Showing posts with label economic freedom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economic freedom. Show all posts

Sunday, January 27, 2019

A License To Speak (part 1)

Source: Institute for Justice

In some states it is illegal to offer dietary advice without the government's permission. Florida resident, military spouse and health coach Heather Kokesch Del Castillo learned first hand how far state's will go to protect their cartelized industries. In this instance, she ran up against the Dietetics industry and the state was willing to censor her. Heather moved from California to Florida in the summer of 2015 after her husband, who is in the Air Force, was transferred to a base in Fort Walton Beach. Heather earned a private health-coaching certification in 2013 from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The state of California did not require Heather to become a licensed dietetician to give diet advice to willing clients, but Florida's Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Act defines 'dietetics' so broadly that it inlcudes offering any dietary advice for compensation. The Florida Department of Health first contacted Heather when they conducted a sting operation against her. One of their agents emailed heather pretending to be a man named Pat Smith who was looking for information that could help him personalize a weight loss program. In response, Heather offered him a free consultation and asked for his health history. The agent was not charged for any of the information provided to him and he was not solicited to buy anything from her. Heather does not sell supplements, perform diagnostic procedures, or claim to be a licensed dietetician. Her health coaching practice only involves talking to clients, on an individualized basis, about their food choices for compensation. She helps them sift through information that is already available to the public online. The Florida Department of Health subsquently issued a cease and desist and fined Heather $750 for giving dietary advice without a license. In order to continue her Health coaching service, Heather would have to spend 4 years getting a bachelors in Nutrition Science, complete 900 hours of internships, and pay $200 to take a board certified exam, but Heather has neither the time nor the money it would take to meet the state's requirements and neither does the vast majority of the population.

Similar cases have arisen in other states. Perhaps the worst example occured in North Carolina back in 2011 when the Board of Dietetics threatened a paleo blogger with imprisonment if he didn't stop offering dietary advice on his website or even through emails and phone calls. The blogger in question did not even demand compensation for his writing, he was simply offering his experience with different foods and supplements. If talking about food is restricted speech it is not hard to conceive that the government could place more contentious subjects behind licensing barriers. The recent fake news and Russian meddling hysteria, originally orchestrated by the Democratic establishment against the alternative media, offers ample opportunity for state governments to find fertile ground for the censorship of critics via licensing requirements.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

State Imposed Smoking Bans Don't Protect Workers

This is a follow up response to a post made by @eric-the-red Free Market Solutions.

A common argument for forcing restaurants, bars, and casinos to kick smokers out of their establishment is that it protects the workers from secondhand smoke. This might be a valid contention if it weren’t for the inconvenient fact that restaurant, bar, and casino workers are significantly more inclined to smoke than the general population. In fact, according to the CDC they are about 1.5x more likely to smoke than workers in other industries.

CDC analyzed National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data for 2011–2013 to estimate current cigarette smoking prevalence among adults working in the accommodation and food services sector, and found that these workers had higher cigarette smoking prevalence (25.9%) than all other workers (17.3%).

Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant would intuitively know this. This is what the waitstaff do on their breaks. Saying your intention is to protect them from secondhand smoke is kind of worthless if they’re already inhaling first hand smoke at a significantly higher rate than the customers they serve.

Of course this isn’t an endorsement of cigarette smoking or any other kind of smoking for that matter. I am personally against smoking; putting tar in your lungs is never a good idea. Smoking is bad M'kay, but you are the only one with a moral claim to your own body; only you have the prerogative to decide what you put in it. In a state of affairs where unhealthy behavior wasn’t subsidized at the taxpayers expense, the grim consequences would deter such behavior. Despite its posturing and moral grandstanding on the issue of smoking, the government, through its department of agriculture still subsidizes crop insurance premiums for tobacco farms, and until 2004 the government fixed tobacco leaf prices to guarantee high profits to farms.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Your American Freedoms Only Exist On Paper

The original intent of the Anti-Aggression League blog wasn't just to debunk Uncle Sam's propaganda and expose his corruption. It was in a much larger sense meant to be a counter narrative to American exceptionalism. I find this single sentiment more contemptible than any other ideology that has ever been thought up, for at the moment it is the most dangerous sentiment anyone can hold. It breeds content with the status quo. It implies that there is no room for improvement; if you are already the best, in every conceivable way, there is no getting better. The most common refrain I here to this effect is that America is the freest country in the world, which implies that our government completely respects our rights (obviously not true as I have pointed out hundreds of times). Another common refrain is that America is the land of opportunity; the land of milk and honey. The regulatory burdens that the federal, state and city governments have placed on small business owners tells a different story. Another common myth is that America is a democracy and politicians are accountable to the people, which implies that we are safeguarded against corruption. As a result of the widespread belief in American exceptionalism most Americans take their rights and freedom for granted. Yet, despite taking their rights for granted, ironically, most Americans don’t even know what rights they have, in the same way that they don’t know how much money they spend or how many possessions they have, hence consumerism. For this reason, it might be helpful to show that the rights Americans have under U.S. constitutional law and moral law have all but been obliterated under the pretense of national security and public safety.

Freedom of speech, expression, assembly, and the press

The right to film public officials in public places is freedom of the press, as determined in Glik v. Cunniffe, and yet police officers constantly violate the first amendment by arresting civilians simply for filming them.

Rochester Police Arrest Man For Filming Them

Syracuse NY Man Arrested For Filming The Police

1st amendment audit Greer police department South Carolina

Video Shows Cop Attack And Arrest Innocent Pregnant Woman for Filming Him

NY Man Has Gun Pointed At Him and Home Illegally Raided For Filming The Police

NYPD Arrests 5 Activists In 3 Days For Filming Their Attack on A 74-yo Man

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. A vigilant citizenry has never been more critical in this day in age in which so called law enforcement, and their neoconservative lackeys (tried and true jack boot licking pro-cop simps) believe there should be no restraints on what the police can do at either the federal, state or local level. It’s funny how the same people who defend dragnet surveillance techniques like cell site simulators object to sousveillance of public officials under circumstances where, unlike the former, there is no expectation of privacy. Allowing people to film the police on the job should be a no brainer given the fact that there is an entire TV series dedicated to filming police on the job. Pro-cop simps are never short in supply.

The right to desecrate and ‘disrespect’ the American flag is symbolic freedom of speech, and yet 40 states still have anti - flag desecration laws on the books, which are sometimes enforced, though it is important to note that none of the people who have been charged with this imaginary crime, equivalent to anti-blasphemy laws in Saudi Arabia, have been put on trial.

Illinois Man Arrested After Burning U.S. Flag

I don’t know what’s sadder, the fact that the Illinois legislature passed an anti-flag desecration law as recently as 2013, or the fact that police arrested him just to protect him from crazed lunatics who think burning a certain piece of colored fabric should cost you your life.

Iowan Accused of Desecrating U.S. Flag In Pipeline Protest

I covered this story back in August. This army veteran wasn’t even technically desecrating the banner; flying the flag upside down down signals distress not disrespect.

Why a Penn. man arrested for flag desecration was awarded 55,000

There are even earlier cases then this one. The fact that criminalizing flag desecration would even be taken into consideration, to the extent that it would warrant an act of congress (see Flag Protection Act) shows just how far we have slipped into a police state.

The right to protest grievances is freedom of speech, expression and assembly, yet the FBI has taken it upon themselves to harass and intimidate those on the political fringe by spying on them, blacklisting them, and harassing them at their residents without suspicion of criminal activity, just as they did in the 60’s and 70’s during the conintelpro days in Colorado and other states in the summer of 2004. A three-page report discusses the events of July 22, 2004, when two teams of JTTF agents, accompanied by Denver police officers in SWAT gear, appeared at two Denver residences on Lipan Street that are home to a number of young political activists, including Bardwell. Bardwell explained at the time that the JTTF agents demanded to know if she and her housemates were planning to commit crimes at the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions and whether they knew anyone who was planning such crimes. They also threatened that failing to provide information to the FBI was a criminal offense.’ The harassment ranges from showing up to the houses of activists with a paramilitary force to conduct frivolous searches of residence for evidence of ‘material support for terrorism.’

New documents confirm FBI's joint-terrorism task force targets peaceful activists for harassment and political surveillance

FBI targets peace activists for alleged terrorism support

FBI watched activist groups new files show

You see a terrorist is an American citizen who visits certain websites and participates in certain political causes. Animal rights activists, environmentalists (called ‘eco-terrorists’ by the FBI), anti -war groups, and people who generally hold anti-government views are considered domestic terrorist threats by the FBI. Washington funded salafist militias like Ahrar al Sham, Jaish al-Fatah, and the FSA that burn down churches, massacre religious/ethnic minorities, and engage in extortion are not terrorists but ‘moderate rebels’ and ‘freedom fighters.’

As Benjamin Franklin once said “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.” We cannot have a free and democratic society if law enforcement is allowed to censor their critics and anyone who doesn’t fall in line with popular sentiment as prescribed by public schools and corporate media outlets.

Freedom from warrantless searches, surveillance, and seizures of property or any unreasonable searches and seizures of property

"the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

It should be well recognized that the Bill of rights are not an exhaustive list of our rights but rather a list of limitations on the government’s power at both the federal, state, and local level, but especially at the federal level. The 4th amendment is not only a matter of constitutional law, but also moral law. The gradual erosion of our 4th amendment protections has been particularly devastating because the gatekeepers in msm don’t talk about it except for the controversial NSA prism program. What they don’t tell you is that this is done at the local and state level as well with stingray surveillance which, indiscriminately collects cellphone data. They don’t tell you that FBI field offices basically have subpoena power through National Security Letters, which allows them to demand personal information, including phone records and browsing history, from any citizen’s telecommunications providers. They won’t tell you that the NSA can share the information they incidentally gather on citizens with domestic law enforcement with CISA, the latest congressional assault against the 4th amendment, which not only gives Tech companies immunity to share your personal information with the DHS and requires the DHS to further share your personal information with the NSA, DOD, and Director of National intelligence. Even the Supreme Court has joined the butchered ruling in Utah v. Strieff that the police can use evidence illegally obtained in court against a defendant, through parallel construction, if they weren’t aware that they have breached the 4th amendment at the time of a search or seizure: basically just an extension of ‘qualified immunity.’ The 4th amendment has not fared much better at the state level either. The Wisconsin Supreme Court completely nullified the 4th amendment, under their jurisdiction, in a recent ruling that officers may search homes and seize evidence without a warrant if they are exercising their ‘community caretaker’ function. The fifth circuit court appeals in Texas also decided to nullify the 4th amendment when they ruled that having religious memorabilia and air freshener in one’s vehicle constitutes probable cause of a crime. In New York and other major cities, the police departments have ‘stop and frisk’ policies that allow their officers to stop passing civilians and search their person with only reasonable suspicion, which only justifies temporarily detaining someone and questioning them; reasonable cause is required to justify a search.

Freedom from extrajudicial killings, arbitrary seizures of property, and eminent domain seizures of property by private companies

‘No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without DUE PROCESS OF LAW; nor shall private property be taken for PUBLIC USE, without just compensation.’ is the pertinent part of the 5th amendment that has been curtailed and the instances are numerous. Under the Obama admin, four American citizens, suspected of terrorist activities, were executed by drone strikes without a jury trial and grand jury indictment. It was the same admin that signed indefinite detention into law using the annual NDAA as a Trojan horse.

We should not expect to lose our freedom or property without a criminal or civil proceeding and recourse to appeal such decisions, but this is not the case in the USSA. The terrorist watch list and no - fly lists allows the DHS to deprive any American of their freedom to travel and leave the country without a criminal proceeding and there is no way to appeal their decision. These watch lists have become so commonplace that some people want to use it to deny anyone on these lists the right to buy a gun.

In the U.S. law enforcement have become the highwaymen of old, stealing more from Americans than common criminals through civil asset forfeiture, which allows LEOs to seize property without charging the victim with a crime much less waiting for a criminal conviction; they just have to claim that the property resulted from a crime or is linked to a crime. The stolen property is usually used for their personal benefit and the spoils of robbery are shared with the feds.

Eminent Domain was always explicitly restricted to taking private property for public uses (e.g. roads, bridges, canals, utilities etc), but this changed after the Kelo v. New London decision which gave private corporations like the New London Development Corporation and Pfizer the power to seize the property of private individuals for their own (rent-seeking) profit. The Supreme court justified this ruling using the typical neoliberal talking points about ‘job creation’ and ‘trickle down wealth.’ It’s important to note that exactly zero jobs were created in the years following New London Development Corporation’s eminent domain seizure of people’s homes.


There are also many more frivolous laws that breach our natural rights, such as the anti-structuring laws that prohibit people from making frequent deposits of less than $10,000 from their own bank accounts. Of course, anti-structuring laws and civil asset forfeiture are the spawns of a much greater monstrosity called the war on drugs, a denial of self-ownership. If the government can decide what you can and cannot put in your own body, then you do not legally own your own body: the government does. Though to speak frankly, the federal government is simply a tool in this regards; a means to further the ends of the pharmaceutical industry and the private prison industry. Millions have died and over a trillion dollars have been wasted to protect the cartelized pharmaceutical industry from non-patented substances, and if the DEA's latest ban on Kratom is any indication of current progress towards drug decriminalization, then there is no end in sight.

Drug prohibition is not the only remnant from the 1970's. Draft registration is still compelled under penalty of law and was just recently expanded to include women. Although the draft hasn't been used in the past four decades, to even entertain the notion that a government should force its young adults to die for the profits of defense contractors is morally repulsive. To make a long story short, the U.S. is becoming a police state, and that is just part of the problem. This in itself should be a cause to protest It might not be a North Korea or PRC, yet, but it is by far one of the most authoritarian developed nations in the world, ranked 20th on the Human Freedom Index. When people fume over Kaepernick's national anthem protest the old adage strain at a gnat and swallow a camel comes to mind. If Kaepernick's refusal to stand during the anthem upset you, ask yourself what freedoms are you celebrating? Americans are always so boastful about their supposed freedoms, yet they stay silent when these freedoms are taken away. The selective outrage is really a reflection of poor national character.

Occupational Freedom

Legend has it that the U.S. is the land of opportunity; the land of milk and honey where anyone can live the 'American dream' (you have to be asleep to believe it) with enough hard work and dedication. And you'd think that a country that prides itself on freedom and work ethic would be friendly to entrepreneurs. The reality is starkly different. In the USSA, there doesn't seem to be any gig that you can do without needing a team of bureaucrats to sign off on it, however trivial it may be in the grand scheme of 'public safety.' For instance, to install home entertainment systems in Connecticut you have to earn a high school diploma, pay a $185 application fee, pass a test, and work as an apprentice for one year. To legally sell flowers in Louisiana, one has to pay a $189 application fee and pass a florist exam. All 50 states require a license to become a barber. On average, a prospective barber must pay $154 in fees, sit out a year for education, and pass two exams just to legally cut other peoples' hair. Even something as mundane as cutting grass for pay, something teenagers often do for recreational money, requires a business license in a growing number of cities. The absurdity of occupational licensing laws knows no bounds. As I have reported in previous Red Tape Times posts, people have been threatened with fines and sometimes prison for offering dietary advice without the government's permission, teaching makeup without the government's permission, critiquing traffic lights without the government's permission, playing music in a bar without the government's permission, selling teeth whitening products without the government's permission, and selling home cooked meals to neighbors without the government's permission (also here). Aside from Occupational licensing, entrepreneurs must also contend with certificates of public convenience and necessity. These laws demand that start ups prove there is a 'public need' for their goods or services and they won't harm their competitors. They're also required to obtain permission from incumbent businesses before they start taking customers. The problem is further compounded by the fact that the courts always assume these regulations are constitutional until proven otherwise. If you thought they had a low standard for civil liberties, they have an even lower standard for economic freedom.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Farmers Along Proposed Pipeline Route Fight Eminent Domain

Source: NJTV News

Another day another story illustrating that property rights don’t really exist in our supposedly freedom loving ultra capitalist country. Apparently freedom means some businesses are free to steal property from other businesses at gunpoint as long as it generates more revenue for the state.

The PennEast Pipeline Co. has filed 92 eminent domain lawsuits against landowners in New Jersey in conjunction with the construction of a 120 mile natural gas pipeline that runs from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania to Mercer County, New Jersey. The inevitable victims of the proposed robbery include Jacqueline Evans, who co-owns Haut Farm in Stockton, NJ, and her neighbors T.C. and Joe Buchanan, who own an adjacent orchard.

Jacqueline Evans has been running her farm for over five years, but she says she’s at risk of losing everything. “We love our home, we don’t want to leave, and this is wrong. It’s for an unneeded pipeline,” she said.

All of those trespassing surveyors that have been on our property, Michigan, New York, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Florida, their license plates were from all over the place. Nobody was from New Jersey,” said T.C. Buchanan. “The unions are saying, we're going to get jobs. If there are any jobs, it’s going to be temporary. They said it’s seven weeks to seven months maximum for workers, and in the meantime, they put all the farms out of business.

Did I mention this will be an armed robbery? The pipeline company received approval from the FERC in January, but have yet to obtain the requisite rubber stamps from the Delaware River Basin Commission and New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection. Despite lacking the necessary permits, PennEast Pipeline Co. has already requested the assistance of U.S. Marshals to maul any landowners who might resist the proposed robbery.

“They’re also filing on the ability to use U.S. Marshals and force against us if we resist,” said Evans. “I don’t understand why they need to have U.S. Marshals with guns. I have little kids, they’ve been traumatized by this enough, so that took my breath away that they would do that, but it falls in line with how they’ve treated us all along.”

With Trump in the oval office this will undoubtedly go through and be hailed as progress by his braindead supporters. Apparently, progress is setting precedents that weaken property rights and concede more power to the state and favored corporations.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Elderly Couple Arrested For Buying Plants Without State Permission

Sources: The Kansas City Star

New York Times: U.S. Is Pressed to Comply With Wildlife Protection Treaty

It’s not the kind of plants you would expect either. Kermit and Sandy Schofield from Theodosia, MO could receive a 5 year prison sentence for purchasing ginseng root in Arkansas and transporting it back to Missouri without obtaining the government’s permission, and for doing so outside a 6 month window in which the government allows people to purchase the herb. The couple bought ginseng root in bulk to sell through their home business, Schofield Roots and Herbs, without having a certification to do so, which is in part the result of an international treaty, called the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. What most people don’t realize is that much of our laws, like this one, are dictated by international treaties and international bodies not subject to democratic scrutiny. The aforementioned treaty shaped U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy for animals like lynx and snow leopard as well as herbs like ginseng. However, unlike the first two examples, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is not listed in the Endangered Species Act. In fact, ginseng is abundant across the midwest and east coast states; the root is sold by botanical stores everywhere. It’s hard to imagine what interest the government would have in protecting this plant other than extorting people to support their bloated bureaucracy. In reality, private landowners have more of a vested interest in the preservation of this plant than any paper pusher in Washington, especially if it’s one of the means by which they make a living.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

People Are Arrested For Pot Even When It's Legal

Source: Fox News of all places

Even if you sell or consume cannabis in a state where it’s legal, and even if you jump the myriad of permit and licensing hurdles required to do so, you can still be arrested. Case in point, California Highway Patrol arrested two employees of Old Kai Distribution, a pot delivery company in Mendocino County. Now recreational pot has been legal in California since 2016 and the company in question has a license to legally transport cannabis within the county, but that didn’t prevent the state police thugs from kidnapping them, taking their van, and taking someone else’s pot. What’s their justification? The company didn’t follow a law that hasn’t taken effect yet. According to CHP commissioner Warren Stanley, the company didn’t also have a state license to legally transport cannabis, but the licenses won’t be issued and take effect until the first of next year. We live in a country where the government can not only apply laws selectively and retroactively, but they can also enforce laws that don’t exist yet. That is why I’m skeptical of the whole marijuana legalization movement; it will only work in countries with rule of law: countries that don’t enforce laws selectively and don’t enforce the capricious will of officials. The saddest part is that people’s businesses are ruined because of this. The family farm that grew this cannabis lost their entire harvest for the year, and the retail businesses that sell it lost the money they put towards purchasing it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Abolish Occupational Licensing

Source: The Atlantic, License To Work

EMTs hold lives in their hands, yet 73 other occupations have greater average licensure burdens: barbers and cosmetologists, home entertainment installers, interior designers, log scalers, manicurists and numerous contractor designations … while the average cosmetologist must complete 386 days of training, the average EMT must complete a mere 34. Even the average tree trimmer must complete more than 16 times the amount of education and experience.

In the USSA, there doesn't seem to be any gig that you can do without needing a team of bureaucrats to sign off on it, however trivial it may be in the grand scheme of 'public safety.' For instance, to install home entertainment systems in Connecticut you have to earn a high school diploma, pay a $185 application fee, pass a test, and work as an apprentice for one year. To legally sell flowers in Louisiana, one has to pay a $189 application fee and pass a florist exam. All 50 states require a license to become a barber. On average, a prospective barber must pay $154 in fees, sit out a year for education, and pass two exams just to legally cut other peoples' hair. Even something as mundane as cutting grass for pay, something teenagers often do for recreational spending, requires a business license in a growing number of cities. The absurdity of occupational licensing laws knows no bounds. As I have reported in previous Red Tape Times posts, people have been threatened with fines and sometimes prison for offering dietary advice without the government's permission, teaching makeup without the government's permission, critiquing traffic lights without the government's permission, playing music in a bar without the government's permission, selling teeth whitening products without the government's permission, and selling home cooked meals to neighbors without the government's permission (also here). At this point, a list of jobs you're allowed to do without the government's permission would be much shorter than a list of jobs you need their permission to do. State and local governments, in conjuction with industry licensing boards, are making an ever growing number of services illegal without a government shakedown. This creates barriers for innovation, growth, and self-employment opportunities for the working class Americans. A radical measure is needed to end this insanity: abolish occupational licensing, along with the state licensing boards that implement them and the industry lobbyists that control them. It won't be pretty, initially, but over time we will see how consumers can join together to regulate the quality of the services they're provide. The first conception may be rating systems specific to certain kinds of services, and this may evolve into private credentialing over time. Eliminating the rigid top down structure of licensing boards would open up multiple avenues for keeping proprietors honest and competent without creating burdensome hurdles for honest and competent people trying to become proprietors.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Red Tape Times (article 38)

Licensed out: How Government licensing keeps Americans from working

Source: Pacific Legal Foundation

40 years ago only 5% of Americans needed a license to work in their field. Today a quarter of Americans need an occupational license to work. Occupational licensure isn't just required for prestigious jobs such as being a doctor or lawyer; it is now
mandatory for such innocuous jobs as braiding hair,
applying makeup, selling flowers , and even cutting grass
The growth of occupational licensure has cost consumers $203B in higher prices and the economy 2.9M fewer jobs.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Red Tape Times (article 37)

North Carolina Prohibits Immigrant Woman From Teaching Makeup Without The Government's Permission

Source: Forbes

Jasna, a war refugee from the Balkans, became a licensed esthetician and began practicing makeup artistry, in North Carolina, in 2010. Last October, she attempted to start an academy to teach makeup techniques to other licensed estheticians and amateurs, but was prohibited from doing so by the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Arts Examiners Chief of Enforcement. After she announced the openning of the Dahlia Institute of Makeup Artistry on Facebook, the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Arts Examiners caught wind of it and threatened her with fines unless she obtained an esthetician teacher license. Obtaining an esthetician teacher license would require Jasna to buy $10,000 worth of equipment she wouldn't need such as a thermal wax system, a facial vaporizer, and a galvanic current apparatus. On top of the unnecessary capital expenditures, Jasna would also be required to teach the state's 600 hour esthetician curriculum, only a fraction of which addresses makeup. Of the 170 performances the state requires students to complete its esthetician curriculum, only 30 are related to makeup application. In other words, Jasna would have to teach other arts in an academy exclusively devoted to makeup. North Carolina is one of thirty-six states that require a license to apply makeup for pay. Most states require people to get three to nine months of education and experience, pass two exams, and pay an average of $116 in fees just to apply makeup for pay.

The Institute for Justice is contesting North Carolina's esthetician teacher licensing requirement on 1st amendment grounds, although this doesn't get to the heart of the matter. While the occupational licensing mandate for teaching makeup certainly stiffles free speech it imposes a much greater economic burden on women interested in cosmetics, especially lower class immigrant women. The opportunity and financial cost the state imposes on would be makeup artist is the most burdensome on this demographic who don't necessarily have the luxury of spending hundreds of hours on course work and thousands of dollars on education and licensing for something that could be learned for free on Youtube. Of course, the fact that occupational licensing tends to hurt the poor is not what makes it horrendous. The principle of the matter is that you shouldn't need the government's permission to make a living: to provide for your needs and the needs of others, especially doing something as mundane as teaching about makeup. The liberty to work, is the liberty to provide food, shelter, clothing, and savings for yourself, and perhaps some luxury items if you can afford them. To prohibit a person from working is to prevent them from meeting their basic needs and saving for future needs at gun point; in short, it is to rob them of their dignity and force them into a subordinate position.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Full Decriminalization Is The Only Way To End The War On Drugs

Last Thursday, Fox5 reported that twelve people were arrested for growing and selling cannabis in San Deigo. In most parts of the country this doesn't seem like anything extraordinary. Of course they got arrested for selling cannabis, it's a schedule 1 substance. However, recreational cannabis is legal in California. They weren't arrested for the cannabis, but for growing and selling it without a government permit. As long as the state remains the gate keeper of who can enter the cannabis market people will still be incarcerated for growing, selling, distributing, and ingesting the plant even if it isn't the electorate's intention. Only full deregulation of the growing, selling, distributing, and ingesting of cannabis will keep non-violent and otherwise benign offenders out of the crimminal training grounds known as the US prison system, which is also filled with illicit drugs despite the totalitarian control governments wield in them. Allowing people to enter the cannabis business without the government's permission would turn it into a true buyers market driving down prices and profit margins, which would make it less lucrative for organized crime who can undercut permited businesses and more transparent to consumers for whom there is already a wealth of information available on cannabis. It was government prohibition that created the black market and made it a windfall for organized crime in the first place by causing artifical scarcity. Erecting a new barrier in its place will keep the black market in existence. Full decriminalization would not exclude an age restriction; selling to persons under 21 could still be punished as contributing to the delinquency of a minor as it is with alcohol and tobacco. It would also not exclude legal sanctions against people who drive while high or while hot boxing. This could be considered reckless driving or a DUI under certain circumstances.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Political Superstitions (part 6): The President Does Not Manage The Economy

Or at least he's not suppose to, unless you live in a country like Venezuela (in which case I would advise you to get the hell out of there). In fact, the constitution delegates very little to the president; Article II section 2 provides a very short summary of powers and duties delegated to the president:

  1. Commander and chief of the Armed Forces when called into service
  2. Power to grant reprieves and pardons for crimes against the U.S. except
    in cases of impeachment
  3. Make treaties with the concurrence of 2/3 of the senate
  4. Appoint Ambassadors, public Ministers, Consuls, and Judges of the supreme Court
    with the consent of the senate
  5. Fill any vacancies in the senate during recess

That's it. The president isn't suppose to be some kind of superhero out to save the world; he's not suppose to create (private sector) jobs, or bring peace to the world, or control gas prices, or help you pay your rent. The president was simply meant to be a constitutional officer who signs bills into law and protects us from foreign and domestic enemies. If Trump had only promised to eradicate ISIS and enforce immigration laws by building a wall on the southern border he would be tops in my books, but like the typical egomaniac he had to promise the moon. He promised to bring back coal mining, bring back manufacturing jobs (which have been on a slight uptick for the past 5 years), and now he wants to bring back apprenticeships. Trump recently signed an executive order to create a White House initiative to expand apprenticeships; the only problem is that it's based on the same fallacious reasoning as his other far fetched promises. It is private companies that generate profits that enable them to expand their businesses and hire more employees or apprentices. Now the president can certainly facilitate this process by cutting red tape and reducing fiscal burdens, but he in no way generates the profits of millions of companies that contribute to economic growth in the aggregate and increase the demand for labor. The president's job, and the function of the federal government as a whole, is to maintain a hospitable environment for the private sector. Trump would have to be omniscient in order to manage the economy. He would have to know the time and circumstances of every transaction, the daily output of every business in primary industry as well as those in secondary industry; he would always need to know final domestic demand, not just in aggregate, but for every consumer and capital good conceivable, including ones that have not been invented yet. He would have to manage thousands of assembly lines, oil wells, retail spaces, mutual funds etc. while also performing the duties assigned to him as president. The truth is that one man doesn't create jobs; millions of market actors pursuing disparate interests create jobs, and to the effect that the president can make this process easier he can be said to be a catalyst for job creation, but he is not creating jobs.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Red Tape Times (article 34)

Wisconsin Bans Ungraded Butter Despite Lack of Health Risk

Source: Pacific Legal Foundation

Minerva Dairy, a family owned cheese and butter dairy that produces handcrafted artisanal butter can sell its products in all 49 other states. Wisconsin has recently begun enforcing a 40 year old statute that requires all butter sold within the state to be either USDA graded or graded by the state of Wisconsin, but not all diaries can afford the process. In order to be graded, Minerva would have to store up a week's worth of butter and pay for a USDA grader to be flown in every week. Minerva already has all of the business licenses required to make dairy products and operates in a USDA approved facility. The dubious grading process ensures every batch meets the USDA's standards for commodity butter, but Minerva doesn't make a commodity butter and most butters sold in the U.S. are not USDA graded. More than likely the Dairy lobby is behind the enforcement of this statute, just as they pushed to ban the 'Milk' label for non-dairy milks, to legislate away out of state competition. Regardless, interstate protectionism is illegal under the dormant commerce clause which prohibits states from discriminating against or impeding interstate commerce. More importantly, moral law grants every person the right to engage in voluntary transactions provided they do not impose a cost of their transaction on an uninvolved third party. It is plain that buying and selling artisanal cheese in no way exceeds the mutual limits of equal freedom while restricting such activity does.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Red Tape Times (article 10)

Could there be anything stranger than the sentiment that governments should dictate the aesthetic values of their citizens? Imagine if a government were to prohibit certain styles of painting or certain genres of music. That would be fascism you say? But that is the same line of reasoning that municipal governments across the country use to prohibit their citizens from living in houses under a certain arbitrary square footage minimum. The Etowah City Commission amended an ordinance that prohibits houses under 600 square feet on the grounds that it is "not in Etowah's best interest to have 200 square foot housing on a lot that had two regular sized houses on either side"and the slippery slope argument that if allowed tiny homes (under 600 square feet) would become commonplace, instead of remaining the rare exception as they are in cities where they are allowed, and significantly lower property values, consequently reducing city revenue. The Wasilla City Council placed a temporary moratorium on the construction of single family dwellings smaller than 700 square feet. Their reason was an appeal to a time in the past when a tiny home tenement became crime ridden, which was really a result of their own policy failures. The drug epidemics that spur crime waves result from government policy failures, not anything that emerges organically from society. The same is true of poverty and all other social ills. Similarly, the construction code of Boise does not permit homes under a few hundred square feet because the city's central planner is concerned with "the health and safety" of their residents, even thought they are still much safer and healthier than Idaho's 2,247 homeless people and the rapidly growing unsheltered population in Boise, which has increased by 122% in the last year to be sure. In light of this abysmal failure, it seems to me that the wisest thing for these Boise bureaucrats to do would be to swallow their pride and step out of the way of entrepreneurial types who've thought up a new solution to the problem of finding affordable housing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Red Tape Times (article 9)

Single mother arrested for selling home cooked food without the government's permission
A Stockton woman faces an impending trial and potential jail time after she joined a social media community food group, and sold some of the meals she cooked, which San Joaquin County officials say is against the law. 
Mariza Reulas was cited by San Joaquin County for selling an illegal substance, but it wasn't a powder, a pill or a plant. It was her bowl of homemade Ceviche.
She, along with about a dozen others, were cited for two misdemeanors for operating a food facility and engaging in business without a permit.

In order to get the government's permission to trade home cooked meals, Mariza would have needed to pay the good for nothing paper pushers $139 for food consultation, and depending on how big her house/apartment is, any where from $318 to $342 for a Food Establishment permit. More than likely, complying with the arbitrary rules of parasitic bureaucrats would have rendered Mariza Reulas' Facebook food group infeasible because overhead costs would have exceeded any profits. One has to wonder if she would have been arrested for carrying out her food trade through barter or by giving her dishes out to friends for free with the expectation that they would reciprocate. The only likely motive is that the parasites felt gypped because they weren't getting their cut of her earnings.

If permission to sell, barter, or give away food can be denied based on someone's inability to pay extortion fees, it can be denied for any other life sustaining activity. In fact, it was not too long ago that an elderly man was arrested for feeding the homeless. All moral rights are corollaries of the basic fact that an individual cannot sustain his/her life without being allowed the freedom of action to do so. An obvious example of being deprived of the freedom of action requisite to engage in life sustaining activity is being incarcerated or detained. Being required to pay for permits to engage in life sustaining activity is a more subtle example, but the principle remains the same. In both cases the law of equal freedom is violated unless the victim is compensated for his/her loss.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Red Tape Times (article 6)

The Massachusetts legislature recently passed a law which levies a 20 cent head tax on every ride provided through Peer-to-Peer ride sharing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, and redistributes the revenue to traditional taxi cab companies i.e. it is a supply-side subsidy for the taxi cab cartels.

Let's keep this in perspective. This 20 cent head tax will be added on top of the federal income tax, the state income tax, the FICA tax, the sales tax, and the cost (both opportunity cost and real cost) of getting a state sales tax certificate. It is plainly obvious that the taxi lobby is behind this, which is one of the many problems with having a private campaign finance system, but I digress. This particular head tax is not an isolated incident, but part of a much larger systemic problem that permeates every level of government; one of the several failures of current capitalism is governments propping up failed and outdated business models by undercutting their more efficient and innovative, though less politically savvy, competitors. The fallout of such policies is several fold: it creates artificial market entry barriers for smaller startups, reduces the number of employers in the market, and raises the price of the good or service in question. These effects are common to all forms of rent-seeking behavior, whether it is supply-side subsidies, regulatory capture, patent royalties, or tariffs. There is no doubt that the 20 cent head tax will be passed on to customers in the form of higher fares, but more importantly, it will actually have the unintended effect of stifling innovation by discouraging the use of app platforms and peer-to-peer networking that ride sharing companies are built around.

The proponents of this subsidy argue that it's not fair that ride sharing contractors don't have to comply with the same regulatory requirements that the taxi cab industry has to, and so a head tax on ride sharing services makes the competition more fair. What they fail to realize is that even if the taxi industry was to forgo these requirements, the ride sharing companies would still enjoy certain natural advantages over traditional taxi companies like less overhead costs and greater availability. If the taxi cab industry was actually interested in making the competition 'fair' they would lobby their city councils to lift the moratorium on new cab companies (which most cities have) and eliminate occupational licensing requirements, you know, all the things that make them cartels in the first place; of course, they wouldn't do that because it would reduce their profits, which are quasi-rents.

Imagine if congress had levied a head tax on every Netflix subscription and used the revenue to subsidize Blockbuster under the pretense of innovating video rental stores. It would have only been fair since Netflix doesn't have to comply with building codes and occupancy permits. Preposterous, you say? Well its no different than subsidizing taxi cab companies at the expense of ride sharing users, and it is about time the taxi cab cartels went the way of Blockbuster.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Red Tape Times (article 5)

The victims of flooding in South Bend are re-victimized by parasitic paper pushers

St. Joseph County in Indiana received a record rainfall of over 8 inches between Monday, August 15th and Tuesday August 16th causing widespread flooding and subsequent water damage to homes and businesses in South Bend. As if the cost of the damage wasn't enough, residents and business owners will be required to pay extortionate fees for demolition and building permits to the St. Joseph Building Department and pay for an additional permit from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources; The City of South Bend has a graduated fee schedule for repairs, meaning the more it costs, the more you pay for a permit. In the case of one auto service store, Around the Corner Auto Service, it will cost them about $320 just for a building permit to repair their store. But even before that, they will be required to get a demolition permit, which cost 15 cents per square foot with a minimum $40 fee.
If you need a government's permission to do something, then you are not at liberty to do so, because permission can always be denied for even the most superficial reasons. To hold people's property to a ransom, as the City of South Bend has in the aftermath of the flood, is as much a violation of the law of equal liberty as it is to seize their property (e.g. Civil Asset Forfeiture) or evict them from their property (e.g. nuisance abatement laws) without due process; the three differ only in the abstract, since homes can remain uninhabitable and businesses closed until the municipal government grants their owners permission to gut and repair their own property.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Red Tape Times (article 3)

A family in Sugarcreek, Missouri is being threatened with fines for growing their own produce on their own property and the usual suspects are responsible.
Last year they were cited for violating a city ordinance that prohibited homeowners from having weeds in their garden. They complied with this ordinance, but the parasitic bureaucrats in city council decided to pass a new ordinance that prohibited the growth of vegetation in front yards and apply it retroactively, in violation of their own laws specifically the Non-conforming uses clause of Appendix A - Zoning:

A non-conforming use of land, building or structure which existed lawfully at the time of the adoption of the ordinance may be continued indefinitely, except when the use is discontinued or abandoned for one hundred eighty (180) consecutive days, or when there is a change to another non-conforming use. If the use is non-conforming only because of off-street parking or load requirements, the use, building or structure shall have all of the rights of conforming uses. Any alteration, enlargement, repair or restoration of a non-conforming use, building

Sugar Creek Zoning 

This is not just an assault on property rights; this is also an assault on the father's ingenuity (the man who is growing the produce) and ordinary people like him who would rather rely on their own green thumb than consume Monsanto's insecticide laced GMO crap that is being pumped into supermarkets.

The Red Tape Times (article 1)

The Carrollton, TX municipal court issued an arrest warrant for a woman simply because she sold tamales to her neighbors without obtaining a food establishment permit.

It should surprise no one that the same state that prohibits the retail sale of raw milk also considers it a heinous offense, at the city level, for someone to sell home cooked food to his or her neighbors without submitting to the municipal government's extortion racket of licensing fees and business permits. Dennise Cruz never imagined that she would be forced to pay a $700 fine and go to court simply for using her cooking skills and some scraps from her kitchen to make a little extra money selling homemade tamales on the Nextdoor for sale app. Unbeknownst to her, and most people in general, the municipal government requires her to get a Food Establishment Permit, which costs $400 just to submit an application for one, and submit to a host of other regulatory requirements including acquiring a State sales tax permit (which can take up to a month to process once you submit your application), acquiring an occupancy certificate, submitting to food safety inspections and submitting to building code inspections (and the list of requirements continues ad nauseum). The cost of complying with every municipal regulation probably exceeds the small profit she made from her one time sale of tamales to her neighbors. The Carrollton government probably wouldn't have fined her and issued a warrant for her arrest if she would have simply invited her neighbors over for tamales because they aren't actually concerned about 'protecting public health', a phrase which translated from Newspeak to plain English means taking my cut of your earnings without giving anything in return. The rent-seeking motive of these parasitic bureaucrats is transparent to anyone who can read between the lines.  The true intention of imposing a myriad of permits and licensing fees on even the most mundane businesses is to protect larger, politically well connected businesses from startups who are much less likely to afford the inhibitive cost of complying with them. This not only prevents the lower strata of society from starting their own businesses, it also suppresses wages by reducing competition among employers. However, what Dennise did isn't anymore of a business than having a garage sale every so often or paying your neighbor to cut your grass while you are away.