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Two Phrases That Unmask Crony Capitalism and Corporate Welfare

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 20, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Chris Rufer is founder of The Morning Star Company, which employs approximately 2,500 people in food processing and agribusiness. He’s also an Advocates Board member.

Last week Chris had an excellent opinion piece published in the New York Times, explaining why the federally run Export-Import Bank is a rip-off and boondoggle that should be shut down.

The article is entitled “End This Corporate Welfare.” There’s a brief excerpt from it in this issue’s They Said It column, and you can read the full article here.

Chris does a great job of making this seemingly obscure and esoteric issue clear, interesting and important to the average reader.

One phrase in particular jumped out at me. Describing how corporate welfare works, Chris writes: “It’s private gain at the expense of public pain.”

That’s a great phrase! I love the populist feel of it, and how it makes the injustice of such things as the Export-Import Bank instantly clear. “Private gain at the expense of public pain” can be used to describe all kinds of corporate welfare and crony capitalism boondoggles: professional sports subsidies, licensing laws that protect politically connected businesses from competition, taxes on imported goods… and many more.

I also like another phrase Chris used. He notes that the Import-Export Bank gives huge private businesses taxpayer-backed loans, guarantees and insurance.

The results: “When a company profits from the bank’s support, it pockets the money. If it defaults, taxpayers’ pockets get picked.”

That, too, is a clever and catchy way to describe the essential unfairness of corporate welfare, how it protects politically connected companies from the risks and consequences of their actions — at the expense of the rest of us.

Consider adding these two phrases to your liberty communication vocabulary.

They Said It With Julie Borowski, Libertarian Girl and More…

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Julie Borowski“Obama suggests voting should be made mandatory. Yeah, the problem with this country is that not enough uninformed people are voting.” — Facebook post from libertarian commentator Julie Borowski, March 19, 2015.

Libertarian GirlGOV’T PRIORITIES: “There are 400,000 untested rape kits across the U.S. The excuses are ‘they’re expensive’ and ‘there’s no time.’ Governments sure do seem to have the time and money to arrest, prosecute, and jail non-violent drug offenders and [those who commit] other victimless crimes…” — Facebook post from Libertarian Girl (aka Marianne Copenhaver), March 16, 2015.

DISMANTLE THE TSA, SAYS GOP CHAIRMAN: “I believe we made a big mistake in 2002 or 2003 when we set up the TSA. The Transportation committee… had experts from the British, the Germans, the Israelis all come testify before the committee and overwhelmingly they told us: Don’t set up a federal [agency].” — House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) in a March 18 briefing. Shuster suggested that airport security — currently provided by the hated TSA (Transportation Security Administration), now metastasized to over 50,000 employees — be turned over to the private sector, with federal oversight. Quoted in The Hill, “GOP chairman: TSA was a ‘big mistake’,” March 18, 2015.


Jacob Sollum“According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, accounts for nearly two-fifths of global military spending. It allocates more money to the military than the next eight biggest spenders combined. The United States is a large country with peaceful neighbors. Yet it spends more than $2,000 per capita on defense — as much as Israel, a tiny country beset by enemies, and more than twice as much as European countries such as the U.K., France and Germany. One begins to suspect that our so-called defense budget is spent on a lot of things that have little or nothing to do with defense.” — syndicated columnist Jacob Sullum, “The Squeal of the War Hogs: Why Do Lindsey Graham and John McCain Think Half a Trillion Dollars Is Not Enough To Defend the Country?”, March 18, 2015.

STOP THE EXPORT-IMPORT BANK RIP-OFF: “[T]he federally run Export-Import Bank… is a case study in corporate welfare. Founded during the New Deal, its mission is to ‘support jobs in the United States by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services.’ In practice, it offers taxpayer-backed loans, guarantees and insurance to private companies. When a company profits from the bank’s support, it pockets the money. If it defaults, taxpayers’ pockets get picked. … In 2013, roughly 93 percent of the bank’s loan guarantees by value benefited only five companies — including Caterpillar, General Electric and other multinational corporations with hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in annual profits… In 2012, 83 percent benefited a single company: Boeing. … The Export-Import Bank’s charter expires at the end of June and businesses and lobbyists are lining up to persuade Congress to reauthorize it.” — Chris Rufer, founder of The Morning Star Company and Advocates Board member, “End This Corporate Welfare,” New York Times, March 23, 2015.

Campaign for Liberty: National ID Is Back

in Immigration, Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Bad ideas never seem to go away. The Republican House leadership has unveiled brand-new “Immigration Reform Principles” — and the pro-liberty organization Campaign for Liberty reports this proposal resurrects once again the foul idea of a national ID.

In a section entitled “Employment Verification and Workplace Enforcement” the plan says: “In the 21st century it is unacceptable that the majority of employees have their work eligibility verified through a paper based system wrought with fraud. It is past time for this country to fully implement a workable electronic employment verification system.”

This, warns Campaign for Liberty, will require a new national ID card based on Social Security cards — cards that would:

* Be tied to a national database containing biometric identification information, potentially including fingerprints, retinal scans, or scans of veins on the back of your hands, which could easily be used for government tracking.

* Be required for all U.S. workers regardless of place of birth, making it illegal for anyone to hold a job in the United States who doesn’t obtain this ID card;

* Require all employers to purchase an “ID scanner” to verify the ID cards with the federal government. Every time any citizen applies for a job, the government would know — and, warns Campaign for Liberty, it’s only a matter of time until ID scans will be required to make even routine purchases, as well.

Further, according to Campaign for Liberty President John Tate, this sets us up for a swift slide down a steep slippery slope:

“Gun ownership, health records, purchasing habits, religious beliefs — virtually anything you could dream up could all be added to this massive national ID database.

“And doing so wouldn’t even require a vote by Congress. Instead, it could happen with a simple stroke of a president’s pen.

“This is exactly the type of battle that often decides whether a country remains free or continues down a slide toward tyranny.”

Terrorism, border control, immigration reform, voter fraud, gun control, insurance, health care… seems like every year Congress discovers yet another urgent new reason why we need a national ID.

Liberty-minded folks across the political spectrum have denounced the insidious dangers of these schemes. See Wired, the ACLUReason, and the conservative Rutherford Institute, for starters.