Anti-Gouging Laws Hurt the Vulnerable and Increase Suffering

The approaching Hurricane Matthew has led to news reports that governments are warning residents and businesses in Florida about price gouging. It brings up a question related to my recent post on FB about a narrow question of economics. Do anti-gouging laws actually hurt people?  Or is that just a myth of the cultural Marxists to scare people from helping one another and turn instead to benevolent Uncle Sam for rescue?
Here’s the very real scenario: people hit the stores to stock up on the essentials: beer, milk, bread, etc. Consequently, the stores run out of those essentials. Entrepreneurs who are beyond the danger zone of Hurricane Matthew see an opportunity, buy up beer, milk and bread, buy coolers and ice, load up their trucks and vans, and drive into the danger zone to sell these supplies.
Naturally, they do not sell them at the same price they bought them for. They want to make a profit. First, they add the cost of the ice, the cooler, and the gas, and if they are smart, they add the value of their time for the shopping, loading, driving and working, meals on the road, lodging, and then they set a price above this amount which would represent some hoped-for profit margin. The price could easily be double or triple the normal price.
Now, the state would consider this gouging. Many on the Left and Right rage against the practice. And yet, aren’t these entrepreneurs actually doing the consumer a fabulous service? The items would otherwise not be available to them at ANY price, after all, and they are not forced to buy the items to begin with.  If they do, they are demonstrating they desire the currency less than the beer, milk and bread. The currency will not help them survive the crisis or ease their suffering.  You cannot eat or drink currency (at least, not in a way that is pleasing to the senses).
There may even be competition in this niche, perhaps a Mexican who doesn’t assign as high a value to his time or is willing to engage in all this activity for a lower anticipated profit margin, and sells for say, just double the normal while the white man from Alabama sells for triple.
Before you take issue with the items I chose, replace them.  What about bottled water? Or disposable diapers, generators, batteries, gasoline, phone chargers…or anything you can imagine.
Do you think this example is price gouging? Do you believe it is immoral? Or is this kind of entrepreneurial activity actually a good and praiseworthy endeavor typical of the kind of conduct that helped to build this nation?

Celebrating Labor Day? Don’t

President Cleveland created Labor Day on June 28, 1894 in an attempt to quell a strike by 150,000 railroad workers that had crippled the country’s economy.  The striking laborers refused to go back to work and eventually clashed with federal troops. Their leader, Eugene Debs, was sent to prison, where he eventually became a Marxist.

The common ideology of the unions and the socialists made for a profitable long-term alliance.  Each sought to overthrow the existing order, each proclaimed an entitlement to the property of others, and each was quick to resort to violence when lawful means were unproductive.  Within two years of the institution of Labor Day, a quarter of a million workers in Chicago walked off their jobs, demanding a shorter work week (but the same pay).  As so many strikes do, this one resulted in violence when police attempting to disperse the crowd at the Haymarket Square were attacked with a dynamite bomb.  Seven police officers were killed.  They would be the first victims of the new century of union, socialist violence.

The unions have long cultivated the myth that their reason for existence is the promotion of workers’ rights, but from their earliest days the opposite has been true.  Shortly after the Civil War, as black Americans flooded northern industrial areas in search of jobs, labor unions such as The Brotherhood of Railroad Firemen and Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen prohibited the admission of black members.  They also banned Catholics.  Consequently, the railroads employed almost exclusively white protestants whose wages were kept high not because of the value generated for their employer, but through race and religion-based discrimination which kept a significant number of minorities from competing for the same jobs.

The racism of the unions was not limited to blacks and Catholics in the antebellum period; blacks would be discriminated against by the unions (and federal government), through even World War 1, while Asians were banned from membership in the American Federation of Labor.

As distasteful as the racism and bigotry is, the central premise of the American labor union should be distasteful to every person inasmuch as it is based on little more than envy and theft:

  • The labor union boss agitates for more wages, more benefits for less work and threatens violence (real or economic) if the needs are not met.
  • “Rights” to jobs are proclaimed-as though a man could have a right to dispose of another’s personal property as he (the claimant) sees fit, rather than as the owner believes is just.  That this is a euphemism for theft should be obvious.
  • Demands for higher wages are made, not because of the increased productivity of the worker, or of value generated for the employer, but because the worker believes that he is entitled to more, merely through his existence.
  • The union worker is never content with the voluntary contract he has entered into with another party and resorts to extortion-and not infrequently violence-to get from another what he cannot obtain justly.

That the union abhors competition is indisputably true, proven through the existence even today, of ‘security agreements’ which obligate workers to join (and more to the point, fund), workplace unions.   Despite the efforts in many states to prevent this kind of indentured servitude, so-called ‘union shops’ even require employers to fire employees who no longer wish to contribute to the union’s slush fund.  That such a circumstance could be lawful-let alone moral-should be obvious were ours not a culture drowning in envy.

It should come as no surprise that a group of people acting in such a way-not unlike a Mafia-would have an adverse effect on those who are not fortunate enough to be members of their exclusive club.  In fact, economists have concluded that the lower productivity of unions has likely cost the US economy more than $50 trillion dollars in the 50 years which the study, by the National Legal and Policy Center and the John M. Olin Institute for Employment Practice and Policy, analyzed.  That staggering sum was nearly 10 times the national debt at the time of the report, and even today is more than twice all federal debt obligations.

The union bosses might boast that this cost was necessary, a sort of wealth redistribution to union members that any socialist would defend, except that the evidence indicates that while union members reaped a relative advantage, the consequence of this Robin Hood behavior was a general reduction in all wages.

The study showed that while the redistribution of income in favor of the few resulted in a 15% increase in income for them, the cost was a general reduction in productivity that resulted in an economy that grew so much more slowly that it was as much as 40% smaller than it would have been were it not for the cost of the wealth redistribution.  This outcome seems obvious if we realize that taking from the productive and rewarding the unproductive will result in less of the former and more of the latter.  As many observers have said, socialism fails always, and everywhere, and this is as apparent in the union mecca of Detroit as it is in the socialist paradise of Venezuela.

Union elites and their allies on the left will argue that these costs were both necessary and justified to create the American dream we all now enjoy, such as it is.  And yet, in the pre-union era between 1860 and 1914, wage growth and productivity growth were nearly 10 times what they are today.

The federal government has been a collaborator with the union bosses from the origins of the movement.  The creation of a federal ‘holiday’ to commemorate the alliance is logical, and there is no great call for rescinding it.  After all the wars we’ve fought, debt we’ve incurred and taxes we’ve paid to create the greatest police state in world history, we may feel like taking a day off (after taking the Sabbath off).  But conscientious Americans and all Christians should distance themselves from the substance of this secular holy day and embrace man’s first vocation; voluntary, joyful and grateful labor.

Top Ten Causes of Death for 2016

As of August 25, these are the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.

 Abortion          690,193
Heart disease          400,589
Cancer          385,820
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease            95,918
Accidents            88,714
Stroke            86,790
Alzheimer’s            60,994
Diabetes            49,874
Influenza and Pneumonia            36,011
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis            31,394

As a percentage of the total:

 Abortion 36%
Heart disease 21%
Cancer 20%
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease 5%
Accidents 5%
Stroke 5%
Alzheimer’s 3%
Diabetes 3%
Influenza and Pneumonia 2%
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis 2%

How many people have died from each cause today:

 Abortion              2,899
Heart disease              1,683
Cancer              1,621
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease                  403
Accidents                  373
Stroke                  365
Alzheimer’s                  256
Diabetes                  210
Influenza and Pneumonia                  151
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis                  132

Sources:  CDC, Guttmacher Institute


Back to School and Celebrating Atomic Warfare

It’s August and that means back to school pictures by soccer moms and memes celebrating the anniversary our bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The heat and humidity has sapped my will to debate these people on Facebook and so I have shortened my debates with the warmongers to this simple, undeniable observation: those who justify the atomic murdering of innocent women and children are effectively no different than ISIS, except in terms of scale.

Why can they not see this? How could we ever hope to win the war against abortion when we defend-even celebrate-mass murder?

See how this discussion played out on Facebook:

Eating a Donut Can Send You to Jail

We incarcerate people at a rate matched only by North Korea. Why? It would seem there are only three possible explanations:

1) Our justice system is vastly better at catching bad guys than anyone else in the world
2) Our citizens are much more prone to criminality than anyone else in the world
3) Something is wrong

Here’s an article I recommend at Reason