Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Commercial Spaceflight Continues to Advance

Despite all the space socialism of the past century, the market is stepping up with some very interesting private spacecraft. My latest news article in Examiner covers Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo and it's first powered flight that occurred yesterday.

This highlights, once again, the market will provide what is demanded, and absent government taxes, regulations, and crowding out we would have certainly seen this happen much earlier than 2013. Whatever the right time is for these projects, we will never know without a free market and it's price system to guide us rationally through the endless number of choices we face. This insight of economic calculation was first brought to us by Ludwig von Mises nearly 100 years ago, and one I stressed in my old Striking at the Root article on NASA.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Are we allowing the terrorists to win?

It would seem so. The level of fear we have allowed ourselves to succumb to is irrational. What message did that lock down of Boston - all for just one criminal - send? Fueling and feeding off this fear is a growing police state. The Patriot Act used to be very controversial, but no more. It, and a host of other radical police/war powers, are institutionalized. While one Senator standing up for 13 hours for the fifth amendment was widely supported, even that very narrow defense of one of our most basic and important rights was viewed as paranoid and dishonest by a large minority of Americans.

America was once a great bastion of liberty and prosperity one could be proud of, despite numerous problem we did have. I can’t say that about modern America. There’s really nothing much “exceptional” left about the USA. Republicans and Democrats, for the most part, are a delusional, destructive bunch hurling us all over a cliff with no parachute. It won’t end well no matter good it feels now. Some of us see the ground below, getting closer and closer.

Friday, April 19, 2013

An Alternative to Politics: Agree to Disagree

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. ~Thomas Jefferson
In my last two posts, I asked 1). how Republicans, given their long record, are better than Democrats, and then 2). briefly explained why I consider Democrats to be completely delusional and destructive. I concluded with a proposal to solve our irreconcilable political differences:
“we should just agree to disagree. Don’t force your ideas on us through the government. Do what you want to yourselves, and leave the rest of us alone”
Opposing agendas cannot be forced on the same region at the same time, much as one cannot move in opposite directions simultaneously. When people compete via democracy to use the government to impose agendas on others, there will be some who are forced to live under an agenda they may largely or entirely oppose.

Our differences are irreconcilable and substantial- we’re talking about completely different rules for society, not a few small quibbles. And that’s why the only solution is agreeing to disagree. You do things your way, and I’ll do things my way. We’ll not try to force our agenda on each other. This is the civilized, moral way to deal with conflicts we cannot resolve.

Of course, this is not a solution in dealing with crime (e.g. theft). Force is required to deal with acts of aggression. But all other issues should be subject to agreeing to disagree when we can’t agree.

How can we begin doing this? Presently, most of us are trying to impose our agenda on others, through the government, on millions of people, rather than a more local area. Whenever a “national” agenda is legislated by the federal government, it’s being imposed on hundreds of millions of people over a vast area of millions of square miles.

Therefore, one way we can begin agreeing to disagree is to restore a federal system of government as the Constitution originally gave us. Issues that have been dealt with at the “national” level can go back to more local regions. Of course, we should not stop with our decentralization there. Further localization is surely desirable, right down to the individual level.

Take the New York “soda ban” for example. I believe this is extremely stupid policy, and a violation of the rights of anyone living there. I would advocate decentralization, allow individuals or restaurants to decide whether to ban sodas for themselves, i.e. repeal the soda ban. But look on the positive side; though it’s not much of one for New Yorkers: the soda ban is not being imposed on the rest of the state, let alone the whole country. So at least we have a partial case of agreeing to disagree.

Our differences are much greater than a soda ban. As I said, we envision completely different rules for society, because of our fundamentally different understandings of economics and individual rights. Ignoring this and attempting to bind everyone under centralized political control is a recipe for friction, irrationality, and mass injustice. Let’s work to take issues out of politics and deal with them between each other, agreeing to disagree when that isn’t possible.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gun Control Shot Down

Unfortunately, these days liberty does not score many victories, but there are exceptions. One of the most organized attacks by the gun controllers in the last twenty years was repelled in a Senate vote last night.

It’s hard to overstate how thoroughly they were defeated. Their campaign was revived when they decided take advantage of the tragedy in Newtown, but it took over a month before the new Congress was settled in and the President decided on his goals. Attempts to renew “assault weapons” bans were ditched when it became clear that the votes were not there. And now, after five months of work, the rest of their agenda was given a kick to the curb, with the help of several Democrats and most Republicans. Even if the Democrat-controlled Senate had passed it, the bill would have been DOA in the House.

They cannot be allowed the slightest victory. Give them an inch and they will take a mile. They don’t have the support to pass their agenda now, but they will keep trying. So we must keep fighting, and not just on the defensive. Liberty has lost much territory to gun controllers and the rest of the statist agenda. It’s not enough to defend what’s left, we need to actually go on the offensive and recapture what has been lost – stolen – from us. That means repealing gun control that is in place now, at all levels of government.

We will always have guns, and unfortunately, human nature is such that murder will always be a problem. It's unfortunate that gun controllers want to disarm the innocent and embolden criminals. The solution is not more guns, though that's what gun controllers ironically bring about, by threatening to make future gun purchases more expensive. The solution may be called "more gun rights", though it is better understood as follows: Respect the natural right to both own property (including guns) and use it however you like, provided you don't violate other's rights. When our rights are respected the cost of committing a crime increases, as the criminal cannot know who is packing heat and the people do not fear legal trouble for merely exercising their rights. When our rights are not respected the criminal gets the advantage, as he ignores the government's decrees and thus is not constrained by them as much as the rest of us.

It's embarrassing that gun controllers, despite some good intentions, are actually helping the criminals and hurting everyone else. That's why they must be defeated. Liberty is the only sensible idea, once again.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Democrats: Delusional and Destructive

In my last post I questioned the point of being a Republican, since the record shows nothing but increasing government power for decade after decade. Republicans always promise “smaller government”, but clearly are not delivering. In this post I will turn my attention to the Democrats.

The only good thing about Democrats is they aren’t very dishonest about their goals. They say they want to grow the government, and they do just that. Actually, no; they are dishonest too. They were supposed to be the party to stand for civil liberties and less militarism. This illusion has enabled them to get away with the opposite, institutionalizing radical republican policies are introducing new extreme policies, including codifying indefinite detention, due-process-free assassination of American citizens, and war without any Congressional approval.

So maybe there is nothing good about the Democrats. One would surely think so after considering what happened at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Someone went around asking various delegates and other attendees if they would support a federal ban on corporate profits. Repeat, a federal ban on corporate profits. Easy, that proposal was roundly rejected, right? Wrong. About a quarter of them said yes. Another quarter said meh, let’s go halfway and just cap profits. It’s stunning that so many Democrats are willing to embrace such an extreme, idiotic idea without thinking at all.

This episode highlights the where Democrats are most delusional. Democrats and economics are like water and oil. What they want is destructive to everyone, including the people they always talk about helping: the poor, the middle class, seniors, college students, women, African Americans, and all other groups they pander to. Democrats do help some people, though; and ironically, it’s the rich (or some of them, anyway) and big business. A perfect example of this is the minimum wage- which outlaws jobs for those with the least skills and eliminates some competition for those higher up the ladder.

The Democrat’s concept of liberty is a confusion of liberty with the freedom that comes from affluence. They think it’s about equality and having enough to enjoy some minimum standard of living. I have nothing against these ideas but they are not what liberty is.

There is no room for real private property in Democrat world, where a massive, centralized, hyper-interventionist state is needed for survival. For them, it’s even okay for the government to prevent a business from selling a 20 oz. drink to a customer. Which just serves to highlight that nothing is off limits, in principle they have conceded absolute power to the state. Their complaints about people wanting to end their sacred ‘right’ to kill the unborn rings hollow for this very reason, not to mention the question of whether abortion is murder (it is). “It’s her body”, they say. Well, it’s her restaurant, too.

Democrats won’t like this post and will disagree with the adjectives I describe their ideas with, but it is fair commentary. Maybe I should have been friendlier? No, sorry, not with what they are doing to us. Democrats, your delusional ideology is destroying America.

What’s the solution? Democrats are unlikely to change their minds, so we should just agree to disagree. Don’t force your ideas on us through the government. Do what you want to yourselves, and leave the rest of us alone. Then I’ll have much more respect for you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What’s the Point of Being a Republican?

No need to type a thousand words. The picture says it all. It shows government spending, corrected for inflation and population. A chart showing the total number of government regulations over the years would look similar.

Yet Republicans are supposed to be the lesser of the two evils. How so?

The only good thing about the Republican Party is a few real defenders of liberty are able to get elected, like Congressman Justin Amash. The most famous example is of course Ron Paul. Meanwhile, 100% of elected Democrats I’m familiar with are absolutely terrible. Republicans, maybe just 99% are bad.

I still remember the tea party from a few years ago. It gave me hope because it was not just going to oppose Democrats but also some of the bad Republicans. Maybe we were finally going to end the regressive course seen in the chart posted above and start shrinking the state. Unfortunately I was mistaken. Most so-called tea party politicians and voters are just a subset of the GOP.

The reason for Republican failure is simple. Republicans agree with Democrats: maintain and increase government power. Just admit it. If that is not true for you, what are you doing supporting Republicans? Your actions speak louder than your words. At least be honest and stop disguising your agenda as something it is not.

So, Republicans, am I not right? What is the point of being a Republican? It’s an honest question.

Monday, April 8, 2013

STRATEGY: Three Essential Guidelines for the Liberty Movement

Ron Paul attracts support from a diverse group of libertarians, constitutionalists, ‘conservatives’, and some ‘liberals’. Even anarcho-capitalists, the “purest” libertarians out there, respect and support Ron. As many of you know, though, pretty much no other politician has been able to do this.

Working almost alone for the majority of his career, Ron Paul didn’t get his agenda through Congress, and he never gained much power as a politician, only becoming a subcommittee chairman in his last term. Up till recently, most people would have concluded that he labored in vain. They would have argued, perhaps, that he should have compromised to get more power. He could have worked up to a top position in the House, Senate, or even the White House had he gone that route, but his hands and probably his mind would have been tied to a agenda that we would not even recognize. To my surprise, I have noticed some people in the liberty movement don’t quite understand this.

Ron Paul followed three strategic principles throughout his political career. As a result, he changed millions of minds and kept his integrity and credibility. He did far more than one Congressman could have been expected to accomplish. Imagine what would happen if there were more like him? What could two, ten, or fifty “clones” of Ron Paul achieve?

There can be more. We need only find effective ambassadors for liberty that will adopt a strategy based on those three guidelines, which Murray Rothbard talked about in his exceptional article “The Case for Radical Idealism”:
  1. Whatever the means to the end are, an ultimate goal should be clearly upheld
  2. Strive to achieve the goal as rapidly as possible
  3. No steps should ever be taken that contradict the ultimate goal
This is what Ron Paul did for decades, and it is what we should expect of ourselves and especially all “Ron Paul Republicans” that seek public office.

What is the ultimate goal? That’s up to you. You don’t have to be a “purist libertarian” (though I wouldn’t discourage it!). Just figure out what your ultimate goal is- and constantly uphold it- despite the fact that it will probably not be achieved quickly or in one step. Even as you support baby steps towards your goal, continue to uphold your ultimate goal.

It is worth noting, moderating your ultimate goal, merely because it may be extreme, is to pass up two opportunities: First, the enthusiasm that a logically consistent goal inspires (think Ron Paul’s deep support); second, watering down your demands reduces your ability to sway the ideological matrix in your direction.

Dr. Paul upheld the Constitution and a fairly minarchist vision as the ultimate goal, and acted consistent with it. This is the reason he won support from all of us, including anarcho-capitalists who want less government than he did and some tea party types who would have more government than him.

To illustrate that we can all adopt this strategy without even being libertarian, let alone anarcho-capitalist, I point you to several more examples: Glenn Greenwald (proud “civil liberties extremist”, but no libertarian) and Jacob Hornberger, Ludwig von Mises, and Gary North (all three can probably be considered “minarchists”).

The conservative movement has failed because their strategy is primarily one of incrementalism. They lack clear goals, urgency, and consistency. Meanwhile, “progressives” and their socialist ilk have followed a more radical and consistent strategy and have implemented much of their agenda. Let’s learn from this, and not allow ourselves or our “Ron Paul Republicans” go down that slippery slope of obfuscation and hypocrisy. There is no shortcut to liberty. As Ron Paul has noted many times, people’s attitude (ideology) must change first. Politics will follow.

“Purity” – consistent support for liberty - is important, but I dare say smart strategy is more important than absolute purity, if we want to make progress. We can disagree on how libertarian we need to be and yet be strong allies and friends because we are employing Ron Paul’s and Murray Rothbard’s effective strategy for radical change.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Canadian Governemnt Steals $10,000 from Someone

Disgusting. Unbelievably, the author of the news article isn't even sure if he can feel sorry for the victim.

(ht Robert Wenzel)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Protecting Restaurants from Food Trucks

If “American” means anything good, then this is surely un-American: politicians restricting some businesses to protect others. What politicians are doing here is not only trying to override the decisions of business owners but also that of customers. This is just a bunch of arbitrary, chaotic intervention that does nothing but hold back progress and prosperity.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013