Politics

Should Racists Get Health Care?

Should Racists Get Health Care?

Political correctness recently took a dangerous turn in the United Kingdom when the North Bristol National Health Service Trust announced that hospital patients who use offensive, racist, or sexist language will cease receiving medical care as soon as it is safe to end their treatment.

The condition that treatment will not be withdrawn until doing so is safe seems to imply that no one will actually suffer from this policy. However, health-care providers have great discretion to determine when it is “safe” to withhold treatment. So, patients could be left with chronic pain or be denied certain procedures that could improve their health but are not necessary to make them “safe.” Patients accused of racism or sexism could also find themselves at the bottom of the NHS’s infamous “waiting lists,” unable to receive treatment until it truly is a matter of life and death.

Since many people define racism and sexism as “anything I disagree with,” the new policy will no doubt lead to people being denied medical care for statements that most reasonable people would consider unobjectionable.

This is not the first time NHS has withheld treatment because of an individual’s behavior. A couple years ago, another local health committee announced it would withhold routine or nonemergency surgeries from smokers and the obese. Since reducing smoking and obesity benefits both individual patients and the health care system as a whole, this policy may appear defensible. But denying or delaying care violates medical ethics and sets a dangerous precedent. If treatment could be denied to smokers and the obese, then it could also be denied to those who engage in promiscuous sex, drive over the speed limit, don’t get the “proper” number of vaccinations for themselves and their children, or have “dangerous” political views.

Government bureaucrats denying care to individuals for arbitrary reasons is the inevitable result of government interference in the health-care market. Government intervention is supposed to ensure quality and affordable (or free) care for all. But, government intervention artificially lowers the costs of health care to patients while increasing costs to providers. As demand rises and supply falls, government imposes rationing to address the shortages and other problems caused by prior government interference.

Rationing has been part of American health care at least since the passage of the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973. Every plan to expand government’s role in health care contains some form of rationing.

Advocates for government intervention in health care will counter complaints about rationing by saying the related health-care decisions are being made to benefit people’s quality of life. But, claiming government officials know how medical treatment can best enhance quality of life is as absurd as claiming that government officials know the correct prices of automobiles.

The only way to reverse the slide into national health care and rationing is for those who understand the economic and moral case for liberty to keep pushing to replace Obamacare and all other government intrusions into health care. Government-controlled health care must be replaced by free-market health care that empowers individuals to determine for themselves what does and does not enhance their quality of life.

Reprinted from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

Big Spender Trump Is Drowning in His Swamp

Big Spender Trump Is Drowning in His Swamp

First it was the generals who took control over U.S. foreign policy, preventing President Trump from bringing the troops home from the Middle East and Afghanistan, as he said he was going to do.

And now, it’s the federal bureaucracy that has absorbed Trump. According to the Washington Post, Trump has just “signed off on 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents, a generous raise, and a midweek vacation day before Christmas against the recommendation of his own staff — and as he issued an exuberant letter of thanks to ‘Our Incredible Federal Workforce.’”

SOS! Trumpsters need to save their man because he is drowning in the Washington, D.C., swamp that he once decried.

The federal debt is now over $23 trillion. Trump, who once criticized those Big Spender Democrats for their profligacy, is himself adding another trillion dollars each year to that debt. That means that if he is reelected, he and his big spending will ensure that the federal government’s debt will be close to $30 trillion when he exits the presidency in 2024, assuming that he hasn’t plunged the nation into bankruptcy by then.

Don’t forget also that Trump was the presidential candidate who promised to eliminate the federal government’s debt in 8 years. His supporters need to point out to him that he can’t eliminate the debt when he’s adding $1 trillion a year to it.

Don’t forget also that that $23 trillion debt does not include the big and ever-growing unfunded liabilities, such as Social Security and Medicare.

Do you remember when Republican presidential candidates would at least call for the abolition of the Departments of Education, Commerce, Energy, and other unnecessary departments, agencies, and programs? Not anymore. Now they praise, glorify, and extol them and give them raises.

Not surprisingly, federal bureaucrats are ecstatic with Trump. John Milan Sebik, a bureaucrat with the Social Security Administration, said, “I think it’s creating a positive buzz in my office.” Needless to say, those big-spending Democrats, who were absorbed by the federal swamp a long time ago, are ecstatic as well.

The Post writes, “Trump’s actions have complicated conservatives’ goals to shrink government and hold employees accountable.”

Give me a break! Does anyone, including the Post, really believe that? Despite their “shrink the size of government” rhetoric, conservatives have long been as big spenders as progressives, given their joint devotion to every socialist, interventionist, and imperialist program that comes down the pike and, for that matter, to the entire welfare-warfare state way of life that Republicans and Democrats have jointly foisted upon our nation.

Trump’s expansion of the D.C. swamp is just another sign of how Republicans and Democrats are leading America in a very bad direction. Now that Trump has been coopted by both the generals and the bureaucrats, it is painfully clear that despite his campaign rhetoric, his term in office is just four more years of Bush-Obama.

Reprinted from The Liberty Herald

This President Was Impeached for Being Insufficiently Pro-War

This President Was Impeached for Being Insufficiently Pro-War

Buried in the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment report, is some insight into how the foreign policy establishment is attempting to re-create a new Cold War with the Russian Federation. Much of the report is devoted to one of the primary charges against the president: that he allegedly obstructed Congress’s investigation.

The first claim is largely asserted through legalese about how Trump was insufficiently cooperative with Congressional investigators.

I’ll let the lawyers cover that one.

The second charge, however, is more policy-based and is meatier in that the Congressional majority claims it is possible to commit treason by simply acting to avoid giving money to a foreign government:  Namely, the charge asserts Trump committed treason by allegedly withholding foreign aid dollars from the Ukrainian state.

(This charge is wrapped up in a related charge that the president engaged in bribery by attempting to use taxpayer dollars to extract political favors from the Ukrainian leadership in the form of dirt on former Vice President Biden. Again, I’ll leave the bribery charge to the lawyers.)

What is of special interest here, however, is the claim that the withholding of funds for the Ukraine was objectionable largely because it imperiled the US’s quasi war against Russia.

For instance, according to the report, “a person commits treason if he uses armed force in an attempt to overthrow the government, or if he knowingly gives aid and comfort to nations (or organizations) with which the United States is in a state of declared or open war.”

The report then asserts “America has a vital national security interest in countering Russian aggression, and our strategic partner Ukraine is quite literally at the front line of resisting that aggression.”

The report goes on to claim it is essential that the US president “stand with our ally in resisting the aggression of our adversary.” Basically, the logic of the report rests on the old propaganda tactic of claiming “we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.”

Thus, the report claims that by temporarily and briefly withholding foreign aid dollars from Ukraine, Trump committed treason because he was obstructing Ukraine’s military efforts against Russia.

The report’s language reminds us that in the minds of DC policymakers, the US is essentially at war with Russia and that any withholding of aid is the equivalent of conspiring with foreign enemies.

There are several problems with this logic, of course.

First, the United States is not “in a state of declared or open war” with Russia. Congress has not declared war on Russia — or anyone else at this time — as the law (i.e., US Constitution) mandates. Nor is the US in a state of “open war” with Russia except in the minds of modern-day McCarthyites and and their supporters.

It is telling that the phrase “open war” was added to the definition of “treason” since it is clear no legal state of war exists between the US and Russia. No doubt, the authors of the report think that the US must obviously be in a state of “open war” with Russia, but this naturally is a matter of opinion. This is why we have a legal process of declaring war on specific groups exists in the US Constitution. The fact Congress has chosen to not declare war would suggest to the reasonable person that the US is, in fact, not at war with Russia. If certain people in the US government want the US to be at war with Russia, they ought to be forced to submit their motion to a majority vote in Congress. Until that happens, the US is not at war with Russia.

Secondly, given that Russia has not even been established as the US’s “adversary” in accordance with Article I of the Constitution, it is difficult to see how any US agent commits treason by refusing to hand over taxpayer dollars to the Ukraine regime.

One could reasonably claim that by withholding these dollars, Trump was violating the law. This, however, is a long way from “treason.” Moreover, it’s entirely possible the president has engaged in bribery, obstruction or justice, or other offenses. The inclusion of the “treason” charge, however, suggests the Judiciary Committee thinks the obstruction and bribery charges were insufficient on their own. Thus, the treason charge had to be created on the back of a neo-Cold War ideology now prevailing in Washington.

This is the natural outcome of a foreign policy in which it is perceived to be the job of the United States to guarantee the safety of any and every foreign regime the US government happens to support.

This should surprise no one since the bread and butter of Washington, DC is perpetual war against countless real and imagined enemies. We’re told ever greater resources must be devoted to Washington’s continued dreams of global war. For example, the Pentagon is currently funded at levels above those of the Vietnam War, and above the Cold War average , but we relentlessly hear about how the military establishment is at crisis levels of neglect. This is demonstrably false, as is the claim withholding a few bucks from the corrupt Ukraine regime puts the US in danger from a Russian invasion.

There are certainly good reasons to impeach presidents, but not being sufficiently pro-war isn’t one of them. If the US Congress were less committed to a maximalist foreign policy, it would be impeaching presidents for war crimes, instead of claiming — rather ridiculously — that the US has a “vital national security interest” in Ukraine. After all, virtually every president since 1945 — including the current one — has started or continued undeclared illegal wars against foreign regimes. Every president since Reagan has bombed foreigners without any legal justification whatsoever. Each one of them was eligible for impeachment on this issue.

But we never hear any call for impeachment from Congressional leaders on those grounds. Instead, what we have now appears to be an impeachment process largely driven by the desire to punish a president for not provoking a war.

Reprinted from the Mises Institute.

After Calling Out Obama for Starting War with Iran to Get Re-Elected, Trump Doing Same Thing

After Calling Out Obama for Starting War with Iran to Get Re-Elected, Trump Doing Same Thing

Thousands of angry protesters stormed the US Embassy in Iraq this week after US airstrikes killed dozens of Iraqi militia men who were actually fighting terrorists. As they shouted “Down USA!” many of the protesters broke through the gate after hurling water bottles, setting fires and smashing security cameras outside the embassy. When news of the protest broke, Donald Trump, without proof, took to Twitter and immediately blamed Iran—for the thousand of Iraqis protesting in Iraq.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many,” Trump tweeted. “We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”

The American contractor, to whom Trump is referring was reportedly killed during an alleged attack on an Iraqi military base. After the alleged attack, Trump immediately blamed Iran via the Iraqi Shi’a militia. US officials offered zero proof that Ketaib Hezbollah was behind the alleged attack, but did say the group has links to Iran’s Quds Forces. Iran immediately denied any involvement and called the US response a “clear example of terrorism.”

Knowing America’s propensity toward raining down hellfire from above in dramatic over reactions, after the alleged attack on the military base, Iraqi officials pleaded with the U.S. to stave off bombing their country. These requests fell on deaf ears and U.S. airstrikes on targets in Iraq and Syria on Sunday killed at least 25 fighters and injured dozens more.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Sunday called the U.S. strikes “a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a dangerous escalation that threatens the security of Iraq and the region.”

Prior to the strikes on Sunday, Iraqi officials also warned that any strikes inside their sovereign borders would have dangerous consequences. They say that it has forced the Iraqi government to “review” its relations with the US, according to Antiwar.com.

Despite the US referring to Ketaib Hezbollah and other Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) forces as “Iranian forces,” the groups function to fight ISIS in Iraq and are part of the Iraqi government’s security forces. As Jason Ditz points out, the Trump Administration has at times spoken ill of the PMU, but must also have known that attacking them on Iraqi soil would be a bridge too far for Iraq’s government to cross.

Indeed, that appears to be the case. Now, we are watching Donald Trump saber rattle with Iran in an attempt to start a war that he was so hell bent on exposing a decade ago. When his predecessor Barack Obama was attempting to start a war with Iran, Trump accused him of doing so to boost his poll numbers and to get reelected. Now Trump is taking a page out of the previous warmonger and chief’s manual and appears to be doing the same thing.

iran

For those who may be unaware, the plan to overthrow Iran has long been in the works but their military and status makes them a harder target than Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, in April 2012, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Seymour Hersh reported that the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command had trained (Mojahedin-e Khalq) MEK operatives at a secret site in Nevada from 2005 to 2009. MEK is the Iranian political-militant organization that advocates for the violent overthrow of the current Iranian regime. They are hardly quiet about it.

According to Hersh, MEK members were trained in intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics at the Nevada site until President Barack Obama took office in 2009. Hersh also reported additional names of former U.S. officials paid to speak in support of MEK, including former CIA directors James Woolsey and Porter Goss; New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; former Vermont Governor Howard Dean; former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Louis Freeh and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

Coincidentally, MEK was classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and its allies—during this training period—until they suddenly removed them from the list in 2012.

While the current Iranian regime is certainly no bastion of freedom, the idea that US intervention or a violent revolution would be beneficial for the people of Iran is outright insane. To see what US intervention—through military support and the support of ‘protesters’—does to countries, one need only look at Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya to see the horrific death tolls and war-ravaged dystopias left in America’s wake. Libya went from being a growing wealthy country to the hellish war ravaged state that it is today in which humans are being openly bought and sold in public spaces.

To those paying attention over the years, Trump’s desire to intervene in Iran, and his subsequent support in the media should come as no surprise as it has been the plan since Bill Clinton was in office and was documented in the neoconservative PNAC report. This was even admitted by General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, that the U.S. planned on going to war with Iran, according to a 2001 memo from the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

“This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years,” Clark said. “Starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and finishing off with Iran.”

All presidential regimes since Clinton have crossed countries off this list. Now, Trump will likely get four more years to try. Remember that when US troops are being used as cannon fodder and come home limbless and in boxes, and innocent children are being turned into a fine red mist by drone strikes in a country who is not attacking the United States — that this is your government — “fighting for your freedom.”

Reprinted from The Free Thought Project.

The 21st Century of War

The 21st Century of War

As the second decade of the 21st Century comes to a close, and the corporate press is doing everything in its vast power to keep people’s attention on impeachment, it is easy to overlook that the last 20 years should only be defined by one subject; war. Since shortly after the September 11th 2001 attacks, the United States government has set out to prosecute a “War on Terror” that, since the beginning, they have stated may be without an end. Afghanistan is the longest war in American history and the fallout from the invasion of Iraq in 2003 continues to be felt not only in that country, but in neighboring nations such as Syria. Cut off the head of one snake and another grows in its place. This may seem logical to the clear-thinking individual, but government is a collective that only exists to propagate itself. Conflict is a natural multiplier, and fear is its fertilizer. 

The aforementioned clear-thinking individual would be justified in wondering what it will take to end these wars. It has come to light that those involved in prosecuting the war in Afghanistan saw no path to victory. Are people willing to accept this because the Afghan war, unlike those of the past, has yielded a relatively low body count for America’s side? If the average American does take that attitude, what hope is there that enough pressure can be put on their “representative” to get them to pull the plug on these continuing atrocities.  

What will it take for people to demand an end to this mania? 

The Worst of All Scenarios 

If the 9/11 attacks revealed anything it is that a frightened mass of people are willing to go along with anything their representatives propose as long as it gives them a feeling of security. It is of no consequence that it cannot be proven that the Patriot Act, NSA warrant-less spying or even the “brave heroes” of the TSA are doing anything to keep Americans safe from people who would seek to do them harm. The victims of this loss of freedom appear to accept this theater as a warm blanket on a cold night. 

Make the situation even more dire than the 9/11 attacks on American soil and ponder how things would be different. Would a threat of global annihilation put an end to this madness? To borrow a plot out of Hollywood, what if it were determined that a meteor was headed for earth whose impact would be a threat to a considerable percentage of the world’s population? Would that be a reason to stop these wars? Would the insidious nature of government and the contractors with whom they have a symbiotic relationship suddenly change or be paused?  

When you take into consideration that it is certain peoples within the government’s job to do only threat assessments of other nations or groups it would be folly to believe that even a global threat would stop them in their tracks. One could imagine that it would be in their minds that if this were a false alarm, or turn out to be not as serious as previously believed, someone would be out there waiting to take advantage of the situation thereby increasing their power, and consequently decreasing the might of the American government over a particular area or issue.  

Proof Positive 

Something that is unknown to most Americans is that even in the case of nuclear war, an event that would push people beyond the realm of fear and straight into despair and nihilism, the one and only IRS has a plan in place to tax you. Yes, you read that right. The Leviathan has already figured out how it will survive and even though you may be suffering radiation sickness, starvation or drought you are still going to pay up. The realization of this fact should be a slap across the face of anyone who has a grasp on the nature of the State. Yet, many will read this, shrug their shoulders and even make excuses for why it’s an important plan.  

Many questions should come to mind once the knowledge of the intent to continue the practice of taxation is realized. Would there even be a currency? If not, what will they be collecting? Possibly what little possessions you have managed to hold onto after such a catastrophic event? Libertarians, who often hear that in our ideal society “warlords would take over,” would at least get the satisfaction of once and for all proving that those warlords already exist and they’re residing comfortably in the 202-area code. Yes, they will proceed in their plans and will figure out a way to make you pay for it. Even if what they could collect didn’t cover their expenses, in a post-apocalyptic nightmare, they would still be exercising dominion over the masses.  

On Christmas day of 1914, soldiers on opposing sides of a war, most of whom probably had no clue as to why they were fighting, put down their arms and came together in fellowship. They decided that for one day they wouldn’t be the pawns of those who sent them there and proceeded to sup with those they were told were rabid dogs and wished them dead. That this unofficial armistice only lasted for a day, and didn’t continue to the present, is lamentable. May all who have breath in their lungs examine the costs of war, the moral, as well as the financial, and demand a halt to this anachronistic system of “conflict resolution.” 

Chile Is in Danger of Becoming Just Another Crisis-Ridden Latin American Country

Chile Is in Danger of Becoming Just Another Crisis-Ridden Latin American Country

Although we Latin Americans thought Chile was immune to populism, small protests have grown into the largest ones since the nation’s re-democratization in the 90s. Initially, the protestors were groups of students complaining about a raise in the Santiago subway fare — an increase of 3.75 percent or about five US cents (which could add up to $1.15 during peak hours). They demanded that prices be held lower, and some even called for free passes.

Now, the movement has taken on a whole new character, with protestors’ complaints becoming about income inequality and a poor welfare state. Violence also entered the picture, as protestors started rioting, burning nineteen subway stations. President Sebastian Piñera then declared a state of emergency, calling in troops to restore order.

Who’s to blame? Well, protestors attribute these problems to the nefarious legacies of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship and its relentless implementation of a “neoliberal” agenda, with widespread liberalization of the market and privatizations in the 70s and 80s. Are their claims and requests justified? Or are they missing the entire point and advocating for bad policies? To answer these questions, we must look at some history.

Pinochet and his Legacy

Chile has always been a well-known example of successful free market reforms and their positive results. Ironically, all was done under the dictatorial regime of Augusto Pinochet, initiated in 1973, after a coup on President Salvador Allende, a socialist whose interventionist policies had led the country to ruin.

Pinochet and his economic advisors — heavily influenced by Milton Friedman and the Chicago school advisers known as the “Chicago boys” — put forth a radical economic agenda that created a boom for the Chilean economy. In addition to the removing of price controls, privatization, and deregulation, the best-known measure of the Pinochet era is its implementation of a private pension system in place of the traditional pay-as-you-go method, which inspired numerous pension reforms worldwide.

In the following decades, GDP per capita (in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP)) rose by 230 percent, life expectancy increased from 65 to 82, and inflation went down from almost 800 percent to 2 percent, all despite the population having more than doubled. Furthermore, Chile is the leader in social mobility among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and its Gini index, which measures inequality, has been constantly decreasing since the 80s.

As we can see, Chile is much better off than its neighbors, and certainly much better off than Chile itself was sixty years ago. This leads to the conclusion that the claims of the students are, at least, exaggerated. But why would they protest an economic scene that has clearly improved their situation? This stems from the fact that, although free markets were largely implemented in Chile, they were not followed by a change in the political culture and in ideology, leaving the door open for statists to take back control of the narrative in the decades following re-democratization.

Back to Interventionism

After the 1988 referendum, Pinochet’s dictatorship gave way to a democracy, and Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin was elected president. Aylwin and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, his successor, generally saw the free market reforms with good eyes and, so, didn’t bother to change the system too much. But this changed with Ricardo Lagos of the Socialist Party, elected in 2000. His Ministry of Planning and Cooperation released a report waging an official war against inequality and undermining the “neoliberal system” — as they called it. The authors went as far as stating that

the current economic system … makes individualism and competition prevail through a socio-political history of domination, exclusion and marginalization, or through class structure, or through cultural factors, like intolerance and an anti-community ethos.

This marked the beginning of the cultural domination by the socialists. Year after year, their presence in universities, the strength of unions and other interest groups, and propaganda by means of the government only grew — especially after Michelle Bachelet’s election in 2006. And it grew with no backlash, since free market advocates thought the game was over, that history had ended — to use Francis Fukuyama’s famous words — and that they could stay home, relaxing. This is, of course, absurdand the outcome of this cultural domination could have been predicted, as Axel Kaiser did — almost prophetically — in his 2007 book El Chile que viene:

[I]n today’s Chile there is a false sense of security. Many think, for example, that it’s impossible to conceive of large-scale social outbreaks. Not to mention the army in the streets. Some even believe that we march towards development. [Italics are mine.]

In the following years, during both Bachelet’s socialist and Sebastián Piñera’s social democratic administrations, a number of reforms were passed. The tax reforms of 2012 and of 2014 increased taxes on the rich and as well as corporate tax rates — creating a more progressive tax code. The educational reform sought to end profit in education — it set a price ceiling for private schools and permitted universities to charge only the wealthier 10 percent of Chileans. And the labor reform gave more strength to unions negotiate with employers — although it still displeased syndicalist leaderships and entrepreneurs. And today, we see large-scale social outbreaks and the military in the streets.

These and other measures weakened Chile’s strong free market economy, brought about by Pinochet’s constitution of 1980. But because the constitution is so restraining to governments action, protestors are now demanding the writing of a new constitution, from a blank slate. This certainly would result in a regime much more open to interventionism, socializing education and pensions, and creating a strong welfare state.

Reactions to the Protests and Chile’s Future

The pressure seems to be working, as President Piñera has announced a list of measures as an answer to protestors:

  • Raise in the minimum wage to 350,000 pesos (470 USD) per month. If wages are below this value, the government will provide the remaining.
  • Raise of 40 percent in taxes for those with an income above 8 million pesos (10,700 USD).
  • Raise of 20 percent in pension payments.
  • Price controls on electricity rates, canceling a recent 9.2 percent increase.
  • A ceiling for health expenditures for families. Government will pay for anything that goes beyond that amount.
  • Expansion of the deal between the public health system (Fonasa) and pharmacies to provide cheaper medicines.

In addition to that, Piñera also replaced eight of his ministers — in favor of a much younger cabinet — and declared that he is open to any “structural reforms” and hasn’t dismissed the idea of a new constitution. He has thus given in to the populists’ desires, and the future doesn’t look so bright.

Chile is walking on the road to serfdom, because, despite having experienced great free market reforms, there was no campaign to disseminate ideas. Ludwig von Mises taught us that “ideas, and only ideas, can light the darkness,” and Chileans skipped class. After a shock of economic liberalism, the Chicago boys and their friends closed their eyes and didn’t notice the socialists taking back control.

This is why the role of organizations such as the Mises Institute is so important. People are the agents of change, and if people don’t have good ideas, change will be for the worst. Spreading the ideas of freedom is more important than passing any major reform, because, in the long run, socialist mindsets among the people will drive public policy back towards interventionism. For any reform — or a libertarian society, for that matter — to sustain itself, it requires a continuing campaign of education, of self-awareness, and of shifting the culture towards liberty. That is what Chileans forgot.

In his 2007 book, Axel Kaiser noted that Chileans’ “advantage is due to an historical accident, which is now coming to an end.” He predicted that “Chile will show, in the coming years, that it is nothing more than any other Latin-American country.” The prospects are not good, but let’s hope Kaiser is wrong on this one.

Reprinted from the Mises Institute

Free Speech is Non-Negotiable

Free Speech is Non-Negotiable

Anyone trying to shut down free speech knows that their ideology is a lie so they must prevent you from exposing that fact. I have no problem listening to someone else’s opinion, especially if I know it’s dead wrong. Knowing that my ideology is moral and non-coercive helps immensely. Free speech has been under attack since the beginning of time by people in power, those who seek it, or by those who just want to control you and your thoughts. It has nothing to do with words on a piece of paper; you are born with the ability to say what you want. The only time an argument could be made that your speech is “damaging” is if you are directing an individual, or group of individuals, to do harm against another’s person or property. Even then the argument could be made that if the people choosing to follow the orders are doing so voluntarily you still could be without blame. When you’re having a conversation with someone about free speech and they say, for example, “hate speech has no right to be spoken and is not free speech,” what do you say? How much do your opinions and beliefs mean to you? If someone says punch all Nazis AND anyone who promotes free speech, how do you address that?  

An argument that eventually comes up is the collective stupidity of masses of people. That, if we allow those who are good communicators free reign to preach “wrong think” to multiples of malleable idiots, we could have another Mao, Stalin or Hitler pop up. How is that any different than the system now? Politicians have traded the wacky uniforms of the aforementioned dictators for “respectable” suits and a language of inclusivity. While that may appear to be only fair, it in fact riles up a small minority against the rest who are going about their lives. Where in the past rulers sought to mobilize the larger segment of the population against a minority who they made out to be villains (Jews in Germany, gypsies anywhere in Europe, Native Americans), they now give political power to an alleged oppressed few to demonize huge swaths of the population (“anyone who supports Trump is a white supremacist,” or a “Russian-sympathizer,” effectively putting half of the country in their cross-hairs). And their parrots in the corporate press play cheerleader.  

A Smaller Example 

One place the mass of wannabe dictators tries to shut down libertarians is when it comes to “private business.” So, how do they employ this tactic? 

Libertarians believe in unfettered markets which means they don’t want a government or any authority with a monopoly on force and law to be able to make rules or regulations that they get to dictate and change at will. The market will always come up with its own rules that will undoubtedly pave the way for progress and innovation. But that doesn’t mean that liberty-motivated people won’t be able to look at the way a company is doing business and criticize them or flat out call them a fraud. That’s just free speech which also has its own checks and balances in a free market. When someone engages in the argument that because Company A is private, therefore you can’t criticize them for, say, firing an employee because they wrote a memo a minority of people found offensive, they are purposefully being dishonest or just plain stupid. A little prodding and it should be evident which.  

Imagine this argument in practice. Someone of the libertarian persuasion shops at Auto Shop A and is sold a defective tire that has a blowout after 50 miles. It happened on the highway while travelling at 75 MPH causing their vehicle to veer left sharply almost taking out 2 other cars in the process. Say the consumer goes back to business, informs them of the incident, and the shop-owner says, “Sorry, all sales are final. Neither we, nor the manufacturer are liable to replace or refund tires once they leave the shop.” Granted, the business has every right to have this policy. But if that person took to social media to warn people against shopping at this business citing his experience, some who would wish to play “gotcha” on free speech might inevitably say, “You support unfettered free markets bro, you can’t criticize them for the way they run a private business.” All the while knowing that if it happened to them, they would have a conniption and be spewing venom about how “the free market has failed them.” Of course the libertarian is warranted in warning other people of what he’s experienced. But there are still wannabe-dictators out there who would rather see people crash and die than admit their desire to limit speech is lunacy. 

Speech is all about ideas and anyone seeking to limit them is in a very real sense seeking to control your mind. If you’ve ever had the thought, “I can’t say that out of fear of how it will be perceived and the consequences I might face,” it is a prime example of this technique. We’ve even seen people flying the “Libertarian” banner employing these tactics; especially in the “Age of Trump.” It’s sad that many are compelled to not speak their minds or share ideas that may benefit others out of fear that a minority may demonize them. It’s even sadder to see people “promoting” an ideology of liberty joining forces with them. 

Eliminating the Horror of Modern Policing

Eliminating the Horror of Modern Policing

If people properly understood the role of police in the American system, they would probably trust anyone standing next to them in the grocery store to have their best interests at heart more than a law enforcement” officer. Theres an important reason for this. According to a Cato study, if you are an American, you are 8X more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist. According to a Reason article, by Dec 9th 2014, police had killed 1,000 people that year. A search couldn’t find stats on unarmed people that police have killed outside of African American groups who keep track of it. The epidemic has reached the point that better data collecting is needed. But, if you just look at the number of unarmed black men (no weapon at all) killed by police in 2015, 104, and compare it to the amount of Americans worldwide in 2014 (including the US)  whose deaths were attributed to terrorism, 32, American police killed over 3X as many unarmed black men in the US as terrorists killed Americans worldwide. Even if you want to say half of them were out of their minds on bath salts thats almost 2X as many unarmed black men killed by police as Americans killed by terrorism all over the globe. 

It is clear why many, including former law enforcement, believe this is such a huge issue. Trillions are being spent to combat terrorism worldwide, yet millions are being funneled to support the bigger threat to us, the imminent one in which uttering the wrong phrase at a traffic stop can change your life forever… and even end it without consequence to the one who steals your most precious possession. Your life, your very existence. 

Those who have had a chance to consume, cover to cover, James Duanes book, You Have the Right to Remain Innocent,” share the same sentiments, mostly anger and despair. The amount of cases he discusses where innocent people lost decades of their lives because they decided to answer a police officers questions is infuriating and sad at the same time. They have a job to do and its not to protect you, it is to gather evidence against you if they suspect youve done something wrong. And the amount of innocent people that gave them just enough information in what they believed was an informal discussion that allowed a flawed and corrupt system to frame a narrative to get their man/woman,” that a jury of people too stupid to get out of jury duty, or ones that know nothing of jury nullification, convicted them on is heartbreaking.  

And then there is the epidemic we’ve seen pop up that really came to the forefront at Waco. The first thing the Federal police did was shoot the dogs. They weren’t guard dogs, they were pets. They were in a pen. Recently a police officer, who was eventually fired even though his police chief said he did “nothing against procedure,” shot a 9-pound dog in the face because his owner wouldn’t come to the road to talk to him. Officer Keenan Wallace, formerly of the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office in Conway Arkansas, did it out of spite.  On July 5th, 2016, The Nation published an article reporting that police nationwide are killing 25 dogs a day. That’s over 9,000 a year. And the courts have ruled they have the right to do this. Why? The system is not your friend and the front-line soldiers are police. 

People who believe this is a grave issue have the ability to fight back against this tyranny by gathering concerned neighbors and implementing a strategy that has proven to drastically reduce the footprint of law enforcement” in their neighborhoods. Some of these youve probably heard of, but a few in particular many have no idea exist, or have existed. 

 Before solutions are presented, history can provide a good deal of context.  

 Colonial Times 

 State law enforcement was not the norm in the original thirteen colonies. Early colonial governments played no active role in apprehending and prosecuting lawbreakers and police departments and prosecutors did not exist as they are known today. Therefore, a crime victim had to serve as policeman and prosecutor who, if he chose to apprehend an offender and initiate prosecution, did so directly and at his own expense. He did not have to rely on government agencies. On the contrary, he could not rely on them even if he wanted to because they either did not exist, or did not perform the function he sought. By the same token, he was obviously not constrained by such agencies to proceed with a prosecution if he chose to withdraw. 

 Public courts were available in most colonial capitals, but distance and poor roads made use of them for many colonists expensive. Thus, government trials could be, and frequently were, simply bypassed in favor of direct bargaining or third-party arbitration or mediation, with restitution to the victim from the offender being the dominant sanction. Again, early Americans held a restitutive theory of justice whereby forced reparations by the criminal to the victim were ordered, but punitive measures taken against the offender to the benefit of the victim were also demanded. 

What would be the benefits of this? One, if you have to take money out of your own pocket to catch someone who has transgressed against you, and there are no police, false allegations would seem to all but disappear except in the case of someone who just has it out for someone; and even in that case, they are probably looking to do violence to the person other than seeking restitution. 

Notice, this isnt about some abstract concept called justice that is carried out by a State” in which they dont care if you are made whole or not. 

Something else to take from this: would neighbors at the time have a stake in making sure this person was caught? Absolutely. The concept of a public protector doesnt exist, so if there is someone going around stealing or damaging property it makes sense that one would want someone caught who had the potential to do the same to them. So, just by putting the word out it would make sense that you would have volunteers joining you in your search.  

Going back to the rank psychopath who may just be seeking vengeance against someone he views as a foe, do you think people who are hearing the story of whatever the accused may or may not have done have a stake in making sure the accusations are accurate? Yes, or they could be the next victim of a false complaint. 

All of this points to something that always makes a community, and especially a tight knit one, open to the ideas of self-policing; and thats self-interest.  

Before real solutions are presented, dont discount the lesson of the previous. With everything mentioned about the colonies, one can see the importance of central power was not deemed important, so how much money could public officials demand. It is clear why they needed to expand their power. Any fines levied would find their way into public coffers and not back to the damaged party. Power as such generates income and one could argue a good free-market security force could demand a high price but that would be voluntary on the consumers part and that should be the goal.  

The ‘Wild, Wild West’ 

What of the widely held perception that the eighteenth-century West was a lawless society dominated by violence, where the strongest and most ruthless ruled by force? It is true that miners, farmers, ranchers, and many other individuals moved westward much more rapidly than government entities could expand the state’s law enforcement system, particularly from 1830 to 1900. But this does not mean that the frontier was lawless. 

Remember who writes the history books. That the West was a wild, violent, and lawless place is not just something that is popularly believed but rejected by researchers. Many simply assume (or assert) that violence was prevalent and then proceed to explain why that should be the case. Is there any real evidence of relatively violent behavior in the West?  

Some historical accounts focus on a particularly notorious event or individual, and these certainly existed. But there appears to be a serious selection bias problem when the entire West is characterized on the basis of the conclusions of such studies. Interestingly, even those studies discover a good deal of social order. When you examine the Texas frontier from 1875–90, for instance, one finds that many kinds of criminal offenses common today were nonexistent. Burglaries and robberies of homes and businesses (except for banks) simply did not occur. Doors were not locked, and hospitality was widespread, indicating that citizens had relatively little fear of invasive violent or property offenses. Shootings did occur, but they typically involved what the citizenry considered to be “fair fights.” Stage and train robberies occurred, but these incidents were isolated from most citizens and caused them little to no concern. 

So again, one must ask whether government, the monopoly on violence, should be in charge of policing. If at a time where the closest “government protector” could be hours away, the crime rate was low. Why is it so high now? Because so much of what is considered a crime is something where there is no injured party. When you see on a charging document, “THE STATE OF….” Vs “so and so”, the damaged party isn’t present. No victim, no crime. Violations of person and property are the only crimes.

 

One would do well to argue that you would want people you are either paying voluntarily to protect you, or people you trust. So, what are a few ways in which that can be done absent government actors. 

To spend time on the concept of the “neighborhood watch” isn’t warranted. Most people are familiar with the concept.  

The Entrepreneur 

There is an example of a good “free market” approach that has been seen in recent decades. Dale Brown, the founder of Detroit Threat Management, started out with the idea that people had to be responsible for their own security. He figured out that policing is not based on protection, but on prosecution. So, if police show up on average less than 5% of the time to stop a crime, what are you to do? Police are historians, they do not work in current events. They are evidence gatherers, and the sooner the masses come to that realization, the better. 

When you start speaking out against modern police techniques, the first response you get, without fail, is, “Well if you get in trouble, call a crackhead!” This is common. And before we proceed further, one thing Dale says that should stick with you is that law enforcement is for people who have broken the law, or CHOSEN to have laws enforced against them. He is saying YOU CHOOSE THIS. 

Dale designed a system in which he was training people, families and groups how to protect themselves from violence. He was doing this in parks, pretty much anywhere he could. An owner of an apartment building let him use an empty space. 

The turn for him was the realization that teaching people to protect themselves was not going to be enough. There were people who just couldn’t do it. He taught pre-emptive techniques like securing your dwelling which is absolutely essential. Something he says which should be considered but most people don’t is that if someone breaks into your home, and you defend it by killing or hurting that person, you’ll probably want to move immediately. People have family and friends, and having them know exactly where you are puts a target on your back. Revenge is very real. So, making sure you secure yourself and your dwelling isn’t an option, it’s essential. Another point he makes is, just because you have a gun, and know how to use it, doesn’t mean anything. Every dead cop had a gun. So, prevention is where you start. Understanding human behavior is more important. Think about the name of his company, Threat Management. It’s about preparation. Getting to the point where you actually have to fight, should be a major outlier. 

It’s easy to see that even though this is about the entrepreneur, or entrepreneurs who may wish to begin an endeavor as such, there is also a lot of info for the individual. In his realization that many people couldn’t protect themselves he decided his strategy needed to evolve. In 1995 he approached, and was hired by building owners to be their security. This was in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Detroit that was rife with rapes, assaults and murders. His goal was easy. If he could make rich people richer (building and land owners having a safer environment to thrive in), he would be paid for his efforts. 

In the beginning he, and those who worked for him, would get part of their pay with “free” housing. As it progressed, he could charge for his service. He now has a huge company, with contracts to privately protect some of the wealthiest and best neighborhoods out there. Mind you, many were not safe to start with, they are ones he cleaned up by letting people know that he was going to make sure they were safe by using all the techniques he found would prevent violence in the first place. 

The Shomrim 

The most realistic example for pushing the government monopoly on violence and force out of the communities’ people live in is the Shomrim society? Shomrim is the Hebrew word for “watcher’ or “guard.” These are probably most famous in NYC although they have groups scattered through America and Britain. Shomrim will “work” with the police, but honestly, it is only because the cops have a monopoly on force. They would prefer to take care of their own, and should be applauded for it because in a truly libertarian society, that is who you’d want looking out for you even more so than any security you may hire.  

The mission statement/message people get when they go to the “Shomrim Crown Heights” webpage: 

Crown Heights Shomrim is a neighborhood patrol organization made up entirely of volunteers whose mission is to help protect the streets of Crown Heights and to give aid to victims of crime. Crown Heights Shomrim is based in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, a neighborhood comprised of ultra-Orthodox Hassidic Jews of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement alongside a large West Indian and African American population. Founded in the 1960’s Crown Heights Shomrim is the evolution of the Maccabees – a first of its kind volunteer patrol – which was founded by residents of the neighborhood who were frustrated with an understaffed and ineffective police department which allowed residents to fall victims to violent crimes. 

During the infamous anti-Semitic riots in 1991, Shomrim expanded its operations and today is the most veteran, respected and responsible organizations charged with providing residents with a reinforced sense of security. Shomrim works closely with members of the New York City Police Department and other branches of law enforcement as well as emergency rescue personal and many of our volunteers have received training by the NYPD, New York City’s Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Homeland Security. 

If you start to run searches on Showrim groups you will find articles on blogs about how they may push people around and a couple of “mainstream” articles on abuses but that is not what should be focused on. Sure, these kinds of things will happen. But they’re not libertarians. What do they know about the non-aggression principle? Of course, you would want to tailor any group formed to the non-aggression principle. 

Each Shomrim group maintains its own dispatcher and 24-hour hotline, whose number is known throughout the Orthodox Jewish community. Shomrim responds to a wide variety of crimes and cases, including reports of purse snatching, vandalism, car and bicycle thefts, and missing persons. Volunteers patrol the city streets in the wee hours of the morning as a deterrent presence. When they are not on duty, they remain on call, and are often summoned to help other Shomrim groups or other Jewish community rescue organizations such as Hatzalah and Chaverim during large-scale search and rescue operations. 

Shomrim has been effective in apprehending suspects of burglaries, robberies, assault, car thefts, vandalism, domestic violence, nuisance crimes, and antisemitic attacks. In an incident in 2010, four Brooklyn South Shomrim volunteers gave chase to a suspected child predator who drew a gun and shot each of them after they had tackled him to the ground. The shooter was later acquitted of all charges except possessing a gun. Following that incident, the Brooklyn South Shomrim were issued bullet-proof vests by the New York State Senate. 

Shomrim volunteers have occasionally been criticized for using excessive force with suspects, particularly non-Jews. In 1996, a Crown Heights Shomrim volunteer was convicted of assault charges after repeatedly hitting a suspect on the head with a walkie-talkie after the man had been subdued. In 2010 a Baltimore Shomrim volunteer was arrested for allegedly striking a black teenager. He was suspended pending internal investigation, with Shomrim confident that he would be vindicated in court, and was sentenced to three years of probation in 2012. In 2011, two Monsey Shomrim volunteers were charged with misdemeanors in a fracas that erupted after a girl hit a passing van with a water balloon. 

Shomrim volunteers, who are unpaid, are mostly members of the Haredi Jewish communities that they serve; however, around 70 percent of the victims they help are not from the Orthodox Jewish community, usually just local residents from any race or religion. In Brooklyn, Shomrim members, according to their coordinator, are fingerprinted and checked for a criminal record before being allowed to join the patrol.  

Shomrim volunteers – who range from a few dozen to over 100, depending on the group – work on foot or in cars. Generally, members work two to a vehicle that is equipped with a radio and a siren. However, the UK divisions of Shomrim do not have audible or visual warning equipment (blues-and-twos) fitted in their vehicles. Some Brooklyn patrols have marked cars which resemble New York City Police Department (NYPD) vehicles, but most use their own unmarked cars. The patrols may also carry walkie-talkies. They wear identifying jackets and yarmulkes on the job. 

The volunteers, says a coordinator, do not carry guns, batons, pepper spray, or handcuffs, and do not have the authority to make arrests. However, they are trained in how to safely track and detain suspects until police arrive, otherwise known as citizen’s arrest. They have been known to quickly mobilize area residents to block off streets in order to stop suspects. 

Their funding comes from donations mostly, although some have been able to get tax-payer money as, especially in their local communities, they are a large voting bloc. A libertarian-type order would, of course, reject this. 

These groups are known to prevent crime and actually solve a few, including missing persons cases. 

Two examples have been presented to show how to drastically reduce the footprint of government police in any neighborhood. When thinking about publicly-funded law enforcement, it is important to remember a few points: 

 1. They are not protectors; they are there to record history and help prosecutors punish “criminals.”  James Duane’s book, “You Have the Right to Remain Innocent,” is required reading.

2. They are hammers and all they see is a nail. Between shooting unarmed people and executing animals, wouldn’t you rather trust someone you know or are paying directly?

3. In the case of Detroit Threat Management, think of it as a business opportunity. Of course, as in all “free market” endeavors, you will only succeed if you do the job.

Governments, and members of their citizenry who were “just following orders,” killed more than 200 million people last century. It’s time for a better way, a more direct way, a way that if people see it working will seek to choose it over the status quo. It’s time to cast away monopolies who don’t care if the job is done well or efficiently. They certainly don’t care about you or your loved ones. 

Saudi Gunman Tweeted Why He Attacked Pensacola

Saudi Gunman Tweeted Why He Attacked Pensacola

The Trump Administration is bound and determined not to draw any conclusions about Saudi Air Force gunman Mohammed Alshamrani, who killed three people on Friday in Pensacola. There seems to be a palpable fear that anything terror-related would make the Saudis look bad.

This could be a problem, since Lt. Alshamrani tweeted right before the attack exactly why he did it, which was related to US support for Israel and US hostility toward Muslim people. This puts the incident in an ideological context that would make it terrorism.

On top of that, the gunman hosted a dinner party where he and other Saudi students watched videos of mass shootings just days before the attack. One of those attendees filmed the Pensacola attack, and two other Saudis on the base were watching from a car.

This all puts the incident into a more Saudi context. Yet US officials are now saying they believe Alshamrani “acted alone,” despite having a camera man, and are insisting no one else was arrested, despite initial reports suggesting that multiple Saudis were held on the base.

Holding Saudi Arabia accountable has been something that US governments have long resisted, with evidence of Saudi officials’ complicity in 9/11 long a closely-guarded secret. Even after that went public, the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi fueled outrage, but the administration took the position that financial interests in selling the Saudis weapons outweighed this.

Given this, Pentagon officials were quick to make clear that having a Saudi Air Force officer killing people at a US base would in no way effect having Saudi troops on US bases in the future. Though that’s bound to lead to some questions going forward, officials are already fighting tooth and nail to downplay what happened, and have even suggested an alternative motivation that he may have been made becaus an instructor made fun of his mustache.

The mustache explanation doesn’t make much sense, and certainly wasn’t mentioned by the gunman in his tweet, but its likely to remain a topic of discussion, because if nothing else it wouldn’t be the Saudi kingdom’s fault.

Reprinted from Anti-War.com.

Covering Bombs, Not Bombshells

Covering Bombs, Not Bombshells

Weeks of impeachment hearings have produced a few sound bites and hundreds of headlines claiming “bombshell” testimony has doomed Trump. As Ukrainegate follows the pattern of Russiagate, anyone who reads beyond the headline recognizes that every alleged bombshell is actually a dud. The impeachment drive is again proving the mainstream media, blinded by #NeverTrump passions, will repeat just about any deep state lie. The most unfortunate element of the media’s careless coverage of Trump is there are real scandals getting neglected.

The most obvious example of this phenomenon is the war in Yemen. Throughout the Trump presidency, the US has committed – and enabled Saudi Arabia to commit – countless war crimes. Within days of taking office, Trump had ordered a raid in a Yemeni village that killed an 8-year-old American girl. Since, Saudi has used US-made bombs to destroy hospitals, farms, and even a school bus full of children. Despite the cruelty of the Saudis, Trump has continued to support Saudi’s war with essential intelligence, logistical support, and weapons. With US assistance, Saudi has dropped enough bombs on Yemen to set the country back at least two decades.

The targeting of water treatment facilities has led to several massive cholera outbreaks, killing thousands, but the war hasn’t been limited to bombs. The US has supported a blockade causing over half a million Yemeni children to be on the brink of starvation. Save the Children estimates that more than 100,000 children have died because of the conflict. The blockade and targeting of civilian food infrastructure are so efficient in depriving Yemenis that the war is accurately described as a food war against the population.

The War in Yemen is a nightmare for Yemenis but is also counter to the security interest of Americans. US weapons provided to the UAE – a Saudi partner in the war – have fallen into the hands of al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen, AQAP. The Houthi – the group Saudi Arabia fighting the war against – are long-standing enemies of AQAP. The consequence of supporting the Saudi war in Yemen is well summarized by Middle East expert Michael Horton as, “much of what the US is doing in Yemen is aiding AQAP.”

The war in Yemen is so appalling, that even Congress stepped up and invoked their Constitutional war powers to end the US involvement in the war. Trump then vetoed the war powers resolution and ignored the Constitutional mandate that a president needs a declaration of war before starting it. Of course, the Trump – and his predecessor – had no authorization to wage the genocidal war.

If the mainstream media was really looking for some bombshells to bring Trump down, Yemen is literally littered with them. However, stories about Yemen rarely make the news and are never a part of the conversation about Trump’s crimes.

Unlike the corporate press, the Libertarian Institute will never ignore the children killed by American bombs in favor of parroting the deep state narrative. Scott Horton, Sheldon Richman, and Pete Quinones create a platform that allows for real, accurate criticisms of Trump and the American Empire. In the three years I have been producing content for the site, I have been able to post over 1,000 Daily New Roundups, articles, and podcast episodes highlighting the worst crimes of the US government. In my posts and podcasts, I’ve provided thorough coverage of Trump’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia, as well as the worst crimes committed by our government at home: police murder, the drug war, and the theft of our money by the IRS.

The American Empire is growing: swallowing our freedoms, trillions of dollars, and millions of lives. We must fight against the expanding state. The Libertarian Institute plays an important role in exposing the empire and spreading the ideas of liberty that wouldn’t be possible without you.

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Jacob Hornberger & Keith Knight Ep. 128

Jacob Hornberger & Keith Knight Ep. 128

If you haven’t already heard, Jacob Hornberger is running to be the Libertarian Party Presidential nominee. Because Keith is Keith, he has already interviewed Jacob Hornberger on his show, Keith Knight’s “Don’t Tread on Anyone.”

Jacob Hornberger is the President of the Future of Freedom Foundation. Find his campaign website at jacobforliberty.com. Find the Future of Freedom Foundation at FFF.org. Purchase his campaign book, “My Passion for Liberty” here.

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Hobbits and Hooligans: Revisiting Jason Brennan’s Against Democracy

Hobbits and Hooligans: Revisiting Jason Brennan’s Against Democracy

In case you couldn’t tell through the inescapable barrage of media coverage, we have an election coming up, which means voters are mobilizing. To most Americans, democracy and voting are the pinnacles of freedom. Your vote is your voice, etc. etc. 2016 threw a wrench in some Americans’ confidence in democracy, though. Did Trump break the system? Rather than admit that democracy allowed half the country to foist a new leader on the other half against their will, the election had to be explained away: Russia, meddling, the failings of the Electoral College. Democracy works, proponents maintained, it’s just that external forces subverted this particular election. I’m interested to see if these sinister forces can manage to rig back-to-back elections; I guess we’ll see. Someone who’s not so high on democracy is author and Georgetown professor Jason Brennan. His book from 2016, Against Democracy, rejects seemingly every argument in favor of America’s most cherished of political systems. 

Growing up in the United States, one gets the impression that democracy is next to godliness. School children put their hands over their hearts every morning and literally pledge allegiance to a flag, and to the republic for which it stands. The NFL spends weeks wearing camouflage hats and jackets on the sidelines as part of their salute to the military; and what does the military do if not protect (and even spread) democracy? Brennan refers to this ubiquitous sentimentality as “democratic triumphalism”: “the view that democracy and widespread political participation are valuable, justified, and required by justice” (7). But, as his book makes clear, almost no one ever really questions the history, justice, and most importantly, the efficacy of a democratic political system. Among several arguments, Brennan’s primary thesis is that democracy is only useful for its instrumental value; it has no real symbolic or intrinsic value. Democracy is a tool, like a hammer, Brennan repeats. It’s only as good as its ability to achieve results. “If we can find a better hammer,” he writes, “we should use it” (11). Brennan’s recommendation is epistocracy: the rule of the knowledgeable. 

In the latter half of the book, Brennan offers a clever bit of authorial maneuvering: “In philosophy, we use the least controversial and weakest premise we need to get the job done” (151). This strategy becomes more clear in retrospect when we consider the book’s first major argument: that the American voting public are either hobbits, hooligans, or vulcans (4-5). Hobbits are apathetic, ignorant, uninformed, and lack strong opinions about politics and world events more generally. “The typical nonvoter is a hobbit,” Brennan writes. I find his bit about the “weakest premise” convincing because from the outset of his book, readers will either conjure up their hobbit friends and family and be inclined to agree with Brennan’s premise (most likely), or perhaps readers will self-identify as hobbits and say, “This sounds like me” (less likely). Either way, readers are likely convinced of the usability of the concept. Hooligans, though, are the majority of Americans, those who either vote or participate in politics more broadly. Hooligans are the “rabid sports fans of politics.” They have strong views, though they are based on weak and bias-reinforcing data, and they are unlikely to listen to opposing views, no matter how sound. In fact, debate makes them more entrenched in their views. They want to win and they want their opponents to lose, since to them, politics must be a zero-sum game. Again, even if the reader would believe themselves to be a vulcan (the last category), they can definitely identify these hooligans. Vulcans are essentially Plato’s philosopher-kings, though perhaps we should call them philosopher-voters. They take in all information in an unbiased way, listen to opposing views, and make their decisions based on reputable facts and evidence. We gather that there are not many vulcans out there. If there were, we probably wouldn’t have a democracy. 

Especially convincing is the wealth of empirical studies Brennan cites between chapters 1-4. His main findings include the following, among others: most voters are “rationally ignorant,” meaning they know that they don’t know, and they don’t really care that they don’t know (30); the more educated people become, the more they favor smaller government (34); many political participants only “keep up” with politics because they are expected to according to their social class or vocation, or because they would be interested in politics regardless of a particular election or candidate— to them it is a hobby, like crafting or gardening (35-6); political tribalism damages rationality and often causes us to make decisions based on our “group,” rather than the validity of the options themselves (39). The rest of the political literature, to be sure, is expansive. In sum, though, the average voter is: tribalistic, ignorant, myopic, etc., and yet they feel obligated to participate. Voters tend to think of democracy like a poem (chapter 5), in that it has symbolic value (versus instrumental). And this idea, of course, has been reinforced in most Americans since birth. Brennan wonders why this is, or should be so. 

More damaging than the voter though is the larger effects of a democratic system in general; Brennan writes “that most common forms of political engagement are more likely to corrupt and stultify than to ennoble and educate people” (55). Believing in the just possibility of ideal democracy is, to Brennan, like believing college fraternities would “improve . . . character and scholarship,” if given the right conditions (73). Shooting heroin or dropping out of high school, he suggests, have the potential to serve an educative function, like ideal democracy, but we doubt the wisdom of trying. Brennan writes elsewhere, “Since individual votes don’t matter and hating other people is fun, voters have every incentive to vote in ways that express their tribal biases” (234, italics in original). Democracy puts us in “genuinely adversarial relationships” where we treat each other in ways that we would never (hopefully) treat one another outside of the political sphere. We think that if “they” win, “I” lose. And, to be sure, the two-party system, with its attendant popular suffrage, does result in this win/lose dichotomy. We have, for the most part, dumb people voting in a rigged system (where their individual votes don’t matter), which results in one party or person being forced on everyone else at the point of a gun (See 240-1). And yet, as Brennan shows, this is supposed to be indicative of “consent,” “voluntary” choice, fairness, and the justice of democracy in general. Brennan suggests, instead, that we try a better hammer: epistocracy (See chapter 8). We want the best doctor, the best plumber, the best teacher, etc., so why don’t we want the best voters and the best rulers? We don’t let just anyone come fix our pipes, so why do we let everyone vote, and, theoretically, let just anyone rule? Democracies violate the “competence principle,” which the author defines as the notion that “high-stakes political decisions are presumed to be unjust, illegitimate, and lacking in authority if they are made incompetently…” (21). As such, democracies are disqualified to rule (On qualifiers versus disqualifiers see p. 165-6). Just as our doctors and plumbers must be competent, so too must our voters and rulers. On Brennan’s suggestion that epistocracy solves some of the issues of political competency, I am somewhat convinced, though Brennan undercuts his argument by never seriously considering anarchism. 

Throughout, he talks about how an epistocracy would likely be a “better form” of government, with “better results,” and would, overall, function “better” (See p. 223, paragraph 5 as but one example). But, to my understanding, he never says what “better” means. More efficient at collecting taxes? more adept at keeping the masses docile? better at making war? Brennan would likely say no to all of these, but he never explains what a “better” system or better results are. If he is laissez-faire on economics, as he lets on, and he hates democracy as he explicitly states, then why not suggest or explore something like anarcho-capitalism? I could just as easily suggest the efficacy of this system, and, by his own standards, he couldn’t dismiss this argument by saying “It’s never been tried.” As he says in defense of epistocracy, it too has never seriously been tried, and thus can’t be ruled out a priori. To ignore anarchism is to ignore the base condition of mankind. Why, in Brennan’s world, does man ever come out of their “state of nature” to form society in the first place? And if/when they do, why is it assumed that they form a government? If Brennan convincingly showed why we need the state, only then could he seriously propose epistocracy as the best choice among presumably imperfect political systems. Just as he criticizes most Americans’ assumption that democracy is ideal, and that it works, I would argue that he assumes some kind of government is ideal, and that, theoretically, it can work. But this assumes too much. Nonetheless, Against Democracy is a punchy and prescient tour de force which should be required reading for political philosophy. It’s high time we stop being ruled by hooligans. Brennan calls democracy a “flawed tool” (204), but this doesn’t go far enough. It’s unavoidably antagonistic, it’s violent, and it’s inherently violative of the most basic “political” unit: the individual. 

Trump’s Trade Policy Has Produced Damaging Tariffs but Little Else

Trump’s Trade Policy Has Produced Damaging Tariffs but Little Else

Farm exports to China are down, manufacturing job growth has stalled, and prices are up for many goods

Americans are about to enter the third full year of President Donald Trump’s aggressive tariff regime, which aims to promote US manufacturing, protect key industries, and prompt other nations to reduce their trade barriers. So, it’s a good time to stop and ask whether tariffs are producing the results desired by the president and other supporters of his trade policies.

It’s an important question for America’s economic future as well as for the president’s reelection chances. But with ongoing trade talks with China and other countries producing little real progress and the recently negotiated US, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace NAFTA stalled in Congress, the best that can be said for the president’s trade agenda is that it is a work in progress. The more sober reality is that actual results have been sparse, and the damage to trade flows and economic activity has been real and painful for American consumers, manufacturers, and farmers.

Candidate Trump ran in 2016 as a critic of post-war US trade policy, which has emphasized trade agreements to incrementally lower barriers in the United States and abroad. For years, the president has blamed those policies for the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs and the rise of the US trade deficit, most acutely with China.

Once elected, President Trump immediately withdrew the United States from the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), the deal negotiated under Barack Obama’s administration to liberalize trade with 11 other Pacific Rim nations. Then, starting in January 2018, his administration imposed tariffs on imported washing machines, solar panels, steel, and aluminum, launched a tariff war against China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 over intellectual property, and negotiated a new version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—now dubbed the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Along the way, his US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also revised the 2011 free trade agreement with South Korea (KORUS) and struck a limited deal with Japan on digital trade (which includes industries such as e-commerce and cloud services) and farm tariffs.

The centerpiece of the Trump trade policy has been China. In an effort to force the Chinese to improve their policies on intellectual property protection and foreign investment in China, the administration began imposing escalating rounds of duties on imports from China in July 2018. Currently, those duties range from 15 to 25 percent on $362 billion in imported goods from China, with duties on another $160 billion scheduled to kick in on December 15. Meanwhile, the Chinese have imposed retaliatory duties on $75 billion of US exports.

To date, China has implemented none of the reforms that the Trump administration demanded. China has announced further liberalization of its rules on foreign direct investment, but those changes were in the works before the US tariffs were imposed. China also recently lowered duties on a range of goods, but only for imports from its non-US trading partners, putting US exporters at a disadvantage relative to their global competitors. President Trump and his defenders claim that his get-tough approach has forced China to negotiate, but so far those talks have led to no agreement, and could break down once again.

Meanwhile, mounting evidence suggests the tariff war is taking a toll on US exporters, especially US farmers who have lost one of their best global customers for soybeans, pork, and dairy products. Farm exports to China, which peaked at more than $25 billion a year under President Obama, have tumbled to less than $10 billion in the past year. US manufacturing companies have suffered the double whammy of losing exports while being forced to absorb higher costs from duties on imported parts from China. Prices are rising for the millions of American families that buy such imports as furniture, clothing, and electronics from China. In sum, the Trump administration’s China policy so far has been all pain and no gain.

Another priority of the president’s trade policy has been the renegotiation of the quarter-century-old NAFTA. The president has repeatedly denounced the 1994 agreement as the worst trade deal in history, blaming it for a huge loss of manufacturing jobs and output to Mexico (claims that are certainly open to dispute).

Despite the president’s criticism, the renegotiated agreement signed a year ago, the USMCA, leaves the core of NAFTA intact. It keeps almost all tariffs at zero, removes some lingering barriers to farm trade, and tightens the rules of origin for the automotive sector, while adding chapters on such subjects as digital trade, labor, and the environment.

The agreement still needs congressional approval, but if and when it is passed, its impact will not be nearly as dramatic or as positive as the Trump administration claims. An analysis by the US International Trade Commission (USITC) in April 2019 estimated that once fully enacted, USMCA would boost the US economy by $68 billion, or 0.35 percent of GDP, and add a net 176,000 jobs (a rounding error in an economy that employs more than 150 million workers). All that gain would come from the new agreement reducing uncertainty, specifically in digital trade.

At the same time, according to the USITC, a big net negative of USMCA will be its tighter rules of origin for auto makers. The new rules will increase the share of parts that must be sourced in North America to qualify for duty-free treatment to 75 percent, and mandate that 40 to 45 percent of those parts be made by labor earning at least $16 dollars an hour—which would disqualify production in Mexico. The USITC report determined that the tighter auto rules “represent greater restrictions on trade.” Those rules will result in higher production costs for the car industry, especially for smaller, more fuel-efficient models, which in turn will lead to reduced exports, higher prices and less choice for consumers, 140,000 fewer vehicles sold each year in the United States, and reduced wages and employment in the overall US economy.

Ironically, many of the new features of the USMCA were contained in the TPP, which included Canada and Mexico and was therefore already a retooled, 21st century NAFTA 2.0, without the trade-restricting baggage of the tighter rules of origin for auto production. Far from being a breakthrough on trade policy, USMCA accomplishes little that would not have been included in TPP and will leave the US auto sector less competitive in global markets.

Meanwhile, steel tariffs delivered an early boost to the domestic US steel industry, but that glow is now fading. The higher domestic steel prices imposed by the tariffs hurt the much larger sectors of the economy that use steel in production, from construction to the auto industry. Those higher prices dampened domestic demand, which in turn has caused a drop in steel prices and sales for domestic steel producers. After initially ramping up production, domestic steel companies have been reducing output and laying off workers, exactly the opposite impact the administration hoped to achieve. Meanwhile, the tariffs have prompted retaliation by the EU and other trading partners against US exports.

The Trump administration did muscle South Korea into renegotiating sections of the 2011 US-Korea free trade agreement, known as KORUS. Under the threat of steel tariffs and US withdrawal from the agreement, USTR forced Korea to agree to delay the elimination of the 25 percent duty on light trucks imported to the United States and to agree to double the Korean quota on American vehicles that can be imported to Korea without meeting its tougher safety and emissions standards.

The export quota was never fulfilled, so doubling it will not likely lead to a major increase in US exports to Korea. The delay in reducing the light truck duty is a win for domestic US automakers, who depend on the sale of these vehicles, notably pickups, for a sizable share of their annual sales and profits. But (like the tighter auto rules of origin in USMCA) the delay means that pickup prices in the US will be higher than they would be otherwise.

More recently, the Trump administration applied the same type of pressure on Japan, prompting that country to accept an interim agreement to reduce its barriers to US farm exports while adopting new rules on digital trade. The reduced farm trade barriers would be a clear win for US producers, but they are not quite as good as the farm trade liberalization measures that are contained in the TPP, which also included Japan. Like KORUS and USMCA, the Japan agreement involved a lot of brinksmanship during negotiations with no clear gain, compared to the status quo if the United States had joined the TPP.

The net result of the Trump trade policy so far has been an upward spike in tariffs imposed on both US imports and exports and downward revisions of global economic growth. The International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have both downgraded their growth forecasts, blaming the US-China trade war and the resulting uncertainty as the main aggravating factors. Even President Trump’s own economic advisors warned him recently that the trade war with China is proving to be an economic and political liability.

The US labor market continues to perform well, but that’s despite and not because of the president’s trade policy. Job growth has actually cooled since the trade war began in earnest last summer, especially in the manufacturing sector. In the first 18 months of the Trump presidency, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing employment was growing at an average of 19,000 jobs per month. But that rate has dropped to only 4,000 so far in 2019 (even excluding the impact of the GM strike). Moreover, growth in US industrial output has slowed sharply in recent months.

Even President Trump’s favorite scorecard, the US trade balance, has moved toward an even larger deficit under his policies. Two of his top trade advisors, Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross, wrote during the 2016 campaign that reducing the trade deficit would be a key component of his program to stimulate the US economy.

Yet the deficit has only grown under his watch. The goods deficit in 2018 was $887 billion, 18 percent larger than the $751 billion deficit in the last year of the Obama presidency. Through September 2019, the deficit is on pace to be even larger, at nearly $900 billion by year’s end.

Almost all economists will tell you this isn’t a real problem, but it challenges the Trump administration’s assumption that raising US tariffs will somehow “level the playing field” and bring down the trade deficit. The bilateral deficit with China has shrunk, but imports have merely been diverted to other suppliers, leaving the overall deficit unaffected.

On rare occasions, President Trump has said that his ultimate goal is a world without trade barriers or subsidies. But more frequently, the president has praised the beneficial impact of tariffs, describing himself famously as “a tariff man.

By this standard, his trade policy has been a success. Through September, the amount of money the government collects through tariff duties is, year to date, running 70 percent ahead of 2018, and will likely top $80 billion by the end of the year. That’s almost a $50 billion tax increase compared with the average of $31 billion in duties collected before the president launched his tariff crusade.

This is an odd boast for a Republican president. Tariffs are taxes on tradeable goods. They disrupt production, raise business costs, and hit consumers in their pocketbooks—especially lower income families that spend a higher share of their budgets on imported items such as shoes, clothing, and food. All major studies done of the recent tariffs show that it is US importers and consumers who are paying almost all of the cost of the new duties. For US workers, those higher prices mean lower real wages.

With less than a year to go before the next election, President Trump’s trade policy must be declared a spectacular and expensive failure. A few incremental promises of more market access abroad have been overwhelmed by huge tariff increases in the United States as well as among our major trading partners. For the good of American workers and producers, as well as his own political legacy, President Trump should find a way to wind down his endless trade wars and return the United States to the proven path of post-war trade liberalization.

Reprinted from the Mercatus Center.

Decrying Income Inequality Is a Tactic to Gain More Power for Government

Decrying Income Inequality Is a Tactic to Gain More Power for Government

The 2020 presidential field is saturated with candidates decrying wealth inequality and making the argument to soak the rich. One front-runner, for instance, is constantly denouncing “the millionaires and the billionaires.” Ominously, a New York Times poll found that two-thirds of Americans believe that “wealth in this country should be more evenly distributed among more people.”

Now, it is true that, in America, the top 1% owns 42% of the wealth, and the top 0.1% owns as much as the bottom 90 percent, so it’s easy to see how many Americans don’t think capitalism is working for them. Relative to those “millionaires and billionaires,” plenty of people think they are getting crumbs, while others are taking big slices of the pie.

But is “income equality” the best measure of progress or prosperity?

Consider choosing between the following two actual countries. Country A has much more inequality than Country B. On the Gini measure of inequality  where 0 indicates perfect equality and 100 perfect inequality  Country A has a Gini index of 45 (the 103rd least-equal country) and Country B has a Gini index of 26 (among the top-ten most equal countries).

In Country A, the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is $62,000, while in Country B, the GDP per capita is $5,700. In Country A, income in the highest quintile averages $143,000 and in the lowest quintile $15,500. In Country B, income in the highest quintile averages $10,300 and in the lowest quintile $2,900.

Country A describes the United States, and Country B describes the far more equal former Soviet state of Belarus. While everyone in Belarus is relatively much more equal, they are certainly not better off. In fact, relative to the rest of the world, the citizens of Belarus are for the most part, much poorer.

Rejecting income or wealth egalitarianism does not imply rejecting equal rights, equal treatment, or equal access to opportunity, and it does not imply that some people are judged as morally inferior. Society cannot mandate that everyone have equal height, weight, eye color, hair color, or religion, but society should not mandate that everyone make the same economic choices or be in the same economic situation, either. Even if society were to comprise otherwise-identical people who simply have different goals, we should not expect all people to have the same amount of income or wealth at all times.

One of the biggest problems with egalitarianism is it negatively judges people getting richer at different rates, even if everyone in society is getting richer in the process. Furthermore, it negatively judges the fact that every person starts with less and becomes richer throughout his lifetime

Most measures of inequality, such as the Gini coefficient, are snapshots of what people in society have in any given year and do not track what individuals have over their lives. And most of the talk about the top 1% implies that the people in the top 1% remain there. This may have been true in feudalism, where one’s title determined income, but in a market economy most people’s income and wealth change, typically moving upward, over their lifetimes.

By focusing on relative rather than absolute levels of income or wealth, egalitarianism mandates policies that can make everyone poorer as a result. Rather than looking down on increases in income and wealth in differing amounts, we should celebrate and be grateful for the efforts of those who work for the benefit of all. After all, we collectively are choosing, freely, where to spend our hard-earned money. The only entity forcing open our pocketbooks is ironically the same one politicians want to use to increase so-called equalitythe government.

Reprinted from American Institute for Economic Education.

Mexico Won’t Allow US Military Operations Against Cartels

Mexico Won’t Allow US Military Operations Against Cartels

Foreign Minister warns drone strikes would violate sovereignty

President Trump’s move to declare Mexican cartels as terrorist groups is potentially going to be complicated, and Mexican President Obrador sought to establish a red-line, that Mexico will not allow the US to conduct cross-border military operations into Mexico looking for the cartels.

Trump hasn’t said he will send troops, saying that didn’t “want to say what I’m going to do” after the designation of the cartels. He refused to rule out the use of drone strikes in a recent interview, however.

Mexico’s foreign ministry was quick to reject that idea, saying that drone strikes would be a “violation of national sovereignty,” and have contacted the US to seek clarification about what they actually intend to do.

Former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda said US intervention in Mexico is “happening already,” and that he doubts anyone would treat it like an invasion if the US wanted to start sending troops or drones.

Reprinted from Anti-War.com.

The Power of the Meme – My Journey

The Power of the Meme – My Journey

I’m fairly certain the first memes I experienced were on the once famous website Ebaum’s World. I probably didn’t know what to make of them at the time but they were usually funny and I would check back to the site often. After a while I started to see that even though the people who were making them were trying to get a laugh, many were pointing people to the ridiculousness of Iraq War 2 and the prolonged Afghanistan fiasco. A few even caused me to question what I believed at the time but I didn’t consciously realize the effect memes were having on my thought process. It would take a few more years before I realized their power to inject quick blasts of truth into people’s minds.  

When I came to libertarian thought through the Ron Paul/Rudy Giuliani “moment” in 2007, I started to spend a great deal more time online. There they were again, the memes. Ones with Dr Paul’s face and a quick quote of his were probably the most attractive to me. I was especially drawn to the ones that exposed the lunacy of the U.S. government’s foreign policy. I didn’t stop at the memes though. I got Dr. Paul’s collection of House floor speeches, “A Foreign Policy of Freedom” and can point to that book as my true start down the path to becoming a non-interventionist. Unfortunately, people weren’t ready to embrace Ron’s message and he had no chance of getting elected. Yet, he changed the minds of a mass of people who went on to read the works put out by the Mises Institute and the ideas of true liberty started to spread. 

With the election of Obama, and talk that he was “coming for your guns,” I became more active in the online firearms community. By 2010 my Facebook wall was a collage of pro-2A/gun ownership memes due to most of my “friends” being either gun owners or libertarians. Those two groups were hosting the 2A meme party since both are constantly defending their individual rights on the subject. In the following years, especially after the Sandy Hook tragedy, I am confident in saying that pro-firearm memes helped to not only win converts, but stabilize those who were already pro-2A but were succumbing to the emotional arguments being bandied about by people who were either genuinely concerned, or not going to let “a serious crisis go to waste.” 

Having no confidence in the electoral process, especially given the choices between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, in mid-2016 I felt the need to get the message of liberty out there in my own way. I logged into a Twitter account I rarely used it, and started posting “anti-state” memes that I either made myself (a minority of them) or procured from other sources. Many of you reading this came along for the ride and I am grateful (I just wish I had time to post more). When I started posting in 2016, I had a total of 43 followers. In a few months I was over 1,000. Over the next couple of years that multiplied.  

The amount of people who have contacted me to confess that memes I posted caused them to become voluntaryist/anarchist, anti-war or that they changed their mind on gun ownership floors me. When someone told me that the podcast I started in 2017 had changed their mind on who the aggressor was in the Israel/Palestine “conflict,” I was almost brought to tears. Especially when he informed me that he used to live in Israel and was now a former hardcore Zionist. 

My podcast, “Free Man Beyond the Wall,” is at the time of this writing on its 344th episode. I have interviewed all of my heroes including the man who inspired my thinking, Dr. Ron Paul, 4 times now. All of this started because I decided to join in the “meme war.” 

Again, in 2017 (A busy year indeed) I decided to write a book/study guide. Years ago, I did accounting for a Christian book store and noticed that one of their top-selling genre of books were called “Daily Devotionals.” They are laid out over a specific time period (usually a month) and each day would normally have a bible verse plus a short commentary for you to contemplate. My assumption was that these were to be used in the morning.  

My work, “Freedom Through Memedon – The 31-day Guide to Waking Up to Liberty,” uses the same premise but replaces a bible verse with a meme and the inspirational commentary with cold water to your face. In my mind, the guide is perfect for any novice liberty seeker, that (L)ibertarian who needs to take the next step in abandoning faith in the State, or any voluntaryist/anarcho-capitalist/agorist that loves memes and frank commentary.  

People immediately asked me how they should read it. My response was, if it were me, it would be on the back of the toilet ready for that morning visit. Many civilized people chose to keep it on their coffee table to read with their morning java/tea/beverage of choice. I added that I would read the days “lesson” in the morning and start my day with a good “wake up call.” I chose to repeat some of the themes on different days. These are the subjects I find most vital to understanding the power the State has over us. Using a 31-day period, I believe I have laid out a concrete argument for the abolition of the State, using memes and only a few paragraphs. 

At this point in time, to argue that well-crafted memes have no power to plant seeds into the minds of people who are ready to receive their message is ignorant. We are in an age where the corporate press puts out articles where the headline states one thing, and the body contradicts it. People read headlines and that’s it. I can’t tell you how often this happens even in libertarian circles. A meme accomplishes the same purpose that our “betters” do when they release their “banner ad” articles. Our goal is to deal in facts and facts alone. If it causes someone to start asking questions and demanding more information, we’ve won. 

Oppose a Disease at its Beginning

Oppose a Disease at its Beginning

If you give politicians an inch, they’ll take a mile.

John Dickinson was one of the leading writers in the early days of the conflict. He insisted that the colonists needed to “oppose a disease at its beginning,” before the sickness could spread.

Writing under the penname “A Farmer in Pennsylvania,” Dickinson published a series of essays now known as  Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania in a Philadelphia newspaper. Dickinson used his pen to vigorously oppose the Declaratory and Townshend Acts.

The American colonist had effectively nullified the hated Stamp Act by refusing to enforce it and actively resisting its implementation. They defeated the mighty British empire utilizing virtually every strategy and direction available – from resolutions and declarations, to protest, resistance and even non-compliance by government officials. But the British weren’t about to concede their authority over the colonies. When Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, it passed the Declaratory Act declaring its absolute political superiority over the colonies. This Declaratory Act asserted that Parliament could make any laws binding the colonies “in all cases whatsoever.”

A year later, Parliament put its words into action with the passage of the Townshend Acts. These laws imposed new taxes on the importation of paper, paint, lead, glass, and tea, and expanded the British government’s power to fight smuggling. The Townshend Acts included the New York Restraining Act. suspending the Assembly of New York’s legislative powers as punishment for failing to fully comply with orders from the crown.

Dickinson warned that failure to confront this assertion of British power then and there would lead to dire consequences and loss of liberty down the road. In the sixth Letter from a Farmer, he argued that letting the government take on even a little bit of new power would eventually lead to bigger and bigger usurpations in the future.

“All artful rulers, who strive to extend their power beyond its just limits, endeavor to give to their attempts as much semblance of legality as possible. Those who succeed them may venture to go a little further; for each new encroachment will be strengthened by a former. ‘That which is now supported by examples, growing old, will become an example itself,’ and thus support fresh usurpations.”

He continued with this theme in the ninth essay, chronicling the ways that the British Parliament, the Crown, and English judges were expanding their authority over the colonies. He concluded the essay with a warning in the form of a Spanish history lesson.

Spain, Dickinson said, was once free. Its governance was similar to that of the colonies. No money could be raised without the people’s’ consent. But an ongoing war against the Moores required funding. The king received a grant of money to fund the fight, but he was concerned it might not be a sufficient amount to pay for the war effort long-term. So, the king asked that “he might be allowed, for that emergency only, to raise more money without assembling the Cortes.” The Cortes was the Spanish representative body — similar to the Parliament.

Dickinson noted that the proposal was “violently opposed by the best and wisest men in the assembly.” But the majority approved the measure. And thus began a slide down a slippery slope. As Dickinson described it “this single concession was a PRECEDENT for other concessions of the like kind, until at last the crown obtained a general power of raising money, in cases of necessity.”

The legislature gave an inch and the king took a mile.

Dickinson wrote:

“From that period the Cortes ceased to be useful—the people ceased to be free.”

He closed the letter with these Latin words of instruction:

Venienti occurrite morbo.

Oppose a disease at its beginning.

John Adams made a similar argument also using a Latin phrase: “Obsta principiis.” which means withstand beginnings, or resist the first approaches or encroachments. Colloquially, we would say, “nip it in the bud,” which is exactly the phraseology Adams used.

“Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.”

Adams and Dickinson both recognized an important truth. When you allow a government to chip away at the limits on its power, eventually the dam will burst. You will end up with a government exercising virtually unlimited authority – arbitrary power. At that point, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to rein it back in. Adams wrote:

“When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers, and destroyers press upon them so fast, that there is no resisting afterwards.”

You can’t tear down a fence and then expect the animals to stay in the field. Once the fence is gone, the animals will wander. The same thing happens when we tear down fences around government power. The government will wander further and further away from its restraints and accumulate more and more power for itself. As Dickinson wrote, “Each new encroachment will be strengthened by a former.”

Politicians love to use emergencies as an excuse to expand their own power. But once the new policy is in place, it never goes away – even after the emergency has long passed. In fact, the new policy almost always becomes a springboard to expand government power even more. The Patriot Act is a perfect example. Nearly two decades after 9/11 the federal government is still using that act to justify spying on all of us all the time.

This is why we must hold the line on the Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses.

Reprinted from the Tenth Amendment Center

The Real Bombshell of the Impeachment Hearings

The Real Bombshell of the Impeachment Hearings

The most shocking thing about the House impeachment hearings to this point is not a “smoking gun” witness providing irrefutable evidence of quid pro quo. It’s not that President Trump may or may not have asked the Ukrainians to look into business deals between then-Vice President Biden’s son and a Ukrainian oligarch.

The most shocking thing to come out of the hearings thus far is confirmation that no matter who is elected President of the United States, the permanent government will not allow a change in our aggressive interventionist foreign policy, particularly when it comes to Russia.

Even more shocking is that neither Republicans nor Democrats are bothered in the slightest!

Take Lt. Colonel Vindman, who earned high praise in the mainstream media. He did not come forth with first-hand evidence that President Trump had committed any “high crimes” or “misdemeanors.” He brought a complaint against the President because he was worried that Trump was shifting US policy away from providing offensive weapons to the Ukrainian government!

He didn’t think the US president had the right to suspend aid to Ukraine because he supported providing aid to Ukraine.

According to his testimony, Vindman’s was concerned over “influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency.”

“Consensus views of the interagency” is another word for “deep state.”

Vindman continued, “While my interagency colleagues and I were becoming increasingly optimistic on Ukraine’s prospects, this alternative narrative undermined US government efforts to expand cooperation with Ukraine.”

Let that sink in for a moment: Vindman did not witness any crimes, he just didn’t think the elected President of the United States had any right to change US policy toward Ukraine or Russia!

Likewise, his boss on the National Security Council Staff, Fiona Hill, sounded more like she had just stepped out of the 1950s with her heated Cold War rhetoric. Citing the controversial 2017 “Intelligence Community Assessment” put together by then-CIA director John Brennan’s “hand-picked” analysts, she asserted that, “President Putin and the Russian security services aim to counter US foreign policy objectives in Europe, including in Ukraine.”

And who gets to decide US foreign policy objectives in Europe? Not the US President, according to government bureaucrat Fiona Hill. In fact, Hill told Congress that, “If the President, or anyone else, impedes or subverts the national security of the United States in order to further domestic political or personal interests, that is more than worthy of your attention.”

Who was Fiona Hill’s boss? Former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who no doubt agreed that the president has no right to change US foreign policy. Bolton’s the one who “explained” that when Trump said US troops would come home it actually meant troops would stay put.

One by one, the parade of “witnesses” before House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff sang from the same songbook. As US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland put it, “in July and August 2019, we learned that the White House had also suspended security aid to Ukraine. I was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid, as the Ukrainians needed those funds to fight against Russian aggression.”

Meanwhile, both Democrats and Republicans in large majority voted to continue spying on the rest of us by extending the unpatriotic Patriot Act. Authoritarianism is the real bipartisan philosophy in Washington.

Reprinted from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

#110 Conservative Infighting With Henry Szamota

#110 Conservative Infighting With Henry Szamota

Happy Thanksgiving! Henry Szamota of The Bro History Podcast joins the show to discuss the best topics one should bring up over Thanksgiving dinner with the fam: politics and religion.

Henry and I cover the latest developments of the ongoing conservative infighting, US foreign policy, The Federal Reserve, and how bitcoin could save the world.

Honestly, there’s no reason on God’s green Earth NOT to talk about this stuff with the family as you carve your Thanksgiving dinosaur and guzzle down mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce…I didn’t mean together, but you do you.

Speaking of giving thanks, thank YOU for listening to the show. Rate, Subscribe, and Review.

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Globalist-Endorsed War on Cash May Be China’s Next Terrifying Weapon

Globalist-Endorsed War on Cash May Be China’s Next Terrifying Weapon

Recent protests in Hong Kong, along with the resulting fall out from international corporations questioned for their relationships with mainland China, has placed a renewed focus on the authoritarianism of the Chinese Communist Party. This has led to several articles identifying ways in which Western countries have learned from the CCP, including Europe’s growing embrace of web censorship and growing interest in the social credit system rolled out in 2018. Given that it wasn’t that long ago that it was common to see Western leaders and neoliberal commentators openly envy aspects of the Chinese political system, these concerns are certainly worth exploring. What should be of equal interest, however, is the ways China may be learning from the West.

The next arm weapon the CCP may plan to wield against its citizens is a War on Cash.

As Joseph Salerno, among others, has noted for years now, a successful War on Cash would represent a new escalation in government’s long history of weaponizing currency against the population. Moving far beyond the clipping of coins as a means of stealth tax collection, the purpose of a War on Cash is not simply to strengthen a government’s grasp on the wealth of its citizens — but the move becomes a highly effective means of tracking any who find themselves in the crosshairs of the state.

These features make a cashless society attractive for any government — which explains why it has become an increasingly popular goal for politicians, bureaucrats, and central bankers in the West. This is precisely why we’ve seen the cause promoted from such influential economists as Kenneth Rogoff, former chief economist of the IMF, Marvin Goodfriend, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon who was once nominated to the Fed by Donald Trump, as well as various economic ministers. The governments of Australia and Sweden have made a cashless society an explicit policy goal within their countries, while some central banks — such as the ECB — have begun phasing out higher denomination bills as an opening move in their own cashless campaigns.

Of course, the international perspective of the Swedish government is quite different than that of China’s — and understandably so. For all of Sweden’s issues, there are no comparisons to the CCP’s brutal child policies or its treatment of religious minorities. What should be understood, however, is that a successful move to a cashless society would give the Swedish government similar tools over its population as those the Communist Party seeks over its dominion. While the former may ground their policy aims in “combating drug trafficking” and “convenience,” the end result in both cases is a new terrifying weapon in the hands of the state.

Luckily, it’s easier for the government to desire a cashless society than it is to create it, and we’ve seen countries like Sweden rethink their approach. There is reason to think that China may be less apprehensive. Not only is the government more powerful, but it is also more desperate.

Given the surveillance power of a cashless society, the potential of joining a social credit system with a digital yuan makes sense. What’s just as important for China is to help further tighten the CCP’s grip on its struggling economy.

As I’ve noted before, lost in the attention paid to Trump’s trade war with China, China’s financial system is showing signs of a growing strain. Not only have we seen escalating bank failures and the creation of new bailout devices for failing firms, but some companies have resorted to paying their workers with IOUs as they run short on cash. Meanwhile, Chinese local governments are now defaulting on debts to contractors. Given the importance of economic growth to the CCP’s control of the country, its understandable why we’ve seen President Xi forge new high-tech weapons to be used against the population.

Interestingly, China’s desperation is being confused by some as a sign of strength. For example, some have misunderstood the underlying motives for the CCP’s renewed interest in cryptocurrency.

While much has been made of Chinese media giving Bitcoin a front-page treatment, the tight control the CCP has over its financial system makes actual use of private crypto extremely difficult. Instead, the stage is being set for moving the yuan to the blockchain. While some have sold this as some novel challenge against the dollar — even suggesting that the Bank of China could try to peg it to gold — this is, as Daniel Lacalle explained, a delusion.

This is not a trump card to be used against Uncle Sam, but a new tool of CCP oppression against is own people. As noted by Jason Burack, a market analyst that has been closely following Chinese economic news, “throughout history, governments have always hijacked technology and used it for nefarious purposes.”

At this point, the CCP successfully waging a War on Cash is mere speculation — though a recent move to allow tourists access to digital payment systems such as AliPay might help pave the way for that transition. It would be a policy change very much in character with the authoritarian regime in Beijing — and one that has long been sold as “benign” by the more “liberal” globalist elite.

Reprinted from the Mises Institute.

Warning: Actual Costs of Government Programs Higher Than Advertised

Warning: Actual Costs of Government Programs Higher Than Advertised

As outrageous as the price tag promised to us for initiatives like Elizabeth Warren’s healthcare plan, Bernie’s ‘Medicare for All’ plan, or AOC’s ‘Green New Deal,’ history tells us the actual cost to taxpayers would be far higher.

In its first year, Medicare cost $3 billion, and as reported by Reason Magazine, “The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that Medicare would cost only about $12 billion by 1990 (a figure that included an allowance for inflation).”

The actual price tag in 1990?

$107 billion, a full nine times the original projection.

Similarly, Medicaid – the jointly funded state-federal program – was sold to taxpayers and voters with what proved to be a wildly unrealistic price tag.

According to this Federalist article, “In 1965, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that Medicaid … would cost $238 million in its first year. It actually cost more than $1 billion. By 1971, Medicaid spending had reached about $6.5 billion, blowing away all previous estimates.”

Naturally, the exploding costs of programs like Medicare and Medicaid mean that taxpayers are forced to cough up far more money than what they were promised at the time of passage.

As Reason noted, “In 1965, Medicare architects declared that the initial tax rate of 1 percent of income after 1967 would be sufficient to fund the program for 25 years.” This of course proved to be complete fantasy and by 1972 “the first of several increases in both the payroll tax rate and the wage base against which it was levied.”

It took all of five years for the initial promises to be shattered and for the federal leviathan to reach deeper into the pockets of taxpayers.

If voters knew what the actual burden would be for such government schemes, there’s little doubt public support for them would plummet.

Which leads us back to modern proposals from the likes of Warren and Sanders.

Warren, for instance, has been selling her healthcare plan on the basis that it would largely be funded by a “wealth tax” only impacting households with assets valued above $50 million.

Its easy to see the political appeal of such promises, few people oppose taxes that they won’t have to pay. Targeting a small minority of extremely wealthy people to fund a program providing benefits for a significant share of voters is a well-worn strategy.

But given the history of other massive government programs, are we to believe that only the ‘ultra-rich’ will end up paying for Warren’s or Sanders’ healthcare plans?

We saw how quickly Medicare and Medicaid costs exploded, prompting a heftier tax bill on working Americans.

Moreover, we can look to the modern income tax as more evidence. When the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913, the initial federal income tax was targeted at the “top 1%” of earners at the time, with rates ranging from a paltry 1 percent to 6 percent.

A tax sold as only impacting “the rich” as a means to fund government expansion. Sound familiar?

We’ve seen what’s happened to the federal income tax ever since, so why should we believe that Warren’s “wealth tax” won’t have a similar fate of being not only increased, but expanded dramatically to include the middle class?

And dramatic cost overruns are not just found in grand, national government overhauls of entire industries. Local projects, like light rail lines, also consistently soak taxpayers for far bigger price tags than the one used to win support.

2015 analysis by Cato Institute analyst Randal O’Toole found “Rail transit projects typically cost about 40 to 50 percent more than projected, with some projects costing double the original projections and very few costing less than 20 percent more than the projections.”

For instance, a light rail line built in Charlotte, North Carolina roughly a decade ago exceeded projected costs by about 2-½ times initial estimates, costing local taxpayers an additional $300 million beyond what they were promised.

More recently, a light rail line in Maryland – slated for completion in 2023 – is already facing cost overruns exceeding $250 million.

The bottom line is this: never believe the cost estimates of government projects. Politicians will try to promise you that their massive schemes can be funded by modest taxes on “the rich,” but don’t fall for it.

In reality, massive cost overruns for government programs are the norm, whether they be national healthcare initiatives or local light rail programs.

It typically doesn’t take long before taxes on ‘the rich’ are revealed to be insufficient to fund the growing government leviathan, and you’ll soon find that those taxes on ‘the rich’ have expanded to take a bigger bite out of your paycheck.

Whenever you hear a politician has a plan, hold on to your wallet.

Reprinted from Erase The State.

The ‘Landlord’ is MY Employee

The ‘Landlord’ is MY Employee

Imagine having an employee whose job was to make sure you are safe from the elements and if anything stopped working in your dwelling, they had to fix it on what YOU paid them. What if you had a contract that stated if they didn’t provide these services in a set amount of time you could either, file a tort claim against them, or walk away with no repercussions and contract with someone else, or both. Would you consider it unfathomable if you were informed that some people were paying this person as little as $800 a month, even less? Some might call that near slave wages! 

For well over a century now, people referring to themselves as socialists and communists, have sought to demonize the “landlord.” These evil imbeciles have gone so far as to murder them en masse. A quick search of social media will find college students and their professors cheering on the ending of the lives of people who provide more service to humanity than they and their Gender Studies degree ever will. Even the term is meant to invoke a caricature of someone who controls your life and who you are enslaved to. This is of course nonsense. That any person with an IQ over 60 takes this term, and its cartoonish interpretation seriously, is a testament to the success of government schools and their indoctrination program which starts in the formative years.  

A quick breakdown as to the services provided by the one who is at your beck and call 24 hours a day, proves the cretin who vilifies them is an enemy of the survival of the species. 

Shelter 

“Mother Nature is trying to kill you.” That phrase is taken from the title of a Dan Riskin book  but I’m sure its origins are apocryphal by now. There was a reason our ancestors lived in caves, then huts, so on and so on. The natural elements of this planet could end their existence. Whether they lived close to the Arctic or on the equator, weather was the main threat to their lives. To have to bring up the last Ice Age to make the point is foolish.  

Not only climate but animals were also a threat to life and limb. The “landlord” provides safety to all who either cannot own their own land, or doesn’t want to. 

Food Storage 

One of the greatest dilemmas in history has been the preservation of our nutritional sustenance. A quick glance back gives you examples of people salting meats, placing their stock in cold streams and various other methods. They had to constantly innovate in a time of prehistoric and medieval technologies or else one of the main things they needed to stay alive could kill them.  

With the advent of modern refrigeration, this problem that lasted for millennia is all but solved. Almost all landlords provide one of these life saving devices with the property you lease from them. 

Safety from Predators 

When a libertarian is asked to give the elevator pitch for what they believe, many will say “don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff.” No libertarian is deluded enough to believe that everyone will follow that standard so having a safe place for one’s person and property is essential.  

As has been discussed about our ancestors, a dwelling that protects both is vital for survival.  The service that the landlord provides, in the overwhelming majority of cases, is adequate for anyone’s needs. 

Luxury   

Having items in your home that simply make you happy is a relatively new idea for the masses. When the modern nation state was formed, only a small minority could have what are termed “luxury goods.” Usually, only the kings and their most trusted advisors could acquire these. In the last 100 or so years that has changed. Televisions, computers and the internet are common-place even in homes that many of the enemies of the “landlord” would consider low-income. These “treacherous” property owners will often provide these amenities in your contract along with marble floors, walk-in closets and even bidets. 

If one wished to be sarcastic, they may ask, “HOW DARE THEY?!” 

 

What is the alternative to this beneficial arrangement for all, central planning? Having the State build cookie-cutter dwellings for the masses? History has shown that “public housing” becomes run down and dilapidated in the absence of someone with a financial interest in keeping the property up to a certain standard. Mention the concept of “resale value” to a commie/socialist and I’m sure their wiring would malfunction as quickly as that of a New York City housing project’s. 

Private ownership providing a service, even in this system of crony-capitalism, is preferable to that of government control. The question must be asked to those who wish to see government, or centrally planned housing, whether they believe food should be provided in the same way. That should be a yes or no answer. If it is no, then why would they trust central planners with sheltering the masses? If the answer is yes, those who disagree would do well to separate themselves from these sociopaths sooner rather than later. 

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House Votes to End Iraq War

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#119 Yan Pritzker

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#117 Zane Witherspoon

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#116 bitcoin is Dead

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#115 Will Porter- Debunking The Russia Gate Saga

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