All posts by Animal

Rule Five Friday

2015_10_23_Rule Five Friday (1)From the Ludwig Von Mises Institute:  Employment Is Nothing Like Slavery.  Frankly, to yr. obdt. that rates a huge “no shit,” but apparently some people need reminding.  Excerpt:

What is necessary to take away a man’s freedom? For many progressives, nothing more then a bad workplace. Amazon takes ongoing heat for its work environment, with opponents like Business Insider calling it a “slave camp.”

But this comparison mistakes the fundamental nature of coercion.

2015_10_23_Rule Five Friday (2)Many leftists, such as left-libertarian Susan Webber at Naked Capitalism, argue that we must work in order to live, and that therefore work is coercive. If you must do X to live, then surely whoever controls your ability to do X is coercing you.

The problem with this argument is that the state of nature is not a Rousseauian paradise, but a brutal place where most die. The state of nature involves poverty and endless drudgery to catch, kill, and cook whatever food one can to stay alive. The workday is every waking moment, and the pay is little more than an occasional meal.

There’s nothing stopping people from living this way in the modern world — say, off the grid — but the beauty of capitalism is that it offers us a way out of this wretched existence. When a company offers a man a job, they are 2015_10_23_Rule Five Friday (3)not saying, “work or die!” the way a slaver does; they are promising him that, if he helps them to succeed, they will give him money to improve his life.

In other words, the employment relationship is like any other market transaction:  A voluntary exchange, in which both parties receive a gain in value.  The employer hires because the employee’s efforts are provide more value than his/her cost of employment.  The employee accepts employment because the pay and benefits are worth more than any other use to which the employee could put his/her effort.

The comparison to slavery is pernicious twaddle; corral litter of the first order.  A slave is never free to leave his/her master; the employee in a free employment market is always free to leave their employment.

2015_10_23_Rule Five Friday (4)The real irony here is that this phony comparison is generally made by advocates of socialism, a system that necessarily involves coercion by government – enforced by men with guns.  In fact, you can argue that increasing trends towards socialism is actually enforcing a form of slavery:  The forceful removal of the fruits of one’s labor, involuntarily, to the gain of others who did nothing to earn it.

That’s what redistributive social policies do.  The productive are required, with the implied threat of force, to surrender a portion of their earned wealth to the unearned enrichment of others.  That may not be slavery – but it is theft.

2015_10_23_Rule Five Friday (5)The article concludes:  In any market-based relationship, one party can leave and the other party can do them no harm. This is a freedom that is noticeably lacking in our interactions with government.

All too true; employers can hire and fire, and expect performance in return for recompense.  But they can’t coerce.  An employee is always free to seek other opportunities.  Only government can coerce.

That’s a key distinction; one that those on the political Left all too often miss.

2015_10_23_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Daily News

Facepalm-bearWell, yesterday’s comments came a day too soon.  Daffy old Uncle Joe has bowed out, leaving the crown to Her Royal Highness Hillary I.  Excerpt:

After months of tortured indecision, Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday he won’t be a candidate in the 2016 White House campaign, solidifying Hillary Rodham Clinton’s status as the Democratic front-runner and the party’s likely heir to President Barack Obama’s legacy.

Standing under bright sun in the White House Rose Garden, Biden spoke movingly about mourning the recent death of his son, Beau, a process he said does not match the political calendar. While he said his family was emotionally prepared to undertake a grueling presidential campaign, they arrived at that decision too late for him to mount a credible bid for a job that has long been the north star of his political ambitions.

“Unfortunately, I believe we’re out of time,” said Biden, flanked by his wife, Jill, and the president.

Now, anyone who has read these pages for any time (that’s you, True Believers) knows I’m no fan of Joe Biden, even if watching him on the stump is usually good fun and a Biden Presidential race would have been a laugh a minute.  But I sympathize with Biden for the loss of his son, and I suspect he may have challenged Her Highness if not for Beau Biden’s death.

Sad-BearNobody should lose a child.  That’s just not how things are supposed to happen.  We go through life knowing we will one day lose our parents, and those of us who are married know that there is the possibility of one day losing our spouse.  But our children are supposed to be around to carry on when we’re gone.  Nobody should have to suffer this loss.

Joe Biden has, and I suspect he hasn’t recovered yet.  For that, political differences be damned, he deserves our sympathy.

So, the Democrat race will be a little duller without old Uncle Joe in it.  But Her Majesty is probably breathing a whole lot easier today.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Her Royal Highness Queen Hillary I may be about to face her worst nightmare:  Uncle Joe Biden. Excerpt:

Joe Biden hasn’t yet said whether he’ll run for president — but his campaign against Hillary Clinton has already quietly begun.

The vice president and the former secretary of state are already engaged in a cold war of sorts, both jockeying for the mantle of heir to President Barack Obama’s legacy as they trade veiled shots over political styles, foreign policy decisions and more.

Though the two profess warm feelings toward each other, (Note:  I doubt Queen Hillary has ever had warm feelings towards anything or anybody, with the possible exception of her daughter – and there, color me skeptical.)  Clinton’s campaign knows Biden is a threat: Polls consistently show he pulls most of his support from Clinton if he enters the race — turning the campaign into a three-way race and giving Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders room to pass both. Tuesday, she rolled out a long list a long list of endorsements — more than 50 African-American mayors, many of them from the key early-voting state of South Carolina.

And Biden knows he’ll have to cut away at Clinton’s base — in part by wrestling Obama supporters away from her.

Biden made the contrasts hard to ignore Tuesday morning at a tribute to former Vice President Walter Mondale, when he invoked Clinton — not by name, but also without prompt, signaling that she is clearly on his mind — several times.

One was a shot at Clinton’s remark during the first Democratic presidential debate a week ago that Republicans are among the enemies she’s most proud of making.

Excellent Bear“I really respect the members up there and I still have a lot of Republican friends. I don’t think my chief enemy is the Republican Party. This is a matter of making things work,” Biden said.

That, True Believers, was a direct shot at Her Royal Highness.  I never in all my born days thought I’d have anything positive to say about daffy old Uncle Joe, but he’s probably a better natural politician than Her Majesty (granted that bar is pretty low) and he’s making all the right noises at the moment – that comment about Republicans not being  his enemies was a good shot across Her Majesty’s bow.

Things in the Democratic race have been pretty boring to date.  Maybe – just maybe – they are about to get interesting.  It’s still likely to be the GOP’s year, but the Democrats might have slightly better odds if they can come up with someone – anyone – but her Royal Highness and her campaign theme of “it’s my turn, peasants.”

Animal’s Daily News

Smiling BearThe ISIL terrorist and executioner known as Jihadi John has a problem.  A really, really big problem.  He’s on a bunch of kill lists, but the latest is a bad one – he’s been targeted by Russian Czar and former KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin.  Excerpt:

If you’re a terrorist, the last person you want hunting you down is Vladimir Putin. A U.K. website, the Daily Star, reports that that’s the scenario now, with the Russian autocrat putting Jihadi John, the Islamic State executioner responsible for beheadings of Western hostages, at the top of his kill list.

Jihadi John, you recall, is the U.K.-born Mohammed Emwazi, a former gangsta rapper with a cosseted London upbringing who took up terrorism with a grisly exhibitionist flair, making himself the public face of Islamic State. Well beyond the usual brutality of terrorists in the past, Jihadi John beheaded innocent hostages such as James Foley for the cameras and then placed videos of his bloody acts on YouTube, seeking fame and status among other terrorists. Supposedly he’s on the run now for all the publicity he’s brought to Islamic State, but that has only whetted Putin’s appetite for him as an even more attractive target.

He has plenty to worry about.

First, there’s Putin’s reputation as a terrorist-crusher. Putin rose to power by his decisive response to the war in Chechnya, flattening whole cities to wipe out terrorism — which had actually spread to bombings in Moscow. If Putin can wipe out a regional city, he’s pretty well capable of anything in the quest for Jihadi John. To paraphrase U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, Putin doesn’t do carrots.

Things are about to get really interesting in Jihadistan.

I’m not a big fan of Colonel Putin.  He’s an old KGB apparatchik, a tyrant, and would like nothing better than a return to the old “glory days” of the Soviet Union.  He’s in the Middle East in part to prop up Syria’s thug-dictator, who is an old Russian vassal.  But he does have something that America is lacking right now:

Decisiveness, and a willingness to employ raw power.

Yes-YOU-bearRussia is a sick giant:  Putin is bound by a moribund economy and a people about to fall off a demographic cliff.  But this aging bear can still crush ISIL without breaking a sweat – and in so doing, send a strong message to lots of former Soviet republics with “-stan” in their names.

Putin wants to kill Jihadi John and destroy ISIL.  We should let him.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Food stamp enrollment in Maine is down 22%.  Why?  Because food stamp applicants now have to work for their taxpayer largesse.  Excerpt:

(Maine Governor Paul) LePage’s administration re-implemented a work requirement for able-bodied adults without dependents enrolled in the program.

According to Maine’s DHHS, “[t]he rule required simply that those adults work for 20 hours per week, volunteer for about one hour per day, or attend a class in order to maintain food stamps beyond three months.”

Rachel Sheffield, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said, “Work requirements serve to ensure that assistance is going to those most in need.”

“They act as a gatekeeper,” Sheffield said. “Welfare is available to those who truly need it, but people are directed first towards work. Able-bodied adults should be required to work, prepare for work, or look for work in exchange for receiving assistance. Maine is a strong example of promoting work and reciprocal obligation.”

Well, whattya know – Maine is following an idea put forth in the Manifesto, and it’s working.  Why?

Incentives, True Believers.  Incentives.

Excellent BearIf government makes Free Shit easier to get and more comfortable to live on, more people will rely on Free Shit.  If they have to work for their Free Shit, then (according to the Maine example) more of them will decide that if they have to work anyway, they may well want to work for more than the government Free Shit provides.

That isn’t stopping the current crop of Democrat Presidential candidates, led by her Royal Highness Hillary I, from promising ever-more Free Shit.  But maybe – just maybe – it’s the beginning of some semblance of sanity creeping back into public discourse.  After all, it makes much more sense to measure the success of poverty-reducing programs not by how much Free Shit is handed out, but instead by the number of people who are no longer needing Free Shit.

Rule Five Friday

2015_10_16_Rule Five Friday (1)Now from the Obama Administration comes another staggering display of incompetence:  U.S. Military Cargo Planes Drop 50 Tons of Ammunition to Syrian Rebel Groups.  Uh huh.  Excerpt:

America has dropped more than 50 tons of ammunition on Syria to arm rebel groups.

Military cargo planes released batches of small arms and hand grenades over Ras Al-Ayn, near the Turkish border, over Sunday night.

They all successfully reached a group of fighters vetted by the U.S. government, sources told CNN.

2015_10_16_Rule Five Friday (2)Sources?  Which trained jackass did the Obama Administration trot out to leak that?

It is a change of tactics after Obama‘s multi-million-dollar program to train allied forces outside Syria ultimately failed.

A change of tactics, indeed; dropping 50 tons of munitions randomly into a anarchic shithole with no idea in whose hands they will end up.  But when has the Obama Administration ever flinched away from piling failure onto failure?  This latest act of asshattery comes only 2015_10_16_Rule Five Friday (3)weeks after it was revealed that the Pentagon spent somewhere between 40 and 50 million taxpayer dollars training “4500” Syrian “moderate” rebels, who somehow morphed into four or five sad sacks who were promptly either captured or dispatched.

The President excused this by claiming:  “We have an enormous presence in the Middle East,.. We have bases and we have aircraft carriers. And our pilots are flying through those skies. And we are currently supporting Iraq as it tries to continue to build up its forces.”  And:  “We are prepared to work both diplomatically and where we can to support moderate opposition that can help convince the Russians and Iranians to put pressure on Assad for a transition.

No, we aren’t.

2015_10_16_Rule Five Friday (4)Mr. President, your actions in this area have been marked by incompetence, weakness and failure.  Granted we were already present in Iraq and Afghanistan when you took office, but you made the decision (with no Congressional authorization, unlike your predecessor) to mix into Egypt, Syria and Libya – a reliable pro-US leader in that former country was overthrown, and the latter two are now sunk into chaos.  Meanwhile the Taliban are once more on the march in Afghanistan, ISIL is gaining ground in the Levant, and Iran is building nuclear weapons.

But there’s a new player in the Middle East.  Vladimir Putin is the czar of a Russia that is in a demographic free-fall.  He has a southern 2015_10_16_Rule Five Friday (5)border that is covered with a lot of former Soviet ‘republics’ ending in -stan.  He has an economy that is in the shitter.  He has a population that is looking to him for some kind of resurgence, and he has beguiled them with the image of a tough, can-do guy; which, to be fair, he has lived up to.  Worst of all, he is a former KGB Colonel, an old apparatchik who longs for the glory days of the Soviet Union – and he knows President Obama for a vacillating weakling.

The several Muslim-majority nations of the Middle East respect strength.  They see it in Russia.  They don’t see it in America – not any more.

This is the Obama legacy.

2015_10_16_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Daily News

The Golden Goose Is on the Run.   Not good news.  Excerpt:

Shy BearWith the unemployment rate at 5.1% and second-quarter GDP growth at an annual rate of 3.9%, some economists can claim that the economy is chugging along fine. But from where I sit on Main Street, that’s not the way it is.

There is something that the numbers are missing. Economics—and logic—tells us that if unemployment was truly that low and GDP that high, wages would be rising. Instead, wages grew at 0.2% during the second quarter, the slowest rate in 33 years. The median family income in America is approximately $53,000, below where it was before the 2008 economic meltdown.

There is a disconnect today between what government experts say about the economy when they crunch the numbers and what employers throughout America say when they make hiring and wage decisions. Businesses, small and large, are holding back. Six years after the Great Recession officially ended, many worry about another downturn and fear new governmental intrusions.

For decades, most businesses operated, innovated and expanded despite what was happening in the nation’s capital, or perhaps even oblivious to it. But now the goose that laid the golden egg is on the run. Free enterprise, which made the economy grow and produced rising wages for middle-income Americans, is under assault.

Too many policy makers evaluate new interventions—labor rules, wage laws, environmental regulations—only by what they hope to accomplish. They do not consider the consequences, the unintended effects, and the trouble that their policies will cause for employers and workers, especially when the burdens are placed one on top of another.

It’s not a complicated thing to figure out – for decades, the Imperial Federal government has been finding more and more creative ways to fuck over the few remaining Americans who are producing any value in this economy.

Smiling BearI’m beginning to think that’s part of the reason for this election cycle’s big outsider appeal.  Main Street folks are tired of the constant interference of professional politicians, and they are looking for something completely different.

Whether a Donald Trump will give them what they are looking for – less Imperial interference in all aspects of their lives, more economic growth – remains to be seen.  But there’s this:  He could hardly do any worse than the current crop.

Speaking of which; here are two reactions to last night’s Democrat Presidential debate.  I didn’t watch, but have listened to some excerpts and read a transcript, and can summarize the debate as follows:  “Blah blah blah free stuff blah blah make the rich pay blah blah more free stuff.”

All too predictable.


Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Are we about to see a libertarian/gay divorce?  Maybe. Excerpt:

Now that government discrimination is largely tamed, gay activists are going after private behavior, using the government as a bludgeon. After a long alliance with libertarians, the two camps could be settling into a new series of conflicts.

Libertarians and gay activists were aligned in the pursuit of ending government mistreatment, but libertarians draw a bright line between government behavior and private behavior, arguing that the removal of state force is the essential precondition for private tolerance. Many gay activists believe that government power is a critical tool for eliminating private misdeeds. What many activists see as righteous justice, libertarians see as inappropriate, heavy-handed coercion.

Now that gay marriage is a settled matter, it’s worth taking an inventory of political issues frequently raised within the LGBT activist community to see where the two groups’ values line up and where they conflict.

It is apparently impossible for any activist ‘movement’ to declare victory when most or even all of their goals are attained.  It is now illegal to discriminate against gays in the workplace, in marriage, in housing, or even in the military – but for some, that isn’t enough.  An end to legal discrimination by government isn’t enough:  They want to force people to think the right thoughts.  And here’s the bright, flashing red line they want to cross:  Gaining their own liberty isn’t enough; they are demanding that the liberty of others be curtailed.

It’s not enough that two gay men (or women) can get married.  They want to force a baker with a religious objection to serve them with a cake.

Fishing BearNow, let’s be fair; this phenomenon is not limited to the gay “rights” movement.  (Use of scare quotes intentional; groups do not have rights, only individuals do.)  Activist movements ranging from environmentalists to animal welfare (which spawned the animal “rights” movement) to labor unions have all fallen into this trap.

Why is this the case?  Why are activists so loathe to admit victory?  Why is there such a tendency, once a group has attained their deserved liberty, to attempt to destroy the liberty of others?

Libertarian ideas appeal to a lot of people in the “nobody gets to tell you what to do” part.  They lose appeal with too many people when you get to the “you don’t get to tell anybody else what to do” part.