Stop vb. , to arrest the progress of; to hinder; to impede; to cease

State n. , a gang of thieves writ large; a territorial monopolist of compulsion and
ultimate decision-making (jurisdiction) which may engage in continual, institutionalized property rights violations and exploitation in the form of expropriation, taxation, and regulation of private property owners; the group within society that claims for itself the exclusive right to rule everyone under a special set of laws that permit it to do to others what everyone else is rightly prohibited from doing, namely aggressing against person and property.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Defeating the State through Language

by Austin White

One of the statists’ biggest weapons is the manipulation of language through the utilization of euphemisms and transforming of definitions.  The Department of War is now the Department of Defense.  Government perpetrated torture is now called enhanced interrogation.  Massive institutionalized theft by government is called taxation.  Instead of being called an aggressive, coercive redistribution of wealth, the welfare state’s actions are called charity.  One of the most damaging blows to the Bill of Rights ever is called the USA Patriot Act.  Massive government spending, inflating, and deficit financing are simply referred to as The Keynesian Model.  State-worshipping jingoist warmongers who advocate a blatantly unconstitutional foreign policy are patriotic.  Compulsory government indoctrination centers are public schools.

The amount of damage and distortion that language has suffered at the hands of statist ideologies is approaching a level as bad as the Newspeak in George Orwell’s fictional Nineteen Eighty-Four, where the goal of the political class is to destroy the language through the consolidation and simplification of words, with particular emphasis on words that may inspire rebellion and undermine the dominance and superiority of the State.  In short: the goal of Newspeak in the book is to continually reduce the intelligence of the ruled –i.e. taxpayers – and make them easier to regulate.

The American government shares this goal, but the methods differ.  Instead of dumbing down the population to make them easier to rule, although this is occurring as well, intentionally or unintentionally, through the public school system, the primary method of the statist intellectuals and political class in obtaining people’s obedience is by legitimizing the violence of government.  In addition to conditioning people to comply with its each and every edict and into believing that the State is allowed to do what the rest of us are rightly prohibited from doing –i.e. aggressing against persons and property – by maintaining the perverse theories of the divine rights of the majority, the enemies of human freedom have succeeded in normalizing the State and making it seem as if it is no different than a business or voluntary organization and that its interventions in everything are no more illegitimate than a man washing his car on Saturday.

In fact, it is even worse.  The State has not only been normalized, but it is believed by nearly the total population to be entirely above everyone and everything.  In past times, the State had to compete with other institutions such as the Church.  Its perceived superiority was more checked.  The State now faces almost no competition at all from any other institution.  It is the ultimate authority figure and enjoys the ability to compel nearly everyone to do anything.  The federal government has obtained an amount of power so great that it can physically molest and digitally strip search children openly in airports and has achieved a level of legitimacy where people not only tolerate it, but ridicule and denounce the minority who actively oppose the TSA.

Were it not for the calculated use of Orwellian euphemisms and doublespeak the State’s legitimacy would plummet and its regulations and rule would not be tolerated.  If the TSA was referred to by enough people as a criminal gang of pedophiles and perverts, there would be no TSA.  If the Internal Revenue Service was more appropriately called by enough people the Federal Theft and Robbery Administration, the days of income taxation in America would be over.  The ultimate reason that military conscription was eventually abandoned in America was because enough people came to call it out for what it is: slavery.
Remove the government’s euphemistic, official-sounding titles and it is quickly revealed to be no more than an illegitimate criminal gang that operates in a status of lawlessness and is the supreme violator of people’s natural rights with no moral justification at all for being allowed to continue its racket.

It is for this reason that the most effective, and easy, strategy for defeating statism is simply for people to vocally acknowledge that the emperor has no clothes.  It is time to do away with the government’s Orwellian terms and phrases and it is time to call ‘em like you see ‘em.  Don’t just call taxation theft; laugh uncontrollably at the very idea that the bureaucrats would actually expect you to think of taxation as anything other than blatant theft.  Laugh at the ridiculousness of the largest, most belligerent military empire in the history of the world being called the Depart of Defense.  Make a deliberate effort to train yourself to discard the State’s sterile, Orwellian words from your vocabulary and to constantly delegitimize the regime in your day-to-day conversations by calling ‘em like you see ‘em. 

Think of any government policy, edict, or act, then think of what it would be called if a private individual committed it, and then forever and at all times use that term when describing the government act.

Get creative.  Here’s a starter list:

Taxation is theft; it is the aggressive, coercive seizure of another’s property.  Therefore the word taxation should be replaced by the word theft in discussions about the State.  An exception would be when discussing theft committed by private individuals.  Replacing “That mugger stole my wallet!” with “That mugger taxed my wallet!” may have an even greater effect.   Slavery is also an appropriate synonym.  If the IRS takes a third of your paycheck that means you are working directly for the State for the first four months of the year; you’re working for nothing for four months.

War on Drugs
The war on drugs should now be referred to as the war on the natural right of people to peacefully and nonviolently consume whatever substances they want on their own time, with their own money, and with their own body.  A shorter version can simply be the war on the fundamental right of people to own their own bodies or the war on individual liberty.

Gun Control
“Gun control” should be replaced with coercive citizen disarmament, followed by a brief explanation of why governments disarm their subjects in order to make them easier to tax and control and how some famous examples of countries where only the government has guns are Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Maoist China, etc.

Eminent Domain
 Is theft.

Federal Reserve Purchases of Government Securities
Printing money.  Counterfeiting.  Inflating.   Diluting the currency.  Punishing savers and the frugal.  Raising the social time preference. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Myth of National Defense: A Review

The Myth of National Defense: A Review
December 15, 2010
by Austin White

The Myth of National Defense: Essays on the Theory and History of Security Production, edited by Hans-Hermann Hoppe and dedicated to Gustave de Molinari, the first known anarchocapitalist, provides one of the most compelling cases ever published on the incapability of the state to provide adequate security.  Although other libertarian and economic books have featured a chapter or two on the subject, as well as a handful of wonderful essays, Hoppe is the first to present such a large, scholarly elaboration on the subject of privately produced defense.  The work is composed of eleven hefty papers by authors Luigi Marco Bassani, Carlo Lottieri, Murray Rothbard, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Bertrand Lemennicier, Gerard Radnitzky, Joseph Stromberg, Larry Sechrest, Jeffrey Hummel, Walter Block, Hoppe, and Jörg Guido Hülsmann.
The Myth of National Defense shines uncompromising light on the failures of governmental protection and the intolerable conduct of inter-state wars and then provides historical examples of private alternatives to state defense and extensive explanations on how entrepreneurs could, would, and should produce all security in the future.  Hobbes was wrong.
Hoppe starts the introduction to the book off quoting Thomas Jefferson from the American Declaration of Independence, which states that the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect people’s liberties and when a government’s means begin to contradict this purpose, when a government begins to violate people’s natural rights instead of protecting natural rights, when a government fails in performing its only legitimate function, it is a people’s right, their duty, to dissolve or secede from that government and “provide new guards for their future security.”
The state is then taken to task for its complete failure to provide security and property protection and makes the case that not only has the state failed to provide adequate protection, but it is the biggest threat to our liberty and security.  The state in general is the biggest hazard to mankind presently and it is indeed time to throw off the state and begin to think about alternative, market-supplied, guards of our liberties.
We are less safe and there is more harm with a state than without.  No fact illustrates this case more than the conservative estimates that the governments of the 20th century murdered 100,000,000-200,000,000 of their own people –not including wars.  The sum of all violent crimes committed by private individuals in last century is a mere fraction of the ruin the state wrought.
The largest state in the history of the world – with its nearly 1000 foreign military bases; vast global networks of spies and intelligence gatherers; air defense systems; the largest air force and navy in the history of the world; and defense budgets larger than the rest of the worlds countries’ defense budgets combined – was powerless in protecting its own defense headquarters on 9/11 from fanatics armed with only box cutters.  Not only was the American state incapable of protecting itself, but its own military actions (sanctions, bombings, occupations in the Middle East) of previous decades are what contributed to the attack.  To add insult to injury, the American state responded to the attacks with more of the same foreign interventions that contributed to the 9/11 attacks – increasing the likelihood of future similar offenses.
Domestically, the American state reacted by dramatically increasing spending on its failed defense and security methods.  New bureaucracies were established.  Security services formerly provided by the market were nationalized and bureaucratized.  The state granted itself gargantuan amounts of new surveillance, torture, and police powers – further violating the liberties it is supposed to be protecting.
Unlike in the market where the failures of a supplier result in losses or bankruptcy, the state wins when it fails.  The state even has an incentive to fail.  Government failures lead to budget increases.  “If the Department of X only had more funding catastrophe Y would surely not have happened.”
Not one bureaucrat was ever fired over the defense failures on 9/11 and nines years after the attack the elderly, sick, and resourceless Osama bin Laden has still not been captured.
It is almost universally accepted by political economists that monopolies, where there is a single supplier of a good or service and no other suppliers are permitted to compete, are bad for consumers.  The monopolist has no incentive to supply a high quality product and can charge whatever price the monopolist desires – only being limited by the eventual inability of buyers to afford the product.  Even worse is a situation where the monopolist also has the power to force people to purchase services. 
Hoppe rightly condemns this as a racket and this is precisely the scenario we are living in now: we are subjected to the will of what Hoppe calls the territorial monopolist of compulsion and ultimate decision-making that enjoys the power to unilaterally decide what protection services we must buy, the quantity, and the price – combined with the related power to tax.  It faces no negative financial consequences for not pleasing consumers.  The state doesn’t get fired when it fails – it uses its failures as a justification to further expropriate the fruits of the citizens’ labor.  If people refuse to pay for the services, that they never signed a contract agreeing to pay for, they are imprisoned.  Government is inherently incapable of being a property protector because its process for doing so starts with the theft of people’s property.
Governments are motivated, like everyone else, by self-interest and the disutility of labor and will always seek to maximize protection expenditures (through taxation) while simultaneously minimizing the production of protection.
Government monopolies produce lower quality products at higher prices.  The competitive, voluntary market produces higher quality goods at lower prices.  This book forever deflates the myth that security is an exception and, as the authors show, it does not matter what type of government, whether democratic or totalitarian, is producing the defense.
All of the tools we use to protect ourselves emerged from the market: locks, alarm systems, guns, guard dogs, surveillance systems, and the gated community – the gated community with its private security guards is all you need to think about to realize that many people already implicitly know that the government is not a sufficient protector. 
A private defense firm, because the owners would personally bear its costs, would have a much greater incentive to avoid unnecessary conflicts, to end conflicts as fast as possible, and to keep conflicts as contained and small as possible.  It would not be in a private institution’s interest to maintain a global empire of expensive bases or engage in actions that would provoke future blowback.  A private firm, unlike the government, would have an incentive to encourage its customers to arm themselves and to live in areas that are less vulnerable to foreign attack.  A private firm would have a much greater incentive to not fail or else it would lose customers to a competitor.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Problem with Supporting the Troops

December 3, 2010

By Austin White

This is what I eventually hear whenever I’m involved in a discussion over foreign policy and the wars: "Hey, hey, hey!  Don’t blame the troops!  It’s the politicians!  Support the troops, NOT the war.”
Don’t blame the troops?  Don’t call out the people who voluntarily joined the military knowing that they would likely be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan to engage in unconstitutional, immoral occupations?
As bad as Bush, Cheney, and Obama are - the fact is that none of them ever dropped a single bomb or have fired a single shot. It’s the soldiers willing to unconditionally follow each and every order doing all that. The only thing that makes these wars possible is the troops’ willingness to wage them.
Why do the troops follow the orders?  Because they don’t get called out on the fact that they are the perpetrators of the wars.  Blame is always placed on Congress and the president, even though all those goons do is sign pieces of paper and give speeches.
They follow the orders because society has elevated them to the sacred cow status known as “the troops” and are completely immune from criticism – even from opponents of the wars.  
Soldiers come back home on break and they see the yellow ribbons and “SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!” bumper stickers.  They get discounts when they go to restaurants and movies.  Strangers walk up to them on the street, shake their hands, and thank them for their services.
The thought that they are involved in something shameful never crosses the soldiers’ minds.  How could their participation in the wars be bad?  Even the people who are against the wars support the troops.   Even when soldiers are caught indiscriminately killing civilians or killing civilians for sport and taking the bones as trophies, most of the public  give the troops the benefit of the doubt.
And so they continue to unconditionally follow each and every command, young men continue to walk into recruiting offices, and the wars keep going.
What if, instead of walking up to soldiers, shaking their hands, and thanking them, people walked away from soldiers, shook their heads in disapproval, and scolded soldiers for participating in the wars.
The wars would end.
I don’t hate the troops.  I don’t want any more to die.  I don’t want any more troops to have to live the rest of their lives with painful memories and guilt.  I don’t want any more troops driven to suicide -especially when it comes to my friends who are in the military.
But I can’t support them as they unjustly invade, occupy, and bomb for Leviathan.   I can’t support the people who are the reason that the wars continue.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Open Letter to Conservative and Libertarian Protectionists

By Austin White
This essay is basically just my raw notes and arguments that I used in a formal debate over protectionism in November 2010.  
For far too long, support for protectionism has been present in the liberty movement.  I have noticed a large amount of the conservatives and libertarians demanding smaller government simultaneously demand bigger government when it comes to free trade.  This essay is meant to show the reader why this must stop.
One of the most basic pillars of capitalism is that market competition is good.  Competition and a large division of labor are what we owe our prosperity to.  Competition puts pressure on suppliers to reduce their production costs and to figure out the most efficient methods of producing, leading to lower prices for all of us.  It puts pressure on entrepreneurs to be the best stewards of capital that they can possibly be.  It puts pressure on businesses to serve consumers to the best of their abilities.  And the greater the amount of competition there is in the market, the greater these wonderful effects are.
Any good capitalist wants to see the maximization of these effects by allowing as much competition as possible to take place, by allowing commerce to flourish without restriction.  Restricting trade reduces these effects and results in increasing prices and decreasing quality of goods.
It’s a pretty simply concept.  The best man for the job gets the job.  If you don’t get the job then you need to keep improving yourself.  Don’t cry to the government, the paternal nanny-state, and demand some bureaucrat intervene and bludgeon your competitors.  Acquire new job skills, offer your goods and services for a lower price, and if that doesn’t work just accept that you’re not the best man for that job and that you need to find one where you have a comparative advantage.
Protectionism, through tariffs, import quotas, and other trade restrictions, is a form of wealth redistribution.  You have the businesses and labor unions lobbying the government to artificially increase their businesses’ and employer’s abilities to survive at the expense of other people - all consumers.

Some lobby the government to restrict the rights and abilities of people to engage in free commerce for the sake of what they fallaciously consider the “greater good of the Nation” – which is just a more attractive way of saying “for the good of the collective.”
By embracing protectionism even a little bit, a person is revealing that they, in fact, don’t think capitalism is good.  They are saying that only a certain, arbitrary amount of capitalism is acceptable.  The proponents of tariffs are not only revealing their doubts about capitalism, but are demonstrating their approval of opposite ideologies and economic systems, namely socialism and mercantilism.
By demanding mercantilist tariffs, the protectionist is not only saying free commerce is bad, but that government interference is good.  That government interventionism and central economic planning are the answer.  The genuine, honest protectionist believes that the market, if left alone, is a destroyer of prosperity and that only the regulatory state can bring us more wealth.
Economic nationalism is contrary to liberty.  It is based on the ancient statist idea that it is okay for the government to restrict the natural rights some people for the benefit of others.  The right being violated under protectionism is the right of people to freely buy goods from whoever they want and to employ whoever they want; it tramples on the freedom of contract as well as the freedom of association.
It’s no surprise that some of the biggest opponents of free trade are outright leftists and socialists like Ralph Nader, Michael Moore, and trade union leaders.  If you go to the Socialist Party USA website, the very top plank of their economic platform is cracking down on free trade; as well as the Communist Party USA. 
In The Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels denounced what they considered the unconscionable freedom of trade.
When the socialist Fabian Society in Britain began gaining power and influence in the late 19th century ,their very first target was free trade.
One of the first developers of German National Socialism, Friedrich List, is known almost completely for his, now debunked, theories supporting protectionism.
During Obama’s first year in office he slammed a 35% tariff on Chinese tires – which immediately stirred up the global market with China and several other countries threatening to implement tariffs on American exports in retaliation.  Luckily, the tariff has been seen for the failure that it is and Obama has decided to start reducing it.
Protectionism, in its most extreme form, is autarky – where a country completely cuts itself off from the international division of labor with the goal of becoming self-sufficient.  A famous historical example of a country striving for autarky is Nazi Germany.  A current example would be North Korea – who, according to the Heritage Foundation’s annual ranking of the world’s economies, has the least capitalistic economy in the entire world and whose GDP is literally a fraction of a percent of America’s.
If it is true that protectionism and the restriction of trade would bring America more prosperity, then wouldn’t it follow that autarky – the complete cessation of trading with other countries – will bring us even greater prosperity.  
If restricting trade between countries is a good idea, why not stop trade between the fifty United States?  Why not end trade between the counties within the states?  Why not end trade between the cities within the counties?  After all, according to a consistent protectionist, if Orlando imports goods from Tampa that means Tampa is “stealing” jobs from Orlando.  Why not restrict trade between city blocks?   Why not between individuals?  If I “outsource” the job of cutting my hair to a barber that means I just lost a hair cutting job.  That barber took my job
Though most protectionists probably oppose total autarky, they are inconsistent when they do so because all the arguments for restricting trade at all are the same arguments used in support of autarky.
Likewise, most protectionists would also probably agree that it would be bad if Orlando citizens were prohibited from importing goods from Tampa, but if it isn’t a good idea at the city level why is it a good idea at any level?
I am convinced that the core reason for the persistence of economic nationalism is people’s lack of faith in liberty, capitalism, and the miracles of spontaneous order, combined with a simultaneous and dangerous faith in bureaucracy and government.
All human beings are born with the natural right to buy goods from whoever they want and from wherever they want.  If your money is truly your private property, then you have the right to spend it however you wish.  Saying that a person doesn’t have the right to purchase foreign goods or doesn’t have the right to purchase foreign goods without paying the tariff is to say that a person’s money is not in fact their private property.
The state has no right at all to wedge itself in between peaceful transactions.  It has no right to impose penalizing tariffs or quotas.  Nor does it have the right to steal money from people and then use that money to subsidize exports. 
Tariffs are taxes and if you’re pro-tariff, you’re pro-tax. 
If we truly want to rollback leviathan we would be wise to not beg for additional taxes.  I don’t see how giving the government yet another source of revenue will do anything to bring us smaller government. 
The aim of all libertarians should be to abolish as many of the government’s revenue sources as possible; as quickly as possible.  We should be just as opposed to tariffs as we are to income and property taxes. 


The key reason why people seem to oppose free trade is a lack of understanding of comparative advantage and opportunity cost.
Having a comparative advantage means that compared to someone else you can produce a good or service at a much lower cost than someone else.
Consider this example (which I have completely ripped off of Walter Block):
Costa Rica has a comparative advantage in the production of bananas.  Compared to the rest of the world, Costa Rica can produce a lot more bananas at a much lower cost. 
Canada on the other hand, has a comparative advantage in the production of maple syrup.  In Canada, they probably have entire lakes and rivers of maple syrup.  It’s everywhere.  Canadians probably have to get maple syrup insurance in case a flood of maple syrup destroys their homes.
Ok, so imagine if Costa Rica decides, in an effort to become more self-sufficient, to start producing maple syrup.  The Costa Rican government spends an enormous amount of tax dollars subsidizing the construction of giant, 200-ft tall refrigerators that maple trees can be grown inside of. 
Now imagine at the same time, Canada, in an effort to become more self-sufficient, decides to start producing bananas.  The Canadians vote to blow billions of tax dollars subsidizing the building of giant greenhouses that banana trees can be grown in.
Now are these good ideas or bad ideas?
They’re terrible ideas.  Both countries will be poorer and overall productivity will decrease.
In Costa Rica, the amount of resources that will have to be diverted from banana production just to make a modicum of the amount of maple syrup Canada makes will be enormous.  Just to produce a gallon of maple syrup, Costa Rica might have to forgo the production of hundreds if not thousands of bananas.
In Canada, they might end up forgoing the production of ten gallons of maple syrup just to produce a single banana.
There is no way Costa Rican maple syrup producers will be able to compete with Canadian producers and they will be quick to demand tariffs.  The Costa Rican maple syrup producers will cry out about how if they don’t get their tariff they’ll go out of business and all of their employees will lose their jobs and lose their income and they won’t be able to buy other Costa Rican goods and services and it will be a drain on the entire economy.
The same will happen in Canada.  The Canadian banana industry will demand the banning of all Costa Rican bananas and if that doesn’t happen then the Canadian banana farmers will go bust and lose their jobs to those dirty rotten Costa Ricans.
So what should Canada and Costa Rica do in this scenario?  They should let the market determine what each country has a comparative advantage in and let go the industries that they don’t have a comparative advantage in.  Canada should realize that their banana industry isn’t worth propping up with tariffs, Costa Rica should do the same with maple syrup, and the market should be left alone so that entrepreneurs in both countries direct resources to their most valued uses instead of being wasted on producing goods that they suck at producing.  If they do this and then agree to let the citizens of both countries freely trade with one another overall productivity will increase and both countries will be richer.  It’s a positive-sum game.  Everyone wins.  Costa Rica gets cheap maple syrup from Canada and Canada get cheap bananas from Costa Rica.

Myth:  Free trade destroys jobs!
The following examples are totally ripped off of Jack Chambless and Walter Block
When Sony makes a TV in Japan and then exports it to America, the American dock worker who carries the imported TV off the boat gets paid.  The truck driver who delivers the TV from the dock to Best Buy gets paid.  The sales clerk at Best Buy who sells the TV gets paid.  The repairman who fixes the TV a few years later gets paid.  And when the TV finally breaks, the garbage man who hauls it off to the dump gets paid.  Millions of jobs are supported in America because of the importing of foreign goods. 
If the government all of sudden put a big a tariff on foreign TVs, yeah it would increase the likelihood of a domestic TV industry emerging that might create some jobs, but only after the tariff destroys other American jobs and causes an inefficient redirection of capital and labor.
Think about this scenario:  You have an American TV company who sells TVs for $500, but the Japanese are so efficient that they can sell the same quality TV for only $100.  What will happen if we have free trade?  The American TV maker goes out of business.  But since American consumers can now buy TVs for only $100, they’ll have $400 left over to spend on other goods, at least some, probably most, of them American goods – which will stimulate demand and create employment elsewhere in the economy.  We used to spend $500 and only got one TV.  Now we get a TV for $100 and have another $400.
And what will the Japanese do with the $100 they get with from every TV sale?  Well those U.S. dollars won’t do them much good in Japan, so eventually Japan will have to spend them on American goods – stimulating more demand for American goods and creating more employment- or invest the dollars in America, providing more capital and putting downward pressure on interest rates for the benefit of American job-creating entrepreneurs - or trade those dollars with other countries who will do these things. 
So, the benefit of protectionism that a small minority of inefficient jobs are temporarily preserved, but the cost is many, many more efficient jobs are sacrificed or never come into existence at all and valuable capital and resources will continue to be locked into inefficient enterprises, only surviving due to tariffs, and not available to more efficient producers.
As a side note, Asian producers aren’t the ones putting American firms out of business – it’s the American people.  The American people are the ones deciding with their dollars that they prefer the Asian products over American products.
For a much longer debunking of common protectionist myths see Tom DiLorenzo.
Also see Hazlitt, Block, and Rothbard.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff
One reason there has been an increase in support for protectionism recently is the recession. Unemployment is high and we’re importing from foreign countries and the protectionists come to the conclusion that it is this importing that is causing higher unemployment.  The politicians love this and enjoy reinforcing this theory because it shifts blame away from the government, who is responsible for the severity and prolonging of the recession, and onto foreigners.  The final resort of government – BLAME FOREIGNERS!
The protectionists believe that if we impose and raise tariffs on foreign goods our economy will strengthen and employment will improve.
Well, this theory has been put into action before and every time the results are disastrous.  The best example of this would be the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.
In 1930, President Hoover signed into law the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.  Before he did so, over a thousand economists signed a protest letter urging him not to.  Hoover did this because he thought it would help America out during the depression and strengthen the economy – exactly what the protectionists today are saying we should do.
This law increased tariff rates on over 800 different goods.  The average tariff rate sky rocketed to 59%, the highest tariff rate in the American history at that point.  Just imagine what that must have done to the standard of living in America to have an average tariff rate of nearly 60% imposed on 800 separate items.
Immediately trade wars broke out and twelve countries retaliated.  Spain basically banned the importing of American automobiles.  Switzerland completely boycotted all American exports.  Canada raised tariffs on 125 American exports.  Within three years the seventy-five most active trading countries experienced an 83% reduction in trade-a complete meltdown in world commerce.  The United States suffered most with exports declining by 53% by 1932.  The depression got worse.
(Also see Rothbard on the tariff here)
Free Trade Deters War
Free trade is the road to peace.  Countries that trade with other countries, plug themselves into the international division of labor, depend on other countries, and have other countries depend on them are less likely to fight with each other.  It would be economically ruinous for them to do so.  Even the country that “wins” would be devastated.  I don’t get in fights with my boss and he doesn’t get in fights with me because then I lose a job and he loses an employee.  It is in both of our interests to get along, even if we hate each other.
So not only would free trade make us more prosperous, but if we had more of it, it would further deter these multi-trillion dollar wars and greatly reduce the amount of taxes we have to pay.  I’ll take a trillion dollar tax-cut, free trade, less war, and less foreigners being murdered; the protectionists can have their tariffs, keep paying income taxes to fund never ending wars, and keep burying the troops.
For much better elaborations on the relationship between capitalism and peace, see Mises (here and here) and Bastiat.

An Examination of Gary Johnson

By Austin White
Written sometime in mid November
Because it is highly likely that former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson will be running for the presidency soon I feel it necessary to provide libertarians with an in-depth examination of where Johnson stands on key libertarian issues.  Johnson recently visited the Orange County, FL Campaign for Liberty group, where I taped his speech and the following Q&A session.  I also had a chance to speak with him when he came to the Orlando Nullify Now! conference.   He is very nice, humble, and appears to have successfully retained his full humanity after leaving political office. 
One thing, as of yet, that has the libertarian movement curious is whether or not these plans will be altered should Ron Paul decide to run again.  Johnson stated in a September interview with Alex Jones that if Ron Paul asked him to be his VP, should Paul run against the presidency again, Johnson would accept.  Johnson stated during his recent visit with the Campaign for Liberty group that if could not run in 2012 he would endorse Ron Paul.  Johnson was also a speaker at Rally for the Republic (back when CFL events were only cool; not like now where they are super cool).
Although I have recently, thanks to Hoppe, accepted the fact that no good will ever come from the political process , have finally kicked my voting habit, and I now consider advocacy of massive, decentralized secession to be a moderate view, I can’t deny that I am a little excited about Gary Johnson.  If Ron Paul does not run, I consider Johnson to be the best substitute at the moment.  He is certainly more radical than Rand Paul, Bob Barr, War Allen Root, and any “tea party” candidate I’ve seen.  He has even criticized the newly elected tea party candidates for only “nibbling around the edges” of the federal government.
Foreign Policy: D-
Johnson advocates an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan and was against invading Iraq from the start.  He acknowledges that we can’t afford the empire and believes it is not the proper role of the U.S. government to be the world’s sheriff.  He opposes foreign aid, but does support (entangling?) military alliances.  Johnson sticks to the utilitarian America First! arguments that our foreign policy is costly and bad for America, shying away from the moral argument, the most important argument, that killing innocent people is wrong and killing a lot of innocent people is really wrong.  I can let that slide though.  Surely the moral argument is politically unfeasible or something like that.  The approval of military alliances brought him from a grade of A to a B.
Where does the D- come from? 
Although Johnson rejects the idea of American exceptionalism and that “we” should police the world, he simultaneously and explicitly rejects the idea of non-interventionism, supports “surgical” preemptive strikes, and does still believe that America should go abroad in search of atrocities to end.  Johnson makes clear that he is an interventionist, but that he would be a much smarter interventionist.
Some may say that I am being far too critical, but once military interventionism and preemptive strikes are accepted even a little bit the flood gates are open and anything goes.  The proper role of the U.S. military, if we are to have one, is to defend the property of Americans and that is it; to repel actual threats that constitute blatant acts of aggression on the U.S.  If the military leaves U.S. soil it can no longer be called defensive.
Johnson believe that what “we” should have done with Iraq was use “our” surveillance capabilities to monitor Iraq and if/when Saddam rolled out the WMDs “we” should have simply done a quick surgical strike and stopped it right there.  While that is certainly preferable to invasion/occupation, interventionist it is.  Does the U.S. government have the right to forcefully disarm other sovereign countries that have not attacked America?  I say no.  Especially considering the fact that the U.S. president has the capability to nuke the entire world ten times over and the U.S. government is the only government in the history of the world to use WMDs against innocent people. 
A friend of mine asked Johnson, see this video, why he rejects non-interventionism.  Johnson’s reply was that he believes the U.S. military should be the brave kid on the playground who defends the weak from the big bully.  He says that the U.S. should not sit idly by as genocide occurs somewhere in the world.  So when push comes to shove Johnson seems to favor the foreign policy of Bush and Obama– it just has to be carried out by someone smarter.
The problems with this argument are that the U.S. government: starts more wars than it prevents; it kills more people than it saves; it is the metaphorical bully Johnson speaks of; it caused more harm in the previous century than any other regime in the history of the world; and whenever the worst genocides occur the U.S. government has a track record of doing absolutely nothing, but expecting us to keep supporting future wars with the excuse that “we” are ending atrocities.
What Johnson should say is: the proper role of “our” military is to defend America.  Period.  If you want to go help some country across the ocean throw off an oppressive leader, then you personally do something about it and leave tax dollars out of it.
The notion that military interventionism is good as long as it is done “smart” is best summed up by Jim Powell: “…nobody seemed to consider that an interventionist foreign policy is more complicated to mange.  One never knows how different people might react to interventions, so there are more likely to be unintended consequences.  Such a policy requires people with considerable knowledge and the ability to anticipate developments and make sound judgments.  Nobody has figured out a way to assure that an interventionist foreign policy will ever be managed by such people.”
Of course, all proponents of military interventionism must arrogantly believe that they are one of those people or else they wouldn’t be advocating such a foreign policy.

The Fed: C+
During the Q&A portion of his visit with Orange County CFL, he was asked multiple times about what he would do about the Fed.
Johnson will talk about the Fed.  He opposes it.  He opposes what it is doing.  He supports an audit.  He says he would sign a bill abolishing the Fed.  He speaks favorably on the idea of having competing currencies.  A+ so far…
…but, he says it will never happen or won’t happen anytime soon so it is basically a non-issue.
His campaign brochures state that he wants to reign in the Fed, but when asked about his strategy to accomplish this he gave the very unsatisfying answer that the Fed simply needs to stop printing so much money.  No kidding.
Gary, if you want to have any clout with the rising Rothbardian libertarian movement you need to look deep within yourself and find your END THE FED! attitude.   This will raise your grade from a C to an A.

 The War on Drugs: D+
Also known as the war on self-ownership and the war on the natural right of individuals to do whatever peaceful, non-violent act they want.
Johnson is surely taking a position on the drug war that may leave many conservatives shocked and Johnson’s position on drug legalization is more radical than the overwhelming majority of politicians.  However, I can only give him a D because he doesn’t actually want to legalize any drugs.  The furthest he is willing to go is decriminalizing marijuana (along with the whole “we can tax and regulate!” pitch).  He clearly states in his campaign literature that he does not advocate the legalization of harder drugs.  On marijuana, he simply wants the substance treated like alcohol – which means that individuals can only purchase it if they agree to pay some tax, individuals can’t consume it before driving, individuals can’t consume it until they’ve reached some arbitrary, government-established age limit, etc.
It is a big misconception in America that alcohol is legal.  It is legal for some people, in some places, at some times, and only if you agree to pay the taxes on it.  At the most, alcohol is kind of legal in America.
In spite of the fact that Johnson acknowledges that the majority of drug problems are caused by prohibition, he believes only a slow, gradual legalization of drugs is the answer – because of political feasibility or something like that.
See Laurence Vance on the moral case for drug freedom.

Education: A+
Johnson advocates a complete abolition of the Department of Education.  He doesn’t want to reform or downsize it.  He wants it gone and then the battle against government schools will be brought down to the state level.
Although as governor, Johnson was a proponent of vouchers –he agrees with the end goal of education being entirely left to the market.

Healthcare: A+
Johnson opposes both the Republican and Democratic parties’ interventions in the healthcare market.  He seems to favor abolishing the majority, if not all, barriers to entry in the healthcare market.  He wants the market unrestricted to allow for as much competition and specialization as possible.  He favors the pre-WWII pay-as-go system (or lack of system) that the majority of people don’t even know once existed.
In short, his answer to fix healthcare is to get government out of it and simply let the forces of the market do their thing.
Johnson says get rid of the monstrosity and let the airlines handle security.

Immigration: N/A
Johnson takes a moderate view saying that he approves of work visas and making them easier to acquire.  His solution to the problem of immigrants feeding off of the welfare-state is to get rid of the welfare-state (whether or not he would do that first he does not say).  He also points out that welfare-parasitism among Americans is as bad as or worse than among illegal immigrants. 
 I don’t believe libertarians have settled the issue (see here and here).  It would have been an A+ if Johnson had said that all property should be privatized/denationalized, which both libertarian sides of the debate can probably agree on, but I don’t think he said anything on the issue that I can fervently disagree with.

Abortion: N/A
Once again I believe this to be an unsettled debate (see Vance and Block), therefore I can’t comment on whether or not Johnson’s approach is libertarian or not.
He says the federal government should have no say on the matter and that it should be a state issue; the same stance Ron Paul took.  If you can’t decide on the issue I say localize and decentralize it.
That is my anarcho-libertarian two cents are your platform, Gary.  You’re certainly on the right track and the only plank that I can fundamentally criticize is your support of military interventionism.  99% of other politicians would most likely get straight F's.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Do Gays Have the Right to Join the Military?

Written October 23, 2010 

By Austin White

Most on the left, and even some libertarians, portray the movement to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as freedom fighters trying to end a gross injustice.  It is astounding how many people who consider themselves anti-war and pro-peace can be turned into militarist warmongers when the topic of gays in the military comes up.  “Dammit!  My Aunt Richard has as much of right to bomb Muslims as straight soldiers do!  Live free or die!”

If only Bill Hicks were still alive to set these people straight.

Gays who are lobbying to lift the ban on homosexuals in the military are really just trying to obtain for their collective group special privileges from Leviathan to bomb, invade, and occupy other countries while getting a sweet tax-funded salary and college education. They are not lobbying for the right to defend Americans’ freedoms.  The military doesn’t do that anymore.  Smedley Butler blew the whistle on this fact seventy-five years ago.  The military doesn’t defend our freedoms; it suppresses the freedoms and undermines the sovereignty of other peoples in other countries.   Our offense apparatus doesn’t defend and uphold the Constitution; just about everything it now does is in violation of it.

 Gay individuals fighting to join the military really just want to get in on some of this empire maintenance the central state has going on.   They want the magical uniforms, medals, and cool combinations of letters next to their name that elevate them above the rest of society.  They want to be part of that sacred cow known as “the troops” that no one is allowed to criticize.  They want to get the pro-troop discounts when they go out to eat.

 And don’t forget the free stuff.  The military is a shining bastion of welfare-statism.   Soldiers are provided with everything and all at the expense of other, more productive, people who have been the victims of extortion by government.  It’s a socialist paradise where the paternal state provides troops with food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare, and a salary to top it all off.  Gays fighting for the privilege to join the military are not only fighting for the right to warmonger, but they’re also your common welfare parasite, like any government employee, trying to get a chunk of the plunder while the getting’s good.

 Why the pro-war right is vehemently against repealing DADT is a great mystery.  Here we have people who want to join in the empire building so much that they are willing to protest for the privilege to do so when the warfare-state tells them they can’t join.  The pro-war, pro-empire, nationalist, American-exceptionalist gays seem to be just what the warfare-state needs.

 Libertarians would do more for the future of liberty, peace, and prosperity if they dropped the Goldwater quotes about only needing to be able to shoot straight, abandoned any missions to repeal DADT, and instead adopted the message “Don’t join.  Don’t join.  Nobody join the military.”

Gays do not have the right to join the military.  Neither does anyone else.  Soldiers, like all government employees, are the recipients of stolen money.  Taxpayer A never signed a contract agreeing to give the government X amount of his paycheck so the government can distribute the amount among soldiers B, C, and D in return for defense service Y that will probably increase taxpayer A’s chance of being a blowback victim.

To all openly gay people demanding to be allowed in the military, and to all straights considering enlistment: join a militia if you’re really concerned about defending your loved ones’ liberties.  Don’t join the central government; the institution most responsible for the suppression of liberty. 

Postponing Adulthood

Originally published 11/27/2010 in the Saturday edition of the Orlando Sentinel 
By Austin White

On September 23, 2010, one of the first phases of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also dysphemistically known as Obamacare, was implemented.  Now that I am entering my twenties, I have taken much interest in section 2714 of the legislation that requires the healthcare providers of parents to extend coverage to their children until they reach the age of twenty-six; regardless of dependency; regardless of student status.
Many would say that I should be happy about this.  I can get free healthcare for the next six years.  I don’t even have to be going to school.  I can even enjoy these benefits long after I’ve moved out.  Or as the president says, I can put total focus on my career and future; no longer having to worry about the setbacks of a costly injury; no longer having to worry about going broke due to high monthly premiums.
But at what cost?  In order for insurance companies to afford this, the price of healthcare for others will have to be increased.  This increase in premiums can be concealed to an extent.  People who have employer-provided health insurance will experience slower wage increases; some may experience pay cuts.  Business owners may try to cover these increased costs by reducing the expenses of other production costs. In other words, they may be forced to cut corners and dilute the quality of their goods and services. 
Someone will have to eat these costs, no one will want to, and the costs will be shifted onto the least expecting.  At this point, ten different people will give ten different answers for who is to blame.
The government is trying to improve my life; I get it.  However, it is being done at the expense of others.  I feel like apologizing to every person I encounter today.  In one way or another, everyone will eat these costs.
Will my life really be improved by this?  In the short-term, maybe.  As for the long-term, the president, however well-meaning, is taking away my incentives to be a productive, mature person.  He is postponing my adulthood.  Under section 2714, I will still be considered a child for the next six years.  The moral hazard will be unavoidable, no matter how aware I am of it, and my behavior will be altered. The existence of this policy and knowing that I can continue mooching off of my parents’ healthcare will make me less likely to stay in school and it will reduce my incentive to provide for myself.  To what degrees I don’t know, but I do know my adulthood is being postponed and that I will remain a child longer than I would have without section 2714. 
My concerns swell when I read that some 2.4 million people around my age will also be affected by section 2714.  What will this mean for America’s future if the members of my generation will be more likely to drop out of college, knowing that they can still get free healthcare?  What will the future look like if the members of my generation, up into their late twenties, have a reduced incentive to provide for themselves and an increased incentive to be dependent on their parents and a paternal government?
In a period where America is continually losing its comparative advantages in the world market, in a period where much of the world seems to be pursuing the American dream as America abandons it, should we really be removing young people of the motivations to be responsible and prosperous?

Fire and Jail Officer Travis Lamont

This article was originally publsihed October 20, 2010 at

Daley in hospital
On the night of  September 18th, 2010, the Orlando Police Department received numerous 911 calls from  witnesses appalled  that they had just watched Orlando police officer Travis Lamont slam a frail, elderly man onto the pavement head-first and so hard that Daniel Daley’s neck was broken.

The injuries were so severe that Daley required immediate surgery.  Doctors told Greg Daley, son, that this injury kills nine of ten people upon impact.

For over a month now, Daniel Daley has been lying in a hospital bed in and out of medically induced comas and receiving additional surgeries.

This all started when Daley’s car was being towed outside of a downtown bar.  There was a dispute over it and was the reason for the presence of Lamont.

The towing dispute was resolved and ended with Daley and Lamont making friendly conversation.

According to Orlando police chief Val Demings and Sgt. Barbara Jones, who were not there, Daley was uncontrollably violent, was attempting to strangle and punch Lamont, and putting Lamont’s life in serious jeopardy.

It is at this point that brave Travis Lamont heroically performed an “armbar” technique to slam the 84 year-old on the pavement head-first.  Had Lamont not taken this action Daley surely would have killed him right there.

However, the only source for this seems to be Lamont himself.

According to the eyewitness accounts of bar owner Tim Scott, bartender Nicole Butler, and Sean Hill, Daley did no more than touch Lamont’s shoulder and was not acting violent at all.

He [Daley] touched the police officer. This young police officer flips him [Daley] through the air on his face,” one angry 911 caller stated.  “This is totally over the top.”  “I want to meet with the mayor after watching that.  That was incredible.  Totally excessive.”

Greg Daley says his father has never been arrested in his entire life.

OPD originally tried to charge Daley with felonious assault of a police officer, but soon dropped the ridiculous charges.

After waiting a month for public outrage to die down, the Orlando police department issued a report clearing Lamont of any wrong doing.  Police chief Demings says he acted appropriately and within department guidelines, even though she was not present at the incident.

The report does include statements from three witnesses, but makes no mention at all that two of them, Scott and Hill, are on record in news   interviews expressing their anger over  Lamont’s brutal take down and that they are on record saying Daley was acting calm and friendly.  The other witness listed, Faith Palermo, was the one who called the tow truck.  The report states that Palermo did not witness the take down, but she is on record in an Orlando Sentinel article expressing her disapproval of what happened that night.

The report also states that Lamont’s partner, Natasha Endrina, was sitting in the car during the entire ordeal between Lamont and Daley.  If Lamont was at such a great risk of being battered why wasn’t his partner helping him?

Six other senior officials signed the report approving of the take down and neck breaking of 84 year-old Daley.

OPD’s October 15th report has set a dangerous precedent and the relationship between police and Orlando residents has been altered dramatically.  OPD have now demonstrated that they will defend their officers no matter what.   They have shown that they will engage in     blatant deceit to protect their police from being punished.  They are allowing Travis Lamont to keep his badge and patrol your neighborhood.  A man who only a month ago, and for no good reason, broke the neck of a respected WWII veteran because the elderly man committed the heinous crime of touching the cop’s shoulder.

Call the OPD complaint desk at 321-235-5300 and demand that Lamont be fired and put behind bars immediately.  Police are not above the law.  They should be    subjected to the same punishments that any other citizen would receive.  The taxpayers are the employers and the police are the employees.  It is about time that law enforcers be reminded of this fact.  Imagine if Daniel Daley was your father or grandfather.