Thursday, February 12, 2009

You Gotta Fight For The Right

The theme for today's article is your rights. The rights which are as important a part of you as your breath and your life. The rights which were not granted to you, or given to you, but belong to you by natural right. The rights which you possess as a free individual. The rights the government would like to deny you. The rights they claim you don't possess.

In order for you to understand what rights you possess, you first have to understand what rights are. They aren't granted to you. Those are privileges. They aren't allowed to you. Those are permissions. They are an inherent aspect of your very existence. You do not need to appeal to the state for them. You don't need to abase yourself to some assumed authority. You simply own your rights.

For instance, you have the right to defend yourself. You have the right to freedom of locomotion. You have the right to freedom of expression. You have the right to do what you wish with you life, your labors, and your private property.

Yet the state believes that they can abrogate those rights. They believe that they can decide what you can and cannot do with your life. At its root, this is based in the belief that they own you. It isn't enough for them that you don't hurt others. It isn't enough for them that you don't lie, or cheat, or steal, or rape, or murder. You aren't to be allowed to make decisions about your own life either.

We all know that the government believes that they have the right to prevent you from engaging in consensual sex as part of a mutually agreed upon commercial arrangement. They won't let you imbibe recreational drugs of your choice purchased without threat or fraud. They won't let people engage in private intimacy or pursue loving commitments if they are of the wrong gender. They won't allow you the freedom to disassemble, or to be offended, or to object to their demands.

Under the current system, the rights of all people are decided solely not by the will of the majority, but by the will of those politicians elected by the majority. Even when their actions go against the will of the majority, they simply revert to protestations of their access to special knowledge which justifies those actions. And of course, by its very nature, that special knowledge is unknowable to the people.

Think of how often they tell you that they are making decisions about war based on intelligence they can't share with you. Or how often they are making decisions about the economy based on a “big picture” you can't see. Or how often they act on an international scale based on policy you don't have access to. They claim that this is a representative republic, yet how can you pick people to represent you based on information you don't have that they won't share?

So they allege that companies do not have the right to vie for their own customers with incentives and bonuses, all in the name of “competition.” And they allege that private establishments aren't allowed to set their own rules as to the use of completely legal substances on their property, in the name of the “rights” of their voluntary customers and employees to fresh air. And they allege that the private citizens must relinquish the use of the analog frequencies to the government for their own financial gain, of course, they want to pretend that it's for your own good, after all, you'll get better picture quality. But you weren't given the option were you? You didn't ask for this, and if you did, other people aren't allowed to opt out.

So ultimately, they decide what privileges to allow you to have. And there's nothing you can do. Because they decide whether you have the right to protest. Whether you have the right to defend yourself. Whether you even have the right to own the means of protest and defense. After all, those aren't really rights anyway.

Not when you only have them at their indulgence.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Future is Now

President Obama has begun to fix this country and return it to a path of prosperity and righteousness. He has instituted new policies allowing for states to set their own standards with regards to auto emissions in order to clean up the environment. He has mandated more humane treatment of detainees and less corruption in the white house. He has informed our victims over seas that “we have not been perfect” and “the Americans are not your enemy.”

Of course, it hasn't all been roses. He had to cut federal funding for contraception out of the economic stimulus package. Iran has reacted to his peaceful overtures with open hostility, and China chose not to air his comments during his inauguration about governments that, “cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent.”

And I suppose those aren't his only problems. The economy has continued to plummet, and corporations aren't helping. Citigroup recently purchased a 50 million dollar jet after receiving 45 billion from the government. Apparently they needed that bailout money because of the rising cost of transportation. And some people are predicting that his emissions plan will drive the cost of autos up, further crippling the Detroit manufacturers. And the communists in Russia think he'll be lucky to make it all the way through his first term.

But let's not let the bad news get us down. We're on a path towards repairing America's image in the world. Obama's economic stimulus plan is just around the corner, and that should fix everything. He's taken steps to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and soon, his presidential appointees will be able to begin addressing the housing crisis. Good times are just around the corner.

So don't be concerned when you hear that states are considering legislation that would force manufacturers and retailers to encode ammunition and make records of those who purchase it. Don't think it odd if you hear that the United Nations doesn't consider self defense a human right. Don't think twice about whether or not the government plans to censor speech that doesn't comport to their agenda.

After all, it's a new day in America. We are returning to our roots. We're going to be a great nation again. People will respect us. This country will be a powerful, admired force for justice in the world.

So what if our economy is destroyed. So what if corporations continue to exploit their relationships with their friends in government to get free money to pay their bills. So what if free speech is abridged in the name of fairness. So what if the right and responsibility of each individual to provide for his own defense is restricted, regulated, or denied.

Besides, we've got hope. And change. I mean come on, Lincoln and Roosevelt violated the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of Americans in the name of saving the union. Why shouldn't Obama continue in the grand tradition of those historic figures?

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's a Party for Us

Tomorrow President Elect Barack Obama will be sworn in officially as the 44th President of the United States of America. His inauguration is expected to be attended by a record two million people. By comparison, George W. Bush's inaugurations had an attendance of roughly three hundred thousand each.

Most importantly to you and I, is that it is expected to cost roughly 160 million dollars. That's right, 160,000,000 dollars. Obama's supporters are defending that number by saying that George W. Bush's inauguration in 2005 cost roughly 157 million dollars, so that makes it ok. Of course, even their own figures show that more than 40 million of that was privately funded, while the full 160,000,000 dollars for Obama's inauguration appears to be state funds.

But putting that aside, apparently in the world of the leftist statists, two wrongs make a right. Of course that kind of logic is to be expected. They have to justify their behavior somehow, and for all of history the refuge of the villain has been, “look what that guy's doing!” Sadly, the rightist statists think that they spending just 115 million dollars of taxpayer money on their guy was something to brag about.

So in the midst of a global financial crisis, which Obama himself claims “may have devastating long term effects,” he plans to throw himself a party costing 160,000,000 dollars. At a time when he claims “government at every level will have to tighten its belt.” Apparently he means every other level.

The average tax burden of an American family is roughly 23,000 dollars. This average includes the highest and lowest tax payers. Go grab a calculator and find out how many families it will take to pay for his inauguration. Here, I'll save you the trouble. It's nearly seven thousand families.

Seven thousand families. That's how many people are working, day in and day out, so that Barack Obama can have one party, for one day. While people all over the country are losing their homes. Losing their jobs. Losing their hope.

It's disgusting. Perhaps this is some heretofore undeclared aspect of Obama's “economic stimulus plan.” Perhaps he wants to entice us with all the jobs this will create. Perhaps he thinks we're all just too stupid, uninformed, or apathetic to notice or care.

Perhaps he's right.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Sad Update

I recently posted an article about a friend of mine who owned a local restaurant. He was being harassed by the city on the grounds that because he didn't have the correct signatures, from the right people, on the right form, his restaurant was unsafe to eat in. You can read more about it below.

I'm sorry to say that his restaurant has gone out of business as of the new year. While I can not directly attribute this to the actions of the city, as many other small businesses and restaurants have also recently closed their doors, I can state unequivocally that the city drove away customers, cost him revenue, and increased his operating expenses with their harassment and bureaucratic entanglements.

They never asserted that his restaurant was inherently unsafe or that he was engaged in some unhygienic practice. Their complaint, from the beginning, was that one signature he obtained from one contractor doing construction on his building was invalid because that contractor had allowed his license with the city to expire. Because of that, they hung signs in his windows informing the public that it was unsafe to eat there, driving away his custom.

This is the end result of the state. Empty buildings. Locked doors. Dark storefronts. Their actions result in failure, deprivation, and ultimately death.

I am not exaggerating here. This was the death of entrepreneurialism. This was the death of opportunity. This was the death of capital. This is the state in it's purest form.

The state can only manifest itself in death. It can not create, it can not encourage, it can not be a thing of brilliance. If it could, it would not require the use of force to achieve it's ends. The state is violence and oppression and death. Those who worship the state worship these things. Those who work for freedom and liberty are the ones who truly value life.

So now, there is one more dark empty building on the roadside. Where once commerce took place, now there is only silence.

These are your tax dollars at work.

Tomorrow is Another Day

Everyone is caught up in the throes of a global economic meltdown. I've cataloged in the past how many of the contributing factors which led to this can be traced back nearly eighty years to FDR's New Deal, and even further back to the creation of the federal reserve and the inception of fiat currency in America, but history aside, we are living it.

Small businesses are closing their doors nation wide, and businesses are cutting hours, laying off staff, and reducing payroll. But they are not alone. Major international corporations are also feeling the pinch, and are desperate to find ways to survive. Gannet publishing, the largest U.S. based newspaper publisher, is going to be forcing some 40,000 employees nationwide to take one week off without pay in an effort to save money. Some have been forced to declare bankruptcy, including Circuit City, Nortel Networks, a leading producer of phone technology, and petrochemical giant LyondellBasell.

Of course, when companies reduce their employees pay through staffing cuts and unpaid furlough, they also reduce their expendable income, leading to further profit losses nationwide, necessitating ever greater spending cuts. When the economic upheaval reaches such a level, when it has pervaded the auto industries, the technology industries, the retail industries, the service industries, the manufacturing industries, even the pornography industry, businesses face no simple choices. Survival becomes a matter of making the right decisions, quickly, and trying to convince the consumer that the ever decreasing amount of expendable income he does possess is most wisely spent patronizing your establishment. Even then, without a lot of luck businesses will continue to fail.

But there is one corporate entity which is able to create solutions to their own economic shortfalls. That would be your friendly, benevolent, always looking out for what's best government. They're feeling the pinch too, but they've got some ideas. First, there's President Elect Barack Obama's economic plan. It includes
getting credit flowing again
reform the oversight and regulation of the finance sectors
supplement individuals who are struggling to make mortgage payments
improve oversight of taxpayer funded services
increase public welfare in the form of unemployment and food stamp benefits
supplement state costs for public services with federal funding
build more bridges and roads
make government buildings more energy efficient
computerize medical records
increase school funding
and making sure everyone has access to high speed internet

You can find more information on his plan at these sites, although specifics seem to be hard to come by.

Now, read that list slowly. Really think about it. You are a smart person. You are a capable person. You are able to answer some questions on your own. How will the government get credit flowing again, and if they could, why haven't they already? How will increased oversight, which I have shown you in previous articles is rank with corruption, regulatory capture, and waste, jump start a failing economy? How will more welfare programs and government stimulus checks improve the lives of people who will then have to fund those very expenses from their own pockets through taxation and inflation? How will increased federal spending to the states in the form of building improvements, road work, and public service reimbursements get you more money in your wallet? How will computerized medical records and high speed internet keep international corporations from going out of business? You are not stupid.

But you are scared, and it is that fear that the government is more than happy to use to manipulate you into supporting their initiatives. The reality is that increasing funding to our failing government schools, even if we grant the premise that they serve some positive purpose, which I don't, will not help get us out of this economic crisis. Even if increased funding was some benchmark of improved performance, and it isn't, the theoretical benefactors of that funding, the schoolchildren, are in no position to rescue this economy. While having high speed internet will certainly help some businesses increase revenues and cut costs, and computerized medical records would help streamline the medical industry making healthcare more affordable to some, neither of these moves is sufficient or integral to preventing a complete economic collapse, which is what we are facing.

Most important however, even more important than addressing whether or not any of these ideas are anything more than pure government opportunism, is where the funding for these schemes will come from. You see, government is facing the same financial hardships as the rest of us. In California, the state government has decided that in lieu of issuing tax returns to their citizens, they will issue IOU's, with the promise that when things get better, the citizens will get their money. Pause on that.

A tax return occurs because you accidentally overpaid the government ahead of time in estimation of your final tax burden. When your final tax burden was assessed, and they realized you paid them too much, they are supposed to return the difference. Imagine if you gave the clerk at McDonald's your money before you ordered your food, and when he realized you overpaid, he gave you back the change. Only in this instance, the state of California has decided to keep the change. It's not their money, it never was, they were holding it, interest free, against a future debt you expected to incur. Upon finding out that your did not actually incur that debt, or that it was less than anticipated, they are keeping the money.

This is no joke, and it is certainly no laughing matter. Only a state which claimed proprietary ownership of you, your possessions, your labor and it's fruits would believe that they have the inherent right to keep this money, and this state is doing exactly that.

In the state of California, some have suggested that the solution is more taxation, meaning that they should take away more of their citizens money, when they have already shown both incompetence in it's stewardship and an unwillingness to return what they have taken in error. Others have suggested that they should receive greater amounts of federal funds, meaning that the citizens of other states should be burdened additionally, in these uncertain times, so that someone deemed more deserving may benefit from what you worked hard to earn. All of this is being bandied about with little or no awareness of the irony of it all. That a failing idea can be fixed with stricter adherence to it's precepts, and greater commitment to it's goals.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that this sort of behavior is some kind of quirk of the California legislature, or that they are simply proposing these ideas because they have been out in the sun too long. This is how states do business. Circuit City has to entice you to spend money there, and failing that, they are closing their doors. The state on the other hand, simply takes what you have. If your resist, they use force. When you don't have enough for them to take, they take it from someone else. You exist only to fund the state, and your agreement is not necessary. That is how the state addresses tough financial times. We need only look to history to learn what they will do.

But ultimately, we know what they will do. They will simply create the money out of whole cloth. Oh, they will increase taxes and raise tarrifs and levy fines, but most will simply be imagined into reality. Some will be printed new, but a large percentage of it will never even exist. It will simply be created by an entry in a ledger, checks will be printed and passed, and numbers moved from column a to column b. The end result is of course the same, more inflation and devaluation. But that's a problem for another day.

And we still haven't addressed today's problems yet.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Same Stuff, Different Year

The holidays are over, and as much as we may have enjoyed the momentary distractions of hearth and home, I know I did, the world at large once again intrudes into our daily lives. Bit by bit, news of corrupt politicians, government “solutions”, and violent police oppression seeps out of our televisions and radios and sour the new year.

Of course, the automobile manufacturers got their Christmas present and may have more on the way, and while we didn't get our money by New Year, congress is still planning on printing those checks. And though I can't take credit for predicting it, the porn industry is also applying for a bailout. While the chances that they will receive anything from the government are slim, they make a compelling argument. After all, if sales really are down more than 20%, hundreds of thousands of “actors,” directors, cameramen, key grips, best boys, composers, networking specialists, truck drivers, and sales clerks may be facing unemployment. If that argument works for the investment banks and the automakers, why isn't it good for the gander?

Then again, with Barack “the future” Obama set to take office in a few days, perhaps this is all idle frustration. After all, he has a plan. He says his plan will immediately help jumpstart the economy by doubling the production of alternative energy within three years, improving the efficiency of federal buildings and homes, computerizing medical records, equipping schools with 21st century classrooms, expanding broadband across the country, and investing in science and new technologies. I'm not sure what computerized medical records and energy efficient government buildings have to do with a global mortgage crisis begun over seventy years ago by the creation of government agencies designed specifically to create the kind of situation that exists today, but I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

By the way, that isn't sarcasm, I do mean that. I'm sure he does know what he's doing. I don't believe these people are idiots. Well, some of them no doubt are, and others are simply along for the ride, but many of them know exactly what they are doing. I saw a liberal propagandist on television the other night who proposed that “only government can save business.” His position was that businesses are crippled by the cost of supplying health care to their employees and that by assuming those responsibilities via a universal health care system, government would unburden businesses allowing them to thrive.

He's not stupid enough to believe this of course. Universal health care would have to be funded, and businesses would fund it through taxation. By putting the decisions in the hands of an organization as inherently and fundamentally inefficient as government costs will increase, meaning that the actual cost to businesses will be higher than if they chose to supply these benefits to their employees directly. And anyone who understands even the basic fundamentals of business economics know that businesses pass operating costs, including taxation, onto their customers, meaning ultimately the customer would pay more for the employees to have health care under a government system than they do now. Which in turn means less expendable income to spend, which means less business growth, not more. Of course, all of this ignores completely the fact that many, if not most, businesses don't offer health care, or have employees who choose not to take advantage of it, meaning that the costs alluded to aren't universal anyway.

The entire position is specious, but it is exactly the kind of argument used by statists to compel free people to relinquish their freedom. By creating a crisis that doesn't exist, “businesses can't succeed because of the cost of supplying health care,” and alluding to the suffering it could cause, “businesses may fail as a result,” they create a sense of desperation. Then they present the only possible solution. Give the government more power, and more money.

Of course at this point, the extrapolation stops. They don't want to discuss the next inevitable question, where will the funding come from, because the answer puts the lie to their position. They also aren't interested in discussion of whether or not their position is valid, or whether or not alternative solutions exist, which is why they spout ridiculous statements like, "the debate is over," or claim that only "ideological extremists" fail to support their position. Just because you arbitrarily call an end to debate doesn't grant you victory be default. In fact, any objective debater would take quite the opposite position. If you must call a premature end to debate in order to declare victory, your position must lack the merit to win when confronted openly and honestly.

The left doesn't own a monopoly on this kind of manipulation of course. Regardless of your position on international terrorism, I defy you to explain any possible situation where overseas adventurism prevents terrorist acts on American soil. There may be perfectly reasonable arguments for armed action in any number of scenarios, even preemptively, but arguing that it somehow prevents acts of violence against innocent people by well funded, creative, determined individual extremists, almost surely already here, and possessing no compunction against taking human lives to acheive their goals is whistling by the graveyard.

But the American public has not been taught much of argumentation. It used to be considered an important skill. It used to be considered an important part of intelligent discourse. Now it has been replaced with ad hominem attacks, argument by uninformed opinion, and a kind of penile comparison of “patriotism” and “depth of compassion” where people justify or dismiss arguments on passion instead of reason. Sadly, many people fail to even realize the difference.

So when Obama calls for “drastic measures” to avert a “crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse,” “intelligent” people beg for deliverance. When a study declares that you are a racist because you are apathetic to the hurt feelings of others, “educated” people fall all over themselves to prove otherwise. When the government, who created the problem in the first place, insists that they can fix it, “free” people are more than willing to make “small” sacrifices today for nebulous promises of some future security.

No, failure here is inevitable. There aren't enough people who can even recognize the problem, and certainly not enough of those even who are equipped to address it. So enjoy the new year. Don't let it get you down. We don't have the power to fix it, not yet, so like a violent thunderstorm it must simply be endured. But with hope. For like the storm, it will pass. The light of freedom will pierce the dark clouds of oppression and someday our children, or theirs, will feel the sunshine on their faces. It will happen. It must. No sufficiently oppressed people will fail to seek their own freedom. No advances in technology are not coupled with advances in liberty. In the meantime, live as free as you can, and find joy where you may.

Of course, the statists know this, and will try to hinder or impede progress as much as possible. But ultimately, they can't turn back the clock. Just as feudalism and tribalism, slavery and serfdom, autocracy and theocracy, slide away into history, so too shall all forms of state authority. They can't turn back the clock, and in the end, it merely counts the seconds until true freedom is achieved.

Music is reversible, but time is not

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dawn Comes in the Morning

Sorry I haven't posted here recently. I've been busy with both the hustle and bustle of the holiday season as well as some personal hardships. These forces have combined to make me sit down and reflect on what I have. I believe that we are each confronted with difficulties in our lives, and few of them are unique, and that when this happens we must make a decision. Will we allow ourselves to be burdened and oppressed by the difficulties we face, or will we choose happiness? Will we make a decision, here and now and again and again, to focus on our own power and our own possibilities, and to find a way to press on with hope? Sometimes the wind is at your back, and sometimes you have to lean into it, but if we keep taking steps we will keep moving forward.

So in that vein I have been thinking about ways to achieve true freedom. Freedom from tyranny, violence, and lies. Instead of focusing on the problem we must focus on the solution. Society is an imagined construct, it can not act, and it can not hold responsibility. Instead, it is the individual who is always responsible for history. So what can individuals do to move away from statism and towards voluntarism?

Firstly, I believe that we can work to become divorced from the state system. Think critically about what services you rely on the state to provide, and find private solutions instead. Learn to be self reliant instead of reliant on others. If you rely on government schools, then school your children at home or in the private sector. If you rely on the government to provide protection, then learn to protect yourself and acquire the means to do so. If you rely on the government to insure the safety of the products you purchase and the foods you eat, then go out and do your own homework. Eat at restaurants where you know the food is safe. Read consumer reports and research vehicles before you purchase them. Ask for references before you engage in business contracts. These are simple activities that you can do which will increase your ability to be self reliant and decrease your need for the state.

Secondly, you can secede economically from the system. Purchase products from some online vendors or from private individuals where taxes are rarely collected and difficult to enforce. Engage in unregulated economic transactions where you can set your own prices and freely contract with others. If possible, relocate to parts of the country where taxation and regulation are less intrusive. Rely on private organizations for your charitable giving, not the state. Whenever possible, make decisions which will give money to individuals, and not to the state.

Certainly economic secession isn't the answer to the problem, but it can be one tool you can use to lessen the power of the state. Less taxation is still theft, but it is also less theft. Less regulation on private contracts between consenting individuals is still unjust, but it is also less prohibitive. Economic secession will not in and of itself put an end to the state, but it will enable you with greater resources, greater self reliance, and greater opportunity.

While you may find these actions to be redundant based on the fact that those services are supplied, at least theoretically, by the state, you must remember the poor job the state does at each of these things. Your children will receive far better education, and have far more opportunities as a result, if you educate them privately. Protecting yourself will yield far greater results than relying on others to do so. Houses in unregulated municipalities may not be safe, but then again they may be, and you can get them inspected and choose only to purchase those that are. There are ways to handle your own business, without reliance on the state, and you will find the rewards worth it.

And most importantly, the state will not be around forever. With every “economic stimulus package,” and every corporate bailout, and every government “solution” the problem gets worse. The system is unsustainable. It will fail. And when it does, you want to make sure that you will be one of the people ready to thrive, not one of the sheep struggling to survive. If the electricity quit coming through the wires, and the trucks quit coming into WalMart, and the water quit coming through the pipes, how long do you think most people would survive? How long before true chaos became the rule?

Unfortunately, this is the end result of the state, and it will occur. Look through history. Every time the state fails, the people who were raised to rely on it struggle, and many of them die. Yet many survive, and people find ways to go on. They lean into the wind and mankind perseveres.

The state solution is no solution at all. It ultimately results in hyperinflation and chaos. But that is the problem. Don't focus on the problem. Focus on the solution. Focus on how you can live a life of freedom. Someday the state will collapse. It may happen in two years, or it may happen in twenty, but I don't think it will take two hundred. You may have to live through that tough time, and you definitely have to live through these tough times.

So live the best you can. Take care of yourself and your family, and find ways to live life as a free person. Encourage others to do the same. Encourage your friends and families to be self reliant. Encourage people to educate themselves. Encourage people to seek their own solutions to their problems, instead of ceding more and more authority to the state. They may use violence to take what you have and shackle you in chains, but you decide whether you are free or a slave. A free man in chains can be an inspiration to those around him. A slave is no inspiration at all. Be free. Live free. And be thankful that you are. In that way, you can bring freedom to others. Raise you children to be free.

Someday there will be a generation of men and women who do not know the evils of statism. They will live unencumbered by the chains of tyranny, violence, and lies. They will prosper and grow and fall and rise based on their own merit. We can help to bring this about. We can live our lives with the knowledge that someday, people will be free and we played a part in bringing that about. We can make that happen.

We can make the morning.