Sunday, September 30, 2007

Understanding Government: Taxes

Government needs money to fund its activities. It obtains this money through taxation.

Taxation is the act of the government taking money or other goods by force. It is possible because of the government's near monopoly on force. Taxation, and the activities funded by it, necessarily depend on coercion. Taxation is theft, but unlike private theft, it is legal.

Taxation is a form of monopoly. Resources owned by a person can be used in an almost infinite number of ways. Taxation is a declaration by government that a given resource can only be used in one way. Proponents of taxation imply that the way that government will use this resource is better than all its other possible uses.

While this is possible, it is very unlikely. If this judgment is wrong, then society is poorer by the difference between the value of what the resource would have been used for and what the government used it for. Due to the difference in who bears responsibility for their actions, the government consistently uses resources less efficiently than private citizens. Thus taxation systematically makes a nation poorer.

The impact of taxes doesn't end there. Taxes also create incentives that change people's behavior. Taxation penalizes whatever behavior it is applied to, and so reduces its frequency. Thus income taxes decrease the production of income. Sales taxes decrease the sale of taxable goods. Property taxes decrease the ownership of taxable property. Capital gains taxes decrease investment. Inflation discourages holding money.

Thus taxes discourage all the very behaviors that create wealth: work, trade, property ownership, investment, and use of money. Thus taxes promote poverty again. In this way, the impact of taxes is far greater than the amount collected. A 100% tax would generate no revenue, but that doesn't mean that it would have no impact.

Because taxes discourage productive behavior, increasing taxes can actually reduce the amount of revenue collected. At some point, the government loses more by discouraging production than it gains through higher taxes on the remaining production. Conversely, at certain levels of taxation, cutting taxes will actually bring in more revenue through increased production.

Politicians who wish to generate revenue face incentives of their own. There are many potential forms of taxation, from sending government agents to beat people and take their wallets to withholding income from their paychecks. Some are more intrusive than others. Since taxpayers dislike paying taxes, the stealthiest methods of taxation will tend to predominate.

Thus income taxes are collected through withholding, since people are less upset by the government taking their money if it never gets to them. Some taxes, such as corporate income taxes, may be collected from a small number of people directly, but will silently increase prices for all consumers. Regulations also constitute a form of tax that increase prices.

One particularly stealthy type of tax is inflation. Inflation is increasing the money supply, which reduces the value of the money already in existence. This is a tax. It is akin to counterfeiting. Inflation causes a general increase in prices. Increasing the money supply fast enough causes hyperinflation, which can quickly bankrupt a country. Thankfully, due to the efforts of economist Milton Friedman and others, there is enough recognition that inflation is a monetary phenomenon that only a low level of inflation is politically safe.

Because so many taxes are hidden, the true level of taxation is typically much higher than most people realize.

So why do so many taxes exist, and why are they so high? The most obvious reason is that government needs lots of money to fund its many programs and activities. However, there are other reasons.

Government can use the tax code to redistribute money to politically favored constituencies from politically disfavored constituencies. It can create incentives that encourage some behaviors and discourage other behaviors. Manipulating the tax code helps politicians to generate campaign contributions.

Finally, taxes make people poorer and hence more dependent on government. This increases government power. As the old saying says, the power to tax is the power to destroy. This may explain the desire of some politicians to continue raising taxes even when this will bring in less revenue, not more.

Given that some government programs are essential, there must be some taxes to pay for them. However, taxes for any other programs waste money and so make society poorer. Taxes create incentives that discourage creating wealth and so make people poorer still. Taxes increase the power of government over citizens. Thus taxes should be no higher than absolutely necessary.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

POLITICAL UPDATE--Environmentalism

This update focuses on environmentalism. Environmentalists continue to promote hysteria with the global warming scam. Government environmental regulations cost both money and lives.

Walter Williams: Global Warming Hysteria
Christopher Horner: Cooking Up Global Warming
Ed Hiserodt: Blown Away
Michael Economides: Propaganda as Journalism
Walter Williams: Deadly environmentalists
Myron Ebell: Kyoto Anniversary: What it Means Today
William Jasper: Nurturing Nature
Dennis Behreandt: Rethinking Green
George Reisman: Global Warming Is Not a Threat But the Environmentalist Response to It Is

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

Congress on the Attack

Several disastrous measures are currently being considered in Congress.

The DREAM act, which would give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, has been dealt a setback due to strong public opposition. The Democrats, including its lead sponsor Senator Dick Durbin, have abandoned an effort to attach it to the defense appropriations bill. However, they are pledging to bring it up separately before long.

The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) is expected to soon appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is run by Senator Joe Biden. LOST would effectively give control of the oceans and seabeds to the United Nations. It would give the UN an independent source of revenue from a tax on the mining of seabeds. It would also threaten American military and intelligence activities at sea, subjecting disputes to a supranational court. LOST was totally rejected by Ronald Reagan in 1982, but the current administration and Senate liberals are pushing hard for it. Most, if not all conservatives oppose it.

The Senate recently attached a "hate crimes" bill sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy to the defense appropriations bill. This bill would effectively criminalize unpopular thoughts, albeit for now only when some other real crime has been committed. This is an attack on freedom of speech, which follows from and depends on freedom of thought.

The House and Senate recently passed the SCHIP bill, which is being used as a vehicle to bring America must closer to socialist health care. The bill is being promoted by liberals such as Ted Kennedy. President Bush has pledged to veto the bill.

The Senate is currently considering the "NICS improvement act", sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy. The bill could deny gun rights to many Americans. It is currently being delayed by Senator Tom Coburn. Gun Owners of America has raised many objections to the bill, though the NRA takes issue with them.

Don't Bring an Umbrella to a Gunfight

A Herald columnist has written an article giving advice for safety on campus. It's what you would expect.

The first and most important rule is to always know your surroundings. If something is out of place, you will be more able to detect it. If you see something that is unusual, change your route and be prepared to run or defend yourself. If you can, go to the nearest public place.

Always go in groups. Never go out at night alone and never leave a party alone. Leave with all the same people that you arrived with. For women, you also might want to think about bringing a male friend that you trust in case you are confronted with a dangerous situation.

Do not wear any kind of big jewelry when you are out at night. Whether it is running or a night on the town, jewelry can be used as a weapon against you. Also, if you have expensive jewelry it could be cause for a robbery.
So basically, live in fear.

The column does offer some advice about self-defence.

If you would feel safer having a tool on you that could be used in self defense you can use anything from a pen, to keys, an umbrella, a fog horn or a car alarm. It should be stressed that you should not carry a weapon like a knife. You should be properly trained to do so, and if not it could cause more danger to yourself. It is easy to take a weapon out of somebody's hands when they do not know how to properly use the weapon.
Unless your umbrella conceals a gun, sword, or some sort of magic wand, I wouldn't recommend using it as a weapon.

"Stop, or I'll shield you from rain!"

Of course, the only proven solution isn't on the table. That being, of course, to take back the night with guns.

Don't bring an umbrella to a gunfight.

Note: See the DPS report on crime on campus. Skip to page 17/18 for the crime statistics.

Ann Coulter in fine form

Ann Coulter nails the issue of free speech on college campuses.


And liberals agree with Ahmadinejad on the issues! We know that because he was invited by an American university to speak on campus.

Contrary to all the blather about "free speech" surrounding Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia, universities in America do not invite speakers who do not perfectly mirror the political views of their America-hating faculties. Rather, they aggressively censor differing viewpoints and permit only a narrow category of speech on their campuses. Ask Larry Summers.

If a university invites someone to speak, you know the faculty agrees with the speaker. Maybe not the entire faculty. Some Columbia professors probably consider Ahmadinejad too moderate on Israel.

Columbia president Lee Bollinger claimed the Ahmadinejad invitation is in keeping with "Columbia's long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate."

Except Columbia doesn't have that tradition. This is worse than saying "the dog ate my homework." It's like saying "the dog ate my homework" when you're Michael Vick and everyone knows you've killed your dog.

Columbia's "tradition" is to shut down any speakers who fall outside the teeny, tiny seditious perspective of its professors.

When Minutemen leader Jim Gilchrist and his black colleague Marvin Stewart were invited by the College Republicans to speak at Columbia last year, the tolerant, free-speech-loving Columbia students violently attacked them, shutting down the speech.

Imbued with Bollinger's commitment to free speech, Columbia junior Ryan Fukumori said of the Minutemen: "They have no right to be able to speak here."

Needless to say -- unlike Ahmadinejad -- the university had not invited the Minutemen. Most colleges and universities wouldn't buy a cup of coffee for a conservative speaker.

Fees for speakers who do not hate America are raised from College Republican fundraisers and contributions from patriotic alumni and locals who think students ought to hear at least one alternative viewpoint in four years of college.

And then college administrators turn a blind eye when liberal apple-polishers and suck-ups shut down the speech or physically attack the speaker.

Bollinger refused to punish the students who stormed the stage and violently ended the Minutemen's speech.

So the one thing we know absolutely is that Bollinger did not allow Ahmadinejad to speak out of respect for "free speech" because Bollinger does not respect free speech.

Only because normal, patriotic Americans were appalled by Columbia's invitation of Ahmadinejad to speak was Bollinger forced into the ridiculous position of denouncing Ahmadinejad when introducing him.

Then why did you invite him?

And by the way, I'll take a denunciation if college presidents would show up at my speeches and drone on for 10 minutes about "free speech" before I begin.

At Syracuse University last year, when liberal hecklers tried to shut down a speech by a popular conservative author of (almost!) six books, College Republicans began to remove the hecklers. But Dean of Students Roy Baker blocked them from removing students disrupting the speech on the grounds that removing students screaming during a speech would violate the hecklers' "free speech." They had a "free speech" right to prevent anyone from hearing a conservative's free speech.

That's what colleges mean by "free speech." (And by the way, my fingers are getting exhausted from making air quotes every time I use the expression "free speech" in relation to a college campus.)


Western helps to illustrate Coulter's point. Pat Buchanan was attacked on campus in 2005. The administration refused to press charges against his attacker. Granted, this was under the reign of Judy Bailey, and another President might have done differently. Western is far better than many universities. Still, there is a real problem. Literally thousands of flyers promoting our events have been ripped down over the past few years.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Understanding Government: War

One of the most destructive government programs is war.

The common usage of the term is reflected in its dictionary definition: "open armed conflict between countries or between factions within the same country".

How deadly is war? R. J. Rummel has placed the death toll for the wars of the twentieth century at 36 million. While this is significantly less than the 262 million killed by democide, it is still a huge toll. Beside this, war has caused much suffering and destruction of property.

How could this happen? Government has a near monopoly on force, so when its leaders decide to use that force to kill, it can be very deadly. Only government has the power to coerce and motivate people to kill that much.

The people who start wars are not responsible for their effects. They generally do not suffer personally from the decisions that they make. Soldiers and taxpayers suffer the consequences of their decisions. Someone outside the government who wants to kill faces the very real risk that his victim will defend himself with force. Government decision-makers are shielded from such consequences.

Ironically, wars are practically the only government programs that ever end, since their effects eventually become too obvious to ignore.

So what can be done to prevent war? Armed citizens can deter private criminals, so an armed citizenry could help to deter or repel an invasion. However, their effectiveness in preventing an invasion by a highly organized army would be limited.

Organized groups of armed citizens, or militias, could be more effective. The best example of effective militias is Switzerland, which deterred Nazi invasion during World War II, even when it was surrounded by Nazi-controlled territory. However, a militia is not foolproof, and it cannot defend a nation's interests abroad or at sea.

Thus a nation that wants to defend itself against aggression and deter war needs a military. A military needs to be funded, and government taxation appears to be the only way to do this. The more likely a government is to be successfully resisted, the less likely it will be to attack another country. Thus it is possible to achieve "peace through strength".

When should a nation go to war? This question has been addressed in Christian just war theory.

One well-publicized observation is that democracies do not go to war with each other. There are some cases on the margin, such as the American Civil War, that challenge this observation. But it appears to usually be true. It appears that this is because democracy imposes some measure of accountability on politicians, and war against another democracy cannot be politically justified.

War destroys lives and property. It lead to restrictions on freedom at home. It is usually less successful than its proponents envision. Still, it is sometimes necessary to protect a country. When fought, it should be for the realistic goal of defeating the enemy, not for utopian goals of nation-building and imposing democracy. This will minimize harm and maximize the chances of success.

War is a vivid example of the destructive power of government.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Lansing Circus

The STATE BUDGET CRISIS is turning into more and more of a three ring circus. Due to the poor economy in Michigan, the state government has taken in less revenue than it wants to spend. It has to either cut spending or raise taxes. Naturally, Governor Granholm and the Democrats want to raise taxes, while Republicans have advocated cutting spending.

The problem has been exaggerated, with the media reporting that the state has a 1.8 billion dollar deficit. But actually, this number is calculated using the Governor's desired spending increases, not what the state spent last year. The real deficit is roughly 600-900 million.

The state House of Representatives, which has a democrat majority, recently held a vote on whether to raise taxes. But about ten democrats refused to vote! They wanted to raise taxes, but they were afraid of getting recalled or defeated next election if they voted for it. They wanted Republicans to vote for it--either so they didn't have to vote for it at all, or at least so that the vote would be "bipartisan", and hence automatically good in media coverage. Republicans would be less likely to attack democrats for voting for a tax increase if some of them had also voted for it.

So they held a vote. But Republicans wouldn't vote for it, so the vulnerable democrats wouldn't vote at all. They held the vote open for several days. The Governor tried to bribe several Republicans to vote for the tax increase with offers of judgeships, etc., but found no takers. They tried again several days later with the same result. The situation remains unresolved.

The democrats turned the budget problems into a circus. Why did they hold a vote at all if they didn't have the votes to win? What a joke. If the vulnerable democrats won't take a position, they should resign and let their constituents vote for someone who will.

Note: See the recent archives of Jack Hoogendyk and RightMichigan for more details.

Politics Roundup

Several items from the world of politics.

The Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference was held the weekend on Mackinac Island. Several Republican bloggers have reports on the convention. See the blogroll at right for links to their blogs.

State Representative Jack Hoogendyk has proposed changing the formula for funding higher education. Diether Haenicke generally likes the proposal. The most important point to take from this issue is that government funding is politicized. Universities like Wayne State and Michigan Tech get so much more because they were in or near the districts of powerful legislators. The budget process begins with last year's budget, so the differences last forever. This is yet another reason not to trust government to provide for your needs.

Recent controversy has surrounded the case of the "Jena 6", the thugs who beat a kid until he was unconscious. Now, the "civil rights" movement is having marches, including a rally at Western... on behalf of the attackers. How exactly does defending criminals benefit anyone? The facts of the case are reported in this article.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


This update focuses on education. Government control and liberal indoctrination damage education. More freedom is the answer.

Phyllis Schlafly: NEA Lists Its Goals and Democrats Agree
Renny Hartmann: Free Public Education?
Deroy Murdock: 'Indoctrinate U' Diagnoses Academia's P.C. Epidemic
Joseph Farah: Teen USA Quiz: The Real Answer
Phyllis Schlafly: The Latest Fad In Public Schools
Michael Rozeff: Cut the Alma Mater Cord
William Borst: American Education: Beyond Frankfurt and Dewey
Terry Jeffrey: A Teaching Moment From the District of Columbia
Steven Greenhut: Liberate the Public Schools

Learn more about education issues in Education Reporter.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What's in a lot?

The latest campus controversy concerns the Sangren parking lot. Two-thirds of the lot is blocked off to cars, and speckled with a collection of benches, tables, flower planters, and bike racks. The lot is painted with a bizarre red design. This replaces the yellow "Japanese rising sun" design that it had last year. You have to see it to know how bizarre it looks.

Some enterprising students filed a FOIA request, and discovered that the parking lot furnishings cost Western $120,000.

The lot was closed to use it for storage for the construction of the Chemistry Annex. The university's long term plan calls for the lot to become "green space". However, Western is hoping to renovate Sangren Hall before too long, so the lot will be needed for the same purpose as before. Why not just open the lot to parking? According to one of the students who investigated the lot, the administration wanted to avoid criticism for having to close the lot again. Oops.

So the administration spent $120,000 to protect itself from criticism, and failed. This doesn't inspire much confidence in the people spending our tax dollars.

Around Campus

1. Avijit Ghosh, who was a finalist to become President of Western, has been implicated in a scandal involving a veterans scholarship. Guess who reported this five months ago?

2. Derek Jackson: what a fool.

3. Controversy continues over the proposal to allow CCW permit holders to carry guns in schools. Liberals have reacted with pure emotion, both in the Herald and the Gazette. But at least one student understands the issue.


Columns make a mockery of gun laws

The Western Herald, showcasing that it is a fair and unbiased newspaper, has published two articles in two days mocking a bill introduced in the Michigan House that would allow school employees to have concealed weapons on school grounds. The columnists called it "arming teachers" and jokingly asked, "Why stop at giving teachers guns? Why not tanks?

"Demagoguery and absurd exaggerations aside, it's important to point out that no one is "arming" teachers or giving them guns. The Second Amendment quite explicitly gives people the right to arm themselves, and yet the government has seen fit to designate schools as "gun-free zones." This bill would simply allow people who work at schools and have concealed carry permits to carry their firearms with them to work. Making schools "gun-free zones" seemed to have little impact on the Columbine and Virginia Tech killers. Although it apparently boggles the liberal mind, people who plan on killing dozens of classmates in cold blood seem to have little concern for gun laws.

In fact, the only way making schools "gun-free zones" impacted the Columbine and Virginia Tech killers was by allowing them to kill and injure 92 people without having to worry that someone might be able to defend themselves. It's recently come to light that while Virginia Tech students were being summarily executed by a lone killer (a killer who somehow managed to get a couple of guns onto a "gun-free" campus), there were a handful of responsible, law abiding students who had concealed carry permits and owned firearms, but were forced to leave them in their cars due to gun laws. The Virginia Tech killer could have been stopped earlier in his rampage, lives could have been saved, but God forbid someone have a gun on campus!

This bill could turn the tables in horrible situations like Columbine or the Virginia Tech massacre by allowing people who have jumped through the government hoops to obtain a concealed carry permit to actually carry their firearms when they go to work. One of the Western Herald columns asked readers to imagine "30 students behind a sketchy madman with your sixth grade math teacher holding a gun." In reality, this bill could very well place a responsible, armed teacher in between 30 students and a madman with a gun.

Shane Carey
WMU sophomore

Portage Elections

The filing deadline for the 2007 Portage elections has passed. Moderate Republican Mayor Peter Strazdas is running unopposed.

There are three City Council seats up for election. Incumbent Ted Vliek is not running for reelection. Conservative Republican Margaret O'Brien and moderate Republican Larry DeShazor are running for reelection. Three non-incumbents are running: Cory Bailes, Elizabeth Campbell, and Tom Fox. Their politics is unclear at this time.

Both O'Brien and DeShazor appear likely to run for the seat of State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, who is term-limited in 2008. DeShazor was defeated in a primary challenge to Jack in 2006.

Previous: Portage Elections

Post Taken Down

A post has been taken down because it discussed internal business.

Nothing should be inferred as to my opinion of the veracity of its claims.

Any active member who wants to see it can post their name and email and I will send it to them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Amnesty DREAM

Amnesty has returned to Congress in the form of the DREAM act. As you might expect from a name like that, the bill is a disaster. It would give millions of illegal aliens amnesty. It would also give in-state college tuition to illegal aliens.

Kris Kobach explains in detail what's wrong with the bill in the following article.
A Sleeper Amnesty: Time to Wake Up from the DREAM Act

Michelle Malkin follows the debate in the Senate.
Shamnesty Watch: Keep the heat on the DREAM Act…Only 18 Senators have committed to voting no

Against Amnesty
Immigration Myths

Monday, September 17, 2007

WSA affiliates with SAM & USSA, a "left-wing radical outlet"

This past Wednesday, the Western Student Association passed resolution 0708-02, officially aligning the WSA with a super-university organization named the Student Association of Michigan, or SAM. This is the group responsible for the organizing of the upcoming student rally in Lansing on Sep 26th. The intent of this rally is to increase government funding of higher education in Michigan by lobbying legislatures. Grand Valley's student government has chosen not to join SAM and MSU's government is not participating in the rally.

In making the case for this resolution, the authors of the resolution indicated the SAM had been formed by a representative from the United States Student Association.

The USSA was formed by a merger of the National Student Association (NSA) and the National Student Lobby (NSL). These organizations both have a very storied past, and one which we should be concerned about, especially when officially affiliating our student government with a group organized by the USSA.

Here is some disturbing information directly taken from the United States Student Association's website:
Until 1948, the NSA was associated with the International Union of Students, which had aligned itself with the Communist bloc. 1951 the NSA condemned "McCarthyism."

The 1950s brought financial difficulties, and in 1951 three of NSA's five staff positions were eliminated. When the CIA made the association a secret offer of large-scale funding the following year, the NSA president accepted. For the next fifteen years, a clique of "witting" officers and staff worked closely with the CIA, while others in NSA leadership, particularly those who worked solely on domestic issues were kept in the dark. CIA-backed foundations underwrote as much as eighty percent of the total NSA budget some years, and CIA-linked alumni wielded significant influence in the association. During this period some officers and staff used their positions to gather information on student leaders abroad for the agency, and some alumni worked to ensure that NSA took "correct" positions on controversial questions. High-ranking NSA leaders obtained draft deferments [from the Vietnam War] and other help from the government, and some went on to work for the CIA more directly when they left the association.

In 1966 a California Congressman attacked NSA on the floor of the House, citing a State Department grant that had funded a trip to Vietnam by the NSA president, and urging Congress to "consider requiring the Department to cease its support of this radical organization which is subverting American foreign policy." By this time, NSA "radicals" were receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from the CIA.

The 1967 NSA congress passed a resolution endorsing the Black Power movement's struggle "by any means necessary," and withdrew NSA from membership in the cold war international group it had founded. Delegates cheered when a network television commentator called NSA "a left-wing radical outfit."

In 1972 NSA's president traveled to North Vietnam to gather evidence of US violations of international law, hoping to lay groundwork for a war crimes trial. Actions like these earned NSA a place on President Nixon's infamous "enemies list," and caused division among activists as well. In 1971, a group of California students broke away, dissatisfied with NSA's militancy and focus on the war. They formed a new group, the National Student Lobby (NSL), to lobby the states and the federal government on issues such as economic access to higher education.

But the pendulum was already swinging back. In 1974 NSA created a separate foundation to carry out non-political work. This move allowed the association to become more involved in lobbying, and encouraged cooperation with NSL. In August 1978 a joint meeting of the two groups overwhelmingly approved a merger, naming the new group the United States Student Association.
Outside of the USSA's far-left past, it has strong roots to many left-wing groups today. The "SLAP" program is a pro-union affiliation with the Jobs for Justice campaign, a group that encourages universal health care, massive unionization of our workforce, anti-trade/globalization, and is pro-immigration. The Student of Color Campus Diversity Project is a program with the goal of promoting affirmative action programs on college campuses.

The USSA also supports the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) which "would repeal the federal provision and allow immigration relief to undocumented immigrants."

Upon further research into the USSA and its puppet organization SAM, we now can see that the WSA has officially affiliated itself with a radical left-wing group which will no doubt begin pushing its agenda onto us. In resolution 0708-02, the WSA is authorized to paid dues of up to $200 to SAM. The resolution also allows the WSA to resign from SAM at any time.

With these facts now come to light, I urge the President of the WSA to strongly consider the ramifications of officially aligning Western students to such an organization and to resign from SAM, refusing to financially support it, unless SAM officially condemns the USSA and vows to break any and all ties with the organization. The student body of WMU cannot affiliate itself with a group as radical as the USSA who's far-left beliefs do not represent the opinions of WMU students.


September 17 is Constitution Day. This is the day that commemorates the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. The Constitution is the fundamental basis of our political system. But most people know little about it. The Constitution doesn’t just talk about Congress and the Supreme Court. It sets forth a profoundly conservative vision of government and society. It is crucial that people understand these principles if liberty is to be maintained.

Natural Law The Constitution is predicated on the existence of natural law. The Declaration of Independence states that "We hold these Truths to self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." This thinking extends to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights does not pretend to grant rights that can be repealed at the government’s discretion. It recognizes pre-existing God-given rights. This can be seen most clearly in the Ninth Amendment, which states "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

A Republic, not a Democracy The Founding Fathers created the Constitution to provide "a Republican Form of Government" to the states. The word democracy never appears in the Constitution. In fact, the Founders despised democracy. Although the distinction has become blurred, the distinction between republic and democracy can be summarized as being that in a democracy, policy should be whatever the people want it to be, whereas in a republic, there are right and wrong things to do regardless of what people think. In a republic, the people serve to check the government, not provide a mandate for tyrannical policies.

Limited Government Having just fought a war to prevent the British Empire from imposing tyranny on America, the Founding Fathers understood the necessity of strictly limiting government power. Most constitutions provide the government with unlimited power and restrict the freedom of the people. But our Constitution restricts the powers of the federal government, limiting its functions to a few explicitly enumerated activities.

A Well-regulated Militia The Constitution gives Congress the power "To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia" and "calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions." The militia in general is composed of all law-abiding adult citizens. The Second Amendment states that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed" because "A well-regulated militia [is] necessary to the security of a free state." In the last resort, the militia will be necessary to overthrow a tyrannical government. Thus no gun control laws are constitutional.

Federalism The Constitution has a separation of powers and checks and balances so as to divide and limit federal power and prevent the rise of a dictator. The system of federalism means that most issues are left to the states. This accommodates different opinions and ensures more responsive and effective government. All federal actions not explicitly authorized by the Constitution, including welfare and entitlement programs, are unconstitutional. Before the Seventeenth Amendment, senators represented state governments, giving them a say and helping to limit federal power. Before the Sixteenth Amendment, income taxes were unconstitutional.

Unconstitutional Spending The Tenth Amendment states that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." What powers are not delegated to the federal government? The Constitution grants the federal government no authority for actions concerning welfare, entitlements, retirement, health care, poverty, agriculture, labor, the economy, education, foreign aid, gun control, the environment, or product regulation. The states may address these issues if they wish, but any federal spending or regulation in these areas is unconstitutional.

Freedom of Religion The first amendment declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This means that Congress can neither establish a religion nor stop the states from doing so. Also, establishing a religion is not the same as endorsing a religion, which the federal government often did during the founders’ era. The founders believed that a moral and religious populace was crucial for good government. The phrase "separation of church and state" never appears in the Constitution.

God in the Constitution Some people claim that the Constitution is a secular document without reference to God. But Article VII states that the Constitution was signed "in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty-seven." Further, the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, which its author James Madison defined as how we worship the Creator.

Secession The Constitution is a contract between the American states. Before the Constitution, the thirteen colonies were sovereign, independent countries. When they created the Constitution, they created "dual sovereignty," agreeing to delegate part of their sovereignty to the federal government, while retaining the rest. This union is voluntary, and the Founding Fathers believed that the states had the legal power to withdraw at any time. Further, the Constitution does not give the federal government any authority to stop secession. Thus perpetuating the union is left to the states, not the federal government. The war for Independence was a war of secession.

Nullification Many of the Founding Fathers, including Jefferson, believed that states had the power to nullify laws passed by the federal government within their own boundaries. This principle was enshrined in the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1798. Violations of the Constitution would undoubtedly occur, and the federal government could not be trusted to limit itself. Since the states created the federal government, they should "interpret" the Constitution.

Judicial Review The executive, legislative, and judicial branches are often described as equal. But the Founders clearly wrote in The Federalist that Congress would be most powerful, the Supreme Court least. The Constitution does not give the courts any authority to overturn laws. In 1803, the Supreme Court usurped this power in a case called Marbury v. Madison. Since then, the courts have acted as tyrants by legitimizing federal power-grabs and interfering with the legitimate powers of the states, such as regulating abortion and allowing school prayer.

Living Constitution? Some people have advanced the notion that we have a "living constitution" whose meaning changes over time. This is a convenient belief for those who wish to ignore the Constitution’s limitations on government power. Britain has an unwritten "constitution" which does not interfere with government power. That’s just what our Founding Fathers wanted to avoid. How would you like the rules to be "living" when you play poker?

General Welfare and Interstate Commerce Some people try to get around Constitutional limits by citing the general welfare clause. However, "general welfare" is simply a summary of the specific powers listed in the Constitution, according to its author, James Madison. Another common justification is the interstate commerce clause. But this simply means goods crossing state lines. It has been perverted to imply that Congress can regulate any activity that affects interstate commerce. The "necessary and proper" clause has been similarly perverted.

Electoral College The President is selected by the Electoral College. This reflects the role of the states in creating the federal government. For about forty years, electors were selected by state legislatures, not voters. The Electoral College also decentralizes elections, isolating fraud and limiting the effects of natural disasters. Centralized elections would invite massive fraud.

War Powers The Constitution grants Congress the power "to declare War," as well as "raise and support Armies" and "provide and maintain a Navy." This power is not granted to the President. This means that decision to go to war will not be made by one person. This decentralized power and provides an important check on government.

The Constitution’s meaning is clear—it strictly limits government power. It must be defended.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


This update focuses on immigration. Illegal immigration continues to cause problems in America. Enforcing the law works when tried, but the government is reluctant to do so.

WorldNetDaily: Mandatory deportation has illegals on the run
Ann Coulter: 1 Down, 11,999,999 to Go
John Stone: Operation Jump Start: Failure by Design
Martha Zoller: Illegal Immigration, Crime And Campaign ‘08
Pat Buchanan: Robert Putnam: Diversity Is Our Destruction
Kris Kobach: A Judicial Setback for the Rule of Law
Thomas Woods: Founding Fathers Were Immigration Skeptics
Michelle Malkin: Deport them Now
Phyllis Schlafly: Trade Demands a Level Playing Field
Douglas MacKinnon: Illegal Aliens Declare War on the United States

For more on immigration, see

Wild, Wild West

The Kalamazoo Gazette featured a front page article on Dave Agema's bill to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons in schools. The bill is cosponsored by local Republican state representatives Jack Hoogendyk and Lorence Wenke.

Whenever someone mentions guns, particularly in connection with schools, some people react with pure emotion. The Gazette article is no exception.

Hence we have this from Democrat state representative Robert Jones.

"A solution of everyone carrying guns in a 21st-century society is a step back to the Wild West and the cowboy era,'' Jones said.
First of all, "everyone" would not carry guns, only those who freely choose to do so. Second, no debate about gun control would be complete without a reference to the Wild West.

Would this really bring back the Wild West? Will people be attacked by wild animals? Will stagecoaches be raided by hostile Indians? Will we have no more cars, paved roads, electricity, or flush toilets?

Of course not. Presumably Jones is referring to the level of crime in the Wild West. But crime in the Wild West was lower than in most major American cities today. The notion that crime was high in the Wild West is the product of movie westerns, not reality. The truth is contained in a chapter of the new book 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask by Thomas Woods.

Should we be afraid of guns in schools? Well, several states allow concealed carry permit holders to carry in schools right now. Has mayhem ensued? Israel used to see terrorist attacks against schools. Then they allowed school employees to carry guns. The result? No more attacks. Thailand also recently allowed teachers to carry guns in response to attacks.

Only a few decades ago, students brought guns to school to participate in school rifle clubs.

Economic analysis shows that allowing concealed carry will reduce crime. This is backed by research. Economist John Lott conducted a study on mass shootings several years ago.

We found that when states passed right-to-carry laws, these attacks fell by 60 percent. Deaths and injuries from multiple-victim public shootings fell on average by 78 percent.

To the extent that attacks still occurred, they overwhelmingly happened in the special places within right-to-carry states where concealed handguns were banned.
Rather than examine the evidence, opponents of gun rights would rather spout slogans about the Wild West.

New Drain Commissioner

A interim Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner has been appointed.


Kalamazoo County officials have named Patrick Krause, a former county environmental-health and lab-services director, as interim county drain commissioner.

Krause will handle the duties of Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner William French, who suffered a stroke Aug. 10 while on vacation in the Florida Keys.


Fink said that Krause was chosen because of his experience in working with the drain commissioners' office on stormwater management, water quality and drainage issues.

Krause was director of environmental health and laboratory services for Kalamazoo County from 1987 until 2003, when he retired. He served on the Environmental Health Advisory Council and worked with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Fink praised Krause's ability to communicate effectively with the public to explain drain projects.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Michigan Politics

Wenke versus Saul: Republican Michigander has details. Jack responds.

Chuck Yob will not run for reelection as Republican National Committeeman. Former Detroit City Councilman and senate candidate Keith Butler has obtained endorsements from numerous party officials for the position.

Dave Agema has introduced a bill to allow teachers to carry guns in school.

Michigan Democrats tried and failed to raise taxes.

Michigan gives workers' compensation to illegal aliens. Remember this when Democrats say there's nothing left to cut.

Our 9/11 display made the Herald and Saul's blog.

WMU Links

Links to relevant sites involving Western Michigan University.
The main site for Western Michigan University.

Email and resources for students.

WMU Libraries
Books, journals, and much more valuable information.

Student Activities and Leadership Programs--RSO information and assistance.

Western Student Association
WMU's student government.

WMU Union Contracts
Union contracts at Western.

WMU News
News from Western Michigan University.

Western Herald
WMU's student newspaper.

WMU College Republicans
The best party on campus.

Research Information

These sites provide information on the workings of government and politicians.

Research legislation and voting records in Congress.

Open Secrets
Information on campaign donors and recipients.

Vote Smart
Information on political candidates.

On the Issues
Where candidates stand on the issues.

Michigan Legislature
Laws and legislation in the Michigan legislature.

Michigan Votes
Legislation and voting records in the Michigan legislature.

Michigan Secretary of State
Campaign donations and elections in Michigan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Notes from the Chairman

Our September 11 Memorial was a huge success! All throughout the day members of the campus community stopped and expressed how happy and thankful they were that we took the time to help everyone remember and honor those who lost their lives. Local news crews stopped by and took pictures/video of our memorial. We made the front page of the campus newspaper.

"The College Republicans of WMU honored the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with a display of 2997 flags, each representing a life lost in the attacks of that day. 'We've gotten a really good response from the students and faculty,' said senior Megan Buwalda, chairman of the College Republicans. She said President John Dunn, along with other students and faculty had stopped by."

Group members Andrew Hooley and Kelly MacDonell at the CR Table

The flags were assembled in the shape of the two world trade towers.

Thank you's are in order to: the members of the WMU College Republicans, the MFCRs-- specifically Justin Zatkoff, Young America's Foundation, the staff of the Bernhard Center, and most importantly to the WMU Department of Public Safety Parking Services for letting me talk my way out of 4 parking tickets throughout the course of the day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

College Republicans' first meeting

Welcome back WMU students! I'd like to welcome you all to the College Republicans' first meeting of the year. The meeting will be held this Wednesday, September 12th, at 9:00 p.m. in the President's Dining Room of the Bernhard Center (main floor behind the information desk).

Special guest State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk will be joining us at the first meeting. Additionally, we'll be announcing who our first speaker of the semester will be! Afterwards, as always, we invite everyone out to the Roadhouse, which is always a good time.

I hope to see you all there!

Matthew Moss
Vice Chairman
College Republicans

9/11 and Immigration

One of the aspects of the 9/11 attacks less mentioned in the mainstream media is that the attacks could not have happened without lax American immigration policies. Many of the terrorists who attacked us were here illegally. This was due not to crossing the border illegally, but rather overstaying visas or misrepresenting themselves on visa applications. Others were here legally who never should have been.

Mohamed Atta, ringleader of the attacks, was stopped in Florida and found to be driving without a licence. His immigration status was unquestioned. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but this didn't stop him from flying around the county, and to Spain and back.

Adding insult to injury, Atta and another hijacker were issued visas six months after the attacks.

Outrageously, while our foreign policy has been widely debated, very little has been done to fix our immigration policy. The government refuses to do so.

Notes from the Chairman

While it seems a quite a few of the College Republicans in the state spent their rainy Monday evening starting new blogs, I am pleased to report that a large group of WMU College Republicans gathered on campus to arrange a September 11 memorial. Two thousand, nine hundred and ninety seven flags were arranged in the shape of the twin towers to honor those who lost their lives 6 years ago.

A table manned by CRs will be near the memorial in front of the Bernhard Center all day Tuesday beginning at 8am. If you are on campus be sure to drop by. More pictures will be posted tomorrow.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


This update focuses on government. Government spending continues to bleed the taxpayers. Regulations take away freedom. Government performs many tasks poorly.

Ron Paul: Aging Infrastructure
Don Devine: Caesar or God: Who Is Dead?
Ron Paul: High Risk Spending
Mac Johnson: The NSA Can’t Invade Our Privacy -- It’s Under IRS Occupation Already
Thomas Sowell: A Bridge Too Far Gone
Ron Paul: As Recess Begins, Spending Spree Continues
Terry Jeffrey: D.C.'s Assault on the Second Amendment
Lynn Woolley: The Un-Fairness Doctrine
JD Foster: Medicare: $3.8 Trillion Worse
Ron Paul: Earmark Victory May Be A Hollow One
Tim Carney: Administration Poised to Subsidize China’s Nuclear Industry
Walter Williams: FDA: Friend or Foe?

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

Right On

From Thomas Sowell's random thoughts:

One of the painful signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument. They can vent their emotions, question other people's motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans-- anything except reason.

Immigration News

The city of Hamtramck may soon become a 'sanctuary city' that forbids police to question illegal aliens about their immigration status. Newark, New Jersey recently suffered a horrific murder that could have been prevented if it were not a sanctuary city. A few years back, Hamtramck allowed the Muslim call to prayer to be broadcast over loudspeakers starting at 6AM.

Michigan democrats have protected in-state college tuition for illegal aliens. Jack Hoogendyk has details.

Giuliani: Illegal Immigration is not a crime. Does that mean it's not illegal?

McCain on immigration:

Border Security & Immigration Reform
John McCain is running for President to do the hard but necessary things and address problems that cannot be left to future generations to solve. That is why he announced his support for a legislative framework that addresses our nation's failed immigration policies.
That's one way to put it. The truth about McCain's immigration record is here:

McCain has advocated higher immigration levels, amnesty, and a "guest worker" program. He said that "Everyone in the world should have the opportunity through an orderly process to come to this country." He believes that immigrants do "jobs that Americans won't do." He opposes ballot initiatives to restrict immigration and advocates more government spending for legal immigrants. He voted to allow illegal immigrants to receive Social Security benefits.

He sponsored the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill with Senator Ted Kennedy. McCain supports creating a "guest worker program" and "path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants already in America. This amounts to amnesty and a reward (citizenship) for lawbreakers. In the Senate, he voted for a bill that would allow in more than 100 million immigrants in the next 20 years. It would also cost $500 billion in welfare payments within 20 years.

His record has been profiled by Numbers USA and Americans for Better Immigration.

Understanding Government: Democide

Advocates of various government programs often justify their support with the argument that they will save lives. Thus it is ironic to note government's unparalleled record of taking lives.

Consider this question: What is the single largest non-natural cause of death in the world?

It isn't murder or suicide or AIDS or car crashes. It's being murdered by government. This does not include death in war.

How many people were murdered by government in the twentieth century?

The best estimate that we have is this: 262 million.

Think about that.

The world is indebted to political scientist R. J. Rummel for researching this subject. His estimate of 262 million murdered by government in the twentieth century is documented here. It includes 150 million murdered by communists. Rummel provides the name 'democide' for government murder of civilians. He provides a great amount of detail about democide in his book Death by Government.

This death toll does not include combat deaths in wars. That total, 36 million, is small in comparison (though only in comparison).

How did government accumulate such a horrific death toll? Government, by definition, has a near monopoly on the use of force. If the government targets someone for elimination, he has virtually no chance of survival. If someone is targeted by a private criminal, he has a reasonable chance of resisting successfully. But a lower chance of success makes resistance less likely. This likewise encourages the government, since it is less likely to face negative consequences. Thus it is the power of government that makes such widespread murder possible.

This indictment of government power in no way eliminates moral responsibility for those individuals who commit the murders. All moral responsibility falls on those who commit such acts. But we cannot ignore the fact that they can only accumulate such massive casualties through the use of government.

Likewise, some may blame ideologies like communism, Nazism, extreme nationalism, etc. Similarly, some may point out motives of greed or indifference to the welfare of others. While such ideologies and motives may justly be condemned, this does not change the fact that they can only become so deadly through the control of government.

Critics may point out that democide is not evenly distributed amongst powerful governments. But the fact that a correlation is not exact does not mean that it is not real. The fact is that the more powerful a government is, the greater the risk of widespread government murder.

So what can be done to stop democide? The solution is to limit government power. While any government will have more power than any other actor in society, exactly how powerful a government can be varies. The less powerful a government is, the less able it is to carry out acts of democide. The fewer employees it has, the fewer people will exist to facilitate democide. The fewer programs it has, the easier it will be for people to resist or avoid democide.

Some, including Rummel, point out that democracies do not commit democide, with occasional exceptions against enemies in wartime. They argue that we should promote democracy to reduce democide. This is fine, as long as countries remain democracies. However, this is not guaranteed. The classic example is the Wiemar Republic, which democratically elected Hitler, who transformed it into a dictatorship. Hitler's democide was facilitated by the powerful socialist government that was established before he took power. Making a democratic government less powerful will help to prevent democide in the event that it ceases to be democratic.

The fact that government is more deadly than war has significant implications. During the Cold War, some people argued that we should appease, or make concessions to, or outright surrender to the Soviet Union, because we were "better red than dead". Aside from any other considerations of freedom or prosperity, the facts show that being 'red' means that you are more likely to be dead than if you had fought for your freedom.

Another argument is that we should have world government or regional government to avoid the horrors of war. Efforts to create supranational governments such as the European Union have been justified based on this theory. But the larger and more centralized a government is, the less democratic it is. There is no reason to think that world government would be democratic at all. The facts show that there is much more to fear from tyrannical government than war. Thus any moves toward world government or loss of sovereignty should be resisted.

Instead, decentralization should be promoted. When government is decentralized, it is harder for any one person or faction to seize control of all of it. Such malefactors can be resisted by other parts of the government. Malevolent local governments can more easily be resisted by moving and can more easily be defeated.

Protecting civil liberties is critical to limiting government power. The most important civil liberties are gun rights. The private ownership of guns significantly weakens the government's near monopoly on force. It makes resistance to tyrannical government much more effective. While any individual may be overwhelmed, enough casualties can be imposed on a tyrannical government to render a campaign of democide ineffective.

The striking fact is that wherever democide occurred, the populace was disarmed. Most of the 262 million deaths by government could have been prevented had the victims been armed. Thus it is absolutely crucial to protect gun rights and resist any attempts to weaken them.

The fact of democide does not imply that all government is unnecessary. However, it does significantly weaken the rationale for government intervention. It is highly ironic that to prevent real or imagined threats to a handful of lives, some people advocate using an instrument that, when out of control, has killed more people than any other.

The horror of democide cannot be adequately understood through a few statistics. But they are enough to show that government must be strictly limited.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

College Republicans of WMU honor the victims of 9/11 in a tribute of 2,997 flags

Press Release

College Republicans of WMU honor the victims of 9/11 in a tribute of 2,997 flags

The College Republicans of Western Michigan University would like to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 with a tribute of 2,997 flags, each representing a life lost in the attacks of that day. This tribute will take place all day at the lawn in front of WMU’s Bernhard Center on September 11th.

“It is important to remember this tragedy even six years later,” says Megan Buwalda, Chair of the WMU College Republicans, “these victims are not forgotten.”

The victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks include 246 persons onboard the four planes, 2,602 in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. An additional 24 people remain listed as missing. Among the fatalities were 343 New York City Fire Department firefighters, 29 New York City Police Department officers, and 37 Port Authority Police Department officers. The College Republicans hope that this memorial of 2,997 flags on the front lawn of WMU’s Bernhard Center will be a symbolic tribute of reverence and remembrance to both the victims who lost their lives directly to terror, and those heroes who gave their lives trying to save others from the carnage.

“We invite all members of Western Michigan University and the community to join us in this tribute,” says Buwalda.

The College Republicans of Western Michigan University is a Registered Student Organization whose mission is to actively promote the conservative values and culture that have made the United States of America the greatest nation in the world. Our goal is to fervently campaign at the national, state, local, and campus level in order to further these ideals. Education on our campus concerning the conservative goals of limited government, fiscal responsibility, Constitutional freedoms, strong national defense, secure borders, national sovereignty, and superior personal and family values are of utmost importance to this organization.

The College Republicans' first meeting is to be held Wednesday, September 12th at 9:00pm in the President’s Dining Room of the Bernhard Center. All interested parties are encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Welcome Back!

Tuesday is the first day of classes for the fall 2007 semester.

Friday is Bronco Bash from 3-7 at from Haenicke Hall to the flagpoles. Come visit the WMU College Republicans, as well as other groups like the Students for Life and InterVarsity.

The Western Right has a remodeled sidebar with lots more information. There is an updated and expanded blogroll, links to profiles of the 2008 Republican Presidential candidates, links to resources on this blog, and links to many outside organizations and sources of information.

Have a great start to the new semester!

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Economics of Labor Unions

Labor unions have been in decline for some time. Their membership has declined drastically, and they are increasingly seen as anachronistic by American workers. Economic analysis can help to illuminate the economic effects of labor unions, which in turn can help to evaluate them as social institutions.


Some critics of unions go so far as to imply that they have no place at all in the free market. But this need not be the case. In the free market, workers and employers are free to negotiate arrangements in which they exchange labor for money, i. e. jobs. The end result is not arbitrary; there is economic reality underlying it.

However, it is possible for people to make bad deals. Workers may not agree to as good a deal as they could get because they are not good at negotiating. Thus a worker could potentially benefit by hiring someone else to do his negotiating for him. It is common for actors and athletes to hire agents to do just this.

It is also possible for a group of workers to band together to jointly negotiate a contract that will cover all of them. There is nothing inherently wrong with 'collective bargaining'. Unions may also provide other services to their members, such as unemployment insurance or insurance against lawsuits.

Even in the free market, it is questionable how useful a union would be. Employees who get a good offer from their employer are free to seek a better job elsewhere. Another employer who sees an employee being paid significantly less than his labor is worth may try to hire him away to make a profit himself. Thus an employer has good reason to pay his employees what their labor is worth.

Further, any outside agent knows much less about a job than the employee does. It is questionable whether it is really more efficient to jointly negotiate a contract for disparate jobs. Even when jobs are theoretically the same, workers' performance may be vary different, meriting different salaries.


This theory of unions in a free market contrasts sharply with their actual effects in the real world. That is because the existence of unions is distorted by government regulations. These regulations constitute special privileges that benefit union leaders while hurting businesses, consumers, other workers, and sometimes even the union members.

The most important such regulation is the requirement that workers join a union or pay dues if they work at a given employer. This forces workers to join who otherwise would not and boosts union membership levels and funds. This government-protected monopoly eliminates competition, and hence reduces the benefit of the union to the workers and increases prices (dues), as any monopoly must. Ironically, many people who attack business monopolies readily support labor monopolies.

Such regulations are typically defended by appeal to the collective action problem. That is, it is said that unions benefit all workers regardless whether they are members, so all workers must pay. It is said that there must be solidarity to raise wages. But this is a fallacy, as wages are determined by market forces, not labor activism.

It is an open question whether a given union benefits workers. It may simply be ineffective, or it may make a worse deal than some or all workers could make on their own. Or, it may drive too hard a bargain and weaken or bankrupt the employer, costing jobs. It may advocate bad laws that hurt workers and consumers. But workers are forced to pay regardless.

Government also regulates the establishment of unions. They are established by majority vote of a given population of workers. Government requires employers to provide contact information to union organizers and prohibits the employer from lobbying against unionization. Given that unions are monopolies and are almost never disestablished, there is a lot of money riding on such a vote. Not surprisingly, intimidation and coercion are all too common in such elections. Unions have recently lobbied Congress to eliminate secret ballots in such elections so as to make coercion easier. This is another example of a union benefiting itself at the expense of its members.

Another government regulation is the prohibition on firing striking workers. Of course, workers who are not under contract are perfectly free to refuse to work. But in a free market, the employer would be free to fire them and hire replacements. The union is in competition with other workers who are willing to work for less than the union wants.

However, laws prevent firing the strikers. Replacements are often harassed or threaten by the union. This constricts the available labor supply and hence can increase union wages. This may benefit the union, but it hurts the general public. It particularly hurts the other workers who are denied jobs.

We have so far dealt with unions of private workers. But there are also unions of government workers, and this case requires separate analysis. Unlike in the free market, government employees are funded by taxpayers, whether they want to or not. Higher salaries can be passed on to the taxpayers. Government negotiators have much less incentive to drive a hard bargain because they are not spending their own money. While business unions are often eliminated by market forces, government is a monopoly that can't be driven out of business. Thus the percentage of unionization is much higher in government than business.


Monopoly unions have a guaranteed stream of revenue. Hence it is not surprising that this money is often misused. Union leaders can spend this money on themselves rather than on helping their members. In fact, union corruption is much more frequent than business corruption. Interestingly, Democrats in Congress have recently voted to cut the part of the government prosecuting union abuses.

The privilege of unions makes them appealing targets for takeover by outside forces. Thus there has been a long string of cases of organized crime controlling unions for its own benefit. In addition to access to union dues, racketeers can use the threat of strikes to extort payoffs from business owners. This obviously doesn't benefit the workers.

Unions are also important bases of political power. During the heyday of communism, many unions in America and elsewhere were controlled, whether openly or secretly, by communists. They advocated their own agenda, whether the workers agreed with it or not.


In addition to negotiation, unions engage in political activities. Unions use members' dues for political purposes whether they agree with it or not. Union leaders are free to pursue their own agendas. About 40 percent of American union members vote Republican, but unions contribute almost no money to Republicans.

Some union activities relate directly to labor laws. Thus unions advocate regulations such as those discussed above. Such regulations may or may not benefit union members, but they definitely benefit union leaders at the expense of the general population.

One major cause for unions is minimum wage laws. Unions are the primary advocates for such laws. But it is a fact of basic economics that such laws reduce the demand for labor and hence destroy jobs. Do unions not realize this? Actually, there is good reason to think that they know exactly what they are doing.

Unions compete with non-union workers for jobs. Banning wages below a certain level drives some of them out of work and hence reduces the labor supply. This increases wages for union members. This explains why unions advocate a minimum wage just high enough to drive low-skilled workers out of jobs, but not high enough to hurt union members.

Other union political activities have no connection to labor at all. Some unions take positions on everything from social issues to foreign policy. Many unions are run by liberals who promote their own agendas. For example, see the resolutions passed by the National Education Association.


Unions have promoted, and often believed, many economic myths.

Unions promote a mythology in which workers were living in destitution, exploited by vicious robber barons, until labor unions organized and, with some help from the government, made it possible for workers to earn a decent living. This story simply isn't true, and it rests on a basic economic fallacy.

The fallacy is that prices are set by businesses and that the only way to change them is organizational or political pressure. But prices are determined by market forces. Employers cannot pay more than labor is worth. They compete for labor, and so bid it up to its market value.

Unions take credit for rising wages, shorter work weeks, and better working conditions. But the real reason for these developments is higher labor productivity, which means labor is worth more, which means that it is paid more. The main reason for higher productivity is new technologies, which come about through investment. With higher productivity, people can afford to work less and demand better working conditions. Union claims are belied by the fact that many professions are well paid with virtually no unionization.

Another myth, more common in the past, is that machines and technology damage the economy by putting people out of work. Automation may indeed hurt particular workers, but it helps the economy as a whole. Machines make it possible to produce more with the same amount of labor.

Unions are major advocates of protectionism. Trade restrictions may benefit particular workers, but they hurt the economy as a whole. Unions blame trade for job losses, but the real culprit is government regulations, including but not limited to labor regulations.


When evaluating unions, it is important to separate the different players involved. Unions may benefit their members by hurting other workers. They may benefit some members while hurting other members. They may benefit their leadership while hurting their membership.

The union movement has declined in the private sector through a sort of 'natural selection'. Unions have made their employers less efficient, and over time unionized employers have lost out to non-unionized employers, at home and abroad.

The union movement today is a product of government regulations. Whatever benefit unions provide would be maximized in the free market. People should be free to join, not join, or join more than one. Unions should have to compete for business.

Once again, the free market is best for workers, consumers, and taxpayers.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

POLITICAL UPDATE--Law of the Sea Treaty

This update focuses on the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). LOST would give the United Nations significant control over the oceans. It would have the ability to tax and to restrict naval activity. LOST is expected to appear before the Senate soon.

Cliff Kincaid: Wall Street Journal Lies About Sea Treaty
Frank Gaffney: Russian L.O.S.T. and found
Doug Bandow: An Administration LOST at Sea
Phyllis Schlafly: Deep-Six The Law Of The Sea
WorldNetDaily: Bush to pressure Senate to revive U.N. sea treaty

Jerome Corsi: Now Africa heads toward continental government
Pat Buchanan: The New World Order GOP

More information:
Eagle Forum
Get US Out of the UN

Replacing Bill French

Bill French, Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner remains in a coma after suffering a stroke while vacationing in Florida.

This created a problem for Kalamazoo County, since the drain commissioner needs to sign various documents necessary for building projects to proceed. With French incapacitated, these projects could not go forward. The law allowed French to designate a temporary replacement to do the job in his absence, but French did not do so before heading to Florida.

State law allowed other county officials to appoint a replacement for any incapacitated countywide office-holder--except the drain commissioner. The position of drain commissioner didn't exist when that statute was drafted.

In what must be a new record for government efficiency, a bill was rushed through the state legislature in a few days to amend the statute to allow for temporary replacements for incapacitated drain commissioners.

County Prosecutor Jeff Fink and Clerk Tim Snow, the officials in charge of making the selection, solicited applications a few days ago. They have received no fewer that twenty-seven applications. The applicants are:

Ansari, of Portage; Awe, of Kalamazoo; Cornelius J. Baden, of Portage; Michael E. Boersma, of Oshtemo Township; Walter E. Calhoun, of Richland Township; Thomas K. Cogswell, of Ross Township; Patricia Crowley, of Richland Township; Jose Escandon, of Richland Township; Gregory Ferris, of Alamo Township; Richard L. Fogarsi, of Portage; Ralph L. Freed, of Kalamazoo; Fred Gemlich, of Brady Township; Gregersen, of Climax Township; David W. Henson Jr., of Kalamazoo; Marion R. Hill, of Oshtemo Township; Patrick R. Hudson, of Kalamazoo Township; James Jenkins, of Comstock Township; Henry A. Kerr, of Portage; Patrick Krause, of Comstock Township; Stephen Lewis, of Kalamazoo; Steven M. Mejeur, of Texas Township; Gary J. Miller, of Brady Township; Mark E. Miller, of Kalamazoo Township; William Reed, of Pavilion Township; Alvin G. Ritsema, of Kalamazoo; Carolyn Rutland, of Cooper Township; and Richard C. Walsh, of Kalamazoo Township.
The best-known applicant is Nasim Ansari, a Kalamazoo County Commissioner representing northern Portage. Ansari, a conservative Muslim, is probably the favorite for the position. He is well-qualified, with a good education and much experience in local government, including "serving as a member of Portage Ground Water Commission and later as its elected councilor".

Ratings of Congress

Many conservative organizations rate members of Congress to help people evaluate their records and hold them accountable.

American Conservative Union

The New American: Freedom Index

National Right to Life Committee

Gun Owners of America-Senate (See previous years by editing URL)
Gun Owners of America-House (See previous years by editing URL)

Americans for Better Immigration

Numbers USA

Eagle Forum

Club for Growth

National Taxpayers Union

Americans for Tax Reform