Wednesday, November 23, 2011

COPYPASTA! 'Ron Paul Supporters are a Scourge on the Republican Party'

This post is a COPYPASTA that was originally published under my old pseudonym, 'Sentient Void', at the Ron Paul Forums Blog, on 11-23-2011.

From the Washington Times, Communities (intentionally broken link, replace hxxp with http):


 Originally Posted by Eric Golub
"It is time to stop coddling the screaming children and just say it: Ron Paul supporters are a scourge that could hurt the effort to stop President Obama's relection[sic]."
 Originally Posted by Eric Golub
"Dr. Paul and his supporters are a scourge on the Republican Party because they are not Republicans. They are trying to remake the party completely in Dr. Paul’s image and have trouble accepting that 90-95% of the party feel it is fine just the way it is."
 Originally Posted by Eric Golub
"If Ron Paul supporters will vote for Ron Paul and nobody else, then get lost. Nobody needs you. Your candidate is the fringe, and you remain a scourge."
First, let me just say that I have no clue who 'Eric Golub' is. It doesn't really matter who he is (or isn't) - but in this instance, Eric is the mouthpiece that represents the current establishment / prominent Republican mentality. I've been hearing these kinds of statements a lot recently from many other talking heads on the mainstream media - and I feel it needs to be addressed and settled, once and for all.

Eric is saying that RP supporters should essentially 'get in line' and vote for the Republican nominee, regardless of who it is - or 'stay away' if we don't. Oh yeah - and uh, he says that we are 'a scourge'.

He also misrepresents Ron Paul supporters and makes quite a few hasty generalizations about us and things we say. I've met very, very few RP supporters who are as vacuous and inane as Eric here tries to make us out to be. In fact, RP supporters are some of the most informed activists out there who understand a wide range of topics - from the Constitution, to economics, to history (both American and World), and of course the process of utilizing Aristotelian methods of discourse to arrive at truth and justice.

Eric continues by making inane personal attacks on Ron Paul (he says, 'one leader with funny ears and a defeatist foreign policy is enough') in the article, as well as his absurd claim that '90-95%' of the Republican party think that it is 'fine the way it is'. Unfortunately for Eric, this opinion is completely divorced from reality. Clearly he's never heard of the Tea Party (which was originally *started* by Ron Paul supporters and their epic $6+ million single-day donation moneybomb at Faneuil Hall here in Boston, MA).

He wants us to settle for anyone who is nominated for the Republican Party. He wants us to compromise on our principles. But it is this easy readiness to compromise that has led us down this path in the first place. 

 Originally Posted by Ayn Rand
"There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube . . .

When men reduce their virtues to the approximate, then evil acquires the force of an absolute, when loyalty to an unyielding purpose is dropped by the virtuous, it’s picked up by scoundrels—and you get the indecent spectacle of a cringing, bargaining, traitorous good and a self-righteously uncompromising evil."
We're done with the compromisers. We're done with the knaves, the scoundrels and the trolls that Ayn Rand is speaking of who have brought us to the edge of financial destruction and the loss of our liberties.

To me, none of these empty suits that Eric wants us to support will do much different than Bush or Obama has done anyways. They have little to no consistent principles about individual liberty or free markets. Much of their rhetoric and absolutely all of the other candidates' political histories show this to be the case. They are concerned only with their own power and egos - at our expense. Ron Paul has demonstrated no such desires - and his voting record illustrates this.

If Ron Paul does not win the republican nomination (and it must be noted that his support is steadily growing, as another article stated, 'like a ratchet'), then I hope RP runs third party or 'independent' and wins - or at the very least causes a major disruption for either or both parties, which ultimately are not much different. If he doesn't win... then who knows - it may inspire a *significant* third party growth, especially with independents being the largest political affiliation in the US now.

 Originally Posted by John Adams
"Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."
If it comes down to it, then I (and pretty much all RP supporters) will simply protest vote - and I don't care if it gets Obama re-elected, because any of your other political trolls will merely continue the same destructive and corrupt trash we've seen for years anyways, if not decades.

In the end, it's clear that this troll and others like him who have such a disdain for RP supporters have become genuinely threatened by the influence of RP and his support base. Good. Let them flail about as they witness their own inevitable irrelevance... it is truly a sight to behold.

Our loyalty is not to *your view* of what the Republican party allegedly 'is' or 'should be'. Our loyalty is to the principles of free markets, individual liberty, responsibility, as local government as possible, and the Constitution. These used to be things the Republican party stood for, long ago. We represent the original Republican party - that of Barry Goldwater and 'Mr. Republican' Robert Taft. So you have it backwards, Eric. In actuality, it is *you* and your ilk who are the true scourge and blight upon the Republican Party - not us Ron Paul supporters.

So guess what, trolls? We're not going home. We're a fact of life now for the GOP. Get used to it. You lunatics have done enough damage, and we're here to put a stop to it. If you ever want to win another election, you'd better get on board, because if you don't, we're going to make your lives very, very difficult. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

COPYPASTA: 'Opting-Out' - How to Achieve a Libertarian Society in the Context of the State?

This post is a COPYPASTA that was originally published under my old pseudonym, 'Sentient Void', at the Ron Paul Forums Blog, on 07-07-2011.

Remember when Ron Paul (at CPAC) was suggesting the ability to 'Opt-Out' of the system? I understand he was talking primarily about federal income tax - but why not think about it in terms of Federal, State, and Local?

I was thinking deeply on this the other day, and it's theoretical implications.

First, I would think passing 'Opt-Out' legislation would be less offensive (and thus easier to legislate successfully) to most liberals than outright abolishing or privatizing elements of government services (social safety nets, police, fire, education, etc) that they want or value. This way, they could still exist, and those who want them can still fund them and be a part of them without much change at all (except perhaps have a database of those who have opted out so to know that they don't get 'discounted' or 'free' services like taxpayers do - obviously *I* know TANSTAAFL).

If you've opted out, then you'd be able to entirely keep the fruits of your labor (income) without any taxation at all (except perhaps consumption-based taxes, like gas tax for roads, sales taxes, etc). if opting-out is allowed on a local level (making it so you can't get 'free' local services such as fire, police, public education, etc), then one would also be able to opt out of property taxes. Of course, we could talk about how we would use that 'new money' that's not being taxed away (for saving, investments, retirement planning, starting a business, consumption, etc), but I don't want to get off the main point - and we all here pretty much already know how it would benefit us and the economy in numerous ways. The savings in opportunity costs would be quite significant, but I digress.

What I want to get at is what we would do in such a situation when we would (if ever, or rarely) need to utilize such existant government services. Of course, I'd think we should still be able to use them (this would probably be the case in the beginning), but we could just be billed for them when utilized at whatever rates the State deems are needed to pay for those services. Of course, if we are to be billed if/when we would need to use such services - while some people could of course pay for them when they get the bill, I'd be willing to bet that after a short enough period of time, insurance agencies start to expand into covering such potential risks and the subsequent bills as needing the fire department, police, courts, etc. This would probably take place, simply because it'd be very profitable to do so.

Over time, as more and more government services are covered by private insurance and/or the actual services themselves begin to be partially or completely replaced by private ones (especially since the different levels of government would probably charge whatever they wanted, likely excessively high prices as monopolies are used to, which would attract capital and investment for private competitors to form due to potentially high profits), more and more people would naturally wonder why they are paying sales taxes at all - and such things may eventually be called to also be abolished in the face of critical mass, as they won't be needed to fund these services any longer.

Of course, if you live in places like New Hampshire (no State Sales tax, income tax, capital gains tax, though it does have a high property tax), and some other states, with no sales taxes - then you'd be paying potentially *zero* taxes, whatsoever. Such states could much more quickly become *extremely* libertarian. More and more people may be inclined to move to such places.

Depending on your individual risk based on lifestyle, location/geography, job, and whatever other factors needed to calculate - our premiums would be higher or lower. The cost of such insurance premiums would basically be replacing the much more expensive tax rates we'd be paying - based on measurements of actual risks. Not only that, but with competing insurance agencies for us as customers, rates would be pushed as low as possible, and with people bearing the actual individual cost based on their lifestyles, location - etc, they would adjust their lifestyles and such factors accordingly (move to safer areas, etc) in order to lower their premiums to lower their ultimate costs of living through a minimization of exposure to such risks, or be willing to pay the higher premium.

Over more time, as insurance companies note that certain areas, police depts, fire depts, etc are more costly than others, and people wanting to minimize their costs - eventually more private police/security, fire depts, etc would pop up as private businesses to compete with the public versions (especially in towns where everyone has decided to 'opt-out', almost like libertarian enclaves). As these companies compete and become more effective at their jobs, and lower prices - insurance rates would also naturally come down, since the costs of the same level of risks would drop.

Mix this with the fact that as more people are opting-out, in order to maintain public services for those who use them - they would need to pay higher and higher tax rates for their continued (and inefficient) existence. Of course, while tax rates may not rise exponentially since less people are using them, thus pushing costs down a little - due to the nature of public entities, with less people paying into their existence - less and less people would need to bear the brunt of their costs, causing their tax rates to rise, thus making the option of 'opting-out' even more appealing and incentivizing.

Eventually, 'opting-out' itself could hit critical mass (with most people if not everyone seeing the much greater benefits of opting out and going full-on or mostly 'private'), or the public entities would require such absurd taxation in order to fund poor service in comparison to the much cheaper and more effective opted-out/private ones, that the public services would collapse due to insolvency and unsustainability, allowing private insurance and PDA's to easily fill the void left behind in their wake.

While all of this is going on - perhaps it would be more palatable to the masses to allow businesses to 'opt-out' of regulations, only as long as the businesses have to state in their advertising and on their property that they have 'opted-out' of regulations (minimum wage, public unemployment, state mandates, etc). This could be a road to eventual abolition of such regulations. Roles that the State filled that people demanded would probably be fulfilled through employer/employee contract, and private solutions in place of the older public solutions ('regulation', break times, unemployment benefits, etc).

Could the legal ability to 'opt-out' be perhaps the best, surest, quickest, and least-offensive way (to those who value and support such government agencies/services) to grow a libertarian society/economy within the context of the State, in order to eventually achieve a maximally libertarian / anarcho-capitalist society as perceived by Rothbard (et al) via private insurance agencies, defense agencies, etc?

I think if enough people support it, through political pressures, it is a possibility, though admittedly a remote one. It may not be politically viable right now - but in the future, it may be... and I think it should remain in people's heads as a way to convince people to allow others to opt out if they wish as a way to 'shut up them darn kooky libertarians'. Liberals and conservatives I'm sure would be all for it - and of course libertarians (for obvious reasons). The vast majority of people I've talked to (regardless of their political / ideological affiliation) would actually support allowing people to 'opt-out', on purely moral grounds, as well as due simply to frustration with me and other libertarians.

They of course think it would 'teach us a lesson' - and get people to appreciate the State more and for us to 'opt back in' eventually.

Naturally, I think otherwise.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Even Anarchists Should Vote

Noted and highly influential individualist anarchists Lysander Spooner and Murray Rothbard weep at the 'logic' of the non-voting anarchist population...

"In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having ever been asked, a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practise this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defence, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself." -- Lysander Spooner, 'No Treason'
"Many anarchist libertarians claim it immoral to vote or to engage in political action--the argument being that by participating in this way in State activity, the libertarian places his moral imprimatur upon the State apparatus itself. But a moral decision must be a free decision, and the State has placed individuals in society in an unfree environment, in a general matrix of coercion. As Lysander Spooner pointed out, in an environment of State coercion, voting does not imply voluntary consent." -- Murray Rothbard, 'Ethics of Liberty'
"I'm interested to talk about that. This is the classical anarchist position, there is no doubt about that. The classical anarchist position is that nobody should vote, because if you vote you are participating in a state apparatus. Or if you do vote you should write in your own name, I don't think that there is anything wrong with this tactic in the sense that if there really were a nationwide movement – if five million people, let's say, pledged not to vote. I think it would be very useful. On the other hand, I don't think voting is a real problem. I don't think it's immoral to vote, in contrast to the anti-voting people. 
Lysander Spooner, the patron saint of individualist anarchism, had a very effective attack on this idea. The thing is, if you really believe that by voting you are giving your sanction to the state, then you see you are really adopting the democratic theorist's position. You would be adopting the position of the democratic enemy, so to speak, who says that the state is really voluntary because the masses are supporting it by participating in elections. In other words, you're really the other side of the coin of supporting the policy of democracy – that the public is really behind it and that it is all voluntary. And so the anti-voting people are really saying the same thing.
I don't think this is true, because as Spooner said, people are being placed in a coercive position. They are surrounded by a coercive system; they are surrounded by the state. The state, however, allows you a limited choice – there's no question about the fact that the choice is limited. Since you are in this coercive situation, there is no reason why you shouldn't try to make use of it if you think it will make a difference to your liberty or possessions. So by voting you can't say that this is a moral choice, a fully voluntary choice, on the part of the public. It's not a fully voluntary situation. It's a situation where you are surrounded by the whole state which you can't vote out of existence. For example, we can't vote the Presidency out of existence – unfortunately, it would be great if we could – but since we can't why not make use of the vote if there is a difference at all between the two people. And it is almost inevitable that there will be a difference, incidentally, because just praxeologically or in a natural law sense, every two persons or every two groups of people will be slightly different, at least. So in that case why not make use of it. I don't see that it's immoral to participate in the election provided that you go into it with your eyes open – provided that you don't think that either Nixon or Muskie is the greatest libertarian since Richard Cobden! – which many people, of course, talk themselves into before they go out and vote. 
The second part of my answer is that I don't think that voting is really the question. I really don't care about whether people vote or not. To me the important thing is, who do you support. Who do you hope will win the election? You can be a non-voter and say "I don't want to sanction the state" and not vote, but on election night who do you hope the rest of the voters, the rest of the suckers out there who are voting, who do you hope they'll elect. And it's important, because I think that there is a difference. The Presidency, unfortunately, is of extreme importance. It will be running or directing our lives greatly for four years. So, I see no reason why we shouldn't endorse, or support, or attack one candidate more than the other candidate. I really don't agree at all with the non-voting position in that sense, because the non-voter is not only saying we shouldn't vote: he is also saying that we shouldn't endorse anybody. Will Robert LeFevre, one of the spokesmen of the non-voting approach, will he deep in his heart on election night have any kind of preference at all as the votes come in. Will he cheer slightly or groan more as whoever wins? I don't see how anybody could fail to have a preference, because it will affect all of us." -- Murray Rothbard, 

Source, here.

You will be oppressed by a president and his government. His vision of morality will be imposed on you, whether you like it or not, regardless of your ideology. You might as well support someone who will try his darndest (with the limited extent of his power) to remove as much oppression and maximize as much individual liberty in your lives as possible.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Anarchy, Government, and the State

While the anarcho-capitalist and voluntaryist movement has certainly been growing *significantly* (at the extreme disdain of 'left' anarchists) - I don't think we make certain *very* important distinctions clear enough.

I believe part of why many others have trouble grasping anarchy is because they are (including many anarchists, even) conflating 'the State', with 'government' or 'governance'. There is an essence of 'talking past eachother'.

Understand, all States are governments, but not all government (or 'governance') requires the State.

In an anarcho-capitalist (which is a tautology supported by theory as well as historical evidence) society, there would still be government. Government by your peers through social and commercial ostracism and acceptance. Government of social behavior, civility, disputes and justice by competing courts, defense/security agencies to ensure protection, and the recognition / respect of property rights. Government of businesses and the market through the free market, the price signal, profit & loss, competition, customer satisfaction, commercial ostracism (credit ratings, boycotting, reputation, etc), and supply and demand. Government of risk and socialization of that risk, through insurance agencies. Self-government through individuals' pursuit of their *rational* self-interest, having themselves to bear the responsibility of their actions through the decentralized accountability systems arising out of the market to maintain it.

I could go on. Anarchism does not necessarily mean 'no government' so much as it means 'no State' or (etymologically speaking) 'without ruler'. In a purely capitalist, free market society - you have no coercive authority over you. All commercial and social relationships are voluntary. Your employer is not your ruler (despite what so many 'left' anarchists like to claim), since you can leave your employer at any time and choose another employer who pays and/or treats you better, or choose to work for yourself, even.

Your typical 'left' anarchist heads are exploding at these words right now - but anarcho-capitalism is the only realistic, moral, practical and workable way to abolish the State and still not just maintain civilization... but maximize prosperity, liberty and justice, above and beyond what any flavor of the State could ever come close to deliver.

For many anarchists, like many of us here - the conflation of 'government' and 'the State' is probably more semantic than anything. For many non-anarchists - it's not semantic so much as different perceptions leading to problems in understanding - the issue of 'talking past eachother'.

To the extent that I understand the real concept of 'no government' - then I completely agree with the critics in criticizing their perception of anarchy - because it's true... with a complete rejection of all forms of 'government' in how I described it above - there certainly *would* be chaos and misery.

The rejection of universally preferable behavior (such as engaging in theft, murder, rape, etc). The rejection of the price signal and laws of supply and demand. The rejection of any and all forms of voluntary authority as well as the rejection of all self-government, in that individuals reject acting in their own*rational* self-interest in the name of holding no restraint and acting purely on whim and animalistic tendency (while being able to force others to bear the cost) would certainly result in chaos and misery for many people.

Anarcho-capitalists do not advocate rejection of these things, nor do they think they would be rejected absent the State. Rather - justice, moral behavior, and prosperity would be maximized.

I think anarcho-capitalists and voluntaryists could do a *much* better job of communicating this. Then people would not only be not talking past eachother anymore - but others may be much more open to discussing such ideas.

This post is a COPYPASTA that was originally published under my old pseudonym, 'Sentient Void', at the Ron Paul Forums Blog, on 06-11-2011.