Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Government Mandated Charity

So I promised a deeper study of charity. Since it's been a while, I suppose I kind of owe you. We're going to look at charity in the form of welfare. Well, let's stop for a second. That's a funny word, welfare, because of where it comes from. The word "welfare" originally had nothing to do with charity. In fact, the definition is essentially the equivalent of that of well-being. A parent would provide for his/her family's welfare. Providing for their well-being, not their charity. The term welfare is used for the government charity in the US because of its association with a clause in the Constitution.

Article I, Section 8.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States

In fact, by using this term in this manner, many people have come to think it reversed. They believe the term as it is written in the Constitution is a direct advocation of government charity, as opposed to the term being used afterward to refer to charity. If you read the clause without the charity mind-set surrounding it, it takes on a different tone. Try it, trade well-being for welfare in the sentence.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general well-being of the United States

In fact, the whole of Section 8 is rather extensive. This is not it's entirity. It is only the opening clause. There are 17 other clauses, or sub-clauses, following it, not including the second half of the clause that I have omitted for our purposes.

Now that we have clarified the proper reading of this particular clause, we see no specific mention of charity anywhere in the Constitution. Now, whether there is an implied mention of it somewhere is a debate we'll set aside for a time. It is, largely irrelavent. No specific mention of charity exists in the Constitution, so the government's choice to give out charity, if not downright unconstitutional, is not mandated.

So, let's analyze the logic behind government charity. First, this is your money. It is not the government's money. This is something that needs to be perfectly clear to begin with, because it is so often forgotten. Government cannot give money it doesn't have. Instead, it takes tax dollars and gives them out as charity. So, this is your money, your neighbor's money, my money, and everyone else in the country. Unlike money you donate to the Red Cross, these are not voluntary contributions. If you don't pay your taxes, you will be arrested and jailed...after all of your things are confiscated to "pay back taxes".

So, let's examine how the government decides to give out this money. Well, this could take months (on this blog at least) to fully examine. You can get all the details at government websites though. The basics are "need-based". The government gives money to those who don't have it, or at least, those who the government thinks don't have it.

"between 1 July 2004 and 30 June 2005[...] There were 3446 convictions for welfare fraud involving $41.2 million in debts."

So, now we know that the government also does a bad job at it. The government is "trying" though. Isn't that the point? Wait, the government doesn't have to try! We've been over this. There is no mandate for charity in the Constitution. Therefore, the government could stop taking my money and giving it to the wrong people and not be doing anything wrong! On that note, I think we'll leave this topic for now. This can continue to expand, so I will come back to it. Anywho, next tiime we'll try and close up something else and get us moving in a new direction.


There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as "caring" and "sensitive" because he wants to expand the government's charitable programs is merely saying that he's willing to try to do good with other people's money. Well, who isn't? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he'll do good with his own money – if a gun is held to his head. – P.J. O'Rourke

One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation. – Thomas B. Reed (1886)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Religious Quiz

I haven't had a whole lot of free time (ok, I've had next to none) lately so I figured I'd drop something a little different this time. Bravo to whomever created this quiz. It's impressively accurate. Rare for religious quizes. Yes, this is my religion of choice, and contrary to popular belief regarding Libertarians and Capitalists, I am a DEEPLY religious person. It is because I am so deeply religious that I stand so firmly behind the principles of Liberty in my everyday life. I think everyone would benefit from a little religion now and then.

You scored as Buddhism. Your beliefs most closely resemble those of Buddhism. Do more research on Buddhism and possibly consider becoming Buddhist, if you are not already.

In Buddhism, there are Four Noble Truths: (1) Life is suffering. (2) All suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of reality and the craving, attachment, and grasping that result from such ignorance. (3) Suffering can be ended by overcoming ignorance and attachment. (4) The path to the suppression of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path, which consists of right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness, and right contemplation. These eight are usually divided into three categories that base the Buddhist faith: morality, wisdom, and samadhi, or concentration. In Buddhism, there is no hierarchy, nor caste system; the Buddha taught that one's spiritual worth is not based on birth.



















Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
created with

Sunday, June 25, 2006

An analysis of Money

Giving money out freely is, more or less, the American way today.  We, who are more prosperous than most, find ourselves obligated to give money to those in need.  Organizations like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, thrift stores, and many others have been built around this concept of charity.  In fact, many for-profit organizations have found that they have to give to charity to keep themselves looking positive in the public eye.  So let's do some analysis of this.

In 2005, Americans gave a total of 260.28 BILLION DOLLARS in charity contributions.  In fact, this is not unusual.  There was no boost from Katrina despite all its news, instead it just was a beneficiary.  Americans are very generous, and I have more proof. Within just 1 month of September 11th, Americans gave, to New York alone, over 1 BILLION dollars.  These are massive charitable contributions, even when today we have over 8.4 TRILLION dollars in national debt.

It's interesting to me that people look at these numbers and can even concieve of them as "small".  Therefore, the rest of this post is to explain the actual amount of money that we are dealing with.  Let's start with 1 billion dollars.  This is more money than most of you will ever see in your life.  Let's look at it more detailed.  The vast majority of this country will not make this amount of money if you put together every dollar they've made in their entire lives.  In fact, if you take 500 people's lives, odds are they're combined total income from birth to death will not equal 1 billion dollars.  That's considering the increased income of today.

What about that $260.28 billion?  Well, now that you understand the $1 billion, let's try and concieve of the above, which is just one single year's contribution total.  Let's look at it in more reasonable numbers.  Let's assume that a family of 4 buys about $100 per week in groceries.  In this case, 1 million families could be fed for over 50 years.  That's feeding the entire population of the Kentucky for half of a century, and having food left over!!!  That's a LOT of money!

Now that 8.4 trillion is my favorite of the numbers, because the US government has been trying like crazy to talk it down and find ways to make it sound smaller.  Note, first, that this is only the actual debt.  This is not how much we owe, but how much we owe to other countries after calling in ALL debts owed to us.  This doesn't include how much is owed internally for purchasing things like military technology from companies like Lockheed Martin, or how much is owed assuming we don't call in debts from other countries (who may or may not be able to pay those debts).  What's so fantastic about this number is that most Americans have no idea how big this number is.  So let's try to view things from a more effective perspective.

First, to help analyze this, consider this.  If you were to try to count to 8.4 trillion, you would die first.  In fact, you would die several times over first.  It is so massive that it is hard to percieve, so let's try to examine it differently.  Let's try something everyone can understand, houses.  Let's assume that the average house costs $100,000.  Now, this is somewhat of a low number, but it's close enough for our studies.  So, let's divide this debt into houses.  That's 84,000,000 houses, 84 million!  Ok, so a million's a big number too and that still may not quite be clear.  So let's clarify it further.  Assuming 1 person per house (Yeah RIGHT!!)  if we were to pay off that debt tomorrow, we would make 84 million people homeless, or about 1/3 of the ENTIRE population of the US.  That's right, and consider that I'm lowballing here!  In order to pay off that national debt (again just the excess export debt) we would have to make 1/3 of the entire US population homeless.

Next time we'll study charity from a different angle.


One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation. – Thomas B. Reed (1886)

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. –
P.J. O'Rourke

Monday, June 05, 2006

OK Cupid Political test...

You are a

Social Liberal
(80% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(95% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Costs of Big Government

Now, let's analyze those costs.  The government has been largely successful at a lot of things it does, so lets see if those successes are worth it.

The Federal Reserve's choice to print money has helped us avoid recessions.  The result, however, has been that the value of each dollar has significantly decreased.  This is why you can no longer go buy a turkey for 30 cents for thanksgiving, but now you pay upwards of $15.  Inflation is a very real issue in America today.

The US government's decision to support Israel has been successful.  One thing I didn't mention was that the US government also CREATED Israel.  Essentially, we chopped up the surrounding countries and stuck it in the middle.  It is located in the middle east, surrounded by middle eastern countries.  Strangely, now, those countries support the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.  The cost of life has been largely ignored by the US government who continues to support Israel today.  Also, this is not the only cost.  Moreover, these major oil-producing countries formed an alliance (OPEC) that has drastically raised the cost of oil, and therefore gas, to what it is today.

Now, what about the government's alternative fuel.  With oil running over $70 per barrel today, surely this alternative fuel from coal will be useful.  This is, sadly, not the case.  The liquified coal, when it was originally created, ran $8000 per barrel to produce.  It is still a long way from being worth the money to produce and distribute.

Finally, let us analyze sin taxes and subsidies (taxpayer dollars to support  struggling businesses).  These two are best when combined because we don't have to get too confusing and detailed.

Primarily, subsidies have protected farmers (primarily family farms) from dying out when their product is less wanted, and sin taxes have discouraged the use of tobacco and alcohol.  Now, there are other unwanted effects, but lets examine this on these sole, successful grounds.

The unfortunate result has been that the government's excess taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, force tobacco and hops farmers near bankruptcy, so it takes our tax dollars and uses them to bail the farmers out.  So, you and I end up paying for them to produce a product that isn't selling.  I hope that's enough prove that politicians seem to miss the cost every time.

This ignorance of "unforseen" costs is ignored by politicians who still support these programs today.  The government has chosen to ignore the solution and recreate one through its own beaurocracy which results in further unforseen, unwanted, costs.  Essentially, the government does more than it should.  How much should it do?  We'll get to that soon.

If this isn't enough, and you want more on unforseen costs (or anything you don't understand) just drop a comment or email and I will do my best.


As you increase the cost of the license to practice medicine, you
increase the price at which the medical service must be sold and you
correspondingly decrease the number of people who can afford to buy the
service. – William Pusey, then president of the American Medical Association

When more of the people's sustenance is exacted through the form of
taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of government
and expenses of its economical administration, such exaction becomes
ruthless extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of a
free government. – President Grover Cleveland

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The limitations of Natural Rights

Those three beautiful Rights are very powerful.


None of these three can be lost without hurting another. Nothing can be added without weakening the others. Let's try it.

Health Care

Ok, so if Health Care is a Right, then where do we get the money...oh, from your property. There went property Rights. Let's try something else.


Again we run into the same issue. By guaranteeing food, the government has to pay for it from other people's money therefore violating their property Rights. Now, here's where things get interesting. Let's consider that the government is allowed to tax us to complete its goal of protecting these three Rights. Life, and Liberty, as we examined, come before property for a reason. People will gladly give up property for freedom or their lives. People will often give up freedom and property for their lives. Moreover, people will never give up their lives, except in rare cases desiring Liberty, for anything.

This is why Property is listed last, but adding anything else to the list violates it. Property is the finality of the list of Rights. Anything after it is worthless because it would violate the right to property (or liberty if you remember your last visit to the DMV). In any case, the 3 Natural Rights are a closed circuit. They cannot be added to or changed. This is why they are our ONLY three Rights.


It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve. – Henry George

The whole of the Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals … It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of. – Albert Gallatin (1789)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Big Government's Successes

Understanding the value of free market economics requires a lot of study and analysis. A study of history teaches us a lot of this. Primarily, throughout history, governments have proven themselves successful. Yes, that's what I said, successful.

It is a very real fact that the government can successfully change the economy for the better. However, when it does this, it is always very minute changes.

There are great examples of this. For one, governments have found that, by controlling the printing of money, instead of sticking by a gold standard, they can ensure that recessions are less severe than they would be otherwise.

The Federal Reserve board, the group in charge of the money supply in the US, has worked to control both inflation (rapidly rising prices) and deflation (rapidly falling prices) to avoid recessions. This has been a success on the part of the government.

There are many other examples. The US Government has been remarkably successful in its decision to support Israel. Israel is one of the major players in the Middle East, and by supporting them, we have assured ourselves an outpost in a very dangerous area of conflict.

The US Government has successfully produced an alternative to gasoline, made by liquifying coal. It has also managed to limit the usage of tobacco by its "sin tax."

It has ensured that companies survive and that industries don't break down during times of low revenue through subsidies. It has successfully rebuilt almost every country it has attacked.

Overall, there are a large number of things the US Government, through its place as a larger government, has successfully done. Unfortunately, there is more to the equasion. Next time, we will analyze the costs of these successes and realize an interesting fact that politicians today tend to neglect.


One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation. – Thomas B. Reed (1886)

For more on the Federal Reserve Board and Deflation:

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Collecting our thoughts

Ok, since it's been so long, I'm going to do a recap of the major points touched on and see where we should go next. I have been running a few different directions that will all come together in the end, so I'll break them up for now.

1) First, We established that there are 3 Natural Rights: Life, Liberty, and Property. We then remembered "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" from the Declaration of Independence, and realized that the Constitution was built to restrain the government, not to enable it to expand. Following this, we found that the government only acts in one manner, through force.

We further learned that theft is simply the act of taking without permission and that this can never be justified. We established the importance of the Laffer Curve and the negligence in the concept that higher taxes equal higher revenue. We examined illegality in this area and understood that the only things that should be made illegal are those that are already Natural Rights to be protected. Therefore, our study of Natural Rights fit this one.

2) We studied that a market is the action of buying a good and all the variabilities involved. Then we examined two major economists who are cited as the greatest minds in the industry, Adam Smith and Karl Marx and compared the two though we have yet to clearly define which had a better plan for society. We then examined what Economics have to do with government and that Economics, as the study of people, is exactly what the government needs for its every action.

2) We looked at the "General Welfare" and "Interstate Commerce" clauses in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. We learned that the only power Congress has within that section is to "lay and collect taxes". Through this study we learned that Congress follows a 'strict constructionist view' of the Constitution and the courts are the only ones capable of following a 'living document' approach. Through this continuing study, having cited our founding fathers a lot, we studied what they thought of the Constitution and their views on the size of our government.

We learned that the best government, which is especially true in the United States, is one which governs least. Small government is better than big government. In our beginning to tie this group to the above, we learned that taxation not permitted under our "Social Contract" the US Constitution, is theft. During this time, we studied the purpose of a social contract and its existence in the United States.

In further discussion of the Constitution we fully examined the First Amendment and found that, when broken down, it reads:
Congress shall make no law referring to an establishment of religion.
Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free excercise of religion.
Congress shall make no law lessening the freedom of speech or freedom of the press.
Congress shall make no law lessening the right of the people to peaceably assemble.
Congress shall make no law lessening the right of the people to petition the government to rectify any harm it caused.

We then studied the Second Amendment and learned that, based on a proper reading, the government is violating it. We learned about the ex-post facto clause and bills of attainder and how that portion of the Constitution is also being violated. We hav avoided discussion on whether violating the Constitution in these cases is a good or bad thing as of yet.

We also studied what a politician, or "public servant" is and what "morality" has to do with laws. This is where we will continue next time. Hopefully after that, we will be able to begin further discussion on economics in government and tie these 3 finally into one.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

How many wars are we in right now? I did the math on most of the major ones for you :). Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 13, 2006

Morality in the law

Let's start with the First Amendment here. As we discussed earlier:

Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free excercise of religion.
Congress shall make no law referring to an establishment of religion.

This is where we get the famous line "Separation of Church and State". The argument arises, however, that religion is already deeply ingrained in our laws. People say "You can't make murder illegal without a religion." As we've discussed, this, in the US, is the concept of Natural Rights. I'd like to expand on it myself, but it has been said much better by someone else. I warn you, this podcast is lengthy, so listen to it when you know you have time.


What is so bad about big government? My indictment of big government is that it is bad because it attacks liberty, prosperity, progress, harmony, andmorality . Thanks to big government, we have significantly less of all of those good things than we would if we had been able to keep government right-sized. Big government is cancerous. Like a cancer, it hurts the body and tends to spread, doing more and more harm as it grows. It is time for some radical surgery. – George C. Leef, director of FEE's Freeman Society Discussion Clubs