A Libertarian Party & More On Strategy

So, it’s great Rand Paul might have finally found himself. I’m still confused over the 14% flat tax. Why not adopt his dad’s plan of abolishing the income tax! See, it isn’t entirely all about how much money is taxed, but how it is taxed.

This is where I’m not so much writing for the Anarchists, but to Jason and to the minarchists. Government is a necessary evil: check. I don’t think anyone will disagree with that, or “Government is evil,” and now everyone is on board. Taxes are bad. Taxes are expropriation. That is, in less technical terms, theft. It makes a difference how you are stolen from. It’s one thing to wake up in the morning and find out your car was stolen out of your driveway, it’s a whole ‘nother thing to be car jacked on your way home. Essentially, this is the same difference between an income tax and a tariff. With a tariff, your money is paid into the price of goods that come from overseas and into the artificially high prices of competing American companies. But, that’s a passive tax, one that you don’t even notice unless it becomes too high.

The income tax is more like being car jacked. You are stopped, and you actually have to stop to do your taxes, report how much money you made, how much you spend on interest on your home mortgage, how much you spent on feed and vet bills, and how much you give to charity, and all the details about your family. You know I bet when you think about it, you would rather be car jacked once a year than go through with filing your own taxes.

The income tax is a direct tax, and it is the most wicked type of tax there is. Those who fought for our independence from Britain railed against direct taxation. Frank Chodorov singled it out for attack in the 1950’s and Ron Paul wanted to abolish it, and replace it with nothing.

Why, then, am I being told that 14% is something I should cheer for? Here is the thing with strategy: Yes I get more freedom if my tax burden is reduced to an effective 7%, but, if that’s the case, what are the prospects people will be interested in abolishing an income tax that is so low? If it is that good, will we be able to get improvement somewhere down the road? Besides that, why is 14% our starting point? Why not 6%? Watch me plead with my potential overlord. “Please, Mr. Paul, can we please keep an extra 8% of what I earn?”  Whereas his Dad saw the income tax for what it is; he was principled and he wanted to destroy it!

What was the other topic yesterday? Ah, the banking system was one… I think Jason misspoke here and there when trying to explain the reserve requirements. I think Jason Stapleton is about the only libertarian I’ve ever heard speak about banking and money and not recommend a few books. So, I’ll do that here: From Rothbard we have The Mystery of Banking and The Case Against the Fed . That’s probably the very best place to go to get started on the banking system and the central bank.

Lastly, Jason argued we shouldn’t have a 3rd party, that it’s a bad idea. Well, I think that’s probably true for him. But, somebody’s got to do it. What we are in is a war of ideas. There are all different types of actors on the field. It would definitely be a bad idea if everyone on the battlefield were an archer, or if everyone were operating a trebuchet. It wouldn’t even be good if half did that, and if half of us were archers. We need men on the line; we need Calvary. That’s how we win a battle (at least before gunpowder was brought to Europe).

What I’m getting at is there are those who make subtle comments and suggestions. There are Big Guns like Tom Woods and Bob Murphy, and there are different types of arguments. Some are softer or Socratic and with varying degrees of abrasiveness.  I’ve won people over using all of the above.  One of the most memorable was when I crashed a tea party in 2010. They had an open mic, and I got up and spoke. The things I said…. Oh it was something. I was actually shut down, and asked to leave (it was a very small gathering), and I knew one family there who was in that neo-con mind set. I stayed in touch with them and sent them books a few months later for Christmas. Then sent them more books the next year for Christmas, and you know, now they are some of the most activist folks for the ideas of liberty.

It isn’t good for everyone to be in the libertarian party, or for everybody to do this or that, but it is definitely good that someone do it.

Libertarians & Marines – November 10th, 2015

I thought I should go ahead and make an entry for yesterday’s show, lest folks think I just haven’t gotten to it and keep waiting. Yesterday’s show isn’t the ideal type show of why the blog was set up. Nothing very controversial within libertarian circles. I wish I could recommend a concise book dealing with the history of the mortgage loan industry, but it can be found in many different places, not one I know of has that as its main subject.

Since you should read Meltdown anyway, maybe start there. I think he touches on a little bit of the history of home loans.

It really is too bad there are people out there, especially ”in” the libertarian movement, that would make personal attacks against Jason. In my view, the whole thing is about ideas. It’s about engaging ideas, putting them up against one another, seeing what ideas are compatible and which ones are not. And, if not, which ones are stronger. Personalities and people really don’t factor in.

I’ll make a comment about the whole Marine intro, since I can anticipate he’ll catch some flak for that. Maybe he should have a little more of a disclaimer to his whole Marine talk. In general, the Marines is no place for a libertarian. Now, the fact that he served, the fact that I enlisted in the Guard, that isn’t sufficient grounds for condemnation. The question has to be asked, “What did you know and when did you know it?” Fair enough – if you’d been exposed to the non-aggression axiom, and read a few books, like “Century of War” or anti-war.com for a while, and then signed up for service – I think there might be a problem.

Just about everyone who enlists thinks they are doing it for God and Country, for home and freedom. How can you condemn someone for that? I wasn’t quite that naive when I enlisted. I had already started down my road to libertarianism. I didn’t like the federal government, but thought it might be beneficial to get a little training and know a thing or two, because you never know when that sort of knowledge might come in handy.

So, the next question is, “Why?” I have met men who enlisted to kill Muslims. That’s condemnable! And, I’ve met men who do it because they needed a job. I don’t particularly like that, but when a guy says he enlisted to keep America free, I cannot condemn him. I pity him and see in him an ally, who would put his life on the line for Liberty. Now I just have to show him what liberty is.

A great many in the libertarian movement need to do some deep thinking about how they approach soldiers and veterans. No doubt there are some disgusting individuals out there, but one of the overarching principles of our ideas is that we uphold individualism. We don’t lump thousands together in groups and treat them all the same, that is the notion of collectivism. There are almost as many reasons to enlist as there are enlisted men. You have to take time to connect to them, and hear their story before you make a judgement. I think the armed forces is a great place to find folks who are ready to hear about our ideas, but it needs to be done tactfully.

I won’t labor the point too much here, because it’s something I see come up more and more often, so I’m sure we’ll cover it later.  And, I’ve got to get to work.

Anarchy & State – October 9th, 2015

Good show today.

Before I get into what I’m sure everyone is waiting on, I want to talk a little about drug laws and political strategy. My own philosophical journey began as a conservative, who actually believed taxation was evil. Not that there shouldn’t be any taxes, but just that taxes were bad, and high taxes were worse. At some point I realized that ,while I didn’t like people smoking pot, and I don’t like women being prostitutes, and I didn’t like x,y, or z, it just wasn’t justifiable to take money away from me and from other people to pay the cops to arrest them, to pay the courts to try them, and to pay the prison guards to keep them. Then I had to decide if I really believed in limited government, or if I could rationalize higher taxes to prosecute crimes without victims. In my early days as a libertarian, I didn’t believe in a right to be a prostitute or smoke pot, I just didn’t think it justifiable to expropriate people in order to keep them from it.

As far as which way to vote, let’s not forget that this is politics, and every political environment is different. I cant recall what state he was talking about that was considering legalizing pot with only 10 authorized distributors… but I will tell you, if this were in Oklahoma, it would be a slam dunk! Take the deal. However, if we are talking about a little bit more liberal state… maybe like Michigan, I wouldn’t vote yes. I would try to hold out for a better deal.

Now onto Anarchy and the State. Jason’s detailed example of the walled community is only a covenant community; these sorts of arrangements are all over the place in anarcho-capitalist theory. In pure theory, in a stateless society these would be permitted where they are not now. For instance, one of the conditions of living within the wall might be to attend a certain church every Sunday. As it is, this would be illegal.

In the instance where a resident breaks the terms of the covenant, he could be brought to the private court and a judgement could be brought against the violator. So, that’s out.

Now let’s define a state. What Jason described was not a state. That very scenario could happen and be dealt with, without a state.  So what is a state? No one explains it better than Rothbard in Anatomy of the State (also available in free audio on iTunes, or here). This, by the way, is a title anyone who even gives lip service to liberty should read, even if you don’t agree with it you ought to be able to say that you read it. So in short, the state consists of two things: a monopoly of violence over a given geographical area, and the power of expropriation. If you don’t have both of these things together, you don’t have a state. As an aside, the Ayn Rand people have a halfway system, where there is a monopoly of violence held by one body, but they have no power to tax. This “government” under the Randian system would be funded only by donations or volunteer work. It is a moderate view, and not as good as the Rothbardian vision, but I think it is more realizable. Consider for instance that 400 years ago people couldn’t conceive of the Churches existing or operating without people being taxed to support them. How, then, would it work? How would we function if people weren’t forced to pay for courts and police?!

However, that’s not exactly what we’re talking about when we speak of a stateless society. This is perhaps why the Rothbardian tent is referred to as Anarcho-capitalists. These people really believe it when they say they believe in a free market. Not just when it comes to boats, cars, trains, and planes, but also when it comes to police protection and courts.

But let’s back up to the whys of Anarchy. I have met no an-caps, in person or online, who advocate anarchy for the reasons Jason cited. It is not through the reasoning that a small government is better than a large government and therefore no government would be best at all. More often than not, it is made on ethical grounds, that it is wrong to expropriate people, and that it is wrong to restrict entry into an industry, and with a utilitarian argument as a supplement that competition brings excellent. On this latter point, we can compare likely scenarios in the current system where there are whole neighborhoods in Detroit, Chicago, and other big cities where the police dare not go at night unless shots are fired. Under the Randian system what would change? It’s not like they would get an extra big donation for stopping a break-in in the ghetto. But, under the Rothbardian system, someone would go. In a truly free market, there is always a bottom tier company that provides the most… “Economical” option.  Those cheap shoes from K-Mart come to mind, the ones that seem to fall off your feet after you’ve worn them 60 days. Don’t get it wrong, I’m not bragging about low quality. I am pointing out that low quality is better than what we have now in certain places.

On the ethical point, it really is quite black and white. Is it okay to take money from people against their will using the threat of violence? Is it okay to establish monopolies and not allow competition? I won’t retype it. Move your eyes back up and read it again. If you have a problem with this, if you believe in the free market, and if you believe in logic, you must be an anarchist on some level. I don’t know if it is actually necessary to advocate for anarchy. I don’t, always. But, sometimes I do, merely because if I advocate anarchy, and the guy I’m talking to wants a Department of Education and a DOT, and a USDA, and so on, then all of the sudden a minimal state becomes a halfway point, and a place to compromise. All of a sudden, the minimal state Jason talks about seems a lot more reasonable!

I have to hand it to Jason on his manners, and reinforce what he says regarding cutting people out, name-calling, and the like. By what I said in the paragraph above, I’m not trying to denigrate or disparage anyone who isn’t an an-cap. It’s alright if you aren’t an an-cap, but you have to, and you will, give on one of the points. Usually they say, and I said for a long time – yes taxation is wrong, and monopolies are wrong, but in this one area it is justified, because to not do it would leave us so much worse off.

I’ll also point out that an-caps should be the most polite people in society. The fact is that when you call the protection company (probably an insurance company) to file battery charges against a man who punches you in the nose after you call him a name, the cop (for lack of a better title) is going to scoff and just say that you had it coming. These will be people working for a profit and not bullies with a badge on some kind of power trip. In the stateless society, we won’t have hall monitor cops who get off on hauling people to jail for minor infractions.

Oh, and I almost forgot. My own argument against Anarchy. It’s short and sweet, and that’s good because I have another 12 hour shift tomorrow. It is as good as the argument against a limited government. The nature of man is to seek power and control.  No state will develop into a state, and a limited state will grow into a large state.

That’s all for tonight. Listen to the show tomorrow. Then, come here for the after show. Leave a comment and tell your friends about the blog, and about the show.