Archive for the ‘Not So Crazy Libertarian Ideals’ tag
More and more people seem to be realizing that all available political options are no win situations:
Establishment political parties have been playing a dangerous game — contriving situations in which the only acceptable choice happens to be one favored by elites, and hoping that voters will choose it under duress.
Voters have been revolting against no-choice politics by choosing the unthinkable: Brexit, fringe political parties, rejecting the Italian reform referendum, Trump.
You should be mad at voters for the alarming choices they are making. I certainly am. But you should also be mad at the establishment leaders and political parties who put voters in the position of choosing between the unpalatable and the absurd.
I often compare candidate choices to the choice of either colon cancer or lung cancer. While arguments can be made in favor of one over the other the end result of both if left untreated is death.
What amuses me is that the absurdity of our “choices” is becoming so obvious that even mainstream media outlets are having a difficult time ignoring it. Just look at the last presidential election. The choice was between a male fascist or a female fascist. The media pushed for the female fascist but the difference between the two was so insignificant that it had a difficult time finding a characteristic to sell her on. In the end the male fascist won because votes basically flipped a coin.
If you’re a student of history you’ve read about how this plays out. Things will continue to deteriorate. The “choices” will become worse. At some point the system will collapse in on itself like a massive star at the end of its life.
Instead of “”In God We Trust” the motto of the United States of America should be “Give Me Your Goddamn Money”. Judging by my Catholic upbringing, there isn’t a lot of godliness in the United States but every level of government demands that you pay a tithe. Unlike most religions though, the State will punish you severely for failing to pay your tithe. But just because the State has a gun to your head doesn’t mean you can’t be a little creative:
A US businessman in dispute with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has paid his $3,000 tax bill using five wheelbarrows containing 300,000 coins.
Nick Stafford from Cedar Buff, Virginia, delivered so many coins that the DMV’s automated counting machines could not cope with the volume.
His delivery stunt follows a legal row he had with the DMV over contacting its staff to make tax inquiries.
It took staff at least seven hours to count the coins, working until late.
Nick Stafford is a real American hero. He managed to make his $3,000 tithe a bigger pain in the ass to the State than it was probably worth. At the bare minimum he tied up several of the Department of Motor Vehicle’s (DMV) goons while they hand to manually count the 300,000 coins. And the pain wouldn’t have stopped there. The money had to be stored until it could be transferred to the State’s coffers. Transferring the coins, which weighed 1,600 pounds according to the article, would require more gas than paper bills or a check. Some poor sucker at the State’s bank might even been required to recount the money.
I’m sure this stunt will cause whatever level of government Mr. Stafford was dealing with to change the rules so that tithe payments can’t be made with coins. But he managed to throw a wrench in the State’s machinery and cause a bit of havoc, which is what matters. If everybody did the same the State would end up choking on its own bureaucracy.
What is a hero? Many people will claim it’s somebody who puts on a military or police uniform. Me? I believe a hero is somebody who acts morally, especially when they’re against an immoral enemy. Gordon Hirabayashi was a hero:
“This order for the mass evacuation of all persons of Japanese descent denies them the right to live,” Seattle native Gordon Hirabayashi wrote in 1942. “I consider it my duty to maintain the democratic standards for which this nation lives. Therefore, I must refuse this order of evacuation.”
With that, Hirabayashi became one of just a handful of Japanese-Americans who defied the government’s move to put more than 100,000 of them in detention camps following the attack on Pearl Harbor. For his refusal, he was imprisoned more than a year.
As a friend said, “Hopefully the casket is built to accommodate his giant brass balls.”
The United States government, in order to drum up fear in the people at home, declared every American of Japanese descent an enemy of the State and rounded them up and put them into concentration camps. Mr. Hirabayashi told the United States government to go pound sand. In retaliation they kidnapped him and locked him in a cage. While, like his fellow Americans of Japanese descent, he ended up in a cage he didn’t do so willingly. He stood up for what was right. His defiance even forced the United States government, after four decades, to admit that it may have gone a bit far:
It took four decades for Hirabayashi to be vindicated, with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that the internment policy “had been based on political expediency, not on any risk to national security,” as The Associated Press writes.
Ludwig von Mises’ motto was, “Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.” For those of you poor bastards who don’t know Latin it means “Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.” It’s a beautiful motto. If one abides by it then they stand the chance of becoming a real hero like Mr. Hirabayashi.
Have your parents ever reminded you that your life is easier than theirs were? Most of us probably have. But try not to hold it against them. They heard the same thing from their parents who heard the same thing from their parents. And you will most likely tell your children the same thing. Each generation lives an easier life than the last thanks to automation.
Automation improves each and every one of our lives by making previously expensive, inaccessible technology affordable and accessible. This is why my blood pressure goes up when I read nonsense like this:
Fifty percent of the jobs will be gone in ~20 years. Not from the great sucking sound of jobs to Mexico that can be stopped with a wall. Not from moving offshore to China. From automation that is moving quickly from blue collar manufacturing to white collar information work. Second only to climate change, this is the greatest disruption of our time, and I don’t mean that word in a good way.
The article is yet another in a seemingly ceaseless stream of attempts to give legitimacy to an economic fallacy. The fallacy of machines taking our jobs is so absurd that Henry Hazlitt was able to thoroughly put it down in a single chapter of Economics in One Lesson.
What Ross Mayfield, the author of that wreck of an article, is advocating is that each and every one of us should suffer so that a handful of people don’t have to find a new line of work. Ironically, it was the evil of automation that allowed him to even publish that article. Were it not for computers, the Internet, and the availability of free (to publish and read, but as we know TANSTAAFL) publishing platforms like LinkedIn, Mayfield never would have been able to get his article published to such a wide audience. But I digress.
Let’s consider Mr. Mayfield’s world by taking a look at a fairly modern piece of automation, personal assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Through voice commands the Echo and Home are able to perform many of the tasks that once required a secretary. Paying a full time secretary was something only somebody with a decent amount of wealth could afford. Now, thanks to automation, the average American has access to many of the functions of a secretary for a fraction of the cost.
As I type this I am looking at a flat panel monitor. It’s much lighter than a smaller cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor, displays a superior image, consumes a lot less electricity, and cost less than what I could get a similar sized CRT for when CRTs were still a thing. How is this possible? For the same reason CRTs from a decade ago were both superior in every way and cheaper than the first CRT televisions, automation. Through automation resources once dedicated to hiring human labor are freed up for other activities such as research and development. When more resources are available for research and development superior technologies can be created.
We enjoy our current lifestyle because of automation. Imagine if the world had listened to Mr. Mayfield’s plea when electricity was invented. I’d be writing this post on a piece of paper with a fountain pen by candlelight… assuming I had enough free time to do so since I’d probably have to bust my ass 12 hours a day just to afford a place to live and food to eat. And when I finished writing it I would have to send it to a publisher in the hope that they would find it worthwhile enough to have their laborers configure their moveable type printing press to print off a few thousand copies for circulation. Oh, and you’d have to pay for it so that the publisher could recoup their costs and make a profit.
Does automation suck for the people who lose their jobs? Absolutely. But they can get new jobs just as candlestick makers did once the electric lightbulb became prolific. The loss of a few thousand or million jobs isn’t justification for hindering qualify of life improvements for everybody else in the world.
Libertarians, especially new ones, often believe that they care about the important issues while everybody else is wasting time on meaningless issues. Important issues include the economic damage done by the Federal Reserve, the iron grip the Republican and Democratic parties have on American politics, the seemingly endless state of unprovoked warfare, and whether or not colleges establish safe spaces for students. Wait, what was that last one?
It’s true. A lot of libertarians have fallen into the trap of what is commonly referred to as the culture wars. I call it a trap because it gets in the way of the struggle for freedom:
Too many liberty advocates are aiming for the easy targets of “political correctness” while taking their sights off of the true enemy of liberty: those with actual political power. This trend has been accelerating for years, probably because culture wars are fun, generate attention and engagement, and have soft and vulnerable targets. By comparison, the real problem of State power – imposed on the whole of society, not just paying students – is much more difficult.
The article ends up falling apart towards the end because it talks about teaming up with potential political allies, of which libertarians have effectively zero (since libertarianism is the antithesis of politics). But the article makes a good point about not falling into culture war traps such as college campus policies and blaming immigrants.
I give new libertarians a lot of leeway because they’re still finding their way. Libertarianism is a deceptively complicated philosophy. On the one hand it has a single rule: don’t initiate aggression. On the other hand that single rule can change everything when you live in a society that is built on initiated aggression. Leonard E. Reed wrote an excellent book titled Elements of Libertarian Leadership. The title describes the content perfectly. But to provide a summary, one of the most important elements of libertarian leadership is living a life that is consistent with libertarianism. Accomplishing that isn’t simple and it requires a great deal of introspection. That introspection takes time. New libertarians haven’t had that time and therefore periodically lose their way (I speak from experience as I too was once new libertarian). But those of us who have been steeping in libertarian philosophy for years should know better.
Us libertarian old hats should be striving every day to live our life consistently with our beliefs. How does one live a life that is consistent with the libertarian principle against initiating aggression? One of the biggest things we can do is divorce ourselves from the State as much as possible. A good example of this in regards to education are homeschoolers and unschoolers. They have taken it upon themselves to divorce themselves and their children from the State’s indoctrination centers. Do the policies of the State’s indoctrination centers matter to somebody who doesn’t go to one? No. As libertarians we shouldn’t get caught up in the policies of government indoctrination centers but should instead be working to divorce ourselves from them as much as possible. People will often cite the fact that many jobs require degrees from government indoctrination centers. To them I ask why the requirements of a company are relevant to an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is yet another tool that can be used to divorce yourself from the State.
Divorcing yourself from the State’s indoctrination system is just one step on a long and difficult journey. Even us older libertarians are still finding our way. Just because we’ve traveled the path longer than the new libertarians doesn’t mean our journey is over. Continuing to travel the path requires us to constantly analyze our lives to see what parts of it are inconsistent with libertarianism and then change those parts. Bitching about the policies of the government’s indoctrination centers won’t accomplish that. Neither will making a litany of excuses to justify said bitching.
Most Americans, if asked, would probably say that they oppose discrimination. But deep down inside most Americans love discrimination, so long as it’s their form of discrimination.
Those who identify as political leftists have been very vocal about their opposition to discrimination. They’ve been taking every opportunity to state their objection to discrimination against non-whites, homosexuals, transgender individuals, poor individuals, and the mentally disabled. However, they seems to be perfectly fine with politically motivated discrimination.
Imagine if the restaurant owner from the first link put up a sign that read “If you’re black you can not eat here!” or if the person from the second link refused to help the stuck motorist because they had a gay pride bumper sticker. Most self-identified leftists would be up in arms. But the two individuals mentioned in those two links are being cheered by many of those same self-identified leftists. Why? Because those two individuals are discriminating in an approved manner.
Every one of us discriminates. When you cross the street to avoid the suspicious looking individual walking down the sidewalk you’re discriminating. When you avoid talking to your racist uncle at Christmas you’re discriminating. When you avoid the really drunk guy that won’t stop grabbing your ass at the bar you’re discriminating. Some forms of discrimination, such as the three I just mentioned, make sense. In those cases you’re discriminating to protect yourself, avoid starting a family fight, or avoid being sexually molested. But those forms of discrimination are also based on specific signals being produced by specific individuals.
Racially, sexually, and politically motivated forms of discrimination aren’t based on specific signals produced by specific individuals. They’re forms of collective discrimination where the only signal is membership in a group. Of course, everybody who discriminates against groups has a long list of reasons why their form of discrimination is proper even if they find other forms of group discrimination unacceptable.
I personally find collective discrimination, like all forms of collectivism, distasteful but fear that I’m in the minority because even the loudest opponents of collective discrimination seem to only oppose discrimination against groups that they like. When challenged they will have a long list of reasons why they’re not actually discriminating but all they’re doing is performing an act of cognitive dissonance.
Christmas is only a few days away. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for the libertarians in your life here’s a good guide:
State socialism is quickly reaching its inevitable conclusion in Venezuela. The economy is in shambles. The nation’s currency, the bolivar, is in a state of hyperinflation, which makes buying even a loaf a bread with it difficult. While the Venezuelan government scrambles to maintain its control over the people the people are adapting. One of the adaptions they’re making is using an alternative currency, one that is effectively impossible for the Venezuelan government to control. That currency is, of course, Bitcoin:
Amid growing economic chaos, and the highest inflation rate in the world, some Venezuelans are swapping bolivars for bitcoins in order to buy basic necessities or pay their employees
The digital currency is free from central bank or government controls, and users in Venezuela see it as a safe alternative in an economy where the government has enforced strict foreign exchange controls, and inflation is running at an estimated 500%.
This week, Venezuelans rushed to unload 100-bolivar bills – the largest denomination – after the government announced that it would be withdrawn from circulation on Wednesday in what it described as a move against profiteering.
Mainstream economists have been decrying Bitcoin since it started becoming popular. Since the currency isn’t issued by a central bank the mainstream economists have declared it worthless. But the value of Bitcoin continues to rise. When I last checked it was around $800 per Bitcoin. Why does Bitcoin continue to succeed in spite of mainstream economists? Because mainstream economists are fools.
All of the things mainstream economists criticize Bitcoin for are actually important features. Not being controlled by a central bank means that a government can control it. Venezuela can’t just decide to withdraw Bitcoin or print more of it. The fact that there is a cap on the total amount of Bitcoin that will ever exist is also an important feature. Without the ability to print an infinite amount of Bitcoin no government can inflate it. The lack of inflation means that Bitcoin can be a safe method of preserving one’s purchasing power over time (a fancy way of saying savings). Bitcoin’s pseudoanonymity can protect users from the prying eyes of the State, which means it can be used in countries where the State would rather see people starve to death than utilize a currency it isn’t issuing.
Bitcoin’s popularity will likely continue to increase as more national currencies collapse. As its popularity continues to increase the technical limitations, the only valid criticisms against Bitcoin, will continue to be addressed and addressed more rapidly.
What is the most effective method of spreading the ideas of freedom? Many ideas have been put forward but few have met with much success. I won’t go so far as to claim that I know the answer but I will submit an idea for consideration. Before I being I wholly admit that this idea isn’t entirely fleshed out in this blog post. There’s a lot to it and I’ve only been considering it in depth in the last few months. Nevertheless, it’s always good to get public input on an idea earlier rather than later. Therefore, this is as much a request for comment as it is a proposal.
The primary tool of libertarians has been logical deduction (I know a bunch of statists are laughing about this but in this case logical is in the eyes of libertarians, not you guys). Libertarians, myself included, have tried to point out the bloody history of statism, economic consequences of central banking, terrible toll of the drug wars, and other pitfalls of centralized power. What has this gotten us? Jack shit.
I would submit that logical deduction doesn’t work, at least not initially, to spread the message of freedom. Why? Since I cannot read another person’s mind I cannot provide a definitive answer. However, I can offer speculation based on experience and observation. In my experience, the biggest thing statism has going for it is that it preys on fear. Fear is a powerful tool. If you can wield it successfully you can influence people’s actions.
Therefore, I would submit that the first step in spreading the message of freedom is helping people overcome their fears. The first step in accomplish this, in my experience, is cultivating the ego.
If you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which I feel is a good general model to work from (note, I said general model, not a perfectly accurate account of human behavior), there are a lot of requirements before one can begin to address self-actualization. In fact, if you look at the lower layers you’ll notice that they’re all things that statist try to drum up fear of. Access to food, water, and shelter are all necessary for survival and, coincidentally, are all things that statists claim the State is necessary for. They tell us that the State distributes food in times of shortage so that everybody has enough, ensures we have clean drinking water, and provides shelter for the homeless. None of these things are actually true but they don’t need to be. The only thing that’s necessary is tying people’s fear of not being able to meet their physiological needs with the idea that the State can guarantee plenty.
Safety, the next layer of the hierarchy, is another prime example. How many times have you heard a statist claim that without the State the strong would prey upon the weak and that the person with the most guns would rule the roost? Again, if we look at the history of stateless societies, of which there is much since the Westphalian supremacy that we understand to be statism is a fairly new concept in human history, we see that this isn’t the case. In fact, even a bad analysis of statism would lead one to realize that the State is the person with the most guns ruling the roost. But statists have convinced a great many people that their safety is provided by the State.
Where does the ego come into play here? I’m glad you asked! People with big egos, such as yours truly, are confident in themselves (or people who are confident in themselves have big egos, either way works). I know that I can provide for my own needs. I can provide my own food, water, shelter, and personal protection even in emergency situations. I’m not in a state of constant worry for my lower order needs, which means I can address my higher order need of self-actualization.
I believe that is the trick. We must first help people overcome their fears before they’ll become open to the message of freedom. In order to do that we must teach people to be confident in their own abilities. This doesn’t necessarily mean teaching them how to store food for long periods of time, use a firearm defensively, or survive in the wilderness for weeks on end. Accomplishing anything can boost a person’s ego, which in turn can increase their self-confidence.
I’ve explored this idea through practice. Namely, when people have asked me for advice I have given advice that I felt would be most empowering to them. I’ve been encouraging friends to seek new jobs when they’ve expressed dissatisfaction with their current job. That encouragement included both helping them understand that they were more skilled than they believed (and therefore qualified for a better job) and that life is too short to spend 40 or more hours per week at a place they hated. When my friends have followed my advice the results have been great. Not only did they end up making more money and being happier overall but they also became more confident in themselves and through that confidence seemingly less fearful of uncertainties.
In addition to provide empowering advice I’ve also been encouraging people to develop new skills. I’ve started and am currently still running a workout group (to admittedly minor success but I’ve encouraged at least two individuals to take better care of themselves and it has boosted their egos just as working out has boosted my ego) and have been encouraging people to learn another language as I continue my language studies. While working out and languages may not seem useful in regards to spreading the message of liberty they do require individuals to pursue and attain goals, which gives a huge confidence boost when accomplished. The few who have pursued these goals have come out being more confident in themselves and less susceptible to fear based manipulation.
In my experience my friends who have bolstered their egos didn’t need to hear the message of freedom, they started developing an understanding of freedom themselves. There was less talk about somebody needing to do something and far more talk about their capacity for accomplishing things. Although it may seem minor on the surface it seems to have gotten their brains working in a more independent fashion, which is really what freedom is all about.
So my proposal is this: if you wish to spread the message of freedom start by encouraging your friends to improve their self-confidence and ego. If you have a skill that a friend expresses interest in then teach it to them or at least act as a guide. Pick up a new goal based hobby with some of your friends to encourage them to pursue and attain goals. Encourage your friends to pursue any goals they’ve expressed interest in. As their skills improve and their confidence increases you may find that their susceptibility to fear based manipulation decreases. If that doesn’t seem to be the case then let me know so I can establish some kind of trend and decide whether my proposal is misguided or not.
Every time it appears as though firearm restrictions may be loosened gun control advocates predict blood in the streets. Even though firearm restrictions have been loosened significantly in recent times the gun control advocates’ predictions have remained unrealized. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Violent crime has been going down.
A similar thing is happening with drug restrictions. Every time it appears as though drug restrictions may be loosened drug prohibitionists predict massive spikes in drug usage amongst teens. Drug restrictions have been loosening in recent years but drug usage amongst teens is going down:
Teen drug and alcohol use has fallen to levels not seen since the height of the drug war in the 1990s, according to new federal survey data.
The Monitoring the Future survey of about 50,000 high school students found that “considerably fewer teens reported using any illicit drug other than marijuana in the prior 12 months — 5 percent, 10 percent and 14 percent in grades 8, 10 and 12, respectively — than at any time since 1991.”
Teen alcohol and cigarette use are at historic lows, too. Among all students surveyed in 2016, just over 36 percent had drank alcohol in the previous year. That’s down by nearly half from the high in 1991, when 67 percent of high school students had consumed alcohol.
What’s the cause of this reduction? I could only offer guesses. But I can say for certain that drug prohibitions do not reduce drug usage amongst teens. If anything, the opposite may be true (or there may be no relation between drug usage amongst teens and the legal status of those drugs). Either way, we should stop taking the doom and gloom predictions by drug prohibitionists seriously.