Gun Control, Patriotism & Civil Disobedience

by Jacob G. Hornberger The State of California recently enacted a law which requires owners of semiautomatic weapons to register their guns with the state. But when the law went into effect, thousands of California gun owners, although risking a felony conviction, refused to comply with its requirements. These gun owners were immediately showered with harsh criticism, not only from their public officials, but from their fellow citizens as well. The critics implied, among other things, that since the law had been passed by the duly elected representatives of the people, the gun owners, as members of society, had a duty to comply with its terms. The controversy raised important issues concerning liberty, property, government, patriotism, and civil disobedience. By adopting the welfare-state, planned-economy way of life in the 20th Century, the American people of our time have abandoned the principles of individual freedom and limited government upon which our nation was founded. But they have also rejected and abandoned something of equal importance: the concept of patriotism which characterized America’s Founding Fathers. Two Different Notions Of Patriotism There have been two different notions of patriotism in American history. The one which characterizes the American people of the 20th Century – the one which is taught in our public schools – is this: patriotism means the support of one’s own government and the actions which the government takes on behalf of the citizenry. The idea is that since we live in a democratic society, the majority should have the political power to take any action it desires. And although those in the minority may not like the laws, they are duty-bound as “good” citizens to obey and support them. The distinguishing characteristic of this type of patriotism is that citizens don’t make independent, personal judgments of the rightness or wrongness …

Jobs For Everyone, Without Minimum Wage Laws

by Mark Tier Some years ago, on a ferry crossing Hong Kong’s harbor (before the communist takeover), I struck up a conversation with a black musician from Seattle, who told me how much he preferred Hong Kong to the States. What impressed him most about Hong Kong was that “everybody has a job!” Each time he repeated this comment his eyes would almost caress the Hong Kong skyline. He spoke as if a place where everyone has a job was alien to his experience, as if he thought of Hong Kong as a fantasy land, a place that simply could not exist on Earth. Back home, he told me, unemployment, especially for blacks, is high. He was also puzzled at the widespread influence of the United States here, and the evident esteem in which his country was held when his personal experiences were quite at variance to this image. Something he definitely did not miss, he said, was his treatment by the Seattle police. Back home, most blacks were poor and therefore, treated badly by the police. Those who appeared to have money weren’t much better off. The police assumed they were drug dealers, and treated them badly too. This man’s sense of despair when discussing his life in Seattle led me to reflect that one reason people turn to drugs is the hopelessness engendered by the impossibility of finding a job. And that happens whenever minimum wage laws bar the unskilled from ever finding a job. A minimum-wage law is simply a form of price control: it prevents anyone from selling his labor below a certain price. Whenever a minimum price is established, some portion of the good or service involved will not find a buyer. Just as the European Community’s establishment of a minimum price for butter has resulted in a …

Privatization: Providing Better Services With Lower Taxes

by Robert Poole, Jr. All around the world, government services and enterprises are being shifted into the private sector via a phenomenon known as privatization. In Britain, nationalized industries such as British Airways and Jaguar have been returned to investor-ownership via stock offerings. Similarly, in Chile, hundreds of firms nationalized by the Allende government have been returned to private ownership. But privatization goes further than simply re-turning once-private firms to the business sector. Margaret Thatcher’s government privatized over 1.5 million council houses – public housing units which were created by the public sector. It also privatized the major airports, the gas utility, and the telephone system – all of which had always been in the public sector. Likewise, the Japanese government is privatizing Nippon Telephone and Japan National Railways, which have been fixtures of the public sector. So in a very real sense, privatization is actually dismantling big government, not merely correcting the excesses of socialist regimes. The Move Toward Privatization Privatization was first identified as a phenomenon in the mid-1970s in the United States when the trend of municipal governments to purchase service from private firms under contract was discussed in Reason magazine. This ultimately led to the creation of the Local Government Center by Mark Frazier and Robert Poole in 1976 – the first think-tank devoted to researching privatization. In the late 1970s, LGC’s materials came to the attention of Ronald Reagan’s speech-writers, several of whom went on to hold White House domestic policy positions and promote privatization within his administration. Also in 1977-79, LGC privatization materials began being used by British local council members John Blundell and Michael Forsythe. This lead to a wave of local-service contracting-out which began at Wandsworth. Inspired by these developments, Eamonn Butler and Madsen Pirie set up the Adam Smith Institute in …

The Labor Theory of Value (an analysis)

by Donald C. Ernsberger edited by Jarret Wollstein At the heart of economic theory is the concept of value. What gives an article value? Is it something inherent in an object, or is it some other factor? Does value derive from human effort, or something else? The two major and fundamentally opposite economic systems – capitalism and Marxism – give completely different answers. The Labor Theory Karl Marx’s labor theory of value asserts that the value of an object is solely a result of the labor expended to produce it. According to this theory, the more labor or labor time that goes into an object, the more it is worth. Marx defined value as “consumed labor time”, and stated that “all goods, considered economically, are only the product of labor and cost nothing except labor”. The labor theory of value is the fundamental premise of Marx’s economics and the basis of his analysis of the free market. If it is correct, then much of Marx’s critique of capitalism is also correct. But if it is false, virtually all of Marx’s economic theory is wrong. Here is an example of how the labor theory of value works: A worker in a factory is given $30 worth of material, and after working 3 hours producing a good, and using $10 worth of fuel to run a machine, he creates a product which is sold for $100. According the Marx, the labor and only the labor of the worker increased the value of the natural materials to $100. The worker is thus justly entitled to a $60 payment, or $20 per hour. If the worker is employed by a factory owner who pays him only $15 per hour, according to Marx the $5 per hour the factory owner receives is simply a ripoff. …