Archive for the ‘ Liberty ’ Category

Being An American

Being an American means recognizing that America is primarily an idea, not a plot of land, and not an order of authority and rule.

Being an American does not imply collective identity.

Being an American is not about national pride.

Being an American does not mean the inheritance of, or the obligation to adhere to, any particular culture.

Being an American does not mean particular privilege.
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Niche Activism

There is a flavor of political activism for every belief, background, or personal preference. We have them for gays, Christians, atheists, gun lovers, Jews, gun haters, women, Muslims, homeschoolers, public school teachers, children, families, poor people, businesspeople, environmentalists, etc.

Almost all of these movements arose out of a condition of encroachment, oppression, or violence. This means that most of these groups began with an excellent cause and were justified in their advocacy. The problem is that most of these niche movements will continue to exist and operate long after they have achieved justice and fairness. The reason is that these advocacy groups were never founded on any kind of a rational principle, rather they were founded on the basis of self-interest—a group of people were not happy with the way things were working out for them. But self-interest is no ethical principle at all. Unrestrained self-interest is the lack of ethical principle. At first this seems obvious, but it gets fuzzy when self-interest and ethical principle happen to overlap.
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Should Liberals Back The Libertarian?

Charles Davis suggests that they should.  He says that Ron Paul…

…would – and this is important, I think – stop killing poor foreigners with cluster bombs and Predator drones. Unlike the Nobel Peace Prize winner-in-chief, Paul would also bring the troops home from not just Afghanistan and Iraq, but Europe, Korea and Okinawa. There’d be no need for a School of the Americas because the U.S. wouldn’t be busy training foreign military personnel the finer points of human rights abuses. Israel would have to carry out its war crimes on its own dime.

Even on on the most pressing domestic issues of the day, Paul strikes me as a hell of a lot more progressive than Obama. Look at the war on drugs: Obama has continued the same failed prohibitionist policies as his predecessors, maintaining a status quo that has placed 2.3 million – or one in 100 – Americans behind bars, the vast majority African-American and Hispanic. Paul, on the other hand, has called for ending the drug war and said he would pardon non-violent offenders, which would be the single greatest reform a president could make in the domestic sphere, equivalent in magnitude to ending Jim Crow.

Davis notes the leftist’s readiness to abandon principle, as long as that principle is defiled by their own man:

Democratic partisans – liberals – are willing to trade the lives of a couple thousand poor Pakistani tribesman in exchange for a few liberal catnip-filled speeches and NPR tote bags for the underprivileged…liberals, especially the pundit class, don’t much care about dead foreigners. They’re a political problem at best – will the Afghan war derail Obama’s re-election campaign? – not a moral one. And liberals are more than willing to accept a few charred women and children in some country they’ll never visit in exchange for increasing social welfare spending by 0.02 percent, or at least not cutting it by as much as a mean ‘ol Rethuglican.

We are so consumed with fighting for our side that we are apathetic when our own party abandons our core principles.  This touches on a post I made a while back on the danger of the us vs. them mentality.

Government Expansion—Inevitability

Government is the abusive spouse toward whom we persist in love. We know that that the relationship is unhealthy and against our own best interest, but we refuse to abandon hope. Even when we have no reason to trust the rhetoric, the promises, and the assurances, we believe. We have a will to believe, and so we do.

The right continues to believe even when their man expands spending faster than the left.

The left continues to believe even when their man, on foreign policy, is virtually indistinguishable from George W. Bush, the man they revile.

Obama embraces the drug war.

Bush embraced the welfare state.

This is not new.

Ronald Reagan raised taxes.

Not only did Lyndon Baines Johnson expand the war in Vietnam, he did it under false pretext.

History teaches us that, regardless of rhetoric, government expands in every way, and never contracts. So if the government is involved in anything that you do not approve of, you can be virtually sure that they will continue to spend more of your dollars on that very thing. It does not matter who you elect. This will not change.

Almost everyone says that politicians are opportunistic and untrustworthy—we have plenty of experience to reinforce this assertion—and yet with our pet politician, we replace that cynicism with faith. But that faith contradicts what experience tells us; it is the nature of government to expand and it will not do otherwise.

We need to reevaluate our confidence in any individual politician, in any political party, and in the political system as we know it.

We Are Terrible at Democracy

Cracked published an excellent article entitled 5 Reasons Humanity is Terrible at Democracy. It is a very entertaining—yet disturbing—read.  The article shows that the typical person’s thought process is so biased and distorted into a hypocritical, narcissistic, nonsensical mess by sensationalist, collectivist propaganda and cheerleading that little hope exists for the average voter to make decisions in the interest of “the greater good”.

The article touches on several of the points I make in my essay on the dangers of a collectivist mindset.

 

Their Threat Is Your Threat

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.

– Thomas Paine

We Ally with the Different, yet Closely Related…

As I’ve discussed previously, people tend to form collective groups and then campaign only for the interests of those groups.  But an interesting thing happens when these groups, though separate, recognize a common threat.  They ally.

Consider all of the people who attend a gay rights parade who are not actually gay. At these gatherings you will find practitioners of all kinds of unconventional sexual behavior: polyamory, transvestitism, BDSM, and fetishism.  We see different groups of people united out of the recognition of a common threat: people who would forcefully limit the sexual behavior of consenting adults.  They correctly recognize that successful forceful action against any of these groups sets a precedent.  That precedent says that it is okay to use force to limit private consensual behavior that some people do not like.  And once that precedent is set, these different groups know that they could be targeted next.
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State-Business Cooperation: Then and Now

The critically important idea that the law applies to the king, enshrined in the Magna Carta was, until very recently, enforced by American courts.  Consider the case of one, Ms. Roberts, whose safe deposit box was robbed by the police:
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The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure: One of the Most Evil Books in Print by Roger Roots

When you realize that even the justice system—arguably the most basic function of government—does not work for the people, but for the government itself, you begin to wonder, “Which parts of the government are working for me?

Roget Roots explains:

Today, most federal crimes are felonies, and conviction brings more or less automatic prison time.

Altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers? Up to 5 years in Federal prison. Using the telephone to incite or to “organize, promote,” or even encourage a riot? Up to 5 years. Attempting to coerce any federal employee into “any political activity”? Up to 3 years. Removing or affixing a U.S. Customs seal on any merchandise without government permission? Up to 10 years in prison. Transporting “terrorists” on your boat? Up to life in prison. Engaging in “street gang” activity? An additional 10 years may be added to your sentence. Knowingly using a misleading domain name on the Internet in order to attract viewers to online porn? Up to two years in prison. Sending a letter in the mail urging insurrection? Up to 10 years. Trading with known pirates on the high seas? Up to 3 years.

The book seems to provide dozens of separate laws exposing unwary Americans to federal prison for simply filling out paperwork wrong. (Note that these provisions are almost never applied to people in government, who regularly fill out paperwork incorrectly.) There are provisions subjecting Americans to life in prison for cocaine possession. There are open-ended provisions which may (or may not) criminalize pouring a cup of coffee on the ground (and thus violating the Clean Water Act) or accidentally catching certain breeds of fish from the oceans. It remains only for a savvy prosecutor to fill in the blanks and add to the list of crimes that Congress may (or may not) have created.

Few people are aware that the Federal Rules (not just of criminal procedure but of civil procedure, appellate procedure, bankruptcy procedure and Supreme Court procedure) are riddled with provisions that grant more time to the government to file and respond to pleadings and briefs, greater privileges of appearance, and greater ease of prosecuting and defending litigation than individuals in the private sector. The governing advisory committees that produce these rules of procedure have offered no explanation for these filing requirement disparities.

“Right vs. Left” Misses the Point

People are conditioned to believe that either the left or the right is their enemy.  Maybe this is confusion.

The left sees in the right advocacy of corporate exploitation, oppression of those who opt for alternative lifestyles, and the enforcement of correct religion in our country and throughout the world.  The right sees in the left the exploitation of the productive for the benefit of the unproductive, oppression of those who opt for traditional or religious lifestyles, and the enforcement of particular behaviors deemed to be healthy and/or sustainable.
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Earth – The Insane Asylum

This is an excellent video that hits on several of the key points in my essays on government as force, and the problems with collectivism.  I’m rather unenthusiastic with his conclusion that the masses are insane and therefore inconvertible.  I see it as a matter of momentum.  Statism and tyranny currently have the momentum, however that isn’t necessarily inevitable—particularly with the Internet that now allows for instant widespread truth dissemination.  I believe there is cause for optimism.  Still, in spite of the pessimism, it’s a thought-provoking piece for those losing faith in the capability of government to solve problems.