Tuesday, May 25, 2010
As an unapologetic Libertarian I would like to take a moment to point out what is wrong with the folks that make up the ranks of our nation's third largest political party.
I, like many of you, voted for Ron Paul in 2008. I like his son, Rand Paul, and find him to be a breath of fresh air whenever he speaks on the issues that are dear to my heart.
And yet, Mr. Paul is on the verge - assuming it is not already too late - of being relegated to a footnote in our political history. This would place him in the company of other Libertarians who seem to take pride in losing elections. After all, it takes a special person to really understand how smart we Libertarians are. We, and only we, know that government best serves us when it leaves our wallets and bodies alone. The Democrats understand liberty as it pertains to our rights to engage in social contracts. Republicans understand liberty as it pertains to our rights in economic contracts.
It takes a real smart person to understand the value of liberty in all contracts between consenting adults.
Yet, Libertarians are really, really dumb in at least one respect.
Rather than slowly pulling Republicans and Democrats in our direction by showing them the value of true freedom, we open our extremist-sounding mouths and blurt out inumerable offensive ideas that send voters running away.
Take Rand Paul's recent remarks that the government probably overstepped its bounds in the 1964 Civil Rights legislation. Mr. Paul contended that private businesses should not have faced force desegregation of restaurants, hotels, etc.
Yes, I understand his point. No, I do not think I should have to let anyone in my home or car or other private areas of my life if I choose not to. The problem with what Mr. Paul said is twofold.
First, the voters are not Constitutionally astute enough to discern the broader meaning of his comments and therefore will think he is a racist.
Second, pragmatic Libertarianism might suggest that desegregation of businesses was a proper function of government. After all, black people in 1964 could have argued that they paid property taxes to maintain the sidewalks, roads, street lights, signs, sewers, police and fire protection for the local sandwich shop and therefore a sandwich shop that exists to sell food to the public should have to allow all members of the tax-paying public to peacefully enter and pay for a meal.
Liberty means "anything that is peaceful". A peaceful attempt to exchange private property in a business establishment seems to fit under that definition.
If Mr. Paul - and other Libertarians - want to start winning elections a strong dose of common-sense Libertarianism would help achieve that goal.
Until then, Libertarians will be confined to the wilderness where many of our best ideas our clouded by rhetoric that the voters find offensive or extremist.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I am asked from time to time if there are moments in my life I can point to that put me on a path to become a Libertarian economist who blames government for everything that ails the planet. While there is a long list - probably dating back to my days in Kindergarten - one instance in particular helped shape my correct view that there is absolutely nothing government does as well as the private sector.
On May 19, 1990 - twenty years ago today - my boyhood home in Hugo, Oklahoma burned to the ground.
It was a beautiful home. It was built at the turn of the 20th century and totally refurbished by my grandfather during the 1940s. The exterior was all made of large stone. The interior was Colorado pine logs with wagon wheel chandaliers, a huge fire place and many other touches that made it a wonderful place to live in.
On the rare occasions when I visit my home town I always take my wife and kids down the end of Bluff Street. The kids especially enjoy running around in the big field that was next to my home. Where the home once was there is now nothing more than grass and a chain link fence that keeps people away from the low-income housing units that now sit in our former pasture.
The house would still be there if not for the failures of Hugo's government that night.
My brother started his new motorcycle near the window of my parents bedroom. When the engine started an explosion took place and flames shot through the open window and caught the curtains on fire. He immediately called the fire department. When they arrived and attempted to hook their hoses into the plug only 30 yards or so from our house, the fireplug did not respond. They rushed down the street to one over 150 yards away. It did not respond either.
Without access to water from the only two plugs in our area, all they - and my brother could do - was watch our home, and all of its contents, burn to the ground even though they got to our home when the fire was still contained to only part of the bedroom.
When an investigation was conducted as to why the plugs did not work it was discovered that the fire department had neglected to conduct routine maintenance (by flushing out the plugs) when it was supposed to. In fact, rather than coming out once every few months as the city required, it had been years since they had driven the five minutes it would have taken from the fire station to our house to simply do their jobs.
My parents considered pursuing litigation against the fire department only to discover from an attorney that cities in Oklahoma are under no legal obligation to protect citizens.
As a Libertarian I realize that my family has to bear responsibility for the cause of the fire. However, I also became well aware of another fact of life: If you count on a not-for-profit government agency that receives all of its funding from the forced taking of our earnings without the accountability that private companies face, then you better make sure that your insurance is up to date and your most important belongings are kept in a fire-proof safe.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
In an earlier blog entry that many of you responded to, I posted some student thoughts on NFL quarterback, Joe Montana - and his $49 million home. It was clear, from the writings of many of my students, that Socialism is alive and well in America.
Out of pure morbid curiosity, I decided to find out in my summer class, if Communism might also be the favored solution to our nation's problems. So, I played a dirty trick on my students. Here is what they were asked to read and comment on:
This month Congress will vote on the 2010 Equity and Economic Security Act. Below are five of the Act's major provisions. Please read over each of them and then write a short essay explaining whether or not these provisions will help bring about greater economic equality and security for the United States.
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.
4. Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
5. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
Of course, as all of you know, these five provisions come directly from The Communist Manifesto written by Messrs. Marx and Engels. There is no such Act (yet). I basically lied to everyone to flush out the Marxists among us.
25% of my students were in agreement with parts of, or all of this "Act." Here are some their comments - unedited for grammar or spelling.
"I think this program will bring greater economic quality because each of these points will bring comfort and benefits to the citizens. I think this program will bring a security in economy that will be a benefit to everyone. These program mentioned talk about abolition of things that citizens in the past will like to eliminate, also give a lot of benefits to the public like centralization of communication and transport. I think every single part is a benefit to almost every citizen."
"The only thing the government should possibly implement would be point 5: Centralization of the means of communication and transport in hands of the State."
"I have also been a victim of the corruption of lenders and credit companies, scams, and seen the economic hardships. Therefore, I do feel that this Act will bring about some much needed direction, organization and reconstruction to our much needed economy."
"As we all know the economy was very affected by the property and territory sales. This problem really impacted most of the population, so I think that if Congress get control over this it could absolutely help our economic crisis. Banks were basically one of the central points why economy was so devastated this year. By centralizing the credict in the hands of the state it will possibly regulate and balance the economy."
"I feel that a combination of those changes would result in greater economic equality."
"Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes could, in my opinion, possibly help out the economy. Abolition of all right of inheritance would help out the security our economy.
There you have it my friends....or should I say comrades?