Archive for June, 2012

Exploitation = Employment And Opportunity

Dave Killion — June 20, 2012

In this new video from Learn Liberty, Matt Zwolinski explains how sweatshops benefit the poor. It is difficult to cover a lot of ground in a five minute video, so Zwolinski provides extra material at the link. But wait, there’s more! Go here for Zwolinski’s response to some of the concerns voiced to him AFTER the video came out. A sample –

“In the developing world, factory jobs can be life-changing.

Now, as you say, no one really comes out and advocates that we just take those jobs away full stop. But they do advocate policies that have the effect of taking those jobs away.”

“Sweatshops, or the MNEs that contract with them,might be able to afford higher wages or better working conditions… But what they can afford to do is less important than what they will do. And very often, sweatshops and the MNEs that contract with them respond to consumer pressure by shutting down, automating production, or moving elsewhere. And that hurts people who can ill-afford to be hurt.”

Zwolinski makes a good case for avoiding policy that is intended to help, but harms instead. Please help him spread the word.

Via Carpe Diem

The Politics of Obedience

Antony — June 19, 2012

Book Review: The Politics of Obedience – The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, by Etienne de la Boetie

Over the weekend I read the political essay The Politics of Obedience – Discourses on Voluntary Servitude, written by Etienne de la Boetie in the 1550s while he was studying at law school. It is a fairly short book – only 80 pages, about 40 of which are taken up by a forward by Murray Rothbard.

The question that de la Boetie explores is how rulers are able to have power over their subjects. What is it that allows rulers, who are outnumbered and outgunned by their subjects, to control vast numbers of people? Why do armed defence and security forces submit to the authority of the ruler? Particularly in the case of unpopular tyrants, this is not obvious.

These are the same questions explored by Machiavelli, but whereas Machiavelli sought exploit this knowledge to help “the prince” maintain power, de la Boetie has the opposite goal. He seeks a way for people to unshackle themselves from tyrannical rulers.

The answer de la Boetie comes to is that power flows from the bottom up. The ruler does not have power due to superior strength or intelligence, but due to the obedience of those he rules over. Obedience is the source of his power. Essentially, this means that the subservience of the populace is voluntary, if they simply withdraw their consent, they will be free.

Of course, the specifics of how this can be done are slightly more complicated. After years, even generations, of subjugation, the people may forget the blessings of liberty. The ruler will also use various devices and tricks to fool the people and buy their loyalty. He will also surround himself with layers of lesser tyrants share in the spoils of his rule. But all of his subjects ultimately suffer under his rule, and if they come to realise this, the tyrant will lose his power. This means that ideas and education are the primary and most powerful weapons in the fight against tyranny.

This work is significant for libertarians not so much because of any theoretical insights, but because it points a possible path to achieve the goal of a free society. It is about strategy, how to get from “here” to “there”. It is a peaceful strategy that is completely compatible with the non-aggression principle. All we need to do is to remove our consent, and we can be free.

Just Because I’m Sharing Doesn’t Mean I Agree

Dave Killion — June 18, 2012

When I buy things from the places which give me the best value, I am helping MY family pay a mortgage, put food on the table, and pay for dance lessons, team jerseys, and college tuition for MY children. I don’t see why I should be so full of envy and hate for the CEO who helped make that possible that I would sacrifice the well-being of my own family for the benefit of some family that owns a mom-and-pop business, just to insure said CEO can’t afford a third vacation home.

Proposing the Wrong Solution

Dave Killion — June 17, 2012

I have, once or twice, explained how those who promote various forms of amalgamation for the thirteen municipalities which govern Victoria both misdiagnose the illness AND prescribe the wrong cure. Judging by a recent post at Victoria Vision, they still haven’t see the light

“Our OCPs(Official Community Plans) in the region are not as good as they could be because they plan for the arbitrary borders that exist and not for the communities that really do exist.     We have neighbourhoods split up by the planning process and not being allowed to holistically work as a single community.

The OCP process is also very exclusionary.  Just because someone lives on one side of the street their opinion on the other side of the street does not get counted as an equal voice.   It is also  exclusionary  because there are so many planning processes.   There is no way anyone can keep on top of any of them.  It also means the media does not pay attention to them either.  We end up with much less input and from a narrow segment of the city’s population.

We need amalgamation simply so that we can plan properly for the whole city.”

But the problem isn’t that there are 13 OCPs when there should be just two or three, it’s that there are 13 OCPs when there should be none! Centralizing plans cannot work because central planners cannot acquire and evaluate all the knowledge they require in order to undertake such a task successfully. To think otherwise is to fall victim to what Friedrich Hayek called ‘The Fatal Conceit‘. The solution to what ails Greater Victoria (and most every other city) is to strip all coercive governance down to its core functions as quickly as possible, and privatize those core functions to the greatest degree possible. Any things else is just an exchange of one set of problems for another.

There IS an ‘I’ in ‘Team’

Dave Killion — June 16, 2012

Of course, 'I' is also in 'The Libertarian Book Club'. 'U' should be, too!

85% Off is a Good Deal

Dave Killion — June 14, 2012

I bet they would accept payment in chickens, too.


Many times I come across arguments against health care privatization in which one is advised to ‘just look at the US!’ The fact is, though, rather than being a free-market system, American health care and health insurance provision is regulated to within an inch of its life. Comparing the US and Canadian systems has only served to strengthen my conviction that, other than enforcing prohibitions against the use of force and fraud, government should withdraw from every aspect of the health care market. This graphic (courtesy of the LA Times) gives us some inkling of the tremendous savings that may become available once the state is no longer interjecting itself between the health care consumer and the health care provider.

Via Carpe Diem

1,000 words

Dave Killion — June 11, 2012


You want to know something else interesting? Public schools and prisons have more in common than just buses.

Entrepreneurial Genius

Dave Killion — June 9, 2012


I didn’t know this! Did you know this? Well, if you didn’t, you do now, and all thanks to the blog of the Libertarian Book Club! Tell your friends.

Quote of the Day

Dave Killion — June 8, 2012

“The debate over ObamaCare is not between people who care and people who don’t care. It is between people who know how to help the sick, and those who don’t.”

Michael F.Cannon, “Why ObamaCare Won’t Help the Sick

Variations on this theme are appropriate in every area where libertarians advocate voluntarism and cooperation, rather than one-size-fits-all government coercion.

Anybody’s Money, Really

Dave Killion — June 7, 2012