San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, December 6, 2013

Colorado Judge Enslaves Christians To Homosexuals

I was watching the local television news the other night when a story came on that caught my attention.  It was about two Denver sodomites who are suing a Christian bakery owner because he refused to sell them a cake for their "wedding" reception.  Attorney's for both sides made a big deal over how they believe the law is on their side.  The sodomite's attorney, a lesbian, argued that civil law requires a business owner to "not discriminate" against anyone based on "sexual preference."  One of the men who was responsible for the civil suit alleged that he had been "violated" because of the "illegal discrimination" he had suffered at the hands of the Christian bakery owner who refused to serve him. He allegedly suffered a horrendous amount of emotional distress because the bakery owner did not affirm his lifestyle.  The Christian bakery owner's attorney claimed that it is a free speech issue.  She alleged that her client should not be forced to voice his approval of sodomite unions by being legally required to provide a cake for the "wedding" reception.  In her view being forced to bake a cake was a form of speech that supported and endorsed homosexual marriage that her client should not be legally required to engage in.  Both sides are missing the point.
After almost losing my dinner from what I had just witnessed I had to endure another report that immediately followed the one described above.  In this case an extremely fat woman from Houston had been denied service at a pedicure salon because the owner of the salon was afraid she would break the chair she would be required to sit in during the pedicure.  Rather than risk the loss of a $2000 chair the business owner informed the potential customer that she needed to take her business elsewhere.  Of course, she sued.  She won her lawsuit and appeared on the television in an interview as a proponent for all of those who have been "unjustly discriminated against."  She urged all people who had ever been refused service to "stand up for your rights" and make those evil, profit seeking businesses pay for their horrible sin of choosing to deny service to some people for reasons not approved by the government. 
The only reason these suits exist is because of a prior immoral law that does not allow a business owner, operating within the free market, to refuse service to anyone he chooses.  Government laws, rules and regulations require that all businesses that "serve the public" must serve all of the public and not discriminate against anyone. That is a stupid, ridiculous, unconstitutional and immoral law.  It is also inconsistently enforced.  Allow me to explain.
Before proceeding to an analysis of the presupposition under-girding this ridiculous law, it is important to note that the law stating it is illegal to refuse to serve anyone is unfairly and inconsistently enforced.  If I own a bar and a patron has had what, in the opinion of some unnamed bureaucrat in my geo-political zone, is too much too drink, I can be arrested and incarcerated if I do not discriminate against him and refuse to serve him.  In the same fashion if I own a gun shop and a person comes in raging against his neighbor and asks to buy a gun, I can be arrested and incarcerated if I do not discriminate against him and refuse to sell him a gun.  There are many examples where the law is turned on its head and business owners can be in big trouble for not discriminating.  The key, however, is that the business owner must discriminate in a government approved fashion.  No business owner is ever allowed to discriminate based upon his own appraisal of the situation.  No personal discretion is permitted.  The government discriminates all the time, usually quite immorally and unconstitutionally, but no private business owner is ever permitted to follow the dictates of his conscience and exercise discrimination.  Government must reign supreme at all times.  After all, we must admit that government bureaucrats always know better than we do. We must all submit to their decrees of what is moral and what is not, or face the consequences.
The basic presupposition under girding this law is that it is the business of government to tell participants in the free market who they may and may not conduct business with.  Those whom the government favors are given favorable protections.  Those whom the government does not favor and persecuted by means of laws, rules and regulations.  This presupposition is immoral and unconstitutional.  Government has no business being involved in business except to enforce the terms of voluntarily entered into contracts when one party to the contract alleges that it has been broken by the other party.  When government commands me to serve someone I do not want to serve I am converted into a de facto slave of that person.  That should never take place in the free market.  Only slaves are forced to serve others against their will.  As usual, we see that it is government that enslaves people and the free market that frees us.
Let's admit it, shall we?  Businesses discriminate all the time.  It is unavoidable.  If you cannot afford the price tag on a particular good you may not purchase that good.  That is discrimination against someone who either does not have enough money to buy that good or who does not want to spend what he does have on that good.  Either way, it is discrimination.  Businesses discriminate when they decide to sell something and not something else.  If I sell plumbing fixtures and not heating vents I am discriminating.  A person who comes into my store to buy both plumbing fixtures and heating vents will go away dissatisfied.  Did I discriminate against him?  Most certainly. Should I be punished for it?  Absolutely not.  It is not his job to tell me what I may or may not sell.  That is my decision.
When I open a store serving baked goods I discriminate against all people who want to buy hamburgers from me.  Furthermore, I am an offense to the sensibilities of anyone who has had a friend, family member or loved one die from an overdose of baked goods.  Should I be shut down by the authorities for my offensive behavior?  Should I be fined by the state because I do not serve hamburgers to a person who wants to buy hamburgers?  It is hard to see why not, if the law against discriminating against potential customers is fairly applied.  According to the terms of that law, any customer can demand that I sell anything to him at any time and if I do not, I am breaking the law.  What a mess.
Let's admit what is going on here.  The law against discrimination has nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with political power, abuse of authority and buying votes from special interest groups.  Everyone discriminates all the time and usually there are no lawsuits filed.  However, when a politically connected and privileged minority group comes into the equation, offenses fill the air.  Homosexuals are offended by everything.  Fat people are offended by everything.  Fat homosexuals are in the class of super-offended.  In the Socialist Democracy of Amerika homosexuals are protected by immoral laws that allow them to extort blood money from profit seeking businesses that do not want to serve them because they are homosexuals.  Homosexuals say that it their civil right to force a business owner to serve them.  However, no legitimate and constitutional civil right of one group can ever infringe on a legitimate civil right of another group.  When they do, it is a clear indication that an immoral  and unconstitutional "civil right" is being asserted.
I do not harm a homosexual when I refuse to sell him a wedding cake.  He is free to go anywhere else and buy one.  But in today's politically correct society, that homosexual man will claim that I have harmed him simply because we have an intellectual disagreement.  He is so grossly insecure about his self image that he has enlisted the coercive power of the state to force me to agree with his opinion about himself.  He wants me to affirm his lifestyle so he can feel good about himself.  When I do not, he calls in the police to force me to do so.  What a baby he is!  What a sissy!  The state agrees with the homosexual and forces me, against my will and my civil right to my own opinion, to violate my conscience and serve him, thus reinforcing his view of himself.  The whole process is madness.
Career politicians keep their fingers to the wind to discern which group shall be granted special privileges and which shall not.  In the Socialist Democracy of Amerika today the fat and the gay have special privileges.  Those who are not fat and gay are expected to sacrifice to reinforce the self-image of those who are fat and gay.  Politicians buy a lot of votes from fat and gay people, as well as those who are sympathetic to fat and gay people.  The word on the street is that 51% of the citizens of the SDA now support the fat and gay agendas.  Under the operating principles of our democracy that means anyone who intellectually opposes the agenda of fat and gay people is now evil and must be persecuted.  The right of a private business owner to discriminate and refuse to serve those with whom he finds himself in disagreement is taken from him.  He is forced, against his will, to serve those whom he opposes.  That, of course, is a direct violation of the founding principles of what used to be called the United States of America as well as that quaint little document called the Constitution.  My how things have changed.
In a free market no person should be forced to trade with someone he does not want to trade with.  No one should be forced to buy and no one should be forced to sell.   Why individual participants choose to not trade with one another is their business.  It does not matter why I refuse to trade with you.  You might be wearing a funny looking hat and I never trade with people wearing funny looking hats.  If my self-imposed trade restrictions bring harm to my business and cause me to experience financial losses, so be it.  On the other hand, if my self imposed trade restrictions bring me gains, of either the financial or psychic variety, then good for me.  In no situation should the state get involved.  In fact, any involvement of the state in the voluntary transactions of participants in the free market is a violation of the civil rights of those participants and it should not be tolerated.  The rules and regulations that exist today exist to create winners and losers.  The winners are the politically protected classes and the losers are profit seeking businessmen who finds themselves in the political minority.
When the majority rules the rights of the minority are destroyed.  Bible believing Christians are in the minority so it is open season on them and their opinions about how they should behave in the business world.   In the name of some sort of perverted justice Christian business owners are now forced to serve people they would prefer not to serve and, thanks to Obamacare,  are also being forced to pay for abortions for their promiscuous employees.  It is enough to make a Christian business owner want to pull a John Galt and disappear, leaving the fat gay people to fend for themselves.

Update:  December 7, 2013

The judge ruled on the lawsuit filed against the Christian baker yesterday.  As expected, and according to the law as it is written, he found against him.  I do not know what the homosexual pair were awarded for winning their lawsuit and I do not care.  It was big news.  All the local television news stations featured the story.  Everyone seemed quite happy that the homosexual lifestyle was affirmed.  Everyone, except a handful of Christians (who do not count in the SDA) seemed quite happy that a man who had an intellectual disagreement with the homosexual couple was punished for not affirming their lifestyle.  Everyone seemed quite happy that the state enforced slavery on a white, Christian male.  Get used to it.  More is coming.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Terrible Stench Is Rising From The Air Force Academy

Several weeks ago I posted an article to this blog about the utter hypocrisy revolving around the Air Force Academy's honor code.  The AFA honor code is very simple.  It says, "We will not lie, steal or cheat nor tolerate among us anyone who does.  Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and live honorably, so help me God."  So far, so good.  Who could possibly be against telling the truth, not cheating and doing your duty?  Those all sound like good things to me.  The problem starts when we get into the details.  The crazed people at the Air Force Academy have a very different definition of what cheating, lying and stealing happen to be.  A front page article in Monday's Denver Post, entitled "Honor, deception amid Air Force's cadet spy system", gives us the sordid details.
The article begins by telling us civilians that "facing pressure to combat drug use and sexual assault at the Air Force Academy, the Air Force has created a secret system of cadet informants to hunt for misconduct among students."  Does that assertion strike anyone besides me as incredibly strange?  We all universally admit that those fine young men and women who are admitted to the AFA are the cream of the crop of each year's high school graduates.  They go through a rigorous selection process to make sure they are the most intelligent and moral young men and women in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  Nobody makes it into the AFA without a sterling pedigree of moral perfection and intellectual brilliance.  So why, given the superior character of all of these young men and women, do they need a system of "cadet spies" to spy on each other in an attempt to catch each other in criminal activities?  Why are these future leaders of the SDA, in direct violation of their professed honor code, engaging in drug use and distribution?  Why are these future leaders of the SDA involved in sexual assaults upon their fellow female cadets?  What in the world is going on at the AFA?
The article went on to tell the sordid tale of Cadet Eric Thomas.  Cadet Thomas was enlisted by the Air Force's Office of Special Investigation, or OSI, to spy on his fellow cadets.  In a manner taken straight out of spy novels and James Bond movies, Thomas was ordered by unseen and unknown "handlers" to "infiltrate academy cliques", all the while wearing recording devices designed to catch his fellow cadets in illegal activities.  He would set up drug buys and follow male cadets he believed were on the prowl for female victims.  While engaging in these activities he was quite obviously breaking the rules and regulations of the Academy himself. 
Thomas' work bore fruit.  As a direct result of his activities the OSI was able to obtain 15 convictions for illegal drug use as well as two convictions for rape over a two year period of time.  You would think that he would be heralded as some sort of hero for ferreting out the illegal activities at the AFA.  You would expect that he would have been given a medal for protecting the female cadets from assault.  You would be wrong.  Cadet Thomas was exposed.  His activities as an OSI operative became public.  When asked about Thomas' activities, General Mark Welsh, chief of staff of the Air Force, the service's top officer and the only commander with authority over both the academy and the OSI refused to comment on the program and said that he could "neither confirm not deny the existence of the program."
Thomas was recruited by the OSI several years ago, shortly after he attended a rule-breaking off campus party for cadets in which alcohol and marijuana were being consumed.  Because he was at the party but not participating in the rule-breaking activities, he was coerced into becoming a spy on those who did.  AFA authorities became aware of the party when the local police arrived on the scene.  I don't know if any of the rule-breaking participants were disciplined for honor code violations.  I do know that as far as the public was concerned the whole situation was quickly dropped and it would have been forgotten and written off as a case of "boys will be boys" if not for the work of the OSI.   The OSI wanted revenge for the tarnishing of the reputation of the AFA.  Thomas was specifically told by his OSI handlers that he would not be subject to the honor code as he conducted his work for them.  Clearly he needed to lie about his investigative activities in order to catch the real honor code violators.  He was promised that if he got into trouble they would bail him out.  He was promised a lot of things.  None of them came true.
As a direct result of his activities as a spy, Thomas found himself earning inferior grades on his coursework and developing a bad reputation with his fellow cadets and teachers.  One night, while pursuing a cadet who had left the campus to stalk a unnamed female, Thomas was caught and charged with violating the rules and the honor code.  His OSI handler promised him that he would make everything all right.  He was told that an OSI official would appear at his discipline hearing in his defense.  To make a long story short, with one month to go before graduating from the AFA, Cadet Thomas was expelled from the AFA for violations of the honor code.  His OSI handler never appeared at his discipline hearing.  When contacted by various news outlets in the Colorado Springs area the OSI denied any knowledge of Thomas' actions.  It was only through the provisions of the freedom of information act that the local newspaper was able to piece together this story.  The end result was that Thomas was used by the OSI to police the AFA cadets and the moment their clandestine activities were close to being exposed he was left to flap in the wind.  So much for honor and integrity with that group.
So there you have it.  Cadet Thomas was expelled from the Air Force Academy for his alleged violations of the AFA honor code.  His primary violation consisted of exposing the rampant violations of the honor code that are going on every single day at the academy.  Does hypocrisy rise to a higher level than the one seen here?  Despite attempts by all the participants in this case to portray the AFA as some sort of moral beacon, the truth of the matter is that it is just like any other college campus.  It is filled with moral degenerates who get drunk, smoke marijuana, assault females, lie, cheat and steal with regularity.  Is there a single cadet who has not violated the mythical honor code dozens of times?  I rather doubt it.  Clearly the honor code is nothing but a joke. 
The big news, however, is that the cadet who exposes the rampant hypocrisy of the cadets at the academy in regards to its honor code is the one who takes the fall for his lying, cheating and stealing associates.  The lesson to be learned here is obvious.  Cadets must come to acknowledge and live according to the real code of "honor" that exists among military personnel, as well as among all government employees and especially those in law enforcement.  It is called the "blue line."  The real code of "honor" is the code that says elitist and entitled government employees and agents can do anything they please as long as they do not get caught.  According to this unwritten code of "honor", when they do get caught it is the duty of every member of the group to close the circle and lie together as a unified group.  Self righteous denials and accusations about witch-hunts must fill the air.  How could anyone impugn the motives of such noble men?  Anyone who dares to not be a part of that circle and tell the truth is immediately expelled. Thomas told the truth about his immoral fellow cadets.  He behaved with honor.  For that he was expelled with only a month to go before graduation. Meanwhile, the honor code violating degenerates he exposed all graduated on time and to the praise of everyone around them. 
Some of my taxpayer dollars are being used to fund this pitiful excuse for a military academy.  What a joke.  What a farce.  Why should I be forced to finance the partying and sexual promiscuity of future government agents?  The entire system disgusts me.  Sometimes, when the wind blows from the north, I can smell the stockyards of Greeley coming from the north of where I live.  Right now, even with a strong and cold north wind blowing outside my door, I am overwhelmed by the stench that is rising from the Air Force Academy, well to the south of where I live. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Not Owning Stocks Will Cost You

A Gallup poll conducted in April of this year asked participants their opinion about what might be the best long term investment vehicle.  Investments options consisting of real estate, stocks/stock mutual funds, bonds and savings/CDs were presented to investors and they were asked to rank them in terms of long term profitability.  The results were tabulated and then compared to similar polls taken over the previous ten year period.  Here is my summary of some of the data from the poll:

              Date            Real Estate           Stocks/Funds        Bonds            Savings/CDs
         April, 2013            31%                       26%                    14%                   24%
         April, 2009            33%                       15%                    12%                   24%
         April, 2007            37%                       31%                    10%                   18%
         April, 2002            50%                       18%                    13%                   16%

I selected the dates in the chart above for a specific reason.  Each date represents a major turning point in investor sentiment.  In 2002 investors were in the depths of the technology stock bust.  Only 18% of investors considered stocks to be the best long term investment.  On the other hand, a whopping 50% of investors deemed real estate to be the best long term investment.  That sentiment set the stage for the real estate boom that lasted until 2008.
By the time 2007 came around the stock market had risen by 100% from its previous low set in 2002.  As a result of that nice gain investors changed their opinion about owning stocks.  In fact, stocks were favored by a record 31% of all investors when they reached their high point just prior to the stock market collapse in 2008-2009.  Not surprisingly, by 2009 stocks had fallen to their lowest point with only 15% of individual investors considering them to be the best long term investment.  The panic that ruled during that turbulent time can be seen in the fact that a full 24% of investors considered a savings account to be the best long term investment.  Investors were clearly stating that they would sacrifice all future returns in exchange for not having to experience any down markets.
Today, after a run-up of over 150%, stocks have come back into favor.  Still, despite rising from 15% to 26% in popularity, a huge 24% of investors still are terrified of the stock market and continue to hold their long term investments in cash.  This shows just how much fear still exists in the minds of long term investors.  The chart also dramatically illustrates how so many investors fall into the trap of predicting the future based upon what happened last year.  When the stock market is rising, folks think stocks are the best investment.  When the stock market declines, people move to real estate or, if they are really terrified, to gold.  When the market rises and their memories of the past collapse have faded, people return to stocks and stock funds.  This pattern is a sure prescription for abysmal long term investment returns as individual investors are always chasing a train that has left the station.  A far superior investment strategy would be to determine which investment class is the superior long term performer and stick with it for eternity. 
So, who is right?  What is the best long term investment?  It is easy to find average annual total returns for stocks, bonds and cash.  Real estate is a different matter.  Since real estate investments are so site specific it is practically impossible to obtain a long term average annual rate of return.  Even using long term returns on real estate investment trusts is problematic since very few of them go back further than 1990.  So, although many people consider real estate to be a superior long term investment, I will not show long term returns for it here.  See below for some additional information about the long term results from real estate.  The stock returns are for the S & P 500 index.  The bond returns are from an index of corporate bonds and the cash return is from Treasury bills.  I have added an additional column for all you gold bugs who believe that gold is the best long term investment.  All total returns are adjusted for inflation and calculated through the first half of this year.

              Date                  Stocks               Bonds                Cash              Gold
         Since 1926               6.8%                 2.9%                 0.5%              1.8%
         Since 1960               5.6%                 3.4%                 1.0%              2.9%
         Since 1980               7.8%                 6.1%                 1.6%             -0.2%
         Since 1990               6.2%                 5.5%                 0.6%              2.4%     
         Since 2000               0.2%                 5.6%                -0.4%              9.1%     
         Since 2003               5.6%                 4.2%                -0.6%            10.9%    
         Since 2008               2.1%                 6.3%                -1.5%              6.4%
         Since 2009             13.7%                 5.8%                -1.2%              7.0%

(Forbes magazine attempted to compare the rate of return of stocks vs real estate back in 2005.  The well researched article can be found here.  Keep in mind that the real estate boom was well underway in 2005.  Also keep in mind that the technology stock bust was also ensconced in the memories of many investors in 2005.  The financial publication concluded that, "...if you take a longer view–say 25 years–you’ll find that the S&P 500 has actually stomped the real estate market, from Boston to Detroit to Dallas. From the start of 1980 to the end of 2004, home sale prices increased 247%. A pretty sweet deal, it would seem. Over the same period, however, the S&P 500 shot up more than 1,000%."  I will concur with Forbes and assert that stocks and stock mutual funds are clearly the superior long term investment vehicle available to individual investors.)
A quick glance at the chart above shows that stocks consistently outperform other asset classes, especially as time frames lengthen.  The cash investments that 24% of present investors find so comforting are actually resulting in inflation adjusted losses for those foolish enough to stay with them.  Fear of being in the stock market, driven by memories of recent powerful declines, seems to be the main reason most people stay out of the investment that will most perfectly help them attain their long term investment goals.  A recent article on had this to say about the psyche of many of today's investors:

"The stock market has been on a major tear for the last four years, with both the Dow Jones industrials and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbing to all-time highs.  But the gains aren't trickling down to the majority of Americans. Stocks are owned by a record-low percentage of Americans today....I think the shift away from stocks has been as much about the changing preferences of investors as it has been about sluggish growth in the labor market.
Historically speaking, stock indexes have been by far the best performing asset class, easily outperforming bonds, cash, gold, and real estate. As Warren Buffett has argued, this makes sense in the long run, since stocks are shares in companies that produce a return. In other words, they are a productive asset.  But the last 15 years have been an extremely turbulent period. After the technology bubble at the turn of the century, real estate became the most popular investment in the mid-2000s. But unlike stocks, real estate is not a productive asset. It’s a deteriorating asset that requires spending for upkeep, and when prices rise, more supply is usually built. This makes real estate vulnerable to severe price corrections as occurred in 2008, which clear out the speculators.
After the real estate boom and bust, people began to look around for other investment options. In a 2011 poll,  Gallup found that the most popular investment had become gold. But gold isn’t a productive asset either. And the gold boom didn’t work out very well, with gold prices currently down over 30 percent from their 2011 highs.  Sooner or later, more Americans will rediscover stocks. But it's a shame that more people haven't been able to benefit from the price rises of the last four years."

Fear is a powerful motivator.  Fear causes otherwise rational people to do irrational things.  The stock market can be filled with fearful images for those with no understanding of history.  Look at this chart of bear markets since 1929:

                        Start             Finish            Decline           Length           Market the Next 12 Months
                        10-29           07-32             -89% # 1         33 mo                          +171%
                        03-37           03-38             -46% #5          12 mo                            +29%
                        12-61           06-62             -28%                  7 mo                            +33%
                        02-66           10-66             -22%                  8 mo                            +33%
                        11-68           05-70             -36%                17 mo                            +44%
                        01-73           10-74             -47% #4          22 mo                            +38%
                        09-76           03-78             -19%                17 mo                              +9%
                        11-80           08-82             -27%                21 mo                            +58%
                        08-87           12-87             -34%                  4 mo                            +21%
                        07-90           10-90             -20%                  3 mo                            +29%
                        07-98           08-98             -19%                  1 mo                            +39%
                        03-00           09-02             -49% #3          30 mo                            +34%
                        10-07           03-09             -57% #2          16 mo                            +68%

The investor who stayed in the stock market for this entire period of time, albeit a very long-lived person, would have realized an inflation adjusted average annual rate of total return of around 7%.  This is true despite the fact he experienced 13 bear markets.  Two of those bear markets took place in the past 13 years and those two bear markets were ranked number two and three for severity.  No wonder historically ignorant people are frightened.  But investing is not a game or a place for children.  It is serious business.  Those who want to realize the best possible rate of long term total return must overcome their emotions and do what history declares to be the superior investment strategy for all of us.  Get into the stock market and stay there, with total disregard for what happens on a day to day basis.  Not owing stocks will cost you a lot more than owning them ever will.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Pope Is Economically Clueless

Last week Pope Francis issued an "apostolic exhortation" in which he displayed an amazing ignorance of economic principles.  Because, for reasons that I do not understand, the Pope continues to hold sway over the minds of millions of people, I think it is worth using a bit of space to illustrate some of his greatest errors.  I would hope that people would think for themselves when it comes to economics and not trust the words of a religious leader.  That hope, of course, is a pipe-dream.  People rarely think and when they do it is usually not for themselves.  Still, that truth does not keep me from criticizing the worst from the written words of Pope Francis.
Papal Quote # 1:  "Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized."
The comparison of the free market to the theory of evolution is a popular tact that is frequently taken by communists and socialists.  Totally ignored in the comparison is the fact that under the terms of the free market no one is ever coerced to do anything.  No one is ever attacked.  No one is ever savaged.  Everyone does what he wants, when he wants and how he wants.  There are no powerful predators and helpless sheep.   Each person brings to the market what he wants to bring and trades how he wants to trade.  It is only under systems of intervention created by government agencies that people find themselves "excluded and marginalized."  The poor man who finds himself arrested for using his car as a taxi without prior government permission has not been harmed by the free market.  He has been harmed by the government. 
Papal Quote # 2:  "Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded."
Human beings are never considered to be "consumer goods" by the free market.  It is only within government institutions that human beings are de-humanized and seen as goods to be utilized.   The greatest example of this truth is the military of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  Anyone joining the military is immediately reduced to a mindless automaton that will immediately obey the orders of his superiors and sacrifice himself for the most ridiculous of objectives.  The Pope is confusing the fact that a man will bring his labor to the market place and exchange it for money in what is known as a job with slavery to the State.  Sometimes, when the employer no longer wants or needs those labor services, the contract will end and the man will have to look elsewhere to sell his labor services.  Sometimes the man providing the labor services will decide that he would rather provide them to someone else.  He is always free to do so.  If no coercion is involved and both parties have satisfied the terms of their original contract, this is a good thing and not to be disparaged, even by a Pope.
Papal Quote # 3:  "In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and na├»ve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system."
Everything about this statement is wrong.  First of all, there is no "economic system" in the free market.  The free market is simply each person doing what he wants.  All talk of an economic system smacks of government intervention into the free market.  Second of all, there is no such as "economic power" in the free market.  Each participant in the free market has power.  Most importantly, each participant in the free market has the power to walk away any time he wants to.  Nobody is ever victimized by anyone in a free market since the exit door is always open.  Third of all, no proponent of the free market that I am aware of has ever argued the free market makes the world more just.  This belief is tied to the equally erroneous belief that people do bad things because they are poor, not because they are sinful.  The Pope seems to believe that the free market is supposed to make people less sinful.  As a theologian he should be aware that only the Holy Spirit can do that.  Unless the Holy Spirit sanctifies a man there is no expectation that men will behave in any way other than sinfully.  On the other hand, the free market is the best regulator of sinful behavior that men have because it punishes those who cheat and rewards those who are honest.  No man will profit for long when the word gets out that he is dishonest and untrustworthy.  On the other hand, that man will have a fantastic career in politics should he decide to go in that direction.
Papal Quote # 4:  "The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person!...The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption."
The Pope is out of touch with recent history.  The "current financial crisis" he refers to ended four years ago!  Why does he pretend that it exists today?  The Pope has mastered the technique of garbage-speak.  He says lots of things but his words have no content.  What is the "denial of the primacy of the human person"?   Is it possible to deny the primacy of an in-human person?  What does it mean to affirm the primacy of a person?  He does not say.  The fact of the matter is that the free market is the greatest affirmer of the primacy of the human person, whatever that means, that has ever existed.  Everyone can cooperate in the free market.  Everyone can make a profit.  Everyone can buy and sell.  Nobody is excluded.  Through the pursuit of economic self-interest (as good, old Adam Smith taught us so long ago) we discover that the free market is the best and most efficient means by which "real concern for human beings" may be realized.  The hollow counterfeit of government intervention only beggars some for the benefit of others.  It is most clearly and sadly recognized that under government handout programs man is reduced to "one of his needs alone:  consumption." How else do you explain food stamps and unemployment benefits?
Papal Quote # 5:  "While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control."
The Pope is quick to jump on the earnings stagnation and disparity band-wagon.   The free market creates income disparity.  It is a good thing. Furthermore, the Pope should be aware of the fact that Jesus taught that earnings disparity is a good thing.  Go and read the Parable of the Talents if you do not believe me.  The Pope claims to be the "Vicar of Christ."  If that is true, would it not make sense for him to teach the same things that Jesus taught?  Why does he teach things counter to the teachings of Jesus?  Equally as bad, the Pope believes that we live in a world that suffers from a dangerously low supply of government regulation.  He needs to get out of the Vatican once in a while.  He needs to step out of his Pope-mobile and go to the grocery store.  Maybe then he would recognize that all government intervention into the free market is harmful to the participants in the free market.  Government intervention inevitably creates winners and losers.  Government intervention inevitably creates envy and covetousness, two things the Pope should be preaching against.  Anyone who believes that the free market is under-regulated is a nut case and completely detached from reality.
Papal Quote # 6:  "In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule."
The Pope tips his cap to the environmental wackos in this statement.  The environment is not defenseless.  On the contrary , it is human beings who are defenseless in the face of a never ending environmental assault upon our health and well-being.  Go here for the argument.   The Pope is also clueless about the nature of profit.  Profits are indicators that entrepreneurs are doing what they are supposed to.  Profits accrue to those who are serving others.  There is no better indicator of service to others than profits.  Rather than disparaging profits, the Pope should be praising them.  Go here for the argument.  Lastly, the Pope claims that the free market is "deified".  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The world in which we live deifies the State and demonizes the free market.  His assertions about the free market in this document are one of the best examples of this truth. 
Papal Quote # 7:  "With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: 'Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs.'"
The Pope is very confused.  As a man who is ostensibly the most morally sensitive of all human beings presently walking this earth, he is a massive hypocrite.  He quotes someone with whom I am not familiar in support of his communism/socialism.  His position is clear.  My property does not belong to me.  It belongs to everyone else.  Of course, everyone else's property does not belong to them.  It belongs to me.  Property has now become the cosmic hot potato.  Whoever dies holding the property goes to Hell.  All others go to Heaven.   It is hard to imagine a more stupid and immoral assertion than the one which claims that my property belongs to everyone else, or more precisely, my property belongs to "the poor", whoever they are.  Nobody has a moral claim on my property simply because he is poor.  That is theft, and the Pope should know that.
Papal Quote # 8:  "Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence."
This thinly veiled threat that the poor, whoever they are, will rise up and plunder the rich, whoever they are, by violence is nothing more than Marxism.  The belief that men are evil because they are poor is theologically incorrect.  Men are evil because of original sin.  The Pope should be aware of this theological truth.  Men do not steal from the rich because they have been made evil by their poverty.  In many, if not most, cases, men are poor because they are evil.  When governments and Popes come along and pander to that evil it only makes the situation worse.  The Pope needs to shut up.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Winners And Losers Under Obamacare

I was watching the news the other night, I believe it was the Kelly Files, when a guest made the rather obvious point that under the rules and regulations of Obamacare there will be people who win and people who lose.  This truth was presented as if it was a new revelation from on high.  Apparently nobody had stopped to consider the economic truth that all immoral government intervention into the economy of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika creates winners and losers.  Let's consider the nature of government intervention into the market and Obamacare for a moment.
Under the principles of the free market there are never winners and losers.  Just the opposite is the case.  In a true free market, where government hegemony is non-existent, all participants in the market are winners.  This is based upon another rather obvious truth that nobody would participate in a free market transaction if he did not get what he wanted from it.  When nobody is forced to engage in a particular trade, those who do engage in that trade are doing so because it gives them what they want.  If they do not get what they want they will not trade.  If they do get what they want they will trade.  In all cases and at all times both parties go home happy.  This is one of the beauties of the free market.  This is one of the reasons why the free market is the most moral system of economic exchange in the universe (in fact, it is the only moral system of economic exchange in the universe).  This is one of the reasons why everyone with enough sense to realize this truth should extol the virtues of the free market in perpetuity. 
Everything changes when government gets involved.  Remember, government does not produce anything.  Government is not business.  Government does not add to the capital stock of the economy.  In fact, just the opposite is the case.  Government, along with religious and charitable institutions, subtracts from the total capital stock of the economy.  Government, along with religious and charitable institutions, is an economic parasite.  The fact that government, along with religious and charitable institutions, is an economic parasite does not mean that it is evil or wrong.  Government has several extraordinarily important functions to perform and every right to exist in a free society. However, we must never confuse the right to exist and function with the ability to do economic good.  Economic growth comes exclusively from profit-seeking businesses and nowhere else.
Because government does not produce any goods or services it necessarily follows that all government services that are dolled out must be dolled out at an economic loss.  That loss is what we call taxation and, in our immoral financial system, inflation.  For the time being I will ignore inflation.  In a democracy, where the will of the 51% overrules the will of the 49%, it will always be the case that the richest 49% of the population will end up paying for all government provided goods and services.  They will pay all the taxes.  That, of course, is the situation that we find ourselves in today. When the top 49% pay for all of the government services being received by the bottom 51% we necessarily have a system in which there are winners and losers.  The winners, quite obviously, are those who are getting something for nothing.  In reality, of course, they are not getting the largess for nothing.  The largess is being paid for by the politically unprotected minority.  Conversely, and quite necessarily, the politically unprotected minority are the losers in this situation.  No matter what they do they cannot prevent having their money forcibly extracted from them and given to others, less 20% for government handling and pensions for career politicians.  We can therefore conclude that it is a logical necessity that all government programs that go beyond the scope of those which are biblically mandated to the state are examples of situations filled with winners and losers.  The winners get something for nothing.  The losers are victims of theft by majority vote.
It is not necessarily the case that government intervention and legislation will create winners and losers.   Government intervention into the economy that is designed to protect the three fundamental rights of all citizens never creates winners and losers.  When the government makes laws to protect each individual's right to his own life, his own freedom and his own property, nobody ever loses.  It is only when government endeavors to go beyond its legal and moral boundary that problems arise.  It is only when career politicians realize they can remain career politicians by pandering to the envy of the majority of the voters that wealth redistribution and theft by majority vote will take place.  If the government, and those who run it, limited itself to protecting our three civil rights we would not be having this discussion.
Obamacare is no different than other immoral government interventions into the marketplace.  It creates winners and losers.  Sometimes a person can be both a winner and a loser, depending upon the particular rule that is being enforce.  Still, everyone will be a net winner or a net loser under the entire body of rules and regulations enforced by Obamacare.  Consider some examples:
  • Although I am ecstatic about the fact that I can now have all of my pregnancy related expenses covered by insurance, the bottom line economic truth about this new state of affairs is that I am subsidizing women who get pregnant.  I pay a premium for a coverage I will never use.  That is a transfer of my wealth to those who get pregnant.  I am a loser.
  • Although I am ecstatic about the fact that I can now go to a psychiatrist and receive all sorts of mind-altering drugs to treat me for conditions that do not exist, the bottom line economic truth about this new state of affairs is that I am subsidizing people who use psychiatric services.  I pay a premium for coverage I will never use. That is a transfer of my wealth to nut jobs.  I am a loser.
  • In its never ending war on smokers, many insurance underwriters had a zero tolerance policy towards smoking.  As a result, any person who had used any tobacco product during the previous year was rated as a smoker and charged 20% more for their health insurance policy.  In a strange reversal of that policy which I, quite frankly, do not understand, Obamacare mandates that tobacco users can only be rated as tobacco users if they use tobacco of any type "four or more times per week over the past year."  As a result of this new rule, people who used to pay 20% more in premiums who are infrequent smokers find themselves on the winning side of the new rules.  All others are losers. 
  • People with pre-existing conditions were routinely excluded from health care insurance.  That makes good economic sense.  There is no point in signing up a customer who intends to immediately take much more in benefits than he will ever pay in premiums.  Once the word got out that an insurance company was signing up people with pre-existing conditions it would only be a matter of months, or a year or two at the most, before that insurance company would be bankrupt and out of business.  Under the terms of Obamacare all people must be insured when they apply for a policy, regardless of their present state of health.  Of course those people will still require the company to pay out enormous amounts in benefits. Who pays those benefits?  The other policy holders who see their premiums go up.  In this case those folks without pre-existing conditions are the losers and those folks with pre-existing conditions are the winners.
Whether Obamacare is deemed to be a success or not is entirely the result of how many winners and losers it creates.  Or, more precisely, what the ratio is between the winners and the losers.  When there are more winners than losers the program will be popular.  Witness the fact that our tax policy in the SDA is enormously popular.  Since 51% of the citizens get a free ride on the taxes of the 49% it is inevitable that the system will be popular.  There are more winners than losers in the federal income tax system.
What is the ratio of winners to losers in Obamacare?  Nobody knows.  It will take time to sort things out and see who wins and who loses.  It is possible that the majority of the citizens of the SDA could end up being losers and the rules and regulations of Obamacare could remain popular.  In that case those who are real losers would either be losing relatively little, and therefore not care about it, or they could believe that their loss is some sort of moral high ground as they tell themselves how good they are for helping out the poor.  With human beings it is always impossible to predict in advance what might happen.  But one thing we can declare with absolute certainty is that under the terms of Obamacare there will be winners and there will be losers. That is an economically inescapable truth.  And our rulers wonder why the citizens of the SDA have become so polarized.  It is always going to be that way so long as there are winners and losers.  Carving up the stolen loot does not make for friendly relations.