The Libertarian Standard » Victimless Crimes Property - Prosperity - Peace Tue, 10 Nov 2015 07:28:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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 (The Libertarian Standard) CC-BY Property - Prosperity - Peace The Libertarian Standard » Victimless Crimes TV-G Bureaucracy Kills: Catholic Shelter Housing ‘Too Many’ Homeless People Fri, 21 Dec 2012 14:19:28 +0000 HOMELESS-WINTER-2There is libertarianism — with its debatable scope and definitions and borders — and then there is parody libertarianism, that is, the one where every business person is dubbed heroic, no matter how cronyistic they may be, and of course, where the Little Guy is squashed daily beneath the mighty, faceless feet of Making Money because no one cares; and so Government is Necessary.

Apropos of that inaccurate impression, those on the moderate left — the guiltiest when it comes to repeating it as gospel —  should consider the following story.

The Mayor’s office of Green Bay, Wisconsin recently sent Catholic homeless shelter St. John the Evangelist a letter that says by allowing “too many people to stay at its overnight shelter” St. John is violating the terms of their building permit (they debate this).

The reason for the shelter’s sudden upswing in homeless people might just be that it’s December and December is cold. In fact, the shelter is only open in cold weather and is intended to be an emergency location for people who don’t have anywhere else to go. Nevertheless, as reported in this local Fox affiliate, the charity’s building is permitted to house 64 people, and 64 people it shall house and no more.

Last week, the city sent St. John’s officials a letter saying they had five days to comply with its conditional use permit capacity of 64 overnight residents. According to the city, the shelter has been over its capacity every night in December, reaching as high as 86 people one night last week.

“When we grant a conditional use permit to someone, we expect them to hold up their end of the deal and they clearly aren’t,” said Jim Schmitt, Green Bay’s mayor.

“As far as we’re concerned the operational plan allows us to go to 84,” said Reilly.

Green Bay’s assistant attorney says that doesn’t matter because the shelter’s operational plan isn’t the same as the 64 beds on its city permit.

“They cannot put an operating plan together that violates the CUP,” said Jim Mueller, an assistant city attorney for Green Bay.

“We need to take care of the people who are going to be coming to the shelter tomorrow night in the middle of the snowstorm,” said Reilly.

That could cost the shelter $681. The city plans to start issuing a fine of that amount each night the shelter goes over capacity.

Neither the news reports nor the actual letter from the mayor’s office detail any witnessed overcrowding or unsafe circumstances, only that the numbers are not matching up in the way that they must (and that some local residents have complained about “drinking and loitering”).

It is not an exaggeration to say that this shelter could be saving the lives of homeless people this winter and by extension  the mayor could be killing people by preventing them from being helped by a willing charity.

Furthermore, the idea that the mayor of the city can and should make sure these fines occur is based on three assumptions:

1) That the people who are at the shelter every day and can actually gauge how much space is available do not know as well as the mayor does, or as well as the previously written mandates says.

2) That even if the shelter is uncomfortable, even bordering on dangerously overcrowded, that the alternative of potentially freezing to death is better and that the homeless individuals cannot decide for themselves whether or not to stay at the voluntarily-offered shelter, and or whether they would prefer to brave a night in the cold.

And 3) Since the city council and the city planning commission could permit the shelter to house more people if they decide, they also have the legitimacy to decide such matters. Even though, according to the Fox story, they won’t meet until next year, thereby making the shelter choose now between losing money to fines or turning away people seeking shelter.

All of these assumptions are authoritarian,condescending, bureaucratic,  and downright dangerous. They have nothing to do with helping the poor and downtrodden. Perhaps the fourth, worst assumption of all is simply that “rules are rules” no matter anyone’s good intentions.

Quite simply, advocates for the state can have it both ways. Private charity can never feed all the hungry or mend the sick, they say, so we simply must have government. What’s that? You don’t have the proper papers for giving out that food? Sorry.

The New Deal arguably began the demise of mutual aid societies and other voluntary charities and social securities and the Great Society mostly finished the job. The current common attitude about charity  is beautifully summed up by the late, great Harry Browne who said, “Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, “See, if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk.”

And the Green Bay story is not unique. How about New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s restriction on food donations to the homeless (at government-run shelters) because calorie and salt counts could not be ascertained? How about the anarchist group Food, Not Bombs blocked from feeding the homeless in Orlando, with their members even jailed? How about Philadelphia’s ban on feeding the homeless in public? How about the loophole for the Green Bay Mayor’s legitimized pushiness, the very existence of zoning laws?

Hell, how about every time a small business owner, or a food truck driver, or a taxi driver cannot start a business due to the artificially high cost of entry into that market? What have we lost if those individuals become dependent on the state instead of becoming entrepreneurs?

In spite of all this, individuals do keep on, demonstrated beautifully by this quote from the Green Bay shelter’s deacon, Tim Reilly: “The obstacles [the mayor] may put in front of us are secondary to taking care of those who need shelter. This is what it means to be Christian.”

Still, even when wearing a minarchist or moderate hat, or even pro-government hat, these kinds of robotic restrictions on kindness are infuriating. Again, people who believe in a some kindly welfare state shouldn’t even support red tape like this; what they do instead is ignore it and excuse it and incidents like the above mentioned.  And by not even letting the private sector compete fairly with government, to see who might win, the latter aptly demonstrates that it’s not just a coercive institution, but a damned cheat as well.

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Why is it okay to pay an intern $0? or, liberal hypocrisy on the minimum wage Mon, 25 Jun 2012 13:09:33 +0000 A recent Slashdot post mentions some NYTimes-style whining about how employers like Apple are “exploiting” their employees by paying them low wages:

Apple Store Employees Soak Up the Atmosphere, But Not Much Cash
raque writes

“The NYTimes is reporting on just how badly Apple Retail employees are being paid. Apple is exploiting its fan base for cheap labor. This is one reason I don’t go to Apple Stores if I can avoid it. Stores like NY’s Tekserve offer a great shopping experience without so exploiting their workers.”

Would you rather start at an Apple store for $11.91 an hour (average starting base pay, according to the linked article) and an employee discount, or at Tiffany for $15.60?

The idea that it’s wrong to offer to pay someone a low wage is rampant. For a recent example, one sage argues, in a Techdirt comment thread, that “Competing by paying your workforce less is not competing, it is cheating.” Marxian “exploitation” ideas like this are at work behind the horrible minimum wage. As Henry Hazlitt explains in Economics in One Lesson (ch. 18), a minimum wage law simply causes unemployment—and it causes it primarily among those who have the lowest valued skills, namely the poor, minorities, handicapped people, and the young. It cuts out the lower rungs of the ladder that people could use to climb to higher levels. One benefit of a job at any price is the skills and learning experience—learning to engage with customers and co-workers, to show up on time, manners, dress code, and so on.

This is, in fact, one reason some people are willing to serve as “interns” for no pay: for the work experience, contacts, resume padding. And this an absurdity in the very idea of the minimum wage: it’s legal to offer to pay someone, say, $10 per hour for a certain job, or more, and it’s legal to offer to pay them $0 per hour (internship), but it’s illegal to offer them something in-between. This is just as absurd as the idea that it’s legal to give away sex but not to charge a monetary price for it (prostitution).

I thought about this when listening to a recent Slate Political Gabfest podcast, which is one of my favorites although the three hosts are liberals. In this episode, around 50:30, host David Plotz mentions that they are looking for a new intern—and that, while it is an “unpaid” position (6-10 hours per week), it leads to “great opportunities” for the interns, who use the experience to find a (real) job elsewhere. Exactly. Even working for nothing makes employment worthwhile for people starting out. It’s a stepping stone to other things. Of course, only middle class or richer kids can afford to work for nothing. Imagine if Slate were permitted to pay, say, $3 or $5 per hour to an intern—far below the curent federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour—more lower class or poorer kids could perhaps afford to take advantage of intern-type positions. But who cares about them, right? After all, they can always join the military, get on welfare, or sell drugs and then get a free jail cell with three hots and a cot.

As my friend and fellow TLS co-blogger Rob Wicks said to me:

Minimum wage can be a sort of welfare program for the middle class. For those at the upper end of the middle class, working for nothing but experience is a fine investment. But if you are doing it for money, it has to be enough to make it worthwhile for someone already middle class. Their support for minimum wage is not really for the poor. Middle class people with kids just want to make sure their spoiled, largely unmotivated children make enough money at the local coffee shop/burger joint to show up consistently.


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“Close” Encounters Of The Cop Kind Mon, 30 Apr 2012 14:57:56 +0000 Over the weekend there was a small health expo at my local YMCA (which also shares a building with a public elementary school). A variety of organizations had stands and booths–from golf and swimming coaches to dietitians and chiropractors. And, like civilized people, they would pitch their goods and services to passers-by. Unfortunately, this peaceful demonstration of entrepreneurialism and voluntary market demand was tainted by the presence of the police.

No fewer than five “cruisers” lined the edge of the parking lot. About a dozen police officers, in full regalia (guns, tasers, cuffs, baton, military boots) interacted with children who would ask one question about another, their eyes glazed over by the “magnificence” of “our” public “servants.” But the “law and order” monopolists would still had a gem to show the community. Parked on the grass a B.E.A.R. military-style vehicle was the center of attention. Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters were taking turns climbing on the truck of mass destruction.

I approached and listened to the guy inside tell a kid that he was the one in charge of holding the bullet-proof shield when they have to go “serve warrants” and that the guy you see right there (pointing across the parking lot) was the one whose job was to break doors open. Another officer (dressed in camo and looked like a military soldier but was a local cop) told a girl that they were there to help the good ones and take care of “the bad guys.” Meh.

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TLS Podcast Picks: Stealth of Nations; SOPA Thu, 19 Jan 2012 15:22:02 +0000 Recommended podcasts:

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A drug warrior falls on his sword Fri, 02 Dec 2011 11:00:53 +0000 I would not expect libertarians to have much sympathy for agents of the state when they are ensnared by the same webs they help create.  And yet I do have some sympathy for former Arapahoe County, Colo. Sheriff (and one-time “Sheriff of the Year”) Pat Sullivan, who was arrested Tuesday on charges of methamphetamine distribution.  Investigators say Sullivan offered meth to men in exchange for sex, and that he had also been “taking care” of meth addicts, going so far as to claim he was on a drug task force and was working for the Colorado Department of Public Health’s meth treatment program, which doesn’t exist.

Former Arapahoe County Sheriff Pat SullivanIt’s a dramatic fall from public grace for a man whose name adorns the very detention center where he’s being held on $500,000 bail.  Sullivan served nearly 20 years as Arapahoe sheriff and ironically served on a statewide meth task force in 2000.  His department undoubtedly arrested thousands on drug charges during his tenure.  For his work he was named “Sheriff of the Year” by his colleagues in the National Sheriffs’ Association in 2001.

So it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who’s run afoul of the same unjust laws he once enforced.  But consider this: Sullivan engages in some honest, peaceful, consensual trade for once, and ends up in an orange jumpsuit and shackles on national television, shattering a decades-long legacy as a tough and ethical law enforcement officer.  It’s moments like these that makes one want to appreciate cosmic practical jokes.

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Land of the Free™ (Rules and Restrictions May Apply) Wed, 23 Nov 2011 22:18:09 +0000 From I learn that the terrorists hate us so much for our freedoms, they are now preventing us from using their online poker rooms., a small independent online poker room, became a trailblazer this week, becoming the first internet poker room to accept Bitcoin as a valid currency for both deposits and withdrawals.  Bitcoin is a unique currency, as it is purely virtual and does not require financial institutions to process transactions… It does not accept players from the United States.

What will the terrorists think of next?

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Bureaucrats Gone Wild — Episode #526 Wed, 23 Nov 2011 06:23:11 +0000 Massachusetts fisherman Carlos Rafael pulled in what should have been a life-changing fish this week, but before he could unload it for a huge payday, his local chapter of ridiculous-rule-enforcers, A.K.A., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA)  enforcement division, took him down. (Whew! That was close.) You see, although Rafeal had filed all the appropriate paperwork to catch tuna, the behemoth in question was caught in his boat’s nets and not via rod and reel, as is specified, well, someplace. As a result, the authorities had no choice but to pinch the fish when Rafael’s boat returned to port. The expected $400,000 payday that could come from the sale of fish will very likely go into NOAA’s asset forfeiture fund. Nice racket. (Or, should that be, nice rod and reel?)

H/T:  James Nellis

…cross-posted at LRCBlog.

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Antitrust Aggressor Loses Wed, 16 Nov 2011 20:40:27 +0000 As reported in the Wall Street Journal, memory chip manufacturer Rambus has lost its antitrust case against competitors Micron Technology Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc.

Rambus had sought $4 billion in direct damages for the harm it allegedly suffered in the case, an amount that can be instantly tripled under California law. It also asked for punitive damages.

Rambus, a Silicon Valley designer of technology used in memory chips, accused Micron and Hynix of violating antitrust laws by conspiring to prevent Rambus technology from gaining traction in the market and fixing the price of memory chips.

The jury deliberated 8 weeks after a 3-month trial. Good result!
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Oh The Things (And People) I Own! Wed, 16 Nov 2011 19:32:50 +0000 In one of my first posts on this blog I mentioned the usage of “the” as a catch-all term to include a variety of government-“offered” “goods” and “services” that people in general refer to offhandedly (“the” schools, “the” roads, etc.).

The Florida Department of Health has launched a campaign to eliminate second hand smoke from bars, parks and other public (or should that be “public”?) spaces. And what better way than to get folks behind this campaign that to be as inclusive as possible. Thus, the marketing/propaganda material uses “our” as much as possible. “Make our bars smoke-free” says one. Another one: “Make our public spaces smoke-free.” And — because we care about “the” children — “Make our parks smoke-free.”

Democracy, the devil that triumphed.

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Mimi & Eunice: Exploitation Thu, 20 Oct 2011 15:00:52 +0000 . . . → Read More: Exploitation]]> exploitation

Here’s a terrific article on Capitalists vs. Entrepreneurs.


This is a syndicated post, which originally appeared at Mimi and Eunice » IPView original post.

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