Archive for the ‘#lysanderspooner’ Tag

Snippets of Wisdom   Leave a comment

This thought didn’t come from me, but from a college-aged young man we know. He suggested the presidential candidates for 2020 need a “Bastiat for Beginners” course.

It started out with him asking me to remind him of my slogan for 2016 —

Crooks on my left, clowns on my right.

I’m not voting for either of you.

Toby explained he was really too young and immature to understand what I meant when I said that three years ago, but when he argued with me, I suggested he go read some intelligent discourse and come back to me before the next presidential election.

Image result for bastiat parasitic and voracious intermediary meme

He remembers being angry that I didn’t listen to him. After all, I haven’t been in a classroom for over a decade and times change and what do I know anyway? Of course, I didn’t stop learning, not when I graduated high school, not when I got my BA, and not when I got my Masters. I just gave myself permission to study books I’d never had time to study before — books that teachers find subversive because they suggest government employers are not all that good for society. Let us remember who most teachers work for.

I thought the conversation was over because I certainly don’t feel like I have more than an hour to waste on a stubborn 17-year-old, but my son (also 17 at the time) emailed Toby a pdf of Frederic Bastiat’s That Which is Seen and That Which is Unseen and Toby took it from there.

Now, at 20, he thinks Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump and the other myriad candidates should be forced to sit down and study Frederic Bastiat’s writings before they continue forward in this race. He also suggested Lysander Spooner, Randolph Bourne, Milton Friedman and John Locke, but I doubt they’re ready for the full monty treatment. For the record, Toby found those authors all on his own because Kiernan opened a door of reason for him. The kid plans to tackle Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty this winter. Toby’s a Political Science major so he could actually do something with this besides just chatter on the Internet.

I don’t think we’re going to get the 30-odd people who are running for US President for 2020 to get together in a classroom and study Bastiat and even if they did – well, yeah, they would refuse to absorb most of it (Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump and Joe Biden are all about on the same intellectual level and not amenable to learning). They already know everything they need to know to force me to live the life they believe I should live and want to live because they know better than me what my life should look like. Most of them don’t want to reason out what is good for society. They’re all about the feelings and virtue signalling. They don’t really care if their programs enslave people.

But hey, that doesn’t mean I can share some of the wisdom of Bastiat with willing readers. As you read the snippets, think about how that applies to 2020 and the US Presidency. I think if you do it right, you’ll never quite see the nanny state in the same way you did before.

Snippets of Wisdom

  1. “The State is the great fiction through which everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else.”
  2. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference: the one takes account only of the visible effect; the other takes account of both the effects which are seen and those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.”
  3. “[The socialists declare] that the State owes subsistence, well-being, and education to all its citizens; that it should be generous, charitable, involved in everything, devoted to everybody; …that it should intervene directly to relieve all suffering, satisfy and anticipate all wants, furnish capital to all enterprises, enlightenment to all minds, balm for all wounds, asylums for all the unfortunate… Who would not like to see all these benefits flow forth upon the world from the law, as from an inexhaustible source? … But is it possible? … Whence does [the State] draw those resources that it is urged to dispense by way of benefits to individuals? Is it not from the individuals themselves? How, then, can these resources be increased by passing through the hands of a parasitic and voracious intermediary?”
  4. “It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.”
  5. “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
  6. “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
  7. “If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”
  8. “It is not true that the function of law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our wills, our education, our opinions, our work, our trade, our talents, or our pleasures. The function of law is to protect the free exercise of these rights, and to prevent any person from interfering with the free exercise of these same rights by any other person…The existence of persons and property preceded the existence of the legislator, and his function is only to guarantee their safety.”
  9. “Leave people alone. God has given organs to this frail creature; let them develop and grow strong by exercise, use, experience, and liberty.”
  10. “Misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.”
  11. “The real cost of the State is the prosperity we do not see, the jobs that don’t exist, the technologies to which we do not have access, the businesses that do not come into existence, and the bright future that is stolen from us. The State has looted us just as surely as a robber who enters our home at night and steals all that we love.”
  12. “Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone.”
  13. “You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don’t you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.”
  14. “The mission of the law is not to oppress persons and plunder them of their property, even though the law may be acting in a philanthropic spirit. Its purpose is to protect persons and property…. If you exceed this proper limit—If you attempt to make the law religious, fraternal, equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, or artistic—you will then be lost in uncharted territory, in vagueness and uncertainty, in a forced utopia or, even worse, in a multitude of utopias, each striving to seize the law and impose it on you.”

Just read each one at a time and pause and think about the implications in our present society and the election of 2020.

Words of Election Wisdom   1 comment

Image result for lysander spooner a man is no less a slave

The blue wave turned out to be a blue ripple. The Democrats won a healthy, but narrow majority in the House and lost seats in the Senate. More tellingly, most state governorships remain in Republican hands. Democrats got a bump, but they didn’t flip big in any state. It was all fairly narrow margins. What does that mean?

Well, people were certainly energized and many new voters turned out to the polls. Democrats hoped they were energized against President Trump, but voters don’t appear to be so upset with President Trump that they are inclined to punish Republicans to a great degree. Suburban voters turned out against Trump — which I find interesting because they have the most to gain from Trump’s economy. Polling out of Texas suggests a disconnect between Democrats and the economic reality. That might change when they file their tax returns in the coming year. For the record, Trump’s tax reform saw a 10% increase in my family’s take-home pay from 2017 to 2018. I’m not a Trump supporter, but I am grateful for that bump which has allowed me to replenish a savings account that had been badly depleted by Obamacare-drive medical insurance premiums.

The Democrats can now exert some power in the federal government, but it is limited and checked power. That means they must either opt for “bipartisanship”, which under Republican presidents generally results in huge spending increases, or in gridlock, which isn’t a bad thing from a liberty perspective. Unfortunately, there are some huge things that need to be addressed – entitlement reform (including Obamacare and Obama’s massive expansion of the welfare state) and the debt being the biggest issues — and I think either way, this election result means those extremely important issues will not be addressed for at least another two years. But, Republicans didn’t exactly work on those issues in the two years they had control of all branches of government, so ….

I prefer divided government and gridlock. More issues may devolve to the states, which I also prefer. The blue ripple is better than a blue wave because it sends a clear message to Democrats that the voters don’t love them, they just don’t like unitarian government. It also sends a message to President Trump that he needs to work across the aisle. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, if he were a fiscal conservative, but he isn’t, so — who’s ready for $30 trillion in debt?

Anyone want to lay a long-term bet on how long the government can sustain deficit spending at these levels?

 

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

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