CDA Section 230, 1/3 of 1% COVID-19, Teacher Strikes, & Uighur Slavery (39m) – Episode 339

Episode 339 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: the Trump Administration’s desire to remove CDA Section 230 platform liability protections for altering third party content; the United State surpassing 4 Million COVID-19 cases, which according to recent research is probably 10x higher, producing a death rate of 1/3 of 1%; the possible national teachers’ union strikes over reopening in-person instruction without certain safety precautions; and a coalition group putting pressure on businesses benefiting from Chinese Uighur slavery.

Listen to Episode 339 (39m, mp3, 64kbps)

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Song of the South

Nobody asked but …

I have spent most of my life living below the Mason-Dixon Line, 72 out of 77 years, and 68 of those in Kentucky.  Kentucky is a border state.  Several of my great greats were Union fighters and a few were Confederate.  Honestly, I don’t know why any of them participated in our Civil War, what principles and beliefs motivated them.

I have had no reasons to perpetuate holy grails lost in the past.  The further we get from the conflagration, those who hold forth loudly on the topic know less and less what they are talking about.

A good friend warned me that this was starting off as if it were an apology for the South.  It is far from it.  There are no excuses.  There are no eulogies.

Furthermore, there will be no overlooking of the roles played by many north of the line.

Slavery is the worst abomination I can imagine, but it worsens, becomes more hideous when one considers the perpetuation of slave-like existence for descendents of the African holocaust today.  Europeans, to salve the wrong they knew they were committing, pretended that the blacks were inferior, deserving to be slaves, then fugitives, then servants.  It was a terrible fallacy.

Northern Europeans grievously created a fiction of superiority, which caused suppression of other peoples, then by dint of the denial created a confirmation bias that they have not overcome today, 155 years after supposedly settling the stupidity here in the USA.

— Kilgore Forelle

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Falsifying Liberty

I believe liberty to be worthwhile, to say the least. I also believe it is objectively superior to any alternative. This means I should try to falsify this hypothesis to myself. If I can’t think of ways which– if they held up– would prove my belief is based on a falsehood if it is, my belief is worthless.

How could liberty be falsified? If I could find one example where liberty– freedom tempered with responsibility– fails, that would do it. So far I keep coming up empty.

People have given me lots of examples where they imagine liberty fails: drugs, sex, “immigration“, etc. (and even the post office!) In every case, they weren’t thinking their position through very well or were trying to argue against liberty by artificially keeping The State a part of the scenario.

Sure, some people neglect their responsibility. This simply means humans are flawed and since they can’t always be responsible for themselves they certainly shouldn’t ever be put in charge of others.

Sometimes, people want to argue that because exercising your liberty in some essential ways is illegal, it can’t work even if it weren’t illegal. They imagine this rights-violation shows that liberty would fail even if the artificial barriers they refuse to reconsider weren’t there. The “we can’t get rid of government border controls because of democracy and welfare” people fall into this category.

That’s just dumb. If you want to argue against freedom of movement, you’ve got to at least discuss it without the artificial constraints of keeping other Big Government programs propped up to make sure liberty fails the way you want it to fail. And if you can get rid of one facet of tyranny you can get rid of the others– don’t pretend otherwise.

Yes, I am biased. I am pro-liberty and I am against theft, aggression, and slavery. I think I am able to consider all claims, however, I don’t need to wake up each day and decide anew whether I would be within my rights to go next door and start slaughtering people so I can take their stuff. You can ponder that question with each new day if you believe it’s necessary, but I’m done with it. No one has the right to archate and nothing can change that fact.

If, in the course of pondering this question yet again, you come to a different conclusion for reasons no one has presented before, try to convince me you aren’t just wallowing in statist superstition. Maybe you’re on to something and have discovered a way to falsify liberty, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.

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The Dystopian Nightmare is Already Here

Based on what we are seeing right now at both the government and corporate level, it is clear that the 2020 “pLandemic” is being pushed as a strategy to exclude rebels and freethinkers from the market and to ostracize them from society altogether. It starts with demanding masks and temperature checks, but it will soon include mandatory vaccinations and biometrically encoded “COVID-passports” being required at both government and corporate checkpoints.

It doesn’t stop there, of course. We must also factor in the already pervasive surveillance state, perpetual smartphone tracking, and a “cashless” society as traditional currency becomes first unaccepted and soon after unavailable. Here we have all the necessary ingredients for a dystopian nightmare that will put its fictional counterparts to shame.

This isn’t some paranoid fantasy, either. These are all things that are either already happening or actively being supported as “solutions” to the supposed problem of non-conformists having the audacity to exist.

If we do not take action NOW (meaning today, this week, and this month—not next year), the Orwellian future I describe (or worse) will become our despotic reality before we even realize what has occurred. We need to do more than just talk about it or even engage in small acts of defiance and civil disobedience. We need to be actively preparing for life in a society that is aggressively working against us at every turn.

We need to organize our resources and build networks of trusted partners with whom we can trade and barter. Traditional means of obtaining goods like food, clothing, precious metals, guns and ammo, and many other necessities will soon be restricted only to those willing to surrender their bodily autonomy and self-ownership to the irrational and harmful demands of governments and their corporate enforcers.

The goal of the tyrants is to force us into submission through deprivation and isolation. Rather than resorting immediately to direct violence, they will use access to the market as a carrot to bribe people into compliance. Those who refuse to bend the knee will face a bleak future of scarcity and seclusion.

Those who survive will not be left alone indefinitely, however. Phase 2 will be far more violent. The state will seize children, confiscate property, and eventually kidnap and cage those who refuse to submit to the state’s demands. Those who continue to resist will be hunted down and executed. They won’t call it that, of course. They will claim that our sustained opposition caused them to “fear for their safety.”

This is why we need to make sure that we are well armed and ready—both physically and mentally—to defend ourselves against whoever may attempt to deprive us of our life, liberty, and property.  We must never forget that a central component of the radical left’s agenda is forcibly disarming individuals so they cannot defend themselves against tyranny.

How committed are you to protect yourself and your family from being muzzled, injected, tested, and tracked? How much hardship are you willing to endure to avoid the state’s toxins? Are you willing to use lethal force if necessary to defend the life and health of you and your family?

The time has come to make some very serious decisions about your future. Those who are willing to compromise their principles now—because “it’s just a mask”—will find it much easier to keep surrendering as the pressures and threats escalate.

I will close with the immortal words of Patrick Henry. “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

I have chosen my course. Have you chosen yours?

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On Socialism

As most economists and political scientists agree, capitalism is “the private ownership of the means of production” and socialism is “the public/state ownership of the means of production.” Where they disagree is on which is preferable to achieving their ideal socio-economic outcomes, fair enough, but that aside, what cannot be denied is the fact that each and every person is themselves a means of production. Which begs the question, who owns you? Under capitalism, you own yourself (self-ownership). Under socialism (and it’s variants communism and fascism), you guessed it, the public/state. I don’t know about you, but I reject slavery in all its forms, including socialism. Do you? And that’s today’s two cents.

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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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