How To Finally End The Culture War

culture

Jacob Chesky, 07/06/2018

Social politics are spiteful.

Almost anyone will admit this about American political discourse, but what’s the solution?

Some use Facebook posts to lament a lack of civility in political discussions. Others might tweet a call to action, encouraging their followers to have genuine conversations with people of opposing beliefs and to learn from them instead of having bitter arguments.

But will these actually solve the problem? Do we just need to try harder and be better in order to discuss social issues in a kinder and more productive manner?

No.

No amount of determination to have a civil attitude will help, because nearly everyone is still approaching the issue from a grossly inappropriate perspective: trying to force others to live according to their own values.

Here are the common positions that are being debated today in American politics:

In general, the left wants to

  • Restrict freedom of speech by censoring “hate speech,” silencing those they believe to have evil views, enforcing particular speech (such as using certain gender pronouns), etc.
  • Restrict “cultural appropriation”
  • Enforce environmental laws of questionable effectiveness on private people and businesses
  • Heavily restrict or eliminate private gun ownership and carry
  • Restrict freedom of association if they feel a “marginalized group” is being discriminated against by private business owners or others
  • Enforce “affirmative action” instead of allowing individual employers to make their hiring decisions freely

In general, the right wants to

  • Enforce particular forms of patriotism
  • Heavily restrict immigration, sometimes to the point of trivializing human rights of non-US citizens
  • Enforce traditional family structure and gender roles
  • Outlaw various forms of sex work
  • Restrict the use of drugs and other substances (although most make exceptions for substances that aren’t as culturally frightening to them, such as alcohol or tobacco)

Both sides usually hold these polar opposite views in good faith, believing that they can fix society if only they could have their way. Unfortunately, if we approach social issues with the idea we can solve them through legislation, we will never be able to have civil discourse with those who disagree.

Why?

Because as soon as anyone senses someone is willing to use the heavy hand of the law to trample their personal freedom and enforce their idea of what’s right, they feel threatened and indignant.

You might expect those who’ve experienced this to learn to respect the liberty of others, yet if the conversation turns to a topic they have strong feelings about, those same people often also reveal a willingness to be the aggressor in this culture war.

Some ask, “If we don’t outlaw or restrict gun ownership, how will we stop gun-related deaths?” Others wonder, “If we allow homosexuals to marry, won’t that threaten traditional family structures and values?” Or, more fundamentally, “If I truly believe in my religion or worldview, shouldn’t I support legislation that will make the law reflect my beliefs?”

These are legitimate questions, but most people respond to these thoughts by calling on the state to enforce their solutions to every social issue. They don’t accept that the world and the people in it are fundamentally flawed and cannot be fixed. The government can’t fix society. Education can’t fix it. As long as humans as we know them continue to exist, so will evil and social disagreements.

So how can we truly solve social issues? Right and wrong do exist. There are correct solutions and incorrect ones. Yet a sin or a social evil is not a crime if it doesn’t specifically harm anyone else’s person or property. Attempting to outlaw every vice will only continue to make the discussion around culture vitriolic and futile.

Perhaps the only solution is to forget about legislating every opinion and belief we hold. We could begin minding our own business and focusing on leading principled lives instead. We could change the conversation around social issues by promoting our most precious and deeply-held values in our own lives and in the conversations we have with our family, friends, and acquaintances.

We could stop slinging insults and threats of legislation toward those we disagree with, then getting angry when they retaliate in kind.

Perhaps one day, we will finally ditch this fruitless culture war in favor of a worthwhile ongoing discussion.

 

 

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Kneeling, Patriotism, And The Constitution

kneeling

Kris Morgan 5/27/2018

Ever since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner, the NFL has been rife with controversy. First, the players who have joined him are seen as being disrespectful to our country and the military. Second, the NFL’s recent move to fine players for doing so is viewed as an infringement on their freedom of speech. As we shall see, those holding these beliefs are wrong on both counts.

Let’s examine the claim that kneeling is disrespectful to the military. What’s interesting about this charge is that it does not come from kneeling players. It comes from politicians like President Trump, and others who feel it prudent to listen to him, rather than to the players themselves. So what did Kaepernick say was the motivation? “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Not only did his message have nothing to do with the military, but according to Sports Illustrated a Green Beret was in contact with Kaepernick discussing a way to get his message across without disrespecting the flag, the troops, or the country. The football sensation originally sat down on the bench during national anthem, until informed by Nate Boyer kneeling would be more respectful. While it’s true Mr. Boyer received some criticism from his peers in Special Forces, others have also praised his view. Whatever the case, what matters here is intention more than accuracy. While we can disagree on whether kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner is disrespectful, it is a mistake to believe it is the intention.

Now, let’s suppose you don’t care about intentions and find the act of kneeling disgraceful. Of course, you have the right to refuse to purchase tickets to NFL productions, to change the channel when a game comes on, or make any other changes in your life that you see fit. But what does the First Amendment say about it?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Clearly, Congress cannot make a law punishing players for kneeling. But contrary to popular misconceptions, the NFL can punish players for damaging their reputation. Under natural law and under our constitution, every person has an equal right to free speech. If a player can say ‘I choose to kneel in protest at this time’, there is no reason their employer cannot say “I refuse to associate with this person’ or ‘I don’t like them, but I also need them to have a football league. Maybe I can discourage their behavior with a fine.’ (assuming it is not addressed with in player contracts)

Both acts are expressions of ideas that deserve equal protection. The NFL is not infringing on free speech by determining the conditions upon which they will interact with others; everyone in the world does this every day. However, there is an issue related to free speech that desperately needs to be highlighted.

The Huffington Post reported: “The Department of Defense doled out as much as $6.8 million in taxpayer money to professional sports teams to honor the military at games and events over the past four years, an amount it has ‘downplayed’ amid scrutiny, a report unveiled by two Senate Republicans on Wednesday found.” There is no question this is a free-speech issue. Unlike the situation involving the players and the NFL, in this case law is being used. Tax law. Where we put our money is symbolic of the things we like, including ideas. But don’t take my word for it. The Supreme Court had a similar position when answering the question of campaign finance.

In 2002 the Supreme Court ruled that limitations on campaign finance violate free speech. According to csmonitor.com, those opposed to regulating the funding of campaigns argued that “corporations should enjoy a First Amendment right to spend money and advocate political and policy positions during election seasons just as individuals can.” If blocking corporations from spending their money in a way they see fit is a violation, then we must also conclude collecting tax payer dollars to finance the advancement of any idea, such as taking a pro-military stance, is as well. Those saying we should boycott the NFL (such as President Trump) over kneeling players have to choose between accepting this position or admitting their priorities place personal bias over justice.

At this point, you may be thinking, ‘but I do support the military, so it’s not something I have a problem with.’ Whether the Armed Forces are a force for good or evil is debatable. The questions you should be asking yourself here are, ‘how would I react to my money being taken from me to push ideas I disagree with? Whether I personally support the message or not, is using other people’s money against their will to advance causes they despise an honorable and just thing to do? Is the fact that I agree with the message even relevant?

 

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Mises vs. Hobbes: Fortnite Edition

miseshobbes

Kris Morgan 5/17/2018

For those of you who don’t play video games, Fortnite is is the hottest game around. In fact, Forbes reported in October 2017 that it “may have hit the 10 million player mark faster than any other game in history, thanks to its inclusion of Battle Royale.” Battle Royale is a player-vs-player mode in which 100 gamers battle each other. Once connected to a server, players parachute onto a map and search for guns, shields, building materials, and other items and attempt to eliminate each other. If you would like a visual, click here to see gameplay. Aside from being an incredibly successful and fun activity, it is also an excellent portrayal of Thomas Hobbes’s perception of humanity without governments.

Hobbes believed if left alone, human beings would be in a never-ending state of war with each other. Life would be short — full of conflict and chaos. This belief lead him to support the absolute monarchy form of government. Stanford.edu informs us that “his main concern was to argue that effective government—whatever its form—must have absolute authority. Its powers must be neither divided nor limited.”

Fortnite involves constant competition for resources, always looking over one’s shoulder for enemies, and rarely sitting in one place longer than a few seconds. There is no time to mourn the loss of dead teammates if you are playing on team mode. Others will not hesitate to kill you and loot your inventory if you drop your guard. But Fortnite and Hobbes both make the same common mistake so many others fall prey to. They have chosen a single characteristic of humanity and used it to define the entire species. People are extremely dynamic and infinitely complex; labeling our species with a single trait is extremely narrow and leads to mistakes. Ludwig Von Mises articulated this point in his world-renowned work Human Action.

In his Treatise on Austrian Economics, Mises created a systematic approach to economic analyses based on the axiom of action. Stated simply, any time a person acts, they do so because they are trying to remove some uneasiness. He wrote, “His mind imagines conditions which suit him better, and his action aims at bringing about this desired state. The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness. A man perfectly content with the state of his affairs would have no incentive to change things.”

Unlike Hobbes, Mises never claimed to know the exact outcome of unmitigated actions. In the era of specialization, it’s easy to conclude him a simpleton and Hobbes brilliant as a result. However, as we shall see, leaving the possibilities open was much wiser than the notion humanity can be accurately portrayed in a narrow lite.

What Thomas Hobbes refused to recognize is that cooperation is another tool for gaining resources, which left no room in his framework for a marketplace. We can forgive the programmers of Fortnite for that omission since its purpose is merely to entertain. As for Thomas Hobbes, being born in 1588 relieves fault for not witnessing the Industrial Revolution work to build wealth, shred infant mortality rates, and build a middle class with a quality of life he could not have dreamed. Those alive today who subscribe to the Hobbesian view have no excuse for overlooking the positive effects of a liberalized economy.

The consequences of allowing personalities like Mr. Hobbes’s influence us are in motion today. The idea of liberty can be very frightening to someone who believes humanity without rulers would be violent and chaotic. However, we can’t forget that for a government to be formed in the first place, the population must want peace more than conflict. If those two things are true, freedom is not something to be afraid of.

In fact, a Misesian would argue that since the people form the government, and they do so because they value peace and eschew friction, it is the idea of conflict that makes people tense. Forming a state is just one approach to resolving that issue. Without one, or under one with limited powers, the population would find alternate means to live in harmony.

For too long, on too many issues, our population, out of fear, has been making decisions on that diminish our basic freedoms indefinitely. The media makes money off showing us all how dangerous it is out there, how there are criminals lurking at every corner, but when we look at our day-to-day life, the peace vastly outweighs the conflict. We have more wealth in the modern era than any other time in history, and it takes cooperation to build it. We need more Misesians and less Hobbesians.

 

 

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Four Dead In Ohio

Kent State Shooting

By Jennifer Flower  4/23/2018

Imagine being a college student and seeing your sibling, high school classmates, or even acquaintances drafted into military service without any say in the matter. Imagine being worried you could be drafted into a war overseas you didn’t understand the reasons for fighting. Imagine then 1,000 National Guard Troops descending on your campus. It seems far-fetched today, but in reality, we are still debating, discussing and protesting many of the same issues that came to a head 48 years ago today.

A group of students were protesting the Vietnam War spreading into Cambodia. The students and police had increasing confrontations, with the police accusing some students of throwing things at them. The Ohio National Guard was called in on May 2nd. The confrontations escalated over the next two days, culminating in the tragic death of several students.

In the days leading up to the Kent State Massacre, there was vandalism in downtown Kent, Ohio. Police officers claimed to have been hit by bottles thrown by protesters. Bars had to close early and a curfew was imposed on the residents. The Kent State ROTC Building was also burned down. No one to this day knows with certainty who started the fire, but it is now believed to have been a group of radical protesters who were not students.

Governor Rhodes further inflamed tensions by calling the protesting students “the worst type of people that we harbor in America.” A group of fully equipped National Guard members using tear gas and bayonets eventually opened fire on a crowd of students. Four students were killed and nine were injured. Two of the murdered students, not even involved in the protests, were simply walking to class.

The father of one of the victims on the day after the shooting said “Is dissent a crime? Have we come to such a state in the country that a young girl has to be shot because she disagrees deeply with the actions of her government?”

No accounts indicate that the students committed violence against any person. However, It does appear that the student protesters initiated force through vandalism, violating the Non-Aggression Principle. The perpetrators should have been held responsible for the damaged property.

This option of obtaining restitution from the protesters, however, was taken off the table the moment the National Guard began firing on unarmed students. During the protests, there were up to 3,000 protesters and approximately 1,000 Guardsmen on and around Kent State University. But it’s unclear how many active protesters there were at the time of the incident, as there were students and onlookers walking around campus and simply walking to classes. There were 77 Guardsmen. 28 fired upon the crowd, shooting 70 rounds over a 13 second period.

Freedom of assembly and speech are what Libertarian theory consider Natural Rights and they are protected in the First Amendment to the Constitution. The students absolutely had a right to protest the Vietnam War and to peacefully assemble to demand their voices be heard. They did not have the right to commit vandalism.

The National Guard escalated the confrontations all the way up to shooting indiscriminately into a crowd of students. There is no justification for that and indeed the shooting did not make students at other universities around the country think twice about protesting the war. It only served to escalate and inflame the already heightened tensions of protests around the country.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. We still have tensions on college campuses as to the direction of free speech on campus. Should students be required to stay within “free speech” zones on campuses? If they’re on the grounds of a public university, should students be free to openly exercise their first amendment rights of assembly and speech without interference since it should be considered public land?

President Trump announced that the US military was bombing Syria in retaliation to an alleged chemical weapons attack on Syrian Civilians and the US Military recently killed “a couple hundred” Russians in Syria in February of 2018; which could have spiraled out of control almost instantly. Increased outcry against escalating military intervention has been seen from all ends of the political spectrum.

Those who don’t gain the wisdom of the past will repeat its mistakes. It’s ok if we, as a society, are still figuring out how to handle freedom of speech on college campuses. It’s ok to discuss exactly what that “red line” is that would require US intervention overseas. Any time we have the opportunity to learn from our past, we should strive to. It is how we will progress as a society. It should be clear that the Libertarian standard is to wage peace and speak freely, even the most unpopular opinions.

Tin Soldiers and Nixon coming
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio
– Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

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Why Blame The Police For Doing Their Job?

420

Jared Miller, 4/20/18

“Sin, regardless of how someone may define it, it is not a crime. Creating a victim, regardless if it is a sin, is a crime”.    – Larry Sharpe

For many, today is an excuse to smoke weed and pretend to be edgy. For others, it is an act of civil disobedience intended to highlight the absurdity of cannabis prohibition. Others like me, who don’t personally smoke, still share a sense of excitement about eventually winning back some measure of self determination in this area. But we still have a long way to go before we can say we’ve overcome the mentality that enables prohibition in the first place.

I recently made a snarky comment on a post from a police department criticizing the bust of a huge marijuana grow operation in Cleveland, Ohio. I was poking fun at the idea that these officers were keeping our children safe.

Someone I respect very deeply took issue with it, taking the all too common stance that one should fight the law and leave the police alone. “They are just good men doing their jobs. They don’t get to decide which laws to enforce.” I understand where he’s coming from, because I used to share that sentiment. On the surface it seems like the only respectable position. But it is wrong.

First, they do decide which laws to enforce. Police departments decide how to spend their resources. They decide what leads to follow and where officers patrol. Officers decide in the field, for example at a traffic stop, whether to let it slide or find every possible violation. They choose every day and in every situation which laws are important and which laws are not — which laws are worth enforcing and which laws are garbage.

Either they can “just do their job” as stalwart defenders of the law no matter what, or they can admit that they are intentional about which cases are worth pursuing. They shouldn’t get to hide behind their job to justify their actions in one situation, and opt to let someone off the hook in another. They always choose. And that can be a good thing. But when it comes to drug law, they generally choose poorly.

Often, the law was drafted with a specific moral goal in mind. So sometimes the officer is forced to make his choice either based on his moral code, or contradictory to it. In the latter case, he can compartmentalize his guilt by “just following orders.” At that moment, justice is no longer the goal, and the officer shows that he can be made capable, as we all can, of almost any action the ruling body sees fit to carry out. The inescapable conclusion is that morality is not just a poor basis for the formation of law. As a legal standard, it lays the foundation for all manner of injustice. When morality is the goal, anything can be justified.

What else is there? That’s a longer answer… but I’ll try to keep it short. Law exists to reduce or eliminate the ability of one person or group to do direct, intentional harm to another person or group. That’s all.

A law that causes more harm than it prevents stands in direct opposition to its proper role, and should be fought. If the person enforcing it is the one who causes the harm, then law enforcement should also be held accountable.

If an officer’s actions cause direct harm because he’s “just following orders,” he’s not more virtuous than a mafia thug that whacks a guy because it’s “just business.” In that case he just works for a more socially acceptable gang.

So what harm can an officer do in the course of “just doing his job?” The immediate effect is the most obvious. Individuals who have harmed literally no one by cultivating what should be an agricultural product are now felons. For the rest of their lives, they can’t vote, can’t own a gun, can’t find the meaningful employment that might help them live a life outside of “crime,” and will likely be imprisoned at the cost of the taxpayer for something that has not harmed anyone.

You might say the growers knew the risks when they started, and fair enough. But every one of those risks has nothing to do with the product itself, or the manufacture, sale, and use of the product. Every ounce of harm done by growing marijuana is done by enforcing a bad law.

And what about the extended effects? Instead of having legitimate, legal businesses, it has to be done on the black market. The number one cash crop of every drug cartel and street gang is marijuana. If you are concerned with fighting organized crime, the very first step is to cut off their income. In this case, that means fighting this terrible, destructive law.

That is to say nothing of the people actually using marijuana who are now criminals also. Before you say, “it’s not the same thing,“ prohibition requires that the user be punished at the same time as the producer. It’s all just different pieces of the same pie.

This is not meant to be anti-cop. I’m certain these cops aren’t bad men. They don’t have to be. History is littered with good men doing terrible things to others because “it’s the law.“  That is the real crime. Remaining complicit in that is what allows it to continue. It is absolutely right to say that the problem begins with the law forcing the cop into a false dichotomy between causing harm and potentially losing his livelihood.

Which is why sometimes both fighting a bad law and drawing attention to its enforcement are necessary. If you don’t believe that, I’ll assume you never go above 55 on the highway, or that you’d never oppose a cop enforcing any law, no matter how tyrannical. Where would you draw the line? If we have determined that a law is wrong, is the enforcement thereof not also wrong? With so many states taking a stand against federal marijuana law, and a majority of US citizens believing the law to be unjust, there has never been a better time for police officers and local departments to choose to devote their resources elsewhere.

 

 

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Who Are The Cronies Part I: War

cronyism-out-of-control

Kris Morgan 2/5/2018

Crony capitalism is a catchphrase that crosses all political ideologies. In libertarian circles, one is also exposed to sophisticated sounding jargon like military-industrial complex. Unfortunately the specifics are rarely discussed. Who are these crony capitalists who align themselves with big government to benefit at the expense of the rest of the population? Since we have been at endless war since 2001, the logical place to start is with military suppliers.

According to USA Today, the ten companies which profit the most from war are: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Bae Systems, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, EADS, Finmeccanica, L-3 Communications, and United Technologies. A profile of the top five CEOs is in order.

 

Marillyn Hewson

hewson

Marillyn Hewson became CEO of Lockheed Martin in 2013. According to bizjournals.com she made $25.13million in spite of having a base pay of $1.34 million. “The company bases its CEO’s final salary mostly on meeting long-term goals, and 73 percent of her target salary comes from long-term incentives. Annual incentives are 17 percent of her salary. Her base salary is 10 percent of her pay. Salon.com reported in 2016 Lockheed Martin “received a generous $220 million gift from Connecticut taxpayers to keep its Sikorsky Aircraft division in the city of Stratford.”

Hewson by the numbers:

Base salary: $1.34 million

Stock awards: $8.16 million

Incentive Plan compensation: $5.98 million

Pension earnings: $9.41 million

Other compensation: $238,150

Total: $25.16 million

 

Dennis Muilenburg

Muilenburg

Dennis Muilenburg became CEO of Boeing in 2015 and acquired a base pay of $1.6 million. Boeing makes military aircrafts, including B-52 bombers, F-15 Eagles, H-47 Chinooks, and more, according to their webpage. On top of his base pay he could earn an Annual incentive award of $2.72 million and 18,709 Stock units when he takes over. Subsidy Tracker noted that from 2000 to present, Boeing has received $14,444,913,320 in subsidies awarded.

 

Phebe Novakovic

Novakovic

Phebe Novakovic is the chief executive at General Dynamics (GD). GD is involved in aviation, land vehicles, marine systems and more. Novakovic has been CEO since 2013 with a higher base salary than Hewson, at $1.5 million. She was able to secure an additional $4 million in bonuses and other long-term compensation which was difficult to quantify. Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 to present, GD received $466,504,107 in awarded subsidies.

 

Thomas A. Kennedy

RAYTHEON THOMAS KENNEDY

Thomas A. Kennedy is in charge at Raytheon. According to Raytheon.com, they provide goods in missile defense, command and control, sensors and imaging, electronic warfare, and precision weapons. Salary.com reported in 2017 Kennedy earned $13,772,854 in base pay, bonuses, and stock awards. Raytheon has received $256,502,031 in subsidies awarded from FY 2000 to present.

 

Wes Bush

Bush

Wes Bush (no relation to the two former U.S. Presidents) has been the big boss at Northrop Grumman since 2010. The company makes B-2 Spirits, B-21 Raiders, and X-47B strikers on top of other products. Bush was able to make over $16 million in 2016, with a $1.53 million base pay, while acting as CEO, Chairman, and President. Northrop Grumman received $1,079,415,526 in subsidies from FY 2000 to present.

As I write this article, I’ve also set aside the time to read Scott Horton’s brilliant book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. I leave the reader to ponder the following quote:

“…then came legions of New York and Washington, D.C. based pressure groups subsidized by America tax dollars that had been laundered through defense firms like Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. These companies recycle a small fraction of the money they make from weapons contracts in the form of donations to think tanks and institutions of ‘experts’ from the ‘foreign policy community,’ who write up endless ‘studies,’ rationalizations and justifications for staying the course in the War on Terror.”

 

Part II                                                           Part III                                                       Part IV

 

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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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The End of History

history

Kris Morgan 1/15/2018

As a means of making decisions that affect our future, specifically in the realm of politics, the internet has all but ruined the use of pure history. With historical  facts readily available, and the ease of publishing, we are all free to post our own takes on causal relationships. We have an unlimited number of ways to analyze events, but few sound means to test our hypotheses. The following examples are just a few of many demonstrating how different perspectives on history can distort one’s thinking.

The first is the idea that aliens created mankind. “The Anunnaki are also one of the MOST controversial subjects among many people around the globe. Millions of people around the world believe the Ancient Anunnaki are the creators of man and are not mythological beings but in fact flesh and blood ‘gods’ who came to Earth in the distant past.”

People are clearly open to believing extraordinary conclusions. This example  may not carry much weight politically, but others do. Suppose there are many among us who believe the following:

David Robinson wrote an article titled America is still a British Colony Under The Roman Empire.  Within it he used historical information to support the notion that the United States is not an independent nation. He even cites the 1783 Paris Peace Treaty when he states, “this treaty identifies the King of England as the prince of the United States, contradicting the belief that America won the War of Independence.”  The article continues on to the War of 1812, and later points out that the Federal Reserve is a government created yet privately-owned central bank, owned by the (London branch) House of Rothschild.

This is very different from the belief that the United States is a sovereign country. Whatever you think, the point is we have a number of interpretations of the same historical events.  Also, consider that which version of history we accept could alter the way we vote.

The above examples are obviously far outside of what is widely accepted, however, others are more subtle and have a much greater impact on life. It’s difficult to find a historical event with more practical implications than the New Deal; a topic that gets many of us into heated debates.

The causes of, and solutions to the Great Depression are guides for what modern economic policy should be. The problem is that history supports multiple sides of the debate.

According to Joseph Lazzaro at aol.com, “The New Deal increased U.S. GDP and resulted in a substantial decrease in U.S. unemployment, both during its initial phase (1933-37) and after FDR turned back 1937-38 Republican pressure to balance the budget (1939-41). The fiscal stimulus provided by the New Deal worked. That’s the record, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Robert Higgs, on the other hand, concluded the New Deal may have made the depression worse. In an article at mises.org he wrote “…the grand promise of an end to the suffering was never fulfilled. As the state sector drained the private sector, controlling it in alarming detail, the economy continued to wallow in depression.”

Imagine two people, each reading their own versions of history, debating this topic. We experience this daily on social media; each person claiming to have the facts while accusing the other of failing to absorb them. The same situation arises when discussing tax rates.

On April 5th of 2017, Neil Irwin authored a piece for the New York Times in which he offered his opinion regarding tax cuts and their effect on economic growth.  He summarized the work of economists who looked at the history of the United States and other countries by writing “there are countries with high or rising taxes that have strong economic growth and countries with low or falling rates that don’t.”

In 2003, Daniel Mitchell reviewed decades of tax reduction and opened his report with the following:

“There is a distinct pattern throughout American history: When tax rates are reduced, the economy’s growth rate improves and living standards increase. Good tax policy has a number of interesting side effects. For instance, history tells us that tax revenues grow and “rich” taxpayers pay more tax when marginal tax rates are slashed. This means lower income citizens bear a lower share of the tax burden – a consequence that should lead class-warfare politicians to support lower tax rates.  Conversely, periods of higher tax rates are associated with sub par economic performance and stagnant tax revenues.”

Again, different articles, different experts, different conclusions, same topic. Most people have neither the time nor interest to take up studying economics and political science. If they did, they’d soon discover there is no consensus among the experts. With competing versions of history and differing views on economic and political theory, how do we decide what to do?

In situations where the correct choice is not crystal clear, I invite all readers to consider applying the Non Aggression Principle (NAP). For libertarians the NAP is appropriate for all circumstances. It does not matter how economically beneficial a proposal seems, the use of force for personal or political gain is immoral.

It is unreasonable to assume students of other political ideologies are willing to hold the NAP in such a high regard. Nevertheless, law is coercion. When private citizens use force against each other, they have to prove their actions were justified to avoid legal issues. For example, shoving someone is assault. However, shoving someone out of the way of traffic could save their life, and is heroic.

Non-libertarians also must justify the power they wish to cede to the government if moral standards are to be universal. We can easily imagine situations where a policeman protects a citizen from an immediate danger. Things get far more questionable when we look at laws criminalizing peaceful behavior in the interest of economic well-being, such as minimum wages. History, unaccompanied by sound theory, does not justify inflating state powers.

 

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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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