Monday, May 24, 2010

Against Democracy!?!

Without a doubt, it is the most overrated idea of them all. Few find anything wrong with it. Fewer people bother to critically examine it. Its almost universally accepted in the West.

However, ever since I starting reading Mencken lately I realized that there have been and continue to be a few willing dissenters.

Mencken was among a depressingly small minority of thinkers who understood the perils of an unregulated democracy. Of course, the classic definition of democracy is "rule by the majority." This however begs the following question:
How does the majority rule under democracy? This underscores the fact that there can be degrees of democracy. Under pure democracy, all things, including individual rights such as rights to liberty and private property, are subordinate to majority will. The standard individualist argument against pure democracy is as follows:

-Pure democracy is a social system where the recognition of individual rights (including those to liberty and private property) is contingent upon majority will (Majority agreement regarding the recognition individual rights is a necessary condition for the actual recognition of individual rights within a pure democracy)

-Any social system where the recognition of individual rights is contingent upon majority will is an anti-individualist social system

-Pure democracy is an anti-individualist social system

The hypothetical problems of pure democracy are well-known among free-market advocates. For example, if a majority realizes the extent of its power under a pure democracy, then what's to them from stealing (either through overt violence or through voting) the money possessed by those of the minority? Such conduct would be morally reprehensible, yet it would nevertheless be lawful under a pure democracy. Mencken was frank when it came to his opinion of most people. According to Mencken,
"The great masses of men, though theoretically free, are seen to submit supinely to oppression and exploitation of a hundred abhorrent sorts. Have they no means to resistance? Obviously they have. The worst tyrant, even under democratic plutocracy, has but one throat to slit. The moment the majority decided to overthrow him he would be overthrown. But the majority lacks the resolution; it cannot imagine taking the risk. So it looks for leaders with the necessary courage, and when they appear it follows slavishly, even after their courage is discovered to be mere buncombe and their altruism only a cloak for more and worse oppressions. Thus it oscillates eternally between scoundrels, or, if you would take them at their own valuation, heroes. Politics becomes the trade of playing upon its natural poltroonery - of scaring it half to death, and then proposing to save it."
What explains this totalitarian propensity among the average man, the inferior man? Within Notes on Democracy, Mencken argues that the inferior man's preference for statism over liberty exists because "What he longs for is something wholly different, to wit, security. He needs protection. He is afraid of getting hurt. All else is affectation, delusion, empty words." Mencken also quotes Sir Francis Galton as saying, "The vast majority of persons of our race have a natural tendency to shrink from the responsibility of standing and acting alone." In one respect, freedom is frightening, for how should one use one's freedom? How does one support oneself financially under a state of freedom? What decisions should one make when one is free? Freedom does not guide people in making decisions, it merely enables the decision-making process. Such guidance is the province of ethics, not political philosophy.

People have two choices: Either they can value self-governance or they can value governance by others. If they value self-governance, then they'll tend to value freedom; if they value governance by others, then they'll tend to value statism. By extolling self-governance over governance by others, then we can mitigate the inclination towards despotism exhibited by the masses. Notes on Democracy is the first step in such an endeavor.

Picture via The Mises Institute

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Economics and Ethics of Discrimination

Walter Block demonstrates that the market imposes costs upon irrationally discriminatory behaviour.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Is Christianity Compatible with Capitalism?

Dr. Jennifer Morse debates Yaron Brook.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Myth of the Rational Voter

Bryan Caplan and Will Wilkinson discuss Dr. Caplan's book The Myth of the Rational Voter.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yaron Brook and Terry Jones on the Stock Market Dip and Unemployment

See here.

The Chaos of the Constitution

If you try to search for common ground on which conservatives are met with contemporary liberals, you'll notice that both groups have their fair share of people who appeal to the Constitution when arguing in favor of their opinions as symbolized as propositions. Numerous conservative and modern liberal groups appeal to the Constitution to reinforce their positions such as the ACLU which appeals, among others, to the 1st Amendment and to the 5th Amendment, and the NRA which appeals to the 2nd Amendment.

The argument from the Constitution involves the assertion of the claim that one's belief (as expressed in the form of a proposition) corresponds harmoniously with the Constitution, coupled with the further claim that propositions that correspond with the Constitution in such a way are true. Finally, these two claims are used as premises in a deductive syllogism to yield the conclusion that one's initial proposition is therefore true. A formal version of the argument is below:

-My proposition is a proposition that is congruent with the Constitution or with a section of the Constitution.

-All propositions that are congruent with the Constitution or with a section of the Constitution are true propositions.

-Therefore, my proposition is a true proposition.

The popularity behind the above argument from the Constitution comes, in part, from the general public veneration of the Constitution itself as the law of the land as well as the deference many people display towards the Founding Fathers who drafted the Constitution. Now if one tasks oneself with opposing the expansion of government on legal grounds, then sound constitutional arguments make for some of the best, most effective means towards that end (the futility of arguing from the non-aggression principle in front of the Supreme Court comes to mind). However, the Constitution, while admittedly perfectable, is far from perfect. History admirably demonstrates that the Constitution is, among other things, sufficiently vague and ambiguous to enable ambitious statists to form very broad interpretations of it - interpretations purporting to legally justify socio-economically detrimental conduct from the government.

For example, the Commerce Clause. Formally known as Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, the Commerce Clause recognizes the legal right (a legal sanction to the performance of a specific action) of the government to "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." The questions that the Commerce Clauses begs (literally) are obvious: What does "regulate" mean? What does "commerce" mean? What acts of government are included within the class of "acts of government that conform to the Commerce Clause?"

Was it not said of the majority of the New Deal programs that they were legally justified according to the Commerce Clause? Has it not also been demonstrated that those same undertakings turned what would have been a normal recession by 19th century standards into an unprecedented depression? The conflict here is clear: arguments from the Constitution can be used to legally justify deranged, socio-economic policies. No doubt, many pro-New Dealers implicitly offered the following argument for each of their beloved programs:

-"Program X of the New Deal is legally justified" is a proposition that is congruent with the Constitution or with a section of the Constitution.

-All propositions that are congruent with the Constitution or with a section of the Constitution are true propositions.

-Therefore, "Program X of the New Deal is legally justified" is a true proposition.

How can one counter this argument from the Constitution with another argument from the Constitution? The above argument depends for its soundness upon a generous (to the government) definition of the word "regulate." Who may argue that such a definition is legally mistaken? Why is the broad definition of "regulate" erroneous from a legal standpoint?

Some have adopted the Originalist approach towards the Constitution which holds that "the meaning of the Constitution should be settled by reference to the original understanding of those who ratified it." By contrast, Popular Will theory holds "that proper judicial decision-making must regard the will of the people as all-important." Minimalist theory endorses a policy "of saying no more than necessary to justify an outcome, and leaving as much as possible undecided." On the other hand, living Constitutionalists argue that interpretations of the Constitution should be sufficiently broad to adapt to socio-economic changes. Which legal method among these is the correct one?

It is not enough, for a believer in capitalism and reduced government, merely to employ the argument from the Constitution because the minor premise (the first one) asserts a relation of terms that can be simply denied by opponents of capitalism. If one knows that, in fact, a given proposition is congruent with the Constitution, then one must know what the Constitution says. Therefore, knowing what the Constitution says is a necessary condition of knowing that a given proposition is congruent with the Constitution. However, if one does not know what the Constitution says, then one does not know that a given proposition, including one's own, is congruent with it.

Well, what does the Constitution say? As should be apparent by now, theories on how to interpret the law are ultimately based upon political philosophies. Take the proposition that "Congress should regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." Should "regulate commerce" mean "ensure that commerce occurs in the absence of coercive interference" or should it mean "subject commerce to supervision and forcible governance?" Whether one believes the former or the latter depends upon what one believes the government should do in general? This is where economics and ethics must inform any argument for politico-economic freedom. Economic theory demonstrates that government intervention, by eliminating the necessary condition for continued growth, prosperity, and progress - the absence of coercion - that, by doing so, it causes a whole host of social problems from unemployment to price inflation to business cycles. Ethics demonstrates that if the absence of coercion is a necessary condition for human progress, then it should be an end pursued by those concerned with such progress.

So, when defending gun ownership and opposing gun control, its best to employ arguments from ethics and economics in conjunction with an argument from the Constitution that involves appealing to the 2nd Amendment. Its not enough to state merely that the right to own a gun is recognized by the Constitution. Social science demonstrates that gun control policies end up rendering law-abiding citizens defenseless by disarming them in an environment where criminals willfully disregard such policies. Ethics shows us that if we value safety, that therefore we show oppose gun control laws. With ethics and social science, we have arguments from practicality, whereas with the Constitution we have arguments from legality.


-Smith, Tara. "Why Originalism Won't Die - Common Mistakes in Competing Theories of Judicial Interpretation." Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy 2 (2007): 159-215. Social Science Research Network. Web. 16 May 2010. http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/djclpp/index.php?action=downloadarticle&id=46.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Some Basic Economic Problems of Free Healthcare

If I could remove one thing from the discourse in this country, as well as the rest of the world, it would be the careless approval people lend to the idea that healthcare should be provided free of charge. The assertiveness with which people demand healthcare pro bono comes in part from their conviction that they are entitled, by right, to be furnished with it at another's expense. Belief in a "right to healthcare" is pervasive and I've elaborated briefly but conclusively on the moral implications of enforcing entitlements to free healthcare here. Now I will elaborate a bit upon the forthcoming effects of any such attempt to turn healthcare into a free commodity.

The aim of the free healthcare movement is a state of affairs where healthcare is offered for free upon request to all. Since such an end cannot possibly be fulfilled through persuasion, forcible government intervention is the instrument with which the movement wishes to bring about this state. Our analysis cannot begin unless we are explicitly aware of the ends and the means of the free healthcare campaign. Now that this task is fulfilled, we may proceed.

If the aim of the free healthcare movement is to ensure that healthcare is free upon request, then this means that the aim of the free healthcare movement is a state of affairs where the price of healthcare is $0.00. Now healthcare is a sale-good that holds a high position on the value scales of many people. Any sale-good that holds a high position on the value scales of many people will probably not have a non-zero price; ergo, healthcare, in a free market, will probably not have a non-zero price.

Thus, in a free market, in order to realize the aim of free healthcare upon request, the free healthcare movement, via government, would have to reduce the price of healthcare to $0.00. According to the law of demand, if the price of a good decreases, then the quantity of that good demanded will either remain the same or increase. This occurs for two reasons. First, if the price of a good decreases, then the probability that it will enter the price ranges of more buyers increases. Second, if the price of a good decreases, then the probability that it will enter the additional-purchase price ranges of each buyer increases. The price of healthcare, like all prices, conforms to the law of demand, and since the demand for healthcare isn't too inelastic, its the case that as the price of healthcare decreases, the quantity of healthcare demanded increases.

If the government steps in and forcibly reduces the price of healthcare and therefore increases the quantity of healthcare demanded, then the quantity of healthcare supplied by healthcare providers will disappear. Prices do not merely affect the quantity of goods demanded; they also affect the quantity of goods supplied. According to the law of supply, if the price of a good decreases, then the quantity of that good supplied will either remain the same or decrease. Again, this occurs for two reasons. First, if the price of a good falls, then the probability that it will depart the price ranges of more sellers increases. Second, if the price of a good falls, then the probability that it will depart the additional-sale price ranges of each seller increases.

Thus, if the government forcibly reduces the price of healthcare to $0.00, then the quantity of healthcare demanded would skyrocket (what consumer would abandon free healthcare) and the quantity of healthcare supplied would enter the abyss (what healthcare provider would sell healthcare for free - they would go broke). At this point, the government has one of three options:

#1.) It can allow healthcare providers to fail to supply healthcare at the price of $0.00
#2.) It can enable healthcare providers to increase the quantity of healthcare supplied to match the rising quantity of healthcare demanded by paying them with tax dollars to produce healthcare
#3.) It can pay healthcare providers to increase the quantity of healthcare supplied but not to match the quantity supplied with the rising quantity demanded

Option #1

Adopting this option would completely prohibit the government from offering free healthcare upon request. If the price of healthcare dropped to $0.00, then the quantity of healthcare demanded would vastly exceed the quantity of healthcare supplied, causing a historic shortage. Healthcare would be as inexpensive as metaphysically possible but completely and permanently unavailable.

Option #2

Adopting this option would enable the government to prevent the onset of a healthcare shortage by equalizing quantity demanded and quantity supplied and therefore achieving equilibrium. However, the problem with this option is that given a healthcare price of $0.00, the quantity of healthcare demanded would soar. Thus, in order to equalize the quantity of healthcare supplied with the quantity of healthcare demanded and therefore achieve equilibrium, the government would have to finance the production of healthcare with tax dollars to match the quantity of healthcare demanded at the new price of $0.00. However, with the quantity of healthcare demanded at this price, such an undertaking would involve incurring tremendous, bankruptcy-inducing costs of production and would therefore be massively expensive to taxpayers.

Option #3

Adopting this option would allow the government to avoid the most severe mal-effects associated with options #1 and #2 but it certainly would not enable the government to avoid the mal-effects entirely. On the contrary, adopting option #3 would inexorably plague the healthcare system with both shortages and high costs of production. Whether the former becomes worse than the latter or not depends upon the direction in which the government takes option #3. Choosing option #3 and leaning towards option #1 i.e., allowing healthcare providers to only marginally increase the quantity of healthcare supplied, would allow the government to hedge against production costs, but an unbearable healthcare shortage would inevitably ensue. Choosing option #3 and leaning toward option #2 i.e., paying for an increase in the production of healthcare to approach the quantity of healthcare demanded, would allow the government to hedge against a shortage, but only by incurring unheard of production costs.

So, in conclusion, the following hypothetical argument sums up what I have argued above:

If the government forcibly reduces the price of healthcare to $0.00, then the quantity of healthcare demanded will skyrocket and the quantity of healthcare supplied will plummet. If the quantity of healthcare demanded skyrockets and the quantity of healthcare supplied plummets, then a suffocating shortage will ensue. If a suffocating shortage ensues, then the government can choose one of three options. If the government chooses option #1, then the suffocating shortage will continue. If the government chooses option #2, then the costs of producing healthcare will become frighteningly high. If the government chooses option #3, then a combination of a healthcare shortage and high production costs will appear, the severity of either depending upon the discretion of the government. Therefore, if the government forcibly reduces the price of healthcare to $0.00, then the healthcare system will be blighted by either an extreme shortage, or extreme costs of production, or less severe manifestations of both.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Current Mobilization of Hezbollah

Alarmingly, retired Major General Paul E. Vallely has suggested that the Lebanese Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah, a proxy of the Iranian government, is rapidly mobilizing in preparation for either a pre-emptive strike or a retaliatory strike against Israel.

In an interview conducted by Bill Whittle on PJTV, General Vallely argued that reports indicated that a Russian manufactured Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine, probably originating from the Baltic fleet, recently docked at Beirut, Lebanon while hoisting an Iranian flag and that "the off-loaders had gas masks on and hazmat gear indicating to me that some form of chemical weapons were being off-loaded from the submarine to the control of Hezbollah." Furthermore, Vallely claimed that recent reports indicated that advanced Scud missiles have been shipped from Syria to Hezbollah-controlled areas of southern Lebanon. According to Vallely, estimates of the quantity of missiles and rockets positioned within southern Lebanon place the number between 50,000 to 60,000. Moreover, Vallely cited the existence of tunnels, the Naqoura tunnels to be exact, that cross the northern Israeli border from southern Lebanon and that allow insurgents to penetrate into Israel.

According to J.E. Dyer, if Vallely's claim regarding the Baltic origination of the Kilo submarine is correct, then its probably the case that the submarine was a Kilo export model coming from Algeria. Dyer asserts that, "Algeria has two older Kilos from then-Soviet Russia, and in 2006 commissioned two new ones, of improved design (the Type 636 improvement on the old Type 877 Kilo)." He argues that the Kilo probably did
not originate from the 3-Kilo strong Iranian fleet because:

-An Iranian Kilo could not transit the Suez Canal undetected,
-An Iranian Kilo could not circumnavigate Africa without refueling (again, its a diesel-electric sub) and refueling would make the sub vulnerable to surveillance,
and
-Chances are the Iranian navy would not commit a third of its submarine naval force to conduct such a operation in the face of militarily safer alternatives; embarking upon such a mission would seriously reduce the ability of the Iranian navy to control the Persian Gulf in the event of a crisis.

The idea that the Russian government has been corroborating with the Iranian government to re-arm Hezbollah is entirely plausible, given the fact that the Kremlin has assisted the Iranians in the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant which is scheduled to go online this year.

This all makes for a potentially lethal confrontation that could, among other things, increase oil prices significantly.


-
Dyer, J. E. "Submarine Sneaks into Beirut? Why That’s Bad." Hot Air. 06 May 2010. Web. 13 May 2010.
http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2010/05/06/submarine-sneaks-into-beirut-why-that%E2%80%99s-bad/

-Former US General Warns of Chemical Attacks Against Israel
. PJTV. 06 May 2010. Web. 13 May 2010. http://www.pjtv.com/v/3505

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

For some odd reason, I can't access most of the links on my homepage, including both the "edit post" and "comment" links. When I scroll over them, the arrow refuses to change into a finger and hand. This includes the ads as well, even though I'm not trying to access them.

Muslim Student Confesses Her Anti-Semitism

...at a lecture given by David Horowitz at UCSD.

video

via Breitbart TV

Yaron Brook and Terry Jones on the BP Oil Spill Fiasco

See here.

The Radical Irrelevance of Elena Kagan's Academic Credentials

Recently, a fleet of pundits, mainstream media types, and politicians have, to the point of exhaustion, been overemphasizing the academic credentials of Solicitor General and new Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan in a vain attempt to prove the claim that she is genuinely qualified to be a justice of the Supreme Court. This is typical, for it indeed is the case that most pundits, mainstream media types, and politicians are people who are easily impressed by academic success.

However
, it has been and continues to be well understood by individualists that it certainly is not the case that stellar academic qualifications should be a sufficient condition for appointment to a position of significant power within government. Central planners may lack knowledge of market prices, sound economic theory, and business management but they rarely ever lack extensive academic accomplishments. Many are accredited mathematicians and statisticians. Yet, their scholastic proficiency hardly if ever prevents them from running economies into the ground. On the contrary, the possession of such official educational stature often serves as a source of hubris, enabling intellectuals to dangerously overestimate the extent of their aptitude.
The history of the Soviet Union is most philanthropic when it comes to the search for historical examples of academic folly in economic management by the state. The same applies to Ms. Kagan. I couldn't care less if she could write whole computer programs with the predicate calculus or price options contracts with differential formulae. If she isn't familiar with free-market economics, she's worse then useless.

The point is summed up within the following deductive argument:

-Excellent academic credentials is a qualification that does not necessarily prevent a person from using their governmental position to intervene in the economy or to endorse economic intervention

-Qualifications that do not necessarily prevent a person from using their governmental position to intervene in the economy or to endorse economic intervention are qualifications that should not be considered as sufficient conditions for appointment to positions of significant power within the government

-Therefore, excellent academic credentials is a qualification that should not be considered as a sufficient condition for an appointment to a position of significant power within the government

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Command Economy: Surging Forward into the Past

Charles Goyette explains why the command economy is inferior to the free market economy.

Is Healthcare a Basic Human Right?

Doug French thinks not.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ukraine and the Expansion of the Russian Government

Ukrainian citizens who thought the era of intervention from the Russian government was over are second guessing that notion this week.

According to Catherine Belton over at the Financial Times,
"Vladimir Putin has proposed the merger of Gazprom, the Russian state gas company, with Naftogaz, the Ukrainian state energy company, as part of its efforts to reintegrate the former Soviet republic’s economy following the election of Viktor Yanukovich, the pro-Moscow president."
This comes after the Ukrainian parliament ratified a 25-year time extension on Tuesday, April 27th to a lease contract the Ukrainian government has with the Russian government under which Russia's Black Sea Fleet may utilize the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol until 2017. Now the Fleet may remain at Sevastopol until 2042. In exchange for the time extension, the Kremlin, via Gazprom, has promised to cut the price of natural gas in the Ukraine by 30%. The deal had been brokered by President Yanukovich and President Medvedev

In addition to this, on Monday April 26th Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered yet another deal with the Ukrainian government "to establish a major holding, which would unite our generation, nuclear engineering and nuclear fuel cycles." According to Roman Olearchyk of the Financial Times, "The unexpected offer would produce a European nuclear giant based on the vast nuclear power industries inherited by both nations from the USSR."

These events alone should be sufficient to remove any doubts as to whether or not the Russian government is attempting to expand its influence throughout Ukraine, at the expense of the Ukrainian people of course. Take the lease-for-oil deal. At first glance, particularly from an economic perspective, the deal seems reasonable. As Tomas Valasek, director of foreign policy and defence at the Centre for European Reform, states,
"Ukraine’s economy is in deep trouble (it contracted by 12 per cent in 2009), and Kiev’s policy of subsidising domestic gas sales is breaking the treasury. It seems like a simple calculation: why not give Russia something it already has (the right to station forces in Ukraine) in return for something the country badly needs (cheaper gas)?"
Well, if a decrease in the price of natural gas is an end sought by President Yanukovich, then there are far superior alternative means towards the fulfillment of that end. First of all, Ukraine contains a great deal of natural gas itself. As the U.S. Energy Information Administration states, "According to the Oil and Gas Journal Ukraine has roughly 40 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas reserves, from which roughly 0.68 Tcf was produced in 2005." Thus, the price of natural gas in Ukraine can be reduced by exploiting those reserves and increasing the supply. Furthermore, if reserves dwindle from production, then surely it's the case that different goods can be introduced as substitutes since extracted natural gas isn't the only factor that can produce electricity and heat.

Substitutes for natural gas increase the elasticity of the demand for natural gas. As the elasticity of natural gas increases, the degree to which the quantity of natural gas demanded will change in response to a change in the price of natural gas increases. Thus, with an increase in substitutibility and therefore elasticity, the high price of natural gas will shift money and therefore demand away from natural gas and into the natural gas substitutes, increasing the demand and therefore the prices of those goods. If the prices of the natural gas substitutes are sufficiently low to begin with, then large-scale substitution can serve to expose demanders of heat and electricity to lower prices.

Oil is a substitute for gas. Coal is a substitute as well, a commodity in plentiful supply in Ukraine. Substitute natural gas (SNG) can be produced from lignite coal and, according to BP, Ukraine contains 17,829 teragrams of subbituminous and lignite coal. The Ukraine need not focus on consuming one primary fossil fuel.

As a matter of fact, Ukraine need not resort exclusively to hydrocarbons. Nuclear power is (in addition to being my personal favorite source of energy) not unavailable to the Ukrainians. The country contains its own uranium deposits as well as 15 operating reactors producing half of its electricity, so its obviously not a nuclear-adverse nation, even with its troubling past with Soviet reactors. Why not add additional reactors?

These suggestions raise many questions however?

How can natural gas production increase in the Ukraine? How can the production of substitutes begin as well, especially nuclear power?

The cause of Ukraine's destitution, aside from years of grinding economic abjection as a member of the Soviet Union, is its spectacular lack of economic freedom. According to the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom,
"Ukraine’s economic freedom score is 46.4, making its economy the 162nd freest in the 2010 Index [out of 179]. Its score is 2.4 points lower than last year, reflecting reduced scores in six of the 10 economic freedoms. Ukraine is ranked 43rd out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is lower than the world average."
According to the Index, Ukraine suffers from a severe lack of business, financial, and labour freedom, exorbitant government spending, rising inflation, and an abysmal lack of governmental respect for private property rights. According to Transparency International, Ukraine also suffers from prolonged corruption, ranking 134th out of 179 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index of 2008. But, most importantly, Ukraine's investment freedom is its worst category. According to the Index,
"The laws provide equal treatment for foreign investors, but certain sectors are restricted or barred. Burdensome bureaucracy and regulations are the primary deterrents to investment. Contracts are not always upheld by the legal system, and privatization has slowed. Resident and non-resident foreign exchange accounts may be subject to restrictions and government approval. Payments and transfers are subject to various requirements and quantitative limits. Some capital transactions are subject to controls and licenses. Foreign investors may not own farmland."
These are the very things that ensure Ukraine's continued stagnation, especially its miserable investment freedom. It cannot be overemphasized that Ukraine requires foreign investment in order to finance increases in gas production as well substitute production; economic freedom is a necessary condition for large-scale investment. Foreign investors will not distribute scarce financial capital to enterprises within economically inhospitable environments, let alone foreign economically inhospitable environments. Ukraine's price controls, capital controls, bureaucratic and regulatory atmosphere, and uncertainty regarding protection of private property and contractual agreement, seriously constrain the profitability of Ukrainian undertakings, and therefore, firmly delimit the amount of foreign investment money it receives.

Moreover, economic freedom would enable nuclear power firms to operate in the Ukraine, offering both electricity and jobs to the Ukrainian economy. Unfortunately, given the nature of the Russian government and its new nuclear proposal, the future of foreign investment into nuclear power in the Ukraine is at best uncertain.

Now, if the Gazprom-Naftogaz merger occurs as well as the nuclear cooperation between both governments, the Kremlin will further its ability to assert itself in Ukraine as well as Europe by possessing greater control over the distribution of natural gas.


-Belton, Catherine, and Roman Olearchyk. "Anger in Kiev at Putin Gas Merger Proposal." Financial Times. 30 Apr. 2010. Web. 02 May 2010.

-
"BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2007." British Petroleum. 22 Oct. 2007. Web. 02 May 2010.


-Harding, Luke. "Eggs and Fists Fly in Parliament as Russia given New Naval Base Lease | World News | The Observer." The Guardian. 02 May 2010. Web. 02 May 2010.

-Olearchyk, Roman. "Russia Offers Kiev Nuclear Deal." Financial Times. 27 Apr. 2010. Web. 02 May 2010.

-"Ukraine Information on Economic Freedom | Facts, Data, Analysis, Charts and More." 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. 2010. Web. 02 May 2010.

-
"Ukraine." U.S. Energy Information Administration: Independent Statistics and Analysis. Aug. 2007. Web. 02 May 2010. .

-Valasek, Tomas. "A Bad Deal for Ukraine and Yanukovich." Financial Times. 27 Apr. 2010. Web. 02 May 2010.



Saturday, May 1, 2010

Right to Healthcare = Right to Enslave

Lately, I have been feuding with a few associates over the issue of the concept of a "right to healthcare." I argue that such a "right" implies a right to enslave another or to have another enslaved; my associates think that such a proposition is preposterous. I've noticed that formalism (and provocative titles) in arguments work well to settle disputes, so here it goes.

When people argue that they have a right to healthcare, what they mean is that they believe they possess a legitimate claim to healthcare, that healthcare is due to them. However, healthcare is not a superabundant substance like air; healthcare is a scarce means. All scarce means require, among other things, human labour for their existence. Ergo, healthcare is something that requires human labour for its existence. In other words, human labour is a necessary cause of healthcare.

An effect cannot exist without the co-operation of all of its necessary causes. Healthcare is an effect; therefore, healthcare cannot exist without the co-operation of all of its necessary causes. If x is a necessary cause of y, then y never occurs without x. Human labour is a necessary cause of healthcare; therefore, healthcare never occurs without human labour.

Furthermore, a genuine right to healthcare is something that enables someone to acquire healthcare. Something that enables someone to acquire healthcare is something that enables someone to effectively demand the co-operation of the necessary causes of healthcare; therefore, a genuine right to healthcare is something that enables someone to effectively demand the co-operation of the necessary causes of healthcare.

Human labour is a necessary cause of healthcare. All necessary causes of healthcare are things that those with a genuine right to healthcare can legally and forcibly demand the co-operation of to provide healthcare for themselves as recipients. Thus, human labour is something that those with a genuine right to healthcare can legally and forcibly demand the co-operation of to provide healthcare for themselves as recipients.

If a genuine right to healthcare is something that enables someone to legally and forcibly demand the co-operation of another's human labour, then such a right is something that enables someone to legally impose involuntary servitude upon another or to have involuntary servitude legally imposed upon another, since anything that enables someone to legally and forcibly demand the co-operation of another's human labour is something that enables someone to legally impose involuntary servitude upon another or to have involuntary servitude legally imposed upon another.

To legally and forcibly demand the co-operation of another's human labour is to legally impose involuntary servitude upon another or to have involuntary servitude legally imposed upon another. To legally impose involuntary servitude upon another or to have involuntary servitude legally imposed upon another is to enslave another or to have slavery imposed upon another by law. Thus, to legally and forcibly demand the co-operation of another's human labour is to enslave another or to have slavery imposed upon another by law (provided that the recipient of such force is not a criminal aggressor - if he or she is, then acts of force aimed against him or her like imprisonment or the levying of compensatory fines are not acts of enslavement but acts of coercive justice).

A genuine right to healthcare is something that enables someone to legally and forcibly demand the co-operation of another's human labour. Anything that enables someone to legally and forcibly demand the co-operation of another's human labour is something that enables someone to enslave another or to have slavery imposed upon another by law. Hence, a genuine right to healthcare is something that enables someone to enslave another or to have slavery imposed upon another by law.

Voila!