Sioux Sue

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The Oglala Sioux tribe is suing a number of beer companies because they blame those companies for chronic alcoholism and fetal alcohol syndrome among the American Indian tribe. They’re suing for US$500 million; I don’t know if that’s a total or per-company. The tribe is also suing four grog shops that are close to the reservation border.

Mr Plaintiff Lawyer, did beer company employees hold down Sioux people and pour alcohol down their throats, or did the Sioux people voluntarily swallow the grog? Oh, it was voluntary. Case dismissed.

Pre-hospital care emergency care, Oklahoma-style

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If what you see in the first video had been done by private service providers it would probably be possible to sue them, and at the very least you could change providers. Because they’re taxpayer funded they’ll probably get a slap with a wet bus ticket at worst, and most likely there are no private alternatives because they can’t compete with the “free” service. It looks like the fire and ambulance staff are guilty of medical malpractice, but no doubt the MacDoctor will be able to shed some light on this. Skip to 0:28.

This second video shows a much better response. Having the patient’s legs downhill will take blood away from the brain and other vital organs, but few non-medical personnel would think of that, let alone ones in a high stress situation. The police are using an AED, an automated external defibrillator, which measures the heart’s rhythm and delivers an appropriate electric shock if necessary.

I can never figure out why the Americans send a fire truck and an ambulance to medical emergencies. It would make sense if the patient had head stroke and needed to be hosed down :).

The Chain of Obedience

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Most of the chain of obedience is manufactured in state preschools, schools, and universities (that’s why Hitler outlawed homeschooling, a law which remains in force: German parents of today go to prison for teaching their own children and can lose custody). The chain of obedience is maintained by the mainstream media.

The nanny state bares its fangs

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In a short while Little Red Riding Hood knocked at the door, and walked in, saying, “Good morning, Grandmother, I have brought you eggs, butter and cake, and here is a bunch of flowers I gathered in the wood.” As she came nearer the bed she said, “What big ears you have, Grandmother.”

“All the better to hear you with, my dear.”

“What big eyes you have, Grandmother.”

“All the better to see you with, my dear.”

“But, Grandmother, what a big nose you have.”

“All the better to smell with, my dear.”

“But, Grandmother, what a big mouth you have.”

“All the better to eat you up with, my dear,” he said as he sprang at Little Red Riding Hood.

Some people think that the state is a bit like a kind granny and get quite a shock when they realise that it’s really a predator. Similarly, Stuff reports that people are unhappy because Christchurch City Council has hired a private investigator to see if people are living in red-stickered homes where residents have told to leave because the council believes that the homes are danger of being hit by rockfalls. Whether or not that danger is real or imminent is irrelevant, and what matters are the following issues:

  • The nanny state will not allow people to choose what risks to take, thereby assuming a role that only parents should have in relation to their children. Paternalism is another word for the council is doing.
  • The nanny state violates the property rights of home owners by forcing them to leave their dwellings.
  • When people do not comply with the orders of their masters the council bares its fangs and sends in a private investigator to gather evidence for prosecutions. Yes, occupying the home that you own can be a crime.
  • To add insult to injury, home owners are forced to pay rates (taxes) on the homes that they’re not allowed to enter.

A commonsense approach to this situation

Let people freely choose what risks to take and exercise their full property rights, which include the right to occupy without hindrance.

Let these property owners bear the full cost of rescue and medical treatment if a rockfall does occur – that’s what insurance is for. This is just, unlike the present system wherein you, as a taxpayer, are forced to bear the cost of decisions that other people make (cf, in the past private fire brigades were contracted to protect specific properties, and there’s no reason why that cannot work again).

The interesting thing is that such properties would be extremely expensive to insure, so many home owners would leave of their own free will. The free market would protect property owners and their would be no “need” for the nanny state to bare its fangs.

The state can only “protect” you by taking away your freedom and controlling you.


Irony at Occupy Auckland

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Occupy Auckland is an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street that is camped in Aotea Square and one evening I spent three hours there observing and photographing. This left me with many thoughts regarding the group and today I’d like to share a couple of ironies.

Irony #1: it is a group dominated by the far left, yet that group is using the products of capitalism to spread their message. E.g., I saw one person using a MacBook with webcam to broadcast their activities via Livestream. Perhaps they have forgotten that everything they love they owe to capitalism, and that only the profit motives drives individuals to provide such products to other individuals at affordable prices. In the Soviet empire high tech items were for the exclusive use of the ruling class, and in North Korea today the proles do not have access to the internet: both situations are a direct outcome of the ideology dominant in Occupy Auckland, yet I expect that the majority of the group would be appalled if they did not have access to the internet and the latest gadgets.

Irony #2: in the midst of an encampment seething with anticapitalists one of them approached me and asked if I’d like to buy two items that he had for sale :-).

Election Day

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Imagine that you’re a political prisoner in a Soviet gulag and you, along with your fellow captives, are given the option of voting for porridge or porridge with salt. Although the outcome of the election may make a slight difference to your comfort levels your jailers will still have absolute power and a monopoly of force, the election will not bring you freedom, your daily activities will still be unjustly controlled, you will still be unable to cross the border fence without permission, the products of your labour will continue to be stolen by your jailers, and essentially nothing will change. This is exactly the situation that arises in New Zealand triennially.

On that cheery note, I’m off to vote.

The Labour Party and the Minimum Wage

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Labour Party minimum wage

Perhaps you’ve seen this poster around town. The Labour Party claims to be the friend of workers, but increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour will in fact harm workers, especially the low-paid, low-skilled people that Labour claims to support. How so? Art Carden explains this well:

People in the [free] market can compete on many different margins. They can compete by offering higher productivity, or they can compete by offering better products. Perhaps most importantly, people can compete by offering lower prices. In the case of laborers, this often means offering their services at a lower wage.

Anyone who has taken an introductory economics course is familiar with the idea that a minimum wage leads to a reduction in the demand for labor and an increase in the supply of labor [unemployment] in the relevant market — usually, the market for low-skill workers. The minimum wage removes the ability of some workers to compete by accepting lower wages and shuts them out of the labor force. As a result, it reduces job opportunities for these workers. A minimum wage breaks the hinges on the door of opportunity.

However, there are additional, hidden costs of these interventions, which are more difficult to detect but perhaps more insidious. For example, one effect of a minimum wage is to reduce the availability of on-the-job training, since more resources are required simply to hire and retain a workforce. And further interventions in the labor market (for example, safety regulations and payroll taxes) make it still more costly to employ labor. These burdens together reduce a firm’s willingness to hire laborers and — in the long run — must reduce the number of opportunities for those laborers to acquire valuable job skills. Far from increasing opportunities for the working poor, a minimum wage actually restricts their mobility.
Firms faced with minimum wage laws often substitute skilled for unskilled labor. In a report for the Show-Me Institute, labor economist David Neumark offers an illustrative example: Suppose that a job can be done by either three unskilled workers or two skilled workers. If the unskilled wage is $5 per hour and the skilled wage is $8 per hour, the firm will use unskilled labor and produce the output at a cost of $15. However, if we impose a minimum wage to $6 per hour, the firm will instead use two skilled workers and produce for $16 as opposed to the $18 cost of using unskilled workers. In the “official data” this shows up as a small job loss — in this case, only one job — but we see an increase in average wages to eight dollars per hour in spite of the fact that the least skilled workers are now unemployed.

In summary, minimum wage laws reduce the employment of the very people that the law-makers claim to be helping.

Governments always talk about reducing the number of people who have been on long-term welfare. Presently most beneficiaries can earn $80 per week before tax (some $100) without losing welfare and if those people could offer their services at any price they’d be able to get a foot into the labour market. It’s hard to move from long-term unemployment to employment – partly because business people are understandably wary of hiring someone who has been out of work for a long time – and being able to offer one’s services at a free market price would make this transition easier: e.g., the beneficiaries who wanted to work would be able to prove to employers that they were good workers and worth a higher-paid job¹. I know people who are disabled and want to work but cannot get a job because their productivity is less than the minimum wage: if an employer looked at such a person and said “Hmm, what he can produce in an hour I can sell for $4. Cost of materials is $1, so if pay him $2 per hour I’ll still be making a profit”². $2 per hour isn’t much, but some people would prefer that and the satisfaction of partial independence over TV-watching.

Shops can compete by offering lower prices, so why are workers not allowed to compete in the same way?

A commonsense approach to this situation

Employment will increase if minimum wage laws are repealed, especially the employment of blue collar workers, thereby reducing the cost of welfare (which is paid by taxpayers). The cost of running a business will go down, which means that companies will be able to sell their goods at lower prices. They will do so in order to remain competitive, and everyone will benefit from that.

1. If beneficiaries earn more than $80/$100 the penalties in the form of benefit abatements (lost welfare) are severe. If the minimum wage law was repealed these penalties would in fact limit the earnings of beneficiaries because potential employers would offer no more than $80/$100 per week as a result of knowing that beneficiaries don’t want to earn more (as always, government interference in the free market distorts prices). Modifying the abatement rules would be a simple matter.

Why do governments bleat about getting people off welfare while maintaining abatement rules that penalise those who attempt to do what the government claims to desire? Perhaps governments are stupid. Perhaps governments like having a bunch of people dependent on them. Perhaps welfare is a make-work scheme for government employees.

2. This calculation is only valid in a free society because I have not included the costs of complying with government regulations that presently apply to employment and production.


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