Tag Archives: free market

Energy Independence—Let’s “Nuke” America!

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

Politicians on both sides of the aisle stump on the promise of working toward energy independence, yet will not advocate for nuclear power—an energy source so vast, that if you filled four football fields with 55-gallon drums of oil, you’d only need one shot glass of fuel converted into energy by nuclear power to match burning all that oil in energy production. The biggest reason for this is what I will call the “Airplane Principle.”

We’ve almost all heard that statistically speaking, air travel is significantly safer than travel by car. For those who haven’t heard this, or are not sure why people say it, allow me to explain. This article citing an NHTSA study shows that the odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident are 1:98, but for airplanes, a mere 1:7,178—seventy-three times less likely. Yet, many more people are afraid to fly than drive despite the evidence that it is overwhelmingly safer.

So why is this? When things go wrong on a car, it can be very survivable; you often just pull to the side of the road and call a tow truck. When things go wrong with an airplane however, you’re liable to fall out of the sky—an event which likely ends in death—a much more terrifying event. I suspect fear of heights, a common phobia, doesn’t help either.

With nuclear energy, the stories of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and the recent Fukushima disaster continue to strike a similar irrational fear in people as they recall images from 1983’s The Day After. While it’s true that nuclear energy is derived ultimately the same way as the release of energy from the hydrogen-bombs dropped on Japan to end World War II, we must not associate death and destruction with nuclear energy. Yes, it could go horribly wrong, but history suggests it almost never does.

Chernobyl Reactor DIsaster
Chernobyl Reactor DIsaster

Here are a few facts to help you evaluate nuclear energy on its merits.

  • Nuclear energy is not limitless, but it will seem like it. For instance, the US military employs submarines that are powered by nuclear reactors. These are very large vessels that would otherwise be powered by thousand of tons of diesel fuel in their lifetime. These nuclear submarines have an approximate 30-year lifespan, and during that time, they will never get refueled. Imagine filling up your car when you drive it off the showroom floor, then never having to refuel it until 2044!
  • This article from MIT points out that if you converted one atom of hydrogen to energy via combustion, it produces 1.0 electron-volt (eV). One atom of carbon under combustion produces 1.4 eV. One atom of uranium converted to energy via nuclear fission? 210,000,000 eV. (No, that is not a typographical error). They also point out that a fossil fuel power plant will produce one million more times waste and consume a million-fold more fuel than nuclear. Please click the link above for many more staggering facts—it is worth the read.
  • During the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear disaster in the history of nuclear energy, resulted in an initial two deaths during the explosion, and an additional 28 deaths due to acute radiation poisoning from the clean up effort afterwards. An increase in the region of 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer have been reported, but it is also known that the screening process for such cancer, having been vastly improved, may be a significant reason for increased numbers of the disease which while still capable of being deadly, is often treatable.
  • During the Three Mile Island disaster, it is reported that “there were no injuries or adverse health effects from the Three Mile Island accident.” Yet people continue to think of it as a disaster instead of just an ultimately what it really was, an innocuous failure.
  • During the Fukushima disaster, while 19,000 people were killed by the tsunami that wreaked havoc on the nuclear plant located there, the nuclear plant killed no one—its fail-safes having largely done their job. Despite the media’s constant focus on the nuclear plant, the killer was mother nature.
  • From 2006 to 2012, there were 375 people killed mining for coal alone. That means that in a seven-year span, 12.5 times more people were killed bringing coal energy to market compared to a 28-year span of bringing nuclear energy to market. Specifically, a worker is 4,000 times more likely per kilowatt-hour, to die bringing coal to market, than nuclear energy.
  • The reactors used at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima were all outdated reactors. The Chernobyl reactor, a relic of the communist Russian government at the time, which was infamous for its poor quality products. The reactor’s shortcomings were so vast that it would be laughable if it had not resulted in so many deaths, and affected the livelihoods of many more. As such, it seems almost unfair to use it in an argument against nuclear energy—no one in this modern era would build such a reactor.
  • Burning coal, oil, gas, and other carbon-based fuels produces carbon dioxide, something that by all accounts is deemed bad for the atmosphere—global warming or just pollution-wise. Nuclear reactors however produce water vapor, and an incredibly low amount of radioactive waste that has been safely stored for decades without incident.

    Nuclear Power Plant Emits Only Water Vapor
    Nuclear Power Plant Emits Only Water Vapor
  • In a recent 12-month period from October 2012 to October 2013, solar power produced only 8.6 megawatt-hours of energy (0.21% of America’s usage). This means we would have to take all the solar panels in the United States and multiply them by 476 times to convert to a fully solar-powered nation.
  • Wind power produced a more respectable 164terawatt-hours, which is still only 4.06%. We’d need twenty-five times more windmills around the country to rid ourselves of fossil fuels.

But here’s the catch with solar and wind, they’re all currently in locations where the wind or sun is most abundant. If the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, they don’t work. There’s no current “super-battery” for them to store energy for later. (Update from May, 2015, there is a super-battery in the works for this issue.) So multiplying them by twenty-five, in reality, is not as viable as the number suggests.

Wind Mill Farm
Wind Mill Farm

While I am a libertarian, and many Republicans generally support nuclear energy, many Democrats often do not. Although this is one issue Barack Obama has broken from his party and supported to his credit, I’ve always found this curious as Democrats claim to be the party of science, often painting Republicans out as flat-Earthers. So if it’s not the science, what is it that Democrats have against nuclear energy?

The environmentalist movement is largely composed of those who are anti-nuclear, and are also traditionally Democrats. Their party simply can’t afford to upset their base, nor do they want to. But the truth is, this is not a matter of opinion that should be subject to political agendas, this is science where there is only right and wrong. The film Pandora’s Promise breaks from this tradition following some prominent scientist/environmentalists who were anti-nuclear until they decided to do look at the science themselves. I highly encourage you to watch it.

Am I suggesting we abandoned renewable sources? Of course not. As money investors know, putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. Even the best solar cells only convert about 20% of the sun’s energy that hits them into electricity leaving significant room for improvement. But even if these technologies do improve (and they will), we cannot assume our energy needs will remain static as our population continues to grow. As such, we will likely still need alternative energy sources like nuclear.

Government must make it as easy as possible for nuclear technology to grow in a free market, by regulating based on science instead of fear. With the promising technology of thorium reactors, small modular reactors (SMR’s), and the older idea of breeder reactors, a reactor that reburns its spent fuel to avoid creating nuclear waste, that have been abandoned in large part due to the regulatory climate against them, America could be energy independent, or even start selling energy, if we got behind this great power source.

Much like most Americans feel about guns, we must have a great respect for nuclear instead of an irrational fear of it—our energy independence very likely depends on it.

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Let them be jerks! Deregulating the Heinous.

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

Imagine you’ve just left your local mom and pop hardware store and mom or pop treated you like an idiot because you didn’t know the difference between a ball peen versus a claw hammer. It happens all the time, right? We get bad service everywhere these days, and that’s part of life. How do we react to it? We don’t frequent that store again unless we absolutely have to.

Dick's Last Resort. The only restaurant famous for being rude. It's their thing.
Dick’s Last Resort. The only restaurant famous for being rude. It’s their thing.

So what actually transpires in this example? You have, in effect, fired that particular store. They work for you for a fee to make a living, and you’ve decided that you no longer wish them to do so. We often consider the firing of an employee a bad or immoral act if the person has committed no crime, but is this hypocrisy? Many of the same people who make such criticisms are the same people who lambaste a company for bad service, vowing never to return, to their friends.

So I want to go out on a bit of a blue-sky limb here with a unique proposal. There should be no regulations in the marketplace unless they fall under two basic parameters:

  • Laws that protect a corporation from violating a persons rights: These would be regulations against practices like dumping toxic waste; stealing intellectual property, patents, etc.; or laws preventing practices that risk the lives of patrons and employees alike not disclosed at the outset. For instance, people who change light bulbs on radio towers or people taking sky-diving lessons are certainly at risk, but they knew that before they agreed to do business together, not afterwards.
  • Laws that preserve competitive capitalism. Regulations such as anti-collusion and antitrust laws that ensure the marketplace remains competitive.

At first, this seems innocent enough, but when I outline what this potentially entails, you may think senility has overcome me. However, hear me out before you dismiss this off the cuff.

Laws that prevent discrimination, harassment, or any other behaviors commonly considered immoral may seem like the right thing to do, but as with any such laws they have unintended consequences.

One issue is that they mask a business owner’s true character, which may be one that you might avoid if they were allowed to be themselves. In doing so, we are affording a person you wouldn’t dream of doing business with greater success than they would get otherwise.

One look at the train wreck known as Amy’s Baking Company and their ensuing media meltdown after Gordon Ramsay had to walk away for the first time in the 100-episode history of Kitchen Nightmares is all it takes to see what free press, word of mouth, and social media can do to right a wronged marketplace of bottom feeders like this couple, and it’s happening without government intervention.

Imagine the New Black Panthers wanted to open up a “African-American Only” restaurant. Obviously I would not be allowed in, but would I want to? Even if the food is great, if the owners and customers are vehemently racist and really don’t like white people, then so be it. I think it’s morally wrong, but the government’s duty isn’t to legislate morality, it’s there to protect my rights—period. I’ll take my business elsewhere just like anyone else who would find this practice offensive.

Just as I never liked Augusta National‘s outdated racist/sexist policies of old, I never felt it was anyone’s right to dictate to them otherwise at the point of a gun, which is ultimately what government regulations are if taken to their ultimate conclusion.

But look what happened with Augusta. The press and people chastised them for being this way, and they eventually got sick of being hated by those of us who actually have a moral compass, and softened their stance accordingly. But to this day, and I know to some this is sacrilege, but if offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance of playing Augusta or TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, I choose the latter without batting an eye—I doubt Augusta cares though. Freedom dictates Augusta and Sawgrass both be allowed to exist as they wish and fight for market share without government getting involved.

TPC Sawgrass 17th Hole
TPC Sawgrass 17th Hole

Going back to Amy’s Baking Company, it was revealed during the show that the owner was not paying his servers the tips they had earned. He was pocketing it himself because he said he was doing much of the work, which was clearly debatable. To Gordon Ramsay’s credit, he announced this to the restaurant, and patrons were none too pleased. At this point, I have little doubt that many of them, as well as the employees and potential future employees and patrons, will never return to this little fascist bistro.

But what if there were laws preventing this? (Actually, I suspect that maybe there are and they just aren’t complying)

Why let the government hide an entrepreneur’s true nature just because it feels right? I want to know what kind of person I’m doing business with, and these morality laws hide that; making me an uninformed consumer in the process. If that business owner hates me because of my race, sex, or religious philosophy, I don’t want to do business with them. So I want them  free to show me who they really are so that I may choose to stay or go.

People often lose sight of what a business is—an investment property owned by an entrepreneur. Just as you wouldn’t want the government prohibiting you from enjoying a stogie in your car, the government shouldn’t be dictating whether the owner of a business can allow people to smoke there. If it were a restaurant and you liked the food, but not the smoke, you can carry out, eat outside, or find another restaurant. You can also suggest to the owner that you may not patron their establishment so long as they allow people to smoke, and let them decide how they wish to proceed. But you, and by virtue of the phrase, “We The People,” the government, have no right dictating to a business owner how they should run their business.US Constitution

So when it comes to business, let them be the jerks that they are, then let the market sort it out accordingly.

 

Let’s not play Monopoly!

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

Most people know that monopolies are illegal, but not everyone understands the history of antitrust and collusion laws or why they exist at all.

As a libertarian, I basically support free market capitalism and laissez-faire, but why do we libertarians and other liberty minded people support this? Because free people who run free enterprise are free to innovate and this innovation brings us a superior product. Competition among innovators also drives down the price as they seek to gain market-share. It’s why you can get a miracle of modern technology like the iPhone or Droid for a mere pittance—with a 2-year contract anyway.

U.S. Steel - Youngstown Ohio
U.S. Steel – Youngstown Ohio

But if we look at the history of monopolies here in America, Standard Oil and U.S. Steel were the most popular in our history, and what transpired was not good. Thus making the case for some semblance of government oversight.

I am often berated by anarchist-like libertarians for championing even the most minor government regulations in our marketplace, ensuring they compete and that they don’t violate our rights, but these people are ignoring historical evidence to promote an ideal I agree with, yet know doesn’t work if left unchecked. History has already proven it. Just because none of us were alive during that era, doesn’t mean we don’t have the documentation to know what happened when we had market-anarchy.

Standard Oil Common Stock
Standard Oil Common Stock

Prior to antitrust and collusion regulations, the quality of goods from these trusts was poor, the working conditions were so atrocious that workplace deaths and injuries were quite common, and the cost of what came off the production lines wasn’t cheap. Why would it be? If you’re the only game in town, providing a quality product, safe work environment, and competitive pricing and wages, simply aren’t needed. Just as absolute power in government corrupts, absolute power in business corrupts too. The moment a business owner needn’t fear people buying from his/her competitor because no competitor exists, corruption can, and likely will, be born.

Anarchists argue that if workers don’t like it, they can go work somewhere else. But where do you propose people go work? The very definition of a monopoly is that it’s the only business in an industry. Thus, there is nowhere else to work. If an enterprising person attempts to go into business for themselves, they’re either forced to sell to the monopoly, or crushed by it if they don’t. These are not wild conspiracy theories I’m floating, it’s historically documented evidence.

The design of free-market capitalism, is not dissimilar to socialism or anarchy. In a perfect world, they would work as intended and yield the desired positive result. History has proven however, that they also have the same flaw. There will always be sociopaths among us who don’t have the power of empathy or value the benefits of being societal. The only decent way mankind has ever dealt with these people is via rule of law. Such people have no qualms about taking advantage of others and doing them harm for personal gain. Our Constitution is designed to prevent these people from corrupting our government, and competition should prevent them from corrupting our markets. So ensuring competition is vital to our society, our rights, and our economy.

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

John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie proved that there’s a point at which if you do something right, you can control an industry to such an extent that no one else can compete. These men were likely decent people who considered themselves altruistic and good, but the unfettered power they eventually wielded corrupted them in such a way that they became consumed with winning and had little issue engaging in immoral practices to accomplish this goal.

So aside from protecting our rights to life, liberty, and property, in my opinion, government should justly be ensuring our markets stay competitive and uncorrupted.

So now that we understand, and hopefully agree with regulations preventing monopolies, I’d like to point something out:

Government is a monopoly!

The federal government competes with no one. State and local governments may seem to compete with each other, but if you live in Ohio and don’t like the service the Ohio government provides you, you can’t choose to do business with the Virginia government unless you move to Virginia. It’s quasi-competition at best where states compete to lure residents and businesses, but it’s certainly nothing like Apple versus Microsoft or Ford versus Chevrolet.

So when people like me beg and plead voters to elect more libertarian-like officials, it’s because we know that they’re the only politicians who intend to rebuke and regulate away power bestowed to their predecessors once they inherit it. In doing so, lowering the possibility of corruption, because the smaller government is, the less opportunity for corruption to occur. In the face of the IRS, Benghazi, and press scandals committed against the AP and Fox News, I sincerely hope you understand why we libertarians have been right all along, and are starting to feel vindicated for making these arguments so many seem to laugh away not long ago.

Do you remember Barack Obama making this commencement address speech at my beloved Ohio State University about a month ago?

The irony of this speech that occurred as all three conspiracies started to break into the mainstream media is chilling. It is exactly why we must only trust a politician who tells us not to trust him/her, not to grant them authority, and not to give up your freedom to their ideas of how we should be ruled.

“Experience has shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
― Thomas Jefferson

Can I be GM’s new CEO?

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

In 2009, a very bad thing happened. GM went from being General Motors, a privately held and operated corporation, to General Motors, a majority-share government-owned corporation. After a Chapter 11 filing, in order to save a company deemed too big to fail, the government bought out 864 million shares of the available 1.4 billion. While it was not a hostile state takeover that would make Fidel Castro proud, let’s look at some of the highlights here.General Motors

  • In 2008, GM began losing money, partly due to a crippled economy. However, this could have been managed if not for unreasonable and unwavering demands from the UAW. GM executives at the time, headed by then CEO Rick Wagoner, had decided that bankruptcy would likely be the solution. This would allow GM to terminate and renegotiate new, more manageable union contracts, enabling GM to survive into 2009 and beyond.
  • December 19th 2008: Then President George W. Bush approved TARP which in total, gave $17.4 billion to General Motors and Chrysler in an effort to prevent such a bankruptcy.
  • February of 2009: GM makes it known that the bailouts had not solved their solvency issues and bankruptcy still seems to be the most likely option.
  • March 29, 2009: In a deal we will likely never know the details of, current president Barack Obama ousters CEO Rick Wagoner in hopes of preventing a bankruptcy that would ultimately harm the UAW. It was stated that Wagoner “agreed to step down,” which we all know is code for “He was offered something to step down and shut up so that we didn’t have to fire him publicly and have him tell people what actually happened.” There can be no doubt Wagoner did not want to step down, he was turning GM around. Obama then replaces him with Fritz Henderson.
  • July 2009: Federal government buys a controlling interest in the new General Motors after bankruptcy.
  • November 2010, Government sells approximately 358 million of its 864 million shares back to private investors, thus relinquishing a controlling interest, but losing $11 billion dollars of taxpayer money doing so.

    Rick Wagoner
    Rick Wagoner

I understand that Bush and Obama felt GM was too big to fail, and certainly had GM closed its doors, it could have seriously hurt the American economy. But no one was proposing that, nor even reasonably insinuating it would happen. The intent was to reorganize and draft more manageable UAW contracts, not close the doors.

As this debate raged on, I watched a labor union rep say in an interview that GM’s issues had nothing to do with labor unions; that it was purely about the economy. Interesting argument since the facts were that non-union automakers, with significantly lower labor costs, while hurting from the economy, were still quite solvent. Such lies and/or delusions are quite common among the UAW ranks.

In a properly free market, as GM sales were down, GM should have had the flexibility to cut staff, lessen benefit expenditures, reduce hours, or whatever it took in order to insure the solvency of their organization; something labor unions simply won’t allow. The idea that the UAW weren’t contributing to the problem is absurd.

However, the UAW isn’t the only villain. Since Obama is a friend to the unions, he felt it was his duty to intervene and protect them as best he could from the bankruptcy Wagoner would have negotiated. So Rick Wagoner was forcibly removed from office so that Obama could bring in new CEO Fritz Henderson; one who would manage such a bankruptcy if it occurred, in such a way as to benefit the UAW the greatest.

Fritz Henderson
Fritz Henderson

The problem? Any contract GM signs should be done with the best interests of GM in mind, period. The UAW conversely should negotiate the best deal for themselves. But when both sides are working for the betterment of one side over the other, that’s not a negotiation, that’s corruption.

And so it was, the UAW got a fully loaded Cadillac, and the taxpayers and General Motors got a driveshaft in the rear entrance. You can read about this UAW inspired, Obama approved corruption here.

So the money Bush approved in order to prevent bankruptcy was a waste. It obviously didn’t work; GM filed for bankruptcy anyway. The sale of GM stock later by the government, another big loss. Whether we lose on what we still own—only time will tell.

In my opinion, the problems don’t end there though.

President Obama knows that the people frown on government directing a private company, but he’s not exactly known for his humility. He has demonstrated he will do what he desires to do, then figure out a way to present it to the American people in such a way that they’ll accept something they would otherwise not support.

So a man who has zero private sector experience, zero automotive experience, zero management experience, and zero business administration experience decided that in an ultimate show of hubris, he somehow knew what was better for America’s largest corporation than its current CEO who had a significant amount of experience in all the aforementioned areas.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

Imagine if Obama decided he could perform surgery better than a practicing physician who may have just lost a patient. Then he gives medical advice to this doctor’s patients contrary to what the doctor prescribed. Whether the doctor is sub-par or not, Obama would have absolutely no business doing this—it would be a serious breech of ethics.

As a person who spent over 20 years of my professional life involved in both the sales and service management of new and used automobiles, I literally have infinitely more experience in this arena than Obama. Anything times zero is infinity before you accuse me of hyperbole. The only difference? I’m smart and humble enough to know that I’m not qualified to run General Motors.

When Dr Rand Paul weighs in on medical issues, he knows what he’s talking about. When Obama weighs in on legal issues, he knows what he’s talking about, even if he’s not a practicing lawyer. But nothing qualified him to make a single decision regarding the management of General Motors.

We expect our presidents to be strong, confident, even a little arrogant on occasion. Maybe it’s the same phenomenon of implied danger that drives good people to date bad people. But if America is to have an effective leader, that person should have the humility to understand their duties are to protect our rights, not drive a market which has a nearly infinite greater wealth of experience than any one person could have.

This boondoggle cost us taxpayers billions, and we are no better for it. Much like the false belief that Roosevelt saved the American economy after the great depression, Obama didn’t save the auto industry either.

The president represents the state, and state-run markets are never good—there’s more than enough history in this world to know free-markets are always better. If GM manages to achieve success again, it will be despite Obama and the UAW, not because of it.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_Chapter_11_reorganization

http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg959.aspx

http://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/march-29-president-obama-fires-ceo-general-motors-132056452.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123836090755767077.html

America Could Learn A Lot From Tiger Woods (The Golfer)

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

Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest golfer ever to play the game, is a courageous man. He was the highest paid athlete in the world until marital issues cost him a few sponsors. But putting aside those issues, he’s also a pretty good model for America. (Seriously, put them aside for this discussion. This is a theoretical concept with Tiger Woods ‘the golfer’ not ‘the husband’ as my example.)

Shortly after having won The Masters by an astounding 12 strokes in 1997, he concluded his golf swing was flawed and opted to wipe the slate clean, start all over, and invent a better method to pound golf balls into the stratosphere. His intention: to be consistently better as opposed to occasionally dominant. We all know how this turned out, he subsequently won—a lot. It worked so well in fact, that he went on to renovate his swing two more times; each time requiring many months of hard work and countless hours at the range.

Tiger Woods - 1997 Masters
Tiger Woods – 1997 Masters

He could have settled for making minor tweaks to his swing like everyone else on tour, but he holds himself to a higher standard. You’ll note I said like everyone else on tour; had he decided not to reinvent his swing, that’s likely what he would have been—like everyone else on tour.

For someone who is on top of the world to recognize his own flaws, be honest with himself about them, and even though he was ranked #1, reinvent his sole source of income anyway, seemed like a huge risk that would end in career suicide. But now that he’s nipping at the records of Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead, the joke is on all of his naysayers. He’s atop the rankings again having won a third of the tournaments he’s played in this year; a record any other golfer only dreams of.

Tiger Woods is to golf what The United States is to all other countries—a dominant force. In a world where the PC Police,  in order to be sensitive to the feelings of those on the losing side, have sports teams running out the clock with a commanding lead, Tiger Woods slaughtered his opponents by 12 strokes with no concern about how it would affect their egos. There should be no doubt he will do it again if he can.

John Daly enjoying a cigarette mid-swing
John Daly enjoying a cigarette mid-swing

Did the rest of the PGA tour quit, were their feelings hurt, did they all cry their eyeballs out and walk off the course, were their fragile psyches destroyed forever? Of course not. The rest of the tour simply started spending more time at the range and the gym, like Tiger, and now you see a playing field that has been unilaterally improved.

The rest of the tour came up to Tiger’s level instead of him dropping to theirs. Like it or not, Tiger changed the game by forcing players to work harder or find another way to make a living. Competition; the heart of sport and capitalism, improved golf immeasurably. What was once a sport for smokers, drinkers, and people more likely to be found eating a push-up than doing one, now is peppered with guys like Tiger who can bench over 300 lbs and twist themselves into a windsor knot doing it.

As a libertarian, I’ll also point out that while golf has rules officials to answer questions for the competitors, players self-impose their own penalties—they literally police themselves. When’s the last time you saw LeBron James call a foul on himself that the ref missed? As honorable sports go, golf is unequalled in my opinion, and it’s a classic example of the idea that free people usually do the right thing when they are governed less.

America could learn a lot from the example of Tiger. We are the world’s number one economy and military power. While others wish to quash American exceptionalism by giving our wealth away in foreign aid, I say we need to do the opposite and focus on being the best nation we can be and let other nations manage their own affairs. I’m not an isolationist; we should trade with any nation who wishes to do so honestly, and to some extent, protect allies who are attacked as we did with Europe during WW2 or Kuwait in 1991. But, “America: World Police” needs to hang up its badge and tell the U.N. we’re retired.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

If America reverses course towards liberty and free markets and reduces the military to a size that keeps us safe without being the U.N.’s attack dog, we could easily grow our advantage over other nations while drastically reducing government spending and scope to pay down our debt. Not because we want to destroy other nations economically, but because we aspire to be as exceptional as we can be—period.

If other nations don’t like us being at the top of the food chain, then they can strive to be better or learn to deal with their inferiority. I’m personally OK with knowing I have no chance of beating Tiger at golf, other nations have no qualms knowing they’ll never compete with us too; so long as they strive to be as good as they can be, who cares? This whole notion that our exceptionalism makes us inherently bad is nonsense.

Countries comprised of intelligent beings will learn from our successes and elevate themselves just like the PGA Tour did after hurricane Tiger blew through. If they are countries mired in religious or socialist dogma fueling government oppression, like many eastern hemisphere nations, then their people will continue to live in poverty until they revolt; none of which is our business.

England was once a world superpower, yet a few centuries ago, we broke off and decided to do something novel. We established a government based on liberty and self-governance. Instead of choosing rulers, we elected people to do our bidding, and established a way to peaceably remove those people from power if desired. At the time, such a system of governance was unheard of; just as a golfer who benched 300 lbs, spent 40+ hours a week at the range and the gym, and educated himself on the physics of the golf swing was a few decades ago.

But now, centuries later, there are democracies and republics all over the world, including England, because the U.S.A. paved the way. We proved that through liberty, we could build a better nation, and much of the world has followed our example. Almost every free nation on Earth owes that freedom to the U.S.A. Some because we helped liberate them, but many because we simply inspired them by demonstrating liberty works.

Like Tiger, Social Security Schemewe shouldn’t be afraid to overhaul something that is inherently flawed. Our education system could be privatized. Our tax system could be converted to a consumption based tax. Instead of settling for a SSI system that’s going broke, giving people their money back and letting them invest privately could be implemented.

Such changes might be scary to some, but change is good when it’s change backed by good science or historical evidence. We cannot keep careening on the path to insolvency and expect to remain strong. Tiger Woods proved that overhauling a flawed system is better than putting lipstick on a pig. I understand that to some, a complete revamp of age-old programs is scary, but our fears should be directed at those who are unwilling to be honest about our flaws and lack the courage to fix them, not those who have their sleeves rolled up and are ready to go to work—like Tiger Woods.

Money isn’t a cure for poverty; it’s a morphine drip

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

As someone with an extensive background in automotive repair, I can tell you there are two types of technicians: those who use science and logic to diagnose a car, and those who merely throw parts at it in hopes the condition goes away.

The former is efficient and precise while the other costs the car owner a lot of money in bad guesswork—rarely fixing anything other than occasionally by blind luck. This is also true of well-meaning politicians who think that throwing money at the non-rich (average income people like me, and the poor as well) will be the most efficient way to solve all our economic woes. They’ve racked up trillions of debt dollars; yet our economy is far from fixed.

Bad MechanicOne way to win an election is to promise people free money. Convincing the masses that government would be there in their time of need was Obama’s most effective election tactic.

It’s easy to understand why this campaign strategy works, just look at the abundance of people who play the lottery. The idea of something for nothing is alluring, but just as physics dictates you cannot create energy from nothing, free money is an equally ridiculous notion—it came from someone who earned it, not thin air,  and not an endless well of cash in Washington.

Most reasonable people agree corporatism is immoral; good investment or not. But what about subsidies to the average and poor? As heartless as this may seem, throwing money at the non-rich is a horrible investment of our tax dollars; plus, it is also immoral.  Just because I’m smiling as I steal from a “have” and give to a “have-not,” doesn’t magically make it something other than theft.

Many of us believe that if we were awarded a fortune, we would be on easy street forever. Yet, average people who win a substantial sum often end up filing for bankruptcy. Stories on this phenomenon are here, here, and here. This happens because the non-rich, as obvious as it should seem, are just not good at investing, budgeting, and maintaining wealth.

If you won the lottery, who would you want investment advice from? Steve Forbes or your uncle Sam who’s currently down $16 trillion on his E*Trade account but is patiently awaiting for those penny stocks to go crazy? I have news for you, Sam isn’t investing his money, he’s investing yours and mine. Can we please agree he should stop?

Uncle SamMost people who earn a 4 or 5-figure salary are simply not as motivated to be rich commensurate to those who went to college for 8 years and attained a degree they actually use, nor as courageous as those who took the plunge and invested their money into a business idea like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. They don’t bother reading books on investing, they don’t strive to get promotions at work, they spend more time partying than focusing on their career, and ultimately, they’re content being an average Joe whether they admit it or not.

Sacrificing all of one’s free time to grow a business or get a difficult degree requires a dedication few have. They don’t need to be pitied or pandered to by politicians who act as though making an average income means you’ve failed. Many people who are not rich, love their life as it is. It is disgusting for statist-like politicians to try to convince these people that they are being taken advantage of by the rich in order to solicit votes.

Obama would have you believe that the only difference between people like you and I versus Bill Gates and Warren Buffett is opportunity. As much as I’d like to believe that those business giants are no better than me, they just are. I’ve never had an idea as good as Microsoft Windows, and despite all of the educational trading information available to me, Warren Buffett has had bowel movements with better investment ideas than me.

The fact is, if we gave Warren Buffett one million dollars to start with today, based on his record, he’d likely double it in 5-7 years. If we gave the smelly young panhandler who lives on the streets because his parents “just don’t understand him” a million dollars, he’d likely be back on the street in less than a year with a bottle in a bag and some awesome party stories.

Honest Panhandler
Honest Panhandler

The plethora of self-made entrepreneurs in this country who started with nothing are proof that you can go from meager to millionaire if you do the right things; opportunity abounds here. But, America can’t guarantee happiness; we only guarantee the right to pursue it. No politician should endeavor to do anything more.

If the needy need help, their family, friends, local church, or some other community group will find a way, that’s what we did before social programs, and to some extent do today. If none of those people wish to help that person, then we need to have an honest discussion about why. By and large, good people help other good people. Bad people are properly shunned without assistance; as it should be.

Our forefathers never intended for the people to have a federal safety net. Liberty only exists when we allow people to succeed and to fail at their own hands. Gambling with our money (which is ultimately what investments/subsidies are) is wrong, no matter how well-intentioned. We are free-market capitalists, not statists—at least not yet.

So I love you Uncle Sam, but please understand what our forefathers (men who knew what tyranny was like, and worked so hard to prevent it) understood—you should protect our rights and our shores; then politely get the hell out of our way.

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.