Saturday, February 28, 2009

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff 16

Why Not Just Ban Death?
Two Texas legislators--Rep. Myra Crownover and Sen. Rodney Ellis--have introduced bills to ban smoking in all "public" facilities, including workplaces and restaurants. (Just to prove that neither party has a monopoly on pandering, Crownover is a Republican and Ellis is a Democrat.)

In an OpEd that appeared in last Sunday's Chronicle, the bill's authors claim:

When this legislation becomes law, Texas workers no longer will have to choose between their health and their paycheck.

Since when has anyone had to make such a choice? The last I heard, there are millions of jobs in Texas. If someone doesn't like the conditions in one workplace he can go get another job. This of course, requires individual responsibility, a trait that seems to be disappearing faster than ink at the U.S. Treasury.

If I Were Mayor
Also last Sunday, reigning Houston Mayor Bill White addressed the city's animal shelter in a letter in the Chronicle:

Though we increased the budget on Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care by 33 percent and made improvements, some of the recommendations of my citizens' task force have not been implemented.

Several concrete actions will be undertaken this year: We will dedicate more public funds and solicit more private funds for an attractive, centrally located adoption facility; increase spay-and-neuter services; and add staff to enlist volunteers. We will not neglect existing programs dealing with vicious animals and animal diseases.

Caring for unwanted animals is not a proper function of government. Protecting individual rights is the only legitimate purpose of government. It is immoral to take money from some individuals to give to others; it is more so to use that money for animals.

If I were Mayor, we'd be slashing the budget for animal regulation and care. That entire department would go away, quickly. (And before I can be accused of being an insensitive, animal hating ogre, I have three cats and all were strays.)

Where is My Money?
It seems that every time I turn on the news, which is increasingly rare, I hear another story about someone whining about their problems and complaining that they can't do anything until they get money from Washington.

I have had a splinter in my index finger for weeks. I can't afford tweezers and a magnifying glass, and it looks like my finger is getting infected. It has become increasingly painful to type, and if Washington doesn't help me soon, I might have to find some news reporter to air my plight. I am sure that there are thousands, if not millions who share this horrible agony, and if we fight together we can overcome this insensitivity.

One Little Victory
As mentioned by Gus Van Horn this week, the city of Houston proposed helping potential home buyers clean up their credit so that they can qualify for a mortgage. Following what appears to be massive outrage (locally and nationally), the proposal was pulled. The Chronicle reported:

Mayor Bill White this afternoon announced that a plan for the city to pay off some debts for first-time home buyers has been pulled from tomorrow's City Council agenda. Council members are now professing their "embarrassment" about the proposal, which has hit the national news circuit, including

"This issue has hit a nerve across this country," said Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck. "Not just here in the city of Houston. Giving people the ability to increase their credit score artificially because we're allowing them to pay off their credit cards is exactly what got us into this (national economic) crisis in the first place."

While this could qualify as a victory, it is puny in the grand scope of things. The budget for this proposed program was $444,000, which will undoubtedly be spent on some other injustice. I imagine the Mayor will just be a little more diplomatic about it next time.

The Moral is the Practical
Brian Shelley, writing at Freedom is the Solution, tells a very interesting story about his boys. He has instituted property rights regarding their toys, their rooms, and indeed the entire house. While he doesn't explicitly state the results, he implies that they have been favorable.

In a broader context, Brian questions whether property rights will lead to a moral society. I would answer with an emphatic "yes".

A moral society is one in which the initiation of force is prohibited. Individuals interact by consent and with the voluntary cooperation of all involved. This is precisely what property rights make possible.

The right to property is the right of use and disposal. The owner controls its "destiny". The owner decides how his property is used, who may use, the terms of use, etc. Others may not use his property without his consent, and he may not use their property without their consent. In other words, an individual may not obtain or use the property of another without the consent of the owner--force may not be used.

This is precisely what Brian is fostering. His children must respect the rights of others, including the parents. The respective rights of each party are clearly stated, and any interactions are consensual. The practical results the family is experiencing is the result of engaging in moral behavior.

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