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.

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The Self-Regulating Power of the Market


A common objection to a libertarian society is the “without the government corporations would rule the planet” argument. The theory goes something like this: having few or no laws would give business free reign to run roughshod over our rights since the people have no recourse if they are violated. By extension the idea of limited (let alone no) government is quickly dismissed as a utopian illusion thought up by naïve dreamers who think corporations are run solely by selfless do-gooders.

Fortunately those that have taken a more than slight interest in the message of liberty know better. The majority of libertarians are not corporate apologists but rather critical thinkers who understand that while no system is perfect, centralizing power into the hands of a relative few is least likely to genuinely protect people’s rights. Besides, while government can – and routinely does – secure your compliance with the threat of “legitimate” violence, a business that fails to live up to its promises can either step up its game or watch while its customers take their business to a competitor.

Libertarian theory basically holds that built-in market mechanisms reward good business practices and penalize bad ones, thereby removing any need for government intervention. After all, a free market has no barriers to entry that would stop an entrepreneur from filling the void left by competitors. In many cases however, one does not need to go that far at all. Since reputation is key to the survival of any business the free flow of information protects customers from mistreatment. In this information age that has become truer than ever.

ReclameAquiHere in Brazil a good example is a website and mobile application called ReclameAqui (“complain here”). Dissatisfied customers use such websites to post their grievances about a product, service or poor customer service and businesses can respond promptly on the same platform. While there are many ways for a customer to express his or her discontent ReclameAqui has gained particular popularity, enabling people to post complaints in a matter of mere minutes with a few clicks.

The specific information required filters out many false complaints and any that might slip through can be pointed out by businesses in their response on the website. Legitimate complaints often result in the customer receiving a call from a customer service representative who takes care of things over the phone. New businesses are constantly listed on the site as requested by users. Other free features include a listing of the overall best companies, daily, weekly, and monthly rankings, and a tool to compare two or more firms – all based on customer feedback.

The website is full of success stories written by happy ReclameAqui users and serves as a great resource for consumers at any and every stage of the purchasing process including post-purchase. A friend who bought an e-reader six months ago used the site to see if anyone else had experienced the problem she was dealing with. When she found out the bookstore answered positively to almost all issues she listed hers and was promptly invited to pick up a new one in the store.

The claim that the market regulates itself is not just wishful thinking on the part of libertarians. Nor does it say that all businesses are run by morally upstanding people or that every single employee always puts the customer first. But examples like these show that the consumer can bring forces to bear that a business ignores only at its own peril. And so long as the strong arm of government does not impede or block competition, success in business depends on staying in the good graces of the consumer.

The Libertarian Case Against GMOs


This Tuesday, November 5th, the state of Washington might become the first to mandate the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Known officially as Initiative 522 or I-522, the bill would enable residents of The Evergreen State to find out whether or not the food they buy in the grocery store contains genetically modified (GM) ingredients by reading the label.

A similar bill by the name of Proposition 37 was defeated in California last November, though 64 countries on all different continents already require labeling and some have imposed outright bans. A New York Times poll conducted this year revealed 93 percent of Americans want GMO labeling.

Yet many a libertarian feels uneasy advocating for a government-imposed mandate, and rightly so. This might lead some to think that libertarians would advocate for the biotech industry’s “right” to poison the food supply with genetically altered foods that have never been proven safe for human consumption and despite the litany of documented health risks surrounding these foods.

But in order to come to such a conclusion one would have to ignore one of the cornerstones of libertarianism. After all, at the core of libertarian philosophy lies the non-aggression principle, which rejects any initiation of physical force against persons or property, the threat of such, or fraud upon persons or their property, as inherently illegitimate. And in the case of GMOs, barely scratching the surface is enough to reveal mountains of fraud and deceit, as detailed elsewhere on this website.genetic_modification

The White House and Monsanto have for decades had a very cozy relationship, leading the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider GM foods just as safe as natural, non-GM foods[1]. Despite the injection of foreign genes into such crops as corn, cotton, soy and canola the FDA allowed them to be introduced into the U.S. food supply, claiming there was no information showing that GM foods were “substantially different from conventionally grown foods”. In doing so the agency also ignored serious safety concerns among its own scientists, and hid this fact from the American people. In other words, the United States federal government and the biotech industry have for decades been involved in a massive conspiracy against the people.

In fact, all governments that allow the cultivation of GM crops are conspiring with the biotech industry to deliberately put the health of billions of people at risk. Clearly this constitutes fraud upon persons, which libertarians – i.e. proponents of the non-aggression principle – regard as inherently illegitimate: the libertarian case against GMOs in a nutshell.

The practical implications of the aforementioned are obvious. What happened to Bernie Madoff when his cleverly constructed Ponzi scheme came tumbling down? The former stockbroker’s crimes were condemned as “extraordinarily evil” by a Federal District Judge who handed him a prison sentence of 150 years for having committed the largest financial fraud in U.S. history.

Still, the number of victims Madoff made pales in comparison to the billions of lives that have been and continue to be jeopardized by GMOs. Just consider the estimated 250,000+ Indian farmers that committed suicide after being robbed of their livelihoods by Monsanto.

Without the cloak of government approval the genetic modification of our food supply likely would never have gathered any steam to begin with. In addition, an objective review of the scientific data available today would very quickly come to the conclusion that the risks far outweigh the potential (though highly debatable) benefits. Unfortunately this government complicity also begs the question whether justice will indeed prevail. After all, what incentive do people – even good people – in a centralized bureaucracy have to indict their own colleagues, especially their bosses?

Even though one would have to be delusional to look to government for the solution to a government-created problem, initiatives such as I-522 in Washington are a testament to the growing awareness about and resistance against GMOs. Libertarians should stand together with those opposing genetically modified foods – without calling for government intervention, of course – and take a principled stance against the fraud that has been perpetrated by government and the biotech industry.

[1] Smith, J.M. (2003). Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating. Fairfield, IA: Yes! Books. p. 130

 

 

Gary Johnson for President 2012


With the U.S. election season nearing its climax, the media are reporting that Romney and Obama are in a neck-and-neck race for the White House. To those who are willing to look beyond mere campaign rhetoric, though, it is clear that there is really not that much difference between the two, as an increasing number of Americans are starting to realize. A nationwide USA Today/Gallup Poll found that the electorate has a much more negative view of both candidates than in 2008; only 12 percent of respondents thought both candidates would make good presidents, compared to 25 percent four years ago.

In light of the supposed differences between the Democratic and Republican platforms this might seem odd. At second glance, though, it is not hard to see why neither candidate has succeeded in galvanizing into action the kind of crowd Ron Paul did, for instance. Obama’s support and charisma have suffered under broken campaign promises and the continuation of essentially the same policies that made George W. Bush one of the most unpopular presidents in recent history. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, never had much charisma to begin with and fails to offer a real alternative to the aforementioned policies.

The presidential debate on foreign policy was just one of many occasions where this became glaringly obvious even to the most uninformed spectator. The candidates agreed on the intervention in Libya and regime change in Syria, they agreed on crippling economic sanctions on Iran, they agreed on the use of drones, they agreed on supporting Israel, they agreed on keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan for at least another two years; they even went as far as to use almost the exact same words during the “debate”.

Healthcare is another issue where one would be hard pressed to find any real difference between the two major candidates. Rather than simply repealing ObamaCare, as Romney said he would do last July, Romney wants to replace it with his own version of socialized healthcare as implemented during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, dubbed RomneyCare. This would include the controversial individual mandate, subsidies for those with low incomes, an expansion of Medicaid and penalties for employers who do not offer coverage to their employees. Both ObamaCare and RomneyCare result in soaring premiums, expansion of the powers of government to intervene in the doctor-patient relationship and higher unemployment due to rising costs for employers. Here, too, the proposed policies are virtually identical.

So how about the economy? A recent FOX News poll revealed that 41 percent of Americans named rising prices as being the biggest economic problem they face. Moreover, the Federal Reserve’s announcement of more money printing in the form of QE3 – the purchase of $40 billion worth of bonds every single month for an indefinite period of time – will contribute to an even bigger spike in prices. With Democrats applauding QE3 and Republicans saying it displayed the failure of the economic policies of the Obama administration, not a word was said about its impact on already soaring prices. In addition, given Romney’s reputation as a flip-flopper, it can be quite a challenge to figure out exactly what Mitt Romney stands for when it comes to monetary policy and bailouts. At any rate, both candidates are simply ignoring the $16 trillion debt, arguably the most serious threat now facing the largest debtor nation in the history of the planet.

Fortunately for those who see through the lies and deceit of the two main contenders, there is a candidate who wants to bring the troops home. A candidate who does not want government controlled healthcare. A candidate who would balance the budget in 2013 by cutting the size of government and supporting free markets. A candidate with more executive governmental experience than Romney and Obama combined. His name? Gary Johnson, former two-term governor of New Mexico and the Libertarian candidate for president.

Gary Johnson wants to stop making enemies faster than the military can kill them by starting another war. The former governor wants to audit and reform the Federal Reserve – whose stock is owned by private stockholders and has control over the nation’s money and credit resources[1] – to regain control over economic policy. He would abolish the income tax, corporate taxes, withholding and other levies that penalize productivity in favor of the Fair Tax which is a consumption tax. He is against the overreaching federal involvement in the economy in the form of bailouts, corporate welfare, cap-and-trade, education spending and protectionism. He wants to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana and simplify legal immigration to combat illegal immigration. He believes in civil liberties and opposes the Patriot Act and National Defense Authorization Act, which enables the government to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or due process. He would end subsidies and incentives for “green” energy that promote unfair competition and inefficiency in the energy sector.

So if you are one of many Americans out there who is sick and tired of the status quo, if you want a real alternative, vote your conscience: vote Gary Johnson!

 

[1] Mullins, E. (1991). Secrets of the Federal Reserve, The London Connection. Carson City: Bridger House Publishers, Inc.