I Was Wrong

Those of you that have followed this website for a while will know that I have been off the radar for quite some time. So before going into what I was wrong about, an explanation seems to be in place.

A lot has happened over the past two years or so: I moved from Europe to South America (where I ended up both penniless and jobless before climbing my way out of that rut), I developed an intimate, personal relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ, I met the love of my life and married her 11 months later, and we ended up moving back to the place I thought I had left for good. In the midst of all this writing articles has, shall we say, not been my priority.

In my first article since a long time, however, I want to do something unusual and rebuke my own article. Specifically this relates to a position I took publicly on this very site about four years ago, and it was something I firmly believed in. But hey, sometimes one comes to new insights and, as they say, if you never changed your mind, you never learned a thing! So here we go.

stockvault-white-house139532In this article in the run-up to the U.S. presidential elections of 2012, I made the emphatic case (or so I thought) that Gary Johnson should be the next president of the United States. I was wrong.

The reason I now feel slightly embarrassed for having written that piece, is not because of Johnson’s infamous “Aleppo moment”, or the other gaffe about which foreign leader he looks up to. Far be it from me to let those incidents, or even his running mate Bill Weld sticking up for Hillary Clinton, surprise or disappoint me anymore! (Although admittedly that last one was particularly appalling). The problem with not just this libertarian ticket but the general idea of “voting yourself free” goes much deeper than that.

As unimaginative as I find my viewpoint looking back on it four years later, the subject of my writing was and is even more unimaginative – and indeed utterly uninspiring and downright boring. Now I realize the odds of my ranting ever reaching his desk or that of anyone close to him are infinitesimal, but I feel compelled to take this stance nonetheless. Not only because my argumentation had as many holes as Swiss cheese, but also because I am frankly disgusted with the “libertarian” standpoints the Libertarian Party takes and the terrible job it does of representing the best ideas mankind has ever known. While I am not personally involved with the U.S. Libertarian Party in any way, shape, or form, as a freedom advocate I am disgusted with the way the principles and values I hold near and dear to my heart with are being bent and twisted everywhere Gary Johnson shows his face.

For starters, what kind of a signal does the slogan “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”, send? That is like saying, “Well, you know, both the Republicans and the Democrats have some really great ideas, and if you don’t know which to choose, you can always vote Libertarian!”. People like Johnson can certainly debate how and to what extent the government should rob people of the fruits of their labor through taxation, but let’s not get extreme and entertain the thought that stealing people’s belongings is the definition of theft and therefore immoral in the first place!

In my 2012 article I also write that the Libertarian candidate “wants to audit and reform the Federal Reserve”. Yawn. Why not take (economic) freedom right to its logical and rightful conclusion and take a stance against legal tender laws and central banks’ monopoly on the issuance of money? Why can’t the two parties in a transaction decide for themselves what monetary instrument they want to use to compensate one another?

I then state that Johnson “wants to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana” before claiming that he “believes in civil liberties”. Yet one who truly believes in civil liberties would not dare argue in favor of the government’s authority to tell us when, how, and where to consume a plant – let alone try to make a buck off of our voluntary choices while at the same time attempting to manipulate those choices by way of taxation.

In response to the above, some will tell me I am just a hopeless ideologue and that my utopian vision of a libertarian paradise is just as unlikely to come about by not voting than by voting. However my advocacy is only partially concerned with voting, whereas sticking to the libertarian principles of non-aggression and self-ownership is absolutely non-negotiable, period. By now it has become more than obvious that Gary Johnson is not a good example of a principled libertarian, and as such I take offense at his claiming to be so. In that respect the above only scratches the surface, but then again he is just another politician that we should not waste much time or effort thinking or talking about.

The State of Freedom in Chile

Perhaps one would not know it for some of the articles that have appeared on this website, but libertarians have plenty of reason to be optimistic about Chile. The country’s economy consistently ranks as by far the freest in Latin America, reaching tenth place in the world in the most recent ranking. Free market type policies have lifted millions of Chileans out of poverty over a time span of mere decades while making its capital city a major hub for international business. And despite recent allegations of large-scale corruption regarding political campaign contributions, on the whole corruption is virtually unheard of.

FreedomSuch a success story literally sets Chile apart from every other nation on the continent, as evidenced by the fact that it is set to become its first developed country by the end of this decade. Yet its unrivaled success has all but silenced critics. On the contrary, it seems like the very prosperity that made Chile the envy of Latin America has lulled some would-be free market advocates to sleep, while proponents of state intervention are running on all cylinders. “Free” education and healthcare and Keynesian economic stimulus – read: more wealth confiscation – are just some of the talking points among those aiming to perfect society by way of scribbling words on pieces of paper.

Last March an OECD report made the headlines in Chile for categorizing the country as among the most unequal in terms of income distribution. Such reports provide the kind of ammunition used by interventionists to beat the drum for all manner of reforms, including the recently approved educational reforms. Given the relative lack of government meddling in daily Chilean life – at least on the scale people in most developed nations have become accustomed to – some are eager to seize every opportunity to promote the supposed virtues of government planning.

To be fair, much of this sentiment stems from resentment against the iron first with which economic reforms were implemented by Augusto Pinochet’s military junta. Looking to break with the socialist policies pursued by his predecessor Salvador Allende and its disastrous consequences, the commander and his ilk considered “the Chicago Boys” to be the only group of economists worthy of their trust. Taking his cues from them, the policies subsequently introduced succeeded in reversing the downward trend and revived an economy previously characterized by soaring inflation and deficits coupled with plummeting saving and investment rates.

Since its return to democracy in 1990 Chile has almost exclusively seen left-wing administrations. For the better part of this era, however, economic policies have generally favored the free market over central planning. It is precisely this trend that is a thorn in the side of those who wish to see more top-down decision making, their main spokesperson being Michelle Bachelet. Fortunately their rhetoric does not go so far as to demonize international trade or private property, but it does tend to blame the free market for inequality in just about every aspect of life. This flawed line of thinking is most prominently and frequently used to justify more state control of healthcare, education and the labor market.

The latter, of course, can hardly be said to be a uniquely Chilean phenomenon. Still, it is imperative to the cause of freedom to promote this understanding of the philosophy of liberty; that rather than foster inequality, voluntary trade has historically been – and still is – the most powerful force against it. Not to mention the fact that trade, not coercion, is simply the morally preferable thing to do.

The Futility of Institutional Reform

For over a century Ludwig von Mises and other Austrian School economist have convincingly argued their case and exposed the obvious inconsistencies in Keynesianism and other schools of economic thought. In more recent decades many liberty-minded Americans have collectivized themselves in such organizations as the CATO institute, the Libertarian Party, and Campaign for Liberty, yet the police state and government debt are now larger than ever in the history of the “land of the free”.

On the other side of the pond the increasing tyranny displayed by the European Union has jolted many into the same type of collectivist action. Different euroskeptic organizations are sprouting up everywhere pushing for “democratization”, more accountability and more transparency. Nonetheless, the EU bureaucracy is growing in leaps and bounds even if the 2014 budget is set to fall by nearly 6 percent amidst unprecedented austerity measures in member states. From olive oil bowls and jars in restaurants to the shape of fruits and vegetables, bureaucrats in Brussels aim to control every part of Europeans’ lives.

HPIM0501.JPGIt is about time liberty-minded folk around the world recognize that voting, advocating for reform and even civil disobedience all fall under what Sun Tzu would call “letting the enemy pick the battleground”. While all of these may (seem to) have a temporary positive impact those that engage in them are – often unknowingly – legitimizing the very existence of the State; the idea that there should be masters, and therefore slaves.

It is time to understand that the State sustains itself not with guns or bombs or tanks or soldiers, not by a “justice” system that puts peaceful people behind bars or with the evil man or woman up top; the only thing that is holding up the house of cards called government is legitimacy. And to engage in any of the above actions, no matter how well-intended, is to aid and abet this longstanding enemy of freedom. It only serves to lend more legitimacy to the statist paradigm and prolongs the inevitable collapse of the system as we know it. The sooner a significant number of people realize that there can be no legitimate rulers, the sooner humanity will be free.

Fortunately more and more people are rejecting coercion and oppression, as evidenced by their tuning into alternative news media looking for truth in reporting, getting into alternative stores of wealth like gold and silver as well as Bitcoins, seeking educational alternatives for their children, researching medical alternatives rather than conventional sick-care and buying (or growing!) real food instead of the junk commonly found on grocery store shelves. This is the revolution between the ears that is happening right under our noses, and it’s already having an effect.

Needless to say, the vast majority of people already practice the non-aggression principle in their daily lives; after all, it comes natural to people. As such it is not given much thought and so taking the moral stance in political matters is an approach that has not yet been widely adopted, but that day is coming.

The realization is sinking in that bypassing the Leviathan is much more effective and rewarding than trying to change it. Asking your ruler to be a little nicer while legitimizing his very existence and the hierarchical nature of the system is like asking an assailant to drop the baseball bat and beat you with his fists instead.

Fighting for reform in the name of freedom is a battle that cannot be won, for reform of any institution or policy is just renewed justification for its existence.

Monsanto: Poster Child of Corporatism (Part II)

My last blog post summed up some of the risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) foreseen by some even prior to the introduction of GMOs into the food supply. Since going over all of the risks could easily turn this blog entry into a book, I would advise those interested in learning more about the issue to visit the Institute for Responsible Technology’s website for more information. For now, suffice it to say that a recent landmark study involving lab rats exposed just some of the long-term effects of consuming genetically engineered foods, including but not limited to premature death, severe organ damage and massive, horrifying tumors. This, by the way, is the sort of study that has never been conducted to unequivocally show the safety of eating GM foods. You read that right; to this day there has not been a single impartial (i.e. non-Monsanto funded) study providing solid evidence to back up the claim that these Frankenfoods are “as safe as natural foods”.

So let’s be clear: the very existence of genetically modified crops on planet Earth is arguably the biggest Stop GMOthreat mankind faces in modern times; orders of magnitude bigger than the bogus global warming scare or the latest phony flu pandemic scare. As shown by the recent genetic pollution of conventional U.S.-grown wheat, genetically modified food crops can and do escape even when grown experimentally, as was the case in Oregon. Never mind the GM crops being grown out in the open such as corn, soy, cotton, canola, potatoes and sugar beets.

On that fateful day when sanity returns to a critical mass of people and it dawns upon them that Monsanto has been playing God with our food, we might come to find out that it is already too late. After all, undoing the damage is not as easy as just issuing a worldwide recall. Now that genetically modified seeds have been flying through the air cross-pollinating conventional crops for decades, who’s to say there’s still a corn kernel or sugar beet left on the planet that is completely free of genetic pollution?

Hopefully nature will somehow find a way of repairing the damage and prove that prediction to be incorrect, but there are no guarantees. The first thing to be done when the genetically modified chickens come home to roost, though, is to prosecute the perpetrators of this sick genetic experiment. Aiding and abetting the enemies of creation is a despicable and intolerable act of aggression against all mankind that cannot go unpunished. All the debate over the labeling or outlawing of genetically altered products will pale in comparison to the outrage that will be visited upon the biotech industry when the truth comes to light. Until that time the industry and its cronies in government will frantically continue to try to keep the genie in the bottle – which is all the more motivation for people like myself to shine the light of truth on the matter.

Finally, here’s a reality check for those who would rush to Monsanto’s defense in the name of capitalism or freedom. The biggest discreditors of liberty and free enterprise today are not the socialists or communists arguing for the total abolition of the free market and the establishment of a centrally planned economy. As believers in centralized force, fraud and coercion they would never make an honest attempt at advocating for freedom, let alone profess a belief in it.

Rather, the biggest discreditors of the message of freedom today are the Big Business apologists, the defenders of corporatism who would dare call themselves freedom lovers. They are the wolves in sheep’s clothes who will defend the likes of Monsanto tooth and nail and side with those that have bought and paid for congresses and parliaments the world over a long time ago. There is no excuse for that level of ignorance and dishonesty, so whenever you come across one of them, please ask that they get educated and stop making fools of themselves. Those of us who are serious about freedom will thank you for it.