Inequality, Taxes and more – April 17 Podcasts

podcastsIn this week’s roundup there are podcasts from Yaron Brook and Don Watkins (who is filling in for Yaron on has Radical Capitalist podcast). Amy Peikoff had to cancel her weekly podcast due to a work conflict, but did a “make up” show on Saturday evening.

AM560 Rewind: It’s Not Inequality, Stupid

In this week’s broadcast from Chicago, Yaron discusses inequality, referencing a recent article from The Atlantic, “Total Inequality.” From the article, which Yaron quotes, “Total Inequality would refer to the sum of the financial, psychological, and cultural disadvantages that come with poverty.”

The solution to poverty is not to make other people worse off.

Yaron agrees that there certainly are a myriad of issues that are effected by poverty. None of these problems are issues of inequality however, and once you begin to look at them that way implicitly those who have had some success receive the blame for those who have not. And by focusing on relative differences you will have a hard time finding solutions to the actual problems: freedom.

Another great podcast from Yaron. While calls are often interesting on Yaron’s show, it was nice to have one where he was able to keep to the things he wanted to communicate.

Radical Capitalist 42: Do the Rich Really Pay Their “Fair Share” Of Taxes?

Don Watkins hosted this week’s episode of Radical Capitalist as Yaron is currently in Brazil giving a number of talks on inequality. Don opens the show touching briefly on the Panama Papers, which seems to have reinvigorated, as if it needed it, the discussion about the rich and corporations paying their fair share of taxes. While most listeners would see this as a silly question, Don points out that it is often useful to examine such a question on its own terms, which he proceeds to do, focusing on the view of government held by those who believe the rich do not pay their fair share.

A very interesting part of the show is his discussion about how taxes are not a primary issue, they are dependent on one’s view of the role of government. If you believe in a collectivist government, a government that must provide for your needs and wants, you will see taxes as necessary. We must first challenge this collectivist view, challenge what the government is using the money for. After that, dealing with taxes is easy because if a government’s sole purpose is to protect rights, compulsory taxation, i.e. force, is out. We must separate the issue of compulsory taxes for proper functions from the government taking from some to give to others.

What is the most outrageous tax? Don lists a number of contenders and then gives his answer and the reasons for it and in the process emphasizes the point made above. To challenge this tax we must challenge the purpose of the tax.

He had two guests via phone calls, but unfortunately the audio in these segments was so bad as to be nearly unintelligible. The first was about a talk Don would be giving to a Los Angeles area objectivist club. About all I really caught from this was the website for the group. The second call was from Josh Windham of STRIVE a national group of student clubs. They discussed, as well as I could hear, their #CapitalistAndProud hashtag campaign and the state of colleges in regards to ideas, e.g. the popularity of Bernie Sanders.

The positive value for this week was Alex Epstein’s testimony before a Senate Committee where he presented the moral case for fossil fuels and called on Senator Whitehouse, who is leading a push towards prosecuting climate change “deniers” under RICO statutes or for fraud, to apologize and resign for violating the constitutional rights of those deemed deniers. The testimony is worth watching.

Don’t Let it Go…Unheard: Why LGBTQ People (and Everyone else) Should Support North Carolina and Mississippi “Anti-LGBTQ” Laws.

In this week’s slightly delayed show, Amy Peikoff discusses the recent laws passed in North Carolina and Mississippi regarding protection for individuals and businesses who choose not to provide goods or services to customers based on religious beliefs. As always, you can find complete show notes for Amy’s show on her website.

She starts off with a discussion on just what these laws do, and don’t do. These laws, she points out, are not in themselves discriminatory. They simply leave individual business owners to make their own decisions about who they want to associate with without government interference.

The North Carolina law was interesting in that it had two parts. One said that local communities could not pass ordinances mandating that businesses provide services for certain classes of individuals, leaving open that it could still be done at the state level. The second dealt with bathrooms in government buildings, which includes public schools, stating that an individual would use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate. Amy brought up that there is some legitimate safety concerns regarding allowing those males who may claim to identify as trans and then assault a woman or girl in the restroom. [ed: It is interesting that the statists so often use the precautionary principle when it suits them (e.g. global warming) but ignore it otherwise. (Not to be taken as an endorsement of the precautionary principle, just pointing out its inconsistent application.)]

Are these laws actually anti-LGBTQ? In Amy’s view, no. They are laws that protect the freedom of association of everyone. As someone in the live chat pointed this is also exactly the underlying issue with gay marriage. Everyone is better off if they are left free to act as they see fit, even if it is sometimes irrational. It is certainly true that many of the people and companies who are protesting these laws – Bruce Springsteen, PayPal, Michael Moore and Bryan Adams to name a few – are taking full advantage of their freedom of association by choosing not to do business in states with policies they don’t approve of. Which gives a sort of “freedom for me but not for thee” vibe.

Amy summarizes the debate pretty well with this: Which is worse, refusing to bake the cake or forcing someone to bake the cake? The implication is that if the government can force someone “to bake the cake” they can certainly force them to do other things, all on the whim of whoever is in control of the government.

All this a lots more in this week’s show, including an aside about blackberries which reminded me of my “thank you capitalism” post from a few days ago.