September 17, 2014

Why conservatives lost the gun control debate

TAMPA, March 18, 2013 – Conservatives believe they’ve won the gun control debate because they expect any new restrictions on gun ownership to be relatively minor. That doesn’t really jibe with their position that gun ownership was already too restricted before the Sandy Hook shootings, but that is the way things go in America. Both sides declare victory, the government gets a little bigger and more intrusive, and the next debate starts from there.

The underlying problem is that neither conservatives nor liberals truly believe in inherent, inalienable rights. Americans think conservatives do, but that doesn’t jibe with any of their arguments on gun control (or anything else). Conservatives believe that rights come from the government or long tradition, not from nature.

No one who believes that the right to defend one’s own life is inherent and inalienable would rely so heavily on the existence of the 2nd Amendment. The right to keep and bear arms exists regardless of whether there ever was a 2ndAmendment to the U.S. Constitution. It exists regardless of the American Revolution or the 800 or so years of British tradition that preceded it.

Read the rest of the article at Liberty Pulse…

Rand Paul filibuster: The libertarians are coming!

TAMPA, March 8, 2013 – If there was any question whether Senator Rand Paul could move beyond the “gadfly” role his father had played for over thirty years in the U.S. Congress, there is no more.

Rand Paul has arrived as a political force to be reckoned with.His filibuster of President Obama’s nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director had establishment leaders from both sides of the aisle scrambling to jump on the bandwagon before it left wheel marks on their chests. Marco Rubio showed up to support him.

Rush Limbaugh called him a hero. So did Van Jones, albeit reluctantly.

Attorney General Eric Holder said “uncle.”

Paul’s filibuster was a complete success from every perspective. He achieved his goal of shifting the focus away from Brennan personally and onto the larger question of executive power, specifically the power to kill an American citizen without due process. He timed his gesture and articulated his argument in such a way that no one dared oppose it.

Paul’s argument against the use of drones against Americans is a purely libertarian one, because the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments are rooted in the libertarian principle of non-aggression. Those Amendments are there to see that the government does not initiate force against the innocent.

All of which is ironic because Paul does not even self-identify as a libertarian.

When asked directly about it, he said that he considers himself a “constitutional conservative.” He has raised the ire of his father’s libertarian followers on more than one occasion, particularly his endorsement of Mitt Romney and his votes for sanctions on Iran.

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

McCain, Bolton and the NeoCons are on the wrong side of history

TAMPA, January 31, 2013 — Republicans behind John McCain and the neoconservatives have picked the wrong fight. With the Democrats in the ascendancy and feeling confident enough to attack the Second Amendment for the first time in almost two decades, the Republicans need to pick some battles they can win if they want to survive the decade as a relevant political party.

Gun ownership would be a good one if their record on defending this right were better. Opposing Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as Secretary of Defense is not.

Senator and 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain made news today saying that Hagel was “on the wrong side of history” in opposing the troop surge in Iraq.

How ironic.

The troop surge during the Iraq War may or may not have achieved a temporary tactical objective, depending upon who you ask. It really doesn’t matter, because history will judge not only the Iraq War but the entire, neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC) as an utter failure.

The U.S. government’s invasion of Iraq removed a secular dictator who presided over a relatively modern, stable Middle Eastern nation and replaced it with utter chaos, out of which emerged an Islamic state with strong ties to the supposedly most dangerous American enemy in the region, Iran.

Apparently incapable of learning from even the most recent history, the U.S. government has achieved similar results supporting various Middle Eastern revolutions collectively known as “the Arab Spring.”

It is also about to achieve Viet Nam-like results in Afghanistan, where a Taliban return to power is likely when the U.S. government finally declares “victory” and triumphantly cuts its losses and gets out.

The whole, multi-decade adventure in the Middle East will have squandered trillions, cost millions of lives on all sides, and not only achieved nothing, but actually made the landscape in the Middle East much worse. If Islamic fundamentalism truly is a threat to the Western world, then PNAC has increased that threat by orders of magnitude.

History will judge PNAC and the neoconservatives harshly. The American public is already there. Americans are finally beginning to question the wisdom of trying to remake the rest of the world through military intervention. They are beginning to ask the crucial questions. What is the cause and effect relationship between invading Middle Eastern backwaters and my relative freedom or security? If we had not invaded Iraq, exactly how and why would I be less free?

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

Republicans as wrong as Democrats on Sandy Relief

TAMPA, January 5, 2013 – There is yet another faux debate raging in Congress. According to Fox News, the House and Senate have passed a $9.7 billion aid package for Sandy victims. Most Democrats and Republicans are calling for an additional $51 billion.

Some Republicans are dragging their feet.

It would be encouraging if even a single Republican articulated the principle at issue here, but none have. Republicans in Congress couldn’t find a principle if it were slid under their doors with envelopes full of lobbyist cash.

For the record, the principle is this: Citizens in Wyoming shouldn’t be taxed to rebuild the houses of other people in Wyoming, much less New York or New Jersey. This is another bedrock American principle that has completely vanished from the minds of most Americans.

Instead, Republicans object on the grounds that not all of the proposed funding is necessary for immediate relief. In fact, there is some considerable pork built into both the House and Senate versions of the bill, including “$150 million for fishery disasters in a range of states — including Alaska and Mississippi” and “nearly $45 million was included for work on NOAA’s hurricane reconnaissance aircraft.”

Rep. Tim Huelskamp voted against it, saying, “We have to talk seriously about offsets,” he said. “We can’t take $60 billion off budget, that’s my problem with it.”

The common sense and acknowledgement of reality are refreshing, but Huelskamp still avoids the main issue.

Property is a right, just like free speech. It was recognition of the right of each individual to keep the fruits of his own labor and dispose of them as he saw fit that made the United States the richest nation in the world, relatively overnight.

While the immediate cause for the outbreak of hostilities during the American Revolution was the British attempt to disarm the colonists, the long term cause was the British threat against property rights.

American schoolchildren are taught that the colonists’ only grievance was “taxation without representation.” That’s convenient for big government progressives on both sides of the aisle, because they can then say, “You are represented, so we can tax you however we please.”

Those schoolchildren are not taught that the colonists also did not want representation in the British Parliament. Jefferson said so in his Summary View of the Rights of British America. Benjamin Franklin was strictly instructed not to accept any deal with the British that involved colonial representation in Parliament.

The colonists wanted no part of any political system whereby they could be taxed and the money spent for the benefit of other parts of the empire. Representation in a Parliament where they were hopelessly outnumbered would only add the veneer of legitimacy to this armed theft.

Read the rest of the article…

Election 2012: Was Obama the lesser of two evils?

TAMPA, November 8, 2012 – “We’re all socialists now.”

If all of the pre-election hype about the presidential election being a choice between socialism and capitalism was true, then that statement must be true.

I doubt most Americans believe it.

In fact, Obama is no more a socialist than Romney is a capitalist. Obama has not called for state ownership of the means of production. Romney has not called for a laissez faire economy. Absent the rhetoric, they would both be most accurately described as European social democrats.

For libertarians, the choice between them was “heads the government wins, tails libertarians lose.” It is generally assumed that libertarians would consider Romney the “lesser of two evils.” I don’t think that’s true.

Romney’s rhetoric employed buzz words that both libertarians and conservatives respond to, like “free markets,” “small government” and “less taxes.” Obama’s rhetoric employed universally recognized code words for wealth redistribution like “fairness,” “fair share” and “investment.”

However, when you strip all of that away, the policy platforms of the two men were virtually identical.

Obama wants to raise taxes on the wealthy to help balance the federal budget. Romney does not disagree. Romney stated – over and over again in the first debate – that his plan to lower the income tax rates while simultaneously “closing loopholes” (translation: eliminate deductions) was aimed at getting the wealthy to pay more while giving small business and the middle class a tax break.

When Obama says it, he’s a socialist. When Romney says it, crickets.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Do Americans still believe that government is evil?

TAMPA, October 28, 2012 – Nine days before Election Day, Americans are hunkering down into their traditional Republican/Democratic camps. Supposedly, the future of American society rests upon which corporate-backed candidate wins the presidency. Americans of the past would have regarded this as complete nonsense.

In late 1775, the shot heard ‘round the world had been fired and the American colonists had Boston under siege. Still, most Americans either favored reconciliation with Great Britain or were undecided.

Then, in January 1776, Thomas Paine released his instant bestseller, Common Sense. It is this pamphlet that is credited with persuading a critical mass of American colonists to support American independence from Great Britain. In it, Paine laid out his arguments about the role of government and why the British constitution failed in fulfilling this role for American colonists.

The very first plank he laid down in his argument was that government was evil.

“Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil;”

Paine, Jefferson and other founding fathers recognized government for what it is: the pooled and organized capacity for violence of the whole society. This idea comes straight out of John Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government. There is no law, no matter how minor, that is not ultimately backed up by the threat of violence.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

 Read Free Chapters from A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Libertarians vs. Conseratives on the welfare state

TAMPA, October 26, 2012 – Many people think of libertarianism as a subset of conservatism, but that’s not true. Libertarianism and conservatism are completely separate philosophies with distinct and separate philosophical traditions. The philosophical differences result in very different positions on issues, from domestic to foreign policy. Their differences on the welfare state provide a perfect example.

Most Americans believe that President Obama and the liberals believe in wealth redistribution and that Republicans/conservatives are against it. That just doesn’t line up with the facts.

While Republicans make general statements against the welfare state, they actually support 95% of the actual spending. A key plank of the Romney/Ryan campaign is “preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare.” That’s more than half of welfare spending alone. They also support government subsidization of housing, agriculture, energy and other “job-creating” programs. They are willing to support corporate welfare if they believe it will be good for the overall economy.

The only criticisms Republicans generally make are for social safety nets like TANF. This illustrates a key difference between conservatives and libertarians on welfare.

Libertarians object to the welfare state on this basis: Any taxes collected from citizens are collected under a threat of violence. You pay or you get kidnapped at best, killed resisting at worst. Therefore, libertarians object to using the taxing power to take money from one person or group and give it to another. When individuals do this, it is called “armed robbery.” For libertarians, it is no different when the government does it. It is the crime itself that libertarians object to.

Conservatives see it differently. They don’t object to the crime itself. Rather, they formulate their positions based upon who will receive the benefits. Redistribution to certain types of people is acceptable, to others it is not. That is why they will excoriate the “welfare queen,” whose impact upon the budget is minimal, while fully supporting Social Security and Medicare, which will eventually bankrupt the entire government.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Obama and Romney on reviving the economy: Blow up the education bubble

TAMPA, October 18, 2012 – Mitt Romney has been able to cruise through two debates with Barack Obama by utilizing a surprising strategy. When Obama has gone on the attack, citing the “draconian cuts” that the delusional on both sides of the aisle imagine Romney would propose as president, Romney has completely defused the president by simply telling the truth.

He’s not cutting anything.

He went a step further during last night’s debate. Like Obama, Romney is not only refusing to cut a single penny from any government program (other than Big Bird), but he’s now on the record that expanding the welfare state is a key plank in his “job creation” plan. In addition to stating “I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing,” Romney went on to emphasize the importance of keeping student loans available.

Forget the supposedly conservative principle that it is immoral for the government to force one citizen to put up his money to guarantee loans taken out by another, much less force that citizen to pay another’s tuition outright. That principle is long, long gone from the conservative psyche.

What is disturbing is that neither candidate seems to have any idea that their plans for education will exacerbate a bubble that has all of the same characteristics of the housing bubble.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Gary Johnson and the empty chair at the first presidential debate

TAMPA, October 5, 2012 – The first presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama was staged by professional television producers. The podiums were positioned such that they were turned three quarters toward each other but still facing the cameras and just the right distance apart to make for a good wide shot of the two candidates.

In addition to an informative debate, the producers also wanted to deliver a first-rate television production.

The results were up to the standard one would expect on such an occasion, but if the producers really wanted to make the most effective use of their medium, they should have taken a page from Clint Eastwood’s playbook. There should have been an empty chair right in the middle of the stage, between the two podiums.

Philosophically speaking, it might have represented the entire range of opinions and ideas that fall outside of what best-selling author Tom Woods calls “the Mitt Romney-Hillary Clinton Continuum.” They are all of the ideas that we little people are apparently not allowed to even hear.

More specifically, the chair would have represented Gary Johnson, a former two-term Governor of New Mexico and Libertarian Party nominee for President.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Romney-Obama debate as competitive as professional wrestling

TAMPA, October 4, 2012 — The early consensus after last night’s debate between President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is that it was a win for Romney. That depends upon how you define “win.”

Certainly, Romney came off as more confident in his answers, while the president seemed distracted at times. However, if this was a battle of ideas, then the outcome was about as uncertain as professional wrestling. Anyone who was listening could tell that this wasn’t a real fight. Big government was the predetermined winner the minute that Romney was nominated.

Yes, Romney made a few references to “competition” and “private markets,” as did Obama. But neither of them is interested in giving free markets a try. In that sense, Obama was at least a little more honest, except when he made the ironic statement that “the genius of America is the free enterprise system.”

The first segment concerned the economy and “creating jobs,” something the government has no role in whatsoever in a free market. The only valid government policy to create jobs from a free market perspective is one that stops the government from doing what it’s already doing. Neither man proposed this.

For many decades, the federal government has employed the same ruse in an attempt to centrally plan the economy while at the same time claim it is fostering free enterprise.

Step One: Tax the living daylights out of everybody and everything.

Step Two: Give “targeted tax cuts” to firms in sectors the central planners think should grow.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…