How to advance the cause of liberty

“Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.”
― Bob Marley

We are coming up on another election cycle. This one will be the first one in a while that does not have Ron Paul somehow involved in a race someplace. Ron Paul had an ideology and message the last time he ran for the nomination for president that many young people found very attractive. Ron Paul seemed to tap into some sort of energy source when he ran, but he is now out of the running and I don’t see anyone on the horizon that comes close to supporting the ideas of the Classical Liberals as Dr. Paul did.

As I write this, millions of people throughout the world are in opposition to the dehumanizing, oppressive, violent, and destructive essence of the governmental systems we see around the world. The fascist corporate-state systems that are exploiting human beings for ends that serve the overlords are causing an awakening among the downtrodden — especially the young. Peace and liberty is the natural state of affairs that mankind aspires to. Private property ownership and respect for the inviolability of the individual are qualities that people around the world are coming to demand out of their existence.

Those of us who are drawn to the ideas of libertarianism or anarchism are in agreement that we don’t know exactly how things would work in a free world. We have some ideas and can make some educated guesses, but free men and women will remake the world in ways that I can hardly image. When someone asks “who will build the roads” I always like to answer that I don’t know exactly but at least the State will not be killing you or other innocent people and that seems far more important to me.

As we move forward from this point in time, we have an opportunity to show others that the state does not work for the masses but rather against the masses. The news reports from all over the world show us governments brutalizing, impoverishing and enslaving their own populations. At the same time, we see alternative schools, private roads, private security firms, and other examples of the market providing non-state solutions that are far better than the coersive brutality of the state.

I think that the best way to promote liberty is by your own personal behavior. Be the free man your philosophy calls for and let that encourage others to live the libertarian philosophy. Now I realize that the state keeps us enslaved, but I am referring to living as close to the non-aggression principle as current conditions allow. Always look to individuals for solutions and not the state. Don’t think that we will ever be able to free mankind from politics by using politics — you just can’t use evil means to accomplish good ends.

There are all kinds of approaches people might take to further liberty.  We can use peaceful demonstrations against the brutality of the state. We could run for public office like Ron Paul did and use that campaign as a platform to spread the ideas of peace and liberty. Some will try writing op-eds or blog posts. Others might write books. Whatever people try, we should support those efforts that are consistent with furthering the cause of liberty. I feel that as long as efforts are consistent with the N.A.P. then we should be supportive rather than critical. I am of the view that running for political office is counter-productive but I did applaud Ron Paul in his runs for president due to the message he was spreading via his campaign. He succeeded in raising the conscious awareness of millions of people so that they began to see the state for the vicious racket that it is and that was well worth the whole effort. But even so, I warn those who think electoral politics can aid us to not be fooled by the many candidates that will talk “libertarian” to get your vote. Ronald Reagan talked “get the government off your back” a lot, but in the end he built up the power and brutality of the government with every move he made.

As we think about advancing libertarian principles, let us remember that the statists are easy targets since the statists must defend the horrific track record of the states around the world. We have generations of evidence that statist programs grounded in socialistic central planning lead to poverty, brutality, misery, and are utter failures from the perspective of the common man. Even regulatory systems can now be understood to be nothing more than a cover for industry-desired cartelism and corporate welfare. The failure of keeping the state from controlling the economy has led to bankruptcy of entire civilizations. The state is the civilization killer while the free individual working with others in mutual, voluntary cooperation is the civilization builder.

The state leads to a deeper bankruptcy than just in material terms. The state leads to moral bankruptcy as well. Those who use the power of the state to aggress against innocent people are damned by their actions and can not possibly be moral human beings. All the minions of the state are party to the wars, brutal police-state practices, torture, spying, and all the rest. The state is an institutional order that has no moral foundations at all — it is built upon raw aggression. The state will always treat its human subjects as mere assets to be exploited on behalf of the purposes of the state itself.

We must do what we can do to further liberty and freedom, and we must encourage others who are doing likewise. As another election cycle approaches remember that voting for “a good candidate” is not the answer. The problem of politics will not be cured via politics.

mfm-pic-no-politics-say-no-to-politics

American mercantilism?

We often hear the ignorant refer to the present American economic system as free market capitalism or mostly just “capitalism” where they mean free markets, and yet the American system has been heavily controlled, regulated, and interfered with by government for over a century with no free markets to be seen anywhere. Some say that the political control of the economy started from the very beginning of the Republic and the citizen’s right to do as he pleases as long as he harms no one else was violated with increasing frequency as time went by.

It matters little if you call the American system fascism, corporatism, crony-capitalism, “the third way”, a mixed economy, socialism, or even the more archaic term “mercantilism”. There is a spectrum that runs from laissez-faire free-markets (with no government intervention at all) to the fully government controlled economies of a North Korea or the old USSR. History and the Austrian School of Economics have shown over and over that any government intervention always makes the situation worse and normally makes it much worse for the poorest people. After all, as Groucho Marx observed “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”

Murray N. Rothbard wrote about mercantilism in Conceived in Liberty (1975), volume 1, chapter 32: “Mercantilism, Merchants, and Class Conflict.” He observed:

The economic policy dominant in the Europe of the 17th and 18th centuries, and christened “mercantilism” by later writers, at bottom assumed that detailed intervention in economic affairs was a proper function of government. Government was to control, regulate, subsidize, and penalize commerce and production. What the content of these regulations should be depended on what groups managed to control the state apparatus. Such control is particularly rewarding when much is at stake, and a great deal is at stake when government is “strong” and interventionist. In contrast, when government powers are minimal, the question of who runs the state becomes relatively trivial. But when government is strong and the power struggle keen, groups in control of the state can and do constantly shift, coalesce, or fall out over the spoils. While the ouster of one tyrannical ruling group might mean the virtual end of tyranny, it often means simply its replacement by another ruling group employing other forms of despotism.

In the 17th century the regulating groups were, broadly, feudal landlords and privileged merchants, with a royal bureaucracy pursuing as a superfeudal overlord the interest of the Crown. An established church meant royal appointment and control of the churches as well. The peasantry and the urban laborers and artisans were never able to control the state apparatus, and were therefore at the bottom of the state-organized pyramid and exploited by the ruling groups. Other religious groups were, of course, separated from or opposed to the ruling state. And religious groups in control of the state, or sharing in that control, might well pursue not only strictly economic “interest” but also ideological or spiritual ones, as in the case of the Puritans’ imposing a compulsory code of behavior on all of society.

murray-rothbard-enemy-state

If those people who say that the USA has a system of modern fascism are correct then “fascism” does not differ all that much from the above described mercantilism. I suppose that is to be expected since the father of fascism, Benito Mussolini, modeled his system along the lines of strict government control just as the mercantilists of Britain did years before him.

It is obvious that the state controls the economic activities of all entities with laws, regulations, and the like, but what is not so obvious is that the modern US government even controls the entry of individuals into various occupations and professions. Not only can you not become a Doctor without the state’s permission, you may not even cut someone’s hair without the proper licenser. Try to become a cab driver without the approval of the state and see what happens to you. Like under “mercantilism”, the present government seeks to control, regulate, subsidize, and penalize commerce and production in all areas of American life. What has changed? The regulating groups have changed. The church is no longer part of the mix and the special interest groups seeking political power and handouts are different; but nothing has changed in reality.

As long as we allow the federal government to control the economic activities of the people then we can expect lower standards of living than we would have otherwise, especially for the poor. With modern mercantiliism can not expect liberty or freedom but rather we can expect dependency, slavery, and serfdom. We will be endlessly subjected to arbitrary and punitive rules and regulations. The state and all its minions seek to dominate you in all areas of your life and it finds dominating you in your economic activities is the easiest way to enslave you.

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself and to discover the true nature of government. Think of men like Edward Snowden who found out what the government’s NSA was doing and told the world about what he found. He told the world without any regard to the prevailing superstition that there were terrorists under every bed. If we ignore the propaganda, superstitions, taboos and utter heifer dust that we were taught in the government schools, we would discover that we must come to the conclusion that the government we live under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable. Like H. L. Mencken, I believe that all government is evil and that trying to improve it is mostly a waste of time and is often counter productive.

The only way to maximize prosperity and peace is to stop practicing the American mercantilist system and to move to laissez-faire free markets, and the only way to have no government intervention in the market is to have no government at all. The Irish did that for perhaps 9,000 years.

Like many people this time of year, I wish for peace among men throughout the world. I know that the only way to have peace, prosperity, freedom, and happiness is for mankind to throw off the evil of the state that enslaves us. In the coming year we should all endeavor in anyway that we can to end the state and live in a voluntary world. We must teach people to withdraw their consent to be governed just at the people did in the old USSR. The good of all mankind does not depend on you recycling your trash, conserving gasoline, or having the grocery store put your purchase in re-usable bags. The good of mankind depends on you helping to overthrow the great evil that is the state. Do your part whenever you can.

Do you believe in the debunked labor theory of value?

I sent out a tweet the other day that said:

Many hate those with wealth; but when did a poor person ever build a factory or a store and create jobs?

Some deluded leftist on twitter who actually calls himself “Unlearn Economics” (@UnlearningEcon) took exception with that obvious truth and told me in so many words that the poor build everything and create all wealth. I suppose the fool wants us to “unlearn economics” because basic economics teaches us that it takes accumulated wealth to have investment capital to build new production capacity. This is the typical envy of the left rearing its ugly head yet again — no wonder envy is listed as one of the seven deadly sins. The modern American left hates anyone, other than themselves of course, who become wealthy.

The delusion that this poor envious fellow is laboring under is his mistaken belief in the discredited “labor theory of value”. Classical econom­ics from the 1770′s until the margin­alist-subjective schools arose in the 1870′s were confused by the problem of value. Economists believed that there was a relationship between how much human labor went into making a thing and how much that thing was “worth” or how much it was “valued.” Their theories were that the laborers on the job “produced the value” all by themselves or in other words that labor alone was the creator of wealth.  Reality told us that these economists were wrong since the price of a thing does not depend upon how much you spent to produce it or how “hard you worked”. Some things that have taken much human labor to produce can only be sold at a fraction of the cost in labor that it took to produce it, and sometimes it can not be sold at any price at all. Back then there was the observation that an uncut diamond would bring a higher price on the market than an in­tricate mechanism like a clock and that told many observers that the labor value theory was clearly wrong.

Of course, in my tweet I talked about building a factory or store and creating jobs. The deluded left seems to think that all that is necessary is for a crowd of men to walk to an empty field, build a factory equipped with machinery, and start producing computers or cars! The lunacy of the wealth hating left is beyond comprehension. Who paid for the land? Who paid for the tools to work with? Surely you don’t expect men to start with only their bare hands and build a modern factory.

What about a retail store? That would be simpler to build I guess, but who pays for the land to build it on? If you could manufacture building materials by hand you would still be left with the fact you only have an empty store and one in a non-prime location since you had no money to buy prime real estate.

In 1871, Austrian economist Carl Menger’s book appeared, Principles of Economics. The Mises Institute makes it available for free here. Menger took issue with the classical economists, including Karl Marx, who had argued that the value of any asset is derived from the value of the labor that was used to create it. Not so, said Menger. Economic value today derives from forecasters’ expectation of future demand by consumers.

Of course, this expectation may be wrong. Future consumers may decide not to buy the item or service. In this case, the asset’s value will be close to zero. The producer will suffer a big loss. The fact remains that the labor invested in the production of the item is a sunk cost. It’s gone forever. Its value is gone forever. Think “dry hole so far”

In short, economic value is not intrinsic and objective. It is imputed and subjective. This insight launched Austrian economics. ~ Dr. Gary North

I have members of my extended family that came originally from a very poor fishing village in the Philippines. Until a few years ago the village did not even have electricity. The idiots who hate wealth accumulation must think that the only thing stopping these villagers from building a modern car factory is pure laziness since no accumulated wealth is required according to them. I do however notice that no group of left-wing Americans have ever rounded up a crowd of destitute Americans and shown them how to produce a factory and products with only their bare hands so that they could make themselves better off — and why they have not is obvious to all people other than the American Left itself.

American leftists are all some flavor of communist to this day. Since the fall of the USSR and given the sad example of poverty in North Korea or Cuba few modern leftists will claim to be communists anymore. In fact many will even claim to be libertarians! But when push comes to shove they want to loot the rich: they preach theft and violence.

As a side note, it is often the free market, one without any force, intimidation, or fraud (no government intervention in other words) that the leftist really hate. They hate the idea that a free market will produce great wealth as it did in the West during the industrial revolution, but that some will become much more wealthy that others. Modern leftists would rather see an impoverished world where all are equally miserable — well, other than a tiny group of ruling wise ones. By coincidence the ‘ruling wise ones’ that the leftists envision just happen to be themselves!

Murray Rothbard once described the free market thusly:

The Free market is a summary term for an array of exchanges that take place in society. Each exchange is undertaken as a voluntary agreement between two people or between groups of people represented by agents. These two individuals (or agents) exchange two economic goods, either tangible commodities or nontangible services. Thus, when I buy a newspaper from a news dealer for fifty cents, the news dealer and I exchange two commodities: I give up fifty cents, and the news dealer gives up the newspaper. Or if I work for a corporation, I exchange my labor services, in a mutually agreed way, for a monetary salary; here the corporation is represented by a manager (an agent) with the authority to hire.

Both parties undertake the exchange because each expects to gain from it. Also, each will repeat the exchange next time (or refuse to) because his expectation has proved correct (or incorrect) in the recent past. Trade, or exchange, is engaged in precisely because both parties benefit; if they did not expect to gain, they would not agree to the exchange.

Modern liberals (or progressives) just hate the idea of free and voluntary exchange as they believe that the unwashed masses need their protection and of course they intend to “protect you” via government intervention.

As a disclaimer, I would like to note that in the US today we do not have a laissez-faire free market but rather have massive government intervention and a crony-capitalist (economically fascist) system. There are many, many people who became wealthy by using the force, fraud, and intimidation of the state rather than by serving their fellow man in a voluntary free market. These evil bastards don’t deserve their ill-gotten gains, but that does not mean that that a market freed from state intervention is evil like the deluded leftists preach.

voluntary-society

Make-Work Programs and the MIC

The military industrial complex in general, and Lockheed Martin in particular, now have a replacement vehicle for the famous Hummer. It is called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and is billed as a breakthrough in fighting in those insurgencies in other countries that the U.S. seems to always be involved in. The Empire will be bringing this vehicle to the latest invasions, brutal occupations and other attacks on innocent women and children throughout the world.

light-vehicle

This “light” vehicle weighs seven tons and costs nearly a half million dollars a copy. It is advertised to have better bomb blast protection than the Hummer it replaces and should allow the evil Empire to chase its prey with even less worries about getting its mercenaries and soldiers killed or maimed. They will build this monstrosity by the thousands and Lockheed Martin and all its subcontractors will make billions in profits. And don’t forget the jobs. Thousands upon thousands of jobs for the civilians who help Uncle Sam kill brown people worldwide. As a side benefit, the Department of Defense (the war department) will have far more of the Hummers to donate to local police forces nationwide to use against the people as this new vehicle makes the Hummer obsolete. Yes, the people paying for all this will be the target of the program also. Karma, my friend, Karma.

Jobs. As most of my readers know, the military-industrial complex sells these multi-billion dollar weapons systems as jobs programs. They put subcontracting parts of these programs in as many states as they can to guarantee support by the congress representatives of these districts and states.

If the central government was not staffed almost one hundred percent by economic illiterates they would understand that this massive intervention into the market does not make jobs but rather it destroys jobs. But even the Keynesian fools in the central government should realize that if make-work jobs is what you want then there are much easier ways to provide these “jobs”. If nothing else the central government could issue everyone a shovel and pay them to dig holes and then fill them back in. Think of the many new shovel factories that would be built! And all those high paid shovel-soldiers working night and day to meet the five year plan.

The central government has long been enamored of the Keynesian gospel that only a strong government with high deficit spending could keep a market economy running. But why do these idiots have to spend their stolen loot (tax money) on war machines? Hell, lets make children’s toys instead; at least that would produce something useful and not kill anyone in the process.

The real answer to our economic woes is to remove all anti-competitive laws, regulations, taxes, and fees from the marketplace. A real free-market, not the fascist facsimile that we have now, would bring prosperity and harmony to the society. Prosperity? Yes, it was the classically liberal laissez-fair free markets that built the wealth of the west in the first place. It worked even though there was never a totally free market. It is time to let the people and their ingenuity re-build the society and stop killing people as a jobs program.

Because mankind’s wants can never be satisfied, there is always work to be done. We live in a universe of wants and needs always exceeding what is available to satisfy those wants and needs. Not only is there always work to be done, there is always productive work to be done. We don’t need “make-work” jobs programs. There should be no mass unemployment nor should there be “jobs programs”. Indeed, there should always be a shortage of available human labor.

Then why is mass unemployment such a problem? If there is always work to be done then why do we see high unemployment rates decade after decade? It is because the central government intervenes in the market at every point. We have child labor laws preventing teenagers the right to work. We have minimum wage laws that prevent the least qualified from finding any work that they can do. We have laws, rules, regulations, fees, barriers to entry, and all manner of other anti-jobs legislation to keep the economy from preforming its function freely. We have, as anyone can see, a centrally planned economy. And like the U.S.S.R. we have a poorly preforming economy that leaves millions and millions of men and women without the hope of a decent job.

It is time to try a real jobs program. Dismantle the central government piece by piece and watch the economy take off.

A turning point: War Collectivism

Any well-read individual would have to agree that the early U.S. was basically a Classically Liberal state with a nearly laissez-faire outlook on the market. Please note the qualifiers in that sentence, I am well aware that the founders were not perfect and that the early U.S. system was certainly not perfect either. It was, however, practically a heaven compared to today’s U.S. Empire if you desire a laissez-faire market approach.

Capture

So when did the U.S. go wrong? There are so many points in history where the people allowed the state to grab more power that picking one is almost a fool’s errand. But there is one point in history that seems to be the birthing point of the corporatist system that we have now. I mean “corporatist” just as Benito Mussolini mean it — as a synonym for fascism. When did the U.S. make a great leap towards the fascist system that we have now?

Rothbard:

More than any other single period, World War I was the critical watershed for the American business system. It was a “war collectivism,” a totally planned economy run largely by big-business interests through the instrumentality of the central government, which served as the model, the precedent, and the inspiration for state corporate capitalism for the remainder of the twentieth century.

The large business interests who were at the “top of the heap” naturally wanted to stay there, but there are always many who want to out-compete and take their place. Large industry and business leaders found that the cartels that the government enforced by legislation and regulation during World War 1 practically insured their place in their respective industries and that was a certainly a desirable thing to them. It is often an eye-opener for most people to discover that large business enjoys its symbiotic relationship with government in spite of its public denunciations of various regulations.

Throughout the western world the war showed the big business leaders that it was possible to move to a system that offered stability (for them), subsidies, privileges, control, and power. Extensive governmental intervention and planning became the means by which the wealthy would stay wealthy and reap even more profits as governments guaranteed their place in the hierarchy. War collectivism offered the advantages of monopoly, government contracts for the favored, guaranteed profits, restricted production for higher prices, and all the rest of the classical pattern of monopoly privilege. Even labor costs could be more controlled as the state would back the producer against the union in the interest of “the war effort”. Intelligent union leaders joined in and became partners in the fixed game which was, in many ways, a reversion to a form of  mercantilism.

In America the new mercantilism was more industrial and manufacturing based than the old form since the industrial revolution had come about since the days of the old mercantilism, and just as importantly, the new system had to appear to be more “democratic” and less class-based in America in contrast to the old English system. There was need to provide the appearance of promoting the overall good of the country and all her people rather than just the wealthy elite and their business interests. And so American “liberalism” was pressed into service to provide the ideology and cover. The so-called liberals proclaimed that the new system was not mercantilism at all but rather it was radically different than the old exploitative system and that its aim was for the betterment of all the people. This was seen to be democracy in action. It was claimed that the government would protect everyone from the business leaders and control those evil rich men — in spite of the fact that the business elites were the senior partners in this whole enterprise.

The new “liberals” gained prestige, income and power as many became the government planners who were needed to plan out the vast details and regulations of the new collectivist system. The liberal intellectuals helped  develop this new system of government intervention that they saw as superior to the two major alternatives available to them: laissez-faire capitalism or Marxian socialism. These “liberal” or progressive intellectuals saw this new order as the path to the future where government planning (done by themselves of course) would bring a heaven on earth — or as close to it as man can come. The state became their religion.

In various western countries the new system of collectivism was called by different names, but the system was similar at its heart. Benito Mussolini called the system “fascism” while some in England called it “the third way”. Americans never gave the system a name other than call it “progressivism” or “liberalism”. Regardless of the name or the various differences due to local culture, the system was war-collectivism. And so, it should not have surprised anyone that another war would be needed to bolster this war collective system, and soon enough along came World War 2 with all its destruction. Following the hot war of WW2 came the “cold war” and all the small proxy conflicts around the world. In fact, the U.S. Empire has been at war almost continually since adopting war collectivism in the 1920s.

America’s participation in World War One was a disaster for the limited government, laissez-faire system the country had enjoyed, and it was a disaster for her people. The evil legacy of Woodrow Wilson, the country’s first “progressive president”, who lied the country into war lives on to this day. Much evil is born during wars, and the side that looks to be the “victor” never escapes without its own woes. Wilson and WW1 brought America the final end of its Classical Liberal period.