Government is…

It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

Thoughts On Plunder and Your Neighbor, Frédéric Bastiat

I read The Law, by Frédéric Bastiat, again. It’s still great. Below you will find a few quotes. The really hard part is picking which passages to quote — the whole (short) book is entirely quotable. It’s short. It’s sweet. It’s practical. It’s brilliant.

Love does not steal from one’s neighbors to enrich oneself.

This plunder may be only an exceptional blemish in the legislation of a people, and in this case, the best thing that can be done is, without so many speeches and lamentations, to do away with it as soon as possible, notwithstanding the clamors of interested parties. But how is it to be distinguished? Very easily. See whether the law takes from some persons that which belongs to them, to give to others what does not belong to them. See whether the law performs, for the profit of one citizen, and, to the injury of others, an act which this citizen cannot per- form without committing a crime. Abolish this law without delay; it is not merely an iniquity — it is a fertile source of iniquities, for it invites reprisals; and if you do not take care, the exceptional case will extend, multiply, and become system- atic. No doubt the party benefited will exclaim loudly; he will assert his acquired rights. He will say that the State is bound to protect and encourage his industry; he will plead that it is a good thing for the State to be enriched, that it may spend the more, and thus shower down salaries upon the poor workmen. Take care not to listen to this sophistry, for it is just by the systematizing of these arguments that legal plunder becomes systematized.
– Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

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Thinking About Charity

I almost dated a girl named Charity in high school, but that’s not what I’m thinking about.

My wife and I often discuss charitable giving. She is one of the most charitable people I know. We have been greatly blessed, and she desires to share what God has blessed us with. I’m the skeptic, “Is that money being used wisely? Is it really making a difference? Is the Gospel being preached through that ministry?”

John Stossel has a good piece at Reason, “Support Real Charity.”

So where should we give? Charity-rating services try to separate good charities from scams, but they get conned, too. The definition of “charitable work” is rarely clear. How should the board of a nonprofit’s first-class hotel expenses during a trip to Africa be classified?

Strobist: Your REALTOR® Would Like Some Free Photography, Please

I always find it fascinating that people value what they do, but often do not value what other people do. I see this kind of thing too often.

Please pardon the detour today. I need to rant. I’d like to share with you the ballsiest request for free picture use that I have ever gotten…

Ever feel like you are being taken advantage of as a photographer? Or that people in other professions think so little of us that they assume we would gladly work for free?

Read the whole thing. It’s pretty funny: Strobist: Your REALTOR® Would Like Some Free Photography, Please.

How the minimum wage is the very worst thing to do for low skill workers

“McDonalds and the minimum wage”

The effects fall heaviest on low-skill teenagers, especially minorities. Tom Sowell is eloquent on this point, for example in a recent New York Post OpEd. I was unaware until reading it that minimum wage laws were initially backed in part as conscious efforts to discriminate against minorities and preserve jobs for white people. Sometimes, I guess, policies do have their intended effects.