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Posts tagged as “Role of government”

AirTran Subsidy Remarks

Following are remarks I am delivering to several groups, including the Wichita City Council, in April 2005.

Why government spending is (mostly) bad

Government spending replaces the judgment of the market with the judgment of politicians. The judgment of the market refers to the billions of decisions that we collectively make each day, decisions that we freely make, that we believe will advance our self-interest. That is to say, the market is characterized by mutual agreement and voluntary consent.

The Law by Frederic Bastiat

About a year ago I became acquainted with the writings of the economist Walter E. Williams. After reading his foreword to this book, I understand -- as Williams says himself -- how important Bastiat's writings are. As Williams says:

Reading Bastiat made me keenly aware of all the time wasted, along with the frustrations of going down one blind alley after another, organizing my philosophy of life. The Law did not produce a philosophical conversion for me as much as it created order in my thinking about liberty and just human conduct.

And then this:

...Bastiat's greatest contribution is that he took the discourse out of the ivory tower and made ideas on liberty so clear that even the unlettered can understand them and statists cannot obfuscate them. Clarity is crucial to persuading our fellowman of the moral superiority of personal liberty.

I am tempted to repeat in full Dr. Williams's foreword, but you would do well to read it yourself.

The Law is a book about liberty and justice. One of the most important things I learned from reading this book is that the proper function of the law is not to create justice, but to prevent injustice. This makes the laws we should have quite simple. Instead of deciding how much to take from us in the form of taxes (plunder) and how to distribute it, laws should protect us from plunder.

End Corporate Welfare, Starting with Industrial Revenue Bonds

"While corporate welfare has attracted critics from both the left and the right, there is no uniform definition. By TIME's definition, it is this: any action by local, state or federal government that gives a corporation or an entire industry a benefit not offered to others. It can be an outright subsidy, a grant, real estate, a low-interest loan or a government service. It can also be a tax break -- a credit, exemption, deferral or deduction, or a tax rate lower than the one others pay." (Time Magazine, Nov. 9, 1998)

States and localities aggressively compete with each other to see which can put together the grandest package of benefits to induce companies to locate there. Or, as becoming increasingly common, a company threatens to move away from a city or state unless it receives incentives. Often these incentives are given in the form of industrial revenue bonds. IRB supporters are quick to remind citizens that the local government is merely helping the company to borrow the money -- it is not giving the bond money to the company. Therefore, it doesn't really cost the taxpayers to offer these IRBs.

Vioxx and personal liberty

A recent column by Thomas Sowell titled Free lunch 'safety': Part II (a link to part one is here) started with this paragraph:

"The government will allow you to risk your life for the sake of recreation by sky-diving, mountain climbing or any number of other dangerous activities. But it will not allow you to risk your life for the sake of avoiding arthritis pain by taking Vioxx."

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