Monthly Archives: November 2005

Morning Thoughts

“True liberty cannot exist apart from the full rights of property, for property is the only crystallized form of free faculties… ”

— Auberon Herbert
(1838-1906) English author

Without property rights, everything becomes a privilege, granted you by a generous collective. If you are not able to own your property, defend it, be private within it, maintain it in a stable fashion, then your other inalienable rights are sophistries, with no value. As the municipal governments of this country, aided and abetted by the courts, continue to erode your property rights in their quest for increased revenues, they play right into the hands of the left. The left, whose socialist foundations calls for the individual to have no individual, inherent rights, but only collective privileges masquerading as rights, disguised as rights to allay your suspicions that they are, in truth, opposed to all that you believe in.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

The New Libertarian

New articles are up at The New Libertarian. One of the better articles, by Anthony Woodlief, is Bringing Back The Lower Case: Re-examining Libertarianism. It is, in fact, an article that has much in common with the philosophies at the core of this blog.

The reason I will address this topic — and the reason you should care — is because libertarianism represents perhaps the best set of potential political solutions to America’s problems, and is the legacy of a truncated set of the Founders’ beliefs (subtract their belief in God and a strong central government, and you have libertarianism).

The only quibble I might have with this is that the strong central government advocated by the Founders is not at all what we think of today as a strong central government. In fact, what they wanted is what most lower case libertarians (classic liberals) today want. A central government that provides for the national defense, foreign policy and a solid foundation for economics (single currency, no import/export duties between states, etc).

The single best point in the essay, which really is introducing a series, is this:

In short, there is libertarianism, the philosophy of governance, and there is Libertarianism, the creed. The persistence of the latter interferes, I think, with the development of the former.

And this, truly, is the problem with Libertarians today. It is why I cannot call myself Libertarian, or join the Libertarian Party. They are dedicated to a set of beliefs that is carried to an extreme and allows for nothing that might contradict such beliefs. The difference between James Madison and Michael Badnarik is that Madison was willing to compromise if it moved him towards his goal. The point is to move towards the goal, not sit in coffee houses and talk about the beauty of the goal. And the goal is more freedom, more liberty, more prosperity. It is not perfection of those things. Perfection is not possible. Rather, it is the enemy of the good. Let’s work towards achieving the good.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Economics Is Fun Too!

So, I was reading Patri Friedman’s interview with Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor–and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!. And I ran across this gem:

Patri: Why is it important to educate people about economics?

Tim: We can all think of ways in which the world would be a better place if people knew a little bit more about the basics, but that’s not why I write. I write about economics because I love it and I want other people to love it too. I’m just having fun.

Just imagine if folks actually understood, for example, that if I own something I can set whatever price I want for it, and interfering with that ability on my part is violating my right to property. Or maybe understanding, as my fellow blogger, Doug, does, that when Wal-Mart costs low income wage earners $4.7 billion in wages, but then provides them with $50 billion in reduced consumer costs it is a net win for folks earning under $35,000/year. Or, imagine if they actually understood that repairing hurricane damage is not a net gain for the economy. I won’t go on boring you with my silly examples of the good that might come out of it.

Instead, how about this thought. Each and every one of us is part of the economic system every day. We enjoy it. We like to earn money, get good deals, purchase goods and consume services. Economics is fun. Imagine how much more fun it would be if you understood it!

Oh, while I was at it, I discovered that Tim has a blog! Go check it out.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Libertarianism: A Religion?

A new article at QandO’s The New Libertarian by Anthony Woodlief that criticizes what he calls the “religious aspects” of Libertarianism. Go check it out, it’s pretty interesting

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Quote To Ponder

“A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.”

— Thomas Jefferson (Rights of British America, 1774)

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Wal-Mart And The War Against The Poor

Do a Google search for “anti Walmart” and you get your choice of about 6,880,000 links. The search term “walmart hurts america” returns 537,000 results. Clearly, there are plenty of folks out there who don’t like Wal-Mart. It hurts small business, they claim. It reduces wages, they assert. It contributes to suburban sprawl, claim others. As Sebastian Mallaby points out in today’s Washington Post, however, Wal-Mart has been a positive force in the economy and those who attempt to use the political arena to slow its expansion are, in reality, hurting the poor.

The average Wal-Mart customer earns $35,000 a year, compared with $50,000 at Target and $74,000 at Costco. Moreover, Wal-Mart’s “every day low prices” make the biggest difference to the poor, since they spend a higher proportion of income on food and other basics. As a force for poverty relief, Wal-Mart’s $200 billion-plus assistance to consumers may rival many federal programs. Those programs are better targeted at the needy, but they are dramatically smaller. Food stamps were worth $33 billion in 2005, and the earned-income tax credit was worth $40 billion.

Of course, Wal-Mart’s low prices aren’t an assistance program targeted at the poor, they are a competitive strategy that has succeeded marvelously by tapping in to a market that the Target’s and Costco’s of the world have neglected. If it weren’t for Wal-Mart, where would the people making $ 35,000 a year, or less, shop ? Sure, they’d find something but it wouldn’t be as cheap, or as convenient.

But what about those low wages ?

Arindrajit Dube of the University of California at Berkeley, a leading Wal-Mart critic, has calculated that the firm has caused a $4.7 billion annual loss of wages for workers in the retail sector. This number is disputed: Wal-Mart’s pay and benefits can be made to look good or bad depending on which other firms you compare them to. When Wal-Mart opened a store in Glendale, Ariz., last year, it received 8,000 applications for 525 jobs, suggesting that not everyone believes the pay and benefits are unattractive.

But let’s say we accept Dube’s calculation that retail workers take home $4.7 billion less per year because Wal-Mart has busted unions and generally been ruthless. That loss to workers would still be dwarfed by the $50 billion-plus that Wal-Mart consumers save on food, never mind the much larger sums that they save altogether. Indeed, Furman points out that the wage suppression is so small that even its “victims” may be better off. Retail workers may take home less pay, but their purchasing power probably still grows thanks to Wal-Mart’s low prices.

I disagree with Mallaby’s concession on the wage issue, but his point is valid nonetheless. More important, though, is the question of why those 8,000 people would want to work at Wal-Mart if conditions were so bad. The answer, of course, is that the Wal-Mart job is obviously more attractive to them than whatever the alternative might be in their hometown, assuming there even is a viable alternative. If Wal-Mart didn’t exist, the truth of the matter is that most of the people wearing the blue vest today either wouldn’t be employed at all or would working longer, more dangerous hours somewhere else. Just as Wal-Mart has benefited consumers at the lower end of the economic spectrum, it has benefited workers as well.

Of course, as Mallaby points out, the leftist critics of Wal-Mart are guilty of even greater hypocrisy

Wal-Mart’s critics also paint the company as a parasite on taxpayers, because 5 percent of its workers are on Medicaid. Actually that’s a typical level for large retail firms, and the national average for all firms is 4 percent. Moreover, it’s ironic that Wal-Mart’s enemies, who are mainly progressives, should even raise this issue. In the 1990s progressives argued loudly for the reform that allowed poor Americans to keep Medicaid benefits even if they had a job. Now that this policy is helping workers at Wal-Mart, progressives shouldn’t blame the company.

Its easy, I think, for the critics of Wal-Mart to say that the company should raise the wages it pays employees or increase health care benefits. For the most part, they don’t shop there and most of them probably don’t need to shop there. If Wal-Mart had to raise prices, they wouldn’t be the ones who would pay the price.

Wal-Mart is at the center of the globalized, technology-driven economy that’s radically increased American inequality, so it’s not surprising that it has critics. But globalization and business innovation are nonetheless the engines of progress; and if that sounds too abstract, think of the $200 billion-plus that Wal-Mart consumers gain annually. If critics prevent the firm from opening new branches, they will prevent ordinary families from sharing in those gains. Poor Americans will be chief among the casualties.

I will be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of Wal-Mart. I don’t enjoy shopping there, and the products they sell don’t appeal to me. For a large segment of America, however, Sam Walton’s creation has opened up opportunities that didn’t exist before. To argue that you care about the working poor at the same time you attack the one institution that has helped them the most in the past 20 years is the height of hypocrisy.

Cross-Posted at Below The Beltway

Diminution of Personal Responsibility

After reading an article by Doug Monroe, a senior editor at Creative Loafing (a lefty rag in Atlanta), I was reminded of the old Southern populism and classism that has recently been obscured by the “redness” that accompanied the election of G.W. Bush.

For well over a century, the South was dominated by the Democrat Party. Remember? You know…there was that whole secession thing, which resulted in war, followed by decades of legalized racial discrimination. Now, it might be a stretch, but one could argue that an impetus for the aforementioned mistreatment of the “non-white” population was, in part, to reduce competition by immorally using “free labor” and denigrating potential competitors. For just as slavery enriched the plantation owners (and their heirs) by eliminating labor costs, segregation during the Industrial Revolution prohibited Blacks (by and large) from accessing education and employment opportunities.

At this point, however, Blacks thrive in the South and in Atlanta in particular. The institutionalized racism has been virtually eradicated. That said though, the class-envy of Southern Democrats is alive and well, as Doug Monroe demagogically illustrates:

In other communities, the crent working for Wal-Mart in 2002. And Wal-Mart's numbers are way out of line when you bring other companies into the picture. The No. 2 company on the list, Publix, had only 734 children of employees on PeachCare. The average PeachCare recipient costs $1,274 a year. If you multiply that by Wal-Mart's 10,261, you get a total of more than $13 million in health care You agree that we shall not be liable to you or to any third party for any modification, suspension or discontinuance of the Web construction-jobs.info , or any part of portion thereof. costs borne by Georgia taxpayers.

First of all, notice that Mr. Monroe failed to include the total number of Publix employees in Georgia. Instead, he simply mentioned the number children benefiting from PeachCare. I suppose the actual ratio, as compared to that of Wal-Mart, was unimportant. Beyond that, the implication that Wal-Mart is obligated to insure its employees, and thereby forcing the Chip cialis state to use public funds for private medical care, is, in a word, ridiculous.

“That is a type of reverse welfare or corporate welfare,” says former Gov. Roy Barnes, now an attorney in Marietta. “I provide insurance for my employees. Why shouldn't [Wal-Mart] be providing it?”

Huh? With a statement like that, is there any wonder why Barnes was the first Democrat Governor to be defeated since Reconstruction?

A union that represents retail workers recently blasted Wal-Mart's deadbeat approach to employee health care at a state Capitol news conference. The United Food and Commercial Workers International is among the many unions whose organizing efforts have been swatted aside by the retail giant.

“The Wal-Mart model is to save as much money as it possibly can for the consumer, but it's saving money on the one hand and taking it out of- junk we didn't need in the first place.

Priceless…lefties salivating at the imagined possibility of the demise of a corporation that employs tens of thousands of “low skilled workers”, so that we can return to viagra cheap generic the bad-old-days of yesteryear, when healthcare was not even on the radar, unlike say, survival. Furthermore, small-town Southern life was fraught with wide-spread poverty and the subjugation of those not lucky enough to be born white and male. But even though I happen to be both white and male, I advocate progress and personal responsibility…despite my Southern heritage.

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Quote To Ponder: 11/28/05

“Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put in this world has been put there for a reason and has something to offer. It’s so hard for government planners, no matter how sophisticated, to ever substitute for millions of individuals working night and day to make their dreams come true. The fact is, bureaucracies are a problem around the world.”

— Ronald Reagan

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Another Reason Why Government Schools Suck

This story from the AP about a government school administration confiscating all copies of the official student newspaper. The reasons were because the paper had an article dealing with the success rate of certain kinds of birth control and it showed the picture of an unidentified student’s tattoo. Now clearly what the government school administrators want is control over this publication and they want to decide what gets printed and what doesn’t. All in all, the kids are getting an excellent civics lesson in what happens when you let the authorities decide can and can’t be printed. Also, they’re getting a lesson in why government schools are one of the biggest threats to liberty in America. They seek to instill values and ideas in our children that are the exact opposite of what our Founding Fathers believed and sending a child to one is to quote Neal Boortz, “a form of child abuse”. Anything that will weaken their power, ie. vouchers or any other school choice program, can only be described as a good thing.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Democracy and Tyranny

If you ask most people to compare democracy and tyranny, they will say that they are polar opposites, since no particular person can gain or abuse power without the consent of the majority. While even this is not true, as proven by Adolf Hitler’s rise to democratically-elected power, it is far from the end of the story. It is never considered whether the majority could oppress a minority, or even whether the majority could oppress itself.

First, let us address the majority oppressing the minority by looking at Social Security. Let me quote from my last article for this site:

With words like this FDR convinced an entire generation to trade away their liberty, and the liberty of their fellow citizens, in return for the promise of a brighter future. Roosevelt convinced a good part of the American population that the government could make better decisions for them than they could themselves. They saw the promise of mighty civic heroes acting to save them from the vagaries of circumstance.

The decision to give up control of one’s life to another, of course, is one every individual is free to make. The problem here is not that people are choosing to do this for themselves, but rather they are choosing to do it through the state, an institution that affects everyone. We all participate in and pay for FDR’s “great defense” program, even though a good number of us would rather not. Because FDR’s program is run through the state, a democracy, our preferences were ignored in favor of the majority.

Haughty equality vs. humble equality — posted 11/24/2005

How is Social Security tyranny? The issue is simple. I am oppressed by Social Security because I am forced to sacrifice some of my property by the state. I was never asked whether I would like to sacrifice some of my property to participate in the Social Security system. A majority, voting decades before I was born, made the decision that everyone should sacrifice some of their property to fund the Social Security system.

Many would argue that, since it was a democratic majority, it is not tyranny. From my vantage point as an individual, it makes no difference who decided I should give up property without my consent; I am oppressed because I am forced to do so. Simple, is it not?

Now, I can already hear some people saying that this Quincy fellow is just a selfish curmudgeon who doesn’t want to help his fellow Americans. While I am a generous person by choice, I resent being forced to do things without my consent. My perceived generosity, though, is neither here nor there in regards to the point of this essay.

Considering that most of the people who would raise the above objection have a certain view on another issue, let us examine that as our next case. Here’s the question: Would it be tyranny if the majority of people voted to ban abortion for everyone?

Ah, now the issue is not as clear cut, is it? If you believe that women should be able to get abortions, then such a vote would be horribly wrong in your mind. If you believe that they shouldn’t, such a vote would be a vindication. In this case, just as in the Social Security case, a majority voted to impose its will on a minority.

This brings us to another question: Does the size of a group that holds a position reflect the rightness of that position? While it should be clear from the last 5 millennia of human history that a majority can be terribly wrong, this is still a commonly held fallacy. Let us consider the case of the Catholic Church during the inquisition. It held the majority view that the earth was flat and everything rotated around it. As we know, from the work of Columbus, Galileo, Keppler, and Copernicus, these views were incorrect. Each of those four men contradicted the views held by millions, but these four were right and the millions were wrong.

If not democracy, then what? That is a good question. I’ve spent the last several paragraphs illustrating the problems of democracy, but I have not yet offered a better way. You may not believe this after reading the above, but democracy is part of the answer. The other part of the answer is the realization that certain things are so sacrosanct that they must never come up for a vote. First among these are the rights to life, liberty, and property. Second are those liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights. They are so important that, no matter what the majority wills, they cannot be abridged. This concept, that the law and natural rights are more important than the wills of men, is vital to ensuring that democracy does not become tyranny. It is something we must learn, or re-learn, before it is too late.

Thinking About Constitutional Issues

An opinion piece in the Washington Post today provides some good fodder for thinking on Constitutional issues, especially the all important 9th and 10th amendments and the power of the Federal court system. Although, overall, I have some problems with the editorial, I definitely enjoyed the opening paragraph:

Conservatives want courts to be stingy in creating and expanding constitutional rights — except when they don’t. Liberals want courts to be creative and expansive in interpreting the Constitution — except when they don’t.

To say that this is a broad generalization, and a significant misunderstanding of “rights”, would be fair. To say that it is a good characterization of social conservatives and liberals would also be fair. They have completely lost sight of what the Constitution is. The document is not a listing of what rights individuals have. Nor is it a document to empower the government to take whatever action a majority deems appropriate. The document actually does just two things.

  1. Establish the framework of the national government and enumerate the specific powers the government has.
  2. Provide specifically what powers the government does not have, and bound those powers as the limit of what the government may do

It is this framework that is so sorely misunderstood today. We see it every day when the Congress, aided and abetted by the President, the Courts, the pundits and the majority, establish laws and regulations dealing with schools, train crossings, welfare, growing marijuana, regulating gun ownership and much more.

What we see here is the belief that government is here to do things for us, rather than for us to do things for ourselves, with a government that ensures that no one is violating someone else’s rights. The writer, as might be expected on the Post, misses that fact herself. Although, to her credit, she sees the inherent problem in the position she takes:

Yet, if conservatives don’t actually have a zero-tolerance policy toward judicial activism, neither can liberals claim particular constitutional consistency. Those who believe, as Reinhardt does (and as I do), that the Constitution should be interpreted expansively enough to embrace protection for abortion and gay rights have a hard time explaining why that approach doesn’t encompass a broad view of parental rights.

And that, of course, is the problem. If you have a right to privacy, isn’t that right to privacy expansive to your entire life? Or is it only so for abortion, birth control and what sort of sex you have?

And, there is a deeper problem, of course. One that the left will never admit. That problem is simply this. None of this would be an issue for the Federal government if the left had not pushed the powers of the Federal government into every nook and cranny of our lives during the New Deal and Great Society, especially after the switch in time that saved nine gave FDR essentially a free hand. The problem is not that the constitution is interpreted incorrectly. The problem is that we have tossed the constitution out the window, kept a veneer, a fig leaf, and proceeded to create a government that is exactly what our Founding Fathers rebelled against: Run by Rule of Man, not Rule of Law, expansive, intrusive, and anti-liberty.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Quote To Ponder

It’s as true today as it was when de Tocqueville wrote it.

Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.

The left continues to try and obfuscate their goals, to create the myth that socialism can somehow result in liberty for the individual. But, when the state, directly or indirectly, controls your economic environment, then you cannot have liberty at the same time. Property ownership is the foundation of liberty. The fact that the left is not upset by eminent domain or the Kelo decision (see this entry and this entry for evidence) should be all that you need to understand that the left’s position is not one of liberty and protection of inherent rights. Nothing has changed but the rhetoric.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

A Better Political Spectrum

Let’s talk about a better way to understand politics than the current conservative/center/liberal spectrum, which really is simplistic, contradictory and disguises some things that are very important in Western political thought. The current spectrum that most people accept looks something like this (this is almost exactly what my high school American Govt teacher drew on the board, IIRC):

Just about the first problem we see is that as you slide from the Center to either the Right or Left you start approaching totalitarian forms of government. And, unless you happen to be either a Fascist or a Communist, you can see fairly easily that there is very little difference in practical purposes between the two extremes. Either this is very cynical and pessimistic and we are doomed to extremism no matter what or it is not realistic. So, let’s quickly define a few terms and then start down the road of what a more realistic and understandable political spectrum would look like. » Read more

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Massachussetts’ Blue Laws

Doesn’t this seem a bit over the top? Even for the People’s Republic of Massachussetts?

Massachusetts’ attorney general is launching an investigation into several supermarkets that opened on Thanksgiving in defiance of the state’s Puritan-era Blue Laws.

Then again, maybe the author of the article is a bit over the top, considering the later quote from the owner of the supermarket, the Super 88.

Super 88 officials said they didn’t know about the warnings.

“We don’t celebrate” Thanksgiving, said Rudy Chen, a former manager of a Super 88 in Chinatown who now works at the chain’s headquarters. He said the store he managed was always open on Thanksgiving and no one complained.

Apparently, this constitutes defiance. There is, as usual, more to the story than is being reported. Barely mentioned in this article is the fact that the Whole Foods chain of stores was prevented from being open on Thanksgiving due to these same laws and the complaint of a competitor. Here’s this article’s bit on it.

Reilly’s office had earlier warned the Whole Foods supermarket chain not to open on Thanksgiving after a competitor complained. Wal-Mart, Family Dollar and Big Lots also received warnings.

It turns out, however, that there is more to the story than just this little blurb. From an earlier article, on the Whole Foods chain:

The Massachusetts attorney general has handed Whole Foods Market Inc. a real retail turkey.

The Austin-based natural and organic foods retailer had planned to open its 14 Massachusetts stores on Thanksgiving. But the state’s attorney general, Thomas Reilly, told Whole Foods that it risked criminal charges if it conducted business that day at its Massachusetts stores, The Boston Globe reported Saturday.

[ ….. ]

Reilly’s attention was drawn to the proposed Whole Foods openings after competitor Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc. lodged a complaint. Shaw’s, based in West Bridgewater, Mass., is a division of Boise, Idaho-based Albertson’s Inc.

But wait, there’s more yet. In this Boston Globe article, we discover yet more information on the whole thing.

The state’s blue laws were first enacted in the 1600s, intended to prevent colonists from straying from church or hearth to drink or transact business. In their current form, the laws ban retailers with more than seven employees from opening on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Pharmacies may stay open.

That makes no sense to me. Have you ever gone out to get the one thing you forgot, on Thanksgiving day? Usually, the only store you can find is a 7-11, which invariably does not have what you need, or does it have it, but the wrong brand. And always for a far higher price than you would pay in a regular grocery store. The esteemed Attorney General of Massachussetts explained.

Reilly told the Globe this week that tradition, and giving workers a day off, outweighs shopper convenience. ”Thanksgiving is a time when people should be with their families, not working,” he said.

A light begins to dawn. The truth is that the secular, leftist government of Massachussetts is no different from their Puritan forebears, except that they don’t like religious governments. They are still busy deciding what is best for the citizens of their state. Reilly is going to decide for you and I whether we should be able to go get that can of yams we just have to have. He’s going to decide for the employees of Whole Foods whether they can work on Thanksgiving, or not. He’s going to decide for the management of Whole Foods whether they will be able to be open, or not, on that day. It doesn’t matter to him if it is a good business decision for the store, or a good economic decision for consumers, or a good income decision for the employees.

It turns out, although I can’t find that article now, that Whole Foods was not going to require any employee to work on Thanksgiving, it would have been purely voluntary. And, rather than paying them the 150% of normal salary that is usual on a holiday, Whole Foods was going to pay the workers who volunteered 200% of their normal wage. Considering that most supermarket employees don’t earn a huge amount of money, I’m guessing that the holiday pay might have been very welcome, especially going into the Christmas shopping season. But, of course, the paternalistic government of Massachussetts knows what is best for those employees.

This is the sort of government intervention and decision making that has contributed to a 20% unemployment rate in France, and one nearly as high in Germany. When companies are deciding whether to do business somewhere, one of the things they take into consideration are laws like these, that constrain their ability to make appropriate decisions for their business. Often times they will decide to locate the business somewhere else that does not have as restrictive a business environment.

Aside from that, the question we have to ask ourselves is this. Who is better able to make these decisions? The individual citizen and business? Or the state? Ask yourself if you would rather have the option to make this decision for yourself, or not? Is it appropriate for the state to decide for you when you can and cannot work, when you can and cannot sell goods to others? Can they better determine the best outcome than you can?

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Thanks for the Banners!

A couple of days ago I asked for some help with graphics for The Liberty Papers. I will freely admit that I’m not good with graphics and images. Fortunately, Mark Rayner and Stephen Macklin came to my rescue. And they did a great job, too! Check out the banners they provided: The Liberty Papers Banners.

As promised, I’m plugging both of them on The Liberty Papers.

Mark, it should be noted, is an author with a great Indy book out, The Amadeus Net. It’s a great satirical comedy, well worth the price of admission.

Stephen is a graphic artist and does this kind of thing for a living. If you are ever in need of that sort of work, drop him a line!

I think one other person is working on banners as well. Those will almost certainly get added to the rotating banners.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Self Respect > Self Esteem!

Readers who have become familiar with my writings over the past few months may have noticed a very prevalent theme – that of the individual and their own personal response to the world around them. Examples can be found in Do You HAVE Character, or ARE You a Character, Freedom OF Thought or Freedom FROM Thought, and Libertarianism = Personal Responsibility. This post also goes rather hand in hand I think with Quincy’s post on Humble equality vs. haughty equality.

The reasons that I am so enamoured of subjects pertaining to the character is that I clearly see that ONLY by cultivation of positive traits in the individual can we hope to ever engender a change in society.

I’ve titled this piece Self Respect (is greater than) Self Esteem, because I feel that a distinction needs to be made in how we have been and are being educated in our public schools and how that focus should make a shift to promote positive self-image through self-respect (not self-esteem) .

For many years, our schools, psychologists, psychiatrists, parents, etc. have pushed the notions that self-esteem is the absolute pinnacle upon which success or failure in life rests – that without self-esteem, we are unable to survive this world.

In fact, the evidence over the years has shown just the opposite – overinflated egos and grandiose impressions of self-worth abound. Parents allowing children to “do their own thing” for fear of stunting their growth as persons coupled with the ideas of “you’re as good as (with the implication being that you’re really better than) anyone else” being promoted in the public school system are ruining our youth, and have already had disasterous effects on our country.

Some young people are introspective enough to realize that something is amiss. The teen rates of suicide, anorexia, self-mutiliation, etc. have skyrocketed in the last 50 years. I believe there is a direct correlation of the self-abuse rate and the changes in what our children are being taught both at school and at home. Those Teens and even young children who have not been jaded by an over inflated self-esteem realize that there are others who are prettier, more handsome, taller, shorter, thinner, more muscular, etc. They know their own hearts and can see that all is not beautiful and lovely inside. It leads to poor self-image and hatred – depending on other factors – of either self or everyone else. Such hatred is what leads to anorexia, self-mutilation – and situations like Columbine.

Self-respect is what should be stressed to our children rather than self-esteem. It is self-respect that teaches children that the company of those who look down on them is not acceptable or desired. Within self-respect teaching is room for humility, and that’s a good thing. Gifts bestowed on some may be more readily apparent (physical attractiveness or sterling intellect) but if encouraged to seek out those less apparent gifts, young people can learn to not base their self worth on self-image or an inflated self-esteem.

My sister and I were chatting over the cooking of our family Thanksgiving Dinner yesterday, and this was one of the things we were talking about. We both have and have had friends, who allowed themselves to be treated like doormats by boyfriends or spouses. Thanks to the strong upbringing we had from parents who cherished us and were diligent to correct the misconceptions taught in public school, we both learned self-respect at an early age. As such, it’s hard for us to imagine giving up our self-respect to be treated as we see them allowing themselves to be treated. It’s important to teach children from a young age that if they’re mistreated by someone within their peer-group that they need not feel pressure to fit in or appease them – it’s best to just move on. No one should ever desire to be where they’re not wanted – because that leads only to heartache, frustration, and compromised values. And self-respect teaches children to move out and move on.

As an example – we were out a few months ago at a small public event where a group of folks we knew (and many we didn’t) were sitting around in lawn chairs. Our daughters (then 8 & 10) were playing and invited another little girl (unknown to them) and her sister to sit and play with them. The younger quickly accepted the invitation but her sister (probably about 13) responded “I don’t play with children”. One of my daughters spoke up and said to her “My sister and I play with anyone we want to play with, regardless of age.” I didn’t get to hear about the comment first hand – but heard about it later through a third party. It really tickled me, and I wondered if the 13 year old had the sense to comprehend the stinging rebuke issued her by a child she considered beneath her. It pleased me as a mother to hear that perhaps my teachings are not falling on deaf ears.

One of the maxims that my family hears me repeat fairly often is “there should always be some thing that you’re NOT willing to do for money”. We’ve never watched reality TV shows because, first off, they bear no resemblance to reality, and second, we have better things to do with our time. But it was when I first saw some of the teaser commercials for “Fear Factor” that I first issued that proclamation to my family – and I still feel strongly about it. Eating some kind of hideous or horrendous concoction is not something I would ever do for money. To keep from starving, perhaps – but not for money. And even if starving, there are some things I wouldn’t do – and cannibalism would be one of the boundaries I don’t think I could ever cross. There are things worse than death. You see, self respect would not allow it, as I don’t think I could live with myself if I crossed that boundary.

Self-respect is also important in the working world. It allows one to take responsibility for ones mistakes – and sometimes to concede if there is a question. It does not, however, lead to accepting responsibility carte-blanche. I’ve been in situations where I found I had to stand up for myself on principal and have done so. Sometimes to be promoted for it, other times to be chastised – but always to know within heart and mind that I’d done right. It’s a much better way to live – and easier to live with yourself when you’ve got self-respect. I’ll take it any day over an inflated self esteem.

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

The Sovereign Individual

When you combine this post with my earlier post on TANSTAAFL, you find the core principles that make up my political philosophy. Getting to know and understand me means understanding these things about me. Some of you will have seen this before on Eric’s Grumbles. I’m moving a few posts of this type over here, slowly, so that those who read here, but not there, can see these as well.

Around the Life, Liberty & Property Community, and some related blogs that aren’t part of the community, there’s been a burst of writing this week on individual rights. And it’s really good stuff. Brad Warbiany writes about a Right to Privacy and Abortion, one of the best posts on the topic I have ever seen. Stephen Littau tackled the War on Drugs in his entry More Mandatory Minimums Madness. Or, there is Coyote’s Immigration, Individual Rights and the New Deal, where Coyote lays out the foundation for individual rights as clearly and succinctly as anything I’ve seen in modern writing. There’s a lot more out there, and I’m fairly sure we are going to see much of it in the Carnival of Liberty this week. In fact, since Left Brain Female is hosting it, I would guess we’ll see her entry, Libertarianism=Personal Responsibility again. Since it was this entry that prompted me to write of the Sovereign Individual, I think I ought to show you why.

We talk much of individual rights, states rights, freedom of speech, second amendment rights, etc. but in all this talk of rights, we also must begin to stress that along with rights comes a great commission – and that is that of personal responsibility.

As usual, I appear to find myself in the smallest minority, the one that understands that rights and responsibility are inherent. They aren’t things that one can, or cannot, “take”. They are part of the state of being. And they are not affected by what sort of community one lives within, or government that one is subject to. Indeed, the core understanding of my principles is that the individual is sovereign. Ayn Rand once said “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” This is one of the foundational ideas of Objectivism, which is a philosophy for individuals, societies and governments espoused by Rand. The key thing that Objectivism misses, though, is the idea of moral responsibility. It is not enough to hold individual rights or to make the best decisions based just on self. Because, always, TANSTAAFL is an immutable rule of the universe. And that is where Rational Anarchy comes in. Robert Heinlein, who first described Rational Anarchy, said “A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame . . . as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else.” To that end, we need to realize where sovereignty, itself, is housed. Which brings us, finally, to the title of this post, and the reason for it. Sovereign, as an adjective, means self-governing, or independent. We understand that a sovereign nation is completely responsible for its actions as a nation, the conduct of its leaders, the laws and police powers it applies to its citizens. And, just as importantly, we understand that there is no law that is superior to that of a sovereign nation, unless that nation chooses to agree to such law. Using this understanding of sovereign, and observing the behavior of individuals, both in and out of a social group, we can understand that ultimately sovereignty is housed within the individual. Which is what a Rational Anarchist believes.

This sovereignty does not exist because of the inherent rights of the individual, but rather because of the inherent responsibility and power of the individual. Every action is, ultimately, the result of the decision of an individual. This applies even to the ultimate expression of national sovereignty, making war. When the left wing anti-war pacifist declares that war will happen until individual citizens reject such behavior, they are implicitly acknowledging what I’m writing here, even though I’m certain that the vast majority of such folks are collectivists who will reject the entire basis of the sovereign individual. The fact is, though, that whether the combat of war involves pulling the trigger of a rifle or pushing the button to launch a nuclear missile, it is always a sovereign individual, completely and totally responsible for their actions, that must make the decision to commit the act. With our current understanding of government and societies, we recognize that they are established to protect certain inherent rights, including life, liberty and property. What is important, though, is to understand that those inherent rights are the result of behavior by the individual, behavior that establishes sovereignty. The individual creates rights by taking, holding and improving property, by defending their life, by the acts of free association and free movement. And in the very act of making the decision to take such actions, the individual establishes that they are sovereign.

Ultimately, there is no law supreme to the individual, except such laws as they acknowledge and agree to. The prohibition on murdering a fellow human would be of no value if the vast majority of us did not agree to abide by the prohibition. A government could pass a law prohibiting murder and empower police to take action against those who do, but if the mass of individuals subjected to such a law refused to obey it, there would be nothing that the government could do. In fact, we see such a truth in the War on Drugs, and other vices (such as prostitution), or the speed limits on the freeways. What would happen if all of us, within our own sovereign responsibility decided that we not only would not obey the speed limits but we would not stop and allow ourselves to receive a ticket from police officers? Suddenly the speed limits would be without value and it would be completely impossible for a limited number of law enforcement officials to actually enforce this law. Or, from a practical, historical perspective, we only need to look to the revolutions that brought about the downfall of authoritarian, communist governments in Eastern Europe and Russia. So long as the mass of citizens in those countries acknowledged the authority of their government, their government was valid and had power. When those citizens decided that the government no longer would be granted power by those citizens, the government ceased to be. The individuals constituting the government could have chosen, of course, to try and exert power to re-establish their authority, but this would not have undone the sovereignty of those individuals at all.

What’s the point of this discussion? Simply this. It is, of course, true that libertarianism equals personal responsibility. For responsibility for your actions and your moral decisions is inherent to you, the individual. Whether you want to accept it, or not. Your individual responsibility comes before your individual rights. It is what establishes your individual rights. And it cannot be taken from you, nor abdicated by you. No matter what anyone who believes in collectivism, of any political variety, may try to say, this fact, that you are sovereign and responsible for each and every action and decision is an unalterable, immutable fact of intelligence and consciousness. This fact, by itself, makes collectivism of any stripe morally wrong, but that isn’t really the point of this essay. The point is much simpler. Whether you choose to acknowledge it, or not, you are responsible for everything that you do, or don’t do. Trying to shift that blame is self-delusion. This is the difference between a child and an adult. An adult is capable, emotionally and mentally, of accepting responsibility for self, a child is not. You, ultimately, are sovereign, subject only to your own morals and ethics, responsible for yourself.

Originally posted at Eric’s Grumbles.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball
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