Reflecting on Labor (day)

braves3At the end of the day, one must decide how they are going to look at events.   Rising quickly in Cobb County is the new SunTrust sports stadium for the Altanta Braves, courtesy of Cobb County.   There is a ton of labor being used to build this stadium.  Those authorities that made this happen cheer the jobs created to make it happen. But there is another side to that coin.  How much labor does that stadium represent in tax dollars taken from residents to make that happen?  With a little math and a few assumptions we can get ourselves into the ballpark on what all of this government goodness is costing us. We are only going to look at the impact from Cobb County’s perspective, although other government dollars are indeed flowing from every direction, including the Georgia DOT. The US average hourly wage is $25.09, and Cobb County will make annual debt payments of $22.4 million on that debt.  How may hours of labor does just the annual debt payments represent?Read more

Think Local

It’s time to take control of our local governments, one at a time.

Support Chris Coughlin in his bid to lower taxes and cut spending in Johns Creek. Coughlin-one of our own.

Support Chris Coughlin in his bid to lower taxes and cut spending in Johns Creek. Coughlin-one of our own.

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Christians For Liberty 2015 Conference

This is the first article in what I would like to become a series of articles describing liberty related events.  As Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Georgia, I see it to be beneficial to inform everyone as much as possible about events going on of which liberty minded people can be a part.  This article expresses only the opinion of the writer.

Takeaways from the Christians For Liberty 2015 Conference

Libertarian Christian Institute

It may at first seem like someone being a Christian and a Libertarian are at odds with one another, but that could not be further from the truth. This past weekend in Austin, Texas was the second annual Christians for Liberty Conference (CFL). There were incredible speakers from across the nation- from Alaska to Washington, DC. This is one of the only events that I have heard of where the two beliefs of Christianity and Libertarianism are combined, so there was a lot of excitement among those who were finally able to meet like-minded people, since we perceive ourselves in a niche group.

On Friday evening there was a pre-conference speaker, Colin Gunn, who is a documentary filmmaker.  He has directed films such as Captivated and IndoctriNation.  That evening he described the making of his most recent film, Wait till it’s Free, which skillfully described the American healthcare system and how it was not a true free market system even before Affordable Care Act (ACA). It uses an analogy of how capitalism works in an American diner to show how the healthcare system could truly function in the free market. In what other industry do you purchase something and not know the price of what you are buying? A hospital may give you a “quote” on your procedure, but when you actually get the bill it can be several times more than what the quote stated. The consumer has no negotiation power before the procedure or a true method for disputing the cost after the procedure.  This is because there is not a business transaction between the patient and doctor (consumer and business), but a huge bureaucratic wall (called an insurance company) that prevents this arm’s length transaction. The film gives examples of how both doctors and patients are removing themselves from this system and proving how much superior capitalism really is.

The actual conference started on Saturday morning with the organizer Dr. Norman Horn, who is the founder of the Libertarin Christian Institute, giving his introductory speech and introducing the first speaker, Dr. Laurence Vance.  Dr. Vance’s topic was Christianity, Libertarianism, & the Drug War.  Although many of the people who support the War on Drugs are Christians, he pointed out that it makes more sense to be against it.  It was explained in many ways where there are other things that are just as addictive and dangerous as marijuana, but are normal and legal.  The clearest comparison would be the use of alcohol.  It is possibly more addictive and dangerous, but completely legal.  If someone’s reasoning is that smoking marijuana is immoral, then he explained that the church never used the government to enforce morals.  Both Christian beliefs and Libertarian principles agree that vices should not be criminalized by the government, but dealt with in other ways.

There were two tracks for the convention, therefore it was not possible to sit through all of the speakers.  It was a tough choice for some attending the conference to decide which speakers one should hear.  There was one person who kept switching between the two rooms with conference speakers to make sure he didn’t miss out.  The track I went on had Doug Stuart as the first speaker. His topic was “The Things that make for Peace: Gospel Against Empire”.  He pointed out that Libertarians believe in the Non-aggression principle which is slightly different from the Christian view of peace (shalom).  The Non-aggression principle does protect others, but does not require one to help take care of others as the Christian peace does.  Libertarians do believe though that relying on liberty will produce the best results for everyone.  Both Christians and Libertarians believe that it is not the government’s job to forcibly provide for people.

There were many other incredible speakers that I was fortunate to hear from such as Wes Benedict, the executive director of the Libertarian Party National committee, who developed a 500 word summary on how the beliefs of Libertarians and Christians are compatible.  Lawrence Reed from the Foundation for Economic Education spoke about what characteristics make a real hero and described the accomplishments of people such as Vivian Kellums, Harriet Tubman, and Sir Nicolas Winton.  Dr. Mark Cherry’s topic was on the development of secular fundamentalism, which explained how the state is taking the place of the church in today’s society.  And T.K. Coleman, from a company called Praxis, showed us how to place our identity in God and set our goals according to His will.

One speaker whose topic relates to this article was Stephanie Slade, an editor for the Reason magazine.  She was originally going to speak about Free speech, journalism and Christian practice, but ended up speaking about free exercise instead of free speech.  As libertarians we believe that it is important to protect everyone’s rights, which frequently ends up being on the opposite side of the mainstream.  She gave the example of John Adams defending the British soldiers from the Boston Massacre.  Defending the British soldiers who killed the Boston residents was not popular with the locals and could have adversely affected the reputation of John Adams, but he still proceeded with it.  He understood that if we want to protect our rights, we have to protect everyone’s rights.  Stephanie pointed out that being a Christian Libertarian and defending gay rights is difficult for some to understand.  It is a foreign idea to some that a person can defend something, but believe that it is morally wrong.  Throughout history, the group who is the majority tends to enforce their morals by putting them in the law books, which is tempting to do especially because people think it is the right thing to do.  We are at a turning point where religious freedoms are becoming the minority rather than lifestyle freedoms.  Either way, both libertarians and Christians believe in defending everyone’s rights.

The event concluded with Dr. Norman Horn who spoke on the New Testament Theology of the state.  Then dinner was served and a small group of us discussed how we can develop Christian Libertarian discussion groups in our local area.  At the same time, the rest of the conference attendees listened to Jason Rink speak about how Christian Libertarians should show love to everyone.  Following the conference a social event at a nearby restaurant called Opal Divines Penn Field was held.  Anyone who has ever attended a Libertarian conference knows that this is where the real discussions occur.

As libertarians, we take a strong stance for free speech. Even if we don’t agree with someone’s views we are able to agree to disagree. Moreover, we should even go to the extent of protecting someone’s rights to preserve their freedom even if their views don’t align with ours (for Christians change “even if” to “especially”). There are so many aspects of the two beliefs that align that you don’t notice until you really put them next to each other. Some even believe that, out of the political parties, the Libertarian party is the only one that lines up with Christianity because it is the only view that allows people to make their own decision about themselves without the use of force (free will). Whether the reasoning be for charity or for morals, it is not the government’s position to use force them upon us.

Attending this conference was an incredible experience thanks to the speakers and the people that I had a chance to meet.  I cannot to do justice to many of the arguments that the speakers made at the conference in the span of this article.  Videos of the speakers from the conference will be posted on the if you want to see the whole discussion.

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Economies Of Scale Vs. Scope of Government

Take a look at the top of this page and read what we as Libertarians seek prior to reading this.  I’ll repeat it here:

Smaller Government

Lower Taxes

More Freedom

What we  get are the opposites:  Larger Government, More Taxes, Less Freedom.

Why larger governments do not benefit from economies of scale has bothered me.  I think that I am on the brink of resolving that mystery for myself finally. Bear(or bare) with me, as the case may be.

For our example, we will take two municipalities of obviously different size: Johns Creek and Atlanta.  Both have the same state government, operate in the same environmental and economic environments and co-exist 15 miles or so apart.  And without evening providing the numbers that support the statement, we all know that it is much more expensive from a tax perspective to live in Atlanta than Johns Creek.

As a more or less rational thinker, this has left me puzzled more often than not.  What is it that makes it more expensive per capita to provide services to the public, which seem to defy the concept of Economies of Scale that function flawlessly in other aspects of our life?

And then it hit me.  It’s NOT the economies of scale that are at question.  It’s the scope of government services provided.

At this point I am going to add another city to our conversation.  This one is fictional, but we all have a good understanding of how it is defined: Mayberry.

The city of Mayberry provided the most basic of services for the common good.  Court, jail, police, fire and education.

All the residents were potential beneficiaries of these services.

But when a city gets larger, like Johns Creek has, then more services are provided. Wants seem to morph into needs.   And these services may not benefit all citizens but a sub-section.     At first, it might be that a new service benefits 90% of the public. We tax all for the benefit of those 90%.  And 10% pay for services they never use.

Then the City grows larger.  Soon we add additional services, and then more additional services until the new services are not being used by 10% or less of the population and are being subsidized by the 90% that are not using them.

The larger the city the smaller the beneficiary group as a % of the whole needs to be.

Much to the chagrin of dog lovers, I’ll use the example of dog parks.  (and I love the name of the Chattapoochie Dog Park in Gwinnett so I am not a total grump).  Here’s a service provided by municipalities that only benefits dog owners.  More specifically, it only benefits that sub-segment of dog owners that want to take their dogs to a park to roam around.  If 1 in ten residents in Johns Creek have taken their pooch to the park more than 6 times in a year, I’d be shocked.

Were Johns Creek to get large enough, we’d likely have a different park for small dogs, and big dogs.  Even larger and we would have one for medium sized dogs.

We see the same effect with Arts Centers, Aquatic Centers, Nature Centers (insert the others you know are coming here).  We also see it with other services the City decides that they must provide such as bulk recycling.  The list becomes endless as long as there are funds to start the program.  And they never end. Get a few federal or state dollars to start and it’s a certainty to get started.

Which brings us back to my original observation.  There are no economies of scale for bigger and bigger cites because the scope of the services these cities provide expand in such a way that there are fewer users as a % of the population, forcing the majority to subsidize them.

How does one reign in the “service creep” that cities seem to engage in the larger they get?

One answer would be to set a minimal level of actual users that a city expects to see from this service.  Fifty per cent would be a good starting point for discussion’s sake.

Another answer would be to cut the funds flowing into the cities that fund such projects of such a narrow scope.  To do so you will need to be ready to speak up to your local government and say “NO!”.

As a Libertarian, this is exactly why I am for  a smaller government.  Let’s do the things that we need to do for everyone’s benefit, and do them the best we can.

Then we could see economies of scale.  We could lower our taxes, and those with dogs, for instance, could fund their own private dog park with their own dollars.

Otherwise, where does the “Service Creep” end?

As Libertarians, we know this does not have a good conclusion.  Taking the funds of one person for the benefit of others by the force of government is wrong.  Yet it continues unabated.

Our first step to end this is to identify and highlight such drastic imbalances such as taxing the majority for the benefit of the minority.  If we do not, then who will?

Join us today and help us fight to restore government to it’s original scope.

We need you to help win this battle before it’s too late.  The tax dollars we save, after all, will be your own.

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Is Selfishness A Libertarian Virtue?


It probably won’t shock you to hear that the majority of friends I made while working on undergraduate and graduate work in philosophy are liberals or socialists. However, libertarians might be shocked to know just how the outside world sees us. While I can’t make absolute claims about everyone’s perspective, I can point to a specific trend my friends have every time we go grab drinks. At least once per outing, someone will undoubtedly say something like this: “I’d love to buy you a drink, but I’m going to be a libertarian tonight and not do anything for anyone except myself!”

Then they laugh.  I attempt to correct their misunderstanding with a one-sentence response while knowing that saying anything more will take the conversation into a dull and irritating direction. Then we go about our night.

So why is it that libertarians are thought of as selfish, callous, and greedy? Well, I certainly can’t account for every reason, but I can say that a good place to start the search for a reason is to look at Ayn Rand and her political philosophy. When a prominent figurehead of the libertarian movement authors a book titled The Virtue of Selfishness, it’s not hard to understand why those outside of the libertarian camp think that the only things libertarians are concerned with are themselves and their money. So, the question must be asked: “Is this admittedly widespread view accurate?”

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