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Taming the Violence of Faith

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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Dr. Imberman has written a fantastic Christmas song which he had professionally recorded as a demonstration record. He is looking for a publisher, or A & R man, or record producer to listen to his song. It deserves to be a permanent member of the portfolio of familiar and favorite Christmas songs. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.

Book Review of Taming the Violence of Faith by Jay Stuart Snelson

In the 200s B.C. it was Archimedes. In the 1500s-1600s it was Galileo Galilei. In 1665-1666 it was Isaac Newton. In the 1800s it was Michael Faraday, Gregor Mendel and James Clerk Maxwell. In the 1900s it was Albert Einstein and Max Planck. All of these innovators have become household words around the world. They and many others have contributed a wealth of information to mankind that has raised the standard of living for the masses never even imagined before such men existed. Each of them contributed a piece of the puzzle to the mysteries of the universe that added to the integration of the physical and biological sciences. What about the social sciences?

In his book, Taming the Violence of Faith, Jay Stuart Snelson has taken the subject of sociology to new heights by innovating a brilliant integration that can solve the problems of society which have previously been thought of as being unsolvable. His use of syllogisms is beyond reproach as he develops, finally, a true Science of Sociology. Questions and conflicts that previously had no solutions have been solved. In the process of Snelson’s treatise, a well-organized history lesson is presented that integrates the failings of the past with his science of the present. He demonstrates the causes and effects of the many wars, riots, thefts, and inhumanities of men towards each other over the past centuries and which continue to this day. You’ll find that there is a common denominator behind most of the ills of society.

Historically, it has been demonstrated that the more important and significant the new idea, the more it has been overlooked at the time of its innovation. The Snelson Integration must not become just another disregarded theory. The only thing his work can accomplish is to change the world for the better. It’s a must reading for atheists and theists, for men and women, for the left and the right, for Jews, Gentiles and Muslims, for the uneducated and the educated and especially for you, the reader. Once you read it you will find it difficult not to recommend it to your friends and family with superlative enthusiasm.


Read more from “Food for Thought”:

Galt’s Speech Revisited, and My Message to All

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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Dr. Imberman has written a fantastic Christmas song which he had professionally recorded as a demonstration record. He is looking for a publisher, or A & R man, or record producer to listen to his song. It deserves to be a permanent member of the portfolio of familiar and favorite Christmas songs. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.

“You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis. You have said it yourself, half in fear, half in hope that the words had no meaning. You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded. Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster. In the name of a return to morality, you have sacrificed all those evils, which you held as the cause of your plight. You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith. You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty.”

“You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all that which you held to be good. Why, then, do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins. It is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection. You have fought for it, you have dreamed of it, and you have wished it.” [Ayn Rand]


I too refuse to endorse your standard of virtue. You have continually promoted the idea that man does not own his own life; that his life is owned by the collective; that one man’s need constitutes a moral obligation upon the actions of another; that one man’s need constitutes a right to the property of another. You estimate the worth of another man’s life by the degree to which he sacrifices his time, effort or property to others, casting aside as useless, the degree to which he innovates, invents, invests in, produces, creates and improves the quality of life for his fellow man, while profiting from his efforts. In fact, it’s because he has profited from his efforts that you have cast aside his accomplishments. Such men are the true humanitarians of this world.

For most of you profit is the most evil word in the English language. Then you see the world crumbling around you and believe that its destruction derives from man’s inability to live up to your standards of virtue. The overpowering standard you promote is sacrifice. You pray to your god of sacrifice to give you the strength to be worthy of living, measured by the degree of your sacrifices. You are getting what you deserve.

Yes, deep in your hearts you have believed that too much justice, too much independence, too much self-responsibility, too much self-esteem, too much reason, too much pride, too much productiveness, too much wealth, too much profit and too much happiness are evil and therefore, must be held in check by the collective power of the State. Of course you can never define what standard you use to determine what constitutes “too much.” In fact, to many of you, life itself is considered a sin to be paid for by harboring feelings of guilt and requiring confessions to mystics to absolve yourselves from the sin of being born. However, there is no such thing as too much virtue. The Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union collapsed as a result of abandoning those virtues. The lessons of history are replete with examples of the extinction of civilizations based upon inverted standards of virtue, but you’ve turned a deaf ear. Your standards are not just inverted. They are perverted.

You worship the antithesis of those virtues required by man for his proper survival. Instead you worship their opposites: mercy, unity, faith, need, the unearned, irresponsibility, self-denial and duty, and consider that the “good.”

You, the “takers” have accused the “makers” of the world of engaging in dog-eat-dog competition and the sin of materialism. However, through your taking from the makers you have been the moral cannibals, not the “makers.” You have no idea how the “makers” of this world have made your standard of living possible and so you exhibit disdain instead of gratitude for their contributions. Just like those who still defend the ideology of Communism—in spite of its proven failure—you’ve defended your code as noble and “good” but never bothered to define the “good.” You’ve never bothered to distinguish between ends and means, thus evaluating your code based upon what you consider a good-intentioned end and the hell with the means. Your faith-based belief in and commitment to good intentions blind you to the deleterious effects that result from your immoral means. Immoral means do not excuse anyone from a “good intentioned” end. You cried that human nature was not good enough to practice your code. What is your standard of “good?” You never stop to consider the difference between win-win and win-lose situations. As long as the intention is “good,” you have no problem with the use of any means, moral or immoral.

“Happiness is the successful state of life, pain is an agent of death. Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values. A morality that dares to tell you to find happiness in the renunciation of your happiness—to value the failure of your values—is an insolent negation of morality. A doctrine that gives you, as an ideal, the role of a sacrificial animal seeking slaughter on the altars of others, is giving you death as your standard. By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end unto himself, he exists for his own sake and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose. But neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. Just as man is free to attempt to survive in any random manner, but will perish unless he functions as his nature requires, so he is free to seek his happiness in any mindless fraud, but the torture of frustration is all he will find, unless he seeks the happiness proper to man. The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.” [Ayn Rand]

Unfortunately the human race has not learned this lesson so they go about their days expecting life to take care of itself while they make no plans, never think about ideas, smoking their mind-altering drug of choice and living off the efforts and incomes of others. The so-called lessons they do learn they learn from the halls of occupied territory—high schools and university classrooms, where their teachers and professors also believe and teach that the mind is impotent, there are no moral absolutes, life is useless and there is no such thing as values worth seeking. To their professors all opinions and all values are equally valid. If you don’t believe this, check it out with any student attending a liberal arts university.

These are the reasons why the world is in such a cacophonous state—a state of confusion, turmoil, fear and hopelessness—where the threat of war is forever present. The writing is on the wall. Choose—a morality based upon the nature of man or based upon the teaching of mystics—a morality based upon rational life-enhancing decisions or death.

“No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the total sum of his knowledge. To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality.” [Ayn Rand]

Observe the countless contradictions held by the intellectuals (theologians, professors and politicians) along the entire political spectrum. All of them hold on, like drunks to their booze, to ideas that boggle the rational mind, and to make matters worse, what they teach infects the minds of their students who have no idea of the fraud that is being perpetrated upon them. Today’s students have accepted hook, line and sinker, the political idea that the problems of humankind can only be solved through the use of force or fraud. They get away with it by using the techniques outlined in the novel 1984 by George Orwell. Doublespeak reigns—lies are truth, slavery is freedom, forcible redistribution of wealth is not theft. The doublespeak is unending and ubiquitous.

The perversion of those virtues that humankind requires for its survival will result in the destruction of humankind. Presently, the positive virtues of justice, independence, self-responsibility, self-esteem, reason, productiveness and happiness are considered by most people to be examples of selfishness, especially when exhibited indefinably as “excessive.” Those very same virtues must no longer be considered in a pejorative way, but should be considered as honorable and noble virtues to be sought after by the many. Only then will the tide of future annihilation be stemmed.


Read more from “Food for Thought”:

The Argument from Patriotism

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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Dr. Imberman has written a fantastic Christmas song which he had professionally recorded as a demonstration record. He is looking for a publisher, or A & R man, or record producer to listen to his song. It deserves to be a permanent member of the lexicon of familiar and favorite Christmas songs. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.

There is a worn out slogan usually associated with the Conservative right which reads, “America, Love It or Leave It.” This slogan is quite distasteful to the Liberal left. It is often seen as a bumper sticker with an American flag on it. There is also a very popular and often quoted slogan penned by John F. Kennedy, which reads, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” The Liberal left loves this slogan as if it were quoted directly from the Communist Manifesto.

Often, whenever I become involved in discussions with both sides of the political spectrum, whereby I take the position of advocating a voluntary society and express disappointment with our present system of government compulsion, both Liberals and Conservatives join forces and ultimately resort to the following argument against my position of freedom. They both say, “The price we must pay for living in America is to abide by its laws, pay taxes and vote to support it.” In other words, “America, Love it or Leave it.” Suddenly, the Liberals are in agreement with the very slogan that has been abhorrent to them in the past. This is a prime example of the saying, “politics makes strange bedfellows.” I call both of their slogans, “The Argument from Patriotism.”

This demonstrates that both parties are very similar in their fundamental method of achieving their goals. They agree upon the use of governmental compulsion and duress in order to solve society’s most urgent problems. They never stop to consider that perhaps their fundamental method may be the very antithesis of what is required. They differ only as to the issues they favor and disfavor. They both hide under the guise of patriotism.

This country was founded upon the doctrines antithetical to the Argument from Patriotism. The immigrants came here from other lands where they were constantly expected to perform for the benefit of their king, monarch, rulers, party or country. Thus, a Statist society is one in which the individual is subservient to the State. These immigrants escaped all manifestations of religious, social and economic persecutions in order to come to a land where there existed the promise that they would be left alone to shift for themselves for the benefit of serving themselves – not for the benefit of the State. They came to the Promised Land not asking what they can do for their country, as in the quote from Kennedy, but to be left alone.

America flourished because of the establishment of the principles of non-compulsion or voluntarism. The Declaration of Independence was the embodiment of those principles. For the first time the individual discovered that he had certain inalienable rights; the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The right to the Pursuit of Happiness does not mean the right to a guarantee of happiness. It only guarantees the right to seek happiness and to fail in that endeavor. But, more importantly, for the first time, the individual was king and the State became subservient to the individual. The practice of these principles is what enabled America to become the wealthiest, most respected country in the world, having the highest standard of living for more people than in all previously recorded history.

Now we have come full circle and once again, we have degenerated to a Statist society. Most citizens look towards government to solve most problems and want their fellow citizens to foot the bill for the cost of these solutions. The means of support are never considered and the problems continue to multiply. In the meanwhile, the individual gets trampled upon and hardly anybody cares.

The liberals want more welfare, more entitlement programs, more social security benefits, universal medical care and increasing foreign aid to starving nations. The conservatives want more interference with our private lives by passing anti-abortion laws, anti-drug laws, anti-pornography laws and generally, laws to control the morality of the people. Both of these factions care little about the individual. The liberals have a reputation of giving support to the minority, forgetting that the individual is the smallest minority. The conservatives pay lip service to individual rights.

Frederic Bastiat, in his book, The Law, stated a simple truth when he wrote, “If you want to see if a law is just, see if it gives the government the power to commit an act, which if committed by an individual would be considered to be a crime. If such a law exists, abolish it immediately or else it will grow and fester until it becomes institutionalized and contaminates the entire system and society.”

Both slogans from the left and right (The Argument from Patriotism) tell us to submit and respect, honor and support our system of government simply because it is our government. Look at the result! One would have to be blind not to see the contamination that is quickly enveloping us as predicted by Bastiat over 150 years ago. The Argument from Patriotism is actually no argument at all. It is just an excuse for compulsion; clichés taught in government schools and fostered by members of the media and politicians who also were taught in government schools in order to propagate the system of compulsion.

In order for an argument to have any validity its structure must be derived from basic principles, which are then used to build a consistent and logical hierarchy of concepts, resulting in conclusions based upon those principles and concepts. In fact, that is the only method in history that has been effective in solving any problems. To simply say that we must obey the law is to advise us is to submit to authority like the people who live under totalitarian regimes do all over the world. It makes no difference if the authority was democratically voted into power. It was the requirement to submit to authority under penalty of physical harm or even death, from which the early settlers had escaped. They had had enough. Some day the citizens of the United States will have had enough but there will be no place to run.

At this point statists recite the next Argument from Patriotism. It is used as if, once stated, it becomes indisputable. It is stated as follows: “what are you complaining about? America is still the best country in the world and you should feel lucky to live here.” Although the statement is true, it has nothing to do with the issue of living free versus living under the yoke of an increasingly abusive government. Such an argument is a non sequitur used by people who cannot ideologically develop a sound reason for their own philosophy of “good abusive government.”

Falling back upon the Argument from Patriotism also adds another element of negativity to the situation. We usually label aggressive and abusive acts in pejorative terms and condemn them, especially when they are perpetrated between individuals. For example, we condemn theft, kidnapping, extortion and fraud. However, when our own government behaves in a similar manner the Argument from Patriotism takes hold, either from the left or the right, so that the citizens do not even recognize those acts as abusive and so nobody condemns them. The cloak of the Argument from Patriotism hides the following facts:

  1. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the only real rights an individual possesses. There are no others.
  2. An infringement of those three rights is abusive, unjust, antisocial, and anti-progressive no matter who commits it or who sanctions it and can only lead to further abuses until no rights remain. In order to proclaim other pseudo-rights, (like the right to an education or medical care or housing) one of the three real rights must be infringed upon.
  3. Even when a government infringes upon an individual’s rights, it is always another individual who is acting. The IRS agent is an example. Hiding under the cloak of a righteous government and protected by the government’s guns, the IRS agent has the power to confiscate your property without a legal court order and throw you in prison if you resist. This is true of the agents of most of the other government agencies, especially Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet who is the victim and who is the aggressor? Try to answer that question without invoking the Argument from Patriotism. What ideological weapon can you use to favor such abuse? “I was only following orders,” will not hack it. That’s the excuse proclaimed by the Nazis during the Nuremberg trials.

In the future, when you are in the mood to ponder over your own convictions, think about where they come from and why you adhere to them. Were they developed according to a logical pattern of thinking or were they just accepted by whim or some self-defeating sense of compassion? Think about our country’s problems and instead of pointing your finger outward, look in the mirror. You may be the problem and if so, only you can be part of the solution.


Read more from “Food for Thought”:

Faith and Force

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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Dr. Imberman has written a fantastic Christmas song which he had professionally recorded as a demonstration record. He is looking for a publisher, or A & R man, or record producer to listen to his song. It deserves to be a permanent member of the lexicon of familiar and favorite Christmas songs. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.

“Faith means belief without evidence or reason, or in spite of evidence to the contrary. There is no way to reason with someone acting out of faith; there is no fact that one can reference to refute a premise sprung from faith. That’s why faith begets violence; there can be no reconciling with a belligerent [person] acting on the basis of his faith.” – Nicholas Provenzo [Italics mine]

The reason why faith begets violence is because when belief without reason is considered just as valid as reason, it brings all rational conversation to a dead halt, which can cause frustration and anger leading to physical conflict. Against faith there is no reason to attempt persuasion. It’s like trying to administer medicine to the dead.

A big problem with insisting that faith leads to force is that most people of faith will deny that they espouse force. However, they don’t recognize the true nature of force, especially when they vote. They faithfully believe that their vote is an attempt to humanely institute peaceful methods of organizing society. They equate the vote with voluntarism, which is absurd. They don’t recognize that their vote is coercing someone else into doing something against their will or not doing something they prefer to do because it’s forbidden.

It can be demonstrated that the progressives of today (and even many conservatives) base their beliefs on faith. Try conversing with progressives (and many conservatives) and see if they offer any valid arguments for their positions. All of the progressive’s arguments are emotional, while the conservatives use spurious reasoning to sustain their positions. (See my previous article, “The Liberal Mind vs. The Conservative Mind“) There is no hierarchy to their edifice of knowledge concerning their societal beliefs, leaving them with faith as an invalid substitute.

The physical conflict to which I referred above will come somewhere down the line as frustration heats up eventually leading to blood in the streets of America. The anger exhibited between the various classes created by the progressive politicians has never been so vociferous as it is today. Hate and contempt between the classes is at an all time high, especially between the left and the right. As the theft and regulation of the property and lives of the taxpaying public by the State multiplies and the masses have nowhere left to turn to for help, the frustration will reach a critical level, and in anger they will attempt to fix their problems on their own and all hell will break loose—violent revolution. They might even finally realize that the very organization that they have been turning to for help is the very organization that has placed them in harm’s way—the State.

In the same manner, there is no conversing with any group if their fundamental belief systems are based upon faith. It is especially true of those who hold to the Fundamentalist arm of the Islam faith. Reason has no place in their vocabulary. Hate America, kill, maim, destroy and torture all infidels, are the slogans that drives them and they pursue it with a vengeance.

Unfortunately, no one in media or administration has the intestinal fortitude nor the understanding or wisdom to name it for what it is. Faith and force is the culprit causing the present worldwide class warfare on a domestic and international level. Security rests with the idea that no person, group or organization can make a slave of another person. Slavery consists of having to involuntarily serve the needs, wishes or wants of another, thus the term “involuntary servitude.” The method of creating slavery is faith and force. As long as faith and force are the accepted methods of dealings with one another, the peoples of the earth will never feel secure. Let’s expose it and abandon it for the evil that it is.


Read more from “Food for Thought”:

The Private vs. the Public Sector

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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Dr. Imberman has written a fantastic Christmas song which he had professionally recorded as a demonstration record. He is looking for a publisher, or A & R man, or record producer to listen to his song. It deserves to be a permanent member of the lexicon of familiar and favorite Christmas songs. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.

A few years ago, while having a brief and passing conversation with a fellow bridge player, and after hearing my particular ideology about government and its inefficiencies, corruption and coercive power, she made the following statement: “I understand and agree with what you’re saying, however, since government and the private sector are both inefficient and corrupt, I’d rather cast my lot with government than with the private sector.” Of course she was implying that the private sector is the greater of the two evils. So, fundamentally, to her, political power is a lesser evil than economic power. No argument, article or book can dissuade her from her position.

The progressives and even the conservatives have accepted the premise that the free market, by its very nature, must result in, tyranny and enslavement by the employers, unfair business practices, monopolies, harm to the workers, unfair wages and rents and a general exploitation of the workers and consumers. Therefore, the private sector must be reeled in, controlled and held in check through regulation, and taxation. The more stringent the controls the better does the government serve the people. (Examples of past extremely stringent controls by the State are Nazi Germany and Communist USSR).

Their entire premise is based upon a false understanding of the free market. To understand the free market I present the reader with a speech given by Nathaniel Branden in 1995.


The Foundations of a Free Society
Nathaniel Branden, PhD

This article is based on Nathaniel Branden’s remarks at the Cato Institute on November 2, 1995.

Some years ago, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Empire, I was an invited speaker at a conference of company CEOs and presidents in Acapulco, Mexico. Another of the speakers was Gennady Gerasimov, who you may remember was Gorbachev’s spokesperson to the West. I went to hear his talk, which he opened with a joke. And the joke went like this: The Soviet Union has invaded and successfully conquered every country on the planet, with one exception: New Zealand. The Soviet Union has chosen not to invade New Zealand. Question: Why? Answer: So we would know the market price of goods. And of course everybody in the audience got the joke, and everybody laughed, and I sat there stunned.

My mind went back 40 years to when I met Ayn Rand, who directed me to the works of Ludwig von Mises, the economist who first pointed out the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism and explained why a socialist system would have to end in economic collapse. And I thought of my first years at the University of California at Los Angeles, when I attempted to explain Mises’s argument, and the ridicule that I encountered. I recall one professor in particular, a professor of government, who told me, “The trouble with you is you’re just prejudiced against dictatorships.”

Now, 40 years later, a representative of the Soviet Union is acknowledging the truth of Mises’s observation in a joke, and it’s treated as self-evident.

So the world has turned. And at one level the battle between capitalism and socialism appears to be over. Very few people any longer take socialism seriously as a viable political form of social organization. At the same time, the battle for capitalism, in the laissez-faire sense, in the libertarian sense, is very far from over. It’s as if the enemies of capitalism in general and business in particular have a thousand heads. You chop one off and a hundred more appear, under new names and new guises.

A great deal of work is being done these days in one area after another, by such institutions as Cato and by scholars around the world, to provide an increasing mountain of evidence that no other social system can compete, in terms of productivity and the standard of living, with free-market capitalism. Moreover, there is an impressive amount of scholarship demonstrating why most government efforts to solve social problems, not only fail, but worsen the very conditions they were intended to address.

One has to be more and more committed to unconsciousness as a political philosophy to retain the belief that government can lead us to the promised land. At the same time, as a long-time advocate of the libertarian vision, I have been absorbed by the question of why the battle for a free society has been so long and so hard and seems to encounter new challengers every time one falls away.
What Is Required for a Free Society?

Clearly more is required than Hayek thought when he argued that economic education would be sufficient to bring the world to an appreciation of free markets. My own conviction is that philosophical education is required, moral education is required, psychological education is required, and that no free society can last without an appropriate philosophy and supporting culture. A free society requires and entails a whole set of values, a whole way of looking at people—at human relationships, at the relationship of the individual to the state—about which there has to be some decent level of consensus.

Let me describe an event that has had a profound impact on me. About 18 months ago I received a telephone call from a young female Ph.D. candidate in psychology. She had learned that I would be lecturing at a conference in South Carolina, which she would be attending, and wanted to meet with me to discuss my becoming a consultant to her on her doctoral thesis. She described herself as an admirer of my work. Only when we began to discuss how we would find each other at the conference did she mention that she was blind. I was a bit stunned: how could a blind woman know my work so well? She chuckled when I asked that question, told me to wait a minute, and the next thing I heard was a mechanical voice reading from my book The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. It was a special computer that reads, she explained; first it scans the pages of a book, then it translates the signals into spoken words.

I thought of the scientists who identified the laws of nature that underlie that achievement. I thought of the inventors who converted those laws into usable technology. I thought of the businesspersons who organized the factors of production to manufacture that machine and make it available in the marketplace. None of those people are what the conventional wisdom calls “humanitarians.” And yet, if lightening the burden of human existence and ameliorating suffering are considered desirable, then what act of “compassion” for this woman could rival what was given her, not out of someone’s pity or kindness, but out of someone’s passion to achieve and to make money in the process?

We do not hear the term “compassionate” applied to business executives or entrepreneurs, certainly not when they are engaged in their normal work (as distinct from their philanthropic activities). Yet in terms of results in the measurable form of jobs created, lives enriched, communities built, living standards raised, and poverty healed, a handful of capitalists has done infinitely more for mankind than all the self-serving politicians, academics, social workers, and religionists who march under the banner of “compassion” (and often look with scorn on those engaged in “commerce”).

The late Warren Brookes, in his book The Economy in Mind, told a relevant story:

[Ernst] Mahler was an entrepreneurial genius whose innovative ideas and leadership, over a period of about 20 years, transformed [Kimberly Clark, a] once-small, insular newsprint and tissue manufacturer into one of the largest paper corporations in the world, which gives prosperous employment to more than 100,000 and produces products (which Mahler helped to innovate) that are now used by more than 2 billion people. Mahler became enormously wealthy, of course. Yet his personal fortune was insignificant when compared with the permanent prosperity he generated, not only for his own company but for the hundreds of thousands who work for industries which his genius ultimately spawned and which long outlived him—not to mention the revolutionary sanitary products that have liberated two generations of women, or the printing papers that completely transformed international publishing and communications for fifty years.

I can safely predict that you have never heard of him up to this moment. Not one person in 100 million has. Yet his contribution has permanently uplifted the lives of millions and far exceeds in real compassion most of our self-congratulatory politicians and “activists” whose names are known to all.

The moral of the story is that a relatively small number of inventors and capitalists have made incalculable contributions to human welfare and human well-being and yet are not what most people think of when they think of leading a moral life. They are not factored into the moral equation. We live in a culture that teaches that morality is self-sacrifice and that compassion and service to others are the ultimate good. We don’t associate morality with ambition, achievement, innovation; and we certainly don’t associate it with profit making. But if the standard by which we are judging is human well-being, then whatever the enormous merits of compassion, they do not compare with the contributions to well-being that are made by the motivation of achievement.

One of the great problems of our world, and the ultimate difficulty in fighting for a libertarian society, is the complete lack of fit between the values that actually support and nurture human life and well-being and the things that people are taught to think of as noble or moral or admirable. The calamity of our time and all times past is the complete lack of congruence between the values that, in fact, most serve life and the values we are taught to esteem most. So long as that lack of congruence exists, the battle for freedom can never be permanently won.

Spiritual Needs

People have not only material needs, they have psychological needs, they have spiritual needs. And it is the spiritual needs that will have the last word. Until the libertarian vision is understood as a spiritual quest and not merely an economic quest, it will continue to face the kind of misunderstandings and adversaries it faces today.

So I’m enormously interested in what has to be understood if a free society is to survive and flourish. A free society cannot flourish on a culture committed to irrationalism. And 20th-century philosophy has witnessed a virulent worldwide rebellion against the values of reason, objectivity, science, truth, and logic—under such names as postmodernism, poststructuralism, deconstructionism, and a host of others.

It’s not an accident that most of the people doing the attacking also happen to be statists. In fact, I don’t know of any who aren’t. You cannot have a non-coercive society if you don’t have a common currency of exchange, and the only one possible is rational persuasion. But if there is no such thing as reason, the only currency left is coercion. So one thing that libertarianism in the broad philosophical sense has to include is respect for the Western values of reason, objectivity, truth, and logic, which make possible civilized discourse, argument, conversation, confrontation, and resolution of differences.

Self-Responsibility

Another great value that was once central to the American tradition, and that has now all but disappeared, is one very close to my heart as a psychologist, namely the practice of self-responsibility. We began as a frontier country in which nothing was given and virtually everything had to be created. We began as a country of individualism in which, to be sure, people helped one another and engaged in mutual aid, but it was certainly taken as a foregone conclusion that each individual adult bore primary responsibility for his or her own existence. If you helped people, it was to get them back on their feet. The assumption was that the normal path of growth was from the dependence of childhood to the independence and self-responsibility of adulthood.

That vision has all but vanished, if not from our culture, then from the intellectual spokespersons for this culture. We hear more and more stories about the insane things that happen when people are no longer held to any kind of accountability or self-responsibility. You may have heard of the agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who was found to be embezzling money from the bureau to feed his gambling habit. When he was discovered, he was fired. He sued the FBI under the Americans with Disabilities Act, arguing that he was being discriminated against because he had a disease, namely gambling addiction. The judge ordered him reinstated on the job. Has there ever been a civilized society in which it has been easier to avoid responsibility?

As a psychologist, I am keenly aware that in working with individuals, nothing is more important for their growth to healthy maturity than realizing that each of us has to be responsible for our own life and well-being, for our own choices and behavior, and that blaming and dependency are a dead end; they serve neither self nor others. You cannot have a world that works, you can’t have an organization, a marriage, a relationship, a life that works, except on the premise of self-responsibility. And without that as a central cultural value, there is no way for people to really get what libertarianism is all about. One of the main psychological, ethical underpinnings of libertarianism is the premise that we must take responsibility for our own lives and be accountable for our own actions. There is no other way for a civilized society to operate.

For thousands of years, to turn to an ethical dimension, people have been taught that self-interest is evil. And for thousands of years they have been taught that the essence of virtue is self-sacrifice. To a large extent that is a doctrine of control and manipulation. “Selfish” is what we call people when they are doing what they want to do, rather than what we want them to do.

The world is changing. Imagine, for example, that a speaker was addressing a room full of women, only women, and he said, “Ladies, the essence of morality is realizing that you are here to serve. Your needs are not what is important. Think only of those you serve; nothing is more beautiful than self-sacrifice.” Well, in the modern world, such a speaker would rightly be hooted off the stage. Question: What happens if the same speech is made to a mixed audience? Why is what’s wrong with it different if men are also in the audience? We need to rethink our whole ethical framework. We need to rethink and realize that it is the natural right of an organism, not only to defend and to sustain its own life, but to fulfill its own needs, to pursue its own values, bound by the moral obligation not to violate the rights of others by coercion or fraud, not to willingly participate in a coercive society.

The Animus toward Business

For a very long time in virtually every major civilization we know of, there has been a terrific animus toward businesspersons. It was found in ancient Greece, in the Orient, everywhere. The trader, the banker, the merchant, the businessman has always been a favorite villain. But if we understand that the businessman is the person most instrumental in turning new knowledge and new discoveries into the means of human survival and wellbeing, then to be anti-business is in the most profound sense to be anti-life. That doesn’t mean that one glamorizes business or denies the fact that businesspeople sometimes do unethical things, but we do need to challenge the idea that there is something intrinsically wrong about pursuing self-interest. We need to fight the idea that profit is a dirty word. We need to recognize that the whole miracle of America, the great innovation of the American political system, was that it was the first country in the history of the world that politically acknowledged the right to the pursuit of self-interest, as sovereign, as inalienable, as basic to what it means to be a human being. The result was the release of an extravagant, unprecedented amount of human energy in the service of human life.

We cannot talk about politics or economics in a vacuum. We have to ask ourselves: On what do our political convictions rest? What is the implicit view of human nature that lies behind or underneath our political beliefs? What is our view of how human beings ought to relate to one another? What is our view of the relationship of the individual to the state? What do we think is “good” and why do we think so?

Any comprehensive portrait of an ideal society needs to begin with identifying such principles as those, and from that developing the libertarian case. We do have a soul hunger, we do have a spiritual hunger, we do want to believe and feel and experience that life has meaning. And that’s why we need to understand that we’re talking about much more than market transactions. We’re talking about an individual’s ownership of his or her own life. The battle for self-ownership is a sacred battle, a spiritual battle, and it involves much more than economics.

Without the moral dimension, without the spiritual dimension, we may win the short-term practical debate, but the statists will always claim the moral high ground in spite of the evil that results from their programs and in spite of their continuing failure to achieve any of their allegedly lofty goals.

I don’t think that there is any battle more worth fighting in the world today than the battle for a truly free society. I believe that we really need to think through all the different aspects from which it needs to be defended, argued for, explained, encouraged, supported; and then according to our own interests and areas of competency, we pick the area in which we can make the biggest contribution.

Marx, Freud, and Freedom

My own view is that the philosophical and the moral and ultimately the psychological are the base of everything in this sphere. And I’ll give just one concluding example of the psychological. When people think of the disintegration and deterioration of a semi-free society such as we’ve had, they think of Marx as a very negative influence, which of course he was. They are much less likely to appreciate the relevance of a man from my own profession, Sigmund Freud.

What could Freud have to do with the welfare state? My answer is, plenty. It was Freud and his followers who were most responsible for introducing into American culture and spreading the doctrine of psychological determinism, according to which all of us are entirely controlled and manipulated by forces over which we have no control, freedom is an illusion, ultimately we are responsible for nothing. If we do anything good, we deserve no credit. If we do anything bad, we deserve no reprimand. We are merely the helpless pawns of the forces working upon us, be they our instincts or our environment or our toilet training.

Freud, whatever his intentions, is the father of the “I couldn’t help it” school. (Perhaps credit should be shared with behaviorism, the other leading school of psychology in this country that propounds its own equally adamant version of determinism.) The inevitable result of the acceptance of determinism, of the belief that no one is responsible for anything, is the kind of whining, blame shifting, and abdication of responsibility we have all around us today. Any advocate of freedom, any advocate of civilization, has to challenge the doctrine of psychological determinism and has to be able to argue rationally and persuasively for the principle of psychological freedom or free will, which is the underpinning of the doctrine of self-responsibility.

My book Taking Responsibility addresses the task of showing the relationship between free will on the one hand and personal responsibility on the other as well as exploring the multiple meanings and applications of self-responsibility, from the most intimate and personal to the social and political. And that I see as the much wider canvas and much wider job still waiting to be done: to provide a philosophical frame so that people will understand that the battle for libertarianism is not, in essence, the battle for business or the battle for markets. Those are merely concrete forms. It’s the battle for your ownership of your own life.


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The Primary Goal of My Writing

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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Dr. Imberman has written a fantastic Christmas song which he had professionally recorded as a demonstration record. He is looking for a publisher, or A & R man, or record producer to listen to his song. It deserves to be a permanent member of the lexicon of familiar and favorite Christmas songs. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.

In 1961 I read Atlas Shrugged for the first time. I loved it but that’s as far as it went. To me it was just a great story. In 1968 I became involved in a political discussion with a woman who quickly suggested that I re-read Atlas before we got involved in any further ideological discussions, which I did. Many discussions with her followed with some resistance on my part, since I came from a very liberal background and Atlas propounded ideas that were out of step with my beliefs. However, with each contention of resistance on my part she had a reasonable response until one day, like Archimedes, I had a “eureka” moment. A light went on. On an intellectual level I describe that level of integration as spiritual; on an emotional level it was pure joy. It created a thirst for further knowledge resulting in my reading the kinds of books and articles in which I hadn’t previously had the least interest—philosophy, economics, politics, ethics, psychology, epistemology.

In the first 15 minutes of the film 2001, A Space Odyssey, primitive man is shown realizing that he might use a femur bone lying next to him, as a tool, a weapon to fight off an invading tribe. When he uses the tool successfully thereby warding off the invaders, he throws the femur up in the air with the look of the same pure joy that I experienced when I had that “eureka” moment while discussing Atlas. While in the air, the femur bone (tool) then morphs into a space ship (tool) on the way to the moon in the year 2001. I tear up each time I see that scene because it was a brilliant way of demonstrating the wonder of the human mind. I had felt the same emotion upon subsequently understanding the writings and teachings of Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden, Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, Robert Ringer, John Pugsley, F.A. Hayek, Ludwig Von Mises, Frederic Bastiat, Andrew Galambos and Jay Stuart Snelson.

Another moment of spiritual and emotional joy for me came near the end of the film The Miracle Worker. Throughout the story, Annie Sullivan tries to teach the deaf, mute and blind Helen Keller how to communicate by means of touching Helen’s hands in various ways. Each touch is either a word or even an entire concept. All attempts fail until finally and suddenly Helen “gets it.” With great enthusiasm Helen understands that each symbol represents something in reality: chair, table, face, hair, mother, father. With this understanding, Helen cannot get the knowledge fast enough. Annie Sullivan calls out to Helen’s parents, “she knows, she knows.” What an inspirational, breathtaking moment for me, and the audience. I believe there wasn’t a dry eye in the theater. Here again, I had felt the same emotion as when I understood the writings of the authors mentioned above.

You can imagine that I had to share my new knowledge with my good friend B, who was a liberal, as I had previously been prior to my exposure to these ideas. It was approximately 1969. I entered the fray with great expectations and anticipation. However, I met with great resistance resulting in serious disappointment. The resistance was so strong that we stopped speaking to each other for about 12 months. Then something happened which I could never have predicted. President Richard Nixon imposed wage and price controls upon the citizens of the country. B had his own “eureka” moment concerning that presidential edict, which led him to rethink his own values and ideology. He became convinced about the validity of my positions during our prior contentious discussions and we became good friends again.

My transformation took intellectual convincing. In the case of B. it took a political event that convinced him. He never became well versed in the philosophy, epistemology or ideology of freedom. In fact he wasn’t a reader. He never read any of the authors to which I referred previously. He wasn’t that type of thinker but he was dedicated to basic premises and understood that one and one makes two.

“The noblest pleasure,” said Leonardo, “is the joy of understanding.” I write my articles, not to conquer, but primarily to share my enthusiasm with my readers — to share my pure joy — in hopes of establishing camaraderie.

Of course there is a secondary goal to my writing and that is to persuade. It is my sincere belief that once a fundamental, true, basic premise is understood, there is no escaping the rational conclusions that must be borne of those premises.

To those of you whom I have not convinced through my writing, it is my hope that, like B, some political event will occur that will enable you to integrate the messages of my writing and say to yourselves, “Wow, now I understand what Norm has been writing about all these years,” and you will delve further into the ideology of freedom and feel a camaraderie with me as many others have done. For some of you it may have already happened as a result of the poor performance of Obamacare or the IRS and NSA intrusions into our lives or the failing economy along with the high unemployment rate. Who knows what government-caused calamity will trigger some of my readers to make the connection and think, “Now I understand what Norm was writing about.”

Most articles of a political or ideological nature tend to threaten those who disagree with it. This article doesn’t poke fun at, insult, or threaten anyone. Therefore, if read by a statist, it might provide him/her with that same “eureka” moment that I experienced, especially if he/she is on the left wing of the political spectrum. It might motivate them to read some of the aforementioned books and join our ranks. Suggest this article to your friends.

Just to be clear, although I chose to pick, as examples, calamities felt under the present left-wing administration, I could enumerate similar catastrophes caused by right-wing administrations. The principles are the same. Freedom is an “all or none” issue. Just like electricity, it is either on or off. When freedom is OFF, slavery and its resultant calamities will multiply. When freedom is ON, peace and prosperity will reign. Just like you can’t mix poison with pure water and expect to get purity, you can’t mix slavery with freedom and call it freedom.

Perhaps this article has motivated some of you to be interested in my entire blog of articles. If so, go here. The page that opens contains 20 previous articles. If you scroll down to the bottom of that first page and click on “previous articles” it will take you to another page with many of my older articles.


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Two Realities

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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Dr. Imberman has written a fantastic Christmas song which he had professionally recorded as a demonstration record. He is looking for a publisher, or A & R man, or record producer to listen to his song. It deserves to be a permanent member of the lexicon of familiar and favorite Christmas songs. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.

Basically, there are two groups of people that exist in the world, when it comes to metaphysics and epistemology. The basic premises they maintain are at odds and determine how they conduct their lives and the conclusions they come to when it involves moral and political issues. They see reality differently—one hundred eighty degrees of difference. This is an attempt to verbalize those reality differences. Reality will dictate the outcome of the battle and a battle it is—an ideological battle. The lists below represent a general list of what most of each group believes. However, it stands to reason that one cannot predict the beliefs of any one individual of the group. I will call one group Non-Statists or Limited Statists and the other group Statists-Collectivists. It should be quite obvious that these opposite ideas demonstrate why there can never be compromise between them.

In reality, the two groups should be divided between Anarchists (Voluntaryists) and Statists but I have used a more general dividing line to give the Limited Statists the benefit of the doubt by categorizing them with the Non-Statists (Anarchists)

Non-Statists and Limited Statists

  1. Contradictions do not exist in reality
  2. Many things are absolute
  3. Some things are impossible
  4. Theft is the taking of property without the consent of the owner. There is no alternate definition.
  5. All opinions are not equally valid
  6. The law of supply and demand is an absolute, a Natural Law of Human Action
  7. Wishing, hoping, praying and a positive attitude cannot accomplish most things
  8. The knowledge of basic principles is paramount in order to solve problems on a consistent basis
  9. One man’s need does not constitute a moral obligation upon the actions of another
  10. One man’s need does not constitute a right to the property of another
  11. Truth exists
  12. The ends do not justify the means
  13. Like all things, Man has a Nature, which must be considered when trying to manipulate him
  14. Natural law cannot be violated without impunity
  15. Evil does exist
  16. Profit, to the highest degree, is good and necessary for a thriving nation
  17. There is nothing immoral about a person who has much abundance and wants more
  18. Calling slavery by another name will not change the meaning— will not make it freedom
  19. Redistribution of wealth falls under the definition of theft and therefore, is still theft
  20. Reality is an absolute and cannot be molded according to anyone’s desires
  21. Innovation, investment and production is the engine that creates jobs and prosperity
  22. Government handouts are not the way to end poverty
  23. Heroes: Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Ford, Rockefeller, Gates, Paine, Hayek, von Mises, Bastiat, Rothbard, Rand, Galambos, Snelson, Pugsley, Paterson, Newton, Faraday, Bell, Tesla, Westinghouse, Whitney, Fulton 
  24. Freedom is a primary and necessary goal towards attaining a lasting, prosperous, secure civilization

Statists-Collectivists-Progressives

  1. Contradictions do exist in reality
  2. Everything is relative
  3. Nothing is impossible (Anything is possible)
  4. Theft is involuntary servitude but involuntary redistribution of another’s property is not theft
  5. All opinions are equally valid
  6. The law of supply and demand is an artificial construct
  7. Wishing, hoping, praying, and a positive attitude can accomplish most things
  8. Understanding and applying basic principles is an ivory tower waste of time and can be discarded with impunity
  9. One man’s need does constitute a moral obligation upon the actions of another
  10. One man’s need does constitute a right to the property of another
  11. There is no such thing as truth since everything is relative.
  12. The ends justify the means
  13. Man has no Nature. He can be manipulated without negative consequences
  14. Natural law can be violated without impunity
  15. One man’s evil is another man’s good
  16. Most profit is evil and must be regulated
  17. The needs of the individual must be sacrificed to the needs of the many
  18. Any person who has much abundance and desires more is greedy and/or evil
  19. Taxation is the coercive taking of property, but it is not theft. It is simply necessary in order to redistribute wealth
  20. Calling slavery by another name will make it non-slavery
  21. Calling theft by another name will make it non-theft.
  22. Consistency does not matter
  23. Reality is not an absolute and can be molded according to one’s desires. One way of molding reality is by changing the names given to concepts
  24. Government is the engine that creates jobs and prosperity
  25. Government handouts is the way to end poverty
  26. Heroes: Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Black Panthers, New Black Panthers, Sinclair Lewis, Charles Dickens, George Bernard Shaw, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Chavez, FDR, Pelosi, Obama, Schumer, Holder, Reid, FDR, Lyndon Johnson, Clinton
  27. Freedom is an arbitrary construct made up by those who have and want to manipulate those who have not. It should be ignored. It is an unworthy goal.
  28. Equality is the primary goal of a civilization

The Republicans, conservatives and limited statists preach items 1-24 but betray those principles when it comes to practice. Although the limited statists betray those principles the least, it makes all of them inconsistent hypocrites.

The Democrats, liberals, collectivists and progressives preach items A-AB and actually live them through their legislative preferences. That makes them consistent enslavers, either Fascist-style or Communist-style.

Note: It is evident that there cannot be compromise between the two groups. Both sides believe that compromise would eventually spell the end of civilization. Since all opinions are not equally valid, you decide which side is closer to the truth.


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The Great Salt Solution

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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Dr. Imberman has written a fantastic Christmas song which he had professionally recorded as a demonstration record. He is looking for a publisher, or A & R man, or record producer to listen to his song. It deserves to be a permanent member of the lexicon of familiar and favorite Christmas songs. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.

Let’s create a new society from scratch starting with a basic agreement that theft, fraud, kidnapping or any form of coercion is a crime and will not be tolerated. In fact, the citizens correctly define freedom as the absence of coercion. When a coercive act occurs, the person against whom that act has been perpetrated can be said to have lost his/her freedom, until restitution has occurred. The perp has, in effect, enslaved the victim.

As the coercion-free society develops, prosperity and abundance prevail. Businesses develop and flourish. It’s a win-win arrangement. It is a society in harmony.

Multiple businesses supplying the same product also develop naturally. Let’s suppose that 10 salt-producing companies exist at the same time, competing with each other for the consumer’s dollars, thus keeping the price of salt at a level that the consumer can afford. Suddenly some natural disaster occurs that affects the output of 25% of the salt companies thus reducing the supply of available salt. Naturally, the price of salt will rise. As the price of salt rises, the citizens complain about the high price of salt and want the authorities (government) to do something about it in spite of the agreement that coercion will not be tolerated. So the authorities (government) make one exception to the rule, with the approval of all. What can the government do about the situation? Think about it. Suppose you and you alone have the power to fix the situation. What would you do?

Let’s solve the problem using the age-old method. Let’s pass a law (coercion) that fixes the price of salt at a low price, so as to make salt available to all, not just to those who can afford the new high prices. It is a fact that not all companies produce their product at the high end of the profit stream. Some companies are marginal producers, meaning that the profits they earn allow them to barely survive. With a law coercing the marginal producers to charge a price that is lower than the market dictates, workers will have to be laid off and eventually those producers will go out of business, thus creating a further shortage of salt. The result was the exact opposite effect than the effect desired. The intention was to make salt more available to more people. However, the result will be that salt becomes less available. Besides creating unemployment to those who work for the businesses that have to close, let’s look at the various other companies and individuals involved in the eventual distribution of salt to the consumer, besides the salt-mining company.

They are, the miners, the companies that produce the equipment needed for the mining, the companies that transport the salt, and the stores that sell the salt. There are many others. The miners who work for the marginal producers that go out of business also go out of business—they become unemployed. The equipment companies have lost some of their salt-mining customers, so some of them go out of business, so that the remaining equipment companies raise their prices as a result of the reduced competition. The trucking companies have less salt to transport so that they must raise their prices, etc. Historically, the government then proceeds to pass another law, once again, to make salt cheap and available to all. They place a price control upon the price that the trucking company charges. This puts the marginal truckers out of business, thus making transportation of salt less available and thus making salt less available. What happens next is typical. Secret salt-producing companies emerge and sell salt to those people who are willing to pay a higher price just to get the salt. It is called “black market salt.” Notice that the “black market” in salt is just the natural, moral free market solution in response to immoral, coercive government action.

This is just a small example of the vital interconnection and interdependence of the various transactions in a society. The law of government coercion states that whenever the government interferes with financial market transactions, the result is the opposite of what was intended, which is commonly known as “the law of unintended consequences.” As you can see in our example, the problem doesn’t end there unless the original coercive law is repealed immediately. We now have converted a previously harmonious society into a society in conflict.

What would have happened if, in spite of the clamor for the government to do something about the rise in salt prices, the government did nothing? Leaving well enough alone, there would have been a short duration of time when the price of salt was higher than before the disaster. As salt production became more and more profitable again, other salt producers would come into being so that the new competition would once again stabilize the price of salt so that it would become affordable to most people. Problem solved without coercion, without disruption of the entire economic structure of the country, without contention. The following is an actual historical example of this principle in action:

In Poland, in1990, Solidarity leaders who had recently thrown off the yoke of Soviet domination, attempted to convert their nation to a market economy in a matter of months. The Polish finance minister, an economist named Leszek Balcerowicz, introduced free-market reforms and waited anxiously as food prices soared. Advised to monitor a single commodity, Balcerowicz each morning checked the prices of eggs at a local market. Eggs got steeply more expensive for weeks—during which time Balcerowicz was pilloried by a populace that had known only the depressed food prices and the depressed wages of communist rule—but then farmers and merchants, attracted by the higher prices, began making their way in from the countryside to the markets. Prices leveled off by the end of the month and in some areas soon declined. Poland’s agonizing period of 17,000-percent hyperinflation ended, and a lasting transition from command-and-control to a market economy was under way. (Excerpt from page 183 of The Science of Liberty by Timothy Ferris.)

In 1848, Fredric Bastiat wrote in The Law, that whenever an unjust law is passed, repeal it immediately, or else it will become an accepted part of the system, leading to further injustices and reprisals.

Today we are witnessing the devastating effects of the thousands and thousands of price controls, wage controls, rent controls and other regulations that have passed into law over the past 120 or more years, starting perhaps with the first anti-trust laws. The majority of citizens know nothing about the retrogressive domino effects of price controls and other regulations, so they constantly call for further controls whenever they are dissatisfied with anything. The government representatives, whether or not they are familiar with these retrogressive domino effects, don’t care, since their goal is to be re-elected, not to serve justice.

Let’s serve economic stability, justice, peace and harmony by calling for the repeal of all of the governmental controls in our lives. Better yet, let’s peacefully eliminate the State.


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To Atheist Liberals

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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Dr. Imberman has written a fantastic Christmas song which he had professionally recorded as a demonstration record. He is looking for a publisher, or A & R man, or record producer to listen to his song. It deserves to be a permanent member of the lexicon of familiar and favorite Christmas songs. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.

Faith is the acceptance of an idea based upon the absence of proof or in spite of evidence or reason to the contrary. Therefore, to hold the position that there is faith in reason is a contradiction in terms.

Atheists come from all walks of life and from all sides of the political spectrum, but what we have in common is a commitment to reason. Our atheistic belief is based upon the fact that all explanations for the belief in the existence of any god has, under careful analysis, proved to be pure sophistry. Atheism, The Case Against God, by George Smith, covers the false reasoning offered by scholars who have tried, but failed to prove the existence of a deity. As such, theists are left with “faith” as a substitute explanation for their belief. They claim that faith is a legitimate alternate explanation for their belief and proceed to close the book on the subject. George Smith, in his brilliant criticism of the explanations offered by theists for their beliefs, proves that there is no valid reason to accept any of the propositions for any theistic belief. In doing so, he offers much more than a justification for the atheist position. He establishes a hierarchy of reason, from the ground up, for the construction of an edifice of rational thinking in all fields of knowledge, including the field of politics. The same principles apply.

Let’s switch the subject of rational inquiry from religion, to the subject of rational inquiry into politics and apply those same principles. As a matter of common sense, political conclusions should require the same hierarchical structure in order to come to all rational conclusions. In other words, one’s political ideology must be consistent with natural law, the nature of man, and the rules of logic. Political ideology must start from the ground up and contain no contradictions. In the absence of such a structure, there is nothing left upon which to build a political ideology, except “faith”. I have never heard a liberal defend his/her ideology based upon a rational hierarchy, or in other words, reason. With them it’s all faith in their emotions.

Of course, everyone has a right to one’s own opinion. But an opinion is just that—an opinion. Not all opinions are correct. But, when an incorrect opinion is converted to action and coerced upon an entire populace by government, it becomes a major disaster. For example, liberals and many conservatives believe that their desire to take my property by force (law) and give it to someone else, to whom it does not belong, is just as valid as my belief to want to keep my property. They are two opposing opinions. Can both of them be correct? Ask a liberal why his opinion is right and his answer is, “because that is what I believe and I am entitled to my opinion.” He may even claim that “it is the law and therefore it is right for the government to expropriate a person’s property for the good of society.” Such statements are not arguments that establish the validity of their positions. It’s like a child who uses “because” as his reason for his argument with another child. Even most conservatives are politically religious, meaning that they accept not only their religious beliefs on faith but also accept their conservative political beliefs on faith. I recently asked an intelligent staunch conservative to explain the proper function of government. The answer was that it is government’s function to “serve the people.” I asked her “what if the people want the government to serve them free medical care?” My question stopped her dead in her tracks since she has always been adamantly against socialized (government-run or regulated) medicine. It was at that moment that she realized that she too never thought about the subject and had no reason for her answer. She is religious, theologically and politically. At least she recognized her dilemma.

Since I have never heard a liberal make a structured presentation to justify his/her position, I submit that all of my atheist friends who are liberals, overlook the fact that their political Statist positions are based upon faith, even though their atheistic beliefs may be based upon reason. Of course, there are many theistic liberals. Their theistic belief is based upon faith, as are all theistic beliefs. Such liberals use the same method in arriving at their political beliefs—faith. However, I am addressing this article only to liberals who claim to be atheists because they have a starting point on which to construct their ideology. There is some hope for them. That starting point should be based upon the same intellectual tools they use to refute those arguments that claim to prove the existence of a deity.

Atheists who are liberals take notice! When you discuss political ideology with non-liberals do you present them with a step-by-step, logically built organized system for your political beliefs? Do you discuss the proper function of government from the ground up? Do you define your terms? If you do, are the definitions consistent with each other? Is there an epistemological structure to your beliefs starting with basic premises and principles of reality? From my own experience I know you prefer to discuss the issues and statistics. You do so because that is all you have with which to deal. You become experts on the issues and statistics. Abstract ideas don’t seem to matter. The entire liberal political system is infantile. Liberals defend their childlike desires, whims and hopes with such emotional zeal that they overlook the contradiction inherent in their method. They are political mystics just as much as theists are theological mystics. Liberalism, based upon dogmatic faith is just as much a religion to a liberal as dogmatic faith is to the religion of theists.

If there is a liberal who claims that there already exists a published ideological, well-structured, liberal system of government, and quotes The Communist Manifesto as his example, I challenge him to prove the validity of the premises and concepts in that tome. In fact, I imagine that only dyed-in-the-wool Communists would dare to even mention such a monstrous obsolete treatise in this day and age. I offer as support for my position, books such as The Law by Frederic Bastiat, Restoring The American Dream by Robert Ringer, The Ethics of Liberty by Murray Rothbard, Liberty, A Path To Its Recovery by F.A. Harper, Libertarianism by John Hospers, The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek and most importantly, course V-50 by Jay S. Snelson.

Do you hear me my liberal-atheistic friends? Can you meet the challenge? Build me a system based upon reason that justifies the theft, kidnapping, extortion, corruption, coercion and fraud perpetrated by your government and supported by the liberal masses that voted for that government. Stop adding insult to injury by insisting that it is not theft, kidnapping, extortion, corruption, coercion and fraud that you are advocating. Stop conveniently finding other euphemisms to describe the criminal activities by government that you sanction and condone. Demystify your political beliefs. Abandon your faith-based political beliefs just as you have rejected the faith-based religious beliefs of theists.


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The Social Liberal vs. the Fiscal Conservative, Contradiction

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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Dr. Imberman has written a fantastic Christmas song which he had professionally recorded as a demonstration record. He is looking for a publisher, or A & R man, or record producer to listen to his song. It deserves to be a permanent member of the lexicon of familiar and favorite Christmas songs. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.

Note by the author of this column: I picked up this article a few years ago but I neglected to record the source, so I used the word “anonymous” to attribute the author. The reader may therefore take the following article with a grain of salt. However, it is a lesson of great significance because I know through conversations with many liberals that this article is representative of the thinking of most liberals. Any liberals who read this article written by one of their own kind should recognize themselves. The anonymous liberal author wrote as follows:

For many years, as a young man, I subscribed to the idea that I was a social liberal, while at the same time, a fiscal conservative. Recently, I decided to analyze what those words meant. After all, words do have meaning.

As a social liberal I favored such issues as welfare and food stamps, government-run education, rent control, price control, wage control, government regulation of industry, social security, Medicare and socialized medicine in general. In short, I favored most of those programs that were favored by socialists and the Democratic Party.

As a fiscal conservative I championed such issues as low taxes, a balanced budget, low or no deficit spending, low or no inflation, full employment, and economic stability. In short, I favored most of those programs that were favored by the Republican Party.

It was always my contention America would be a safe, secure, prosperous and harmonious nation with the passage of liberal social programs along with fiscal conservative programs.

Recently I started thinking about the following. There are a few well-accepted and correct axioms in the field of logic that are apropos. The first is that contradictions can exist in one’s mind but they do not exist in reality. In fact, by definition, a contradiction is proof that one of two opposite beliefs cannot be true at the same time. By definition, the existence of a contradiction shows that something is impossible. The old cliché that “nothing is impossible” is incorrect. Some things are impossible. Coming to the conclusion that one is holding to a contradiction is man’s method of correcting himself from false reasoning and false beliefs. That idea, along with the syllogism is the most useful intellectual tool available to the human mind.

Another well-founded axiom is that “something cannot be gotten for nothing.” This means that whenever something of value is created, someone has to exert the energy and/or finances to make it possible. In fact, even the attainment of financing is the result of the expenditure of energy so that it all boils down to the expenditure of human energy. Values do not suddenly appear out of thin air. (We must even expend our own energy in order to gain the value of inspiring oxygen into our lungs.) That is why the axiom, “there is no such thing as a free lunch” is a well-accepted expression. It is true that someone other than the creator of the value can get something for nothing, but someone must produce it before it can be consumed or obtained.

With the foregoing in mind, I realized that I was maintaining many contradictions in my thinking. So I finally reasoned that I couldn’t be in favor of all of the issues in my liberal portfolio, while at the same time, profess to be a fiscal conservative? All of the social programs that I favor must be paid for, since they don’t just appear out of thin air. These social programs must be financed out of the pockets of those who have expended their energy in earning a living, whether they approve of those programs or not.

As a social liberal, I now think about any issue in which I believe people should have free choice. For example, I believe that people should be free to choose what store they shop in or what automobile to purchase or what movie to see or whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. However, I seem to be against the issue of free choice in other areas. For example, I believe that I am against free choice when it involves what wage an entrepreneur may offer to a worker or what rent a landlord may charge to a tenant, or what price a producer can charge for his products or which doctor one can choose? Having freedom of action by permission is a contradiction in the use of the term “free choice.” No one can escape the fact that contradictions do not exist in reality.

I can no longer champion low taxes, a balanced budget, low or no deficit spending, low or no inflation, full employment, and economic stability while at the same time, favoring all of our liberal social programs, for it is an attempt to make the impossible work. It is true that one can believe it in one’s own mind, but it is impossible in reality. One cannot eat his cake and still have it.

In reality, we liberals who profess to be fiscal conservatives are just dye–in-the-wool liberals on all issues, whether they are social or fiscal issues. What we really mean by the term “fiscally conservative” is that we want our politicians to spend responsibly and such a desire makes us fiscal conservatives. However, just because we characterize ourselves as fiscal conservatives does not make us fiscal conservatives in practice. Whenever we champion new social programs or expanding already-existing social programs, we are not being fiscally conservative since all that expansion necessitates more spending, more debt, higher deficits or more printing of money—not less.

We know from past experience that politicians cannot spend responsibly. Deficits and debts always increase, and in the long run prices increase due to wayward printing of money by government. Excessive printing of money hides the fact that another tax has been inflicted upon the unwary citizen. Economic instability is forever threatening while at the same time our liberal profligate social programs are running wild, and the very existence of our entire society is being threatened. We liberals think that the only way to place our country on the right track is to pass more social legislation to improve the chaos that the original programs created. But that is an example of a contradiction squared. Whenever individuals or entire societies ignore their contradictions, things fall apart. It is Mother Nature’s method of punishing us for ignoring her laws. The solution does not involve doing more of the same. One of the humorous definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get a different result. So what are we liberals supposed to do with this information? What are our choices?

1. We can stop fooling ourselves and remain social liberals and admit that, by definition, we are really fiscal liberals too, since we want to continue to spend more and more on social liberal programs while at the same time raise taxes, print more money when the taxes are not enough to sustain our recommended spending, and borrow more money at the same time. We know that all such fiscal liberalism raises the national debt, devalues our money, raises the deficit and creates general hardships and chaos all around.

2. We can become consistent fiscal and social conservatives across the board or even libertarians or voluntarists.

3. We can continue fooling ourselves, and hope that suddenly Nature will reverse her Laws and make contradictions exist in reality and ignore the consequences of such activities. In that way we can assuage our consciences and at least feel proud, while the country veers toward a precipice of destruction. We get to feel good in trying to help those who are less fortunate than us, while totally ignoring the pro-liberal policies that created the circumstances that made them less fortunate in the first place. After all, it is the intention and the good feelings that matters, not the results. Our entire Democratic Party Platform rests on those “good feelings.” That is why we are commonly called “bleeding heart liberals”, an appellation of which I am proud. (If it is the results that are important then we must convert to the libertarian or voluntarism camp).

I recently brought this realization to the attention of a fellow social liberal who claimed to also be a fiscal conservative, like I. When I mentioned that he was espousing a contradiction, he admitted that he realized that fact. His response was, “so what”.

Self-delusion is one of the most destructive forces of the human mind. One might as well call a tree an automobile but once you try to drive that tree, you’ll find out the truth. Once something is known to be true, the truth of it cannot really be avoided unless one had a mental disease. Self-delusion is a mental disease.

As an individual who grew up in New York City, who came from an FDR-loving background, I am willing to sacrifice the contradiction concept to the idea that we are the good guys who are trying to help the “little guy”. How can I do otherwise? How can I give up a lifetime of dedication to liberal ideals simply because I now realize the numerous contradictions I support.

I have solved my dilemma. I am proud of my good intentions. My concern for the “little guy”, the underdog and the underprivileged should not motivate me to abandon those concerns simply because I know that contradictions cannot exist in reality and in spite of the fact that I understand the dire consequences of ignoring it. I too say, “so what”. I’ll stick to my mental disease.


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