Archive for the ‘#libertarians’ Tag

A Study in Cognitive Dissonance   14 comments

This is my series looking at the Democratic candidates from a libertarian perspective. There are 23 declared candidates. I’m working off the following list of 13 because they have qualified for the debates later in June. I’m looking at them from lowest rating to highest.

So, unlike a lot of people, I don’t object to Robert O’Rourke having a Hispanic nickname. Maybe someone Hispanic laid that on him. I’ve got a “sign name” given to me by Deaf people so I have a right (under the rules of their subculture) to use it and I’ve even run across people from other parts of the country who knew of me when they saw the sign name. “You’re Seattle Brian’s cousin, aren’t you?”

Unlike Elizabeth Warren, who profited greatly by pretending to be something she’s not (an American Indian), Beto isn’t pretending to be Hispanic – although I’m sure some people figure he’s closer to being Hispanic than Ted Cruz, whose father speaks with a decided accent. We can move on from the snark-fest I’m not going to participate in.

Like all the candidates for the Democratic nomination for 2020, O’Rourke has policy statements. I don’t agree with all of them. Most libertarians I know say they like some of what he says and dislike some of what he says, which puts him ahead of many of his opponents, who we like none of what they say.

O’Rourke’s policy positions are a study in paradoxes and the contradictions that sometimes get painful.

Examples?

1) Beto wants to decriminalize drugs and jail pharma executives

I live in Alaska, where cannabis was decriminalized three years ago, but has been defacto “legal” for four decades, so I don’t really care about legalization. O’Rourke has, for more than a decade, advocated for the end of the federal marijuana prohibition and the removal of pot arrests from criminal records, as part of a broader criminal justice reform. Okay, I could vote for that, mainly for the reform that includes drug convictions rather than the drugs themselves. Moreover, he has called from decoupling cops from the opioid crisis. Yeah, I agree. I’m in favor of decoupling cops from the vast majority of crimes because I don’t think they really help, but that’s another topic.

But then, O’Rourke slams companies like Purdue Pharma for selling opioids to prescribers and he wants to put them in jail. Consider this paragraph.

We need to end the prohibition of marijuana. Expunge arrest records for everyone arrested for possession of something that’s legal in so many other places. And make sure that we have full prosecution and accountability for those who are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.

The cognitive dissonance in that single paragraph could drown a Labrador retriever. Drug dealer are drug dealers. Whether you do it through the prescription pad or you do it from a back alley apartment, you are still a drug dealer and peddling death to willing consumers. Could we please try for some consistency here? Someone else’s recreational drug of choice is either none of our business or it is? You can’t have it both ways.

2) Free trade, but not for Chinese dumpers!

O’Rourke actually has a long (rhetorical) history of backing free trade. My father-in-law is more familiar with him than I am (he lives in Texas) and he says O’Rourke wouldn’t have been able to win elections in conservative Texas if he’d bashed free trade. But I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and not question his sincerity on this issue. Again, the inconsistencies are striking.

“This trade war that the president has entered us into with China, these tariffs that he’s levied, and reciprocal tariffs that have been levied in return, hurt our ability to export into foreign markets, hurt our farmers and ranchers and producers, hurt the people who make things in this country that are opened to other markets around the world. It’s hurting our economy and hurting our families.”

Sounds good, but in that same speech, given at Keene State University in New Hampshire, O’Rourke started talking about the need “to take on China, the manipulation of their currency, the manipulation of trade practices that allows them to dump steel and compete unfairly on a global stage.”

Anti-Chinese dumping provisions already exist, even though they arguably shouldn’t. So where is the consistency? Sigh.

I get flip-flopping from one policy statement to another from one crowd to another — it’s disingenuous, but totally what politicians do. I can accept a change of position from one decade to another, because I believe people can grow and become wiser as they age. But flip-flopping within the same speech? Is this a performance of The Whore of Mensa?

3) Debt = bad. Domestic spending = good.

O’Rourke certainly sounds as deficit hawkish as Paul Ryan at times. I agree with many of his previous criticisms about the size of federal deficits and debt and he’s right to denounce overseas wars, occupations, and nation-building:

[W]e are $22 trillion in debt, and deficit spending to the tune of one trillion dollars annually added to that. That was approved in wars that we’ve been fighting going back to 1991, in the first invasion of Iraq. Six successive presidential administrations, we are still there. Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen. Those wars cost money. Those countries we rebuild after we’ve invaded cost money. Actually trillions of dollars.

Then, in another of his incredible inconsistencies, he blames the size of the deficits and debt on tax cuts, while touting a Medicare expansion program that in his own words would be “measured in the trillions of dollars.”

Pick a side, Mr. Would-Be President! Pick a side! Either you’re for reducing the cost of government or you aren’t, and the math for “taxing the rich” just doesn’t work out. The annual income of America’s “rich people” couldn’t cover current deficits year-over-year, even if you taxed them at 100%. Jeff Bezos is not a magic money tree.

4) Humility versus narcissistic alarmism.

O’Rourke will, on one hand, seem to upbeat and positively respectful when talking about “everybody” and then turn around and call this election our “defining moment of truth.” He’ll beseech Americans to recognize the limits of their own knowledge and power:

“There are probably a lot of people who are a lot smarter on this issue than I am,” he said at Keene State in response to a pointed question about the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Also: “Now listen, we have to have the humility to understand we cannot impose a solution on any people, anywhere. See: 18 years and counting in Afghanistan, 27 years and counting in Iraq. Plenty of other examples. This is something that the Palestinian people and the Israeli people must decide for themselves. But given our role and our support for both sides, the aid that we provide, we have a seat at that table.”

Bully for Beto recognizing that America and the politicians who rule us are neither omniscient nor omnipotent! But then, he says this:

The civil war in Syria, the wildfires in California—we literally are making it happen. And unless we act in the next 12 years, which the scientists also agree within which we still have time, there will be a hell visited upon our kids and grandkids and the generations that follow….If you were worried about 400,000 apprehensions at our southern border with Mexico last year, wait until some of the countries in the Western Hemisphere are no longer inhabitable by human beings. The refugee crisis then, here and all over the world, is beyond our imagination right now. But we still have time to act.

Good grief! So we can’t tell other countries how to act, but we can damn sure oppress our own people or flood the country with populations of people who will overwhelm the people who already live here because “we must act NOW”. It’s like a game of philosophical Twister. O’Rourke sees no contradiction there.

“I think we can bridge these differences, define ourselves not by what divides us, by what we want to accomplish together.”

I appreciate his energy and I appreciate that he has some libertarian-seeming policy proposals, but the drumbeat of the apocalypse seems just beneath his surface smile. I suspect that once in office, the nice-guy face will drop away and he’ll reveal the face of a tyrant intent upon making his truth THE truth. And those contradictory statements? Which ones does he actually believe? Maybe that doesn’t matter so much as to realize that once in office, most candidates will act on their totalitarianism far more quickly and ruthlessly than they will act on their restraint. And, candidates who make statements that suggest they would force the American people to do things they might not want to do — well, welcome to totalitarianism.

First Libertarian Socialist?   14 comments

I’m continuing my rundown of the massive Democratic primary field, starting with the lowest ratings and working my way upward. And, my have the mighty fallen, as today I look at Bernie Sanders. You can check out my previous articles by following the links below. And, you’re always welcome to comment.

Yes, that title is oxymoron. Libertarians are all about freedom and individualism and socialists are all about collectivism and coerced support of the State. And, I admit, I don’t like Bernie Sanders. I had no idea who he was until the first time I saw him on television yelling at someone and I just got a bad impression of him from the outset.

Large image on homepages

The thing is, the senator from the Peoples’ Republic of Vermont is at least two-thirds of the way on the road to free minds and free markets. It’s the last third that stops me cold like a bucket of Alaska glacier water to face.

Three issues frame politics — foreign, social and economic. Sanders is as non-interventionist as Ron Paul on foreign policy. He’s down with legalized pot and letting people have sex with whomever they want to have sex with. And like most of libertarians who despise crony capitalism, Bernie eschews the big three rent-seeking lobbies: big investment Banks, big pharma drug dealers, and big war profiteers.

And then he goes seriously off the rails because he wants free health care, free day care, and free college tuition. But hey, nobody’s perfect. 

In 2016, he was compared and contrasted to Hillary Clinton and Bernie looked downright Ayn Rand-ish. The Warrior Queen (HRC), who voted for the Iraq War, which Bernie opposed, and who sees America as the “indispensable nation”, flies the flag for the neo-conservative-lite wing of the Democratic Party on foreign policy. Under the Clinton administration, Goldman Sachs pretty much called all the shots out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

And compared to Trump in 2016, Sanders could have been a professor in the Austrian School of Economics, though he often takes the wrong exit and gets onto the road to serfdom.

He’s not alone on that slavery superhighway. He travels with GW Bush who gave us Medicare Part D, the biggest socialized medicine gambit since LBJ ‘s guns-and-butter fiscal policies saddled us with the Texas-sized taxpayer bill for Medicare and Medicaid, and two huge elective wars we didn’t need to fight.

Sanders certainly supported the costly federal drugging of old people at government expense, but he also thinks we should have the liberty to buy our drugs at the cheaper prices paid by our neighbors in Canada.

Okay, so I’m poking fun at the old fella, but that’s because he’s pretty close to being a libertarian, but about as far from being one as you might find. It’s a paradox. You have to understand socialism and not that many Americans today really do.

Socialism, as defined by both advocates and critics, is the collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. Democratic socialists, according to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), believe that “both the economy and society should be run democratically — to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few.” Notice how they avoid references to collectivism or the means of production so as not to turn off people who don’t wish to be socialists?

What’s interesting is that the DSA, at least on their website, is unapologetically socialist. They advocate for socialism, but believe that a lack of democracy is the reason socialism failed in almost every situation where it has been tried. The DSA are fully committed to the “not real socialism” excuse for failed nations like the USSR and today’s Venezuela. They see the obvious problem with corruption and dictatorship, and think that democracy is the solution.

Rather than attempting to separate democratic socialism from regular socialism, organizations like the DSA fully embrace socialism as a core component of their ideology, merely adding democracy alongside it.

This goes against the more “mainstream” view of democratic socialism pushed by left-leaning media networks and politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Mainstream democratic socialists argue that what they advocate for is less like Venezuela and more like Scandinavia, often referring to it as “Nordic socialism.”

There are issues with this mainstream view. For one, Scandinavian socialism is a myth. Scandinavia are capitalist countries with large welfare states and government regulation. Granted, many of the government policies in countries like Norway and Denmark operate using the same underlying logic as socialism and the countless number of economic regulations prevents anyone of sound mind from saying they have a free market.

Still even with the high degree of government (mis)management, Scandinavian countries still operate with an economy that is, at its very core, capitalist. Companies are still run privately for profit, and still compete with one another within the market. According to the Prime Minister of Denmark, “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy.” While it may not be a laissez faire libertarian paradise, it is not a socialist system. Democratic socialists, eager to make their point, often ignore that reality.

Secondly, as has already been pointed out, organizations like the DSA aren’t for regulated capitalism. They are strongly anti-capitalist, and proud of it. Whatever lefty college students might claim, democratic socialism is not some kind of socialism-lite.

So how come most American don’t know that? It’s because we’ve been taught that if people vote for it, it’s warm and fuzzy. People voted for Hitler and look how well that turned out.

What’s worrisome is that the rise of democratic socialism has been somewhat successful. Democrats in the United States now view socialism more favorably than capitalism. According to Gallup, 57% of Democrats have a positive view of socialism, while only 47% have a positive view of capitalism. In 2010, 53% of Democrats held a positive view of socialism while 53% held a positive view of positive view of capitalism. Republican views of capitalism and socialism over the same period have remained relatively unchanged.

Yes, we should be worried. As people warm to the idea of democratic socialism, the desire for socialism and opposition to capitalism will grow. Socialism, whether it is “democratic” or imposed by a dictator, remains an increasing threat to all free and peace-loving people of the world.

Which is why, even though Bernie Sanders is two-thirds of the way to agreeing with the non-aggression principle, I wouldn’t vote for him because I don’t think he really understands democracy or socialism and his programs would bankrupt the country. And then there’s the fact that he’s a grump who keeps yelling at people.

Seriously? Do you think I’ll listen to you because you yell at me?

Economic Illiteracy   14 comments

This is my series looking at the Democratic candidates from a libertarian perspective. There are 23 declared candidates. I’m working off the following list of 13 because they have qualified for the debates later in June. I’m looking at them from lowest rating to highest.

Elizabeth Warren has fallen a LONG way in the polls since the Cherokee Nation disavowed her. My cousins on the nearby Wyandot Reservation don’t much like her either. We’re all pretty white-looking in my tribe. Our hair might be dark, but our eyes are often green and sometimes blue. We’re a long way away from our mythical Turtle Island, but at least we have tribal cards to prove we have Indian blood in our veins.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren participated in a town hall in March and her biggest attention grabber of the night was her proposition to get rid of the Electoral College. In fairness to the Senator, the Electoral College has been questioned at some point in virtually every election cycle since the year 2000. I like it because it prevents the less populous rural regions that produce our food and fuel from becoming serf zones without any voice in national policies that affect them — policies like those of Marianne Williamson that would simply gut the economy and leave producers like rural residents without any recourse but the government dole.

What’s more concerning about a potential Warren presidency is her inarticulate ideas on health care and her desire to break up the big tech companies.

Warren got lucky and missed out on most of the hot-button issues of the night, but when asked about the Medicare for All proposal, Warren prefaced by saying “some people” say we should lower the age to 30. What’s important, Warren said was “that everybody has to come to the table on this.” Only then will we be able to truly know how to implement a Medicare for All solution. But who exactly is this elusive “everybody?” She didn’t really elaborate and I doubt the average working American or the people who will be paying that bill (the “wealthy) will be invited.

Warren was adamant that this “everybody” needed to come together because the issue at hand is so drastically complicated. This is an accurate statement by the Senator, who is not known for accuracy. The United States healthcare system is insanely complex. It’s a hodgepodge mixture of public and private options, with protectionist policies that prevent our neighbors to the north from even selling us lower cost pharmaceuticals. It’s a disastrous mess.

Which begs the question — Is the medical care system broken because of private enterprise or because of deliberate government policy? Senator, unlike her chicken shit opponent Cory Booker, touched on this issue, advocating for the relaxation of protectionist drug policies. That would be a tremendous step in the right direction.

Yet, she is also firmly entrenched in the notion that a centralized board can repair the fractured medical care industry. With the complexities involved, I think Senator Warren overestimates the capabilities of a centralized solution. Centralized solutions rarely work and I don’t know how many times we need to revisit that lesson before we learn it.

F.A. Hayek spoke on this issue quite a bit in his book, The Road to Serfdom. To paraphrase Hayek, the more complicated the industry, the more necessary it is for free competition. This is because the more complex an industry is, the less likely that a small group of individuals will effectively grasp its intricacies. For Hayek, the government can do just fine in overseeing simple matters such as roads(yeah, Hayek might have been a bit optimistic on that), but their decisions on complex matters would likely just make the situation worse.

Senator Warren did nothing to dislodge Hayek’s observatoin. When pressed on whether or not she would do away with private medical care entirely, she wavered and looked uneasy. She alternated between “maybe so” and “maybe not”. The unsettling reality was simple: she doesn’t know.

One thing she does know is that she wants to break up the big tech companies including, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google. She has this preposterous notion that these companies have too much power over our lives and that somehow we can’t just turn them off. Her notion is founded on a very limited understanding of these businesses.

They’re not monopolies. In fact, they are each other’s biggest competitors, and they compete ruthlessly against each other in the internet advertising business and for dominance in the smart home market.

To call these businesses monopolies is an oversimplified take on their business models. It’s to view Amazon as an e-commerce market, or Google as a mere search engine. It completely and willfully ignores that they are also competing in cloud, hardware, self-driving cars, medical care, smartphones, operating systems, grocery retail, data centers, and just recently, with the Stadia reveal, the video game industry.

They face steep competition in all of these areas. Wal-Mart is growing e-commerce sales by 50% year over year. Etsy and Shopify are the two fastest growing e-commerce businesses in the United States. Google can’t compete with Apple in the smartphone market. Facebook is a dominant social platform, but not for e-dating (Match.com) or professional networking (LinkedIn) and it has direct competitors that are up and coming, which might be why Facebook is asking for regulation of the industry.

To talk about breaking these businesses up is not only taking a narrow view of their operations, but it also blatantly disregards just how much the consumer has benefited from their innovation.

Why do they relentlessly pursue innovation? It wouldn’t make much sense to pursue innovation if they could just rest on their monopolistic laurels. On the other hand, their relentless pursuit to diversify is a direct acknowledgement of the precarious nature of the dominance hierarchy within the tech industry.  

Consumers, however, will fail to benefit if Warren gets her way.  Her policies will result in a dramatic leveling of the tech industry just when we need it the most. Automation, space travel, and advances in medical care are just within the reach of Amazon, Google, and Apple. It would be a shame to watch the government stifle their ambitions.

So I think you can figure out my libertarian objections to Elizabeth Warren becoming President.

Inside My Mind

Words from my brain

Happiness Between Tails by da-AL

Tales + Tail Wagging + Book Love + Writing + Art + Food + Dance + Travel + Joy

Fairfax and Glew

Vigilante Justice

The Wolf's Den

Overthink Everything

SaltandNovels

Sprinkling wonder into writing

Remmington Reads

A book enthusiast bringing you all things bookish

MiddleMe

Becoming Unstuck

Magical BookLush

A New Dimension to Explore!! Love for books and series is all we need. Life can be lonely without books. All I love is books, series, and talking about serious causes like bodyshaming. Do join me if you love to live your life to the fullest

Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author

Read. Write. Love. 💕💕💕

Not Very Deep Thoughts

Short Fiction and Other Things

Ediciones Promonet

Libros e eBooks educativos y de ficción

the dying fish

Book info, ordering, about me etc. in upper right

STRAIGHT LINE LOGIC

Never underestimate the power of a question

%d bloggers like this: