Mind your business.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Cato Institute's Health Care Reform Campaign

A week ago, the libertarian Cato Institute launched an ad campaign to oppose government-run health care in the U.S. -featuring a full-page ad in major national newspapers across the country.

“Our goal is to help the American public navigate terms like ‘a public plan’ and ‘individual or employer mandates’ to understand what is really happening here,” said Ed Crane, founder and president of the Cato Institute. “The bottom line is, most of the plans coming from the White House and congressional leadership will result in a government-run health care system that is really not the best option for most Americans.”

The ad campaign centers on a website that the Cato Institute has set up with tons of great information on health care and the role that liberty can play in reforming it and correcting its problems. But wait! There's more! The institute is also running excellent radio ads like these:

You gotta love what the Cato Institute is up to! They are seizing this moment as an opportunity to not only oppose the restrictions on our freedom that would result from fascist health care, but to engage in a dialogue about the root problems with the U.S. health insurance industry and their proper solutions.

Click the Uncle Sam widget at the top of this post and read up on Cato's in depth research and analysis so you can effectively take the message to the streets!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pledge for Rand Paul!

This week's news that Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning is stepping down from another run has fueled a lot of excitement and energy for the 2010 Senate campaign of Dr. Rand Paul, the son of Texas Congressman and 2008 Presidential hopeful Ron Paul.

Some weeks ago, Trevor Lyman, who started the two successful money bombs for Ron Paul's Presidential bid in 2007, launched to raise Rand Paul $1,000,000 in one day this August 20th.

I just want to strongly encourage you to visit the site and pledge to support Rand this August 20th, which happens to be Congressman Ron Paul's birthday. Let's give Ron Paul the best birthday present he could ask for and help put another liberty-loving patriot on Capitol Hill!

Action Alert:

If you are concerned that your pledge won't make a difference- here's how it can: I have a friend named Jon who is an active member of the Republican party in my county who says he will pledge $100 for Rand Paul's Aug 20th money bomb if I can find ten other people who will pledge along with him.

Together, that means $1100 towards sending Rand Paul to Washington. I told him that I could find at least ten people who would go in with him. If you are willing, please e-mail me or leave a comment on this thread (along with your e-mail address) saying you are willing to match Jon's $100 if I can pull together ten people.

When I get ten pledges, I'll e-mail all of you to let you know and I'll include a link to so you can sign up to drop your money bomb on August 20th!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Criticisms of Sarah Palin: The Republican Case Against Her Nomination in 2012

Photo by Bruce (CC)

Earlier this week, Sarah Palin stepped down as Alaska governor, fueling speculation that she is positioning for a 2012 U.S. Presidential bid. Talk with enough Republicans anywhere, and you'll quickly find that she has many passionate supporters in the GOP.

It is for them that I am writing this article, to convince and persuade you- if you are a Palin supporter- that nominating Sarah Palin to run for U.S. President on the GOP ticket would be a disastrous mistake for the Republican Party!

Don't misunderstand me. I see her appeal. I understand that Sarah Palin really is a "normal person." She's not a politician like most of the people in Washington, but an ordinary wife, mother, and citizen who happened to also be Alaska's governor.

At a time when elite, career politicians are making a wreck of our country, I can see how appealing someone like Sarah Palin is. I would agree that we need more "normal people" in office, that we should put more Washington outsiders in Washington, but not Sarah Palin.

As all the commentators and punditry have proclaimed ad nauseam, the Republican Party is in a state of crisis and searching for its identity. Part of the solution, it would seem to many Republicans, is to find "the next Ronald Reagan." Sarah Palin may be a good wife and mother, but she is no Ronald Reagan.

She can never be the Great Communicator that he was, because she is not the Great Ideologue that he was. No, I am not buying into the media's libelous characterizations of her as an idiot. I have heard enough of that tripe about every Republican candidate since I took an interest in politics not to be easily fooled.

Instead, what I am saying is that Sarah Palin has made it abundantly clear on the campaign trail and since the campaign that she (like most politicians) is not truly ideological, that she does not have an explicit, coherent underlying framework for understanding the nature and role of government.

Sarah Palin goes as deep as the rhetoric, but no deeper. She is unequipped to engage in true dialectics by understanding, confronting, and solidly refuting the ideological basis for the statism that is rapidly consuming our country and way of life.

Worse, I doubt that she even grasps the underlying ideological basis for many of the public policies she advocates. Again, I am not calling Palin an idiot or saying that she is an incapable leader, but I am saying that like most politicians she wouldn't know what an idea was if it bit her on the nose.

Do a Google search for Sarah Palin's speeches while she was on the campaign trail and another for Ronald Reagan's speeches, and compare the two for ideological depth. Palin is armed with fiery rhetoric and very cute winks. Reagan was armed with even better rhetorical skill and with the power of ideas.

It was his ideas and his ability to communicate them that made him a great president. The battle for America and her freedoms is at root a fundamentally ideological battle, a fight between opposing ideas, and Sarah Palin is not armed or able to fight or win that battle.

If it is freedom we want, nominating Sarah Palin is a tactic that will make some Republicans feel good in the short term, but a strategy to lose in the long term.

Monday, July 27, 2009

BREAKING: Jim Bunning NOT Running!

"Cantankerous Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning has officially dropped out of next year's reelection campaign -- citing his paltry fundraising efforts."

U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Jim Bunning's office just released this statement:

"I have the same conservative principles in 2009 as I had when I was first elected to Congress in 1986. Over the past twenty-two years I have always done what I thought was right for Kentucky even if that meant taking positions that were not popular with the media or even leaders of my own party. Speaking out against bailouts and wasteful spending supported by the Republican leadership in the Senate and a Republican President last year angered many of my colleagues in my own party, but I didn’t run for public office for fame or public acclaim. When I cast a vote I think about how it will affect my grandchildren and the next generation of Kentuckians, not my next election or invitation to a D.C. cocktail party. The people of Kentucky know where I stand and I am honored that they have continued to send me back to Congress to represent them each time I have run for the House and Senate.
Unfortunately, running for office is not just about the issues. To win a general election, a candidate has to be able to raise millions of dollars to get the message out to voters. Over the past year, some of the leaders of the Republican Party in the Senate have done everything in their power to dry up my fundraising. The simple fact is that I have not raised the funds necessary to run an effective campaign for the U.S. Senate. For this reason, Iwill not be a candidate for re-election in 2010.
This was a difficult decision because I feel like my work in the Senate is more important now than ever. As I finish out my term, Kentuckians should know that I will continue to be a strong voice against the domestic policies pushed by the White House and Congress that – if enacted – will put this country on the path to socialism.
I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that the United States remains true to the principles that have made this country a beacon of freedom and economic opportunity for so many. My hope has always been that my grandchildren and all Kentuckians have the same opportunities that I had growing up in Northern Kentucky many years ago. My fear is that the debt that this Congress and Administration is placing on future generations of Americans will lower the standard of living for all Kentuckians in the future if they are not stopped.

While I am confident that this seat in the U.S. Senate will stay in Republican hands, I have no plans to endorse a candidate in the Republican primary. Like many others in Kentucky, I look forward to seeing where each of the candidates stands on the important issues and I hope a strong conservative wins the primary. The Republican Party needs more people with strong principles and convictions that can stand up to the temptations of political power that have engulfed so many of our leaders after they arrive inside the beltway.

This means that Bowling Green resident Rand Paul, who has said he will run for sure if Bunning drops out, will likely be announcing soon his firm commitment to run for U.S. Senate out of Kentucky- great news for the Freedom Movement in America!

Visit to pledge to donate on Rand Paul's August 20th moneybomb, a single day of massive donations with the goal of raising $1 million toward sending another Dr. Paul to our nation's Capitol!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Why Conservatives Should Love Harry Potter

I went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince this Friday, and enjoyed the film very much. While reflecting on its lessons, I thought I would write up a short piece to respond to well-meaning religious conservatives who believe that the Harry Potter franchise promotes witchcraft or lures Christian children into the occult.

Not only do I believe their concern is misplaced, but in fact, I have to say that the Harry Potter books and films are one of the greatest and most crucial cultural developments of our generation.

Consider first, the clear and unambiguous battle between good and evil. In a post-modern world turned upside-down by the philosophical wreckage of the previous four centuries, where "enlightened" students at our top universities will maintain with a straight face that all morals are relative and that there is no objective right and wrong, it is a breath of fresh air to see our entire society captivated by a story that so clearly portrays good and evil exactly for what they are.

Good people are full of love, hope, benevolence, kindness, meekness, humility, and an unflinching dedication to, pursuit of, and reverence for the truth. Evil people are full of malice, fear, envy, cruelty, arrogance, and deceit. The good strive to live in community with one another. The evil try to hurt others. The good are peaceful. The evil are violent. The good love light and life. The evil love darkness and death. The distinction is clear and unequivocal in Harry Potter as it is in real life. Conservative Christians could not ask for a better advocate of their views in the popular culture.

Then there's the magical. This is the part that seems to put off Evangelicals and Pentecostals the most, but it is in fact one of the Harry Potter series' greatest virtues. In our post-Enlightenment world, where philosophic naturalism and pretentious scientism have triumphed in our leading cultural institutions, how wonderful it is to see people and children in love with magic! That's the charm of Harry Potter. That's the draw. 20th Century America and England are starved for the supernatural, and the Harry Potter books and films make a fine entree in that regard!

Part of the cultural/political program of the eugenicists (the heirs in spirit of Darwin and Malthus) and the socialists (the heirs in spirit of Marx and Hegel), is to cut off society from its roots, including its spiritual beliefs and religious traditions. The advance of atheism today is not the philosophical or scientific triumph of truth over invented dogma, but one aspect of the systematic imperialism and conquest of violent, modern political agendas. I can think of few things that have done more than the Harry Potter series to halt their advance by subtly but deeply confronting the premise that our universe is merely a closed system of physical cause and effect.

Furthermore, the Potter books make their case and unfold their captivating plots by making use of motif after borrowed motif from all of the Western world's classical mythologies and religious traditions. In a culture so cut off from its own past (a thing conservatives of all people should lament), Harry Potter is introducing many of us for the first time to something beautiful- the ancient world. It subtly, and not-so-subtly weaves together a vibrant tapestry from all the threads of the ancient way of thinking and looking at the world, which is and will be our greatest weapon in fighting the march of statism and the other scourges of modern and post-modern thinking.

Harry Potter doesn't make me want to consort with the Devil. Instead, it reminds me of how beautiful, and wonderful, and true my Christianity is. It makes me want to be a better person, it motivates me to make our world a better place, and it gives me hope that I can and will triumph in that regard.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Islamic Jihad Recruiting Conference in Chicago This Monday?

Fox News is reporting
that earlier this week a potentially terrorist organization (or at least one that actively promotes Islamic Jihad) held a recruiting conference in Chicago:

Roughly 500 members of Hizb ut-Tahrir — a global Sunni network with reported ties to confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Al Qaeda in Iraq's onetime leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — met inside a Hilton hotel in Oak Lawn, Ill., to host "The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam."


But some terrorism experts say Hizb ut-Tahrir may be even more dangerous than many groups that are on the State Departrment's terror list. "Hizb ut-Tahrir is one of the oldest, largest indoctrinating organizations for the ideology known as jihadism," Walid Phares, director of the Future of Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told

Phares said that Hizb ut-Tahrir, rather than training members to carry out terrorist acts like Al Qaeda, focuses instead on indoctrinating youths between ages of 9 and 18 to absorb the ideology that calls for the formation of an empire — or "khilafah" — that will rule according to Islamic law and condones any means to achieve it, including militant jihad.

Whoa! If this group is actively supporting the replacement of our Constitutional government with an Islamic Caliphate, then I would have to say that according to our Constitution, that is an illegal act of subversion and possibly treason.

I'm a pretty huge fan of immigration, and it's an issue I tend to rub elbows with some other libertarians and traditional conservatives over, because I think we should more or less let anybody into our country who wants to come and work here and build a better life for themselves.

But if any of these folks aren't U.S. citizens, and they are in fact advocating the subversion of our government in favor of another one, then I would think those are probably the kind of people we have a legitimate interest in sending back to their countries of origin.

Islamic Recruiting Cracks Me Up

Having made that serious point, I now just have to laugh at how funny this is to me. A group that works to actively promote militant Islamic Jihad is recruiting at a conference in a hotel in Chicago? The juxtaposition seems really odd to me and produces a humorous effect.

Who planned the event, their human resources department? How would an interview with Al Qaeda for a job as a terrorist go? In my twisted imagination, something like this:

Interviewer: So how did you hear about us?

Applicant: I was referred by
Hizb ut-Tahrir after attending their conference in Chicago.

Interviewer: Ah yes. I see. Did you find the office okay?

Applicant: I guess I did a better job than the CIA!


Interviewer: That's great. I like to see applicants with a sense of humor. This a dirty business we're in, and it helps to be able to laugh at yourself and your enemies. Really, this is a people business. We're looking for applicants who we feel have the proper people skills and communication skills as well as the necessary tactical skills on the field. How well do you feel you can work with people?

Applicant: Very well. In my previous job as a pirate in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific, I was very polite while plundering people's boats and then sinking them. I also worked in human resources, which was difficult, because when we decided to let people go, I had to contact them and let them know they were out of a job. I think I handled it very well.

Interviewer: Good. I noticed that there's a pretty big time lapse between your pirate job and working as a janitor at the local Mosque. Tell me a little more about that.

Applicant: Oh yes, that was because of my pilgrimage to Mecca. And also my mother was very sick during that time, so I took some time off from work to take care of her. We had a lot of trouble getting our insurance to cover us. Damn HMOs.

Interviewer: Fair enough. What unique skills do you think you'd bring to the organization?

Applicant: I am a loyal Muslim. I love Allah very much. I also hate America and capitalism- obviously. What I'd bring to the organization is my cosmetics experience. You really need to do Osama bin Laden's make up a lot better before putting him in front of a camera. And his hair! Other than that, there's my devotion to destroying the infidel West and my willingness to die in that cause.

Interviewer: You'd be willing to die to kill infidels?

Applicant: Oh yeah. I'd have a blast doing it. I hear that I'd get plenty of virgins in Heaven as part of my retirement plan?

Interviewer: Absolutely. That's one of the perks. Well I definitely think you're what we're looking for. What I'm going to do is set you up with a second interview to come in and meet with our manager here to get some more information about the job.

Applicant: Thank you. Allah Ackbar!

Interviewer: Allah Ackbar!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Public Competition" Is Not Competition

In yesterday's post, I laid out the economic argument that dictating lower prices to the health insurance market from Washington will necessarily create shortages (and therefore long lines and rationed care), but that opening the market to competition would shift the dynamics at work on the supply side, resulting in lower prices and more health care.

As President Obama pushes forward on his proposed health "reforms," advocates of H.R. 3200 may respond that the "public option" does just that- create more competition. They are very mistaken! Greg Mankiw, a professor of economics at Harvard University, exposes the critical flaw in this argument:

"[M]ost discussion of the issue, leaves out the answer to the key question: Would the public plan have access to taxpayer funds unavailable to private plans?

If the answer is yes, then the public plan would not offer honest competition to private plans. The taxpayer subsidies would tilt the playing field in favor of the public plan. In this case, the whole idea of a public option seems to be a disingenuous route toward a single-payer system...

If the answer is no, then the public plan would need to stand on its own financially and, in essence, would be a private nonprofit plan. But then what's the point? If advocates of a public plan want to start a nonprofit company offering health insurance on better terms than existing insurance companies, nothing is stopping them from doing so right now."

Exactly! The public option does not offer real competition and therefore, will not really bring down prices. Instead, it will shift them around, transfer them to taxpayers, hide and obscure them even worse, and result in a greater cost to Americans for less quality, less privacy, less liberty, and less care.

What will create real competition is 1) ending government policies that enforce employer-based insurance, and 2) allowing Americans to purchase insurance policies across state lines.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Democrats' "Public Option" Will Result in Long Lines and Rationed Health Care

Reality and the "Public Option"

The H.R. 3200 America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, which is being touted by Democrats in Washington as a "public option" for uninsured Americans, has many provisions aimed at lowering the cost of health care by government decree.

Unfortunately, reality doesn't work that way, and the government cannot simply dictate prices to health and insurance providers without certain consequences. If you want to make a balloon smaller you can't do so by squeezing it. You'll just move the air around into different spaces.

Trying to squeeze the health care market to get more out of it will have the same result; it will only shift things around. Below are some micro-economic analyses of government policies and their effect on the price of health care. If you are unfamiliar with how to read these graphs, I have a short primer here.

The "Public Option" Creates Shortages

As the graph above illustrates, if Congress simply and crudely forces down the price of health care by dictating prices to health care providers from Washington, which is one of the provisions of H.R. 3200, the price will fall to a level at which supply does not meet demand.

There will be more people who want health care at that price than there will be suppliers, which is called a shortage. This is what opponents of the so-called "public option" mean when they say that it will cause long lines and rationed care. There will be lines for health care, there won't be enough to go around, and the government will start to ration it according to decisions and policies made by bureaucrats. Even Obama can't deny that his overhaul will change how Americans receive care.

U.K. / Canadian-Style Socialized Medicine

They will have to decide if your need is great enough, if you have suffered enough pain, if you are old enough, if you are young enough, or if your life is worth living enough to get the care you need. That's the tragic part of all this- the "public option" will actually result in less available care, as you can see from the decreased quantity supplied at the artificially lowered price.

This isn't just abstract theory and lines on a graph. You can see numerous empirical examples of this, among them, the "brain drain" experienced by countries like the U.K. and Canada that implement socialized medicine. Their supply of doctors decreases as those doctors move away to find more lucrative opportunities in non-single-payer countries like the United States.

Competition = More Affordable Care AND More Care

But there is a real solution that will drive down prices without diminishing quantity and creating a shortage. If we opened up the market for health insurance to real competition, it would change the dynamics at work on the supply-side because rival firms would have to keep prices competitive, shifting the supply curve itself.

What does that entail? One of the biggest impediments to a truly free and competitive health insurance market is the government-backed entanglement of employers with the provision of health insurance. In an interview I conducted with entitlements expert, Michael D. Tanner of the Cato Institute, he wrote:

"Employment-based insurance hides much of the true cost of health care to consumers, thereby encouraging over-consumption. It also limits consumer choice, since employers get the final say in what type of insurance a worker will receive."

Another major step toward opening up a free market of competition would be to allow people to buy health insurance across state lines. Quoting again from my interview with Tanner:

"Unfortunately, consumers are more or less held prisoner by their state’s regulatory regime. It is illegal for [a] New Jersey resident to buy the cheaper health insurance in Kentucky. On the other hand, if consumers were free to purchase insurance in other states, they could in effect 'purchase' the regulations of that other state."


Remember, as I noted above and demonstrated on the graph, by allowing true competition to occur, we end up shifting the supply curve itself, which causes the desires of suppliers and consumers to meet at a different price level, a lower price level, creating more affordable health care without creating a shortage and the consequent lines, waiting, and rationing.

This method not only makes health care more affordable, it actually results in more health insurance. It creates more quantity in the market for health insurance, meaning more people are covered and truly have access to health care. And who knows- more competition might just result in better quality too.

But before that can happen we must make sure that enough of our Congressman oppose the "public option" to defeat it like we did in 1994- which means melt those switchboards!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Obama Gaffes, Says Health Reform Would Bring Greater Inefficiencies

Photo by jmtimages (CC)

Yesterday, I got an e-mail link to this video in which President Obama makes a verbal gaffe (or a Freudian slip?) while defending the Democrats' so-called "public-option" for health care reform:

Text: "The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings and inefficiencies to our health care system."

It reminds me of this classic and hilarious gem from George W. Bush in 2004:

Text: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." -Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

PS: Don't forget to check out the Humble Libertarian tomorrow for a special critique of the "public option" and some economic analysis demonstrating why it will result in long lines and rationed care. The post is scheduled to be published at 8:00 am sharp CDT.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Short Primer on Microeconomic Graphs

This is a very short primer on how to read micro economic graphs.

I have a feeling I'm going to be using these a lot to explain the problems with so much of the legislation coming out of Washington right now, so I figured I would publish a page with this short primer and keep it handy to link to anytime I use these graphs.

If you are familiar with how to read these, feel free to skip over this post. If not, take just a minute to read it so you can fully appreciate some of my arguments in upcoming posts. I make it very simple:
The Axes: Price & Quantity

The graph above depicts quantity on the x-axis and price on the y-axis, showing how the two relate. Quantity is the number of units of a good. Price is how much each individual unit costs.

The Demand Curve

The red line is a demand curve and illustrates The Law of Demand- if something is cheaper you are willing to buy more of it and if something is more expensive you buy less. That's why as you follow the demand curve, when price goes down, the quantity demanded of a good goes up.

The Supply Curve

The blue line is the supply curve, which illustrates The Law of Supply- that it is less lucrative to supply a good as the good's price decreases, so suppliers will want to supply less of it. Conversely- the more highly priced the good, the more of it they want to supply.


Suppliers can't sell more of a good than buyers are willing to buy and buyers can't buy more of a good than suppliers are willing to supply, so the point where the interests of all buyers and all suppliers in a market meet determines the quantity of goods produced and what the price of each unit of that good is. This is the place where the two lines intersect and it is called equilibrium.

The Market for a Good

The total value of the market for that good is the quantity of goods sold times the price of each individual unit, which is graphically represented by the square created by the two arrows and the two axes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Tyranny of Empathy

Empathy on the Supreme Court

Even before President Obama appointed Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace Justice Souter on the United States Supreme Court, politicians and commentators were urging Obama to pick someone with empathy. He agreed that this should be a key criterion, saying:

"I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives. I view the quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes."

In order to gain more than a superficial understanding of what this rhetoric means and why it is dangerous to a free society, we will find it necessary to take "the long way around" and clarify exactly what is entailed by a civil society, a constitutional government, and the rule of law.

A Civil Society as Necessary for Human Happiness

Human beings by their very nature, require a civil society as a necessary precondition to flourish and be happy. A civil society is a society wherein all aggression of any kind is not tolerated or allowed to persist in human interactions. Aggression in this context, refers to the initiation of the use of force or violence.

So I am asserting here that the necessary precondition for human flourishing is the absence of aggression in human relationships. This is what it means to be free, and this is the kind of freedom America's Founding Fathers spoke of- freedom from aggressors who use violent force to interfere in our lives, violate our liberties, or expropriate our property.

A free human being can make voluntary choices for his or herself, and interacts with other human beings only on a voluntary basis of mutual consent. He or she is free to choose the kind of life to live, the values to hold, the goals to pursue, and the means to attain them (so long as those means are, of course, non-aggressive).

He or she is free and responsible to act according to an individual view of reality, and to suffer the consequences of that view if it is imperfect- without aggressively forcing others to share in those consequences. In such a society: the final argument is the truth and the highest judge is reality, as opposed to an uncivil society in which the final argument is force and the highest judge is the capricious whim of whomever wields that force.

Constitutional Government as Necessary for Civil Society

America's Founding Fathers understood that the chief danger to a civil society is its own guardian and protector- the government. A government maintains life, liberty, and property by acting as the trustee of each individual's right to defend himself against aggressors.

Vesting that right in a single executive is necessary for a civil society because that single government has three advantages that do not exist in what John Locke called the State of Nature- that is, the state wherein every individual is alone in defending his rights:

1) Wielding the combined force and resources of its individual constituents, the government has more power to effectively repel aggressors and maintain civil order. An individual alone may be unable to defend himself if he is outnumbered and outmatched.

2) The government can act more justly, according to a set of agreed upon standards for maintaining civil order. Any number of individuals acting alone, can misinterpret their right of self defense, and falsely derive unjust powers therefrom- a perfect example of this being a lynch mob that delivers "justice" to the accused in a fit of emotion, without due process.

3) The government can act more consistently, according to the specific prescriptions of its Constitution, duly enacted laws, and corpus of legal jurisprudence- this way every citizen can have a reasonable expectation of exactly how the government will affect his life, protect him from aggression, or deal with him if he aggresses.

Yet as mentioned above, the greatest threat to a civil society comes from the government itself, because that government holds a legal monopoly on the use of force and is therefore, prone to wield that force unlawfully and aggressively. This is why America's Founding Fathers insisted on a Constitutional Republic with an explicit Bill of Rights.

In their framework for understanding civil society, an individual has the freedom to do whatever he chooses except for the specific restrictions that bar him from aggressing against others. A government by contrast, is not allowed to do anything except for the specific powers enumerated by its constitution for the purpose of defending its constituents from aggression.

To be clear: An individual is free to do anything, with the exception of aggression, but a government is barred from doing anything, with the exception of preventing and punishing aggression.

Rule of Law as Necessary for Constitutional Government

The law is that which formally embodies and establishes the principles explicated above. Without it, a just civil order cannot exist. The law provides a framework for the government's operations, enumerates its powers, and sets its boundaries. The law codifies the principle that each human being's life is his or her own, and that he or she is not subject to the whim of those with superior numbers or strength.

Without the rule of law, a government can wield its power capriciously and to the detriment of liberty rather than for its protection. Without the rule of law, a government's actions may not be just or consistent. Without the rule of law, there is no civil society because the apparatus of government can be abused to favor some at the expense of the life, liberty, and property of others.

Imagine a society in which there is no law to which an appeal can be made, but instead your life, liberty, and property are at the mercy of a bureaucrat's whim. Imagine that this bureaucrat can dispose of them according to no criteria, but his subjective whims and emotions. Could anyone be truly free in such a society? Certainly not!

Now remember that imagining the existence of such a society is sadly unnecessary. To see a perfect specimen of this state of affairs, one need look no further than the real examples of most governments today, including, to an increasingly greater degree, that of the United States.

Empathy as Opposed to the Rule of Law

Now let us return to the question of empathy as a criterion for our nation's next Supreme Court Justice. Since Justice Souter's announcement that he would retire from the Supreme Court, Americans have been inundated with propaganda from the media and government calling for the nomination of someone with empathy.

Remember that President Obama said: "I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives. I view the quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes."

What President Obama dismisses as "abstract legal theory" are this nation's laws and jurisprudence, without which there is no Constitutional government, there is no consistency in our government's actions, there is no standard framework or equal playing field on which free men and women can interact, and there is no longer an unbiased arbiter between equals.

Instead of all these things, which are necessary to protect our freedoms, the President would substitute empathy, which he defines as "understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes." In other words, "how a person feels, and how a judge feels about that person's feelings."

The Tyranny of Empathy

The President is unambiguously advocating the administration of "subjective justice." Can there be such a thing? Is it not a contradiction in terms? Justice is necessarily objective and categorical. Either an act is lawful or it is unlawful. This can be determined by examining the law, examining the act, and determining whether the act is in violation of the law.

But instead, the President would have this nation's highest judges examine a person's life and hopes and administer justice according to subjective criteria. There can be no end to such a tyranny as will result. You will have no recourse to the law to defend yourself because the court will not be interested in "abstract legal theory."

This will mean the end of the rule of law, without which there can be no constitutional government, without which there can be no civil society, without which human flourishing and happiness can be only the exception, not the rule, and will be always at war with the authorities that hold power. It will be a cruel and merciless tyranny to suffer.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Message For Libertarians: A Reader Comment

A reader, Graham, recently left a comment on my article entitled, "Time For A Third Party? Problems With America's Two Party System." I enjoyed reading it and I think that it's definitely worth sharing with you:

A very pertinent set of observations...but one which I fear is lost on most people.

I am currently trying to find out if there is a third party that I can join, since I have concluded that the Democratic Party and the GOP are a waste of space in terms of modern governance. However, I have to say that most of what I have discovered in the third party zone is in some cases more frightening than either of the two major parties. So far I have read mostly mean-spirited and pompous bloviating that starts from the premise that anybody who does not agree with you 100% is (insert moronic broad-brush insult here).

I am not going to join forces with mean-spirited intolerant wankers, folks. Whatever their manifest faults, neither the Democratic or Republican parties generally start from the premise that prospective members are idiotic sheep needing a good dose of libertarianism. They learned a long time ago that you are more likely to capture members if you are nice to them.

Blunt summary to a lot of people in the US calling themselves libertarians: you do not meet my definition of pleasant people. If you want me to join your party, you had better start by dropping the pompous pretence to total knowledge, put down the stereotypical broad-brushes (if I hear another person describe me as a socialist I will laugh so effing loud that the walls of the house will cave in), and start, you know, actively trying to recruit me. The way that you really build organizations.

Thanks, Graham! I appreciate your willingness to challenge me and this site's readers, and your ability to do so in a way that is at once cutting and edgy, and a very genuine invitation to dialogue and self-reflection about the libertarian movement.

Let me clarify that I am not personally a registered member of the Libertarian party (or of any party) and that I consider myself to be a "libertarian" in terms of my political ideology rather than electoral party- so as Milton Friedman said, I am "a libertarian with a lower-case 'l'."

This is itself, only a matter of expediency, because most people would get confused and misunderstand if I called myself by the label that I really find most suitable for someone with my political views: a liberal.

As for this article, I do think it deserves an update, because there may be some hope yet for the Republican party and I want to clarify exactly what I mean by that. I also have hopes for a possible wave of independents over the next few election cycles. It's probably a pipe-dream, but we'll see what happens.

Most of all, I think the best, most lasting, most real way to drive change, is to change hearts and minds with the power of ideas and the power of love. As I concluded in the article, if we could just get people to understand the concept that their political understanding has been crammed into "a line" that makes no sense whatsoever, if we could just shatter this sloppy framework for thinking about government- it would be a great leap forward in establishing a truly civil and free society.

Monday, July 13, 2009

At Sotomayor Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing Senator Lindsey Graham Caves

Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing began today, and there are many things about it that have troubled me already.

To take just one, let's examine the opening remarks of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who spoke "of the need to defer to the president's nominees," saying that Obama won and "that ought to matter." He also said "that presidential elections have consequences, and he might be open to voting for [Sotomayor]."

Senator Graham seems oblivious to the system of checks and balances instituted by the U.S. Constitution. In Article II, Section 2, Paragraph 2, it says:

"[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States..."

Yes, Obama did win his election and he is the President of the United States, but Senator Graham also won his election and he is a U.S. Senator, and it is among his powers and duties as such to advise the President and to give or withhold his consent for the President's judicial nominations.

If President Obama nominates judges that Senator Graham believes will undermine rule-of-law and the U.S. Constitution, then he has a duty to withhold his consent. During his opening remarks he even acknowledged that this is how Obama viewed the process when he was a Senator. During the Alito confirmation hearing, Senator Obama said:

“There are some who believe that the president, having won the election, should have complete authority to appoint his nominee and the Senate should only examine whether the justice is intellectually capable and an all-around good guy; that once you get beyond intellect and personal character, there should be no further question as to whether the judge should be confirmed. I disagree with this view. I believe firmly that the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise and consent. I believe it calls for meaningful advice and consent and that includes an examination of a judge’s philosophy, ideology, and record.”

When he said this, Barack Obama articulated the correct view. It is always amusing and frustrating to see politicians flip-flop on Constitutional issues like this to take the view which suits them best at the moment, but it is flabbergasting to see Senator Graham take the incorrect view at a moment when it does not suit him and will not help his political cause.

Among other things, this is the kind of behavior that makes the Republican Party so impotent. This is the lack of resolve, leadership, and good statesmanship that the Republican Party cannot continue to blunder into if it wants to survive and successfully implement its platform in the American government.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

US Postal Service FAIL

Friday, I recommended an alternative stimulus package to Congress in case the push for a second round of stimulus gains momentum. Recommendation #4 was "Auction Government Assets- Like the USPS."

I explained:

A good place to start would be selling the U.S. Postal Service. In order to provide us an increasingly low-quality, poorly-managed, inefficient, and unneeded service, Americans pay billions every year to fuel and maintain the USPS fleet of over 250,000 vehicles, its huge staff (it's the third largest employer in the US), infrastructure, and operations costs.

Well a libertarian friend and former schoolmate of mine sent in this photo to illustrate my point:

Captions anyone?

Thanks for the photo, George!

Friday, July 10, 2009

An Alternative Second Stimulus Package

Photo © 2009 W. E. Messamore

Calls for a Second Stimulus Package

Amidst the wreckage of the first stimulus package, which passed this February, we are already hearing whispers and rumors about a second stimulus package, including Warren Buffet and Nancy Pelosi's guarded support for such a measure.

Instead of writing a redundant essay with arguments against a second stimulus package (which would simply rehash the same arguments I made in a Feb 1st essay entitled "Economic Folly: 7 Reasons The Stimulus Package Will Be Bad For America"), I have put together a cool, quirky, and totally effective alternative stimulus package.

If it's a second stimulus package they want, then they should pass this one. You can call it "A Conservative Stimulus Package." On second thought- the whole drug legalization part might not make it so popular among traditional conservatives. Better call it "A Libertarian Stimulus Package." I'd also be happy with something like "A Totally Awesome Stimulus Package."

Here it is:

1. Legalize Marijuana and Industrial Hemp

That's right. Repeal Federal Laws that prohibit the production, possession, and use of cannabis and industrial hemp. Many states would be emboldened to follow suit. This would integrate one of America's number one cash crops into its legal economic system, create an untold number of jobs, increase tax revenue, and sharply decrease government expenses related to the interdiction of marijuana and incarceration of offenders.

CNN's Jack Cafferty quotes a senior Harvard economist who estimates that "we spend $44 billion a year fighting the war on drugs. He says if they were legal, governments would realize about $33 billion a year in tax revenue. Net swing of $77 billion." And remember, that's just the net gain on the government's balance sheet- that's the icing on top of all the economic growth and job creation that legalization would allow to happen.

Have a problem with that Mr. President? Madame Speaker? Insert all the scary, santimonious fearmongering about how jobs are being lost and we absolutely must act here --> [ ]. Wasn't that convincing? Now get your people to start drafting the bill!

2. Normalize Trade With Cuba

When President Obama reached out to Cuban leaders at the "Summit of the Americas" this April and lifted travel restrictions on Americans with families in Cuba, Fidel and Raul Castro criticized him by saying that he hadn't gone far enough. Cuba is clearly interested in opening up economic relations and would respond favorably to a repeal of the U.S. embargo- and lifting it would be a major boon to the American economy.

Just think of what it would do for cigar retail alone. Then imagine the kind of lucrative contracts hotel chains and construction companies would score to help turn Cuba into the tourist paradise it once was, and should be, and could be again! And consider what an end to the embargo would do for America's struggling airline industry.

They say that obesity-related conditions create a huge drag on the economy and the rising price of health care: In addition to lifting the embargo, the U.S. should end all import quotas on sugar cane from the Caribbean. Almost overnight, this would radically change how we sweeten our food and help put an end to the high-fructose corn syrup cartel that has fattened its wallets by fattening American children for years.

Mr. Obama is hesitant to lift the embargo however, arguing that "The Cuban people aren’t free and that’s our lodestone, our north star when it comes to our policy in Cuba." Okay- so as long as the Cuban people aren't free, the only rational course of action is to restict the travel, trade, and production of U.S. citizens and thereby make us less free too? Not to mention less wealthy and prosperous? Not to mention that the embargo makes Cuba even less free?

Trading with the Cuban people does not endorse their government's shortcomings- it undermines and subverts their government's shortcomings. If we had been trading with Cuba all along these past couple decades, enough of them might be using Twitter right now to elect a different president. I'm only half-joking.

3. Drill in ANWR and Offshore

According to the U.S. Geological Survey's mean estimate, there are 10.4 billion barrels of crude oil and natural gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Oil prices are pretty volatile, so let's just pick a nice round number and say that at $50/barrel that means we are not even touching $520,000,000,000 worth of oil just sitting there waiting for us to get to it!

That's right, this number: $520,000,000,000. If oil is running at $100/barrel, then it's twice that amount and more than one trillion dollars, this number: $1,040,000,000,000. Yeah. That's a whole stimulus package worth of money that could be in the economy, but it's not because of the porcupine caribou. I haven't even mentioned, by the way, all the oil waiting for us in offshore reserves on several American coastlines.

There is no rational justification for keeping that much wealth out of the hands of the American people who are struggling and losing jobs at a dizzying pace, for the sake of a plot of land no bigger than the Dulles Airport in a wildlife refuge the size of South Carolina.

4. Auction Government Assets- Like the USPS

The government should also sell off a lot of its assets for fast cash now and permanent reductions in annual expenses. For instance, two lawmakers in Minnesota "are asking the state's legislature to consider a proposal that would sell to private firms the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, along with other state property and programs, in an effort to bring in roughly $6 billion or more."

It's a brilliant idea. The Federal government should sell off its mismanaged assets that lose money and don't create value for the American people. This will give it an instant shot of cash to pump back into the economy (in the form of lower taxes, not corporate bailouts!) while creating value for the private companies that purchase these assets. It will also save on the future yearly costs of maintaining them.

A good place to start would be selling the U.S. Postal Service. In order to provide us an increasingly low-quality, poorly-managed, inefficient, and unneeded service, Americans pay billions every year to fuel and maintain the USPS fleet of over 250,000 vehicles, its huge staff (it's the third largest employer in the US), infrastructure, and operations costs.

"Mail service is becoming slower, more expensive, and less reliable. The United States Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) is probably the worst managed and one of the least honest corporations in America." These words were written in a Cato Institute policy analysis in 1985! How much truer do these words ring in the Internet age and as the USPS continues to lose market share to FedEx, UPS, and electronic communication?

5. Privatize Social Security

The net present value of privatizing Social Security is estimated to be as much as $20,000,000,000,000. The historical data on countries that have privatized their government run pension-systems promises us great reward if we follow their example. When Chile made this revolutionary reform to its own government pension system in 1980, the results after 15 years were exemplary:

Pensions in the new private system already are 50 to 100 percent higher--depending on whether they are old-age, disability, or survivor pensions--than they were in the pay-as-you-go system. The resources administered by the private pension funds amount to $25 billion, or around 40 percent of GNP as of 1995.

By improving the functioning of both the capital and the labor markets, pension privatization has been one of the key reforms that has pushed the growth rate of the economy upwards from the historical 3 percent a year to 6.5 percent on average during the last 12 years. It is also a fact that the Chilean savings rate has increased to 27 percent of GNP and the unemployment rate has decreased to 5.0 percent since the reform was undertaken.

Congress should give workers the option to put their money in their own, personal, private account. They'll have the assurance that the government can't spend their money. They'll also have the opportunity to grow their savings by investing it and they'll be fuelling economic growth in the process, injecting productive capital into the economy.

6. Radically Reduce Federal Spending

The US government spent more in 2008 alone than it did during the entire 19th century! Even worse, if the US Federal government cut its 2009 budget by the amount of spending it did during the entire 19th century- it would barely even make a dent.

Current spending levels are simply outrageous. There can be no wonder that the US economy has struggled under the weight of so much debt and withered from the starvation of so much confiscated capital. Congress needs to cut taxes, but in order to do so, it must drastically reduce spending!

How do we get government spending reasonable again? A good start would be to cap Federal spending at a level from a previous year. For instance, Federal spending in 2011 is presently estimated at $3,623,000,000,000.

Congress should act to cap Federal spending at say, 2005 levels, spending no more than $2,472,200,000,000. Remember 2005? That wasn't very long ago at all. It wasn't so bad, right? The whole world didn't fall apart because we weren't spending the amount we're spending today, right?

Yet by capping spending at that level, we would eliminate over a trillion dollars in government waste- effectively creating a trillion dollar stimulus every year, year after year after year (if we continue to keep spending down, that is). What will have to get cut to make this happen?

To begin with, all corporate welfare. There is no reason whatsoever that government should ever take money from taxpayers and give it to corporations and businesses. No more bailouts, no more corporate handouts, no more arguments. Period.

We would also have to start eliminating waste from all the departments and agencies in the executive branch. Frankly, we should begin phasing some of them out entirely because they are unnecessary and/or unconstitutional elements of our Federal government, among these: The Departments of Education, Energy, and Homeland Security.

We should also slim down the Department of Health and Human Services by reforming our entitlement system the way America did in the 1990s through a bipartisan act of a Republican Congress and Democrat Administration. Last of all, the Department of Defense is guilty of a lot of wasteful spending and needs to have its budget cut too.

7. Pass Measures To Prevent Future Economic Meltdowns

After digging ourselves out of this hole, we need to make sure we don't ever fall into it again. A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution would help. An audit of the Federal Reserve would be a step in the right direction. A bill requiring Congressmen to read legislation before voting for it would help keep government slim and sane. These would all be good starts.


Pass a stimulus bill with the above provisions- and I bet you a big fat wad of Federal Reserve Notes that the U.S. economy would start to absolutely boom in no time. So what are you waiting for? Take this message to the streets and be sure to e-mail this article to your Representatives in Congress!

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New Issues Page

Okay, I have put up an issues page here, but it is still a work in progress.

Feel free to read and enjoy. You can also comment (though you'll have to do so on this post, not on the issues page itself). I'll eventually put a link to this in the sidebar, but not until I am much happier with it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Changes at The Humble Libertarian

Alrighty folks- I have some great news! I am in the process of taking over responsibilities as the Deputy Treasurer for a Political Action Committee (you'll hear all about it when our new website goes live, hopefully later this month). You can be sure however, that I will continue writing great content on a regular and frequent basis here at THL.

The cool thing about it is that I feel like my electoral activism has dominated a disproportionate amount of the content here lately, and I would like to get back to some very deep, analytical-type essays about policy and the proper role of government.

So a lot of my work and writing with respect to libertarian candidates and electoral activism will likely move to the new PAC website, while I continue to write political essays and keep you updated on other news here at The Humble Libertarian.

I have lots of good articles in store for you and you will likely notice a marked difference in the style of content over the next month. I am also putting together an issues page tonight, which I will hopefully have completed and linked to by tomorrow.

That said, please share your thoughts, feelings, and suggestions about the nature of the content here. What have you liked and not liked? Have you actually preferred the posts I've been doing lately? Will you be glad to see me get back to the kind of writing I was originally doing more of here? Would some balance between these suit you better? Just let me know!

Charging Forward,
-W. E. Messamore

PS: I updated my favicon (I tried this multiple times before and failed- it finally worked for me tonight.)! If it's not showing up in your browser and you'd like to see it, clearing your cache may help (particularly for IE).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hollywood Celebrities Reading The Declaration of Independence - Intro by Morgan Freeman

The Fourth of July holiday is coming up tomorrow, when Americans will celebrate the signing of their Declaration of Independence from Britain.

The following is an excellent video of the Declaration of Independence being read by several notable Hollywood actors. The performance is introduced by Morgan Freeman, who retells the magnificent story of the Declaration's signing. The music is by John Williams. Here goes:

Now wasn't that pretty neat? Beats this.

Hat tip: Daryl

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Another Tea Party Already?

Legislative Plaza, Downtown Nashville at 12:00 pm CDT on June 29, 2009

Audio courtesy of TweetMic

That's right- Nashville, TN is hosting not one, not two, but three different tea parties this week because we're that angry at our government's recklessness with our money, lives, and future!

Today from 4:00 - 8:30 pm CDT, I'll be there live tweeting the event again like I did at the one on Monday. Drop back by the Humble Libertarian from 4 to 8:30, and I'll have a live widget at the top of the page displaying my tweets, or check out my twitter account.

You can interact with me and comment by tweeting to @thehuli or using the Humble Libertarian hashtag: #THL

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Liberty in 2010 - Adam Kokesh's and Rand Paul's Moneybomb Dates (July 4th / August 20th)

Some announcements related to all the great liberty candidates on the field for 2010:
  1. Don't Forget Kokesh's July 4th Moneybomb
  2. Rand Paul's June 29th Moneybomb a Success
  3. Rand Paul's August 20th Moneybomb in the Works

1. Don't forget Adam Kokesh's moneybomb on July 4th.

2. Rand Paul's campaign raised another $25,000
in one day on June 29th. Thanks so much for all your support in making that a success!

This last moneybomb pushed Rand over $100,000 in total donations after only a little over a month as an official exploratory committee, and just in time for an FEC reporting deadline on the 30th.

Says Rand about the moneybomb:

A correction: When I promoted the moneybomb in a post last month, I mistakenly credited Chris Southworth with conceiving of the June 29th bomb. He graciously commented and e-mailed me to let me know of my mistake and to inform me that the June 29th moneybomb was in fact the brainchild of Wes Collins.

Congrats on the successful moneybomb Wes! And nice name!

3. The Big One! The Aug. 20th Rand Paul MoneyBomb

This has been in the works for a while now. Especially after these last two moneybomb successes, grassroots organizers in the Rand Paul camp have been trying to pin down the perfect date for the biggest moneybomb yet- one that would be planned far enough in advance to get enough people together to drop a big one- to raise one million dollars in one day for Rand Paul's Senate campaign!

Finally, I decided to look up a few important dates to figure out what would best fit our time frame- and I came up with Congressman Ron Paul's birthday: August 20th. After talking to some of the big time organizers that have had the online and networking artillery power to make the past two moneybombs a success, all agreed that this would be the best date for it.

So you heard it here first: the $1,000,000 Rand Paul Moneybomb will be on August 20th. Start chattering about it and creating some buzz! Today I was on the phone with the man who created the successful Nov. 5th 2007 moneybomb for Ron Paul's presidential campaign, and he is working right now to get up the "official" grassroots site for Rand's million dollar moneybomb.

I'll link to it as soon as it's ready. In the meantime, the graphic above is your sneak peak of how it will look- because I had the honor of doing the graphic design for it today.

Tea Party Merch Contest Winners

Congrats to Deborah in Las Vegas for winning the grand prize in the Tea Party Merchandise contest (a 6' by 3' vinyl sign that says "Born Free, but Taxed to Death!").

Congrats to Frank in Massachusetts for winning third place (a bumper sticker of his choice from the online store of the Humble Libertarian). He chose the "I Wont Tread On You" design. Very nice.

Haven't heard back from the second place winner yet. E-mail me!

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