I did not plan to comment on the Chick-Fil-A situation, but I greatly underestimated its longevity in the national consciousness. For whatever reason, this story continues to resonate. So here’s the Chicken Sandwich War from where I stand.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing a full audit of the Federal Reserve. (The Senate version, S202, is tabled indefinitely. Direct your inquiries to Harry Reid.) That night I flipped through the television news channels to see how this legislation would be covered in the mainstream media. While I expected a negative reaction from the pundits, I did not expect what I actually found — almost complete silence on the matter. What national emergency had pre-empted this crucial discussion about the role of central banking in the United States economy? In short, chicken.
Let me say that I respect those who act on their principles. If adjusting your Chick-Fil-A consumption to either boycott or support the restaurant is a meaningful stand for you, then that’s fine with me. But this is not a news story. It’s not even a real discussion about same-sex marriage. It almost became a news story about the powers of local government when mayors started to ban Chick-Fil-A from their cities, as the question could’ve been asked, “Under what circumstances can mayors ban private businesses? Is religious belief an appropriate basis for such action? What are the logical consequences of such a policy?” But not enough people actually asked those questions, so once again we are left to argue over chicken.
I made this plea on Twitter in 140 characters, but let me write it properly here. I know that the Chicken Sandwich War seems important now, whichever side you support, but in a month nobody will remember that it even happened. No real policy is shaped by this exercise. Meanwhile, significant events continue to occur. If you aren’t as interested in the fate of the Federal Reserve audit as I am, then there are still plenty of wars, fiscal issues, monetary issues, and personal liberty issues that are worth discussing. In fact, have a real discussion about same-sex marriage if that’s on your mind. But please, let’s stop using fast food chicken as a proxy for marriage. It doesn’t make us think seriously about marriage. It only makes us hungry.
“[A bank’s] liabilities… are due instantly, on demand, while its outstanding loans to debtors are inevitably available only after some time period, short or long as the case may be. A bank’s assets are always ‘longer’ than its liabilities, which are instantaneous. Put another way, a bank is always inherently bankrupt, and would actually become so if its depositors all woke up to the fact that the money they believe to be available on demand is actually not there.”
— Murray Rothbard, The Mystery of Banking, page 99, discussing a peculiar feature of fractional reserve banking. Italics are Rothbard’s.
The book is available for free at http://mises.org/document/614 . Select PDF File or eBook.
Well now it’s official… I’m #justablogger too.
I am a mathematician by day, and a supporter of the movement for greater liberty and smaller government in the United States. I have recently taken to Twitter ( @EricNumeric ) as a means of expressing these ideas, but not everything worth saying can be summarized in 140 characters. By creating this blog, I will be “at liberty to say” what needs to be said, unconstrained by a character limit. Yet Twitter is an important tool in its own way, so the @EricNumeric account will remain active for now. I am not a high-volume tweeter; I try to make every word worth your time.
Over time I will certainly describe how I came to believe what I do about the role of government, and discuss some of the events and thinkers that influence my perspective. But to write this narrative from start to finish would take dozens upon dozens of pages, so inevitably it must instead emerge in pieces as each piece becomes relevant.
Of course I am still learning and refining my viewpoint as I read and listen and observe. At times I will share what I read and learn. Likewise I will comment on current events.
If you choose to read the blog, you can expect intellectual honesty — everything I write is correct to the best of my knowledge. When errors are made, I will do my best to correct them. On the other hand, the purpose of this blog is NOT to argue with people. I may or may not respond to comments, and this does not necessarily reflect my opinion of the comment. Factual corrections (with proof) and polite discussions are welcome, regardless of whether I respond. Vitriol and outright factual lies are subject to deletion.