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Morality of the Market Print E-mail
by Wes Riddle    Tue, Mar 20, 2012, 12:01 PM

In addition to the market’s “miracle” of efficiency, there is an important moral element in the functioning of the free-market economy that we sometimes overlook or undervalue.  There are none who are only masters and others who are simply servants!  In the market society we are all both servants and masters, but without either force or its threat.  In our roles as producers—be it as men who hire out our labor for wages, resource owners who rent out or sell our property for a price, or entrepreneurs who direct production for anticipated profits—we serve our fellow men in attempting to make the products and provide the services we think they may be willing and interested in buying from us.

 “Service with a smile” and “the customer is always right” are hallmarks of the seller’s deference to those to whom they offer their supplies.  What motivates such attitudes is the fact that in an open, competitive market no one can compel us to buy from a seller who offers something less attractive or more costly than what some rival of his is presenting to us for our consideration.

And why are we interested in not offending or driving away some potential customer into the arms of our rival suppliers?  Because only by successfully making the better and less expensive product can we hope to earn the income that then enables us to re-enter the market, now in the role of consumer and demander of what our neighbors are offering to sell to us.

As consumers, we become the “masters” who those same neighbors attempt to satisfy with newer, better, and cheaper products.  Now those whom we have served defer to us.  We “command” them, not through the use of force but through the attraction of our demand and the money we offer for the goods they bring to the market.  By how much we can “command” the service of others in the market in our role as consumer is directly related to the extent we have been successful in our service to our neighbors as reflected in the money income we have earned from satisfying their wants and desires.

In a free society, no man is required to do work or supply any good he considers morally wrong and ethically questionable.  He may earn less from choosing to supply something that is valued less highly in the market, but he cannot be forced to produce anything that God and/or conscience dictates to be wrong.

On the other hand, we cannot prevent others from supplying a good or service we find morally objectionable.  The ethics of liberty and the free market require that we use only morally justifiable means to stop our neighbors from demanding and supplying something that offends us.  We must use reason, persuasion, and example of a better and more right way to live.

Unfortunately, too many of our fellow men want to preserve or extend a return to a form of a slave society—regardless of the name under which it is presented.  Too many want to dictate how others may make a living, or at what price and under what terms they may peacefully and voluntarily interact with their fellow human beings for purposes of mutual material, cultural, and spiritual betterment.

Our task, for those of us who understand and care deeply about human liberty, is to reawaken our fellow men an awareness of the miracle and morality of the market.  The task, I know, seems daunting.  But it must have seemed that way to our American Founding Fathers when they heralded the truth of the unalienable rights of man for which they fought and then won a revolution, or when advocates of economic freedom first made the case for the free market.

The world was transformed by these ideals of the morality of free men in free markets.  What is most important is that each of us understands as best we can the miracle and the morality of the market economy.  Too often the friends of freedom allow the advocates of various forms of government regulation, control, and redistribution to set the terms of the debate.  Freedom will not win if we do not put those proponents of political paternalism on the defensive.

By that moral right do they claim to tell other men how to peacefully go about their private and market affairs—as long as those men do not use murder, theft, or fraud in their dealings with others?  By what ethical norms do those political paternalists declare their right to take that which others have honestly acquired through production and trade, and redistribute it without the voluntary consent of those from whom it has been taken?  By what assertion of superior wisdom and knowledge do they presume to know more than the individual minds of all the members of society about how the market should go about the business of manufacturing all the things we want, and matching the demands with the supplies?

Defenders of individual freedom and the market economy have nothing to be ashamed or fearful of in advocating the free society.  The American system of limited government, personal liberty, and free enterprise liberated the individual creativity and energies of many millions of people.  It provided the greatest opportunity for individual betterment and the highest standard of living ever experienced in human history.  It also generated the most charitable and philanthropic society in the world.  Therefore, it should be the critics and opponents of this system of individual freedom that should have to justify their continuing calls for reducing our liberty.

It was clear thinking and moral courage that won men liberty in the past.  Liberty can triumph again, if each of us is willing but to try.  We need to take to heart the words o the free-market Austrian economist and long-time FEE senior adviser, Ludwig von Mises:

 

Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others.  And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction… What is needed to stop the trend towards socialism and despotism is common sense and moral courage.

 ___________________

Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and Oxford.  Widely published in the academic and opinion press, he serves as State Director of the Republican Freedom Coalition (RFC) and is currently running for U.S. Congress (TX-District 25) in the Republican Primary.   He is also author of two books, Horse Sense for the New Millennium (2011), and The Nexus of Faith and Freedom (2012).  Both books are available on-line at
www.WesRiddle.net and from fine bookstores everywhere.

Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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If We Need You, We’ll Call You Print E-mail
by James Reza    Wed, Mar 14, 2012, 09:33 AM

I get a kick every time something horrific occurs in a public school like the one recently in Ohio or a few years ago in Colorado, when some demented kid or kids go on a shooting rampage killing several kids and sometimes teachers, or when one or several kids get killed in an auto accident, leaving the student body along with the teaching staff stunned and asking, “Why?”  Then to ease the trauma, and bad experience of the students, the school administrators instead of bringing in religious clergymen to talk to the students, bring in counselors to try to explain to them why sometimes these tragic things occur.

One has to wonder why all these horrific and tragic situations are constantly occurring in our schools.  But then, all one has to do is see how our government, particularly the Obama Administration, along with the ACLU, are constantly assaulting our religious institutions, and most recently my own Catholic Church while stopping schools from mentioning God in their school activities.  I’m well aware that Madalyn Murry O’Hair, an atheist, was instrumental in her Supreme Court ruling (Murray v. Curlett) lawsuit, which led to a landmark ruling which ended official Bible-reading in American public schools in 1963. In 1995, Ms. O’Hair was kidnapped and murdered, along with her son Jon Murray and granddaughter Robin Murry O’Hair, by her former American Atheist office manager David Roland Waters.  I’ve heard of “Poetic Justice” but these O’Hair murders take the cake!

Unable to have Bible readings in school hasn’t stopped there.  Now anti-religious groups backed by our government has tried to stop sports teams from praying during sports events, or even at a graduation.  Some schools don’t even allow students to give Christmas Cards during the Yuletide Season and the list just goes on and on.  Then, when a tragedy occurs like I just mentioned, students, parents, and teachers quickly get together to pray or hold a candlelight vigil in whatever school the tragic event occurred.  I often wonder why the government doesn’t try to stop a public school from assembling to have a prayer or candle vigil.  To me it’s like the government is trying to look like the good guys during a crisis and are saying, “Keep out God, however, if we’ll need you, we’ll call you!”  These anti-God government groups often remind me of criminals who are on death row.  Once caught and sentenced to death, most finally ask for forgiveness and suddenly turn to God when they are going to have their lives snuffed out.  One wonders why they didn’t look for God and his teachings when they were free men or women.  Then it dawns on me that most criminals were probably never exposed to Him even when they were in school.  “But that’s their parent’s job James,” some might say.  True, but if their parents were not practicing whatever religion, at least in school during a sporting event, or a graduation, or whatever, they could have at least heard some form of prayer if the schools were allowed to do so.  “What‘s the harm in that?” I ask myself.  In high school in the 50s, I, a Catholic, along with Baptist, Methodist, Jehovah Witness, and Episcopalian students would all bow our heads to hear scripture being read over the PA.  I don’t think those Biblical reading did us any harm.

As a kid, I never saw my mom or dad in church, or even praying at home.  It wasn’t until mom nearly died with TB that she and dad turned to God.  Luckily, I was enrolled in a Catholic school and for 8 years the nuns taught us kids our Catholic faith and made us learn and recite our prayers daily.  I’m a big time sinner, and am well aware of what God’s commandments want me to do.  Having said that, I often wonder why sort of individual I would have turned out to be had I not been exposed to God’s teachings, probably worse I imagine. I’m not perfect and many times as I’m about to do something that I know offends God I can hear my beloved teacher, Sister Lawrencia, whispering in my ear, “James, you know better than that!”

As I see all this anti-God movement in our country by our government and other radical anti-religious groups I wonder where our country is heading.  Some groups have even tried to take the slogan “In God We Trust” out of our currency.  Aware that secularists believed that America should be a secular state or a godless state, the framers of the Constitution did not want religion to influence public policy. Simply put, politics and religion don’t mix.  Government and religion should be kept as far apart as possible.  Yet, the United States Constitution addresses the issue of religion in two places: in the First Amendment, and the Article VI prohibition on religious tests as a condition for holding public office.  The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  This provision was later expanded to state and local government, through the Incorporation of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Which leads me to this question, as so stated in the First Amendment, why is President Obama trying to force Catholic run institutions (schools, hospitals, universities, etc.) to offer women abortion prescriptions and anti contraceptives which are totally against the Catholic Church?  The First Amendment clearly states that President Obama has no business telling my church, or any other church for that matter, how they should or should not worship.  Furthermore, he has no authority to impose his pro-abortion mandates on any church, including my Catholic Church.

I leave with this questions, why is it that Congress can pray before every session?  And why do Presidents, and other government officials put their hand on a Bible and swear to uphold the laws of the United States?  I often wonder why don’t they use the Koran?   And finally, if elected government officials can pray in their assemblies, why can’t school children say a prayer in school?
 

 

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More Strange Moments at the Courthouse Print E-mail
by John Browning    Wed, Mar 14, 2012, 09:31 AM

As regular readers of “Legally Speaking” know, the courthouse is not always a solemn place where matters of great import are considered by Solomonic judges and argued by zealous advocates.  It is also a place with its own “Twilight Zone” moments, as the following examples illustrate.

 

Do As I Do, Not as I Say

 

Criminal defense attorney Bill Whitaker recently had one of those “Wanna get away?” moments you see in Southwest Airlines commercials.  During closing argument in federal court in Akron, Ohio, Whitaker seemed to forget his role on behalf of defendant Jimmy Dimora, who stood accused of corruption and criminal conspiracy charges in a case involving huge amounts of alleged kickbacks paid to Ohio government officials.  Whitaker confidently told the jury he expected a verdict of “guilty” on each and every one of the counts.  The defense lawyer realized his mistake after he returned to the counsel’s table where his client was sitting, at which point he promptly turned to the jury and said, “I mean, not guilty.”  Too bad trials aren’t conducted using playground rules, and you can’t just blurt out “Do over!”

 

What Not to Do During a Boring Trial, Part 1

 

There are lots of people who waste time at work on the Internet.  Some, I’ve heard, actually will go so far as to watch porn sites.  But one place where this exercise in bad judgment gets even worse is if your job is that of a court clerk, and that particular day at work involves a rape trial.  54 year-old London court clerk Debasish Majumder has worked for years at his court, but in December 2011 he became, by his own admission, “bored.”  Unfortunately for Majumder, this boredom overcame him during a rape trial, and he was caught surfing porn sites during witness testimony, only to be caught by the judge (who later reported the clerk to authorities).  Police found “child pornography and other extreme images” on Majumder’s home computer.  The clerk will now have to stave off boredom in a jail cell, after being charged and pleading guilty to misconduct in public office and possession of indecent images.

 

What Not to Do During a Boring Trial, Part 2

 

In February, a Texas special education officer resigned after being caught on camera sleeping during a due process proceeding brought by the parents of a special needs student against the Keller Independent School District.  During the 3-day long hearing, special education judge Larry Craddock allegedly slept for extended periods of time.  Attorneys and the child’s parents say that they “dropped water bottles,” tried coughing and shuffling books in futile attempts to wake up the sleeping hearing officer, who resigned after being told they also caught him on video with cell phone cameras.  While Craddock blames the episode on “medication,” it turns out this judge is no stranger to catching a few winks on the job.  In a 2006 grievance filed against Craddock in a Houston-area family, he was accused of falling asleep 15 times during their due process hearing.

 

What You Draw Can and Will Be Held Against You

 

If you’re going to commit a crime, but have a habit of doodling, you may want to reconsider.  In Oregon, an appellate court recently upheld the conviction of a man whose cartoon drawing depicting a holdup scene was used as evidence against him. Ariel Jasso was on trial in 2009 for the robbery of a marijuana dealer with several others.  Although Jasso denied taking part in the robbery, responding police found (on a school paper in Jasso’s backpack) a carton showing a gunman demanding “jewlery” from a frightened-looking woman.  Reasoning that the doodle pointed to greater involvement in the crime than Jasso would admit, the trial court admitted it as evidence and the appellate court agreed that the judge was right to do so.  Jasso’s defense attorney tried to dismiss it as just “a doodle in a notebook,” but later admitted it “was a pretty damning piece of evidence.”

 

If We Can’t Have Coconuts, the Terrorists Win

 

A courthouse deputy at the Frederick County (Maryland) Courthouse spotted an unusual object next to one of the courthouse columns on March 7, 2012: a coconut.  He alerted other authorities to the suspicious food item, and the sheriff’s office, police department, fire and rescue personnel, and the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Bomb Squad all responded, and the courthouse was evacuated.  The coconut was later determined to be “safe.”  Another triumph of taxpayer dollars at work!

 

The “Too Much Sex” Lawsuit

 

A New York woman, Lindsay Blankmeyer, has filed a federal lawsuit against her former college, Stonehill College of Boston, Massachusetts, alleging that the administrators at the Catholic school didn’t do enough to keep her roommate from having too much sex.  Blankmeyer claims that her roommate was constantly having sex with her boyfriend or engaging in “sexually inappropriate video chatting” with him while Blankmeyer was in the room.  She alleges that though she tried to persuade school officials to either move the randy roommate or find Blankmeyer a different room, Stonehill College administrators took no action.  Blankmeyer maintains that the situation caused her to fall “into a dark and suicidal depression” resulting in a leave of absence from school as well as “extensive psychiatric and medical treatment.”  A Stonehill College spokesperson denies the allegations.

 

Turn Off Your Cellphone, Even If You Don’t Have One

 

Finally, we have police charges only Franz Kafka could love.  A man in Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada was pulled over by police on March 2, 2012, and issued a $199.80 ticket for violating an ordinance against talking on a cellphone while driving.  There’s just one problem: neither the man nor his wife were carrying—or even own—a cell phone!  He begged the police to search the car, reportedly telling them he couldn’t have been talking on an imaginary cellphone.  But that didn’t stop the police from issuing the ticket anyway.  The driver even tried reporting the incident to the local police department, but was just laughed at, leaving him with only one choice: fight the ticket in court.

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Would today's GOP back Sam Houston? Print E-mail
by Will Lutz    Wed, Mar 7, 2012, 10:13 AM
Most Americans know about the brave group of Texans who met 176 years ago on March 2 at Washington-on-the-Brazos to demand their God-given freedoms from a despot named Santa Anna, who was almost as unpopular in Mexico as in Texas.
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From Innocent to Guilty—In the Blink of an Eye? Print E-mail
by John Browning    Tue, Mar 6, 2012, 08:33 AM

The average length of the blink of an eye lasts no more than 300 to 400 milliseconds.  The typical individual blinks around 10 times in a minute’s span, depending on external stimuli.  Yet as fleeting an act as it may be, the blink of an eye may decide the fate of 33 year-old accused murderer Ricardo Woods.

 

Woods has been charged with fatally shooting 35 year-old David Chandler on October 28, 2010.  Chandler was sitting in the passenger seat of a car at an intersection in Cincinnati, when he was shot in the head and neck.  Despite two surgeries, Chandler was paralyzed; he lived for two more weeks before dying on November 12, 2010.  Because of his injuries, he could only communicate by blinking.  But that didn’t stop police from interviewing him the same day he was shot.

 

Police brought a priest, the Rev. Phillip Sehr, into Chandler’s hospital room to administer last rites.  They also videotaped their in-hospital questioning of Chandler, asking him to blink three times for “yes,” and twice for “no” in response to each question.  According to prosecutors, Chandler knew Ricardo Woods from having been involved in drug deals with him.  Hooked up to a ventilator, Chandler allegedly was shown just one photo—a photo of Woods—and purportedly identified “O” (Woods’ street name) with a series of blinks.  According to prosecutors, the videotaped session showing Chandler’s blinking identification should be admissible as evidence because, even though only one photo was shown to the victim instead of a whole lineup, Chandler was well-acquainted with Woods and the identification came soon after the shooting.  In addition, having been administered the last rites, Chandler believed that his death was imminent; in that event, under the rules of evidence, the dead man’s “testimony” could be used during trial as what is known as a “dying declaration.”

 

But Woods’ criminal defense attorney, Kory Jackson, disputes the blinking “testimony” and maintains it shouldn’t be allowed as evidence.  According to Jackson, the blinks are inconsistent, and there are flaws in the interpretation of these blinks.  He says “In lots of responses, he isn’t answering correctly.  He either doesn’t blink or blinks too many times.”  In addition, Jackson believes that Chandler’s condition at the time and the medications that were used to treat him could have impacted the man’s ability to comprehend and respond to the officers’ questions.

 

However, Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Beth Myers rejected Jackson’s arguments.  After reviewing the video of the questioning, Judge Myers ruled that Chandler’s “pronounced, exaggerated” eye movements were reliable evidence.  She found that “the identification is reliable and there is not a substantial likelihood of misidentification.”  With that decision, Woods’ trial was set to go forward in mid-November 2011, but just as the trial was about to start, it was delayed for unknown reasons. The trial has not yet occurred.

 

When the trial does proceed, will it be fair for a jury to be swayed by the video of the deceased identifying his killer by blinking?  Murderers have been convicted on the basis of “ear witness testimony” and even a victim’s bloody scrawl of his killer’s name.  While this blinking “testimony” may give new meaning to the term “eyewitness,” perhaps there is something to defense lawyer Jackson’s protests.  After all, the reflexes of blinking are controlled by multiple muscles in the upper and lower eyelid (muscles that are not only important to blinking, but to other functions as well, like squinting or winking).  Could Chandler’s injuries and the medications he was on have affected his blinking, despite Judge Myers’ belief that the eye movements were “pronounced” enough to constitute a reliable identification?  Jackson points out that the interpretations of the blinks were inconsistent, with Judge Myers disagreeing with how the detectives interpreted at least 2 of the blinks.

 

Jurors will eventually get to watch the videotaped interview, and they will decide for themselves what meaning to attribute to a dying man’s blinking eyes.  And when they decide, Ricardo Woods may go from innocent to guilty—in the blink of an eye.

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