Why Marx Was (Almost) Right

marxwrong

Kris Morgan 1/25/18

Karl Marx is one of history’s most controversial figures. Those of us who are politically engaged will inevitably have to resolve his ideas with our own beliefs, whether we reject or accept them. Not only was he a staunch nemesis of capitalism, he and Friedrich Engels developed a competing economic system that does not rely on private property, capital investments, or entrepreneurship. Since we do live in a capitalist society, it is beneficial to revisit his critiques of capitalism, which were rolled out in the late 19th century in Das Kapital.  

In 2014 Sean McElwee of Rolling Stone wrote an article based on Marx’s analysis of capitalism titled “Why Marx Was Right: Five Surprising Ways Marx Predicted 2014”. These included the chaotic nature of capitalism, imaginary appetites, globalization, monopoly, and the impoverishment of the middle class. On the surface, there is plenty of evidence that suggests Marx was correct. The middle class is diminishing, we are still recovering from the real estate collapse, and it’s safe to say we all have things we don’t need. Additionally, WalMart dominates and presently operates stores in 44 countries. However, in spite of proving correct in his long-term economic predictions, Marx was wrong on every point.

On the chaos of capitalism, McElwee’s argument in favor of Marx went as follows: “Broadly speaking, it’s what made the housing market crash in 2008. Decades of deepening inequality reduced incomes, which led more and more Americans to take on debt. When there were no subprime borrows (sic) left to scheme, the whole façade fell apart, just as Marx knew it would.” This is true, but what is also apparent is the domination of the financial system by the Federal Reserve, through Act of Congress, since 1913. With the ability to offer loans at lower-than-market rates, combined with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (chartered by Congress in 1938 and 1970 respectively) and the Community Reinvestment Act, we can safely say we have not had a free market for quite some time. The chaos we experience is the result of central planning, not free markets.

Of imaginary appetites, Marx stated capitalism would lead to “a contriving and ever-calculating subservience to inhuman, sophisticated, unnatural and imaginary appetites.” McElwee then surmises that though cell phones change very little with each progression, we purchase the latest anyways. But this is more a statement about human demands than the capitalist system of private property. The capitalist economy is nothing more than the notion that if left alone, people will store a supply of goods to satisfy perceived demand. Should our preferences change, production and marketing strategies will change as well. That is the strength of markets. The fact that so many have the means and time to focus on the latest and greatest advances, rather than whether we will eat, is a sign that we have surpassed basic subsistence.

In 1848 Marx predicted globalization, arguing “It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.” It is undeniable that capitalists want to trade with as many people as possible, however, is this not true of every economic organization? Communism itself is an international force the same way capitalism is. Neither ideology can be said to be a complete reality so long as the global community is mixed. Each will strive for what they perceive as the liberation of others as well as the advancement of its own agenda.

Monopoly is also a part of his critique of the market economy. According to the article, “Marx, however, argued that market power would actually be centralized in large monopoly firms as businesses increasingly preyed upon each other.” Wal Mart’s success is then used as an example. While we can agree Wal Mart has controlled the market, we cannot agree it is entirely due to market forces. Since the Progressive Era industry has turned to government for cartelization and other benefits. According to Forbes, Walmart cost taxpayers $6.2bn in public assistance. It is officially safe to stop pretending Walmart is an example of out-of-control free trade.

As Murray Rothbard pointed out, “The government interventions of the Progressive Era were systemic devices to restrict competition and cartelize industry… Just as other industries turned to the government to impose cartelization that could not be maintained on the market, so the banks turned to government to enable them to expand money and credit without being held back by the demands for redemption by competing banks.” Do we honestly believe the rich fund political campaigns and lobby politicians to make sure things are always fair?

Finally, we address the diminishing middle class. With the aforementioned interventions, dispelling this myth should be a piece of cake. The central bank disrupting the economy and causing malinvestments and subsequent bailouts, devaluation of currency, and cartelization of industry, we have an obvious recipe for corporate oligarchy.

Marx would have been right on all points had he simply used the phrase ‘state capitalism’ or ‘crony capitalism’. The only way one can conclude Marx was correct in his analysis of the market economy is by completely ignoring all state interventions. Free market economists, such as viewed by the Austrian School, do not consider central bans, whimsical regulations, nor any other infringements on property as part of capitalism. There is simply no basis to attribute flaws in society under the broad umbrella of free market deficiencies.

These predictions under the conditions of our current political system are obvious. Of course big business pays for favors from big government. Even Obamacare worked to enrich the health insurance industry as well as big pharma, while our premiums skyrocket. The alliance between industry and politics is unholy, damaging, and has nothing at all to do with free trade. Indeed, Free Market economists not only made the same predictions, but in his latest work The Progressive Era, Murray Rothbard offers a historical record of it! When the extreme rich use their money to influence politicians, politics itself becomes nothing more than one massive marketing campaign.

 

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Helping The Poor: Markets vs. Charity and Welfare

markets

Kris Morgan 1/15/18

There is much debate on the best means to help the poor. The left trusts welfare programs with the task, while their adversaries offer charities as a viable alternative. Too few point out that the market economy is empirically and logically the best overall choice. Crony capitalism and a general lack in understanding of economics have created an environment where the very idea is met with disgust. Despite that attitude, the market economy is the greatest arena to improve conditions for the poor.

Welfare programs operate to redistribute income from one person to another. While it’s true this makes it possible for the recipients to consume more, in the long run we are only working to subsidize inactivity. It doesn’t matter whether a welfare recipient works or not. Money given for nothing is always money that could have been traded for something. Taxing production to subsidize idleness diverts resources which could otherwise be used to make investments and create jobs, withholding opportunities from the very people we are trying to help. In essence, we create a welfare trap and permanent underclass.

Charity is a cousin of welfare. Although it’s perfectly within the confines of private property rights, it too is not the best way to help the poor. Resources are given to the needy at the behest of their proper owners. Some do help people by offering or finding them work, but such actions represent market activity. Charity, absent investment to meet economic demands, is no more stabilizing than welfare. No wealth is created, nor is anything done to make the receiver more marketable for future or better employment.

The only way to provide the poor with greater stability and wealth in the long run is through capital investment and entrepreneurship. For low wage earners, investment in capital goods makes labor more productive. Increased productivity leads to increased earnings by the business and opens the door for higher wages. When a society boosts production, prices fall. Even if employers refuse to offer raises, material well-being increases for everyone.

Entrepreneurship is the force for creating jobs. Though new businesses usually offer lower pay, entry level jobs help us gain experience and make connections. Building a positive reputation is a building block towards advancement and/or finding a better employer. If one is lucky enough to apply at a new establishment early, they may also attain a leadership role. It’s safe to say most of us look back on our first jobs as providing a template for proper workplace etiquette; knowledge that is expected of all adults in any organization.

Whatever one may think about the market as a mechanism for helping the poor, it’s telling that both charity and welfare attempt to hold people over until they are able to find a stable source of income. A welfare/charity case is not considered turned around until they find good paying employment; which the market provides. Additionally, resources offered by charities and programs alike are first generated by the productive market.

Steve Patterson made this point clear when he wrote: “Without this initial creation of wealth, charities would have nothing to distribute. In the developed world, it’s easy to forget that poverty is the default state of human existence. Wealth is not found in nature; it must be created, which is precisely the role of businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Whatever you think about living standards during the Industrial Revolution, can we imagine where we would be had it not taken place? One of the hottest topics of debate is what to do about America’s decline in factory jobs (though our output is actually up). Without the revolution there would be no factory job issue today, nor would we be in the middle of a technological revolution that gives us access to almost anything we want to learn.

When it comes to welfare, charity, and markets, there is no question as to which is the best method for helping the poor. Creating new jobs and investing in capital equipment is how economic growth occurs. Not only are more jobs available, but each unit of labor is more productive. Real wages rise, and the well-being of all sees a net gain as a result.

Next time you consider giving to a charity, or perhaps a person in need whom you happen to see in your city, consider paying them to do something. Anything. No matter how small. By offering a trade rather than a handout, you give them something to build on (including their self-esteem), much better than a few bucks that will tide them over until the next meal.

 

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Envisioning a 12-Step Limited Government

12step

By Travis Hallman 11/30/2017

The speakers in 12-step meetings are remarkably inspiring. They have a genuine understanding of serenity and the necessary steps to attain it. One wonders what a government would look like if its representatives applied the same simple principles to its policies. Here is a presentation of each step and how they can be applied to government.

Limiting our government using a 12-step program would require more effort than any individual could offer. It would challenge communities to elect local, state, and national representatives which support limited power.

Step 1:

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

Adjusted:

We admitted we were powerless over others—that people were unmanageable by government.

  Applied:

Prohibition is ineffective and immoral.
“The United States has focused its efforts on the criminalization of drug use. The government has, to no avail, spent billions of dollars attempting  to eradicate the supply of drugs. Efforts of interdiction and law enforcement have not produced decreases in the availability of drugs in America. Apart from being costly, drug law enforcement has been counterproductive. Current drug laws need to be relaxed.”
These principles could be applied to any form of prohibition. Prohibiting non-violent activities drives demand into black markets which negatively affects every aspect of society.
Government tactics for modifying behavior through punishment have been costly and ineffective. Friends, family, and local community programs have much greater ability to tailor solutions to the struggling individual’s personality..

Step 2:

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Adjusted:

Came to believe that a community greater than ourselves could restore our government to sanity.

Applied:

Governments extorting people (via taxes) to fund departments such as the DEA, FDA, EPA, DoE, CIA, FBI, IRS, NSA, etc that are not only immoral but impractical.

Step 3:

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him

Adjusted:

Made a decision to turn our government and representing politicians over to the care of the community as we understood it

Applied:

It is well known that many politicians pass bills in the interest of their lobbyists. This is called crony capitalism. However, limiting businesses that partake in lobbying would be immoral and detrimental as they provide valuable products and services to the community. The solution is to elect representatives which consistently support free markets. “A free market consists of economic freedom such that anybody could open a business without having to pay the government for permission (permits, licenses, etc). A free market would have no taxes, eliminating reasons for corporations to partner with politicians for tax breaks. A free market would not allow bailouts, allowing businesses to have setbacks, and avoiding the creation of artificial monopolies. These economic freedoms would enable new competition to compete more efficiently.” –How Free Markets Empower Green Markets

Case in point: Corporations do not tend to donate large sums of money to libertarian campaigns because in a free market, which libertarians support, that would be a conflict of interest.

Step 4:

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Adjusted:

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our government.

Applied:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” –Nelson Mandela
If we perform a moral efficiency audit of various government programs, we will discover many are ineffective and immoral. Officials keep a self-determined portion of that income, spend ample amounts on services most Americans deem undesirable, and give only a small amount to citizens on welfare. Welfare limits the amount of income individuals can earn, resulting in multiple dependent generations who often seek non-taxable income elsewhere. Voluntary Socialism would be a moral and efficient means of establishing a safety net within our communities. The list of flaws in government operated welfare highlights what happens when government restricts freedoms. Other examples include immigration; foreign policy; and prohibition of various civil liberties.

Step 5:

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Adjusted:

Admitted to our community, to ourselves, and to others the exact nature of wrongs by our government.

Applied:

Ignorance is bliss until we realize it allows government to limit the liberties of others and ultimately ourselves.
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” –Martin Niemöller
Avoiding intellectual discussion results in people continuing to vote in a manner that precipitates the nightmare presented by Martin Niemöller. We must engage in intellectual discussions about the wrongs of our government in order to make changes.

Step 6:

We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Adjusted:

We’re entirely ready to have our community remove all these defects of government.

Applied:

Limiting government will require responsibility within ourselves, our families, and our communities. Currently governments incarcerate children caught using drugs, whereas a 12-step limited government would allow the family, friends, and community to rehabilitate them.

Step 7:

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Adjusted:

Humbly asked our community to remove the shortcomings of our government.

Applied:

Having a community remove the shortcomings of our government consists of electing limited-government politicians, and replacing excessive or incompetent departments with voluntary charities and organizations which are more compassionate and efficient.

Step 8:

Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Adjusted:

Made a list of all persons our government had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Applied:

Most people have been harmed by our government somehow by either having money extorted from them via taxes, earning a criminal record for non-aggressive offenses, prohibition from non-aggressive activities, or something altogether different. Making amends by establishing voluntary safety nets, rehabilitation centers, halfway houses, etc, would encourage these persons to vote for limited-government politicians; making dependence on the government no longer necessary. The aforementioned businesses could be for profit, competing in a free market, costing less per consumer, with higher quality than government operated/regulated non-profit businesses.

Step 9:

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Adjusted:

Made direct amends to such people harmed by government wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Applied:

Returning all taxes collected and expunging all non-aggressive criminal records would directly amend people harmed by the government. Furthermore, allowing citizens to voluntarily choose which government programs to support during tax season would be a benevolent deed to follow up with direct amends. Concurrently allowing socialist programs to be funded by the free market, creating a voluntary tax system, and making legal immigration easier would encourage undocumented immigrants to become documented.
Darryl Perry stated how to best make amends during the 2016 LP presidential debate: “How many people in here, (and I actually do want a show of hands,) love grandma’s? How many of you would donate money to feed grandma’s? I do not see a single person that did not raise their hand. That’s how you fund social security, medicaid, and medicare.”
Voluntary Socialism would provide a more efficient and moral solution to the problems caused by government.

Step 10:

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Adjusted:

Continued to take personal inventory of our government and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

Applied:

Limiting government officials will be an endless task. We will need to work together (to assess the damages so far), analyze the data with realistic goals, and continue educating new voters about the dangers of a powerful government.

Step 11:

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Adjusted:

Sought to improve our conscious contact with representatives, only for their knowledge of our will for us and the power to carry that out.

Applied:

It is our responsibility to remain in contact with  our legislators, informing them of our wishes. By remaining active in our communities we ensure our voices are heard and our representatives held accountable.

Step 12:

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Adjusted:

Having had a political awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other communities, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Applied:

Caring for other communities as we care for our own is essential to establishing federal liberties for our states. Focusing on single States would likely create a domino effect by setting an example of success for other states to follow. Once several states prove the success of liberty, voters nationwide would be more likely to elect liberty-minded Representatives at federal levels.

Conclusion

The Libertarian Party consistently supports limited-government via free markets, social tolerance, decreasing border controls, and not intervening in foreign affairs. Voting for libertarians at local, state, and federal levels expresses care for others as much as oneself. “As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty — a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values.” Correspondingly, selfishness isn’t taught to be necessary for recovery anywhere in the 12-step program.

12-step slogans that align with libertarian slogans

12 step: “Live and let live.”

Libertarian: “Choose for yourself, not for others.”

12 step: “One day at a time.”

Libertarian: “Just vote Libertarian until you’re too free.”

12 step: “Feelings are not facts.”

Libertarian: “Our freedom is more important than your good idea.”

12 step: “Principles before personality.”

Libertarian: “If you don’t trust us to govern ourselves, how can you trust us to govern others?”

12 step: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

Libertarian: “Ask not what your country can force other people to do for you.”

12 step: “You can’t think your way into a new way of living…you have to live your way into a new way of thinking.”

Libertarian: “Vote Libertarian. Win a free country.”

12 step: “Your worth should never depend on another person’s opinion.”

Libertarian: “Excuse me, your security is standing on my freedom.”

12 step: “It’s a simple program for complicated people.”

Libertarian: “People are complex, but liberty is simple.”

12 step: “Keep it simple.”

Libertarian: “Legalize freedom.”

12 step: “To thine own self be true.”

Libertarian: “Everyone should be free to be true to their self.”

12 step: “Keep the plug in the jug.”

Libertarian: “Please don’t feed the donkeys and elephants. It just increases their output.”

12 step: “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Libertarian: “Screw this. I’m voting Libertarian.”

12 step: “You only get out of it what you put into it.”

Libertarian: “Your money. Your body. Your planet. Take responsibility for what you do with them. Vote Libertarian.”

In liberty,

-Travis Hallman

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Military Libertarians

military

Travis Hallman   12/22/17

Many of our most vocal activists within the Libertarian Party are current and former members of the military. Veterans and active duty service members were one of our largest groups of voters in the 2016 election. The official Libertarian Platform states:

Libertarian Platform 3.3: International Affairs

“American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.”

Please click this link if you’re interested in understanding the reasoning behind our support of a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Libertarians with experience in the Armed Services

Ron Paul

Ron-Paul-military2

“Ron Paul is America’s leading voice for liberty, prosperity and peace. As a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and three-time presidential candidate, Ron Paul tirelessly works for limited, constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies. Ron Paul never voted for legislation unless the proposed measure was expressly authorized by the Constitution.”

https://www.ronpaul.com/who-is-ron-paul/

Leading libertarian politician Ron Paul started out in medicine. After graduating from Duke University’s medical school in 1961, Ron Paul soon went on to become a military doctor. He served with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. National Guard during the 1960s. Paul branched out into politics in the 1970s.”

https://www.biography.com/people/ron-paul

Drew Carey

Drew-Carey2

“I never thought I was a libertarian until I picked up Reason magazine and realized I agree with everything they had printed..”

Drew Carey in Time (August 9, 2007)

“Drew Carey served 6 years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. When Time Magazine asked him what events in life made him who he is, Carey replied “the Marine Corps. It instilled a great sense of discipline that I can call on when I need to.” Obviously he enjoyed being a jarhead because he has kept his Marine crew cut through most of his stage and TV career.”

https://m.usni.org/news-and-features/10-people-you-didnt-know-were-us-marines

Adam Kokesh

Kokesh2

“[Adam Kokesh is] running for not-president in 2020 to dissolve the entire federal government.”

https://www.facebook.com/KokeshForNotPresident/

“[Adam Kokesh was] an Iraq war veteran [that was] kicked out of the Marines days early with a general discharge after he wore his uniform during an anti-war demonstration.”

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/06/13/iraq-vet-who-wore-uniform-to-war-protest-gets-general-discharge.html

Jesse Ventura

ventura2

“Jesse Ventura is a Progressive Libertarian.”

http://www.ontheissues.org/Jesse_Ventura.htm

“Ventura enlisted into the United States Navy and joined the Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) after graduating from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) school. Ventura frequently references his military service in public, and a lawyer from San Diego criticized him for faking his claims of being a SEAL. Although Ventura never completed the extra 26 weeks of training to become a SEAL, the UDTs were broken apart and combined with the SEAL teams after Vietnam. Ventura claims that UDTs simply refer to themselves as SEALs due to the restructuring. Despite his membership with Underwater Demolition Team 12, Ventura never saw combat during Vietnam although he did receive the Vietnam Service Medal.”

https://www.military.com/veteran-jobs/career-advice/military-transition/famous-veteran-jesse-ventura.html

Harry Browne

browne2

Harry Browne was an American free-market Libertarian writer and the Libertarian Party’s 1996 & 2000 candidate for President of the United States.”

https://www.harrybrowne.org/

“He was inducted into the U.S. Army on May 5, 1953. He went to the Southwestern Signal Corps Training Center at Camp San Luis Obispo, California to study cryptography. On October 4, 1953, he was sent to Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, where the 1954 Operation Castle hydrogen bomb tests were conducted.

In 1955 Browne was sent to Eniwetok to finish his tour of duty and afterwards was transferred to the Army Reserves at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. He was released from active military service on July 17, 1956. He was honorably discharged from the Armed Forces on February 28, 1961 and discharged from the Army Reserves on July 1, 1961.”

https://www.revolvy.com/Browne

Carl E. Person

person2

“He [Carl E. Person] was a candidate for the 2012 presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party, was the Reform Party nominee for Mayor of New York City in 2013, was the Libertarian nominee for New York State Attorney General in 2010 and was the Libertarian nominee for New York State Attorney General again in 2014.

Person was born in Manhattan and has lived in New York State most of his life with the exception of 2 years when his family lived in Nebraska and his 3 years of service in the U.S. Army. Person dropped out of Northport (New York) High School after his sophomore year, and joined the U.S. Army for a 3-year enlistment. His service included two years on Okinawa as a ship to shore high speed radio operator, to send and receive Morse code. Despite his lack of a high school diploma, Person is a graduate of Long Island University and Harvard Law School.”

https://www.revolvy.com/CarlPerson

James P. Gray

gray2

“James Polin ‘Jim’ Gray (born February 14, 1945) is an American jurist and writer. He was the presiding judge of the Superior Court of Orange County, California. Gray was the 2012 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee, as well as the party’s 2004 candidate for the United States Senate in California. He is the author of multiple books and a play, and is critical of current American drug laws.

Gray has been a member of the California Judicial Council, as well as the California Judicial Council’s Advisory Committee on Juvenile Law, the Alcohol Advisory Board to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the Advisory Board of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, and the Orange County Law Library. He has also been a member of the Board of Councilors of the USC Law School. Gray also introduced Orange County to the Peer Court system, where juvenile defendants travel to a school outside their district to have their actual cases tried by other teenagers. In 2012, Gray was nominated by Libertarian Party convention delegates as the running mate of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.”

https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Judge%20Jim%20Gray&item_type=topic

US Army Vietnam Veteran
29+ Years Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
2 Years Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC
A total of 34 years 10 months Federal Service”

www.jpgraynh.com/serving-the-people

R. Lee Wrights

wrights2

“Roger Lee Wrights (June 8, 1958—May 4, 2017) was the Vice Chair of the National Libertarian Party from 2012 to 2014. He was also a frontrunning contender for the nomination for US President for the 2012 election season.”

https://lpedia.org/Lee_Wrights

“Wrights was born on June 8, 1958 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He graduated from West Forsyth High School in Clemmons, North Carolina in 1976. Afterwards he enlisted in the United States Air Force, and served as a medical services technician at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Goldsboro, North Carolina. He was honorably discharged in 1981 with the rank of sergeant.”

Mike Gravel

Mike_Gravel2

“Mike Gravel was born on May 13, 1930, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He graduated from Columbia University and was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1963. In 1968, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he became known for his attempts to end the draft during the Vietnam War and for releasing the Pentagon Papers. Gravel ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. In March of that year, he left the Democrats and switched to the Libertarian Party. With little success in the elections, Gravel ultimately left elected office but remained politically active and championing his ideas through the years.”

https://www.biography.com/people/mike-gravel

In 1951, Mike Gravel enlisted in the United States Army (1951–54) serving as Adjutant in the Communications Intelligence Service in Germany and as a Special Agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps in France.”

https://mikegravel.com/bio/

Larry Sharpe

Sharpe2

“Larry Sharpe (born July 12, 1968) is an American business consultant and political activist. He was a Libertarian candidate for Vice President in 2016. On July 12, 2017, he made the official announcement that he will be running for Governor of New York in 2018.”

https://lpedia.org/Larry_Sharpe

As a Marine Corps veteran and father, Larry values duty, service, honesty, and loyalty. His experience imparted crucial skills like flexibility, resilience, discipline, and focus. With nearly seven years of active duty and an honorable discharge, teamwork and strategic thinking are at Larry’s core. He is attuned to the needs of veterans, as well as to the value of human life and liberty.”

https://www.larrysharpe.com/bio/

Kevin Enilc

enilc2

Kevin Enilc is an author for Liberty Viral that wrote 6 Reasons Why It Blows To Be A Libertarian In The Military along with many other articles related to foreign policy.

Kristopher Morgan

morgan2

Kristopher Morgan is an author and publisher for the Ask A Libertarian Facebook page. Kristopher was a sergeant in the Army.

“The enforcement arm of the government gets thanked while the other branches get blamed, even though the executive is in charge of administering what the legislative decides. We complain about bad laws and then go around thanking policeman… or we strongly disagree with our foreign policy and then get yellow ribbons that say ‘support our troops’ and buy vets beers and all this other nonsense… I’m sorry, I’m a veteran myself, and I’m not gonna go around thanking people for being part of the military and fighting political battles for the military-industrial complex…”

Andrew Deemer

deemer

Andrew Deemer an author for the Ask A Libertarian Facebook page. Andrew Deemer served six years and was deployed to Iraq twice as an Army mechanic specialist.

“War is damaging in so many ways, the people being invaded more so. Men in uniforms breaking down doors, shouting, yelling in the middle of the night waking them up. The father doing what a father does, protecting his family. They shoot him in front of the rest of the family and then just leave. Leaving this family broken, and making new enemies. Now that soldier that pulled the trigger because he was acting on instinct will have to live with that the rest of his life. We do not want to kill anyone. We do not want PTSD. We don’t want to be messed up.

Why do I support non intervention? How many more fathers, mothers, daughters, and sons have to suffer? How many other countries have to stay behind because we won’t let them advance, knowing dang well it is our interventions that make them hate us?

I support non-intervention because every 65 minutes another veteran dies by his/her own hand. Because I want to stop 22 veterans a day from killing themselves. #nomore22 #nomoreintervention”
-Andrew Deemer

Trent Somes III

somes

Trent Somes, III (Theodore Arthur Somes, III, born 24 April 1998) is a current USMC reservist. He is one of the youngest Libertarian Party leaders in the US. Somes started Westmoreland County Libertarians in 2015 under the direction of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania at age 17, and the Libertarian Youth Caucus.

At the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania convention in 2016, Somes, along with other youth, founded the Libertarian Youth Caucus, which quickly rose to be a well – known organization.

“I believe in a foreign policy that emphasizes nonintervention and global cooperation. I believe open borders and free trade are essential to having a world of liberal democracy.”  -Trent Somes III

Admiral Michael C. Colley

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“He [Michael C. Colley] graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy. He had sea duty assignments on several nuclear-powered submarines and was Commanding Officer of the attack submarine Narwhal. Other operational assignments included command of the submarine tender Proteusin Guam and the Navy’s largest submarine squadron in Groton, Connecticut. During the Gulf War, he was commander of the Pacific Fleet submarine force of over 40 boats from his headquarters at Pearl Harbor. Later onshore he was Commander for Navy Recruiting. He was also Director, Division of Mathematics and Science (including the departments of math, physics, chemistry, oceanography and computer science) at the Naval Academy for three academic years.

Colley has been active in the National Security Policy and Analysis fields.”

http://lpedia.org/Michael_Colley

“Colley became involved in the Libertarian Party after more than 30 years of service in the U.S. Navy. A year after he joined the Alabama Libertarian Party in 2003, he started serving the first of his three terms as at-large representative on the Libertarian National Committee.”

https://www.lp.org/blogs-staff-the-libertarian-party-remembers-admiral-michael-c-colley/

Conclusion

“A 2014 Military Times survey showed that the number of troops who identified themselves as Republican was dropping, while those identifying themselves as libertarian or independent was rising.”

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/295409-johnson-tops-among-veterans

Dismissing libertarian foreign policy by assuming libertarians haven’t served in war is inaccurate because many libertarians have served in the United States armed forces. It is a flawed paradigm because one does not have to experience war to understand it, just as one does not have to have experience designing doorknobs to know how one should be used.

In liberty,

-Travis Hallman

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Common-Sense Guns

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Donnie Davis, October 5, 2017

Let’s end the debate on gun control. Criminals will always be able to acquire guns because they don’t abide by laws. Laws make it harder for ordinary citizens to buy weapons to protect themselves, while criminals access the black market.

In many states, purchasing a firearm requires passing a NICS check. It consists of running your ID through federal and state databases to screen people who have been involved in domestic disturbances or have criminal records.

In addition to the NICS background check, potential gun owners must meet local and state requirements. It is noteworthy that in some cities, such as Chicago, it is illegal to own handguns.  In 2016, Chicago experienced 762 homicides; the gun control crowd bears a heavy burden explaining this. While some instinctually believe restrictions are not rigorous enough, libertarians argue the regulations cause black market activity, which in turn breeds violence. According to the article, “police and prosecutors agree that the city’s black market for illegal guns has thrived in no small part because of street gangs and their drug operations.”

To understand the nature of prohibition we can look at the market for illegal substances, where much study has been completed. Heroin is a perfect example. Though it is illegal to use, possess, manufacture, and sell, our country is experiencing an epidemic. The same is happening with other drugs such as methamphetamines and cocaine. In fact, politicsmadepublic.com reported that the illegal drug trade is one of the most profitable markets in the economy.

Alcohol prohibition in the early 20th century didn’t work either. Bathtub gin, speakeasies, rum runners, and the like managed to maneuver around the law. The black market in alcohol created the environment for organized crime to flourish, offering those willing to take the risk an opportunity to provide that service/commodity anyway. If not for alcohol prohibition, organized crime would have never existed in the capacity it did.

Promoters of gun control may point to a recent review of multiple studies that have shown regulations actually do lower homicide rates. However, the findings “were observational, which meant that researchers couldn’t control for variables. That’s a problem… Failing to control for variables in any social study is huge when we consider the complexities of human society. The article also mentions bias within the team, though they do believe it was not shown in the results.

The real debate is control vs freedom. Permitting incremental losses in freedom for the illusion of gains in security is the path to serfdom. If we allow the government to violate the bill of rights, sooner or later freedom of speech will be legislated against…. oh wait, it already is.

100% freedom is preferable. passing legislation to control people shifts the focus from individual growth to political control. Rather than getting at the roots of violence, we try to manage the symptoms, ironically, using violence.

Laws are only necessary when there are victims; i.e. murder, rape, theft, kidnapping, assault, etc. Passing legislation which is designed to control our behavior violates of our liberty, and arguably the Ninth Amendment. Crime can only exist when someone can claim victimhood. Anything else is just a matter of personal opinion and moral values.

Should negligent behavior be legislated? No. Should negligent behavior that results in someone/thing being victimized be legislated? Could negligence increase the punishment for a crime? Most certainly, because there is a victim. But when we use the law to force people to abstain from doing things that don’t directly threaten us or our rights, we become the criminals.

 

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It Is A Privilege

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Kris Morgan

President Trump signaled his intention to stop allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the military. He transmitted the following in a series of tweets:

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

This decision can be seen in multiple ways, most obvious as being a step back for LGBTQ rights, as service to country is once again being blocked. Another way of viewing this decision is that it is nothing more than a calculated move to make the military more efficient and focused, taking the president at his word. Hardly anyone questions whether joining the military is a right.  That is where libertarian philosophy comes into play.

If our military were strictly restrained to national defense, there would be no reason to refuse transgenders from serving. However, that is not how things are. Ever since Saddam Hussein first attempted to annex Kuwait back in the early 1990’s, the United States military has been involved heavily in the Middle East. They’ve done everything from invading Iraq (twice) to laying sanctions and establishing no fly zones. The conflict has spread to Syria, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan.

Major conflicts going on today began as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people. Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001 when US forces hunted down Osama Bin Laden. Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003 when President Bush’s administration couldn’t decide if Hussein possessed WMDs, was a party to the 9/11 attacks, or both (neither turned out to be true). The result of these operations has been a refugee crisis, the destabilization of the Middle East, the creation of ISIS, and the US desperately trying to restore stability.  

To get an understanding of the legacy the US is leaving in Iraq, it’s important to review key pieces of information. First, in the 1990s the UN estimated that 500,000 children died as a result of US sanctions. The finding was one of the motivators behind the 9/11 attack. To be fair, that number is in dispute. However, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright took credit for it when she told 60 Minutes that price was worth controlling Saddam.

On another point we turn our attention to Fallujah. Due to heavy bombings from US forces and their allies in the current occupation, Fallujah has experienced “the highest rate of genetics damage in any population ever studied”, according to Dr. Chris Busby who authored and co-authored several studies on the Fallujah Health Crisis. It is clear that the United States is the aggressor nation in modern conflicts in the Middle East.

The goal is to wage a war against terrorism. This is a crusade that will likely go on until the American economy completely collapses and the war effort can no longer be funded. The more we press on against countries and populations who have never harmed us, the more terrorists we will create. The more terrorists we create, the more fuel our politicians have to justify their actions.  It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Though a judge has recently blocked the ban, there is no right to join an organization that bombs and occupies other parts of the world. It makes no difference if you’re part of the LGBTQ community. To join the military, wage aggressive war while radiating populations, killing and displacing civilians, creating the very problems it is allegedly solving, and not come under formal charges is a legally created exemption. There is a world of difference between legal immunity and culturally created incentives, and human rights under natural law.

If President Trump wants to sort out this problem, our military has to be one that is strictly used to defend the United States. This would mean ending the operations in the Middle East, bringing our troops home, and giving the power to declare war back to Congress. Congress has not declared war since June 4, 1942. Until a formal constitutional amendment is passed altering the powers of Congress and the Presidency, anything which empowers the executive with the ability to start war is an act of treason.  

The transgender question cannot be properly resolved until we correct the issues with American Foreign Policy.

 

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Taxation is Theft

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Kris Morgan 10/23/17

“Taxation is Theft” captures the essence of libertarian political philosophy more accurately than any other phrase.  Libertarians believe that basic moral rules should apply to our rulers to the same degree they do private citizens.  In the case of taxation, we maintain that since the threat of force is a key feature, it is a form of theft.  Skeptics of this conclusion have several arguments that seem plausible on the surface, but we quickly see that on the fundamental level libertarians are correct.

The easiest argument to dispose of is the belief that since governments provide services, taxation is just.  One example is charity.  Most of us have room in our hearts to help those in need.  Nevertheless, that does not justify forcing us to fund the welfare state through progressive taxation.  Wanting to be charitable is not the same was wanting the government to take our money through the threat of imprisonment and distribute it as they see fit.  The same logic holds true for all government services. Demand for a good is not a license for a third party to coerce you into giving them money to provide it.  There are other objections that require more attention.

Philip Goff, writing for taxjustice.net, believes there is no moral nor legal right to our income.  The legality of taxation is a matter of fact and law, nothing more.  The moral question is what interests us.  He wrote “there is no justice in the fact that the pre-tax income of a city banker is many hundreds of times the pre-tax income of scientists working on a cure for cancer.”  This is a statement about human preferences and the organization of our financial system, but it is not a comment on the use of force to extract money from people.  Mr. Goff is little more than a tax apologist, using human imperfection to justify coercion.

Robert Nielson at whistlinginthewind.org took the approach of comparing taxation to rent.  “The state owns the land and if you want to live on the land you must pay rent. The state is like a shopping centre (or shopping mall for my American readers). If you want to enter it you must agree to abide by its rules.”  The issue with this position is the operant assumption that the state owns the land through honorable means.  Just ownership of property comes about through homesteading, trade, or gift.  This is not how governments acquire property.  They form hierarchies, draw borders, and assume ownership by fiat.  In contrast, shopping malls do not declare ownership of pre-owned property by force, then threaten to lock up people who refuse to pay tribute.  Mr. Nielson’s proposal serves only to remind us that land has been stolen as well.

Scott Tibbs at Conservatibbs.com declared “Government does need to do certain things. The most obvious Biblical reason is to bear the sword against criminals, which requires a criminal justice system complete with lawyers, police and judges and the support staff for all of them. We also need to defend our nation against foreign aggression…”  If protection from those who wish to do us harm is the goal, threatening people with jail time and economic hardship is a contradiction to the stated objective.  We fail before we even begin.  Like the others above, Mr. Tibbs does not address the act of threatening imprisonment for tax evasion;  he is simply another apologist.  The question is how do we fill the vacuum if we end taxation, not whether taxation is theft.

There are those who believe our consent may be assumed until we decide to leave the country.  This is not true.  Not only is it more patriotic to fight for what’s right, it is inconsistent with justice to demand victims of power leave if they don’t like it. Indeed, if refusing to leave the country is the same as accepting everything our rulers do, there are far fewer tyrants around than it would seem.  Only when dealing with government power do people tell the victims to leave the area if they don’t like the injustices they are suffering.

The fact that taxation is theft is precisely what makes politics so hostile.  The left is usually not interested in funding conservative projects.  The right would prefer not to fund left-wing programs like the welfare state, and the left does not favor our interventionist foreign policy.  Libertarians do not wish to be party to anything outside the confines of security and national-defense.  Both our support for government spending on the things we like and our resistance to it for the things we despise indicate the criminal nature of taxation.  This is why Hans Hermann Hoppe called democracy a soft variant of communism.

Human morality is a universal concept that does not disappear because your organization names itself “The Government.”  Since they are nothing more than groups of people, they should be bound by the same rules as any other group or individual. When governments enforce laws against tax evasion, possessing drug paraphernalia, or any other victimless crime, they are allocating themselves authority which is denied any other group.  This is wrong.

What is most telling when it comes to those who proclaim taxation to be just is their statements only apply to governments.  Defense attorneys would never dream of asserting that a client’s actions were justified because they used the money they stole in a socially beneficial way.  It would be very entertaining to see a criminal in court use social contract theory as a means of defense.  It would be laughable if a suspect seriously suggested they’ve committed no crime because the victim could move to a new neighborhood if they don’t accept being robbed.  

Those wishing to promote the validity of taxation without addressing the well founded threats of imprisonment can be immediately dismissed.  Pointing out services provided, and ignoring the coercion and removal of choice in the matter, is a tactic designed to deflect from the central issues and prey on our shared anxieties about the future.  There are those, such as Mr. Nielson, who intelligently highlight the issue of property ownership.  However, when we look at the full picture, we see such claims are not as well founded as they seem.  If we are honest enough to admit the foul nature of taxation, and follow it up with “you can leave the country”, we consciously choose the side of evil.

There is no doubt taxation is theft.  Not even consent makes it legit, as the compliant individual has no freedom to change their mind and withdraw their money.  If we are to have any chance at real justice, liberty, peace, and a truly civil society, admitting taxation is theft and either limiting it to what’s needed to sustain a secure state and/or eventually eliminating it entirely would be a fantastic step.  We would all be much more open to each other’s thoughts and feelings if the constant threat of government power was removed from the equation.
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The Quest For Moral Superiority

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Kris Morgan  September 17, 2017

Liberals believe in big government at home, whereas conservatives support an interventionist foreign policy.  The two combined have given us a welfare/warfare state that cannot last.  The United States has accumulated over 20 trillion dollars in debt, over 127 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, killed innocent people abroad, and jailed millions of peaceful people.  In spite of this, the Federal Government shows no signs of slowing down.  How is it that the “freest nation in the world” manages to imprison more of its citizens than North Korea, a communist dictatorship?  Ironically, these evils exist because our debates revolve around attempts at gaining the moral upper-hand rather than an unhindered search for truth.

Since politics is always a question of when it becomes morally acceptable to use force, our views reflect our sense of justice.  We assume ourselves good and just upon entering political debates.  As a result, we define opposing ideas as unjust.  Any admission on our part that our beliefs are flawed inherently implies the other person is more just and morally superior.  These biases cause our conversations to get out of hand.

For example, many believe that the United States did not provoke Osama Bin Laden to carry out the 9/11 attacks.  Some lash out when presented with a review of US interventions in the Middle East, including sanctions in the 1990s that lead to half-a-million children dying, and our Secretary of State affirming their deaths were acceptable.  They often label the messenger as part of the “blame-America-first” crowd and ignore the facts.

Conservatives who push for interventionism abroad are frequently combative to those who highlight US aggression.  They dismiss the opposition with cliches about how the world is an unfriendly place, or claim the dissenter hates America. Admitting the US is a hostile nation contradicts their view that America is the greatest country on the planet.  To backtrack on that base belief would make them appear weak and discredit their moral authority, so they often react with a critique of their own without acknowledging yours.  This method is not restricted to conservatives.

Liberals voice support for civil liberties, yet favor central economic controls.  When an opponent points out that economic controls are violations of our freedom, they claim their foe is uncaring to those in need.  Their inconsistency goes unrecognized as they focus on attacking their opponents.  It is easier to blindly accuse adversaries of being sexists, racists, or wanting the needy to starve than face their contradiction.

Democrats and Republicans alike listen to their own bases.  If their supporters are not willing to admit discrepancies in their platforms, then politicians will continue to roam free.  The welfare/warfare state will endure until there is no wealth left to tax and the currency hyper-inflates.  Making excuses, creating strawmen, deflecting legitimate critiques, and ignoring new information has allowed our government to grow completely out of control. It is an unsustainable model for political discourse.

One can argue that libertarians are not exempt from taking part in this manner of conversation, and there may be some valid critiques.  However, libertarians have a ‘north star’ with which to follow.  While Republicans and Democrats have only their own sense of moral superiority to guide them, libertarians have the Non-Aggression Principle. This keeps our personal virtues away from our politics.  For instance, a libertarian may wish for society to build a sound safety net.  Nevertheless, progressive taxation is the initiation of force and is accordingly rejected by libertarians.  Libertarians do not use morality to justify coercion.

We are being taken advantage of by a system that knows people have a desire to appear morally strong, so much so that they will defend politicians in order to protect themselves.  The best way to smash this system is to set aside our own egos, admit when we are wrong, develop consistent ideologies, and hold our rulers accountable. We have to make this change if we are ever going to claim our rightful place as the dominant party in our relationship with our power structure.

 

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Actions Speak Louder Than Infighting

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6681E997-D2F6-4E27-B1FB-312679C17C53

Jared Miller, October 3, 2017

It’s like clockwork. Big news stories dominate the political sphere, and infighting gets quieter. We unite against our common enemy, whatever that happens to be at the time, and most of the petty squabbles we use to entertain ourselves fade. Then we enter a slow news cycle, and it’s back to bickering! Without a common cause to unite us, our minor differences rush back to the surface.

What I love about libertarianism is that dissent against popular opinion is not only allowed, it is practically expected. So much so that it almost feels like a prerequisite to joining the party. When an idea or policy contradicts our hard earned sense of what is right, we take it as a matter of integrity to confront it head on.

This is true whether it comes from within our movement or without. We seem to be the only political party in America with a sound and consistent theory of government, and whose core principles are strong enough to allow for this level of internal debate. Our ability to think critically and disagree with one another is a feature of libertarianism, not a flaw. However, we have to keep the 20% of the time when we do not agree from overcoming the 80% when we do.

When we are able to do that, and work side by side with other libertarians, the friction virtually disappears. With a few very high profile exceptions, it’s amazing how seldom the people who are doing the work argue about trivial nonsense. Action helps us realize that any progress we achieve is a chance to move closer to freedom. Though our desire for ideological purity doesn’t disappear in that climate, it does become less important than the work we need to accomplish together.

Unfortunately, most libertarians would rather waste that potential raging against one another. They hide behind social media’s relative anonymity and lack of potential for physical injury to throw cheap shots at their allies. It’s almost as if internet comment sections are really poor places for constructive dialogue.

It makes sense that libertarians like to live online because, for many of us, it’s the only place to find like minded people. In our everyday lives we have no outlet to discuss the things we’ve read, or the conclusions we’ve worked so hard to develop. The freedom movement could never have achieved the success it has without our ability to grow together in the virtual world.

Even now, tons of activists and volunteers are using those communities to grow our movement. They volunteer their time and energy to things like networking, education, multimedia, and so on, which are just as meaningful as the contributions of activists outside of the internet. But that cannot be our only platform. We do not have to abandon our online communities to admit that it is time to start pounding pavement.

There is a legitimate fear that the desire to prove our purity may betray our true opinion of liberty: that it is somehow an unattainable dream. This may be why many libertarians treat liberty like a purely intellectual exercise. Their behavior suggests the belief that since we’ll never make any progress, all we can hope for is to be the most right, and the most pure, while otherwise going about our lives. It’s as if they feel like there is nothing we can do to actually change things. Yet we absolutely can, and we have to start trying. Today. Admitting that debate is valuable doesn’t negate the fact that spending all of our effort arguing about philosophy is a waste of time and energy we cannot afford.

Our emphasis has to shift no matter how each of us decides to act. If we truly desire liberty, we have to start being bold. We have to start working for the revolution we want to see. We have to believe that we can and will change things. Most importantly, we have to just… start.

Liberty is not an impractical pipe dream. It is not some theoretical utopia. It’s uncomfortable. It’s hard. It’s dangerous. And it’s worth it.

—————-

 

Author’s note:

Our need for action doesn’t require everyone to live off the grid or run for office. There are plenty of ways for you to push for a more free society. One of the best places to start is locally. Local parties are the most important unit of political influence we have. This is where we have the greatest chance of winning elections while building a reputation for integrity and freedom-oriented leadership.

Whether local or not, you could offer a small portion of your time to a Libertarian candidate. Candidates always need help. Any of them could offer some task to help drive their campaign. DON’T FORGET TO DONATE. Campaigns are expensive, and libertarians don’t usually have the deep-pocketed backers that the major candidates do. Any amount of money you can pledge to any candidate is welcome, and greatly needed.

Or, if you don’t want to be involved with the official Libertarian party, you could track down a few ballot initiatives or state level issues and annoy your state representatives. (There’s even an app for that.) Maybe you could stage a pro-liberty demonstration, or simply find your own way to start conversations which educate people on the principles of a libertarianism. Another option would be working with a community non-profit, or contributing directly to sites like gofundme, to show people Libertarians are serious about citizens helping each other.

If you don’t have the time to volunteer right now, there are some great organizations where you can donate money. To name a few:

The Cato Institute
The Institute for Justice
Reason Magazine
The Convention of States Project
The Freedom of the Press Foundation
The Drug Policy Alliance
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF)
…and a million others.

Whatever you decide is best, the hardest part is the first step. If you feel like you’re waiting for the right time (which is always), or for life to settle down (it won’t), it’s usually a sign that you are afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Do it anyway. We need you.

 

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