When Opposites Link Arms   Leave a comment

I wrote this in December, but I think it’s still appropriate.

aurorawatcherak

A really progressive, bleeding-heart, socialist social-worker friend of mine voted for Donald Trump.

When she told me that the other day, I was stunned. She enthusiastically voted for Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama BOTH times. Why would she vote for Donald Trump in 2016?

She recognized some strangely implausible similarities between Bernie Sanders, who she absolutely loved, and Donald Trump, who wasn’t Hillary Clinton. Yeah, I saw those too, but it wasn’t enough to make me lose my mind in the voting booth. Maybe you had to love Bernie first and really hate Hillary, but I was dumbfounded.

So, I mulled it over. On the surface, Sanders and Trump represent opposite extremes … Sanders the socialist would have attempted to end mixed capitalism as we know it while Trump is a consummate businessman … Sanders would have increased taxes on the “wealthy” to unsustainable levels so as to…

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Posted August 17, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Blinking Lights Hero Helps Save Liberty—Again! | Lawrence W. Reed   Leave a comment

Image result for image of Zofia RomaszewskaEarlier this week after days of mass protests in Poland, President Andrzej Duda vetoed two bills that would have severely compromised the independence of the country’s judiciary, particularly that of the Supreme Court. Duda’s own party had put the measures forth, making his surprising, courageous move all the sweeter for lovers of liberty in Poland. One of them who played a key role in it all is a remarkable woman I first met in 1986 named Sofia Romaszewski (Zofia Romaszewska in Polish).

Source: Blinking Lights Hero Helps Save Liberty—Again! | Lawrence W. Reed

“We asked them to blink their lights and when we then went to the window, all of Warsaw was blinking.”

All of Warsaw Was Blinking

For more than three decades I have shared with audiences around the world a story I first learned from Sofia and her late husband Zbigniew when I secretly spent an evening with them in communist Poland. The two had only recently been released from prison for having run an underground radio during martial law. Its message was anti-communist and pro-freedom. When I asked them in November 1986 how they knew if people were listening and supportive when they were broadcasting, Sofia said, “We asked them to blink their lights and when we then went to the window, all of Warsaw was blinking.”

You can read more about the famous “blinking lights” story here.

Sofia is now 76. Her husband Zbigniew became a member of the Polish parliament when the communists were swept from power in 1989 and served until his death in February 2014. Three friends and I visited them in a free Poland in 2003 and I’ll never forget the kindness they showed us at their summer cottage in the Tatra Mountains near Zakopane, seventeen years after my initial interview of them.

Eternal Vigilance

Sofia was a hero 35 years ago, and she’s a hero again today.

Referring to Sofia by name, the July 25 edition of the Wall Street Journal reported, “The laws, she said, would return Poland to an era when courts took orders from the ruling party, as they did under Communism.” She knows what she’s talking about, from personal experience. Sofia was a hero 35 years ago, and she’s a hero again today. You can see photos and video of her this week with President Duda herehere, and here.

One of several organizations in Poland that FEE collaborates with is a student group called KoLiber, and its president is a good friend, Mikolaj Pisarski. KoLiber was among the first pro-market private groups in the country to issue a statement in defense of the rule of law during the recent controversy that Sofia helped to resolve. By e-mail, Mikolaj offered this comment:

“As Aristotle famously stated in his Politics, “it is more proper that law should govern than anyone of the citizens.” Ironically the party revering “The Law” in its very name wanted to completely ignore this wise advice. The current set of bills “reforming” Common Courts, the National Council of the Judiciary of Poland and the Supreme Court would have effectively centralized all power within hands of the Minister of Justice (who in Polish case is also Prosecutor General).

He would have gained power not only to halt already running terms of office of appointed judges but also would be able to arbitrary nominate judges on all levels of the judiciary system: from Presidents of Common Courts all the way to Supreme Court judges. These proposed laws represented a serious threat to the Rule of Law.

We at KoLiber urged Parliament to reject the bills and then when they passed, we asked the President to veto them. Luckily the President, himself a lawyer and a former member of Law & Justice, mustered the courage to veto two out of the three bills, opening a path towards much needed systemic and thought-through reform of the Polish judiciary. We applaud the President’s vetoes and Zofia Romaszewska for her important role in making them happen!”

Thank you, Sofia, for your life commitment to speaking truth to power! Your courage, your heroism, remains a beacon for us all.

For other articles by Reed on Poland and Polish heroes, see:

Posted August 17, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Liberty, Uncategorized

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Announcing New Project   Leave a comment

Grand Chart BannerBreakwater Harbor Books author Lela Markham’s short “Grand Chart” has been accepted into the Agorist Writers Workshop’s 2017 anthology project Unbound. Watch for this libertarian fantasy featuring 15 authors in November.

“Making voluntaryist principles work in a feudal society with a strong fantasy element was a fun challenge as a writer,” Lela said. “Although this short was more in my wheelhouse than the alternative history short ‘A Bridge at Adelphia’ was last year, it still challenged me to write a short story that includes nontraditional elements for a fantasy, which is what makes these anthology projects enjoyable. Plus, Kath – the main character — is from the Daermad Cycle universe, so fans of the series can learn something about this minor character’s past.”

Lela also reports that she is in the editing phase of her next full-length novel A Threatening Fragility (book 3 of Transformation Project). Are you ready for the government to reassert itself? How do you think the residents of Emmaus will respond? Watch for it around October with a cover reveal event August 30. Join her and sign up for the RaffleCopter giveaway.

Relying on “Experts”   Leave a comment

I have emerged from the writer’s cave once more. I hope you’ve enjoyed the various reblogged articles. Thank you for your patience and I should probably even be back on Twitter when this runs. Lela

 

For April Fools Day of 1957, the British Broadcasting Corporation broadcasted a short segment about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. The “documentary” explained that the bumper crop was due to “an unusually mild winter and to the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil.” The television audience “watched video footage of a Swiss family pulling pasta off spaghetti trees and placing it into baskets. The segment concluded with an enthusiastic “for those who love this dish, there’s nothing like real, home-grown spaghetti.”

Related imageThe BBC reports that “hundreds of people phoned the network wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree.”

Okay, did you know that the word “gullible” is not in the dictionary?

Apparently, 7% of the American public believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows. Yeah, some of us are really that ignorant.

But, wait ….

I know a little bit about a lot of things. Writers research and we’re curious. But I really wouldn’t know how to build a car or manufacture a toaster. So while ignorance can be alarming, is it really so surprising? Few Americans live on farms anymore and most urbanites have never gardened. Many of us use appliances and gadgets with no idea how they are constructed and work. Without the skills, knowledge, and efforts of others, most of us would quickly perish. None of us would enjoy our current standard of living.

Conversely, one of the advantages of living in a modern society is that we don’t need to know how to construct the things we take for granted. We don’t even need to understand how they work. This frees us up to be “experts” in other fields while enjoying the benefits of what others know.

In 2008, British artist Thomas Thwaites set out to make a toaster from scratch. After nine months of mining, smelting, and assembling raw materials, he succeeded in making a rudimentary but extremely expensive and single-use toaster. When he used it for the first time, it melted.

Matt Ridley (The Rational Optimist) summarized the lesson of Thwaites’s toaster:  

To Thwaites this illustrated his helplessness as a consumer so divorced from self-sufficiency. It also illustrates the magic of specialization and exchange: thousands of people, none of them motivated by the desire to do Thwaites a favor, have come together to make it possible for him to acquire a toaster for a trivial sum of money.

Our state of boundless ignorance leads directly to “the case for individual freedom,” Hayek argues in The Constitution of Liberty. Achieving “our ends” depends upon us recognizing that we are ignorant of much of what we need to flourish. Hayek writes:

It is because every individual knows so little and, in particular, because we rarely know which of us knows best that we trust the independent and competitive efforts of many to induce the emergence of what we shall want when we see it.

We live comfortably in a state of ignorance because, in a modern economy, others are free to cooperate and provide for our needs without necessarily even knowing we exist.

The possibility of men living together in peace and to their mutual advantage, without having to agree on common concrete aims and bound only by abstract rules of conduct, was perhaps the greatest discovery mankind ever made. (Hayek in Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume 2)

 

Of course, nowadays, our ignorance is used as an argument insisting we need to be directed by the self-proclaimed wisest among us. Listen to the “experts” because they aren’t ignorant. Really? I’m willing to bet that any expert you look at is personally ignorant in some field in which you are expert. Expertise is usually in a narrow field and outside of that field, the “expert” is just an ordinary ignorant person. So why do we act as if their expertise in some narrow field makes them expert in all fields? Einstein was a great mathematician, but he once lost his ticket on a train and had no idea where he was going.

A part of the push toward technocracy has to do with our desire to control others through government force.

“Humiliating to human pride as it may be, freedom means the renun­ciation of direct control of in­dividual efforts,” Hayek explained. When we renounce controls, “a free society can make use of so much more knowledge than the mind of the wisest ruler could comprehend.”

I may be ignorant in many areas, but when I encounter a field where my ignorance will be a problem, I take it upon myself to become educated on the subject. That’s one reason that I feel free to offer my opinion on so many topics. I may not be “an expert” in that I lack a license and haven’t spent four years studying it in an accredited college, but I know enough on some subjects to know what works and what doesn’t. I can see, for example, that old-fashioned supply-and-demand economics makes more sense in reality than Keynesian voodoo. By and large, I am comfortable with making my own decisions, secure in the knowledge that I can educate myself, weigh the value of the advice derived from “experts” and take the hits if my analysis fails.

There is evidence that a declining percentage of Americans believes that uncoerced cooperation is the best way to satisfy our needs. “According to an April 2016 Harvard University pollsupport for capitalism is at a historic low.” The Harvard poll echoes a 2011 Pew Research Center survey, in which 46% of 18- to 29-year-olds had a positive view of capitalism, and 47% held a negative one. Many of these young people would prefer if the government controlled the economy at the level of individual interactions because they believe people other than themselves are just too ignorant to make their own decisions.

Being ignorant that spaghetti is produced by processing wheat is not inherently a problem, but ignorance of how markets work can become one. The cornucopia of food that predictably appears on supermarket shelves today is the product of a market process in which farmers, manufacturers, trucking companies and supermarkets spontaneously cooperate on our behalf. It’s been feeding us very well for many years. Government would only complicate the functional system. If Americans are ignorant of these invisible market processes, they may support socialism and policies that interfere with the freedom of others to cooperate and create. Just look at how the thriving Venezuela of yesterday became the impoverished, chaotic, socialist Venezuela of today.

Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should all want for bread. (Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, reprinted in Basic Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 1944)

Not knowing how spaghetti or chocolate milk gets made won’t cause starvation, but socialistic inference in the market is causing it in some countries today and could cause it in the US if we don’t curtail our human arrogance and desire to control what others do.

Spying and the Administrative State   Leave a comment

So, I pulled this up from four years ago and thought “I might have written this today.” The administrative state didn’t go anywhere and the puppet masters are still pulling strings. Lela

aurorawatcherak

History can teach us a lot if we study it. For example, the current administration’s spying on American citizens is not new.

I honestly had planned to end my series on the administrative state with my last post, but this came up and it’s timely. The National Security Agency (NSA) has a long history … a Woodrow Wilson history. That’s right. The Great Administrator was responsible for creating the predecessor of the NSA, the Cipher Bureau in 1917 as part of the First World War effort. It was part of Military Intelligence – an executive branch. However, and this is the salient part, the Department of State partially funded it.

Remember what I said about the administrative state’s hallmark features? Whenever you see a department that doesn’t quite fit under one department, you’re looking at the administrative state.

At least as far back as Franklin Roosevelt, the United States presidency…

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Posted August 15, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Come, Let Us Talk and Listen   Leave a comment

I really strongly believe in the right of every human being to state their opinions without fear of retaliation by government or individuals. There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed in that belief. Shouting “fire” in a theater is not an opinion. It’s an incitement to panic. Calling people names has more nuance. If you call someone a derogatory term from 30 feet away, they are responsible to control themselves. If your face is in there and you have a club, they might seek to defend themselves.

Related imageSo neo-Nazi thugs in Charlottsville, Virginia decided to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue by marching in the streets calling “Jews will not replace us.”

I actually mildly oppose the statue removal because I feel like it’s an attempt to scrub history and that doesn’t set well with me, but I have a better idea for our alt-right folks … buy the statue, buy a plot of land, put the statue on the land and stop screaming about it. Really, you could probably do a Kickstarter program and find folks who would fund it for you, but you could also just pass a hood around at the next KKK gathering.

 

These young people clashing in a town with a university founded by Thomas Jefferson imagine that they can change others by marching, waving flags and shouting slogans. It’s not just the alt-right who believe that, but the counter-protesters who are clashing with them also believe it. Please note, folks, that people rarely change their minds about people they oppose when the opposition is driving a boot into their ribs. And, both sides have done that this weekend. There is no good side on this. There’s just violence and aggression.

Many of the young men and women in the alt-right movement come from good homes and, under normal circumstances, would never hurt anyone, but they are a marginalized group that hangs around with others who are similarly marginalized and pretty soon the rhetoric they use to sooth their social pain starts to make sense and it seems reasonable to do the things they do, especially since they see groups like Black Lives Matter get away with smashing shop windows, burning cars and beating Trump supporters. History teaches that no idea is too insane to be off-limits to a group that perceives itself to be powerless through ordinary means of ruling. The means justify the ends

 

But know that the forces arrayed against them also have an intolerant ideology that would seek to subjugate these young men and women and silence anyone who expresses any opinion they deem “incorrect”. They also justify their violence and coercion in the name of “tolerance”, which is pretty ironic because they’re not at all tolerant of diversity of opinion. This burgeoning leftist movement seeks to counter the emerging alt-Right movement by demanding the government crack down further on human rights and freedoms. It’s really a perfect storm for totalitarianism and sort of reminds me of when Hilter stood before the burned-out hulk of the Reichstad and insisted he needed total power to protect Germany from their enemies.

 

What do we who are not caught up in the rhetoric and violence do now? The answer lies in the source of the problem. The huge mess began with bad ideas — bad thinking created by marginalization by a societal elite who doesn’t want to hear any opinions it didn’t approve. The answer to bad ideas is better ideas. We all need to throw ourselves into the intellectual battle as never before.

What are those good ideas?

You’ll find it in the historical progress of the last 500 years. You’ll find there a lot of books and speeches about social harmony, human rights, the aspiration of universal dignity, the conviction that we can work together in mutual advantage, the market economy as a means of peace and prosperity, and, above all else, the beauty and magnificence of the idea of liberty itself.

It’s time to rededicate ourselves to the mission of educating people to understand the left/right cycle is a violent trap that we can escape from if we will embrace liberty and the right of everyone to hold an opinion, even when it is wrong, without fear of physical assault and coercion.

#Free #Fantasy   Leave a comment

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