Property Rights and Democracy: Reply to Wilkinson

Property rights—at least “absolutist,” “hard-core,” “hard-nosed” property rights that are “rigid and all-encompassing”—are the enemy of democracy. That is essentially the theme of Will Wilkinson’s essay and follow-up on the matter.

I answer that Wilkinson, who apparently favors the “standard redistributive policies of successful modern states,” does not recognize property rights at all, but merely property permissions that can be granted or retracted by democratic majorities at will. Continue reading “Property Rights and Democracy: Reply to Wilkinson”

Hurting the World’s Poor in the Name of Helping Them—Poverty, Inc.

The vast sums of money transferred by the governments of wealthy nations to the governments of poor nations do not help the world’s poor, for the most part. Rather, such foreign aid serves to prop up corrupt dictators, finance a giant network of Western nonprofits, disrupt local markets, and keep many of the intended beneficiaries dependent and poor. Even private aid often has deleterious effects. Or at least Poverty, Inc., a 2014 film by Michael Matheson Miller of the Christian, free-market Acton Institute, plausibly argues those points. Continue reading “Hurting the World’s Poor in the Name of Helping Them—Poverty, Inc.

Why Many Americans Don’t Work

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

As Stephen Moore points out in an article for the Heritage Foundation, “at least one million jobs . . . go begging” for employees, even as the unemployment rate remains high. Why? Undoubtedly it has much to do with the fact that the high-paying jobs in question, in manufacturing, trucking, and energy, are hard work.

Of course, the fact that the federal government pays people not to work is also a big factor, as Moore explains:

Too many Americans have come to view blue collar jobs or skilled artisan jobs as beneath them. Contributing to this attitude is the wide availability of unemployment insurance, food stamps, mortgage bailout funds and other welfare. Taking these taxpayer handouts is somehow seen as normal and a first, not a last resort.

Moore laments the widespread loss of the “old-fashioned work ethic.” But there are many signs of hope in this regard, in Dirty Jobs, in North Dakota, in the factories and offices across America where millions of people go to work every day.

Good Grief: Now Free Tampons Are “A Human Right”?

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Recent I asked, “Seriously, is there any good or service the left doesn’t want to turn into a welfare program?” Apparently the answer is no. In an op-ed for the Guardian, Jessica Valenti suggests that free tampons are a human right. She concludes, “Why aren’t tampons free?” (Hat tip to the Washington Examiner.)

To answer Valenti’s question, tampons aren’t free because they don’t fall from the sky from the Great Vagina God; someone has to produce them, and that costs money. If a tampon is “free” for one person, that means someone else is paying for it. And if government provides “free” tampons, that means government is forcing someone else to pay for them. Where is the feminist ideal of consent when it comes to forcing others to pay for your stuff?

But much of what Valenti writes makes a lot of sense. She’s right that access to menstrual hygiene products is extremely important, and she’s right that such products should not be subject to sales tax. (Of course, I hold that nothing should be subject to sales tax.)

I want to conclude by switching gears to address a related issue. I didn’t realize it at first, but the very heavy menstruation cycles my wife used to have were not normal. They made her weak and anemic. In fact, as we eventually learned, they were caused by uterine fibroids, non-cancerous growths in the uterus. My wife’s life changed radically for the better when she got fibroid embolization, a procedure performed by Dr. Brooke Spencer of RIA Endovascular. (My wife has given me permission to discuss her case, in the hopes of altering others to the availability of the procedure.) Ladies, if you have debilitating menstruation cycles, I suggest that you consider getting checked for fibroids—and that, if you have them, you explore the option of embolization. (Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or medical professional, and this post does not constitute medical advice.) For details read my report about my wife’s procedure.

Poopy Pants Welfare

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Seriously, is there any good or service the left doesn’t want to turn into a welfare program? The latest example comes from California, where Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has proposed Bill 1516 to start a new welfare program to provide “$80 a month to buy diapers for children under the age of 2,” Fox News reports. Even if you’re going to have forced wealth transfers, there’s no reason to make them for such specific goods and services. Or government could protect people’s rights to keep and spend their wealth as they see fit. This latest proposal sounds like something my two-year-old nephew thought up; “poopy pants” tends to be his knee-jerk response to any pressing question of the day.

Welfare State Violates Rights, AEI’s Claims Notwithstanding

Image: Gage Skidmore
Image: Gage Skidmore

The Objective Standard just published my critique of the American Enterprise Institute’s position on the welfare state (at least as expressed by its president and two of its writers): “AEI Writer Invokes ‘Implicit Contract’ and other Fantasies to Excuse Government Coercion.” Whereas representatives of AEI claim the welfare state is beneficial and moral, I point out it “relies on coercive, rights-violating confiscations of wealth.”

A More Efficient Welfare State Still Violates Rights: On Paul Ryan’s Plan

Image: Gage Skidmore
Image: Gage Skidmore

The Objective Standard just published my article on Paul Ryan’s anti-poverty proposal. Here’s the summary: “If Ryan’s plan reduces welfare dependency and gives taxpayers better results for their dollars, it might represent a marginal improvement over current policy. But it is still riddled with political and moral problems.” See also yesterday’s post on the subject.

Paul Ryan and the American Enterprise Institute Endorse the Welfare State

With his new anti-poverty plan, Paul Ryan explicitly endorses the welfare state (which he calls a “safety net”), notes James Pethokoukis for the American Enterprise Institute—and so does Pethokoukis. Don Watkins of the Ayn Rand Institute replies that a coercive welfare state is immoral, although a voluntarily funded “safety net” is not. Pethokoukis replies that he and AEI emphatically support the welfare state, although a modified one, and think it’s not going away.

Denver Post Publishes Bologne About Food Stamps

It’s a little discouraging that,  after I conducted two separate “food stamp diets”—spending less on food than is available from food stamps—the Denver Post is still publishing nonsense about food stamps.

A coule days ago the Post published the following commentary:

[Newark Mayor Cory] Booker suggested they both [he and a critic] live on food stamps for a short time and see how they fare. The woman, known as TwitWit, reportedly has agreed.

Given that the average monthly food stamp benefit per person in New Jersey is somewhere around $133 a month, they’ll have their work cut out for them.

We see a lot of ramen noodles in their near future.

However, as I wrote back in 2007, the “average” figure is NOT the amount of funds available for food.

The current information is as follows. Perhaps this time the Denver Post will actually attend to the relevant facts:

SNAP [the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] expects families receiving benefits to spend 30 percent of their net income on food. Families with no net income receive the maximum benefit, which equals the cost of the USDA Thrifty Food Plan (a diet plan intended to provide adequate nutrition at a minimal cost). For all other households, the monthly SNAP benefit equals the maximum benefit for that household size minus the household’s expected contribution.

The maximum amount available for a single person is $200 per month, or $6.67 per day.

Now, whether the government should actually provide food stamps is a much broader debate. That it provides food stamps to 42.4 million Americans is a disquieting reminder that the American economy remains weak as the welfare state expands.

Waiting for Liberty

President Obama says “we can’t wait…” for more mortgage bailouts. But political intervention in the economy is what caused the mortgage crises and our continued economic troubles.

The Objective Standard published my latest article, “Yes, President Obama, We Can’t Wait.” I write:

… In addition to bailing out those who irresponsibly bought houses beyond their means, HARP also bails out irresponsible lenders — those who willingly lent funds to those with poor credit. The federal government thus showers the irresponsible with unearned benefits while harming taxpayers and artificially propping up the price of houses. …

Check out the entire piece!