Category: Philosophy

Sacred Economics- A Review Part One

A couple months ago I was challenged by blogger/activist Chris Agnos at Sustainable Man; to read Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein. In exchange Chris is reading Applied Economics by Thomas Sowell. The hope is that each will learn something from looking at the antithesis of our own philosophies and beliefs. I have always tried to read and expose myself to ideas from all sides of an issue. Any valid argument seeks to address couter arguments and provide answers and alternatives.

I have finished reading the first part of the book. Eisenstein sets up the first part of the book to attack modern capitalism and society. This isn’t new ground by any means but Eisenstein is no crack pot and he does a good job at making a cogent argument without too much invective and empty rhetoric. Anybody seeking to change a system has to first demonstrate its’ failings and Eisenstein does that with a mix of logic, evidence and history. I am going to summarize a couple of his key points and address them in this article. I am not seeking to write a book here just address some key and common points.

“Today we associate money with the profane, and for good reason. If anything is sacred in this world, it is surely not money. Money seems to be the enemy of our better instincts, as is clear every time the thought “I can’t afford to” blocks an impulse toward kindness or generosity. Money seems to be the enemy of beauty, as the disparaging term “a sellout” demonstrates. Money seems to be the enemy of every worthy social and political reform, as corporate power steers legislation toward the aggrandizement of its own profits. Money seems to be destroying the earth, as we pillage the oceans, the forests, the soil, and every species to feed a greed that knows no end.”- Charles Eisenstein

First let me agree with Eisenstein, society largely does associate money and therefore greed with evil. This is a testament to 100 years of progressive thought in government and education. This association however is just plain wrong headed. Money is good and greed can also be good, especially for society. Adam Smith wrote about this over 200 years ago:

By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.”

At the time (1776) most men worked in farming to feed their family and bartered some for other services. Women worked from dawn until dusk just maintaining a house and preparing food. There are parts of the world where this is still the case. Money allows us to engage in activities we are best suited for, I can create videos and take photographs and earn currencies which I exchange for food or technology that makes life easier. This exchange allowed innovators to create technology and to innovate new ways of farming, healthcare and countless other things that allow a relatively poor person in modern America to live longer and better than Louse XIV did not that long ago considering the scope of human history.

Han Rosling has studied the progress of human history and demonstrated how much better we live today than our agrarian barter societies did before. Indeed since 1970 world poverty as defined by living on less than a dollar a day has plummeted 80%. Why? Globalization aided by technology allows a subsistence farmer in India to get a job in a call center or a factory servicing a wealthier economy in the United States. As the economy of India grows it impacts even poorer areas in Bangladesh or Africa. That same farmer turned factory workers child may become an engineer and move up the ladder again. It is not benevolence that has created this new prosperity it is the desire to live better lives that creates wealth. In a capitalistic society we trade value for greater value. I spend $300 on an iPhone because I value that iPhone more than alternative items I can buy for the $300. The iPhone is $300 and not $3 million dollars because of a global capitalistic model that allows growth, efficiency and innovation. Money is the tool that allows this all to happen, we agree as a society to recognize currency as a store of value and that facilitates trade. Money also allows for cooperation in an amazing way. Think of all the things needed to create that iPhone, even a simple  pencil is the sum product of thousands even millions of different people in different places cooperating to create a product. A miner digs for the graphite while being feed, clothed and transported by others. That graphite goes to a factory where another worker perhaps around the world uses it combining it with other raw and semi raw materials to create the pencil. That pencil is then transported, marketed and sold by other people. Can a local barter economy even create something as simple as a modern pencil?

Eisenstein seems to understand this- even while glamorizing communal barter and what he calls “gift” economies; but he argues that we are in a different stage now and  uses the current recession to indict the whole system:

“Money is disappearing, and with it another property of spirit: the animating force of the human realm. At this writing, all over the world machines stand idle. Factories have ground to a halt; construction equipment sits derelict in the yard; parks and libraries are closing; and millions go homeless and hungry while housing units stand vacant and food rots in the warehouses. Yet all the human and material inputs to build the houses, distribute the food, and run the factories still exist. It is rather something immaterial, that animating spirit, which has fled. What has fled is money.”

Putting aside the obvious dramatic overstatements and exaggerations of the current or past recession, Eisenstein is attacking the very idea of growth in general. Environmentalist many times phrase this argument as a zero sum game in that we are taking from others or taking from the earth and that our prosperity equates to someone else’s poverty. This idea is completely counterfactual, it is precisely our prosperity and desire for a better life that allows for others to rise out of poverty. As the United States and Europe became richer so did South East Asia and Africa. Many look at the proportion of wealth to poverty, the gap which does tend to grow in absolute terms. This misses the point though and is to say we would rather our neighbor be even poorer as long as we are closer in means. Some have put it this way: Would you rather make $40,000 a year and know that your neighbor makes $1 million or make $10,000 a year knowing your neighbor only makes $40,000. In the second scenario the gap is smaller but you have 1/4 of the means. This argument for fairness is the common tool politicians and leaders use to gain power over men; they promise to make for a more fair society but the result is always less for all with usually the only winner being those connected to the government.

It is mathematically certain that all resources are finite, even the sun will stop reacting at some point. We cannot understand infinity even if we believe in an infinite god. Given this logic some argue that we are running out of resources and that resources cannot be owned and are collective and therefore must be collectively managed. No one can argue that resources are scarse, the question becomes how should these resources be managed? Capitalism has been the system that has worked better than all the rest.

For decades some have predicted that we are running out of certain resources and that costs for a given commodity will continue to rise. They have almost always been wrong, innovative self interested corporations and men continue to find more and more resources and different resources. Other innovators find new uses for resources and ways to use alternatives and less of a given resource. Right now in America manufacturing is starting to come back- in part because of a shale gas revolution that is making energy for factories cheaper. 120 years ago expensive whale oil threatened to empty the sea of whales and made it hard to light the night. Rockefeller discovered oil could be refined into kerosene and in the process saved more whales than Greenpeace ever will. Later Edison discovered how to create electric light and now even most of the poorest Americans have cheap and abundant light at night- something we don’t even really consider living without. I am not arguing that resources such as oil are limitless they clearly are not. However capitalism allows us to use them more efficiently and will someday reward those who replace unsustainable resources with more sustainable ones. The market will force people to ration when necessary and do so more orderly and efficiently than any team of bureaucrats could no matter how smart or well intentioned. No one knows when we will start to run out of natural resources or what new innovations will allow us to use less or alternatives. There is no reason however to believe that this century cannot be full of as much growth as the 20th century was and lead to a more peaceful and prosperous world provided of course reason prevails and we don’t kill the free market engine of growth.

For most of human history Kings and despots controlled all the wealth and almost all where poor. We then moved into democratic capitalism in America, Europe and then Asia and prosperity followed. In the early 20th century Socialists pointed to the obvious injustices and unfairness and successfully convinced nations to try socialistic and communistic governments. These systems lead to despotism and decay because they overlook human nature and motivation. We create and work to attain a better life for ourselves and our families. When we cannot profit from our work and industry we don’t work as hard we don’t take risks and progress stagnates. In a truly free market there are powerful incentives to use resources wisely and efficiently. Eisenstein is not arguing that Communism worked but he doesn’t accept this as the natural progression of his ideas. We have been fighting this battle for more than 100 years and I expect it will endure for at least 100 more. The ideology of from one according to her abilities to one according to her needs is very attractive, it sounds good and noble. Eisenstein attacks Ayn Rand specifically and those of us who believe in true capitalism by comparing us to selfish children and saying that we need to evolve our thinking to a more parental mindset. This is the kind of paternalistic thinking that leads to statism- the idea that an economy must be managed by benevolent high minded people. This is how freedom dies and it does not lead to prosperity it leads to poverty and decay for all.

Eisenstein has some of the problems of modern life correct, we do seek satisfaction in things too much. We are overly consumeristic, we waste our time and energy on things that don’t make us happier and we do live overly on debts that become our masters. This isn’t a byproduct of capitalism it is a byproduct of human nature and ignorance- dismantling capitalism won’t make us desire material things less it will only destroy the engine of prosperity for all. As a society we are more prosperous and therefore can afford to think more about the planet and our role in making it better for all people. We are more conscience of our impact in a multitude of ways and many of us do give of ourselves freely to help others at home and oceans away.

Money isn’t evil but man certainly can be. Capitalism rewards the good far more than the bad, it isn’t perfect but most of the problems blamed on capitalism are the result of less freedom and more management by disinterested benevolent men. We have history and philosophy and evidence that democratic capitalistic free societies work better than the alternatives. We must be careful not to throw out the good seeking an impossible perfection.

I will read the second part of Eisensteins book and comment on his ideas for change.

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An Alternative History of Sandy Hook

12-14-12, Sandy Hook Elementary School

It is 9:30am and Principal Dawn Hochsprung is meeting with a parent in her office, suddenly she hears the loud crash of glass and then gunfire…

4 months prior…
The Colorado theatre slaying hit Dawn hard and she decided she would not be a victim, so she took action. She travels to Front Sight in Nevada and took an intensive 4 day handgun course offered free to educators. She learns how to safely handle a gun and store it. She learns all about the immense responsibility of using a gun. She listen to instructors talk about how horrible any gun battle would be and the moral and legal implications of using a gun defensively. She learns how to present a weapon from concealment and fire a controlled pair accurately in less than 2 seconds. She was surprised to learn that she can fire a gun as quickly and accurately and many times better than a trained police officer. As a new comer to shooting she has no bad habits reinforced by years of practice with poor technique. She learns that firearms can be the great equalizer and that a smaller older woman could protect herself from a much stronger larger man. She learns about the combat mindset and being mentally alert and prepared. She wrote herself a letter describing how and when she would use a firearm, when she would choose to use force and when she would retreat.

The Connecticut school board decides to allow trained teachers to carry concealed weapons in September and Dawn arms herself with an easy to use Glock 40 caliber handgun. She practices at a local range and does dry firing rehearsals once a week at home.

December 14th…

Dawn springs into action she pulls her gun at the ready at her side and leaves her office. A man with a rifle is firing indiscriminately into a classroom approaching the door. He doesn’t see her and his back is turned. She fires twice hitting him center mass in the back. He falls and two other teachers tackle and seize his guns. Ten minutes later the police arrive- the shooter dies at the hospital. Dawn’s secretary and 2 children are also dead. Dawn prevents countless deaths, the shooter had over 200 rounds of ammo and 4 guns. Dawn is celebrated nation wide as a hero and example to many others.

The reality:
Principal Dawn did act, she heard shots and despite having nothing to fight with she charged the gunman courageously. She could have locked her office and called 911- she didn’t- she fought back and she died a hero; gunned down- defenseless against a man with a gun.

Entitled

Watch the exchange below between the young man and Judge Judy. What does it tell you about the state of entitlement and dependency in America? Was their any shame at all in the young man for the handouts he received? Was their any sense of humility or responsibility for the investment others have made in him? Do you think the young man would have had a different attitude if he received money from a local charity or relative? Do you think he would have managed to get so much aid over so long a period from a local charity or relative? When some get money from the federal government they feel entitled to it. This is the possible outcome of federal welfare programs.

Tax Policy and Corporate Investment

Wall Street Journal Today:
J.P. Morgan JPM +1.58% research report estimates that there is $1.7 trillion of undistributed foreign earnings held by more than 1,000 U.S. companies overseas. But only 600 disclose how much of their foreign cash is held offshore. Some like Johnson & Johnson JNJ +0.31% and Illinois Tool Works ITW +1.26% have all their cash in foreign subsidiaries.

According to some as much as 60% of corporate cash is overseas, why? Corporations in America make lots of money overseas the majority of which has already been taxed in the nations it was earned. If the corporation wants to bring that money back to the United States they are required to pay again, typically 35%.

From Brookings:

Even though a corporation is eligible for a tax credit equal to foreign taxes paid, the decision to repatriate earnings typically requires that corporation to incur a significant tax cost. As a result, corporations usually find it more attractive to defer U.S. taxation by reinvesting their foreign earnings abroad.

Some Republicans have called for a repatriation tax holiday or a territorial tax system whereby profits are only taxed once in the country they are earned. This seems fair but Democrats have argued that certain profits wouldn’t be taxed at all. The tax code is immense and corporations have whole departments whose job it is to minimize taxes paid. Politicians pass more and more laws and corporations find more ways to get around paying. Massive companies like General Electric have mastered the art of avoiding taxes despite billions in profits.

What is the solution? I propose a corporate income tax rate of zero. Corporations are entities made up of people and those people are all paid in some way eventually whether it be salary, stock or benefits. All of those forms of income are taxed eventually, meaning that a corporate tax is redundant and a form of double taxation. Corporations would still pay plenty of taxes in other forms such as payroll and sales and energy taxes.

Taxation on profits is inefficient as well, The Atlantic:

The corporate income tax encourages firms to waste resources on tax avoidance  In general, taxes are most efficient when they fall on those who have the most difficulty avoiding them.  Big corporations can and do spend an enormous amount of money and human effort transforming their income into more tax-preferred forms–deferring it, moving it, swapping it with entities that have different tax rules, and so forth.  We spend an enormous amount of energy trying to make rules to stop them.  It would be a lot easier to get rid of the thing entirely and focus on getting the money from people, who can’t afford quite such large squads of tax attorneys.  This would also correct an obvious flaw in the corporate tax code: it’s easier for big companies to afford pricey tax lawyers–and pricey lobbyists to get them special tax breaks.

Surely some will argue that with any change to the tax code there will be some who take advantage of it, and they are correct. The question becomes what can we do to make taxes as fair and efficient as possible and encourage growth that ultimately means more revenue. The answer is simpler laws that are enforceable, it shouldn’t require whole teams of lawyers and accountants to do a businesses taxes. Lets make the code simpler and then focus enforcement efforts on the remaining cheats. What we have now are special interests deciding our tax laws. Thousands of lobbyist exert pressure to get favorable laws and regulations that reduce their clients liabilities. Lets remove the complexity and make the code simple and fair and eliminate the need for special interest lobbying.

Imagine the corporations worldwide that would pour billions perhaps trillions of dollars into the US economy if we had a simpler and lower tax policy. We already try to create incentives for all kinds of special interests like the film industry and alternative energy; so clearly we understand that tax policy influences growth and investment. Government shouldn’t be in the business of deciding who gets special treatment with our money, picking winners and losers.

Some of my progressive friends will call this idea a race to the bottom and say that other countries would follow suit. I agree, I hope they do follow suit and eliminate corporate taxes. I believe in growth and if we reduce tax burdens and make taxes work fairly we will all benefit and governments will have the revenue they need. What governments should spend their tax revenue on is a separate argument for another column. Tax policy is complex and I haven’t answered all the problems here- but I know that we can make our system more equitable with simplicity.

Gun Culture

The murder/suicide involving NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher has again brought up the debate about guns and “gun culture.”

Bob Costas quoting columnists Jason Whitlock during halftime of Football Night in America:

“Our current gun culture, Whitlock wrote, ensures that more and more of domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy… and at more convenience store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will lead more teenaged boys bloody and dead. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it….“What I believe is, if (Belcher) didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”

Many have already made the completely logical argument that guns are merely a tool and that the killer was Belcher. You do not need to be a powerful man like Belcher to kill and can do so with many tools not “controlled” by the government. Some have pointed out former former Costas’ colleague O.J Simpson who is alleged to have killed his ex wife and Ron Goldman with a knife.

It is an absolute fact that we have tremendous gun violence in the United States. Young men kill each other in the streets of American cities all too often and guns are certainly the tool of choice. We have many guns in America and we have more permissive laws than many other places and so some correlate the guns with the violence. This misses the point, violent people do violent things; we have a problem with violent people not guns. A gun is inanimate it doesn’t do anything on its’ own. A gun in the hands of a responsible trained good person will be a tool for justice and peace not violence. Researcher John Lott studied gun use and found that guns may be used defensively as many as 2 million times a year. The vast majority of the time just brandishing a gun stopped the attack and no one got hurt. There is a perception problem because we rarely hear about guns being used defensively and we hear daily about criminals using guns. When I was a kid my father used to say “I don’t choose to have a gun but the criminals don’t know that- and that protects me.” Just the mere fact that we can own firearms and that many do is a powerful deterrent. In England when gun ownership is nearly outlawed home invasions that involved occupants went up dramatically. London now has many more home invasions than NYC.

As with anything else there are some who abuse their gun rights, but the vast majority of gun owners are safe and responsible with their guns and only own them to either protect their home and loved ones or in sporting.  Economist Steven Levitt found that one child under 10 drowns annually for every 11,000 pools while 1 child under ten dies annually for every one million guns a difference of over 100 times. Advocates do not ask government to control swimming pools. We have hundreds of millions of guns many more than there are swimming pools and it is very easy to pull a trigger- so why don’t more kids die from guns? The answer is quite logical, the vast majority of guns are owned responsibly. I own a few guns and have a very curious and impulsive 7 year old. Not only are my guns extremely secure but our 7 year old has been trained as well and has a respect for guns also. I would never, ever trust him with access to a gun but I know that he is less likely to play with a found gun somewhere else than another child with no experience with guns.

I believe strongly in gun training and have trained at Front Sight near Las Vegas, Nevada. For every minute spent firing live weapons we spend nearly an hour talking about safe handling, storage and the responsibility of owning and caring weapons. Front Sight has a mandatory lecture on the laws and ethics of defensive gun use. Gun owners know that even brandishing a weapon is a last resort to be taken very seriously. The justice system is already tilted heavily against defensive use of guns; there are powerful incentives for responsible gun use. The vast majority of gun owners will never even brandish their guns defensively. Concealed weapons holders are some of the most law abiding people in the nation according to stats from Kansas and North Carolina.

Whenever a senseless gun crime that gets national attention occurs it is easy to focus on guns and many people have a visceral, emotional reason for wanting to further limit or outlaw guns. This kind of thinking is one sided because it fails to look at alternatives and facts. Guns are also tools for justice and peace. Chicago and Washington DC have some of the highest gun crime rates despite having completely outlawed the carrying of guns. More laws only effect those who respect the law.

No one will ever know what was in the head of Jovan Belcher or if the outcomes would have been any different had the laws in Kansas banned him from owning guns (assuming he abided by the laws). I haven’t been able to find any information about Jovan’s father and all the articles have mentioned only a mother. The lack of father figures in the lives of young men is cited again and again as a major factor in their criminality. Having a strong male figure for boys is essential to their upbringing. Mothers are just as important- maybe even more so- but it is hard for mothers to serve both functions. Men must be held accountable for their children, we are losing generations of young men in our country and the lack of fathers are a big reason why. I found it interesting that Jovan sought out two possible father figures to thank them before ending his life; maybe having a stronger male role model as a boy would have tempered some of the obvious rage that boiled over as a man.

-Josh Kline

Some Thoughts on the Re Election of President Obama

Republicans can and must make the moral case for free markets and limited government. Our ideas on balance are much better for all Americans including non whites and single women that vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.

Mitt,
You dodged a bullet- you and your family are better off. Thank-you for be willing to lead and take on the challenge. I think you ran a good campaign and you should ignore the Monday morning quarterbacks and hold your head high. You gave America a real choice and they chose the wrong path.

America,
You doubled down on Obama. Know that those of us who disagree will not compromise and not yield in our defense of liberty. We will continue to oppose on principle. If the President wants a legacy he must yield and work across the aisle. I will continue to make the case for free markets and free people.

Obama lost big among those of us who pay federal income tax, the vast majority of whom would not have had their income tax raised. They know that more taxes for wealthier Americans won’t make them better off. The numbers aren’t in but he will also surely lose among those who defend this country with their lives last time he lost he got 44%; this time it will probably be less.

Only 25% of the electorate identify with liberal. (35% conservative 40% independent/moderate)

Obama built his win on non whites who are much more socially conservative than Obama and in some ways more than Romney. Big city liberals are not enough to win the presidency- Obama won because minorities bought into his rhetoric and image and believe he empathizes more with them.

The Indefensible? Price Gouging after the storm.

My heart goes out to New Yorkers and New Jerseyites (is it ites or ians?). Sandy has devasted communities – especially the Jersey Shore and Staten Island. One major focus of the media are reports of gas lines stretching miles and shortages of essential supplies. This is a gutsy time to explain why price gouging is good but it is also relevant.

Some of you are tempted right now to take the perfectly moral position that it is bad to take advantage of people in need- right? How could I possibly advocate for price gouging? Stick with me and keep an open mind.

Price is how a market allocates scarce resources. We have all learned about supply and demand, when demand is strong price goes up and usually supply increases allowing price to go down again and the cycle continues. These mechanisms don’t change in a crisis. The supply of gas is constrained after the storm and price should rise but it cannot because we have laws that won’t allow price gouging. So what happens? Since price hasn’t risen demand stays high and people cannot get the gas they need. Perhaps some of those people really need the gas more than others. If the price was allowed to rise people would ration gas. They wouldn’t buy it unless they really needed it- right? Those who really need the gas will pay the price and get the gas. In the system as is though consumers do not ration, or do not ration commensurate with the real supply. Now government comes in and arbitrarily rations by setting limits and/or days that consumers can get gas. This might seem fair but it ignores real need.

Think of price as a signal to producers, when price is allowed to go up producers will act to fill the demand. If flashlights or lanterns suddenly sell for twice the profit, you can bet that producers and shop keppers will work hard to get them into the hands of willing consumers.

Even progressives understand supply and demand and government gouging when it fits in their worldview. Progressives have called for higher taxes on oil and gas at every level of the market to rise costs and force people to ween off of fossil fuels. In Europe gas is taxed at huge levels and private car ownership punished with high taxes and tolls to discourage private cars.

This can be an emotional issue and sometimes logic and reason fail when something just seems wrong.

Perhaps an example from Katrina which has the perspective of time to separate some of the emotions from facts; will help.

From John Stossel (then at ABC News)

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced a crackdown on gougers after Hurricane Katrina. 

John Shepperson was one of the “gougers” authorities arrested. Shepperson and his family live in Kentucky. They watched news reports about Katrina and learned that people desperately needed things.

Shepperson thought he could help and make some money, too, so he bought 19 generators. He and his family then rented a U-Haul and drove 600 miles to an area of Mississippi that was left without power in the wake of the hurricane.

He offered to sell his generators for twice what he had paid for them, and people were eager to buy. Police confiscated his generators, though, and Shepperson was jailed for four days for price-gouging. His generators are still in police custody. 

Before you say to yourself that is was wrong for Shepperson to “take advantage” of those poor people in need in the gulf coast- consider the facts. If Shepperson couldn’t make a big profit on the generators would he have gone to such lengths? Would he have driven all the way from Tennessee to Mississippi and invested all the money into buying the generators and renting the truck? Would he have risked his safety to go into an unstable region? Certainly not- and he had no guarantee of profits either so he was taking a risk. Also we don’t really know the nature of the deals he made. Maybe many of the people he sold to were wealthier than he, maybe his kids really needed that money. It doesn’t really matter but these kinds of distinctions help some people put morality and economics in perspective. Markets are blind to these things. Was he so wrong to see a need and fill it? Did any of us risk our necks to bring in generators? Surely some charitable people did, I interviewed some of them for my film of the re birth of New Orleans. Those people served a vital role- but history shows that people acting out of self interest are the main driver in the increase in prosperity in the world; not benevolence.

One more example, I frequently celebrate on the road when I get “free” wifi and don’t have to pay high fees at hotels. What I have noticed though is that when wifi is free it almost always sucks. Sometimes I cannot even work because the connection is overloaded and slow. I have learned that free wifi isn’t the blessing it appears at least most of the time. When hotels charge fees for wifi it tends to be much faster and better, people have an incentive to ration it and consumers on a pleasure trip will go without leaving it for business people such as myself who really need it. As an aside, nothing is really free- hotels or businesses decide whether or not they want to charge separately for this service. Wifi is paid for by all when it is free and by some on choice when it is not free. Either way the hotel has its’ cost and will certainly charge the customer or go out of business.

Should all businesses price gouge? Of course not- this week I received three emails from Kimpton, a boutique hotel chain I have stayed at in the past. They were offering discounts on rooms at their hotels in the NYC area. Surely they could have charged double, maybe triple and filled their rooms. I don’t doubt that Kimpton’s management made the decision in large part because they thought it was the right thing to do. However I also believe they saw it as a good opportunity to reward their past clients such as myself and inject some much needed good will. This good will may pay dividends as customers like myself will patronize them in the future. Other gougers will be punished by their customers in the future if they overreach, there are incentives either way in a complex market. When government makes a law they destroy the ability of the market to work and bring goods and services to the areas they are most needed. This hurts the very people the law is intended to help which is frequently the case with laws designed to protect.

-Josh Kline