Spent a lot of time on the road today. Still not sure if I will talk about what came of it but that's not why we are talking now. Part of the time I was listening to talk radio. Down in the hinter boonies we do not get talk radio so it was a nice break from my driving staples of NPR or country music.
In any case Laura Ingram was talking about something or another, marriage I think, and the phrase "the good of society" kept coming up. I got to thinking.
Many conservatives complain about how communists liberals want to tax this or regulate that to protect the children. However in the glass house of stone throwing some of those conservatives often of the very religious psuedo theocracy wanting variety flavor want to restrict drugs, gambling, private sexual behaviors, peoples chosen relationships or whatever "for the good of society." Most of these folks both right and left are well meaning and sometimes they are right. I don't think anybody would argue in favor of letting little kids go hungry or about the many benefits of heroine use. However that is not the point.
To me people wanting to use force of law as a way to restrict my rights and freedom are folks I have a problem with. If they have a legitimate point those folks can argue or persuade people to go with it but forcing them to do what you want is not acceptable. It doesn't matter if they are holding a copy of the communist manifesto, a Koran or a Bible. This is simply not something that should be condoned.
I urge you all to resist the desire to force your viewpoints onto others even though it is tempting. Sooner or later a sub group you fall into will be targeted. In my humble opinion thinking they get to boss others around but that others do not have the right to do the same thing to them when the shoe is on the other foot makes one a hypocrite.
Edited to include:
My intent here is not so much to discuss my socially liberal (though not without consequences) beliefs. The point I am trying to make is that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Saying everybody should stay out of your homeschooling, raw milk, unlicensed/ improperly zoned business, religion as used in the most expansive possible way practices, guns and such but you can tell other people what substances they are allowed to partake in, how they can recreate and who they can spend their life with with is ridiculous. Conservatives telling others what to do to make a better society is
equally offensive as liberals doing the exact same thing for the same
reasons. It's the classic childlike everything I think is right and everything I do not like is wrong.
It has become clear to me recently that some people only want their own freedom. More accurately they want to be able to say yes, no or maybe to various potential freedoms based on their own belief system. This is what really confuses me.
Anybody who gets in the way of THEIR freedom is a jack boot Stazi thug that should be killed; however they have the right to tell everybody else what the hell they can and cannot do. It isn't that they only pursue their own freedoms (in terms of practicing or advocating for them) that is the issue. I do not donate money or time to help causes I don't care about or expect other people to. (Though this year when I voted there was one simple question for everything. Will this person/ bill make people more or less free? I voted for freedom including several bills I do not personally agree with. Think about it.) It is that they have such a sense of moral superiority that they think it is their right to not only do what they want, but prevent others from doing the same. The concept that other people have some rights also is simply not in their worldview. It is pretty clear that these folks do not want to live in a free society, they just want to be the one wearing the jack boot.
This brings us to an interesting point. It isn't that you cannot choose to associate, or not associate, with who you want. It isn't that you cannot advocate for or against what you want by promoting education and whatnot. However when people talk about using force of law (or other types) to make people act the way they think is correct in areas that are reasonably within the realm of freedom it becomes an issue.
It is my personal opinion that to expect other people to accept my freedom I have to accept theirs. That is the trade off.
Do you think that everyone should get out of your business but you have
the right to tell them what to do? If so what makes your views
inherently superior to other peoples? What are your thoughts on this
[Also this brings up another point. I think the whole liberty/ FreeFOR community needs to stop arguing about pie in the sky fantasy worlds. Seriously all this argument is just mental masturbation. That would be fine except that it causes significant conflict. It is like two guys who make 30kish a year with kids and stay at home wives arguing over whether Nighthawk or Wilson Combat makes the better 1911. They probably cannot afford a third of either pistol so it is pointless anyway. To make this even dumber imagine that these like minded friends get angry with each other and stop bring friends over this stupid theoretical argument about pistols they can't afford anyway. Liberty/ Free FOR folks would be much better off spending their energy on individual preparations and building local community instead of on stupid pointless arguments.]
Our internet was down for a few days. I enjoyed spending extra time with the family and also was able to catch up some on my reading. During that time the Republicans won back control of the House of Represenatives. I am particularly happy that some Tea Party type folks won. Having a Paul in both the House and the Senate is going to be really fun. I anticipate at least double the long winded speaches nobody pays attention to and numerous bills which will never get out of commitee. Seriously though I think this represents a shift in a significant part of the "conservative" side and that is a good thing. We have had about all of the crony capitalism this country can handle. If this newfound majority can do a few things to get governments hands out of peoples pockets while starting to get our deficite under control that would be great. If they can at least mount an effective defense against any more madness that would be OK too. Personally I have rather limited expectations. If they can manage to act fiscally conservative some good stuff might happen. Time will tell.
There is all kinds of stuff in my head but I worked a super long day and am beat. Thoughts are not cohesively forming. You will get a few good posts over the long weekend I am sure. Have a good night.
I think Naive is probably my favorite. These people don't know anything about the real world and think that if America cowers in the closet every asshat in the world who hates us will somehow go away. That just isn't reality. You can scare people into leaving you alone or kill them but just wishing they will go away doesn't work. The bizarrely hypocritical are fun also.
I was filling out one of those online things and it asked what my political preference was. Not sure why but I gave it more consideration than necessary. I realized that things are kind of sucky and I just don't care. Seriously I don't see any of them making things better. The R's and D's have both had a shot recently and just done a bang up job. I am not sure our system will leave anybody willing to deal with our issues (mainly massive unfunded entitlements) because to do so would be political suicide. Getting any politician to do that is unlikely, let alone a majority.
I bet some folks on one side are getting a good chuckle at folks on the other who thought the cozy government + business relationship would change. They both take money from the same big corporations that like pet legislature as well as capitalism on the way up and socialism on the way down.
Some folks think maybe the Libertarians will save us but I am not so sure. It is pretty easy to be noble when nobody is offering you anything. It is equally easy to offer outside of the box solutions when you aren't responsible for anything and can just Monday morning quarterback it. Also as far as I know the Libertarians have never gotten anybody elected to anything more than (if even that?) county dog catcher. Even if they got ANYBODY elected to a meaningful position I don't think that would change anything. I love Dr. No (Ron Paul) as much as anybody could but aside from voting no on everything and proposing bills that doesn't every go anywhere what has he done?
Seriously on the national or likely even state level I am not so sure I see anything good coming. On the local level more grass roots stuff involving real people has some promise but I move around a lot now so don't really care about that.
I make predictions of what is coming here or there, no need to rehash. I think I've given up caring until something worth caring about starts to happen. I am not holding my breath.
I remember much discussion about this on Conservative Talk Radio (Rush and Hannity mostly) at one time and have been meaning to talk about it. I say Conservative as opposed to Republican because by and large the issues and positions are not that different at least from the observation angle of this discussion. A recent conversation on facebook got me thinking about it again. So here we go.
First I think it is essential to take a real look at how American politics work. Not even talking about our two party system but the essence of winning elections and thus power. Unlike a Parlimentary System there is no benefit to winning 49% if someone else gets 51%. The folks who get 51% have all the power and the ones who got 49% get to take it like a champ for a few years. In this respect I like Parlimentary systems better because people can come out and say what they really mean. Look at the English Parliment, they have a few nazis, a few commies and probably somewhere in the back a gay midget who ran on a pro drunken driving platform. Yeah they have that whole Coalition boondogle but we are getting too far from the main point anyway. Comparing and contrasting our system with a parlimentary system isn't my objective. The point of this paragraph is again that those who get the majority win totally and those who (even by a tiny margin) come in second get nothing.
Think about this for a second. To win a party needs to grab a significant amount of "the center" (in the analogy where some folks are left/ liberal and some are right/ conservative and the middle are centrists with roughly equal amounts in each group) in order to win that essential majority and have power. By definition having a highly conservative fringe agenda is not going to lead to serious political power. It might work for an elected official here (Ron Paul) or there (Nancy Pelosi) but to win real broad power parties need to be able to appeal to a broad range of beliefs. Of course within a party there can be some serious extremists but as long as they can win their district/ state they can contribute to their party and of course their own agenda.
The tent analogy is one that keeps coming up. People talk about a "Big Tent" as a party that is willing to accept almost anyone who is willing to show up. The talking heads say that Conservatives need to stick to their core beliefs and "get back to what the party is all about" often throwing in Regan's name somewhere. I think something of a middle approach is best.
First of all in any party all the elected officials are not going to perfectly tow the party line. To be honest people who perfectly and mindlessly chant the party themes sort of scare me. A Democrat from ND or MT probably has little in common with one from MA or CA. If all the reps can't get entirely on the same page there is no way all the voters possibly could or even should. People come to parties as elected officials or voters for many different reasons. If the Republicans reject people who do not completely believe in every party position they are going to have an empty tent and not a lot of seats in congress. Conversely if they accept everyone regardless of all of their beliefs they will not have a cohesive party which is capable of coming together to push through or block various legislation. Recently we have seen how essential it is in a fairly balanced legislature how it is essential both to be able to pull your party together for essential legislation and to be able to prevent the other side from picking off a couple key votes.
I sort of look at it like friends (talking more about attitudes and behaviors than politics but you will see where I am going), if I only was friends with people who absolutely agreed with me on everything I would be a very lonely guy hanging out all alone in my tent. Conversely of I surrounded myself with anyone who wanted to hang out in my tent there would be a bunch of assholes who I have nothing in common with in my tent. Some of us would want to go shooting, some would want to sit around and play cards, a couple others would be getting down in a sleeping bag in the corner and some stoned asshole would be eating all the hotdogs. My tent would be full of people but we couldn't do anything cohesive plus also my tent would smell of sex and we would be out of hotdogs.
While my friends don't necessarily believe or act exactly like I do in everything but they tend to generally agree with me on most things. Not all of us even eat breakfast let alone the same thing. Maybe one friend will skip the shooting because they want to take a nap and another friend will want to go for a walk alone later but we will all get together after dinner (which we can have because some stoner didn't eat all of the hot dogs) and have a few drinks (an average with one person having one and one picking up their slack) while listening to some country or classic rock on the radio and talking in a loud manner about how we can easily fix all the country's problems well into the night. And best of all in this scenario my tent doesn't smell of random sex and nobody ate all the hotdogs.
Expecting a party which will perfectly stick to the tenants absolutely is not realistic and at best would be a very small party but then again a party that believes in nothing will not get anything done. Getting a party where most people stick for the most part to the core beliefs is probably realistic and the best course of action.
To a lesser degree I think this applies to the libertarians also. While much can be done by spreading the word about your party and trying to get people to see that they actually fit there at the end of the day without being able to get a significant amount of whatever given population we are talking about a party cannot be effective.
My recent quote of the day courtesy of Sgt Jarhead definitely brought some discussion. I love you all dearly but most of you missed the point for a couple reasons.
I think that "as long as your neighbor is not doing something that is directly affecting you, it is none of your concern" was taken wrong in two different ways.
The first of these comes back to an arguable inherent weakness of libertarianism. In the libertarian philosophy acts are punished BECAUSE they impinge on the rights of others not BECAUSE THEY MAY LEAD TO impinging on the rights of others. Casing point, the folks in the house next to you smoking crack in and of itself does not harm you. Maybe they have a job and like to smoke some rock when they get home. I am as aware as you are of the incredibly high probability of your neighbors crack habit being a factor in a broad variety of crimes including but not limited to breaking and entering, petty robbery, and vehicle prowls. The point is that people are punished for actions that directly impinge on the rights of others. It is (and would be) illegal to break into a house, rob someone or prowl their vehicle. Because A (crack use) is often linked to B (various crimes) doesn't mean that A should be illegal because in and of itself it doesn't directly cause B or infringe upon anyone's rights.
To close this part of the discussion I have two thoughts on the specific topic of drugs. (this isn't my full view on the matter, just as it applies to this post) Alcohol is involved in roughly half of the arrests made in the US on a yearly basis and nobody is talking about banning the sauce. Hard drugs are involved in a far smaller percentage. As for peoples health we obviously don't care about it at all as you can get a meal at Hardys that has more calories then you should eat in a day. Also tobacco probably kills more people in a week than hard drugs do in the whole year.
The second part was more surprising to me. Seems like everyone got the LIVE and forgot the part about let live. A neighbor with a broken down El Camino on blocks in his yard is irritating just as listening to Deaf Leoppard play in his yard while you try and go to sleep isn't fun. Then again he probably doesn't like you mowing the lawn at 8 am Sunday morning or regularly having a dozen screaming children running around in your front lawn. He might not mow his lawn regularly and you are often grinding away in your metal shop.
Simply put I firmly believe it is ridiculous to expect people to keep their noses the heck out of our business if we can't keep our noses out of theirs. Maybe they like dope and you like guns or whatever. You don't like their sweet IROC Camaro and they think the dinner parties you throw mess up parking on the block and are generally irritating. To think that it is completely wrong for your beliefs/ lifestyle/ rights to be legislated against in any way but that it is fine to pass or otherwise promote "common sense rules" about what others can and can't do is at best poorly thought out and childish or at worst completely hypocritical.
I have been putting this off for awhile. The article has re written itself in my head multiple times and while I am not completely satisfied with its content today is as good of a day as any. This is going to be sort of a hodge podge of theories, potential solutions, the problem with them and different examples.
A good friend who is otherwise pro limited government is for a single payer Canadian style plan. Insurance has been recockulous for his family and the Canadian style plan might have some benefits for him. All principle aside I thought a lot about this and he has something of a point. For a person with some relatively main stream but consistent medical problems which require regular hospital visits this could be a good thing.
The main problem with that sort of an idea as I see it is that unless you are constantly having needs that can get addressed by an ER doc or a GP you will need to see an expert, possibly more than one expert. In a government run single payer system the chances of seeing an expert in a timely manner is about as likely as the sloppy drunk random who comes home with you from the bar being truthful when she says 'I've never done anything like this before'.
My friend Maggy and I have talked about this pretty directly. She is for a single payer plan because she has seen them work first hand in other countries and also for the practical reason that right now there is no way she can afford health insurance (though thankfully boy has it through Ex-hole). Since she has a lower income and no current coverage she would fare reasonably well under this sort of plan EXCEPT that it will hurt our economy. The people who would take the real financial hit for this sort of thing are the ones who would likely employ her (as an individual or in a small business) or be regular patrons of the sort of service/ disposable income kind of places she would likely work. So odds are that even though this would not cost her money directly it would likely take money out of her pocket one way or another.
Wifey and I had an interesting discussion about this. Her Dad has a real good job and makes what I would consider a lot of money. Not top 1% or anything but a hell of a lot more than average. He is high up in the company he works for and if laid off it is unlikely he could find another job at that same income. Little Sister in Law has a complex medical condition. She probably goes to 6 or 7 different experts and has a multiple doctors appointments every month. She is also on Human Growth Hormone (her and Mark McGuire:). There is no way in hell they could get private insurance with her complex pre existing condition. At face value a single payer plan might be a good thing for them. No worries about job loss or pre existing conditions excluding you from being able to buy coverage. Except the problem with this is that she currently has Cadillac health care. In a single payer system (true in the best ones and very true in the less good ones) care in managed to keep costs in line. Her far cheaper care would be much more Chevy or Daewoo style and would not be effective for filling her medical needs and having high quuality of life.
My best theory of how to make our system better has been as follows. Simply put insurance needs to go back to what it is meant for, occasional unlikely extreme circumstances. We all have car insurance but of we get a blown tire or need an oil change that is out of pocket. Insurance is or at least should be for when you wrap your car around a tree or get into a collision with someone else. Health insurance should work the same way. Pay for regular visits and occasional trips to the doc with a bad cold or even a broken arm with cash and have catastrophic healthcare insurance for genuine emergencies. Have a catastrophic insurance plan (between $1,000 and $10,000 depending on your income and needs) coupled with a solid emergency fund and a lot of people are good to go.
There are two real problems with this plan. First it will only work for basically healthy people who really don't use their insurance much and only have it in case something suprising happens so they aren't financially ruined. Those who need regular care (not yearly checkups and such) and or have multiple perscriptions would often not be well suited by a plan like this.
The second problem is that insurance works reasonably (yeah that can be debated but we'll get there later) because most people who have it are basically healthy. For every 70 year old with 6 perscriptions and all sorts of doctor visits and medical costs there need to be several 20 somethings who have insurance and don't cost the company a dime. Lets say everyone pays $250 a month (yeah people pay more than that and not everyone pays the same, I got it) and Mrs Johnson costs the company $1,000 a month. That means that without even factoring in administrative costs and profit (we will revisit this one) there need to be 3 people who don't so much as go to the doctor once to even out the costs of her being insured. So if every healthy person got catastrophic insurance and paid a far lower premium insurance companies would have some real problems.
I do however have a real problem with many conservatives who think our medical system is working just great. To be blunt I don't think our current system is working well at all for anyone except the very rich and a few who currently have really awesome insurance plans. Even for those who have 'good' insurance premiums are getting higher and they are buying less and less as services get worse while deductibles go up. I have seen this through my Mom's insurance over the last decade or so. Loose a job and you are screwed by 'pre existing conditions'. The current system we have jacks up the prices of everything so much that you basically need insurance.
We the functional people pay insane amounts for services (and by default insurance) because illegal immigrants and assorted poor people go to the ER because it is cheaper than buying some bandaids or cold medicine at Rite Aid. I am not advocating that people aren't treated for genuine life threatening emergencies. Don't think any sane person would do that. Imagine Joe Middle Class looses his job and thus his families insurance. Since they're broke the family is cooking hot dogs around a small bonfire, little Timmy slips and falls face first into the blaze. Joe pulls him out getting some pretty good burns on his hands. The Mrs gets you both into the SUV and drives to the hospital like it is the Indy 500. You get there and they immediately ask for pre payment, cash or major credit card only and it is going to cost $10,000. You don't have that in the checking account and the limit on your AMEX is 5k. They say fuck you and to get out of line till you can provide payment. That is more or less how it is right now in China and I don't think even the most heartless liberterian wants that here.
As for the talk about how we will save $1,200 because Homeless Joe or Illegal Jose will have insurance instead of just getting care and us eating the cost I am not so sure. Sort of seems like us the tax payers giving these people free or very cheap insurance 'saving' us money may be Enron style accounting but me is not an expert on that.
A single payer system will be good for the currently uninsured particularly those with low incomes at least if taken at face value. Everyone having the same access to medical care certainly fits some egalitarian points of view. One real benefit it would have is that it would effectively de couple having decent insurance that doesn't exclude anyone who has ever had anything wrong with them from getting reasonably priced insurance. For those who want to work for themselves, do some consulting or maybe underground work this might not be a horrible thing.
When it comes to insurance people far too often forget (mainly because insurance is so intertwined in our lives) that insurance companies exist to make a profit from providing a service. They want to get as much money from people as possible and manage to exclude as many expensive treatments and conditions as possible. Their desire to make a profit might just be better than a single payer system which just doesn't give a fuck. They light cigars with $100's and when those run out they just get more from the government which means us. So we loose either way.
So a single payer system sucks because at the end of the day they ration care and their is absolutely no incentive for the monolithic state health aparatus to be efficient, timely or generally do anything well. Our current system is rapidly going from bad to worse.
While I do have a few ideas on how to make things better (streamline real tort reform, refuse to pay more for meds than other countries, crack down on various fraud/ waste/ abuse, and a couple others) these are sort of like the lady argueing over getting 12 cents off peas and 87 cents off tortillas when she has $200 in groceries in the cart. They will not really change the overall financial situation of the thing.
For every possible plan there are strengths and weaknesses. I suppose finding a plan that is most tolerable to as many people as possible and completely intolerable to as few as possible is the best we can possibly hope for.
Lets look at this like an 'Adult Novelty' store. There are many different products some of which are fairly mild (r rated birthday cards, playboy, etc) and others are very extreme with everything in between. The common denominator of every product in the store is that in some way or another (if only symbolically) someone definitely gets fucked.
We all have political beliefs. Some are pie in the sky while others are very quantifiable and simple. We all probably have at least one place where political beliefs and what we think about concrete reality do not measure up.
I personally do not believe in any foreign aid/ subsidies. As Ron Paul pointed out that it is inherently wrong to forcibly take money from American Citizens to give it to foreign governments is pretty much fucked.
I also think what America should (for a variety of reasons) support Israel.
These two things just don't measure up. Not sure how they could be made to measure up exactly. Since I am not going to be making choices which influence our foreign aid/ subsidies or our support of Israel the point is pretty much academic.
Where don't your political and concrete beliefs measure up?
I am sitting here drinking the last beer of the night waiting to get tired and watching the Glenn Beck rerun from earlier today. He said something that stuck with me. It was the phrase "reluctant activist". I am a reluctant activist.
I don't want to talk about politics. To a large extent I avoid it but sometimes there isn't a choice.
I often find myself being that wacky libertarian guy in conversations. I don't want to enter them but feel someone needs to throw a voice of reason into the mix. Some folks are stupid socialists and others are on the other side. They both miss the fucking point.
That people consider a view that respects peoples right to keep the money they earn and live the life they want as wacky is insane. I wonder if we have gotten so far past the boundaries of the political land nav course that we can't find our way back. I know the people who invented the course set the boundaries as hardball roads (If you've done a land nav course you know what I mean) called the Bill Of Rights (yeah it is so special I capitalize the O) and the Constitution. Somewhere along the years these hardball roads have gotten covered with brush and dirt and we walked over it without noticing what it was.
I am pissed that my tax dollars have bought the majority stake in a major auto maker but I can't afford to go out and buy a new car which they make. As a whicked piece of irony if I wasn't paying those taxes which bought the fucking company I could go get a new car from them.
I am apprehensive about saying what I really think which concerns me greatly. I grew up in a country where you could say whatever you want but that seems to be changing. I fear the concept of noble discent is becoming archaic. The amount of topics on which the status quo can not be questioned without being labeled some sort of an -ist seems to grow every year.
I am worried my future children will not be able to have a rifle like daddy's because the government decided they were evil and banned them. Some folks might have enough cash to get 3-4 spare sets of compatible weapons, mags and ammo to prepare for those eventualities but I do not. Sure they will inherit some guns or whatever but I would like to be able to go to the store with my kids when it is time and get them the kind of practical self defense and gaming firearms I own.
Anyway I am just worried about where things are going. I will almost surely be back to my normal self tomorrow.
A while back, I wrote a little post about our good friend Maggie from the TSLBF realizing the problems with government. Well, sometimes the libertarian gods need to drive my point home. Unfortunately for Maggie, this appears to be one of those times. Just when you think the government has fucked up as much as they can, they kill your water, and trap you in your house. Thanks to recent events, I think Maggie might have gone from crying socialist to angry libertarian.
Regardless, the only thing better than saying "I told you so" is being able to say, "I told you so... Again."
What is not to like about this gal? She is beautiful, smart as can be and a die hard conservative. Alas she leans a bit too the religious right instead of the easy going and fun libertarian camp but we can't all be perfect. So God gave her great legs instead of a strong desire to stay out of the personal affairs of others; we should try not to hold it against her.
Before someone jumps all up in my ass I am going to say a couple things. First of all I think a lot of what she says is for shock value because shock = book sales= $$$$$$$$$. Second of all I don't agree with everything anyone does so that one reader who plans to dig up a psycho quote just chill out.
One of my greatest pleasures in this life is rubbing a friends nose in the fact that they were wrong. It is why I get up in the morning. This might make me a worthless bastard, but I enjoy it, so I embrace it.
Regardless, it is time for my favorite holiday of the year... I Told You So Day (I am currently petitioning the federal government to make it a national holiday, but no luck). Well, here is my, I Told You So.
Maggie, of TSLBF fame, is well, not a Libertarian. She has, over the past few years went from a Lib-tard, to a moderate whiner. I think that is about to change. There are one group of people who have faith in the government, and it ability to do good. It is those people who have yet to be fucked by the government. Maggie just got to watch herself, and our hometown get fucked.
First off- I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO! Are you trying to tell me that the government, any government, no matter how good their intentions are, makes irrational rules which they aren't and cannot be held accountable for (outside of not electing them to fuck up again)? Are you saying that government, once it makes a bad choice, such as fucking up all the roads, is more likely to push further on, rather than admitting they were wrong, and fixing the problem? I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!
That said, what is going to happen? Well, Maggie says that they will put liens on peoples houses. She said that because she texted me, and that was my guess. To be honest, it sounds right to me, but I really have no idea what will happen if people dont pay this little tax. I doubt the government will take it lying down.
While writing this post, I took a walk with Helga the Commie... She is from the USSR, Siberia to be exact, and my hatred of the government is one of our favorite topics of conversation... That and how she was really happy growing up, and felt spoiled because she owned a hat... In winter... In Siberia. Regardless, I brought up the fact that Maggie might have finally seen the light and was moving into the Libertarian camp. She asked me why. My response was that the only people who are not libertarians are those who haven't been fucked by the government yet... She looked at me and said, "Ryan, do you know anyone who has been fucked by the government more than I have?" I looked at her and replied, "What does that say about you?" (She is still a liberal, and no, she has been fucked over by the government more than any of us will ever know, God willing). It looks, unlike Helga, like Maggie might have started to make the switch... Good for her... And I TOLD YOU SO!!!
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In This Issue
PRESIDENT'S CORNER * Are we living in "The Libertarian Moment"?
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS, UNBELIEVABLE NEWS * 40% of Americans Say Marijuana Should Be Legal * Obama Wants Gun Bans * Russian Leader Putin Warns U.S. of Dangers of Socialism * Sales of "Atlas Shrugged" Are Soaring * Henry Hazlitt Predicted Housing Crisis -- In 1946
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ONE-MINUTE LIBERTY TIP * Who's the REAL Enemy? by Sharon Harris
WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE ADVOCATES * GA LP convention: Advocates President to speak
by Sharon Harris
Is This "The Libertarian Moment"?
Are you optimistic about the future of liberty?
I am -- very much so! I've been involved in the liberty movement since the late 1960s. And I firmly believe that we are in a period of unprecedented growth and acceptance of our ideas.
It is vital that we libertarians cultivate and share honest optimism about the possibilities for libertarian success.
Honest optimism -- based on reality, not wishful thinking -- encourages us, lifts our spirits, and makes us eager to go out and do the great work for liberty that is still urgently needed. Honest optimism is one of the essential vitamins all libertarian activists need.
If recent headlines have gotten you down, I'd like to recommend a lengthy article that appeared in the December 2008 issue of the libertarian magazine Reason.
The authors, Reason editors Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, lay down the case that we are living in the dawning of what that title implies.
Here are a few excerpts:
"We are in fact living at the cusp of what should be called the Libertarian Moment ... a time of increasingly hyper-individualized, hyper-expanded choice over every aspect of our lives."
"The only real growth market in politics is voters who decline political affiliation, and the only political adjective seemingly gaining in popularity is... libertarian."
"From lefty comedian Bill Maher to righty columnist Jonah Goldberg, from in-the-tank Democratic blogger Markos 'Daily Kos' Moulitsas to in-the-tank Republican talk show host Neal Boortz, you can't turn around in a political discussion anymore without hearing someone identify themselves at least partially (whether rightly or wrongly) as a 'libertarian.'
"The 2008 presidential campaign, and to a heartening degree the public debate and all-too-temporary congressional defeat of the Wall Street bailout, gave the first hints at what may soon become a permanent libertarian strain in politics. An uncharismatic libertarian congressman from Texas, Ron Paul, ignited a decentralized swarm of money-bombing donors to the Republican presidential primaries with his message of not wanting to run people's lives ('we all have different values'), or the economy ('people run the economy in a free society'), or the world ('we don't need to be imposing ourselves around the world')."
And the bang-up concluding paragraph:
"[T]he power to swarm in the direction of freedom is the new technology fueling an idea that is as old as the American republic itself: No central government shall interfere with our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The Libertarian Moment is taking these self-evident truths and organizing them into a comprehensive approach toward living. It started where it always does, in business and culture, where innovation is rewarded. Statist politicians -- it's not fully clear that there is any other kind -- will ignore that epochal shift at their peril. And will eventually be forced to fly to their own personal San Clementes."
We try to include reasons for optimism in each issue of the Liberator Online. You'll find some startling good news for liberty in this issue's Good News, Bad News, Unbelievable News.
I believe, like the editors of Reason, that we are indeed living in The Libertarian Moment. The goal of the Advocates is to supply you with the tools, techniques and information that can help you bring that glorious moment to full fruition.
Thank you! * * * * * * * *
Welcome to 188 new Liberator Online subscribers this issue!
-- Sharon Harris, President Email: sharon@TheAdvocates.org
Good News, Bad News, Unbelievable News
by James W. Harris
40% of Americans Say Marijuana Should Be Legal
Three startling new polls find that a near-majority of Americans are ready for bold drug law reform: legalization of marijuana.
A February national telephone survey by Rasmussen Reports finds that a whopping 40% of Americans say marijuana should be legalized. 46% disagree, and a balance-of-power 14% are not sure.
Further, a plurality (the largest number, but not a majority) of Democrats supports legalization, as does a plurality of those not affiliated with either of the two largest parties.
Two other recent polls back this up. A January CBS/New York Times poll found 41% of Americans in favor of legalization. And a February poll, conducted by Zogby for the marijuana legalization group NORML, finds 44% of Americans in support of legalized pot and 52% opposed.
Further, in some parts of the country legal marijuana already enjoys the support of a solid majority. Zogby finds that 58% of respondents residing on the west coast agree that cannabis should be "taxed and legally regulated like alcohol and cigarettes."
Finally, demographics predicts a bright future for reform on this key issue of individual liberty. Rasmussen found that "Americans under the age of 40 are much more supportive of legalizing the drug than are older Americans.
Obama Wants Gun Bans Never mind that the Supreme Court recently declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.
The Obama administration plans to reinstate the Clinton administration ban on so-called "assault weapons" that expired in 2004 under the ban's sunset provision. They have other gun controls measures in mind as well.
"As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons," Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters on February 25.
Holder said that re-banning "assault weapons" would not only be good for America, it would help Mexico, which is currently plagued by gun violence among drug cartels.
Of course, the certain way to stop such Drug War-caused violence would be to end the War on Drugs, but Holder chose not to explore that approach. Holder also neglected to explain why American freedom should be limited at the request of a foreign nation. Most glaringly, he did not explain how the federal government, utterly unable to stop immigrants or drugs from freely crossing the border, could somehow be successful in stopping weapons from doing so.
"Assault weapons" are not the only victim-disarmament measures the Obama administration wants to see, Holder says.
"I think closing the gun show loophole, the banning of cop-killer bullets, and I also think that making the assault weapons ban permanent, would be something that would be permitted under Heller," Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing. ("Heller" refers to the Supreme Court ruling in Washington, D.C. v. Heller, which declared the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own firearms.)
"Assault weapons," "cop-killer bullets," and "gun show loopholes" are all lurid, bogus, deceptive anti-gun propaganda terms. In the past, legislation to "control" these made-up menaces have been Trojan Horse laws -- vehicles with wide-reaching, Draconian gun control elements hidden in their language.
The term "assault weapon," as used by Holder, has no real meaning, as such guns are semi-automatic firearms that look different -- sometimes more "military" -- than traditional hunting and self-defense guns, but possess no additional firepower. Thus the guns were essentially banned for cosmetic reasons, and the ban was often derided as the "ugly gun law." The propaganda term "assault weapon" leads the public to often confuse these weapons with automatic weapons, i.e., machine guns, though they are not. This confusion, of course, is often deliberately encouraged by anti-gun forces.
"A semi-automatic is a quintessential self-defense firearm owned by American citizens in this country," said Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association, in response to Holder's remarks. "I think it is clearly covered under Heller and it's clearly, I think, protected by the Constitution."
"Cop killer bullets" have never killed a cop, and laws to ban them would arguably ban vast amounts of conventional ammunition. The "gun show loophole" merely allows citizens who are not licensed firearm dealers to sell guns at gun shows. It is not a "loophole"; the current law was deliberately written to protect such private exchanges from government control.
Check the links above for more information on these topics, which are sure to be widely debated in the days and weeks ahead.
Russian Leader Putin Warns U.S. of Dangers of Socialism Who could possibly have predicted this a few years ago: the Kremlin singing praises for free enterprise and warning the U.S. about the dangers of socialism!
Yet that's exactly what happened in January at the annual World Economic Forum, an international gathering of business giants, politicians, activists, journalists, intellectuals, celebrities and other influential figures in the Swiss city of Davos.
Speaking about the current economic crisis, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told the assembled glitterati:
"In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state's role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated. ...
"Nor should we turn a blind eye to the fact that the spirit of free enterprise, including the principle of personal responsibility of businesspeople, investors, and shareholders for their decisions, is being eroded in the last few months. There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state."
This is mind-boggling. As libertarian journalist Justin Raimondo of antiwar.com noted, here Putin sounded "more like Barry Goldwater than any Russian leader I ever heard of."
But Putin went further, warning against the dangers of military expansionism as a means of solving economic woes.
"Unfortunately, we are increasingly hearing the argument that the buildup of military spending could solve today's social and economic problems. The logic is simple enough. Additional military allocations create new jobs.
"At a glance, this sounds like a good way of fighting the crisis and unemployment. This policy might even be quite effective in the short term. But in the longer run, militarization won't solve the problem but will rather quell it temporarily. What it will do is squeeze huge financial and other resources from the economy instead of finding better and wiser uses for them."
Ron Paul could hardly have put it better.
Of course, Putin's remarks should fool no one into forgetting his brutal violations of civil liberties and human rights, and the massive restrictions on economic liberty he supports.
But this was one truly weird moment in history.
As Justin Raimondo concludes: "That a Russian leader is now telling Americans that their turn toward statism and militarism is harmful both to themselves and to the world is a turn of events no one of my generation could possibly have imagined, certainly not anyone of libertarian inclinations. It is a sad and telling commentary that no American leader of any stature, aside from the previously mentioned Rep. Paul, has the courage to tell us what we need to hear."
Even more remarkably, this comes after bookstore sales reported an all-time annual high in 2008 of about 200,000 copies sold.
"Americans are flocking to buy and read Atlas Shrugged because there are uncanny similarities between the plot-line of the book and the events of our day," said Yaron Brook, Executive Director at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.
"Americans are rightfully concerned about the economic crisis and government's increasing intervention and attempts to control the economy. Ayn Rand understood and identified the deeper causes of the crisis we're facing, and she offered, in Atlas Shrugged, a principled and practical solution consistent with American values."
Atlas Shrugged has never been out of print. Far more copies are now sold each year than were sold any year in Rand's lifetime. Atlas Shrugged is routinely praised as one of the most influential novels of the past century.
Henry Hazlitt Predicted Housing Crisis -- In 1946
Free market economist Henry Hazlitt predicted the current housing shortage in his marvelous book Economics In One Lesson -- which was first published in 1946.
Wrote Hazlitt: "Government-guaranteed home mortgages, especially when a negligible down payment or no down payment whatever is required, inevitably mean more bad loans than otherwise. They force the general taxpayer to subsidize the bad risks and to defray the losses. They encourage people to "buy" houses that they cannot really afford. They tend eventually to bring about an oversupply of houses as compared with other things. They temporarily overstimulate building, raise the cost of building for everybody (including the buyers of the homes with the guaranteed mortgages), and may mislead the building industry into an eventually costly overexpansion. In brief, in they long run they do not increase overall national production but encourage malinvestment." The Advocates has long recommended Hazlitt's classic short book as a fast and painless way for non-economists to quickly gain a solid understanding of free market economics. Jargon-free and written for non-economists, Economics in One Lesson is surely one of the most pleasant to read of all books on economics. The great H.L. Mencken once described Hazlitt as "one of the few economists in human history who could really write."
THE NEW GENERATION IS LIBERTARIAN: "Young people are more likely to be libertarian than conservative. Conservatives and Republicans, to win, need to do a better job of making the [Republican] party a more welcoming place for libertarians." -- David Kirby, president of America's Future Foundation, a non-profit network of young conservative and libertarian leaders, speaking at the national Conservative Political Action Conference.
HOW TO INSTANTLY REVIVE THE U.S. ECONOMY: "All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans. We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate -- no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans." -- Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper, quoted by syndicated columnist Thomas Friedman.
JUST HOW BIG IS THAT STIMULUS PACKAGE?: "$787 billion would send a check for $2,623 to every man, woman and child in the US." (That's $10,492 per family of four.) -- Carpe Diem blog.
* * * * * * * * "Good News, Bad News, Unbelievable News" is written by Liberator Online Editor James W. Harris. His articles have appeard in numerous magazines and newspapers, and he has been a Finalist for the Mencken Awards, given by the Free Press Association for "Outstanding Journalism in Support of Liberty."
PERSUASION POWER POINT
#264: All Credit is Debt
by Michael Cloud Most stock market insiders, Wall Street gurus, and economic and political pundits claim that we're in a "credit crisis." They seem united in their calls for the government to "thaw the credit markets" -- so businesses can recover.
They wring their hands about the "credit freeze," "credit crunch," or "tight credit." If only the Federal Reserve or Congress would provide the money to "loosen" or "ease" or "thaw" the credit market...
For a moment, let's set aside their assertions and opinions.
Let's examine the word they're using to define the issue: "credit." The word "credit" is one side of the coin. The flip side is the word "debt." You can't have one side of the coin without the other.
"All credit is debt," wrote Henry Hazlitt in Economics in One Lesson. "Proposals for an increased volume of credit, therefore, are merely another name for proposals for an increased burden of debt. When they say the way to economic salvation is to increase credit, it is just as if they said the way to economic salvation is to increase debt: these are different names for the same thing seen from opposite sides."
So why are the analysts and commentators only talking about "credit"?
Why aren't beating the drum for "debt"?
They could claim: "To make corporations solvent, we must put them deeper in debt."
Or: "Borrowing and debt are the lifeblood of American business."
Or: "We have a debt crisis: the only remedy is to let business get further and further into debt."
Or: "Unless major corporations can dramatically increase their financial liabilities, they can't start turning a profit."
Or: "Wall Street's biggest problem is a lack of access to greater borrowing, more liabilities, and increased financial burdens."
Or: "Major corporations are failing because they do not owe enough money, because they cannot run up a bigger debt."
Or: "Businesses are failing because of a shortage of debt."
Turn over the word coin. Take their sentences, their words, and replace the word "credit" with the word "debt." Ask them whether they still believe it. Ask their listeners and readers whether they still want it.
Call in to talk radio shows. Use the Henry Hazlitt quote. Then replace the word "credit" with the word "debt" in pro-bailout sentences and phrases. Ask listeners what they think of the word trickery.
When you read an essay or article online that uses the half-truth word "credit," post the Hazlitt quote -- and replace the word "credit" with "debt." Ask readers to comment.
Sometimes you don't have to argue a point. Simply reveal what they're trying to conceal.
We may be only one insight away from convincing people.
In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.
Ask Dr. Ruwart
Dr. Mary Ruwart is a leading expert in libertarian communication. In this column she offers short answers to real questions about libertarianism. To submit questions to Dr. Ruwart, see end of column.
Will immigration lead to homogenization of culture?
QUESTION: Will open immigration homogenize nations? That is, will it make their cultures the same? Looking at the European Union we see a continent where an elite is trying to homogenize and unify it. Open borders are one of the tools being used.
MY SHORT ANSWER: Ultimately, societal attitudes contribute as much or more to homogenization than open borders.
If each of us stayed in our own countries and never left, we wouldn't have intermarriage, which definitely contributes to homogenization. However, through TV, radio, and the Internet we might all eventually adopt the same customs and lifestyle even if no borders were crossed.
On the other hand, some ethnic groups keep to themselves even when they enter a new nation. These communities are often large enough to make it possible for many immigrants never to even learn the language of their host country.
Some people think that homogenization means less strife. However, having similar physical characteristics, language, or customs is no guarantee of peace. Mutual respect, honoring our neighbor's choice, and righting any wrongs that we do (i.e., the libertarian philosophy), however, is a tried and true path to that end.
Switzerland, for example, is one of the most libertarian nations in the world. This wealthy and peaceful nation was founded to unite -- but not homogenize -- diverse groups of people. It has three national languages: French, Italian, and German.
Peaceful coexistence is about mutual respect and delighting in our differences, rather than feeling a need to force everyone into the same mold.
LEARN MORE:The Cato Institute has assembled some excellent material on the issue of immigration, answering a lot of common questions on this important and often misunderstood issue.
* * * * * * * * Got questions? Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you'd like answers to YOUR "tough questions" on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart at: ruwart@theAdvocates.org
Due to volume, Dr. Ruwart can't personally acknowledge all emails. But we'll run the best questions and answers in upcoming issues.
With government getting bigger and ever more intrusive, libertarians have no shortage of opportunities to criticize Congress and the Obama administration.
This is a great opportunity to present libertarian solutions to the massive economic problems that Big Government has created -- and is now making even worse by its own statist "solutions."
But there's a potential pitfall here as well.
If libertarians merely attack "liberal" or "progressive" or "leftist" economic policies (as in "liberal big spending programs," or "progressive central planning of the economy"), inevitably many people will assume, by default, that we are speaking as "conservatives."
It's far better, instead, to label the government programs we are criticizing as "statist," "authoritarian," or "big-government" policies.
We must make it clear that our objections, and our proposals, are from a libertarian, small-government, pro-freedom viewpoint, not a conservative one.
That lets us accomplish some powerful things for the libertarian movement.
* It prevents us from inadvertently being heard as a voice for the conservative movement, which favors many non-libertarian policies.
* It helps us point out the weakness of the "left versus right" model of politics -- which excludes libertarians -- and gives us the opportunity to point out that libertarianism is a large and fast-growing third voice in American politics. (As always, the World's Smallest Political Quiz is tremendously helpful in quickly making this clear.)
* Large and increasing numbers of people are looking for an alternative to both liberalism and conservatism. And they are increasingly hearing about libertarianism. Distinguishing our position as "libertarian" lets our listeners know that we are different from the other political philosophies -- and encourages them to seek more information.
Libertarianism is today a significant and fast-growing part of the American political scene. It is more important than ever that we establish and clarify a true and distinctive libertarian brand.
Let's not hide our libertarian light under a basket!
* ADVOCATES PRESIDENT AT GEORGIA LP STATE CONVENTION: Sharon Harris will speak on effective libertarian communication at the annual convention of the Libertarian Party of Georgia, to be held April 18, 2009 in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. (Sharon, incidentally, was a founding member of the LP of Georgia in 1973.)