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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Know The Enemy of Liberty: the National Rifle Association

Oppressors Not Protectors
With the release of the first episode of the Defending Our America series titled “Know Your Enemies and Know Yourself” the National Rifle Association (NRA) puts itself at the forefront of the shills for tyranny and empire. Please watch the first episode and the season preview. They advocate police power to fight the war on drugs, police power to secure the borders, and military power to fight Islam overseas. In other words, they advocate for the very things that are destroying our liberties. Not once in either video do we hear the words liberty or freedom.

The war on drugs has lead to the destruction of the right to privacy and property. It is driving the militarization of the police enabling Commando style raids that now happen over one-hundred times a day in the United States. Sometimes they are based on nothing more than the word of an informant. Sometimes they are to serve a warrant on a non-violent person. Asset forfeiture has police forces becoming predators seeking out the maximum take with little or no due process. Law enforcement has become the standing army many Founders warned us not to have. The war on drugs keeps the money flowing to the law enforcement establishment.

Securing” the massive southern border of the US is a pointless and impossible task. In the process of attempting it the government is building up a police state characterized by checkpoints, warrantless searches, and other intrusive controls. We need the governments permission just to work now that they've made it illegal to hire undocumented workers and implemented e-verify. This is another form of tyranny that keeps money flowing to the law enforcement establishment.

Fighting Islam is a farce designed to keep money following into the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned was taking over. It furnishes an excuse to keep taxes and government debt high. “...armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instrument for bringing the many under the domination of the few.” is how James Madison put it.

Follow the money. It comes as no surprise that the series is sponsored by Sig Sauer a supplier of weapons to law enforcement and the military. It is obviously important to Sig Sauer that the people support the gravy train they're riding. Hey, who cares about liberty when there's government money to be had?

If my words aren't enough to convince you perhaps you'll listen to Patrick Henry. He warned of the dangers lurking in the constitution, the very document the videos advocate defending. Below are selected, relevant excerpts from Henry's speech arguing against adoption of the constitution titled “Shall Liberty or Empire Be Sought?”:

A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny; and how are you to punish them? Will you order them to be punished? Who shall obey these orders? Will your mace-bearer be a match for a disciplined regiment?

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: liberty, sir, was then the primary that spirit we have triumphed over every difficulty. But now, sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country into a powerful and mighty empire.

But, sir, we are not feared by foreigners; we do not make nations tremble. Would this constitute happiness, or secure liberty? I trust, sir, our political hemisphere will ever direct their operations to the security of those objects.

It is on a supposition that your American governors shall be honest, that all the good qualities of this government are founded; but its defective and imperfect construction puts it in their power to perpetrate the worst of mischiefs, should they be bad men; and, sir, would not all the world...blame our distracted folly in resting our rights upon the contingency of our rulers being good or bad? Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty! I say that the loss of that dearest privilege has ever followed, with absolute certainty, every such mad attempt.

Now that we clearly see that the NRA is wholly behind the powerful government that we have to just trust and hope will not oppress
us it is time to turn our backs on that vile organization. Don't let the Siren song of patriotism fool you. Stand for liberty, not the empire and its police state!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rebutting an Anti-Free Market Comment

In a thread on the LinkedIn discussion group Citizens and Societies - Building better societies together! titled 'It is my opinion that one of the biggest challenges to better modern societies is what I'll call the "Free Market Myth"' Wade Fransson posted a comment further explaining his hypothesis that free markets can't exist (reproduced below). I respectfully offer this rebuttal.

The first mistake Wade makes is to conflate legality with regulation, they aren't the same thing. The rule of some kind of law is indeed necessary for a free market to function. (How this law is enacted and enforced and by whom is another discussion.) To have markets we must have private property. To have property we need a legal system of some kind to protect property rights. It should be noted that legitimate law is almost entirely reactive. When aggressed against the victim or victims seek restitution from and punishment for the transgressor.

Regulation is another matter. It is proactive. Regulations often require licensing, inspections, reports, and, of course, compliance. All under threat of punishment without a crime having been committed. This is a violation of the Non-Aggression Principle, the idea that no one has the right to initiate the use of force nor the threat thereof. Once it is established that force can be legally initiated by some against others the door is open for abuse and corruption. To be free markets must be free of people initiating coercion. Retaliatory coercion is necessary and the role, the only role, of the law.

Though he didn't use the word regulation Fredrick Bastiat covered the subject in his book “The Law”:

What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.”

Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right.”

...since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.“

Since as individuals none of us can claim the “right” to go to another's place of business and demand information, demand that they get our permission to operate their business, or make any other demands while threatening them with using force on them if they don't comply the collective can claim no such “right” either. Yet this is what regulation does.

Wade wrote:

1) Robbers (Participants introduce the transaction type known as "Theft" into the Marketplace)
2) Cops (Participants introduce Regulation to counteract the Theft),

The idea that regulation is implemented to counteract theft is naive at best, willfully ignorant at worst. It is the legalization of theft. It is what Bastiat called legal plunder in The Law”. The history of regulation is one of entrenched interests calling for regulation to protect and enlarge their market share and wealth, I.E. to stifle competition. A great example of this is the creation of the Federal Reserve System. JP Morgan was behind it. Yet somehow, many believe the government created it to take power away from old JP. Ayn Rand wrote about the process as it applies to broadcasting here. “Why Doctors Don’t Want Free-Market Medicine” describes the process in the health care field.

Further evidence of Wade's confusion on the issue is found in the very comment he made. At one point he writes “regulation to prevent Robbers often becomes part of the problem”. He then strangely goes on to write 'The Illegal Forceful Trick is to "sleight of hand style" turn the Cop into the Thief. This is what some of Jeff's comments seem to do.' Wait a minute, turning the cops into thieves isn't a rhetorical trick someone else did. It is something that Wade himself has acknowledged is reality. Given that reality it is irrational to advocate for the thief.

Below is the comment being rebutted:

"Jeff's oversimplified "Market" (I prefer to call it "Cops and Robbers Governed Marketplace - vs. Free Market - since "Free Market connotes a myth where there is no theft) is a very good, very helpful two-dimensional model. It covers neither the third dimension - depth (which I'm using to denote complexity) nor time (the fourth dimension).

Regulation often seeks to confront Theft that can only described by depth and time - vs. Jeff's two-dimensional description of Theft (deadly force).

Let me unpack these statements: Jeff wrote:

"No, stealing is always a threat to survival because it sets a precedence that if it is rewarded then it should be repeated."

Here Jeff compresses the four dimensions of...

1) Robbers (Participants introduce the transaction type known as "Theft" into the Marketplace)
2) Cops (Participants introduce Regulation to counteract the Theft),
3) Complexity Arises - various types and degrees of theft and regulation
4) Time (and change) - the increasingly complex system adapts

...into a simplified 2 dimensional model.

This model is almost a Caricature, really, but I'm OK with this particular representation, for purposes of this discussion, because it is a really good, useful model, and it is the one Jeff prefers, and he has introduced tremendous value into this thread - thanks Jeff :) ) of "Deadly Theft" and "Legal Force".

Jeff's bias seems to be to blame the Cops for the outcomes related to Theft, because their regulation to prevent Robbers often becomes part of the problem. This is upside down, or inside out, or backwards - pick a metaphor of choice. Because Theft. The Robbers, are the problem. They are the "Action" which - per Physics - requires an equal and opposite reaction.

The legal "trick" is in getting the Reaction right. The Illegal Forceful Trick is to "sleight of hand style" turn the Cop into the Thief. This is what some of Jeff's comments seem to do.

And this is where Jeff and I have yet to reach agreement - the fourth Paragraph of my Opening Post.

It descends, logically, from the point of legitimate disagreement we've already identified - the question I asked of Jeff a number of posts ago:

"2) Can you live with "develop rules of behavior which become "Regulation" in the market" or do you insist that all regulation which is not directly discoverable in Nature is "Illegal Force"?"

Because where Jeff's legitimate two-dimensional model becomes an illegitimate caricature, which steals from this discussion, is where he begins to define Government as unable to "discover Natural Law" which becomes the domain of the "Seer" who has somehow magically established that "Government IS the thief".

This is deadly force, and it gets to the Crux of what my Opening Post calls "The Free Market Myth".

Monday, April 21, 2014

Imagine the Bundy Ranch Showdown With Well Regulated Militias

Recently, Cliven Bundy and his supporters had a showdown with the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over grazing rights on land claimed by the federal government. They started rounding up Mr. Bundy's cattle but were confronted by armed, liberty-minded people. Fortunately, the feds backed down. (Those needing to get up to speed on this can do so here.) published a great article written by a former federal agent speculating on how the US government will retaliate titled “What’s Next for the Bundys?”. All of this got me thinking about the power the federal government has and why it shouldn't have it.

The useless constitution seems to be clear about what the federal government can and can't do. Article I, Section 8, clause 15 is the only part of the constitution that mentions how the federal government can enforce its laws. It reads “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions” [emphasis added] That's it, nowhere else does the constitution mention how to enforce federal law. The 10th Amendment limits the federal government's powers to only those listed. Nowhere does the constitution give the US government the power to create law enforcement agencies. This makes the BLM and the rest of the alphabet soup of federal law enforcement agencies unconstitutional. 
The point of having a well regulated militia is to avoid arming the government in the first place. Informing the Founders on this subject was one of John Trenchard's Cato's Letters, No. 95 Further Reasonings against Standing Armies. In it he warns:

It is certain, that all parts of Europe which are enslaved, have been enslaved by armies; and it is absolutely impossible, that any nation which keeps them amongst themselves can long preserve their liberties; nor can any nation perfectly lose their liberties who are without such guests: And yet, though all men see this, and at times confess it, yet all have joined in their turns, to bring this heavy evil upon themselves and their country.

Modern readers can be forgiven for thinking that we don't have an army among us. In order to get around the people's antipathy to having soldiers on the streets ruling us police forces were introduced in the mid-nineteenth century. Think of the standing army not as literally a military force but as any organized bodies of armed men under the government's control. Today's standing law enforcement establishment functions domestically the way a standing army would. That's exactly what we saw on display at the Bundy ranch. During the debates over the Second Amendment Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts argued:

What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty .... Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.

Imagine if the government didn't have the BLM and its thugs to bully Cliven Bundy. Imagine if to go after him congress would have had to meet and then vote to call forth the Nevada militia. Does anyone seriously think that a militia composed of Mr. Bundy's neighbors would have even tried to enforce the federal government's tyranny on him? Of course not. If we don't give the government the power to oppress it won't. The only way to secure our rights is to disarm the government while arming and organizing the people.

A note on the “militias” that protected the Bundy ranch. They were brave, determined people that I'm glad succeeded in defending the ranch. What they aren't is militias in the sense meant by the Founders and thinkers like Trenchard. The militias are supposed to be part of the system not groups or individuals outside of it. Explaining the issue from a constitutional point of view Edwin Viera wrote an excellent article on the subject titled “True Vs. False Militia And Why The Difference Matters”. In it he wrote:

As wholly private organizations with no legal authority peculiar to themselves-- for certainly not a single one of them has been empowered by a State statute to participate in the activities they have taken upon themselves -- these "militias" are necessarily not parts of the government of any State or Locality. Indeed, they view themselves as at least potential antagonists and opponents of "the government" in general

Militias” set up outside of the system are revolutionary groups. (I don't want to be misunderstood here. I'm not saying opposing the government is wrong or bad, I'm just trying to set the record straight about what militias really are.) Mr. Viera gets the principle right though his application is wrong. As an anarchist libertarian I'm more anti-government than any “militia” member will ever be. What we need aren't constitutional militias but militias that are part of a stateless system. 

The bottom line is that if the government didn't have a “standing army” in the form of the BLM and the system's enforcers were the very people that tyranny would be inflicted on they couldn't even have tried to do what they did. Imagine that, our liberties would be secure and the Bundy ranch free of federal invaders.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Taxes and War Profiteers

One hopes that this sign could be the beginning of pacifists understanding that taxes and war go hand in hand. It was displayed at the Brandywine Peace Community's Good Friday Stations of Justice, Peace, and Nonviolent Resistance at Lockheed Martin, King of Prussia, PA (Mainstream media coverage can be read here.)
Knowledge that war depends on taxation is nothing new. During World War II Disney helped with propaganda to encourage submission to the legal plunder that is often referred to as taxation:
Thomas Paine covered the subject of war and taxes well in “The Rights of Man”:
…the portion of liberty enjoyed in England is just enough to enslave a country more productively than by despotism, and that as the real object of all despotism is revenue, a government so formed obtains more than it could do either by direct despotism, or in a full state of freedom, and is, therefore on the ground of interest, opposed to both. They account also for the readiness which always appears in such governments for engaging in wars by remarking on the different motives which produced them. In despotic governments wars are the effect of pride; but in those governments in which they become the means of taxation, they acquire thereby a more permanent promptitude.

War is the common harvest of all those who participate in the division and expenditure of public money, in all countries. It is the art of conquering at home; the object of it is an increase of revenue; and as revenue cannot be increased without taxes, a pretense must be made for expenditure. In reviewing the history of the English Government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander, not blinded by prejudice nor warped by interest, would declare that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes

Every war terminates with an addition of taxes, and consequently with an addition of revenue; and in any event of war, in the manner they are now commenced and concluded, the power and interest of Governments are increased. War, therefore, from its productiveness, as it easily furnishes the pretense of necessity for taxes and appointments to places and offices, becomes a principal part of the system of old Governments

When the left decries the government’s diversion of its resources from human needs to the military it is on to something. War does impoverish us. What the left needs to understand is that a government with the resources to build schools also has the resources to build drones, a government with the resources to build roads also has the resources to build jet fighters, and a government with the power to tax and create money has the resources to pay for the weapons mentioned above and to wage war.

And wage war it will, for as Randolph Bourne wrote "War Is the Health of the State". Giving the state resources only feeds the war machine. Welfare at home and warfare abroad are also just flip sides of the same coin. If the left really wants to see Dr. King’s dream of peace come true they must face the reality that they can not give the government the tools it needs to wage war and expect it not to do so. It’s not enough to advocate that they not buy weapons. We must take away the tools they use to acquire them. This means that we must end the Federal Reserve System, the income tax, the federal government’s social spending, its regulatory role, and its police powers. Peace will only come when the government is powerless to commit evil acts both at home and abroad.
It comes as no surprise to libertarians that when governments use aggression at home to finance their operations they use much of that loot to aggress abroad. To really advocate peace pacifists need to apply their principles consistently. The use of force is either consonant with pacifist principles or it isn't. There is no magic of the collective that excuses the government using force in a way that is immoral for individuals to do so. I have no doubt that none of the members of the Brandywine Peace Community would themselves ever use force, or the threat thereof, to separate anyone from their money. Why then do they advocate that the government do so? Taxation isn't consonant with pacifist principles. It can't be enforced without using force, a violation of everything pacifists claim to stand for. Until they resolve this conflict pacifists may say they want peace but are really the enablers of war and other aggressions. We won't get rid of the scourge of war until we rid ourselves of the scourge of taxation.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Professor Roth Says “...Guns Aren't the Problem”

One of many guns carried at a gun rights rally where not one person was shot.
During his presentation Why Is The United States The Most Homicidal Nation In The Affluent World? Professor Randy Roth of Ohio State University speaks for an hour about the causes of murder and why the murder rate fluctuates. What are most conspicuous for their absence is that he doesn't mention guns. They only come up during the question and answer period because of an audience question. Below is a transcript of the question and Professor Roth's answer with the most relevant parts in bold:
CARRIE MULFORD: I’m Carrie Mulford at the National Institute of Justice. I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t mention gun availability, gun laws, anything like that, so I was curious —
ROTH: Because I don’t like being abused and having my life threatened. [audience laughter] Because I’ve had both. I’ve been, you know, my scholarly credentials have been, you know, when I — because guns aren’t the problem. I mean, I say this, and as I say, I went to graduate school, many of us went to graduate school. We had very expensive and rigorous educations to learn that the answer to every important question is yes, no and maybe, right? And the answer to the question, “Are guns responsible for our homicide rate?” Yes, no and maybe. And that’s the truth.
And you try to tell that truth, and you get — I mean from the left and from the right. I mean it’s been more vicious from the right because they’re more vicious, but I’m sure if I said that in the 1960s when the left was more violent than the right, I would have gotten the death threats from them. So, you know, it’s a hard thing to really deal with, but I do talk about it in the book and I think about it extensively. Do you want me to talk about this? Because I know that people will watch this video, and they’ll doctor it. You can look at YouTube at how they’ve chopped things I’ve said to make me look — like one of their favorites was to chop what I said about Democrats and Republicans with what I said about chimpanzees. So they chopped it so I called Republicans chimpanzees, so they started a campaign to get me fired in Ohio. This is the kind of stuff that people will do, and I don’t want to be a coward about it, so I’ll answer your question, but this won’t go well for me if this gets on the Web. They will make sure that I get punished for saying what I’m going to say.
We’ve had, we’ve always had, a high level of gun ownership from, say, the colonial period right down into the 1940s. And at times we’ve been the most violent society in the affluent world, and at times we’ve been the least homicidal, haven’t we? So is it just guns?
When you take a look at the muzzle-loading era, and this is in the book, when it takes you time to load that gun? You know, “I’m mad now, but you’ve got three minutes to run, I suggest you do that.” Did you see, you know, the movie “Lincoln,” did you see that wonderful scene where he shoots and misses, and the guy’s trying to reason with him while he’s trying to reload his derringer, because you only got one shot? And he’s waiting, you know, he gives him about 20 seconds, and then he decides, “Uh oh, it’s time to run.” And he does. That’s how it goes. So when you look at that, what’s interesting is that gun use, the percentage of homicides committed with guns, goes up and down with the murder rate.
When that murder rate is high as it is in the mid- and early 17th century, the majority of homicides among unrelated adults are committed with guns. You look at this low period from the 1690s to the 1760s, only 10 percent of all homicides among unrelated adults are committed with guns. You go back up to the Revolution, it goes up to over half. Up and down in the Embargo crisis, up and down going into the crisis of the 1840s. So what it means is when people are feeling hostile or defensive, they will go to that dispute with their neighbor with their gun loaded. When they’re not feeling hostile or defensive, they go and cuss them out when their cattle come across the line and destroy their crop. They’ll go to the law.
So you’ll see that, you know, they’ll go to property disputes, they’ll go to political disputes with the guns loaded, and they kill each other. And so you have to kind of plan that out. And so what you see is that it goes up and down like that. And one of the experiments I would love to do, I’d love to run American history back to 1857 and dis-invent modern firearms. What do I mean by modern firearms? Those, the great invention of Smith and Wesson when they put everything together in 1857 and the first rimfire handgun that the black powder was totally enclosed within the cartridge, so you could keep your gun loaded all the time. Because if you know, black powder’s hygroscopic, it absorbs water, it corrodes your barrel, you can’t keep it loaded. Why do they always show the gun over the fireplace? Because that’s the warmest, driest place in the house. You’re trying to keep that gun going. So the thing is is when you see that firearm’s gunstock change between 1857 and 1910, it took that long for us to move to the breech-loading guns with self-contained ammunition, reliable manufactured ammunition. You will see the percentage of homicides committed with guns go up and up and up regardless of whether the homicide rate was going up or down.
And what you see, the dramatic thing is all through the colonial period, when you look at intimate partner homicides, family homicides, only 10 percent were committed with guns whether the homicide rate was high or low among unrelated adults. But when you see that modern firearm come in, you’ll see the rate at which intimate partner violence was committed goes up to be the same level as with unrelated violence. And you’ll see who’s most likely to be killed with a handgun in the late 19th century is not an unrelated adult. It’s a woman who rejected her lover. Because now I can take this gun around and I can stalk her. I can go with this gun — concealed if I am suicidal, I can conceal it, I can go talk to her. And very often she wants to be friends, she want to — rejected me, but the family wants to be friends. You go over to her house, he’ll say, “Will you take me back?” She gives the wrong answer, she says, “No, I can’t come back, but I’d like to be friends.” Shoots her, shoots himself, done. Seventy percent of those homicides are being committed with a handgun in the 1850s, ’60s and ’70s because that’s the perfect murder weapon. And because they love you, of course, the guys love you, so they don’t want to shoot you in the face, they don’t want to disfigure you. They love you, they shoot you in the back of the head or through the heart. They want it to be quick, they want it to be relatively painless, and they want to go too.
So in other words, what I would you say is that when you have this gender problem coming up, you can see that throwing guns into that is deadly. And when that homicide rate goes up, having guns there means the completion rate of an assault goes up. So, yeah, I think that when you have that homicide rate go up, having this many guns in the society makes it worse than it would otherwise be. And I say one of the reasons why we probably had a tough time during the 1950s getting down to 1 or 2 per 100,000, why were we stuck at 4 to 5, part of that is the fact that we were so heavily armed, and because we’ll engage in this kind of impulsive violence.
So in other words, what I told you was that guns aren’t the fundamental problem, we’d be killing each other with rolling pins because we hate each other, we hate our country. Europeans have a tough time understanding why Americans hate their government so much. So I say there’s a very elaborate form of self-hatred in a democratic society, isn’t it? But I think that that’s there. So in other words, you can see why everybody hates me by what I say, okay. It’s not an ideological response, and, you know, it’s based on years of research, it’s based on hard work that they don’t respect. I’ll be blunt. [emphasis added]

The entire transcript can be downloaded here.

I don't agree with everything Professor Roth says in his presentation but he does knock down the gun rights haters argument that the problem is guns and that eliminating them will make everything great. In fairness, his words don't completely favor gun rights either but they do support the view that guns aren't the cause of the problem. Thank you, Professor Roth.

It makes me sick to have to say I'm grateful to the government but I must cover myself so here is the required citation:

The International Libertarian gratefully acknowledges the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, for allowing us to reproduce, in part or in whole, the video Why Is The United States The Most Homicidal Nation In The Affluent World?. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this video are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.