Betrayal Of The American Media

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Kris Morgan, September 6, 2017

I know everyone loves their right to bear arms, but freedom of the press is first in America’s Bill of Rights.  The right to bear arms exists for the instance that our government becomes unbearable. Freedom of speech is designed to stop tyranny from forming.  The late Former President John F. Kennedy articulated the importance of the press on April 27, 1961 when he addressed the profession directly, stating:

 
“…And that is why our press was protected by the first amendment.  The only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution– not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply give the public what it wants–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion… And so it is to the printing press, to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news, that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be, free and independent.”  

 
Media today is certainly not focused on being watchdogs of government overreach.  Instead we have what we all know to be the liberal media and conservative media. Deep down we know we are getting a spin, but hope that the effects are negligible and the facts are solid.   We are in the midst of an anti-intellectual movement that is powered by these left/right biases. Conservatives and liberals tend to stick to their own sides in media consumption. As a result, each thinks the other nothing short of pure evil.  

 
This observation was echoed by Mediaite when they published the following in an article: “Most of those who get their news only from Fox News, Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity & Breitbart.com think Donald Trump is a savior who is certain to win (the 2016 election) and that Hillary Clinton is the anti-Christ [sic].  Almost everyone who only consumes the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, NPR & The Huffington Post are sure the opposite is true.”

 
These attitudes stop intellectual discourse before it even starts.  How can people with differing points of view possibly have a productive conversation if they each go in thinking of the other person as the devil?

According to Business Insider, as of 1983, 90% of everything we read, hear, and see is owned by just six corporations.  Prior, it took 50 companies to make that same market share. This is important because it’s much easier to manipulate a handful of companies than 50.  The lack of diversity in mainstream media is most visible when government wants war.

 
On the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Howard Kurtz (CNN) reflected on the beginnings of the war and wrote “Major news organizations aided and abetted the Bush administration’s march to war on what turned out to be faulty promises.  All too often, skepticism was checked at the door, and the shaky claims of top officials and unnamed sources were trumpeted as fact… From August 2002 through the March 19, 2003 launch of the war, I found more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq.”  

 
While we do appreciate people like Mr. Kurtz writing such pieces years later, the damage is done.  War is the first example used in this essay, but the media’s weakness is not limited there. How economic circumstances are reported is also not entirely factual.

 
Matthew Stein of the Huffington Post opened an article on the 2007 financial collapse with criticism of the free market.  “Unregulated greed will result in the demise of our planet just as surely as it is causing the collapse of our economy.”  Indeed, there is always a tendency to blame free markets for all economic woes and praise government for economic boons. That is to be expected when the two major parties are products of Keynesian economics.  For a market to be free, all levels of government (Federal, State, and Local) have to restrict their actions to   the protection of private property. No economy riddled with regulations, taxation, fiat currency, central banking, wars, uncertainty about those in power, a welfare state, etc. can be said to be free.  It makes absolutely no sense to blame that which doesn’t exist.

 
Before 2007, for about two decades, the central bankers at the Federal Reserve and politicians alike specifically focused on giving cheap credit in the housing sector.  In essence, they inflated a bubble that was certain to burst. Credit and interest rates are reflections of assets on hand and time-preference.  Using politics to control interest rates obscures the information entrepreneurs use to gauge how many resources are available and where to invest.  It’s easier to spend $100 in your wallet if you think you have $1,000 in the bank. What happens when you spend that money, only to realize later that your account is also empty?  Free Market? You might as well blame space aliens, at least then it might be possible.

 
When I was younger I dutifully watched the news.  I believed I was staying informed about the world.  However, I later realized I was exposing myself to story after story of some evil crime taking place; people harming their own babies, shootings, robberies, assaults, etc.  After years of studying economics, philosophy, politics, logic, etc. I came to the conclusion that the media is nothing more than the watchdog of the people. Rather than keeping an eye on government acquiring unjust power, the news seems more interested in running negative stories that originate in the general public, almost as a reminder of why we ‘need’ the state.

When politics is involved, reporters seem to act like starving dogs at a dinner table, waiting for their masters to offer up any extra crumbs, begging our politicians to answer a question or provide a comment, so they can simply repeat it.  This is not the media JFK spoke about in his brilliant speech.  I am not alone in this observation.  The Guardian published an article explaining some of the negative effects of consuming too much news as well as the impotence of the media in explaining how the world actually works.

 
Although much more could be written on this topic, I think it would be more productive to start brainstorming what changes we can make.  The news gives us information about events taking place and provides us with some hard facts. However, when we dive into any analyses that requires serious thought, such as economics or whether or not to support wars, we have to research these topics in detail.  It is irresponsible to use sound-bites from biased media to make long-lasting decisions. Don’t be afraid to study opinions that contradict your own. Most people stick to media and explanations that reflect their own assumptions about the world.  We are all prone to this behavior. Opening ourselves up to the possibility that we are wrong, or have been taught incorrectly by people we love and trust, creates uneasiness.  Rather than put our first instincts to the test as we should, we tend to associate with people who echo our own bias.

 
The world, with its nuclear weapons and tools for economic manipulation, cannot afford to be ruled by people who are not willing to step outside their comfort zones.  Spotting our biases is not hard. Simply ask yourself why you believe X, and if you don’t have evidence and logic in your answer, then your stance is based on assumption.  Ask yourself why others believe the opposite you do. Study their literature. Converse with those of varying viewpoints. Leave the “anyone who disagrees with me is the devil” stuff at home.  While there are exceptions to every rule, for the most part we all want the same things, to be physically and financially secure and have long, happy, and productive lives. It may be more beneficial in debate, especially on social media, to determine if you and the other person share the same values before you begin.  

 
I presented this article for two major reasons.  First, libertarianism takes a great deal of abstract reasoning to fully grasp, which is why we are so often painted as people who want the poor to die off and everyone else to shoot up heroin.  Second as long as we let the news control us, by feeding us constant streams of negativity which make us fearful, we lose domestically and we lose internationally. We cannot expect to make sound decisions when we are driven by anxiety.   When our population digs deep and pushes back against this news lead anti-intellectualism we will get on track towards real virtue.

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The Why of Government

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Kristopher Morgan, July 13, 2017

It’s a question every libertarian faces at some point in our lives.  The origins of governments as they exist today, in the form of the state (a monopoly of legitimate coercion), are important to understand if we are ever going to break this vicious cycle.  We can gain an intuitive understanding of how governments were first formed by looking at the evolution of man and the formation of history’s earliest civilization.  The journey begins before the arrival of modern man.

 

Who We Were Before

We have all heard the scientific name Homo Sapiens, but you may be unaware that Homo Sapiens evolved from an earlier form of man called Homo Erectus.  As can be guessed, the name signifies the first time the genus could stand upright.  Existing around two million years ago up to about 200,000 years ago, not only were they taller than their predecessors, their brains were around 50% greater in volume (still only 60% that of modern man). Their large brains gave them the capacity to cook with fire and make tools.  As Homo Erectus gained more intelligence and used more tools, modern man was ready to make an appearance, as what we call a Neanderthal.

Neanderthals not only used tools and controlled fire, they also buried their dead and may have had language.  They lived in what is referred to today as a nuclear family, and even took care of others who were too sick to care for themselves.  Their diets consisted of meat, cooked vegetables, and they occasionally engaged in cannibalism.  Brutish as they seem to have been, and dumb as portrayed, it is believed that breeding with their evolutionary superiors is what lead to their extinction.  Modern man has only been on the scene for the last 30,000 – 50,000 years.  

The human brain thrives when stress is reduced, so it’s likely as man learned to use tools and become more productive, stress over survival was reduced and intelligence gained.  People today will hopefully never know what it’s like to have to resort to cannibalism as a means of survival… but what we can do is imagine the amount of stress that might cause a person to feel.  Before civilizations could rise, farming had to be learned in the area of food production.  As hunter-gatherers learned to farm land, modern civilization formed.  Before examining humanity’s earliest civilizations, we should know something about what conditions were like just before.

 

Pre-Civilization

Prior to farming, our ancestors survived as hunter-gatherers.  Since people traveled in groups of about twelve, decisions were made on the basis of consensus.  Each small group was part of a “clan” that consisted of about a hundred adults.  There were elders who were seen as wise, or even mystical, but they didn’t have authority the way we think of it today.  They were merely trusted to know what is best.  These societies, existing between 10,000bc to present, are the closest thing we know of that could be considered a voluntaryist egalitarian society. All food and resources are shared equally out of a sense of equal needs and social justice. In such small groups, where everyone needs food and everyone labors fairly equally, who has the right to more than others? Eventually hunter-gatherers realized seeds are what make plant food grow, and accrued the idea of farming.

 

Farming And The Dawn of Civilization

The discovery of farming methods, as well as the domestication of animals, is what lead to civilization.  Farming makes it possible for large groups of people to remain in one place and settle, rather than roam the land searching for food.  The first place to achieve civilization was called Mesopotamia, around 3300bc; a land we refer to today as Iraq.  This was roughly 5,500 years ago, and again, modern man has existed for 30,000 – 50,000yrs.  Mesopotamian government was as one today might expect; a series of city-states owned by Gods with the inhabitants subject to their will.  Distribution of food and resources came from the temple itself, located at the center of the city, where the farmers and craftsmen worked.  

 

The Go-Between

There seems to be very little written about what exactly happened when societies began farming and civilizations formed.  Drawing on what has been presented about hunter-gatherer values, as well as some basic facts about the forming of Ancient Mesopotamia, some logical conclusions can be made.

Farming had to have been first discovered by a few, while other hunter-gatherer tribes continued to search for food.  In fact, according to the timemaps article referenced above, the coming together of civilization “is the result of gradual steps taken over hundreds, even thousands, of years, and only appears to arrive fully formed as written records begin to shed their light”.  Writing came about around 3,500bc but civilization itself may have been established as early as 5,000bc, a 1,500 year gap.  While gathering crops, the gatherers may have come across farms and, not understanding the principles of farming, helped themselves.  The farmers, on the other hand, were finally beginning to produce enough food to eat and survive comfortably.  They had to protect their food from the gatherers.  The only two means to do this would have been peaceful or violent, and we must keep in mind the stress levels early farmers still felt living on subsistence.  Since governments today use violent means to enforce law, we shall turn our attention there.

By violent means, farmers would have repelled intruders on their land.  Rather than opening up the farm for others to join, they would have been upset and fought off the looters.  The likelihood of this method being preferred would become greater the bigger society grew.  Hunter-gatherers often spent their entire lives never meeting another person outside their clan, so it’s likely their ability to sympathize, and therefore behave peacefully, didn’t extend to those beyond their own.

To take on the task of securing the farmland, the bigger and stronger of the population may have been offered food (among other incentives) in exchange for security; an early system of barter.  As farms grew and networked with other farms, the possibility that during periods of low yield, due to circumstances such as famines, climate changes, droughts, etc. some farmers were unable to pay their share of food to those in charge of security.  The security force (hungry, scared, and angry) would have outed such farmers for not paying their fair share, resulting in the rest having to give more; the birth of what we call taxation.  From this point the dots are easy to connect.  Realizing that security forces could be used to make an easier living, the meaning of security could be manipulated the same way it is today.  Including ways that make people believe aggression is security and security alone is just isolationism.  Everything else governments do has been brought about in the same way, politics, and through the same tool, fear.

However accurate this narrative on the formation of governments may be, we still have to wonder why it persists.  Surely modern man and modern society have outgrown our barbaric roots, so what gives?  Well, it turns out we may not be as smart as we think. Though, we are making progress.

 

Why It Continues

As we know, governments have been part of the human experience for almost 7,000 years, since Ancient Mesopotamia.  They began during a time when the world may have been more Hobbesian than we realize, as stress levels were very high due to subsistence.  Today we have far more than we need, which gives humanity the extra time it takes to ask serious questions about the nature of our governments.  Our emotional styles have also moved towards less anxiety, which makes it possible for us to think more clearly and be more accepting of peaceful government.

We have much to overcome intellectually.  The creative use of language noted above has evolved to what we now call propaganda.  In politics, this is what is winning the day; emotionally charged rhetoric designed to excite and feed off fear.  We have news feeds, videos, and pictures that are used by our rulers to make the emotional case for their actions.  Our children are taught politically correct history, in which our government is portrayed as society’s saviour.  Spending our formative years learning such things and pledging our allegiance to “the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands” is all that is needed to lock most people in the statist mindset for their entire lives.  Consider that empiricism itself is only a few hundred years old.

Should people try to break free of their training and be objective, there is a natural psychological barrier holding them back called cognitive dissonance.  When they are faced with information that contradicts their current beliefs, they have a natural need to defend their present beliefs against others.  Dissonance stems from a need for consistency and certainty, which we all have, and it should not be underestimated.  The scientific community has a system of peer review that sprung up naturally in large part due to confirmation bias, a product of dissonance.  We accept and absorb information that confirms what we already believe.  Anyone not aware of this phenomena runs the risk of closing themselves off to ideas that might be more logically consistent and empirically valid.

Conclusions

Governments formed when hunter-gatherers first learned to farm.  They had to have a way of protecting their crops from other hunter-gatherers who had not yet learned the skill.  Those in charge of protecting the farm didn’t have time to grow crops as well, so an early form of barter was established, food for security. Some realized life might be easier in the ranks of security.  During famines and other low yield times, security forces would have used public pressure to gain food from those refusing to pay what they agreed.  Other farmers wanting security for their land would have either gave extra food or joined in in pressuring those who didn’t pay.  This would be the launching pad for taxation.

We still have governments today for a variety of reasons.  Not only have they been a part of life since the first civilizations were formed, not only do we experience dissonance when challenged with the very idea that governments are evil by their nature, but parenting, that is the shaping of future generations, is riddled with barbarism.  The granting of human rights to children is a relatively new concept in the history of parenting.  Lloyd Demause covers the history of parenting and it’s effects on countries in “The Emotional Life of Nations”, a book that is a crucial read for anyone wanting to know how the family ties in to what form of government we create.  We all hear about genetics and nurture, but rarely does anyone mention the phrase psychogenics.

There are steps we can all take to create a better future.  As parents, we can look at embracing parenting techniques that keep our children with a positive emotional style.  Non-parents, please don’t operate under the assumption that the job of the parent is to control their kids so you don’t get annoyed.  All adults can take steps, such as meditation or therapy, to improve our own emotional styles.  The government we have is often a reflection of the overall emotional state we are in.  In short, as Mother Teresa put it, “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.”

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The McDonald’s Standard: A Guide for Determining The Legitimate Role of Government

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Kristopher Morgan, May 23, 2017

We all have things we would like to see humanity do, whether we want to feed the poor, move towards clean energy, protect endangered species, scientific research, or setting floors on wages.  We all like to believe that passing a law is akin to waving some magic wand that simply makes things better. We get ourselves into trouble when we consider the reality of the situation;  there is no wand.  When we realize passing and enforcing new laws means making criminals out of more and more people, we have to choose responsibly.

Coming to a balanced belief system as to what the proper place of government in society takes an immense amount of study into the social sciences, history, political economy, ethics, philosophy, etc.  This can be extremely time-consuming… fortunately there are shortcuts to answering most questions pertaining to the proper role of government.  I call one of them the ‘McDonald’s Standard.’  The method is very simple: Clarify what action the government is taking and ask yourself “how would I feel if McDonald’s were doing this?”  Here are a few examples to demonstrate how it works.

  1. Taxation.  On one hand, we are threatened with fines and jail time if we do not pay taxes.  On the other hand, those taxes pay for services such as roads.  Let’s imagine that McDonald’s decided to use the same business model.  McDonald’s decides to provide every resident within a 1mi radius with a Big Mac.  McDonald’s then decides that they will collect money from all residents, and those who decline simply get locked in a room on McDonald’s property.  Is food not a vital service?
  2. Welfare programs.  On one hand, they are paid for through taxation, on the other hand poor people benefit from them.  So, let’s imagine McDonald’s decides that they’re going to send their employees in a neighborhood, armed with tasers, guns, and clubs, and they collect money from some residents to give to others (while keeping about 80% for themselves!).  What would we think about McDonald’s?
  3. War.  On one hand, evil do-ers really should be taken out of power.  On the other hand, innocent people die in government wars.  So, let’s imagine a McDonald’s employee tracks a criminal into a Burger King bathroom, right after taking from the BK cashier’s drawer.  The McDonald’s employee then proceeds to blow up the entire Burger King restaurant to get this criminal.  Does this person get to claim all the other people inside the Burger King were simply collateral damage?

Now I know someone out there is going to say something along the lines of: “of course we don’t expect McDonald’s to take on the same role as the government ya dope!  McDonald’s doesn’t have a Constitution, and we don’t elect politicians to operate McDonald’s like we do the government.  We don’t expect these things from them because they’re not the government!”

This line of reason is exactly why I am writing this article.  What we are actually talking about is government legitimacy, so let’s examine the reasons people believe government has it.

1. The government represents the people through voting.  Their job is to carry out the will of the people they represent.

  • False.  All governments operate via law and enforcement thereof.  So what that means is the first thing politicians assume is that they do not have your consent.  If they had your consent, there would be no need to use law enforcement measures.  Also, the idea that some bureaucrat you have never met before can accurately take your conscience and values into account when making decisions… come on…

2. The government is an entity on its own charged with the task of running society.

  • False.  The government is a collection of human beings.  Society is not a machine that needs an operator, but rather a collection of people.  If no human being has the moral right to use force against another, then the government can’t possibly have it.  Morality for McDonald’s doesn’t change if they change their name to McGovernment!

3. The government derived its power to use force from the consent of the people.

  • False.  If nobody has the power to use force against others to begin with, nobody could have possibly given that power to the government.  Giving one’s consent to others to use force against themself is a contradiction in terms.

This list could grow exponentially, but I hope the point is clear.  Governments are nothing more than groups of people, same as any other, whether it’s a business, a family, a charity, a community watch group, etc.  It doesn’t have to be McDonald’s necessarily, but before you support anything any government does, ask yourself “what if someone else in society were doing the same thing? How would that make me feel?”  Because let’s face it:  most of us spent our formative years pledging allegiance to the flag and learning politically correct/tainted history.  By projecting government actions onto parties we feel neutral about, we can overcome these biases.

 

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