the industry itself is rent-seeking and parasitic in nature. Instead of building actual equity by taking out home mortgages, borrowers have to delay home ownership until they pay off loans that do nothing except contribute to the tuition bubble the federal government created in the first place. They money loaned to them was not extracted from taxpayers, as many falsely believe, and they are not paying back taxpayers. The federal government, and its agents like Sallie Mae, simply credited student borrowers, and debited their accounts later at a set rate of interest. All student loan debt could be cancelled without raising taxes because taxes do not fund federal spending in the first place, they drive aggregate demand for federal reserve notes and curb inflation by taking these very bank notes out of circulation. The effect of canceling all outstanding federal student loan debt would be to redistribute money from the public sector to the private sector, by allowing borrowers to spend more on consumer goods and home mortgages rather than give more to Uncle Sam. Ignorance of fiat currencies and modern monetary theory is the only thing holding this country back.
Thursday, August 15, 2019
Hey white people who are angry about immigration... just a heads up: there are not enough white folks to keep the economy afloat and support your social security into old age. So you better welcome immigrants who do work you won’t...or else prepare to eat cat food— Tim Wise (@timjacobwise) August 13, 2019
Mass immigration, a staple of modern left wing politics, is not necessary for future growth or funding of social security benefits. Case in point: Japan, despite shrinking in population by 3.5 million people over the past decade, is still experiencing economic growth albeit at a very low 1.2% rate. Of course, everyone understands that increasing the labor force isn't the only way to raise labor productivity; things like automation and artificial intelligence can do this just as the industrialization of farming at the turn of the 20th century raised crop yields while also shrinking the agricultural labor force. At the turn of the 20th century about 40% of Americans were still employed in agriculture, today it is less than 2% (and could be even less without the farm bill). The same is true of manufacturing, which at it's peak employed more than 1/3 of the American labor force, but now employs less than 9% of the current labor force. Even though employment in both sectors declined steadily labor productivity in both sectors also grew. Much of our aging work force will not need to be replaced by younger workers because their jobs will likely by automated. Perhaps as much as 47% of current jobs, mainly low skill and blue collar but some white collar jobs as well, will be automated in some capacity in the next 25 years. Why import more people to do jobs that won't exist? More importantly why import unskilled labor from countries like Guatemala and El Salvador, people with less than a high school education, when almost all future job growth is in fields that require either a four year college degree or vocational school education?
A separate but equally false claim peddled by the pro-mass immigration left is that we need more immigrants to pay into social security to support our ageing population. This claim rests on the false presumption that social security taxes fund social security benefits. This type of thinking is a remnant of the gold standard era. Taxes do not fund spending at the federal level; they drive aggregate demand (for federal reserve notes) and curb inflation. If the federal government needed taxes to fund spending it would have already become insolvent by now; our entire national debt exceeds both net federal revenue and GDP. The national debt is the private assets of federal reserve banks and foreign countries not something our grand children will pay back in the future to god knows who. Furthermore, the current array of programs for the elderly such as SSI, medicare, and medicaid could be replaced by a basic income guarantee for senior citizens without needing to tax the wages of the working age population or fulfilling a multitude of applications and eligibility requirements.
Saturday, August 10, 2019
Several regression models of strain theory reveal a positive correlation between income inequality and mass shootings as well as an interaction effect of higher median household income and higher income inequality with higher incidents of mass shootings. Strain theory posits that communities which experience relatively high levels of economic deprivation and a lack of opportunity for social mobility create hostile environments conducive to high rates of violent crime. Several previous studies have found a significant relationship between income inequality, class salience and violent crime without specifically focusing on mass shootings, operationally defined as shootings involving four or more victims and excluding gang and drug related shootings. The particular model in this study found that a one standard deviation increase in income inequality (using the post-tax Gini Coefficient) and a 0.53 increase in household income predicted a 0.46 increase in incidents of mass shootings. Demographic controls such as population density, median population age, and proportion of minority population were also positively associated with incidents of mass shootings.
Using this assessment, we can see that the availability and ease of acquiring firearms is not the sole risk factor for mass shootings, and thus should not be the be all end all of the discussion. In order to properly address the mass shooting epidemic we really need to address widening disparities in social class, economic deprivation, and the policies that create it. Much of income inequality stems from the government's fiscal and land use policies: regressive taxes at state and local level (e.g. sales taxes, property taxes and court fines) and rents outpacing wages, making the poor poorer, due to artificial and natural scarcity in housing stock and a lack of diversity of housing options (due to exclusionary zoning). Combine these state and local policies with low interest rates, which being inverse to stock and bond prices make the rich richer, and you have a recipe for growing income inequality. Of course, remedying the causes of growing income inequality would not completely prevent mass shootings, but it would eliminate environments that foster these incidents.
Tuesday, August 6, 2019
James Brantley, owner of Grainger County slaughterhouse near Knoxville, Tennessee, was charged with tax evasion, wire fraud, and hiring illegal aliens to work in his meat packing plant, after an ICE raid on April 4, 2018 led to the arrest of 86 workers (97 in total) who had entered the country unlawfully and were employed in the plant without authorization. Brantley was given a lenient sentence of only 18 months in prison and 3 years of probation. The motive for employing illegal aliens was obvious: cheap labor. The plant owner was able to save millions in overhead costs, for the past three decades (since at least 1988) by skirt labor regulations and paying starvation wages under the table to illegal aliens. In fact, Brantely saved $1.3 million alone just by avoiding payroll taxes. This case isn’t an isolated incident either. In 2018 alone, the Homeland Security Investigations department of ICE, which is in charge of work site enforcement of immigration laws, arrested 800 employers and 1500 illegal aliens, a 640% increase from the previous year.
Document fraud, social security fraud and other forms of identity theft are not the only damage caused by illegal immigration. Undermining American workers by paying illegal aliens below minimum wage, under the table, is yet another and perhaps even greater problem. Illegal aliens are less than 5% of the workforce, but constitute 24% of agricultural workers, 15% of construction workers and 8% of factory workers. No American can comfortably live off of six dollars an hour, as the workers in this slaughterhouse were paid; there is no county in this country in which that would afford a minimal standard of living unless they were accustomed to living like peasants in crowded and sub-par housing barely suitable for human habitation like most Central American migrant workers. The survival of low skilled and blue collar labor cannot be protected without cracking down on employers who knowingly or unknowingly hire illegal aliens Making participation in E-Verify mandatory and giving longer prison sentences and steeper fines to employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens would remove much of the incentive for illegal immigration itself.