Category Archives: Opinion

Freedom of Speech is not just Freedom of the Press

Werner Hetzner, Communication Director of the Capital District Libertarian Party in a letter published in the Times Union on February 4th ask “Did the framers really intend freedom of speech only for the press,” and continues to inquire “Why should the press be more equal and lobbyists less free?”

The letter was in response to a TU Editorial about the Joint Commission of Ethics in which the Times Union took exception to an extension of their mandate into possible oversight of the press.

In his letter, Mr Hetzner pointed out that the Times Union often fails to “object to limits on speech for groups you don’t agree with or find offensive, including “lobbyists, …political consultants, communications specialists or public relations executives” and concludes with the statement “surely newspapers regularly try to influence elections and legislation just like lobbyists.

Picking up on a discussion we had at a recent CDLP monthly meeting at Brown’s Brewing Company, he went on the paraphrase Martin Niemoller “First they came for the Lobbyists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Lobbyist… Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me,” He warned that free speech could be threatened and regulated away. “The ‘Commerce Clause’ has long been a weapon to ‘come for’ many politically inconvenient people, groups and institutions in the past,” and suggested that without vigilance in the defense of all speech, the press “may well be next.”

Helping Big Business and Marginalizing Small Competitors and Unskilled Labor

Have you ever noticed that those with “good” ideas to address economic problems like unemployment and “income inequality” usually involve some sort of government subsidy or “special” tax breaks to a select few. A case in point is our Governor’s Startup New York initiative that provides long term tax exemptions to a select few businesses that locate themselves in one of the areas designated as a startup zone. However, a tax exemption to a selected few means increased taxes to both you and the rest of the people and businesses in the state who are not among the “selected” few. Of course, the selected few will be encouraged to show their gratitude to the Governor in the future.

Income inequality is largely a result of a lack of employment opportunities directed toward the lower level of skills that the unemployed possess. While the recipients of these tax breaks may promise to create jobs at 80 to 100 at a time, these are not necessarily the jobs that are going to provide employment to the currently unemployed. For these people to once again become employed it is necessary to have an economic recovery that applies across the board, one that frees small business from the overregulation and fees that prevent them from growing or getting started. While small business may only create jobs a 5 to 10 jobs at a time, the cumulative effect is far greater. Good ideas do not need government support, good ideas sell themselves, good ideas attract private investments, or so they would if government overregulation didn’t create a layer of fixed costs that discourages the small business startups.

Forcing businesses to provide wages above the skills of their workers, health benefits, retirement and unemployment insurance as well as pay for time not worked, as well as overregulation, licensing fees, a tax free ride for a select few, all have the effect of marginalizing struggling business enterprises, unskilled job applicants and the entire community in which they live. Isn’t it enough that they provide the jobs.

While the corporate giants that can afford these additional mandates might fight them at the start, they are well aware that they can absorb these additional costs which their small competitors cannot.

Minimum Wage

For much of our history, since the enactment of a national minimum wage; states have seen fit to enact their own minimum wage laws while the federal minimum wage has lagged behind. One rationale for this is that what might be an adequate minimum wage in Mississippi is significantly different than one for New York; reason being these are two different economies with different cost of living and a host of other differences.
Governor Cuomo has recently acknowledged the validity of this approach by proposing a minimum wage in New York City of $11.50 and in the rest of New York State of $10.50.
Applying this same rationale to the rest of New York State would require recognition by the Governor that the cost of living on Long Island and the downstate counties of Westchester and Rockland is more than 60% above that of Buffalo. For that matter, even within New York City, there are diverse economies.
Who benefits from a minimum wage? Contrary to the belief of many people, those persons struggling to find a job, feed and provide shelter for their family are not the beneficiaries of a minimum wage. They are its victims.
The imposition of a minimum wage means that if you are a person with few skills, little or no employment experience and in a market where there is a high level of unemployment, you will not be able to find a job because a prospective employer will not be able to higher you at your marketable value. You will be turned away time after time until you become discouraged and become permanently marginalized, with your only hope of survival limited to looking for handouts, working outside the law (under the table) with minimal if any protections, or resorting to a life of crime.
Not only will you be marginalized, but so might the surrounding communities in which you and numerous others live. When wages in a community drive up the prices that people must pay for goods and services, the unemployed and those on a fixed income have less discretionary income and that effects the entire community.
Suggestions have been made that local governments should be able to set their own minimum wages, but even if that were allowed, it would not address the differences that exist within the counties, towns or villages because it would not take into account the different skill levels of residents within those communities, and as Governor Cuomo has so aptly stated, this could lead to a “chaotic situation.”
And so it would for those who seek control of the economic decisions that personal freedom and a free market provide. To a statist, freedom is chaos.