Saturday, March 25, 2017

Trump and the Republicans, Business as Usual



So far, Trump and the republicans are following perfect form:

House Republicans abandoned their efforts to repeal and partially replace Obamacare after President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan couldn’t wrangle enough votes….

It strikes me that Obama is more capable than Trump and Pelosi is more capable than Ryan; at least when Obama and Pelosi had a majority in both houses of congress, they could ramrod an unpopular bill through.

Why did it fail?  I will answer the question with a question: who in the electorate voted for “replace”?  The voters for Trump wanted “repeal.”  Republicans, when not in power, proposed a repeal bill at least half-a-dozen times.  Why not now?

Many republicans in congress wanted either repeal or a different version of replace.

If Trump and Ryan truly wanted a win, they should have called for a straight-up “repeal” vote.  The base would have been thrilled; republicans who voted against this would have been kicked out of office in two years; Trump would have delivered what his voters expected.

Instead we get one of the only two allowable outcomes in US politics: business as usual or business worse than usual.

“We’ll end up with a truly great health-care bill after the Obamacare mess explodes,” [Trump] said.

It will implode, but you won’t get “a truly great health-care bill” out of it.

Why do you think you will be in office when it implodes?  Why do you think republicans will hold a majority in congress when it implodes?  Why do you think republicans in congress will allow it to implode?  Why do you think other republicans in congress will want to replace it?

Why do you think those who voted for you want “a truly great health-care bill” at all?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Uncomfortable Questions



An interesting dialogue.  One that raises uncomfortable questions.  The dialogue has been ongoing at this blog for quite some time; in many ways, the dialogue can be summarized here, beginning with the comment by Nick Badalamenti March 22, 2017 at 6:38 AM.

For close to two years I have been examining the relationship of the non-aggression principle and culture.  The dialogue has been ongoing at this site throughout this time.  This journey began with an examination of left-libertarianism; such an examination inevitably moved into culture.  With culture comes the topic of immigration.

The Questions

·        What if the NAP requires a certain cultural soil on which to thrive?
·        What if that cultural soil is to be found in what is traditionally understood as European and Anglo?
·        Do all invasions require armed, uniformed battalions – supported by airpower?
·        What if elites are purposely taking action to destroy that cultural soil, specifically for the purpose to destroy the one philosophical threat to their worldly power and control?
·        Do parents have an obligation to protect this cultural soil for their children?
·        What if that obligation requires methods that cannot be considered consistent with the NAP?
·        It is acceptable for a voluntary community to set standards for new members to meet before they are allowed admittance?
·        Is it acceptable for a voluntary community to set standards that members are required to meet, else they face expulsion?

The Non-Aggression Principle Applied

Libertarianism in theory is decentralization in practice.  Being human, we will never achieve the NAP utopia – there will never be a heaven on earth.  Consider how much those libertarians who believe this sound like believers in communism; in both cases, they require humans to be something other than human.  The chance of achieving perfection in applying either system is zero. 

The best we can hope for is continued decentralization.  This implies increasing choice in increasing aspects of our lives.

The increased choice can be found in both market and government realms.  As libertarians, we tend to focus only on the “government” aspect, but it is incorrect to ignore the freedom that has been offered by the market – cars, iPhones, the internet. 

This is not to minimize the “government” aspect.  For this reason, it is consistent with the NAP to root for every opportunity of political decentralization: the break-up of the Soviet Union, Brexit, Scottish Independence, Catalonia.  Political decentralization brings increased political choice for individuals.

Find something that comes closest to what you want; you will never find exactly what you want.  It will always be true in the market; it will always be true in the political.

A Historical Framework

The closest and longest lasting example in history that I find that is consistent with the non-aggression principle is that period understood as the Germanic Middle Ages.  Political decentralization defines this period.

Was it pure libertarianism?  Hardly.  But there is no chance of heaven on earth.

What characterized this period?  Local governance; law based on the old and good, not legislation; all men truly under the law; the law binding by individual oath; the oath a three-party oath – two human parties and God; the king can only enforce the law, not legislate; every noble with the ability to veto the king’s decision; serfs protected by the same system of oaths; wars were between the nobles and kings, the serfs were not obligated.

What else characterized this period?  Lots of wars.  What didn’t characterize these wars?  All serfs conscripted at the wish of the noble; involvement of the entire continent, let alone world; the ability to sustain the war for an unlimited period.  The wars were limited in both size and duration.  Call them family feuds, because that about describes it.

What else characterized this period?  The Christians of the Germanic Middle Ages fought desperately to protect their culture.  They felt that without this culture, they would have no future for their children; without this culture, they would leave no legacy worth celebrating.  By losing this culture, they would be remembered as pariahs.

I believe it is fair to suggest that the obligation most felt by the nobles of this time was the obligation they felt to both their ancestors and descendants – to preserve the culture under which they enjoyed the greatest decentralization.  Their view?  Any society that failed to preserve its culture didn’t deserve to survive.

Conclusion

Face the questions.  Think through your answers.  The context is this world, not in theoretical utopia.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Terrorism



Terrorism is, in its broadest sense, the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror or fear, in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological aim….It is also considered a war crime under the laws of war when used to target non-combatants, such as civilians, neutral military personnel, or enemy prisoners of war.

--------------------------------------

"Turkey is not a country you can pull and push around, not a country whose citizens you can drag on the ground," Erdogan said at an event for Turkish journalists in Ankara, in comments broadcast live on national television.

"If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. Europe will be damaged by this. We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy," he said.

Rothbard and Open Borders



I return to the compilation of Rothbard’s essays originally written for the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, entitled “The Irrepressible Rothbard.”  This essay is entitled “Education: Rethinking Choice.”

You might ask: what does education choice have to do with open borders?  Walk with me, and keep an open mind.

Rothbard sees vouchers, allowing parents a choice in where to send their children to school, as a “half-a-loaf” step.  He is perfectly fine with half-a-loaf if it moves the needle toward liberty.  Vouchers move the needle the wrong way:

I have always opposed the voucher scheme bitterly; because it enshrines in "libertarian" favor a policy forcing taxpayers to pay for the education of other people's children. 

The issue being that taxpayers would, with vouchers, thereafter be required to pay for both public and private school tuition.

Try it this way:

I have always opposed open borders bitterly; because it enshrines in "libertarian" favor a policy forcing taxpayers to pay for all manner of social and welfare schemes for all comers. 

Not convinced by that?  It gets better:

One argument that paleoconservatives make about libertarians is that we tend to become so enamored of our "abstract" though correct theory that we tend to underweigh concrete political or cultural problems, and here is a lovely example. 

Libertarians stuck in the purity of their abstract theory?  Libertarians who underweigh political or cultural problems?  Libertarian theorists who do not consider that humans are…human?  I have never heard of such a thing (wink, wink).

Once we focus on the question, it should be clear that, in our present rotten political and cultural climate, there is no way that the State would allow parents to choose genuinely private schools in a tax credit system. (Emphasis in original.)

Try it this way:

Once we focus on the question, it should be clear that, in our present rotten political and cultural climate, there is no way that the State would allow private property owners to discriminate regarding access to their private property.

And if libertarians aren’t first and foremost standing in defense of private property, all that is left is the traditional left-right continuum (with those pushing for open borders clearly on the left).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Rothbard on Trump



Didn’t think it was possible, did you?

A Strategy for the Right, first published in 1992 in the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, it is the opening chapter in a compilation of Rothbard’s essays, entitled “The Irrepressible Rothbard.”

What I call the Old Right is suddenly back!

Rothbard felt the proper home for libertarians was with the right – the old right made up of anti-New Deal elements, for example H.L. Mencken, Albert Jay Nock, Rose Wilder Lane, and Garet Garrett.  He also points to Howard Buffet (Warren’s dad) and Robert Taft.

The old right also included those who were against American involvement in World War II.

…contrary to accepted myth, the Original Right did not disappear with, and was not discredited by, our entry into World War II. On the contrary, the congressional elections of 1942 — elections neglected by scholars — were a significant victory not only for conservative Republicans, but for isolationist Republicans as well.

Neglected by me, as well; but no longer.  Regarding the House of Representatives:

The 1942 United States House of Representatives elections was held in the middle of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's third term.  The main factor that led to the Republican gains during this election cycle was concern over World War II and American involvement.

Roosevelt's Democratic Party lost 45 seats, retaining only a slender majority even though they lost the popular vote by over 1 million votes (3.9%).

What?  They lost the popular vote and still won a majority?  I say the Russians did it – and for this claim I actually have some evidence: Roosevelt’s administration was found to be loaded with Soviet agents, sprinkled throughout; Roosevelt’s favorite uncle was named “Joe.”

Regarding the Senate:

The United States Senate elections of 1942 were held November 3, 1942, midway through Franklin D. Roosevelt's third term as President. Although this election took place during World War II, the opposition Republican party made major gains, taking eight seats from the Democrats and one from an independent.

Returning to Rothbard and his writing on Trump:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Roll Over Beethoven



Chuck Berry has died.  Ninety years old.

A guitar style like no other; when you heard Chuck Berry play, you knew it was Chuck Berry.

For his time, completely revolutionary.  There is a thread that passes from blues to rock and roll.  Some say it passed through Elvis.  It can just as easily be said that it passed through Chuck.

Open Borders: No Answer in the Non-Aggression Principle



In all of my reading and writing on the topic of open borders and immigration, I keep returning to the idea presented in the title: the answer to the issue, especially in a world of state borders, will not be found solely through the application of libertarian theory.

Why do I suggest this?  To begin, open border advocates offer many good arguments via application of libertarian theory. The problem is that there are arguments against open borders that are also slam dunks via application of libertarian theory.  If application of the theory results in good arguments for different conclusions…then what?

I believe the arguments against open borders are more consistent.  I do not intend to offer another examination of these points.  My attempts at this have proven fruitless.

Instead, I will expand on the idea that the answer cannot be deduced – and most certainly not in a world of state borders – solely via strict application of the non-aggression principle.

Rothbardian Anarchism

Rothbardian anarchism is the logical conclusion of the non-aggression principle if consistently applied.  It offers a world without states, therefore a world without state borders.  Instead, all borders would be private borders.

A single-family home, an amusement park, a resort hotel, a condominium, a grocery store, a homeowner’s association, a self-organized community, a park: each one privately owned, each one with rules established by the owner regarding admittance.  No state agency telling the property owner who he must allow to enter.

Is it reasonable to assume that the property owner would allow anyone to enter, no questions asked?  Do you do this with your home?

Can one describe any of the resultant property lines with the phrase “open borders”?  To answer yes would turn the meaning of private property on its head.  (As I have often written, once a “libertarian” considers diminishing the rights regarding private property, he ceases to be a libertarian.)  Yet such would be the only “borders” in an anarcho world.

In other words, the non-aggression principle, taken to its logical conclusion, would be a world of managed borders. 

Please, someone refute this; I beg of you.

Minarchism

Three aspects must be explored.  First, there is a jurisdiction over which the governing body governs.  Second, minarchists typically suggest three functions for government: some form of internal police and punishment for violations of the non-aggression principle, courts, and defense from foreign invasion.  Finally, the method of payment for such services: involuntary (taxes) and voluntary (contractually consensual).

First, the jurisdiction: certainly there must be boundaries for the government, unless one advocates a global monopoly provider of these services.  As a global monopolist of government would mean the end of liberty, I will ignore this dream of communist utopians and instead stick to boundaries – political lines on a map depicting the region being governed; lines on a map separating the governance boundaries of one provider from another.

Second, functions: the most relevant for this discussion is defense from invasion.  In order to properly defend from invasion, the governing agency must ascertain the intent of those crossing into the boundary.  Invasions are not always announced.  The answer to “is this an invasion?” is not always black and white.

Will the invaders always fly in on gray helicopter gunships blaring “The Ride of the Valkyries”?  Wear camouflage?  March in formation?  I recall a story of a Trojan horse….