The Libertarian Standard » The Basics http://libertarianstandard.com Property - Prosperity - Peace Thu, 16 Oct 2014 23:30:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 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 thelibertarianstandard@gmail.com thelibertarianstandard@gmail.com (The Libertarian Standard) CC-BY Property - Prosperity - Peace libertarianism, anarchism, capitalism, free markets, liberty, private property, rights, Mises, Rothbard, Rand, antiwar, freedom The Libertarian Standard » The Basics http://libertarianstandard.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://libertarianstandard.com/category/basics/ TV-G Against the Libertarian Cold War http://libertarianstandard.com/2014/03/26/against-the-libertarian-cold-war/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2014/03/26/against-the-libertarian-cold-war/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:54:17 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=13428 A controversy has arisen in the libertarian movement over the proper approach to the events concerning Russia, Ukraine, and Crimea. Like many such controversies, it has quickly polarized almost everyone, and has served as a proxy for long-standing factionalism within the movement. People quickly accuse each other of supporting Putin’s aggression or backing violent U.S. intervention. I myself have been accused of both kissing up to the Russian regime and dishing out State Department propaganda. This doesn’t itself show I have the right balance in my position, only that this feud has galvanized libertarians and hardened their rhetorical loyalties.

We might learn something from looking back at the 20th century. During the Cold War, most western critics of state power erred too far in one direction or the other. There were some whose opposition to U.S. wars led them to soften their assessment of communist aggression. Free-market and leftist lovers of peace both made this mistake. At the same time, many who favored economic and political liberty often let their anti-communism translate into support for American militarism and the security state. This confusion pervaded Americans across the spectrum.

We can all see this now: Yes, some antiwar Americans were obscenely soft on the communists. Well-meaning but foolish westerners said nice things about Lenin, Stalin, and Mao—and many of a more moderate tinge had no perspective of just how much worse international communism was than the U.S. system, at least as it concerned domestic affairs. Meanwhile, many libertarians and almost all conservatives ditched their supposed attachment to skepticism of government power and signed onto the U.S. Cold War effort. This American project included dozens of coups and interventions, the instruction of foreign secret police in unspeakable torture techniques, murderous carpet bombings that killed hundreds of thousands of peasants, and wars that indirectly brought about the Khmer Rouge and the rise of Islamist fundamentalism, both of which also became directly funded in the name of anti-communism.

It is easy to look back and see how westerners were wrong on both the Cold War and communist states—each of which killed millions of people and nearly brought the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust.

The stakes were so much higher then than in anything going on with Russia now. Imprecision in one’s moral assessment—either in defense of Nixon or Tito—was far more condemnable than criticizing Putin or Obama too harshly. The errors of almost all the great 20th century libertarians, free marketers, and peaceniks far exceeded any errors some might have today in their appraisal of NATO or Russia and Ukraine. And yet we forgive many people on both sides of that Cold War division. No one today actually thinks Hayek was a neocon or Rothbard a pinko.

Today’s polarization is all the more frustrating given that the bulk of American libertarians seem to agree on two major points: (1) the U.S. should not intervene in Eastern Europe and (2) Putin’s various power grabs are indefensible. Thus, most libertarians are not truly as divided as well-meaning Americans were in the Cold War.

Now, one’s emphasis is important. Not all acts of aggression are equal. But before addressing that, it’s useful to try to actually understand the splits in the movement right now.

I easily identify four factions, not two: (A) There are people who outright defend Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and Crimea, and who otherwise downplay his autocratic tendencies; (B) There are those who agree that Putin is worth condemning, but who think it’s more important to emphasize the evils of U.S. interventionism; (C) There are those who agree that U.S. intervention is unwise and maybe even unethical, but who think it’s most important right now to emphasize Putin’s despotism; (D) There are those who outright favor U.S. and western intervention to stop Putin.

The polarization of discussion has led to A and B teaming up against C and D. It has also led to people in the B camp pretending like “no one” on their side is actually defending Putin, while people in the C camp are pretending “no one” on their side is actually calling for war or major U.S. interventions.

A principled opponent of state power is tempted to say that in fact B and C are on one side, despite differences in emphasis, and A and D are two extremes flirting with nationalist statism. This is my position, although I will say that I have friends—good friends—who flirt with being in camp A as well as in camp D. It happens. And to make the point again, during the Cold War, any libertarian activist would have probably had some friends who advocated nuclear strikes against the USSR, and others who supported Soviet control of the Eastern Bloc. Both of these positions would have been completely immoral and disgusting—far worse than anything said by anyone in Camp A or Camp D today. Yet today’s Cold War replay is leading people to defriend each other in the name of Manichean struggle. The tendency of people to break ties with others over this will only increase the polarization and erode mutual understanding.

On the other hand, camps A and D are at least being outright in their positions, while B and C are letting themselves get dragged into a flame war against each other when they both agree on both Putin’s and America’s actions. Both B and C are being disingenuous about some of their allies in the attempt to seem reasonable and principled and to say the other side is the only one that’s unbalanced.

In both cases, the problem appears to be nationalism—a desire to defend Putin’s actions as consistent with Russian, rather than individualist, concerns; or a desire to see American intervention as being more defensible than Russian aggression because, well, at least it’s American, and we have better, more liberal values at home. Both tendencies are in fact very illiberal, as are the attempts to collectively attack people on the “other side” of this debate when for all you know some of them agree with you on all the fundamentals more than some of the people “on your side” do.

The arguments over Russia have brought the Cold War back to the movement. They have fractured those primarily committed to anti-interventionism and those primarily concerned with liberty for all worldwide, when in fact these values are two sides of the same coin. The primary libertarian reason to oppose U.S. wars, of course, is that they kill foreigners, that they divide people into tribes based on nationality, that they are acts of nationalist aggression.

Discursively, refighting the Cold War within libertarianism will only harden people’s hearts, polarize their loyalties, and ultimately compromise their principles and clarity of thought. I plead young libertarians to refuse to be a proxy belligerent in this Cold War when for the most part it’s probably not really about Russia or Crimea at all; it’s about major factions within the movement with more fundamental disagreements using this as an opportunity to fight. If you actually seek to understand everyone’s positions, you’ll be surprised how heterogeneous attitudes are, despite the attempt to turn this current affairs disagreement into a grander sectarian dispute.

So what should we think? We should probably take a middle ground between B and C. Putin isn’t just an aggressor; he’s one of the worst on the planet. He killed tens of thousands of Chechens. He oversees one of the most vast prison populations on earth. He is essentially a late-communist holdover of the party variety in everything but name, and his violations of civil liberties, free speech, and the dignity of homosexuals and others are not minor matters for any libertarian who cares about the rights of all people on earth. His invasion of Ukraine was unjustified. His annexation of Crimea cannot be defended and although some critics have exaggerated the evils of this territorial power grabs by comparing them to Stalin’s or Hitler’s expansionism, it is true that Putin’s defenders’ arguments based on ethnic nationalism could indeed be used to justify the most infamous European land grabs that occurred that same decade.

As for the United States, its foreign policy is a lot worse than Putin’s biggest detractors wish to acknowledge. While Putin has killed more people than Obama, he does not appear to have killed more people as Bush—and yes, it is a moral failure and deviation from libertarianism to downplay the Iraq war as anything less than one of the very worst international atrocities of our new century, and one that dramatically taints the moral character of U.S. diplomacy. What the last few U.S. administrations have done will haunt much of the world for decades. And the aggression has hardly ceased. Obama’s drone killings are one of the most infamous human rights violations on the planet, the drug war imposed on Mexico has taken tens of thousands of lives, and America’s own civil liberties record is far worse than some on Team America wish to confront. There are tens of millions of people much worse off throughout the world because of recent U.S. diplomacy and wars, and only a cold utilitarian would even attempt to justify this record.

I understand why some libertarians are inclined to emphasize one point or the other. Those Americans focusing on U.S. criminality are right that we have more influence, albeit marginally so, on the government that lords over us, that if we don’t stand up to the U.S. war machine and its covert ops, no one will, and that criticism of foreign aggression often fuels war propaganda at home. But others are frustrated that just because the U.S. government condemns Russian aggression, they’re supposed to keep quiet. “My country is the world,” as Tom Paine said, and libertarians around the world should condemn aggression anywhere it happens. Pretending the U.S. government is the world’s only major problem is naïve at best. The first group is often right that liberal states are more belligerent in foreign affairs, and the second group is often right that it’s easy for people here to forget about victims of foreign oppression. Such dynamics played themselves out in the Cold War, too, and both sides had a point. It would have been demoralizing to be berated for attacking either U.S. or Soviet aggression in those times.

It is hard to maintain the right level of nuance and principle. I think John Glaser and the Jesse Walker blog entry he links to are good models of principled libertarian commentary. And I agree with plenty of points being made on multiple sides of the various controversies. Those who wish to purge either Ron Paul’s followers or the Student for Liberty internationalists over this are ignoring the points of agreement as well as the odious errors on their own side, and maybe even their own errors, and are blowing things out of proportion.

Did I myself get the balance perfectly right? Perhaps not. The right balance would have been even harder during the Cold War, and yet it would have mattered much more then. So please, everyone, take a step back. It’s fun as hell to get in faction fights. Sectarian squabbles are the force that gives us meaning. But you’ll find yourself drained and with fewer friends in the end. Don’t pretend your fellow libertarians are themselves worse than Russian nationalists or the Pentagon. It’s not true in either case. Our unifying enemy should be the same: aggression, whether it is ordered from Moscow or Washington DC.

Whenever anyone strays from this balance, it’s good to bring up what they’re missing. Then you’ll see who your true allies are, who the trolls are, and who is simply using this as a battle to refight old clashes in the movement. You’ll also find out what people’s actual position is, and that might help inform your own.

 

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The Unintended – But Expected – Consequences of Obamacare http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/09/27/the-unintended-but-expected-consequences-of-obamacare/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/09/27/the-unintended-but-expected-consequences-of-obamacare/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2013 09:54:50 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12685 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare – was expected by economists to cause economic changes.  (Here is the act in a handy 906-page .pdf file.)  Some predicted lower employment, either from employers’ reducing employees’ hours to keep them from being deemed full-time, or simply by firing employees whose marginal productivity isn’t more than the $300+ additional cost, per month, of complying with some of the employer mandates.

Put simply, mandating increased per-employee costs will cause employers to react, and the employees most at risk of losing hours or jobs will be the ones with the lowest productivity:  the minimum-wagers the government says it’s trying to protect.  Any time the government takes control of (more of) an industry, the result inevitably will be unintended consequences. People seek to do what produces the best outcomes for themselves; we are not the static, obedient walking statistics government pretends we are.  We actively seek ways to avoid burdens, because we need to feed our families.

Obamacare provides that employers cannot reduce employee wages to avoid the additional costs imposed on the employers, and every employer with 50 or more employees must participate in providing health care or face punitive fines. Individuals who are not covered by a welfare program (Medicare, Medicaid) or by their employer must purchase their own insurance on the new “health care exchanges” to be set up by the states, or pay a fine along with their income taxes every April 15.  Who are the people who don’t want medical insurance?  Healthy young males, who are expected to pay as much as $5,800 per year, essentially to subsidize health care for the poor and sick.  Their penalties will be far lower than that, at least at first, that we know of.  What do you think they will choose?

Enough about the act.  You can read about it from the links above.  Here are the consequences:

Those of you who told Trader Joe’s you won’t shop there any longer because they’re not covering health care for their part-timers should first read Trader Joe’s explanation (Trader Joe’s will give the employees cash and let them shop for themselves; that way, the employees get a tax break, and at any rate Trader Joe’s can’t offer the giveaway deal the government is forcing on everyone); and second, should be prepared not to shop in very many places any more:  Forbes writes of Walgreen and 17 other large retailers doing the same thing. Worse, 301 employers (that we know of so far) are cutting employee hours and firing people.  The most perverse part of that:  62 of the employers are private-sector, and 239 are government employers, including school districts.  In one survey of small businesses, 41% have delayed hiring, 20% have reduced hours, and 20% have reduced payroll, all because Obamacare would be too burdensome otherwise.

Another unintended consequence of creating government tax-and-spend “giveaways” that (as we saw above) threaten to harm the poor more than the rich:  Fraud.  Obamacare-related scams were and are being predicted—by federal officials, no less.  Thieves are expected to prey on the poor, the old, and the ignorant.  The fear is strong enough that the White House and the Justice Department have felt the need to reassure the public, with DOJ having to build a special initiative around the issue.  Here’s a list of the scams that have already been reported to law enforcement.

Some unintended consequences were not predicted by many, if at all.  Labor unions, the darling of the political left, are stung because they somehow could not foresee that employers would cut hours; and the Obama administration remarkably has refused to add special subsidies for them.

A headline from the notoriously left-leaning Pew research center:  Most uninsured Americans live in states that refuse to offer their own health insurance exchanges.  The people the government claimed it most wanted to help are going to have to use the federal exchanges.  (The real problem here, if you consider it a problem, is those people are the ones least likely to know they can use the federal system.)

Here’s a wild one:  Since Obamacare was enacted in 2010, 21 states have enacted new laws—and the federal government is powerless to stop this—banning private-insurance coverage of abortions.  THAT was certainly unexpected.

Obamacare subsidizes the health care of people who stay below certain income maxima.  The obvious and foreseeable unintended consequence of that, of course, is that some people at the margins will face incentives to earn less.  A dollar of additional income, for some, will mean losing a $5,000 subsidy.  It would be foolish for anyone facing that choice to work an additional hour and lose almost $5,000.

Finally (for now), employers who have just over 50 employees will fire workers to stay below that magic number and avoid the extra burdens, as several of the links above demonstrate.  If a CEO and board of directors will sell their bank, aggressively take the risk of buying other banks, or sell assets to avoid certain burdens that come with size under the Dodd Frank Act, a small business owner whose business feeds his family will certainly fire workers to avoid Obamacare.

There will be more unintended consequences, both expected and unexpected. I’ll stop here.  (Just one more:  To be able to continue to make a profit—i.e., stay in business—insurers are going to limit the insureds’ choices of service providers.)  I’m not even the first person to write about this; many of the links above are to articles with “Obamacare” and “unintended consequences” in their titles.  I’m just the most recent to write about it, so I have the newest data.  Google “unintended consequences of Obamacare” regularly for updates.  The insurance exchanges open October 1, so the coming months will be a busy time for discovering new problems with government medicine (or rediscovering known ones).  We appear doomed to repeat the inescapable history of government intervention proved sour, so we might as well be informed about it.

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Who is a libertarian? http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/02/26/who-is-a-libertarian/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/02/26/who-is-a-libertarian/#comments Tue, 26 Feb 2013 16:51:35 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12369 After much thought and debate about this topic over the last 25 or so years, here is my attempt at a lean, concise, precise definition of what a libertarian is:

A libertarian is a person who believes that the invasion of the borders of (trespass against) others’ bodies or owned external scarce resources, i.e. property (with property allocations determined in accordance with Lockean homesteading rules and contractual transfer rules), is unjustified, because they (for whatever reason) prefer or value grundnorms of peace, prosperity, and cooperation and who have enough honesty, consistency, and economic literacy to recognize that the libertarian assignment of property rules is necessary to achieve these grundnorms.

Such a person, if he is consistent, also cannot help but recognize that the state, being an agency of institutionalized aggression, is inherently criminal and illegitimate.

Note what this does not say: It does not say that the libertarian necessarily believes all aggression is immoral, but rather that it is unjustified; it does not imply that rights are a “subset” of morals. It also does not say why the person values peace, prosperity and cooperation and favors it above interpersonal violent conflict. It also does not make the common mistake of interpreting the libertarian-Lockean property allocation rule as requiring one to prove title all the way back to the very first use of the resource; rather, it says that whoever has the best claim to a disputed resource has a property right in it (is its “proper” owner), and that as between any two claimants, the one having an earlier claim (use) of the property has the better claim. This does not require title to be traced back to the beginning of time but only to the earliest time needed to defeat any actual or potential claimants; though it implies that someone who can trace title back to the first appropriation has the best possible claim of all (unless title has been assigned by contract). Note also that although the libertarian rule is the Lockean rule this does not imply Locke’s reasoning in justifying his homesteading rule was correct—in particular it does not imply that Locke was right to say that labor is owned or that labor-ownership is the reason why first possession of a resource is sufficient to establish property rights in the resource.

For more, see my posts and articles below:

Also: Rothbard, Ethics of Liberty, chs. 4-5, 15; Hoppe, A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, chs. 1, 2, and 7.

[SK]

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Launching the Kinsella on Liberty Podcast http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/23/launching-the-kinsella-on-liberty-podcast/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/23/launching-the-kinsella-on-liberty-podcast/#comments Wed, 23 Jan 2013 15:36:36 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12296 Kinsella On Liberty

As many of my readers know, I often lecture and speak and give podcast or radio interviews on various libertarian topics and issues, such as intellectual property (IP), anarcho-libertarians, Austrian law and economic, contract theory, rights and punishment theory, and so on. I also blog and comment regularly on such matters in various blogs (primarily The Libertarian Standard, on general libertarian matters, and C4SIF, on IP-related matters), Facebook, and so on—often posting my take on a given issue in response to a question emailed to me or posted online.

This month I am launching a new podcast, Kinsella on Liberty. I expect to post episodes once or twice a week. The podcast will include new episodes covering  answers to questions emailed to me (feel free to ask me to address any issue of libertarian theory or application) as well as interviews or discussions I conduct with other libertarians. I’ll also include in the feed any new speeches or interviews of mine that appear on other podcasts or fora, as well as older speeches, interviews, and audio versions  of my articles, which  are collected for now on my media page). Audio and slides for several of my Mises Academy courses may also be found on my media page, and will also be included in the podcast feed later this year. Feel free to iTunesSubscribe in iTunes or RSSFollow with RSS, and spread the word to your libertarian friends. I welcome questions for possible coverage in the podcast, as well as any criticism, suggestions for improvement, or other feedback. My general approach to libertarian matters is Austrian, anarchist, and propertarian, influenced heavily by the thought of Ludwig von Mises, Murray N. Rothbard, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe. My writing can be found in articles here and blog posts at The Libertarian Standard and C4SIF, such as:

On IP in particular, which I’ll also cover from time to time in the podcast, see:

[C4SIF; SK; PFS]

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A TLS New Year’s Resolutions List http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/01/a-tls-new-years-resolutions-list/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/01/a-tls-new-years-resolutions-list/#comments Wed, 02 Jan 2013 00:14:42 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12169 Most of us probably will admit that we keep resolutions only slightly better than politicians keep campaign promises. Even President Obama couldn’t keep a promise not to raise taxes on all but the wealthiest Americans, as the current “fiscal cliff” deal does not extend the 2% payroll tax cut, which impacts every person earning a paycheck.

So don’t look to Washington to keep any resolutions in the new year. Instead, we’ve come up with a list of suggestions for our readers to continue stoking the flames of liberty, or at least keep them flickering a little while longer. (Editorial resolution for TLS: drop the tired metaphors for liberty already.)

1. Play with guns (and invite a non-gun owner to come with you)

Guns, and more to the point gun control, promise to figure prominently in the media and in Congress this year, as the country still grapples with its most horrific school shooting yet. But the public debate is largely fueled by hysteria, misinformation, and outright lies. For the vast majority of gun owners, they are simply tools for self-defense, hunting, and having fun. And what better way to demonstrate the latter than an outing to a shooting range? For a lot of people, that’s the only legal place to try their hand at firing some types of guns. Actually handling an AR-15, the so-called assault rifle that is the focus of both media pundits and gun policy wonks, may help demystify them and return some sanity to the average non-gun owner’s perspective on these useful and important tools.

2. Start blogging

There’s almost no excuse anymore for not sharing your thoughts with the world; there are near-endless varieties of blogging platforms and hosting services to choose from, and you can make it as casual or as professional as you like. But the important thing to remember is that communicating ideas of liberty is almost effortless, and they can spread faster than ever – far faster than any governmental attempt to rein them in. The “money bombs” which drove Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns would not have been possible without the use of social media, including blogs, and it’s easier than ever now to keep it going.

3. Always keep a smartphone or video recording tool handy

The violation of civil rights by law enforcement has in all likelihood been a problem since the beginnings of the modern police force, but now they face more intense scrutiny than ever, because cameras are almost literally everywhere – and many of them aren’t controlled by the state. Citizens have become the watchmen’s watchers, at least where it’s legal (and some courts are now ruling against state restrictions on recording police). It may well be that a smartphone with real-time video uploading abilities will become a more effective tool for justice than any gun or legal action.

4. Explore alternative forms of education – for yourself and your kids

With public schools still swirling the drain and recent college graduates facing few job prospects and a mountain of student loan debt, may we suggest opting out of the traditional state-backed education model entirely? Technology is enabling a full-blown education renaissance, with online learning on a vast array of subjects freely available, and homeschooling and unschooling resources more abundant than ever before. They won’t replace formal college degrees in every field of study, but they at least offer an alternative for those who wish to pursue knowledge without the excessive cost and politics of government schools.

5. Speaking of education…give the gift of Austrian economics and libertarian literature

Another benefit of the online revolution is the speed and ease of acquiring educational material on libertarianism and economics, and more importantly, sharing it with others. And it’s available for many reading and educational levels. A great example is Robert Murphy’s Lessons for the Young Economist, a high school-level economics textbook with a fresh Austrian School perspective. Other recommended books include Jacob Huebert’s Libertarianism Today, Brian Doherty’s Ron Paul’s rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired, and Paul’s own The Revolution: A Manifesto.

6. Above all, strive to improve yourself

Demonstrating success in your daily endeavors is a great way to attract people to the message of liberty. One of the most significant differences between libertarians and statists are the former’s desire to change themselves – to lead the life they wish to lead, and not interfere with the same desires of others. By striving for excellence, others will be more interested in hearing your ideas. By such achievements we can indelibly change the world.

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The Twentieth Anniversary of Kinsella’s “Estoppel” Defense of Libertarian Rights http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/08/18/the-twentieth-anniversary-of-kinsellas-estoppel-defense-of-libertarian-rights/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/08/18/the-twentieth-anniversary-of-kinsellas-estoppel-defense-of-libertarian-rights/#comments Sat, 18 Aug 2012 23:35:33 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=11538 It is on the edge of Fall 2012, and I realized today that it is about twenty years since the publication of my first scholarly article, Estoppel: A New Justification for Individual Rights. It was published in Reason Papers No. 17 (Fall 1992), a journal established and then edited by my friend Tibor Machan. In How I Became A Libertarian, I explain how it came about:

By 1988 I was in law school, and becoming a more well rounded libertarian, having read by this time Rothbard, Mises, Bastiat, the Tannehills, and a non-trivial portion of the books offered in the Laissez-Faire Books catalog. In that year there were two significant events in my life, from a libertarian perspective. One was Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s controversial and provocative article in Liberty, “The Ultimate Justification of the Private Property Ethic” (related articles linked here). In this article Hoppe sets forth his “argumentation ethics,” which holds that the libertarian private property ethic is implied in the very activity of argumentation—because those engaged in argumentation already presuppose the value of conflict-avoidance and the ability to control property and thus, those arguing in favor of socialism contradict themselves.

The second thing was that I encountered the legal principle of “estoppel” in my contracts class. This is the ubiquitous legal principle that precludes someone from asserting a legal claim or position that is inconsistent with earlier statements or behavior. I remember sitting in contracts class, as Professor Morris lectured on this topic, thinking “Eureka!” to myself, as I began to see that the concept of estoppel meshed perfectly with libertarian logic (and also with Hoppe’s argumentation ethics). The libertarian non-aggression principle holds that force may only be used in response to (initiated) force. There is a nice symmetry here. One may use force, if and only if it is response to initiated force (aggression).

I saw in class that day that the principle of estoppel could help explain and justify the non-aggression rule. Force was justified against an aggressor, because having used force himself he would be estopped from objecting to retaliation. For him to assert that force is wrong—which he must do in order to object to retaliation—would contradict the “force is permissible” maxim underlying his own act of aggression. He is “estopped” from asserting a claim inconsistent with that underlying his earlier behavior.

My estoppel theory complements and draws on Hoppe’s argumentation ethics. For years I believed that I first came up with my estoppel theory and then read Hoppe’s work, and linked the two together. Now I am not so sure, and think that I first read and absorbed Hoppe’s argumentation ethic, which made me fixate on the similar logic of estoppel when I coincidentally studied it in law school shortly thereafter.

I was at King’s College London–University of London in 1991, pursuing a master’s degree in law, when I produced the first draft of a paper arguing estoppel can help justify libertarian rights. Somewhat naïvely, I submitted it to King’s College Law School’s law review, whereupon it was summarily rejected. Not daunted, I submitted an improved draft to Tibor Machan for his journal Reason Papers. I had read many of Machan’s works, including his Human Rights and Human Liberties and Individuals and Their Rights, and he had been kind enough to respond to several of my letters. I remember speaking with him one night, about the submission, from a students’ pay telephone at King’s College in London, and then getting drinks at a pub with friends, none of them knowing or able to appreciate I had just spoken with a libertarian writer whose books I had read. Estoppel: A New Justification for Individual Rights was published in the Fall 1992 issue of Reason Papers ….

In the meantime, I’ve elaborated on this theory in:

This whole topic still interests me. In the meantime, I realize some think of me as “Mr. IP” in the libertarian movement, but I am far more interested in rights theory than in patents and copyrights…

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Laissez Faire Books Launches the Laissez Faire Club http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/04/20/laissez-faire-books-launches-the-laissez-faire-club/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/04/20/laissez-faire-books-launches-the-laissez-faire-club/#comments Fri, 20 Apr 2012 05:44:55 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10937 Laissez Faire Books

Laissez Faire Books (LFB) is a seminal libertarian institution that dates back to 1972, six years before I was born. In its heyday, it played a central role in the libertarian movement as the largest libertarian bookseller, a publisher of libertarian books, and an old-school social network, hosting social gatherings and other events. This was before my time.

I’d never bought a book from LFB until yesterday (the 19th). By the time I became a libertarian in my undergraduate years at Louisiana State University, after reading the work of Ayn Rand (starting with The Fountainhead) at the urging of a friend, I was able to learn about libertarianism and Austrian economics from a large and growing sea of resources online. I bought books from Amazon and the Ludwig von Mises Institute (LvMI), read online articles and blogs, and took advantage of the growing library of digitized books and other media put online and hosted by the LvMI.

Laizzez Faire Books was fading into irrelevancy and, I think, in danger of being shuttered for good as it was passed from new owner to new owner. Enter Agora Financial, the latest owner of LFB, and hopefully the organization that will oversee its resuscitation and return to relevancy. With Jeffrey Tucker at the helm as executive editor, the prospects for profitability, innovation, and spreading the message of liberty are exciting indeed.

Many, if not most, of you know Jeffrey Tucker as the editorial vice president who led the LvMI into the digital age, building it into the open-source juggernaut with a vast online and free library of liberty and a thriving community that it is today. We were sad to see him leave that beloved institution, but eager to see what he would do in charge of a for-profit publisher and bookstore. Now we’ve been given the first taste.

Jeffrey Tucker Meme

Laissez Faire Books will of course be publishing and selling ebooks and dead-tree books individually. They’re a bit pricey this way, if you ask me.  The way you’ll want to get these books and the added value that LFB has to offer, however, is to sign on to the new business model that promises to return the company to the center of the libertarian movement as a book publisher, seller, and community (with online forums).

Yesterday, on the 19th of April, Jeffrey Tucker and LFB launched the Laissez Faire Club. This is an innovative subscription-based book club that offers a host of members-only benefits for the price of $10 per month, or $120 per year. Members will receive a 20% discount on all LFB products, a new ebook at no extra charge every week (in epub and mobi formats) as well as access to the entire archive of previously distributed ebooks, Tucker’s Take (short video book reviews by Jeffrey Tucker), free reports, live author interviews, a private online community forum shielded from search engines and prying eyes and drive-by trolls, and more now and to come.

That sounds like a good deal to me. I signed up last night for a free trial, which comes with some free content that’s yours to keep even if you choose to cancel your membership before the free trial is up.

In the information age, and in light of the illegitimacy of so-called intellectual property, how do you  make money publishing and selling books? Many are wailing and gnashing their teeth, rending their shirts, and lashing out in fear and lazy greed — unable to let go of their precious, state-supported publishing model, dependent on IP and an oligopoly over the publication and distribution of dead-tree books. The Big Six publishers don’t seem to have a clue. But I think it’s not really that hard to figure out:

You treat your customers right, provide them with valuable content that they’ll want to ensure you’re able to continue providing, and sell them added value built around the books: reasonable prices, great customer service with a personal touch, knowledgeable and engaged staff, early access, extra content like free reports on how to circumvent the state legally or Tucker’s Take, personal engagement with their favorite authors, a private and secure community comprised of fellow lovers of liberty, and so on.

Head on over to Laissez Faire Books to learn more about the new Laissez Faire Club and, if you’re a lover of liberty and books and books about liberty, become a member today.

[Prometheus Unbound & Is-Ought GAP]

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The Most Visited Libertarian Websites http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/04/11/the-most-visited-libertarian-websites/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/04/11/the-most-visited-libertarian-websites/#comments Wed, 11 Apr 2012 13:00:18 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10850 The Capital Free Press has compiled a list of the top ranked “libertarian websites based on the number of unique visitors in the most recent month according to the data compiled by Compete.” The post is pasted below. Not surprisingly, LewRockwell.com is the most visited libertarian site. Four of my own sites made the list: StephanKinsella.com (#84), Libertarian Papers (#100), The Libertarian Standard (#75), and Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom (C4SIF, #78).

 

The Most Visited Libertarian Websites

This is a ranking of the top libertarian websites based on the number of unique visitors in the most recent month according to the data compiled by Compete. They only compile data for domains and subdomains, so perhaps this list is more accurately described as the most visited libertarian domains rather than websites. It is compiled through calls to Compete’s API, so it will automatically update when they release new data each month. For more information on this list, see the blog post introducing it.

Automating everything means that adding a new website is as simple as plugging a new url into my list, so you have any suggestions for a website to add, please email me at patrick@capitalfreepress.com.

Due to the restrictions on the free use of the Compete API, there is a chance that I could run out of API calls in a 24 hour period (resets at midnight EST). The way that I compile this list and the terms and conditions on the use of their API prevent me from displaying the number of unique visitors for each website in the chart, though that information and more can be accessed via the link I have provided.

Rank Name Website
1 LewRockwell.com lewrockwell.com Compete Site Profile
2 Electronic Frontier Foundation eff.org Compete Site Profile
3 Ron Paul 2012 Official Campaign Website ronpaul2012.com Compete Site Profile
4 Reason Magazine reason.com Compete Site Profile
5 Daily Paul dailypaul.com Compete Site Profile
6 The Cato Institute cato.org Compete Site Profile
7 Ludwig von Mises Institute mises.org Compete Site Profile
8 AntiWar.com antiwar.com Compete Site Profile
9 RonPaul.com ronpaul.com Compete Site Profile
10 Outside the Beltway outsidethebeltway.com Compete Site Profile
11 Economic Policy Journal economicpolicyjournal.com Compete Site Profile
12 Library of Economics and Liberty econlib.org Compete Site Profile
13 The Daily Bell thedailybell.com Compete Site Profile
14 Ron Paul Forums ronpaulforums.com Compete Site Profile
15 Endorse Liberty PAC endorseliberty.com Compete Site Profile
16 Tenth Amendment Center tenthamendmentcenter.com Compete Site Profile
17 Cato-at-Liberty Blog cato-at-liberty.org Compete Site Profile
18 The Freeman thefreemanonline.org Compete Site Profile
19 Future of Freedom Foundation fff.org Compete Site Profile
20 Campaign For Liberty campaignforliberty.com Compete Site Profile
21 The Independent Institute independent.org Compete Site Profile
22 Advocates for Self Government theadvocates.org Compete Site Profile
23 Marginal Revolution marginalrevolution.com Compete Site Profile
24 The Agitator – Radley Balko theagitator.com Compete Site Profile
25 Carpe Diem – Mark J. Perry mjperry.blogspot.com Compete Site Profile
26 Libertarian Party lp.org Compete Site Profile
27 Tom Woods tomwoods.com Compete Site Profile
28 Whiskey and Gunpowder whiskeyandgunpowder.com Compete Site Profile
29 Revolution PAC revolutionpac.com Compete Site Profile
30 Run Ron Paul runronpaul.com Compete Site Profile
31 The Ayn Rand Institute aynrand.org Compete Site Profile
32 Cop Block copblock.org Compete Site Profile
33 Acton Institute acton.org Compete Site Profile
34 Free State Project freestateproject.org Compete Site Profile
35 Adam Vs The Man adamvstheman.com Compete Site Profile
36 United Liberty unitedliberty.org Compete Site Profile
37 Reason Foundation reason.org Compete Site Profile
38 Moment of Clarity – Tim Nerenz timnerenz.com Compete Site Profile
39 Cafe Hayek cafehayek.com Compete Site Profile
40 Downsize DC downsizedc.org Compete Site Profile
41 Free Keene freekeene.com Compete Site Profile
42 The Humble Libertarian humblelibertarian.com Compete Site Profile
43 Laissez-Faire Books lfb.org Compete Site Profile
44 Strike-The-Root strike-the-root.com Compete Site Profile
45 Foundation for Economic Education fee.org Compete Site Profile
46 John Locke Foundation johnlocke.org Compete Site Profile
47 Break The Matrix breakthematrix.com Compete Site Profile
48 BuildFreedom.com buildfreedom.com Compete Site Profile
49 Competitive Enterprise Institute cei.org Compete Site Profile
50 Libertarianism.org libertarianism.org Compete Site Profile
51 Vox Popoli voxday.blogspot.com Compete Site Profile
52 The Institute for Justice ij.org Compete Site Profile
53 OpenMarket.org – The Blog of the CEI openmarket.org Compete Site Profile
54 Freedomain Radio freedomainradio.com Compete Site Profile
55 Institute for Humane Studies theihs.org Compete Site Profile
56 Peter Schiff Show schiffradio.com Compete Site Profile
57 Center for a Stateless Society c4ss.org Compete Site Profile
58 Learn Liberty learnliberty.org Compete Site Profile
59 Young Americans for Liberty yaliberty.org Compete Site Profile
60 Young Americans for Liberty yaliberty.org Compete Site Profile
61 Reason.tv reason.tv Compete Site Profile
62 Free Talk Live freetalklive.com Compete Site Profile
63 The Future of Capitalism futureofcapitalism.com Compete Site Profile
64 Doug Wead The Blog dougwead.wordpress.com Compete Site Profile
65 Libertarian Republican libertarianrepublican.net Compete Site Profile
66 Adam Smith Institute adamsmith.org Compete Site Profile
67 The Capital Free Press capitalfreepress.com Compete Site Profile
68 Bleeding Heart Libertarians bleedingheartlibertarians.com Compete Site Profile
69 Militant Libertarian militantlibertarian.org Compete Site Profile
70 Students for Liberty studentsforliberty.org Compete Site Profile
71 Coyote Blog coyoteblog.com Compete Site Profile
72 Ron Paul News ronpaulnews.net Compete Site Profile
73 Republican Liberty Caucus rlc.org Compete Site Profile
74 Bastiat Institute bastiatinstitute.org Compete Site Profile
75 The Libertarian Standard libertarianstandard.com Compete Site Profile
76 AgainstCronyCapitalism.org againstcronycapitalism.org Compete Site Profile
77 Coordination Problem coordinationproblem.org Compete Site Profile
78 Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom c4sif.org Compete Site Profile
79 realfreemarket.org realfreemarket.org Compete Site Profile
80 Goldwater Institute goldwaterinstitute.org Compete Site Profile
81 Liberty Radio Network lrn.fm Compete Site Profile
82 Ideas – David Friedman daviddfriedman.blogspot.com Compete Site Profile
83 Daily Anarchist dailyanarchist.com Compete Site Profile
84 Stephan Kinsella stephankinsella.com Compete Site Profile
85 NeverTakeaPlea.org nevertakeaplea.org Compete Site Profile
86 Liberty Underground 1787network.com Compete Site Profile
87 Liberty Pulse libertypulse.com Compete Site Profile
88 Peace, Freedom & Prosperity peacefreedomprosperity.com Compete Site Profile
89 Free Advice – Robert Murphy consultingbyrpm.com Compete Site Profile
90 Libertarian Leanings libertarianleanings.com Compete Site Profile
91 Americans for Limited Government getliberty.org Compete Site Profile
92 Liberty Documentaries libertydocumentaries.com Compete Site Profile
93 Liberty PAC libertypac.net Compete Site Profile
94 Taking Hayek Seriously hayekcenter.org Compete Site Profile
95 Liberty Maven libertymaven.com Compete Site Profile
96 Congress Shall Make No Law: IJ’s Free Speech Blog makenolaw.org Compete Site Profile
97 Ron Paul Radio ronpaulradio.com Compete Site Profile
98 LacrosseWatchDog lacrossewatchdog.org Compete Site Profile
99 Bad Quaker badquaker.com Compete Site Profile
100 Libertarian Papers libertarianpapers.org Compete Site Profile
101 Porcupine Freedom Festival porcfest.com Compete Site Profile
102 The Libertarian Patriot thelibertarianpatriot.com Compete Site Profile
103 The Southern Libertarian thesouthernlibertarian.com Compete Site Profile
104 The Tireless Agorist tirelessagorist.blogspot.com Compete Site Profile
105 Liberty Classroom libertyclassroom.com Compete Site Profile
106 Government by Contract governmentbycontract.com Compete Site Profile
107 Freespace – Timothy Sandefur sandefur.typepad.com Compete Site Profile
108 Austrian Dad austriandad.blogspot.com Compete Site Profile
109 JasonPye.com jasonpye.com Compete Site Profile
110 Libertarian Advocate libertarianadvocate.blogspot.com Compete Site Profile
111 Liberty Web Alliance libertyweballiance.com Compete Site Profile
112 Liberty On Tour libertyontour.com Compete Site Profile
113 Libertarian Book Club libertarianbookclub.com Compete Site Profile
114 Run Rand Run runrandrun.com Compete Site Profile

[Crossposts: StephanKinsella.com; Libertarian Papers; C4SIF]

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TLS Podcast Picks: Tibor Machan and Jeff Tucker http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/03/21/tls-podcast-picks-2/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/03/21/tls-podcast-picks-2/#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2012 00:59:47 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10716 Recommended podcasts:

  • machan-bannerProfiles in Liberty: Tibor Machan, by Stephen Hicks. Great profile of an important libertarian thinker and good friend of mine.  “Tibor Machan is professor of philosophy at Chapman University in California. He was born in Communist Hungary, smuggled out as a teenager, and came to the United States, where he earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A prolific writer, he has published over forty books and scores of essays. A recent collection of scholarly essays on Machan’s work, Reality, Reason, and Rights: Essays in Honor of Tibor R. Machan, edited by Douglas B. Rasmussen, Aeon J. Skoble, and Douglas J. Den Uyl, was published in 2011.”
  • The World No One Will Tell You is Possible, Radio Free Market interview with Jeff Tucker, about various themes discussed in his book It’s a Jetsons World, such as intellectual property and other issues.
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Are All TV Commercials Aimed at Ignorance? http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/01/08/are-all-tv-commercials-aimed-at-ignorance/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/01/08/are-all-tv-commercials-aimed-at-ignorance/#comments Mon, 09 Jan 2012 01:49:06 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10299 Pretty much everyone knows–or should know–that many, and maybe most, of the points made by most politicians are of little value, amounting to little more than equine feces at best. A commercial I saw the other day illustrated that the same is true of TV commercials. (Yes, I realize that’s no discovery. But still…) The advertisement I saw featured a clean-cut young man making a pitch to “buy American-made gasoline at Kwik Fill” because doing so “strengthens our economy.” Do people believe that type of thing? The short answer is:  Yes. How do I know? Because presidents–and presidential candidates–have been saying pretty much the same thing for close to 4 decades, beginning with Nixon and continuing right up through Obama.

Rachel Maddow–not exactly a standard-bearer for libertarian ideals and the power of the free market–demolished this lunacy on her show, and the episode is immortalized on YouTube, under the appropriate title, “Oil Is Oil Is Oil.” There is no such thing as “foreign” oil and there is no such thing as “domestic” oil. There is no way to purchase oil from domestic sources or that “benefits Americans only.” Maddow covers many valid points in the video–which is recommended viewing–but in economics-speak, oil is fungible. As such, the concept of energy independence by lessening the U.S. dependence on foreign oil is just the same old jingoistic bird cage liner scrapings. All oil is sold on an international market and all oil is purchased from that same place. Which service station you use is largely irrelevant.

Admittedly, Maddow makes a couple points with which I disagree, most notably in her suggestion that we can affect positive change by lessening our overall dependence on oil. To that suggestion, my response would be “Why?” To what purpose should we–users of energy–attempt to cut back on our usage of energy? To what purpose should we–people who benefit from all manner of conveniences due directly to the technology of fossil fuels–attempt to change our ways? I can only assume that Maddow believes, like many liberals, and many conservatives, that the consumer should react to policy concerns versus market signals. If oil is the cheapest alternative, then the consumer should continue to buy it, period. If, and when, oil becomes so rare as to not be the cheapest alternative (and/or the best technological alternative) the costs should reflect it, and we consumers will move on to something else. (The costs will reflect it, unless the government gets in the way.) The problem is not over-dependence on oil. The problem is lack of understanding of basic economics, the market, and the ramifications of supply and demand.

Of more concern to me, and maybe more importance, is this:  If this type of obviously-flawed economics thinking, as evidenced by that commercial, has pervaded presidential talking points for forty years and continues to pervade TV advertising even now, how much more horribly flawed information flows unabated?

Bottom Line:  I guess they don’t call it the idiot box for nothing.

Cross-posted at the LRCBlog.

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