Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, July 2011

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Sharing Ideas on Liberty at Ron Paul’s Congressional Luncheon Group

I had an interesting lunch yesterday. Congressman Ron Paul invited me to share libertarian perspectives on the warfare-welfare state and the debt ceiling with his private luncheon group, which consists of several of Ron’s fellow congressmen. About 8 other congressmen joined us for the luncheon meeting in Ron’s office for a fun, free-wheeling discussion of the debt ceiling, foreign policy, domestic policy, the drug war, spending, a balanced budget, and inflation.

By agreement, everything said by the congressmen at the meeting is off the record and so I won’t discuss their side of the conversation, but I am at liberty to share with you the things I said.

I told them that we shouldn’t look at the debt-ceiling crisis as a crisis but rather as an opportunity. For years, the government has been spending far more than what it has been taking in with taxes, with the result being massive debt being piled on massive debt, with American taxpayers on the hook. Nonetheless, U.S. officials want to continue spending and borrowing to their heart’s content. They are much like the millionaire, I told them, who has lost his fortune but wants to keep spending as if he were still a millionaire.

So, the government must slash spending, which provides us with the opportunity to abolish, not reform, federal programs, departments, and agencies, dismantle America’s overseas military empire, and end the drug war.

Immediately bringing all the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and discharging them would save a lot of money, but that’s not enough, I said. Now is a perfect time to close all the overseas military bases and terminate all foreign aid, especially to brutal dictators. That would save considerable money, with the added benefit of decreasing foreign animosity toward the United States.

On the domestic side, I suggested that while the pragmatic argument for abolishing programs is important — that is, that the government can’t afford them anymore — I advocated that Republicans also embrace a philosophical approach, one that asks this critically important question: What should be the role of government in a free society?

For easy things to abolish, I suggested that they could begin with Ronald Reagan’s recommendations — abolish the Departments of Education and Energy, along with the Department of Commerce, which Republicans have in the past called for abolishing.

The reason I recommended abolition, I told them, as compared to across-the-board cuts, was because departments and programs are like cancer. If you just cut a little bit out, they’ll come roaring back. By abolishing them, you get rid of the entire cancer.

I also recommended that they directly confront Social Security and Medicare and call for their repeal, not reform, no matter what the political costs might be. I reminded them that conservatives battled against both of these socialist programs when they were first proposed by FDR and LBJ, and all the bad things that conservatives predicted have come true — dependency on government, out of control spending, federal bankruptcy, and the ever-increasing embrace of socialistic programs. I reminded them that coercive, government-mandated charity was no charity at all and that the only genuine charity is voluntary.

Finally, I said that repealing the drug war is a total no-brainer. Forty years of warfare have produced nothing positive while killing and destroying the lives of countless innocent people. What better way to save money than by ridding our nation of the scourge of drug warfare?

As you can imagine, it was a lively conversation! Thanks to Ron and his staff for inviting me to share our libertarian perspectives here at FFF with his congressional luncheon group.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shut Down the Postal Service

The Postal Service has announced that it is closing 3,700 post offices across the country due to financial troubles.

I’ve got a better idea. How about closing the Postal Service itself and turning over the delivery of first-class mail entirely to the private sector?

After all, the Postal Service is a monopoly. That means the government has granted it an exclusive privilege to deliver first-class mail without fear of competition. Why should we have monopolies in a country that purports to be based on principles of free enterprise?

What happens if a private-sector business tries to compete against this monopolist? Postal Service officials immediately run to their nearest U.S. Attorney’s office to complain. Some assistant U.S. Attorney then immediately runs to a federal judge, who immediately enters an injunction against the private-sector malefactor, requiring him to shut down his competitive effort.

That’s how a monopoly works. The monopolist gets all the business and uses the force of government to shut down competitors.

Throughout history, people have been besieged by monopolies. And they’ve hated them. Knowing that they don’t have to worry about competition, products and services provided by monopolies are always substandard and shoddy. And customers are made to feel like servants rather than as sovereigns.

What happens if a customer dislikes the service provided by some post office? He can’t switch his business to a competitor because, again, competitors are not allowed. All he can do is switch his business to another branch of the postal monopoly. Big deal. It’s the same organization.

What about people in the mountains? How would they get their mail if the Postal Service is dismantled and the postal monopoly repealed? Perhaps in the same way they get their milk and bread. When one decides to live in the mountains, there are costs associated with that decision. No one has a right to have mail delivered to his house any more than he has a right to have milk and bread delivered to his house.

The free market produces the best of everything, while government enterprises and government-granted monopolies produce the worst of everything. In a free market, the consumer is king and competitors must constantly seek to serve him better in order to keep his business. With government businesses and monopolies, the provider doesn’t have to worry about losing anyone’s business to competitors.

Monopolies have no business in American life. Our heritage is economic liberty, private property, free markets, free enterprise, competition, and consumer sovereignty.

Let’s not limit the Postal Service’s closures to 3,700 post offices. Let’s shut down the whole thing, repeal the postal monopoly, and let freedom reign.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Norway and Gun Control

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, the massacre in Norway reminds us, once again, of the three big reasons that our American ancestors enshrined the right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment.

First, the right to own property is a fundamental, God-given right with which no government can legitimately interfere. Guns are private property. Thus, even if there had been no Bill of Rights and no Constitution, people would still have the fundamental, inherent, natural, God-given right to keep and bear arms. Keep in mind that the Constitution and Bill of Rights don’t purport to grant people any rights. Instead, they prohibit government from interfering with the preexisting rights of the people.

Second, guns provide people with the means of self-defense against violent criminals. What happened in Norway is a perfect example of this. Like the rest of Europe, Norway has strict gun-control laws. The idea is that with gun control, criminals will either obey the law or be unable to illegally acquire guns.

What nonsense, as we libertarians have long pointed out. If a would-be murderer isn’t going to comply with a law against murder, why in the world would he comply with a law prohibiting him from possessing a gun? Moreover, since there are plenty of guns around the world, the notion that a would-be murderer would be unable to acquire an illegal gun on the black market is downright silly. What gun-control laws do, then, is simply prevent innocent people from defending themselves against violent criminals.

This week, Forbes magazine, which I’ve always thought was a conservative publication, published an article entitled “Less Restrictive Gun Control Laws Would Not Have Stopped the Oslo Massacre” by E.D. Kain, which suggested that the right to keep and bear arms would probably not have altered the situation in Norway anyway.

Kain makes three primary arguments in support of his thesis: First, a “vigilante” (by which he means a person carrying a concealed weapon) is no match for a “shooter.” Second, people with concealed weapons would probably end up killing innocent people in a shootout with the murderer. Third, it’s unlikely that people at a youth camp would have been exercising their gun rights anyway.

What a ridiculous set of arguments.

For one, there are plenty of people who carry concealed weapons who are extremely competent in using them. That’s not to say that a person with a handgun is any match for a person with a semi-automatic rifle, but ask yourself: Who’s got a better chance at keeping a murderer with a rifle at bay until the police arrive: a person with a handgun or a person without a handgun? The person with the handgun can barricade himself, along with several defenseless people, and hold off the would-be murderer for some time. At least they’ve got a chance at survival.

Second, while there is the possibility that innocent people could be killed in a crossfire between people who are defending themselves with guns against a murderer with guns, isn’t it better that some people survive rather than have the murderer kill everyone?

Third, while it’s true that people on that Norway island might not have been exercising their right to have a gun, Kain misses the real point. The point is that people have the right to carry a weapon to defend themselves from a would-be murderer. If they choose not to exercise that right, that’s their choice. But under what moral authority can Kain or anyone else say that people should be denied the right to make that choice?

Moreover, when a would-be murderer doesn’t know who’s carrying a weapon and who isn’t, everyone is safer because the would-be murderer doesn’t know who’s armed and who isn’t. In the Norway situation, the murderer knew that no one could defend himself with a gun, thanks to gun-control laws.

So, what’s Kain’s solution? Better trained police. Yawn. I suppose he just forgot to also say, “Get better people in public office.” In other words, keep placing your faith in government to protect you from murderers, robbers, rapists, and the like. What happens if your trust proves to be ill-founded? You suffer the consequences, and don’t think that you or your heirs will be able to sue the police for negligence or breach of contract because under the law, they are immune from liability.

Finally, let’s keep in mind the biggest reason our American ancestors enshrined the right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment, a reason that Kain doesn’t even mention. The right to keep and bear arms is an insurance policy against tyranny. The right provides people with the means to resist with force a tyrannical regime whose forces are indiscriminately killing, incarcerating, torturing, and raping innocent people.

That, of course, is one of the big differences between foreign countries and the United States. When people in foreign countries are subjected to tyrannical governments, they have but two choices: submit or die. Thanks to the right to keep and bear arms, the people in the United States have another alternative in such an event: resist with force.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Norway and the War Against Islam

Actually the killings in Norway by accused murderer Anders Behring Breivik are logical from the standpoint of those who have been claiming that the West is in a war against Islam. If we’re really at war, as these people have been claiming ever since 9/11, then what’s wrong with killing the enemy? Isn’t that what war is all about? In war, doesn’t one kill the enemy in order to win the war?

Ever since the 9/11 attacks, The Future of Freedom Foundation has periodically received letters from people fearfully exclaiming that the Muslims are coming to get us and invade, conquer, and occupy the United States as part of their war on Western civilization and Christianity. They have told us that the Koran requires Muslims to wage war on the Christian West and that the ultimate goal of the Muslims, including through immigration, is the conquest of the United States, Europe, and the rest of the Western world.

I have responded to these people by advising them not to go out and start shooting Muslims in their neighborhood. I have counseled them that if they did that, the state would arrest them and charge them with murder. Moreover, the judge would not permit them to defend against the murder charge by claiming that they were simply killing the enemy during wartime. They would be viewed simply as murderers, not as enemy combatants in war.

Fortunately, those who have long made this claim here in the United States have not followed through with their convictions by going out and defending the country during “wartime” by killing Muslims.

In fact, as I have long pointed out, the entire “we’re at war against Islam” screed has really been nothing more than a means by which such claimants can avoid confronting the wrongdoing of their own government — the U.S. government — in the Middle East, wrongdoing that has given rise to the anger and rage that has resulted in the threat of terrorist retaliation from that part of the world.

Indeed, one or the most amusing aspects to this controversy is that the “we’re at war with Islam” people never acknowledge that it is their government — the U.S. government — that is itself a strong supporter of Islamic regimes. Consider Iraq, where the U.S. invasion succeeded in installing a government that is required by Iraqi constitutional law to operate under Islamic principles. For some 10 years, U.S. troops have been killing and dying to protect this U.S.-supported Islamic regime from being overthrown, while the “we’re at war with Islam” crowd has never ceased exhorting us to support the troops in Iraq who are “defending our rights and freedoms.”

Or consider Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, and other predominantly Muslim countries whose (non-democratic) governments are recipients of billions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid. Isn’t it ironic that the “we’re at war with Islam” crowd never criticizes their own government for “aiding and abetting the enemy during wartime”?

In fact, the new official Islamic threat didn’t really materialize until the advocates of big government needed a new official enemy to justify the ever-growing expenditures and worldwide domination of the U.S. military and military-industrial complex at the end of the Cold War.

After all, throughout the Cold War was the “we’re at war against Islam” crowd making the same claims about Islam that they’ve been making for the past 10 years? Nope. During that time, the official big-government boogeyman was the communists, who were coming to get us, invade the United States, occupy our country, and take over the IRS, the public schools, and the Interstate Highway System.

In fact, when the U.S. government was openly supporting Islamic extremists when it was the Soviet Union, rather than the United States, occupying Afghanistan, the “we’re at war against Islam” crowd was fully supportive.

But once the Soviet Union disappeared, a new official boogeyman obviously became necessary. After all, how could we justify the enormous, ever-growing Cold War budget for the military and the military-industrial complex if we didn’t have a new official enemy?

Throughout the 1990s, Saddam Hussein served that function. While he had been a partner and ally of the U.S. government during the 1980s, U.S. officials quickly turned on him and converted him into the “new Hitler” who was bent on nuking and invading the United States. Thus, throughout the 1990s, Saddam, not Islam, was the official boogeyman.

But then came 9/11. That event provided the advocates of big government with a new official boogeyman — terrorism, which actually was even better than communism given that U.S. interventions, support of dictatorships, foreign aid, sanctions, embargoes, coups, bases, no-fly zones, invasions, and occupations in the Middle East and elsewhere would ensure a perpetual supply of anti-American terrorists. The Cold War lasted only 45 years. But the war on terrorism has the potential to last forever, thereby ensuring the continuation of big government into perpetuity.

Of course, it’s all a means to avoid confronting the role of U.S. foreign policy in producing the anger and rage that results in the threat of terrorist retaliation, which U.S. officials then use to expand their power and domination over the American people. If people can convince themselves that the problem is that the Muslims are coming to get us, then they’re able to reconcile in their minds that everything the U.S. Empire has done to people in the Middle East is okay — because it’s all done to “defend us,” as in “Let us pray for the troops who are in Iraq and Afghanistan defending our rights and freedoms.”

Recall the famous debate exchange between Ron Paul and Rudy Guliani. Paul pointed out that the terrorists came here to kill us on 9/11 because our government had been over there killing them prior to 9/11. Guliani was outraged that anyone could possibly criticize the U.S. government and its foreign policy.

For all too many Americans, the U.S. government is their god, their parent, their provider, their sustainer, their protector. In their minds, the government is incapable of wrongdoing. Thus, they come up with wild-eyed rationalizations to justify the wrongdoing, such as “the Muslims are waging war against us and are coming to get us and so anything our government does to them is okay.”

If the U.S. Empire withdrew from the Middle East by immediately withdrawing all U.S. troops and bringing them home, by immediately closing all U.S. military bases, and by immediately terminating all U.S. foreign aid, anti-American terrorism emanating from that part of the world would dissipate.

That of course would leave the advocates of big government without an official enemy once again, including communism, terrorism, and Islam. But hey, there’s always the drug war, which has succeeded in providing boogeymen for some 40 years.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Eyre and Mueller Put the Cops in their Place

Add my name to the many libertarians congratulating Pete Eyre and his buddy Adam Mueller for their quick acquittal in a jury trial in the town of Greenfield, Massachusetts. I know Pete personally, and he has been a tremendous help to us with Internet projects here at FFF. He is one of the finest, friendliest, and most competent people you’d ever find.

He’s also a person who believes that public officials are public servants and that we, the citizenry, are the ones they serve. It’s that mindset that obviously got him and Adam into trouble with the cops in Greenfield.

About a year ago, Pete and Adam travelled to Greenfield to bail out two friends who had been arrested on charges relating to the drug war and the war on guns. While at the jail inquiring about the bail, Pete and Adam asked the jail official if it was okay to videotape their interaction with the jail officials, and the jail official responded that, yes, that that would be okay.

You see, Pete and Adam are the principals in an organization called Cop Block, which advocates filming and recording police officers, especially when they’re engaged in wrongdoing, such as beating, insulting, or abusing citizens, and posting the recordings online. Videotaping and recording are ways to keep cops accountable, and it also helps to protect victims from cops who would later lie under oath about what they did.

Some cops, especially the good ones, have no objections to being videotaped or recorded in their interactions with citizens. Such cops know that they’re going to be courteous and respectful to people anyway and so there’s no reason to object to being videotaped or recorded. They also understand their relative role in society — that they, the cops, are the servants, and the citizenry are the masters.

After inquiring about the bail at the Greenfield jail, Pete and Adam departed and returned a short time later with the bail money. By that time, however, the situation had changed. Some Greenfield cops, including a police sergeant name Todd Dodge, had appeared on the scene. Dodge told Pete and Adam that they were no longer permitted to videotape the proceedings and ordered them to shut off the camera.

Pete and Adam advised Dodge that the jail official had granted them permission to videotape, but Dodge angrily responded that the jail official had now changed his mind. When Pete and Adam asked to see an official written policy prohibiting videotaping in the jail facility, Dodge responded that all that mattered was that Pete and Adam must comply with the new orders.

After a few minutes, Dodge, obviously outraged that Pete and Adam were not obeying his orders, took them into custody.

The charge? Wiretapping! Yes, wiretapping! Can you believe that? When you hear “wiretapping,” don’t you think about someone tapping into a telephone line and listening in on someone’s conversation? Well, in Massachusetts they’ve expanded the meaning of “wiretapping” to include secretly recording a conversation with another person.

But the operative word is “secretly.” There obviously wasn’t anything secretive about the videotaping that Pete and Adam were doing. Click here and scroll down to “4-Min Teaser Video About Greenfield Situation” which is the videotape showing the interaction between Dodge and Pete and Adam that ended in their arrest.

The videotaping was obviously all out in the open. Dodge was ordering them to shut off the camera, which is fairly persuasive proof that he knew he was being recorded — that is, that the recording wasn’t secretive. Later, obviously a bit desperate, the prosecutor in the case, Jeffrey A. Bengston, apparently made the clever argument that the recording was “secret” because it was being transmitted to a computer for uploading to the Internet. Unfortunately for Bengston, the jury didn’t buy his cleverness, and rightfully so.

Oh, they also charged them with “resisting arrest,” the standard charge that usually accompanies charges that cops know are weak. It’s a strategy akin to throwing a bunch of mud at a wall and hoping that some of it sticks. What’s surprising is that they didn’t also charge them with disorderly conduct, the other catch-all crime when everything else is weak.

No doubt recognizing that they were on shaky legal grounds, the cops then went out in search of more crimes. They located Pete’s and Adam’s van, which was parked on the street and claimed that something looked wrong with the vehicle’s identification number (VIN). They broke into the van, conducted a detailed search, no doubt looking for drugs or a gun, which could be easier to prosecute than wiretapping and resisting arrest. They didn’t find any drugs or guns, but they did find a small bit of ammunition. So, they also charged them with possession of unregistered ammunition. (Yes, believe it or not, that’s a felony offense in Massachusetts.)

Prior to trial, Bengston voluntarily withdrew the VIN charge and the ammunition charge, perhaps either because of the obviously illegal nature of the search or because the charges obviously reflected how desperate the cops were to pin whatever charges they could on two citizens who refused to show proper deference to their authority.

Did I mention the trespass charge? Yes, the state was also claiming that Pete and Adam were trespassing onto public property — yes, public property — to wit, a public jail — yes, the place where the public has a right to come to bail out people who are being held in jail.

Last week, the case ended up going to the jury. After the evidence was heard the judge threw out the resisting arrest charge for Pete, which normally means that there was no evidence whatsoever to support the charge. He apparently also threw out the trespass charge, no doubt because it was so utterly ridiculous.

The judge, however, did permit the wiretapping charge and the resisting arrest charge against Adam to go the jury. After just two hours of deliberation, the jury came back with a verdict of acquittal.

The jury’s verdict was a slap in the face of police officer Todd Dodge and the other cops who participated in this shameful ordeal.

Let’s face it: notwithstanding the ridiculous, baseless, and illegal charges, the real crime for which Pete and Adam were being prosecuted was “contempt of cop” — that is, their refusal to show proper deference to Dodge and his cohorts — their refusal to follow their orders.

But thanks to Pete and Adam, who made it clear before trial that they would not enter into any plea bargain, the jury put Dodge and his cohorts in their place. Message to Sgt. Dodge and your cohorts who participated in this shameful prosecution: In a free society, citizens don’t have to respond to the dictates or decrees of those in power. They have to answer only to the law. The principle is called “the rule of law, not the rule of men.”

If you want to establish a formal policy regarding videotaping in the jail or any other public building, then by all means do so. But don’t be issuing orders and then prosecuting people for disobeying them. That’s the kind of system that exists in Cuba or North Korea.

Equally important, never forget that as a cop, you’re a servant and that’s all you are. You serve us, the citizenry. We are your masters. As such, you show us deference and respect, and if you don’t like how that works, then you’re free to quit anytime you want.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I failed to point that the jury’s quick verdict of acquittal was also a real slap in the face of the prosecutor, Jeffrey Bengston. Pete and Adam, who are not lawyers, represented themselves in the proceedings. There is nothing easier for a competent and experienced litigator than to beat a non-lawyer in court. When the non-lawyer wins, it usually means one of two things: either the lawyer is a total nincompoop or the charges were so ridiculous and baseless that they should never have been brought in the first place or a combination of the two.

Bengston should never have proceeded to trial. He should have moved to dismiss all the charges, not just the ammunition charge. His oath of office demands that he seek justice, not proceed with baseless and ridiculous charges against people who have offended cops by failing to show proper deference to authority. Bengston owes an apology to Pete and Adam and the citizenry of the state of Massachusetts.

It is people like Pete and Adam who help keep America free. Thanks to that Greenfield jury for keeping Pete and Adam free and for helping keep America free.

To learn more about Cop Block and to read Pete’s summary of the case, click here .

For perhaps the most amusing aspect of the case, click here to see how one of the jurors responded to the state’s ridiculous and baseless prosecution of Pete Eyre and Adam Mueller.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Strange Attack on Me

Yesterday, I had an extensive email exchange with a guy named Rich Aucoin. He was taking me to task for my recent article “They Also Hate Us for Our Hypocrisy” along with articles I have written in the past pointing out that U.S. foreign policy is the root cause of anti-American anger, rage, and hatred among many foreigners.

After our exchange of emails, imagine my surprise to receive an email from Aucoin stating, “Pathetic, Jacob. I have won this debate. You can read about it at my blog: www.JaySeverin.org.”

Imagine my further surprise to find that Aucoin stated the following: “Future of Freedom president and 9/11 theorist Jacob Hornberger is obsessed with hatred. Muslim hatred in particular. He’s been warning Americans for nearly a decade now that we are under constant threat of grave attacks by hate-filled angry Muslims due to our evil foreign policies….”

Did Aucoin support his allegation regarding Muslim hatred for America with any excerpts from our email exchange or from any of the thousands of articles I have written over the past 21 years?

No, and the reason he didn’t is because I’ve never said what he claims I said. I have always maintained that the anger and rage arising in the Middle East against the United States is rooted in the horrific things the U.S. government has done to people in that part of the world, independent of the victims’ religious convictions.

So, why would Aucoin make an unfounded assertion against me, one that he was unable to support with substantive evidence?

I really don’t know the answer to that question. But judging from the nature of his public attack on me, I have a hunch that what he’s angry about is my contention that the 9/11 attacks were blowback from U.S. foreign policy rather than attacks orchestrated by the U.S. government. Now, that’s not to say that Aucoin openly confessed to being a “9/11 truther” in his attack on me. He didn’t do that. But he did state that my “simple 9/11 blowback theory has been debunked,” and the phrase “has been debunked” links to another article on his website which states:

No, whoever was in fact behind 9/11 apparently achieved everything they wanted from that particular event. Endless global war and a rapidly expanding domestic police state have become major cash cows for those who would profit from tax dollars. Cui bono? The perpetrators of 9/11, whoever they are, have no need for another 9/11 since they’re still cashing in so handsomely on their first one. So as we reflect on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and hear endless scary warnings of possible future attacks, let us recall that 9/11 itself remains an unsolved crime. And let us not be fooled again? (emphasis in original.)

So, why not simply limit his attack on me to the issue of who committed the 9/11 attacks rather than concoct a false allegation of what I purportedly said about Muslims?

I don’t know. You can see that I’ve titled this article “A Strange Attack on Me.”

In any event, in case you’re interested I thought I would share with you the entire email exchange I had with Aucoin yesterday. If nothing else, I think it clarifies the false nature of his allegation about me regarding Muslims.

***********************

From: RichAucoin@comcast.net [mailto:RichAucoin@comcast.net]
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 9:44 AM
To: Jacob Hornberger
Subject: Why is Jacob Hornberger iObsessed with Hatred?

Dear Jacob,
I have noticed that your writings at LRC and AW.com often refer to hate, specifically, why “they” hate us.

Your latest article claims “they” hate us for our hypocrisy.

You seem obsessed with hate.

But I am wondering more and more, who is the “they” who supposedly hate us so much?

Are you suggesting it’s Muslims who hate us? If so, then you are parroting Dick Cheney. He also believes Muslims hate us. His explanation for all the supposed hatred is different from yours, is all.

But Dick is wrong and so are you. Muslims do not hate us. There is no evidence to back up that scurrilous claim.

If Muslims really hated Americans as much as you and Dick claim, I surely would have met at least one hateful Muslim by now, but every Muslim I have ever met has been peaceful and forgiving. If Muslims hated us as much as you and Dick claim, we would have been attacked by more than just FBI-framed patsies who always seem to get caught just before they’re about to kill us. If Muslims hated us as you and Dick claim, then we wouldn’t need to resort to oppressive gulags with no habeas protections to render “justice” for 9/11 and we would not need to so flagrantly frame our own gov’t employees for the anthrax attacks. The FBI would not be so desperately trying to sweep the anthrax under the rug.

If you and Cheney are correct about Muslims’ hatred of America, then why are they leaving us alone?

Is it because we are fighting them over there instead of over here?

Is it because the Patriot Act is working?

Is it because torture is an effective interrogation tool?

Is it because our borders are sealed?

Please explain why your alleged hordes of hateful and vengeful Muslims are displaying all their hatred of America by showering us with love and peace and foregivness. Or better yet, please stop fearmongering and bad-mouthing Muslims.

Peace,
Rich Aucoin

***********************

From: “Jacob Hornberger”
To: RichAucoin@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 11:18:46 AM
Subject: RE: Why is Jacob Hornberger iObsessed with Hatred?

Rich,

The people who are inspired to commit terrorist attacks hate the U.S. government for killing their children, spouses, parents, relatives, and people in the middle east, along with destroying their countries, humiliating and abusing people, along with support of brutal dictatorships, along with support of the Israeli government. There is also the possibility that the drug war in Latin America is inspiring considerable hatred that will ultimately result in terrorist strikes in U.S. cities along the border.

That’s not to say that all people in the Middle East get angry and filled with rage over such things to such an extent that they’re willing to retaliate with violence, any more than all Americans got so angry and filled with rage after 9/11 that they were willing to retaliate with violence. It’s to say that some people in the Middle East have such a reaction,just as some Americans had such a reaction after 9/11.

Or consider the federal massacre at Waco. Many, but certainly not all, Americans got angry over the massacre. But not all of the angry ones retaliated with violence. But one angry person did—Timothy McVeigh. He hated the government for doing that and retaliated with the bombing of the federal building. If the feds hadn’t massacred the Branch Davidians, the federal building would still be there along with allthe people Mcveigh killed and McVeigh would still be alive today.

Unfortunately, many people over there do the same thing that you and other Americans do—they conflate the U.S. governmetn and the American people. So, when they end up hating the government, they end up hating americans too. I wish they’d understand that there are some of us, certainly not all by a long shot, who take a very principled stand against the wrongdoing of our own government. That’s not to say that there aren’t Americans who take the postion of “my government, always right.”

My position is that we must never be afraid to confront the wrongdoing of our own government, especially when its masacring people wrongfully both here in the United States and abroad. Now that bankruptcy looms on the horizon, people are finally starting to question the U.S. government’s warfare empire along with the welfare state and the drug war. The real battle in our country is not the U.S. government vs. terrorists, Muslims, drug dealers, or illegal aliens. The real battle is between statists vs. libertarians. Let the battle continue!

Best regards,

Jacob

***********************

From: RichAucoin@comcast.net [mailto:RichAucoin@comcast.net]
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 11:57 AM
To: Jacob Hornberger
Subject: Re: Why is Jacob Hornberger iObsessed with Hatred?

Thanks, Jacob.

After 10 years of Americans being more likely to die by a lightning strike than by some miffed Muslim, there is simply no evidence to support the questions: Why do they hate us so much? and why are they attacking us?

The real questions ought to be: Why DON’T they hate us, and why AREN’T they attacking us?

If we spend our time agreeing with the neocons that Muslims hate us and pose a threat (even if we disagree as to why that is), then Americans in substantial numbers will go on supporting the wars and consenting to the domestic police state that’s “kept us safe” for 10 years.

Only by exposing the myth that Muslims are a threat in the first place can we hope to undermine the neocons’ agenda.

So let us ask the right questions: why DON’T Muslims hate us? Why AREN’T they attacking us?

Rich

***********************

From: “Jacob Hornberger”
To: RichAucoin@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 12:11:40 PM
Subject: RE: Why is Jacob Hornberger iObsessed with Hatred?

Rich,

Just because a person isn’t attacking you doesn’t mean he doesn’t hate you.

Lots of Americans are still angry over 9/11 and actually hate muslims because of 9/11. They’re not traveling to the middle east to kill Muslims or killing them here.

What you have to ask yourself is: Do Americans get angry when foreigners come here and kill Americans? Your answer will be “Yes.” Then ask yourself: Are foreigners different from Americans in this respect? Your answer will be “No, Jacob, because human nature is human nature.”

Now, go read the transcript of Ramzi Yousef’s sentencing hearing. He’s one of the terrorists who struck the WTC … in 1993. yes, 1993—8 years before 9/11. You will notice one thing about his railing against the federal judge who sentenced him—rage—out of control rage—and all directed toward the horrible things the U.S. government had been doing (up to that point) in the Middle East, including the sanctions on Iraq that were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children (which was, not surprisingly) angering lots of other people, including UN officials Von Sponek and Butler (neither of whom are Muslims), both of whom resigned in angry protest against what they termed genocide.

This is what you and so many Americans just cannot do—you cannot put yourself in the position of people who have been ravaged by federal wrongdoing, especially abroad,but quite possibly here too, such as at Waco, or the drug war, or the war on immigrants. This is one of the things that distinguishes libertarians from conservatives. We take a principled stand against all federal wrongdoing. Statists elevate the federal government to the position of god or at least a parent.

Finally, you are right to sugggest that there are Muslims who don’t hate you, just as there are Catholics, Jews, and Protestants who don’t hate you. No libertarian, as far as I know, has ever suggested that all Muslims hate you, or hate the U.S. government, or hate the American people. What we have suggested is that when the U.S. government goes abroad and wrongfully kills people, or supports brutal dictatorships who kill or torture their own people, or provides unconditional support to the Israeli government or other foreign regime, or humiliates, tortures, or abuses people, there are going to be SOME people, especially relatives and friends of the victims, who become angry, just as there are some Americans who become angry when foreigners do that to Americans. The angry people might be Muslims or Arabs or Latin American Catholics and Protestants. It’s not a religious thing. It’s a foreign policy thing. If the U.S. government invaded and occupied Vatican City, there would be lots of anger and rage among Catholics worldwide.

Don’t be afraid to confront the wrongdoing of your own governnent. It’s what a group of British citizens did in 1776! :)

Best regards,

Jacob

***********************

From: RichAucoin@comcast.net [mailto:RichAucoin@comcast.net]
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 1:05 PM
To: Jacob Hornberger
Subject: Re: Why is Jacob Hornberger iObsessed with Hatred?

Jacob,

You have made a bad assumption about me.

I absolutely DO put myself in the shoes of those victimized by this government. This is why I have been passionately antiwar since 1991, when I realized Saddam Hussein was being set up by Bush the first. Every fiber of my being has despised and distrusted Washington since realizing the lies that led to that despicable war.

But that doesn’t mean I would ever turn into a violent extremist!

So okay sure, there are probably Muslims who hate Washington for its policies, just as I do. But it’s extremely rare to see that hate translate into attacks against innocent Americans. And even when it allegedly does, the circumstances are usually quite fishy (e.g., underwear bomber = TSA groping).

So we must stop relying on unproven 9/11 theories like the blowback theory which only help the neocons propagate their all-important myth that Muslims pose a threat to the American people. They don’t!

The undeniable fact is, the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001 (which set a global war in motion) remain unsolved crimes. So rather than propping up unproven theories about 9/11 that only aid and abet the myth of the Muslim threat, let us demand an end to the official coverups that remain hideous obstacles to justice in those cases.

Rich

***********************

From: “Jacob Hornberger”
To: RichAucoin@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 1:22:34 PM
Subject: RE: Why is Jacob Hornberger iObsessed with Hatred?

Rich,

Okay, sorry for misconstruing your position.

Regardless of 9/11, the point still remains: If I punch you in the face and keep punching you nonstop, at some point you’re going to swing back. And even if you don’t and you just keep staning there letting me punch you, most other people are going to punch back.

Or to put it another way, when you go poke hornet’s nests, it’s possible that the hornets in one nest won’t get angry and do anything. But that’s doesn’t hold true for the other hornet’s nests.

Go read the transcript of Ramzi Yousef’s sentencing hearing. If you can’t see the rage in that man — well, you will.

Let’s put it this way: If the Chinese communists did to the american people for the last 20 years what the U.S. government has been doing to people in the Middle East, you might not be angry about it, but I certainly would and so would a lot of other Americans. In fact, I am certain that I would join an insurgency rather than become a quisling working with the Chinese officials.

Bottom line: Read my blog today. You helped inspire it!

Best regards and thanks for sharing your perspectives with me. I enjoyed the exchange!

Jacob

***********************

From: RichAucoin@comcast.net [mailto:RichAucoin@comcast.net]
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 1:54 PM
To: Jacob Hornberger
Subject: Re: Why is Jacob Hornberger iObsessed with Hatred?

Your words are frightening.

So frightening that most Americans who hear them will support the war on terror and the patriot act.

After all, if our government has stirred up the terrible hornet’s nests you say it has, then we need to keep doing everything that’s kept us safe for the past decade.

We cannot let our guard down now! Otherwise one of those angry hornets is bound to sting us. Ouch!

You are turning me in favor of the war….we need to fight them over there before they get us here!

***********************

From: “Jacob Hornberger”
To: RichAucoin@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 5:39:13 PM
Subject: RE: Why is Jacob Hornberger iObsessed with Hatred?

Rich,

Don’t be frightened. Conquer your fears. Government loves a scared citizenry. That’s how they induce people to surrender their freedoms in the (false) hope of finding safety and security from the threats, real or imagined, that the government has produced. This is one of the horrific consequences of the welfare state—it has produced a nation of people, many of whom are dependent, frightened, and submissive to the government and who strive to gain their courage vicariously through the troops by “being tough” in foreign affairs.

http://www.fff.org/comment/ed1201b.asp

We need to restore the spirit of self-reliance, independence, and can-do that characterized our ancestors, who would never have tolerated either a welfare state or a warfare state.

The real battle in America is the libertarians vs. the statists, including both the welfare statists and the warfare statists. I still think we’re going to win because every day people are breaking through and joining up with our cause.

Best regards,

Jacob

***********************

From: RichAucoin@comcast.net [mailto:RichAucoin@comcast.net]
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 5:56 PM
To: Jacob Hornberger
Subject: Re: Why is Jacob Hornberger iObsessed with Hatred?

Spouting the 9/11 blowback theory plays directly into the hands of the security state and the preemptive warmongers.

Most Americans will gladly be TSA groped, and will gladly support preemtive wars, if it means they or their child will not be stung by one of these angry hornets you’re forever warning about.

I say drop your 9/11 theorizing already and deal with the fact that 9/11 remains an unsolved crime. Demanding the long-overdue criminal investigation and evidentiary discoveries with full subpoena power would be the truly brave and principled thing for libertarians to do.

If not us, then who?

***********************

From: “Jacob Hornberger”
To: RichAucoin@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 7:31:33 PM
Subject: RE: Why is Jacob Hornberger iObsessed with Hatred?

Rich,

The secret to solving the problem arising from poking hornet’s nests is not to continue poking them. It is to stop poking them. Duh! Read my article—A Foreign Policy Primer for Children—The Fable of the Hornets. It is good for grown-ups too!

Remember: After killing more than a million Vietnamese, the U.S. left Vietnam. Not one Vietnamese has retaliated with terrorist attacks after the U.S. exited the country. If the US had continued to occupy Vietnam, there would be lots more dead Americans who would have died for nothing.

Bottom line, which, for some reason, you continue to resist: Bring all the troops home from everywhere and discharge them, close the bases, and stop all foreign aid, including to dictators, democracies, and everyone else.

Conduct all the investigations you want. Libertarians are not opposed to investigations. Libertarians are opposed to imperialism, militarism, interventionism, socialism, fascism. In a word, we are opposed to statism. The battle in our country is libertarians vs. statists. So far, we’ve been losing for decades. But things might be moving in our direction. It’s very exciting.

Remember, conquer your fears! This is what government loves. That’s how they take away people’s freedom. They seize on your fears to induce you to surrender your freedom (and mine too) in return for the pretense of being kept safe. Even if the terrorists are dangerous, I’d still not want to trade my freedom for safety. I’d rather take my chances with them and stay free. But once the empire is dismantled, the terrorist threat dissipates and we can get on the road to freedom, peace, and prosperity.

Best regards,

Jacob

***********************

From: RichAucoin@comcast.net [mailto:RichAucoin@comcast.net]
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 8:43 PM
To: Jacob Hornberger
Subject: Re: Why is Jacob Hornberger iObsessed with Hatred?

Pathetic, Jacob.

I have won this debate.

You can read all about it at my blog: www.JaySeverin.org

I have been warned about you over the years. Now I see for myself.

Rich

Thursday, July 21, 2011

End America’s Role as a Military Empire

During our panel discussion at the recent FreedomFest conference in Las Vegas, which was entitled “The War on Terrorism Is a War on Freedom,” an attendee pointed out that there were lots of instances of terrorism around the world and asked, “If terrorism is motivated by anger and rage arising out of U.S. foreign policy, how do you explain terrorism in Spain or other parts of the world in which the U.S. government has played no role?”

Libertarians have never suggested that U.S. foreign policy is responsible for all terrorism in the world. What we have said is that the U.S. government’s actions in foreign affairs have incited so much anger and rage that they have motivated some people to retaliate with terrorist strikes against the United States. That certainly does not preclude the possibility that people in other parts of the world are similarly motivated to commit terrorist attacks against other regimes.

Consider, for example, the Basque separatists in Spain. They have their own grievances against the Spanish government. Those grievances have driven them to commit acts of terrorism against the Spanish government and Spanish people. Those acts of terrorism have nothing to do with the anything the U.S. government has done. It would be irrational for the Basque separatists to commit terrorist attacks against the United States or the American people for matters arising out of the Basque dispute with the Spanish government.

But the fact that the Basque separatists have their own reasons for committing acts of terrorism in Spain does not preclude the possibility that there are going to be people who get angry when the U.S. Empire goes abroad and wrongfully kills and injures people, tortures and abuses people, humiliates people, supports brutal dictatorships who torture, abuse, rape, and kill dissidents, or provides foreign aid to other regimes. In that case, the survivors, as well as friends and relatives of the victims, are likely to become angry at the U.S. government that has done these things.

Does that mean that every person who becomes angry is going to retaliate with a terrorist attack? Of course not. Most people aren’t going to go down that road. But there usually will be a certain percentage of people whose anger and rage will motivate them in that direction.

Consider, for example, the federal attack on Waco, which killed dozens of people, including innocent children. Many Americans, especially libertarians, were horribly angry over the massacre. But we channeled that anger into articles, speeches, and films that raised people’s consciousness and conscience to such a point that today most people recognize what a horrible thing the feds did at Waco. The result? There have been no more Waco-type massacres since then.

There was one person, Timothy McVeigh, who could not control his anger. His rage motivated him to retaliate with a terrorist strike on the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Notice something important: No more Waco massacres since then — and no more terrorist strikes on U.S. federal buildings. But if the government commits another massacre, there is a good possibility that another Timothy McVeigh will surface and retaliate in the same way that McVeigh retaliated.

What all too many Americans are unable to do is to put themselves into the places of foreigners who have experienced the heavy, oppressive hand of the U.S. Empire. As bad as Waco was, what the U.S. government has done to people in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world is a thousands times worse.

Consider, as just one example, the fact that the U.S. government killed hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq with its 11 years of brutal sanctions. If the killing of a few children at Waco would engender anger and rage here at home, why wouldn’t we expect that the killing of hundreds of thousands of children would have the same effect among people over there?

Consider the 9/11 attacks. Didn’t lots of Americans get angry? Why wouldn’t we expect foreigners to have the same reaction when that sort of thing happens to them? Isn’t human nature human nature?

Consider when U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright declared that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.” Why wouldn’t we expect that sort of thing to make people angry? Wouldn’t Americans become angry if, say, the ambassador from Iran were to declare that the deaths on 9/11 were “worth it”?

In order to get our nation back on the right road, it’s necessary for Americans to be willing to acknowledge and confront the wrongdoing of their own government, not only here at home but also abroad.

It’s also necessary to end America’s role as an international military empire by bringing all the troops home from everywhere and discharging them, abandoning all U.S. military bases on foreign soil, and ending all foreign aid not only to dictatorships but to every other foreign regime. Restoring a limited-government constitutional republic to our land is an essential precondition for getting our nation on the road to freedom, peace, prosperity, harmony.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

They Also Hate Us for Our Hypocrisy

The front page of today’s New York Times details another instance of the rank hypocrisy that underlies U.S. foreign policy. According to the article, U.S. officials are hopping mad at their partner and ally, the Pakistani government, for trying to tilt U.S. foreign policy in favor of Pakistan’s position in its longtime dispute with India over Kashmir.

The feds have indicted two U.S. citizens over the matter. They work for a Washington-based organization named the Kashmiri American Council, which “lobbies for and holds conferences and media events to promote the cause of self-determination for Kashmir” and also donates around $100,000 to U.S. political campaigns.

What’s wrong with that? Well, it turns out that a major donor to the organization is the Pakistani government and, specifically, the ISI, which is Pakistan’s counterpart to the CIA. Apparently, the feds are claiming that the Kashmiri American Council is just a sham or a ruse to enable the Pakistani government to influence U.S. foreign policy.

What’s wrong with that? Well, U.S. officials consider it evil or bad or morally wrong for foreign governments to be interfering with the U.S. political system. That’s why they’ve made it illegal for foreign governments to donate to American political candidates.

Imagine that.

The U.S. indictment of those two American citizens is as audacious — and, of course, hypocritical — example of U.S. foreign policy as one could ever hope to find.

After all, virtually all of U.S. foreign policy is oriented toward influencing the political situation in foreign countries. That’s what foreign aid to dictators and others, financial aid to NGOs, the CIA’s secret funneling of money into countries, CIA front companies, embargoes, sanctions, invasions, occupations, coups, regime-change operations, and assassinations are all about.

Indeed, how much money has the CIA funneled into the coffers of “pro-democracy” groups in Cuba, Venezuela, and other countries whose rulers are not among U.S.-favored dictators? We don’t know because it’s all secret. They won’t let us know because, they say, if we were to know how they distributing the money that the IRS forcibly collects from us, “national security” would be threatened.

How many millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been funneled into the coffers of dictators in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world? Isn’t the point of such government-to-government “donations” to keep the dictatorship in power? Examples: The Shah of Iran, who the CIA installed into power through a coup, the military dictatorships installed in Guatemala through a CIA coup, the CIA’s interference in Argentina to prevent Salvador Allende from being democratically elected, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf, and Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, one of the most corrupt dictators in history.

How much U.S. taxpayer money has been used to finance and subsidize torture centers in U.S.-favored dictatorships, especially ones that have tortured people pursuant to torture partnerships between such regimes and the U.S. government? Syria and Egypt come to mind.

Let’s not forget those 1,000 military bases in some 130 countries around the world. How many foreign regimes have military bases inside the United States? Why are they not permitted to do what the U.S. Empire does? Could the reason be that they might be perceived as influencing U.S. policy with a strong military presence within the country?

Let’s not forget the CIA’s regime-change operations in Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other nations.

In fact, let’s not forget the CIA’s decades-long obsession with Cuba, which has included terrorist attacks inside the country and even assassination attempts on Cuba’s president, Fidel Castro. Pardon me, but wouldn’t trying to assassinate a ruler of a foreign country constitute more direct interference with the internal political affairs of another country than simply making campaign contributions to some candidates?

Let’s also not forget the case of Alan Gross, who has been jailed in Cuba for the last year for spying. Sure, the CIA denies that he works for the CIA but the CIA would deny it even if he were, so the denial is worthless. According to the BBC, at the very least Gross was “working for the Cuba Democracy Programme, a U.S. government programme aimed at promoting political change in Cuba.”

And we really shouldn’t forget the military invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan — or, for that matter, Panama, Granada, Cuba, and others — for the purpose of ousting the rulers of such countries and installing a U.S.-appointed ruler in their stead.

Let’s also not forget that while the U.S. is now charging the Pakistani government with interfering with the political system within the United States, the U.S. government has never been reluctant to interfere with the political system within Pakistan. It was the U.S. government who long propped up Pakistan’s military dictator Pervez Musharraf, especially with money, until the Pakistani people were finally able to oust him from power and install a democratically elected ruler. Also, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, it’s not the Pakistani government that is assassinating people living in the United States with pilotless drones. It is the U.S. government that is assassinating people living in Pakistan with pilotless drones.

The death and destruction that the U.S. government wreaks around the world, along with its callous indifference to suffering among foreigners that such death and destruction bring, are among the principal reasons that people around the world hate the U.S. government. Another big reason is the rank hypocrisy that runs through U.S. foreign policy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The New America

Periodically it’s important to sit back, reflect, and contemplate what kind of country America has become under the warfare state under which we have born and raised. It is really quite astonishing.

When I was growing up, the last thing I would have ever imagined was that my government, through its military and paramilitary forces, would be engaged in torture. Torture was something that barbaric regimes in the olden days did. Or Nazi Germany. Or the Soviet Union. Not the United States. Who would have ever dreamed that U.S. officials would not only be authorizing torture but also shielding those who did it from criminal prosecution?

While we’ve all become accustomed to the idea of foreign aid — U.S. taxpayer money being sent to foreign governments — on reflection it is still shocking to me that my government would not only send taxpayer money to a regime that it knew was tyrannical but that it would also enter into a torture partnership with such a regime.

When I was growing up, I believed that this sort of thing was what bad people did, not Americans. Our country was supposed to be different. Our government would never support something evil, and everyone knew that tyranny and torture were evil. If one of my schoolteachers had told me that the U.S. government would one day be helping brutal, totalitarian, military dictatorships to oppress and torture their own people or to torture people on the request of our government, I would have never believed it. Not the United States.

Or consider presidential wars waged in violation of the constitutional provision requiring a congressional declaration of war. Ever since the Korean War, we have come to accept that the president, whoever he might be, simply is not going to comply with that provision of the Constitution, which is the law that we the people have imposed on him and other federal officials. That’s stunning to me. The law is the law. The president expects citizens to obey his laws, including ridiculous ones, like drug laws, and punishes them when they don’t. Why isn’t he forced to obey our law — the law of the Constitution? Why doesn’t Congress impeach him for intentionally violating the Constitution?

Or consider one of the war crimes at Nuremberg — waging wars of aggression against other nations. That was something the Nazi government did … or the Soviet government, not the U.S. government. Yet, today it has become an accepted fact that the U.S. government wields the authority to level a military attack on nations that have never attacked the United States. Just ask the Iraqis. Or the Libyans. Or the Somalis.

Or consider assassination. I recall how horrified people were on November 23, 1963, when our president was assassinated in Dallas. The last thing I ever figured at the time was that the U.S. government would later adopt a formal policy of assassination, including assassinating American citizens.

Or consider where the U.S. government went to borrow the money to finance its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. It went to the Chinese government for the money, which is why China is now one of the major foreign creditors of the United States. Hardly anyone gives that fact a second thought. Yet, wasn’t it the Chinese communists who helped kill 58,148 American men in the Vietnam War? Aren’t the communists still in power in China? Isn’t it still a brutal totalitarian regime? Why in the world would our government go to them for the money to finance its foreign wars? Why them?

Or consider the alternative judicial system for trying suspected terrorists that the Pentagon has established in Cuba. Everyone knows what that’s all about — to ensure that whoever is accused of being a terrorist is convicted and punished, after a kangaroo show trial. But that’s something the Nazis did. Do you remember the People’s Court, the special court established by Hitler to ensure that suspected terrorists were never acquitted by the regular courts? Do you recall the story of the White Rose, where young war critics were convicted and punished for treason in the People’s Court? And don’t forget the show trials that the Soviet communists used to make it look like people condemned to die had first received trials.

Or consider the illegal searches of people’s telephone records and emails conducted by the NSA on orders of the president. I always believed that that was the sort of thing that Nazis and communists did — spy on their own people and closely monitor their activities. Yet, here is our government doing the same thing as the Nazis and the communists — and then shielding the malefactors from criminal prosecution.

Or consider the fact that government officials can now leer at and fondle the private parts of any person who chooses to fly commercial air, and people simply have to submit if they choose to fly. Who would have ever thought that we’d be living in that sort of country? Sure, one could imagine that sort of thing in some country run by a totalitarian regime, but here in the United States? Hard to believe.

Of course, apologists for all this claim that it’s necessary for the U.S. government to have moved down this dark road in order to protect the American people from the terrorists. Well, except for one thing: it’s the U.S. government that has produced the anti-American terrorists with its overseas actions, especially in the Middle East. Such being the case, wouldn’t it be better to stop that sort of thing rather than continue a course of conduct that necessitates, according to the apologists, actions that would be better left to the likes of Nazis, communists, and other evil regimes?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Egypt’s Military Problem

The Egyptian people are getting a harsh lesson in militarism and tyranny. After successfully ousting Egypt’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak, from power, through the power of protest and demonstration, dissenters are discovering that the problem involves much more than “getting better people in public office.” Instead, the problem is a systemic one, in this case one involving a large permanent military establishment, similar in some respects to that which exists here in the United States.

What ultimately backs up a dictatorship is its military. The power of a dictatorship involves its ability to enforce its dictates. That’s why regimes maintain powerful military establishments within the government — not so much to protect against foreign invasions but rather to maintain “order and stability” within the country. Of course, “order and stability” means keeping the dictatorship in power.

Thus, the problem of dictatorship is a systemic one. Replacing one dictator with another dictator doesn’t bring freedom to a society. At best, it might bring a more benevolent dictator — one, say, who permits people to criticize the government or dissent openly — but nonetheless one who still exercises dictatorial powers over the citizenry. A kinder dictator is still running a dictatorship.

Since Egyptians have the same deep, reverential respect for their government’s military establishment that many Americans do, they have been hopeful that things would change for the better once Mubarak was ousted from power. They are still not able to understand that the problem wasn’t Mubarak but rather the type of political-economic system under which Egypt is governed — a political dictatorship running a socialist economic system, one largely dominated by the enormous military and military-commercial establishment.

Egyptians are still hoping for a democratic political system and they’re planning on voting for a new constitution. However, while the military is going to permit them to enact a new constitution, the military has announced that whatever constitution the citizenry adopt, it must not interfere with the military’s dominant and semi-autonomous role in Egyptian society.

According to the New York Times, the Egyptian military has issued a “declaration of basic principles” that will govern a new constitution, a declaration that ensures that a new constitution won’t interfere with the military’s dominant role in society.

As most everyone knows, the U.S. military and the Egyptian military have long worked together in joint military projects, including the U.S. military’s use of the Egyptian military to torture people as part of the U.S. government’s war on terrorism. A longtime supporter of the Mubarak dictatorship, the U.S. government supported Mubarak’s use of his military to maintain “order and stability” within the country.

What would happen if the Egyptian people were to refuse to go along with the military’s “declaration of basic principles”? What would happen if they decided to dismantle Egypt’s military dictatorship, standing army, and military-commercial establishment? Would the military permit it?

According to the Egyptian military, which plays a dominant role in commercial activity, owning and operating hotels and other commercial enterprises, the military is the ultimate guardian of “national security.” The idea is that without Egypt’s enormous military establishment, the nation would almost certainly fall to invaders, occupiers, drug dealers, and terrorists. Thus, the military will not permit the Egyptian people to enter into a “suicide pact,” one in which the new constitution does not protect the continued existence of Egypt’s enormous military and military-commercial establishment.

What would happen if the Egyptian people refuse to go along with the deal? That’s an interesting question. An equally interesting question is: What would happen if the American people decided to dismantle the U.S. military’s vast overseas empire by bringing all U.S. troops stationed abroad home and discharging them into the private sector, ending all foreign aid, including to U.S.-supported dictatorships, and closing all foreign military bases and abandoning leasehold rights to the properties, including Guantanamo Bay?

Would the U.S. military and military-industrial complex go along with the deal? Given their role as the ultimate guardian of America’s “national security,” would they permit Americans to enter into that sort of “suicide pact”? Would they provoke crises and wars abroad in a desperate fight to maintain their dominant role in international affairs?

My hunch is that the U.S. military and U.S. military-industrial complex would resist a dismantling of America’s overseas military empire as much as Egypt’s military and military-commercial establishment would resist a dismantling of Egypt’s domestic military empire. There are simply too many people who are now dependent on military welfare, and they would undoubtedly fight fiercely to maintain the continued flow of their warfare largess.

Unfortunately, all too many Americans, just like all too many Egyptians, have not yet come to the realization that the problems facing our respective countries are not ones based on getting “better people in public office.” Instead, the problems are systemic ones — ones that involve dismantling America’s warfare state and welfare state. That’s among the essential preconditions of a genuinely free society.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Liberal Snake Oil

If you’ve ever wondered what snake oil tastes like, just swallow a bit of what the liberals are prescribing for America’s economic ills. Too bad the FDA doesn’t make them put warning labels on that junk.

Liberals are saying that the key to restoring economic health to America lies in (1) increasing federal spending, (2) stimulating the economy with newly printed Federal Reserve paper money, (3) taxing the rich, and (4) piling on more federal debt.

Have you ever heard anything more ridiculous?

Hey, liberals, I’ve got a question for you: If your economic snake oil is so good — if it really brings economic prosperity to a nation — if it really helps the poor, as you claim, then pray tell: Why have the people in Cuba and North Korea been on the verge of starvation for decades?

After all, just think: All that communist officials in those two countries would have to do to end their poverty is increase government spending, have their central banks (i.e., their Federal Reserves) print more paper money, tax the rich, and increase government debt. They could then use all that money to embark on massive public-works projects, such as building dams, which would, liberals say, produce so many jobs and so much prosperity that such countries would quickly surpass the United States and the rest of the world in wealth and prosperity.

So, why haven’t they done it? After all, it’s not as though Cuba and North Korea have verged on mass starvation as of the last few weeks. They’ve been mired in abject poverty for decades.

Why are we libertarians so certain that statist economic proposals would not work in Cuba and North Korea? Because they haven’t worked in those two countries! In fact, statism is what defines communist/socialist countries. And it is because such countries fully and completely embraced the economic snake oil that liberals are selling to Americans that they are still mired in deep poverty.

Consider the statist of idea of taxing the rich. They did that in Cuba and North Korea long ago. They took everything from the rich. They seized their bank accounts and nationalized their businesses. And they ended up frittering away the money and running the businesses into the ground. And then they figured out that with no private sector, there was no income to support the public sector with income taxes. Duh! And everyone ended up poor and working for the state, just like good little slaves and serfs.

When liberals call for more taxes on the rich here in America, what they fail to realize is that they might well be on the verge of tipping the private sector into a permanent state of growing collapse. Taxpayers can only handle a certain amount of tax burden. At some point the private sector will start to cave in on itself, with businesses closing and people being put out of jobs, which then increases the drain on the government’s welfare-state system. That’s obviously what has happened in Greece. It’s the direction that the United States is headed into.

Consider the statist idea of stimulating the economy with newly printed money. How does that produce real wealth? It doesn’t and it can’t. All it does is distort the price system, introducing chaos into the marketplace. People make wrong savings, investment, and consumption decisions based on the distorted signals. The result is bubbles that end up bursting, as we’ve seen in the housing market.

Consider ever-growing government debt. How can a nation become wealthy when the government is saddling the nation with ever-growing debt that must ultimately be repaid by taxpayers? Real wealth comes from savings. When a person saves a million dollars, we call him a millionaire. When a person has a million dollars in debt hanging over him and no assets to speak of, we call him busted, broke, or bankrupt.

What is the real key to a nation’s wealth and prosperity? Libertarianism! That is, a way of life in which people are free to keep everything they earn (i.e., no income taxation), no economic regulations or restrictions (i.e., free enterprise), unlimited accumulation of capital, free trade and open immigration, no paper money, no central bank (i.e., Federal Reserve), no government welfare (including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid), no government debt, and no imperialist warfare state, foreign military adventures, foreign military bases, and domestic military-industrial complex.

Libertarianism is the key to ending the economic woes and poverty in Cuba, North Korea, and the United States. Unlike the economic snake oil that liberals continue selling to Americans, libertarianism is genuine medicine for what ails the body politic everywhere.

Monday, July 11, 2011

No Faith in Freedom

Why are so many people opposed to ending the welfare-state programs that have come into existence since the 1930s, especially when they see that they’re contributing to the downfall of our nation?

One reason is because after years of paying taxes, they feel like they’re entitled to receive a dole from the government.

But they often forget that government is just a fiction. For the government to pay a dole to them, it must first forcibly collect the money from people who are working for a living.

Does the fact that people have paid taxes all their lives morally entitle them to use the government to do the same thing to other people? I can’t see how it does. How can a wrongful act morally justify another morally wrongful act? Suppose the government had spent all those tax monies over the years bombing and killing people in overseas invasions, wars of aggression, and occupations. Would people’s attitudes be different in that case? Or would they say, “By taxing me to fund those overseas military adventures, the government has left me poor. The government now owes me a dole”?

But why should it matter whether the government used the tax money it collected from people to bomb and kill people or to provide a dole to people? Why should that morally justify the continuation of a system in which the victims victimize other people?

Even though statists won’t acknowledge it, everyone instinctively knows that the welfare state way of life has proven to be a dismal failure. Just look at Cuba or North Korea, both welfare-state paradises in which people are on the verge of starvation. Or look at Greece, which is busted and pleading for international welfare handouts. Even here in the United States, everyone knows that the system is cracking apart with massive spending, debt, taxation, and inflation.

The crux of the problem is the welfare-warfare way of life that now characterizes our country. The spending and borrowing to pay for welfare-warfare activities have become so massive that the government is now faced with bankruptcy. The debt now amounts to $46,000 a person, and it just keeps growing and growing. Yet, so many Americans, just like so many Greeks, are steadfastly holding that the system be maintained.

In addition to the moral debauchery of using the state to plunder and loot people for the purpose of putting others on a dole, and in addition to hurtling the government toward financial bankruptcy, there is something else that should be considered: the fact that so many Americans have lost their faith in freedom and free markets. Thanks to the dole way of life, many Americans are absolutely convinced that without these socialist programs, seniors would die in the streets from starvation, sick people would die from lack of medical care, and people would never get educated. Like people in the Soviet Union, who were so convinced that free markets would bring even more starvation and destitution than socialism had brought them, Americans just cannot bring themselves to let go of their own socialism.

Getting America back on the right road requires confronting the welfare state and warfare state directly and, equally important, confronting ourselves. America is not in need of welfare-warfare reforms or getting better people in public office to manage an inherently immoral and defective system. Instead, our nation is in need of an entire paradigm change, one that entails a total dismantling — repeal — elimination — of the welfare-warfare way of life that has proven so immoral and destructive. We need a sound moral, economic, and financial foundation, one that will lead our nation to peace, prosperity, and harmony. That means freedom, free markets, voluntary charity, and a limited-government republic. That necessarily entails a faith in ourselves, others, freedom, free markets, and God, rather than in coercion, bureaucracy, and statism.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Kissing Your IRAs and 401ks Goodbye 

Americans might be wise to prepare themselves for what might happen if the feds are permitted to continue spending and borrowing to their heart’s content, which of course they will be able to do if the debt ceiling is raised. At some point, the level of debt gets so high that no one is willing to lend the government any more money simply because the risk of default is too high. That’s what happened in Greece.

If things get to that point, people might well find themselves kissing their IRAs and 401ks goodbye. Why? Because a wounded, angry, voracious federal government, desperately in need of money to fund its welfare-warfare activities, might well go looking for large sums of ready cash to seize. And what juicier fruit than IRAs and 401ks?

That’s essentially what government officials in Argentina did when the government ran out of money and no one was willing to lend it any more. They just went out and nationalized people’s private retirement accounts.

And don’t forget that that’s essentially what FDR and his statist cronies did during the 1930s. They seized everyone’s gold and then made it a felony offense to possess gold, notwithstanding that gold coins (and silver coins) had been the nation’s official money for more than a century.

FDR and his merry band of looters got away with it. Oh, that’s not to say they didn’t pay for the gold. They did — with devalued paper money. Obama and his fellow statists undoubtedly would do something along the same lines after confiscating people’s retirement accounts. They’d give people debased and devalued U.S. bonds, which, they would tell people, are as good as gold.

Since the situation would inevitably involve a severe financial crisis, federal officials would inevitably cry the two magic words that would secure them the allegiance of the judiciary: “national security.” There would also be boisterous patriotic campaigns, much like FDR’s Blue Eagle campaign, that would condemn and ostracize those who objected to having their money stolen from them.

But protests would most likely be for naught, just as they were after Argentina’s nationalization of retirement accounts and FDR’s nationalization of gold. Given that federal officials have succeeded in ignoring important constraints in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, there’s little reason to think that they wouldn’t get away with ignoring the Fifth Amendment’s express prohibition against depriving people of property without due process of law too.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Debt-Ceiling Charade

Since the debt-ceiling deadline is now only a month away, I thought I should repeat the prediction I made several months ago: The Republicans are going to cave. They will vote to lift the debt ceiling once again, confirming what a fraud the debt-ceiling is. If it’s continually lifted, then it really isn’t a ceiling. Federal spending will continue soaring and increasing loads of debt will be thrown on the backs of the American people. Let us constantly keep in mind that that’s the point of raising the debt ceiling — to enable these people to continue their massive spending, borrowing, and taxing binge.

Why am I so certain that the Republicans are going to cave? Because they are as committed to the preservation, maintenance, and growth of the welfare-warfare state as Democrats are. The last thing either Republicans or Democrats are going to do is jeopardize the massive spending and borrowing that is necessary to keep the welfare-warfare programs going.

Consider the domestic biggies: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, the top three crown jewels of the welfare state. Everyone acknowledges that they are threatening the economic well-being of our nation. But no one except libertarians is proposing repeal — abolishment — elimination. Instead, most everyone, at most, is calling for minor reforms, such as extending the eligibility age, or at worst, actually calling for increases in spending for these socialistic programs.

Okay, if they won’t abolish the three biggies, how about all the other domestic welfare-state programs. No luck there either because whenever someone focuses on one particular program, the statists respond, “Oh, that’s just a tiny part of federal spending and so eliminating that program isn’t going to do much good anyway.” So, each program is protected from repeal because it involves only a small amount of federal spending. Never mind, of course, that all those tiny parts add up collectively to a very large percentage.

Then there’s the warfare state, which is as near and dear to Republicans as the Cold War was. “Even though military spending is sending our government into bankruptcy, we have to keep going because our national security is at stake,” Republicans exclaim. They’re convinced that without a worldwide military empire with some 1000 military bases in some 130 countries, America would quickly be conquered by the communists, illegal aliens, terrorists, and drug dealers.

For decades, Americans have been able to avoid confronting the impending disaster, much as the people of Greece have. But today, reality is mugging people in the face. Americans are now having to confront the reality of what the welfare-warfare state way of life has brought them — a way of life in which Americans are warring against other Americans, desperately using the government to seize money that belongs to others in order to feather their own nest with it — a way of life in which Americans live in perpetual fear of those people overseas who are threatening to retaliate for what the U.S. government is doing to them over there — a way of life involving legalized plunder, looting, assassination, torture, wars of aggression, invasions, undeclared wars, and kangaroo tribunals.

Ultimately, the solution to all this does not lie in Washington. It lies within the American people. Americans need to confront the welfare-warfare state directly, not only on pragmatic grounds — that it’s sending the nation into bankruptcy but also on moral grounds — that welfare-state programs and warfare-state programs are morally wrong.

That solution inevitably leads to libertarianism, the philosophy that entails a consistent defense of freedom in all aspects.

We libertarians are not like liberals, who argue that the warfare state should be reined in a bit so that the welfare state can be preserved and expanded.

And we’re not like conservatives, who argue that the welfare state should be reined in a bit so that the warfare state can be preserved and expanded.

Hewing to moral principles and sound economic principles, we libertarians hold that all welfare-state and all warfare-state programs, departments, and agencies should be dismantled, repealed, and abolished. It is the only way to place our nation back on a sound moral foundation while, at the same time, restoring freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony to our land.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why No Military Tribunal for Casey Anthony?

In the wake of the jury’s verdict of acquittal in the Casey Anthony murder trial, the obvious question arises: How about letting the states employ the U.S. military’s tribunal system in murder cases, well at least in those cases in which the state is not sure it can secure a guilty verdict from a jury?

Wouldn’t that make us safer?

After all, that’s what the feds did in terrorism cases. After the 9/11 attacks, they unilaterally decided that they would have the option of sending terrorist suspects down two alternative roads — the federal court road and the military “enemy combatant” road.

The federal court road was the traditional one established by the Constitution. That’s the one that treats terrorist suspects as accused criminals, given that terrorism has long been defined as a federal crime in the U.S. Code. This is the road that leads to federal grand-jury indictments, a federal court prosecution, and all the rights and guarantees provided by the Bill of Rights.

The federal court route entails the right of trial by jury, the presumption of innocence, the exclusion of irrelevant and incompetent evidence, and a prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments.

It also involves the possibility that a jury of ordinary citizens will find that the government has failed to prove the guilt of the accused terrorist beyond a reasonable doubt.

That’s apparently what happened in the Casey Anthony case. While lots of people across the country are convinced that Anthony did, in fact, murder her child, that’s not enough under our system of justice, both at the state and federal level. It’s not even enough even if the jury itself was convinced that the woman was guilty. What matters is whether the state was able to prove the woman’s guilt to the satisfaction of the jury beyond a reasonable doubt with relevant and competent evidence. The jury apparently believed that the state had failed to meet that burden.

So, to get around that in terrorism cases, after the 9/11 attacks the feds simply decreed that they would have the discretionary authority to treat suspected terrorists as either accused criminals or as enemy combatants.

Under the enemy-combatant designation, the accused gets sent into the post-9/11 “judicial” system that the Pentagon created at Guantanamo Bay. That system makes it virtually certain that the feds will secure a conviction. The defendants are presumed guilty. It’s easy to torture confessions out of them or to torture others into providing evidence against them. Best of all, no one has to convince ordinary citizens of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Guilt is determined by a group of loyal, patriotic military officials who obediently answer to superior military officers.

In the event the feds are faced with no evidence in a military tribunal, no problem. They can and do just drag their feet for years in bringing the person to trial. Unlike the federal court system, which is bound by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, there is no requirement in the military-tribunal system to have a speedy trial.

Thus, the unlucky ones get the enemy-combatant treatment and the more fortunate ones get the criminal-defendant treatment. Obviously, the difference in treatment is like night and day.

But under President Obama, the feds are now integrating both systems. TheNew York Times today is reporting that a Somali citizen has been indicted in federal district court for terrorism. Yet, he’s been held and interrogated for two months by military officials as an enemy combatant.

So, why shouldn’t the states follow the lead of the feds and declare a “war on murder,” just as the feds did in declaring a “war on terrorism”? Or how about a “war on drugs,” bringing in the military and sending all drug suspects to Guantanamo Bay for enemy-combatant treatment? Better yet, how about simply declaring a general “war on crime”? That would enable the states to turn over all criminal suspects who it might have difficulty convicting to Guantanamo Bay for the military enemy-combatant treatment.

After all, does anyone doubt that the CIA and the Pentagon could have secured a confession out of Casey Anthony, especially if they waterboarded her a few hundred times or subjected her to sensory deprivation, stress positions, the rack, or other harsh interrogation? As a matter of fact, maybe it’s not too late, given that the U.S. military now wields the power to ignore jury verdicts of acquittal in federal court terrorism cases and take the accused into custody, just like the Gestapo did in Nazi Germany.

Oh, gosh, I hope I haven’t given state prosecutors any ideas.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

North Korea’s Socialist Famines

People living in the socialist paradise of North Korea are suffering another big bout of famine and starvation, so severe in fact that the European Union is sending $14.6 million in emergency food aid for more than 650,000 starving North Koreans.

Here’s what the New York Times says are the causes of North Korea’s chronic food crises: “The food shortages have been caused by years of economic mismanagement and underinvestment, and have been made worse by poor weather and a reduction of food imports from China and South Korea.”

Isn’t that both revealing and laughable? That’s the trouble with statists — they just cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that their beloved welfare state fails to deliver the goods, including something as basic and important as food.

Don’t we see the same thing here in the United States? Don’t the statists tell us that America’s economic woes lie in unfettered free markets, a lack of sufficient regulations, the president’s mismanagement of the economy, and insufficient spending at the malls? Doesn’t their solution revolve entirely around having the government wield more power over economic activity, like in North Korea?

Attention, statists: There is one — and only one — cause of North Korea’s economic woes — socialism. Or, if you prefer, the welfare state. Or the paternalistic society.

What the North Koreans have done is simply take statist economic principles to their logical conclusion, which is why they’re now starving to death.

Consider President Obama. He wants to impose higher taxes on the rich in order to cover the federal government’s massive welfare-warfare spending binge. He figures that if the feds can just tax the rich a bit more, happy days will be here again with respect to federal spending and borrowing.

What North Korea has done is take Obama’s basic position and apply it fully and completely across the board. Rather than just tax the rich, North Korea took everything from the rich and nationalized it. It now prevents people from getting rich by having everyone work for the state at a low salary. Everyone in North Korea is equally poor, which of course is a dream-come-true for statists.

The nationalization of everything in North Korea was actually no different in principle from what statist icon Franklin Roosevelt did with gold owned by Americans. FDR nationalized everyone’s gold, required Americans to turn it in to the government, and made it a felony offense for the rich and everyone else to own gold in the future. That’s what North Korea did with everything.

Once the North Korean government took over everything, there was no more private sector. That’s obviously a problem because the only way that government gets its money is by taxing the private sector or borrowing from it. Once the private sector is gone, people have to rely on government-owned and government-run operations to feed and clothe them.

But we all know that socialist enterprises end up running things into the ground. So, why would should it surprise us that people living in a totally socialized system would be verging on starvation?

Statists would undoubtedly respond, “Yeah, but look at the bright side of socialism. Everyone in North Korea has free education, free health care, free food, and a guaranteed job.”

Whoopdeedoo! The education is provided by the state (i.e., public schooling), which is why North Koreans have been indoctrinated into believing how free they are. And what good is it to have free this and free that if everyone is dying of starvation or illness? And when everyone is forced to work for the government, how is that different from slaves who are forced to live their lives working for the greater good of society, just waiting for death to arrive?

I should also mention that North Korea also has a big warfare state and that officials love to keep the people constantly stirred up with patriotic fervor, militarism, crises, and the constant threat of a foreign attack on their country. Sound familiar?

There is one — and only one — solution to North Korea’s economic woes, and it lies not with the European Union’s socialist transfer of food to North Korea or any other statist program. The solution is libertarianism: a total dismantling of North Korea’s socialist system — discharging all the welfare-warfare state workers into the private sector — privatizing all lands, businesses, and properties within the country — abolishing all restrictions and regulations on economic enterprise — and leaving people free to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth.

Libertarianism is the only that will bring economic prosperity and harmony to North Korea. It’s the only thing that will do the same here in the United States.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Opposite Forms of Freedom on the Fourth

I’d like to share two points about the Fourth of July that I believe are important:

First, the people who signed the Declaration of Independence were not American citizens, as is commonly believed. The people who took up arms against the British government were not fighting a foreign power. The revolutionaries were British citizens. They took up arms against their own government. They were shooting the troops rather than supporting them.

Why did they do that? Because they believed that their government was engaged in terrible wrongdoing. That wrongdoing is specified within the Declaration. They believed that when people’s own government is engaged in wrongdoing and persists in that wrongdoing, it is up the citizenry to take a stand against it.

There are undoubtedly those who consider the rebels to have been traitors — people who refuse to support their own government, especially in time of crisis and war. British government officials certainly considered George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and others who joined the Revolution to be criminals and traitors.

Not me. I consider the signers of the Declaration to have been the real patriots. It’s not easy to take a public stand against the wrongdoing of one’s own government.

For one thing, the dissidents must put up with all the nasty things that the good, little citizens hurl at them — the citizens who have the mindset of “my government, never wrong, especially in crisis and war.”

For another, there is the threat of retaliation from the government itself. We often forget that if Washington, Jefferson, and the others had lost, they would have been hanged as common criminals and traitors by British government officials, to the applause of all the good, little citizens who sided with their government in the conflict.

In fact, the easiest thing in the world — the thing that takes no courage at all — is to take the side of the government in times of crisis and war. What takes courage is to stand against it during such times. My favorite example of such courage is the story of the White Rose, where German young people had the courage to stand against their own government in the middle of World War II — and paid for it with their lives at the hands of their own government — for “treason.”

Second, the “freedom” that Americans today celebrate is opposite to the freedom that our American ancestors celebrated when they celebrated Independence Day every year. The reason I put the word in quotations is because I personally don’t consider it to be genuine freedom, but the fact is that most Americans today do.

Today, Americans define freedom as the extent to which the government is taking care of them, providing for them, and keeping them safe and secure from the likes of drug lords, terrorists, illegal aliens, and communists.

Consider the welfare state: Government provides people with retirement (Social Security), health care (Medicare and Medicaid), education (public schooling and education grants), farm subsidies, community grants, and many other programs that entail the government’s use of force to take money from whom it belongs in order to give it to people to whom it does not belong.

Consider the warfare state: 700-1000 military bases in some 130 countries, invasions, wars of aggression, undeclared wars, bombings, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, kidnapping, rendition, assassination, kangaroo tribunals, and the like. In a word, empire.

Consider the drug war, whereby the government wields the power to incarcerate people for ingesting non-approved substances, a 4-decade war that continues to wreak death, destruction, and corruption.

Consider the regulated society, in which governments at all levels regulate the most minute aspects of people’s lives, especially within the context of the so-called war on terrorism.

Consider the Federal Reserve and paper money, which involve a never-ending inflationary debasement of the value of people’s money in order to finance ever-burgeoning welfare-warfare state spending and debt.

Consider the income tax and the IRS, which suck money out of the pockets of those who have earned it in order to give it to those who haven’t earned it.

All this is considered “freedom” by modern-day Americans.

Not so with our American ancestors. Consider that for more than 100 years, they chose to live without income taxation, an IRS, a Federal Reserve, paper money, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, public (i.e., government) schooling, and other such socialistic programs.

No drug war for our ancestors. They believed that genuine freedom encompassed the right to ingest whatever one wants.

Also, for most of the first century of our nation’s existence our ancestors lived without militarism, a huge standing army, wars of aggression (the Mexican War being a notable exception), occupations, foreign military bases, a military industrial complex, kidnappings, torture, and assassination. In a word, they chose a republic, as compared to an empire.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that our Americans ancestors also lived without immigration controls and gun control.

Why did they reject the things that present-day Americans celebrate as “freedom”? Because they believed that all the things that present-day Americans have brought into existence with their welfare state and warfare state were opposite to freedom. Since they wanted to be free, they chose not to adopt such programs when they founded the country.

Does the welfare-warfare state way of life constitute genuine freedom? Permit me to answer that question with the words of the great German thinker Johann von Goethe: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

This post was written by:

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