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My Political Objectives

A month ago I shared my result of "The Political Objectives Test" by Hello Quizzy. I was branded an "anarchist" with the summary beginning with this very true statement, "Liberty is so overwhelmingly important to you that you wish to eliminate anything that can interfere with it." I found the test to be rather helpful in contrasting my views with others on the various topics it questioned me about. For that I wanted to present the questions here with emphasis (underlined) on the statements I selected, followed by some commentary and resources. continue reading

The Destruction of Libertarian Ideology

A few of my ideological mentors over the years have written or spoken recently on the idea of open borders, condemning the idea as not only anti-libertarian, but also dangerous and destructive. It pains me to think these mentors of mine as being so wrong on this question, but alas that's what they are. In fact, the argument they employ would destroy libertarian ideology completely if taken to its logical conclusion. continue reading

What is Boredom, Why Do We Want It, How Can We Cure It, and Why Do We Quit Things?

My son comes to me about once a month complaining of boredom. I remember feeling this way when I was his age, and of course I've felt this way as an adult. After this last instance, I become a bit more thoughtful and began wondering where boredom comes from, why it exists. The world is full of amazing things, and as unschoolers my son has complete control over his time and what he does with it. Talking through this with my wife I made a few interesting realizations, which I'll get to. But first, why the boredom? Here's my theory: boredom is the absence of felt uneasiness. continue reading

Who Benefits From Upper Class Wealth?

Many a social democrat and left anarchist decry the existence of wealth inequality, considering it evidence that a crime somewhere, some time has been committed, and that justice must be made through violent confiscatory and re-distributive government programs. To them such is perfectly just because it is the righting of a wrong. The state is a tool that may used in this way, just as for small government libertarians it may be used in self-defense. This is a type of self-defense by the have-nots against the haves. It make me wonder, however, just how beneficial wealth is to the haves, and even to the have-notes? Let us count the ways. continue reading

More Power, Less Liberty

Send him mail. “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” is an original column appearing sporadically at Everything-Voluntary.com, by the founder and editor Skyler J. Collins. Archived columns can be found here. OVP-only RSS feed available here. (Originally written in May of 2012.) I had some thoughts on something that I thought I’d put down here. Though people, especially young people, are becoming libertarians in great numbers, it seems that most people are quite comfortable with the size and scope of the myriad levels of government they are subjects of. And I think this has to do with a confusion people have between power and liberty. Let me explain.Since the secession from Great Britain and the founding of the United States, the US federal government has usurped all sorts of powers and grown to never before seen or imagined size and complexity. In other words, liberty has slowly, and at times very quickly, declined. But I don’t think it’s commonly felt. And I think the reason is because of the growth in power that the average America has. What I mean by power is personal power. Power to move, to do, to be what someone wants to be. We can travel anywhere in the world in hours, send a message anywhere in seconds, and meet someone in real-time thousands of miles a way. The power we have in these regards is a million times greater than even the generation before us had when they were our age. It’s almost unbelievable until you understand how the technology works. Most people don’t try to start their own business, so they don’t now how onerous and costly government requirements can be. Most people budget themselves based on after-tax paycheck, so they don’t see and feel the sting of income and payroll taxation. Most people don’t care to consume illegal drugs. And a growing number of people don’t even produce anything of real value to others, as they work for the administration and maintenance of government. But what they all have in common is the greater and greater power they wield in their day to day lives, thanks to the growing technology industry. So long as living and their pursuit of happiness continues to get easier and easier, I don’t think people will truly realize all of the freedoms and liberties they have lost. I’m not bemoaning technological progress. I love it, as anyone does. What I’m bemoaning is the lack of understanding in society to our politically depressing state. However, there is a silver lining. That silver lining is what power that technological progress gives to someone to ignore or bypass their government. The Internet is a wonderful example. People can trade on the Internet for all sorts of legal and illegal products and services, with legal and illegal currencies, and many aren’t forced to pay tax. They can even trade “dangerous” ideas, the biggest threat to government. This is technological progress usurping government power. So while technological progress may be blinding people to the liberties they’ve... continue reading

We All Acknowledge Rights

Send him mail. “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” is an original column appearing sporadically at Everything-Voluntary.com, by the founder and editor Skyler J. Collins. Archived columns can be found here. OVP-only RSS feed available here. I wanted to provide some more clarification on my recent writings on the concept of rights. I wrote in “On Rights II” that it has become fashionable among libertarians, et al, to proclaim that rights don’t actually exist – as if it were some sort of great advancement in thinking –  and that such libertarians contradicted their proclamation in their very behavior. In “Rights Don’t Exist? Bitch, Please” I expanded on that idea by first explaining the two perceptions of rights, followed by how our behavior shouts a belief in rights from either perspective. (And further, but unrelated to the rest of this essay, that rights exist as a mental construction with effects in the physical world.) But what I didn’t really do was define the concept of rights. Some of the push back I received focused on this. I realized at the time that defining “rights” was very difficult if one wanted to avoid presupposing a universal conception of either morality or justice. But I think I’ve solved this problem and in doing so have found a way to make my argument, as linked in the two essays above, more clear, and maybe more defensible.So what are rights? First we should distinguish between certain types of rights. Some rights are explicitly agreed to by the relevant parties. These I would call contractual rights. We each agree to do or to give something to each other, and so based on the conditions to the agreement being met, we each obtain certain rights to each other’s stuff. Other rights are one-sided, as in my giving my children permission to use my tech and to eat my food. Some would call these privileges, and they are, but while the privilege is in effect, my children have been granted the right to use or consume my stuff. Other rights are those which people simply claim out of thin air, however defensible they are, such as the right to life or to work or to keep your stuff or to take the stuff of others. And still other rights are those granted by ones calling themselves “authority” in a given area, ie. legal rights. Many are the types of rights that have been claimed on one basis or another throughout the history of not only mankind, but of most life, I’d say. (Animals defend their territories, too, after all. As do some plants.) Those are types of rights, and there may be more that I didn’t mention, but the question remains, what are rights? What every type of right above has in common is the limiting or liberating of the behavior of people. So I think that’s the best way to define rights, keeping in mind that every right can be viewed from two perspectives, positive and negative. “Rights,” therefore, is shorthand, as... continue reading

Rights Don’t Exist? Bitch, Please

Send him mail. “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” is an original column appearing sporadically at Everything-Voluntary.com, by the founder and editor Skyler J. Collins. Archived columns can be found here. OVP-only RSS feed available here. There are two ways to perceive rights, two perspectives, like looking at the concept from one direction and then another: positive and negative. Both are essentially limits on behavior. The positive: I have a right to life. The negative: Others have no right to kill me. Both perspectives are inseparable from the right in question. When one uses the language of one perspective, they are simultaneously using the language of the other. This language is not limited to the verbal. Our behavior also has language. What we do with ourselves, our actions, our behavior, says something to the world about who we are and what we believe. Our verbal language may contradict our behavioral language, though. In the case of saying “Rights don’t exist,” those who say this are contradicted by their behavior.How? Because their behavior shouts “I have these rights!” If they defend themselves in an attack, their behavior is shouting, “I have a right to be left alone!” and “You don’t have the right to attack me!” and “I have the right to enforce my subjective preference of avoiding harmful interactions!” and probably countless other claims. If the person truly did not believe in rights, then he would not defend himself from attack. That he does proves that he believes he may justifiably limit the behavior of his attacker. Other behaviors, I think all behaviors, likewise shout “I have these rights!” To go deeper, as I hope is obvious, rights are a mental construct. When they are rights that we claim either verbally or behaviorally, they are an individual mental construct. When they are rights that we agree on with other people, they are a social mental construct. Either way, to Acting Man, they exist in the mind and guide and limit his behavior. Even Acting Wolf claims rights when he defends himself, his pups, his territory. Rights are a mental construct, yes, but they are very real in the sense that they guide real people and real actions, even of those who verbally deny them. I see no point in shouting or arguing “Rights don’t exist!” Not only is it to contradict one’s behavioral language, but it serves no purpose. Rights do exist in the way explained above. It is far more effective to tease out what people verbally or behaviorally claim are their rights. Show people both perspectives, positive and negative. Usually when seeing what they claim is a right from the negative perspective, its true colors as something insidious like slavery or murder are revealed. Then they change their minds because slavery or murder are contrary to the values they hold. Their belief in rights is too deeply ingrained in who they are as a human being to be persuaded with a verbal claim that contradicts theirs and everyone else’s behavior. But... continue reading