The Commandments of Rational Debate

Various similar lists of the 10 commandments of rational debate have been posted thousands of times on the net, and today it is my turn to post a list of commandments. Keep in mind that the list concerns rational debate and not rhetoric.

1. Do not attack the person or his character, but only the argument itself. (“Ad hominem”)

2. Do not misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s argument in order to make their argument easier to attack. (“Straw Man Fallacy”)

3. Do not reduce the argument down to only two possibilities. (“False Dichotomy”)

4. Do not claim that just because something has occurred before something else then it must be the cause of the second thing. (“Post Hoc/False Cause”)

5. Do not argue your position by assuming one of its premises is true. (“Begging the Question”)

6. Do not claim that because a premise or argument is popular then it must be true. (“Bandwagon Fallacy”)

7. Do not argue that because of our ignorance at this point in time that your claim must be true or false. (“Ad Ignorantiam”)

8. Do not assume “this” follows “that,” when there is no logical connection. (“Non sequitur”)

9. Do not appeal to an outside “experts” to claim support. (“Appeal to Authority”)

10. Do not claim moral authority as support for your argument. (“Moral high ground fallacy”)

Here is a link to the list of logical fallacies at Wikipedia.


In scientific debates and political debates alike we should strive to remain logical and truthful at all times. In political debate we should look at reality and human nature and not at some Utopia that we dream of. With both Austrian Economics and Rothbardian political analysis we strive to understand reality and so logical debate is valued over emotional sputterings.

Learn the fallacies and learn to spot their use by others.

Did you know why we have public schools?


I was reading James Ostrowski and he reminded me of some of the history of “public schooling” (government schools) that I thought I would share with readers here.

“Socialists, who were very active in the public school movement, began operating covertly in secret cells in America as early as 1829, before the word socialism was even invented.” ~ Samuel Blumenthal

James Ostrowski wrote an excellent book on government schools called “Government Schools Are Bad for Your Kids: What You Need to Know” which I highly recommend that you read. Another great read is Sam Blumenthal’s book “Is public education necessary?

I was taught that in the old days parents refused to educate their children and that the state had to step in with compulsory attendance laws and government schools. All of this was said to be for the benefit and well being of the child. Yet before “public” schools which are compulsory tax-supported government indoctrination camps the U.S. had existed for over two centuries and had achieved great success and material wealth. As late as 1900 the U.S. had at most 10 percent of its children enrolled in a government high school with only 6 percent graduating, and yet the U.S. in 1900 was a major power in the world. The evidence is that the state does not need to be involved in education in order for the people to properly educate their young.

“A broad range of evidence from Victorian England and Wales and nineteenth century America shows that near-universal schooling was achieved before the state intervened in education.  The evidence suggests that the impact was to curb what was already flourishing―so much so that the picture of education in this and previous centuries seems far bleaker than it would have been had the private alternative not been suppressed and supplanted.” — James Tooley, education researcher

In today’s America we find that way too much of the population is illiterate and that critical thinking skills are rare indeed even though compulsory free government schooling is near universal. Test scores have been dropping for generations and all research into the knowledge of the average 18 year old reveals that they are not well educated at all. It is important to remember that “schooling” is not the same as “education” or “learning”.

Government schooling came to us for political reasons and remains a political institution. Murray Rothbard explains:

The Reformers advocated compulsory education for all as a means of inculcating the entire population with their particular religious views, as an indispensable aid in effective ‘war with the devil’ and the devil’s agents. For Luther, these agents constituted a numerous legion: not only Jews, Catholics, and infidels, but also all other Protestant sects. Luther’s political ideal was an absolute State guided by Lutheran principles and ministers. The fundamental principle was that the Bible, as interpreted by Luther, was the sole guide in all things. He argued that the Mosaic code awarded to false prophets the death penalty, and that it is the duty of the State to carry out the will of God. The State’s duty is to force those whom the Lutheran Church excommunicates to be converted back into the fold. There is no salvation outside the Lutheran Church, and it is not only the duty of the State to compel all to be Lutherans, but its sole object. Such was the goal of the initial force behind the first compulsory school system in the Western world, and such was the spirit that was to animate the system.”

I was taught that the American model of government education was based on the German Prussian model. If that were not bad enough, we also see that compulsory government education in America came in through religious machinations.

The reformers launched a campaign known as the common school movement from about 1830—1860.  Its leaders were mainly aligned with the Whig Party and with organized Protestant religions.  Neither Catholics nor Jacksonian Democrats liked the centralization aspects of this movement. . . . The common school movement shared the rhetoric and fervor of evangelical Protestantism; many of its leaders were ordained Protestant ministers who saw themselves as men with a mission.” — Scholar Diane Ravitch

A large part of the compulsory public schools movement was anti Roman Catholic in nature. Many believed that the Roman Catholics were a threat to American liberty so the education reformers were eager to prevent Catholic schools so that the Catholic young could be indoctrinated by the Protestant controlled government schools. The reformers demanded that no public funds flow to the Catholics to fund their schools. The states began to subsidize Protestant schools with tax dollars while denying Catholic schools funding. But they still charged Catholic people taxes for some reason.

It was the desire of the Anglo-Saxon majority to tame, channel, and restructure the immigrants, and in particular to smash the parochial school system of the Catholics, that formed the major impetus for educational ‘reform.’ ~ Murray N. Rothbard

Government schools were not established out of any dire need or humanitarian impulse to help the children, but out of the idea that the state should be used to indoctrinate the young to the ideas that those in power wanted to impose by coercion upon them. There was a variety of crass religious, political and economic motives but these motives pale in comparison to the root motivation which is to impose, by force, the ruler’s will upon the citizens. Contrary to today’s popular myths, society was filling the need for education remarkably well before the state took control of the children’s education.

The thing to remember is that government schools operate on relations between people that are coercive and involuntary. The full force of the state and its coersive laws force those without power to obey its dictates. Both children and parents have little choice but to obey their masters. In contrast, the private schools operate on a voluntary, contractual basis between the school and the family. If the mother decides that the private school is doing something that she can not live with then she may take her children elsewhere. In other words, education can be shopped for just as all other goods and services if government coercion is eliminated.

The people of the U.S. will never be free again as long as the state owns their children. And that, my friends, is the nature of the state’s assertion of total control over the schooling of the young. We must fight government control of education on all fronts.

The NEA and hypocrisy

I made a tweet about a story concerning the NEA coming out against background checks that was reported on FOX News and wrote in the tweet, “A new bill would prevent sex offenders from working in schools and the public school Teachers Unions oppose it” and included a link to the following story from FOX news:

The House of Representatives just passed a bill aimed at keeping convicted sex offenders and violent felons from working in schools. As it heads to the Senate with bipartisan support, the teachers unions are now objecting.

Megyn Kelly asked on her show tonight, “What is the real endgame by the unions? Because you can’t imagine that the unions want convicted rapists to be working next to their children in these schools. So what is the motivation?”

Kyle Olson, from the Education Action Group Foundation, said the unions are out to protect adults, the members who pay their dues, and not the interests of the children. “We should have a higher ethical standard for teachers and school employees.”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) also opposes the bill because he says the language would ignore the ability of people to overcome their criminal backgrounds by imposing lifetime bans.

Olson said, “We’re not saying these people shouldn’t be able to have a job. […] But they shouldn’t be in a school, they shouldn’t have direct access to children.”

“Who wants a convicted sex offender working next to their children?!” Megyn Kelly reacted. “There are certain rights you give up if you rape somebody and get convicted.”

This story and my tweet led to long back-and-forth between me and a fellow on twitter (who I thought was a “popehatter” at the time but is not —  thanks to @clarkhat for pointing that out). The fellow just could not understand why I think that the NEA is guilty yet again of rank hypocrisy in their stance against this bill. He referenced the following NEA statement that came from the government relations office of the NEA:

October 21, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association and the students they serve, we would like to offer the following views on H.R. 2083 to require criminal background checks for school employees, which will be voted on tomorrow.

A safe and secure learning environment is a critical component of a quality education. Educators firmly believe that students need a safe and non-threatening environment to be able to learn to their full potential. Time and again educators have done everything in their power to ensure the health and safety of the students entrusted to them, sometimes even giving their lives—shielding students from harm with their own bodies when a tornado hit in Oklahoma, a shooter invaded Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, a gunman hijacked a school bus in rural Alabama, and on countless other occasions.

NEA supports timely pre-employment criminal background checks for all school employees who work with children without supervision. NEA also supports the sharing of the results of such checks while protecting employees’ due process and privacy rights.

However, the debate around this issue on the Hill seems to be playing out without considering that criminal background checks often have a huge, racially disparate impact. In addition, we are concerned that H.R. 2083, while well intentioned, may run counter to existing state laws requiring background checks.

Educators are everyday heroes: teaching, protecting, purchasing school supplies with their own money, filling backpacks with food for needy children on weekends, and performing countless other acts of ordinary exceptionalism. We look forward to working with Congress to attain the goal we all share: ensuring safe schools for all of our nation’s children so they have the opportunity to focus on learning.


Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations

The statement tells us that “teachers are heroes”, spend their own money sometimes, and want the children to be “safe” and not “threatened”. All that is well and good but they are opposing a federal law on background checks to keep predators out of the schools. Why? Why should the Teachers Union demand that school employees be free from the sort of background checks that many of us “mundanes” have to undergo?

Well, they did say that they do sometimes support “timely pre-employment”  background checks but not a federal bill that would make the checks on-going apparently. They seem to be opposed to this federal bill that would unify the requirements across the nation and perhaps require the employees to undergo periodic background checks like the ones that occur in the nation’s largest private school system. The Catholic schools, at least in Florida, require fingerprinting and FBI checks every five years for all its employees and even its volunteers. Even parents may not help with the school in any way until they are finger printed and checked out. But the public school teacher’s union says that this sort of thing could lead to a “racially disparate impact”. Say what? We should have a few felons working with the kids so that there is no “racially disparate impact”?  Jesus, Joseph, and Mary that is ridiculous. So how many convicted felons and sexual predators does the union think it has in its ranks anyway?

I was also told by “@firehat” that “as a libertarian” I should be against this sort of federal intervention into the state’s business. That is funny considering the NEA has been for federal intervention on uncountable occasions and now I hear that since federal intervention might be bad for the Union Members they want to go all libertarian on us? Oh really? Now that the members are looking at what they see as onerous federal involvement they complain do they? This is utter hypocrisy. There should be no government schools at all and hence no government employees indoctrinating our young, but there are such things today. As long as there is this horrific system in existence we should endeavor to make sure that perverts are not running the classroom.

The federal government and the states force every citizen to go to school and they do their best to make sure the parents have little option other than the “free” government indoctrination camps called “public schools”. When millions of mother are forced to send their children to the state, then the “intervention” has already occurred. The law that would seek to prevent the Union Members from being convinced rapists, sexual predators, thieves, murderers or the like is not too heavy a burden to bear for the poor NEA members who never saw a federal program they did not like.

Rothbard on the the State’s long war with parents:

The issue which has been joined in the past and in the present is: shall there be a free society with parental control, or a despotism with State control? We shall see the logical development of the idea of State encroachment and control. America, for example, began, for the most part, with a system of either completely private or with philanthropic schools. Then, in the nineteenth century, the concept of public education changed subtly, until everybody was urged to go to the public school, and private schools were accused of being divisive. Finally, the State imposed compulsory education on the people, either forcing children to go to public schools or else setting up arbitrary standards for private schools. Parental instruction was frowned on. Thus, the State has been warring with parents for control over their children. ~ Murray Rothbard

The teacher’s union has long been on board in this war against the family and their rights. Now they have the the audacity to claim that some of their own might get hurt? Kama you bastards, Karma.


Do you like forced monopolies?

I can remember the days when one company had a monopoly in the United States to provide phone service to the nation. “Throughout most of the 20th century, AT&T held a monopoly on phone service in the United States through a network of companies called the Bell System. At this time, the company was nicknamed Ma Bell.” (Wikipedia)

Those of us who lived through those days recall the “party lines” and exorbitant fees to talk to someone “long distance”. The phones themselves remained the same for decades on end and service was everything a libertarian claims about the lack of service, price competition, and innovation inherent in monopolies. Thank the gods AT&T did not have an army back then!


It is a violation of moral principles to give one individual or group the exclusive right to operate the commercial phone network as in doing so there must be force or threat of force employed against all the others who would like to compete in that area. Special privilege is so obviously unfair that even Kindergarten children know that one child should not be getting all the goodies from teacher in class. Every child in middle school knows that one student getting an answer sheet to use on the test from teacher while no one else has this advantage is morally wrong. Heck, even picking one child to “sharpen the pencils” all the time leads to questions of “what is so special about her”?

Look at it this way. What’s wrong with a monopoly on the manufacture and sales of automobiles? Suppose that my gang of ne’er-do-wells are the only ones that are legally allowed to manufacture and sell cars. It is obvious we are going to be rich no matter how bad we are at making cars. From a purely moral point of view, the question is: why us? What’s so special about my gang? We and no one else have the full force of the raw power of the government making everyone bow down to us and let only us make and sell cars. If you can’t see the evil in that arrangement you should probably not be reading this blog!

But aside from the moral aspect of monopolies, there is the pragmatic, consequentialist standpoint as well given that I have a monopoly granted to me by the raw force and brutality of government. The incentives inherent in the situation are completely in opposition to the welfare of everyone but the specially privileged monopoly holder — me and my gang of fat-cats. There is every incentive to make the product or provide the service as cheaply as possible while charging you as much as I chose to charge. There is no competition to force me to be competitive and so I will not take any real risks in innovating my product; after all, no one else can make and sell a better product since only I can sell it by law. Because I’ve got no competition, you have nowhere else to go for my product — say cars. You also probably shouldn’t expect the cars I make and sell to be of particularly high quality, but you’ll buy them rather than walk. The government monopoly in the old USSR made some of the worse cars in the history of car manufacturing for example. In addition to the likelihood that the my cars are going to be expensive and not very good, there’s also the fact that I have power over others since I can sell or not sell to an individual based on my biases. I might decide to never sell cars to Roman Catholics for example. To hell with them, I am still making tons of money guaranteed by my monopoly. Abuse of power seems to be a great temptation inherent in monopolies.

But even worse than the above, if I am the only one making and selling cars, how will I ever know if I am making the best cars that can be made even if I were to want to do the best job possible for humanity? There is no competition so there is no experimentation in the market. There is no real price competition and choice for the consumer — they can’t vote with their purchases on who is making better cars. Hence, progress suffers just like it did for decades in the telephone business under the AT&T monopoly.

So if you can agree with me that a forced monopoly is bad juju, why would you want a forced monopoly called the state?  Why have a monopoly in the provision of services of adjudicating disputes, and protecting rights, and making laws? We have the moral case against that we learned in Kindergarten: why them? But we have the pragmatic case that the incentives will lead to abuse of power, lack of progress, high costs, low quality, and so forth.

With a forced monopoly like government, we get war after war. Smoke a weed an go to jail for years: come out to a ruined life. We get stupid laws that seek to control every aspect of our lives down to what color we can paint our house. Want to fly to France? Beg permission. The non-productive sector given to us by government is sucking the vitality out of the economy and keeping millions unemployed or underemployed.

I have known “small government conservatives” that claim we need government. Why do we need any government? What does the government do other than enslave us?

We Can’t Change the Political System Through Politics

There was a lot of enthusiasm in 2012 by people who hoped that Ron Paul could win the GOP nomination so that he would be able to debate the sitting president Obama. His campaign gained the liberty movement millions of new members — mostly young people who can see that the USA is on the road to a dystopian police state. The Ron Paul campaign was about educating people in my view and was never about wining the White House and then trying to use that office to change America back into the minimal state society that was envisioned in 1776.

I am convinced that trying to dismantle the political system by using the political system is futile. It is a fool’s errand. We all have to acknowledge that Ron Paul used the political process and by using it he changed the world-view of millions of people. He helped many discover the true nature of the state. The Ron Paul campaign was a once in a generation thing. He spent a lifetime as “Dr. No” in congress to prepare for the run — and he wanted to educate rather than win. We will not see that again in our lifetimes.

It is now time for everyone in the liberty movement, no matter one’s station in life, to help spread the word on the dehumanizing, oppressive, violent, and destructive nature of the corporate-state. It is time for us to understand that peace, liberty, prosperity, private property, and respect for the non-aggression principle is our message and our strategy. Libertarians must demonstrate, by reasoning and by historical evidence, that humans are capable of organizing and creating in spontaneous ways the technology and the social systems needed to increase our happiness and our liberty. All the state does is get in the way of this process of society working its magic. The state restrains the inventive to protect those who have access to state power and it shifts costs of goods and services for the parasites onto the backs of the productive.


I believe that trying to reform the political system, running for political office, supporting a political party, or other use of politics is counter-productive. Ron Paul was an exceptional case and I don’t believe he was trying to change the political system directly but rather was trying to change the minds of the people so that they could find a way to change the system. We need to continue his fight to change people’s minds just as he himself is doing in many ways now that he is no longer in office.

As people seek tactics and strategies for advancing libertarian principles, bear in mind the comparative advantage that our ideas have in real world. The statist programs are grounded in socialistic thought and central planning. World wide the support for central planning among intellectuals has greatly declined due to empirical evidence of the failure of planning. Just as Mises said it would, societies built on central planning just don’t work. Even the progressives’ ideas for an overwhelming regulatory system is now seen to be just a mechanism for industry to achieve their long desired cartels. The government regulations exist to serve the very people that the progressives thought they were controlling! We must pound home the idea to the people that there needs to be a separation of economy and state.

We must all do our homework in this fight for liberty. It is a fight of ideas, and ideas require knowledge.  No matter how knowledgeable think you are, you need to be a lifelong learner. Don’t let your schooling get in the way of your education! Especially read economics from the Austrian School as that is the school of thought that supports freedom, liberty, and individual rights. And also read history as the history of mankind is a testimony to the failure of the state to improve our lives: it is a testimony of the state enslaving mankind. It is important to read all the other fields as time allows: psychology, philosophy, physics, biology, chemistry, geology and so on. There are so many on-line resources these days that remaining ignorant of what is going on in the world of ideas requires one to work hard to avoid the information!

Often we work to convince one person at a time. We just counter old myths and canards with factual observations and let the person come to realize that the state is not their friend. That is the first step; the person must realize that the state is the enemy. Then we can teach them the whole of it.

We will beat the state. When? I don’t know when, but I know we need to prepare the people for what comes next before the collapse of the state. (and the collapse of the USA looks to be coming sooner rather than later) If we don’t prepare people now, then the coming “revolution” may yield an even worse result than we have now if that is possible. We need to convince people that no state is our friend. Only freedom and liberty allows peace, progress, and the pursuit of happiness.

Join the fight now. Do what you can to support liberty and freedom.