Friday, October 21, 2011

Git Yo Hand Outta My POCKET!

I should be more incredulous at the idea of people telling me who I should and should not offer my money to.  I know two people who are examples of those who seem to think that they know best who should be hired and for what.  When they tell me this, my response should be much more severe than it is.

One person, who we’ll call “Kevin,” thought it was wrong that I might have once hired a person who was, perhaps, not a United States citizen.  I say perhaps because I didn't ask, and I didn't care.  For all I know for certain, he could have been born in Kansas City.  I say that he probably wasn't a US citizen because five things I DO know for certain are that this individual did not speak English, had very, very dark skin, had the square head and jaw of a Mayan warrior, his first name was Heremenegildo, and fifth, he could lay tile like a ceramic-slinging Bruce Lee on amphetamines.

Like I said, based on these five things he probably (almost certainly?) wasn't a citizen, but I didn't bother checking, because again, I didn't care. He did a fantastic job, and I wish I could find him for another.

Another person I know, I'll call him “Mike,” seems to think that it is wrong that I bought a Toyota Tacoma.  Twice.  I don't know for sure, but he seems to think that he has the moral high ground because he bought an American made Ford Diesel truck.  Twice.  I don't know if he is aware that every vehicle I have ever owned has been made by either Toyota or Honda.  He seems to think that we should have a 25% tariff on all goods from China and my Toyota truck should have cost me one hundred thousand dollars.

At the time I hear these things, I know they are wrong, but my response is measured, calculated, and based on superficial grounds.  I made it clear to him that this was rather isolationist, and he eventually agreed, and I got him to admit that in the end, he would be happy if our economy just consisted of dollars, goods and services chasing each other and circulating within the confines of the United States only, with no imports or exports.

That was my response I heard what he thinks I should have paid for my truck, but the proper answer to such a thing is, "What right to you have to tell me that?"

I could go on and on about the practical, but more superficial, reasons why tariffs don't work the way the people who devise them think they will and how they have all kinds of unintended consequences.  I could say that throughout the history of economics this has been the case, and if only I could show him that history, he would see the truth.

But there is a more fundamental reason to argue against tariffs.  Tariffs are fundamentally, morally wrong.  It is not moral to demand a tariff for any product or service, and it is morally corrupt for a government to enforce such a tariff.  You cannot steer people's decisions the way you want.  This is true not just for the practical reason that people tend not to be steered in exactly direction you intend them to go, but because it is ethically wrong to try to steer them in the first place.

It is not right to make people's choices for them.  It is not justified, no matter how good your intentions are, to control people's purchases.  Just because you're doing something that looks a little nicer than pointing a gun in their face and saying, "choose this, or else" doesn't mean you aren't using force to control the economy.  It would be better if you put the gun in their face because at least that would be more honest.

This is a basic, fundamental part of a free economy, because it relates very closely to property rights.  You cannot tell people where they spend their money and how much they spend, because money is property used in exchange for something else.  It is fundamental to a truly free society.  And true economic freedom is not just freedom within a very narrowly, arbitrarily defined box of whatever happens to be made in the United States, or Arizona, or Maricopa County.  Economic freedom is freedom within the whole universe of available choices.  Telling me I have economic freedom to choose within all products made in America is just telling me I have freedom to do whatever I want within four walls of a prison cell.  How big that prison cell is is arbitrary, but it is still a prison.

Don’t get me wrong: I love America, I love being an American, and I DO believe in American exceptionalism.  But I also believe, like Harry Binswanger, that “Buy American” is un-American.

If I have a hole to dig in my back yard, and I choose to hire someone for the job, it is MY job to offer.  Not anyone else's.  Not “Kevin,” not “Mike,” not my nosy next door neighbor, and not the local labor police.  If I choose to give that job to a Mexican national, that is my right as a free human being to do so.  The corollary to that statement is that the Mexican national did not "steal American jobs" by accepting my employment.  The job did not belong to any American in the first place.   It belongs to ME, and I can choose whoever I want and pay whatever I want for it.  Jobs do not exist in outer space ready for the plucking out of the sky, for the taking of whoever feels they have the right to them.  Jobs exist because an employer created them, and has them to offer to whomever will accept the terms, and if such a condition exists, both parties mutually benefit, and are grateful for it.  No one has the right to claim the job as theirs until the agreement is mutual.

For someone else to disapprove of my choice of cars and to attempt to arbitrate the decision through tariffs, i.e. the use of government force, is to be the nosy next door neighbor, who is unhappy with my choice of hole digger, because he thinks I should have given it to the American, not the Mexican.  The government and the neighbor are outsiders.  They are third parties who have no right to tell me who I hire because it is my property to make what choices I see fit, whether I choose to do it myself, hire an American, a Mexican, a purple dinosaur from Mars, or even to not dig the hole at all.  This is no different than choosing a Japanese auto worker to make my truck for me over a UAW laborer at Ford.

Anyone who took the time to think about what would happen if the US shut down all of its importing and exporting operations and who knew anything at all about economics would realize that is a bad, bad idea.  There are too many things that people have outside the US that are beneficial to us, that cannot be made, grown, or mined in this country, and not at the same cost.  Further, there are too many things we make here and sell overseas that provide a living to Americans.  To think that we can shut this off and put a wall around the US is simply short sighted and naive.  “Mike” seems to think that this would make Ford Motor Company better off, and the US would be better for it as well.

Anyone who employed just a moderate amount of thought should see this, but these are superficial grounds.  The fundamentals are more important to understand, and once you grasp them, it is much easier to choose your values.  I value freedom.  I value prosperity.  Therefore, I value a dynamic, global market economy full of people doing what they do best, trading that thing with all others, to the benefit of all.

Cue music.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

OWS Is It's Own Monty Python Movie

Glenn Reynolds has a good post about the postmodern left, Occupy Wall Street, anti-Columbus nonsense, anti-colonialism, and pure, visceral hatred of the United States.

Anti-colonialism is central to postmodern Leftism.
The OWS effort is essentially postmodernist. (The Dems think they can exploit them; Obama is one of them.)
The postmodern Left sees the Israelis as Jewish interlopers from Europe who stole the land from peace-loving Arabs just as Columbus stole the USA from peace-loving Indians. (And Arabs and Indians also had sustainable economies that were replaced with evil free-markets!)
The postmodern left’s presuppositions are bad and their facts wrong. Lets set the record straight and unpack a few of them:
1 – So called indigenous peoples all over the world are better off under our system – as a result of colonialism – and in our culture then they ever were or ever could have been under their own. They all have longer healthier more prosperous lives.
2 – Jews are not interlopers and have lived in the Holy Land continuously for thousands of years. Very few Arabs had ever settled there.
3 – The so-called al aksa Mosque cannot possibly be the one in the Koran; it was built years after Mohamed died; it was dubbed the al aksa mosque by a Turk who was forbidden entrance to Mecca and needed another place to make a pilgrimage to.
4 – Arabs are the interlopers in the Holy Land and North Africa.
5 – The Crusades were a counter-offensive and not an offensive; they were waged to expel the invader and not to invade.

To me it's all just like a Monty Python Script:

"...apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the [Americans] done for US?"

So compare this:

To this:

Howard Stern clip via Breitbart.

This one is ripe for mockery too but don't watch it unless you are in the mood to loathe humanity:

Friday, October 14, 2011

MTB Strength Training Systems, Grand Junction, CO.

I can’t say enough about James Wilson and everyone at MTB Strength Training Systems. I drove up to that area this weekend to ride some of the local trails and to check out James’ first ever skills clinic.  I got a personal run-down on my strengths and weaknesses in my physical conditioning and as a mountain biker.    

I've always thought that in order to have good skills in any sport you have to be strong, and that’s why I have always used weightlifting to get better at whatever I do, even before I was a mountain biker.  It just so happens that strength training is the foundation of Wilson’s system. 

James is a fitness professional, and knows his business.  He knows the basics of training for any sport.  He has even posted about this in the past.  But he also thinks for himself.  When it came to his own sport and he realized that there was no good weight training program available for mountain bikers, he knew that there was a hole to fill and he has done that. 

On top of the excellent training for physical strength, though, James’ skills coaching is very good.  This is because his workouts are designed to replicate movements that must be used on the bike, and he bases his bike skills coaching on body movements and strength that is developed in the gym in the first place.  Everything is interrelated.    James explains skills in terms of basic, bare bones fundamentals, but on top of those, he will give you the correct coaching cues to pull off a move.  If you're like me, you will have new abilities simply due to his explanation of them.  This after many, many failed attempts prior to setting foot in the MTB STS facilty.

Everyone at the facility is good at what they do, generous, and accommodating. But for all of this, of course, it wasn't magical. I’m not a better rider over night.  I just learned about ALL the work I have to do to get there on my own.  That’s all you need a coach for, and it was worth the trip.