Udderly Ridiculous

The federal government is at it again–meddling in the private marketplace, creating messes, and then trying to sell shoddy, temporary solutions in exchange for people forgetting about the freedom that the government has taken from them.

Recent media stories have stated that if Congress doesn’t act, the price of milk could skyrocket, perhaps more than double from a current average of $3.20 per gallon to more than $7.00 per gallon. What?! You may be asking yourself, why in the world would the price of milk require Congress to pass a law?

Politically motivated simpletons playing at “TV news reporter” wasted no time trying to fan the flames by working up headlines like “GOP Obstinacy May Force Milk Price Spike.” Any honest-minded reporter worthy of the title would have the intellectual honesty to ask how we arrived in our present situation instead of trying a sucker punch to score cheap political points.

As it turns out, more than 60 years ago, Congress passed a law called the Agricultural Act of 1949.  The law gave the federal government the authority and responsibility to “stabilize” the market prices of milk and a variety of other farm products. Government used its extensive knowledge of market forces in agricultural production, such as labor inputs and land yields, to establish a government-mandated formula that would establish a price floor for farm commodities. If the price of milk fell below the “stabilization rate” the federal government could, via the Commodity Credit Corporation (an agency still in existence today), buy up inventories of milk to artificially raise the price of milk to the price the government deemed to be the correct (or “stabilized”) price. The government would then give away the milk it purchased to “friendly countries” or approved non-governmental organizations to further distribute.

Some may say helping farmers makes sense and is worthy of a government program, funded by taxpayers. A price guarantee is a great thing if you’re a farmer–not such a great deal if you’re a taxpayer. The statist response goes something like, “well you like to eat don’t you? So you should be willing to have your taxes support farmers.” But this  argument completely ignores the dynamic facets of a free market system. If enough farmers go bust to affect the food supply, prices will rise and attract new suppliers into the marketplace.

The point is that a free market system that is unfettered by government interference is the most efficient way to allocate resources. The federal government is not smart enough to effectively formulate a one-size-fits-all solution to an agricultural market with multiple commodities.

As time has gone on and agricultural methods have shifted away from labor in favor of machines, the federal pricing formula has…remained the same. More than half a century after original passage, the same funding formula remains in effect as a permanent law. The federal law has made less and less sense over time. Of course Congress’s response to an out-of-date law wasn’t to repeal it, it was to pass temporary waivers and exclusions to the permanent law.

An adequate analogy is to think of a nasty house with a nasty plumbing problem that backs up sewage into the house. If Congress owned this house, instead of fixing the plumbing, it would spray air freshener whenever the air became too foul to breathe, and pretend like this was a permanent solution.

Recently, Republicans had the opportunity to repeal the bad law when they held both houses of Congress in the mid 2000s. They failed and kicked the can down the road. Democrats had a similar opportunity in 2009 when they held both houses of Congress (as well as the White House), but again failed to act.

It seems to us that rather than fixing problems, Congress is happy to be a malpracticing contractor who creates more problems than it fixes–but continues to charge for its shoddy services in terms of taking more taxes and more freedoms from the people they are supposed to be serving. The government solving rather than creating a problem? That will probably happen when cows learn to fly.

Photo Credit: Sin Amigos at www.flickr.com

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President Sees Perk in Having “Men With Guns” Protect His Daughters

In a TV interview with Barbara Walters, President Obama joked that one of the incentives for running for president again was that there would be men with guns around his daughters at all times.

Now we will note that apparently the interview was taped on December 14–prior to the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. However, we find it unacceptable that Obama believes it is ok for his daughters to be protected by men with guns…but not anyone else’s.

Guns are a tool. And it is every law abiding American’s right to own one in order to protect themselves if they want to. This is a classic definition of a right. Nobody is required to own a gun. Nobody is required to provide a gun to anyone else. But it is the government’s duty, it is Obama’s duty, to defend an individual’s freedom to own a weapon, not destroy it.

In the United States all citizens have equal rights and are entitled to equal protection under the country’s laws. Not equal outcomes, not equal incomes, not equal consumption levels. If guns are acceptable to protect the president and his daughters, then they’re also acceptable for individual citizens to own and use to protect themselves.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays From Your Friends At Freedom Forge Press!!!

Time to Repeal the Law of Gravity!

What’s Brewin’ Congress?

The lovely Keurig coffee machine (a Keurig B70 Platinum Brewing System to be precise!) to the left could be yours for a mere $174.98 on Amazon.com.

That means the debt racked up by the US government could have purchased TWO of these for every man, woman, and child in the world, along with a gigantic starter kit of 3,800 K-cups.

All we have to ask is: “What’s brewin’, Congress?” We all have to balance our family budgets. Why haven’t you passed a single budget in 4 years?

Menacing Trash Can Savagely Attacks Woman!

It was a cool December evening when Patrick Moran, son of Congressman Jim Moran, was out with his girlfriend enjoying the District of Columbia nightlife.  (This is the same Patrick Moran who was fired from his father’s campaign staff after being caught on tape dispensing advice on how to forge documents in order to commit voter fraud.)  Not long after midnight, Patrick’s girlfriend was savagely attacked by one of the District’s local trash cans. The attack, witnessed by DC police, left Moran’s girlfriend with a fractured skull and a broken nose.

This is the account it seems the Congressman’s press secretary, Anne Hughes, would have you believe. The Washington City Paper reports that Moran’s girlfriend stated one the heels on her shoes broke, causing her to fall into the trash can and cause her injuries. Hughes sent an email statement to the Washington City Paper stating, “The situation was an accident” and that “Patrick didn’t hit or shove her.”

But the best statement had to be when Hughes went on to say “They were the only two people who witnessed the scene…in that sense, their statements are the only ones that matter.”  Now that is an interesting statement. Especially given the report filed by police, which states a DC Police Sergeant and a District Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration Investigator “observed a white male, later found to be known as…Moran, grab a white female by the back of her head with his hand and slam her head into the metal trash can cage in front of [a] nightclub.”

We’re astounded at the efficiency of the DC justice system in this case. A mere 12 days after his arrest, Moran was given his day in court.  Even with his girlfriend releasing a statement blaming the entire affair on a faulty shoe, Moran decided to a plea bargain to avoid prosecution for felony assault to plead guilty to simple assault with a penalty of probation. If only such a fast track were available to all persons awaiting trial and justice in the DC courts system! We’re naturally skeptical that having a Congressman for a daddy wasn’t a motivating factor in achieving such a swift resolution.

We’re even more skeptical of the “shoe excuse” parroted by the Congressman’s press secretary. It seems too conveniently similar to other nonsense excuses offered by abusers to cover up domestic violence such as “falling down the stairs,” “hit by a screen door,” and “falling in the shower.”

But if Moran wasn’t the cause of his girlfriend’s injuries, maybe the DC police need to ask some pointed questions of the trash can. We looked into this particular trash can’s past and found a history of shady dealings and run-ins with the law, ranging from assault, larceny, and even voter fraud. These facts cannot be ignored and require prompt action to remove this menace from the streets of the District.

DC Menace Pictured with Adoring Fan

 

With stolen property

 

After arrest, with hand ties

Caught Engaging in Voter Fraud

In seriousness, domestic violence and domestic abuse aren’t funny. We use the hyperbole above to illustrate how unacceptable it is for a US Congressman to use (or allow) his influence to engage in a miscarriage of justice. We also find it to be a curious lack of consistency for women’s rights groups to choose to remain silent on this issue.

Freedom in a free society requires that our representatives be stewards of a public trust. They and their families are not above the laws that they pass down to “the small folk,” and while they are only human and not infallible, they ought to be subject to the same penalties for engaging in bad behavior as everybody else in the Republic.

Photo Credits: Daquella manera

Freedom Is A Right to Work

Michigan’s lawmakers and governor made Michigan the 24th State in the Union to become a “right-to-work” state. Workers will have the freedom to decide if they want to be a dues paying member of a union. This means a worker does not have to be a member of a union as a condition of employment if the workforce at a particular job site is represented by a union.

To us this is a step toward freedom. Not all workers want to be union members and see their annual dues be funneled into political campaigns. Some union workers feel that upper echelons of union leadership don’t represent their values and interests. These workers can no longer be forced to remain as members and pay union dues.

This is an appropriate check and balance on union power by subjecting unions to a little market discipline. If a union represents its workers well and deserves to collect annual dues, nothing in the law says they can’t continue to do so. If a union is deaf to member demands and ineffective at representing members, they’ll lose membership. 

The most frequent argument against right to work laws that we’ve heard thus far is the “free rider” problem. The union negotiates compensation and benefit packages for workers. If people aren’t made to pay dues, they essentially get the benefit of the union’s efforts without having to pay for it.

We find fault with this argument on three counts:

1) Unions may, but are not required to, represent all workers in a business that has a unionized workforce. Nothing precludes a union from negotiating contracts for union members only. Union-negotiated contracts do not have to cover non-union members. So much for the free rider argument…

2) The union incorrectly assumes that its actions are the only ones that would have resulted in higher wages for employees. In a right to work arrangement, nothing prevents a high-performing individual from approaching the boss with a well thought-out case for a raise. Without a union card.

3) With union funds finding their way into political campaign funds, we find it unacceptable to tell an employee that he/she must join a union and pay dues that will be donated to political operations that a worker might find unacceptable.

If the unions provide a benefit that justifies their membership dues, they will prosper. If they don’t, then they wont. We think “right to work” represents a step in the right direction toward freedom for all workers.

An Unexpected Debt Burden

NATO reported in August that the cost of an average US movie ticket topped $8.12, setting a record high since statistics have been kept since 1948. That’s the other NATO, the National Association of Theater Owners.

At $8.12, the US national debt could have purchased nearly 2 trillion movie tickets to see The Hobbit this weekend. That’s enough tickets for every man, woman, and child in the US to see the movie (or your favorite) 6,315 times.

Clocking in at 169 minutes, it would take Americans a full 2 years of working together for nonstop movie watching to use up those tickets.

 

One Hundred Years of Government Mismanged Money

After a century of loose money policies, it’s clear the government needs to do a better job of managing the nation’s financial affairs and its currency. Of course asking Congress to exercise restraint when it comes to exercising its power of the purse is a bit like asking an alcoholic to just have one drink for a night cap.

In 1913, the same year as our coin below, Congress and President Woodrow Wilson created the Federal Reserve System, which today is still in place with the two pronged (and often contradictory) goal of low inflation and low unemployment.

The picture illustrates how well they’ve done.  In 1913, the US had a silver coin known as “the Barber Half Dollar.” It had 0.3617 ounces of silver and a face value of 50 cents. Today the relative buying power of the Barber Half Dollar is 2 cents, having lost nearly 96 percent of its value.

If you still held a Barber Half Dollar, and didn’t want to try to sell your coin to any collectors, the approximate 1/3 ounce of silver would be worth a little over $12.00 as of the date of this article.

But the face value would still be 50 cents, and that 50 cents will get your far less today than it did in 1913.

This is one of the reasons inflation is known as a silent and hidden tax. Politicians may not enact it directly by hiking tax rates, but the lost value to dollars held by citizens is real no matter what political party they are in and no matter what income bracket they are in.

It’s one of the reasons that arbitrarily setting a “minimum” or “living” wage will do little to help the people the government pretends to help with such measures. If all of a sudden convenience store clerks, fast food workers, and dishwashers earned $15.00 per hour, the price of candy bars, cheeseburgers, and a plate of your favorite restaurant dish will go up in price too–eroding not only your purchasing power, but the minimum wage employee as well.

A similar thing happens when government routinely spends beyond its means. More and more dollars are created and released into the economy, either with people buying government-issued bonds, foreign currency exchange rates, or the government simply printing up more greenbacks–something this administration and Federal Reserve have embraced as a national strategy via the various rounds of “quantitative easing” programs overseen by the Federal Reserve and US Treasury. The government is quantitatively “easing” the value right out of the dollar bills, bank accounts, and dollar-valued investments that you own.

The sad fact of pursuing such misguided policies is the loss of economic freedom, which tends to impact those least able to protect themselves from it. This is the price citizens pay when their government engages in reckless spending habits as the US government has done over the past 12 years.  I continually hear complaints that capitalism doesn’t work because the poor haven’t seen their wages increase in the past decade and that means the rich “got richer” and are hoarding all their money.

But the truth is that government, through a combination of overregulation, overtaxation, and overspending has created an environment and culture that is hostile to business success. In so doing, overspending without maintaining economic growth continues to devalue the US dollar, driving up prices on everything the US imports. This has a devastating consequence for anyone in the business of trying to save for the long term, but especially lower-income families as they must pay more for the same goods and services over time while seeing the value of their earnings decline over time.