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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Most Important Lesson Of The Holocaust

British historian David Irving was recently sentenced to 3 years in jail under Austrian laws that make Holocaust denial a crime. Russ Roberts* writes about the David Irving affair at http://cafehayek.typepad.com/hayek/2006/02/its_good_to_hav.html:

As a Jew, it never ceases to amaze me that people think the most important lesson of the Holocaust is that anyone, even civilized Germans who love Bach and Beethoven, can become murderers. Or that the most important lesson is that hatred is wrong. Hatred is immortal. People say, "never again" as if saying it is sufficient to prevent future holocausts. But saying it is not sufficient without limiting the power of government to imprison and kill people.

To me, the most important lesson of the Holocaust is that only governments can kill millions of people. Murdering millions requires absolute power. So I want governments to be weaker rather than stronger. That's why I like the First and the Second Amendments. And why I'm glad I don't live in Austria.

"Only governments can kill millions. . . ." Something to remember!

This reminds me of the words of Thoreau (http://eserver.org/Thoreau/civil1.html):

I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto,—"That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe,—"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

It also reminds me of a 1994 book by R. J. Rummel, "Death By Government". In a 1994 review of this book, the Future of Freedom Foundation's Richard M. Eberling wrote (http://www.fff.org/freedom/1094f.asp),

How many people, in fact, have been killed by government violence in the 20th century? Not deaths in wars and civil wars among military combatants, but mass murder of civilians and innocent victims with either the approval or planning of governments — the intentional killings of their own subjects and citizens or people under their political control? The answer is: 169,198,000. If the deaths of military combatants are added to this figure, governments have killed 203,000,000 in the 20th century.

The numbers boggle the mind! No wonder so many thoughtful people throughout history have come to the conclusion that government must be limited!

* One of my favorite blogs is "Cafe Hayek /Where Orders Emerge" (http://www.cafehayek.com/), run by Russ Roberts and Don Boudreaux of the Economics Department at George Mason University in Virginia.

National Service

Many people have pointed out that service in the armed forces is not the only way for young people to "serve their country". Many such people often cite service through AmeriCorps (http://www.americorps.gov/) as an alternative to military service. But is a government-sponsored organization the only way for young people to "serve their country"? And is there a difference between serving one's country and serving the government of one's country?

In a March 1990 article "re-printed" today (2/28/2006) at fee.org, economist Thomas J. DiLorenzo writes (http://www.fee.org/publications/the-freeman/article.asp?aid=585),

The phrase “national service” is misleading because it implies that people pursuing their own careers, independent of governmental direction, are not providing a national service. The truth is that every private- sector business provides a service to consumers; otherwise it wouldn’t survive, at least not without government subsidies.

Young people who are working in pizza joints, bakeries, etc. might not be serving their government, but are they not in a very real sense "serving their country"?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Restore The Articles!

An excellent post over at The Hall Of Fire (http://thehalloffire.uni.cc/) entitled, "What was so bad about the Articles?".


In school, they teach us that the United States couldn’t function under them because the central/federal government lacked the following power: the ability to tax. Without that ability, the federal government could not wage war on its own (states could, because individual states could tax within the state), could not force-feed students with propaganda through public education, conduct wars on drugs/terrorism/whatever, or legislate things like marriage! Horrors! I can’t imagine how utterly terrible that would be to live in a county like that!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Are Sanders and Jeffords Really Independents?

My home state of Vermont is represented in the House by Bernie Sanders and in the Senate by Jim Jeffords, both of whom style themselves as "independents". But are they really?

Here's what Lew Rockwell says about the two main parties

In American political culture, which is dominated by the competitive interest groups we call the two main political parties and their ideological compatriots, we are asked to choose between two false alternatives.

In the first, as that offered by the Left and the Democrats, we are asked to think of the state as an expansive Good Samaritan who clothes, feeds, and heals people at home and abroad. They completely fail to notice that this Samaritan ends up not helping people but enslaving its clients and leaving the rest of us like the robbery victim on the street.

In the second, as offered by the Right and the Republicans, we are asked to think of the state as an expansive Solomon with all power to right wrong and bring justice and faith to all peoples at home and abroad. They completely fail to notice that Solomon ends up behaving more like Caesar Augustus and his successors, sending all the world to be counted and taxed and then plotting to kill any competitive source of authority.

Are you independent minded? Reject these two false alternatives. Do you love freedom? Embrace peace. Do you love peace? Embrace private property. Do you love and defend civilization? Defend and protect it against all uses of Power, the evil against which we must proceed ever more boldly.

I think both Bernie and Jeffords fit snuggly into the first camp. If so, are they really independents?

Support Our Taxpayers?

In a previous post (http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/01/support-our-troops.html), I wrote,

Should we support our troops? Perhaps the correct answer is, "it all depends on what they are doing". Should we support our troops if they are waging a war of aggression? Doesn't the question answer itself?

A related question is, should we support our taxpayers, who support the troops financially--even when the troops are waging a war of aggression?

Here's a related excerpt from Lew Rockwell (http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/iraq-democraticempire.html):

In other words, it is a typical government program, costly and unworkable, like socialism, like the war on poverty, like the war on drugs, like every other attempt by the government to shape reality according to its own designs. You can see the results in the fatality figures. You and I paid for those flags on the caskets of the soldiers. We paid for the war that cost them their lives. We paid for the cheaper coffins of the far more numerous Iraqi dead. We didn't do it voluntarily. The state forced us to do so, just as it is forcing Iraq to endure a dreadful occupation.

What is in the past is gone, a cost that is sunk and never to be regained. But we can control the future. Now is the time to end this ghastly undertaking in Iraq.

I have written elsewhere (http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/02/path-to-peace.html) as follows:

If we truly are for peace and not for war, we will work to end the income tax, end the ability of government to borrow, and end the ability of government to print money.

War is expensive. Peace is cheap. The choice--war or peace--is ours.

Should we support our taxpayers? Perhaps the correct answer is, it all depends on what the government is doing with the taxes.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Live free or move--to Ron Paul's district in Texas!

Sure wish Ron Paul was my Representative!

Here's what Ron Paul thinks about Bush's $2.77 trillion budget (http://www.house.gov/paul/tst/tst2006/tst021306.htm).

The Bush administration released a proposed 2007 budget last week that increases federal spending to a staggering $2.77 trillion, a sum that is 4 times larger than the Reagan-era budgets of the early 1980s.
There has been a great deal of talk in Washington about scandals lately, but few seem to understand that enormous federal budgets provide the mother's milk for every backroom deal, questionable earmark, and sleazy lobbying trick. Like many of my Republican colleagues who curiously vote for enormous budget bills, I campaign on a simple promise that I will work to make government smaller. This means I cannot vote for any budget that increases spending over previous years. In fact, I would have a hard time voting for any budget that did not slash federal spending by at least 25%, especially when we consider that the federal budget in 1990 was far less than half what it is today. Did anyone really think the federal government was not big enough just 16 years ago?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Voting Is Not Freedom

A short article by one Glenn Woiceshyn over at capmag.com, entitled, "Democracy vs.The Essence of Liberty" (http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=4565), is worth a quick read.

Here's an excerpt:

Protecting individual rights is the essence of liberty. Leftists have downplayed individual rights, pushed "freedom to vote" as the essence of liberty, hoodwinking many into equating democracy with liberty.
The West's focus on pushing the "right to vote" instead of the protection of individual rights has led to the grotesque spectacle of enemies of liberty being voted into power.

Think Hitler.

But it's not just leftists who are responsible for conflating democracy and freedom. George W. Bush and the neocons are hell-bent on spreading democracy--not necessarily individual rights--hither and yon, especially throughout the Middle East.

Woiceshyn points out what should be old hat to us by now, but unfortunately is not: democracy is not freedom. In fact, democracy can be, and often is, the antithesis of freedom. Majority rule can, and often does, trample on the rights of individuals.

We should shun democracy once and for all. We should restore our Republic. We should restore our Constitution. And we should end the empire, close all of our overseas bases, and bring home ALL of the troops.

To Understand Is Not To Excuse

Don't get me wrong, I'm not excusing the people who responded to the cartoons with violence. The initiation of violence is always wrong. But, having said that (and having recognized the fact that, yes, the newpapers have the moral right to publish whatever they want to publish), it won't hurt us to try to understand why some people have responded to the cartoons with violence.

And it doesn't hurt us to try to understand why some people would fly airplanes into skyscrapers, even though we do not (and must not!) excuse those actions, either.

That's why I suggested, in my previous post ("Cartoons: The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back?"), that it might be worth our while to read Jacob Hornberger's article, "Why They Hate Us" (http://www.fff.org/comment/com0602d.asp).

Cartoons: The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back?

I have no idea if this is a valid interpretation of the magnitude of the Muslim reaction to the cartoons, but I do wonder if it's at least a factor. After all, Arab Muslims have many reasons to be angry, as detailed by Jacob Hornberger today in "Why They Hate Us" at http://www.fff.org/comment/com0602d.asp.

Of course, the cartoons were published by a Danish newspaper, not an American one; however, if some Americans can lump all Muslims together, why should we be surprised if some Muslims lump all westerners together?

Cartoons: Not The Path To Peace

Much has been written and said about the recent anti-Islam cartoons. To my mind, one of the more illuminating comments is by Eric Margolis, in an article entitled, " Right To Be Angry", at http://www.lewrockwell.com/margolis/margolis16.html.

Here's an excerpt:

This whole ugly business is really about anti-Islamism – the modern version of 1930's anti-Semitism.

Promoting hatred and scorn for Islam and Muslims has become the only socially and legally acceptable modern prejudice.

Question the Holocaust in Germany or Austria and you go to jail, as Pat Buchanan just wrote. Doing the same in Canada gets you jailed or expelled. But slandering Islam is okay.

The Danish paper that ran the racist cartoons "to defend free speech" refused in 2003 to run satirical cartoons of Christ, saying "it would provoke an outrage."
Italy's Oriana Fallaci churns out best sellers depicting Islam as a backwards creed of thugs.

In liberal Holland, it's cool to despise Muslims.

In America, historian Bernard Lewis pumps out screeds on the evils of Islam. Daniel Pipes rails against all things Islamic.

One Danish cartoon of Prophet Mohammed shows him with a long, hooked nose, thick lips, a sinister, malevolent glare on his ugly, Semitic face and a curved dagger in his hand.

Change the caption "Prophet Mohammed" to "Jew swine" and you have the double of Nazi anti-Semitic hate cartoons of the 1930s from the pages of Die Stürmer.

That's what this is all about. Modern anti-Semitism, reborn.

What many Europeans are saying through these cartoons is, "we hate Muslims. Make Europe Muslimfrei!" They want Muslims out, just as they did Jews in the 1930s.

Then, this:

But while Muslims have been egregiously and gravely offended, far too many have reacted hysterically by rioting and burning embassies. The Prophet Mohammed and Islam don't need rioters and arsonists to defend them.

In an act of utter childishness, Iran's largest newspaper vows to run cartoons ridiculing the Holocaust, proving there is no sickness as contagious as stupidity.

And, finally, this:

But rioting and burning are worthy only of drunken adolescents and simply reinforce racist claims by western anti-Islamic hate-mongers that Muslims are violent, irrational and backwards.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

David Friedman On Unschooling

Economist David Friedman blogs on unschooling at http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2006/02/

Here's an excerpt:

One of the assumptions built into the conventional version of K-12 schooling, private and public, is that there is some subset of human knowledge, large enough to occupy most of twelve years of school, that everyone needs to know. That assumption is false. There is a very short list of skills–reading, writing or typing, and simple arithmetic are the only ones that occur to me–that almost everyone will find worth learning. Beyond that, education involves learning things, but not any particular things. The standard curriculum is for the most part an arbitrary list of what happens to be in fashion–the subjects everyone is required to pretend to learn.

Consider, as examples, English composition, American history, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Each will prove very useful so some people, occasionally useful to more, and almost entirely useless to quite a lot. And, although practically every high school graduate is supposed to have learned each of those things, many, probably a majority, have not--as anyone who has taught college freshmen can testify.

Friedman's analysis strikes me as correct. Moreover, it seems to me that there is a danger in having everyone learn all the same things. If everyone spends a lot of time learning the same limited range of things, society (and each individual in society) will be the poorer for it because there will be whole ranges of things that no one knows. For instance, if everyone learns the same things, there would be no opportunity for me to learn something new from a discussion with you. Our intellectual lives would be poorer.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Path To Peace, Part IV

In my last post, " The Path To Peace, Part III" (http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/02/
), I concluded by saying,

. . . when government wages war on terrorists or foreign states, government also "wages war" on its own citizens by taxing, printing, borrowing, and conscripting.

But what can we say about government when it wages war on poverty? Drugs? Inadequate healthcare? Inadequate education? Inadequate retirement income?

When government wages war on poverty, drugs, etc., does it not also wage war on its own citizens by taxing, printing, and borrowing? What does this say about people who use the government's monopoly on the use of force to wage war on poverty or drugs or the scourge du jour? Are they truly people of peace? How can they be people of peace if they use government to initiate the use of force against others?

The ends do not justify the means. The elimination of poverty or drug abuse or the scourge du jour does not justify the initiation of force against others--either directly or through government.

If we truly are for peace--if we truly oppose the initiation of force in all cases--we will work to end the income tax, end the ability of government to borrow, and end the ability of government to print money.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Path To Peace, Part III

In my previous post, "The Path To Peace, Part II" (http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/02/
), I wrote,

In sum, government extracts the resources it needs to wage war in four ways: it taxes, it prints, it borrows, and it steals--it forces individuals to provide services under terms that the individuals in question do not agree to freely. If we truly are for peace and not for war, we will work to end the income tax, end the ability of government to print money, end the ability of government to borrow, and end the ability of government to force individuals into servitude of any kind.

What do these four ways--taxing, printing, borrowing, and conscripting--have in common? They all involve force or coercion. Taxing involves the coerced extraction of citizens' wealth or income. Printing money involves the forced debasement of the citizens' money. Borrowing involves forcing future generations to pay off someone else's debt. And conscripting involves forcing some citizens to provide services under terms that they do not agree to freely.

Thus, when government wages war on terrorists or foreign states, government also "wages war" on its own citizens by taxing, printing, borrowing, and conscripting.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Path To Peace, Part II

In a previous post, "The Path To Peace" (http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/02/path-to-peace.html), I pointed out that government extracts the money it needs to wage war in three ways: "It taxes, it borrows, and it prints." I also stated that, if we truly are for peace and not for war, we will work to end the income tax, end the ability of government to borrow, and end the ability of government to print money.

As I was proofing that post, it seemed to me that I was missing something, namely, a fourth way that government extracts resources for war. After I published that post, it came to me. The fourth way that government extracts the resources it needs to wage war is by forcing soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to accept below-market pay. Government does this in three ways. First, although the U. S. does not currently have a draft, the draft could be reinstated at any time. Under a draft, people are forced to serve. Since they are forced to serve, government can pay them a lot less than it would have to pay to entice them to enlist voluntarily. Second, government lies. Government entices people to enlist to "serve their country"--i.e., to defend their country, their family, and their community from foreign attackers. After they enlist, they learn the truth: instead of being asked by government to defend their country from foreign attackers, they are forced by government to fight wars of aggression. Third, government can and will require some to serve much longer than the length of time they thought they were signing up for.

In sum, government extracts the resources it needs to wage war in four ways: it taxes, it prints, it borrows, and it steals--it forces individuals to provide services under terms that the individuals in question do not agree to freely. If we truly are for peace and not for war, we will work to end the income tax, end the ability of government to print money, end the ability of government to borrow, and end the ability of government to force individuals into servitude of any kind.

Free Market Health Care

Our medical system's a mess.
Or so I'm told (I must confess).
But health comes not from a plan;
The market's the answer, man!
A market that's free more or less!

Cross-posted at http://blackmasque.blogspot.com/.

The Path To Peace

War is expensive. To wage war, government needs to extract huge sums of money from its citizens. Government does this in three ways. It taxes, it borrows, and it prints.

The primary tax used by government to pay for war is the income tax. If we truly are against war and for peace, we must oppose the income tax, the ability of the government to borrow, and the ability of the government to print money. We must work for the abolition of the 16th amendment. We must work to make it illegal for government to borrow. And we must work to abolish the Federal Reserve.

A good first step toward abolishing the 16th amendment is to abolish income tax withholding, which hides from taxpayers the true magnitude of the income tax they are paying.

It is true that government does some good with the money raised by the income tax. But the good paid for by the income tax is more than offset by the evil done. Society does not need the income tax to do good. All the good things that are now financed by the income tax can be financed privately. We don't need this Faustian bargain any more.

It is true that government is responsible for protecting us from attack by foreign countries. But the resources needed to do this are a tiny fraction of the resources now extracted from the citizens to pay for the Department of Defense. How many of the 702 overseas bases in 130 countries (http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0115-08.htm) are needed to protect the U. S. from attack? The answer: not too damned many! We don't need an income tax flooding the DoD with money to pay for the real defense needs of the U. S. The only military reason we need an income tax is if we want to maintain an empire and wage wars of aggression against countries that have not attacked us and have posed no threat of attacking us.

If we truly are for peace and not for war, we will work to end the income tax, end the ability of government to borrow, and end the ability of government to print money.

War is expensive. Peace is cheap. The choice--war or peace--is ours.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

All The News That's Fit To Print?

The United States is undergoing a coup against the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civil liberties, and democracy itself. The "liberal press" has been co-opted. As everyone must know by now, the New York Times has totally failed its First Amendment obligations, allowing Judith Miller to make war propaganda for the Bush administration, suppressing for an entire year the news that the Bush administration was illegally spying on American citizens, and denying coverage to Al Gore's speech that challenged the criminal deeds of the Bush administration.

--Paul Craig Roberts at http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts02062006.html.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Our Fearless Verfuhrer?

In a column on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Steve Argo writes,

It was only two days into Hitler's reign that Bonhoeffer delivered a radio address critical of the Nazi party. He warned Germans for buying into a dangerous cult that would lead to the eradication of their freedoms. He labeled the strutting, newly installed chancellor a Verfuhrer - "misleader"

Argo quotes Bonhoffer as follows:

(We) face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of our nation in order that civilization may survive, or willing the victory of our nation and thereby destroying civilization.

Read the entire column at http://www.madison.com/tct/opinion/column/index.php?ntid=

Foundation for Economic Education's
Summer Student Seminars

Serving Your Country vs.
Serving Your Country's Government

Don Boudreaux discusses the difference at cafehayek.typepad.com/hayek/2006/02/serving_your_co.
. Excerpt:

. . . because private-sector workers satisfy demands voluntarily expressed by others -- unlike government workers who are paid from funds forcibly extracted from others -- a powerful case can be made that private-sector workers truly serve their country far more surely than do government workers.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Oil Addiction?

In his SOTU speech on January 31, the POTUS claimed that we are addicted to foreign oil. Lew Rockwell has a very apt comment on this at http://blog.lewrockwell.com/lewrw/archives/009866.html:

So now The Leader tells us we are "addicted" to foreign oil, and must go, if not cold turkey, into an expensive, tax-funded recovery program that will further enrich the feds.

Why is foreign oil supposed to be a problem? We are also addicted to Chinese clothes, Japanese electronics, German cars, and a host of other imports. All non-coerced trade is beneficial to both parties, and in the case of international trade, also promotes peace among nations. This is consonant with the commercial society this was supposed to be, rather than a vicious empire.

Oil is no different from other goods. Leaving aside the Bush crazies, buying Arabian oil should make us less likely to want to bomb them. This process has been shortcircuited by more than sixty years of US killing and looting in the Middle East, however.

Pull the troops out, abolish the CIA, and trade, trade, trade. But that would mean we want peace and prosperity rather than dominion and blood. The Leader has other plans.

I am reminded of this quotation by the great Frederic Bastiat: “If goods can't cross borders armies will.”

If we stop buying oil from the oil rich-countries--even though it would be more expensive for us to replace the oil with home-"grown" energy--what message does that send to the citizens of the oil-rich countries? What else do these countries have to sell into the world market? How much poorer are these oil-rich countries likely to become once we stop buying oil from them? How many more terrorists will be created by this U. S. government-caused increase in poverty?

The bad economist sees only what immediately strikes the eye; the good economist also looks beyond. The bad economist sees only the direct consequences of a proposed course; the good economist looks also at the longer and indirect consequences.

-- Henry Hazlitt, "Economics in One Lesson" [1946]

Sounds to me that George Bush is one bad economist!

BTW, I'm a lot more concerned about our addiction to Columbian and Brazilian coffee than I am about our addition to Middle East oil!