U.S. government pays Iran another billion

Iranian flagWhat would you say if you found out that your own government is writing checks worth hundreds of millions of dollars to our sworn enemy lead by a dictator that U.S. politicians argue is one of the biggest dangers to freedom and liberty across the world?  There is no way the U.S. would do that, right?

Sadly, that is exactly what is happening.  According to a report by the FreeBeacon, the United States has forked over another $450m to Iran on April 15th, the day that millions of working Americans dutifully submit to their annual financial beat-down after wading through an impossibly large collection of insanely complex tax law (otherwise known as “Tax Day”).

Under the so-called “nuclear deal” with Iran, the United States has paid more than $2.5 billion ($2,500,000,000) to Iran in exchange for Iran cutting back their nuclear weapons program.  Unfortunately, $2.5b does not account for half of what the United States is prepared to fork over to Iran.

While the White House maintains that Iran will receive about $7 billion in economic relief under the interim accord, outside experts calculate that with oil revenues and other business deals Iran could pocket at least $20 billion over the next several months,” the FreeBeacon report said.

The U.S. government’s insistence that American tax dollars be wasted by funding the nation that we consider our enemy, in exchange for promises by a known dictator and U.S.-labeled terrorist, is the height of recklessness, immoral to the core, and a slap in the face to honest, hard-working and tax paying Americans.

Apparently, there is good money to be made in terrorism.

 

After knife attack, the gun debate miraculously continues

By now, most are aware of the stabbing that took place in a Pennsylvania school that sent 20 people to the hospital.  Wasting no time, anti-gun activists took the rest of the day off of work and quickly hopped onto web sites to express their joy that the 16-year old perpetrator of this crime didn’t have a gun.  After all – they argue – a gun would have turned 20 injuries into 20 or 30 deaths.

Putting the mindless insanity of relying on clumsy assumptions aside, what most people are missing in this discussion is a far more important question.  The weapon used in the attack is not the issue.  The issue is that of prevention.  How do we, as a society, prevent people from unleashing violence and havoc amongst a group of completely helpless people?

First, the issue of gun-free zones reemerges once again.  Of course, nobody in that school – for the exception of a school police officer – was allowed to carry a knife or gun, so the knife-wielding child has free reign over other helpless students until the officer arrived on the scene and took the 16-year old down.  Sadly, this school was lucky to have an armed police officer in the school.  Most schools are not as fortunate.

Second, what if this school – and all schools – had well-trained administrators who carry firearms inside the school?  20 people were knifed, some with life-threatening injuries.  How many fewer victims would there be if this school had trained marksmen working in the school?

People seem relieved that a gun was not used, completely ignoring the larger question of what makes schools safe.  Do written policies prevent knives and guns from being brought into school zones?  No.  Do signs posted outside of schools (and office buildings) prevent mass tragedies?  Again, of course not.

Do jewelry stores get robbed when armed guards are stationed by the door?  Not too often, and there is a reason for that.  Jewelry stores take visible precautions against the would-be criminal.

Schools and businesses tape signs up on windows and create written policies.

Which method do you trust more?

 

Sophisticated drug tunnels found in desert

Drug Tunnel found in 2012Reuters is reporting that the San Diego Tunnel Task Force has found two different sophisticated drug smuggling tunnels in the desert between Mexico and a warehouse facility in San Diego, complete with ventilation systems and railways.

Enabled by our War on Drugs, well-designed tunnel systems that travel underneath the U.S./Mexican border enable the transport of large quantities of drugs between countries.  Tunnels usually connect with innocuous-looking buildings to avoid unwanted suspicion.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said of the incident that “going underground is not a good business plan”.  In actuality, going underground is the only business plan to avoid the expensive and ineffective drug enforcement laws instituted within the United States.

The report said that in the past eight years, the feds have uncovered at least 80 different cross-border smuggling tunnels – California and Arizona serving as the more popular entrance points into the country.  This, of course, only scratches the surface of the true physical network of drug-enabling systems into the U.S.

For every tunnel found, dozens more exist.  How much money does it cost to plan and execute surveillance programs that seek to uncover drug tunnels?  When virtually any middle-school aged student can get their hands on drugs, we must ask ourselves: is it worth it?

Is it worth it?

AZ bill did not give businesses a license to discriminate

Arizona Gay RightsAlthough Arizona Governor Jan Brewer eventually vetoed the hotly-contested bill that would have given businesses the right to use “religious freedom” in a court of law, the bill was completely misrepresented as legislation that would legalize discrimination.

The media’s attempt at improving their ratings by stirring up maximum controversy worked, and worked well.  The legislation was widely referred to as the “anti-gay” bill, described as a piece of legislation that would essentially give businesses a license to discriminate against homosexuals.

Naturally, instead of reading the actual text of the bill, emotionally-charged people jumped on-board the media bandwagon and began fighting against a bill that was entirely misunderstood – at best, and intentionally misrepresented – at worst.

This bill did not legalize discrimination.  In truth, the bill was much more simple and instituted very little actual change to discrimination lawsuits in the state.

Arizona law allows certain religious institutions to claim “religious freedom” as a legal defense in a court of law.   AZ 1062 would have expanded the use of “religious freedom” to include individuals and businesses – or any legal entity recognized by the state of Arizona.  This bill would have equalized legal religious protections.

Removing the emotional element from the debate, this bill was in no way “anti-gay”.  If Governor Brewer signed the bill into law, businesses could still get sued.  The new law would allow them to legally use the  “religious freedom” defense, but the decision remains in the hands of the jury.  Guilty verdicts remain very possible.

Like our tax system, loopholes exist today in current discrimination law that already allow any business to discriminate against any person, for any reason.  However, regardless of established law, discrimination lawsuits are expensive and rare.  No business wants to spend months fighting off discrimination lawsuits with high-priced attorneys and negative publicity.

Discrimination is bad for business.

This was a hotly-contested, politically-polarizing, completely and utterly meaningless piece of legislation that successfully got people’s attention for, honestly, no good reason.

The law did not give businesses a license to discriminate. Businesses could still get sued. Businesses would still need to spend resources for defense attorneys in court. This law MAY have given the business a slightly better shot at winning, but the money it takes for a business to fight off discrimination lawsuits remains steep.  AZ 1062 would have removed none of that, and regardless of the legal outcome, businesses never truly “win” a discrimination lawsuit.  The free market ultimately wins that decision.

Law or no law, no business wants to get sued, period.

Colorado, Utah consider smoking age hike

Cigarette and TobaccoAccording to the Associated Press, the big government western states of Colorado and Utah – both among the nation’s lowest in smoking rates – are considering legislation that would hike the legal smoking age up to 21.

In the absence of evidence, proponents of the age hike argue that a smoker’s initial addiction to tobacco typically happens as teenagers, and thus, raising the smoking age to 21 would put another three years of distance between them and an addiction to tobacco.

Embracing the idea that government knows best, Colorado Republican Cheri Gerou believes that the new law would make it tougher for teenagers to get their hands on cigarettes – ignoring completely the ability for these same teenagers to obtain drugs, already illegal for most of the population outside of medicinal purposes.

“What I’m hoping to do is make it harder for kids to obtain cigarettes,” she said.

The numbers, however, fail to provide any evidence to support this assumption.  The CDC’s own numbers clearly indicate that tobacco use is already quite high among our nation’s youth.  Nearly 30% of high school students use tobacco products.  Close to 20% smoke cigarettes.  Worse, 9 out of 10 smokers began smoking before the age of 21.

Why, then, would increasing the smoking age to 21 prevent tobacco use when virtually every middle-school aged child in America already has access to tobacco?  It is not the government’s job to ignore facts and install bigger and more intrusive government.

The law has several more votes to go, but both Colorado and Utah are farther down the road than any other state in an attempt to further restrict the natural freedoms of its people to use tobacco.

Female? Give libertarian a try.

Author’s note: I am a man and make no claims I fully understand women’s issues or what it is like to be a woman in America. However, I do understand liberty, equal rights, and the concept of gender egalitarianism through private action.

Abortion. Birth control. Equal pay. Prostitution. Sexual violence. Today, these are common issues discussed when it comes to the popular phrase of “women’s issues” in the United States. It is commonly assumed that ‘the left’ wants to make women equal and ‘the right’ wants to keep women where they are at – at best.  This has led to an explosion of Democrat Party popularity among many females since before I was born. While some women still vote Republican – they either do it out of religious reasons, the belief that fiscal freedom is more important than social freedom, or a myriad of other reasons, I want to speak to the women who feel their social freedom is very important to them.

Democrat politicians will tell women that voting Democrat is in their best interest. But, is it really? Let’s examine several issues and consider the evidence more closely to prove that voting for more government is truly the best way to promote women’s equality in our society.

Abortion. It is a libertarian ideal that all women have the right to choose – whenever, however, regardless. Why?  Democrats claim “it’s safe”, but a libertarian believes that it is your own body, and who is the government – or anyone else – to tell you what you should do with it? A libertarian’s primary concern is freedom – your freedom, my freedom and everybody’s freedom.  Your body is your own, end of story. A democrat will impose rules upon your abortions, even if they are relaxed rules – but a libertarian will not. If you value your right to choose – you should consider the libertarian philosophy.

Birth control. On this, libertarians win the freedom battle, hands down. Why? Both libertarians and democrats support birth control (including Plan B), but libertarians take it a step further.  Libertarians would like to remove restrictions on oral contraceptive (the pill).  This would save millions of dollars for millions of women and make it more affordable than ever before. Again, it is your body, why do you have to see a doctor for refilling a prescription again and again? Especially when the statistics for the safety of “the pill” are indisputable.

Equality in the work place. This one is a bit more difficult to address and doing so in a paragraph, when volumes of research exist on the subject (some conflicting), seems absurd. That being said, I believe women are becoming acutely intrinsic to our nation’s future as a superpower as more and more businesses embrace technology and highly-skilled positions within an organization. The problem: the complexities that exist with employment and discrimination law encourage businesses to “hedge their bets” before interviewing women for high skill positions. I firmly believe laws that give special standing to individuals in the work place only lead to furthered inequality. The ‘pay gap’ exists due to legitimate reasons beyond just bigotry: chosen profession, more women in lower paying jobs, fewer women with engineering degrees, fewer hours worked, taking time off for children, and the like. Time has a great article on it: http://ideas.time.com/2013/03/07/the-pay-gap-is-not-as-bad-as-you-and-sheryl-sandberg-think/

Truthfully, preferential treatment of any kind is wrong and leads to women’s economic disenfranchisement. It was wrong with women, it was wrong with blacks – it is always wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.  If we truly wish to embrace the concept of women’s equality in the work place – we need to start treating them as they are equals, not a special protected class.

Libertarian philosophy demands just that: no employment coercion of any kind. When you make it to a prestigious university or get that dream job, no one can tell you it’s due to ‘the system’ giving it to you. You earned it, regardless of the challenges present, and that is how we must begin treating women: as a person worthy of respect and an individual who does not need a patronizing parent to ‘protect’ and treat women as a protected class? Do away with the patriarchal society telling you what you should and should not do: be your own person and let’s start treating each other with respect – that’s the beauty of liberty.

Prostitution.  Prostitution in most places is illegal, and therefore, operated by criminals, pimps, and fueled by human trafficking that entraps women into a life of slavery outside our lawful society. These dark holes that trap these women are dangerous lifestyle – but we can change that. Legalize prostitution. If it is no longer a crime to be a prostitute, it will make pimps and human traffickers obsolete over-night. Now, sex can be bought and sold on an open market with government regulation of the industry. When a prostitute is raped, she can now go to the police without fear of being charged with a crime. If you believe your body is your right and no one else’s, advocate for the legalization of prostitution even if it is something you personally oppose.  Free women (and men, as well) can do with their bodies as they please – is a basic right and one that isn’t supported by the Republican or Democrat platforms: if you want the right to your body, libertarian is the way to go.

Sexual violence. This one is the worst of all the topics I’m going to address. Rape. It is an ugly, terrible word that denotes a violent and evil crime perpetrated by criminals against people. More often than not, it targets women and women represent the majority of victims making. If you are a woman, understand the police cannot stop rape from happening, nor will any amount of ‘sexual violence walks’ or ad campaigning.

Rape is not committed by misguided male lovers. Rape is a crime of violence and dehumanization, treating the other person as an object, against their will, to satisfy personal lust, or worse, the need to hurt and humiliate someone deeply. Regardless of emotion or intent, the crime is still violent. There is no ‘gentle rape’ or ‘kinda rape’. Rape is rape and these violent criminals must be stopped and persecuted. Women must stop being treated like children after the incident and empowered to seek justice against their assailants. But even more so: we need to empower women to protect themselves.

I’ve heard that women should not fight rape – instead, “go along with the rape”or they will “make it worse”. No. No. NO NO NO! This is absurd and only serves to promote rape culture – fight to the last breath and do everything in your power to resist every step of the way.  Guns give women an advantage against their male assailants.  Unfortunately, many states enforcing strict gun control laws and waiting periods before the lawful purchase of a gun – as if a man who intends on raping his girlfriend will wait until his victim possesses a gun to protect herself.

Want to curb violence against women?  Let’s level the playing field.  Support the right of all women to carry hand guns, tasers, mace, and switch blades.  Did you know that 2/3 of all rapes occur by someone the victim knows? A flick of the wrist from the switch blade in a pocket can make an unwanted assault short-lived, indeed.  If sexual violence against women concerns you, libertarian freedom is the solution.

Vote libertarian for women’s rights; for everyone’s rights.

Increasing minimum wage helps the poor, right?

It is a perfectly natural assumption – increasing minimum wage will help the poor.  Force businesses to pay their lower-skilled laborers more money and those workers will spend more, thereby helping the economy.  Right?  Well, not exactly.  While the self-proclaimed “compassionate” love to feel righteous (while standing on the shoulders of others), one needs to consider the implications of their actions.  Raising the minimum wage may give “the compassionate” a warm and fuzzy feeling, but the truth is government-meddling hurts those people that politicians proclaim to help.

If you take a look at the current situation, we already have an unemployment rate of 6.6% – if you look only at BLS numbers.  In reality, the rate etches a couple percentage points higher if you calculate based on a more realistic view of the labor market.  Roughly, over 10% of our population is collecting government-issued unemployment checks, and our response is to add more economic restraint to hiring these people?

The left leaning Economic Policy Institute claims raising the minimum wage would “lift about 5 million Americans out of poverty and that the US economy would grow by $22 billion thus creating 85,000 new jobs.” This claim was backed by one Huffington Post author, who wrote “the people on minimum wage cannot save their money therefore they would have to spend it and put it back into the economy which in turn would create new jobs.”

How simple life must be for this author.

Putting the arrant fallacy of the “inability to save” aside, basic logic dictates that for every government action, there is a requisite commercial reaction.  When the price of labor increases for a business, the business reacts by passing on that cost to the consumer.  Very few business executives willingly take a hit to their own pocket books because of the decisions of Washington D.C.

Profit to a business is like gasoline to a car.  Without profits, a business fails (along with their entire staff).  Everything is done for profit, and we need to not only understand this, but accept it.  And thus, it would seem to reason that if the government increases the labor cost to a business, the business will recuperate those costs with higher prices for their goods and services – or worse, cutting benefits or hours.

Understand that businesses will ultimately shove the costs associated with government mandates onto the consumer. In affect, this is a hidden tax included with “do good” politicians. Politicians will gladly play the role of savior in order to get a vote and remain in their cushy D.C. offices while making everyone feel like a victim.

The person who actually gets hurt by this activity is the guy at the bottom of the ladder who, at the whim of a politician, now has the next rung of the ladder raised up on him. Naturally, the reaction of many who are at the bottom will vote for bigger government and more benefits without looking at the implications or how these policies effect them. When people are made to believe they are a victim, they assume that they deserve more.  In truth, if everyone would take more responsibility for their actions (which I am starting to understand that no one does anymore), everyone would be a lot happier and a little more satisfied with the choices they have made.

Look at who is lobbying for minimum wage: Politicians and Labor unions. Politicians back it because it secures votes from unskilled laborers.  Labor unions back it simply because it reduces the competition in the labor market. For example, if we look at the Davis-Bacon Act, this was a law put in place because non-union blacks from Alabama were traveling to Long Island, New York and outbidding the union workers for jobs. With pressure from the local community, Representative Robert L. Bacon (R-N.Y.) pleaded to Congress to adopt a requirement for paying the local prevailing wages on public works projects for laborers and mechanics. It applies to “contractors and subcontractors performing on federally funded or assisted contracts in excess of $2,000 for the construction, alteration, or repair (including painting and decorating) of public buildings or public works”.  In other words, a way to eliminate the union’s competition.

Further, the minimum wage increases the barrier to entry for low skilled, inexperienced workers. For instance, take a young man still in high school. His parents encourage him to get a job to learn some responsibility. He applies at his local McDonalds but the minimum wage is set at $15 an hour. The manager knows the young man has no experience and has a lot of learning to do.  What benefit to the business does hiring an inexperienced worker at $15/hour provide?  Worse, regulations prevent the McDonalds store manager from negotiating a wage lower than the minimum – even if both parties agree to it.  Milton Friedman explained it very clearly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca8Z__o52sk

It takes a cold day in June before I agree with virtually anyone in Congress, but I did hear something sensible come out of Congressman Paul Ryan’s mouth during an interview with MSNBC: “Raising the minimum wage is just bad economics.. It costs jobs for people…We want people to climb the ladder and begin at entry level jobs, not have people stay at entry level jobs.”

Another fine point: government-mandated overpayment for low-skilled labor workers disincentivizes self-improvement.  If Johnny Smith makes $15/hour flipping burgers, why strive to become the next store manager?  The stress may not be worth the extra few dollars a week.

Instead of increasing the burden on businesses, our political “leaders” should instead encourage people at the bottom to work hard and strive to improve their lives.  Money does not make people happier about their job situation – I know this from personal experience. I was making close to $40 an hour not including benefits in Chicago as a laborer.  I was not happy doing it and my wife and I decided to focus on our education.  Ultimately, we left Chicago to fulfill our dreams.