Go Go GoFund.gov!

Brian Kolfage supported US president Donald Trump’s proposal for a wall on the the US-Mexico border.  He was frustrated that  Congress still refused to fund the wall (as I write this, we’re in the early hours of  “government shutdown” theatrics over that very argument).

Unlike most Americans, Kolfage did something above and beyond voting and complaining to assuage his dissatisfaction: He started a campaign to raise $1 billion in voluntary funding for the wall, using “crowdfunding” site GoFundMe. As of December 23, the campaign had raised more than $16 million.

Personally, I consider the border wall one of the dumbest and most evil ideas since disco, but I applaud Kolfage’s initiative. I think he’s on the right track when it comes to funding government generally.

I see two big problems with this particular campaign.

One problem is technical: Apart from a few discrete areas like gifts to pay down the national debt, the executive branch can only spend money appropriated by Congress for specific purposes. A group of us can’t just decide we want a war with Pitcairn Island, write the president a check, and expect him send forth a carrier strike group or launch some Tomahawks. Or at least it’s not supposed to work that way (it does for Raytheon and Lockheed Martin).

A second problem is moral: Much of the land on which the border wall would be built is owned by people (that is, it’s not “government property”). That land would have to be bought, and some owners don’t want to sell. Which means it would have to be stolen through the process of “eminent domain.” On that end, this effort is like crowdfunding a bank robbery spree.

But I still like the general principle. It reminds me of an old antiwar saying along the lines of how beautiful it would be if the Air Force had to hold a bake sale every time it wanted to buy a new bomber.

If instead of collecting taxes, Congress simply approved project goals and appropriated “as much money as is voluntarily donated toward” those goals, it would constitute a giant step toward a free society.

Instead of an Internal Revenue Service, the federal government could contract with GoFundMe to setup and operate GoFund.gov.

It will never happen because too many people are too intent on taking other people’s money for their pet projects. But it’s a beautiful dream, isn’t it?

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On the Violence Inherent in Voting

At some time or another, we were all taught how government works. We learned about the three branches of government and their relationships to each other. We were also told that “we are government” since each citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote for a chosen candidate or on ballot initiatives.

That’s what we were taught.

What they didn’t tell us about was the deleterious effects of voting… the victims of voting. The fact that each voter puts their individual needs, opinions, and desires above, and to the detriment of, others.

The voter believes their actions to be benevolent or caring, but nothing could be further from the truth. Their acts of voting instead cause innocent people to be considered criminals, increases in the surveillance state, increases in the police state, punitive taxation, more war, more prisons, separation of families, et cetera.

They vote because they think they know what’s best for their fellow citizens. What the voter doesn’t know is that they are culpable. They are personally responsible for the victims of their act of voting.

The recreational pot smoker who was sentenced to prison, the hard working couple forced to pay more taxes, the young soldiers who will die on foreign battlefields; these are the victims of voting, among many others, and the “patriotic, god-fearing, tax-paying, Americans” need to realize this fact.

Voting may seem like a responsible, benevolent act, but as Frederic Bastiat wrote, “there is the seen and the unseen.” By that he meant, before you act, consider the repercussions of acting. Your decisions have consequences.

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Voting Shmoting, or Why I Didn’t Vote (28m) – Editor’s Break 110

Editor’s Break 110 has Skyler listing and exploring the many different realizations that he’s made over the last ten years that have pushed him into becoming a principled non-voter. (Apologies for the audio quality.)

Listen to Editor’s Break 110 (28m, 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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Does Your Vote Matter?

Aggregates of voters may swing an election by voting one way or the other or by not voting. But you, amigo, are not an aggregate of voters; you have only one vote. And how you cast that one vote will almost certainly fail to swing any large election. Why this simple reality flies over so many people’s heads is a bit of a mystery (various explanations may be offered), but if you don’t understand it, you really need to stop and think harder about the matter. By doing so, you will independently rediscover the following:

Higgs’s Law of How Much Your Own Vote Matters

A = the state of affairs that will prevail if you vote
B = the state of affairs that will prevail if you don’t vote
A = B

Of course, saying that “your own vote doesn’t matter” is not the same as saying that “voting doesn’t matter,” although the latter may also be true in a different sense (e.g., elections are only rituals, and the deeper system will persist regardless of electoral outcomes).

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Usability III

Nobody asked but …

To be “usable” a thing, an event, a process must not be futile.  Elections are not futile for politicians; they are the principle tool by which politicians reach their collective goal — that the status quo remain undisturbed, that the criminality continues.

Elections are extremely futile for voters.  For them, elections are a miasma, a sargassum, a maelstrom, a fog, a trauma that shifts eternally from dream to nightmare and back.  They may be usable for inducing vomiting.

Did the tea party achieve any positive goal?  How about the Bullmoosers?  Let’s not forget the bloody rabble that thought they were accomplishing something with the injection of reality television to the Oval Office.

Same-oh, same-oh!  I heard a pundit trying to fill dead airspace on election night by remarking that somehow off year elections proved something.  Off year elections prove that the voters can beat up on themselves, ad infinitum.

Elections are useless, as is a system of which they are a vital part.  Suicide by voting booth.

— Kilgore Forelle

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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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