Voluntaryist Solutions to the Public Benefits and Immigration Problem

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.

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Intellectual Property Makes Everyone a Criminal

November 2018: I read this essay and added commentary for Editor’s Break 115 of the EVC podcast.

An object is not a resource unless humanity has found some use for it. A resource is scarce unless there is enough of it to satisfy everyone’s preferences. Due to the conflicting nature of everyone’s varied preferences, scarce resources must be allocated in such a way as to reduce conflict over their use. The only way to effectively allocate scarce resources for the purpose of minimizing conflict is by assigning people an exclusive right of control on the basis of original appropriation. This exclusive right of control is called ownership, and its subject is property.

It would be contrary to the purpose of property ownership to assign people an exclusive right of control over something that is neither an object, nor scare. An idea is a thing that is neither an object, nor scarce. Ideas are infinitely reproducible and may satisfy everyone’s preferences simultaneously. Ideas are a type of information, and are not limited to a medium in the material world.

Because ideas are not a scarce resource, making them subject to the same type of ownership necessarily interferes with everyone’s exclusive rights of control over their material property. Owning an idea would mean that others may not implement that idea into a medium made from their property. An owner’s right of control over their property is no longer exclusive to themselves. A share of their ownership is necessarily given to another on the basis of having an exclusive right of control over an idea. If we are to assign property rights to non-scarce non-objects, then this assignment necessarily trumps, or is superior to, property rights assigned to scarce resources.

Because no idea is without its influences, every new idea is the result of mixing, borrowing from, and changing old ideas. If ideas are subject to ownership, then each new idea owner must account for having obtained permission to use older ideas from their owners. For a complete respect of property rights in ideas, everyone must account for the ideas they use everyday. It does not seem possible or even practical for users of ideas to account for permission of their use.

Unlike with non-scarce non-objects, the users of material property can account for permission of their use. If they cannot, then they are likely thieves who have stolen material property from its owner. Because we all use ideas without accounted for permission everyday, we are all thieves. If a system of ownership allocation makes everyone out to be thieves necessarily, then it is a poor system of ownership allocation. Property rights should not be assigned to non-scarce non-objects, such as ideas. Doing so necessarily increases conflict over their use, causing all of us to become criminals.

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Why I Didn’t Vote

November 2018: I read this essay and added commentary for Editor’s Break 110 of the EVC podcast.

The first Tuesday after the first Monday every November is Election Day in the United States. Every election season, many organizations attempt to rally voters to the polls. The “Go vote!” message is everywhere these days. As a principled non-voter, I find it incredibly annoying, but such is life under statism.

People are aghast when they learn that I do not participate in electoral politics and voting. I have a lot to say about political philosophy, for sure, but it does not follow that I should be politically active. I have only ever voted twice since my 18th birthday, the first was during the Bush-Kerry election, in which I voted, quite ignorantly, for John Kerry. The second was during the Obama-McCain election, and I wrote myself in for President. It was a joke, because it is a joke.

How does one become a principled non-voter? It was an evolution that occurred alongside my journey toward voluntaryism. I know plenty of libertarians and voluntaryists that still vote, however, so I don’t believe it’s inevitable that this journey will result as it has for me. So here it is, the step-by-step guide to explain exactly why I didn’t vote this November.

Campaign Promises

My first realization was that campaign promises made by candidates are incredibly difficult to keep. What’s the point in allowing a promise to persuade you toward supporting a candidate if it’s obvious that they are either lying to get votes, or promising what is not theirs to promise. The most a candidate can effectively promise is to not do something, such as voting to raise the level of coercion leveled at society by government. And how many popular candidates are doing that?

Tax Burdens

My second realization was that I have no right as an individual to push for the implementation of a tax increase on my neighbors. Very few Propositions on the ballot are to decrease taxes, but what about voting against tax increases? A defensive measure, to be sure, but keep reading.

Increasing Coercion

My third realization was that I have no right as an individual to push for an increase in the amount of coercion leveled at society by governments. Most Propositions necessarily have this effect, not only those that are concerned with tax levels. Again, voting against? Defensive, but keep reading.

Statistical Value

My fourth realization was that my individual vote is statistically worthless. It is an incredibly rare event for a candidate or issue to be decided on the basis of 1 vote. Probabilities tell us that virtually all elections are decided by no fewer than a few hundred votes. Statistical value is lessened even more when you consider the margin of error and the possibility of voter fraud. Every morning after Election Day I wake up and perform a little thought experiment while viewing the election results: I ask myself, would my vote have changed the outcome in any of these elections? To date, the answer has been a decided NO.

Rational Irrationality

My fifth realization was that, after considering the statistical worthlessness of my vote, spending any amount of time on researching the candidates and issues was irrational. How many people spend more time researching elections than researching buying a house? Arguably, the election is far more important, and the knowledge required to make an informed decision is far more vast, than for buying a house. Yet, our vote does not get us what we want in the same way that buying a house does. The house is certain, the vote is not. As economist Bryan Caplan wrote, it is rational to be ignorant when voting, and irrational to be informed. Therefore, most voters are ignorant on the issues, and their vote is worth as much as mine.

Quiet Dissent

My sixth realization was that elections are a very effective way to give people the feeling that they’ve had their say. As long as people feel like they have some effect in the process, that their “voice” has been heard, they are more likely to shut up about their dissent toward government and its policies. I find the idea of voting as voice to be ridiculous on the bases described above, but also, there are far better alternatives to being heard than voting. I’ve been writing and discussing for ten years and podcasting for five, and in all that time I have affected more people to change their thinking, their lives, and their parenting for the better than I ever did in the election booth. Elections are meant to quiet dissent, and I will not allow my dissent to be silenced.

Criminal Gang

My seventh realization, one that was evolving along the way, was that governments are just better organized criminal gangs. Sure, some election issues to increase coercion can be stopped, and some candidates promise to protect your liberties, but every election to date has had the result of increasing the size and scope of government overall. Libertarian-minded candidates and liberty-protecting issues are simply not popular, and probably never will be. Criminal gangs attract the criminal minded. Elections are allowed by government, and are unlikely to affect their existence in any positive direction. Plus, as George Carlin put it, governments were bought and paid for a long time ago. My vote won’t change that.

Culture and Technology

My eighth realization came when considering the effects that culture and technology have toward the actions that people who call themselves “government” take. Governments don’t make progress in front of culture. Quite the opposite. Culture changes first, and forces government policy to follow. So what’s the point in participating in elections if the candidates and issues are several steps behind culture? Consider also the effect that technology has on forcing governments to change the way they do things, or become obsolete. The very real forces of culture and technology toward combating governments are effective and occur without any regard to elections.

So there you have it: why I didn’t vote on Election Day, and why I never will.

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My Personal Views on Abortion

January 2019: I read this essay and added commentary for Editor’s Break 129 of the EVC podcast.

As a man, am I allowed to have a “personal view” on abortion? I think so. I have many women in my life, including a wife and two daughters. Any unexpected or unwanted pregnancy of these women will affect me to some degree. My daughters are probably at the top of that list. When asked, and I would be asked as their father whom they love deeply, I will be a source of counsel and comfort on any decisions regarding this controversial practice.

My wife would be next on that list, and as a matter of fact, the question of abortion has come up. In 2007 she had an ectopic pregnancy. We were told these were not uncommon. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches inside the fallopian tube on its way to the uterus. Fallopian tubes are not meant to be used as wombs, and so the baby would not have grown much at all before causing my wife even more pain than it was, and ultimately perishing. A chemical abortion was her only real option.

My personal preference is that no woman ever has the need or desire to have an abortion. I prefer that all would-be moms and dads treat the procreative power that nature has granted them with the utmost care. Be sure not to have an unwanted pregnancy, and you’ll never have cause for an abortion. Let’s say the unthinkable happens anyway, then what? I prefer that all expectant moms desire to keep and raise their babies, and to do so consistent with the principles of attachment/peaceful parenting and radical unschooling. For this reason, I am pro-life.

These are my preferences. If a woman in my life asked for my advice, this is what I would tell her. But also, I would throw my support behind her and be there for her. If this woman was one of my daughters or my son’s partner, they would hold no doubts that as their father I would do everything in my power to help them raise their baby. If the dad is out of the picture, then I feel it is my solemn responsibility to be the dad that every baby needs. I’m already prepared and willing to keep my children with us as they grow up, get married, and make families of their own. I strongly desire to build a multi-generational and extended family household, the sort which I feel is best able to meet the needs of everyone.

Beyond my preference and willingness to support any given woman who faces this question, I don’t feel I have any ground to stand on when it comes to this decision by women. If I’m not willing to throw my support behind a person to keep their baby, then their choice is none of my business. I prefer they make the choice to keep and raise their baby as already described, but I respect that they must do what they feel is necessary for them to do. I am not interested in any action beyond that.

I do not believe that it would be right for me to coerce a woman into making the choice that I prefer. For this reason, I am pro-choice. And as it would not be right for me to coerce a woman away from abortion, I should not expect others, such as those who call themselves “government“, to do it for me. This is one issue where every individual, family, community, and society must decide for themselves, without coercion, how they will act and react to this practice. Personally, I will not shame or push away any woman that makes the choice contrary to my preference. I can’t possibly understand why they did what they did, nor do I need to. If a woman is important to me, their personal choice here will not change that. And if they aren’t, I know how to keep my mouth shut.

I feel I’ve been clear sharing my personal views on abortion. I don’t want anybody to mistaken my position for something that it’s not. My preference is pro-life, but my actions are pro-choice. My daughters will not have to struggle with the question of support or shame if they find themselves in a situation which forces them to make this choice. And I hope all other daughters won’t either.

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A Primer on Challenging Jurisdiction

At some point in your life you will be attacked by people who call themselves “government“. This attack will consist of these people making certain claims, claims which must be challenged. If the claims are proven true with verifiable facts and evidence, then the attack is no longer an attack, but an act of self-defense.

These claims are usually of the nature that a debt is owed, a service must be performed, or that your liberty must be surrendered. Each of these begins with a claim of jurisdiction, that these people’s rules (they call them laws, legal codes, Constitutions, et cetera) apply to you. It is supposed that this jurisdiction gives these people the authority to enforce their rules against you.

This foundational claim of jurisdiction must be challenged before moving to the next step of determining whether their rules were violated, because jurisdiction is the first claim these people make in their attack. They know that without jurisdiction, their rules do not apply. One cannot logically say both “You have violated my rules” and “My rules do not apply to you”, as such would be a contradiction. Therefore, claiming “You have violated my rules” is simultaneously claiming “My rules apply to you” or “I have jurisdiction over you.”

Challenging jurisdiction is not a difficult thing to do (at least, on paper). When these people say something to the effect of, “You have violated my rule that says you may not possess the cannabis plant” the first reply should be something like, “How do you know that your rule applies to me?” Observe the following dialogue:

Them: You stand accused of violating legal code 123-45, “Prohibition of a Control Substance – Cannabis”.

Me: Is it your claim that legal code 123-45 applies to me?

Them: It applies to everyone, including you, within this territory.

Me: How do you know that legal code 123-45 applies to me just because I am physically located in this territory?

Them: You are in this territory, and possess cannabis, isn’t that correct?

Me: Those facts are not under dispute. What is under dispute is your jurisdiction over me. I will rephrase: do you have personal first-hand knowledge, such as facts and evidence, that legal code 123-45 applies to me just because I am physically located in this territory?

Them: You are a human being, are you not?

Me: Is your claim that your legal codes apply to human beings?

Them: Yes, that is my claim.

Me: Okay. How do you know that claim is true? (ie. What facts and evidence do you rely on to support your claim?)

The purpose in this line of questioning is to challenge the claim of jurisdiction, a claim which should not be allowed the light of day without accompanying facts and evidence. (Here’s a longer dialogue on challenging jurisdiction.) If these people have jurisdiction, as they claim, then it should not be difficult to prove. They should have no need to engage in dishonesty or in issuing threats. When they become non-responsive, dishonest, and threatening, you know that they know that their claim of jurisdiction is without factual merit. Simply put, they are initiating an attack against you, and you have the right to defend yourself by publically and explicitly challenging their claims.

At every point, you are asking them for the facts and evidence they rely on to support their claim of jurisdiction. In every case of an accusation that a rule has been violated, jurisdiction can be challenged. Without jurisdiction, their rules are without effect. This should be made very clear by challenging their claims. They must be forced to resort to dishonesty and threats, on the record, or to drop their attack. These tactics are violations of the codes of conduct they have explicitly agreed to, and as such are grounds for effective appeal.

When the accusation is based on jurisdiction, it must be challenged. However, not every accusation is based on jurisdiction. Many accusations are based on damages suffered. The rule of thumb is to remember what is being claimed, the violation of a legal code (a crime), or damages suffered (a tort). In the latter case there is an alleged victim who may or may not be able to provide facts and evidence supporting their claim that you have damaged them and are owed restitution. In the former, there is no alleged victim, merely a group of people who call themselves “government” asserting jurisdiction and claiming you violated their rules and must be punished.

When you receive a traffic citation, are targeted by the so-called “tax authorities”, or accused of violating their rules in any other way, the first step is to challenge jurisdiction. This takes practice, and thankfully there are plenty of resources and role play groups to assist you. Contact me here or Marc Stevens on Skype at frankrizzo3 to get started. I highly recommend listening to the No State Project radio show and podcast, recorded twice a week by Marc, to get familiar with this process. I also highly recommend reading Marc’s book Government Indicted, available on Amazon here. And checkout Marc’s “5 Tips to be Effective in Court” published recently. Challenging jurisdiction has proven effective in several States and countries.

More on this topic by the author:

Evidence of Jurisdiction
On Jurisdiction
Is Taxation Theft? Yes and No
Stop Lying about Laws Applying
What the Response to the Challenge of Jurisdiction Should Tell You
The Facts on Government
My Ongoing Battle with Leviathan
Not Requiring Evidence of Jurisdiction is a Violation of Due Process
Dreamers’ Parents Never Sinned
The Essence of the Ruling Class

More on this topic by Marc Stevens at EVC:

Debunking Territorial/Personal Jurisdiction – Why it Doesn’t Exist
Don’t Let Prosecutors Intimidate You – Overcoming Their Flawed Opposition

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The Voluntaryist Premise

January 2019: I read this essay and added commentary for Episode 274 of the Everything Voluntary podcast.

Discovering voluntaryism usually happens after a long road through other intermediate political philosophies. It’s not an ideology on the forefront of political thought, that’s for certain. Step by step a person has reached conclusions that aggression and coercion are bad in various ways and circumstances. At last they’ve decided that aggression and coercion should always be avoided, but just as importantly, they’ve come to the realization that aggression and coercion are not only common place in many different types of relationships, but in some, they are foundational.

Once a person adopts the label of voluntaryist (or the like) for their political identity, they assume, with good reason, the following premise: human suffering is terrible and should be prevented; aggression and coercion necessarily create human suffering. This premise leads the voluntaryist to hold a number of hypotheses with varying degrees of accuracy in some form or fashion within their minds at all times. Here are several of those hypotheses (in italics and prefaced).

Political aggression occurs when the production of law and order is coercively monopolized by a single person or single group of people (an institution, corporation, or firm in a given area which adopts the moniker of “government”). Monopoly incentivizes bad behavior and disincentivizes good behavior, leading ultimately to human suffering.

Economic aggression occurs when markets, the array of economic exchanges between people, are coercively interfered with by “government”. Political interference (or intervention) in markets skews or disables economic signals (prices, supply and demand), to the benefit of one group at one time, and the detriment of other groups at the same time or other times, leading ultimately to human suffering.

Parental aggression occurs when parents use the tools of coercion (punishments like spanking and time-outs) to correct what they identify as “misbehavior” on the part of their children. Punishment used to discipline is both a failure to understand a child’s real needs and produces trauma in childhood, leading ultimately to human suffering.

Educational aggression occurs when parents and teachers use the tools of coercion (punishments, rewards, curriculum) in the attempt to impart knowledge and skills onto children that they, the parents and teachers, deem necessary and important toward becoming an adult in society. Coercion based learning ignores the interests and passions of students and their evolutionarily programmed needs to inquire, be curious, to move constantly, be loud, and to play, leading ultimately to human suffering.

Not every hypothesis described above undergirds the premise that each person who has adopted the label of voluntaryist holds as true. Many voluntaryists haven’t even considered the effects of coercion in parenting and education, for example. But the premise as laid out above is typically held by those who identify as a voluntaryist.

The voluntary principle, the foundation of voluntaryism, states that “all human relations should happen voluntarily, or not at all.” It’s easier to understand the “should” in that sentence once you understand the voluntaryist premise. You may not value or desire the reduction and prevention of human suffering, in which case you are unlikely to identify as a voluntaryist. However if you do, then I recommend taking a hard look at the premises you accept as true, and how realistic are the hypotheses thereon based that you rely on for the attainment of this desire.

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