Carpe Diem – My Wife’s Perspective

More often than not I write about constitutional, political, or economic issues.  Every blue moon I’ll write something about my personal perspective on things.  This is one of those articles.

I am blessed.  In ways I easily recognize and others that aren’t so obvious.  First and foremost those blessings flow from God.  Secondly, I am blessed with a loving and caring family.  Thirdly, most everything else doesn’t measure up to the first two.

But this article is about my wife, Jessica.

We have many things in common.  We also have many differences.   We have some similar and some different perspectives.  I am involved and invested in the fight for liberty, limited government, and other principles.  That fight is not for me as time is passing me by and I may not be around to reap what I am trying to sow.  However, for my family and their families I want them to have the opportunity to live freely, without undue oppression, and enjoy liberty and their pursuit of happiness – whatever that may be for them.

Because of that, I spend much time in activities that take me away from my family.  Consequently, that impacts family life, time with my wife, and time with my children.  This is where our perspectives differ and why Jessica is so important to me and our family.  When speaking to others, I describe her perspective as more fatalistic than mine.  Not that it’s good or bad, just different.

Jessica lives in the here and now.  She knows we have a small window of time to enjoy our children.  She wants the best for them.  She wants them to enjoy their childhood to their fullest.  She is passionate about their education, their activities, and their happiness.  Likewise, she also believes the direction of our government, economy, and the monetary system is eventually coming to an end.  I agree with that.  She doesn’t believe it will change for the better before a collapse.   Because of that, her attitude and perspective is focused on the present and near future.

Her perspective influences me.   While I’m off fighting this battle or that battle, fighting for the new state of Western Maryland, or doing the radio show, she is taking our boys to soccer games and baseball games.  She is taking our daughter to dance, gymnastics, or drama classes.  She is planning activities for her and the children or for the entire family.  She is helping our children with their school work.  Hey, she even mows the lawn because I’m not always around to do it.

Her perspective has changed my perspective.  While I’m engaged in battles on many fronts she keeps me grounded.  She keeps me in the present.  She gently, and others times not so gently, reigns me in.  In her own ways she has figured out how to ensure that I don’t lose sight of what’s important here and now.  The time I have with my children.  The time we have as a family.  To put those battles away for a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days.

We had not been on a vacation for a couple/few years.  Last year we decided to go to Disney World.  We spent six days with the children having fun.  I didn’t respond to e-mails.  I didn’t write any articles.  I didn’t get on Facebook.  We simply had fun as a family.  Later in the summer we visited Monticello and spent two days in Williamsburg.  Honestly, it was relaxing to get away from the battles.  It was fun.  And, I truly enjoy watching my children have fun.

Heck, we’ve even contemplated just moving away, to someplace warm to enjoy the beach and the sunshine.  We could live modestly and home school our children.  I joked that I could grow long hair, pump gas into boats, drink Tequila, and listen to Jimmy Buffet music all day.  Hard to say what the future may bring.

Perhaps we will win or lose the various battles I pursue.   Only time will tell.  Through good and bad Jessica has caused me to pause and reflect on the here and now.  Undoubtedly, she has shown me I can win every day just by keeping things in perspective.  For without those daily joys and blessings bestowed upon us Jessica has shown me I will lose something far more valuable.   Without her I would be like a rudderless boat lost at sea drifting nowhere.  She guides me through calm or troubled waters.

Jessica is the rock in our family.  She is the glue that keeps us all together.  She nutures and loves.  She plays and she sings.  She praises and admonishes.

I am grateful for her.  Jessica helps me be a better man, husband, and father.

Jessica has my unconditional and eternal love.

Carpe Diem!

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Getting Rights Right

The term “rights” creates misconceptions resulting in innumerable conclusions that are inaccurate, deceptive, and nonsensical.  Rights can mean anything, everything, and nothing.  Rights can be real and tangible or abstract and ill-defined.  Rights can be manipulated and twisted into political and economic terms used by the ruling class to advance ideology and embed into minds the very idea that government is the source of rights, defines rights, and adjudicates rights.

Here is a reasonably complete list of rights as they are used today:  Unalienable rights, negative rights, positive rights, natural rights, human rights, constitutional rights, contractual rights, political rights, voting rights, civil rights, women’s rights, property rights (real, personal, and intellectual), states’ rights, legal rights, economic rights, parental rights, children’s rights, LGBT rights, prisoner’s rights, immigrant’s rights, etc.

A significant problem with the term rights is the meaning and definition.  Any discussion or debate over rights must be predicated upon an agreed upon definition.  To do so, let’s start at the beginning.

A self-evident fact is that mankind is antecedent to government.  Government is a creation of man and did not precede mankind.  Regardless if you believe in a Creator or the origin of life is something other than a Creator we can all agree man existed before government and mankind created governments.

Prior to establishing government mankind lived in a state of nature.  There were no constitutions, statutory laws, rules, or regulations that governed people.  From the list of aforementioned rights there are essentially two that apply to mankind in a state of nature; unalienable rights and natural rights.  These are different terms for the same rights.  All mankind possess these rights and these rights are antecedent to government.  Mankind possesses these rights because of their humanity whether endowed by a Creator or not.  In all cases these rights are consider negative rights.  And, negative rights don’t denote something bad or evil.

Negative rights are those rights requiring no positive act by another except the recognition that we all possess the same rights.  For instance, the right to life, the right to what you produce (property), the right of conscience, the right of association, the right of speech, the right of self-defense, the right to contract with others, etc.  I have a right to my life that requires no positive act by anyone else.  I have a right to preserve my life by using my physical and intellectual abilities to sustain myself.  What I produce as a result of my effort is my property.  I have a right to associate with whomever I choose.  None of these rights require any positive act from anyone else.

For purposes of this discussion I’ll use the term natural rights when talking about unalienable, natural, or negative rights.

The Declaration of Independence explicitly recognizes that all men have certain rights antecedent to government.  The Declaration elucidates five self-evident truths and the first three describe those natural rights inherent to our humanity.  However, in a state of nature these rights are not necessarily secure.  Another person or group of people may steal you property, take your life, or violate your natural rights in some other manner.  Your recourse is to adjudicate the violation in a manner that is sufficient to your judgment.  Thomas Jefferson used the term rightful liberty to describe the exercise of natural rights.  Rightful liberty is the unobstructed action according to your will within limits drawn around the equal rights of others.

The 4th and 5th self-evident truths describe why people leave a state of nature and form a government.  The 4th truth says, “That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  Jefferson describes implicitly that the only legitimate form of government is that which if founded by the people and which does only what the people have authorized it to do (just powers).  Fundamentally, the very idea is that by establishing government mans’ natural rights can be better secured relative to their security in a state of nature.

Arguably, the 5th self-evident truth is the most shunned and ignored today.  The 5th truth says, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  Jefferson is explicit in the very premise and conditions under which man is willing to form government.  That is, if the government is violating or destroying the very premise under which it was established – to better secure mans’ natural rights — then the people may always alter it or abolish it altogether.

The 4th and 5th self-evident truths are the right of self-determination and self-governance.

This leaves the remainder of the initial list of rights such as political rights, civil rights, contractual rights, positive rights, etc.  The second category we can place rights into is one called contractual rights.  Contractual rights are two or more people exercising their natural right of association and right to contract to voluntarily enter into an economic transaction for their mutual benefit.  Contractual rights may be formal or informal, written or oral.   Contractual rights require a positive action by two or more people.  I may ask you to trade me your hat for my gloves.  If the exchange occurs we initiated a verbal contract and the terms were mutually agreed upon.  The contract was executed after the trade was complete.

More formally, we may enter into a contract with an automobile company to purchase a vehicle and at the same time with a lender to lend us the funds to procure the vehicle.  When we sign a contract to borrow $30,000 at a certain interest rate to be repaid over a certain period of time with payments made on a scheduled basis we’ve entered into a contract.  The automobile dealer executed their part of the contract by delivering the vehicle to us and the lender and the borrower remain under a contractual obligation until the terms of the contract are met.  This is an executory contract.  Once the loan is repaid in full the contract is no longer an executory contract but changes to an executed contract.

Health insurance is another example of a contractual right.  A person agrees to purchase a health insurance policy that stipulates coverage, co-pays, deductibles, and premium payments and in exchange a company assumes certain risks on your behalf and they collect a premium for assuming that risk.  After deductibles are met, the company pays all or most of your health care expenses.

A positive obligation has been established by both parties.  This was entered into voluntarily and without duress, force, or coercion.  Contracts generally require positive acts from the parties involved.  In the preceding examples the parties could not force another party into the contract.  Each had to act voluntarily and willingly.  However, by establishing the contract it imparts specific obligations on each party.  When people interact in such a manner it is an extension of their natural rights and a positive act is established – voluntarily.  Under no circumstances could a person obligate a lender to provide them with $30,000 to purchase an automobile and believe they were not obliged to repay the loan.  In other words, to expect a lender or another person to give you $30,000 for free to purchase an automobile would be a ludicrous expectation.  Under no circumstances could a person obligate another person to pay for their health care or health care insurance.

The latter scenario is what Jefferson would call wrongful liberty.  As contradistinguished from rightful liberty, wrongful liberty is obstructed against your will within limits drawn around the superior rights of others.  To force or coerce someone to lend you $30,000 against their will violates their natural rights.  To force or coerce someone to pay for your health care or health insurance violates their natural rights.  Therefore, contractual rights are positive acts by two or more people entered into voluntarily without force or coercion.

To summarize natural rights are those rights inherent to our humanity that everyone possesses and requires no positive act by another for us to possess them.  A simple example is the so-called “right to health care”.  Every person has a right to seek health care because we have a right to associate and to contract with others for a good or service.  We have contractual rights when we ask a doctor to perform some service in exchange for a certain payment.  The doctor performs the service and we pay the doctor for the service.  A contract is executed.

The third category of rights is positive rights.

Positive rights are those rights that impose duties or obligations on another person to provide a good or a service.  Positive rights are the antithesis of natural or contractual rights because the former requires force and coercion while the latter is voluntary.  Within the framework of natural rights and contractual rights force and coercion would never play a role in peoples’ lives or the exercise of their personal and economic liberty.  As mankind establishes government to better secure our natural rights a new actor is now on stage.  When government establishes a program or policy that does what cannot be done voluntarily with natural or contractual rights government becomes the facilitator of wrongful liberty.

In, The Law, by Frederic Bastiat he calls positive rights instituted by government legal plunder.  Whenever one person, group, company, industry, special interest, etc. uses the power of government through law, rule, regulation, or fiat to take property or income from another under the guise of a positive right is legal plunder.  To use the coercive force of government to justify the legality of an act that would otherwise be unlawful had a person done it on their own.

The ends for which government was established are manifestly endangered and perverted by the government’s own acts when it violates our natural rights.  The only purpose, the only reason to establish government is to better secure our natural rights.  Under the color of law government commits crimes against us and crimes against some citizens to benefit others.

This behavior is the antithesis of a free society and free people.  The founders emphasized freedom and liberty above all else.  A recent article titled, “Two Treaties on the Acquisition and Use of Power” by Jude P. Dougherty captured the essence of freedom and liberty conceived and understood by the founding generation contrasted with today’s conception of positive rights. Dougherty wrote:

Traditionally it meant that a man could not be compelled to do anything contrary to reason and conscience [under natural rights and contractual rights]. Under the influence of positivism, “freedom” came to mean that a man could not be compelled to do anything except by law enacted in accordance with some prescribed procedure with sufficient force behind it to compel obedience. From the positivist’s viewpoint what the liberal calls “rights” are merely concessions granted by the state or society. Hallowell concludes that if rights are the product of law, they are not properly rights at all; they are mere concessions to claims that the individual makes and the state recognizes. As such they can be withdrawn if the state deems such withdrawal in the interest of the general welfare.  [My words added to original quote.]

Hallowell insists:

There is a great difference between freedom from unjust compulsion and freedom from illegal compulsion. Moreover, when the test of legality is ultimately conceived as the force behind law, freedom from illegal compulsion amounts to no more than freedom to do whatever the state does not forbid. This is a conception of freedom much more congenial to tyranny than to the preservation of the inalienable rights of man.”

Viewed from the perspective of positivism, the rights of man are no longer to be called “natural rights”; they are mere “legal rights.”

The distinction between natural rights and positive rights illustrates how many people view government’s role today.  Let’s return to the earlier examples of a person buying an automobile and a person seeking health care or buying health insurance.  If government is empowered to determine property rights they have usurped our natural rights and supplanted them with government bestowed legal rights.  Suppose government enacts a law that requires some people to pay for the automobiles of others.  Suppose government enacts a law that requires some people to pay for the health care or the health insurance of others.  What has transpired is government used force and coercion, under the color of law, to decide from whom it will take and to whom it will provide.  Societal outcomes become the purpose of government instead of better securing our natural rights.  Undoubtedly, when the masses believe the purpose of government is to manage society and the economy all of humanity loses their natural rights to government.   All administered by a massive government bureaucracy predicated upon force and coercion.  F.A. Hayek captured the essence of this social and political conflict when he wrote, “Whether a man should give away freedom, private initiative, and individual responsibility and surrender to the guardianship of a gigantic apparatus of compulsion and coercion, the socialist state.”

Furthermore, government abridges or denies our natural rights by limiting choices.  In free markets there may be ten choices of light bulbs to choose.  If government enacts laws or regulations and limits our choices to two types of light bulbs they have violated our natural rights to contract and to associate.  Government allows us to choose from two types of light bulbs but in the process they have forbidden us from choosing from eight others.  Government centric preferences drive policy rather than leaving individuals to pursue their own economic liberty and exercise their own discretion.  No government, department, agency, bureaucracy, or person can better decide these things than the individual himself.  Moreover, if private businesses behaved similarly it would be collusion or interference with markets.  Monopolies are generally considered detrimental to free markets, however when government monopolizes a market it is deemed acceptable.  In the case of health insurance a voluntary, semi-private market was supplanted with a coercive, government directed market.  In context of natural and contractual rights government is using the force of law to violate our rights to extend positive rights to those that otherwise decided not to purchase health insurance or couldn’t afford to purchase health insurance on their own.  Government destroys competition, causes malinvestment, destroys liberty, and violates natural and contractual rights.

The term constitutional rights is a colloquialism.  The term conveys a sense that the Constitution grants rights to people.  That belief is inaccurate and dangerous.  Governments do not grant rights.  The Bill of Rights imposes restrictions on the federal government.  States’ Bills or Declarations of Rights are restrictions on state governments.  The danger is conceding the fact that government grants certain rights – natural rights – to mankind.  The first and second amendments deal primarily, but not exclusively, with natural rights.  The fourth through eight amendments deal primarily with privileges and immunities or what most call civil rights today.  The ninth amendment is a catch-all amendment that says there are many other rights not enumerated in the Bill of Rights and those rights are reserved by the people.  Those reserved rights are OFF LIMITS to the federal government.  That includes the adjudication of those rights.  It is also different from the prior eight amendments because it, like the tenth amendment, is an amendment of construction.  Lastly, the tenth amendment addresses powers delegated to the federal government under the constitution or those prohibited to the states under the constitution are reserved to the states or the people.  The term states rights is also a colloquialism.  States do not have rights they have powers.  However, we are accustomed to referring to states’ powers as rights.

The founders and framers delineated between rights – natural rights – and what we call civil rights today.  Much of the Bill of Rights has nothing to do with natural rights; instead they are privileges and immunities.  The terms privileges and immunities is the term the founders and framers used for positive acts of government, typically instituted through common law and some through statutory/civil law.  For instance, a right to a jury trial is not a natural right it is a privilege using their terms and was a result of common law.  Today, that is referred to as a civil right.  The right to a trial by jury is a creation of man for interpersonal adjudication.  A jury trial doesn’t exist in a state of nature.

Many so-called rights today are simply those defined by law.  Political rights and voting rights are for all intents and purposes the same thing.  These are rights defined by government in a representative form of government.  Rights confined to specific groups of people are merely distractions from the larger understanding of rights.

Hopefully, when you discuss rights with a family member, a friend, or a neighbor you should understand how the term rights is manipulated to mean anything, everything, and nothing.  Remember to define the term if you discuss or debate the issue with others.  Remember to distinguish between negative rights (natural, unalienable, etc.) which people possess because of their humanity and positive rights which result from government acts.  Remember property rights are a direct extension of each person’s natural right to life and what they produce as a result of their labor to preserve their own life, and that no one else has a rightful claim to your property including the government.  Remember government violates your property rights and your right to life whenever they take from you and redistribute your property to someone that has no rightful claim to your property.  Remember that the constitution grants no rights but restricts the federal government from violating your natural rights.  Remember that contractual rights are based on the free and voluntary acts of two or more people that agree to certain positive acts for their mutual benefit.  Remember that the founders and framers used the term privileges and immunities to describe most civil rights and the term civil rights can mean just about anything today.  Remember that political rights are a result of the formation of representative government and accordingly, are the result of our acts to create government.

Therefore, the power to create, alter, or abolish government is the right of self-determination that we have as, we the people, possess all political power.  Let’s get our Rights right.

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I Triple Dog Dare You

Fear is intimidating.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of the future.  Fear of risk.  Fear of failure.  It can motivate.  It can paralyze.

Generally, people like to know what is happening and what will happen.  People become comfortable knowing that tomorrow will mostly be like today.  People rise knowing what they will do.  Mostly, people rise, shower, dress, and go to work.  Some stay home and raise their children.  People are accustom to their own routines and, for the most part, are comfortable knowing what to expect.

A routine is the customary or regular course of procedure.  It is the regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, or rote procedure.  And, let’s face it, most people live this way.  People want to believe they are in control.  People want to believe they know what has happened, is happening, and is about to happen.  Fear of the unknown and of not knowing is troublesome to most people.  As a mechanism to cope with this fear people develop routines and stick to them.  Today is like yesterday and tomorrow.

This behavior extends to governance as well.  People become accustom to and comfortable with their form of governance.   People generally know how our system of governance works and they live within its constraints and parameters.  People understand the routine of governance.  They know what they have and what is coming.

Jefferson captured the essence of human nature and the extent people will accommodate their forms of governance.  He said, “all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”  People tend to suffer government’s oppression and abuse rather than acting to change it.  It’s my assertion people exchange their freedoms and liberties for security, to mitigate fear of the unknown, and to retain the illusion of control.

The ruling class understands human nature and uses it advantageously.  The ruling class knows people are willing to suffer – at least to varying degrees.  History is replete with examples of this.  The ruling class wants people to feel despaired and discouraged.  The ruling class wants us to feel helpless and hopeless.  The ruling class wants us to believe the only acceptable political action is to vote.  This scenario is ideal for the ruling class. They know it matters not which political party is in power or who is elected to office.  The dirty little secret is they want to perpetuate the status quo.  The two-party system gives the illusion of choice and the illusion of control.  It’s perfect for them — as long as we are all obedient subjects in a state of hopelessness and helplessness.

Our system of governance is dysfunctional, yet voting in new people doesn’t address the real problems.  This tactic has been tried for decades and has failed miserably.  If the dysfunction were removed the entire system of governance would collapse.  Yet, the ruling class understands allowing people to vote provides the illusion of control.  Frankly, many people believe because they vote they are in control and they have a say in their governance.  Not just because that’s all they’ve ever known, but because they fear the unknown if they upset the political apple cart.  They lose the illusion of control.   They fear for their own security.

In a recent article I wrote I quoted Jeffrey Tucker.  He said, “Today is just yesterday and tomorrow – forever”.   It echoes in my head constantly.  Think about that for a moment.  If there is no hope for real change, if governance cannot be changed through the electoral process – and it can’t – then what does the future promise for us, our children, our grandchildren?  What kind of future is that?  If we are limited to voting and voting changes nothing we clearly are not in control of our governance, the politicians, or the bureaucracy.

What motivates me and what motivates others is hope.  Hope for a better tomorrow.  Hope for our children’s future.  Hope is an unfilled promise that tomorrow can be better, tomorrow can be different.  But hope doesn’t produce change.  People produce change.  We are the ones that have to produce that change.

To paraphrase Jeffrey Tucker once more, dare to imagine, dare to break bad, dare to disagree, and dare to take the risk to overthrow the status quo in favor of what can be.  This was the prevailing attitude in 1776 when the founders dared to break bad, and dared to risk everything for the promise of what can be.  They did not fear the unknown.  They did not trade their freedoms and liberties for security.  They dared to dream and boy did they dream big.

As they say in my favorite Christmas time movie “A Christmas Story”, I triple dog dare you.

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Who Does What to Whom

Who does what to whom?  Indeed, it is an interesting question to ponder.

Our daily lives are filled with numerous interactions.  Mostly voluntary.  We choose who to e-mail, who we talk to, and with whom we conduct economic transactions.  We voluntarily choose who we date and marry.  We voluntarily choose to start a business or to become an employee.  The voluntary interactions in our lives are numerous and indefinite.

Likewise, in every voluntary interaction at least one other person voluntarily reciprocates.  An e-mail and phone call is responded to voluntarily.  A business transaction is concluded when two parties voluntarily enter into it for their mutual benefit.  Our personal relationships happen because another person has agreed to go on a date or to willingly agree to become a husband or wife.

Contracts can be enforced or terminated due to failure of one party to fulfill their obligations.  A spouse may freely choose to leave a marriage due to abuse.  Correspondence and association between two people ends when one no longer voluntarily accedes to it.

Force and coercion are contradistinctions from voluntary interactions as they impede us from action or compel us to act against our own self-interests.   One person cannot force or coerce another person to enter into a business transaction.  One person cannot force or coerce another person into being friends with them, associating with them, or corresponding with them.  One person cannot force or coerce another person into marriage or restrain them from leaving a marriage.  One person cannot force or coerce another into sexual relations.

Jefferson defined rightful liberty as “unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others”.  Therefore, wrongful liberty is defined as “obstructed action against our will within limits drawn around us by the superior rights of others”.  The use of force and coercion limits your voluntary interactions according to the will of another.

The term free market is a misnomer.  Jeffrey Tucker describes it this way:  “The free market is not a system. It is not a policy dictated by anyone in particular. It is not something that Washington implements. It does not exist in any legislation, law, bill, regulation, or book. It is what you get when people act on their own, entirely without central direction, and with their own property, and within human associations of their own creation and in their own interest. It is the beauty that emerges in absence of control.”

The “free market” is Jefferson’s rightful liberty.  In a much grander sense and proportion society is simply a series of voluntary interactions where people exercise their rightful liberty.

The Constitution was ordained to establish a government with limited powers.  The structure of government, the checks and balances, and the restrictions placed upon the federal government by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was done to ensure people could pursue happiness according to their voluntary choices and interactions.  The Constitution does not restrict the people.  The first principles of governance are elucidated in the Declaration by five self-evident truths.

Government uses laws to restrict the rightful liberty of the people.  Government uses the law to force and coerce people to either act against or obstruct an individual’s will.  Government uses force and coercion to exercise superior rights over the people.  Government uses statutory laws, mandates, rules, and regulations — under the color of an impartial judiciary —  to ensure total dominion over the people.  Government centric preferences are the result.  Which industries, technologies, businesses, and people succeed or fail depends upon the personal preferences of the ruling class.  Government uses force to require people to buy products or services they do not want.  Government limits choices based on outcomes they desire.  Government decides who can own what and how much.  Government restricts individuals from pursuing their own happiness if that conflicts with the governments’ ends.

Someone recently wrote, “We live under an attenuated form of Leninism – a government that exercises power without limit, resting directly on force, and unrestrained by laws.”   The person went on to write, “there’s no rational case to be made for maintaining the pretense that the written Constitution is a significant impediment on the behavior of the people who rule us.”

It’s impossible to argue with that.  In fact, I’d say it’s self-evident.

Let’s return to the original question.  Who does what to whom?

If we accept and recognize the ruling class has no impediment on their behavior is there any meaningful purpose to our political system and system of governance?  For all intents and purposes elections and politics is really about who does what to whom.   Who is being elected to be put into a position of power to do what they want to whom they want.  Given choices of free things or having to actually work to produce something, people vote for free things.  People vote to put others into power, where there is no impediment on their behavior, to do whatever they want to others.

Jeffrey Tucker captured the essence of this when he wrote:

“The state in all times and all places wants a population of despairing, dreary, hopeless, and weighted-down people.  Why?  Because such people don’t do anything.  They are predictable, categorizable, pliable, and essentially powerless.  Such people offer no surprises, threaten no change, destabilize nothing. This is the ideal world that the bureaucrats, the plutocrats, and the technocrats desire.  It makes their life easy and the path clear. Today is just yesterday and tomorrow – forever.  This is the machine that the state wants to manage, a world of down-in-the-dumps and obedient citizens of the society they think they own.

In contrast, hope upsets the prevailing order. It sees things that don’t yet exist. It acts on a promise of a future different from today. It plays with the uncertainty of the future and dares imagine that ideals can become reality. Those who think this way are a threat to every regime. Why? Because people who think this way eventually come to act this way.

They resist.  They rebel.  They overthrow.

And yet look around:  we see progress everywhere.  What does this imply?  It implies that non-compliance is the human norm. People cannot be forever pressed into a mold of the state’s making.  The future will happen and it will be shaped by those who dare to break bad, dare to disagree, and dare to take the risk to overthrow what is in favor of what can be.”

A paradigm shift is long overdue.  It is unacceptable that all political questions today are reduced to, “Who can do what to whom?”  As Tucker described, non-compliance is the human norm.  T.S. Eliot said “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”  We must obliterate the mindset that voting is our own recourse.  We must discard the idea that Washington D.C. will ever fix Washington D.C.  We must look at alternate solutions to restore federalism and republicanism such as an Article V amendments convention, nullification, and the creation of new states to name a few.  The people are the sovereigns and possess all political power.  The people can create, alter, or abolish government whenever we believe government has become destructive to its ends and manifestly endangers our lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

Lastly, this means you can no longer sit idly and cast a vote every two or four years.  The ruling class will still kick you even if you don’t dare to break bad, dare to disagree, or dare to to take a risk.  If all you do is vote every couple years or so then you are part of the problem.   Real change requires time, effort, and money alas today just becomes like yesterday and tomorrow — forever.

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The American Dream, Culture, and Exceptionalism

Have you ever considered what the term “the American Dream” means?  Is there any such thing?  Do you believe in the American Dream?   Does this mean when we all sleep at night we have the same dream?  Does it mean we all want the same thing?  Precisely, what is this American Dream and what are the implications?

One version of the American Dream is home ownership.  The idea that every person’s desire is to own their own home.  Another version is success, fame, and wealth is realized through hard work and thrift.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the American Dream as an American social ideal that stresses egalitarianism and especially material prosperity.  There are many variations on these themes captured in literary works or used by politicians for political purposes.

The term is promoted and propagated as though every person in the U.S. has the same dream.  Of course this ideal promotes the concept that we are all one people and that people are essentially the same.  The ideal strips away individual identity and the diversity of ambitions, desires, interests, needs, wants, and talents.

Furthermore, the ideal of an American Dream is merely another arrow in the quiver of nationalism.  Cohabitating in the quiver with the American Dream are other nationalist arrows such as American Exceptionalism, American Culture, and Democracy.

The symbolism embodied by this rhetoric has one overarching goal; to bind the people to the ideal of one nation.  The idea that diverse people have the same American Dream or there is one American culture is abstract and foreign to founding principles.  Democracy is used to entrench these ideals in the minds of the people.   Democracy encapsulates of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Consequently, the notion of American Exceptionalism emerges as another unitary, abstract notion that the country – the nation – is somehow exceptional.  Stir in patriotic overtures such as the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem and the result is one consolidated nation, one mass Democracy where all people are the same, have the same American Dream with one American culture.

Politically this creates sentiments, movements, rhetoric, and messages around the themes like; Take Back our Country, Take Back our Culture, and We are a Christian Nation.  Unfortunately, these nationalistic goals promote and reinforce national symbolism dependent upon an all-powerful, centralized national government.   Naturally, this results in national policies on everything and anything.  Major policies such as health care to minutia such as light bulbs and toilets.  There isn’t a single thing in our daily lives untouched by the cabal of 545 people in Washington, DC.  Demonstrably, a small cabal of 545 people cannot rule over 310 million people with diverse interests, needs, wants, desires, ambitions, talents, and virtues.

What passes as constitutionally limited government is farcical.  Today’s governance is the antithesis of the founding principles, republicanism, and decentralized power.  Today’s governance is unlimited, centralized, authoritarian rule by a cabal of legislators, bureaucrats, and a president.  It is arbitrary and capricious.  It is legitimized by a smaller cabal of lawyers on the Supreme Court.  Our form of governance is unrecognizable by anyone that has studied and understands the founding principles and documents.

Whenever anyone has the audacity to question the leviathan or promote alternative solutions they are treated with mockery and contempt.  It is political heresy to question our leaders.  You are unpatriotic if you dare to question them or propose alternatives such as decentralization of power and republicanism.  You are branded a racist, terrorist, or extremist if you mention federalism or states powers under the tenth amendment.   For those thinkers that discuss constitutional solutions such as an Article V amendments convention or nullification you castigated as the lunatic fringe.

The establishment parties and media, and the ruling class demand acceptable political thought to be constrained between Hillary Clinton on one side and Mitch McConnell on the other side.  All pretend the differences between the two sides are vast expanses of political ideas battling in the arena of public opinion.  The fallacy is the differences are not vast.  The differences are merely window dressing meant to retain the status quo.

More importantly, the ruling class, and the establishment parties and media want the people to believe their only solution is through the electoral process.  As the establishment controls the electoral process only their candidates, policies, and solutions enter into the political debate.  They want us to believe our only recourse is voting.  This plays into their hands because they control the rules and the game.  Their hand-picked lawyers on the Supreme Court adjudicate the game in their favor.  Voting is the least political or patriotic thing a person does.  If all you do is vote and you do not advance alternative solutions you are part of the problem.  If you hope that voting in a handful of new freshmen Congressmen or Senators is the panacea then you are ignoring reality.   Vote, hope, and cope is a failed strategy.

The Declaration of Independence elucidates five truths;  that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that amongst these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted amongst men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, and That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The last two truths epitomize the right of self-determination and self-governance.  The only legitimate government is one instituted by people, exercising only those powers consented to by the people.  More importantly, the last two truths embody the principle that the people can not only create their government, but they can alter and reform their government, and they can abolish that government.

If we are one people, with one American Dream, one American Culture operating as a Democracy, and promulgating the idea of American Exceptionalism then the foundational principles elucidated in the Declaration of Independence conflict with the rhetoric we’ve heard all our lives.

We are not one people, we do not have one culture, and we are not a Democracy.  Nor are we exceptional as a nation or a country.  A nation or a country cannot be exceptional.  Only people are capable of being exceptional.   We embrace diversity.  Diverse people have diverse heritages, customs, traditions, languages, religions, beliefs, interests, food, music, etc.   The only solution to governance that embraces true diversity is federalism, republicanism, and the decentralization of power.  This is precisely how 310 million diverse people can live peacefully and harmoniously with one another without coercing and obliging others to live under a form of governance they do not consent to.

 

 

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Consequences of an Orgy: The Socialist Fascist State

The amalgamation of major industries and government has created an omnipotent, fascist, oligarchical regime that benefits the few and sacrifices the many.  A partnership was developed long ago, giving birth to and nurturing the confluence of power which affords exclusive benefits to business and government.  Every major industry in the United States is in bed with the government.  This orgy of political and business interests has cost us dearly.

The people have lost their freedoms, liberties, and rights.  Hard work and achievement is punished.  Individual behavior, choices, and responsibility are castigated.  Property is plundered.  Generational theft is revered.

Laziness and consumption is rewarded.  Debt, profligate spending, and currency debasement are now core principles of government and society.  Government limitations and dictates regarding preferences and choices are celebrated.  Property means government’s discretion over who owns what and how much.   Medicare and Social Security encourages older generations to steal from their children and grandchildren.

The Rule of Law and limited government has been decimated by arbitrary and capricious dictates.  The Constitution means whatever nine unaccountable, unelected, politically connected lawyers in black robes claim it means.  Judges treat the Constitution as political play-doh, molding it into something that conforms to their personal policy preferences rather than confining government to powers delegated by the Constitution.

The alliance of economic and political interests obfuscates the real issues.  Consequently, the people are confused about the current situation.  Is capitalism and business greed to blame?  Is government to blame?  Are the political parties to blame and, if so, which party?  The answers may appear complicated.

The telecommunications/media, financial/banking, energy (oil/gas/coal/nuclear/green), education, health care and pharmaceutical, and the military industrial complex illustrate how private business interests and government interests are essentially one in the same.

Private business uses the coercive nature of government for their own competitive advantage.  Instead of competing in free markets where failure and success is dependent upon others desire or need for a product, businesses use government to 1) eliminate/stifle competition 2) to subsidize costs 3) use the law to force products on consumers  4)  increase profits and/or guarantee sales/revenue.

Likewise, government enacts laws, policy, and regulations to manipulate the tax code, pick economic winners and losers, and control the money supply and the cost of money.  In exchange, businesses fund political campaigns and candidates.  This quid-pro-quo is rotten to the core.

Politicians are clever creatures.  They’ve learned from the failures of communism and realized there is no need to own the means of production when you can control business and industry through a system of privileges and emoluments, and one of coercion and punishment.  Indeed, this is advantageous to the seasoned political as they define the rules of the game and they officiate the game.  Moreover, if their policies result in negative political consequences they can point their bony fingers at greedy businesses.

Meanwhile, Wall Street and the banks are bailed out.  Automotive manufacturers are bailed out.   The rewards are privatized and the risks are socialized.  Government spies on the people aided and abetted by the telecommunications industry.  Healthcare insurers and pharmaceutical companies support the Affordable Care Act because the law creates a captive customer resulting in more profits due to higher prices.   We are witness to the largest orgy of government and business largesse in our lifetimes.  The few are enriched while the many are sacrificed at the altar of so-called government compassion and benevolence.

It is the confluence of business and government that concentrates wealth into the hands of the few.  The few are the winners hand-picked by their political prostitutes elected to pass and enforce laws.   Monopolies in the free market system are deemed as unfair as the free market itself.  These two culprits become the strawman argument for bigger government and more laws and regulations under the guise of leveling the playing field and helping the disadvantaged.

Today’s markets are a result of the amalgamation of business and government using coercion and limiting choices and opportunities.  Prices are fixed in some cases, manipulated in others, and influenced by government laws and regulations.  Capital is directed and controlled by the money supply and the cost of money (interest rates).  The value of the currency is debased by government to advance their interests at the expense of the people.  Innovation is discouraged or encouraged depending on the prevailing interests in Washington.  The new playing field is heavily mined by laws and regulations put into effect as a result of the government and business alliance.  Consequently, there is less competition and more monopolies (or near monopolies)  while those considered disadvantaged grows proportionally.  Successful navigation of the mine field requires your acquiescence to and partnership with government.

This is the modern day meaning of capitalism and politics.  By no means should you conflate this with free markets as those haven’t existed in decades.  Free markets are voluntary, private exchanges between two parties.   Today, capitalism means to use the power of government to ensure economic success and to boost the company’s stock price.  In return crony capitalists fund the political campaigns of politicians who are more than willing to prostitute themselves to gain and hold onto political power.

Naturally, none of this would be possible without substantial support of the electorate.  This is accomplished through the tax code, entitlement programs, and other government goodies to ensure the status quo is maintained.  Socialism is the mechanism to ensure the people are comfortable in their servitude to government.  The people are amused by and kept comfortable with their smartphones, sports, reality television, video games, music videos, big screen TVs, and their government programs.  Their mind-numbing servitude to their political masters all but ensures the status quo continues while sacrificing their children’s future for some comforts today.

Our political and economic system is a blend of fascism and socialism.  It’s fascist because it is a centralized autocratic government run by a small cabal of politicians, exalting nation over individuals, instituting severe economic and regulatory control, and suppressing any opposition to their dominion.  It is socialist because of the redistributionist nature of government taking property from those that earned and owned it, and giving to others something they have absolutely no rightful claim to.

For the politician plausible deniability is the chief concern.  If politicians can bail out Wall Street and the banks, receive political donations from those bailed out, and then blame Wall Street and the banks for the misfortunes of the middle class it is a win-win situation for them.  The politician is attempting to deceive, manipulate, and cajole you so you’ll vote for him next election cycle while blaming all your economic woes on capitalism and greed.

Meanwhile, the same politician is stealing from you to bail out his buddies on Wall Street, passing legislation assuring millions of new health insurance customers at higher rates, or providing a tax break to the telecommunications company while they work with the government to spy on you.  The same politician is running up debt to provide risk and tax free capital to his business allies across all these industries.

The economic and political system is broke and broken.  Both political parties are to blame.  The ruling class is to blame.   Most importantly, we have to blame ourselves as this behavior continues unabated while we are distracted by the bread and circuses of our time:  smartphones, video games, sports, and reality TV.

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Political and Economic Interests

Political interests and economic interests encompass an immense array of factors which impacts us daily.  Economist Henry Hazlitt asserted the whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence.  Hazlitt said, “The art of economics consists of looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”

Likewise, the art of politics when applied to economic interests consists of looking at the immediate effects of any act or policy and in tracing the consequences of that policy for one group while ignoring the effect on all groups.

Assume for a moment a total separation of political and economic interests.  Economic interests vary greatly from person to person, business to business, and industry to industry.  The underlying premise in all economic activity is that the exchange of goods and services between a provider and a consumer is voluntary and the exchange happens at a price agreeable to both parties.   In other words every economic transaction mutually benefits both parties.

More importantly, the underlying premise to these economic interests is they are voluntary.  No one person is coerced to purchase another good or service from anyone else.   How each individual chooses to provide for his needs, wants, and desires is his choice and responsibility.

Consequently, the marketplace for all goods and services reflects the needs, wants, and interests of all of society.  Naturally, there is some ebb and flow as both supply and demand fluctuate for various reasons and as new goods and services enter, and old goods leave the marketplace.  The marketplace is fluid as it adapts itself to reflect the goods and services society wants.   New products replace old products.  New inventions replace their predecessors.  Demands shift accordingly.

The goods produced and the services provided reflect the preferences of every individual and therefore society as a whole.

Contrast economic interests with political interests.  Political interests vary greatly from person to person.  Some are apolitical while others are hyper-political.  Assume political interests are totally separate from economic interests.  Once economic interests are excluded that leaves very little in the political realm.  Arguably, at a federal level all that remains is defense, relationships with foreign states, and adjudication of certain situations between states and what not.  Naturally, at the state and local levels there are other concerns such as law enforcement, infrastructure, roads, education, etc.

Political and economic interests have converged into a single interest.  The merging of political and economic interests creates disturbances in the nature of free markets.  When government enacts a program or policy with economic implications the political consequences are calculated based on the effect of a constituency group, donor, or business interest.  A policy/program may be sold under the guise of economic benefit to society, however the real intent is to secure political benefits.  Moreover, the callousness towards those people that are negatively impacted is eschewed as political posturing or by demeaning those that disagree with the policy.

The policy is measured and assessed by short-term political outcomes for the intended policy targets while the long-term economic effects on all are ignored.  As economic interests are consumed by and merge with political interests the authoritarian state manipulates the economy to meet government centric preferences.  How are government centric preferences more desirable than our individual preferences?  Do politicians possess magical powers and omnipotent insight into economic issues enabling them to make policy decisions regarding our economic interests?

As economic interests become political interests the state becomes authoritarian.  Politicians pick the winners and losers in the economy.  Politicians pass tax laws that favor certain businesses or industries.  They pass wage and price control laws.  They create public work programs.  They enact regulations that restrict certain activities and promote other activities.  They pass laws dictating what products you must buy and what products you cannot buy.  They force compliance through hundreds of thousands of laws complemented by millions of regulations promulgated by the State.   Non-compliance means fines, penalties, or prison.

Likewise, businesses turn to politicians to gain advantages they otherwise could not obtain in free markets.   Companies seek tax advantages, competitive advantages, exclusive privileges, etc. from politicians.  In turn these companies help fund political campaigns to ensure re-election.  The amalgamation of political and economic interests has created a fascist like government.  Politicians realize they are better off not actually owning the means of production and instead they control the power to levy, tax, and regulate companies to comply with government centric preferences to the detriment of individual choice and responsibility.  Politicians avoid all responsibility for their policies when they fail and direct blame to a company or big business.

The Affordable Care Act is a perfect example.   The ACA is a result of political interests and economic interests that helped further a political agenda and favor the health care and pharmaceutical companies.  It is a form of protectionism for those companies.  It is a form of socialism for the people.  Of course, politicians take credit for any perceived good that may come from the ACA while marginalizing companies and private markets for the problems. Politicians lie with impunity.  Politicians didn’t even know what was in the Act before it became law.  

Meanwhile, the political benefit is to ensure a certain constituency benefits by a law that requires some people to pay for the health care of others — something that could never happen in a free market.  In return, the politician receives votes from the targeted constituency and campaign donations from the companies receiving government protection.  Certain groups and constituencies ask for and receive waivers from the law.

The unintended consequences continue to accumulate.  Tens of millions have received letters terminating their health insurance.  Those forced into other plans are seeing their insurance costs increase by 30, 50, 100, and 200 percent or more.  The government is mandating certain coverage in all policies whether a person wants the coverage or not.  Deductible and out-of-pocket limits are increasing.  Employees have their hours cut to less than thirty as employers try to avoid the increased costs.  Some employers have laid-off workers to reduce their overall employee head count below fifty.  Eventually, many companies and individuals will be fined for not buying health insurance.  Of course, politicians will evade all blame and responsibility and instead blame the health insurance companies for all the problems.

The differences between a free market and the ACA are astounding.  In a free market nobody would be forced to buy insurance unless they voluntarily chose to do so.  Nobody would be fined for a lack of economic activity.  Nobody would choose mammograms, pre-natal, and pregnancy coverage if they are male or there isn’t anyone on their policy that would need that coverage.  In a free market, companies would offer insurance that consumers would want and at a price consumers are willing to pay.  In a free market people don’t pay $200 for a product they don’t want if they have a comparable product they want and only cost $100.

What the ACA demonstrates is economic interests are best determined by government and not by individuals.  Economic interests are swallowed up by political interests thereby eliminating individual choice and impeding the ability for two parties to voluntarily participate in the exchange of goods and services.   Just as it is criminal for one person to use force to require another person to buy a good or service, it is criminal when the government does it.

Of course, those that defend such action have no issue with government force or violence.  The same people that reject the right of self-defense applaud the government’s use of force against the people.   The same people that reject monopolies defend an all-powerful, centralized authoritarian state that is the largest, most coercive monopoly we know.  The same people clamor for this right or that right, yet defend a government that spies on its own people, can kill them with impunity, can illegally and indefinitely detain them, and acts arbitrarily and capriciously.

As government expands its reach people will realize the burden resting so heavily upon them is self-inflicted.  The people have placed the chains of bondage upon themselves by allowing political interests to supersede and engulf their own personal and economic freedom and liberty.  Just as politicians realized they don’t need to own the means of production, they realized they don’t need to own slaves as chattel property as they can enslave the people through an authoritarian state that deprives people of their unalienable rights, liberty, and ultimately their lives.

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