About:

"In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense; and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves; that he will put on rather than off, the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day." - Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Friday, December 20, 2013

Guaranteed Universal Income = Guaranteed Universal Poverty

Another flawed, not-so-new economic idea to save the poor and middle class has once again started to gain popularity: a guaranteed universal (or basic) income. Basically, everybody is guaranteed a certain amount of money per month, courtesy of our overlords benevolent leaders. Anyone who earns above that amount gets taxed "in proportion." There are better ideas, but basic income advocates naively claim that their scheme would defeat poverty once and for all.

According to the 2013 Federal Poverty Guidelines, the individual poverty level is just under $12,000/year. So let's imagine a system where everyone, upon reaching a certain age, received a check for $1,000/month just for being alive.

The fault of any basic income scheme is in the underlying assumption that, once implemented, people will continue to work just as much as they do now. But this assumption conveniently ignores the immense disincentive to work once such a system is in place.

It should be obvious that no one earning below, at, or slightly above the poverty level would continue working. Let's say you've got a minimum wage job at a higher-than-average $9/hr. You work 8-hour days every single weekday in the year, never taking a day off because you're a total iron-(wo)man, and you desperately want to get ahead. All that work gets you ~$17,000/year, or in the ballpark of ~$1400/month.

But wait! Your lazy-yet-capable neighbor who sits at home and does absolutely nothing except throw parties when you're trying to sleep gets a cool, free $1,000/month basically to do exactly that. You would be too, but you choose to work your ass off for an extra $440/month like an admirable idiot, and then even that gets taxed and inflated away to pay for all the people who suddenly decided that working wasn't worth their time.

There's a less obvious force working that would inevitably result in the mandated poverty line being raised: inflation. As the costs of this welfare program (and all the ones before it) increase as more and more people take advantage of it, taxes alone won't be able to pay for it. Even now, most of our tax dollars go toward paying interest on our national debt. The Federal Reserve will be forced to massively inflate the money supply, causing prices for everything to go sky-high.

The higher prices will result in a tremendous push to raise the poverty level. Now people will be paid $1,500/month, then $2,000/month, etc., and people who earn at or around that level will quit their jobs as well, compounding the problem even further.

As more and more people quit working or lose their jobs, the tax burden on those who do work increases and their income decreases. The commonly held belief that rich people are taxed to pay for poor people is false - in reality, poor and middle-class people are taxed to pay for other poor and middle-class people. Eventually you'll stop and realize that you can't justify getting up for work every day simply to earn just as much as your non-working neighbor. 

Despite what some conservative and supposedly libertarian writers and pundits have claimed, a guaranteed universal income scheme will not replace the current welfare system. This is a ridiculous argument that is contrary to experience, yet has been routinely trotted out to appeal to limited-government folks every time there's a new grand welfare program being pushed. One major example is Social Security, which was touted as a replacement for a patchwork of confused, sporadic, and inefficient old-age relief programs. Instead, Social Security was simply placed on top of those programs. This is no different: all of our current welfare programs would be supplemented by a basic income, rather than replaced.

Instead of paying someone, McD's will just have Robots make your crappy burger.
But that's not all: with the increased taxes, higher prices for goods and labor, and an unstable currency, what few businesses are left in the country will either leave for more appealing markets or won't be able to hire anyone. Many more jobs will become automated. Any remaining leverage that workers had would be gone because jobs would become even scarcer.

As is common with the surface-deep economic thought behind many socialist ideas, a universal income simply attempts to treat the symptoms of a dead or dying economy instead of attacking the cause of the problem. The irony of the idea of a basic guaranteed income is that it frames the government as the solution to a government-induced problem, and, contrary to the naive and shortsighted expectations of its advocates, will only serve to make things worse. 

When you see all the money the government is handing out not only to people who don't work but people and companies who make millions or billions of dollars, the correct approach is not to say, "I should get mine, too," but instead to realize that our government should not be stealing money from anyone (which they do by threatening us with jail-time) and giving it to someone else. The fact remains that there has yet to be a government program nearly as effective as private charity at aiding those in need, and simply having the government throw money at poor people while taxing, regulating, and destroying the economy around them isn't going to solve anything.

Related posts:


Recommended reading (click link or picture to purchase from Amazon and support SFPA):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B000WU2632/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B000WU2632&linkCode=am2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by Henry Hazlitt

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1610162641/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1610162641&linkCode=as2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by Murray Rothbard


Please Share!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Two Types Of People And Why Hobbes Was Wrong

While I hate to generalize, in my experience it seems that there are two predominant types of people in the world: those who believe that people are generally bad, and those who believe people are generally good. A person's stance on this issue will have a huge influence not only on their political beliefs but also how they interact with the world around them.

An ugly man with an ugly world view.
People have been debating whether people are good or bad for centuries. In the 1600s, philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote the famous book Leviathan (click to purchase from Amazon.com), in which he made the claim that humans are inherently selfish, evil creatures and therefore need to be controlled by an all-powerful ruler in order to "protect" themselves from their evil ways. According to Hobbes, all actions taken by the government are just because the ruler defines justice, freedom does not exist because we exchange it for protection against ourselves, and as government is the foundation of society, without it society would decay to the point where everyone would be constantly fighting against everyone else in a "war of all against all."

Statists generally use Hobbes to argue against a stateless, anarchist society, but Hobbes' ideas are absurd. If Hobbes is right and all men are selfish, evil creatures, then his "solution" - to give these inevitably corrupt(-ible) men the power to control the whole of society - is completely backwards. Are the kings, nobles, Prime Ministers, Presidents, and Senators not human beings themselves? Don't they have faults of their own?

*cough*
"Well, that's why we have elections. So the bad ones get voted out," says the Hobbesian statist. But how could a population of evil and/or ignorant people pick a "good" candidate? Another problem is the more powerful government becomes, the more it attracts sociopaths to politics because the people most likely to win an election are the ones that are willing to lie, cheat, and steal all the way to the top. Government is the perfect environment for a sociopath. The only plausible solution in a Hobbesian world is to decentralize and spread power out as evenly as possible (anarchism), not to monopolize violence (government) and give control to one person or group.

But we don't live in a Hobbesian world, and anarchy does not mean "chaos." It's tempting to call other people bad, but we have to remember exactly what "evil" means. The guy who cuts you off in traffic and then flips you off might be an irresponsible douche, but he's probably not evil. Be honest, how many people in the world do you think are legitimately evil? Someone with no morals, no empathy, no conscience - a sociopath - is truly evil.

The truth is that people are generally good. I'm not saying that everyone is inherently good, since everyone is different and about 4% of people are legitimate sociopaths (according to psychologist Martha Stout, a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Med., in her book The Sociopath Next Door [Click to purchase from Amazon.com]). But the thing is, unless there's a cop around, the government isn't really "present" during the clear majority of interactions between people. Government itself is an abstract concept and doesn't actually exist, so technically you're already living in a state of anarchy for the majority of your life. Government or not, bad people do bad things despite the law, while good people don't need laws to be moral. After all, there are laws against murder and theft, yet there are still people who commit those crimes.

Without government, we'd find a way to continue peacefully, and in the long run that means voluntary, mutually-beneficial exchange with other people in the free market: for example, I need a cake. You have one. I could stab you for your cake but then I risk getting hurt myself, vengeance from you or your friends/relatives, a tarnished reputation, the elimination of future trade with you and whatever products/services you may have offered, loss of a possible friend, and alienation from the rest of the community. It's much easier and smarter for both of us if I simply offered money, labor, other baked goods, etc., for your cake. It's ridiculous and contrary to experience to assume that people would abandon this system of mutually beneficial exchange just because there isn't a cop with a gun standing next to them.

For your protection!
Despite this, statists believe that if we abandon government, then robbery, murder, rape, and destruction will ensue on massive scale. I find this claim interesting because "mass robbery" sounds a lot like taxation and eminent domain while mass murder, rape, and destruction sounds like war. In truth, the government is the most powerful criminal organization in (almost) any given country, but because it has elections and a pretty flag we excuse it. So even though we supposedly have government to keep us safe, our leaders routinely send us to war while stealing money and property from us and, despite the laws, there are still murderers, rapists, and thieves walking our streets. Thomas Paine would call that an "intolerable evil."

Like I said, even in a free society there are still bad people, but a free society doesn't mean there wouldn't be any courts or police. Self-policing would be just as important as it is now since, like now, police can only respond to crime and rarely prevent it. Courts and justice in a libertarian society would concentrate more on restitution to the victim rather than punishment of the criminal, although that may depend on the crime itself.

No rulers.
Basically, Hobbes argued for fascism and slavery and is the ideological predecessor of men like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. After all, according to Hobbes, disgusting acts of democide like the Holocaust (which claimed 12,000,000 lives) are justified simply because they are acts of government. Hobbes and the still-growing popularity of his claim that tyranny is somehow better than freedom has set humanity back hundreds of years. His claim that government is the foundation of society is clearly false; the truth is that government destroys society by institutionalizing barbarism. Only by turning its back on the Leviathan and embracing statelessness and private property rights will the human race ever free itself.


Recommended reading (click to purchase on Amazon.com):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162910065X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=162910065X&linkCode=as2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by John Locke

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1610162641/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1610162641&linkCode=as2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by Murray Rothbard

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1619491702/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1619491702&linkCode=as2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by Thomas Hobbes

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0767915828/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0767915828&linkCode=as2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by Martha Stout

Please share!
 

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Federal Reserve: The Skeleton Key Of Tyranny



Regardless of their political beliefs, more and more people are realizing that there is something deeply wrong not only with this country, but with the world, and that it is getting worse every day. We see more wars, a government that's growing to truly frightening levels, more taxes, jobs leaving the country and unemployment in general, and absurdly high prices for just about everything.

With so much obviously wrong, many people get discouraged or disgusted and never find out that there is a single root cause to many of these problems and it's right under their nose. Without a doubt, the problem is our money and the system by which it is created: the Federal Reserve.

Entire civilizations have risen and fallen because of their money, yet few people know or even care where their money comes from or what is really is. It's an extremely difficult topic to discuss simply because any explanation is long-winded and the process is intentionally confusing. But if power can be bought - and everyone knows that a Senator is the best investment - then the power to create money out of thin air is a magic trick that obviously needs explaining. I understand that this is a long post, but please, take a little time to read this or bookmark it and check it out again later because it truly is the single most important issue facing not only us Americans but every person in the world.

The Federal Reserve System


The Federal Reserve is a central bank, which means that, through legal tender and anti-counterfeiting laws, the government has granted it a monopoly over the issuance of our money, allowing the cartel to collect interest on money it creates out of nothing. The Federal Reserve isn't a public or private institution, it's both. It's a cartel of private banks that could not exist without the support of government force.

I'm really not going to go into the history of the Fed because that's a different topic than how it works and how it affects us. Rest assured that it's a truly intriguing and rarely-told bedtime story that spans hundreds of years and features men who could buy entire countries, corrupt politicians, and the enslavement of unborn generations.

But lets take a closer look at how it works...

The money-creation process starts when our politicians vote to spend more money than the government actually has (or is willing to directly tax you and I for fear of public resistance) in order to pay for current social programs, wars, etc. But the money to pay for it all has to come from somewhere, right? Do you think your taxes pay for it? Nope. The country wouldn't be able to afford almost any of it if that were the case (more on where your taxes do go in just a moment). So where does the money come from?

The Federal Reserve can create money in three different ways. The first way, and the one that needs the most explanation, is by purchasing Treasury Bonds and other debts through a deliberately confusing and nonsensical process called...

Open Market Operations

What happens is the US Treasury borrows money by issuing a glorified IOU called a Treasury Bond. It's a piece of paper with fancy designs around the edges and a few signatures and it basically says "give us X amount of money and we'll pay you that amount back plus interest." The trick is that you and I, the American people, are responsible for the payment of the bond plus interest because our government claims to represent us. This is the national debt. A Treasury Bond is basically a promise to tax the American people for the amount of the bond plus interest. This is what your tax dollars are actually go toward: paying interest on our national debt (which is over $17 trillion dollars and growing).

But you and I don't pay each other in Treasury Bonds. Where does the actual money come in? Actually, by issuing the Treasury Bond, the government has basically created cash; it just doesn't look like cash. Yet. That's where The Fed comes in. To start the process, the US Treasury takes the bond it just issued and holds a bond auction among the world's largest banks. The banks buy part of our national debt (Treasury Bonds) hoping to make money off the interest payments (your taxes), and the government gets the money it needs  to pay for whatever crap (guns and butter).

These banks then give the bond to the Fed, which then writes a check on itself for the amount of the bond. The Federal Reserve gives these checks back to the banks, and the banks use them to buy more Treasury Bonds so the government can keep spending on more crap. Once the government gets the money, it spends it, sending out checks to its employees, welfare beneficiaries, political allies, etc., dispersing throughout society and eventually winding up deposited in private bank accounts like yours and mine.

Here's the twist: the Fed doesn't actually have any money to pay for the bonds: its account balance is exactly zero.  However, simply by writing out a fraudulent check, the Federal Reserve is creating money out of nothing. While you and I slave away our whole lives for money (and give the Dollar its only value by doing so), the Fed can just counterfeit it. If you or I attempted this, we'd be put in jail for fraud.

This is also where we get into the second way the Fed creates money:

Reserve Ratios

How this works is that in the Fed's accounting books (if it actually has any), the bond is now called a reserve, or the money available on demand. Using these reserves as a "base," they lend out 9 additional dollars for every dollar they have in reserve. So if the Treasury Bond was for one million dollars, the Federal Reserve gives the requested million to Congress, but also creates nine million dollars more to lend to banks as the source of every loan given to individuals or businesses in the country. It's important to note that although the Fed sets the reserve ratios for every bank in the country, reserve ratios of money that can be created out of thin air are largely pointless as the Fed can just create more money or alter reserve ratios as they wish.

This process, where not only the Federal Reserve but every bank in the country only has to keep on hand only a fraction of the amount of money they have lent out, is called fraudulent fractional reserve banking, and it's entirely based on the premise that everyone will never come for their money all at once.

So when you take your money to the bank and deposit, for example, $10,000, the bank isn't actually holding on to your $10,000 in a vault. It's keeping $1000 as a cash reserve, then loaning out $9000 from your deposit to various business interests while filling the difference in your account with bank credits/IOU's that are supposed to be redeemable on demand for cash. If someone comes in for a $9000 loan, the bank gives them the $9000 (while charging interest) and uses that person's debt as a fractional reserve to loan out even more money. Deposits become loans, loans become deposits, and this process snowballs as the money supply expands exponentially. This expansion of the money supply is called inflation, but is not to be confused with a general rise in prices (price inflation), which is simply an effect of inflation.

The third way the Fed creates money is refreshingly simple:

The "Discount Window"

This is just the name of the process where banks can take out loans from the Federal Reserve at extremely low interest rates and then loan out that money at higher interest rates for a profit. Remember that the principles of fractional reserve banking and reserve ratios also apply here, so basically the Fed takes our tax dollars, multiplies them because it can, then gives that money out to member banks so they can lend our money right back to us.

The Effects

While actual paper dollars only account for a small minority of the dollars in existence (the majority are simply numbers in a book or digits on a screen), this whole process amounts to little more than a more sophisticated, confusing, and less obvious way of turning on a printing press and firing cash out of a window or dropping money out of a helicopter. Sounds pretty awesome, right? That is, until you consider that every time the Federal Reserve does this, simple supply and demand dictates that the money that you and I own is losing value - almost 10% a year (ShadowStats.com). Since the Federal Reserve was chartered in 1913, the US Dollar has lost about 96% of its value (www.usinflationcalculator.com). That means an item bought in 1913 for just $1 would cost ~$23.50 now, all because of inflation. 

It's a hidden tax that affects the lower classes, those who save their money, and those living on fixed incomes the most. On the other hand, the very nature of The Fed and central banking in general funnels the wealth of the masses to the people closest to the money-fountain, which are usually bankers and other business leaders, politicians, and the ruling class in general, which is exactly why you hear so often that 95% percent of the country's money is in only 5% of the people's hands.

As the country goes further into debt and the Fed adds more money to the economy, there will eventually come a point where there are so many dollars in existence and the Fed is adding more at such a high rate that they simply aren't worth anything. This is called hyperinflation. Many countries throughout history have experienced hyperinflation. In fact, fiat money (money that has no value except for a government decree saying it's worth such-and-such amount) has a 100% failure rate throughout history.

Yes, that's a pile of money-bricks. The sad thing is the children in the picture are still poor as hell.
One country that experienced hyperinflation was Germany after WW1. The German government was forced to add so much money to the economy that the German Mark became completely worthless. How worthless? So worthless that people would have to take a whole wheelbarrow full of money just to buy a dozen eggs or their take out their life's savings to get a loaf of bread. So worthless that adults burned German Marks in their fireplaces for heat while children took the notes and made kites out of them. That kind of worthless.


Another side effect of the Fed's managing the money supply through reserves is the process of booms and busts/depressions/recessions. As the Fed injects money into the economy, it tricks people and businesses into making decisions as if they have money that they don't. They spend and take out loans because money is cheap and plentiful. Prices rise. People keep spending and borrowing. Prices keep rising. This is the boom or bubble.

Eventually prices rise to the point where even with all the cheap money, people don't feel comfortable paying the ridiculous prices and refuse to take on new debt, instead choosing to pay off old debt. Since our money is based on debt, when people pay back their debt, the money supply shrinks and prices begin to fall, and suddenly the market collapses as the bubble bursts. This is what happened recently in 2007/08, but the Fed has also been the reason behind every economic recession/depression since 1913, including the Great Depression. 

Unwilling to let the free market's self-cleaning mechanism work itself out, the government then votes to spend even more money on bailouts, work programs, welfare, war, etc. to resurrect the dying economy, digging the hole even deeper and piling on more debt to be paid off by future generations. These programs and policies never work, and the recession always gets worse as the government gets involved.

What Now?

So let's finally recap: the Federal Reserve System is a cozy partnership between Big Banking and Big Government through which the banks can create money out of thin air and collect interest on it while the politicians get unlimited funding without the American people realizing that we're being taxed.

This virtually unlimited supply of money all but guarantees that our government will continue to expand and expand for as long as the Federal Reserve and fiat money exists, destroying our wealth and the wealth of those who follow us.

The way I see it, there are three things that need to be done to fix the problem with our money:

1. Abolish legal tender laws - Doing so will allow for consumer's choice through competing currencies. Legal tender laws are the backbone are the Federal Reserve System. This is a necessary step before we go ahead and...

2. Abolish the Federal Reserve - This should be obvious by now. The Fed has failed disastrously at its stated goals and fuels the creation of more debt.

3. Repudiate the National Debt - Why should you and I be forced to pay for something created by the politicians of a previous generation? This is nothing more than politicians stealing from your kids and grandkids before they're even born.

No matter what, another economic crash is coming, and it's going to be enormous. It's inevitable given the structure of our monetary system. In fact, many countries around the world are beginning to view the Dollar as a ticking time bomb. Just about every country in the world uses the US Dollar to back their own currencies, and many, including Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, have already begun to take steps away from the US Dollar. China, in particular, is buying gold faster than it can be mined.

However, by following the above recommendations, we could at least minimize the damage done by this inherently evil system by not allowing the hole to get any deeper. Even more importantly we could bring freedom to our money by taking away the guns that back it, and we could free unborn generations from being born into serfdom. This isn't just an important issue, it's the issue, and people need to know about it.

There are many books that do a better job explaining all this than I ever could. Here are several that I personally recommend (click the links or pictures to purchase from Amazon and support SFPA):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446549193/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0446549193&linkCode=as2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by Ron Paul

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/091298645X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=091298645X&linkCode=as2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by G. Edward Griffin

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/146997178X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=146997178X&linkCode=as2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by Murray Rothbard

Also, here's a great show by Mike Maloney, who correctly predicted the 2007-08 crash, explaining the Federal Reserve System and its effects. It's called "The Biggest Scam In The History Of Mankind":


Please share!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Libertarian Vs. Authoritarian: The Real History Of The Left/Right Paradigm (Part 2)


...continued from Part 1.

Thomas Jefferson
John Locke
Modern libertarianism is derived from the ideas of the "classical liberal" movement, which began in the 17th century with writers such as John Locke and later Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Frédéric Bastiat, just to name a few. These classical liberals believed that individual liberty should be maximized by recognition of self-ownership and private property rights. They also understood that government is always destructive of freedom, and should be limited in scope and nature.

Many of us take this for granted, but this was revolutionary (and often "treasonous") talk in a world of kings, nobles, state-granted monopolies, politicized economic controls, crippling taxes, and constant wars that had more to do with business interests than with the people actually dying in them. In that mercantilist world, you were considered a "subject," not a "citizen," of whatever government you lived under. You did not own your own body. Your property could be taken at any moment by the whim of a king or baron or even a soldier. You could be kidnapped, given a gun/sword/spear and a uniform, and be sent around the world or just two miles down the road to kill and conquer people that never harmed you. Or, your land could be invaded and you and your family killed because some king wanted your land. This was life for the vast majority of people that have ever lived.

The classical liberal movement was only barely successful in Great Britain, which was already a superpower with colonies and protectorates around the world and wasn't about to give that up. However, even those relatively small gains in economic and personal freedom unleashed a wave of creativity and industry and were largely responsible for the Industrial Revolution in Britain, one of the largest continued increases in the standard of living for the average person that the world has ever seen.

Frédéric Bastiat
Jumping ahead, the initial principles behind the French Revolution were also liberal, but libertarianism in France died as their Revolution descended into bloody authoritarianism and eventually dictatorship and empire under Napoleon. This is actually where we get the source of the "left wing/right wing" paradigm. During the French Revolution, the "liberals" and "radical" delegates sat on the left side of the assembly hall while the representatives of the ruling classes occupied the right side of the hall. So there was a "left wing" that championed liberty and a "right wing" that championed statism.

The liberal movement saw its greatest success here in America. The classical liberals behind the American Revolution were "radicals" in their day, rebelling against the "status quo" of war, taxes, controls, monopolies, corruption, executive power, and big government in general. The Founding Fathers were such "extremists" that the form of government they decided on afterward was beyond what was considered possible at the time.

Even during the Revolution, however, there were very powerful forces working to undermine classical liberalism in America. The ruling classes of the world, such as the kings, nobles, international banking houses, and industry leaders were deeply threatened by classical liberal ideas and wished to preserve the mercantilist system of empires like Great Britain: poverty and serfdom for the masses and luxury and power for the elites. So at first you had the "liberals" and "radicals" fighting for individual liberty and economic freedom against the "conservatives" who sought to undo everything accomplished by the classical liberals, but then things started to get confusing.

A very confused ideology.
Socialism began in the 1830s as a confused ideology that took bits and pieces of both conservatism and liberalism. Socialists took from the liberals an acceptance of the Industrial Revolution (due to the resulting rise in the standard of living), expanded suffrage, and adopted the rhetoric of peace, freedom, equality, and prosperity for the masses. However, the socialists wanted to accomplish their goals through the conservative methods of statism, collectivism, and hierarchy. Thus, a socialist state always establishes the rule of politicians or technocrats who only claim to rule "scientifically" in the name of "the people." Socialism is liberal in rhetoric but conservative/authoritarian in action.

These conservative/semi-conservative forces were hugely successful in the 19th century, largely due to their ability to use government resources to influence public opinion through schooling. Whether we're talking about priests during the Middles Ages or college professors today, rulers have always allied themselves with and legitimized an "intellectual caste" that serves only to justify any action taken by the state.

As these conservative and socialist forces gained ground, liberals became content to simply guard what they had already won. Instead of constantly pushing for progress and refining theory, the classical liberals lost interest in principle and began to compromise and focus on gradual change (which results in no change at all). The aforementioned alliance between the statists and the "intellectual caste" began to take its toll as well, as laissez-faire liberal ideas were successfully re-branded as reactionary, outdated, and even conservative, while the statists re-branded themselves as "progressives" and "liberals." The socialists were able to assume for themselves the "left" wing and became the movement of change, hope, and progress, while pushing liberals/libertarians in the middle or "moderate" position of a confusing spectrum where the left wing's unlimited state power is opposed to the right wing's unlimited state power.

Andrew Jackson
The classical liberals morphed into a "conservative" movement that allowed itself to become stagnant and eventually completely irrelevant, not even lasting into the 20th century. The Jeffersonian and Jacksonian drives toward libertarianism in early America stalled with Jefferson's second term, Jackson's aggression toward Native Americans, and Martin Van Buren's failure to win a second term. Slavery, a major compromise in libertarian principle, would land the mortal blow on the movement.

The result was the Civil War
William Jennings Bryan
and virtual one-party government of Lincoln's Republicans and the establishment of the same mercantilist policies the country rebelled against. There was an attempt to return to libertarian and Constitutional standards after the war (under the Cleveland administration, for example, which had already been branded "conservative" by that time), but the Democratic Party, which had long represented classical liberalism in America, was eventually captured by forces led by William Jennings Bryan, who abandoned economic and personal libertarianism while still harboring anti-imperialist beliefs. But even this non-interventionist foreign policy was eventually abandoned almost 20 years later when Democrat Woodrow Wilson wanted to get America in WW1.

Stood on principle. Elected 12 times.
So what the American people were left with until the emergence of the Libertarian Party in the 1970s was a choice between two sets of power brokers with their respective and often coinciding special interests and goals. The similarities are more apparent now than ever, as members of both major parties are clearly threatened by the resurgence in libertarian ideas since the presidential campaigns of Ron Paul. Establishment Republicans are trying to rid their party of people who don't just speak small government rhetoric, but believe in it as well. They isolated and ignored Ron Paul for years and, at the risk of destroying their own party, are now doing the same thing to his followers by labeling them as "extremists" and "ideologues," as if standing firm on principle could ever be a bad thing.

Why? Because libertarians (and anarchists like myself) are steering the discussion back toward personal liberty and individualism and away from authority and collectivism while the establishment Republicans were perfectly content to ride the coattails of the Democrats into a future of high-tech feudalism. What Ron Paul did with his presidential campaigns is what libertarians must continue to do: educate people that left versus right, Democrat versus Republican is pointless. It's a centuries-old war between liberty and power that is going to keep being fought until humans evolve past their need/desire for government.

Return to Part 1.

Recommended reading (click links or pictures to purchase from Amazon.com):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446537527/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0446537527&linkCode=as2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by Murray Rothbard

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446537527/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0446537527&linkCode=as2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by Ron Paul  

Please share!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Libertarian Vs. Authoritarian: The Real History Of The Left/Right Paradigm


Above: Bullshit.
 One aspect of modern American politics that renders it so impenetrable to many people are the myriad labels assigned to different systems of beliefs. Even more confusing is the insistence of Our Great Informers to split every issue into Left versus Right, or Liberal versus Conservative. Republicans are supposed to support militarism and economic freedom, but don't extend that freedom to many social issues such as drugs, sex, etc. Democrats are supposed to be opposed to war and support social freedoms, but don't extend that freedom to economic issues. But with libertarians like Ron Paul becoming more and more popular, many people are beginning to wonder where they fit in the Left/Right paradigm, because libertarians supposedly have qualities of both the Left and Right.

We're told that the extreme of the Left is Communism, such as what we saw in the Soviet Union, Communist China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, etc. We're told the extreme of the Right, diametrically opposed to Communism, is Fascism; as in Fascist Italy, Spain, and Nazi Germany.

We're told that liberals, Democrats, progressives, communists, social liberals, greens, social democrats, socialists, democratic socialists, "civil-libertarians," and anarchists are all members of the "Left." Meanwhile, Republicans, conservatives, neoconservatives, capitalists, "economic-libertarians," social authoritarians, monarchists, theocrats, nationalists, and fascists are all members of the "Right."

But if you know anything about Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and any of the mentioned political beliefs, you begin to see that the whole premise of the modern Left/Right paradigm falls apart. The problem lies in the fact that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, while claiming irreconcilable ideological difference, were actually two forms of the same system of government: totalitarianism, or authoritarianism (the only difference is that authoritarians claim to rule through or for the "people," which is always a bunch of crap).


The Left/Right Paradigm: Concentration Camp or Gulag?
Regardless of the name, this type of government asserts that the rights of the group, whether it be "society," "country," trumps the rights of the individual (a premise that falls on its face when one realizes that a group is not an actual entity; it's just a label for a set of individuals). In practice, this collectivist view has led to the most oppressive and murderous regimes in world history.

In this light, the absurdity of grouping anarchists with Soviets and libertarians with Nazis should be obvious. Anarchists believe in no government, and libertarians believe in extremely little government; how could they be lumped in with Soviets and Nazis, respectively, but be opposed to each other? Obviously anarchists and libertarians should be grouped closely, and opposed to totalitarianism/authoritarianism, with the rest of the ideologies placed along the continuum accordingly.

This new paradigm would alter the Left/Right continuum to more accurately reflect the realities of the world. Basically, it should be maximum individual freedom (no government) versus zero individual freedom (maximum government). Liberty versus Power. Anarchism versus Statism. Individualism versus Collectivism. Libertarianism (or individual anarchism to be precise) versus Authoritarianism, and whatever other fancy names we can come up with for the same idea.

Moreover, let's make it into a damn Yin-Yang because Yin-Yangs are cool.
This brings up another interesting area: why do we have so many different names for these beliefs when many of them are really just the same thing? This confusion stems from a political chess game that has been played for hundreds of years, and is still being played today. As Liberty and Power continuously maneuvered around each other for the high ground, American politics was twisted into something almost unrecognizable: what used to be a liberal is now called a conservative (or, more accurately, a libertarian), what used to be called a conservative is now called a liberal, and the Democrat and Republican parties are actually both "liberal" (modern usage) in practice and aren't much different at all. Most importantly, the side of Power has definitely taken hold of the high ground.

Sound confusing? It is, so we'll save the history for Part 2.


Recommended reading (click links or pictures to purchase from Amazon.com):

by Murray Rothbard

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446537527/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0446537527&linkCode=as2&tag=simpfactandpl-20
by Ron Paul 

Please share!