Heavy Lifting - thoughts and web finds by an economist
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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Welcome to the F.U.S.A.

Given some of the recent Supreme Court and Congressional decisions, you might wonder where we are living these days. In particular, private property is on its way out. Your property is only yours as long as the government doesn't need it for "job creation and tax revenue" !!

Must reads from the past weeks:

  • Gonzales v. Raich: Medical Marijuana

  • Kelo v. New London: Eminent Domain

  • And our Congressional brainchild, the flag-burning amendment: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." (Proposed "flag burning" amendment passed U.S. House June 22, 2005)

    People who know me know that I am not in favor of burning flags. However, it is not the government's role to tell us what we can and can't do with our private property - which a flag becomes as soon as I buy it from the Dollar Tree who paid a Chinese worker to produce the thing in the first place. We don't have the right to not have our feelings hurt, and changing the Constitution isn't gonna help. Cheap political ploy - it has been in the past - but one of these days it's gonna pass the Senate and then watch out.

    In my small-brain way of keeping track of 'isms' I go with the following short-cuts:

  • Communism: no private property, means of production and distribution of production totally controlled by government. [No private property, period. The worst of all worlds]

  • Socialism: minor private property, means of production and distribution of production controlled by government. [Government can steal minor private property, generally there is no freedom to accummulate property.]

  • Fascism: private property allowed, minor means of production owned by private individuals, major production owned/controlled by state, choice of what is produced and distribution controlled by government. [Government tells private property owners what to do with their private property]

  • Capitalism: private property allowed, most means of production owned by private individuals, government regulation influences what is produced, distribution generally decided by market. [Where we are/were in this country. A second best world but better than the other three possibilities]

  • Laissez Faire: private property predominant, government involved in national defense, contract disputes? [Perhaps only feasible in a small society, probably not feasible in today's second-best world]

    In my mind, we started at Laissez Faire, made it through Capitalism, are now knocking on the door of fascism, and perhaps on our way to the other ism's.

    (More over at Division of Labour)

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