Dec 11

ITUC Global Rights Index report

I just came across a recent post on Washington’s Blog discussing an ITUC report on workers rights. The stated purpose of the ITUC report is as follows:

The ITUC Global Rights Index ranks 139 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected, in law and in practice.

Hmmm, call me suspicious.

First of all, why subtitle the report “The worlds worst countries for workers“? Why not just “World rankings for workers“? Do we have an agenda, perhaps? ITUC stands for International Trade Union Confederation. Maybe by some miracle a trade union organization managed to remain unbiased in a report that affects workers rights. Sure it did.

Who runs ITUC? Well, take a look at the bio on Joao Felicio. Wow, a good old fashioned Marxist.

Well, what matters is the report! The very first line of said report has this:

The guarantee of the free exercise of workers’ rights is also a guarantee of a more equal and a more prosperous society

I think there are a few economists in the world who would question whether a more equal society is a more prosperous society. But wait. What is meant here by “equal”? I doubt we are talking about equality of opportunity. But it’s interesting that leftist papers use the word “equality” all the time without specifying the meaning. What can we do but assume that the intent is one of equality of outcome? So, how can equality of outcome be achieved in a world where incomes overall are increasing but so is the wage gap? The only way to do that is with force: to take from some, by force, and give to others.

The next sentence in the paper is this:

When workers enjoy the freedom of a collective voice, can bargain for safe workplaces and fair wages and conditions and are free from discrimination then productivity and economic growth can flourish

I guess the first obvious question here is this: what is preventing workers from doing these things? Put another way: what is it that necessitates the need for government force in enabling a worker in these activities? Well, why don’t we take a look at another ITUC article on that subject. Well, that doesn’t till us much, except to hint that ITUC is looking to the government for solutions. Let’s take a look at this Upenn article instead, whose first sentence reads:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s success in attracting investments to the state of Gujarat, where he was chief minister, was largely due to labor law reforms.

 

Wait, what?! I thought ITUC wanted to help workers? I guess by “help” ITUC means chase business out of countries, taking jobs with them. In that article, a trade union rep states:

They will be without any protection and, given the current unemployment situation in the country, the workers will become slaves of the contractors and employers

 

Slaves you say. I don’t recall reading about how slaves voluntarily surrendered their labor in exchange for payment. Another statement from the ITUC document:

The methodology is grounded in standards of fundamental rights at work, in particular the right to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike. These rights are based on international human rights law which we have spelled out in the form of 97 indicators.

Notice the wordsmithing here. ITUC states these are “fundamental human rights”. It is the “fundamental” right of one group (unions) to ask another group (government) to force at gunpoint a third group (business) to allow a fourth group (workers), to demand something that that business is unwilling to give them voluntarily. Where are the natural and fundamental rights of business here? No, we can’t have any this “voluntary negotiation” nonsense. Bring out the guns.

So let’s get to the meat of this report. Basically, the format, as near as I can tell, was this:

Input is taken from there sources:

  1. Analysis of national laws
  2. Reports from 325 union centers
  3. A survey

I assume #1 is more specifically “analysis of labor laws”. In other words, things like expecting to continue getting paid despite refusing to work, that is, until demands are met. But is this how reasonable people behave? When a person seeks employment and comes to an agreement, is this not a voluntary action? Are unhappy employees not free to leave and seek employment elsewhere?

#2 seems a bit unfair. ITUC uses input from union centers in order to determine if union action is necessary?

#3, the survey, I can’t figure out. If you follow the link, it appears to simply be a summary of complaints regarding labor law. Silly me, I thought the survey would be something targeted to workers. Instead, it appears to be more of #1 and #2. So all of this boils down to input from those who make their living as union representatives, with a focus on how much government is involved.

Next, the steps to completing the report are:

  1. Surveyed information is coded against 97 indicators
  2. Coded violations are summed up
  3. Rating from 1-5 assigned to country

So who actually fills out these surveys? If you read the survey, they sure aren’t responses from the proletariat. You can read the report yourself, but it appears to me that the entirety of this report is aggregated from information supplied by people employed in the business of unions. I really don’t see anything at all from either the perspective of workers (and certainly not non-union workers), business, economists, etc. And yet I’m supposed to believe this report represents the following: The worlds worst countries for workers.

No, instead I think the title should be “The worlds best countries for trade union representatives”. Or perhaps “What would Karl Marx do”.

 

Dec 06

CFL vs LED vs Incandescent light bulbs

I normally wouldn’t take the time to write about something as relatively trivial as this. Kind of seems petty when the same people that are shoving new light bulb technology down our throats are also killing innocent people with drones. But this particular legislation hits home. Additionally I’m truly amazed by the thickness of the propaganda. I can see with my own eyes that the information published about these light bulbs are packed with lies. My own personal experience is that incandescent light bulbs produce better light and last longer than CFL’s. Do the people who write the articles that claim otherwise live in homes lit with candles? Can they not see for themselves?

No, the reason all the articles you see from mainstream sources make these statements is that they know they must go along with the status quo. They navigate their browsers out to energy.gov and base all their articles on the lies there in. These are what Murray Rothbard called the “opinion molders” (Anatomy of the state). Of course, odds are that an article on the topic of light bulbs is not written by an official “opinion molder” but instead one of the hoards of toadies.

So, I had been meaning for some time to attempt to find some truth on the matter. I knew before I started I would have to dig to get at it: that an initial google search would turn up the same old blather from sights such as USA Today and Forbes. My initial searches didn’t turn up much: “truth cfl vs incandescent”. I chose one of the articles on page one claiming to get at the truth from the Chicago Tribune. I chose an article from 2011 on purpose, as I wanted to review that time period before the incandescent ban was in full affect and the debate was just getting started. The article makes the typical claims: CFL’s save money. The problem with this statement is that it is based on the claims that CFL’s last ten times longer than incandescents. As I said, my own experience is that CFL’s, AT BEST, last no longer than incandescents. However the result is a boat load more money for the vested interests of the companies that lobbied for the legislation.

Anyway, I have no intention of spending hours digging into this. I knew if I kept searching I’d find someone who already has.

By the way, I think one of the most ironic things about this whole topic is this: I personally am old school. I hate having lights on for no reason. The result: lights in our house get turned on and off frequently so our CFL’s burn out quickly.

Look, it’s easy to see what happened here. Big light bulb companies margins were tight, so they lobbied government to ban cheap bulbs. Government officials simply believed what these companies told them. After all, they are the “experts”. Legions of opinion molders and their toadies naturally went along. Of course the whole “green” crowd went along. And of course we the people get screwed.

Nov 26

Wilson, Brown, Ferguson

Just read Jacob Sullum’s take, over at reason.com, on ferguson. So I want to get this straight. Mr. Sullum is a-ok with the police action in this case. So anytime a non-blue-uniformed person shows aggression toward a blue-uniformed person, then tries to leave the scene, the blue-uniformed person can shoot to kill the unarmed non-blue-uniformed person? Somehow I doubt I would get away with this in, say, a bar room fight. While I’m not totally surprised by the outcome, what pisses me off is that this shows a high level of incompetence and disregard for life. There is NO OTHER way this could have been handled other than emptying his revolver? Really? Of course, Wilson is still getting his paid vacation over this. Where else but the public sector can you get a paid vacation over a blatant display of incompetence? The public blindly accept this as a necessary part of police “protection”. I would like to take a poll with the following multiple choice question:

  1. Regarding the police service you have encountered, please choose among the following:
  2. I have had situations in my life where the police force has protected me from harm.
  3. I’ve never had a situation where I’ve been protected by police since I’ve never been in that situation.
  4. I have felt unnecessarily harassed in situations with the police
  5. I have been unnecessarily beaten, shot at, etc in situations with the police

# 3 for me, and I suspect many others. Michael Brown can’t answer with #4 can he? How often would anyone answer #1? Frankly I don’t think much would happen if we eliminated the public police force, other than more guns being purchased and a flourishing private protection business sector (which would be staffed by personnel held accountable for their actions).

On another note, what sort of human psychological analysis explains looting private businesses when a government official has wronged you? Somehow I think there is more at work here other than concern for Michael Brown or the competence of the police force. After all, what do businesses that serve the publics interest have to do with the police? Is this just confusion on the part of the citizens of Ferguson? Or is it just anger lashing out in every direction? I suspect it is confusion on some level, that being the inability to tell the difference between “us” and “the system”, lumping the police and anyone else who’s successful in some way. But in my mind there’s a huge difference between a successful shop owner and the police. And that difference is simply the shop owner has provided a service that people value. We know this because they voluntarily paid for the service. Our public police for is funded by taxation, which causes a host of problems. One, there is no way to know if the service provided is valuable in relation to the forced taxation. Two, the service is a monopoly, which economics 101 teaches us leads to poor service at higher costs.

Until the general public sees the economic aspects of monopolist, forced taxation, public services, this sort of thing will continue. Somehow I don’t think that the citizens of Ferguson are thinking in this direction. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t really appear to me that the pseudo-libertarian news sight Reason, thinks that way either.

Nov 22

More proof: public education is a nightmare

What would happen to an employee who worked at a private gym who did this to a student who refused to go in the pool? For those of you who didn’t follow the link, it documents a gym teacher at a Stockton, CA public school dragging a student into the pool. Let’s say Mr. Peterson, the teacher in this case, worked at 24 Hour Fitness, a private gym in the Stockton, and did that to a student. I don’t think the gym would have any choice but to fire Mr. Peterson. If you owned the gym, would you keep the guy on while a lawsuit was being filed against Mr. Peterson and your gym?

So what did the public school do in this case? They put Mr. Peterson on PAID leave. That’s right. He got a extra month of vacation. But don’t worry, cuz, you see, it’s school policy, so it’s ok:

This is the district’s response to the incident, the video and the punishment of Peterson: “SUSD has taken appropriate action in this case. The teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave per district policy.”

This is what happens when government injects itself into a service and forms a monopoly. You will always get poor service at a high price. And, as demonstrated in this case, the price isn’t always monetary.

Of course, this isn’t the only example of this type of behavior. This kind of thing goes on all the time. In Winter Haven, FL, the principal thought it would be a good idea to have the police enter classrooms on an unannounced active shooter drill. At a Middle School. Excellent. At least in Florida there are limited tenure laws, so the suspension was possible. Apparently the school board in this case wasn’t filled with the principals weekend golf buddies. Of course suspension leaves the principal in a position to take a job at another school. Additionally, the morons at this school still think it’s a good idea to routinely put the school on lockdown. They apparently just can’t go around waving AR-15’s.

This is not the proper way to deal with problem schools who may harbor students with a history of violence. The proper way to do that is to suspend those students and encourage the remaining students to do what is necessary to help create a strong learning environment.

Nov 20

The future of education

Whenever I see a post on the subject of education, I tend to get my feathers ruffled a bit. In fact, there are only three subjects that I think are the key to the liberty movement: war, money (the fed) and education. And I think it could be argued that education is the key to it all.

So, after reading a post over at EPJ discussing Marc Andreessen’s ideas on education, what started as a reply to the comment by averros turned into this post:

I’m not sure it’s relevant whether an army of online James Camerons will make learning general relativity easier. Who needs to know general relativity? Would a child motivated in this direction necessarily need Cameron? On the other hand, would it hurt?

Education today is flawed in many ways.  First of all, it starts with the idea that we should build knowledge from a fixed curriculum. This is wrong. It leads to central planning. Education should be the natural outcome of exploration by individuals. You should not have it as a goal to “become educated”. The goal should be to figure out how and where you want to plug yourself into the world. Education is something that is a natural fallout of that. Why on earth do we teach math every day & year to kids, trying to build the knowledge up as if it’s some impossible task that could only be accomplished if we attack it every day? I doubt any kid on earth would fail to learn basic math even if they never took a “class”. If at some point, a childs interest moves in a direction of math/science/tech, then they’d have no choice to advance beyond that. A smart, motivated child can learn what they need to know very quickly. The way math is taught today, it’s as if teachers think they must cover every single topic or they’ll NEVER be able to learn it. It’s an arrogant position on the part of teachers. The result is so much waisted time covering irrelevant topics. My trade is computer software. How much did trigonometry and calculus help me? Well,  other than the exercise of my brain, which would occur more naturally thru voluntary exploration.

Additionally, I think the natural fallout of this would be the elimination of the idea that there is a specific period of time in a persons life that “education” happens. This is utterly wrong. There should be no such period of time. Life happens. Education just goes along for the ride. No parent or child should be told they have to “go to school”. For example, if a five year old child is wildly interested in his fathers business as some kind of manufacturer, why couldn’t that father set something up at this business that provided both care for, and a learning environment, for not only his child but other employees? What if some of the kids that go thru this system turn out to be highly talented in some position at the company? Why couldn’t they start to work part time in that position at any age that is natural?

I think I’m essentially agreeing with the comment post from averros. Get kids plugged into the real world. There was a lot of value in the old idea of apprenticeships. Leftists and central planning destroyed it. Hell, progressives want to destroy the last vestige of that great idea! I want to see that come back. Centrally planned education should be eliminated completely.

Nobody can predict exactly what it would look like if these ideas were implemented. It doesn’t matter. Those of us who believe in freedom, voluntary action and the human spirit know that it would be much better than what we have today.

The education revolution is just getting started. I’m always amazed by how much negative talk results from discussing these ideas. “It can’t work!” (and here’s a hundred reasons why). The “online” education part of this revolution would only be one part of it. It makes no sense to say “It can’t work” when you have no idea what the solution would look like.

But, but, but….

Unfortunately, I think it’s just as likely that the state will see what’s happening, and like the proverbial mayor jumping in front of and leading the town parade, will pass some “legislation” so they can not only take credit for it, but take control of it.  Freedom isn’t free, and from what I can see, I really don’t think most people have what it takes to make any sweeping changes. Every day there are stories about central planners mucking up the world and those hurt by it doing nothing but complain. If you want your freedom, you need to earn it. Until, for example, parents of students in the current education system are willing to take drastic steps, such as refusing to pay property taxes, nothing is going to change.

Nov 11

What is personal protection worth to you?

If you add up the total costs of the protection you get from the federal military/agents, state and local police, what do you think the costs would be? We don’t need exact figures, so let’s take a quick stab at it:

If I distribute these figures across the tax base, my “personal protection” bill for 2014 was $8,681. This is based on the number of federal tax returns of 122 million, state 6.2 million and local 28 thousand. This breaks down to $8,196 for federal, $371 for state and $114 for local.

I know it’s difficult for most people to even think about the question “How much would you pay for this service?”.  But for me personally, I don’t feel any protection at all from this federal money. Zero, zilch. In fact, if anything, I’m quite certain I’m in more danger because of it. But I’m an anarchist, so I’m not sure I count for much. But what would the average American household contribute?

I don’t know, but I’m betting it would be a lot less than $8 grand, especially given that they’ve accomplished less than zero since at least WW 2. But that isn’t the way the system works is it? Instead, they take our tax money, use it to drive fear into us, stir up hornets nests around the world, and then volunteer (well, pay mostly poor people to volunteer) to clean it up.

But what choice do we have, you say? If you’re thinking that way, then you simply can’t imaging an alternative because the power elite has had it locked down this way for thousands of years. Stick around this site – there are alternatives.

 

Nov 10

Why the Federal Reserve won’t die easily

The essence of the problem with the federal reserve is that it is strongly supported by both the Wall Street elite and the Washington, D.C. power elite. Add to this the problem that most people have no clue about the institution other than what they’ve been told (by the same rich powerful interests already mentioned). How can you kill something like that? Personally, I don’t see it happening. Not in my lifetime. No matter how many Ron Pauls, Lew Rockwells, Tom Woods or David Stockmans there are, it’s not happening in my lifetime. Considering the same problem has been around since the days of Rome, why would I be so ignorant to believe that this could happen? Well, not exactly the same. The fed has got it down to a science. Always one step ahead of the masses.

So it comes down to this. The federal reserve allows governments to spend excessively while at the same time giving Wall Street connections counterfeiting authority. If our government was taken over by the mafia while at the same time convincing most of the citizenry that this was absolutely necessary, do you think there’s any chance of breaking that up?

Sit back, relax, and wait for the collapse.

Nov 09

Myth of the Rule of Law – mind blowing

I have to give credit to Tom Woods for introducing me to John Hasnas, who authored The Myth of the Rule of Law in 1995. The interview with Woods is good, but you really need to read the original article. It has to be one of the more profound things I’ve read in awhile. Reminds me of my first reads from Hans Herman Hoppe. I was already more or less convinced that the way toward a happier human collective was to break up the monopoly of government, but this article was a final nail in the (government) coffin.

I won’t go into it much here. You should read it yourself. Suffice it to say not much has really changed when it comes to organized human society in at least 2000 years. It’s laughable that people actually think we have dramatically advanced since the days of czars, kings and monarchs.

Nov 02

E.U. vs U.S. Civil War

Lincoln seemed to be, frankly, hell bent on keeping the young Union together. His words would seem to indicate that he felt the world would come to an end if the Union broke in two. Some examples:

If all do not join now to save the good old ship of the Union this voyage nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.

 

Plainly, the central idea of secession, is the essence of anarchy.

 

You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect, and defend it.

 

Breaking the union between North and South would “destroy the government”? Does that even remotely come close to making any sense at all? The idea is silly on the face of it. What possible scenario would bring this destruction about? Lincoln doesn’t say. We must simply trust honest Abe (and his apparently magical powers to see that which nobody else can see).

Unfortunately, this generalized rhetoric leaves us only guessing. This is exactly as Lincoln would have it. Better to appear mystical when you have absolutely zero facts on your side. And now, over 200 years later, supporters of Lincoln and the necessity of the Civil War don’t make any attempt to answer the question. (better to remain mystical, etc, etc).

Here’s a question. Why don’t the Merkel and Cameron’s of the world make Lincolnian claims in their own justifications of the E.U? Why, ol’ Abe made it perfectly clear it’s A-Ok to start a war that results in the death of at least 600,000!  Surely the E.U. will soon be destroyed if they don’t take steps!

Well of course, unfortunately for those future oligarchs, the timing was wrong. Abe got lucky. The original states formed prior, and across, a division that came later. Europe doesn’t have that benefit. Of course, they could fake it. Politicians are good at that. Maybe play on the word “Europe” which, after all, is a single word describing all our little states! Perhaps they could split between North and South and increase their chances of death and mayhem. Or hark back to the days of Napoleon or the British empire as a start.

Or maybe the problem is that Europe simply doesn’t have their “Lincoln” yet. They just need to await the birth of the next Evil Masquerading Behind Good Intentions.

 

Oct 22

McDonald’s financial woes

McDonald’s is apparently having some financial issues. I’m not surprised. Large businesses tend to eventually collapse under their own weight. There’s no getting around it. Yes, to an extent, strong leadership can stem the tide, but eventually it has to come to an end.

I’ve been working for large businesses for 30 years and I think I have some idea why this happens, or at least a major reason why. First, no matter what management tells it’s employees, they aren’t what makes the business run. Leadership is what makes the business run. With that in mind, you can’t find enough leadership talent to run a business the size of McDonald’s. And, because of that, you get a lot of pretenders. I’ve seen this so often, it kinda makes me ill. These are guys who talk the talk, they are busy as a bee, and they look the part (or try to). On the surface, what they do looks good, but it doesn’t amount to shit. Eventually, you get so many incompetent employees and managers, it’s hard to separate out the wheat from the chaff.

Sounds pretty depressing but it’s actually a good thing. McDonald’s will eventually struggle to serve the public, or at least comparatively. It goes away and something better takes it’s place. Newer, younger management gets a crack at it. Life for the majority gets better at the expense of some McDonald’s employees. The good ones will get snapped up in the job market and often the good ones have already left.

It’s the circle of life. Don’t sweat it.