September 24

interventionism

No, I’m not talking about the tv show. Interventionism (the policy or doctrine of intervening, especially government interference in the affairs of another state or in domestic economic affairs) is, of course, the opposite of non-interventionism (abstention by a nation from interference in the affairs of other nations or in those of its own political subdivisions). In what has become a much-admired-by-many House of Representatives floor speech in early 2009 – titled “What If?” – current Presidential candidate Ron Paul spoke the following words:

“What if we wake up one day and realize that the terrorist threat is the predictable consequence of our meddling in the affairs of others, and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?”

In my experience over the last few years, the immediate reaction upon absorbing this quote by many who call or think of themselves as “conservative” is that, well, countries like Iran refer to the US as “the Great Satan” and want to destroy the US’ greatest Middle Eastern ally, Israel. But let us consider history.

Did you know Iran hasn’t referred to the US as “the Great Satan” forever? In fact, the term was first used in 1979, only just over three decades ago. Why? Because about 60 years ago, the US government (and I use the term “the US government”, instead of “we” or “us”, carefully – I had no vote in and nothing to do with it) started meddling in Iran’s affairs. Look at Mosaddegh and the coup d’état in 1953. The US government overthrew and replaced him with the Shah. Then, 26 years later, the US government decided that its previous decision was no longer in its best interests, so the US government deposed the Shah. That’s only a fraction of US involvement.

Imagine if another country, 100x more militarily and economically stronger than ours, did the same thing to us for 60 years. If, say, China.. or the Soviets.. set up political and military coups, basically ran OUR country. We too would probably refer to them as “the Great Satan”. The CIA calls this “blowback“. And as I penned in my previous post of the same name: “America is exceptional, it is the most prosperous country in the history of the world, but it is not infallible – in fact, far from it.”

We have to apply history and perspective to our position here. The issue raised with regard to Iran (and other Arab nations) is in fact exactly what the “What If?” quote was referring to.

It is hardly the fault of the average US citizen not to have in-depth knowledge of these facts. We spend our lives slaving away for 8, 10, 12 hours a day (at least 3-4 of those hours of every day go directly to various governments in various ways). Then we come home and spend the rest of our night recuperating, trying to relax, and planning for the next day. We don’t have the time to become scholars on political history. Almost nobody in positions of power or influence ever talks about any of this important history; one has to really take the initiative and dig deep to find it. And that’s why I’ve become such an adamant supporter of Ron Paul. Personally, he brought me face-to-face with a lot of these issues I had never realized or heard about or dealt with before, and he’s the only one that will really address it when it counts (i.e. in the debates), even though it’s an unpopular subject. And studying these previously unknown histories for over 3 years has provided a completely new perspective on it all.

Of course, though, the question will remain: What about Israel? The answer is clear – in fact, Thomas Jefferson clued us in a few centuries ago. The US should be great friends with Israel, in trade and diplomacy. Israel should be free to defend itself without condemnation from the US. If it wants to make preemptive strikes, fine. It is a sovereign country with a superior military and can easily do so. But the US’ only moral action at this point is to apologize to Israel for the hostile environment the US has created in the Middle East, and then get out of it.

“Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.” – Thomas Jefferson

More foreign intervention is like more quantitative easing. We can print more and more money, but we are just building a bigger bubble. And when we finally stretch ourselves too thin militarily and economically because of our need to be the policeman of the world, the crash will be devastating.

Category: 9/11, economy, politics, war | Comments Off on interventionism
September 1

a brief history of true conservatism

Over the past few centuries, the notions and flavors of conservatism and liberalism have become confused and conflated. The American Revolutionaries, for example, were contemporary liberals, while their adversaries the Tories (or British Loyalists) were conservatives. Today’s conservatives, on the other hand, embrace the American Revolutionaries, whereas today’s liberals probably would necessarily have embraced neither. Since these definitions have been lost in translation, this article will attempt to annotate a brief history of true conservatism and other similar and/or competing ideologies.

Classical liberalism was an 18th-19th century philosophy of general antipathy toward the state which argued for free markets, individual liberty, and natural law. “Liberal” in this historic definition is similar to “liberate” – from the Latin liberalis, “of freedom”. This ideology espoused rebellion against authoritarianism in the manner of John Locke, along with the total laissez-faire economics of Adam Smith. It held a general distrust of governments in light of historical erosions of civil liberties.

Conservatism (in the United States) is in practice a far cry from classical liberalism, though oratorically it is very similar. Mainstream modern conservatism pays lip service to the notion of limited, Constitutional government, but in fact many conservatives only espouse limited government in the areas they choose. Many of today’s so-called conservatives are now pro-big-military, pro-social-intervention, pro-power-state. This clearly contradicts the “limited government” rhetoric; whereas today’s liberals want big government for social programs, today’s conservatives want big government in other places.

Neoconservatism evolved as a result of progressives (Democrats) who, beginning in the 1970s and 80s, infiltrated the conservative (Republican) party in an attempt to shift it to the left on the political scale. Some of their main goals were increased foreign interventionism in defense of Israel and expansion of welfare programs, all in the name of conservatism. They were overwhelmingly successful. 9/11 was the spark that really lit the fire, when Bush declared that the United States should seek to promote liberal democracy around the world as cause for invading Iraq.

Paleoconservatism, on the other hand, is much more consistent on limited, Constitutional government. Paleoconservatives often tend to be religious and carry strong moral sentiments, but being aware of the “slippery slope” are more leery of advocating state intervention into many of these social and moral strata.

Libertarianism evolved as a contemporary approach to classical liberalism, and is sometimes called neo-classical liberalism or neoliberalism. This school of thought was revived by more modern intellectuals and Austrian economists such as Bastiat, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, and Friedman. The term “libertarian” is typically associated with the United States, as similar movements around the world are known under different labels. It is characterized by a fundamental belief in liberty, and all its tenets flow from that point. Libertarians and paleoconservatives share a lot of common ground, but the former is antithetical to the latter’s preference for state-imposed social conservatism.

The Founding Fathers would be thought of at the time as classical liberals. In today’s terms, this would make them libertarian. Those who insist on invoking the Founding Fathers need to get consistent on their philosophy and embrace real libertarianism. Otherwise they are just regurgitating some flavor of neo- or faux conservatism. If only they knew what is often said and done in their name, the Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their individual (not collective) graves.

 more info

Many of these terms were also discussed in one of my previous posts, ideological definitions.

Recommended reading: dissertation on liberalism.

June 22

The Fed is the root of all money evils

The Federal Reserve, more commonly known as “The Fed”, is the central banking system of the United States. As the common saying among sound money endorsers goes, The Fed is “no more ‘federal’ than Federal Express”. It is in actuality a quasi-federal cartel of private banksters and federal bureaucrats which centrally dictate United States economic policy with no oversight, transparency, or accountability; in fact, it has never been audited in its entire existence. The Fed claims one of its primary objectives is to control inflation, but in fact, the purchasing power of the dollar has decreased by more than 95% since its initiation, and the US has seen a number of recessionary and depressionary periods.

US dollars, more accurately called Federal Reserve Notes, are fiat money; that is, money backed by nothing of intrinsic value, traditionally such as gold or silver. For this reason, The Fed can engage in a little-understood but extremely detrimental act known as quantitative easing (QE). QE is, simply, the printing (or digital creation) of new (but worthless) money (also known as “expanding the money supply”), and is tantamount to legalized counterfeiting. This has the effect of decreasing the value of all other money in circulation, essentially stealing from your savings.

To counteract this criminal enterprise, the US must drastically reform its monetary policy. We must Audit the Fed and determine exactly where our money has been going for decades. We must return to a system of sound money, backed by a valuable asset like gold or silver.

It is no coincidence that the Federal Reserve Act and the Sixteenth Amendment (which established the income tax) were enacted in the same year, 1913 (as a matter of fact, the Seventeenth Amendment was introduced in this year as well, making it a very bad year for the US). Prior to the income tax, most citizens were able to live the majority of their lives without the involvement of the government. The government was funded via consumption taxes, and a return to such a method would do us well.

The Fair Tax would simplify and basically eliminate the current leviathan tax code, decreasing the burden on individuals and small businesses. It would place an emphasis on savings (the wealth of a country), as individuals would have an added incentive to contemplate their own spending. And it would spur economic growth and return jobs to the US, as corporations scramble to invest in the return of industry.

June 10

cheatsheet for World’s Smallest Political Quiz

The short answer: “Agree” to all! Take the quiz, and post your results and comments below.

Government should not censor speech, press, media or Internet:

ANY government encroachment is always a slippery slope. The state has proven time and again that once they get their foot in the door, they will only open it wider. The First Amendment guarantees recognition of the right to absolute freedom of these mediums, period.

Military service should be voluntary. There should be no draft:

Compulsory military service is an infringement of the individual’s right to freedom. Anything the government enforces involuntarily must be done either directly or indirectly at the point of a gun, with the threat of violence, which is not only immoral but against the spirit of liberty. Besides, anyone forced to do something against their will lacks motivation to perform – and if the people of a country lack the motivation to defend themselves from an impending attack, that country is destined to fail either way.

There should be no laws regarding sex between consenting adults:

There should be no laws regarding ANYTHING between consenting adults. Sex falls into that category. What people choose to do with their own bodies is up to them only – period.

Repeal laws prohibiting adult possession and use of drugs:

Possession and use of drugs harms nobody except possibly the user. As established previously, what people choose to do with their own bodies is their business only. Objectors will point out various crimes and hazards stemming from drug use – these issues only exist because of black markets and would be significantly reduced or eliminated altogether with decriminalization. Personally, I have never once used a single illegal drug, but I will defend anyone else’s right to do so of their own volition.

There should be no National ID card:

The powers that be want to put the means in place to eventually be able to track and control our every move – would never happen on my watch. If it were up to me, I would eliminate the Social Security card too, and go back to the original means of identification which worked just fine: by name.

End “corporate welfare”. No government handouts to business:

I would not give another corporation a single taxpayer dime if my life depended on it. Modern governments seems to be primarily run “by the corporations, for the corporations”. This is called fascism, or corporatism. Governments should not have a single finger in business; if a business is failing, the invisible hand of the market will do its work. A new business or entrepreneur will come in, buy up the assets, and restructure them in a more useful way. This holds true even for “critical” sectors, such as banking (though there are issues there with the FDIC, but that’s a whole new issue).

End government barriers to international free trade:

Absolutely. What products the government restricts in order to “save jobs” for businesses, it restricts the citizen (generally, the “little guy”) from obtaining at better prices. Protectionism helps only the corporations by allowing them to artificially inflate prices, creating monopolies. Market competition, even with other countries, is what equalizes costs and spurs innovation. If an entrepreneur can undercut a foreign industry at a profit, he will do so; otherwise, the citizens are obtaining the product at market price, and the entrepreneur’s attention is best suited elsewhere.

Let people control their own retirement: privatize Social Security:

Government control of the individual’s affairs in any way, including finances, should be called what it is: the Nanny State. Most people can manage their own retirement on a custom basis and much more efficiently than the state as a collective, and if they choose to let it sit in a bank, that is their own prerogative. Besides, Social Security is a complete failure and is nothing more than a tax-and-spend slush fund.

Replace government welfare with private charity:

The government has no business forcing one citizen to pay for another against his will. Objectors will claim that without government welfare, the needy will go unhelped; however, they fail to recognize that everything the government does, it is said to do with the will of the people. This means that if it is the will of the people to give to the needy, they will do so whether or not they are forced, and if it is not their will, the government should not be doing it in the first place.

Cut taxes and government spending by 50% or more:

My ideal solution would be to cut government by 90% or more, but unfortunately this is probably impractical. I would like to go to a “Fair Tax” of 10% (if 10% is good enough for God, it’s good enough for me), end the wars and bring all troops around the world home, defund most executive departments/Cabinets, eliminate basically all unelected bureaucracies, repeal the majority of government regulations and legislation, and eventually privatize all welfare/charity. That is, return to Constitutional government – just for starters.

August 26

in defense of… Wal-Mart?

Okay, okay. So Wal-Mart doesn’t really need my defense. And to be honest, defending Wal-Mart doesn’t exactly give me butterflies. However, so often we are reminded of the evils of big corporations, and many times Wal-Mart is used as a prime example. Here’s why you’re wrong, Wal-Mart haters.

1. Wal-Mart uses foreign slave labor

We’ve all heard the horrible stories of people in foreign countries, including children, slaving away for peanuts. But on this issue, we must ask the question: is Wal-Mart forcing its workers to labor – be it long hours, or poor conditions, or low wages – at the point of a gun? Or are its workers choosing to continue their employment, whatever the terms may be, voluntarily? The truth is, these workers are voluntarily choosing to work these jobs because they are better than the alternative. The alternative may be even lower-paying jobs, even poorer conditions, even longer hours, or maybe even lack of employment altogether, leading to starvation.

2. Wal-Mart kills small business

When Wal-Mart infiltrates a new area, the trend seems to be that smaller “mom and pop” stores offering the same products are slowly run out of town because they can’t compete. There is a key phrase in that sentence: they can’t compete. Wal-Mart has found ways to offer its products cheaper, more efficiently, and more extensively. But if the people of that area truly care about small business, they always retain the strongest economic weapon: they can vote with their dollar. Many times communities will attempt to legislate against construction of a new Wal-Mart. Besides being blatantly un-Constitutional, this is among the highest forms of elitism, as it is a blatant snub against the voice of the people; that is, it is an attempt to say that a small group of people should overrule the voice (or the dollar) of the many.

3. Wal-Mart treats their employees badly

Okay, so, there is a laundry list of accusations against Wal-Mart and its treatment of employees. This includes:

  • Low Wages
  • Lack of Healthcare Benefit
  • The Dead Peasant Policy
  • Anti-Unionism
  • Gender Discrimination

As you can see, Wal-Mart is no Mother Teresa. So what is the resolution? See #1 and #2. The employees have willingly agreed to work there, and the patrons have willingly agreed to shop there. If you Google “anti-walmart legislation“, you will find millions of hits, covering numerous attempts to legislate against this thing or that thing that the evil Wal-Mart has (or has not) done. The fact is, corporations like Wal-Mart should not be dealt with by legislation; they should be dealt with by the market.

Again, all of these points can be applied to [pick your corporation]. One interesting/popular qualm is that Wal-Mart seems to be “above the law” sometimes. However, this is not so much a failure of Wal-Mart as it is a case of government nepotism (or at least government incompetence), curable by a heavy dose of voter enlightenment/understanding/responsibility, which in turn forces accountability.