Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vladamir Putin: The New Grinch?

Ok, ok.. I know I’m really late on this one… It’s an old story, but a friend of mine just passed it along to me today….

Putin's Arctic invasion: Russia lays claim to the North Pole - and all its gas, oil, and diamonds

Gas, oil, and diamonds? Yeah right.. We all know what they are REALLY after…

Santa’s Workshop.

Romney: Wannabe Emporer and Health-Care Commissar

Mitt Romney wants to be Emporer of the World, and insists that if he’s awarded that position, the Empire will never collapse.

Mitt Romney: I won't let US go the way of UK

The United States is in danger of becoming a "second-tier" nation like Britain and other European countries if Hillary Clinton wins the White House, according to Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential contender.
The assumption here is that Democrats, in general, are "appeasers", and their willingness to "cut and run" will spell the end of American military prestige. Foreigners will no longer fear us, and will be encouraged to attack us. As we cower away from our enemies, and our ability to project strength and domination of these foreigners dwindles, then our empire will crumble. America, instead of becoming a thousand year Reich, will become just another addition to history’s heap of failed empires.

Of course, this is just pure B.S. First of all, Hillary is just as bloodthirsty as any Republican. That Democrats and other "progressives" who are anti-war – or at least anti-Bush - can seriously entertain thoughts of support for her is laughable. And second, Romney has it all exactly backwards: Britain and Europe have become "second-tier" nations because of their historical tendencies of militarism and empire.

In short: The pursuit of Empire is what will destroy America, not steering away from it. Romney needs to bone up on his history.

America's health system should remain privately rather than government run, he insisted. "I do not want to go the way of England and Canada when it comes to healthcare," he said.

The irony here is that Massachusetts, under Romney, enacted one of the most expansive government intrusions into health care to date. The fact that he’s blasting Hillary on this issue, attempting to dredge up recollections of her absurd attempt to bring socialized medicine to the US, is just laughable. But what’s his solution? He has an equally rediculous idea about health care, and his assertion that health care should remain in the private sector is just flat out contradictory to his record.

And for those of you who wonder just why Romney Care will be a disaster, here is a Cato Institute analysis of the issue.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yearning to Carnival

I have to say that I really enjoy blogging. Being able to weigh in on the events of the day, commenting over in my own little section of cyberspace is really fun for me. I come into contact with a variety of people who both agree and disagree with what I have to say, and the ensuing exchanges are always stimulating.

On the side of this blog, I try to keep a list of blogs I will visit on a regular basis, whose creators I find have something interesting to say. As you can see, not all of them fall squarely in the "libertarian" camp. But whether I agree with them or not, I think they are all decent writers and deserve to be read, if for no other reason that to stay informed on what various sectors of political universe are thinking and talking about.

So with that in mind, I’d like to take a quick run through my "blog log", and present some recent goodies offered by the people on my list over the past few weeks.

Against the State discusses the anti-military sentiment behind the war party’s view that we can’t leave Iraq, because it would be "dishonorable".

Rex Bell, of The Bell Curve , discusses how government "compromise" is usually a code word for exactly far to bend the taxpayers over the barrel.

Captain Capitalism, truly one of my favorite bloggers for his uncanny ability ability to find the most telling economics charts, graphs, and statistics, points out that more money doesn’t mean better education, and that the subprime mortgage market was a bubble just begging to burst.

The inestimable Sheldon Richman, whose blog Free Association often serves for a clearinghouse for the articles he writes for a whole slew of other publications, discusses America’s anti-militarist tradition.

Evan over at The Future Uncertain says we can fly global warming to the moon.

The Greater Cincinnati Libertarian has been really working against the proposed "jail tax" down there. The latest post is an article from Michael Earl Patton, the Libertarian Party Candidate for Cincinnati City Council. Patton’s website can also be found here.

Karen DeCoster, a CPA, discusses how ridiculous Sarbanes-Oxley and its corresponding bureaucracy is.

Mark Rutherford, the former Chairman of the Indiana Libertarian Party, keeps a blog documenting all of of the electioneering activities of libertarians occurring in that state.

No Third Solution points out Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards’ comments on drug advertising and health care decisions is way off base.

Joseph, a contributor to the blog Plunderbund , stands up to defend Governor Ted Strickland from charges of being a "tax and spend liberal".

One of my favorite conservative opposition blogs, Right On!, discusses how counterproductive it is to mindlessly vote a single party line.

And finally, The Radical Libertarian hosts his own "Carnival", this one compiling a list of postings from other blogger of the Market Anarchist variety.

So, there you have it, folks. A quick tour of some of the other blogs on my list. Check them out and enjoy. They are worthwhile blogs to read, and I would encourage you to visit them often and see what they are saying. Also, if there some newer that you think I should be paying attention to, or include on my blog roll (including yours!), feel free to leave a comment and let me know.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Oil Shooting Through the Roof


Oil briefly tops $93, hits highest ever

Of course, this doesn’t spell good news for gas prices. And I wonder how long it will be before we start hearing calls from the economically ignorant for the government to look into possible corporate malfeasance.

Last year, I remember have a rather pointed debate with a Conservative friend of mine about the issue of price gouging, and such. He was firmly convinced that the nominally record-setting profits earned by Exxon-Mobil (even though the company’s profit margins and other financial ratios were exactly in line with historical levels) was proof positive that the evil gas companies were conspiring to harm the public. For him, the fact that the price of a barrel of oil increased only X percent, while gas prices went up by a factor much larger than X, was clear indication that the oil companies were holding back on production to get higher, monopoly profits. His solution was to get the government involved.

I tried explaining to him that oil is just one of the inputs into the process of fuel refinery. Other are, for example, capital, labor. The availability of these other inputs can also affect the final pump price of a gallon of gas. For example, the price of a barrel of oil could drop to $1, does that mean that gas will be almost free? Of course not, because if you don’t have the means to convert that cheap oil into equally cheap gas, then the final product – gas – will be rather scarce, and in short supply. The price, inevitably, will be bid up by consumers.

So now we have oil prices going through the roof, and I’m sure gas prices will do the same. I bet you I can set my alarm clock to go off at the exact moment the first cries of "price gouging" and such will be heard.

Oh..and one other thing. Historically, Exxon-Mobil’s "net profit"would hover around 10%. This was just as true last year, during the "record setting" quarter, as it was in previous, less nominally profitable years. Currently, their net profit margin stands at 10.74% Will anyone notice that? I doubt it.

Giuliani Invents the Internet

Well, it would seem that Rudy Giuliani isn’t a walking Tarot Card. His claims of being able to see into the future at the threat symbolized by Al Queda are just pure bunk.

MSNBC: Leaked memos show Giuliani's ignorance of terrorism before 9/11

Excepting Ron Paul, the entire field of GOP Presidential Wannabes is falling all over themselves to demonstrate who is going to be more bloodthirsty in the quest for vengence against the enemies of American Empire. Giuliani is certainly no exception, and his shameless exploitation of the events of 9/11, defies the senses. Granted, his mayorship at the time does put him in a unique position to pander, pander, pander. But claiming that only he saw the dangers of Islamic terrorism is as patently absurd as Al Gore’s claim that he invented the internet.

Education vs. Training

Gordon Gekko of the Taxman blog recently posted an article about a recent college graduate’s frustration at lack of employment opportunities, and his equally resentful reply

As I read this point-counterpoint, it really drove home to me the observation that we really don’t have an education system today. Rather, what we have is a schooling system designed to be more about training.

What’s the difference you ask?

Well, imagine you had a daughter. Would you prefer that she receive sex education, or sex training?

Of course, the system of government-run education has always been about molding otherwise freethinking, independent children into compliant, dumbed-down producers and consumers in an industrial society. It has never been about creating a critical, reflective, enlightened society. Fundamentally, we go to school to learn a trade, not to think with any depth or creativity. I can certainly understand the frustration of the student, as well as the resentment of Gordon Gekko. I think Gekko perceives this difference a little more than our young friend.

But I think we need to call a spade, a spade, here. Let’s quit referring to socialized schooling as "education". If you want more education, let’s separate school and state, and let the market provide more alternatives and varieties of schooling methods, and watch as they blossom in more efficient manner.

Blame the Victim, Says A Christian Conservative

Here's a lovely story about the actions of our beloved airport security Nazis.

I have an acquaintance who is devout in his mindless support of All Things Republican, and will not hesitate to defend any and all government policies in general, and of the Bush regime in particular. Lately, he’s taken up the delusion that Bush should be loved by all because "he’s kept us safe from terrorists" – his evidence being that no more terrorist attacks have taken place on U.S soil since 9/11, and there have been a few alleged "plots" (that, ironically, cannot be revealed) that have been broken up. Of course, the fact that the current Iraq war – and the threat ofa new war with Iran – is engendering more and more hatred of America worldwide, destroying our moral credibility, and boosting recruitment for terrorist organizations are inconvenient facts to be overlooked because they don't fit with the dogma. But hey, who needs empirical reality, right?

Overall, my friend – while claiming to be conservative – really embraces the idea that government is the master and individual citizens are the servants whose duty it is to submit and be compliant like good little sheep. Ordinary citizens need to sit down, shut up, and do what they are told. Government is the boss!

When he saw this story, not surprisingly, he had no problem with the reaction of the TSA agent. His reaction was it was the fault of the airline passenger for objecting to the destruction of his property. He doesn’t recognize that that TSA agent had any responsibility to – at the very least – be apologetic and helpful, to provide a little customer service, in this case. Its all about authority and domination. I broke your laptop? Tough shit! Get out of my face or I’ll toss you in a jail cell!

I asked my friend if a customer of his came into his workplace, and he accidentally broke the guy's laptop, what his reaction would be. Would he be able to get away with telling the guy to take a hike? Or would he fall all over himself trying to apologize and help make restitution for having an accident? We all know the answer to that. But it is completely outside the imagination of my State-Worshipping friend to consider that government should not act abusively to people. In fact, its just the opposite. Government abuse should be expected and tolerated.

This is the masochistic face of modern day Christian conservative Republicans, my friends. They are scary people, indeed!

Terminally Ill SiCKO Released in UK

Earlier this year, Michael Moore released a new "documentary" called SiCKO, an expose on the modern health care industry/propaganda piece for socialized medicine. I’ve not actually seen the film, but have heard numerous critiques, commentaries, and debates about the film. From most of these, I gather that, while Moore has some legitimate complaints about the current system, he fundamentally misdiagnoses the problem, and his prescription for what needs to be done is off base. What’s an even worse, critics charge the film is intentional in it’s misrepresentation of the facts, and Moore’s credibility falls squarely into the "propagandist" category. Just as his film Bowling for Columbine was rife with distortions, half-truths, and contextual misrepresentations, it would seem that SiCKO is tragically following this path. Either Moore is an incredibly sloppy filmmaker, or he a biased ideologue dishonestly masquerading as an impartial observer. In either case, we can only hope that enough people see through this to prevent Moore’s ideas from getting implemented.

Now, the film has been released in the UK, where many of the scenes from the film were filmed. While Moore wishes to gloriously hail the European model of health care, there are people there who wonder what sort of hallucinagenics Moore was consuming when he analyzed the British system.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Recruiters Lying to Prospective Enlistees? You're Kidding Me!

(Hat tip to Lawrence Vance, and his AMAZING article this morning on Lew on seven reasons why no one should join the military.)

Army Recruiters Accused of Misleading Students to Get Them to Enlist

So here we have a story about recruiters lying to prospective recruits to get them to enlist. Is anyone surprised by this story? I’m not.

I’ve known a handful of people who have served in the military over the years. Some were friends from high school, others people I have met since. And almost to a person, I’ve heard the same thing. What the recruiter told them turned out to be just pure bunk. A guy in my office is retired from the Air Force. He has a family friend that recently joined the National Guard, only after being told that they don’t send the National Guard to Iraq. The husband of an old friend of mine enlisted in the Air Force a number of years back. He was promised by his recruiter that he could go into the medical field as a physical therapist. Many others I knew were promised all sorts of things that later turned out to be pie-in-the-sky.

What we need to recognize is that the recruiter is essentially a sales person. He is going to do and say anything he can to make the sale. Normally, this would be a dispicable practice that, if it were done by a private sector business, would be grounds for a lawsuit, if not crinimal charges for fraud. But this is the government, you see. Fraud is part and parcel of how it operates. There is no accountability when the State’s priorities are at risk.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tax Protest This Saturday!

From the inbox.... -LJ


MARION, OH - All Ohioans are invited to participate in an anti-tax rally in Marion, Ohio on Saturday, October 27. This event is being billed across the state by a group called Ohio Citizens Opposed to Unconstitutional Taxation Without Representation as a modern-day Boston Tea Party to protest rising tax burdens.

Activists are invited to show up at 2 pm at the Marion County Building (click here for a map). Please bring a sign, sandwich board, chicken suit, or other tasteful and creative way to demonstrate your displeasure with burdensome taxation. In keeping with the organizers intent, please do not protest the war in Iraq, promote conspiracy theories, or opine on national issues.

No further information is available.

Carnival of Ohio Politics #88

The Carnival of Ohio Politics #88 has been posted.

The Carnival is a summarization of blog postings by a variety of writers in Ohio, talking about the issues of the day. They are liberal, conservative, independent, and even libertarian. Check it out and see what's happening in the Ohio Blogosphere.

Bloodsucking Parasites, Part II: Mechanics, the Military, and Big Pharma

My recent article about whether or not becoming a tax preparer is a contradiction to libertarian ethics has sparked a number of comments from other friends and acquaintances. Some saw my point, but still raised a few but-what-abouts. Some accused me of engaging in self-justification. Of course, these types will grab at anything in the search for apparent contradictions and hypocrisies…without ever noticing that they never hold the State to the same moral and ethical standard as they demand from a market-based, individualist creed. But I digress. Let me highlight a few of the ensuing conversations.

My point that the presence of the State, and its massively distortionary effect on the natural economy, often went ignored. As Murray Rothbard once pointed out, our world is essentially a State-created "matrix". Nothing short of living a hermitic, ascetic lifestyle completely cut off from all society can one cleanse themselves of interaction with the State. In fact, this is exactly what the State wants to affect. It is a parasite that seeks to interfere in all aspects of a person’s life, seeking control and power to manipulate otherwise free and independent people for its own purposes. If there was a way to have society that was free of State interference, the State would need to find a way to interject itself, lest it begin to lose its power base as people turn away from it.

So, virtually nothing we do cannot be traced back to the State and its vile influence in some way, so it’s patently ridiculous to ask for "purity" from any profession. For example, I asked my associate, if the tax preparer is viewed as a contradiction to libertarian ethics, would being a car mechanic be ok? My associate had a confused look on his face for a minute, until I explained the logic. The State holds a monopoly on roads and infrastructure, offering them "for free", which effectively creates a subsidy to car owners. As subsidies encourage the activity being subsidized, so the State is encouraging car ownership. Mechanics make their living off maintaining these cars, and more cars out on the roads, means more demand for car mechanics. The need for a car mechanic is traced back to the State actions. So even the mechanic cannot be said to be completely pure of the State’s economy.

Then the discussion turned to other kinds of employers. For example, defense contractors. Sure, it’s a private sector entity. So would that be an acceptable choice of career? In my view, it would not. One friend of mine, who for a time was employed by a defense contractor that manufactured flight simulators for the air force, indicated to me that she thought it would be an ok to work in this field, even if one is against war. After all, her argument went that national defense is a legitimate government activity, so anything that can be clearly identified as having only defensive applications or, as in the example of flight simulators, a completely neutral application, is likewise legitimate.

My counter to this was to inquire about the moral logic. First, the whole purpose of the military is to kill people. The military has no other purpose. When George W. Bush points his finger at someone and says, "kill that man", the military is the organization created to carry out that murderous intent. Of course, "defending liberty" is the moral argument used to gloss over and self-justify such evil, and for most people, it works like a charm. But we must recognize, first and foremost, that every person who works in the military is trained to do one thing: kill.

Secondly, the empirical fact of the matter is the U.S. government has almost never engaged in a war that was strictly defensive in nature, and this is infinitely true of the state of the matter today. America is no longer a federalist republic, but instead a vast, worldwide empire that reserves the right to use its might anywhere, anytime, for any reason. We bomb countries for the slightest of excuses. We embargo and starve people in countries that we do not like. We prop up repressive dictatorships because it suits the desires of politically connected interest groups. In short, there is nothing "defensive" about the use of our military might.

Third, even if we could find some aspect of the military that was only being used to defend American borders, I fail to see how shoring up the War Machine’s flanks can be justified. By making our defenses that much stronger, aren’t we then enabling the politicians to feel that much more secure in their position to wage more war and breed more conflict? As long as we are engaged in a program of empire building and the projection of offensive military might, then any contribution to that effort is enabling its promotion.

So, this same critic then questioned whether being a salesman for a pharmaceutical company would be acceptable. Ironically, while she had no qualms about taking a job in an industry whose sole purpose is death and destruction, it was just unthinkable to go work for a drug company. In her view, the drug companies profit from the sickness of others, raise drug prices to be unaffordable, and then let people who can’t pay, die. Well, I’m sure economically informed readers will immediately recognize the absurdity in that position.

First, to hold that position, a person must have to think that a drug company has incentive to see people die. I mean, just saying that out loud should be enough to demonstrate how absurd the assertion really is. Drug companies, like any other market-based entity, can only "get rich" by meeting the needs of its customers. This means that its incentives to achieve prosperity lie in making as many sales as it can, to as many people as it can. If there is a need, they have every incentive to produce the necessary drugs under the best, most affordable conditions possible, to satisfy that need.

But what about the high costs of healthcare, and astronomical drug prices, and so on and so forth? Well, as I mentioned above, we can trace that back to the State. Through the FDA, and other various federal bureaucracies, the drug industry has become, and continues to become, increasingly cartelized. By restricting the marketplace, restricting competition, and making it more difficult to innovate – in short, by hampering all the natural incentives that exist in a free market – the State is to blame. Mary Ruwart once wrote a short article discussing the impact of the 1962 Kefauver-Harris Amendments, and how they served to constrict the ability for needed, life-saving drugs to be offered to patients.

So, aren’t the drug companies victims here? Should we cry tears over how unjust Big Pharma is being treated at the hands of evil politicians? Of course not. A candid look at the history of business regulation shows that it is often big business itself that supports expanding the State apparatus. Why? A restriction of competition helps to protect profits, and guarantee the incomes of the elite. In fact, much of the recent push to ban smoking in public places has found the hand of the drug companies behind it all. These companies stand to make billions of dollars on the sale of "the patch" and other smoking-aids, as more people have to alter their method of nicotine intake.

(Now that I think about, maybe they ARE evil. Ha.)

In all seriousness, the bottom line here is that private firms that exist to harness resources to peacefully meet society’s needs in a voluntary manner are not evil, no matter what reservations one may have about how markets work, or what line of work the company may engage in. Chances are, if you don’t like the dynamics of what you see, you can probably trace that back to government interference in the marketplace. If one is pro-liberty and anti-State, it is a red herring to think that one can maneuver through life completely sanitized of State influence, and engaging critics who insist that such consistency of ethics is a requirement is a losing battle. The State is big and powerful and perpetuates itself through violence. Its sole purpose is to atomize people and demolish true society among free individuals, and it has largely been successful in that. We can be anti-State and recognize this fact, and even complain about it, without having to feel any remorse or contradiction in our views. We can point out that there is a difference in reacting to the violence, and engaging in its perpetuation. That, to me, is the dividing line from becoming an evil, blood-sucking parasite.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gee, What A Swell Guy!

Bush offers to bomb Kurds

Turkish Leader: I wanna kill me some Kurds!

Bush: Please, allow me!

Turkish Leader: Oh, I couldn’t ask you to do that.

Bush: No, it would be my pleasure.

Turkish Leader: You’re too kind!

Bush: Hey, what are friends for?

The State vs. Nature

Last week, I mentioned I had a short conversation with a friend on whether the free market could protect the environment, promote conservation, etc. Now, with "fire season" raging out west, it seems appropriate that Lew Rockwell writes an article highlighting just exactly how ineffective government is in managing nature.

Next we come to the government's response, which amounts to "run for your life, or we arrest you." They say that evacuations are the best way to protect people. But this defies good sense because you are essentially abandoning everything you have worked hard to build so that nature can take its course. You just know that crazed environmentalists secretly love this approach, and think: "that's what you get for building those stinkin' houses in places where animals and plants should rule."

Next we turn to the government's glorious fire fighting units. As with all government bureaucracies, they resist new technology. They don't plan for and assess risks. They run around spraying water and chemicals on everything regardless of effectiveness or cost. But meanwhile, they
crowd out private fire control efforts. They tell us to flee and then put an antique government bureaucracy in charge and expect us to be happy about it. Finally, when the disaster ends, the federal government dumps billions in aid as a way of placating us. This is an insane approach, or, rather, it is only a sane approach if the goal is to see civilization wiped out and meanwhile expand the state.

Oh: there is one more action that government takes: officials express profound sadness and regret that it is all happening. And we all just sit back and say, well, heck, I guess there is nothing that can be done about it.

Ridiculous! Are we under the impression that private markets can't handle risk management? Private markets specialize in protection of property, particularly against natural risks. If the land were privately owned, it would be protected against burning through better management. If it had to be burned, the burning would be controlled. Unexpected events like droughts and winds would be calculated into management decisions.

What's more, there would be serious liability issues. Any owner of property who let fires rage would be directly responsible for imposing fires on others. This is the way markets work. If my bathtub overflows, floods my house, and then the waters flood my neighbor's house, I am responsible via my insurance policy. So, yes, there would be a price to pay for fires on your land that harm others' property.

Remember, it all comes down to incentives. Private property owners have an incentive to protect and preserve their property, and reducing their liability for harming the property of others. In such a system, nature is preserved by interested property owners. Under State management, where politicians and bureaucrats are never held responsible for mismanagement – or at the very least, have no incentive to be proactive – nature is vulnerable to destruction.

And what exactly is the goal of environmentalism?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Are Tax Preparers Evil Blood-Sucking Parasites?

Recently, I decided to take an income tax preparation class, with the goal that if I make it through, I may land a part-time gig with a tax preparation service in the spring doing returns for people. As thoroughly anti-tax as I am – indeed, all taxation is theft, and the income tax is the most immoral form of taxation there is – I have been challenged by some acquaintances to explain this seemingly blatant contradiction in my moral standard. By seeking to be employed as a tax preparer, am I not then seeking to benefit from the system that I so despise? Am I not earning "blood money"?

I admit, it is a very good question, and worthy of a response. In short, my answer is…well, yes, and no. Let me explain.

I agree - a job called "income tax preparer" should never exist. The income tax is a profoundly immoral form of revenue generation for the State. People who get up in the morning and go to work, applying their mental and physical skills to produce things they need to survive – food, shelter, clothing, healthcare – must first pay-off the politicians in order to get the privelege of earning the wealth needed to acquire life necessities. It is the politician who asserts the primary claim over the fruits of a person’s labor….not the person themselves. Workers only get whatever crumbs are leftover after the politician has "withheld" his toll. How insulting.

As bad as this system is, with the State plundering the wages and salaries of hard-working, peaceful people, I think that studying the system in order to help people process their paperwork is, while regrettable, not entirely dishonorable. The tax preparer exists to help people who otherwise cannot make sense out of what the theiving politicians are extorting. A tax-preparer is helping a person to minimize his theft and, at the very least, keep them out of jail.

As an analogy, consider the case of defense lawyers. The fact is, there are many stupid laws on the books. And while we can agree that they are stupid, shouldn’t be enforced, and should be repealed, the fact is, they are on the books, and all too often enforced. So do we say that a person taking up a profession as a defense lawyer is dishonorable? I don’t think so, because we must compare it to the alternative: one where the State’s victims are totally defenseless to its predations. So, while a tax preparer does make money off of an immoral system and, it can be argued, has a interest in seeing the system perpetuated, his role is fundamentally that of ally to the taxpayer, created as a reaction to the implementation of a revolting tax regime. He helps the taxpayer to defend himself against the State.

Now, in my view, what is absolutely unjustifiable, would be to take a job working for the IRS as a tax collector. In a role like that, a person’s sole function is to be the violator of a basic, natural human right. Every individual has the unconditional right to continue his existence. In a developed economy, this is done through the division of labor, specialization, and trade. A person who works for the IRS is a violator of this. The IRS agent tells a person, "before you may acquire the resources you need to feed yourself and your family, you must let me take out my portion. If you do not, we will throw you in jail, and you will not be allowed to earn." The tax-evader is, in essence, an economic criminal – a classification that was very prominent in Communist Russia.

So there you have it. While the existence of a profession called "tax preparer" is regrettable, it is not fundamentally evil. The State, through all its actions, distorts the natural economy in a myriad of ways, big and small, that it is virtually impossible to find some way that any activity isn’t impacted to some degree or another. At the very least, the money I earn will better enable me to prosper and donate time and resources to causes that seek to repeal the income tax, and create a freer, more just, more moral world.

Dayton, Ohio: Top 10 Worst Cities for Jobs

When most of your major employers are government agencies (and government contractors), is it any wonder why your city ranks in the top 10 of cities with the lowest job growth.

This is a particularly sore subject for me because I have trying to make a career change for well over two years now. I have a masters degree in business, as well as a rather lengthy and diverse resume, but cannot seem to get any attention from prospective employers. Its frustrating, to say the least.

Oh well… persistence is the best policy. Something will shake loose soon, I’m sure.

Are Libertarians Part of the "Right Wing"?

So often, I hear some Conservatives tell me that "libertarians are part of the political right". Personally, I find that hard to believe because, when I look at the positions advocated by self-described conservatives, I cannot for the life of me see the principles which would unite us. Conservativism is truly alien to me. (Modern liberalism is just as alien to me, as well, to be clear.)

So it was interesting to read this article today by Steve Greenhut, who attended the recent Conservative Leadership Conference. He noted the distinct difference in the rhetoric of certain speakers. It became pretty clear that conservatives and libertarians are interested in completely different things. Says Greenhut:

Conservatives and libertarians are marching to different drummers, going on different paths going in opposite directions. The libertarians still are committed to "less government interference" and "less centralized authority," but conservatives these days are more interested in building an all-powerful central government to wage war on real and perceived enemies at home and abroad. Conservatives use the word "freedom" while they wax poetic about American military might. But the policies they promote show no sign of trusting individual Americans to live their lives as they please and every sign of trusting the government to do what is best. During the Cold War, an inspiring leader such as Reagan was able to keep internal peace, as both factions battled their mutual enemies: the Soviet empire and tax-and-spend Democrats. The former is gone, and the latter is still with us, but many libertarians have come to realize that they are as far apart from their conservative "allies" on the big issues of the day as they are from their liberal adversaries.
It has long been my position that Conservatives are anti-libertarian. Freedom is simply a rhetorical tool to advance and increase the power of the State. At their core, they care nothing for individual freedom, but wish to bask in some vague sense of collective power. Judging by Greenhut's report, that assertion is generally true.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Torture is Morally Acceptable!

...says the Bush regime, and its supporters. Destroying the soul of another human is perfectly ok, according to our Republican friends.

US defends its harsh treatment of an American citizen

US officials did not violate any clearly established constitutional rights when they held a US citizen in isolated military detention without charge for nearly four years and subjected him to harsh interrogation techniques.
Mental-health experts who have examined Padilla say the experience has left him with severe mental disabilities, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Today's conservatives don't believe in the traditions of western jurisprudence that have evolved over the past 800 years. Our President, and his ideological allies, wish to free the Chief Executive from all restraints - Constitutional, ethical, and moral - so that he is free to kill, torture, maim, bomb, shoot, hang, gas, nuke, strangle, rape, brutalize, and engage in any other form of violence that he wishes against anyone he so chooses.

God Bless the Fuhrer!

Columbus Dispatch Recognizes the Existence of Ron Paul's Candidacy

Read it here:

Fed-up voters rally to Ron Paul

"Everyone -- the staffers in the other campaigns, the bigwig political observers in the state -- is scratching their heads. They don't know what to make of this Ron Paul phenomenon," pollster Smith says. A University of New Hampshire poll last month showed Paul at 4 percent in the state. The most recent Washington Post-ABC News national poll, also from last month, had him at 3 percent.

"The other campaigns aren't worried that he'd win the primary. They just don't know who his supporters are and whose support he's taking away," Smith adds. "His poll numbers aren't high now, but it's only October. And they could see him getting 10 percent of the vote here. If you get 10 percent of the vote in a crowded field, well, you might finish third." But the Paulites are aiming for higher.

Nothing new in the article that most Paul supporters don't already know, but its nice to see he's breaking into some of the larger news outlets in Ohio.

Oh.. and the article at the end forgets to include the link to Paul's website. Here it is.

The Free Market and the Family

I recently read a fabulous article in a recent issue of The Freeman, the monthly journal published by The Foundation for Economic Education , called Capitalism and the Family, by Steven Horowitz. I found it particularly stimulating because it dispels many myths widely believed by people on both the right and the left about the issues surrounding family values, child labor, the women’s movement, the market process and so forth.

For example, many on the left believe that, were it not for benevolent, enlightened and altruistic politicians, “free market capitalism” would lead to a “race to the bottom” were old people and orphans would be living in cardboard boxes, making slave wages in sweatshops. Legislation, it would seem, was needed in order to protect children from being exploited, and helping them to get a proper education and thus, a more humane range of choices as adults.

Many on the right think that the rise of feminism has lead to a collapse of traditional family structures, and traditional values with it. They (rhetorically) support free market capitalism and limited government, but see no connection to economic progress and an increased range of choices for women, let alone a general impact on societal normas and customs. Feminism, for them, is some sort of nihilistic, knee-jerk, left-wing social rebellion that upsets the natural order of things.

This article shows is that both sides have it wrong. For the left, industrialization lead to a situation where families could remove their children from the burdens of work, not the other way around. Prior to the industrial age, the entire family would have to go out and bust their humps on the farm, scrounging to produce enough to sustain themselves, let alone prosper. Industrialization didn’t change that requirement at first. But, as is the empirical nature of the free market, the eventual increase in productivity from the division of labor and capital formation reduced the need for families to use their children (and eventually the women) in the production process. It was the market process that freed children laborers, not benevolent politicians.

For the right, the women’s movement was a natural outgrowth of capitalistic progress. Historically, marriages were principally for economic or political purposes. At lower levels of economic development, families sought to arrange marriages in order to preserve or increase their political and economic status. But with industrialization and the development of the market economy – and the subsequent explosion in the wealth of society – the economic impetus for marriage diminished. Marriage then became more of the romantic ideal we see today – the satisfaction of emotional needs. The fact that women (and men) are now in a position to be able to pursue independent lives, the economic incentives to stay in an otherwise unfulfilling marriage are less important. Capitalism, it would seem, undermines the "traditional" family. (My personal argument would be that it actually strengthens the family, as the increased liklihood that your partner can leave you makes it more important for a person to develop those healthy virtues that are needed to attract and keep a prospective mate.)

I made copies of the articles and passed along to two friends – one very liberal, one devoutly conservative – and I am waiting to see what their reactions are. My hope is that my leftwing friend begins to see free market capitalism in a more favorable light, while my rightwing friend begins to relax his otherwise stodgy, reactionary social views. My gut tells me that my leftwing friend will be more open to being persuaded, while my rightwing friend will make excuses, qualifications, and possibly call the article “malcontent propaganda”. I think this because I have found that while both of them are hostile to free market ideas, my leftwing friend is open and honest about his objections and his values, while my rightwing friend insists that his version of Statism is really free-market capitalism, and any suggestion that he really is a socialist is just bunk. So, I expect either he’ll re-evaulate his views of the market process, or he’ll take a harder line against the market.

My conclusion from this article - the market truly is the source of human civilization, and the unfettered market is the only way for true, enlightened progress. As we develop economically, the concern over raw materialistic needs for survival give way, and allow for human kind to turn its attention toward developing his spiritual side. Just as we no longer spend our every waking thought on whether we'll have enough food to get us through the winter, we are able to spend time reflecting on more deeper values like justice, morality, ethics, and the like. We are able to spend time developing our personal selves to become better people, more humane and virtuous.

Read the article for yourself. Tell me what you think.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Immortal Words from Bastiat

I was just (re)organizing my book shelf, and I came across my copy of The Law, by Frederic Bastiat. This was one of the first classic liberal tracts that I ever read, and was instrumental in getting me on the road to becoming a full-fledged libertarian. As I skimmed though it, rereading certain sections, I came across this quote that, in my view, reflects much of what I encounter every time I converse with a Statist:

“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

"We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

–Frederic Bastiat, The Law

Wonderful stuff!

Atlas!PAC Looking to Help Train Libertarian Activists

From my inbox:

Atlas!PAC is looking for 10 libertarians from across the nation to send to the annual Campaign & Elections seminar The Art of Political Campaigning, June 12 - 14, 2008 at the Washington Marriott in Washington, DC. Libertarians selected to attend will be those with good qualifications and a proven desire to work to get libertarians elected to political office. Registration and hotel will be paid by Atlas!PAC. There may be available a stipend to cover some or all of transportation costs to Washington, D.C. Contact me through Facebook or at

Send a resume and letter of interest to me - email is preferred. We are looking to train libertarians on how to run campaigns and get libertarians elected, so the resume and letter of interest should be tailored to fit this. Prior political experience with supporting libertarian candidates is a plus, but not necessary. Prior experience and activity with libertarian organizations is a plus, but again is not necessary.

The ideal candidate will be one in which Atlas!PAC believes will go back to their hometowns and support libertarian campaigns, as well as teach other libertarians about successful methods for winning elections.

I expect we will be making decisions on the scholarships by late November. Atlas!PAC is national in scope, so geographic considerations will come into play (we are unlikely to send 10 people from Indiana even if they are the 10 best candidates for scholarships, for example).

The seminar is June 12 - 14 and is exceptional - some of the best in the business are instructors.”


Very truly yours,
Mark W. Rutherford

Friday, October 19, 2007

Campaign Donations From the War Industry

Here’s an interesting juxtaposition of articles:

Clinton bucks the trend and rakes in cash from the US weapons industry

Paul leads in donations from military voters, with Obama next

Bloodthirsty Warmonger Hillary Clinton gets tons of money from that sector which stands to profit from the drive to kill dark-skinned non-Christians….while the anti-war, pro-free market, pro-Constitution, pro-limited-government candidate, Ron Paul leads the pack in donations from people whose job it is to actually go out and kill or be killed. It seems that the cannon fodder is starting to wake up and smell the coffee.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dems: Weak on Civil Rights

I remember reading an article a while back how the Dems were giving Bush authority for his secret wiretapping schemes. In response to the initial attempt at a power grab by Bush, a backlash was created that lead many people to vote the Republicans out of power in the Congress and Senate. Many people thought getting the Dems in there would change things.

They thought wrong, I guess.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lakewood, Ohio Libertarian Candidate to Address Public, Get Media Exposure

From my inbox:

To All Liberty Minded People,

Just to let you know what is happening with my campaign for Lakewood City Council, today I did an interview with The Sun News with my opponent Kevin Butler. It should be appearing in the newspaper in the coming weeks. I will also be on thier online voter guide, once my information has been submitted.

On Friday October 19th I will be at the Lakewood Camber of Commerce October Election Luncheon. It runs from 11:30am to no later than 1:15pm. If anyone would like to attend please email me. The lunch is $20 and I will need to put you on the reservation by Monday the 15th.

On Thursday October 25th beginning at 7:00pm I will be appearing at the Lakewood City Hall auditorium for a Candidates Night. It is open to the public and questions will be taken from the audience.

-Paul Conroy

Additional information on Conroy's campaign can be found at:

More Immigration Nonsense

When you embrace the principle that the State has the proper moral authority to decide where peaceful individuals may live and work, is it any surprise that you get such stories as this?

Immigrant's family detained after daughter speaks out

Whether or not there was some evil conspiracy afoot by this truly evil bureaucracy (yeah, I said it, so what?), the timing on this arrest is awfully suspicious. But my real question for the Anti-Immigrant crowd is simply this: what exactly is the crime being committed here? Have they violated someone’s rights or property? Have they harmed another person in anyway? What is it about these people that makes them dangerous enough to unleash the dogs of war on them?

The only answers the Anti-Immigrant crowd will be able to generate are vague and incoherent collectivist slogans about "we the people" and the "sanctity of the law", while they overlook basic moral tenets and the principles of individual liberty and human rights. For them, the decrees issued by some group of politicians trump any notions of morality and justice.

A One-Two Punch to Statism

A couple excellent articles on Lew today. I’m sensing a theme here.

First, Anthony Gregory examines whether libertarians "worship" the free market, counters that it is the Statist alternative which is hypocritical and, in principle, barbaric.

The socialists used to believe markets could not produce wealth for the masses, feed and clothe them. Now they have mostly abandoned that argument and focused on the inequalities and obscenities of mass production. They even belittle those of us who defend the market as being beholden to materialism, commercialism, and mere things as opposed to people. Yet at the core of all their demands for a thousand new government programs is a demand for material goods. Those who chant that health care is a human right are really talking about bottles of antibiotics, surgical tools, hospitals and beds for the infirmed. Those who demand more money for schools are similarly talking about books, chalkboards and other physical goods. They are just as materialistic as we are. They see dollar signs on everything too. For them, all of social life also revolves around commodities. The only difference is how they seek to get goods to those who need them. We see cooperation and voluntary exchange, rather than robbery, as the answer.

Then, Robert Higgs, in a recent speech , labels the State as "the most destructive institution human beings have ever devised." He elaborates:

All governments are, as they must be, oligarchies: only a relatively small number of people have substantial effective discretion to make critical decisions about how the state's power will be brought to bear. Beyond the oligarchy itself and the police and military forces that compose its Praetorian Guard, somewhat larger groups constitute a supporting coalition. These groups provide important financial and other support to the oligarchs and look to them for compensating rewards — legal privileges, subsidies, jobs, exclusive franchises and licenses, transfers of financial income and wealth, goods and services in kind, and other booty — channeled to them at the expense of the mass of the people. Thus, the political class in general — that is, the oligarchs, the Praetorian Guards, and the supporting coalition — uses government power (which means ultimately the police and the armed forces) to exploit everyone outside this class by wielding or threatening to wield violence against all who fail to pay the tribute the oligarchs demand or to obey the rules they dictate.
Good stuff, indeed!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Iraq As the New Korea? Bad Idea!

The other day, I was listening to a podcast from a Cato Institute policy forum about the Iraq war. It was brought up by a couple of the participants that much of the current line is that Korea will serve as the model for the future of American military presence in Iraq. As I heard this, I could not help but think of what one of my favorite foreign policy experts – Doug Bandow – would have to say about this. After all, he did write a book on Korean policy , and would most likely provide some quality analysis of such an idea.

Then, lo and behold, he writes an article on this very topic , and not surprisingly, he is not too enamored with the idea.

It's a profoundly stupid idea, but then, no other administration vision involving Iraq has survived contact with reality. No weapons of mass destruction, no involvement in 9/11, no threat to America. Why did we go to war again?

The celebrated cakewalk was a bust. The famous "dead-enders" turned out to be constructing a highway to sectarian war. Liberated Iraq radiates instability rather than democracy throughout the Mideast.

All along the administration hoped to maintain a permanent military presence in the region. Iraq would cheerfully host American troops and bases, while being managed through the largest embassy in the world. Even more than the vision of Shi'ites, Sunnis, Christians, Turkmen, Kurds, and other Iraqi citizens circling campfires singing Kumbaya, this picture was a fantasy: the U.S. would occupy yet another Muslim land, utilizing a Shi'ite-dominated nation to impose Washington's will on Shi'ite and Sunni alike throughout the Mideast. Heckuva job, Georgie!

He goes on to list specific reasons why Iraq is not even close to being analogous to Korea:
First, why would anyone want to mimic U.S. policy towards Korea? American forces spent three years fighting to a bloody stalemate on the Korean peninsula, followed by another 54 years on station ready for war. There's no end to the U.S. deployment in sight even today, with roughly 29,000 Army and Air Force personnel remaining. Yet South Korea, with the world's 12th largest economy, vastly outdistances the North in virtually every measure of national power. Today the two countries are edging towards an uneasy detente, and many younger South Koreans pronounce America to be a greater threat to peace than is North Korea.

So why is it good that American troops are still there?

Second, how can anyone who knows anything confuse the Republic of Korea and Iraq? Korea really is a nation, an ethnically homogenous people with a history running back thousands of years. The present division of the Korean peninsula is unnatural, in contrast to Iraq, where the unified state is wholly artificial. There are no ethnic or tribal divisions; the rapid rise of Christianity has occasioned some disquiet but no violence. No Koreans feel an allegiance to a neighboring state, as many Shi'ite Iraqis do to Iran; no Koreans desire to break off into a separate country, as do many Kurds.

Third, the role of the U.S. is completely different. The ROK was an allied state during the Cold War which the U.S. saved from outside invasion. Perhaps President Bush has forgotten, but Washington invaded Iraq.

By and large the South Korean people (and many North Koreans, who fled their own nation amidst the shifting battle lines) were grateful for American aid. Although the vast majority of Iraqis were pleased after Washington defenstrated Saddam Hussein, there was little support for rule by either the U.S. or U.S. appointees.

Until recently, most South Koreans wanted U.S. troops to stay; not so in Iraq, where the number who want Americans to stick around for years, decades, forever, are infinitesimal. Moreover, in the ROK those few who opposed the U.S. presence did not bury IEDs along rural roads and snipe along busy streets. No one was killing American soldiers in South Korea, while a majority of Iraqis justify attacks on American forces.

Finally, the purpose of the U.S. occupation of the ROK was, at least until the end of the Cold War, coherent. That is, Washington was protecting the South from renewed North Korean aggression, potentially aided by Maoist China and the Soviet Union. Even if the alliance once made sense, it no longer does so. The original objective belongs to a different world, and the alliance is likely to collapse as its parties pursue separate objectives. The U.S. would like to utilize the Korean peninsula as a base for containing China, a prospect that is anathema to Seoul, while the South wants America to hang out to defend the ROK from potential but highly unlikely threats, allowing Seoul to skimp on military outlays.

Worse, though, is the case of Iraq. It is impossible to concoct a logical role for an American occupation today, let alone 50 years in the future. Ironically, the U.S. made Iraq vulnerable to outside attack by wrecking its government and military. Still, outside aggression really is not an issue. Only Iran poses a potential threat, but Iran has won substantial influence without war. What the Iraqi factions all want is protection from each other. Sectarian advantage, not construction of a liberal, tolerant political order, is their primary objective.
Pointed, insightful analysis ends with equally pointed closing remarks.
In short, the Iraq as Korea strategy is as dumb as all of the other administration plans for Washington's newest client state. It should be evident by now that war supporters have gotten it wrong at every turn in Iraq. They were wrong about the justification for invading, wrong about how the occupation would turn out, wrong about the regional consequences of loosing the dogs of war. They are wrong to compare Iraq to Korea.

Instead of making fantastic plans to turn Iraq into a compliant satellite and permanent host of U.S. military forces, the administration should be planning an expeditious exit. The American and Iraqi people deserve no less.
Amen, Doug!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Nobel Turns Novel

So…Al Gore won the Nobel prize for his documentary on "global warming".

A friend of mine commented to me that, although one may not agree with Gore’s politics (as I do), or agree that global warming is a real problem (I’m skeptical), or agree that Gore’s documentary was even even-handed and objective (which it wasn’t), the good thing about Gore’s film was that it sparked much needed discussion about the environment and climate. This is pretty much the same thing that was said about that doomsday enviro-thriller "The Day After Tomorrow" that came out a few years back. Of course, at least that film never claimed to be anything more than science fiction – and bad science fiction at that.

My response was that such an assertion implicitly agrees that there are real issues at hand that need discussion and debate. The fact is, climatology is an infant science, and these doomsday predictions that are regular issued by the environmental crowd are time and time again found to be off the mark, not simply by a slim, but acceptable margin of error, but by vast differentials from the original predictions. Given that, I asked my friend, how many times do these predictions have to be shown to be reliably off-base by rediculous margins before we begin to take these claims with a huge grain of salt? At what point do we recognize the difference between actual, objective, tenable science, and outright speculation and arbitrary guesses which requires a huge leap of faith to accept?

Let’s face it… The ONLY reason why Gore’s film sparked so much "discussion" is because Gore is someone who has been - and may yet again - be active in politics, and able to gain access to the levers of power. In these cases, it is important to deflate junk science where we find it, lest it be used to inform policy makers in a deleterious fashion. If climate change was such a global crisis (as Gore put it), backed up by solid and clear evidence that the scientific community could find consensus on, then there would be no controversy in need of debate in a social or political environment. The environmental movement’s insistence on government action - in light of sketchy scientific evidence - suggests a deeper, more insidious agenda which may have little to do with saving the earth.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ron Paul Raking In Money Hand Over Fist

Hmmm... I wonder what the War Party thinks of this little tidbit?
Ron Paul Campaign Raises Over $5,000,000 In Third Quarter

October 3, 2007

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA -- The Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign raised $5,080,000 during the third quarter of 2007. That is an impressive 114 percent increase from the second quarter.

Cash on hand for the Paul campaign is $5,300,000.

"Dr. Paul's message is freedom, peace and prosperity," said Paul campaign chairman Kent Snyder. "

As these fundraising numbers show, more Americans each day are embracing Dr. Paul's message." Ron Paul's 114 percent increase is in stark contrast to the decrease suffered by Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain. Romney's fundraising was down 29 percent. Giuliani was down 40 percent. McCain was down 55 percent.

This is a cause for optimism. Granted, Paul isn't perfect on all issues, but on the matters that are most important at the moment - ending the Iraq war, scaling back the Empire, and reducing Federal power - he's a complete and total breath of fresh air.

Of course...when he really starts breaking into the polls, Conservative Warmongers will unite to crush him. But for now, it's nice to see that horse is a'runnin'!