If We Can't Work, Are We Really Free?
When economies struggle, it is often the direct result of unnecessary government regulation and taxes. The US government, state governments, and city governments often regulate the market to a point that is akin to communism-wherein the government fully controls the economy. On May 24th, NYC made it illegal for anyone in retail to work a shift that was scheduled less than 3 days in advance, even if both the employer and employee wanted to do so. The law also makes it a crime for anyone working in fast food to work a shift scheduled less than 14 days in advance. This seemingly was facilitated by the fast food workers’ rights groups that call for the $15 minimum wage. Much like the minimum wage, this government disruption in the free market may seem beneficial to a naive teenager with little economic prowess, but it will certainly hurt employees and businesses alike. Imagine that your son wanted to pick up overtime at his Wendy’s job? Imagine a McDonald’s employee became sick or wanted a vacation? Should it really be illegal for an employee to pick up an open shift without it being scheduled days or weeks in advance? If both the employee and their boss agree to it, why should the government step in and prohibit a deal between 2 consenting parties? If we can not work when and how we want to, are we really free people?
We crazy libertarians often use the terms ‘consent’ when dealing with transactions and agreements. We also reference ‘victimless crimes’ when exploring whether something should be illegal. Libertarians believe that any consensual deal or transaction between 2 adults in which there is no victim should not be prohibited by law.
Let's apply those concepts to this case: Let's say that I work at Wendy's and that tomorrow is expected to be busier than usual. If I want to work tomorrow despite not being scheduled for a shift, and my boss is happy to pay me for working tomorrow because he knows it'll be busy enough to warrant extra help, then we have a consensual agreement. Is there a victim in this transaction? Since we are both consenting adults with decisional capacity, there cannot possibly be a victim. Therefore, according to logic and common sense, this is not a crime.
Statewide regulation: According FreedomInThe50States.org, NY ranks last in the entire US in economic freedom and last in the US in regulatory policy. A recent example of this was when NY state passed a law banning airbnb in NYC. Some more examples of overbearing regulation in NY are occupational licensing (licenses are required in order to work in 33 different low-income jobs), business regulations, dietary laws, recycling laws, parking regulation, and infinitely more. The median household income has remained stagnant since 2005. See the chart below:
Why are our taxes so high? At 12.7%, NY has the highest average income tax (state & city) in the US. And then we tax you for every step you take throughout your day. From gas taxes, to tolls, to parking fees, to traffic tickets, to sales taxes on your lunch and capital gains taxes on your stocks. By the time you come home after a long day of work and being plundered by the government, you may have no money left. But funding 83 welfare programs is not easy. NY spent over $53 billion on Medicaid alone in 2012, which was the 2nd most of any state. TANF, WIC, HUD, SNA, FA, and the many others cost billions more in taxes. Perhaps as a result of crushing regulations and taxes, NY state has seen a net loss of 1.5 million people over the past decade. As more New Yorkers lose their jobs or homes, those numbers will increase. Despite Cuomo spending 25 billion dollars over the past 7 years to create jobs in NY, we still live in the state with the worst economic outlook in the nation. At 60.2%, NY has the 12th lowest labor participation rate in the US. Are you beginning to see why so much of our money is confiscated by the government? Do you think that we will keep more of our income next year, when NY will begin to force taxpayers to also pay for thousands of additional students to attend college?
As more people are crushed by taxes and regulation, more people need some sort of 'government assistance'. And when more people need welfare, taxes need to increase for everyone in order to fund it. This vicious cycle will continue until the economy collapses and the government must take full control of all resources-which is the definition of communism.
Next time someone asks you why NY's economy is plummeting, you can tell them that government interference in the economy and massive government taxing & spending are the likely culprits.
How do we stop this rapid descent into communism? In my opinion, the most important thing we can do is to vote all of the tyrants in NY out of office. If we remove every single politician in NY from office and start fresh, I guarantee that our economy would flourish and I’m positive that personal liberties would expand. That will immediately send a message to them and to others who hope to lead NY towards communism that the people will not let them get away with it. We must all pay attention to candidates when they are running for office. We must participate in the primaries. We must not only listen to what candidates say during their campaigns, but we must look at the words and actions of the past. Once we know where the candidates stand, we must elect the most consistent, strong advocates of free markets and personal liberty. Even if you are a democrat and you think some republicans are bigots, you must elect fiscally responsible representatives, because they decide how your money is spent. If the best candidate for your wallet is libertarian, I urge you to vote for them anyway, regardless of your lifelong party affiliation. If you continue to allow tyrants like Cuomo to run this state into the ground, more productive workers will leave, more of us will lose jobs and require welfare, and your taxes will increase until you too require welfare. If NY is to survive for the next generation, we will likely have to replace our politicians with libertarians.