Why Blame The Police For Doing Their Job?

420

Jared Miller, 4/20/18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Time To Say Goodbye To Bipartisanship

Bipartisan

By John Klear, 4/7/2018

I know this is considered unconventional thinking and will probably offend the masses, but why does it have to be called ‘bipartisan?’ In a society where people are offended if the wind blows in the wrong direction, and all are encouraged to be individuals, it is demanded that we be ‘right’ or ‘left.’ There can be no happy median, only pro or con. And once a side is chosen, DO NOT attempt to go against the party. However, this is not a sporting event where you root for either the home team or visitor, these are real life decisions that affect everyone.

Lately, I have heard the phrase ‘if our forefathers were alive today…’ tirelessly used.  Our forefathers were average citizens; farmers, shoppe owners, chemists, doctors, and lawyers who came out of the fields and stores to meet and vote on laws meant to further society, not stifle it. And that is why they created a democracy that represents the voice of the PEOPLE, not the voice of one person or party. Our system is meant to help advance, as a whole, and not just one side or the other — to represent the voices of the of majority, while allowing those whose beliefs are not aligned with the collective the freedom to enjoy their own lives as they choose.

The system, much like the Constitution, must remain solid but fluid, changing and adapting to societal needs. However, this does not mean that it should immediately change to meet the ‘complaint du jour’ (see Amendment 18). The pace of society today is quick, but changes to our laws should not follow the same tempo.

I am not a politician, nor related to any politicians. I am an average middle-aged American who grew up in this great Nation. I still believe in its principles and values. My education came from an equal mix of books and the streets. I paid MY OWN way through Masters and part of my PhD. In addition to my regular work, I give back by volunteering in a homeless shelter, am active in different charities, and teach part-time with the hope that I can still make a difference.

With the support of this party, and other ‘3rd’ party options, I believe we can break those bipartisan chains that unintentionally suppress the great freedoms that so many died to ensure. The days of the two party system must come to end. This was illustrated in the recent Presidential election. The two parties offered what I’ve heard many call ‘subpar’ candidates. For an event that should have been based on which candidate represented a continued commitment to freedom, was instead on who was least despised at the time.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.” Continued support of a two-party system greatly limits the growth of the nation. By rewarding the elite for their decisions, we hinder progress. And for the country to thrive, we should never accept status quo.

 

 

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On Approach

approach

Kris Morgan   2/26/2018

If you’re a libertarian, chances are you have debated someone who seems to think you stuck your head in the sand. If you are lucky enough, you have conversed with people who stumped you by asking how services could be provided outside of politics. However, if you’re like 99.9% of us, you have also spoken to someone who just can’t seem to figure out why you would support liberty in the first place. At first your opponent may just think you are naive, but after chatting with you for a while, they are left with the impression that you are hopelessly dogmatic. The truth is we are neither naive nor dogmatic; we simply believe in a different method of approaching problems.

A perfect example of such thinking can be found in an article titled “The Libertarian Delusion” published by the American Prospect Magazine in 2015. The piece touches on a wide range of topics including pollution, income inequality, and the 2007 housing crash. It then goes on to discuss the great marvels pursued by governments which have lead to private investment, using Apple as an example. The author later suggests the market is a creature of government. While some arguments are well thought out, it is painfully obvious the writer fails to understand libertarianism.

As tempting as it is to write a point by point response, it is much more important to clarify something our critics almost always fail to grasp. Libertarianism is not an ideology revolved around results or personal gain, nor do we wish to bury our heads in the sand and pretend problems don’t exist. Instead, we hope to persuade others to approach our shared challenges within the context of free associations and individual freedom. This is in sharp contrast to other schools of thought, which rely heavily on solving problems through the force of law.

This is made more clear by reviewing the way Mr. Kuttner closed his piece: “So if we are to win the argument with the libertarians, we need to take back effective government. Friedman was wrong to argue that the cure for market failure is more market. However, the cure for weak or corrupted democracy has to be more democracy. The only way to redeem public confidence in government as a necessary check on the market is to repair faith in democracy itself. It is not difficult to prove that the claim of market efficiency is delusional.”

Critics such as Mr. Kuttner could speak about market failures and political efficiency until they are blue in the face; it is not going to make the slightest difference to any serious libertarian. What speaks to us are ideals, such as justice and peace. Prosperity is more of a bonus. The mechanism by which justice and peace are achieved is respect for legitimate property rights; legitimate property defined as that which is gained through proper homestead, received as gift, or earned through trade.

Most treat this opinion as a minor difference in politics, but there are great implications which result from this perspective. Most importantly, we are not interested in using political power nor any other form of coercion to solve problems. Rather than asking how the law should be modified to suit the circumstances we want to change, we ask ‘what can we do within the framework of liberty to make life better?’

There are many benefits to approaching society’s troubles this way. First, it is the only way to sustain a free state. Seeking new laws in order to overcome obstacles has the inevitable consequence of creating a totalitarian regime, since we will always have our imperfections. Secondly, we avoid the pitfall of pretending law can make society more secure. Seeking to increase our own safety at the expense of other people’s liberty (i.e. gun control) is a method that is sure to fail for obvious reasons, as liberty and safety are one and the same. Perhaps most importantly, we are forced to deal with the roots of our problems, whereas the use of law encourages us to focus only on the symptoms.

The next time someone demands you know every detail about how a free society would work, remind them that our message is really one about method. Don’t be scared to leave omniscience to God. Where we don’t already have answers, the logical thing to do is brainstorm. According to gallup, only 27% of Americans can be characterized as libertarian. If so, 73% of our nation’s brain power is open to, likely relying on, the passing of new laws as a panacea when facing challenges. Freedom cannot last if every problem is met with a reduction in liberty, and passing laws will never ‘fix’ humanity. We can do better. The only caveat is we need that other 73% to work with us.

 

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Who Are The Cronies Part II: Bankers

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Kris Morgan 2/8/2018

When President Bush and his administration bailed out banks in light of the 2007 housing collapse, the crony nature of banking was at the forefront of all our minds. The New York Times even ran a headline in 2009: “Bankers Reaped Lavish Bonuses During Bailouts.” According to the article, nine of the biggest recipients of bailouts paid about 5,000 people $1mil each in bonuses. So not only does bailing out losers undermine the market’s goal of weeding out those who fail to meet economic demand efficiently, the moral hazard involved is shocking.

CNN posted a special report listing all the banks bailed out as a result of the aforementioned 2007 crash. The list is endless, but the top three were Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase & Co., and Citigroup. Each received  $25bn to hold them over. Without further adieu, here is a profile of the top three banks’ CEO during the time.

 

John Stumpf – Wells Fargo CEO in 2008

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In 2008, as Wells Fargo received a $25bn bailout, Stumpf was paid $13.8mil in his first year as CEO. The bank posted a $2.66bn dollar profit in the same year. While Stumpf has had an extensive banking career, Janet Yellen’s final act as Chairman of the Fed in 2016 was to slam Wells Fargo with $185mil fine in light of the fake accounts scandal. Stumpf retired as a result. From Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 to present, Wells Fargo has received $530,481,584 in subsidies (government granted money without demand for repayment).

 

Jamie Dimon – JP Morgan Chase & Co. in 2008

jamiedimon

JP Morgan Chase & Co. received $25bn to remain afloat in 2008. Jamie Dimon was paid $19.7mil that same year (to his credit, in 2007 he made $34mil). What is troubling is the bank received a bailout, but according to Dimon’s bio, in 2008 “he steered the business clear of most of the wreckage and maintained its profitability, while also scooping up ailing Bear Stearns for $2 per share…” However, in 2013 it became apparent JP Morgan misrepresented mortgage securities it was selling prior to 2008 and was forced to pay $13bn in a settlement with regulators. JP Morgan has received $1,577,130,318 in subsidies since FY 2000.
Vikram Pandit – Citigroup in 2008

vikrampandit

Like JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo, Citigroup received a $25bn bailout in 2008. Pandit reported a measly $1mil salary to Congress for 2008, however, the Huffington Post reported he made almost $11mil and simply neglected to “mention his sign-on and retention awards, as well as stock and option awards.” Per the story, he originally made closer to $40mil but lost big when the stock price tumbled to under $1 per share. From FY 2000 to present, Citigroup has received $564,762,028 in subsidies.

 

No proper work on cronyism in the financial sector can even be started without mentioning the two people most in charge: Former Chairman of the Fed Ben Bernanke and Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.

 

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in 2008

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Ben Bernanke began his career in academia. After graduating Summa-Cum-Laude in Economics from Harvard in 1975, he earned a PHD from MIT in 1979. Following that, he taught at Stanford, NYU, MIT, and Princeton. He was appointed to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 2002 and Chairman in 2005. Bernanke worked closely with President Bush and Hank Paulson to draft the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, more commonly known as the 2008 bailout.

 

Hank Paulson – Treasury Secretary in 2008

hankpaulson

Henry Paulson earned a Bachelor’s in English from Dartmouth and an MBA from Harvard before going to work at the Pentagon as staff assistant to the assistant secretary of defense under President Nixon. Just after serving as Domestic Council assistant to President Nixon, he made his way to Goldman Sachs. In 1982 he made partner, in 1988 he made managing partner, and from 1990 – 1994 he operated as President and COO. In 1999 he replaced Jon Corzine as Chairman and CEO, as Corzine worked his way into politics, becoming Governor of New Jersey. In 2006 he was named Treasury Secretary by President Bush.

 

The 2007 housing crash and subsequent 2008 bank bailouts were a trying time for everyone. Perhaps every person on this list acted admirably, and in spite of that, the media found a way of viewing their actions with a touch of fraud. Even if we believe that unlikely story, do we still want the federal government determining who stays afloat and who drowns every time we enter the bust phase of the cycle? Do we want banks, with a revolving door between the private sector and high levels of government, operating under the impression they will just get bailed out? What is to stop them from approving high-risk high-reward loans to people in desperation?

 

Part I                                                              Part III                                                               Part IV

 

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Doctor Libertarians

doctorcollage

Travis Hallman 2/1/2018

Many of our most vocal activists within the Libertarian Party are current and former doctors. Doctors have an inside perspective of the healthcare industry as well as how decisions that negatively affect one’s life, i.e. drugs, also affect the body. On healthcare and self-ownership, the official Libertarian Platform states:

Libertarian Platform 2.10: Health Care

“We favor a free-market health care system. We recognize the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want (if any), the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions. People should be free to purchase health insurance across state lines.”

Please click this link if you’re interested in understanding why Libertarians support a free-market health care system.

Libertarian Platform 1.1: Self-Ownership

“Individuals own their bodies and have rights over them that other individuals, groups, and governments may not violate. Individuals have the freedom and responsibility to decide what they knowingly and voluntarily consume, and what risks they accept to their own health, finances, safety, or life.”

Please click this link if you’re interested in understanding why libertarians support self-ownership.

When the Affordable Care Act was being hotly debated, it was apparent the AMA supported the bill. Even today one is left with the impression that, generally speaking, doctors support Obamacare. The following is a list of of doctors who not only oppose the ACA, but who are also outright libertarians.

 

Dr. Ron Paul

Ron-Paul-military2

“In his last year of college, Ron Paul married Carol. After he graduated in 1957, the couple moved to Durham, North Carolina, where Ron attended the Duke University School of Medicine. Finishing his degree in 1961, he and his young family then moved to Detroit, Michigan. There Paul did his internship and residency at Henry Ford Hospital. Serving his country, he was as a doctor in the United States Air Force from 1963 to 1965 and then with the United States Air National Guard from 1965 to 1968.”

“Specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, Paul opened his own practice in Texas. During the course of his career, he is said to have delivered more than 4,000 babies.”

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

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

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

 

Dr. Rand Paul

rand

“Paul attended Baylor University and then the Duke University Medical School, his father’s alma mater. After receiving a medical degree in 1988, Paul pursued a general surgery internship at the Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia. While there, he met Kentucky native Kelley Ashby. The couple dated for a couple of years and married in 1991, and when Paul finished his ophthalmology residency at Duke two years later, they moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky to start a family and Paul’s medical practice. They soon had three sons, William, Duncan and Robert.

A longtime member of the service organization Lions Club International, Paul founded the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic, a nonprofit offering free eye care to patients in need, in 1995. He also performed free eye surgeries for impoverished children in developing countries through the Children of the Americas program.”

“A lifelong Republican with Libertarian leanings, Paul became involved in political causes in 1994, when he founded Kentucky Taxpayers United, a watchdog group tracking taxation and spending issues in the Kentucky state legislature, until it disbanded in 2000. Rand was inspired to become involved in politics, in part due to his father, Ron Paul, who was the first member of the Paul family to run for and win political office.”

https://www.biography.com/.amp/people/rand-paul-588472

 

Dr. Marc Allan Feldman

Feldman

“Dr. Feldman was born in October of 1959. He was a 1980 graduate of Northwestern University with a major in Philosophy, Phi Beta Kappa. He received his Doctorate of Medicine from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1984. He practiced anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins for 11 years. He is survived by his wife Anne and his sons Aaron, Abram and Andrew. His son Alec passed away from cancer at age 16. He worked at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.”

“Dr. Feldman was a candidate for the Libertarian presidential nomination this year. His campaign was one of the most inspirational in the field as a result of his sincerity, warmth, messaging, and his closing statement during the Libertarian National Convention’s final presidential debate.”

http://thelibertarianrepublic.com/dr-marc-allan-feldman-was-thatkindoflibertarian/

 

Dr. Mary J. Ruwart

Ruwart

“Dr. Mary J. Ruwart is a research scientist, ethicist, and a libertarian author/activist. She received her B.S. in biochemistry in 1970 and her Ph.D. in Biophysics in 1974 (both from Michigan State University).  She subsequently joined the Department of Surgery at St. Louis University and left her Assistant Professorship there to accept a position with The Upjohn Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1976.  As a senior research scientist, Dr. Ruwart was involved in developing new therapies for a variety of diseases, including liver cirrhosis and AIDS.

Dr. Ruwart left Upjohn in 1995 to devote her time to consulting and writing. Her communications course for scientists (www.speakingforscientists.com), covering written, oral, and poster presentations has received high praise from attendees. She also provides consulting services for nutraceutical companies, clinical research organizations, and universities.

Between 2003 and 2006, Dr. Ruwart was an adjunct Associate Professor of Biology at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.  During that time, she served with the Center for Applied and Professional Ethics, designing a medical research ethics course for the University.  Her radical application of ethics to medical regulation, especially regulations regarding pharmaceuticals, has life-and-death-implications.”

“Mary J. Ruwart, Ph.D. Dr. Mary J. Ruwart is a research scientist, ethicist, and a libertarian author/activist. She has worked extensively with the disadvantaged in low-income housing and was a contender for the 2008 Libertarian Party Vice-Presidential nomination. Her scientific, political, and community activities have been profiled in several prestigious biographical works, including American Men and Women of Sciences, World’s Who’s Who of Women, International Leaders in Achievement, and Community Leaders of America.”

Healing Our World: The Compassion of Libertarianism

 

Dr. Keith Smith

Dr. Keith Smith

“Dr. Keith Smith, co-founder and managing partner of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, took an initiative that would only be considered radical in the healthcare industry: He posted online a list of prices for 112 common surgical procedures. The 51-year-old Smith, a self-described libertarian, and his business partner, Dr. Steve Lantier, founded the Surgery Center 15 years ago, after they became disillusioned with the way patients were treated at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, where the two men worked as anesthesiologists. In 1997, Smith and Lantier bought the shell of a former surgical center with the aim of creating a for-profit facility that could deliver first-rate care at a fraction of what traditional hospitals charge.”

Oklahoma Doctors vs. Obamacare

 

Dr. Kyle Varner

varner

“Dr. Kyle Varner practices hospital medicine in Washington State and Maine. He earned his BA from St. John’s College, his MD from American University of Antigua College of Medicine, and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

He has been a member of the Libertarian Party since 1999 and currently serves as the treasurer of the Libertarian Party of Hawaii. He has spoken at events around the United States promoting health care freedom.”

Libertarian Solutions for the Health Care Crisis

 

Joshua James, Founder, CEO,
& Industry Consultant of James Healthcare

james

“Joshua owes his life to chemotherapy and innovations in modern medicine. Joshua founded a healthcare marketing LLC and co-founded telemedicine provider networks in Texas and Nevada. His network and LLC are focused on veteran transitions of care and the growing population of those in need of social, mental, and medical intervention/supervision. He is building a virtual privatized healthcare system for veterans and civilians alike. He apprenticed beside his father, a pharmacist and former Bexar County Pharmacy Association president. He has a background as a pharmacist intern at the Cancer Research & therapy Center in San Antonio, TX. Joshua has extensive experience as compounding pharmacist intern at a regional independent pharmacy system. Joshua has a compassion for veterans and their success in transitions of care.”

“JJHC is devoted to innovative healthcare, development of original brands, marketing solutions, and networking opportunities, while focusing on veterans affairs, telemedicine, and transitions of care. JJHC is facilitates a Voluntary Provider Network (VPN). Clients and providers communicate through a mutually convenient, HIPAA credentialed interface. Our network of providers work in an outcomes focused, collaborative, free market, voluntary, and affordable environment. JJHC offers contemporary marketing, through a variety of resources. If you would like to grow your practice and network with providers from various areas of practice; JJHC has a solution for you.”

http://www.jameshealthcare.com/

 

Republicans historically have been known to support free-market health care, but surely as we see their representatives compromising their principles, we also see their member registrations decreasingHowever, Libertarian Party member registrations are increasing and Libertarian representatives have championed a free-market health care system consistently.

Democrats have been known to support legalizing decisions which have negative consequences, but again, as we see their member registrations decreasing we simultaneously see their representatives compromising their principles. On the other hand, Libertarian representatives have championed legalizing personal decision-making across the board. The LP has remained true to its principles in both self-ownership and healthcare freedom.

 

In liberty,

-Travis

 

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Meet The LNC Vice Chair Candidates

28170134_10160136463170595_185820210_o

The Feldman Foundation recently hosted a debate featuring the candidates running for the upcoming LNC Vice Chair position. They offered a series of 10 questions to see where they stand on several issues. We at Ask A Libertarian sent that same list of questions, offering each candidate the opportunity to consider their thoughts and respond accordingly. The following pages include their replies along with a brief bio.

Much like the team at Ask A Libertarian, The Feldman Foundation’s goal is to “Immerse liberty into the American political system.” Their mission is “to impact the political realm with engagement, resources, training, ground efforts and strategy toensure legislation is repealed which does not align with a free America.”

Ask A Libertarian is a team of volunteers who strive to provide a quality platform for libertarians to engage with libertarians and non-libertarians alike, to spread the message of liberty while keeping the public informed of libertarian values, principles, and current events within the party.

We present Mr. Alex Merced, Mr. Arvin Vohra, Mr. James Weeks II, Mr. Joe Hauptmann, Mr. Joe Paschal, and Mr. Steve Sheetz.

Why Marx Was (Almost) Right

marxwrong

Kris Morgan 1/25/18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Helping The Poor: Markets vs. Charity and Welfare

markets

Kris Morgan 1/15/18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Bruce Lee: Liberty’s Dragon

lee

Kris Morgan 8/5/17

There is no shortage of characteristics to admire about Bruce Lee. His physical abilities were almost superhuman, his ambition was off the charts, he was a talented actor, and he was intellectually brilliant. It seems the only influence unrecognized is the mark he made on what libertarians call individualism. I’d like to spread understanding on what we mean by individualism by paying a small tribute to The Dragon.

Bruce Lee is best known for his physical attributes. His combination of amazing speed, strength, and skill as a Martial Artist was nothing short of phenominal. Even his ability as a Cha Cha dancer paid off, having once bartered lessons in dancing in exchange for Kung Fu training from a master. Lee learned so quickly the instructor was never able to collect. His success making movies is equally impressive. After making The Way Of The Dragon and setting a new Hong Kong Box Office record, Warner Brothers produced Enter The Dragon.  

While his accomplishments in film earned him the place as Hong Kong’s Star of the Century and a spot on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, it is his work as a philosopher that boosted his status to legendary. Not only did it pave the way for Mixed Martial Arts, but it also made him a hero in our pursuit of individual liberty.  

What is not revealed in his movies is that in spite of his physical abilities, and against the advice he was given from family and friends, Bruce Lee was a philosophy major. From 1961-1964 he attended the University of Washington, supporting himself by teaching Martial Arts, working as a waiter, and living in an apartment above a restaurant. Six years later, before he rose to stardom, he sustained an injury to his back that put him in a bed for six months. For a man as active as he, this was torture. Bruce fell into depression at times, but was able to get much mental labor done. He spent his time incorporating philosophy into Martial Arts before he planned his own recovery.

His philosophy of Martial arts that can be summed up using his most famous quote:

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

He was speaking of Martial Arts during the interview, and his message was a Martial Artist should be spontaneous, ready to react to changing circumstances. This is in contrast to the view that Martial Arts is all about finding a form to copy. He thought that what truly matters is self expression.

What Bruce Lee did for Martial Arts is what Austrian economists seek to do for economies. In the same way Lee didn’t want style to dominate the way people approach combat, Austrians believe that governments suffocate individual preferences, which inevitably leads to misallocation of resources.

As consumer demand changes, decisions regarding production have to adapt. The fewer barriers producers have to overcome, the quicker resources can be allocated. When circumstances are always changing, spontaneity is the only method capable of meeting demand consistently. Lee’s ideas about the individual being more important than systems and styles reflects exactly what libertarians believe.

While it’s true that studying his life as a fifteen year old boy didn’t influence my political views at the time, years later I found myself as a member of the Army, just as President Bush decided to invade Iraq. Nobody around me had any serious thoughts as to whether the war was right or wrong. To even ask the question earned you a look of disapproval. The only thinker I had taken an interest in at that point was Bruce Lee; so what would he have done?  

After reflecting upon his individualist philosophy in Martial Arts, I began following politics seriously for the first time. After witnessing lack in consistency in the official reasons for the invasion, I realized it woud be impossible to know whether or not the war was justified, and trust in our politicians had vanished. That was not enough for me. I left the Army in a bit of disgust when my contract was up. Without Bruce’s influence I most likely would have been reamined in the military.

Rulers fear the idea of a population willing to objectively observe what they say and do.

As HL Mencken put it, “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.”

 

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Who’s A Hero?

hero

Kris Morgan  9/30/17

With all the discussion about players in the NFL kneeling during the national anthem, and our nation’s endless pursuit of war in the Middle East, the word hero is spoken daily. What is not discussed is what actually makes a person heroic. We have vague impressions pertaining to the topic, such as protecting others from danger and saving lives, but we have nothing philosophically concrete.

This lack of a solid standard makes it possible for people throughout all walks of life to claim the title hero, and makes us susceptible to making errors. Calling the wrong people hero opens the door to a significant amount of heinous deeds. Determining who true heroes are requires us to first examine moral behavior and its roots.

Defining moral actions demands we look at humanity at its beginning stages. Unfortunately, we are a few hundred-thousand years too late. However, we can imagine 20 people in a lifeboat landing on the deserted island of Moraltopia. Each of the 20 realizes they are in the same set of circumstances. They are limited in their knowledge and abilities, and can only perform one task at a time. Each needs food, shelter, and water in order to survive. Under these circumstances each person must make efficient use of time, energy, and resources.

Let’s assume the 20 people divide into four groups of five; group one searches for food, two fresh water, three builds a shelter, and four gathers firewood and makes rope. Suppose everything runs smoothly until Hurricane George strikes and destroys the shelter. Frustrated the structure could not stand, each member vows to build their own. While other members are working alone, two decide they are going to steal one of the structures being built.

After spending the day searching for food, one of the gatherers returns to sealed doors. He organizes the other inhabitants of Moraltopia and tells his tale. After much debate, it is concluded the offenders undermined his attempts at survival. The victim had built the dwelling with his own hands, on his own time, using his own energy, for his own ends. By seizing it for themselves, the thieves achieved material gain at the expense of the rightful owner. The small tribe of 18 decides to excommunicate the two criminals.

They declare it a universal rule: any interactions between inhabitants undertaken without the consent of all parties is wrong and met with ostracism. Ostracism is the best they can do with their small and primitive group.

With a basic concept of right and wrong, it is prudent to determine what makes behavior heroic. The standard for heroism surpasses that of basic morality. Rather than simply not committing an act of force, theft, or fraud, heroes protect people from those who fail to exercise the same self-restraint. In short, they get between predators and potential prey. This is the stated goal of government. However, that is not always the case.

The primary functions of authority include passing, enforcing, and interpretig laws. These laws normally begin as social customs which become codified. The basis of law is not limited to moral or heroic behavior. Hence it follows that anyone willing to carry out the will of the state cannot be defined as a hero. Enforcing laws that are designed to control others puts our system in the role of the criminal.  

Military members and police officers are the most common government agents we call heroes.  Neither role meets the criteria, as noted above. The task of a police officer is to enforce laws. While few of these laws include the aforementioned standard of protecting others, most do not. It may be true that some laws and officers protect others, a person cannot be both hero and villain simultaneously. The same dilemma befalls our military.

While we find it necessary to have a protective force to defend from aggressors abroad, armies all over the world regularly target civilian populations. The United States ended the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Japan at the end of World War II, in recent times accepted credit for 500,000 children dying due to sanctions, and ruined the genetic makeup of the city of Fallujah. Defining incidents such as these as necessary or collateral does not erase them from our permanent records. Clearly, taking the oath to obey orders, regardless of how destructive, does not make one a hero.

When we define evil as being necessary and acceptable to sustain our society, we destroy all hope for heroism. This is not to say brave men and women do not perform singular heroic acts, but coercing others cannot be part of one’s persona to be labeled as a hero. Government control of security and justice does to heroism what the welfare state does to prosperity. The more we get, the more it fades away. We can see it. We have the potential for it, but our actions are blocked off by a glass ceiling, making it unattainable.

When justice is our highest goal, our standards ought to be as high as possible. While we rightfully associate positive personality traits with the military and police, such as bravery and loyalty, they are not heroes. They agree to use force against others at the government’s will, regardless of whether their targets are actually threatening or harming anyone. When we glorify these roles, we say anyone who harms or kills others is a hero, so long as it’s for the government.

It may ease the reader’s mind to understand that this author is an Army Veteran, with a family history of military service, who once pursued a career in criminal justice. However, we all have a duty to ourselves and each other to be seekers and speakers of truth. The truth is that harming innocent people under the cloak of helping innocent people is not worthy of the hero label.

 

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