Stoicism, Schooling, Climate Change, & Elder Care (36m) – Editor’s Break 116

Editor’s Break 116 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: practicing the Stoic teaching of recognizing your own complicity in your emotional reactions to the speech of others; the insidious institution of schooling and its coercion and manipulation of children; how markets will respond to the grave and dire threat of climate change; the sad state of affairs in his culture toward care for the elderly; and more.

Listen to Editor’s Break 116 (36m, mp3, 64kbps)

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On Borders II

Government borders on a map were drawn arbitrarily as a result of violent conquest by people who make a living from robbing and murdering others. Should these sorts of borders be afforded any respect by people who claim as values peace, liberty, and justice? Only in the sense of risk mitigation. Otherwise, no, they are imaginary and represent most of what is wrong in the world today. They, like the criminal organizations that created them, should all be abolished. To pray, plea, and beg for these thugs to double-down on their encroachments in order to strengthen their borders in order to “pwotect us fwum thu scawy bwown peeple” that are only dying (literally) to get in due to these same thugs’ machinations is to be incredibly naive and and an ignorant halfwit at best. You are a goddamned fool to expect criminals to have your best interest at heart. And that’s today’s two cents.

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Why I am Grateful to George Herbert Walker Bush

Unless you live under a rock (and probably even if you do), you’ve noticed the death of George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st President of the United States, on November 30, at age 94.

You’ve probably also suffered through multiple personal remembrances of the man and his presidency — some positive, some negative, some mixed. Mine, which you may read below if you’re not already worn out on the topic, is of the latter variety.

I am grateful for Bush and for his presidency for two major and positive changes in my life for which he deserves at least partial credit (or, if you prefer, bears at least partial responsibility).

First, Bush made it inevitable that I would leave the armed forces rather than serving 20 years and retiring. He did so by kicking off a post-Cold-War round of cuts in military spending that continued into the Clinton era.

Those cuts, in addition to being a darn fine idea that I wish the current administration would emulate, led to a situation in which, instead of signing a new enlistment contract with the Marine Corps reserve, I received several six-month “extensions.” When I got tired of piles of new paperwork every six months, I took my honorable discharge (in 1995) and moved on to new and different pursuits. I did and do love the Marine Corps.  I suspect I love it more than I would have loved it if I’d remained in it into his son’s presidency. So thank you, President Bush.

Secondly, Bush’s presidency caused me to reconsider my (fairly short as such things go — I was young and still malleable) commitment to “conservatism” and to the Republican Party. It’s entirely possible that, had he not reneged on his “read my lips — no new taxes” pledge, I would have voted for him in 1992 and have remained a Republican voter to this day.

I told myself that if Bush kept his word on taxes, I’d support him for re-election; if he didn’t, I wouldn’t. He didn’t, and I didn’t … but I wasn’t going to vote for Bill Clinton, either. I carried ballot access petitions for, and voted for, Ross Perot in 1992. Then I conducted an agonizing reappraisal of my convictions and went looking for a movement and a party to match them. I became an ideological libertarian circa 1993 and a Libertarian Party member in 1996. So thank you again, President Bush.

American politics has changed since Bush’s presidency, and mostly not for the better. It seems reasonable to lay at least partial responsibility for some very bad things — in particular, the extension of his feud with Saddam Hussein into a series of foreign policy fiascoes that plague us to this day — at his feet. There were plenty of ugly things about the man and about his presidency, and I have no problem with those who ignore the old admonition to speak not ill of the dead.

But I’m still grateful to the president of my early adulthood for shaping my life in ways he almost certainly didn’t intend.

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On the Violence Inherent in Voting

At some time or another, we were all taught how government works. We learned about the three branches of government and their relationships to each other. We were also told that “we are government” since each citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote for a chosen candidate or on ballot initiatives.

That’s what we were taught.

What they didn’t tell us about was the deleterious effects of voting… the victims of voting. The fact that each voter puts their individual needs, opinions, and desires above, and to the detriment of, others.

The voter believes their actions to be benevolent or caring, but nothing could be further from the truth. Their acts of voting instead cause innocent people to be considered criminals, increases in the surveillance state, increases in the police state, punitive taxation, more war, more prisons, separation of families, et cetera.

They vote because they think they know what’s best for their fellow citizens. What the voter doesn’t know is that they are culpable. They are personally responsible for the victims of their act of voting.

The recreational pot smoker who was sentenced to prison, the hard working couple forced to pay more taxes, the young soldiers who will die on foreign battlefields; these are the victims of voting, among many others, and the “patriotic, god-fearing, tax-paying, Americans” need to realize this fact.

Voting may seem like a responsible, benevolent act, but as Frederic Bastiat wrote, “there is the seen and the unseen.” By that he meant, before you act, consider the repercussions of acting. Your decisions have consequences.

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Scars of Statism

Everyone has some kind of scars. I have a scar on my shoulder from an encounter with an armadillo, and many scars on my left hand due to knives held in my right hand.

I would imagine everyone also has psychological scars. Including scars from statism in our pasts.

Most of us were statist to some degree at some time in our lives. Some more than others. And everyone has been exposed to statism. Like any trauma, this leaves scars which are sometimes noticeable to observers.

You can’t be involved in a cult, or exposed to it continually, without taking some damage to your psyche.

I can sometimes notice my own scars of statism, and it’s even easier to see them in others.

Mine show up in knee-jerk emotional reactions. I recently felt one scar when I went into the library and was once again overcome with the desire to wrap my hands around the throat of the evil little loser who shot it up last year, killing one of my friends. I’m opposed to imprisonment, but I still feel the desire to make that little vermin suffer. Even if it’s in a way I oppose but can’t abolish. I realize that’s one of my statist scars showing up.

Of course, I’d rather they set him free and let everyone know who he is, what he did, and let nature take its course– I wouldn’t participate, but I wouldn’t help him. But it is what it is, and none of it is in my control, anyway. Other than my reaction, which isn’t good.

I do my best to not focus on the scars, mine or other peoples’, but to see how the person has managed to overcome and grow, in spite of the scars. Everyone is scarred; no one has to spend their life dwelling on it.

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Foreign Policy III: AnCapistan

In my first article on foreign policy, I discussed normative foreign policy in the context of the United States Constitution. In the second article, I focused on a specific aspect of foreign policy when I posited that the United States should diplomatically recognize Liberland. In this article, I discuss “foreign policy” in a stateless society: “AnCapistan,” if you will.

What would foreign policy look like in a territory with no government? To someone yet infected with vestiges of statist philosophy, the question is absurd. Such a one may believe foreign policy is the exclusive province of governments.

Strictly speaking, in current political science parlance, this may be true. Britannica defines foreign policy thus: “General objectives that guide the activities and relationships of one state in its interactions with other states.”  In the absence of a state, this definition takes us nowhere. However, practically, an individual can engage in all the usual foreign policy domains: diplomacy, trade, military action, and humanitarian action.

Diplomacy on an individual scale is probably the most straightforward foreign policy activity to engage in, especially with modern technology. Sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and others let you network with people around the world for business, common interests, etc. The absence of the state simplifies the situation significantly: instead of a few people engaging each other with millions of lives on the line, people would just have to choose to be nice to each other or suffer relatively minor social consequences.

Trade is really a faux element of foreign policy.  While governments obviously do buy things, the vast majority of economic activity is done by private individuals and companies. Governments often interfere in this trade (in the name of foreign policy, usually) with tariffs and other restrictions. In the absence of a state, individuals would be free to choose with whom to trade. If you wanted to punish a group of people by declining to engage in commerce with them, that would be your prerogative. I suspect that this sort of thing would be much less common in a stateless society since it mostly happens only by force under the current paradigm.

Governments often undertake humanitarian action as part of their foreign policy. However, as with everything else, private entities do it better and more efficiently. Organizations like the Red Cross and the Free Burma Rangers engage in humanitarian action far more efficiently than governments can or will. Also, without huge portions of income being stolen through taxation, people would have more resources to share voluntarily. Better yet, they’d have more resources to create and grow enterprises, multiplying resources so many fewer people would need charity.

Military action is possibly the most apparent aspect of foreign policy, and also the one most would assume is the exclusive province of states. However, even now private citizens go to fight ISIS. Americans did the same in the Spanish Civil War. Others fought independently in the Cuban War for Independence. Some of these actions are of dubious legality now, and some might be of questionable morality as well.  Both points could likewise be made about most wars initiated by governments. Naturally, in the absence of a state or states, the legal question would be moot, while the moral issue would become much more clear. Often, bad and pointless wars are blindly supported by people who would know better if they had to write a check or pick up a gun themselves. For an exciting budget film by a U.S. combat Veteran that explores this point indirectly, check out One Man’s Terrorist.

In a territory without government, individuals would be free to be friends with whomever they wanted, trade with whomever they wanted, support whichever side of a military conflict they chose, and offer humanitarian aid to whomever they preferred. Also, without taxes, they’d have more resources to do these things.

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