Category Archives: technology

Milton Friedman: The Role of Government in a Free Society (Q&A)

A classic.  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of coercion and how government is the antithesis of liberty, pay close attention to the first question and Milton’s response.  You can replace the FCC in his remarks with any number of government agencies (FDA, USDA, EPA, IRS, etc.)

Also very interesting for Christians that support using the State to try and coerce righteousness out of sinners, not unlike the Spanish Inquisition.

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Liberty and Science

If you’re a Libertarian like me, there are many predictable objections you’ll hear repeatedly from critics on why government MUST exist. As I’ve written previously, I don’t have a concrete plan for the world which is exactly WHY I favor Liberty vs. Coercion. However, allowing people to make decisions free from Government control makes some people nervous or others downright crazy.

To be sure, there are different flavors of Libertarianism from Anarchy, Minarchism, Voluntaryism, and Anarcho-Capitalism to name a few.

Aside from roads, schools, and bigger global police forces, one area of concern from some fence-sitters is Science. There are pockets of people out there that want smaller, less intrusive government, but one of their hang ups is the idea that without government, who would fund scientific research? Without the government taking, aggregating and distributing tax payer money to funnel billions of dollars into medical, astrophysical, climatic, or genetic research, mankind would suffer terrible intellectual atrophy.

If this is you, Libertarianism.org recently hosted a podcast entitled “Science Doesn’t Need Public Funding” which I would highly recommend. Terence Kealey, the Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Buckingham, brilliantly puts some of the most common (and some fairly uncommon) aspects of these fears on the table and examines them.

As I’ve said time and again, I believe strongly that the Market is THE BEST mechanism by which the needs of society can be met because the Market forces us to produce better, more efficient and inexpensive technologies every single day. The Market’s appetite for Innovation is insatiable and constantly pushes progress forward, even before the idea of Progress was ever coined.

While I was listening to this podcast, I was reminded of the CEO of Google, Larry Page, sharing his desire to give all of his billions of dollars of inheritance to Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, rather than charity if he were to pass. Some critics, I’m sure, balked at Page and labeled him as a greedy corporatist, but if you read his comments, his desire is to support innovative thinkers like Musk to the benefit of Mankind.

One point that Kealey makes on the podcast which I want to emphasize is that from a % basis, US public funding in the name of scientific research is a drop in the bucket compared to the massive amounts of spending on things like Social Security, Medicare / Medicaid, and Defense. However, the symbolic and ideological notion that science cannot exist without Government-forced funding is what’s critical to debunk. In doing so, I’m hoping more fence-sitters with leaning toward smaller government will finally take the bold step of embracing life without a coercive oppressor.

Stay down

This keeps getting better and better.  Following up from my last post – Take down bad companies like Spirit Airlines through Free Markets, not government coercion:

Have you ever been in a fight and your friends keep telling you to stay down, but you keep getting back up because you’re dumb?  Yeah, someone needs to tell the Spirit Auto Pilot that he keeps putting his metallic foot in his hinged mouth.

Take down bad companies like Spirit Airlines through Free Markets, not government coercion

My wife and eldest daughter are on a trip to NYC to visit family for the weekend. I went online and did a search for tickets from DFW to NY. Spirit Airlines was the lowest price and offered convenient times to travel, so I booked online about a month ago.

We’ve never flown Spirit Airlines, but I figured for a short trip, how back could it be? I’ve come to expect paying to check a bag since most of the major airlines adopted the same practice. So, I was factoring in another $50 for each leg of the trip.

That’s when a friend warned us to pay for the checked bag online prior to ticketing.

Apparently, Spirit charges $30 a bag if paid before online check-in, $40 a bag during online check-in, $45 a bag at the airport, and $100 a bag at the gate.

I’ll just carry on my bag, you say?  Anything larger than 16”x14”x12” costs you $35 if paid before online check-in, $45 a bag during online check-in, $50 a bag at the airport, and $100 a bag at the gate

Oh, but that’s not all. If you want to reserve an actual seat assignment, it can cost you $1 to $50 per seat each way. So if you are traveling with a minor and you want to guarantee a seat next to her, that’s up to $200 round trip for 2. (Our seats cost us $40.)

Want more legroom? Well, those Big Front Seats can run you upwards of $199.

Have an issue and want to speak to a live agent on the phone? That’s another $25.

After an additional $120 in fees AFTER the price of the airfare, we were all set.

Except that when my wife landed, she texted me that her luggage didn’t arrive. Wasn’t going to for another 24hrs.

This was a 7:30 AM flight. Not possible to get baggage until the next day.

Unbelievable.

So naturally, I started to look for Spirit’s Customer Service line. They don’t make it easy to find on their website. It’s buried under a number of firewalls of automated FAQs that had nothing to do with my complaint.

After 30 minutes listening to hold music, I gave up. The thought of having to pay an additional $25 to speak to a person was nauseating.

So, I took to Social Media. Looked up Facebook. They are nowhere to be found.

They have a Twitter account which is apparently run by 1960’s looking robot drones.


I started tweeting –

Apparently, this particular tweet caught their attention.  And this dialogue took place.

Still no word on where my wife’s bag is or whether I’m going to get a refund on my $80 in baggage fees for no baggage.

But here’s the thing – some Statists might start to cry for more regulation or oversight, stiffer fines against poorly run companies like Spirit Airlines, or regulation of fees that companies can charge. Ultimately, these measures only hurt the Consumer because bad businesses are allowed to continue — maybe in a more restrictive capacity, but many can still stay between the lines.

The BEST solution to poor business practices, customer service, or excessive fees is to 1) spread the word about how terrible some businesses are and 2) stop giving them your business. The Market will ultimately see to their demise.

Even in the 24th Century, Private Property and Wars Will Still Remain

Been incredibly busy with work and family matters, and I know I promised a post on whether Results Matter or Not which will be forthcoming. But in the meantime, here’s a quick thought I had while watching re-runs of Star Trek the Next Generation.

Many TNG fans love the fact that there’s no money anymore in the 24th Century. Thanks to the replicator, pretty much anything can be produced by converting energy into matter. Fans look to this as the model of the future where war and disease and hunger and greed will disappear from the universe. This is also the mirage that Socialists are chasing after in the desert.

Unfortunately, even with unlimited replication, human nature defies the eradication of these cancers. Gene Roddenberry couldn’t simply write them out of existence.

Take for example, episode 22 of Season 3 – The Most Toys. Kivas Fajo is a trader of rare and one-of-a-kind items – a Collector, if you will. In this episode, he goes to great lengths to kidnap Data. Why? Because he’s one of a kind.

There doesn’t have to be “money” in order to have Greed or Covetousness. King David had all the wealth of Israel under his command. And yet, he still coveted Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. David sent Uriah to his death to hide the fact that took Bathsheba as his own.

Scarcity is the fundamental constant of the economic universe whether we’re talking about sentient androids, food, shelter, gold, time, or relationships. As a libertarian, I abhor violence and war. I think most rational people, given the choice, will see that voluntary exchange and cooperation creates Win-Win scenarios for everybody. But as a Christian, I know that men have a sinful, selfish nature. This is why they will murder and steal and lie to take that which is not theirs. Our aim should be to promote peace and cooperation, but don’t think for one minute that simply taking away Money or Private Property will magically remove Greed.