Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: November 15, 2011


Economic Statistics for 15 Nov 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

A decline in energy prices resulted in a -0.3% drop in producer prices, with the core rate, which excludes food and energy, remaining unchanged last month. On a year-over-year basis, producer prices have risen 6.1%, with the core rate rising 2.8%.

Retail sales activity continued to increase in October, rising 0.5% overall, and 0.3% excluding auto sales.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey edged back into positive territory for the first time since May, rising from -8.48 to 0.61. The six-month outlook is strengthening, with predictions of growth in new orders, which should, if it materializes, result in increased hiring as well.

Finally, in the two weekly retail sales reports, Redbook reports pre-Thanksgiving promotions helped boost store sales by 3.3%. ICSC-Goldman says sales rose 0.3% last week, up 3.21% from the year before.

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Dale Franks
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SCOTUS takes on ObamaCare–Bigger than Roe v Wade?

ObamaCare, as mentioned in a previous post, gets its Constitutional review by the Supreme Court today.  CATO’s Ilya Shapiro lays out the agenda:

This morning, as expected, the Supreme Court agreed to take up Obamacare.  What was unexpected — and unprecedented in modern times — is that it set aside five-and-a-half hours for the argument.  Here are the issues the Court will decide:

  1. Whether Congress has the power to enact the individual mandate. – 2 hours
  2. Whether the challenge to the individual mandate is barred by the Anti-Injunction Act. – 1 hour
  3. Whether and to what extent the individual mandate, if unconstitutional, is severable from the rest of the Act. – 90 minutes
  4. Whether the new conditions on all federal Medicaid funding (expanding eligibility, greater coverage, etc.) constitute an unconstitutional coercion of the states. – 1 hour

Those are critical questions.  They tend to define in four points, how threatened our rights are by this awful legislation.  Forget what it is about, consider to what level it intrudes and what, if found Constitutional, it portends.

If found Constitutional, you can take the actual Constitution, the one that no fair reading gives an inkling of support to such nonsense as ObamaCare, and cut it up for toilet paper.  It will be, officially, dead.

A decision that supports those 4 points (or even some of them) means the end of federalism and the final establishment of an all powerful national government which can (and will) run your life just about any way it wishes.   If it has the power to enact a mandate such as that called for in ObamaCare, it can mandate just about anything it wishes.  And, if the new conditions on all federal Medicaid funding stand, the states have no grounds to resist or refuse other federal intrusion.

In any event, the Supreme Court has now set the stage for the most significant case since Roe v. Wade.  Indeed, this litigation implicates the future of the Republic as Roe never did.  On both the individual-mandate and Medicaid-coercion issues, the Court will decide whether the Constitution’s structure — federalism and enumeration of powers — is judicially enforceable or whether Congress is the sole judge of its own authority.  In other words, do we have a government of laws or men?

If you’re devoted to freedom and liberty and opposed to intrusive and coercive government, you know how you want this to come out.

And it isn’t to the advantage of ObamaCare.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Zuccotti Park cleared–enforcement of property rights? Or just the result of political pressure?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally made the decision to evict the OWS protesters from Zuccotti Park last night.  His decision, he claims, had to do with public health and safety.

Some time after 6 a.m., New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a written statement that while he supports the First Amendment rights of the protesters, his greater priority is protecting the public’s health and safety, and he took full responsibility for the “final decision to act.”

“Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest but, rather, to break laws, and in some cases, to harm others,” Bloomberg said, noting that for some residents of the area, noise and unsanitary conditions of the Occupy camp had created “an intolerable situation.”

He added: “The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out — but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others — nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law. There is no ambiguity in the law here — the First Amendment protects speech — it does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.”

Well there is ambiguity (there’s also a right to peaceful assembly although it is arguable the assembly has been peaceful), but note the thing he doesn’t site – property rights.  Or at least not directly.  He sorta, kinda alludes to it when he talks about the “exclusion of others”.  That’s a privately owned park which has been literally taken over by the OWS group and its owners have been denied the ability to make decisions about its use.  Why not just say the occupiers (because that’s what they call themselves – perhaps squatters is a better description) have been declared trespassers and removed?  To easy?

One of the pernicious problems I see all the time when it comes to government officials is their selective enforcement of property rights.   It seems to me that once the exclusionary tactics were applied where those who owned the park were excluded from using it as they wish, they had every right in the world to demand the eviction of the protesters. 

I obviously don’t know what the company that holds those rights had to say because it seems they weren’t really even given a voice in that sort of decision.  On the other hand, had they decided that it was good use of their property and gone along with the OWS protesters, shouldn’t their decision about their property had some weight?

I guess what I’m getting at is that other than a mention here and there, no one knows much about the owners or their druthers.

I’m actually sympathetic with the city’s reasons for clearing the park.  I think Bloomberg is exactly right.  But my larger point is where are the property owners in all of this.  Why aren’t they an integral part of this process? 

Property rights have been under assault in this country for some time.   The abominable Kelo decision was the cherry on top of the sundae that has all but destroyed those rights.   More and more I see government deciding how private property will be used and only enforcing laws on trespassing and the like when it serves their purpose (in this case I imagine that the pressure from those who lived nearby finally got to the point that Bloomberg was forced to act).

The right to private property (and its exclusive use) is a foundational right from which many other rights spring.  Like so much in this country, government has moved in on that right and while giving it lip service has intruded to such an extent in its execution that it is arguable if the right can be exercised properly anymore.  When that right is subsumed, all of our rights are in jeopardy.

We’ll see how much they’re in jeopardy with the upcoming ObamaCare decision.  It will either give us a new lease on our rights or, it may end up being the final nail in their coffin.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO