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.