Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Politicians feel pressure to act

Politicians feel pressure to act

(My Clovis News Journal column for July 15, 2011. As written, not as published.)

Politically-minded people are starting to anticipate election season. This means many of them will be asking the wrong questions of the candidates; who will be all-too willing to answer them.

We are already hearing politicians detailing what they would do about things that no government, nor any politician, has any authority to be involved in. Things like the economy and job creation, to pick a couple of prime examples.

Sure those things are important, and the natural desire of many seems to be to find or place someone "in authority" to do something beneficial for both. This path to a solution leads nowhere but over the cliff.

It's like asking me what I would do to stop dogs from scratching themselves in public. Or what I would do to stop my neighbors from watching the "wrong" television programs, or from eating unhealthy food. It is not, and could never be, within my authority no matter my job title, and even if it were, anything I might propose to do would be useless if not outright counterproductive due to unintended consequences.

Government can't create jobs other than government jobs, but government jobs don't help the economy; they diminish it. Government can also destroy jobs and prevent the market from creating jobs through regulation and taxation. The best thing government can do for job creation is to get out of the way. And the best thing government could do for the economy, along with getting out of the way of job creation, would be to shut down the counterfeiting operation at the Federal Reserve.

Yet those solutions are seen by most voters as "doing nothing", so are avoided at all costs. Politicians want to be remembered for action, even if it is the wrong one, rather than what is seen as inaction.

The best answers a candidate can give to those sorts of questions would make him unelectable, which is why America ends up with a growing economic mess and devastating law pollution, no matter which of the increasingly indistinguishable major parties takes the reins.


Freedom comes with limitations

Freedom comes with limitations

(My Clovis News Journal column for July 7, 2011. As written, not as published.)

The past week leading up to Independence Day made it glaringly obvious to me that few people today really know what "freedom" means. Sure, they know and use the word, but it is something like the word "Relativity" to them: something they have heard of and that they might think they understand because of how others have explained it to them. Often that explanation is in error.

Few are so completely clueless that they believe, as former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is quoted as saying in a speech back in March of 1994, that "Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do."    He would want his subjects to believe that, of course, but he was completely wrong.

Freedom means doing what you want to do. Nothing more and nothing less. That can be good or it can be bad, depending on what it is you want to do. There is a responsibility that goes along with freedom.

You have a right to exercise your freedom but only within certain limits: You have no right to harm people who are not harming you and no right to violate their property rights. If, by exercising your freedom or by doing your job, you step outside these bounds, your freedom- your action- is in the wrong. As long as you operate within this constraint, your actions are not subject to another's wishes, opinions, edicts, or whims. No matter what they may tell you in an attempt to justify violating your liberty.

The question is, are you free to do anything you want that doesn't cause physical harm to someone else and doesn't steal from others or damage their privately-owned property? If not, why not?

If someone or something interferes with your ability to do what you want, limited only by the condition that you not harm others, no matter the justification used, they are not advancing freedom, but are an enemy of freedom. Those enemies of freedom are what we should be commemorating our independence from, on July 4th and throughout the year.