Archive for the ‘libertarianism’ Tag

Hacking that Bramble Patch   5 comments

If you could write one new law, what would it be?

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We don’t need more laws!

I sincerely believe that. In the United States today, it is estimated that the average adult citizen commits three felonies a day and doesn’t even know it. Our legal system is so complex, that we have made common day activities into criminal enterprises and we have failed to notify people who have engaged in those activities for their entire lives that what they are doing could put them in jail. The only people who are aware of the law are those people who lobbied to have the laws enacted in the first place.

Libertarians are notoriously anti-law. It’s not that we don’t accept rules. Most of us are down with the laws of physics, for example. The non-aggression principle is a rule, after all. We don’t have an issue with structure that makes sense. It’s that we believe laws should be few and easily discoverable through general principles. Should it be against the law to murder your neighbor because he won’t let you date his daughter? Yes, of course. Should it be against the law for you to rape your neighbor’s daughter? Goes without saying.

But why?

Not because someone decided “there ought to be a law” but because your neighbor has a right to live and you’re violating his right to that if you kill him. Your neighbor’s daughter has a right to control her own body and you’re violating that if you rape her. These laws make total sense. Why is it against the law to steal? Because you’re depriving your victim of something that belongs to him – that he might need to survive. If you feel you need something like what your neighbor owns, go out and earn the money to buy it or build it yourself.

All laws should be based on whether the action being criminalized violates the rights of others. We could get into some really complicated discussions about what is a right – but going back to John Locke, a right exists as a function of being a living human being. As part of the autonomy required of you to provide for your own needs, you need to be able to pursue and guard your own life and property. This means, conversely, that others may not try to take your life or property. At the same time, you cannot try to take theirs. You also have a right to what is called “liberty” – to hold your own opinions and to state these in a peaceful manner, for example. That’s a very basic overview of natural rights theory.

A BAD law it took 13 years and countless lives to get rid of

So, what ONE law would this anti-law libertarian pass? Ah, did you know that in order to repeal a law in the United States, you have a pass a law? Go look at the Constitution. The 18th Amendment famously made buying and selling alcohol illegal in the US starting in 1920. It was proposed by well-intentioned people who just wanted to make the world a better place and never thought of the negative consequences of taking away people’s favorite stress-reliever in a country where people are generally law-abiding, but have a deep understanding of natural rights theory because our Constitution is more-or-less based on it.

Within two years, it had become obvious Prohibition was a REALLY BAD idea. It made the whole country into criminals who were proud to break the law. The 18th Amendment turned something unconstitutional (confiscating the personal property of citizens) into something “constitutional” by amending the Constitution. Thus, the only way to get rid of it was to re-amend the Constitution. A constitutional amendment is a law with a (deliberately) very high bar for passage, so it took until 1933 to pass another law (the 21st Amendment) to rescind the REALLY BAD law that was tearing the country apart and legitimizing government tyranny and murder of citizens. That’s where laws are a really bad idea, generally, because unless they’re based on easily articulated principles (i.e., natural rights) they have a tendency to become ingrained and impossible to amend without concentrating the negative consequences. Our extremely complicated and increasingly dysfunction medical system is a prime example. The system wasn’t broken a century ago when the first regulation came into play to, supposedly, “fix” it. We already had one of the best systems existing in the world at the time and we have managed to maintain that foothold, but since the 1970s regulatory laws have distorted a great system into a very expensive system and now we’re looking at making it totally dysfunctional by making it into a government program, as if we can’t see how badly Medicaid, Medicare, Veterans, and Bureau of Indian Affairs handles medical care that are already government programs.

My thoughts on “Medicaid for All”

The lesson we should have learned already is that government doesn’t do much so well as the private sector, but it does medical care far, far worse and we need to just stop, repeal all the laws and regulations and allow the system to reset organically to see if there are actually any problems that need to be addressed rather than creating more problems. But we aren’t going to do that and, in the end, we will destroy the most dynamic medical care system in the world and our kids will never know what it felt like to be able to actually get medical care that doesn’t resembled like the lousy service the Department of Motor Vehicles is known for. We’ll have to travel to Lebanon or Thailand for halfway decent medical care.

Thus, the ONE law I would pass if I had the power is – a Constitutional amendment that would rescind EVERY law and regulation on the books that cannot be directly and clearly linked to the original Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Would that cause chaos? I think a lot of control freaks would panic and demand something “be done” immediately, but the basic laws that we all rely on for the world to function would continue forward. It would still be illegal to murder, rape, steal, kidnap, defraud, break contracts, beat your spouse, riot, arson, etc., because everyone would retain the right to their own life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and be constrained from violating the rights of their neighbors in their pursuit of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Even some pollution and environmental laws would still exist because they can be discovered through natural rights theory and a thoughtful reading of the original Constitution. No, there is no appetite to reinstitute slavery in the United States, so you wouldn’t need the “Civil War” amendments – and getting rid of the 13th Amendment would stop the practice of creating a permanent underclass of felons. Law enforcement would have less to do because a lot of things wouldn’t be artificially illegal anymore. A lot of people who are currently incarcerated would have to be released because their “crimes” would no longer be illegal. A lot of lawyers would no longer have work because companies would not need to consider how what they want to do must be walked through the regulatory process. A lot of economic activity would be freed up for the benefit of ordinary people. In Alaska, according to a University of Alaska economic study, such a repeal would save $2 billion a year in lost economic activity and we’ve got a tiny economy compared to the US economy, where we’re probably talking about annual savings in the trillions of dollars. What it would do is simplify our laws so that Americans would actually be back in control of our own system rather than this Irish “democracy” we are currently forced to live under where if we even know that what we’re doing is illegal, we no longer care and break the law in order to survive..

By the way, this is not a new idea. Alaska Representative Don Young and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul have been working on the REINS Act aimed at regulations. It seems to pass the House every year, but stalls in the Senate. What I am proposing is more far-reaching and eliminates further complicating a system that is fraught with complications already. In reality, I would be passing a law to repeal about 90% of the laws currently on the books. I personally believe this would lead to a much more peaceful, law-abiding and productive society than currently exists.

And appropriately for today, one of the laws that would be repealed would be the 16th Amendment that has us all enthralled on this lovely Monday. I wouldn’t worry to much about that because 90% of what the federal government does is designed to justify its own existence enforcing regulations nobody authorized them to make that require them to spend our tax dollars justifying their agency’s existence. See how that works? If we could just go back to what the Constitution says, we’d all be a whole lot better off – unless you’re a control freak that just has to have power over your neighbor’s activities.

See, libertarians can pass laws — but only if they repeal laws that cannot be justified under natural law or the Constitution.

Posted April 15, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Knowledge Illuminates   6 comments

If you could make one change in the world, what would it be?

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Good heavens! Just ONE? The world is way more complicated than that and you never know what long-term negative consequences even one small change might have.

It’s tempting as a Christian to say I would go back and have Eve not believe the Liar in the garden. Think of the untold pain we would have avoided if she’d chosen to listen to God instead of Satan. But if she hadn’t of disobeyed God, Adam would have … or one of their children. That’s the thing about free will — it is the capacity to do really stupid things and sooner or later, someone would have disobeyed God because it was the only choice (obey or disobey) they had under freewill, so we’d still be exactly where we are. So, I’m not going to waste my fairy wand moment on betting against humans being humanly stupid.

So, I googled the question and found this is a topic and people have a lot of ideas about what “one thing” they think would fix the world. And as I scanned through those lists most of them were either ridiculous (fix time and gravity, really?) or tyrannical (get rid of guns, free speech, political parties, parents raising children, force everyone to send their kids to public school, etc.) or they had severe unintended consequences that immediately leaped into my mind. These are the sorts of ideas that alternative speculative fiction writers eat up – the stuff of shows like “Sliders”. Change one thing and the world we live in might be utterly different. The difference might be good, and those proposing the change always think it will be, but some of us become speculative fiction writers because we can see the negative consequences nobody else wants to acknowledge. Even if things remain pretty much the same, that’s not a beneficial change, so why do it? Because you can and you’d like to control a few billion people? That’s not a sufficient reason to me. And, then there’s always the reminder that the Alaskan butterfly moves its wings and it causes a hurricane in Puerto Rico. I learned there were a lot of tyrants thinking tyrannical thoughts believing they would make a better world if they could just coerce others to their way of thinking, but I really didn’t come up with what one thing I would change if I could.

I made my own list and I kept crossing things out as unworkable, fraught with unintended consequences or tyrannical. As a freewill and natural rights advocate, I kept running up against the notion that I was violating my own principles with this list. I can’t force other people to do what I want and unless I know what the butterfly’s wings will wrought, I have no business with the power to change the universe. I can play around in my fictional worlds as much as I want, but where there are real-world consequences – take the fairy wand away from me and don’t give it to anyone else.

Still, I agreed to write this topic, so …. If there were one thing I would really want to change in the world it would be ….

I’d turn on the intellectual light bulb for people. I’d make them aware of a few simple principles – actually understand them.

  • There is a higher power above your own personal desires – call Him Jesus-God as I do, or something else, but Man (individual and collectivized into governments) is not the highest order in the universe. We will one day be held accountable by the higher power.
  • Only individuals make decisions and, therefore, are responsible for their actions. We exercise rights and have responsibilities. These are not granted by groups. They belong to the individual. Groups are merely a collection of individuals. There’s nothing special about an idea just because more than one person at a time agrees with it.
  • Order does not need to be imposed by a central authority (individuals acting in groups). Groups have no greater rights than the individuals that compose them. The only rules (as in rule of law) we need are those that protect the freedom of individuals to pursue happiness in their own way so long as they are not injuring others. (This is termed “the non-aggression principle” for those who would like to study it further.)
  • Recognize that there is a natural harmony of interests among peaceful, productive people in a just society. Yes, there will sometimes be conflict among individual choices that will require individuals to adjust their plans so as not to aggress upon their neighbors. Individuals in conflict can work that out among themselves with reference to a higher power and the rule of law and so long as they are working it out peacefully, it’s none of their neighbors’ business.
  • Individuals must consistently apply these principles in order for a peaceful and just society to work. You can’t hold two principles to be correct at the same time and you can’t force other people to agree with you simply because you believe you’re “right”.

Okay, so that sounds like five things, but they all five must work together, so they’re really one thing. And I merely propose to turn on the light bulb – to grant the knowledge. The knowledge of those principles doesn’t force anyone to follow them, but once the light illuminates your interior spaces, it’s hard not to see the natural outcomes of tyrannical and inconsistent thinking and start acting to adjust your behavior. I’m speaking from personal experience here. It’s how I moved from political moderate, to conservative, to libertarian, to admiring voluntaryists/anarchists. When you become aware of your cognitive dissonance, you modify your behavior to align with the reality you’ve become aware of.

And, that knowledge, without any coercion or force required, I believe, would make a huge difference in our world without a lot of unintended negative consequences. People with the knowledge that they act as individuals and are personally responsible for their decisions and cannot rely on groups to enforce their wills on the unwilling would change their thinking and that thinking would change their actions and those actions would be peaceful because the initiation of aggression is disallowed. And right there – everybody refraining from acts of aggression (even the ones we currently don’t acknowledge as aggression) would change the world completely and for the better. It wouldn’t stop all conflict, but it would require us to negotiate compromise rather than force it.

Ah, can you feel the stress lifting from the world? I sure can!

Now, I’m really curious about what “one thing” my fellow blog hoppers would change.

Liberty versus Crime   Leave a comment

To a statist, the concept of voluntarism looks like a lot like chaos. We’d have people just doing what they want with absolutely no regard for the people around them. Robbings, looting, murder … it would be horrible!

Image result for image voluntaryismExcept that’s not what voluntaryists are talking about when they say they want liberty. Maybe getting some definitions in order would be helpful.

Crimes are actions that produce victims, which in popular usage can mean almost anything undesirable under the sun. A more principled approach to understanding crime and victim-hood is to narrow the definition to a state in which somebody has been forcefully or fraudulently deprived of life, liberty, or property.

Crime includes such obvious actions like murder, battery, rape, assault, and theft. How particular people define particular instances of these types of action may differ, but for the most part, physically hurting people or taking their stuff is viewed as criminal behavior.

Liberties, on the other hand, are actions that do not produce an identifiable victim. They are actions that people should be free to perform as they do not victimize, in the criminal sense, other people.

Liberty includes a much broader spectrum of actions than does crime. I think we can confidently say that any action that is not criminal is a liberty. Liberties typically comprise 100% of people’s actions day-to-day. Think of anything you do: does it physically hurt somebody or take/damage their stuff? Then it’s a liberty and not a crime.

Liberties may be offensive in the sensibilities sense, but so long as they are not criminal, they should not be prohibited by political authorities. While every property owner may prohibit the liberties enjoyed within their private domain, they may not call upon third parties with guns to prohibit them in other domains.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. Restricting liberties makes up most of the actions that political authorities engage in today. Politicians, eager to get and remain elected, pander to sensibilities and push through laws that not only prohibit crime but, in too many ways, prohibit liberties.

Image result for image voluntaryismWhy? Because people start with the idea that you need government to control crime, but then they feel that they really need to curb the behaviors of others they don’t like. It starts out small, but grows over time and each success at controlling others’ undesirable behaviors emboldens the next attempt. And because liberty-minded people are often busy being free and exercising the benefits of that state, they don’t notice for a good long time that liberty is being lost. So when they finally get around to protesting, they’re told “Well, you never said anything the last dozen times, so you should have nothing to say this time around … or ever. We’re doing this for the good of everyone. You just want chaos.”

But there wasn’t chaos back when the US government was small and mostly powerless, so why would there be chaos now?

Non-Aggression in Politics   Leave a comment

So, it was New Years Day and we were invited to a friend’s house for food and fun. Mostly we paid Risk. There were several people there who we didn’t know and this one woman asked me if I’d signed some Internet petition demanding that President Trump be removed from office.

Image result for image of government aggression

Why, no, I haven’t. So, she assumed I’d voted for Trump and things got a little tense there for a moment. Fortunately, our son was sitting with me at the time and he spoke up before hostilities could resume.

“Nope, she voted for Gary Johnson.”

Thanks, Kiernan. The hostile conversation turned abruptly toward my “utopian” principles. Well, actually, it started with “Who is Gary Johnson?” and sort of went from there.

Image result for image of government aggressionI used to care about politics, but these days, I mostly care about the philosophy behind politics. I came to the conclusion when President Obama and the Democrats took the entire government down the primrose path that voting is the tyranny of a narrow majority against everybody who voted against taking that path. When Obama had a dismal four years as economic leader and foreign policy leader and still won the 2012 election, I realized that our system of elections is apparently rigged. It made no sense to me that state after state had flipped to Republican control at their governor- and legislative levels, but this incompetent was still our president. I had decided at the last moment that I couldn’t support Mitt Romney because until he won the nomination he’d never had more than 40% GOP support and there were some much better-qualified candidates who could have been nominated. So, I voted for whoever was running under the Libertarian ticket at the time. I didn’t expect him to win and there’s no evidence votes for him swayed the Obama-Romney contest at all, but I just couldn’t bring myself to cast a vote between an incompetent and a man who didn’t seem to represent conservatives in the least.

Image result for image of government aggressionSo, in 2016, there were no good choices after the nomination. There were some good choices in the primaries, but that all went away after Super Tuesday. I definitely would have voted for Rand Paul or, had Malcolm O’Malley won the Democratic nomination, I might have voted Democrat against Donald Trump. So, I planned by the weekend after Super Tuesday that I was voting for the Libertarian candidate. I actually think Gary Johnson would have made a good president, though his vice-presidential mate was such a progressive Republican he should have been a Democrat.

This is where I have evolved to over the last few years in the political realm. It was the answer I gave to my host’s sister when she asked me how I could not have taken sides in the election of 2016 and the year following.

I don’t believe that some humans — let’s call them “rulers” — should get moral sanction to use violence against other people – we’ll call them (“the ruled”) — to get what they (“rulers”) want.

If that doesn’t sound controversial to you, you probably agree with me (you’re reading my blog afterall). But it is possible that, like my friend’s sister, you aren’t paying close enough attention to how politics works.

Image result for image of government aggressionAlthough I don’t believe the world is non-violent by nature, I think we should strive to not exert violence on our fellow human beings. Which casts all governments into doubt, because force is the essence of all governments from top to bottom. How did Louis XIV funding the palace of Versailles? Force) When George III raise an army to crush a revolt, he used force to make that happen. Vladimir Lenin redistributed confiscated land by force. Your local police officer enforces any number of laws through the use of threatened force, which amounts to the same thing. In every instance where government operates, you’re talking about people who rely on violence or the threat of violence to achieve compliance for their plans. They ultimately do not ask or require your consent. Their authority ultimately rests on the implied threat that they will beat you up if you don’t do what they say.

Somehow we came to believe that this was a normal state of affairs. It’s not okay to rob people in the park even if it is to pay for mowing the park grass, but it is okay to elect people who rob your bank account for taxes to pay for mowing the park’s grass. I’ve recognized the hypocrisy of that and I reject it. Just because we exert force upon each other through politics rather than guns to the head doesn’t mean we are acting non-violently toward each other. The threat of force makes it violent.

My views are pretty radical because a consistent commitment to non-violence means I don’t think “governments” as we know them should exist. Governments are easily the most organized and pervasive violence-users on the planet. 

Ideals like mine often get confused with utopianism. We’ve all been there. We’ve all heard the refrains – “The world has always been like that,” “Human beings are violent by nature,” and “Human beings always create violent systems/governments, though!” It all boils down to “But that’s utopian!”

With due respect, you’re missing the point entirely.

I believe violence exists and is one of the world’s biggest problems. I even warn you in advance that I believe in the right to self-defense. Since the Fall, humans have been a violent species. Human history is bloody, and we only get better at devising new ways to use violence to kill and manipulate each other. I’m not against violence because I believe that the humans are inherently good or peaceful. We’re not. Treating each other without aggression is not, from my viewpoint, going to make us better at root. We are what we are and we are prone to push each other around. But why shouldn’t we condemn aggression even if we can’t get rid of it?

Why shouldn’t I oppose aggression regardless of our tendency to use it? If humans are indeed corrupt by nature, why wouldn’t I want to limit our access to violence and tools of aggression like government?

Yes, government is a tool of aggression and violence. Consider how a majority of the population was opposed to the ACA prior to its passage, but the ruling class forced us to accept it and now some of us have gotten used to it, regardless of whether others have a different opinion. That was aggression in action – some people (rulers) forcing others (the ruled) do do what the rulers wanted.

Now consider this last year of Trump. What are people rioting in streets for? They fear that the Trump administration will force them to participate in things they don’t want to participate in. And, if they’re right, then government is an instrument of aggression and they are right to resist it.

Think about the problem of police brutality. It existed in the Bush 2 administration, seems to have gotten worse in the Obama administration and has not gone anywhere in the Trump administration. Is the problem who is in charge of the police or is it that the police exist at all? Well, we’ve tried to put different people in charge without a lot of change, so maybe the problem is that the police have the power to conduct violence against everyone else and it is their existence that is the problem.

I don’t think doing away with government will somehow create a society without violence. Human beings will always be able to turn to violence to get what they want. I don’t see a way around it. But that doesn’t mean that reducing government violence would make the situation worse. There’s an awful lot of Americans behind bars for “victimless” crimes that would not be behind bars if police didn’t have a mandate to use violence against them. Those people come out of prison unable to get jobs, which increases their propensity to use violence to get what they need to live. It’s easy to say “if they just didn’t break the law”, but was the law even necessary for a peaceful society and what might happen if we stopped using government to force people to live as we want them to live? You see, my opposition to violence isn’t contingent on a fairy-tale wish fulfillment of a society free of violence. I’m focused on harm-reduction.

There are plenty of things we choose to consistently oppose on ethical grounds: murder, rape, theft, child abuse, etc. These crimes will never go away completely. We don’t make an ethical exception for these acts because they’re inevitable. We condemn them roundly regardless of our inability to completely eliminate them.

So my question is this: why shouldn’t condemn violence even if we can’t get rid of it? So, why shouldn’t we condemn violent governments even if we can’t get rid of them?

 

The accusation of utopianism misunderstands both utopianism and nonviolence.

The actual utopians we’ve seen in history were social planners. They had a vision for a world they would build, usually from the top down. The communists and the Nazis were by-the-book utopians, as have been the social organizers and religious leaders of hundreds of social experiments and colonies. The really earnest utopians loved to use violence (or the threat of violence) to get the magical new world order they wanted. They weren’t nice guys. They made life hell for everyone around them.

 

The non-aggression principle is a counter-cultural ideal, resting entirely on the premise of “non aggression.” It doesn’t rule out self-defense against the violence of others. It’s not a vision for what a society should be. It’s not a plan for how millions of people should make their billions of daily decisions. It’s only a prohibition on one way – the destructive way – to relate to other people. It’s a humble way of living with other humans, and it’s effectively a prohibition on utopianism because it’s grounded in realistic optimism

The history of the world is full of darkness and violence, but there have also been flashes of peace and creativity. I don’t think human nature really changes, but it does vary a lot. The countries with the most authoritarian governments are rarely the most peaceful and creative. Think the USSR or China when it was a full-fledged communist regime. And, truthfully, we’ll probably always have some forms of authoritarian system because some people feel comfortable with governments, gangs, warlords and the like. But just because violence and the systems that organize it won’t go away doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight for the ideal.

 

 

When I ask people to join me in condemning politics, I’m asking them to do the same thing. The great joke about libertarianism is that we are plotting to take over the world and leave you alone. I have no desire to plan a society or create a new human being from scratch. I don’t see utopia ahead. I see a long, slow chain of day-to-day ethical decisions where individuals choose not to agress on one another. Even today, individual people choose in every moment of their political lives whether they will use violence, participate in violence,  or cheer on the “popular” violence done by someone in a government promising them safety or wealth or peace or …. well, name that political campaign.

As for me, I won’t sanction it. Maybe you’ll decide that you won’t either. if enough of us start doing things differently, we might just make the world better. Whether we succeed or not (in our lifetimes or a dozen generations from now), we still have to make a choice for ourselves. I choose non-aggression, and I guess that makes me a radical, but I reject the notion that I am utopian because utopians tend to be aggressive in their attempts to establish the new world order they envision.  

An Adult Finally Enters the Room   Leave a comment

By Bionic Mosquito

A Libertarian Theory of Free Immigration, by Jesús Huerta de Soto

…libertarian doctrine traditionally declared itself, with no qualifications or reservations, in favor of the principle of complete freedom of emigration and immigration.

Found on Lew Rockwell

Image result for image of non-aggression principle and open bordersFrom the title of his essay and this sentence in the opening paragraph, I approached this piece with some caution – given my view that one cannot derive “open borders” from the non-aggression principle.  Maybe I am just a bit jumpy, given recent discussions of the topic.

I am glad, however, that I stuck to it and read the entire essay.  De Soto rightly points out the violations of the non-aggression principle inherent in the state’s management of border control.  But he also sees that this coin is not one-sided:

However, the coercive action of the state manifests itself not only in hindering the free movement of people, but, at the same time, in forcing the integration of certain groups of people against the wishes of the natives of a given state or region.

This coin has two sides, and the two sides are almost irreconcilable – and certainly not conducive to simple slogans like “open borders is the only libertarian position!”

Time to buy old US gold coins

In light of their apparently contradictory nature, the foregoing problems show the importance of isolating their real origin, and piecing together a libertarian theory of immigration that clarifies the principles that should govern the processes of immigration and emigration in a free society.

Which de Soto does.  He begins by examining the pure libertarian model, as explained by Rothbard (and which generated so much heat for me when I referred to it); it is a model of full private property rights – a model that, inherently, means borders managedby the property owner:

The conditions, volume, and duration of personal visits will be those accepted or decided by the parties involved.

And that would be that; an easy problem to solve if there were no state borders and if all property was private.

But the problem becomes more complicated when factoring in the reality of the state:

Thus, today, there is often the paradox that those who wish to abide scrupulously by the law find that their movements are not permitted, even if desired by all the parties involved. At the same time, the existence of public goods and the free availability of welfare-state benefits attract, like a magnet, a continuous tide of immigration, mostly illegal, which generates significant conflicts and external costs.

I am not allowed to invite who I choose and I am forced to suffer and pay for who I do not want.  It is not a libertarian solution to take one side of this coin and not the other – it is merely a different scheme of a state-managed border.

I have many other issues from a libertarian perspective with the open borders position in a world of state borders.  I have written extensively about these in the past, so I will merely summarize here:

  • As a property owner has the right to manage his border, he has the right to join with his neighbors to form a common agreement.
  • He and his neighbors also have the right to grant agency to a third party to manage their outside borders.
  • That the state has forced these neighbors to “hire” the state to act as the agent does not remove the right that the property owners hold.

Finally, as state borders cannot be derived by a strict application of the NAP one must look to the minarchist position; as minarchists allow for the state to provide defense…how is defense to be provided unless the state is knowledgeable about who crosses the border and for what purpose?

Returning to de Soto:

The ideal solution to all these problems would come from the total privatization of the resources which are today considered public, and the disappearance of state intervention at all levels in the area of emigration and immigration.

I have had this discussion with Walter Block who has acknowledged the issue.  It is not only the ideal solution; before a fully libertarian solution can be offered, full private property rights must be supported.

Related imageI find this much different than for issues like drug laws, prostitution, etc.  In each of those cases, the state need do only one thing: eliminate the laws that criminalize non-violent behavior.  Nothing more need be done; this action causes no damage to me or my property.  In fact, the damage to me is reduced as the government need not tax me to pay for enforcement and incarceration of these non-criminals.

But for open borders, two actions must occur: eliminating state border control and also supporting full private property rights; without both actions, attacks on my property increase.  The number of ways by which attacks increase are too numerous to list, but should be apparent.

De Soto offers some considerations for something approaching a libertarian solution to this question in a world of state borders:

However, as long as nation-states continue to exist, we must find “procedural” solutions that allow the problems to be solved under present conditions.

We are left with discovering second-best solutions as long as there is a state.  One can debate which of (or which combination of) these second-best solutions might move us closest toward the libertarian ideal, but this is what we have.

In other words, our choice is not either / or: either wide-open borders or we are inherently supporting every state violation regarding international travel.  There are options for libertarians to support other than these:

The first of these principles is that people who immigrate must do so at their own risk. This means that immigration must in no way be subsidized by the welfare state, i.e., by benefits provided by the government and financed through taxes.

This would certainly be required in a libertarian, private-property order.

The second principle that should inspire current policy is that all immigrants must be able to demonstrate that they have independent means of support, and thus will not be a burden on the taxpayers.

This would certainly be required in a libertarian, private-property order.  It strikes me that this should also be guaranteed by a sponsor.

The third essential principle is that under no circumstance should the political vote be granted to immigrants quickly, since this would create the danger of political exploitation by various groups of immigrants.

Well, there would be no such as “political votes” in the same sense in a full private property order.  But is there something libertarian about giving equal political standing to strangers in today’s order?

As long as we have states, we are going to have people who are citizens.  Are non-citizens entitled to all of the same privileges and protections that are afforded to a citizen?  Strangers, unaccustomed to anything of the local culture and tradition and mores, have an equal say in the politics of the country?  On what basis, I wonder.

Finally, the most important principle is that all immigrants must at all times observe the law, particularly the criminal law, of the social group that receives them.

This would certainly be required in a libertarian, private-property order.  And, again, this should also be guaranteed by the sponsor.

Imagine if these steps were in place today.  How much simpler – and more libertarian – would the border crossing be in such a condition?  Of course, a state agent (presumably) would still confirm proper documentation and sponsorship, but beyond this they would have no role.

That strikes me about as libertarian as we are going to get as long as there are state borders.

Conclusion

Finally, an adult enters the room.  What do I mean by this?  Someone who recognizes that this is not a simple black and white issue, not when viewed strictly through the lens of the non-aggression principle.

De Soto has described well the issues and has offered solutions that bring us toward a libertarian view on a topic where we are inherently stuck with second-best choices.  I have in the past written of very similar solutions – solutions that in a private property order would certainly be enforced.

If you want further demands for government action when it comes to immigration, keep pushing for open borders in today’s world and with today’s conditions.  If you truly want less government involvement in immigration and border control, work toward full private property rights; in the meantime, consider how de Soto’s list mimics as well as possible a private property order in a world of state borders – then advocate for these.

It would be the adult thing to do.

I will conclude with the comment I left at the site:

A very thoughtful and considered presentation, demonstrating that in a world of state borders there is no “pure” libertarian answer to the question of immigration. Instead, we are left – as de Soto has done – to discuss and develop methods and procedures that can mimic a libertarian solution within the confines of monopoly state control of borders, as much as such a thing is possible.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.

Classical Liberalism Has Failed   Leave a comment

 

What do I mean by that?

It’s an acknowledgment that classical liberals failed in their attempt to limit the power of the state and our current mess in Washington DC is a prime example.

Their failure resides in their ideal allowing for the very thing that is poison to liberty. You see, classical liberals believed that at least a minimal state is necessary for a  functional civil society.  Unfortunately, once the state exists, it is impossible to limit its power.

Believe it or not, I didn’t believe that myself until fairly recently and I instinctively shy away from that realization, but it becomes increasingly obvious to me that even a minimal state will seek to acquire more power and grow far beyond what its original intention, no matter how we might try to limit it.

Image result for image of a public road with potholesOur Founders believed there was such a thing as “public good” – basically, the joint supply of services in such a way as to cease rivalry by a body with a monopoly on institutional coercion that obliges everyone to finance those goods.

Example?

Prior to the creation of the federal government in 1789, lighthouses in the United States were colonial- or state-owned and often privately managed.  Local entities collected “light-dues” based on the tonnage of vessels using the ports the lighthouse protected.

So, most people grew up with publicly managed lighthouses and assumes the state that stood behind them was necessary, even though England had an entire system of privately-managed and -financed lighthouses for centuries before the government took them over. Sailors associations, port fees, and spontaneous social monitoring offered an effective solution to any issues arising from private-ownership.

The “wild” west was indeed wild when first opened to settlement, but many of the problems of, for example, property rights of land and cattle had been worked out before the federal government finally got around to administering those territories. The now much-maligned entrepreneurial innovations like cattle branding, constant supervision by armed cowboys on horseback, and the introduction of barbed wire solved the majority of the issues there a long time before the government showed up.

Today, because the government controls the western states and puts forth a narrative that there would be chaos (just look at the Hollywood movies!) if the state weren’t there to protect the west from “anarchy”, people believe there is no alternative to the state controlling most of the lands in the American west.

People observe that today’s highways, hospitals, schools, police protection, etc., are almost entirely supplied by the state, and deeming these services to be necessary (which they are), they conclude without further analysis that the state must also be necessary.

Most people believe the state is also necessary to protect the defenseless, poor and “destitute”. Small depositors, ordinary consumers, and workers are all deemed too fragile and stupid to take care of themselves.

What if the above-mentioned resources could be produced to a much higher standard of quality more efficiently, economically and individually adaptable through entrepreneurial creativity, private property and spontaneous market order? For example, why am I stuck paying $80 a month for garbage collection on my city lot? I’m charged this regardless if I put out any trash. I might only put out one can every two weeks while my neighbor (who owns a daycare center) puts out a half-dozen cans every week … yet we pay the same amount. Why? Because a statist monopoly requires regimentation and prevents any sort of competition for our money. I could negotiate with a private company  to meet my actual needs and charge me for my actual needs rather than my government-perceived needs.

The hospital in my town is privately owned, though heavily regulated by the state. It never turns anyone away. It didn’t before the state got involved because it was owned by a church. Do those regulations assure that everyone is covered? It wasn’t the case in the past. Why would it be the case now? Have churches doing medical ministries changed their ministries substantially since government started regulating them? But we’re told these regulations are necessary because …????

But what about the roads?

What about them? My neighborhood roads currently look like a map of the moon with a few craters filled in. I live inside the City of Fairbanks where we see road maintenance rarely. Despite the fact that we get significant amounts of snowfall here, we expect to see the plows in March. Sometimes they might do a pass after a heavy dump, but they’ll inevitably leave a berm at the bottom of our driveway that requires quick and muscular action for about two hours after work to clear before the temperatures drop and turn it into immovable white concrete.

My brother lives outside the city in the borough (like a county) which technically does not have road powers. The roads around his house are maintained by a road commission that he pays fees to. The commission hires a contractor to take care of the road. These roads rarely have potholes and they’re fixed quickly if they occur. The snow is generally cleared by the time he gets home from work or when he gets up in the morning. Yes, it costs money, but less than what is collected from me in property taxes. Although the road service areas are administered through the borough, several of them existed before the borough took control of them and they would largely continue to be unaffected if the borough stopped collecting paperwork on them because people would still need to get to and from their homes if the borough stopped functioning in that capacity. My brother gets better road maintenance for less money from the private sector than I do from the public sector.

By the way, he can also now get trash collection from a private company for about the same amount as we pay in the city. I interviewed the owner of the company and he explained that if he had more customers, he could afford to charge less and provide more flexibility in service than he currently does.

Although the state insists its existence is necessary to defend property rights and coordinate social processes, the fact is that they are a body with a monopoly on violence (or its more subtle sister, coercion). The state invariably acts by trampling on numerous legitimate property titles, defending them very poorly, and corrupting the moral and legal behavior of individuals toward the property rights of others.

We shouldn’t be so wedded to the status quo that we refuse to see there might be other, better ways of doing things.

 

 

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.

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