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The Time Has Come!

August 31st, 2010 1 comment

We have received great support and feedback from our loyal readers since the inception of RTR.  However, we’ve reached a point where there is  nothing more we can share that we haven’t already shared so we will be closing up shop here at RTR.  The web site will remain up for those who use the archives but unless something drastic changes, no new posts will be made.

We at RTR will be focusing our energies on getting our finances in order and being prepared to live off the grid for when the #$@ hits the fan. We strongly suggest you to do the same.

For those of you who are looking for a daily email update (similar to RTR) with news, videos, op-eds, etc. related to liberty, check out Rational Review and Liberty Outlook.

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You Don’t Own Other People

August 19th, 2010 Comments off

From C4Ss

Laws against peaceful, consensual activity always seem to be in the news. Dianne Feinstein takes a hardline stance against marijuana law reform. Raids on raw milk distributors are a regular occurrence. Every little while a story breaks about another “family values” politician soliciting a prostitute who turns out to be an undercover cop.

A sizable share of people in the criminal justice system is made up of those who ran afoul of some law commanding “Touch not, taste not, handle not.”

If you support such laws, there is no ground on which you can consistently do so without believing that other people are your property, or are your inferiors and subject to your command.

You may argue that “society” collectively decides what to permit and not to permit, based on some vision of the “common good.” But remember those high school civics texts with the stuff about government exercising only powers delegated by the governed, government’s function being to protect the rights of the individual, and all that? Well, you can’t delegate a power you don’t have. And government can’t protect a right, on your behalf, that you don’t possess as an individual.

So you can’t delegate to government the power to tell other people what foods or drugs to ingest, or who to have sex with, unless you, as an individual, already have the right to boss other people around. You as an individual, or in acting together with any number of other individuals, cannot delegate to government the power to boss people around against their will in regard to peaceful and consensual actions, unless you own them. “Society” has a right to criminalize peaceful, voluntary behavior only if each individual is the property of society as a whole.

Roderick Long of the Molinari Institute (the parent body of Center for a Stateless Society) describes it as a simple matter of equality. If other people are your equals in dignity, authority, and self-determination, you don’t have the right to tell them what to do. You can’t boss another person around about their food or drug habits, or their sexual practices, unless they’re your subordinate in some sense. You’ve probably seen a kid tell some bossy stranger, or remember telling someone yourself years ago, “You’re not my daddy!” Exactly.

We anarchists don’t believe other people are our property. We don’t believe we have the authority to tell other people what to eat, drink, smoke, or who to have sex with. We’re not their boss. We don’t own them. And we have no right to act through the government to do things we have no legitimate authority to do as individuals. In other words, we anarchists actually believe the things the authors of your civics texts claimed to believe.

The big difference is, we’re consistent about it. We judge all groupings of individuals, even groupings that claim to represent a majority of people in a community and call themselves a “government,” by the same moral principles that govern individuals. The legiminate powers an individual possesses — the right to life, liberty and property, and the consequent power to defend those rights without harm to innocents — can be exercised cooperatively by any number of individuals in concert.

But even if they comprise a majority of people in a community, they have no rightful authority to bind those who did not freely join their cooperative venture. No group, including a group made up of a majority of individuals in a community, has any powers or rights beyond those already possessed by its individual members. Individuals cannot delegate any powers to a government that they do not possess as individuals.

Like any other association, a government exists for the ends of its members, and has no authority over anyone outside it.  The state has no aura of majesty, and exercises no divine power.  Like any other human association, it has only those legitimate powers which individual human beings can rightfully grant in the first place.

If you, as an individual, go to your neighbor’s house and order him to stop smoking dope or parking his car on the lawn, and shove him around or take him prisoner for refusing to comply, you’re nothing but a thug. Your neighbor has the right to tell you to mind your own business and leave him alone, and to resist your aggression if necessary. If you and a large number of other people in the community do the same thing to your neighbor, under cover of a so-called “government,” you’re still just thugs — plain and simple. And your neighbor has just as much right to tell you all to mind your own business, or to resist if necessary.

As an individual, or as a member of a group of individuals — no matter how large — you don’t own other people.

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Video: Walter E. Williams – The Issue is Private Property

August 18th, 2010 Comments off

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Digital Education vs. The Ruling Elite

August 16th, 2010 Comments off

From Lew Rockwell.com

Ruling elites as recently as 1600 appealed to God to justify their continuing rule. This was called the divine right of kings: rulership beyond any earthly court of appeal. That began to be undermined in the second half of the seventeenth century. A century later, Enlightenment democratic theory had replaced the divine right of kings. The divine right of Parliament or the divine right of the People replaced it.

This forced a major strategic change on the ruling elite. The ruling elite has to pretend that it does not exist. It formally acknowledged the legitimacy of the People as the final court of appeal. This involved training and screening the judges.

Basic to maintaining this deception has been control over the media. Also vital has been control over the schools – compulsory attendance laws, teacher certification, tax funding, and school accreditation. Above all has been control over textbooks.

This control is ending in the area of printed media, especially newspapers, which are dying. Control over TV news is fading. Digits are killing them. Now control over education is about to be undermined. Same reason: digits.

COMPETING DIGITAL CURRICULA

I have recommended to Ron Paul that he hire a director of curriculum development in one of his educational organizations. The director should then contract with Ph.D.s to create a comprehensive K–12 curriculum. Once it is ready, Paul’s organization can post it online for free. I have presented this plan here.

Some parents will want courses taught live. Paul could also put together a faculty of graduate students with M.A. degrees or retired Ph.D.s to provide real-time lectures. The exams can be administered digitally. Record-keeping is digital.

He could charge a minimal $250 per course and split the money 50–50 with the faculty member who teaches it. This should be a profit-seeking venture. It could easily generate $25,000,000 a year. I have explained this here.

Free academic software now allows this. It’s called Moodle. Any medium-size organization can now afford to create an online high school or even a university with this open source software. The Mises Institute now has its own online program called Mises Academy. People pay a minimal $250 to take a weekly class. Dr. Tom Woods is teaching a course on Roosevelt’s New Deal this fall.

The existing system of government-funded education is facing a technological challenge. The Web can deliver content for free. The model for this is Salman Khan’s wonderful Khan Academy. Students from all over the world start with 1 + 1 = 2, and go from there through calculus. It is all done with free 10-minute YouTube videos.

He did this in his spare time just because he wanted to. Now he has funding to create an entire curriculum.
In contrast, this is the model of today’s high school.

Right? Right! You know it. I know it. We have known it all our lives. It never improves. It gets more expensive. It gets less efficient. We know it has no hope. Every few years, reformers announce a “new, improved” approach. It is not widely adopted, and wherever it is adopted, scores get worse. They will call for reforms forever. The system will just get worse.

It is paid to get worse. Tax money is automatic. No one stands up locally and runs for the school board on this platform: “Let’s cut the budget by 10% next year, and another 10% the year after next.” That would be considered the equivalent of blasphemy. Yet we know the tax-funded schools will not improve. Anyone who is so naïve as to believe that the Next Great Reform will be successful throughout the country probably ought to be institutionalized – at a minimum, he should be kept away from sharp objects.

THE COLLAPSE OF THE ACADEMIC CARTEL

The problem has been that private schools, also burdened with physical classrooms and buildings, are expensive. Not many parents have been willing to pull their children out of the tax-funded schools and enroll them in a private academy. They grin and bear it. “Our schools are not like those other communities’ schools. Ours are highly rated.” Really? Rated by whom? When? Using what methodology? How long ago?

Who produces the textbooks? New York publishing firms staffed by anti-capitalist Leftists? The same textbooks used in those other communities’ schools? You don’t say!

With the Web, a PDF file can be downloaded for free. This PDF can be a textbook. If it’s in the public domain, it’s free. You can print it out. Cost: toner and paper. Maybe you will want to buy a 3-hole punch and a $7 binder. After all, that 3-hole punch is a permanent investment. Amortize it over a 30-year period. You can afford it.

Do you want a video-based course? Salman Khan offers them.

How about MP3 audio files? There are free MP3 hosting sites. Anyone can post lectures.

MIT has put 2,000 mini-courses online for free. Did you know this? It’s here.

Local colleges have resisted this. If you were a faculty member of Podunk State University, would you want the whole world to see you and your peers online, 24×7? Would you be confident that parents and students would then be willing to pay $50,000 to get a degree from your backwater institution?

So, university faculties are now in a difficult position. They must justify the absence of online lectures and course plans. Silence is embarrassing. The story of MIT’s program is getting out. They will have to argue that MIT’s online curriculum is a fluke, that a normal university would not be wise in posting its lectures and course notes for the general public to view free of charge. Yes, MIT can do this, but it’s different. It’s different because. . . . Well, anyway, it’s different. It’s not fair to use it as a model. Why not? Because it’s the best. The academic world knows it’s the best. As an MIT T-shirt says: “Harvard: Because not Everyone Can Get into MIT.” The best doesn’t count.

By the way, Salman Khan went to MIT and then the Harvard Business School. Now look what he’s done. What’s Podunk State to do?

Podunk State knows it is delivering a substandard product. It knows that it can keep its doors open only because tax money subsidizes its program. If it is possible to provide digital education, with digital exams, digital grading, and digital record-keeping – and it is – then what does Podunk U bring to the table that (say) the 100 best colleges and universities could not do better? What is the justification for Podunk State?

Accreditation. That’s it? That’s it.

The collegiate system is a cartel. It is now being threatened by the University of Phoenix, with its 500,000 students at (probably) $10,000 each per semester. The academic community sees the threat of profit-seeking universities. With 15,000,000 students enrolled, it would take only three-dozen University of Phoenixes to teach them all. Let’s be generous. Say that 100 schools could do this. What would happen to the other 4,000?

Cartels always collapse. Only the threat of government violence against “cheaters” can sustain cartels. The collegiate cartel in the United States is maintained by a series of Federal government-recognized but privately run accrediting agencies – agencies staffed by members of the cartel. Here is the list.
What breaks cartels? Price competition.

PRICE COMPETITION

Decades ago, management expert Peter Drucker observed that whenever a new production technique lowers costs by 90%, it comes to dominate. The old producers can fight it, but they cannot prevail.

He said that existing producers can fight by pointing to the prestige of owning an expensive version. This is an appeal to the rich. It is an appeal to status. If you want an example of the status-dominated argument, see the response of the faculty at the University of California, Berekey, to the sensible suggestion that the campus offer distance-learing degree programs.

People who are really self-confident about their status do not play this game. I remember seeing an interview of Denzel Washington. He showed his watch: a Casio. “It cost $35, and it keeps perfect time.” That kind of statement sends a chill down the spines of people working for Rolex.

Today, the cost of delivering a good education has fallen by far more than 90%. It has fallen to the cost of bandwidth. Bandwidth keeps getting cheaper.

Back in 1997, Drucker gave an interview to Forbes. In that interview, he offered this assessment and prediction.

Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won’t survive. It’s as large a change as when we first got the printed book.

Do you realize that the cost of higher education has risen as fast as the cost of health care? And for the middle-class family, college education for their children is as much of a necessity as is medical care – without it the kids have no future.

Such totally uncontrollable expenditures, without any visible improvement in either the content or the quality of education, means that the system is rapidly becoming untenable. Higher education is in deep crisis.

If he was correct, the large physical universities have only 17 years to go.

Do I think they will disappear this fast? No. Why not? Because control over education is the #1 control device of the ruling class. It is even more important than the control over central banking.

The American educational system absorbs something in the range of 6% of the country’s GDP, which means over 10% of the private sector’s output. The finished product is a curriculum built on the presuppositions favored by the ruling class. State-funded institutions teach respect for state funding and the bureaucrats who control the flow of funds.

If state-funded education were ever to end, the major means of control by the ruling class would end. The ruling class will not surrender this control without a fight. But it will lose this fight.

The tools of this fight are digital. The basis of this fight is ethical: the right of parents to control the content of their children’s education. The state-funded bureaucrats know this. They have fought ever since the foundation of the modern educational system in Prussia after 1810 to insulate their class from political control, while collecting tax money. This is the basis of the doctrine of academic freedom. It means freedom from interference by taxpayers and politicians.

By severing payment from control, the educrats have gotten themselves a sweet deal. Like the Congregational ministers in New England before 1819, they are on the state’s payroll, but they insist on autonomy.

The cost of this arrangement is skyrocketing. The educational cartel is facing a revolt. Parents who don’t like the content of tax-funded education are breaking ranks. They are teaching their children at home. This was fought by the states in the 1980s, but a series of court cases undermined the laws against home schooling.

Now budget cuts are forcing public school districts to adopt distance-learning programs. This is the death knell for the system. The tax-funded schools are facing budget ceilings. Meanwhile, education is getting steadily cheaper.

Dr. Art Robinson’s Robinson Curriculum costs $200 for K–12. It’s a one-time payment for the entire family. Yet it could be placed online and given away for free. The curriculum is self-taught. Students who pursue it can quiz out of two years of college, as his children did. They can enter college as juniors at the age of 16.

Of course, a wise parent will not send a child off to college at age 16. So, the child can take the last two years in a program such as Louisiana State University’s distance learning program, or at Excelsior College, a private online campus.

Total cost of college? Under $11,000. The student can work part-time and pay his way through college.

Or else he can ask his parents to foot the bill of a conventional on-campus program ($50,000 to $250,000). He can also take on $20,000 in personal debt, which is now the national average.

If he flunks out, all this money is down the drain. Yet about half of students who enroll as freshmen do not graduate.

Which approach makes more economic sense?

What are you buying? An education or a shot at status? Is it a Casio or a Rolex?

There are not many Rolex-type watch firms. There are only about three-dozen Rolex-type universities. They enroll about 2% of the college population.

What is the future for the 4,000 others? Extinction or adjustment to the world of digits.

Digits are cheap.

A DIGITAL DAGGER

This is a digital dagger at the heart of the ruling elite. As this spreads, it will be the end of the nearly monolithic educational worldview, a worldview that rests on the assumption that ideas must be controlled, and that this control is best accomplished through screening. Such screening procedures must be in the hands of gatekeepers. These gatekeepers must be certified by other gatekeepers and protected by the state.

The Internet has destroyed most of the walls that give power to control over the gates. The center will not hold. The many competing views of how the world works will act as acid for the worldview of the power elite.

The historical mark of the collapse of the strategy of gatekeeping, after 5,000 years, was Matt Drudge’s 1998 story about “Newsweek,” which had suppressed the story of the unnamed intern and Bill Clinton. Soon, she was named. Then Clinton was impeached. His Teflon charm let him avoid conviction, but his reputation never recovered. He will always be remembered as the smiling rogue with a roving eye and a cigar. This is not what a member of the ruling elite expects after his successful lifetime effort to shinny up the greased pole of political success. It takes all the fun out of it.

We need an image that represents the digital transformation. I think it ought to be Alex Jones’s bullhorn. He posts those video clips of him and some of his supporters standing outside a Bilderberg meeting or some other closed-door conclave of the ruling elite. He has his trusty bullhorn in hand. He shouts at them. He tells them that the People are watching. They don’t know what to do about this. The video will be on YouTube within a few days – maybe hours.

Are the People watching? A few may be. Probably not all that many. They are watching funny videos, or pornography, or some other entertainment. But, from the point of view of the ruling elite, nobody is supposed to be watching a Jones video. They hate him and his bullhorn, but they can do nothing about it. Yes, someone hacked Jones’s YouTube video of “The Obama Deception” in mid-July, removing it after 6,000,000 hits, but that merely annoyed him. It did not stop him. It is back up.

CONCLUSION

We are living in the era that will go into the textbooks. If I had the influence to name it, the way that historians designated 1946–1991 as “the Cold War,” I would call 1995 “the end of the gatekeepers.” It is the Berners-Lee era, but that reference is too obscure.

Every ruling elite rules on behalf of a basic idea, and this idea usually has a slogan. I think the ruling idea today is this: “the mixed economy.” Digital technology and state bankruptcies are going to unmix it.

Karl Marx called capitalism’s system “the cash nexus.” Others summarize it as “money talks.” I call it price competition.

The ruling elite has justified its claim to sovereignty and therefore legitimacy in terms of superior technological wisdom – the unique possession of an elite. One institution stands as a testimony against such a claim: Wikipedia. I think it will still be around in 2100. I don’t think today’s ruling elite will be.

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com.He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

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Video: Pastor Steven Anderson Acquitted By Jury

August 15th, 2010 Comments off

“A Border Patrol agent questioned Anderson about his citizenship but he refused to answer, saying it was his constitutional right to remain silent. After he wouldn’t move to a secondary inspection area, Anderson says a state police officer and Border Patrol agents broke both windows of his car, shocked him with a stun gun, dragged him out and slammed him onto the ground.”

Original Video:

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The Philosophy of Authority

August 15th, 2010 Comments off

From Strike The Root

“Authority” is one of those words that is commonly used but less commonly understood. It may be claimed that a person has the authority to decide what to do with his own life and property, and it may also be claimed that a police officer has the authority to arrest a person who has broken the law. How does the concept of authority properly apply to these claims?

To possess authority is to possess a power: An authority may justly decide how a possession or a person is to be treated. An authority has power over all possessions and persons that are subject to his authority. But just how does an individual acquire such a power?

I contend that here is where the common understanding of authority goes astray: By not considering how the power of authority originates, it is easy to misidentify thuggery as authority. And there is a critical difference between the two.

Please note that I used the word “justly” in my definition of authority. An authority has the moral and ethical right to exercise power over whatever or whoever is subject to his power. Thuggery, on the other hand, is the exercise of power over persons and property by force. Stealing a person’s money at gunpoint, an example of thuggery, is unjust, immoral, and unethical.

I don’t think I am stating anything too controversial here so far.

So, then, the big question is this: How does an individual acquire authority? Again, keep in mind that authority is equated with justice, and is a good thing. From whence springs forth this font of just power?

Innate Authority

The original source of authority lies within each individual. Consider the phrase “All men are created equal.” What do these words mean, and how do they help us understand the concept of authority?

If all men are created equal, then no individual is innately subject to another. Everyone owns and controls his own person and therefore does not own and/or control any other. We can conclude from this that every individual has the innate power of authority over his own person, and that no individual has the innate power of authority over any other individual.

This is a very simple concept, and it explains very neatly why slavery, for example, is thuggery. The slavemaster assumes authority over another individual against that individual’s will. He may claim natural authority because of his race, nationality, or religion, but the claim is false. His actions are unjust, immoral, and unethical. His modus operandi is aggression. He is not an authority, but rather a thug.

Aggression is the initiation of—or the threat to use—force in order to infringe upon, steal, damage, or destroy the person or property of an individual, assuming that individual is not aggressing or has not aggressed against anyone else. Aggression is the main tool of the thug’s trade.

Aggression against individuals who have not aggressed against anyone is always unethical. If you disagree, please cite examples to support your claim.

If I were to stop you on the sidewalk and demand to see your identification, you would no doubt (and justifiably so) tell me to take a hike. Why? Because you don’t recognize my authority to command you? Exactly.

Would it be unjust, immoral and unethical of me to point a gun at you and force you to show me your identification? The question answers itself.

So how does a police officer, for example, have the authority to command me to do something (assuming I haven’t aggressed against anyone) if I do not grant him any authority? He doesn’t. Period. What he has is overwhelming force. Without my consent, any action he forces me to perform under threat of violence is unethical. See the previous paragraph if this seems confusing.

But society has given police officers the authority to enforce the laws of the land, you may counter. But all you would be saying is that if you collect up enough individuals, then each individual within that group enjoys more rights than any one individual outside the group. That idea cannot be reconciled with “All men are created equal,” since it is equivalent to the statement “Some men are created more equal than others.”

Well, comes out the inevitable trump card—usually slapped down on the table with great pride and satisfaction, as it is no doubt a brilliant and clever rejoinder to any individual sovereignty argument—it sounds like you do not want to belong to the society that we have set up here, and that’s fine. Nobody is forcing you to be a part of it. If you don’t like the rules here, then you are free to leave.

Property Rights and Delegated Authority

The core of this “Love It Or Leave It” argument is property rights. The assertion is that the United States government is the property owner of all the land within its borders, and it has the right to decide what the rules are on its own property. If a person wishes to stand upon government property, then he must follow the rules or else he is committing aggression against the government, and the government then has the right to defend itself against the aggressor.

The government, this assertion claims, is like a homeowner who has the natural right to exert authority over his own private property. If someone were to break into your house, you should certainly feel that you have the authority to protect your property, even if the intruder does not recognize the authority you claim. The fact that you are standing on your own property gives you the authority that flows from your natural rights to defend yourself, and by extension your property, against aggression.

And so, the theory goes, the government has delegated authority to the police officer, assigning him to protect the government property by enforcing the property owner’s rules. You are invited to stay if you obey the rules and if not, you are a trespasser and the security force of the property owner will use its delegated authority and power to defend the property owner’s land.

However.

Consider the case of an individual who kills the occupants of a house and takes it as his own. What authority does he possess in attempting to hold on to his stolen goods if someone else tries to appropriate them? Does he have a natural right to take whatever he wants by force, and does this give him the just authority to use force to stop anyone else from taking it?

No. By stealing the house, he is the aggressor. He has no rights or authority concerning the stolen house. None whatsoever.

How does one acquire property? By killing whoever is in possession of something and taking it for oneself? Yes, that could work, but would it be ethical? Would it be just? Again, I certainly hope the question answers itself.

The mafioso who claims you owe him protection money because your business is located on “his” turf has no authority over you if you choose not to give it to him. What he may have is a small army backing him up, and perhaps the wise thing to do is pay up, but are you willing to concede that he has a legitimate claim to authority over you? His claim to his turf was won through aggression and is held by aggression. He is a thug. That is all.

How did the United States government acquire the 3.8 million square miles of land it now holds? Was there someone else occupying the land before the United States government came into possession? Was the land transferred in a just and ethical manner? Does anyone remember anything about Native Americans in their history classes? About how there were millions who lived within the borders of what is now called the United States? Where did all those people go?

Thugs broke into their houses, killed them, and took their property. Mafiosos claimed their land to be part of their mafia’s “turf.”

And no, this is not meant to be a guilt trip. No, we can’t do much for those who were treated unjustly over a century ago. But the passage of time does not exonerate the criminal from his previous actions. All of the authority—the just power—that is claimed by the United States government is based upon a claim to property rights on land acquired through thuggery. This renders the claim to authority false for any individual who chooses not to recognize it.

And there you have it.

Delegated authority is always a voluntary proposition, and it can be withdrawn at any time. It is a privilege bestowed—an extension of a natural right from one individual to another. Assumed authority is thuggery.

So whenever you hear “Love It Or leave It,” or some variation thereof, what is really being said is this [sfx: a dangerous Marlon Brando voice] “Love It Or We’ll Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse.”

I would urge all here to just please, give up the gangsta life.

Respect authority. Reject thuggery. Know the difference.

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We Do Matter

August 14th, 2010 Comments off

From Fr33 Agents

We are told at a young age that we should be seen and not heard. It is constantly, and even worse, surreptitiously thrust into the innermost depths of our skulls that all of us should just sit down, shut up and just take it. We supposedly don’t matter to those obsessed with control over others, who feel that they may become big, by giving their victims the notion that they are all so very small.

Persons hidden far and away in a land separated from us appear to be the ones making all the important decisions. Persons who mistakenly lay claim to knowing what our needs are are busy making the choices for us so we need not busy our pretty little heads about it further. Sure there’s the scripted questions from the Town Halls that the crafty politicos stage for us. Sadly their meeting houses are just a slick mirage to hide their contempt for you.

It all adds up to the cruel statement from those who consider themselves “our betters” that in the grand scheme of it all that we simply don’t matter. I am most certainly not alone when I say that quite the opposite is true. You do matter and you should never let anyone on earth attempt to convince you otherwise.

We are conditioned or just told outright that we need to “work within the system” should there be something within it our souls find most disagreeable. Once you play at their game, it’s the same old song and dance with the same results. You continue to be lorded over by people who couldn’t be successful peddling their hare-brained schemes in the free market.

Solution? Live free, live just as free as you possibly can do so. If your gut tells you to disregard meaningless diktat and none of your fellow human beings are harmed by your actions, then by all means weigh the penalties you may possibly face with what you and your fellow travelers through life could perhaps gain. You, your dignity, your freedom, and your needs do indeed matter.

Engage in some good old fashioned civil disobedience with a group of friends. The larger the crowd and the more tolerant law enforcement in your area are, the better your chances of pulling it off. Peacefully confront the neighborhood bully and state loud and clear to him or her that you are a human being and expect to be treated with just as much dignity and respect as that person would expect from others.

Your lover should truly and unconditionally love you and not act as though you exist solely for his or her sake. Even if you lacked the nerve to make it known before, say it loud and clear, this time. The job market is tight these days, no doubt about it yet if you are browbeaten by a cruel supervisor who is him or herself trying to compensate for a lack of self esteem. Explain to the boss that honorable behavior and empathy towards those who add so much value to his or her business is a two way street, and you are most happy to keep your part of the bargain.

You have more than earned your sense of worth to your friends neighbors and co-workers, and you are much more important to society than you may have originally thought. Recognize your true value to others and you will take a vital step towards truly living your happiness.

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Our Communities Depend Upon Individual Nullifiers with Courage

August 11th, 2010 Comments off

From C4SS

If you read the July 20th Arizona Republic article “Plaintiffs poised to challenge Arizona’s immigration law,” you may have noticed that Luz Santiago, a pastor at Iglesia Pueblo de Dios in Mesa, has been confronted with a horrible dilemma by the passage of Arizona’s new immigration bill.

Frédéric Bastiat famously stated in The Law that “when law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” Unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening. Both outcomes of this decision are deeply undesirable for the people of Arizona.

These types of dilemmas are very troubling, but history does provide some guidance. Examples abound with moral lawbreakers. Martin Luther King didn’t ask the permission of racists to challenge their convictions. Gandhi never backed down to the British imperialists.  John Brown would not wait to see enslaved Africans liberated any longer and acted decisively. Lysander Spooner never groveled for state sanction to become a lawyer or to start the American Letter Mail Company.  Henry David Thoreau refused to pay a poll tax in protest of the travesty of the Mexican-American War, subsequently writing Civil Disobedience in prison. It was in his cell that he proclaimed, “under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”   Harriet Tubman reacted to the injustice of slavery and risked her life many times to free the enslaved from bondage. The Tea Partiers of the American Revolution did not wait for the law to catch up to their sense of moral indignation; they acted on their own consciences as a small fraction of the Boston community!

Recently, Bradley Manning bravely acted out against the murderous policies of the American state.  His and Wikileaks’ actions, though illegal like those of Daniel Ellsberg of a previous epoch, did a great deal to unearth the madness of the policies of the state and furthered justice.

We certainly do not judge well the “Good Germans” of World War II who were supposedly uninvolved in the Nazi terrors.  “Just following orders” is contrary to most Americans’ intuitive sense of justice. If one obeys a law because the guiding principle is just then morality and our community are well-served. People who behave in this manner do our communities a great service. However, if one obeys a law for no better reason than that it is law, all one is doing is respecting power, and disappointingly, not virtue.

American culture is many things, but it is definitively not about respect for unjust authority. The entire history and culture of this place echoes a profound respect (at the very least rhetorically) for freedom and justice under the law.  America has seen a strong tradition of individuals acting immediately as nullifiers to laws they deem unjust.

Regardless of whether one agrees with the thrust of Arizona’s immigration bill, SB1070, we should all agree that following laws merely because they are laws is a horribly low standard to set for our communities. I personally don’t want people who “just follow orders” as my neighbors. I want neighbors who boldly confront problems which prick their moral indignation and offend their sense of justice. Members of our community who are willing to act against their moral convictions and follow bad laws are not reliable members of a responsible community, and never could be.

Even if one does not agree with Luz Santiago’s anti-SB1070 stance, one should openly welcome her voice in a freethinking and inquisitive community and be glad that there are some who will bravely follow their moral convictions in the face of great opposition. One would be lucky to have such neighbors in any community.

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Video: Walter E. Williams – Discrimination and Liberty

August 9th, 2010 Comments off

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Reduce Federal Spending: End the Drug War

August 7th, 2010 Comments off

From The Future of Freedom Foundation

by Jacob G. Hornberger

I have a proposal for reducing federal spending: End the drug war by legalizing drugs.

Let’s face reality: Unless something drastic happens, like bankruptcy or hyperinflation, Americans are not likely going to let go of their welfare-warfare state in the near term.

When it comes to welfare, Americans are as addicted as your most hard-core heroin addict. How many times have we heard, “If we didn’t have Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, people would die in the streets from starvation and illness”?

Then there’s the warfare dole for the military and military-industrial complex. Don’t think for a moment that the Pentagon and its contractors are ever going to be willing to give up their warfare dole. They have as big entitlement mentality as welfare recipients. Moreover, they will always be able and willing to conjure up or provoke all sorts of foreign enemies, bogeymen, crises, fears, and threats that will guarantee them a continual stream of warfare money.

Then there’s the interest on the national debt. And then there is all the so-called “discretionary spending,” such as the bailouts, education grants, stimulus funds, farm subsidies, regulatory enforcement, and all the rest. You can count on every single recipient of such largess to fight just as viciously for his share of the dole as the other welfare and warfare recipients.

Given the enormous and growing gap between federal tax revenues and federal expenditures, the future doesn’t look good. Common sense will tell you that such a situation is not going to end well.

The liberals want to resolve the problem by raising taxes. But what they’re ignoring is that the welfare-warfare state might have finally have reached a breaking point — where higher taxes drive more firms into shutting down, thereby reducing tax revenues even more and increasing the number of people on the dole. Think Greece.

So, what to do? The answer is obvious: Immediately abolish — as in repeal — all welfare-state programs, beginning with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, restoring retirement and health care to the free market.

At the same time, dismantle the entire warfare state, immediately ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing all the troops home and discharging them, closing all the foreign bases and most of the bases here at home, and drying up the military-industrial complex.

Alas, however, Americans aren’t ready to go there yet. The addiction to welfare-warfare spending is too deeply engrained in the American psyche.

So, how about reducing federal spending by ending the drug war?

How much is spent on the drug war? Around $15 billion. Okay, admittedly that’s a drop in the bucket in a $3.5 trillion budget. But we’ve got to start somewhere, and what better place to knock off billions of dollars in one fell swoop?

After all, what’s the point of the drug war? Everyone, including the head of the DEA, would concede that the drug war has not been victorious despite decades of warfare. In fact, it’s become the never-ending war, one that has no other point than to punish people without accomplishing anything. As everyone knows, the drug war certainly hasn’t stemmed the flow of drugs.

So, I ask again: What’s the point of it? It has no point whatsoever. We could immediately save $15 billion by ending it.

And think of the collateral benefits that would flow from an immediate legalization of drugs:

1. The drug cartels and drug lords would be out of business immediately. Who could object to that? Isn’t that what the DEA and U.S. and Mexican militaries are trying to do with their law-enforcement operations? Yet, as soon as they kill or jail some drug lord, he’s quickly replaced by new ones.

Thus, their method will never permanently rid society of drug lords and drug cartels. It can only fill the graveyards or prisons with them, endlessly.

Drug legalization, on the other hand, puts them all of business. Why wouldn’t that be a better way to rid society of drug cartels and drug lords? Indeed, it’s the only way to do so.

2. Virtually all the robberies, muggings, thefts, burglaries, and murders that addicts engage in to pay for the exorbitant, black-market prices for drugs would disappear. We’d have a safer society. When was the last time you heard of a wino or alcoholic committing acts of violence to get the money to buy a bottle of wine or a case of beer? That’s because the cost of buying these products is low, compared to the potential cost of engaging in violent crime to get the money. Drug legalization would do the same thing to the prices of illicit drugs.

3. Drug addicts would be encouraged to be more open about their addiction, enabling them to openly seek therapy for the issues that are driving them to use drugs. The drug war drives people underground, fearful that someone will turn them in. Drug legalization brings the process to the surface, where it is easier to deal with.

4. The drug-war violations of privacy and civil liberties would disappear, along with one of the police’s favorite excuses for harassing citizens. No more asset-forfeiture, no more cash reporting requirements, no more planting drugs on innocent people. Indeed, no more drug-war bribes to government officials.

5. Most important, drug legalization will restore a core aspect of human freedom to our land — the right of human beings to ingest whatever substance they want without being punished by the state for it.

Would legalization of drugs resolve the federal budgetary problem? Of course not! But it would put a dent into it, while bringing about a more peaceful and free society.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.

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