The Libertarian Standard » Firearms http://libertarianstandard.com Property - Prosperity - Peace Sun, 09 Nov 2014 19:26:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 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 » Firearms http://libertarianstandard.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://libertarianstandard.com/category/firearms/ TV-G Didn’t The Terrorists Win A While Back? http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/04/19/didnt-the-terrorists-win-a-while-back/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/04/19/didnt-the-terrorists-win-a-while-back/#comments Sat, 20 Apr 2013 03:49:22 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12434 I posted the paragraph below on my Facebook page and a long, sometimes contentious, debate broke out. We even had a resident of Boston and a policeman–two different people, by the way–chime in to attack my point of view. Given that it generated so much discussion in that venue, I figured I’d share it here as well.

Armored police vehicles. Tactical teams. Everyone under house arrest. Soldiers and/or other armed enforcers roaming the streets. House-to-house searches. We call it, “Terror in Boston!” In any one of the several places the U.S. has invaded and/or is currently deploying drones, they’d call it, “Tuesday.” Perspective. Stated differently, maybe the “terrorists” won a while back?

Even looking at it now, it strikes me as obvious and uncontroversial. Maybe I’ve spent too much time sniffing the glue of philosophical free thought?

…cross-posted at LRCBlog.

]]>
http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/04/19/didnt-the-terrorists-win-a-while-back/feed/ 0
Was Hitler Really Anti-Gun Control? http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/14/was-hitler-really-anti-gun-control/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/14/was-hitler-really-anti-gun-control/#comments Tue, 15 Jan 2013 03:00:14 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12278 A Salon.com article by Alex Seitz-Wald called “The Hitler Gun Control Lie” is making the rounds, purporting to challenge a myth Second Amendment enthusiasts spread that blames the Holocaust on Hitler’s policies of civilian disarmament. The thrust of the argument is that Hitler’s 1938 firearms law indeed ratcheted back restrictions from the Weimar era. But here is the most telling paragraph:

The law did prohibit Jews and other persecuted classes from owning guns, but this should not be an indictment of gun control in general. Does the fact that Nazis forced Jews into horrendous ghettos indict urban planning? Should we eliminate all police officers because the Nazis used police officers to oppress and kill the Jews? What about public works — Hitler loved public works projects? Of course not. These are merely implements that can be used for good or ill, much as gun advocates like to argue about guns themselves. If guns don’t kill people, then neither does gun control cause genocide (genocidal regimes cause genocide).

As a libertarian, I actually would argue that the violence of Hitler’s statism can be seen in such areas as his militarized police forces, and the totalitarian potential of a heavily policed society is one reason I’ve been so critical of America’s police.

Honing in on the gun rights issue, we see a most curious argument: Hitler was actually pro-gun rights—except for the minor issue of the Jews. We can get the same nuanced information from Wikipedia, which cites work by Stephen Halbrook and sums up Hitler’s gun control policy in this seemingly important area:

On November 11, 1938, the Minister of the Interior, Wilhelm Frick, passed Regulations Against Jews’ Possession of Weapons. This regulation effectively deprived all Jews of the right to possess firearms or other weapons.

Yes, Hitler did loosen some restrictions on firearms—except for the people he exterminated! The Seitz-Wald pieces relies heavily on a University of Chicago working paper by Bernard Harcourt, which includes this seemingly cursory dismissal of Hitler’s disarming of the Jews in the context of the Holocaust:

How to characterize their treatment of Jewish persons for purposes of gun control—banning the possession of dangerous weapons, including guns, in 1938, and subsequently exterminating Jewish persons—is, in truth, an absurd question. The Nazis sought to disarm and kill Jews, and their treatment of Jews is, for all intents and purposes, orthogonal to their gun-control tendencies.

Even if you don’t accept the standard “gun control = genocide” line coming from gun-rights advocates, this passage is just bizarre. If the question being debated is whether Hitler enacted gun control that enabled his murderous policies, it seems rather odd to me to concede that the “Nazis sought to disarm and kill Jews” yet assert in passing that genocide was “orthogonal to their gun-control tendencies.” Within a couple days of Kristalnacht, Hitler disarmed the very group he was most determined to eliminate. Even if this correlation is not causal, there is a relationship here. It is not random. It is not “orthogonal.”

Harcourt continues, writing that “if forced to weigh in, it actually seems, somewhat surprisingly, that the white supremacist Pierce may have the better of the argument: the Nazis were probably more pro-gun than their predecessors.”

He’s referring to one of the primary scholars behind the thesis that Hitler was pro-gun—William L. Pierce, “a pro-gun white supremacist” whose “ideological commitments are so flagrant” that he cannot be “trusted entirely in these historical and statutory debates.” Harcourt says the same about Halbrook, “a pro-gun litigator.”

This raises interesting questions. Surely we could expect someone with a soft-spot for white supremacy to be at least as biased as a pro-gun lawyer like Halbrook. This is not to say that a writer with extreme views is incapable of producing useful scholarship. Yet I would suspect that Pierce’s efforts to vindicate Hitler as a gun-rights champion in Gun Control in Germany, 1928–1945 might suffer from a fatal flaw, if indeed the gravamen that has made its way from that book to the Harcourt piece to the Salon.com article is: Hitler supported the right to bear arms. . . except for the Jews and other people he wanted to kill, but that’s a minor detail.

Harcourt weighs the evidence and argues that Pierce’s account is more accurate than Halbrook’s, but I think this all turns on a question of emphasis. Consider this revealing paragraph:

To be sure, the Nazis were intent on killing Jewish persons and used the gun laws and regulations to further the genocide. But it appears that the Nazis aspired to a certain relaxation of gun laws for the “ordinary” or “law-abiding” German citizen, for those who were not, in their minds, “enemies of the National Socialist state.” Stephen Halbrook, in fact, seems to acknowledges as much.

Yes, Halbrook does admit it—because Halbrook’s point isn’t that Hitler disarmed everybody; it’s that he disarmed the people he wanted to exterminate. We can glean this from the very title of his paper: “Nazi Firearms Law and the Disarming of the German Jews.”

I hate seeing poor history used in defense of liberty, and I hate seeing the false Nazi and Hitler quotes floating around. On the other hand, it seems to me that disarming Jews was indeed clearly one of the precursors to the Final Solution, as Harcourt admits, and as Seitz-Wald mysteriously ignores by dismissing the importance of Hitler’s prohibition of “Jews and other persecuted classes from owning guns.” If the only revisionist response to the core thesis that disarming the Jews facilitated the Holocaust is something like “Hitler only disarmed the Jews and his enemies,” one wonders what the policy implication is, especially considering that most people happily citing the Salon.com piece without reading it carefully or digging deeper seem to want to go even further and disarm the general population.

]]>
http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/14/was-hitler-really-anti-gun-control/feed/ 49
Eric Holder Says Gun Owners Should “Cower” in Shame Like Smokers http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/10/eric-holder-says-gun-owners-should-cower-in-shame-like-smokers/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/10/eric-holder-says-gun-owners-should-cower-in-shame-like-smokers/#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2013 21:17:42 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12228 .jpg

The Attorney General’s exact words:

What we need to do is change the way in which people think about guns, especially young people, and make it something that’s not cool, that it’s not acceptable, it’s not hip to carry a gun anymore, in the way in which we’ve changed our attitudes about cigarettes. You know, when I was growing up, people smoked all the time. Both my parents did. But over time, we changed the way that people thought about smoking, so now we have people who cower outside of buildings and kind of smoke in private and don’t want to admit it.

Cower in Fear

You’ve been a bad, bad… citizen.

Cower — interesting choice of words that. Cower is a word more associated with fear than shame in my mind. One cowers in fear. One blushes or hides out of shame.1

It’s a natural inclination in those with a love of power to want to see those beneath them cower. Our proper posture when faced with the disapproval of our betters is on bended knee, shoulders trembling, head bowed in anxious deference.

It’s also interesting that Holder suggests smokers “cower” outside of buildings, doing their nasty deed in private, on their own initiative. Silly me, I thought it was because government regulations and corporate policies require them to smoke only in designated areas outside. I doubt most such smokers feel any shame in the act, though they may huddle in winter.

I wonder, Does Holder cower in shame over his responsibility for hundreds of gun deaths as a result of Operation Fast and Furious and his zealous prosecution of the Drug War?2

Eric Holder wants to prevent women from defending themselves.


  1. I suppose one can cower in shame as well, though surely not without some fear mixed in. 

  2. Assuming one believes Holder’s claim of ignorance and the government report purporting to “vindicate” him (quelle surprise!), the federal program still happened under his watch and so the unrepentant drug warrior bears responsibility. And given his zealous prosecution of the Drug War, he is certainly responsible for at least some gun-related deaths in the United States and Mexico. 

]]>
http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/10/eric-holder-says-gun-owners-should-cower-in-shame-like-smokers/feed/ 17
Maybe The Journal News did us a favor after all http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/03/maybe-the-journal-news-did-us-a-favor-after-all/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/03/maybe-the-journal-news-did-us-a-favor-after-all/#comments Thu, 03 Jan 2013 05:17:46 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12196 Print and online media were predictably flooded with stories on guns and gun control in the week following the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Few stories, however, attracted attention like this one published by The Journal News, a White Plains, New York-based paper, which included an interactive map pinpointing the names and locations of registered handgun permit holders throughout two suburban New York counties. The Journal News did nothing wrong in obtaining the information; handgun permits in New York are public records, and a Freedom of Information Act request was all the paper needed to get them.

Although legal, their action is problematic for other reasons, not the least of which is that the story accompanying the map starts off with the shooting of a local woman by her mentally disturbed 77-year-old neighbor, who “had amassed a cache of weapons — including two unregistered handguns and a large amount of ammunition — without any neighbors knowing.” Which seems to beg the question of how a map of registered permit holders might have alerted this person’s neighbors to his firearms ownership status. Also, there is no way of knowing who owns rifles and shotguns, even though they’re just as lethal as handguns, because New York does not require ownership permits for them. So what legitimate public interest is served by a newspaper outing legal handgun owners, who presumably (because felons cannot own firearms) have not committed any crimes?

Whatever their motivation, The Journal News was perhaps not prepared for the firestorm of criticism it ignited, which has prompted them to hire armed security for their editorial offices:

The armed guards — hired from local private security companies — have been stationed in The Journal News’s headquarters and in a satellite office in West Nyack, N.Y., since last week, said Janet Hasson, the president and publisher of The Journal News Media Group.

“The safety of my staff is my top priority,” Ms. Hasson said in a telephone interview.

Quite understandable, but for a newspaper that apparently believes the presence of guns in their readers’ neighborhoods constitutes a safety risk they should know about, doesn’t it strike anyone as ironic that it would then hire people with guns to protect its staff? The only point they seem to be proving is that guns help people feel safer. So wouldn’t a neighborhood full of legally-owned firearms be among the safest places to live? We already know the answer to that¹.

¹ With the caveat, of course, that mandatory gun ownership is no more libertarian than gun restrictions.

]]>
http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/03/maybe-the-journal-news-did-us-a-favor-after-all/feed/ 1
A Response to 2nd Amendment Repealers and Other Gun-Control Nuts http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/12/21/a-response-to-2nd-amendment-repealers-and-other-gun-control-nuts/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/12/21/a-response-to-2nd-amendment-repealers-and-other-gun-control-nuts/#comments Fri, 21 Dec 2012 20:11:03 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12135 .jpg

[Originally published as a comment in response to someone who announced publicly on Google+ that he sincerely believed that, as radical as it may sound, part of the Bill of Rights should be repealed. The post below isn’t a complete case against ignorant, opportunistic statists with an irrational fear of guns, but it highlights a number of inconvenient facts and devastating arguments for their position.]

Obama the Mass-Murderer-in-Chief makes light of shooting people.

Obama the Mass-Murderer-in-Chief
makes light of shooting people.

The idea of repealing the 2nd Amendment is not that radical really. It’s just further down the road this country is already on — toward a full-on police-surveillance state. What’s truly radical these days is any defense of liberty and property.

You know that gun control has a racist history in America, right? And that it disproportionately harms women, minorities (particularly blacks), and the poor? Gun control doesn’t work. It just disarms potential crime victims.

Gun control laws were used to make blacks less dangerous, more vulnerable targets of (racially motivated) police abuse and private crime. Even now they are used to incarcerate blacks who haven’t committed any real crimes. Lacking evidence for anything else, the state puts them away on weapons charges (and/or drug charges, but the Drug War’s another unjust racist policy we don’t need to get into).

Women use guns to defend themselves from would-be rapists, domestic abusers, and the like. Guns are an equalizer, giving them a way to protect themselves from bigger, stronger men. You would deny them this? Police protection is a joke; they usually don’t arrive in time.

As I mentioned above, gun control doesn’t work, especially in America. There are already so many guns in private hands here that any new restrictions or bans will have no appreciable effect. Any politically feasible new laws will not involve confiscating these existing guns and will not ban private secondhand sales. Criminals are not wont to respect “gun free zones” and other gun laws in any case. They’ll just purchase their guns on the black market or steal them (as Adam Lanza did).

The Clinton AWB did not reduce gun crimes. A new one won’t either. Connecticut essentially still has a state-level AWB; Lanza’s (mother’s) Bushmaster was CT AWB compliant. So-called “assault weapons” aren’t even the most powerful civilian firearms (many hunting rifle calibers are more powerful); AWBs typically only ban cosmetic “scary” features that don’t affect the lethality of the firearm (like a collapsible stock); and banning high-capacity magazines won’t slow down shooters much (it only takes a second to reload even if you’re not very skilled).

And gun control laws treat people as guilty until proven innocent. They violate the rights of peaceful people to liberty and property. I can see no justification for violating the rights of innocent people just because some bad guys use firearms to murder other innocent people, occasionally a large number of them at once. I get as saddened and outraged as anyone in the anti-gun crowd when these things happen, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

Bottom line: New stricter gun control laws won’t make anyone safer. They won’t stop these mass shootings. They’ll probably contribute to making them worse if we see any change at all (there actually isn’t upward trend in these shootings over the past 30 years and crime is generally down in the US). Government will just have more power and the people less freedom and less security. If you do manage to repeal the 2nd Amendment and confiscate all/most privately-owned firearms in the United States, what are you going to do when the nutcases start using homemade explosives?

One of Obama's drone victims.

One of Obama’s drone victims.

Meanwhile, I don’t see any of the anti-gun crowd shedding any tears for the many children Obama has murdered overseas with his drone strikes. He’s a mass murderer many times worse than Adam Lanza (as was Bush), yet these people voted him back into office and turn a blind eye to his crimes and hypocrisy. What happened to the anti-war left that harangued Bush? Is it really saving human lives that motivates you? Or is it just an unacknowledged lust to control that which you fear, hate, and don’t understand?

]]>
http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/12/21/a-response-to-2nd-amendment-repealers-and-other-gun-control-nuts/feed/ 0
The Marvelous Naïveté of the 3D Print Enthusiasts http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/07/26/the-marvelous-naivete-of-the-3d-print-enthusiasts/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/07/26/the-marvelous-naivete-of-the-3d-print-enthusiasts/#comments Thu, 26 Jul 2012 14:51:01 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=11415 Kurzweil AI reports on a new possibility for the exciting world of 3D printing: drugs. 3D printing could usher in a wonderful new era of unconstrained creativity, which is why, of course, it will be fought tooth and nail by the IP lobby. Consider the mortal threat to drug patents caused by the ability to print a drug.  The furor over home recording equipment would pale in comparison, considering the natural union, in this case, between large pharmaceutical companies and drug warriors.

The other aspects of 3D printing also seem to be headed for a collision course with state intervention. Copyrights and patents will surely impede the abilities of people to print just any old gadget, if that gadget is “protected.” Even if it is not protected by a government monopoly, how about printing guns? Both sides of the aisles would have no problem uniting over this threat to the children. Felons, terrorists, and other such unsavory folk could set up a nice black market for such weapons.

I enjoy reading about the new technology being developed, and I look forward to it being freely available to help improve lives worldwide. But it is fairly clear that in order for that to happen, the unholy alliance of business and state must be taken head on. It is important for the developers and supporters of these technologies to actively oppose the inevitable attempts at limiting them. Intellectual property, being privatized tyranny, is a grave threat to these emerging technologies. For a good example of how bad things can become, just take a look at the privatized tyranny of American cotton and tobacco farming 150 years ago. Don’t say “it can’t happen here.” It already did.

]]>
http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/07/26/the-marvelous-naivete-of-the-3d-print-enthusiasts/feed/ 0
Super-statists Love The Super State http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/09/05/super-statists-love-the-super-state/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/09/05/super-statists-love-the-super-state/#comments Mon, 05 Sep 2011 18:35:30 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=9059 After a horrific and murderous weekend in NYC, Mayor Bloomberg, frustrated that folks determined on committing crimes are ignoring those magical incantations and spells enacted by local legislators, does what must necessarily follow in the mind of the statist: call the feds.

“We cannot tolerate it,” Bloomberg said while speaking at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn. “There are just too many guns on the streets and we have to do something about it.”

New York has the toughest gun laws in the country, but Bloomberg said the city alone cannot stop the onslaught of shootings. “We need the federal government to step up,” he said.

The problem of crime is that it finds a way. And prohibitions are, at best, marginal; but they are totalitarian nonetheless and have no place in a free society. To try to control the means of the few by subjecting the entirety of society to the dictate of a despot is a symptom of desperation. After all, not every place experiences the same level of overall crime or the same numbers of crimes committed by firearms.

And then there is the elephant in the room. As Robert Wicks points out, “‘getting guns off the streets’ is just code for ‘getting poor urban minorities to disarm themselves.'” Indeed, NYC’s own government report on crime shows that minorities both commit and experience a higher percentage of crimes. Yet because most minorities are not criminals but potential victims, gun disarmament leaves minorities in a greater situation of peril. Of course, politicians do not understand economics or how incentives work so they would never think that ending drug (and gun) prohibition, welfare, taxes, zoning and licenses, rent control and compulsory education would radically lower crime across the board.

As for Bloomberg, his policies, and the policies of Albany, are–let’s face it–pretty much an epic fail. The last thing anyone needs is the federal government coming in to “fix” things.

 

]]>
http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/09/05/super-statists-love-the-super-state/feed/ 3
Getting Guns “Off the Streets” http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/09/01/getting-guns-off-the-streets/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/09/01/getting-guns-off-the-streets/#comments Thu, 01 Sep 2011 22:10:10 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=9028 Manuel Lora pointed me to this article on the “success” of last year’s Kicks for Guns campaign. Talk show hosts and various promoters of these programs love to talk about taking guns “off the streets,” as if a person who makes a living as a criminal, using a gun, would trade it in for a pair of shoes. As others have mentioned, these programs generally only result in a bunch of old, fairly useless guns being turned in in the first place. But I want to address the notions behind the rhetoric.

It seems apparent to me, based on the places where these events are staged, that “getting guns off the streets” is just code for “getting poor urban minorities to disarm themselves.” The main people who would turn in a functional gun in an inner city are 1) drug addicts who are just looking for something which can be converted into cash for drugs or traded directly for drugs and 2) people who try to avoid using guns. Obviously, people of type 2 are not much of a threat in terms of gun crime, but even 1) is really not a threat. A drug user who feels that a gun is better used as currency for drugs, rather than used as a tool for robbery, is exactly the kind of drug user who is no physical threat.

This is just an angle for the anti-gun lobby. Unfortunately, it is one which resonates with the “law and order” gun lobby. Black liberals have often accused conservatives of using racist “code” when addressing minority issues. “Getting guns off the street” is code embraced by liberals of all colors, and all-too-frequently resonates with conservatives as well.

]]>
http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/09/01/getting-guns-off-the-streets/feed/ 0
Keeping Rights on Paper, Losing Them on the Streets http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/07/22/keeping-rights-on-paper-losing-them-on-the-streets/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/07/22/keeping-rights-on-paper-losing-them-on-the-streets/#comments Sat, 23 Jul 2011 04:55:39 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=8863 While many people love to promote the various rights guaranteed by the Constitution, it is interesting to see how rights are restricted not through legislation or even an active judiciary, but simply by law enforcement not respecting them. Consider the right to keep and bear arms and this officer’s reaction to a man exercising his right. The Second Amendment has been upheld by the courts, and there have been recent landmark cases restoring that right to people unfortunate enough to live in places like Washington, D.C. Legal victories such at that have little effect on those supposedly hired to defend person and property, however:

Here is an example of how the mere presence of police officers is a defacto restriction on the exercise of rights. This could have easily turned into a deadly confrontation. If the officer had killed this man, it is unlikely, given what we have seen across the country, that he would have faced any criminal charges, even though his entire demeanor makes it unmistakably clear that this officer is just that: a hardened criminal.

This sort of behavior makes carrying a gun a much more dicey affair. Eventually, people may find that carrying a gun actually makes them less safe, as the likelihood of an encounter with the police becomes greater than an encounter with a private criminal in a growing police state. This is already the case with blacks, but as I have mentioned before, the rights we have in the face of the police is an example of equality in oppression, rather than equal freedoms. Perhaps in the future, the courts can go ahead and formalize the whole thing and say that we have no rights that the uniformed man is bound to respect.

]]>
http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/07/22/keeping-rights-on-paper-losing-them-on-the-streets/feed/ 4
The Good In American Culture http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/03/17/the-good-in-american-culture/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/03/17/the-good-in-american-culture/#comments Thu, 17 Mar 2011 17:30:25 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=8204 Easily 99% of what American libertarians talk about is the demise of the country, with countless daily examples of new regulations, and the devastating results of those regulations. The US is, after all, in what to many appear to be an accelerating rate of decay compared to other countries around the world. The endless complaining and whining of the libertarian is not without merit–“our” federal government has for decades now been a worldwide aggressor. That said, there are a few aspects of American lifestyle that, in my opinion, are worth mentioning. These are things that I think are at least superior to that which exists elsewhere. In making this list I asked for comments by fellow TLS bloggers.

Full disclosure: for what it’s worth, personally, my only point of comparison is having lived half of my life in Perú and the other in the USA.

Of course, for each one of the points mentioned below there is some sort of state intervention that makes things more expensive or complicated. Still, there is something to be said about Americanism that is not all negative.

Affordable access to technology. Though things are improving in South America, import taxes are so high that it is not uncommon for people to travel to the US and bring back all kinds of electronics in their suitcase, pass them as their own, and then give them to buyers.

Can-do attitude. Everyday life is not a challenge. For the most part, people are cooperative, helpful, thankful and attentive. Special circumstances are not often resisted or met with disdain. In Perú, things are impossible, difficult, and take eons, but only because of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Speed of business. My cousin spent a year doing lab research in Italy. He noted that things got done “whenever” and nobody ever knew when an order would be fulfilled. Sure, there is a difference in culture. In my opinion, so long as things are done well, faster is better–it also makes you less poor.

Homeschooling. In large parts of Europe homeschooling is illegal or extremely regulated. Yes, there is always the black market, but there are huge risks involved (losing your kids or parenting rights, fines, jailtime, etc.). Homeschooling is legal in every state of the US, with some states giving homeschooling parents very favorable conditions (see a href=”http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp”>this map).

Entrepreneurship. Nobody blinks an eye upon being told, casually even, that the person conversing with them owns a business or two or three. The idea of starting a business, even a tiny, one-person operation, is not special.

When working on this post I received the following comment (edited for bloggability) from Anthony Gregory:

Music — jazz, country, blues and rock, all ours. Film — we invented it and still dominate. Literature — some of the best stuff written in English. Food — lots of stuff was developed and created here. Culture — we kick ass in everything from clothing to modern art. Political philosophy — we said goodbye to empire, ushering in two centuries of global liberalization. Modern libertarianism — our people invented the freaking thing. I love America as much as anyone in this country, goddamn it. I will defend America until I’m blue in the face.

Let’s continue.

Optimism. “Americans are uniquely (and, to foreigners, obnoxiously) optimistic. Pessimism is the order of the day elsewhere, but not here.” ~Akiva

Service. Granted, this one varies widely, but in my experience, in the US those in the service industry are either happy to see you, or, most likely, pretend to be. That’s fine, because in other countries, you are sadly more than often treated as a burden. Yes, customers treated like a burden who ruin a clerk’s otherwise completely idle day.

Drive-thrus. A convenient, time saver. No need to get out of your car and walk in the cold or in the heat. Once, years ago, my wife and met a German exchange student. He said that in his country, drive-thrus were seen as inhuman and were not popular. I just rolled my eyes and thought “FAIL” at such a comment. Do they have stoves in Germany or cars?

Charity. Personal and corporate charitable donations, foundations, scholarships, memorial funds abound. Americans tend to rank near the top when it comes to non-profit financial support.

24/7 places. Some years ago Gabriel Calzada (founder of the Instituto Juan de Mariana) and I were walking around Manhattan. He still got a kick out of seeing businesses actually opened on Sundays, as well as businesses running 24/7. In Spain, he told me, some businesses are prohibited from opening on Sundays, supposedly for protectionist reasons (big stores vs. small stores).

Guns. Though a few states have it almost as bad as Europe, in most of the US you can go buy a firearm in minutes from a store; in most states you can also (legally) buy one from a private seller with no government notice, permit or registry. And in a handful of states you can take a handgun and carry it concealed without a permit.

Classlessness. In developing countries, where income mobility is not high, a de facto class system has therefore been established. In Perú, for example, it is common–indeed expected–for the poor to not generally approach or talk to the non-poor unless they are begging for money or asking for business. For the upper middle class and above, it is just not usual, and sometimes even frowned upon, for the “privileged” to mingle, chat or engage in random conversation at a checkout lane, with the lower classes. In the US there can be a bit of this, but it is nowhere near as pronounced. Most folks have no problem interacting with any other person regardless of their position in life or income. Americans greet, and shake hands, with anyone else, and tend to respect the other person for their accomplishments and work. There are even linguistic examples of “classiness.” If you are upper middle class, it is expected for you to use the informal version of you (tu) when speaking with someone of a “lower” class, whereas the “plebes” are expected to use the formal you (usted) when addressing their “betters.”

Fellow TLS blogger Akiva shares the following comment regarding American optimism and individualism:

On the first day of B-school, they had an expert on international culture who consults with major companies come and give us some behavior and attitudes test and then explain the outcome. The bottom line is that Americans are *extreme* outliers. American culture is unique. Despite all the crap that has happened, Americans are as culturally exceptional as they were in de Tocqueville’s day.

They reject fate and believe in in the power of individual choice. American celebrate mavericks; they’d never say, “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down”. On a very fundamental level, Americans value others as free individuals and expect those around them to do the same. There is no deference to authority, experience, or seniority, Americans expect people to justify themselves by their words and deeds, not because of who they are. Individualism and freedom are not political ideas here, they are cultural values, to the point that even the enemies of freedom must pay lip service to them.

Americans believe in the rule of law with almost religious fervor. That the state has to justify not only every exercise of power but even its very existence, is a uniquely American attitude. When Americans say that the state “can’t” do something they don’t mean it as a procedural formality, but as a statement of metaphysical reality.

America succeed b/c of the people and despite the government. Everywhere else seems to have *needed* political leadership to get anything done, but Americans by and large just take care of business. Politics is not a field that attracts the best and brightest, America doesn’t produce great statesman, but that’s b/c its best people have
better things to do. Politicians may talk of taxing the rich, but even on the left, very few would begrudge Gates, Dell, or others who made their fortunes with “honest” work.

In short, what is good about America is everything that riles the Europeans, offends those from the Far East, and mystifies everyone else.

To this list I can probably add tolerance and heterogeneity. Unlike places where there is significant pressure to never deviate from “standard” behavior, in the US people do not care too much if individuals or families do things that are not “the norm.” There are numerous “private holidays” and events and activities of all kinds. These exist all over the world, but in my opinion (again, drawing from my Peruvian experience) folks who deviate from what is standard are easily categorized as weird or outcasts, even if their interests are not, for international standards, extravagant or radically unusual.

For the “average” Austro-anarcho-libertarian, the US is free-fall, with totalitarianism around the corner. But there is also plenty of good.

]]>
http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/03/17/the-good-in-american-culture/feed/ 0