THE HUMBLE LIBERTARIAN

mind your business

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Reminder To Tea Bag The Fools In Washington DC On April 1st

Photo by W. E. Messamore © 2009 All Rights Reserved

This is a reminder to send in your tea bags to the fiscal fools in Washington D.C. on April 1st.

I'm mailing mine off today so that they get there on April 1st, but anytime between now and the 1st should be fine. I imagine they'll be getting a flood of these over the course of this week and it will send a powerful message! If you don't have the time or stamps to send Washington a physical tea bag (or you just want to overwhelm every line of communication to Washington with a pro-freedom message this April 1st), feel free to send the President, Congress, and the Fed e-mails with the following image attached:

Image by André Karwath (CC) - Edits mine

You can also send a text-only message:

DONT TREAD ON ME
American Tea Party 2009

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Please return America to fiscal
and monetary sanity ASAP!

You can even copy and paste this right into a text form on WhiteHouse.gov's contact page and the same goes for the Federal Reserve's contact page.

You gotta fight! For your rights! TEA PAAAAARTY!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Earth Hour" - Lights Out for Freedom, Flourishing, and the Third World


"Lights out" for freedom and the achievements of industrial civilization.

Yesterday at 8:30 PM local time all around the world, demonstrators dimmed the lights of their houses and establishments for one hour as part of a global demonstration called "Earth Hour" by its originators in Sydney, Australia. Organized by the WWF (The World Wildlife Fund or World Wide Fund for Nature outside the U.S. and Canada), Earth Hour's website says:

This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming.
For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming.

But the chic marketing tag that frames this as an election between Earth and global warming is ultimately vague, meaningless, and disingenuous. It is a preposterous, context-dropping obfuscation of the WWF's real purpose, made all the more absurd because the WWF states its real purpose in the next sentence:

WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.

The WWF is shrewdly counting on its demonstrators and its audience to remain in the dark about the real meaning of this demonstration by shining the spotlight on its vague anti-concept of voting for or against the Earth. Why after all, would anyone vote against the Earth? But the deeper question here is "What would that even mean?" The real alternative- the real issue that people were "voting" on yesterday- is whether or not the international community should sign a treaty requiring signatory governments to severely cap their country's emissions.


The Light of Free Market Capitalism and Industrial Civilization

Supporting an environmental treaty mandating steep reductions of carbon emissions is tantamount to advocating a demolition job of industrial civilization and all of the wonderful things it has brought us. Presently, the overwhelming majority of energy generated globally is produced from the combustion of carbon-emitting fossil fuels. To severely restrict their use with draconian regulations and taxes will mean less energy. Less energy will mean less productivity. Less productivity will mean less value for us all. By value, I mean all the things that lengthen and improve the quality of our lives. The price of energy will skyrocket, hurting businesses, dampening job growth, and inflating the cost of living.

The poorest among us, as always, will be hit the hardest. People with plenty of money to spare may not like the results, but they will be able to absorb the damage and continue to live comfortably. People who already barely make ends meet will be ruined by the rising costs of living brought on by less energy and higher energy costs. Groceries will cost more because of the increased costs of using energy to fertilize, till, plant, reap, store, transport, and distribute food. Heating and air-conditioning which are nearly universally available in first world countries might become luxuries for the wealthy. The symbolism in "Earth Hour" is quite accurate- a world without energy would be a very dark world.

Just look at these two respective maps of 1) the Earth at night as seen from space and 2) GDP intensity- how much economic activity happens within a square kilometer:

Source: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, DOD

Source: the International Regional Science Review, 1999

Let's take a break from the politics for a second and have a moment together. Isn't what you just looked at above really, really cool(!)? Seriously, just stop reading for a minute if you haven't already and contemplate those maps. Light isn't an indication of some hideous crime against the Earth. It's an indication of great achievements for humanity! It isn't a badge of failure, but a stamp of success! Industrial civilization has shined a light on the world, and in all the places where that light is brightest, it is because the people there live the longest, most productive, most literally enlightened lives. Those lights illuminate schools, homes, and office buildings where students, families, and workers spend their time extending and improving their lives and the lives of others by creating and exchanging things of value.


Crushing The Third World's Hopes of Affluence

And how badly the rest of the world wants to step into that kind of light! Developing and former communist countries throughout the third world have a dream. If you visit the busy streets of India or the crowded, extra-legal shanty town districts surrounding the cities of poor Latin American countries, you will be dazzled and electrified by the excitement and bustle in the air. The third world has a dream and that dream is industrialization. A second Industrial Revolution is sweeping through these countries with the promises of affluence that it brought to the West the first time around! A global treaty to limit carbon emissions is a promise to shatter that dream. It is not only the lower classes of wealthy nations that will suffer from the proposed ends of the "Earth Hour" demonstrators, it is also the poor of developing countries who will continue to be left in the dark and legally forced to remain there.

Source: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, DOD

For residents in Sydney, Paris, or New York, "Earth Hour" is a trendy protest, an occasion to socialize by candle light and swell with pride at supporting a "cause." For the residents of Haiti or Uganda, "Earth Hour" is a way of life, a prison, an endless privation that they are trying and hoping desperately to escape. Yesterday's demonstration was a slap in their face, a careless display of privileged, bourgeois ignorance. It was simultaneously, a call to forcibly restrict developing nations' economic growth and an admonition for developed nations to be more like the third world- this at a time when the third world is working so hard to be more like the developed world! How can "civilized" people be so foolish, backward, and regressive as this?


Being The Change We Want To See In The World

What I find interesting, is the sharp contrast between "Earth Hour's" methods and its ends. It's method of demonstration was for people around the world to voluntarily cooperate by modifying their own behavior to conform to their values and beliefs. But the goal of that demonstration was to persuade world governments to forcibly modify their citizens' behavior by law. The juxtaposition is ironic because the solution to their problem was contained within the demonstration itself, yet they all seemed to miss it. If we believe carbon emissions are harming the planet and that we must take action to reduce them, any one of us is welcome and free to reduce his or her own carbon footprint by taking voluntary action and having "Earth Hour" every night, instead of just once a year.

If the debate really is over and there is truly an inarguable scientific consensus that global warming is caused by human carbon emissions, then why is the use of force necessary to persuade the world to act? Shouldn't the force of their arguments be enough for environmentalists to change the world? That is the premise of a free society, which is to say, a civilized society, the premise that we must persuade each other to cooperate together voluntarily to achieve values we consider worthwhile, that we must never aggress against others to achieve our ends, whether by the force of individual coercion or the institutionalized force of legal coercion. This is the humble premise, the premise that says "I am not infallible so I will not forcibly impose my beliefs on the lives of other human beings, because if I am wrong then only I should suffer the consequences of my mistakes, not everyone else who I forcibly dragged along with me." This is the operating premise behind the Mahatma Gandhi's admonition to mankind that we must be the change we want to see in the world.


Concluding Thoughts on "Earth Hour"

"Earth Hour" was a systematic assault on the liberty of the world's people disguised as a peaceful demonstration. It casts the alternative as one between Earth and global warming, but the real alternative it proposes is between forced restriction of carbon emissions and the freedom of all human beings to flourish by using energy to improve the length and quality of their lives. If we choose the former of the two alternatives, we will harm and destroy the productive ability of poor nations and retard their development into shining, affluent societies.

A common theme of propaganda is to define a struggle as one between the light and the darkness. It is curiously revealing that these propagandists openly declare that they are on the side of darkness while their enemies are on the side of light. We should take their claim at face value and eschew the darkness that they themselves claim best exemplifies their cause.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Top 100 Libertarian Blogs, Websites, and Podcasts (2018)

Top 100 Libertarian Blogs, Websites, and Podcasts

If you want to catch any updates about it in your newsfeed subscribe to my email list:



The Top 100 Libertarian
Websites, Blogs, and Podcasts.



1. Bitcoin.org - Libertarians have understood for decades now that the primary source of the government's power, even more than the sheer titanic force of its overwhelming firepower, is its coercive monopolization and manipulation of the money supply. Long have libertarians let loose the chant, "End The Fed! End The Fed!" Here we have a means of direct action that no political force can ever nullify. Free market, private currency. Open source, transparent, decentralized, peer-to-peer, anonymous, cryptographically secure, and deflationary. The end of the imperialist Washington military monetary hegemony is nigh, and libertarians are getting wealthy off of absolutely knee-capping the federal government.

★★★


2. paul.senate.gov - Since getting elected to the United States Senate with a mandate from the people of Kentucky in the midst of the anti-tax, pro-constitution, pro-liberty Tea Party movement in 2010, Rand Paul has been one of Capitol Hill's most principled and tireless advocates for limited government, individual liberty, and rule of law. He's also been working very hard to end the wars and bring America's troops home to a hero's welcome.

★★★


3. WikiLeaks - Who has done more relevant journalism in the 21st Century, or perhaps even in the last hundred years, than WikiLeaks? Holding governments to account, putting into practice a radical transparency ethos when it comes to the world's most elite and powerful– WikiLeaks has put governments on notice: Your secrets aren't safe. You cannot hide malfeasance and nefarious activities in the darkness away from the public eye, carefully shrouded in sanitized network television programming. The Internet is here now, and people are using it to watch you back. Before WikiLeaks, libertarians were paranoid that the government was watching them. Now, because of WikiLeaks, governments are paranoid that libertarians are watching them.

★★★


4. The Cato Institute - Ever the enlightened scholars of Washington public policy analysis, Cato's researchers are responsible for a prolific output of empirical evidence in favor of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. Hard lefties act like Cato is some right wing think tank, but they opposed the Iraq War, supported drug legalization, and were pro gay marriage before Obama was, and they wield both the philosophical rigor and the factual evidence to back it up.

★★★


5. The Libertarian Party (U.S.) - Founded in 1971, the Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States with over 500,000 registered members. Though it's had to fight an uphill battle against election laws written by Democrats and Republicans to rig elections in their own favor, the LP has gained momentum, especially in recent years, receiving over 4 million votes in 2016 for its presidential candidate, New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson–– a 45-year, all-time record, easily quadrupling the second highest vote total ever received by a Libertarian. It is clear that voters are more interested than ever in a party of principle.

★★★


6. Reason Magazine - Libertarianism's news magazine in Washington DC. It was a monthly print magazine "of free minds and free markets" starting in 1970. During the 1970s and 80s, the magazine's contributors included Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, Thomas Szasz and Thomas Sowell. The magazine has a circulation of around 50,000 and was named one of the 50 best magazines in 2003 and 2004 by the Chicago Tribune. The online version was founded by Virginia Postrel in 1995, and updates daily with several articles covering news, politics, and libertarianism.

★★★


7. The American Conservative - Founded by Scott McConnell, Patrick Buchanan, and Taki Theodoracopulos in 2002 in opposition to the Iraq War, the mission of the American conservative is to promote a conservatism that opposes unchecked power in government and business; promote the flourishing of families and communities through vibrant markets and free people; and embrace realism and restraint in foreign affairs based on America's national interests.

★★★


8. The Ludwig von Mises Institute - The Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama promotes teaching and research in the Austrian school of economics, and individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. The Mises Institute was founded in 1982 by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Burton Blumert, and Murray Rothbard. Additional backing for its founding came from Mises's wife, Margit von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, Lawrence Fertig, and Nobel Economics Laureate Friedrich Hayek. The Austrian School of economics espoused by the institute is formidable in its explanatory power regarding the historical boom and bust cycles that have characterized modern, central banking economies.

★★★


9. Jordan B. Peterson - "Why don't you make yourself into an individual and get the hell away from the ideology?" -Jordan Peterson (CBC News Interview 1/28/18) Jordan Peterson is the practicing clinical psychiatrist and philosophy lecturer from Toronto University who became famous worldwide in 2017 for his free speech advocacy in Canada. Whether or not he would claim the term "libertarian" to describe himself, his elevation of the individual above collectivism, and his extraordinary intellectual project to summon the best resources civilization has to better understand the horrors of 20th century totalitarianism and prevent them from happening again, exemplify libertarian ideals to the highest degree, and with utmost sophistication and erudition. His YouTube channel is highly recommended, especially the deep tracks.

★★★


10. AntiWar.com - This site is devoted to the cause of non-interventionism and is read by libertarians, pacifists, leftists, "greens," and independents alike, as well as many on the right who agree with AntiWar.com's opposition to military imperialism. The site was founded in December 1995 to oppose U.S. intervention in the Balkans during the Clinton presidency. Antiwar.com is already fighting the next information war, dedicated to the proposition that war hawks and our leaders are not going to be allowed to get away with it unopposed and unchallenged.

★★★


11. The Last Psychiatrist may or may not call himself a libertarian, but his polymathic grasp of psychology, pop culture, philosophy, media, marketing, and politics leads to some very critical thinking mapped out on the posts of this pseudonymous blog, that is sometimes libertarian in surprising ways you wouldn't have thought of due to the author's far reaching perception. As you read, you get a disconcerting sense of just how many steps ahead of you "the system," "the machine" is thinking. The blog is also a very entertaining read. It is unfortunately defunct. The most recent post was in May of 2014. Would love to know what The Last Psychiatrist is thinking about current events today, but this archive of posts has not lost any relevance with the passage of time.

★★★


12. Seths.blog Seth Godin is an influential author of business and marketing books who founded Yoyodyne, an early Internet marketing Dot Com in 1995, and sold it to Yahoo! for $30 million in 1998, becoming the early search giant's Vice President of Direct Marketing with the acquisition. He would probably be surprised that anyone considers him a libertarian and would most likely eschew the term to describe himself, maybe even feel like I'm libeling him by calling him one. Godin almost never writes about politics, but see that's one of the things that makes him so libertarian, and in that respect, even more libertarian than you or me, my dear politics-obsessed reader. Seth Godin is more obsessed than most libertarians with what libertarians consider to be the best solution to many of the world's problems: businesses and markets. Seth's blog is highly recommended, and so are his books, including: Purple Cow, The Dip, Tribes, and Linchpin.


13. The Joe Rogan Experience - I don't know if Joe Rogan has ever called himself a libertarian, but I'll call him one. He endorsed Ron Paul for president in 2012, sees straight through partisan dogma from both Republicans and Democrats, and has been a tireless advocate for the legalization, study, and use of consciousness enhancing substances. His podcast is very entertaining, and covers a wide range of subjects, including frequently, politics, about which Joe often expresses libertarian opinions, and he has interviewed many libertarian guests such as Gary Johnson, Dave Smith, Andreas Antonopoulos, Dave Rubin, Michael Malice, and Jordan Peterson. It's a powerful experience.

★★★

My apologies, as you can see, I am in the process of making the most ambitious update yet to this list, which I have maintained since 2009. For the first time it will include descriptions for each website, and I'm adding images and taking the time to make this really nice. I'm also adding some sites and removing others as I have done through-out the list's 10 year history.

I'll be letting everyone on the email list know when it's done:



Human Progress

National Right to Work Foundation

Liberty on The Rocks

Crypto Currency News

Reality Check with Ben Swann

Jack Hunter

The American Institute for Economic Research

LewRockwell.com

The Intercept

Ron Paul Institute

The Independent Institute

The Institute For Humane Studies

Just One Minute

Gun Owners of America

Stefan Molyneux's Freedomain Radio

Zero Hedge

The Objective Standard

Strike The Root

LearnLiberty.org

Jeffrey Tucker's Laissez Faire Book Club

Personal Liberty

The Daily Liberator

Edward Snowden

The Foundation for Economic Education

Future of Freedom Foundation

Being Libertarian

/r/libertarian

Young Americans For Liberty

Students for Liberty

The Libertarian Institute

Bleeding Heart Libertarians

Ron Paul Liberty Report

Ron Paul Forums

The Dollar Vigilante

The Rubin Report

Advocates For Self-Government

Center for a Stateless Society

The Daily Bell

Pat Buchanan

Radley Balko's The Agitator

InfoWars

Walt Williams

Our America Initiative

The Competitive Enterprise Institute

Everything Voluntary

Library of Economics and Liberty

Campaign for Liberty

The Ayn Rand Institute (with apologies to Ayn Rand)

TomWoods.com

The Free State Project

Coin Desk

Caitlin Johnstone

Doug Stanhope

Cafe Hayek

We Are Libertarians

The Daily Reckoning

Marginal Revolution

Samizdata

Casey Research

DefCad

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Libertarian Christians

Human Rights Watch

ACLU.org

Peaceful Streets Project

John Stossel

The Scott Horton Show

The Adam Smith Institute

Peter Schiff's SchiffRadio.com

/r/Libertarian

The Libertarian Republic

Tenth Amendment Center

The John Locke Foundation

QandO

Lions of Liberty

The Institute For Justice

Daniel Hannan's YouTube Profile

Libertarian Papers

Foundation For Individual Rights in Education

The Second Amendment Foundation

Free Keene

"Free Advice" by: Robert P. Murphy

The Seasteading Institute

We Are Change

Free Talk Live

Matt Taibbi

The Ron Paul Curriculum

The Anti-Media

The New American

The Humble Libertarian



Friday, March 27, 2009

Where Are Democrats Right Now? (Supporting Obama's Budget And Runaway Deficits)


As a follow up to yesterday's post, which answers the (annoying and evasive) question "Where were the conservatives when George W. Bush ran his deficits?" I am now putting the question to Democrats and so-called "progressives." Where are you and what are you doing right now? Do you have the rational foresight and moral courage at this moment to stand up and vocally oppose the fiscal irresponsibility of the Obama Administration and its partners in Congress? Or will you deflect and evade?

There's been a lot of talk in the news headlines lately about divisions on the left and strong criticisms of Obama's economic policies coming from left-wing sources. I don't know however, that I've specifically heard criticisms of Obama's deficits. Instead, the Democrats seem to be urging Obama and Congress to push full steam ahead with more and ever more spending:

"MoveOn.org and Americans United for Change, the labor-backed organization that serves as the White House’s chief third-party operation, began airing ads Wednesday urging moderate Democrats in both the House and the Senate to get on board with the president’s budget."

What happened to the MoveOn.org that decried bloated budgets for creating deficits that future generations will have to pay(?):



I guess those are only bad when the other party's president is in office?

But make no doubt about it, MoveOn.org's partisan bias to the contrary notwithstanding, Obama's budget is really bad. In fact, it's absolutely insane:

At his press conference last night, President Obama insisted once again that he inherited the budget deficit, and “we’re doing everything we can to reduce that deficit.” ... But the deficits over the next 10 years that Obama proposed in his budget are not George Bush’s deficits... The budget Obama proposes for this year increases federal spending by a fiscally insane 34% over the budget adopted for last year, with a total of $4 trillion in federal spending, the highest EVER.

Many Democrats have made a career of hiding behind children. Environmental alarmism, universal health care, free speech restrictions- "We've got to pass these laws people! Just think of the children!" So I find it curiously suspicious that when it comes to running colossal deficits, the Democrats don't seem to mind throwing the children under the bus.

If you are a person of reason and integrity, I urge you to speak out against this madness. Tell your Congressman, tell the White House, tell your family, your friends, your enemies, your co-workers, and people you meet on the street that something has got to be done about our politicians in Washington and these crazy deficits.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Where Were The "Conservatives" When George W. Bush Ran His Deficits?


As a sane human being who values his future, I find it particularly discouraging to watch as the Obama Administration and its accomplices in Congress run trillion dollar deficits in excess of the already ridiculous deficits left behind by the Bush Administration. My aggravation however, turns to something more like rage when I hear partisan defenders of the Democrats' agenda say "Where were you conservatives when Bush was running these deficits? I didn't hear you complaining then."


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To begin with, it's an evasion of the issue, which is whether or not it's a good thing for our country to run deficits (and it is decidedly not). Secondly, it implies that Obama is somehow absolved of any responsibility for ruining our country because Bush started ruining it first. In what universe does that make any sense? Last of all, not all conservatives gave George W. Bush a free pass on deficit spending. Many did, just as many Democrats are giving Obama a free pass on faith-based initiatives, CIA renditions, ordering another troop surge, and breaking all of his promises about transparency.

In both cases, such people are just partisan sheep drinking their party's Kool Aid and lacking the moral courage and boldness to hold their leaders accountable to their values. But there were some fiscal conservatives trying to hold Bush accountable. In fact, if the average Democrat defending Obama's deficits would take just one moment to stop beating a straw man, he'd see that the most serious, most intellectual, most credible voices of fiscal conservatism have been earnest in holding the Bush Administration accountable.

What am I trying to say? If you support Obama's steep deficits, you're the partisan hack, not me or the institutions I support.

Here's the proof:


May 23, 2007 - The Acton Institute

Both of our major political parties have missed what seems so obvious. One says that we need more tax cuts to strengthen the economy. This is correct. The problem is that they are not willing to also make serious budget cuts. That party has spent more than any previous administration.


February 5, 2007 - The Independent Institute

The Bush administration has turned on the funding spigots—with the most rapid budget increases of any administration since that of LBJ. The administration has wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on everything from expanding benefits in an insolvent Medicare program to massive increases in the defense and homeland security budgets.


February 8, 2005 - The Cato Institute

For fiscal conservatives the biggest question about the Bush second term is whether the reckless spending spree that this president launched four years ago will continue over these next four years. Let us hope not, because if the expenditure patterns continue, Bush will go down in American history as one of the biggest debt and spend presidents ever.


January 3, 2005 - The Independent Institute

During his reelection campaign, President Bush pledged to cut the federal deficit in half by 2009. The president has decided to measure his progress using an initial deficit figure of $521 billion, thus making his eventual goal a reduction to a $261 billion deficit. The problem is that the budget deficit was never $521 billion. This number was only an outdated Bush administration guess about what the deficit would be.


December 6, 2004 - The Heritage Foundation

Unless spending is peeled back, President Bush's domestic policy legacy will be higher taxes, budget deficits and stalled Social Security reform.


July 31, 2003 - The Cato Institute

George W. Bush is the most gratuitous big spender to occupy the White House since Jimmy Carter. One could say that he has become the "Mother of All Big Spenders." The new estimates show that, under Bush, total outlays will have risen $408 billion in just three years to $2.272 trillion: an enormous increase in federal spending of 22 percent.


July 27, 2003 - The Cato Institute

The Right's total abandonment of balanced budgeting is stunning. Sure, taxes are unpleasant to pay. But someone, someday has to pay for the government we're buying every year. Deficit spending just puts off the day of reckoning, but with interest. Trading off smaller taxes today for larger taxes tomorrow is a curious position for anti-tax conservatives to take.


June 11, 2003 - Citizens for Tax Justice

President Bush’s return to huge deficit spending represents a sharp break from the recent past. During President Clinton’s second term, the government actually ran on-budget surpluses and began paying down the national debt. The new level of deficit spending exceeds the previous records set during the Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush administrations, when on-budget deficits averaged 25 percent and 28 percent of on-budget spending, respectively.


It even goes back to previous Republican Presidents and their deficits:


March 4, 1992 - The Heritage Foundation

But what few taxpayers know and Bush seems to be among them, is that federal domestic spending has grown molrt [sic -electronically archived document contains errors] under his watch than under any other Administration.


January 29, 1992 - The Heritage Foundation

It [Bush's proposed budget] increases federal domestic spending, already at record levels thanks to the 1990 budget deal, by another $51.6 billion next year. This means that this spending will soar 81 percent faster than projected inflation. And the Bush budget calls for more than $25 billion of new taxes over the next five years.


April 15, 1991 - The Heritage Foundation

For every new dollar that tax payers turn over to the federal treasury as a result of last years budget deal, Con gress [sic] and the Bush Administration will spend an additional $1.83 on domestic programs, making this the largest build-up in domestic spending in three decades.


February 1987 - The Freeman

The record of deficit spending depresses and frightens most Americans. They worry that they are living on borrowed time that some day must end, or in a dream world that will crash like the stock market in 1929. They sense that something is wrong and that, in the end, the Federal debt will hurt their own financial situation. After all, debts need to be paid, even government debts. But this concern among voters is difficult to grasp as a tangible, solvable problem. They do not see the deficit as an immediate threat nor do they perceive a crisis that needs to be solved today. Therefore, they are unwilling to take the painful steps that are believed to be essential to reduce the deficit drastically.

Spread the Word!


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Humble Libertarian Contest (Win Prizes!)

A Don't Tread On Me T-shirt, one of the prizes courtesy of ReTeaParty.com

Hey folks! This blog has been growing in leaps and bounds since I started it just six months ago and to celebrate the Humble Libertarian's 6-month anniversary (which is on April 2nd), I am running a contest to have a little fun and to attract some more regular readers to this growing community of liberty-lovers!


How To Enter

All you have to do to enter is subscribe to this blog via e-mail.

The deadline is the end of the day on April 2nd. Subscribing is free of any cost or obligation. After you subscribe, you will get no more than one e-mail a day with updates from the Humble Libertarian so you can conveniently stay up to date on our unique analysis and commentary.

Enter your email address:

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As for all of you who are already subscribed to this blog via e-mail- don't sweat it! You're going to be entered into the competition too. As of the publication of this post, I have 14 e-mail subscribers including myself (and I'm not up for a prize, obviously). There's no way I would penalize you guys for being loyal readers from the very beginning!


The Prizes Up For Grabs

I will select winners by a random drawing out of the pool of e-mail subscribers on April 3rd. There will be three winners:

3rd place - A "Don't Tread On Me" Bumper Sticker from ReTeaParty.com

2nd place - A "Don't Tread On Me" T-shirt from ReTeaParty.com

AND...

The 1st place GRAND PRIZE - A "Don't Tread On Me" T-Shirt AND Bumper Sticker (also courtesy of ReTeaParty.com), as well as a copy of "The Revolution: A Manifesto" by Congressman Ron Paul (Amazon.com's "Most Loved" Book of 2008):



The Legal Stuff
  • I will need a name and shipping address for winners so that I can ship you your prizes, and when I announce the winners, I would like to announce them by first name and state. If you'd rather that I didn't, you can decline the prize and I'll draw another e-mail address from the pool.
  • I will be contacting the winners via the e-mail address they used to subscribe, so make sure it's one you really use. I also will not publish, sell, or make available to a third party in any way, your e-mail address if you subscribe, or any other private information you give me like a shipping address if you win.
  • You can unsubscribe at any time hassle free by clicking the "unsubscribe" link which is at the bottom of every e-mail. Here's a list of reasons that I'm betting you'll want to stay subscribed.
  • This is just a fun contest and I reserve the right to change the terms of the contest as necessary. I'm sure it won't happen, but it never hurts to say so in writing just in case.

The Sponsor - PEAC PAC

The Political Exploration and Awareness Committee, PAC (PEAC PAC) is a grassroots effort to provide support and organization for independent individuals and organizations to organize events more efficiently. They operate a few websites that I help contribute articles to such as:

ReTeaParty.com
Schiff2010.com
Rand2010.com
JudgeNapolitano.com

I personally support their efforts, love the political activism they are bringing to the table, and am honored to have their sponsorship to make great prizes available for this contest.


Also: thanks to TheFreeSite.com for listing this contest on its website.

The AIG Bailout Debacle

Photo of AIG Lobby in NYC by: David Shankbone (CC)

The fallout over AIG's 165 million dollar bonuses (and the Federal Government's unconstitutional response) has the American public reeling with outrage. Here's an overview:


What is AIG and what does AIG do?

The BBC has this answer:

"AIG provides insurance and financial services in more than 130 countries.

The group and its subsidiaries employ more than 100,000 people around the world, including 2,000 in the UK, and it is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, as well as stock exchanges in Ireland and Tokyo.

It provides a range of insurance services to a variety of commercial, institutional and individual customers.

It also provides retirement and asset management services around the world.

The insurer has 30 million US policy holders and provides insurance to more than 100,000 companies and other entities."


Why did AIG need a bailout?

The Federal Reserve Bank announced on September 16, 2008, that it would be loaning out $85 billion to AIG in return for a 79.9% ownership of the company for the U.S. Federal Government. (Ironically, the press release noted twice that "The secured loan has terms and conditions designed to protect the interests of the U.S. government and taxpayers.") The Fed's reasoning for this move was essentially that AIG was too big to fail:

"The Board determined that, in current circumstances, a disorderly failure of AIG could add to already significant levels of financial market fragility and lead to substantially higher borrowing costs, reduced household wealth, and materially weaker economic performance."

Why was AIG in danger of failing in the first place?

Good question! Basically, throughout the 90s, the U.S. government decided it wanted to fuel a prosperity boom by strong-arming encouraging banks to lend to "sub-prime" mortgage candidates so they could buy houses. "Sub-prime" credit is a euphemism for credit lent out to people who shouldn't be getting it because it's too risky for the bank (and consequently for the people whose money that bank is loaning out). Too manage the risk, a lovely thing happened called "the securitization of mortgages" -banks would take a bunch of these risky mortgages, bundle them together as an investment, and sell them to bigger banks and financial institutions. There was so much of this going on that AIG had the bright idea of insuring all these risky investments, even if that meant stepping away from its successful core competency of providing traditional insurance policies to families and retirees.

How can't you believe in "trickle-down" economics? When people in the government have crazy ideas, the madness trickles down to the rest of the economy!


The AIG Bonus Scandal

Then after getting $85,000,000,000 in bailout money from taxpayers to reward and subsidize its failure and risky behavior, the story broke last week that AIG had added insult to injury by paying out $165,000,000 in bonuses to its top executives. Our political leaders' outrage at the scandal should be directed at none other than themselves. They are the ones who supported the financial bailout of AIG and who made this injustice possible. If we as Americans are angry at AIG executives for wasting $165 million of our money, we should be furious at the politicians in Washington who made this possible by wasting $85 billion of our money in the first place.

And never forget who AIG's 1st and 2nd biggest beneficiaries are in terms of campaign donations: Senator Chris Dodd and President Barack Obama:

Obama may be grandstanding about AIG’s bonuses now, but it’s worth noting that Obama himself is the second biggest benefactor [sic] of AIG political contributions. Second only to Senator Chris Dodd, who is quietly trying to tip-toe away from legislation he inserted into Obama’s “stimulus” spending spree that protected AIG’s bonuses.

Washington's Inept, Unnecessary, Illegal, Ex post facto, and Unconstitutional Response

As a treasure trove of bright ideas, the House of Representatives passed a bill to tax 90% of the AIG bonuses:

The House tax measure, hurriedly drawn up on the orders of the Democratic leadership, imposes a 90% levy on those who were paid executive bonuses if their families earned more than $250,000 annually and if their firms, such as AIG, received more than $5 billion in federal bailout funds. It passed by more than a two-thirds majority, 328 to 93.

Here's an idea: instead of taxing 90% of $165 million now, why doesn't Congress just not give away 100% of billions and billions to large financial institutions later? Here's another idea: read the Constitution. Ex post facto, selective taxation laws are not Constitutional. Furthermore, they're tyrannical! They set a startling precedent for policy in this country and sadly, they are not necessary to recoup taxpayer losses in this case. Remember that the government owns AIG now. As the largest shareholder in the company, it should ask the board of directors to rescind the bonuses and threaten to sue them as the largest shareholder if they do not comply. Politico.com has a list of 10 alternatives to the "AIG tax" (for which I hold varying degrees of support).


I promise I really hate saying "I told you so."



Anti-Bailout Merchandise

Monday, March 23, 2009

Peter Schiff - Henry Hazlitt Speech at the Austrian Scholars Conference

Photograph of Peter Schiff (CC)

Peter Schiff had the honor of presenting the 2009 Henry Hazlitt Memorial Lecture at the annual Austrian Scholars Conference, hosted by the Ludwig von Mises Institute on March 13, 2009. The video of it has been making its rounds in the past few days (for example: here and here -thanks for bringing it to my attention!).

As a guest blogger over at Schiff2010.com, I published a post displaying the video of Schiff's speech along with another, shorter video featuring clips from the past few years of Peter Schiff predicting in eerie detail, the economic crisis we are experiencing today while other commentators scoff in disagreement (even "free-market leaning" commentators like Arthur Laffer and Ben Stein).

Check it out. It's really good!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Need Your Help


Hey folks, I have an upcoming post in the works that will consist of a "top 100" list of Libertarian blogs and websites. I think it'll be a fun and very helpful post, but- it's hard! Scouring the Internet and the recesses of my memory to come up with a list of 100 great websites and blogs that represent libertarian thought is actually pretty difficult.

Listed below is the rough brainstorm I've got going so far, and I would like any help you can give toward filling in the gaps. Any important libertarian organizations, think tanks, or websites that I'm missing? Any great libertarian websites that I should recommend that no one has likely heard of? Just start spouting off ideas in the comment threads, no need to worry that a site won't pass muster. That's part of the brainstorming process.

I have 34 libertarian blogs and websites so far (plus some blogs on my links page that I haven't included yet):

1. The Official Website of the Libertarian Party

2. The Cato Institute

3. The Ludwig von Mises Institute

4. The Acton Institute

5. The Adam Smith Institute

6. Reason Magazine

7. Library of Economics and Liberty

8. Bureaucrash

9. The Free State Project

10. The Prometheus Institute

11. Ron Paul's Perpetual Campaign for Liberty

12. Cafe Hayek

13. The Libertarian Alliance Blog

14. The Austrian Economists

15. Marginal Revolution

16. The Foundation for Economic Education

17. Samizdata

18. The Christian Libertarian

19. Advocates For Self-Government

20. Foundation For Individual Rights in Education

21. The Fraser Institute

22. The Institute For Humane Studies

23. The Institute For Justice

24. Libertarianism.com

25. Alliance For School Choice

26. RonPaul.com

27. The Freedom Factory

28. GetLiberty.org - Americans for Limited Government

29. International Society for Individual Liberty

30. Libertarians for Life

31. Liberty Maven

32. Libertarian Rock

33. GOP for Liberty

34. The Humble Libertarian

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dashed Hopes On President Barack Obama's Two Month Anniversary

White House photo by Eric Draper

A month ago, on Barack Obama's one month anniversary as president, I published an article entitled "10 Ways Barack Obama Is Just Like George W. Bush." It wasn't flattering.

Two months ago, on the day of Obama's inauguration as President of the United States, instead of doing "my patriotic duty" to my country and joining in the festivity with a bland, obligatory ode to the greatness of our country and "the setting aside of childish things" (like political dissent) in the name of unity and compromise, I wrote a short piece criticizing the new president for his election campaign of cynicism and despair.

What was especially remarkable, and utterly Orwellian, was that he marketed this cynical, fear-mongering campaign as a campaign of hope. What was especially disturbing was that Americans bought it and still buy it today. I imagine that if I made the case to most Americans that his campaign and administration have been antithetical to hope, they would be uncomprehending.

Yet in an attempt to look at the bright side of thing, two days after writing my critical editorial I did offer a piece entitled "My Hopes For The Obama Administration." Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Obama is going to deliver.

Here is the list revisited with reasons why Obama is letting me down:


1. An end to the politics of race and the accompanying entitlement mentality.

Sorry folks. Perhaps in the long term, this is a historical inevitability that Obama's presidency will have some part in making a reality, but in the short and middle term, it looks like the politics of race are alive and well, even within the Obama administration itself:

Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that despite advances, the United States remains “a nation of cowards” on issues involving race.

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been, and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, a nation of cowards.”

2. Repeal of the Patriot Act and other policies that threaten to turn America into a police state.

At the time I wrote this two months ago, I was actually not aware that as a senator, Obama voted to extend the Patriot Act. A little bit of research fixed that, and now I seriously doubt that as president, Obama will work to repeal an act he voted to extend. As for other policies that lead down the slippery slope to a totalitarian police state, I was disconcerted to hear Attorney General Eric Holder announce that the Obama Administration will seek to reinstate the assault weapons ban.


3. Shut down of Guantanamo Bay and the trial or release of its inmates.

While Obama did issue an executive order to make this happen, I'm not at all hopeful that this indicates anything about the direction of American military policy with respect to the treatment of prisoners. The reason? Obama's continued use of the CIA practice of "renditions:"

Under executive orders issued by Obama last week, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the U.S.

The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured.

4. Withdrawal from Iraq.


Sigh. I really thought this one was going to happen too. Too bad it's not:

After Speaker Nancy Pelosi complained that the level of troops — 50,000 — who would remain in Iraq is too high, other senior Democrats voiced similar concerns on Thursday...

“I’m happy to listen to the secretary of defense and the president, but when they talk about 50,000, that’s a little higher number than I had anticipated,” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said...

It’s not just a “little higher number” than most Americans want. It is a lot higher. President Barack Obama should bring home all of America’s troops from Iraq. If he doesn’t, Democratic officials and peace activists need to make their views known to him just as vigorously as they did to President George W. Bush when he was launching and escalating the war.

Oh yeah, and in Troop Surge 2.0, we are deploying 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan at the order of President Barack Obama.


5. Reform of drug laws and policies.

The jury's still out on this one and I'm still hoping, but I am prepared to be disappointed.


6. Backlash against government interventionist policies.

When I made this list I wrote that: "it is my sincere hope that Obama will implement his interventionist policies, and the American people will be able to connect the dots when they fail to revive the American economy, and possibly make matters worse. Jimmy Carter swept to victory on a campaign of economic reform, but by the end of his first term, when the American economy was suffering worse than it had been four years earlier, Carter was replaced by the venerable Ronald Reagan. I hope that Obama will do us a great service in this capacity, and that he will end up by being a one term president. I don't know that we'll get a result like Reagan, looking at the state of the GOP today, but I can always hope. "

In this one instance, I am starting to get what I hoped for!

Otherwise, I've learned a valuable lesson these past couple months: Dare to hope, prepare to be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is America Socialist? Is America Moving Toward Socialism?

Socialism is defined in the following ways:

  • Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy. [1]
  • The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved. [1]
  • A theory or system of social reform which contemplates a complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor. [2]

Is America socialist? Given the above definitions, and given America's present condition, it would be hard to say that America isn't socialist and it would be an ignorant falsehood to claim that America is a free market, capitalist country. In a Nov 2008 article entitled "What is Socialism? Is Barack Obama Socialist?" I wrote:

I must ask what it means for us to own our property. When a government can control, appropriate, distribute, and dispose of a very significant amount of its citizens' property without their individual consent, is it not the operating premise that government owns everything and that you use your property only with government's tacit consent, and only as long as government doesn't presently wish to revoke your rights to this or that portion of your property? In such a society government presumes to be lord of all and the law of the land is "render unto Caesar whatever he says is his."

Can anyone disagree that the situation described above is America's present condition? That our government can control, appropriate, distribute, and dispose of its citizens' property without their individual consent? If you doubt it, then a brief review of the American government's involvement in its economy is in order:


Quantity and Price Controls
The US federal, state, and local governments have imposed myriad controls and restraints on the free exchange of value between consenting individuals. We presently have wage controls as modest (though still harmful) as the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 and as steep as the average of $55 an hour (recently down from $70) that United Auto Workers members have been able to garner from an auto industry that is forced to accept the union's terms because it is illegal for employees of American auto companies to work for less than the wages that the UAW has bargained for.

Price ceilings on a state and local level govern the price of rents for apartments, electricity, gasoline, and insurance premiums among other things. Preventing prices from rising naturally to meet market conditions causes shortages and decreased quality as suppliers and capital markets produce less of the good in question because the government controls have damaged its profitability. Price ceilings on insurance premiums in Florida are the reason that State Farm dropped 1.2 million homeowner policies in Jan 2009, leaving Florida homeowners vulnerable to the next hurricane that destroys their property.

The government also imposes tariffs and import quotas on all kinds of imported goods like sugar cane from the Caribbean and steel from Europe, driving up the price of these goods for American businesses and consumers and hurting American exports by encouraging similar policies in other countries. In addition, government subsidies of various industries wreak havoc with market forces and create wasteful surpluses and artificially low prices. The surpluses (of subsidized corn, for example) typically get dumped in foreign markets where they flood the market and bankrupt local farmers.

Regulations
American citizens and businesses drown in a sea of regulations navigated by hundreds of powerful regulatory agencies. Think our economy isn't centrally planned and controlled? Think again. Just examine this list of United States federal agencies and what they regulate and control. It's astounding. Most of America's major industries are tightly regulated and controlled by the federal and state governments. Among them are agriculture, mining, logging, manufacturing, the food industry, retail and wholesale distribution, telecommunications, education, medicine, banking, energy, housing, transportation, the labor market, securities exchange, and the market for capital- which is the backbone of our economy.

In addition to controls and regulations targeted at these specific industries, there are state and federal laws that regulate (and harm) business activity in general, like the penalties businesses are forced to pay if they don't provide health insurance to their employees, which strains the cost structures of small businesses and discourages creation of new start-ups as well as new jobs by existing businesses. Then there's Sarbanes-Oxley and the millions in annual compliance costs it imposes on publicly listed corporations, and the disincentive it creates for successful companies to list on American stock exchanges.

Then there are the anti-trust laws that the federal government uses to prosecute (or did I mean to write "persecute") businesses for the crime of success. Under these laws, if a business prices above its competition, it can be prosecuted for monopolistic pricing. If it prices below its competition, it can be prosecuted for aggressive pricing to bankrupt its competitors. And get this- if it prices the same as its competitors, it can even be tried for price collusion. The laws are such a vague, tangled mess that no successful business can be safe from them or possibly comply with them all.


Taxes
Remember the kind of measly taxes that the American colonists fought a revolution to end? The kind of taxes we pay in America today are beyond the wildest dreams (or worst nightmares, more like) of our patriotic forebears. Federal, state, and local taxes of all kinds confiscate American wealth to subsidize redistributive entitlement programs, unnecessary and destructive wars, and the bloated mess of regulatory agencies referenced above.

The average American family pays 40% of its earnings in taxes. So if you're average, you work for the government from January 1 to May 26. Only on May 27 do you start working for yourself. How does that feel, comrade? (On a side note, since we're on the topic of working for the government- did you know that the federal government is the largest employer in the United States with 2,300,000 military employees and 2,600,000 civilian employees?)

Among other taxes and fees, Americans pay personal income taxes, corporate taxes, capital gains taxes, estate taxes, sales taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, self-employment taxes, property taxes, and fees of all kinds to register everything from your car to your marriage.


Conclusion
Recall or reread the definitions of socialism above, and then decide for yourself whether America is socialist based on the information provided in this article.


End Notes:

1. socialism. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved November 22, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/socialism

2. socialism. (n.d.). Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. Retrieved November 22, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/socialism

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Problem With The Stimulus Package - An Illustration


Early last month, I wrote in critique of the stimulus bill, urging my readers to take action and contact their representatives to oppose its passage. One reason I gave was that it wouldn't actually stimulate the economy:

On the surface, it seems to make sense. The economy is doing poorly, so give it a fresh infusion of billions of dollars, and it will start to perk up. But the thing is that it isn't a fresh infusion of billions of dollars. This money won't be coming from some magical government storehouse of wealth to inject the economy with new cash- it will be coming from the economy. All the money the government will be spending to stimulate the economy is in the economy already. If you understand and can share just that one simple principle with others, the public will go a long way towards understanding why the stimulus package won't stimulate the economy. All this package does is move around money that already exists and is already in our economy.

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a professor of economics at Belmont University- where I am wrapping up my final semester of undergraduate study- and he used a perfect illustration to help visualize the argument quoted above. I thought I'd share this illustration because it might come in handy when discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of the stimulus plan with friends, family, classmates, co-workers, or anyone else:

Imagine a swimming pool. You take a bucket to one side of the swimming pool and fill it up with water. Then you walk to the other side of the swimming pool and empty it there. How many times would you have to repeat this to raise the total level of the swimming pool? Answer: It is impossible to raise the level of the swimming pool by removing water from one end and pouring it into the other.

And that is what the stimulus package seeks to do. It purports to improve America's economy by "stimulating" it with cash infusions, but those cash infusions have to come from somewhere- guess where? The economy. The government is paying for the stimulus package by printing money, which siphons off purchasing power from the rest of the economy, and borrowing, which siphons off credit from the rest of the economy and creates debt that will have to be paid back with interest, and the money for that will come from the economy in future taxes and more printed money.

Our politicians are dishonest because they only want to acknowledge half the picture, the half where they pour water into the pool. They don't want to consider the fact that they are also pulling water out of the pool in the process. Government doesn't create wealth, it can only move around and deplete existing wealth. Government is not and cannot be the fountainhead of human wealth and prosperity, because it can only spend money that it has taken from somewhere else. In private hands however, productive capital actually creates wealth and raises the level of the pool.

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