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Scott Lazarowitz's Blog Posts

November, 2010: More Rearranging of Deck Chairs

March 22, 2010

Copyright © 2010 by (Link to article)

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” which refers to making futile changes to a failing situation. This November’s elections will be such a case of rearranging the deck chairs on Titanic America, because the real problem that needs to be addressed is systemic, and serious systemic changes need to be made.

There will be those who will say, “No, no, don’t say that, we have a chance to win back both the House and the Senate this November!” But these are times that call for a dose of reality. Unfortunately, many people involved with the Tea Party movement seem to have the misguided notion that the Founders’ structure of the federal government is adequate, but that the people in Washington just need to be replaced. However, the Founders’ forming a federal government with centralized power and authority and a compulsory territorial monopoly has been shown to be an immense error. Inherent in such a structure is the violation of property and individuals’ rights to life and liberty, hence America’s steady moral decay over the last century. And inherent in federalism is the violation of state independence and sovereignty.

The elections of 1980, 1994 and 2000 did not reverse Big Government. When Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, the “conservative” president not only didn’t cut entire cabinet-level departments as promised, he added three new cabinet-level departments. After cutting taxes, a year later Reagan signed what was then to be America’s biggest tax increase. Reagan also signed one deficit-laden budget after another, and during Reagan’s presidency, the National Debt skyrocketed along with all the regulations and bureaucracy he promised to cut.

Following the 1994 “Republican Revolution,” the federal government continued to grow out of control, and, after 2000, the younger President George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” – i.e. more socialist redistribution of wealth schemes – and expanding the military industrial complex only fed Leviathan much more.

As economist Murray Rothbard noted,

…first, left-liberals, in power, make a Great Leap Forward toward collectivism; then, when, in the course of the political cycle, four or eight years later, conservatives come to power, they of course are horrified at the very idea of repealing anything; they simply slow down the rate of growth of statism, consolidating the previous gains of the Left, and providing a bit of R&R for the next liberal Great Leap Forward….

Rothbard and economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe have written extensively on these issues. In his book, Democracy: The God That Failed, Hoppe explains how democratic governments have contributed a great deal to reversing the process of civilization. The real achievements of democracy have been the empowering of some people to legally extract private wealth and property from others, and empowering the political class to use coercion and brute force against others to achieve certain goals.

At the heart of the problem are the temporary nature of democracy and the exploitative nature of a system of compulsion and monopoly. Economically, according to Hoppe, unlike in a monarchy in which the king owns the country’s territory and has a long-term interest in its capital value, in democracies the ruler is a “temporary caretaker,” and

a temporary and interchangeable democratic caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his advantage. He owns its current use but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. Instead, it makes exploitation shortsighted (present-oriented) and uncalculated, i.e., carried out without regard for the value of the capital stock.

Hoppe expands on those ideas:

…a private government owner (a monarch) will want to avoid exploiting his subjects so heavily, for instance, as to reduce his future earnings potential to such an extent that the present value of his estate actually falls. Instead, in order to preserve or possibly even enhance the value of his personal property, he will systematically restrain himself in his exploitation policies…. In distinct contrast… public government ownership will result in continual capital consumption. Instead of maintaining or even enhancing the value of the government estate, as a private owner would tend to do, a government’s temporary caretaker will quickly use up as much of the government resources as possible….

Therefore, a distinct characteristic of government, or “public sector,” activity is lack of incentive and ability in long-range planning, and, because “societal planning” cannot take individual market factors into account, economic calculations are impossible. In the public sector, political calculations are necessary.

For example, in 1990, just after a war initiated by Russia against Afghanistan, and seeing how the people of a territory did not like being invaded and thus the underdog Afghans put up a good fight against the mighty Russians, one might think that then-U.S. President George H. W. Bush would foresee that his invading Iraq (a country that did not attack the U.S.) would have negative long-term consequences for the U.S. But Bush took U.S. forces into Iraq, and increased forces in surrounding foreign lands, at America’s long-term expense. Bush’s son, the younger President George Bush followed in his dad’s footsteps.

Without regard to America’s capital value and actual long-term economic interests, politicians have acted largely on self-interest and short-term exploitation of the system of democratic governance.

Moreover, because of corporate-statism, America has also experienced such short-sightedness and parasitic consumption among America’s business sector. One example of that is the federal government’s October 2008 Wall Street Bailout, which further discouraged long-range planning and productivity of the nation’s most powerful financial institutions.

America is now suffering great economic turmoil while rewarding the short-term, immediate gratification of the Wall Street fat cats. As a major contributor of pervading societal moral decay, the Wall Street Bailout has been an example of activist government redistribution programs that discourage saving, investing, long-range planning and responsibility.

Over generations of electoral rearranging of deck chairs and further expansion of government’s size and power, America has experienced a decline in personal responsibility and traditional values. As a consequence of Social Security, families’ responsibility for the care of their elder members is transferred to anonymous neighbors. President Obama’s threatened government takeover of the entire medical system will make FDR’s New Deal pale in comparison.

Thus, America’s structure of government’s territorial monopoly and legislative rule has turned society from one of natural laws guarding individual rights to one of man-made laws that have allowed citizens to covet others’ wealth and property, and has enabled politicians to rise to the top with proficiency in rhetoric but no abilities in producing anything of actual value to others.

The 2010 delusion of correcting government’s mistakes has already begun with Scott Brown’s recent election to the United States Senate. After having voted for socialized health care and fascist insurance mandates in Massachusetts, and opposing cutting the state income tax, Brown was falsely promoted as a conservative Tea Party candidate. And already the Tea Party movement itself, supposedly one promoting independence and limited government, is being pulled into a life of dependence on the GOP, a party glued to the false security of dependence on centralized Big Government’s monopoly of territorial protection. As author James Bovard observed,

We now have the Battered Citizen Syndrome: the more debacles, the more voters cling to faith in their rulers…. The greater the government’s failure to protect, the greater the subsequent mass fear – and the easier it becomes to subjugate the populace.

One way to prevent a huge societal disaster is by decentralizing, the dismantling of the federal government and letting the states have their independence and sovereignty back.

The total destruction of the United States of America will have been wrought by the U.S. federal government. Instead of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic with more electoral changes, the way to save America will be by decentralization and a return to the sanctity of private property rights, freedom of association and contract, and totally unrestricted free trade and commerce.

ObamaCare Violates Contract and Property Rights

In light of President Obama’s shackling of Americans even further with government medicine that will mirror the old Soviet Union, it is important to understand the differences between the current dysfunctional socialist system and the moral and practical superiority that a free market system would provide. If current proposals for government takeover of health care become law, we will have further collective intrusions against the individual, and both patients and doctors—all citizens—will be serfs of the state. This is part of why people defected and fled from the Soviet Union.

The American Founders saw the difference between private and public ownership of property. The Founders believed in the sanctity and inviolability of private property, and that individuals have inherent, inalienable rights to life and liberty.

Associated with the idea of the inalienable right to life and liberty is self-ownership. Among the individual’s private property rights is the right of ownership of one’s own life, one‘s person and the fruits of one’s labor. Individuals’ right of association and contract includes the right to be free of any government intrusions into private associations and contracts—including the relationship between doctor and patient—and the right to be free of any government involvement in private health matters. Fascists Barack Obama and Nancy Lugosi do not understand this.

In economics, while over time there have been differing definitions of these terms, here are the generally accepted definitions of capitalism and socialism:

  • Socialism is public or collective ownership and control of property and the means of production;
  • Capitalism is private ownership and control of property and the means of production.

Fascism “allows” for private ownership of property but control is seized by the state, and communism is the culmination of gradually increasing socialist policies to the point of complete state ownership and control of its population and property.

In reality, socialism is a system in which some people may use the armed power of government to take wealth and property from others, as well as dictate to people the terms of contracts and use of property.

On the other hand, capitalism is a system that protects the individual’s right of sovereignty over one’s own life and property, and protects the sanctity of voluntary associations and voluntary contracts. No one is forced to associate or contract with anyone else, and no one may take wealth and property from others. Sadly, this system has never been realized in America, or anywhere in human history. Philosopher Ayn Rand referred to capitalism as an “unknown ideal.”

Unfortunately, since the Founding, America has been a “mixed economy,” a system combining some capitalist freedom and some socialist policies.

However, with the socialist aspect of America, the individual and the fruits of one’s labor are essentially owned by the collective, or the community. Whereas in a truly capitalist society, in which intrusions of the individual and private property would violate absolute moral laws against theft and trespass, in a socialist/fascist society such as ours the artificial, man-made organization we call “government” institutionalizes such intrusions.

In the old days, No Trespassing and Mind Your Own Business were common phrases. There was no Social Security number, and there was no IRS demanding personal information that was none of the neighbors’ business. The Founders would not have approved of any of those things, and would have rejected without discussion proposals for a National ID card or fingerprinting! The Founders’ principles of the Presumption of Innocence and The Right to be Left Alone are moral principles.

As part of his Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, in reference to the British ruler from whom the Founders separated:

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

There has been a common misunderstanding that if a privately owned company is large, then it is less privately owned, and therefore the public has a right to impose arbitrary demands and intrusions on such a company. However, to the American Founders, laws against theft and trespass must be absolute, and individuals with justly owned private property (real estate, material property, business assets, etc.) have an inalienable right to be free of violence, theft and trespass by others. Suggesting that private property rights and freedom of association and contract exist only to a certain extent inevitably leads to making it acceptable to steal and trespass “just a little” in the name of some desired social good. In terms of absolute moral law, however, no well-intentioned end justifies immoral means. That’s moral relativism.

Economist Murray Rothbard wrote in 1994, in reference to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s universal health care proposals:

Whereas the free market is a peaceful cooperative place where everyone benefits and no one loses, when government supplies the product or service, every consumer is treated as using a resource only at the expense of his fellow men. The “public service” arena, and not the free market, is the dog-eat-dog jungle.

The problem with starting a business such as an insurance company is similar to any other line of work that is regulated and controlled by government. In fact, it is the regulations, licensure and taxation and other government-imposed restrictions that have made the medical industry so costly. What needs to be done is repealing each and every health- and medical-related regulation and control implemented by the federal government, removing licensure, and getting rid of the FDA and the entire Health and Human Services bureaucracy. Strictly enforce laws against fraudulent insurance company practices and policy holder claims. Freeing insurance companies of costly regulations will make it possible for them to add special programs to help the truly needy. And freedom would enable an individual or group to start a company or charity with the intention of helping others.

And Licensure does not protect patients from bad doctors. On the contrary, licensure protects bad doctors from prospective competitors in that market, just as tenure protects bad teachers in the education area. Any kind of protectionist law that restricts freedom of contract restricts liberty and choices, and creates monopolistic cartels.

With freedom from government intrusions and coercion, medical professionals’ and consumers’ actions will benefit themselves and others, and the private relationship between doctor and patient will remain private.  People who don’t want health insurance shouldn’t be forced to have it. No more government restrictions on pharmaceutical drugs—let Americans be responsible for their own choices. But when you put people in chains and bondage, as our socialist/fascist government has been doing for many years now, the bureaucrats, politicians and special interests are the beneficiaries of wealth that is forcibly expropriated from the citizens.

When government officials intrude in private contracts and associations with the use of force and coercive mandates imposed by the IRS and police, those are criminal violations of life, liberty and property, and should be treated as such.

Citizens should step up their protests against government officials’ poking into the most personal aspects of citizens’ private lives. They might also consider calling their representatives in Washington and ask them to vote against further health care proposals.

Those Resentful Authoritarian Obommunists

The reason why Stalinists Barack Obomber and Nancy Lugosi want to have the armed power of government hijack the entire medical system comes from their class-obsessed resentment of doctors and others who have actual expertise and abilities in medicine and who have achieved success, wealth and status from those abilities while at the same time helping others. Lugosi and Obomber would never have been able to achieve anything in their lives in the private sector, or otherwise without the aid of government-forced redistribution of wealth or other government-sponsored privileges.

Authoritarians such as these Obommunists resent the abilities of human services professionals to serve the needs of others voluntarily—and  certainly more efficiently than any government agency ever could—and who benefit from such services in the non-state-controlled randomness of markets rather than as sacrificial servants of the state that Obomber and Lugosi want them to be.

In my lifetime, I don’t think I’ve seen people as control-obsessed and resentful towards others as these nincompoops. As economist Walter E. Williams noted,

Tyrants denounce free markets and voluntary exchange. They are the chief supporters of reduced private property rights, reduced rights to profits, and they are anti-competition and pro-monopoly. They are pro-control and coercion, by the state.

Who Owns People?

On the Lew Rockwell Blog Saturday, Michael Rozeff started the discussion of who owns people by bringing up U.S. Supreme Court decision Nebbia v. New York, and Justice James McReynolds’s dissent, with McReynolds favoring the right of contract and viewing so-called price regulations as “management, control, and dictation.” Butler Shaffer responded to that in the context of “state ownership of human beings,” and concluded with

…efforts by the state to preserve and promote our health serve the same purpose as a rancher’s interests in caring for his cattle prior to their shipment to the slaughterhouse!

Christopher Manion responded by referring to the subject of state ownership of children, as beginning in America in the 1860s with the start of the mainly anti-Catholic public school movement.

The “civil religion” taught in government schools was designed to neutralize the papist heresies taught in the parochial schools. For the Know-Nothings, Catholic families were not only the competition: they were the enemy.

This reminded me of a post I did in September, regarding the abortion issue,  asking the question, “When does self-ownership begin?” which was a response to a Mises Blog post by Skip Oliva, in which he noted,

Let’s say that, in fact, creation is a source of property rights. Does that mean parents have intellectual property rights in their children? After all, they created them.

In my post, I wrote,

Parents can’t own their offspring, regardless of their labor they exerted  and “tools” they used, because their “product” happens to be another separate, individual human being.

Human beings inherently have natural, inalienable rights, among them the rights to life and liberty. Part of the right to life and liberty is the right of an individual to self-ownership. The right to self-ownership begins when the human being begins. But when does the human being’s life actually begin?

At the time of the  Roe v. Wade decision, the concept of “personhood” was brought up by Justice Harry Blackmun:

“(If the) suggestion of personhood [of the preborn] is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”

I’ve seen references to “personhood,” “viability,” “sentience,” and “consciousness, “  and I have some questions.

What is the viability of a born baby? If baby is left alone for a particular amount of time, one cannot survive for very long, because at that early stage of development one is dependent on one’s caretakers for feeding. The same can be said of a 2-year-old, maybe even older children, although the older the child, the more able one is to go out and seek food, unless one is locked inside and can’t get out. Is there a difference between the viability of a born individual and an unborn individual (at whatever stage of development)?

What about “sentience” and “consciousness?” How do we know whether or not a two-month-old “fetus” or a 2-day-old “fetus” can have any physical sensation or conscious awareness? If it is important whether or not that individual has sentience or consciousness in considering whether that individual has any right to life and liberty, and self-ownership, then, what about a born human being or a grown adult who has a neurological disorder and has no “sentience” or who is in a “persistent vegetative state” and has no consciousness, but is still “alive” (or can be kept alive via artificial means)?

However, more recently I’ve seen in Murray Rothbard’s Ethics of Liberty, his comments on the abortion issue. Rothbard asks this question:

….when, or in what way, does a growing child acquire his natural right to liberty and self-ownership?

If one has a natural right to liberty and self-ownership, and “natural rights,” as far as I know, means “inherent” in us as human beings (i.e. from conception onward, or just a part of the human being’s “nature”), then how can you “acquire” a natural right to liberty and self-ownership?

Who Is More Evolved?

James Lewis has an article today at American Thinker regarding the National Geographic‘s suggesting that liberals and atheists are more evolved and smarter than conservatives. However, Lewis asks,

Why does (the Left’s) blind “idealism” and its unquenchable power-craving lead to such disastrous results, over and over again? Why does the British medical system have patients parked on gurneys in dirty hallways? Why are their waiting times for life-saving operations so much longer than ours? Why does Prime Minister Gordon Brown advocate using your organs after you die without your permission?

Lewis notes that plenty of people with high IQ can still be dummies, fixed on bad ideas that are impractical (such as President Obama and Speaker Pelosi).

In my opinion, the Left has hardly shown any evidence of “evolution” in intelligence when they continue to push for government policies that do nothing but cause destruction and havoc. And how is “adopting nontraditional social values and preferences,” as the Geographic article suggests, an example of intelligence, or being evolved? Just look at the Left’s continued advocacy of drug use and promiscuous sex. In fact, I would argue that promoting drugs, a behavior of self-destruction, especially among today’s youth, is regressive and goes against evolving. And irresponsible, promiscuous sex is in the category of short-term, immediate gratification, as well as possibly dangerous, and reinforces one’s more immature and regressive impulses. One could argue, contrary to the Left’s assertion that “going with your urges” is a defeat of “repression,” etc., that such behaviors that go against self-control actually work toward repressing emotions and intellectually evolutionary activity. It is the self-control that exemplifies a more evolved human being.

However, regarding Lewis’s reference to the Left’s idealism that leads to failed and counter-productive policies, I must say that such characteristics are among some conservatives as well, particularly “neoconservatives.” I think the real point is that neither “liberalism” in the modern sense nor neoconservatism is more or less “evolved.” Rather, it is statism that is at the root of devolution. And the conservatives’ counter-productive war policies over the last 20 years are my evidence of the devolution from the Right.

The Left’s compulsion to use the State—government—as the means to carry out desired ends is a problem among the Right. The best examples of that are the neoconservatives’ compulsion to depend on the national government and military to protect America’s safety and security, and the conservatives’ sheepish, naive following of immoral policies such as the “Bush Doctrine” and foreign military expansionism. Philip Giraldi at catches the essence of that in his article this week, The Rogue Nation, discussing the use by the U.S. Military of the unmanned drones killing unarmed, innocent, non-combatant civilians in the Middle-East,

….If Iran were operating the drones and bumping off its enemies in places like Dubai you can be sure the reaction would be quite different….

and the idea of our federal government having the power to seize and even kill Americans without trial and without any questioning of evidence against the suspects.

…The death list involves a due process of sorts in that a government official makes the decision who shall be on it based on guidelines but it does not allow the accused to challenge or dispute evidence….

Now, I’m with the conservatives on traditional, conservative family values. Smarter people aren’t necessarily more “evolved.” Plenty of statists and barbarians have been smart people. In my opinion, however, the moral relativism of the Right is just as bad as that of the Left, and what connects the two sides is their dehumanizing of others and their love of The State.

Ted Turner’s Land Ownership

Yesterday on his radio show, Glenn Beck was talking about Ted Turner’s ownership of massive amounts of land, much of it in Montana, and having put it in a “trust” that, after his last child dies, will then be in the hands of government. One of his radio show cohorts made the point that people should do whatever they want with their own private property.  But in this report by,

Turner’s ultimate plan? According to published reports, after his death the properties will go into a trust, which his five children will manage until the last one passes away. At that point, the trust will revert to the Turner Foundation, an Atlanta-based charitable organization that Turner founded in 1990 to preserve the environment.

This suggests that all that land won’t end up in government’s control. However, Beck seemed to be referring to Turner’s involvement in the Environmentalism Movement, and that Turner may have ulterior motives. This FOXNews report notes,

Mike Phillips, executive director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund, a Turner offshoot, insisted his boss is just a “doggone serious rancher,” though one dedicated to preserving the environment.

But Phillips’ very presence is making people wonder. He once worked with The Wildlands Project, an environmental group that wants to create a continent-wide network of nature preserves to save endangered species. The Turner Foundation, the charity arm of Turner’s empire, has contributed money to it and gives millions to dozens of other environmental groups.

Turner’s organizations also have been in discussions with the World Wildlife Fund and the World Conservation Union about conserving bison. The groups have expressed interest in developing a huge park where bison could once again roam the Great Plains.

The FOXNews report also noted that one “conspiracy theory” is that Turner is trying to get control over “the world’s largest underground water system,” known as the Ogallala Aquifer.

Hmmm. He must be really thirsty.

If there really is the possibility that the federal government might end up “owning” even more land than it already illegitimately owns, what does that mean? That means that there would be even more land under the control of even more government bureaucrats, politicians and special interest groups, none of whom had participated in any purchases of any lands and therefore have no legal or moral right to control any such land.

Who knows what any possible future government ownership and control of all that Turner land might include. Could those government officials use such land for future “terrorist detention facilities (and torture chambers)”? Like a “Montana Gitmo”? And, if so, how do we know if a future Marxist Administration, much like the Marxists in the White House now, won’t be designating Tea Party protesters and otherwise “anti-government” types as “enemy combatants” and “terrorists”?

This is one of the many problems we face with the compulsory territorial monopoly of government whose rule over all others is always by temporary caretakers. If only we could get ownership of all property out of the hands of illegitimately formed, monopolistic institutions such as government, and keep the ownership and transfer of property only among private individuals.

Murray Rothbard: A Strategy for the Right

The Mises Institute posted a 1992 article by the late Murray Rothbard, A Strategy for the Right, this week. It is quite a lengthy, somewhat informal article—part political analysis, part diary—summarizing how Rothbard had seen “the Right” develop throughout the 20th Century. He discussed conservatives and neoconservatives, but doesn’t really say much about the Republican Party, although he does do that in this other article he wrote two years later regarding the 1994 “Republican Revolution.”  Had he lived another 15 years, Rothbard would have seen how conservatives lost their adherence to conservatism, and instead made the Republican Party their priority, as conservatives have done nothing but support Big Government, supposedly in the name of fighting terrorism. However, in the 1992 article, he does provide some insight from his own experiences with the Republicans:

One of the leaders was my friend Howard Buffett, Congressman from Omaha, who was a pure libertarian and was Senator Taft’s Midwestern campaign manager at the monstrous Republican convention of 1952, when the Eisenhower-Wall Street cabal stole the election from Robert Taft. After that, I left the Republican Party, only to return this year for the Buchanan campaign. During the 1950s, I joined every right-wing third party I could find, most of which collapsed after the first meeting. I supported the last presidential thrust of the Old Right, the Andrews-Werdel ticket in 1956, but unfortunately, they never made it up to New York City.

In my opinion, things haven’t changed much these last 50 or 60 years with conservatives and Republicans. They still support government-business mergers and protectionism, and Big Government in the name of this or that.

Thanks to the two Bush presidents, conservatives have been as responsible for the expansion of government and decline of our liberty as have the leftists. When rationalizing their end-justifies-the-means philosophy, the conservatives claim that “Times are different now—the Founders who wrote and approved the Declaration of Independence didn’t have to deal with Islamic terrorism, etc.” This is an example of the conservatives’ own moral relativism, that the Constitution is a “living, breathing document.”

In the 1950s, National Review founder William F. Buckley, Jr. had  abandoned what had been the conservatives’ mantra of limited government and national sovereignty in favor of Big Government with the powers to aggressively expand government’s military reach into foreign territories and surveillance of one’s own fellow citizens in the name of fighting communism. And in supporting those government intrusions and expansions, Buckley and his ilk became the communists they supposedly feared and detested.

And as the Buckley conservatives crusaded against communism, the modern Bush conservatives went on a jihad against Islamic terrorism, engaging in fear mongering as justification for more egregiously expanded governmental powers and intrusions. The terrorized pro-war electorate responded to the state-issued rhetoric like the Muslim radicals responding to their leaders’ anti-American chants. At least, that’s how I see  that.

Today’s conservatives are not “conservative.” Their priority is not conserving the traditional values and morality of our Founding Fathers. Otherwise, they would not have been following the path of socialism and government expansionism led by the two Bush presidents over these past 20 years.

Oppose “Capitalism” Just Because of “Business-State Connotations”?

Stephan Kinsella had this particularly informative post responding to Sheldon Richman’s suggestion, in addition to opposing using the word “capitalism” to refer to “free markets,” to oppose capitalism because of the “business-government collusions” that the word “capitalism” supposedly connotes. Stephan also links to Bryan Caplan‘s disagreement with Sheldon. I disagree, too. Stephan posted that post on the Mises Economics Blog, and here are the bunch of comments there including further comments by Stephan and Sheldon.

If you want to learn and understand the concepts of “capitalism” and “free markets,” you should check out all those links and read the discussions and comments. If you’re an economics student (formally or informally), don’t bother buying any textbooks, you’ll get much more out of those discussions.

In my opinion, if  “Capitalism” is defined as “private ownership of the means of production,” then “private ownership” already includes recognition of individual rights and “free markets.” Because Natural Laws include protection of those rights: “don’t steal,” “don’t aggress against others,” etc.

If you really need an “ism” replacement for the word “capitalism” to describe “free markets,” then how about just “voluntarism,” although, while that word refers to “free from coercion,” that doesn’t seem to contain a “private property” aspect.

Perhaps “privatism” could accomplish describing both associations and markets that are free from coercion and free from external intrusions. In Wikipedia’s description of the word “privatism, ” it notes, “privatism is the concern with or pursuit of one’s personal or family interests, welfare, or ideals to the exclusion of broader social issues or relationships.” However, while “to the exclusion of broader social…” could be meaningful, it is more accurate to refer to “not permitting of or protection from external intrusions (trespassing, aggression, etc.).”

Doh! Why are we still discussing this issue?

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today on a case involving the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the right to bear arms. It seems that the justices who heard a case two years ago, that decided that the right to bear arms is an individual right, are indicating that they’ll probably decide in that same general direction again with this case. This case is to do with whether citizens can challenge a local law that restricts 2nd Amendment gun rights as well as a federal law.

SCOTUS Justice Jean-Paul Stevens revisited his belief that the right to bear arms should apply to your home, but that it isn’t “a right to parade around the street with a gun.” Hmph. I think we’d be better off with a Justice Samantha Stevens rather than a Justice Jean-Paul Stevens.

Does Justice Stevens believe that our God-given right of self-defense applies to us only in our home, but not when we’re out in public? I think it’s time to change the Depends, Justice Stevens—you’re all wet on this.

(And I’m sure we know how Justice Sonia Sosomaybe will vote on this, given that she refused to say whether or not we even have a right of self-defense.)


Kinsella and Hoppe: Decentralize and Privatize

Stephan Kinsella posted this article, Legislation and Law in a Free Society, last week at the Mises Institute. In the article, he discusses the idea of the need for decentralizing law and judges, which would correct the errors inherent in our system of legislated law.

….there is much more certainty in a decentralized legal system than in a centralized, legislation-based system. When the legislature has the ability to change the law from day to day, we can never be sure what rules will apply tomorrow….

And Kinsella discusses the idea of time preferences:

….. When time preferences are lower, individuals are more willing to forgo immediate benefits such as consumption, and invest their time and capital in more indirect (i.e., more roundabout, lengthier) production processes, which yield more or better goods for consumption or for further production. Any artificial raising of the general time-preference rate thus tends to impoverish society by pushing us away from production and long-term investments……

And the problems inherent in central planning:

…The widely dispersed, decentralized character of knowledge and information in society simply makes it too difficult for centralized legislators to rationally plan the laws of society….

Because legislators cannot possibly know all the information throughout all of society that comes from each and every individual in society, they are “more likely to be influenced by lobbyists and special interest groups.” Hence the need for decentralizing law systems.

Because of so many centralized, legislated, “artificial” laws upon laws upon laws that no one could possibly keep track of, it is impossible for anyone to avoid breaking one law or another. And this is a situation that can cause lawlessness and chaos, and, most of all, a decrease in liberty and independence.

….. when legislation is thought of as the primary source of law, citizens become more accustomed to following orders, and thus become more docile, servile, and less independent…

Kinsella calls for legal codes to be privately, rather than legislatively, written, and “focus primarily on common-law developments.” In privately written law, judges can “ignore the lapses in the codifier’s reasoning,” and Kinsella calls for a “judge-found law” rather than a legislated legal system.

In a related, archived article from 2006, The Idea of a Private Law Society, Hans-Hermann Hoppe notes the inherent flaws in a democratic system of laws and government’s monopoly of territorial protection and judicial decision-making, and gives the idea of “Private Law.”

….First, every person is the proper owner of his own physical body….

….Secondly, every person is the proper owner of all nature-given goods that he has perceived as scarce and put to use by means of his body, before any other person….

….In the third place, every person who, with the help of his body and his originally appropriated goods, produces new products thereby becomes the proper owner of these products, provided only that in the process of production he does not physically damage the goods owned by another person…..

….Finally, once a good has been first appropriated or produced, ownership in it can be acquired only by means of a voluntary, contractual transfer of its property title from a previous to a later owner….

…Only private property makes it possible for all otherwise unavoidable conflicts to be avoided; and only the principle of property acquisition by acts of original appropriation performed by specific individuals at a specific time and location makes it possible for conflicts to be avoided from the beginning of mankind on…..

….. In order to maintain law and order, it is necessary that the members of society be prepared and equipped to pressure anyone who does not respect the life and property of others to acquiesce to the rules of society. How and by whom is this enforcement of law and order accomplished?…..

Hoppe notes that the common answer, unfortunately, is to turn to the state to resolve that.

….the state is an agency that exercises a territorial monopoly of ultimate decision-making. That is, it is the ultimate arbiter in every case of conflict, including conflicts involving itself, and it allows no appeal above and beyond itself. Furthermore, the state is an agency that exercises a territorial monopoly of taxation. That is, it is an agency that unilaterally fixes the price private citizens must pay for its provision of law and order….

Hoppe notes that when government has a monopoly in ultimate judicial decision-making, “justice will be perverted in the favor of government.”

….Predictably, the definition of property and protection will be altered continually and the range of jurisdiction expanded to the government’s advantage. The idea of eternal and immutable law that must be discovered will disappear and be replaced by the idea of law as legislation – as flexible state-made law…..

And with government’s power to expropriate private wealth and property, “As a tax-funded life-and-property protection agency, then, the very institution of government is nothing less than a contradiction in terms.”

And Hoppe has written elsewhere, it should be noted, that “the U.S. Constitution is itself unconstitutional,” in that many of the directions and functions the Founders gave to the various governmental apparatus in their Constitution directly violate the natural, inalienable, God-given rights that individuals have as human beings, as recognized in the Founders’ Declaration of Independence.

Economically, as Hoppe notes, given an institutionalized, legally protected and compulsory monopoly of territorial protection, the agents of government will maximize their income (via compulsory taxation) and minimize their production of protection.

In sum, the incentive structure inherent in the institution of government is not a recipe for the protection of life and property, but instead a recipe for maltreatment, oppression, and exploitation. This is what the history of states illustrates.

However, in a democracy such as ours,

….democratic equality before the law is something entirely different from and incompatible with the idea of one universal law, equally applicable to everyone, everywhere, and at all times….

We have now, not natural laws that are absolute (i.e. “don’t kill,” “don’t steal,” “don’t covet your neighbors’ stuff,” etc.), but legislated laws, as mentioned above in the Kinsella article, in which exploitation of others is instilled into everyday life. And the short-term, immediate gratification desires of special interests supersede long-term, economic calculations which can only be possible in a free market society.

These are ideas and solutions that Dick Cheney, who spent his entire adult life feeding at the public trough, and John McCain (same), or Harry Reed and Nancy Pelosi would never understand.

Just step back and take a look all around our society, and see how the legislative process and government’s monopoly of protection and jurisdiction has been used by the ruling class to subjugate and enslave the rest of society. The ruling, government class has merged itself with the criminal class (i.e. robbers, rapists, extortionists, embezzlers, trespassers, coveters, treasonists, traitors, counterfeiters, mobsters, etc.).

There is this attitude, especially this year, of, “if we could only get the right guy in there, then things will change…” (Yeah, like the ghastly Scott Brown, yech!) However, history has shown that with each election, such as with Reagan in 1980, the 1994 Republican Revolution, etc., it has only been a rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

And Hoppe’s solution to this problem?

….The solution lies in a private law society – a society where every individual and institution is subject to one and the same set of laws! No public law granting privileges to specific persons of functions (and no public property) exists in this society. There is only private law (and private property), equally applicable to each and everyone. No one is permitted to acquire property by any other means than through original appropriation, production, or voluntary exchange; and no one possesses the privilege to tax and expropriate. Moreover, no one in a private law society is permitted to prohibit anyone else from using his property in order to enter any line of production and compete against whomever he pleases.

More specifically, in order to be just and efficient, the production and maintenance of law will have to be undertaken by freely financed and competing individuals and agencies….

And Hoppe explains in the aforementioned article how that would be achieved.

Killer Whales, Technology Addiction and Talk Radio

I listened to the radio talk shows just a little today, and they’re already getting me going. Michael Graham was discussing the killer whale who killed a Sea World worker. Apparently, this particular whale already killed another person in 1999! If that’s the case, then the family of the whale’s victim definitely has a law suit there. I hope the family soaks Sea World for every last penny that place has. Perhaps criminal charges are in order. If you own an animal, and it kills someone, bye-bye killer animal right there! And while Graham was right about the “animal kooks,” he’s not right when he says animals don’t have “feelings,” or emotions. Of course they do. Have you seen a dog tied to a post outside a store while the owner is inside? Some of those dogs are calm, cool and collected, while others are so miserable and anguished and literally crying like a child! How can any rational person actually say that those dogs aren’t “feeling emotions”? I’m sure that Graham’s fellow WTKK talk host Jay Severin, who has about ten or twenty dogs now, doesn’t treat his dogs that way. But I agree that animals don’t have “rights.” Only humans have rights, which are individual rights, among them the rights to life, liberty and property, etc. Animals are the property of the people who own them. If other (i.e. “lower”) animals had “rights,” then you’d have to arrest Frank Purdue, or Jim Purdue, and Roger Berkowitz.

And on Laura Ingraham’s show, Dr. Ingraham was interviewing Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychologist, and they were discussing “technology addiction.” Some people are literally addicted to their cell phones and iPods and other things, and it’s breaking up marriages and causing other troubles. I agree that it’s important that families reserve time such as the dinner hour for “quality time” together. It’s important that parents talk to their kids about what the kids learned in school, if anything, and where they were and what they did after school. Kids really need to know that their parents are interested in what’s going on with them. And parents need to have some backbone and lay down the law about turning the cell phones and TV off at dinnertime! And Dr. Ingraham was absolutely right when she challenged Dr. Ludwig who mentioned something about her kids with iPods at age 7 and 10: kids that young should not have iPods, nor cell phones and a lot of that other stuff. Teenagers shouldn’t have cell phones either! Unless they have a part-time job. Kids and teens have too many distractions and waste so much time on the cell phone and texting. No wonder the college freshman dropout rate is so high now. Kids enter college knowing nothing about English and Math, but they do know a lot about TV shows and (c)rap music. That’s a shame.

If or when the government gets its grubby paws on the Internet, that will turn the Internet into a piece of crap, just as government turns everything it touches to crap.

I’m glad the Boston area is going to get another talk radio station soon—it’s good to have alternatives to listen to, because I’ve been listening to NPR a lot more in the mornings ever since WTKK reduced Don Imus’s hours. (No offense to Jim and Margery; they’re very nice people.) Apparently, WXKS AM-1200 begins in April and will add Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck to the Boston area. Hannity is a big risk, given that WTKK and WRKO both had him on but with no luck in the ratings. I don’t think Glenn Beck has been on in Boston except on WRKO Saturday evenings. It’s possible the new station might grab Rush Limbaugh away from WRKO—if that’s the case then WXKS should do okay. Gone are the good old days of genuine quality talk radio, with Jerry Williams, Gene Burns and David Brudnoy, when WRKO was #1 in the ratings for years throughout the 1980s.

Big Pharma-Big Government Complex and the Texas Governor’s Race

Here is Karen de Coster in a post at the Lew Rockwell blog yesterday, on the Big Pharma-Big Government Complex:

….the pharmaceutical companies, once upon a time, had a semi-honorable quest to cure diseases and improve the quality of life for the very ill. That all went away with the proliferation of the almighty state and the growth of profit-seeking special interests that wished to manipulate political channels to curry favors and serve their own profitability.The revolving doors between Big Government and Big Pharma were built upon a corrupt foundation. Along came the modern Patent State and a ginormous web of governmental health agencies whose purpose was to empower their compadres in the quasi-governmental pharmaceutical industry and make personal health a public-collective issue, with the rules being set by so-called established experts and “trusted” advisors in the medical-pharmaceutical community.The powerful propaganda machine created by the government-Big Pharma alliance has the job of lying to the citizenry, and making them dependent on their products and services by creating and selling sickness. This grows the governmental public health sector and empowers the public-private sector alliance. The result is political power, profits, and job creation. This consortium of health tyrants re-define the parameters of sickness so that, eventually, we are all a high risk for some potentially disastrous health debacle, and thus we become lifelong patients.

Remember about thirty years ago, when Merck’s CEO Henry Gadsden told Fortune magazine that it was a shame that the company’s products could only be limited to “sick people.” As cited in the book Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients, by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels:

Suggesting he’d rather Merck to be more like chewing gum maker Wrigley’s, Gadsden said it had long been his dream to make drugs for healthy people. Because then, Merck would be able to “sell to everyone.”

Karen had a similar post in September and informed us of the activities of pharmaceutical giant Merck and its HPV vaccine Gardasil, that several states want to make mandatory for teenage girls to receive against their will and against the will of their parents. One major controversy in that issue was the lobbying that Merck did with Texas Republican governor Rick Perry, as mentioned in Karen’s post.

….at the time, Perry had a former chief-of-staff, Mike Toomey, who was a lobbyist for Merck. And Perry’s then chief-of-staff’s mother-in-law, who was a state legislator, was the state director of an organization called Women in Government, which was bankrolled by Merck….

This week’s primary in Texas ends on March 2nd. Sen. Kay Bailout Hutchison and private citizen, non-professional politician Debra Medina are challenging Perry for the Republican nomination for governor. Medina is the true conservative, who opposes the government’s forcing people to have a vaccine against their will, and who is the true “Tea Parties” candidate. Unfortunately, she was recently smeared by talk host Glenn Beck, who has ties to Rick Perry, in addition to Beck’s radio boss’s status as a big Perry campaign contributor.