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.