Editor’s Break 115 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: resources and scarcity; the purpose of property rights; ideas as patterns of information; the attempt to apply property rights to non-scarce ideas in the forms of copyright and patent; why intellectual property makes everyone a thief; how intellectual property rights necessarily violate material property rights; the argument that copying ideas is to steal future profits; and more.Continue Reading
December 2018: I read this essay and added commentary for Editor’s Break 119 of the EVC podcast.
Ours is a world filled with organized crime, you may call them “governments.” These governments often, in their quest to legitimize and maintain their rule, offer benefits back to those they victimize on a continual basis. Some governments offer more than others. The United States government, and its many smaller federated governments, have created many different benefit programs for those it considers its citizens, and otherwise.
The funds for these public benefits programs ultimately come from citizens and residents. When people from other parts of the world move into the United States, they have more or less the opportunity to obtain these public benefits for themselves. If too many people move into the United States and exploit these public benefits (and eventually vote for more of them), this will have the very real effect of bankrupting governments if they don’t act to either limit public benefits or increase revenue generation, such as by what is euphemistically called “taxation.”
What’s a voluntaryist, who is a person who recognizes the criminal nature of governments, to do about the problem of immigrants exploiting public benefits? There are several possible solutions to this problem, many of which are consistent with the voluntary principle, that all human relations should happen voluntarily, or not at all, and many of which are not. As a voluntaryist, I do not care to consider or defend solutions that require the violation of the voluntary principle. Here are some which qualify as anti-voluntaryist:
- Having governments maintain or increase its crime against its citizens in order to fund the building of a wall or other technological barriers to immigrant entry.
- Having governments repel peaceful immigrants by the threat and use of violence.
- Having governments increase its surveillance of its citizens in order to monitor for their aiding and abetting of unwelcome immigrants.
- Having governments coercively interfere with its citizens voluntarily trading with unwelcome immigrants.
I could go on, but I’m sure that’s sufficient to give you an idea of the sorts of solutions that government brings to the problem of public benefits to immigrants. None of these obviously coercive and aggressive solutions appeal to me, nor are any of them compatible with my principles as a voluntaryist. All of them are totally unjust and necessarily violent against peaceful people. So what can be done about this problem? Here are some solutions which are compatible with the voluntary principle:
- Having governments severely limit or abolish its public benefits programs. No public benefits, nothing for immigrants to exploit.
- Having governments reduce its aggression against free markets and free trade with people in other places around the world. This would increase the economic opportunities for would-be immigrants at home, decreasing their incentive to leave.
- Having governments abolish their wars on drugs and other illicit trades. These policies have had major negative effects on poorer places around the world.
- Having governments end their foreign wars and occupations. These interventions have had major negative effects on poorer places around the world.
- Having governments abolish gun control so that its citizens have the legal right to defend themselves from attacks by unsavory immigrants.
- Having interested parties form voluntary education centers to expose immigrants to voluntaryist thought.
- Having interested parties open their homes, churches, and community centers to immigrants for the purpose of befriending them and showing them how to survive in their new land without the need to exploit public benefits.
I’m sure if you really put your mind to it, you too could discover all sorts of peaceful solutions to this problem. It’s not difficult. At some point, however, you will realize that your enemy is not the poor immigrant trying to find a better life for himself and his family. Your enemy is organized crime, government. Should those who value peace, liberty, and justice pray to their enemy to coercively protect them from the non-enemies their enemy has incentivized in the first place? Seems stupid to me.Continue Reading
Every parent knows the difference a year makes in the development and maturity of a young child. A one-year-old is barely walking while a two-year-old gleefully sprints away from you. A four-year-old is always moving, always imagining, always asking why, while a five-year-old may start to sit and listen for longer stretches.
Growing Expectations vs. Human Behavior
Children haven’t changed, but our expectations of their behavior have. In just one generation, children are going to school at younger and younger ages, and are spending more time in school than ever before. They are increasingly required to learn academic content at an early age that may be well above their developmental capability.
In 1998, 31 percent of teachers expected children to learn to read in kindergarten. In 2010, 80 percent of teachers expected this. Now, children are expected to read in kindergarten and to become proficient readers soon after, despite research showing that pushing early literacy can do more harm than good.
In their report Reading in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose education professor Nancy Carlsson-Paige and her colleagues warn about the hazards of early reading instruction. They write,
When children have educational experiences that are not geared to their developmental level or in tune with their learning needs and cultures, it can cause them great harm, including feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and confusion.
Hate The Player, Love the Game
Instead of recognizing that schooling is the problem, we blame the kids. Today, children who are not reading by a contrived endpoint are regularly labeled with a reading delay and prescribed various interventions to help them catch up to the pack. In school, all must be the same. If they are not listening to the teacher, and are spending too much time daydreaming or squirming in their seats, young children often earn an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) label and, with striking frequency, are administered potent psychotropic medications.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 11 percent of children ages four to seventeen have been diagnosed with ADHD, and that number increased 42 percent from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012, with a majority of those diagnosed placed on medication. Perhaps more troubling, one-third of these diagnoses occur in children under age six.
It should be no surprise that as we place young children in artificial learning environments, separated from their family for long lengths of time, and expect them to comply with a standardized, test-driven curriculum, it will be too much for many of them.
New findings by Harvard Medical School researchers confirm that it’s not the children who are failing, it’s the schools we place them in too early. These researchers discovered that children who start school as among the youngest in their grade have a much greater likelihood of getting an ADHD diagnosis than older children in their grade. In fact, for the U.S. states studied with a September 1st enrollment cut-off date, children born in August were 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than their older peers.
The study’s lead researcher at Harvard, Timothy Layton, concludes: “Our findings suggest the possibility that large numbers of kids are being overdiagnosed and overtreated for ADHD because they happen to be relatively immature compared to their older classmates in the early years of elementary school.”
This Should Come as No Surprise
Parents don’t need Harvard researchers to tell them that a child who just turned five is quite different developmentally from a child who is about to turn six. Instead, parents need to be empowered to challenge government schooling motives and mandates, and to opt-out.
As universal government preschool programs gain traction, delaying schooling or opting out entirely can be increasingly difficult for parents. Iowa, for example, recently lowered its compulsory schooling age to four-year-olds enrolled in a government preschool program.
As New York City expands its universal pre-K program to all of the city’s three-year-olds, will compulsory schooling laws for preschoolers follow? On Monday, the New York City Department of Education issued a white paper detailing a “birth-to-five system of early care and education,” granting more power to government officials to direct early childhood learning and development.
As schooling becomes more rigid and consumes more of childhood, it is causing increasing harm to children. Many of them are unable to meet unrealistic academic and behavioral expectations at such a young age, and they are being labeled with and medicated for delays and disorders that often only exist within a schooled context. Parents should push back against this alarming trend by holding onto their kids longer or opting out of forced schooling altogether.Continue Reading
In late November, Democratic members of the US House of Representatives met to begin choosing their leadership for the 116th Congress, which convenes on January 3.
The party’s endorsed candidate — although not a shoo-in — for Speaker of the House is former House Speaker (until her party lost the chamber in 2010) and current Minority Leader (since then), 78-year-old Nancy Pelosi of California, in Congress since 1987.
The incoming Majority Leader is former Majority Leader (until his party lost the chamber in 2010) and current Minority Whip (since then), Maryland’s 79-year-old Steny Hoyer, in Congress since 1981.
The incoming Minority Whip is former Minority Whip (until his party lost the chamber in 2010) and current Assistant Minority Leader (since then), 78-year-old South Carolinian Jim Clyburn, in Congress since 1993.
Notice a trend? House Democrats are raiding the Smithsonian’s dinosaur exhibits to fill their leadership positions. They’re tapping some younger faces for a few less powerful leadership positions, but the old guard — the politicians who lost Congress in 2010 — are simply stepping back into power as if the last eight years never happened.
But those eight years DID happen, and to the extent that Democratic gains in the House can be ascribed to a “blue wave” in last month’s midterms, said “wave” was as much a response to the abject failure of the Democratic Party’s leadership during those eight years as a reaction to Republican misrule and the ascent of Donald Trump.
These are the same party leaders who relentlessly pushed Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign on a party rank and file who had begun taking a serious look to the left, arguably handing the White House to Trump two years ago.
These are the same party leaders who supported “middle of the road” establishment candidates in midterm primaries across the country versus a new crop of “democratic socialist,” or at least “progressive,” insurgents who did surprisingly well given that they had to fight their way past their own party’s establishment before confronting their Republican opponents.
As a partisan Libertarian, I’m not one to give ideological or policy advice to Democrats of either party faction. They believe what they believe, however wrong-headed those beliefs may be.
As an interested onlooker, however, I have to offer a strategic “is the party establishment nuts?” to this.
Given an opportunity — even arguably a mandate from their voters — to change things up, the party establishment is doing the same old thing again while apparently anticipating different results.
That approach doesn’t bode well for Democrats’ 2020 prospects in Congress or for the White House. It might, however, bode well for change and for freedom.
America’s two largest political parties are tearing themselves apart in different ways — the Republicans by abandoning any pretense of actually believing their own “smaller government” guff, the Democrats by refusing to drag themselves forward in time out of the Reagan era.
Perhaps voters will look to the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, or the Reform Party for the changes the dinosaur parties keep promising to give them and then failing to deliver.Continue Reading
After “Wilson” moved out of the house without heat, he and his elderly black chow (I’m blanking on the dog’s name) moved into a pop-up camper he had bought.
He moved it frequently to avoid “imperial entanglements”. This meant I saw him less often, and I don’t even know where he was parked most of the time. I never was invited out to his camper; he probably didn’t want anyone to know where he was parked. He was probably on Bureau of Land Management land– it was all around us and I knew several people who lived on it.
He still stopped by the shop in town to visit during working hours, or dropped by my campfire if I was home.
One day he came to the shop very agitated. Almost explosive with anger.
He told me he had gone out for a hike and when he returned he saw a couple of people fleeing his camper, which had been vandalized. All the canvas around the door had been shredded. He was really angry, and I was sympathetic. After all, it was his home. He wasn’t sure it could be (affordably and sufficiently) repaired. At least his dog was OK.
He was going to track the vandals down, and… what? I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be them. So with grim determination, he took off again.
I felt really bad about his situation, but he wasn’t usually open to accepting help.
I didn’t see him for a couple of days, but when I did he was acting strangely sheepish. He needed to tell me something, and I could tell it was really bothering him.
He made sure no one could hear us and admitted there had been no vandals. His chow had ripped up the canvas to escape the camper, possibly intending to follow him on his hike. The dog was old and arthritic, and he had left him behind so he could get where he was going faster, and with less trouble. The dog wasn’t too bright and constantly caused problems, on the trail and off. So the dog ripped up the canvas to escape, but ended up hanging around the camper anyway.
He seemed a little less excitable after this incident. I didn’t hold it against him, even though I didn’t really understand why he made up the story in the first place. That’s the only time I know of that he wasn’t truthful. This wasn’t too long before he vanished from the area without a word.Continue Reading
The Trump administration and its apologists are quick to point out that Barack Obama was as willing as Donald Trump himself to tear-gas desperate people trying to protect themselves by crossing America’s southern border. So he was, though many will refuse to believe it. Let’s not forget, after all, that Obama, like Trump, was willing to bomb men, women, and children in more than half a dozen Muslim countries.
But that raises an interesting question: if every horrible thing Trump has done so far was also done by Obama, why do Trump and his fans hate the former White House occupant so much? They ought to be praising Obama, who set records for deporting people and prosecuting whistle-blowers. If a then-deferential media establishment did not play up Obama’s brutality, that hardly makes what Trump is doing acceptable. So yeah, Trump is not the first monster to occupy the White House, not by a long shot. That doesn’t mean he’s less a monster. I suppose Trump could say that at least he’s gassing intact families instead of separating parents from their kids before doing the disgusting deed.
Frankly, I wondered how long it would be before Trump would turn on the gas. After all, lots of people are understandably fleeing terror states in Latin America — terror states the U.S. government helped to create beginning decades ago (including abominations by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) — and Trump has staked his political life on “securing the border,” which somehow is supposed to make “American great again.” So he had to be ready to poison “invading” children and their parents to keep them from entering and … asking for asylum! I’m sure some people inside and outside the administration are silently chiding Trump for using too mild a gas. (“Tear gas is for losers.”) They must be wondering what some of Trump’s authoritarian buddies in other countries would have done. Remember, National Review thinks Trump is too wimpy on immigration because during the presidential campaign he said he’d put a reentry door in his big, beautiful wall. NR needn’t have worried: nowadays Trump openly supports cutting legal immigration.
(Speaking of the U.S. government’s responsibility for creating conditions that people are now fleeing, I note that both Clinton and John Kerry, another Obama secretary of state who helped created chaos in the Middle East and Africa, are now saying, with apparently no sense of irony, that Europe must crack down on immigration to keep the rightwing at bay. I pray that hell has reserved a special place for those two.)
The Mexican authorities were of no help in the present situation. The group of migrants seeking to enter at San Ysidro, California, were reportedly peaceful until Mexican riot police interfered with their movement. “As frustrations grew, groups broke through the police cordon and tried to rush the fence on either side of the official crossing,” according to Vice. Before that, the crowd has been reciting, “We aren’t criminals! We are hard workers,” as they, Vice reports, “marched toward the border, calling for the right to asylum in the United States.” Then, according to AFP, “US agents fired tear gas and rubber bullets at hundreds of Central American migrants who climbed over a fence and attempted to rush the border from Tijuana, Mexico into the United States.”
This violence against innocent men, women, and children could have been avoided had the Mexican and American authorities worked together on an orderly entry procedure to enable the migrants to apply for asylum, as the U.S. government is obliged to do under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, or the 1951 Refugee Convention. (We’re seeing stories about migrants with serious health problems; the same was true when Ellis Island was booming, yet it stayed open. This is nothing that international humanitarian organizations couldn’t handle. The key is compassion and respect for individual rights.)
Trump probably wanted a confrontation because in his warped view it’s good for the country, not to mention to his ego and political fortunes. He can show what a tough guy he is, and that surely must impress some people.
Trump and his thugs — why do those people not quit their jobs? Have they no shame? — are committing gross violations of individual rights and outrageous offenses to basic decency. As Charles P. Pierce writes in Esquire, “The people at the border literally are running for their lives. The idea that the United States is now actively hostile to asylum seekers is a nasty throwback to the 1930s.”
Pierce continues his parallel with the turning away of Jews during the Nazi reign:
“The problem was that not enough people in America cared enough to understand why those Jews were fleeing, and from what they were fleeing in the first place. That is still the problem today. Radical Trumpists already are calling the weekend’s violence a successful repelling of a horde of ‘invaders,’ as though gassing shoeless toddlers was the equivalent of Charles Martel’s turning back the forces of the caliphate at Tours. That point of view will be taken immediately as the legitimate Other Side of the argument regarding using chemical weapons on impoverished children.
“These are people being told through violence that they have to return to the violence that drove them out of their countries in the first place. The ones with longer memories will recall the days when the United States used Honduras to initiate violence in Guatemala and El Salvador for the purpose of initiating it in Nicaragua. The younger ones will simply hate us. The Imperial Prerogative comes with some very heavy dues.”
We have no need to fear migration or refugees, but those who do fear them might start working to liquidate the American empire, for the chaos it has wreaked in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa is one of the great instigators of mass migration.Continue Reading