The Cost of Everything

One thing most people overlook in the course of day to day life is the degree to which governments make everything we purchase far more expensive than it would otherwise be. Consider that every company that manufactures a product needs to first procure raw materials, shape those materials to their specific needs and combine those parts into the finished product, then distribute (transport) them to buyers/vendors who will then sell them to consumers.

At every step in this process, massive taxation is present – varying based upon the type of company, and/or product(s) being produced: corporate and personal income taxes, FICA taxes on employees, property taxes, licensing fees (taxes), fuel taxes, various excise taxes (even telephone bills are brimming with several different “fees” and taxes). And of course, any outside businesses the initial company contracts with to provide various essential goods or services (such as trucking companies, IT firms, etc.) are subject to much the same array of taxation, and hence, must pass these artificially imposed costs along to their clients – who then must build these further costs into their own already escalated bottom line.

Once the finished product reaches consumers for retail sale, all of these government-imposed expenses have already been factored in to its offered price – but of course, things don’t end there. Most governments in America will still then place a sales tax upon the item which the retailer must collect under threat of force.

Finally, the currency being used to pay for all of this is nothing more than paper representing entries in a computer database. Government mandates we accept it as “legal tender,” and whatever “value” it has is simply based on public perception in response to that threat of state coercion. In order to finance their own operations and ever-ballooning debt (with interest), those in government authorize the Federal Reserve (which is neither federal, nor a reserve of much except paper and ink) to simply print more and more of these notes as if they were Parker Brothers churning out Monopoly sets. This then invariably lowers the perceived “value” of the currency overall, which then leads to the ongoing phenomenon known as inflation – thus even further elevating the cost of everything, all and sundry, right across the board. Until, ultimately, of course, the currency itself is thereby reduced to its actual value…which is, at day’s end, nothing at all.

I know I’m a dreamer. But imagine how much more productive and prosperous virtually everyone’s life would be without taxes – indeed, without government.

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The Power of Positive is Not Always Possible (But Neither Does it Have to Be)

We always hear a lot about being positive in one’s outlook – the “power of positive thinking,” we’re told, is all important. Keep a bright outlook, and wonders will occur in your life.

I want to begin by clearing the obvious out of the way: When things are going well and the sun is shining on your particular little microcosm, then there is no need for this advice in the first place. Bask in those blessings and enjoy.

But when things take a turn for the worse, as they do so often in the course of any average person’s life, I want to ask how it is even possible to expect anyone to be bright, sunny, and cheery when all around them dark and negative things are occurring? How do you keep a chipper smile and a joyous outlook when nothing is going your way, when things are collapsing all around you?

The realistic answer is that, in all likelihood, it isn’t. And neither can you. There are certain conditions (and sets of them) in life through which no one can be reasonably expected to keep an optimistic outlook. Quite simply, it just runs counter to human instinct and human nature. Any other perspective is just not realistic.

For years I’ve heard people regale me with all kinds of advice about positive thinking. I’ve read several books on the subject. And all of it has seemed to me to end up with the same characteristic flaw I’ve illustrated above. To me, being positive means feeling positive too. But there’s this:

I have come to believe that in every given situation it comes down to a simple choice: You can look at what’s occurring with cynicism and negativity and have a virtual guarantee of getting nowhere — or, without having to like it at all you can at least acknowledge it as merely another obstacle which will test your determination to not become frozen by fear, or anger, or pessimism. Your will to keep moving, regardless of circumstances.

History is filled with tales of success involving the latter — people who pulled off the seemingly impossible, who turned events around in the face of all adversity, even in situations where there seemed to be no hope at all (just as, no doubt, there are also some number of tales concerning those with glowing outlooks who still failed).

Conversely, history is filled every day with failures who followed negativity to its natural conclusion (just as, I’m sure, there exists an aberrant minority of cases in which the most pessimistic and dejected persons still prevailed, nevertheless).

So the question always and ever is: Which view do you choose to adopt? Which one is more likely to prove helpful or useful?

The choice is always yours — albeit you may certainly detest and hate the circumstances at present. This doesn’t mean singing and dancing with cheer through the darkness and the mire. It does mean continuing to put one foot in front of the other. It does mean considering the possibility that someday, someway, there is a better place ahead full of greater fortune. It does mean adopting a work ethic, if you will, of grit, grim determination, and the will to self-improvement. If you can keep just those things in your view, then to hell with “positivity.” That’s a fairy-tale for dilettantes for the most part anyway. The real work that needs to be done, the strength that needs to be built and flexed, the character that needs to be displayed – these are the things of importance; the nuts and bolts of both survival and success. Hang on to that, and you’re already halfway there. The rest will come – odds are, anyway – with time and perseverance.

Positivity is not always possible during the cloudier and stormier periods of life. In fact, the suggestion that it should be is even somewhat foolish. The will to not be defeated by its polar opposite is the only consideration which is ultimately of any importance.

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A Voluntaryist 7-Point Plan

As advocates of a truly free society, we voluntaryists, unlike the statists who outnumber us, do not engage in traditional political activism. This simple fact got me thinking about a habitual plan or checklist each of us might form or follow quite naturally, in the course of our daily lives, in order to promote the kind of stateless socioeconomic order we envision. In doing so I arrived at seven core essentials, listed here in what I believe to be a descending order of import, from most to least effectual:

1.) Spreading our ideas. As most of us already know, comparitively few people will listen to or agree to seriously learn about voluntarist philosophy. But a few will. Introducing the uninitiated and fellow-travellers from less “radical” camps to voluntaryist literature, videos, websites, and other media is key to deprogramming statist prejudices and misconceptions about governments.

2.) Agorism, barter, metals, cryptocurrencies. Finding ways to avoid and subvert use of government-issued fiat currencies – and the taxation associated with such use – deprives those calling themselves the State of a great deal of power they otherwise have over us. Indeed, even the head of the International Monetary Fund made a very recent and open admission about the future of cryptocurrencies and the potential threat it poses to centralized banking and governmental control of traditional “money.” Every transaction made, in any form, which utilizes a non-State medium that insures privacy and insulation against inflation, potential seizure, and taxation is a victory for liberty.

3.) Homeschooling/Unschooling. Allowing young people (or any person!) to seek an education outside of state-sanctioned mechanisms is absolutely critical to breaking the government-centered society paradigm that permeates such stultifying tax-financed institutions. If the future is to be one of freedom, the current newest generation and all those that follow must have the widest possible opportunity to learn about the real benefits of liberty, free markets, and sovereign autonomy. These are personal values and elements of knowledge no governmental forces will or can condone or withstand. Freeing students from the moral and intellectual prison of state brainwashing is a must.

4.) Avoiding government employ. In all forms. From cop to postal worker, from schoolteacher to CIA agent, government institutions require willing manpower even more than they require tax revenues. When people are unwilling to work for government – both directly, or as outside contractors who provide supplemental goods and services – the State simply cannot function. Then the free market must take over. And that end result is the goal of every voluntaryist.

5.) Non-voting. This should be self-explanatory. The only “vote” possible for a voluntary society is a non-vote in all political elections. In fact, non-registration sends an even clearer message to those who wish to control us, and it means you end up on one less government list too.

6). Guns and prepping. While I would think most would want a wholly peaceful transition from a coercive state-centric society to a free one, to ignore what history has shown us regarding governments would be tragic and naive, if not in fact suicidal. It is imperative we provide for our own defense with weapons. It is equally important to be able to provide for our own sustenance in case of any number of conceivable future contingencies (war, social upheaval, economic collapse, etc.). Stockpiling food and drink in cans and jugs, freeze dried comestibles, MREs, personal hygiene products and medicines, and growing and raising crops and livestock are all ways of making ourselves far less dependent on outside entities for our basic survival. Solar panels, windmills, and generators can all make us less energy dependent, as well.

7.) Living life. This might actually also be most fitting in the #1 position itself. Life is finite and precious. We all only have so much of it, and how much, we know not. None of the above is to suggest squandering it with obsessive activism (unless that’s what most floats your particular boat). Rather, these are all suggestions that, once implemented, can more or less become part of a passive routine, requiring little to no effort beyond certain initial threshholds. It is important to recognize at all times, I think, that even under the increasingly intolerable yoke of the State, our existence still contains many pleasures and wonders to enjoy to the fullest: Travel, hobbies, intellectual stimulation, music, food, the outdoors, relationships, sex…you get the picture. Have many of those moments. Delve deep into them. Cherish and relish them to the fullest. Be you.

And as much and often as possible, in spite of present circumstances, be free.

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Voting in Prison

It’s an irony to the point of obscenity that prison inmates of certain tax farms within the legal fiction known as the USA are permitted to vote in political elections.

If I plan on being in prison for the rest of my life (whether I am being held there for that duration against my will is another matter entirely), perhaps it matters to me who the warden, guards, and other members of the prison staff are at any given time.

If I desire freedom, however, and am thus actively seeking a way or ways to get out of prison, what possible interest have I in who’s running the place?

Such is the difference between advocates of freedom and voters.

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Requiem for Marx

I’ve just finished the large coffee-table sized 2012 edition of the aforementioned title, made possible by Skyler Collins (the original volume was published in 1993 by the Ludwig Von Mises Institute), and edited by Yuri N. Maltsev.  This is a highly recommended, incisive indictment of both Marx and his philosophy.  I urge one and all to read it.  A free electronic version may be read or downloaded here — though I do warmly approve of and prefer the jumbo print version:

http://mises.org/books/requiem.pdf

Alex

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