Legal Plunder

This short video is both entertaining and educational. I apologize in advance if it upsets certain of our more liberal friends (in the modern, not classical liberal, sense):


Steve Buckstein is founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 12:12 | Posted in Economy | Tagged , | 363 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    Churches and charities used to serve a major role in helping direct the assisting of those folks in financial straights.  But somewhere along the line they abdicated this communal role to government.  Now Churches act more like an arm of government, selling guilt about having earned material well being and even going so far as to promote government’s new religious “green” order.

    One recent phenomenon I find irritating is seeing government heavily subsidize a neighbor’s roof top solar system at the tune of tens of thousands of dollars which only makes economic sense in the land of Oz.  Luckily it looks like this robbery is being pulled back.  Then there’s folks riding around on streetcars who effectively don’t have to pay anything towards their conveyance; and even when they pay fare, it amounts to less than 20% of the total all in cost of their conveyance. 

    Reminds me of the old saying:  “Don’t steal.  The government doesn’t like the competition.”

    • 3H

      “Now Churches act more like an arm of government, selling guilt about having earned material well being…”

      I think various Churches have long preached against ostentatious wealth (see what a difference a phrase makes!).    Even the Bible stuck it to the rich: 

      “Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:24-25.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      I have a seriously hard time seeing much reason morally not to throw a rock through a neighbors solar panel system built with the sort of subsidies you mention.

      The main motivation for such constructions is financial – the government subsidy which entitles the solar panel owner to sell back the electricity at a higher rate. You, the neighbor, now have to pay for. It is straightforward theft.

      There is not a lot of difference between your neighbor having those solar panels installed, and his purchase of a lock pick set to enable him to stop by and rob you each month.

      I do not advocate the destruction of such solar panels, I just would see absolutely no moral wrong in someone doing so and would quite possibly see it as morally good.

      • just doing the math

        I have a comment for Bob and Rupert.

        You both have access to those same government subsidies should you choose
        to use them. Does not mean I agree with the subsidies, just means you both
        have the opportunity to take advantage of that subsidy should you decide to
        put one of those high theft items on your roof.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          Id imagine thats what the person with a couple of lap tops under their arm is thinking when they follow a looter with a flat screen out of a store during a riot. He’s ripping people off, might as well join in.

          • just doing the math

            Once again, you are not really reading my very short post.

            So, are you against all subsidies? Or do you just like to argue for
            arguments sake.

          • Founding Fathers

            He’s just overdue for a visit to the neuro-proctologist.

      • valley dude

        Check your facts. Only a few homeowners with solar collectors are allowed into the program that lets them sell back electricity at a higher than market rate. Most are not in that program.

        You don’t see any moral wrong in breaking the law and destroying someone elses property? I guess that says a lot about your morals.  

        But if you really feel that way, then you would not object if someone from outside Springfield takes a cable cutter (hopefully not while grounded) to
        the power line from the socialized public utility that brings taxpayer
        subsidized federally generated electricity to your home and business. Then perhaps you can buy some solar panels, forgo both subsidies and return to being smug, but this time with a clean conscience.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          >Check your facts. Only a few homeowners with solar collectors are
          allowed into the program that lets them sell back electricity at a
          higher than market rate. Most are not in that program.

          More like check your reading, Mr. Clark was speaking directly to those panels and I was replying.

          Yet again, and for the millionth time, please read what the hell you are responding to before commenting. It might not make your argument any better, but it would save you from making dopey mistakes like this time and time again.

          >You don’t see any moral wrong in breaking the law and destroying someone elses property?

          If its majority subsidized by others and its sole purpose is to raise my rates to lower theirs, then not only do I not see it as wrong, I dont even see it as their property.

          >But if you really feel that way, then you would not object if someone from outside Springfield takes a cable cutter

          Bad comparison, as the electric lines were not put up with the sole purpose of raising my rates to lower those of another. The solar panels in question are.

          >that brings taxpayer
          subsidized federally generated electricity to your home and business

          First of all Id be the first to vote for privatization of the BPA and you would be the first against it, so your subsidized power argument is ridiculous.

          Second the argument is invalid as I am not permitted to buy electricity from anyone else. If I were you might have an argument, since I am not, and I am forced to buy power from a single entity, there is no moral wrong as government has left me no choice to accept the power, subsidized or not.

          >Then perhaps you can buy some solar panels, forgo both subsidies and
          return to being smug, but this time with a clean conscience.

          My conscience is probably a lot cleaner than yours. After all, I dont make my living off these scams as you do.

          • valley dude

            I think yet again, for the millionth time, you need to check your own reading. Mr Clark did not differentiate between solar programs that have a surplus sell back provision versus those that do not, and the vast majority of rooftop collectors have no sell back provision.  So be careful where you encourage people to cast their stones.

            Anyway I’m glad you clarified your moral position for us. You just crossed over the thin line the separates a libertarian and an anarchist by claiming you get to decide who really owns what.  Congratulations. You are now much further left than I am. Its a good thing you are near Eugene. You can probably some find space in an anarchist collective in the Whittaker neighborhood. Please post the youtubes of your group conversations for us. But you will need a new moniker. I mean. “Rupert from Springfield” will not do at all. How about “The Raised Fist” or “Che’s Revenge”? That should get you some props with the homies.

            “Bad comparison, as the electric lines were not put up with the sole
            purpose of raising my rates to lower those of another. The solar panels
            in question are.”

            You really should have studied law Rupert, or gone into politics. You have mastered the art of dissembling. Your socialist public utility gets preferential rates to purchase power provided by dams built by the federal government paid for by taxpayers from Nebraska to New Hampshire to yes…Portland. My private utility has to pay higher rates and is second in line for that energy, so I am in effect subsidizing you. We other Americans who are subsidizing your electricity are coerced into doing so by government thugs. And since your business is an energy hog, you should be sending a check from your profits back to the government in proportion to your subsidy, or better yet, send it to me and I will dole it out. Either that or move your business to a state that has only a private utility system that burns energy not subsidized by any taxpayers anywhere. And good luck finding that.

            You are not permitted to buy electricity from anyone else, but you are permitted to build and install your own collectors, forgoing all subsidies, and then unhook from the grid. Practice what you preach or stop preaching. You don’t have enough of a conscience to be clean. And since I’m not the one preaching about the evil of subsidies, its not my issue is it?

            You make your living off of subsidized energy. Deal with it. Get off the needle. You can do it if you really want to.

          • just doing the math

            Here, here. Now that was an articulate literary tongue lashing.

          • valley dude

            Its like he begged me for it. Must be masochistic.

          • Founding Fathers

            “If its [sic] majority subsidized by others and its sole purpose is to raise
            my rates to lower theirs, then not only do I not see it as wrong, I
            dont [sic] even see it as their property.”

            So, by that reasoning it would be okay to vandalize private companies that receive government subsidies, which includes almost all large companies.

            Amazing.

            So much for righties being for “law and order”.

  • Jess

    Isn’t the government also partly responsible for educating children, producing a largely educated workforce & a middle class that can afford to consume any products you may want to sell them? Capitalism does not produce the largest middle class in the history of the world all on its lonesome & without wearing a harness. For sure its a shared responsibility, but Libertarians forget that capitalism also brings us the company town & slavery. Honest Classical Liberals will agree that we needed the intervention of the state to put an end to slavery. No man or company is an island, which sucks in a way, but is a nice thought too when you remember that you or your business wouldn’t be in such a fertile, usually stable environment if it weren’t for shared responsibility that sometimes is best distributed by government. I’m sure most of our fathers or grandfathers were helped by the GI Bill, correct? I’d like to see you publish a post where we hear a good thing government has been involved with. There’s a role for government to play, so give us an educated example of what you find to be good governmental intervention?

    • Rupert in Springfield

      Ahh, good old slavery. I think I will  never understand this line of argument. Somehow advocating for limited government means you are advocating for no government and that means you are advocating for slavery. I think this stems from the weird notion a lot of modern liberals have of themselves, that somehow without them we would still have slavery in this country.

      At any rate, this is always a pretty easy argument to put to rest. Its a two statement iteration and you are done. Here we go:

      Yes government action in large part was responsible for the end of slavery.

      That’s a good thing, because government sanction was necessary for it to remain in place from the outset.

      Pretty simple huh?

      Since more people have been enslaved through government sanction or through direct government action, government has unique responsibility to end this wrong when it is encountered. Thus to argue government is the restriction on slavery, without which it would be commonplace, is to argue the exact inverse of that which history has shown to be true.

      • valley dude

        The video on Bastiat gives no indication that the creators believe there is any role for government whatsoever other than possibly protecting private property. Slaves were private property for many centuries worldwide, and were built into the US constitution. So do the math Rupert.

        “Yes government action in large part was responsible for the end of slavery.”

        In large part? It took a war to pry slaves loose from their masters, and a constitutional amendment to forever ban the private sector from owning people. A taxpayer funded war using conscript soldiers, but never mind that.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          >he video on Bastiat gives no indication that the creators believe there
          is any role for government whatsoever other than possibly protecting
          private property.

          And it gives no indication they are against all government either.

          >Slaves were private property for many centuries worldwide, and were built into the US constitution. So do the math Rupert.
          Again, this is why I really think you could be certified as a clinical idiot. This is exactly what I was arguiing,. government action has enabled slavery as well as rejected it.

          >In large part? It took a war to pry slaves loose from their masters, and
          a constitutional amendment to forever ban the private sector from
          owning people. A taxpayer funded war using conscript soldiers, but never
          mind that.

          I wont “mind it”, since its what I stated you blithering idiot.

          • valley dude

            “And it gives no indication they are against all government either.”

            Not unless saying that government taxation amounts to thievery indicates they are against all government.   But I guess it takes a less constrained mind to draw an obvious inference.

            “government action has enabled slavery as well as rejected it.”

            In the US it was the private sector that insisted on the constitutional right to own people and make them work for no pay. The public sector did not own slaves.  It only “enabled” the private sector in one part of the new nation because that was the price for a union of states.  

            You stated “in large part.” I’m saying it was in total part, and it took the very means that the video suggests amount to thievery. To qualify as a blithering idiot would be a step up in your case. 

    • Steve Buckstein

      “I’d like to see you publish a post where we hear a good thing government
      has been involved with. There’s a role for government to play, so give
      us an educated example of what you find to be good governmental
      intervention?”

      You can see plenty of (questionable) examples at blueoregon.com. Seriously, I would point to the times that government protects our lives, liberty and property. We can quibble forever about the details, but when government moves beyond protecting our rights it gets into questionable territory.

      • valley dude

        Define “lives, liberty and property.” For example, does protecting our lives include inspecting food for safety, setting standards for food handling, preventing pollution of water we drink, treating sewage (which prevents cholera among other things,) and making us wear seat belts and have air bags in our cars? All of the above is in the name of protecting our lives right?

        And what about our “health”. Since health and life are a continuum (really bad health = death), does government have a role in helping us stay healthy? 

        Does government have any role in seeing that citizens are educated? One could make an indirect case that education and health and even liberty are linked, but maybe not directly. Would you leave education out of government Steve?

        • Steve Buckstein

          Sorry to open the life, liberty and property can of worms. The questions are endless, of course. So, I’ll just address your last one here. Would I leave education out of government? Yes. I believe separation of education and state is just as important as separating church and state. That said, no need to remind me that it won’t ever happen in our lifetimes. But I will continue trying to move in that direction and provide more choices than the government school system allows.

          • valley dude

            I think having more choices is generally good, but also having expectations are essential. A nation of illiterates would not have much property or freedom worth defending.

          • Steve Buckstein

            Agreed, having expectations is important. The question is, whose expectations? Expectations of the state, or of the parents and students? 

            America was a relatively educated, literate country well before government had any significant involvement in education.

          • valley dude

            Expectations of the federal and state governments, the parents, the students (once they are old enough to have a say) and local communities. 

            I’m not sure what you mean by before government involvement or “well educated.” Half the states had public education systems in place by 1790. The first public secondary school in the nation was established in 1635. Still, before there was compulsery attendence only 6% of Americans graduated from high school (as recently as 1900). Ok for a still rural, manual labor economy. Not much good in a modern economy that requires a high level of education and training to remain productive. 

            Today, other than being born lucky education is the best ticket out of poverty, not to mention ignorance. Of course, who needs it when we have talk radio?

          • Steve Buckstein

            Rather than repeat what has been written well by others, I’ll direct anyone interested to a section of Sheldon Richmond’s book, “Separating School & State: How To Liberate
            American Families” in which he discusses the private education system in early America and how the public school system arose not because of that system’s failures, but for different reasons entirely.  Enjoy…

            https://www.sntp.net/education/school_state_3.htm

          • valley dude

            Libertarian crackpot history based on a logical fllacy. Germans were first to universal compulsery education. Germans = Prussians. Prussians = militarists. Compulsery education = militarism.

            Post hoc ergo proctor hoc. 

          • Emm3tt Hall

            Are you sure of that?   And I suspect that was before the industrial revolution in this country and the urbanization of a majority of the population.  If you can find a way to stuff that genie back into the bottle, I will nominate you for a Nobel Prize… all of them.  😉

          • Steve Buckstein

            See my response to valley dude just above.

          • 3H

            If you separate education and the state – how do you propose to deal with the inequality of access to education?   Not that we do a great job now, but I can’t imagine how it would get better removing government from the equation.  How will those hovering around the poverty level have access to even a basic education?

          • Steve Buckstein

            Again, see my response to valley dude just above.

  • valley dude

    I guess if Bastiat says so then it must be so.

    Don’t you guys ever feel just a step or 2 out of reality? 

    • FL

      “Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.” Frank Leahy

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