Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Common Sense Behind Why Wage And Price Controls Are Terrible

Here's a concept: the more that the cost of something is increased, the less people buy it. Obviously, if the price of cars suddenly is increased by 10x, less people would buy cars, in most cases simply because they wouldn't be able to afford it. This works the same with wages. The more that wages are artificially bid up, the higher the cost of labor becomes. The higher the cost of labor becomes, the less people are employed or able to be employed. Consequentially, rising wages above the market level causes unemployment.

The reverse scenario is possible as well: the more that the cost of something is decreased, the more capable people are of buying it. Obviously, if the price of top-notch cars suddenly dropped to less than 5,000 dollars per car, it would be much easier for people to buy top-notch cars. This works the same with wages. The more that wages are artificially bid downwards, the more employment oppurtunites there may be - however, these employment oppurtunities are at wages lower than the productivity of the work, and therefore unjust.

I reject bidding wages both above and below the market level. The proper determiner of wages is the marginal productivity of labor, not arbitrary governmental decrees or the mere generosity of the employer. The employer is free, of course, to bid up their workers wages on the basis of good performance, overtime and like, but if they do so exessively they would be leading themselves into a loss situation. Wages cannot be whisked into existance artificially. They must result from the productivity of labor.

The wage and price controls that were imposed under the Nixon administration was a unique case - wages and prices were not increased or decreased, rather, they were entirely frozen in place! This inherently implies a cap on wages and a "floor" for prices. Bad idea, as your "price" floor blocks any price decreases, and your wage cap blocks any wage increases. It is impossible for such a situation to last. It inevitably must crumble by its own accord due to the factor of change over time. Real prices and wages are not completely static, as they are a product of uncertainty in a fluid, changing atmosphere.

Similarly, schemes such as "rent control" are abysmal failures. What most rent control schemes did in the past is, not raise or lower rents, but freeze them in place. Once again, the market is being distorted. Once again, a situation is being created in which change in the future forces a failure. If the actual market level for rents rises during this freeze, then this leads to a scenario in which losses are being imposed on the person or people renting it out. As a result, the availability (supply) of property rental will diminish, and the incentive for landlords to supply such rentals will be eroded. Consequentially, low-cost housing will be harder to find for people, as the rent control has eroded the capital structure of the housing market.

On the other hand, if the actual market level for rents lowers during this freeze, then the rent control constitutes a special privilege to the landlords. The market would be flooded with over-priced housing. What's known as "2nd generation rent control" tried to fix this problem by adding more interventions into the mix - "public housing" when the rent control causes a diminished supply. Of course, this did nothing to fix the original problem, and further eroded the incentive for landlords to rent property out.

The reason why prices and wages are inevitably not static is that there are factors that change over time. Technology changes, capital goods improve, consumer preferances change, demand changes, supply changes, productivity changes, etc. If people buy less of something then before, or buy more of something then before, this will inevitably change its price. If people consume something at an increased rate, diminishing supply, this will tend towards an increase in prices, as the availability of the good has been diminished by the consumption spree. If people consume something at a decreased rate, this will tend towards a decrease in prices, as this is a way of providing an incentive for more buyers.

It logically follows that if we want to increase our economic prosperity, we have to moderate and therefore limit our rate of consumption. This is the only path to "saving". It also logically follows that an abundant supply of goods generally tends to make them more available to the multitude, while a limited supply of goods inherently have rather higher prices. This is demonstratef by much of our technology. When many products first come out, they are at what would appear to be very high prices.

This is not because of "greed" per se, it is because the supply is still quite limited. It has not become abundant enough for the price to be lowered to the extent of appeasing the multitude of consumers. Overtime, these seemingly high prices lower as the supply increases. If the buisiness fails to adequately bid the price down in this way, it will go out of buisiness, as in conjunction with the initial conception of this post, less people are able or willing to buy it.

If the government were to impose price controls below or above the market level, a similar scenario occurs as does with rent control. If prices are bid above the market level, this inevitably necesitates a decrease in the availability of the good or service to the multitude, and a special privilege to the provider of that good or service. If prices are bid below the market level, this inevitably necessitates a decrease in the incentive for providing that good or service, as it forces losses on the provider. Inevitably, focus will be shifted away from providing that service and into areas with higher incentives; hence, a "shortage".

As a consequence of the above, prices are a fluid thing. To artificially manipulate prices and wages through governmental intervention only distorts the market, setting up scenarios that are unsustainable as they are unable to adjust to change and people's time-preferances. All of these negative consequences are considered "market failures" by most, but in reality they are the failures, the negative consequences, of the economic interventions in question. They are distortions of the market created by government intervention.

An important question: Why do we have jobs in the first place? Why do we have prices in the first place? The answer is scarcity. There is no such thing as infinite labor, infinite production, infinite resources. As a consequence, things must be produced using the available resources of the earth, which are scarce. Man uses these resources to create tools (capital goods) by which to produce various goods and services (consumer goods). The price of all of this is ultimately determined by scarcity, including the scarcity of human labor itself.

The only way in which we could have no jobs is if anything can be produced by simply waving our magic wands - a utopian fairy tale. This is not reality though. Nothing is free, and our resources and capability to extract them is limited, not infinite. Everything must be produced - it does not just rain on us from the sky as mana. Therefore, it impossible to have "free everything for everyone".

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Was Jean-Baptiste Say a Market Anarchist?

Jean-Baptiste is certainly best known for his famous Law of Markets (la loi des débouchés) also referred to as Say's Law. Though Say's Law is one of the key points of the classical school of economics, the manner in which this obvious proposition has been distorted and misinterpreted in a significant number of economic textbooks as well as in lectures of certified professors of economics is simply perplexing.

As a consequence, Say's achievements are often abridged to some incoherent assertion that "supply creates its own demand."

But Jean-Baptiste Say has much more to offer than his Law of Markets. Actually, he had already conceived a society without government long before Gustave De Molinari, who is often considered as being "the first writer to draw the conclusion that government could, in effect, be replaced by competing companies or agencies offering to provide security and protection." It is my endeavor to show that Say was conscious of the shortcomings of governmental services in terms of the security and organization of society as such.

In the third session of his Cours à l'Athénée, Say explains that the supply of society is assured by the individuals who actually compose it. Furthermore, he notes that the disposal of capital is due to the private savings and precaution of individuals who, rather than destroying their savings, build their savings with the intention of creating new products. Likewise, he considers how these products come into the hands of those who need them, concluding that this is the result of interpersonal exchanges. As a result of this conclusion, he raises the following final question:
Have we found the government in this analysis up to now?

Again, he provides an answer:
No. And the reason of this is the fact that government is not at all an essential part of the social organization.

Thus, society could work without government management if people carried out their business and let other people carry out their business at the same time. Say underlines his position by giving some historical examples. Writing in 1819, he observes that at times during the previous thirty years, France had found itself in a situation in which all the authorities were suddenly halted. In these critical moments, no government was at all existent. And what does Say observe? During these periods, the essential functions of the social body could not have been carried out in a better way: everything worked, better than would have normally been the case. Say states that the worst occurred in times when people were too much governed.

Endeavoring to strengthen his position, he brings up another example, this time from overseas. In Kentucky, there are "cantons" in which one family would settle and take root, after which another family would move into the area, and so forth until the formation of villages occured. There were houses, clothes, and food, and the people were better nourished than many households in the rue Jean-pain-mollet and yet there was no government.

His observations lead him to declare that one can not only conceive a society without government but one can actually see it; the only problem is the journey overseas. Likewise, Say correctly argues that social life is not in the government but in the governed. As a consequence, the old representations of the state as a family and the chief executive of the administration as the father are not accurate at all.

According to Say, all productive enterprises are created by individuals in society, not by the state. It is the responsibility of productive enterprise to support the continuity of families, the components of society. Likewise, if there are government officials in the society, they exist at the people's expense. Only those who refuse to acknowledge this reality can still represent the state under the emblem of the family and public authority as an image of paternal power.

Furthermore, Say attacks the role of the government in commerce. He denounces those who pretend that government would have a favorable influence by asking what could be more favorable than a man's privacy as well as his liberty.

Say emphasizes that the primary condition of society is private property, given that it encourages production which is necessary in order to exist. Therefore, if one transgresses the natural law of private property (including the harm of human beings, self-ownership being the most incontestable form of property), the entire social body will take action against the aggressor. But since the involvement of the whole people would be disproportionate to the aim sought, it is necessary to charge persons with the responsibility of guaranteeing the respect for the fundamental law of private property.

It is worth mentioning that Say explicitly qualifies the government as not being useless (while also not essential) with regard to the protection of private property. It is in another essay that Say conceives the idea of private security, on Practical Politics.

The respect of private property and persons is necessary for the correct functioning of society. For this, it is only necessary to abandon the police to the society. As Say writes:

Whether a man beats a woman in the streets or a thief breaks into a store; the whole society will apprehend the delinquent … in the case of a dispute between two merchants: both of them nominate the judges. The judges pronounce and the point of contention is put aside. But there are other dangers that could occur. For instance, an isolated traveler could be attacked, thus, nobody comes to his rescue. "Is this the justification for a police corps composed of thirty thousand persons?" Say wonders. He proposes to entrust the security services that cannot be executed on one's own to a company and to withdraw their responsibilities in the case in which they are not able to protect an individual against some attacks or, at least, to find the culprit. He underlines this point by proposing the introduction of the principle of competition in the field of public administration, i.e., ascribe these functions to those companies who could exercise them with the highest efficiency and the smallest costs.

One quickly recognizes the similarity with Molinari's "government could, in effect, be replaced by competing companies or agencies offering to provide security and protection." A little bit further in his essay, Say repeats again that nobody is better governed than in the absence of government.

Society is composed of different professions having different functions. One of these functions is the protection or security of an individual and his rights. Thus, security is a profession like that of restoring the health of an individual in case of disease. This argument enforces Say's position of providing security with the aid of private enterprises.

However, one could still say that the problem of an invasion by a stranger persists. Say argues that there are no historical examples of successful invasion against a people, given only two conditions:

the absence of a threatening and permanent army; and
a citizenry of individuals heavily armed and eager to defend the institutions of the society in which they live.

Likewise, he strengthens his position by giving an example of the Romans:

The Romans were invaded by the Gauls and Hannibal. This would not have been the case if the provinces had been populated by citizens and not by slaves.

This final statement by Say extinguishes remaining doubts that he considered the possibility of a purely private society. His insights on this particular field of study are precious and leave some room for further elaboration, but his writings make clear that he not only considered society separate from the state, but actually entertained the possibility of a stateless society.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What can be done?

From your mouth to God’s ears, is what Alberto Gonzales should be saying to the hordes of press and Democratic administrators who are pressing for his retirement. All this silliness is unnecessary distraction. It is somewhat obvious that much of this information was leaked for some purpose that I believe serves as a straw man for the new powers that be to beat on. What we should be aiming for is the man behind the curtain. Mr. Bush is accountable and should be held to the standards of any treasonous prisoner. He should be sent to GITMO and tried with the hell he created. That would be a fitting punishment for a man who saw fit to defecate all over the Geneva Convention with such gusto. I could imagine he would quickly see the need for civilian console in those circumstances, not to mention living with the torture and jibing soldiers (who themselves don’t want to be there).

However that is just a pipe dream. There is little that can be done given the current reluctance of democrats to answer the call of justice. I have a great many doubts to the power and ability for our representatives to see a trial or even impeachment. Given the slim majority and that the motivation does not seem to be there what can one do? Someone once told me that cynicism is denial of hope, and perhaps I am all out of hope.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism

The anti-capitalists are still with us, and how. Robert Murphy has decided to give them an in-your-face economics education that they won't forget — ever.

His approach comes from years of teaching undergraduates and dealing with the most common errors. He also draws from his teaching experience at the Mises University to offer an Austrian perspective on economics.

He offers explanations and examples that are clear and compelling. What's wrong with zoning? Murphy explains it. Isn't outsourcing destroying America? On the contrary says Murphy: it is a wonderful for Americans! Shouldn't the rich fork over in the name of social justice? Murphy says that this would make us all poorer.

Isn't the Fed protecting us against depressions and inflations? Precisely the opposite, he says: the Fed is causing economic instability.

In so many ways, this book is a product of the Mises Institute. Murphy learned his economics at the Mises University (while getting his PhD at New York University) and then began to teach at our programs. He now serves as the headmaster of the Mises Institute online classroom.

This could be the most accessible and compelling introduction to free-market economics since Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. Certainly economics has rarely been this fun! The socialists and Keynesian of the world will hate this book and make it a target of all their venom. But if they read it, they might learn something.

This book is sure to become a hot seller, and a major source of controversy on campuses. A previous book in this series landed on the New York Times bestseller list. How splendid to think that with this book, the Austrian perspective is receiving yet another boost in public life.

Some topics covered:

Why central planning has never worked and never will
How prices operate in a free market (and why socialist schemes like rent control always backfire)
How labor unions actually hurt workers more than they help them
Why increasing the minimum wage is always a bad idea
Why the free market is the best guard against racism
How capitalism will save the environment — and why socialist countries were the most polluted on earth
Raising taxes: why it is never "responsible"
Why no genuine advocate for the downtrodden could endorse the dehumanizing Welfare State
The single biggest myth underlying the public's support for government regulation of business
Antitrust suits: usually filed by firms that lose in free competition
How tariffs and other restrictions "protect" privileged workers but make other Americans poorer
The IMF and World Bank: why they don't help poor countries
Why the industrial revolution was the biggest boon for the middle class in human history
Plus: Are you a capitalist pig? Take the quiz and find out!

Breezy, witty, but always clear, precise, and elegantly reasoned, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism is a solid and entertaining guide to free market economics written from the perspective of the Austrian School.

Murphy deploys all his abundant talents here, and to spectacular effect.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Performative Contradictions and Reducto Ad Absurdums

Making the case for libertarian ideas can be a tough task when faced with people who have had half-truths and falsehoods pounded into their heads since childhood. But an interesting and powerful way of refuting such people's arguements is to point out any performative contradictions that they imply or that the person engages in.

A performative contradiction is as the two words imply: a contradiction that is demonstrated by a person's actions. For example, if I was engaging in the action of shoveling snow and I said "I cannot shovel snow", I would obviously be contradicting myself by shoveling snow.

The subject of free will dates back eons. Some may view it as a primitive construct to be done away with. But I think that its existance and importance is clearly self-evident, which is exactly why the concept can be found so early in history.

What we find is that those who wish to deny free will are engaging in a performative contradiction. It'd be a performative contradiction to say "I don't have free will". You would have just used it to express the opinion that you don't have it.

Denying the existance of free will is ironically proof of free will. No matter what one does to argue against free will, they will be engaging in a performative contradiction and therefore proving free will in practise.

In relation to the question of free will, one common debate that libertarians may find themselves in is one in which someone challenges the existance of self-ownership. This is yet another performative contradiction.

To say "I don't own myself" is inevitably a demonstration of one's ownership of oneself, as expressed in their control necessary to make the statement in the first place. To make the statement is to take a voluntary action over one's own self, and therefore simply reaffirms that one owns oneself.

The only possible rebuttal to this is to claim that people's actions are pre-determined (like a secular predestination), which is obviously false. People's actions are rather unpredictable, precisely because as individual self-owners, they independantly take actions as expressed in their control over themselves.

Another, somewhat similar method of arguementation is to deduce reducto ad absurdums, which is latin for reduction to the absurd. Performative contradictions can be considered a form of reducto ad absurdum, but the concept extends beyond them. Reducto ad absurdums often point out that the critisized idea requires an impossible scenario to be realized or that the critisized idea contains two contrary ideas within itself.

The reducto ad absurdum that arises in relation to a challenge to self-ownership is that it would be impossible for anyone to take any actions at all without self-ownership and the control that it implies. If you do not own yourself, then you do not control yourself, and therefore you are unable to take any voluntary action at all.

Some people, particularly those on the left end of the political spectrum, while they may often support the idea of self-ownership, tend to question the concept of property rights over material objects. But property rights over material objects technically is a consequence of self-ownership, which is one's property right over oneself. The obtaining of material property inherently results from people using their self-ownership to aquire and control them.

There are a number of ways in which this can be done. It could be done by simply finding previously unused resources, such as picking an acorn off of the ground - the ownership of the acorn is justified as a product of the application of self-ownership. The person has used their self-ownership in a way that brings a material object into their possession.

A performative contradiction that arises in this example would be if the person who picked up the acorn said "I don't own this acorn". In reality they possess the acorn and therefore control it.

What about objects which are not something that we can simply pick up directly from nature: such as homes, articles of clothing, cars, pharmacudical drugs, etc.? These are objects that result from labor, which is an application of one's self-ownership towards productive tasks. Natural resources were transformed through human labor to create something new. The property's ownership is justified by the mixture of one's labor (I.E. self-ownership) with resources.

Things get a bit more complicated in the case of employment. Employment is a contract that entitles the worker to payment for working for the employer. The contract is effectively a voluntary trade off between the employer and employee.

Instead of the worker owning the material objects or services that they produce, they are given money by the employer that generally amounts to the value of what the worker produced in exchange for what was produced. The opposite would be absurd: a steel worker getting paid in the steel that they produce, instead of wages as a trade-off for yielding the produced steel to the employer? Ridiculous.

The reducto ad absurdum becomes even worse when we consider the case of jobs that don't necessarily produce material objects, but services (such as psychology, counseling, education, sports, etc.). Of course, these services require certain resources in order to carry out.

However, the actual job of the teacher, for example, is the service of teaching rather than to produce material objects (although in a limited sense, teachers do produce material objects in terms of paperwork, but nothing much more than this). The teacher is in a sense being payed for the use of their self-ownership to appease the task of teaching.

The reducto ad absurdum that arises if we believe that the worker is entitled to own what they are payed to produce for the employer in this case would be even more radical then the previous one: teacher's being given ownership of the school's property in payment for teaching, instead of wages in exchange for the service of teaching? Absurd. Such an absurdity would imply that workers in service-type jobs are literally entitled to ownership of the buisiness that hires them.

Another vital means of obtaining property is voluntary exchange between individuals. Such an exchange is effectively a switching of property titles. Once again, it is manifested in self-ownership by the control necessary to take the action. This means of justifying ownership is based on the fact the two parties voluntarily gave up ownership of one thing to obtain the other. They expressed their self-ownership to give up one property title to the other.

To deny one's right to voluntary exchange is to deny one's control over their own property, and therefore erode their ownership over it. Indeed, without economic exchange, people would be doomed to living off of their own back yards. Eventually, there would be no human beings left on the planet if they were unable or disallowed to exchange with eachother.

It would be absolutely absurd when one realizes that it would require that each individual human being economically isolate themselves from eachother, required to build their own home, provide their own food, provide their own clothing, provide everything all by themselves. That would be true "isolationism", in a bad way. Of course, it's an impossibility because human interaction is a necessity for the survival of the species.

Some people, particularly communists, make the claim that "property is theft", and use this as an arguement against all property or private property. This is another blatant reducto ad absurdum. The entire concept of theft implies a property right by its very nature. You cannot have theft without an original just owner of the property. To claim that theft has gone on is simultaneously to imply that someone (the victim) has a legitimate private property right.

One virulent idea that has particular popularity in contemporary philosophy and politics is the egalitarian conception of equality, that is, absolute equality. This notion has been applied to everything from economics to gender, always being a logical absurdity when applied to real human beings.

The criteria necessary to have absolute equality is uniformity; absolute equality is the same thing as uniformity. Inherently, the more unequal people are with respect to eachother, the more diversity there is, while the more equal people are with respect to eachother, the less diversity there is.

Pure equality in economics would require that everyone in the world be payed the exact same paycheck, work the exact same hours, posses the exact same level of productivity, enjoy the exact same benefits, own the exact same property, share the exact same consumer preferances, and spend the exact same amount of their money.

Pure equality in gender would require that there be an identical number of men and women, that men and women split up their activites 50/50 in all circumstances, that men and women think the exact same thoughts and share the exact same traits in all respects. It easily implies total androgony, hermaphroditism as the norm.

In short, the egalitarian notion of absolute equality leads to endless utopian impossibilities no matter what aspect of life it is applied to.

A related fallacy is the theory of democracy. The theory of democracy claims that it is possible to have a government that is entirely based on the "consent of the governed" and therefore a government that is representative of "the people" as a totality. In reality, however, "the people" is not a uniform entity. It consists of individuals with varying thoughts, actions and traits of their own; different wills of their own.

The inevitable requirement of the theory of democracy is unanimous consent. There is no such thing as unanimous consent to the government. "The people" have conflicts of interest among themselves, and of course there is a conflict of interest between "the people" and the government.

There is an endless sea of individuals and groups who do not favor the government or a particular policy. When the elections are over, the people who did not consent to and do not agree with and the result are forced to be effected anyways.

What has occured in reality is that, at best, a minority group (numerical* majority - even the claim to "majority rule" is often suspect in light of the fact that we are dealing with numerical majorities rather than real majorities) has dictated their consent to the rest of the population. Whatever the government ultimately decides is going to effect everyone, regaurdless of their votes and consent as individuals.

Another nonsensical doctrine is the notion of post-scarcity, which is the idea that there is (or we can create) an environment in which the scarcity of resources no longer exist. It most certainly takes some huge illogical leaps of faith to believe this. If there was no scarcity, then anything we want could be manifested infinitely, like mana raining from the sky at the snap of our fingers.

Such a scenario is silly. The planet in which we live on is a scarce, finite object. The resources that spawn from it are therefore also scarce. While some resources are more or less scarce then others, nothing is truly infinitely available to us. We cannot have infinite apples. There is always some limit to such things. In short, the criteria for post-scarcity is infinity in terms of the material objects available to us on the planet - a starry eyed pipe dream.

The methods of pointing out performative contradictions and reducto ad absurdums can be extremely useful. Above we have used them to refute quite a number of ideas: that people don't have free will, that people don't own themselves, that there is no justification for material property, that government can be based on unanimous consent, collective or worker ownership of buisiness property or the products that they are payed to produce, the idea that property is theft, the egalitarian notion of equality, the theory of democracy and the idea of post-scarcity.

Why will Iraq fail? Ask the British!

No other civilization has more experience in subjugation of foreign cultures than the mighty British Empire. Iraq was once part of the Ottoman Empire; many tribes migrated from place to place. It is incorrect to think of people living in that area at the time “Iraqis” they had no national identity as we know it. They had a tribal identity and they had a religious identity. Since Arab nationalism was late to enter the scene many of these territories were already carved out. Suddenly small villages were told by British and French troops that they were no longer subjects of the Ottoman Empire but “Iraqis.” It was the Sykes-Picot Agreement that subsequently led to French-British agreement on “spheres of influence.” Until 1930, when Iraq would win its semi-independence, however it would remain largely a British mandate. Since in 1941 the British re invaded Iraq for fear that the new king would cut off the oil supply they needed to fight there war in the Europe. Finally when 1958 came the Hashemite dynasty tumbled and Iraq withdrew from the Baghdad pact. It was then when Saddam Hussein came to be supreme ruler after disposing of his adversaries.

My point in this little history lesson was to make the case that the territory known as Iraq has suffered many different masters who have all failed ultimately to subjugate it, or its people. The British had a long and difficult time administering and governing what was largely a province. They also had some successes though because of there cultural non-involvement in the lives of the common Iraqi citizen. They did not ask them to change there religion or practices but only to play taxes and follow the basic code of laws laid down. Despite that mild doctrine, they were unable to maintain there empire.

We have a good deal to learn from this experience.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ron Paul on C-SPAN's Washington Journal

Environmentalism as Religion

by John M. Ostrowski

"What harm is there in saying, Lord Cæsar, and in sacrificing, with the other ceremonies observed on such occasions, and so make sure of safety?"

~ from The Martyrdom of Polycarp

A Roman imperial official posed the above question to St. Polycarp in 155 A.D. All Polycarp had to do was swear on the emperor’s Genius – his personal guardian spirit in Roman mythology – perform some sacrifices for Caesar, participate in the necessary social events, and thus have his life spared. But Polycarp did not do this and for that we remember him as one of the great Christian martyrs.

Roman religion was a deeply engrained part of Roman life – it was difficult for a Christian to stay completely true to their chosen faith without appearing at least a tad bit anti-social. Sometimes, when social isolation and the threat to stability in Roman cities grew too great, Christians were killed. Not very often, but every now and again.

We live in the 21st century now. We don’t persecute people because of their religion, no matter how socially awkward it makes them. Right?

Roman mythology and imperial cults have been left behind, but they have been replaced by a new religious mythology. It has begun to ingratiate itself into every aspect of American life, so that simple social activities demand adherence to the new ideology. The prime deity is none other than the Earth, or Mother Earth as adherents to the new religion call it. Adherents treat threats to their deity – quixotic as they may be – with ultimate seriousness. And the prime threat to Mother Gaia is anthropogenic climate change. This, of course, is just the most recent threat to occupy the majority of the environmentalists’ (a name they happily ascribe themselves) ire. In the past it has been such things as overpopulation, deforestation, man-made global cooling, nuclear power, etc. As with any religion, there is a church – the means through which religious goals are effected. That church is the modern state, for no "sensible" country on this planet denies that anthropogenic climate change is occurring. Dissenters from the Kyoto Treaty are treated as churches in heresy – anomalies that must be re-converted to the faith.

If it seems absurd that environmentalism is a religion that has inculcated itself into much of everyday life in America – nay – the developed world, then chances are you are ignoring the reality around you.

"What harm is there in … sacrificing … [to] make sure of safety?" asked the Roman imperial official. Environmentalists demand sacrifices of people each and every day. Recycling is an activity subsidized by many levels of the government. Most people – and this is evidence of the pernicious degree to which environmentalism has ingratiated itself into the minds of most people – think this is a good thing. Is it? The promise is that recycling saves money and energy by turning waste into usable products. If this were actually the case, there would be no need for subsidization, and the act of recycling wouldn’t even be sacrificial. Waste management companies would see the economic incentive in collecting trash and turning into a product that people will buy. Instead, government needs to subsidize recycling programs in order to keep them running, meaning recycling is not an efficient use of energy and resources. As a simple example, it is often better for the environment and for our pocketbooks to simply produce new paper than recycle waste paper. American citizens have to pay for this government indulgence via higher taxes and wasted time spent sorting and recycling their own waste.

This sacrifice has been beaten into the heads of American citizens by environmentalists and their state supporters so much that it has become a daily routine for most. Now, environmentalists are demanding more sacrifice. Carbon dioxide is the cause of the recent global warming, they claim, and thus we humans must cut back on our contribution of carbon dioxide. This means that environmentalists are demanding that we drive less, use less oil, and find ways to go about our daily business that use less energy than normal. For many people, this is a hassle. Environmentalists will counter that one need not make drastic changes in lifestyle to make a difference. The Internet is littered with lists of simple ways to help reduce global warming. To anyone willing to crunch the numbers, it is evident that small changes will not result in a significant decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. Only huge changes in lifestyle will result in a huge decrease in human carbon dioxide emissions.

It should not surprise us that environmentalists demand sacrifices, for any religion demands sacrifices. And like other religions, environmentalism is a human-centered one. Yes, in its purest form, it is Earth worship; its reverence is directed at something decidedly non-human. However, the beliefs and tenets of the faith concern humans and their role in natural history. Inevitably, in the modern world, this role is an antagonistic one for the environmentalists. Humans are the problem, and the solution will demand some bane to human beings. It is this simple fact that has led Peter Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace and a man who has become disaffected with the environmental zealots, to call environmentalists "anti-human."

Whereas most religions seek the betterment of humanity, environmentalism is unique in that it seeks the opposite. The sacrifices that it demands be made will result in severe harm for those who need help the most. In the developing world, environmentalists see an excellent area for proselytization and a place to implement their policies – for existing infrastructure is hard to change, but poor countries provide environmentalists with a tabula rasa. They preach the need for solar and wind power in the developing world. These two forms of energy, however, are not reliable or powerful enough for a world that is looking to industrialize. Imagine, for example, a modern factory of any type running completely on solar or wind power. Difficult to imagine? Of course. If the environmentalist vision of the developing world is allowed to take root, billions of people who can benefit greatly from industrialization will be condemned to poverty for the rest of their life. It’s sad that rich, Western environmentalists are so quick to demand this sacrifice of others. That the people they demand it of are the ones who will be harmed the most by it is downright reprehensible.

Finally, like many religions, there is a strong emphasis in environmentalism on the end of the world. Fear mongering and predictions of the apocalypse are the primary evangelizing tools of environmentalists. In the past we’ve endured warnings about overpopulation, nuclear holocausts, and now a global climate disaster. And like the apocalyptic predictions of other religions, those of environmentalism have never come to pass. But luckily for them, people have a short memory, and fear is a powerful persuasive tool. By the time it is clear that anthropogenic climate chance not only won’t cause the end of the world but also isn’t even happening, no one will remember the hyperbolic claims made by environmental zealots. Instead, we will be entertaining their latest apocalyptic fantasy.

It should be clear, now, that environmentalism constitutes a religion in every sense of the word. The fact that environmentalism is a religion does not bother me. If progressives (who constitute most of the movement) find their lives empty of meaning absent a real religion and thus decide to channel energy into Earth-worship and all that it entails, that is their business. When they try to use the violently coercive powers of the state in their favor, it is fitting that reasonable people challenge the basis for their beliefs.

In the case of environmentalists, it is fairly easy to show that their beliefs are informed by faulty logic and are perpetuated by out-and-out zealots. The claim of environmentalists is that carbon dioxide is causing us to experience unprecedented warming. Unfortunately, every element of this assertion is patently false. First, the warming humans are experiencing right now is not unprecedented. During the Medieval Warming Period, which occurred between 800 and 1300 A.D., temperatures were higher than they are today. More importantly, the fundamental assumption of environmentalists concerning global warming – that carbon dioxide causes warming – is false. If one examines the timeline that Al Gore used in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, which showed the impressive correlation between carbon dioxide levels and global temperature, one encounters a telling fact. Changes in global temperature precede changes in carbon dioxide levels by about 800 years. Carbon dioxide cannot be the cause if it follows what it is presumed to affect. Why does this phenomenon happen? When global temperatures rise, the seas get hotter, and carbon dioxide dissolved in the water starts to escape (gasses are dissolved more easily in liquids at lower temperatures). Because of the vastness of the oceans, it takes hundreds of years for ocean temperatures to rise. And finally, even if one does accept the environmentalist belief in carbon dioxide as the causal variable, one still has to deal with the fact that humans are responsible for a very small percentage of total carbon dioxide emissions. Volcanoes, animal flatulence, and rotting vegetation all contribute heavily to the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Humans currently account for about four percent of total carbon dioxide emissions, and carbon dioxide makes up about 0.038% of the atmosphere. Our effect on Earth’s climate is extremely minimal at best. All this evidence against global warming, plus more, is documented very well in the recent British documentary "The Great Global Warming Swindle."

Thus far, despite the apparent falseness of their beliefs, environmentalists have been extremely successful in achieving their goals. They have convinced the American people to sacrifice at the altar of Mother Gaia, and they have turned the already ignoble state into an even uglier beast – their church, the effecter of their religious goals. If allowed to continue, they will destroy the American economy and doom billions of people in developing countries to perpetual poverty. Secularists are quick to call for a wall of separation between church and state. It is time that environmentalism be held to the same standard.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Turkey and EU: Will they get there club jacket?

The distraction of Iraq and the plethora of scandals that seems to be pervasively revealing themselves among the chaos of the Bush administration; it is easy to forget the importance of events that are unfolding elsewhere. As America turns her glance inwards the EU has turned it’s to the East, more specifically Turkey. With in 12 months the EU will begin negotiations with its Muslim neighbor for entree to the 27 nation-strong economic and political club. Among the hope that Turkey will be in queue for entry within the next five years, many have expressed doubts. A recent case-study released from the popular magazine The Economist shows that sentiments are very much against Turkish entry.

Despite the German fear to Turkish entry, and a spotty human rights record as the old saying goes, there is no time like the present. Turkey will certainly benefit from the tumult of elections coming in France as its president Jacques Chirac prepares to retire. Even if the vote happens before the election the new array of French potentials will attempt to show the 2 million Muslim population that they are willing to accept Muslims into the club. It would be a photo opportunity to win some support after the catastrophic street riots last year. German Chancellor Ms. Merkel has made her opinion quite opaque as to wither she would use her immense veto power against Turkish entrée. Germany has experienced a recent wave of Turkish immigrants, many illegal which has made many Germans worried about general stability and high unemployment. A good deal of these concerns are somewhat unfounded seeing as Germany has made a miraculous recovery in savings and has lowered its public debt (Masstricht) by 38% in the last 5 years. Germany is also seeing a great deal of stable growth 3.5% GDP per year. Germans should be embracing the immigration which will supply cheap labor and add some much need revenue to the national coffers.

A fall out between Turkey and the EU will demonstrate to Muslims everywhere that they are not welcome in the west’s various economic and social institutions. In this time of delicate relations with the Middle East, the EU has the opportunity to turn the tide and win some badly needed” brownie points” with its own Muslim population. Turkey’s admittance to the EU would be less controversial than some of the central European entrance. Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, and Croatia are not only do not meet most of the charter requirements, but are in the red on human rights (especially Bulgaria). It is my opinion that Turkey should be admitted immediately. However, it will take a lot of convincing to get France and Germany on board. Nicolas Sarkozy of the Center-right party and the likely successor for Chirac has said many times that, “Turkey has no place in the EU.” We can only hope that common sense will override racism and stupidity in time.

Walter Block on Drug Legalization in New Orleans

Monday, March 19, 2007

Peace and Security Through Defense and Neutrality

by Michael S. Rozeff

Benefits of a defensive posture

Americans have a mass illusion. They have an offensive military posture and don’t know it. They think they are freedom’s defenders.

The Swiss have a true defensive posture. Their doctrine is to defend their land, but not to retaliate or initiate an attack on enemy soil. They do not make an attacker’s civilian populations or industries into targets. Before establishing this policy, Switzerland was conquered by Napoleon in 1798. Since 1803, when its autonomy was restored, Switzerland has experienced no major conflict on its soil. Its consistent and unyielding adherence to a purely defensive posture has been an important reason.

The U.S. and the American people should have a defensive military posture, not the offensive posture that we now have and have had for a long time. A defensive posture will produce far fewer wars and correspondingly far more peace and security for Americans. The immense toll of war, in lives lost, lives damaged, and huge costs incurred, will be accordingly greatly diminished.
A defensive posture will bring far greater prosperity and happiness. The risks of catastrophic destruction in America and elsewhere will be vastly reduced. The risk of nuclear wars that devastate entire peoples and regions of the world will be reduced. The risk of terrible diseases being intentionally unleashed worldwide will be reduced. The risk of foreign lands, the seas, and space being used to launch wars will be reduced.

A far greater degree of peace and security will flow from a defensive posture.

Meaning of defensive and offensive postures

What does it mean for America to have a defensive posture? It does not mean pacifism. It does not mean unilateral disarmament. It does not mean weakness. It means an overall and consistent military position that does not threaten foreign nations with military action. It means that Americans make their country to a high degree invulnerable to attack from foreign states. It means that Americans choose strategies that reduce the gains to foreigners from attacking America and raise their losses if they do attack; so that they find attacking America a losing proposition. It means restricting American forces to American soil by defending America in America and only in America. It means an armed America through the length and breadth of the land.

A defensive posture makes America strong, very strong defensively, so strong that foes do not find it in their interest to attack us.

By contrast, an offensive posture for America means that America is a constant military threat to other nations that it regards as foes. It means America chooses strategies such as being the world’s policeman. It means choosing sides and not staying neutral when wars break out. It means constantly getting into battles and wars. It means provoking other nations into wars. It means intervening militarily in foreign nations. It means planting bases and weapons in foreign lands, on the seas, and in space. It means entangling alliances. It means constant development of new offensive weapons, including weapons of mass destruction. An offensive posture means making alliances that drag America into wars. It means pre-emptive war making, forward defense, sanctions imposed on other nations, and the Bush Doctrine. It means an American New World Order, as implemented by the U.S. since 1988, under all the Congresses and all the Presidents; continuing a century-long goal. It means a posture of attempted American military superiority and dominance in the world.

But achieving peace and security through superiority will always elude us. Offensive postures stir up offensive reactions and arms races from others. They stir up attacks on us.

Our irrationality

America is so far from having a defensive posture that even to posit it, to outline what it means, even to describe how it works and suggest that it will work better than an offensive posture, will leave most readers shaking their heads in disbelief and wondering about its practicality and the sanity of its hardy few supporters. However, it is Americans who have been talked into believing that their strategy is just and defensive when it is not. The fear mongers and warmongers, the war merchants, the war intellectuals and media, the utopia seekers, and the politically powerful all in unison derisively shout down such a suggestion; labeling it as appeasement, isolationism, and weakness. The war beneficiaries have drowned out the opposition for so long that they no longer know the truth themselves and cannot conceive of the alternative. But the ultimate responsibility for American war making lies with Americans, their Congresses, and their Presidents. No amount of bluster can hide the blood-soaked truths of America’s time series of wars that have originated from its longstanding offensive posture.

No amount of angry bravado or idealistic twaddle can hide the fact that the Swiss, with their defensive posture, were not attacked by the Japanese or the Germans in World Wars I and II. The Swiss have not become embroiled in one severe war after another as the U.S. has, in the Pacific, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Far East. And even the U.S. earlier in its history and for brief periods of time managed to restrain itself and produce a semblance of peace through something of a defensive posture. George Washington counseled a defensive posture. Yet in virtually all of its history, America’s expansion and confrontations of the British, the French, the Spanish, the Indians, the Mexicans, and the Canadians were producing a culture of offense that is firmly embedded in American thought and behavior. It is offense wrapped in a false rhetorical bundle of defense, and this falsity reveals its irrationality.

The Swiss military policies have been far more rational than those of Americans. Every war that the U.S. needlessly threw itself into meant the large-scale destruction of American (and foreign) lives as well as property. War after war after war have reduced the prosperity of the U.S., saddled it with debt, held back its growth, and undermined the country’s values and freedoms. As a consequence of its offensive posture, severe retaliation on American soil has begun. Had the U.S. adopted a defensive posture long ago, none of this would have happened. Americans today would have been much further ahead.

Defensive posture of Switzerland

In his 1982 article, "Invulnerability without Threat: The Swiss Concept of General Defense," Dietrich Fischer explains the defensive posture of the Swiss. The details of the defensive posture of the Swiss are not necessarily the same ones that Americans might choose; but reviewing what they do is very useful. It shows the uninitiated that America has an offensive, not a defensive, posture. It displays the fact of alternatives to America’s offensive posture.

The Swiss objective is defense of their self-determination while allowing other nations their right to the same. This contrasts with the American objectives of extending the American way of life throughout the world and creating a fantasy world utopia of democracies. The Swiss armed forces are a militia, drawn from the entire population. Arms, ammunition, and uniforms are kept at home. This contrasts with America where we have standing and separate armed forces; and where important groups frown upon personal arms and ammunition and constantly attempt to disarm the population; and where since the Militia Act of 1903, the militia has increasingly become a standard army.

Parts of the Swiss population stands ready for tasks such as civil defense and medical services. The country’s defense is ready at all times. If an attack occurred, the army (the entire people) is ready to defend immediately. The population is also prepared to carry out sabotage, guerilla warfare, and civil disobedience. America has no counterpart to these plans. In keeping with norms of justice and just war, defense is to occur solely on Swiss territory. America, by contrast, seeks to fight anywhere but on American territory. The Swiss policy is not to retaliate on an invader’s territory and not to destroy the home property or population of an invading nation. It is to obey the various international norms and conventions of warfare. America does the opposite, indulging in total war upon an enemy and causing severe damage to civilian populations. America’s record in following international treaties and laws is horrendous.
By maintaining a military that permeates the population, by making known in advance a commitment to sabotage industrial plants, foodstuffs, and transportation facilities, by promising to engage in guerilla warfare, and civil disobedience, the Swiss raise the costs of invasion to an enemy while also lowering the benefits. This policy dissuades attack. By contrast, the U.S. invites attacks and wars. It looks for fights that it can join.

The Swiss have a neutrality policy. This means they do not have treaties and alliances obliging them to attack a country that attacks third party countries. This means that an aggressor has nothing to lose by leaving Switzerland alone. By contrast, the U.S. has numerous alliances that can send the U.S. into serious warfare at any time.

The Swiss offer services to other countries who leave them in peace: diplomacy, international relief, humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and international arbitration. This provides a carrot for other nations not to attack them. The U.S. uses its aid and services as devices to reshape the world to its liking and to control other countries. It uses aid as inducements to install bases on foreign soil.

The Swiss defensive posture is rational in providing appropriate incentives to foreign nations not to attack Switzerland, and this posture has worked. The Swiss by no means have a perfect system. They may err and stray from it. Among other faults, there are political pressures to reduce or eliminate the militia. And in 2002, the Swiss, who had been smart enough to stay out of the U.N., became a member.

The counter-reaction

Most Americans will no doubt react instinctively against these facts. One can hear the responses. "We are not the Swiss, after all. We are not some small landlocked European country. We are the leaders of the free world. We are the ones who have stopped Nazism and Soviet Communism. We stopped the Kaiser. Where was Switzerland when the Soviet Union threatened all of Europe? Where was Switzerland when North Korea aggressed against South Korea? We are the defenders of freedom in the world. If we do not project the American system, who will? Do you want to fight our enemies here when we can fight and kill them overseas? Do you dare advocate Fortress America? Do you dare advocate isolationism? Are you mad?" Harry Lime of Third Man fame will ridicule the Swiss accomplishments and reduce them to the cuckoo clock as compared with the Borgias.

But who is it that is mad? Who prefers war to peace? Who prefers perpetual war for perpetual peace? Who prefers such fancies as a world under American hegemony or a world filled with well-controlled and peaceful democracies? Who prefers to draw lines on maps and construct fake countries that eventually fall apart under the strains of separatist movements? Who prefers to regiment America? Who prefers to militarize America? Who prefers to invite attacks on American soil? Who is prepared to spend America’s blood and treasure on phantom ideals? Who places military actions in a host of foreign lands above the interests of Americans at home? Who manufactures one enemy after another? Who has huge war industries that constantly promote war and develop newer and deadlier weapons of mass destruction? Who has used these weapons of mass destruction?

There is method in the madness of the warmongers. What select few benefit from the American offensive posture? What companies and what Congressional districts benefit from the offence contracts? What power-hungry politicians, intellectuals, military officials, and bureaucrats benefit from their offensive fiefdoms? What Americans satisfy their patriotic lusts or their religious fantasies? What paranoid fears and blood lusts are reinforced by the convenience of enemies to incinerate?

Defense versus offense

Are the Swiss mad or the Americans? Is a defensive posture something to be dismissed without consideration?

Why is a defensive posture a superior choice? In football, the best defense is a good offense. Why is this not true of a country’s military posture? A football game is (a) scheduled and (b) played according to fixed rules and resources, such as 11 men on the field. Prior to a war, however, there is no certainty that the war will occur; and each side can alter its strategies and resources devoted to the conflict.

Suppose a country increases its offensive weapons. Then this prompts other countries to increase their defenses and their offenses. An expensive arms race begins. The increases in offensive weapons raise the levels of threat and increase the chance of being attacked. This is because the first side to use an offensive weapon has the advantage of destroying the offensive weapons of the other side. If two sides, for example, have missiles, the first side to use them has a better chance of destroying those of the other side. The offensive posture has three negatives: higher outlays for weapons, a higher chance of being attacked or getting into war, and a more destructive war if it occurs.

By contrast, a strong defensive posture reduces the chance of being attacked. A defensive posture is such that the side that attacks stands to lose heavily when it attacks. The recent Israeli attack on Hezbollah was of this variety. The American attack on Iraq has turned out in somewhat the same way in terms of continued American losses (although there is simultaneously the carnage of the civil war); and so is Afghanistan. The defensive posture may not be perfect, but it proves to be less costly in the long run because it reduces the chance of war, avoids arms races, and is less destructive when it occurs.

The amazing thing about America is that its position in North America makes it an excellent candidate for a defensive posture. America could be invulnerable and vastly reduce its participation in wars.

Americans would have to dismount their moral high horse, however. They would have to learn that their war making in the name of freedom and justice constantly violates norms of freedom and justice. They would have to learn that they have no right to declare themselves as the world police, to choose sides when other nations are warring, and to join the fray. In practice, the U.S. cynically supports an Iraq and a Saddam Hussein while helping him build up his weaponry; and then later turns against him. And if it claims to abandon its realist international policies in favor of a moralistic support of democracies in all lands, it still ends up supporting one fractious faction over another. It still supports factions with feet of clay that are as prone to brutality and misuse of power as Americans themselves are. There is no excuse for America’s offensive posture in any version of any international theory of American world leadership or intervention.

For the average American, there has simply been no good reason, moral or practical, to be fighting wars all over the world. If America defended itself as it should, the odds of an enemy attack would be very low. And America would be acting justly.


States internationally are in a condition of anarchy versus one another. There are incentives to cooperate because conflicts are costly. The movements of states toward accommodation with one another are analogous to what we expect protection agencies might do to settle disputes in a free market anarchism. But the incentives for cooperation are weaker with states because they are insensitive to the profit motive. In this situation of anarchy among states, where there is no international enforcement mechanism, the intentions and consistent behavior of the players count for a great deal in order to make commitments and words credible.

The offensive posture of the U.S. under Bush I and Clinton was already repositioning to a more aggressive offensive posture. Bush II and the Congress solidified that movement that had tentatively begun after the Soviet Union’s breakup. The past three Presidents and Congresses threw away the golden opportunity of leading the world in a peaceful direction, beginning with nuclear disarmament. Now the Bush Doctrine has damaged the U.S. considerably. The U.S. actions have precipitated increasing arms commitments in many countries. (The arms suppliers are happy.) Bush II has taken the offensive posture of the U.S. to new heights and backed it up by extensive signaling of intentions and by deeds. Reversing this course is an urgent American priority.

America is developing new nuclear weapons and is prepared to use them, even use them in pre-emptive attacks. We live under such a massive illusion that proponents of an offensive strategy regard all of this as defensive and are able to convince masses of Americans that it is, when it is obviously offensive. A nuclear weapon might be a pure deterrent, but persuading another country of that is very hard when it can be used offensively. Nuclear weapons are highly unlikely to be used on one’s own soil. They are clearly not part of a defensive posture.

Adapting a scheme of Karl Menger (son of Carl Menger), Dietrich Fischer has used a two-way classification for nations:

least safe
most safe

The aggressive nation has the offensive means or resources and the will or intent to use them. The invulnerable nation has the defensive means or resources and the will to use them.
The most security is achieved by not being offensive and aggressive while being strong in defense. The least security is achieved by being aggressive and offensive while being vulnerable in defense.

The U.S. is in the least safe posture. It is simultaneously aggressive overseas and vulnerable at home. Our borders are sieves. Determined and organized enemies that we ourselves have stirred up because of our offensive posture can and no doubt have infiltrated the U.S.
Return to ideal of neutrality

Americans have left home and need to return. We need to return to the ideals expressed in George Washington’s Farewell Address. Here are some pertinent excerpts:

"Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct. And can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it?"

"Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests."

"The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible."

"Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities."

"Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel."

"Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?"
"It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world, so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it, for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements."


America has an offensive military posture that has not served us well. We should have a defensive posture. This will reduce the risk of attacks on American soil and help create a more peaceful world. George Washington was right. William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and many modern presidents and Congresses have been wrong. Americans have chosen the wrong path. We have gone and are going in precisely the wrong direction.

Changing America’s military posture requires that Americans shift their thinking back to defensive American ideals that were current when the republic was born but were subsequently discarded in favor of offensive military ideals that supported America’s growth into an empire.
Both cynical or realist international policies of war and intervention, and utopian, idealistic, Wilsonian ideas of pseudo-morality led by America come to the same thing: an American offensive military posture. Both these modern views are wrong. Neither view benefits Americans at large.

Peace and neutrality have been given bad names among Americans by a long history of war propagandists and war beneficiaries. They have been twisted and perverted beyond recognition until we no longer know what they mean. The attainment of peace does not mean appeasement and cowardice. A defensive posture actually requires that the entire population be prepared to fight to defend themselves. A defensive posture is not pacifism. Neutrality means what Washington told us it means.

A just country will be loved and respected by the people. It will be prosperous. They will think it worth defending and want to defend it. It won’t be easily defeated. When Americans determine to become a truly free and just people, they will adopt a defensive military posture. It will deter attack, and Americans will find their long sought peace and security.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Economic Selections, Not Democratic Elections

by Bevin Chu

Do you want to remain free to determine your own destiny? Do you want your interactions with other human beings to be rooted in mutual consent rather than unilateral coercion?

Then don't champion democracy, don't participate in democratic elections. Instead champion the free market and make only economic selections.

Democratic Elections are both Deception and Self-Deception

"Democracy," as the National Endowment for Democracy informs us, "involves the right of the people freely to determine their own destiny. The exercise of this right requires a system that guarantees ... free and competitive elections."

"The authority of the government in democracies," as Wikipedia informs us, "derives solely from the consent of the governed. The principal mechanism for translating that consent into governmental authority is the holding of free and fair elections."

These characterizations reflect the Conventional Wisdom regarding the role of elections in modern democracies and other monopolistic states.

Unfortunately they are both deception and self-deception. They are deception on the part of the ruling elite, and self-deception on the part of the ordinary citizen.

The notion that "free and fair elections" actually reflect "the consent of the governed," and that individuals must participate in democratic elections in order to determine their own destinies, has to be the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on human race.

The Consent of the Governed? Determining One's own Destiny?

In fact, so-called "free and fair elections," by their very nature, can never reflect the consent of the governed, and the act of participating in democratic elections will only ensure that one is denied the right to determine one's own destiny.

This is not hysterical ranting. This is a straightforward statement of fact.

2004 Presidential Election: Did you determine your own destiny?

To better understand why democratic elections can never reflect the consent of the governed, and why participating in them will only ensure that one is denied the right to determine one's own destiny, we must clear our minds of preconceptions, and ask ourselves a simple question: What does it mean to cast a vote in a democratic election, plebiscite, or referendum, and how does it differ from making an economic selection in the market place?

Economic Selection Equals Self-determination

To make an economic selection in the market place is to take part in a non-coercive process in which one individual freely and willingly trades a product or service with another individual.
At no step in this process is either individual subject to compulsion. If the proposed transaction is unsatisfactory, and either individual reluctant, they are free to say, "Thanks but no thanks," and leave unmolested, taking away with them whatever they came with.

The Open Market Place: Where you really determine your own destiny

Making an economic selection in the market place is an act of self-determination. In fact, only economic selections in the market place are acts of self-determination, and conversely, all acts of self-determination are economic selections in the market place.

As the late, great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises observed in his magnum opus, Human Action:

With every penny spent the consumers determine the direction of all production processes and the details of the organization of all business activities. This state of affairs has been described by calling the market a democracy in which every penny gives a right to cast a ballot. It would be more correct to say that a democratic constitution is a scheme to assign to the citizens in the conduct of government the same supremacy the market economy gives them in their capacity as consumers. However, the comparison is imperfect. In the political democracy only the votes cast for the majority candidate or the majority plan are effective in shaping the course of affairs. The votes polled by the minority do not directly influence policies. But on the market no vote is cast in vain.

As Mises astutely noted, casting a vote in a democratic election is nothing like making an economic selection in the market place.

Democratic Elections Are Other-Coercion

Casting a vote in a democratic election is an act not of "self-determination," but of "other-coercion."

To cast a vote in a democratic election is to take part in a coercive process in which some individuals compel other individuals to formally sanction and financially underwrite measures that the latter oppose and want nothing to do with.

The coercion comes in two parts.

First, the individual is coerced into allowing others to determine his destiny, merely because they outnumber him.

Second, adding insult to injury, the individual is coerced into financially supporting others who are determining his destiny, merely because they outnumber him.

Democratic elections not only do not protect the individual from coercion, they formalize, institutionalize, and normalize the coercion of an individual by collectives whose only distinction from the individual is not greater legitimacy, but superior numbers.

Some democracies even go so far as to impose legal penalties on "qualified voters" who fail to exercise their "right to vote."

It's a peculiar "right" that gets one punished by the monopolistic state for not exercising it, is it not? One is reminded of an old joke: "Attempted suicide is a capital crime, punishable by death."
These democracies are terrified that low voter turnouts will show that they lack the ostensibly voluntary mandate that democratic elections give monopolistic states.

Boycott Elections? Sure. Boycott Taxes? Dream On

Although most democracies don't go quite that far, and although most democracies magnanimously allow "qualified voters" to boycott the election process, no democracy allows "qualified taxpayers" to boycott the taxation process.

Is it necessary to point out that all democracies care far more about our status as "taxpayers" than our status as "qualified voters?"

Is it necessary to point out that all democracies care far more about counting "their taxes" than counting your ballots?

Willie Stark in All the King's Men, extorting money from"taxpayer/voters" and remaking the world in his own image

The nomenklatura of democracies and other monopolistic states care only about being rubber-stamped as legitimate so they can get on with their real business: extorting money from "taxpayer/voters" and remaking the world in their own image.

Willie Stark's campaign appeal, "If you don't vote, you don't matter!" is beside the point.

What is to the point is the monopolistic state's attitude, "If you don't pay, it surely does matter!"

Democracy Is Feudalism

Package-dealing "the right to vote" together with "the duty to pay taxes" is nothing more than a con game. The "right to vote" in democratic elections, with its attendant duty to pay taxes, amounts to feudal-era corvée, i.e., involuntary labor owed to one's lord or king.

The "right to vote" in democratic elections is merely a veneer of progressive modernity applied to this feudal institution.

Once one's political consciousness is awakened, one realizes that "taxpayer/voter" is not an badge of honor, but a sign on one's back reading "Abuse me!"

Unanimity Equals Consent. Less Than Unanimity Equals Non-Consent

Any democratic election in which the result is less than unanimous does not reflect "the consent of the governed," but only "the consent of some of the governed."

Obviously those who voted against the outcome of the election did not consent, they merely acquiesced.

Even a unanimous election result reflects the consent of the governed only if every individual impacted by the result votes in the election, not just "qualified voters."

The fact that no democratic election has ever met the above conditions demonstrates that "champions of democracy" have never given a damn about "the consent of the governed."

Champions of democracy will argue that mere participation in a democratic election constitutes willing acceptance of the result as binding upon all participants.

Really? Do "champions of democracy" actually believe that everyone who participates in a democratic election considers it just that the result is legally binding upon them?

How many people feel that it is morally wrong for a mob, sorry, a "democratic majority," to determine the destiny of sovereign individuals, merely because "We voted on it!"

How many people participate in democratic elections reluctantly, under duress, because they fear an even worse fate at the hands of the mob if they don't participate?

How many people consider voting in democratic elections a "Sophie's Choice," i.e., a tragic choice between two unbearable options.

Do "champions of democracy" know? Do they care?

See: Sophie's Choice

The Consent of Some of the Governed

The phrase, "the consent of the governed" has an inspiring ring to it. But lip service to "the consent of the governed" within the context of a monopolistic state is nothing but Orwellian Newspeak, i.e., saying one thing while meaning its opposite.

In order to be truthful, the phrase "the consent of the governed" would have to be watered down to "the consent of some of the governed."

Imagine ambitious politicians delivering ringing speeches in which they proclaim that their government has "the consent of some of the governed?"

Now try it without breaking into uncontrolled laughter.

Democracy Is Mob Rule, In Every Sense of the Term

The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society.
~ Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816

When democracies and other monopolistic states come knocking at our door, demanding that we pay "taxes due," we must understand what is happening.

What is happening is that a "crime family with a flag" is demanding protection money by "making us an offer we can't refuse." We are physically coerced into paying for measures we disapprove of. We are physically prevented from spending our own money as we see fit.

A shopkeeper living under the thumb of a crime family is not free to say: "Thanks but no thanks. Instead of making monthly protection payments to you, I'll buy a shotgun and provide my own protection against vandals who would break my store windows."

Vito Corleone in
The Godfather, making people offers they can't refuse

Likewise, a "taxpayer/voter" living under the thumb of a democracy or other monopolistic state is not free to say: "Thanks but no thanks. Instead making annual tax payments to you, I'll make monthly service payments to a private security agency and provide my own protection against thugs who would invade my home."

During the 18th century the term "mob" referred to "a disorderly or riotous crowd bent on or engaged in lawless violence."

During the 20th century the term "mob" acquired another meaning: "a criminal gang, especially one involved extortion."

The fact that democracies extort taxes from "taxpayers" in precisely the same manner that criminal gangs extort protection money from shopkeepers gives new meaning to the well-known characterization of democracy as mob rule.

The "Right to Vote" Is an Oxymoron

We the Sheeple need to get something through our heads.

Voting in democratic elections is not a right. When we vote in a democratic election, we violate other peoples' rights. When others vote in a democratic election, they violate our rights.

Voting in democratic elections cannot possibly be a right, because logically speaking there can be no such thing as a "right to violate rights." Therefore "the right to vote" is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.

The violation is sufficiently indirect that most "voter/taxpayers" have no difficulty blanking it from conscious awareness, but that hardly makes the violation any the less real.

Voting in democratic elections would not violate peoples' rights only if participation in both the election and taxation processes were made voluntary.

But if participation in the election and taxation processes were made voluntary, democratic elections would no longer be democratic elections. They would be proxy votes by shareholders of a corporation. They would be economic selections in the market place.

The defining characteristic of democratic elections is their involuntary, coercive, and violative nature. Democratic elections, by their very nature, necessarily violate the rights of democratic minorities. No amount of rationalization can wish this fundamental violation of human rights away.

Democratic Elections Are the Problem. Economic Selection Is the Solution

Democracy is the problem. The free market is the solution.

Democratic elections are the problem. Economic selections are the solution.

The free market is everything that democracy is supposed to be, but isn't. Making economic selections in the free market is everything that casting votes in democratic elections is supposed to be, but isn't.

Democracies are coercive dictatorships, and democratic elections are the principal mechanism for translating that coercion into government authority callously indifferent to the consent of the governed.

The free market on the other hand is, to coin a term, "Manifest Liberty," and economic selections are the principle mechanism by which the sovereign individual translates individual liberty into individual destiny.

See: The Founding Fathers' Next Step

"I'm For Limited Government"

Friday, March 16, 2007

Government Services Are Forced Consumption (Even With Voting)

Government services are forced consumption. Since the funds for the services are conscripted from everyone through taxation, you have no choice to not buy the government's product. Any "losses" and debts that the government incurs is passed onto you (it can simply tax you more and inflate more). Everyone or nearly everyone must pay for it or go to jail (or worse), regaurdless of wether or not they demand the service from the government. In short, government coerces everyone into paying for its services under the threat of force or the jailhouse. A typical response to this assertion would be: "many citizens do have a choice whether to 'buy' the government's services or to make it offer new ones. They can vote".

But this simply is not true. It entirely ignores the individual, the dissenter, the people who disagree, the numerical minority. Voting does not gaurantee representation and it is never a matter of true majorities or true unanimity. "The citezens" aren't one entity that all desire the same things. When we say "the citezens can vote for which services to get", in reality, only a limited percentage of the people are deciding this, and those who do not decide this are forced to pay for the services that those who do want it.

Among those voting, there are conflicting desires. The side of voters who loses must also pay for the desires of the numerical majority who wins. The idea that voting grants you true representation is a sham. Your choices are decided for you ahead of time (do citezens get to vote on every issue, let alone select what issues they vote on in general? of course not). You rarely get to actually directly vote on issues, and when it comes to elections for politicians you essentially only have two pre-stacked choices: Democrats and Republicans (I.E. people in the current establishment vs. people in the current establishment). That isn't representation, nor does it represent any meaningful power over the government on the part of the citezen.

The politician can for all intents and purposes do as they please once voted in office (and voting them out comes as an oppurtunity every few years, and they tend to jerry rig their seats and districts so that they can't be voted out easily). They are not bound by your vote, you are bound by it. You must put up with whatever the government does once they have been voted in, even if you voted in their favor. You have no choice to change your mind (if you do, you're simply S.O.L.), and you have no choice to not pay for a government policy that you do not demand as a consumer. If "the voters" vote that your religion is illegal and that you must pay for service X, then you have no choice in the matter. If "the voters" voted against it, and politician X goes through with it anyway, then you have no choice in the matter; politicians can use their power contrary to the wishes and promises made to those who voted for them ex-post-facto, once they're in power.

Voting is irrelevant; all of the services that the government provides that you do not desire you must pay for anyways, or you go to jail. Voting is not a demonstration of unanimous consent. There are always people who do not desire what the numerical majority of voters want. To pretend that everyone has a unanimous power to get what they want from the government through the voting system is nonsensical. Whatever the numerical majority gets in their favor, everyone else must comply with. Voting or not, whatever the government ultimately decides to do, everyone has to pay for it regaurdless of wether or not they desire it.

The only way for the quoted response to be true would be if everyone all desired the same thing from their government. This is not how reality works, however. All those who desire differently then the government itself or the numerical majority who determines election outcomes must pay for it regaurdless. Further, no individual citezen has the power to truly vote specifically on what they desire. What if my desire is to abolish the federal reserve? Or the income tax? Well, that would never be an option at any voting booth, therefore my demand is unheard by the government. After voting has already occured, what if I oppose the minimum wage hike that my state passed? Well, my buisiness is made to pay certain workers more even if my demand is to eliminate the minimum wage altogether.

The voting theory here is based on the ridiculous unspoken assumption that every citezen unanimously consents to everything that the government does. In reality, each individual human being demands different things, and those who do not demand whatever the government is providing must pay for it anyways. This is beyond obvious. When voting determines that a law will be passed or politician be granted power in Ohio, this does not mean tha every single person in Ohio has demanded and consented to the law or politicians. Everyone in Ohio who disfavors that politician or law must put up with and pay for it anyways.

This is why I reject the theory of democracy. It is a sham. Its absurdity can be demonstrated mathematically. Texas is considered a "red state", correct? Well, the actual statistics for the election read something approximately like this: say, out of eligible voters in Texas, 40% of them voted. As a further percentage of this 40%, say, 50% voted for Republicans, 45% voted for Democrats and 5% for Independant parties. Therefore, Texas is a "red state" as represented by about 20% of the eligible voting populace. The numbers dwindle down further when we consider the eligible voting populace as a percentage out of the overall Texas population; which will reduce our percentage to, say, 12% or 13%.

So, what voting theory would consider to be a majority or unanimous consent and demand for what the government does is really only a reflection of a splinter group, a small numerical majority. Of course, in our example, all those who voted for Independants or Democrats must pay for the politicians and policies that "won" that they didn't demand. Further, all those who didn't vote must pay for this as well. Further, the people in the actual numerical majority are not unanimous; they have varying motives and demands, and therefore a conflict of interest within their own group. So much for representation.

Beyond this, quite often the voters (1) get something quite different than what they voted for (2) were uninformed as to what they voted for really does or (3) get what they voted for + unintended consequences. Of course, even if they do get what they voted for there are others in society who must pay for it who did not vote for it not have any desire for it. There is no such thing as a free lunch: TANSTAAFL. Most voters are bribed by sneaky politicians into thinking that they can get a free lunch from the government, when in reality it is at a net expense to them and everyone else in society, including those who do not desire that particular free lunch or any free lunch at all.

The politician's job is to woo the voters as much as possible by promising them utopia; free this, free that, war on this, war on that, pure equality for all, etc. Democratic voting has become an ideological obfuscation of state predation just like the divine right of the king used to be, accept now it's secularized and voting is held up as the divine justification for whatever the state does; or the state itself is religiously idolized (as was done in Communist Russia, where paradoxically while all reigion was effectively illegalized, the education system was used to religiously indoctrinate the people to turn the communist state and the dictator into a religious idol).

There is no such thing as unanimous consent to the government, and therefore there is no such thing as a government based entirely on the consent of the governed. It is a fairy tale that has been abused to grant people power. Further, majority numbers does not determine moral correctness and defacto legitimacy. Such a line of reasoning is a logical fallacy known as arguementum ad populum. But in the world of consistant logic, 500 men robbing from one man is not any more moral then 1 man robbing from 1 man. Therefore appeals to the majority are mostly false justifications for the abuse of power.

Voting determined by numerical majorities does not determine actual accurate representation of "society" as a whole, nor does voting in itself necessarily lead to representation of the voter's well-being and demands in any way at all. Most of the voters themselves have little to no clue about the issues. Not only that, but to engage in voting that is followed through technically is imposing your will on others in society (therefore, once again, there are conflicts of interest, not unanimous consent). Society is not a single unified sentient entity that uniformly thinks thoughts and takes actions on its own. It is made up of individuals with varying ideas, actions, needs and wants. Appeals to the collective view of society obscure the individual factors at work, and in turn obscure the dissenters and variance within it.

Government cannot function like a buisiness. Government provision of services such as public agriculture, public industry, the post office, NASA, foreign nation building, public housing, public energy, public broadcasting, public education, public healthcare, public daycare, public welfare, public psychology, public counseling, job training and even public roads are all at a net expense to society and forced onto everyone (which includes the recievers of the services, the coerced producers of them and the coerced payers for them) and the regaurdless of their demand and consent as individuals.

Further, to the extent that the recievers of these services do not fully use them, they are at a loss, on top of the loss incurred to the net payers (which quite easily expands to the reciever themself as well). The affected citezen has no choice to not recieve the service and they have no choice to not pay for it. It is coerced consumption for the recievers and coerced labor (and therefore involuntary servitude, I.E. slavery) for the net payers. Both government ownership and government contracting of the means of production produce this general outcome, although in different ways. In either case, in both scenarios there people being forced to consume, pay for and produce services regaurdless of their demand or voluntary choice as individuals.