Roads: The Little Stump Who Couldn’t

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Kristopher Morgan (Special Thanks to Jared Miller for Collaboration), June 15, 2017

For libertarians, roads are a fun mental exercise in examining market relationships and using them as a model to explain how a free society could provide a service that is provided by governments. But for those opposed to libertarianism, roads represent the Ace of Spades. Modern society is entirely dependent upon roads, and if we don’t build and maintain them, the entire economy would collapse. Since governments possess the sole authority to use taxation as a means to fund them, it seems self evident they are best left in government hands. But is that really true? In this article, I wish to open the reader’s mind to alternative possibilities to government funding as well as to put an end to the ‘toll road nightmare’ scenario associated with markets.

There are four basic types of roads: Residential, business, rural, and highway. I will give a brief summary on how each type of road can be provided in a market setting.

Residential roads are probably the most important in our daily lives since without them we cannot get to and from our own homes. In my opinion, the most common way residential roads would be provided is through Business to Business relationships. Land developers would simply make installing a road part of the overall investment when constructing a residential area. The cost of the roads could be included in the price of the houses. This gets us around using a different toll for each street as well as the possibility that a homeowner who has no money for the toll being unable to afford access to their own property. The quality of the road itself would play a role in the overall value of the houses located on them in the same way crime rates and other conditions do, making it part of the overall investment for the buyer as well. Of course there is always the risk a road will fail/collapse and damage utility lines, which is why insuring the road would be in the best interest of the developers. Insurance companies would demand the best possible construction specs before agreeing to accept the risk. The close relationship between utilities and roads also creates an incentive for utility companies themselves to maintain residential roads and include the costs in monthly statements. Since the price of the road would be included in the sale of the house, anyone not paying their share of the road would literally be in default of their mortgage and would be dealt with accordingly.

Business roads are perhaps the most intriguing to debate. I love the assumption that without (government provided) roads, we simply wouldn’t be able to visit the local grocery store. Because we all know that is precisely what entrepreneurs want to do; they want to start a business, spend all their savings on the building, inventory, hiring employees, and then make sure it is completely inaccessible! It’s interesting how hopelessly greedy we assume businessmen are, until we are left to conclude that their greed leads to a net positive. Business roads differ in many ways from residential roads, due to their purpose. The road would have to be higher quality due to the amount of traffic that would be on it. People would come not just from one neighborhood to visit the location, but many. To keep costs down, business chains, especially those which are not in direct competition with each other, would divide the costs of having a road that provides motorists access to each of their businesses. The easiest way to do this would be for all businesses involved to invest an equal amount into a road company to take care of the issue. The cost of the road would be included in the price of some of the products which are sold, and that makes sense from a social justice point of view, as those using the roads most would be the ones paying for them. Toll roads may be tried at first, but if American society has taught us anything, it’s that people like convenience. If toll roads were even tried in business districts, the first cluster of entrepreneurs to network and eliminate them would leave their competition far behind. The fact that the statist attempts to bring up the endless-toll-road scenario says that they understand this as well.

Rural roads are a bit more tricky since we are dealing with fewer people in low traffic areas. But if the traffic is light, the road may not have to be as high quality. For homes built by developers, we can assume there is already a road in place for access as we’ve already seen. But let’s suppose you and five other people decide you’re going to build your houses in a rural area, and you all decide to share the cost of a road by entering into a formal contract. On the surface this poses a serious problem, as any of you could simply choose not to pay, but as we dig a little deeper we see this problem can easily be handled through contract. Part of the agreement could include a penalty for a person refusing to pay their share of the road, for instance a boot on the tire until the payment is made. Enforcing contractual agreements is perfectly within the confines of a political theory based on individual freedom. Sure, someone could claim payments were missed by someone else and penalize them by accident, but we do have receipts and bank statements that can easily solve that problem. By that same token, legal action need not necessarily be taken just because someone fell on hard times and missed a few payments. A clause in the contract could account for such a scenario, but we must also not forget that we can be flexible and compassionate. The contract itself would give those who signed it the ability to take action against someone for not paying; however, that does not mean they have to. Indeed, it is often the case that showing an inability to adapt to special circumstances hurts one’s reputation. Nobody would enter into a contract with a person who was unable to understand a bout of depression after losing a loved one or bad economic conditions causing one to lose their job, etc.

Highways may be the one form of toll road that could survive in a market setting. This is not the same as the endless-toll-road scenario, as the motorist continues on the same road for a matter of hours before paying a toll. The advantage to privatizing highways is if there is a way to get rid of toll roads through other superior business models, people would be free to take on the project. It sounds far fetched to think about having a road that goes across the entire country not funded by tolls or taxation, but what about after we consider all the people who have an incentive for such a product? The tourist industry has an incentive for highways that are toll-free, as tourist sites are spread all over The United States. The US in particular has ocean-front property to the South, West, and East, all of which can be utilized to meet demands for vacation and retirement spots. It is also conceivable that roads connecting tourist locations with other roads across the country could be paid for with revenue made from cottage rentals and other goods provided by the industry. Anyone importing goods from sea that need transported to locations across the country would like to see it done without the use of tolls and could also include the maintenance costs of similar roads in the prices of the goods they sell, or even network with those in the tourist industry and share roads.

The Statist may point out that no matter what, we are all going to pay for the roads, so why bother changing it from government’s use of taxation to market relationships? Well, for starters, it also involves the possibility of democide; “the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder.” If you refuse to pay your taxes, eventually you will deal with a policeman, and if you disobey and resist a policeman as you would anyone else knocking on your door and shaking you down for money, the escalation of force could get you killed. Unfortunately, most people in society will blame you with phrases like “well, they should have obeyed the law,” or “everyone has to pay taxes,” and that will be the end of it. I can’t imagine that is how we really want to fund anything, or what we honestly think when we demand government pay for some other good.

Secondly, in power relationships, you simply don’t get win/win outcomes. Everywhere the government throws money, whether it’s healthcare, education, or banks (bailouts), we see bubble after bubble and prices inflated and services that are not meeting demand. Corporations benefit very well from receiving taxpayer dollars, at the expense of those who pay. The only situations in which win/win relationships are actually achieved occur when all parties involved are free to choose the conditions in which they will enter the agreement. Statists who, to their credit, are informed about roads and all of the other maintenance costs and variables that affect them, are more than willing to point out the costs involved. While such a person understands roads as they exist today, they don’t understand prices and how they reflect economic relationships. We should not act shocked at the conclusion that an entire industry can inflate the prices of its goods when its business model includes receiving tax dollars. When entrepreneurs have to convince us to buy their products rather than resort to receiving tax dollars, and there is a market based on private property and competition, prices tend to fall. We cannot pretend that the prices we see now are the exact same we would see with a free market. The first rule of making a sale is the consumer has to be able to afford your product.

Third, innovation in roads and daily transportation are massively hindered by the current system. Who’s to say we wouldn’t have developed something better by now if we hadn’t been forced to build our lives and our society around government-mandated infrastructure? In an age where new technology and production methods have revolutionized almost everything, why has road construction and maintenance stayed in the figurative “dark ages?” One of the externalities of suppressing markets in a sector of the economy is the loss of any creative energy that would have naturally flowed into it had it not been for government intervention.

Sorry statists, but we can clearly see that the issue of roads is not the Ace of Spades you thought it was. Everyone in society working together towards a common end through consensual agreements is, and always will be, far superior than a few groups of bureaucrats using law to deliver goods. Understanding this is what makes libertarians more collectivist than any other group in society. The intelligence and foresight of a handful of bureaucrats cannot possibly out-perform the collective intelligence of everyone in society. That is why stumping a libertarian on the issue of roads will never stump our overall position. The basis of our economic theory is founded on the fact that one person, or a small group, cannot possibly possess the knowledge it takes to run an entire economy. To illustrate the point, I will leave the reader with a list of everyone who has an incentive to make sure roads are built and maintained.

Homeowners

Car companies

Food deliverers

Schools

Churches

Gas Stations

Convenience Stores

Video sellers

Hardware Stores

Furniture stores

Fast Food restaurants

Factories

Golf Courses

Pawn shops

Banks

Booksellers

Electronics stores

Sports Teams

News Stations

Hollywood

Charities

Advertising agencies

Anyone who might ever need to go to a hospital

Night clubs

Arcades

Pool halls

Community pools

Anyone who doesn’t want to walk or ride a bike to work

Utility businesses

What really could we as a society accomplish if our creative energies were released to explore new solutions to problems which affect us all? It’s time to think outside of the box!

 

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Law vs Morality

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Donnie Davis, June 15, 2017

Laws do not prevent actions, morality does. Laws are there to set in stone what will happen if certain actions are taken against someone or their property. They are not meant to scare you into following someone else’s moral code to avoid punishment. Or at least, that is how our society is supposed to work. Government is not the parent of the people, nor can it dictate their morality. It can only hold them accountable for their actions transgressed against another person.

You cannot rape yourself. You cannot violate yourself. You cannot steal from yourself.  These are actions committed against someone else, and that it is correct to punish the perpetrator of those actions.

The idea that you cannot put x, y, or z into your own body by your own choice because it’s bad for you is the same as saying that drinking anything but water and eating anything except fruits and vegetables is now illegal because it’s bad for you.

Saying that it is illegal to prevent anyone from doing REAL crime is like saying having large amounts of money is illegal to keep you from purchasing illegal items. It’s like saying owning a firearm is illegal because all they are used for is killing, or that owning a straightened coat hanger is illegal because it’s used to break into cars….

Do you see where this is going? Once you go down that road, there is no coming back from it without violence.

We, as Libertarians, are trying to stop that pattern of thinking before it’s too late. 

Our slogan is that we are “The Party of Principle”, because we stand firmly on our principles….

  • We seek to substantially reduce the size and intrusiveness of government and cut and eliminate taxes at every opportunity.
  • We believe that peaceful, honest people should be able to offer their goods and services to willing consumers without inappropriate interference from government.
  • We believe that peaceful, honest people should decide for themselves how to live their lives, without fear of criminal or civil penalties.
  • We believe that government’s only responsibility, if any, should be protecting people from force and fraud.”

“Libertarian Pledge, which all must agree to in order to join the Libertarian Party, declares, “I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.”

Libertarians strongly oppose any government interference into their personal, family, and business decisions. Essentially, we believe all Americans should be free to live their lives and pursue their interests as they see fit as long as they do no harm to another.

People that want the government to tend to their every whim, because they couldn’t be bothered to protect themselves from harm, want us to give up our freedoms so they feel “safe.” That has never been enough to stop anyone from doing harm, to themselves or otherwise.

 

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Thinking Beyond Pro-Choice & Pro-Life

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Travis Hallman, June 6, 2017

First and foremost, thanks for opening this article. Your engagement proves your willingness to be open to new ideas.

Before diving right into the subject of abortion clinics, I want to preface by saying that these ideas represent my own view, and not necessarily those of every libertarian nor even all members of the Ask A Libertarian team. There are many pro-choice, pro-life, and pro-privatize libertarians running for offices on your voting ballot. However, I identify as the last option because my end goal is to have ZERO demand for abortion clinics. I believe privatizing abortion clinics and empowering moral agents will achieve this goal more effectively than other means. Here’s why:

Libertarian Party Platform,

1.5 Abortion
Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

https://www.lp.org/platform/

To me, one statement stands out among all other statements within that platform: “We believe that government should be kept out of the matter.”

Government should not be allowed to create, fund or even prohibit abortion clinics from operating. Giving them power to prevent abortion clinics from opening because you don’t like them will enable them to use that same power to block your ability to open your business (of any kind) tomorrow, because someone else doesn’t like it. The best way for me to protect MY freedom of choice is to protect YOUR freedom of choice.

QUESTION: Can you think of any examples when government uses one power to restrict another freedom?

In addition to being allowed to operate, abortion services must also stand independent of any government funding or involvement. Realizing government doesn’t (yet) own abortion clinics, offering government funds to them still creates incentives to earn more funds by doing more abortions.  And as long as abortion providers are receiving funding or any other special treatment from the government, it is against their own interests for the government to allow moral agents to easily impact potential clients. By allowing government involvement in this sector, they can now appeal to it to take action in many forms against those moral agents. This may include, but is not limited to, lobbying for laws requiring standards such as licenses for pro-family or anti-abortion groups to open, increasing their taxes, or denying the same bailouts and incentives to those moral or private agencies.

Additionally, the government has to use your tax dollars to pay the employees responsible for counting your money and rationing it to abortion clinics. This is irresponsible spending at best and absolutely evil at worst. Never will 100% of taxpayers be satisfied with how the taxes are being spent (that applies in all aspects for all government run agencies). Allowing abortion clinics to exist solely in the private sector, removing taxes (to remove incentive for crony partnership with politicians), and ending bailouts (to avoid the creation of a monopoly) will allow for each individual to choose a business that 100% satisfies their needs.

“But abortion is murder!”

Then let’s expose abortion clinics to the free market so that demand can dictate the survival of the murder clinic (not the force of the government keeping them open). Then let’s empower churches and other moral agents to empower individuals not to demand the murder clinics. This would, in part, require better sex education and other related services.

I realize there are already many churches and moral agents making strides in sex education. However, establishing complete privatization without licensing, taxation, and bailouts would greater empower these organizations and allow for more of them to open and run effectively.

I’m offering a moral solution instead of using force, coercion, extortion, or incarceration to END ABORTIONS.

QUESTION: Is there another way to stop abortions (without using force, coercion, extortion, or incarceration)?

“[The] Simplest way to stop abortions is to teach our children about celibacy & hold them to it.”
-Joy Waymire (candidate for president in 2016)

 

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The McDonald’s Standard: A Guide for Determining The Legitimate Role of Government

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Kristopher Morgan, May 23, 2017

We all have things we would like to see humanity do, whether we want to feed the poor, move towards clean energy, protect endangered species, scientific research, or setting floors on wages.  We all like to believe that passing a law is akin to waving some magic wand that simply makes things better. We get ourselves into trouble when we consider the reality of the situation;  there is no wand.  When we realize passing and enforcing new laws means making criminals out of more and more people, we have to choose responsibly.

Coming to a balanced belief system as to what the proper place of government in society takes an immense amount of study into the social sciences, history, political economy, ethics, philosophy, etc.  This can be extremely time-consuming… fortunately there are shortcuts to answering most questions pertaining to the proper role of government.  I call one of them the ‘McDonald’s Standard.’  The method is very simple: Clarify what action the government is taking and ask yourself “how would I feel if McDonald’s were doing this?”  Here are a few examples to demonstrate how it works.

  1. Taxation.  On one hand, we are threatened with fines and jail time if we do not pay taxes.  On the other hand, those taxes pay for services such as roads.  Let’s imagine that McDonald’s decided to use the same business model.  McDonald’s decides to provide every resident within a 1mi radius with a Big Mac.  McDonald’s then decides that they will collect money from all residents, and those who decline simply get locked in a room on McDonald’s property.  Is food not a vital service?
  2. Welfare programs.  On one hand, they are paid for through taxation, on the other hand poor people benefit from them.  So, let’s imagine McDonald’s decides that they’re going to send their employees in a neighborhood, armed with tasers, guns, and clubs, and they collect money from some residents to give to others (while keeping about 80% for themselves!).  What would we think about McDonald’s?
  3. War.  On one hand, evil do-ers really should be taken out of power.  On the other hand, innocent people die in government wars.  So, let’s imagine a McDonald’s employee tracks a criminal into a Burger King bathroom, right after taking from the BK cashier’s drawer.  The McDonald’s employee then proceeds to blow up the entire Burger King restaurant to get this criminal.  Does this person get to claim all the other people inside the Burger King were simply collateral damage?

Now I know someone out there is going to say something along the lines of: “of course we don’t expect McDonald’s to take on the same role as the government ya dope!  McDonald’s doesn’t have a Constitution, and we don’t elect politicians to operate McDonald’s like we do the government.  We don’t expect these things from them because they’re not the government!”

This line of reason is exactly why I am writing this article.  What we are actually talking about is government legitimacy, so let’s examine the reasons people believe government has it.

1. The government represents the people through voting.  Their job is to carry out the will of the people they represent.

  • False.  All governments operate via law and enforcement thereof.  So what that means is the first thing politicians assume is that they do not have your consent.  If they had your consent, there would be no need to use law enforcement measures.  Also, the idea that some bureaucrat you have never met before can accurately take your conscience and values into account when making decisions… come on…

2. The government is an entity on its own charged with the task of running society.

  • False.  The government is a collection of human beings.  Society is not a machine that needs an operator, but rather a collection of people.  If no human being has the moral right to use force against another, then the government can’t possibly have it.  Morality for McDonald’s doesn’t change if they change their name to McGovernment!

3. The government derived its power to use force from the consent of the people.

  • False.  If nobody has the power to use force against others to begin with, nobody could have possibly given that power to the government.  Giving one’s consent to others to use force against themself is a contradiction in terms.

This list could grow exponentially, but I hope the point is clear.  Governments are nothing more than groups of people, same as any other, whether it’s a business, a family, a charity, a community watch group, etc.  It doesn’t have to be McDonald’s necessarily, but before you support anything any government does, ask yourself “what if someone else in society were doing the same thing? How would that make me feel?”  Because let’s face it:  most of us spent our formative years pledging allegiance to the flag and learning politically correct/tainted history.  By projecting government actions onto parties we feel neutral about, we can overcome these biases.

 

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The Why of Libertarianism

Kristopher Morgan, May 22, 2017

My journey to libertarianism didn’t start until I graduated high school, spent 4 years in the Army, and was on the final year of my BS in Criminal Justice.  When the economy crashed in 2007, I found myself in awe and searching for answers.  It started me on a journey of self-education that focused heavily in areas of political science, philosophy, and economics.  It is a journey that has helped to define who I am and what my values in life really are.  I would not trade any of it for the world; however, what I find most interesting about libertarians is we are very much the same in these respects.

What makes this article necessary is how libertarians are portrayed by the media.  Here are a few article titles to demonstrate:

Libertarians: Rich White Males of the Republican Party

Libertarianism is for white men: the ugly truth about the right’s favorite movement.

Libertarians: The Great White Hope   

Rather than go through every article I can find and refute every false claim about libertarianism, I have decided simply to lay out the basics of what we think.  

Libertarians, in my experience, take two approaches to politics.  The first approach is the economic approach.  This is why so many libertarians offer entrepreneurship as a replacement for government provided services when questioned.  Austrian economics provides the key to understanding basic economics and how economic growth occurs.  An entrepreneur recognizes demand for a product and obtains capital either through savings or investors and implements a business plan to provide the said service.  All very simple, and an accurate way of understanding economics.  When governments interfere with this process, they distort real demand, make certain products no-longer feasible due to taxation and regulations, making less desirable substitutes available in lieu; a fancy way of saying they make society as a whole poorer.  Since governments operate through the power of law, classes of winners and losers are always created, whereas free exchanges benefit all parties involved.

The second approach to politics is a firm belief in justice.  Libertarians recognize that all human beings possess the same basic characteristics: self-ownership, consciousness, and the need for property to survive.  This need to own property in order to survive gives all of us the right to self-defense.  Without property we can’t meet our basic needs for food, water, or shelter; a species without the ability to defend their property is an endangered species, as others throughout the animal kingdom will swoop in and deprive them of their food.  Hence it follows that the individual has the right to repel any encroachments, from the animal kingdom or from other people, on the rights to their property.  The libertarian, knowing they have the right to self-defense, also recognizes that if they themself attempt to encroach on another’s property, that person also has the right to defend from their attack.  This creates a principle that libertarians live by: The Non-Aggression principle.  This approach to politics is not much concerned with what will provide the strongest economic or social outcome; it is simply a matter of whether or not someone’s property rights were violated.

What both classes have in common; what separates libertarianism from all other ideologies, is the refutation of delusion and respect for truth.  Libertarians do not pretend, for example, that our material problems will be solved if we simply pass a new law.  Passing a law does nothing to add to the amount of goods and services available to us all; only production can do that, and only production of things people demand (not government directed production such as ‘digging holes and filling them back up’).  The justice-oriented libertarian does not pretend that passing a law and sending policemen to enforce said law with guns and other weapons and endless backup is what defines justice.  Justice; natural rights, whatever you want to call it, is everyone’s birthright.

It is my sincere hope that the reader considers what has NOT been said here at least as much as what has been said.  Libertarianism does not mean we cannot have a commune… It does not mean we cannot have charities… It does not mean we believe in state capitalism (that really does benefit the rich)…  There is room for anything and everything in a libertarian society.  What concerns libertarians is the means, not the ends.  As long as coercive means are not being used, libertarians will not oppose it, even if they don’t necessarily agree.  We don’t ask “Who is going to benefit from this?” or “How will this benefit rich white people?”  We ask: Is one party using force against another?

 

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Your Questions Answered: Why Can’t Intervention Fix Capitalism’s Flaws?

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Jared Miller May 22, 2017

One of the worst side effects of this conversation is that most often interventionist policies create exactly the conditions which they claim to prevent. One of the other worst is that people begin to assume, at least to some degree, that legal and moral are interchangeable terms. I’ve been studying on my own for several years now, and so far I haven’t seen many examples of capitalism causing more problems than interventionism/crony corporatism.

Of course, interventionism and cronyism do often go by more appealing names, but they are still the same thing. There is a trend in recent years to refer to anything “good” a government does as Socialism. But socialism is not simply the act of paying for services with tax money, nor is it bringing about some broad moral reformation through government intervention. It is something much more specific. Socialism is when the government owns all means of production. There are plenty of examples of government activity that are not socialist in nature. Military and rule of law aren’t socialist. Taxes for national defense and public safety aren’t socialist. Prevention of fraud and exploitation, and even certain kinds of environmental protection, aren’t socialist.

 

What we really have is not socialism, or even capitalism. What we currently have is crony corporatism; a system whereby businesses are able to lobby government for special treatment. This leads to a lack of competition since it keeps new businesses from entering the market. Competition keeps profit margins thinner, often boosts wages (contrary to popular belief), and diminishes the wealth gap while also increasing income mobility (the ability to increase your income over time). Any policy that prevents or hinders competition damages the lower and middle classes. These policies make the very thing they supposedly claim to be trying to prevent into an absolute certainty.

“But depressions!!”
Our depression was caused by a glut of cheap credit, which made it a common practice to borrow money in order to invest it. That cheap credit was caused by intervention; specifically the federal reserve manipulating interest rates. After the recession began, the fed also started shrinking the money supply, further exacerbating the already delicate situation. Even if they had done everything right, just the existence of the Fed caused some damaging distortions. Before the fed, large banks would intervene on behalf of the smaller banks in order to limit the effects of financial panics and protect their own bottom line. After the fed, the large banks no longer saw this as their responsibility. As a result, more small banks failed, causing a snowball effect that eventually harmed the large banks too. Similar causes can be found for our more recent recessions as well. The dot com bubble and the housing market bubble were both at the very least amplified to disastrous proportions by bad monetary policy and interventionist legislation. Without them, that particular market may have hit hard times, but they would not have become national, systemic failures.

 

“But child labor!”
Child labor was already by and large a thing of the past when the legislation outlawing it was passed. Don’t get me wrong, if regulation actually had the power to end that kind of thing, then that’s exactly what it should be doing. But in places where child labor happens, it’s because the entire economy is underdeveloped. It’s not a choice between work and school, it’s a choice between work and prostitution, or worse. Kids don’t work because corporations are greedy. Kids work because avoiding homelessness and starvation is more important than education. No law will change that. It just eliminates their only legal means of helping their families survive. And it’s the same with the rest of the labor market. But don’t take my word for it:

 

Video: “THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH ABOUT SWEAT SHOPS.”

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=O2sW2wt3nLU
(Note: this video isn’t supposed to give the full argument, it’s just an introduction to the topic by someone who has spent most of his career studying this specific subject)

“But Monopolies!”

There are very few, if any, examples of big businesses having that kind of power without getting it from the government. The natural business cycle is such that virtually never does a business accumulate monopolistic power without appealing to organized force to eliminate the competition. Instead, legislators are either manipulated or outright bribed into passing legislation that favors one business over another. Often it is with the best of intentions. Even safety and environmental regulations are often pushed by the industries they are being levied against. Usually, there is some moral or humanitarian motive attached to these new restrictions as a means of gaining support, feeding off of the idea of government as a moral force in order to manipulate the masses into voting against themselves in favor of corporate interest. But here’s the trick: the big guys usually already follow those guidelines, and the startup business has no hope of implementing that kind of infrastructure before they even start production. The manufacturing world is overrun with precisely this style of protectionism. Incidentally this is also one invisible factor that leads to more production overseas, and less domestically. Of course, not all regulation comes from corporate interest or emotional manipulation, but the result is the same nonetheless. We may argue about what level of market distortion we are comfortable with in order to promote the wellbeing of the worker, but we cannot ignore its existence. That is how monopolies happen, and it’s how they stay monopolies.

 

Video: “IDENTIFYING A MONOPOLY: IT’S MORE THAN JUST MARKET SHARE.”

https://www.policyed.org/intellections/identifying-monopoly-its-more-just-market-share/video
(Once again, just a brief introduction to the topic.)

When we say markets are self regulating, we don’t mean that abuse cannot happen. What we mean is that in a free market those who do abuse people are not protected from the consequences of that abuse. As long as there is a law or regulation, there will be someone with deep pockets and great lawyers looking for ways to exploit it or modify it to their advantage. There will always be a politician to bribe who can find ways to prevent a corporation’s competition from ever existing. Without organized force to hide behind, having piles of cash can’t make people buy your product, or use your service. It can’t prevent someone else from starting their own business to do it better.

By putting the economy in the hands of government, we are not preventing people from being exploited. We are ensuring it. That is why communist and socialist countries always develop a wealthy ruling class, and the rest of their citizens suffer. We don’t have to debate that fact. It is what has historically happened every single time.

The interventionists are half right though… free markets don’t make people more moral, and they don’t keep rich people from being assholes. But neither does government. It just gives them hired guns (law is force imposed at the point of a gun), and the power and authority to use them. Only with the backing of the law also comes the assumption that their actions are somehow right or just simply because they are executed through the mechanism of the law.

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Hello Patriots!!! Let them know that we expect a #FullRepeal as promised

Hello Patriots!!! Today we take our #FullRepeal fight to the Senate. It is important to note that we don’t know where many of the 52 Republican Senators stand on the healthcare issue but much can be gleaned from their liberty scores, which are provided. There is some speculation that they will change the bill from its current form. So, let them know that we expect a #FullRepeal as promised.

Ben Sasse- Nebraska (Liberty Score 94%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://m.facebook.com/story.php…

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SenSasse/status/857295504216117257

Dean Heller- Nevada (Liberty Score 61%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://m.facebook.com/story.php…

TWITTER LINK>>>

https://twitter.com/SenDeanHeller/status/862774320061235204

Richard Burr- N. Carolina (Liberty Score 40%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://m.facebook.com/story.php…

TWITTER LINK>>>

https://twitter.com/SenatorBurr/status/857640678217715712

Thom Tillis- N. Carolina (Liberty Score 37%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://m.facebook.com/SenatorThomTillis/photos/a.1583863498515522.1073741828.1576257352609470/1938639513037917/?type=3

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SenThomTillis/status/862769854134308864

John Hoeven- N. Dakota (Liberty Score 26%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://m.facebook.com/story.php…

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SenJohnHoeven/status/862760538962632704

Rob Portmam- Ohio (Liberty Score 49%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://m.facebook.com/story.php…

Respond to @SentorEnzi and @SenJohnBarrasso

John retweeted:

https://twitter.com/SenatorEnzi/status/856892053854212097

@SenJohnBarrasso… scroll down to April 25 tweet and reply…both he and Enzi will be tagged:

https://twitter.com/SenJohnBarrasso

@SenRobPortman on his Drug Free Communities Act:

Reply to Senator Portman about #FullRepeal

https://twitter.com/senrobportman/status/861602377354358786

@SenAlexander needs help… and reminding to support free market reforms and #FullRepeal

https://twitter.com/SenAlexander/status/860238114924752897

Bill Cassidy- Louisiana (Liberty Score 47%)

FACEBOOK LINK>>>

https://www.facebook.com/billcassidy/posts/10154433200681776

TWITTER LINK>>>

https://twitter.com/BillCassidy/status/862332600291078146

John Kennedy- Louisiana (Liberty Score 100%)

FACEBOOK LINK>>>

https://www.facebook.com/SenatorJohnKennedy/videos/994368334033946/

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SenJohnKennedy/status/861642737178877952

Susan Collins- Maine (Liberty Score 12%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/collins4senator/posts/1360074034074549

TWITTER LINK>>>

https://twitter.com/SenatorCollins/status/861233635063730176

Roger Wicker- Mississippi (Liberty Score 30%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/SenatorWicker/posts/1296044893784709

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SenatorWicker/status/861585553938108416

Roy Blunt- Missouri (Liberty Score 41%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/SenatorBlunt/videos/1490364424354837/

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/RoyBlunt/status/862363866570915847

Steve Daines- Montana (Liberty Score 74%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/SteveDainesMT/posts/1101556223322326

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SteveDaines/status/862329016078016513

Deb Fischer- Nebraska (Liberty Score 58%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/senatordebfischer/posts/1492407007445256

TWITTER LINK>>>

https://twitter.com/SenatorFischer/status/862446934010847232

Respond to @SenMajLdr Mitch McConnell talking about the failed Obamacare he helped pass:

https://twitter.com/SenateMajLdr/status/861669608281034752

Respond to @SenTom Cotton:

https://twitter.com/SenTomCotton/status/861628060914900992

Respond to @SenJohnThune:

https://twitter.com/SenJohnThune/status/860210062161305604

Todd Young- Indiana (Liberty Score 50%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/SenatorToddYoung/videos/1853984764626979/

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SenToddYoung/status/861680565103321089

Chuck Grassley- Iowa (Liberty Score 66%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/grassley/posts/10155163167190797

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/ChuckGrassley/status/861980100161679360

Joni Ernst- Iowa (Liberty Score 59%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/senjoniernst/posts/701460383348732:0

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SenJoniErnst/status/862058551350525952

Pat Roberts- Kansas (Liberty Score 67%)

FACEBOOK LINK>>>

https://www.facebook.com/SenPatRoberts/posts/1499703313408062

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SenPatRoberts/status/861673589677989888

Jerry Moran- Kansas (Liberty Score 51%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/jerrymoran/posts/10154682156067106

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/JerryMoran/status/861977055428325378

Mitch McConnell- Kentucky (Liberty Score 40%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/mitchmcconnell/posts/1404146616290692

Rand Paul- Kentucky (Liberty Score 92%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/SenatorRandPaul/posts/1521721364547328

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/RandPaul/status/860222800862302209

@OrrinHatch (Utah)

No real tweets on healthcare but this would be a start: https://twitter.com/OrrinHatch/status/858365618575114240

@TedCruz (TX)

His statement on Trumpcare:

https://twitter.com/FoxNews/status/860198785376550913

Respond to @SenMike Lee (Utah) and @SenHatch on this tweet

(Mostly discussing Bears Ears but this photo has both Lee and Hatch)

https://twitter.com/SenMikeLee/status/861324432568197121

Tom Cotton – Arkansas (Liberty Score 76%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/SenatorTomCotton/videos/793091614185709/

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SenTomCotton/status/861649490041876480

Cory Gardner- Colorado (Liberty Score 41%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/SenCoryGardner/posts/1403607133019303

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SenCoryGardner/status/861588063323131905

Marco Rubio – Florida (Liberty Score 74%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/SenatorMarcoRubio/videos/1680489968643027/

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/marcorubio/status/860899556330008578

Johnny Isakson- Georgia (Liberty Score 30%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/isakson/posts/10154975165975673:0

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/SenatorIsakson/status/860553387754086400

David Perdue- Georgia (Liberty Score 75%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/SenatorDavidPerdue/posts/617691118428616

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/sendavidperdue/status/860232825911619584

Mike Crapo- Indiana (Liberty Score 72%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/mikecrapo/posts/10154518901467267:0

TWITTER LINK >>>

https://twitter.com/MikeCrapo/status/860201578120314881

Jim Risch- Indiana (Liberty Score 76%)

FACEBOOK LINK >>>

https://www.facebook.com/SenatorRisch/posts/10152733907202368

TWITTER LINK>>>

https://twitter.com/SenatorRisch/status/859874845408079881

Your Questions Answered: Should You Bake the Cake?

 

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Emily Miller Jocham, April 24, 2017

To say the 2016 presidential election season was ugly is a vast understatement. Democrats were self destructing; Republicans had 67 candidates (at least it seemed); Libertarians were at odds over…cake. And other things, but mostly cake.

There was a spirited debate among libertarians over this question: If someone wants you to bake their cake, do you have to bake it? The context for this question was provided mostly by the Oregon bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa and their refusal to bake a cake for a lesbian couple in 2013, citing their religious beliefs as support for their refusal to bake the cake. Ultimately, their decision led to the bakery’s closure later that year. A legal battle ensued, and in 2015–while all 96 presidential campaigns for the 2016 election were in full swing–Sweet Cakes’ owners were ordered to pay $135,000.00 in damages to the lesbian couple whose cake they did not want to bake. This spurred the debate among libertarians about who should have to bake whose cake. At the time, two Libertarian Party candidates–Austin Petersen and Gary Johnson–issued two conflicting opinions. Petersen believed bakers should not be forced to bake cakes for customers whom they do not want to bake cakes. Johnson, on the other hand, made statements in support of the couple seeking the cake, stating in part that businesses should not be able to discriminate against their customers.

The masses continue to debate this issue, and it remains a controversial topic among libertarians. You will see at times that we apply the principles of libertarianism differently, which results in more than one perspective in situations such as these, like we saw with Austin Petersen and Gary Johnson. But on this issue, this writer has pitched her tent in Austin Petersen’s camp (and is roasting marshmallows by the fire, discussing Libertarian Utopia and how we will build the roads). But there is a good explanation.

As controversial as it may sound, a baker should be able to refuse service to anyone he wants for any reason he wants without governmental interference with his decision, even in the most reprehensible situations. Libertarians generally believe that people have a right to choose with whom they associate, and as a result, people have a right to choose with whom they do business. Therefore, if a Jewish baker wants to deny a neo-Nazi’s non-Kosher swastika cookie order (yep, I went full cliché), then he should be able to do that without punitive repercussions from the government. That freedom should be afforded to every business owner.

Now, in the same respect, a consumer also has every right to observe a business’s behavior and decide whether that business is entitled to his money. Enter now, the free market. If a business owner decides to discriminate against customers based upon their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or any other reason with which other consumers disagree, then those consumers have the right to object to that business owner’s behavior and act accordingly by refusing to solicit the services of that business. Among other things, you could organize a peaceful protest against the business or even chastise the business on Yelp (or using any other means via the Internet to spread the word of that business’s actions). So although consumers should not have the right to dictate how a business owner runs his business by invoking Daddy Government’s powers, they do have the right to protest the business and refuse to solicit that business’s services, as well as influence others to do the same. These recourses have the potential to shut down the business in question or severely negatively affect that business’s income. This is how the free market resolves these issues, without the need for government punishments and/or burdensome, unnecessary regulations. (If you don’t believe the free market works, see the recent United Airlines debacle as an example. It works.) Moreover, once you give the government an inch, it takes 500 miles. So when we allow the government an opportunity to restrict freedoms of individuals—even in their capacities as business owners—the sky’s the limit for what is next, and it puts every single business owner in the nation at risk for undue influence in his business operations, which ultimately puts our economy at risk. The free market eliminates the need for such interference by the government.

Finally, it’s generally accepted among libertarians that as long as you are not depriving someone’s rights or causing actual harm to someone, then you are free to act as you wish. People do not have an inherent right to a business’s services by forcing that business to accomplish their demands. But, a business owner does have an inherent right to refuse his services to anyone he wishes, based upon the principle of freedom of association. By forcing business owners to act against their will, their individual rights are not only ignored and violated, but in essence, they become indentured servants to consumers and are therefore subject to consumers’ whims du jour. This creates the slippery slope situation with the Jewish baker, described above.

Is it upsetting to see a business owner refuse service to a person based upon that person’s race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or otherwise? Absolutely. Would this writer support the protest against a business that refuses service to a person based upon his race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or otherwise and actively engage in any boycott of said business and refuse to give it a penny? You better believe it. But, should personal opinions influence how a business owner conducts himself in that capacity, and should the government involve itself in such situations at consumers’ behest? Absolutely not. Business owners are free to act however they wish, but always at their own peril. The free market offers natural rewards and natural consequences, and business owners have to accept both.

 

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Fighting Human Trafficking Requires More Liberty, Not Less

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Jared Miller, April 14, 2017

A while back, our page posted a meme about human trafficking. It stated that if prostitution were legal, human trafficking would end. While it was an excellent conversation starter, the realities of this despicable practice are not that easy to solve. That doesn’t mean it was totally wrong. A strong solution includes multiple strategies, and a legal and well regulated adult services industry could very well be one of them.

Human trafficking is broadly defined as the illegal transport of humans from one area or country to another. Since that is such a vague definition, the objective of this article will be to focus solely on human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. What should be done from a libertarian perspective? There is no single answer, but I will do my best to put together a solid foundation from which to mount an attack.

First and foremost, we need to remember that a problem like this is exactly what libertarians believe government is supposed to address. There can be no more clear a violation of an individual’s life, liberty, or property than involuntary human trafficking. Sometimes it seems we libertarians get too caught up in what government shouldn’t do. Then, when we do come across a problem that fits our narrow vision of the just use of force we reflexively default to, “Muh liberty! Muh freedoms!” In this case, we may argue about what form intervention should take, but we cannot argue against its necessity. Personally I would love to see us rain hell on anyone involved in such a disgusting practice with even more ferocity than we have used against nonviolent drug offenders or middle eastern civilians.

Is direct police or military intervention the only answer though? Is that really all we can do? No, nor should it be. In this author’s humble opinion, we should approach it on three main fronts: law enforcement, adult services, and immigration reform.

The first I won’t spend much time on. Devoting law enforcement resources to tracking and eliminating traffickers is already happening, and it doesn’t need me to advocate for it. Although in conjunction with another necessary human rights reform, ending the drug war, many more resources could be devoted to a crime that actually has victims.

The second is adult services, specifically legal prostitution. Like all forms of full prohibition, making a product or service illegal does not eliminate it from existence, it merely creates a new black market to be exploited. Volumes could be, and have already been, written about the possible benefits of legalized prostitution, but the only one we must concern ourselves with is that now a new industry is ready to be staffed legitimately. Without the need to fill an illegal industry with illegal workers, the necessity for trafficking humans would also decline.

“Ah,” the astute observer may begin, “but you are making a huge assumption. You are assuming that there will be enough people willing to staff such an industry at a price the consumer can afford. What’s more, what if the customer has a specific request? Is there not still a demand that may not be filled by legitimate means?”

Mr Observer is correct. An easily overlooked reality of prostitution is that it doesn’t just create a black market service. It relies on the black market for people.

Which is why none of this will help without immigration reform. We don’t like to think of people as commodities, because they aren’t. But their labor is. Again I must repeat myself: Prohibition does not eliminate demand. It only creates a black market. There will be a demand for people to work within this newly legal industry. If there is not a high enough domestic supply of individuals who desire to work in this field then it also creates a new avenue for immigration. I do not have to tell you how hard it is currently even to enter this country on a work visa. If someone wanted to enter this country in search of a better life, and saw sex work as their most viable option, they should have the ability to do so. If, due to an unnecessarily arduous immigration system they are prevented from entry, someone will find a way to fill that demand. Some will voluntarily seek to be trafficked, while others are kidnapped and sold into slavery. Either way, we have only created both a criminal and human rights disaster without reducing either demand or willingness of someone to fill that demand.

It would take all three reforms happening simultaneously to truly address this complex issue. But there is an even more important reason to enact these reforms. It stands to reason that once these changes are implemented, child trafficking offenses will also diminish. In addition to the increase in vigilance by law enforcement, we can once more draw a parallel from the drug war. In order to use marijuana, I have to become familiar with an entire criminal world. I may get lucky and get a dealer that’s only selling weed, or I may find one that also pushes meth, ecstasy, heroine, etc. One day, for whatever reason, I may be looking for a more intense high. If I am already breaking the law, and already introduced to that criminal world, it is a very small leap to other drugs.

Several years ago a friend of mine wanted to buy some medical-grade cannabis oil for a loved one stricken with cancer. In order to do so, he had to familiarize himself with what is essentially the Internet black market. He showed it to me one day, and I could not believe what he could find: massive quantities of hard drugs, highly illegal weaponry, essentially any illicit craving a little black heart could desire. There were even listings for illegal services that make prostitution seem like child’s play by comparison. Incidentally, the fact that he had to go through all of that just to take care of a loved one is what made me realize that marijuana prohibition was a far greater evil than marijuana use ever could be.

Granted, the vast majority of people do just stick with weed. Just like most people stick with adult prostitution. But if the law is already being broken, those who are more inclined toward the more sickening side of sex work have just as easy access to it as they do adults. Making adult prostitution legal and relaxing immigration laws eliminates that easy access, and in this case may prevent lesser perverts from crossing over into much more sinister filth.

https://polarisproject.org/national-human-trafficking-hotline https://humantraffickinghotline.org https://www.acf.hhs.gov/otip/victim-assistance/national-human-trafficking-hotline

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Monteneg-NO: Stop Encouraging the NATO Fiasco.

 

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Emily Miller Jocham, March 31, 2017

First, let me qualify this article with the following statement: In Libertarian Utopia, there is no NATO, or, at the very least, Libertarian Utopia is not a party to NATO. But this is not Libertarian Utopia; this is the United States. And unfortunately, the United States is very much an active party to NATO.

NATO is not something anyone addresses very often, and if its attempt to add Montenegro to the club hadn’t been briefly mentioned in recent headlines, you probably would not be reading this article. So let’s have a very quick and oversimplified review. NATO–the North Atlantic Treaty Association–goes all the way back to 1949. Western European countries had major concerns about the threats Communism posed to their societies, so the Treaty of Brussels was organized among Belgium, The United Kingdom, France, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The Treaty of Brussels was an agreement of obligation among those countries to provide defense services to each other in the event it became necessary. Shortly afterward, the fearless leaders of those countries realized the world superpower at the time–the United States–would be an invaluable member of such an agreement (because of course). Thus, the North Atlantic Treaty was born. By affixing his signature to the agreement, President Truman committed unlimited future generations to the defense of other nations’ wars, and the United States officially became a member of NATO. By virtue of its membership, the United States has guaranteed a measure of military support and assistance to other countries who are members of NATO, if any of those countries light up the skies with their Bat Signals.

Fast forward almost 70 years, several internationally-cooperative conflicts, and the addition of 20+ members, and you find our current debacle. Montenegro has been invited to become a member of the super exclusive Defense Charity Club that is NATO, and the Unites States Congress has recently addressed the issue (and by “address”, I mean demand that everyone affirm their support for Montenegro and ratify its admission to NATO or risk being called a Putin operative). It makes a lot of sense for Montenegro. Montenegro is a small country. Its military has a total headcount of less than 2,000 people, and its long, bloody history of having to fight for its independence makes Montenegro feel vulnerable to countries that may want to undo the decades-long pursuit of that independence. Even I will admit there is a very legitimate concern about Russia’s objectives for the small country. So I get it.

But here’s the problem. The United States has already vastly overextended itself in foreign conflicts. The “War on Terror”, patrolling various international borders around the world, and maintaining heavily-staffed military bases in just about every country you can think of–just to name a few things–has not only stretched the United States’ military thin, it has involved the United States in conflicts that are not its own. It has also negatively affected the United States’ ability to maintain an atmosphere of peace with the rest of the world. Don’t get me wrong. As a libertarian, I favor a robust military with well-established defense strategies. However, I do not believe national defense is characterized by maintaining an offensive presence in other countries, and I am certain national defense does not include carrying out military operations in other countries just so we can be good friends with countries that can’t handle their own conflicts. Libertarians favor a foreign policy that puts actual defense first–that is, the ability to defend our country only in the event it is attacked, as opposed to preemptively fighting wars and establishing guard in countries whose conflicts do not arise from attacks directly perpetrated against the United States.

The cost of war is high–not just financially, but even more importantly for the men and women charged with fighting in those wars. Death, dismemberment, and permanent physical and/or mental incapacities are the prices paid by our military personnel. The responsibility our government has to its military personnel is immense. To drop them into an obligatory war without due consideration is unconscionable. Yet, that is the web of entanglement which NATO creates for its members. Ideally, the United States would withdraw from NATO entirely, but since that is definitely not on the table, the best we can expect now is for the United States to put a stop to issuing new membership cards.

Because in the end, adding more countries to NATO means being obligated to engage in more wars and international conflicts, which also means irresponsibly putting even more of our armed forces on other countries’ frontlines, forcing them to fight and/or die and/or become permanently injured in a war in which the United States has no interest. That should be unacceptable not just to libertarians, but to everyone.

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