Anthony Gregory does yeoman’s work collecting books, essays, and opinions on the libertarian stance on war.
Read it, click the copious embedded links and spend a few days reading those, and be sure to bookmark it for future reference. It’s a veritable bounty of knowledge and insight…
I’d like to underline that none of the stress, the heightened security measures, the omnipresence of weapons (wielded by the young, militia members from Misrata who looked after us when things started to get..tense) meant that anything bad happened to any of us. There were NO near death experiences. No close calls. (Okay. A bottle rocket ricocheted into my hair. Setting it momentarily on fire. It hurt for a second. Ouch.) Everywhere WE went, people were, more often than not, lovely to us. At one point, we unwittingly rolled up on the front gates of the internal security forces’ HQ, intending to shoot some cool graffiti. Some very sinister looking dudes were extraordinarily and unusually cool to us. Almost anywhere else, we would have been arrested immediately. In Misrata, the overwhelming concern of the various “militias” seemed to be to keep us safe, to keep order, to not let their city—for which they’d fought so hard—slide back into chaos. Even the Tripoli militia who you’ll see shutting us down while trying to shoot in the ruins of Gadaffi’s palace complex—they weren’t overtly hostile per se. It was more an armed version of a bureaucratic squabble over jurisdiction. These things happen when you’re talking about a “new” nation emerging from 40 years of maniacal autocracy. There is not, currently, much of a government. Order, to a great extent, is a DIY affair, maintained on what one might call: a volunteer basis.
Amidst all the justified outrage over the apparent targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups by the IRS, not to mention the Associated Press phone tapping brouhaha, an important point is being lost: this is nothing new. The Tea Partiers may be shocked – shocked! – that the Big Government they have spent the last few years complaining about really is a threat to our liberties, but the government targeting certain political groups wholly on account of their views is hardly breaking news. …
The Tea Partiers’ problem is that their protests come far too late – because the legal and political precedents targeting dissident groups were established long ago, with the full complicity and even enthusiastic support of most of those who call themselves “conservatives” these days. The“Patriot” Act – passed with conservative support – gives the government the “right” to not only spy on such groups, it also gives them the means to spy on anyone, for any reason, as well as the prosecutorial “tools” to put them away forever. Law enforcement agencies have set up “fusion centers” in order to collect information on American citizens who might be considered a “threat.” A recent report on “right-wing extremism” issued by the Department of Homeland Security” listed groups local law enforcement should keep tabs on, including members of the Libertarian and Constitution parties, as well as Ron Paul supporters. Efforts by the FBI and local police to infiltrate and set up members of the “Occupy” movement have been widespread. …
This is the way our civil liberties are continually eroded, with virtually no pushback when the government singles out, demonizes, and tries to destroy a targeted group. When the government went after David Koresh and his followers at Waco, liberals were either silent or else actively cheerleading the slaughter. When the headquarters of MOVE, a Philadelphia black nationalist group, was bombed, and the entire neighborhood decimated, not a peep of protest was heard on the right. When the Tea Partiers complain about being targeted, and Rand Paul launches a filibuster conjuring up images of Americans being targeted by drones on American soil, liberals and their media megaphones descry the “black helicopters crowd” and talk about the “paranoia” of the “far right.” When it’s the liberals and the left warning about the dangers of an encroaching police state in the age of terrorism, conservatives start ranting about how “terrorist-loving” liberals and the ACLU are out to destroy America.
While right and left go at each other, the machinery of repression is being readied. The most recent – and chilling – example: a recent Pentagon-initiated change to the US Code would give military commanders powers equal to the President in wartime. As the revised language of the Code puts it:
“Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances.”
When is it “impossible” for the President to duly authorize military action? This is never defined. What is “temporary”? This, too, goes undefined. And what about the Insurrection and Posse Comitatus Acts which limit and regulate the manner in which the military may intervene in domestic affairs? The revised regulations eviscerate both acts, and throw the door wide open to rule by the military in an ill-defined “emergency.” And hardly anybody notices!
That’s the state of civil liberties in the US these days: the government is spying on reporters, IRS agents are harassing political activists, FBI agents are raiding antiwar organizations, and the Pentagon is busy getting the legal machinery up and running in the event they feel the need to impose martial law. The reason they can get away with this, politically, is because the right doesn’t care if the government comes down hard on the left, while the left openly agitates for the instruments of repression to be used against the right. There is no sense that we’re all in this together: that if the government can move against the Tea Partiers, then the antiwar activists are next. It’s all about whose ox is being gored – not whether our liberties are endangered by a regime emboldened by unaccountable power.
Very quotable speech by Don Boudreaux:
An economy is capitalist in façade-only if much of the direction of resources in that economy is governed by something other than the free choices of consumers and the genuine competition of producers – competition both for customers and for resources to be used to produce what producers anticipate customers will demand.
Likewise, a society is free in façade-only if it is capitalist in façade-only.
The modern “liberal” – in America we increasingly say “Progressive” – ethos features two propositions relevant to the subject of this panel. The first isthat government intervention is a pernicious threat to liberty when exercised over “personal” or “civil” matters such as religious belief, speech, sexual practices, or participation in politics.
The second is that our liberty is somehow enhanced – or at least not threatened – by strong state or collective intervention into the economy.
I believe that the first of these propositions is absolutely valid. I believe that the second – the one about the economy – is grossly mistaken. And it’s mistaken in a way that is inconsistent with the very reasons for why the first proposition is valid.
Two facts support my belief.
One, economic liberty cannot be compromised without creating government power that threatens to destroy personal or civil liberty.
Two, the very same arguments that justify personal or civil liberty as being essential for civilization apply equally to economic liberty.
The first fact is – or should be – obvious. And it is well-known – at least among us students of scholars such as F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman.
To the extent that government controls the economy it controls – or has the power to control – those areas of life that are classified as “non-economic.”
An obvious example is the press: if the government owns the paper mills, or has discretionary power to determine the operation of the paper mills, the government has the power to prevent publishers from getting an essential input for spreading ideas through books, newspapers, and magazines.
A less-obvious example is the financial sector: if the government owns the banks, or has discretionary power to determine the allocation of credit, the government has the power to prevent publishers from getting an essential input for spreading ideas – namely, the financing that is often necessary to launch or to sustain a newspaper or an e-magazine.
These examples can be multiplied endlessly.
Political and personal freedoms require economic resources for their exercise. So to control the latter is to have at least the power to control the former.
The second fact supporting my insistence on the inseparability of ‘economic’ from ‘non-economic’ liberty is, I think, just as obvious as the first – although it is too-seldom mentioned. I break it down into four component parts, but in fact these four parts are all of a single piece.
First, liberty respects the dignity of each individual.
If the individual is not to be a tool of the collective or a pawn of the state – if the individual is not to be a mere means to some higher political or religious end – if the individual has standing as an individual moral agent to make his or her own “non-economic” life’s choices, then the individual has standing as an individual moral agent to make his or her own “economic” choices.
If your dignity is violated by the state preventing you from choosing your preferred form of birth control, your preferred sexual partners, or your preferred political candidates, your dignity is violated no less by the state preventing you from choosing your preferred working conditions, consumer products, retirement plan, or line of work.
Second, liberty respects the competence of each individual.
If the individual is competent to make political and personal choices, such as those involving reproduction, on what ground is he or she incompetent to make economic choices? I can think of none.
Note that it will not do here to assert that private economic choices have system-wide consequences beyond the individual – consequences that might be undesirable. Of course they do.
But the same holds true for political choices. Indeed, because political choices necessarily are collective, they are much more prone than are private economic choices to be made irresponsibly and in ways that generate undesirable, unintended, system-wide consequences.
I might not always decide wisely how to spend my own money, but I will much less often decide wisely how to spend your money.
Either way, though, we do not face a choice between imperfect private economic decisions and perfect collective ones. Both types of decisions are marked by imperfections. We cannot, therefore, assume that real or imagined imperfections in the private economic sphere necessarily justify intervention through the political sphere.
Third, liberty reflects a healthy suspicion of those who would play god.
On non-economic matters we recognize today, at least in democracies, that government officials overstep their bounds of competence when they interfere in many ‘non-economic’ spheres.
No one, for example, believes the government official who asserts that he should restrict the press because he knows the truth better than do reporters and editors and bloggers and readers.
Yet the same limitations on the knowledge, wisdom, trustworthiness, and competence of the government official who would regulate the press or regulate our sexual practices exist also for the official who would regulate our economic and commercial practices.
The unwise, mistaken-prone, or dishonest regulator of speech, thought, belief, and sexuality doesn’t become wise, honest, and superhuman when he turns to regulating the economy.
Fourth, liberty strengthens the dynamism and creativity of an open, evolving society.
If restrictions on entry into political elections, restrictions on the extent of the adult franchise, restrictions on political speech, restrictions on whom we may marry, and other restrictions on our political and personal liberties stymie the dynamism of democracy and the progress of civil society, then restrictions on economic activities stymie the dynamism and growth of the economy. We are made poorer as a result.
There is no more reason to be suspicious of competition, decentralized experimentation, and freedom of choice in matters economic than in matters political and personal.
The dogma that says that economic activities are somehow less important or uplifting than are non-economic activities is mistaken. And it is also dangerous because it helps to fuel the fatal and false distinction between economic and non-economic liberty.
Liberty is whole; it is indivisible. To treat it otherwise is to threaten it in full – to weaken it on all fronts. And the consequence will be anything but progress toward a more civil, more peaceful, and more prosperous society.
This past week, we learned that the IRS has targeted for additional scrutiny the tax exemption applications of groups with whose messages it disagrees. We also learned that the Department of Justice obtained the personal telephone records of hundreds of reporters and editors employed by the Associated Press without a search warrant issued by a judge. And during this past week we learned that the White House, the Department of State and the CIA all engaged in a conspiracy of disinformation so that the official version of events of what caused the murders of four Americans at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, would not impair Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. The common threads in all of this government secrecy and lying are a general rejection of government’s moral obligation to tell the truth, a disturbing yet brazen willingness to evade and avoid the restrictions the Constitution has deliberately built around government, and a glib admission that the government can do as it pleases so long as it can politically get away with it.
This past week, we learned that the IRS has targeted for additional scrutiny the tax exemption applications of groups with whose messages it disagrees. We also learned that the Department of Justice obtained the personal telephone records of hundreds of reporters and editors employed by the Associated Press without a search warrant issued by a judge. And during this past week we learned that the White House, the Department of State and the CIA all engaged in a conspiracy of disinformation so that the official version of events of what caused the murders of four Americans at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, would not impair Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.
The common threads in all of this government secrecy and lying are a general rejection of government’s moral obligation to tell the truth, a disturbing yet brazen willingness to evade and avoid the restrictions the Constitution has deliberately built around government, and a glib admission that the government can do as it pleases so long as it can politically get away with it.
The key point is that the last bit is always the truth: “the government can do as it pleases so long as it can politically get away with it.” Words on parchment can never restrain those who thirst for ever more power, nor hold them to any moral obligation whatsoever. Agents and cronies of the state only get away with what the acquiescent masses allow them to.
The IRS scandal is that they steal your money at the point of a gun — and they’re doing more and more of it right now — not that they question some conservative group’s tax exemption.
— Lew Rockwell
[I]t is remarkable how media reactions to civil liberties assaults are shaped almost entirely by who the victims are. For years, the Obama administration has been engaged in pervasive spying on American Muslim communities and dissident groups. It demanded a reform-free renewal of the Patriot Act and the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, both of which codify immense powers of warrantless eavesdropping, including ones that can be used against journalists. It has prosecuted double the number of whistleblowers under espionage statutes as all previous administrations combined, threatened to criminalize WikiLeaks, and abused Bradley Manning to the point that a formal UN investigation denounced his treatment as “cruel and inhuman”.
But, with a few noble exceptions, most major media outlets said little about any of this, except in those cases when they supported it. It took a direct and blatant attack on them for them to really get worked up, denounce these assaults, and acknowledge this administration’s true character. That is redolent of how the general public reacted with rage over privacy invasions only when new TSA airport searches targeted not just Muslims but themselves: what they perceive as “regular Americans”. Or how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman - once the most vocal defender of Bush’s vast warrantless eavesdropping programs - suddenly began sounding like a shrill and outraged privacy advocate once it was revealed that her own conversations with Aipac representatives were recorded by the government.
Leave to the side how morally grotesque it is to oppose rights assaults only when they affect you. The pragmatic point is that it is vital to oppose such assaults in the first instance no matter who is targeted because such assaults, when unopposed, become institutionalized. Once that happens, they are impossible to stop when - as inevitably occurs - they expand beyond the group originally targeted. We should have been seeing this type of media outrage over the last four years as the Obama administration targeted non-media groups with these kinds of abuses (to say nothing of the conduct of the Bush administration before that). It shouldn’t take an attack on media outlets for them to start caring this much.
Florida quietly shortened yellow light standards & lengths, resulting in more red light camera tickets →
A subtle, but significant tweak to Florida’s rules regarding traffic signals has allowed local cities and counties to shorten yellow light intervals, resulting in millions of dollars in additional red light camera fines.
The 10 News Investigators discovered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) quietly changed the state’s policy on yellow intervals in 2011, reducing the minimum below federal recommendations. The rule change was followed by engineers, both from FDOT and local municipalities, collaborating to shorten the length of yellow lights at key intersections, specifically those with red light cameras (RLCs).
While yellow light times were reduced by mere fractions of a second, research indicates a half-second reduction in the interval can double the number of RLC citations — and the revenue they create. …
Red light cameras generated more than $100 million in revenue last year in approximately 70 Florida communities, with 52.5 percent of the revenue going to the state. The rest is divided by cities, counties, and the camera companies. In 2013, the cameras are on pace to generate $120 million.
“Red light cameras are a for-profit business between cities and camera companies and the state,” said James Walker, executive director of the nonprofit National Motorists Association. “The (FDOT rule-change) was done, I believe, deliberately in order that more tickets would be given with yellows set deliberately too short.”
In a few short weeks, [the Obama administration has] managed to show that when [government] wants to do “good” things, [its] managerial competence falls somewhere between David Brent and a cat chasing a laser pointer. But when government wants to flex its more malevolent muscles, [it’s] fucking Iron Man!
[Gas cans don’t pour well.] Soap doesn’t work. Toilets don’t flush. Clothes washers don’t clean. Light bulbs don’t illuminate. Refrigerators break too soon. Paint discolors. Lawnmowers have to be hacked. It’s all caused by idiotic government regulations that are wrecking our lives one consumer product at a time, all in ways we hardly notice. … If some product annoys you in surprising ways, there’s a good chance that it is not the invisible hand at work, but rather the regulatory grip that is squeezing the life out of civilization itself.
[Gas cans don’t pour well.] Soap doesn’t work. Toilets don’t flush. Clothes washers don’t clean. Light bulbs don’t illuminate. Refrigerators break too soon. Paint discolors. Lawnmowers have to be hacked. It’s all caused by idiotic government regulations that are wrecking our lives one consumer product at a time, all in ways we hardly notice. …
If some product annoys you in surprising ways, there’s a good chance that it is not the invisible hand at work, but rather the regulatory grip that is squeezing the life out of civilization itself.
The law requires large employers offering health insurance to include part-time employees working 30 hours a week or more. But rather than provide healthcare to more workers, a growing number of employers are cutting back employee hours instead.
The result: Not only will these workers earn less money, but they’ll also miss out on health insurance at work.
As Don Boudreaux notes: “Wow. What a surprise. I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Just shocked. It’s simply astonishing that employers don’t just pay these higher mandated costs out of their ubiquitous pots’o’gold.”
Libertarians often speak about what Bastiat called “the seen and the unseen” or the danger of what Sowell refers to as “not thinking beyond Stage 1.” These are the inevitable unintended consequences we warned of: diminished access and quality coupled with increased prices and other negative economic effects.
Naturally, the same economically-illiterate statists who caused this mess will blame “the market” and present us with a solution that is more of the same.
Although many were up in arms when the Fed said it would buy $600 billion in government debt outright for the previous round, QE2, all seems quiet about the magnitude of QE3 because it doesn’t come with huge up-front total price tag. But by year’s end the Fed’s balance sheet could hit $4 trillion. With no recovery in sight, where’s all this money going? It is creating bubbles. Bubbles in the housing sector, the stock market, and government debt. The stock market has been hitting record highs for the past two months as investors seek to capitalize on the Fed’s easy money. After all, as long as the Fed keeps the spigot open, nominal profits are there for the taking. But this is a house of cards. Eventually, just like in 2008-2009, the market will discipline the bad actions of the Fed and seek to find the real normal.
Although many were up in arms when the Fed said it would buy $600 billion in government debt outright for the previous round, QE2, all seems quiet about the magnitude of QE3 because it doesn’t come with huge up-front total price tag. But by year’s end the Fed’s balance sheet could hit $4 trillion.
With no recovery in sight, where’s all this money going? It is creating bubbles. Bubbles in the housing sector, the stock market, and government debt.
The stock market has been hitting record highs for the past two months as investors seek to capitalize on the Fed’s easy money. After all, as long as the Fed keeps the spigot open, nominal profits are there for the taking. But this is a house of cards. Eventually, just like in 2008-2009, the market will discipline the bad actions of the Fed and seek to find the real normal.
— Ron Paul
Children need wild, unlimited hours, but this time is in short supply for many, who are diarised into wall-to-wall activities, scheduled from the moment they wake until the minute they sleep, every hour accounted for by parents whose actions are prompted by the fear their child may fall behind in the rat race that begins in the nursery. Loving their child, not wanting them to be lifelong losers, parents push them to achieve through effective time-use. Society instils a fear of the future that can be appeased only by sacrificing present play and idleness, and children feel the effects in stress and depression.
In many traditional cultures, however, children are held to be the best judges of their own needs, including how they spend their time. …
Letting children have their own way? Doing just what they like? Wouldn’t that be a total disaster? Yes, if parents perform only the first half of the trick. In the cultural lexicon of modernity, self-will is often banally understood as brattish, selfish behaviour. Will does not mean selfishness, however, and autonomy over oneself is not a synonym for nastiness towards others – quite the reverse. Ngarinyin children in Australia traditionally grew up uncommanded and uncoerced, but from a young age they learned socialisation. That is the second half of the trick. Children are socialised into awareness and respect for the will and autonomy of others, so that, when necessary as they grow, they will learn to hold their own will in check in order to maintain good relations. For a community to function well, an individual may on occasion need to rein in his or her own will but, crucially, not be compelled to do so by someone else. …
Will is a child’s motive force: it impels a child from within, whereas obedience compels a child from without. Those who would overrule a child’s will take “obedience” as their watchword, as they fear disobedience and disorder and believe that if a child is not controlled, there will be chaos. But these are false opposites. The true opposite of obedience is not disobedience but independence. The true opposite of order is not disorder but freedom. The true opposite of control is not chaos but self-control.
Apparently it’s only ok to have caffeine in “traditional” items, like coffee and tea, and the FDA might even set caffeination limits for all foods and drinks.
hipsterlibertarian’s headline perfectly encapsulates the source of nearly every one of our societal problems: “Government agency X wants control over peaceful behavior Y.”
Some people simply want to control others. They use government and its monopoly on force to exert that control. Overwhelmingly, it’s for personal gain - financial, political, or psychic. Sometimes it is for (perhaps genuinely) altruistic or well-meaning reasons. They believe (incorrectly) that they know better and if they could just have more control, their machinations would yield a better and safer society. Even in the cases of the do-gooders, the result is the same: less liberty, autonomy, and prosperity for us and more power for them. And, ultimately, any purported gains in safety are always attainable - in much more efficient fashion - without an intervening government agency.