Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vindicated! How Ron Paul's Life Proves My Point

No later than two days--TWO DAYS--after I posted my last blog, which is the latest in my Libertarian Views of Law series, I came along a passage in End the FED that proves my point about the unnecessariness of regulation in starting and running a business:

"My first job, and that of my brothers, was to assist my dad in a small dairy run out of our basement. Even at the age of five, the incentive system was instilled in me. Our job was to make sure all the glass bottles, which had been hand washed, were clean. It was bad for business if a customer saw a black spot in the bottom of a milk bottle. For each dirty bottle we found as we removed them from the conveyor belt and placed them into the wooden case, we were rewarded a penny. It didn't take long for us to know when a certain uncle was washing the bottles, since more dirty bottles were found on those days." End the Fed, Chapter 4 "My Intellectual Influences", p.33-34

Paul's anecdote touches on topics that I didn't think about at the time, and it agrees with various points I made in my Suzy Q argument. "It was bad for business if a customer saw a black spot" touches on the idea that cleanliness is necessary to expect transactions to occur. Dirtiness, in contrast, is repugnant to many customers and is an instant transaction-stopper! In fact, no transaction would come into existence in the first place.

Notice that this idea is also an extension, or better yet application, of the Golden Rule. Doing unto others in this case would be preparing a clean home (as in the Suzy Q story) or having spotless milk bottles. Who would really think they can sell milk with grime on the sides, spots in the inside, and cracks near the lid?

Also noteworthy is the fact that this business was run out of their basement. There is a surprising connection between Suzy Q's hairstyling business run out of her home and the Paul family's business run out their home. It is bootstrap capitalism: "a person or group of persons collaborated and started a business and within years it was successful."

The current laws under the U.S. Fair Labor Act actually allows "work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing or hazardous jobs)", so the young Ron Paul and our young Suzy Q would not be in jeopardy of losing their right to earn a living. But many other kids are in jeopardy of, if not prohibited from, losing their right to earn a living. The current law "sets 14 as the minimum age for most non-agricultural work."

This also prompts me to admit that my title "Why You Can't Legally Braid Your Neighbor's Hair" is slightly a misnomer, slightly. A mother can braid her child's hair; a child can braid her friend's hair; but operate a Hair Salon out of your home? Oh, you can't do that. That would be against the law!

Still, what if the only "non-agricultural work" is the only work in town? Should kids under 14 have to be deprived of their right to work? Furthermore, what if they aren't skilled at agricultural work, but very skilled at "non-agricultural work" should they be denied the right to make money doing what they are skilled at? And how can they learn?

Paul touches on something that I was aware of but failed to illustrate: working at age five gave him incentive; and I'd add that working young gives a sense of dignity as well. How can kids get work experience needed for greater, more skill-specific jobs, if they can't even get experience in less specialized jobs? They are legally barred from doing so.

The funny thing is that I was just conjecturing about the libertarian/biblical application of ethics when I wrote the previous post. I never actually had any real examples. In fact, I didn't even read the laws (until today). Then I came across the passage in "End the Fed", and I jumped (not literally) when I saw it.

From these last few Libertarian Views of Law posts, the observant reader will be able to make valid inferences about the law, and the humorous paternalism guiding them all: the grocery store laws, the agricultural laws, and every other law enforced by the State.

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