Archive for the ‘Liberty’ Tag

Tyranny of Good Intentions   Leave a comment

I posed a question on my Facebook page – To Protect Us from Bad Drivers, Should the Government Mandate Autonomous Cars?

I still don’t know what the consensus was on that because it became a gun-control debate. I guess I’m not surprised because both are liberty issues. It’s why I pose these questions, to drag liberty and tyranny kicking and screaming out into the sunlight where they can be discussed.

I think a lot of us harbor tyrannical thoughts wrapped up in the guise of good intentions. Why do we encourage the curtailment of free speech through the institution of speech codes? Our good intention is that nobody be insulted by ideas we have deemed inappropriate this decade (subject to change next decade), but I think the underlying psychology is that we like to control others and force them to parrot our beliefs back to us even if they don’t believe the same thing.

Image result for image of the lower crime rate in high gun ownership communities

Why do we think it is our right to tell business people who they may and may not serve? Our good intention is so that people can access goods and services without being discriminated against for things they have no choice about – colors of skin being the primary one. As an American Indian, I don’t disagree with the intention — I like being able to walk into any restaurant in America and know I’ll be served. But then the tyrannical psychology of human beings rears its ugly three heads and we start setting aside people’s free exercise of faith rights in order to satisfy a political agenda because in our heart of hearts it’s not really about fairness and eliminating discrimination. It’s about imposing our will upon others.

So, during the unintended debate on gun control, the thing that struck me was how people believe they have the good intention of making everyone “safer”, by eliminating guns from society, while ignoring the facts that communities with a lot of guns in private hands are much safer than communities where private guns have been banned.

They mean well, but they’re making us all less safe and may even get some of us killed — if they haven’t already. For example, with 98% of all mass shootings happening in so-called gun-free zones, why would we think turning the entire country into a gun-free zone would be a great idea?

Image result for image chicago's murder rate related to gun control

North Dakota almost matches Alaska in per gun ownership. They have the lowest crime rate in the nation. Some people would like to insist that is a coincidence so they can dismiss that data point. Alaska, specifically my community of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, has the highest per capita gun ownership rate in the nation. We don’t have the lowest crime rate. We lead the nation in rapes and alcohol-related crimes. But we have practically non-existent night-time burglary and armed robbery rates. Home invasions do happen here occasionally – mostly drug related – but they’re few and far between.

What North Dakota and Alaska share in common is that we’ve had very few mass shootings. Why?

Maybe it has something to do with our preserving our ability to defend ourselves a long time before the cops can be there. Because we’re not big on gun-free zones, we have created safer armed havens within our communities.

Are you safer walking the streets of New York City at 3 am or Fairbanks Alaska at 3 am? I’m thinking that even people who live in New York City recognize that the streets of Fairbanks Alaska are safer than the ones outside their apartment. It doesn’t mean Fairbanks is risk-free, only that it is comparatively safer. And, yet police response time in New York City is magnitudes faster than it is in Fairbanks Alaska. New York City has more cops per block than Fairbanks Alaska has per mile. It takes 10 minutes for them to reach my home (minimum), but it takes 45 minutes for a cop doing 80 mph to reach my cabin (minimum). Fortunately, we don’t have a huge need for cops because we retain the ability to defend ourselves.

Image result for washington dc murder rate related to gun control

But circle back – it is safer to walk a dark street in Fairbanks than it is in New York City. New York City pretends to be a gun-free zone, but of course, there are a lot of illegal guns in the hands of criminals in New York City while in Fairbanks there are a lot of legal guns in the hands of ordinary citizens. Why would criminals prefer New York City where there’s a cop on every corner rather than Fairbanks where there’s a gun in every house (well, maybe 75% of them)? Wouldn’t they have more chance of getting caught in New York City? No, because if they kill the person who they’re victimizing there is no witness to turn them in. But if the Fairbanks homeowner shoots them rather than being a victim, then they’ve been caught. Chances are greater that a criminal will be brought to justice here in Fairbanks than they are in New York because criminals here stand a good chance of receiving the natural consequences of their criminal behavior than they do in a city where they are pretty much the only people armed.

That translates into it being safer to walk the streets of Fairbanks at night. Now, it might potentially be safer to get drunk while playing poker in New York because your ordinary neighbor is unlikely to have a gun with which to shoot you if he thinks you’re cheating. That is a downside to living in an armed community. But, guess what … don’t play poker with drunk people and you’re probably going to be okay. It’s really kind of counter-intuitive when you think about it. In a community that is awash in guns, you’re safer walking down the street, but aggression toward others is also ill-advised. Most gun incidents here are really alcohol or drug incidents.

Image result for new york city murder rates related to gun control

Oh, that makes sense. It’s the advice I gave my kids about driving drunk. Don’t! If you’re driving, you don’t drink alcohol. If you’re drinking alcohol, you don’t drive.

If you’re drinking, lock your guns up. If you’ve got a need to have a gun out, you shouldn’t be drinking. That was pretty much the gun safety advice my parents gave me.

The good-intentioned tyrannical crowd would say “Let us take away the cars so you can’t hurt yourself with them. We’d take away the alcohol, but we already tried that and it was a miserable idea, but surely this great idea will work out fine.” Eventually, they’ll come to that conclusion about cars. We know that because they’re insisting about that conclusion with guns. Ignore the fact that not all of us live or even want to live where there’s a cop on every corner who still isn’t there to prevent our death. Guns are dangerous in the wrong hands, so they insist the answer is to remove the took from all of us … except the two segments of the population who most want to victimize the disarmed – criminals and cops.

Image result for new york city murder rates related to gun control

 

 

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Posted March 2, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control, Uncategorized

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“Let” Us?   Leave a comment

Image result for image of fairbanks alaska snow wind stormBrad couldn’t sleep last night (worried about our dog who just had surgery, I think), so he got up really early and checked out some friends on Facebook. He graduated high school in Chappaqua, New York, but he lived all over New England as a kid and still has family there, as well as spending several years in Texas where he also has family.

So he was talking with someone (a friend) who lives back east and telling him how two weeks ago, the temperatures here were 30 below zero, but it’s 30 above now and we got over a half-foot of snow last night. He’d decided I was driving his Jeep to work this morning.

The conversation went from there.

Brad – My wife is driving the Jeep to work this morning so I can fix what caused her car not to work last week during the 30 below.

Of course, Facebook is a “public” forum, so a friend of his friend responded.

Friend Once Removed – I’m surprised they let you drive in that.

  • Friend – Drive in what? Which?

  • Friend Once Removed – Either. It’s dangerous. They should close the roads.

  • Friend – He lives in Alaska. If they did that, they’d spend all winter trapped at home. And they’re used to it.

Brad (responding to “surprised they let you drive in that”) – Let us? There’s no “let” involved. We drive if we darned well want to and accept the risk.

  • Friend Once Removed – The police should arrest anyone who doesn’t obey the law. You don’t have a right to endanger yourselves.

  • Brad – Fella, we live in Alaska, where freedom is a higher priority than being protected by the government.

  • Friend Once Removed – You people are what’s wrong with this country. You endanger all of us with your callous disregard for safety.

At this point, I asked Brad what he was muttering swear words about and he showed me the exchange.

Me – Yeah, I have conversations like that all the time under my Lela account.

Brad – What do you do about it?

Me – Sometimes I embrace the debate in hopes that someone will learn something from it and sometimes I refuse to pick up the rope. Surprisingly, others have started doing that and it feels good to know that people are thinking about liberty issues.

Brad – What should I do about this?

Me – Can I pretend to be you?

Lela Pretending to be Brad – I’m not sure how my driving a 4×4 Jeep through 6 inches of snow in Alaska endangers you when you live in New Jersey. Can’t we both live our lives without trying to control the other?

Friend Once Removed – No, because your “freedom” gives people ideas and those ideas put them in danger.

Me to Brad in the Real World – Leave the rope right there and stop this conversation right now. You can’t win this argument and if you continue he’ll be calling his Congressman insisting that Alaskans be stopped from driving in “dangerous conditions.” Now I’m going to go put on my winter gear over my office clothes and drive that 25-year-old Jeep through the “dangerous conditions” so I can field phone calls from the public who want to know when the roads will be plowed. Fun times!

Which, actually, it was. I LOVE driving that Jeep through snow and the wind just added another flavor – a wild primordial feel that a day of ordinary weather just doesn’t give you.

Posted February 23, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska, Uncategorized

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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?

But He Didn’t Say That   Leave a comment

My first introduction to Jordan Peterson, a University of Toronto clinical psychologist was when Brad asked me to watch an interview Peterson did with Camille Paglia. I didn’t care for the interview, mainly because Paglia likes to hear herself talk too much, but I did come away curious about Peterson, who up to that moment was a complete unknown to me.
Image result for image of jordan petersonI then caught his  interview with British journalist Cathy Newman a couple of weeks ago. Newman pressed Peterson to explain several of his controversial views, which is enlightening, but what struck me – more than his views — was the method Newman used in interviewing him. THIS is one of the main reasons I distrust the media today.First, a person says something. Then, another person restates what they purportedly said so as to make it seem their view is offensive, hostile, or absurd.

It’s not new or unique. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and various Fox News hosts all feature and reward this rhetorical technique. The Peterson interview showed so many successive examples that even our son, who couldn’t care less about politics or 90% of what Peterson and Newman were discussing, wondered why the interviewer kept inflating the nature of Peterson’s claims instead of addressing what he actually said.

I don’t dislike Cathy Newman. As British journalists go, she’s somewhat accurate and fair, although I don’t have extensive knowledge of her reporting. Restatement has a role in psychology and journalism, especially when trying to force a poor historian or an evasive subject to clarify their ideas. I suspect she has used that tactic to good effect elsewhere. It’s just that in this interview with Peterson, Newman relied on this technique to a remarkable degree, making it a useful illustration of a much broader pernicious trend. While Peterson was not evasive or unwilling to be clear about his meaning, Newman’s exaggerated restatements of his views mostly led viewers astray, not closer to the truth. She was telling people what she THOUGHT his words meant, rather than listening to what Peterson actually said.

Peterson began the interview by explaining why he tells young men to grow up and take responsibility for getting their lives together and becoming good partners. He noted he isn’t talking exclusively to men, and that he has lots of female fans.“What’s in it for the women, though?” Newman asked.

“Well, what sort of partner do you want?” Peterson said. “Do you want an overgrown child or do you want someone to contend with who is going to help you?”

“So you’re saying,” Newman retorted, “that women have some sort of duty to help fix the crisis of masculinity.”

Brad paused the interview at that point and asked me what I thought Peterson had said. I thought he posited a vested interest, not a duty.

“Women deeply want men who are competent and powerful,” Peterson asserted. “And I don’t mean power in that they can exert tyrannical control over others. That’s not power. That’s just corruption. Power is competence. And why in the world would you not want a competent partner? Well, I know why, actually, you can’t dominate a competent partner. So if you want domination—”

“So you’re saying women want to dominate, is that what you’re saying?” Newman interrupted.

The next section of the interview concerns the pay gap between men and women, and whether it is rooted in gender itself or other nondiscriminatory factors:

Newman: … that 9 percent pay gap,  that’s a gap between median hourly earnings between men and women. That exists.

Peterson: Yes. But there’s multiple reasons for that. One of them is gender, but that’s not the only reason. If you’re a social scientist worth your salt, you never do a uni-variate analysis. You say women in aggregate are paid less than men. Okay. Well then we break it down by age; we break it down by occupation; we break it down by interest; we break it down by personality.

Newman: But you’re saying, basically, it doesn’t matter if women aren’t getting to the top, because that’s what is skewing that gender pay gap, isn’t it? You’re saying that’s just a fact of life, women aren’t necessarily going to get to the top.

Peterson: No, I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, either. I’m saying there are multiple reasons for it.

Newman: Yeah, but why should women put up with those reasons?

Peterson: I’m not saying that they should put up with it! I’m saying that the claim that the wage gap between men and women is only due to sex is wrong. And it is wrong. There’s no doubt about that. The multi-variate analyses have been done. So let me give you an example––

The interviewer seemed eager to impute to Peterson a belief that a large, extant wage gap between men and women is a “fact of life” that women should just “put up with,” though all those assertions are contrary to his real positions on the matter.

Throughout this next section, the interviewer repeatedly tried to oversimplify Peterson’s view, as if he believes one factor he discusses is all-important. Then she seemed to assume that because Peterson believes that given factor helps to explain a pay gap between men and women, he doesn’t support any actions that would bring about a more equal outcome. 
 

Her surprised question near the end suggested earnest confusion:

Peterson: There’s a personality trait known as agreeableness. Agreeable people are compassionate and polite. And agreeable people get paid less than disagreeable people for the same job. Women are more agreeable than men.

Newman: Again, a vast generalization. Some women are not more agreeable than men.

Peterson: That’s true. And some women get paid more than men.

Newman: So you’re saying by and large women are too agreeable to get the pay raises that they deserve.

Peterson: No, I’m saying that is one component of a multi-variate equation that predicts salary. It accounts for maybe 5 percent of the variance. So you need another 18 factors, one of which is gender. And there is prejudice. There’s no doubt about that. But it accounts for a much smaller portion of the variance in the pay gap than the radical feminists claim.

Newman: Okay, so rather than denying that the pay gap exists, which is what you did at the beginning of this conversation, shouldn’t you say to women, rather than being agreeable and not asking for a pay raise, go ask for a pay raise. Make yourself disagreeable with your boss.

Peterson: But I didn’t deny it existed, I denied that it existed because of gender. See, because I’m very, very, very careful with my words.

Newman: So the pay gap exists. You accept that. I mean the pay gap between men and women exists—but you’re saying it’s not because of gender, it’s because women are too agreeable to ask for pay raises.

Peterson: That’s one of the reasons.

Newman: Okay, so why not get them to ask for a pay raise? Wouldn’t that be fairer?

Peterson: I’ve done that many, many, many times in my career. So one of the things you do as a clinical psychologist is assertiveness training. So you might say––often you treat people for anxiety, you treat them for depression, and maybe the next most common category after that would be assertiveness training. So I’ve had many, many women, extraordinarily competent women, in my clinical and consulting practice, and we’ve put together strategies for their career development that involved continual pushing, competing, for higher wages. And often tripled their wages within a five-year period.

Newman: And you celebrate that?

Peterson: Of course! Of course!

Note that she seemed disgusted with the idea that women would have to be assertive to get what they want in the workplace. Yeah, I couldn’t figure that one out either. Men have to be assertive to get what THEY want, so why shouldn’t women? Another passage on gender equality proceeded thusly:

Newman: Is gender equality a myth?

Peterson: I don’t know what you mean by the question. Men and women aren’t the same. And they won’t be the same. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be treated fairly.

Newman: Is gender equality desirable?

Peterson: If it means equality of outcome then it is almost certainly undesirable. That’s already been demonstrated in Scandinavia. Men and women won’t sort themselves into the same categories if you leave them to do it of their own accord. It’s 20 to 1 female nurses to male … something like that. And approximately the same male engineers to female engineers. That’s a consequence of the free choice of men and women in the societies that have gone farther than any other societies to make gender equality the purpose of the law. Those are ineradicable differences––you can eradicate them with tremendous social pressure, and tyranny, but if you leave men and women to make their own choices you will not get equal outcomes.

Newman: So you’re saying that anyone who believes in equality, whether you call them feminists or whatever you want to call them, should basically give up because it ain’t going to happen.

Peterson: Only if they’re aiming at equality of outcome.

Newman: So you’re saying give people equality of opportunity, that’s fine.

Peterson: It’s not only fine, it’s eminently desirable for everyone, for individuals as well as societies.

Newman: But still women aren’t going to make it. That’s what you’re really saying.

By this time Brad and I were both shaking our heads in wonderment and Keirnan was even saying “But that’s not what he was really saying!”

In this next passage Peterson shows more explicit frustration than at any other time in the program with being interviewed by someone who refuses to relay his actual beliefs:

Newman: So you don’t believe in equal pay.

Peterson: No, I’m not saying that at all.

Newman: Because a lot of people listening to you will say, are we going back to the dark ages?

Peterson: That’s because you’re not listening, you’re just projecting.

Newman: I’m listening very carefully, and I’m hearing you basically saying that women need to just accept that they’re never going to make it on equal terms—equal outcomes is how you defined it.

Peterson: No, I didn’t say that.

Newman: If I was a young woman watching that, I would go, well, I might as well go play with my Cindy dolls and give up trying to go school, because I’m not going to get the top job I want, because there’s someone sitting there saying, it’s not possible, it’s going to make you miserable.

Peterson: I said that equal outcomes aren’t desirable. That’s what I said. It’s a bad social goal. I didn’t say that women shouldn’t be striving for the top, or anything like that. Because I don’t believe that for a second.

Newman: Striving for the top, but you’re going to put all those hurdles in their way, as have been in their way for centuries. And that’s fine, you’re saying. That’s fine. The patriarchal system is just fine.

Peterson:  No! I really think that’s silly! I do, I think that’s silly.

Peterson never said “the patriarchal system is just fine” or that he planned to put lots of hurdles in the way of women. He never said women shouldn’t strive for the top or they might as well drop out of school, because achieving their goals or happiness is simply not going to be possible. Newman put all those words in his mouth by projecting her own bias’ upon him.

The conversation moved on to other topics, but the pattern continued. Peterson made a statement and the the interviewer interjected with “So you’re saying …” and filled in the rest with something that is less defensible, less carefully qualified, more extreme, or just totally unrelated to his point. I think my favorite example came when they began to talk about lobsters. Yeah, lobsters! Here’s the excerpt:

 

Peterson: There’s this idea that hierarchical structures are a sociological construct of the Western patriarchy. And that is so untrue that it’s almost unbelievable. I use the lobster as an example: We diverged from lobsters evolutionarily about 350 million years ago. And lobsters exist in hierarchies. They have a nervous system attuned to the hierarchy. And that nervous system runs on serotonin just like ours. The nervous system of the lobster and the human being is so similar that anti-depressants work on lobsters. And it’s part of my attempt to demonstrate that the idea of hierarchy has absolutely nothing to do with sociocultural construction, which it doesn’t.

Newman: Let me get this straight. You’re saying that we should organize our societies along the lines of the lobsters?

To this, Keirnan cracked “Yes, he proposed that we all live on the sea floor … except for those who want to live in the seafood tanks at restaurants.” We all got a good laugh out of that, but the kid has a point. It’s laughable. Absolutely ludicrous. Peterson, to his credit, tried to keep plodding along.

Peterson: I’m saying it is inevitable that there will be continuities in the way that animals and human beings organize their structures. It’s absolutely inevitable, and there is one-third of a billion years of evolutionary history behind that … It’s a long time. You have a mechanism in your brain that runs on serotonin that’s similar to the lobster mechanism that tracks your status—and the higher your status, the better your emotions are regulated. So as your serotonin levels increase you feel more positive emotion and less negative emotion.

Newman: So you’re saying like the lobsters, we’re hard-wired as men and women to do certain things, to sort of run along tram lines, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

She was actually tracking until she added the extreme “and there’s nothing we can do about it”? Peterson is a clinical psychologist who coaches people to change how they relate to institutions and to one another within the constraints of human biology. Of course he believes that there is something that can be done about it.

He brought up the lobsters only in an attempt to argue that “one thing we can’t do is say that hierarchical organization is a consequence of the capitalist patriarchy.”At this point, we’re near the end of the interview. And given all that preceded it, Newman’s response killed me. She took another accusatory tack with her guest:

Newman: Aren’t you just whipping people up into a state of anger?

Peterson: Not at all.

Newman: Divisions between men and women. You’re stirring things up.

Actually, one of the most important things this interview illustrates—one reason it is worth watching (find it on You-Tube) —is how Newman repeatedly posed as if she were holding a controversialist accountable, when in fact, for the duration of the interview, it was she who was “stirring things up” and “whipping people into a state of anger.”

At every turn, she took her subject’s words and made them seem more extreme, more hostile to women, or more shocking in their implications than Peterson’s remarks themselves support. Almost all of the most inflammatory views that were aired in the interview were ascribed by Newman to Peterson, who then disputed that she had accurately characterized his words.

There are moments when Newman seems earnestly confused, and perhaps was. But if it was merely confusion, why did she consistently misinterpret him in the more scandalous, less politically correct, more umbrage-stoking direction?

I hadn’t followed Peterson enough to know what I thought of him when I watched the interview, but I have since gone out and listened to several of his lectures and interviews and I find a lot of good meat in his arguments, though I don’t wholly agree with him because I think Jungians take their archetypes far too seriously.  I’m just pointing out that Newman’s interview techniques were unhelpful and unfair because they were untruthful. Those who credulously accept the interviewer’s characterizations will emerge with the impression that a prominent academic holds troubling views that, in fact, he does not actually believe or advocate. Distorted impressions of what figures like Peterson mean by the words that they speak can only exacerbate overall polarization between their followers and others, which will actually make it harder for their critics to push back against any wrong ideas.Lots of culture-war fights are unavoidable because they are rooted in earnest, deeply-felt disagreements over the best values or societal goods. The best we can do is have those fights with some civility rules to prevent duels at dawn. Disagreements are inevitable in a pluralistic democracy, but reducing needless division requires that we accurate characterize the views of folks with differing opinions, rather than distort their works so that existing divides become more intractable. That sort of exaggeration or hyperbolic misrepresentation is epidemic in the Western world today and we are long overdue for addressing it … for everyone’s sake.

Taxation without Consent   Leave a comment

I’m enjoying the larger number of dollars deposited into my bank account every 15 days under the recent Congressional tax reform, but it’s best to remember that taxes are not voluntary and that Uncle Sam acts a great deal like a highwayman robber in insisting that these “contributions” are his by right, as if we consented to such thievery. I didn’t. Do you remember when you did?

But this is nothing new. Check out what the great libertarian writer Lysander Spooner had to say about it more than a century ago.

 

The payment of taxes, being compulsory, of course furnishes no evidence that any one voluntarily supports the Constitution.

Image result for image of lysander spoonerIt is true that the theory of our Constitution is, that all taxes are paid voluntarily; that our government is a mutual insurance company, voluntarily entered into by the people with each other; that each man makes a free and purely voluntary contract with all others who are parties to the Constitution, to pay so much money for so much protection, the same as he does with any other insurance company; and that he is just as free not to be protected, and not to pay any tax, as he is to pay a tax, and be protected.

But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money, or your life. And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.

The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the road side, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.

The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a “protector,” and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to “protect” those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful “sovereign,” on account of the “protection” he affords you. He does not keep “protecting” you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villanies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.

Image result for image of uncle sam as a highway robberThe proceedings of those robbers and murderers, who call themselves “the government,” are directly the opposite of these of the single highwayman.

In the first place, they do not, like him, make themselves individually known; or, consequently, take upon themselves personally the responsibility of their acts. On the contrary, they secretly (by secret ballot) designate some one of their number to commit the robbery in their behalf, while they keep themselves practically concealed. They say to the person thus designated:

Go to A— B—, and say to him that “the government” has need of money to meet the expenses of protecting him and his property. If he presumes to say that he has never contracted with us to protect him, and that he wants none of our protection, say to him that that is our business, and not his; that we choose to protect him, whether he desires us to do so or not; and that we demand pay, too, for protecting him. If he dares to inquire who the individuals are, who have thus taken upon themselves the title of “the government,” and who assume to protect him, and demand payment of him, without his having ever made any contract with them, say to him that that, too, is our business, and not his; that we do not choose to make ourselves individually known to him; that we have secretly (by secret ballot) appointed you our agent to give him notice of our demands, and, if he complies with them, to give him, in our name, a receipt that will protect him against any similar demand for the present year. If he refuses to comply, seize and sell enough of his property to pay not only our demands, but all your own expenses and trouble beside. If he resists the seizure of his property, call upon the bystanders to help you (doubtless some of them will prove to be members of our band). If, in defending his property, he should kill any of our band who are assisting you, capture him at all hazards; charge him (in one of our courts) with murder, convict him, and hang him. If he should call upon his neighbors, or any others who, like him, may be disposed to resist our demands, and they should come in large numbers to his assistance, cry out that they are all rebels and traitors; that “our country” is in danger; call upon the commander of our hired murderers; tell him to quell the rebellion and “save the country,” cost what it may. Tell him to kill all who resist, though they should be hundreds of thousands; and thus strike terror into all others similarly disposed. See that the work of murder is thoroughly done, that we may have no further trouble of this kind hereafter. When these traitors shall have thus been taught our strength and our determination, they will be good loyal citizens for many years, and pay their taxes without a why or a wherefore.

It is under such compulsion as this that taxes, so called, are paid. And how much proof the payment of taxes affords, that the people consent to support “the government,” it needs no further argument to show.

Lysander Spooner

Swiss Students Are Fighting Back Against Unfair TV Fees | Bill Wirtz   Leave a comment

By Bill Wirtz

The European liberty movement may be small, but it’s having extraordinary growth and grassroots success in a place you might least expect it: Switzerland.

Source: Swiss Students Are Fighting Back Against Unfair TV Fees | Bill Wirtz

 

Image result for image switzerland tvSwitzerland, like many European nations, has certain television and radio channels that are run by the government. The state-run channels in Switzerland date back to World War I when the government had completely monopolized both TV and radio “for security reasons,” and paid for it with a fee called the “Billag.” After the war period, Switzerland opened the market to private media companies, but it kept the “Billag” fee in order to pay for the state channels which still absolutely dominate the market to this day.

The fee even has its own website, http://www.billag.ch, on which the mandatory contribution is explained as follows:

In Switzerland, you are legally obligated to pay the radio and television fees. By paying the fees you enable radio and television programmes in every part of Switzerland.”

Which almost sounds like you couldn’t have any TV or radio stations if it wasn’t for governmental control. For Frédéric Jollien, who is a Senior Local Coordinator for European Students for Liberty and founder of Swiss Students for Liberty, this description is dishonest:

The assumption that the media landscape would crumble if we were to abolish this annual fee is ridiculous. The opponents of our campaign claim that without the “Billag,” nobody would pay for state channels, yet they simultaneously also argue that people are very fond of the content. Which one is it now?”

Together with other classical liberals in Switzerland, Frédéric Jollien is fighting against the royalties imposed by the government for media consumption. 450 Swiss Francs, the equivalent of €382 or $456, is the annual fee that consumers are required to pay, regardless if they want state-run TV and radio channels or not.

“We are not trying to abolish anything. We merely want consumers to choose for themselves which channels they want to watch,” says Frédéric, who works in the campaign of “NoBillag,” the citizens’ initiative that intends to overturn the fee via referendum.

The “NoBillag” campaign has been working on the issue of media royalties for three years now, and effectively managed to get their citizens’ initiative approved. This means that a public vote on the repeal of the “Billag” will take place on March 4, 2018. Until then, the campaign is tirelessly working to promote its ideas. Frédéric Jollien explains that this one of the very few referenda which were organized by people who believe in the concepts of free markets and free people.

However, running such a campaign demands considerable efforts.

The government has extended the “Billag” to include private companies as well. Despite them only receiving less than 10 percent of the revenue generated by the fee, they now also have vested interests in keeping it in place and steadily negotiating a larger chunk of it. It’s us against the whole media landscape.”

The print media is equally unimpressed by the “NoBillag” campaign, as owners also seek to convince the government to initiate large subsidies for the papers, the same way it is practiced in countries like France. Furthermore, after petitioning for months to get the necessary signatures to organize a referendum, the campaign was left with only 30,000 CHF (€25,600), which is clearly too little to run a three-language campaign in the mountainous country in Central Europe.

Frédéric Jollien is very optimistic regardless.

“We started a crowdfunding campaign and raised over 100,000 Francs in only ten days, bringing us closer to our 160,000 CHF objective. But not only that: several polls have indicated that we might very well be able to win the public vote!”

The success of the idea of letting consumers choose which TV and radio programs they watch is apparent. Journalists (who, by the way, are exempt from paying this fee) are releasing heavy verbal fire on the campaigners. They claim it would cause massive unemployment in the media sector, that it is anti-democratic, and that it would enable big foreign companies to take over the Swiss market.

“It’s actually quite peculiar. The Swiss conservatives, who are usually the ones spreading fear of foreigners, support us because they believe that state media is being biased against them, while the Left opposes us because they believe the evil foreign media channels from Germany, Italy, and France will eat us up. This shows how strange the idea of a free market can sound to people,” says Frédéric.

Until the vote in March, he is busily writing op-eds and participating in radio and TV debates. If the campaign would be successful, then this would definitely be one of the most extraordinary free-market grassroots-led initiatives in Europe to date.

Frédéric and the campaign hope to raise more money for their efforts. You can support them through their crowdfunding campaign here: www.wemakeitbetter.ch

Adapted from an article originally appearing on the Freedom Today Network

Posted January 19, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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RIP, Net Neutrality   Leave a comment

Net Neutrality is gone.  Yay!

Let’s try to understand what Net Neutrality is really all about.

Image result for image of net neutrality destroying the internetContrary to popular belief, the evil ISPs were not creating a have/have not divide in Internet access prior to Barack Obama’s interference in the Internet. What Net Neutrality really did was create massive subsidies to the biggest bandwidth hogs on the planet – Facebook, Google, Twitter, Netflix and … yeah, the porn industry.

Under Net Neutrality these platforms flourished along with the rise of the mobile internet, which is now arguably more important than the ‘desktop’ one in your home and office.  Google and Apple control access to the mobile web in a way that net neutrality proponents can only dream the bandwidth providers like Comcast and AT&T could.

Comcast & AT&T never had that power. Ultimately, consumers decide how much bandwidth costs. We decide how much we can afford for these creature comforts like streaming Netflix while riding the bus or doing self-indulgent Instagram videos of our standing in line at the movies. The ISPs can’t charge us more than we’re willing to pay and a great many of us were not willing to pay, so Netflix and Google began advocating for Net Neutrality, which took the pricing of bandwidth out of the hands of consumers and handed the profits from it to Google and Facebook and their advertisers.

By mandating ‘equal access’ and equal fee structures the advertisers behind Google and Facebook could spend their budgets without much thought or care.  Google and Facebook ad revenue soared under Net Neutrality because advertisers’ needs are not aligned with Google’s bottom line, but with consumers’.

Because of that, the price paid to deliver the ad, i.e. Google’s cost of goods sold, thanks to Net Neutrality, was held artificially low.  And Google, Facebook and the Porn Industry pocketed the difference, allowing Google and Facebook to grow more powerful.  That difference was never passed onto the ISP who could then, in turn, pass it on to the consumer. Thus our Internet access costs increased, while Facebook’s advertising costs were held stable.

All thanks to Net Neutrality.

With the rise of the mobile web, bandwidth should have been getting cheaper and easier to acquire at a much faster rate than it has.  Net Neutrality didn’t allow for that. It kept rates of return on new bandwidth projects and new technology suppressed. Money the ISP’s should have been spending laying more fiber, putting up more cell towers, building better radios went to Google to fritter away on endless projects that never see the light of day.

Net Neutrality guaranteed that the infrastructure for new high-speed bandwidth would grow at the slowest possible rate, still governed by the maximum the consumer was willing to pay for bandwidth, rather than what the consumer actually demanded.

Think it through, Net Neutrality not only subsidized intrusive advertising, phishing scams and on-demand porn but also the very censorship these powerful companies now feel is their sacred duty to enforce because the government is now controlled by “the bad guys”.

Getting rid of Net Neutrality will put the costs of delivering all of this worthless content back onto the people serving it.  YouTube will become more expensive for Google and all of the other content-delivery networks.  Facebook video will eat into its bottom line.

The ISP’s can and should throttle them until they ‘pay their fair share,’ which they plainly have not been. Yes, your ISP may temporarily charge you more for Netflix or Hulu … although it’s more likely Netflix and Hulu will have to charge you more. We’ll then find out the real cost of delivering 4k streaming content to your iPhone actually costs.

Meanwhile, those costs will filter down to the ISP’s such that they can respond to demand for more bandwidth.  Of course AT&T will overcharge us because they are just as bad as bad as Google and Facebook, but … here’s where the rubber hits the road … consumer have a right to say “no” and stop using the services the way Net Neutrality’s mispricing of service encouraged us to. If the ISP’s want more customers then they’ll have to bring wire out to the hinterlands.

Net Neutrality proponents kept telling us this was the way to help keep the Internet available to the poor and the rural.  That’s ridiculous. I’m surrounded by rural and can say confidently that Net Neutrality kept the Internet from expanding properly into the countryside. While Fairbanks has cable and DSl, my brother who lives only about eight miles out of town has neither. He’s 10 or 15 years behind everyone else in getting decent bandwidth, yet he lives in a fairly densely built neighborhood. He has never streamed Netflix because the wiring to his house cannot support it. Instead,  he gets cable television from Dish Network, with a signal so weak it’s been known to cut out during a spring rain. (That’s not Dish’s fault, really, but a factor of their satellites barely being over the horizon at this latitude.

 

We’re still waiting for the phone provider in our residential area to upgrade the bandwidth.  We even installed a second line for Internet service, but the service is so overloaded, it dropped two or three times every evening. So we switched to cable, even though we don’t want cable television. Why are we still a half-decade or more behind the rest of the nation? The return on new lines isn’t high enough for them.

If Google was passing some of the profits from Adwords onto the ISPs, I’d have multiple choices for high-speed Internet versus just one DSL provider, and maybe I’d also have more than one choice for cable. And maybe it would be affordable. I currently pay $90 a month for Internet only, no cable television. It would be another $80 if we wanted to watch television. But we can stream Netflix and Hulu if we’re willing to pay the price.

As always, whenever the political left tries to protect the poor they wind up making things worse for them.

The news of Net Neutrality’s demise is good for a variety of reasons. With Net Neutrality gone, a major barrier to entry for content delivery networks is gone. Blockchain companies are building systems which cut the middle man out completely, allowing content creators to be directly tipped for their work versus being supported by advertising no one watches, wants or is swayed by.

Services like Steemit and the distributed application already built and to be built on it point the way to social media cost models which are sustainable and align the incentives properly between producers of content and consumers.

Steem internalizes the bandwidth costs of using the network and pays itself a part of its token reward pool to cover those costs.  So, all that’s left is content producers and their fans.  Advertisers are simply not needed to maintain the network.

Net Neutrality was a Trojan horse designed to replicate the old shout-based advertising model of the Golden Age of print and TV advertising.  It was a way to control the megaphone and promote a particular point of view.

Look no further than the main proponents of it.  George Soros and the Ford Foundation are two of the biggest lobbyists for Net Neutrality.  Only the political left and its Marxian fantasies of evil middle men creating monopolies fell for the lies.

The rest of us were like, “Really?  This is not a problem.”  And it wasn’t until you looked under the hood and realized all they stood to gain by it.

Now, with Net Neutrality gone the underlying problem can be addressed; franchise monopolies of cable and phone companies in geographic areas.  These laws are still in effect. They still hang like ice fog over the entire industry.  Like Net Neutrality, these laws concentrate capital into the hands of the few providers big enough to keep out the competition.

So, instead of championing the end of franchise monopolies, which county governments love because they get a sizable cut of the revenue to fund non-essential programs, the Left made things worse by championing Net Neutrality.

That also needs to end.  Even if you believe that franchise monopolies were, at one point, necessary, they aren’t now.  IP-based communication is now fundamentally different than copper wire for discrete services like phone and cable.  Let people run all the copper and fiber they want.  There’s plenty of room in the conduit running under our sidewalks and streets.

Then and only then will the Internet be free.

Posted January 9, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense

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