What The Comment Section Is Teaching Us

disagree

Kris Morgan 7/8/2018

It seems like everyone on social media has been part of a thread that has gone off the deep end. Political discussions there are flooded with name-calling, condescending attitudes, and all-to-often the mention of Adolf Hitler. In fact, the Nazis have been mentioned so frequently that we now have ‘Godwin’s Law’, which states that “if you mention Adolf Hitler or Nazis within a discussion thread, you’ve automatically ended whatever discussion you were taking part in.” None of this is to say that there is no truth being shared, but it is regularly drowned by deflections, personal attacks, misinformation, cognitive dissonance, and other barriers. It is very tempting to conclude that there’s not a lot we can learn on a discussion thread, but that’s not quite true.

Veterans of social media will instantly agree with two basic conclusions drawn from the comment section. First, everyone thinks they are right. No matter how well or how poorly informed a person may be, when a position is taken, it is taken definitively. The individual, aware of the never-ending feed of fake news, conspiracy theories, and other seemingly-less-intelligent people on the web is very unlikely to change. To us, our beliefs and the reasons behind them are clear, so what kind of person disagrees? A wrong one.

Secondly, the politically active among us must realize that we are not all going to agree, probably ever. While we have general groups of conservatives, liberals, libertarians, etc., each of us is also unique in life experience and knowledge. The idea of two people agreeing on every foreseeable situation in human affairs is unimaginable. Though it may not seem it, there is a foundation from which we can move forward. If we acknowledge our disagreements, rather than preach our own version of the gospel, there is no reason we cannot move past them together, as there is a third truth we have to keep in mind.

Deep down, kept away from comment sections, or “in places you don’t talk about at parties,” we know that we don’t know everything. We are fallible, have biases, dissonance, and are even aware of the sway in the media we consume. So we share this world, full of different people, each believing themself to be right, and yet none is omniscient. What do we do when we all think we are right, our opinions rarely change, and none of us even has all the necessary information?

The only sane position is freedom. Freedom from coercion brought upon us from political and private entities. This means limiting government to the defense of individual liberty and private property rights. Only in this framework will we all be able to try what we believe is right and determine for ourselves if we are satisfied with the results.

Just because a group of people want a welfare state doesn’t make it the job of the politicians to threaten anyone who doesn’t participate with fines or jail. Just because someone thinks the Middle East should be invaded and occupied doesn’t mean soldiers who swore an oath to defend the United States should face a Courts Martial for not taking part in it. Just because some among us think the risk is too great to use new drugs before they’ve had the chance to be properly tested by the FDA doesn’t mean anyone should be banned from making a different decision for themselves.

The common belief is that there is strength in numbers. This is difficult to dispute on a battlefield, however, civil society is not a war zone. Our disagreements make us strong. Who among us hasn’t been forced through debate to find new ways to articulate their positions or address concerns they have never considered?

Private charity is a great example of how differences in opinion can help us cover our bases. Some believe it enables people, while others focus on helping the less fortunate. This has the effect of sending two important messages simultaneously. First, it tells people that there are those among us who are willing to help in times of need. Missions, food trucks, and other charitable services feed the homeless daily. At the same time, charity can be pulled at any time. If people get the sense they are being taken advantage of, they will likely pull their resources. This fact is a deterrent to people who are capable of doing more, but would be happy to live off charity.

We may want numbers, but what we need more than anything is a willingness to debate. Rather than trying to stamp out opposing views through law, we should welcome them. When the goal is to expand our horizons, and make our ideas, and ourselves, as good as possible, disagreement is extremely beneficial. Besides, it’s not as though we are going to wake up one day and find we all share the exact same beliefs.

Solidarity works out for the squad of soldiers on the battlefield only because the intellectual labor has already been done. Behind the scenes, where Generals and Admirals regularly meet with top government officials, disagreement refines the strategy. Let’s be the best version of ourselves we can, by supporting each other’s freedom to act on our own opinions. Ironically, taking power out of the picture could lead to more willingness to listen on all our parts.

 

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Viability Of The Libertarian Party

viability

Travis Hallman  September 5th

Many voters assume 3rd party candidates can’t win, so they resort to voting for the lesser-of-two-evils presented by the two major parties. This is becoming less of a problem because the Libertarian Party is growing daily. The purpose of this article is to present a few facts supporting the viability of the Libertarian Party.

FACT #1:

“The number of U.S. voters registered as Libertarian has surged by 92 percent since 2008, reports Ballot Access News in its March 2018 edition. That increase has come at the expense of both Democrats, who are down by 8 percent over the same time period, and Republicans, who are down by 5 percent. The number of voters registered as independent or with other parties has increased by 19 percent.”

FACT #2:

“The Libertarian Party is the third-largest political party in the United States after the Republican and Democratic parties.”

FACT #3:

“The recently concluded Libertarian National Convention, held in New Orleans, set attendance and fundraising records. Preliminary figures indicate that this year’s convention may have surpassed the 2016 presidential nominating convention in both attendance and fundraising.”

FACT #4:

“Nationwide, there are 174 Libertarians holding elected offices: 55 partisan offices, and 119 nonpartisan offices.”

FACT #5:

Gary Johnson was the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 2016. He was on the ballot in all fifty states plus D.C., but was only listed as a Libertarian on the ballot in forty-seven of those states plus D.C. Nationwide, he received approximately 3.24% of the vote. He received between 1.19% and 9.34% in each of the fifty states plus D. C.

Because presidential candidate election results affect ballot access [in most states], Johnson’s run was able to secure ballot access for the Libertarian Party for at least one election cycle in twenty-two states. In eighteen of those states, Libertarian Party ballot access is secured for all offices. In two of those states, Johnson only secured ballot access for the 2020 Libertarian Party presidential nominee. In Georgia, Johnson only secured ballot access in 2018 to Libertarian candidates running for statewide offices, while in Pennsylvania, Johnson was only able to secure Libertarian Party ballot access in special elections in 2017 and 2018.”

This means the candidates nominated by the Libertarian Party in these states can redirect resources (typically spent on gaining ballot access) to marketing and campaigning.

FACT #5 continued:

“As of July 2018, we have 2018 ballot access in 44 states.”

Unfortunately, because of a variety of factors, we are unable to pursue statewide access in Alabama, Tennessee, or Rhode Island this year. But we are pushing forward aggressively in the other 3 states.”

“It is likely that the Libertarian Party [LP] will have at least one nominee for a federal or state office on the ballot in all 50 states in November 2018, for the first time in a midterm year.”

FACT #6:

“December 28, 2017, Washington, DC — Attorneys with the Our America Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy organization, have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a Writ of Certiorari asking the Justices to reinstate an antitrust suit brought against the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) by former presidential candidate Gary Johnson and others challenging the Commission’s boycott of third party and independent candidates from nationally televised debates.”

FACT #7:

Libertarian candidates like Craig Bowden, Larry Sharpe, Laura Ebke, Bill Gelineau, Honor “Mimi” Robson, Autumn Browne, Gail Lightfoot, Derrick Michael Reid, and many others are breaking old records with their campaigns.

In conclusion, the Libertarian Party is becoming very much more viable every day. However, viability should not determine the way we vote. The founding fathers created a representative republic so we could vote for the candidates we want to win (as opposed to voting for who we think may win). Voting for who we think can win will always give us a less desirable government. We should only be casting support for the projected winners during sport matches, not political campaigns.

In liberty,

-Travis Hallman

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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.

 

 

Your Questions Answered: What’s Wrong With Property Tax?

propertytax

By Jared Miller   July 19, 2018

Talking to Libertarians about taxes can be… exhausting. Between shouts of “taxation is theft!” and some stuff about roads, we often come off as flippant and dismissive. But at least we can all agree that taxes are basically garbage, right? And surely some taxes must be worse than others, right?

Good. Let’s start there.

It isn’t contradictory to say that taxes are wrong and still admit that the state of affairs brought about by some small degree of taxation — both limited by and beholden to the natural rights of individuals — is preferable to the state of affairs that would exist without them. Yes, taxes are garbage. No, we can’t eliminate them completely without some negative outcomes. The hard part is choosing the least harmful way to prevent those negative outcomes.

So to the extent that there may be some hierarchy of tax “badness,” two kinds top the list: income tax, and property tax. These two most directly violate the rights of individuals to the product of their labor. Nevertheless, there is some disagreement among libertarians about property tax.

Most libertarians agree that property tax is inexcusable, but some see it as the most fair and equitable form of taxation, if taxation is to exist at all. Others still, known as geolibertarians, believe that land is “common property,” and cannot be truly “owned” except by the community. They view the tax as a kind of rent to the community. I admit, they have a strong, well reasoned argument, but it runs directly perpendicular to the rest of the principles of private property.

Frederic Bastiat did an excellent job laying out the case for property rights. He begins with a hypothetical time without government, and the fact that individuals must act to maintain their lives. They do so by applying their skills and abilities to the natural world. Their work, over time, turns resources from that world into useful products or services.

Life, faculties, production—in other words, individuality, liberty, property—this is man,” argues Bastiat. Since these things are required for an individual to survive and flourish, they “precede all human legislation, and are superior to it.”

All natural resources can be thought of this way. Trees, for example, exist with or without man. Lumber (the product of his labor) does not. And in order to act upon those trees, he must first have ownership of them, or permission from their owner. The purpose of the law, then, is to protect from assaults on those fundamental rights.

This is why property tax is seen so negatively by most libertarians; It negates one of the most fundamental human rights. The practical result of property tax is that now instead of owning property, it is rented. If you do not pay that rent, you are evicted.

Even if we disagree on how or if taxes should be collected, there is no way around this point. We can disagree about extended consequences, about what is equitable, about the “right” way to tax, about how much or even whether to tax at all. But as long as you are required to pay property tax, you do not own your land. The government does.

 

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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.

 

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Partyarchy With Agorism

partyarchyagorism

Travis Hallman, 7/15/2018

Agorism and Partyarchism are both libertarian social philosophies that advocate for all relations between people to be voluntary exchanges. However, they both have very different means. Agorists claim that such a society could be more readily established by employing methods such as:

  • education
  • direct action
  • alternative currencies
  • entrepreneurship
  • self sufficiency
  • civil disobedience
  • counter-economics (AKA black markets)

The purpose of employing these methods of self-governance is to defund the state until it cannot afford to exist.

Partyarchs pursue a free-society through political parties via campaigning, voting, and holding offices. This includes the vetoing of draconian legislation, as well as passing bills designed to allow for greater freedom.

The debate between these methods has raged for decades, possibly millennia. It is worth considering that there may be no single, conclusive right or wrong path to a free society.

The study or practice of self-governance is very insightful by helping people realize they do not need a government in order to progress in a peaceful manner. Homeschooling is an example of autonomy which teaches parents that government-funded schools are not necessary. Here are a couple of examples, in support of agorism, that teach how civil disobedience and counter-economics can effectively cause politicians to remove laws:

According to Civil Disobedience Weekly, “Gandhi led the Salt March in 1930, in order to eliminate the Salt Tax, a tax on salt, which harmed India’s poor population. The Salt Tax was beneficial to the British as they financed subjugation of India by the Salt Tax. If having India as a colony was no longer profitable for the British, the Indians thought they would eventually leave. This did end up happening, because after World War II, the British did not want to stay. They did not want to raise taxes from their own people for a war against India, and they did not want to spend their money on a war.”

According to Freedom Leaf, “Large gatherings of pot smokers in Colorado each year on 4/20 signaled the public groundswell of support for legalization. Major events that include public smoking, like Seattle Hempfest and the Boston Freedom Rally, have served as the main vehicles for political reform.”

However, is self-governance the only path to a free society? The laws would not have been removed if the politicians didn’t consent to removing them.

Here are a few examples of counter-economics that have been practiced around the world:

According to The New Libertarian Manifesto on page 20 (written in 1983):

“In the Soviet Union, a bastion of arch-statism and a nearly totally collapsed ‘official’ economy, a giant black market provides the Russians, Armenian, Ukrainian and others with everything from food to television repair to official papers and favors from the ruling class. As the Guardian Weekly reports, Burma is almost a total black market with the government reduced to an army, police, and a few strutting politicians. In varying degrees, this is true of nearly all the Second and Third Worlds.

Italy, for example, has a ‘problem’ of a large part of its civil services which works officially from 7 A.M. to 2 P.M. working unofficially at various jobs the rest of the day earning ‘black’ money.

The Netherlands has a large black market in housing because of the high regulation of this industry. Denmark has a tax evasion movement so large that those in it seduced to politics have formed the second largest party. .. Currency controls are evaded rampantly; in France, for example, everyone is assumed to have a large gold stash and trips to Switzerland for more than touring and skiing are commonplace.

..

According to the American Internal Revenue Service, at least twenty million people belong in the ‘underground economy’ of tax evaders using cash to avoid detections of transactions or barter exchange. Millions keep money in gold or in foreign accounts to avoid the hidden taxation of inflation. Millions of ‘illegal aliens’ are employed, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Millions more deal or consume marijuana and other prescribed drugs, including laetrile and forbidden medical material.

And there are all the practitioners of ‘victimless crimes.’ Besides drug use, there are prostitution, pornography, bootlegging, false identification papers, gambling, and proscribed sexual conduct between consenting adults.

..

But it doesn’t stop here. Since the 55 mph speed limit enacted federally in the U.S., most Americans have become counter-economic drivers. The trucking industry has developed CB communications to evade state enforcement of regulations. For independents who can make four runs at 75 mph rather than three runs at 55 mph, counter-economic driving is a question of survival.

The ancient custom of smuggling thrives today from boatloads of marijuana and foreign appliances with high tariffs and truckloads of people from less- developed countries to the tourists stashing a little extra in their luggage and not reporting to customs agents.”

Citizens are not directly culpable for the system in place; however, how do agorists justify reconciling their means to a free society with traveling on government-funded roads or using federal reserve notes for trading or providing commonwealth government identifiers (such as a social security number and a zip code) to attain a job? Is it possible, at all, to be a pure agorist in the United States of America? If an agorist is anything less than pure then is it still self governance?

Agorists only support engaging in political activity as a means to educate voters about the unnecessity of voting. According to The New Libertarian Manifesto on page 28 (written in 1983), “The best form of organization is a Libertarian Alliance in which you steer the members from political activity (where they have blindly gone seeking relief from oppression) and focus on education, publicity, recruitment and perhaps some anti-political campaigning (i.e. ‘Vote For Nobody,’ ‘None of the Above’, ‘Boycott the Ballot,’ ‘Don’t Vote, It Only Encourages Them!’ etc.) to publicize the libertarian Alternative.”

According to The American, “Only 1.3 percent of the total population—38,818 people—cast ballots in the first presidential election.” Yet, a ruling class was still created. How do agorists intend to get 100% of the population to refrain from voting? This task is seemingly impossible considering how many citizens want a voice in the political arena.

What are some large/major efforts taken by agorists to educate the public about the benefits of a free society? Do agorists voluntarily create collectives to educate others on the benefits of a free society? Please visit the bottom of this article to view a list of agorists.

The entirety of the Libertarian Party is a large/major effort taken by partyarchs collectivizing to educate the public about the benefits of a free society. Partyarchs seem to be championing this field of educating others. Please visit the bottom of this article to view a list of partyarchs.

The following questions are intended to challenge the philosophical means of agorists:

  • If offered, would you accept the opportunity to present the benefits of a free society on a government funded tv channel?
  • Since aggression is ethically justified as self-defense and voting for statists causes aggression toward yourself and/or others; then would voting for partyarchs be self-defense?
  • Is agorism appealing to minarchists, classical liberals, right-anarchists, and other interpretations of the non-aggression principle?

The following questions are intended to challenge the philosophical means of partyarchs:

  • Would you not engage in profitable civil disobedience and/or counter-economics if you were presented with an opportunity?
  • How do you intend to defund and dismantle the state if everyone exclusively engages in the white market?
  • If elected, would you resort to agorist means if the state resisted your legislation creating a free society?

Are the means from each social philosophy so different that the two cannot work together toward a voluntary society? Seemingly, everyone engages in some amount of agorism, whether paying the least amount possible in taxes, bartering (without payment of taxes), civil disobedience (such as consuming cannabis), gardening, or something entirely different. This includes agorists, partyarchs, and everyone else. According to The New Libertarian Manifesto on page 21 (written in 1983), “To some extent, then, everybody is a counter-economist! And this is predictable from libertarian theory. Nearly every aspect of human action has statist legislation, prohibiting, regulating or controlling it.”

The New Libertarian Manifesto (written in 1983) on pages 28 – 31 describes the transition from a statist society to a free society using agorist means; beginning with phase 0 and ending at phase 4. The author describes part of phase 3 in the following manner, “Wars and rampant inflation with depressions and crack-ups become perpetual as the State attempts to redeem its authority.” This statement begs to ask the question, “Would the state initiate aggressive wars if the state consists predominantly of partyarchs or would the partyarchs simply allow for a free society (considering that’s also the end goal of partyarchs)?”

Agorism “vs” partyarchism is a false dichotomy. The two are not competitive in reality; whereas, partyarchism with agorism would be cooperative and compatible. At minimum, the supporters of either philosophical means can work together to educate others about the benefits of a free society.

Consistencies offer legitimacy to any philosophy. As written in The New Libertarian Manifesto on page 3 (written in 1983), “Consistency of ends, of means, of ends and means.” Agorists claim that since there would be no political arena in the end then engaging in a political arena as a means would be inconsistent. However, the political arena is aggressive so using aggression as defense would be justified ethically. This remains consistent with the means and end because aggression (unfortunately) will always occur; so defensively using aggression as a means would not be inconsistent with the end. Here is a short video detailing how aggression would be resolved in a free society.

According to Lysander Spooner, “In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use[s] the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self- defence, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man takes the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot — which is a mere substitute for a bullet — because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defence offered, he, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him.”

Here is a long list of individual agorists educating others about the benefits of a free society: Larken Rose, Patrick Smith, Peter Kallman, James Corbett, Derrick Broze, J. Neil Schulman, Wally Conger, Gary Greenberg, and very few more.

Here is a short list of partyarchs educating others about the benefits of a free society: Adam Kokesh, Darryl Perry, Mary J. Ruwart, Arvin Vohra, John McAfee, Will Coley, Craig Bowden, Caryn Ann Harlos, and very many more. *Disclaimer: the partyarchs on this list have engaged in the political arena with serious intentions of using their elected political positions to work toward a free society and may or may not have engaged or supported agorist means too.

In liberty,

-Travis Hallman

 

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Who’s Naive?

naive

Kris Morgan 7/7/2018

Like supporters of nearly any other cause, after a while libertarians hear repeat objections to our ideas. Some of these are well founded and need to be addressed, while others simply exist because of ignorance and misunderstanding. Responding to the former is beneficial because it helps us to refine our thinking, and sorting through the latter gives us the opportunity to reach out to those who are willing to dive below the surface. Here, I hope to resolve the shallow claim that libertarianism is a naive philosophy that can never work.

Shant Eghian wrote: “…I ultimately find libertarianism as a political philosophy too simplistic to be put into practice. Take the taxation views of candidate Darryl Perry, for instance, the self-described ‘most libertarian’ of the five candidates. Perry (like the other four candidates) considers all taxation theft, and stated that government had no legitimate role in society. Instead of taxation, he proposed a system of completely voluntary donations; citizens would only give money to the programs that they use or wanted to give money to. Economic issues certainly aren’t my strong suit, so forgive me for wandering into territory that I know very little about, but Perry’s idea seems incredibly problematic, taking a naive view of human nature that only the most rosy-eyed socialist would consider. While voluntary taxation may work in some areas (advocates for school choice and a voucher program certainly have my attention), I think having this strategy used for everything is unrealistic.”

The error in this view is two-fold. First, libertarians do not hold the view that human beings are angels and will band together singing kumbaya if we end taxation. On the contrary, we are just cynical enough to understand that once taxation is accepted as legit, there is very little we can do to keep powerful sociopaths in check. Vote ‘em out they say… and vote who in exactly?  That is our question. John McCain? Hillary Clinton?

Secondly, we often see those who support taxation as being engaged in delusions of their own. The state proves to be abusive, wasteful, and inefficient on a daily basis. Yet there remain so many who believe it is going to and do all the right things; stop invading vulnerable countries with natural resources, and stop destroying economic growth.

Eghian also took issue with the Non-Aggression Principle when he stated: “Instead of an inordinate faith in the power of big government, libertarians have an inordinate faith in things just working out for themselves, without any regulation or outside force to intervene when things go wrong. I could go on with my problems with the libertarian debate. From the idea that no one who has committed non-violent crimes should go to jail .”

In the quote above, he is comparing his differences with socialism to those of libertarianism. Where is he wrong? Libertarians do not believe that things are going to simply work out in lieu any sort of checks and balances. What we do believe is the rich will-and do-bribe politicians, as well as seize political power to attain favorable regulations. The Federal Reserve itself, charged with the task of stabilizing the financial system, often works to the benefit of specific banks. In fact, it originated through a team of politicians and private bankers. The term crony capitalism has been popularized to describe the unholy alliance between public officials and private business.

We favor regulation from private parties, most notably in the form of market certifications. The greatest example of this is Underwriters Laboratories (UL).  The UL logo on virtually all electronics we purchase means the item has been deemed safe by a private institution. In addition, you may be aware that food safety and quality are more rigorous in the market than by government. Safe Quality Foods is one example. Before retailers will consider selling a product on their shelves, they require manufacturers meet the standards of private inspections.

Additionally, if the purpose is to defend American citizens and their property, why should anyone favor jailing non-violent offenders? When people are arrested who have not committed acts of force, fraud, or theft, the government contradicts its own purpose. Rather than taking the role of defender, it becomes aggressor. There is no doubting the validity of the non-aggression principle in our personal lives, therefore we should not surrender it in politics.

This is not to say libertarians believe nothing bad could ever happen in private settings. However, keeping things private maximizes our power to call the wrongdoers out, put them out of business, minimize the potential for damage, and at least attain market justice. We also reserve the power to make decisions for ourselves, such as what risks we are willing to take. With organizations like the FDA, drugs that may help others in times of crisis are often withheld, special interests can bribe their way to favorable regulations, and we are essentially powerless against it. A feasible market solution would be Labdoor; an entity that routinely tests supplements sold by retailers. The absence of the FDA would create a vacuum for the useful checks it provides, which Labdoor and others could fill in the same way UL and SQF operate.

In the spirit of the title of this article, I have to ask who is truly naive? Is it the libertarian, who sees government’s use of power as inherently evil and wants to curb it? Or is it those who believe, in spite of everything that happens almost daily, power will be used correctly and justice will be done? When we measure crime in terms of coercive acts, there is no question governments are worse than any private group that has existed anywhere at any time. For example, when the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima took place, “the explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.” Three days later, an additional 40,000 died in the bombing of Nagasaki.

Some believe this was justified because the conflict was called a ‘war.’ But it raises the question: what would happen if you were in a bar fight and exploded the bar with C-4? No one would believe that’s morally acceptable for an individual, so why do some think it’s justified on an infinitely larger scale? Civilian populations are not a threat, military targets are. Yet the destruction of these cities and the resulting death tolls are often viewed by those in power as examples of success.

If our goals are justice and security, is it not naive to believe we will achieve them by allowing the rule of an aggressive force? The constant fighting over who should have power, and what they should force us to do, will go on indefinitely. The solution is to overcome the adversity of securing ourselves and our families without inviting aggression into our lives. If we are not willing to do so, then we will never know true liberty, peace, or prosperity.  

 

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Reflections on Libertarianism and the Judeo-Christian Tradition

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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

 

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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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Wealth Isn’t (Just) Money, Pt 2

wealth2

By Jared Miller

We have already explored the idea that wealth is all of the things that money does, and isn’t necessarily money itself. That’s a pretty good foundation. But we still need to expand it further. Maybe a better definition is, “Wealth is all of the things that money does, AND the economic growth that the accumulation of money represents.”

I mentioned in part one that our exaggerated revulsion towards inequality depends on the ideas that the amount of wealth is fixed, and that wealth equals money. Since we’ve already covered the latter, I want to address the idea of fixed wealth by first examining “The paradox of thrift.” The idea is that the more people save, the less money there is in the economy. Less money in the economy means less economic activity, which means people lose jobs and businesses close. In times of economic distress, someone might be able to make the case that this is a genuine concern. But as a truism for all economic activity, it’s complete nonsense.

Maybe that’s a little unfair. Maybe it’s more accurate to say it is the result of another misunderstanding brought about by the use of currency. Once again, it’s much easier to understand the true nature of things without using money. Without proper understanding of wealth, talking about money just muddies the waters.

Let’s say a farmer can produce about a bushel a month: enough to buy about a month’s worth of beef. In this scenario, the economy is in complete equilibrium. It is neither growing nor shrinking, and there is no profit to be had as both parties are simply meeting their basic needs.

If the farmer comes up with a new technique whereby he is able to increase his yield to 2 bushels of grain, he is now building capital (profit) to the tune of 1 bushel per month. In our economy, he would sell this grain for a certain amount of money, but this makes no difference. He now has a surplus of capital to be used for a variety of means.

He could trade for some fruit or some new clothes, or use it to further improve his farm with a plow, or some land, or by paying a farm hand. Or he could save it at absolutely no expense to the rest of the economy. And that’s the most important part.

He has more because he produced more, not because he took it from someone else. If he were to trade the extra production, everyone would benefit from that additional wealth. But if he does not trade it, nobody is worse off. In the modern world, we are one step removed from the appearance of this, but we are not removed from its reality.

To understand, it needs to be completely clear that the word “profit” is not the vomit-inducing, greed-ridden, class warfare cliche that it’s made out to be. As long as it is not earned through fraud or exploitation, profit is good. It is growth. It is the numerical representation of exactly how far societal wealth has expanded — Not shifted, expanded. Profit means that everyone is wealthier, not just the person who earns it. (One might still try to argue that workers must be exploited for profit to exist at all, but that is a topic for another time. If I were to get into that here, this would be so long that nobody would read it.)

The same is true for personal wages, even though it doesn’t feel that way. Income (revenue) minus expenses still equals profit or loss. Profit in this case refers to the amount of value you have added through your labor that is above what you need to live. Like the farmer’s grain, this excess is not a drag on the economy. And increasing it by eliminating expenditures (reducing your consumption of limited resources) is also good for the economy.

Yes, it looks like the economy is shrinking because you aren’t consuming as much stuff. Activity slows down, but consumption of resources is by definition the destruction of wealth. It is absolutely true that businesses and systems that depend on constant consumption will suffer from an increase in thrift. But shifting our habits away from consumption is the best way to ensure both economic stability AND more general distribution of wealth. After all, who suffers most from lack of thrift? Is it the wealthy, or the rest of us? Who benefits most from a throwaway, consumptive mentality?

Increasing production and reducing waste, or more plainly, creating more than you consume: that is the definition of economic growth — not how much money is flying around. The only arguments against this fact result from an unfortunate preoccupation with money, or the immediate effects of personal decision making. When the extended consequences are considered, everyone eventually benefits.

There’s one more characteristic of profit we need to address in order to understand how this relates to inequality. Probably the most important function of profit is as a bat signal to entrepreneurs. High profits are the most clear way to say, “This model works! People want this! You can make money here!” The higher the profits, the brighter the bat signal. As new people copy the success of the first guy, competition forces profit margins to decrease as each competitor fights for a bigger piece of the pie. More new methods develop, efficiency increases, and labor and price are both reduced dramatically over time.

This happens because people see opportunity, and are allowed to pursue it to the best of their ability. But when something happens to limit the ability for new businesses to try their luck, success remains concentrated. The wealth gap grows. Usually, but not always, this happens when often well-meaning restrictions make it too costly for new players to face off with existing ones.

Therefore, if there is an arena where wealth concentration must be fought first, it is the addition of obstacles to entrepreneurial activity, and the reduction of competition by artificial means. That includes an element of personal responsibility for poor financial choices. People like you and me could become entrepreneurs ourselves, or at least stop squandering our own capital for the benefit of the elite. This may be the most important way to battle inequality, because it’s the only arena within which you personally have control.

Shift your definition of wealth. Learn to manage your finances wisely. If you’ve got the stomach for it, act entrepreneurially. Learn patience and stop borrowing money. Then maybe one day your success could contribute to reducing inequality.

 

 

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