Thursday, February 01, 2007

Usually I refrain from speaking ill of the recently deceased, but

Molly Ivins has died at 62 from cancer. Ding dong, the bitch is dead.

As you can tell, I'm all choked up here. President Bush was far more charitable with his remark than I would have been, but I suppose even the most unelectable politican must put on a false face and speak well of the departed. I, for one, refuse to mince my words: throughout her career as a political hack, she was a Krugman prototype who perennially promoted theft. That's right, theft. As a young teenager who started delving into political matters, I started reading various syndicated columns, Ivins' included. It didn't take me long to see that she was a constant advocate of government social programs to tax those who have and give to those who don't. It is theft to take money from others by force, regardless of whether you do it by outright criminal behavior or using government ("the force of law") to justify it, and no matter for how noble a purpose you intend to use it.

As Walter Williams has said, "No matter how worthy the cause, it is robbery, theft, and injustice to confiscate the property of one person and give it to another to whom it does not belong." This thinking originated in Bastiat's The Law, in which he declared, "When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it—without his consent and without compensation, and whether by force or by fraud—to anyone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated; that an act of plunder is committed."

Recently I actually slapped a friend, a good friend, who claimed that taxes on the rich, and government spending the money on welfare programs, "fulfills the doctrine of Jesus Christ." I only meant to give him an air-slap, a quick back-and-forth in front of his chin, but I accidentally connected. It was wrong of me, and I can't blame him for not speaking to me for a couple of days, but in hindsight, he really did deserve it for such blasphemy.

Several years ago in one of 60 Minutes' farcical debates, Ivins and P.J. O'Rourke contended over the issue of the minimum wage. In only a couple of minutes, O'Rourke made solid points not just based on practical economics and business principles, but based on the rights of business owners as property owners. All Ivins did was playing the bleeding heart card, insisting that people should be paid enough to live on: all emotion and no reason.

I wonder if Ivins ever considered that only 2% of the American labor force -- that's a percentage of workers, not the population -- makes minimum wage, that most are young and just starting out, and hardly any of them are actual "breadwinners" in their households. (Thanks to our friends Josh Hendrickson and Cafe Hayek, who remind us of these from time to time.) However, when one is bent on being a knight in shining armor, one must invent a crusade if none exists, or when a real crusade is too difficult and/or less glamorous. Who will have a more popular op-ed column, someone who points out the constant failures of government, or someone who rants about the plight of the poor and demands that government do something about it? Let us candidly acknowledge that the American people just don't want to hear (let alone admit) the former, while the latter is something we feel "can be done with the right government program."

Previously I've written before on how the minimum wage tends to throw people out of work and how it skews labor markets. I doubt that Ivins, to her dying moments, ever considered that all the taxes she and other socialists like to levy on businesses force businesses to charge higher prices (see here where I explain what should be obvious to any thinking person, that ultimately the customers pay for a business' operational expenses, including businesses taxes). Since any single store does not practice price discrimination, people of lower incomes are clearly hurt the hardest by the taxes.

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