A Geek With Guns

Views from a geek gun nut

Posts Tagged ‘Not So Crazy Libertarian Ideals

Slate Doesn’t Know Shit About Libertarianism

Slate magazine demonstrated a few days ago that they don’t know jack shit about libertarianism. The article is a long diatribe build almost entirely on made up “facts.” Instead of going through the article piece by piece and pointing out each of Slate’s numerous errors I’m going to stand on the shoulder of giants and let others who have gone before me point out the flaws in Slate’s article.

First we have a nice piece that explains the fact that libertarianism didn’t start in the 1970s as claimed by Slate but was alive and well before that under the name liberalism. The same article points to the fact that Ayn Rand did more to bring people to libertarianism than the supposed father of libertarian (according to Slate) Robert Nozick (whom I never actually heard of until I read Slates article strangely enough).

The following links were obtained from the previous so a heartfelt thanks goes out to the author, V.A. Luttrell. First the Cato institute has a nice piece destroying Slate’s claim that Nozick disavowed libertarianism.

Slate then went ahead and made a claim that Keynes (you know an article is worthless when it’s citing Keynes as an authoritative source on anything) said a rather nasty thing about Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. What Slate got wrong was that Keynes made the comment about Hayek’s Prices and Productions but actually wrote that he found himself in agreement with The Road to Serfdom. Oops.

Slate’s article then claimed that two of the fathers of libertarianism (you know besides the apparent father Nozick), von Mises and Hayek, were nothing but corporate shills. Unfortunately for Slate that isn’t true. Whoops again.

Although I feel the fact is self-evident apparently others do not. Slate wrote the usual and completely false claim that Libertarianism is composed of nothing but greedy individuals who care nothing for others. Once again this claim is false. The fact of the matter is the libertarian movement is an attempt to make all interactions between people voluntary instead of done at the point of a gun. Libertarianism is the abhorrence of violence and coercion which is made clear by the fact the foundation of libertarianism is the non-aggression principle.

Slate would do well to actually research libertarianism before making such blatant and false claims. Of course writing a factual critique wasn’t the point, I firmly believe the author knew damned well that he was printing false information and wanted nothing more than to slander the movement he hates so much. Too bad for the author that people who do follow libertarian philosophy don’t let such falsities go without challenge.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I Have a Cheaper Solution

Hillary Clinton has gone ahead and promised more American dollars to Central American countries to help them fight our drug war:

Mrs Clinton told a regional security conference in Guatemala that the US would increase its aid by more than 10% to nearly $300m (£187m).

Analysts say the figure is still small, given that more than two-thirds of cocaine sent from South America to the US now passes through Central America.

In total, some $1.8bn was promised to support the region’s security.

That’s a lot of taxpayer money just to enforce a prohibition on what people put into their own bodies. Instead of spending billions fighting this needless war, keeping non-violent people imprisoned, and getting people killed enforcing anti-drug laws let’s try something better, let’s just end the prohibition on currently illegal drugs.

Ron Paul and Barney Frank understand this and rumor has it that they’ll introduce a bill to legalize marijuana very soon. This would be the first step in ending the pointless war on drugs and would likely slash the number of people we put into prison every year.

We should have learned our lesson about prohibition during Prohibition. All the war on drugs has accomplished is the waste of untold billions (maybe trillions) of dollars, increase the rate of violent crime, lead to drug cartels gaining enough power to basically overthrow several states (and replace them with even more violence which is the negative part), and swelled our prison population to the highest in the world.

We can’t control what people put into their bodies because simply making something illegal doesn’t stop it from happening (which is why we have criminals by the way).

Written by Christopher Burg

June 23, 2011 at 11:30 am

Companies Abandoning California at an Accelerated Rate

What happens when you increase the tax burden on companies in order to correct a state deficit? Those companies start leaving. Companies are run by people and people are generally willing to put up with only so much abuse until they analyze their situation and consider their options. California has been increasing taxes on businesses and it’s now to a point where many businesses there have decided it’s simply not worth being there and are taking their services and jobs to another state.

In 2011 the rate of businesses leaving California has increased to 5.4 a week. Each of those businesses are also taking their jobs with them meaning the unemployment rate in California is going to continue getting higher. This is also a great demonstration of the fact that states simply can’t tax their out of debt. As they increase their tax rates the victims of those increases are going to leave and then will effectively pay $0.00 in taxes to the state.

California, like most socialist nations, is finally collapsing under it’s own ruined economy. They’ve tried to offer too much for too long and now they’re going all Soviet Union. Governments need to learn that the only way to effectively eliminate their debt is to spend less money. People will survive without government services but they won’t take loosing 90% of their earnings. I’m pretty sure it’s too late for California but I hope my state notices this and learns that increasing taxes on businesses and the wealthy (those who generally own businesses) is not going to reduce our debt but increase it in the long run as tax payers flee for friendly states (South Dakota is right next door and they’re generally pretty nice in comparison).

Written by Christopher Burg

June 22, 2011 at 11:30 am

Welfare Without the State

When discussions about reducing government functions come up those advocating for the statist position usually decry eliminating state run welfare programs. They claim that eliminating such programs will lead to the poor dying left and right, children going hungry, and people living without health care coverage. As our society hasn’t always had state run welfare programs it does good to look back and how these situations were taken care of before the state got involved. I found an excellent article that talks about how mutual aid societies were used before the welfare state to care for those without means:

Many people think life without the welfare state would be chaos. In their minds, nobody would help support the less fortunate, and there would be riots in the streets. Little do they know that people found innovative ways of supporting each other before the welfare state existed. One of the most important of these ways was the mutual-aid society.

Mutual aid, also known as fraternalism, refers to social organizations that gathered dues and paid benefits to members facing hardship. According to David Beito in From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State, there was a “great stigma” attached to accepting government aid or private charity during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Mutual aid, on the other hand, did not carry the same stigma. It was based on reciprocity: today’s mutual-aid recipient could be tomorrow’s donor, and vice versa.

I’ve explained before that I’m against the existence of government welfare programs not because I hate the poor (I don’t) but because I despise violence and the government can only provide via money they obtain through their monopoly on the initiation of force. I refuse to support programs that require the use of violence, especially when there are methods of doing the same things voluntarily. Joining a mutual aid society is a voluntary act which allows groups of people to care for one another while nothing have a gun put to your head making you participate. Not only that but mutual aid societies had a history of providing good services that often surpassed those provided elsewhere:

Under lodge medicine, the price for healthcare was low. Members typically paid $2, about a day’s wage, to have yearly access to a doctor’s care (minor surgery was frequently included in this fee). Non–lodge members typically paid about $2 every doctor’s visit during this time period.

Low prices for lodges did not, however, necessarily translate to low quality. The Independent Order of Foresters, one of the largest mutual-aid societies, frequently touted that the mortality rate of its members was 6.66 per thousand, much lower than the 9.3 per thousand for the general population.

That isn’t the only example of a mutual aid society that provided cheap services that were also of high quality:

Many mutual-aid societies branched out and founded their own hospitals and sanitariums. The Securities Benefit Association, or SBA, charged $21 for an 11-day stay at their hospital in Kansas, while the average at 100 private hospitals was $72. Again, quality was not necessarily sacrificed for price. At the SBA’s sanitarium, the mortality rate was 4.5 percent, while the historical average for sanitariums was 25 percent. This is especially impressive considering that 30 to 50 percent of all cases admitted to the SBA’s sanitarium were “advanced.”

Likewise orphanages were created to not only house and feel those without parents but also educate them:

Mutual-aid societies also founded 71 orphanages between 1890 and 1922, almost all without government subsidy. Perhaps the largest of these was Mooseheart, founded by the Loyal Order of Moose in 1913. Hundreds of children lived there at a time. It had a student newspaper, two debate teams, three theatrical organizations, and a small radio station. The success of Mooseheart alumni was remarkable. Alumni were four times more likely than the general population to have attended institutions of higher learning. Male alumni earned 71 percent more than the national average, and female alumni earned 63 percent more.

That sounds like a pretty decent education without the need to put a gun to peoples’ heads and force them to pay for state provided child care and public schooling for the children in the state’s “care.”

Sadly although mutual aid societies were very effective they were also in the busy of providing for those without means which the government wanted a piece of. As with anything else the government involves itself with providing for those without means was something the state wanted no competition in. To ensure the state maintained a monopoly on welfare laws were enacted that first made life more difficult for mutual aid societies and eventually made it all but impossible for these societies to continue providing their services.

Regardless of the current situation providing for the poor is not something the state is needed for. The poor can be provided for through voluntary means just as they had been in the past. So if you’re like me and don’t believe the government should be providing welfare services remember this article. There is no doubt when you advocate the elimination of the welfare state that some statist punk is going to accuse you of hating the poor which likely isn’t true. Being able to provide an alternative to state run welfare will go a long ways in making your argument more legitimate and demonstrates you don’t hate the poor but instead love services that can be accomplished without the need of force and coercion.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 22, 2011 at 10:30 am

IBM Turns 100

IBM is officially 100 years old now and to celebrate they’ve created a list of 100 innovations created by the company. Not surprisingly they forgot to mention their punch card system when used in relation to assiting in the Holocaust. Then again if I were IBM I’d try to cover that up as well.

No I’m not going to spend this entire post ragging on IBM for something they did long ago. What I will do though is use this situation to explain the dangers of census information. IBM didn’t help Nazi Germany with the Holocaust by supplying equipment to kill targeted individuals, they did it by supplying Germany with machines that more easily allowed for tabulating information such as ethnicity about the country’s population:

On April 12, 1933, the German government announced the plans to immediately conduct a long-delayed national census. The project was particularly important to the Nazis as a mechanism for the identification of Jews, Gypsies, and other ethnic groups deemed undesirable by the regime. Dehomag offered to actively assist the German government in its task of ethnic identification, concentrating first upon the 41 million residents of Prussia.

On top of that the same type of system was used by the United States for their concentration camps:

His grand design for 1943 was a locator file in which would appear a Hollerith alphabetic punch card for each evacuee. These cards were to include standard demographic information about age, gender, education, occupation, family size, medical history, criminal record, and RC location. However, additional data categories about links to Japan were also maintained, such as years of residence in Japan and the extent of education received there… The punch card project was so extensive and immediate that the WRA [War Relocation Authority] subcontracted the function to IBM.

IBM’s punch card systems allowed for the recording and easier sorting of additional information related to individuals. This information was then used to better target certain groups. When the 2010 United States census forms went around people noticed that the government was doing a Hell of a lot more than simply counting the population (the only thing they’re legally allowed to do according to the Constitution). The census form seemed to have a strong interest in Hispanic populations.

Data related to peoples’ race, religion, gender, native country, etc. have been collected by governments and used improperly for ages. The Holocaust was a prime example of how dangerous it is to let governments hold onto such information. Like all technological advancements punch card systems can be used for both good and evil and have been used for both. I’m not attempting to blame IBM or technological progress for anything, but I think it’s important to note the dangers of allowing governments to gather information on demographics. Once that information is obtained it will never be destroyed and thus can be used decades down the road by some crazy ass dictator who decides he doesn’t like one group or another.

As IBM celebrates their 100 years of being in business let us also take a moment to remember the dangers of demographic information in the hands of governments. IBM created a marvelous system that was put to terrible use and it’s important to learn from that lesson.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 17, 2011 at 11:30 am

The Difference Between Initiation of Force and Self-Defense

I paid some lip service to the non-aggression principle that makes up the foundation of libertarian philosophy when I was explaining the reason that taxation is a form of theft. Oftentimes when explaining the non-aggression principle people will get it mixed up with the concept of pacifism. The non-aggression principle is not pacifism and I think it’s important to to clarify the difference and explain who a libertarian can also be in favor of self-defense.

The non-aggression principle of libertarian philosophy states that all aggression is illegitimate. What is meant by aggression is not violence but the initiation of violence. For example if I had done nothing to you and you then decided to run at me with a knife you would be initiating violence. In this case you would be the aggressor. On the other hand if I had pulled a knife on with apparent malicious intent you and then you pulled out a knife I would be the aggressor because I initiated the violence.

This difference between the non-aggression principle and pacifism becomes apparent with what is advocated in such a situation. If you pull a knife on me I have several options available to me; first I can simply let you stab me, second I could defend myself, and third I could attempt to flee. A pacifist is somebody who is against all forms of violence and thus the only options they would consider legitimate would be the first and third. This is because pacifism doesn’t believe in the use of violence regardless of the situation and view any use as illegitimate. On the other hand somebody adhering to the non-aggression principle would consider all three options legitimate because somebody has initiated violence against you and you have a right to defend yourself by the fact that you own yourself.

People seem to get mixed up as I’ve hard conversations where people have called me a hypocrite because I claim to adhere to the non-aggression principle while also carrying a firearm. Those of us who legally carry a firearm do so for the purposes of self-defense. That is to say we carry it in case somebody initiated violence against us. I know of nobody who has a carry permit with the intent of initiating violence against others. Instead everybody I’ve conversed with who holds a carry permit is unwilling to use their firearm unless they are first attacked. That is to say people who carry firearms adhere to the non-aggression principle, they are no pacifists. The difference between the two is great and needs to be understood before claiming somebody calling themselves non-violent and carries a firearm is a hypocrite. What is meant in the context of non-violence is not pacifism but adherence to the non-aggression principle.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 16, 2011 at 10:00 am

Government is the Worst Girlfriend You’ve Ever Had

I think I’ve come across one of the best analogies for describing government ever written. Government is basically the worst girlfriend you’ve ever had:

Imagine, if you will: You’re a single guy who (a few years back) was in a terrible marriage with this overbearing foreign broad. She treated you like shit and tried to run every fucking aspect of your life. You were miserable. So one day, after trying everything to make it work, you finally decided enough’s enough, and served her with papers… She did not take it well. The divorce was messy, but in the end you basically got everything. You knew immediately you didn’t want another serious relationship, you’re too independent for that. You just needed something light… You needed a fuck-buddy.

As with many relationships that start off as friends with benefits government will start off as a convenience that eventually turns into a tyrannical bitch:

Bit by bit she started controlling every little piece of your life. She nagged you to get rid of the car you loved and buy something more “practical.” When you remodeled your bathroom she told you what kind of toilet, shower head, and water heater to buy (To make sure you still felt like a man, she let you make the final choice from a list of products that she liked… that manipulative bitch.) She did the same with the appliances in your kitchen, and quietly replaced all your light bulbs with the kind she preferred. Even though you resented it, you had better things to do than worry about interior decorating, so to avoid a fight, you gave in and did what she wanted.

Go read the entire thing, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 15, 2011 at 10:00 am