The Libertarian Standard » Michael Barnett Property - Prosperity - Peace Tue, 10 Nov 2015 07:28:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A new website and group blog of radical Austro-libertarians, shining the light of reason on truth and justice. The Libertarian Standard clean The Libertarian Standard (The Libertarian Standard) CC-BY Property - Prosperity - Peace The Libertarian Standard » Michael Barnett TV-G Is that offensive? Mon, 16 Aug 2010 06:30:41 +0000 The title of this of this blog blurb should be read in the same voice as George Costanza’s as he asks his boss in the following clip, “Was that wrong?”

The brouhaha over the proposed construction of an Islamic center near Ground Zero exemplifies the scary stupidity of the boorish American rubes who are so easily manipulated by their elected masters and the vacuous, complicit media. Why, it’s “offensive”, “insensitive”, and intended to cause emotional anguish, don’t you know! Building an Islamic center (whatever that is) near Ground Zero is “offensive”, “insensitive”, and designed to cause emotional anguish in the same way that building American military bases and a 104 acre “Embassy” in Iraq would be… if 9/11 had killed 12 million Americans and the Islamic center were being run by Al-Qaeda. The hypocrisy displayed here by the hoi polloi and the rabble-rousers who tell them what to think is nauseating.

Americans who are feeling really sensitive about the proposed Islamic center at Ground Zero should accept this gift from the Afghan and Iraqi people...

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A Government Program Which Works? Thu, 05 Aug 2010 17:28:31 +0000

Apparently 13.2% of you have some of these in your wallet.

Is it possible? Has free-market anarchist and Austrian School Economist Michael Barnett finally discovered a government program which appears to be achieving its stated goals? Yes, my friends, I think I actually may have done just that. Now look, I understand that correlation does not imply causation, but I think there’s a strong case to be made here. I’m talking, of course, about the multitude of state and federal outreach efforts over the last two years to spread awareness of and encourage participation in Food Stamps Programs. Record numbers of Americans are receiving food stamp assistance now, more than ever before. Illinois, Oregon, Florida, and Idaho are just four of many US states which have never had so many people dependent on government to feed them. I wanted to make a play on the words “superpower” and “soup lines” (souperlines? souperpower?) to describe America’s new position in the world, but my joke writers aren’t as good as Jay Leno’s.

The world's only souperpower? See, it just doesn't work.

Specifically, according to the US Department of Agriculture 40.8 million Americans are recipients of “supplemental nutrition assistance.” Subsidies for food purchases jumped 19 percent from a year earlier and increased 0.9 percent from April. Participation has set records for 18 straight months. Well, there’s an economy in recovery! I think a little perspective is in order.

Suppose we created a new country out of every recipient of government food assistance programs in the US and named it The Stiglitzian Commonwealth of Krugmania. This new Commonwealth would be tied with Kenya as the 32nd most populous country. It would have more citizens than (in no order) Argentina, Sudan, Poland, Iraq, Venezuela, and Malaysia, just to name a few. It would have twice or more as many citizens as Chile, Niger, Netherlands, Cameroon, Angola, Cambodia, and Kazakhstan just to name a handful of the more than 160 countries which would fall into this category. But what about America’s Neighbor-to-the North? The United States has 6.5 million more people relying on food stamps than Canada has people period. My first instinct is to call that hilarious, but as that comparison sinks in, it’s rather revolting. This must be the economic recovery I kept hearing about.

Don’t despair, people. Let’s not forget the silver lining I launched this post with: we may just have discovered a government program which achieves its stated goals. That’s something, I guess.

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Look out for that bus! Sat, 31 Jul 2010 13:53:25 +0000 Pop quiz: What do Rod Blagojevich, Forrest Claypool, Samantha Power, Jim Johnson, Louis Farrakhan, Bernadine Dohrn, William Ayers, Tony Rezko, Trinity United Church of Christ, Father Michael Pfleger, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Alice Palmer, and the Armenians all have in common?

Give up?

Answer: Barack Obama has thrown them all under the bus at some point.

Faustian Bargains: you're safer making them with the devil than with Obama.

Hey, Charles Rangel: welcome to the party, pal!

Barry and Charlie, best friends forev... DOH!

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Statists are a virus Fri, 23 Jul 2010 15:37:35 +0000

I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify statists and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you statists do not. You move to an area and you tax and regulate until every natural resource is ruined and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Statists beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. (Apologies to Agent Smith.)

His political positions and personal life are even less coordinated than he is.

In the former Soviet Union, which is a workable model for forecasting where the United States is headed, there were de facto two sets of rules: one set for the proletariat and another for the Politburo. Nothing exceptional about that, of course, as the political class always enjoys privileges which the masses do not — it’s been that way since, well, the inception of government. The Romans even had an adage to describe this inequality before the law: quod licet jovi non licet bovi (What is permitted for the gods is not permitted for the cattle). Lovely, huh?

Well, in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, it’s worth noting that there are still jovi and bovi as evinced in today’s news that Senator John Kerry docks his new yacht in Rhode Island in order to avoid the colossal tax bill he’d have to pay in Massachusetts. From the article:

Sen. John Kerry, who has repeatedly voted to raise taxes while in Congress, dodged a whopping six-figure state tax bill on his new multimillion-dollar yacht by mooring her in Newport, R.I. Isabel – Kerry’s luxe, 76-foot New Zealand-built Friendship sloop with an Edwardian-style, glossy varnished teak interior, two VIP main cabins and a pilothouse fitted with a wet bar and cold wine storage – was designed by Rhode Island boat designer Ted Fontaine.

But instead of berthing the vessel in Nantucket, where the senator summers with the missus, Teresa Heinz, Isabel’s hailing port is listed as “Newport” on her stern. Could the reason be that the Ocean State repealed its Boat Sales and Use Tax back in 1993, making the tiny state to the south a haven – like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Nassau – for tax-skirting luxury yacht owners? Cash-strapped Massachusetts still collects a 6.25 percent sales tax and an annual excise tax on yachts. Sources say Isabel sold for something in the neighborhood of $7 million, meaning Kerry saved approximately $437,500 in sales tax and an annual excise tax of about $70,000.

The senior senator’s chief of staff David Wade denied the old salt was berthing his boat out of state to avoid ponying up to the commonwealth. “The boat was designed by and purchased from a company in Rhode Island, and it’s based in Newport at the Newport Shipyard for long-term maintenance, upkeep and charter purposes, not tax reasons,” Wade told the Track. And state Department of Revenue spokesguy Bob Bliss confirmed the senator “is under no obligation to pay the commonwealth sales tax.”

Well, since he’s not docking the yacht in Rhode Island to avoid the taxes, why doesn’t he go ahead and pay Massachusetts what he’d have to if he were docking it there? David Wade is 12 times more likely to drown in his bowl of Cheerios at breakfast tomorrow than Kerry is of paying Mass. for that yacht.

Which brings us back to the double standard which is omnipresent with these guys. Public schools are good enough for your kids, but their kids attend the finest private schools in the country. You can get by using a small, energy efficient house with minimal air conditioning, but they’re gonna go ahead and own 3 or 4 or 5 energy-guzzling mansions. Feel free to get yourself a Smart Car or avail yourself of “public transportation”, but they’re gonna fly around in private jets or sail their massive yachts. Do you live in an exclusive, gated neighborhood or compound with private security? They do — and they have servants’ quarters, too. And most importantly, you pay the oppressive tax rates they burden you with, but they always find a loophole for themselves, like the yacht fiasco cited here or the Kennedy family trusts. Typical plutocrat behavior. Quod licet jovi non livet bovi.

The pertinence of the quote I launched this post with is via the observation that Kerry and his ilk have so ruined Massachusetts that he opts to maintain (some of) his significant assets outside of that state. I hope Rhode Islanders are paying attention. Here comes the virus.

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Was it worth it? Sun, 23 May 2010 08:25:25 +0000 Well, as predicted (by me), in pursuit of one of Connecticut’s US Senate seats, Peter Schiff wasted a lot of time and money, and was forced to refrain from making several television appearances on financial news programs (due to campaign laws). He placed an embarrassing third:

Former professional wrestling maven Linda McMahon capped an improbable entry into politics Friday night when she captured the Republican Party endorsement for the U.S. Senate during a raucous Republican convention at the Connecticut Convention Center.

McMahon edged former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons after dozens of delegates switched their votes at the conclusion of the first ballot. She received 737 votes to 632 for Simmons and 44 for economist Peter Schiff.

(Heroic libertarian Glen Jacobs aka Kane demonstrates that in the fantasy world libertarians can beat down neoconservatives; too bad that doesn’t hold for the real world.)

It’s amazing that Schiff, someone who sees economic reality so clearly, is so clueless about the political reality: libertarians are a miniscule percentage of the population, maybe 1 in every 10,000. Austrian School economists are even less populous, maybe 50,000 globally, and that’s being charitable. Ron Paul regularly wins his tiny little district in the enormous state of Texas, but he doesn’t win because of his economic and political leanings; he wins despite them: he wins on character (something that’s possible to do in a narrow enough, localized election).

Libertarians and Austrian School economists are hopelessly outnumbered in the political arena. There will never be a libertarian president. Never. Congress will never be packed with enough libertarians to make any significant policy shifts slowing down the growth of the nanny-police state. Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve, for instance, had 320 sponsors out of 435 Representatives in the House. Despite this, it was completely obliterated in the Senate, with a watered down version proposed by an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, passing instead. Enjoy this video:

But take heart, libertarians and Austrian School economists, Sanders’ amendment only passed 96-0. Let me tell you politically active libertarians something: you’re not being pragmatic by participating in the political process — campaigning, voting, arguing for some candidate on the internet; you’re demonstrating colossal ignorance. You’re marking yourself as a rube. Honestly, don’t you people understand the concept of opportunity cost? Sad.

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“The plan’s perfect… it will work this time” Wed, 12 May 2010 19:33:36 +0000 Back when Barack Hussein Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for telling the Armenians to get over it (genocide at the hands of the Turks), I cautioned that “The continuing collapse of Western Civilization is going to produce a multitude of similar ridiculousnesses, so be prepared.

Well, today I watched one such unintentionally hilarious (and notably revolting) “ridiculousness”: a John McCain television ad encouraging completion of “the danged fence.” In case you haven’t seen it or you have but want another snicker at McCain’s expense, here it is:

I often wonder the process by which commercials and political ads with such phony, contrived premises are approved for release to media markets. Does anyone really take seriously an actor dressed in doctor’s garb explaining the health benefits of the drug he or she is touting? Is this ridiculous, pretend, scripted conversation between McCain and some (possibly authentic) jack-booted tax leech any different? I picture some advisor or media consultant pitching the idea to his team, and instead of being laughed out of the room, those around the table exclaim, “Oh yeah! That will work!” and the project leader green-lights it with a confident “Let’s make it happen!” Somehow the commercial makes its way past the politician’s consultants and advisors without being vetoed, and finds itself in front of a focus group which… responds favorably? Unbelievable. I find such ads insulting prima facie. The contrived nature of the commercial combined with the claim that “the plan’s perfect” and “it will work this time” comprise its “hilarious” aspect.

The revolting aspect, of course, is the call to militarize the border (with National Guard troops), add another 3000 Border Patrol Agents, and wall up the border. This “perfect plan” fits with what I warned about in this post, specifically:

If there is one thing every libertarian should know about government it’s that government cannot efficiently or effectively perform any “service” without resorting to totalitarian police-statism. When the government minimizes costs (don’t laugh), it performs at woefully substandard levels. Think of the levees around New Orleans which failed during Hurricane Katrina, for instance. For adequate quality of service, for instance the Hoover Dam or those stretches of elevated interstate cutting through the marshes and swamps of Louisiana (very fine work), the government has to overpay enormously. The systemic defects inherent in government bureaucracy cannot be overcome, as they are due (mostly) to the absence of a profit motive. The government simply cannot provide quality services at market prices; often, the government cannot provide quality service at any price. What the government can do, however, is provide brutality very cheaply, for a while.

This isn’t to say that the United States doesn’t have an immigration problem. It does; or rather, it has a problem which the mass-invasion of the Mexican lower class exacerbates, namely the massive welfare state. “Fighting immigration” is simply another misguided, alleged “solution” to yet another unintended consequence of government interventionism. It’s stunning that Americans haven’t learned how dangerous it is to empower the government to “make them safer”, given the War on Drugs, which has left the Bill of Rights decimated, led to the incarceration of more citizens than any other country (both nominally and per capita), and taken the lives of many innocent people and their pets:

It’s certainly delusional to believe that militarizing the border won’t lead to similar atrocities — violations of person and property — and for what? All this so that the insidious welfare state doesn’t have to be dismantled? How sad.

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Parsing Political Language: Is Obama an Inveterate Liar? Thu, 22 Apr 2010 07:56:20 +0000 With the news breaking today that “Obama suggests value-added tax may be an option,” many of my fellow libertarians are going to pat themselves on the back while (cynically) claiming that the President has broken yet another campaign promise and is, therefore, a liar. They’re wrong, of course. Politicians don’t lie. They speak precisely. Libertarians need to pay closer attention to what politicians actually say instead of misinterpreting what was said. Remember too that all language is metaphorical and definitions can vary for any word. Here’s master-linguist William Jefferson Clinton explaining it much more concisely than I:

Eat your heart out, Derrida.

Libertarians will tell you that Obama made a firm pledge not to raise taxes on any family making less than $250,000 per year. This is false. Here is the actual video:

He chose his words precisely.

Transcription: “And I can make a firm pledge: under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase, not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

Let’s take a look at the language there: “He can make a pledge” that no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.” Note that he didn’t make a pledge; rather, he said he can make a pledge. Simple statement of fact. I believe him. It’s not difficult to make a pledge. All he has to do is say, “I pledge…” followed by the pledge. He didn’t say that. If that’s not enough to settle the issue for you, he said “no family”. Well, what’s a family? Don’t even try to define family. I could present you with 40 different definitions for family off the top of my head. It’s impossible, therefore, precisely to know whom he was referring to in this non-pledge. Not convinced yet? Well, he said “making less than $250,000 a year.” But, see, my father (a brilliant economist) taught me when I was a child that it’s imprecise to talk about “making money”. You know who makes money? The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing and other counterfeiters. What productive people do is “earn money”. Understand the difference? Finally, the non-defined families which counterfeit “less than $250,000 a year” that he’s describing in his non-pledge won’t “see” any form of tax increase. They might “experience” it. They’ll certainly pay it. They just won’t “see” it.

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Anti-immigration libertarians are treading in dangerous waters Fri, 16 Apr 2010 16:13:31 +0000

There's only one way for government to effectively secure its borders.

In a perfect world (Ancapistan/Libertopia), say libertarians who want to restrict immigration, we could have open borders. For one thing, they say, all property would be privatized, so it would be up to individuals to decide who will be allowed to traverse their land, roads, and waterways. Furthermore, they explain, there would be no massive welfare state encouraging the neighboring country’s proletariat to immigrate for all the freebies. There would be no arbitrary government rules about “natural born citizenry” which encourage pregnant mothers to try to birth their babies on American (that’s the country we’re talking about here, after all) soil thus securing the right to live in America for their child, and by extension (since it’s inhumane to break up the mother-child family unit) their right to live there as well.

Now, I’ve seen libertarians argue that the Mexicans (let’s face it, that’s really whom we’re talking about) who cross the border illegally are mostly looking for the freebies, and I’ve seen libertarians argue that the Mexicans who cross the border illegally are mostly looking for work which Americans don’t want to do themselves (like picking lettuce all day in fields of pesticide). Who’s right? I haven’t a clue. I’m sure the American welfare state is very enticing to the neighboring poor. I’m sure without it, there’d be less immigration from Mexico. But none of this matters to me. I’m not even going to make the pro-liberty argument which by definition is against government controlled borders.

What I want to do is concede all of the above arguments to the anti-immigration libertarians. Let’s assume that an enormous welfare state requires heavily regulated or possibly even closed borders. I don’t believe this to be the case, but let’s stipulate that it is. Now what? What are these libertarians implicitly assuming?

That the government can efficiently and effectively manage the borders. If there is one thing every libertarian should know about government it’s that government cannot efficiently or effectively perform any “service” without resorting to totalitarian police-statism. When the government minimizes costs (don’t laugh), it performs at woefully substandard levels. Think of the levees around New Orleans which failed during Hurricane Katrina, for instance. For adequate quality of service, for instance the Hoover Dam or those stretches of elevated interstate cutting through the marshes and swamps of Louisiana (very fine work), the government has to overpay enormously. The systemic defects inherent in government bureaucracy cannot be overcome, as they are due (mostly) to the absence of a profit motive. The government simply cannot provide quality services at market prices; often, the government cannot provide quality service at any price. What the government can do, however, is provide brutality very cheaply, for a while.

So, while the government won’t be able to build proper border walls at a reasonable price, what it can do is man whatever type of walls it does build (cheap, low quality walls, or massively overpriced, high quality walls) with soldiers who have orders to shoot-on-sight and ask questions later, if at all. Tossing several thousand mines outside those walls wouldn’t cost much either — we could describe it as brutally efficient. Why not require every citizen to carry government identification cards and make the penalty for failure to comply (accidental or intentional) very severe? We have examples of countries which have managed to secure their borders effectively (for the most part). I’ll name three: The former Soviet Union, North Korea, Cuba. Governments which haven’t degenerated into police states just cannot accomplish it.

So I pose this question to those libertarians who claim that as long as we have a colossal welfare state, we must have strict immigration controls: what’s your libertarian plan for accomplishing this?

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That vaunted liberal tolerance Thu, 15 Apr 2010 16:08:49 +0000

Pro-Tax = Pro-War + Pro-Prison

First things first: Happy Tax Day to all my friends still living in the United States! And for those of you upset or angry about paying “your fair share” (which, incidentally, is only 43% of you), I’d like to remind you that thousands of Wall Street bankers, UAW “workers”, mortgage defaulters, and other welfare recipients are relying on you to pay their way. If that’s not enough to put a smile on your face, remember that you’re also financing the American Empire’s military adventures in the Middle East which make you safer and could not possible result in blowback (according to Sean Hannity and Rudy Giuliani). So, there’s that.

Speaking of taxes, here’s a left-wing career tax leech (public “school” teacher) demonstrating how tolerant liberals are of varying view points:

[Jason] Levin, the media teacher at Conestoga Middle School in Beaverton, is the leader of a group that says it wants to infiltrate and bring down the loosely organized anti-big-government Tea Party movement.

He has said he would seek to embarrass Tea Partiers by attending their rallies dressed as Adolf Hitler, carrying signs bearing racist, sexist and anti-gay epithets, and acting as offensively as possible — anything short of throwing punches.

In a now deleted post on his “Crash the Tea Party” Web site, Levin called on his supporters to collect the Social Security numbers — among other personal identifying information — about as many Tea Party supporters as possible at the numerous rallies scheduled to take place on Thursday – Tax Day.

“Some other thoughts are to ask people at the rally to sign a petition renouncing socialism. See just how much info you can get from these folks (name address, DOB, Social Security #). The more data we can mine from the Tea Partiers, the more mayhem we can cause with it!!!!” he wrote.

If you want smaller government and lower taxes, you are this avowed statist’s archnemesis — he really hates you. Shouldn’t liberals oppose the Empire’s wars in the Middle East, the bailouts and wealth transfers to Wall Street, the domestic spying programs, and the world’s largest prison system (population measured either way: in total and per capita), all of which are funded by taxes (either current or “borrowed” against future generations)? Sure, it’s possible this guy just lacks discernment, but that doesn’t justify his slimy scheme.

The silver lining here is that the Tea Party contingent can use this as evidence that their ranks are being infiltrated by pro-tax, pro-war, pro-prison leftists as the media continue to paint them as racists, bigots, and homophobes.

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Re: Rekindling my hatred for Republicans Tue, 13 Apr 2010 09:58:53 +0000


The War on Drugs is one of the most  insidious, racist policies I can imagine, Rob. It’s the allegedly “unintended” consequences which create the kind of havoc in the black community that the staunchest racists could never have accomplished with a free hand to terrorize blacks. The only other policy nearly as destructive to blacks is the government “school” system. And consider that taken together, these policies create a brutal one-two punch on black males. By operating a “school” system which makes it virtually impossible for urban black males to become educated, the most entrepreneurial of that demographic are wiped out in the drug war, either via murder at the hands of fellow black entrepreneurs, murder at the hands of state agents enforcing the prohibition on drugs, or imprisonment in the state’s torture-and-rape institutions. These are the guys who, in a world without the nanny-police state, would be the risk-takers, starting businesses and peacefully satisfying consumers’ wants. Racists must love seeing them killed or imprisoned! I suppose those urban black males with a spectacular talent in sports or the arts, as well as those who can rap well, have a shot of escaping the reservations called “housing projects” blacks have been gathered into by government over the last few generations, but for the average urban black male, joining the military and going to war is probably less stressful than just trying to survive.

Really, I can visualize the long-dead Southern slave-masters  looking up from Hell, tapping their fingers together in glee a la Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons.

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