In the wake of the recent mass shootings and the hype surrounding them, people are asking “why?”
Simpletons parrot the popular answer: “guns.”
Sensible people know there’s no single reason.
Thankfully, mass shootings are rare. The way they are publicized makes them seem common, and copycat crimes often follow on the heels of well-publicized shootings. If it were up to me, the shooter’s face would never be shown and his name would be replaced by the words “some loser.”
Mass shootings — almost without exception — happen in places where guns are prohibited. This makes sense. People who plan to shoot random people don’t want their intended victims to shoot back.
A “gun-free zone” — be it a mall or other business, a school or other government facility, or an outdoor event — gives them exactly what they want.
Some people blame poor “mental health care,” suggesting it’s government’s responsibility to run a giant socialist program for identifying mentally unstable people and rounding them up or forcibly medicating them.
I don’t trust people who believe governing others is OK to make reasonable assessments of other people’s mental health.
The “worthlessness” these shooters express in the months and years leading up to their evil deeds must play a part. If you don’t have any meaning in your life it is easier to decide nothing has meaning so you might as well act on your hopelessness, nihilism, and anger.
These guys need meaningful relationships. They need meaningful work. Both are getting harder to find for the average person. This isn’t something government can fix, but perhaps society will find solutions.
I suspect the lack of an attainable frontier may contribute to the problem, and believe if one doesn’t open up soon, things will get worse.
I would be tempted to blame violent video games, except the evidence seems clear that this isn’t the case. If you desensitize people to committing violent acts it seems they’d be more accepting of aggression in real life. Yet the data points to the opposite effect. The violent games apparently serve as a sort of pressure release.
The same goes for violent movies.
I didn’t want to believe it, but I must accept the evidence unless more evidence comes to light. I can’t help but wonder why accepting evidence is such a difficult thing for humans to do.
The evidence is clear: there are many causes, but making things worse — with additional anti-gun laws — is always the wrong path.
I listened to someone defending and supporting Trump where they had to discard their life-long touted principles to do so. Just because they want to keep out “those people” and are grateful there’s no “President Hillary”. And perhaps because they like ritual human sacrifice. Disgusting and stupid.
Then I overheard some other people complaining about higher property “taxes” (ransom) and blaming Trump. What I didn’t hear was a reason beyond that they hate Trump so it must obviously be his fault rather than the fault of those who actually impose and collect the ransom, “or else”. Just so stupid.
Then you have other people begging government to violate their right to own and to carry weapons with “laws” because some evil losers who ignored “laws” murdered a bunch of people in places where the right to carry weapons was already thoroughly violated. Stupid, self-destructive, and evil.
Over and over, whenever politics becomes the topic of conversation, I see otherwise sensible people lose all their sense.
People believe politics is their Savior or their Satan– depending on their momentary focus. They even manage to hold both of these contradictory beliefs simultaneously. Crazy!
Politics is antisocial. It is the use of theft and aggression instead of cooperation and trade. Politics makes people stupid.
I’ve seen various places referred to as “failed states”– Somalia being a frequent example. The term is used in an attempt to insult.
The most insulting part is that anyone tolerates those trying to impose a state on them, or that anyone is dumb (or evil) enough to do it to themselves.
If you have a state, you’ve already failed. You’ve failed to find voluntary ways to live among other humans and have decided you’re going to cheat.
A state is a failed society.
To fail at something which is unnecessary is a tragedy which can bring disaster where none was inevitable before.
Yes, a failed state can be deadly. Any failure can be.
If a dishonest surgeon performs an unnecessary heart transplant on a patient, and it fails, the patient will die. Even if it doesn’t “fail”, it was a really bad idea. The patient has been harmed whether he realizes it or not. The heart transplant was not a good idea, nor was the one performing it a good guy trying to help.
A state is the same. It’s unnecessary and harmful– even if it doesn’t fail. The state is antisocial; based on theft and aggression. It is your enemy. There will be consequences when it fails. And it will fail eventually. They all do.
And when it fails, tragedy is likely. Once you’ve crippled a population– trained them out of responsibility, competence, independence, and ethics– by imposing a state on them, how do you expect them to form a functional society if your state fails? You’ve done the damage; own it.
Because I’m both a Libertarian and a loudmouth, I’m frequently hit with questions about libertarianism (and the Libertarian Party). Recently this one came up:
“What is the most controversial belief of Libertarians?”
Could it be our support of immigration freedom (and, generally, freedom to travel)?
Or our demand for separation of school and state?
Perhaps our hard-line support for gun rights?
Or our stand for legalization of all drugs?
How about our advocacy for keeping the government out of the sex lives of consenting adults (including marriage, and including sex for pay)?
Or our belief that who you do or don’t do business with — including for healthcare and retirement — is your decision and no one else’s to make?
My answer: It’s all of those, and others. But it really boils down to one issue.
The most controversial belief of libertarians (and partisan Libertarians) is the belief that you’re generally both more entitled and more qualified to run your life than someone else is.
Who considers that belief controversial? “Mainstream” politicians and their supporters.
Why do they consider that belief controversial? Because they consider themselves entitled and qualified to run your life for you, whether you like it or not. And, of course, to bill you for the costs of their supervision.
Politics isn’t persuasion. Politics is force.
Whether the issue is immigration, or education, or self-defense, or drug use, or sex, or commerce, or, heck, what color you paint your house or how long you let the grass on your lawn grow, the political approach is not to present an argument and trust you to make the right decision. It’s to decide “for” you, then beat you down if you disobey (or fail to pay them for their services).
Libertarianism — even the “political” variety — isn’t really very political at all. It’s anti-political. As one fun meme puts it, libertarians are “diligently plotting to take over the world and leave you alone.”
Libertarians only recognize one valid constraint on your actions: A universal, mutual constraint against aggression, also known as initiation of force.
The simple version, courtesy of Matt Kibbe: Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff.
When you throw the first punch, or pick someone’s pocket, or otherwise forcibly interpose yourself between someone else and that someone’s life, liberty, or property, you’re not running your own life. You’re trying to run theirs.
And that’s the only thing libertarians agree you should be stopped from doing or penalized (in a manner consistent with restitution, not “punishment”) for doing. Even if it’s “for their own good.”
If you’re down with that idea, congratulations: You’re a libertarian.
If you’re not down with that idea, I hope you’ll think it through more carefully.
Someone asked me recently if I could wave a magic wand and do one thing to improve American education what would it be. Without hesitation, I replied: Eliminate state compulsory schooling statutes. Stripping the state of its power to define and control education under a legal threat of force is a necessary step in pursuit of education freedom and parental empowerment.
Some argue that compulsory schooling laws are no big deal. After all, they say, private schooling and homeschooling are legal in all 50 states, so state control of education is limited. While it’s true that some parents may have access to government schooling alternatives, many states require private schools to receive authorization in order to operate. Despite ongoing efforts to expand education choice mechanisms, most parents have no choice but to send their child to an assigned district school.Homeschoolers in most states must comply with state or local reporting mandates that in some areas require homeschoolers to take standardized tests or meet state-determined curriculum requirements.
These hoops are for those lucky enough to jump out of compulsory mass schooling. Despite ongoing efforts to expand education choice mechanisms, like Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and tax-credit scholarship programs, most parents have no choice but to send their child to an assigned district school. Even if their child is being relentlessly bullied, even if they don’t feel that the academic environment is rigorous enough, even if they may personally disagree with some of the district’s ideological underpinnings—these parents are required by law to send their child to the appointed public school.
And what if they don’t?
Truancy and Neglectful Parenting
Truancy laws, which originate from a state’s compulsory schooling statutes, grant the full power of the state to come after parents whose children may have spotty attendance records. An in-depth article in HuffPost recently revealed the damaging impact these laws can have on families and children, with parents being pulled out of their homes in handcuffs and sent to jail.
For Cheree Peoples, one of the parents spotlighted in the article whose daughter misses school frequently due to sickle cell anemia that frequently leaves her hospitalized and in pain, enforcement of these truancy laws has been extreme, adding to the stress of her already difficult life caring for a chronically ill child. Awakened in the early hours by police officers who arrested her for truancy, she told the HuffPost: “You would swear I had killed somebody.”
The HuffPost investigation revealed that Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris was responsible for much of the heightened aggression toward parents regarding truancy. As California’s attorney general, Harris was a crusader against truancy and was instrumental in toughening criminal prosecution of parents whose children missed too much school. According to HuffPost:
Harris’ innovation was that school authorities and the district attorney would work in concert, articulating the threat of prosecution much earlier in the process and keeping school officials involved long after a case was transferred to court.
Harris held firm to her belief that neglectful parenting was the root cause of truancy, ignoring other potential explanations like lack of education choice for parents whose children may be suffering in their assigned district school. Harris’s actions to aggressively prosecute parents for truancy “were cementing the idea that parents always were the ultimate source of the problem.”
This is all so familiar. Harris, who billed herself as a “progressive prosecutor” for California, likely believed she was doing the right thing for children, saving them from their allegedly neglectful parents. Horace Mann, the “father of American public education” who is credited with helping to usher in the country’s first compulsory schooling statute in Massachusetts in 1852, also considered himself a progressive. At the time, Massachusetts was experiencing a massive immigration wave that, some lawmakers believed, threatened the current social fabric.
The History of Compulsory Schooling Laws
Indeed, between 1820 and 1840, Boston’s population more than doubled, and most of these newcomers were poor Irish Catholic immigrants escaping Ireland’s deadly potato famine. They challenged the dominant Anglo-Saxon Protestant norms of the time, prompting many state leaders to lobby for a new compulsory schooling statute that would mandate children’s attendance in state-controlled public schools. It was for the children’s own good, they said. As William Swan, editor of The Massachusetts Teacherwrote in 1851, just before the first compulsory schooling law was passed:
Nothing can operate effectually here but stringent legislation, thoroughly carried out by an efficient police; the children must be gathered up and forced into school, and those who resist or impede this plan, whether parents or priests, must be held accountable and punished.
Prior to the 1852 compulsory schooling law, compulsory education laws were common throughout the country. Massachusetts again led the way, passing its first compulsory education laws in 1642 and 1647, respectively. These education laws differed fundamentally from compulsory schooling laws. The education laws indicated a state interest in an educated citizenry and compelled cities and towns of a certain size to hire a teacher and/or open and operate a grammar school. It was the town that was compelled to offer schooling, not the parents to send their children there.
This is a significant distinction. A state arguably has the authority to require its cities and towns to provide certain services, but compelling parents to partake of these services under a legal threat of force—as the 1852 compulsory schooling law ultimately did—crosses the line. As the HuffPostarticle makes abundantly clear, parents, particularly those who are disadvantaged, continue to bear the brunt of these archaic and deeply flawed compulsory schooling laws.
The first step to restore education freedom and empower parents with choice and opportunity for their children is to eliminate compulsory schooling laws that authorize state control of education. States could still require cities and towns to provide public schools to those who want them, but the power to compel parents to send their children there would disappear. In its place, a decentralized network of educational opportunities (including, but not limited to, various types of schooling) would unfold, fueled by visionary parents, educators, and entrepreneurs.
Parents, not the state, would decide how and where their children are educated. New possibilities for education innovation would emerge as the shadow of forced schooling waned. Education freedom begins when government compulsion ends.
With a nod to Thomas De Quincey, I have had to deal with the consequences of an addiction once again. As a life long University of Kentucky basketball fan, I now must look forward to a long, cold summer. I will have fleeting moments, perhaps in the NBA playoffs, perhaps when they contest the Rugby World Cup to see who can deny the New Zealand All Blacks.
But this all got me thinking about the nature of undying love, freedom, individuality, and consequences, from the POV of a voluntaryist. Nobody got me into this mess, but myself. I know the risks, however, so I suppose I suffer gladly (acknowledging that I would celebrate even more gladly, as I have done countless times in the past). Looking at my nearly 76 earthly years with the Wildcats and the All Blacks, it has been worth it.
The point, however, is that addictions are one of the consequences of voluntarily seeking joy. If you do it in the true spirit of the non-aggression principle (initiate no violence), the golden rule (do to others as you hope they will do to you), studying war no more, and hearty acceptance of ALL the responsibilities conferred with your goals of liberty, you can have joy, even among the heartaches.