Freedom Updates: January 26, 2006

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Freedom Updates: January 26, 2006

by Ari Armstrong

Salazar Crosses the Line

Is somebody putting something funny into Senator Ken Salazar's water? When he called James Dobson's Focus on the Family "the Antichrist of the world," that was just funny. I'm sure his staff didn't think so.

But, according to an article by Ann Imse published today by the Rocky Mountain News, Salazar said, "Clarence Thomas... I think is an abomination when you contrast him to the leadership and principles of someone like Thurgood Marshall."

An abomination? Clarence Thomas? Come on, Senator; keep at least a toenail attached to reality. What a horrible thing to say.

What does "abomination" mean? Oxford's English Dictionary explains that "abominable " comes from "ab homine," meaning "away from man, inhuman." The dictionary defines "abomination" as "An object that excites disgust and hatred; a thing detested or detestable" (fourth definition). Here's an early example of the word's use: "Fro him comethe out smoke and stynk and fuyr, and so moche Abhomynacioun, that unethe no man may there endure." The dictionary also notes that the Bible makes frequent use of the word.

So Senator Salazar has called a sitting Supreme Court justice an "abomination," an inhuman, disgusting thing. But by now Thomas has proven that he can take the vicious slanders of the left with grace. And Salazar is well on his way to proving that he wants to be a single-term senator.


Republicans Against Business

Dave Schultheis wants to "put the squeeze on employers." Schultheis is a Republican state representative. His wing of the Republican Party is anti-business, anti-individual rights, and anti-free market. It is profoundly protectionist. I mean, here's a Republican talking about putting the "squeeze on employers." What the hell?

Here's the complete quote, as reported by Alex Miller for the December 26 Vail Daily ("Surge from the south," page A6): "We need to put the squeeze on employers... The ski areas may not like that, the Mexican restaurants, some parts of agriculture. But it's a myth that no one else will do the work... We need to stop creating a slave class in the U.S. and ask these people to leave the country... We are a nation of laws, and if we don't like that, we need to change the laws, not ignore them... We only need one bomb to go off in Denver and we'll say 'gee, why didn't we do something about it?'"

Schultheis and I are agreed that the law needs to be changed. As I've argued, the current policy harms immigrants and threatens our security. Aside from that Schultheis is totally wrong.

The answer is not to make life harder for employers, drive up their costs, and impose more red tape and bureaucracy.

Schultheis is completely irresponsible in referring to people as a "slave class" who come to work here of their own free choice. If they're "slaves," then why do they have to be forced to leave? Schultheis sounds more like a campus radical socialist and anti-capitalist than a Republican legislator.


Thank Prohibitionists for Morales

Yet another South American country has turned further toward socialism. Thank the prohibitionists of North America for exacerbating the problem. Voters in Bolivia elected Evo Morales as president -- a man who praises Castro and has talked of nationalizing industries.

While I disapprove of the editorializing of the Associated Press, the following comment by Fiona Smith (published by the December 21 Rocky Mountain News) is exactly right: "The U.S.-led war on drugs inadvertently helped bring Morales to power. The battle against coca eradication that he led helped mobilize Indian organizations already angered by continuing poverty and political domination by a rich elite, feeding a broader political movement."

For a more detailed account of how the U.S. drug war empowers terrorists and socialists in Latin America, see the chapter by Mike Krause and Dave Kopel in The New Prohibition.

The fact that there are still people in the world who, "angered by continuing poverty," turn to socialism is a testament to the power of false ideology. Despite the fact that socialism has failed everywhere it's been tried and has impoverished entire regions and put millions in the grave, there are those who continue to wish for it.


Salzman's "Subsidies"

In his December 24 column for the Rocky Mountain News, Jason Salzman expresses the wish that the dailies would "[f]ind out how much Colorado taxpayers subsidize Wal-Mart in the form of health insurance and services for its underpaid workers."

But no additional work is necessary: the answer to Salzman's question is obviously zero. A subsidy is a payment of money taken by force from taxpayers and given directly to a business. For example, Colorado's Economic Development Commission distributes subsidies, despite the state Constitution's prohibition of the practice.

Salzman is not talking about business subsidies at all. Instead, he is arguing that, because Wal-Mart allegedly pays its workers too little, some of these workers therefore accept welfare benefits. I do believe that's a problem, because I believe welfare (as opposed to voluntary charity) is by its nature illegitimate and a violation of rights. But such welfare subsidizes individuals, not Wal-Mart.

Salzman's sentiment is what's behind the push to force Wal-Mart to increase its benefits packages to workers. The argument, essentially, is that, because there is welfare, therefore there should also be direct state planning of businesses.

But wages are determined by supply and demand, and primarily by the productivity of workers. People agree to work for Wal-Mart by free choice. If they could make more money elsewhere, they would presumably do so. If they wish to improve their skills, become more productive, and thereby earn higher wages, they are free to put in the effort to do so. Efforts to coercively increase benefits packages beyond market levels only have the effect of hurting business, raising prices, and causing unemployment.

Of course, if people didn't pay taxes to cover welfare benefits (which consume vast resources), they'd have more money to purchase their own health care and other goods and services. The only way to increase real wages is to increase productivity by increasing the formation of capital. The welfare-interventionist state wastes resources and thus slows down the formation of capital and the growth of wages.


Socialized Medicine

Ponder the following comment by Paul Krugman (published in the December 28 Denver Post): "Eventually, we'll have to accept the fact that there's no magic in the private sector, and that health care -- including the decision about what treatment is provided -- is a public responsibility."

Clearly the left is moving to socialize medicine this decade. (If Hillary Clinton becomes the next president, the threat will be especially dangerous.) Krugman's comment is disgusting (I'm tempted to say abominable). He tries to undermine the "private sector" by suggesting that a belief in the efficacy of free markets is akin to a belief in magic. Of course, every systemic problem with medicine today is the direct result of government intervention in medicine. Krugman is explicit in his desire to collectivize medicine. It's bad enough when "we" -- meaning socialist planners -- are able to forcibly redistribute wealth to subsidize medical care. But Krugman's statement implies that socialist planners will decide not only what treatment is provided, but what treatment is not provided.

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