The Libertarian Standard » Business http://libertarianstandard.com Property - Prosperity - Peace Thu, 16 Oct 2014 23:30:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 A new website and group blog of radical Austro-libertarians, shining the light of reason on truth and justice. The Libertarian Standard clean The Libertarian Standard thelibertarianstandard@gmail.com thelibertarianstandard@gmail.com (The Libertarian Standard) CC-BY Property - Prosperity - Peace libertarianism, anarchism, capitalism, free markets, liberty, private property, rights, Mises, Rothbard, Rand, antiwar, freedom The Libertarian Standard » Business http://libertarianstandard.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://libertarianstandard.com/category/business/ TV-G Of Morality and Failed Business Strategies… http://libertarianstandard.com/2014/08/15/of-morality-and-failed-business-strategies/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2014/08/15/of-morality-and-failed-business-strategies/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 21:13:35 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=13528 Some time ago, back in 2013 in fact, Richard Branson published a piece on LinkedIn, under the heading of “Big Idea 2013: This Year the Drug War Ends” wherein he positied, among other things, that if the War on (Some) Drugs was a business strategy, it would long ago have been scrapped.  He’s absolutely correct. And he’s also absolutely incorrect.

The War on (Some) Drugs is not a failed business strategy, and it is dangerous to even suggest that it is. Instead, it is a failed moral strategy. If it seems counter-intuitive to you that the government should be in the business of applying moral strategies, you win a prize. The control of what enters one’s body is, at root, the very basis of self-ownership. (Admittedly, the phrase “self-ownership” is not quite the correct nuance. I don’t “own” me, I “am” me, but anyway…)

The apparent failure of the War on (Some) Drugs speaks just as much to its actual goals as to its legitimate chances for success. In other words, if the goal was to criminalize large portions of an entire generation, then it has been a raging success. However, if the goal was to prevent people from freely consuming that which they know is their right anyway, it had no hope of success in the first place, and that lesson was obvious from alcohol prohibition.

On the more general issue of business strategies, why is it is dangerous to draw such a parallel to the War on (Some) Drugs? Such a suggestion–that just because the War on (Some) Drugs is failing that we should stop it–is a trap. It is a great example of the argument from effect, a veritable fat, shiny, Red Herring waiting for the obvious, “well, people still murder each other…” retort. Let us be clear, murdering someone is an attack on them, which is morally prohibited, dare I say malum in se anyway. Me putting a substance that you don’t like into my body has nothing to do with you.

Drug prohibition is unarguably malum prohibitum and therefore simply the attempt–misguided and puritanical–to impose the choices of some on the behavior of all. Ergo, it was destined for failure. By the way, this in no way suggests that drugs are good, but then again, neither are Twinkies. Now, if one wants to argue about the possible negative results of drug usage–crime, sickness, whatever–those ostensibly resultant actions, at least those that actually infringe on others, are ALREADY against the law. They are, in fact, malum in se regardless.

If you’re in your own home getting baked or shooting up, and don’t bother anyone else, it should be no one else’s business. I might also argue that most, if not all, of the crime supposedly endemic to illegal drugs occurs commensurate with the distribution of said substances despite their illegality. Make it legal on one day and that crime stops the next day. And, if the lessons of places like Portugal are any indication, with very little, if any, increase in widespread drug usage.
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Libertarian Fiction Authors Association and Short Story Contest http://libertarianstandard.com/2014/02/07/libertarian-fiction-authors-association-and-short-story-contest/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2014/02/07/libertarian-fiction-authors-association-and-short-story-contest/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2014 17:55:11 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12879 Libertarian Fiction Authors Association

It’s been a long time since I blogged on The Libertarian Standard. I’ve been busy with other projects, one of which is the subject of this post. I recently launched, in November 2013, the Libertarian Fiction Authors Association.

If you’re like me, you enjoy reading fiction but have a difficult time finding stories that truly reflect your values and interests. This discovery problem affects everyone, but is particularly acute for niche markets like ours. There are individuals and organizations (including Amazon) attempting to solve the problem for authors and readers in general, but no one was really catering to libertarians specifically.

How many libertarians out there have published fiction? How many more are aspiring authors, who are either writing their first novel or are thinking about it but need some encouragement and guidance? I had no idea, but I was sure there were far more than I knew about personally.

As an activist, I also think that dramatizing our values through fiction is an important way to spread the message of liberty.

As an aspiring fiction author myself, I wanted to form a group made up of fellow libertarian writers who could learn from, encourage, and push each other to accomplish their goals and continually reach for new heights — and, eventually, to get my stories into the hands of new readers.

So I started first an email list, then a full-blown association complete with a professional website, in order to provide

  1. a writing group and mastermind that will both nurture new talent and hone the skills of more seasoned pros,
  2. a platform for libertarian fiction authors to promote their work, and
  3. a central location for readers to find fiction written by libertarian authors.

And already, thanks to the association, in a mere few months, I have discovered many more libertarian authors than I had heard of before.

Basic membership in the association is and always will be free. At a minimum, members get a public member directory listing; their books listed and displayed on the site; a link and image-rich profile page; free promotion; and access to a private email list and social network groups.

As our first major promotional endeavor, the association has teamed up with Students for Liberty to hold a libertarian short story contest. The contest is open to everyone, except the judges and SFL staff, and the deadline to submit a story is March 4, 2014. Entrants stand to win up to $300, supporting membership in the association free for a year, and publication. Check out our announcement and the official contest page for more information.

If you’re an avid reader, check out our work and follow us to be updated about new releases and special promotions. If you’re a writer too, join us and enter the short story contest.

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Uber’s “surge pricing” again angers people who don’t understand economics http://libertarianstandard.com/2014/01/02/ubers-surge-pricing-again-angers-people-who-dont-understand-economics/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2014/01/02/ubers-surge-pricing-again-angers-people-who-dont-understand-economics/#comments Fri, 03 Jan 2014 04:34:32 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12777 Uber, the car-service startup striking fear into city bureaucrats and taxi cartels everywhere, is catching flack from some New Year’s Eve revelers who discovered they were charged hundreds of dollars for a ride home:

…there were a ton of complaints on New Year’s Eve from customers caught by surprise by some hefty fares. In fact, if you look at Uber’s Twitter feed right now, it’s dominated by a series of apologies for the “sticker shock” it caused last night.

Meanwhile, several angry customers have been tweeting screenshots of their sky-high Uber fares. Some are as much as $350 for just a few miles, which was almost enough to get you a booze-filled evening at the Applebee’s in Times Square.

Uber surge pricing notice“Caught by surprise” is rather subjective, as Uber took great pains to warn users that surge pricing, its policy of multiplying fares during periods of high demand, would be in effect on New Year’s Eve. Furthermore, the Uber app requires users to acknowledge when surge pricing is in effect, even going so far as requiring manual input of the fare multiplier before hailing a car.

So whose fault is it that users were rung up for $350 car rides? Nobody’s, of course. Uber’s surge pricing policy is not only legal, but entirely fair and rational. Rapidly adjusting pricing to meet short periods of high demand helped ensure that cars were available to people who really wanted them. Anybody wishing to avoid high fares could find an all-night diner or someplace safe to relax until demand dropped and surge pricing was no longer in effect.

There’s another name for this practice, used by people who don’t like free markets: “price gouging”. Most commonly, this pejorative refers to rapidly increasing prices of essential supplies in the aftermath of a natural disaster. This is illegal in many states, and it’s easy for the media to demonize “gouging” when people have lost their homes and are looking for food, water, fuel, and shelter. Yet the principles which make it okay for Uber to raise fares so drunks can get home should apply to states of emergency as well. Price gouging, or surge pricing, helps ensure that resources are allocated as efficiently as possible. Preventing businesses from setting their own prices via threat of prosecution invariably leads to the kind of shortages that hamper relief efforts.

This also helps explain why taxicabs are virtually impossible to find on any big party night: their fares are regulated, set by the local taxi or public utilities commission, and neither companies nor drivers are free to raise prices when there’s high demand. Private car services like Uber, meanwhile, are unregulated, which is why you can always find someone to drive you home after the ball has dropped and the last bottle of champagne is drunk — if you’re willing to pay for it.

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The Unintended – But Expected – Consequences of Obamacare http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/09/27/the-unintended-but-expected-consequences-of-obamacare/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/09/27/the-unintended-but-expected-consequences-of-obamacare/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2013 09:54:50 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12685 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare – was expected by economists to cause economic changes.  (Here is the act in a handy 906-page .pdf file.)  Some predicted lower employment, either from employers’ reducing employees’ hours to keep them from being deemed full-time, or simply by firing employees whose marginal productivity isn’t more than the $300+ additional cost, per month, of complying with some of the employer mandates.

Put simply, mandating increased per-employee costs will cause employers to react, and the employees most at risk of losing hours or jobs will be the ones with the lowest productivity:  the minimum-wagers the government says it’s trying to protect.  Any time the government takes control of (more of) an industry, the result inevitably will be unintended consequences. People seek to do what produces the best outcomes for themselves; we are not the static, obedient walking statistics government pretends we are.  We actively seek ways to avoid burdens, because we need to feed our families.

Obamacare provides that employers cannot reduce employee wages to avoid the additional costs imposed on the employers, and every employer with 50 or more employees must participate in providing health care or face punitive fines. Individuals who are not covered by a welfare program (Medicare, Medicaid) or by their employer must purchase their own insurance on the new “health care exchanges” to be set up by the states, or pay a fine along with their income taxes every April 15.  Who are the people who don’t want medical insurance?  Healthy young males, who are expected to pay as much as $5,800 per year, essentially to subsidize health care for the poor and sick.  Their penalties will be far lower than that, at least at first, that we know of.  What do you think they will choose?

Enough about the act.  You can read about it from the links above.  Here are the consequences:

Those of you who told Trader Joe’s you won’t shop there any longer because they’re not covering health care for their part-timers should first read Trader Joe’s explanation (Trader Joe’s will give the employees cash and let them shop for themselves; that way, the employees get a tax break, and at any rate Trader Joe’s can’t offer the giveaway deal the government is forcing on everyone); and second, should be prepared not to shop in very many places any more:  Forbes writes of Walgreen and 17 other large retailers doing the same thing. Worse, 301 employers (that we know of so far) are cutting employee hours and firing people.  The most perverse part of that:  62 of the employers are private-sector, and 239 are government employers, including school districts.  In one survey of small businesses, 41% have delayed hiring, 20% have reduced hours, and 20% have reduced payroll, all because Obamacare would be too burdensome otherwise.

Another unintended consequence of creating government tax-and-spend “giveaways” that (as we saw above) threaten to harm the poor more than the rich:  Fraud.  Obamacare-related scams were and are being predicted—by federal officials, no less.  Thieves are expected to prey on the poor, the old, and the ignorant.  The fear is strong enough that the White House and the Justice Department have felt the need to reassure the public, with DOJ having to build a special initiative around the issue.  Here’s a list of the scams that have already been reported to law enforcement.

Some unintended consequences were not predicted by many, if at all.  Labor unions, the darling of the political left, are stung because they somehow could not foresee that employers would cut hours; and the Obama administration remarkably has refused to add special subsidies for them.

A headline from the notoriously left-leaning Pew research center:  Most uninsured Americans live in states that refuse to offer their own health insurance exchanges.  The people the government claimed it most wanted to help are going to have to use the federal exchanges.  (The real problem here, if you consider it a problem, is those people are the ones least likely to know they can use the federal system.)

Here’s a wild one:  Since Obamacare was enacted in 2010, 21 states have enacted new laws—and the federal government is powerless to stop this—banning private-insurance coverage of abortions.  THAT was certainly unexpected.

Obamacare subsidizes the health care of people who stay below certain income maxima.  The obvious and foreseeable unintended consequence of that, of course, is that some people at the margins will face incentives to earn less.  A dollar of additional income, for some, will mean losing a $5,000 subsidy.  It would be foolish for anyone facing that choice to work an additional hour and lose almost $5,000.

Finally (for now), employers who have just over 50 employees will fire workers to stay below that magic number and avoid the extra burdens, as several of the links above demonstrate.  If a CEO and board of directors will sell their bank, aggressively take the risk of buying other banks, or sell assets to avoid certain burdens that come with size under the Dodd Frank Act, a small business owner whose business feeds his family will certainly fire workers to avoid Obamacare.

There will be more unintended consequences, both expected and unexpected. I’ll stop here.  (Just one more:  To be able to continue to make a profit—i.e., stay in business—insurers are going to limit the insureds’ choices of service providers.)  I’m not even the first person to write about this; many of the links above are to articles with “Obamacare” and “unintended consequences” in their titles.  I’m just the most recent to write about it, so I have the newest data.  Google “unintended consequences of Obamacare” regularly for updates.  The insurance exchanges open October 1, so the coming months will be a busy time for discovering new problems with government medicine (or rediscovering known ones).  We appear doomed to repeat the inescapable history of government intervention proved sour, so we might as well be informed about it.

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Hedy Lamarr Bet on the Wrong Horse http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/08/01/hedy-lamarr-bet-on-the-wrong-horse/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/08/01/hedy-lamarr-bet-on-the-wrong-horse/#comments Thu, 01 Aug 2013 13:06:13 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12603 NakedHedwig

“Hedy stands naked in a field. She looks off-camera in dismay as her horse gallops away with the clothes she had draped over its back to take a dip in a woodland pond.”


That’s the opening line of my article “Putting Hedy Lamarr on Hold,” featured today in the Freeman.

I shared a draft with a writer friend of mine over the weekend. She is far more educated and literary than I am. She saw a parallel between the opening scene and the larger story that I confess I was not conscious of. I thought I’d just been going for sex appeal.

Here’s more of the opening:

She is not called Lamarr yet. That name will come later, in Hollywood. For now she is still Hedwig Kiesler, a Viennese teenager in Prague, playing her first starring role in a feature film, Ekstase (“Ecstasy,” 1933). The controversial Czechoslovakian film will become famous for Hedy’s nude scenes (which are not sexual) and its sex scenes (which show only her face, in close-up, in the throes of passion).

The film will give Hedy her first taste of fame. She will be known as the Ecstasy girl. An Austrian director will tell the press, “Hedy Kiesler is the most beautiful girl in the world.” Later, MGM movie mogul Louis B. Mayer will repeat the claim, using the name he insisted she change to: Hedy Lamarr.

But while the world of her time will remember her for her photogenic beauty, history will remember her as the inventor of frequency hopping, the foundational technology of today’s mobile phones and wireless Internet. [FULL ARTICLE]

FreemanHedyThe piece goes on to explain how Hedy invented frequency-hopping spread spectrum during World War II and why it took so long for that invention to usher in the wireless Internet age. Short answer: the government kept the technology secret for decades. Not only did Hedy Lamarr not see a cent from her invention; she didn’t even get credit for it until the end of the century.

So here’s what my writer friend said:

The more I think about it, the movie image you start with — Hedy looking at her runaway horse and thinking, ok now what? is exactly what you describe in your title: Hedy Lamarr on hold. She’s on hold in the movie (for a moment, I guess — given the movie title, I imagine that she’s not alone for long) and then her invention is on hold for a much longer time. … A Hollywood starlet and inventive genius who made millions in the market surrendered her most innovative idea to Leviathan, who stifled it. And she did so, ironically, because of a lack of imagination on her part — a naive faith that the state would protect and serve its citizens.

(By the way, I’m especially pleased that FEE decided not only to feature my article but also to use the image I put together for it!)

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Finding affordable dentist like pulling teeth? http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/02/01/finding-affordable-dentist-like-pulling-teeth/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/02/01/finding-affordable-dentist-like-pulling-teeth/#comments Fri, 01 Feb 2013 15:27:18 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12328 It must be for some. And one man, 63-year-old Jose Santiago Delao of Texas, was willing to provide dental services on the cheap, despite not having a license. Eventually he landed on the authorities’ radar and was arrested following a complaint from a woman about a botched molar repair:

Delao admits he skirted the law, but isn’t remorseful.

“Jesus Christ didn’t need or didn’t have a license,” Jose Delao told Yahoo News during a jailhouse interview. “People hurt and they needed it. People didn’t have enough money to visit the regular dentist.”

Delao, a former dental lab technician, claims he couldn’t turn his back.

“It broke my heart,” he said, tapping his chest, “because I have the experience.”

But authorities say Delao, a native of Costa Rica, has never been a licensed dentist in Texas. If convicted, he could get two to 10 years in prison….

A survey of published news reports shows that as many as eight such underground dental clinics have been shutdown in the U.S. since last summer.

“I would clearly classify it as a problem,” said Dr. Frank Catalanotto, chair of the Department of Community Dentistry at the University of Florida. “It is potentially a big problem.”

I disagree that the problem is unlicensed dentistry. The problem is that there is obviously a market demand for low-cost dentistry that isn’t being met, probably because the barrier to entry in the field as a state-licensed dentist is so high, a barrier which licensed dentists have a vested interest in maintaining, as it protects their market share from would-be competitors like Delao. But people are far more likely to be uninsured for dental care than for medical care, or simply can’t afford to pay the high prices of mainstream dental work. Delao understood this and tried to meet the need, to his credit. He may have committed some crime (if, as the story reports, he did not let a patient leave when she wanted to), but trying to help people isn’t one of them.

(Cross-posted from A Thousand Cuts.)

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Electric vehicle sales keep shorting out http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/28/electric-vehicle-sales-keep-shorting-out/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/28/electric-vehicle-sales-keep-shorting-out/#comments Mon, 28 Jan 2013 05:28:56 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12308 Even with substantial help from the government in the form of $7,500 buyer’s tax credits, automakers are having trouble moving their electric vehicles:

Ford Motor Co. is offering hefty discounts of more than $10,000 for leases on its slow-selling Focus electric vehicle.

Ford is offering customers up to $10,750 off for three-year leases, according to the Dearborn automaker’s website. It also has dropped the base price of the Focus EV by $2,000 for cash sales.

In addition, Ford is offering a $2,000 cash discount on the Focus EV and 1.9 percent financing if the electric vehicle is purchased through Ford Motor Credit.

The automaker sold just 685 Focus EVs in 2012, but built 1,627 — making it one of the poorest performers among electric vehicles on the market.

chevy voltThis follows reports that Nissan has dropped the base price of its Leaf EV by 18 percent, following sluggish sales in 2012 that didn’t come close to meeting projections. And the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt continues to struggle, although it saw an uptick in sales late last year. But Government Motors still loses thousands of dollars on every Volt it sells.

Despite these grim numbers, some forecasters predict robust sales for EVs in 2013. But President Obama’s promise to have one million electric cars on the road by 2015 still seems to be a long shot. The choices made by consumers are speaking much louder than Obama’s words ever could.

(Cross-posted from A Thousand Cuts.)

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When Will the Voters Learn? http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/10/19/when-will-the-voters-learn/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/10/19/when-will-the-voters-learn/#comments Fri, 19 Oct 2012 22:05:07 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=11826 Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” ~ Clay Shirky

You know the slavery Kool-Aid is working well when those who are oppressed petition their oppressors for more of that which helps keep them oppressed.

For instance, public education is a tool that was designed–specifically and directly–as a means of controlling the hoi polloi.  The educational system of compulsory public education championed by Horace Mann, chock-full of multiple-choice testing perfected by Frederick J. Kelly, feeding into statistical models based upon the work of (eugenicist) Sir Francis Galton, was (and is) designed to fulfill the need for employees who are primed and ready to inhabit factories where efficiency can be measured in ways developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor. (The fact that so few of such factories currently exist in America should also be telling, but that’s a different discussion.) Mann believed “universal public education was the best way to turn the nation’s unruly children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens.” The whole thing was designed to produce a seething throng of people ready to take orders, stand in line, ask few questions, and install bumpers all day–accepting the interminable boredom of such a life–while their over-lords made a ton of money.  Free and compulsory public education was never intended to create inquisitive, risk-taking, leaders. Or entrepreneurs and/or business owners.  Or frankly, owners of anything! Yet, people clamor that “education is a right” and “we need more funding for our schools” despite the inescapable fact that these same crap holes are doing their best at producing children incapable of independent thought and unable to read a book (or a blueprint), solve a simple mathematics problem, or devise a new strategy.  It’s damned sad, really.

A similar conclusion can be drawn regarding government job creation. Throughout the current election season, you’ll hear people clamoring that Obama will do all he can to create jobs while Romney won’t, or some such simplistic foolishness. Any president who claims to create jobs, uses tax dollars and government debt to pay people wages that are too high, for work that otherwise likely would not be done. In other words, the money is wasted on boondoggles. This action has at least two negative side-effects.  One, it takes money from those who produce it and gives it to someone else. (That’s the taxation piece.) That might sound good to the recipient unless he realizes that he is only getting the proverbial fish that feeds him for a day, if that long. Secondly, this stolen–they call it stimulus nowadays–money results in those at the top having more real income than the supposed beneficiaries of those government-created jobs. (That’s the inflation piece.) The people who think they benefit from the government-created-jobs are worse off in the long term, despite all appearances to the contrary in the short term. Ludwig von Mises spoke of this phenomenon in, “On Current Monetary Problems” with:

The advocates of annual increases in the quantity of money never mention the fact that for all those who do not get a share of the newly created additional quantity of money, the government’s action means a drop in their purchasing power which forces them to restrict their consumption. It is ignorance of this fundamental fact that induces various authors of economic books and articles to suggest a yearly increase of money without realizing that such a measure necessarily brings about an undesirable impoverishment of a great part, even the majority, of the population.

An injection of money into the economy by the government generally results in a transfer of wealth towards the top—real income transferred from those who can least afford it to those who already have plenty. (I already noted some time ago that this phenomenon seemed to get rolling in 1980.  The chart below is instructive.) One might even suppose this state-facilitated income transfer is the reason why statists in power so strongly support government control of the money supply, but that’s another discussion. Bottom Line:  Those who clamor for a president who cares about them get the same treatment and results as they would from some random bastard who openly scorned them. (No offense to the random bastard you support!)

And yet, here we are at election time, and the clarion calls continue to go up, from both sides of the ostensible aisle.

Cross-Posted at LRCBlog.

Five-Year Average Increase in Real Wages

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The Indignity of Airport Security: Will It Ever End? http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/08/31/the-indignity-of-airport-security-will-it-ever-end/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/08/31/the-indignity-of-airport-security-will-it-ever-end/#comments Sat, 01 Sep 2012 01:12:01 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=11651 As I sat on one of those metal benches, retying my shoes after enduring yet another near-cavity search courtesy the TSA, something both rather obvious and rather sad dawned on me. It is, in fact, the answer to the question that heads this post, and that answer, by the way, is “No.” As a matter of fact, “Hell no.” As I sat there, I contemplated how much more intrusive the searches could get before the public rose up and said, “Enough!” Simultaneously, a conversation I had enjoyed with a fellow traveler as we stood in a very long line at the Monroe County (Rochester) International Airport rolled around in my head.

She had quipped, as we inched closer to our turn in the scanner, “I’m just glad that we haven’t had a bra bomber yet.” We laughed, but it was more out of pain than humor. She and I both knew that we were experiencing a real-life reenactment of the Stanford Prison Experiment, and that things would get worse–likely a lot worse–before they got better. (And that’s making the very large assumption, an assumption I might characterize as a pipe dream, that things will ever get better.)

As an aside, and just to provide some context for my conclusion, I recall talking to an executive from ExxonMobil 10 to 15 years ago. It was at that time when gas prices had just begun to creep up to levels that before then had seemed unthinkable. As I recall, the highest they had been was nearing $1.50/gallon, although that figure is just a guess. As I whined about the prices and how people would cope, he calmly asked me: “Wilt, do you think prices are at the highest level they could reach while people still buy lots of gas?” I thought about it a minute and had to conclude he was correct. Gas could (and probably would) far exceed that price level without any real reaction from the public, except whining as they drove their SUVs 35 miles to work alone. The same logic is true of the practices at Airport Security Theatre.

At what point do you think people would refuse to endure more? I submit that TSA could install curtains, with TSA-employed nurse practitioners and physician assistants performing very thorough “security checks” and all we’d have is longer lines. Shucks, people might begin to use the occasion for informal check-ups! I can hear the conversations now. “Bill, how are those hemorrhoids?” “Feels good Stan, and we’ll see what the nurse says at Airport Security next week. I’m flying on business.”

Coincidentally to all this thinking, I was in the midst of reading R. Dwayne Betts’ “A Question of Freedom.” It is a prison memoir of a young man sentenced to 10 years, spending much of it in maximum security prisons–and in “the hole” much of that time–for car jacking someone as a teenager. While Betts’ story is fascinating for a number of reasons, what struck me most viscerally was this statement he makes in a chapter entitled, “Prison 101…” Says Betts, “Prison life is a series of small indignities that you’re made to adapt to.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Cross-Posted at LRCBlog.

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Moving license no longer needed in Missouri http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/07/13/moving-license-no-longer-needed-in-missouri/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/07/13/moving-license-no-longer-needed-in-missouri/#comments Sat, 14 Jul 2012 03:04:45 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=11388 Any blow struck for economic liberty is worth celebrating, even if the person wielding the hammer is not, shall we say, a fan of Rothbardian libertarianism.  But there is encouraging news from Tim Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation, which pressured the Missouri legislature to repeal its licensing laws regarding moving companies:

Under the old law, a person applying for permission to operate a moving company was required to submit to a licensing scheme under which existing moving companies were given the privilege of basically vetoing the application. We challenged that law on behalf of St. Louis entrepreneur Michael Munie, and argued the case in federal district court in April. But in the meantime, state lawmakers passed legislation repealing the law, and this afternoon, Governor Nixon signed that bill, thus opening the road for economic opportunity in the Show Me State.

Baby steps, to be sure — Missouri and most other states have licensing laws for dozens of occupations, some imposing absurd educational requirements (in Texas, for example, “shampoo specialists” at hair salons must have 150 hours of training before they can even test for their license) and exorbitant costs for both training and the licensing process itself.  None of these laws actually do anything to ensure quality service for consumers; they exist solely to protect incumbents from competition.  These laws can’t disappear quickly enough, and kudos to the PLF and other organizations, such as the Institute for Justice, for continuing to challenge them.

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