Archive for Libertarianism

Surprised By Mencken

Dave Killion — February 6, 2013

 

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The Victoria LBC is currently reading ‘A Mencken Chresomathy‘, a title we were very excited to select. Mencken is frequently quoted by libertarian scholars, particularly concerning his contempt for democracy, government, and politicians, and I had come to see him as dependably libertarian. Imagine my horror to read this –

“Few professional criminals are able to withstand a really brisk third degree. They may hold out long enough to be somewhat severely mauled, but by the time the ceiling begins to show bloodstains and their bones begin to crack they are eager to betray their friends and get to hospital. Many a time such a session in camera has yielded enough evidence to fill the death-house. Thus, while the third degree is clearly illegal, it is justified by the national pragmatism, for it undoubtedly works.”

This quote can be found about  1/5 the way into the book, and is so at odds with everything that comes before or goes after that I can scarcely believe it comes from the same man. I suppose I’m all the better for having seen it, though. The shock alone reminds me of the foolishness of hero-worship, against which I aim to be more vigilant.

 

A ‘Free State Project” For Canada

Dave Killion — February 4, 2013

Free Province

The Free State Project (FSP) is an effort designed to recruit libertarians to move to New Hampshire. Participants agree to move to the state within five years after a total of 20,000 people have pledged to do so, with the intent of creating an environment in which libertarian practices can flourish. Membership has grown slowly, and at the current rate of growth will not meet its goal until 2020. However, New Hampshire already has over 1,000 Free Staters comprised of existing residents and ‘early movers’, enough of whom are sufficiently active and effective that State Representative Cynthia Chase (D) has already labeled them “…the single biggest threat the state is facing…” .  It’s a shame the immigration laws make it difficult for Canadians to participate, but those confined to the Great White North may have a made-in-Canada alternative.

Introducing, the Free Province Project. Currently nothing more than a Facebook community, the FPP seeks to cluster Canadian libertarians in Prince Edward Island. Although there is no pledge system yet in place, I note that PEI has 1/10 the population of New Hampshire, suggesting that a mere 2,000 pledges should be sufficient to trigger the migration. Furthermore, having another libertarian enclave geographically close to New Hampshire could improve the climate for a greater north-east secession movement!

Unfortunately, PEI is a somewhat more hostile environment than New Hampshire in terms of employment opportunities, existing liberties, tax rates, and more. Still, that shouldn’t stop someone from picking up the ball and advancing it down the field. Could this be a job for the Charlottetown Libertarian Book Club? Stay tuned!

 

The Appropriate Answer

Dave Killion — February 3, 2013

“There is no such thing as unregulated businesses. They are either regulated ineffectively by the state, or they are regulated effectively by the market.”

It is widely held that in the absence of state regulation, business could get away with endangering it’s customers and employees, selling shoddy goods, and destroying the environment. Market forces do not permit any of that to happen to any significant degree.

And Most Of Them Would Be Right

Dave Killion — January 30, 2013

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What would this graph look like if it considered libertarians only?

I imagine you’d have a flat, horizontal line, not too far from the top – yet every libertarian would still say, “I could fix the whole damn system if they’d listen to me.”

Source

 

The One True Path

Dave Killion — January 29, 2013

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The Libertarian Duality Symbol

Several libertarian scholars (such as The Cato Institute’s James Dorn) have made the case that Taoism is a philosophy supportive of libertarian values. Having read the Tao Te Ching a few times, I have to agree. For example –

“Colors blind the eye.
Sounds deafen the ear.
Flavors numb the taste.
Thoughts weaken the mind.
Desires wither the heart.”

Hmmm. Well, maybe something got lost in translation, or perhaps this passage doesn’t make sense when taken out of context. But there are portions where the connection is decidedly clearer –

“The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
the less self-reliant people will be.”

In all honesty, the Tao Te Ching has far more passages like the first example than the second. But the unmistakeable message of the second example suggest that there may be truth and wisdom to be gathered from the more obscure portions. If you are interested in studying The Way, you can begin your journey here.

An Exciting Development

Dave Killion — January 24, 2013

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For some time now, I have been posting Libertarian Book Club ads in UsedEverywhere.com all across Canada. Recently, I received a response from a woman in Sault Ste. Marie, asking when and where we meet. After explaining that there was no club in her area, I asked if she was interested in helping to grow one. She said yes! Since then, she has placed ads in Craigslist, Kijiji, and a couple other sites. I am confident that, given time, this fledgling group will grow and flourish. If you live in the area, or know someone who does, please help out and promote the group. Who knows… perhaps one day the Libertarian Book Club will be the pre-eminent libertarian organization in Canada!

We’re Very Good-Looking, Too.

Dave Killion — January 12, 2013

Over at the Murph Report, some news about those people whose IQs comprise the top 0.01% –

“It has been found they are what has been deemed “Ultra-Free Marketeer Libertarians.” They are for privatizing everything pretty much outside of the Courts, Cops, and The Military a consistent Minarchism stance. In fact, some of them are not fans of taxation period either. While none of them are complete Anarchocapitalists they fit the Minarchist definition pretty accurately. Who would have thought I would be amongst the brightest in my outlook on the political/economical world. However, there is more to this story than just a homage to anti-statism it also includes a homage to skepticism and atheism.” 

Looking at the survey itself, I notice the intellectual elite are more statist than the average when it comes to subsidizing basic scientific research, medical research, federal spending on environmental protection, health care and drugs for the poor and elderly, and campaign financing. In addition, they endorse an increase in the use of the death penalty. The remaining responses are quite libertarian, and I can’t explain this inconsistency. It would seem that even the super-geniuses of this world have something to learn from libertarians.

Hat tip: SodaHead

Building Better Beggars

Dave Killion — January 7, 2013

Further to yesterday’s post, I recalled that there is an argument in favour of municipal amalgamation that I have yet to address, and which would likely apply to any proposed Maritime Union. It is this: an amalgamated Victoria (and a Unified Maritimes) may have more influence on higher levels of government.

This position is not without merit. When the City of Victoria petitions the Federal or Provincial governments over funding for things such as infrastructure maintenance, the petition can be denied at the risk of alienating only the voters in one small municipality, rather than the whole region. But does that benefit outweigh the substantial losses that will occur after local (or provincial) governments are shielded from competing with each other? I don’t know. I can, however, say this with confidence; when your best argument for the change you propose is that it will make you a better supplicant, you will not get any libertarians behind you.

If I’m Not With You, Does That Mean I’m Against You?

Dave Killion — January 1, 2013

During the 2012 U.S. presidential election, voters were faced with a number of measures at the state level, and in some cases they voted in a way that met with the approval of most libertarians . In Colorado and Washington, marijuana is (to some degree) legal for users. Maryland is the first state in which the voters, rather than the judiciary, directed the government to license same-sex marriage. And in Michigan, public-sector unionism was dealt a tremendous blow by voters who put down a measure that would not only have permanently protected the entitlement to collective bargaining, but would also have prohibited Michigan from becoming a right-to-work state. Ironically, the defeat was so decisive that it emboldened legislators to propose right-to-work legislation, and Michigan is now one of 24 right-to-work states in the U.S.  So, is this a win for freedom? Well, maybe.

You see, nothing spurs libertarian infighting like success. Although the marijuana initiatives seem the least controversial, the fact is that marijuana is still going to be highly regulated. Licensing gay marriage ends state-based discrimination against homosexuals, but it does so by increasing the number of people gaining access to the public trough. And right-to-work legislation encroaches on freedom of contract. You better believe there have been plenty of libertarians lecturing other libertarians on just how UN-libertarian this all is. The lecturers, in turn, have been reprimanded for making the perfect become the enemy of the good, and for opposing reforms that they should be supporting. I don’t think that’s what they’ve been doing.

Just  because I’m not with you, doesn’t mean I’m against you. I don’t go around advocating for licensing of gay marriage, decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, or laws restricting the abilities of employers to dictate their terms of employment. I advocate for the complete withdrawal of the state from marriage, the complete legalization of all drugs, and the complete freedom of contract between workers and employers. But I don’t oppose the reforms. I simply didn’t promote them, and I don’t endorse them. I’m libertarian, and I don’t cheer for any level of slavery. But just between you and me, I’m happy to see the ball moved forward. Things aren’t good, but they are  better.

 

Libertarians Should Be Committed!

Dave Killion — December 30, 2012

Committed to making the world a better place, that is. And what better way to demonstrate that commitment than by re-visiting last New Year’s resolutions, and then making some more new ones! Join me –

Last year I pledged to acquire some skill that is in demand ( or could be in demand) on the black market. Now, as it happens, I am already a journeyman carpenter, and it is well known that there is a substantial underground economy in the construction field. But in addition, I have taken up beer brewing and learned about distilling. I even have a distiller under construction (which is perfectly legal… it is the distillation of spirits that puts one on the wrong side of the state). I also said that I  might try and shed some weight, and I do believe that I’m down about 3 or 4 pounds. So all in all, good job Dave!

I also suggested that those of you without firearms resolve to take the steps needed to acquire them. I am very pleased to write that this year, a few of the Victoria Libertarian Book Club members took the courses for their licenses, and one of them has even picked up a nice, economical SKS rifle (currently available across Canada for $180 – $200). More of my immediate family have obtained their licenses, and we have acquired at least one firearm for each member of our household. The next step is to insure that everyone knows how to use each of them.

For this year, I have resolved to increase my donations to worthy causes. Beginning January 1st, I will donate $50 each month to some individual or institution working to defend liberty. The first donation will go to Reason.com.

In addition, I resolve to spend $50 each month on ammunition, with the goal of building a stock of 1000 rounds in each calibre for the firearms I have. Just in case.

Whatever you resolve (if anything), I wish you success, plus a year full of peace, prosperity, and happiness.