Why Has Identity Politics Become So Prevalent?

By every measurable standard, the world is improving for its inhabitants. With less war, disease, and famine, over 7 billion humans can survive on a planet using less land for agriculture while producing more. There has never been a safer time to be alive in human history.

So why do we feel like everything is terrible?

It’s due to a concerted effort from demagogues within colleges, media, and politics to make us think things are terrible to create multiple crises. It is easier to control a population when that population is emotional and angry.

“Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to dictatorship.” – Noam Chomsky

Why does the left focus on identity politics (and now the Trump wing of the right)?

Given the stability of the world, there aren’t egregious, large-scale societal issues of poverty, injustice, and government oppression in America. I’m not arguing that all of our problems are solved because there are still many societal imbalances in our economy and criminal justice system. They aren’t as apparent as zero registered African-American voters in all of Mississippi or substantial portions of Americans not having access to power and sewage as in the 1950s.

In the absence of evident crises, radicals must create discord to provoke society into action. Take this quote from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals (Alinsky was a 1960’s political figure that worked for the mob and decided to translate their tactics to modern politics. Hillary Clinton wrote her senior thesis on his ideas):

“Men don’t like to step abruptly out of the security of familiar experience; they need a bridge to cross from their own experience to a new way. A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives agitate, create disenchantment and discontent with the current values, to produce, if not a passion for change, at least a passive, affirmative, non-challenging climate.”

In other words, manipulate people through propaganda and political action to make regular people believe things are terrible, so they will try to solve the problems you’ve made up by giving you control over their lives. If they don’t become an ally, then ensure they can’t or won’t speak up and oppose you. For more on those tactics, click here.

There are very real imbalances in our society for women and minorities. These realities have been exploited by political opportunists on both sides to galvanize their base and create an “us vs. them” mentality. Instead of using language that brings together the multiple parties to solve an issue like gun violence or the unjust warehousing of the poor under the guise of the drug war, thought leaders at media outlets, think tanks, advocacy groups, political organizations, and universities do what demagogues have done for the whole of human history: protect their interests by dividing the population in an effort to maintain power.

Those biased towards the left must do a better job of examining their language, and the effect that weaponizing intersectionality has had on America.

Those biased more towards the right have to avoid reactionary behavior and turning away from real problems just because they “feel leftist.”

The good news is that while individual humans continue to be their own worst enemy, the expansion of liberty and free markets has allowed the species as a whole to live better lives. We should start getting out of our way and work together to avoid feeling miserable when there’s little reason for it.

Open Speech is Essential To Correcting the Bad Behavior of Alex Jones

First they came for the Foreign Trolls, Now they Come for the Domestic Trolls

Chris Spangle

The deplatforming of Alex Jones has me fired up. Why? I was 18 when 9-11, and I then became active in politics. I lived through the lead up to the Iraq War where I saw, and participated in, the silencing of anti-war activists. They were right, I was wrong, and a million people died.

I’ve watched the media and the 2-party political apparatus create propaganda out of false information which is then used to marginalize, criminalize, and kill American citizens. Once the citizenry was behind the “patriotic” and “right” things as a result of major media and political newspeak, the government implemented policies that range from subtle conditioning (TSA) to the destruction of the fourth amendment (Prism).

Jeff Sessions vs Legal Marijuana: Here’s Why Sessions Will Lose

In the face of overwhelming opposition, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has doubled down on the War on Drugs.  Specifically, the War on legal marijuana. He announced last week that the federal government is going to start enforcing federal marijuana laws again in states that have legalized marijuana.

At first glance, this looks like a major step backwards on the road to ending the government practice of invading private property, kidnapping non-violent people, stealing their money and valuables, and then locking them in cages for the “crime” of possessing a plant unapproved of by the federal government.

This will backfire on the Sessions and his drug warrior cronies, however.  In fact, this may be the spark that ignites the flame of legal marijuana across the entire Unites States.

The Best Way to Get Rid of a Bad Law

Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.”

His point is that if an unjust law is enforced sporadically, or unevenly throughout a population, it is likely to stay on the books forever.  It can then become a tool for law enforcement and corrupt politicians to use against specific enemies or groups.  If only some of the population is made to suffer the indignities of an unjust law, the rest of the population isn’t likely to force a change since it doesn’t concern them personally.

However, once an entire population is forced to endure the unjust law, they will quickly rise up and force its repeal.

The backlash that the Trump administration will get for strictly enforcing federal marijuana laws in legal marijuana states will quickly lead to a reversal on this new policy.

The Legal Marijuana Revolution

Today, over half of the population lives in a state with some form of legal marijuana.  Every election cycle more states are legalizing it.  This is a tidal wave that can not be stopped.  People are realizing that letting individuals consume a plant that has countless medical applications, and is impossible to overdose on, isn’t as scary as the fear-mongers led us to believe it would be.  State governments are also realizing that the extra tax revenue gives them more power and money.

Now that individuals, particularly sick and dying individuals, are seeing the benefits of legal marijuana, it’s going to be that much harder to convince them to go back to the old ways.  Same goes for state governments that are flush with a new source of revenue in the form of marijuana taxes.

In fact, even before one soul has been sent to federal prison under this new policy, states are already fighting back.  Vermont just became the first state to pass a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.  Republican Governor Phil Scott has indicated he will sign the measure into law.

Imagine what will happen when a cancer patient is sent to prison in a state where they are legally allowed to consume marijuana.  Even if Sessions and his marijuana Gestapo are smart enough to leave sick and dying individuals alone, they are sure to shut down dispensaries where sick and dying patients get their medicine from, thus causing huge backlash.

If Sessions wants to keep marijuana illegal, the last thing he should be doing is going after sick and dying patients and the dispensaries that supply them their much needed medication.

State’s Rights

They’re not just for Republicans anymore!  Thanks to Sessions and his crusade against non-violent, consenting adults who are buying, selling, and consuming a plant without permission from the federal government, Democrats are actually making arguments in favor of State’s Rights!  This puts typically anti-pot Republicans in a difficult position.  Either go against State’s Rights or side with Democrats.  Either way they’re going to have backlash.

If their base sees them as siding with Democrats against Sessions, they may be viewed as weak.  If they side with Sessions against State’s Rights, they are potentially giving up a huge tool in any future fight against federal overreach in other areas.  With public opinion overwhelmingly in favor of legal marijuana, and with many prominent Republicans already criticizing Sessions, it looks like the State’s Rights argument will eventually defeat Sessions.

The Future of Legal Marijuana

In 2013, then President Obama released a memo saying he would no longer obstruct states that have legalized marijuana.  Up until then, the Obama administration had waged a war on legal marijuana that would make Jeff Sessions blush.  The Obama administration had conducted more raids on legal dispensaries than the previous 12 years combined.  Obama’s first term saw $100 billion more spend on interfering with legal marijuana laws than under 8 years of Bush.

The backlash from this caused Obama to cease this federal overreach in 2013.  If a President coming off a landslide victory for his 2nd term couldn’t get away with interfering with the legal marijuana industry, a widely despised Sessions working under an unpopular Trump administration has no chance.

Prominent leaders in both major parties are in favor of legalization and, more importantly, the population is ready for legal marijuana.  With an almost cartoonishly evil Sessions in charge of a renewed federal crusade against peaceful pot users, it won’t be long until this becomes a wedge issue.  In fact, with the level of hatred that already exists for Sessions, those of us on the side of not throwing non-violent people in cages for consuming a plant couldn’t ask for a better adversary.  We may even see more states following Vermont’s lead and legislating legalization sooner than they otherwise would have just to spite Sessions and his unpopular crusade.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

You may also like this from Mike Tront – Marijuana Can Be a Victory for Libertarians, Unless We Screw it Up

The Real Story of Collusion Emerges in the Mueller Investigation

A friend recently asked me to boil down the Russian-Trump investigations. What were the smoking guns? What had he supposedly done wrong? The truth is that no one has articulated clearly and accurately what Trump or his campaign had done wrong. I offered the following analysis:

Incredibly, the educated guess has become a reality due to leaks, likely from Republicans on various Congressional committees, which are exposing the seedy inner workings of the FBI and the special prosecutor’s investigation. One text, in particular, is a damning piece of evidence.

Ending Net Neutrality Will Bring Free Internet Access To The World

With the exception of the 2015 Net Neutrality ruling by the FCC, the Internet has largely been left alone by the most powerful government on the planet.  This “light touch” regulation has resulted in industry growth that is virtually unmatched in human history.  From AOL, to DSL modems, to fiber optic cable, to 3, 4, and 5G phones, to near ubiquitous Wi-Fi, delivering the Internet to the masses is a story of ever increasing options, exponentially better speeds, and decreasing prices.  The logical next step is worldwide Internet connection to everyone on the planet for free.  However, the 2015 Net Neutrality ruling may have empowered the largest government in the world to slow, and possibly stop, the inevitable future of free Internet access to the world.

How Is Free Internet Access Possible?

The idea of free or low cost Internet being broadcast to the world has been in development by several people and companies for years.  Internet giant Facebook has plans in the works.  Google has plans as well.  A little known company based in New York, called the Media Development Investment Fund, is attempting to throw their hat in the ring by creating something called the Outernet.  An alternative to the Internet that’ll broadcast for free all around the world from cube satellites circling the globe in low Earth orbit.

Perhaps of most interest to libertarians is Nexus Earth.  Nexus is a crypto currency that has teamed up with Vector Space Systems to launch cube satellites into low Earth orbit in order to broadcast their blockchain to the world for free.  The development team of Nexus sees this as a step towards a fully decentralized and free (meaning both no cost to the user and free from government censorship and control) Internet for the world.

Basically, all these organizations are attempting to beam connectivity down from the sky rather than using expensive infrastructure down on Earth.  As these sky-based technologies become cheaper, and as more and more competition enter this market, it’s just a matter of time before the price is driven down to zero for anyone, anywhere to access the Internet.

Current Problems

Like all advancing technologies, this will not go from 0-60 overnight.  There will be incremental advancements.  The current problem with connecting to the Internet from the sky is that it is extremely expensive to send access to the entire Internet this way.  Not only do you have to put hundreds of cube satellites in orbit to have a functioning and fast network, but you have to send data to these satellites from the ground.

Thankfully, launching these cube satellites is becoming cheaper and cheaper.  It’s building the means of sending Internet data to the cube satellites that is going to be one of the biggest (non-regulatory) stumbling blocks.  Until it becomes cost effective to access the entire Internet this way, companies are experimenting by only sending specific websites and applications directly to the user.

How Will Net Neutrality Stop Free Internet Access?

As we’ve heard over and over again, Net Neutrality is in place to prevent Internet Service Providers (ISP) from prioritizing data.  Under this regulation, your ISP can’t decide to block you from accessing a certain website and they can’t send data from one website at faster rate than another website.  The idea is to prevent censorship and to prevent an ISP from holding certain websites hostage unless they (or you) pay an extra fee.

I’m not going to get into these specific concerns here, as they’ve been addressed thoroughly elsewhere and this post is focusing on a different aspect of the debate.  But if you’re interested in hearing a quick, funny take down of these concerns you can check out Why John Oliver is Wrong about Net Neutrality by Andrew Heaton via Reason TV.

If the idea of Net Neutrality is to make sure all ISP’s give full access to all of the Internet, then free Internet beaming down from satellites will be almost impossible to develop.  Net Neutrality will effectively make it illegal for a company to beam free Internet down from satellites unless they can guarantee that the people receiving the Internet will get ALL of the Internet.  In fact, this has already happened.

Facebook has been attempting to beam free Internet to some of the poorest regions of the world.  Regions that have no access to the Internet.  They are doing this by using a combination of drones and satellites to beam down a limited number of useful websites.  They call it Free Basics.  So is Facebook being heralded as an important leader in bringing about much needed Internet access to the third world?

They are not.  According to this Guardian article, Facebook Lures Africa with Free Internet – But What is the Hidden Cost?, there is no shortage of outrage over Facebook not being able to connect the world’s poorest people to the entire Internet for free.  In fact, they aren’t even allowed to offer their Free Basics program in India.  From the article:

It is not the first time Facebook has faced challenges to its initiative. In India, Free Basics was effectively banned after a groundswell of support for net neutrality – a principle affirming that what you look at, who you talk to and what you read is ultimately determined by you, not a business.

That’s right.  Net Neutrality was used by the Indian government as an excuse to stop their people from accessing free Internet services.

Later in the article, this tidbit also stood out:

In April, Reuters revealed that Free Basics had been blocked by Egypt’s increasingly oppressive government after Facebook refused to let it snoop on users.

Imagine that, governments are pushing back against free Internet access because it’s harder to spy on you.

The Future of Free Internet Access

Currently, all major ISP’s support Net Neutrality.  Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon have all issued statements of support.  Yes, they do push back on some of the regulations they face from the FCC, but when it comes to delivering content to their customers, they all wholeheartedly support the idea that all ISP’s should be forced to deliver all of the Internet to their customers.  If I were them, I would too!

They know more than anyone that their business model will soon be obsolete.  It’s only a matter of time.  Who in their right mind would deal with these companies, and pay for their services, if they could get free Internet access from satellites?  It’s not just ISP’s who are scared.  You’d be hard-pressed to find any Internet giant that opposes Net Neutrality.  Again, I would support it too if I were in their shoes!

These businesses will be disrupted as well by free Internet access.  Companies could launch their own satellites and beam down their own service for streaming TV shows and movies.  Their customers wouldn’t need an ISP, they’ll just need a device that is Wi-Fi enabled.  Social media sites, email companies, shopping sites, anyone could do this.  And their customers wouldn’t be confined to any certain geographical region, either.  The entire world would have access to their sites without having to pay for an ISP first.

This is precisely what Nexus Earth, the crypto currency I mentioned earlier, is attempting to do with their blockchain. They have the ambitious plan of giving the entire world free access to their crypto currency.  No Internet connection required.  Just a Wi-Fi enabled device.

As more and more companies utilize this business model, innovation will happen quickly.  This will bring down costs and eventually the entire Internet will be accessible to the entire world for free.

Plenty of billionaires and billion-dollar companies stand to lose money and market share from such a truly free and open decentralized Internet.  It’s no wonder they all support Net Neutrality.  Think about it this way, when’s the last time a group of billionaires got together with the government to conspire to help you out at their personal expense?

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

A Failed Promise

A viewpoint on our increasing lack of statesmanship.

By John Bonanni

Newly elected presidents win elections by convincing voters of their opponent’s inability to avoid the mistakes of the previous administration. Inevitably, the victor creates their demise through the overexposure of a personal or political agenda; usually fostered by a congressional ambush of the opposing party. The self-assassination of Bill Clinton’s character
sidetracked his plan of prosperity for all and reset tolerances of moral relativity. George W. Bush’s candidacy was little more than a minor political blue blood riding on family gravitas with historical probitas. Barack Obama offered a passive standard of diplomacy and strategic leadership. All eventually failed the promise that has never been entirely kept since the country’s inception.

In 2008, we were at the threshold of the most significant opportunity for nation building since the American Civil War. Our discriminatory traditions that had evolved from reluctantly
freeing uneducated, labor-trafficked men and women of color to tolerating them as socially inferior, ineducable freeloaders continued its function in the form of economic discrimination.

We continued the traditional pattern of political yin and yang that had occurred since the country’s founding. From Edward Rutledge to Henry Clay to George Wallace—and there is a
basketful of biased politicos who fill the bill of racial complicity throughout our history—to today, race-based statesmanship had been a covert operative. It is not the failure of the political process. It is a persistent disregard for ethics, integrity, and human dignity.

The 20th-century remake of Abraham Lincoln, in the person of John F. Kennedy, redressed wounds that were assumed to have been healed by the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments one hundred years earlier. Progress was made, but racially biased entrenchment merely found new ways to function.

Somehow, the promise of tolerance and inclusion in the Obama Administration produced another racial equality revival. What could have been a correction of racial modus operandi erupted into a seizure of miscalculations and false patronizations; resulting in a political upset that produced the present near-constitutional crisis.

Democratic arrogance and dismissive self-righteousness in concert with Republican managerial ineptness and empathetic bankruptcy emboldened politically under-served voting blocks to deliver Donald Trump, a presidential entity who assumed the self-assassinating character of Clinton, the mismanagement of Bush, and the tenuous soapboxing of Obama into a predatory, reactionary, and dysfunctional sideshow of fright and oratorical floundering.

This new mix of presidential malfunction further damaged the dubious claim of American exceptionalism. From “Putting People First” (Clinton), “Compassionate Conservatism” (Bush), to “Yes We Can” (Obama), it seemed that no variation on the American exceptionalism theme in recent generations could achieve enough improvement to convince disenfranchised voters that change was working. America, apparently, needed to be made great again.

America is not unequivocally great. No country is. It has great ideas. We had tripped at the starting gate in 1776 by denying inalienable rights to an entire race of people, and inequality festered for generations to come in racial theatrics supported by both progressive and conservative agendas. How can a country claim exceptionalism as a clarion call when a fifth of its population had been dehumanized and considered property? Perhaps if we had addressed the accessibility of opportunity for all citizens, we might now be enjoying the pleasure of each other’s prosperity as a national pastime.

For generations, inert executive and entrenched legislative leadership have responded with obstructionism and preoccupied our energies with perfunctory grandstanding, bequeathing to us the civil unrest of our cities, the bankruptcy of our healthcare, the corruption of our processes. Did not these conditions of inequality demand the attention of the elected administration and the American public? Did we not dump excellent English tea for this misrepresentation? The pursuit of reconciliation through economic equality had been abandoned
once again.

So, we suffer still, not having completed the national purpose of self-determination. Democrats lure disenfranchised groups with proudly hailed social engineering programs that barely sustain a living environment. Republicans smugly shake off organizations they deem to be unworthy takers. Forever in debt and bereft of resources, these groups never gain access to building financial well being.

Our legislators bludgeon our economic stability, chalk up an astronomical national debt service, shackle tools of commerce and reduce educational institutions to reclusive safe spaces instead of centers of tolerance. This recurring depletion of statesmanship creates a congressional and social oligarchy and invites irreparable harm to democratic function. This time, with an administration filled with generals and independently wealthy individuals, our government resembles the largest, most powerful banana republic in history; which is the antithesis of a constitutional republic designed to empower every individual.

John spent a career in theatre management on tour, on Broadway, at Radio City Music Hall and many places in between managing every sensitive person he ever encountered. He now writes about them, among other things.

Stiglitz and Tocqueville on Freedom and Equality

By C.M. Hoy

Joseph E. Stiglitz, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics, is a professor of economics at Columbia University, and he is very concerned that there is far too much inequality of income in the United States. He believes that this inequality is the source of many problems in our country and that the government must take strong action to lower this disparity in income. He states his views in an article, “Inequality is Holding Back the Recovery,” and his book, The Price of Inequality. I am concerned by several aspects of his analysis and one aspect in particular as I will make clear in the ensuing paragraphs.

There is so much inequality in the U.S., that, says Stiglitz, “Tocqueville, who in the 1830s found the egalitarian impulse to be the essence of the American character, is rolling in his grave.” This remark is very misleading. Alexis de Tocqueville unequivocally indicated that equality was the wave of the future; however, he was not an egalitarian or a proponent of equality as this statement might lead you to believe. To conclude that Tocqueville was an egalitarian because he announced that egalitarianism was in our future, is like concluding that when Paul Revere shouted the British are coming, he was a supporter of the British invasion.

Tocqueville believes that liberty and equality do not mix and that equality could be inimical to liberty. He places liberty above equality.

Neither in his article nor his book does Stiglitz indicate that there is tension between equality and liberty. He misrepresents what the foremost problem for Tocqueville is, how to preserve individual freedom in an age of equality. For theorists other than Tocqueville, equality versus freedom is the major issue in the debate over equality. Stiglitz though appears to be ignorant of any literature contrasting equality and freedom. This is a major gap in his argument and knowledge. Since he cites Tocqueville as an authority, we will demonstrate that this authority is not a proponent of equality but liberty. This will set the record straight on Tocqueville and, perhaps, this will elevate the debate over inequality, to include a concern for liberty, which Tocqueville believes trumps equality.

Gita May, who has published widely on the French Enlightenment, states: “It was Tocqueville’s conviction that the particular quest for equality can only end up in servitude; that there is tension-and, not a concordance-between liberty and equality, and that egalitarianism can all too easily lead to the worst kind of tyranny… and can lead to questioning of the legitimacy of private property, this last bulwark of the individual against the state… He was keenly aware of the dangers presented to individual liberty.” Instead of referring to Tocqueville as an egalitarian, May instead refers to him “as a political libertarian.”

Tocqueville would unequivocally oppose the use of coercion to promote material equality.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. writes of Tocqueville that “The revolution of equality, he believed, was irresistible.” Schlesinger adds: “Tocqueville’s consuming passion was liberty; the challenge before a western man in his mind was to devise ways of securing liberty in the era of equality. He was vividly aware of the perils in the new dispensation. It was no simple thing to reconcile liberty and equality.”

Primrose Pratt Tisham tells us that “Tocqueville worried continuously that liberty was especially threatened in France where the passion for equality subsumed the desire for freedom.”

George Wilson Pierson describes Tocqueville as the “foreboding prophet of equality.”

These authors indicate that Tocqueville is not an egalitarian and they indicate that Tocqueville perceives a problem between equality and freedom, a problem that Stiglitz is either unaware of or simply ignores.

In the preface to the second volume of Democracy in America Tocqueville writes,” I believe that many persons would take it upon themselves to inform men of the benefits which they might hope to receive from the establishment of equality, while very few would venture to point out from afar the dangers which it would be attended. It is principally of these dangers, therefore, that I directed my gaze; and, believing that I had discerned what they are, it would have been cowardice to say nothing about them.”

In book 2, chapter 1, Tocqueville says, “that political freedom in its excesses may compromise the tranquility, the property, the lives of individuals are obvious even to narrow and unthinking minds. On the contrary, none but attentive and clear-sighted men perceive the perils with which equality threatens us, and they commonly avoid pointing them out. They know that the calamities they apprehend are remote and flatter themselves that they will only fall upon future generations, for which the present generation takes but little thought. The evils that freedom sometimes brings with it are immediate; they are apparent to all, and all are more or less affected by them. The evils that extreme equality may produce are slowly disclosed; they creep gradually into the social frame; they are seen only in intervals; and at the moment at which they become the most violent, habit already causes them to be no longer felt.”

Tocqueville further says, “I think that Democratic communities have a natural taste for freedom; left to themselves, they will seek it, cherish it, and view any privation of it with regret. But for equality their passion is ardent, insatiable, incessant, and invincible; they call for equality in freedom; if they cannot obtain that, they still call for equality in slavery.”

Please note that for Tocqueville equality and slavery are not mutually exclusive.

In book 2 chapter 4, he says, “but I contend that to combat the evils which equality may produce, there is only one effectual remedy: namely, political freedom.”

In book 4 chapter 1 he says: “I am convinced however that anarchy is not the principle of evil that democratic ages have to fear, but the least. For the principle of equality begets two tendencies: the one leads men straight to independence and may suddenly drive them into anarchy the other conducts them by a longer, more secret, more certain road to servitude. Nations readily discern the former tendency and are prepared to resist it; they are led away by the latter without receiving its drift hence it is peculiarly important to point it out.”

In a note in Tocqueville’s diary titled “My Instincts, My Opinions,” he writes “Liberty is the first of my passions. That is the plain truth.”

Obviously, equality is not his prime mover.

In Tocqueville’s Essay on American Government and Religion, he states: “we are ourselves going, my dear friend, toward a democratie [an equality] without limits. I do not say that it is a good thing…”

What would truly make Tocqueville roll over in his grave is someone representing him as a votary of egalitarianism rather than liberty.

In addition to Tocqueville, last century, there were at least four major writers who critically examined the relationship between equality (equality of condition or outcome) and concluded that liberty and equality were often in conflict with each other. And they came down on the side of liberty. The four that I have in mind is the sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf, the philosopher Robert Nozick, and the economists F. A. Hayek, and Milton Friedman.

In his book and his article, Stiglitz never so much as mentions the first three authors though he does discuss Friedman. However, his discussion of Friedman is rather odd. Though Friedman has written on the issues of equality, inequality, and individual liberty, Stiglitz never discusses Friedman’s ideas on these issues. Though the subject of Stiglitz book and article ostensibly is equality and inequality, he ignores Friedman’s treatment of these issues and wandering far afield, rather criticizes Friedman for not recognizing the imperfections of markets, such as asymmetric information, externalities, and public goods. He also criticizes Friedman’s view of the cause of the Great Depression. He is offended that Friedman argues that government was the cause of the Great Depression. He criticizes Friedman on many grounds but never discusses Friedman’s argument on the central topic of his (Stiglitz’s) book and article, on which Friedman has written so profoundly.

Browsing through the index to his book, neither the word liberty or freedom is ever mentioned. The lack of any discussion of the dilemma between liberty and equality is a major shortcoming of any discussion of equality of outcome, and it is thus a major shortcoming in Stiglitz as well.

By ignoring the incisive writings of Dahrendorf, Nozick, Hayek, Friedman, and Tocqueville, on the relationship between freedom and egalitarianism, Stiglitz provides an astonishingly shallow analysis.

In addition to the main problem in Stiglitz’s analysis, the complete absence of any discussion of the effects of egalitarianism on liberty, there are three other aspects of his analysis that we will briefly note.

In The Price of Inequality, he refers to “the alleged inequality- inefficiency trade-off, ” and he says that it “may not exist.” This trade-off shows, if true, that inequality is conducive to greater output and greater productivity than is equality. Though here he seems to think that the trade-off does not exist, in his textbook, Economics, he refers to an “incentive – equality trade-off, ” and he draws a graph with equality on the vertical axis and output on the horizontal axis showing that as equality increases output decreases. He says, “One of the basic questions facing members of society in their choice of tax rates and welfare systems is, how much would incentives be diminished by an increase in tax rates to finance a better welfare system and thus reduce inequality? What would be the results of those reduced incentives?”

No wonder there is an “alleged inequality-inefficiency trade-off.” Professor Stiglitz has been teaching it to generations of economics students.

Again, in The Price of Inequality, Stiglitz indicates that unions are essential for increasing wages in general and lessening inequality. But this is not what he is teaching economic students in his textbook. In Economics, he shows that as unions raise the wages of some workers “firms will employ fewer workers.” Even union employees that benefit in the short run could lose in the long run as employers do not replace the expiring capital and “jobs decrease.” Also, the unions gain pay increases for some workers by “the reduced employment of workers in the unionized sector” increasing “the supply of labor in the nonunionized sector, driving down wages there.” And finally, “the higher wages [of unionized workers] may well be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.”

Higher prices, increased unemployment in the union sector, and lower wages in the nonunionized sector do not seem likely to lower inequality, and they most certainly will not improve living conditions. There is a significant discrepancy between what Stiglitz teaches economic students and what he teaches the general public.

Finally, and again wandering rather far afield from his topic, Stiglitz is upset that industries such as the airlines have been deregulated. It appears that he would like to reregulate these industries. And he believes that further government regulations are in the general interest.

However, perhaps we should proceed cautiously. Additional regulations could prove onerous to producers, and this might concern Stiglitz. For example, the government might force authors to recall their defective products from the market. As the adage goes, be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.

“I have a PhD from Columbia University. I am a Professor of Economics at the County College of Morris in New Jersey. I have written many articles on individual freedom in regard to speech, equality, and the marketplace. I am the author of A Philosophy Of Individual Freedom: The Political Thought of F. A. Hayek published by Greenwood Press.” – C.M. Hoy

Prisons Without The State

Even in a stateless world based on the libertarian ideals of self-ownership and private property, prisons may be a necessary evil.  I’ve written many posts based on how criminal justice could look in such a world, all of which I’ll link to at the bottom of this post, but I’ve never dealt directly with prisons.  I put a few ideas in some of those posts, but this post will serve as a stand alone post dealing solely with how prisons could look without a government monopoly and funding through taxation.

What Prisons Won’t Look Like

In a stateless society, prisons would look nothing like they do today.  Even though there are “private” prisons in America, they aren’t private in any sense of the word.  They are completely funded by government and are completely tied to the government court system.  They have all the privileges of a government enforced monopoly.

Without a government to fund prisons, public or “private,” one would imagine that they couldn’t exist at all.  It would be impossible for the current business model of warehousing criminals in giant concrete buildings, for years on end, to exist without forcing people to pay for it.

With that in mind, we need to imagine a model where the prison would fund itself.  Most prisons would most likely be funded voluntarily by the prisoners themselves.

Voluntary Prisons

Before I go into the concept of voluntary prisons, first I have to answer the question of “Who the hell would voluntarily go to prison?!”

Let’s say we have a person that is found guilty of a violent crime and is found to owe $20,000 for restitution, court costs, and costs of capture.  Presumably, this criminal is broke so he won’t be able to pay it back.  The criminal, because of his own violent actions, would have no right to object to the victim from using force to acquire this restitution.  Basically, the criminal is at the mercy of his victim.  Even though the victim would be obligated to use the least amount of force necessary to acquire this restitution, it would probably be in the benefit of the criminal to negotiate favorable terms in paying back what is owed.

Possibly, if the debt is small enough and the criminal seems trustworthy enough (maybe he’s a teenager who is on track to have a productive life, but just made one mistake hanging with the wrong crowd), both sides might just agree to let the criminal go free so long as he agrees to pay a monthly payment until his debt is gone.

More than likely, this won’t be the case.  We can assume that the criminal would want to pay back his debt as soon as possible in order to be free.  We can also assume the criminal wants to be as safe and comfortable as possible while paying off this debt.  So why wouldn’t both sides work together in order to find a solution?  Based on whatever skills the criminal may have, there could be many competing prisons that would utilize his labor to pay for keeping him locked up, while at the same time paying off the debt the criminal owes.

Some prisons may even offer programs to teach new skills to prisoners.  This would attract more prisoners, allow the prison to make more profit, and allow the prisoner to pay off his debt sooner.  This has the added benefit of giving the prisoner a new skill he could utilize to make a living once he’s free.

Prisons would also compete based on safety and comfort.  The victim may not care much about this, but if the goal is to get restitution back as soon as possible, and get it back in a way that would involve little or no extra force (which could become costly and dangerous for all sides involved,) there would have to be some incentives for the criminal to want to voluntarily agree to go to a prison.

Will it always go down this easy?  Of course not!  Some criminals may agree to go to voluntary prisons, only to refuse to work or even purposely sabotage their work.  Others simply won’t agree to work to pay back their victims.  Violent criminals are often irrational or just downright evil.  They have no concern for their own safety, their own life, or the lives of the people they hurt.  How will they be dealt with?

Involuntary Prisons

When considering how a prison full of people who have no desire to work off their debt will be funded, the first thought that comes to mind is some kind of forced labor system.  However, I’m not convinced that such a system could be profitable.

We’re talking about the most violent and deranged people on the planet here.  If they are forced to work in some kind of factory, they would have access to any number of objects that could be used as deadly weapons against their captors.  The costs of constantly monitoring, housing, and generally keeping such a business going would far out way the benefits of free labor.

The same goes for any kind of agricultural based forced labor camp.  The costs of keeping these prisoners working and overseeing their every move would be astronomical compared to simply hiring some migrant workers who show up voluntarily, accept meager wages, and go on about their way.

Plus, the idea of forcing someone into slavery, no matter how evil his deeds, is something that people would widely view as wrong.  This could lead to people refusing to do business with forced labor prisons, thus making them even more unprofitable.

With forced labor out of the question, what options do we have left?

One way is charity.  There’s not many people alive who wouldn’t want the most deranged and evil people removed from their world.  With this overwhelming demand to see violent people locked away, we can imagine the market satisfying this demand with prisons funded through charity.  The bulk of this charity would probably come from businesses and individuals who benefit most from seeing violent people locked away somewhere.  Insurance companies and security companies immediately come to mind.

Another way for an involuntary prison to turn a profit without forced labor is by turning it into some kind of tourist attraction.  There is an almost endless fascination the general public has with evil people.  TV shows, movies, and documentaries are made every year showcasing crimes and the people who commit them.  Perhaps there could be a demand for some kind of tourist attraction called “Violent Criminal World.”

You could pay to see the worst of the worst up close and personal.

Another somewhat related idea is for an involuntary prison to have its own reality TV show.  They could produce and sell there own show based on the everyday happenings of the prison.  There could even be a market for people to pay for access to a 24/7 live stream of every camera in the prison.

A percentage of the profits from these ventures could then be dispersed out to the victims of the criminals locked up.

These are just a few ideas.  The beauty of a free market system is that absent of a government forced monopoly, there’s no limit to what entrepreneurs will come up with.  In order to meet the significant demand to keep violent criminals away from non-violent people, we can expect a plethora of options available to the victims of violent criminals.

Quick Overview of a Private Criminal Justice System

For an in depth overview of these topics, I’ll link to the individual posts below.  But I’ll try to give a quick summary of what would occur after a crime has taken place in a stateless society.

So you’re a victim of a violent crime.  A criminal broke into your house, stole valuables, and injured you in the process.  Perhaps they hit you several times and tied you up.  In a free market, we could get insurance that not only covers our property, but covers our body as well.  You can then file a claim with your insurance company for all damages resulting from this crime.

When the insurance company pays your claim, they’ve now bought the right to go after this criminal and recover the damages.  They are now incentivized to solve this crime and apprehend this criminal in order to recoup their losses.  Most likely, they would offer a bounty to anyone who can put enough evidence together in order to secure a conviction in a court that is widely viewed as reputable.

If and when they are able to apprehend the criminal and get enough evidence to secure a conviction, they could then negotiate with the criminal on the best way for him to pay back all the damages, court costs, and costs of capture.

If the criminal is willing, they could agree to a voluntary prison stay until the debt is paid.  If the prisoner is unwilling to negotiate or work, then they could go the involuntary prison route.  Perhaps the involuntary prison company could just pay the insurance company a one time, upfront fee for the right to have the prisoner in their custody.  Or more likely, they’d probably agree to pay a percentage of profits to have him in their prison until the debt is paid.

With competition for prisoners, the invisible hand of the market would steer the outcome toward maximum benefit of all parties, including the criminal.  This would insure that restitution would be paid back as quickly as possible and that prisoners wouldn’t be locked up for longer than they would have to be.  Only the truly heinous criminals would rack up enough damages to be locked away for life.  Other criminals, by working off their debt and possibly learning new skills in the process, would have an opportunity at true rehabilitation.

As always, we can never know exactly how things will shake out after the government monopoly is finally dissolved.  There will never be a perfect system.  Even in a stateless system there can be no guarantee that all criminals will be brought to justice.  There can be no guarantee that there will never be an innocent person locked up.  However, without a monopoly of powerful people in charge, any mistake or corrupt actor at any level of the criminal justice system will not have immunity from prosecution as the prosecutors, judges, politicians, and police officers enjoy today.  This alone will ensure much fairer and equitable results.  That along with unfettered competition will give us the most just and fair system mankind has ever seen.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

For further reading on Criminal Justice without the State from Mike Tront:

7/20/2016 – A Private Criminal Justice System

7/29/2016 – Capital Punishment In a Libertarian Justice System

8/11/2016 – Crime Solving, Libertarian Style

1/27/2017 – But Without Government, Who Will Prosecute Criminals That Hurt The Poor?

2/03/2017 – Private Criminal Justice:  Who Will Protect The Homeless?

8/03/2017 – Libertarian Courts In a Stateless Society

Libertarians Can Solve The Abortion Issue With Evictionism

Abortion doesn’t just divide the left and right in America, it divides libertarians as well.  Libertarian economist Walter Block has come up with a solution called “evictionism” in an attempt to bring both sides together and to allow everyone’s rights to be respected.

What Is Evictionism

Block says that an unborn child, from the point of conception, is a human being with all the rights that any innocent human being has.  Block also says that a pregnant woman owns her body and her womb, and has every right to decide if an unborn child may or may not use her body and womb and for how long.

Block says that because the unborn child is an innocent human being, no one has a right to kill it.  However, since the Mother owns her body and her womb, she has every right to have the child removed at any time in the gentlest manner possible.  In other words, an evictionist couldn’t kill the baby and remove the body like abortionists do today.  They would have to keep the child alive and unharmed as much as medically possible.

What evictionism means for unborn children in today’s world is that most children evicted in the third trimester will survive.  Some evicted in the second trimester will survive.  And any child evicted in the first trimester will die.  For the babies evicted before they are viable outside the womb this is a tragedy.  They are innocent and helpless.  This tragedy, however, doesn’t change the fact that no one has the right to the body of another.  The woman is the owner of her body and she has the right to choose who can or can’t be inside of it or live off of it.

In the near future, however, medical technology will allow for babies evicted at even the earliest stages to survive and live full, healthy lives.

This is a quick and simple explanation of evictionism.  For a deeper understanding you can read a comprehensive essay penned by Block and Roy Whitehead here, or you can listen to a Podcast from the Lions of Liberty where they have a deep discussion with Block about evictionism here.  Otherwise I’ll attempt to quickly handle some objections and add some thoughts of my own.

Objections

The main objection is the idea that the unborn baby is not a trespasser, but was invited into the Mother’s womb by the woman and therefore she must be forced to carry it to term.  The argument is that by agreeing to have sex, the Mother took on the potential responsibility of a baby being created.

In the case of a voluntary sex act, this is a strong objection.  Libertarians don’t concede that positive obligations exist (no one has the right to force you to take care of them, for example), but they do concede that implied agreements can exist.  For example, if I take you up in my hot air balloon, I don’t have the right to kick you off while we’re in midair.  By taking you up in the balloon, it’s implied that I’m going to safely bring you back down!  In the abortion/evictionism debate, the act of sex is claimed to be an implied agreement with the child if a child is created.

There are two problems with this line of thinking.  The most obvious problem is that some pregnancies aren’t agreed to!  Rape is the main example used, but that’s only a small fraction of potential abortion/eviction cases.  There are also cases of birth control failure. There are cases where one of the parties was told by a doctor that they were infertile, but clearly the doctor was wrong!  There are also cases where the man agreed not to release his seed into the women but did so anyway.  In all of these cases, measures were taken to prevent a pregnancy or the woman simply had no choice.  How can the woman be forced to carry the unborn child to term in these cases where she clearly took appropriate measures to prevent a pregnancy or had no choice in the matter?

While it’s true that the unborn child is an innocent bystander in all these cases, that doesn’t mean it has the right to the woman’s body.  Imagine a scenario where you woke up one day and you find that someone surgically attached an innocent person to your body.  In this highly unlikely scenario, you’d have every right to remove this innocent person.  You wouldn’t have the right to kill the person, but no one could say that you should be forced to live with this arrangement, even if it could be proven that surgically removing this innocent person would lead to their death and keeping them surgically attached would mean they could survive.  In this tragic scenario, the innocent person attached to your body can’t force you to keep them since they have no claim to your body.

The second problem with the implied agreement argument is that the child didn’t even exist when this implied agreement was supposedly made.  For there to be an implied agreement between two or more parties, those parties have to exist!  When the voluntary sex act took place, the future child doesn’t exist and therefore can’t be apart of any implied agreement between it and the Mother.

One could still argue that someone engaging in the act of sex clearly knows that a child could be created.  Therefore they should be held accountable by being forced to carry the baby to term if one is created.  As a believer in the importance of personal responsibility, this argument is hard to combat.  On a base level, I agree with it.  I think people who act irresponsible should deal with the results of their actions.  But just because I think this way doesn’t mean I have the right to violate the person or property of someone when they act irresponsibly.

Take for example if I saw someone leave their car for several hours parked in a bad neighborhood, with the engine running, and the door wide open.  This is an incredibly irresponsible thing to do.  This is almost guaranteeing that someone will steal the car.  If I decided to take the car, does the owner still have a claim to it?  After all, I could claim that the person leaving the car was being irresponsible and should live with the outcome.  They knew something like this could happen!  This would be a ludicrous argument though.  The car is still not my property and it still belongs to the owner, even if they were being irresponsible with it.  We can all agree it was irresponsible for the person to leave it running for hours unattended, and we might not have any sympathy if it gets stolen, but that doesn’t negate the owners right to the car.  In the same way if a women is being irresponsible with her sex life.  At the end of the day, she is still the owner of her body with the right to decide if someone should live in it or not.

The only situation where it would be legitimate to punish a woman who gets an eviction is if there were an agreement between the man and woman prior to the pregnancy.  One example would be if the woman was hired to be a surrogate.  She agreed to rent her womb and body out to the person who paid her and thus would be breaking a contract by getting an eviction.

Another example would be if there were some sort of prior agreement between the couple.  They may have agreed that if she were to get pregnant, they must both consent if there was going to be a removal of an unborn child.  In this situation, the woman would have to get the man to sign off on the removal per their prior agreement.  If the man refused to sign off, but she got the unborn child removed anyway, she could be liable for whatever damages were laid out in the contract.

Guardianship Of The Removed Child

So an unwanted fetus is removed, can they simply ignore it and let it die?  If not, who is the guardian responsible for caring for the child?  This is perhaps the most important issue to be worked out for evictionism to be legitimate.  What I say is that whoever performs the eviction is taking over guardianship of the child.  Since the Mother gave up this right, the person agreeing to do the eviction is also agreeing to take on that responsibility.

Therefore, it is the evictionist who must do everything in their power to make sure that not only does the fetus survive the procedure, but that it is taken care of once it is safely out.  “But if libertarians don’t believe in positive obligations, how can the guardian be forced to care for the child?” you ask?

This is the same debate around the question of “Is it legitimate for a parent to neglect their child to the point of injury or death?”  It is not legitimate, because when the parent voluntarily took on the guardianship of a child, they have made an implied agreement to not only care for the child, but to make sure that they find someone else to care for the child if they decide to discontinue their guardianship role.

A parent can decide to stop being a guardian, but they can’t just simply let the child die.  By doing this, and not making an effort to drop the child off at an orphanage or with another suitable guardian, they are precluding others from taking on the guardianship of the child.  In essence, a parent can stop being a guardian of a child if they choose, but they can’t stop others from taking over guardianship of the child.  Therefore, they must seek out a new suitable guardian before they are legitimately able to stop caring for the child.

To wrap up this train of thought, anyone agreeing to perform an eviction procedure is also agreeing to become the guardian of the child until they can find another suitable guardian.  An evictionist who removed a child and let it die would be just as much of a criminal as any parent who neglected their child to the point of death.

The Future

Perhaps the best thing to come out of this theory is that in the not too distant future, all unborn children will be able to survive outside the womb.  Technology will soon allow for even the earliest fetuses to survive and develop normally without a human womb.  Once this is the case, both sides of the abortion issue will have no choice but to accept the evictionism argument.  If you’re pro-choice, how can you possibly advocate for the ability of a Mother to kill her fetus if it can just as easily be removed, saved, and survive?  If you’re pro-life, how can you argue that you have the right to force the Mother to carry her baby to term when she can just as easily and safely let an artificial womb incubate the baby?  If the evictionism theory is the only theory that respects the rights of all parties involved in the future, than we have to begrudgingly admit that it is legitimate today.  Our rights don’t change with the times.  They are the same whether we lived 100 years ago or live 100 years from now.

Originally published on Mike’s website here.  Check out his blog levelheadedlibertarian.com for more!

You may also like this by Mike Tront:

What Would It Look Like If The Federal Government Outlawed Abortion

Our Flag and Anthem Are Bigger than Just Our Military

I love and respect our Flag, Anthem, and nation because of American values embodied in the Declaration, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Our founding principles gave liberty and freedom an opportunity by flipping the relationship between ruler and citizen upside down. In America, citizens rule, and the government has to ask for permission when it wants to interfere in our life.

Our Founders knew our desire to give up our power and wrote down the values that would keep the spirit of Americanism alive.

The very first thing written? The freedom to speak and petition (protest) your government when citizens feel an injustice is taking place. Never again would a citizen be punished for doing their civic duty: speaking up when the government forgets its place. Nothing is more American than an American peacefully protesting injustices within the government. In my mind, there was no greater patriot in the 20th century than Martin Luther King Jr. Without firing a shot, he changed the hearts and minds of the American people, and they, in turn, changed our government.

Most of the Founders didn’t want a standing Army. They felt the homeland could be best protected by armed citizens who could protect their families, communities, and states. They didn’t dream Americans would have military bases in 170 countries while operating 7 fronts as we do today. I think many of the Founders would be absolutely puzzled that we are arguing over the common sense principle of self-protection coming under attack this week.

I think they’d be equally as shocked that half of our country have narrowed Americanism and the flag down to honoring a standing military and military intervention. Our Flag and Anthem mean so much more than the war powers of our current government.

I do believe our Flag and Anthem represent the fallen and our veterans, but not our policies. In my mind, Americanism is directly opposed to much of what this current government does. It stands for free markets, freedom of association, the right to peacefully live our lives without government agencies harassing us or killing us. Yes, it means honoring the memories of every person that gave their life for this unique experiment, both in and out of uniform. Many thousands of Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep this a shining beacon of hope. That includes those fighting in foreign wars as well as Americans like Emmitt Till.

I’m surrounded by political and religious refugees from Burma. They are wonderful neighbors, and they are adding a lot to our community. Storefronts that sat vacant for years are now thriving, for instance. America represents hope to them. They will lay down tonight in their secure and clean home without the fear of Burmese government agents killing or stealing from them. They will send their children to good schools tomorrow while they make more money than they’ve ever had in their life.

When I stand for the Anthem, my eyes water because of the hardship my great-great-great grandparents endured in leaving their German hometown and moving to a strange land so that one day their ancestors could be prosperous, healthy, clean, and endowed with all the rights given by our Creator. It’s for my Grandfather that nearly died in Okinawa fighting an Imperial menace that threatened the lives of millions of Americans. It’s tears of thanksgiving to God that I live in a country where I can start a media outlet that openly criticizes the ruling class without any fear of retribution.

So yes… the Flag and the Anthem ARE about soldiers that fought and died for this country. It’s about so much more. If Mike Pence and Donald Trump and any person reading this want to reduce it to only that, then they’re being decidedly unpatriotic. They’re being a propagandist, and that is UnAmerican.