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    The Will to Create

    Tuesday
    Apr222014

    Making the case for liberty and limits

    In 1891 Russia experienced a drought that led to famine. Russian government policies made the problems worse. Below is an excerpt from Orlando Figes Revolutionary Russia 1891-1991: A History:

       Unable to cope with the situation, the government called on the public to help. It was to prove a historic moment, for it opened the door to a powerful new wave of public activity and debate which the government could not control and which quickly turned from the philanthropic to the political.
       The public response was tremendous. Hundreds of committees were formed by 'public men' to raise money for the starving peasants. Thousands of well-meaning citizens joined the relief teams organized by the zemstvos-district councils dominated by the liberal gentry which had done 'good works' for the rural population (building schools and hospitals, providing agronomic help and credit, gathering statistics about peasant life) since their establishment in 1864. Famous writers such as Tolstoy and Chekhov (who was also a doctor) put aside their writing to join the relief campaign. Tolstoy blamed the famine on the social order, the Orthodox Church and the government: 'Everything has happened because of our own sins. We have cut ourselves off from our own brothers, and there is only one remedy--to repent, change our lives, and destroy the walls between us and the people.' His message struck a deep chord in the moral conscience of the liberal public, plagued as it was both by feelings of alienation from the peasantry and by guilt on account of its privileges.

    There's a lot to be learned here: government control can divide the people, causing feeling of alienation -- when people voluntarily work together they can solve social problems -- government interventionism usually makes social problems worse in the long run. Unfortunately, there were no liberals in Russia who could articulate the principles of a free market and limited government, but Trotsky could articulate the virtues of socialism. Eventually there was Revolution and the Bolsheviks prevailed. As a result of going from one form of statism to another, Russia suffered even greater under Lenin and Stalin.

    Why did Germans choose the Nazis? They could've chosen economic liberty and limited government. The Germans chose Nazis, as Mises tells us in Omnipotent Government, because Nazis made the best case and did what they said they would do -- they acted decisively and made things better for a short while. This is what's wrong with pragmatism and utilitarianism, and it's what happens when thinkers don't promote and uphold principles.

    We have the advantage of learning from the Russian and German examples, yet, in 2008 our nation chose progressivism. Why? Free marketers and constitutionalists didn't make the case. No one stood on principles or used reason to persuade low-information voters. It's incredible that history has clearly shown us the disasters caused by greater and greater government interventions, yet Americans still choose greater intervention. Public education has failed. Government has failed. It's time to turn to the private sector -- to each other. A language of liberty and limits must be revived so that all can understand.

        

     

    Tuesday
    Apr222014

    Focusing on income inequality doesn't tell the whole story

    On a MSNBC program this morning Steve Rattner was discussing a book written by a French author regarding income inequality comparing Britain with the US. The numbers show that since around 1980 income equality has been greater in the US than in Britain, and for some strange reason Rattner thinks this is a problem.

    I say some some strange reason because when you look at income and cost of living the average US worker makes significantly more than the British worker and the cost of living in the US is significantly lower than in Britain. Rattner is actually saying that there are more really rich people in the US than in Great Britain. This is a problem?

    Monday
    Apr212014

    Save Libertarianism

    Murray Rothbard wrote about the liberal political transition in the early 20th century when classical liberals split between what today we call modern liberals and libertarians. Libertarians carried forth the ongoing fight to preserve individual rights by supporting the non-aggression principle. Modern liberals, who're becoming indistinguishable from progressives, evolved into full-blown interventionists. They even became  hawks who find new reasons to intervene in foreign affairs, and who apologize for the Obama's administration's drone campaign that has killed thousands of innocent people, even one teenage American whose father, also an American, was deemed a terrorist and killed by a drone ordered by Obama -- no trial, just execution by one man. To make it worse, this teenager wasn't even a threat to our security -- he was a threat to no one. Obama's spokesperson said that this young man should've chosen better parents. This is what "liberals" have ignored to protect their interventionist political views. There was a time when liberals would rebel against such egregious abuse of power. Now liberals promote the welfare/warfare State and thwart libertarian efforts to limit government power.

    The recent increase regarding influence of libertarian ideas upsets many different groups. A large portion of the reaction comes from those who fight to protect State power and feel threatened by libertarian ideas --this is the easiest part of the fight against libertarianism to understand. Statists are natural enemies of libertarians, which is why it's all the more confusing when self-professed libertarians have recently made a case for expanding libertarianism to include different forms of government coercion that libertarians have historically opposed. I understand modern liberals, progressives and moderates who have for years supported government interventions domestically and, abroad, foreign policy entanglements in nations that are no threat to the US, but when libertarians begin finding ways to promote government intervention I'm not sure what to think.

    The attack on libertarians from within has been justified by demands for social justice. These interventionist libertarians believe that the issues of women's rights, gay rights, minority rights, etc, are more important than the non-aggression principle, which they see as too limiting. These libertarians want to create a Big Tent. Obviously, all Big Tents require goverrnment intervention. I've been using the word libertarian, but interventionism is not a libertarian idea, regardless of the noble goals. Not that libertarians don't think gays have a right to bond themselves in marriage to anyone they wish, or that women deserve equal treatment under the law, or that minorities should not be treated differently because of their skin color -- I'd be surprised if any libertarian alive would promote mistreatment of gays, women or minorities -- however, the issues of social justice are beside the libertarian point. First and foremost, we hold that government has no right to intervene in our lives except if we voluntarily form a minimal government to protect our rights to life, liberty and property -- then their interventions are justified only when the interventions are protecting our rights, including border protection from foreign attacks. If we all choose private protection agencies to protect our rights, then, if this could work, that would be fine from a libertarian perspective. The point is to prevent aggression and coercion and to protect the maximum amount of liberty. What we fight for in the private sector, such as social justice, is a matter of choice after our rights are secured. Securing these rights against aggressors is the purpose of libertarianism. Without individual rights social justice is an empty concept. Most of the social justice issues fall under protecting individual rights -- the new defenders of positive rights are reaching for something beyond justice -- they appear to seek revenge and favortisim.

    It's understandable that groups of young libertarians believe that they have to be more inclusive, since most have attended college and were trained to think that government has a role when it comes to issues of social justice and welfare. I hope that as time grows between them and their last lecture on government's responsibility to make gay marriage legal, these young libertarians will realize that government has no business making laws that pertain to marriage. The mistake that honest libertarians are making is to capitulate to the most recent justification for government intervention. When socialism became influential in America, this is precisely how liberals, now called classical liberals, were split between statists and anti-statists. Liberals were convinced by the leading interventionists of the time that government has a role in modern society to protect workers from the Robber-Barons of industry. Marxists ideas were adjusted to appeal to an American sense of fairness, and then progression of State power expansion was practically unimpeded for nearly a century. The Reagan Era was the only earnest resistance movement -- otherwise, progressive/interventionst policies have won out. Young people have no way to compare the way things are now to how they were when liberty was at its greatest in America. Instead, young pople have been taught a statist history that highlights human failures they can associate with the private sector, and they've glorified the State as the State has promoted progressive policies and grand wars to present the world with democracy. Some students might have received an education of how bad American government was before, but now the Democratic Party strives to achieve social justice and reparations for harm done.

    Either way, current interventionism, redistribution and regulation are praised as the only ways to a better world. The young student is left with the impression that an unfettered private sector is a jungle with rich capitalists as Kings of Jungle who'll lord over the poor working masses if government doesn't keep them in their proper place. The proper place for rich capitalists must be on the government payroll, by the looks of things in DC. Young people, even when they adopt libertarianism, are still uncertain about strict limits on government power and a truly free market. These young people have heard over and over, from Hollywood to coffee shops to their leftist parents, that the market requires control, that the private sector will not provide a safety net for the needy, that people are selfish and, thus, a centralized, powerful government is vital to the welfare of all Americans. The private sector captains of industry are powerful, so there must be a force powerful enough to keep them from plundering and keeping consumers dependent on their whims.

    My fear is that a new generation will concede to the basic premises that justify an interventionist government and ignore constitutional limits. Young libertarians should learn to distinguish between a Big Tent and a division into two tents, with one tent labled compassionate and the other mean and brutal. These are statist tactics used to marginalize those who won't submit to State power. My hope is young libertarians save libertarianism and stand tough to a frontal assault that aims to destroy the non-aggression principle and, thus, the entire liberty movement. When classical liberals capitulated to interventionism, there were relatively strict limits on the power of the State, but now it's a given the State possesses great power, and it's accepted as mostly a good thing. Public education has trained several generations to submit to authority without thinking, and in many cases without knowledge of what liberty entails. More and more we have the illusion of power, but when we come up against the State and there's a controversy over individual rights, it's quickly evident who has power and who's lost real liberty. As long as you obey the ever-increasing list of rules and regulations, all is fine, but when we buck the sytem and challenge the constitutionality of the interventions, then all is not fine.

    Young libertarians can innovate in the private sector and save libertarianism while also achieving their personal goals of social justice. It's a different world, and the Information Age presents possibilities not realized before. After libertarians have secured protection of rights, there's no end to the possibilities for a better world, but it all has to be freely chosen, and each individual has to fight their own causes. Let's not shrink libertarianism to a few popular causes -- let's keep it open and inclusive by sticking to the non-aggression principle. In today's world, ending aggression is a big enough task to keep us all busy for decades.

    Friday
    Apr182014

    Harry Reid calls Nevada protesters domestic terrorists

    I've been thinking about the Bundy situation in Nevada. I still don't have all the facts regarding the history of the Bundy family's ranch, the relationship with the surrounding land, how regulations evolved, and for what purposes the regulations were created. If I had to guess whether Bundy started the problems or whether government encroachment created the problems, I'd have to guess the latter is the major problem.

    The fact that Harry Reid is escalating the problem by calling protesters domestic terrorists tells me something else is involved here. Either Reid is setting up an excuse to use amed force, or Reid spots a political opportunity to blame Republicans for the actions of militia groups, or Reid has a personal investment in the land that hasn't yet been reported. It's odd that Reid would insert himself so forcefully in this disagreement between BLM and the Bundy family.

    One thing I know is that so far the government response has been unnecessarily inflammatory. On an MSNBC show this morning, John Heilleman was showing his disdain for the militia groups by saying if government imposed extra taxes on him, he wouldn't respond by gathering an amed militia, but then government wouldn't likely bring armed agents to collect the taxes and then tase John's partner. It's different for a hipster in NYC than it is for ranchers in Nevada who've been batterred by government regulations for decades.

    Thursday
    Apr172014

    This thing is working!

    Obama said today that ACA is working and it's time to end the argument. Several pundits have commented on Obama's speech and pointed out his deception, but it's worth considering the extent of the deception. Obama said Republican Governors who haven't accepted the Medicaid expansion are doing so because they don't like the President. Obama said that expanding Medicaid to the poor and uninsured wouldn't cost the states a dime.

    This is another brazen lie. The federal government is paying participating states for Medicaid expansion for a couple of years, then states have to pay for the expansion which could be financially disastrous. The truth is that many states are in financial trouble already, so the additional cost of paying for the expansion in a few years could throw them over the edge.

    Obama said that 8 million Americans have signed up fo ACA, but no one knows what this means. Objective sources are reporting that many "sign-ups' are not paying enrollees and that most are people who already had insurrance but were thrown off their plans by ACA, so they had to go though the exchanges. To someone who was listening but hasn't had time to research the truth regarding ACA, he or she would likely believe the President when he falsely implies that 8 million Americans are getting coverage who didn't have coverage before -- and the low information listener would think that the GOP governors who refuse to extend Medicaid are hurting the poor for no good reason -- they're hurting the poor just to hurt Obama.

    How much longer will we put up with this deception? It's pathetic that a country with as much potential to achieve great things as America is held hostage by this gang of propagandists and power-mongers.