Archive for the ‘Political Philosophy’ Category

Enemy of the People   1 comment

The Left is very worried about what Donald Trump is going to do to American Democracy. Mark Shields of PBS worries that Trump is going to cause a constitutional crisis.

Image result for image of donald trumpMaybe it has something to do with not voting for either Trump or Clinton, but I don’t care. Really! Yes, I wince every few days over something Trump tweets, but by and large, I don’t see him as more of a danger to American “democracy” than the last several presidents. But there are some people who really, really are convinced of this.

Consider Scott Hamann’s anti-Trump rant, which reveals not only his own beliefs and feelings but also those of many other people. A lot of people agree with him, judging from the steady stream of similar kinds of extreme and outrageous remarks that have been made public. Many of them are divorced from reality.

Speaking of divorced from reality, California Democrat Rep. Nancy Pelosi said President Trump was “turning his back on children and dishonoring God for withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.”  (Here.)

Pelosi’s criticism of Trump has been unrelenting for months now. She recently said “…Republicans in Congress have become enablers of the Trump-Russia assault on our democracy…We have suffered a desecration of our democracy not seen since Watergate. Similarly, Hamann leads off with “Trump was installed by the Russians, because they wanted to undermine American democracy…”

Seriously?

News flash for Nancy and Scott and whoever else subscribes to this alarmism — no matter what labels we attach to the national government of America, that government has been sliding steadily downhill for a long, long time. It is and has been entirely incompetent for a long time. Its domestic and overseas intrusions are abominable and pervasive to the point of evil. The government in its vast ignorance and hubris keeps raising the risks of nuclear war and World War 3. The government’s meddling serves only narrow business interests, oligarchs, bureaucrats, power-hungry psychopaths, busybodies and opportunists. Its interventions corrupt the people, dumb us down, and make us helpless, dependent, mindless and lazy. Whatever progress has been made by the American people has been in spite of the bad actions of our “democratic” government.

Americans should undermine our “democracy”. It needs a strong dose of desecration because it has taken on an entirely undeserved role as a sacred institution. The next marches on Washington should be to downsize the government drastically, to end rules and regulations, to cut out bureaus, to end programs, to lay off bureaucrats, and to eliminate whole departments. The New Deal and the subsequent growth of government built upon it were and remain extremely harmful to Americans and ought to be repudiated. The country needs to engage in a vastly different kind of restructuring of ideas and government. The alternative is decline and eventual loss of what we claim we want to preserve.

Trump is no machete against the elitist structure of Washington DC. At best, he’s wielding a penknife against selected parts of the overall jungle that is the federal government. What we really need is a fleet of chainsaws. Truthfully, Trump is fertilizing and watering some of the most egregious parts of the tyranny garden. The vocal extreme protests against him from Left and Right measure the depths to which a large portion of the population has sunk as its “democracy” has deteriorated into an unholy mess of corruption reaching into every state, county, city, town, village and hamlet. There is no one and no place that the workings of “the people” and “their democracy” have not corrupted. There is no redemption from this evil except return to basic principles of self-governance that have been rejected in the pursuit of mistaken ideas of societal perfection.

Schaeffer Cox Appeal Hearing   Leave a comment

I am glad that a defense attorney finally went after the central issue here … how can someone be found guilty of plotting to kill fictitious people? If that’s really against the law, there are a lot of novelists who should be serving time in prison.

Schaffer was guilty of being a loud-mouth with a big imagination who failed to recognize a new “friend” was an FBI informant who was inserting outrageous scenarios into every conversation so he could record over 200 hours of conversations in order to cherry-pick a few sections that made him look like he wanted to commit murder when he didn’t.

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.

One Toe over the Line   Leave a comment

I’ve never really been into plays featuring political satire, but I used to be a fan of late-night comedians who poked fun at politicians and politics in general.

I don’t watch many these days. It’s just too vicious and not very funny anymore. Johnny Carson poked fun at every president, regardless of party. Jimmy Kimmel, not so much.

I am a fan of Shakespeare, however, and would love to see Julius Caesar acted live … well, except maybe not the version put on by The Public Theater for this year’s lineup of Shakespeare in the Park. In the modern retelling of the play, the theater group chose to create a clear reference to President Donald Trump as the protagonist. Some friends who live in New York saw that performance and were so shocked by the reference they left the performance.

Image result for kathy gifford trump head“I will not condone any group suggesting that we kill a sitting president,” Dorothy wrote. “I don’t support President Trump, but I won’t support treason either. Of course, they have the right to do what they want … say what they want … but I don’t have to condone it by sitting through their performance.” Dorothy and her husband, long-time devotees of theater, have decided to boycott The Public Theater, not just for this season, but for all future performances.

I’m 99% certain that Dorothy and Gene did not vote for Donald Trump. They both campaigned for Barack Obama on his first outing. I’m not sure about Dorothy, but Gene is a lifelong Democrat who ended his party affiliation when Barack Obama ran for a second term after what Gene, an accountant, thought was an economically appalling first term. He tells me he wrote-in Rand Paul on the 2016 Presidential ballot, which surprised me to no end. The man is in his 70s, changing his electoral preferences because our current system is that broken.

If this play took place in Caesar’s day, it’s likely the members of the theater group would not have lived to hear their reviews. In the weird modern-day world, the New York Times defended the play vigorously, though other media outlets have been more mixed in their response. This is part of the reason I believe we’ve reached a point, both domestically and internationally, where violence has replaced civil discourse.

Certainly the United States is no longer a society of educated (not necessarily schooled) and interested citizens willing to listen to someone else’s viewpoint without retaliating against them in violence and open displays of hatred.

I’m not fan of Milo Yiannopoulos, but I objected to the violence and suppression he faced when he traveled to Berkeley College last year. Students who took issue with Yiannopoulos’ views sought to silence him by attacking the building he was supposed to speak at along with burning objects and hurling debris. Similar behavior occurred when Ann Coulter attempted to speak there, but it also has occurred on other campuses. and even off-campus venues. I”m thinking that wearing a Trump t-shirt outside of a Trump rally is a dangerous thing to do. Universities attempting to encourage discussion of diverse perspectives now look more like totalitarian states rather than places where public discourse is encouraged.

This frightening turn of events most likely will have grave political and social ramifications. This country was founded on the principles of free speech and protection of the right of everyone to speak their minds. Is speech really free when it is designed to silence others? When does free speech become dangerous to society? And, which is more dangerous — the alternative perspectives being silenced or the speech of those trying to do the silencing?

I remember that libel and defamation lawsuits were a big deal when I was a working journalist, but I guess people have given up on countering the outrageous claims of tabloids and inflammatory speech. It appears you can effectively say anything about anyone, public or private, on any platform as long as you don’t intend to act on anything you say and so long as you don’t make someone so mad they take aggressive action against you.

Image result for berkeley riots 2017 imagesBut, hey, Kathy Griffin discovered there are a few faded lines remaining after she posted a sickening photo of President Trump’s decapitated head in her hand. The media actually did chide her for going too far. Still, 50 years ago, that sort of display would have gotten some serious attention by the Secret Service. I suspect had Ann Coulter appeared with an image of Barack Obama’s head in a similar fashion, she would have spent some time in an orange jumpsuit.

The political climate existing today is veering dangerously toward force as a means of silencing opponents rather than a culture of engagement. In an effort to enshrine toleration, a pluralistic culture has decided that the only views that should be tolerated are its own, subject to change with every alteration of their collective opinion.

Frankly, it’s a mentality seen on both the left and the right, across the media, and among voters, although there are some Trump supporters who recently showed a great deal of class. Americans increasingly see government as the means to achieve their ends and have become willing to employ its power to force others to comply.

President Gerald Ford said, “We can disagree without being disagreeable,” but nobody seems to listen to him anymore.

Kathy Griffin’s photo was disagreeable. The Public Theater group’s substitution of a Trump-esque Caesar was disagreeable. Trump supporters who punch out their opposition are disagreeable. There was a time when college students used to riot over the administration refusing to allow a speaker on campus. Now, they employ reverse censorship by silencing others through civil unrest or through public displays of murder. Through these means, they exercise their ability to promote censorship of these individuals and their ideals. And that is incredibly disagreeable.

Aristotle once said, “Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms.” We may be nearing despotism. When people produce public displays of ‘staged’ murder of any American citizen, we are all at risk. Anyone associating with that person has been given a message as to how they and their views are seen. 63 million people voted for Donald Trump. Surely, Kathy Griffin and The Public Theater company don’t want to see them dead too? Or do they?

This is the important question that bears asking. Leaders represent the views of the people who vote for them. We have a framework in this country for the peaceful transition of power and we have enshrined such civil rights as the right to peaceful protest and removal from office by vote. The founders knew there would be people of varying political sentiment living in America. Their design was not for open acts of violence to represent how opposing political viewpoints are viewed.

American and global civil discourse is at a crossroads. We can either accept that violence will rule how we interact with others both from behind the protection of our computer screens or openly in the public square or we can decide to rein in intolerance in the name of tolerance.

Once these types of acts become mainstream it is not long before societies devolve into chaos. Liberty-minded individuals know the power of civil public discourse and education. That is how we spread the ideals of freedom. We must start championing these values. We need to end the violence and hatred before a despot decides to end it for us.

The Social Contract   Leave a comment

The 7th in Joe’s series on Natural Rights. Lela

Source: The Social Contract

The Social Contract

[NOTE: This is the seventh in a series of posts intended to work out the principles of Natural Law. It builds off of the posts that have come before it.  If you have not already read The Natural Right to Contract, I strongly suggest that you do so before reading this post, as this post is a continuation of the former and everything that comes before it.  I also ask that you understand, while this is not technically a formal argument, neither is it a casual argument.  Thus, it is not necessarily the easiest thing to read, but then, this is because I am trying to explain some difficult concepts in a manner as easily understood as I know how.  I trust that you will bear with me.  In return, I will break the whole into smaller, more easily digested posts.]

Image result for image of social contractNow that we have established a definition for Natural Rights; learned how to extrapolate them from our primary Natural Right of free will; discovered that how we act toward each other regarding these rights creates universal morality; and discussed how our natural right to contract cannot be used to give up our Natural Rights or demand that others give up theirs; and discovered how willingly agreeing to do something for another can create a personal duty to the person with whom we contracted; now we have to deal with a reality of life – there will always be people who chose to violate the Natural Law governing individual Natural Rights.  This is why we create communities, States and Nations: so that we can help each other protect our individual Natural Rights and liberty from those who would otherwise trample them.  When we do so in accordance with Natural Law, the communities, States and Nations we form are created by an extension of our individual Natural Right to contract with each other.  Taken together, we call this the Social Contract.

The Social Contract is that agreement to which every individual belonging to a given community willingly agrees in order to benefit from a collective effort which can justly be aimed at serving only one purpose: the equal protection of the individual rights and liberty of every individual party to the contract.  Essentially, a person grants the community (i.e. government) the authority to exercise certain aspects of their free will on their behalf.  Instead of exercising the individual right of self-defense, by agreeing to the Social Contract, individuals agree to set up a cooperative system of laws, courts and associated enforcement systems.  It is from this willing agreement to limit our individual free will and to grant limited authority to exercise and protect it on our behalf that all just government derives and maintains its authority over a community.  Should the government abuse its authority, the individuals who created that government retain the authority to alter, replace or abolish it through the inalienable nature of the Natural Rights.

Now, a person need not agree to the terms of the Social Contract, but that individual needs to understand that, should they choose not to agree to it, they are not entitled to any of the benefits of the contract.  They are not entitled to the benefit of whatever courts that community creates; to the mutual protection of the police, fire fighting services or any other civil assistance; to any military defense the community may organize: they are not entitled to anything that community has promised to each other as a term of the Social Contract which formed and governs it because they are not Party to the contract.  That means they have no rights under it.  At the same time, every member who agrees to the Social Contract that forms and governs their community willingly creates a Natural Right for the rest of the community against which they can justly demand the individual comply with the terms to which they agreed.  Harkening back to our last post on the Natural Right to contract, we also see that the individual creates a duty for themselves toward every member of the community as an extension of their act of free will that made them Party to the Social Contract.

In other words, if I agree to join a community, I have agreed that I will willingly do everything the contract demands of me – so long as they are in accordance with the limitations of Natural Law.  What’s more, when I agree to be Party to the Social Contract governing a given community, that act of my free will extends a Natural Right to each member of the community against which they can justly demand and even force my compliance.  This is how I become subject to the laws of that community: because I agreed to subject myself to them as part of the contract (remember, there are limits on what the contract can demand).  Finally, as an inherent part of my agreeing to be part of the Social Contract, I also create a personal duty to each member of the community.  I am bound – by Natural Law – to perform these duties to the best of my ability, whether the rest of the community does the same or not.  This is part of what it means to be a citizen: to be a self-governing equal in the maintenance and operation of a free and self-governing community and to conduct one’s self according to the Natural Law governing the behavior of every individual within that community at all times.  And, when called upon to do so, to defend the individual rights and liberty of every individual in the community, be it by participating in the civil and criminal justice system, or the community’s military organization.

Now, just as there are limitations on the Natural Right to contract, there are limitations of the Social Contract.  One cannot grant an authority through the Social Contract that an individual does not possess.  In other words, you can only give the government authority to do on your behalf that which you have an individual Natural Right to do on your own.  Nor can you agree to give up, or demand that others give up their Natural Rights as part of the Social Contract.  And most important, the whole can never become greater than the sum of its parts.  In other words, the community which is created by the Social Contract is the equal creation and servant of each individual that agreed to create it.  It owes an equal duty to every individual in the community, and is equally bound to every individual.  It can never become greater than any one person, or even the sum of every individual within the community.  The community is nothing more than the function of the Social Contract.  It is not and can never become an entity in itself, and allowing it to even be thought of in this manner is a violation of Natural Law.  When it is allowed to actually function as a living being, then that is an abomination to Natural Law which will devour Natural Rights and Liberty to feed itself.

This is the essence of the Social Contract which forms a society and grants just authority to that society’s government, and the limitations which govern the extent to which this Social Contract can reach.  In our next post, we will discuss the glue that binds this all together.

Small Business Cheers   Leave a comment

You’ve probably heard the hysterical wailing and gnashing of teeth in the media following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Dogs will be mating with cats and polar bears with penguins any day now. It’s the end of the world as we know. President Trump cited a National Economic Research Associates’ study in his speech and  the New York Times, in one of its most hyperbolic editorials in recent years, heaped disgust and disdain on the citation of this study:

“Mr. Trump justified his decision by saying that the Paris agreement was a bad deal for the United States, buttressing his argument with a cornucopia of dystopian, dishonest and discredited data based on numbers from industry-friendly sources.”

Image result for image of climate changeThe study (which you should read and decide for yourself, but I found credible … and alarming) speculated that meeting the emissions targets could cost 2.7 million jobs, with manufacturing hit particularly hard. Overall growth would suffer. Professional economists today are skeptical of such studies, and the authors definitely hedged their bets while writing it, but you don’t even have to read such studies to know that more industrial controls via government will cost jobs and productivity. That should be common sense and history bears it out. Financial market’s responded positively to Trump’s move to withdraw, which makes you wonder what the media hysteria is about.

What exactly did we decide to opt out of? The US declined to plot decades of mandatory, top-down regulations governing the precise pace of technological innovation concerning greenhouse gases. That appears to have reduced some economic anxiety, perhaps even made some businesses breath a sigh of relief.

As someone who lives in a cold climate where heating our homes is not something we can choose not to do, I know I felt a bit of relief to know that bureaucrats in Paris would not be driving up the cost of the fuel I require to heat my home in an attempt to control the global climate.

 

Image result for image of climate change debunkedThe New York Times’ freak-out makes it seem that to be “friendly” to “industry” is enough to discredit what you say. You don’t need to know what was said and you certainly needed look at the data they used to support their conclusion. Knowing they’re “industry-friendly” is enough to disqualify any opinion, no matter how well supported, they might have. It’s like arguing economics with a socialist who uses the Marxist trick of dismissing any economic logic on grounds that its source is a member of the bourgeoisie and therefore intellectually trapped and unable to see socialist truth.

So any study paid for by those most affected by a policy must automatically discredit itself. “Industry” is supposed to be a bad thing. To be “friendly” to “industry” is proof enough that no one should ever pay attention to what you say.

But if you read the editorial, you see the NYT’s then complains that Trump ignored the advice of top industry “experts”:

Perhaps most astonishing of all, a chief executive who touts himself as a shrewd businessman, and who ran on a promise of jobs for the middle class and making America great again, seems blind to the damage this will do to America’s own economic interests… America’s private sector clearly understands this opportunity, which is why, in January, 630 businesses and investors — with names like DuPont, Hewlett Packard and Pacific Gas and Electric — signed an open letter to then-President-elect Trump and Congress, calling on them to continue supporting low-carbon policies, investment in a low-carbon economy and American participation in the Paris agreement.

 

Image result for image of climate change debunkedWell, that’s interesting. Elon Musk (Tesla) resigned as an advisor in the Trump administration in protest of the Paris pullout. Most CEOs won’t go that far, but many of the heads of the largest US companies are on record in support of the Paris climate agreement. Again, the New York Times reports:

Many prominent business executives have advocated for policies to address climate change. They’ve made the case not just on environmental grounds but on commercial ones, saying that American competitiveness would suffer if the United States abdicated leadership on climate.

It’s an entirely different picture among small- and medium-sized businesses, which make up 90% of the employers in the nation. Loud cheers went out among these owners and managers when Trump pulled out. A report from Toledo, Ohio:

“While multinational corporations such as Disney, Goldman Sachs and IBM have opposed the president’s decision to walk away from the international climate agreement, many small companies around the country were cheering him on, embracing the choice as a tough-minded business move that made good on Mr. Trump’s commitment to put America’s commercial interests first.”

What could possibly cause such a split? It really comes down to crony capitalism. Large companies are fine with the regulations, and even advocate for them. Smaller companies employing a few hundred people – which account for half of private sector employment – are almost universally opposed. There really is no such thing as “industry interests” in the political arena. There are well-connected big businesses versus everyone else. I’m in favor of the free market, but we need to be honest that the political influence of big business is not always in the best interest of everyone else.

 

Image result for image of climate change debunkedFor more than 100 years, big business has lobbied extensively for more intense government controls over trade, enterprise, labor, and property in general. Go on. Read some history which will show that government controls can benefit existing companies in the competitive process while hobbling upstarts and innovators. The large, established businesses can bear the new costs while their smaller competitors cannot.

And, thus we have a political split between big and small business over the Paris climate agreement. Whenever you hear that politicians are gathering “stakeholders” from the “business community” to find out their thoughts, become suspicious. That word “stakeholders” is synonymous with “special interests”. The interests of large companies are frequently different from the interests of free enterprise in general.

Why would the “progressive” voices at the New York Times weigh in on behalf of large business against smaller business? Well, it is itself a big business, which means … no matter what they pretend, they aren’t on the side of the “little guy”. Historically, progressives and corporate interests have often linked arms to build the state at the expense of everyone else. This includes the legions of activists who believe they are fighting for the little guy when in reality they are rigging the system to favor elites. If you drill down just a bit to the pressure-group politics behind the Paris agreement you find a partnership of government, various corporate interests, and ruling class intellectuals trying to skew the system in their favor.

The Paris agreement is not really about magically manipulating the global climate to take a certain shape in another century. That’s probably not even possible, given the size of the global climate, our current technological level and the fact that the planet has cyclically warmed and cooled for billions of years without any help from humans. We might as well just start throwing our virgin daughters to the the god Hephaestus in the same way the ancient Germans did to Ullr back when the glaciers were encroaching in the alpine meadow. It’ll have just about the same effect. And in reality, that is what we would be doing if we crippled the US economy to satisfy the Paris climate agreement … sacrificing our children’s future in order to appease an idol of man’s imagination. By choosing not to walk lockstep off an economic cliff, the United States keeps its options open. It can still try to affect the climate through environmental improvements, but without shipping trillions of dollars to the 3rd world that we might need to adapt to infrastructure damage and other issues tied to global climate change.

 

No Crisis in the Cheap Seats   Leave a comment

I’m less concerned about Donald Trump’s antics than most of the people I know. It might have something to do with my choosing to “throw my vote away” on a third-party candidate who couldn’t win rather than on either of the two bad choices available this time around.

Image result for image of a fan watching a hockey fightBut listening to the mass media hysteria about Trump’s antics, you could easily get the impression that America is is in the throes of a crisis. Democrats stonewall Congressional legislation and dream of impeaching Trump out of the presidency. The Republicans are in panic mode that they will lose their majorities in the House and the Senate in 2018 because Donald Trump is eating away at their credibility and legitimacy, which they need to get anything done in terms of ObamaCare, and tax and regulatory reform.

The media is in its own frenzy, especially in the left-of-center press. Day-in-and-day-out, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker and CNN assure the citizenry and readers and viewers around the world that the Trump presidency is in chaotic disarray, trending towards unconstitutional authoritarianism, and threatening the free press in the United State. He’s supposedly pushing the country to the verge of international conflicts in various parts of the world and acting as partner or puppet to Vladimir Putin in Russia.

Judging by this coverage, the people of the United States must be psychologically, socially and economically paralyzed by all the controversies, conflicts, and confusions enveloping all that is happening in Washington, D.C.

But … no … out here in real-world land, people are getting up every morning and going to work. Production goes on the same as before Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017. Goods roll out of the manufacturing plants and facilities and onto the retail outlets where the consuming public continues to compare, choose and buy.

Parents are still driving their young sportsmen and -women to recreational facilities to play organized team activities. Summer vacations are being planned. Construction sites are still busy building new residential homes, office buildings, and new or expanded manufacturing units.

Politics comes up in various conversations, and political discussions have become more tense, confrontational and argumentative in some circles in the Age of Trump. There are some people you just avoid, but for the most part, people talk about sports events, family activities, movies and all the other affairs of ordinary, daily life.

The vast majority of Americans are mostly uneffected by the events in Washington, D.C. Government taxes, regulates, intrudes, surveils, and in general makes life more frustrating, costly and less free than it could be and that leaves many of us wishing government would do less or none of these things, leaving people more liberty to go about their individual peaceful, personal and private business.

American society has not been sucked into a vortex of political paralysis because of Donald Trump’s personal antics and verbal rants on Twitter.  We don’t even care about his making up words on Twitter. The country is not frozen like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car due to the rhetoric from and rancor between the Republicans and Democrats in Congress.  Everyday life is bigger than politics, even in our epoch of the pervasive interventionist-welfare state and national security state.

Yeah, there is danger and damage from the enveloping straight-jacket of growing political paternalism and regulatory cronyism. Those things concern me quite a lot, but “society” generally remains greater than the “state,” though the balance between the two shifts in the state’s favor with every extension of political control and command over people’s personal, market and social interactions.

Outside of politics and the presidency, Donald Trump is a fast-talking, deal-making blowhard, who apparently has learned how to navigate the real estate markets to make millions. He has searched for market opportunities, but has also used government means to achieve his ends when they have been available to include in his “deal making.”

The world went on before Donald Trump became president and will continue after he has left that high political office, though perhaps in a less entertaining way. 

The supposed “crises” of political leadership, the anger and frustration that that  “man” is in the White House rather than “our” experienced, qualified, and forward-looking candidate who should have been the first woman president of the nation, has horrified “progressives,” shocked Congressional Democrats, and driven the left media into attack mode. But for most of us in our homes and workplaces, about our regular activities, it doesn’t matter at all.

Politics and government policies matter only insofar as the political battle lines over who runs various levels of government and what that power is used for have very real influences on the direction, form, and prospects for society. Especially in the 24-hour news cycle, it’s easy to forget that “society” is different from the “state.” What goes on in each is based on two distinct principles of human association: voluntary agreement versus compulsory direction.

In the competitive marketplace, human beings interact on the basis of peaceful and mutually agreeable association. In the political arena, human relationships are based on command and control, with those in governmental office able to impose coercive regulations, restrictions, and redistributions which the people are bound to obey or accept under the threat of force.

It is the private sector, however hampered and constrained by government, that produces the goods and services available to all of us.

In a free society with government limited to a few essential functions, primarily the protection of life, liberty and honestly-acquired property, the sphere of political presence and influence on society is limited and non-intrusive in the affairs of the large majority of people. A historian once noted that before the First World War, a British subject could live in London their whole life and never come into contact with the state beyond the constable walking his rounds and the occasionally inconvenience of jury duty.

Today the state is pervasively present in our daily affairs in numerous visible and invisible ways. We notice government when:

  • the cashier rings up the applicable sales taxes at the checkout counter
  • the government dictates the wage a businessman must pay a worker
  • the government dictates how a businesswoman may organize hers production activities and market a product
  • when we need zoning and building permissions from a local regulatory commission to repair or modify our home or other property
  • when we have to apply for a passport to leave the country and declare if we are returning to the United States with more than $10,000.

Less visible to most of us as we go about our daily affairs is the extent to which the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the forms of transportation we use, the design and content of many of the products we buy, or the services we use have all been restricted, commanded or controlled in some way by the vast network of governmental bureaucracies that surround and have power over everything we do.

But nonetheless while the encroaching presence of the state touches all of our lives, the “private sector,” though hampered and constrained by government, produces the goods and services available to all of us, and generates the employment opportunities which enable us to earn the income that allows us to buy all the things we wish to purchase from all the other producers in the marketplace.

The political crises and conflicts that fill the mainstream media concern the attempts of politicians, bureaucrats and special interest groups to interfere with the nature and normal flow of events and peaceful human interaction by introducing regulatory, fiscal and monetary policies that redirect society and the market from the course and patterns they would follow if determined by only all of those private individuals going about their daily market business.

Just think of the headlines of the last several months since Trump assumed the presidency of the United States. Put aside the personal dislike and disgust felt by Trump opponents. Focus just on the rhetoric and some of the policy proposals emanating from the Trump White House.

During the campaign, Trump asserted that he planned to remove the United States from the role of global policeman and restrict American foreign activities to an “America First” agenda. After the election, he brought on advisors who represent the traditional foreign interventionist outlook that has guided U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Second World War. Trump is just as interventionist in his actual policies as George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The professional diplomats, the network of foreign policy think tank and NGO “experts,” and the bureaucrats in the State Department who saw their role, influence and power threatened based on the statements and promises made by Trump during his campaign are now “leaking” about Trump’s statements and missteps in the arena of international affairs. What better way to undermine an administration that challenges their belief that they know best how the world should work. How dare this upstart threaten their enjoyment of all the benefits that come with being among the elite attempting to re-engineer society and create a global plan for humanity.

On the domestic front, the left-of-center media creates the impression that Donald Trump is about to end the re-distributive state. Libertarians ought to be cheering, but we’re not. Why not? In reality, Trump has no desire or intention of repealing the welfare state. He has made it clear that he wishes to preserve and protect Social Security, Medicare, a “reformed” version of “ObamaCare,” and implement a more school choice-friendly agenda with taxpayers’ dollars at the Department of Education.

Sounds like a mildly incremental approach in the right direction, but politicians, bureaucrats, and special interest groups that live off and control the existing system prefer to more intrusively extend it over society for their own personal and ideological ends and purposes. It’s all a matter who will control the levers of power and the direction the bureaus, agencies, and departments take, along with the hundreds of billions of dollars that come with those regulatory, redistributive and spending powers.

So the “national crisis” in Washington, D.C. is really a crisis between the “refined,” “polished,” and “progressive” political establishment versus a crude, rude, “stream of consciousness” crony capitalist who has the audacity to listen to the people who voted him into office. The “enlightened” can’t allow that because they KNOW how America should be ruled and guided for the good of humanity.

Take these two warring political factions out of the social nexus and America would do just fine. Do away with the interventionist-welfare state and there would be no power, privilege or plunder for these factions to fight over at the domestic level. There would be nothing to regulate, redistribute or manipulate. There would be no levers to pull or dials to turn to make people act and do things in ways they would peacefully chose if left to their own personal, social, and free market choices.

“America” is not paralyzed or in “crisis.” Americans are just going about their business everyday in their agreed-upon associations and exchanges, trying to the best of our ability to ignore and overcome that intricate web of government intervention that restricts, restrains and co-ops many of the choices and relationships we otherwise would freely pursue and undertake if government simply got off our backs and out of our way.  It is the politicians and political plunderers who are apoplectic and in chaos, not the ordinary people.

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