In the many discussions I’ve been in where I’ve argued against capital hiring labor and in favor of labor hiring capital, inevitably someone poses a question like the following:

“This contract [wherein labor hires capital] can say just about anything, stipulating how the capital is used down to any detail. How is this different from an employment contract?”

Well, if the details in question go as far as being functionally identical to employment, it wouldn’t be very different. In fact, it would be an employment contract. What makes a contract an employment contract isn’t that the words “Employment Contract” are written at the top. What a contract is or isn’t is going to be a matter of the reality of the situation it brings about. So if employment contracts are not seen as valid contracts in a given society, then they can’t “say just about anything, stipulating how the capital is used down to any detail.” It’s not about avoiding the “magic words” but about actually eliminating the renting of people, explicitly or through legal gamesmanship.


Eight Pounds Lighter

August 16, 2011

From the transcript of Ron Paul’s interview with Piers Morgan last night:

On abortion, I just recognition [sic] as a physician and scientist that life does exist prior to birth. There is a legal right to it and there is a biological definition of it. And most people don’t think about it, that if you say the woman has a right to do what she wants with her body and what is in her body, that means that an eight-pound baby a month before birth can be destroyed and the doctor be paid for it.*

There is something awfully bizarre about a society that says oh, that’s OK because it’s a woman’s body. And every argument for all abortion endorses the principle that you can take that life and abort it and kill it. And I had to witness this. It’s very, very disturbing.

So I think that somebody has to speak for the meek and the small. And they do have legal rights. If you’re in a car accident and a woman’s pregnant and her baby dies, you’re — this is homicide. You’ve committed a very serious crime. You killed a life.

So, this whole thing that is simple to woman’s right to do what she wants with her own body — no, you have to deal with the fact. You have to decide is there a real life there? And there is a real life there.

I’m liable as a physician. If a woman comes in and if she’s a week pregnant or 10 months, pregnant, or was eight, nine months pregnant — if I do something wrong, rightfully, so I can be liable for injuring the fetus. So, if I give her the wrong medication, I’m liable for this.

To pretend that life doesn’t exist, that’s like putting blinders on.

And I don’t talk a whole lot about it. But I’ve made the emphasis the other day that if you truly care about liberty, you have to understand life because how can I defend a woman’s or any individual’s right to lead their own life as they choose and even do dumb things and drink raw milk or whatever they want to do, at the same time say that life is not precious?

And we can throw away a life even if it weighs eight pounds because it’s within the woman’s body.

I believe in property rights. I believe that a baby in a crib deserves protection, even though I honor property. And a house is our castle.

But nobody, nobody would say oh, a woman after the baby’s born, we can kill it. And today, we have this — all these abortions. But if a young girl is in a desperate situation and she happens to deliver her baby and kills it, she is arrested immediately. But if she had done it a day before, there was no crime and the doctor gets paid money.

That — even if you divorce this all from the law and enforcement of law, but morality. Our society has to decide whether that’s morally right or wrong in dealing with this.

I have high respect for life. Therefore I have high respect for liberty. And it’s hard to separate the two.

I’m going to defer to Paul’s experience “as a physician and scientist that life does exist prior to birth” and then I’m going to explain why that doesn’t matter at all when it comes to whether or not women have the right to abort a pregnancy on demand and without apology. In fact, I’ll even raise the stakes and say that we know for a fact that the baby (yes, ‘baby’, since we’re accepting Paul’s premise for now) will grow up to cure cancer and bring about total world peace.

[TRIGGER WARNING for descriptions of hypothetical rape.] Read the rest of this entry »

Counter Culture

May 23, 2010

Allison Kilkenny writes:

The free market can’t provide solutions to many social problems. As Oliver Willis (sarcastically) put it, “instead of boycotting [the] bus, rosa parks should have been an entrepreneur and started her own bus service. let the market decide.” Therein lies the problem with Libertarian [sic] philosophy. Social minorities aren’t in a position to start their own businesses, and they are frequently at the mercy of state and private business policies. We can’t all be the CEO of BP. Most people live on the other end of the social spectrum, like the poor fishermen, standing on the Louisiana coast, waiting for the oil to hit the shore.

First things first. Repeat after me: Rand Paul is not a libertarian (or a big-L Libertarian, for that matter).

Next, a history lesson. Rosa Parks was standing up to state laws, not the bus company per se. It was precisely the existence of the government’s laws that prevented the free market from having any chance of working in this case. Read the rest of this entry »

Rape, OK!

May 13, 2010

TRIGGER WARNING This post and its links contain information about sexual assault and/or violence against women which may be triggering to survivors. Read the rest of this entry »

Pissed Off

April 30, 2010

The government will fall that raises the price of beer. – Czech proverb

When you invite the whole world to your party, inevitably someone pees in the beer. – Xeni Jardin

The Lost Abbey tasting room is literally an oasis in the desert. They are no joke and one of  only two breweries (along with Stone) to have two beers on Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s list of the top 25 beers of 2009. The San Diego area has 33 breweries, part of what makes it Men’s Journal’s top pick for American beer towns (Portland has a mere 29). Yes, it’s good to live in San Diego.

What was I saying before this turned into a tourism ad? Oh, yes. The tasting room. A dollar doesn’t get you much these days, but in their tasting room, “it’ll get ya drunk” on a seriously generous serving (4 oz.) of high-ABV beer of outstanding craftsmanship; full pints are a bank-breaking $4. It’s a ridiculous deal in a wonderful atmosphere, right among the barrels, tanks and attendant smells of a working brewery.

It was a good deal; then the state showed up to put a stop to it. The frustration, anger, and raw emotion expressed in this post makes for a breathtaking read. There isn’t much more to say. But I’ll say it anyway. Read the rest of this entry »


April 28, 2010

Today, I starting going through old draft blog posts that died on the vine; a little spring pruning. If there is anything worth saving from the trash folder, I might even publish it. The following passage is one such worthy clip. The strange thing is that I can’t for the life of me recall if (a) it’s a quote from someone else, (b) it’s a paraphrase of someone else’s idea that I read somewhere sometime, or (c) I wrote it my own damn self. (c) seems highly unlikely given that, you know, I don’t remember developing the thought. I was either in so much of a hurry that I didn’t write down the source or I had a moment of clarity that is totally alien to me now that I read it months later. Oh well. Here it is. If you know what it’s from (if it’s from anything), please let me know. My apologies to the clever individual responsible. If it turns out to be me, I’m sure my memory will return post-haste….unless you hate it.

Public goods theory states that non-rivalrous and non-excludable goods (e.g. governance) will be underproduced on a free market. In order to correct this underproduction, the government must step in and coerce free riders into paying, thus assuring adequate funding for the public good.

The consent theory of political obligation says that citizens’ duty to obey the law and the government’s authority are derived from the voluntary agreement of the citizens to be ruled by the government.

One of these theories must be wrong:

If public goods theory is true, then consent theory must be false — if the government coerces free riders, then they cannot consent.

If consent theory is true, then public goods theory must be false — if people fund government voluntarily, then there is no free rider problem.

I can think of a few objections. Can governance be considered a public good, in whole or in part, even in light of private production of law codes? It seems the resulting peace and civility promised would be. Is it necessarily the case that universal voluntary funding doesn’t underproduce governance? So perhaps it’s better to say not that public good theory per se is false if consent theory is true but rather that the prescription for what government should do would, by norm, have to be blocked. Well, FWIW…

Poetic Justice

February 18, 2010

I’m a screenwriter in New York City, and am writing to see if you might be willing to assist me in a project that involves a unique constitutional issue.

My latest screenplay is a comedy about Maine seceding from the United States and joining Canada. There are parts of the story that deal with the legality of such an event and, of course, a big showdown in the Supreme Court is part of the story.

At the moment my story is a 12 page treatment. As an architect turned screenwriter, it is fair to say that I come up a bit short in the art of Supreme Court advocacy. If you could spare a few moments on a serious subject that is treated in a comedic way, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts. I’m sure you’ll find the story very entertaining.

Daniel Turkewitz, writing to each of the 10 Supreme Court justices

Dear Mr. Turkewitz:

I am afraid I cannot be of much help with your problem, principally because I cannot imagine that such a question could ever reach the Supreme Court. To begin with, the answer is clear. If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede. (Hence, in the Pledge of Allegiance, “one Nation, indivisible.”) Secondly, I find it difficult to envision who the parties to this lawsuit might be. Is the State suing the United States for a declaratory judgment? But the United States cannot be sued without its consent, and it has not consented to this sort of suit.

I am sure that poetic license can overcome all that — but you do not need legal advice for that. Good luck with your screenplay.


Justice Antonin Scalia

Dan, you’re asking for advice from the wrong guy; try this guy.

IP Freely

February 3, 2010

Geo-Mutualist Jock Coats has produced an audiobook version of Stephan Kinsella’s Against Intellectual Property.

Who Dat Say Who Dat?

January 29, 2010

Any unauthorized use of the Saints colors and other [marks] designed to create the illusion of an affiliation with the Saints is equally a violation of the Saints trademark rights because it allows a third party to ‘free ride’ by profiting from confusion of the team’s fans, who want to show support for the Saints.

NFL spokesman Dan Masonson

If ‘who dat’ is used in a manner to refer to Saints football, then the Saints own the rights.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy

The basic idea of trademark as it developed in the common law is that someone cannot use the mark of another if it is confusingly similar to the mark of that other party. Now as I noted in the linked pieces above, the primary right should be the right of the consumer, not the trademark holder, and it should be more explicitly anchored in the notion of fraud–but you can see that the idea of “confusingly similar” is more or less related to the idea of fraud: if the competitor’s mark is so similar that it will confuse the consumer, it’s arguable the competitor is defrauding the consumer. But this has nothing to do with “dilution.” It’s focused on misleading the consumer (note that a clearer focus on this, and making it clear that the consumer, not the trademark holder, is the plaintiff, would not prohibit knockoffs such as cheap Rolex watches or Louis Vuitton purses, since in these cases the consumer is not defrauded or misled at all).

Stephan Kinsella, author of Against Intellectual Property.

Because it is already so anchored, there is no need for anyone – the NFL or the fans – to claim ownership¹. Read the rest of this entry »

I work in a second-floor office suite accessible only by stairs. It would be unfortunate for you if you needed wheelchair access to our office but there is neither any reason why such access would be anyone’s right nor is it a law that we provide that access. Understandably, the owner of the building opted not to install a $40,000 elevator on the outside of the building.


Regulation FAIL!

Now follow me in your mind to the inside of our beautiful suite. If you turn right after walking through the front door, you will come to another small set of stairs taking you from the upper to the lower level of a split-level design. The lower level contains the kitchen and a pair of bathrooms. On your way down, you will notice an odd white monstrosity on the other side of the banister, emblazoned with a large sticker that reads “Porch-Lift” and the international symbol for wheelchair access. Max load: 750 lbs, one person. Do not use for freight or storage.

Why on Earth would the owner install this $7,000 wheelchair lift when there is no way (short of carrying the hypothetical 750lb. wheelchair-bound individual up a flight of stairs from the street) – or legal requirement – for someone in a wheelchair to even get into the suite in the first place? Is the owner mad? Eccentric? Simply poor at reasoning? Read the rest of this entry »