Individuals are inherently free to make choices for themselves and must accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices. No individual, group, or government may rightly initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Libertarians reject the notion that groups have inherent rights. We support the rights of the smallest minority, the individual.

 

crimemerced
Advertisements

Libertarians want all members of society to have abundant opportunities to achieve economic success. A free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient manner. Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.

poor don't matter

The Lesser Hell Of Leaving

caravan

Jared Miller  10/26/18

What kind of life would force a family to travel on foot for a distance comparable to that between New York City and Baton Rouge? A trip where women and children have a 60% chance of being raped, and everyone is at risk of kidnapping for ransom, human trafficking, or worse. What kind of hell would you have to be fleeing to justify the lesser hell of such a trek, knowing your chances of success are slim? Imagine living in a situation so bleak that you truly believe subjecting your children to this journey is a better chance at life than staying in your own home.

By the numbers, that is exactly the situation Central American refugees face. Occasionally, enough of them make that decision simultaneously that they form large groups traveling with the same goal. Right now, one of the largest of these groups is headed through Mexico to the US border. At its peak, it numbered around 7,000, but that number has already dropped in half. They weren’t all coming here in the first place.

Mexican authorities say they’ve begun processing asylum requests for more than 2,700 Central Americans who arrived with this caravan. And nearly 500 more Hondurans have voluntarily agreed to return to their home country, Mexican officials said.

That seems to be par for the course, as earlier this year there was a caravan of over 1,500. By the time they got to the border, only about 400 remained intent on entering the United States. If we held the same ratio for this new group, we can expect about 2,400 people to reach our border.

I get why this “migrant caravan” can be scary from one point of view. It may start with refugees, but soon swells with people of many different backgrounds and intentions. It’s only prudent to be prepared at the border, but sending an additional 5,200 troops? Come on, let’s have a bit of perspective here. Ellis Island used to take in over 5,000 immigrants and refugees a day. Our screening process is more rigorous, and is aided with some pretty sophisticated technology. We can handle this.

Not just that, but so far what they’re doing is neither threatening in any military sense nor breaking U.S. immigration law. It is 100% legal to approach the border and request entry or asylum. As long as they don’t try to cross the border illegally or act violently towards us, acting like these people are “invaders” is some serious fear-mongering sensationalism.

They’re not going to overthrow American values or take over our country, either. You had a much better chance of making that claim in the Ellis Island days, but even then it was weak. Right now, the caravan is roughly 3500 people. Even if every one of them enter the country, that’s .001 (one thousandth of one percent!) of our population. It may be tough, but I’m sure we can take the hit.

I don’t know the situation in every country in Central America, obviously, but current events do warrant a look into Honduras. Many migrants have told news outlets they are fleeing poverty and gang violence. It’s not as if they haven’t tried to fix their own country, either. The president they elected to reform their government was overthrown by the military. Their entire system is overrun by corruption and foreign interests.

There’s even strong evidence that our interference helped cause the situation in the first place. Am I trying to blame the US? Not really. But it’s wrong to pretend we had nothing to do with it, and it’s also wrong to act like these people are just a roving band of cowardly miscreants.

We’re spoiled by our bill of rights here — and rightfully so — but things don’t work this way everywhere. There is often no recourse for addressing the kinds of systemic corruption these people are fleeing. Fighting back is not an option because they wouldn’t just be fighting the government. They would also have to worry about the police, cartels, foreign special interests looking to protect their economic gains by enforcing the status quo, and an extreme lack of resources compared to their enemies.

Please don’t let actual humanitarian concerns be devalued into just another election issue. This is neither uncommon nor cause for concern. It’s not an unstoppable hoard of terrorists and criminals on their way here to steal our jobs and take our food stamps. These are real people fleeing from real, existential hell. They’ve chosen the lesser hell of leaving everything they’ve ever known for the chance of something more. We don’t have to agree that they should be allowed into the country, but we should at least be willing to treat them all like humans facing disastrous circumstances.

 

For more content from askalibertarian, follow us on the following platforms:

 

 

 

Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can volunteer on our team.

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.

Not A Joke: How An Academic Hoax Revealed A Scandal In Our Universities

badstudies

A Guest Article by: Roy Meredith  10/16/2018

In our supercharged media environment, events that happened only three weeks ago feel like old news. There’s one story, however, that you shouldn’t let slip past your radar. You may have heard of the major hoax three liberal academics played on multiple widely-respected journals in the humanities and social sciences. The trio – Peter Boghossian, James Lindsay, and Helen Pluckrose – spent a year authoring and submitting twenty fake academic papers to test the rigor of controversial disciplines such as gender studies, race studies, and women’s studies. All their conclusions were purposefully outlandish, flagrantly immoral, or both.  

One of the papers they submitted rewrote passages from Mein Kampf using the terminology of intersectional feminism. Affilia, a social work journal, accepted it. Another suggested that dog humping in public parks was evidence of rape culture, and that men could be trained out of rape just like dogs. Not only did the feminist geography journal Gender, Place & Culture publish it, the reviewers honored the article as an outstanding contribution.  

By far, the most hilarious submission was “Moon Meetings and the Meaning of Sisterhood: A Poetic Portrayal of Lived Feminist Spirituality,” an autoethnography from the perspective of a bitter, recently divorced feminist scholar. Sandwiched between the meandering tangents about menstruation, capitalism, and the potential connections between witchcraft and beer were poems generated by an internet bot. The slapdash prose should have been a dead giveaway, including gems such as, “We aren’t nice women. We’re fierce and free. We’re the witches of brewsters past.” The phony paper took less than six hours to write, but you can probably guess what happened next: The Journal of Poetry Therapy published it without suggesting any revisions.

By the time the Wall Street Journal exposed their project on October 2nd, the trio already managed to have seven of their papers accepted for publication. Seven more were still under consideration. Just six had been rejected.  For context, only two or three peer-reviewed articles over the course of one’s career are necessary to get tenure in many regional universities. That’s a breathtaking success rate for people with no professional background in those fields, and yes, it should worry you.

Lindsay has freely admitted that he and the others reasoned backwards from absurd conclusions, scouring academic literature for work that would buttress their claims while coddling the reviewers’ left-of-fringe political sensibilities. This is the opposite of what we expect from careful scholarship. Within several fields, however, a fashionable idea has taken hold that asperses scientific objectivity as a tool of social oppression.  Don’t just take my word for it. Back in May, the Journal for Cultural Anthropology’s official account tweeted, “good morning. All research is political. Have a great day everyone!” Curricula infused with these ideas are dangerous social experiments, and not the least because a common faith in objective reality enables us to hold those in power accountable.  

As a graduate student of social work, I find this troubling for another reason. Clinical social workers, for example, often partner with clients who suffer from mental illnesses that require evidence-based interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Others work as policy analysts and wield considerable authority in designing welfare programs. Who seriously believes monthly meetings in designated “womb rooms” and praying to Norse goddesses are effective interventions for women in dysfunctional relationships? Poorly-vetted material in our curricula undermines our ability to troubleshoot effectively with our clients and consider the full range of options they have for improving their lives.

I commonly encounter such misinformation at my school. Microaggression theory, for instance, is especially pernicious in its current iteration, because it encourages people to become hypersensitive to perceived slights and read them as signs of unconscious hostility. This behavior, known in clinical literature as mind reading, is widely recognized as a cognitive distortion. Why, then, is it being promoted in social work school? On some campuses, university administrators have even established bias response teams to intimidate the unfortunate faculty members who have the guile to teach engagement with opposing viewpoints.

Liberals of all stripes – especially libertarians – should recognize that such “theories” function primarily as ammunition for stigmatizing dissent. Unfortunately, many have leaked from academia into everyday parlance; it is now impossible to openly discuss topics such as potential links between cultural norms and poverty without giving offense, even though the people who suffer the brunt of these underdiscussed problems are among the most marginalized in society.  

I urge my fellow university students to take notice. Don’t just sit silently in class when you hear unjust or far-fetched ideas among your peers to avoid social ostracization. Remember, too, that as students at American universities, we already enjoy many unique socioeconomic privileges. The most consequential among them is proximity to scholarship that changes lives.  The impulse to protect our own reputations by taking the path of least resistance is understandable, but it is not a moral course of action. The time to speak up is now.

 

For more content from askalibertarian, follow us on the following platforms:

 

 

 

 

Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.

Social Media Censorship; Mainstream Media Lies

smcensorship

By Franc Turner  August 26, 2018

I’d like to preface these next thoughts by saying that I disagree with practically everything that Alex Jones has said in recent years. That said, I’ve heard that the alternative media radio host has been banned from Facebook, YouTube, and Apple all on the same day, within the span of 12 hours. All of his content, thousands upon thousands of videos, podcasts, live streams, etc; all deemed to be “unfit for human consumption” i.e. removed because it might offend a listening ear. In other words, they’re worried about losing ad revenue for their social media outlets.

Again, I’d like to point out that I don’t think Mr. Jones has had anything even remotely enlightening or relevant to say lately. However, the fact that WHAT he says has been “banned” throughout the social media world has set a rather concerning precedent for anyone who doesn’t fit into the cookie-cutter paradigm of “general consensus” concepts, ideas, or expressions. This may have been the purpose of having someone like Jones on the airwaves in the first place. Here’s someone who was completely anti-authoritarian, questioning the motives behind all of those in power, and gradually made to appear crazier and crazier. He ultimately became a caricature of himself, of “conspiracy theorists,” and of alternative media outlets in general; thereby, giving the greenlight to remove any voices who may use these various platforms to go against the grain.

It seems the only outlets allowed to have opinions (political or otherwise) in the 24-hour news-cycle world are Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. Anything else is “fake news” and subject to censorship. If I remember correctly, all three of these organizations were cheerleaders, initially, for the Bush Jr. administration when the War in Iraq was in its infancy. They all willfully parroted the blatant lies of WMD’s that brainwashed the country into believing Iraq was a threat to the United States, and also believing that perpetuating the never-ending War on Terror was a just cause.

During those years, before it became cool to criticise Bush Jr.’s Presidency, Alex Jones was an anti-war/peace activist who called out the Neoconservatives/Republicans with every action they took. This was a time when no one else (at least in the mainstream media) had the balls to do so (with the exception of maybe Jon Stewart). The fact that Jones is now basically a talking-piece for every Neoconservative policy and agenda should, at the very least, make a person wonder why that is.

I personally think that this is all an attempt to take anyone who questions official news and equate them with the likes of Alex Jones or whoever else they choose to censor. It seems as though the goal is to make the idea of questioning the “official” anything, in and of itself, seem “crazy,” “off-hinged,” and “dangerous.”

The reality is the opposite. It’s the “officials” who have done nothing to shed light on all of the government-sanctioned bloodshed and brutality inflicted upon specific geopolitical regions for the past seventeen years, against people and nations who had nothing to do with the events of 9/11. Instead, the “real” news is too concerned with what Stormy Daniels is saying, what Roseanne is saying, what gender Bruce Jenner is, where alt-right vs. antifa fights are breaking out, and what our puppet presidents are tweeting.

While some people may argue that these are private corporations, and they have the “right” to censor whatever they want on their platforms, these same people are also arguing whether or not football players have the right to kneel during the national anthem. And the reason given is, you guessed it, FREE SPEECH; despite the fact that NFL teams are also private organizations. The whole “violating the terms of service” isn’t the issue here. Individuals who are just now being deplatformed are, for the most part, saying the exact same things that they’ve always been saying since the beginning of social media. Yet, they are only now being taken down by popular demand i.e. media hype and taking words out of context to make it all fit a certain narrative. While at the same time, other major organizations are saying/doing very similar things on these platforms and not given the ax. Social Media is cherry-picking who they decide to ban on these forums of apparent “free expression” and the voting population is cherry-picking what constitutes free speech/expression.

The bottom line is: as a society, we either believe in freedom of speech or we don’t. And if you believe that it is ok to censor thoughts and beliefs that you personally don’t agree with, then you are also saying that it is ok for those in power to censor what YOU have to say, simply because they don’t agree with YOU.

Questioning and voicing your opinion, no matter how unpopular your particular views are… is a good thing. Never be afraid to say what you believe, for that fear is the essence of authoritarianism.

 

 

The Confidence Conundrum

Confidence

Kris Morgan 7/11/2018

Libertarians have made much progress advancing the intellectual case for liberty. In economics, Ludwig Von Mises wrote about the economic calculation problems of socialism in 1922, 69 years before the collapse of the Soviet Union. He then went on to write a treatise called Human Action, which provided a step-by-step analysis of how economies grow based on the axiom of action (individuals engage in conscious actions toward chosen goals). In the area of philosophy, Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard contributed with a system of objectivism and the validity of unabated private property, respectively. It seems that reason and evidence are on our side, so what are we missing?

One fact that few discuss is that human decision-making is not entirely based on logical consistency and empiricism, but is heavily rooted in emotion. Jim Camp at Big Think noted the research of neuroscientist Antonio Damasio: “He studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that they seemed normal, except that they were not able to feel emotions. But they all had something peculiar in common: they couldn’t make decisions. They could describe what they should be doing in logical terms, yet they found it very difficult to make even simple decisions, such as what to eat.”

It is common knowledge that our emotional styles are installed during childhood. Is it possible that we are not peaceful in adulthood because our childhoods are full of conflict? Dr. Nadine Burke Harris makes the argument in her book, The Deepest Well: Healing The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, as well as a compelling TED-Talk, about how toxic stress in childhood impacts our lives forever. The information she brings to the table, which is based on the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, suggests what one might expect —that how we are raised shapes who we become. Our hormones, genetic expression, physiology, brain development, and more are dependent on our upbringing and the amount of stress in it. The question is: how does this information explain how society is shaped?

On a recent radio broadcast, the host made a very brief comment about confident people that might point us in the right direction. Self-assured people do not allow others to push them around. In fact, bullies target people who give off subconscious indicators of low self-esteem. After considering our current state of affairs with safe spaces, poor mental health, over-sensitivity, and increases in suicide, I felt it prudent to attempt to pinpoint where we went off course. It seems self-confidence is lacking in our population and PsychologyToday had an interesting piece on the subject.

Jim Taylor, Ph.D. wrote: “Sometime back in the ’70s when the “self-esteem movement” started, a bunch of parenting experts said that raising well-adjusted children is all about self-esteem. And I couldn’t agree more. This is also when America’s self-esteem problem began because parents and other influences on self-esteem (e.g., teachers and coaches) got the wrong messages about self-esteem from those experts. Instead of creating children with true self-esteem, our country has created a generation of children who, for all the appearances of high self-esteem, actually have little regard for themselves (because they have little on which to base their self-esteem). These same experts told parents that they could build their children’s self-esteem by telling them how smart and talented and beautiful and incredible they were (“You’re the best, Johnny!”). In other words, parents were led to believe that they could convince their children how wonderful they were. Unfortunately, life has a way of providing a reality check and children learned the hard way that they weren’t as fabulous as their parents told them they were. Parents were also told to praise and reinforce and reward their children no matter what they did. The result: lower self-esteem and children who were self-centered and spoiled.”

Rather than building up the core of our kids, we have been building hollow shells. Kids are often more intelligent than we give them credit for. In due time, they realize on their own that their parents have been filling them with hot air. Might some believe mom and dad were just being nice and the truth is they’re not capable of anything? While we do see articles such as this one, claiming our kids are “brimming with self-esteem,” we have to keep in mind that overconfidence/arrogance is a symptom of low self-worth.

Fast-forward to 2001, an unstable economy and the attack on 9/11. Our population accepted losses in personal freedom with the Patriot Act, and more economic controls in light of the dot-com bust and the subsequent housing fiasco. A society with a significant amount of people who don’t believe in their own abilities is going to turn to power. It’s clockwork. We all have worries about the future, and in times of emergency we will fall back on our training. Our training has taught us to rely on authority. What was once mom and dad becomes the government in adulthood.

Unfortunately, there are those among us who partially understand this issue with child-rearing but only offer a negative solution. Then President Barack Obama, while addressing the NAACP, asserted “we need to go back to time, back to the day when parents saw somebody, saw some kid foolin’ around and, it wasn’t your child, but they’ll whoop ya anyway.” While Mr. Obama did offer reasonable advice prior to this statement, this invoked a roar in the audience. It is no secret most believe parents are simply too soft on their kids.

The facts disprove this myth. Studies consistently find spanking has negative consequences. Globalnews reported in 2017 that “A recent study out of the University of Manitoba found that spanking had similar outcomes to those experienced through adverse childhood experiences (ACE), including physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and physical and emotional neglect. They found that children who were spanked were more likely to suffer from depressive effects in adulthood, including moderate to heavy drinking and street drug abuse, and especially increased odds of suicide attempts.” We also have to bear in mind that the overwhelming majority of Americans still favor and apply the practice.

This is not to say that all libertarians are confident, nor is it to say all confident people are libertarians. However, it is reasonable to conclude that confidence plays a big role when contemplating ideas. Self-reliance requires faith in one’s abilities. If we cannot trust in ourselves, we may find it difficult to rely on free interactions to solve our most challenging problems.

It’s important to note that from this point of view statism is not the solution to social dysfunction, it is part of it. By being authentic with our kids, and building them up at the core rather than giving them a house of cards to fall back on, we can overcome this gap. The good news is all parents want what is best for their children.

 

For more content from askalibertarian, follow us on the following platforms:

 

 

 

 

Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.

Election Science

electionscience2

Aaron Hamlin, 7/25/2018

Freedom in the US depends heavily on the judgment and integrity of those we elect. But if the ballots we cast are somehow defective, then we could be electing the wrong people. If so, then the freedom we strive for is in serious danger.

Unfortunately, there is ample evidence that the way we cast our ballots is defective. We use a voting method called plurality voting where we choose only one candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins. This seemingly innocuous restriction to pick only one candidate causes us severe problems.

When we lack the freedom to choose all the candidates we might want, bad things happen. For instance, if there are multiple freedom-minded candidates, our support gets divided and quality candidates can lose to an opposing candidate. And if other parts of the electorate share our views but fear that a candidate of higher integrity can’t win, despite bringing good ideas to the table, then that high-integrity candidate may be unfairly marginalized as the electorate votes for second-rate, but more electable, candidates.

The way that this plurality voting system forces us to cast our ballots leaves us vulnerable to vote splitting and the spoiler effect. Independents and parties like the Libertarian Party are forced to drain their precious resources on onerous signature requirements just to get on the ballot (Georgia’s ballot access laws being a prime example).

Of course, here major parties give themselves either a complete pass or much easier signature requirements. Even more, major parties—instead of fixing the problem—have chosen to retaliate against outside competition.

We’d find this unlevel playing field unacceptable in the economic marketplace. So shouldn’t we also find it unacceptable in the political marketplace?

Undoubtedly so.

Fortunately, we can solve this violation of our rights by using a ballot that gives us the freedom to select—not rank—as many candidates as we want. The person who receives the most votes still wins, but more votes are cast. This is called “approval voting,” and it can fundamentally improve our elections.

Studied academically since the late 1970s, the evidence of approval voting’s advantages over our current plurality voting system is overwhelming. One major advantage is that approval voting always lets you vote for your favorite. No matter what. This means that when candidates bring good ideas to the table they get the support they deserve—regardless of their name recognition or perceived viability.

No longer could debate commissions bar competitive independents and third parties. Public scrutiny won’t allow this injustice for candidates who are able to get over 20 or 30% in approval voting polls. Imagine further that the US’s largest third party (the Libertarian Party) is able to win seats in national office and more than the occasional seat in local office. The same is true for liberty or freedom-minded independents.

The merits of approval voting haven’t gone unnoticed in libertarian communities. The straw poll for the Republican Liberty Caucus in 2016 used approval voting. The Texas Libertarian Party not only uses approval voting itself but also explicitly includes approval voting on its official platform. And the National Libertarian Party has been using approval voting to elect its national officers. Even the Western Conservative Summit uses approval voting for its straw polls. The word is catching on to oust plurality voting and replace it with approval voting.

The Center for Election Science values a level playing field for all candidates, regardless of party or ideology. We want a system where good ideas are able to rise to the top. This means that in addition to studying voting methods and research, we’re also using this evidence as our cue to take action. Taking action is the only way we can ensure that we really have the freedom we claim. Notably, that includes changing the way we elect people to government office. The Center for Election Science is helping local activists run ballot initiatives to get approval voting in their cities.

Do you, too, hope to see a system where good ideas receive the support they deserve and all parties are operating on a level playing field? If so, here are some ways you can help us make this a reality:

  1. Invest in our work to bring approval voting to a city near you with a tax-deductible donation
  2. Share our content on Facebook and Twitter to help your friends learn how they can make their ballot more free
  3. Join our movement for a more fair, more free ballot by signing up to receive our monthly newsletter

Together, we can create better elections and a smarter democracy.

The Center for Election Science is dedicated to helping the world use smarter election systems. They are a nationally-based, nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit comprised of voting system experts and activists. They incorporated in California in 2011.

They do this because the collective decisions we make through voting dramatically impact our day-to-day lives. Smarter collective decisions whether in government or in organizations promise to provide us all with a better quality of life.

-Aaron Hamlin

 

This article was originally created by The Center for Election Science for FreedomFest 2018. However, the content was quickly removed from the FreedomFest 2018 webpage after the event concluded. Ask A Libertarian deems this information to be important and decided to share it with you here, with approval of The Center for Election Science.

 

 

For more content from askalibertarian, follow us on the following platforms:

 

 

 

 

Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.

Borders, Public and Private

bothborders

Kris Morgan 6/5/18

Borders perform a very important function in society. They define the parameters of all land owned. In political form, they establish government territory. In the private realm, property lines make it possible for us to live in communities together while maintaining our autonomy. This topic is essential, as libertarians seek to perfect a system of thought grounded in property rights and the non-aggression principle. Exploring the differences between public and private borders can help to guide us on what a proper policy should be.

Private borders are older than public borders. In pre-civilization times, this would have included every fruit or vegetable picked, every animal hunted, every shelter erected, etc. Because of this, private borders are as old as mankind. Since ownership of resources is always changing, so are our boundaries.

Because private borders are necessary to distribute scarce resources needed for survival, protection thereof is completely justified. We utilize resources to advance the cause of our own lives; attempts to use other people’s property, with no regard for the preferences of the rightful owners, is never justified. Possession of resources is only justly gained through homestead, trade, or gift.

Political borders are different. They are put in place by populations that have already applied their own allocations of property. The goal of political borders is to help create an authority to oversee conflict resolution, facilitate peaceful trade, and to represent the area in which the government operates. This creates an overlap of ownership claims between public and private entities. By seizing the power to tax, regulate, and employ eminent domain measures, states take on aspects of ownership of everything in their borders. Those who reside within accept the relationship as a trade-off for the benefits of protection. This is the root of Social Contract Theory.

Thus, in order to have political borders, private property rights must be infringed upon. First, taxes have to be collected to fund their defense. Second, since the land in question is not owned under the just methods of homestead, trade, or gift, any force used against those violating public borders is aggressive rather than defensive. When private parties use threats and coercion to keep others out of land they do not own themselves, we typically think of it as gangs or mobsters establishing dominance in a territory.

In addition, there are other differences which should be highlighted. Unlike private borders, political lines must be rigid for long-lasting stability. Navigating life is challenging enough without constantly changing laws and regulations. When our political boundaries remain the same, the population is able to adapt to the rules and work in a cooperative fashion. Everyone knows what to expect and property transfers are easily done. When borders and ruling parties are in flux, that stability is lost. Nobody can keep up with present standards and economic activity is stifled. Many believe the most effective strategy to have a long-lasting border is through immigration control.

The Pew Research Center reported in 2015 there were about 11mil unauthorized immigrants in the US. Since we have been officially at war in the Middle East since 2001, it is easy to understand why this is problematic. The War on Terror makes security a serious concern for both Republicans and Democrats. Where they disagree is how to address those who already reside within our borders illegally.

On one hand, Republicans think the best course of action is zero tolerance and 100% prosecution of individuals entering the country illegally. Deterrence is the rationale behind the move. While it’s difficult to deny the logic, some believe such measures hurt others more than they protect us. Critics of the current administration are focusing on how border policy is separating families.

On the other hand, Democrats support a path to citizenship. According to ontheissues, “Undocumented immigrants within our borders who clear a background check, work hard and pay taxes should have a path to earn full participation in America. We will hasten family reunification for parents and children, husbands and wives, and offer more English-language and civic education classes so immigrants can assume all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”

The current libertarian solution to the border question is what one might expect. Our nation’s economic policies should not provide any extra incentives for people to come, nor should we allow immigrants to enter without a background check, given our current state of war. Those here illegally should be given the opportunity to stay, provided they clear a check (being here illegally does not warrant criminal prosecution).

If libertarians are to make a rational border policy a priority, the first step is to resolve our ridiculous foreign policy of endless warfare. With terrorism as the chosen tactic of our enemies, the population will never support open borders until peace is achieved. This position is understandable. Terrorists operate in sleeper cells, often with members maintaining low profiles until activated — Not exactly ideal circumstances for unimpeded movement of people and property.

Secondly, the practice of giving undocumented immigrants government benefits has to stop. In an article critical of the view that illegal aliens are draining the treasury, econofact noted “Programs that serve undocumented immigrants include school meal programs, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Head Start, and various in-kind emergency services. Undocumented immigrants are also eligible for Emergency Medicaid.” This may be a far cry from many right-wing claims that illegal immigrants are breaking the bank, but it is still unfair to local taxpayers.

I hope by this point that the issue of border security is straightforward. The border issue is really a symptom of poor foreign and economic policy. The duopoly has managed our government’s power so poorly that implementing reasonable border standards is not something the public is going to support. Until we get our welfare/warfare state in check, our country will continue down the path of becoming a closed society, which is what Trump’s wall proposal symbolizes.

If we don’t want to lose our souls in the process of defending our country, we should focus our efforts on fixing what is wrong. Adding additional evils to manage the ones we already have can only prove futile in the long-run. First came the wall proposal, then the travel ban, and now tariffs are putting Americans out of work. A great deal of economic activity in the US relies on foreign trade. The more steps we take towards closing ourselves off, the more negative unintended consequences we will face.

 

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.

 

 

For more content from askalibertarian, follow us on the following platforms:

 

 

 

 

Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.

Reflections on Libertarianism and the Judeo-Christian Tradition

35330514_10213157332062410_6396680856211030016_o

Travis Hallman,  5/10/2018

Much has already been written about the Founders of this nation being Deists rather than orthodox Christians. That is, they had a worldview that a Supreme Being created the world and set things in motion, but then backed off from intervening in nature and human affairs. Nevertheless, part of that understanding was that the Creator had given human beings inalienable rights, and that when such rights were jeopardized by a tyrannical government, it is justified to rebel against it. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [sic] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Even though active participation in organized Christianity has declined in America, it is worthwhile to explore the compatibility between the ideals of Libertarianism and the Judeo-Christian tradition that has shaped our history. One of the principles of Libertarianism is that, as Jefferson stated above, governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” A large majority of the governed have accepted the judeo-christian tradition as the basis for our national culture, even if they don’t participate in organized religion.

Judeo-Christian tradition first came to America along with the European colonizers who started settling in North America at the end of the 16th century and beginning of the 17th century. They saw themselves as the Chosen People of God—children of Abraham by faith if not by lineage. Therefore, they felt they had a God-given right to take land that was already occupied by a large, well-developed civilization. This follows how the ancient Israelites had taken land they believed was promised to them by God, even though it was already inhabited by the Canaanites.

Therefore, it is important to understand how both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament shaped the mindset of the European colonizers. The history of the Hebrews involves a people who had been enslaved in Egypt. In a dramatic and seemingly miraculous rescue, they escaped their bondage, and after a period of wandering in the wilderness, were successful in wrestling the land of Canaan away from its original inhabitants. Importantly, however, they were commanded to continually ritually remember their origins.

In the beginning of their occupation, the Hebrews were organized in a loose confederation of twelve tribes, each independent of the others, with respected elders giving guidance. Whenever an external threat arose from surrounding peoples, a charismatic leader (called a “judge”) would emerge to galvanize the tribes to band together to respond to the threat. When the threat was defeated, the judge would return to obscurity. This seemed to work well and runs parallel to the Libertarian value of local government, where leaders are known and actions are taken by consensus of the community.

However, the Israelites began looking at other nations around them and became anxious about their growth in political power and influence. Around 1000 BCE, the Israelites began to clamor that they needed a king to protect them from the surrounding nations. The prophet Samuel warned them that this was not necessary because God was their king and was watching over them. If they adopted a human king, the result would lead to taxation, conscription of young persons to serve in the military, and in forced labor. Nevertheless, the people persisted, and Samuel anointed a man named Saul as the first King of Israel, claiming him to be the one God had chosen. This story is recounted in 1 Samuel 8-9.

Samuel’s prediction came true and a century later, during the time of King Solomon, the taxation and conscription had become so onerous that it led to civil war and the dividing of the land into two kingdoms—Israel in the north and Judah in the south. It seems the natural tendency of government is to become bloated and bureaucratic.

One of the basic tenets of Libertarianism is non-aggression toward one’s neighbors and their property. This value can be compared to the Golden Rule espoused by most religions. Jesus stated it as part of his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:12): “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the Law and the prophets.” According to the Jewish Talmud, Rabbi Hillel, who was a contemporary of Jesus, taught something very similar based on his understanding of the Jewish Law (Torah). It is unfortunate that the European settlers did not apply this Golden Rule to the native inhabitants already living in North America, nor to the African slaves brought to the continent.

The summary of the Ten Commandments, according to Jesus, was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-40) Later, the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther would write in his Small Catechism that the commandments are not just prohibitive, but are also prescriptive—that is, calling for benevolent proactive actions on behalf of one’s neighbors. For example, in explaining the commandment, “You shall not steal,” Luther said that it is not enough merely to refrain from stealing from a neighbor oneself, but also to “help them improve and protect their property and income.” Similarly, the commandment against murder admonishes us to likewise “help and support them in all of life’s needs.” Certainly Libertarians encourage voluntary support and encouragement of one’s neighbors.

At issue for Libertarians is using government coercion through taxation to redistribute wealth and resources to those in need, rather than relying on voluntary altruism. There is evidence to suggest that non-profit social service agencies—both faith-based and secular—have a better and more efficient track record of meeting human needs than government agencies. They also tend to be marked with genuine compassion and they enable volunteers to support with their time, energy, and skills, as well as financially.

The prophet Ezekiel pointed this out in Chapter 34 of the book that bears his name in the Hebrew Scriptures. “Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?” he cries out in verse two. In this context, “shepherds” refers to politicians. There was a sense in Judaism that the King and his administration should provide for the minimum needs of the populous. But as with Samuel’s earlier warning that only God could be the rightful king, so, too, Ezekiel says that only God is the Good Shepherd.

Jesus also called himself the Good Shepherd, in one of his statements meant to associate himself as the Messiah, the Chosen agent of God—or, as Christians believe, God himself. There is a curious story about Jesus concerning the payment of taxes (found in Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; and Luke 20:20-26). The Jewish authorities try to trap him by asking whether or not one should pay taxes. If he said yes, then he would alienate his fellow Jews, who hated the Roman taxes imposed on them. If he said no, he risked arrest from the Roman authorities. Wisely, he asked them to produce a coin, and then asked whose likeness was on the coin. The answer, of course, was the Emperor, Caesar. Then Jesus responded, “Therefore, give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” On the surface, that may sound like Jesus is supportive of paying taxes. But his skillful and enigmatic answer leaves the question open, “Are taxes actually legitimate? Do they actually belong to the government?” Yes, the government mints money to regulate and expedite commerce, one could argue, therefore it legitimately deserves a tax to pay for that industry. But is it proper and ethical for any government to mint money at all? If so, should bartering also be taxed? These are issues of great concern to Libertarians.

There is actually a subversive undertone to Jesus’ answer about taxes in this passage. For both Jews and Christians believe that everything ultimately belongs to God. So essentially, Jesus is saying, pay taxes if you want, but remember that God created everything, and so it ALL belongs to God.

There are two more passages in the New Testament that need some consideration in terms of what the Bible says about government. The first is Romans 13:1-7 and the second is 1 Peter 2:13-17. Both have been traditionally used by Christians in support of government. It is important to note that many Biblical scholars think those verses in Romans are a later addition and not necessarily a part of Paul’s original letter. Similarly, most scholars agree that the letters bearing Peter’s name were NOT written by the leader of the twelve apostles, Simon Peter.

It is also important to note the context of the time in which these words were written. Christianity was a very small sect within the Roman Empire, and somewhat in competition with Judaism. Therefore, it was beneficial for Jewish leaders to foster enmity against the Christians on the part of the Roman Empire. Christians were said to be impious and seditious because they would not worship the Emperor as a god. These passages were specifically written in order to convey reassurance that Christians were not organized to oppose the rule of Rome.

Centuries later, European Christians living under Nazi power would wrestle with obedience to a government that embraced persecution of the Jews as legal. Some Christians concluded that when laws are unjust, there is a higher divine law that takes precedence. In our own times, the modern Sanctuary movement, in which Christian churches provide safety to undocumented immigrants, hiding them from immigration authorities, is similarly practiced because immigration laws and punitive enforcement of them are deemed unjust.

Finally, we should note that the last book of the Bible, the Revelation of Jesus Christ to St. John, has a very dystopic view of government. Written at the height of Roman persecution of Christianity, it noted that persons could not even conduct commerce—neither buy nor sell—without the stamped approval of the Empire. Libertarians question the multitude of professional and business licenses that are necessary, all of them supported by fees to the State. This book seems to be the antithesis of the passages from Romans and 1 Peter quoted earlier.

This is a very brief overview of some of the ways Judeo-Christian heritage intersects with Libertarian thinking. Judeo-Christian heritage and Libertarian thinking intersections are largely important because consistency improves legitimacy for a philosophy. Questioning, studying, then adopting the values upheld by Judeo-Christians and the values upheld by Libertarians is an option that empowers the individual to have a structured philosophy for decision-making that consistently remains non-contradictory. Neither Judaism nor Christianity are monolithic. There is a wide diversity of opinions within each religious tradition. This article can help Christians to be reminded that no government is perfect, and there is enough overlap between Libertarian principles and Christian principles not to outright reject Libertarianism.

 

In liberty,

-Travis Hallman

 

For more content from askalibertarian, follow us on the following platforms:

 

 

 

 

Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.4