For an Optimistic Libertarianism

There are many and complex reasons for believing that the long term trend of history reflects well for libertarianism. I know many of you are thinking I have jumped the shark on that idea, but I think I can lay out a decent case. Let me give you one sweeping generalization I saw someplace as a starter today: in an age of mass affluence; economic development and individualism go hand in hand.

We need to think about the long term trends and not what mad scheme the Obama administration has dreamed up this week. Libertarians seem to be unduly pessimistic these days. This post was prompted by two fellows on Twitter who are wonderful voices for freedom and liberty; but took exception to my assertion that we are, indeed, winning the battle of ideas. I think the long-run economic and social trends favor libertarianism even as the short term trends tell us that our opponent, the State, is still strong.

One example of the long term trend that I see lies not inside the United States but outside. Consider the country China. In my youth China was 100% communist and the government impoverished the country while murdering millions upon millions of innocent citizens. Now they no longer believe in communism and central planning. They are no longer communist even if the ruling party keeps the outer form of the old government. The people have seen what individuals working for themselves can do — and so has the world.

Or consider the old USSR. It is gone. It fell apart as a result of central planning. After 70 years or so of trying to build the “New Soviet Man” the people saw that the ideology of complete government control just does not work.

Consider the ever optimistic Murray Rothbard. He started out in the 50s with very few allies and very few outlets for his writings and ideas. By the 90s he was world famous and the leader of a huge wing of radical libertarian thought. The Mises Institute promotes Rothbard as well as von Mises and their analysis of government and economics. Not only that, but many scholars have arisen to take their place and extend the libertarian philosophy.

We also have The Ron Paul Movement which will continue even though Ron Paul is retired from the House. We have the Antiwar.com, Free State Project, Zero Hedge, the Mises Institute, Laissez Faire Books, Twitter, Liberty Classroom, and a host of other important voices for liberty. But much more importantly; we have the internet and millions of diverse voices teaching each other the philosophy of liberty. We are a decentralized movement that has no one leader for the statists to destroy. We are legion.

Hans Hoppe wrote:

“…the task of supporting and keeping alive the truths of private property, freedom of contract and association and disassociation, personal responsibility, and of fighting falsehoods, lies, and the evil of statism, relativism, moral corruption, and irresponsibility can nowadays only be taken on collectively by pooling resources and supporting organizations like the Mises Institute, an independent organization dedicated to the values underlying Western civilization, uncompromising and far removed even physically from the corridors of power. Its program of scholarships, teaching, publications, and conferences is nothing less than an island of moral and intellectual decency in a sea of perversion. …”

The Austrian School is enjoying its most spectacular surge in growth in my lifetime. Ron Paul awakened many to the ideas that the Austrians have been putting forth ever since its founding by Carl Menger. Now a new generation of young people are reading Austrian economics. The economics of the Austrian school tells these young folks that government is the eternal enemy of peace, prosperity, and liberty.

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Rothbard once told us that before the 18th century in Western Europe there existed an identifiable Old Order called the Ancien Régime. It was feudalism marked by “tyranny, exploitation, stagnation, fixed caste, and hopelessness and starvation for the bulk of the population.” The ruling classes governed by conquest and tricking the masses into believing that it was divine will that the Kings should rule and plunder. The Old Order was the great and mighty enemy of liberty and for a score of centuries it did not appear it could ever be defeated. We know better now that the classical liberal revolution triumphed in the 18th century (in the West at least). We can win again and next time we will know not to allow even the seed of old order to remain. We must pull out the idea of the old order root and branch.

We don’t face as hard a task as the original classical liberals did in the 1700s for we now know that it can be done. We have every reason to be optimistic for the long run even as we fear the brutality and horror of the short run as the dying beast can be very dangerous in its death throes.

Burden of proof lies with the statists

Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a Great Leap Forward that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.

In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.— Robert Higgs

This is yet one more post set off by a tweet on Twitter. Glenn Greenwald once said that Twitter was like crack and he was correct. I have met so many wonderful people through that media. A tweet led me to look for the above Robert Higgs quote. I had seen it before but today it struck me as very important since I am always seeing state worshipers claim that anarchy (or voluntarism) would lead to violence. Violence? What is one supposed to call the violent record of the State?

Anarchy is simply when the gang of thieves writ large called the state does not exist. Every single person can be freed to buy and sell in a voluntary manner. Everyone is able to seek the protections services that they want from whatever firm they want. Everyone is freed to concentrate on being productive and being socially responsible. It is in man’s nature to cooperate and with no state you will see even more cooperation than with the predatory state spreading violence and envy.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. ~Lord Acton

I have heard people claim that the State is necessary since men are not angels. They think that men in charge of other men is somehow better than men being in charge of themselves. The truth is that since men are definitely not angels we need to destroy that agent of great power, force, fraud, violence, and domination — The State. There never was a man alive who should be entrusted with the power of the state.

Experience has shown me that people should be on guard to protect liberty precisely when the Government’s purposes seem to be beneficial. We are normally alert to invasions of our liberty by evil rulers; but we allow usurpations of our liberties often when we think that government is trying to be helpful. Never trust the government when they tell you they are trying to help you!

It is beyond belief that some people think that government, which is raw force, is somehow better than voluntary cooperation; and yet, I read many progressives and “liberals” who say that the government is the fount of all progress. How did they get that deluded when the evidence of government evil is all around them?

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The Evil Minions of the State

The average man, whatever his errors otherwise, at least sees clearly that government is something lying outside him and outside the generality of his fellow men; that it is a separate, independent, and hostile power, only partly under his control, and capable of doing him great harm. Is it a fact of no significance that robbing the government is everywhere regarded as a crime of less magnitude than robbing an individual, or even a corporation? . . .

What lies behind all this, I believe, is a deep sense of the fundamental antagonism between the government and the people it governs. It is apprehended, not as a committee of citizens chosen to carry on the communal business of the whole population, but as a separate and autonomous corporation, mainly devoted to exploiting the population for the benefit of its own members. . . . When a private citizen is robbed, a worthy man is deprived of the fruits of his industry and thrift; when the government is robbed, the worst that happens is that certain rogues and loafers have less money to play with than they had before. The notion that they have earned that money is never entertained; to most sensible men it would seem ludicrous. ~H. L. Mencken

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The ruling group of a State has one main interest; that is to maintain their rule over the population. No group wants to lose their power. They will tend to use force and intimidation at times but that is not enough. The ruling group is vastly outnumbered and the use of force alone will just not cut it. To remain in power the rulers need the support of the majority of the people. The support does not have to be joyous and enthusiastic; as resigned acceptance works just as well. The complicit complacency of resigned acceptance probably accounts for the vast majority of citizen support.

The rulers can use force but that will not subdue the majority they need and so the ruler’s basic overall problem is ideological. The state must pay off minions to be enforcers of the will of the rulers, but they must also pay off “intellectuals” to convince the population that the state is “good”, or at least inevitable. I read a comment today at a progressive site where someone said the State was a force of nature and eternal. That fool is exactly the useful idiot that rulers want: he has the perfect slave mentality.

The state must secure support through the creation of vested economic interests. Everyone employed by the State apparatus is paid off and that makes them supporters of the ruling class by self-interest, but that is still just a small minority of the population. Subsidies and other grants of privilege will buy even more support among the privileged cronies outside the state apparatus; but in the end, promoting the statist ideology among the people is the vital social task of the “intellectuals” who act as opinion makers. The job of the intellectual is to provide the ideas for the common man who, in general, never thinks for himself but relies on his “intellectual superiors” to formulate his beliefs. And so the State needs the support of the opinion makers in the society. These people are paid off in grants, subsidies, access, money, prestige, and all the rest.

But why do the opinion makers support the State? Why not just make their living in the free market if they are intellectually superior? It is because the safety and guarantee of the blessing flowing from the State are seen to be far more secure and reliable than going it alone on the competitive market. The intellectuals will be handsomely rewarded for convincing the common man that the state is necessary and that they must support it. Their rewards are paid in monetary wealth, fame, prestige, “respectability”, and more. And the fact that most of these people are “outside” the state apparatus gives the mistaken impression to the gullible that these “intellectuals” are not bought and paid for shills for the state.

The basic argument of the opinion makers is along the lines of “the rulers are wise men with the interests of the whole country at heart”. They tell us that the rulers hire the “best and the brightest” experts among us to advise them on their burdensome civic duties.  And besides that, government is said to be necessary to civilization — it would be horrible chaos to leave the warm embrace of the State say the opinion molding class in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  The rule of the State is now proclaimed as being very scientific since “experts” do the advising. Since ideological support is vital to the State we see it deploy its vast army of its minions to fool the public with all manner of propaganda dressed up in logical sounding myths.

The main war against the State is being fought with ideas, not guns. We must overcome the hired prostitutes of the government who claim to be objective intellectuals or other opinion makers while, in fact, they are just hired liars. Our job is to de-legitimize the state.

When we convince the majority of the people that the state is not legitimate then the State will fall just as the USSR did when it lost the faith of its people.

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A lady shares her family story and thoughts on collectivism

I was sent the following story by a friend I met on Twitter. She is a little shy about telling it and so I present it here without her name and without any link to her at all. I enjoyed the story; it is a trip though time from oriental despotism (or feudalism) to communism to fascism. It is a story of revolution gone bad and a family living through it to come to the “free world”. It is the story of her family and their escape from tyranny. I hope you like it as much as I did.

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A Very Brief family history and My thoughts on collectivism

My father was born in China during a very tumultuous time. Between the Japanese invasion and civil war raging on between the Communist Party and the Nationalists. My Grandfather was a higher up in the Chiang Kai-shek army. They were a part of the 2 million who fled to Taiwan at the end of the war when the CCP took over. My Grandmother strapped her infant son on her back and guided my 8 year old father and his older brother to the coast on bound feet.

They knew the evils ahead despite their participation in the evils past. I am in no way supportive of fascists or nationalists even in the face of my family’s affiliation. The purpose of this post is more-so to point out why I think central planning in any form is a government nonetheless and without a doubt will become far more oppressive than what “the people” could ever imagine no matter how good the intentions were at the beginning of the movement.

Fist of all, let’s take a look at the premise behind the Revolution. The people were fed up with the inequalities and hardships they faced under feudal times and even with the dissolution of the monarch, found it was not much different. The CCP appealed to the people because it promised equality, working together, sharing, et cetera. Sound familiar? The people wanted to be taken care of by their government not much unlike the “occupy” movements that are going on today.

Mao Zedong was not called “dictator.” He wasn’t called “President” or “Prime Minister.” He wasn’t even called “Leader.” He was the “Chairman” of a central planning committee. The country had established the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (this name would change several times before it became the People’s Republic of China or PRC). It was intended to be a structure much like the one I hear people clamor for today. It was a structure that promised to cater to the people’s interests. They successfully centralized government on this premise and made the people feel like they had a voice by letting the peasant class be a part of associations that worked alongside the governing body.

Many horrors commenced following the PRC establishment. I don’t intend to go into them or recount the history of the PRC. Notable events to research: The Great Leap Forward in which anywhere from 10-45 million (there is no way of ever knowing the true casualty count) Chinese perished to famine. Also the Cultural Revolution where China was stripped of it’s “old ways.” A great movie portraying the hardships of a family through this era is To Live.

The purpose of this post is to explain why I do not believe in the ideals conveyed to me by the communist or syndicalist types. I do not believe in a planning committee. I don’t believe in the success of a horizontal structure as I feel it will NEVER truly remain horizontal. It doesn’t take much to topple a carefully balanced weight to one side or the other. I am not at all interested in being a part of a collective and be required to “share” by force.

I place no titles on myself aside from Voluntaryist. My political, religious, philosophical views are always growing and being shaped with age, experience, and information intake. However Voluntaryism will always remain a constant. Because I want to be an individual. I want to give out of my own compassion and humanity, not because I have to. I want to own myself.

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I found the story, and the closing especially, to be powerful and moving. I told her so in a private message. The conclusion she reached is spot on target. Anytime some small group gets to make the rules and tell others what to do; the situation will lead sooner or later to tyranny.

She has concluded, just as I have, that The State is the “organization of the political means”; which means that it is the systematic, predatory process over a given territory. The State is a  “legal” and brutal monopoly of force, theft and destruction. It destroys private property rights. Since production must always come first, the free market proceeds the State, and the State then lives off of the private production as a vampire bat sucking the life blood from the populous. The State was born in conquest and exploitation: born in evil and forever must remain evil.

Clowns, Collectivists and Stupidity

Most of the time you can depend on progressives saying the stupidest things about economics. Since they think that all blessing flow from the central government, there is little hope of the greedy, envious little so-and-so’s ever realizing that the government is not making wealth but destroying it.  As it so happened, I was reading a thread at the progressive Guardian newspaper when I ran across the following comment by a poster who does not post often, but when he does — it is usually a good one. The progressives, as usual, had been saying how “capitalism” was so awful and only the crazed could believe in the free market. Part of his response was:

Well well. Looks like the collectivist circus is back in town and the clown car just showed up.

Everything that makes up our current standard of living exists thanks to evil capitalists who greedily created things that other people wanted to buy, saved capital and created capital goods that other evil capitalists used to invent even more sophisticated things that have made everyone’s life more pleasant.

You know, things like modern housing, automobiles, airplanes, vaccines, MRI machines, increased crop yields and other such things that collectivists apparently think simply appeared out of the aether.

What we have today, useful idiots, is not anything resembling capitalism, but rather corporatism, the beloved system formerly known as fascism, which is a direct result of progressive collectivism.

You know, the folks who worship at the alter of the State and have “progressively” empowered the State to the point where it now openly claims the power to kill anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any reason whatsoever, and to suck the population dry via taxes and inflation to reward itself and it’s corporate cronies.

He went on to say that since nearly every abuse, every atrocity, every evil that Glenn Greenwald (a good solid anti-war type even though a progressive himself) writes about is a direct result of the poisonous collectivist progressive ideology of unlimited State power, and that the progressive clowns had a lot of audacity to talk about capitalism, which makes everyone wealthier, while their vision of an all powerful State makes everyone but a privileged few poorer.

The trouble we have convincing progressives that the laissez-faire free market is the route to go (along with voluntarism in general) is that they want the powerful state. They want the state to impose their vision of utopia upon the rest of us; or, they simply want the state to steal from the general population and give them what they desire.  It does not take a genus to see that if you empower the state to the point that it can loot others for your benefit then it is strong enough to loot you!

Even worse is the empirical fact that the state is using all the powers granted to it to engage in endless war. War is the health of the State, after all, and progressives destroyed the last of the constraints on the state going to war long ago. The “progressive era” was the death of what remained of the semi-constrained central Republic.

Murray Rothbard wrote in the Anatomy of the State:

The State is almost universally considered an institution of social service. Some theorists venerate the State as the apotheosis of society; others regard it as an amiable, though often inefficient, organization for achieving social ends; but almost all regard it as a necessary means for achieving the goals of mankind, a means to be ranged against the “private sector” and often winning in this competition of resources. With the rise of democracy, the identification of the State with society has been redoubled, until it is common to hear sentiments expressed which violate virtually every tenet of reason and common sense such as, “we are the government.” The useful collective term “we” has enabled an ideological camouflage to be thrown over the reality of political life. If “we are the government,” then anything a government does to an individual is not only just and untyrannical but also “voluntary” on the part of the individual concerned. If the government has incurred a huge public debt which must be paid by taxing one group for the benefit of another, this reality of burden is obscured by saying that “we owe it to ourselves”; if the government conscripts a man, or throws him into jail for dissident opinion, then he is “doing it to himself” and, therefore, nothing untoward has occurred. Under this reasoning, any Jews murdered by the Nazi government were not murdered; instead, they must have “committed suicide,” since they were the government (which was democratically chosen), and, therefore, anything the government did to them was voluntary on their part. One would not think it necessary to belabor this point, and yet the overwhelming bulk of the people hold this fallacy to a greater or lesser degree.

We must, therefore, emphasize that “we” are not the government; the government is not “us.” The government does not in any accurate sense “represent” the majority of the people.[1] But, even if it did, even if 70 percent of the people decided to murder the remaining 30 percent, this would still be murder and would not be voluntary suicide on the part of the slaughtered minority.[2] No organicist metaphor, no irrelevant bromide that “we are all part of one another,” must be permitted to obscure this basic fact.

The majority of Americans by this time late in the life of the American Empire have been schooled in government schools and the propagandized by the many minions of the State to believe that “we” are the state and that anything the state does is just “us” doing it “to ourselves”. So, murder, war, theft, intimidation and all the rest is justified in the minds of may as long as the State does it. And when the state does something so horrific that even the deluded progressives see that it is wrong; why then the answer is that a few “bad apples” are the cause and we must replace them next election! (or fire them if they are not elected politicians)

Sometimes we hear progressives decry the influence of the large, favored, and privileged companies on policies both foreign and domestic. What they fail to realize, no matter how many times it is explained to them, is that the large and privileged companies are in a symbiotic relationship with that state and that is a feature of the corporatist economic system (the fascism of Mussolini) that they themselves helped to establish. It is the working of Karma that the progressives now find the gang of thieves writ large that they helped to make so strong are now persecuting them.  (not that the rest of us are doing very well either of course)

It must be the fact that “misery loves company” that causes the progressives to want to follow the old, failed Soviet Union down the path to collectivism. It must be intense envy that causes the progressive to want everyone brought down to their level. What they can never seem to see (or they choose to ignore) is that egalitarianism is a revolt against nature. Humans have differing talents, interests, abilities, motivations, and all the rest. So why should the the achievers pay for the slackers until all are “equal”? Why should the armed goons of the state be empowered to loot the productive to subsidize the lazy?

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The laissez-faire free market is just humans trading with each other in a voluntary and cooperative manner. This is moral, while the theft that the progressives love, when called by the name “tax”, is immoral. But even more to the point is that the laissez-faire free market makes everyone more wealthy while any intervention makes all but the favored few less well off — especially the poor. Yes, especially the poor. Progressives, in their unbridled envy, pursue policies that make the poor more poverty stricken while pretending to be trying to help them. That is hypocrisy writ large.

Prozac kids: the dangers of SSRI drugs

I have been reading a lot on the present gun control debate that has sprung up since the the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Then I read a headline that said, “New Mexico Teen Fatally Shoots 2 Adults, 3 Children Inside Home” and this question popped into my mind: was this kid on prescription anti-depressants like so many other child killers? Many people have been saying for some time that far to many kids are put on brain altering drugs.

The SSRI class of drugs:

The first drug in the class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) hit the U.S. market in 1988 under the brand name Prozac. By 2005, antidepressants like Prozac had become the most prescribed drugs in the country. Today, about a dozen SSRIs are prescribed, including Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac.

People have also been saying for some time that kids on drugs in the dangerous SSRI class of drugs are prone to violent outbursts and are potential mass killers along with many, many other potential problems.

Many medical and legal professionals believe antidepressant manufacturers need to be held accountable for not fully informing patients about what could happen to them and their babies if they take these prescription medicines.

There are even some academic papers published in the journals on the danger to the young patient whose doctor prescribes these brain altering medications for them. An interesting short history of SSRIs and their dangerous side effects by a legal office can be seen here.

I am inclined to believe that the SSRI drugs do have a major impact on the numbers of mass murders and acts of barbarism that we see today. It can not just be guns because we have always had many guns in this country and we have far, far more gun control laws today than we did 50 years ago; and we have much more violence than in the past.

Is the widespread use of SSRI drugs the only problem? I don’t think do. I think it is just one aspect of a deteriorating and sick culture than has been poisoned by the organized violence of the state itself. We have been at war, overt or covert, on an ongoing basis for decades. The modern violence of our brutal overseas occupations or the violence of our SWAT team no-knock raids on families across this land are examples of a few men killing or threatening to kill the “bad guys”. I think that is a role model that many of our young come to accept as the “way its done”. This is reinforced by TV, movies, music, and electronic games.

There are other factors and it would take an entire book to explore this topic fully; but I have outlined my concerns. The SSRI drugs seem to be some kind of trigger that sets off certain young people to commit unspeakably acts of violence against groups of innocent people. I also think that if some can be caused to commit horrific atrocities by these drugs then many others may just exhibit anti-social behaviour that we see everywhere we look around us. I think a full investigation of the effects of the SSRIs are in order. I also think that the big pharmaceutical companies are too powerful to allow it. We shall see.

The below list of SSRI connected atrocities was seen at whatreallyhappened.com:

Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Colombine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.

Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.

Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.

Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.

Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.

Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.

Jarred Viktor, age 15, stabbed his grandmother 61 times after 5 days on Paxil.

Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.

Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.

A boy in Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school.

Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded.

A young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.

Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.

TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.

Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.

James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.

Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania

Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California

Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.

Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.

Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic’s file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.

Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.

Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head.

Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.

Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled.

Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.

Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family’s Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.

Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet.

Kara’s parents said “…. the damn doctor wouldn’t take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil…”)

Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002,(Gareth’s father could not accept his son’s death and killed himself.)

Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family’s detached garage.

Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.

Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.

Woody ____, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms.

A boy from Houston, age 10, shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased.

Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.”

Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.

Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.

Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.

Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.

Jon Romano, age 16, on medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his New York high school.

That list is not positive proof of course; but it is food for thought and evidence we need a full investigation.

Kid trades iPhone for a Porsche

I saw on the LewRockwell.com blog that Jalopnik, the car enthusiast site, has a story about a 17 year old who acquired a Porsche Boxter by trading starting with an old iPhone. Using barter ads at Craigslist, the kid was able to go from a cell phone donated by a friend of his to a nice Porsche car:

Starting with an old cell phone that was given to him for free by a friend, Steven [Ortiz] used the “barter” section of Craigslist to move up to a better phone. He then traded the phone for an iPod Touch, the iPod Touch for a dirtbike — which was turned around several times for other, better dirtbikes — and then a MacBook Pro arrived, which opened the door to vehicles.

…The total number of trade transactions between old cell phone and Porsche Boxster? Fourteen.

This example gives us a wonderful illustration of subjective theory of value to use to explain the concept to young people and to progressives. (we will have better luck with the young as they can still think) The example shows that each of these trades was voluntary and that both sides of each of the 14 trades believed that they were making their own situation better. No one was forced or intimidated into trading with this young barter expert.

People have differing value scales and personal situations, and that allows trades between two individuals to leave both thinking that they are more wealthy than they were before the trade took place. You and I don’t have to agree with either party on their subjective valuation in any of the trades and we most likely would not agree with one side or the other in most of them. But this difference of subjective opinion is exactly what makes the market work as the Austrian School describes.

I once wrote a post called, “Free Markets: how can both sides win in a trade?” where I attempted to outline why the human subject value allows for trades to be win-win. I wrote that in any voluntary exchange, both sides of the trade undertake the exchange because each expects to gain from it. If both sides are happy with the trade they may well elect to trade again next time. If the trade does not yield the results that one side or the other expected (we do make mistakes after all) then there may be no trade next time.

I think stories of kids using Craigslist to barter are going to be great teaching tools for those of us struggling to find ways to explain our thinking to the up and coming generation. I am glad that LCR brought this one to my attention.