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The Idea of “America First”: How About FREEDOM First?

There has been quite a lot of talk regarding “America First,” and being associated with Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign in which he says he wants to “Make America Great Again.” Well, I am not really concerned about Making America Great, or “America First.” The concept of “America” is a collectivistic concept. Rather, I am more of a Freedom First kind of guy, and I think that freedom is more important than America.

I wish that more people would think in terms of Freedom, because most people are collectivists and statists, and, in my view, when people say “America First,” I think they inevitably point to Government First. Here are a few examples, starting with some ballot questions in this November’s election.

Massachusetts, for example, will have four questions on the ballot in November. How should a supporter of freedom vote? Hmmm. Here are the questions, according to Ballotpedia.

Question #1: “Expanding slot machine gaming. A ‘yes’ vote would allow a second slots parlor to exist in Massachusetts. The 2011 gambling law currently allows for up to three resort casinos and one slots parlor…” Partial summary: “This proposed law would allow the state Gaming Commission to issue one additional category 2 license, which would permit operation of a gaming establishment with no table games and not more than 1,250 slot machines…”

How do you vote on this question if you believe in freedom? You don’t. There shouldn’t even be a state Gambling Commission! While a “Yes” vote *allows* another slot parlor, who the hell is the government to allow or forbid people from having a damn slot parlor? If it’s your private property, you have a right to have on it whatever you want. Regarding taxes, if it’s a business (such as a gambling casino) as with any other commercial enterprise, 3rd parties (such as bureaucrats) have no moral authority to demand a take from your profits. (However, given that Gov. Charlie Half-Baker opposes the question, that might be a good reason to vote “Yes,” even if a “Yes” vote contributes to the expansion of further bureaucracy and tax-thefts. But I still wouldn’t recommend it.)

Question #2: “Charter school expansion. The question, if approved, would let state education officials approve up to 12 new charter schools a year.”

A “No” vote retains the current cap on the number of charter schools to 120 (there are 78 charter schools running presently).

The problem with charter schools is that they are still under the control and curricula of the state’s government school system, just like regular public schools. The charter schools must comply with regulations imposed by ignorant bureaucrats.

The bureaucracy is unaccountable, unlike private schools which are accountable to consumers. (The idea that a bureaucracy is “accountable to taxpayers” is quite laughable. The government takes your money in taxes whether you agree to it or not, and the bureaucrats do with the funds what they want.) As Colorado teacher Candace Allen wrote in her 1995 report card on charter schools, “Charter schools will temporarily cast the appearance of consumer choice, but it must be remembered that they are publicly financed, which guarantees burdensome regulation. This prevents market feedback, including reward for entrepreneurial achievement, or failure and loss for unworkable ideas and poor management.”

What we need in America is education freedom, or separation of education and State, as Jacob Hornberger suggested.

What we need is total education freedom. No mandates, no regulations, no licensure or certification, no confiscatory taxation to fund a self-serving education bureaucracy. And as Richard Ebeling points out, with a free market in education, political correctness would also take a hike.

So, I guess if I were voting in Massachusetts I also would not vote on Question #2, because the real question is, Should government have any control over your kids education? And the answer, obviously, is “No” on that.

Even private schools are under the control of government diktats. I think that homeschooling is the best alternative for parents who want their kids to have a good education. Sadly, many parents today are themselves ignorant and lacking in good cognitive skills and critical thinking. (Thanks to government-controlled schooling, alas.)

Question #3: “Conditions for farm animals. This question, if approved, would phase out what advocates say are “extreme” methods of farm animal confinement.”

Ballotpedia notes: “If approved, this law would prohibit breeding pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens from being held in confined spaces. Question 3 defines confined as meaning that which ‘prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely.’ This law would also apply to business owners who knowingly sell pork, veal, or eggs from animals held in this way, even if the source is outside of Massachusetts.”

My vote? “No”! Let farmers raise their chickens and cows as they see fit. There are already laws against “animal cruelty.” (Whether such laws are valid or not is for a different discussion.) As a consumer, I don’t want the prices of my eggs and chicken to go up any more than they already have. Perhaps activists might consider encouraging farmers to voluntarily have their animals living in “better” conditions? Is “voluntary” that much a foreign concept to activists?

Question #4: “Legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana. If voters say “yes,” Massachusetts will join Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington state and District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana for recreational use.”

Laurence Vance has written about the drug war, drug prohibition, legalization and decriminalization in several articles, most recently here. And Vance has written about the moral case for drug freedom.

The reason why this proposal is bad is because it calls for taxing and regulating. Government has no moral authority to regulate businesses, regardless of what they have to sell to consumers. As Vance wrote in May,

The libertarian view of taxes is a simple one: taxation is government theft. It’s not that taxes should be fair, adequate, business-friendly, uniform, flat, broad, simple, efficient, apportioned equally, or low. The libertarian view is simply that taxes — income, sales, property, or excise — should not exist in the first place. And taxation is still government theft even when it takes the form of “sin taxes” on alcohol or tobacco — or marijuana. To say that taxation is not government theft is to say that the government is entitled to a portion of every American’s income.

It should also be pointed out that marijuana taxation is no panacea for budget deficits. Tax money raised from marijuana sales will not mean that taxes will be lowered on other items or that the overall tax burden will be lower. State legislators, along with members of the U.S. Congress, have an insatiable desire to spend money, other people’s money — the taxpayers’ money.

Vance considers the question of whether it is better that marijuana be legal and taxed rather than illegal and not taxed, and he states that “some liberty is better than no liberty and more liberty is better than less liberty.” However, I would still vote “No” on this question, in the same way that Ron Paul would vote against a bill he generally favors but contains an amendment he opposes. This ballot Question calls for a new regulatory authority for the state and new consumption taxes in addition to all the other bureaucracies and taxes being imposed on the people. Not good.

Eventually people are going to learn that prohibitions and regulations lead to a more oppressive police state which is what we already have now.

What we need to do is legalize everything. Everything except aggression, theft and fraud, that is. Unfortunately, those who want prohibitions in place of otherwise peaceful behaviors are endorsing exactly that — aggression, theft and fraud — being committed by government enforcers in their enforcement or regulations of such prohibitions or regulated choices of consumption.

So just in those ballot questions we see rearranging the deck chairs kinds of questions, in my view. People are not asking whether America should be freer, or should America continue to have more and more governmental controls, diktats and intrusions in the people’s lives. Those are the questions which need to be asked.

And just how can America be “First” in anything if we in America are not free?

For instance, while some of his proposals are good for freedom, Donald Trump in his recent Gettysburg speech made several promises that he would do if elected President, which threaten our freedom.

According to Breitbart, one proposal is:  “Direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.”

There should be no “U.S. Trade Representative” in the first place. Just let the consumers and producers have their freedom to buy and sell whatever they want, and with whomever they want to buy and sell anywhere in the world, as long as they don’t steal or defraud. That’s what the real free market is. No government controls, restrictions, mandates, prohibitions, and so on. Just let the people have their freedom. It’s not too much to ask, Donald (and Hillary).

Trump also proposed: “Work with Congress on a American Energy & Infrastructure Act. Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years.”

“Wrong,” as The Donald would say. A very good Mises article by Patrick Trombly notes that “there is no such thing as the Infrastructure Fairy that takes government spending and magically turns it into economic growth.” In my view, for “Shovel-Ready Jobs,” I think that the people are going to need a lot of shovels to handle all the “BS” being emitted from our politicians.

One way to “grow the economy,” a way that politicians never think of, is for the people to call for an end to their government’s stealing from them via taxation. That’ll do it, for sure.

Finally, as far as these bad anti-freedom Trump proposals are concerned, here’s another one: “Work with Congress on a Restoring Community Safety Act. Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police; increases resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.”

No, no, no, not a federalized law enforcement bureaucracy, please. Paul Bonneau addressed on Strike the Root just recently why the Rulers actually want high crime rates. The Rulers want crime to continue to justify their little bureaucratic fiefdoms, their power trips, and the taxes they plunder from us in the name of keeping us safe.

As mentioned above, end the drug war and let the people have their freedom. That will already effect in a reduction in crime among the civilian population. And restoring the right of the people to keep and bear arms, with NO restrictions, regulations, government databases, and so on (with the exception of banning nuclear weapons as pointed out by Murray Rothbard), will make the society much safer in general.

And besides ending the drug war, repeal the thousands and thousands of unjust laws and bureaucratic intrusions that give government bureaucrats the excuse to violate the lives, persons and property of the people. All my suggestions here will make the people free, and that is what matters.

So, as I noted, I am not particularly concerned with America being “First” but being Free. So, I am for Freedom First, and not so much America First.

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