Showing That Socialism Is Slavery

Thursday, August 16, 2018

In "Democratic Socialism Is Totalitarian Slavery," a remarkable essay at Medium, S.G. Cheah builds an inductive and very readable case for capitalism and against socialism. I'll present two excerpts here, the first as an example of how she builds her case:

Making everyone into slaves is ... a way ... to do away with slave markets. But I'd prefer doing away with slavery, thank you very much. (Image via Wikipedia.)
It is important for people to learn the connection between property rights as being directly protected by liberty, and how this connection ensures life. To help picture this clearly, think of yourself as Robinson Crusoe. Or Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Or if you're talking to the very young, Matt Damon in The Martian.

These fictional characters illustrate this bond between property and life. When these castaways were shipwrecked alone, the only choices presented to them is either to survive or to perish. In order to live, they will have to employ the use of their mind and direct their body to produce the necessary requirement of survival: shelter, water, food.

Socialist Guilt Tripping

A socialist will bring up the example: imagine if a year later, another castaway is stranded on the same patch of land as you. Don't you have the moral obligation to share your shelter, water and food with him? The answer to this is not "yes you're obligated morally to share" nor "no, you're not obligated morally to share", but rather, the correct answer is: "you shall decide".

Why is "you shall decide" the right answer? It is because the shelter, water and food you've created is a product of your mind and body, which is an extension to your very life.

The laws of survival which applies to you when you were first shipwrecked applies to the new castaway, as well.... [format edits]
Almost anyone who has sought advice on writing has heard the maxim, "Show, don't tell." Much of what you'll find in this essay is a good example of putting that advice into practice.

Cheah builds up in her closing to what ought to become a rallying cry against Bernie Sanders and his acolyte, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:
In their narrative, Democratic Socialism might not be a logical nor is it even a reasonable way to organize society. This is why they brazenly brush away and ignore the many economic and historic evidence of its consistent failure.

Rather, their argument is built upon on how Socialism is the moral system politically because it is the system which "takes care of the needy in society", even if that outcome is just a pipe dream.

Fortunately what you, the vigilant and the informed, have in your arsenal is more powerful, because you can address this farce with both logic and morality on your side. Now that you understand the principles behind property rights as being indispensable to life and liberty, you can properly address the perils of Democratic Socialism.

Socialism's goal is to eradicate the power of private property. Without control over your own private property, you will not hold any power on your own life and liberty. The threat of slavery is how you should advocate against socialism.

Let it be said, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants socialism, and Socialism is slavery. In truth, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advocates for slavery. [emphasis in original]
Thank you, Ms. Cheah, and I hope I have persuaded a few more people to read this piece. (The site estimates it to be a ten minute read.)

-- CAV


Permission to Crawl -- or Freedom to Fly?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

About four years ago, I commented on the ridiculous amount of time the FAA was taking to make a ruling that could clarify the legal status of an Uber-like general aviation app:

For anyone who subscribes to the notion that we need the government to monitor and regulate every last move we make, I ask this question: "If the government is supposed to be so wise and powerful, why can't it answer even a simple question like this one in the more-than-ample time it gave itself?" This is not to frame the issue of government regulation as a matter of mere competence, although it is an interesting way of considering that issue.
As it turns out, the wisdom of the FAA is even less impressive than its speed: Flytenow, the company behind the app, has had to push for legislation just so pilots and passengers can take advantage of electronic communications to share expenses for private flights:
... For decades, private pilots have been legally sharing flying expenses with passengers. For pilots, flight-sharing defrays the high costs of flying, and for passengers, it's an alternative way to reach a destination or experience flying in a private plane.

Image via Wikipedia.
In 2013, we founded Flytenow, an Internet-based, flight-sharing startup offering an online bulletin board to facilitate cost-sharing arrangements between pilots and passengers. By showing a pilot’s qualifications, confirming them with the Federal Aviation Administration, and enabling both parties to connect via social media and direct messaging, we created a safe, efficient method of flight-sharing that can help pilots defray the costs of aircraft operation and ownership by as much as 75 percent.

That was, until the FAA ruled in mid-2014 that any pilot using the Internet to communicate had to comply with the same regulations applicable to commercial airlines. With that ruling, flight-sharing in the U.S. came to an abrupt halt, ...
This is a ridiculous intrusion on individual rights, and should be scrapped, along with the FAA, whose job a professional standards body ought to perform, anyway.

Flyetnow is pushing legislation in Congress, but I am saddened to see that it is based on the following "guiding principle:"
A pilot should be able to communicate to an audience of any size using whatever means he or she chooses to share a flight, including the Internet, so long as the flight is not for profit. [bold added]
I suppose it is possible that some aspect of the regulatory or political landscape makes this the best they can get in the current circumstances. Barring that, this sounds more like a plea for permission than a demand that the government do its job, which is to protect individual rights. Although the FAA is unlikely to be devolved from the government any time soon, it has no business blatantly violating right to contract for any purpose, and particularly when someone's ability to earn a living is at stake.

This article, by the cofounders of Flytenow, speaks of this bill as possibly saving general aviation in the United States. Maybe so, but unless pilots are free to profit from these arrangements if they wish, general aviation will remain on life support -- as will freedom. Whether the founders are being less ambitious than they should or think this is all they can get, the fact remains that freedom is dying in its cradle, and this bill will not-quite-save an industry that would thrive if it were set fully free.

-- CAV


Restaurateurs Want a Free Lunch: Yours

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The municipalities of Silicon Valley have decided to stop letting tech companies offer their own employees free lunches in any new facilities they build. Demonstrating complete ignorance of both why people run businesses and the purpose of government, the executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association explains why she supports such government meddling:

"With food being provided for free ... there's no competition in terms of choice, nor a reason for employees to leave their building," Borden said. "Perhaps that's great social engineering to get employees to work longer hours and never leave their offices, but it doesn't do much to support the city around them."
Image via Unsplash.
Whatever one might think of "social engineering", it doesn't hold a candle to the central planning Borden seems so fond of: At least these employers aren't threatening anyone with fines or imprisonment for participating in a particular kind of lunch arrangement. Government is supposed to protect freedom for everyone, making it possible for them to run a business or pursue any other activity that does not harm anyone else. By forcing "employees to leave the building" for a decent lunch, these laws are interfering with how many individuals plan their days. This will probably cause many to work less efficiently -- or stay at work later than they'd like, and perhaps eat out with their families less often during the week ... incidentally harming other restaurants. But that's beside the point. It's wrong to unleash the government on non-criminals for whatever purpose, no matter how kind one's stated intentions.

-- CAV

Updates

Today: Corrected title. 


Immigration and Apportionment

Monday, August 13, 2018

Over at the Manhattan Contrarian is a connection I've never seen made in the immigration debate -- between immigration and the distribution of congressional seats among states with more vs. fewer immigrants:

Image via Wikipedia.
Granted, the effect of this phenomenon only registers with the decennial census, and nothing about new immigration this year is going to affect the apportionment for the 2018 or 2020 elections. Nevertheless, the overall effect is that Democrats get to represent in Congress something in the range of 15 to 20 million non-citizen immigrants, without those immigrants ever needing to vote. As a rough approximation, this represents about 20 or so seats in Congress, and it could even go up somewhat after the next apportionment. This swing dwarfs any possible effect of actual illegal voting. [bold added]
In my own thinking about immigration, I have long advocated reform of the process by which immigrants can become citizens. Should we also rethink how we apportion representation? It might help to consider the hypothetical situation of this "bump" being in support of whichever party you find most congenial to America's best interests. I haven't thought for long about the issue, so won't offer an opinion on it now.

Having said that, I do find it worthwhile to recall something frequently missing from conversations about immigration. As I noted some time ago:
[T]he real problem is the existence of the welfare state. Immigrants did not start socialized education. Immigrants did not force law-abiding emergency care personnel to accept non-paying customers. Immigrants did not make it illegal for some of us to ingest chemicals that others disapprove of. Americans, forgetting that their government was established to protect the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, passed (and support) these laws. Americans chose to plunder each other's pockets and run each other's lives.
The "freeloading" problem is one created by improper government rather than immigration. Likewise, the importance of apportioning our representation precisely might be less important were our government confined to its proper scope, leaving us less at the mercy of Democrats wanting to put their hands on our wallets, not to mention Republicans wanting to put their hands in our pants. In such a context, the strongest case I can imagine for representation reform along the lines the first quote suggests would be: Large numbers of immigrants in some area might sway voters one way or another on a foreign policy issue pertinent to an election. But I can see such an effect going either way, so even that case seems difficult to make.

-- CAV


Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, August 10, 2018

Blog Roundup

1. At Roots of Progress, Jason Crawford explores the transition, during the nineteenth century, away from the use of biological sources for many common materials. (He provides interesting synopses for ivory, fertilizer, fuels for lighting and smelting, and shellac.)

The humpback whale, an unsustainable source of industrial feedstocks, in either sense of the term. (Image via Pixabay.)
These are just a handful of examples. There are many other biomaterials we once relied on -- rubber, silk, leather and furs, straw, beeswax, wood tar, natural inks and dyes -- that have been partially or fully replaced by synthetic or artificial substitutes, especially plastics, that can be derived from mineral sources. They had to be replaced, because the natural sources couldn't keep up with rapidly increasing demand. The only way to ramp up production -- the only way to escape the Malthusian trap and sustain an exponentially increasing population while actually improving everyone's standard of living -- was to find new, more abundant sources of raw materials and new, more efficient processes to create the end products we needed. As you can see from some of these examples, this drive to find substitutes was often conscious and deliberate, motivated by an explicit understanding of the looming resource crisis.

In short, plant and animal materials had become unsustainable. [bold added, link omitted]
His exploration of the very common misuse of that last word is as timely as the rest of his post is interesting.

2. In "Sully vs Sully," the proprietor of You Can and Did Build That compares the book to the movie and finds the former far more profitable in terms of understanding the heroism of Sully Sullenberger, who famously saved all his passengers by landing his aircraft on the Hudson in 2009.
[T]he passionate pursuit of excellence in a career, the commitment to a lifetime of choices directed at acquiring knowledge and improving one's skills, is as far from "selfless" as could be imagined. Sully's choices (including an awareness of his own motivations and self-critical appraisal of his own near misses) represent the creation of a self. Only devotion to one's own chosen goals over the span of decades could result in a man becoming the kind of person, the kind of character or self, who could accomplish what he did on the Hudson. [emphasis in original]
Although I think I rate the movie higher than he does, I found the discussion of the kind of context required to evaluate an action quite enlightening.

3. At New Ideal, Ben Bayer of the Ayn Rand Institute argues that the "Trump-Kim Summit Betrays Victims of Dictatorship." The entire post is worth reading, but I think presenting two paragraphs of it in quick succession might show why. Bayer opens:
In a video that went viral in October 2014, Yeonmi Park gave an emotional speech about her escape from North Korea. She recounts how she was nine years old when she witnessed the public execution of her friend's mother, thirteen when she saw her mother raped as the price for escaping the country, and fourteen when she had to bury her father secretly in China. [links in original]
Later, comes the following after he notes Ayn Rand's commentary about Richard Nixon's 1972 meeting with Mao Zedong:
Every word of this applies to Trump's meeting with Kim. This time the president has not only shaken hands with the dictator but has gone further by calling him "very talented" and a "funny guy" with a "great personality" who "loves his people." Asked whether it was wise to sit down with a killer, the most Trump could bring himself to disparage about Kim was to say "it is a rough situation over there." Asked how Kim could love his people and oppress them, Trump said "he's doing what he's seen done." [links in original]
Regarding Trump's last remark in light of what Yeonmi Park and other North Koreans have "seen done," this is outrageous. That said, Trump doesn't own all of the blame for it. As unprincipled and coarse as he is, Trump is regurgitating (and acting on) the same kind of garbage leftists have spewed about criminals for the past few decades. But the juxtaposition should illustrate how disgusting this stew of determinism and moral relativism really is. Obscene notions left unquestioned lead to obscene actions.

4. At Separate!, Anders Ingemarson takes the impending Supreme Court nomination battle as his cue to consider an interesting question concerning where Americans stand on abortion:
With the range of views being closer to a bell curve than what media talking heads would like us to believe, is there an opportunity for breaking the supposed deadlock and come to some level of mutual understanding? Perhaps not tomorrow, next year or in a decade, but maybe in a generation? [bold added]
This comes after a quick review of American polling data and a look at a couple of historical instances of religious people accommodating scientific discoveries in the West. I'm not as sanguine as he, but he raises good points to remember should Brett Kavanaugh be named to the Supreme Court.

-- CAV

Updates

Today: For clarity, added "concerning where Americans stand on abortion" to Item 4.  


Delimiting Required

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Or: Every Yes Begins With a Bunch of Nos

I ran across a list of items by Greg Wilson on how to run a meeting, but that's not the take-home for this post. Rather, it was an aside near the end of his piece that caught my eye:

Image via Pixabay.
I once chaired a one-day meeting in New Orleans where I tried to introduce a whole bunch of meeting management techniques at once while also contributing. I did it so badly that they replaced me as chair at the mid-point, and were right to do so.
This is interesting because so much of Wilson's own advice could be subsumed under the umbrella of delimitation: Have a purpose. Formulate a clear agenda. Lead with the most important topics. All of these things pertain to the need for the human mind to be able to focus in order to be effective. Each of these positive goals -- choosing a subject, concentrating on different aspects of that subject, and deciding what was most urgent about it -- required eliminating a whole host of other considerations. The cause of running an effective meeting is no different, although that might not seem apparent. To his credit and our benefit, Wilson admits this, and I think it's his most important point.

Taking all of Wilson's advice at face value for the sake of argument, if one's goal is to run effective meetings, one can run with his anecdote and think of that goal as a meeting. What points about how your organization runs meetings depart furthest from this ideal? Which improvements would pack the most punch, and maybe even kill two birds with one stone? Start with those, most urgent first, order the rest, and create a time table for implementing improvements at a pace that will show results quickly enough to get others on board, but is slow enough to allow everyone to acclimate themselves to a set of changes before introducing others. Wilson has given us a wealth of information, but it, like the topics of a meeting, must be organized within the contexts of what an organization needs and how human minds can grasp and hold on to it.

-- CAV


Column: When They Reduce It to 'Cost,' Conservatives Lose Fight Against Socialism

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Image via Wikipedia.
Or: Appeasing Socialism Always Fails

The recent primary victory by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a golden opportunity to advance capitalism, but conservatives don't seem to realize it. Joe Crowley assumed voters would tolerate the status quo, disdained his opponent, and counted on inertia. This was a bad strategy against an energetic opponent. By contrast, Ocasio-Cortez seemed concerned with voters' problems, offered a means of solving them, and stood behind her solution. Yet, conservatives seem intent on channeling the defeated Crowley, despite the fact they could offer a real choice, instead. The following are poor ways to advocate capitalism: Repeating ad nauseum that socialism always fails, calling her voters stupid, and not challenging the principle that socialism is an ideal. This is unfortunate, because capitalism is the real alternative to our current stagnant mixture of freedom and smothering government control -- and the alternative to the century's worth of slavery, starvation, and death that is socialism.

First came the smug jokes: The Democrats have gone "full Venezuela." "What could possibly go wrong?" "How many times do we have to learn that socialism doesn't work?" Unfortunately, the answer to the last joke is: As many times as we fail to oppose it on moral grounds....

To continue reading my latest column, please proceed to RealClear Markets.

I would like to thank my wife and Steve D. for their comments on earlier versions of this piece.

-- CAV