Category Archives: Culture

Hollywood Goes Galt: Your Vote for Dagny Taggart

julia_robertsAngelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts or Anne Hathaway?

Here’s the background from The Hollywood Reporter:

Hollywood could soon be going Objectivist.

After decades in development hell, Ayn Rand’s capitalism-minded “Atlas Shrugged” is taking new steps toward the big screen — with one of the film world’s most prominent money men potentially at its center.

Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media is circling the Baldwin Entertainment project and could come aboard to finance with Lionsgate, which got involved several years ago.

Rand’s popular but polarizing book — it’s derided by many literary critics but has a huge public following — tells the story of Dagny Taggart, a railroad executive trying to keep her corporation competitive in the face of what she perceives as a lack of innovation and individual responsibility.

A number of stars have expressed serious interest in playing the lead role of Taggart. Angelina Jolie previously had been reported as a candidate to play the strong female lead, but the list is growing and now includes Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway.

Although it was written a half-century ago, producers say that the book’s themes of individualism resonate in the era of Obama, government bailouts and stimulus packages — making this the perfect time to bring the 1,100-page novel to the big screen.

“This couldn’t be more timely,” said Karen Baldwin, who along with husband Howard is producing, with film industry consultant John Logigian advising on the project. “It’s uncanny what Rand was able to predict — about the only things she didn’t anticipate are cell phones and the Internet.”

Not that I’d kick any of them from my private little Tea Party, but I think Julia Roberts may play the role the best.  I love Jolie, but she may a bit too glamorous.  I always pictured Dagny as attractive, well-spoken, but very practical.  Sexy at times, common sense at others, bright and hard working always.  This seems to describe Roberts to a T.  I snagged this photo from Best Google Images, as I can picture Dagny looking like this (at the rare moment when her sleeves aren’t all rolled up) while hanging around for a while in Galt’s Gulch.

The Liberty Papers Welcomes Fellow “Militia Members” and Enemies of the State

Are you an enemy of the state? Chances are if you are reading The Liberty Papers, you are! According to a new report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center, “The Modern Militia Movement” authored by Governor Nixon and Attorney General Koster, signs that you may be a domestic terrorist or militia member include:

– You supported Ron Paul or 3rd party candidates such as Chuck Baldwin or Bob Barr in the 2008 election (Guilty!)

– You have “anti-government,” Campaign for Liberty, Gadsden Flag, and “libertarian” bumper stickers on his or her vehicle or possess other related literature (Guilty!)

-Anyone involved in The Campaign for Liberty (I’m sure that anyone associated with the Tea Parties or those in the “Going Galt” movement should also be considered a threat)

-People who frequently visit or participate in libertarian related blogs, discussion boards, or websites (Guilty!)

-Those who write about or talk about the coming economic collapse of the U.S. (Guilty!)

Basically, anyone who distrusts the state on any level could be profiled as a potential militia member, domestic terrorist, or enemy of the state.

I first learned of this report from the video clip below (Glenn Beck with Penn Jillete as his guest).

So what does Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr, and Ron Paul think about being associated with domestic terrorism?

Chuck Baldwin’s response:

Can you imagine the fallout of this preposterous report had the names Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Maxine Waters been used instead of the names Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr?

Accordingly, Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and I wrote a formal letter to the above-named Missouri officials demanding “that the following-described document be immediately removed from any and all websites associated with or maintained by the state of Missouri or any agency thereof, including the MIAC; that the said document no longer be circulated by the state of Missouri or any agency thereof or associated therewith; and that the state of Missouri repudiate its references to the three of us contained therein.”

Bob Barr seems to be content with the response he co-wrote with Baldwin and Paul, at least for now (I haven’t found any response so far from Barr other than the aforementioned letter)

Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, however; is not taking this laying down and is circulating a Citizen’s Petition for Redress of Grievance

Both Ron Paul and Campaign for Liberty champion principles of freedom, peace, and prosperity. We believe that the Founder’s vision for America can be reclaimed through education and peaceful activism.

Simply supporting the Constitution does not make you worthy of a watch list; it makes you a Patriot.

I find it interesting that some (mostly Democrats) who when Bush was president said that dissent was patriotic now get nervous when anyone dares to question the policies of “The Messiah” a.k.a. “The Chosen One” a.k.a. President Obama. To be against this enlightened being is to commit heresy and obviously should be considered a wild-eyed, dangerous enemy of the state.

Well, believe it or not, not everyone believes that the direction Obama and the Democrat controlled federal government are in the best interest of those who value the rights of life, liberty, and property. The State has become an enemy to these very basic human rights.

Does this make me an enemy of the state? Well, I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as a “friend of the state.”

To those of you who have my name on a watch list and reading this, you can take that statement however you like.

Don’t Tread on Me!

Obama’s Policy to Fight Mexican Drug Cartels is Doomed to Fail

The Obama administration, rather than dealing with the root cause of the violence along the Mexican border, has decided to adopt a policy to deal with the symptoms. The problem is that this policy will neither alleviate the symptoms nor come close to treating the problem.

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration promised Tuesday to help Mexico fight its drug war by cutting off the cartels’ supply of guns and profits, while resisting the Texas governor’s call for a troop surge at the border to ward off spillover violence.

Let’s assume for a moment that Obama’s policy to prevent Mexico bound firearms from leaving the U.S. 100% successful. Given the fact that the drug cartels can acquire firearms from other sources (such as corrupt Mexican government agents with access to firearms among other sources) the only difference would be that the firearms are no longer coming from the U.S.

The Obama administration correctly identifies that the drug cartels are so powerful because of the profitability of the illicit drug trade. It’s this ability to make enormous profits, particularly in an impoverished country as Mexico, that attracts players into the business and makes corruption on the part of government officials almost irresistible. Unfortunately, though the Obama administration has identified the profitability of the drug trade as the source of the drug cartels’ power, there is clearly a profound misunderstanding of the way basic economics work (as if the bailouts, handouts, and myriad of other government programs were not proof enough).

The steps announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano – 450 federal agents shifted to border duty, supplied with dogs trained to detect both drugs and cash, and scanners to check vehicles and railcars heading into Mexico – amount to a subtle but important shift:

The blockade of contraband will now be a two-way effort. The fence begun under the Bush administration will be completed, to deter smugglers of drugs and workers. But the new emphasis will be on disrupting the southbound flow of profits and weapons that fuel the cartels.

At his televised news conference Tuesday, President Barack Obama said that for now, it’s more important to disrupt the cartels’ access to profits and weapons than to fortify the border with soldiers.

“That’s what makes them so dangerous,” he said. “The steps that we’ve taken are designed to make sure that the border communities in the United States are protected and you’re not seeing a spillover of violence. … If the steps that we’ve taken do not get the job done, then we will do more.”

So what’s wrong with this approach? The basic economic law of supply and demand tells us that whenever a product is in high demand (drugs in this case) and the supply is lower (in this case by successful drug interdiction by the U.S. governemnt), those who supply the given demand stand to profit more NOT LESS! Whether Obama’s policy results in a decrease in the supply of drugs of 1% or 99%, those drugs which do make it to the end customer will pay even more to get them.

I would even go as far as to say that the Mexican drug cartels would cheer this policy. Sure, the cartels might have more difficulty moving their product into the U.S. and their profit and firearms out of the U.S. but for the most clever smugglers, these enhanced drug interdiction efforts would filter out the competition! (And we know how black market operators hate competition).

On some level, I do believe that even the political class understand this but somewhere, there is a disconnect. Just yesterday in her visit to Mexico, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that the war on (some) drugs over the past 30+ years “has not worked.”

“Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade.”

And now the disconnect:

“Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians…”

Mrs. Clinton apparently recognizes how the war on (some) drugs has been an abject failure fails to realize that the Chosen One’s policies will do little to reverse this trend. If she truly wants to do something productive, something has to be done about what she (correctly) describes as this “insatiable demand” for these drugs. She seems to understand that the “Just say No” campaign didn’t work but does she and others within the Obama administration really believe that more drug hysteria PSA’s will do anything to curb this demand?

Given how the Obama administration has decided to deal with the drug war related violence along the border, I’m not optimistic. If spending billions of dollars annually on this insane war on (some) drugs which has contributed to leading the world in the number of people in prison (imprisoning 1 out of every 100 adults; more than half of the U.S. prison population is there because of drug related offenses) has failed to curb the demand, then perhaps it’s time to try a different approach.

Nothing short of legalizing the drug trade will stop the violence, so why does the politicos, law enforcement, and government bureaucrats at almost every level continue the same “get tough” policy which clearly has not worked? The only conclusion I can come to: they must be high.

Abandoning the Rule of Law

The United States is a banana republic. The Jeffersonian ideal of a series of republics built upon enlightenment values of freedom and reason has died. It wasn’t a sudden death, like that which occurs in a car crash; where one can pinpoint to the second where death occurred. Rather it was a slow lingering death, with organ after organ gradually slowing, a long twilight that ended in the dark of a moonless night.

Some would argue that this is a melodramatic claim, made by some bitter conservative in reaction to the evolution of society, the rantings of a “dead-ender” in knee-jerk opposition to the inevitable and gradual improvement of society. We can test whether or not they are right by comparing the principles of a free society to those dominating the U.S. right now.

The Principles of the Rule of Law

First let us examine whether or not we live under a rule of law.

Joseph Raz described the rule of law as possessing the following properties:

  • Laws are prospective rather than retroactive.
  • Laws are stable and not changed too frequently, as lack of awareness of the law prevents one from being guided by it.
  • There are clear rules and procedures for making laws.
  • The independence of the judiciary has to be guaranteed.
  • The principles of natural justice should be observed, particularly those concerning the right to a fair hearing.
  • The courts should have the power to review the way in which the other principles are implemented.
  • The courts should be accessible; no man may be denied justice.
  • The discretion of law enforcement and crime prevention agencies should not be allowed to pervert the law.

Clearly most of these principles are currently violated, blatantly and routinely:

  • The list of retroactive laws are legion.  Two that leap to mind are the new tax on AIG bonuses, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act.
  • Anybody who has watched the legislative process in Congress closely would recognize that the laws are not only not stably maintained, but are changing bewilderingly often, with little notice and even less opportunity for people negatively affected by the law to present their case to legislators
  • The rules and procedures for making laws are anything but clear.  Witness this essay on the Master Resource blog concerning how the Federal government is going to establish regulations on CO2.
  • In an era when any prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich and make it stick, the nominal independence of the judiciary is meaningless. Furthermore, many of the judges in the U.S. legal system abrogate their independence routinely, witness the “deference to the executive” given in numerous critical cases concerning the limit of government power
  • The principles of natural justice have been thrown out of the window.  How can people contest the charges against them, if the evidence is kept secret from them and their lawyers?  How can a government that passes laws allowing contracts to be retroactively rewritten and used as the basis of fines claim to respect any natural law? How can a government that denies people the right to publish what they want, to own weapons for their own defense, to enter into contracts with anyone they want lay any claim to respecting natural justice?  How can a person obey the law, when even the legislators and the executive branch are ignorant as to what the law is?  How can asset forfeiture, where people who have not been convicted of any crime have their property seized by the government which then sells it or uses it for its own pleasure, be compatible with any notion of due process?
  • Nor are the courts accessible…  The laws and procedures of the legal system have become so byzantine that only an expert can navigate them.  And, sad to say,  a handful of people have been detained in a manner that was clearly designed to prevent them from reaching any court, and few people in government have protested.
  • There are two ways that law enforcement may abuse their discretion in such a way as to pervert the law.  One is to turn a blind eye to violations of the law, such as that which occurred in the 19th century when a group of white men murdered a black man.  This is out of fashion – with the famous exception of the “blue wall of silence“.  The other is to “charge stack” – to use its powers to detain and investigate to pursue people frivolously and maliciously  despite its foreknowledge that such an investigation would not in fact turn up a serious crime.   This abuse is systemic.  People are over-charged with tens or even hundreds of charges for a single act by prosecutors who hope to coerce a guilty plea out of a defendant facing hundreds of years of jail time. Often the frivolous investigations are directed against the family members or loved ones of the prosecutor’s target. Take the prosecution of Greg Anderson for his refusal to testify against Barry Bonds; prosecutors are investigating family members in an obvious attempt to coerce his testimony.  This is not a new problem, the IRS is notorious for this tactic.

Now that we have established that the rule of law is effectively dead, the next question to ask is whether or not the rule of law is worth defending?  One can even argue that the rule of law is some unrealizable ideal, laws don’t enforce themselves, they are enforced by men.  So why should we bemoan the failure to live up to some unrealizable ideal?  The answer is, of course, that how well the lawmakers, and law enforcers adhere to the principles of the rule of law is a necessary precondition of how wealthy, prosperous, and pleasant a society is.  All of the principles of the rule of law have at their root a governing set of axioms:

  • The law applies to all equally.
  • The law is not capricious – people can know beforehand which actions are lawful and which are not
  • The law is generated in a manner that allows all affected people to have a voice in crafting it, and that it is not produced by a special class of people for their own interests.

You cannot violate Raz’ principles without producing a society that fails to satisfy those axioms.  A society that applies the law differently to different people, or is capricous and unpredictable, where the laws are crafted for the benefit of some at the expense of others is a society that discourages productive activities and encourages predatory activities, one that is on the fast track towards tyranny.

Where to Now?

I am not concerned with pointing the finger of blame at any individuals or classes of people. Nor am I concerned with reestablishing the past. Murray Rothbard famously commented the the rot set in before the Treaty of Paris was signed. L Neil Smith pointed to the convention which wrote the U.S. Constitution as the moment the death began, calling it a coup. It is clear that the death began in the 19th century, and has been accelerating in the 20th. Merely dialing the clock back will not address the root causes of the death.

The root cause of the death is the fact that the vast majority of the U.S. populace is completely ignorant of what the rule of law is, and the dangers that accompany its abandonment.  Too many people are willing to make deals with the devil for their own benefit, or out of a desire to be left alone.  Too many people are interested in short-term gain to recognize how destructive these policies they accept, or even cheer at will be in the coming months.  Convincing them to change their ways is a difficult, and even quite likely an impossible task.

The change that must happen is not simply the election of a different president, or exchanging one political party’s control of Congress for that of another.  It is not a question of impoved ballot access laws.  Nor is it a question of storing a shotgun loaded with deer slugs in one’s closet.

What is required is a divorce.   Seccession.  Emigration.  Passive disobedience.  The construction of alternate institutions that bypass the state.

Such actions come at a price, people lose their income, friends, and even their families’ support.  But, as unprincipled government takes its toll, those losses will become less and less significant for larger numbers of people, and our numbers will grow.  The more the state takes, the more people will resist.  Four hundred years ago, monarchs whose treasuries had been emptied by the religious wars of the Reformation began selling charters to colonies in the New World as a means of raising money.  The flight of people to the New World, and the tax competition it trigerred led to the flowering of liberty and the spread of Enlightenment values.  If we lay the groundwork now, the coming collapse can be turned to our advantage.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Who is John Galt?

This question is asked repeatedly in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged until Galt himself introduces himself to a world in crisis. In light of this new phenomenon of “Going Galt” being encouraged by Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and many others (particularly on the Right), this question deserves a serious answer. How else would it be possible for individuals to “Go Galt” without answering the question: Who is John Galt?

I would begin answering the question by explain who Galt is not. John Galt is not someone who merely caps the limits on his productivity to avoid being pushed into a higher tax bracket. What Galt does in Atlas Shrugged is much more radical: going on strike by refusing to produce anything for the benefit of society. Galt seeks out other high achievers and convinces them to do the same and help him build a society of their own.

Are these folks who claim to be “Going Galt” prepared to do this? Would Michelle Malkin et. al even be considered by Galt to be invited into his society?

Hardly.

To be invited to Galt’s Gulch one has to demonstrate that s/he has rejected the false virtues of altruism, collectivism, and mysticism (religion) and embrace his virtues of selfishness, reason, objective reality, and capitalism. While Malkin and Co. pay lip service to capitalism (especially when their people are not in control of the levers of power), their remaining values run counter to that of Galt’s. Is it not these very people who wish to erect religious monuments on government property, demand that Intelligent Design (Creationism) be taught alongside evolution in government schools, encourage individual sacrifice for the “greater good,” and wish to ratchet up the War on (Some) Drugs despite the evidence that the policy is completely counterproductive?

Now that I have pointed out what John Galt is not, perhaps I should allow the man to speak for himself in this modern dramatization* from the novel:

How many of those who say they are “Going Galt” prepared to embrace this philosophy by taking the following pledge:

“I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

While I am pleased that the Galt trend is bringing some much needed attention to Atlas Shrugged, it’s my hope that more individuals will actually read the book and learn exactly what Going Galt is all about. That way when someone says “I am John Galt,” those who have been educated can respond by saying: “I know John Galt and you sir are no John Galt!”

UPDATE: XCowboy2 has released a newer version called “This is John Galt Speaking 2.0.” Enjoy!

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