Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, November 2010


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Willie Nelson and the Drug War

One of the benefits of the war on terrorism, from the standpoint of the statists, is that it has served to distract attention from the violations of civil liberties and privacy arising from that other famous federal war — the war on drugs. Last week’s arrest of Willie Nelson on pot charges at a Border Patrol checkpoint in Texas brings the drug war and its forever-growing violations of privacy and civil liberties back into the public spotlight.

Nelson’s arrest raises two fundamental issues about freedom and privacy.

The first issue goes to the heart of the drug war: What Willie Nelson or any other person chooses to ingest is his business, not the business of government officials.

The second issue goes to the heart of a society that presumes to be founded on the principles of freedom of travel and privacy: Border Patrol highway checkpoints, which subject people to full searches, are an inherent part of totalitarian societies, not free societies.

It’s none of the government’s business what Willie Nelson or anyone else ingests. It doesn’t matter how much people disapprove of drugs. It doesn’t matter how harmful drugs might be. Nothing can morally justify the state’s punishment of Willie Nelson or anyone else for possessing or consuming drugs. That’s his business, not the business of busybody politicians and bureaucrats.

I wrote about Border Patrol checkpoints back in 1998 in an article entitled “Domestic Passports for Hispanic Americans.” Let’s get clear on the nature of the checkpoints we’re dealing with here. In my hometown of Laredo, Texas, the border between Mexico and the United States is the Rio Grande. There are several bridges over the Rio Grande that connect the two countries. When someone crosses from Mexico into the United States, he encounters an enormous federal checkpoint, consisting of Border Patrol, immigration, customs, and DEA officials. Under the laws relating to controlled borders, the officials have the authority to require proof of citizenship and also to conduct a complete search of the person and his automobile.

That’s not what we’re dealing with in the arrest of Willie Nelson. He wasn’t crossing from Mexico into the United States. Rather, he was traveling entirely within the United States, going from California to Austin. He was stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint situated on an east-west interstate highway, at which federal officials have all the same omnipotent powers of search and seizure that they do with people who cross from Mexico into the United States.

How is that possible?

Because federal officials say that since the area close to the border is the “functional equivalent” of the border, they have all the powers over Americans traveling within the United States that they do over people crossing the border into the United States.

Now, is that ridiculous or what? Crossing the Mexican-U.S. border is one thing. Traveling entirely within the United States is another thing. What these people have done with their cutesy re-definition is to establish domestic checkpoints that are mirror images of those that characterize Cuba, North Korea, China, and other totalitarian countries.

These checkpoints are also located on highways heading north from the border region. Suppose, for example, I decide to drive to Laredo. Even though I never enter Mexico, when I travel north out of Laredo on the way to San Antonio, I encounter a federal checkpoint at which I am required to stop. I am asked if I am an American citizen and sometimes I am required to open up the trunk of my car for inspection. As they wave me through, I always thank my lucky stars that someone hasn’t planted a package of cocaine underneath my rental car.

It’s no different at the Laredo airport. Anyone flying north must show his papers and submit to a search at the hands of not just the TSA but also the Border Patrol, even if he has never traveled into Mexico. Needless to say, darker-skinned Americans, especially ones that are not finely dressed, are subjected to extra scrutiny.

Of course, the statists consider all this to be part and parcel of a free society, a society whose government punishes the likes of Willie Nelson for doing something that is none of the government’s business. One thing’s for sure: When they cart Nelson off to jail, he won’t be singing the favorite refrain of American statists: “Thank God I’m an American because at least I know I’m free.”

Monday, November 29, 2010

Muslims and the Empire

Do you want to know what the real crime of the Muslims was, in the minds of American statists?

It is that Muslims haven’t quietly acquiesced to what the U.S. Empire has done to them. If Muslims had meekly submitted to the will of the Empire like, say, the people of Granada and Panama did, everything today would be hunky dory. We wouldn’t have to be worrying about terrorism and all the tyranny that has come with the war on terrorism.

Consider Granada. During the Reagan administration, Granada was ruled by a socialist regime that was aligning itself with Fidel Castro’s communist regime in Cuba. Despite the fact that Granada is an independent country, the Empire invaded Granada, ousted the socialist regime, and installed a pro-Empire regime in its stead.

What was the response of the citizenry of Granada? They meekly accepted the change and embraced the Empire and the new order of things. No terrorism. Just passive acquiescence. Thus, there was no need for the Empire to brutalize, torture, intimidate, or kill the people of Granada, especially with a long-term occupation of the country.

It wasn’t any different when the Empire invaded Panama after the president of Panama, Antonio Noriega, a former asset of the CIA, declared his independence from the Empire. The Empire invaded the country, took Noriega into custody for drug-law violations, and shipped him back to the United States for punishment. The Empire installed a new, compliant regime in his stead.

The response of the Panamanian people was pretty much the same as that in Granada. No insurgency. No terrorist retaliation. Just passivity and acceptance.

In the mind of the statist, that’s precisely what Muslims all over the world should have done. That was their duty — to meekly accept the pre-9/11 killing of countless Iraqis during the Persian Gulf War, the intentional destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage facilities with the intent of spreading infectious illnesses among the populace, the 11 years of one of the most brutal economic embargoes in history, the intentional killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, publicly announcing that the deaths of the Iraqi children were “worth it,” the no-fly zones over Iraq, the stationing of U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands, and, of course, the unconditional foreign aid to the Israeli government.

In the mind of the statist, all that is simply a given. For the statist, the Empire exists and will always exist, and it can do whatever it wants to people anywhere in the world. After all, everyone knows that the troops bring freedom, democracy, and peace to the world, sometimes making great personal sacrifices to do so. How dare Muslims or anyone else object to what the troops are doing for the people of the world. They should be thanking the troops. What ingrates.

No one, and certainly not Muslims, is supposed to ever question the existence of the Empire itself or the things it does to people of other countries. The Empire is good. The Empire cares about people. It delivers food and supplies to people during hurricanes, just as it provides Americans with their retirement, health care, education, food, housing, and unemployment compensation. The Empire is the provider, the protector, the peace-giver.

The invasion of Afghanistan has killed, maimed, and exiled countless people, most of whom had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. The invasion of Iraq has killed, maimed, and exiled countless people, none of whom had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks. Don’t forget the torture, sex abuse, rape, and executions at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Gitmo and kangaroo military tribunals. Kidnapping and rendition.

The response of the Muslim world? It was not the same as that of the people of Granada and Panama. Both before and after 9/11, the reaction was anger, which developed into rage, which has led to the constant threat of terrorist retaliation, along with the endless “war on terrorism.”

And that’s what has angered American statists. “It’s their religion!” they cry. “They just want to conquer the world. They hate us for our freedom and values. They hate our Empire.”

But deep down, the real reason American statists are angry is their belief that the Muslim world had a moral duty to react to what the Empire did to them with the same meekness and passivity that characterized the people of Granada and Panama. Statists feel that the Muslim world should have simply accepted the inevitable and embraced the Empire, kneeling and prostrating toward Washington, the heart of the Empire,and praying the mantra of American statists: “The Empire is good. The Empire is caring. The Empire is freedom and free enterprise. Long live the Empire!”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Madison Was Right about Korea

James Madison, the father of the Constitution, had a deep insight into the nature of government and public officials. Here is what he said:

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending have enslaved the people.

Here at home, people are revolting. They’re revolting against out-of-control federal spending and debt, Federal Reserve-induced inflation and debasement of the dollar, and TSA body-groping and porn-scanning. Some people are even starting to join libertarian opposition to the forever occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

So what better thing to do than excite a war, like in Korea? As Madison pointed out, that’s what the Roman Empire did when Roman citizens began revolting against the Empire’s ever-soaring taxes and regulations.

Just think, the new battle cry among the statists can be, “The terrorists are coming to get us! The communists too! ”

What better way to get the color code up to red than to bring the reds into the fear equation? Hey, don’t forget that that’s how Hitler did it. He blamed the Reichstag fire on both the terrorists and the communists, and it worked. That’s how he got the Reichstag to enact the Enabling Act, which suspended civil liberties, temporarily of course.

Yesterday, the North Korean regime shelled a South Korean island, killing two South Korean soldiers and injuring several more.

Did this act of aggression appear out of nowhere?

Not exactly.

According to the New York Times, “The attack on Yeonpyeong Island occurred after South Korean forces on exercises fired test shots into waters near the North Korean coast. ”

You mean to tell me that the South Korean military fired test shots near the North Korean coast before the North Koreans shelled that island from which the South Korean shots were made?


According to this news report posted on Brahmand.com Defence and Aerospace News, the South Korean test shots into waters near the North Korean coast were part of a military exercise involving 70,000 South Korean troops designed to “enhance combat capabilities against North Korea.”

Question: If the Venezuelan armed forces fired test shots near the U.S. coast in the Gulf of Mexico, what would be the response of U.S. officials?

Answer: There would be U.S. bombs falling on Caracas tomorrow, if not sooner. U.S. officials would never permit such a provocation from the Hugo Chavez regime to go unanswered. In fact, such test shots would undoubtedly be a dream-come-true for U.S. officials who have longed for regime change in Venezuela.

Did the U.S. government play a role in those South Korean military exercises? According to that same news report, “While it was earlier being planned that the Korean Marine Corps would stage a joint landing maneouver on the western shores of the Korean Peninsula with their US counterparts, the JSC official later said that the US Marines would not be a part of the exercise.”

Why shouldn’t the U.S. government play a role in the South Korean military exercises? After all, U.S. soldiers in Korea are the sacrificial trip-wire that guarantees U.S. entry into another land war in Asia without the bother of congressional debates and the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war.

I once read a lesson about scuba diving that applies in foreign policy. In the ocean, there are lots of dangerous creatures, such as sharks and moray eels. But by and large, if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone.

Everyone knows that North Korea is headed by an irrational, weird, dangerous, unpredictable group of people. So why provoke them? Why not just leave them alone?

Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s the same reason that North Korea loves these types of crises. The North Korean regime uses the perpetual threat of a U.S. and South Korean invasion to keep its citizens distracted away from the nation’s economic problems and keep them rallying to the government in time of crisis.

The U.S. government is no different. It uses the threat of terrorism — a threat that its own foreign policy engenders — to do the same thing to the American people — quell discontent over economic matters and cause people to rally to the government in time of crisis.

That’s what the war on terrorism is all about. It’s what U.S. foreign policy is all about — produce the crises, produce the threat of retaliation, and keep everyone stirred up and fearful, ready to rally to their government in time of crisis.

One thing’s for sure: If the Korean peninsula erupts in real war, Americans will soon realize why libertarians, like Madison, Washington, and the other Founding Fathers opposed entangling alliances and empire. As body bags with American soldiers begin returning to the United States in droves and people’s children are drafted into military service for war in Korea and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, you can already hear the statists justifying it all with, “Our Empire is innocent. We’ve been attacked because of our freedom and values. Madison didn’t know what he was talking about. The dominoes are falling. The Muslims, terrorists, and communists are coming to get us. Our loved ones are dying. Rally to our government. Support whatever it is doing. Woe is us. ”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gold, the Constitution, and the Fed

We’re linking to the third segment of my Internet show in today’s FFF Email Update. I think you’ll enjoy it. I’ve entitled it “Gold, the Constitution, and the Fed” since I spent the entire hour on that subject.

The talk begins with an overview of what the Fed is doing to us today, in the name of “stimulus.” It’s stealing from us, which is what inflation is all about. It’s a hidden tax, one that they impose to avoid the wrath that comes with overt tax increases.

This is what they’ve done ever since the Fed was established in 1913. Decade after decade, they’ve run up the spending and the debt and then debased the dollar by printing up the money to pay for it all. That’s the real purpose of the Fed — to enable public officials to spend to their heart’s content without overtly raising taxes.

I then reviewed the monetary system that the Constitution established, one in which people used gold coins, silver coins, and copper coins, not paper money. I go into why the Framers did this (“not worth a Continental” is pertinent). I then explain how the gold standard worked and the purpose of “gold clauses” in long-term bonds.

I then delved into the roots of destruction, beginning with Lincoln’s legal-tender law, which required people to accept paper money at face value. Then, I explained how the major watershed event took place with Franklin Roosevelt, who used the Great Depression (which h had been caused by the Fed) to nationalize and confiscate gold (much like the Soviet Union was nationalizing property), to make it a felony to own gold, and to nullify gold clauses in private contracts.

The final break with sound money came in the Nixon years, when Nixon closed the gold window to foreign countries. That made the dollar fully irredeemable paper money. Even though it is called a Federal Reserve “note,” it promises to pay nothing. The entire shameful process opened up the floodgates to out-of-control spending, debt, and monetary debasement.

Here’s the link to my Saturday night talk: ““Gold, the Constitution, and the Fed” (video).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bailouts and Occupations

I’m having trouble deciding which topic to address today: the Pentagon’s announcement that it intends to be occupying Afghanistan into 2014 and beyond or the bailout of the Irish government. I’ll do both.

When is enough enough? How long are the American people going to keep putting up with the occupation of Afghanistan? Back in 2001, wouldn’t most people have naturally assumed that the United States was going to get in and get out?

After all, wasn’t the original purpose of the invasion to capture or kill Osama bin Laden? News flash: bin Laden wasn’t caught or killed.

At some point, the whole mission morphed into a regime-change operation. The Taliban refused to comply with President Bush’s unconditional extradition demand, instead asking for evidence of bin Laden’s complicity in the 9/11 attacks and also suggesting that the Taliban would be willing to send bin Laden to a neutral forum for trial. Bush responded with a war against the Taliban.

So, the American people end up with a 9-year-occupation of the country, whose mission became twofold: to prevent the Taliban from regaining power and, second, to kill the people who were resisting the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.

In the process, the U.S. government committed itself to maintaining its puppet regime in power, which is there by virtue of election fraud (e.g., stuffing fake ballots into the ballot boxes). It is also a regime that is well-known for stuffing money into the pockets of its officials, from both the U.S. government and the Iranian government.

Meanwhile, after nine years of occupation, most everyone has forgotten the original purpose of the invasion: to capture or kill bin Laden, who no doubt is long gone.

As I have written previously, the occupation of Afghanistan (and Iraq) has become the greatest terrorist-producing machine in history. The more Afghans they kill, the more anger and rage develops. The more anger and rage, the greater the chance of retaliation.

The constant threat of retaliation, of course, brings ever-bigger government here at home, infringing on civil liberties and privacy, which is what the TSA body groping and porn scanning are all about.

And now Obama and the Pentagon are telling us that it’s all going to be continuing long past the next presidential election, and indefinitely into the future. Let’s just hope that there are presidential candidates in 2012 who are calling for end to this destructive nonsense.

Meanwhile, with federal expenses exceeding tax collections by the tune of $1.3 trillion dollars, and ever-growing federal debt, the prospect of federal bankruptcy looms on the horizon.

Which brings us to the Ireland situation. Like Greece, which has gone bankrupt and had to be bailed out, Ireland has been spending much more money than it has been collecting, amassing an enormous debt. The day of reckoning has now arrived. Faced with bankruptcy, including default on governmental debt, the Irish government has just agreed to an emergency bailout.

Ireland has gone bankrupt with just a welfare state. The United States has both a welfare state and a warfare state.

For 21 years, we here at The Future of Freedom Foundation have been saying: We’ve got to get off this road — the road to socialism, interventionism, and empire.

The statists have said, “Don’t listen to the libertarians. Everything is a-okay. We have a free-enterprise system here in the United States.”

Well, reality is now mugging the statists in the face. Federal spending is uncontrolled, primarily because those who advocate the dole and the empire won’t let them go. That’s what Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, subsidies, welfare, bailouts, foreign aid, the overseas military bases, the military industrial complex, and the continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are all about — out of control federal spending, soaring debt, and now massive inflation and monetary debasement by the Federal Reserve.

It’s time for the Empire to get its troops out of Afghanistan. And Iraq. And Europe. And Asia. And Latin America. And Africa. And everywhere else. Enough is enough.

It’s also time to dismantle, not reform, all the welfare-state programs (e.g., Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) and all the interventionist programs (e.g., the drug war). It’s time to dismantle the warfare empire, close the bases, and bring the troops home and discharge them.

It’s time to restore the principles of individual liberty, free markets, sound money, voluntary charity, and limited government that the Framers bequeathed to us. It’s the only way toward peace, prosperity, and harmony.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Statists Hate Our Criminal Justice System Too

The statists are upset over the jury’s verdict in the federal court trial of former Guantanamo prisoner Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. After hearing and considering all the evidence, the jury returned a verdict of acquittal on 276 counts of murder and a verdict of guilty on one single count of conspiracy.

It’s not enough for the statists that Ghailani faces a potential life sentence on the conspiracy count. To them, the fact that the jury failed to return a verdict in which he would be facing 277 possible life sentences proves what a failure America’s federal criminal justice system under the U.S. Constitution is.

When a nation is mired in statism, sometimes it’s important to return to first principles.

The purpose of a trial in a criminal justice system is not to convict whomever the government accuses of a crime. If that were its purpose, then what would be the point of having a trial? All the government would have to do is simply accuse and punish, without any obstacles or impediments.

The purpose of a trial is not even to determine if an accused is guilty or innocent. Instead, its purpose is to determine whether the government can provide sufficient, competent evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that a person has, in fact, committed a criminal offense.

Suppose John Robber commits an armed robbery of a local church minister. The only evidence the state has is the minister’s word, but everyone knows that he is an honest and credible person. On the day of trial, the minister starts to take the witness stand to testify that John Robber robbed him, but the minister dies of a heart attack before he gets on the witness stand. The state is left without any evidence at all to convict John Robber.

What happens? Under our criminal justice system John Robber goes free. Since the state cannot prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, he walks out the courtroom a free man, even though it is clear to everyone that he committed the offense.

That is what statists hate about our constitutional system. They say: Punish John Robber anyway.

Deep down, statists hate our jury system, they hate our presumption of innocence, they hate our heavy burden of proof placed on the state (i.e., beyond a reasonable doubt), and they hate our exclusion of incompetent evidence (e.g., confessions acquired by torture) to convict a person.

To the statist, all that should be needed to punish a person is the state’s accusation. That’s all. Once the state accuses a person of being a murderer, a terrorist, a drug dealer, a robber, or a rapist, that should be the end of the matter, according to the statist.

We just need to trust the state. After all, the statist reminds us, the state is our daddy. It takes care of us. It is our provider and our protector. It provides our retirement, our children’s education, our health care, our jobs, our food, our housing, our money, and our welfare.

So, why shouldn’t we just trust the paternalistic state when it comes to protecting us from the bad guys? Our daddy wouldn’t let us down. He knows everything. He knows a terrorist when he sees a terrorist.

After all, what do we need a trial for when it’s obvious that a person is a terrorist? Isn’t that what the statists are saying? Isn’t that why they’re objecting to trials for the terrorists? How do they know that the terrorists are terrorists, especially without a trial? Because the government says they’re terrorists. For the statist, that’s the end of the matter.

The Framers bequeathed us a system of criminal justice that doesn’t place faith in the state. Instead, it says to the state: No matter how convinced you are that a person has committed an offense, you will have to prove it. And you’ll have to use only competent evidence to do it. And you’ll have to convince every single person on a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the person you’re accusing really is guilty of the offense.

Haven’t statists done enough damage to our country? Look at what they’ve done to our nation with their socialist, interventionist, and imperialist programs. Look at what they’ve done to our economic, educational, and monetary systems. Look at what they’ve done to our civil liberties and privacy. Must we permit them to destroy our criminal justice system too?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How About Income-Tax Repeal, Not Reform?

In the midst of the perpetual statist debate over whether President Bush’s tax cuts for the rich should be extended or not, we libertarians should refrain from getting mired in that debate and instead continue raising people’s vision to the libertarian principle, which is: There shouldn’t be an income tax at all and everyone should be free to keep everything he earns and decide for himself what to do with it — spend, save, invest, hoard, donate, or whatever.

For more than a century, Americans lived without income taxation. The reason? Because they knew that income taxation was contradictory to the principles of a free society. When people are free, they are exercising the right to keep the fruits of their earnings. On the other hand, when government has the power to tax incomes, the people are relegated to the condition of serfs.

That was one of the things that made America exceptional because it was such a revolutionary development. Imagine: a nation whose citizenry barred taxation on income for some 125 years.

Needless to say, it was also a society in which there was no Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, community grants, farm subsidies, foreign aid, welfare, food stamps, public housing, bank bailouts, SBA loans, drug war, paper money, legal tender laws, central bank, standing army, foreign wars, and a military industrial complex.

That too is what made America exceptional. Imagine: a nation whose citizenry decided for themselves whether to donate their money to others, without being coerced or manipulated into doing so by government officials.

Alas, 20th-century Americans abandoned those principles of liberty, converting the federal government into the master and the American citizen the serf.

Ironically, the statists claim that the welfare-warfare state that they have foisted upon our land is freedom and that it too is exceptional. They are living the life of the lie and the life of delusion. Opposites cannot be the same. And when a country is doing what every other country is doing, it cannot be considered exceptional.

Let the statists argue over their statist reforms. Let us libertarians continue raising the vision of the American people to a higher level — toward building on the founding principles of liberty enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, including the freedom to keep everything you earn and decide for yourself what to do with it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Make Your Choice: Empire or TSA Gropers and Porn Scanners

Americans are getting upset over the TSA gropers and porn scanners. But are they now ready to support the libertarian call to dismantle the U.S. government’s overseas military empire, which is the root cause of the TSA groping and porn scanning?

After the 9/11 attacks, the immediate cry from U.S. officials was, “We’re innocent! The terrorists have attacked us because they hate our freedom and values.”

Nonsense. As libertarians have consistently maintained, both before 9/11 and after 9/11, the terrorists attacked on 9/11 because of the bad things the U.S. Empire had been doing to people in the Middle East for decades. In fact, here at The Future of Foundation we repeatedly warned, prior to 9/11, that if the U.S. Empire continued doing those bad things to people in the Middle East, the inevitable result would be terrorism on American soil. See herehereherehere,here, and here.

With the 9/11 attacks, we were proved right. And we weren’t the only ones. Chalmers Johnson, author of the pre-9/11 book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, said the same thing: U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East would bring about a terrorist attack on American soil.

Immediately after 9/11, when President Bush and other U.S. officials were exclaiming about how the terrorists hate us for our freedom and values, FFF was publishing articles like, “Is This the Wrong Time to Question Foreign Policy?

Of course, U.S. imperialists and interventionists didn’t want to hear any criticism of the U.S. Empire. In their minds, the U.S. government and our country were one and the same thing. They suggested that critics of the U.S. government were traitors to America. To the statists, it was inconceivable that genuine patriotism and a love of country sometimes entail standing up to one’s own government and opposing its wrongdoing.

What was the U.S. Empire doing to people in the Middle East prior to 9/11? Here’s a partial list: (1) partnering with the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein and even delivering to him those infamous WMDs that Saddam later destroyed; (2) intervening in the Persian Gulf War, killing countless Iraqis; (3) intentionally bombing Iraq’s water and sewage facilities with the intent to spread infectious illnesses among the Iraqi people; (4) enforcing one of the most brutal embargoes in history against Iraq, preventing the repair of the water and sewage facilities and leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children — yes, children; (5) announcing to the world that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it”; (6) enforcing the illegal no-fly zones, killing more Iraqis in the process; (7) stationing imperial troops near Mecca and Medina, the holiest sites in the Muslim religion; and (8) providing unconditional military and financial aid to the Israeli government, year after year.

What did the U.S. government do as a result of 9/11? Did it stop all these actions?

Are you kidding? Hey, don’t forget: U.S. officials claimed that these things didn’t have any adverse effect on people in the Middle East. No, it was all because they hate us for our freedom and values, they steadfastly maintained.

So, they used the 9/11 attacks to justify doing the same sorts of things they had been doing prior to 9/11. Given that the Iraq embargo and the killing of the Iraqi children had failed to secure the ouster of Saddam Hussein, they used the 9/11 attacks to justify an invasion of the country. And they did the same thing in Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to comply with President Bush’s unconditional extradition demand for Osama bin Laden, the man who they still haven’t captured or killed after 10 years of death and destruction.

What has been the result of the 9 or 10 years of military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan? Death, mayhem, chaos, crisis, torture, tyranny, and destruction in both countries, which means constant anger and hatred, which means constant threat of terrorist retaliation.

Which brings us to the TSA gropers and porn scanners.

Hey, they’re just keeping us safe from the terrorists, aren’t they? Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? Isn’t that their job? If the terrorists can carry liquid explosives, what are the TSA gropers and porn-scanners supposed to do — stop searching people’s private parts? Wouldn’t that then become a likely place for terrorists to carry liquid explosives?

Anyway, don’t forget what the statists often remind us whenever they’re justifying the latest assault on civil liberty and privacy in the name of the war on terrorism: If you’re not guilty of anything, then why should you care that they’re groping your private parts or peering at your naked body … or doing it to your 12-year-old daughter?

Today, America’s overseas empire is helping to bankrupt our nation. The empire encompasses 700-1000 overseas military bases in more than 130 countries. The statists call it the “Department of Defense.” That’s a delusion. In reality, it’s the Department of Empire and War.

Coups, assassinations, support of brutal dictatorships, torture, sanctions, embargoes, interference in foreign elections, secret prison camps, kangaroo tribunals, dual judicial systems, invasions, occupations, assassinations, renditions, kidnappings, cover-ups, lies and deception, death, destruction, crisis, chaos, and mayhem.

It’s all part and parcel of the U.S. Empire, the empire that continues to produce anger and hatred among the victims, which then produces the threat of terrorist retaliation, which then produces the need to protect us from the terrorists with all those TSA gropers and porn scanners.

The solution to this inanity is plain: Dismantle the empire, close the bases, and bring all the troops home and discharge them. The anger and hatred disappears, along with the threat of terrorist retaliation. Things return to normal. No more TSA. No more body gropers and porn scanners.

The question is: What’s more important to you: an empire or your freedom, prosperity, and privacy?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Statism, Inflation, and the Fed

As the statists debate the future impact of the Fed’s latest inflationary binge, it’s important that we keep the big picture in mind.

This is what the Fed has done since it was established in 1913. Decade after decade, it has inflated the money supply in order to enable big-spending federal officials to spend money to their heart’s content.

Most federal officials have a voracious and insatiable desire to spend other people’s money. The way that the federal government ordinarily gets the money it spends is by collecting it in taxes. The problem, of course, is that public officials always want to spend more than they’re collecting in taxes. But they don’t want to raise taxes to collect the difference because people get angry when their taxes are raised, which could mean “bye, bye” to the public official, who, of course, thinks of nothing else but reelection.

So, the solution is to simply borrow the difference between what is being collected in taxes and what is being spent in welfare-warfare programs. The problem, however, is that the desire to spend quickly exceeds the amount being borrowed. Moreover, the debt must ultimately be paid off.

That’s where the central bank — the Federal Reserve — comes in. It cranks up the printing presses, printing massive amounts of new money that is used to pay off the government’s debt and to cover new spending programs.

Yes, I know what the statist will say: “Oh, no, Jacob. The Fed was established to bring stability and order to the monetary system.”

That’s a joke. It’s just part of the life of the lie and the life of delusion that statists live. The only purpose of the Federal Reserve is to enable federal officials to spend to their heart’s content without raising taxes.

Why is the paper dollar worth about a nickel compared to its value in 1913? Because the Federal Reserve, decade after decade, has inflated the money supply, thereby debasing the value of the dollar. And each time they inflated, statists have said the same thing they’re saying now: “Oh, it’s just a temporary fix. It’s just a short-term stimulus. We can return to normal after the economy is stimulated.”

But things never return to normal. The constant debasement of the dollar has remained a permanent feature of American life.

Why do Americans no longer use gold and silver coins in their everyday transactions, as they did for more than 100 years? It’s because of the Federal Reserve. The Fed has inflated the money supply so massively since 1913 that it no longer makes sense to use a silver quarter to make a purchase since it is worth much more than twenty five cents in debased paper money.

The statists tell us that all this inflation is a good thing. They are wrong. A debasement of the currency is never a good thing. For one thing, inflation is a tax, only a secret, surreptitious tax. Nobody can predict in advance who is going to be the one who pays this tax, but some people inevitably will. Second, the injection of new waves of newly printed money send false signals into the marketplace, leading consumers and investors to make perverse decisions. The housing debacle is a good example of that phenomenon.

Our country was founded on the concept of sound money. That was why the American people used gold, silver, and copper coins as their official money for more than a century. It’s not a coincidence that the following phrase appears in the Constitution: “A state shall not … make anything but gold and silver coin a legal tender in payment of debts.”

Unfortunately, the statists prevailed with their big spending schemes, first with the creation of the Federal Reserve, followed by the abolition of the gold standard, followed by their confiscation of gold, followed by their nullification of gold clauses in contracts, followed by their decades of big spending, and accompanied by the massive inflationary binges to accommodate the big spending.

There is only one solution to all this monetary statism. Ditch the Federal Reserve entirely. Abolish it, along with all legal-tender laws. Separate money and the state, in the same way our ancestors had the wisdom to separate religion and the state.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Statist Box

To get a good picture of the plight that afflicts the American people, imagine a great big box in which the American people are living. The box is a statist box, one in which there is a jungle of socialist, interventionist, and imperialist programs.

Social Security. Medicare. Medicaid. Subsidies. Public (i.e., government) schooling. Public housing. Food stamps. Farm subsidies. Bank bailouts. Corporate grants. Community grants. Education grants. SBA loans. Foreign aid. Foreign military bases. Invasions. Occupations. Torture. Secret prison camps. Military tribunals. Assassinations. Paper Money. Legal tender laws. Central bank. Trade restrictions. Economic regulations. Occupational licensure. Embargoes. Sanctions. Immigration controls. Standing army. Military-industrial complex. Drug laws. Welfare and regulatory departments and agencies. Income taxation and the IRS.

As you look around the box, however, what you see written all over the walls is the following mantra: “Freedom and free enterprise! That’s what makes America exceptional!”

Most everyone in the box, especially liberals and conservatives, are convinced that the mantra is true. From the first grade in the public (government) schools that most of them attended (or government-approved schools), their minds have been molded into accepting this fundamental tenet of life in the box — that America is freedom and that all those programs are part of America’s free enterprise system.

Being statist in reality, however, the programs are always in disrepair. Crisis, chaos, and war have become a permanent feature of American life.

The fight between liberals and conservatives is always over how the programs should be reformed and who should manage them. “My reform should be adopted! Elect me to public office!” cries the liberal. “No, it’s my reform that will fix our free-enterprise system. Elect me to public office,” responds the conservative.

What the statists fail to recognize, however, is that no reform, liberal or conservative, will ever fix the system. Why? Because statism is inherently defective. It is incapable of working. No reform will ever make a difference. And neither will any particular person running it.

Moreover, statism is inherently defective even though people are convinced that it’s free enterprise. Operating under a lie or a delusion cannot affect the reality of what is occurring. Just because liberals and conservatives are convinced that all that statist jungle is “freedom and free enterprise” — and even they have had this belief inculcated into their minds since they were six years old — it makes no difference. Reality is reality even if people choose to deny it.

Enter the libertarians. One of the things that distinguish us libertarians from everyone else is the fact that we have broken free, intellectually and psychologically, from the statist box. Unlike liberals and conservatives, we understand that the box is a jungle of statist programs. We don’t operate under the delusion that all that socialism, interventionism, and imperialism is freedom and free enterprise. On the contrary, we understand that freedom and free enterprise require the dismantling of the statist programs, not their continuation and reform.

Unfortunately, all too many liberals and conservatives are incorrigible. They are solidly committed to statism, in large part because they’re convinced that it’s all freedom and free enterprise. Thus, they remain perpetually hopeful that they’re finally going to find the reform that makes “free enterprise” work. Their plight is best described by the words of Johann von Goethe: None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

But there are lots of Americans inside the box who are do not consider themselves ideological liberals or conservatives. They are Americans who are truly concerned with the ever-worsening situation in the United States. They are searching for the right diagnosis and the right solution.

That’s why we libertarians must continue standing our ground and raising people’s vision to the libertarian paradigm, with the aim of finding those Americans who are able to break free of the statist box and join up with those of us who are committed to dismantling, not reforming, it

Friday, November 12, 2010

Where Does the Tea Party Stand on Declaring War?

Given their commitment to the Constitution, members of the Tea Party must confront the legality of the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

I’m referring to the declaration of war provision in the Constitution. It delegates the power to declare war to the Congress and the power to wage war to the president. Pursuant to this provision, the president is legally prohibited from waging war without first securing a declaration of war from Congress.

We all know where conservatives and neo-conservatives stand on this issue. They say that that is nothing more than a technicality that the president is free to ignore. They point to precedent, such as the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and say that since the presidents in those wars didn’t secure a congressional declaration of war, future presidents are no longer legally required to do so.

But conservatives and neo-conservatives are wrong. The Constitution is the law, one that we the people impose on federal officials, including the president. Just as the citizenry is expected to comply with laws enacted by the federal government, federal officials are expected to comply with the law that we the people impose on them, which is the Constitution. And the fact that previous presidents have broken the law does not serve as a legal justification for succeeding presidents to do so.

The Framers chose not to entrust the president with both the power to declare war and the power to wage war. They wanted the war power to be divided because they understood that the presidency would inevitably attract the type of people who would use military force to go after foreign rulers they didn’t like.

Conservatives and neo-cons argue that the resolution that they enacted which gave President George W. Bush authorization to use force against Iraq was the equivalent of a congressional declaration of war. They are wrong. In effect, that resolution delegated to the president the power to declare war, something the Constitution does not permit. The responsibility for declaring lies solely with Congress.

When Bush wanted to wage war against Iraq, the law required him to ask Congress for a formal declaration of war. The Congress would have required Bush to explain the reasons for his request. It is entirely possible that in the congressional deliberations, Congress would have determined that Bush’s WMD scares were bogus and nothing more than a smokescreen to effect a regime-change operation in Iraq intended simply to bring down Saddam Hussein and replace him with a U.S.-approved regime, something that 11 years of pre-9/11 sanctions on Iraq had failed to do.

It is no different with respect to Afghanistan. When Congress authorized Bush to use military force to go after 9/11 conspirators, that was not a declaration of war against Afghanistan. The Constitution required Bush to approach Congress and show why the Congress should issue a declaration of war against Afghanistan. It is entirely possible that Congress would have considered the Taliban’s refusal to extradite Osama bin Laden to be an insufficient justification for declaring war against Afghanistan, a war that has taken the lives of countless people who had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, not to mention the fact that the principal suspect in the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, is still on the lam.

The point the Tea Party must confront is very simple: The Constitution requires a congressional declaration of war as a prerequisite for the president’s waging of war. The Congress never issued a declaration of war against Iraq or Afghanistan. That makes the wars on these two countries, and the resulting occupations, illegal under our form of constitutional government.

Will the Tea Party take the same position as conservatives and neo-cons — that constitutional provisions are nothing more than technicalities that the president is free to ignore whenever he wants? Or will the Tea Party move in a different direction, one that requires the president to adhere to the Constitution by securing the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war before he wages war?

For more on this issue, see the following articles:

Declaring and Waging War: The U.S. Constitution by Jacob G. Hornberger

Declare War Before Waging War by Doug Bandow

The Power to Declare War — Who Speaks for the Constitution? by Doug Bandow

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Root of TSA Tyranny Is U.S. Foreign Policy 

LewRockwell.com has recently been linking to a spate of articles condemning TSA’s airport security operations, including the agency’s enthusiastic embrace of body scanners:

TSA Porno-Scanners: What They’re Really Looking by Claire Wolfe

TSA Resistance Taking Off: Are the Elitist Airlines Worried, Yet? by Robert Wenzel

Knee-Jerk Alert: TSA Bans Printer Cartridges … World Is Now Safer by David Parker Brown

TSA Groping Out of Control by Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones

Invasion of the Body Scanners: More Tales of Terror from the Unfriendly Skiesby John W. Whitehead

The Indignity About the Full Body Scanners by AirlineNightmare.com

Hey, US Air by Kathryn Muratore

As the federal government continues coming up with ways to infringe upon our civil liberty and privacy, it is important that we keep in mind that these infringements are not the root of the problem. The root of the problem is U.S. foreign policy, specifically the U.S. government’s interventionist, imperialist policies abroad. Thus, as important as it is to continue battling against the infringements themselves, it is equally important that we pull the weed out by its root.

It is U.S. foreign policy — the regime-change operations, the interference in foreign elections, coups, assassinations, embargoes, sanctions, foreign aid, torture, abuse, invasions, and occupations — that produces the anger and the hatred that then leads to the constant threat of terrorist retaliation.

The U.S. government then uses the constant threat of terrorist retaliation to justify its constant and ever-growing infringements on the civil liberty and privacy of the American citizenry.

To put it simply, empire abroad leads to loss of liberty and privacy at home.

Thus, the only real, long-term, permanent solution to restoring a life of normality, liberty, harmony, and prosperity to our land, including the restoration of airline travel without governmental infringements on civil liberty and privacy, lies in dismantling the U.S. government’s overseas military empire. As long as the empire is permitted to exist and operate around the world, it will continue doing bad things to people overseas, who will then wish to retaliate, which will then be used as the excuse for ever-growing infringements on the civil liberty and privacy of the American people.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The CIA Is the Law

Whenever people raise evidence of CIA wrongdoing, deception, and cover-ups, mainstream statists immediately respond with, “Conspiracy theory! Conspiracy theory”! The statist mindset is one that is best reflected by the word “Inconceivable!” To mainstream statists, it is simply inconceivable that the CIA would engage in wrongdoing, lying, and cover-ups. In their minds, the agency is “exceptional” in that it upholds traditional American values of truth, justice, and honesty.

What’s interesting about the mainstream statist mindset, however, is that when the evidence conclusively establishes that the CIA has, in fact, engaged in wrongdoing, lies, and cover-ups, mainstream statists never seem to be shocked about it. Their attitude becomes a yawn: “Well, it’s just an aberration. Leave the CIA alone. Our national security depends on the CIA. Time to move on.”

We see this phenomenon playing out with the destruction of the torture videotapes. There can really be only one reason to have destroyed the tapes: to destroy evidence that could lead to a criminal conviction of CIA torturers. Without the tapes, it becomes a matter of CIA agents saying, “That terrorist is lying. We would never have done that to him. Who are you going to believe — a terrorist or a CIA agent who has committed his life to protecting you and national security?”

It really isn’t surprising that the special prosecutor looking into the destruction of the torture videotapes has decided to give the destroyer of the tapes a pass. After all, this is the CIA we’re talking about. Who’s going to tangle with the CIA? In modern-day America, the CIA is the law.

Just ask the Italian people. They’ll tell you. After safely ensconcing themselves in beautiful 5-star hotels in Milan, CIA agents decided to kidnap a guy on the streets of Milan. They grabbed him and then shipped him to Egypt so that he could be tortured there. The reason they didn’t torture him themselves is so that they could say, “We never laid a hand on him. The Egyptians torturers did it, not us.”

While the CIA agents courageously ganged up on the kidnap victim and forcibly shipped him to the Egyptian torturers, their courage disintegrated when it came to their criminal trial. Not one of them chose to return to Italy, confront their accusers, and defend their actions. They all decided that discretion was the better part of valor. They chose to stay away. They were convicted in absentia.

Has the Obama administration agreed to extradite these CIA felons to Italy to face the music? Are you kidding? This is the CIA we’re talking about. Nobody, not even the president of the United States, is going to buck the CIA. The CIA is the law.

Want another example? Nine years ago, the CIA participated in a shoot-down of an American missionary couple and their 7-month-old baby. The operation was part of the CIA’s participation in a drug-war operation in Peru. The mother and baby were both killed.

I wrote about this horror story in an article in the June 2001 issue of FFF’s monthly journal Freedom Daily, entitled “Drug-War Killings in Peru.” I stated:

After a CIA plane issued an alert to the Peruvian military that the Bowerses plane might be smuggling drugs, a Peruvian military plane attacked and shot down the Cessna. Bowers’s husband and the other child survived the attack, as did the pilot, albeit with severe leg wounds from the bullets that the Peruvian plane fired….

How many more innocent people must die? How many more robberies and muggings in order to pay the exorbitant black-market prices for the drugs must occur? How many more addicts must be jailed? How much more government corruption must be uncovered? How much longer must we pay attention to the “good intentions” of the drug warriors?”

A few days ago, a 2008 report about the Peru killings was declassified.According to the New York Times,


The report concluded that top C.I.A. officers misled members of Congress when they portrayed the April 2001 episode as an anomaly in an otherwise well-run program, and that C.I.A. lawyers repeatedly intervened with Justice Department officials to prevent prosecutions in the case.

The report also said that the spy agency had concealed internal findings from victims of the downing of the plane and their relatives, who had sued the government.…

Mr. Helgerson’s investigation found that C.I.A. officers had violated established procedures in most of the 14 downings of planes in Peru before the April 2001 episode.

“CIA officers knew of and condoned most of these violations,” the report read, “fostering an environment of negligence and disregard for procedures.”

Did the CIA malefactors get prosecuted for this? Are you kidding? Hey, this is the CIA we’re talking about. Who’s going to prosecute them? I repeat: The CIA is the law. How can you prosecute people for breaking the law when they are the law?

The Times:

The Justice Department in 2005 declined to prosecute any of the C.I.A. officers involved in the missionary case. But the 2008 inspector general’s report found evidence that some C.I.A. officials had deliberately withheld information about the case from federal investigators. Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to comment on whether the department had reopened an inquiry into the matter.”

Given that so many Americans are so scared of terrorists (who are retaliating for what the CIA and the Pentagon have done to foreigners), the possibility that Americans today would consider abolishing the CIA would appear slim.

But we libertarians must continue pressing for that solution. There is no way to reconcile a secret intelligence force with the principles of a free society, especially one that is the law unto itself, enabling it to murder, kidnap, torture, rendition, assassinate, lie, cover up, and obstruct justice with impunity.

Here are three articles to consider:

Abolish the CIA” by Chalmers Johnson

Improve the CIA? Better to Abolish It by Chalmers Johnson

Don’t Reform the CIA – Abolish It by Jacob G. Hornberger

The CIA and the Assassination of John Kennedy by Jacob G. Hornberger

At the very least, can’t we just end the war on drugs? How much death and destruction will the American people continue to tolerate before they finally end this immoral, failed, destructive program that benefits no one except drug lords, the CIA, the DEA, and government officials on the take.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No Right to Health Care, Education, or a Job

Statists love to say that people have a right to such things as health care, education, or a job. That’s just plain statist nonsense. People do not have a right to health care, education, or a job.

People have a right to seek health care, education, or a job but they don’t have a right to them.

What’s the difference? Let’s examine it.

To say that someone has a right to health care is to say that someone else has a duty to provide it. Let’s say I walk into a doctor’s office and demand to see the doctor. The receptionist asks me to provide a credit card to cover the cost of the visit. I reply: “I don’t have to pay for this service. I have a right to health care.” The doctor walks in and says, “If you don’t pay for my service, you’re not getting treated.”

Isn’t he interfering with my right to health care? If I have a right to health care, then shouldn’t he be forced to provide it? If he refuses to provide it, then what good is my right to health care? The statist would say that a right to health care means the right to force a doctor or other health care provider to treat you for free (or force someone else to pay for it).

Now, compare that with a right to seek health care. You have a right to walk into a doctor’s office and ask if he will treat you. He has the right to say yes or no. If he says yes, both of you must arrive at a mutually agreeable price for the service. If you fail to do so, the doctor is free to walk away and so are you.

It’s the same with education. You don’t have a right to force a teacher to provide you with an education. You have the right to seek an education by asking the teacher to teach you on mutually agreed-upon terms.

It’s the same with a job. You have the right to seek employment but not force an employer to hire you.

In other words, you have the right to pursue happiness but you have no right to force others to provide you with health care, education, or a job. Genuine liberty entails the right to live your live any way you wish, so long as you leave everyone else free to do the same thing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Balancing the Budget Isn’t Enough

One of the things that distinguish libertarians from conservatives is with respect to moral principles, a phenomenon that is reflected in the current debate over federal spending.

Notice that conservatives focus exclusively on the fact that the federal government is spending more than what it’s bringing in. They rail against the deficit spending, the borrowing, and the ever-growing national debt, which now amounts to about $43,000 per American.

Up to this point, libertarians agree wholeheartedly. We too oppose the deficit spending, the borrowing, and the ever-growing debt.

But this is where the commonality ends. Conservatives would be content if the budget were balanced, while libertarians would still not be satisfied, owing to certain moral principles that libertarians hold that conservatives do not hold.

Libertarians believe that it’s morally wrong for government to forcibly take one person’s money in order to give it to another person. Conservatives believe that it’s morally right for government to do this. That’s why conservatives support such welfare-state programs as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which are the biggest component of federal spending, while libertarians oppose them.

Libertarians believe that it’s morally wrong for government to regulate, monitor, or control peaceful activity. Conservatives believe that it’s morally right for government to do this. That’s why conservatives support the drug war while libertarians oppose it.

Libertarians believe that it’s morally wrong for government to go abroad and kill people for the sake of democracy. Conservatives believe that it’s morally right for government to do that. That’s why conservatives support the indefinite (and expensive) occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, while libertarians oppose them.

Thus, as long as government’s tax revenues are equal to its expenditures, conservatives are happy. That’s why you often see conservatives preaching such mantras as “I favor smaller government” or “We just need to cut spending across the board.” In their mind, the problem is deficit spending, not the fact that the government is engaged in immoral activity.

Balancing the budget by “slashing spending” would still leave in place such socialistic programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, farm subsidies, community grants, foreign aid, food stamps, public housing, SBA loans, and all other welfare-state programs, projects, departments, and agencies. Sure, the budgets would be smaller and dole recipients would be receiving a smaller dole than before, but the programs and the dole would continue.

That would be fine with conservatives. All that would matter to them is that the budget would now be balanced.

But it would not be fine with libertarians because the government would still be engaged in immoral activity, albeit possibly on a smaller scale than before. The government would still be forcibly taking money from people to whom it rightfully belongs in order to give it to other people. That is anathema to libertarians. We hold that people should be free to keep their own money and decide for themselves what to do with it.

The same with the drug war. With a balanced budget, there would be less money to enforce drug laws. Nonetheless, the drug laws would still be enforced. Lives would still be ruined. There would still be the violence associated with the black market. Libertarians are not interested in a down-sized, streamlined DEA. We’re interested in ending the war on drugs because we believe that freedom entails the right to ingest whatever people want to ingest. We want to dismantle the DEA and repeal laws criminalizing the use, possession, or distribution of drugs.

The same with the U.S. government’s overseas empire, including the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, this is an area in which most conservatives would oppose any reduction in expenditures. That’s because they are firmly committed to empire, to militarism, and to unlimited, omnipotent government in foreign affairs, under the rubric “a strong national defense.” Libertarians, on the other hand, support a limited-government, constitutional republic. We wouldn’t be happy with a downsized occupation force in Iraq and Afghanistan or a smaller empire. We say: bring all the troops home and discharge them and abandon all the overseas military bases.

Why is our nation mired in perpetual crises and chaos, in both domestic and foreign affairs? The reason isn’t only because the government is spending more than what it brings in, as conservatives often suggest. It’s also a moral crisis, one in which Americans have rendered unto Caesar — the state — things that should never have been rendered unto Caesar. Once Americans confront that reality — once they realize the fundamental immorality of the welfare-warfare state way of life — they will see that balancing the budget just isn’t enough to get our nation back on the right track.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Liberals, Conservatives, and Libertarians: What’s the Difference?

People sometimes ask what the differences are between liberals, conservatives, and libertarians.

The primary differences are moral and philosophical.

Libertarians believe that people should be free to live their lives any way they choose, so long as their conduct is peaceful.

Liberals and conservatives believe that people should be free to live their lives any way they choose, so long as their conduct is responsible.

Libertarians believe that the primary purposes of government are to protect people from the violence of others (e.g., murderers, rapists, thieves, and invaders) and to provide a forum (i.e., a judiciary) in which people can peacefully resolve their disputes.

Liberals and conservatives believe that the primary purposes of government are to take care of people, to regulate and control people’s activities and to manage the economy, and to police the world through an extensive military empire.

To demonstrate the practical differences between liberals, conservatives, and libertarians, here is where most liberals, conservatives, and libertarians stand on a variety of governmental programs, departments, and agencies.

(Of course, it’s always possible to find exceptions within each group. For example, Bill Buckley, a conservative, opposed the drug war but everyone would agree that most Republicans in Congress support it. Liberals Glenn Greenwald and the ACLU oppose infringements on civil liberties but everyone would agree that most Democrats in Congress support them. Moreover, while liberals and conservatives agree on the programs and departments, there might be vehement disagreements between them as to who should run them and how they should be run.)

Liberals & Conservatives Libertarians
Social Security Support Oppose
Medicare Support Oppose
Medicaid Support Oppose
Public Schooling Support Oppose
Income Taxes & the IRS Support Oppose
Welfare Support Oppose
Food Stamps Support Oppose
Subsidies Support Oppose
Bailouts Support Oppose
Foreign Aid Support Oppose
Occupational Licensure Support Oppose
Minimum Wage Support Oppose
Economic Regulations Support Oppose
The Postal Monopoly Support Oppose
Trade Restrictions Support Oppose
Immigration Controls Support Oppose
Public Works Support Oppose
Paper Money Support Oppose
Legal Tender Laws Support Oppose
The War on Drugs Support Oppose
Gun Control Support Oppose
The War on Terrorism Support Oppose
Foreign Wars Support Oppose
Wars of Aggression Support Oppose
Undeclared Wars Support Oppose
The Standing Army Support Oppose
The Military-Industrial Complex Support Oppose
Overseas Military Empire Support Oppose
Coups Support Oppose
Assassination Support Oppose
Torture Support Oppose
Immunity for Illegal Surveillance Support Oppose
Friendly Foreign Dictatorships Support Oppose
Infringements on Civil Liberties Support Oppose
The Patriot Act Support Oppose
Military Tribunals Support Oppose
Occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan Support Oppose
Department of Education Support Oppose
Department of Commerce Support Oppose
Department of Health and Human Services Support Oppose
Deparment of Energy Support Oppose
Department of Homeland Security Support Oppose
Department of HUD Support Oppose
Department of Labor Support Oppose
Department of the Interior Support Oppose
Department of Agriculture Support Oppose
Department of Transportation Support Oppose
Department of National Intelligence Support Oppose
The CIA Support Oppose
The FBI Support Oppose
The IRS Support Oppose
The DEA Support Oppose
The Federal Reserve Support Oppose
The Border Patrol Support Oppose

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Don’t Save Social Security

There’s a website entitled Save Our Social Security. It issues the following scary, sinister, and ominous warning:

“Powerful forces are gathering. They have prestige and wealth but they want more, and they want to take it from you. Their plan is to trick you into believing that Social Security is going broke. They say that the only cure is for you to give up what you’ve earned after years of hard work. They disguise their greed as concern: concern for the nation, concern for the future, concern for you. Don’t be fooled. They care only for themselves. They have plenty but they want more and if it makes you poor, too bad. These liars could do honest work but tricking you into surrendering your future is easier. Will Social Security be there when you need it? Not unless you fight for it.”

All that is ridiculous!

For one thing, Social Security can always be there. After all, won’t there always be young people who are working to make a living? Isn’t that where the money comes from?

So what’s the problem? All that people in their 60s and above have to do is have the government take more money from young people and redistribute it to the seniors. How can a system go broke when it depends entirely on taking money from working people?

Oh, you say that the money collected from young people might not be enough to fund the retirement lifestyle that the elderly would like to have? Well, then just impose higher taxes on young people. Just take more of their income from them.

What’s the problem?

Oh, you say that the number of young people just isn’t large enough to fund the senior’s preferred retirement lifestyle? Then, just collect a bigger portion of their income. If necessary, go all the way up 95 percent taxes on their income.

What’s the problem?

Oh, you say that working people might not like going home with only 5 percent of their income? Who cares what they don’t like? They’re just being greedy and hateful. They only care for themselves. They have plenty and they just want more. Yeah, your children, and their friends, and their generations are just a bunch of no-good liars who are trying to trick you into surrendering your nice Social Security payments.

All too many Americans simply do not wish to see the reality of Social Security. They’ve lived all their lives under myths, illusions, and delusions, mostly self-imposed. And many of them get furious when you confront them with reality. It’s easier to continue living under the myths, illusions, and delusions.

Reality: There is no Social Security fund. There never has been a fund. There never will be a fund. From the very beginning, Social Security has been just another socialistic welfare program, no different from food stamps or agricultural subsidies.

Reality: The government is not like a private business. It does not create wealth. It is also not a fountain of wealth. It does not have its own money. The only way it gets its money is by taking it away from people in the private sector.

Reality: Social Security is a straight, out-and-out, socialistic program. It’s not a coincidence that the Social Security administration has a bust of Otto von Bismarck on its website. He was known as the Iron Chancellor of Germany. He got the idea of Social Security from German socialists and then introduced it into Germany’s paternalistic, welfare-state way of life.

Reality: Social Security program is one of major factors that are heading America toward bankruptcy.

Reality: Young people are already having a terribly difficult time starting out in life, including buying a home and raising a family. Why in the world would any senior citizen desire to make life more difficult for young people, including their children and grandchildren and their friends by continuing to impose an enormous Social Security tax burden on them?

Seniors have the opportunity to do the right thing before they pass from this life. They have the opportunity to call for the repeal, not the saving, of Social Security. Many seniors don’t need the money anyway. Some will have to continue working, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, imagine the economic prosperity and job creation that would result from ending the enormous Social Security tax burden. Others will have to depend on their children or others for help.

What’s wrong with all that? Have Americans lost all their faith in the workings of a free society?

America’s experiment with socialism (as well as its experiment with military empire) has failed. America’s senior citizens should do the right thing and demand the repeal, not the reform, of Social Security. Repealing Social Security, the crown jewel of America’s welfare state, would help lead America out of its statist morass and put our nation back on the road of economic liberty, free markets, prosperity, sound money, voluntary charity, and a constitutionally limited-government republic.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Another Triumph for Statism

Some mainstream media types are reporting that voters effectively rejected President Obama in the elections yesterday. The problem is that they’re not looking at the big picture.

With the Republican takeover of the House, Obama is assured of full support of his interventionist foreign policy and his continued infringements on civil liberties, including the continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, full criminal immunity for U.S. officials who have broken U.S. criminal and international laws against torture and illegal surveillance, kangaroo military tribunals, the enemy-combatant doctrine, the continuation of America’s overseas military empire, the assassination program, the war on terrorism, and, of course, the ever-growing threat of terrorist retaliation.

Obama is also assured of continued support of his war on drugs, perhaps the most immoral, failed, and destructive war in American history.

The president is also assured of continued support for his war on immigrants, including the building of the Berlin-type fence along America’s southern border as well as the militarization of the border.

Everyone knew that Obama would continue George W. Bush’s big-government welfare-state programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, subsidies, foreign aid, and Wall Street bailouts.

What liberals and young people hoped was that Obama would change directions in such areas as foreign policy, civil liberties, the drug war, and the war on immigrants.

Alas, it was not to be. As we’ve all learned by now, after two years of Obama in office, nothing fundamentally has changed in the past two years and, arguably, things are much worse on all fronts. After all, at least Bush and his people weren’t (yet) assassinating Americans, as Obama is.

Thus, how can anyone be surprised that Obama’s base of support has disintegrated? In every major area, both foreign and domestic, Obama’s first two years in office have been nothing more than George W. Bush’s third term in office.

The standard mindset in America, including in the mainstream press, is the “left-right debate” in America. The belief is that there is something fundamentally different about liberals and conservatives.

That’s just plain nonsense. There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between liberals and conservatives, not philosophically. They are both statist to the core. They both embrace socialism, interventionism, and imperialism.

Want examples? Okay, here are a few: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, subsidies, education grants, foreign aid, trade restrictions, immigration controls, the drug war, occupation licensure, the Federal Reserve, paper money, the minimum wage, economic regulations, the postal monopoly, wars of aggression, torture, kangaroo military tribunals, the enemy-combatant doctrine, foreign occupations, and the war on terrorism.

Oh sure, there are variations on whose reform should be adopted but those are relatively minor. Philosophically, liberals and conservatives agree on what should be the role of government in American society. They believe in socialism, interventionism, and imperialism, even though many of them operate under the self-imposed delusion that it’s all “freedom and free enterprise.”

So, what is the real fight between Republicans and Democrats? It’s not a philosophical fight. It’s over two things: power and money. They fight over who is going to have the reins of political power and who gets the big money that comes with political power.

Thus, the real battle that is going on in America is not between left and right. They’re the same. The real battle is libertarianism vs. statism. While both liberals and conservatives are committed to retaining the statist status quo and fighting over who gets to govern it, libertarians are committed to dismantling the statist system, thereby restoring liberty to our land.

Obviously, our fight for a free society is a much bigger one, much more difficult than the fight over power and money between liberals and conservatives.

Will a sufficient number of Americans join up with us libertarians to restore a free-market, limited-government republic to our land? I think so. Despite the continued triumph of statism in the electoral arena, every day more and more people discover libertarianism and are attracted to our philosophy, our ideals, and our principles. The fact that people are being mugged by the reality of what statism is doing to them, their families, and our country is making our job easier.

What we libertarians must continue doing is advocating the moral, philosophical, and economic case for the free society. We must never succumb to the siren’s song of winning political power in order to better manage the statist system.

We must continue injecting sound ideas on liberty into the marketplace of ideas. We must continue patiently raising people’s vision to a higher level — to dismantling, not reforming or running, the socialist, interventionist, and imperialist programs that the liberal and conservative statists have foisted upon our land. We must continue looking for and finding libertarians — people whose love of liberty places it among their highest values.

Life does not guarantee success, but if we libertarians continue battling statism with truth, moral principles, and sound economic principles, we stand a good chance of finally reaching a critical mass that overwhelms the statists, brings an end to socialism, interventionism, and imperialism, and restores liberty, free markets, and a limited-government republic to our land.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More on Libertarianism and the Tea Party

In response to my blog post of yesterday, entitled “Libertarianism and the Tea Party,” some Tea Party supporters posted comments on my Facebook page indicating that my “attack” on the Tea Party was unfounded.

My article, however, wasn’t an attack on the Tea Party. It was simply an observation about the Tea Party. The fact is while the Tea Party has come out strongly against out-of-control federal spending and debt, the overwhelming majority of Tea Party members have still not embraced libertarianism. If anyone disagrees with that assessment, please send me any op-eds or articles showing that Tea Party members are embracing libertarianism.

Now, that’s not to say that I’m unhappy with the Tea Party phenomenon. I think it’s exciting that lots of people appear to be waking up from the deep slumber that has long afflicted the American people. When people are no longer behaving as “my government, never wrong” automatons, that’s a very positive and encouraging sign.

My point is simply to point out that most Tea Party members have still not arrived at libertarianism. Instead, they’re still operating with the statist box under which we all were indoctrinated. That’s what distinguishes libertarians from Tea Party members — we have broken free of the box and now recognize it for what it is — statism, consisting of a combination of socialism, interventionism, and imperialism. That’s why we understand that economic liberty necessitates repeal, not reform, of statist programs. Tea Party members are still mired within the reform paradigm.

A genuine concern about federal spending and debt is simply not enough. While libertarians also oppose excessive federal spending and debt, we don’t simply call for tax cuts and reductions in federal spending to resolve the problem. We instead ask important moral and philosophical questions, such as:

What does it mean to be free in an economic sense?

What is the role of government in a free society?

Is it morally right for government to forcibly take money from one person to give it to another person?

Is it morally right for government to punish a person for ingesting harmful substances?

Is it morally right for government to bomb people in other countries in the hope of bringing them democracy?

Is it morally right that for government to engage in invasions, wars of aggression, occupations, assassinations, coups, embargoes, sanctions, torture, abuse, and other interventions in the affairs of other countries?

Notice that once a person arrives at the libertarian answer to such questions, the issue of out-of-control spending and debt resolves itself because the solution flows naturally from the answers to the questions.

Freedom entails engaging in any economic enterprise free of government control, entering into mutually beneficial transactions with anyone anywhere in the world, and accumulating unlimited amounts of wealth and deciding for one’s self what to do with it.

The role of government is to protect people’s freedom of choice, not control, manipulate, regulate, or punish it.

It is morally wrong for government to use its power to take money from people in order to give it to other people.

It is morally wrong for government to establish an overseas military empire and to intervene in the affairs of other nations, especially by wreaking death, maiming, and destruction in the name of freedom and democracy.

Thus, for libertarians, the solution to the woes that besiege our nation includes the following: Repeal, don’t reform, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, subsidies, grants, and every other coercive welfare-state transfer program. Abolish every single welfare-state, central-planning department and agency, including the Federal Reserve. Abolish the income tax and the IRS. Legalize all drugs. Dismantle America’s military empire, bring all the troops home from everywhere and discharge them, and dismantle the military-industrial complex.

Are Tea Party members calling for these solutions? Or are them simply calling for “reducing the size of government” by cutting taxes and spending or, even worse, simply getting rid of the “waste, fraud, and abuse” in government programs?

Will Tea Party members remain mired within the statist box and devote themselves to reforming and improving it, or will they instead recognize that the only solution to the woes that besiege our nation lies with libertarianism?

I think that the jury is still out on these questions. Let’s hope the Tea Party breaks through the statist scam and joins up with us libertarians to restore liberty to our land.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Libertarianism and the Tea Party

Will Tea Party wins in congressional elections make any difference at all?

Nope. Federal spending and debt will continue to soar, and the prospect of inflation and even federal bankruptcy will continue to loom on the horizon.

While Tea Party members are genuinely concerned about out-of-control federal spending and debt, they are still a long way from recognizing that the only solution to the woes that besiege our country lies with libertarian principles. This is manifested in the following ways:

1. Tea Party members rarely, if ever, talk about the importance of restoring freedom to our land. The reason for this is that their minds are still trapped within the statist box in which both Republicans and Democrats operate. It is a box in which Americans live under socialist, interventionist, and imperialist policies but which Americans are convinced is “freedom.” Proudly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance whenever they get a chance, Tea Party members cannot yet conceive of the possibility that America’s socialist, interventionist, and imperialist programs violate the principles of a genuinely free society.

2. Tea Party members rarely, if ever, ask the following two questions: What is the meaning of freedom? What is the role of government in a free society? They remain convinced that socialist, interventionist, and imperialist programs are freedom, so long as they’re being run by U.S. bureaucrats. They remain convinced that a legitimate role of government is to take care of people and regulate and control them and serve as a policeman for the world.

3. Tea Party members rarely, if ever, talk about the importance of moral principles.

Thus, they see nothing wrong with using the government to take money from people to whom it belongs to give it to other people. That’s why they don’t question the moral legitimacy of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other socialistic programs.

They also see nothing wrong with government’s punishing people for engaging in purely peaceful behavior. That’s why they continue to support the drug war.

They see nothing wrong with invasions, occupations, coups, assassinations, torture, and rendition as a way to bring freedom and democracy to foreigners.

And they’re willing to continue sacrificing civil liberties at home as a worthy price to maintain an empire abroad.

4. Tea Party members are still convinced that the welfare-warfare state can be made to work. Like conservatives and liberals, they couch their solutions in terms of reforming rather than repealing welfare-state programs. And they continue to favor the continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the perpetual war on terrorism that foreign interventionism has produced.

5. While Tea Party members are starting to recognize the importance of sound money to a society, many of them are still not openly calling for the end of the Federal Reserve and for a free-market monetary system or even a restoration of the gold standard.

Until Tea Party members break free of the statist mindset, they will forever remain committed to empty Republican mantras, such as getting rid of the waste, fraud, and abuse in government programs.

On the other hand, if Tea Party members can succeed in breaking free of the statist morass that clouds their minds, they could yet be the catalyst for spreading the libertarian revolution across the land.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.