03 Oct

The future of Libertarianism

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(Lew Rockwell) – Marxists were notorious for infighting over the most trivial differences. One group would secede from another, reverse the word order of the group it had seceded from, and declare itself the new and pure group. The first group, the new group would declare to the world, was part of the fascist conspiracy to suppress the coming workers’ triumph, even though the differences between the two groups were completely undetectable even to an expert.

An informal debate taking place among libertarians these days, regarding whether people ought to be “thick” or “thin” libertarians, is of a different character. It strikes at the very heart of what libertarianism is.

The “thin” libertarian believes in the nonaggression principle, that one may not initiate physical force against anyone else. The thin libertarian thinks of himself simply as a libertarian, without labels. Most “thick” libertarians likewise believe in the nonaggression principle, but they believe that for the struggle for liberty to be coherent, libertarians must be committed to a slate of other views as well.

Before I proceed, let me anticipate an objection. Shouldn’t I spend my time attacking the state instead of criticizing other libertarians?

For one thing, look around at this website: it’s a veritable treasure trove of articles on every subject under the sun. Over the years at LRC we have left no stone unturned in exposing the evils and lies of the state, and building up the libertarian alternative. As a matter of fact, I have a new book on the verge of release that continues in that tradition: Against the State: An Anarcho-Capitalist Manifesto.

Secondly, there’s nothing wrong with what some people disparage as “infighting.” A respectful exchange of ideas is how a school of thought develops. And I agree with Tom Woods: it is not true, as many allege, that libertarians are uniquely prone to arguments among themselves. Just observe the Democrats, the Republicans, your homeowners’ association, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims – or, for that matter, just about anyone.

Proponents of a “thick” libertarianism suggest that libertarians are bound to defend something more than the nonaggression principle, and that libertarianism involves commitments beyond just this. One such proponent recently said, “I continue to have trouble believing that the libertarian philosophy is concerned only with the proper and improper uses of force.” But no matter how difficult it may be for that person to believe, that is precisely what libertarianism is, and that is all it is.

As Murray Rothbard, Mr. Libertarian himself, once explained:

There are libertarians who are indeed hedonists and devotees of alternative lifestyles, and that there are also libertarians who are firm adherents of “bourgeois” conventional or religious morality. There are libertarian libertines and there are libertarians who cleave firmly to the disciplines of natural or religious law. There are other libertarians who have no moral theory at all apart from the imperative of non-violation of rights. That is because libertarianism per se has no general or personal moral theory.

Libertarianism does not offer a way of life; it offers liberty, so that each person is free to adopt and act upon his own values and moral principles. Libertarians agree with Lord Acton that “liberty is the highest political end” – not necessarily the highest end on everyone’s personal scale of values.

We have been told by some libertarians in recent months that yes, yes, libertarianism is about nonaggression and private property and all that, but that it is really part of a larger project opposed to all forms of oppression, whether state-imposed or not. This has two implications for the thick libertarian. First, opposing the state is not enough; a real libertarian must oppose various other forms of oppression, even though none of them involve physical aggression. Second, libertarianism should be supported because the reduction or abolition of the state will yield the other kinds of outcomes many thick libertarians support: smaller firms, more worker cooperatives, more economic equality, etc.

Let’s evaluate these implications one at a time.

To claim that it is not enough for the libertarian to oppose aggression is to fall into the trap that destroyed classical liberalism the first time, and transformed it into modern liberalism. How, after all, did the classical liberalism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries become the state-obsessed liberalism of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? How did the once-venerable word liberalism become perverted in the first place? Precisely because of thickism. Sure, twentieth-century liberals said, we favor liberty, but since mere negative liberty – that is, restrictions on the state – doesn’t appear to yield a sufficiently egalitarian result, we need more than that. In addition to restrictions on some state activity, we need the expansion of other forms of state activity.

After all, the new liberals said, state oppression isn’t the only form of oppression in the world. There’s poverty, which limits people’s ability to make life choices. There’s private property, whose restrictions limit people’s ability to express themselves. There’s discrimination, which limits people’s opportunities. There’s name-calling, which makes people feel bad. To focus entirely on the state is to miss these very real forms of harm, the new liberals said.

Sound familiar? Is this not precisely what many thick libertarians are now saying? Attacking the state is not enough, we hear. We must attack “patriarchy,” hierarchy, inequality, and so on. Thick libertarians may disagree among themselves as to what additional commitments libertarianism entails, but they are all agreed that libertarianism cannot simply be dedicated to eradicating the initiation of physical force.

If some libertarians wish to hope for or work toward a society that conforms to their ideological preferences, they are of course free to do so. But it is wrong for them – especially given their insistence on a big tent within libertarianism – to impose on other libertarians whatever idiosyncratic spin they happen to have placed on our venerable tradition, to imply that people who do not share these other ideologies can’t be real libertarians, or to suggest that it would be “highly unlikely” that anyone who fails to hold them could really be a libertarian. That these are the same people who complain about “intolerance” is only the most glaring of the ironies.

Thus the danger of thick libertarianism is not simply that vast chunks of the American population will fail to pass its entrance requirements, not keeping up every ten minutes with what MSNBC informs us is acceptable to believe and say. The danger is that thick libertarianism will import its other concerns, which by their own admission do not involve the initiation of physical force, into libertarianism itself, thereby transforming it into something quite different from the straightforward and elegant moral and social system we have been defending for generations.

Now for the second implication, that opposition to the state should be favored because it will yield egalitarian outcomes. (Of course, the abolition of the state will necessarily increase the level of egalitarianism from the point of view of status; the inequality of status between state officials on the one hand, who today may carry out all kinds of moral outrages with the legitimacy of the state to support them, and ordinary people, who are constrained by the traditional moral rules against theft and aggression, on the other, will no longer exist when the state disappears.) But what if it doesn’t? The claim that firms will tend to be smaller on the free market, and that government policy encourages bigness in business, is far too sweeping a statement about far too complex a phenomenon. What if the absence of the state leads to no change in firm size, or in the employer-employee relationship, or in wealth inequality?

At that point, the question would become: to which principle are thick libertarians more committed, nonaggression or egalitarianism? What if they had to choose?

Likewise, the hatred of some classical liberals for the Church motivated them to confiscate Church property and impose restrictions of various kinds on Church activity. When it came down to a choice between their belief in liberty and their personal hatred for the Church, their personal hatred won the day, and their supposedly principled opposition to violence was temporarily suspended.

How people arrive at libertarianism is also immaterial. There are various schools of thought that culminate in the principle of nonaggression. Once there, we may of course debate what precisely constitutes aggression in particular cases, and other foundational questions within the general framework of the impermissibility of aggression. But if the school of thought you belong to takes you only partly toward nonaggression, it is not the case that you have discovered a new or better form of libertarianism. Such a case would mean only that you are partly a libertarian, not a different kind of libertarian.

Whether it’s the claim that self-defense laws are “racist,” that Bitcoin is “racist,” or that libertarians ought to throw off “white privilege” – all of which have been advanced by libertarians claiming to have moved beyond our alleged fixation with the nonaggression principle – the various forms of thick libertarianism are confusing the core teaching of what we believe. None of these concerns have the slightest bit to do with libertarianism.

All of these additional claims are a distraction from the central principle: if you oppose the initiation of physical force, you are a libertarian. Period. Now how hard was that?

Originally published at: http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/05/lew-rockwell/the-future-of-libertarianism/

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02 Oct

Tab for trucks Pentagon doesn’t need could top $100M

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(USA Today) – The Army and Marine Corps may have wasted more than $100 million returning vehicles from Afghanistan that they don’t need over just a one-year period, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday.

The services could have saved the money by blowing up the trucks or turning them over to allies, the report says. Over a one-year period, the Army and Marines returned 1,000 vehicles to the United States that the service didn’t need, at a cost of as much as $107,400 per vehicle.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/30/pentagon-afghanistan-waste/16479841/

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02 Oct

Ron Paul says Scottish succession movement should inspire Americans

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(SmallGovTimes) – In his weekly column, former Texas Representative Ron Paul praised the latest succession movement in Scotland and reminded Americans that breaking free from unruly centralized governments is not only proper, but is what ultimately inspired the nation that we live in.

Though the succession vote in Scotland failed, it demonstrates that people around the world are growing more tired of overarching rule from unaccountable government authorities, and should “cheer supporters of the numerous secession movements springing up around the globe”.

In the United States, the succession movement is growing, Paul wrote.  “According to a recent poll, one in four Americans would support their state seceding from the federal government. Movements and organizations advocating that state governments secede from the federal government, that local governments secede from state governments, or that local governments secede from both the federal and state governments, are springing up around the country.”

Acting in a “grand American tradition”, the former congressman accurately cites the American independence movement in the 1700s, justified by the Declaration of Independence, stands as proof that “widespread acceptance of the principle of peaceful secession and self-determination could resolve many ongoing conflicts.”

Read Dr. Paul’s full essay through the Ron Paul Institute web site.

 

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02 Oct

Internet Sales Tax Could Crush Small Businesses

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(Ron Paul) – One unique aspect of my homeschool curriculum is that students can start and manage their own online business. Students will be responsible for deciding what products or services to offer, getting the business up and running, and marketing the business’s products. Students and their families will get to keep the profits made from the business. Hopefully, participants in this program will develop a business that can either provide them with a full-time career or a way to supplement their income.

Internet commerce is the most dynamic and rapidly growing sector of the American economy. Not surprisingly, the Internet is also relatively free of taxes and regulations, although many in Washington are working to change that. For example, earlier this year the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act, more accurately referred to as the national Internet sales tax act. This bill, which passed the Senate earlier this year, would require Internet businesses to collect sales tax for all 10,000 American jurisdictions that assess sales taxes. Internet business would thus be subject to audits from 46 states, six territories, and over 500 Native American tribal nations.

Proponents of the bill deny it will hurt small business because the bill only applies to Internet business that make over a million dollars in out-of-state revenue. However, many small Internet businesses with over a million dollars in out-of-state revenues operate on extremely thin profit margins, so even the slightest increase in expenses could put them out of businesses.

Some businesses may even try to avoid increasing their sales so as to not have to comply with the Internet sales tax. It is amazing that some of the same conservatives who rightly worry over Obamacare’s effects on job creation and economic growth want to impose new taxes on the most dynamic sector of the economy.

Proponents of the law claim that there is software that can automatically apply sales taxes. However, anyone who has ever dealt with business software knows that no program is foolproof. Any mistakes made by the software, or even errors in installing it, could result in a small business being subject to expensive and time-consuming audits.

Some say that it is a legitimate exercise of Congress’s Commerce Clause power to give state governments the authority to force out-of-state businesses to collect sales taxes. But if that were the case, why shouldn’t state governments be able to force you to pay sales taxes where you physically cross state lines to make a purchase? The Commerce Clause was intended to facilitate the free flow of goods and services across state lines, not to help states impose new burdens on out of state businesses.

The main proponents of this bill are large retailers and established Internet business. Big business can more easily afford to comply with a national Internet sales tax. In many cases, they are large enough that they already have a “physical presence” in most states and thus already have to collect state sales taxes. These businesses are seeking to manipulate the political process to disadvantage their existing and future small competitors. The Internet sales tax is a bad idea for consumers, small Internet business, and perhaps most importantly, the next generation of online entrepreneurs.

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01 Oct

Republican Judge Orders Obamacare Defunded; but will it be?

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(Think Progress) – Much of the Affordable Care Act must be defunded and millions of Americans must lose their health insurance, according to an opinion issued Tuesday by Judge Ronald A. White, an Oklahoma federal judge appointed to the bench by George W. Bush.

White’s opinion reaches the same result reached by two Republican appeals court judges in a similar case, although that decision was later withdrawn by the full appeals court. To date, nine federal judges have considered this question of whether much of the law should be defunded. Only three — all of whom are Republicans — have agreed that it should be.

 The theory behind this lawsuit, Pruitt v. Burwell, is that although the Affordable Care Act gives states a choice between setting up their own health insurance marketplaces or permitting the federal government to do it for them, health exchanges run by the federal government cannot provide subsidies to help insurance customers pay for their insurance. Should this theory ultimately be embraced by the courts, it will likely trigger a “death spiral”of premium spikes that will drive more and more consumers out of the insurance market, until the markets eventually collapse.
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01 Oct

CA’s unconstitutional restraining order on the 2nd amendment

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(The Truth About Guns) – Imagine opening the door to a gaggle of police officers in the middle of the night. One hands you a “temporary emergency gun violence restraining order” and recites these words: “You are required to surrender all firearms and ammunition that you own or possess in accordance with Section 18120 of the Penal Code and you may not have in your custody or control, own, purchase, possess, or receive, or attempt to purchase or receive a firearm or ammunition, while this order is in effect. However, a more permanent gun violence restraining order may be obtained from the court. You may seek the advice of an attorney as to any matter connected with the order. The attorney should be consulted promptly so that the attorney may assist you in any matter connected with the order.” And then . . .

the police officer and his colleagues enter your house to confiscate all your firearms and your ammunition. If you don’t willingly ID the location of your firearms and ammunition – and even if you do – the police conduct a thorough search of your house, upending everything, lest you be hiding guns and ammo in anticipation of their visit.

http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2014/09/robert-farago/random-thoughts-californias-gun-violence-restraining-order/

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01 Oct

Libertarian Party likely to set a record for support in midterm year

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(Ballot Access) – Throughout U.S. history, no party other than the Democratic and Republican Parties has ever polled as many as 1,500,000 votes for its nominees for the office at the top of the ballot (in the entire U.S.) in a midterm year.

The only instances in which a party, other than the Democratic and Republican Parties, has ever polled as many as 1,000,000 votes for its top-of-the-ballot nominees in a midterm year are: (1) Peoples Party 1894, 1,288,719; (2) Progressive Party 1914, 1,480,275; (3) Reform Party 1998, 1,407,005; (4) Libertarian Party 2010, 1,015,009; (5) Libertarian Party 2002, 1,002,232.

This year, it seems extremely likely that the Libertarian nominees for the office at the top of the ballot will poll over 2,000,000 votes. This is partly because the Libertarians have more candidates for the top-of-the-ticket office this year than ever before, but mostly because so many of the party’s nominees are receiving substantial support.

“Office at the top of the ticket” is deemed to be Governor, for all the states that elect Governors this year. For those states that don’t elect Governors this year, it is deemed to be U.S. Senate. For the handful of places that have neither gubernatorial nor U.S. Senate races this year, the offices are: District of Columbia Mayor; Indiana Secretary of State; Missouri Auditor; North Dakota Secretary of State; Utah Attorney General; Washington U.S. House.

The Libertarian Party has candidates on the ballot for the topmost office in 37 states, the most it has ever had. The previous high for the party was 2002, when it had candidates for that office in 34 states. The Reform Party in 1998 only had nominees for the topmost office in 18 states, but it got a very high national vote because of its showing in Minnesota and New York. The Progressive Party in 1914 had such nominees in 38 states. The Peoples Party in 1892 had them in 42 states. For purposes of this calculation, organized territories are treated as “states” because they elected Delegates to the U.S. House, and that office has been included as the office at the top of the ballot.

http://www.ballot-access.org/2014/09/libertarian-party-likely-to-set-a-record-vote-for-all-minor-parties-in-u-s-history-for-offices-at-top-of-ballot-in-a-midterm-year/

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01 Oct

Lefty radical Donna Brazile tweets: “We need a new Constitution”

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(Powerline Blog) – Harry Reid is a determined radical, intent on limiting freedom, overturning American traditions, and remaking our institutions in the name of crushing the opposition and empowering the left. His attempt to amend the First Amendment to curb free speech is a natural extension of his obliteration of longstanding Senate rules that promote deliberation and minority input.

But Reid seems almost moderate by left-wing Democrat standards. Take Donna Brazile, vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee for voter registration and participation. For her, eviscerating the First Amendment is small potatoes; she wants to scrap the entire U.S. Constitution.

Brazile tweeted: “We need a new constitution.” This, she stated is “how we save American democracy from charlatans, loudmouths and the 1 percent.”

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01 Oct

Pentagon auditor spotlights US billions blown in Afghanistan

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(Fox News) – Another day, another report of rampant waste of U.S. taxpayer money in the effort to rebuild Afghanistan.

John Sopko, the inspector general charged with monitoring aid sent by the U.S. to Afghanistan, has identified potentially billions of dollars wasted in Afghanistan, including donation of planes the local government doesn’t need or can’t use, weapons that disappear as soon as they’re handed over and and construction of brand new buildings that are basically firetraps. In a steady stream of audit reports, Sopko’s office of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, has spotlighted seemingly endless waste in the war-torn nation.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/28/war-on-waste-pentagon-auditor-spotlights-us-billions-blown-in-afghanistan/

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30 Sep

Cops sued for breaking into home, arresting woman for recording

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(RT) – A Pennsylvania couple is suing three Collingdale police officers for entering their home without permission in an effort to confiscate a cell phone legally used to record the officers during a February confrontation in front of their home.

In the lawsuit, Kia and Michael Gaymon say that Officer Carl White entered the home without a warrant and arrested Kia after threatening to use a Taser on her. The officers are accused of unlawful arrest, malicious prosecution, retaliatory arrest, and unlawful search, according to NBC10.

http://rt.com/usa/191636-police-arrest-woman-filming/

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