July 19, 2019

Thank God the 4th of July is over

TAMPA, July 5, 2013 – Thank goodness the 4th of July is over. For those who believe in freedom, it has become unbearable.

On July 4th, 1776, a written document codifying the resolution passed two days earlier was approved by Congress. It declared to the whole world that thirteen of Great Britain’s colonies were seceding from the union. The document stated the Lockean principles upon which the decision was based and then listed the reasons why secession was necessary.

The modern U.S. government is far worse than George III’s. Today’s Americans not only fail to object, but celebrate its depravity.

Unqualified worship of the military is the most obvious example. Throughout human history, standing armies in times of peace have been the most recognizable characteristic of tyranny.

The 21st-century U.S. government and media invites Americans to thank the military for what little freedom they have left. Despite the complete absence of any cause-effect relationship between U.S. military adventures and the smattering of freedom Americans retain, they enthusiastically comply.

And where is this freedom the government supposedly secured by invading Korea or Afghanistan?

The “irony of the flag-waving masses slouching along in airport lines toward their inevitable date with the total state so that they could celebrate their liberty and freedom” was not lost on Daniel McAdams, but likely is on most Americans. Just watch them laugh and joke with government agents who literally bark orders at them before searching them without probable cause or a warrant.

It’s not just the airport. Any clear-thinking person recognizes the various domestic police forces as an army of occupation, complete with body armor, assault weapons and tanks. Yet, most Americans believe there are not enough of these “swarms of officers to harass our people and eat their substance.” This despite the U.S. having the largest prison population in human history, twice the size of present-day China’s, China’s population being five times as large.

The Constitution assumes law enforcement officers cannot even be trusted to arrest the right person after he has committed a crime. It requires them to get written permission from a judge to do anything. That concept is completely lost on most Americans, who teach their children police officers are their friends and their orders should be obeyed, whether they have been directed by a judge to issue them or not.

The entire paradigm of police officers patrolling the streets and supposedly “preventing crime” is completely antithetical to the principles of 1776. As Anthony Gregory observes, “Although there was plenty to object to in colonial law and law in the early republic, police as we now know them didn’t exist back then.” Nevertheless, conservatives are this institution’s biggest proponents. These are the “small government” people.

The colonists complained that George III’s army was insulated “from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States.” William Grigg’s blog has documented thousands of examples of the very same tyranny in 21st-century America.

The Declaration cited “transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences” and “depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury.” That referred to trying American colonists in public courts in England, sometimes by a judge instead of a jury. Today, the U.S. government transports its subjects to secret prisons all over the world without even bothering to charge them with a crime.

Or, they might just decide to summarily execute you and save the time and trouble.

Modern Americans hold up as heroes the presidents who have helped build this Orwellian nightmare. They revere those who have presided over massive expansions of government power and took their country into hugely destructive and largely unnecessary wars, while dismissing those who presided over relatively free and peaceful periods as “postage stamps.”

Worse yet, they dutifully join the government’s propaganda machine in engaging in the “two minute hate” against Edward Snowden, uncritically parroting the government’s charges of treason, even though no reasonable person could believe what he did constituted “levying War against them [the United States – plural], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

Charged with the same crime George III charged Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin with, for resisting substantively the same tyranny, 21st-century Americans side with the government that spies on them, routinely lies to them, plunders their wealth, controls every aspect of their lives and kills hundreds of thousands of civilians in undeclared wars.

As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe observed, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

This has never been truer than in 21st-century America on the 4th of July. Thank God it’s over.

Libertarianism, anyone?

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Jury nullification, not a pardon for Edward Snowden

TAMPA, June 10, 2013 – The whistleblower who has risked his life and his freedom to expose the NSA’s domestic spying program has fled to Hong Kong. Caught red-handed violating one of the most fundamental limits on its power, codified in the Fourth Amendment, the federal government has responded predictably. It wants to prosecute its accuser.

While mainstream conservatives call for Hong Kong to extradite Snowden for trial, libertarian and civil libertarian groups have started a petition to get him pardoned. That’s the wrong solution.

Pardons are for people who have already been convicted. No jury with any sense of justice should allow that to happen.

Yes, there are plenty of laws that Edward Snowden probably broke, but as Thomas Jefferson famously said, “The law is often but the tyrant’s will.” Never was that truer than it is now.

You could also argue that Snowden broke a contract he entered into when accepting this employment and the security clearances that go with it. That’s probably true, but so did the federal government. It broke the contract known as the U.S. Constitution.

If the so-called “Justice Department” is successful in having Snowden extradited to the United States, he will have a jury trial. The jury will be instructed by a federal judge that their one and only responsibility is to weigh the facts and to determine whether there is sufficient proof that Snowden committed the acts alleged in the indictment. They will be instructed to consider nothing else in reaching a verdict. That leaves one question.

Who cares what the judge says?

Everyone on that jury will know why Snowden is being persecuted. It’s not like he sold defense secrets to a foreign enemy during a time of war. He told the American people about how their own government was spying on them. The juror who renders a guilty verdict in this case is betraying his country, not Edward Snowden.

At one time, juries were informed of their right to consider the justice of the law itself in addition to the facts of the case. If they believed they were being asked to convict a defendant of an unjust law, they were free to acquit the defendant.

They still are. They just aren’t told so by state or federal judges any more. That doesn’t change the fact that if a jury acquits Edward Snowden, there is absolutely nothing that the government can do about it. They can’t appeal a not guilty verdict. They can’t charge him again for the same crimes. The case is over and the people trump the government. That’s how it is supposed to work.

It’s equally important that there is no recourse against the jury, either. It’s not as if they can be prosecuted for rendering a verdict the government doesn’t like. Acquittal by a jury is as final as it gets. The government may try to drum up some other charges against the defendant, but they usually take their best shot first and the next jury could nullify as well.

The only question left is this: Are Americans so devoid of any sense of personal liberty, so completely brainwashed to obey authority without question that they would convict a man who has risked everything to defend their freedom?

I am calling on every eligible juror in America to take a stand right now. If you are called to serve on a jury for the trial of Edward Snowden, do not convict. I don’t care if he’s broken a thousand laws. We know what he did and why he did it. It is his accuser that needs to be put on trial, whether at the ballot box, in state assemblies or by other constitutional means. Let this government know that those who defend the U.S. Constitution against a government that violates it are safe in this country.

The line must be drawn here.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

NSA out of control: We the people at fault

TAMPA, June 6, 2013 – You can’t say the mainstream media went to sleep. Today, the front page of every major national news website is featuring reactions to Glenn Greenwald’s explosive report on the FISA court order that “requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.”

That means that the government is collecting information on every call made on Verizon’s service, regardless of probable cause or any suspicion that the parties have committed a crime. The Fourth Amendment was written specifically to prohibit this activity by the government. But they’re doing it, unapologetically.

The question is, what will this disturbingly subservient group called “We the People’ do about it?

It’s really time to stop making excuses. This has been duly reported by the media and it’s not like the people are powerless to do anything. When Congress first attempted to pass the infamous Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (a.k.a. the “Wall Street bailout”), angry calls from voters caused the bill to be defeated in Congress. For one, brief, shining moment, there was real fear of the people on the faces of our so-called “representatives.”

After President Bush emerged from weeks of virtual silence to deliver his “support this bailout or the world will end” speech, the tone of the calls moderated and Congress felt sufficiently comfortable to pass the bill the second time around (bluffed by George W. Bush – now that’s embarrassing).

Regardless, the episode clearly demonstrated that if even a significant minority of the population cares enough to at least make a call to their representatives, they can affect the behavior of the beast on the Potomac.

Unfortunately, they usually don’t. In fact, anyone concerned about the size, power or cost of the federal government who thinks that it is somehow acting “unconstitutionally” really needs a reality check.

True, most of what the federal government does today isn’t authorized by the powers delegated to it in the yellow piece of parchment. In theory, that means that the people never consented to the government exercising the power and therefore it is illegitimate, even illegal. But that’s not really what “constitutional” has meant for most of human history or even what it has meant in practice for most of U.S. history.

Aristotle wrote about “constitutional government” long before any written constitution was attempted. Thomas Paine began his famous treatise with “Concise Remarks on the English Constitution.” He was not referring to a written document that specifically delegated which powers the English government could exercise (Magna Carta did not do this). There was no written English constitution.

So what did these writers mean by “constitution?” They meant the general understanding of most people in those countries about what powers the government had and how they were allocated between the various branches.

That is what “constitution” and “constitutional” has meant for most of human history and it is really the only practical definition. The attempt to codify limits on the government’s power in a written document has been a complete failure. The government simply interprets the words however outlandishly necessary to do what they want and get their high priests in black robes to pronounce their scheme “constitutional.”

And it is constitutional if no one objects. That’s reality.

Using this definition, the historical growth of the $4 trillion federal monster has been completely constitutional. Not only has there been little objection by the people, but they have for the most part overwhelmingly supported each new usurpation. The Federal Reserve was passed with overwhelming public support, as was the Income Tax. FDR was elected four times, three after his technically unconstitutional “New Deal” was clearly promulgated and understood by the people.

Just watch your fellow Americans laugh and joke with TSA agents while having their persons and property searched without a warrant or probable cause, even while the government puts its hands on their children. That makes it “constitutional” in the true sense of the word, the Fourth Amendment notwithstanding.

Even the Patriot Act enjoyed popular support, for the most part. Yes, there was some noise about it from liberals, but for the most part only because a Republican Congress and president passed it. Want proof? Count the number of liberals besides Greenwald presently objecting to Obama doing the very same thing they wanted Bush impeached for. You can keep one hand in your pocket.

Those few libertarians, Old Right conservatives and civil libertarian progressives who are still concerned about freedom here in the “land of the free” have to face the reality of what we’re up against. It is not a government acting against the wishes of the people. It is the people themselves, who have traded liberty for security, whether personal or economic, at every opportunity.

As James Madison said, “Democracy is the most vile form of government.”

Libertarianism, anyone?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

When is Taxpayer Day?

TAMPA, May 27, 2013 ― Today is the tenth day since Armed Forces Day. Ten straight days of “thanking the troops,” supposedly for the freedom we enjoy because of the sacrifices they’ve made.

Something needs to be said. It probably won’t be popular, but I have a sinking feeling there are more than a few people who have entertained the same heretical thought I have:

I’m sick and tired of being invited to “thank the troops,” especially for my “freedom.”

There is no disrespect intended towards the families of anyone who has died in one of the government’s wars. The loss of a child, husband, father or mother is a tragedy, regardless of the circumstances.

Moreover, it is hard not to respect the kind of courage it takes to actually go into combat, regardless of the reasons one may have enlisted.

But thanks is quite another matter. Thanks assumes that we have enjoyed some benefit as a result. We’re told that “freedom isn’t free” and the benefit we enjoy is our liberty. That begs an obvious question.

What is the cause and effect relationship between any war the U.S. government has prosecuted, at least since WWII, and whatever relative freedom Americans have left? Are we freer because our government invaded Iraq? Viet Nam? Afghanistan? How?

Asking those same questions in reverse reveals the absurdity of the whole mantra. Obviously, we would not be less free if the government didn’t invade Korea. There is no chain of events that would have followed resulting in you and I being less free to express our opinions or practice our religion. In fact, exactly the opposite is true.

In every war the U.S. has fought, Americans have become less free, especially while the war was going on. Every war president has persecuted war protesters, from John Adams to George W. Bush. Wars have brought taxes, rationing and conscription. Worst of all, American society has become permanently more militarized and socialist (but I repeat myself) with each new war.

Some argue the U.S. government has fought wars for justice, liberating people in other countries or protecting them from evildoers. That may or may not be true, but it begs two more obvious questions:

How did the American taxpayer become financially responsible for the liberty and security of every soul on the planet? When will this responsibility end?

The answer to the first question is a mystery this writer has been unable to solve. The answer to the second is obvious: When all resources are exhausted and all productive capability has been eliminated. That is the end of all military empires.

The American people have truly forgotten what a free country looks like. Worst of all are “small government” Tea Partiers who literally worship the military. Despite all of their talk about the Constitution, one has to wonder if they have ever actually read it’s authors. James Madison wrote,

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Free people do not worship the military establishment. They are suspicious of it. At one time the average American would not tolerate the existence of a standing army in peacetime. At the conclusion of Shay’s rebellion, John Adams and the U.S. Congress tripped over each other trying to take credit for disbanding the army.

How times have changed.

This is not a utopian vision. We live in a world of nation states, many of which could pose a threat to our liberty and security. There is a need for the means to defend ourselves if another nation besides the United States actually did show aggression. However, the present military establishment is orders of magnitude larger than any free country could possibly need or should tolerate.

The U.S. military employs approximately 1.4 million people. There is a reasonable argument to be made that all ground troops could be eliminated, given our air, naval, missile and nuclear capabilities. But let’s say for argument that 10% should be kept to train others if war broke out.

The rest are just on another government program that gives them free college, free housing, a guaranteed job and a guaranteed pension.

Meanwhile, the Forgotten Man (or woman), the one who pays for all of this, is reviled. He is never thanked. He is only ever told that he does not pay enough. Yet, it is he who actually makes us free, not by paying taxes, but by producing the wealth from which taxes are confiscated. He makes us free by allowing us to pursue our happiness, thanks to the goods and services he provides that we would otherwise have to produce ourselves. It is he who makes “society in every state a blessing.”

When is Taxpayer Day?

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

IRS scandal nothing new: Targeting dissenters is bipartisan

TAMPA, May 16, 2013 ― The IRS targeting conservative groups for audits and enforcement actions is the latest scandal for a federal government that is so out of control that even the lapdog media are starting to sound libertarian while covering it. But targeting dissenters is nothing new and certainly not an innovation by the Obama administration. It is old as the federal government itself.

One does not have to go back as far as the Alien and Sedition Acts or Abraham Lincoln’s imprisonment of northern journalists who opposed the Civil War. One doesn’t even have to go outside the IRS. Just nine years ago, they were doing the exact same thing under Bush, going so far as to investigate a church because of an anti-war sermon which the agency said it “considered … to have been illegal.”

Ironically, for all of their talk about “small government” and “balanced budgets,” the tea party and patriot groups most recently victimized by the IRS are for the most part rabid supporters of American militarism. So, whether you’re pro-war or anti-war, you’re a candidate for predation, so long as you oppose any aspect of the federal monster.

Conservatives are obviously making this about Obama and Obama is doing his best to deflect blame, pointing out that the activity occurred while a Bush appointee was still IRS Commissioner. Sadly, most of the American public will likely jump on one bandwagon or the other and miss what is really important here.

This is the inevitable outcome of giving any government the kind of power that the federal government has, particularly the powers granted to the IRS. You cannot enforce an income tax without inviting the government into virtually every aspect of your life. Once there, it is going to defend itself against any attack, whether related to your tax liability or not.

Let’s not forget that one of the pillars of conservative attacks on Obamacare was the thousands of new IRS agents that would be necessary to enforce its individual mandate. Tea Party and Patriot groups were largely formed around opposition to this law.

That’s what pro-war conservatives in 2012 had in common with anti-war liberals in 2004. They opposed the growth of government: the addition of new government jobs and the increase in funding. Whether for a war or a healthcare program is really immaterial. The beast just wants to grow and when it encounters opposition it defends itself like any other organism.

If the American public wants to stop the federal government from laying waste to the entire country the way it did the City of Detroit, it has to stop taking the left/right, liberal/conservative bait. There are two sides to this struggle, but they are not liberal and conservative.

They are those who benefit from the parasitical federal government and those who are victimized by it. Both groups are populated by liberals and conservatives. Let’s not forget that the majority of the military establishment is just a right wing welfare program, for individuals and large corporations alike. And it’s not like there are no liberals among that 5% of the population that pays most of the taxes.

The federal government can’t be fixed by throwing the current bums out and replacing them with new ones. It is not a job for a monkey wrench or a surgeon’s scalpel. It is a job for a motivated public armed with sledgehammers.

Libertarianism, anyone?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Korean fiasco highlights U.S. foreign policy failures

TAMPA, April 9, 2013 – It would be the stuff of a Peter Sellers satireif there weren’t for nuclear weapons and 26,000 American troops needlessly in harm’s way. A tiny dictatorship that has to cook the books even to call itself “third world” has the world’s “lone superpower” dancing on a string. It is a fitting tribute to 100 years of U.S. foreign policy failure.

When you invade and occupy a country, it almost always ends badly, as the British found out before the United States and Napoleon found out before them. Napoleon’s exploits in Spain are particularly instructive in understanding the U.S. government’s boondoggle in Iraq.

But it is only after you have got yourself stuck somewhere for 60 years that costly and tragic turns to ridiculous. Having unintentionally kept a multi-generational dictatorship in power by rallying its people around it, the U.S. finds itself outsmarted and outmaneuvered by a despot whose father might have suffered Il Duce’s fate if not for the continued presence of U.S. troops on North Korea’s border.

Read the rest of the article on Liberty Pulse…

More anti-libertarian nonsense: libertarianism failed African-Americans

TAMPA, April 6, 2013 ― If my colleague Chris Ladd had written the usual, libertarians-are-racists screed, it would be unworthy of a response. But he didn’t. In fact, his piece “How Libertarianism failed African Americans” is a thoughtful and philosophically consistent argument that clearly disclaims any accusation that libertarianism is inherently racist.

But it’s still nonsense. That it is eloquently stated makes it all the more harmful.

Ladd’s premise is that racism and Jim Crow presented libertarianism with a dilemma. Libertarians oppose all government interference with freedom of association and free markets, but blacks were being “oppressed” by the voluntary choices of white people not to serve them. Therefore, libertarians had to choose between staying true to their principles or supporting the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which meant granting the federal government the power to override private decisions.

Most libertarians don’t oppose most sections of the Act, which prohibit governments from discriminating. They oppose those sections which allow the federal government to prohibit private decisions based upon race. Ladd recognizes this distinction, claiming “African Americans repression rose not only from government, but from the culture and personal choices of their white neighbors.”

First, Ladd’s history is completely wrong. Like many conservatives and liberals, Ladd sees libertarianism as a subset of conservatism, an “extreme” version of the conservative philosophy which supposedly advocates a market economy. For him, libertarianism traces back only as far as Barry Goldwater and became an independent movement in the early 1970’s when anti-war conservatives formed the Libertarian Party.

Libertarianism does not follow at all from conservatism. It is the philosophical child of classical liberalism, which struck an uneasy alliance with conservatism during a few, short periods in the 20th century, after the liberal movement completely abandoned individual liberty. The so-called “Old Right” should really be called the “Middle Right,” because conservatism has meant bigger, more interventionist government for most of American (and world) history.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

Even libertarians wrong on Monsanto Protection Act

TAMPA, April 3, 2013 ― While the high priests in black robes were hearing arguments on gay marriage, President Obama quietly signed the continuing resolutions act that keeps the federal government operating in the absence of a budget. Buried inside the bill was language that has become notoriously known as “the Monsanto Protection Act.” The blogosphere exploded with cries of conspiracy, crony capitalism and corruption.

Liberals oppose the provision for the usual reasons: It lets a big corporation “run wild” without appropriate government oversight, free to (gasp!) make bigger profits on food. More thoughtful liberal arguments have suggested it may threaten the separation of powers by allowing the executive branch to override a decision by the judicial.

The lunatic fringe believes that Monsanto will control the world’s food supply through intellectual property laws and enslave us all, like the evil corporation did with oxygen in Total Recall. Of course, let’s not forget that old saying. “Just because I’m paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”

The liberal reaction to this bill and Monsanto’s activities in general is not surprising. It’s the libertarian reaction that’s surprising and disappointing. Even the Ron Paul crowd sounds like New Deal Democrats when it comes to this corporate farming giant.

They say that regardless of how much he supports the free market, everyone has that one issue that he is hopelessly socialist on. For some, it’s roads and so-called “infrastructure.” For others, it’s intellectual property. For Thomas Jefferson, it was education. Apparently, for libertarians it’s farming.

Now, if libertarians want to argue that corporations shouldn’t exist at all, that the privilege of limited liability violates individual rights and leads to market distortions, that regulating the markets only insulates large corporations from competition, that’s one thing. I’ve been there, written that.

But that’s not what libertarians are suggesting. Believe it or not, even supporters of Ron Paul are suggesting that new government regulations be passed requiring Monsanto to label its packaging to indicate whether there are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) among the contents. This is as unlibertarian as it gets.

There are legitimate concerns about whether GMOs represent a danger to the public. Certainly, each person has a right to refuse to consume them, but they don’t have a right to force Monsanto’s shareholders to label their own property. Neither do they have a right to interfere with consumers who voluntarily purchase that property from Monsanto without a label on it.

The libertarian answer is for those concerned about GMOs to refuse to purchase food that is not labeled to their satisfaction. The market already provides those alternatives. There is no substantive difference between the possible safety risks in Monsanto’s GMO food and those inherent in any other technology that legitimizes government regulation of voluntary activity. Either libertarians believe in the market or they don’t.

We’ve been told that the “Monsanto Protection Act” allows the executive branch to set aside court rulings, with the implication that the president or his Secretary of Agriculture can allow growers like Monsanto to keep growing and selling a particular product even after a judge orders them to stop. We’re led to believe that this would apply in a scenario where GMOs have been ruled to have caused death or illness and a court has ordered the grower to cease and desist to protect the public. But that’s not what the language says.

“SEC. 735. In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements …”

Section 411 of the Plant Protection Act deals with the regulation of “plant pests,” which are widely defined in the bill to include protozoans, bacteria, fungi, animals, and generic categories like “infectious agent or other pathogen.”

So, what are we really talking about here? A court case to determine if a regulation that shouldn’t even exist can be used to disrupt the otherwise legal operations of a company whose product has been identified by someone as a “plant pest.” Who would bring such a charge? Most likely a competitor or a left wing group that opposes and seeks to disrupt all for-profit activity. It’s Standard Oil and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act all over again.

Libertarians are usually good at separating their opposition to crony capitalism from their support of the free market. That’s why you’ll find them attacking large corporations one day and defending them the next.

That means that when corporations use the government for illegitimate advantages, as Monsanto has in seeking intellectual property rights in its GMOs, the libertarian response is to oppose intellectual property rights. It is not to empower the government to further regulate the market and violate property rights. If it is, then why was FDR and the New Deal wrong?

 
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

More anti-libertarian nonsense: Libertarians are heartless

TAMPA, March 28, 2013 – This week’s anti-libertarian nonsense is “libertarians are heartless.”

There are many variations on this theme. Libertarians oppose government-run education so they must not want poor people to get an education. They oppose government-run healthcare so they must want poor, sick people to die. They oppose government-subsidized housing so they must want poor people to be homeless, too (if they aren’t already). Libertarians are selfish, amoral…You get it.

Libertarians also oppose state religions, but no one claims libertarians are against religion. I wonder why? It seems to follow.

The people who make these claims don’t understand what libertarianism is and don’t really understand the nature of government or their relationship to it, either.

Libertarians do not object to you helping the poor. They merely object to you forcing someone else to help the poor.

Libertarianism answers only one question: When is violence or threatening violence justified? The libertarian answer is only in self-defense. That includes defending your life from an immediate attack upon it or defending yourself against a previous theft of property or other crime.

This is where libertarians face reality and their opponents don’t. Libertarians understand all government action is violent action. That’s not because people in the government aren’t doing it right. It’s because that is what government is designed to be. Violence is its raison d’etre.

The philosophical justification for government in a free society is security. Because humans will sometimes invade the life, liberty or property of their neighbors (whether next door or in another country), there has to be some adequate means to force the perpetrator to cease his criminal activity and make restitution to his victim.

Government is supposedly the answer. Government is the pooled capacity for violence of everyone in the community. That’s all it is. That’s why Thomas Paine based his entire treatise Common Sense on one fundamental assumption:

“Society in every state is a blessing but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one;”

Why an evil? Because it is an institution of violence, nothing more. This is a foundational American idea. It is the reason for the entire Bill of Rights. Government must not be allowed to suppress speech because offensive speech does not justify violence. Government may not prohibit the keeping and bearing of arms because merely possessing arms does not justify violence against the possessor.

When intolerable? When it is used to initiate force, rather than respond to it. If one individual steals from another, the victim has a natural right to point a gun at the thief and demand his property back. In society, the individual supposedly delegates this power and the government points the gun at the thief for him. Almost no one would consider this unjust.

But what if no crime has been committed? Suppose I knocked on your door and demanded money from you at gunpoint. Would you drop the charges against me if you found out I had taken your money and paid some anonymous stranger’s medical bills? Do you believe that is the best way for human beings to solve the problem that the stranger can’t afford to pay them?

Almost no one would answer either of those questions “yes.” Yet, there is absolutely no substantive difference between that scenario and a government-run healthcare program (or education, or housing…). The only superficial difference is a government official is holding the gun. But most Americans can’t see it and will actually argue with you that it isn’t there.

There is an easy way to find out. Simply refuse to cooperate. Deduct the amount you owe for Medicare from your tax return next month and include a note waiving any benefits from the program. Or deduct the amount of your property taxes that underwrite public education and Medicaid (which is most of the bill) and indicate you waive the right to utilize either.

What will happen next? You will get some “reminders” about the oversight in the mail, followed by increasingly threatening letters. Sooner or later, someone in a black robe will write on a piece of paper. Then, men with guns will show up at your door. Don’t believe me? Test my theory.

So what do libertarians really say that is supposedly selfish or amoral? That initiating force against people is wrong. Period. You are free to help other people who need it, but you cannot force your neighbors to do so under a threat of violence if they don’t. You may build schools and hospitals for the poor and ask for contributions for anyone you wish. You just can’t pull out a gun if they decline to participate.

At one time, Americans believed so strongly in this principle that they seceded from their country and formed a new one based upon it. Imagine if they reestablished it again.

Libertarianism anyone?

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Anti-libertarian nonsense: Those government roads

TAMPA, March 22, 2013 — Libertarians have to deal with a lot of nonsense when making their case. Invariably, if a libertarian suggests any reduction in the power of the state, he is regaled with this supposedly devastating rejoinder:

“So, I suppose I won’t see you driving on any of those government roads.”

There are many reasons to stomp on the stupid button. Here are just a few.

First, there is the implication that the libertarian is disingenuous or even ungrateful. He seeks to reduce the power and influence of the state, perhaps even (gasp!) lower taxes, yet still has the audacity to drive on the roads that the government provides.

This argument holds no water. After being forced to purchase a road whether he wishes to or not and being virtually prohibited from building his own, exactly why should the libertarian not use the road he has paid for? Where is the contradiction in pointing out that the government road he was forced to buy would have been cheaper and of higher quality if it were produced by the market? Exactly why is he disingenuous or ungrateful by suggesting that the next road be financed the same way as houses and factories?

Of course, if the government didn’t build the roads, they wouldn’t exist, right? The proponents of this farcical idea should read some American history. For much our first century, the chief domestic policy debate was over whether the government should be allowed to subsidize roads, and the government side lost. As Tom Dilorenzo writes in How Capitalism Saved America,

“But the fact is, most roads and canals were privately financed in the nineteenth century. Moreover, in virtually every instance in which state, local or federal government got involved in building roads and canals, the result was a financial debacle in which little or nothing was actually built and huge sums of taxpayer dollars were squandered or simply stolen.”

All of the heroes of that century were on the private road side. Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson argued against government-subsidized roads. Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay and finally Abraham Lincoln – the proponents of state capitalism and privileges for the wealthy – argued for them.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…