Who Should Have Political Power?

I don’t want Muslims to have political power.

I don’t want black people to have political power.

I don’t want women to have political power.

I don’t want young people to have political power.

I don’t want LGBTQXYZ3.14159… people to have political power.

I don’t want Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, socialists, or Constitutionalists to have political power.

None at all.

That’s because I’m being consistent.

I don’t want anyone— no groups or individuals– to have political power. That includes straight white men of any (or no) religion and of any age.

Political power is an evil thing to hold. Why would I wish that kind of evil on anyone?

You have the responsibility to not archate. That’s plenty for anyone to handle.

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Banning TikTok, Australian News, & Soviet China (32m) – Episode 342

Episode 342 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: The Trump Administration’s threat to ban social media app TikTok, where that draconian authority comes from (the obviously unconstitutional IEEPA) and Microsoft’s plan to purchase it; Australia requiring companies Google and Facebook to pay licensing fees for sharing news headlines from Australian news sources; and China blocking Hong Kong citizens from leaving with a British overseas passport.

Listen to Episode 342 (32m, mp3, 64kbps)

Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “everything voluntary”. Support the podcast at Patreon.com/evc.

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Government Should Follow Rules Too

People seem confused about what role — if any — government plays in our lives. This misunderstanding causes problems.

Government was never intended to be the master, but the servant. Your servant doesn’t tell you what you are allowed to do, nor punish you for not obeying him. The servant isn’t allowed to do things in secret with the master’s money, nor to keep any job-related secrets from the master. Your servant is accountable to you; never the other way around.

If someone takes a government job, they either accept their subservient position in society, or they can take a job — without such strings attached — in the productive sector. Forgetting their place should result in immediate unemployment with no chance of ever holding another government job.

Government wrongly claims to have the right to track everyone, spy on everything we do, collect all our information, and punish us for doing things we have the natural human right to do, but which government forbids. Nothing can trump natural human rights, not even the opinions of the vocal majority legislated and enforced by government employees.

Police across New Mexico object to a requirement to wear body cameras, which help them be held accountable to their bosses — the people of the community. If they can’t do their job under this condition, they are free to find other jobs. No one is forcing them to be police.

Locally, people are begging government for permission to re-open their restaurants, when government never had the legitimate authority to shut businesses in the first place. This illustrates the danger of allowing the servant to require business licenses. It’s none of their business who opens what kind of business, and nothing can make it their business. Not even if “this is how we’ve always done it,” which isn’t true anyway.

Local government is even pretending it should have the power to dictate whether someone will be allowed to use their own property as a subdivision.

This is crazy!

If we are to continue to fund government and give it our occasional obedience there must be rules for it to follow. Since the Constitution has been ignored for the past century and a half or so, what do you suggest be tried next?

Those who want to keep political government around are the ones responsible for keeping it out of the lives of everyone else. If you won’t rein in your troublesome servant, his misbehavior is on your head.

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“Anarchist” Is Not An Insult

“These are anarchists, these are not protesters,” US president Donald Trump said on July 20th, defending his decision to unleash Department of Homeland Security hooligans on anti-police-violence demonstrators in Portland.  Anarchist-bashing  — referring to “radical left-anarchists” in Minneapolis, “ugly anarchists” in Seattle, etc. — has become a consistent Trump campaign theme since May.

Does Trump have any idea what an anarchist is? Or is he just hoping that frequent repetition of a word he associates with widespread fear and loathing will get an increasingly hostile American public back on his side?

It’s somewhat amusing that Donald Trump considers the word “anarchist” an insult, or that he fancies himself morally fit to insult anarchists.

He’s got a lot of nerve, that guy. He’s a head of state. Or, in more accurate English, a second-rate mafia don, chieftain of an overgrown street gang with delusions of grandeur.

Trump and his type — the “leaders” of political governments —  murdered hundreds of millions of innocent victims in the 20th century and are already off to a bang-up start in the 21st.

Trump and his ilk steal more wealth, destroy more property, and kill more of the people they claim to serve in any given week than all the anarchists in history combined. Then they try to shift the blame onto their victims and onto the anarchists who stand up for those victims.

Gangsters like Trump (and his 44 predecessors) aren’t morally qualified to shine a Black Bloc rabble-rouser’s Doc Martens, let alone criticize the ideological anarchists who daily expose the protection racket called the state.

Anarchism comes in many flavors, but at root it’s a simple concept: It calls for the absence of rulers.

Note that second “r.” Not an absence of rules, but of charlatans who empower and enrich themselves and their cronies on the false claim that they serve society by enforcing rules.

Nineteenth century anarchist Lysander Spooner exposed the American version of that racket, incidentally prophesying the arrival of Trump:

“[W]hether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain — that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

Not all who hear themselves called “anarchists” resemble the remark or deserve the praise, but high praise it is indeed. Anarchists are defenders of freedom and opponents of the death cult known as the modern state.

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Government Makes Crisis Worse

America is in crisis. Nearly everyone agrees on this point; they only disagree over what the crisis is.

Fewer still agree over what caused the crisis they can’t agree on, so they can’t agree on how to solve it.

Whatever the crisis is, and whether it was caused by a virus, police callousness, racism, inequality, or something else, governments love the excuse to crack down on liberty. This is often among their first responses — regardless of what the crisis is, what caused the crisis, or how it might be solved. It’s as though they don’t even care about those trivial details.

A crisis is when your right to life, liberty, and property is most important. When things are going well, are more robust and stable, a small disruption probably won’t cause ruin. When things are already on the edge, one little push in the wrong place, at the wrong time, can spell disaster.

Deciding to treat liberty as if it’s negotiable is a big jackbooted shove to civil society.

To respect the liberty of every human being is the civilized thing to do, even if some people aren’t respecting the liberty of others. This is why self-defense remains an important human right.

No crisis justifies additional government power; instead, it’s a time for less government meddling. Especially when the path forward is unclear.

The result of restricting liberty is to limit the number of individual solutions that can be tried. When there’s disagreement, it’s important to let people take different paths. If enough things are tried, someone will get it right. If you force everyone to follow the same path, the chances are nearly 100 percent that the wrong path will be imposed.

This is why the Constitution doesn’t allow itself, or human rights, to be suspended during any emergency and thus doesn’t permit martial law.

To pretend martial law is constitutional the Supreme Court was forced to concoct political “theories” to justify it. They made up, out of thin air, things the Constitution didn’t say and that it was explicitly designed to prevent.

It seems the Constitution has never stopped government from committing any action it really wanted to commit. Someone, somewhere, will rubber-stamp almost anything.

If the Constitution did permit the suspension of rights for the duration of an emergency, this would invalidate the document. That it doesn’t, yet government goes ahead and does it anyway, invalidates government.

Government “help” makes any crisis worse.

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Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty: The New Republic

I’ve been waiting to read the fifth volume of Murray Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty for over 30 years.  Now my former student Patrick Newman, professor at Florida Southern College, has miraculously undeleted this “lost work.”  Patrick’s quasi-archaeological efforts are nothing short of amazing, but how does the actual book hold up?

In the first four volumes of Conceived in Liberty, Rothbard tells the story of the American colonies’ rise, rebellion, and victory over the British.  In this final volume, he tells the story of America’s brief time under the Articles of the Confederation – abruptly  (and illegally!) ended by the revolution/coup/counterrevolution that we now know as the United States Constitution.  Rothbard, a vociferous detractor of the Constitution, could easily have subtitled this last book in his series “The Revolution Betrayed.”

Under the Articles of the Confederation, government was much more decentralized – and therefore much better:

Overall, it should be evident that the Constitution was a counterrevolutionary reaction to the libertarianism and decentralization embodied in the American Revolution. The Antifederalists, supporting states’ rights and critical of a strong national government, were decisively beaten by the Federalists, who wanted such a polity under the guise of democracy in order to enhance their own interests and institute a British-style mercantilism over the country.

Rothbard’s main focus, however, is not in persuading the reader that the Articles were superior, but simply chronicling the details of their demise.  As a result, the book is disappointing.  I expected to watch Rothbard debunk the standard civics case for the Constitution – to insist that the Articles fostered rapid economic growth, high individual liberty, and peace both between the U.S. states and between the U.S. and the world.  I expected him to enthusiastically defend the repudiation of war debt.  And I expected him to at least consider reconsidering his earlier support for the American Revolution and its many slave-holding philosophers of freedom.  Instead, Rothbard glosses over the Big Questions in favor of detailed multi-stage Constitutional vote analysis.

Admittedly, quantitatively comparing growth, freedom, and peace under the two colonial regimes would be difficult due to data limitations.  But there’s no excuse for ignoring the implications for revolutionary change.  In his engaging introduction, Newman depicts Rothbard as a dedicated supporter of the American Revolution:

Although the Revolution was enormously costly and resulted in the near destruction of the economy (through hyperinflation, military confiscation of goods, British pillaging of infrastructure and supplies, and the flight of British loyalists), the war was worth it since it led to the achievement of highly libertarian goals of inestimable value. Rothbard explains that the American Revolution was radical and led to the restriction of slavery in many areas, the end of feudalism, the emergence of religious freedom, democratic constitutions with increased suffrage, and revolutions in European nations.

Here’s the rub: How can the war (including the “near destruction of the economy”!) be “worth it” if the libertarian revolution gets cancelled a few short years later?  This is an astronomical price to pay for such a transient gain.  Sure, you could reply, “Well, the war would have been worth it if the Articles had endured.”  But that immediately raises a deeper question: Was the American Revolution even a prudent gamble?  The probability of victory aside, what is the probability of winning the war but losing the peace?  If your answer isn’t, “Very high,” I question your knowledge of the history of violent revolution.

Perhaps Rothbard would insist, “The Constitution was only a partial counterrevolution.  Many of the libertarian gains of the American Revolution endured.”  Then he could point to all the items in the preceding list: “the restriction of slavery in many areas, the end of feudalism, the emergence of religious freedom, democratic constitutions with increased suffrage, and revolutions in European nations.”  Given the hellish history of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era, I’d say the latter “achievement” outweighs all the others.  In any case, Rothbard barely grapples with the counterfactuals.  How do we know slavery wouldn’t have been restricted anyway?  What’s the probability that the British would have restricted slavery earlier and more peacefully?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Rothbard also fails to grapple with the complex interaction between decentralization and mobility.  As I’ve explained before:

[D]oes decentralization alone really promote liberty or prosperity?  The mechanism is elusive at best. Imagine a world with a thousand sovereign countries of equal size.  This is far more decentralized than the status quo, right?  Suppose further, however, that there is zero mobility between these countries.  Labor can’t move; capital can’t move.  In this scenario, each country seems perfectly able to pursue its policies free of competitive pressure.  Why should we expect such policies to promote liberty, prosperity, or anything else?

The story would change, of course, if you combine decentralization with resource mobility.  In that case, each country’s government has to compete to retain labor and capital at home.  If you don’t make the customer happy, somebody else proverbially will.  But without this “universalist” mobility rule, decentralization leaves everyone under the rule of a preordained local monopolist.

Standard civics classes claim that under the Articles of the Confederation, interstate tariffs were a serious problem; they offered decentralized politics without free trade.  Rothbard only response is to downplay the severity of the regulation:

While Connecticut taxed imports from Massachusetts, and New York in 1787 moved to tax foreign goods imported from neighboring states, the specter of disunity and disrupting interstate tariff s was more of a bogey to sell the idea of a powerful national government than a real factor in the economy of the day.

Perhaps Rothbard’s right, but remember: interstate tariffs only had a few years to get online.  What would have happened to interstate tariffs in the long run if the Articles endured?  And doesn’t the question illustrate the critical insight that decentralization without resource mobility is no recipe for liberty?

To be clear, I enjoyed reading the final volume of Conceived in Liberty.  And to be fair, Rothbard probably would have greatly improved it before publication.  As it stands, though, Rothbard’s lost book dodges the fundamental questions that Mr. Libertarian famously relished.  If you want to read one of his posthumous works, you’d be better off with The Progressive Era – also beautifully edited and annotated by Patrick Newman.

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