Tag Archives: Capitalism

Money Is Not The Root Of All Evil

“Money is the root of all evil.” How many times have you heard this phrase from someone?

There’s a number of reasons why people might feel this way, but none of the arguments amount to anything more than a logical fallacy. But let’s examine the different truths and psychological aspects of this sentiment.Burning Money

One reason for such a belief is from the idea of overt greed that is assumed to go with people who have money—one person, trying to collect it all, often at the expense of others. It’s a popular Hollywood storyline, but is it true?

It’s certainly consistent with dictators who take it all by force, but that’s usually one sociopath ruling over many victims. And I say they’re sociopaths, because they are often committing genocide, or at least routinely kill their ideological components.

But applying that sentiment to CEO’s and other rich people in a free country is usually just the product of jealousy and ignorance. Firstly, America’s richest make their money by providing a product the rest of us voluntarily buy—not compelled to buy, such as the services offered by a tyrant. But also, the rich have historically been quite charitable. And this makes perfect sense.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Humans have two qualities that are fairly consistent among all of us—competitiveness and empathy.  Sociopaths lack empathy, but as near as I can tell, there is no word for people who lack a competitive spirit, but I suppose they could be called competipaths for the sake of our discussion. It is believed sociopaths make up a mere 4% of the population, but who knows about competipaths? No such research exists.

But nonetheless, I highly doubt they’re in greater numbers. Competition fuels adrenaline and provides a rush, leading us to strive to earn more. If you have ever competed in a sports activity and were upset about losing, or mad that a coworker earned more than you, you have a competitive spirit. But even if you’re very competitive, at some point empathy causes us to want to help those when we can.

Many of us want to win, but we don’t necessarily want others to lose. Ever watch two fighters in the UFC’s octagon beat each other to a pulp, then hug each other when the match is over? Then you’ve witnessed what I’m referring to.

While we have an innate self-preservation instinct that keeps most of us from being too giving, some people don’t even seem to have that; exhausting themselves and their resources trying to solve other people’s problems.

Rich people are not a different species, they just have more drive, luck, intellect, or any combination of the three. Some are sociopaths and will never be charitable, but the rich are no more likely to be sociopaths than the poor—they’re just more successful.

But moving from the psychology aspect to the facts, the truth is that money is nothing more than an instrument of trade. If we go back to a time without money, when the barter system would have been the norm, imagine you built wooden widgets from an oak tree you’ve chopped down out of the oak forest in your back yard. Your neighbor, however, builds stone gadgets carved out of rocks from a mountainside on his property.

Now imagine you find that you have a need for a gadget, and because you have an oak forest, you have an abundance of widgets you’ve made. So you go to your neighbor and offer him one of your widgets for one of his gadgets. If he has a need for a widget, transaction complete—all is well.

Bartering
Bartering

But what if you break your gadget? So you ask your neighbor if he’ll swap again, but you’re neighbor’s widget is still fully functional, and he has no need for another. Now you’re screwed if you have nothing else to offer him, and this is essentially how money was born.

Because your neighbor has no need for another widget, your widget has no value for him, but money is a universally accepted instrument of trade that has universal value to everyone.

In truth, money only has value because we all agree to it, which is an interesting thought in its own right. Some want us to return to the gold standard, but the fact is that gold only has value because we agree to it too. If I were to somehow stumble upon a lode of 50,000 tons of gold, or gold somehow otherwise became undesirable, gold’s value would plummet tremendously.

The reality is that the only things that will always have value are air, food, and water, because we need them for life.

But back to the subject of money. Now that we understand it’s an instrument of trade, let’s get back to the greed aspect.

I know that many in the religious community take issue with evolution, but I think most people understand the concept well enough, and accept the basic principle that animals have evolved. It’s not like we don’t have an abundance of proof. There are new species of animal discovered often, and a significantly great number of extinct species as well. Not to mention, DNA indicates we’re all descendents of what scientists call LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor).

The basic concept behind evolution is the advancement of our species, which means every life form that has ever existed, has instilled within its DNA a need to advance itself. So people think that greed is a uniquely human trait, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a completely natural trait in all living things, some more complex than others.

Certain trees grow taller than those around them so they can “steal” the sunlight from shorter plant life. My cats hiss at each other when one tries to eat the other’s food. Studies found that Capuchin monkeys would get mad when they felt they weren’t given their fair share. (See video above) But as long as they were given enough food to survive, why be greedy?

Many people want to believe that this monkey experiment showed a desire for fair share, effectively arguing the monkeys are socialist. But this is actually quite wrong. Yes they wanted a fair share, but the monkeys don’t want other monkeys who didn’t do anything to get free treats, and they certainly aren’t interested in giving the treats away to welfare monkeys. They want paid for the work they did and enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Those monkeys are capitalists.

So money isn’t the root of all evil, it’s an instrument of trade for people who are willing to produce and be a productive part of society. It’s the statists who exhibit traits we would sometimes call evil, they want money for what they didn’t do. If anything is unfair, it’s that.

 

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Production vs Sales. Let’s redirect our focus for a stronger America

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Read any want ad section and you will notice one thing is abundantly clear. A predominance of the jobs available in the United States are in the field of sales & marketing. This phenomenon has always troubled me.

A salesperson is selling a product, but someone has to produce that product, a process that is surely more labor intensive than selling it. So how can it be that we always need more sales people? Because the production jobs are going away.

I’ll briefly point out that many sales positions are commissioned, so companies often over-hire because they don’t really have to pay salespeople unless they do well. They’re effectively throwing ten darts at once in hopes of hitting a bull’s-eye instead of putting the effort in to being a better dart thrower. It’s both lazy and ineffective. You often damage your brand more than improving your actual sales.

But while advertising is important, it should always play second fiddle to production, let me give an example.

If I were to offer you the car of your choice, cost-no-object, what would it be? All over the world, many of you would choose a Ferrari. Yet, have any of you ever seen a Ferrari television or magazine ad? Likely not.

2014 LaFerrari from Ferrari
2014 LaFerrari from Ferrari

Yet, millions of you would buy one tomorrow if you could afford it, despite never being faced with a single advertisement from them. Aside from their racing efforts and emails, Ferrari doesn’t really do much marketing. People wear Ferrari-logoed clothing and put up Ferrari posters, essentially marketing Ferrari for free. This is genius! You pay Ferrari for the privilege of marketing their stuff, instead of them paying someone to market it for them.

So how is it possible that one of the most desired and recognized objects on the planet does not need to be sold? Because it sells itself, just look at it!

A beautiful design, flawless engineering, a sound that is mechanically orgasmic, and a palpable passion ooze from these machines. This quick video, one of their few actual marketing efforts which will never air on TV, but has been shared (for free) at the time of this posting 5 million times, should illustrate my point.
The lesson here is pretty clear. Too often you see business owners thinking that their issues stem from poor salesmanship instead of poor craftsmanship.

There are certainly bad salespeople, and some turnover should be expected, but marketing in general seems to be where companies want to spend their money instead of research, development, and production. I see (and occasionally have worked for) companies who have incredibly outdated equipment, inefficient internal processes, and products of inferior quality that could be easily updated, but they’ve emptied their bank account on advertising instead.

We’ve all heard the story of The Goose that laid the Golden Egg, this is exactly what many companies are doing. Profit-margin is the holy grail these folks are after, but this is how they kill the goose.

A company with a great reputation will hunt for a more cheaply made product, often in China, and then hope through marketing they can continue holding on to their market share. But once you gut that goose, and people find out you used a respected name to market an inferior product; profit margins may remain high, but overall profits will start to plummet as people take their business elsewhere.

For instance, let’s look at Irwin tools. You may have never heard of Irwin, but you’ve certainly heard of Vise-Grips, and they’re the makers of them. Since 1921, they have been making these pliers that just about every person has in their “tool drawer” at home. Irwin Vise Grips have been a superior quality hand tool for nearly a century, but no more. Irwin moved them to China in recent years as they hunt for greater profit margin.

As a libertarian, I certainly want companies to have the freedom to build wherever they wish to, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s stupid.

These companies are hoping most people won’t notice the loss in quality and continue paying a premium price, but consumers who use products are pretty good at noticing when a product’s quality has been diminished, and it’s insulting. Believe me, I notice the difference—the new Vise-Grips are clearly inferior.

So these days, I don’t mind buying a cheap $5 pair from the local Harbor Freight, because I know they’re probably the same plier at this point, and I’m not paying extra for the Irwin name if I’m not going to get the legendary Irwin quality.

They’re now just another cheap Chinese version no different from all the other copies out there, there’s a good chance they all come from the same factory—China doesn’t exactly believe in intellectual property. We are talking about a country that brazenly opened up an Apple Store that wasn’t actually affiliated with Apple in any way. So it’s not unlikely that the factory Irwin commissioned to make their pliers isn’t selling the exact same pliers to others, literally giving Irwin’s design away to someone Irwin didn’t sell it to.zhuhai-iphone-store[2]

I want to point out that there can be no doubt, with labor unions, overbearing regulations, the highest corporate tax rate on Earth, and the ever-increasing cost of living in the United States thanks to a poor economy, the costs of building in the U.S.A. are ruining our chances of keeping these jobs. Irwin is not completely to blame here.

But if the American people demanded our government ease regulations, get rid of the corporate tax rate (they can’t vote, so why should they be taxed?), and make the concept of manufacturing in the United States more viable again, maybe the want ads will be looking for more than just the next Ron Popeil, and real jobs and quality products will again be a part of the American economy.

Job Emigration – Place Blame Where It Belongs

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

This past election, Barrack Obama and the DNC-loyals were attacking Mitt Romney and other business people for shipping jobs overseas. Like most patriotic Americans, it upsets me to see jobs leave the United States as well. But was this really a fair criticism of business owners?

No FartingAs a former entrepreneur myself, let me give you an analogy. This criticism is akin to farting while sitting next to me, then getting upset when I leave because you’ve made the room smell like three-month-old milk and despair.

If we were a statist nation like former Russia, China, Cuba, etc., businesses would exist to serve the state; something many on the left seem to wish were the case here—you know, the people who supported millionaire capitalist Michael Moore by attending his movies bashing capitalism yet fail to see the hypocrisy in that?

The reason I believe this idea is so ridiculous, is because despite my requests, not one of these people can name a statist nation whose people don’t live in absolute squalor. Note that Russia’s GDP has nearly quadrupled in the last 12 years, and they’re budding ideas on capitalism are still being ironed out. So I’ll be happy to consider statism a practical system of governance for maintaining quality of life and basic human rights when a successful example arises.

In our capitalist system however, businesses are the product of a risk an entrepreneur takes to offer a good or service to the public to make a living for themselves, as opposed to working at the behest of someone else. We all know that the greater the risk, the greater possibility for reward. This carrot on a stick is what makes entrepreneurs take such a risk.

Carrot On A StickSo to explain my flatulence analogy; America has the third highest corporate tax rate  on the planet. We also have one of the most intrusive regulatory networks as well, thanks to NHTSA, OSHA, the EPA, and other federal and local legislations and regulators. Add labor unions to that, which infect businesses like a cancer feeding off the host until the Hostess dies. All these roadblocks make America a very expensive place to do business. So how is it fair to blame people who leave America when we make it such an inhospitable place to do business?

Let’s ignore all the ideology for a moment and think about this skeptically and empathetically. What are some of the issues of doing business outside the United States?:

  • There are regulatory issues of your home country and the one you’re doing business in, requiring you to hire a plethora of compliance lawyers and staff just to make sure what you are doing is even legal.
  • Language barriers exist for nations that do not have English as their primary language.
  • Shipping, tariffs, and customs expenses increase.
  • Massive expenses in building a new facility and moving operations from a U.S. based plant to a foreign one.
  • Travel expenses increase for those headquartered in the United States that have to often visit overseas facilities.
  • Loss in quality assurances due to lack of direct oversight.

These are but a few issues I can think of off the top of my head; certainly there are many more. So if all these issues exist, why even do it? Because doing it is still more profitable than doing business here in the United States. Stop and think about that for a minute—let it fester in any liberty-minded bones you have in your body. If you’re like me, it should offend you to the core.

Because we are one of the richest nations in the world, American workers are not going to work for the pennies a day that some third world nations consider a reasonable salary, so if we intend to compete in the world market, you’d like to think our legislators would make every effort to overcome our higher wage demands by keeping corporate taxes and regulations as unobtrusive as possible so we can be competitive. Greater expenses make it more expensive to the consumer. Yet, during the election, the people like Mitt Romney were vilified as heartless rich bastards for attempting to rectify this.

I propose we start calling out those who want to bash the rich, playing the hero while doing it. This pure ignorance of economics, history, and logic is offensive. Our economy depends on people with money investing in American products and workers. But why would they when we treat them like dirt, tax them to hell and back, and regulate them like a dog on a choker chain dying to run ahead of its master?

Dog Pulling ON LeashIf you’ve ever been in the middle of a productive task and had someone interrupt to “help” you, only to slow you down and make matters worse, then you should inherently understand what government does to entrepreneurship every single day.

Unless we vote for liberty minded candidates, entrepreneurs will observe the basic physics principle of taking the path of least resistance. We have no one to blame but ourselves for electing and re-electing those who are content to push them away to pass “feel-good” legislation that is a product of jealousy as opposed to evidence based hypotheses. When emotion trumps logic, we all lose.

 

Great leaders make results, not excuses. Reagan v Obama

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

For many, an interest in politics, who our leaders are, and which political side we’ll choose to stand on is sparked by single events. For me, as a pre-teen adolescent, it was the Iran hostage situation. I could not fathom how one of the world’s two superpowers was allowing a little 3rd world country to hold our people hostage. It was troubling, and I detested Jimmy Carter for not sorting it out. To be fair to Carter; being so young, I was blissfully ignorant of the behind the scenes actions that were being attempted—all I saw was the big picture.

Carter Era Gas Shortage Sign
Carter Era Gas Shortage Sign

The long lines at gas pumps, thanks to Carter’s poor handling of OPEC, were hurting adults trying to make a living as well, but as a kid, I simply didn’t understand economic issues yet, so it didn’t really affect me like the Iran hostage situation. As we all know, Ronald Reagan took office, and our hostages came home. From then on, I was a Reaganite.

One of the things that upset me this past election was the notion that the economy was still so horrible because of what Obama inherited. While we all mostly agree he did inherit a poor economy, four years later, is it really an acceptable excuse?

 As Reagan took office, he inherited a misery index of 20.76. It was the highest recorded misery index in history going back to that statistic’s inception in 1948—it hasn’t been to a higher level since either. Carter may have been a nice man and a brilliant scientist, but as a president, he failed miserably at maintaining America’s economic strength, much less growing it.

By comparison, Barack Obama inherited a misery index of 9.65. Less than half of Carter’s benchmark. While I agree G.W. Bush’s handling of the economy at the end was poor, it was a far cry from the disaster Carter presided over.

So approaching the “Inherited a poor economy” argument, let’s see how Reagan and Obama handled what they inherited:

After four years under Reagan, the misery index improved from the aforementioned 20.76 to 11.81—a significant improvement. After four years of Obama, it went from 9.65 to a slightly worse 10.15. Reagan wins this battle; one point for the Gipper.

But let’s delve further. If we look at GDP numbers, at the end of the Carter administration, dividing our total GDP by our population, we have approximately $11,433 per person in 1979. After 1983, that number improved to $15,171; an improvement of 25%.

Now let’s look at Obama. In 2008, the average GDP per capita was $47,363. At the end of 2012, that number grew to $49,494; an improvement of 4.3%. Reagan wins again; two points for the Gipper.

1984 Election Results
1984 Election Results

All that being said, one of the fairest tests of a president in a democratically-elected contest is how he is judged by the people he governs during a reelection. After four years of Reagan, he resoundingly beat Walter Mondale 49 to 1 states—Minnesota the lone stand out. He won 525 electoral votes compared to 13 for Mondale, and a popular vote of 58.8% vs 40.6% (54,455,472 to 37,577,352 votes). This means that a Republican actually won the left-wing bastions of California and New York! It was the greatest election defeat in history.

Barack Obama against Mitt Romney on the other hand was 26 to 24 states; 332 to 206 electoral votes; 51.1% to 47.2% with 65,910,437 votes to 60,932,795. We’ll call that an easy Reagan victory as well—three to nil; the Gipper.

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan

It was a long time ago, but when questioned about the state of the economy, I don’t remember Reagan blaming Carter his complete first term; he was too busy making his case for the future. He lowered the top-tier tax rate from 70% to 28%, gave people their money back, and just as planned, the economy took off like a rocket. So well in fact, that we reduced the world’s superpower population by half as Russia crumbled while attempting to compete. It was capitalism versus communism; capitalism won.

So why am I promoting Ronald Reagan if I’m a libertarian? Because not only do I believe that the GOP should be the libertarian party, I believe Ronald Reagan was my generation’s closest thing to a libertarian president, and this excerpt from a 1975 interview with Reason Magazine should illustrate why:

If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.

Now, I can’t say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions. There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom or we will have tyranny by individuals. The strongest man on the block will run the neighborhood. We have government to ensure that we don’t each one of us have to carry a club to defend ourselves. But again, I stand on my statement that I think that libertarianism and conservatism are traveling the same path.

One of the constant knocks against Reagan by libertarians and liberals was his massive spending on defense—a criticism he fairly leveled at himself. But people seem to lose sight of the fact that for all of Reagan’s spending on defense, every succeeding president has put more troops in harm’s way than Reagan did. Contrary to belief, he avoided conflicts as well as any president could.

What he did do however, was ensure that America was deemed to be so powerful, that any nation endeavoring to threaten us would understand it would be assured destruction. And with the exception of Russia, it wouldn’t be mutual. He referred to it as peace through strength.

When America was founded, there were many superpowers—we weren’t yet even one of them. But by the end of 1988, in no small part thanks to Reagan, we were the only one left standing, and remain as the only one still today.

If you lead by example, others will follow. America was a leader 200+ years ago in adopting a principle of liberty, and as a result of our success, there are free nations all over the world who followed our lead; including the monarchies we rebelled against so many years ago. Sadly, they may never give us credit for inspiring them, but true greatness doesn’t need acknowledgement, it’s content in the knowledge it is great.

 

Villainy is in the eye of the beholder: The myth of the heartless capitalist

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

If I am to believe the leftist view of us conservatives, we are clearly the most heartless bastards that ever walked the face of the Earth. I know in my heart who I am; I love my family, friends, and mankind as much as the next person. I’ve done my share of selfless acts, solely for the rewards of virtue—I am not an evil man. So I refuse to believe that I am the second coming of Satan because I’m a free-market capitalist.

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney was vilified for saying, “I like to fire people,” but as is all too common, the context was usually missing from quotations of that speech. Only a stone-cold psychopath derives enjoyment from firing people. Romney’s charitable work rules that out if we apply logical evidence-based thought.

Often when people get fired, they have a hard time looking outside themselves at the situations surrounding the termination. I think most people have experienced coworkers whom they felt should be fired. Yet ask anyone who was fired if they feel it was justified, they will almost universally say no. Clearly, there’s a divide between how we perceive ourselves versus how we are perceived by others. We have a hard time accepting criticism, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to support it.

I could agree that it would be heartless to fire someone if we assume that person is incapable of ever finding another job, but we know that is completely untrue. Just as the saying goes that time heals all wounds, you’ll find that more often than not, these “professional divorces” worked out well for both parties in time. The company usually finds a more suitable employee, and the former employee often finds a more rewarding job as well.

Rarely is there a case where an employer and an employee are professional soul mates, and for no good reason, the employer decides to make a change for farts and giggles. Most people who get fired earned it through a lack of effort, poor attitude, sub-par performance, or immoral behavior. The proverbial model employee who gets fired at the whim of a heartless business executive is usually just the musings of Hollywood fiction writers and politicians with a statist agenda.

First and foremost, businesses exist purely as a source of income for the founder; a person who didn’t want to work for someone else, so they went into business for themselves. To believe business owners decided to start a corporation just so they could provide another random person some place to work is a rather silly notion. If they could get by without employees, they would and should.

From there, businesses succeed because they put the right people in the right positions to best grow their corporation. I know that the maintenance guy works his bedonkadonk off; he’s an honorable man. But let’s not make the fantastic assumption that he could step into the role of CEO and double the company profits with his notions of giving everyone a $5 an hour raise and spending $20,000 on a new floor polisher.

It’s not in a corporation’s best interest to fire the worker generating the greatest return on their investment. There are supreme idiots at the management level who make really poor decisions like that, but it’s certainly not the norm, or companies across the nation would be failing ad nauseam.

Stock Market DropA purely scientific and mathematical approach to employees is to understand that for a corporation, employees are simply an investment. A company spends money on a worker in hopes that worker generates more income than they take away. So think of employees as stocks and CEO’s as investors. Success depends on their ability to pick winners and sell off the losers.

Let’s assume for a minute that CEO’s adhered to the ideas of the left. Imagine a one-person company that does home restorations. They start getting good word of mouth advertising, orders pile up, and so they have to hire someone to help. That person arrives eager to work, but after the first day, he’s nailed his hand to the wall, painted a door shut, accidentally drilled through the plumbing causing a leak, and severed some wiring which blew out the circuit breaker panel. The employer has two options: fire him and hope the next hiree is better, or keep him and hope the business survives and he doesn’t accidentally kill everyone. I know that’s an exaggerated example, but the underlying truth is still the same that some employees are simply a liability, not an asset.

According to the anti-capitalist zealots, firing him is heartless and cruel. But from my perspective, him asking an employer to continue paying him even though he’s a huge loss and liability is heartless and cruel. But one should not hold their breath for a bad employee to emulate a disgraced samurai and fire themself in an act of corporate hari-kari; that requires honor unheard of these days.

So what about Mitt Romney? Venture capitalists (VCs) like him find dying companies and buy them for pennies on the dollar in hopes of righting the ship and selling them for dollars on the dollar. If they didn’t fire people, cut dead weight, and try to make better investments, everyone in that organization would lose their jobs. If the VC’s succeed however, they return a company to health, and everyone but those who were fired is saved. It may not be ideal for everyone, but it’s better than the alternative.

Coronary artery bypass surgery
Coronary artery bypass surgery

Think of venture capitalists as surgeons. To the uninformed who walked in on a surgery, it would appear the surgeon was a heartless murderer cutting someone to bits. But if they know the whole story, they understand that while plunging a scalpel into someone’s chest is usually a bad thing and that the patient will surely be weakened and sore for a while, the these painful and dangerous procedures save lives.

In these instances, firing 20% of the staff that are under-performing saves the other 80% from being dragged down with them. What the anti-capitalists call heartless, I call a painful, but life saving procedure. As the left attempt to decry successful capitalists, clear thinking Americans should understand that everyone who has a stable job can thank a successful capitalist.

Involuntary Collusion: A Regulation Even This Libertarian Can Embrace

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Libertarians and capitalists rightfully despise regulations in a free market since it erodes, thwarts, and deincentivizes innovation. But one thing that has always caused me to wrestle with my non-regulation-is-king beliefs is the concept of regulating involuntary collusion. I’m coining the phrase mind you, so don’t bother Googling it.

Companies are supposed to compete with one another by either lowering prices, increasing quality, or both—each one taking a unique approach to the same end. If they are free to innovate, the consumers win as companies go to war on the gridiron of commerce.  Anyone who has ever ran faster than the person next to them, solely because that person was running faster than them, knows that competition yields greater performance.Foot Race

Now let’s talk about collusion. It is illegal for business heads to get together and agree to cooperate in some way as to benefit themselves at the expense of the consumer or worker.

For instance, NFL team owners could not collectively decide that they are paying the players too much and all agree to cut payroll across the board. Nor could they decide they don’t consider game jersey profits high enough and agree to bump the price 10% across the board. I’m not going to go into the  history of collusion, but suffice it to say that it violates the concept of free market capitalism because it’s the opposite of competition; it’s cooperation.

The astute of you will notice I used the word collectively that last paragraph. So you might ask why it’s OK for employees to collectively bargain? It is certainly legalized collusion after all. Short answer—I have no %$#&ing idea why it’s allowed. I covered this in my article Why is this even legal? so I won’t go into it here.Rally Held To Stand In Solidarity With Union Workers Across The Country

Now that we understand what a free market is supposed to be and what collusion is, what do I mean by involuntary collusion?

Free market capitalism allows for consumers who don’t like what one company is doing, to find another that doesn’t engage in that practice. However, in industry there exists the term Industry Standards which threaten this principle. Sometimes it just refers to a best practice where years of competing have brought all companies to a similar ultimate conclusion. For instance: tool companies like Mac or Snap-On who give a lifetime warranty on their tools because their competition is doing it and they need to keep up. Since you can’t “one-up” a lifetime warranty, it just becomes an industry standard best practice. But other times it involves companies doing something that the public despises, yet because all companies do it, consumers can no longer avoid the practice.

A perfect example of government regulating this is the National Do-Not-Call List. Companies found that automated telemarketing was cheap, easy, and effective. Even though consumers hated these robo-calls, many corporations adopted this practice leaving consumers without the ability to avoid it. So we the people had to look to government to make them stop.

In these situations, companies all do the same thing, just as they would be if they were colluding against the consumer, but they never agreed to it—it just happened involuntarily through corporate evolution.

Let me give a non-government example of how such legislation can be effective and important. In auto racing, weight is the enemy; therefore nothing is needlessly added to a car that would add weight, unless that thing generates more speed that overcomes the loss of speed from the added weight.

However, safety equipment doesn’t make a car go faster, the weight is a hindrance; it exists solely to protect the driver in an accident. So race series directors often must enact regulations that require such safety equipment be on the cars of all participants. Race teams are paid to win, so if you don’t force them all to comply, the ones who do, always lose to the teams who throw caution to the wind. The only way to get one team to comply and make life safe for their drivers is to require they all comply—leaving no one with a competitive advantage. Think of it as the governing body of racing protecting the rights to life of the driver.070812_dd_ww_IMG_6162[1]

So in the same vein, I do believe that because our country is based on free market capitalist principles, it’s important our government ensure the market is indeed free. It isn’t enough to know there are multiple companies in the marketplace—we must insure they are indeed competing with each other.

With this in mind, I feel it important to say that even as a libertarian and free market guy, I am 100% behind the new laws in six states prohibiting employers from requiring employees to disclose personal online passwords and data. Companies are hiring you for your ability to work. Whether you like to bathe in peanut oil and play with Barbies while watching Big Bang Theory reruns on your own time has no consequence on your ability to enter data into a computer. What you do in the privacy of your own home or amongst friends is none of their business.

My right to privacy is directly linked to my right to pursue happiness, something our Declaration of Independence says I was born with, and my government has a duty to protect.

Businesses are supposed to succeed by appealing to consumers, not by collectively taking advantage of them. We’ve seen what happens when we allow companies to collude by watching business tycoons past. It was anything but good for the people, the workers, or the economy—it becomes, in effect, a conglomerate monopoly.

Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D Rockefeller
Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D Rockefeller

So while I want us to deregulate on a massive scale that would cause Republicans and Democrats alike to shiver from the cold harshness of liberty, I do think lawmakers would be well served to find instances where companies have adopted an industry standard where by which businesses are no longer competing; unwittingly or not, against the consumer, and then quash it accordingly. The strength of our economy and our liberty depend on it.

It’s spelled F-O-X News. Enough With The Hate, It’s Pathetic

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

One thing that irritates me like pepper spray on my nether regions is when people use the term “Faux News” to describe Fox News. I’m not a dog being led around by the News Corp leash; I get my news from a number of sources. I use Google Reader with feeds from approximately 40 different outlets focused on different themes that are generally news or science based. As someone who prides himself on exercising proper skepticism, I feel it is important to be quite diverse in gathering information. So I look for numerous sources, and then do my best to weed out the ones who prove to be less than honest. I would never recommend someone getting all their news from one source.Fox News

There are a couple of issues on the “Faux News” front that annoy me in particular. The first being that people often don’t seem to differentiate opinion from hard news.

On Fox for instance, Bill O’Reilly, The Five, Red Eye, and others are opinion, while Brett Baier, Shep Smith, and others are hard news. The hard news people just bring you the stories and facts. Opinion however, is people interpreting those facts and providing analysis of what they presume those facts mean.

Opinion journalists therefore are often prone to spin and distort things in a light that is favorable to their ideals. You’re a fool if you think CNN, MSNBC, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and the networks don’t spin too. That’s just what opinion journalists do. But you can’t rightfully attack a network based on the opinions of one panelist. That’s like attacking the NFL because of what Mike Vick did. If Piers Morgan or Sean Hannity misspeak in some way, attack them, not their networks as a whole, because I guarantee there are others in their organization that are nothing like them.

Fox, MSNBC, CNN and the networks provide plenty of hard news that is good and factual. The charges that Fox lies are generally from people who just don’t agree with the opinions of the op-ed talent, and can rarely cite examples where the hard news people blatantly lied. Opinions, by definition, do not have a right or wrong answer. If you don’t like the opinions of the analyst, then don’t watch, but insulting them because they don’t agree with you is childish and pathetic.

The problem with hard news, is that it is often boring to people. News agencies have been delivering hard news for years, but once opinion programs started picking up entertaining talent, people preferred that over just a boring rendition of the facts. Human nature seems to be that most of us like hearing from people we think are similar to us because we trust those people more.

Jon StewartSo while some think opinion is bad because it distorts facts, the truth is that it gets more people interested in the news who otherwise wouldn’t be. People like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and Greg Gutfeld bring news with humor in such a way that younger crowds who would never watch hard news all of a sudden find themselves caring about the issues of the day. The more people learn, the better off we all are. We didn’t get to the top of the food chain by being ignorant.

So being the free-market capitalist I am, I love that the news has evolved to meet the consumer’s wants, instead of making us suffer through boring anchors of old who are just as likely to put me to sleep as they are to pique my interest. More importantly, I’m happy we have freedom of the press so left-leaning folks can watch MSNBC and I can watch Fox.

The other problem I have with the Faux News folks, is they’re not only insulting Fox, but they’re insulting everyone who watches it. Being a Libertarian, I love that Fox allows people like John Stossel, Greg Gutfeld, and Judge Napolitano to have a voice. Most other news media often ignore libertarians, yet Fox kills in ratings because it provides information to non-left-wing people like me that we would otherwise not get.Greg Gutfeld

To me, it’s said with the same hate and ignorance used by racists, sexists, and other hate groups. I would almost never watch MSNBC because of their statist bias, but I don’t insult them for it. If the Michael Moores and Janene Garafolos of America want a news program to watch, MSNBC is there for those people; more power to them.

The bottom line is that America is too often a nation of haters. Hip-hop music lovers call people who like country music inbred. Rock lovers call people who like rap music thugs. Conservatives call leftists commies; the left call conservatives greedy bastards. Just about everyone calls libertarians anarchists or potheads, of which I am neither. The intent behind these insults is to demean those different from you, which is no different from all the racial, homophobic, or sexist epithets people used in the past.

Piers MorganIf you feel the need to insult someone who is different from you or has a different opinion than you, you are the problem in my opinion, and it’s time to grow up. America’s freedom and free markets guarantee that no matter what you like in this world, as long as it doesn’t threaten someone’s rights, you have a right to consume it or sell it. The left would be furious if people like me tried to get MSNBC off the air, yet they’ll sing it from the mountain tops that Fox lies, and should be shut down.

I’ve always said, if you can’t win, don’t bemoan your competition, motivate yourself to be better. If you find yourself on the losing end, the problem isn’t your competition; it’s you. So until the other networks start beating Fox, maybe they need to look in the mirror and see what’s wrong with them that people don’t care for their message as much. But to sling insults and demand the competition be shut down, while it would make Hugo Chavez proud, has never been, nor should ever be the American way.

So you watch yours, I’ll watch mine, and let’s stop insulting people because they differ from you. The beauty of America lies in our differences, not the people who like to attack us for being different. We all know racism and sexism are bad, but it’s time hate in general be seen for the unhealthy emotion that it is.