Charity, Health Care, and the Free Market

NOTE: Tom Woods will be a featured speaker at Nullify Now! Jacksonville. Get tickets here – – or by calling 888-71-TICKETS ******* When Ron Paul suggested in a Republican debate that the charitable efforts of a free people were the answer to those who needed medical care and were genuinely unable to pay, critics…


Ky. industrial hemp bill takes bold stand…not

Kentucky State Sen. Joey Pendleton (D-Hopkinsville) prefiled a bill for the 2012 legislative session that would set up a structure for licensing state residents to grow and/or process industrial hemp.

If passed BR261 would, “require persons wanting to grow or process industrial hemp to be licensed by the Department of Agriculture; require criminal history checks by local sheriff; require the department to promulgate administrative regulations to carry out the new sections; require the sheriff to monitor and randomly test industrial hemp fields; assess a fee of five dollars per acre for every acre of industrial hemp grown, with a minimum fee of 150 dollars, to be divided equally between the department and the appropriate sheriff’s department; require licensees to provide the department with names and addresses of any grower or buyer of industrial hemp, and copies of any contracts the licensee may have entered into relating to the industrial hemp.”

From colonial times through the early 1800s, Kentucky was a leading hemp producer in North America. Many economists contend reestablishing hemp production in the Commonwealth would provide an economic boon for an agricultural sector decimated by declining tobacco sales.


Unemployment Insurance System Fosters Unemployment

The Wall Street Journal reports on rising state and federal unemployment taxes at a time when unemployment remains high. Keynesian economists keep telling us that unemployment benefits have a stimulative “multiplier effect” on the economy. Unfortunately, that sticky little problem of the government having to suck resources out of the economy to pay for this alleged stimulus keeps…


Georgia Seeks Alternative to No Child Left Behind

cross-posted from the Georgia Tenth Amendment Center

Georgia is one of the first states to seek an alternative to “No Child Left Behind”, according to this article from the Georgia Department of Education’s website. Remove the burden of the Federal Government’s inefficient, non-attainable goals outlined in NCLB, and the states can move to create a program that can improve the quality of education for all students:

“Through Georgia’s College and Career Ready Performance Index, we will be able to use multiple indicators to determine a school’s overall impact on our students”, said Superintendent Barge. “This approach will do more to ensure that the K-12 experience provides students with the academic preparation to compete globally, as well as the career development skills aligned with the evolving requirements of our workforce.”

Appendix B from the Request for Waiver to the USDOE Secretary Duncan, outlines the negative result if the current path is not altered, and highlights the equitable results of embarking on the new Georgia CCRPI plan:


Nullification: It’s Not Just for the States Anymore

…in fact, it never really was.

One of the most common objections I hear in any discussion about States’ rights, Nullification and Interposition is, “Well, what about Jim Crow and segregation?”  (p.s. Jim Crow laws existed in Union states such as California and North Dakota, so it’s not just the South) For a while, my most common reply was, “OK, so you’re going to shoot down the entire concept of Nullification, which resisted the Alien Sedition ActsFugitive Slave Lawsoverreaching federal drug lawsa Big Brother national ID card, etc. over one abuse of it?” To be honest, in my personal opinion, there has been a second, that of sanctuary states and cities in violation of federal immigration law, but that is again my personal opinion.  It is interesting, however that many big government types in DC in both parties who would bring up Jim Crow actually like those sanctuary states and cities.  In addition, there is a recent potential third, as North Carolina Governor Beverly Purdue (I could make a series of jokes about her being “chicken,” but I’ll save that for friendly gatherings) proposed suspending Congressional elections in 2012 to “focus on the economy.”

However, one should look at Jim Crow and segregation as a legitimate concern when discussing Nullification. After all, the federal government Constitutionally banned slavery after the Civil War, which was one good thing to come out of an awful war (again, in my opinion, the only good thing, which could have come about in more peaceful ways). The Reconstruction begun under Lincoln and Johnson took a more vengeful turn during the Radical Reconstruction. Congress refused to seat elected representation from the South. When southern states passed black codes attempting to deny blacks voting rights, and in some cases reimpose a de facto slavery, the federal government intervened, eventually dividing up the South into military occupied zones. It was an ugly mess, and from freedom’s point of view, nobody was right.


Inequality: It’s a Good Thing

Equality is the highest value of the American political Left. So the Left is always on the lookout for any trace of inequality. And of course they find it — everywhere. That’s because equality doesn’t exist in this world, except when we get down on the micro level. On the micro level of quarks, electrons, photons, and such, equality reigns supreme. Indeed, if any subatomic particle were suddenly to become unequal, the world would end. But on the macro level, the world we live in, inequality is inescapable.

We do find exquisite equality, however, in the realm of abstractions. In mathematics we have equations: Two plus two equals four. (That’s how I’m betting, anyway.) And in political philosophy we have “All men are created equal.” Immortal words, but we know they aren’t true. Even identical twins aren’t really equal, despite having the same DNA. What Jefferson was getting at is that government should treat everyone equally, not favor a few. There are only two uses of “equal” in Jefferson’s magnificent Declaration, in the first paragraph and in the first sentence of the second paragraph.

In the original Constitution, there are exactly six iterations of the word “equal” and its variations. There are two iterations in Article I, three iterations in Article II, and a single iteration in Article V. In all these instances, the Framers use the word “equal” to refer to number. In the first ten amendments to the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, there is no instance of “equal.” In all the rest of the Constitution, Amendments 11 through 27, there are only two iterations of “equal.” One is in the 23rd Amendment, and it, too, has to do with number.

The remaining iteration of the word “equal” is found in the 14th Amendment, Section 1. I’ve saved it for last because unlike all the other iterations it doesn’t concern number. It’s called the Equal Protection Clause: “No State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”


Comparison: Postal Service and Federal Government

The Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation’s Michael Schuyler has written an interesting paper that compares the federal government’s bleak financial situation to that of the U.S. Postal Service. The entire paper is a good read, but here are a few key points: Congress is helping to run the USPS into the ground (see here for example).…


Responsibility and Nullification

It was a difficult decision to choose between Independence and Responsibility for this title. Responsibility was selected because Responsibility encompasses Independence and Accountability in its’ practice. On the other edge of the sword is Nullification, a term and practice we Americans have been hearing a great deal about lately. Put them together and we can…


What is a Job?

by Tom Mullen

The usual chatter has begun following President Obama’s Sept. 8 call for a $417 billion government spending package designed to stimulate economic growth and create jobs while improving the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. As always, the commentary, both pro and con, focuses on speculation about the results of the program. Will this latest stimulus money actually reach “shovel-ready projects,” or will it again disappear down the black hole of state subsidies for Medicaid and education? How many jobs will the program actually create and what happens to those jobs when the program is over?

There is never any clear winner in debates of this nature. While the future is still unknown, Republicans will predict failure while Democrats will predict success. Once the program is over, Republicans will pronounce failure while Democrats will declare victory. The retrospective debate about the results of the program will go on until the media moves on to something else, only to be resurrected again at election time when Republicans will characterize the program as another “bridge to nowhere” while the Democrats will claim that it saved the economy.

There is rarely a definitive answer to questions about the results of government action, even after the fact. This may be one reason why most government programs never really end once they’re started. The answers are much less ambiguous and elusive when the discussion is shifted from results to rights. However, before exploring how this program affects the rights of the various parties involved, we must answer a previous question.

What is a job?

One might assume that everyone knows the answer to this apparently simple question, but I doubt that’s true. In fact, judging by what politicians, media, and even friends and neighbors have to say about jobs and unemployment, I’m convinced that almost no one in America today understands what a job really is.

As I’ve said before, a job is a transaction between a buyer and a seller. The employer is the buyer and the employee the seller, selling his services to the employer for a mutually agreed upon price. This is a voluntary transaction for both parties, just like the buying and selling of lawn mowers or breakfast cereal. The buyer offers to purchase services at the price he can afford and the seller decides whether to accept those terms or not. Both parties are free to decide not to go through with the sale at any time, including after the employment contract has been consummated and the employee has begun work.

There is only one way in which a purchaser of services can continue to employ people on an ongoing basis. The services provided by the sellers must produce products that make a profit. If the firm loses money, then the employer must increase his sales or lower his operating costs. The latter solution most often means purchasing fewer services (layoffs).

The voluntary association between buyer and seller of services (the employment contract) depends upon another voluntary association between the firm and its customers. The firm’s customers must choose to pay more for the firms products than the cost of producing them, including labor, material, rent, administration, and all other costs of production. It is that choice by customers that creates a market value for the products, for the market value is merely the amount of money the highest bidder will voluntarily pay. If no one was willing to buy the firm’s products at any price, then those products would have a market value of zero.