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George Reisman #wingnut mises.org

The basis of the claim that Nazi Germany was capitalist was the fact that most industries in Nazi Germany appeared to be left in private hands.

What Mises identified was that private ownership of the means of production existed in name only under the Nazis and that the actual substance of ownership of the means of production resided in the German government. For it was the German government and not the nominal private owners that exercised all of the substantive powers of ownership: it, not the nominal private owners, decided what was to be produced, in what quantity, by what methods, and to whom it was to be distributed, as well as what prices would be charged and what wages would be paid, and what dividends or other income the nominal private owners would be permitted to receive. The position of the alleged private owners, Mises showed, was reduced essentially to that of government pensioners.

De facto government ownership of the means of production, as Mises termed it, was logically implied by such fundamental collectivist principles embraced by the Nazis as that the common good comes before the private good and the individual exists as a means to the ends of the State. If the individual is a means to the ends of the State, so too, of course, is his property. Just as he is owned by the State, his property is also owned by the State.

But what specifically established de facto socialism in Nazi Germany was the introduction of price and wage controls in 1936. These were imposed in response to the inflation of the money supply carried out by the regime from the time of its coming to power in early 1933. The Nazi regime inflated the money supply as the means of financing the vast increase in government spending required by its programs of public works, subsidies, and rearmament. The price and wage controls were imposed in response to the rise in prices that began to result from the inflation.

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Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.; various Randroids #racist mises.org

Open Borders Are an Assault on Private Property

Whether we’re talking about illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America, or birthright citizenship, or the migrants coming from the Middle East and Africa, the subject of immigration has been in the news and widely discussed for months now. It is an issue fraught with potentially perilous consequences, so it is especially important for libertarians to understand it correctly.

This Mises Circle, which is devoted to a consideration of where we ought to go from here, seems like an opportune moment to take up this momentous question.

I should note at the outset that in searching for the correct answer to this vexing problem I do not seek to claim originality. To the contrary, I draw much of what follows from two of the people whose work is indispensable to a proper understanding of the free society: Murray N. Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

Some libertarians have assumed that the correct libertarian position on immigration must be “open borders,” or the completely unrestricted movement of people. Superficially, this appears correct: surely we believe in letting people go wherever they like!

But hold on a minute. Think about “freedom of speech,” another principle people associate with libertarians. Do we really believe in freedom of speech as an abstract principle? That would mean I have the right to yell all during a movie, or the right to disrupt a Church service, or the right to enter your home and shout obscenities at you.

What we believe in are private property rights. No one has “freedom of speech” on my property, since I set the rules, and in the last resort I can expel someone. He can say whatever he likes on his own property, and on the property of anyone who cares to listen to him, but not on mine.

The same principle holds for freedom of movement. Libertarians do not believe in any such principle in the abstract. I do not have the right to wander into your house, or into your gated community, or into Disneyworld, or onto your private beach, or onto Jay-Z’s private island. As with “freedom of speech,” private property is the relevant factor here. I can move onto any property I myself own or whose owner wishes to have me. I cannot simply go wherever I like.

Now if all the parcels of land in the whole world were privately owned, the solution to the so-called immigration problem would be evident. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that there would be no immigration problem in the first place. Everyone moving somewhere new would have to have the consent of the owner of that place.

When the state and its so-called public property enter the picture, though, things become murky, and it takes extra effort to uncover the proper libertarian position. I’d like to try to do that today.

Shortly before his death, Murray Rothbard published an article called “Nations by Consent: Decomposing the Nation State.” He had begun rethinking the assumption that libertarianism committed us to open borders.

He noted, for instance, the large number of ethnic Russians whom Stalin settled in Estonia. This was not done so that Baltic people could enjoy the fruits of diversity. It never is. It was done in an attempt to destroy an existing culture, and in the process to make a people more docile and less likely to cause problems for the Soviet empire.

Murray wondered: does libertarianism require me to support this, much less to celebrate it? Or might there be more to the immigration question after all?

And here Murray posed the problem just as I have: in a fully private-property society, people would have to be invited onto whatever property they traveled through or settled on.

If every piece of land in a country were owned by some person, group, or corporation, this would mean that no person could enter unless invited to enter and allowed to rent or purchase property. A totally privatized country would be as closed as the particular property owners desire. It seems clear, then, that the regime of open borders that exists de facto in the U.S. and Western Europe really amounts to a compulsory opening by the central state, the state in charge of all streets and public land areas, and does not genuinely reflect the wishes of the proprietors.

In the current situation, on the other hand, immigrants have access to public roads, public transportation, public buildings, and so on. Combine this with the state’s other curtailments of private property rights, and the result is artificial demographic shifts that would not occur in a free market. Property owners are forced to associate and do business with individuals they might otherwise avoid.

“Commercial property owners such as stores, hotels, and restaurants are no longer free to exclude or restrict access as they see fit,” writes Hans. “Employers can no longer hire or fire who they wish. In the housing market, landlords are no longer free to exclude unwanted tenants. Furthermore, restrictive covenants are compelled to accept members and actions in violation of their very own rules and regulations.”

Hans continues:

By admitting someone onto its territory, the state also permits this person to proceed on public roads and lands to every domestic resident’s doorsteps, to make use of all public facilities and services (such as hospitals and schools), and to access every commercial establishment, employment, and residential housing, protected by a multitude of nondiscrimination laws.

It is rather unfashionable to express concern for the rights of property owners, but whether the principle is popular or not, a transaction between two people should not occur unless both of those people want it to. This is the very core of libertarian principle.

In order to make sense of all this and reach the appropriate libertarian conclusion, we have to look more closely at what public property really is and who, if anyone, can be said to be its true owner. Hans has devoted some of his own work to precisely this question. There are two positions we must reject: that public property is owned by the government, or that public property is unowned, and is therefore comparable to land in the state of nature, before individual property titles to particular parcels of land have been established.

Certainly we cannot say public property is owned by the government, since government may not legitimately own anything. Government acquires its property by force, usually via the intermediary of taxation. A libertarian cannot accept that kind of property acquisition as morally legitimate, since it involves the initiation of force (the extraction of tax dollars) on innocent people. Hence government’s pretended property titles are illegitimate.

But neither can we say that public property is unowned. Property in the possession of a thief is not unowned, even if at the moment it does not happen to be held by the rightful owner. The same goes for so-called public property. It was purchased and developed by means of money seized from the taxpayers. They are the true owners.

(This, incidentally, was the correct way to approach de-socialization in the former communist regimes of eastern Europe. All those industries were the property of the people who had been looted to build them, and those people should have received shares in proportion to their contribution, to the extent it could have been determined.)

In an anarcho-capitalist world, with all property privately owned, “immigration” would be up to each individual property owner to decide. Right now, on the other hand, immigration decisions are made by a central authority, with the wishes of property owners completely disregarded. The correct way to proceed, therefore, is to decentralize decision-making on immigration to the lowest possible level, so that we approach ever more closely the proper libertarian position, in which individual property owners consent to the various movements of peoples.

Ralph Raico, our great libertarian historian, once wrote:

Free immigration would appear to be in a different category from other policy decisions, in that its consequences permanently and radically alter the very composition of the democratic political body that makes those decisions. In fact, the liberal order, where and to the degree that it exists, is the product of a highly complex cultural development. One wonders, for instance, what would become of the liberal society of Switzerland under a regime of “open borders.”

Switzerland is in fact an interesting example. Before the European Union got involved, the immigration policy of Switzerland approached the kind of system we are describing here. In Switzerland, localities decided on immigration, and immigrants or their employers had to pay to admit a prospective migrant. In this way, residents could better ensure that their communities would be populated by people who would add value and who would not stick them with the bill for a laundry list of “benefits.”

Obviously, in a pure open borders system, the Western welfare states would simply be overrun by foreigners seeking tax dollars. As libertarians, we should of course celebrate the demise of the welfare state. But to expect a sudden devotion to laissez faire to be the likely outcome of a collapse in the welfare state is to indulge in naïveté of an especially preposterous kind.

Can we conclude that an immigrant should be considered “invited” by the mere fact that he has been hired by an employer? No, says Hans, because the employer does not assume the full cost associated with his new employee. The employer partially externalizes the costs of that employee on the taxpaying public:

Equipped with a work permit, the immigrant is allowed to make free use of every public facility: roads, parks, hospitals, schools, and no landlord, businessman, or private associate is permitted to discriminate against him as regards housing, employment, accommodation, and association. That is, the immigrant comes invited with a substantial fringe benefits package paid for not (or only partially) by the immigrant employer (who allegedly has extended the invitation), but by other domestic proprietors as taxpayers who had no say in the invitation whatsoever.

These migrations, in short, are not market outcomes. They would not occur on a free market. What we are witnessing are examples of subsidized movement. Libertarians defending these mass migrations as if they were market phenomena are only helping to discredit and undermine the true free market.

Moreover, as Hans points out, the “free immigration” position is not analogous to free trade, as some libertarians have erroneously claimed. In the case of goods being traded from one place to another, there is always and necessarily a willing recipient. The same is not true for “free immigration.”

To be sure, it is fashionable in the US to laugh at words of caution about mass immigration. Why, people made predictions about previous waves of immigration, we’re told, and we all know those didn’t come true. Now for one thing, those waves were all followed by swift and substantial immigration reductions, during which time society adapted to these pre-welfare state population movements. There is virtually no prospect of any such reductions today. For another, it is a fallacy to claim that because some people incorrectly predicted a particular outcome at a particular time, therefore that outcome is impossible, and anyone issuing words of caution about it is a contemptible fool.

The fact is, politically enforced multiculturalism has an exceptionally poor track record. The twentieth century affords failure after predictable failure. Whether it’s Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, or Pakistan and Bangladesh, or Malaysia and Singapore, or the countless places with ethnic and religious divides that have not yet been resolved to this day, the evidence suggests something rather different from the tale of universal brotherhood that is such a staple of leftist folklore.

No doubt some of the new arrivals will be perfectly decent people, despite the US government’s lack of interest in encouraging immigration among the skilled and capable. But some will not. The three great crime waves in US history – which began in 1850, 1900, and 1960 — coincided with periods of mass immigration.

Crime isn’t the only reason people may legitimately wish to resist mass immigration. If four million Americans showed up in Singapore, that country’s culture and society would be changed forever. And no, it is not true that libertarianism would in that case require the people of Singapore to shrug their shoulders and say it was nice having our society while it lasted but all good things must come to an end. No one in Singapore would want that outcome, and in a free society, they would actively prevent it.

In other words, it’s bad enough we have to be looted, spied on, and kicked around by the state. Should we also have to pay for the privilege of cultural destructionism, an outcome the vast majority of the state’s taxpaying subjects do not want and would actively prevent if they lived in a free society and were allowed to do so?

The very cultures that the incoming migrants are said to enrich us with could not have developed had they been constantly bombarded with waves of immigration by peoples of radically different cultures. So the multicultural argument doesn’t even make sense.

It is impossible to believe that the US or Europe will be a freer place after several more decades of uninterrupted mass immigration. Given the immigration patterns that the US and EU governments encourage, the long-term result will be to make the constituencies for continued government growth so large as to be practically unstoppable. Open-borders libertarians active at that time will scratch their heads and claim not to understand why their promotion of free markets is having so little success. Everybody else will know the answer.

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Jeffrey A. Tucker #fundie mises.org

The Trouble With Child Labor Laws

Let's say you want your computer fixed or your software explained. You can shell out big bucks to the Geek Squad, or you can ask — but you can't hire — a typical teenager, or even a preteen. Their experience with computers and the online world is vastly superior to that of most people over the age of 30. From the point of view of online technology, it is the young who rule. And yet they are professionally powerless: they are forbidden by law from earning wages from their expertise.

Might these folks have something to offer the workplace? And might the young benefit from a bit of early work experience, too? Perhaps — but we'll never know, thanks to antiquated federal, state, and local laws that make it a crime to hire a kid.

Pop culture accepts these laws as a normal part of national life, a means to forestall a Dickensian nightmare of sweat shops and the capitalist exploitation of children. It's time we rid ourselves of images of children tied to rug looms in the developing world. The kids I'm talking about are one of the most courted of all consumer sectors. Society wants them to consume, but law forbids them to produce.

You might be surprised to know that the laws against "child labor" do not date from the 18th century. Indeed, the national law against child labor didn't pass until the Great Depression — in 1938, with the Fair Labor Standards Act. It was the same law that gave us a minimum wage and defined what constitutes full-time and part-time work. It was a handy way to raise wages and lower the unemployment rate: simply define whole sectors of the potential workforce as unemployable.

By the time this legislation passed, however, it was mostly a symbol, a classic case of Washington chasing a trend in order to take credit for it. Youth labor was expected in the 17th and 18th centuries — even welcome, since remunerative work opportunities were newly present. But as prosperity grew with the advance of commerce, more kids left the workforce. By 1930, only 6.4 percent of kids between the ages of 10 and 15 were actually employed, and 3 out of 4 of those were in agriculture.1

In wealthier, urban, industrialized areas, child labor was largely gone, as more and more kids were being schooled. Cultural factors were important here, but the most important consideration was economic. More developed economies permit parents to "purchase" their children's education out of the family's surplus income — if only by foregoing what would otherwise be their earnings.

The law itself, then, forestalled no nightmare, nor did it impose one. In those days, there was rising confidence that education was the key to saving the youth of America. Stay in school, get a degree or two, and you would be fixed up for life. Of course, that was before academic standards slipped further and further, and schools themselves began to function as a national child-sitting service. Today, we are far more likely to recognize the contribution that disciplined work makes to the formation of character.

And yet we are stuck with these laws, which are incredibly complicated once you factor in all state and local variations. Kids under the age of 16 are forbidden to earn income in remunerative employment outside a family business. If dad is a blacksmith, you can learn to pound iron with the best of 'em. But if dad works for a law firm, you are out of luck.

From the outset, federal law made exceptions for kid movie stars and performers. Why? It probably has something to do with how Shirley Temple led box-office receipts from 1934–1938. She was one of the highest earning stars of the period.

If you are 14 or 15, you can ask your public school for a waiver and work a limited number of hours when school is not in session. And if you are in private school or home school, you must go ask your local Social Service Agency — not exactly the most welcoming bunch. The public school itself is also permitted to run work programs.

This point about approved labor is an interesting one, if you think about it. The government doesn't seem to mind so much if a kid spends all nonschool hours away from the home, family, and church, but it forbids them from engaging in private-sector work during the time when they would otherwise be in public schools drinking from the well of civic culture.

The legal exemption is also made for delivering newspapers, as if bicycles rather than cars were still the norm for this activity.

Here is another strange exemption: "youth working at home in the making of wreaths composed of natural holly, pine, cedar, or other evergreens (including the harvesting of the evergreens)." Perhaps the wreath lobby was more powerful during the Great Depression than in our own time?

Oh, and there is one final exemption, as incredible as this may be: federal law allows states to allow kids to work for a state or local government at any age, and there are no hourly restrictions. Virginia, for example, allows this.

The exceptions cut against the dominant theory of the laws that it is somehow evil to "commodify" the labor of kids. If it is wonderful to be a child movie star, congressional page, or home-based wreath maker, why it is wrong to be a teenage software fixer, a grocery bagger, or ice-cream scooper? It makes no sense.

Once you get past the exceptions, the bottom line is clear: full-time work in the private sector, for hours of their own choosing, is permitted only to those "children" who are 18 and older — by which time a child has already passed the age when he can be influenced toward a solid work ethic.

What is lost in the bargain? Kids no longer have the choice to work for money. Parents who believe that their children would benefit from the experience are at a loss. Consumers who would today benefit from our teens' technological knowhow have no commercial way to do so. They have been forcibly excluded from the matrix of exchange.

There is a social-cultural point, too. Employers will tell you that most kids coming out of college are radically unprepared for a regular job. It's not so much that they lack skills or that they can't be trained; it's that they don't understand what it means to serve others in a workplace setting. They resent being told what to do, tend not to follow through, and work by the clock instead of the task. In other words, they are not socialized into how the labor market works. Indeed, if we perceive a culture of sloth, irresponsibility, and entitlement among today's young, perhaps we ought to look here for a contributing factor.

The law is rarely questioned today. But it is a fact that child-labor laws didn't come about easily. It took more than a hundred years of wrangling.2The first advocates of keeping kids out of factories were women's labor unions, who didn't appreciate the low-wage competition. And true to form, labor unions have been reliable exclusionists ever since. Opposition did not consist of mining companies looking for cheap labor, but rather parents and clergy alarmed that a law against child labor would be a blow against freedom. They predicted that it would amount to the nationalization of children, which is to say that the government rather than the parents or the child would emerge as the final authority and locus of decision-making.

To give you a flavor of the opposition, consider this funny "Beatitude" read by Congressman Fritz G. Lanham of Texas on the US House floor in 1924, as a point of opposition to a child-labor ban then being considered:

Consider the Federal agent in the field; he toils not, nor does he spin; and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his populous household was not arrayed with powers like one of these.

Children, obey your agents from Washington, for this is right.

Honor thy father and thy mother, for the Government has created them but a little lower than the Federal agent. Love, honor, and disobey them.

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, tell it to thy father and mother and let them do it.

Six days shalt thou do all thy rest, and on the seventh day thy parents shall rest with thee.

Go to the bureau officer, thou sluggard; consider his ways and be idle.

Toil, thou farmer's wife; thou shalt have no servant in thy house, nor let thy children help thee.

And all thy children shall be taught of the Federal agent, and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Thy children shall rise up and call the Federal agent blessed.

In every way, the opponents were right. Child-labor laws were and are a blow against the freedom to work and a boost in government authority over the family. The political class thinks nothing of legislating on behalf of "the children," as if they are the first owners of all kids. Child-labor laws were the first big step in this direction, and the rest follows. If the state can dictate to parents and kids the terms under which teens can be paid, there is essentially nothing they cannot control. There is no sense in arguing about the details of the law. The critical question concerns the locus of decision-making: family or state? Private markets or the public sector?

In so many ways, child-labor laws are an anachronism. There is no sense of speaking of exploitation as if this were the early years of the industrial revolution. Kids as young as 10 can surely contribute their labors in some tasks in ways that would help them come to grips with the relationship between work and reward. They will better learn to respect private forms of social authority outside the home. They will come to understand that some things are expected of them in life. And after they finish college and enter the workforce, it won't come as such a shock the first time they are asked to do something that may not be their first choice.

We know the glorious lessons that are imparted from productive work. What lesson do we impart with child-labor laws? We establish early on who is in charge: not individuals, not parents, but the state. We tell the youth that they are better off being mall rats than fruitful workers. We tell them that they have nothing to offer society until they are 18 or so. We convey the impression that work is a form of exploitation from which they must be protected. We drive a huge social wedge between parents and children and lead kids to believe that they have nothing to learn from their parents' experience. We rob them of what might otherwise be the most valuable early experiences of their young adulthood.

In the end, the most compelling case for getting rid of child-labor laws comes down to one central issue: the freedom to make a choice. Those who think young teens should do nothing but languish in classrooms in the day and play Wii at night will be no worse off. But those who see that remunerative work is great experience for everyone will cheer to see this antique regulation toppled. Maybe then the kids of America can put their computer skills to use doing more than playing World of Warcraft.

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Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. #fundie mises.org

Feel Sorry for BP?

It was 21 years ago that the Exxon Valdez leaked oil and unleashed torrents of environmental hysteria. Rothbard got it right in his piece "Why Not Feel Sorry for Exxon?"

After the British Petroleum–hired oil rig exploded last week, the environmentalists went nuts yet again, using the occasion to flail a private corporation and wail about the plight of the "ecosystem," which somehow managed to survive and thrive after the Exxon debacle.

The comparison is complicated by how much worse this event is for BP. Eleven people died. BP market shares have been pummeled. So long as the leak persists, the company loses 5,000–10,000 barrels a day.

BP will be responsible for cleanup costs far exceeding the federal limit of $75 million on liability for damages. The public relations nightmare will last for a decade or more. In the end, the costs could reach $100 billion, nearly wrecking the company and many other businesses.

It should be obvious that BP is by far the leading victim, but I've yet to see a single expression of sadness for the company and its losses. Indeed, the words of disgust for BP are beyond belief. The DailyKos sums it up: "BP: Go f*** yourselves." Obama's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said that the government intended to keep "its boot on BP's neck."

How about reality? The incident is a tragedy for BP and all the subcontractors involved. It will probably wreck the company, a company that has long provided the fuel that runs our cars, runs our industries, and keeps alive the very body of modern life. The idea that BP should be hated and denounced is preposterous; there is every reason to express great sadness for what has happened.

It is not as if BP profits by oil leaks, or that anyone reveled in the chance to dump its precious oil all over the ocean. BP gains nothing from this. Its own CEO has worked for years to try to prevent precisely this kind of accident from occurring, and done so not out of the desire to comply with regulations, but just because it is good business practice.

In contrast to those who are weeping, we might ask who is happy about the disaster:

the environmentalists, with their fear mongering and hatred of modern life, and
the government, which treats every capitalist producer as a bird to be plucked.

The environmentalists are thrilled because they get yet another chance to wail and moan about the plight of their beloved marshes and other allegedly sensitive land. The loss of fish and marine life is sad, but it is not as if it will not come back: after the Exxon Valdez disaster, the fishing was better than ever in just one year.

The main advantage to the environmentalists is their propaganda victory in having yet another chance to rail against the evils of oil producers and ocean drilling. If they have their way, oil prices would be double or triple, there would never be another refinery built, and all development of the oceans would stop in the name of "protecting" things that do human beings not one bit of good.

The core economic issue concerning the environment is really about liability. In a world of private property, if you soil someone else's property, you bear the liability. But what about in a world in which government owns vast swaths, and the oceans are considered the commons of everyone? It becomes extremely difficult to assess damages to the environment at all.
"The liability for environmental damage should be 100% at least."

There is also a profound problem with federal government limits on liability. That is central planning gone mad. The liability for environmental damage should be 100% at least. Such a system would match a company's policies to the actual risk of doing damage. Lower limits would inspire companies to be less concerned about damage to others than they should be, in the same way that a company with a bailout guarantee faces a moral hazard to be less efficient than it would be in a free market.

But such a liability rule presumes ownership, so that owners themselves are in a position to enter into fair bargaining, and there can be some objective test. There is no objective test when the oceans are collectively owned and where huge amounts of territory are government owned.

And it is precisely the government and the Obama administration that gain from the incident. The regulators get yet another lease on life. They are already sending thousands of people to "save" the region. "Every American affected by this spill should know this: your government will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to stop this crisis," Obama said.

Are we really supposed to believe that government is better able to deal with this disaster than private industry?

Meanwhile, the Obama administration must be thrilled to have an old-fashioned change of subject, so that we don't have to notice every single day that its economic stimulus has been an incredible flop, with unemployment higher today than a year ago and the depression still persisting.

And why, by the way, when every natural disaster is hailed by the Keynesian media for at least having the stimulative effect of rebuilding, is nothing like this said about the oil spill? At least in this case, losses seem to be recognized as losses.

The abstraction called the "ecosystem" — which never seems to include mankind or civilization — has done far less for us than the oil industry, and the factories, planes, trains, and automobiles it fuels. The greatest tragedy here belongs to BP and its subsidiaries, and the private enterprises affected by the losses that no one intended. If the result is a shutdown of drilling and further regulation of private enterprise, we only end up letting the oil spill win.

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Hunter Lewis #conspiracy mises.org

CDC, PHARMA, And Mainstream Media On The Same Team

Unfortunately this team seems to be covering up a possible risk to children, especially black children.

For years, some parents of autistic children have claimed a link between their children’s condition and vaccines. One vaccine in particular has been mentioned: the MMR (Mumps, Measles, and Rubella).

The Center for Disease Control of the United States has consistently denied any MMR/autism connection. In congressional testimony and elsewhere, it has cited a 2004 study of its own published in Pediatrics.

Now one of the authors of that study, William W. Thompson, a senior scientist employed by the CDC, has admitted that critical data from the study was suppressed. Thompson released the following statement through his lawyer: “ I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism.”

It’s Hard to Believe in Vaccines Contaminated by Crony Capitalism

The larger problem here is that the government either develops a new vaccine itself and licenses it to a private company or subsidizes the development by a private company. It then receives payments for testing the product as well as possible licensing fees if the product is approved. The same government promotes the vaccine to the states and often ensures that it is mandated for school children.

This system is obviously fraught with conflicts of interest. The party that develops the vaccine should not do the approving. The approving agency should not receive payments depending on approval. This situation would not be hard to fix if government would embrace a few obvious and much needed reforms.

It would help us get the reforms if the mainstream media would come out of its foxhole and report on the problems. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and other mainstream outlets have refused to touch the CDC researcher’s startling admission. Why? A possible explanation is that the mainstream media today is completely dependent financially on drug company advertising. And it is drug companies that make vaccines.

The Recent Cover Up

So how serious was the cover-up of data relating to black children described by the CDC’s Dr. Thompson? How much increased risk for autism was associated with the vaccine?

One scientist, Dr. Brian Hooker, sought the complete study data for a decade and finally got it with the help of Congress. He reported that the raw data suggested a 340% increase in autism among African-American males vaccinated at the recommended age. Others have already challenged this number, and it is still unclear exactly what the newly revealed data will show.

“Dr. Thompson told Dr. Hooker over the phone: “It’s the lowest part of my career, that I went along with that paper.” Thompson revealed that he did not know Dr. Hooker was recording the conversation but did not deny making the statement.

We must also keep in mind that the controversy so far is about the age of vaccination. Children vaccinated before 36 months are being compared to children vaccinated a little later. What is really needed is a study of children given the MMR and other vaccines versus children who have not received the shot at all. For whatever reasons, the government has not done this.

The CDC has instead claimed that the case against vaccines in general is closed. Quite apart from Dr. Thompson’s startling new testimony, there have been reasons to doubt this. For example, a review of the literature in Immunotoxicoloy by the respected researcher Helen Ratajczak has raised many questions. Dr. Thompson agrees that there are still questions that need answering.

“I will do everything I can to assist any unbiased and objective scientists inside or outside the CDC to analyze data collected by the CDC or other public organizations for the purpose of understanding whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. There are still more questions than answers, and I appreciate that so many families are looking for answers from the scientific community.’ “

At least one observer has compared the CDC’s refusal to publish pertinent and potentially alarming data related to the health of black newborns to the Tuskegee Experiment.

In that infamous case, black males were cold-bloodedly denied treatment for syphilis without their knowledge in order to study what would happen to them.

The controversy over the 2004 paper has also given rise to new charges. One of them is that the CDC knows of potential harm to newborns from flu shots administered to pregnant women, but won’t publish the data or review its recommendation of the shot. These allegations are too new to assess and like the MMR controversy should be studied by objective scientists, if they can be found.

Worries about the CDC have also circulated for years about its handling of the HPV vaccine for genital warts. This vaccine, developed by government scientists and licensed to Merck, is intended to prevent cervical cancer. The head of the CDC, Julie Gerberding, who gave it to Merck, is now president of Merck’s vaccine division.

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William H. Peterson #fundie mises.org

Capitalism: The Greatest Charity

When a politician talks of "reform," grab your wallet. As in "welfare reform," for example. For as any hardened inside-the-Beltway observer of dark Washington ways can tell you, "welfare reform" is typically a spin for tightening the screws on the taxpayer and easing welfare access.

To be sure, a welfare-to-work program launched in 1996 led to the national welfare caseload being cut in half as of 2000, thanks in part to an economic boom in those years. Now the Bush White House would fund the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for fiscal year 2003 at $16.5 billion, using $300 million of those funds to promote marriage. Noble end, wrong means.

But such funds mainly address only the cash relief side of welfare while a host of other welfare programs go on, as in providing the poor today with "affordable housing." The bloated Welfare State remains, especially in its larger terms of giant programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Noteworthy, then, is last March 8, when the US Labor Department reported that the February unemployment rate had edged down, and when the White House and Congress publicly agreed on a $51-billion Keynesian-based "stimulus" plan with a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits. But note that this extension pressures unemployment to edge up, reminding us that Uncle Sam rarely lets his right hand know what his left hand is doing.

Too, note how the once free-trade-talking-and-campaigning Bush team caved in on the issue of steel "dumping," arguing that steel is needed for national security, supposedly a very big consideration since 9/11. And so the White House wound up boosting tariffs on most steel products by 30 percent. The boost harms steel consumers such as buyers of cars and fridges and even the Defense Department, which will have to pay more for tanks and destroyers. But, hey, that's but collateral damage, as the White House baldly seeks such steel states as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio in the GOP column in the 2002 and 2004 elections.

Similarly, Mr. Bush brazenly told an audience of cattle ranchers that beef is a national security issue, as he and Congress plan to boost the annual "baseline" direct (apart from indirect) farm subsidies of $20 billion by another $25 billion over five years. So the farm states are also fair political game, even if the family food budget across the nation in turn gets to suffer collateral damage.

And speaking of the states, bear in mind that a lot of welfare programs come in the back door through federal grants-in-aid to state and localities at the rate of $300 billion a year. They usually require matching funds to participate in legal mischief by the federal and recipient governments.

What a way to run a railroad.

That scant backdrop on raw politics brings me to a remarkable 1956 essay, "The Greatest Economic Charity," by F.A. Harper, a contributor to the book, On Freedom and Free Enterprise: Essays in Honor of Ludwig von Mises. In it, Harper, who joined the Foundation for Economic Education in 1946 and founded his own think tank—the Institute for Humane Studies—in l963, quoted Moses Maimonides, 1135–1204, a Talmudic thinker of Spain, as follows: The noblest charity is to preclude a man from accepting charity, and the best alms are to show and enable a man to dispense with alms.

True economic charity, held Harper, has three iron requisites, each of which should be viewed in the light of so-called "welfare reform":

1. The charity needs a transfer of ownership from one individual to another of something having economic value. The donor must have clear title to the gift; it cannot be stolen goods or public goods. Private ownership, not public ownership, is needed at both sides of a charitable transfer or gift.

2. The transfer has to be voluntary with both parties. If it is forced from the giver or givers, it amounts to theft. If it is forced on the receiver or receivers, it is not charity but state interventionism, or what Frédéric Bastiat called "legal plunder," a blatant case of vote-buying and third-party payments using other people's money. (America's "free" public schools and Medicare qualify as cases in point.)

3. True charity requires anonymity. Harper conceded that this goal is tough to reach—as you gather from the various family names gracing the buildings on practically every private campus—but he still worried that devices other than anonymity "usually fail to prevent the creation of a personal obligation."

To Harper, such an obligation was a key no-no. He clung to Maim-onides's understanding of the noblest charity: That whatever cuts self-reliance and individual independence is ignoble and counterproductive. If the act is goaded by vainglory, by an ego trip, it is simply not charity, argued Harper. He cited the Biblical call that one who gives alms should not sound his trumpet before him "as do the hypocrites."

You can see where Harper was heading: to total welfare privatization, and more. He saw Ludwig von Mises as a charitable person more so than being an economist of world renown, for he gave mankind "his inspiring mind and spirit." Harper referred to the Mises spirit of freedom and free enterprise in contrast to the spirit of "dependency, insecurity, and slavery" as fostered, for example, by the policies of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the French Revolution or of Karl Marx in the Russian and Chinese revolutions.

Said Harper of Mises's gift of his "inspiring mind and spirit" to mankind: "In my opinion, there can be no greater charity than this, for it endures beyond any material form of benevolence."

Harper was most concerned that state "charity" nowadays spells enslavement in one degree or another, that alms-giving or welfarism is "pernicious" (his word), that it embodies residual obligations which, in one way or another, become suspended in uncertainty forever. Worship of the state tends to follow, entrenching or deifying the welfare state at the ballot box by citizens unmindful of the zero-sum fact that government has nothing to give other than what it first takes away.

Welfarism's loss of self-reliance, of individual rights, is critical as well as immoral. Harper quoted St. Thomas Aquinas: "There is no security for us so long as we depend on the will of another man." He quoted Greek philosopher Plutarch: "The real destroyer of the liberties of any people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations, and largesses." So Harper maintained that self-reliance thus gets short shrift in welfare schemes from Rome's "bread and circuses" to Washington's "affordable housing" and "Social Security."

At this point, Harper made an amazing leap in logic and persuasion as to just what makes up our "greatest economic charity." He conceded that some won't buy into his use here of the term "charity," insisting on its earlier usage as an individual approach of brotherly love and compassion if ignoring its more modern usage as including alms-giving and, worse, welfarism or oxymoronic "public charity."

Nonetheless, Harper argued that those three critical criteria for true charity, including voluntarism, an-onymity, and a transfer of privately- owned things having economic worth, are best met in that Misesian system of freedom and free enterprise.

So Harper pointed out that a large part of the high level of prosperity enjoyed broadly in America arises from the widespread use of capitalism and, in particular, capital: i.e., in the growth and use of tools both in terms of plant, equipment, and high-tech, and of human skills and talents such as those in computer programming and truck driving or in medicine, engineering, and the arts.

The upshot of all this capital creation is America's outstanding output per worker compared to the rest of the world—output or productivity making possible America's high living standards, the highest of any major industrial nation in the world, thanks to enormous capital accumulation resulting in the highest wages and salaries, overall, in the industrial world.

What a joke on Marx. He christened capitalism with its telling name and unintended well-being for its sovereign consumers, while his system of communism empowered coercive government to rob consumers of goods, denying them both political and economic choice, while generously providing them with plenty of gulags for dissidents.

Now, asked Harper, who created this outpouring of highly productive capital tools? He answered his own question by simply alluding to legions of "invisible hand" savers and investors—those inadvertent charity providers with their delightful unplanned consequences of a freer and more prosperous society.

Even more remarkable in the Harper analysis is that, based on US government national income data, the return to capital owners is but about 15 percent in terms of dividends, interest, rents, and royalties together with their equivalents in owner-operated businesses, while the return to capital users is around 85 percent, including wages and salaries to employees and their equivalent to those self-employed.

Well, assuming the accuracy of those figures, how come the saver-investor gets less than one-sixth of what his saving and investing made possible? In response, Harper simply noted that the division is peacefully solved by the market, by private ownership and free exchange, by the "selfish owners," as those who save and invest are so often tarred, and who "are really the greatest charity-givers of all."

Harper admitted that a man who saves and invests is hardly without a personal incentive to do so, but he maintained that such a man is still mightily giving, serving his fellow man in building up the national stockpile of tools and thereby raising living standards for all.

What compounds the tragedy of the modern welfare state then is the widespread mirage of a free lunch, of a common failure to see how the growing burden of rising taxes drags down the outlook for savings and profitable investment. This drag, if unrelieved, would in time snuff out the drive to save and invest—killing off this vastly unknown and unappreciated bounty and charity arising from capital creation, from more and better tools. As F.A. Harper—in addressing, when you think about it, both the West and the Third World—concluded his profound essay:

"The greatest economic charity is that which enables persons to become independent of alms and therefore most self-reliant and secure under freedom. Only when that happens—when persons advance from the brink of starvation—is time released for devotion to things of the mind and spirit, which comprise the supremely great charity."

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Murray N. Rothbard #fundie mises.org

[Bolding by Submitter, author died in 1995]

Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his institute children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive.(Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.) This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g., by not feeding it)?4 The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die. (Though, as we shall see below, in a libertarian society the existence of a free baby market will bring such "neglect" down to a minimum.)

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Thomas J. DiLorenzo #fundie mises.org

People who advocate tax-funded school vouchers for private schools frequently hail the G.I. Bill of Rights education vouchers for World War II veterans as a model. In truth, the G.I. Bill was a budget-busting middle-class entitlement scheme that had destructive effects on higher education, and set the stage for virtually all our current educational problems.

The public purpose of the G.I. Bill was to smooth the transition from military to civilian life after the war. But ulterior motives were also present. Washington Keynesians wrongly feared the economic consequences of putting this many people in the private sector at once; better to let them flounder around in schools for a few years.

Left-liberals wanted universities to be " democratized" and purged of traditional notions of merit and class. These ideologues saw veterans as a helpful tool (90 percent were eligible to receive funds) in this egalitarian effort. Moreover, colleges and universities across the country wanted government subsidies, just as they do today.

There's a myth that most veterans would not have attended college without federal government help. In fact, myriad programs existed at all levels of society. Virtually every major church, civic organization, and large corporation raised money to provide them, and most states established loan programs as well. These could have worked without negative effects on schools. But they were preempted by the feds and history's largest infusion of public dollars to education.

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Thomas J. DiLorenzo #fundie mises.org

Union-backed legislation prohibiting child labor came after the decline in child labor had already begun. Moreover, child labor laws have always been protectionist and aimed at depriving young people of the opportunity to work. Since child labor sometimes competes with unionized labor, unions have long sought to use the power of the state to deprive young people of the right to work.

In the Third World today, the alternative to "child labor" is all too often begging, prostitution, crime, or starvation. Unions absurdly proclaim to be taking the moral high road by advocating protectionist policies that inevitably lead to these consequences.

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Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. #fundie mises.org

But there's a more fundamental point. What precisely is being criminalized? Not bad driving. Not destruction of property. Not the taking of human life or reckless endangerment. The crime is having the wrong substance in your blood. Yet it is possible, in fact, to have this substance in your blood, even while driving, and not commit anything like what has been traditionally called a crime.

What have we done by permitting government to criminalize the content of our blood instead of actions themselves? We have given it power to make the application of the law arbitrary, capricious, and contingent on the judgment of cops and cop technicians. Indeed, without the government's "Breathalyzer," there is no way to tell for sure if we are breaking the law.

Sure, we can do informal calculations in our head, based on our weight and the amount of alcohol we have had over some period of time. But at best these will be estimates. We have to wait for the government to administer a test to tell us whether or not we are criminals. That's not the way law is supposed to work. Indeed, this is a form of tyranny.

Now, the immediate response goes this way: drunk driving has to be illegal because the probability of causing an accident rises dramatically when you drink. The answer is just as simple: government in a free society should not deal in probabilities. The law should deal in actions and actions alone, and only insofar as they damage person or property. Probabilities are something for insurance companies to assess on a competitive and voluntary basis.

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Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. #fundie mises.org

In fact, driver profiling is worse than racial profiling, because the latter only implies that the police are more watchful, not that they criminalize race itself. Despite the propaganda, what's being criminalized in the case of drunk driving is not the probability that a person driving will get into an accident but the fact of the blood-alcohol content itself. A drunk driver is humiliated and destroyed even when he hasn't done any harm.