April 24, 2014

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…

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 makes the claim that 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 that 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.

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

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…

Merry Christmas: Mary gives birth to a great libertarian

TAMPA, December 24, 2012 ― It’s not a surprise that libertarian themes pervade many iconic Christmas specials. After all, they celebrate the birthday of one of the great libertarians of all time.

In the Gospels, government is exposed as evil right from Jesus’ birth. A paranoid Herod is willing to kill all of the babies in the kingdom to try to eliminate the perceived threat represented by Jesus.

 

Tax collectors are considered de facto sinners, on a par with prostitutes. Libertarians would consider this unfair to prostitutes, but for the times this couldn’t land better.

Jesus himself doesn’t disappoint, either. From the moment he begins his ministry, he wages a nonstop verbal war against the hypocritical, oppressive, tax-devouring Temple priests. Jews at the time were required to pay annual taxes to the priests and were also expected to come and make sacrifices at the Jerusalem Temple. Of course, they had to buy the livestock for the sacrifices from the priests and deal with the priests’ money changers in order to do that.

That’s why the libertarian from Galilee kicked them out. This would have been considered a revolutionary act.

One can’t help but equate Jerusalem at that time with Washington, DC, an entire city of tax-fed, opulent wealth.

Jesus has no patience for excessive regulation, either. When he encounters a Jewish law that does not address actual criminal activity, he encourages his followers to break it. When the meddling scribes confront Jesus with allowing his disciples to eat without washing their hands, Jesus lets loose with his customary anti-government invective, calling them hypocrites and then instructing “the people” to ignore this idiotic law and focus on not committing real crimes instead. (Mark 7:1-23)

Libertarian themes pervade The Little Drummer Boy and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Tampa 8 December 2012 – “And it came to pass that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, everyone to his own city, for to disobey the Roman emperor meant certain death.”

The message in the opening lines of The Little Drummer Boy (1968) is as rich and pleasing to the ear as Greer Garson’s euphonious narration.

First, that Bethlehem was so crowded and there was “no room at the inn” for Joseph and Mary was not at all a natural occurrence. It was caused by the government, like virtually all human misery. Second, that all taxation occurs under the threat of violence, for to refuse to pay would result in “certain death.”

This is all within the first 30 seconds of the film. A libertarian couldn’t ask for a better start.

Taxation is repeatedly denounced throughout the story. Garson continues by noting that, “There were good people who could ill afford the cruel tax.” Even the film’s chief villain, Ben Haramad (voice by Jose Ferrer), who kidnaps Aaron in order to compel him to perform in his traveling show, addresses his audience as “fellow taxpayers,” indicating that as bad as he might be, he is one with his audience in suffering under a much more cruel and malicious oppressor.

I couldn’t have been happier that my seven-year-old daughter was exposed to all of this, along with a very age appropriate introduction to the gospel stories. With the central lesson of Thanksgiving – that communism is lethal and that private property is essential to human survival – effectively erased from popular consciousness, it was refreshing to see these foundational libertarian ideas surviving in a classic Christmas special.

Next, we queued up another oldie from the same DVD compilationSanta Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970). This one didn’t disappoint, either.  Again, the general misery within the aptly named “Sombertown” has the same source: government. One cannot help but see the parallels between Burgermeister Meisterburger’s idiotic law against toys and the U.S. government’s War on Drugs. All of the familiar characteristics are there.

Read the rest of the article…

Support for Kill List and NDAA make Obama and Romney unfit for office

TAMPA, November 2, 2012 – It wasn’t so long ago that the following statement could only appear in a dystopian novel or movie script:

The U.S. President has killed an American citizen without due process, without even charging him with a crime. His decision to do this has been challenged by members of neither party.

While the media-fueled frenzy goes on about how supposedly different Romney and the conservatives are from Obama and the liberals, no one even raises an eyebrow about this terrifying political development.

Not even the left, which quite correctly howled at passage of the Patriot Act and the Bush administrations’ other assaults on freedom.

Bush and the Republicans committed egregious crimes against liberty, but did not go near this far in violating the even more important right to life.

The president makes a mockery of the term “due process” by claiming that the requirement is fulfilled by a panel of his own self-appointed czars and cronies reviewing the case. This doesn’t even pass the constitutional test. The panel is exclusively comprised of members of the executive branch of government. Judicial power is explicitly denied to the executive by the plain words of the constitution.

At any previous time in American history, a summary execution by the executive without due process would have been considered cold blooded murder and an act of tyranny. Yet, it has happened in the light of day and neither the political class nor the citizenry has batted an eye.

If even this does not rouse American citizens to stand up to their government, to what would they conceivably say “no?”

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

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

 

2nd Third Party Debate: Will Americans Remember the 5th of November?

TAMPA, October 31, 2012 – “We’ll have to agree to disagree.” When uttered in a political context, there is no passive-aggressive cliché that I detest more than this one,

Invariably, this is the rejoinder offered by the statist who has painted himself into a corner while trying to justify his invasion of the life and property of others. Unable to honestly answer the question, “Aren’t you advocating the initiation of force against your fellow man?” the statist will end the conversation with this insipid bit of anti-reason, usually with condescending sanctimoniousness.

The problem is that one side of the argument is agreeing to refrain from invading the property of anyone else, while the other side claims doing so is his right. There is nothing either fair or civilized by “agreeing to disagree” under these circumstances.

Of course, the problem isn’t that the statist holds this opinion.

It is his right to hold any opinion he wishes and to express that opinion freely. The problem is what happens next. Informed by his opinion, the statist then goes into the voting booth and votes himself the life and property of other people.

Worse yet, according to the bizarre principles presently governing American society, he is then provided with the ill-gotten gains by the politician.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

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

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…

Libertarians are not corporate apologists

TAMPA, October 22, 2012 – In the wake of Ron Paul’s campaign and with Gary Johnson rising in the polls, libertarianism may just get a hearing for the first time in decades.

Already, the usual fallacies have resurfaced. If you don’t want the government to run education, you must be against education. If you don’t want the government to run healthcare, you must not want people to get healthcare.

This misunderstanding is often summed up with comments like, “I’m not sure I’m comfortable with an ‘every man for himself’ society.” This springs from the absurd assumption that human beings never confer benefits upon one another except when forced to do so at gunpoint.

One corollary of the “every man for himself” theory is that a libertarian society would “let corporations run wild,” resulting in a small, wealthy elite controlling all of the resources and exercising oligarchical rule over the rest of society. (So do we live in a libertarian society now?)

Most people would probably be surprised at the libertarian stand on corporations. In a libertarian society, they wouldn’t exist. Corporations are creatures of the state. They are created by the government and endowed with privileges that individuals do not have. This contradicts a fundamental premise of libertarianism, that all people are created equal and have equal rights.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

A skeptic’s case for Gary Johnson

TAMPA, September 26, 2012 – You may be an independent that finds the major party candidates for president particularly weak this year. You may be an “Old Right” conservative that can’t bring yourself to vote for Mitt Romney. You may be a died-in-the-wool liberal who thinks Barack Obama’s presidency has been just a little too similar to Dubya’s.

Or, you may be a libertarian.

If you belong to any of those groups, you might be considering voting for Gary Johnson. Ironically, if you are a libertarian, you may need the most convincing.

Gary Johnson isn’t well-grounded in libertarian theory and it results in him taking some positions that libertarians don’t like. I made the argument myself that Johnson is not really a libertarian at all. In two subsequent interviews (here and here), Johnson didn’t allay those concerns.

Regardless, Gary Johnson is the best choice for president this year for voters from all over the political spectrum.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…