Author Archives: Evan Hempel


Someone who owns a means of production.

If you own something which can be used to make something else (e.g. a computer, wood working tools) and you use it to produce things, then you are a capitalist.

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Posted by on December 29, 2013 in Definitions




An economic system where the means of production are privately owned.

In pure capitalism all means of production are privately owned.  Under socialism no means of production is privately owned.  In a mixed economy there is a mixture between the two.  When we use a phrase like “under capitalism” or “in a capitalist economy” we are referring to pure capitalism.  If we want to refer to a mixed economy it is important to specifically point that out and to detail in what manner it is mixed.

If you believe people should be able to own tools and use them to make new things, then you are in favor of (some degree of) capitalism.

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Posted by on December 29, 2013 in Definitions




The means of production.  Generally durable goods, that is, not consumed in process of production.  For example: tools, factories, etc.

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Posted by on December 29, 2013 in Definitions



A response to Mike Farris on Ron Paul and Homeschooling

Michael Farris of HSLDA fame recently came out against Ron Paul, attacking him as anti-homeschooling due to Paul’s stance against federalism and supposed improper understanding of the role of the 14th amendment. There may be a valid argument here on how the 14th and 10th amendments interact — but its not an area where I currently feel knowledgeable enough to make a comment.  Leaving that discussion aside there is still much wrong in Farris’ post.  I’m pasting Farris’ argument below in full for your perusal, and then I comment on two misunderstandings or misrepresentations in Farris’ post and one place where Farris is blatantly WRONG.


Ron Paul is an enemy of the legal principles that the homeschooling movement has used successfully to defend our freedom to teach our own children. He recently said that he does not believe that the 14th Amendment trumps the 10th Amendment. He said this is an abortion context (which proves that he is not politically pro-life) but, let’s examine what this means in a homechooling context.

In the 1920s, the State of Oregon banned all private education. This Oregon law was challenged as a violation of the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause prohibited states from banning private education because this overrode parental rights in an unconstitutional fashion.

If Ron Paul’s philosophy were applied to this case, then Oregon’s law would have prevailed under the 10th Amendment.

The case I won before the Supreme Court of Michigan for homeschooling freedom was based on the 14th Amendment. The federal constitutional principles of religious freedom and parental rights overrode the power of Michigan to require homeschoolers to all be certified teachers.

The homeschool victory that I argued before the Court of Appeal of California when that court had previously ruled that homeschooling was illegal in that state–was based on the 14th Amendment.

I could go on.

Home schooling would be legal in about 3 states in this country today if Ron Paul’s view of the Constitution was actually practiced by the Supreme Court.

So I have a quesxtion for all of the members of Homeschoolers for Ron Paul: Do you agree with Ron Paul that the states have the exclusive authority over the legality of homeschooling and the 14th Amendment provides no constitutional right to homeschool?

How can you support a candidate who denies the very constitutional principle that our movement used to win our freedom?

Supporting Ron Paul in the name of homeschooling is like supporting Barack Obama in the name of reducing the national debt.

Here is where Farris goes wrong:

  1. Farris appears to ignore Ron Paul’s principle against strong federal power, and how it is more often used to remove liberty and rights.  Roe v. Wade on abortion is a prime example — in that case the supreme court legalized abortion based on the same 14th amendment principle which Farris lauds for legalizing homeschooling.  In the case of homeschooling, strong federal power was used for a good purpose, while in the case of abortion it was used for evil.  Paul’s contention would be that such power is dangerous and should be restricted to the handful of cases delegated to the federal government in the constitution.  It seems Farris thinks otherwise.

  2. Farris contends that without this 14th amendment power, there would be perhaps three states with legal homeschooling.  His argument here is dubious.  Removing this power from the federal level does eliminate the quick fix that was used to permit homeschooling, but it does not follow that homeschooling would have remained banned in the 47 other states without federal involvement.  Instead we would then have more work: either a potential battle in each state to overturn bad law, or a constitutional amendment making parental rights explicit (something which Farris is even now advocating).  So, indeed it is possible that homeschooling would not have become legal in every state, but his assertion that otherwise it would only be legal in three states is extremely suspect.

    Please also note, that as a corollary to the first point, there would be benefit in areas of current bad federal law — proponents of evil would also have to fight their battles state by state.

  3. Farris’ statement that Paul is “not politically pro-life” is undeserved and reflects poorly on Farris.  Abortion has been used as a “convenient thing to be against to rally the base” by moderate republicans for years.  A politician can be anti-abortion, gain votes, then do nothing of substance since everyone assumes that abortion can only be overturned by the Supreme Court.  Indeed the politician only needs to make proper noises during supreme court nominations or perhaps sponsor some bill to require parental notification / cut a few days off of late term abortions / etc.

    The end result?  Nothing gets done, and we can look forward to the indefinite continuation of this state.  Fortunately, as Paul points out, this “wish I could, but I can’t do anything” state of affairs is a lie, and abortion could have been made illegal in some states years ago, by a simple vote in congress to remove federal court jurisdiction.  Yes, this is not a perfect solution, but saving some babies is better than none, and this outcome is much better than what Christians have been duped into accepting these past almost 40 years.  Once that restriction on jurisdiction has been passed, Paul suggests we could start working on a constitutional amendment to make abortion explicitly illegal throughout the US.  To call Paul not pro-life shows either lack of knowledge of his superior policies in the area (in which case Farris is not qualified to comment), or it shows Farris to be a liar.

Clearly the argument against Paul is not as clear cut as Farris would have us believe.  I wish Farris had explained his 14th amendment objections (why it is proper to apply it to homeschooling and why the 10th amendment does not apply).  That would be a much better and informative debate.  Instead Farris has at a minimum failed to show an understanding of the policies he criticizes, and in fact makes it seem he in some ways supports the same big government federalism which brought us disasters such as Roe v. Wade.  This response is truly sad since Farris has done much good for the homeschooling community.


Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Current Politics


NDAA: Indefinite Detention of Americans

Have you heard of this sneaky act to define the US as a battlefield and allow indefinite detention of americans? If you haven’t please read up on it (see links at bottom of email).

I contacted my congressman’s (Chris Gibson’s) office on the bill and they seemed concerned about it too, but since then I haven’t seen or heard any official statement from them. This is an important bill to stop so I recommend that you contact congress and ask that this nefarious bill be opposed. Congressman Justin Amash has written a bi-partisan letter asking congressional leaders to modify the offending provisions, yet up to now Gibson’s name is not signed in support. Check if your congressman has signed, and if not please mention this in your call.

Please also call your senators (Gillibrand and Schumer in NY) — If one of your senators is a conferee on the committee to reconcile the house and senate versions (Gillibrand is) then they have more power to strip the provisions from the bill. This is a bill that any American, liberal or conservative, should oppose.

Thank you,



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Posted by on December 12, 2011 in Current Politics


Quote of the day: Government, the great fiction

Frédéric Bastiat:

One thing, however, remains – it is the original inclination which exists in all men to divide the lot of life into two parts, throwing the trouble upon others, and keeping the satisfaction for themselves. It remains to be shown under what new form this sad tendency is manifesting itself.

The oppressor no longer acts directly and with his own powers upon his victim. No, our conscience has become too sensitive for that. The tyrant and his victim are still present, but there is an intermediate person between them, which is the Government – that is, the Law itself. What can be better calculated to silence our scruples, and, which is perhaps better appreciated, to overcome all resistance? We all therefore, put in our claim, under some pretext or other, and apply to Government. We say to it, ” I am dissatisfied at the proportion between my labor and my enjoyments. I should like, for the sake of restoring the desired equilibrium, to take a part of the possessions of others. But this would be dangerous. Could not you facilitate the thing for me? Could you not find me a good place? or check the industry of my competitors? or, perhaps, lend me gratuitously some capital which, you may take from its possessor? Could you not bring up my children at the public expense? or grant me some prizes? or secure me a competence when I have attained my fiftieth year? By this mean I shall gain my end with an easy conscience, for the law will have acted for me, and I shall have all the advantages of plunder, without its risk or its disgrace!”

As it is certain, on the one hand, that we are all making some similar request to the Government; and as, on the other, it is proved that Government cannot satisfy one party without adding to the labor of the others, until I can obtain another definition of the word Government I feel authorized to give it my own. Who knows but it may obtain the prize? Here it is:

“Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”

For now, as formerly, every one is, more or less, for profiting by the labors of others. No one would dare to profess such a sentiment; he even hides it from himself; and then what is done? A medium is thought of; Government is applied to, and every class in its turn comes to it, and says, “You, who can take justifiably and honestly, take from the public, and we will partake.” Alas! Government is only too much disposed to follow this diabolical advice, for it is composed of ministers and officials – of men, in short, who, like all other men, desire in their hearts, and always seize every opportunity with eagerness, to increase their wealth and influence. Government is not slow to perceive the advantages it may derive from the part which is entrusted to it by the public. It is glad to be the judge and the master of the destinies of all; it will take much, for then a large share will remain for itself; it will multiply the number of its agents; it will enlarge the circle of its privileges; it will end by appropriating a ruinous proportion.

From l’Etat by Frédéric Bastiat.


Rich people aren’t a problem

Often we hear allegations that our economic problems are a result of some people being too wealthy.  Often I think that argument is made out of envy or an inability to be happy when someone else has success.  But leaving that aside, is there any truth to this allegation that the wealthy are hoarding to much stuff, and that this is bad for society?  On the contrary!  Wealth is good for society, and concentrations of wealth (that’s rich people) are not bad for society unless the wealth is concentrated through aggression.

The economy isn’t a zero-sum game – trades only occur when the parties to an exchange each perceive that they will benefit.  This implies that in any voluntary trade between any two people (rich with rich, poor with poor, or poor with rich), both will leave richer in their own estimation.  Thus when one person become richer others don’t need to become poorer.

Lets say you are a rich person with a billion dollars, what can you do with that money?

  1. You can save it under your mattress
  2. You can save it in a bank
  3. You can spend it on all sorts of things the average person doesn’t need a lot of (parties, cars, booze, yachts ….)
  4. You can invest it in a business or in the bond market
  5. You can speculate and spend the money on things that poorer people need and drive up prices
  6. You can spend it on crime that hurts others
  7. You can spend it on “crime” that doesn’t hurt others
  8. You can buy stocks

Only one or two of those eight can be bad for the rest of us:

  1. If you stuff it under your mattress, then there is less money being used to purchase goods (kind of like deflation) so prices go down.  This is good for people who have to buy things, especially the poor.
  2. If you put it in the bank then the bank will lend it out to people who need it or to other businesses who create thing consumers want.  This is also good.
  3. If you spend it on parties and cars then that is good for non-wealthy people too because some have jobs working to provide those things.
  4. If you invest in a business that is also good.  It creates wealth, and lowers prices we pay.
  5. If you speculate and drive up prices then this is bad in the short term for the poor. Longer term it businesses will recognize a profit opportunity and expand production of the goods; driving down prices and creating a wealthier society.
  6. If you spend the money committing crimes which hurt people, then this is obviously bad.
  7. If you spend it on crimes that don’t hurt anyone, then you aren’t hurting anyone; and there is a chance you are doing good, like a normal business, by supplying a good to others in a voluntary transaction.
  8. If you buy stocks, then the previous owner of the stocks has your money and can use it on one of the above uses.

In conclusion, unless the wealthy use their money in outright aggression against someone, they do no harm over the long term, and in most cases quickly bring gains to society.  Don’t condemn a wealth disparity unless it is being created or maintained through force (including government force).

Further study:

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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Economics


Quote of the day

All innovation goes through three stages. One possesses unique knowledge and profits from it. Others imitate and share profits. Finally, the knowledge is widely shared and no longer profitable on its own which thereby inspires new knowledge.

~ Stephan Kinsella, a summary of Bastiat’s Economic Harmonies ch.10 para. 35 – 41.

Discussion topic: Do you agree?  What are the implications for patents and copyright?

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Posted by on July 6, 2011 in Quote of the day


America is becoming a nation ruled by decree

Our country is supposed to have a rule of law not rule by decree. What do I mean by this? Rule by decree is where the powers that be (historically kings), rule by many arbitrary decrees that can be changed at their whim and do not universally apply to all citizens. Compare this to rule of law, where laws are not arbitrary or abundant, but few and universally apply to all.

America has gone far from this ideal of rule of law and has become in many ways a country ruled by many large and small “kings” which issue arbitrary decrees. There are two main ways in which we have become a country ruled by decree:

  1. Explicit rule by decree is where a government has abdicated its law making authority to another agency.  If you want to recognize where this type of rule by decree is in place look for phrases like “Some Agency has decided ____ will not be allowed.”  Examples:
    1. The federal government created the TSA and leaves much of the rule making to the arbitrary decisions of the TSA bureaucracy.  This has resulted in violation of constitutional rights and abhorrent procedures which most Americans detest – all in the name of security but in many cases without real security benefits (c.f. Security Theater).
    2. New York State DEC changed the environmental regulations to prohibit open burning.  This rule change was made without legislative approval since that power had been delegated to the DEC.
    3. Some town zoning boards make decisions or exceptions on a case by case basis rather than by laws which universally apply to everyone.  Other times they may use their power to hinder permits based on personal vendettas rather than uniform treatment of all.  Also towns on their own discretion will give tax breaks to individual companies to attract jobs.  Tax breaks are great, but they should universally apply to all.
  2. Implicit rule by decree due to selective enforcement of law.  This rule by decree is enabled by the sheer volume of laws currently on the books – civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate estimates the average American now unknowingly commits three felonies a day.  Examples:
    1. A prime example on both the Federal and State level is housing and mortgage fraud.  There have been a few low level prosecutions, but overall the justice system has tuned a blind eye to pervasive law breaking by the big banks.  A Tampa-area mortgage banker was sentenced to 15 years of prison, while Angelo Mozilo (former CEO of Countrywide) got no prison time but only a fine of slightly more than 10% of his wealth [link].
    2. Selective enforcement may not be as visible on a local level (unless it happens to you or a friend), but it is often used to intimidate, as in a recent case in Rochester.

America should not be a nation ruled by decree.  The law should be clear and simple, and the government should give out no favors.  I believe Americans are beginning to realize how far we’ve gone from the rule of law and are looking for a return to smaller, simpler government with firm rule of law and no favoritism.


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Posted by on July 2, 2011 in Political Theory