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Scott Lazarowitz's Blog Posts

Libertarianism Opposes Government Controls Over Education

My previous post on the main aspects of libertarianism (self-ownership, non-aggression, voluntary exchange) can and should be elaborated.

Another way of putting it as far as why libertarianism is the only philosophy that promotes freedom is that it includes the idea of “Live and Let Live.” I really wish that liberals or progressives and conservatives had more of an understanding of this.

For example, the statists want government to control the kids’ education. Leftist statists generally love federalization, i.e. centralized control over the kids’ education that we have had in the U.S. especially since 1980 when the federal Department of Education was imposed.

Conservative statists generally oppose that centralization, but still favor state and local governments having control.

The main difference between the two sides is their social agendas each wants the power of the government to force on the kids (on their neighbors’ kids). They don’t have a sense of “Live and Let Live,” and they come up with all these excuses as to why they oppose full privatization and that government should be in control.

The conservatives mainly want to instill a sense of “patriotism,” which to them includes saying the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag and singing the national anthem. They also want the government schools to teach “Judeo-Christian values” and the Bible, even though that’s unconstitutional. Oh, how the conservatives on talk radio get angry when someone like Colin Kaepernick (or kids in school) doesn’t want to stand for the national anthem, a song that glorifies war and killing, or doesn’t want to recite a ritualistic pledge of obedience to the government. For the conservatives, schooling is not about learning as much as it is about “respect for authority” (especially government, police and military).

For those reasons, the conservatives generally do not want to let go of local government control over the kids’ education. They don’t like the idea of eliminating local school committees and privatizing the schools. They don’t approve of repealing truancy laws, either.

The libertarians, however, love the idea of home schooling and privatizing schools. And that everything in education is voluntary. There would no longer be those arguments over dress codes, “zero tolerance,” reciting or not reciting the Pledge, and so on. The market would resolve those conflicts. Oh, how the conservatives hate “the market”!

But the liberals and progressives on the other side of the social agenda are just as bad, or worse. They are concerned with race, obsessed with racism to the point of their being the racists of today. They are concerned with “equality,” with forcing a certain number of female students in STEM classes whether the female students are interested or not. And the liberal and progressive activists are concerned with pushing their views of sexuality onto kids, including younger kids who are too young to be concerned with the “LGBT” agenda. Many activists are deeply disturbed, in my view, and they feel the transgender agenda is very important. Certainly much more important than the kids learning math and reading comprehension.

But since the activists know that most of the community reject their agenda if the education field were solely voluntary and privatized, that is why the activists insist on the extra forceful and compulsory nature of federalized involvement.

But just regarding the entire elimination of the federal Department of Education, the conservatives are so addicted to centralized power and control even they don’t like that idea. Look at the current education secretary, Betsy DeVos. Is she moving in any way to restore that control back to the states, at the very least? Nope.

And some people respond, “But if we privatize education then no one would have an adequate education, we’ll just have a bunch of dumb kids growing up to be dumb adults.”

Well, what do you think we have now? Look at all the young people in their teens, 20s and 30s who show so much historical ignorance. They are so dumb and brainwashed now that they believe that actual physical violence is justified against people whose ideas they don’t like, and that such opposed opinions are the things that should be banned by law. Talk about Orwellian.

And as I mentioned here, many of the young are on harmful prescription drugs as well as consume foods with other harmful chemical-laden substances that affect their thinking (well, not “thinking” but their brain activity, if there is any).

Just look how the educational ranking of the U.S. has sunk in all categories from reading to math from #1 to #35 or worse. Thanks to government education, government schools and government controls. Especially since the federal Department of Education began in 1980.

Look at all the iPhone-addicted zombies with their text-obsessions. In fact, I was returning to my building with groceries and this young guy was just leaving, totally involved in whatever he was staring at in his phone. Don’t leave the door open for me, pal. That’s okay. I’m only in my mid-50s. I’m sure if I was in my 70s it would’ve been the same thing. I hope he slips on a banana peel. (Just kidding. I’m a grump right now.)

So the liberals and progressives as well as the conservatives love authority, government authority, intruding itself into the kids education, which is really indoctrination not education.

And what is the libertarian aspect of this? Well, libertarians oppose the police state, which is really what all this comes down to. If parents don’t comply with the educrats’ diktats forced down on the kids, the government police will be called and the non-compliant will be taken off to the hoosegow and the kids will be seized by CPS. Or if the kids don’t follow “zero tolerance” rules, or if they express something interpreted as “racist” (or are merely accused of it), the kids are now arrested. So, the government-lovers in education are the police statists.

The problem is that early Americans abandoned the libertarian “Live and Let Live” philosophy of freedom that was a part of the country’s founding. The one institution that does not respect the lives and freedom of others is government, federal, state and local. But the people took it upon themselves to inflict government and its police powers into the education system, sadly.

Libertarianism Gets the Hatchet Job from the Left, the Right, and from Within

Alleged “libertarian” Stefan Molyneux tweeted “Assist Mexico by sending 11,000,000+ relief workers to help right now!” in response to Donald Trump’s tweet supporting the people of earthquake-ravaged Mexico. I guess the Molyneux tweet implies that he supports the current federal government central planning controls over immigration.

And then I saw another recent tweet of Molyneux’s: “To stop illegal immigration @realDonaldTrump needs to #BuildTheWall – no amnesty! #AmnestyDonald?”

While I hadn’t been that much familiar with Molyneux, I had thought he was a libertarian, and that he promoted “freedom.” His Wikipedia entry notes that he supports the non-aggression principle, a “stateless society,” and free markets.

Apparently not, if he wants central planners in Washington to build a government wall on the border, and believes that human beings need to get a bureaucrat’s permission to travel and find a better life for themselves and their families. I can’t believe the simple-mindedness in support of a government wall, like that will stop the many more immigrants who overstay their visas. (But it will be effective in keeping the people in, for sure.)

And the cluelessness of “libertarians” who support government controls over the movements of millions of people, which is impossible. What these so-called libertarians are really supporting is the police state, as Jacob Hornberger pointed out. These so-called libertarians support the government police stopping innocent people who are not suspects and being questioned by gubmint “authorities,” detained and asked for “your papers,” and possibly arrested.

These police-state libertarians also support anti-market economic controls over businesses and employers who, according to actual libertarian theory, otherwise have a right to employ who they believe to be the best for the job, which is the free market. Businesspeople and workers requiring a bureaucrat’s approval is not the free market, that’s “socialism”!

Sadly, Molyneux seems to have this collectivist mentality in which the population as a whole has a right to exclude foreign newcomers regardless of what private, independent individuals and groups want in their following the principle of private property rights.

And Robert Wenzel has a post on how the ignoramuses at the Washington Post smear libertarianism from the Left, some of whom have been propagandized to believe that there is some sort of “pipeline” between libertarianism and the so-called “alt-right.”

Wenzel is correct in stating that libertarianism doesn’t include neo-Nazis, who believe in central planning, centralized government controls just as much as the anti-liberty leftists. The difference between the leftists and the white supremacists is that their social agendas don’t seem to coincide.

As Wenzel notes, libertarianism is about freedom. Why are the smear merchants so opposed to that?

Libertarianism is the advocacy of self-ownership. Each individual is a self-owner. And libertarianism is about the non-aggression principle. Don’t initiate aggression against others. Don’t use physical aggression against others, don’t violate the persons or property of others. This is not complicated. And so don’t steal and don’t defraud, etc.

And naturally libertarianism also includes opposition to the State. We libertarians oppose the State no matter who is in charge, Trump, Obama, Reagan, whichever schmuck sock-puppet the people have propped up. That is because the State is a monopoly, an artificial institution whose existence is based on aggression, based on compulsion and coercion, not based on voluntary contracts. So many brainwashed people including many libertarians continue to rationalize the State as a “necessary evil,” “beneficial,” “important for security.”

You need to be deprogrammed, folks.

Here is what Murray Rothbard wrote about the State, in The Anatomy of the State:

The State, in the words of Oppenheimer, is the “organization of the political means”; it is the systematization of the predatory process over a given territory. For crime, at best, is sporadic and uncertain; the parasitism is ephemeral, and the coercive, parasitic lifeline may be cut off at any time by the resistance of the victims. The State provides a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property; it renders certain, secure, and relatively “peaceful” the lifeline of the parasitic caste in society. Since production must always precede predation, the free market is anterior to the State. The State has never been created by a “social contract”; it has always been born in conquest and exploitation. The classic paradigm was a conquering tribe pausing in its time-honored method of looting and murdering a conquered tribe, to realize that the time-span of plunder would be longer and more secure, and the situation more pleasant, if the conquered tribe were allowed to live and produce, with the conquerors settling among them as rulers exacting a steady annual tribute.

And as I wrote in this article on libertarianism:

consumers choose voluntarily to patronize various businesses, and they voluntarily establish mutually beneficial contracts. However, if one party uses some kind of coercion or threats against the other, we would call that something of a criminal nature.

Libertarians believe in voluntary associations, relationships and contracts. If something is involuntary or coerced, then it is not only illegitimate but it is criminal. Libertarians believe in non-aggression. Obviously it would take the initiation of aggression to force someone to obey the bureaucrats’ authority.

Did you voluntarily consent to some various people or agency having some kind of artificial authority over your life? Did you actually ponder the legitimacy of some politicians making up new laws or rules that you must obey or prohibitions that you must avoid, whether you agree with it or not?

Now, if you support the income tax, which is involuntary confiscation of private wealth and income, then you are not a libertarian. Not only is that scheme in the absence of a voluntary contract but in it the government demands from you your private personal information that is none of the bureaucrats’ business, just as it’s none of your neighbors’ business.

The government carries out those demands by way of threats, coercion, and violence. You are no longer a self-owner, but you and your labor are the property of the government.

There are “libertarians” who support these government confiscations of private property. These people are statists, socialists, fascists, communists, anything BUT libertarians!

The same thing with ObamaCare or any other health care scheme imposed by bureaucrats. The government demands from you, your doctor or hospital your private medical information. There are “libertarians” who support these things. They don’t believe in private property and private property rights, privacy, or voluntary contracts.

And some people seem to have a mistaken view of libertarianism when it comes to social matters. No, taking drugs, smoking marijuana, etc. is not “libertarian.” Promoting the freedom of the individual to do those things, associated with self-ownership, is the libertarian view.

Racism, white supremacy, sexism, etc. are not “libertarian” views. There are no “libertarian” social views. The libertarian believes in freedom of thought and conscience. So in freedom you can have racist views, or non-racist views. You can believe in white supremacy if you want to, or not if you don’t want to. You can believe in black supremacy, male supremacy, female supremacy, American supremacy, whatever. Whatever stupid thing your little heart desires. However, you can’t act out your views if such acting out might violate the persons or property of others.

Libertarianism is about freedom. Freedom of speech, thought and conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of association, freedom of non-association (the freedom to not associate with others based on anything you want, even if you’re a racist ignoramus), freedom to live and to protect oneself from the aggression of others and possess the arms to do so, etc.

In relationship to the State (if there must be a State), libertarianism also generally supports the right to due process and presumption of innocence. If someone accuses you of something (of a crime, of being a racist, of “hate crime,” anything that’s “bad”), you have a right to require the accuser to present evidence to prove the accusations. As we saw with the “antifa” riots recently, some people literally pointed out people at random, called them “Nazi” and physically beat up on them. Not good. Those antifa should think twice about that anti-social, violent behavior, because some day someone will accuse them of something (like the gubmint accusing them of being a “terrorist” without evidence and imprisoning them indefinitely) and their not having the ability to require the accusers to present evidence will cause them much harm.

For more on libertarianism, read The Ethics of Liberty by Rothbard, Jacob Huebert’s book, Libertarianism Today, and I have a list of recommended books most of which are of a libertarian viewpoint.

What Is Going On with Today’s Youth?

In the U.S., depression and suicide rates among teens have been increasing steadily. Anxiety, depression and suicide rates on college campuses have been on the increase over the past 10 years, and the rates of mental health issues and suicides have increased by 10 times in U.K. universities.

What is causing all this dysfunction?

Some people blame social media and the pressures of starting school in the fall, and Smartphones.

Apparently, younger kids are exposed to more and more sophisticated material and graphics which influence their thoughts and behavior.

There is also the irrationality that society is imposing on today’s youths. Kids who are harmless and are merely acting like normal kids are misdiagnosed with ADHD (being “hyper-active” or having an “attention-deficit,” etc.) or autism, and are needlessly medicated.

Besides the misdiagnoses, as the Rutherford Institute’s John Whitehead points out, innocent behaviors by kids are criminalized as well. For example, if a kid cuts a sandwich into the shape of a gun, the zero tolerance zombies actually call the police on him.

Another phenomenon affecting the youths is the prevalence of psychiatric drugs (in adults, too).

A major study released last year showed that antidepressants can increase the risk of suicide. Some common antidepressants include Zoloft, Luvox, Celexa, Prozak, and Paxil. (Xanax has also been prescribed for depression, although it is actually an anti-anxiety drug. Like the aforementioned drugs, Xanax has been associated with disastrous side effects, as I wrote here.)

Among antidepressant possible side effects are the worsening of the user’s depression, or causing an increase in stress or anxiety. In some cases, antidepressants can actually cause someone to be depressed.

According to psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin, antidepressants have been shown to cause long-term depression and other side effects.

Dr. Breggin has published this series on the Michelle Carter case. That’s the teen who was recently convicted of “texting her boyfriend into committing suicide.” Dr. Breggin’s series is quite extensive on that whole case. According to Dr. Breggin, who gave expert testimony at that trial, Ms. Carter and her late boyfriend had been taking prescription antidepressants for years up to that terrible moment. Dr. Breggin considers them both “victims of psychiatry.”

Dr. Breggin has also written on the hazards of prescribing Ritalin to children diagnosed with ADHD, and has written on the misdiagnosing of children, noting how anti-ADHD drugs have been shown to stunt kids’ growth and cause brain shrinkage, among other problems. (Here is Dr. Breggin’s informative page on children and psychiatric drugs.)

Dr. Breggin has also noted how pharmaceutical companies’ marketing strategies have pointed them toward the U.S. armed forces, some of whose members are taking dangerous combinations of drugs, and in which the suicide rate of servicemen is at an all-time high. According to military psychologist Col. Bart Billings, the military psychiatrists “have no clue about what they’re doing.” (So reassuring, isn’t it?)

Incidentally, if someone wanted to stop taking antidepressants, to prevent dangerous withdrawal symptoms see Dr. Breggin’s book on psychiatric drug withdrawal, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Their Families.

Besides those kinds of drugs poisoning the kids and stunting their physical, emotional and intellectual growth, there are also vaccines (and too many of them), the harmful chemicals in processed foods and food dyes, and harmful street drugs.

By the time they’re at the end of their k-12 careers, it’s no wonder many of the youths are so troubled.

Besides all those factors, some further irrationality that could be troubling today’s youth includes the climate change/global warming cult with which the schools and activists like Al Gore have been indoctrinating and terrorizing the kids. “The coasts will flood with rising sea levels and there will be world-wide poverty,” the hysterical alarmists inaccurately warned.

Some of what the impressionable youngins have been indoctrinated with includes the idea of human-caused climate change as “settled science,” rejecting the scientific method and skepticism. That “settled science” really consists of an ideological mantra that must not be questioned, or else one is labeled a “denier.”

Do the climate change/global warming activists ever wonder what caused any of the several ice ages from several hundred million years ago to eventually warm up? Were there cars or industries back then? Were there any Al Gores polluting the air with their private jets on the way to the latest global warming conference? I think not.

But, the fanatics sure did terrorize and propagandize the kids in the schools, which is exactly what Gore’s movie, “Inconvenient Truth” did, in my view. And that climate propaganda is in addition to the post-9/11 hysteria imposed by Washington on the rest of the world.

And with the “transgender” agenda, the activists and bureaucrats of the schools are messing with the kids’ most private aspects of their lives, their sexuality, and confusing the kids.

Believe it or not, there are actually only two genders, male and female. Now that’s “settled science.” As Brendan O’Neill put it, while a male has a right to say he is a female, the rest of us also have a right to say the truth, that he is a male.

It is unfortunate that some people are gender-confused, but I think that probably reflects a confusion over their general overall self-identities.

In my view, a lot of young people’s understanding of themselves, relationships and intimacy has been abused by manipulative social activists. This has terrible negative effects like the drugs and other abusive treatments and misdiagnosing.

Doing further harm to children are the ignorant parents pushing their kids to change genders at young ages (like pre-school young), just because the child expresses an interest to be like the opposite gender. Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh has stated that most of those kids naturally outgrow such feelings over time.

And according to Dr. McHugh, some doctors give gender-confused kids “puberty-delaying hormones … (which) stunt the children’s growth and risk causing sterility.”

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide, compared to the national average of 4.6% of Americans in general.

With the activists’ destructive social agendas, the psychiatric industry’s drugs and the street drugs, the chemicals in processed foods, and the daily propaganda forced on the youths, no wonder they are “triggered” by the littlest things, need “safe spaces,” are flooding school counseling offices, and rates of depression and suicide are so high now.

(end of article)

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Addendum: I sent this piece to one website as a formal article, and they replied that it was “confusing.” Is it really confusing? I don’t think so. And so I made some slight changes and sent it to a 2nd place, who also turned it down. If you think this piece is confusing or has problems with it, I’d appreciate some feedback, and thanks.

The Dangers of Facial Recognition Technology

Some big problems with “facial recognition technology” are that if there are corporate or government databases of people’s faces for computers to match a suspect or a prospective worker or bank account applicant, there are privacy concerns, as mentioned in this Computer World article, which also raises personal security concerns.

And there are the false positives. This article notes how the FBI doesn’t record the number of false positives that have occurred with its facial recognition program. But this article on the Intercept describes in detail the inevitable reality of false positives that will cause many people to be falsely accused, arrested, detained, tried and convicted for crimes they had nothing to do with. In fact, the Intercept article also details one story of a guy who was assaulted and badly injured by police and falsely jailed for a bank robbery but for which surveillance video from his employer had provided his alibi. And the same situation happened a second time to the same guy.

We already know that fingerprinting can produce false positives, as well as DNA databases, let alone facial recognition. According to this CBS News article about DNA false positives leading to people being falsely convicted of crimes they had nothing to do with, DNA testing has to be administered properly in the first place, and its analyses are subject to “interpretation.”

The Innocence Project covers many cases of victims of false accusation, false conviction and false imprisonment based on DNA and other sources of false evidence.

This Wired article shows how Apple’s FaceID will be used for mass spying, and this article on Activist Post shows how government police can unlock your phone that has Apple FaceID by pointing it at your face and then accessing all your private information.

I know that privacy is a concern with many people, but really the concern should be security. All these technologies that government bureaucrats have now are providing government agencies with the ability to not only violate your life and your privacy, but the ability to commit crimes against your person and property, your home or business much more than they have already been doing and get away with it even more than they are already getting away with it.

So there are very good reasons why there should never be government databases of anyone’s personal information or ID characteristics. Government attracts the worst of the worst to its employment, and they are the ones who should never be trusted with these kinds of things.

Carl Watner discusses the National ID program that communists (a.k.a. fascists, a.k.a. “Democrats” and “Republicans”) in Washington want to further enslave the people with, and many of his points are related to all this.

Watner points out:

My objection to government enumeration and data gathering is not to the collection and registration of information per se, but rather to the coercive nature of the institution that gathers it. If some private organization chooses to solicit information from me, I may or may not respond. However, I will suffer no criminal penalties if I refuse to cooperate. When the State demands we conform to its identification procedures or collects information about us and our affairs, there are usually fines, penalties, or imprisonment for those who do not cooperate.

There is a definite ethical question involved in justifying government data gathering. Is it morally proper to coerce those who refuse to participate in enumeration programs or provide information demanded by the government? Do the ends justify the means?

Many times throughout history, government collection of seemingly innocent data (such as tribal or ethnic or racial affiliation) has resulted in horrible and deplorable genocide. The uses (and the abuses which are ultimately inherent in government administration) of government information in identifying and locating the civilian victims of the Nazis during World War II, or of the blacks in South Africa, or of the Tutsis in Rwanda, would, by themselves, be reason enough to question and then demand the cessation of government enumeration. The numbering and internment in the United States of over 100,000 American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II should be sufficient to prove my point. But even if it could be proven that government data collection benefits society in other ways (thus using the ends to justify the means), I would still be opposed because government necessarily has to act coercively in the manner in which it collects such information. I believe this to be wrong from an ethical perspective, and believe it sets the stage for the sorts of human right abuses that we have experienced under every species of government, whether democratic or totalitarian. As Robert Nisbet once noted, “With all respect to differences among types of government, there is not, in strict theory, any difference between the powers available to the democratic and to the totalitarian State.”

More reasons to oppose ALL government databases.

However, when it comes to protecting our freedom, our security and our privacy, federal, state and local government bureaucrats and their enforcers have sworn an oath to support and protect the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution includes the Fourth Amendment that they all must obey, whether they like it or not.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized

“Persons” includes your face, your fingerprints, and your DNA, and “effects” includes your phones and other gadgets you happen to have (regardless of what the courts might ignorantly decide in these cases).

Hypocritical Bureaucratic Vultures

You’ve probably already heard this. The commie mayor of New York City, Bill De Blasio, hates private property. The Soviet-leader wannabe says,

Look, if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed. And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents. That’s a world I’d love to see, and I think what we have, in this city at least, are people who would love to have the New Deal back, on one level. They’d love to have a very, very powerful government, including a federal government, involved in directly addressing their day-to-day reality.

It is unfortunate that so many people now are brainwashed with such irrational idealism, and are so incredibly ignorant of past attempts to centrally plan society via outlawing private property. This same agenda is being promoted throughout America’s colleges and public schools, the entertainment industry and, sadly, the Press (who should know better!).

As economics and business professor Richard Ebeling pointed out,

The entire history of communism in the twentieth century was that of tyranny, terror and torture.

learned historians of the communist experience in the twentieth century had estimated that in the name of building the bright, beautiful socialist society of the future as many as 150 million to possibly 200 million unarmed, innocent men, women and children were shot, tortured, starved, or worked to death in labor camps as “enemies of the people.” …

Estimates suggest that as many as 64 to 68 million people may have died at the hands of the communist regime in these ways during the nearly 75 years of the Soviet Union. Others have suggested that as many as 80 million of such innocent people may have been killed, again, from starvation, torture, labor camp work or execution in China from 1949 when the communist regime came to power to 1976 when Mao Zedong died.

Read Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900, by University of Hawaii professor emeritus R.J. Rummel. Here is his university page on that.

In 1991, when the communist Soviet Union was crashing and collapsing, Mises Institute scholar Bettina Bien Greaves wrote:

More than 70 years have passed since the Russian Revolution and 45 years since the end of World War n. Why then do the Russian people still lack adequate housing and many everyday items? Why does agricultural produce rot in the fields for lack of equipment to harvest and transport it? Why are factories and oil fields so poorly maintained that production declines? Because the raw materials, tools, machines, factories, and farms are not privately owned. Without the bids and offers of private owners, prices reflecting their relative market values cannot develop. And without market prices, it is impossible to coordinate production activities so that the goods and services consumers need will be available. That is why Communism fails.

In a competitive economy, where factors of production are privately owned, these problems are solved daily as owners calculate the monetary values of the various factors and then buy, sell, and trade them as seems desirable, As Mises wrote in 1920, “Every step that takes us away from private ownership of the means of production and from the use of money also takes us away from rational economics.”

Sadly, when the Soviet Union was collapsing, even though there were reforms De Blasio’s worshiped Soviet commies were clinging to their communist controls and using reforms to prop up the Communist Party, explained economist Yuri Maltsev, who lived through the Soviet Union and its collapse. (Read Maltsev’s book, Requiem for Marx, which includes essays by Ralph Raico, Murray Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe and David Gordon.)

So really, this obsession by the De Blasios of the world to take over private property and seize power and control over just about every aspect of daily life of the people, is an example of extreme envy and covetousness. It is an example that these control freaks do not believe in the principles of liberty, self-ownership and “Live and Let Live.”

But wait, it seems that this Bill De Blasio person with such a contempt for private property and liberty actually owns private property. Not only is he an owner, but a landlord (Ooooh!) according to the New York Post, which also points out that De Blasio has been “gaming the tax code” to avoid losses rather than giving his tenants a break on their rents. (In the end, communists are also “greedy capitalists,” so maybe on this anti-private property stuff De Blasio should shut up, no?)

The Ethics and Economics of “Price Gouging”

The notorious “price-gouging” issue has been in the news again, this time associated with hurricanes Harvey in Houston and Irma in Florida. For instance, ignoramus politicians like Florida attorney general Pam Bondi are threatening private businesses with legal action, public shaming, everything but the firing squad. If only politicians actually read a thing or two on economics, or thought things through beyond their usual short-sightedness. On the “price-gouging” issue, they don’t realize that they are causing shortages and hurting the people, not helping them.

Jacob Hornberger comments on “price-gouging”:

In a hurricane, things like bottled water or ice will naturally soar in price. That’s because supply of such items is suddenly scarce and demand suddenly high.

The extremely high price is a good thing, not a bad thing. Why? Because the enormously high price sends critically important signals to both consumers and entrepreneurs.

The signal to consumers is: Conserve! Be cautious on how you use this water. Don’t waste it. There is a very small supply of it.

The signal to entrepreneurs is: Bring bottled water into this area. It is badly needed. It is in extremely short supply.

Now, think about what happens under a government’s anti-gouging law. The limited supply of bottled water in Houston after the hurricane strikes isn’t changed. It remains the same, only now the seller is required to sell his product at the pre-crisis price, which is significantly lower than the price dictated by the law of supply and demand. That lower price falsely tells consumers: You don’t need to conserve because there is plenty of bottled water here in Houston. It also tells entrepreneurs: You don’t need to bring bottled water into Houston and you’re not going to make a big profit if you do.

The stores quickly sell out of the available bottled water, which is quickly consumed, perhaps even wasted. And it’s all because people think that the government can and should repeal the law of supply and demand during hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Robert Murphy at the Mises Institute expands on those points.

Don Boudreaux responds to an emailer who says it’s wrong to “force people to pay higher prices for supplies in disaster areas.”

And Prof. Boudreax also writes:

under such severe circumstances, too often the choice is not, say, a bottle of water for $25.00 or a bottle of water for $2.50.  The choice instead is a bottle of water for $25.00 or no bottle of water for $2.50.  No one wants to pay $25.00 for a bottle of water, but no person desperate for water will reject the option of buying a bottle of water for $25.00 if the alternative is to have no water to buy at the government-capped price of $2.50.  Harsh as they are, these alternatives – high prices for goods that are available, or low prices for goods that are not available – are typically the ones that confront people in disaster-ravaged areas.

And Laurence Vance comments on the private property rights aspect of the “price gouging” issue.

If I own a bottle of water it is my property. It belongs to me. No one has a claim on it. If I want to pour it out in down the drain, then that is my business, and not the concern of government. If I want to give it away, then that is my business, and not the concern of government. If I want to sell it for a high price to a willing buyer, then that is my business, and not the concern of government. If I want to keep it in my refrigerator until the end of time, then that is my business, and not the concern of government.

These things are true of every bottle of water I own. These things are true whether or not I own a business that regularly sells water. These things are true whether or not someone is dying of thirst. These things are true in the middle of a hurricane. These things are true even if you wish they weren’t.

And finally, Laurence Vance asks some questions:

At what level of price increase does it become price gouging? A 100 percent increase? A 50 percent increase? A 20 percent increase? What about a 10 percent increase? Why or why not? All goods or just “essential” goods? For what period of time? How intense does a storm have to be in order to trigger price gouging laws? For the government to try and calculate how much prices should be allowed to rise on certain goods before, during, and after a natural disaster is pure Soviet-style central planning. Price-gouging laws are contrary the free market, free enterprise, and freedom itself.

 

Collectivist Cognitive Dissonance on the Immigration Issue

When it comes to the immigration issue, some conservatives and libertarians believe that “open borders” are a “suicide pact.” They seem to support the feds’ enforcement of artificial government borders, at the expense of private property and private property rights.

The real libertarian view on this immigration issue includes the ideas of freedom, self-ownership and private property. For example, the businessman owns his own business and has a right to hire anyone he wants from anywhere in the world that he determines to be the best qualified for the job, not according to what the government determines, or what a bureaucrat says.

And the individual owns one’s own life and has the freedom to go to where the individual determines is the best place to make a better life for oneself and one’s family. Freedom is you doing what you believe is right, without having to get the permission of the government, whether you are the businessman hiring workers or the worker finding work.

As long as one doesn’t violate the person or property of others, of course. It’s not complicated. Don’t steal, don’t defraud, don’t trespass on private property.

And that’s where the conservatives come in with their collectivist nationalism stuff, in which they really don’t support the ideas of private property and private property rights. These collectivist nationalists and conservatives believe that the entire territory of “America” is collectively owned, by the citizens. If you don’t have “citizenship” and you are here without the government’s permission then you are an “intruder.” Never mind that some private property owners or business owners want to have the widest selection of workers from which to choose to work for them. To the collectivist nationalists and conservatives, private property owners don’t really fully own their property. The government has the final say as to who may or may not enter “your” property.

Besides private property, it’s also a freedom issue here. Don’t all human beings have an unalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”? Some people believe that those words from the Declaration of Independence only apply to “American citizens.” They don’t seem to understand that “unalienable” refers to rights which preexist the formation of any government or any nation, or any artificial political borders. So, if there are “natural rights,” or unalienable rights, then all human beings have them.

With so many millions of Americans who say they believe in “freedom” and the unalienable rights as referred to in the Declaration of Independence, really it’s “freedom for me but not for thee,” sadly. Having “citizenship” to them is like belonging to a private club. I even heard one collectivist conservative talk radio personality Jeff Kuhner refer to us Americans as being one family and that “illegal immigrants” are “breaking into our home” and we have a right to exclude them or “arrest the trespassers.” Like Ann Coulter, he is yet another conservative who doesn’t believe in private property rights.

The conservatives do a lot of contortionist acts in their defense of collectivist ownership of a territory, and the collective may exclude “outsiders,” even though there are many private inhabitants of the territory who want to willingly invite foreigners onto their property. (I’m not talking about political entities such as “sanctuary cities,” but private property such as restaurants, hotels and other businesses, and apartment buildings owned by private landlords who want to rent to responsible workers who will pay the rent, regardless of government permission slips.)

Sadly, the leftists don’t get those ideas either. The leftists want to bring in the “third world,” which also includes new voters for the Democrat Party to further “tax” the producers and steal more from them and give everyone a “guaranteed income.”

However, the conservatives borrow from the Left their envy and covetousness of the entrepreneur’s earnings and productivity. The conservatives believe that only “Americans” (government-authorized “citizens”) are entitled to find employment or start businesses in America, not unauthorized foreigners. So the conservatives also have that entitlement mentality like those on the Left.

And another thing with the conservatives like Ann Coulter and anti-private property libertarians, they are so concerned about the crime that “illegals” bring with them to the U.S., and constantly and obsessively cite this or that violent assault or murder committed by an unauthorized immigrant. But they remain quiet about those crimes committed by American citizens. It really has to do with the “foreigner” status of someone.

And if they are so concerned about crime, then why don’t the conservatives discuss the right to self-defense of victims, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms? Sure, they bring up those issues when the gun control issue is in the news. But they aren’t discussing those things at other times, or in the context of this alleged terrible crime wave being caused by “illegals.” It really has to do with foreigners, in my view.

And another point the conservatives and some libertarians make about the “illegal immigration” issue is that the foreigners come in and get on welfare (although some of them do). Why don’t conservatives ever discuss the problem of the welfare state? They never say on those ignorant talk radio discussions to get rid of the welfare state.

This is because the conservatives support the welfare state. They support Social Security, in which the government steals money from Ann Coulter to take care of Mr. Smith’s grandmother down the street, which is essentially what Social Security is: a redistribution of wealth scheme. The same with Medicare and Medicaid and all the rest. No, the issue with the collectivist-minded conservatives is foreigners.

Not only do the conservatives (and some “libertarians,” by the way) support welfare and don’t seem to care as much about the right of the people to self-defense and the right of the people to keep and bear arms, but especially with immigration controls they support central planning. That is what these government-imposed immigration controls are, an example of central planning. Jacob Hornberger explained how immigration controls are a part of socialist central planning:

Many people are surprised to learn that immigration controls are a socialist program … it also encompasses programs that engage in central planning.

What is central planning? It is when the government plans, directs, and controls some aspect of economic activity. A government board, department, legislative body, or agency plans, in a top-down, command-and-control manner the economic activities of hundreds, thousands, or millions of people.

The problem is that there is no way that the planner can competently make decisions regarding supply and demand. That’s because market conditions, as reflected by people’s perceptions, wishes, desires, valuations, supplies, and demands, are changing on a minute-by-minute basis. There is no way that the planner can know about all these changes in real time and factor them into his planning decisions. The Nobel Prize winning Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek called this phenomenon the “pretense of knowledge” and the “fatal conceit” of the planner.

Just as with the drug war’s unjust laws, the enforcement of which violates the rights of innocent people, statist immigration central planning imposes unjust laws, the enforcement of which violates the rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of innocent people, as Tom Knapp noted.

And the anti-foreigner activists and pundits live in a fantasy land, in which building a government wall on the government border will “protect” them from foreigners. Ask the people of the former East Germany how they liked their government wall. So, when the wall is built, what will a President Hillary do with it? Hmmm?

One prominent libertarian, Lew Rockwell, seemed to write favorably about Ludwig von Mises’s view of nationalism, culture and “open borders.”

Only if we lived in a completely laissez-faire world would the immigration problem come to an end. Then people would be free to associate, or not to associate, as they wish. Until then, people who wish to restrict immigration in order to preserve their own language and culture aren’t unreasonable, according to Mises.

The problem with America preserving a culture is that the U.S. as it stands now is just too damn big.

When the early Americans founded America, they had just the original 13 colonies/states, and while many people believed in the idea of “manifest destiny,” the further expansion of the United States of America in its claim of territory across North America, some did not.

You would think that the so-called founders would view Europe as a guide — with Italy and its own separate culture and language, England with its own separate language and culture, Spain, Germany, and so on.

Just where is the cultural unity between the people of New York and the people of Wyoming? Or between the people of California and the people of Mississippi? So culturally, political expansionism is just unrealistic.

The early Americans just didn’t see how a future of attempting to combine many states, spanning hundreds of thousands of square miles and accumulating several hundred million people, would naturally experience cultural conflicts — let alone the idea of such a large territory being under the ruling control legally and politically of a single centralized power structure in Washington, what a BAD idea THAT was!

The U.S. is just too damn big, it shouldn’t be ruled by a small elite in Washington, and the people of this territory need to decentralize and get rid of Washington altogether. They need to rediscover the importance of private property and voluntary association. Let the people themselves control who enters and who does not enter their property, not the government!

A Labor Day Rerun: “Labor Has Value”

I wrote this in 2009 and I’ll repost it today for Labor Day.

Labor Has Value

October 17, 2009

Obama Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg is demanding that Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis receive no salary nor bonus for 2009, and will also have to repay the bank the $1 million he’s already earned. Granted that BOA was one of the large financial institutions that received TARP Bailout money, and that the takeover by BOA of Merrill Lynch (for which Lewis had strong reservations) was quite controversial, still, the very idea of a “Pay Czar” is very fascist in nature, like many of President Obama’s policies and proposals. There’s little doubt that it will go from applying to companies receiving TARP money to all businesses, and this kind of government intrusion into the private sector only comes from the resentment and envy of the Left, and control-freak politicians.

A private business, no matter how large, has a right to pay its CEO and top executives what the owners and shareholders think their labor is worth. Many people don’t see what the executives do as “labor,” but that concept includes intellectual as well as physical labor. A CEO doesn’t just sit there at his or her desk looking out the window, but makes very important, sometimes stressful decisions. A lot of pressure, for example, was on Ken Lewis when he was testifying before Congress regarding his misgivings on the Merrill Lynch acquisition. Just one decision by a company CEO can affect millions of people, and billions of dollars. Most business owners and shareholders think that their CEOs’ labor is worth their high salaries.

Likewise, the NFL (in the news a lot this week) values the labor of dog-fighter/dog-executioner Michael Vick and that’s why the NFL hired him back, although fans have been split on that. That reflects more on the decline of values in America in recent years. But Vick’s labor is valued.

When or if the government takes over the entire medical care system, the value of doctors’ and nurses’ labor will decline, along with the quality of care. Already we are seeing doctors planning to retire early or college students deciding against that profession if the government takes over. Those less skilled but who don’t mind being servants of the state will enter the profession as government doctors. The good doctors now are usually those who prefer independence, and who value the confidential relationship between doctor and patient. Doctors and nurses will be paid what government officials, not markets, decide their labor’s value is worth, hence the decline in quality.

We can see how things get devalued when controlled by government bureaucrats. Just look at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And look at the products of government-run (aka “public”) schools.

A further example of that has been the Cash For Clunkers program, with more people trading in their clunkers for foreign made vehicles, because of the decline in the value of American-made cars. That isn’t just because of the government takeover of General Motors, but in large part because the quality of American-made cars has declined over the years, as the labor unions’ workers compensation and benefits packages have greatly increased.

And that situation isn’t because their employers put a higher value on their labor, but because of the unions’ strong-arm tactics and pressures on the auto makers. In contrast, the Americans who work at Toyota plants in the United States, for example,  are payed less and, with the exception of at only one plant which is closing next year, are not unionized. Toyota pays American workers the value of their labor, calculated much more accurately according to buyers in the free market and the employers, not an organized labor union.

The value of labor and the products of labor are promoted by freedom and free markets, and downgraded by mobs and government intrusions.

Why Extend the U.S. Government’s War in Afghanistan? “Follow the Money,” as They Say

Arthur Silber has a post with comments on the U.S. government-led aggressions in Afghanistan, that Sec. of “Defense” James “Mad Dog” Mattis wants to escalate even more after 16 years. Silber notes that while some observers believe the U.S. bureaucrats’ policy in Afghanistan has been a failure for 16 years, it really hasn’t been a failure for the power-seeking bureaucrats, the hegemonists and their bankster and security/weapons industry cronies who have been enriching themselves at the expense of the workers and producers of America.

Silber linked to one of his earlier posts which links to several other earlier posts as well as cites Robert Higgs. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out which links go with which Robert Higgs quotes, so I’ll just provide some quotes here from both Silber and Higgs.

The main Robert Higgs quote is the following (and I finally found the article from which this is quoted, which is apparently an open letter to Prof. Andrew Bacevich in response to Bacevich’s article in The American Conservative).

As a general rule for understanding public policies, I insist that there are no persistent “failed” policies. Policies that do not achieve their desired outcomes for the actual powers-that-be are quickly changed. If you want to know why the U.S. policies have been what they have been for the past sixty years, you need only comply with that invaluable rule of inquiry in politics: follow the money.

When you do so, I believe you will find U.S. policies in the Middle East to have been wildly successful, so successful that the gains they have produced for the movers and shakers in the petrochemical, financial, and weapons industries (which is approximately to say, for those who have the greatest influence in determining U.S. foreign policies) must surely be counted in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

So U.S. soldiers get killed, so Palestinians get insulted, robbed, and confined to a set of squalid concentration areas, so the “peace process” never gets far from square one, etc., etc. – none of this makes the policies failures; these things are all surface froth, costs not borne by the policy makers themselves but by the cannon-fodder masses, the bovine taxpayers at large, and foreigners who count for nothing.

And Arthur Silber writes:

If U.S. policy in Afghanistan were truly a failure — a failure, that is, to the actual powers-that-be — it would have been changed in five years at the outside, and probably sooner. The fact that it has not changed, certainly not in terms of essentials, means that the powers-that-be are achieving precisely what they want. In addition to the benefits identified by Higgs, there is one additional over-arching goal that the damnable powers-that-be share, and believe in to the core of their putrid, twisted little hearts: that the United States is entitled to and must have geopolitical dominance.

If you have a few spare minutes, look at Afghanistan on a map. It’s right smack in the middle of everything. Consequently, it’s of enormous strategic importance. As a very nice additional benefit, one especially appreciated by the endlessly greedy, grasping powers-that-be, it happens to be sitting on very valuable natural resources. So what if lots of innocent people die? So what if the country is a wreck in terms of an independent, functioning government? What makes you think the powers-that-be actually want an independent, functioning government? They didn’t want one in Iraq, and they don’t want one in Afghanistan. (And they have never wanted independent, functioning governments in all the other countries in which the U.S. has intervened over many decades, openly or covertly.) More troops for Afghanistan? That doesn’t mean that U.S policy is a failure. It signifies that the U.S. is more than ever committed to its policy of dominance and control over as much of the world as possible. We will not be leaving Afghanistan, or the Middle East (or Africa, or Asia, or or or…) anytime soon.

In his linked earlier post Silber also links to this other very important extensive article by Robert Higgs from 2008.

If you are interested in reading more of Arthur Silber’s writing, some other important past posts by Arthur Silber include this one on the Obama “Kill List”; this one on what the U.S. military has done to the people of Iraq; this post, this post, this post, this post and this one on WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley Manning), Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald.

Also in the most recent post linked at the top, Arthur asks for donations because he needs help paying his rent. He has some medical issues including a heart condition, and he lives in Los Angeles which is currently suffering a major heat wave. I believe he’s in his late-60s and lives alone with his cat. He probably doesn’t want to consider any kind of SSDI or Medicare, which I believe was the same situation as another anti-militarism writer, William Grigg who died in April. (When William Grigg died, I had suggested that perhaps even libertarians and anarchists can consider getting financial assistance just to help them to survive. I keep saying that Medicare should be abolished along with Medicaid, Social Security, etc. But, as long as those programs do exist, as long as no fraud is involved, then someone’s receiving government financial aid is not “criminal,” “receiving stolen loot,” or “parasitism” when someone is truly in need.)

In USSA, the Criminals Are in Charge

The corrupt FBI has sent attorney Ty Clevenger a response to his FOIA request to release documents pertaining to the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The FBI wrote to Clevenger, “You have not sufficiently demonstrated that the public’s interest in disclosure outweighs personal privacy interests of the subject.” Clevenger wrote on August 12 that “FBI manager David M. Hardy said I would have to prove one of three things in order to get the records: (1) Mrs. Clinton consented to the release of the records; (2) Mrs. Clinton is dead; or (3) my request pertains to a matter of public interest.”

This should be of no surprise, given that former FBI director James Comey already started working on his clearing of Mrs. Clinton before the FBI even interviewed her or other key witnesses, according to the Washington Examiner. Yet, these latest revelations about the FBI’s rejection of the FOIA request are occurring during this month since the new FBI director Christopher Wray was sworn in.

Obviously the new boss same as the old boss Christopher Wray (Is he related to Fay?) was not the right choice for Donald Trump to “drain the swamp” at the FBI. In fact, The Donald not only isn’t draining the swamp, he’s filling it up with more and more sewage, more filth. As I’ve mentioned a few times now, all those damn generals he has surrounding him ruined Iraq and Afghanistan yet he wants them to control foreign policy! Washington is a swamp and Trump is not draining it! He’s a disgrace, as far as I’m concerned.

So the FBI is covering up for Hillary with the email investigation. With that cover-up is the witch hunt with so-called “special counsel” Robert Mueller investigating Trump on the “Russia collusions” stuff for which there is NO evidence — but Mueller isn’t investigating Hillary Clinton on all the scandals regarding her Clinton Foundations quid pro quos and collusions, regardless of ALL the evidence that backs up one allegation after another against her!

Incidentally, attorney Clevenger posted this video on his Twitter that shows Hillary already indicating preparing to evade investigations by avoiding emails as early as the year 2000.

Judge Andrew Napolitano has this excellent overview of the abandonment of the rule of law in Washington, including the FedGov’s bribing of local districts and police departments, its unconstitutionally contributing to the militarization of local police, its war on medical marijuana, Trump’s encouragement of local police to get rough with (i.e. criminally assault) suspects who are still innocent until proven guilty whether the cops like it or not, and Trump’s pardoning of a thug sheriff Arpaio. And all this while FBI and other agencies refuse to investigate a real career criminal, Hillary Clinton. Washington is worse than a “swamp,” and the ignoramus Trump is making it worse still.