We’re back on the self-publishing beat today…In today’s episode, you’re going to learn about two fantastic services you should consider if you’re self-publishing a book.Even if you’re not writing a book, if you’re an avid reader you’ll love these websites too. They’re how you can find some of the world’s best “hidden” authors in the […]
Is Democracy really all its cracked up to be? Does Hong Kong really need it? That’s the question Chris Campbell ponders today as he observes the protests in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has enjoyed low taxes, free business and trade, and high social freedom without our favored system of governing.
The government is on a mad race to create a vaccine for Ebola. What they aren’t telling you is that, in 2003, they may have found a way to beat it naturally. According to one unclassified government document, this little-known plant beat Ebola 90% of the time. Why isn’t the government developing it? Read on…
The mainstream media has been complacent in reporting the truth about Ebola. They’re not telling the truth about how dangerous the Ebola situation really is. Because of this, millions of lives are at risk. Inside today’s Laissez Faire Today, learn what the mainstream should be telling you about how to protect yourself in the case of an outbreak in the United States. Read on…
Writing a book? Chris Campbell shows you three secrets to successfully self-publishing. Secrets including, how to get a professional-looking cover for as little as $5… how to format your book to get people to love it and buy your next one… and how to market your book to hundreds of thousands of people -- absolutely free. Read on…
One CIA insider visited our Baltimore HQ yesterday. While here, he leaked 30 potential events to cause the next financial avalanche. Even more, he also gave us several ways everyday Americans can thrive because of these events. Why did he impart so much valuable information? Find out in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
Instead of letting you choose, the government has found it fit to force one potentially dangerous medication on you and your family. Where is it? In your drinking water. Even more outrageous: While Uncle Sam forces medication down your throat, he also says you have no right to choose your own milk. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
ISIS’ spokesperson is a kid from Calgary who wants to “paint the White House black.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell asks one question none of the “officials” seem to care to ask: Why? Why are foreigners flocking to the Middle East to fight alongside ISIS? Why is Saudi Arabia so keen on getting involved? How far does Obama really want to go? Find out inside. Read on…
If you’ve ever wanted to expose some heinous crime against humanity, here’s your chance. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell shows you how to make sure the world accesses to your leaks, even if something happens to you. Chris also shares why this is probably a terrible idea. Read on…
America has about 4% of the world’s population, yet houses 25% of the world’s incarcerated. What’s going on here? Chris Campbell digs deep into the industry to figure out the truth. While many blame the private prison industry, the real culprit, says Chris, begins right outside your door. Read on…
When Obama first announced U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, most people have no idea that it was to destroy U.S. military equipment in the hands of ISIS. How did ISIS get U.S. weapons? Chris Campbell blows the story wide open in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
Every 37 seconds, an American is arrested and criminalized because of one racist and ridiculous law. Join Chris Campbell as he takes you back to when marijuana became illegal… why it’s hurting America… and why you should fight to end the prohibition. And it’s not so you can smoke it. Read on…
An ancient guide has been in hiding… until now. As it dusts itself off, some early adopters are calling it “the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength.” And, according to Chris Campbell, it could be the only thing you need to thrive in our day-to-day life of modern chaos. Embrace it, and become the hero of your own story. Ignore it, and risk living a whimper of a life on someone else’s terms. Read on…
Think it’s impossible to escape Obamacare? Think again. Laissez Faire Today reader David F. shares how he did it and how you can do it too. Don’t see another doctor, take another pill, or shop around for better medical insurance until you read his story. Read on…
“What… is… that?!”That’s what one colleague asked when she saw this on my desk…My face, according to 3-D printing“My face,” I said. “What does it look like?”“Uh…”OK, sure. It’s a rough depiction. Eh. It’s pretty choppy…And, as you can see, the glasses didn’t really take well… making for an eerie sunken eye look.Didn’t really turn […]
“While I heartily subscribe to your premise of pursuing one’s dream,” one reader, Donald J., wrote, “there are alternate perspectives worth considering.”[We’re listening… go on.]“Some wiseguy once said that life is what happens to you while you’re waiting for something better to come along. Milton put it a little more poetically in one of his […]
“Where were you when it happened?” How many times have we been asked -- and asked -- this question since 2001? Today, Chris Campbell asks us to pose a different question: What can I do today to making Sept. 11 another turning point in my life? And then, of course, taking that first step. Read on…
Chris Campbell got more than he bargained for during Sunday brunch. In a packed restaurant, he learned about a hidden sex boom that’s taking the world by storm. You won’t believe how much money ordinary Americans are making in this boom. It’s so much…you may even consider cashing in yourself.
“Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.” — Oscar WildeIn the wacky world of American politics, if you as an employer have a religious objection to paying for your employees’ contraceptives, it is you who is contemptuous of religious freedom.As the New York Times editorial board lectured a judge who thinks otherwise, “the […]
Socialism is the big lie of the 20th century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may […]
Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government’s National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist’s camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a worldwide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I […]
I opened a new bottle of probiotics this morning, and it had one of those circular seals on the top. You know, the one that reads, “Sealed for your protection.”And that seal got me thinking… how much protection do we need? How much security is enough?How much homogenization, pasteurization, disinfection, national security, etc…. do we […]
Last spring, Barack Obama told the graduating class of Ohio State University:“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems… They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because […]
In the Huffington Post last week, Glenn Greenwald, Slate contributor Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim had an investigative piece reporting that the NSA had been tracking the online porn-viewing habits of several Muslim leaders whom it viewed as radicals. A top-secret document shows that the agency was considering exposing these firebrands’ Internet dalliances as a […]
Americans are still trying to get a handle on the full extent of the government’s domestic spying activities, including the recent revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting and storing the email address books of ordinary Americans using online messaging services. Many users of such services are looking to tech executives for […]
A few months ago at a demonstration against the president of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, a Canadian citizen made the following claim: “We don’t have guns, we are not Americans, we are civilized.” A few days before, in early July, a train of the company had run away and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing […]
From the Tongue-In-Cheek Department of Laissez Faire Books…Washington, D.C. — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced that her committee will hold a “major review into all intelligence-collection programs.” This surprising declaration followed the revelation, through documents leaked by government whistle-blower Edward Snowden, that the NSA has been listening to the […]
Time was tight and people were rushing to catch flights. This particular terminal in Miami was usually fast, everyone knew, but for some reason, the TSA was seriously understaffed. What do they care whether people spend 90 minutes waiting in the checkpoint? They have no stake in the profitability of the airlines and no real concern for the well-being of the customer.
So there we all stood, being blasted with Orwellian messages like, “If you see something, say something.” Time marched on and the line was not moving. Most people around me were scheduled to fly out in 45 minutes. Then 30 minutes. Then 15 minutes. You could feel the anxiety and sense the rising frustration of the growing crowd.
As the agent checking boarding passes was finally in view, everyone around me witnessed a striking thing. A person reached across the line and offered $20 to a person three people away from the checkpoint. A deal was made, and this guy suddenly moved in front in line. He had a jutting jaw, dark sunglasses and bulging muscles — a perfectly hateable picture of arrogance. The rest of us were pushed back by one person.
All 50 or so people who saw this transaction were outraged. The grumbling began immediately, and then rose in volume until people were becoming alarmingly vocal about it. One person demanded a share in the payment. Another said that he would have charged more if asked. Another said that there was no amount of money he would have accepted.
Oddly, and probably unjustly, all the anger was directed toward the guy who paid, and not, as one might expect, the person who accepted the payment. He was immediately ratted out. A TSA agent intervened and let him through anyway. What happened afterward I will get to in a moment, but let’s first explore the ethics and economics of this transaction.
With nothing to do but stand there, I posed the following questions on Facebook from my digital device. Do you “own” your place in line? What if someone pays the person in front of you to cut in, thereby pushing you back one step? Are you owed some portion of the revenue? But then should the payment taker have to ask permission from everyone behind him before making the transaction?
A lively debate ensued (100-plus posts!). Some said the price should have been higher. Some thought it was a perfectly legitimate transaction. Some said that because we own our place in line, this amounted to theft. But in what sense do we own a place in line? I was trying to understand the source of what seemed like the legitimate outrage and how that accords with our intuitive sense of justice.
Some people said that the whole issue should be decided by the line owner. This is true enough, but impractical. The TSA was the owner, and it posted no rules concerning this issue. That’s also the case with most lines in the private sector, too. People need to draw on some sense of etiquette and manners, but from what ethical principle are these derived?
Everyone’s thoughts here were interesting.
But it was economist Robert Murphy who posted what I found to be the clearest thoughts (which is not to take away from others who added interesting insights along the way).
In Murphy’s view, the payment was just a distraction. You are not permitted to let anyone cut in line, even at zero price. The issue of justice here had nothing to do with payment. Even if you are feeling generous toward someone who is in a special rush, you are bound to stay in the line. This is because your actions affect the well-being of everyone else in a very tangible way.
Nor is ownership as such the issue. People who are lined up are adhering to a social convention of “first come, first served.” The outrage stems from the perception that the rule has been broken. Even if it makes no difference in terms of the time spent in line and whether or not there is money involved, if people value their place in the line — the longer and slower the line, the higher the value — these values must be respected.
This seems right to me. And note that the sense of violation that comes from observing a cutting-in is independent of political outlook. It just didn’t matter one bit whether the people were left or right or free market or socialist or fascist or communist. Everyone has a sense of justice associated with the “first come, first served” idea of allocation of scarce services in this context.
For example, it would have made no sense for a communist to propose that we all institute communism in TSA services. What would this even mean? The service of having your boarding pass checked is a scarce good. With only one agent, only one person can be checked at a time. It defies the laws of reality to propose common ownership under these conditions.
But so it is with the whole of the material world. Scarcity is a fact of life. Scarce goods must be allocated somehow. It contributes nothing to say that they should be owned by all. Scarce goods can be allocated through violence or through the peaceful means of trade and exchange. The case for a free market can be boiled down to this proposition.
In other words, if the people in this line considered their reaction carefully, they would eventually have to conclude that their intuition has deeper implications. Every tax, every regulation, every state intervention amounts to a forced “cutting in line.” This is because every intervention is an act that overrules our personal value scales of what we would like to do with our lives and property. The government is jumping in front of our personal sense of priorities and asserting the government’s own priorities as a replacement, thereby pushing our own preference further back in the line.
Government is not only a robber and thief, but also a violator of our own intuitive standards of taste and manners. Most people do not know this because what government does is largely invisible to our daily lives and spending activity. Were government’s actions on display as aggressively as this line cutter at the TSA, we would see a revolution in short order.
There is a ending to this story. After the jutting-jawed jerk got through the line, the TSA took vengeance, much to the delight of the crowd. They had him take off his hat, coat and shirt, and search his bags with faux interest, one item at a time, strewing out his personal belongs for all to see. The crowds behind him in line passed by and jeered with delight.
I found myself feeling sorry for him and somewhat sickened by this whole display, which had nothing to do with security and everything to do with vengeance. After all, he only offered the money; it was the guy who let him cut in the line who caused all the problems. But when government is involved, the injustice rarely stops with one act.
The events in this TSA line were a microcosmic illustration of the partnership between despotism and mob rule.