Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
Here's the RSS feed or subscribe to our FFF Email Update to receive Hornberger’s Blog daily.

Hornberger’s Blog, June 2010

by

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Silence of the Gun-Control Crowd

While the gun-control crowd is going bananas over the fact that state and local governments are not constitutionally permitted to ban private ownership of handguns, they are remaining mute over a killing that took place in an apartment in Forestville, Maryland, on the same day that the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Chicago gun-ban case.

According to the Washington Post, a maintenance man shot and killed an intruder in his apartment. The maintenance man, who remains unidentified, had confronted the intruder as he was trying to force a woman into her apartment. The intruder forced the maintenance man into the maintenance man’s apartment, where the shoot-out occurred. The intruder shot at the maintenance man but missed, and the maintenance man, who was able to reach his gun, returned fire and shot the intruder, who later died at the hospital.

If they weren’t remaining mute about this shooting, what would the gun control crowd say about this situation? One hint of what they might say appears in theWashington Post’s article: “Law enforcement sources said the shooting appeared to be justified — a classic case of an armed homeowner shooting an intruder. It remains unclear, however, how the maintenance man obtained his gun or whether he possessed it legally. Investigators said they were still exploring that.”

In other words, if it turns out that the maintenance man happens to live in an area where there is a state-imposed or locally imposed gun ban, such as that which existed in Chicago, Washington, D.C., or New York City, you can bet your 9mm that the gun control crowd will be demanding that the maintenance man be criminally prosecuted and given the highest possible jail sentence for illegally possessing a handgun, just as they did with Plaxico Burress, the former New York Giants wide receiver who is serving two years in jail for illegally possessing a handgun in New York City.

What would have happened if that maintenance man had been living in a legally mandated gun-free apartment? It is a virtual certainly that he would dead. Moreover, the woman who the intruder was accosting would also most likely be dead, after probably being raped. Most likely, the intruder would have escaped, as did his two accomplices.

Of course, the gun-control crowd would say, “Not so! A gun control law would have meant that the intruder wouldn’t be armed with a gun.”

Well, except for one thing: By carrying a gun into that apartment complex the intruder was violating the state of Maryland’s gun-control laws!

Whoops!

And that right there reflects the fatal flaw in the gun-control crowd’s position. They have somehow come to convince themselves that once a gun ban goes into effect, rapists, burglars, robbers, and murderers are going to obey it.

Have you ever heard anything more ridiculous than that?

As we have seen time and time again, rapists, burglars, robbers, and murderers don’t give a hoot for gun bans. In fact, they love them because it makes their dirty deeds safer for them. They know that most peaceful, law-abiding people aren’t going to risk a felony conviction and a long jail sentence for unlawful possession of a handgun and so they feel safe in breaking into homes and raping and killing the disarmed residents.

Who can doubt that the residents of that Forestville apartment complex, including those who don’t have guns, are now a lot safer, given that the following message has been sent out to robbers, murderers, rapists, and burglars: “This apartment complex is not a gun-free zone. There are people who live here who have guns and who are fully prepared and able to use them to defend themselves and their fellow residents.”

As a matter of fact, I’m willing to bet that that intruder’s two accomplices who got away aren’t likely to ever return to the place where their buddy just got shot and killed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Victory for Gun Rights and Freedom

When it comes to gun rights and gun control, liberals are so predictable. Condemning the Supreme Court’s decision in the Chicago gun case that applied the Second Amendment to the states, the New York Times editorialized, “Mayors and state lawmakers will have to use all of that room and keep adopting the most restrictive possible gun laws — to protect the lives of Americans and aid the work of law enforcement officials.”

What is the Times’ justification for taking such an extreme position? The Timesstates: “The court’s members ignored the present-day reality of Chicago, where 258 public school students were shot last school year — 32 fatally.”

What? Say again?

What the Times claims about gun deaths in Chicago last year has got to be absolutely and totally false! Why is that so? Because they have gun control in Chicago! A total ban on handguns! Doesn’t the Times know that? Doesn’t it know that that was what the Supreme Court case was all about — the constitutionality of Chicago’s total ban on handguns within the city?

Therefore, the obvious question arises: How can the Times claim that there were 258 people shot in Chicago when there is gun control in Chicago? Doesn’t that suggest something important? As in, gun control doesn’t work! If a gun ban worked, there wouldn’t have been any people shot by guns in Chicago.

Doh!

And that is the blind spot that statists have about gun control. In their antipathy for guns, they will not permit themselves to see that gun control doesn’t work — it doesn’t accomplish what they want to accomplish — i.e., no more gun deaths.

Instead — and here is the critical point — gun control disarms peaceful and law-abiding people, thereby precluding them from defending themselves against violent people who don’t give a hoot about obeying gun-control laws. Indeed, ask yourself: How many of those 32 people who were killed in Chicago by guns last year would be alive today had they been free to defend themselves?

In other words, a robber or murderer isn’t going to say to himself, “Oh, my gosh! I can’t use a gun to commit my robbery, rape, or murder in Chicago because that would be against the law. I guess I’ll just have to settle for a knife.”

Instead, what he says to himself is: “What better place to commit my robbery, rape, or murder than Chicago, where idiotic government officials have ensured that my victims can’t use guns to defend themselves.”

The Supreme Court’s decision was actually a no brainer, one that exposes the hypocrisy of liberals.

Originally, the Bill of Rights operated only as a restriction against federal, not state, infringement of the vital rights enumerated in the first eight amendments.

But the 14th Amendment changed that. Taking the 5th Amendment’s due process language, the 14th Amendment prohibited the states from denying a person of life, liberty, and property without due process of law. For more than a century, the Court has taken most of the restrictions in the Bill of Rights and applied them to the states, taking the position that the rights and liberties enumerated therein were fundamental to a free society and, therefore, should be entitled to protection from state infringement, by virtue of the 14th Amendment.

Liberals have never had any problems with the incorporation doctrine, as it came to be known. That was because liberals understood that such rights and liberties as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to counsel, the right to a jury trial in criminal cases, and so forth were so vitally important to a free society that it was correct that the protections of such rights and guarantees be applied against the states.

But it is also obvious that the right to keep and bear arms is as fundamental a right as all the others in the Bill of Rights. After all, as the second amendment, it comes right near the top of the list.

Unfortunately, however, liberals have claimed — and are still claiming — quite falsely, that our American ancestors favored gun rights only for government officials, including the National Guard. They say that that’s what they meant by the word “militia” in the Second Amendment.

Their claim is ridiculous and false. There was no National Guard when the Second Amendment was crafted. When our ancestors referred to the “militia,” they were referring to the people in the private sector who owned guns — i.e., citizen soldiers. Keep in mind that our American ancestors didn’t even support a standing army.

Our ancestors believed that freedom entails the right to own whatever you want, including guns. They recognized that the right to keep and bear arms was a fundamental part of a free society, enabling people to protect themselves from robbers, rapists, and murderers in both the private and government sectors.

This is where statists go so wrong. They honestly believe that robbers and murderers will obey gun-control laws, notwithstanding the conclusive evidence to the contrary, as we see, once again, in the New York Times editorial that cites gun deaths in a city that has a gun ban.

But they also block out of their minds the possibility that government can become tyrannical. If that happens, there is nothing a disarmed citizenry can do about it except put up with the round-ups, torture, rapes of wives and daughters, and executions. With widespread guns among the citizenry, there is another option, one that federal Judge Alex Kozinski so eloquently called a “doomsday provision” — one that people hope they never have to use but nonetheless have as a last recourse against tyranny. Gun ownership is an insurance policy, one that guarantees the ability of the citizenry to protect themselves and others from tyranny or even to alter or abolish tyrannical government through force of arms.

Not surprisingly, statists are depressed and despondent over the Supreme Court’s decions, but this is a time for celebration by advocates of liberty.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another Minimum-Wage Challenge for the Daily Kos and Alternet

In my April 2010 article “Why Do Daily Kos and Alternet Support a Racist Program?” I pointed out that liberals, including those at Daily Kos and Alternet, support minimum-wage laws notwithstanding the fact that such laws have horribly adverse consequences for the poor, especially black teenagers. As I pointed out in that article, the minimum wage locks out of the labor market those people whose labor is valued at less than the mandated minimum, a phenomenon with disproportionately racial consequences.

On May 3, I wrote a follow-up piece entitled “Free Teenagers: Repeal the Minimum Wage,” where I quoted a New York Times editorial that stated “The problem of joblessness is far more severe in poor, minority communities.”

Given liberals’ steadfast insistence that they love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged, and their self-proclaimed sympathy for racial minorities, the obvious question arises: Why do liberals continue supporting a government program whose consequences are so horribly adverse for the poor, especially blacks?

The best explanation I can come up with is economic ignorance. When it comes to understanding basic economics, liberals simply have a blind spot. They honestly believe that welfare-state laws can repeal the natural laws of supply and demand and bring wealth and prosperity to the poor. But in their ignorance, they end up harming the very people they purport to want to help.

Here is another minimum-wage challenge for the liberals at Daily Kos and Alternet and all other liberals:

In an article about American Samoa in the June 25, 2010, issue of the New York Times, the reporter, Sarah Wheaton, states the following: “The 2007 federal law increasing the minimum wage prompted the Chicken of the Sea Samoa fish cannery to close, eliminating more than 2,000 jobs.”

In a May 25, 2010, article entitled Minimum Wage Laws Don’t Fight PovertyGeorge Mason University economics professor Walter Williams stated:

The 2007 legislation mandated 50 cents annual increases in Samoan minimum wages until it reached the U.S. mainland’s hourly minimum of $7.25. In response, Chicken of the Sea International moved its operation from Samoa to a highly automated cannery plant in Lyons, Ga. That resulted in roughly 2,000 jobs lost in Samoa and a gain of 200 jobs in Georgia. Prior to minimum wage increases, Samoan wages were about $3.25 an hour. With the legislated increases, Samoa’s minimum wage is $5.25.

Now, I ask the liberals at Daily Kos and Alternet: Would you please explain to me and everyone else how the minimum wage benefited those 2,000 people in Samoa who lost their jobs at Chicken of the Sea because of the minimum wage? How are they better off than they were before the minimum wage law was enacted?

Undoubtedly, liberals will be tempted to quickly answer, “Because they’re no longer being exploited by capitalism!” But as Professor Williams pointedly asked, “Which is preferable for the Samoan worker — being employed at $3.25 an hour or being unemployed at $5.25?”

How about it, liberals? How about some articles, op-eds, editorials, commentaries, or blog posts answering Professor Williams’ pointed question. Tell us how those 2,000 poor people in Samoa have been helped by your beloved minimum-wage law. And while you’re at it, would you please explain why you continue supporting a government program whose adverse consequences have been shown to fall disportionately on racial minorities, to wit: American black teenagers.

Oh, one more thing: Liberals, please don’t spending any time telling us about your good intentions and how how much you love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged. Those 2,000 poor people in Samoa and those thousands of American black teenagers who are locked out of the labor market because of minimum wage laws don’t give a whit about your good intentions or about who you purportedly love. They just want to hear how your minimum wage law has supposedly made them better off.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Why Statists Hate Gold

Amidst the increasing calls among statists for increased federal spending, one can practically feel the deep, visceral hatred for gold arising within statists. The reason is that statists know that gold is a communications vehicle that tells people what government officials are doing to their money. That’s the last thing that statists want people to find out.

Practically everywhere you look, both the federal welfare state and the federal warfare state are in deep crisis.

For all practical purposes, such beloved welfare-state programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other welfare entitlement programs are busted, bankrupt. That is, there is no reserve fund to make the payments that need to be made to dole recipients. Instead, the federal government collects part of the money to make these payments in the form of taxes. But the problem is that the tax revenues are still insufficient to pay all the dole recipients, and the shortfall is enormous.

For example, imagine a person who earns an annual salary of $100,000 who is committed to paying annual expenses of $1,000,000 a year but who has no savings. Wouldn’t you say that he’s on the road to bankruptcy?

Aggravating the matter is the warfare state, which entails the massive and ever-growing expenditures for the military and the military-industrial complex. We’re not only talking about the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re also talking about the sprawling network of U.S. bases in more than 100 countries, U.S. troops in such places as Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America, and the hundreds of military bases here in the United States. As the Romans, British, and Soviets discovered, running an empire is expensive.

All that military expenditure is adding to the shortfall between what the feds are bringing in and what they’re spending. How are they paying for the difference? They’re borrowing the money, sending the federal government into deeper and deeper debt.

Think about that guy who has the $1,000,000 in annual payments to make who earns only $100,000 a year. Suppose he goes to the bank and borrows $900,000 every year to pay the difference. At some point, wouldn’t the bank say, “No more! We’re not lending you any more money and you need to pay us what you owe us”?

Meanwhile, the statists continue placing their hope in a “revitalization” of the economy, which they’re hoping that more federal spending will accomplish. The idea is that if they can get more people back to work, the IRS can then tax their incomes in order to fund these massive welfare-warfare state expenditures. If there are sufficient tax revenues coming in to cover all the expenditures, no part of the welfare-warfare dole will need to be cut. Happy days will be here again. Both the parasite and the host will be thriving once again.

But how can the government spend even more money when taxes and debt are already enormously high? The statists are calling on the federal government to simply print the money to cover the existing debt and the ongoing deficit. That’s where the Federal Reserve comes in. That’s been its job from the beginning — to accommodate deficit welfare-warfare state spending and ever-increasing debt by simply debasing and devaluing the currency through monetary expansion.

In actuality, inflation has long been just another way that governments historically have looted the people. By debasing the value of their income or savings through the printing of money, people become poorer. In principle, there’s no difference between paying a tax of 20 percent of your income and having the value of your income drop by 20 percent because of monetary debasement.

But the beauty of inflation, from the standpoint of statists, is that most people have no idea that the government is doing this to them. They see prices rising across the board on such things as groceries, gasoline, and cars and immediately conclude that the culprit is the greedy, profit-seeking businessman. Due to the complexity of Federal Reserve operations, Joe Six Pack has no idea that the rising prices are actually how a debased currency reflects itself.

Not so with gold, however. Unlike groceries, gasoline, and cars, people instinctively know that gold is different. When they see the price of gold soaring, they know that something isn’t right. They sense or hear from others that gold communicates what government officials are doing to people’s money.

That’s why government officials hate gold. They want to be able to spend to their heart’s content and print the money to do it without people realizing how they’re being looted in the process. That’s, in fact, why President Franklin Roosevelt nationalized gold and made it a felony offense for Americans to own it. He didn’t want Americans to see the spending, debt, and inflationary binge that the welfare-warfare state was bringing and would bring indefinitely into the future.

As federal spending and debt continue to soar under the Obama administration, count on the Federal Reserve to crank up the printing presses. And don’t be surprised if Obama, the man who now wields the omnipotent power to assassinate, torture, and jail Americans and to shake them down for money, follows in FDR’s footsteps when it comes to gold.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Let McChrystal Bring the Troops Home

We really shouldn’t let the furor over President Obama’s firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal cause us to lose focus on three important points regarding Afghanistan: The U.S. government should never have invaded and occupied the country in the first place, it should have exited the country years ago, and continuing the occupation for any period of time whatsoever is the height of immorality and folly.

Let’s keep in mind that the invader and occupier has had 9 years to accomplish whatever it wanted to accomplish. There have been no restraints whatsoever on the number of people who could be killed, maimed, jailed, tortured, or incarcerated to achieve such goals. And, in fact, countless Afghani people have been killed, jailed, tortured, and incarcerated for the past 9 years.

And for what?

U.S. officials tell us that it’s all for freedom and democracy for the Afghani people. That is not reality but instead sheer nonsense.

For one thing, the president of Afghanistan is nothing more than a U.S.-installed puppet dictator. He has not been elected president, as U.S. officials claim. An election that is fraudulent — that is, one in which the ballot boxes have been stuffed with fake ballots — is equivalent to no election at all. A fraudulent election is a nullity. It doesn’t count as an election.

Moreover, as everyone knows the Karzai regime is nothing more than a gang of crooked, corrupt gangsters and henchmen who are just lining their pockets and bank accounts with cash provided by U.S. taxpayers. That’s what U.S. troops are killing and dying for — to protect a crooked and corrupt regime remain in power simply because it is willing to do the bidding of the U.S. Empire.

Moreover, as the media has been reporting, U.S. officials are in the process of pouring vast amounts of cash into the hands of a Mafia-like protection racket, one in which Afghan warlords promise not to attack convoys carrying U.S. supplies if they are paid protection money. That’s the type of society that the U.S. invasion and 9 years of occupation have brought into existence. That’s what passes for a free and democratic society in the minds of U.S. officials.

Human Rights Watch recently issued a report detailing the problem of female genital mutilation in Afghanistan. It’s just part and parcel of the new, free, and democratic Afghanistan that 9 years of occupation have brought into existence.

Let’s also not forget the torture and indefinite incarcerations, which are have become permanent fixtures in Afghan society.

Interventionists keep hoping and praying for a miracle that will enable them to claim “victory” in Afghanistan. But they never tell us what “victory” is supposed to look like. In their minds, it undoubtedly means enough additional death and destruction that the Afghani people finally accept the inevitable — that they have been conquered by the U.S. Empire and must finally submit to the commands and orders of the U.S. military.

How likely is it that that is ever going to happen? Sure, there are the Quislings like Karzai and his crooked and corrupt cronies who go along with the occupier, just as there are Americans who would do the same if the United States were ever invaded and occupied. But there are enough ordinary Afghanis who are fully aware of their history — of how their ancestors are known for ousting foreign aggressors and occupiers from their land. My hunch is that there will always be more than enough Afghanis who believe it important, as a matter of national pride, to maintain the anti-empire tradition of their ancestors and who will continue to do whatever is necessary to oust their country of the latest empire to occupy it.

Interventionists love to tell us that the troops in Afghanistan (and Iraq) are protecting the rights and freedoms of the American people and are keeping us safe here at home. Actually, it’s the exact opposite. The death and destruction the troops are wreaking over there is what is producing the constant threat of terrorist retaliation against Americans, which in turn is providing the excuse for U.S. officials to infringe the fundamental rights and freedoms of the American people.

There is also the issue of financial bankruptcy that the U.S. government is facing. How can an empire that is broke afford to continue more years of very expensive occupation? Isn’t that the way the Soviet Empire came crashing down?

There is only one solution to all this inanity and folly. They’ve had 9 years to do whatever they hoped to do in Afghanistan. Their time is up. Enough is enough. We’ve seen enough death, destruction, torture, terrorist retaliation, and infringements on rights and freedoms to last a lifetime. It’s time to dismantle the U.S. military empire, bring all the troops home and discharge them, and restore a free society and a limited-government republic to our land. It’s time for American to experience peace, prosperity, and harmony for the rest of our lives.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Obama and Chavez, Birds of a Feather

In my June 21 blog post, “Barack Obama, Dictator,” I pointed out that President Obama exercised brute dictatorial powers in dictating to BP to hand over $20 billion of corporate money to federal officials, who plan on distributing the loot to victims of the BP oil spill.

Most everyone is familiar with the term “the rule of law.” Many people, however, don’t understand what it really means. They think that it means that people should obey the law.

But that’s not what the rule of law means. What it means is this: In a free society, people should never have to answer to the arbitrary dictates of government officials. That type of society is described as one based on the “rule of men.” It is what dictatorship is all about. In a society based on the rule of law, people have to answer only to well-defined and pre-existing laws that have been duly enacted by the legislature.

As the Nobel Prize winning libertarian economist Friedrich Hayek pointed out in his book The Constitution of Liberty, the rule of law is a necessary prerequisite for a free society.

At the time of the BP oil spill, the law provided that BP would be required to pay for all clean-up costs but was liable for a maximum of $75 million to private parties who suffered losses because of an oil spill.

Now, obviously that liability cap violated fundamental principles of responsibility. People should be fully responsible for all the damages they cause. The $75 million cap was likely enacted as part of the cozy corporatist relationship that has long existed between big corporations and federal politicians.

One thing is for sure: The liability cap almost certainly played an important role in BP’s safety precautions. After all, when a company thinks that its maximum liability for an oil spill will be only $75 million, as compared to the possibility of facing unlimited liability for an oil spill, that is going to cause the company to act differently when it comes to deciding how many precautions to take and how much money to spend on safety precautions.

In any event, the reasons the $75 million cap were enacted are irrelevant when it comes to BP’s liability. The rule of law entitles BP to the full protection of the law, no matter how distasteful the results.

The $75 liability cap did provide exceptions to the cap in cases where the company could be shown to be guilty of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

But a system based on the rule of law requires such issues to be litigated in a court of law. Victims of the disaster must go into court and convince a jury (or judge) by a preponderance of the evidence that BP was guilty of gross negligence or willful misconduct. They must also document with sworn testimony their financial losses.

That’s what the rule of law requires.

Instead, what Obama did was effectively declare: “Well, I don’t like the law and I wish it had never been enacted because it is a bad law. I’m going to decree that the law will not apply in this case. I am summoning BP executives to my office and dictating what BP must do, beginning with the delivery of a down payment of $20 billion dollars in corporate money to a political commission that I am appointing. That commission will dole out money to victims of the oil spill based on criteria that I deem appropriate.”

Notice that there is no judicial process concerning how the loot is going to be distributed. That is how things are handled in a society based on the rule of men, a society based on dictatorship. The dictator simply dictates and the person being dictated to is expected to submit and obey.

Obama’s dictate to BP is dictatorship in its purest and rawest form and constitutes an ominous destruction of the rule of law. It’s no different, in fact, from how Venezuela’s democratically elected socialist strongman, Hugo Chavez, is running his country.

I suppose Obama’s shakedown of BP shouldn’t surprise anyone. When a ruler wields the dictatorial power to torture, jail, and assassinate his own people, it only stands to reason that he’ll also claim the power to shake them down for money.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Case Closed on Terrorist Motivation

Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials, from President Bush on down, went on the offensive with respect to what, they claimed, had motivated the terrorists to kill Americans. It was all because the terrorists hated America for its “freedom and values.” The mantra was steadfastly adhered to for the 7 remaining years of the Bush administration, after which it was then embraced by President Obama and his cohorts.

Perhaps realizing the ridiculous nature of that claim, advocates of America’s pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy came up with a variation on this theme. They said that the terrorists were motivated by the Koran and the Muslim religion. They said that religious dictates required Muslims to conquer the world and kill all the Christians and Jews.

On the other hand, libertarians have been steadfastly maintaining, since even before 9/11, that the root of the problem lay in U.S. foreign policy. The reason that people in the Middle East were determined to commit terrorist acts against the United States was because the U.S. government had done — and was continuing to do — very bad things to people in the Middle East.

In other words, libertarians said, the terrorists were simply retaliating for what the U.S. government was doing over there. The only way to stop this threat of retaliation, we have consistently argued, is to stop the U.S. government’s pro-empire, pro-interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East.

To make our case, we pointed to the many bad things that the U.S. government has done in the Middle East, especially since the fall of the Soviet Union, when the U.S. military and the military-industrial complex were panicked that the American people were going to call for major reductions in military spending and taxes: the support of brutal dictators in the Middle East (including Saddam Hussein); the Persian Gulf intervention; the intentional destruction of Iraq’s water-and-sewage treatment plants; the brutal sanctions that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children; U.S. official Madeleine Albright’s statement that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it”; the stationing of U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands; the deadly no-fly zones over Iraq; the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan; and the unconditional financial and military aid provided the Israeli government.

Yesterday, the court hearing in which the man who recently tried to set off a bomb in Times Square pled guilty closes the case on terrorist motivation. Statements made by the Times Square terrorist, Faisal Shahzad, to the judge during that hearing confirm, once again, that libertarians have been right on motivation from the get-go and that the pro-empire, pro-intervention crowd has been wrong.

According to the New York Times, “Mr. Shahzad was unapologetic, characterizing himself as ‘part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people.’”

Nothing about hating America for its “freedom and values” in that statement, right? And nothing about the Koran requiring Muslims to conquer the world, right?

“I want to plead guilty, and I’m going to plead guilty 100 times over,” Shahzad said, “because until the hour the U.S. pulls out its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to the government, we will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that.”

It’s hard to get any clearer than that, isn’t it? Nothing about “freedom and values.” Nothing about killing for the Koran. It’s all about U.S. foreign policy, specifically in the Middle East.

When Federal Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum pointed out that the victims in Times Square would have been civilians, including children, Shahzad replied, “Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children; they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children. They kill everybody. It’s a war. And in war, they kill people. They’re killing all Muslims.”

Shahzad’s angry tirade is no different in principle from the angry tirade delivered in 1995 to another federal judge by 1993 World Trade Center terrorist bomber Ramzi Yousef at his sentencing hearing. Yousef angrily pointed directly to U.S. foreign policy to explain his motivation, including the killing of the innocent Iraqi children with the brutal sanctions against Iraq.

So, there you have it. Case closed on motivation. As Ron Paul succinctly put it in that famous exchange with Rudy Guliani during the 2008 Republican presidential debates, “They attacked us because we’ve been over there.”

Of course, this is not what those who glorify the federal government — those who take the position of “My government, never wrong in foreign affairs” — those who have elevated the federal government to the status of a god — those who believe that foreigners, especially people in the Middle East, have a moral duty to submit peacefully and enthusiastically to the violent will of the U.S. Empire — want anyone to hear. They want everyone to continue nodding robotically and loyally whenever they repeat their ludicrous mantras regarding America’s terrorist woes.

Is it all worth it? Is it worth the constant the threat of terrorist retaliation, the ever-increasing loss of civil liberties, the cowardly refusal of the Supreme Court to protect our rights and freedoms, and the ever-growing threat of financial bankruptcy? Is a pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy really worth all that? Is it that important to the American people that their government continue killing, torturing, maiming, humiliating, dominating, dictating, invading, occupying, sanctioning, and dominating the people of the Middle East?

Libertarians say: No, it’s not worth it and, more important, it’s all founded on immoral principles, principles that violate the laws of God. It’s time to dismantle America’s overseas military empire and end the U.S. government’s interventionist foreign policy. It’s the only way to restore morality, rationality, peace, prosperity, and harmony to our land. Otherwise, continue bracing yourself for the worst.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Barack Obama, Dictator

What better example of dictatorship than President Obama’s dictate to BP to deliver $20 billion to a special fund that will be distributed by some political appointee to victims of the BP oil disaster?

Either a nation is ruled by a dictator or it’s governed by the rule of law.

Under a dictatorship, the dictator simply dictates to people what they’re going to do and not do. Those who refuse to obey are punished severely.

Under the rule of law, if a company commits a tort against other people, the victims have the right to sue in a court of law for damages. That’s one of the reasons we have courts — to enable people to peacefully resolve their differences by following well-established judicial processes.

Someone might say, “But America is a representative democracy and, therefore, can’t be a dictatorship.”

Nonsense! It is entirely possible for a society to democratically elect a president who then exercises dictatorial powers.

Some might say, “But Obama only requested BP to do it, and BP could have chosen to reject his request.”

Anyone who believes that also believes in the tooth fairy. What would have happened if BP had refused to go along with the president’s dictate? Just ask Joe Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest Communications. He was the guy who, unlike his counterparts in other U.S. telecommunications companies, refused to go along with President Bush’s illegal NSA scheme to spy on the American people. Today, Nacchio is residing in a federal penitentiary, serving a 6-year sentence for violating insider trading laws.

Oh, U.S. officials would say, Nacchio wasn’t really punished for refusing to obey President Bush’s illegal dictate but instead for violating economic regulations.

But, you see, that’s the big benefit of the regulated economy. Whenever they want to get a businessman who hasn’t been cooperative, they know that there is always some criminal or civil regulation that they can go after him for. Every businessman knows that given thousands of regulations, there is no way a business can be in compliance with all of them during every minute of every day. The regulated economy provides a standby power to federal officials to ensure cooperation and submissiveness of those within the business community.

Here’s how the slimy bureaucrat Dr. Floyd Ferris put it in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged:

“Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against — then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

Leftists continue to declaim that the BP drilling disaster reflects a failure of free enterprise. It would be difficult to find a better example of nonsense than that. In fact, the disaster reflects a textbook case of the failure of public (i.e., government) ownership and government regulation.

After all, the federal government owns the seabed under which the well was drilled. As the owner, it had the right to set whatever terms it wanted when it leased the property to BP for drilling. Thus, this was a dream-come-true for proponents of government regulations. As the property owner, the federal government could have come up with a thousand-page book containing a million regulations, which it could have incorporated into its lease with BP.

So, obviously whatever regulations the federal government did incorporate into its lease failed to prevent the disaster.

And this is precisely what we libertarians have been saying from the get-go about government regulations. They cannot and do not protect people. They simply create the false appearance of protection, lulling people into a false sense of security until disaster strikes.

Of course, President Obama can’t bring himself to admit the fundamental failure of public (i.e., government) ownership and government regulations. Instead, he circumvents America’s judicial process and adds fuel to the Gulf fire by seizing the crisis to become a modern-day, democratically elected American dictator.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Were the Kennedys a Threat to National Security?

If someone had posited the notion that in 1961 the FBI might have monitoring President John Kennedy’s brother Ted on suspicion that the latter could be a threat to national security, statists would undoubtedly have cried, “Conspiracy theory! Conspiracy theory!”

One of the things that fascinate me about federal conspiracies is people’s reaction to them when they are confirmed. No one is ever surprised. It’s like no big deal to them.

That seems to be the general reaction to the disclosure this week of previously secret FBI documents indicating that in the FBI was monitoring Teddy Kennedy and, specifically, his contacts with communist/socialist leftists on a trip to Latin America in 1961, two years before JFK was assassinated.

Imagine that: The brother of the president of the United States is secretly being monitored by FBI agents who obviously think that something nefarious might be taking place between Ted Kennedy and communists/socialists in Latin America.

If that doesn’t reflect the paranoia that many officials in the federal government had during the Cold War, I don’t know what does.

The documents reflect that when Ted returned from his Latin America trip, he inadvertently left his diary in his airline seat. According to the New York Times, the airline turned the diary over to the FBI.

But how would that have happened? When the airline attendants found the diary, wouldn’t it have been natural for them to contact Ted Kennedy and tell him that they found his diary? Why would they call the FBI? It seems to me that it is likely that there was an FBI agent on that flight following Kennedy, and when he saw the diary either retrieved it or ordered the airline attendants to give it to him. According to the Times, “Nearly five years later, a bureau official referred to the notebook, writing, ‘a copy of the notebook and related material has been retained in this office since that time.’”

All this is especially interesting to me because of my 3-part series, “The CIA and the Assassination of John Kennedy,” which was published in the February, March, and April 2010 issue of FFF’s monthly journal Freedom Daily. (Click here to subscribe: $25 per year for print, $15 per year for email version.)

As I pointed out in that series, the CIA should have been made a target of a special and independent investigation into the assassination of John Kennedy. If officials of the CIA did, in fact, conspire to assassinate Kennedy, it would have been impossible for a political investigatory body, such as the Warren Commission, to have broken through such a conspiracy, especially given that the former head of the CIA who Kennedy had fired, was serving on the Warren Commission. Only a fierce, independent criminal prosecutor with grand-jury subpoena powers, backed by a fearless independent judge willing to enforce such subpoenas, could have pierced the stone wall that such a conspiracy would have constructed.

Of course, this isn’t to say that the CIA did in fact participate in the assassination of John Kennedy. It’s only to say that if the CIA did participate in the assassination, the only way that could ever have been discovered is through the aggressive targeting of the CIA as a target of interest by an independent and fearless criminal prosecutor.

Why should the CIA have been named a target of interest in the Kennedy assassination? As I pointed out in my article, the CIA was fully competent to pull off such a difficult feat. Among its primary missions was assassination and regime change, both of which it had already engaged in. In fact, it is undisputed that prior to the Kennedy assassination the CIA had conspired with the Mafia to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro and, thus, was fully competent to turn such a conspiracy inward.

What about the question of motive? After the Bay of Pigs disaster, there was a bureaucratic war between JFK and the CIA. The CIA was angry and bitter that Kennedy had betrayed the agency and America by refusing to send air support during the Bay of Pigs invasion. For his part, Kennedy felt he had been set up and misled by the CIA. Not only did he fire the head of the CIA and his chief deputy, Kennedy also vowed to tear the CIA into a thousand pieces.

And then there is the issue of national security. One of the finest books that has ever been written on the Kennedy assassination is JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James W. Douglass, which I highly recommend. (See this review of the book by Oliver Stone or listen to thispodcast interview of Douglass by Lew Rockwell.)

Douglass sets forth in careful detail the circumstantial evidence establishing how the CIA came to view John Kennedy as a threat to national security, especially after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In the eyes of the CIA, not only had Kennedy betrayed his country at the Bay of Pigs, which resulted in the deaths and capture of CIA operatives and anti-Castro Cubans, he also had failed to show sufficient toughness against the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis, even to the point of secretly agreeing to withdraw U.S. nuclear missiles from Turkey.

Even worse, Kennedy then began secretly reaching out to Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev about ending the Cold War and to Castro about establishing better relations with Cuba. Kennedy also talked to close aids about withdrawing all U.S. forces from Vietnam after the 1964 election.

All of this could easily have been construed by paranoid military and CIA officials as effectively surrendering America to communist conquest. Kennedy’s sexual escapades, especially with Mafia girlfriends, could only have exacerbated the CIA’s concerns about national security. In fact, the recently disclosed documents reflect that some time after the JFK assassination the Mafia (the CIA’s partner) tried to destroy Robert and Ted Kennedy by disclosing secret sex parties in which they (along with JFK) allegedly participated.)

The interesting issue, of course, is this: If the CIA did conclude that President Kennedy constituted a dangerous threat to national security, what would the CIA do? Would it permit America to fall to the communists or would it employ its assassination and regime-change talents internally to save America from the communists?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Drones in America

Yesterday, I appeared on the Glenn Beck show, which was being guest-hosted by Judge Andrew Napolitano, to discuss the possible use of drones here in the United States. The idea is being proposed as just another way to keep Americans safe.

Is safety so important that people must accept whatever controls that government is able to place on them? Shouldn’t there be a limit, one in which people say: “I don’t care if I’m unsafe as long as I’m free, and I’m not willing surrender my freedom or my privacy for any amount of safety?”

The use of the drones is being justified under three different wars that the U.S. government is waging: the war on drugs, the war on immigrants, and the war on terrorism. Of course, the term “war” is just a figure of speech denoting criminal laws that the government is brutally enforcing.

As I pointed out on the Beck show, the call for drone use in the United States is a continuation of the militarization of America and another invasion of the privacy of the American people. Just add it to the Ninja-style SWAT teams that are busting down people’s doors in desperate search of wrongful substances they’re ingesting in the privacy of their own homes, scaring families to death and killing family pets in the process. Add it to all those cameras on street corners and to the helicopters that peer into people’s back yards to see what they’re doing and growing.

As I rhetorically asked on the Beck show, why not simply place government cameras in everyone’s home and cars? Wouldn’t that help keep Americans safe?

The drones would be just one more step in the direction of total government control and monitoring described so well in Orwell’s “1984.”

Stopping these types of ever-increasing infringements on freedom and privacy is important, but it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. That root is the three wars that are used to justify the infringements: the war on drugs, the war on immigrants, and the war on terrorism. As long as the government is waging these three wars, there will always be chaos, disorder, and crises that will then be used as the excuse for the infringements on freedom and privacy.

No one can deny that the 35-year-old war on drugs is a failure, and a costly one at that. Just look at Mexico, where hundreds of people are being killed every week. The war on drugs should be ended by simply legalizing drugs. There is no other solution to the chaos, disorder, death, and destruction. Ending the drug war would not only help restore peace and harmony to society, it would also remove the primary excuse that police have for harassing people, especially blacks and Hispanics, for unreasonable searches and seizures, and for invasions of people’s privacy.

It’s really no different with the war on immigrants. The war has been waged for decades, producing nothing but disorder, death, destruction, chaos, and crisis. Yet, the statists continue to convince themselves that there is some magic reform that will finally succeed. They are wrong. No immigration reform will work. They are all doomed to fail, just as every single reform has failed for the last several decades. The only thing that works is freedom and free markets, which means leaving people free to cross back and forth over borders.

The war on terrorism is rooted in the U.S. government’s pro-empire, pro-intervention policies in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Middle East. Once the U.S. Empire withdraws from that part of the world, the terrorist threat against America dissipates. The reason foreigners are so hell-bent on wreaking retaliation against the United States is because the U.S. government is over there doing bad things to people.

So, stopping or slowing the trend toward “1984” America is important and necessary, but inevitably the disorder and crises produced by the war on drugs, war on immigrants, and war on terrorism will enable the statists to succeed in moving our country further in the direction of Orwell’s “1984.” That’s why it’s vitally important that those who wish to restore freedom, free markets, and a limited-government republic to our land continue doing their best to pull the rug out from underneath the statists by ending, not reforming, the war on drugs, twar on immigrants, and war on terrorism.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why Should States Be Funding Movies?

A good example of what passes for debate in this country occurred this week in a New York Times article entitled “State Backing Films Says Cannibal Is Deal-Breaker” by a reporter named Michael Cieply.

The article is about state government subsidies for movies produced in the state. Controversy recently erupted in Michigan because the state denied a subsidy for a horror movie about cannibalism. The state’s rationale was that the movie would be unlikely to encourage tourism for Michigan. The article pointed out other states that are faced with the same issue, including Texas, where the upcoming movie “Machete” is being filmed.

In the article, the reporter presents “both” sides of the debate. Liberals are concerned about “censorship.” Conservatives are concerned about family values.

So, there you have it: a classic ideological battle between the left and the right. One can almost imagine a mainstream television talk-show host bringing together a liberal and a conservative to present their opposing sides on this important issue: What criteria should be used to determine which movies receive a government subsidy?

Do you see the problem though? Do you see what has been omitted from this picture? Can you see why such “debates” are nothing but sheer nonsense? Do you see why they are always so boring? Do you see why there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between a liberal and a conservative?

Notice something important about this controversy: No one questions whether the state should be subsidizing movies or, for that matter, any of the arts. It’s just a given. It’s a standard statist mindset.

That is, both liberals and conservatives believe that the state should be forcibly taking money from people through taxation in order to give it to other people, e.g., movie producers. The only “debate” is over the terms under which the subsidy is going to be granted. Big deal!

This is where libertarians come into the picture, but of course you’d never know that a libertarian perspective even existed after reading the New York Timesarticle. Libertarians say: People should be free to keep their own money and decide for themselves what to do with it. If they wish to invest in a movie or make a donation to help bring it into existence, that’s their right since it’s their money. But the state has no moral right to forcibly take money from people in order to provide a dole for other people, including movie producers.

Why didn’t the Times’ reporter include a quote from a libertarian in Michigan or Texas that would have declared “The state shouldn’t be providing a dole to any movie producer”? After all, there are plenty of libertarians in those two states.

Undoubtedly the answer is because the reporter considers the libertarian perspective to be “extreme” or “out of the mainstream” or “unreasonable” or “radical” or “not respectable” or “not credible” or “irrelevant.” So, Americans who read this type of article remain mired in the left-right statism that has come to characterize our age.

The movie-subsidy debate also serves to point out the rank hypocrisy of both liberal and conservative statists. Conservatives love to employ their old 1950s mantra “private property, free enterprise, and limited government” but, of course, are unable to reconcile the mantra with a socialist, redistributive, tax-and-dole scheme. Liberals loves to say they love the “poor, needy, and disadvantaged” but, of course, are unable to reconcile that mantra with forcing the poor, through taxation, to fund the production of movies, including ones intended to make a profit.

Notwithstanding the mainstream press that continues to pretend that liberal statism and conservative statism are people’s only choice, the fact is that libertarianism is on the rise. Increasing numbers of people are breaking free of the statism that has our country in its grip and recognizing the strong moral case for libertarianism. They are coming to the realization that libertarians are correct: People do have a moral right to keep everything they earn and to decide for themselves what to do with it, and the state operates immorally when if forcibly extracts money from people in order to provide a dole to movie producers or anyone else.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Different Perspectives on Child Labor at the State and Federal Level

Two stories in the news this week point to the difference in philosophy regarding child labor between state and federal officials.

In Iowa, a jury returned a verdict of acquittal in favor of Sholom Rubashkin, the former manager of Agriprocessors, a kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa. The state had indicted him for knowingly hiring people under 18 years of age to work in the slaughterhouse. That’s a crime in Iowa. The minors were Guatemalan illegal-immigrant teenagers who had provided false documents showing that they were 18.

The criminal charges arose in the context of an immigration raid that U.S. officials conducted against the slaughterhouse in 2008. Hundreds of illegal immigrants, mostly from Guatemala, were working in the business.

The feds secured a criminal indictment against Rubashkin for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. But perhaps sensing that they might have trouble securing a conviction on that charge, as the state has had with its prosecution for knowingly hiring children, the feds also indicted Rubashkin on bank fraud charges.

After securing a conviction on the bank-fraud charges, for which they’re seeking a 25-year jail sentence, they dismissed the immigration charges (which, you’ll recall, was the reason they raided the business in the first place).

Of course, one cannot help but wonder whether the feds, after sensing problems with an immigration prosecution, didn’t go searching for a “gotcha” based on a violation of some banking regulation. After all, as Ayn Rand pointed out inAtlas Shrugged, that’s the real “benefit” of the regulated economy — it provides the authorities with the power to indict and convict anyone they want anytime they want.

Soon after the immigration raid, Agriprocessors, which had been in operation since 1987, filed for bankruptcy. Just another federal immigration “success” story.

After all, here’s a company that has obviously been providing a product that satisfies consumers. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been able to stay in business for so long. Additionally, it has used its own money to enter into mutually beneficial economic relationships with people who have chosen to work there. The company is providing employment to hundreds of people, including the immigrants, who are desperately poor, and those people in management as well.

Along comes the federal government and interferes with all this mutually beneficial, free-market activity by engaging in conduct that ends up shutting down the entire operation. Hundreds of people are put out of work. Consumers are denied a product they like and, not surprisingly, prices of kosher beef go up.

But I digress. Back to the original point: the difference between the feds and Iowa state officials with respect to child labor. Undoubtedly, U.S. officials would condemn Iowa’s prosecution of Rubashkin for knowingly hiring children in his slaughterhouse.

How do we know that? Easy, by pointing to what the U.S. government is doing in Somalia. According to yesterday’s New York Times, the Somali government is using monies provided by the U.S. government to hire young boys to serve the government as soldiers. The boys, who are as young as 9, carry fully loaded Kalashnikov assault rifles and brutally enforce military edicts in the country.

The Times stated: “Officials also revealed that the United States government was helping pay their soldiers, an arrangement American officials confirmed, raising the possibility that the wages for some of these child combatants may have come from American taxpayers.”

Never mind that the Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits the use of soldiers younger than 15. Somalia and the United States are the only two countries in the world that have not ratified it.

I suppose U.S. officials could argue that the children working in that Iowa slaughterhouse were doing more dangerous work than those children that the U.S. government is paying to serve as well-armed soldiers in Somalia. My hunch is that a jury would spurn that argument too.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Napolitano Revolution Hits Television

Two stories in the news this week point to the difference in philosophy regarding child labor between state and federal officials.

In Iowa, a jury returned a verdict of acquittal in favor of Sholom Rubashkin, the former manager of Agriprocessors, a kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa. The state had indicted him for knowingly hiring people under 18 years of age to work in the slaughterhouse. That’s a crime in Iowa. The minors were Guatemalan illegal-immigrant teenagers who had provided false documents showing that they were 18.

The criminal charges arose in the context of an immigration raid that U.S. officials conducted against the slaughterhouse in 2008. Hundreds of illegal immigrants, mostly from Guatemala, were working in the business.

The feds secured a criminal indictment against Rubashkin for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. But perhaps sensing that they might have trouble securing a conviction on that charge, as the state has had with its prosecution for knowingly hiring children, the feds also indicted Rubashkin on bank fraud charges.

After securing a conviction on the bank-fraud charges, for which they’re seeking a 25-year jail sentence, they dismissed the immigration charges (which, you’ll recall, was the reason they raided the business in the first place).

Of course, one cannot help but wonder whether the feds, after sensing problems with an immigration prosecution, didn’t go searching for a “sgotcha”s based on a violation of some banking regulation. After all, as Ayn Rand pointed out inAtlas Shrugged, that’s the real “sbenefit”s of the regulated economy —s it provides the authorities with the power to indict and convict anyone they want anytime they want.

Soon after the immigration raid, Agriprocessors, which had been in operation since 1987, filed for bankruptcy. Just another federal immigration “success” story.

After all, here’s a company that has obviously been providing a product that satisfies consumers. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been able to stay in business for so long. Additionally, it has used its own money to enter into mutually beneficial economic relationships with people who have chosen to work there. The company is providing employment to hundreds of people, including the immigrants, who are desperately poor, and those people in management as well.

Along comes the federal government and interferes with all this mutually beneficial, free-market activity by engaging in conduct that ends up shutting down the entire operation. Hundreds of people are put out of work. Consumers are denied a product they like and, not surprisingly, prices of kosher beef go up.

But I digress. Back to the original point: the difference between the feds and Iowa state officials with respect to child labor. Undoubtedly, U.S. officials would condemn Iowa’s prosecution of Rubashkin for knowingly hiring children in his slaughterhouse.

How do we know that? Easy, by pointing to what the U.S. government is doing in Somalia. According to yesterday’New York Times, the Somali government is using monies provided by the U.S. government to hire young boys to serve the government as soldiers. The boys, who are as young as 9, carry fully loaded Kalashnikov assault rifles and brutally enforce military edicts in the country.

Never mind that the Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits the use of soldiers younger than 15. Somalia and the United States are the only two countries in the world that have not ratified it.

I suppose U.S. officials could argue that the children working in that Iowa slaughterhouse were doing more dangerous work than those children that the U.S. government is paying to serve as well-armed soldiers in Somalia. My hunch is that a jury would spurn that argument too.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What Bigger Slave than the One Who Thinks He’s Free?

Yesterday’s New York Times had an interesting article about North Korea that described how desperate life is in that socialist country.

The question, of course, is: Why are economic conditions so bad in North Korea?

The answer is: Because North Korea is a socialist country. That’s what socialism does to a country. It guarantees that people will be mired in poverty and destitution.

As I pointed out in my recent article “Why Don’t American Statists Move to North Korea?” this is the road that American statists have been leading America down for decades. The North Korean socialists have simply applied, fully and completely, the economic principles that American statists hold dear.

Obama and other American statists pump out their chests in pride over their nationalization of U.S. automobile companies and banks. They’re proud that the federal government owns and runs Amtrak. They’re happy that the federal government nationalized income with the federal income tax. They’re pleased that the federal government equalizes income by taxing the rich and giving the money to the poor. They can’t imagine life without the federal government owning and operating the Federal Reserve System. They hate excess profits, speculation, exploitation, and greed. They rail against free markets.

So why stop there? Why not go all the way and nationalize everything? Why not have just one employer in society — the government? Everyone would then have a guaranteed job. No more unemployment. Everyone equal. No more price gouging. No more middle men. No more speculators. No more private property. No more free markets.

Well, that’s precisely what North Korea did. It took the economic principles of American statists and applied them consistently and completely, carrying them to their logical conclusion.

That’s why the North Korean people are on the verge of starvation. They’ve discovered the hard way the cause of poverty.

What’s funny is that American statists, when faced with the North Korean economic situation, remain mute. They can’t blame the crisis on “deregulation,” as they do here in the United States. Why? Because everything is owned and operated by the government. And they can’t blame it on speculation and greed because, again, the government owns and operates everything.

The New York Times article points out that things are so desperate in North Korea that the government-owned companies lack the monies to pay their employees. So, the employees secretly and illegally pay their companies money to report on their books that the employee has worked that day knowing that the employee is actually at home to try to eke out a living. That’s how the state-owned companies are able to make a bit of money!

And how are people eking out a living? You guessed it! Markets! They’re going out selling and trading little things, anything to stay alive. Needless to say, what they’re doing is illegal. North Korean officials revile the free market as much as American statists do.

North Korean authorities recently committed a heinous monetary act, one that would have surely made U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the father of America’s modern-day welfare state, proud. They suddenly devalued the currency, which drastically reduced the value of people’s savings. One family’s life savings of $1,560 was suddenly reduced to $30.

You’ll recall that that was what Roosevelt did when he was foisting Social Security and the rest of the socialistic welfare state onto the American people. He not only devalued the U.S. dollar, he also forced the American people to deliver any gold they had accumulated in their life’s savings to federal authorities.

No doubt that it’s as illegal for North Koreans to own gold as it was when Franklin Roosevelt was president and for several decades after that. North Korean officials, just like U.S. officials, know that gold provides a way for people to protect themselves from the legalized plunder associated with inflation and devaluation.

Because of indoctrination, especially in government schools that North Koreans are forced to attend as children, the average North Korean no doubt considers himself a free person.

But doesn’t the same hold true for the average American, who also is forced to subject himself to a state-approved “education”? Doesn’t the average American honestly believe that the welfare-warfare society in which he lives provides him with freedom? Hasn’t his mind been molded into believing that government control and regulation are really just free-market “reforms”? Isn’t he convinced that the failure of free enterprise brought the Great Depression? Doesn’t he believe that life would be impossible without Social Security, Medicare, and other socialist programs? Doesn’t he believe that when U.S. troops are killing and dying overseas, they’re doing it in the protection of American rights and freedom and in the support of the U.S. Constitution? Doesn’t he live in constant fear that the terrorists are coming to get him and carry him away?

Goethe once observed that the best slave of all is the one who honestly thinks he’s free. His observation could easily apply to both North Koreans and Americans.

The good news is that a few North Koreans are breaking through the indoctrination and seeing reality as it is. The same holds true for many Americans. That would be us libertarians.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

American Statism and the Holocaust

Weighing in on the Helen Thomas controversy, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen made an interesting observation as to one of the reasons that post-World War II Jews looked to the establishment of Israel as a safe haven for Jews. Cohen stated, “For most of the DPs [displaced persons], America was also out of the question. The United States, in the grip of feverish anti-communism and already unreceptive to immigrants, maintained a tight quota.”

Unfortunately, Cohen is being a bit disingenuous. What he obviously is uncomfortable in pointing out is that it wasn’t just anti-communism and anti-immigration that motivated U.S. officials in their use of immigration controls to exclude Jews. A much more important factor was anti-Semitism within the U.S. government.

Why might Cohen be reluctant to point that out? One reason might be because the U.S. president during the Nazi years was none other than Franklin D. Roosevelt, who has long been portrayed by American liberals as the “great humanitarian.” Pointing out FDR’s use of immigration controls to prevent European Jews from escaping the Holocaust might cause people to begin wondering whether the establishment of the welfare state might have had to do with something other than Roosevelt’s purported love for the poor, needy, and disadvantaged. (Let’s not forget, after all, that Adolf Hitler himself, along with his socialist cohorts, embraced Social Security in Germany as much as Roosevelt and his statist cohorts did in the United States.)

Consider the infamous “voyage of the damned.” In 1939 a German liner named the SS St. Louis was taking approximately a thousand Jews out of Germany to Cuba. One passenger, Aaron Pozner, had just been released from Dachau, where he had been sent after Kristallnacht.

When the ship arrived in Cuba, Cuban officials refused to permit the passengers to disembark. The reason? Anti-Semitism. Cuban vessels surrounded the German liner to ensure that no Jew jumped ship in a desperate attempt to avoid having to return to Nazi Germany. Not surprisingly, the passengers became highly agitated over the prospect of being sent back to Germany. One of them, Max Loewe, even attempted suicide when it became apparent that a return to Germany was likely.

The liner then headed toward Miami. What do you think happened? Do you think the “great humanitarian,” President Franklin Roosevelt, announced that the SS St. Louis would, of course, be permitted to land at Miami Harbor and that the Jewish passengers would be permitted to disembark onto American shores? Isn’t that what you would have expected from a man who had established Social Security, which, liberals tell us, was motivated by his love for the poor, needy, and disadvantaged?

Well, that’s not what happened. Instead, U.S. officials, just like their Cuban counterparts, refused to let those Jewish refugees set foot on American soil. The reason? The refugees were Jews, and U.S. officials felt the same way about Jews as those Cuban officials did. And those U.S. officials, from Roosevelt down, knew full well the fate that awaited those Jewish refugees back in Germany.

Rejected by Cuban and U.S. officials, the SS St. Louis set sail for Germany. At the last minute, some European countries agreed to accept the Jewish refugees. Unfortunately, those who ended up on the Continent didn’t survive the Holocaust.

Was the voyage of the damned just an isolated incident? Alas, it was not. In his book While Six Million Died: A Chronicle of American Apathy, Arthur Morse points out that after the Nazis sent 25,000 innocent people to concentration camps after Kristallnacht, President Roosevelt was asked whether he would recommend a relaxation of immigration restrictions so that Jewish refugees from Germany could come to the United States. Roosevelt replied, “This is not in contemplation. We have the quota system.”

How convenient. Blame it on immigration controls, as if it wouldn’t have been possible to lift or even ignore the controls.

Of course, herein lies one of the fascinating aspects regarding the establishment of Israel: America’s tragic abandonment of open immigration in favor of government immigration control.

One of the principle reasons given for the establishment of Israel after World War II was that Jews needed a safe haven from future Holocausts. Yet, a safe haven for people all over the world was one of the principle reasons why our American ancestors founded our nation on a policy of open immigration.

Nineteenth-century Americans essentially sent the following message to the people of the world: If you are suffering tyranny, oppression, starvation, or whatever, we will not permit our government to send military forces to help you out. But if you are able and willing to escape your country, you should know that there will always be a place that you will be able to go, without fear of being repatriated to the country from which you fled.

In other words, what hope does a person suffering tyranny or oppression have if he knows that even if he escapes, any country he goes to will forcibly return him to his place of origin? What’s the point of escaping if you’re only going to be returned regardless of where you end up?

But if people know that there is at least one country that guarantees that they will not be repatriated, then there is hope. “If I can only get out and make it to America, I will be free to stay there.”

That’s one of the things that made America so different from all other nations in history. For some hundred years, it was a safe haven for Jews and everyone else around the world, including the type of people who might be described as the “wretched refuse” or “huddled masses” of a nation.

That’s why the French awarded the Statue of Liberty to America. Their gift was in recognition of the gift that the American people had given the people all over the world who were struggling to breathe free, a gift that our American ancestors rightfully felt was consistent with Judeo-Christian ethics regarding man’s relationship to man.

It all ended when America abandoned its open-immigration tradition in favor of immigration controls (and an interventionist foreign policy in which the U.S. government invades countries and kills people in the name of bringing them freedom and democracy). Once government was given the power to decide who would enter and not enter the United States, it was inevitable that public officials would abuse such power, especially officials who were anti-Semitic.

In the absence of immigration controls, German and Eastern European Jews would have been free to come to America, both before and after World War II, where they would have lived in peace with Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Muslims, atheists, and everyone else. America would have been a safe haven for them.

Unfortunately, all too many American liberals not only continue to embrace immigration controls for America but also are reluctant to shine a light on the role that America’s founder of the welfare state, the “great humanitarian” Franklin Roosevelt, played in the Holocaust.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The War on Terrorism Is Crooked, Corrupt, and Hypocritical

The so-called war on terrorism will surely go down in U.S. history as one of the most ridiculous, inane, hypocritical, crooked, corrupt, and destructive federal programs ever.

This week, federal officials have been proudly proclaiming the arrest of two New Jersey men as they were preparing to board a plane to Somalia. The federal complaint charges them with conspiracy to “kill, maim and kidnap persons outside the United States.”

Two things immediately occur on reading of the complaint.

First, the men aren’t charged with conspiracy to kill, maim, and kidnap Americans. Instead, it charges them with conspiring to do those things to foreigners.

Second, and perhaps more important, the crimes that these two men have been charged with are precisely the acts that U.S. officials have been committing against foreigners for the last 9 years as part of their war on terrorism. When a federal program gives immunity to federal officials for committing the same acts that federal officials term felonies when committed by private U.S. citizens, shouldn’t that be a fairly strong indication of the moral bankruptcy of that federal program?

Let’s not forget, after all, that foreigner in Italy whom CIA agents kidnappedand turned over to Egyptian officials for the purpose of torturing him on behalf of the CIA. Those CIA agents were charged with the same type of criminal offenses in an Italian court that the Justice Department has now charged those two New Jersey guys.

The CIA agents quickly vamoosed out of Italy in order to avoid the judicial proceedings, and then refused to return to face their accusers in court. They didn’t return to Italy because they were scared of facing justice for their criminal conduct.

Did the Justice Department arrest and charge those CIA agents with conspiracy to kidnap and maim that foreigner, as they have charged those two New Jersey guys? Did it extradite them to Italy to stand trial for what they had done? Are you kidding? The Justice Department, under both Bush and Obama, considers them heroes and immune from any type of criminal prosecution even though they did the same thing that those two New Jersey guys are charged with doing.

In other words, whenever U.S. officials kidnap, maim, or kill foreigners, they’re immune from prosecution if they commit such acts as part of the war on terrorism, especially if the malefactors happen to be CIA agents.

Do you remember the photo of that dead Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib. Here it is, in case you missed it. His name was Manadel al-Jamadi. He was executed after he was taken captive by U.S. forces. Did the Justice Department ever indict the killers under that statute that they’ve charged those two New Jersey men? After all, in al-Jamadi’s case, they had a body. In the New Jersey case, all they have are conversations.

The answer is “No”— they didn’t indict anyone for al-Jamadi’s death. Why? Most likely because the killers appear to include agents of the CIA. And everyone knows that no one is going to jack with CIA killers, especially when they’re killing as part of the much-vaunted war on terrorism.

No doubt the CIA considered al-Jamadi a “bad guy” for resisting an illegal war of aggression against his country. (The U.S. was the aggressor power and Iraq the defending nation in the conflict, given that Iraq never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.) But did that entitle the CIA to execute the man after he was taken prisoner? The answer is “yes” under the war on terror. Unlike those two New Jersey men who have never killed anyone, the CIA agents who killed al-Jamadi got a pass.

What about that guy from Canada — Maher Arar, who the CIA kidnapped and renditioned to Syria for the purpose of torture? After a year of brutal torture, he was released, having been found innocent of the CIA’s accusation that he was a terrorist.

Did the Justice Department ever charge those CIA agents for conspiracy to kidnap and maim Arar? Of course not because unlike those two New Jersey men, the CIA committed their acts as part of the war on terrorism. That immunizes them from criminal prosecution, even though what they did is no different from what those two New Jersey men are charged with doing.

What about the CIA kidnapping, torture, and incarceration of Khalid el-Masri, the German citizen whom CIA agents wrongfully accused of terrorism? Did the Justice Department file charges against those agents under the same statute that they’ve charged those New Jersey men? Nope. You see, the CIA committed its offenses against el-Masri as part of the war on terrorism. Another pass for the CIA.

What about those drone assassinations that the CIA is committing in Pakistan? Well, you see, those killings are legal because they’re being committed as part of the war on terrorism. That’s what makes them different from the killings those two New Jersey guys are accused of conspiring to commit.

Then there’s the case of those suspicious deaths (here and here) of prisoners at Guantanamo that have been labeled suicides but which have the distinct smell of murder about them. Has the Justice Department issued any grand jury subpoenas regarding those deaths? No, no doubt because the CIA was helping run a secret section of Gitmo called “Camp No” at which at least some of the deaths seemed to have occurred. Again, the war on terrorism.

This week, a federal judge in El Paso finally set a date in the trial of suspected terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. He’s the guy who Venezuela has been trying to extradite and stand trial for the terrorist bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people.

Despite an extradition treaty between the United States and Venezuela, the U.S. government refuses to grant the extradition request, apparently because it fears that Venezuelan authorities might do the same thing that the U.S. government has done to terrorist suspects — torture him. Instead, U.S. officials have indicted Posada Carriles for immigration fraud for supposedly concealing his role in terrorist attacks in Cuba on some U.S. immigration form in 2005.

As I indicated in a previous article, the prosecution is acquiring the nasty smell of a sham prosecution, one that is made to look like they’re really going after the guy simply in order to avoid the charge of harboring an accused terrorist.

At a hearing this week, the presiding judge in the case, Kathleen Cardone, set the trial date for January of next year, even while announcing that there would be no further delays in the case. Pardon me, what better way to significantly delay a case than to set its trial date for 7 months away, especially when the alleged offense took place in 2005? Why would either side, both prosecution and defense, need 7 more months to prepare for a trial whose offense supposedly took place five years ago?

And it’s not as if the Carriles case is very complicated. After all, it’s just a case of immigration fraud involving an act of terrorism that the guy supposedly failed to mention on an immigration form 5 years ago. What’s complicated about that? Why not set the trial date two weeks from now?

In fact, why didn’t the Justice Department charge Posada Carriles with conspiracy to kidnap, maim, and kill foreigners, as they have with those two New Jersey men? After all, wouldn’t it seem that the burden of proving that the man lied about having allegedly committed terrorism in Cuba would be no different than proving that he actually committed terrorism in Cuba? And surely Venezuelan authorities would be more than happy to cooperate in a federal criminal prosecution for the terrorist downing of that Cuban airliner, which by the way included members of Cuba’s fencing team.

Indeed, one has to ask why Judge Cardone has seen fit to seal portions of the proceedings, preventing the news media and the America public from viewing them? What’s that all about, given that this is supposedly just a simple case of immigration fraud? The answer might lie in the fact that Posada Carriles once worked for the CIA.

As I indicated in my previous article, my prediction is that the 83-year-old former CIA agent Carriles will die before he ever serves one day in jail for anything.

By the way, weren’t U.S. officials conspiring with Osama bin Laden in the 1980s to kidnap, maim, and kill foreigners in Afghanistan, when it was the Soviet Union, rather than the U.S. government, occupying the country? How come that statute under which those New Jersey guys have been charged doesn’t apply to those U.S. officials?

After 9 years of crookedness, corruption, hypocrisy, and destructiveness to American liberty and justice, it’s time to put the war on terrorism in mothballs.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why Don’t American Statists Move to North Korea?

Except for the fact that the North Korean regime doesn’t kowtow to U.S. officials, my hunch is that American statists really don’t really object in principle to the North Korean way of life. After all, the North Koreans have simply taken liberal and conservative principles to their logical conclusion.

In North Korea, people believe that the job of the state is to take care of people. Isn’t that what American liberals and conservatives also believe? Isn’t that what Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare, unemployment compensation, welfare, education grants, food stamps, corporate subsidies, minimum-wage laws, public housing, bank bailouts, foreign aid, and all the other welfare-state programs are about?

Prior to the enactment of the federal income tax, Americans were free to keep everything they earned and to decide what to do with it. People weren’t forced to help the poor. Charity was voluntary. If someone decided to hoard all his money and refuse to donate one penny to his aging, ill parents or to the poor, there was nothing the government could do about it.

With the income tax, the government effectively nationalized income. The government’s job became using the force of the IRS to take a certain percentage of people’s income — a percentage that the government had the power to set — and then using the loot to take care of selected people with welfare-state largess.

What the North Koreans did was simply apply that principle completely and across the board. They not only nationalized people’s income, they nationalized everything, including all the private businesses. No more greed, profits, middle men, and speculators. The government became the sole employer, which guaranteed everyone a job and ensured that everyone would be taken care of. Isn’t complete security the dream of every American statist?

Consider the concept of civil liberties in criminal proceedings in North Korea. There are none. No due process of law, no habeas corpus, no Miranda warnings, no restrictions on searches and seizures, no jury trials, no criminal defense attorneys, and so forth. The state has full power to arrest and quickly torture and punish criminal malefactors. No legal or constitutional technicalities to worry about. Just swift punishment for the bad guys.

Isn’t that the system that American statists have embraced for criminal acts of terrorism?

Of course, American statists would respond that they’ve only adopted the North Korean principles in terrorism cases, but that misses the point, which is that the North Koreans have, again, simply taken the statist principle to its logical conclusion. They’ve eliminated civil liberties protections for all the bad guys — murderers, rapists, thieves, burglars, drug dealers, and the like — not just the terrorists.

Let’s consider the drug war. The North Korean regime makes drug possession and distribution illegal. So do American statists. Again, the idea is that it’s the role of government to take care of the people, and that includes the power to severely punish people for doing bad things to themselves. The North Korean mindset and the American statist mindset is that people belong to society, much as bees belong to a hive, and cannot be permitted to interfere with the proper functioning of society through self-destructive behavior.

Consider borders. The North Korean regime tightly seals its borders, preventing people from freely coming and going. Why, that’s a dream-come-true for any red-blooded American statist. Just imagine — totally sealed, military controlled borders. No more risk of terrorists, illegal aliens, or infectious diseases. And no risk that citizens will go abroad and bring back any of those things.

How has North Korea succeeded in molding the minds of its citizens to believe in and support and defend total statism? It uses the same device that American statists rely upon: public (i.e., government) schooling. From the first grade on up, people are inculcated with the idea of what makes a good, little citizen — the one who faithfully and loyally views his government in much the same way that a child views his parents — as caring, concerned people who periodically make mistakes but whose role as parents must never be challenged at a fundamental level.

When libertarians object to the welfare-warfare way of life that American statists have foisted onto our land, the statists oftentimes respond, “If you don’t like it here in America, why don’t you leave?” My answer: “Because we’d rather stay and fight to restore freedom, free markets, and a limited-government republic to our land.” The better question is: Why don’t American statists move to North Korea, given that it perfectly embodies their statist philosophy?

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Grand FFF Event in Pennsylvania

Last Friday, we participated in one of the nicest and classiest affairs in FFF’s 21-year history. It was hosted by longtime FFF supporter Bob Bowers, who also serves on FFF’s board of trustees. The event took place at the Heidelberg Country Club, a beautiful place in the foothills near Bernville, Pennsylvania.

About 85 people attended. The evening started out with a cocktail reception that included a great 4-piece band and a nice dance floor. After a couple of hours of socializing and dancing, we were treated to a very delicious buffet dinner. After dinner, everyone partook in a fantastic dessert cake that had been baked in the form of the FFF logo.

Longtime FFF friend and supporter Ken Sturzenacker introduced Jim Bovard and me. Jim gave his speech on the war on terrorism, followed by Q&A, and then I gave my talk on the importance of economic liberty and civil liberties, followed by Q&A. Both talks were videotaped and we’ll be linking to them in our FFF Email Update. I think you’ll especially enjoy the Q&A, as the questions were very insightful and the discussion fun and even a bit volatile!

A special thanks to Bob and Leda Bowers for organizing the program, Ken Sturzenacker for his kind words, the sponsors who helped underwrite the conference, and everyone who attended this grand event.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Statist Attack on John Stossel

If you want to understand why America is in deep crisis on the domestic front, consider an op-ed entitled “Tell Fox to Lay Off Our Civil Rights” by a liberal named James Rucker. The op-ed perfectly encapsulates the statist mindset that has mired our nation in paternalism, welfarism, socialism, and interventionism, along with the out-of-control federal spending, debt, taxes, and inflation that now threaten the United States with national bankruptcy.

Here’s what Rucker says. He wants people to sign his petition to have Fox News fire John Stossel. What’s his reason for trying to cost Stossel his job? Stossel made the long-time libertarian point that a free society entails the right to discriminate against anyone for any reason one wants. That’s what freedom of choice is all about — the right to make not only the right choices but also the wrong ones, so long as the choice is a non-violent one.

Or another way to put it is that freedom encompasses a concept called freedom of association. Free people have the right to choose the people they wish to associate with. The corollary of that principle is the right to not associate with people one doesn’t wish to associate with. Libertarians have long argued that no one should be forced to associate with someone he doesn’t wish to associate with for whatever reason.

To put the matter bluntly, under the principles of a genuinely free society, a bigot has a right to be a bigot. We can disapprove of his bigotry, and we can criticize and condemn it. We can ostracize and avoid the bigot. But the fact remains: If people are not free to choose the people with whom they wish to associate and not associate, then they cannot genuinely be considered free.

Rucker takes this principle and jumps to the old tired bromide that essentially says, “Well, if you defend freedom of association, then you must be a bigot yourself.”

Moreover, Rucker summarily rejects the libertarian argument, which Stossel emphasized, that a free society will nudge people to higher levels of conscience, conscientious behavior, responsibility, and charity through the exercise of choice, and through such peaceful means as boycotts, social ostracism, moral condemnation, and the like.

How long have we heard this Rucker-like argument whenever we libertarians have condemned the war on drugs, a war that is, not surprisingly, as beloved to liberals as it is to conservatives. “Since you call for drug legalization, then you must favor drug abuse. And if we were legalize drugs, as you libertarians suggest, everyone would go on drugs.”

The statist mindset simply does not permit the statist to comprehend the critically important part of freedom — that freedom entails making bad choices. That’s why statists embrace paternalistic government. They want the government to stomp out all bad choices by putting people who make bad choices into jail.

Why do you think we have Social Security? It’s because children should honor their mother and father by funding their retirement. That’s the correct choice. Why not simply leave young people free to keep their own money and decide whether to help their parents out or not? Because some of them would make the wrong choice! Under statism, that wrong choice simply cannot be permitted.

What do statists say about libertarians, who call for the repeal of Social Security? They say, “Calling for repeal of Social Security proves that libertarians hate old people and would love to see them dying in the streets, which is precisely what would happen if there was no Social Security.”

Why do you think we have welfare? Because it’s right that people help the poor. Why shouldn’t people be free to keep their own money and decide for themselves whether to use it to help the poor? Because some of them would make the wrong decision! Statists cannot tolerate that. That’s why we have an IRS and federal welfare agencies.

What do statists say about libertarians, who call for the repeal of the federal income tax and all welfare? “This just goes to show that libertarians hate the poor and hope that they all die, which is precisely what would happen if there were no IRS and welfare.”

The world is mired in statism. In some countries, statists endorse book banning. Their reasoning is the same as that of Rucker’s. People can’t be left free to make the right choices as to what to read. The government must ensure that bad choices are not made. Leave it to the collective decision of society to decide the proper reading material for people, and leave it to the government to punish those who read the wrong materials.

But let’s look at the positive side of things. At least Rucker is addressing his petition to fire Stossel to the executives at Fox News rather than running to the federal government to force his firing. Hey, that’s the type of thing we libertarians say should be employed against bigots in a free society! Maybe we libertarians are making a bit of progress after all.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Government Is Not the Country

One of the bromides we hear every Memorial Day is how countless American soldiers have died for their country. That’s nothing but sheer nonsense. Many of them died not for their country but rather for their government. There’s a difference.

Unfortunately, many Americans conflate the government and the country. In their minds, they are one and the same thing. Thus, for them when soldiers die for their government, they also die for their country.

By the same token, such people often question the patriotism of citizens who oppose a particular war in which their government is engaged. Since such people consider government and the country to be one and the same thing, they conclude that the protestors hate their country.

Actually, however, the government and the country are two separate and distinct entities. This phenomenon is confirmed, by the way, in the Bill of Rights, a document that expressly protects the country from the government. In fact, the reason that the Constitution limited the powers of the government was to ensure that it would not run roughshod over the country.

During World War II, there was a group of antiwar protestors who called themselves the White Rose. They not only opposed the war, they also refused to support the troops. They drew a distinction between their government and their country. They believed that their government was in the wrong in waging the war and decided to take a stand against it. In their minds, they were standing up for their country by opposing their government.

Those within the government, however, disagreed. Not surprisingly, they conflated government and country and considered the members of the White Rose to be traitors who hated their country. After quick kangaroo trials before tribunals known as the People’s Court, the members of the White Rose were convicted and executed. While many of their fellow Germans considered them unpatriotic, I believe that they were the true patriots for having the courage to stand up against a wrongful war being waged by their government.

A similar issue involving patriotism and treason arose in 1776. A common mistake many Americans make is with respect to the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Oftentimes, people think that the signers were Americans. They weren’t. They were as British as you and I are Americans. They were British citizens living in British overseas colonies.

So, when those British colonists signed the Declaration of Independence, they were standing up against their own government. Their government considered them to be traitors. I consider them to be patriots for having the courage to oppose wrongdoing by their own government, even to the point of risking their lives in the process.

When one reviews many of the various wars that the U.S. government has waged, Americans should ask themselves an important question: Did American soldiers die for their government or for their country in each of those wars?

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.