Thursday, December 30, 2010
We Need Your End of Year Support
If you haven’t already made an end-of-year donation to The Future of Freedom Foundation, I hope you will do so. Our work for liberty in the coming year depends in large part on the financial support we receive at the end of the preceding year. Of course, since FFF is a non-profit, educational foundation a donation made to FFF prior to January 1 is tax-deductible for the current year.
Our mission is to present an uncompromising moral, philosophical, and economic case for the free society. Our methodology is to introduce sound ideas on liberty into the general marketplace of ideas by integrating libertarian analysis and solutions with the burning issues of the day.
The only way that people can begin reflecting on libertarian ideas is to be exposed to them. While we can’t ever be certain that libertarian ideas will be accepted by others, it’s the only chance we have to restore a free society to our land. If people don’t ever hear of libertarian principles and solutions, then the likelihood is that they will never come to consider and reflect upon them.
We’re more convinced than ever that as people begin realizing that the root cause of America’s woes lies in the statist policies of the federal government, they will finally come to the realization that the only solution to such woes lies in libertarianism. As the libertarian movement continues to grow, it can ultimately reach a critical mass that overcomes the statism that afflicts our land and restores a free-market, limited-government republic to our land.
We need your financial support to continue spreading libertarian ideas. Our work truly depends on those of you who share our concern for the future and our commitment to the values of a free society.
If you would like to help us out with an end of year donation to FFF, please go to our secure website and make an end of year donation or send us a check or credit card information to FFF at our address below.
Thank you very much for your consideration, your commitment to liberty, and your support of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
The Future of Freedom Foundation
11350 Random Hills Road
Fairfax VA 22030
Tel. (703) 934-6101
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Why Not Force People to Give Christmas Presents?
Imagine if the Obama administration proposed a new federal law that required everyone to give Christmas presents to every member of his family, to at least 5 poor people in the community, and to at least one public official.
Wouldn’t most everyone be offended? Wouldn’t most Americans say, “It’s no business of government to be telling me who I should give Christmas presents to. That’s my decision. If I want to give presents to my family, to the poor, and to public officials, I’ll make that decision. I don’t need the law to force me to do it”?
Yet, a statist might respond: “But many people might not give Christmas presents to their parents or to their siblings or even to their children. Many others won’t give a present to the poor. And most people won’t even think of giving presents to public officials — the group in society that does the most good for others. What could be more wrongful than that? Anyway, for those people who are already giving to these groups, the law won’t matter. It’s really for those people whose selfishness, greediness, and self-centeredness prevents them from demonstrating genuine Christmas spirit.”
My hunch is that most Americans would nonetheless reject that statist position.
Yet, why is that that most Americans continue to support the welfare state? Isn’t it based on the same philosophical principle — that people need to be forced to help others? Isn’t Social Security based on the notion that young people should be forced to provide financial assistance to their parents and other senior citizens? Aren’t Medicare and Medicaid based on the same principle? Food stamps, public housing, bank bailouts, education grants, farm subsidies, and community grants? Indeed, isn’t foreign aid based on the principle that Americans have a moral duty to provide financial help to foreign regimes, including dictatorial ones?
If it’s wrong to force people to buy Christmas presents for others, why isn’t it equally wrong to force people to give money to others through the political process? If people are going to be left free to decide for themselves who to give Christmas presents to, then why not also leave them free to decide who to donate their money to?
When the young rich man asked Jesus what else he could do to follow the Lord, Jesus responded by telling the man to sell everything he had and to give it to the poor. Unable to let go of his attachment to earthly riches, the young man rejected the counsel and walked away. Jesus did not call on Caesar to force the young man to give his riches to the poor. That would have constituted a violation of God’s great gift of free will. That would have meant rendering something to Caesar that rightfully belongs to God.
The story of the young rich man is one that every Christian should reflect upon, especially when it comes to laws that require people to give Christmas presents or welfare to others .
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
American Statism and North Korea
Yesterday’s New York Times carried an interesting article about North Korea that in some ways reminds one of the United States. The country is suffering severe economic depression but the government is promising that prosperity is just around the corner. Meanwhile, everyone must sacrifice for the sake of the military, which protects the country from the ever-present threat of foreign attack (by the U.S. military).
Here in the United States, statist economists love to blame America’s economic woes on “our free-enterprise system.” The notion stretches back to the Great Depression, when the statists of that time blamed the 1929 stock-market crash on the “failure of America’s free enterprise system” rather than on the true culprit — the federal government.
But the real brilliance of the statists came with the advent of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. Although FDR’s program was a combination of European socialism and fascism, the statists sold it to the American people as a “reform” that would “save” America’s free-enterprise system.
The American people bought it. Even though they were shocked when the federal government began handing out “free money,” such as with Social Security or farm subsidies, and with regulating economic activity, such as with the SEC and the NIRA, since it was all part of “reforming” and “saving” our “free-enterprise system,” rather than instituting European socialism and fascism here in the United States, it was all okay in the minds of the American people living at that time.
Of course, over the decades the welfare state — the paternalistic state — the regulatory state — has grown into a monstrosity, one that now infringes on the privacy and liberty of the American people and also threatens to bankrupt the federal government, such as what has happened in Greece and Ireland. Compounding the problem is the U.S. empire-warfare state that came into existence during World War II and has continuously expanded ever since.
The statists argue, however, that America’s economic woes have nothing to do with the welfare state and the warfare state. It’s all due to America’s “free enterprise system.” Sometimes they use other terms, such as speculators, or entrepreneurs, or profiteers, or middlemen, or the rich, but the point is clear: Since everyone knows that America has a free enterprise system, it’s free enterprise that has failed again, just like in 1929. That means, according to the statists, that we need more New Deal type of reforms to save free enterprise and restore prosperity to our land — i.e., more regulations, decrees, taxes, spending, controls, etcetera.
So, what do the statists say is the cause of North Korea’s economic woes? That’s a fascinating question. After all, North Korea, like Cuba, has simply taken Franklin Roosevelt’s statism to its logical conclusion. In North Korea, the state takes care of everyone. Social Security, Medicare. Medicaid. Food. Housing. Clothing. Jobs. Public schools. Yep, it’s all there in North Korea.
Consider this statement by a 59-year-old North Korean: “I heard a rumor that he said we have more bullets than food. So maybe he will be a good leader and feed the people.”
See the mindset? Like so many Americans, North Koreans believe that it is government’s job to take care of them, even while recognizing that sometimes people must sacrifice for the sake of the military.
How is that different from the mindset of the average liberal and conservative in America?
The following statement by a North Korean university student in response to 2,000 new desktop computers installed in the university would easily express the sentiments of American liberals: “This is a very good present from Chairman Kim Jong-il.” And don’t liberals always justify cuts in military spending by showing how the government could use the money to better take care of the American people, with schools, food, housing, and the like?
On the other hand, don’t conservatives constantly remind us that we must continue making sacrifices for the sake of the military, the military-industrial complex, and the CIA, so that they can keep us safe from the terrorists, the communists, the Muslims, the illegal aliens, and the drug dealers? The following statement by a North Korean maid would easily serve as a model for American conservatives: “Even if we don’t eat, we give the military everything we can.”
My hunch is that the American statist economist would blame North Korea’s economic woes on too much economic freedom. The last thing any statist is going to do is raise doubts about the paternalistic welfare state or the national-security warfare state, either here in the United States or anywhere else.
According the Times, “Hundreds [of private markets] have sprung up nationwide, but officials play down their importance because they flout the socialist credo.”
You see, there’s the problem! Too many private markets within the North Korea’s socialist paradise. All that’s needed for prosperity, America’s statist economists would argue, is more control and regulation over those private markets. Isn’t that what they say here at home?
Monday, December 27, 2010
Shifting Toward Libertarianism
People sometimes ask why libertarians have had a difficult time achieving success in the political arena. The answer is: Because libertarians are calling for an entirely new paradigm, rather than simply a reform of the status quo. Given the opposition that many people have toward major change, the task that libertarians have is much bigger and more difficult than that which the reformers have.
Consider the welfare state and warfare state.
All that the reformer has to do is come up with plans on how to rein in federal spending, without touching Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the drug war, and other welfare programs, departments, and agencies. No matter how bad things get, many people will grasp at any new reform plan that is presented to them. What matters is that the welfare state be preserved at all costs, even if it must be altered or modified in some way.
It’s no different with the warfare state. People are convinced that the nation could not survive without a massive military, military-industrial complex, overseas bases, CIA, and the entire national security state edifice. They will consider plans to abolish some expensive military boondoggle or close some outdated military base, but the last thing they want to hear is that it’s the military, CIA, and national security state that are themselves the real threat to the freedom and well being of our nation.
In fact, the very thought that the federal government, both with its welfare and warfare functions, is different from the country doesn’t even begin to compute in the minds of many people. For them, the federal government and the country are one and the same.
Moreover, many Americans remain absolutely convinced that both the welfare state and the warfare state are core components of America’s “free enterprise” system. In their minds, such welfare programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, food stamps, bank bailouts, FDIC, the Federal Reserve, foreign aid, and income taxation are all part and parcel of our great “free-enterprise” system. And it’s the same with respect to the military, including all the bases, personnel, and tens of thousands of private businesses that depend on military largess. In the minds of many Americans, it’s all part and parcel of our “free-enterprise” system.
So, it’s not difficult to see why such Americans feel so uncomfortable when they encounter a libertarian. All their lives, such Americans have believed that they live in a society based on “freedom and free enterprise.” But then they encounter a libertarian, a person who is striving to restore freedom and free enterprise to America.
That makes many people very uncomfortable. After all, striving to restore freedom and free enterprise implies that the status quo entails the absence of freedom and free enterprise. Obviously, the absence of freedom and free enterprise is the opposite of freedom and free enterprise.
Thus, the libertarian causes people to question something they’ve believed all their lives. Many people would rather not do that. Questioning a paradigm under which one has operated all his life is not an easy process, especially when one has lived his entire life living under what he considers to be reality and truth.
So, the easiest thing becomes to simply ignore the libertarian. Don’t listen to him. Shun him. Keep him away. Perhaps even silence him. That way, he can’t make the person feel uncomfortable.
Ultimately, however, fundamental change can come only when enough people in society demand it. What will cause a sufficient number of people to reach a critical mass that will shift America toward libertarianism?
Well, reality has an interesting way of mugging people in the face, whether they like it or not. The welfare-warfare state is cracking apart everywhere. Of course, the statists are blaming it all on “freedom and free enterprise” and arguing for more welfarism and warfarism to get America back on its feet.
But the reality, which we libertarians continue to emphasize, is that the root of the problem is the welfare-warfare paradigm itself. For people who desire a decent, normal, functional, harmonious, and free society, there is no other choice but libertarianism. Reforming the welfare-warfare state isn’t going to accomplish anything positive and is instead likely to make things worse.
The good news is that more and more people are discovering the virtues of libertarianism every day. They are achieving the “breakthrough” that enables them to see the welfare-warfare state for what it is: an immoral and deadly paradigm that is threatening the freedom and well-being of the American people. They are shifting toward the libertarian paradigm, along with its foundation of morality, liberty, private property, and a limited-government republic. When a critical mass is reached, the change toward the new paradigm could come very suddenly and unexpectedly, much like when the Berlin Wall came crashing down.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Imperial Terrorism in Italy
What would happen if agents of the Venezuelan government entered the United States, kidnapped a person suspected of being a terrorist, and whisked him away to Cuba to have him tortured?
I’ll tell you: U.S. officials would be hopping mad, along with all their statist supporters. “Bomb them into the Stone Age!” the statists would scream. “Nuke ’em! Nuke ’em all, both in Venezuela and Cuba!” they’d cry.
But what happens when agents of the U.S. Empire enter Italy, kidnap a person suspected of being a terrorist, and whisk him away to Egypt to have him tortured?
Answer: The U.S. Empire and its statist supporters exclaim, “What great freedom fighters we have working for the Empire!”
Alas, the Italian courts don’t agree. This week an Italian appeals court not onlyupheld the criminal convictions of 23 CIA agents who kidnapped a man on the streets of Milan and whisked him away to Egypt to have him tortured, it actually increased their sentences — from 5-8 years to 7-9 years. The agents were convicted last November — in absentia because they were too scared to return to face their accusers. The Italian court rejected the notion that following orders of their superiors mitigated their crime (which is precisely what the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal held at the end of World War II).
Meanwhile, the Obama administration takes the same position as the Bush administration. It refuses to extradite the CIA felons to Italy to serve out their sentences.
Why doesn’t the U.S. Empire’s refusal to send these convicted felons to Italy constitute “harboring terrorists”? Isn’t the supposed reason that U.S. troops are killing and dying in Afghanistan is because of the Empire’s purported concern that the Taliban will “harbor terrorists” if it returns to power?
Given the Empire’s refusal to send those CIA convicts to Italy to face the music, the irony is that real reason that the Bush administration got mad at the Taliban was its refusal to comply with Bush’s unconditional demand to deliver Osama bin Laden to the United States.
Even today, the Empire refuses to extradite accused terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to face justice in Venezuela. He’s the CIA operative who is accused of planting a bomb on a Cuban civilian airliner, which ended up killing dozens of innocent people, including the members of Cuba’s fencing team. Why isn’t the Empire’s refusal to turn Posada over to Venezuelan authorities considered “harboring a terrorist”?
Oh well, no one has ever accused the Empire of moral consistency. But the Italian episode certainly demonstrates the utter hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy. When foreigners engage in terrorism, the Empire calls them terrorists. When members of the Empire engage in terrorism, the Empire calls them “freedom fighters.”
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Bill of Prohibitions Day
Bill of Rights Day was yesterday. Undoubtedly, American statists celebrated the fact that the Constitution and the federal government give them their rights and that the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are fighting to protect their politically granted rights.
Actually, however, neither the government nor the Constitution gives rights to anyone. Rights are natural and God-given and pre-exist government. As Jefferson pointed out in the Declaration, the principal reason that governments are instituted is to protect the exercise of these preexisting rights.
Protect from whom? From that small segment of society that consists of the violent people, such as murderers, rapists, thieves, burglars, invaders, and the like.
The Framers understood that most of these acts of violence would be handled at the state and local level. The federal government wouldn’t have jurisdiction over, say, a murder committed in Kansas. Only state officials could prosecute a suspect for that crime.
When the Constitution called into existence the federal government, the Framers limited its powers to those few powers enumerated in the Constitution. Thus, the Constitution didn’t give rights to people, and neither did the government that the Constitution called into existence. Natural and God-given rights already adhered in people by virtue of their humanity, before the Constitution was written and before the federal government was called into existence by the Constitution.
The Bill of Rights was actually misnamed. It should have been called the Bill of Prohibitions. It doesn’t give people any rights whatsoever. The people who crafted the Bill of Rights were careful to make certain that the language prohibited the federal government from infringing upon preexisting rights.
Consider, for example the First Amendment. It doesn’t give people the right of freedom of speech. It prohibits the government from infringing on the preexisting right of freedom of speech. The same goes for the Second Amendment. It doesn’t give people the right to keep and bear arms. Instead it prohibits the government from infringing on this fundamental, preexisting right.
In other words, if the Bill of Rights had never been enacted, people would still have the fundamental rights of freedom of speech, the right to keep and bear arms, and all other natural, God-given rights.
The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments fall into a different category. Those amendments consist of procedural protections relating to government efforts to take people into custody and punish them. Those rights were carved out from centuries of resistance to English tyranny by the English citizenry.
Thus, to prevent government from arbitrarily picking up somebody, jailing him, torturing him, and even executing him, the people who crafted the Bill of Rights expressly enunciated the procedural prerequisites that federal officials would have to follow before doing those things. Such protections included trial by jury, right to counsel, due process of law, protection from cruel and unusual punishments, right to bail, right to confront witnesses, and others.
Why did our American ancestors deem it necessary to have a bill of prohibitions, which expressly protected the people from the federal government? Because our ancestors were certain that in the absence of those express prohibitions, federal officials, including those in Congress and the military, would do the things that were being prohibited.
Our ancestors had no doubts that if the Framers had established a federal government of unlimited powers, with no Bill of Rights, the government would end up doing such things as punishing people for criticizing the government, disarming people, jailing people without trial, torturing them, and even executing them.
How would the federal government operate today without the Bill of Rights? All we have to do is look at Iraq and Afghanistan for the answer. Operating without any restrictions on power, U.S. officials, including the military, have targeted people for criticizing the government, disarmed people, incarcerated people indefinitely without trial, tortured people, arbitrarily searched people’s homes and personal effects, and even executed people.
How the federal government has operated in Iraq and Afghanistan with no Bill of Rights is a constant reminder of why our ancestors demanded the enactment of the Bill of Rights. They knew that without it, federal officials would be doing to Americans what they’ve been doing to Iraqis and Afghans. That’s the best reason to celebrate Bill of Rights Day.
P.S. Jim Bovard’s great op-ed on Bill of Rights Day was reprinted in today’sWashington Times. Read it here
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The Envy and Covetousness of Progressives
Get a load of this op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times: “Give Up on the Estate Tax” by Ray D. Madoff, a professor at Boston College Law School.
Referring to the estate tax, Madoff writes: “This tax, first enacted in 1916, was never intended to be simply a device for raising revenue. Rather, it was meant to address the phenomenon of a small number of Americans controlling large amounts of the country’s wealth — which was considered a national problem.”
Considered a national problem? By whom?
Why, by progressives, of course — certain Americans in the early part of the 20th century who hated the fact that some people have more when others had less. What guided the progressives was envy and covetousness, which led inevitably to their ideology of using state power to take away money from the rich, with the purported aim of “equalizing wealth” within society by giving it away to the poor.
Of course, the amount to be redistributed was always less than the amount taxed because the selfless federal politicians and bureaucrats performing this important service expected to be paid handsome salaries for doing so.
Madoff quotes Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (one of the early progressives): “We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have democracy, but we can’t have both.”
That has got to be one of the most ludicrous statements ever uttered. Democracy is a political process by which people cast their votes in elections. Even if most of the wealth is concentrated in a small group of people in a society, how does that prevent everyone else from going to the ballot box and casting their ballots?
When the socialists — oh, excuse me, the progressives — imported their statism to the United States, their justification was based on the notion that there is an inherent conflict between rich and poor in a totally free market. The rich not only keep getting richer, said the statists, but their wealth actually ensures that the poor stay poor.
That is one ludicrous notion. Actually, in a genuinely free market system, everyone’s interests harmonize. The rich provide the businesses and industries that hire the poor. The profits they make go into capital. The savings of the workers also go into capital. That capital enables businesses and industries to purchase the tools and equipment that make the workers more productive. More production means higher revenues and profits. That means higher wages for the workers.
That’s the system that once characterized the United States. No income tax. No estate tax. No Social Security tax. No Medicare tax. No welfare programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, community grants, bailouts, foreign aid, public housing, food stamps, farm subsidies, etcetera. That was the key to wealth, especially for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. It’s not a coincidence that the poor were flooding American shores every day, leaving the lands of statism to come to the land of free markets and unlimited accumulation of wealth.
Does everyone get wealthy in a genuinely free market? Of course not. Some businesses go out of business. Some people make bad investments. That’s the nature of life. What matters, as far as individual liberty is concerned, is: (1) that everyone have the right to become wealthy by engaging in free enterprise (that is, free of government control) and accumulating unlimited amounts of wealth in the process; and (2) a free market raises the overall standard of living for people living in that society.
The problem is that once the progressives realized that there were people getting rich, including people who had been poor before they became rich, that drove the progressives batty. The great sins of envy and covetousness took control over their minds. Their obsession became to convert America’s system to a welfare state, one by which they could use the state to “equalize” wealth.
By the way, the same mindset characterized the leaders of Cuba, North Korea, the Soviet Union, and China. They simply carried out the equalization principle to its logical conclusion — take everything from the rich and keep it for “society” or give it to the poor. That’s why people in those countries have lived most of their lives in extreme poverty. The only reason that China is prospering today is that the government has let up on the economic controls.
In the late 1800s, the battle was on here in the United States — between the economic libertarians and the progressives. Ultimately, the progressives prevailed, including in the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1937 case of West Coast Hotel v. Parrish established, once and for all, that the Supreme Court would never again declare any socialist law in violation of the Constitution.
Why is the United States besieged by economic crises today? The same reason it’s besieged by foreign-policy crises: Because Americans, following the siren song of the progressives and, for that matter, the interventionists, abandoned the principles of liberty, free markets, and a constitutional republic with their embrace of socialism, interventionism, and military empire. What better time to reverse the statist victory than now?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The Moral Relativism of U.S. Interventionists
Consider this opening paragraph from an article in last Sunday’s edition of theNew York Times:
After World War II, American counterintelligence recruited former Gestapo officers, SS veterans and Nazi collaborators to an even greater extent than had been previously disclosed and helped many of them avoid prosecution or looked the other way when they escaped, according to thousands of newly declassified documents.
From the time that American children are forced into the public (i.e., government) schools, one of the important things that are drummed into their heads is the moral underpinning of World War II. It’s the “good war” they repeat ad infinitum in the government schools.
Let’s go back to World War I. After that war, the American people were disgusted. They had seen the U.S. government sacrifice more than 100,000 American men for nothing. The war had been sold as a way to end all wars into the future and to make the world “safe for democracy.” It accomplished neither. World War I was a total waste of American life. The good news is that American interventionists never brag about American intervention in World War I, undoubtedly because they’re embarrassed or ashamed about it.
In fact, it was U.S. intervention in World War I that contributed to the conditions that gave rise to Hitler and the Nazis, including the total defeat of Germany and the vengeful Treaty of Versailles.
From the first grade on up, it’s ingrained in Americans that World War II was a great victory for freedom. Yet, the Poles and other Eastern Europeans don’t quite see it that way.
Let’s not forget the reason that Great Britain and France declared war on Germany: Germany’s invasion of Poland, which Hitler justified by Poland’s refusal to renegotiate the Polish Corridor that had been established in the Treaty of Versailles. England’s and France’s aim: to free the Polish people from Nazi totalitarian dictatorship.
What was the result after World War II? It is true that the Poles were freed from Nazi tyranny, but what U.S. interventionists call a great victory for freedom was the fact that Poland and Eastern Europe were now under the domination of the Soviet communists, rather than the Nazis.
Why would anyone consider communist control and domination to be freedom? The idea is that because the United States was partners with the Soviet communists, when the Soviets occupied Eastern Europe that meant that “we” had brought freedom to the Poles and Eastern Europeans. It’s easy to see why the Poles and other Eastern Europeans felt otherwise.
U.S. interventionists say that Hitler and the Nazis were so evil that it was necessary to take sides against them, even if it meant partnering with the Soviet communists. They also say that it would have been wrong to negotiate an early peace that would have entailed replacing the Nazis with a liberal regime and keep Eastern Europe free of Soviet domination because that would have been double-crossing “our” Soviet partner.
Let’s consider that New York Times article again — the one that points out that U.S. officials were secretly partnering with Nazis, whose evil has always been used to justify U.S. intervention into World War II. At the end of the war, the U.S. government was partnering with those evil people. It was all kept secret of course, until now. National security!
What the reason for the partnership between the United States and the Nazis? To wage a new Cold War against the U.S. government’s former partner, the Soviet Union, a war that would mean ever-growing big government in America.
Here began the major, non-stop expansion of the U.S. military, the military-industrial complex, the national security state, the CIA, and the imperial role for the U.S. government. In the process, the U.S. government collaborated with Nazis in order to oppose its former partner and new enemy, the Soviet Union.
I’d be remiss if I failed to point out that U.S. intervention in World War II also led to the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. It also failed to save hardly any European Jews from the Holocaust, but of course, as we all know, the U.S. government didn’t care about the plight of the Jews anyway, either before or during World War II (See my article “Locking Out the Immigrant.”)
The U.S. partnership with the communists and then the Nazis would not be the only unsavory partnership for the U.S. government. In 1963, the year that John Kennedy was assassinated, the CIA partnered with the Mafia, one of the most vicious, cruel, murderous criminal organizations in history, with the aim of protecting “national security” by trying to assassinate Fidel Castro, the communist ruler of Cuba, a country that had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.
Don’t forget also the U.S. Empire’s post-World War II collaboration with other brutal dictatorial regimes, such as in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Latin America, and elsewhere.
As America continues headed toward economic bankruptcy, partly due to the ever-growing military establishment, it’s time for the American people to reflect on what the turn toward militarism and empire has done to our nation. Time has proven that President Eisenhower was right when he warned us about the growing threat from the military industrial complex. It is bankrupting our nation, turning the world against us, making us more unsafe, and threatening our freedom, privacy, and democratic processes.
Monday, December 13, 2010
A Stupid Debate
In one of the stupidest political debates in modern history, liberals and conservatives demonstrate, once again, how worthless their joint commitment to statism is. Their current big debate centers around the liberal dream of extending jobless benefits to unemployed people and the conservative dream of extending tax cuts for the rich.
Suppose you were on the Titanic and word spread that the ship was heading toward a gigantic iceberg. A debate between liberals and conservatives immediately breaks out. The debate is over whether the dining tables should have 8 chairs or 10 chairs. Heated arguments break out, but after much bickering a compromise appears to be reached, involving 9 chairs at each table. But it’s not clear whether the deal is going to be struck because there are both liberals and conservatives who steadfastly refuse to compromise their principles and their integrity.
The liberals and conservatives approach a group of libertarians on the ship and lobby them for their vote. The libertarians respond, “We don’t really much care about that issue. What we need to be doing is figuring out how to change the direction of the ship so that it doesn’t hit that gigantic iceberg or plan on what we’re going to do when we do hit it.”
The liberals and conservatives respond, “That’s the trouble with you libertarians. You’re such philosophers and idealists. Get practical. How are we going to dine without resolving the issue of the chairs?”
Everyone knows that federal spending is out of control. The federal government is spending far more than what it is bringing in. The amount they’re spending exceeds the amount they’re collecting by the tune of at least $1.3 trillion dollars — every year. For years, they’ve been borrowing the difference, mounting up more and more federal debt — debt that can only be paid back by American taxpayers. The debt is somewhere around $13 trillion, with each person’s average share amounting to $43,000.
The federal government is heading toward bankruptcy, just like in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, and Spain. The Federal Reserve is now inflating the money supply, big time, which really is a default on its debt. The prices of gold and silver are soaring, along with other commodities. The value of the dollar is plummeting.
The biggest components of the spending are the welfare-warfare state programs, led by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the military. Yet, both liberals and conservatives are steadfastly committed not only to continue these statist programs but also to continue their funding levels.
This cannot end well. The iceberg is up ahead. When the collision arrives, here’s my prediction: Both liberals and conservatives will use the crisis as an excuse to expand government power over the citizenry and to levy more taxes on everyone.
So, what do liberals and conservatives do faced with the prospect of this collision? Do they confront the fundamental problem — the welfare-warfare state programs on which most of the money is being spent? Of course not! Like I say, they are firmly committed to these programs, along with most of the other welfare-state/regulatory programs, departments, and agencies.
Instead, liberals and conservatives embroil themselves in a stupid debate, doing their best to show that they’re “doing something” in Washington. Just as bad, they suck editorial writers and talk show hosts into their idiocy. As the ship continues heading toward the iceberg, the statists are debating how to arrange the chairs in the dining room.
The jobless benefits will just add to the federal spending problem. Cutting taxes for the rich simply shifts the tax burden to someone else. Don’t forget, after all, that all that debt must be repaid. Who’s going to repay it? Somebody is. You can cut taxes for the rich all you want, but that simply means that the poor or middle class will have to pick up the slack.
The easiest way to do that is by inflating the money supply to enable federal officials to pay off the debt with newly printed money. That’s what governments have done throughout history. That’s what the Federal Reserve is for — to monetize the debt and enable federal officials to spend money to their hearts’ content.
Who pays the price when it comes to the tax of inflation? Usually the poor and the middle class.
The solution obviously lies with slashing spending. One option is simply an across-the-board cut. For example, slash every single federal program, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the military by 30 percent. While that would relieve much of the fiscal problem, it’s not enough because it doesn’t address the moral problem — the welfare-warfare state itself. It is statism that has failed and that is taking our country down. Instead of engaging in stupid debates over which statist reform to adopt, what we really need to be doing is repealing and dismantling every single statist program, department, and agency and restoring a free-market, limited-government republic to our land.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Why They Hate WikiLeaks
The statist outrage against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is rooted in the U.S. government’s imperial foreign policy. In fact, the entire war on terrorism and the ever-growing infringements on the fundamental rights and liberties of the American people revolve around the existence and the activities of the U.S. Empire.
What’s the primary mission of the U.S. Empire? Diplomatic and military domination of the world, primarily by getting its people in public office in foreign regimes. The idea is that as foreign regimes join the Empire and submit to its will, the Empire will be better able to keep order and stability in the universe.
Some Americans, unable to come to grips with the fact that the United States is no longer a republic, as implied in the much-recited, socialist-created Pledge of Allegiance that people memorize in the government’s public schools, exclaim, “The United States can’t be an empire because the U.S. government never tries to take over foreign lands or install U.S. officials as rulers in foreign countries, as the Roman Empire or the British Empire did.”
What those Americans fail to realize, however, is that the U.S. Empire is modeled more on the model of the Soviet Empire, which included the countries of Eastern Europe and East Germany, which the U.S. government had surrendered to the Soviet communists near the end of World War II. The Soviet Empire would permit such countries to be ruled by native puppets whose strings would be pulled from Moscow.
That’s the way the U.S. Empire works. It counts on native lackies in countries around the world to do what the Empire orders but otherwise gives them free reign over their own people, including the unfettered authority to incarcerate, torture, abuse, or execute them. What matters is loyalty to the Empire and order in the universe. That’s why the Empire has always preferred brutal, vicious, unelected dictators, especially military ones, for example in such countries as Iran (the Shah of Iran), Chile (Pinochet), Iraq (Saddam Hussein), Pakistan (Musharraf), and many others, especially in Latin America.
What are the means by which the Empire acquires members and maintains order in the universe? Assassinations, kidnappings, coups, executions, invasions, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, secret prisons, foreign aid, aid to NGOs, torture, and matters relating to sexual humiliation (e.g. Abu Ghraib and Gitmo). Whenever a foreign regime is headed by a ruler who shows resistance to the Empire, the Empire’s sights immediately shift to that regime, and it becomes a potential target for regime change. Examples include Venezuela (Hugo Chavez), Cuba (Fidel Castro), Nicaragua (Daniel Ortega), and Bolivia (Evo Morales).
The reason that both statists and the Empire are so angry at Julian Assange and Wikileaks is that the documents that are being released expose the dirtiness and hypocrisy of Empire operations. For decades, it is been imperative that the Empire keep Americans innocently convinced that nothing changed with the advent of the U.S national security state after World War II. Americans were expected to just keep trusting that officials in the national security state were keeping America safe by having the U.S. Cold War Empire maintain stability and order in the world, to protect America and the world from the communists. And Americans were supposed to just keep thinking that everything U.S. officials were doing was positive and good, sort of like a big bunch of James Bonds out there protecting America from the bad guys.
What was actually occurring was a lot of dirty, unsavory conduct. But an implicit deal had been struck between the national security state and the American citizenry, as follows:
The State: To keep you safe, we might need to do some unsavory things but we will keep them secret from you on grounds of national security.
The Citizenry: We understand the need for the secrecy and we don’t want to know what you’re doing anyway. Do whatever you need to do to keep us safe and don’t tell us about it. Cite national security.
Along comes WikiLeaks and reveals just a few of the lies and dirtiness that lie at the heart of the darkness and rot of the national security state and the U.S. Empire. That’s why the statists and U.S. officials hate WikiLeaks so much. It has committed the unpardonable sin: It has revealed some of the dirty secrets of the national security state and the U.S. Empire, thereby piercing the conscience and consciousness of the American citizenry with reality and truth.
I know that statists don’t like it whenever one brings up Nazi Germany in the context of the U.S. national security state and the U.S. Empire, but the words of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels seem to me to be apropos: “The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State.”
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Why Do We Need a Welfare State to Redistribute Wealth?
One of the big reasons that liberals support the welfare state is the covetousness-and-redistribution factor. Liberals hate the fact that some people are rich while other people are poor. Moreover, the rich, liberals say, only get richer while the poor get poorer. Therefore, liberals claim, we need the government to confiscate wealth from the rich and redistribute it to the poor.
Nick Martin, a 59-year old former New Yorker who recently moved to Kansas, could teach liberals the errors of their ways. He’s a poor person, rich person, poor person, all wrapped into one. Martin is proof positive that the rich don’t necessarily become richer and in fact oftentimes become poor. Martin could teach liberals that the market process is very good at redistributing wealth, without the intervention of the state.
As the New York Times pointed out in a recent article, Martin started out as a poor person. Ten years ago, he inherited $14 million, overnight becoming a rich person. The government seized $4 million as part of the liberal agenda of using government to take from the rich in order to give to the poor. That left Martin with $10 million.
Over the next several years, Martin and his family lived the good life. They bought nice homes in New York and England, into which they poured hundreds of thousands of dollars in remodeling costs. They bought three nice cars, including an Aston Martin. They had three horses, one of which cost $173,000.
In 2007 the crunch came, as the housing market and the financial crisis hit, both of which squeezed the Martins. “We started selling cars, shotguns, antique furniture, whatever,” Mr. Martin said. Unable to meet margin calls on stock investments and unable to keep up with mortgage payments, the Martins ultimately lost it all.
Today, Martin is living in Kansas, where he is teaching a course in vineyards to a class of seven students at Highland Community College. Having sold his Aston-Martin for $395,000, he drives to work in an 11-year old Ford Explorer and lives in a $900 a month tract house. His wife and 13-year old daughter are joining him this month.
Do liberals love the Martins? Well, now they do. But when they were rich, liberals undoubtedly hated them as much as they hate all rich people. One can easily imagine liberals seeing Martin after he inherited his money and exclaiming, “I loved him once, when he was poor, but now that he’s rich, I hate him. It’s not fair that he has more when others have less. I hope the government takes away his money and redistributes it to others who are less fortunate.”
Today, Martin is back in the ranks of the poor and is now equal with all the other poor people in life. That means that he is also now once again loved by the liberals, who must now redirect their envy and covetousness toward those who are still rich.
The irony is that it was the market process, not the welfare state, that redistributed Nick Martin’s wealth — well, except for the fact that the housing and financial crises weren’t really the result of the market process but rather the result of government interventionism, but that’s another story. Just don’t tell that one to the liberals. They’ve convinced themselves that the mortgage and financial crises are the failure of “free enterprise,” just like the myth they cling to regarding the Great Depression.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Close the Bases
Last Sunday’s New York Times published an interesting article about U.S. military bases in Iraq that carries valuable lessons for America with respect to military spending, governmental dependency, and national bankruptcy.
The article, entitled “As U.S. Leaves, Iraqis Suffer Economic Toll,” explains the travails of Iraqis who are suffering economic losses due to the closing of U.S. military bases in Iraq. Qahtan Kareem, for example, is “grim about the future of his company and its 430 employees” The company buys and sells “scrap and surplus from military bases.” The pattern is repeating itself in those areas of Iraq where the U.S. military is shutting down.
What would mainstream Iraqi economists say? They’d say the same thing that mainstream American economists would say about U.S. military bases here in the United States: Keep the bases open because that they’re a key to the wealth and prosperity of a nation.
Actually, however, it’s the exact opposite. Military spending, like any other federal spending, contributes to the impoverishment, dependency, and maybe even the bankruptcy of a nation.
Let’s begin with a hypothetical situation in which Americans keep everything they earn — that is, no income taxation (which in fact was the situation for Americans for some 125 years). Each family would be deciding how best to allocate its income, in terms of what the family is buying, saving, investing, and donating. Businesses would naturally respond to market signals on what to produce and in what quantities, all in response to how people are disposing of 100 percent of their income.
One day, the federal government imposes a 10 percent income tax on everyone. On that day, everyone automatically loses 10 percent of his income. People readjust their choices in terms of what they’re going to do with the remaining 90 percent of their income. Inevitably, some businesses downsize or even go out of business owing to the 10 percent that people no longer are disposing of.
It’s different with the government, however. It now has gobs of new money from the 10 percent income tax that is now being collected from millions of people. It gives the money to the Pentagon, with instructions to build a string of military bases across America.
The Pentagon begins building the bases, and people immediately notice something: The Pentagon is spending money to hire people to build the base facilities and then to operate them. Once the base is finished, the Pentagon transfers thousands of soldiers, who used to be hired in the private sector but who decided to go work for the government, to the new military bases.
People in the community are ecstatic. “Jobs for our community!” the mainstream editorial writers exclaim! Dozens of businesses establishments, especially bars, strip joints, and liquor stores, open up around the bases, causing the mainstream editorial writers to exclaim, “The military is the key to our prosperity!”
After many years, libertarians point out that the bases are stupid, given that there is no possibility that the United States will ever be invaded by some foreign power and the fact that bankruptcy is looming on the horizon due to excessive federal spending. Libertarians call for a closure of the bases, a discharge of the soldiers back into the private sector, and the abolition of the 10 percent income tax.
What would be the response of American statists, especially those near the military bases? They would be hopping mad, exclaiming, “Closing the bases will cost us jobs and prosperity!”
What the statists fail to recognize, however, is that the bases are actually an enormous burden on jobs and prosperity. By closing them, there would actually be a doubly positive economic effect. Everyone in the private sector would now have the 10 percent that was being taken from him, enabling people in the private sector, rather than the Pentagon, to determine how that 10 percent is going to be spent, invested, etc. That would bring into existence new business activity or an expansion of current business activity, thereby providing new employment and prosperity to those who formerly worked in the bars, strip joints, and liquor stores that surrounded the military base.
Equally important, the soldiers would now be back in the private sector rather than the public sector. That means that instead of operating as a burden on the taxpayers, they would now be back in the productive sector of the economy.
All of us have been born and raised under a national-security warfare state, which includes thousands of military bases strung all across the nation. Everyone is taught from the first grade on up that all these bases are an inherent and necessary part of American life and America’s “free-enterprise system.” Communities that have military bases have developed a deep sense of dependency on such bases, both economically and psychologically — as deep, in fact, as the dependency that many Americans have on welfare-state programs.
Like welfare spending, military spending distorts and perverts the natural economic order, inculcates a mindset of dependency among the citizenry, and contributes to the impoverishment and possibly even bankruptcy of a nation.
Closing U.S. military bases in Iraq would be the best thing that could ever happen to the Iraqi people. The same holds true for the American people.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
WikiLeaks, Amazon, Paypal, and Mastercard
While supporters of WikiLeaks are criticizing Amazon, Paypal, Mastercard, and other companies who are distancing themselves from WikiLeaks, we should at least consider why such companies might be doing so. When it comes to the U.S. government, everyone knows that we’re not dealing with pikers. This is a tough, ruthless, vicious gang of statist politicians and bureaucrats who will stop at nothing to inflict harm on those who buck it. This is especially true with businessmen, who are particularly vulnerable under the highly regulated and taxed statist society in which we live. The fact that the federal government has been wounded by WikiLeaks’ leaks only makes it that much more dangerous.
Consider Joseph Nacchio and Mark Cuban, both of whom bucked the feds and who have paid a high price for doing so.
Recall the illegal NSA spying scheme engaged in by the Bush administration after 9/11 — the one involving private telecommunications companies and the NSA. When federal officials approached the telecoms seeking private and confidential information about their customers, all but one of them agreed to play ball with the feds, notwithstanding the fact that the scheme was clearly illegal and unethical. After all, the government had no search warrants and the companies had promised their customers confidentiality.
What should the companies have done? They should have refused to violate the law and they should have lived up to their contractual promises to protect the privacy of their customers. Instead, perhaps fearing governmental retaliation or perhaps wishing to curry favor with the government or perhaps operating under some sort of misguided sense of patriotism, most of the companies buckled under federal pressure. Falling for the government’s representations that the information was needed to protect “national security” (the magic term for keeping federal wrongdoing secret), most of the telecoms decided to play ball with the feds, broke the law, and sold their customers down the river.
Not so with Joseph Nacchio, CEO of Qwest Communications, who should go down in history as one of the most courageous heroes of our time. Unlike the CEOs of the other telecoms, he refused to buckle. He refused to sell out his customers. He refused to break the law. He said no to the feds. (See my 2007 article “The War on Telephone Privacy.”)
What happened to Nacchio? Did the feds punish him for making that choice? Of course not! This is a free society. Don’t you know that? Nacchio had every right in the world to refuse to engage in that illegal, unethical scheme concocted by the feds.
Just coincidentally though, after he refused to play ball with the feds Nacchio was indicted for violating silly economic regulations known as insider-trading laws. Oh, of course it didn’t have anything to do with his refusal to play ball with the feds. It was all because he just happened to have violated those silly economic regulations at the time that he was refusing to play ball with the feds. And of course, they got him. Convicted of 19 counts of insider trading, he was sentenced to six years in federal prison, where he currently resides.
Now, sure, statists would say, “Well, the law is the law, and he shouldn’t have broken the insider-trading law.” But statists miss the point, or maybe not. The real purpose of a regulated society is to ensure that a Sword of Damocles is always hanging over people in the business community. In that way, they are able to be kept in line. If they refuse to play ball with the government, officials can go after them for any number of regulatory or tax violations any time they want, while, at the same time, claiming that it has nothing to do with their refusal to play ball.
Every businessman, especially those who run big companies, knows that at any given time he can be found in violation of some regulatory or tax law. Why do you think there are millions of economic regulations? Why do you think the income tax code is so complicated? It’s that way because then they’re able to go after businessmen whenever they want to.
The rationale for the statist society was best summed up by Dr. Floyd Ferris, the slimy bureaucrat from the State Science Institute, who said to Hank Rearden inAtlas Shrugged:
“Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against — then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”
Consider Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He hacked the feds off by publicly questioning the government’s official version of 9/11. So, did they punish him for that? Oh no, of course not! Don’t you know that we have freedom of speech in this country? Instead, they went after him in a civil suit alleging insider trading violations. Yes, the same type of stupid economic regulation that they used to go after Joe Nacchio.
I suppose it’s only fair to point out that the U.S. government isn’t the only government that uses tax and regulatory provisions to go after businessmen who don’t play ball with the government. The Russian government, under Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, does it too.
None of this, of course, is to defend Amazon, Paypal, Mastercard, and or the other companies that are distancing themselves from Wikileaks. It’s just a way to put their conduct into context.
Monday, December 6, 2010
JFK, Secrecy, and Deference to Authority
Federal secrecy and deference to authority go hand in hand. The good citizen is expected to not question decisions by federal officials to keep governmental activities secret and to defer to authority by trusting that those in power are doing the right thing for the nation. This is especially true when it comes to the activities of the CIA and the military industrial complex.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this phenomenon related to the Kennedy assassination. When the Warren Commission issued its official report stating that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone nut who had assassinated the president, federal officials ordered files and records regarding the assassination to be locked up and kept secret from the American people for 75 years. The secret records included the autopsy photos and x-rays of the president’s body.
The reason for this long-term secrecy? National security, federal officials said.
But neither the secrecy nor the basis for the secrecy ever made any sense. After all, we’re talking about a murder where the presumed murderer was dead within two days of the assassination. What possible reason would there be for keeping any matters relating to the investigation secret? It’s not as if there was still an active criminal investigation taking place.
And how in the world could the investigative information regarding a lone nut’s assassination of a president possibly affect national security? Indeed, how could keeping the information relating to the autopsy of the president’s body, including the autopsy photos and x-rays, possibly affect national security? Even at the height of the Cold War, it is difficult to imagine how the Soviet Union could have used the autopsy information to plan a secret attack on the United States.
In 1963, however, most Americans had a deep and abiding faith and trust in their government. The common mindset was to defer to authority. If the government said that national security required that the JFK files and records be kept secret for 75 years, then there must be a good reason for it.
After Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, which posited that Kennedy had actually been the victim of a conspiracy involving officials in the national-security state, came out in 1991, lots more Americans had come to the conclusion that the federal government’s assassination secrecy and national-security concerns were all a bunch of bull. By that time, many more Americans were no longer deferring to authority or putting their blind faith in the federal government.
Responding to the huge public outcry for an end to the JFK assassination secrecy, Congress enacted the JFK Records Act, which mandated all federal agencies to release their files and records relating to the assassination.
Guess what! When most of the documents were released (the CIA still won’t release all its documents relating to the assassination, citing national security of course, and the Secret Service, for some reason, intentionally destroyed some of its documents after enactment of the act), the United States didn’t fall, and the country wasn’t even invaded and occupied by some foreign power.
In other words, the much-vaunted national-security concerns that had been cited as the reason for keeping the Kennedy asssassination information secret from the American people for 75 years had proven baseless.
What assassination researchers did discover in the 1990s — some 30 years after the assassination — however, was that many of the files and records relating to the assassination had gone missing or had been destroyed, important witnesses had died, and memories had faded. Not surprisingly, that made it much more difficult for people who refused to defer to authority to investigate and ascertain the accuracy and truthfulness of the federal government’s official version of the assassination. A good example of this relates to the matter relating to the multiple deliveries of Kennedy’s body into the morgue at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, as I pointed out in my recent article “The Kennedy Casket Conspiracy.”
Of course, needless to say, the situation would have been much worse if the files and records hadn’t been opened to the public until 2039, the original release date that federal officials had announced back in 1964.
So, what was the real reason that U.S. officials insisted on keeping their files and records relating to the Kennedy assassination, including Kennedy’s autopsy photos and x-rays, secret from the American people for 75 years?
Friday, December 3, 2010
Wikileaks and the Moral Decadence of Conservatives
Washington Times conservative columnist Jeffrey T. Kuhner, who serves as president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a conservative organization, has a simple solution to the WikiLeaks controversy: Assassinate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Good old conservatives. Kuhner’s Washington Times op-ed today reminds us on why ousting liberals from power and replacing them with conservatives doesn’t gain anything for Americans, at least insofar as freedom is concerned. As I have long pointed out, conservatives’ hatred of civil liberties is as deeply seated as liberal hatred for economic liberty, and Kuhner’s op-ed is just the latest example of that phenomenon.
What’s Kuhner’s basis for calling for the assassination of Assange? That Assange is a terrorist! According to Kuhner, we don’t need no stinking trial to establish that Assange has broken some law. Everyone already knows he’s a terrorist — well, at least every conservative knows it. And as every conservative also knows, the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist.
Why does Kuhner consider Assange to be a terrorist? Because WikiLeaks published secret U.S. government information that had been given to WikiLeaks by some third party.
What about the New York Times, which, like WikiLeaks, also published the information? Is Kuhner calling for the assassination of the owners, reporters, and editorial staff of the New York Times? Nope. But hey, give him time. After they kill Assange, there is no telling where the blood lust could go.
After all, what did WikiLeaks do that is different than what the New York Timeshas done? Neither organization stole the material. Both organizations simply received the material from a third party. Both organizations simply published it. If it’s okay to target the principals of Wikileaks for assassination, why not the principals of the New York Times?
The way I figure it is: If the government can’t protect its secrets, that’s just tough for the government. Unfortunately, however, we live in a society in which no one, especially those in government, wants to take personal responsibility for his screw-ups and instead always want to blame them on a scapegoat.
Hey, Kuhner: How about calling on the federal officials who failed to protect their secrets to fall on their swords rather than call on the government to murder Assange? Wouldn’t that be placing responsibility where it belongs?
Don’t hold your breath. Holding up the concept of personal responsibility to both conservatives and liberals is like holding up a cross to a vampire.
Reflecting longtime conservative disdain for civil liberties, Kuhner bluntly writes, “At this point, we are beyond indictments and courts. The damage has been done… Kill him.”
In other words, no Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eight Amendments to the Constitution. You know, the document that conservatives always claim to love and revere. No more indictments, jury trials, criminal defense lawyers, federal judges, cross examination of witnesses, presumption of innocence, sentencing hearings, and appeals.
Why, not even any more kangaroo military tribunals, indefinite detentions, kidnapping, rendition, torture, and formal executions. Just think: Obama can close Gitmo and just kill all the terrorists in the world.
And why all the secrecy? It’s all about the federal government’s imperialist foreign policy, the policy that statists have come to revere — the invasions, occupations, regime-change operations, foreign aid, foreign manipulations, secret prison camps, torture operations, kidnapping and rendition, assassinations, and, of course, the much-vaunted “war on terrorism” — that is, the war on those who have the temerity to resist the Empire — or reveal its horrors. How can the Empire continue to torture, kill, and brutalize people overseas effectively and efficiently if its policies and practices aren’t kept secret?
Kuhner writes, “For example, the cables cache reveals that the United States is working closely with Yemen’s dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in launching drone strikes against local al Qaeda bases.”
Did you catch that? “Working closely with Yemen’s dictator.” Kuhner doesn’t even see the irony in his statement, which only goes to show the moral decadence of the conservative movement. Working with a dictator? Yeah, like the way the U.S. government worked with Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran, Joseph Stalin, Augusto Pinochet, Pervez Musharrif, and a host of other dictators.
Why, I’ll bet that Kuhner even thinks it was a wonderful thing when the conservative Reagan administration was supporting violent Muslim extremists in Afghanistan, including Osama bin Laden, when it was the Soviet Union that was doing the occupying of Afghanistan. Hey, who ever said that morality wasn’t relative?
No, Kuhner, the time has not come to assassinate Julian Assange. The time has come for the American people to kill the imperialist, militarist foreign policy that statists, both conservative and liberal, have foisted upon our country, along with all the moral decadence that policy has wrought. The time has come for the American people to reject statism in all its ugly, decadent manifestations and for Americans to embrace the libertarian vision of individual liberty, free markets, civil liberties, and a limited-government constitutional republic.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
WikiLeaks: Conformists vs. Individualists
The WikiLeaks controversy is exposing one of the great divides among the American citizenry: the good, little citizen who has a reverential deference for government power and the independent, critical thinker who isn’t scared to expose and oppose government wrongdoing.
Those in the reverential, deferential category are shocked and outraged over WikiLeaks disclosure of U.S. government secrets to the American people and to the people of the world. They want the U.S. government to criminally prosecute the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, for treason, even if he is an Australian citizen. Others want him assassinated. No doubt there are some who would be willing to settle for a lifetime prison term without trial at Gitmo.
Where do these people acquire this reverential and deferential attitude toward the federal government?
The primary source is the state schooling system. The reason that the state in every country demands control over the education of a nation’s children is precisely to inculcate this sense of reverence and deference for the government. The idea is that if the state has power over a child for six or seven hours every day, 5 days a week, for 12 years, the state will have ample opportunity to mold and shape the child’s mind into one of conformity, obedience, respect for state authority, and unconditional trust in official pronouncements of the state.
As Sheldon Richman explained back in an op-ed entitled “Horrors! Maybe the Schools Are Working Just Fine,”
The modern public school curriculum comes right out of the Prussian system. Gatto says the American educationists imported three major ideas from Prussia. The first was that the purpose of state schooling was not intellectual training but the conditioning of children “to obedience, subordination and collective life.” Second, whole ideas were broken into fragmented “subjects,” and school days were divided into fixed periods “so that self-motivation to learn would be muted by ceaseless interruptions.” Third, the state was posited as the true parent of the children.
Pointing to the importance of state schooling in Germany, Hitler told Germans who were resisting his regime that they were irrelevant given that the state had control over their children’s education. Hitler knew that after several years, the adults would be gone and the nation would be left with good, little citizens who deferred to the authority of the state and supported National Socialism.
Even in Nazi Germany, however, where the state carefully molded the mindsets of German children in public schools, there were young people who were able to break free of the indoctrination and the mind-molding. A good example was the students in the White Rose organization, such as Hans and Sophie Scholl, about whom I wrote an article many years ago entitled “The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent.”
If you haven’t seen the movie “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” I highly recommend it. It is great! A fascinating part of the movie is when the chief judge of Hitler’s People’s Court, a court created by Hitler to try terrorists, dissidents, traitors, and government critics — berated the Scholl siblings. When you see the movie, watch for the similarities between the pro-state mindset of Judge Freisler and that of the statists who are today berating Assange for his lack of respect for government authority.
Of course, here in the United States, there are people who somehow have broken free of the conformist mindset that the state desires in all its citizens. Most of them are libertarians but there are also a few liberals, such as Glenn Greenwald.
There are also young people within the state schooling system who resist the regimentation, the conformity, the group-think, and the reverence for the state that is inculcated within the students. Needless to say, those are the students who are diagnosed as psychologically handicapped and put on such drugs as Ritalin or Adderall, with the intent of softening their minds so that the state can overcome their resistance and make them part of the group.
It is the independent, critical thinkers, not the “My government, my god” crowd that historically has propelled mankind forward, especially in terms of liberty and mental and psychological development. Consider, for example, Henry David Thoreau, one of the greatest individualists of all time, who continues to inspire people of all ages today. Of course, if he were living today, the conformist crowd would undoubtedly be castigating and berating him, just like they’re doing to Assange.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Tax Cuts for the Rich? Abolish the Income Tax Instead
The left and right are debating whether tax cuts for the rich should be extended. The debate only goes to show how there’s really not any difference, philosophically speaking, between liberals and conservatives. They both believe in the income tax and the welfare-warfare-state programs that the income tax funds, and their battle is simply over who is going to pay for the ever-growing expenses of the welfare-warfare state.
As most everyone knows, the federal government is spending much more than what it is collecting in taxes, to the tune of at least $1.3 trillion per year. How is it getting the money to pay the extra $1.3 trillion? It’s borrowing it, just as it has been doing for many years. That’s why the federal government’s debt is almost$14 trillion. That means that you, your spouse, and your children each owe an average of $44,000, given that the American people are, effectively, guarantors of the government’s debt.
Ultimately, the federal government does what governments have historically done after incurring massive indebtedness. It resorts to the printing press to print the money to pay off its debt and fund its ever-growing expenditures. That’s what the Federal Reserve is all about. It enables the government to default on its debts, without appearing to default on its debts, by paying creditors off in devalued dollars.
Inevitably, the consequence of a debasement of the currency will fall on at least some Americans, especially through the rising prices across society that are reflecting the debased value of the currency. It is impossible to know who will end up paying the inflation tax — and that’s exactly what it is — but more often than not it’s the poorest people in society — those who make a low wage while facing the soaring prices for necessities.
Thus, the real problem is federal spending. That’s what needs to be slashed, especially by abolishing the welfare-state and warfare-state programs, departments, and agencies. By abolishing, say, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, foreign aid, education grants, community grants, bank bailouts, and all other welfare-state programs, the problem arising from domestic spending disappears. By immediately ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, closing all overseas bases, bringing all the troops home and discharging them, closing domestic bases, and dismantling the standing army and the military-industrial complex, the problems arising from empire-military spending disappear.
At that point, what do we need an income tax for? Once Americans decide that they no longer desire socialism, interventionism, and empire, we’re talking about the abolition, not the reform, of the entire income tax, thereby restoring the situation under which our American ancestors lived: an income-tax free life, one in which people keep everything they earn. That’s right — no more IRS, no more threats of audits, no more tax deductions, no more tax-cut extensions. You make it, you keep it. And you decide what to do with it — that is, a society that is based entirely on freedom of choice, free will, and voluntary charity with respect to income and wealth.
Herein lies the key to economic prosperity, especially for the poor. When people are free to keep everything they earn (and have sound money by also abolishing the Federal Reserve and legal-tender laws), many of them save a large portion of their income. That savings, not consumption, is the key to rising standards of living, especially for the poor. It is the savings that provides the capital for businesses to upgrade their facilities, which then makes workers more productive, which then leads to higher revenues and higher real wages.
The left-right debate in America over income-tax policy assumes the continued existence of the welfare-warfare state way of life, along with the continued existence of the income tax that funds this way of life.
That’s where libertarians are so different from statists. We don’t engage in these silly debates over how to manage a failed system or how to divide the shrinking economic pie that statism inevitably produces. We instead have our sights set on restoring a free society to our land, one where people are living in freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony, without an income tax and without the welfare-warfare programs the income tax funds.