September 20, 2018

What does the word “liberal” mean?

government_approvedI’m trying to figure out what the word “liberal” (derived from the same Latin root as “liberty”) means when used in a political context. The best definition I can come up with is the belief that individuals should be allowed to make absolutely no decisions themselves regarding any aspect of their lives.

Instead, they will eat and drink only food the government allows them to, in packages labeled as the government directs, in portions the government deems healthy.

They will work only for compensation the government deems “fair,” neither lower nor higher than what is allowed, and they will keep only that portion of said compensation the government doesn’t require for distribution to someone else.

They will live in houses built to the government’s regulatory specifications, including the light bulbs they use, the safety devices they employ and the amount of water in their toilets.

They will raise and educate their children as the government directs, in schools they are forced to pay for whether they use them or not, studying only subjects the government approves and taught the way the government says they should be taught, regardless of how idiotic the government’s teaching methods are.

They will treat illnesses only as the government prescribes and only from caregivers the government “licenses,” including preventative treatments, whether they want them or not. They will pay for that treatment with an insurance program they are required to purchase.

They are mandated to associate with whomever the government directs them to, with legal penalties if they don’t.

While living this completely directed life, they are not to say or even think anything the government deems offensive.

If they fail to comply with any of the above, uniformed, armed men will come and drag them away and lock them in a cage.

If I understand correctly, there is another, related word to describe this destruction of personal choice over time. We call that “progress,” from which we get the word “progressive.”

Am I in the ball park?

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

>The Democrats Privatize Wealth Redistribution

>George W. Bush redistributed more wealth during his presidency than any president had since Lyndon Johnson. Republicans really have never had any problem with redistributing wealth as long as the proceeds go to the right people. Since Medicare benefits senior citizens, a constituency that no election can be won without in the baby boomer retirement era, Republicans had no problem using the force of government to take money from one individual and use it to buy “healthcare” for another – as they did with their Medicare prescription drug benefit. Neither do they hesitate to redistribute to bankers, under the cover of “saving the financial system.” God help us if there is ever a constituency of senior citizen bankers.

In fact, if one looks at the federal budget as it existed before the massive bailouts started – pre-TARP – at least 80% of the almost $3 trillion budget amounted to wealth redistribution. Always there was some rationalization for why this or that group must receive federal funds “for the good of all.” The farmers must be subsidized because there is absolutely no way to sustain farming in a market economy. If large farming corporations weren’t subsidized, we would all starve. Medical research must be subsidized because we will eventually all die of cancer, AIDS, and other horrific diseases if the government doesn’t subsidize medical research. Corporations in general must be subsidized because if one were to go out of business, everyone would be unemployed.

The Democrats typically attempt to characterize the Republicans as racist or elitist because the Republicans have traditionally resisted wealth redistribution for the poor or minorities. However, the reality is that Republicans do this for the same reasons that Democrats resist redistribution to bankers and corporations (or at least they used to). The poor and minorities don’t vote Republican. That is the only reason that Republicans attempt to leave them out.

No one in America seems to know any American history. Following the American Civil War, when black voters universally supported the Republicans due to their perception that the “party of Lincoln” had set them free, it was the Republicans who promised “40 acres and a mule” to blacks and the Democrats who proclaimed themselves “the party of white men.” Enslaved by their former ruling class and now used as pawns in a political power game by the new one, the freed black voters of post-Civil War America serve as a perfect metaphor for the supposed “beneficiaries” of all government redistribution schemes. Whether it is elderly people trying to scrape by on a Social Security Check, poor people trying not to starve on public welfare, or Iraqi citizens enjoying their newly provided “freedom,” the so-called beneficiaries of government wealth redistribution are never the winners. It takes an alarming lack of skepticism not to ask who the real winners are.

As this new century has “progressed” (pun intended), even the blurry lines separating the two parties have begun to melt away. Remember that George Bush’s redistribution schemes also included stimulus “tax refunds” to everyone, whether they actually paid taxes in the first place or not. “Compassionate conservatism” was nothing more than a euphemism for attempting to blend traditional Republican rhetoric about “free markets” and “limited government” with thinly-veiled redistribution schemes. By doing so, Bush’s Republicans hoped to hold onto their own base while chipping away at the Democratic voting blocks by promising them other people’s money, just as the Democrats do.

Throughout the 20th century, the two parties employed this strategy of “borrowing a page from the other’s playbook” over and over, always hoping to win voters away from the opposition while retaining the loyalty of their own traditional supporters. It was this that caused many liberals to criticize Bill Clinton for being “too much like a Republican.” Why George Bush has managed to hold on to his image as an “extreme conservative” defies explanation.

Until now, there has always been at least one thing to say in favor of the Democrats. They have been honest about their intentions. They have come right out and said that their intention was to redistribute wealth in order to achieve “equality” or “social justice” or some other utopian goal. Certainly, no lucid American can deny that the Democratic platform has been a socialist one for at least the last century. It has been the Republicans who have deceived their followers to a much greater extent by promising them liberty and property rights and then redistributing almost as egregiously as the Democrats.

One hallmark redistribution strategy used by the Republicans was “privatization.” Somehow, they managed to successfully characterize forcibly extracting money in taxes from their citizens and redistributing it to private corporations as “free enterprise,” as if “private” and “free” were synonymous. Alexander Hamilton must have smiled in his grave.

However, the Democrats have truly broken new ground during this presidential administration. Not only have they managed to outspend the voracious Bush administration in just ten short months, but they have taken a page from the Republican playbook and actually privatized wealth redistribution. Formerly, however transparent the scheme, the money at least made it into the federal treasury for a moment before being paid out to the special interest that had bought it with votes. However, H.R. 3962, the so-called “Affordable Health Care for America Act,” dispenses with this formality. Now, using the coercive power of government, private citizens will be forced to pay their money directly to government supported health insurers whether they wish to or not. The veneer that this is “public money” being spent for the “public good” has been completely stripped away. There is now simply a government pointing a gun at its citizens and forcing them to pay directly to the special interest that has successfully lobbied for their money. Even King John of the Robin Hood tales did not extort for his friends this overtly.

A more perverse merger of left and right political corruption is unimaginable. Using the government’s numbers, this will provided coverage for 36 million uninsured Americans at a minimum of $15,000 per covered life. Assuming these numbers to be at least “in the ball park,” President Obama and his so-called liberals have just handed over a half a trillion dollars a year to corporate America (the health insurance companies). What true progressive could possibly support this?

The price of this corporate welfare, of course, is that any remaining vestiges of voluntary contracts between insurer and insured that health insurance still retained has been eliminated. Insurers are no longer allowed to determine rates demographically and based upon a real risk model. They are no longer allowed to offer diverse coverage packages to compete with one another for different customer groups. They now must offer low rates and uniform benefits to everyone as entitlements. Like individual welfare recipients, they have surrendered all of their liberty and property rights in return for other people’s money. They are now just one more arm of the state bureaucracy.

The worst aspect of this great fraud is the implications it has for the liberty of every American. The closest parallel to this heretofore has been automobile insurance. Americans have been forced to buy auto insurance directly from an auto insurer in order to exercise the “privilege” of driving on the government’s roads. This was of course enacted for the public good, to ensure that poor drivers could not bankrupt the innocent by demolishing their cars or saddling them with exorbitant hospital bills. However, as hostile to liberty as these laws are, they still leave the driver a choice. He can choose not to drive, however impractical or unrealistic that choice might be.

However, with this new bill, even that smattering of liberty is ripped away. Americans are now forced to purchase insurance from a government-protected and subsidized health insurance company merely because they are alive. Worse yet, they are not merely forced to make a single payment of tribute to satisfy their “individual responsibility.” They must go on paying, year in and year out, for as long as they live. They cannot decline. They cannot conscientiously object. There is no escape from this tyranny save one: death. For those individuals that can demonstrate that they are completely incapable of paying, someone else will be forced to pay for them. No matter what, the government’s corporation will be paid. Even life is no longer a right, but a privilege that the government extends to its subjects for a fee.

From 2001-2006, the Republicans controlled all branches of government. It was an horrific period of utter destruction of American liberty. The Democrats have now been given their chance and in ten short months they have far outdone the Bush Republicans for this dubious distinction. Make no mistake. If the Republicans regain power, they will be worse still. Americans should understand that they will affect no “change” in their government by electing either of these two parties. The federal government is a monster that has taken on a life of its own. Both parties are now its minions and are indistinguishable from one another.

Our Declaration of Independence says that “mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Are we there yet?

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!

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© Thomas Mullen 2009

>Claire Morrissey Interviews Tom Mullen

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq-mvaGZ8Ak&feature=channel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc2vEDommss&feature=channel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slZwRWGQnaw&feature=channel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUulnF8psLo&feature=channel

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!

>A Crossroads

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Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.”

– Samuel Adams The Rights of The Colonists (1772)[1]

Although the United States has the reputation as the most capitalist nation on earth, she is fast moving away from the principles of laissez faire capitalism, while formerly communist countries like China and Russia are moving closer to those principles. This is not surprising, given the 20th century history of China and Russia. Each rejected capitalism for communism, and each have already seen where the end of that road leads: poverty, starvation, mass murder, and totalitarianism. Russia and China have already had to face the fact that communism doesn’t work and reject it for a more free market economy, or face collapse and annihilation. To the extent that they have become freer, they have become more prosperous. To the extent that they still cling to the old ideals of communism or socialism, their progress is retarded.

The United States has not yet faced economic calamity on the scale of that faced by Russia or China, and that is due to the far lesser degree to which the United States has embraced socialism. Along with the western European countries that stood against communism throughout most of the last century, the United States has chosen the path of the “mixed economy,” attempting to mix elements of free market capitalism and socialism in an effort to more “equally” distribute the fruits of production, and to build a “social safety net” for those who at some point in their lives are unable to produce enough to meet their own needs.

However, if there is one common characteristic to the mixed economies of the west during the past century, it is economic decline. Certainly, there are temporary recoveries here and there by one country in relation to the others, but the overall quality of life for people in the mixed economies has been diminishing almost from the moment that they have decided to try to mix socialism with capitalism. Most people do not see the European Union for what it is: a temporary solution for a group of countries that became unable to sustain themselves economically on their own. This was not a result of new competition from emerging nations as much as the natural result of plundering the more productive members of society to support the less productive. Combining their economies under one currency and centrally planned economy merely allows the European Union to pool the productive capabilities of all of their societies, in order to create a larger surplus to plunder. However, the same forces that caused those nations to fail economically on their own will eventually overcome the group of nations together, as will be the result for the United States.

The United States has been able to avoid the economic collapses of the European economies largely due to the fact that it has “mixed” its economy with less outright socialism, at least in decades past. However, the compromises it did make with socialism were the cracks in America’s economic foundation, and as it has moved farther and farther toward socialism in recent decades, those cracks have begun to widen. Now America sits on the edge of the same economic precipice that overcame the economies of Europe. Those realities will become apparent within the next presidential term, possibly under dire circumstances.

Why doesn’t a mixed economy work? The answer is that even a mixed economy violates a fundamental moral and economic principle: property rights. While some might argue that a mixed economy attempts to combine a moral solution (economic equality) with a pragmatic one (productivity), a clear understanding of property rights shatters this fallacy. Violating property rights even for the purposes of achieving what some might regard as more “just” distribution of wealth is both ineffective AND immoral. If there is some transcendent justice in the world, it is that the practice of violating property rights is never successful in creating a sustainable economy.

It takes no monumental exercise of reasoning to see why capitalism has produced such enormous wealth so quickly wherever it has been practiced. In a complex society of millions of people, with each person making the most advantageous exchanges of property that they can, and with an incentive to consume less than they produce in order to realize savings for either capital or future retirement, productivity soars. Productivity in excess of what is consumed produces savings, or capital, which increases the means of production and results in even greater productivity. This was the system that made the United States the wealthiest nation on earth in one short century.

Thus, in economic terms, we have two identifiable extremes. Freedom is defined by the universal recognition of an unalienable right to the fruits of your labor. In contrast, slavery is the complete absence of ownership of the fruits of your labor. More than anything else, it is where a society falls between these two extremes that determines whether or not a society is free. The United States was once as close to the freedom extreme as may be possible for a society of flawed human beings.

Socialism does not recognize a person’s ownership over the fruits of his labor, nor his right to freely exchange those fruits with others. In a socialist system, the fruits of labor are distributed by the state as the state deems fit, not by the free exchanges between their citizens. Thus, their citizens do not enjoy the most basic right that makes them free, nor does the economy benefit from the fundamental building block of productivity.

Even in a mixed economy, where citizens retain some property rights, some of the fruits of their labor are still taken by government and redistributed without their consent. In the United States, this occurs through massive social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Public Welfare. While Social Security and Medicare are funded partially by the contributions of the beneficiaries, there is no effective controlling mechanism to distribute benefits proportionately according to contribution, although Social Security has a crude methodology attempting to do so. More importantly, these programs violate the vital principle of consent. The participants in the programs do not participate voluntarily, but under the coercive power of government. Thus, ownership of the fruits of their labor is not respected in terms of the monies taken from them to fund the programs.

The violation of property rights does not stop with providing for the poor or elderly, but for corporate welfare as well. In an attempt to “manage the economy,” public funds are also used by the government to bail out failed corporations that are deemed “too big” or “too important” to be allowed to go bankrupt. This not only violates the rights of the people whose property is confiscated in order to underwrite these bailouts, but also causes distortions in the economy.
Rather than some type of compromise between freedom and slavery, which sounds bad enough, the mixed economy makes a more fundamental break with the principles of liberty. In a mixed economy, the citizens no longer have an unalienable right to the fruits of their labor, or property rights, but rather have the privilege of keeping that property that the government does not choose to take. Changing property from a right to a privilege is a monumental change in the principles that a society is founded upon. It crosses the majority of the divide between freedom and slavery. The moral argument against socialism or even a mixed economy is that they both violate property rights: the most important, most basic right that people have.

It is also easy to see why even a mixed economy is not sustainable economically. As it violates those property rights on a regular basis, it is siphoning off the surplus productivity from those producing more than they consume and distributing those savings to those consuming more than they produce. Thus, savings and capital are diminished at first, and eventually destroyed when the incentive to save is eroded. In practical terms, the laborer of today no longer saves for his retirement, partly because he is unable to due to the sizeable portion of his property that is seized to pay the benefits of present beneficiaries, and partly because he knows (or at least believes) that future generations will pay those benefits for him.

One need look no further than the present state of the American economy to see this argument proven out. After decades of growth of socialist programs like Social Security and Medicare, the United States has gone from being the world’s largest creditor to the world’s largest debtor. Its people and its government are mired in debt, and its economy has a negative savings rate. No longer is the American worker the highest paid or most productive in the world. One by one, the United States has lost its dominance in almost every economic sector, no longer producing the majority of goods and services it consumes. While our politicians may try to lead us to believe that economic cycles “just happen,” a sober look at the departure we’ve made away from our founding principles reveal the true reason for our economic decline. The foundation of this departure has been our violation of property rights.

We are now at a crossroads. Socialism, even “diluted” in our mixed economy, has lead us to where it always leads: to the verge of economic collapse. During the next presidential term, the United States is going to face an economic crisis that will startle even the most disinterested and apathetic of its citizens. The question is not so much “what is to be done?” as it is “who will you believe?” Already, politicians and the media are framing the debate on the assumption that it was capitalism and too little regulation over “greedy speculators” that caused our problems. False prophets of freedom, like Lou Dobbs, are masquerading as champions of the people while emphatically calling for more government regulation, and not denouncing wealth redistribution, but merely criticizing the way the loot is split. A new edifice is being built in the capital of the empire of lies.

No matter who gets elected, no matter what policies are made, an economic crisis is coming, and it will be painful. The only way for America to recover from it will be to rebuild its awesome productive capacity that once made it the greatest, wealthiest nation on earth. That cannot be done without rejecting the socialism – even the mixed economy variety – that has ruined her. She must again be an example to the world that liberty and individual rights are the only sustainable economic and political system. It will not be easy for America to choose this path. The voices of liberty have grown few and those advocating socialism have the media, the politicians, and the guns. However, as difficult as it may now seem, we must convince the American people that this calamity was not a failure of capitalism, regardless of what they are told. Economic upheavals spawn revolutions. In Russia and Germany during the early 20th century, those revolutions ended badly. We must educate our neighbors so that we choose a wiser path. Make no mistake; the danger is real. Lies and ignorance in the midst of this crisis can enslave us for generations, but the truth can surely set us free.

Tom Mullen

[1] Samuel Adams The Rights of the Colonists (1772) The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting, Nov. 20, 1772 Old South Leaflets no. 173 (Boston: Directors of the Old South Work, 1906) 7: 417-428.

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>Is the Freedom Movement Really Ready for Freedom?

>Ron Paul’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has ignited a revolution. For the first time in a century, a real movement against the entrenched system in Washington has arisen, and it is a movement of capable people who don’t just complain – they get things done. After a complete debacle for the neo-cons in Nevada, the Republican Party has actually had to mobilize itself in several states to prevent Ron Paul supporters from taking over state conventions and voting in their own delegates. They have resorted to breaking their own rules to prevent a party takeover. This is a sign that their political days are numbered.

Almost universally, Ron Paul supporters oppose the Iraq war. Whether conservative, liberal, moderate, or independent, Ron Paul has brought together a coalition that recognizes that the United States government had no right to invade Iraq. Regardless of their positions on other issues, people of all parties in this movement deserve high marks for taking a stand against the Iraq war.

Similarly, we are almost universally in agreement in our opposition to the expansion of executive powers, especially insofar as they have allowed the government to compromise our privacy and to threaten habeas corpus. These are direct attacks on our lives, and we have been right to defend ourselves against them. It is truly the good fight, and we will win.

So, we are certainly united in what we are against, but are we united in what we are for? Are we all really for free markets, for truly limited government, and for individual liberty? Do we all really understand what that means, and what responsibility that places upon us? Are we really ready to live in a truly free country?

Certainly the first inclination is to answer “yes” to all of the above. However, I wonder if the majority of the freedom movement is really ready for life without big government.

Are we ready to live without Medicare and Medicaid, and depend on the free market to determine the distribution of medical care? Supporting the programs means taking the money for them at gunpoint from our fellow citizens, so the moral question is easily answered. Sound economic theory as well as historical evidence indicates that the poor and elderly would have more access and higher quality care without these programs. Are we ready to trust the free market and private charities with medical care for the poor and elderly?

Are we ready to live life without a “safety net?” Like medical care, the benefits of traditional welfare are also funded by the coercive extortion of money. Similar appeals to economic theory and history prove that the poor would be less numerous and would again experience an improving quality of life without these programs. However, are we ready to admit that no one has the right to even the basic necessities of life?

Are we ready to take full responsibility to support ourselves for our entire lives? Despite the government’s official fairy tale, there is no “trust fund” for social security. The money collected from taxpayers today goes directly to pay today’s beneficiaries. While the program actually runs a surplus (although it will soon become insolvent), the government spends 100% of that surplus on other budget items, as it always has. At the end of the day, social security is just another government redistribution program funded by extorted money. Any financial analysis would show that the money collected from working Americans for social security would be better invested almost anywhere else. Are we ready to admit that no one has the right to retirement benefits, and enter our golden years without social security?

Here is one that even I have trouble overriding my own programming on. Are we ready to get government completely out of education? Are we ready to admit that, like medical care or any other good or service that is produced by somebody else, that no one has a right to education? Are we ready to trust the free market for this as well?

To the average American, the questions I have asked would sound like complete lunacy. However, to someone who understands and accepts the principles of liberty and wishes to live by them, I argue that the answer to every one of those questions must be “yes.” Reason, history, and economics all tell us that these programs are immoral and destructive, not only to society as a whole, but even to the recipients of the benefits. Only our conditioned fear tells us that we cannot live without them. Are we ready to overcome that fear?

There are certainly many more intrusions by the federal government into our private lives, but I have chosen these programs because this is where the money is. Despite what we are led to believe, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars amount to only 5% of the $3 trillion budget. Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would eliminate less than half of this year’s deficit. The entire military budget makes up only 20%, and some of that would still be necessary even if we brought our troops home from all 130 countries that they are stationed in.

By contrast, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Welfare, and the Department of Education combine for over 55% of our $3 trillion budget (The Department of Education is only 2%, but after that no other expenditure has a significant percentage at all). Without them, there would be no deficit. Without these programs we could eliminate the income tax and begin paying down the national debt at the same time. The financial benefits to our country would be staggering.
I am interested in the answers that CDR members would give to the questions I’ve posed. Can you answer every one of them yes? If not, I would like to hear your arguments supporting why you cannot, and specifically how you would reconcile the programs with the principles of individual liberty, property rights, and the proper limits of government. In a free society, how does government derive the right to seize the funding for these programs from its citizens? Can we ever really be free while they exist?

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