Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hope is a good thing - here's how to create some...

As you may recall, several months ago I was on here writing about a good friend of mine who told me I was being too negative in some of my blogs.  I tried to reform for awhile but life - and Supreme Court justice John Roberts - got in the way.

My friend was at my home this evening having dinner when he again mentioned that it seems I have gone back to telling everyone there is no hope for America and that we all need to move and that our country is going to hell in a handbasket and etc., etc. etc.

Then, he said something that made so much sense that I can't believe I didn't think of this before.
That is, instead of only fussing about our loss of liberty and how stupid government is, maybe I could offer some advice to people on how to promote liberty and limited government.  He asked me, "So what do I need to do?" 

Great question.  Here are some answers.

If (and for some of you that might be a big if...) you sincerely care about the erosion of our God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you can start by using social media to spread the concept of limited government to your "friends" or "followers".  If you like this blog, for example, you could go on Facebook, and ask your friends to follow it, read it and spread it to their friends. 

I would suggest going to  - the Foundation for Economic Education and read articles from The Freeman.  For $50 per year you can get the Freeman sent to your home.  It has incredible articles that provide historical perspectives on free markets and small government.  Send links to your friends that you find interesting or useful.  This foundation also has summer seminars for high school and college-age students in Atlanta that are very intellectually challenging.

Other places like the Institute for Humane Studies, The Institute for Justice and the Ludwig von Mises Institute to name a few are great places to read about liberty and find out about seminars and workshops.

On my website - you can click on SPEECHES and see talks given by Walter Williams, John Stossel, Milton Friedman and others that you could send to people.  Many of my lectures can be found there as well if you want your kids to learn about free market economics.

Speaking of kids, if you have younger ones (real young ones), read Yertle the Turtle to them!  It is a classic story of one turtle's fight against tyranny and would help start a conversation about the nature of freedom.  For older students have them read The Law by Frederic Bastiat, Leonard Read's "I Pencil", Not Yours to Give by David Crockett and other books and essays on liberty.  Read the Declaration of Independence to your kids and talk to them about what Jefferson meant in each paragraph. I have other book recommendations on my website.

Teach your kids about the concepts of private property, the role of enlightened self-interest and the principle of voluntary versus forced relationships.  Towards this end, help them understand, for example, that burning CD's and DVD's is a violation of someone's artistic property.  Tell them how income taxes did not exist from 1776-1913 in America because the Founders thought income taxes took property by force.  Discuss eminent domain, property taxes, seat belt laws (if you want to go this far) under the umbrella of, "When is this law a violation of property rights?"

I would suggest teaching your children about the concepts of giving in order to help them understand that giving is the basis of relationships that are profitable in the long run.  Specifically, businesses that people like and trust and don't mind seeing make money are the ones that show that they have some sense of honor, integrity and justice.  These businesses avoid the age-old temptation of being greedy by often doing things that might not make textbook economic sense (i.e. paying their workers a bit more than the market rate or giving to charity in large amounts, or being generous to customers in the discounts offered).  Let's face it.  Many people hate captialism because people who call themselves capitalists are really dishonest and/or selfish.

If you are a businessperson that accepts government subsidies you are not a capitalist and you are helping to destroy liberty.  You are doing this by using lobbyists to plunder the taxpayers - many of whom do not even use your products.  Do you push for protective tariffs or quotas?  Do you push for regulations designed to hurt your competition?  Do you often try to wiggle your way out of serving your customers by telling them to read the fine print on your warranties?  Do you pay your workers a wage that the voters believe is just?  If not, those same voters will pick politicians who promise to regulate your prices and wages and tax you in the name of forced justice.  Do the right thing ( in the eyes of the voters and God, if I may be so bold....) to begin with and maybe the people will love you and not their elected leaders.  We all know that the private sector does everything better than the government.  Show people you can also do compassion and honesty and you will see people vote for less government on your back.

Speaking of you voters - do you receive plundered money?  If you get any money other than what you have created by serving your fellowman, you should stop it and encourage others to stop it.  If everybody steals from everybody, liberty fades away.

Write letters to the editor of your newspaper pointing out where our rights are being threatened. 

Email your elected leaders when they trample our rights - or promote them.

Attend meetings where politicians are campaigning or are discussing matters that impact your rights and let your voice be heard.

I am sure there are some other ideas I am forgetting, but I hope you can use something here.

The bottom line is simple.  There is a multiplier effect from spreading the word of freedom to other people.  All we need is 51% of the people to believe in liberty and we have enough to preserve it.

Yes, I know a couple of blogs ago I said it was over for America.  Who knows?  It might be.  If it is - meaning if we are Rome - at least you and I can fight to delay the inevitable.  If it is possible to avoid becoming Rome that would be great too - and requires that all of us do something - little or big - to help this cause.

I half-jokingly tell my wife that I want my headstone to read,


Don't let it be your fault either.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Guess who caused Colorado's Wildfires?

Eight years ago, four major hurricanes blew through Central Florida, toppling thousands of trees and sending debris all over our peninsula.  Yet, after each storm passed you would have thought that somehow, magically, the Magic Kingdom had been spared.

That is because the Disney Corporation sent workers out with chainsaws, trucks and probably brooms to clear everything the hurricanes left behind with blinding efficiency.  Within a couple of days tourists could travel safely to any Disney Park and not even be bothered by the unsettling sight of hurricane-damage, much less actual tree limbs lying in the road.

Outside of Disney - where the local and state governments were in charge, weeks dragged on with snail-like efficiency as the "experts" tried to manage the cleanup.  They did manage alright.  They managed to allow human misery to extend well into the summer as a result of two key missing ingredients to a successful cleanup.  More on that later....

This summer, forest fires are ablaze all over the western United States with no end in sight.  As I am typing this sentence, more than half of all airborne fire-fighting equipment in the U.S. is currently in the state of Colorado.  This beautiful state is turning into ashes and somwhere around 103.27% of the blame lies with government bureaucrats. 

Of course we have all heard that lightning, the pine bark beetle and human carelessness caused these fires.  But ask yourself a question.  Why are all of the fires originating on government lands? 

We don't see the fires starting on private land and spreading to state and federal forests.  We see only the opposite.

This gets us to why this is the case.

Private land owners - especially timber companies and other large landholders - have the right motivation to keep their land free of fire-risk.  If a large timber concern fails to manage its forests properly by clearing dead trees and underbrush, the company will face the consequences of higher fire danger, lost trees (translation: lost money) and economic disaster.

On the other hand, what motivation does the federal government have to do the same thing?  Profit?  Nope.  Love?  Give me a break.  The desire to be efficient?  Have you been to your local tag office or public school lately?

The not-for-profit Forest Service has no overriding motivation to be efficient or even remotely competent because it faces no consequences for failing to do so.  Unlike the private companies who do not want to lose money and therefore must perform well, the government knows that if dead trees from a beetle are not cleared out, or if underbrush is not tended to it will not matter how many homes are burned as a result.  The Forest Service is funded through the forced taking of our incomes and as long as that force is omnipresent, it can allow thousands more homes to be destroyed and still be funded in the future.

Attached to this blog is a short video-clip that I believe clearly illustrates the fact that there is nothing we can count on the government to do well simply because of the lack of motivation and consequences.  Therefore, make sure you have a good water hose if you are reading this anywhere out west.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Andy Griffith and good parenting

Today America lost a great television personality when the actor, Andy Griffith, passed away at the age of 86. 

I have spent the past several years watching the beloved, Andy Griffith Show with my wife and children - usually during our lunches together. 

We have seen every episode (only the classic black & white ones) many times and jokingly quote from them in many of our family situations.

I think more American kids should be encouraged to watch this classic program.  It is wholesome, well-acted, intelligent and overall a good example of how to live a simple life.

There are also moments that are very educational and have helped me as a dad and as an economics professor.  The following clip is one of them.  I hope you will enjoy it.

Thanks for all the laughs and lessons Andy...