Thursday, June 30, 2011
Immigration Controls and a Police State
Yesterday I commented on conservative Pat Buchanan’s recent anti-immigration rant. Today, I wish to comment on an aspect of immigration controls that both conservatives and liberals rarely confront — the federal government’s police-state powers that come with enforcing immigration controls.
I’d venture to say that most Americans who are upset with the abusive tactics of the TSA at airports have no idea that Americans who live along our country’s southern border have had to deal with this type of federal abuse for decades — from the Border Patrol and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Over the years, the mindset among Americans living elsewhere in the country, I think, has been, “Oh, well, it’s not happening to me, so why should I care?”
Consider, for example, the fact that in Texas the Border Patrol has the legal authority, under the guise of immigration controls, to arbitrarily enter onto any private property that adjoins the Rio Grande. I have personal experience here. I grew up on a farm that adjoined the river. We could easily see Mexico whenever we drove down to the river to check on our irrigation pump.
The Border Patrol had the authority to come onto our farm without asking us, in the perpetual quest for illegal aliens. If we closed the front gate to our farm, they would simply open the gate and drive through, driving and searching all over our farm. If we put a lock on the gate and failed to provide them a key, they’d simply shoot off the lock and just enter onto the property.
No warrant. No judicial process. Just simple trespass onto our private property and everyone else’s along the border.
Now, I am certain that Pat Buchanan, like every other conservative who favors immigration controls, would be the first to stand up in front of a Heritage Foundation audience and exclaim proudly, “I’m a believer in private property and free enterprise.”
I’m also sure that your standard liberal who favors immigration controls would stand up in front of a Brookings Institute audience and exclaim proudly, “I’m a believer in privacy and the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable and warrantless searches and seizures.”
But with immigration controls, which both conservatives and liberals have long favored, comes enforcement. And warrantless entry onto private property by the Border Patrol has long been part and parcel of that enforcement.
Oh, I should mention that the Border Patrol’s power to arbitrarily enter onto people’s private property extends not just to farms and ranches that actually adjoin the border but also to private property that is miles away the border. They call it the “functional equivalent of the border.”
There are also those infamous border-control checkpoints inside the United States to consider. No, I’m not referring to the passport/drug-war checks at the international bridges that span the Rio Grande or other border crossing points. I’m talking about those official checkpoints that the feds have established entirely inside the United States. For example, at the airport in Laredo and on the highway heading north to San Antonio, the Border Patrol and INS are there, asking travelers for their papers and searching their cars and personal belongings — even though most of the people are traveling entirely within the United States.
For Anglo travelers, there is usually no problem, so long as they show the proper deference to federal officials. Light-skinned Hispanics dressed nicely or driving a late-model car are usually waved through. But if an Hispanic is dark-skinned or obviously poor or riding the bus, he had better be carrying his passport because he is going to be closely checked and returned to Laredo if his papers are not in order or, even worse, deported to Mexico.
Or consider the countless drivers along the border who are arbitrarily stopped by roving Border Patrol agents. A person can just be traveling along a highway and be suddenly pulled over by the Border Patrol and ordered to open up his trunk. No warrant. Just arbitrary stops based on such capricious standards as “The car was riding a bit low” or “The driver was going a bit too slow.”
How are all these things reconcilable with a free society? They’re not. Instead, they are the epitome of a police state. They did these things in the Soviet Union. They do them today in Cuba and North Korea.
Where do conservatives and liberals stand with respect to these police-state policies? Usually they remain silent about them. But they might well favor them or they might decry them. But what’s important to keep in mind is that such policies are an integral part of enforcing immigration controls. Saying that one is in favor of immigration controls and against a police state is like saying that one favors lightning and opposes thunder.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Buchanan’s Anti-Immigration Rant
Conservative Pat Buchanan went off on one of his periodic anti-immigration rants in an article yesterday entitled “Say Goodbye to Los Angeles.” In the article, Buchanan laments the fact that thousands of people in the Rose Bowl were cheering for Mexico in a soccer match against the United States.
Today there are more than a million Americans living in Mexico. Living permanently, as in retirement. I’m willing to bet that 99 percent of them still cheer for American sports teams. In fact, an article I once read about American retirees in Mexico observed that many of them were not assimilating, were hanging out only among themselves, having outdoor cookouts with hot dogs, and not learning Spanish. Worst of all, I am confident that they all were retaining their U.S. citizenship even though they planned to live the rest of their lives in Mexico.
Who cares? Why not just leave those Americans alone? Aren’t they living life the way they want to? Why should anyone force them to learn Spanish, to assimilate among the local populace, to eat tacos and enchiladas, to cheer only for Mexican sports teams, and give up their U.S. citizenship? Why can’t they simply be Americans who have chosen to live in another country?
Consider foreign tourists to the United States. Suppose the borders were opened during the summer months to anyone from Mexico who wished visit the United States and buy whatever he wanted. Would very many Americans care that the tourists couldn’t speak English? Do we care today when foreign tourists come over here and can’t speak English well? Aren’t most Americans helpful and courteous when foreign tourists ask for help and can’t speak good English? Isn’t that the way American tourists like to be treated when they visit foreign countries?
Wouldn’t American businesses bend over backwards to accommodate an enormous influx of summer customers? Isn’t that what profit-maximization is all about — pleasing the customer? Surely, Wall-Mart wouldn’t lament the fact that its stores were being flooded by people who couldn’t speak English well, would it?
Now, suppose the length of time for Mexican tourists is extended from 3 months to one year? Suppose it’s indefinite — that is, a tourist can stay as along as he wants. Let’s even say that they’re free to work while they’re here and even open up businesses.
How would that be different from millions of Americans working or retiring in Mexico — or Costa Rica — or France — or Italy — or Japan? So what if people of one country are living and working in another country. What difference does it make?
So what, for example, that there are American lawyers and businessmen living in Paris, conducting law or business on an international scale. So what that they retain their American citizenship. So what that they root for American sports teams. What does it matter? France retains its sovereignty and its borders. French citizens retain their French citizenship. Sure, it’s possible that Americans living in Paris might influence the French into adopting some American customs and vice versa. Why is that bad?
In 1848, the U.S. government eagerly incorporated the entire northern half of Mexico into the United States. I sometimes wonder what people like Buchanan think about that. Do they wish that the United States had never done that? Do they wish that the inhabitants had been forcibly sent south — into the half of Mexico that was not being stolen? Do they wish that the United States return the lands, along with all people of Mexican ancestry? Or do they wish that the United States keep the land but force all Hispanics to move to Mexico?
When one nation takes over half of a foreign country, doesn’t it stand to reason that such lands are going to retain the influence of the foreign nation for a long time, perhaps forever?
The lands that the United States took from Mexico had been under Mexican, Spanish, and French law for centuries. The inhabitants spoke Spanish. The cities and street signs were in Spanish. Even Buchanan himself says, “Goodbye to Los Angeles,” when he could have instead chosen to speak English by saying, “Goodbye to The Angels,” which only goes to show how deeply entrenched Mexican language and culture still are inside what used to be Mexico itself.
That’s what all too many Americans like Buchanan tend to forget. This was Mexico that we’re talking about. Imagine if the United States started another war with Mexico to take over the other half — the half that was not taken in the Mexican War. How long would it take to Americanize the other half of Mexico? A very long time!
Buchanan obviously thinks it’s a bad thing that there are so many Hispanics in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas — that is, in the lands that used to be the northern half of Mexico — and elsewhere in the United States. He laments that the “number of Hispanics in the USA will rise from today’s 50 million to 135 million.”
Unfortunately, Buchanan doesn’t explain why more Hispanics is necessarily a bad thing. Are more Anglos in Mexico a bad thing too? I wish Buchanan would visit my hometown of Laredo, Texas, which is located along the Rio Grande and, needless to say, was once part of Mexico. I’d estimate that 97 percent of Laredoans are Hispanic. Many of the daily conversations are in Spanish. Many of the street names are in Spanish. Many of the signs in the stores are in Spanish. In fact, I’d estimate that at least 20 percent of the populace cannot speak English.
That’s how long a nation’s culture lasts when it’s forcibly taken over by another country. Yet, Laredo gets along fine. It’s actually a quite harmonious and prosperous city in the United States. As a matter of fact, Buchanan would be pleased to know that Laredo has the biggest celebration in the countrycelebrating George Washington’s birthday. Yes, you read that right — the father of our country, not the father of Mexico!
On the other hand, it would undoubtedly disturb Buchanan to know that there are people in Laredo who have close family ties to relatives on the southern side of the Rio Grande. Some Laredoans maintain a closer watch on events in Mexico than they do here in the United States. Some might even say that their hearts are in Mexico, just as Americans living in Mexico might say that their hearts are in the United States. So what? By visiting Laredo, Buchanan might learn to conquer his fears of a Hispanic takeover of America.
At a time when all forms of statism are cracking apart all over the world, someone must lead the world out of the statist morass. That job lies with us libertarians, the only ones who stand consistently for individual liberty, private property, and free markets in all parts of life, including the free movements of goods, services, and people across borders.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Paternalism and the Drug War
The U.S. Supreme Court has declared a California law banning the sale of violent videos unconstitutional. That’s fine, but how about going further and declaring laws banning the possession and distribution of illicit drugs by adults to be unconstitutional too? After all, if we’re going to treat minors like adults, what would be wrong with treating adults as adults too?
Don’t drug laws treat American adults as little children? “Don’t put that into your mouth or I’ll send you to your room.” In this case, the person issuing the order is some 35 year-old government bureaucrat, the person to whom he’s issuing his order is 45 years old, the substance is marijuana or cocaine or some other illegal drug, and the room is located in some federal penitentiary.
In fact, the drug war is the ultimate of the paternalistic state. The government serves as everyone’s daddy, one who sets the rules on what his adult-children are permitted to ingest and who sets the punishments for those who violate his rules.
Can drugs harm a person? Of course they can. So can lots of other things, such as fatty foods, sugar, and even such terribly damaging drugs as alcohol and tobacco.
But simply because a substance is harmful, is that sufficient justification for the government’s wielding the power to punish a person for ingesting it? Is there any moral, legal, or constitutional justification for the government to serve as a daddy for American grown-ups, regulating what they choose to put into their mouths?
What about the concept of freedom? When the government wields the power to punish a person for ingesting a non-approved substance, how in the world can anyone rationally consider that person to be free? Doesn’t freedom entail the right to make one’s own choices in life, so long as they don’t involve the initiation of force or fraud against others?
Sure, the choices that people make might be considered irresponsible, dangerous, unhealthy, or immoral by others, but isn’t the right to make such choices the essence of individual liberty? If a person is “free” to do only those things that the authorities consider are responsible, safe, healthy, and moral, then how is that a free society? By that measure, aren’t people in China, North Korea, and Burma “free”?
Moreover, it’s his body, isn’t it? It’s his mouth that is ingesting the substance. Let’s take a simple case — a person sitting all by himself in the privacy of his own living room smoking marijuana. Obviously, he’s not violating anyone else’s rights because he’s not initiating force or fraud against anyone. Yes, some would say that what he’s doing is harming himself and his family, but people do lots of things that harm themselves and their families that are not violent or even illegal, such as drinking, smoking, overeating, or even watching too much television.
While people can say that the marijuana smoker is ruining his life or even destroying it, doesn’t freedom entail the right of the person to say, “Butt out and leave me alone”? Doesn’t freedom entail his right to live his life the way he wants, so long as his conduct remains peaceful? What business is it of policemen, prosecutors, judges, and jailers to be busting down his door, carting him away, prosecuting and convicting him, and sending him away to do time in jail? Who elected or appointed them to be the guy’s daddy?
The fact is that what people put into their mouths is no rightful business of government. It is not a legitimate role of government to be a busybody for the citizenry. Its role is to protect people from the violence of real criminals, such as murderers, rapists, and thieves. Its job is to protect people’s right to live their lives the way they choose, including the choice to ingest harmful substances.
It is no more the business of government to be controlling what people put into the mouths than it is to be controlling the sale of video games to minors. Adults have a right to be adults. And that right encompasses the right to ingest whatever people want for whatever reason they want.
Monday, June 27, 2011
A Liberal Attack on Jim Bovard
One of the enjoyable things about being a libertarian is being attacked by both the right and the left. Whenever a libertarian attacks some form of statism, you can be confident that either conservatives or liberals or both are going to be offended.
A recent example from the left is an attack on James Bovard (who serves as a senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation) by a columnist named Bill Egnor at the liberal website Firedoglake. Bovard had written an articlepublished by the Wall Street Journal poking fun at the waste and fraud in the federal government’s food-stamp program.
Egnor says that just because there are people defrauding and abusing the system is no reason to ditch the system itself. He suggests that there are thousands of people out there who desperately need food stamps. He says that “when the nation has a crisis caused by folks like Bovard and it puts millions out of work and the government steps in to bail those assholes out, it is also incumbent on the government to do something for those who are suffering at no fault of their own.”
Egnor’s article highlights a sharp line that distinguishes liberalism from libertarianism: Liberals believe in forcing people to care for others, while libertarians do not.
No, I suppose I should modify that: Liberals believe in forcing people to care for others, as long as it’s government doing the forcing, while libertarians do not.
Suppose I were to accost Egnor at gunpoint while he was withdrawing money from an ATM and forced him, on pain of being shot if he refused, to withdraw $5,000 from the ATM and give it to me. He complies and I use all of the money to buy sandwiches that I give to people who are desperately poor and needy.
What would Egnor’s response be? Would he be grateful? Would he say, “Jacob, you are a compassionate libertarian”?
Of course not. He would accuse me of being a thief. He would summon the police and send them after me. He would testify against me at my criminal trial and perhaps ask the judge to throw the book at me.
But suppose, instead, that I run to my friendly congressman and persuade him to enact a law that imposes a surtax of $5,000 on Egnor and everyone else. The IRS collects the tax money (by force) and turns it over to the federal food-stamp agency, which proceeds to print up and distribute the food stamps (after deducting a certain amount to cover its salaries and other administrative expenses).
What would Egnor say? His tune would change entirely. He would now exclaim that I am a good, caring, kind, and compassionate person, one who is willing to makes whatever sacrifices are necessary to help the poor.
But force is force. If it’s wrong for me to force Egnor to help the poor, it’s just as wrong for everyone in society to force Egnor to help the poor. Unlike liberals, we libertarians believe in freedom of choice across the board, including not just what a person reads or ingests, but also what he does with his own money.
As we libertarians have long argued, one of the most disastrous consequences of the welfare state has been the mindset of dependency that it has inculcated in the American people, and Egnor is a perfect example of this phenomenon. He is absolutely convinced that if food stamps were abolished today, there would be mass starvation among the American poor tomorrow. Of course, Egnor would undoubtedly exclaim, “I would help the poor but no one else would.” Never mind that millions of his fellow liberals say the same thing and that none of them believes the others.
That’s one of the distinguishing characteristics of libertarians — we have faith not just in ourselves but also in others. And we place our faith in freedom, free men, and free markets, not in the impersonal, coercive apparatus of the state. Unlike Egnor, we wouldn’t think of forcing anyone to help the poor but, at the same, time we have no doubts that when people are free to keep their own money most of them won’t hesitate to give for what they consider a worthy cause.
Finally, when it comes to diagnosing the nation’s ills, Egnor gets it wrong there too. Like other liberals, he blames America’s economic woes on the free market, an unusual position to say the least, given that Americans have suffered under a welfare state and a regulated economy since at least the New Deal.
No, Egnor, what has failed is your beloved welfare-state way of life (along with the warfare-state way of life that so many of your claque believe in too). It has not only produced the mindset of dependency that afflicts you and other liberals, it has also led to the out-of-control spending and borrowing that now threatens the financial and economic security of the American people, including the poor.
It’s time to admit the obvious. It was a gigantic mistake to have adopted Franklin Roosevelt’s socialist and fascist philosophy and programs. It’s time to restore economic liberty and libertarianism to our land before liberals (and conservatives) make the damage even worse than they’ve already made it.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Conservative Disdain for the Constitution
Today’s op-ed in the Washington Post by noted conservative Charles Krauthammer, entitled “Who Takes Us to War?” reveals a lot about conservatives and how differently they view the Constitution compared to us libertarians.
Krauthammer’s article is about the Constitution’s declaration-of-war requirement. As Krauthammer acknowledges, the Constitution delegates the power to declare war to Congress and the power to wage war to the president. That means that the president is precluded from waging war without a declaration of war from Congress.
Krauthammer says that that part of the Constitution is as outmoded as horse and buggies. In support, he cites the many wars that U.S. presidents have waged since World War II without a congressional declaration of war.
Krauthammer proposes that congressional resolutions authorizing the initiation of war be used in place of declarations of war. He says that the matter should be studied and approved by a bipartisan commission. Once the commission finalizes the language, Krauhammer proposes that it be jointly approved by Congress and the president and then read aloud by noted historian David McCullough at the signing ceremony. According to Krauthammer, “That will make it official.”
Not surprisingly, we libertarians take an entirely different approach to the problem. In our view, the Constitution is the highest law of the land. It is higher than any law enacted by Congress or any action taken by the president.
Suppose a law or a presidential act contradicts a provision of the Constitution. Which wins out? Libertarians say: The Constitution does. The law and the act are invalid because the Constitution is a higher law than the congressional law or the presidential act.
Keep in mind, after all, that we the people — that is, our American ancestors — used the Constitution to call the federal government into existence as our servant, not our master, and on the condition that U.S. officials, including the president and the members of Congress, would comply with the terms of the document.
One of those terms deals with the critically important issue of war. The Framers did not want to give the president the power to declare war. They felt that if they did that, presidents would be likely to send the nation into senseless, expensive, deadly, and destructive wars. Moreover, they agreed with what James Madison pointed out — that of all the enemies to the freedom of the American people, war would be the biggest because it would provide the opportunity for the federal government to centralize and expand its powers and to infringe on the rights and freedoms of the American people.
That’s why the Framers chose to impose an enormous obstacle in front of the president. They required him to seek a declaration of war from Congress before he could go to war against another nation-state.
That’s the law. It is the highest law of the land. Until it is changed, it must be obeyed.
Now, that’s not to say that presidents do obey it. We all know that they haven’t since World War II. But contrary to what Krauthammer suggests, that doesn’t make the law outmoded. It simply makes the presidents who have broken the law law-breakers.
Rather than let the lawbreakers off the hook, as Krauthammer suggests, we libertarians say: Enforce the Constitution. Enforce the law, no matter how many times it’s been violated by presidents in the past.
We all know that the Supreme Court isn’t going to enforce this particular provision of the Constitution, no doubt because the justices know that the president wouldn’t comply with its ruling anyway. Thus, the Court has long resorted to such legal nonsense as “no standing” or “lack of justiciability” to avoid exposing its impotence in this regard.
But that doesn’t mean that Congress can’t enforce the law. How? Through impeachment. That’s the part of the Constitution that empowers the House of Representatives to formally charge the president with a high crime or misdemeanor. What better example of a high crime or misdemeanor than the president’s decision to send the nation into war in express violation of the Constitution?
Finally, Krauthammer obviously has little appreciation of the superior position of the Constitution in America’s political structure. If public officials or the citizenry are unhappy with a particular part of the Constitution because they feel it’s outmoded or for any other reason, then the Constitution provides them a way to change it — by amending the Constitution. Admittedly, that’s not an easy process. It requires two-thirds of both houses of Congress to propose an amendment and then ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures. Alternatively, it entails a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the states legislatures.
Nonetheless, again, the law is the law. People like Krauthammer might not like the amendment process set forth in the Constitution due to its difficulty, but that’s the law, the law of the Constitution. And as the highest law of the land, public officials are expected to obey it.
Sadly, Krauthammer would have the president and the Congress ignore not only the declaration-of-war requirement but also the provision in the Constitution for amending the document. He thinks that as long as the president and the Congress agree on a substitute proposal and then have it read aloud by a nationally renowned historian at the signing ceremony, then that’s as good as amending the Constitution in the prescribed manner.
Two questions for Mr. Krauthammer: If federal officials are free to violate one or two provisions of the Constitution, then why aren’t they free to violate all provisions of the Constitution? And if that’s the case, then how is our government different from those Middle East dictatorships that the U.S. government has long supported and partnered with?
Thursday, June 23, 2011
The Welfare-Warfare Anchor Is Taking Us Down
It’s really fascinating to see how American statists are addressing the financial problems in Greece. They’re blaming Greece’s problems on the credit bubble, the banksters, greedy people, government mismanagement and corruption, or some combination thereof. So far, it doesn’t seem like they’re blaming the crisis on illegal aliens but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.
The statists simply cannot bring themselves to confront reality: What has failed in Greece is the welfare state itself. They are having a hard time accepting what we libertarians have been saying for decades — that socialism was doomed to fail at some point in the future.
Let’s assume that everyone in Greece was desperately poor — that there was no capital base whatsoever — that everyone in society was on the verge of starvation.
Would establishing a welfare state be the answer to Greece’s problems? Statists would undoubtedly exclaim, “Yes! The welfare state is the key to ending poverty!”
But careful analysis shows how ridiculous that is.
The welfare state depends on government largess that is doled out to the citizenry. But the government doesn’t have an independent pool of wealth at its disposal. The way it gets the welfare largess to dole out is by collecting it from the citizenry through taxation.
Do you see the problem? If there is no wealth in Greece — that is, if everyone is poor — then the government can’t get the money through taxation to redistribute to the citizenry in the form of welfare largess.
Now, let’s assume that over time, a large amount of wealth is accumulated within Greek society through private economic activity. Let’s say that the wealth totals $10 million dollars.
At that point, the statists go ape. They see the $10 million and recognize that it’s now a source for welfare largess. They get the government to tax the entire $10 million and dole it out in the form of welfare. The welfare recipients are ecstatic. The statists are praised and honored for their goodness and compassion.
But do you see the problem? After the distribution of the welfare largess, there is now no longer any welfare money to distribute because now everyone is poor again. Marginal businesses close down, putting people out of work. Businessmen are reluctant to stay in business given that their profits and savings are going to be taken from them in the future.
That scenario pretty much explains what happened in the socialist paradise of Cuba. Lots of private wealth had been built up, and then Castro comes into power and confiscates it all, for the sake of the poor. Welfare state programs are enacted, including guaranteed retirement, health care, and education. At the same time, successful businesses are taken over by the government, which runs them into the ground. Successful businessmen flee the country. Today, virtually most everyone in Cuba is on the verge of starvation.
In principle, the situation is no different in Greece. Sure, there is still plenty of private wealth built up in the country. But Greek officials know that if they were to confiscate it all to pay the welfare-state expenses and the massive debt that has been accumulated, they end up with what happened in Cuba — no one to tax next year because businesses have closed and businessmen have fled. In other words, they know that if they kill the golden goose, there will be no more eggs in the future.
The other problem is the mindset of welfare dependency that the welfare state has inculcated within the Greek people. After decades on the dole, they are filled with anger and outrage over the possibility that it might have to be cut or even abolished.
Many of them simply block out of their minds that the way that the government pays its dole is by collecting the money from the citizenry through taxes. I wonder how Greek citizens would respond if the government announced that it was going to give every citizen $100,000 while, at the same time, announcing a per-citizen tax of $100,000.
Others recognize the problem but want “the rich” to pay the taxes that fund the dole. The problem is that the amount of wealth “the rich” have is no longer enough to indefinitely sustain the ever-burgeoning welfare state. And if the state takes everything from them, then, again, there is nothing left to confiscate and redistribute next year.
Of course, still others recognize that problem, which is why they want foreign states to tax their citizens and send the money to the Greek government so that it can continue paying its welfare dole and debt payments. Not surprisingly, the already over-taxed foreign citizens aren’t too excited about that idea, especially given that the likelihood that it will go on indefinitely.
What was different about Castro was that he imposed a complete welfare state all at once. European countries and the United States have done it gradually. In the 1930s, American statists saw the tremendous amount of private wealth that had been accumulated in the United States over a century of no income tax and no welfare — more than a 100 years of unlimited accumulation of income, wealth, and capital, sound money (i.e., gold coins and silver coins), and rising standards of living. American statists saw that giant pool of wealth as an opportunity to establish a welfare state, beginning with the crown jewel known as Social Security.
Not surprisingly, in the beginning stages of the welfare state, both in Europe and the United States, it all seemed like a costless enterprise. Only the rich had their money taken from them. But as each decade passed, the welfare dole soared as did the taxes on not just the rich but also on the middle class and even the poor. When the amount of taxes collected could no longer keep up with the welfare expenses, government officials borrowed to make up the difference.
Thus, the result in Greece is a massive welfare dole that people are demanding be continued as well as a massive debt that must be paid, a debt that was incurred to make welfare payments in the past.
In principle, the situation is no different here in the United States. Sure, we have a larger pool of wealth to tax than Greece does but don’t forget that while both nations have an ever-burgeoning welfare state and an ever-burgeoning debt, we have something they don’t: a massive warfare state, one whose foreign empire is occupying two countries, waging war in five or six countries, maintaining 700-1000 military bases in some 130 countries, and claiming that America is at war perpetually into the future.
Yet, the warfare dole is really no different from the welfare dole in that it too depends on the collection of taxes on the private sector.
The financial crisis in Greece might well be the initials sign of a worldwide collapse of the welfare state—a final collapse of socialism, a phenomenon that long ago libertarians predicted would happen at some point in the future.
Over the decades, the statists have responded with: Who cares about the long term given that we’ll all be dead? Well, the statists who said that might be dead but their grandchildren and great-children are quite alive to witness what might well be the long-term’s final throes of the welfare state.
The reason for the collapse will be easy to see, at least for those who want to see it: The dole-receiving sector, both welfare and warfare, ultimately grows so large that the weight of it breaks the back of the tax-paying sector.
Is there a solution for what ails the body politic? Of course. That solution is libertarianism — the repeal of all welfare-state programs and the dismantling of all warfare/empire programs.
Unfortunately, however, so far the dole recipient sector — both welfare and warfare — has been successful in preventing libertarianism from being adopted. They’d rather hang on to their welfare-state, warfare-state anchor even if it drags everyone to the bottom of the ocean.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Thank You, Julian Heicklen
Last February I published an article entitled, “Jury Nullification Prosecutorial Abuse,” in which I detailed the ridiculous and abusive federal indictment of Julian Heicklen.
What was the crime that the feds indicted Heicklen for? Handing out pamphlets in front of a public federal courthouse in Manhattan that informed people of the right of juries to judge the law in criminal cases. The grand jury, which undoubtedly followed the orders of the U.S. Attorney’s office, charged that handing out such pamphlets was the equivalent of “jury tampering.”
As I stated in my article, “Is that ridiculous or what? What an excellent example of prosecutorial abuse.”
As I explained in my article, for centuries juries have had the power to judge both the facts and the law in criminal cases. The problem is that federal prosecutors and federal judges, most of whom are ardent statists, hate that particular power of the jury.
So, over time the judges have simply come to lie about it. In case after case, they tell the jury that the matter of the law is solely within the prerogative of the judge and that juries have to accept the law as given to them by the judge.
Every so often, an enlightened and knowledgeable jury disregards what the judge says. The jurors know that the judge is lying to them and that, in fact, it is within their prerogative to judge both the facts and the law of the case, notwithstanding the judge’s false statements to them.
What does judging the facts and the law mean?
With respect to the facts, the jury’s job is to determine whether the government has satisfied its burden of proving the defendant’s guilt with competent and relevant evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
With one post-9/11 exception, the jury’s verdict is final. If they find the defendant not guilty, the judge must set him free, even if the judge, the prosecutor, and the Marshals are 100 percent convinced that the defendant is guilty.
The one exception has come into existence since 9/11. The feds used the 9/11 attacks to claim that in terrorism cases, the military now wields the power to ignore jury verdicts of acquittal in federal terrorism cases. So, today even though a federal jury declares a terrorism defendant not guilty, the Pentagon can simply ignore the jury’s verdict and arrest the acquitted person as an “enemy combatant,” at which point he can then be treated as a “terrorist” (i.e., indefinite confinement, torture, kangaroo tribunal, execution, etc.) By the way, the power to ignore verdicts of acquittal in terrorism cases was also wielded by the Gestapo in Hitler’s Germany.
With respect to the law, the jury has the prerogative of judging whether the law is a good one or not. If the jury decides that the law is unconscionable or immoral, then it can vote to acquit the defendant even if the evidence conclusively establishes his guilt. For example, suppose the government enacted a law against hiring Jews. The jury could vote to acquit the defendant even if he confessed to violating it.
What is the current status of that ridiculous and abusive federal indictment against Heicklen?
According to Heicklen’s Progress Reports, “My court hearing for distributing fully informed jury information in front of the Newark, NJ federal district courthouse on August 25, 2010, was scheduled for 9:00 am on May 26, 2011…. My case was called and dismissed by 11:30 am.”
So, there you have it. After federal prosecutors subjected Heicklen to a ridiculous and abusive federal indictment, a federal magistrate summarily dismissed it. There was nothing the U.S. Attorney’s office or the U.S. Marshals office could do about. Under our system of justice, they couldn’t re-arrest him for the purported crime, and so far the Pentagon hasn’t picked him up as a terrorist.
The federal magistrate was, of course, right to summarily dismiss the indictment without even permitting the case to go to trial. It was a ridiculous, abusive, and shameful indictment.
Federal Marshals and federal prosecutors need to be reminded that this is not the Soviet Union and it’s not one of those Middle East dictatorships that the U.S. government ardently supports, finances, and partners with. They need to be reminded that people everywhere, including right here in the United States and particularly in front of a pubic federal courthouse, have the fundamental, God-given right of freedom of speech, which includes informing prospective jurors about their powers.
In his Progress Reports, Heicklen states since the dismissal of the indictment, he has returned several times to the federal courthouse where they arrested him in the first place to again distribute his fully-informed jury pamphlets. Wisely, the federal Marshals and prosecutors have decided not to arrest him and indict him again, a not-so-subtle acknowledgment that their previous arrest and indictment of this man constituted an excellent example of police and prosecutorial abuse.
In an article yesterday entitled “Heicklen Takes Manhattan,” where I learned of Heicklen’s success, author Garry Reed put it well: “Sometimes the fight for freedom gets so intense libertarians actually miss the important triumphs. It’s time to pause and savor a victory.”
Here, here. Thanks, Julian Heicklen, for putting the feds in their place and making them respect our fundamental, God-given rights of freedom of speech and to inform prospective jurors of their right to judge both the facts and the law in criminal cases.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Terrorist Retaliation against Obama’s Aggression
Immediately after a NATO missile hit a home a few days ago and killed several civilians, including children, Libya’s foreign minister, Abdulati al-Obeida, called “for all Muslims to initiate a global jihad against the oppressive criminal West,” according to the New York Times.
Military officials issued the standard statements of regret that are customarily issued when their bombs kill innocent people. “NATO regrets the loss of innocent civilian lives,” announced Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, who is in charge of the war on Libya.
Let me to tell you what’s going to happen if a few people in the Middle East heed Libya’s call for jihad and retaliate against the United States with a big terrorist attack here on American soil.
Immediately, U.S. officials are going to call on Americans to forget everything that happened prior to the terrorist attack. The only thing that matters, U.S. officials will exclaim, is that “today we were attacked by evil and vicious terrorists who hate us for our freedom and values.”
Here’s what else they will say: “This terrorist attack shows that we are still at war against the terrorists. We’ve got to enact a new Patriot Act and we call on America’s patriots to support it. The ongoing terrorist threat means that we must indefinitely continue increasing military spending for ‘defense.’ We must also continue our policies of indefinite detention, torture, denial of due process, and military tribunals. Our nation is at war against an endless supply of bad guys. We will prevail. God bless America.”
All of this, of course, would be sheer nonsense. It is the U.S. government that started the war against Libya, not the other way around. The Libya regime is the defending power in the war, and it is the U.S. government that is the aggressor regime. People who were angered over the killings resulting from the massive NATO bombing campaign in Libya, including the bombs that killed Libya’s military personnel, would be exacting revenge for President Obama’s undeclared and illegal war of aggression on Libya.
It’s actually the perfect scam. Start a war and kill people, making survivors so angry that they retaliate. Then, when victims or friends of the victims retaliate, use that as the justification for higher military spending, massive powers over the citizenry, and “temporary” suspensions of the rights and freedoms of the American people. And if anyone objects, call him a traitor or “weak on defense.”
All of this should be familiar ground for Americans. Isn’t that what U.S. officials said and did after the 9/11 attacks? Weren’t Americans told that history begins with 9/11 and that they shouldn’t ponder what the U.S. Empire had done to people in the Middle East prior to 9/11? Didn’t they use the 9/11 attacks to justify ever-soaring military spending? Didn’t they immediately implement the Patriot Act, the enemy-combatant doctrine, domestic spying, torture, indefinite detention, military tribunals, and Gitmo? Didn’t they exclaim that the terrorists just hate America for its freedom and values?
Americans were expected to impose a mental blockade on themselves, blocking out such pre-9/11 things as: the 11 years of brutal sanctions against Iraq that killed lots of innocent children — hundreds of thousands of them; US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright’s infamous announcement that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it”; the U.S. military’s intentional destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage facilities with the knowledge that it would help spread infectious illnesses among the Iraqi people; the stationing of U.S. imperial troops near Islamic holy lands; the ardent support of Middle East dictatorships; and the unconditional aid provided to the Israeli government.
Americans weren’t supposed to think about the Empire’s pre-9/11 actions. All that they were expected to think was, “My government — always good, always right. The terrorists attacked us because of our freedom and values. We’re now at war and we must rally to our government and support its call for wartime unity.”
Unfortunately, all too many Americans who bought into the government’s 9/11 nonsense will buy into the same sort of nonsense if there is terrorist retaliation from Obama’s unconstitutional and illegal war on Libya.
The good news, however, is that 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, there are lots of Americans who have broken through to the truth and the reality of U.S. foreign policy. In the event of terrorist retaliation here in the United States for what Obama’s army has done in Libya, Americans who have achieved such a breakthrough will able to recognize official nonsense for what it is.
Monday, June 20, 2011
The War on Immigrants, Farmers, and Consumers
The Los Angeles Times published an article last week about another travesty in the war on immigrants. Georgia farmers are having trouble finding people to pick their fruit crops. The likely reason is that Georgia’s new harsh immigration law, set to take effect in July, is scaring off illegal immigrants.
The travesty is not a new one. A few years ago, California farmers had to watch their crops rot in the fields owing to a scarcity of workers to harvest them. Again, it was the war on immigrants that was dissuading workers from coming in and harvesting the crops.
A statist would respond, “Oh, Jacob, you must be mistaken. Everyone knows that illegal aliens steal jobs from Americans. Now that Georgia’s anti-immigrant bill is set to go into effect, the Georgians who have had their jobs stolen from them are going to be rushing back to reclaim them.”
Well, not so, Mr. Statist. It didn’t happen in California and it isn’t happening in Georgia. Notwithstanding a high unemployment rate in Georgia, the Timesarticle points out, “Few here believe that native Southerners, white or black, wish to return to the land their ancestors once sharecropped or tended in bondage.”
For that matter, it doesn’t appear that any Americans who support the war on immigrants or who purport to love the poor are rushing to help the farmers whose blackberry crops must be harvested right away.
Let’s analyze the issue from a libertarian perspective.
The farmers own and operate their farms, just as they own any money they have in the bank for operating expenses. As owners, they have the moral right to do whatever they want with their property and their money. That’s what private property is all about.
The farmers also have the moral right to associate with anyone they want. That’s what freedom of association is all about.
The farmers also have the right to entered into any mutually beneficial economic arrangement with anyone else. That’s what economic liberty, freedom of contract, and free enterprise are all about.
The immigrants have the moral right to sustain and improve their lives through labor. They have the moral right to travel and move. They have the moral right to enter into mutually beneficial economic arrangements with others. They have the moral right to accumulate wealth and do whatever they want with it. That’s what self-ownership and economic liberty are all about. They also have the moral right of freedom of association.
For years in Georgia, as elsewhere across the country, farmers and illegal immigrants had been entering into what they both considered to be a mutually beneficial arrangement. The farmer used his money to make a wage offer to the immigrant. The immigrant, in turn, would decide whether he wanted to accept the offer or go elsewhere.
If a deal was struck, both sides benefitted because they both were giving up something the valued less for something they valued more. The farmer was giving up money for wages in return for the prospect of high profits on the sale of the crops. The worker was giving up his time and energy in return for the money he was receiving from the farmer.
The agreed-upon wage was far above what the worker would receive in Latin America. Many times, he would send a large portion of his wages back to his wife and kids or parents or other family members back home. What better way to help the poor than that?
Now, I ask you: What business does the government, state or national, have interfering with the exercise of fundamental rights? This is purely a private transaction between the farmer and the immigrants. It’s none of the government’s business.
The Declaration of Independence, which Georgians and other Americans will soon be celebrating with much fanfare, holds that all people — not just Americans — are endowed with certain fundamental, natural, God-given rights with which no government can legitimately interfere. These fundamental rights include the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They also include the right to private property, the right to associate with and contract with others, the right to accumulate wealth and decide what to do with it, and the right to become an owner of private property.
Wouldn’t it be nice if this Fourth of July Americans were to ponder the profound words that Jefferson enunciated in the Declaration, words that expressed the mindset and sentiments of the British citizens who rebelled against their own government, in part because that government was restricting immigration into the British colonies? It wouldn’t help those Georgia farmers or their consumers this year, but it could move us closer to getting American on the right road in the future — a road toward freedom, free markets, peace, prosperity, harmony, and moral, ethical, and Christian values.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Did It Begin and End with Juan Cole?
The New York Times is reporting that a former CIA official, Glenn L. Carle, has revealed that the George W. Bush White House “sought damaging personal information on a prominent American critic of the Iraq war in order to discredit him.” Carle said that officials in the Bush administration “at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war.”
Cole’s response to Carle’s revelation is posted here.
It’s not clear yet whether the CIA complied with Bush’s request, but given the propensity of the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA officials to comply with whatever orders were issued by Bush, it is a virtual certainty that even though Carle himself refused to participate in the scheme, the president was able to find some loyal, obedient lackies within the CIA who were more than willing to do his bidding — in the name of the war on terrorism and national security, of course.
After all, don’t forget the NSA spying scheme, in which Bush enlisted officials in several American telecommunications firms to illegally turn over information about their customers to NSA officials who were participating in the criminality. When one of the telecom heads, a man named Joseph Nacchio, the CEO of Qwest Communications, refused to break the law and sell out his customers, the Justice Department retaliated with a criminal indictment against him for insider trading.
Don’t forget the Valerie Plame matter. When Plame’s husband, Joe Wilson, revealed that the Bush administration was lying about Saddam Hussein’s purported attempts to secure yellow cake in Niger as a way to get people to support his undeclared war of aggression against Iraq, Bush officials retaliated by outing Plame as a CIA agent, effectively ending her career with the CIA.
What will Congress do about the Carle’s allegations? Probably nothing given that this is the CIA we’re talking about. What member of Congress wants to take on the CIA, especially given that the CIA could end up revealing the dirt it has acquired on the members of Congress and reveal it to the public?
But it is the responsibility of Congress to fully investigate the matter. For that matter, it’s also up to the Justice Department to investigate whether any criminal laws were violated. After all, the CIA isn’t supposed to be spying on Americans, is it?
My hunch is that this matter did not begin and end with Juan Cole. My hunch is that the Bush administration used the CIA and other means at its disposal to secure information on American war critics, just like the U.S.-supported dictators in the Middle East do their citizens. After all, when a regime has no reluctance to violate laws against torture, spying, and undeclared wars of aggression, how likely is it that it is going to stop at one single journalist who’s writing an antiwar blog?
The Congress needs to be fearless. It needs to conduct a full public investigation (i.e., no secret proceedings), one in which the former president himself is summoned to testify under oath. Americans have a right to know the full extent to which the powers of the national-security state in the much-vaunted 10-year war on terrorism have been turned upon them.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
The New York Times yesterday carried an interesting article about U.S. military attacks in Yemen, one of five countries (that we know of) in which the U.S. Empire is killing people. The article indicated that the CIA is building a secret base outside of Yemen in order to carry out attacks inside the country in the future.
Why is the base being built outside Yemen and why is its location secret?
Because if the U.S.-supported dictatorship in Yemen is ousted from power, it’s not at all certain that a new regime would approve of a U.S. military base within the country, especially one from which military operations against people within the country are being carried out.
Currently, the Pentagon is running bombing and assassination operations in Yemen, but U.S. officials plan to turn over control of such operations to the CIA. Why is that? The Times provides the explanation, which I found quite interesting: “By putting the operations under C.I.A. control, they could be carried out as a ‘covert action,’ which can be undertaken without the support of the host government.”
What exactly does that mean? Does it mean that covert actions are legal notwithstanding the lack of consent from the host country? Or does it mean that the host country, as a practical matter, won’t be able to object because it won’t be able to prove that the U.S. government has a role in the operations?
Unfortunately, the Times didn’t provide any answers. It just blithely stated the explanation as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Yet, it is one government — the U.S. government — that is doing the bombing and assassinating in Yemen. What difference can it possibly make that one part of the government (i.e., the CIA) is doing the bombing and assassinating rather than another part of the government (i.e.., the Pentagon). It’s the same government!
Moreover, why should it matter whether the bombing and assassinating are covert or overt? If a host government must approve a foreign power’s bombing campaigns and assassination campaigns when the operations are “overt,” how can converting them into “covert” operations obviate the need to secure such permission?
Suppose China built a secret base in Cuba from which to operate covert bombing and assassination operations against suspected terrorists (e.g., Uighurs) within the United States? Wouldn’t the U.S. government expect China to secure its permission before proceeding to assassinate suspected terrorists within the United States?
My hunch is that if China didn’t secure such permission and just began bombing and assassinating suspected terrorists inside the United States, as the United States proposes to do in Yemen, U.S. officials would go a ballistic. After all, don’t they go ballistic when China just builds a new warship to patrol its own waters?
The U.S. government’s distinction between the Pentagon and the CIA and its distinction between overt and covert operations sure seem ridiculous to me.
Of course, what really matters is that the U.S. government has no more business kidnapping, renditioning, torturing, bombing, and assassinating people inside Yemen (or Pakistan, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else) than the Chinese government would have bombing and assassinating people inside the United States (or anywhere else).
Such specific inanity only points to the overall inanity of the entire U.S. imperialist foreign policy and the U.S. government’s decade-long “war on terrorism,” including sanctions, embargoes, invasions, wars of aggression, kidnapping, rendition, torture, assassination, kangaroo tribunals, and denial of due process of law.
After more than a decade of this deadly and destructive inanity, the time has come for the American people to bring it to an end. The time has come to dismantle the world’s last surviving military empire and restore a limited-government, constitutional republic to our land. It’s the key to peace, prosperity, harmony, and freedom.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution states in part:
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Article I, Section 8, states in part:
“The Congress shall have Power To Declare War….”
The Constitution is the highest law of the land. It is the law that the citizenry of the United States imposed on federal officials as a condition to calling the federal government into existence.
Since the Framers delegated the power to declare war to Congress, the Constitution prohibits the president from waging war without first securing a declaration of war from Congress.
Everyone acknowledges that President Obama has waged war against Libya without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. By ordering U.S. armed forces to attack Libya, Obama intentionally, knowingly, and willingly violated the law — the law of the Constitution.
Obama’s war on Libya has resulted in the deaths of untold number of people who have never attacked the United States. His war of aggression has also exposed the American people to the increased threat of terrorism, which federal officials commonly cite as the justification for further infringements on the civil liberties of the American people.
Obama’s war on Libya clearly falls within the category of a “high crime or misdemeanor.” In fact, given the death and destruction and the real and potential harm to the safety and freedom of the American people, Obama’s war is akin to a political felony.
So, I say: Impeach him. In fact, I can’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be impeached. He has broken the law — the people’s law — the law of the Constitution, and he has done so knowingly, intentionally, and willfully.
What would be Obama’s defense at his impeachment trial? Unable to deny the charge, his only claim would be that since other presidents have violated the same law and nothing was done to them, he should be let off the hook too.
But is that a valid defense? It certainly isn’t permitted in criminal cases in which the feds charge citizens with violations of their laws. If a citizen is charged with illegal possession of drugs, for example, he isn’t permitted to defend against the charge by claiming that others similarly situated weren’t charged.
So, why should Obama’s “defense” be treated any differently?
Even if Obama were to be acquitted, wouldn’t it be constructive to finally bring a president to account for his willful violation of this particular provision of the Constitution? At the very least, a powerful message would be sent to Obama and all future presidents: Try this again and you will be removed from office.
Given that the U.S. Supreme Court long ago signaled that it would not enforce this particular provision of the Constitution no matter how important it was, it’s up to Congress to do so. If presidents can ignore the law, then what’s the point of having a Constitution?
It’s time for Congress to enforce our law — the law of the Constitution — the law that we the people have imposed on federal officials. What better way to do that than by impeaching President Obama for the high crime or misdemeanor of waging war on Libya without the congressional declaration of war required by the Constitution?
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Bahrain’s Dictatorship and the Pentagon
Sometimes it’s good to look at foreign dictatorships to see what the president and the U.S. military have done to our country. Consider, for example, the trial of 20 doctors that is currently taking place in Bahrain.
As most everyone knows, Bahrain is ruled by a brutal dictatorship, just as many other countries in the Middle East are. Bahrain is also besieged by anti-government demonstrations, just as other countries in the Middle East are. Like other dictatorships in the Middle East, Bahrain’s dictatorial regime is using brute force to suppress the protests.
What distinguishes the Bahrain dictatorship from, say, the Libyan or Syrian dictatorships, is that the U.S. government supports the dictatorship in Bahrain while opposing the Libyan and Syrian dictatorships. Thus, not only does U.S. foreign aid flow into the Bahrain dictatorship, the U.S. military also has a major base there.
The Bahrain dictatorship is accusing those 20 doctors of participating in anti-government protests in Bahrain. Guess what type of court the doctors are being tried in. You got it: a military tribunal, just like those employed by the Pentagon at Guantanamo Bay.
It probably won’t surprise you to know that the doctors are accusing Bahrain’s military of torturing them while in custody and forcing confessions out of them — and that the military is denying it.
The tribunal is actually a special national-security court that was established last March as part of the emergency rule that the dictatorship imposed on the country to deal with the anti-government protests. Emergency rule essentially means martial law, with the military wielding the power to protect “national security” by establishing “order and stability” within the country.
Not surprisingly, in previous prosecutions in Bahrain’s national-security court, defendants have been charged with “terrorism.” Moreover, since the trials pertain to “national security,” some of the proceedings have been held in secret.
Well, of course it does. All this is familiar ground for Americans, who have seen the Pentagon under both President Bush and President Obama engage in this same sort of conduct.
Consider, for example, the Pentagon’s military tribunals. Are they any different in principle from those employed in Bahrain? Consider also the circumstances under which the Pentagon’s tribunals came into existence — during the emergency known as 9/11.
As in Bahrain, many of the accused have been tortured by U.S. military personnel while in the custody of the military or the CIA. Of course, oftentimes the U.S. military authorities take the same position as their Bahrain counterparts — that they don’t torture and that the defendants are lying.
While the Bahrain dictatorship recently lifted its emergency rule, 11 years after the 9/11 attacks the U.S. military still wields the authority to take the American people (and foreigners) into custody as suspected terrorists in the global war on terrorism — the authority to them with water-boarding, sensory deprivation, and other “harsh-interrogation” techniques — and the authority to hold them indefinitely without trial. Why, the Pentagon and the CIA can now even assassinate Americans whom they label terrorists.
Indeed, about the same time that Bahrain was recently lifting its emergency rule, the U.S. Congress was renewing the USA Patriot Act for another four years. And yesterday, the New York Times reported that the FBI is expanding the authority of its 14,000 agents to monitor the activities of Americans who are even not suspected of breaking the law.
By the way, Bahrain and the United States aren’t the only ones to employ special courts to deal with acts of suspected terrorism. After the Reichstag Fire trials in which some of the accused terrorists were acquitted by the regular German courts, Adolf Hitler established what was known as the “People’s Court,” a special national-security court to deal with cases of terrorism and treason, one in which the chances of any suspected terrorist getting off were virtually nil.
Is it any wonder that the president and the Pentagon continue to partner with and support dictators in the Middle East? I don’t think so. When it comes to emergency dictatorial powers, they have lots in common.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Restoring Faith in a Free-Market Healthcare System
The New York Times’ account of Cuban cyclist Damian Lopez Alfonso could help Americans regain their faith in a free-market healthcare system.
When he was 13, Lopez was electrocuted while trying to retrieve a kite caught in some power lines. Doctors were able to save his life but not his forearms. His face was also horribly disfigured.
Notwithstanding the loss of both his forearms, Lopez became an avid cyclist. The handlebars on his bicycle have to be turned upwards, which enables him to steer, change gears, and brake with his elbows.
Despite his handicaps, the 34-year-old Lopez has won cycling races at home in Cuba. Next month he’ll compete in a race in Canada, and he hopes to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
What does all this have to do with restoring Americans’ faith in a free-market healthcare system?
According to the Times, as Lopez’s situation has become increasingly publicized, “riders from as far away as California and Germany have sent money, and companies including Fuji, Shimano and a prosthesis maker, Hanger, have provided state-of-the-art products that will help him ride in the standard position so he can compete at an elite level.”
That’s not all.
When Lopez travelled to New York for medical tests and four months of reconstructive surgery and being fitted for prosthetic arms, New Yorker cyclists “donated their time, money and spare bedrooms to help him in the city…. One rider provided the use of a car service to get Mr. Alfonso around town; another lent him an old iPhone; several have acted as translators on doctor visits; still others have made small cash donations totaling $8,000 to support him during his stay.”
What about Lopez’s medical treatment? Ordinarily it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Guess how much it’s costing him. Nothing! His medical treatment is being provided to him entirely for free.
That is what life is supposed to be all about. That is the spirit of voluntary charity and good will toward others on which America was founded.
Unlike Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, and income taxation, the help provided to Lopez is voluntary. No one goes to jail for refusing to help him. The help that is provided to him is genuine charity given that it comes from the willing hearts of people who want to help.
Sometimes I wonder how many Americans today, especially young people, realize that there was no Medicare and Medicaid — i.e., coerced, government healthcare — for more than 150 years after our nation was founded. People were free to keep everything they earned (they didn’t believe in income taxation either), and they had the freedom to manage their own healthcare (and everything else).
Equally important, prior to Medicare and Medicaid, healthcare costs were reasonably priced, given that the federal government wasn’t involved in the process. Moreover, healthcare prices weren’t soaring every decade as they have been ever since Medicare and Medicaid were enacted.
How did the truly poor get healthcare before Medicare and Medicaid? In the same way that Damian Lopez Alfonso got it — through the voluntary efforts of people who cared, including physicians, hospitals, and donors.
Whenever libertarians bring up the idea of repealing Medicare and Medicaid, what is the all-too-common response of modern-day statists? “Oh, people will die in the streets without socialized healthcare! Nobody except me will help the poor! Who cares if the nation goes bankrupt as long as we have our free healthcare?”
That’s what socialism has done to Americans. It has terribly damaged their faith in themselves, in others, in freedom and free markets, and in God.
But nothing is irreparable, and there is nothing like freedom to restore the deeper spirit of charity that exists within mankind.
When we see the outpouring of help for a man like Damian Lopez Alfonso — a citizen of another country, a communist country whose regime is antagonistic toward the U.S. government — it helps to remind us of that there is nothing to fear from the repeal of Medicare and Medicaid and the restoration of a free-market healthcare system to our land.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Exit Afghanistan and Dismantle the Empire
One of the U.S. Empire’s big arguments for continuing to occupy Afghanistan is the fear that the Taliban might regain control over the country. The idea is that the Taliban might harbor al Qaeda or other terrorist groups who would use the country to plan terrorist attacks in the United States.
Is that a valid argument for continuing a brutal 10-year occupation of the country, one that continues killing and maiming people?
For one thing, there are plenty of regimes around the world that are antagonistic toward the U.S. Empire. Consider: Cuba. North Korea. Venezuela. Burma. Syria. Iran.
What difference does it make that such regimes don’t like the Empire? Are any of them invading and occupying the United States? Sure, the citizens living under such countries are living under brutal tyrannical regimes but that is obviously something completely different from such regimes’ invading and occupying the United States.
Is the fact that a foreign regime is antagonistic toward the U.S. Empire sufficient justification for the Empire to invade that country, oust the regime, and install a new, pro-U.S. regime?
Absolutely not. That makes the U.S. Empire the aggressor power in the conflict — the power waging what the Nuremberg Tribunal called a “war of aggression, ” a war crime.
But, it is said, the Taliban participated in the 9/11 attacks by harboring Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorists.
Actually, the Taliban did not participate in the 9/11 attacks. If the U.S. Empire had even one iota of evidence supporting that thesis, does anyone honestly believe that President George H.W. Bush would have gone to the United Nations to seek permission to invade Afghanistan? Of course not. When another nation-state attacks the United States, like Japan did in 1941, you can rest assured that the United States is going to defend itself without seeking permission of the United Nations.
Don’t forget, also, that the U.S. government furnished millions of dollars inforeign aid to Afghanistan prior to the 9/11 attacks.
So, what is the Empire’s complain about the Taliban? No, not that it was and would be a tyrannical regime. After all, don’t forget that the U.S. Empire loves tyrannical regimes, so long as they are loyal to the Empire. Consider: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran (under the Shah), Iraq (under Saddam Hussein in the 1980s), Bahrain, Yemen, Chile (under Pinochet), Argentina (under military rule), and Pakistan (under Musharraf), to name a few.
The Empire’s beef with the Taliban is that it refused to comply with President Bush’s unconditional surrender demand for Osama bin Laden. Even though there was no extradition treaty with Afghanistan, Bush demanded bin Laden’s extradition anyway … or else. The Taliban was willing to deliver bin Laden to an independent tribunal upon the presentation of evidence indicating bin Laden’s participation in the 9/11 attacks.
But Bush made it clear that his demand was unconditional. He refused to show any evidence showing bin Laden’s complicity in the attacks and refused to permit bin Laden to be tried by an independent tribunal.
That’s why Bush’s forces invaded Afghanistan.
Yet, today, bin Laden is dead. Thus, there is obviously no possibility that the Taliban, if it regains power, could continue to refuse to extradite bin Laden to the United States for trial.
Don’t forget also that the root of anti-American terrorism is the U.s. Empire’s presence in the Middle East. End the presence, and the terrorist threat dissipates, as does the harboring rationale.
Is there a possibility that the Taliban could conspire with terrorists to attack the United States. Of course, just as there is the possibility that the regimes in Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Iran, Burma, and others, even China and Vietnam, could do the same thing.
But such a possibility does not warrant the continuation of the 10-year occupation of Afghanistan, an occupation that produces more anger and hatred with each new bombing and killing, all in support of a brutal U.S.-supported dictator who owes his power to U.S. military forces and fraudulent “elections.“
Is the possibility that suspected terrorists could live in Afghanistan if the Taliban were to regain power a sufficient reason to continue the occupation?
Consider the fact that a man named Luis Posada Carriles lives here in the United States. He’s the man that Venezuela accuses of masterminding the terrorist bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner over Venezuelan skies, killing dozens of innocent people. Even though there is an extradition agreement between the United States and Venezuela, the U.S. government continues to refuse to grant Venezuela’s extradition demand.
Does the U.S. government’s harboring of Carriles justify a military attack on the United States? Of course not. I think most Americans would say that if Venezuela started bombing sites where Carriles was supposedly located, they would consider Venezuela to have started a war of aggression against the United States.
It is obviously in the interests of the U.S. Empire, especially the Pentagon, CIA, and the military-industrial complex, to fill Americans with fear and dread. When the citizenry are afraid, they think less rationally and are more inclined to go along with the warfare-state’s lies and deceptions to maintain their grip on power and taxpayer money.
No nation on earth has even the remotest military capability or even the interest to invade and occupy the United States. The terrorist threat against the United States is rooted in what the U.S. Empire is doing overseas, including its decade-old deadly occupation of Afghanistan. The Empire is bankrupting our nation with spending and debt.
This would be an opportune time to bring all the troops home and discharge them, close all the foreign military bases, and terminate all foreign aid to everyone. This would be a great time to dismantle the Empire and restore a limited-government republic to our land.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
What Better Time than Now to End the Drug War?
The Pentagon and the military-industrial complex and other drug-war proponents must be reeling over recent reports on the federal fiasco known as the drug war.
Two of the reports were issued by the U.S. government itself. According to theLos Angeles Times, those two reports show that “as drug cartels wreak murderous havoc from Mexico to Panama, the Obama administration is unable to show that the billions of dollars spent in the war on drugs have significantly stemmed the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States.”
The other report was issued by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which consisted of former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volker, former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo, former UN Secretary Kofi Anan, and others. That report concluded:
Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won.
This sure sounds like a no-brainer to me. After all, the U.S. government is up against its debt ceiling. Its spending far exceeds its tax revenues. It needs to slash spending. So, why not simply abolish the drug war, immediately?
Not only would drug legalization save the government (i.e., the taxpayers) billions of dollars, it would also put all the drug cartels and drug gangs out of business, immediately.
It would also mean no more drug-war death and destruction, such as the 40,000 dead people in Mexico in the past 5 years alone.
It would mean no more drug-war corruption (i.e., bribery) with judges, prosecutors, and law-enforcement personnel.
Forty years of failure, death, and destruction. Who could possibly advocate that the drug war be continued, especially with financial bankruptcy looming on the horizon due to out-of-control federal spending?
The Pentagon, that’s who. And contractors in the military-industrial complex too. They are among the drug-war’s biggest cheerleaders.
Money. Big money.
According to the Times, in the past 5 years, U.S. contractors have been paid more than $3 billion to help train Latin American prosecutors and police to fight the drug war. The article states, “The majority of U.S. counter-narcotics contracts are awarded to five companies: DynCorp, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ITT and ARINC.”
In a time of ever-growing federal expenditures and a debt ceiling that was approaching, “Counter-narcotics contract spending increased 32% over the five-year period, from $482 million in 2005 to $635 million in 2009. DynCorp, based in Falls Church, Va., received the largest total, $1.1 billion.”
Moreover, “The Department of Defense has spent $6.1 billion since 2005 to help detect planes and boats heading to the U.S. with drug payloads, as well as on surveillance and other intelligence operations.”
Unfortunately, despite 40 years of failure and with financial bankruptcy on the horizon, many drug warriors just won’t let go. According to the Times article, Vanda Felbab-Brown of the Brookings Institute says the solution is to have the military, rather than private contractors, train foreign armies and police. James Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman, says the Defense Department’s drug war efforts “have been the most successful and cost-effective programs” in decades.
You might be tempted to ask, “What are these people smoking?” After all, look at what Mexican military involvement in the drug war has wrought in that country — 40,000 deaths in the last five years.
But there’s another thing to consider. The Posse Comitatus law prohibits the U.S. military from engaging in law-enforcement operations here in the United States. That law reflects a judgment of the American people that having the military enforce domestic law is a bad idea. We want the police, not the troops, to be enforcing criminal law.
Such being the case, then why are we sending the military into Latin America to do what is considered a bad thing here for Americans? If it’s bad for Americans, then it’s equally bad for Latin Americans. The U.S. military has no more business enforcing the drug war in foreign countries than it does enforcing the drug war here within the United States.
Forty years ago, drug warriors could argue that victory in the drug war was just a few years away or even right around the corner. Today, that argument is just plain hogwash. If they’ve haven’t won the drug war after 40 years of vicious failure, another five years of death, destruction, and corruption aren’t going to make any difference whatsoever. The only thing more drug warfare will do is enrich the coffers of the military, the military industrial complex, the judges, prosecutors, cops, and drug lords, while accelerating the federal government’s move toward bankruptcy.
What better time to end the drug-war fiasco than now?
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Let’s Admit It: Enacting Medicare Was a Mistake
The ongoing fiasco in healthcare shows why it was so wrong to have enacted Medicare in the first place.
For one thing, Medicare reflects perfectly the mindset of dependency that the welfare state has inculcated in the American people, who have been born and raised under a culture of welfare-statism. All too many Americans are absolutely convinced that they could not survive without Medicare. The thought of repealing, not reforming, Medicare is so terrifying to them that they cannot even rationally discuss the subject. In their minds, if Medicare were repealed, elderly parents and grandparents would soon be dying in the streets of untreated infections and illnesses.
As they grow up in a culture of Medicare and welfare-statism, Americans are trained to look upon the federal government as a great benefactor, as a parent, as a friend, even as a god to some people. In the statist mind, Medicare is people’s lifeline to longevity and health. Given that the government can terminate this lifeline at any time, it is not surprising then that all too many seniors are reluctant to challenge the government at a fundamental level, such as its warfare-state functions. The underlying subconscious fear is that since their lives purportedly depend on the continuation of the government’s Medicare program, people cannot afford to risk sudden termination of the program by challenging what the government’s military empire is doing overseas.
Secondly, Medicare reflects the extent to which Americans have lost faith in freedom and the free market. This is precisely why virtually all attempts to resolve the healthcare crisis, even by many free-market advocates, involve some sort of reform proposal that will keep the basic Medicare program intact. The reformers, whether free-market or statist, simply cannot bring themselves to believe that healthcare can be entrusted to the free market.
What would a truly free market in healthcare mean? It would mean a total separation of healthcare and the state. What does that mean? It means a total repeal, not a reform, of Medicare and Medicaid. It also means a repeal of occupational licensure laws — that is laws that require official government permission to provide healthcare. (See “Medical Licensure” by Milton Friedman.) It also means a repeal of all healthcare regulations, especially those that prevent or inhibit interstate providing of healthcare insurance. It would also entail the abolition of all taxes that are needed to pay for the ever-burgeoning Medicare and Medicaid expenses.
The free market provides the best of everything. Deep down, everyone knows that, but call for a total separation of healthcare and the state (as our ancestors did with religion and the state) and all too many Americans start quaking. That’s what the welfare state has done to the American people. It has severely damaged their self-confidence, self-reliance, and faith in freedom, free markets, themselves, others, and God.
How would the truly poor get their healthcare in a totally free market? The same way they got it from 1787 to 1964, when this immoral and destructive socialistic program was imported to our land — by purchasing it themselves individually or through voluntary membership in associations or through voluntary charity, especially from healthcare providers themselves.
I grew up in what the federal government termed the poorest city in the United States, Laredo, Texas. Before Medicare, doctors’ offices in Laredo would be filled every day with patients, most of whom were desperately poor. I never heard of one doctor turning away even one single patient for inability to pay. Yet, doctors in Laredo were among the wealthiest people in town. The money they received from people who could pay subsidized those who couldn’t. And it was all voluntary.
My dentist here in Virginia belongs to a private group of dentists who provide free dental care for poor people. They take turns each week providing free dental care to the poor. There is no Medicare or Medicaid for dental care. No one forces my dentist and his friends to help the poor and needy. They do it because they want to do it and because they think it’s right.
That’s what genuine charity is all about. It’s not about coercion and compulsion, which is what Medicare and Medicaid are based on. It’s about purely voluntary actions, which is what freedom is based on.
Thirdly, consider the silent war that accompanies Medicare and every other welfare-state program. It is a war between those who want free healthcare and those who are being forced to pay for it. With Medicare, elderly people are demanding that their healthcare needs be provided for free.
But everyone knows that free isn’t really free. Hospitals, pharmaceuticals, and doctors, along with all the medical personnel, have to be paid. The money to pay for all this has to come from somewhere. With Medicare, the money is coming from people who are working for living, especially young people.
Thus, Medicare involves an intergenerational war, one in which seniors are demanding the right to take money out of the bank accounts of other people, namely the working class, including young people who are have a very difficult time starting out in life.
Perhaps the most revealing part of the healthcare debate is the extent to which Americans are wedded to this socialistic program. Even though everyone acknowledges that Medicare is playing a large role in leading our nation into the abyss of bankruptcy, all too many people are still unwilling to let it go. Combine that mindset of fear and dependency with the willingness to wage a financial war against people’s children, grandchildren, and their friends, and you start to get a sense of what a horrible mistake it was for Americans to have embraced this insidious program almost 50 years ago.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The Washington Post Condemns the Libertarian Dance Protestors
Last week the Washington Post published an editorial condemning libertarians for violating a rule against dancing at the Jefferson Memorial. The Post said that the violation of the rule really didn’t constitute real civil disobedience because it didn’t involve a protest in support of some grand and glorious cause.
Permit me to explain to the Post what else might be going on here.
It isn’t so much that libertarians care about some ridiculous rule against dancing at government-owned memorials but rather that libertarians are sick and tired of the entire regulated-society, welfare-state, and warfare-empire way of life that statists have foisted upon our land.
That way of life necessarily entails hundreds of thousands of stupid rules and regulations that interfere with people’s peaceful pursuits, as well as the massive confiscation of people’s hard-earned money to redistribute to others, including Middle East dictators, and to support an overseas military empire that kills and maims people, including children, on a regular basis in unconstitutional (i.e., undeclared) wars in faraway lands.
But we all know what happens if libertarians engage in civil disobedience against the things that go the heart of the welfare-warfare state. The federal government, with the full support of the mainstream statist press, will come down hard on the protestors with the same vicious spirit that guides the U.S. government’s Middle East dictatorial partners.
Consider drug laws, quite possibly the most inane, immoral, failed, and destructive government program in history, even more so than Prohibition against booze.
What would happen if libertarians protested the drug war by appearing on the National Mall and smoking dope or snorting cocaine? Would not the D.C. cops go ballistic? Of course they would. They would swoop in against those peaceful protestors with batons and tasers and haul them away to the hoosegow. And then to teach the drug-war protestors a lesson, D.C.’s federal judges would throw the book at them with maximum sentences and fines.
Never mind that drug users would not be initiating violence against anyone and that, at most, they would be hurting only themselves with drug consumption. The statists would respond that the state owns people as much as it owns its memorials and thus can punish them all it wants for engaging in purely self-destructive behavior.
Better yet, what would happen to libertarians who protested D.C.’s tyrannical gun-control laws, which rival those in Syria, Egypt, and other Middle East dictatorships, by openly carrying firearms to defend themselves inside the murder capital of the world? We all know what would happen. The D.C. cops and the federal cops would arrest them immediately, perhaps even turn them over to the military as suspected terrorists, where they could be incarcerated forever without trial and waterboarded 150 times or so. In those cases where the president and the military permitted the federal courts to handle the prosecution, there is no doubt that the protestors would be facing several years in a federal penitentiary, again to teach them a lesson.
Consider such socialist programs as Social Security and Medicare, both of which are bankrupting our nation and inculcating in people a mindset of hopeless dependency on the federal government. Suppose young libertarians send a protest letter to the feds on April 15 stating that they are hereby renouncing all claims to these two welfare-state programs when they reach retirement age and, in return, are no longer going to be paying the taxes that fund them.
What would happen to those protestors? Scared to the death at the prospect that their beloved welfare state would have diminished funding, the feds would quickly convene a grand jury, secure criminal indictments, and prosecute the protestors for felony refusal to pay their just share of federal taxes. “You don’t have a choice with respect to your retirement and healthcare,” they would be told. “This is a free country and you’re free to do what we tell you to do. You’re part of the Social Security and Medicare system, like or not.” At the same time, the feds would be seizing their property in civil proceedings, with garnishments, levies, attachments, and foreclosures.
What would happen if libertarians were to protest the unconstitutional wars in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and who knows where else by refusing to pay their federal income taxes? Again, the feds would go on the attack, viciously. The IRS would claim that the protestors owe 10 times more than they really do and start seizing assets without any judicial review whatsoever. Federal prosecutors would secure criminal indictments and convictions. U.S. Marshalls, and if necessary, the FBI and the ATF, and possibly with the assistance of the military, would enforce judicial orders. Just ask the survivors of Waco and Ruby Ridge.
Most everyone acknowledges that America’s many wars are being waged without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. While statists seem overly concerned about enforcing the rule against dancing at the Jefferson Memorial, isn’t it a shame that all too many of them don’t have the same level of concern for violations of constitutional rules — that is, the rules that we the people have imposed on government officials. In the mind of the statist, the Constitution’s declaration-of-war rule imposed on the president is picayune compared to the gravity of the federal government’s no-dancing rule imposed on the people.
The price of protesting against core features of the welfare-warfare, regulated-society way of life is obviously very high, which is why libertarians might be reluctant to engage in civil disobedience by violating them. But protesting against a stupid rule against dancing helps to let off steam without risk of severe punishment, and it puts statists in the ridiculous position of calling for harsh enforcement of one of its stupid rules. Of course, if the feds were to make dancing a felony offense carrying a mandatory-minimum sentence of 10 years, libertarians might well find some other stupid rule to protest.
By the way, when the dancers returned to the Jefferson Memorial to protest the arrests for illegal dancing that had been made a few days before, this time the feds left them alone. That’s a victory for common sense, a rarity in D.C.
As a aside, wouldn’t it be nice if the mainstream media was as vigorous about going after federal officials for plunging our nation into bankruptcy, moral debauchery, and a loss of liberty, while wreaking death and destruction overseas with lies and deception and violations of the Constitution, as it is investigating sex lies and exclaiming against violations of a stupid rule against dancing?
Monday, June 6, 2011
Free John Edwards and Repeal Campaign-Finance Regulatory Nonsense
With the ridiculous criminal indictment of former presidential candidate John Edwards, this would be a good time to call for the repeal of all restrictions on the right of people to donate as much money as they want to political candidates for whatever reason they want.
During his presidential campaign, Edwards learned that his mistress was pregnant and wished to keep it secret. He approached a couple of wealthy people, who gave him around million dollars to help hide the affair and the pregnancy.
Federal prosecutors are now using campaign-finance regulations to go after Edwards. They’re saying that the money was actually an illegal campaign contribution. How? Because, they say, the money advanced Edwards’ campaign by keeping the affair secret. Edwards, on the other hand, claims that he was trying to keep the affair secret from his ailing wife.
The prosecution confirms, once again, what I have been writing for years about the risks of living in a highly regulated society. The vast regulations under which we live, along with the income tax code, are so numerous, so complex, so nebulous that the feds can go after anyone they want whenever they want because it’s always easy to find some regulation or tax-code provision that someone is in violation of.
We have all become so accustomed to all this campaign-finance regulatory nonsense that hardly anyone ever challenges its very existence.
Why shouldn’t a person be free to donate any amount of money he wants to a candidate for whatever reason he wants? It’s his money, isn’t it? If people are upset over that, they’re free to vote for someone else.
By the same token, why shouldn’t a candidate be free to accept any amount of money he wants from a person? If people are upset over that, they’re free to vote for someone else.
If a person wishes to keep his campaign donations confidential, why shouldn’t he be free to do that? If voters are upset over that, they’re free to vote for someone else.
Would you like to know the real reason for these campaign-donation restrictions? No, it’s not to eliminate the influence of big money from politics. We all know that despite all the regulations, big money has continued to find ways to influence Democrat and Republican officeholders and candidates.
The real reason for limits on campaign donations is to inhibit candidates who aren’t part of the mainstream statist political machinery, such as independent and third-party candidates — the types of candidates who might run insurgent campaigns against the establishment. By limiting the amount of money that such candidates can receive from a few donors, the powers-that-be ensure that insurgent candidates can’t get too much traction and that the statist welfare-warfare party (which is divided into two wings — Democrat and Republican) maintains its monopoly grip on power.
Recall Gene McCarthy’s 1968 insurgent campaign within the Democrat Party against President Lyndon Johnson, the incumbent. This was before there were limits on the amount of money people could donate to candidates. Thanks to large donations from a relative small number of donors who shared his antiwar views, McCarthy was able to run an effective campaign against Johnson in the New Hampshire primary, which ultimately led to Johnson’s decision to drop out of the presidential race.
The establishment wanted to be sure that that never happened again. So, they enacted campaign-donation limits under the guise of protecting the American people from corrupt politicians who were beholden to big-money interests. But as we all know, despite the thousands of complex campaign regulations there are still plenty of corrupt politicians around who are beholden to big-money interests.
Consider, say, Libertarian Party candidates who don’t have much money but who nonetheless wish to run effective campaigns against the statism of the two major parties. They don’t have the big base of financial support that the two parties have, making it difficult for them to raise millions of dollars in $2,300 donations from thousands of people.
But there are many wealthy donors in the libertarian movement who might well be willing to donate a large amount of their money — tens of thousands of dollars or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to a few LP candidates. What would be wrong with that? Yet, the law precludes them from doing so, conveniently ensuring the continuation of the monopoly hold that the statists maintain on the political system.
What Edwards did was shameful but it wasn’t criminal. What is criminal are the thousands of statist regulations and tax codes under which all of us live, along with the people who enact and enforce them.
Friday, June 3, 2011
The Debt-Ceiling Charade
Let’s face it: As I have been repeatedly predicting for the last several months, the Republicans are going to cave when it comes to the raising the debt ceiling. Republicans always cave when it comes to principle. Their caving stretches all the way back to the New Deal, when they realized that to please voters, they would have to cave and embrace the welfare-state way of life that now threatens our nation with bankruptcy.
The debt-ceiling “debate” is all about political posturing. It’s designed so that Republican congressmen can go home and say, “I was against raising the debt ceiling … before I voted in favor of raising the debt ceiling.”
Oh, sure, they’ll get some kind of agreement by President Obama and his big-spending cohorts to cut spending sometime in the future. But at the end of this charade, the ceiling will be lifted, enabling the government to continue adding to the mountain of debt which the American people are ultimately responsible for repaying.
What will happen after the debt ceiling is raised? The same thing that happened the last time the ceiling was raised and the times before that.
No, government officials won’t begin to slash spending in order to prepare for the time the ceiling is hit. They will continue spending and borrowing to their heart’s content, knowing that they’ve now got a new “ceiling’ that won’t come around for a year or two.
They also know that when the ceiling is hit the next time, the same thing will happen again. The mainstream press, which will have supported every big-spending program from now until then, will begin exclaiming, once again, “We have to raise the debt ceiling. It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.” There will be all sorts of handwringing and fake debates among Republicans and Democrats, after which they will raise the ceiling once again, adding once again to the federal mountain of debt that hangs on the backs of every American.
Meanwhile, European countries are showing us what lies at the end of this road. Many of their governments are broke or going broke. Why? Because for decades they’ve been spending more money than what they’ve been bringing in with taxes. Spending on what? On welfare! You know — free retirement, free health care, free education, free everything. And today, their welfare-state chickens are coming home to roost.
Because, you see, when they were spending more than what they were bringing in, they were borrowing the difference, year after year, until it finally got to a point where tax revenues weren’t sufficient to cover the debt and the spending. And there isn’t enough private wealth to tax. Busted!
While it’s true that the United States has a much bigger financial and economic base than European countries, don’t forget that we have an added factor here in the United States. We don’t have just a welfare state, we also have a warfare state — a giant overseas military empire whose voracious appetite rivals that of the welfare state.
Just like in Europe, nobody wants to give up his share of the largess. Not the military, not the military-industrial complex, not the foreign dictators, not the recipients of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm-subsidies, and education grants, and certainly not the beneficiaries of the drug war.
No one wants to give up his dole. And so the Titanic just keeps going faster and faster toward the iceberg.
As the welfare state collapses in Europe and as the welfare-warfare state collapses here in the United States, let’s just hope that Americans don’t move toward more dictatorship to deal with the oncoming crises. Let’s hope that they instead recognize that the root of the problem is statism and that the solution to the problem is libertarianism. After all, unlike the Republicans, everyone knows by now that when it comes to principle we libertarians don’t cave, not even for the sake of votes.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
A reader asked if we would post online reader feedback on my article “An Open Letter to the Troops: You’re Not Defending Our Freedoms.” Here it is:
Thank you for your great article on the troops aren’t fighting for freedom. I couldn’t have said it any better. I don’t know what it is with Americans that use this mantra of support the troops,freedom is not free,thank you for keeping us free etc etc.
My question to so many is how does killing innocent people in another country create freedom?Yet they are also screaming about the loss of freedom here these days so I will ask them how many more should we kill in Iraq or Afghanistan to change this? The indoctrination in America beyond anything that goes on an any other country.
I will send out your article to all those arm chair war supporters.
Thank you once again.
This is exactly my feelings. However I feel that all tho Vietnam was an unjust war we as regular people didn’t have the chance to say NO because of the draft an if you didn’t serve you faced a lot of trouble. Only the rich kids were able to avoid it. It was the start of my generations distaste for our Military orders since some didn’t have to go. Many of my friends had to go and die for nothing or come home terribly messed up health wise an mentally. It wasn’t like the past world wars where Americans all wanted to help an do what ever it took. I am not a good letter writer but I wanted you to know how I felt. When my son was in High School an the recruiters said how they wanted to help him turn into a man my response was leave him alone his father already served 2 tours an it didn’t make him any more a man an it left him with a lot of trauma that he couldn’t talk about.
Thank you for your article.
I found your open letter to the troops very intriguing. As a recently discharged veteran, one would think I would argue tooth and nail. However, it may surprise many Americans that most soldiers (that I know of anyway) do not think we are defending freedom or making the world safe for democracy. In fact, when we talk amongst ourselves about why we joined, there are generally two answers: for the college money or for a steady, well-paying job in order to take care of a young family.
To that extent, addressing a letter to a current soldier and repeatedly saying “your invasion” is woefully shortsighted. Most military members had not even reached puberty by the time either of the current wars started. It is as much “their invasion” as Desert Storm is theirs. You also referred to several military actions spanning several decades and political administrations, yet did not seem to lay any fault to them. Instead, your letter seemed to say the military, particularly the lower-echelon troops, holds sole responsibility in the decision to go to war. Thankfully for our Republic, that is surely not the case. I, for one, believe that in a democratic republic, we are each responsible for our government. If the government, and by extension the military, does something that goes against the collective morals of our country, we are all to blame.
I certainly won’t argue, nor would any of my comrades, that service members are ALL good people or “patriots”. Like any profession or social group, there are the morally corrupt service members. Just like there are corrupt cops, politicians, and (as I’m sure you’re familiar with) lawyers, there are also morally corrupt service members. And while there are times when I and others have to do regrettable things, I hope that you do not think us all morally corrupt. Likewise, I am aware that attorneys do things which go against their judgement, but do not think that all attorneys are morally bankrupt.
After all this I cannot find the purpose for your letter. If you are trying to persuade military members from re-enlisting or some such act, why choose such an accusatory and aggresive tone? If your goal was to instead influence the public, why address the letter to the troops, whom are in generally high regard with the public? In the end, you offered no solutions, ways forward, or even friendly advice for troops. So what exactly are you trying to accomplish?
As a former Libertarian, I believe I understand the origins of the letter. Especially with all the aggrandizing that occurs around Memorial Day, it is understandable that making your “uncompromising moral case” becomes frustrating. While I would never ask you or anyone else to change their beliefs, I do believe that the attitude with which you make your case is your and your party’s defeat. Instead of making your case in a rational and even tone, your diatribe instead alienates the reader from you and your purpose.
As an advocate for personal freedom, I hope that in the future you are more capable of using persuasive argument to state your case instead of verbally attacking young Americans just trying to survive.
gutsy, and right on point. thanks
just finished reading your article “An Open Letter to the Troops: You’re Not Defending Our Freedoms”, and I want to thank you for this accurate and well written article. I agree completely with your observations and reasoning. Sadly, the American public – particularly the Conservative faction has been completely brainwashed regarding the Warrior Nation we have become. It seems that no one bothers to think these actions through to identify the real costs associated with this endless regime change mindset. Costs like death, destruction, loss of respect and a whole lot of money. Unfortunately, when I discuss this issue with my friends they are unable to see the obvious negative aspects of this mindset. As a veteran, I have seen war (Vietnam) and the negative consequences that result. I consider myself a patriotic American and a conservative, but our current path is certainly not value added to anyone or any nation. However, it greatly benefits the military industrial complex and those that supply it. Which is why it continues Personally, I believe in a strong defense, and a mind your own business approach in our dealings overseas. I feel that our nation would be far better off if we focused on restoring freedom in this country instead of destroying it in others.
In closing, I enjoy reading your articles as I view you as a voice of freedom. I urge you to continue writing in the hope that someday the citizens of this country will finally see the damage done by the path we are on and take back this country, and restore the freedom the USA was built upon.
Excellent letter! It will probably never appear in Stars and Stripes, but it certainly should!
As an “alumni” of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 7th Infantry Division, and the XVIII Airborne Corps and the father of two career military men (both now retired, thank God!), I can tell you that you are absolutely 100% correct. Thank you for writing the truth in the midst of a blizzard of insane lies.
I know you zeroed in on current affairs but killing Cubans, Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese, Germans or Japanese also did nothing to secure our freedoms. I truly believe that 9/11 was a silent coup carried on by rogue agents within our Warfare State.
Thank you for your straight forward open letter. Bumper sticker slogans have replaced thinking brains in our society. I am a fiscal and social conservative but 99% of my debates are over war. The people that surround me day after day think I’m a left wing liberal. I don’t subscribe to right left arguments. I try and understand liberty and war is no friend of liberty. My wifes uncle was a marine and he died in Khe Sahn in 1967. Although I think his intentions were noble, the government threw his life away. He died for no reason. How sad.
Thanks for being brave, being a patriot and letting me know I’m not alone.
Absolutely SUPERBLY written, Jacob ! ! ! Thank You!!! I’ve just forwarded this far and wide, starting with my sheriff, county commissioners and state district reps……and on to many other media outlets, etc.
I can’t thank you enough!!!!!
**** I applaud – and agree with – your open letter to the troops. It seems in today’s political atmosphere it is blasphemous to speak the truth in matters such as these so it takes a good deal of fortitude to publish a letter such as yours.
I was in the military for ten years and experienced not only combat tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but also spent a year in Korea. It was a unique experience to see what an alleged brief war actually turns into. The fact that the U.S. continues to occupy innumerable nations across the globe is eerily reminiscent of the Roman and British empires.
My experiences overseas has proven to me that your letter rings true and I believe anyone who would open their minds would come to the same conclusions. I lost many good friends to these pointless and unjustifiable “wars” and am reminded every day where true freedom comes from.
Keep up the good work.
As a soldier, separated as of April of this year, who served two tours in Afghanistan, I agree and appreciate your open letter. I am a member of the Oathkeepers, have been since close to their inception. Many of my fellow soldiers are beginning to open their eyes and understand everything you mentioned in this article. If only we had more power to make changes. Just before the memorial weekend, I got the news that the sister unit that replaced our unit in Afghanistan lost six people in an IED. I still don’t know the names of the deceased, but i still have several friends in that unit. Now their families have to live on without them. Children will have to grow up not knowing their fathers.
It was a horrible feeling when I came home and my young daughter didn’t know who I was and hid behind her mother as though I were an evil stranger trying to steal her away. Some days I wish I could regain my innocences of war and the death associated with it.
Thank you again for your open letter. I have already forwarded to every soldier I know as well as my neoconservative father. We’ll open their eyes, even if we have to do it one at a time….
Are you going to post any of the responses? I think there would be some interesting ones.
Thank you for so eloquently and briefly summarizing what I believe is the most important political truth of our times: at the root of political evil are the government gunslingers. I have believed for some time that we need to stop blabbing about the politicians and “decision-makers” and face the simple fact that every individual is a decision-maker and those who decide to murder and rule by force in the name of authority are the evil ones. We need to condemn the soldiers and police. We need to address them and their evil directly, as you have done. Politicians are their hand-puppets, their spokespersons, not their rulers. The rulers are those with the guns, not those with the rhetoric. Thanks again for a great article.
I just read your: An Open Letter to the Troops: You’re Not Defending Our Freedoms. Amen! I couldn’t have said it better.
article was nothing but eye-opening. Its interesting to see a new take on the whole “War on Terrorism”; in my household the “war” has never been held in high regard but hearing it from that point of view is outstanding. We should have never gone over their and now we are paying for it 10 fold.
This quote has aided in the change; you make people think about what they are putting in their heads.
“Consider also what the U.S. government does to our freedoms here at home as a direct consequence of the terrorist threat that you, the troops, are producing over there. It uses that threat of terrorism to infringe upon our freedoms here at home! You know what I mean — the fondling at the airports, the 10-year-old Patriot Act, the illegal spying on Americans, the indefinite detention, the torture, the kangaroo tribunals, Gitmo, and the entire war on terrorism — all necessary, they tell us, to keep us safe from the terrorists — that is, the people you all are producing with your actions over there.”
Great article, but alas even if everyone in the military read it, only a minuscule number would ever be positively affected by it.
Your line, “the troops intentionally destroyed Iraq’s water and sewage facilities after a Pentagon study showed that this would help spread infectious illnesses among the Iraqi people.”
Do you have any ready references for that? I have no doubt of of the fact, but proving it to others is sometimes difficult. This was truly evil. But people in the States don’t care. It was far away place they can’t locate on a map and affected some number of faceless brown people.
Minor rabbit chase: Sort of similar to the “logic” of the fire bombing of Japan during WWII. I have read, somewhere, that Hiroshima and Nagaski were spared this fate so that they could be a “pure” sampling of the effects of the a-bombs. (BTW, if you have heard of this, references?)
Here’s a few more Desert Storm bombing facts. During the last of the bombing, B-52 crews were allowed to bomb targets of opportunity. Target changes were so frequent and confusing that they were given license to bomb pretty much whatever they wanted. Worst of all, these opportunity targets were mostly selected by correlating likely targets from a chart (aerial map) with radar returns. A radar return! If you have ever seen the radar display in a B-52, it’s quite primitive. That shiny blimp might be a power substation or it might not. Too bad, here comes 51 five hundred pound bombs. All of this from an altitude of 30000+ feet. We’re so brave. And to add insult to injury, we ran low on “slicks”, that is low drag bombs designed to be released at high altitude. The solution? Why tie the high drag fins of snake eye bombs back and let ‘er rip. No idea if these things hit what they were supposed to (probably not even close). No idea if they armed and exploded properly or merely hit the ground as a dud.
Afghanistan… I have spent literally hundreds of hours flying over Afghanistan. We’re chasing ghosts. And for what? So some some fat cat megalomaniacs can maybe make a few bucks selling someone else’s oil? How about so we can sell a few hundred billion dollars worth of poppy products while we’re at it.
Sorry if I blather on.
I’ve witnessed the destruction of a truck load of men. They were driving along a dirt road and had stopped on a side of hill near a building to smoke. They all were holding firearms and were instantly labeled as enemies. A B-1 dropped a bomb on them.
Also, listened on a radio as a helicopter chased some poor kid on a motor cycle at night. He was riding by himself down a dark road. It seemed kind of obvious to me that he was just out trying to enjoy a ride and perhaps thought riding at night would draw less attention from the American deliverers of freedom. This helicopter crew was chasing him using NVGs and kept asking permission to kill him. The poor kid even stopped and stared in the direction of this machine. He knew it was out there and chasing him! Never did find out what happened. I always hope he got away.
The “subjects” of Amerika (or perhaps Babylon?) fail to realize that if a regime is willing to senselessly kill and maim others it will gleefully do the same to its own.
I wish all military members would stop squandering their youth and resign or refuse to participate in the lies.
They’re not defending the country. They’re merely the mercenaries for some bankers and Wall Streeters .
God help us. We are an evil country.
I had a couple of tours in Vietnam. Couldn’t agree more with your article.
Thank you Mr. Hornberger for your courage in writing the piece.
I appreciate your insight and wish more of my friends and neighbors understood the serious trouble we are in as a nation.
Keep up the good work.
That’s disgusting our troops don’t follow orders they SERVE the United States Of America you know the country you hate so much. By the way if you dislike OUR country so much you don’t have to live here no one is forcing you, you ungrateful brat. You treat them like criminals while they sleep having night mares about they’re buddies, comrades, and civilians being mutilated, tortured, and killed. They live with that guilt and you don’t help you enforce it. Yet through all the crap you give them they treat you with respect. I don’t know how they don’t kill disgusting rats like you. You are vermin who spread disease of hate of our protecters and defenders. You go to Iraq, Afghanistan, And Pakistan and see what its like. You disgust me and I’m 12! And don’t say it’s because of fox news, I’m like this cause I have common sense,and you being a idiot is the communist news network or, CNN fault. Do this country a favor and LEAVE! God bless the US of A. And god bless the United Staes Armed Forces!!! And god bless even ungrateful rats like you!
Some of my Christian friends are the biggest purveyors of ” the troops are fighting for our freedoms”. And they finish it off with GOD BLESS AMERICA. I have chastised several in the last few days, asking them, How God is going to bless America for unprovoked wars that kill and maim innocent people, who did nothing to deserve it?” Mostly I get silence or ostracism.
This is a thought provoking piece. I am saving it to forward to anyone else who sends me similar blather.
I enjoy everything you write,
You article is right on the money. To make it short I have been posting and sending out both in emails and letters to the editor the following. It is also on my sign, in an abbreviated manner, that I have carried at various Tea Party rallies.
Military & Law Enforcement
Honor Your Oath
Defend the Constitution & The People
Not The Elite Ruling Criminal Class
Corrupt Politicians & Government
Thanks for writing such a brave and true letter to the troops!!
Unfortunately, the 9/11 blowback theory has been proved wrong by many years of terror opportunity but very few actual incidents.
Our national borders remain super porous. Anyone truly determined to enter this country and retaliate against Americans could have done so by now, yet there have been no successful attacks since the anthrax letters in 2001.
The question becomes: why?
If Muslim retaliation really were the major threat you claim it is, then why have they shown such amazing restraint? Why, even with so much opportunity to retaliate, have they apparently chosen to leave us alone?
Some will claim it’s because the Patriot Act is “working” or because torture is “effective” or because we are “fighting them over there rather than over here.”
But these answers ring hollow. There is no way the government could possibly stop all the suicide blowback attacks if Muslims really were intent on getting even. No amount of TSA groping or spying or torture or war could stop them all.
So there must be some other reason why we have not been attacked since 2001.
My hunch is that there is no desire to attack us again, or else it would have happened by now.
Whoever was behind 9/11 evidently got what they wanted/needed from from that event. They have no need for another.
This was just posted on our web site this AM, www.TheDCPost.com/ It’s coming at the situation you describe in your wonderful article today, about what our soldiers are not accomplishing…but from a slightly different emphasis. You are doing great work.
Looking at Memorial Day with Unflagged Eyes
By Allan Sanford
Well written article but sure wish that you’d bring the point home about US doing the towers and not some small band of box cutter stooges.
Jacob: Right, but you didn’t mention the True Reasons we invaded, namely ;
1. Access for a pipeline thru Afghan from Turkmenistan to the Arabian Sea (google ‘unocal, afghan’) and bases,
2. Iraq is about oil, defense of Israel, and bases, and
3. Libya has oil but also China has a big presence there, and Ghadaffi is promoting use of gold for all oil sales in Africa (Arabs too?), all related to dumping the US Dollar, which would speed its failure.
Russia is building a big port in Syria, hence our interest there. The grand plan is to get ALL the greater mideast oil (including the xxstans and N. Africa) and deny it to China, Russia, and India.
It is CRUCIAL to disclose the true reasons to the troops and US people (and the self-serving jerks in Congress). Agreed?? See these links;
1. How governments promote ‘Patriotism’ and take advantage of it for their wars, and other abuses. http://www.activistpost.com/2010/08/how-governments-abuse-our-patriotism.html Aug-2010
2. How all major US wars since the Revolution were started with Lies by Presidents. http://www.activistpost.com/2010/12/13-lies-abbreviated-history-of-us.html#more
3. ‘True Reasons We Invaded’, How 911 was a pre-planned ‘trigger’ to justify the WoT and the invasions of Afghan and Iraq http://www.activistpost.com/2011/01/role-of-9-11-in-middle-eastresource.html
Please comment. Thanks
Thank you Mr. Hornberger for your lucid and accurate account of US imperial foreign policy and military action.
I attended my first Memorial Day ceremony in over 30 years on Monday. What had once been a solemn affair dedicated solely to the service men and women who died in battle has now morphed into a hyper politicized, saber rattling, antagonistic rally.
I am a former military child of a career Navy NCO who served in Vietnam. The sight of countless maimed men at stateside military hospitals remains prominent in my consciousness 45 years later.
Ultimately, it is a rotting of our national soul that is manifesting itself in our evil actions abroad and our misguided immigration policies that constrict a natural source of renewal that at k e time distinguished the US from the world.
Thank you for bringing awareness to these issues, Mr. Hornberger. Our only hope to escape our demise will be when we recognize the dignity of life at home and abroad.
I am a combat veteran of the Vietnam war and I applaud you for this article. I was at the Nationals baseball game on Monday and there was a constant parade of veterans being honored followed by standing ovations. It was hard to swallow. War is such an evil enterprise yet average Americans have been brainwashed into thinking there is something noble about it and the soldiers are heroes. Please keep speaking out and if your organization needs volunteers I would be interested.
Re: An Open Letter to the Troops: You’re Not Defending Our Freedoms
Superb commentary! The U.S. troops and the American sheeple have no idea that the real (evil) mission of these wars is not even close to the stated (propaganized) mission. So sad and pathetic!
America has absolutely destroyed Iraq for no legitimate reason. Bush still explains his invasion with: Saddam would not let the UN Inspectors back in. This blatant fabrication went unchallenged on ABC News. The media are infiltrated by propaganda spreading liars. The Afghan people have their tribal organizations and are mostly detached from any central government. Why can’t we let these poor people alone? Keep telling it, Jacob!
Great column, Jacob. My son was with the first wave to get to Baghdad on July 4 ’03. Shortly after he set up his forward hospital it was mortered by the Iraqis. He survived ok, but after all his time in the military he has come to realize how much harm he did. One of his favorite sayings is, “Join the Marines, see the world, meet interesting people, then kill them!”
Thank you for your commentary Re: the idea that “The Troops” are fighting to protect American rights and freedoms in distant lands.
Military people and their family members are in the very best position to know that military operations in distant lands are not connected in any way to American rights and freedoms, yet- along with American politicians, news media, churches, big corporations and veterans groups- military people and their family members can be some of the biggest promoters of this propaganda.
I wrote an essay a while back on this:
Bravo, bravo, bravo, Jacob. Right on, and powerfully written. Now to get it into the hands of the actual troops, not just us, your fans. Betcha the Military Times or whatever else they send to the troops these days won’t publish it, though. How can you get this word out?
A magnificent article. Thank you for writing this. I think back to an old Grand Funk Railroad song, “People Let’s Stop the War”. How can we do it?
I’m reading your Open Letter to the Troops now. Have you seen Green Zone starring Matt Damon? I watched it over Memorial weekend and I thought it had a good message about warfare and the bureaucracy and politics behind it.
Wow, Jacob, possibly your best article yet. I don’t say that enthusiastically, it’s very sobering, but needs to be said.
I agree withe article and Aaron. WOW. Thank you for writing this. Sometimes the truth is not pretty or popular. Additionally, if they thought they were defending our freedoms, they would have to admit that they are loosing that battle.
“The tragedy of modern war is that the young men die fighting each other – instead of their real enemies back home in the capitals.” — Edward Abbey
I just found this jewel relating to war, this really happened:
“The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object.” — Abraham Lincoln, TO WILLIAM H. HERNDON. February 15, 1848
I wish I had the guts to write something like this. :/
I have a great deal of respect for other people who voluntarily risk their lives to defend my life, liberty, and property. However, the idea that “freedom isn’t free”, and that the price of liberty is continual sacrifice on foreign battlefields, isn’t true. The true price of liberty is eternal vigilance, not just against enemies like the Taliban and al-Qaeda, but also against our own government and any imperialistic ambitions on their part. I should add that the reason I consider the Taliban enemies is not that they want to defend their country (Afghanistan) against outside invaders, but because they believe in a sexist and authoritarian God.
I am a veteran and I think U.S. foreign policy is more about fascism and corporatism than defending freedom.
In all seriousness, you sound like somebody from Westboro Baptist Church.
**** Jacob, though I generally agree with what you are saying in this article, the tone of the article seems to be the troops are are at fault. When it is the leadership of this country that is really at fault. But it is also good for the troops to see that what they are fighting for is not what they say.
That sounds like a Nuremberg defense. Why wouldn’t the troops be accountable and responsible as well?
Unfortunately the troops are not allowed to object to their orders or they face punishment. Even though we believe them to be unlawful, nearly the whole of the government does not. They are lied to about what they are doing overseas and about what the true missions of our armed forces are. Look at the Navy’s latest ads.. “A global force for good”. WTF!!
Not an excuse at all, Sorry. You don’t sign up to join the mob and then get out of your atrocities by claiming they “forced” you to obey them. Sure they did, but you signed up for it. The moral thing to do would be ( if one joined the mob not fulluy knowing what the mob DID) to OPPOSE that organization and LEAVE as quickly as possible. I am amazed at the gut reaction leveled against those who oppose State terrorism/terrorists. Nationalism truly is the worst infectious disease.
The sheeple don’t know it’s wrong or unconstitutional. They weren’t taught right from wrong in school, they weren’t taught the constitution and what the founders intended. They weren’t really explained about what defending the constitution from enemies foreign and domestic means. Until people wake up, they’ll stay programmed. I don’t believe the soldiers themselves are thinking. “Hey, there is a woman and child, I should go kill them.” They are mostly good people and are only carrying out what they believe to be unlawful orders.”
Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism – how passionately I hate them!” – Albert Einstein
Having been unwillingly drafted for the Vietnam war, being twice wounded over there, seeing several of my high school buddies blown to bits, and receiving one hell of a home coming reception at that time, I don’t think that that subtly ostracizing and laying guilt on the troops themselves is helpful.
Except for a minority, most did not sign up to actually engage in these two stupid wars. They signed up because of career advancements, funding help for college, lack of civilian employment, and other benefits. Once enlisted, you’re indoctrinated, and eventually have little choice of where you are to be employed, deployed, or having your tour extended.
When in battle, a soldier simply doesn’t care about the politics of the engagement. When he is under fire, his immediate and primary concern, is his own life and safety, and that of his fellow comrades and friends. Anyone that’s been in combat understands this full well. Many who have not been, don’t!
To be sure, I suspect that many that have been deployed do not agree with these wars and feel as many of us not in the military. It certainly isn’t a pleasure fighting and trying to civilize savages, carrying hundreds of pounds of equipment in sweltering heat and seeing your friends being shot, blown up by IUDs, or maimed for life and I suspect most all would like to return to civilian life as soon as possible.
But whther they they like it or not, they are stuck in there present situation regardless and have very few options except to survive in one piece and come home to their loved ones and family.
And for that … we ought to praise them and not condemn them. After all, they are our friends and neighbors.
Though you are absolutely right in your political assessment with your open letter, I think the vast majority that have been deployed likely agree, and I suspect even the senior command does.
But they are stuck, much like the poor souls, that were sent to Gallipoli, Charge of the Light Brigade, and Custer’s troops.
The real solution is to unabashedly condemn those that sent them there, that squander our valuable national resources, and bankrupt our nation and its founding principles in the process.
The 21st century military person reenlists!! It’s no longer a job or even a profession; it’s a way of life.
They’ve been, they saw, and They reenlist. No excuses.
I agree with the bulk of your article, yet when you suggest that bin Laden should have gone through the criminal justice system for his 2001 bombing of the world trade center, what you fail to mention is that the FBI never found enough evidence to list 9/11 among OBL’s crimes in the first place…. http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/topten/usama-bin-laden But yes, a real investigation would have been nice. I think the results of such an investigation would underline the general wisdom of your article more than most of your readers can possibly understand. And that is partly your fault… if you had dared to utter more unvarnished truths (eventhis article is varnished) to date, you wouldn’t be criticized so much now. When will you just come out and speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth Jacob? You are your toughest warden … until you free yourself from your own constraints, you won’t be able to achieve victories of freedom for others.
**** Sure but not all. Why do you think the suicide rate among servicemen is now so high?
No excuses but what I stated is fact. If you’ve never been in the military or have been in battle, or threathened with a court-martial in the field for disobeying orders it easy to condemn.
There is vast difference between the Nazi SS and our troops. There is a vast difference in military doctrine and rules of engagement of the US and other beligerants.
Yes, it is a way of life for some. We used to call them “lifers.” But be grateful we have them and the technology to protect us from potential foreign aggressors, but clearly not for the way they or now deployed in foreign interventionism, pre-emptive war and the unconstitutional spread of regulatory democracy and empire building.
It is certainly moral to protest and resist as a civilian, it is not easily done when you are in the military.
My step-grandfather was a lifer and retired, so I’m not talking about lifers – I’m talking about killers who don’t want to stop.
And I said NO in 1983 to El Salvador. My enlistment was terminated 11 months early, honoraby. Going to El Salvador to defend a dictator was plain wrong.
Mr. Hornberger, thank you for writing what everyone is too afraid to say. The troops are not there to fight for our “freedoms”, but rather to perpetuate the military empire and the state itself. I support defense, but not monopolized defense. To those who are offended by Mr. Hornberger’s arguments, stop cheerleading for the state and open your eyes.
Thanks Jacob! Great read….
I think that your open letter ought really to be addressed to the parents, wives, and loved ones of our soldiers to be really effective.
My husband was really thanking you. I also thank you. we have to show the American people that War is not patriotic.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Socialism Meets the Drug War
The headline of this recent New York Times article highlights the problem: “Drug Trade Flourishes in Spanish Port Town.” The article is referring to the Spanish town of Barbate, Spain, a port town located in the southern region of Andalusia.
Like other socialist countries, such as Greece, Italy, and Portugal, Spain is suffering a severe economic collapse as a result of the massive spending and borrowing for its welfare-state programs. According to a recent BBB article, Spain has the highest rate of unemployment among EU countries — 20 percent. It also has one of the region’s weakest economies, which contracted by 0.1 percent in 2010. Moody’s recently downgraded Spain’s debt rating by a notch.
It’s even worse in Barbate. The Times’ article points out that at 29.7 percent, Andalusia has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Among the hardest hit have been young people. Barbate Mayor Rafael Quiros put it succinctly: “A youngster has absolutely zero chance right now of finding a fixed job here.”
So, guess where young people in Barbate are turning to sustain their lives.
You got it! The drug trade!
Why drugs? Why not liquor or cigarettes or fruits and vegetables?
Because drugs are illegal, which means artificially high black-market prices and profits. The possibility of making lots of money very quickly, needless to say, lures many young people into the business.
According to the NYT article, today there are 300 of Barbate’s 22,000 residents serving time in jail for drug-war violations. Five years ago, before the onset of the economic crisis, the number was about half — 160.
So, while we have becoming accustomed here in the United States to seeing the increasing integration of the drug war and the war on terrorism, in Spain people are getting to see socialism meeting the drug war. Of course, the results are disastrous in terms of ruined lives and social destruction.
An increasing number of young people in Barbate are now engaged in the drug trade. One youngster told the NYT reporter that his back BMW was bought with money he had made selling drugs. Another, a 30-year-old named Paco, had just been released from serving almost 4 years in jail on drug charges.
Meanwhile, as the state cracks down on the new supply of drug dealers, the retail price of hashish has soared, which no doubt will lure more young people into the business, some of whom will end up serving time in jail.
What is occurring in Barbate is just another example of the horrors of statism. Socialism has brought the economic crisis, which in turn is luring young people into the drug trade, which in turn is ruining lots of lives.
In principle, the situation in Barbate is no different here in the United States. Lured by big black-market profits that the drug war produces, increasing numbers of Americans are lured into the drug business. A certain percentage of them are caught and are sent to jail, which then causes drug prices to go up again, luring more people into the business. The cycle continues repeating itself indefinitely, as it has for the past 40 years.
Equally bad, the integration of the drug war and the war on terrorism has enabled government officials to spread their police-state tactics and infringements on privacy and civil liberties in towns and cities all across the nation.
It’s all a vicious statist cycle that brings a mountain of ruined lives, along with death, destruction, and corruption.
Obviously, there is a better way, and that way is libertarianism — the philosophy that rejects statism in all its forms and variations, including socialism, imperialism, and interventionism — and embraces economic liberty, free markets, and a limited-government republic.
Libertarianism is the solution for Barbate. It’s the solution for Spain. It’s the solution for the United States. It’s the solution for the world.