The V.A. & Veii – January 13th, 2016

Ask a room full of historians when the fall of Rome became inevitable and you’ll get as many different answers as there are historians in the room. We can’t even all agree as to when Rome fell, much less the point at which she became unsalvageable. However, I will submit that one of the most significant points in Roman history, and one that was crucial in her fall, though not an immediate cause, was the Siege of Veii in 396 B.C.

Up until that time, the soldiers of Rome were citizens and fought for Rome, for Freedom, for Glory, for Honor, whatever it is to each man; money wasn’t part of the equation. But the Siege of Veii took longer than expected and it caused the soldiers to miss their harvest. To compensate, the Senate voted to pay the soldiers who remained in the field. This was supposed to be a one-time thing, but it turned into common practice and led to the formation of a large, standing, professional army. Men no longer tended their fields and then left for war, they were full time soldiers, serving as warriors for 20 years and doing nothing else. They fought for pay, and were no longer only interested in defending Rome. We see this many times through the many army camp mutinies when the pay was in arrears or was late.

The only difference between mercenaries and the Roman army was that the mercenaries would take their money and go home after the fight, while the Army was already home. All of the civil wars fought in later centuries would have hardly been possible if the Army had been as organized as it had been prior to 396 B.C.

I am more than a little concerned about how our American army is organized. It isn’t much different than the Roman army. There are very few who enlist principally to defend American liberty, most rightly recognize that American liberty is under no threat from foreign powers in the first place, but still, few understand what liberty is. It is a profession, or an adventure.

I enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard 10 years ago this coming May, and went to basic and AIT over the summer and fall. Most everyone in my training group had enlisted to “pay for college” or “for the bonus” or “to see the world.”  Of course, a few disturbed individuals expressed their desire to “blow something up” or “to know what it’s like to kill someone.” Liberty was never part of the equation.

We had a brief time in our history before the government got involved where our military was largely like that of the Romans before the siege of Veii. In the early days of the Revolution there were no terms of enlistment. During the siege of Boston, patriots came and went according to their own schedule and there was no shortage of muskets trained on the Redcoats.  Sadly, Washington brought over Friedrich Steuben, a Prussian army veteran who brought continental regularity to the new American Army. This means officers were appointed from above rather than being elected by the men and that the days of men coming and going as they pleased were over. After Steuben got a hold of the army there would be no more intermissions between battles, where men could go back home to engage in productive work and trade. Now, with regular terms of enlistment, men would be confined to camp for months at a time.  No longer able to feed themselves through their own efforts, the army turned to seizing supplies from farms, which hurt morale and threw confusion over the civilian population. If the British happened upon your homestead, they might take everything and burn the place to the ground. It now seemed the only difference between the American army and the British Army was that the Americans were short on matches.

Ever since that time, soldiery has been corrupted. You know a war is worthy and just when men are willing to bear a financial burden of fighting it, but there is no way all the men going over to Iraq and Afghanistan would go and fight if they weren’t being paid. On the other hand, we would fight if we were invaded.

This is where we get back to the V.A. and the comments Jason made on the show. It is part of the contract to provide all the benefits that were promised, including healthcare and mental health. However, it is a deal that never should have been made.

Just consider the Scots in their centuries long struggle for independence from the English. Do you think they would be willing to fight only if the Scottish crown promised to provide disability checks to them and V.A. style benefits if they got hurt? NO. Better to lose life or limb than to be slaves to the English! And that’s a great indicator the wars we fight are unjust. Were they just there would be no need for disability checks, or for V.A. benefits, or even for pay aside from bacon and beans and a new pair of shoes every other year.

If the fight is worth fighting, you won’t need to be paid. You won’t need benefits. Liberty and the defense of home and hearth is all the motivation needed.

But war is the health of the state; the more wars that can be fought, the more power that can be consolidated into the hands of the state. And if men are unwilling to risk life and limb, pay them, give them enlistment bonuses, free college, V.A. benefits, disability benefits, survivor benefits, whatever the price, we must have war at any cost!

I’ll close it out with an excerpt from the Declaration of Arbroath, written by the nobles of Scotland in 1320 as an appeal to the Church to intercede and help bring peace to the British Island. It should provide a capstone in the contrast between those who pay their soldiers for conquest and those who fight only for defense and liberty itself.

“…Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself…”

The Lottery – January 11th, 2016

This episode shows why I am such a big fan of Jason, I think he must have spoke for 20 minutes about how bad the lottery is and then comes back after thinking about it and question himself, here’s a guy that doesn’t believe he has a monopoly on truth. And that’s refreshing.

Now my take on the state lottery is, somewhat in Line with Jason. I opposed it when it came to Oklahoma. not because of who the money came from, but who the money went to.

I have no doubt if libertarians were running things, taxes would be extremely low, or we wouldn’t have any, but we would have a lottery. Because a voluntary tax is no tax at all. Rather buying a lottery ticket is a $2 donation to the state with an extremely slim chance of becoming a millionaire. Donations don’t force people to part with their money, taxes do.  So I am for it, IF it is a choice between taxes and lotteries.

But if we are already being fleeced, I see no sense in giving our robbers more resources by which to control us, expropriate us, and indoctrinate our children. They didn’t lower taxes when the lottery came to town, so whats the point?!  I don’t know if that counts as agreeing with Jason or disagreeing with him. You’ll have to listen for yourself and figure it out.

And I need to make one more comment about Economics. I do like how Sowell explains things, but Economics isn’t about scarcity, it is about human action and we could cut a compromise by saying “Human action regarding other human beings and scarce resources.” as far as economics being double edged sword, this is more properly speaking the market and not the science of how the market works-“economics”.

Furthermore the notion that lower gas prices could in anyway be a bad thing is counter to the whole purpose of human action… to reduce and eliminate scarcity. What $1.50 per gallon means is that it is being produced more efficiently. that frees up workers to go and do other things.

More efficiency is better than less, that means we are more productive and we have less waste. It is only short term downside for the people negatively affected. Just like when the first cars began filling the street and the buggy builder was put out of business. but he latter found work elsewhere.
This is a good thing for everyone except the buggy builder, and only for him in the short term.

For more on the drone story, check out the Tom Woods Show for Jan 11. He had a great interview with a guy who is very knowledgeable on the subject.

 

Break’s Over

Let’s just get down to business. And, really, the last thing I want to talk about: Oregon. There are so many different angles and things to say about this… Is it too little too late? Maybe so, maybe it’s time to get your passport ready and learn Swiss German. I’ve also heard one can live pretty free in Argentina.

This stunt isn’t going to cause the Federal Government to stop abusing it’s power. But, maybe there will be something else come of it. Perhaps they will be martyrs and that will lead to something down the road.

If this deal were going on in Oklahoma or North Texas, I might be more interested; maybe I would go and join up with them, but wherever this is in Oregon is too far for me. It’s a 25 hour drive! I have a wife and kids here, a job and a farm here; I can no more go to Oregon than I can go to Iraq. And, I can’t see this being a rallying point for liberty lovers across the country.

As far as the catalyst, that these ranchers had a controlled burn on their own land spreading onto federal land, and so on, which led to them being charged and convicted as terrorists, of course it’s ridiculous. It’s not altogether qualitatively different than the gun dealer licensing requirements Jason talked about together. The government is granting itself this latitude, this free hand to keep people in line.

I’ll digress onto this for just a minute. The law of the road is posted. You can not travel faster than 45 MPH. If you drive 44 or 45 you’re okay, but at 46 you’re in violation. With the new gun regulations there is no law. it’s all relative. It is like a “law” being posted, that says, “don’t drive too fast,” which would just be relative to your own particular circumstances. Where in the country are you? How old are you? Male or female? Race? What car are you driving? What political party are you in? Don’t drive too fast, and we’ll let you know if you do.

Don’t sell to many guns without a dealer’s license but we’re not going to give you a hard and fast number… If you sell too many, we’ll let you know, and prosecute you and send you to prison.

Anyway going back to the terrorism charges: This is pretty scary stuff, damn near anything can be terrorism now, I guess. Maybe this will have a positive lining to it, that if everything is called terrorism, the word loses its meaning and becomes meaningless. Maybe the silliness of it all will cause people to… See the silliness of it all. These laws don’t come by way of congress, rather through the bureaucracy, the BLM, the ATF, the FDA. These agency heads are not answerable to you.

The Emperor has no clothes.