Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Right and Left: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly



As a former conservative I definitely have some sympathies for the political right. But as an anarchist (one who rejects the initiation of force), I sympathize with some parts of the leftist agenda as well. I want to briefly describe how I view the two sides of the mainstream political spectrum* through the lens of liberty.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Prince of Peace



It is Christmas time and the best time of year to focus on the wonderful miracle that was Jesus' birth and His subsequent life. His perfect example throughout his mortal sojourn serves as the absolute best template that we can use to try to improve our lives. His Gospel is love. Everything He does is done out of love. He is loveJesus is the Prince of Peace and I believe that we need to be more like Him. How can we do that when we live in a time that is vastly different from the one He was in? I believe it is fairly easy to know what He would and would not do in today's world if we simply imagine Him living with us in our time.

Jesus would never force anyone to do anything against their will.* His Gospel is voluntary. He would let people do whatever they wished with their own property and let them conduct business however they pleased. I cannot imagine that Jesus would ever vote for anyone who pretended to have authority over the people. During His time on Earth Jesus completely disregarded Israel's political leaders and their demands to the point where He was actually a fugitive from the law. Indeed, He spent an awful amount of time condemning those in the political establishment for their extreme hypocrisy. I cannot picture Jesus arresting anyone for any nonviolent activity. He certainly had no trouble letting someone go free who was accused of doing something so offensive to the sensibilities of the time as to warrant a death sentence. Jesus would never support endless foreign interventions that destroy so many lives. In fact, at that time the people of Israel were themselves victims of foreign intervention by the world's only superpower. And finally, Jesus would most certainly not support the use of torture in order to extract intelligence from individuals with a dubious connection to terrorism. In short, Jesus would not support today's status quo.

Let us all be more Christlike and peaceful this Christmas season by taking a close look at the policies we support and viewing them through the lens of the teachings and example of the Prince of Peace.

*Jesus' only violent outburst was when He was driving merchants out of the temple. It can be argued that, since the temple was His house, Jesus was simply exercising His property rights.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Are You Secretly an Anarchist?



Here are three simple questions. The answers to these questions will indicate whether you are an anarchist or not (remember, an anarchist simply believes that no one has the right to rule anyone else).

1. Do you have the right to take someone else's money?

2. Can you delegate to someone else a right that you yourself do not have?

3. Can two or more people delegate to a third person a right that they do not have?

If you answered "no" to all three questions, a consistent application of your morals (beliefs, personal ethics, understanding of rights, etc.) will result in the complete rejection of the legitimacy of the state (any coercive government). You are an anarchist. Let me explain:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What is the State?



The state is the belief that people are too stupid to know what they want.


The state is the embodiment of the belief that liberty is too dangerous for individuals to enjoy.

The state is a gang that offers "protection" to those who pay up but threatens those who do not.

The state is the source of violent interventions that cause never-ending unintended consequences.

The state is the primary cause of non-natural deaths.

The state is a religion with its own idols (flags), chants (pledge of allegiance), sacraments (voting), high priests (politicians), rituals (war), scriptures (the constitution), priesthood (political authority and legislation), patron saints (dead presidents), and tithes (taxes).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Greed Leads to Good Deeds



Greed gets a bad rap. I do not believe greed deserves the condemnation that it regularly receives at the hands of its critics. And I am not even referring to the violence* introduced by some greedy people. I am only speaking of greed by itself. Those who speak against (non-violent) greed often speak of environmental exploitation, income inequality, spiritual decay, or the destruction of society. But let me help you understand greed and the natural actions taken by greedy people, for then you will see that you have nothing to fear from this alleged bogeyman.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What is an Anarchist Thankful For?



You may think that the only thing an anarchist does is complain, complain, complain. Anarchists perceive more problems than most people so it is fair to say that we make a disproportionate amount of criticisms and condemnations. However, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to show the world what this anarchist is truly thankful for.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Beneficiaries of Violence



Aggression is the initiation or threat of physical force against an individual or their property. The state commits acts of aggression on a regular basis. The entire institution of the state is based completely on violence. That is why I seek the complete abolition of the state.

When I engage with other people about the illegitimacy of the state, I often hear the claim that some need would not be met if the state did not exist. There are many examples of these claims. Content creators would not be able to get royalties without copyright law. People would use dangerous drugs if the state did not enforce drug laws. The job market would be flooded with low-wage labor without border security. Space exploration and other scientific research would not get funding without taxes. We would all die from poisoned food without the FDA. The list goes on and on.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Football is More Important than Politics



Before I became a libertarian I was completely obsessed with politics. The Drudge Report was pretty much the most important website in the world for many years. I needed to know what was going on in the political world. I needed to know all the rotten things the democrats were doing and how the heroic republicans were going to stop it. I needed to share every little story with everyone in the world. They needed to know!

Things have changed. I learned about the non-aggression principle. I became a libertarian and eventually an anarchist. Suddenly politics were not so confrontational and scary. Suddenly I could have rational conversations with people without feeling the impulse to attack liberalism at every turn. Eventually politics took a back seat to more important issues. For a time I believed that I needed to tell everyone that the state is humanity's worse enemy. While I still believe that people need to know, I understand that it is not necessarily my place to persuade them. I began to think about my actual (and fairly limited) sphere of influence. How can I apply anarchy in my own life? How can I help my friends and family? How can I promote technology and new voluntary systems to replace the old violent institutions?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Are You Waiting for Superman?



Let's pretend there is a type of product that almost everyone wants. It's in very high demand. Multiple businesses compete in order to provide this product to all the people who want it. Businesses who can deliver a quality product are rewarded with more customers and they grow. Businesses who deliver a poor quality product cannot attract customers and they fail. The product itself, through this competitive system, gets better and better with each iteration. But then the state comes along. The state decides to adopt one particular version of the product and mandate that only that version is legitimate and all other versions have to be abandoned. Then the state decides to provide this product itself and make it illegal or almost impossible for most people to obtain the product any other way. The state's version of the product has many flaws but the state continually fails to actually improve it. And now most everyone is stuck with a poor quality product and they have no other options.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Political Hypocrisy



One thing that I have learned to do very well as a libertarian is to identify the inconsistencies that are inherent to politics. The entire system is organized to support the people who are in power. To accomplish this objective the elite need the masses to support ideas that actually do not make any sense. In this post I want to give several examples that point out the hypocrisy of common political positions. Not every example will apply to every person but I hope that, after reading this, everyone will put a little more thought into the ideas that they hold concerning government.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Liberty on the Big Screen: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Welcome to the first installment of "Liberty on the Big Screen". In this series I examine specific films as they portray and advocate the principles of liberty. This week we are going to take a look at Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (WARNING: SPOILERS!)




In this sequel, Captain America must save the world from SHIELD's own giant flying aircraft carriers as the evil organization Hydra has infiltrated SHIELD from within. To make matters worse, Hydra has brainwashed Captain America's old friend and turned him into an evil super soldier. This movie, by the directors' own admission, is meant to make a political statement. Let us analyze and interpret that statement.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I Want You to Hoard Bitcoins

Bitcoin has been going through some interesting times lately. A year ago, the price of a bitcoin was about $120. A short time later, a period of rapid growth began, and on November 29, a record high was reached at $1,242. That was when a lot of people suddenly started paying attention. Since then, it has been highly volatile and it is now hanging around $340. Should I be worried?




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Technology is Liberty, Part VI: What Comes Next?



Let us go over the first five parts of this blog series for a moment. We know that, to increase our personal liberty, we must have more choices that cannot be interfered with. We know that technology will help us do that. We have seen examples of such liberty-enhancing technology throughout history. We are currently in the midst of a decentralized technological revolution as we learn to use the internet, peer-to-peer networking, and Bitcoin. What comes next?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Technology is Liberty, Part V: A Decentralized World



In the last couple of posts in this series we have spent a lot of time going over money and how a decentralized currency like Bitcoin can be quite beneficial. Money is, after all, the basis of almost all economic activity. In this post I want to discuss other areas of life that can be improved through decentralization. Not all of the things I will discuss here are completely decentralized, but any amount of decentralization can help people better avoid the state (any coercive government).

Commerce

For online shopping we currently have eBay and Amazon. At the end of this year we will see the release of OpenBazaar (currently in beta). OpenBazaar is a completely decentralized online marketplace that can facilitate anonymous commerce. Sellers will be able to list anything they want to sell. Buyers will be able to use Bitcoin to purchase anything that is for sale, with any degree of anonymity that they care to use. There will be no censorship and there will be no way to shut it down without shutting down the individual computers of every single buyer and seller.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The World's Most Obvious Conspiracy



Who are the Illuminati? What happened to Tower 7? Was the moon landing staged? What is the New World Order? Did TWA Flight 800 get shot down? Are airplanes poisoning us with chemtrails? Is the world secretly ruled by the Rothschild family? Who shot JFK? What really happened at Sandy Hook? These are the questions posed by countless conspiracy theorists. While significant historical events always deserve more scrutiny, I am not overly concerned with any of these alleged conspiracies. Instead, I focus on the most dangerous, insidious, and obvious conspiracy the world has ever known: The enslavement of every man, woman, and child on Earth.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Police: Public vs. Private



In a completely free society, there would be no public provision of law enforcement. Justice would simply be another service provided by the free market. Some might object by saying, "Justice sometimes requires violence and a market for violence is not moral and cannot be tolerated". Unfortunately for any such skeptic, there is already a market for violence and the state has given the public police a monopoly in that market. Additionally, the private provision of justice has always been around and is still around today. Therefore, I find it prudent to compare public police and private police in various relevant areas.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Best Sandwich for Everyone

Do you have a favorite sandwich? If so, then it must be the best sandwich in the world. No other sandwich can satisfy like your sandwich can, right? Everyone should enjoy the best sandwich in the world and no one should be exempt. By golly, we have to make sure everyone gets that awesome sandwich because otherwise there would be no justice in the world. We had better get the word out.





Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dare to Depart the World of Allowable Opinion



I listen to the Tom Woods Show and one of the last lines in the audio intro says, "Beware citizen. You are now departing the world of allowable opinion." That is truly one of the themes of the show as Tom Woods and the guest will often have discussions and debates on questions that would absolutely never be allowed on mainstream media outlets. In contrast, typical mainstream discussions center around questions that are mostly inconsequential and irrelevant. Such discussions are meant to make sure that the "world of allowable opinion" remains small. I believe that everyone should strive to expand their horizon and have discussions that are more meaningful. I am not saying that everyone needs to have a more extreme opinion. I simply think that people need to explore more broadly and be prepared to shift their opinion based on facts and logic. I decided to put together some examples to illustrate what I am talking about. Each example will introduce a topic and include a trivial question and a relevant question.

Afghanistan
Trivial: Should we pull the troops out of Afghanistan within five years or ten years?
Relevant: Why are we not pulling every last soldier out of Afghanistan as we speak?

Central Bank
Trivial: What interest rate should the Federal Reserve set?
Relevant: Is a central bank beneficial or harmful to the economy?

Citizenship
Trivial: How can we stop the federal government from granting citizenship to anchor babies?
Relevant: Does the federal government need to know anything about anyone?

Constitution
Trivial: What limitations on government did the Founding Fathers put into the Constitution?
Relevant: After independence from Great Britain, did the States need a constitution or a federal government?

Drugs
Trivial: What is the best public policy to discourage drug use?
Relevant: Will the elimination of public policies on drug use discourage drug use?

Education
Trivial: How can we direct more tax money towards education?
Relevant: Is school the best place for children?

Entitlements
Trivial: How can we ensure that Social Security benefits will be there when people need it?
Relevant: How can we let people opt out of Social Security?

Environment
Trivial: How can the government save the environment?
Relevant: How can property rights protect the environment better than regulation?

Foreign Policy
Trivial: How can the United States shape world events to their advantage?
Relevant: What lessons can we learn from Switzerland's armed neutrality over the last 200 years?

Health

Trivial: What should we replace Obamacare with?
Relevant: What are the economic benefits of eliminating not only Obamacare, but also Medicare and Medicaid?

History
Trivial: Who was a better leader? Lincoln or Churchill?
Relevant: Are the "great leaders" of the past actually responsible for unnecessary death and destruction?

Immigration
Trivial: How do we stop the influx of illegal immigrants?
Relevant: How can immigration increase my productivity?

Infrastructure
Trivial: How can we fix our crumbling road system?
Relevant: What is the best way to privatize public roads?

Israel
Trivial: How can the United States help Israel?
Relevant: Would I materially support Israel if I were not already taxed for it?

Jobs
Trivial: How can we stop the outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries?
Relevant: Is the outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries a bad thing?

Laws
Trivial: What new laws need to be passed?
Relevant: Which law should we get rid of first?

Marriage
Trivial: Should we allow gays to get a marriage license?
Relevant: Should we allow the state to license marriages?

Minimum Wage
Trivial: What is the best minimum wage?
Relevant: Is a minimum wage at any level economically beneficial?

Police
Trivial: Under what circumstances can a policeman search someone against their will?
Relevant: How can private police do a better job than public police?

Public Land
Trivial: Should we use public land for logging, recreation, or conservation?
Relevant: How can the complete privatization of land benefit everyone?

States' Rights
Trivial: Will Arizona's law withstand a Supreme Court challenge?
Relevant: Does Arizona need to be a part of the United States?

Taxes
Trivial: What should the tax rate be for the top tax bracket?
Relevant: How can we eliminate the income tax?

Terrorism
Trivial: What is the best way to kill terrorists?
Relevant: Why do some people feel so strongly about harming the United States?

Voting
Trivial: What type of person should you vote for?
Relevant: Should you vote?

Water
Trivial: How should California enforce its water rationing during the drought?
Relevant: How can a price system help Californians in regards to water?

Zoning
Trivial: What should be taken into account when crafting zoning laws?
Relevant: What are the moral implications of zoning laws?

I hope that you now have an idea of the vast range of ideas that should have a part in any debate on any important topic. The next time you are engaged in a discussion on something that affects many people, ask yourself if the scope of your discussion is trivial or relevant.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Technology is Liberty, Part IV: What can Bitcoin do for Me?

Special thanks to Mike Hearn who provided many of the concepts that form the basis of this post.

We have seen how Bitcoin can do some amazing things that benefit humanity in general. Despite those long-term benefits that I outlined in Part III, you may be wondering, “What can Bitcoin do for me personally?” Bitcoin allows people to do some really cool things that can directly improve their lives*. There are probably too many to discuss here, but I will attempt to describe some of the most significant of them. Keep in mind that, while the actual execution of all these things is fairly complex, eventually software will be able to make them as easy as sending an email.

Multi-Signature Wallets


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I am Against State Marriage



There is a lot of debate about gay marriage and whether or not states should institute it. A lot of gay people feel that their rights are being violated if they cannot get married. A lot of other people feel that the state has no right to redefine the definition of marriage. Many libertarians feel that the obvious answer is to get the state to allow gay marriage since it does not matter what peaceful choices individuals make. I disagree with that answer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Anarchy is Not Anti-Organization

I believe in self-ownership, meaning that each individual owns himself and is his own sovereign. I believe that the non-aggression principle is valid, meaning that the initiation of force is illegitimate. The consistent application of these principles leads me to completely reject the legitimacy of the government. That is what makes me an anarchist and anti-government.



A lot of misunderstanding arises after people hear that I am anti-government. Many people assume that I must be anti-organization and anti-cooperation but nothing could be further from the truth. I believe I have identified the root of the misunderstanding. It is actually my fault and it is due to my use of ambiguous terms.

Ambiguity: Is this a duck or a rabbit?



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You Don't Have to Care About the Middle East



It's the same story again and again and again: Two groups with a long history of bad blood are killing each other in a country in the Middle East (or close to that region) and the US government backs one of the groups. It has happened in Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and many other places. In every case the US government picks a side for some reason and, predictably, most of the conservatives (and a lot of liberals, too) get in line to support the government's actions. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Technology is Liberty, Part III: Bitcoin

In Part I of this series we discussed the need to increase our choices in order to have more liberty. In Part II we went over historical examples of liberty-enhancing technologies. This third part will focus on what I believe is the most significant technology for anyone who wants to have more liberty: Bitcoin. I submit that the best way to truly understand the implications of Bitcoin is to first understand money and the history behind it.

The History of Money*



Money was invented to facilitate trade. It's difficult to have a lot of trade (and therefore, increased wealth) without money. An economy without money is called a barter economy. The difficulty involved with a barter economy can be illustrated with an example: Imagine that you have an apple orchard. Obviously you can't just live on apples forever so you use your apples to trade for other goods. Let's say that you want wheat. Here's where the problem comes in. You need to find someone who has wheat and who also wants to trade it for apples. You might never find that person. And even if you did, for the trade to work, the apples and the wheat both have to be picked/harvested and available at the same time and at the same place. These are difficult barriers to overcome without the tool that we call money.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Technology is Liberty, Part II: History

In Part I of this series, I introduced the idea that one way to measure your liberty is to take all the peaceful choices you are "allowed" to make and divide them by all the peaceful choices you could potentially make (L=A/C). This can be thought of as your personal percentage of liberty. We want to increase that percentage by creating new choices that cannot be interfered with. Technology, and the tools that are created by it, can help us do that. In this post I want to go over some historical examples of technology that have already helped people increase their liberty.

The Printing Press

One of the biggest examples of liberty-enhancing technology in the last one thousand years is the printing press. For countless centuries only the political and religious powers that dominated civilization had the resources to be able to distribute information to the masses. Education and moral guidance almost exclusively came through official channels. Thus, the population was controlled by the control of information. The printing press changed everything.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Technology is Liberty, Part I: The Formula

You have complete personal liberty when you can make any peaceful choice available to you without any violent interference. Therefore, it stands to reason that you can measure your personal percentage of liberty by identifying the peaceful choices you are "allowed" to make (i.e. the peaceful choices that will not get you in trouble with the government) and dividing those choices by all the peaceful choices you could potentially make, regardless of the consequences. We can now make a formula to express your personal liberty:



Your personal liberty (L) is equal to the peaceful choices you are "allowed" to make (A) divided by the peaceful choices you can potentially make (C).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Welcome, New Immigrants!



I'm sure that most people have heard about the recent influx of people, including many children, coming over the border. This is part of a long-term trend of many thousands of people coming to this country "illegally" over the last several decades. I'm no fan of putting children in dangerous situations, but as long as children are taken care of by their parents or guardians, I don't mind at all how many people decide to come live here. 

I didn't use to think this way. Before I became a libertarian, I used to hold a typical conservative view on immigration. I believed that there was a right way and a wrong way to come into the country. I didn't really think about the reasons behind it all so I just accepted the laws without question. And then I was led to a blog post about immigration by Connor Boyack. I had read some of Connor's writings before and, at the time, I thought he was a conservative like me. I read the first sentence of his blog post and it said, "I, an advocate of liberty and staunch defender of the Constitution, support amnesty for illegal immigrants." I couldn't believe it. I simply could not understand how a conservative could support such a thing. So I was driven to understand how he came to his conclusion. It was a very long blog post but I read it all, and by the end of it, I had completely changed my perspective on immigration and I no longer recognized governmental authority to interfere with the free movement of individuals. Thus began my journey into liberty.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How do You Spread Liberty?



I meant what I said in the title of this post. This blog post is just a question. And I want answers. I have many ideas for future blog posts but nothing was ready for this week. So I decided to do something a little different.

There are many ways to spread the message of liberty. Some ways are more effective while other ways are less effective. I want to hear your thoughts on the matter. What ways do you advocate? What ways do you NOT advocate? I want as many comments as possible but even just one will still be helpful. So, don't be shy! Comment!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Let's Play "Is it a Crime?"



Welcome to everyone's favorite gameshow, "Is it a Crime?"! I'm your host, Dan Pratt. As always, the object of the game is to determine how many violent acts each contestant can get away with. The contestant who is allowed to commit the most amount of brutal deeds will win the game! Today's game features two very special contestants. Our challenger for today grew up in your hometown, likes to do the things that you do, and just wants to live his life in peace. Welcome, Average Joe! And we welcome back our defending champion. He was conceived as a tool for forceful domination, enjoys getting involved in everyone's lives, and believes that there is only one way to do everything. Welcome, Government! We will ask each contestant whether or not specific activities constitute a crime. Let's go straight to the questions!



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

That Awkward Moment You Realize You are Promising to Obey a Piece of Fabric



Have you ever thought about the Pledge of Allegiance? I mean really thought about it. People all over the country say it all the time, usually without thinking about it. But where did it come from? Did George Washington write it on wet parchment as he courageously crossed the Delaware River? Did Abraham Lincoln dictate it as he lay dying from a fatal gunshot wound? Did some entrepreneur use the words of a socialist to market and sell American flags? You would think that finding out the origin of the pledge would be an important part of understanding it. And besides the origin, why do we say it?

Let me tell you what went on in my head when, for the first time ever, I decided to think about the words of the Pledge of Allegiance and decide whether I agreed with them or not.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How to End a Government in Six Easy Steps



Any government is illegitimate and, therefore, needs to cease to exist. But how will that actually happen? How can you go back to the way things were before government existed? Governments have been interfering with the free market for a long time and it would be very difficult to try to reverse everything that even a single government has done. I have a proposal for dealing with such a situation. My plan is simple, it can be done in an orderly fashion, and it requires no additional aggression or central planning.

Step 1: Get a critical mass of individuals to reject the notion of government authority (simple enough, right?).


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Liberty Glossary



Learning about liberty can be confusing, as many people who talk about it and describe it often use terms differently from what most people are used to. Therefore, I decided to create a glossary to assist students of liberty to navigate a new perspective on common terms. Any underlining indicates a defined term within the glossary. If you believe any important terms are missing, please let me know in the comments. Happy learning!

Aggression - The initiation of force or the threat of force. If one party commits aggression, it is implied that no other party used force or the threat of force before the aggression occurred. Aggression usually includes breaking the terms of a contract and fraud.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why I am an Anarchist (in Six Words or More)



The initiation of force is illegitimate.


That’s the non-aggression principle and that’s really all that needs to be said. I believe it to be true, I believe that it is a universal principle, and when that principle is extended outwards and applied to every imaginable component of society, the only possible conclusion about the proper role of government that can be reached is that legitimate government is impossible.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I am Optimistic for the Future of Liberty



I am optimistic about the future. I believe that more people will enjoy liberty in the future than ever before in the history of the world. It's easy to become pessimistic when you learn about the constant abuse of human freedom by governments around the world. I don't necessarily believe liberty is always increasing. There are certainly speed bumps along the way where things can get worse (sometimes much worse). But I will briefly focus on two reasons why I do not fear for the overall future of liberty.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I Believe in States' Rights, But Only When the States are Right



Many people concerned with liberty often cite the concept of States' Rights.  States' Rights essentially refers to the constitutional fact that all the powers of government that were not specifically delegated to the federal government, and that were not specifically prohibited by the Constitution, were reserved for the States, or the people, to exercise.  This fact is embodied in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.  A cursory glance at the current situation in the United States will reveal numerous violations of the Tenth Amendment.  Anything that the federal government does that is not specifically outlined in the Constitution violates the letter and the spirit of the Constitution.  It is not hard to find or think of specific examples so I will not do that here.

So does this mean that an individual state is allowed to pass oppressive laws, subject the people to violence, and take away their rights, simply because it is NOT the federal government?  The answer is a resounding NO!  The thought is not only anti-liberty, but also unconstitutional.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Basketball, Racism, and the Free Market



There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the recorded comments made by Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.  Sterling apparently told a woman that he didn't want her to bring any black people to the games.  As a result, the National Basketball Association decided to ban Sterling for life.  That would prohibit him from attending any NBA events or having a role in any NBA activities.  The league will also try to force Sterling to sell the team. 

Many people are encouraged by the action the NBA is taking.  Others might be worried that this amounts to an infringement on Sterling’s freedom of speech.  So what do the principles of liberty have to say about this situation?  Well, it all depends on what kinds of agreements are made between the NBA and team owners.  At first glance it seems that the lifetime ban given to Sterling is well within the rights of the NBA.  The Clippers team is simply a franchise of the NBA, after all.  Additionally, there are apparently NBA rules that say the league can force the sale of a team if 75% of the team owners agree.  If all of these terms were understood ahead of time, and we have no reason to doubt that they were, then this is all simply the result of the free market.  No one’s rights have been infringed upon.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A More Perfect Constitution

The United States Constitution is a wonderful thing.  It represents the best attempt in history to limit the power of the government.  The limits to government power codified in the Constitution are a huge part of why the United States of America has been very prosperous during its history.  History and economic studies have shown a negative correlation between state (government) power and prosperity.  I'm sure you can think of countries that show evidence of this correlation but here are just two examples.  A generic graph would look something like this:




Knowing this relationship, it is easy to decide that the ultimate goal, politically speaking, should be to limit the power of the government as much as possible.  In my mind, the best way to limit the government is to have no government at all.  A government that doesn't exist has absolutely no power, and therefore, prosperity would be potentially limitless.  How can a people arrive at such a situation?  The people, or their representatives, could meet together to ratify a "constitution" declaring their intent to not have a government.  The simplest form this could take would be as follows:


We the people of [insert political subdivision here], in order to establish a free and voluntary society, do hereby abolish every form of government, including any organization that claims coercive or monopolistic privileges to collect revenue, provide law enforcement, arbitrate disputes, or regulate actions.  Wherever any self-proclaimed government exists, the people have a right to resist all aggressive acts of that government, and to destroy it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Government Claims to Land are Illegitimate



I hope that everyone has been keeping up with the news about Cliven Bundy, his cattle, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  It's been quite a roller coaster ride and a lot of people might not realize how dangerous it truly was (is).  I won't go into detail about this particular episode here (but seriously go learn about it if you haven't already), but I think this is a good time to talk about land ownership and how that works in a free society.  Other liberty-minded people might think differently but I will try as best as I can to apply the principles of liberty.

Originally, before people were around, land was unowned.  Nobody was around to claim ownership.  Obviously, over time, that changed when people went pretty much everywhere they could.  Let's set up a scenario where we can imagine what it looks like to go from land unclaimed by people to a system of land ownership.  Quick, to the deserted island!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Public Education and Liberty Don't Mix

Compulsory Education Violates Freedom | Libertas Institute Cartoon
Political Cartoon by Libertas Institute.

As some of you may know, I am a teacher.  Here in Arizona we have a high-stakes test that is required for all high school students in order to graduate.  It's called the AIMS test (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards).  Since this test is happening this week I figured it would be a good time to address education in the context of liberty.

Education is a service that the vast majority of people value.  Because it is such a highly valued service, many people feel that only government can be trusted to deliver it to all the children.  Not only is government basically a monopoly provider in many places, but it requires all children to be enrolled in school.  All this necessitates multiple violations of the non-aggression principle.  First, government education is funded by taxation, which is a form of theft.  Second, the government can put competitors out of business, which violates the rights of alternative education providers.  Third, the government mandates that all children be in school, which violates either the rights of the children, the rights of the parents, or both.  This terrible situation must be addressed.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

There is No Road to Liberty

Note:  This was an April Fools' Day post.

Liberty.  It is an admirable goal.  It is a goal that is just within our reach and yet, somehow, just beyond our grasp.  Today I must admit the single glaring problem with the principles of liberty.  While the non-aggression principle attempts to portray itself as perfect, there is one fatal flaw which stands out.  It is with deep regret that I must reveal the Achilles' heel of liberty:  Roads.




There is no question that, without a government that receives taxation by forcible means, roads would be an impossibility.  While taxation generally goes against the non-aggression principle because it is required to use or threaten force in order to collect taxes, taxation is absolutely necessary for the construction and maintenance of roads, highways, and freeways.  Let's find out why.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Constitutional Contradictions

I’m as much of a fan of the Founding Fathers as anyone but I certainly realize they weren't perfect.  I believe they came up with the best guiding document for government in the history of the world.  But, like the Founders themselves, this document was not meant to be perfect.  What happens when the Constitution disagrees with itself?  I’m going to point out some examples and then hopefully convince you that it is more important to follow principles instead of laws, because principles are always true, while constitutions and laws can, and often do, get it wrong.



The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”.  So basically people don’t have to testify against themselves.  That's good because it gets rid of some coercion!  But then in the Sixth Amendment it states that “the accused shall enjoy the right…to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor”.  That means the court can force people to testify to defend the accused.  So, a witness can be forced to testify or else he will be guilty of contempt of court, which is a criminal offense.  Wait, when someone is accused of a crime, don’t they have the right to NOT testify?  This is a paradox and an appeal to the Constitution will not provide the answer. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Can Optimus Prime Defeat Global Warming?

Pollution.  Global warming.  Climate Change.  Scary words, right?  There is a lot of heated debate on these topics.  Emotions run high.  The world hangs in the balance.  Entire economies are at risk.  So what do we make of all this when we try to apply the principles of liberty?  That's a great question, but first, a word about the proper use of force:

The non-aggression principle shows us that it is wrong to initiate force, but you can certainly use force to defend yourself.  So how do you do that if you don’t catch the aggressor in the act?  A jury trial.  Every person certainly has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and we, as a society, have decided that jury trials are the best way to not trample that right.  Therefore, any act that coerces an individual to pay for the damage he has caused must only be carried out after guilt has been proven to a jury, or after the individual has admitted his guilt (or after any arbitration process upon which all involved parties agree).  Any alternative to that would be presuming guilt and violating the rights of that individual.  Now, on to the imaginary scenario!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Han Solo is Not Allowed to Spy, and Neither is the Government

Since island scenarios usually provide helpful examples of human interaction in order to conceptualize just or unjust laws, let's imagine four people on an island:  Han Solo, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO.  

 


On this island, R2-D2 and Chewie often correspond through letters but they speak different languages and find it difficult, if not impossible, to read each other’s letters.  In order to solve the problem, they hire C-3PO to be a translator.  Each letter gets sent to C-3PO first and C-3PO then translates the letter and delivers it to the recipient.  In this scenario, R2-D2 and Chewie both agreed to C-3PO’s terms and let him keep copies of the letters for himself in order to study and improve his translating abilities.  The three of them are happy with this arrangement.  But Han is also on this island and Han believes in the need for absolute security against any possible threat, whether internal or external.  Because of this, Han demands that C-3PO hand over copies of all the correspondence that he collects.  Essentially, Han is demanding that C-3PO hand over his personal property.  Is this a just demand?  What if Chewie and R2-D2 actually support Han in his safety measures?  Then is it just?  In either case, I submit that it is not.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

If the President Looks Weak, That's a Good Thing

You've probably been hearing about Ukraine and its current troubles.  The country is torn between two competing allegiances; one to the European Union and another to Russia.  The president of Ukraine was basically forced out because he favored ties with Russia over the EU and sparked mass protests (Here are some helpful maps that explain the divisions within the country).  The EU will certainly not force allegiance, but Russia looks increasingly threatening, with some of its troops actually inside parts of Ukraine.  Some are saying that a treaty signed in the 1990's would force the United States to aid Ukraine if they are invaded.  Conservative pundits are criticizing President Obama for looking weak and not standing up to Russia.

I sincerely hope that President Obama continues to look weak, because that would allow us to keep some of the freedom we have left (By the way, I would have similar hopes for ANY president).