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, February 2012

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Libertarians versus Liberals on the Poor

Wouldn’t it be great to have a national debate between liberals and libertarians over whose philosophy and policies help the poor?

For decades liberals have claimed that the welfare-state/regulated-economy way of life helps the poor. That has been the major rationale for the statist way of life under which we have all been born and raised.

Libertarians, on the other hand, hold the exact opposite. We hold that economic statism is the very worst thing for the poor. Contrary to liberals, we contend that if people truly want to help the poor, the best way to do that is do embrace the libertarian philosophy of economic liberty.

Consider Cuba, for example. That country has taken liberal principles to their logical conclusion. The government took from the rich and gave to the poor by nationalizing everything. Everyone became an employee of the government, including physicians, lawyers, and industrialists. By and large, everyone became equal in terms of income. Prices for goods and services, which were all provided by the state since the state now owned everything, were kept within reasonable limits by the state.

In other words, the Cuban revolution was a dream-come-true for genuine liberals, at least in terms of taking from the rich to give to the poor, which is the driving rationale behind the welfare state.

But look at what happened. Most everyone in Cuba is desperately poor, verging on starvation. That’s not a coincidence. When the state took everything from the rich by nationalizing their businesses and placing them under ownership and control of the state, the government killed the means by which wealth is created. Once that happened, it was just a matter of time that the government would fritter away the wealth that it had confiscated. That was why the Cuban government ultimately had to turn to Soviet foreign aid to help out. The government lacked the resources to maintain all its employees.

By the way, it’s also not a coincidence that civil liberties are non-existent in Cuba. When the state owns and controls everything and when people’s survival depends on receiving a check from the state, the state will end up controlling every aspect of people’s lives.

Liberals, of course, blame Cuba’s suffering on the U.S. embargo on Cuba, as do Cuban leaders. The embargo certainly has contributed to Cuba’s suffering. But the crux of the matter is socialism — the welfare state — the paternalistic society — the managed economy — central planning — state ownership over the means of production. That’s the central reason for the horrific poverty that afflicts Cuba. Without the embargo, the privation would not be as bad but it nonetheless would be horrific.

The critical question is one that liberals never ask: What causes wealth in a society? The Cuban authorities saw that there was already lots of wealth in Cuban society and thought, “All we have to do is confiscate it for the good of the people and the poor will benefit.” In the short term, some of the poor did benefit in that they had more money or better housing than before. But as the pool of wealth that has been confiscated begins to dissipate over time, most everyone ends up becoming desperately poor.

How is wealth created in society? That’s the critical question. Wealth is created through the efforts of private individuals to produce goods and services that other people want and then trade with other people for the goods and services they’re offering. Most people naturally want a better way of life for themselves and their families. They put their talents and abilities to use and go to work in some enterprise.

As people enter into trades with others, their individual wealth begins to increase, especially as they save a portion of their income. They might risk their pool of savings to start a business, one that employs other people. That obviously helps the people who are being employed, who now have a stream of income, a portion of which they are able to save.

Others may simply prefer to work for people who establish businesses rather than start businesses themselves. They prefer the security of a wage as compared to the risk of starting a business. They benefit from people who start businesses because people who start businesses create employment for people who would rather work for a wage rather than start a business.

As individuals begin accumulating savings, they place that money into banks. That pool of savings becomes capital that is available to lend out to businessmen. An owner of an enterprise goes to the bank and borrows the money to purchase tools and equipment that will make his employees more productive. The increase in productivity benefits consumers, especially in terms of decreased prices owing to increased supply. It also benefits the employees of a firm, which now has more money to pay higher wages.

In fact, that’s the way that real wages rise — through increased levels of capital in society. There is no other way. For example, printing paper money in an attempt to increase wages only ends up debasing the currency, which is a surreptitious way for the government to plunder and loot the citizenry. The only way to increase real wages (as compared to inflationary wage increases) is by making workers more productive, which can only happen with increases in capital, which are brought about by increases in savings.

Therefore, there is a mutual harmony of interests between the rich, the middle class, and the poor. The rich invest in businesses that hire the poor. The poor earn wages. They save a portion of their income. The savings go into banks. The business owners borrow the savings to purchase equipment that makes the workers more productive. The consumers, who largely consist of the workers, benefit with lower prices. Moreover, with increased production, the employees are able to earn higher wages. The employees might continue to work for the firm, with real wages continuing to rise. Or they might go out and start businesses with their pool of savings.

That’s the way a society gets wealthier. That’s the way poor people get wealthy or at least move into the ranks of the middle class. An unhampered market economy — one that is unhampered by government — is the key to alleviating poverty.

The problem, of course, is that as the amount of wealth in society increases, statists become over-consumed with envy and covetousness. They can’t stand the thought that there are people who are much richer than they or richer than others. They want everyone to be equal. In the name of helping the poor, they end up taxing the rich and then the middle class and then the poor. They use the state to confiscate the wealth that has been accumulated, beginning the downward spiral that retards the wealth-producing process and ultimately reverses it.

If the poor were ever to discover the truth about what the welfare state/managed-economy way of life has done to them and were to realize that the libertarian philosophy of economic liberty is the key to alleviating poverty, we would stand a good chance at achieving economic liberty. After all, can you imagine how difficult it would be for liberals to attack the poor for wanting the jettison the cause of their poverty?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Separate School & State, Even at the Local Level

Why won’t conservatives ever go to the root of the statist problems that face our nation? A good example involves education, an area that most conservatives will admit has long been mired in crisis. Yet, all that conservatives end up doing is dancing around the problem, as they do in so many other areas where statism produces crises.

I generally avoid listening to talk radio because I find it so boring. Leftist talk radio does nothing but extol the virtues of the socialism and the welfare state, despite the manifest economic harm they have done to society, especially the poor. Moreover, with Obama’s embrace of President Bush’s infringements on civil liberties and imperialist foreign policy, most liberal talk-show hosts have gone silent in these areas out of some sense of misguided political loyalty.

But conservative talk shows are just as boring, not so much because their mantras and analyses are wrong but because they are never able to take their principles to their logical conclusion. The hosts will exclaim how “pro-free enterprise” they are and they’ll show how the free market is superior to socialism. But then comes their solution, and that’s where they’ll put you to sleep. Their solution inevitable is, “The system needs reform” or “We have to get Republicans into office so that they can run government like a business.”

I was listening to a conservative talk radio show the other day. The topic was whether public schools should be providing free breakfast and lunch for poorer children. The host was arguing the standard conservative mantras. “It is not the business of the state to be feeding children! That is the responsibility of parents!”

There were two guests on the show, a conservative and a liberal. The conservative agreed with the host. The liberal argued that helping the poor was a societal responsibility and suggested that without the free meals, the children of poor families would be suffering serious malnutrition.

Not one single time did the conservatives challenge the liberal on the basic point of coercion — that it’s morally wrong to force people to care for others. Just because there might be a moral, religious, or ethical duty to help the poor doesn’t mean that it’s okay to force people to do so. Whether to help the poor or not should left entirely to the realm of freedom of choice.

But what was most frustrating was that the conservatives could not see the real issue, which was the proverbial elephant in the room. They could see that it isn’t the role of government to be feeding people but they had a total blind spot on what is just as big an issue, if not bigger: Why should it be the business of government to be educating people, including children?

Boiled down to its essence, the conservatives and liberals on that talk show were debating how public (i.e., government) schools should be run. Should there be free meals in public schools or not?

Why not instead to the root of the problem: Should there be public schools? In other words, why get bogged down over how to run statist enterprises? Why not challenge the existence of statist enterprises themselves?

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, with no public schools the issue of whether there should be free meals provided in public schools disintegrates.

One of the favorite campaign positions in Republican presidential campaigns is to call for the abolition of the federal Department of Education (even though once they’re in office they decide against it). Republicans correctly claim that the federal government has no legitimate or constitutional authority to be involving itself in education. They want to return authority over education completely to the states or localities.

But notice that that doesn’t get to the heart of the matter — the mandatory, state-provided, or state-monitored educational system known as public schooling. The real solution is simply to free the education market from all government control, including at the local level.

That would mean the repeal of all compulsory-attendance laws and the abolition of all school taxes. The school districts would divest themselves of ownership of the school buildings and dissolve the school districts themselves. People would be free to have their children educated in the manner they deemed best. Entrepreneurs would be free to offer whatever educational vehicles they desired to consumers.

Public schooling, even at the local level, is really nothing more than a socialist enterprise, which conservatives claim to oppose. It is a system that is based on central planning, coercive attendance, and mandatory funding. Its methodology is based on memorization and rote learning. The regimentation that is inherent to the system produces mindsets of deference to authority, mindsets that end up accepting the premises of the established order and that end up just trying to reform or fix it.

Most everyone acknowledges that the free market provides the best of everything. Compared to socialist enterprises, the free market provides superior products and services at lower cost. It would do the same in the field of education.

Most parents want only the best for their children. That’s in fact why many parents, including President Obama and his wife Michelle, refuse to send their children into the public-school system. Why not let children have the very best education possible? That can only happen in a free-market educational environment, one in which we separate school and state just as our ancestors separated church and state.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pull Them Out Now, Mr. President

Let’s give credit where credit is due. At least U.S. officials are not claiming that the recent killing of two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan was owing to generalized hatred for our “freedom and values,” which was the claim made by U.S. officials after the 9/11 attacks. Perhaps they know that given the U.S. military’s recent burning of multiple copies of the Koran, most Americans just wouldn’t fall for that explanation.

In the past several days, top U.S. officials, including President Obama, have issued public apologies for what the military did. The apologies are an implicit acknowledgement that what the U.S. government does to people overseas is fully capable of inciting anger and rage to such a large extent that people resort to killing Americans in retaliation.

It was no different, of course, when the photographs and videotapes showing torture and abuse of Iraqi citizens at the hands of U.S. forces, both military and CIA, at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Confronted with the irrefutable evidence of what had transpired inside those prison walls, U.S. officials knew that denial was out of the question. Moreover, by that time everyone knew that Iraq didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction and that all the victims at Abu Ghraib were totally innocent of the 9/11 attacks.

Despite the fact that U.S. officials had opened the floodgates for torture and abuse, they deemed it advisable to disassociate themselves with what occurred at Abu Ghraib and to issue public apologies for the misconduct. They also hid away photos and videos that showed much more egregious conduct than what the released photos had shown.

Why did they do that?

They knew that the Iraqi people were horribly angry over what had taken place at Abu Ghraib, and U.S. officials were trying to diffuse the anger to diminish the potential for retaliatory action against U.S. forces in Iraq. Their profuse apologies were, once again, an implicit acknowledgement that people overseas oftentimes get very angry over what the U.S. does to them and end up retaliating against Americans by killing them, even at the cost of losing their own lives.

So, why can’t U.S. officials (and U.S. interventionists) simply admit that that was the motivating factor behind the 9/11 attacks — that is, the horrific things that U.S. officials had done to people in the Middle East prior to 9/11? Why all the ridiculous charade of “Oh, they just hate us for our ‘freedom and values’”?

After all, if Muslims get angry over the burning of the Koran, why wouldn’t they get angry over the stationing of U.S. troops near the holiest lands of the Muslim religion? Why wouldn’t they get angry over U.S. support of Saddam Hussein during his war on Iran during the 1980s, only to turn on him and kill countless Iraqis in the Persian Gulf intervention? Why wouldn’t they get angry over the intentional destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants, with the intent of spreading infectious illnesses among the Iraqi people? Why wouldn’t they get angry over the 11 years of brutal sanctions that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children? Why wouldn’t they get angry over the callous pronouncement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it”? Why wouldn’t they get angry over the illegal no-fly zones over Iraq that killed more Iraqis, including more children? Why wouldn’t they get angry over unconditional foreign aid delivered both to the Israeli regime and to brutal dictatorial regimes in the Middle East, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, and others?

Enough is enough. The U.S. government has been occupying Afghanistan for more than a decade. During that time, it’s been killing, maiming, detaining without trial, and torturing countless Afghanis. That makes people angry too. And the longer the occupation continues, the deeper the anger becomes. The larger the rage, the greater the possibility that more Americans are going to be killed in retaliation.

It’s time to bring the troops home — now, not later. It’s time to restore a normal way of life for America, one that does not have the constant and perpetual sense of crisis, chaos, war, and preparation for war — where Americans are freely living out their lives without fear that someone is going to kill them in retaliation for what the U.S. government has done to foreigners, their families, their friends, or their countrymen.

It’s time to let the U.S. government’s crooked, corrupt, puppet dictatorship in Afghanistan fly on its own. Pull them out now, Mr. President. At least then the U.S. government will no longer be making the matter worse, both for the people of Afghanistan and the people of America.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Don’t Northwoods Iran

All the buzz over possible war with Iran brings us a déjà vu feeling, given that U.S. officials prepared Americans with similar pre-war hype in the run up to their war on Iraq. WMDs. Mushroom clouds over American cities. An insane dictator. Threats to national security. Etcetera.

Keep in mind that Iran, like Iraq, has never attacked the United States. If President Obama gives his military and his CIA orders to attack Iran, the United States will once again be the aggressor nation, as it was in its war on Iraq.

That’s one reason, of course, aggressors like to maneuver targeted nations into firing the first shot. In that way, the aggressor nation can tell its citizens, “We’ve been attacked! We’re innocent! We have been forced to go to war to defend ourselves.”

That’s what President Franklin Roosevelt tried to do with the Germans prior to U.S. entry into World War II. He knew that the American people were steadfastly opposed to entering into another European war, given the large number of American soldiers who had died for nothing in World War I.

But the Germans refused to take the bait. So, FDR went into the Pacific in search of a “back door to war.” By imposing sanctions and an oil embargo on Japan in the middle of its war on China, FDR figured that he stood a good chance of maneuvering the Japanese into retaliating with a military strike on U.S. forces in the Pacific.

FDR proved to be right. While the debate continues over whether FDR had actual knowledge of the upcoming attack on Hawaii, there is little doubt that he was anticipating an attack somewhere in the Pacific. When the attack came at Pearl Harbor, FDR had achieved his goal — U.S. entry into World War II.

The brutal sanctions that the U.S. government imposed against Iraq during the 1990s had much the same goal. The idea was that Saddam Hussein would not sit idly by and watch tens of thousands of Iraqi children die yearly and would instead retaliate with a military strike against U.S. forces in the region. Or the idea was that public agony in Iraq over the continuing deaths of Iraqi children would cause Saddam to be taken out by an internal military coup that would install a pro-U.S. regime into power.

But it was not to be. The children continued to die as each year went by, and Saddam remained in power. It was 9/11 and the fake WMD alerts on Iraq that enabled President George W. Bush to invade Iraq and achieve the regime change that the sanctions hadn’t achieved.

As the sanctions against Iran produce ever-growing suffering among the Iranian people, will the Iranian regime sit back and simply watch it or will it retaliate with a military strike on U.S. forces in the region? It’s impossible to predict, but what’s easy to predict is the U.S. response to an Iranian military strike: “We’ve been attacked! We’re innocent! We were just minding our own business! We have been forced to defend ourselves by bombing Iran.”

Another option for avoiding the appearance of being the aggressor power is the Operation Northwoods option. During the Kennedy administration, the Pentagon and the CIA wanted to invade Cuba to effect regime change there. But they didn’t want to appear as the aggressor power.

So, the Joint Chiefs of Staff came up with a proposal that it unanimously approved and presented to JFK. The plan called for U.S. personnel to disguise themselves as agents of the Cuban government and to engage in terrorist attacks on the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay. It also called for terrorist attacks within the United States that would be conducted by pro-U.S. forces disguising themselves as Cuban agents.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Operation Northwoods involved the proposed hijacking of an American passenger plane. The JCS proposed that a real plane containing American passengers would be hijacked by friendly forces disguised as Cuban agents. The plane would drop down off the radar screen and be replaced by a pilotless aircraft, which would crash, purportedly killing all the passengers. Under the plan, the real passenger plane would be secretly flown back to the United States.

Do you see the problem though? How could the real passengers be released back to their families without revealing that they hadn’t really crashed?

Once all this had taken place, the Pentagon expected President Kennedy to look into the national television cameras and simply lie to the American people and to the world by falsely claiming that the Cuban government had attacked the United States.

Of course, the Pentagon and the CIA would be expected to lie as well. No doubt all documents relating to all this terrorist activity would have been classified and remained secret for the next century or at least as long as they could all be destroyed.

To Kennedy’s ever-lasting credit, he rejected Operation Northwoods. Such might not have been the case if Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson had been president. Don’t forget that just a few years later, Nixon would lie about the Watergate cover-up and Johnson would lie about the Gulf of Tonkin attack.

In fact, the Gulf of Tonkin incident provides another way that war could break out against Iran. In order to provoke the North Vietnamese into attacking U.S. forces, the Pentagon ordered U.S. Naval vessels to patrol in or near North Vietnamese waters. When that plan didn’t work, the Pentagon simply made up a fake attack, falsely claiming that the North Vietnamese had attacked the U.S. vessels. Seizing upon the fake attack, Johnson secured the infamous Gulf of Tonkin Resolution from Congress that empowered him to launch his military invasion of Vietnam, an invasion that ended up costing the lives of almost 60,000 American men, who died for nothing.

The U.S. government has no business engaging in another war of aggression. It has already killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, none of whom had anything to do with 9/11. It has done the same to hundreds of thousands of Afghanis, most of whom had nothing to do with 9/11. It was killed countless people in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere, most of whom had nothing to do with 9/11.

Enough is enough. But if President Obama (or his possible successor) does decide to go to war with Iran, he should be required, on pain of impeachment, to follow the law that we the people have imposed upon him with our Constitution. He should be made to secure a declaration of war from Congress before sending our nation into war. At least in that way, Congress could ferret out whether the president, the Pentagon, and the CIA have employed a Pearl Harbor, Operation Northwoods, or Gulf of Tonkin scheme to justify their war.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spending, not Taxation, Is the Problem

With President Obama and various Republican presidential candidates competing to reduce corporate income taxes, it must be election time. Do you ever feel like you’re living in a Latin American country, where the presidential candidates are notorious for offering all sorts of political candy to the voters during the campaign season?

The whole notion of reducing taxes is, of course, ridiculous. Why? Because as Milton Friedman pointed out, the real level of taxation is the amount of money the government is spending. Whatever the government is spending is what the government must collect in taxes. Thus, when spending exceeds tax revenues and the government lowers taxes on one group, another group will have to make up the difference with increased taxes.

Suppose, for example, the government is spending $100,000. Suppose that there are three groups in society. Group A is paying $50,000 in taxes. Group B is paying $30,000. Group C is paying $20,000. The amount of ax revenues equals the amount of federal spending.

During campaign season, in the attempt to garner votes, presidential candidates promise to lower taxes for people in Group A by $20,000.

But that’s not all. The candidates also promise to deliver additional government welfare to all three groups, the total cost of which will be $30,000.

The mainstream media cheers! The voters are ecstatic. This is absolutely fantastic! Reduced taxes and increased benefits! Would could be better than that? We have the best presidential candidates in the whole world!

But there is obviously a big problem. With the campaign promises, government expenditures will total $130,000 (including the additional $30,000 in welfare benefits) while tax receipts (including the $30,000 reduction in taxes for Group A) now total $70,000. That’s a $60,000 deficit..

Since government gets its money through taxation, that’s obviously a problem. The government must get the additional $60,000 from someone. By lowering taxes on Group A, the government must increase taxes on Groups A or B to cover the difference.

Of course, the government could go into the capital markets and borrow the money, which is what the U.S. government, the Greek government, and many other governments have been doing for a long time. But that only delays the inevitable. When the bonds come due, taxes must be imposed on people to pay off the amount borrowed.

Another course of action, one that the U.S. government has used for decades, is simply to print the money rather than impose higher taxes on those people in Groups B and C. That’s where the Federal Reserve, or central bank, comes into play. Its job is to enable public officials to pay off government debt in money that then constantly falls in value due to its ever-increasing supply.

That’s, in fact, why the value of the U.S. dollar is worth only a fraction of what it was worth when the Fed was established. It’s also why Americans are now relegating to using coins consisting of cheap alloys rather than gold and silver. The bad money drove out the good money.

The obvious benefit to inflation is that it enables politicians to promise tax cuts and welfare increases without overt tax increases to make up the difference. Politicians know that the mainstream media and most voters will look upon them as fantastic magicians who clearly love the people. When prices begin rising in response to the debased currency, the politicians know that the mainstream media and most people will never figure out that it is the government’s doing. They’ll inevitably blame the rising prices on “big corporations,” “greed,” or “market forces.”

The real problem facing our nation is the out-of-control spending — spending that far exceeds the amount of taxes being collected. That has led and continued to lead to out-of- control debt, which inevitably leads to inflationary debasement of the money supply by the Federal Reserve.

As long as spending continues to soar, the economic problems facing the American people will continue to grow, just as they will continue to grow for the people of Greece.

The best solution out of this morass, however, is not just to cut federal spending so that it equals tax revenues. Instead, the time has come for Americans to challenging the entire welfare-state paradigm and warfare-state paradigm that have brought us so many problems.

Repealing and dismantling both the welfare state and the warfare state would mean no more socialist programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and no more overseas military empire or domestic military industrial complex. It would mean no more Federal Reserve. And it was mean no more income taxation, rendering moot political promises to reduce income taxes at election time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tear Down the Wall with Cuba

While U.S. officials are decrying the Egyptian military dictatorship’s criminal prosecution of U.S.-government-funded NGOs for supposedly spreading “freedom and democracy” without a government-required license, now would be a good time to revisit Cuba’s criminal conviction of Alan Gross.

Gross, an American citizen, was caught bringing satellite phones, laptops, smartphones, hard drives, and networking equipment into Cuba without the license that Cuban law requires. He was convicted by Cuban officials and is now serving a 15-year sentence

Gross was serving as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a federal agency “that provides economic, development, and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.”

In the past, the agency has also been used as a front for the CIA, which itself has a long, notorious history with Cuba, stretching back to its infamous “covert” military invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in an unsuccessful regime-change operation.

Of course, both Gross and the feds are denying that he was working as an agent of the U.S. government when he was caught violating Cuban law. But as most everyone knows, such denials are meaningless, given that U.S. officials, especially CIA agents, would lie about what they were doing anyway.

The real point is this: What business does the U.S. government have interfering with Cuba’s internal affairs? Of course, USAID and other U.S. officials would respond, “Oh, it’s just that we love freedom and democracy and remain appalled over the fact that freedom and democracy don’t exist in Cuba. We just love the Cuban people so much that we’re doing our best to bring them freedom and democracy.”

What nonsense.

Consider the brutal economic embargo that the U.S. government has enforced against Cuba for some 50 years. By now, U.S. officials cannot claim ignorance of how much suffering the embargo has caused the Cuban people.

In the beginning, U.S. officials said the same thing they always say when they’re imposing sanctions on foreign regimes — that they have no intent to target the citizenry but only the dictator. But after decades of experience with sanctions, everyone knows that the dictator gets along fine notwithstanding the sanctions. It’s the citizenry who pay the price. In fact, as both Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro learned, the U.S. sanctions against their countries actually helped them to centralize their power.

Like the sanctions in Iraq, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, the sanctions on Cuba have had one and only one goal: regime change, whereby the Castro brothers are ousted from power and replaced with a regime that is subservient to the U.S. Empire. That’s in fact what all the aggression by the CIA and the Pentagon has been all about since the Cuban revolution, including the Bay of Pigs invasion, sabotage and terrorism within Cuba, and assassination attempts against Castro. The goal has always been to replace the Castros with another Fulgencio Batista, the brutal dictator who was oppressing the Cuban people with the full support of the U.S. government until Castro succeeded in sending him packing to the United States.

What are sanctions if not a direct violation of economic freedom — not only of the Cuban people, who are denied economic intercourse with Americans, but also the economic liberty of the American people, who are prohibited from traveling to Cuba and spending their money there?

That’s what all too many Americans fail to confront — that their very own government will put them into jail and fine them for spending their money in Cuba without a U.S.-government-issued license. Yes, the same type of license that the Cuban government required Gross to secure before he could distribute his computer equipment! Isn’t that ironic?

If U.S. officials were really interested in the economic well-being of the Cuban people and if they were genuinely interested in spreading freedom and democracy there, they would immediately lift their cruel and inhumane embargo that has contributed so much the suffering of the Cuban people.

Imagine thousands of American tourists flooding into Cuba, talking, trading, and interacting with the Cuban people. Imagine how many computers and communications equipment could be smuggled into the country by private citizens. Imagine how many ideas on liberty could be discussed with Cubans. Imagine the same with respect to Cuban tourists flooding into the United States.

That’s how you bring freedom and democracy to a foreign country — not with covert, nefarious government schemes that mimic the methods of the communists but instead with freedom and free markets — that is, by liberating the American people to travel and trade with the Cuban people and the rest of the people of the world.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The New York Times Has It Wrong on U.S. Aid to Egypt

The New York Times, along with other members of the mainstream media, is in a tizzy over the Egyptian government’s decision to charge three American NGO’s, along with 19 American officers of the organizations, with criminal violations. Apparently the NGO’s failed to comply with Egypt’s registration requirements prior to engaging in “pro-democracy” political activity in Egypt.

In an editorial on the subject, the Times suggests that the U.S. government’s should consider terminating the $1.3 billion in U.S. foreign aid that the U.S. government gives annually to the Egyptian regime.

What? Don’t we at least have to worry about “national security”? After all, what other justification would there be for sending some $39 billion to a brutal military dictatorship for the last 30 years?

Shocking!

Not surprisingly, the Times just doesn’t get it. The paper doesn’t delve deeper into the issue by asking some profound questions, such as: Why has the U.S. government been funding a military dictatorship for three decades — and a brutal one at that? Why is the U.S. government interfering with the internal affairs of another country by funding organizations that refuse to comply with the laws of that country? Indeed, why should the U.S. government be funneling taxpayer money into foreign regimes and supposedly private organizations?

The uncomfortable fact — one that the Times would never dare to openly acknowledge — is that the U.S. government loves dictatorships, especially military ones. Consider just a few examples:

* The Shah of Iran’s dictatorship, which the U.S. government installed into power after ousting the democratically elected prime minister of the country.

* The succession of military dictatorships in Guatemala that the U.S. government installed into power after ousting the democratically elected president of the country.

* Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship in Chile that the U.S. government helped install into power, which entailed the ouster of the democratically elected president of the country, and then supported with massive amounts of foreign aid.

* The military dictatorship in Argentina, which the U.S. government long supported.

* The dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East.

* The Musharraf military dictatorship in Pakistan.

* The dictatorships in some of the former Soviet bloc countries.

Indeed, with its almost $40 billion in aid to the Egyptian military dictatorship over the last 30 years, the U.S. government has been doing everything it can to sustain the regime, a brutal dictatorial regime that has been oppressing the Egyptian people during that entire time.

In fact, let’s not forget that the U.S. government chose Egypt’s military dictatorship to serve as one of its loyal rendition-torture partners. That’s where the CIA took the guy it illegally kidnapped in Italy to be tortured and detained without trial.

Why did the CIA choose Egypt? Because it knew that Egypt ranked among the top brutal regimes in the world, especially when it came to torturing people. Why choose the worse torturers when you’ve bought and paid for the best with billions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid? U.S. officials chose the Egyptian military dictatorship precisely because they knew that they could count on it to torture their victims well, efficiently, and brutally.

The Egyptian military regime is now obviously concerned with the possibility that the U.S. government, sensing the winds of change in the Middle East, might be changing positions. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that the U.S. government has turned on pro-U.S. dictatorships.

Recall Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. It was a partner and ally of the U.S. government in the 1980s. But then the U.S. government turned on Saddam and ended up ousting him from power.

Recall also that the U.S. government employed the dictatorships in Syria and Libya to torture people on its behalf, and then later turned against them.

Indeed, don’t forget how the U.S. government recently turned on Egypt’s longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak after having supported and partnered with him for years.

Moreover, isn’t it a bit hypocritical for the U.S. government to be complaining about the criminal prosecution of those NGOs and their officers? After all, it’s not as if those organizations get their money entirely from the private sector. On the contrary, they get large amounts of their money from the U.S. government — or, to be more precise, from the hard-pressed U.S. taxpayer.

What business does the U.S. government, either directly or indirectly, have interfering with the internal political processes of other nations?

There’s also a bit of hypocrisy at play here. Let’s suppose that the Iranian government was violating federal law by funding unregistered political groups here in the United States as well various congressional campaigns. What would be the reaction of the U.S. government? It would scream like a banshee and immediately do what the Egyptian government is doing — criminally prosecuting the malefactors or, even worse, grabbing them and whisking them away to Guantanamo Bay or some friendly pro-U.S. regime, perhaps even Egypt, for the purpose of torture and indefinite detention. Why, it might also engage in an unfriendly bombing campaign on Iran in retaliation.

The NGO’s say that the Egyptian regime has been dragging its feet with the respect to the NGO registration process. Well, there is a simple remedy for that: comply with the law and butt out of Egypt’s political affairs. If instead they choose to engage in civil disobedience, that’s great. But if things go wrong, the U.S. government should not serve as their daddy to bail them out of their difficulty.

The best thing that could ever happen is a total cessation of all U.S. foreign aid, not only to the Egyptian military dictatorship but also to every other regime in the world — and a total cessation of support to private organizations. Not only would the American people no longer be supporting brutal military dictatorships, such as that in Egypt, they also would be free to retain their own money and use it to support any cause they want.

P.S. We were treated to a great lecture on U.S. foreign aid last evening as part of our Economic Liberty Lecture Series, which we do in conjunction with the George Mason University Econ Society, a student-run group interested in libertarianism and Austrian economics. The lecture was by Claudia R. Williamson, a post-doctoral fellow at the Development Research Institute at New York University. The video of the lecture is posted here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Students for Liberty Conference

This past weekend, we had another great session on “Civil Liberties, the War on Terrorism, and the Constitution.” This time we were at the annual conference of the Students for Liberty, a fantastic organization of college students who are predominantly libertarian. The conference attracted more than 1000 attendees, and we had an overflow crowd at our panel, which consisted of Jack Hunter, Bruce Fein, and me.

Meanwhile, Bart Frazier, FFF’s program director, manned our booth at conference, where he handed out sample copies of our monthly print journal and copies of my essay “Economic Liberty and the Constitution.”

Jack Hunter, who works for the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), with whom we did our recent College Civil Liberties Tour and who also writes for American Conservative magazine, opened the program with a welcome, an introduction of the panelists, and an introductory statement on why civil liberties are so important and how they are being lost in the era of the “war on terrorism.” Jack’s introduction was then followed by presentations by Bruce, who served in the Justice Department during the Reagan administration, and me, which was followed by some great Q&A.

We recorded the entire event and you can watch it here. Also, we have now posted the videos for all four of our presentations for our College Civil Liberties Tour that we did with YAL — at Columbia University, Indiana University/Purdue University, Middle Tennessee State University, and Ohio State University. You can see them here.

As I told the students as last weekend’s program, all of us have been born and raised under the warfare state — a vast military empire and national-security establishment. The statists will tell us that this is all permanent — that everyone just needs to accept that and do what we can to make society within that militarist-imperialist paradigm.

Nonsense, I told the students. In fact, the Egyptian military regime, which the U.S. military empire and national security establishment has long supported, is saying the same thing to the Egyptian people — that Egypt’s vast military establishment and national security state are the permanent foundation of Egyptian society and that the Egyptian people had better just get used to that idea and build their society on top of it.

In fact, as I told the students, it’s ironic that we now live in a society in which the government wields the same type of dictatorial powers wielded by the Egyptian military regime that the U.S. government has long supported — the power to take people into custody as suspected terrorists, deny them a trial by jury, detain them for life, torture them, and even execute them.

But the statists who tell us that all this is now a permanent feature of American life and that there is nothing Americans can do about it are wrong. Nothing is permanent, especially not statism. While the older generations have chosen statism, in the form of socialism, interventionism, militarism, and imperialism, they cannot bind later generations into accepting their philosophy.

The U.S. military empire, the military industrial complex, and the national security are at the root of America’s woes. With their invasions, occupations, hundreds of overseas military bases, endless projection of force, kidnappings, Gitmo, international network of secret prison camps, torture, indefinite detention, denial of trial by jury and due process of law, rendition, torture partnerships, support of brutal foreign dictatorships, sanctions, embargoes, out of control federal spending and debt, and perpetual crises, fear, and preparation for war, they have wrought nothing but death, destruction, financial bankruptcy, shame, and ignominy on our nation, not to mention the tremendous anger and rage that manifests itself in the constant threat of terrorist retaliation.

And then the statists have used that threat of retaliation to infringe on our freedom here at home — the USA PATRIOT Act, the body groping at the airports, the illegal monitoring of emails and telephone records, the immunity granted officials for illegal acts, the enemy combatant doctrine, warrantless sneak and peak searches into people’s homes, businesses, and financial records, indefinite military detention and torture of American citizens, assassination of American citizens, and much more.

As I told the students, this is not what our nation was supposed to be all about. This is not what our ancestors had in mind when they consented to the Constitution, which brought the federal government into existence. That’s why our ancestors used four separate amendments to prevent a government of such dictatorial powers from coming into existence: the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments.

As I told the students, nothing is inevitable. Through the power of ideas, ideals, and principles, we can restore a free society and a constitutional republic to our land. After all, if the statists could succeed in bringing statism to our land, then surely we can succeed in restoring freedom to our land, especially since Americans can now taste the bitter fruit that statism has brought us.

This evening, we have a great program lined up for our Economic Liberty Lecture Series, which we do in conjunction with the George Mason University Economics Student, a student-run group interested in libertarianism and Austrian economics. It will be live-streamed here. Here are the details:

Economic Liberty Lecture Series
Pizza, Lecture, & Social Hour
Fairfax, Virginia
Speaker: Claudia R. Williamson, Post-Doctoral Fellow at New York University Topic: “The Trouble With Aid”
George Mason University – Student Union Building II, Rooms 3 & 4
5:30 p.m. — Pizza
6:00 p.m. — Lecture and Q&A
8:00 p.m. — Social Hour at Brion’s Grille
Admission: FREE

Friday, February 17, 2012

Torture, Assassination, and the American Way of Life

As most everyone knows, the CIA has been assassinating people practically since the time it was formed in 1947. By and large, however, the CIA kept its assassinations secret. Americans, for their part, had a feeling that such things were being done but didn’t ask any questions.

The system was almost in the nature of a secret, unannounced pact between the government and the people. As part of its job to protect “national security,” the government would have the omnipotent authority to assassinate people, but it would keep its assassinations secret from the citizenry. In that way, the citizenry would be shielded from the unsavory things that government would be doing in the name of “national security,” and citizens wouldn’t have to concern themselves with things like conscience.

The principle, of course, has been the same with respect to torture. For decades, the Pentagon was secretly teaching soldiers the principles of torture, including at its infamous School of the Americas.

Every once in a while, there would be some public disclosure regarding the assassination program or the torture program. For example, there was the infamous Phoenix program during the Vietnam War, where tens of thousands of Vietnamese people were tortured or killed. There were the CIA’s repeated assassination attempts against Cuba’s president Fidel Castro. There was the discovery of the Pentagon’s torture manuals that were being used at the School of the Americas.

When such things would become public, there would be tremendous shock within the citizenry, especially the mainstream media. Investigations would be called. Committees would be impaneled. Confessions and apologies and promises not do it again would issue. The citizenry would be satisfied. Everything would return to “normal.”

No one seemed to notice that through it all — from 1947 through the present date — the U.S. national security state was supporting and training the intelligence and military forces of foreign dictatorships that were brutalizing their own citizenry with things like arbitrary arrest, torture, and assassination. Look at Latin America, for example, where in the name of “anti-communism” and “national security,” both the CIA and the Pentagon were partnering with and training brutal dictatorships, especially military ones. Or look at the Middle East, where much of the same thing has been going on.

Why were the Pentagon and the CIA supporting, training, and partnering with such dictatorships? Because they believed in them! They honestly believed that such dictatorships were necessary to hold back the “communist threat” and to protect the “national security” of the United States. In fact, one of their models was the Pinochet military dictatorship in Chile, which they helped bring into existence, because it favored “capitalism” while, at the same time, arresting, torturing, and killing “communists” without having to deal with such judicial niceties as trials, due process, and the like.

Throughout the Cold War, the CIA and the Pentagon must have been envious of those foreign dictatorial regimes. After all, such regimes could exercise their powers openly and above board. They didn’t need to hide them. In Latin America, for example, death squads consisting of U.S.-trained soldiers and intelligence personnel were arresting people, raping them, torturing them, and killing them or simply assassinating them. And they were doing so openly to protect their “national security” from the “communists.”

Or consider the rendition/torture partnerships between the U.S. government and the dictatorships in such countries as Egypt, Syria, and Libya. There is a reason that the Pentagon and the CIA chose those countries to torture its victims — they’re good at it, and U.S. officials knew that there were good at it. This is especially true in the case of Egypt, whose military and intelligence forces have long worked closely with the U.S. national security state. Moreover, for decades the U.S. government has helped support Egypt’s military dictatorship with billions of dollars in money and armaments.

Of course, 9/11 changed all that. No longer would the Pentagon and the CIA have to keep secret their torture and assassination programs. Like their counterparts in Latin America and the Middle East, they could now be open and above board, at least with respect to wielding such powers, if not also the exercise of them.

The Constitution, of course, does not delegate to the federal government the powers to take people into custody, torture and abuse them, and kill them. There is also no power to assassinate people. In fact, the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits the government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, trial by jury, right to counsel, and other such procedures. It also protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures, especially without judicially issued warrants. It guarantees speedy trials and prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.

So, how did the CIA and the Pentagon acquire such powers? No, there was no constitutional amendment. They simply assumed the powers, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment. That was the secret pact between them and the American people during the Cold War. “We now wield these powers that the Constitution prohibits us from exercising,” U.S. officials effectively said, “but we must exercise them to keep you safe from the communists. Don’t worry: we will exercise them secretly and surreptitiously so that it will appear that nothing has changed in a fundamental way.”

Thus, throughout the Cold War Americans continued innocently believing that they were living in a free country, one in which the government’s powers were limited by the Constitution, even though deep down everyone knew that the government was now secretly wielding powers that were inherent to brutal dictatorships.

Then came 9/11, the critical event that enabled the secret arrangement to now be made public. The Pentagon and the CIA were now on the same level as the dictatorships that they had long supported and trained. Like their counterparts in those regimes, they could now be as open about their powers as their foreign dictatorships had been. 9/11 enabled the Pentagon and the CIA to not only openly disclose that they wielded such powers, it also enabled them to openly exercise them without any fear or concern that they might ultimately be held criminally liable.

For decades, Americans lived under the quaint notion that the national-security state would exercise such powers only against foreigners. With the arrest, torture, and assassination of Americans in the post-9/11 era, it’s finally starting to dawn on many Americans that they stand in no different position, in principle, from the citizenry in those U.S.-supported dictatorships in Latin America and the Middle East.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Who Won World War II?

I’m always intrigued by those in the pro-interventionist crowd who trot out World War II to justify U.S. imperialist interventionism in the Middle East and the rest of the world. They always act as if the United States won World War II and also saved the Jews from the Holocaust. Nothing could be so ridiculous.

With respect to the European Jews, virtually all of them were dead by the end of the war. World War II did not save them from the Holocaust.

Equally important, the United States did not enter the war to save the Jews from the Holocaust. It entered the war because Germany declared war on the United States after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

If the Japanese had not attacked and had Germany not declared war on the United States, it’s not at all clear that the United States would have ever entered the war. Recognizing that World War I had entailed a total waste of American lives and resources, most Americans were steadfastly opposed to entering another foreign war in Europe.

They ostensibly included Franklin Roosevelt, who told Americans during his 1940 presidential campaign, “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again; your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

Of course, most people now concede that Roosevelt was lying and, in fact, was doing everything he could to thwart the will of the American people by provoking both the Germans and the Japanese into attacking first, thereby trapping Americans into entering the war.

We also shouldn’t forget about the U.S. government’s attitude toward Jews, including those living in Germany and Poland. Roosevelt’s government didn’t like them any more than the Hitler regime did. Indeed, when Hitler offered to let the Jews leave Germany alive, Roosevelt wouldn’t let them come to the United States . Immigration quotas was the excuse he used.

For that matter, don’t forget how Roosevelt’s government treated German Jews in the infamous “Voyage of the Damned,” when U.S. officials refused to permit Jewish refugees from Germany to disembark at Miami Harbor, knowing that the German ship captain would likely be relegated to returning them to Nazi Germany.

No, the sad truth is that U.S. entry into World War II did not save the Jews from the Holocaust, nor was that ever a goal of the U.S. government.

“But, Jacob, we beat the Nazis. Doesn’t that mean that we won World War II?”

Not exactly. You see, it turns on the meaning of the pronoun “we.” By “we” the interventionists mean “Great Britain, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union.”

But if you break down that pronoun into its individual parts, you immediately notice a problem. Great Britain, France, and the United States didn’t win the war. The Soviet Union did.

Let’s think back to who declared war on whom. When Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany, not the other way around. Why did they do that? Their announced goal was to free the Polish people from Nazi tyranny.

Why didn’t they also declare war on the Soviet Union, given that it too had invaded Poland? Good question! The interventionists never have an answer to that one.

So, what was the result at the end of World War II? Were the Polish people freed from Nazi tyranny?

Well, yes, and interventionists love to point that out.

But there is a problem here. While “we” celebrated our victory over the Nazis for the next several decades, the Poles didn’t.

Why not?

Because they remained under the control of the Soviet Union for the next several decades! Remember: the Soviet Union is part of the “we” when interventionists exclaim that “we” won the war.

What’s wrong with remaining under the control of the Soviet Union? you ask. Well, the Soviet Union was governed by a communist regime, one that was as brutal as the Nazi regime. Thus, while U.S. interventionists convinced themselves that communist domination was somehow better than Nazi domination, the Poles knew that there wasn’t any difference at all.

Then, to add insult to injury, U.S. interventionists used the Soviet Union — yes, their former World War II partner and ally that is part of the “we” — to justify the massive build-up of the U.S. military-industrial complex and the national-security state, along with their ever-growing military and CIA budgets, secrecy, assassinations, coups, regime-change operations, Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War, MKULTRA, COINTELPRO, and all the rest that came as a result of the post-World War II “communist threat” to America.

So, World War II gave us Soviet communist control over Eastern Europe and East Germany along with an ever-burgeoning warfare state here at home, and interventionists continue to maintain that “we” won World War II. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the post-war era also brought us to the brink of nuclear annihilation against our old World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union, with whom “we” won World War II.

The interventionists say that if the United States hadn’t entered World War II, Germany would have invaded and conquered the United States. Oh? Are they referring to the nation that couldn’t even successfully cross the English Channel to invade and conquer England?

Moreover, there isn’t one iota of evidence that Hitler even desired to cross the ocean to invade and occupy the United States. Hitler’s intentions were always to move east — against the Soviet Union — yes, against the nation that would ultimately turn out to be the Cold War enemy of the United States — after serving as World War II partner and ally.

Moreover, if the United States could survive a world in which the Soviet Union controlled East Germany and Eastern Europe, why couldn’t it have done the same with a world in which Nazi Germany controlled Germany and Eastern Europe?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the U.S. victory over Japan, while succeeding in causing Japanese forces to leave China, also ended up with China in the hands of Mao and the Chinese communists, a situation that remains to this day. I suppose though that U.S. interventionists would say that that’s not necessarily a bad thing given that the Chinese communist regime loaned the U.S. government the money to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.

Who won World War II? The communists did, along with the lovers of big government here at home, who then used the communist threat to turn America into a garrison warfare state.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Goering Was Right on War

Nazi leader Hermann Goering once stated:

Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

Who can deny that Goering was right, especially in countries where people have been inculcated with a mindset of deference to authority and blind trust in public officials?

Consider the 2003 invasion of Iraq. All that U.S. officials had to do was tell the American people that Saddam Hussein was about to attack the United States with nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Fancy colored charts were used to buttress the point. References were made to mushroom clouds.

U.S. officials knew full well the effect such images that would have on the minds of the American people. Never mind that there was never any evidence that such an attack was about to occur. Americans trusted their public officials. The common feeling was that U.S. officials had access to information that the American people didn’t have and that “national security” required that such information be kept secret from the American people.

It never occurred to many people that their public officials might be lying to them. People just deferred to authority, just as they had been taught to do since the first grade in the government-approved schools their parents were required to send them to. They ended up supporting the war on Iraq, a war that killed and maimed thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people, none of whom had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks on America.

What happened when U.S. officials failed to produce those infamous Iraqi WMDs that they had used to scare the American people into supporting their invasion of Iraq? They simply shifted gears and began emphasizing their alternative basis for invading the country — to altruistically help the Iraqi people achieve democracy. Continuing to defer to authority and to place their deep and abiding trust in their public officials, many Americans went with the flow.

Hardly anyone noticed or cared that there was no upward limit placed on the number of Iraqis who could be killed in the altruistic process of helping them to achieve democracy. And never mind, of course, that U.S. officials had already contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children with more than 11 years of brutal sanctions. In fact, the goal of the sanctions had been to oust Saddam Hussein from power and replace him with a U.S.-approved ruler, a goal that the 2003 invasion, not so coincidentally, finally achieved.

The situation was really no different in principle some 50 years ago, when U.S. officials announced that North Vietnamese gunboats had attacked U.S. vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin. Back then, the deference-to-authority mindset among the American people and their propensity to blindly trust their public officials were more pronounced than they would be in 2003. Believing that U.S. officials, especially those in the Pentagon, would never lie to them, the members of Congress overwhelmingly enacted the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which launched a foreign war that ended up killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of U.S. and Vietnamese soldiers and civilians.

Of course, as everyone now knows, they did lie about the attack. It never happened, and U.S. officials, including President Johnson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, knew it hadn’t happened. But that was the way they got the American people behind their war effort — by making them falsely believe that America had been attacked several thousands of miles away from American shores and that U.S. troops were defending America by invading South Vietnam.

And now the same thing is happening with Iran. All sorts of scares over WMDs and mushroom clouds are once again being inserted into the minds of the American people. Meanwhile, U.S. officials continue to tighten an economic noose around Iran — the same noose they tightened around Iraq for 11 years, knowing that the tighter the sanctions, the greater the likelihood that the Iranian people, including Iranian children, will begin suffering and dying, as they did in Iraq.

Will the Iranian regime passively accept the horrific effects of the sanctions, as Saddam Hussein did, notwithstanding the annual deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi children? Or will it retaliate against the sanctions with a military strike, say, at the Straits of Hormuz?

If they retaliate with force, we know what the response of U.S. officials will be:

We’ve been attacked! We’re innocent! We were just minding our own business with sanctions, embargoes, assassinations, UN resolutions, and surrounding Iran with U.S. troops. We had no intent of effecting regime change in Iran, as we did in Iran in 1953 and as we did with Iraq in 2003 after our deadly sanctions had failed to oust Saddam from power.

But now that our nation has been attacked thousands of miles away from our nation’s shores, we have no choice but to once again defend our nation by bombing Iran and killing any number of Iranians, which will also altruistically help them achieve another regime change, similar to when we installed the Shah of Iran’s dictatorship into power after we ousted Iran’s democratically elected prime minister from office in 1953.

Meanwhile, many Americans are falling for it again, just as they did in 1964 and 2003. As Goering suggested, when it comes to war deference to authority and blind trust in public officials is, unfortunately, a universal phenomenon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Downward Spiral Continues

The United States is in a downward spiral, and it just keeps getting worse and worse, both on the welfare-state side of things and, of course, the warfare-state side of things.

If you want to see what the dole society does to people, look at Greece. After decades of out-of-control spending and debt, the government is bankrupt. It can’t pay its bills or keep up with its welfare payments. If it raises taxes, it puts more firms out of business, which shrinks the private sector. Yet, it’s the private sector that funds the state. The government also can’t borrow any more money because investors know that they likely won’t get repaid.

There is one obvious solution to this catastrophe: admit that socialism is a disaster and that it should never been adopted. Abolish all welfare programs. Eliminate all government interference with economic activity. Leave people free to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth.

But that’s the last thing the Greeks are going to do. Why? The Greek people are hopelessly addicted to the dole. They’re out in the streets rioting because their dole is being slightly reduced. They’re demanding that the Greek government as well as foreign governments underwrite their welfare state so that they can continue receiving their dole.

And where do the Greek rioters propose that the Greek government get the money to continue funding their dole. They don’t care where it gets the money. They just want it to get the money somehow and somewhere. Like a magician. Or they want foreign governments to plunder and loot their citizens and send the money to the Greek government so that their dole can be continued.

The dole is worse than heroin. Once people get on it, they cannot imagine life without it.

It’s no different here in the United States. Consider, for example, the recipients of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, SBA loans, farm subsidies, food stamps, or any other welfare program. Such programs are bankrupting America, just like in Greece. Yet, the dole recipients are as adamant about continuing their dole as those Greek rioters. Who doubts that if such socialist programs were repealed, the recipients would be rioting here in the United States as violently as the Greek dole recipients?

Meanwhile, the downward spiral continues. Despite the fact that the federal debt ceiling was just recently lifted, not only is President Obama not reducing spending in anticipation of the new debt ceiling that will be encountered in two years or so, he’s actually proposing the opposite. He says that increasing spending (and debt) is the solution to America’s economic woes. Not surprisingly, he also wants to raise taxes, which will only end up shrinking the private sector, just like in Greece.

On the warfare state side of things, it’s just as bad, if not worse. Military spending to sustain the U.S. overseas empire continues to soar out of control. The national-security state continues to stir up crises and chaos around the world to maintain the permanent state of fear and war that has besieged the United States since the end of World War II. If anyone suggests even a slight decrease in the level of military spending and CIA spending, the reaction is predictable — that “national security” will be threatened and America will be conquered by the terrorists, the communists, the drug dealers, the illegal aliens, or some other scary boogeyman.

The sad fact is that the nation is addicted to military spending as much as it is addicted to welfare spending. Consider the troops and all the weapons manufacturers. Consider also all the suppliers for the troops and for all the bases around the world. Consider all the states and localities that quiver and quake whenever someone suggests that some nearby military installation be shut down.

Regardless of who is elected president (except Ron Paul), nothing is going to change. That’s because both major parties are absolutely committed to the same paradigm — the welfare-state, warfare-state statist paradigm. They refuse to admit that it is finished — busted — bankrupt. They keep holding out, coming up with one reform after another. Meanwhile, the downward spiral continues. More spending, more debt, higher taxes, more monetary debasement, more impoverishment, more militarism, more crises, more chaos.

Americans need to be thinking in terms of a complete paradigm shift rather than in terms of how to fix or reform the status quo. The only thing that is going to work is the absence of a welfare state and warfare state. In other words, a truly free-market society based on a limited-government constitutional republic — the type of nation that America was supposed to be.

That means, necessarily, the repeal, not reform, of all welfare-state programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It also means the dismantling of the overseas military empire, the military-industrial complex, foreign aid, the CIA, and the rest of the national-security state. It means a total separation of economy and the state. It means the repeal of the national income tax.

There are those who claim that the libertarian paradigm is pie in the sky — impossible to achieve. Nonsense! After all, there were those who once made the same claim with respect to freedom of religion, freedom of the press, habeas corpus, due process of law, and other monumental achievements with respect to freedom.

Reality is mugging people in the face. Every day people are seeing our nation’s downward spiral. More important, more and more of them are realizing that the root of the problem is the welfare-warfare state way of life in which we have been born and raised. Now the only thing left if for people to realize that the only way out of the spiral is to reject the paradigm of statism and replace it with the libertarian paradigm of freedom and limited government.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Our College Civil Liberties Tour

Our College Civil Liberties Tour went absolutely fantastic. We are all still flying high from the experience.

We kicked off the program at Columbia University in New York City on Monday evening. The next day we flew to Indianapolis for a combined Indiana University/Purdue University program. On Wednesday we were in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for a program at Middle Tennessee State University. And then we wrapped up the tour in Columbus, Ohio, at Ohio State University.

The theme of the tour was “The War on Terrorism, the Constitution, and Civil Liberties.” One of things that made the program special was the different ideological perspectives of the three panelists: Bruce Fein is a conservative, Glenn Greenwald is a liberal, and I’m a libertarian. Another interesting dimension to the program is that all three of us are lawyers.

We did the program in partnership with the Young Americans for Liberty, a great pro-freedom group that has college chapters all across the country. The moderator of the panels, Jack Hunter, works for YAL and also writes for American Conservative magazine. He gave a great introductory perspective at the beginning of each panel.

The audiences, which consisted of both students and non-students, were transfixed at all four venues. It was obvious that most of them had never heard this message before — or at least not so directly and passionately. I think they were especially struck by the fact that the three of us were clearly on the same page about this subject notwithstanding our ideological differences in other areas.

Why the emphasis on civil liberties, the war on terrorism, and the Constitution?

The most direct, totalitarian-like power of all is the power to simply seize people, send them to a concentration camp, torture and abuse them, and execute them. When government wields that type of power, freedom is non-existent.

Yet, as I pointed out during the panels, we now live in a country in which the government wields that kind of power.

We also now live in a country where federal agents can secretly enter into people’s homes and businesses and look around, peering into people’s most private matters, without a warrant. Even when a warrant is technically required, everyone knows that nothing is going to happen to the federal agent who violates the law, especially when he cites “national security” as his rationale.

We now live in a country in which the president wields the omnipotent power to send the entire nation into war on his own initiative, without a declaration of war from Congress.

Indeed, we live in a country in which the president now wields the power to assassinate anyone he wants, including Americans, without providing any reason, explanation, or rationale to anyone.

Everyone would agree that that’s not the type of government that our American ancestors envisioned when they called the federal government into existence through the Constitution. It is precisely the type of government that our American ancestors were doing their best to avoid with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Indeed, that’s why our ancestors devoted four separate amendments restricting and obstructing the government’s power to take people into custody and do bad things to them: the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eight Amendments. The Due Process Clause in the Fifth Amendment stretches all the way back to Magna Carta, when King John agreed that he no longer wielded the power to deprive people of their lives in violation of “the law of the land.”

There are those who claim that such powers are no big deal because, unlike the situation in countries like Egypt and Syria, whose governments also wield such totalitarian-like powers, President Obama is employing such powers sparingly. But that’s not the test of a free society. The test of a free society is not the extent to which a ruler is exercising totalitarian powers but rather whether the ruler wields such powers at all. After all, once people realize that such powers can be exercised more widely, especially during a crisis, how can they not factor that into their decision-making today?

All the presentations were recorded and we’ll have them together on FFF’s website this week. If you haven’t seen them, I highly recommend doing so. In fact, the speakers, who spoke with few notes, were changing, modifying, or expanding their talks at each campus, and so I think you’d enjoy all of them.

One thing is for sure: By watching the presentations, you will be able to capture the passion and commitment that all the speakers bring to this subject and understand why all of us believe that it is so urgent that these powers be eliminated. Our freedom and well-being depend on it.

A special note of thanks to the local YAL chapters for hosting and organizing the events on each of the campuses. You all did a fantastic job, and it sure made it easy on us to just come in and do our presentations.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Born-Again Anti-Dictatorship in Syria

When did the U.S. government get religion with respect to Syria’s dictatorship? Sure, right now they’re protesting the Syrian dictatorship’s brutal suppression of a rebellion within the country. They’re issuing all sorts of demands to Syria’s dictator to cease his violence and leave office. Just this past week, they sought to secure some sort of anti-Syrian resolution within the United Nations, without success.

But unfortunately the U.S. government hasn’t always felt that way about the Syrian dictatorship. They once embraced it precisely for its brutality.

I’m referring to the infamous case of Mahar Arar, a Canadian citizen who was changing planes at Dulles airport in Virginia on his return to Canada after a trip overseas. U.S. officials, convinced that he was a terrorist, took him into custody for interrogation. His answers didn’t satisfy them.

So, what did those U.S. officials do? Did they charge him with terrorism? Did they take him before a federal magistrate? Did they secure a federal grand-jury indictment against him? Did they prosecute him in federal court for some terrorist offense? Did they use the procedures set forth under U.S. law, including the Constitution?

Absolutely not. They rejected all those procedures and instead contacted unidentified people within the Syrian government. Why Syria? Because Syria was (and is) a brutal dictatorship, one that believed in torturing people. U.S. officials didn’t want to torture Arar themselves because it’s illegal for Americans to torture people. So, they figured that they’d get Syria to do the torturing for them. In that way, they could exclaim, “We knew that Syria was a brutal dictatorship , one that enthusiastically tortures people, but the last thing we thought when we sent Arar to Syria was that they would torture him. We’re shocked to learn that he got tortured there.”

But then why did they send him to Syria instead of Canada, where he lived. After all, he was a Canadian citizen. That’s where he was returning from his overseas trip.

Before he became a Canadian citizen, Arar had been a Syrian citizen. But Syria takes the position that once a Syrian citizen, always a Syrian citizen. Thus, U.S. officials claimed that they were just deporting him to his country of origin, even though they knew that he was now a Canadian citizen.

Which agency was in charge of Arar’s rendition to Syria? You guessed it! The CIA, known far and wide for its kidnapping/rendition/torture program. Don’t forget, for example, those CIA agents who were indicted and convicted of felonies in Italy after they kidnapped and renditioned a man to Egypt for the purpose of torture.

Egypt? Yes, the military dictatorship in Egypt — the one that has been brutalizing, incarcerating without trial, torturing, and executing Egyptians for some 30 years, with the full support of the U.S. government. What type of support? Hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and weaponry. The U.S. government is still supporting Egypt’s brutal military dictatorship today, notwithstanding its protests against the brutal dictatorship in Syria.

So, how did the torture agreement with Syria regarding Arar get negotiated? Who struck the deal on both sides? Was it in writing? Did President George W. Bush sign off on it or did the CIA do this on its own? Does the CIA have the authority to do this type of thing on its own?

We don’t know the answers to any of these questions because we’re not permitted to know them. For one thing, the U.S. mainstream press has never asked these questions of U.S. officials because they know that U.S. officials don’t want them asked. National security is at stake, after all. And Congress has also refused to hold hearings at which they could subpoena the CIA to produce the agents who could testify who negotiated and struck the deal, what the terms of the deal were, and whether President Bush signed off on them.

Of course, the president during that time was George W. Bush, whose position was “We don’t talk to Syria,” notwithstanding the fact that someone obviously was talking to Syria.

Arar was tortured for one year in Syria and finally released, whereupon he returned to Canada. It turned out that he wasn’t a terrorist after all. Despite the fact that U.S. officials were convinced that he was a terrorist, it turns out that he was innocent. The Canadian government, which played a role in the U.S. government’s appalling conduct, apologized to Arar and gave him a financial settlement.

Not so with the U.S. government. Arar sued U.S. officials for what they did to him. But the federal courts denied him any relief once U.S. officials cited the magic term: national security. Why, the courts didn’t even require the government to reconcile its reliance on the magic term (which isn’t even found in the Constitution) with its obviously fake and false claim that it was just innocently deporting Arar to his country of origin.

It’s interesting that the U.S. government is expressing a born-again fervor against Syria’s dictatorship. But one has to ask: Is this simply because U.S. officials see an opportunity to install another dictatorship in its stead, one that will be even more willing to do the U.S. government’s bidding than the current Syrian regime?

P.S. We kick off our College Civil Liberties Tour this evening at Columbia University. If you’re in the area, please join us. If not, join us online in a live-stream of the event.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Our College Civil Liberties Lecture Tour Kicks Off Monday

Next week we kick off our College Civil Liberties tour! We start Monday at Columbia University in New York City, then Indiana and Purdue universities on Tuesday, then Middle Tennessee State University on Wednesday, and wrapping up at Ohio State University on Thursday.

The theme of the programs is: “The War on Terrorism, the Constitution, and Civil Liberties.”

Spread the word: The programs will be live-streamed!

The Young Americans for Liberty are organizing the event on each of the campuses.

The three panelists are Glenn Greenwald, Bruce Fein, and me. The panels will be moderated by Jack Hunter.

What’s unique about this program is that it brings together three speakers of different political philosophies, all of whom have the same fierce dedication to civil liberties. In fact, Greenwald and Fein are two of my personal heroes in life. Both of them have been absolutely steadfast in the defense of civil liberties under both the Bush administration and the Obama administration. Every day, I make it a point to read Greenwald’s blog at Salon.com, and every day I search Google News for a new article by Bruce Fein.

Forbes magazine named Greenwald one of the 25 most influential liberals in the country. Fein served in the Justice Department during the Reagan administration. I’m the libertarian on the panel. All three of us are lawyers. Hunter writes for American Conservative magazine. The Young Americans for Liberty is predominantly libertarian.

So, the dynamics of these panels are certain to be interesting and exciting, especially since the audience will most likely consist of liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and people who don’t have a particular political philosophy.

Most important is the topic — the war on terrorism, the Constitution, and civil liberties.

As most everyone knows, we now live in a country in which the government, albeit democratically elected, is wielding totalitarian powers, under the guise of the “war on terrorism” and “national security.”

The military and the CIA now wield the power to take anyone in the world, including Americans, into custody as suspected terrorists, incarcerate them for life in a concentration camp or prison without due process of law, torture them, and even execute them. The government also now wields the power to simply assassinate people — anyone, including Americans, who it labels a suspected terrorist.

Just recently, a federal court of appeals denied the appeal of Jose Padilla, who is suing the federal government for what they did to him. Notwithstanding the fact that the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments expressly prohibit the federal government from punishing a person without according him certain fundamental procedural protections, U.S. military authorities held Padilla in a military dungeon for some 3 years, torturing him with isolation and sensory deprivation with the intent of causing him permanent mental damage, and claiming the authority to continue doing so for the rest of his life.

The government’s rational for circumventing the Bill of Rights? The war on terrorism and national security.

What’s significant about the Padilla case is not just what they did to him but also the fact that what they did to him, they can now do to every American. That is a critically important aspect of the court of appeals’ denial of relief to Padilla. We now live in a country in which the president can send the military to seize Americans, cart them away to a military dungeon, and torture them, as they did with Padilla.

As most everyone knows, such power has now been codified into law in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Let’s also not forget the USA PATRIOT Act, which authorizes the government to engage in warrantless searches of people’s homes and businesses and permits the government to secretly monitor the activities of the American people. Let’s also not forget the secretive telecom schemes that permitted the government to illegally acquire communications records of the American people — and the immunity granted by Congress for violations of criminal and civil law relating to such schemes.

This is obviously not the type of government that our American ancestors had in mind when they called the federal government into existence with the Constitution. This is an aberrant, dysfunctional government wielding and exercising the same types of powers held by totalitarian regimes.

They tell us that it’s all necessary to keep us safe. Nonsense! For one thing, it’s the U.S. government’s foreign policy that has generated the anger and hatred that manifests itself in terrorist retaliation. For another, history has shown us that when people trade their freedom for the pretense of security, they lose both their freedom and security.

Can Americans restore civil liberties to our land? Can the government be made to abandon even the pretense of wielding these totalitarian powers? Can we restore a limited-government, constitutional republic to the United States?

Absolutely! Nothing is set in stone. When a critical mass of Americans demand freedom, freedom will be restored to our land.

That’s where the power of ideas comes into play. Ideas on liberty matter. They influence people. They motivate people to act.

That’s what our College Civil Liberties Tour is all about — to raise awareness of the type of dysfunctional government under which we now live and how unnecessary, dangerous, and destructive it is — and to share with people the vital importance of restoring civil liberties to our land before things get any worse.

The programs are open to the public and are free of charge. If you are in the area, I hope you will join us and bring your friends. I am sure you will find it to be an intellectually enjoyable and important evening.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What Do Food Stamps Have to Do With Compassion for the Poor?

One of the things that fascinate me about progressives is how government welfare programs make them feel about themselves. The fact that progressives support such programs makes them feel like they are good, caring people. What’s also fascinating is that when a libertarian or anyone else opposes the existence of such programs, progressives automatically conclude that that person must be heartless and uncaring.

Consider, for example, an arch-typical welfare-state program, one that every single progressive ardently supports: food stamps. Under this welfare-state program, the government gives stamps to poor people, which they then use to purchase food at grocery stores. The grocery store presents the food stamps to the government for redemption.

Let’s examine what’s actually happening here.

The government is not a magic machine, and it is not a fountain of wealth. In order to get the money to pay for the food stamps, it taxes people.

Let’s say we’re dealing with a poor person named Peter. The government decides to give him $100 in food stamps each month to help him out. In order to get the money to pay the grocery store when it redeems the food stamps, the government imposes a tax of $100 on a rich person named Paul

Now, let’s add a progressive named John to the scene. He’s cheering this entire process. But notice something important here: That’s all that John is doing. He’s not using his own money to help out Peter. He’s simply cheering the fact that Paul is being forced to help Peter.

Pray tell: How in the world does the government’s decision to tax Paul to pay for Peter’s food make John a caring, compassionate person? Why does John feel that this makes him a caring, compassionate person? He hasn’t used any of his own money to help out Peter. All he’s done is cheer the fact that someone else — a rich person — is having his money forcibly taken from him and used to help out a poor person.

Why doesn’t John use his own money to help Peter? Wouldn’t that reflect his compassion and concern for Peter much better than his simply cheering when the government forces John to do so?

In fact, it’s difficult for me to see how compassion and caring enter into a welfare-state program. For one thing, it’s entirely founded on force — the force that comes with taxation itself. After all, only the most naïve consider the payment of taxes to be voluntary. If you don’t pay your taxes, the government will forcibly seize your home, bank accounts, and other assets and use them to satisfy the tax bill.

Moreover, it’s difficult to know exactly who the caring, compassionate person is in this process. Is it the IRS agent who receives and processes people’s withholding taxes? The employer who does the withholding? The members of Congress, who keep the income tax and welfare state in effect? The president, who supports the programs? The Supreme Court, which upholds the constitutionality of the programs? The taxpayers, whose money is being taken from them to pay for the food stamps? The voters, who elect the public officials who keep the food-stamp program in existence. The citizenry, who live under a welfare state? Children, whose parents have brought the welfare state into existence? Or people who cheer the process?

What about people who oppose such programs, such as libertarians? Progressives consider them heartless. They say the fact that libertarians oppose food stamps and other welfare-state programs constitutes conclusive proof that libertarians hate the poor — that they’re selfish, mean, and uncaring.

Suppose that a libertarian donates 10 percent of his income to his church and to organizations that help the poor. What would the progressive say about him? He would say that such donations mean nothing. The fact that the libertarian wants to repeal all welfare-state programs says it all. Even if he is donating 10 percent — 20 percent — or even all of his income — to charitable organizations, the progressive would say that the donor is a no-good, selfish, uncaring person because he opposes the welfare state.

So, you have this strange anomaly. A progressive who gives not one single dime of his own money to the poor looks upon himself as a good, caring, compassionate person because he cheers when the government taxes the rich and gives the money to the poor. And the progressive views a libertarian who gives a lot of his money to the poor as selfish, uncaring, and disdainful of the poor because he opposes the concept of a welfare state.

In a era in which rising federal spending, taxes, debt, and monetary debasement have become a permanent part of American life, the fundamental moral issue that the American people should be confronting is: Is it a proper role of government in a free society to force people to help the poor or anyone else, and how does the use of force make the people in that society caring and compassionate?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Open Borders Doesn’t Mean No Borders

Whenever libertarians bring up the idea of open borders, some people in the controlled-borders crowd immediately go ballistic, exclaiming, “But borders are essential to preserve our national sovereignty. If we abolish borders, our nation will cease to exist.”

But open borders does not mean that borders are eliminated, erased, or abolished. An open border simply means that people are free to cross the border. The border doesn’t disappear. It remains in place, only people are now free to cross it.

Additionally, even though people are free to cross the border, the jurisdictions on both sides of the border retain their respective sovereignties. When a person crosses the border and enters into a new jurisdiction, he becomes subject to the laws of that jurisdiction. Sovereignty remains intact even though there are people crossing the border into that particular jurisdiction.

Consider, for example, Virginia and Maryland. The border between the two states is the Potomac River. It is completely open. Every day, countless citizens of Maryland cross the border and freely enter Virginia. By the same token, countless citizens of Virginia cross the border and freely enter Maryland.

There is no government checkpoint on either side of the border. No one keeps count of how many people are crossing back and forth between the two states.

In other words, the border between Maryland and Virginia is completely open. Yet, the border between the two states does not disappear. It remains fully intact and continues to serve as the dividing line between the two states.

Moreover, notwithstanding the fact that the border has been completely open for centuries, neither Maryland nor Virginia has ever lost its respective sovereignty. Maryland continues to have jurisdiction over its territory and the same goes for Virginia. When a Marylander crosses into Virginia, he becomes subject to the laws of Virginia. The same holds true for a Virginian who crosses into Maryland.

These principles are no different with respect to a border between two countries. Simply because people are free to cross an international border, back and forth, doesn’t mean that the border disappears or that the two nations lose their respective sovereignties. The border remains intact and the two nations retain jurisdiction over their respective territories, notwithstanding the fact that people in both nations are free to cross back and forth.

Let me give you a real-life example of open borders. I grew up in a border town — Laredo, Texas. The border between Texas and Mexico is much like the border that separates Maryland and Virginia — it’s a river, called the Rio Grande. From downtown Laredo, a person can see Mexico across the river. On the Mexican side is Nuevo Laredo, a city that is larger in population than Laredo. Keep in mind that Laredo, along with the rest of Texas, was once part of the entire northern half of Mexico.

For decades, Laredo has had the biggest celebration in the country in honor of George Washington’s birthday. When I was kid, U.S. officials would completely open the border between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo in order to allow Nuevo Laredoans to freely enter Laredo to enjoy the festivities, including watching a grand parade led by Pocahontas and featuring Laredo’s debutants.

Countless Mexicans would flood across the border. The border was completely open. Yet, the border did not disappear. The Rio Grande remained intact, just as the Potomac River does. Laredo did not lose its sovereignty and, for that matter, neither did Texas or the United States. Mexicans who crossed into Laredo were subject to the laws of Laredo, the state of Texas, and the United States.

The situation is the same in Europe, where for many years citizens in the EU countries have been free to cross the borders of other EU countries. Every day, citizens of Italy, for example, cross the border into France, and vice versa. The borders haven’t disappeared, and Italy and France are still standing, each retaining sovereignty within its respective borders.

Indeed, how many Americans realize that after the United States acquired the entire northern half of Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the new border between Mexico and the United States remained completely open for well over half-a-century, enabling Mexicans to continue traveling freely to what had previously been the northern half of their country? (The Border Patrol wasn’t founded until 1924.) Mexicans would freely cross the border into the United States to visit, work, invest, and even open businesses in competition with American businesses. When they did so, they were, of course, subject to the laws of the United States and the particular states and localities where they went. In the process, the new border between Mexico and the United States did not disappear and neither country lost sovereignty over its respective post-treaty jurisdiction.

Americans have become so accustomed to open borders within the United States that hardly anyone is afraid of them. We hardly ever hear anyone expressing concern that the borders between the respective states are disappearing … or that the states are losing their sovereignty … or that Marylanders or people from other states who come to Virginia are stealing jobs away from Virginians … or that there is a trade deficit between Maryland and Virginia or any other states … or that Virginians are moving to Maryland to get on welfare … or that it is too easy for terrorists to cross borders within the United States.

If only Americans could apply their favorable mindset toward open borders within the United States to international borders. What would disappear is not borders and national sovereignty but rather the fear and isolationism that come with controlled borders.

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.