Religious freedom: a confined policy

Freedom of religion is an established right in the United States; the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees it to every person.  In the U.S., no person may be discriminated against on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.  Equal opportunity is among our most cherished tenets; it is the product of much national soul-searching, and it did not arrive without a struggle.  It has brought tranquility in a diverse nation.  In the U.S. today, it is legally irrelevant whether a person is male, female, Mormon, Jew, Christian, Muslim, White, Black or Asian.

Americans know that a human being is rightly judged on character alone, but they abandon that knowledge when they consider foreigners.  Americans have allied themselves with many governments around the world that hate American rights.  Israel, for instance, would not dream of placing the Arab and the Jew on equal footing.  Many American allies in the Islamic world treat non-Muslims as second-class citizens.  The U.S. has also supported many autocracies that discriminate against (or even exterminate) political dissidents, and it continues to reward the perpetrators of these atrocities with weapons and cash.

When we treat certain people as inferior beings based on religious differences (or condone such treatment), we give credence to the very evil we aim to suppress, and this ignorant practice has brought more wretchedness to humanity than all other evils combined.  It will continue to bring Americans trouble in the forms of anxiety, fear, terror, and war.  U.S. policy is philosophically unsound, for it is a philosophical contradiction to support religious freedom and the establishment of any religious state–Islamic, Christian, or Jewish.

All those who espouse the doctrine of religious statehood, may be included within the following descriptions: the interested, who are not to be trusted; the weak, who cannot see; the prejudiced, who will not see; and a certain set of moderates, who think better of the religious state than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this world than all the other three.

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Henry Hazlitt and I on the Auto Bailout

Hazlitt

“Dying industries absorb labor and capital that should be released for the growing industries.  It is only the much vilified price system that solves the enormously complicated problem of deciding precisely how much of tens of thousands of different commodities and services should be produced in relation to each other.  These otherwise bewildering equations are solved quasi-automatically by the system of prices, profits and costs.  They are solved by this system incomparably better than any group of bureaucrats could solve them.  For they are solved by a system under which each consumer makes his own demand and casts a fresh vote, or a dozen fresh votes, every day; whereas bureaucrats would try to solve it by having made for the consumers not what the consumers themselves wanted, but what the bureaucrats decided was good for them.  Yet, though the bureaucrats do not understand the quasi-automatic system of the market, they are always disturbed by it.  They are always trying to improve it or correct it, usually in the interests of some wailing pressure group.” – Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson, 1946

My beefs with the bailout:

  • It rewards failure (through “loans”) at the expense of success (through taxes).
  • The excuses are lame.  A few loosely-quoted examples:  “People won’t buy our cars because they think we might go bankrupt.”  More likely: they won’t pay for your inferior product.  People know that bankruptcy does not equal death, as I am sure all of your sales associates have told their customers.  Lame.  “Foreign companies are receiving good incentives to open new factories, but we have to use our old ones.”  More likely: the unions have you by the balls.  Lame.  “Foreign companies are getting assistance from their governments, which is why we need assistance from ours.”  Not sure if either of the claims made in this excuse are true, but lame nonetheless.  If other governments want to misplace investments, that’s their business.  Their economies will become weaker for it, and our overall economy will be relatively more productive than theirs, regardless of what happens to the automakers.
  • I live in Tennessee.  The auto industry in Tennessee is doing relatively well.  Why should Tennessee be punished for Michigan’s business failures?  For the taxpaying laborer at a Tennessee factory, there can be no sufficient reason.  It is stealing from the Tennessean.  It is immoral.
  • It is unconstitutional (see part 2 of Jefferson’s argument and replace “bank” with “auto loan,” then become disgusted by the monstrous parasite that is your federal government).
  • It will not save the automakers.  The beggars will be back to Congress, palms upturned, and because the government will have already invested in their success, it will be much more difficult to turn them away.
  • The government cannot “save” one industry without adversely affecting another, or–what is more likely the case–many others, through opportunity costs and/or taxation.
  • I prefer Honda, Toyota, and Nissan to GM, Ford, and Chrysler, mainly because, when the Japanese automakers take my money, they give me a car for it–not a promise to try to pay it back A.S.A.P.
  • The United States government is in a fiscal abyss, and one unfortunate generation will eventually have to fit the bill.  This is what I call generational slavery, because one or more generations has decided, rather than extinguishing its own debts, to pass them on to posterity, guaranteeing “confiscatory” income taxation (as if there were any other kind) in the future, and thus robbing future generations of their own labor.
  • As poorly as the executives at GM, Ford, and Chrysler have managed their businesses, the federal government (or “car czar”) would do the job even worse–much worse, I believe.

If this bailout passes, the Lions will go 0-16 this season.  Sorry Detroit, karma’s a bitch, but I’m sure one more quarter of Ford’s failing operations is preferable to one win at Ford Field.  Go Colts!

Emerson cherished gold standard, limited government

Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writing is popular among progressives, who often share his criticisms of materialism, simony, and intolerance.  When I began reading his complete works, I wrongly expected to see “progressive” economic and political views; I did not.  I was surprised to learn that, regarding the size and scope of government, Emerson is at odds with progressives; when they use his words, they abuse his philosophy.  Emerson not only advocates the idea of limited government, but holds the political philosophy of no-government.  He certainly did not believe in what Joe Biden incorrectly calls “fairness.”

Emerson is no critic of capitalism or free markets; he sees injustice in fiat money, and cherishes the gold standard.  Logically, then, the progressive who defames the gold standard shows more respect to the economic philosophy of Richard Nixon than that of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  If Emerson were to have a conversation with Barack Obama about economics, he would probably conclude that Obama is either poorly educated, or educated to think poorly.  Emerson, being a good assessor of fitness, would probably find Obama unfit to govern in a free society.

Relative Emerson quotes:

“We live in a very low state of the world, and pay unwilling tribute to governments founded on force.”

“It is not the office of a man to receive gifts.  How dare you give them?  We wish to be self-sustained.  We do not quite forgive a giver.  The hand that feeds us is in some danger of being bitten.  We can receive anything from love, for that is a way of receiving it from ourselves; but not from any one who assumes to bestow.”

“Necessity does everything well.”

“All public ends look vague and quixotic beside private ones.  For any laws but those which men make for themselves are laughable.”

“The less government we have the better.”

“Money, which represents the prose of life, and which is hardly spoken of in parlors without an apology, is, in its effects and laws, as beautiful as roses.  Property keeps the accounts of the world, and is always moral.  The property will be found where the labor, the wisdom and the virtue have been in nations, in classes and (the whole life-time considered, with the compensations) in the individual also.”

“Since we are all so stupid, what benefit that there should be two stupidities!”

“The laborer is a possible lord.  The lord is a possible basket-maker.”

“The English dislike the American structure of society, whilst yet trade, mills, public education and Chartism are doing what they can to create in England the same social condition.  America is the paradise of the economists; is the favorable exception invariably quoted to the rules of ruin; but when he speaks directly of the Americans the islander forgets his philosophy and remembers disparaging anecdotes.”

“The ambition to create value evokes every kind of ability.”

“Another machine more potent in England than steam is the Bank.  It votes an issue of bills, population is stimulated and cities rise; it refuses loans, and emigration empties the country; trade sinks; revolutions break out; kings are dethroned.  By these new agents our social system is molded.”

“It is rare to find a merchant who knows why a crisis occurs in trade, why prices rise or fall, or who knows the mischief of paper money.”

“What befalls from the violence of financial crises, befalls daily in the violence of artificial legislation.”

“How did our factories get built?  How did North America get netted with iron rails, except by the importunity of these orators who dragged all the prudent men in?  Is party the madness of many for the gain of the few?  This speculative genius is the madness of a few for the gain of the world.  The projectors are sacrificed, but the public is the gainer.”

“I have never seen a man as rich as all men ought to be, or with an adequate command of nature.  The pulpit and the press have many commonplaces denouncing the thirst for wealth; but if men should take these moralists at their word and leave off aiming to be rich, the moralists would rush to rekindle at all hazards this love of power in the people, lest civilization should be undone.”

“Wealth brings with it its own checks and balances.  The basis of political economy is non-interference.  The only safe rule is found in the self-adjusting meter of demand and supply.  Do not legislate.  Meddle, and you snap the sinews with your sumptuary laws.  Give no bounties, make equal laws, secure life and property, and you need give no alms.  Open the doors of opportunity to talent and virtue and they will do themselves justice, and property will not be in bad hands.  In a free and just commonwealth, property rushes from the idle and imbecile to the industrious, brave and persevering.”

“Friendship buys friendship; justice justice; military merit, military success.  Good husbandry finds wife, children and household.  The good merchant, large gains, ships, stocks and money.  The good poet, fame and literary credit; but not either, the other.  Yet there is commonly a confusion of expectations on these points.  Hotspur lives for the moment, praises himself for it, and despises Furlong, that he does not.  Hotspur of course is poor, and Furlong a good provider.  The odd circumstance is that Hotspur thinks it a superiority in himself, this improvidence, which ought to be rewarded with Furlong’s lands.”

“The true thrift is always to spend on the higher plane; to invest and invest, with keener avarice, that he may spend in spiritual creation and not in augmenting animal existence.”

“To detach a man and make him feel that he is to owe all to himself, is the way to make him strong and rich.”