The Right – The Libertarian Standard http://libertarianstandard.com Property - Prosperity - Peace Wed, 27 Apr 2016 06:16:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 A new website and group blog of radical Austro-libertarians, shining the light of reason on truth and justice. The Right – The Libertarian Standard clean The Right – The Libertarian Standard thelibertarianstandard@gmail.com thelibertarianstandard@gmail.com (The Right – The Libertarian Standard) CC-BY Property - Prosperity - Peace The Right – The Libertarian Standard http://libertarianstandard.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://libertarianstandard.com/category/rightwing/ TV-G Stamping Out Dissent http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/07/22/stamping-out-dissent/ Mon, 22 Jul 2013 22:46:57 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12590 NewMarianneStampMy fixation on female national personifications continues:

Socialist president François Hollande has successfully courted controversy in his Bastille Day announcement of a new national postage stamp.

Since 1944, each new French president has chosen a new illustration for France’s postage stamps — always an image of Marianne, the Phrygian-hat-wearing feminine symbol of the French Republic (the way the UK has Britannia and the US used to have Columbia before Uncle Sam elbowed her aside).

"I decided following my election," said Hollande, "that the Republic’s new stamp would have the face of youth, that it would be created by youth, and that it would be chosen by youth."

Chosen by youth? Check. The design was chosen from a list of 15 finalists "preselected by a jury that included schoolchildren." (The French, by the way, are very candid about the importance of the French school system for indoctrinating children. They are much more comfortable with the idea than most Americans seem to be. French schools must instill "republican values." This is what always comes up in discussions of homeschooling and laws against Muslim girls wearing veils.)

Created by youth? Maybe. The stamp was designed by 34-year-old French artist and gay-rights activist Oliver Ciappa, who says the new stamp "blends elements of Renaissance art, French comics, Japanese manga, and US animation from the 1950s."

Face of youth? Previous models for Marianne have included Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve. Hollande and Ciappa decided to go a different direction. And this is what is causing the controversy. The new Marianne is inspired by 23-year-old Inna Shevchenko, a leader in the Ukrainian feminist protest group called FEMEN.

Shevchenko has just been granted political asylum in France.

According to the Atlantic,

The flamboyant activist ran afoul of Ukrainian authorities after cutting down a cross with a chainsaw in central Kyiv, wearing only skimpy shorts, in support of jailed members of the Russian punk feminist collective Pussy Riot.

"It’s great to enter history in this manner," said Shevchenko. "But the nicest part of it is that now every time a homophobe, a fascist, or an extremist in France wants to send a letter by mail, he will have to lick Femen’s [backside]." (The BBC reports that she used a much ruder word than "backside." My francophone wife guesses that Shevchenko really said cul.)

The US Postal Service has had its share of stamp controversies. Thin Elvis versus fat Elvis comes to mind. But it seems like the French president is deliberately seeking to provoke a large segment of the French population — the ones who didn’t vote for him.

Thomas Jefferson, a supporter of the French Revolution and a fan of the French Republic at a time when American republicans were divided on the question of France, famously wrote,

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.

I guess we should not be surprised that a Socialist president would beg to differ. So would almost all American politicians.

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Enoch was right (wing) http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/04/24/enoch-was-right-wing/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/04/24/enoch-was-right-wing/#comments Wed, 24 Apr 2013 14:43:14 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12448 Enoch PowellI have a fondness for Enoch Powell that I never could manage for Margaret Thatcher. Perhaps that’s because I was indoctrinated to hate Thatcher and had never heard of Powell before last Saturday, when Wikipedia noted the 45th anniversary of the so-called Rivers of Blood speech for which he is infamous.

Both Thatcher and Powell were British politicians. Both were Conservatives. (Powell eventually left the Conservative party, claiming that while he was a life-long Tory, there were good Tories in the Labour Party. I guess I don’t really understand Toryism.) Both Thatcher and Powell are targets of left-wing hatred and smeared as proto-fascists. (See Lawrence Reed on the recent anti-Thatcher hatefest in the UK.) And I suspect the British Left would have a hard time distinguishing either of them politically from libertarians. We’re all ultra right wing, radically free market, and anti progress, aren’t we?

Powell rose to political stardom at the same time he fell from political power. On April 20, 1968, he gave a speech criticizing the British government’s existing immigration laws and its proposed anti-discrimination legislation. Everywhere I’ve looked for information on this speech and the speechmaker, these two issues have been conflated, and yet to a libertarian they could not be more different.

Two issues:

  1. Immigration
  2. Discrimination

On one of these, Powell seems to be in accord with us. On the other, not so much.

Immigration

Calls for the state to control or limit immigration are antithetical to the libertarian goal of limiting or eliminating the state itself.

(Unplanned plug: at Invisible Order we just completed our second ebook for Reason magazine, and it happens to be apropos: Pro-Growth and Humane: A Reason Guide to Immigration Reform.)

Discrimination

On the other hand, any law that prohibits individuals from discriminating on any basis they choose is a violation of the fundamental rights of free association and free thought. This line from Powell’s speech, which one detractor called an “explosion of bigotry,” could not be more in accord with libertarian thinking:

The third element of the Conservative Party’s policy is that all who are in this country as citizens should be equal before the law and that there shall be no discrimination or difference made between them by public authority. As Mr. Heath has put it, we will have no “first-class citizens” and “second-class citizens”. This does not mean that the immigrant and his descendants should be elevated into a privileged or special class or that the citizen should be denied his right to discriminate in the management of his own affairs between one fellow citizen and another or that he should be subjected to inquisition as to his reasons and motives for behaving in one lawful manner rather than another.

What is not at all in accord with liberty is Powell’s suggestion that the British taxpayer provide “generous grants and assistance” to help immigrants leave the UK. (Paul McCartney apparently considered some Enoch-specific lyrics in the Beatles song “Get Back (to Where You Once Belonged)” but they didn’t make it into the final release.)

If Margaret Thatcher was the British Ronald Reagan (or vice versa), perhaps Enoch Powell was the British Pat Buchanan (or vice versa). Like Buchanan, Powell was an ultra-nationalist. Like Buchanan, he consistently took positions in opposition to the main party line of his country’s conservatives. Powell supported gay rights and opposed nuclear weapons, at least within Britain. He advocated the dismantling of the British Empire.

Unlike Buchanan, Powell often advocated for free-market positions, although he seems, like Buchanan, to have had a soft spot for economic nationalism (which consistently takes the form of protecting the nation’s producers at the expense of the nation’s consumers).

While writing this post, I thought I should double-check to see if Murray Rothbard had had anything to say about Enoch Powell back in the day. Here’s the Libertarian Forum on the British elections of 1974:

Decades of horrific British policies have created a rigid, stratified, and cartellized economy, a set of frozen power blocs integrated with Big Government: namely, Big Business and Big Labor. Even the most cautious and gradualist of English libertarians now admit that only a radical political change can save England. Enoch Powell is the only man on the horizon who could be the sparkplug for such a change. It is true, of course, that for libertarians Enoch Powell has many deficiencies. For one thing he is an admitted High Tory who believes in the divine right of kings; for another, his immigration policy is the reverse of libertarian. But on the critical issues in these parlous times: on checking the inflationary rise in the money supply, and on scuttling the disastrous price and wage controls, Powell is by far the soundest politician in Britain. A sweep of Enoch Powell into power would hardly be ideal, but it offers the best existing hope for British freedom and survival. (Libertarian Forum, March 1974Download PDF)

And 8 months later:

Amidst this turmoil, the most heartening sign is the rapid growth of libertarians and anarcho-capitalists in a country that only a few years ago had virtually no one even as "extreme" as Milton Friedman. The major libertarian group is centered around Pauline Russell, and includes businessmen, journalists, economists, and others ranging from anarcho-capitalists to neo-Randians to the Selsdon Group, the free-market ginger group within the Conservative Party. Most of this group is friendly with the notable Enoch Powell, who of all the politicians in England is the only one with both the knowledge and the will to stop the monetary inflation and to put through a free market program and an end to wage and price controls. Powell, himself, despite his Tory devotion to the monarchy (which is seconded even by many of the English anarcho-capitalists), has grown increasingly libertarian. The Powell forces were working on a gusty strategy for the then forthcoming October elections: voting Labour in order to smash the statist leadership of Edward Heath. (Libertarian Forum, November 1974Download PDF)

(Cross-posted at bkmarcus.com.)

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On the Boston Lockdown http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/04/20/on-the-boston-lockdown/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/04/20/on-the-boston-lockdown/#comments Sat, 20 Apr 2013 20:39:09 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12440 One doesn’t have to be any sort of radical to be appalled that thousands of police, working with federal troops and agents, would “lockdown” an entire city—shutting down public transit, closing virtually all businesses, intimidating anyone from leaving their home, and going door to door with SWAT teams in pursuit of one suspect. The power of the police to “lockdown” a city is an authoritarian, borderline totalitarian power. A “lockdown” is prison terminology for forcing all prisoners into their cells. They did not do this to pursue the DC sniper, or to go after the Kennedy assassin, and I fear the precedent. It is eerie that this happened in an American city, and it should be eerie to you, no matter where you fall on the spectrum. You can tell me that most people in Boston were happy to go along with it, but that’s not really the point, either. If two criminals can bring an entire city to its knees like this with the help of the state, then terrorism truly is a winning strategy. (And we should also keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of the massive police response did not aid in capturing the suspect—it ultimately turned on that old fashioned breakthrough—a normal denizen calling the authorities with information.)

If America suffered a bombing like the Boston Marathon atrocity every week, America would feel like a very different place, although the homicide rate would only be about one percent higher. I acknowledge the maiming was on a mass scale, but this kind of attack has to be taken in perspective in terms of how much of a risk it poses to the average American, because we have to consider what response the people would tolerate in the event of more frequent or far worse attacks.

If the people of the United States will cheer seeing a whole city shut down, even for just a day, in the event of a horrific attack that nevertheless had 1/1000th the fatalities and about two percent of the casualties of 9/11, what would Americans support in light of another 9/11? What about a dirty bomb going off in a major city? The question has nothing to do with what government wants to do, or whether police statism is a goal or simply a consequence. What will the *people* want and expect the government to do if tens of thousands were chaotically killed and injured in a terrible terror attack, or if many small attacks hit the country? I fear they would welcome the abolition of liberty altogether, given their reaction to last night. That, of course, is altogether the wrong response. If we cannot look at the police reaction last night very critically, there is really no hope for even moderate protection of our civil liberties today.

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Unipartisanship is the new bipartisanship http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/11/30/unipartisanship-is-the-new-bipartisanship/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/11/30/unipartisanship-is-the-new-bipartisanship/#comments Fri, 30 Nov 2012 22:05:58 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12079 Romney bans certain kinds of guns; Obama supports war and Bush-era doctrines; Romney enacts (even more) socialist-fascist health care; Obama has a near opaque administration in spite of the desire to be transparent.

The so-called “left” promotes a policy (say, universal healthcare or the individual mandate or the health care exchanges). The “right” opposes it. The opposition is usually superficial and us used as talking points to obtain votes. The object of power is power, after all. Assuming the policy becomes law, and assuming (as is often the case) it receives widespread support, the right becomes less vociferous about repealing the law. At best they want to reform; usually either nothing happens or the mildest of cosmetic changes are made, if only to appease the fringe party supporters. Today’s progressive, becomes tomorrow’s conservative. Already, for example, the financially devastating Obamacare that was such a hot topic a year ago is starting to go away in the eyes of most–that is, if you don’t have a business facing ever-higher health care costs. Soon the right will stop talking about repealing it or replacing it with something else. Florida governor Rick Scott, who initially opposed setting up the FL healthcare exchange, has changed his tune–how unexpected!

On the other “side” of the political spectrum, the totalitarian and warmongering right wing, whose most recent icon and trend setter is GWB, pushes for war and empire and crackdowns on civil liberties. The left claims to oppose it. When Bush II was in power the progressives, ever irate, regaled us with their smugness (and, as we now know, insincere) opposition to the Bush administration’s policies and tactics. Enter a democratic president. Oh my–what happened!? Suddenly Obama adopts and relishes in continuing core Bush doctrines as well as expanding into new territories of despotism: droning and NDAA come to mind. Today’s warmongering conservative is tomorrow warmongering progressive.

I for one welcome our new unipartisanship overlords.

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When Will the Voters Learn? http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/10/19/when-will-the-voters-learn/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/10/19/when-will-the-voters-learn/#comments Fri, 19 Oct 2012 22:05:07 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=11826 Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” ~ Clay Shirky

You know the slavery Kool-Aid is working well when those who are oppressed petition their oppressors for more of that which helps keep them oppressed.

For instance, public education is a tool that was designed–specifically and directly–as a means of controlling the hoi polloi.  The educational system of compulsory public education championed by Horace Mann, chock-full of multiple-choice testing perfected by Frederick J. Kelly, feeding into statistical models based upon the work of (eugenicist) Sir Francis Galton, was (and is) designed to fulfill the need for employees who are primed and ready to inhabit factories where efficiency can be measured in ways developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor. (The fact that so few of such factories currently exist in America should also be telling, but that’s a different discussion.) Mann believed “universal public education was the best way to turn the nation’s unruly children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens.” The whole thing was designed to produce a seething throng of people ready to take orders, stand in line, ask few questions, and install bumpers all day–accepting the interminable boredom of such a life–while their over-lords made a ton of money.  Free and compulsory public education was never intended to create inquisitive, risk-taking, leaders. Or entrepreneurs and/or business owners.  Or frankly, owners of anything! Yet, people clamor that “education is a right” and “we need more funding for our schools” despite the inescapable fact that these same crap holes are doing their best at producing children incapable of independent thought and unable to read a book (or a blueprint), solve a simple mathematics problem, or devise a new strategy.  It’s damned sad, really.

A similar conclusion can be drawn regarding government job creation. Throughout the current election season, you’ll hear people clamoring that Obama will do all he can to create jobs while Romney won’t, or some such simplistic foolishness. Any president who claims to create jobs, uses tax dollars and government debt to pay people wages that are too high, for work that otherwise likely would not be done. In other words, the money is wasted on boondoggles. This action has at least two negative side-effects.  One, it takes money from those who produce it and gives it to someone else. (That’s the taxation piece.) That might sound good to the recipient unless he realizes that he is only getting the proverbial fish that feeds him for a day, if that long. Secondly, this stolen–they call it stimulus nowadays–money results in those at the top having more real income than the supposed beneficiaries of those government-created jobs. (That’s the inflation piece.) The people who think they benefit from the government-created-jobs are worse off in the long term, despite all appearances to the contrary in the short term. Ludwig von Mises spoke of this phenomenon in, “On Current Monetary Problems” with:

The advocates of annual increases in the quantity of money never mention the fact that for all those who do not get a share of the newly created additional quantity of money, the government’s action means a drop in their purchasing power which forces them to restrict their consumption. It is ignorance of this fundamental fact that induces various authors of economic books and articles to suggest a yearly increase of money without realizing that such a measure necessarily brings about an undesirable impoverishment of a great part, even the majority, of the population.

An injection of money into the economy by the government generally results in a transfer of wealth towards the top—real income transferred from those who can least afford it to those who already have plenty. (I already noted some time ago that this phenomenon seemed to get rolling in 1980.  The chart below is instructive.) One might even suppose this state-facilitated income transfer is the reason why statists in power so strongly support government control of the money supply, but that’s another discussion. Bottom Line:  Those who clamor for a president who cares about them get the same treatment and results as they would from some random bastard who openly scorned them. (No offense to the random bastard you support!)

And yet, here we are at election time, and the clarion calls continue to go up, from both sides of the ostensible aisle.

Cross-Posted at LRCBlog.

Five-Year Average Increase in Real Wages

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Has Romney Been Reading Bastiat? http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/09/18/has-romney-been-reading-bastiat/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/09/18/has-romney-been-reading-bastiat/#comments Tue, 18 Sep 2012 16:43:53 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=11697

“Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” ~ Frederic Bastiat

No. Not even.

When Romney said “there are 47 percent who are with him [POTUS], who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them” he was roughly half right. Very. Roughly. What he left out is that the “other” 47 percent, those that are with him [Romney] are after the same thing. Admittedly, the number of people who are unrepentant tax feeders, to use Will Grigg’s apt description, is likely (hopefully?) lower than 94 percent. The naive, hopeful dreamer in me would peg it at probably closer to 65–75 percent.  Whatever the exact number is, the simple fact of the matter is that politics — particularly in the U.S., but abroad as well — is dominated by sociopaths with megalomaniacal tendencies who are often attended to and served by sycophants with dependency issues.

The other 25-35 percent and I just wish they’d all leave us the hell alone.

(Cross-Posted at LRCBlog.)

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It’s Rothbard contra the conservatives this summer in Denver http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/03/27/its-rothbard-contra-the-conservatives-this-summer-in-denver/ Wed, 28 Mar 2012 04:50:37 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10740 If you happen to be a University of Colorado student, or if you’d like to shell out lots of bucks as a non-degree student, join me this summer at the Denver campus for an upper-division, 3-credit-hour undergraduate seminar on the Conservative-Libertarian debate on the American right. We’ll consider the usual texts, but also the history of the movement through the writings of Murray Rothbard and Justin Raimondo.

See the class web site here.

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Many Americans don’t pay income tax. Is this a bad thing? http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/02/24/many-americans-dont-pay-income-tax-is-this-a-bad-thing/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/02/24/many-americans-dont-pay-income-tax-is-this-a-bad-thing/#comments Fri, 24 Feb 2012 20:51:57 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10553 Last week, the Heritage Foundation published commentary on the number of Americans who pay income tax, and decried the fact that 49.5 percent of Americans are “not represented on a taxable return.” The Daily Mail then picked up the statistics and announced that “HALF of Americans don’t pay income tax despite crippling government debt.”

To its credit, the body of the Heritage post began with a reference to the “the sharp increase of Americans who rely on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid or other assistance.” The emphasis of the piece, however, and thus, the emphasis of the other news outlets and pundits who have picked up on the statistic, is that too few people pay taxes.

The increase in reliance on government assistance is the problem here, not a lack of people who pay income tax.

Yet, it has become something of a right-wing talking point to claim that a declining number of taxpayers among some income groups is a nefarious development in American history.

The emphasis on the lack of taxpayers is getting the whole issue backward. The problem is the increase of income from government transfer payments. There is nothing bad whatsoever about fewer people paying income taxes.

The Conservative obsession with getting people to pay more in taxes comes from a preoccupation with class warfare in which it is assumed that if middle-class and wealthy people are paying too much in taxes (which they are), then the solution is to punish low-income people by making them pay more in taxes. It’s allegedly not “fair” if everyone is not being extorted by the state in a similar fashion.

The just solution, however, is to greatly decrease the tax burden of those paying taxes now. In a recent NPR interview, Ron Paul nicely summed up what is actually “fair”:

MR. SIEGEL: This week’s release of Mitt Romney’s taxes and President Obama’s advocacy of a millionaire’s tax raise questions about fairness in funding the government. The first question: Do you believe that income derived from dividends interest or capital gains should be taxed at a lower rate than income earned from a salary or commissions?

REP. PAUL: Well, I’d like to have everybody taxed at the same rate, and of course, my goal is to get as close to zero as possible, because there was a time in our history when we didn’t have income taxes. But when government takes it upon themselves to do so much, you have to have a tax code. But if you’re going to be the policemen of the world and run all these wars, you have to have a tax code. But as far as what the rates should be, I think it should be as low as possible for – for everybody.

It’s a safe bet that Siegel’s underlying assumption behind the question is that in order to make taxes fair, then anyone who is paying a tax bill that is too “low” should therefore have his taxes raised.

The opposite is true, as noted by Paul.

So, when Conservatives get bent out of shape about some people not paying tax, the response should be to demand lower taxes for everyone, not to complain that people aren’t paying their “fair share,” which seems to be the Conservative sentiment.

We might also note that this statistic apparently only applies to income taxes. It says nothing about payroll taxes, which for many middle-class people is by far the largest part of one’s monthly tax bill. Any teenager with his first job notices just how much those payroll taxes take out of one’s paycheck. So, to claim that people aren’t paying taxes simply because they’re not paying income tax is rather disingenuous. Since there’s no such thing as a Social Security or Medicare trust fund, payroll taxes are really just income taxes under another name.

Also, any demand for more taxation is really just a demand for increased government revenue. It’s a call for more money so government can bomb more people, bail out more banks and spread around more largesse to politically well-connected friends.

So, the focus on whether or not “enough” people are paying taxes completely misses the point. The larger point is that far too many Americans receive government benefits. Indeed, recent increases in income as measured by the BLS, reflect increases in government transfer payments, as I’ve shown here.

Ludwig von Mises wrote in Bureaucracy that a system in which a majority of the population is dependent on the government dole leads to an unstable political and economic situation, since a majority of the population then has a vested interest in increasing the power of government to redistribute wealth. While the Heritage article makes some comments in this vein, it nevertheless makes the claim that “The rapid growth of Americans who don’t pay income taxes is particularly alarming for the fate of the American form of government.” Really? By that logic, “the American form of government” would be in danger if the income tax were abolished. Oh, how did America ever survive prior to the 16th Amendment?

There is no doubt that the growth in dependency on government largesse is a serious problem, but that doesn’t mean that any American pays too little in taxes. It simply means that the government spends too much money.

The Conservative reaction to this statistic, however, seem to be: “Hey, those guys aren’t being taxed! Tax them!” This is hardly a phrase that should be uttered by anyone who claims to be for limited government.

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Fears of Decentralization http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/02/08/fears-of-decentralization/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/02/08/fears-of-decentralization/#comments Wed, 08 Feb 2012 13:27:21 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10489 Many libertarians, perhaps most notably Thomas E. Woods, support the decentralization of power from the federal government, including the power of nullification. Many people fear and denounce this power, often because they like the immense power of the central state and are supporters of big government. There are, however, some very real concerns by people who desire freedom as their highest political goal. A simple question, which is asked in various forms is “if decentralization leads to more freedom, why did African slavery thrive in a more decentralized America, and only go away (well, sort of) when the central state forced it to go away?” Similar statements could be said of Jim Crow.

Tom Woods briefly addresses a critical point which bears emphasis: a major problem with decentralization is that decentralizing power may have huge negative effects for people who cannot vote.  The very people who are most obsessed with them not having political power are the people who are most empowered by the receding power of the central state. This points to the people that libertarian activists should concentrate on protecting: non-citizens (including both legal and illegal immigrants) and convicted felons in states which strip them of the franchise. As most minorities have the ability to exercise the vote, the greatest evils of the past have no chance of being repeated. And some unprecedented benefits may come about. Without the significant support of the federal government, individual states could not maintain the murderous drug war at the levels at which it is currently prosecuted.  Family and morals-destroying welfare programs would have to be greatly scaled back without the ability to print money. Taxes would have to be levied to pay for these things, forcing citizens to carefully evaluate just how much they wish to impoverish themselves in the attempt to eradicate various victimless crimes.

The benefits don’t end there. Freedom would be catching in this country for several reasons. Our national myths support the value of freedom. The proximity of states and the freedom of movement among them, in the face of massive differences in the amount of liberty inside them, would mean that the most inventive, industrious people would tend to leave less free areas and go to more free ones. This would impoverish the most oppressive states, further pressuring them to liberate. Perhaps the single most important factor which would allow liberty to really catch in the United States is that the US military would not be looking to crush these efforts, as it does in other countries. If liberty is to be permitted by any government, it is likely that it will have to be permitted in the USA, as the American government is among the world’s most fervent supporters of foisting government on people, whether they like it or not, in the name of “stability.”

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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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