Politics

‘I Was Just Following Orders’

‘I Was Just Following Orders’

“I was just following orders” is the mantra of everyone who has found themselves on the wrong side of history – who is called into account for their actions as an order taker. How is it possible that everyone from corrupt mayors, to murderous tyrants have been able to get so many people to obey them and march in lockstep? When you take into account there are people who are willing to defend them, it’s easy to understand how these organs of the State are allowed to get away with everything from ticketing people for non-violent crimes, to the worst atrocities one could ever imagine. When you have cheerleaders, as athletes do, you are often looked at as a hero. Why else would other people be championing you and your profession? 

From the day they’re born, the overwhelming majority of people are raised in environments that teach them to obey “authority” and never question it.  

A perfect example is unquestioning nationalism. A quote on nationalism by Albert Einstein which he spoke before the rise of Hitler was, “nationalism is an infantile disease, it is the measles of mankind.” That makes sense especially when you consider that people who are unquestioning nationalists are generally taught it from a young age.  

Nationalism doesn’t have to be a negative. To the contrary, many people who identify as such can articulate the difference between having an affection for the people and the society into which they were born, or chose, and their radical distrust of the government they live under. But those who can’t (or won’t) separate the State from their neighbor, have been shown in history to be the ones who either become the order-follower, or blindly worship and make excuses for them. 

The much rarer trait is to see someone raised as a radical individualist. Homeschooling numbers from 1990- 2019 have grown from 275,000 to 2,300,000. Reasons for wanting to keep your children out of government schools can vary. Some of the earliest started out for religious reasons. Today, many people who call themselves libertarians/anarchist/voluntaryists do it because they don’t want their children to grow up in an environment which fosters and actively promotes obedience to the State apparatus.  

Law Enforcement Worship 

From a young age, many parents teach their kids that law enforcement are the good guys and if they ask you a question, you better answer and be respectful. You can be respectful and still understand the nature of the job of the police in this country. They are evidence gatherers. That is their main task since they rarely show up in time to stop a crime. They have rightfully been referred to as “historians.” If a statute has been broken, it is their job to figure out who did it and they do this by detaining or arresting people and asking them questions. 

Any lawyer worth their salt will tell you to never answer questions unless they, or another attorney is present, even if you know you are not guilty. In the must-read book, “You Have the Right to Remain Innocent,” James Duane details by citing case upon case how innocent people have talked their way into losing decades of their lives even though they didn’t commit the crime of which they were convicted. He explains how police can ask you 100 questions, and while you may have answered 98 of them correctly, even proving your innocence, the 2 that you answer in a wishy-washy way can be used to convict you while the other 98 (ones that prove your innocence) will be thrown away and declared inadmissible in court. 

This continues to be a blight on the criminal “justice” system and police officers are aware that this happens. Yet they continue to do their job as they always have with no regard for whether they are contributing to the jailing of an innocent person. They, and their defenders, will often blame it on the prosecutors. Yes, they will pass the buck so to speak. And what is their excuse? It’s just part of the job and we are “just following orders.” “We’re just doing our jobs!” 

Military Members are Beyond Reproach 

At this point in the “War on Terror” it’s impossible to argue that those fighting it are expected to be held up as heroes by the government and general public, even to the point of excusing the worst atrocities and war crimes imaginable. 

Recently, president Trump granted clemency to war criminal, special operations chief Eddie Gallagher. Gallagher, a Navy Seal and platoon leader, is described as, “a “toxic” character who was “OK with killing anything that moved”, according to fellow Iraq veterans who reported his conduct to military investigators.” “In the interviews, conducted by navy investigators looking into Gallagher’s conduct during a tour of duty in Iraq in 2017, fellow platoon members told of a ruthless leader who stabbed a captive to death for no reason then forced his troops to pose for a photograph with the corpse.”  

At his court martial Gallagher was acquitted of murder but lost rank because of the pictures posing with the dead body. “In a lengthy criminal investigation report, the navy detectives laid out other allegations against Gallagher, including shooting a schoolgirl and elderly man from a sniper’s roost. Members of Alpha Platoon’s Seal Team 7 alarmed by their leader’s conduct said they were initially shut down by military chiefs when they first spoke up, and told their own careers would suffer if they continued to talk about it” 

“The guy is freaking evil,” special operator first class Craig Miller, one of the platoon’s most experienced members, told investigators in sometimes tearful testimony. “I think Eddie was proud of it, and that was, like, part of it for him.” 

This is the man Trump gave clemency from any future charges to. And when he did, Gallagher’s defenders came out of the woodwork to defend him from anyone who dared make the claim that this man not only deserves to be locked up, but that his sanity should be called into question. Trump went so far as to hint that he would take Gallagher out on the campaign trail with him. 

Eddie Gallagher was the platoon leader, the one who gave the orders. But he also took them. Testimony shows that these military chiefs did everything they could to protect Gallagher. Even threatening those under his command if they spoke of this. It’s hard to judge from afar whether those men who posed with the dead body wanted to, or they were just following orders and feared retribution. When you see that Gallagher’s bosses actively sought to protect him, is it unreasonable to ask whether Gallagher was “just following orders” when he committed these atrocities? 

As was stated at the start, “order-followers” have found themselves on the wrong side of history when it comes to decency, not to mention liberty. Their defenders are vocal and can rarely be reasoned with. They see people in these positions as heroes and will make any excuse for actions that could be stood right next to the worst atrocities committed by Pol Pot. As we progress into a future where it is clear that the overwhelming majority of people intend to grow the size and scope of government, those who value individual liberty and justice may have to decide whether they will stick it out and attempt to change this culture, or look for alternate solutions lest they wake up in a State in which their every deed and word is under the purview of the unthinking automaton. 

Short-sighted state governments rack up $1 Trillion in liabilities

Short-sighted state governments rack up $1 Trillion in liabilities


As if the national debt and federal entitlement liabilities weren’t enough. Now we get word that state governments have racked up more than a trillion dollars in unfunded healthcare benefits for state government workers. That’s trillion – with a ‘T’.

In a report released earlier this month, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) revealed the total, adding “That’s an average of $3,107 of unfunded OPEB liabilities for every resident of the United States.” 

The financial liabilities, labeled “Other post-employment benefits,” or OPEB for short, calculate the present value of health insurance coverage benefits promised to state government employees when they retire.

Virtually every state government promises fully- or partially- paid health insurance coverage to their employees in retirement.  

More than 40 percent of the benefit plans, according to the ALEC report, operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, meaning there has been no money set aside. And the states that do set aside some funds to help pay for the benefits typically don’t set aside much. Indeed, the ALEC report notes “The average funding ratio for state OPEB plans is 9.4%.”

States with the highest OPEB liabilities per capita are Alaska at $18,500 followed by New Jersey at $14,500 and Hawaii at $12,200.

The liability totals disclosed in the ALEC report differ from the “official” figures produced by most state governments, however. This is because ALEC uses a more realistic discount rate to calculate the present value of the liabilities. State governments are notorious for using impractical discount rates in order to make liabilities look less daunting.

This latest trillion-dollar revelation of yet more irresponsible government promises turning into taxpayer-crushing liabilities illustrates a key point made by Hans-Hermann Hoppe in his 2001 book “Democracy: The God That Failed.”

Because a politician’s top priority is getting re-elected, they have a high time preference. That is, they place a high priority on spending now with little regard for future consequences, because several years down the road they will no longer be in office and the mounting debt and liabilities will become someone else’s problem.

Referring to elected officials in a democracy as “temporary caretakers” of government assets and finances, Hoppe wrote that such caretakers are “not held liable for debts incurred during his tenure of office. Rather, his debts are considered ‘public,’ to be repaid by future (equally nonreliable) governments.”

There is no incentive for elected politicians in a democracy to concern themselves with the long-term value of the government’s financial condition. “A democratic ruler can use the government apparatus to his personal advantage, but he does not own it,” wrote Hoppe. Because there is no ownership, politicians are incentivized to use the resources temporarily at their disposal for their own personal gain, which often results in long-term financial pain.

Which brings us back to the OPEB liabilities faced by state governments. For decades, state politicians have promised generous retirement benefits to state employees to curry favor (and donations) from state employees, and to access the deep pockets of state government unions.

Such retiree health benefits for state government employees are far more generous than the private sector, where owners need to be more conscious of long-term financial implications.

According to this recently-released report by the Manhattan Institute, the growing OPEB liabilities have “also revealed the extent of the gulf between the public and the private sectors. Larger private-sector firms began to offer retiree health-care coverage in the 1940s, but new accounting rules issued in the 1980s drove most firms to halt the practice.”

The report continues, “The portion of large and midsize firms offering retiree health benefits fell from 45% in 1988 to 24% in 2017. Smaller companies were less likely to offer such benefits. Today, only 15% of private-sector workers have access to employer-provided retiree health benefits. In contrast, 70% of state and local workers are eligible for employer-provided retiree health benefits.”

Naturally, politicians who are merely temporary caretakers of money taken from citizens by force will be quite willing to exchange generous benefits for better odds of winning re-election. 

Leftists accuse capitalists of being greedy and self-interested. But the latest revelation of another trillion-dollar government liability underscores the greed and self-interest of the political class. Short-sighted desire to win the next election and maintain power is the driving force behind mounting government debt and liabilities. Not some altruistic desire to take care of others.

A free society based on private property would not only be morally preferable but would enjoy a far better preservation and accumulation of wealth. Private ownership incentivizes the increase of asset values, while democratic government incentivizes elected officials to use up resources in the short-term for personal gain at the expense of impoverishing future generations through crushing debt.  

Bradley Thomas is creator of the website Erasethestate.com and is a libertarian activist who enjoys researching and writing on the freedom philosophy and Austrian economics.

Follow him on twitter: Bradley Thomas @erasestate

The Establishment Feels the Bern

The Establishment Feels the Bern

With the rise of Bernie Sanders in the polls, the establishment is worried. The prospect of a two-way race between Trump and Sanders in the general election has the powers-that-be out in full force.

The problem is that they don’t want to make it look too obvious with their opposition to Bernie. Many people, particularly Bernie supporters, already feel that the DNC rigged the primaries against Bernie in 2016.

Hillary Clinton obviously sought to take the nomination in 2016 (and would take it in 2020 if given the chance) because her goal is political power. But the issue is a little more complex regarding why the establishment fears a Bernie presidency.

Bernie is disliked by the establishment for similar reasons as Trump. They both sometimes tell the truth, particularly in regards to U.S. foreign policy.

There is a difference between the average person on the street who is a Trump hater and those within the power network of Washington DC. Someone may hate Trump because of his brashness, his rude Tweets, and his overall arrogant demeanor.

This does not get to the core hatred from the establishment. They don’t like Trump mostly because of his inconsistent views on foreign policy. They want someone consistent, but not consistent in the views of someone like Ron Paul. They want someone who will uphold the aims of the U.S. empire and military-industrial complex.

Trump sometimes tells the truth. He sometimes makes gestures towards peace, at least rhetorically. But even when he is siding with the regime, his truth telling can still be damaging.

For instance, he said that U.S. troops would stay in Syria to control the oil. This is no different from previous administrations, but Trump bluntly told the truth, which the establishment doesn’t like because it can de-legitimize U.S. foreign interventions.

And this may be the greatest thing Trump has done on behalf of liberty. His policies have been mostly horrible (continuing the tradition), but he is helping to de-legitimize the U.S. empire. Sometimes it is inadvertent, but we should take what we can get.

Of course, Trump has had some good things to say on foreign policy, particularly when he was campaigning. He said that we were lied into war in Iraq. He said he wanted to get along with Russia. This most likely explains why the establishment doesn’t like him. They are afraid that he may follow through on some of his rhetoric and that it will be persuasive to the American public.

Trump Over Bernie

The establishment doesn’t hate Bernie because he has described himself as a socialist. I doubt that Wall Street is even that worried. If stocks begin falling prior to the election, Trump will try to blame it on the prospect of a Bernie Sanders presidency. But if stocks do fall, it will be because we are in a massive bubble (which Trump described in 2016 before the bubble got bigger).

Bernie’s domestic policies do seem scary, but they are likely no bigger a threat than any of the other presidential contenders. We already have a disastrous healthcare system. It’s possible Bernie could get his universal healthcare system (i.e., government healthcare), but that is still somewhat of a long shot.

In terms of spending, it really can’t get any worse than it already is. We have one trillion dollar deficits, and this is during a supposedly prosperous period. If anything, the Republicans in Congress may actually start caring about federal spending again if Bernie is in the White House.

The reason the establishment is against Bernie is mainly due to foreign policy. They are afraid he might disrupt the military-industrial complex.

I don’t have a great degree of confidence that a Bernie presidency will lead to a significant change in U.S. foreign policy, but it’s certainly more likely than with a Biden or Buttigieg presidency. But we shouldn’t be fooled.

Bernie is rather weak. After having the DNC snatch the nomination from him in 2016, he endorsed the bloodthirsty Hillary Clinton, who never met a war she didn’t like. That alone should tell you how strong Bernie will be in office.

It is also important to consider that Bernie puts little emphasis on foreign policy. He tends to be good on the issue (relatively speaking) when asked, but he is more obsessed about taxing the top 1% than he is about stopping the bombing of innocent people in foreign countries.

Even though we don’t know for sure how a Sanders presidency would turn out, it is certain that the establishment media and the rest of the cesspool in Washington DC are trying to prevent his nomination because of the uncertainty. He may actually follow through with some of the things he says, and they can’t take that risk.

If Bernie actually gets the nomination, I think the establishment may quietly side with Trump. They would rather the devil (from their perspective) they know. Trump has been in office for over 3 years, and while he has done some damage rhetorically to the establishment, foreign policy has not changed much up to this point. The wars go on.

With Bernie, there is more uncertainty. Therefore, the military-industrial complex and the rest of the establishment may prefer Trump over Sanders. It would not be surprising if they put someone up like Michael Bloomberg to run as an independent in the general election in order to take votes away from Sanders. It would split the anti-Trump votes.

It will largely depend on how Bernie acts if he gets the nomination. I think he will moderate his views in the general election. He won’t call himself a socialist when he is up on stage debating Trump. He will come across as more reasonable, at least on domestic issues.

The big question will be his views on foreign policy. The establishment will try to get close to him in order to control him. If Bernie starts hiring foreign policy advisers who have been pro war in the past, then they will feel reasonably comfortable that they can control him.

It will be a different story if Bernie keeps speaking against U.S. wars and interventions. If he suggests having someone like Tulsi Gabbard as Secretary of State, then the establishment will really flip out. They will prefer Trump at that point. You will see the establishment media change its tune on Trump. They won’t be outright nice to him, but they will quietly change the narrative to make Bernie look like more of a crazy person.

The good news in all of this is that we have reached a point where the deep state is not in full control. We could have a general election with two candidates who are not approved by the establishment. Regardless of how bad they may govern, this is still a positive sign for liberty.

Compulsory Education – The Bane of Learning and Freedom

Compulsory Education – The Bane of Learning and Freedom

Approximately 50-million students, bound by state compulsory attendance laws, are trapped in what is essentially a prison of their bodies and minds.

Most Americans never question school compulsory attendance laws itself but instead focus on what occurs inside the classroom. Public schools, which can also be called government schools, are notorious for a wide array of problems. From class size to the controversy over testing to disruptive student behavior, the demand that more taxpayer money be used to correct the poor performance is touted as the answer. This completely disregards two points: 1. The benefit-cost ratio of government education of children is often a losing deal. (Private schools are frequently smaller, religious affiliated, and in many cases cost less to educate each student than the public counterparts.) 2. More important, compulsory education violates the liberty of all citizens – taxpayers and students alike, not only by forcing parents to subject their children to a state education but also with the coercive funding (i.e., taxation) used to force children’s attendance.

My principal objection to compulsory education is that it violates the freedom of the individual. No one should be required to give up personal sovereignty to comply with a state or federal government mandate — not through military conscription and not through compulsory education.

From its earliest days, our nation functioned well without compulsory education laws, and the minimal involvement of government enabled youth to choose trade/vocational training, religious study, or higher education relevant to the individual’s personal choice. As the idea of compulsory attendance began to develop in society, it became increasingly repressive, decade by decade. Parochial schools and family home-schooling were replaced by laws forcing attendance for most students at government schools.

Government-run schools and compulsory attendance to any school are the antitheses of freedom, liberty, and learning. Forced to attend a school, most will go to government schools. Students are treated as prisoners sentenced to serve 12 years (or less in some states). Years of children’s precious lives and vulnerable minds are spent in forced confinement, often subjected to aimless busywork to meet the demands of teachers. The individual is not valued in many government schools, as all focus is on becoming an upstanding member of the collective. Leftist indoctrination has become ubiquitous. Independent thinking is discouraged while group-think pervades nearly every aspect of the politicized curriculum. All of this in the name of bettering children’s lives.

The oppression is accepted by the majority who learn quickly how to gain approval from their masters, with students who rebel sadly turning to personally and socially destructive behaviors. While many passively accept this oppression, the individuals who would be better suited to pursue unique aptitudes suffer.

With rare religious exceptions recognized, the vast majority of American youth must obey by attending such schools or face various penalties and punishments, as well as sometimes the possibility of fines and jail time for parents. Gone are the days where educational choices were up to the young person and his family.

The result of youth being exposed to years of socialist ideas explains the rampant decline of basic knowledge and generation upon generation of graduating seniors with minimal ability to do much of anything aside from obeying orders. All too many high-school graduates display poor writing skills and an inadequate ability to engage in critical thinking on simple matters.

The collective is placed above the individual. From rewards for just showing up to ribbons for all, disallowing students to give one another a card or a simple gift unless all are given one, to situational ethics role-playing scenarios, students are continuously subjected to an agenda that discourages independent thought. High achievement is discouraged as competition is rejected while poor performers are made to feel equal to all. Critical thinking and actual substantive course work are replaced by leftist revisionism of history, identity politics, and advocacy of politically correct perceptions of life.

Free speech, a fundamental of our nation, is not only not valued, but it is also suppressed. Subtle and patent discrimination of those not conforming to the frequently liberal agenda pervades government education. After years of this beginning when very young, the mental and emotional development is stunted, and the socialist mindset is placed — exactly what an all-powerful government wants — an easily controlled and manipulated unquestioning populous.

All of this occurs simply because the American people have never questioned the premise of compulsory education.

While conservatives work to offer alternatives such as vouchers/home-schooling/economic methods to provide choice, those who value liberty realize compulsory education is not an area for mere reform, it is a clear violation of the rights of the individual and as such should be eliminated.

The rights of millions of young Americans are violated daily by forcing children to attend schools. Likewise, the rights of Americans who are forced to fund state schools are violated.

Education should be a personal responsibility, not a public one. Like so many other important aspects of life that the government now controls, the education of children should be left entirely up to the parents and the private sector with its charitable and private enterprises, with attendance voluntary.

A fundamental rejection of any government involvement in education, including all laws requiring compulsory attendance, must be the focus. It is not enough to try and end the government monopoly in education, the link between government and any educational opportunity should be ended.

Just as compulsory attendance began with one state mandating it and the idea spreading nationwide, our country could begin to end this tyranny if one state legislature courageously challenged and eliminated compulsory attendance.

America needs educational freedom – freedom from all government intervention. Let’s begin it with an end to compulsory attendance.

Reprinted from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Democrats Ignore Trump’s Real Violations

Democrats Ignore Trump’s Real Violations

This week the latest Democratic Party attempt to remove President Trump from office – impeachment over Trump allegedly holding up an arms deal to Ukraine – flopped. Just like “Russiagate” and the Mueller investigation, and a number of other attempts to overturn the 2016 election.

We’ve had three years of accusations and investigations with untold millions of dollars spent in a never-ending Democratic Party effort to remove President Trump from office.

Why do the Democrats keep swinging and missing at Trump? They can’t make a good case for abuse of power because they don’t really oppose Trump’s most egregious abuses of power. Congress, with a few exceptions, strongly supports the President flouting the Constitution when it comes to overseas aggression and shoveling more money into the military-industrial complex.

In April, 2018, President Trump fired 100 Tomahawk missiles into Syria allegedly as punishment for a Syrian government chemical attack in Douma. Though the US was not under imminent threat of attack from Syria, Trump didn’t wait for a Congressional declaration of war on Syria or even an authorization for a missile strike. In fact, he didn’t even wait for an investigation of the event to find out what actually happened! He just decided to send a hundred missiles – at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars – into Syria.

We are now finding out from whistleblowers on the UN team that investigated the alleged attack that the report blaming the Syrian government was falsified and that the whole “attack” was nothing but a false flag operation.

Is such unauthorized aggression against a country with which we are not at war not worth investigating as a potential “high crime” or “misdemeanor”?

Last month, President Trump authorized the assassination of a top Iranian General, Qassim Soleimani, and a top Iraqi military officer inside Iraqi territory while Soleimani was on a diplomatic mission. Trump and his Administration tried to claim that the attack was essential because of an “imminent threat” of a Soleimani attack on US troops in the region.

We found out shortly afterward that they lied about the “imminent threat.” The assassination was not “urgent” – it was planned back in June. Trump then claimed it didn’t matter whether there was an imminent threat: Soleimani was a bad guy so he deserved to be assassinated.

But the attack was an act of war on Iran without Congressional declaration or authorization for war. Is that not perhaps a “high crime” or “misdemeanor”?

We are finding out that, contrary to Trump claims, Soleimani was not even behind the December attack on US troops in Iraq. New evidence suggests it was actually an ISIS operation attempting to goad the US into moving against Iraq’s Shia militias.

Fantasies about Trump being an agent of Putin or trying to get Ukraine to help him win the election are presented as urgent reasons Trump must be removed from office. Real-life violations of the Constitution and reckless militarism that may get us embroiled in another Middle East war are shrugged off as “business as usual” by both Democrats and Republicans in Washington.

Democrats won’t move against Trump for what may be real “high crimes” and “misdemeanors” because they support his overseas aggression. They just wish they were the ones pulling the trigger.

Reprinted from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

The Louisville Metro Police Department Child Sex Scandal

The Louisville Metro Police Department Child Sex Scandal

Civil libertarians and police corruption watchdogs have much to celebrate these days. The fact that most people are walking around with high definition video cameras in their pockets has done much to shine a light on what these groups have been talking about for decades; that the “occupation” of law enforcement in the United States ceased being about protecting and serving, and has morphed into intimidating and subjugating.  

Whether it be turning a traffic stop for a burned-out brake light into a drug search, or it actually becoming a “head stomping” opportunity for a Gwinnett County sheriff, even people who formerly considered police to be heroes, are starting to question why as individual violent crime is decreasing, police violence is increasing.  Of course, many have become accustomed to these stories as sites such as The Free Thought Project chronicle them daily, but the scandal that has come out of Louisville, Kentucky involving two police officers’ sexual abuse of children in their Explorer Program should sound alarms and question whether policing in its modern form is an anachronism. 

Allegations of Sexually Abusing Children  

Former Louisville Metro Police officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood were accused of criminal charges “in Jefferson Circuit Court stemming from their alleged sexual abuse of teens under their supervision as part of a program for young people interested in law enforcement careers.” The allegations against Betts stretched from his first year in the department, 2006, through 2016. Federally, he was charged with sending pictures of his penis to someone under the age of 16 and attempting to have sex with males and females who were not yet 18. 

In U.S. District Court in Louisville on December 6, 2018, Betts pleaded “guilty to charges of knowingly distributing child pornography, possession of child pornography, transferring obscene material to a minor, enticement and attempted enticement, among other charges.” 

In addition, the State of Kentucky charged Betts with two counts of sodomy involving two alleged victims. The indictment in state court alleged Betts engaged in “deviate sexual intercourse” with one of the victims through the use of “forcible compulsion” over a five-month period in 2007. Betts was also accused of committing sodomy on July 26, 2013 with a minor “he came into contact with as a result” of his position as a police officer. Betts pleaded guilty to these charges on July 8, 2019 and received “five years for two counts of sodomy in the third degree. That sentence is on top of the 16 years he was handed down by a federal judge. The five-year sentences will run concurrent to the time he’ll serve in his federal sentence.” 

Officer Brandon Wood was charged, and pleaded guilty to attempted enticement, United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman said on January 28, 2019. “According to a plea agreement, between 2011 and 2012, Wood attempted to entice John Doe 1, who had not reached 18 years of age, to engage in sexual activity. Wood met Doe through the LMPD Explorer Program during a camp held in Bullitt County – where Wood was a counselor and sworn LMPD officer.” 

“A federal judge sentenced Brandon Wood, 33, to 70 months in prison on a felony attempted enticement charge on May 28, 2019.” 

“When he pleaded guilty in January, Wood reached an agreement with federal prosecutors for a 60-month sentence, but U.S. District Judge David Hale rejected that agreement Tuesday morning saying it was too lenient.” He was sentenced to 70 months in jail.  

Civil suits against the two officers are ongoing. 

The ‘Bombshell’ 

In the case of Kenneth Betts, as if his actions against minors wasn’t enough, in November of 2019, a fellow officer identifying himself as “Darryl,” came forward on a FOX-WDRB podcast to make the claim that he had been raped by Betts.  

“It was almost like a super power came over (Betts),” an accuser, identified only as Darryl in the podcast, told FOX News Reporter Andrew Keiper. “He had a hold of my ear, and he was still exposed in the front of his pants. We’ll just say he, yeah, he forced me, yeah.” 

Darryl describes himself as older and bigger than Betts but he has decided to not pursue a lawsuit. He hopes that by coming forward it will help others to do so. 

The interview took place in the first of a four-part podcast called “Derby City Betrayal.” The series details the investigation into the sexual abuse case against Betts and former LMPD officer Brandon Wood, as well as their subsequent arrests. 

In the same podcast series, one of the victims from the Explorers identified as C.F., now an adult, went into detail about what he experienced: 

“It was on a regular basis. (Betts) would ask for nude photos, ask for me to come over, all sorts of things,” C.F. said. “Some messed up things happened.” 

Considering the depravity involved in this story it’s easy to write it off as an anomaly but that doesn’t answer the question that if these two “bad apples” can find themselves in the same department (and a third officer to help them cover it up as well as a fourth accused of sexual abuse), how rampant is this activity amongst those that are seen as authority figures and our “protectors?” And how many of these go unreported due to fear of reprisal by “good guys” with guns? 

The argument has been made that to hand mortal men the kind of power that comes along with the profession of law enforcement officer will certainly attract those with evil intent. What better way for a sociopath or deviant to hide his crimes than behind a badge? As long as the government holds a monopoly on violence and force expect this to become more rampant, but as the information age progresses, anticipate that these malefactors will be exposed for who they really are. Looking at the damage being currently done by this vocation, we can only hope that people awaken to the realization that they are a danger to us all. 

The Red Flag Flying Over the Second Amendment

The Red Flag Flying Over the Second Amendment

The Second Amendment is the provision in the Bill of Rights that seems to scare people the most. Why?

The Second Amendment lays down the groundwork for the right to keep and bear arms. Specifically, it asserts that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is the only thing that can preserve a regulated militia, which is necessary to preserve liberty. And it cannot be infringed by other laws or federal officials.

In other words, the Second Amendment is based on the fact that a free state, in order to be ensured with security, must trust a militia formed by the people and, obviously, their guns.

However, this very amendment scares people the most, mainly because government authorities don’t know how to take it into account when it comes to gun control.

Contradictory Arguments

Gun control operates against the Second Amendment – and, as we all know, amendments cannot be easily broken.

For example, if a witness takes the Fifth in the Court of Law, no one can persuade them to answer any questions. Lawyers and jurors can suspect an answer, but the witness has the full right not to answer.

The same applies to the Second Amendment. It is a thing that is ensured to the American people, by law. It cannot be taken away – but how does gun control interfere with this?

  • If you carefully read the Second Amendment, you’d understand, as most people have, that the phrase the right of the people to keep and bear Arms asserts an individual right for all people in the United States.
  • As a result, the legislative bodies of the U.S can’t come up with laws that would prohibit firearm possession.
  • On the other hand, certain scholars believe that the Second Amendment was meant to restrict Congress from passing a law that would deny the state its right to self-defense. This is the so-called collective rights theory – it asserts that the individuals don’t actually have an individual right to possess firearms and that the federal government has the authority to regulate firearms without having to take an individual right into account.

The Double-Edged Sword

It goes without saying why there’s currently a red flag flying above gun control – and why the Second Amendment scares people the most. It’s because this very amendment can affect, solely, both parties of this debate.

Depending on how the higher authorities decide to rule in terms of gun control, they have to take the Second Amendment into account. Naturally, the worst part is that it can be seen from two different points of view – one that can establish gun control and one that makes it void.

The Historical Militia

On the other hand, we also have to take into account that the American people are kind of trying to make an 18th-century law fit our modern times. The truth is that, given the current state of the country, a militia may not be the right answer.

This is because, in the 18th century, it was believed that the citizens should all be part-time soldiers. Both Federalists and anti-Federalists, despite their disagreements, were devoted to this idea.

However, having a standing army was the ideal way to subvert the ideas of that time – namely, the ideas of the American Revolution that people had on their minds.

The Standing Army

Moreover, the Second Amendment was also meant to prevent the US from establishing a professional, standing army. Obviously, we couldn’t imagine the country not having the army it has today but, if we’re honest, the 18th century didn’t actually need this type of army.

According to the old times, a society that had a standing army couldn’t actually become free, mainly because the leaders of that army could turn their back to the society. Instead, as mentioned above, it was believed that a well-regulated militia was more fit to keep the state safe, secure, and free.

The Second Amendment Was Based on Gun Control

Even though the militia was very important and those who wrote the Bill of Rights wanted all of the citizens to be in it, they still left room for those that wouldn’t be part of the militia.

As history states, if an individual was not allowed to participate in the militia, then the leaders in the founding generation wouldn’t allow him access to weapons. Therefore, there were classes of people that could not bear arms – the fact that everybody used to own a gun back then doesn’t quite stand true.

Now versus Then

The Second Amendment scares people the most because of two very important reasons.

First, if the nation was to return to the old meaning of the amendment, there wouldn’t be any professional soldiers nor any army. Instead, every citizen had to be a part of the militia and, if need be, fight for their country.

Then, if we are to adapt the amendment to today’s circumstances, we’d come to the conclusion that it does not, in fact, prevent gun control laws – or stricter laws, at least. This is because the amendment stands for the safety and security of a free state and not for the right of an individual to self-defense.

Naturally, it is not implied that there shouldn’t be self-defense rights. It is only implied that they should come after gun control laws and, paired with the 2nd amendment, they must keep this free country safe.

The Bottom Line

In the end, the 2nd amendment can be considered a red flag on gun control. It’s a red flag mainly because the misinterpretation of the 2nd amendment could lead to a state with no gun control laws, where everyone has the personal right to bear arms.

Overall, it depends on how people understand the amendment first, and then the entire gun control thing. However, given the current situation of the state, it goes without saying that all people should fight for a better future, for both them and their children – and this means making the right choice!

Reprinted from the Tenth Amendment Center.

Ice and Fire

Ice and Fire

The relationship between conservatism and libertarianism is a tenuous one. However, such was not always the case. Fellow travelers of both groups were united in opposing Roosevelt’s New Deal. The work of the late economist Murray N. Rothbard (1926–1995) on the “Old Right” is indispensable here. After World War II, the political right was generally opposed, not only to “domestic statism,” but also to war, foreign intervention, and “American statism in the international arena.” But after the death of the political and intellectual leaders of the Old Right, the conservative movement — which “was basically classical liberal and libertarian” in the 1930s and 1940s — suffered a “power vacuum in both the political and the intellectual areas,” and was taken over and transformed “beyond recognition” by William Buckley (1925–2008) and those associated with him at National Review magazine. The “modern conservative movement” — after the departure of its libertarian element and the purging of “embarrassing extremists like the John Birch Society” — “combined a traditionalist and theocratic approach to ‘moral values,’ occasional lip service to free-market economics, and an imperialist and global interventionist foreign policy dedicated to the glorification of the American state and the extirpation of world Communism. Classical liberalism remained only as rhetoric, useful in attracting business support, and most of all as a fig leaf for the grotesque realities of the New Right.”

“At the heart of the dispute between the traditionalists and the libertarians,” says Rothbard, “is the question of freedom and virtue: Should virtuous action (however we define it) be compelled, or should it be left up to the free and voluntary choice of the individual?”

The disagreements between conservatism and libertarianism — the “uneasy cousins,” in the words of the conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet — were made public in the early 1960s in the pages of National Review and other lesser-known publications. No resolution was forthcoming, in spite of the “fusionist” efforts of Frank S. Meyer. Ronald Reagan, apparently, never got the memo.

In between his time as the governor of California and the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) was interviewed by Reason magazine in 1975 about his political philosophy. The first question he was asked was about conservatism and libertarianism: “Governor Reagan, you have been quoted in the press as saying that you’re doing a lot of speaking now on behalf of the philosophy of conservatism and libertarianism. Is there a difference between the two?” Here is his response: “If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals — if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”

When asked to give “some examples” of what he “would consider to be proper functions of government,” Reagan replied, somewhat libertarianishly, “Well, the first and most important thing is that government exists to protect us from each other.” He maintained that he didn’t “believe in a government that protects us from ourselves.” He recognized that “government’s only weapons are force and coercion and that’s why we shouldn’t let it get out of hand.” Although Reagan acknowledged that “the government has legitimate functions,” he also thought that “our greatest threat today comes from government’s involvement in things that are not government’s proper province.”

Yet when asked about the issue of “laws against gambling,” Reagan quickly abandoned any pretense of libertarianism and showed that he, like modern conservatives, had no firm philosophical foundation: “You’ve named an issue that is one of the most difficult for me to reconcile. I know this gets into the whole area of the sin laws and here again I think you’re in one of the grey areas. There’s one side of me that says I know this is protecting us from ourselves; there’s another side of me, however, that says you can make the case that it does get into an area in which we are protecting us from each other.”

The issue of “laws against gambling” is one of the least difficult for libertarians to reconcile. No government at any level should ever, for any reason, enact any laws against gambling. It’s that simple. This straightforward question shows that libertarianism and conservatism are not traveling “the same path” as Reagan said in his Reason interview. Their paths are going in opposite directions.

A contemporary and admirer of Reagan, conservative icon Russell Kirk (1918–1994), saw things differently. Although conservatives and libertarians “share a detestation of collectivism” and “set their faces against the totalist state and the heavy hand of bureaucracy,”

In the nature of things, conservatives and libertarians can conclude no friendly pact. Adversity sometimes makes strange bedfellows, but the present successes of conservatives disincline them to lie down, lamblike, with the libertarian lions.

When heaven and earth have passed away, perhaps the conservative mind and the libertarian mind may be joined in synthesis, but not until then.

I venture to suggest that libertarianism, properly understood, is as alien to real American conservatives as is communism.

Conservatives have no intention of compromising with socialists; but even such an alliance, ridiculous though it would be, is more nearly conceivable than the coalition of conservatives and libertarians. The socialists at least declare the existence of some sort of moral order; the libertarians are quite bottomless.

What else do conservatives and libertarians profess in common? The answer to that question is simple: nothing. Nor will they ever have. To talk of forming a league or coalition between these two is like advocating a union of ice and fire.

Why, then, do some people have the idea that conservatism and libertarianism are cousins, or at least compatible? Before answering this question, it is first necessary to take a closer look at conservatism and libertarianism.

Conservatism

What is conservatism? I will let conservatives explain it.

In his book The Conservative Mind (1953), Kirk listed and described “six canons of conservative thought” that he considered to be a summary of themes common to conservative thinkers:

  1. Belief that a divine intent rules society as well as conscience, forging an eternal chain of right and duty which links great and obscure, living and dead.
  2. Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life.
  3. Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes.
  4. Persuasion that property and freedom are inexorably connected.
  5. Faith in prescription and distrust of “sophisters and calculators.”
  6. Recognition that change and reform are not identical.

In the introduction to his anthology The Portable Conservative Reader (Penguin, 1982), which includes essays, poetry, and fiction from writers that he identified as conservatives, Kirk offered a variation on his six canons, which he termed “first principles.” Kirk’s “canons” were revised and expanded in subsequent editions of The Conservative Mind.

In his book The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Conservatism (1957), Kirk listed ten of “the chief principles which have characterized American conservative thought”:

  1. Men and nations are governed by moral laws.
  2. Variety and diversity are the characteristics of a high civilization.
  3. Justice means that all men and women have the right to what is their own.
  4. Property and freedom are inseparably connected; economic leveling is not economic progress.
  5. Power is full of danger; therefore the good state is one in which power is checked and balanced, restricted by sound constitutions and customs.
  6. The past is a great storehouse of wisdom.
  7. Modern society urgently needs true community; and true community is a world away from collectivism.
  8. In the affairs of nations, the American conservative feels that his country ought to set an example to the world, but ought not to try to remake the world in its image.
  9. Men and women are not perfectible, conservatives know; and neither are political institutions.
  10. Change and reform, conservatives are convinced, are not identical: moral and political innovation can be destructive as well as beneficial.

In his book The Politics of Prudence (1993), Kirk returned again to “principles,” presenting “a summary of conservative assumptions differing somewhat” from the “canons” and “principles” found in his earlier books. In introducing his new “ten articles of belief,” he said that they “reflect the emphases of conservatives in America nowadays.”

Next is George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America (1996, second ed.):

What is conservatism? For those who have examined the subject, this is a perennial question; many are the writers who have searched for the elusive answer. Such an a priori effort, I have concluded, is misdirected. I doubt that there is any single, satisfactory, all-encompassing definition of the complex phenomenon called conservatism, the content of which varies enormously with time and place. It may even be true that conservatism is inherently resistant to precise definition. Many right-wingers, in fact, have argued that conservatism by its very nature is not an elaborate ideology at all.

So I offer here no compact definition of conservatism. In fact, American conservatives themselves have had no such agreed-upon definition. Instead, the very quest for self-definition has been one of the most notable motifs of their thought since World War II.

And then there is Bruce Frohnen, writing in American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia (2006):

Conservatism is a philosophy that seeks to maintain and enrich societies characterized by respect for inherited institutions, beliefs and practices, in which individuals develop good character by cooperating with one another in primary, local associations such as families, churches and social groups aimed at furthering the common good in a manner pleasing to God.

Conservatives are attached, not so much to any particular regime or form of government, as to what they believe are the requirements for a good life for all peoples. In the American context, conservatives defend the ordered liberty established by the Constitution and the traditions and practices on which that constitution was built.

Conservatives believe that there is a natural order to the universe, governed by a natural law that gives mankind general rules concerning how to shape their lives in common as individuals.

Nathan W. Schlueter, coauthor of Selfish Libertarians and Socialist Conservatives? The Foundations of the Libertarian-Conservative Debate (2017), has a hard time defining conservatism, since it “is not a specific philosophy of government but a generic term that can have a wide range of specific meanings, depending on context.” Nevertheless, he does say,

Conservatism seeks to “conserve” the best elements of that [Western philosophical and political] tradition.

Conservatism rests on a recognition of the mutual interdependence of liberty, tradition, and reason.

American conservatism is committed to conserving the principles of the American founding, and to renewing the models of political leadership that gave those principles life.

It seems as though the only thing that conservatives can say with absolutely certainty is that they don’t exactly know what conservatism is. But it is no wonder that conservatism suffers from not having any clear, concise, coherent, and consistent definition. Contrary to its name, conservatism changes with convictions, circumstances, country, and consensus. Conservative godfather Kirk readily acknowledges that:

Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogma, and conservatives inherit from Burke a talent for re-expressing their convictions to fit the time.

The diversity of ways in which conservative views may find expression is itself proof that conservatism is no fixed ideology. What particular principles conservatives emphasize during any given time will vary with the circumstances and necessities of that era.

Although certain general principles held by most conservatives may be described, there exists wide variety in application of these ideas from age to age and country to country.

Conservatism amounts to the consensus of the leading conservative thinkers and actors over the past two centuries.

Concludes Kirk, “Conservatism offers no universal pattern of politics for adoption everywhere.”

Libertarianism

In contrast to the confusion and contradictions of conservatism, there is the simplicity and consistency of libertarianism. For a compact definition of libertarianism, here is Future of Freedom Foundation president Jacob Hornberger: “Libertarianism is a political philosophy that holds that a person should be free to do whatever he wants in life, as long as his conduct is peaceful. Thus, as long a person doesn’t murder, rape, burglarize, defraud, trespass, steal, or inflict any other act of violence against another person’s life, liberty, or property, libertarians hold that the government should leave him alone. In fact, libertarians believe that a primary purpose of government is to prosecute and punish anti-social individuals who initiate force against others.”

Libertarianism is the philosophy of nonaggression, whether that aggression be theft, fraud, the initiation of nonconsensual violence against person or property, or the threat of nonconsensual violence. The initiation or threat of aggression against the person or property of others is always wrong, even when done by government. Aggression is justified only in defense of one’s person or property or in retaliation in response to aggression against him. Violence is justified only against violence. Force must be proportional, but is neither essential nor required.

There is nothing inherent in libertarianism that stands in opposition to custom, convention, tradition, natural law, Christian humanism, prudence, the natural order, religion, civilized society, moral laws, patriotism, the natural world, family values, community, civic pride, ordered liberty, an enduring moral order, cooperation, local associations, or the common good. And contrary to the smears of some conservatives, libertarianism has nothing to do with libertinism, greed, selfishness, antinomianism, hedonism, utopianism, materialism, atheism, anarchy, licentiousness, relativism, or nihilism. Likewise, libertarians qua libertarians don’t fetishize change, delight in eccentricity, sacrifice order on the altar of liberty, reduce everything to economics, deify efficiency, romanticize a fictional past, or celebrate alternative lifestyles.

Libertarianism celebrates individual liberty, personal and financial privacy, private property, free markets, free enterprise, free exchange, individual responsibility, personal freedom, free association, free assembly, voluntary interaction, freedom of conscience, free speech, and free expression — as long as one’s conduct is peaceful and doesn’t violate the personal or property rights of others.

The nature of conservatism

Beneath the conservative façade of tradition, culture, community, and prudence lies an authoritarian ideology. Conservatism is the philosophy of state-coerced morality and virtue. Conservatism is more interested in order, conformity, control, and orthodoxy than tradition, culture, community, and prudence. Conservatives are statists when the state does its bidding. They deem it just, right, and necessary for government at some level — (1) to arrest, fine, imprison, or otherwise punish people for engaging in entirely private, peaceful, voluntary, and consensual actions that do not aggress against the person or property of others; (2) to regulate, license, or prohibit commercial activity between willing buyers and willing sellers; and (3) to take people’s resources against their will, by force if necessary, and transfer or redistribute them to other citizens or foreigners as the government sees fit.

Conservatism is an authoritarian philosophy that looks to the state to arrest people and then fine them, appropriate their property, or lock them in cages for engaging in private consensual behavior or peaceful activity that doesn’t violate the personal or property rights of anyone.

Why?

Why, then, do some conservatives and libertarians, and many liberals, progressives, and socialists, have the idea that conservatism and libertarianism are cousins, or at least compatible? Consider these statements from the Conservative Review news site and the Heritage Foundation think tank: “Principle[s] such as limited government, free markets, traditional family values, individual freedom, rule of law, and a strong national defense are at the core of Conservative Review’s principles.” The Heritage Foundation promotes “conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

Conservative organizations also regularly include in their mantra adherence to the Constitution, federalism and States’ Rights, free trade, and private property.

The reason people think that conservatism and libertarianism are related, allies, or two sides of the same coin is that libertarians regularly talk about those very things. There is one major difference, however. Libertarians actually believe them, although they don’t confound the idea of national defense with national offense, as most conservatives do. Conservatives only selectively believe their own mantra. They don’t follow the Constitution in many areas. They reject federalism when it comes to things such as the drug war. The only limited government they desire is a government limited to control by conservatives. They don’t accept the freedom of individuals to do anything that’s peaceful as long as they don’t violate the personal or property rights of others. They don’t believe in the sanctity of private property. They think traditional values should be legislated by government. They confound free trade with managed trade. They don’t yearn for free enterprise and a free market in every area.

When conservative politicians want votes, and especially the votes of “libertarian-leaning” conservatives, they don’t talk about tradition, culture, community, and prudence. They instead use libertarian rhetoric to portray themselves as advocates of libertarian principles.

So Russell Kirk was right. There is no real affinity between conservatism and libertarianism. Conservatives and libertarians have about as much in common as ice and fire.This article was originally published in the January 2020 edition of Future of Freedom.

Reprinted from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

The State Is a Predator. It Can’t Be Used to Achieve Libertarian Ends

The State Is a Predator. It Can’t Be Used to Achieve Libertarian Ends

Tyler Cowen, who is said to be “known as one of the libertarian world’s deepest thinkers,” recently wrote a blog post entitled “What Libertarianism Has Become and Will Become — State Capacity Libertarianism.” There, Cowen asserts that libertarianism “is now pretty much hollowed out,” because it has not been able to address an idiosyncratic list of problems ranging from climate change to improving K-12 education. Consequently, according to Cowen, “smart” classical liberals and libertarians “have evolved into a view, as if guided by an invisible hand.” This view Cowen dubs “State Capacity Libertarianism.“ (This name appears in bold font in the original post, seemingly belying Cowen’s claim that it is intended as an “entirely non-sticky name.”) According to Cowen those libertarians inexplicably passed over by the invisible hand of ideological enlightenment have drifted off into “Ron Paul-ism and less savory alt right directions.”

Cowen’s doctrine of State Capacity Libertarianism comprises eleven tenets encapsulated in a total of 719 words and, absent further elaboration, is surpassingly silly. The tenets are a hodgepodge of mundane facts, casual observations lacking supporting facts, and explicit or implicit value judgments postulated without argument. What State Capacity Libertarianism seems to boil down to in practice is the old-fashioned “mixed economy” as described by Paul Samuelson in a 1950s edition of his famous economics principles textbook. This is mixed with a heavy dose of nineteenth-century gunboat diplomacy to maintain the postwar Pax Americana, “extend capitalism and markets,” and “keep China at bay abroad.” Given Cowen’s prodigious intellectual reputation, this piece to me seems muddled and insubstantial and hardly warrants further discussion. (Jeff Deist has also provided a clear and concise refutation of Cowen’s main points.)

Cowen’s post, however, was clearly designed to provoke and boy, did it, with libertarians from every corner and outpost of the official movement and its borderlands weighing in (hereherehereherehere, and here). Now these responses are very much worth discussing because they confirm Cowen’s contention that mainstream libertarianism has been “hollowed out”—although hardly in the sense that he intended. Let me offer just two examples, from individuals I greatly admire and respect as scholars, economists, and dedicated libertarians.

David Henderson, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, entitles his response “The Meaning of Libertarianism.” The title promises at least a brief elucidation of what in Henderson’s view are the core doctrines of libertarianism. Unfortunately, this is not forthcoming. Instead Henderson begins by embracing Cowen’s distinction between “smart libertarians” and unnamed others, presumably the dummies and the “unsavory.” However, contrary to Cowen, Henderson identifies smart libertarians with a few mainstream libertarian institutions. These comprise “three main organizations,” namely the Reason Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the Mercatus Center affiliated with George Mason University. Ironically, the director of the Mercatus Center is none other than Tyler Cowen. It is not surprising, therefore, that for Henderson libertarianism means efficient solutions to economic and social problems promulgated by policy analysts at selected think tanks.

The bulk of Henderson’s article is thus confined to citations of research and anecdotes indicating how the free market and entrepreneurship would solve or alleviate the problems raised by Cowen, including traffic congestion, low-quality K-12 education, and climate change. Near the end of his article Henderson rehearses the venerable public choice argument demonstrating that the perverse incentive structure confronting politicians, bureaucrats, and voters in the political arena produces the inefficient outcomes that Cowen bemoans. This contrasts with the alignment of incentives guiding and coordinating the actions of consumers and producers in the market economy, which would conduce to a more efficient resolution of most of these problems.

Henderson does score cogent points against Cowen. But, in the end, Henderson’s version of libertarianism amounts to little more than economism, the narrow and hollow doctrine of enlisting market forces to improve social efficiency under the existing political regime. Henderson’s economistic approach to libertarianism is epitomized in Milton Friedman’s classic work Capitalism and Freedom.

Richard Ebeling, the prolific and prominent Austrian economist and libertarian, attempts to engage Cowen on a broader philosophical level than Henderson does. In his article, Ebeling extolls and warns against losing sight of the “classical liberal ideal.” This is all well and good, and like Henderson, Ebeling lands some telling blows against Cowen’s eccentric political credo. Ebeling’s critique is especially effective in demonstrating that government intervention leads to a distortion of economic calculation and the irrational allocation of scarce resources. But the reader looks in vain for a solid and inspiring statement of the classical liberal ideal.

In the end, Ebeling does not seem able to completely free himself from the economistic approach to libertarianism, lamenting “how difficult the logic of the ‘economic way of thinking’ can be for so many to, at first, grasp and understand.” As if learning economics by itself—even sound Austrian economics—will cause the scales to fall from the eyes of the deceived and subjugated masses and allow them to suddenly see the true nature of the state as a criminal enterprise and the great and immediate enemy of human freedom.

More generally, Cowen’s State Capacity Libertarianism harkens back to an older tradition that frankly places the state beyond and above society. In this view, the state is a nonmarginal actor whose task is to achieve certain collective outcomes intuited by Cowen or some other political philosopher. In order to achieve its ordained goals, however, the state must possess two things: 1. sufficient legal capacity to enforce its laws and regulations throughout the territory over which it exercises a monopoly of violence; and 2. sufficient legal fiscal capacity to extract from its subjects the needed resources, the quantity of which are rigidly fixed by its duties. Chief among these duties, according to Cowen, is “the maintenance and extension of capitalism” to promote economic growth. Additionally, the state needs to be “strong” and “centralized,” although not necessarily large in size or scope, to discharge its responsibilities. Hence, state capacity libertarianism.

In their response to Cowen, Henderson and Ebeling correctly point out that the state is an economic actor whose accretions of legal and fiscal capacity indeed involve opportunity costs and whose benefits are beyond calculation because they are not subject to the profit and loss test of the market. Thus, when the state pursues goals beyond providing public goods and a secure legal and enforcement framework for voluntary production and exchange, it inevitably distorts economic activity. Unfortunately In their eagerness to rebut Cowen, Henderson and Ebeling fail to recognize the germ of truth in Cowen’s conception of the state as wholly separate from society. In portraying the state as an integral part of economy and society they ignore its unique politicali.e., predatory, nature. Libertarianism becomes in their hands a recipe for constraining state action in the interest of optimizing social efficiency. This economistic, hollowed-out version of libertarianism may be called “state efficiency libertarianism.”

In contrast, hard-core, muscular libertarianism begins with the insight that the state is fundamentally different in nature from society and economy, and stands wholly apart from them. The main premise of state predation libertarianism, as we may call it, was expressed quite trenchantly by the men and women of the American Old Right, such as H. L. Mencken, Albert J. Nock, Frank Chodorov, Isabel Patterson, and Rose Wilder Lane, whose most eminent intellectual descendant was Murray Rothbard. From them came no talk of growing the state to adequate “capacity” or directing it on a path to social efficiency. For them the hallmarks of the state were its predatory nature and its existence apart from society. Let us conclude with two passages from Old Right authors along these lines.

Albert Jay Nock vividly exposed the predatory nature of the state in his brilliant article “The Criminality of the State”:

“the State’s criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal. The idea that the State originated to serve any kind of social purpose is completely unhistorical. It originated in conquest and confiscation—that is to say, in crime….No State known to history originated in any other manner, or for any other purpose. Like all predatory or parasitic institutions, its first instinct is that of self-preservation. All its enterprises are directed first towards preserving its own life, and, second, towards increasing its own power and enlarging the scope of its own activity. For the sake of this it will, and regularly does, commit any crime which circumstances make expedient.”

In his classic book The Rise and Fall of Society (pp. xix–xxi), Frank Chodorov emphasized how prior to the twentieth century most political philosophers and the general public correctly recognized the utter apartness and “otherness” of the state with respect to society:

“In times past, the disposition was to look upon the State as something one had to reckon with, but as a complete outsider. One got along with the State as best one could, feared or admired it, hoped to be taken in by it and to enjoy its perquisites, or held it at arm’s length as an untouchable thing; one hardly thought of the State as the integral of Society. One had to support the State—there was no way of avoiding taxes—and one tolerated its interventions as interventions, not as the warp and woof of life. And the State itself was proud of its position apart from, and above, Society. The present disposition is to liquidate any distinction between State and Society, conceptually or institutionally….The idea that this power apparatus is indeed the enemy of Society, that the interests of these institutions are in opposition, is simply unthinkable….[U]ntil the modern era, it was an axiom that the State bears constant watching, that pernicious proclivities are built into it.”

Reprinted from the Mises Institute.

Is Anarcho-Capitalism A Contradiction?       

Is Anarcho-Capitalism A Contradiction?       

Is it possible for a stateless society to adequately protect property rights?

Any Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist has no doubt been confronted with the assertion that a state is necessary to enforce the property rights so vital to a market-based, capitalist system. 

Is this true?

Defining the State 

Before proceeding any further, its imperative to establish what we mean when describing “the state.”

In a brilliant 1974 lecture entitled “Society Without a State,” presented online here, Murray Rothbard laid out a concise definition:

“Let me say from the beginning that I define the state as that institution which possesses one or both (almost always both) of the following properties: (1) it acquires its income by the physical coercion known as “taxation”; and (2) it asserts and usually obtains a coerced monopoly of the provision of defense service (police and courts) over a given territorial area.”

Rothbard further refined his description in describing the state as an organization, that by its use of physical coercion, “has arrogated to itself a compulsory monopoly of defense services over its territorial jurisdiction.”

The State Is Coercion

With the definition of a state established, what is the proper role of the state? For those minarchists who believe a state is necessary, they insist the proper role of the state is to protect the rights of individuals. Namely, to protect people from physical harm or theft.

Such protection however, requires police, investigators, courts, prisons and judges. How are these services to be funded? Via taxation, they’ll concede. 

However, the aggression used by the state to collect taxes violates the very theft the state is supposedly established to protect against. Intellectual consistency leads us to conclude that the state cannot simultaneously protect us from theft while committing it. 

Even those who believe in free, competitive markets as being the most moral and efficient method of production and exchange for all other goods and services, will nevertheless maintain that the state must provide a system of law enforcement and courts to carry out the protection of rights – including property rights.

In his essay, Rothbard begs to differ. “But it is certainly conceptually possible for such services to be supplied by private, non-state institutions, and indeed such services have historically been supplied by other organizations than the state.”

He continues, “My contention is that all of these admittedly necessary services of protection can be satisfactorily and efficiently supplied by private persons and institutions on the free market.”

To be clear, Rothbard is not naïve in his thinking, acknowledging that “mankind is a mixture of good and evil.” There is no utopian vision of a stateless society in which bad actors and aggression magically become extinct. He persuasively makes the case however, that voluntary arrangements for security and criminal justice would not only be fairer and more efficient, but tend to minimizeboth the opportunity and the moral legitimacy of the evil and the criminal” with the removal of the state’s monopoly on violence and provision of defense services.

Markets in Security

Beginning with security, we already see a robust system of private security being enlisted by businesses and individuals to protect their property, in no small part because the current system of government policing is not up to the task. 

We can look to the city of Detroit, in which last year it was reported the city has seen massive increases in private security companies providing protection because local citizens and businesses have lost faith in the government to keep their persons and property safe.

For those who can’t afford to pay directly for security, Rothbard wrote, widespread and affordable protection services could “be supplied by insurance companies who will provide crime insurance to their clients.”

“In that case,” he continued, “insurance companies will pay off the victims of crime or the breaking of contracts or arbitration awards and then pursue the aggressors in court to recoup their losses. There is a natural market connection between insurance companies and defense service, since they need pay out less benefits in proportion as they are able to keep down the rate of crime.”

As Rothbard demonstrated, understanding how society could transition to exclusively private security should not be that intellectually challenging. 

Why Not Markets in Criminal Justice?

This leads us, however, to the somewhat more difficult case of how to replace the government court system. In his essay, Rothbard asserts that “any society, be it statist or anarchist, has to have some way of resolving disputes that will gain a majority consensus in society.”

When protection agencies catch a criminal who has committed, or is in the act of committing, aggression against another’s person or property, there must a system in which victims can recoup their losses and/or ensure the perpetrator receives appropriate punishment. For this, Rothbard argued, a system of private, voluntary arbitration courts will suffice. 

Indeed, Rothbard cites a 1970 book written by the Harvard and University of Virginia educated legal scholar William C. Wooldridge entitled “Uncle Sam, the Monopoly Man.”  Even in 1970, Wooldridge wrote that “Arbitration has grown to proportions that make the courts a secondary recourse in many areas and completely superfluous in others.”

Again, just as in security, the market has been providing arbitration services to supplement the government court system’s shortcomings. 

Critics may object Rothbard wrote, “that arbitration only works successfully because the (government) courts enforce the award of the arbitrator.” 

“Wooldridge points out however, that arbitration was unenforceable in the American courts before 1920, but that this did not prevent voluntary arbitration from being successful and expanding in the United States and in England,” he continued.

Moreover, as Rothbard highlighted, Wooldridge pointed out “the successful operations of merchant courts since the Middle Ages, those courts which successfully developed the entire body of the law merchant. None of those courts possessed the power of enforcement.”

“In other words, private arbitration is, and has been for generations, successfully settling disputes,” Rothbard concluded.

The market process, Rothbard added, would ensure the most trustworthy arbitrators would rise to the top. “As in other processes of the market, the arbitrators with the best record in settling disputes will come to gain an increasing amount of business, and those with poor records will no longer enjoy clients and will have to shift to another line of endeavor,” he wrote.  

But how would the system of courts in a free society be funded?

“Courts might either charge fees for their services, with the losers of cases obliged to pay court costs, or else they may subsist on monthly or yearly premiums by their clients, who may be either individuals or the police or insurance agencies,” Rothbard argued. Entrepreneurial ingenuity and technological advancements would also produce funding mechanisms yet to be imagined. 

Conclusion

Rothbard’s essay serves as an outstanding introduction to the provision of security, law and courts in a stateless society. The enforcement of private property rights, contrary to anarcho-capitalist skeptics and critics, can indeed be capably handled through voluntary market exchanges. No corrupting and coercive influence of the government is needed.

Bradley Thomas is creator of the website Erasethestate.com and is a libertarian activist who enjoys researching and writing on the freedom philosophy and Austrian economics.

Follow him on twitter: Bradley Thomas @erasestate

Deplatformed: How Big Tech Companies & Corporate America Subvert the Second Amendment

Deplatformed: How Big Tech Companies & Corporate America Subvert the Second Amendment

Twitter permanently banned the libertarian financial website Zero Hedge from the platform on Friday—January 31st after it published an article questioning the involvement of a Chinese scientist in the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus. 

Anyone familiar with the Bible is familiar with the Mark of the Beast: Without this mark, no man may buy or sell.

Regardless of one’s religious faith or lack thereof, there is an illustrative case in this biblical story: When one cannot buy or sell, one is metaphorically up the creek. Short of producing everything one needs oneself, buying and selling are necessary parts of virtually every modern person’s life.

In our modern world, we can begin to see a sort of Mark of the Beast: While ideas and even objects aren’t banned, they are increasingly difficult to come by, not due to government fiat, but due to the machinations of corporations hostile to the American values of freedom.

One can be in favor of the free market while recognizing a simple truth: There is no way that America’s Founding Fathers would have sat on their hands while five corporations dominated American discourse and commerce. It is hard to imagine, for example, the Founders suffering a single private bank processing most of the payments in the United States and refusing to do business with gun merchants. Alternately, one can scarcely imagine that the Founders would have sat still for three companies – all of them hostile toward American values and the Constitution – dominating political discourse and deplatforming anyone who opposed them.

This is the situation in which we find ourselves as a nation today: Guns are not illegal, but private companies will make it increasingly difficult to buy, sell or own them – up to and including pulling your bank account. You have all the freedom of speech you like, but prepare to be deplatformed or have your voice buried by large tech corporations with their thumb on the scale of American discourse.

As the American economy has become more corporatist – such that the market is controlled by the interrelation between monolithic mega-corporations, Wall Street and the state – and less capitalistic and dynamic, the American press and economy are now being dominated by forces hostile toward the American public and American values.

No less an authority than James Madison warned Americans that the First Amendment alone was not enough to protect free speech. In Federalist No. 47 and Federalist No. 51, he argued that the separation of powers was necessary to protect free speech by preventing one branch of government from accumulating too much power at the expense of the others and, indeed, the rest of society at large.

This is an important point to remember when considering the First Amendment implications of Big Tech and its war on free speech and gun freedom. The Founding Fathers did not live in a world where a few large corporations had more power than the (incredibly limited and power impoverished) government had, either at the federal or the state level. It’s doubtful that they could have conceived of such a thing.

But they did carefully consider the problem of centralized power as it pertained to the rights enshrined in the Constitution. At the end of the day, the Constitution is just a piece of paper with no ability to enforce itself. What’s more, if the Founders did not address the notion that the private sector could meaningfully and substantially circumvent rights for all Americans, it was simply because they could not conceive of such a thing, not because they were writing the private sector a blank check.

Corporate Big Brother: Banks as Gun Control

Who needs to pass gun control laws anymore? The left can simply appeal to payment systems, banks and processors as a method of non-state gun control.

Case in point: Andrew Ross Sorkin’s December 2018 article decrying credit card companies for “financing” mass shootings. As with many arguments from the left, the premise is flawed, but very simple: Because eight out of 13 shootings that killed more than 10 people in the 2010s involved a credit card purchase (though, as always, it is worth asking what counts as a mass shooting and what is being left out of the tally – more on this here), credit card companies have a responsibility to step up and stop allowing their customers to make purchases for firearms using credit cards.

This effectively amounts to a request for banks to begin surveilling the legal economic activity of their customers.

It’s not far-fetched to consider that some mass shootings have been facilitated by credit card purchases. The Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen as well as Aurora theater shooter James Holmes used credit cards to purchase the weapons and ammunition they ultimately used to commit mass murder.

But mass shootings, particularly those not part of urban gang warfare, are incredibly rare, despite the overwhelming amount of media attention paid to them. What’s more, while statistics for such would be difficult to formulate, the vast, overwhelming majority of firearms and ammunition purchases made with credit cards are made by law-abiding citizens for entirely legal purposes. For most Americans, firearms purchases can be a spike in their normal spending for the month. And what of it? The call for credit card companies and other payment processors to monitor the economic activity of law-abiding citizens would cause an outrage if the government were to do it, so why is the American public supposed to sit still for an invasion of their privacy simply because a private company is performing the surveillance?

Anyone who has ever made a firearms purchase knows that the bill can add up quickly. The oft-demonized AR-15 can easily top $4,000 when the price of a scope, rifle case and a decent cache of ammunition are added to the bill. Even a humble handgun purchase can quickly hit over $1,000 when a good holster and ammo are tacked on. This means that millions of Americans purchasing firearms for no reason other than recreation or self defense are going to have their personal finances investigated by a corporate Big Brother, with all the lack of transparency one can expect from a massive bank whose starting premise is “guilty until proven innocent.”

The attempt by the left to get banks to snoop on legal purchases amounts to nothing more than the stigmatization of the exercise of one of the rights enshrined in our Constitution. And while some would argue that the Constitution only limits the government’s actions, it must constantly be asked why we should allow for such an intrusion into our private lives simply because a private company is doing it.

“If you don’t like it, just make your own credit card company.”

Hardly.

Corporate Gun Control and the Mark of the Beast

After the Parkland Shooting, the American media entered into another round of its “something must be done” (read as: your guns must be taken away) propaganda. One result of this was some of the biggest banks in the United States dropping or scaling back their relations with gun manufacturers.

JPMorgan Chase’s Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake crowed to reporters that the company’s relationship with firearms manufacturers “have come down significantly and are pretty limited.” Bank of America announced its intention to stop extending credit to business clients manufacturing “military-style weapons.” One must, of course, ask if this applies to companies engaged in supplying the United States military itself or the increasingly militarized police found in our nation’s cities.

Bank of America stopped short at stigmatizing the retailers who sell such weapons. Citigroup, however, took the step of requiring any of its business partners to restrict firearms sales to those over the age of 21, as well as those who have not passed a background check. They also barred their partners from selling so-called “high capacity magazines” and bump stocks, which were later banned.

Amalgamated Bank went perhaps the furthest of all, refusing to invest any of its assets in companies involved in the manufacture of “firearms, weaponry and ammunition.”

This leads into another aspect of corporate gun control: Not only is the left demanding that big banks snoop around in your legal purchases, the banks are also starting to make it more difficult for gun manufacturers to obtain the financial services banks would never dare to deny to any other law-abiding company simply on the basis of what they sell.

There is, of course, consumer push-back. For example, the somewhat successful boycott of Dick’s Sporting Goods after it ceased selling so-called “assault weapons.” But Dick’s is still in business and still not selling scary black rifles. And while you can do your business with a competitor, it still doesn’t change the fact that the message has been sent: Companies can remove legal items from their shelves in a politicized fashion with virtually no meaningful consequences.

There is also the growing specter of private companies banning customers from carrying in their stores. Huffington Post compiled a list of seven companies who do not want legal firearms being carried in their businesses. Outback Steakhouse was at the center of a story where a law enforcement officer was asked to leave because he was carrying, something that he is required to do when he is in uniform. Salesforce, a popular software platform for online retailers, will no longer do business with companies who sell virtually all forms of semi-automatic weapons.

Microsoft has put language in its Code of Conduct that prevents users from using them “in any way that promotes or facilitates the sale of ammunition and firearms.” This is another sweeping example of corporate attempts to infringe upon America’s Second Amendment rights. There is nothing illegal or immoral about owning, selling or promoting firearms. Indeed, the right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment.

This is a form of corporate coercion that shows the limitations of simply relying upon the Constitution and the free market to ensure one’s rights are respected. It’s hard to imagine that the Founders would simply have thrown up their hands and accepted that corporations were making it impossible for them to exercise their rights simply because there was nothing “unconstitutional” about it.

Beyond this, however, there are two rather frightening developments.

The first is several liberal state governments skinning the cat from the other end. Rather than making it difficult or impossible to purchase firearms, they are going after the National Rifle Association. While many well-meaning people in the Second Amendment movement consider the NRA to be weak tea (and not without good reason), the fact remains that the NRA is the most public and prominent opponent of gun grabbers. The fall of the NRA at the hands of gun grabbers (as opposed to more principled pro-Second Amendment groups) would spell disaster for gun rights in America, setting a precedent that would be used against other organizations protecting gun freedom.

The State of New York, led by Andrew Cuomo, has started attacking insurance programs offered by the NRA to its members. He has also attempted to threaten every insurer and bank in the state to not do business with the NRA. It is important to remember that the banking industry is largely centered in New York, meaning that the governor of that state has an outsized influence on how banking is done across the nation.

Another chilling example of corporate coercion goes beyond the Second Amendment and into the First: Popular veteran rights and gun blog “No Lawyers, Only Guns and Money” was removed from Blogger, a blogging platform owned by Google, on the grounds that it “promoted or sold regulated items.” The website was later restored with the explanation that it was removed by an automated system.

PayPal, the biggest payment processing system on the Internet, cannot be used for any exercise of your Second Amendment rights, nor to pay for dissident thinkers’ services such as Stefan Molyneux and Alex Jones or even Wikileaks. One is not obligated to support or defend the beliefs of any of these people or groups to see that a dangerous precedent is being set.

However, these are neither the first nor the only times that Big Tech has attempted to censor conservatives, libertarians, pro-gun freedom forces and others with opinions to the right of John McCain. Some have argued, not without solid evidence, that Big Tech is involved in a full-throttle war against conservatives and free speech on the Internet. We’re inclined to agree.

Big Tech’s War on Free Speech

There is a war against free speech and Big Tech is the one waging it. Congress has looked into this, with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas leading the charge, not allowing Facebook and other Big Tech companies to weasel out of answering hard questions that the public has about censorship on the Internet.

It’s less true to say that Facebook, Google and other Big Tech platforms “lean left” than it is to say that they push a globalist, neoliberal, corporatist line that eschews any sort of values or ethics other than growth. Edward Abbey has said that the philosophy of growth for the sake of growth is also the philosophy of the cancer cell.

The Big Tech war against free speech is nothing new and there have been canaries in the coal mine for years. Everyone remembers MILO being shown the door on Twitter for a dubious accusation that he led a mob against actress Leslie Jones. But the real test case was not him, it was hacker and troll Andrew Auernheimer, commonly known by his handle “weev.”

weev (always lowercase) is difficult to defend because he has unpopular viewpoints. To wit, he has a large swastika tattooed on his chest. However, proponents of the First Amendment and free speech shouldn’t be concerned with what weev thinks or says, because what he thinks or says is irrelevant to whether or not he has the right to think it and say it. But Twitter and other Big Tech platforms were smart in choosing such an ideological pariah to test the waters.

There is a direct line to be drawn from the deplatforming of weev on Twitter to the unpersoning of Alex Jones to the shadow banning and outright deplatforming of conservative voices all across the web. Mainstream, establishment conservatives have done themselves a disservice by attempting to defend themselves against deplatforming on the basis that “I’m not a Nazi” for two reasons.

First, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Nazi or not. All legal speech should be allowed on social media, or else Big Tech is an editorial content curator, which makes it liable for anything that is posted on there. This means that your ex-spouse lying about how you missed Little Timmy’s baseball game on Facebook can be construed as defamation, for which Facebook is liable because they didn’t remove the status update. Facebook’s pretense that it is a content-neutral platform, a claim that is patently false, is what protects it from being sued every time someone lies about someone else on the platform or from being hauled into court every time that ISIS uses WhatsApp to coordinate an attack.

But the other reason is that for many on the left, there is not a tangible difference between weev, MILO, Alex Jones, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Wayne LaPierre, Ted Cruz, Ben Sharpiro or the President of the United States. Anyone to the right of John McCain is seen as either a literal fascist, a fascist apologist, or a gatekeeper who opens the door to fascist ideology.

Big Tech will not stop at deplatforming actual, self-avowed fascists, nor will it stop at conspiracy theorists, edgy conservatives, or even “respectable” centrist types like Dave Rubin. To throw the far right under the bus in the hopes of satisfying Big Tech’s blood lust is a strategic mistake – it legitimizes the entire process of deplatforming, which will eventually swallow up anyone who believes in the Constitution and the rule of law. Big Tech and the left either see no difference between you and a Nazi, or pretend not to because it’s politically expedient.

This is doubly important because of how many Big Tech companies are actively spying on their users. The EFF maintains an annual detailed list of who is telling the government about its users and their data, who informs users that the government is sniffing around about them, and who even bothers to disclose their data retention policies.

What this means is that if and when the federal government begins compiling a list of “potential right-wing terrorists” or “right-wing extremists” (to the extent that they do not already maintain such lists), they will have a ready-made mine of data from Big Tech, who have shown themselves to be more than willing to cooperate with the federal government, with minimal or no arm-twisting on the part of the feds. Take, for example, the Philadelphia synagogue shooter. Self-proclaimed “free speech” platform Gab was more than willing to hand over all the data they had about his account to the feds without even being asked.

Sure, no one wants to be in the position of defending a synagogue shooter. But the point is that these platforms, even the ones who allegedly have your back, have shown themselves willing to roll on their users provided enough of a fever is whipped up in the press.

Conservatives Censored on Social Media

It’s worth showing just how many mainstream, run-of-the-mill conservatives have been censored by Big Tech – it’s not just the MILOs and the weevs of the world who are being shown the door. Indeed, we believe that these types are censored not out of any actual desire to suppress so-called “hate speech,” but instead to act as a test case for setting the precedent for suppressing legal speech. Here are some examples that are worth considering:

  • Pastor Rich PenkoskiThis pastor runs a popular Facebook page, “Warriors for Christ.” He was suspended mid-sermon for criticizing the rainbow flag. He was previously banned for calling an atheist a liar and sharing verses from the Quran that called for the killing of non-Muslims.
  • Over Two Dozen Catholic PagesIn July 2017, Facebook banned several Catholic pages with millions of followers. Most were based in Brazil. Facebook removed the pages without explanation.
  • Rep. Marsha BlackburnNot even elected officials are immune from social media deplatforming. Facebook removed an ad for Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s campaign that attacked pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood.
  • Alveda KingFacebook removed paid ads from Martin Luther King’s niece Alveda King for her documentary on Roe v. Wade.
  • Ryan T. AndersonTwitter refused to run several ads from Christian radio stations for an upcoming interview with Ryan T. Anderson. Anderson is a critic of             transgenderism and radical gender ideology.
  • Robert SpencerThe head of JihadWatch.org, a website covering radical Islam, was removed from social media and even had his credit cards canceled. He also claims that Google buries him in results for searches about “jihad.”
  • Brian FisherThe President of the Human Coalition notes that this anti-abortion group has had prayer apps removed from the Apple store and has had its content repeatedly removed from Twitter despite taking pains to ensure that all of it is within Twitter’s narrow, anti-First Amendment guidelines.
  • PragerUPragerU is very much the picture of mainstream, run-of-the-mill, completely non-edgy conservatism on the Internet. Despite this, they repeatedly have their content removed from YouTube. Dennis Prager, head of PragerU, is suing YouTube. He notes that Delta Air Lines couldn’t say “conservatives can’t fly with us,” but YouTube, ostensibly a neutral platform, is effectively allowed to say that conservatives can’t use their services.
  • David Kyle FosterDavid Kyle Foster is a leader in the “ex-gay” movement, a group of Christians who claim that their religion has “cured” their homosexuality. His Vimeo channel, featuring over 700 personal testimonials, was pulled from Vimeo for being “hateful.”

Even the Declaration of Independence has been removed from Facebook as “hate speech” due to their “filtering program.” Yes, really. Nor is it only conservative groups who have been targeted. Moderates and leftists who don’t toe the party line – like Andy Ngo, Tim Pool and Michael Tracey – have likewise been targeted by deplatforming and shadowbanning.

Deplatforming is not limited to social media. Chase Bank has been accused of depriving conservative voices of banking services. This returns us to the Mark of the Beast notion: What good is free speech if banks – banks – can keep you from receiving payments. And how far off are we from seeing conservative voices deprived of their ability to pay?

Imagine showing up at the grocery store and finding out that your money’s no good because you have a concealed carry permit. Sound far-fetched? So would have having your bank account closed for being a conservative activist.

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? i.e., Who Watches the Watchers?

Of course, it’s important to ask for a list of left-wing groups who have been banned from social media. But somehow, left-wing groups – even those who violate the terms of service, such as several accounts dedicated to doxing right-wing accounts and inciting violence against conservatives, libertarians and others on the right – are allowed to operate with impunity.

Indeed, it is worth asking who decides what is against the rules at Facebook, Twitter, etc. There is an answer to this question: For Twitter, it’s a “Trust and Safety Council” comprised of 12 left-wing groups and one conservative group you’ve probably never heard of: The Network of Enlightened Women. The 12 left-wing groups include the Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD, both of whom have labeled mainstream conservative groups as “hate groups.”

For Facebook, they rely upon a “fact-checking” process that leverages Snopes and PolitiFact as impartial “fact checkers.” YouTube uses the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both left-wing groups known for their attacks on mainstream conservative organizations. Facebook, for its part, deleted 57 of over 200 “hate groups” demanded by the SPLC in August 2017.

What Is To Be Done?

The question after reading this becomes: What should be done, if anything?

It’s difficult to imagine a situation where government interference in Big Tech is going to have the desired outcome. The result might be more and greater censorship than existed before. However, it is worth noting that Sen. Ted Cruz, not exactly known as a proponent of Big Government, has been at the forefront of attempts to hold Big Tech accountable for its censorship of conservative voices on the Internet.

But it’s quite possible that new laws and regulations are not required. What is instead required is a more rigorous enforcement of the laws and regulations that are already on the books. To wit: Are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube content-neutral platforms or are they editorial platforms? If the former, then it would seem that their case for being able to censor legal speech on their platforms is legally flimsy. If the latter, then they are responsible for everything posted on their platforms by every user. Similarly, if Google is intentionally manipulating its results to yield a politicized result, that is likely in violation of existing telecommunications statutes.

The American shift from capitalism to corporatism has had dire unintended consequences: Power has coalesced in both Washington, D.C. and many tech and media companies, such that the latter can undermine American rights and manipulate American political opinion with impunity, while the former abdicates its oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

Deplatformed: How Big Tech Companies & Corporate America Subvert the Second Amendment originally appeared in the Resistance Library at Ammo.com.

#123 Paul Snow

#123 Paul Snow

CEO of Factom, Paul Snow, gives me the 101 on Factom. We also discuss blockchain use cases (especially having autonomy over your digital ID and data), tokenization, and the overall importance of bitcoin and crypto. This is how we become sovereign individuals.

Factom is a decentralized publication protocol for building record systems that are immutable and independently verifiable, and uses Bitcoin as that anchor of verification.

Don’t trust, verify!

We received our education about tokenized salvation, me and Paul 🙂

– Probably not Willie Nelson

Rep. Adam Schiff’s Constitutional Malfeasance

Rep. Adam Schiff’s Constitutional Malfeasance

I have to be honest. I haven’t paid a whole lot of attention to the kabuki theater better know as the Trump impeachment proceedings.

Mainly because I don’t care.

And it doesn’t really matter.

I mean seriously, there is virtually zero chance that the Senate will actually remove Donald Trump from office. We all know this. So, the Senate trial is really nothing more than a carefully orchestrated stage show.

And even if by some weird swirl in the political winds Trump gets removed from office, we end up with President Pence. I can’t quite picture this as an upgrade.

Pence is pretty much Trump minus the personality. Or any personality. We’d get the same foreign policy. We’d get the same domestic policy. But we wouldn’t get the amusing tweets.

So, anyway, I haven’t really been plugged into the whole impeachment thing. But I did accidentally catch part of Rep. Adam Schiff’s opening statement. And it was literally an accident. I was doing cardio at the gym and it was on every TV. Avoiding it was like trying to keep from getting the flu in the city health department waiting room. I had headphones on, but I kept getting sucked into the closed captioning. It was like a train wreck. I couldn’t look away.

Schiff’s monologue appeared to mostly consist of your typical political blah, blah, blah. Long on bluster, short on substance. Trump did bad stuff. He’s bad. Legal mumbo-jumbo. Ukraine. Rule of law. Trump’s bad. God bless America!

But one thing grabbed my attention simply because it annoyed the fire out of me. Schiff talked about the Constitution. I even saw him reference the Philadelphia Convention and the “intent of the framers.” He was apparently trying to justify the impeachment on constitutional grounds.

Here’s why this little part of his skit dug deep under my skin.

Adam Schiff doesn’t give two sh!ts about the Constitution.

In fact, he doesn’t even give one sh!t about the Constitution. He committed an atrocious act of constitutional malfeasance. He trotted it out to serve as a prop in his political theater. And when it was over, I’m 100 percent certain he crumpled it up and tossed his copy of America’s founding document in a heap in the back of his closet under his soiled underwear and sweaty socks.

That’s where he keeps it during most workdays. He sure as heck doesn’t drag it out and wave it around when he’s chairing the House Intelligence Committee and authorizing the NSA to peek at all the nudie photos on your computer.

While we’re on the subject, I’ll tell you another dirty little secret about Adam Schiff.

He doesn’t know anything about the Constitution.

I can say this with absolute certainty. How do I know? Because he’s a Harvard-educated lawyer. Lawyers by-and-large don’t know anything about the Constitution. And putting “Harvard-educated” in front of “lawyer” doesn’t change this fact.

But Mike, you ask. How can this be? If he went to law school, he must know a lot about constitutional law!

Well, that may well be. But go back and read what I wrote. I never said he doesn’t know constitutional law. I said he doesn’t know anything about the Constitution. There’s a big difference. Constitutional law is all about what a bunch of politically connected lawyers in black dresses employed by the Supreme Court said about the Constitution. That mostly has little to nothing to do with what the Constitution as ratified means.

Here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice. If you want to understand the Constitution, never talk to a lawyer.

Ever.

Talk to somebody who has actually studied the ratifying debates. (Or you could just read my book.)

Here’s the problem. The Constitution has been bastardized by a bunch of politicians with law degrees who throw some impressive-sounding credentials at you to convince you that they know more than you do. Then they trot out a bunch of dubious legal theories and judicial precedents to justify trampling your liberties and individual autonomy. These megalomaniacs could justify killing puppies and do it with a straight face. Sadder still, the half of the American population that identifies with the party proposing puppycide would enthusiastically cheer it on.

Believe me when I say this; this autocratic brood of sociopaths doesn’t care about “founding principles,” or “constitutional fidelity” or “the rule of law.”

One thing drives them — power.

So how do we stop them?

The first step is to stop gracing them with the mantel of legitimacy. Learn about the Constitution as ratified and when they drag it out on stage, call them on it. Reveal their hypocrisy. Unmask their ignorance.

When people start to realize that these people are no better than the ambulance-chasing lawyers on TV, maybe they’ll stop listening to them.

Schiff caricature by DonkeyHotey.

‘The Person Advocating Violence Is The Fed!’

‘The Person Advocating Violence Is The Fed!’

A lot of people have heard my “liberty story.” It’s the common, “I saw Ron Paul confront Rudy Giuliani on the debate stage in 2007” narrative. Then the reading started; pretty much every “libertarian” book I could get my hand on. For two years all I did was read. Attending a Campaign for Liberty event in Atlanta in 2010 or 2011 sealed the deal and I was all in. 

What most people don’t know is that soon thereafter I became interested in what many refer to as the “Sovereign Citizens.” I came across a few online that invited me to Skype chats to discuss the illegitimacy of the government. One of the main issues people have with those referring to themselves as “Sovereign Citizens” is that a few advocated violence and straight up theft from individuals. This was not the group that I talked to. These were people who came up with scripts of what to say to a judge in a courtroom to get the case dismissed. They advocated peaceful resistance based on education, not belligerence. They always said that if it gets to the point where you’re getting emotional, they’ve won, that they thrive on you being combative.  

It was in one of these groups that I heard a phrase that I’ve heard many times since; “If someone in these groups starts advocating the use of violence, they’re a Fed.” That stuck to me like glue and it’s an alarm that has been ringing in my head a lot lately. 

The Virginia Lobby Day Gun Rally 

Most of the people I follow and interact with on social media would consider themselves to be for personal liberty. Or at least that’s their message. My Facebook and Twitter accounts are purposely set up to not interact with family or friends. The overwhelming majority of them are still stuck in the two-party system and I don’t want to interact with them especially when other people can see the posts and start a dog-pile. I consider family important and am not going to abandon them because they’re where I was 13 years ago.  

All of that being said, the amount of people that I witnessed not only advocating for violent uprising against the State, but calling the Virginia rally a LARP because no shots were fired honestly shocked me. The only reason I’m either “friends” with them on Facebook, or interact with them on Twitter, is because I assumed, they were logical, liberty-minded thinkers.  

 Some of the sentiment I witnessed goes like this: 

 Tyrants only understand you’re serious if you’re pointing guns at them! (this one was “liked” by a “liberty-minded” person whose show I have appeared on) 

 Commenting on the guillotine that was wheeled into downtown Richmond, someone said:  

 The fact that it was dismantled before it was dripping with blood proves this was all a LARP! 

Other comments lamented the lack of violence, especially since the Virginia Senate voted to send the House a bill instituting a Red Flag law the next day. Bill SB 16 which would have been an assault weapons ban that hinted at confiscation has been rescinded but that doesn’t mean that that part of the fight is over. 

Is Violent Revolution the Answer? 

Many are frustrated that a state as “red” as Virginia has been taken over by the “blue” team. Making the joke that you all need to “vote harder” probably isn’t helpful but it makes me chuckle. But seriously, there may come a time that they become tyrannical and all peaceful options have been exhausted. That’s not right now. As I warned in an article prior to the rally, the powers that be control the narrative, but the country saw the white supremacist portrayal debunked when people across the racial and political spectrum came together to celebrate their love of guns. That was a win for everyone except the coastal elites. You have a country on your side. A few randos firing off shots would have destroyed that.  

Which brings me back to the title of this piece. People have heard that the FBI infiltrates peaceful groups who gather to celebrate liberty and to talk about how they can peacefully remove themselves from the power of the government. The FBI radicalizes otherwise peaceful Muslims to continue “The War on Terror.” When I see people who on one hand promote liberty, but on the other advocate for violent, disorganized revolution, I have to wonder whether they’re ignorant, or there to promote an agenda advantageous to the State. It certainly is something to consider. 

Law Enforcement Respects The Constitution?

Law Enforcement Respects The Constitution?

With the 2nd Amendment rally scheduled for Richmond, Virginia’s “Lobby Day” now completed, those who warned against “agent provocateurs,” and other possible hazards, get to breathe a sigh of relief and be thankful for being wrong. The narrative that this was going to be an event dominated by “white supremacists” was proven empirically false by photos that came out showing a racially and politically diverse crowd of people who showed up to communicate to the world that they have one thing in common; their belief that the right to own firearms to protect themselves is a universal idea that only seems to be bemoaned by the most loud and obnoxious “coastal elites” on Twitter, as well as those who believe they are the rulers of the people because they won a popularity contest.  

Among the photos that have been circulated from the event is one that shows unidentified law enforcement officers carrying a banner with the American flag on it that includes the words, “We Support the Second Amendment.” To those who closely monitor the State’s enforcement arm, this is a confusing message. The question needs to be asked; do you? 

Virginia’s New Gun Laws 

As was discussed in a previous article, the Virginia senate has passed three gun bills that are now being sent to the house for consideration that would see it become one of the most restrictive states in America when it comes to firearms ownership. 

Bill SB35, which would “allow localities to ban guns from public events, would actually repeal the current law that restricts localities from enforcing ordinances that would prohibit the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carry, storage, or transport of firearms or ammunition.”  

Bill SB69 “amends the current law, only allowing Virginia residents to purchase one handgun a month, or in a 30-day period.”  

Bill SB70 “requires a background check on all private transfers of firearms.” 

If these bills pass the house, and the governor signs them into law (as he has promised he will), will Virginia law enforcement do as their sign claims and support the Second Amendment over their boss’ own mandate? Will they enforce these three bills, the worst of which amounts to a gun registry? 

Why is the Second Amendment a Bridge Too Far? 

Anyone who has spent any time around groups that promote the “American Gun Culture” has heard the claims from not only law enforcement (they are represented mightily), but from their acolytes that police are defenders of the Constitution and would never enforce gun control laws. “They would quit before they took an American citizen’s God-given right to own firearms!” When you point out occasions where law enforcement has not only shown up to take someone’s guns, but killed them in the process, you’re met with everything from excuses about how that was done in a liberal area, to the inevitable back pedaling about how maybe some people shouldn’t be trusted with guns.  

When one points out that they already violate the Constitution by not only trampling over the First Amendment, but especially the Fourth, that’s when the dancing really begins. 

The First Amendment 

The First Amendment to the United States says: 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 

Article 1, Section 12 of the Virginia Constitution states:  

That the freedoms of speech and of the press are among the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained except by despotic governments; that any citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; that the General Assembly shall not pass any law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, nor the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for the redress of grievances. 

Both the US and Virginia Constitutions give people the right to “peaceably assemble.” Is that in fact true? According to the ACLU there are conditions upon which one may have to acquire a permit to do just that in Virginia.  

Do we need to get a permit? The need for a permit depends on the type and size of event, as well as the locality in which it will be held. Generally, events requiring a permit include: 1) A march or parade that does not stay on the sidewalk and other events that require blocking traffic or street closure; 2) A large rally requiring the use of sound amplifying devices; or 3) A rally at certain designated parks or plazas. 

Properly understood, a permit is when the State takes a guaranteed “right” away, and sells it back to you by either requiring a fee, or for you to ask permission from them. At this point your “right” has been transformed into a privilege, something you must ask permission for.  

And if you did decide to bypass the “permit” process and declare your rights, who is going to be there to enforce these statutes? No, not the people at the window who take the fee and paperwork you have so dutifully filled out; it will be the law enforcement officer. You will be confronted by a man/woman with a gun and they will stop you from exercising your “rights.” 

Privacy? 

The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution reads: 

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 

One need only to go to YouTube and search “traffic stop” videos to know that the Fourth Amendment’s right to be secure in your person and possessions is a thing of the past. An individual’s vehicle, which many states have extended “Castle Doctrine” to, can be rifled through after the officer utters the phrase, “I smell marijuana.” It doesn’t matter if they actually do or not, the courts have interpreted privacy out of existence and local and state law enforcement happily use these phrases to gain access to your private spaces. 

The most egregious of these laws is “Civil Asset Forfeiture” in which you do not have to be convicted of a crime, only suspected, and local law enforcement can seize your bank account, home, anything they deem to be part of a criminal “conspiracy” or “drug nexus.” In the event you are found innocent you do not automatically have your property returned to you; you must petition to get it back. 

It was determined that in 2014 that the property taken from individuals by law enforcement was greater than all burglaries by criminals combined that year. And law enforcement uses the seized belongings for their benefit 

 

Many will no doubt applaud Virginia law enforcement for showing up to the January 20th rally to proclaim that they support the Second Amendment. It has been proven that State policy enforcers will enforce gun laws and already do when it comes to the National Firearms Act of 1934, et al. Yet, most fail to consider how they so easily enforce other laws that blatantly violate protected Constitutional rights such as assembly and privacy. One should afford people respect and consideration when it comes to their word but prior action is always a better gauge when taking into account people’s future behavior. 

Virginia Second Amendment Advocates Beware!

Virginia Second Amendment Advocates Beware!

The Virginia senate has passed three gun bills that are now being sent to the house for consideration that would see it become one of the most restrictive states in America when it comes to firearms ownership. A reading of the laws would put Virginia close to New Jersey from a legal standpoint when it comes to the ease at which one will be able to procure property guaranteed by its own state constitution. 

Bill SB35 which would “allow localities to ban guns from public events, actually would repeal the current law that restricts localities from enforcing ordinances that would prohibit the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carry, storage, or transport of firearms or ammunition.” 

Bill SB69 “amends the current law, only allowing Virginia residents to purchase one handgun a month, or in a 30-day period.” 

Bill SB70 “requires a background check on all private transfers of firearms.” 

In response to the three bills that went to the house, the NRA (who has grown out of favor with many pro-2A people in recent years over their non-response to the Philando Castile shooting, but mostly due to their willingness to cave to lawmakers) issued the following statement: 

“Regrettably, Virginia lawmakers approved a series of measures today that will make it harder for law-abiding Virginians to protect themselves, while doing nothing to stop criminals. We are pleased one of the most egregious gun confiscation bills was pulled from consideration. The NRA will continue our work with lawmakers to find solutions that address the root cause of violent crime, rather than punishing honest, hardworking Virginians.” 

The “Boogaloo” Bill Has Been Canceled 

The most controversial of the proposed bills, SB16 “was struck from the record, which included the ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers.”  

This is the bill that was seen by most pro-2A activists as an act of aggression by the Governor Northam led, Democratically-controlled, Virginia legislature. In no uncertain terms, Northam let it be known that this bill meant that anyone in possession of any weapon/accessory under the statute’s purview (inevitably the lawmakers could make any weapon/accessory fall under the jurisdiction of this law), would be confiscated by state agents.  

As one might imagine, Virginia gun owners immediately started planning what they would be willing to do to stop this tyranny from happening. Terms such as the “boogaloo” started to be seen everywhere on social media. The term has been taken to mean a second Civil War or another American Revolution. In this context it specifically references gun-grabbers but can easily be tied to either of the previous descriptions. 

With this one bill being eliminated the fight against what essentially creates a gun registry in Virginia continues. 

A Planned Rally and the Governor’s Response 

The Virginia Citizens Defense League is planning a lobbying day and rally for Monday January 20th at the state capitol grounds in Richmond. Gun rights supporters will meet to protest the new laws. 

In response, Governor Northam has declared a “State of Emergency” claiming that “officials” have heard reports of “out-of-state militia groups and hate groups planning to travel from across the country to disrupt our democratic process with acts of violence.” He continued saying, they “are coming to intimidate and to cause harm.” 

“Northam is raising concerns about a reprise of the deadly violence surrounding the white supremacist march in Charlottesville in August 2017. He said state intelligence analysts have identified threats and rhetoric online that mirror the chatter they were picking up around that time.” 

The New York Times reported on Thursday, January 16th, that the FBI arrested three suspected neo-Nazis of purchasing guns with the intention of attending the Richmond rally 

Taking all of this into consideration, Governor Northam banned the carrying of any weapons at the rally. That decision was contested but upheld by a judge. 

This “racist” narrative is to be expected and one that protesters must take into consideration; almost accept as a given. 

White Supremacists, Racists and Radicals 

This is how the protesters will be painted in the press. It won’t matter if half of the activists there are black and Hispanic; the corporate press has reported before on someone carrying an “assault weapon” at an Obama appearance but conveniently omitted a picture revealing that he was African-American.  

No, this will be about “white nationalists” “clinging to their guns and religion,” and that “outdated” Constitution.  

Agent Provocateurs 

Anyone considering going to a rally in which it has already been expressly declared by the state that they are expecting violence has to watch out for the agent provocateur. One need look no further than the Oakland, California protest against police violence where it was revealed that California Highway Patrol had undercover officers amongst the protesters for weeks before their cover was blown. When their ruse was discovered, one of the officers pulled a gun on his “fellow protesters.” 

Another tactic that must be brought up is federal law enforcement’s history of infiltrating  groups and pushing them towards violence. Since 9/11/01 this has been a recurring narrative that has been uncovered yet largely ignored by the corporate press. 

All it will take at the Richmond rally is for one “provocateur” to fire off a couple of rounds and the story concocted by Northam and his friends in the media will take hold and mainstream public support will jump right to the state (which is where their sentiments already lean). 

It cannot be argued that the laws going through the legislature in Virginia are not only against the US Constitution, but against that state’s very own. The impulse to fight back against this tyranny is strong and has garnered support throughout the country. The most noxious bill, SB16, (the one that would have the state trying to confiscate AR-15s), has been trashed due to the public’s outcry, showing the power masses of people speaking out and protesting can still have. In 2016 a bill was getting pushed through the Virginia legislature to remove the religious exemption from vaccines but a vocal group protested and it was scrapped.  

Contrary to popular belief, letting the powers that be know that this isn’t going to work and you have something to say about it often makes them stop in their tracks. Protest at the state capital, do it peacefully. Violence should be the last resort, the one you never want to go to except when nothing else can be done. But remember, a rally like the one planned is a powder-keg, and the powers that be hold all of the cards to paint the people as the villains were something to break out. In the struggle against tyrants be careful that they don’t turn the tables and have the public screaming for your heads as they have done so many times before.  

Who Rigs Every Oscar Night? – Freedom Philosophy

Who Rigs Every Oscar Night? – Freedom Philosophy

Ricky Gervais dropped his bombshell comedy act on Hollywood’s elite at the Golden Globes, and it’s raising some interesting questions. Should Hollywood stars be opining on their particular platforms?

This isn’t a comment on the politics of free speech. Clearly, they have the political right to do as they please, provided that the private property owners acquiesce.

It’s more of a comment on etiquette.

If I were the CEO of a major company, and given that if I were at an office party, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to interrupt the gathering to give a lecture on my religious beliefs. At the very least, I wouldn’t take it well if I were a low-level employee having to hear my boss opine during a business meeting telling me about his atheism (the bar after work is a different matter).

My major issue is that most Hollywood celebrities don’t possess sophisticated views on politics or religion. Even Ricky Gervais uses his platform to espouse criticisms of religion that second-year philosophy students who even agree with him would roll their eyes at.

Hollywood celebrities like Ben Stein need no accolades to their intellect. Others like Penn Jillette and Natalie Portman, who often give opinions where I agree with them and often I disagree with them, strike me as people whose thoughts are rooted in deep study rather than cheap hearsay or short soundbites. But this can’t be said of Hollywood as a whole.

Herein lies the heart of the matter. As we approach the 2020 Oscars, we will no doubt hear of the problems of maleness, white privilege, and the like. Meanwhile, rural Americans are praying their home won’t be repossessed as their cities are hollowed out and emptied. Mothers in Yemen, slaves in Libya, and refugees in Syria will be howling because of wars instigated and supported by Democrats while Hollywood cries fowl because some millionaires are overlooked by other millionaires and turn to the Democratic Party for support.

Nothing will more signify the eliteness of Hollywood than Meryl Streep chastising Donald Trump for mocking a disabled journalist, and speaking down to Republicans while ignoring the fact that Obama had bombed a hospital – filled with disabled people. This is the Oscar political philosophy in a nutshell.

Although I am not fully aware of every skin tone or genitalia configuration, many people are suffering from the decisions of the Democratic Party while academia, Hollywood, journalists, politicians, coastal elites, socialites, aren’t suffering but rather are benefiting. Streep’s latest Hollywood production, The Laundromat, was difficult for those of us who face the realities of these evils every day, while she made millions off of her poorly-informed artistic preachments.

I don’t know how more neatly and philosophically to articulate this, but I couldn’t possibly care less what these people think. They prosper while people who live under their pronouncements struggle for life or to keep the families together.

Are the award shows, the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the appropriate venue for expressions of condemnation on issues these people typically know nothing about? I would envision that the Filipino community would not appreciate my views on their hardships if I have studied them neither academically nor experientially.

In the same vane, I envision that the lot of us feel an irritation by Hollywood Oscar elites complaining about middle America, the rural west, or the plight of Middle Easterns, when they themselves appear wholly detached both intellectually and experientially from these realities.

Reprinted from the Being Libertarian.

Conservatives Are Increasingly Wrong about Free Markets

Conservatives Are Increasingly Wrong about Free Markets

Capitalism creates poverty. Capitalism has stolen our future. Capitalism ravages the planet. Capitalism oppresses us. Capitalism needs to be controlled by government or it will throw most of us into poverty and misery and enrich only the well-placed few.

These are not missives from The Nation or the Daily Worker, although no doubt the writers from those publications would share the sentiments. No, these diatribes against the market economy come from the American Conservative. Of course, it is hardly the only conservative publication that rails against the market system, as First Things can also be counted on to speak out against the evils of an economy based on private property, a price system, and profit and loss. For that matter, before it fell to the grim reaper, the Weekly Standard also raised its voice against markets. Pat Buchanan has been railing against free trade and free markets for years.

So, what is the case that conservatives make against a market system, and how do they justify the kind of government intervention that perhaps in a sober moment they might realize will have the opposite effects of what is allegedly intended? What is the so-called case against the market, and why do some conservatives believe that coercion can create a better economy and better society?

There are numerous issues that we must examine to answer these questions, and the first is this: what exactly is the conservative case against the market? Why are prominent conservatives attacking capitalism?

In a word, change. Capitalism brings change, and bedrock conservatism is anti-change at its core. To better understand that point, we need to go back nearly seventy years to the 1950s, a time that apparently both conservatives and progressives wish to freeze in time. Whether one reads Pat Buchanan or Paul Krugman, the message seems to be similar: this was a golden era for American workers and businesses, a time when the government tightly managed the financial system and key industries were heavily regulated, from transportation to telecommunications.

In a recent article, the American Conservative declared that during the 1950s organized labor “gave capitalism its ballast.” Writes James Pinkerton:

In fact, for a time after World War II, America’s national political leadership was mostly reconciled to strong unions, abuses and all — because the alternative was deemed vastly worse.

In those mid-century years, people remembered what it was like when unions were weak or nonexistent, when unfettered capital was free to grind the face of labor. Such immiseration was seen as a leading cause of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia — and nobody wanted that to happen here.

Moreover, the Great Depression was an even more recent memory. Thus the Keynesian wisdom held that it was vital to boost workers’ pay so as to keep purchasing power in their hands; they could, after all, be counted on to spend their money and thereby keeping the economy going. In those years, fear of a Depression-ish capital strike was far stronger than fear of a labor strike.

Ballast balances ships to keep them from capsizing at sea. In Pinkerton’s view, organized labor kept the economy “balanced” by keeping “unfettered capital” at bay and preventing it from oppressing labor.

Economically speaking, such a statement only can be called nonsense. As Carl Menger so aptly put it in his 1871 Principles, it was the development of capital goods that raised living standards and provided labor with real wealth increases. Far from grinding the face of labor, it was private capital — and capitalism — that gave them the benefits that people like Pinker attribute to the violence of organized labor.

Writing about labor and the 1950s, Pinkerton declares,

strong unions shaped society. Picket lines were not to be crossed, and work rules — detailing which worker could do which job — were strictly enforced (unless there was a payoff).

To anyone much younger than a Baby Boomer, the impact of unionization is hard to comprehend, because over the last four or so decades, we simply haven’t seen incidents such as the one in 1956, when the Teamsters blocked all deliveries to the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan because of a jurisdictional dispute over the hotel’s barbers.

Still, this Baby Boomer, who grew up near Chicago, well remembers what it was like to live in a strong union town. For instance, meat wasn’t for sale on Sundays. Why not? Because the butchers had work rules to prevent such selling — and that was that. Then there was McCormick Place, the big convention center that was a steady source of scandal-mongering newspaper stories: about union featherbedding, prohibitive labor costs, and the occasional disappeared load of cargo.

Of course, sometimes, union matters got worse than that: incidents of union-related strong-arming, leg breaking—even the occasional murder—were in the news.

Nothing Pinkston has described can build an economy, and it certainly cannot build wealth. Instead, he has described classic plunder, in which people seeking the opportunity to make a living were beaten, threatened, and even murdered for the “crime” of wanting to do something without the permission of organized labor. And according to the American Conservative, we should want to return to such a regime, which supposedly dominated the 1950s.

Perhaps we should be wary of labeling the 1950s a golden era, even though the theme of the 1950s as Oz reverberates from Paul Krugman to Pat Buchanan to Tucker Carlson. To Krugman, marginal tax rates were 90 percent and organized labor ruled the workplace, which, in his view, preserved a balance in US society that no longer exists. Conservatives like Buchanan see American industry from steel to automobiles to textiles as having been seemingly unchallenged in the world, protected by tariffs double the rates we see today.

That idyllic economic landscape, in Buchanan’s view, disappeared in the 1980s, when Americans began to buy goods, from automobiles to clothing, that were imported. Workers in Third World lands that once sold Americans nothing at all began to undercut the high American wages that both Krugman and Buchanan believe were central to US prosperity. As Buchanan and other conservative critics of the market economy put it, less protectionism and the lure of “slave wages” overseas enabled capitalists to gear their investments “in a race to the bottom.” Such a scenario did not exist in the 1950s. Make cars in Mexico and in South Korea? Not a chance.

Before we call for the return of tax, labor, and trade policies in the decade of poodle skirts, sock hops, and ubiquitous picket lines, however, we should remember that a third of Americans then lived in poverty, much of it abject. Jim Crow laws were on the books, and racial discrimination was embedded in American life in a way that most people today would not be able to comprehend. The government organized key industries, from banking and finance to all forms of transportation and telecommunications, into regulated cartels that forced Americans to pay higher prices for just about everything. If you wanted economic opportunity, you usually needed a union card or a connection to government regulators and politicians.

Yet, there is an appeal to the nostalgia of the company towns and the seeming stability of the working-class towns. I lived in such a place in southeast Pennsylvania from the mid-1950s to mid-1960s, until I was almost eleven years old, and I remember knowing people who worked at places like US Steel, the Sun Oil refinery, Ford Motor Company, Baldwin Locomotive Works, and Sun Shipbuilding. Ours was a middle-class town, and it was the rare worker that was not a member of a labor union.

The industries that once buttressed my former hometown no longer exist, from the oil refinery two miles from my house to the other manufacturing facilities that employed my neighbors. They are shuttered, many of the buildings and fixtures sold for scrap or having been transformed into large, empty lots. This is Rust Belt scenery and the ruin porn is repeated on the Eastern Seaboard and in towns in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and elsewhere. Many old working-class towns once held together by a single manufacturing plant that has closed are left to struggle, and some places are transformed into what some have called the “Heroin Belt.”

Conservative critics tend to agree with politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren about the cause of this economic and social decline, and they increasingly are willing to accept the “solutions” these politicians are demanding, from high tax rates on businesses and individuals to both internal and external protection. And like Sanders and Warren, these conservative market critics blame “corporate greed” for the changes that new investment patterns bring to once prosperous manufacturing communities.

Like those on the Left, the anticapitalist conservatives want to preserve those places that we remember from years ago. What they fail to comprehend is that demanding that government hold back changes in capitalization along and in the methods by which firms make things, they also are demanding that government restrict changes in everything else. To put it another way, we cannot preserve the 1950s manufacturing economy and the mill village without restricting changes in the quality of medical care we receive, in telecommunications, and in transportation.

The old socialist countries provide an insightful lesson regarding the “freezing in time” syndrome. People who have visited places like present-day Cuba or spent time behind the Iron Curtain when the USSR and the eastern European satellites were in existence note that in many ways going there was like entering a time warp. However, this was not the experience one has when visiting an “old town” section of a modern city to see examples of lovely architecture from the past.

Instead, although the old architecture might have dominated in, say, Havana or Prague before the 1990s, everything looked old and run down. Yes, there was evidence of some of the glory of the old days, but for the most part, these places would evince grime, disrepair, and the lack of hope. If one does not want change, then one should go to Havana, where even the 1956 Chevys still are on the road.

For that matter, one does not need to bring back memories of communism to find examples of how the lack of change and development because of government restrictions can have negative effects. Look at American railroads before and after deregulation. As Milton Friedman pointed out in Free to Choose, the US rail system pre-1980 looked like something from the 1950s, and he contrasted the railroads with the US automobile industry, which was already coming out with new models every year.

Since the Jimmy Carter administration ended nearly a century of federal regulation of the railroad industry in 1980, American railroads have become a major factor in a stronger US economy. Michael Grunwald wrote in Time Magazine in 2012:

It’s not just that they are self-sufficient and fuel-efficient, employ 175,000 workers and have poured $500 billion into their trains, tracks and terminals since 1980. They are also quite literally the engines of our economy. America’s passenger rail is a global joke, but our freight rail is the envy of the world, carrying over 40% of our intercity cargo. Trains carry much less of Europe’s freight, which is why trucks clog Europe’s highways. And America’s rail-shipping rates are the world’s lowest, reducing the cost of doing business in the U.S.; they’ve fallen 45% in real dollars since the industry was deregulated three decades ago.

One only can imagine the objections we would hear today from TAC and conservative journalists such as Tucker Carlson if such a deregulatory proposal was to be presented today. “What about economic concentration?” “The railroads will jack up prices!” “Good service will disappear!” “What about safety?” “Won’t there be more derailments and rail accidents?” And so on.

The conservative case against free markets is based on the belief that if change disrupts the status quo in any way, or if companies impose cost reductions that result in a shifting of employment — or even some layoffs — then government should step in and take control. Now, I should add that the conservatives are not advocating outright state ownership or control — or at least that is what they are saying.

Of course, the notion that government will just regulate a little bit and only restrict a few things is fantasy. Likewise, anyone who believes that government regulation will reduce alleged economic concentration does not know the history of regulation. Before the late 1970s and early 1980s, the government essentially organized several industries into regulatory cartels, including passenger airlines, trucking, railroads, banking, and telecommunications. One might recall the numerous railroad bankruptcies that resulted in the formation of Conrail, which was nothing more than a government rail firm that covered the East Coast.

Telecommunications? The only game in town was AT&T and phone service was primitive compared to what it would become only a decade after the end the old regulatory regime. A relative free market transformed the rail industry, and trucking also has vastly increased its hauls. These industries are much more competitive now that government does not control rates and routes.

Since 1980, American living standards have increased in ways that no one then could have predicted. Free markets have played a major role, and one would think that conservatives would appreciate that fact. Instead, they present a picture of wise and paternalistic government that somehow can provide prosperity but still preserve our imaginary Norman Rockwell world.

Reprinted from the Mises Institute.

Black America Before LBJ: How the Welfare State Inadvertently Helped Ruin Black Communities

Black America Before LBJ: How the Welfare State Inadvertently Helped Ruin Black Communities

The dust has settled and the evidence is in: The 1960s Great Society and War on Poverty programs of President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) have been a colossal and giant failure. One might make the argument that social welfare programs are the moral path for a modern government.

They cannot, however, make the argument that these are in any way effective at alleviating poverty.

“We waged a war on poverty and poverty won.”

Lyndon B. Johnsons Great Society: How LBJs Welfare State Helped Ruin Black CommunitiesIn fact, there is evidence that such aggressive programs might make generational poverty worse. While the notion of a “culture of dependence” is a bit of a cliché in conservative circles, there is evidence that this is indeed the case – that, consciously or not, the welfare state creates a culture where people receive benefits rather than seeking gainful employment or business ownership.

This is not a moral or even a value judgment against the people engaged in such a culture. Again, the claim is not that people “choose to be on welfare,” but simply that social welfare programs incentivize poverty, which has an impact on communities that has nothing to do with individual intent.

We are now over 50 years into the development of the Great Society and the War on Poverty. It is time to take stock in these programs from an objective and evidence-based perspective. When one does that, it is not only clear that the programs have been a failure, but also that they have disproportionately impacted the black community in the United States. The current state of dysfunction in the black community (astronomically high crime rates, very low rates of home ownership and single motherhood as the norm) are not the natural state of the black community in the United States, but closely tied to the role that social welfare programs play. Or as Dr. Thomas Sowell stated:

“If we wanted to be serious about evidence, we might compare where blacks stood a hundred years after the end of slavery with where they stood after 30 years of the liberal welfare state. In other words, we could compare hard evidence on “the legacy of slavery” with hard evidence on the legacy of liberals.”

Here’s a peek into how black America has been a victim of LBJ’s Great Society and War on Poverty.

Defining Terms: What Is the Great Society and the War on Poverty?

Before going further, we must define the terms “Great Society” and “War on Poverty.” These are two overlapping, but somewhat distinct terms that are, in any event, not the same as “welfare” as a whole.

The “War on Poverty” refers to one part of the Great Society, namely the part focused specifically on poverty. When the War on Poverty was started in 1964, the poverty rate in America was 19 percent. Seeing an opportunity to recreate the same New Deal magic that had propelled President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the White House in four successive elections 30 years earlier, Johnson pushed his War on Poverty.

It’s worth noting that the New Deal has some success to boast in terms of lifting some extremely poor communities, particularly those in the rural South, out of grinding forms of poverty. This was through, for example, mass electrification and other similar campaigns, which radically redefined the experience of the poor in the United States. One can argue about the ethics of redistributive wealth programs, but one cannot argue about whether or not, for example, the electrification of the Tennessee Valley elevated people out of crushing and abject poverty – it did.

There are four primary initiatives of the War on Poverty:

  1. The Economic Opportunity Act: This was the flagship effort of the War on Poverty. It created the Community Action ProgramVolunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and Job Corps.
  2. The Food Stamp Act of 1964This created a food stamp program that remained largely in place until President Bill Clinton “ended welfare as we know it.” At this time, food stamps were open-ended and could, in theory, be a means of feeding a family for life.
  3. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1964This is known as the most sweeping legislation impacting education passed by the United States Congress. It sought to level an alleged “achievement gap” in public education. It has been reauthorized by both Democratic and Republican presidents under the names Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994No Child Left Behind Act of 2004, and the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.
  4. Social Security Act of 1965Created both Medicare and Medicaid.

The Economic Opportunity Act, in particular, was insidious in that it gave broad leeway to create programs without Congressional approval or oversight. An example of this is the Head Start program, which is shown to have only extremely limited and short-term effects on the ability of children to succeed in public schools.

The Great Society refers to a far broader set of programs, some of which still exist today, others of which were casualties of both the massive budget for the Vietnam War, LBJ’s other pet project, as well as the passage of time and subsequent Republican administrations. It’s difficult to summarize the Great Society as a whole, precisely because its scope was so broad. Education, health, welfare, culture (the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, for example, is a product of the Great Society), transportation, the environment, housing, labor and rural development were all areas where the Great Society had some hand.

Whereas the New Deal has demonstrably impacted communities with crushing and severe forms of poverty, the Great Society has demonstrably not only not “worked” by any available metric, it has also created a negative impact, most severely felt in the black community in the United States.

This article will make the case that the Great Society is the greatest disaster to befall America’s black community since slavery.

What Were the Goals of the Great Society?

Some discussion of the goals of the Great Society and its historical context are in order. The Great Society was seen by LBJ as nothing less than the completion of the New Deal as pioneered by his predecessor and mentor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Lyndon B. Johnsons Great Society: How LBJs Welfare State Helped Ruin Black CommunitiesThe thinking was basically this: The New Deal proved that government intervention could have some impact on poverty. As we stated above, there is some truth to this, albeit in a limited sense. The New Deal was able to lift incredibly poor people out of what were effectively Third World conditions in the United States. Because Johnson had at his disposal “the best and the brightest,” he believed that all he needed to do was apply their technocratic acumen to the problem of poverty and it would be solved.

One of the glaring and immediate differences between the New Deal (where it was successful) and the Great Society was the definition of poverty. Poverty, the kind the New Deal was effective at reducing, was largely an objective condition. For example, people without electricity or running water in their homes. For the Great Society programs, however, poverty was largely defined in subjective, albeit quantifiable, terms like educational attainment and income level.

Here’s the problem with defining poverty in those terms: We now live in a world where the overwhelming majority of people who wish to get one can obtain a college degree. All this has done is devalue the college degree and saddle people with both unmarketable skill sets and a high level of nondischargeable debt. A college degree simply doesn’t mean much anymore because anyone who wants one can have one.

Similarly, consider income in real terms – the ability to buy things. The poorest people in America now have access to more computing power in their pocket than NASA used to go to the moon. Cheap consumer goods are plentiful, even for people with very low incomes – part-time minimum wage jobs, for example.

Poverty, defined as “making much less than rich people” or even “struggling to get by” simply means one is at the bottom of the economic ladder. The bottom of the economic ladder will always exist as long as there is one. Grinding, Third-World-style poverty – in the vast overwhelming majority of cases – is a thing of the past. The United Nations puts the percentage of Americans with access to electricity at 100.

A report estimated that 1.6 million Americans lack access to “clean” water, “clean” here being a weasel word that is undefined. Even if we took the 1.6 million figure at face value (which we should not), this means that approximately 0.48 percent of all Americans (i.e., less than half of one percent) do not have access to “clean” water.

In the absence of significant poverty conditions to attack, the “War on Poverty” was largely about hitting a moving target subjectively defined as “having less than some other people.”

Despite the best intentions (to which, it should be noted, “the road to hell is paved with”), the Great Society was bound to fail simply because there were no clear targets. In this sense, the War on Poverty prefigured other government wars on abstract concepts, such as the War on Drugs and the War on Terror.

The failure, of course, is seen by big government advocates as a sign that not enough has been done. Since the War on Poverty began, $15 trillion has been spent, with negligible impact on lifting people out of poverty. For context, the Apollo program cost $25.4 billion, $146.1 billion in 2019 dollars. Put simply, for the cost of the War on Poverty, America could have funded almost seven Apollo programs.

Unlike the War on Poverty, the Apollo program was a resounding and verifiable success.

The Breakdown of the Black Family

“The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.”

The biggest problem resulting from the Great Society is the breakdown of the black family. This is a sensitive subject, but one that must be broached to fully understand the devastating impact that the Great Society has had on the black community in the United States.

In 1965, when the Great Society began in earnest following the massive electoral landslide reelection of LBJ, the out-of-wedlock birthrate among the black community was 21 percent. By 2017, this figure had risen to a whopping 77 percent. In some cities, this rate is as high as 80 percent, with most of the unwed mothers being teenagers. We have documented extensively in our article on the death of civil society in the United States the negative effects of the single-parent household on child development and outcomes. The black community is now entering its third generation of single parenthood as the norm, something that rose astronomically with the advent of the Great Society.

To provide some historical context, the out-of-wedlock birth rate in the black community was already rising before the Great Society. In 1938, that rate stood at 11 percent. Still, it’s worth noting the difference between the slow and steady increase of 1938 to 1965, and the explosive growth from 1965 until the present day. In any event, black women were more likely to be married than white women as late as 1950. It’s also worth looking at single parenthood over time: In the 1950s, 52 percent of all black children lived with both parents until the age of 17. By the 1980s, that number had plummeted to 6 percent.

In addition to outcomes, there is also a wide divide between the percentage of black families in poverty when there is a father present. Among married black families, the poverty rate is 8 percent. Among black households headed by a single mother, that rate jumps to 37 percent.

And again, while we outline a number of negative consequences resulting from single-parent families, it’s worth pulling one out in relation to the destruction of the black family in America: There is no better predictor of male criminality than being raised in a fatherless home. 70 percent of all juvenile offenders in state reform institutions were raised in fatherless homes. This includes 60 percent of all rapists, 72 percent of all murderers, and 70 percent of long-term inmates.

Black Participation in the Labor Market

There is another statistic that is significant when it comes to evaluating the role of the Great Society in the destruction of the black family and, by extension, black society: participation in the labor market.

This is an important metric for a very simple reason: Few would argue that it’s better to not work than to work. Data provided by every census between 1890 and 1954 shows that black Americans were just as active – and sometimes more – in the labor market than their white counterparts. In 1900, for example, black unemployment was 15 percent lower than white unemployment. In 2017, it was 30 percent higher.

If the conventional narrative on black American poverty and general social dysfunction were correct – that this was caused by the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and private discrimination – wouldn’t we expect to see a decline in black unemployment rather than the opposite?

Black Business Ownership

Lyndon B. Johnsons Great Society: How LBJs Welfare State Helped Ruin Black CommunitiesOf course, participation in the labor market is not the only metric of economic activity. Another is business ownership. The years between 1900 and 1930 are known as “the Golden Age of Black Entrepreneurship.” By 1920, there were tens of thousands of black businesses in the United States, the overwhelming majority of them very small, single proprietorship. This in no way diminishes the importance of this sector of the black economy. People who had, in many cases, started their lives as slaves were now, even when “poorer” in terms of income, freer than many of their white counterparts who worked for wages.

There was also a social aspect to this period of black entrepreneurship. Black insurance companies and black-owned banks represent the apex of the economic pyramid in the black community. While the black community was comparatively poorer than its white counterparts, money spent by black Americans could stay within the black community. Thus, the black community could enrich itself from the bottom of the ladder all the way up to the top.

This concept was known as “double duty dollars.” The idea is that money spent at black businesses not only purchased goods for the consumer, but also played a role in advancing the black race in America. This, and not government handouts, was seen as the primary means of achieving, if not a perfect equality with whites, a social parity with them.

Another aspect of why black entrepreneurship was so important in the black community was that national businesses tended to ignore the black market entirely. This, however, began to change in the 1950s and, to a much greater extent, by the dawn of the next decade. No one forced national businesses to begin marketing their products to black America. National businesses simply saw that there was an emerging black middle class with money to spend and didn’t want to get cut out of the market.

Today, black business ownership is in a state of “collapse” according to Marketplace.org. This cannot entirely be laid at the foot of the Great Society. For example, the unlikely culprit of integration is one of the reasons that the black business districts began to fall apart. For example, once the biggest burger joint in town would serve black people, there was no reason to go to “the black burger joint” anymore.

Still, it’s impossible to separate the end of the thriving black business districts from the Great Society. These were once centers of the community, in addition to being centers of commerce. Now they are virtually extinct. While other factors are in play, it’s difficult to not notice the overlap between the rise of the welfare state through the Great Society, the overall decline in the black community’s civil society anchored by the black business community, and black business ownership in general.

The Decline in Black Homeownership

Another area where the impact of Great Society policies is seen is in statistics on black homeownership. The black homeownership rate is basically the same today as it was 50 years ago. There was a spike in black homeownership during the Bush years. However, these were largely a function of subprime mortgages being given out to people who couldn’t really afford them.

Few places saw the hand of government on the scale more than housing. One of the final policy initiatives of the Great Society was the Fair Housing Act, which banned discrimination in housing sales (but not in lending practices). This effectively meant an end to “restrictive covenants,” which allowed a homeowner to specify that their house could not be sold to a black family, not just for an individual sale, but in perpetuity.

As a brief aside, this is, as are many other parts of the Great Society, an egregious attack on freedom of association, property rights, and ability to transact and dispose of one’s property in a manner of one’s own choosing.

Which Way Forward for the Black Community

It’s difficult to ignore that black Americans vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party, who champion the policies of the Great Society, which have largely destroyed the black family and black civil society. Why is this?

Lyndon B. Johnsons Great Society: How LBJs Welfare State Helped Ruin Black CommunitiesThere are a number of factors in play here. First, the Democratic Party has little incentive to provide innovative solutions for such a loyal voter bloc. Black Americans have voted at over 80 percent for Democratic Party candidates since 1964. In several elections (1964, 2000, 2008 and 2012) they voted over 90 percent for the Democratic Party candidate. The highest share of the black vote received by the Republican Party since 1964 was 15 percent, achieved by Richard Nixon in 1968 and Gerald Ford in 1976. While Donald Trump’s performance among black voters has been touted for its strength, he received only 8 percent of the vote, reversing a trend where the black vote dropped as low as 4 percent in 2008. Despite the much-touted “Blexit,” 2018 saw no significant exodus from the Democratic Party on the part of black voters – a scant 9 percent voted for Republicans.

The flip side of this is that there is not much incentive on the part of Republicans to court black voters. While the Nixon “Southern Strategy” is slightly distorted when presented, the core of this narrative is true – when presented with various strategies for victory, Nixon chose to appeal to northern, union Catholic workers and Southern Protestant conservatives, both of whom were white. This is simple math: A large increase in the black vote doesn’t represent a whole lot of votes, but a minor increase in the white vote moves the needle significantly. The so-called “Sailer strategy,” named after Steve Sailer, exploits this math: Spiking the rural white vote to record levels while effectively ignoring all other voting blocs is what delivered Donald Trump the presidency.

The point here is that neither party is incentivized to offer solutions to black Americans. But black Americans are also not demanding solutions from either political party, as evidenced by the lockstep voting for Democratic Party politicians, despite failing to deliver anything of value in 50 years.

One historical example that might represent a way forward is the National Black Independent Political Party. Formed in 1988, it had virtually no impact on electoral politics. However, its model might represent something of value for black Americans looking to break free of the two-party duopoly and demand actual policy solutions from Washington. The purpose of the NBIPP was not to obtain power in its own right, but rather to form black America into a political voting bloc that could act as kingmaker in elections. This is in the broader tradition of self-reliance in the black community.

Whatever the way forward is, one thing is clear: Social welfare programs ostensibly designed to help the black community have done little more than put the boot of government on the neck of black Americans. Rather than raising up the black community, these programs have acted to – despite whatever their intentions might be – destroy the black family, the black business community, and black social solidarity.

What might “work” depends on what the goal is. However, the evidence is in and the Great Society’s War on Poverty has been a resounding failure.

Black America Before LBJ: How the Welfare State Inadvertently Helped Ruin Black Communities originally appeared in the Resistance Library at Ammo.com.

‘Jesus, Do We Have To Explain Why We Do These Things?’

‘Jesus, Do We Have To Explain Why We Do These Things?’

“They are working for us, no?”

 

If anyone out there has any doubt of Washington’s arrogance—and the particular mendacity of the Trump administration in the wake of the drone attacks in Iraq that killed Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani— take a minute to read through Friday’s State Department briefing to reporters, here.

My colleague Daniel Larison has described the president’s behavior on Twitter yesterday, threatening attacks on 52 Iranian targets if Tehran retaliates for the assassination of its most popular general. “He cares first and foremost about not appearing ‘weak,’ and that makes him more likely to overreact to every incident,” Larison writes. “The president isn’t interested in avoiding war as much as he is interested in not being pilloried by hawks for not being ‘tough.’”

Well, the state department officials who briefed reporters Jan 3 rolled into that room with such defensiveness you would think they expected to see only Iranian faces in the room. More so, their incredulousness that reporters would want to have “details” and demand “answers” about a military strike that ultimately was coordinated in the name of each and every American, borders on sheer insolence.

Reprinted from the American Conservative.

Virginia Second Amendment Advocates Beware!

An Introduction to Virginia 2nd Amendment “Sanctuaries”

Over 90 percent of Virginia’s counties have claimed “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” status since the Nov. 5 election that gave Democrats control of Richmond for the first time in decades. But their rhetoric doesn’t match reality. The resolutions are symbolic and have no legal force.

The wave of sanctuary resolutions comes in response to state lawmakers, who along with Gov. Ralph Northam, have promised Virginians a number of strict gun control measures in the 2020 legislative session.

A vast majority of the state’s 95 counties have adopted some type of sanctuary language. This has prompted Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) to suggest that Northam (D) “may have to nationalize the National Guard to enforce the law.” Meanwhile, the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in support of a militia.

Here’s what to know about Second Amendment sanctuaries in Virginia:

Do they have the force of law?

So far, all the measures being passed are resolutions, not ordinances. In Virginia, as in most other states, resolutions are generally passed to express the political opinion of a local governing body and are not legally binding. Ordinances are used to enact law.

In Stafford County, where a sanctuary resolution passed unanimously at its Dec. 17 meeting, Board Chairman Gary Snellings said, “It is symbolic, there is no question about it.”

Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors member Greg Benton agreed. “We have no legal teeth.”

What are they meant to do? 

Although the term “sanctuary” implies comparisons to local jurisdictions that refuse to participate in the enforcement of some federal immigration laws, the similarities don’t go beyond the name itself.

San Francisco is likely the most prominent immigration “sanctuary city.” The “City and County of Refuge” Ordinance, first passed in 1989, “generally prohibits City employees from using City funds or resources to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of federal immigration law unless such assistance is required by federal or state law.”

While most of the Virginia resolutions include language similar to a model resolution provided by Virginia Citizens Defense League expressing the Board’s “intent” that public funds “not be used to restrict the Second Amendment rights of the citizens,” intent does not have the legal force of a prohibition, as in San Francisco.

Tazewell County Board member Charlie Stacy said his county’s resolution was passed to set up a court challenge.

“The resolution is truly designed to allow us to hire lawyers to see that laws infringing on the Second Amendment never last any longer than it takes a court to remove them,” he said.

Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said the resolutions are “meant to put political pressure on elected officials.”

Will local militias defend counties against new gun laws?

A growing number of media outlets have reported that Tazewell County is forming a militia to defend citizens against any new gun control measures.

Earlier this month, the county took things a step further than others by passing a second resolution supporting the right to a well-funded and regulated militia.

“Our position is that Article I, Section 13, of the Constitution of Virginia, reserves the right to ‘order’ militia to the localities,” said County Administrator Eric Young. “Therefore, counties, not the state, determine what types of arms may be carried in their territory and by whom. So, we are ‘ordering’ the militia by making sure everyone can own a weapon.”

As with 2nd Amendment Sanctuary measures, the Tazewell militia measure is also a non-binding resolution.

When asked about how the county would prepare residents to be militiamen, Tazewell County Board member Tom Lester explained:

“Our Militia Resolution will be funding firearms safety and training for our county’s citizens, the ROTC and the public school systems – as well as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. These preparations are done to prepare our citizens to be able to become de facto militiamen if need be.”

County Board Chairman Travis Hackworth echoed this telling News Channel 11 that funding from the budget would go to programs such as the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts, JROTC programs and weapons training courses.

Reprinted from the Tenth Amendment Center.

Tales from the Monetary Empire

Tales from the Monetary Empire

After hearing January 3rd’s episode of Tales From the Crypt, it’s an understatement to say I’m inspired by Alex Leishman and his mission to bring free banking to those who need and deserve it most. Responsible banking is long a thing of the past. No proof of reserves? No use in offering financial services. Period. What is the point if most Americans can’t even make interest on their savings? It’s only a matter of time before negative interest rates become a reality in the states just as it already has in many countries. Instead, Keynesianism plagues the minds of not only Americans but the rest of the world. They’re incentivized into irrational spending of funds and resources that shouldn’t be spent, or worse, don’t even exist.

It’s no surprise the price of BTC shot up over the weekend. After the President ordered the killing of Iran’s most popular general, oil prices soared past $70 a barrel. Saudi stock prices dipped in fear of Iranian retaliation via attacking oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. Naturally these tensions lead to gold reaching its highest level in seven years as global investors are looking for safer and reliable options. Is bitcoin one of them? Could bitcoin fulfill Nik Bahtia’s prediction of becoming apart of the triumvirate of liquidity sooner than we think? 

Won’t authoritarians learn from their past authoritarians? This is how empires fall. Inflating the money supply for corporate, imperial greed. FDR confiscated gold via executive act 6102. Maybe we should be lucky we haven’t reached hyper bitcoinizaiton? Otherwise, would our government attempt to seize or private keys? Come knocking on the door and threaten you and your family at gun point to hand over your bitcoin because it’s the only sound currency on Earth that can pay to fund a world war?

The mere fact Alex was mocked by friends and family in civil society for questioning why the Federal Banking act isn’t illegal is appalling. God forbid anyone thinks for themselves these days. These are the kinds of questions everyone should be asking. It’s not a conspiracy to consider that this is intentionally programmed into the failed system, dictated by corrupt authoritarians. Ray Dalio was right when he wrote that profound blog post on LinkedIn, “The World Has Gone ad, And The System Is Broken.”

It was questions like this that Ron Paul was criticized for asking during both of is Presidential campaigns. The hard truth is, nobody asks these questions because they’re either ignorant of the problems, or they wanna keep their cushy, or sticky waged jobs as they count their fiat before bed. Can you blame them though? As much as it kills me to ask that question, it’s also a hard truth that not just bitcoiners, but anyone who’s knowledgeable of how this crippling financial system dominates the world is what inconceivably keeps it rotating on its fragile axis. At any moment that axis will snap and have us hurtling straight into that black hole sun of our desolate future that (quite literally) will bleed us into bankruptcy. As Ron Paul states many times over, this is not what the founding fathers wanted. This is not the American Dream.  

Yes, it’s the fractional reserve central banking system that enables this country to fund decades-long wars.

Interventionism for imperialistic wet dreams (nightmares rather), as well as economic interventionism, is anti-American. Therefore, being anti-bitcoin is anti-American, and so is war. Land of the free? Home of the brave? How is any of that possible when government has total control of the fruits of your labor? Where your money goes, who you’re allowed to send money to and when. Satoshi Nakamoto’s goal was to cure the economic cancer that is the Central Banking system: a permission-less, P2P cash system. For once, voluntary participants of the network are now able to seize full financial sovereignty by running a full node. These new-born sovereign individuals are validating that every transaction is true, not counterfeit, and that you are the sole owner of this bearer asset that is digital gold. 

This, bitcoin, is the very first time in the world that we as individuals actually own something. As Marty brings up at 28:40 

“what do you really own at the end of they day?”

“How we move our money is how we express our desires.”

If this is taken away from us, then we have no say in what we believe in. We can’t boycott a military industrial complex. We are slaves.

Like bitcoin, River Financial is competing with the Central Bank by offering a robust, secure service built on sound policy of human incentive (if being self-hosted in a volt worth a couple grand isn’t enough for you, tough). Having Executive Act 6102 framed on the wall in the River Financial office should be a tradition and custom in every financial institution in America, to remind them that governments can seize the wealth of individuals in an economy that lacks a truly free money. It’s a reminder of what this country was founded on, and how important property right are to individual liberty. The hope and will for new, earned opportunities. To lavish in the fruits of your hard, well-deserved labor. To invest in yourself so that you can nurture the skills necessary for maximal success, and minimal force. Bitcoin is the juiciest fruit of my labor, and River Financial is ready to garden and ripe for the pickings.

Iraq War IV?

Iraq War IV?

The U.S.A. has been bombing Iraq for 29 years. And it looks like it’s not over yet:

Iraq War I: January—February 1991 (aka The Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, liberation of Kuwait)

Iraq War I 1/2: February 1991—March 2003 (The rest of Bush I, Bill Clinton years, economic blockade and no-fly zone bombings)

Iraq War II: March 2003—December 2011 (aka Operation Iraqi Freedom, W. Bush’s invasion and war for the Shi’ite side)

Iraq War III: August 2014—December 2017 (aka Operation Inherent Resolve, the war against the Islamic State, which America had helped to build up in Syria but then launched this war to destroy, on behalf of the Shi’ite government in Baghdad, after ISIS had seized the predominately Sunni west of the country in the early summer of 2014 and declared the Islamic State “Caliphate”)

Iraq War III 1/2: December 2017—January 2020 (The “mopping-up” war against the remnants of ISIS which has had the U.S. still allied with the very same Shi’ite militias they fought Iraq War II and III for, but are now attacking)

Iraq War IV: Now—?

In 1953, the American CIA overthrew the elected prime minister of Iran in favor of the Shah Reza Pahlavi who ruled a dictatorship there for 26 years until in 1979 a popular revolution overthrew his government and installed the Shi’ite Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in power.

So in 1980, President Jimmy Carter’s government gave Iraq’s Saddam Hussein the green light to invade Iran, a war which the U.S. continued to support throughout the Ronald Reagan years, though they also sold weapons to the Iranian side at times.

But then in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait in a dispute over debts from the recent war with Iran, with some encouragement by the U.S. government, leading to America’s Iraq War I, aka the first Gulf War or Operation Desert Storm at the beginning of 1991.

They said it was a quick and easy war, except in the aftermath, again with the encouragement of the U.S. government, the Iraqi majority Shi’ite population in alliance with the Sunni Kurds in Iraq’s north rose up to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s secular, Sunni Arab-dominated dictatorship.

But then President Bush Sr. changed his mind and let Saddam Hussein keep his attack helicopters and enough tanks to crush the uprising, leading to the deaths of more than 100,000 people.

Why did Bush Sr. change his mind? Because the Iraqi “traitors” among the Shi’ites who had chosen religious sect over ethnic and national sect during the 1980s, and had fled to Iran and fought on their side in the Iran-Iraq war, especially the Badr Brigade of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, had begun to come across the border from Iran to lead the revolution. The Americans realized they were reversing the 1980s policy of supporting Iraq’s Baathist regime to contain the Iranian Shi’ite revolution and were now importing it into Iraq. So Bush Sr. choked and called it off.

Next, protecting the Shi’ite and Kurdish population the U.S. had just encouraged and betrayed became the excuse for the U.S. to maintain it’s newly expanded military presence in Arabia. It was declared that the U.S. and UK, and originally France as well, would have to maintain “no-fly zones” over northern and southern Iraq for the duration, which were the occasion for hundreds of bombings throughout the 1990s.

At the same time they maintained the pre-war economic blockade against the country in the name of making the people so weak and desperate that they would rise up and overthrow the Hussein government for the U.S. now after their one chance had been spent. Hundreds of thousands of people were deprived to death.

The U.S. military presence in Arabia to wage this half-state of war against Iraq then became the major motivation for bin Laden and his associates, who had fought with U.S. support against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, to turn against the United States, which they did, beginning with the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993.

But Israel’s government, and the American neoconservative movement which was closely associated with it, was more concerned about Iran.

In 1996, neoconservative David Wurmser and his associates Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and a few others advised then-incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the best way to weaken Iranian influence in Syria and southern Lebanon would be to “focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.” Their friend the Iraqi exile and criminal Ahmed Chalabi, whose “Iraqi National Congress” had its headquarters in Tehran, said it was going to be great. The new Iraq will help America dominate Iran, cut off Hamas and Hezbollah and build an oil and water pipeline to Haifa!

When the consequences of staying in Saudi Arabia after Iraq War I came on September 11, 2001, the U.S. government, led by President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives they had appointed to high office, took the opportunity to launch Iraq War II to overthrow Saddam Hussein in March 2003.

But it did not work out like the neocons had promised.

Instead, essentially all they had done was pick up right where the Bush Sr. government left off. Less than a year into the occupation, the Shi’ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani demanded one-man, one-vote democracy. This led directly to the rise of the also-Iranian-backed Shi’ite United Iraqi Alliance, who, under American supervision, wrote Iraq’s new constitution in late 2004 and won total control over the new parliament in the “purple-finger” elections of January 2005.

The Bush government was happy to deal with the Alliance’s Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and Da’wa Party. Every Prime Minster since then has been from these two parties. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s military worked hand in glove with SCIRI and their militia, the Badr Corps. This was the very same Iranian-backed militia that had been living in Iran since 1980 and had fought on their side in the Iran-Iraq war; the very same men whose presence among the Shi’ite uprising against Hussein in 1991 had caused Bush’s father to withdraw support for the revolution. Now the U.S. was putting them directly in power.

In 2004 the U.S. launched the “El Salvador Option,” empowering the Badr Brigade to hunt down and torture and murder the leaders of the growing Sunni-based insurgency. General David Petraeus used SCIRI’s Badr Brigade as the core of the new Iraqi Army, and during the “surge” of 2007–2008 helped them win their civil war, giving them total dominance over the capital city of Baghdad and the central government of Iraq, while pushing the Sunni-based insurgency, and ultimately the predominately Sunni western parts of the country into the arms of al Qaeda in Iraq, aka the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).

But in the middle of all this, they realized their mistake. The Israelis had already decided to play their own game with the Iraqi Kurds. The Saudi king was angry and had been financing the Sunni insurgency against the U.S. and the Shi’ite parties in the war. So the Bush administration decided to launch what they called “the Redirection.”

This was the plan to put the U.S. back on the side of its client Sunni kingdoms in Arabia, allied with Israel, Jordan and Turkey against the newly expanded Shi’ite alliance of Tehran, Damascus, Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon and now Baghdad, to try to somehow make up for the war they had just fought for the Shi’ite government in Iran that they all hated so much.

So that’s why Obama worked with Saudi and other regional allies to back al Qaeda in Iraq in Syria’s uprising against the Iranian-allied Baathist regime in Damascus. He wasn’t a secret Muslim terrorist from Kenya. He was George W. Bush.

However, instead of simply creating a bin Ladenite emirate in eastern Syria that would focus on moving west against the Assad government in Damascus, the Iraqi-led faction of al Qaeda in Syria, ISIS, decided to move east and conquer all of predominately Sunni western Iraq in June 2014. They then declared the establishment of a new bin Ladenite Islamic State straddling the old border between Iraq and Syria.

The “Islamo-fascist caliphate” of George W. Bush’s most ridiculous propaganda and Osama bin Laden’s wildest dreams had come to life – thanks to Bush’s Iraq War II and Obama’s overt action in Syria.

Though they resented the Shi’ites, the establishment of the Sunni-bin Ladenite Islamic State caliphate in Iraq was too much. A sort of Islamist Khmer Rouge, ISIS threatened America’s oil interests in Kurdistan and the Shi’ite regime in Baghdad as well as being an overall “embarrassment” for the Obama government.

So they launched Iraq War III in 2014–2017 to help the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Iraqi government and its paramilitary militias destroy the radical Sunni state they had built to spite the Iranian-Shi’ite regional alliance they had fought Iraq War II for.

Iranian influence in Syria was also only increased during this time as U.S. and allied support for the bin Ladenites necessitated the Assad regime’s turning to Iran and Hezbollah for defense against them, turning Syria from an Iranian ally to a dependent.

Which brings us to the recent conflict. More than 5,000 U.S. troops remain in country fighting Iraq War III 1/2 against what’s left of the ISIS insurgency in western Iraq. It is doing so in cooperation with the Shi’ite-dominated Baghdad government and its paramilitary forces such as the Badr Brigade, Katib Hezbollah and Asaib Al al-Haq.

But over the past six months or so the Israelis, with the cooperation of the U.S. have been launching air strikes against some of these militias. However, when one militia fired rockets at U.S. bases in response on December 27, killing a contractor and wounding two American soldiers, this was labeled the first day in history and pure “Iranian aggression,” though it is unknown whether Iran’s forces were truly involved in the attack.

The U.S. then attacked Katib Hezbollah bases, killing approximately 25 and causing a massive reaction among the major Shi’ite parties and leaders in the country and a controlled semi-riot at the U.S. embassy. No lives were truly threatened but this was clearly seen as a threat of a future Benghazi-type assault on the American embassy there.

In response, on January 3, Trump escalated massively by ordering the killing of the second or third most powerful man in Iran, Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Qods Force – essentially their special operations command. Apparently, graffiti implicating Soleimani at the scene of the riot turned into his death warrant. (Endless accusations in the media that Iran and Soleimani were responsible for the deaths of 600 American soldiers in Iraq War II are false.)

It turns out that the protest was led in part by Hadi al-Ameri – the head of SCIRI’s Badr Brigade and member of the ruling coalition in parliament! And now his old close associates David Petraeus and Barack Obama are pretending not to know him.

Ironically, as Patrick Cockburn pointed out, this is all happening right when Iran and Soleimani’s reputation were at a low ebb in Iraq due to the Qods Force helping to organize a lethal over-reaction to the recent protest movement breaking out among the Shi’ites there. That’s over now.

Iran’s response may have come already in the form of the Iraqi Parliament’s vote on Sunday to expel U.S. forces (and file an official complaint against the U.S. at the United Nations).

If Ayatollah Khamenei is smart he’ll take this political victory as good enough and avoid further escalation of the violence, which could cost the U.S., Iraq and Iran all terribly: the U.S. has tens of thousands of troops and a zillion dollars’ worth of equipment within Iranian missile range in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi, Oman and UAE, as well as economic targets of unquantifiable value all up and down the west side of the Persian Gulf.

At the same time, the U.S. has enough firepower to completely decimate Iran, even without using nuclear weapons, if it came down to a real war. (By the way, is there anything in the world that Ayman al Zawahiri would like to see more than a U.S. war against the mullahs of Iran other than his own rear end on Pharaoh Sisi’s throne in Egypt?)

Mutually assured destruction has kept the relative peace thus far, but Americans should insist that the U.S. military leave Iraq immediately. Iraq War III is over. The “territorial caliphate,” as Trump calls it, has been destroyed and Baghdad’s sovereignty over western Iraq restored. If our best Iraqi allies that we’ve helped win two major wars in the last 17 years are such bad guys that we want to bomb their leaders, then now must be the perfect time to quit this war once and for all.

The U.S.A. has no real reason to fight Iran or their and our Iraqi friends. They do not threaten the American people. They only stand in the way of American political and military dominance over the Middle East. That ship has already sailed. If people are sad that Iran has increased its power and influence over the region in the past 20 years, they need to take that up with George W. Bush and Joe Biden. But there’s nothing we can do about it now.

Again, the U.S. has only a few thousand troops in the country to help these same Shi’ite forces fight against what’s left of AQI/ISIS. We do not have anything like the forces necessary to turn around and fight against the Shi’ite army and militias even if we had a good reason to do so.

Trump claims he ordered this killing to have the last word. To “stop a war not to start one.” As reckless as this is, it does seem to accurately reflect his intention. Secretary of State Pompeo immediately started calling for a time-out on Twitter, insisting that the U.S. was intent on “de-escalating” the conflict from here on.

On Sunday afternoon, Iran announced they were withdrawing from more of the restrictions in the 2015 nuclear deal the U.S. left two years ago. Even if they quit the whole deal now, it would mean little since they are still within the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA. However, we can expect the usual suspects to pretend to believe that they are embarking on a new nuclear weapons program starting presently.

But so far there is still no real crisis other than what our government has made.

Twenty-nine years of bombing one country is enough. Starting Iraq War IV out of spite over the results of Iraq Wars II and III would be the height of folly and assuredly an unmitigated disaster.

Instead, let’s call the whole thing off and bring our troops home.

Cross-posted at Antiwar.com.

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