What is a Libertarian?

This election cycle has presented the American people with the prospect of choosing between authoritarian A or authoritarian B.  It seems like most other election cycles to me, but for some reason people dislike these authoritarians more than in the past.  Because of the contempt for these candidates, many are looking for a third option, and are starting to ask “What is a libertarian?”.  This was a perfect moment for the Libertarian party to make their case to the voting public.  In response to this incredible opportunity, they nominated Gary Johnson, the libertarian equivalent of Jeb Bush.  I was really hoping we could get someone more articulate than Jeb Bush to present our message, but at least he’s not Trump or Clinton right?  Listening to Gary Johnson talk about liberty is like listening to someone butchering your favorite song.  You know that the song is really good but you just wish they would stop singing it.

I want to answer people’s question of what is a Libertarian, because I know neither Gary Johnson or Bill Weld will.  First off, we are not fiscally conservative and socially liberal.  Our philosophy is not made up of a little of the left and a little of the right.  Our beliefs come from a consistent principle: do not initiate physical force against a peaceful person.  Another way to put it that everyone can relate to, is simply, don’t hurt others and don’t take their stuff.  This is what we teach our children as soon as they can understand what we’re saying.  Everyone above the age of three understands this basic principle.  The difference between libertarians and the two major parties is that we consistently apply it.

As libertarians we believe the same moral principles apply to everyone.  If you personally have no moral right to do something, then neither does anyone else, even if they have the title of “government official”.  For example, if I can’t put you in a cage for consuming a substance I disapprove of, then some guy in a fancy blue suit can’t do it either.  If I can’t use violence to get you to contribute to a charity, even if it is for a worthy cause, then a whole group of people called “government” cannot either.

Both the left and the right think the government should be run according to their beliefs.  They use the government as the medium through which they force their beliefs upon everyone.  The problem is, when you allow or promote government to force your morals upon someone else, you will inevitably have someone else’s morals forced upon you.  When you believe this is the proper function of government, you allow whoever is in power to “grant liberty” where they see fit or to restrict whatever liberties they see as unfit.  This is how you get a government that decides who can use what bathroom, or who should bake what cakes, or who wins or loses in the free market.

It is time to ditch the left-right paradigm and stop trading off who gets to use government force for whatever they want.  It is time to stop believing in liberty only for what you think is acceptable.  The third option is no one restricting your free agency, just because they would have acted differently.  The third option is Liberty for all.

Lavoy Finicum, The FBI, and Why You’re Missing the Point

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Lavoy Finicum, The FBI, and Why You’re Missing the Point

Throughout the past month we have heard news here and there about the “standoff” in Burns, Oregon.  I’m not going to get into the specific reasons why the group was there, to sum it up, it was a protest against unconstitutional federal government power.  As part of their protest, the group occupied an empty federal building and aired their grievances.  This last week we all read and heard about the “shootout” between the FBI and a small group of the protestors.  There are a couple of things we need to clarify about this confrontation.  First off, it wasn’t a shootout.  In order to have a shootout, you must have two parties shooting at each other.  This wasn’t the case as the FBI gunned down a man in cold blooded murder.  Secondly, the accounts from the FBI and from witnesses with Lavoy have extreme differences.  For example, the FBI says they only fired three shots, but when Victoria Sharp an eighteen-year old girl who was a passenger in the vehicle heard that, she said, “Are you kidding?  They shot maybe 120 times.”

A video recently surfaced from the FBI that showed the encounter.  Caleb and I break down the video in the Podcast so I won’t include that in here.  I’ll just say one thing; the video quality is pitiful.  It was shot from an FBI drone in the sky, there is no audio, you can’t see any detail, and the video is inconclusive to say the least.  The FBI’s story is that Lavoy Finicum was reaching for a gun and that is why he was shot.  All we have heard in the main stream media and on social media is whether or not the shooting was justified because he was going for a gun.  We can argue that point all day, without getting anywhere because there is not “indisputable video evidence” for either side.  The fact is, it doesn’t matter!  While we bicker over whether or not the shooting was justified, we are all missing the bigger picture here.

Why was there a roadblock set up in the first place?  Why was there such a display of force for something that had been peaceful up to this point?  When we contrast this protest with the riots in Ferguson or Baltimore, why were they handled so differently?  The answer to all these questions are the same; the Federal Government was trying to send a message.  This protest wasn’t minorities against white cops and police brutality.  It was The People versus the Federal Government.  This group was traveling to speak to a crowd in another city to spread their message of, abuse of government power.  They were exercising their rights to free speech and to peaceably assemble.  Last time I checked, those rights are still guaranteed by the constitution.  Nonetheless, the FBI told them not to go, and when they decided to go anyway, there were roadblocks and armed federal agents to prevent them from getting there.

The Federal Government’s message was loud and clear: “we are not afraid to kill those who stand up against our usurpation’s of power.”  The FBI never intended for this to end peacefully or there wouldn’t have been a roadblock set up in the first place.  Is it any coincidence that the only evidence we have of what actually happened is low quality video from a drone that poses more questions than it answers?  Why is there not more media coverage on what happened?  Can you imagine if this was a young black man shot by the cops?  There would be riots in the streets, with 24/7 media coverage.  There is no coverage however, because it does not fit the narrative of whites vs blacks.  It doesn’t divide the people against each other.  Instead, this is a story that should unite the people together to question the unconstitutional actions of our government.

It is no accident that cops stood by and watched in Ferguson and Baltimore as rioters violently broke the law and destroyed property, but in this case they were quick to exercise extreme force and kill a man.  Victor Hugo, author of the famous Les Miserables, once said “there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come”.   The Federal Government’s purpose in killing Lavoy Finicum, wasn’t to kill a man but rather to kill the idea that he represented.  He was on his way to share that very idea with the group gathered in John Day, Oregon, and it is the idea I want to share with all of you.  The Federal Government has destroyed the constitution and chains with which it was once bound, and the time is coming for the people to step up as the jealous guardians of our God-given rights guaranteed by the constitution.  I firmly believe that the time is coming when this idea will come to fruition.  The government is afraid of such an idea, and they should be.  It is a powerful idea.  It is an idea that the Federal Government does not want the American people to believe in.  It is an idea worth killing over, and it is the idea we should all be talking about.

If you are still arguing over whether or not he was going for a gun and should have been shot, you are still not getting it.  Lavoy has been labeled a “traitor”, “terrorist” and “enemy of the state” because he stood up to the abuses of his government.  With that logic I suppose we could call every founding father who signed the Declaration of Independence a traitor and a terrorist, who pledged their “lives”, their “fortunes”, and their “sacred honor” to these words in that declaration.

“Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

The founders understood that the constitution was just a piece of paper.  It alone could not restrain the monster that is Federal Government.  It is the “right” and the “duty” of the people to protect their rights against government.  We are the only ones who can hold our government accountable. Samuel Adams once said,

“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.”

 It is time for us to stop arguing about whether or not Finicum was going for a gun.  That’s not the point.  The point is, we are tamely surrendering our liberties in modern day America.  Ignorance abounds, we are sinking under our own weight, and it is time for something to change.

References

Channel, T. A. (2016, January 29). Youtube. Retrieved from youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWXBITTC4fw

Jefferson, T. (1776). The Declaration of Independence.

 

Desiring Kings Over Liberty, The Struggle of a Free People

The growth and overreach of the executive branch is one of the most troubling trends in our nation, and in particular, within the last two presidencies. This is no surprise, the founders knew, and history has demonstrated that it is the nature of men to gravitate toward a central ruler. In the Old Testament we read of Samuel warning Israel against a King, and the subsequent loss of liberties, but they persisted and were finally granted a King. The French Revolution, which started out with such high hopes for liberty, equality, and fraternity eventually devolved into a dictatorship with Napoleon. Now in our nation, we are seeing history repeat itself as we slowly gravitate towards a stronger and stronger executive. The people are so desperate for “change”, they are willing to disregard all checks and balances for anyone who will promise to “make America great again”.

What happened to all the Americans that once stood for the constitution? Now it seems like the only time the people actually care about the constitution is when it’s not “their guy” in office. The Democrats cried and complained and shouted about George W. Bush as he abused his executive power. But they are suddenly pacified by the greatness of Barack Obama that they say nothing about his utter disregard for the constitution and the promises he made before he became president. Has anyone seen the anti-war Democrats since 2008? Yeah, me neither. In 2008, Barack Obama said “The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States.” Then he became President and forgot his speechwriter ever put that on the teleprompter for him. Now the tables have turned and republicans whine about the abuse of power by President Obama, while at the same time largely supporting Donald Trump who has promised even more unconstitutional actions. Get your act together America, you can’t have it both ways. As David Harsanyi wrote in his recent article “Admit it. You just want your own Dictator”: “A person empowered to make everything great also has the power to make everything horrible. If a president alone can transform America, then something has gone terribly wrong with the system.”

Congress has abdicated so many of its responsibilities to the executive, they are no longer an effective check on them. For example, we haven’t been in a declared war since WWII. Sure there have been “extended military engagements”: Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan, but certainly these can’t be construed as war. Extended military engagements? Only a politician could possibly say that these are “extended military engagements” and not war. It would be as ridiculous as saying, “even though we are 18 trillion dollars in debt, we need more government spending to get out of debt.” Oh wait… they say that too.

Congress abdicated its war powers multiple times: the Tonkin Gulf resolution allowed President Johnson to make war in Vietnam and the Joint Resolution allowed President Bush the war making powers to go into Iraq. By giving this power to the executive, the legislative branch broke constitutional law. The check on this unconstitutional delegation should be from the judiciary since they are clearly breaking the law. A group of soldiers, their parents, and members of Congress sued President Bush claiming that the power to go into Iraq was given to him unconstitutionally. Unfortunately the courts stood by, watched, and did nothing.

The fact that they did nothing is concerning but the logic behind their inaction is even more troubling. The courts said “if there is no clear conflict between congress and the executive, the court will simply stay out of the way.” Basically what they’re saying is, “as long as congress is incompetent enough to willingly give up its power, we will let them.” This is precisely the situation where the courts should step in. I would argue it would be even more important for the courts to step in if congress was willingly giving its power to the executive than if the executive were trying to forcibly take it. Let’s say your duty is to guard something extremely important from someone who wants to steal it. You have a partner that is supposed to help you guard this valuable thing. Your partner decides to willingly give this item to the thief. Do you step in and stop him or do you stand aside because there is no conflict between the thief and your partner? Not only do you step in, but you have to do more because your partner has abandoned their responsibility. It’s a simple concept to understand, apparently too simple for our judiciary.

If we are going to “keep” the republic as our founding fathers desired us to, there are a few things that we have to change. We have to understand what is in our constitution and why it is there. Do you think it is any coincidence that the power to make war was vested in hundreds of statesmen rather than one strong executive? We have to hold our leaders accountable when they disregard the constitution and the natural rights it was designed to protect. Last of all, we need to stop the partisan bickering. It does not matter what party did this or what party did that. At this point, we can safely assume that the majority of both parties do not have our best interest at heart. The constitution, the checks, balances, and separation of powers are important to stand behind regardless of whether or not it is “your guy” in office.

Works Cited

Anderson, Rocky. “The Rule of Law.” Minutes 13:40-14:05. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECPGenexyKM.

Bernstein, David. “Flashback: Barack Obama on the “biggest problems we’re facing right now”.” Washington Post 21 November 2014.

Harsanyi, David. “Admit it. You Just Want Your Own Dictator.” Reason (2015): 1.

 

To those that want to learn more about the dangers of executive growth there is a lot more detail in our podcast which can be found right here on our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheUnallowableOpinion/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

You can subscribe on I-tunes as well. The Unallowable Opinion Podcast.

Yes, Income and Wealth Inequality is a Problem. No, More Government is not the Solution.

I want to discuss the issue that Bernie Sanders says is “the great moral issue of our time, the great economic issue of our time, and the great political issue of our time.” It is the problem of wealth and income inequality. This topic has been an effective rallying cry for him throughout his presidential campaign, pointing out that, “There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent… or when 58 percent of all new income since the Wall Street crash has gone to the top one percent.”

I don’t often say this, but Bernie Sanders is absolutely right. This is an important issue morally, politically, and economically. This is a problem that needs solving and most candidates running for president have not told us the real causes or have offered a real solution. The Democrats place the blame on capitalism run wild or the greed of the capitalists, and when asked about the causes, The Republicans answer every income inequality question the same way they answer every climate change question, “it might be real, it might be a problem, but I’m probably not going to do a whole lot about it.” At least Bernie Sanders and the Democrats offer an explanation and a solution, they are wrong, but at least they are talking about it.

Bernie Sander’s solution to the problem is the same thing that caused the problem in the first place: big government with power to interfere in the free market. His solution, in short, is to pass a series of laws to magically legislate the poor out of poverty and to create equality. He will force corporations and wealthy people to stay in America regardless of how high their taxes are (I’m not sure how, but that’s what he promises). Last but not least, he will also give us tons of “free” stuff like healthcare and college. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, and this is no different.

Like I said above, the real cause of wealth and income inequality is big government with the power to interfere in the market. Big government and big corporations work together to suppress competition and to increase profits. The one is not the enemy of the other as is often portrayed by both parties, they are in fact friends. They are in cahoots together against the American people and most of our politicians are too afraid to change the status quo (probably because they’re part of it). Like P.J. O’Rourke says “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation the first thing to be bought and sold are legislators.”

Is it any wonder we see people from government agencies move to the private sector to cushy jobs at big corporations in the industry that they “regulated”? Is it because they rigged the system to benefit themselves and their friends, or is it just a coincidence? The fact is we would not have billions spent on lobbying if there were not billions more to be lobbied for. I cannot argue for more laws and more government because while pointing out the corruption of the big corporations, the so called “capitalists”, we also point out that that corruption is only possible because of the existing big government! If the government really wanted to help address wealth and income inequality, the best thing they could do, is to get completely out of the market.

In a real free market that allows free competition it is impossible to exploit your employees or consumers for long. You cannot pay your employees substantially less than what they produce, because someone else will pay them more. You cannot charge consumers substantially more than what it costs to produce, because someone else will charge less. It really is that simple.

For example, if I pay someone $7.25 an hour to produce something at which I sell for $15 an hour, I would invite thousands of people to come into my industry. I’m making almost an $8 an hour profit off of each worker I employ. Therefore you could come in and offer $8.50 to my workers and sell essentially the same product for $14 an hour. You would still be making a $5.50 an hour profit off each worker. Now in order to keep my workers I must pay them either the same (or more if I want to keep the best ones) and in order to keep my customers I must offer my product for the same or less than you. This cycle continues back and forth between producers until you have the highest wage possible for the workers and the lowest price for the consumers, while keeping the business profitable.

This is the only way you can create higher wages and a lower cost of living for the entire country. This is the only way you can slowly but surely raise the standard of living for everyone. You can’t pass laws and expect to raise people out of poverty. It would be like passing a law against gravity and expecting people to float off into the air. Of course, corporations wouldn’t want to sell their product for less or pay their employees more but they would be forced to! The “greed” of capitalists doesn’t need to be kept in check by untrustworthy government force, it is automatically kept in check by something we can always count on, other competing capitalists.

Bernie Sanders harps on this issue to sell more government as the solution. Don’t buy it. This is an important issue, not because it shows that capitalism has run wild like people wrongly suggest, but rather that we as a country have ran wild away from true capitalism. This issue does not show that capitalism is broken or that the free market doesn’t work, it shows that the Government has destroyed the free market by granting itself the power to choose the winners and losers in the economy. It does not show that we need to adopt more socialist government policy, instead it shows that we need to get rid of the socialist government policies that already exist. Our solution is not a bigger, more intrusive government, our solution is to restore freedom and the free market.

References
Sanders, Bernie. “Wealth and Income Inequality.” Https://berniesanders.com/issues/income-and-wealth-inequality/. Bernie Sanders, n.d. Web. <https%3A%2F%2Fberniesanders.com%2Fissues%2Fincome-and-wealth-inequality%2F>.

O’Rourke, P.J. “P. J. O’Rourke Quote.” BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2015. <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/pjorour101111.html&gt;.

Please America Have Faith in Freedom, Not Force

Today is an interesting time in the history of our country. We have drifted farther than ever from the principles on which our country was founded. A leading candidate for president, who is gaining more and more momentum in the polls, is an avowed socialist. Something Samuel Adams said was “impractical” and “in our government, unconstitutional.” But hey, let’s be honest, who cares about the constitution anymore? “We the people” clearly don’t. We’ve ignored nearly every check and balance built in to this magnificent, and I might add, inspired document. We’ve given up on principles like limited government, property rights, a free market economy… really we’ve given up on “We the People” and put more of our trust in “You the government”. We’ve given up on the principle of freedom, and I can’t say it’s really the government’s fault. It’s ours. Of course the government wants more power that is the nature of government (which is why we had a written constitution in the first place, but whatever). Our government derives its power from us, “We the People”. We gave it to them.

We don’t want to care for the elderly or save for our own retirement, please government take care of this responsibility for us! Thus, social security is created. There is no possible way we can educate our own children, help us! Thus, public education is created. Please government we can’t take care of our poor brothers and sisters or save money for future needs or unforeseen circumstances. Thus welfare, healthcare, and nearly every other government program was created. We can’t control ourselves, how will we avoid taking substances that could kill us, or choose what foods to eat and drink! Thus endless laws are created by, needless agencies to protect us from…us? Okay, so “We the People” can’t be trusted with these responsibilities, but the government can…… Really? Wake up America, please, before you give away all of my freedoms. When did it become okay to delegate every important responsibility to the most inefficient and corrupt organization in the country? Not only has the government not solved any of these problems, but it has actually exacerbated them. I’m reminded of something former President of the LDS Church Spencer W. Kimball said, warning of government taking our responsibilities.

“The government seems too anxious to give, give, give to the poor, to the aged, to the schools, to everyone, and blinded people feel they are getting something, whereas they pay it to the government so that the government can, after great overhead expense return a part of it to the people. And every time a gift returns to the people—a so-called gift—it comes with fetters binding and tying and enslaving. For every block of funds given to the people, they lose a bigger block of liberty.”

This is socialism at work here in America folks, and yet Bernie Sanders gains popularity in the polls and especially among young people. I don’t get it. I can understand people being fooled by Obama saying he wasn’t a socialist, or by George Bush saying he was a conservative that loved the constitution. They were at least lying. But the thing about Bernie Sanders is, he isn’t trying to fool anyone. He’s a socialist, he knows he’s a socialist, and everyone else knows he’s a socialist. For that, I applaud him, at least he is true to his beliefs, which is more than I can say for most candidates running, on either side. He’s actually sincerely wrong, which is why he scares me more than even the most corrupt candidate running. *Cough* Hilary Clinton *Cough*. Like C.S. Lewis said:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Either way it doesn’t matter. We can elect a socialist on the left who will spend us into oblivion with endless “free” stuff and a regulated economy. Or we can elect a fake conservative on the right that will build up endless military and give government handouts to his buddies in the private sector while touting the wonderful “free” market. I can’t decide whether to laugh or to cry. You have those on the left who will argue vehemently for freedom to choose when it comes to social issues like gay marriage or murdering unborn children, but cringe at the thought of a free market and choosing to use your property how you would like to. Then you have those on the right who argue for liberty when it comes to property rights or religious freedoms, but reject that liberty to those who choose to marry a gay person or those who use illegal drugs.

In the end the principle is the same whether you’re on the right or the left. Should we be left free to choose or should we endow the government with the power to choose for us? We as a people will have to choose what we value more; freedom or force. We can believe in an actual free market and trust that mankind still has enough humanity left in him to freely choose the right, or we can choose an authoritarian government to regulate the economy and to make the “right” choices for us. Milton Friedman once said and I would add a couple things.

“A major source objection to a free economy (and I would add a free people) is precisely that it gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market (and a free people) is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

As for me, I believe in freedom. I believe in a free market economy that can create widespread abundance for all because of its willing and industrious production. I believe in a free people who enjoy the liberty to do anything that does not harm their neighbor. I believe in the inspired Constitution that limits government to only protect life, liberty, and property. I pray that in the end, “We the People”, will have more faith in freedom and in each other, than we do in force and in the government.

References

Friedman, M. (2002). Capitalism and Freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Jr, E. L. (1979). Spencer W. Kimball. Salt Lake City : BookCraft.

Lewis, C. (1971). God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology).