RON SCHALOW — Meet The Bastiats

“But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” ― Frédéric Bastiat, aka “Monsieur le soleil”

OK. He seems nice.

Until recently, the North Dakota Legislature had two major caucuses. The Republican and the Democratic, as far as I know. Caucus watching was never a hobby of mine.

There are a few intramural caucuses, no doubt. Like the “I Just Wanted The Insurance Caucus,” or the “This Title On My Business Card Looks Great Caucus.” I believe there is a “Prayer Caucus.” I imagine it involves quite a bit of praying. The meetings get pretty wild after school shootings.

Now, there is the Bastiat Caucus because, of course there is. It’s not a secret. They have a Facebook page and a website, and a “bring a Bastiat for boilermakers” day at Peacock Alley Grill & Bar. I think it’s Tuesdays, but no one who drinks boilermakers is fussy about the day.

Anyway, I’m sure that most of our citizens couldn’t give a hoot about the B-Boys because nobody knows what the hell I’m talking about, when I say, Bastiat Caucus.

If you jump out of a closet near an unsuspecting soul, and yell, Bastiat Caucus, you’ll need an orthodontist and an eye patch. Just saying.

The “Kill Lib#$!% Cucks Caucus” name was already taken, so the “Bastiat Caucus” was the obvious second choice. Obscure French 19th century thinkers are all the rage, I imagine, somewhere. Not here, I wouldn’t have thought, in “freedom fry” territory. All living thinkers are obscure, except for the  rare stable geniuses.

Bastiat holds the title of “Father of Libertarianismismism” — an ideology with many fathers and mothers (Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand are a couple of the celebs). It has never worked in any practical governmental application, but evidently, that fact isn’t a deal breaker, for the true believers.

In 1825, Bastiat inherited his grandfather’s estate and quit working. This made it easier to live selfishly, bitch about taxes, and walk around looking dapper. Frédéric lorded his 6-foot-high stovepipe hat over the other sporty types. Rumor has it, he kept live chickens in the headwear, which put off the expected odor, and angered the chickens. When not tending to head wounds, he did a lot of serious pondering and brooding. Bastiat contracted tuberculosis and died young in 1850, because it was 1850.

Anyway, Frédéric Bastiat, who developed the economic concept of opportunity cost and introduced the parable of the broken window became the namesake of the caucus. I’m not going to explain either of those concepts, and you don’t want me to.

N.D. legislator Rick Becker, R–District 7, formed the Bastiat Caucus a few years ago, during a blood moon. On his Twitter account, the representative says he is a constitutionalist, a classical liberal, a paleoconservative, a laissez faire capitalist and a libertarian.

Luckily for Becker, most people have no idea what those words mean, which ooze superiority, and impresses the rabble. I used to fish, golf, and monkey around with cars, but nothing paleo. And I thought what I thought. Now I feel bad that I never micro-analyzed every rumination and categorized each of them.

Becker performed strongly at the last republican convention, as a candidate for governor, which gave him a ton of street cred. Delegates are more conservative, than humans anywhere, which is their frightening prerogative. It worked to the representative’s advantage.

Becker is, by far, the brains of the outfit. It’s really not that close. I wasn’t able to ascertain the intellectual level of every Bastiat, since most of them never post, or say anything, but I’ll stand by my statement.

The Bastiats are libertarians, and some of them identify with the alt-right (See the article “Dislike” in the High Plains Reader). Torches are optional. The Bastiats hang around tensely with the regulation genre of republicans, since they ran for office as republicans, which makes the old Elks Club republicans a little prickly.

Basically, the legislature is currently infested with libertarians, who have won seats with the (R) by their name on the ballot.

Had these Bastiats been truthful, they would have run as libertarians, like Jack Seaman, Martin Riske and a few others do every cycle, they would lose. Bigly. Instead, these folks appropriated a known brand, and then tinkered with the innards to suit their tribe. This is how we got “new Coke.”

Moving the NDGOP to the right is the goal, as if that’s necessary. It’s like throwing darts at the already intolerant family Tasmanian Devil to really get it irritated. Legislate angry, my friends.

Why have regulation issue republicans allowed this infiltration? Who knows?

Al Carlson, barely awake, shouts, “What the hell is going on down there, with all that racket? Who is there?

B-Boys. “Nobody! It’s just us Bastiats, sir.”

Al. “WHO?”


“Screw you, too,” hollers Al. “And stay out of the fridge! Try to keep the gunfire to a minimum, you stupid bastages.”

And that was that.

The Bastiats want an unfettered free market, which we have tried, or gotten pretty close to, and it sucked. One guy named Bud did pretty well, but that’s about it. It’s currently getting pretty unfettered around here.

“Oh, you’d like to just dump your clean coal mining trash in the rivers, huh? Well, hell, we can’t see any reason why not. Enjoy.”

They like freedom, liberty, fewer refugees, homeschooling, property rights, and raw milk, just for starters.

They hate government and want it small. Real small. Bite size. Small enough to drown in the bathtub, paraphrasing Grover Norquist, who is going to need a much larger tub.

Common Core really ticks them off. Government shouldn’t be involved in education, at all. Dig this.

“You say: “There are persons who lack education” and you turn to the law. But the law is not, in itself, a torch of learning which shines its light abroad. The law extends over a society where some persons have knowledge and others do not; where some citizens need to learn, and others can teach. In this matter of education, the law has only two alternatives: It can permit this transaction of teaching-and-learning to operate freely and without the use of force, or it can force human wills in this matter by taking from some of them enough to pay the teachers who are appointed by government to instruct others, without charge. But in the second case, the law commits legal plunder by violating liberty and property.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

“What do think, should parents be able to direct their child’s education in a manner that they feel is best? If that choice means private education, should that parent be forced to fund the public school monopoly, essentially being double dipped?” — Rep. Daniel Johnston

“The most urgent necessity is, not that the State should teach, but that it should allow education. All monopolies are detestable, but the worst of all is the monopoly of education.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

Taxes are theft. If you go by the words of the Bastiat Institute, they aren’t crazy about cops, or anyone getting in their business. Also, no food stamps, or any other helping of the poor. God is with them, but the poor aren’t. Did I mention that?

They really love guns. Immensely. No infringement, and all that. They interpret the Second Amendment improperly, but don’t even bother challenging their rendition. Futile would be the word for it. It’s part of their ideology, and there is no room for pragmatism.

I haven’t heard of any plans to build more, or any, bell towers to let the owners of 50-caliber sniper rifles blow off some steam, but Rep. Luke Simons, from Dickinson, almost blew a gasket, when he got wind of our attorney general even thinking about talking about the bump stock.

“North Dakota state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, along with 32 fellow state attorneys general, recently signed a petition urging Congress to outlaw bump stocks for firearms. Even though the NRA is in to direct opposition to this action. Now is the time to let your voice be heard and contact Stenehjem’s office with your concerns.” — Rep. Luke Simons

Of course, the bump stock and other devices utilized to turn a semiautomatic weapon into an automatic have no useful purpose, except to spray bullets in a general direction. Say you want to kill a lot of people, that are packed tightly together, maybe to watch a concert, and you’re not fussy about which people are hit, get yourself a bump stock. Otherwise, as Simons has said, they are fun to use. Not a good enough reason.

Luke also speaks with the accent of a Confederate general, for some reason, wears a cowboy hat, and has a fine looking set of teeth. Luckily, they aren’t ivory.

Dr. Becker succeeded in passing “constitutional carry” — the way the founders intended, the Bastiats said, which isn’t true, but this is North Dakota.

“The legislation means North Dakota will become one of about a dozen so-called “constitutional carry” states Aug. 1. The bill would allow law-abiding people 18 and older to forgo background checks and classes that are now required. The legislation only requires someone carrying a concealed weapon to have a valid ID and notify law enforcement of the weapon during instances such as a traffic stop.

The bill was among a package of gun-rights measures being considered this session, including allowing people with concealed carry permits to have guns in churches, schools and other public places.” — The Associated Press

Simons and Bastiat buddies forwarded House Bill No. 1391 to circumvent federal laws and regulation, to get our neighborhood bullet and gun garage manufacturing some cover. It’s not constitutional, but hey. They ran a lot of pro-gun Bills, through the legislature last session. Some passed. This one didn’t.

House Bill No. 1381

(Sponsors) Reps. Simons, Rick C. Becker, Ertelt, Johnston, Jones, B. Koppelman, McWilliams, Olson, Toman, Sen, Kannianen

“A personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured commercially or privately in the state and which remains within the state is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration as those items are not subject to regulations related to interstate commerce. This section applies to a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured in the state from basic materials and which can be manufactured without the inclusion of any significant parts imported from another state.”

It runs afoul of Frédéric, though.

“When goods do not cross borders, soldiers will.” — Frédéric Bastiat

The Bastiats were successful with their Food Freedom Bill, though. No one had ever been arrested for any of the things they got codified. Baked goods from home are the keystone of our healthcare system up here, for crissakes. Food has been exchanged for money, or not, since forever, without any dustups over black market muffins. Eggs for bread. But now, ears perked up at the Health Department, where they hate freedom, which I believe is the opposite of what the B-boys intended.

Frédéric was right, when he said, “There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.”

Whoops. Bitten by an easily foreseen effect. My feelings of freedom are waning.

Simons has cows, but he had to drop raw milk from the Food Freedom Bill. Raw milk is sold at premium, and is trendy, I guess, just to tick off the smartass dead scientists, who conned the lot of us, with their unholy homogenization and pasteurization.

Only the criminals will have raw milk now. Or anyone else who wants it, because no one cares.

“Should duck eggs and ostrich eggs be illegal in North Dakota? We don’t think so. It’s time to pass the ND Food Freedom Act, HB 1433!”

I don’t know for certain who all of the members are, although I’ve asked. Membership seems to be fluid. Becker once suggested 24, or so. Maybe they serve delicious homemade pastries and mason jars of cold raw milk, to either encourage, or discourage, attendance at the genial meetings they hold. No bare knuckle stuff.

These are my guesses. Either Gold card members, or just occasionally in cahoots.

  • Rep. Rick Becker (R-District 7)
  • Rep. Luke Simons (R-District 36)
  • Rep. Chris Olson (R-District 13)
  • Rep. Sebastian Ertelt (R-District 26)
  • Rep. Tom Kading (R-District 45)
  • Rep. Daniel Johnston (R-District 24)
  • Rep. Ben Koppelman (R-District 16)
  • Rep. Robin Weisz (R-District 14)
  • Rep. Nathan Toman (R-District 34)
  • Rep. Dwight Kiefert (R-District 24)
  • Rep. Jeffery J. Magrum (R-District 28)
  • Rep. Todd Porter (R-District 34)
  • Rep. Mike Schatz (R-District 36)
  • Rep. Bill Oliver (R-District 4)
  • Rep. Matthew Ruby (R-District 40)
  • Rep. Gary Paur (R-District 19)
  • Sen. Larry Luick (R-District 25)
  • Sen. Janne Myrdal (R-District 10)
  • Sen. Shawn Vedaa (R-District 6)
  • Sen. Kelly Armstrong (R-District 36)
  • Sen. Oley Larsen (R-District 3)
  • Sen. Dwight Cook (R-District 34)
  • Sen. Jordan Kannianen (R-District 4)
  • Sen. Lonnie J. Laffen (R-District 43)
  • Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-District 17)

Rep. Chris Olson is the current president of the caucus, but he’s chosen not to run in 2018. He tried to run an anti-immigrant Bill through the House, but failed. It was barely obvious what the intent of the legislation was.

“My original Refugee Capacity Bill (HB 1427) was intended to determine the absorptive capacity of our communities and state for the federal refugee resettlement program.” — Rep. Chris Olson. We’re a barely inhabited large space on the map. Even the moose are confused, by the emptiness, when they inadvertently wander into the flat lands.

“Another huge victory for liberty here in North Dakota. Thank you Gov. Doug Burgum for signing into law Rep. Chris Olson’s Homeschool Testing Freedom Act, HB 1428!” — Bastiat Caucus

“Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

I’ve had a number of communications with Senator Oley in the past few years and he’s told me some weird $#it. My favorite  hobnobbing with the SENATOR involved me explaining how plagiarism worked, since that’s what he had done. What he posted was too well written. It didn’t take a word detective to figure it out.

“Just read that Trump Donated all of his Salary to the park service and the funds will go to the veteran’s cemeteries. I don’t care who you are, even High five Heidi, pilosie and whoppi have to respect that.” ― Sen. Oley Larsen. Can you spot anything a little off?

Oley also plans to introduce a Bill in the next session, that would allow Bible study in public schools, so there’s that.

“Life, faculties, production-in other words, individuality, liberty, property-this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

They put forth a bill to eliminate “safe spaces” from our colleges, based on some harrowing anecdote. It’s just a right-wing attempt to tar students with a label, when they don’t comport to some silly standard.

Is there a safe space at a North Dakota college? Nobody seems know. Is the counselor’s office a safe space? It should be. The nursing offices? Personally, anywhere I walk is a safe space, as far as I’m concerned. Home is. My favorite chair is. Another big deal made, where there is no problem.

“When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

Rep. Dwight Kiefert, likes to post his disdain for Muslims, and anyone with a different sexual orientation, than whatever he claims to be. The bigotry isn’t even alarming anymore. Otherwise, Kiefert has been trying to get guns into the schools for years. Nothing new there. I asked him about the explosive oil trains passing close to mostly rural schools, and he ignored me. We don’t mess with the oil guys in this state.

Wayne LaPierre speaking at the NRA Convention in 1999, stating the organization’s position on guns in schools. “We believe in absolutely, gun free, zero tolerance, totally safe schools.”

Our congressman, Kevin Cramer, is one of those alt-righters, since his hero in Mar-a-Lago slopes at a sharp angle in that direction, and he votes 98.5 percent with the president. Cramer probably wouldn’t be conservative enough to join the B Caucus, if put to the same test.

“Make North Dakota conservative again! get your hat. I will never apologize for being conservative.” — Rep. Luke Simons. The hat is a replica of the Make America Great Again red hat, worn by Trump and his supporters. Did someone ask Luke to apologize? It wasn’t me.

“We must ensure that Gov. Burgum hears from Second Amendment-loving North Dakotans, and not just the radical, anti-gun fringe.” — Rep. Luke Simons

“The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

They keep score by what The American Conservative Union Foundation rates them at the end of the session, based on their votes on a couple of dozen bills chosen by the ACUF.

Becker and Simons scored 100. Johnston and Ertelt came in at 91. Way out there on the fringe. Oley was the highest rated senator. I don’t know if they had the correct answers beforehand. The people formerly known as Republicans were lucky to get to 50 on this test.

“Legal plunder has two roots: One of them, as I have said before, is in human greed; the other is in false philanthropy.” ― Frédéric Bastiat