Sometimes When I’m Bored…

I write model legislation correcting overreaches of power by government. Totes awesome, right? Like peeing your pants in “Billy Madison,” it’s the coolest!

The problem of too little economic freedom and protection for the economic rights of the American people is twofold: 1) Too many people realize that most infringements, including the most egregious, on a day-t0-day basis come from state and local government and 2) most Americans fail to realize that the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment unambiguously protects their rights as much in the economic realm as it does in the personal non-economic realm.

As someone who vigorously believes in the so-called “Incorporation Doctrine,” or the idea that the the Fourteenth Amendment broadly applies the Bill of Rights to the states, which has been used in recent cases involving the First and Second Amendments, this principle unambiguously means that the 14th Amendment protects economic rights.

This makes it imperative for Congress to intervene to protect some of the most basic and important of these American liberties under what I call the Economic Civil Rights Act. The reader’s mind will undoubtedly jump to the original Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed by Congress as a response to the out of control efforts of racist state governments violating the lives and liberties of blacks in their jurisdictions. I think the invoking that image, while not exactly the same, is no less necessary.

You have states that barely recognize private property rights and seize it from innocent citizens almost at will; governments restrict the ability for citizens to seek gainful employment in the careers they want by placing wage floors which mandate unemployment for all those not productive enough to justify receiving such a wage; in the 1960’s, only 1 in 20 occupations required some kind of government license, now that number is 1 in 3, which has monopolized so many industries, reduced competition, and most importantly, infringed on fundamental economic rights.

While I could come up with an endless list of protections, I recognize that too much federal power, even in the pursuit of protecting individual rights, is always a bad thing and also that knowledge of local affairs is equally limited in Washington.

Accordingly, I’ve limited the document to five items that I think are the most important and basic to economic freedom and flourishing. If any of you fellow forgotten beards would like add any you think are more important or delete any you think are not, let me know in the comments.

Economic Civil Rights Act of 2014

  1. The right to engage in a lawful trade or occupation, with only minimal and justifiably necessary interference from government in order to carryout a necessary public interest like public health and safety, shall not be infringed.
  2. The right to liberty of contract in the negotiation of terms of the contract or financial compensation between the parties shall not be infringed, including in the form of minimum or maximum compensation, or minimum and maximum working hours.
  3. No political body, or body associated with the government, shall have the power to seize private property for anything but constitutionally obligated public use. Seized property, or the value thereof, shall in no way be transferred to or used by private persons or entities.
  4. The First Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights shall not be construed as to deny the right of commercial and otherwise economic-oriented speech.
  5. No citizen of the United States shall be made to join any organization of any kind as a condition of employment in a lawful trade or occupation.


Your shady car salesman is your government’s fault


It’s funny how many people point to shady car salesmen and auto dealerships as a sign of “market failure,” yet fail to mention, if they’re even aware, that state governments mandate that cars be sold that way due to the political influence dealership associations in legislatures.

If we had a truly free market in auto sales, manufacturers would be able to bypass the slicker-than-oil car salesmen all together, which would most likely reduce the starting price dramatically once you start eliminating auto dealer add ons like the patently absurd “dealer doc fees” and allow for easier liquidation of inventories and reducing burdens on the consumer feedback process to manufactures.

Even some at the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division have called for the legalization of such transactions.

File under “take your own advice”

George Mason University economics professor Don Bourdreaux blogging over at Cafe Hayek (a crackerjack site if you haven’t already checked it out in the “Sites I Like” section) has some good advice for left-liberals who want private companies to start instituting some Orwellian-sounding thing called “unconscious-bias training.” He writes in a post which initially was a letter to a Wall Street Journal article on the matter:

You report that increasing numbers of U.S. firms insist that their employees undergo “unconscious-bias training” in order to rid employees of any harmful yet hidden prejudices that they might bring into the workplace (“Bringing Hidden Biases Into the Light,” Jan. 10).

It’s well and good that “diversity experts” are paid to raise employees’ awareness of their unrecognized biases against people of color, against young people, against old people, against obese people, and against people who graduated from different colleges.  But why not expand “unconscious-bias training” so that “Progressives” themselves can personally benefit from the exercise?

How about “unconscious-bias training” to raise “Progressives’” awareness of their own bigotries – such as their biases against successful entrepreneurs and investors, against consensual capitalist acts, against people who oppose social engineering, and against those of us who sense that programs such as ”unconscious-bias training” smack less of useful worker training and more of “Progressive” indoctrination?

As the first line of your report reads, “Everyone has hidden biases.”

Donald J. Boudreaux