Recent comments

  • rita's picture
    rita 3 years 1 week ago Web link Michael Dunn
    According to this article, "individual responsibility and personal freedom are becoming a thing of the past" in public schools. Gee, I wonder what rock these people just crawled out from under? Personal freedom has never, as far back as I remember, existed within the confines of public schools, and with the coming of the random drug test, whatever freedom kids had out of school disappeared as well. As for "individual responsibility," you have only to scroll down their website to "Big pharm freebies turning medical students into drug pushers" to understand that these people's definition is very narrow indeed. The saying "freedom isn't free" is usually understood to refer to the sacrifices of those who fight. But there's another cost of freedom, one that everyone who would be free must pay -- you have to allow others to be free, too. Unfortunately, the food freedom lobby seem unable to see, or unwilling to admit, the connection between their freedom and mine.
  • DB's picture
    DB 3 years 1 week ago Page Glen Allport
    On the Nuclear energy argument, chances are we would be using Liquid Thorium reactors which are much safer [the plants will not melt down] and the spent fuel is safe after only 500 years, they are also extremely efficient. The only reason the government only allows the Uranium reactors we have presently is because the waist can be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. All-in-all excellent, clear, well organized article, thank you for writing it.
  • B.R. Merrick's picture
    B.R. Merrick 3 years 1 week ago Page Glen Allport
    An article full of so many enticing links! And I love how you incorporated the 9/11 "sins of omission." One minor thing, though: "...and efficient national defense that won't let a bunch of hijacked airliners roam the country for nearly an hour..." Of course, "nearly" can be rounded down, but it's actually OVER an hour AND A HALF from the loss of communication from the first "hijacked" flight (8:20) to the last flight "crashing" (10:06). The passenger jets averaged about 500 MPH, but according to www.911timeline.net: "An F-15 has a top speed of 1875+ MPH. According to NORAD, Otis [where the F-15s graze] is 153 miles eastnortheast of the WTC." I loved the story of the boy and the teacher throwing mud! Keep throwing truthful, glorious mud at these coercive lies, Glen!
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 3 years 1 week ago
    The Camel's Nose
    Page Paul Hein
    G'day Paul Hein, That was a fun article. Thanks. Regarding your last statement, "It would be a good idea to clarify just who is the servant, and who the master!" Wouldn't you agree that in any master-servant relationship the one who is required to petition[1] for permission to do or have something is the servant, and the one who grants permission is the master? https://duckduckgo.com/?q=missouri+licensing "A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years." ~ Lysander Spooner ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ [1] Meaning "formal written request to a superior (earthly)" is attested from early 15c ~ Online Etymology Dictionary
  • pcar's picture
    pcar 3 years 1 week ago
    The Camel's Nose
    Page Paul Hein
    One of the ways the political elite "encourages" us to pay car registration fees is to license (and restrict the supply of) taxis. This drives up the cost and availability of taxis to the point where they're not really practical. Another tactic is to license so-called "public" transit rather than letting the free market determine how shared transportation systems are organized. The best peaceful solution towards tax minimization is to stop driving (and working for money) as soon as we can. Frugal living will generally minimize the state's tax take.
  • Michael Kleen's picture
    Michael Kleen 3 years 1 week ago Page Michael Kleen
    Interesting point, I guess I (and Rothbard) should have picked a better example.
  • B.R. Merrick's picture
    B.R. Merrick 3 years 1 week ago Page Michael Kleen
    Well, that certainly makes me feel better. :)
  • B.R. Merrick's picture
    B.R. Merrick 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    "You're using the words 'coercive' and 'lie' far too loosely." Perhaps, but at the heart of the religious teachings you outline are falsehoods. I believe that truth is required for volition to come to fruition. It is not truthful, factual, or helpful to tell people they MUSN'T use birth control, power tools, or eat pork. Furthermore, depending on the religious community, what each community encourages, and how one "volitionally" shapes one's life around it, I can assure you that absent a gun, changing one's beliefs and practices in contradiction to that religious community can result in being "coerced" out of one's job or home, via shaming, shunning, etc. Believing some of the nonsense that my former religion teaches can result in young people committing suicide because of the falsehoods that are believed. And I can assure you that at the heart of the falsehoods that are honestly believed in my former religion is a coercive lie (deliberately and willfully made up by one man), not simply a falsehood. Not only that, but I know for certain that current leaders of that same religion are actively trying to cover up that history, so that individuals like me will continue to believe something that has no basis in fact. That is also a lie. I believe it is possible to "coerce the truth" by willfully lying, which leads directly to the death of the volition of he who believes it. Many of the people you mention in your reply aren't willfully trying to lie, but for at least some of those religions, at the heart of those honestly-believed falsehoods is someone making it up as he goes along. At least one of them, anyway.
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 3 years 1 week ago Page Michael Kleen
    G'day B.R. Merrick, As I understand it, they are NOT "government roads". They are, legally, (and lawfully), speaking, "free and public roadway[s], or street[s]; one[s] which every person [sic] has the right to use.[1]" The gasoline tax helps pay for their upkeep, and what one abuses[2], one should voluntarily pay for. Because of my free man status, I once had a very interesting discussion with some agents of a place called Sweetwater on this jurisdictional issue. "In the United States, the fuel tax receipts are often dedicated or hypothecated to transportation projects, so that the fuel tax is considered by many a user fee." ~ "Wikipedia" _________________________________________________________________________________________ [1] Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c.1991), page 728 [2] Vehicles, according to weight, cause damage to the highways (roadways and streets). There is no charge, even on toll roads, for foot traffic, because it causes no extraordinary wear and tear.
  • Darkcrusade's picture
    Darkcrusade 3 years 1 week ago
    Border War
    Web link Jad Davis
    Like they do not know what they are doing.We learned prohibition does not work almost a hundred years ago.Prohibition gave you the Al Capones and the rich 'american gangsters, opposed by the untouchables. Prohibit a substance and it puts money and a criminal element into the equation.(that gummint just has to respond to.) Will Grigg kick it out of the park again.> It's shamefully narrow-minded of Washington to confer the blessings of humanitarian mass murder on distant Bedouins while ignoring our Mestizo neighbors to the South. McCaul, a former federal prosecutor who now chairs the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, is eager to help rectify that inequity by designating six Mexican drug syndicates -- including Los Zetas, which is led by U.S.-trained military personnel -- as "foreign terrorist organizations." http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00%3A...
  • Tony Pivetta's picture
    Tony Pivetta 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    You're using the words "coercive" and "lie" far too loosely. The ban on birth control is neither coercive nor a lie. It's not a lie, because there is no intention to deceive. In fact, until the Lambeth Conference of 1930, Christian denominations across the board condemned contraception. This is not a precept conjured out of thin air by Paul VI. But I'm not interested in defending the moral theology underlying the ban on contraception. For the sake of argument, let's stipulate we can read the Pope's mind and that he is in fact lying about birth control. What other religious beliefs constitute lies? How about the Amish ban on automobiles and power tools? Surely it makes the faithful's lives more difficult forgoing modern conveniences, doesn't it? How about the Orthodox Jewish ban on eating pork? You mean to tell me the Jews wouldn't enjoy sinking their teeth into a slab of babyback ribs? How about the Jehovah's Witnesses ban on blood transfusions? Talk about a dangerous decree! This one has life-and-death consequences! I happen to believe these are all bad beliefs. But for the sake of argument, let's stipulate the Amish, Orthodox Jewish and JW religious authorities intend to deceive--just like the Pope. It's all lies. The fact remains none of the liars resort to coercion for enforcement. The Pope won't sic his Switzers on you for practicing contraception. Neither will the Amish, Orthodox Jews or JWs sic their armed agents on you for violating their precepts against power tools, pork or blood transfusion. They don't even have armed agents! You can say they exploit a fear of the hereafter. But they certainly have that right, don't they? As long as you have a right not to listen? There's an imam down the road in Dearborn, Michigan, who claims Christians practice polytheism. He says Christians put their souls in peril by accepting the divinity of Christ. After all, there is only one God and His Name is Allah. It's no skin off my nose if that's what he believes. It's no skin off my nose if he's lying about it. Just spare me Sharia and dhimmitude. Again, libertarians have to be very careful using terms like coercion. Only the State and armed criminals (but I repeat myself) practice coercion. The Catholics, Amish, Orthodox Jews and Jehovah's Witnesses don't practice coercion--at least not in the contexts outlined above.
  • B.R. Merrick's picture
    B.R. Merrick 3 years 1 week ago Page Michael Kleen
    You pointed out something that is continuously on my mind. The state has made it impossible for us not to "use" it. People may think of us as being "hypocritical" for driving on the government's roads and paying the government's taxes on gasoline, but in order to be "unhypocritical," one would have to give up driving, and even as you pointed out, walking on sidewalks. I find the best way to be free is to avoid the initiation of coercion wherever possible, and to accept that freedom is a process, one that will inadvertently and unavoidably involve some aspect of the state until everyone else on this land mass wakes up. One of the best things we can do is remind everyone willing to listen that every good or service currently provided exclusively by the government would exist, and probably in a better way, without the state's interference. Then, set example by finding your own unique, individual way to walk away from systems of coercion.
  • B.R. Merrick's picture
    B.R. Merrick 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    Thank you for your thoughts. However, I should clarify something: I am not comfortable with "atheist" or "agnostic." I have questions that are unanswered, and experiences that helped spawn those very questions. I'll leave it at that. Furthermore, I consider myself a Post-Christian instead of an ex-Christian, because I believe there is a fount of wonderful information having to do with individuality that can be gleaned from an unbiased look at the Four Gospels. This is why I continue to freely quote Jesus when I no longer believe in His divinity. (I also, as I just evidenced, continue to capitalize "His" when referring to Jesus out of respect for the traditions from whence I sprang.) My criticisms about religion have to do with the coercive lie that birth control must not be used. This is regulation of human sexuality outside the self, based on meaningless reference to obscure scripture. It creates enormous problems and solves nothing. Coercion is death. I would agree, however, that short-term solutions to personal problems can be found in organized (and unorganized) religion. From a logical or factual standpoint, though, I cannot defend the idea of superiority vs. inferiority any longer. Religions, like government, can be systems of coercion when they fail to search for and tell the truth. I've seen enough of that to last me a lifetime. (Well, half a lifetime, anyway.)
  • GregL's picture
    GregL 3 years 1 week ago
    Border War
    Web link Jad Davis
    Different people will react to these photos differently. Most STR readers will see it as illustrating how wasteful and harmful the whole war on drugs is and that it needs to be ended. Govt apologists will see these photos as evidence that drugs are big business and that they they need to take the drug war to the next level. But whatever your reaction, these are powerful photos that depict how big the war on drugs has gotten.
  • ReverendDraco's picture
    ReverendDraco 3 years 1 week ago Page Scott Lazarowitz
    In reading those responses by superior officers, “You’re the problem,” “It must have been your fault,” “You must have provoked them,” I am hearing the same old crap that women used to be (still are?) told when they got raped. . . It's the same old "blame the victim" mentality writ large. And my friends wonder why I'm so opposed to their kids joining the military. . .
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 3 years 1 week ago Web link Westernerd
    G'day Sam, Frank Chodorov's article begins with this: "The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines taxation as "that part of the revenues of a state which is obtained by the compulsory dues and charges upon its subjects." That is about as concise and accurate as a definition can be; it leaves no room for argument as to what taxation is." First, we all should know that that quote is in reference to "income taxation" only. Second, we see that this taxation is "dues and charges upon its subjects". The third thing we should know is that "its subjects" are, according to Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c.1991), page 244, "members of a political community who, in their associated capacity, have...submitted themselves to the dominion of a government for the promotion of their general welfare and the protection of their individual as well as collective rights". Fourth, we know that, according to one of the republic's most well-know "founding fathers", that: "Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights . . . and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him . . . and the idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right." ~ Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Francis Gilmer (c.1816) Knowing all this, I am truly surprised that more freedom loving individuals don't withdraw from membership in any "political community", which does not "declare and enforce only our natural rights...and...take none of them from us", and, "who, in their associated capacity, have...submitted themselves to the dominion of [the] government". In fact, it would seem that, more often than not, the exact opposite occurs; it seems that any mention of individual secession, which is defined as, "the act of withdrawing from membership in a group", and which has been called The Last, Best Bulwark of Our Liberties, is systematically, and almost universally, ignored.
  • A Liberal in Lakeview's picture
    A Liberal in La... 3 years 1 week ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    "These kinds of studies can help scientists figure out how the brain dictates moral behavior." Wow. Prejudging the matter before the facts are in. Nice science. Or is the problem just an idiotic journalist, Laura Sanders, who slants her reporting to suit her own philosphical predilections or those of an editor or publisher? Also, I have a few questions. Who are the test subjects? Are they a representative cross section of the populace? And what about prevailing cultural factors of the times? What exactly does the number "96 percent" tell us? My suspicion is that it doesn't tell us very much about human nature per se but rather about a culture that is not necessarily dominant and, of course, about the character flaws of particular test subjects. And as for the test subjects, we're all familiar with the practice of experimenters using younglings, esp. those aged 18-30, whose participation is solicited through ads placed in the free, edgy newspaper that caters to the young, poor, and dumb. For example, in Chicago there is the Chicago Reader.
  • A Liberal in Lakeview's picture
    A Liberal in La... 3 years 1 week ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    Oh, no...it's not a catastrophe looming. It's a premeditated opportunity to set up single-payer coverage! "Let's take a look at the numbers. The average cost of a family health plan is around $14,000 per employee, much of it paid by employers. Under the new law, an employer who fails to offer government-mandated health insurance will face a $2,000 per employee fine. . . . Under Obamacare, small businesses owners are given every possible incentive to stop offering health insurance, and in this economy, it's hard to see why they wouldn't." So, what comes next? Businesspeople all across the land will start dropping coverage. Then the businesspeople will be villified for their alleged greed. Politicians will be pilloried for their supposed lack of foresight. "Throw the bums out!", the rabble will scream. "Fix health care!" A crop of socialists will be elected and enter Congress. Then presto, change-o. We get socialized medicine, just like the bleeding hearts and many docs, too, wanted. Of course, the docs will still have their lucrative medical cartel, and they'll still be playing the victim of government meddling in medicine. Owners of drug companies will still enjoy their lucrative patents and have a fat stream of revenue guaranteed by the government. Legions of chardonnay socialists in the big cities will still have their cushy desk jobs figuring out how to keep the racket working to their own advantage. Funny how some things stay the same the more that they change.
  • Glen Allport's picture
    Glen Allport 3 years 1 week ago Page Scott Lazarowitz
    Spot on, and all the more frightening for that. Who is terrorizing American citizens? America's government, that's who. Thanks for a well-written column detailing that fact; it's already a link in my own next column.
  • Mitrik_Spanner's picture
    Mitrik_Spanner 3 years 1 week ago Web link Westernerd
    Right On Sam!
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 3 years 1 week ago Web link Westernerd
    "Reason" is part of the mob. "We" don't have a spending problem. "THEY" have a spending problem. I discovered many years ago: if I'm gonna be free I'd better start acting free (thanks, Mark Davis): http://www.strike-the-root.com/52/davis_m/davis1.html "We" ain't "Them" and "They" ain't "Us". Their hallowed day coming up, which has become rather of a national and very political holiday, is not "our Tax Day", it's "their tax day". We who've declared sovereignty from Leviathan know that we are robbed every day. http://www.ozarkia.net/bill/anarchism/library/TaxationisRobbery.html More than those filers -- statists all -- who search and oooh and aaah over "exemptions" and "tax credits" and "refunds". They are the ones who pay "their" taxes. We simply get robbed (to the extent that we haven't developed skills to side-step and take precautions against The Man). How 'bout some o that stimuli! Bring it on! Sam
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 3 years 1 week ago Page Bob Wallace
    Comments like "grow up" do not help make your case. Bob does have a point, and one doesn't have to be a relativist to see it. To kill people, you first dehumanize them, and call them evil. There is entirely too much of that going on these days. The question is not whether there is evil in the world (there is), but correctly deciding who is evil, and what you are going to do about it. Mostly, you should do nothing because it's a self-correcting problem. Only when someone evil actually attacks you, is it sensible to defend yourself, or remove yourself from the attack.
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 3 years 1 week ago
    Natural Law
    Web link Don Stacy
    Natural law, natural rights, natural liberty, et cetera, are only relevant[1] to free men and women, that is to say men and women who have not voluntarily "subjected themselves to the dominion of a [man-made] government", or those who have withdrawn from membership in all man-made "political" groups. Perhaps this explains why there has been only one solitary vote of ten for Lysander Spooner's treatise entitled, NATURAL LAW; OR THE SCIENCE OF JUSTICE: A TREATISE ON NATURAL LAW, NATURAL JUSTICE, NATURAL RIGHTS, NATURAL LIBERTY, AND NATURAL SOCIETY; SHOWING THAT ALL LEGISLATION WHATSOEVER IS AN ABSURDITY, A USURPATION, AND A CRIME; and why there has been only two commentors, on this, the most important topics for free men and women, e.g. natural law, natural justice, natural rights, natural liberty and natural society, in over a year. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ [1] relevant adjective▸directly connected with and important to what is being discussed or considered ~ Macmillan Dictionary
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 3 years 1 week ago
    Natural Law
    Web link Don Stacy
    "There is only one fundamental right [just claim] (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man's right [just claim] to his own life." ~ Ayn Rand
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 3 years 1 week ago
    Rights Are Santa Claus
    Page Dabooda
    G'day Hogeye Bill, right n. ...2. That to which one has a just claim... ~ Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright 1916-1960, page730 Probably the main contributing factor to the lack of understanding of "rights" is the fact that there are a number of different kinds of "rights". Although you and I may not necessarily agree with Noah's [Webster] particular enumeration under the heading, "RIGHT, n. ...10. Just claim ...Rights are natural, civil, political, religious, personal, and public," they nonetheless make the point. A Dictionary of Law, (Black's first edition c. 1891), page 1045, classed them as "natural, civil and political". I am reminded of the story of the blind men and the elephant . The problem you point out with "general moral rights" occurs because there are, in fact, no such thing as "general moral rights". Morality is a slippery slope to traverse, which is exemplified by definition number 4 below. mo·ral·ity (mō ral′i tē, mô-, mə-) noun 1. moral quality or character; rightness or wrongness, as of an action 2. the character of being in accord with the principles or standards of right conduct; right conduct; sometimes, specif., virtue in sexual conduct 3. principles of right and wrong in conduct; ethics 4. a particular system of such principles Natural rights, on the other hand, "are rights which are not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of a particular society or polity".
  • mkghandi's picture
    mkghandi 3 years 1 week ago
    Metamouse
    Page tzo
    Stanley's dilemma is a product of a plutocratic totalitarian government. Stanley only consumes, he produces nothing but mouse turds. Real life plutocratic totalitarian governments deal with people who produce the wealth that the governments take away from them. We humans however are more likely to test our conditioning and transcend it. Well, maybe some of us are. But the rest will follow. That's why we have a police state--to keep up the conditioning, and to not allow anyone to break it. MKG
  • Tony Pivetta's picture
    Tony Pivetta 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    Thanks for the kind words, Glen. Libertarians have to be careful to use words like coercion very narrowly. In an anarchist, state-of-nature society, commercial and religious relationships would be entirely voluntarily--unless the corporate executives and priests in that society were to compel us, at the points of their guns, to work for them, purchase their products and abide by their religious decrees. But in that anarchist, state-of-nature society, we would be just as free to take up arms and defend ourselves from them. The statists believe chaos would quickly run rampant in such a society. But we anarchists believe liberty is the mother of order, not its daughter. An armed society is a polite society. The state, with its territorial monopoly on violence, is actually the mother of chaos *and* tyranny--to say nothing of all the impoliteness it spawns. (Have you visited the DMV lately?) Centralized violence does not a civilized order make. Statists want *to force us to be free*. The contradiction doesn't trouble them in the least: they sincerely believe only state power can protect the people from greedy corporations' shoddy and dangerous products, their slave wages and unfair employment practices. Likewise, atheist statists will claim their infringements on religious liberty actually serve to *enhance* religious liberty, else the churches brainwash everybody into palsied submission to their Medieval dogmas and conservative morality tunnels. But this kind of thinking gets us nowhere. The religionists can just as easily seize political power, turn around and apply it against the atheists. How else are they to protect the atheists from the aggressive inculcations of a godless zeitgeist? If you're interested, I explore the relationship between faith and state in a 2006 column published on another website. Just Google "Pivetta + B-losses" and it'll come right up.
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    G'day B.R. Merrick, "Laws of nature are distinct from religious and civil law, and should not be confused with the concept of natural law. Nor should 'physical law' be confused with 'law of physics' - the term 'physical law' usually covers laws in other sciences (e.g. biology) as well." ~ Wikipedia [Emphasis added] Read the highlighted material out of context, "Laws of nature...should not be confused with the concept of natural law". With all due respect, in your last reply I still sense a lack of understanding. Either of those, "natural lawS" or "natural law", is fine, as long as we don't confuse the reader by talking about physical law, as you did with "Mt. St. Helens", and the "laws of economics" [in your reply to me], and the natural law of man, which, simply put is, "a rule of conduct arising out of the natural relations of human beings, as though they were the same thing. Where the confusion arises, I think, is because all three of these things are subcategories of the "lawS of nature". Take a look at definitions number 3 and number 6 HERE. Notice here, that Noah Webster, in his effort to keep these separate refers to the "law of nature", when defining the natural law of man, but refers to the "lawS of nature", when referencing the "physical laws". Here is what you wrote in your article. First you wrote: "It’s natural law, and natural law doesn’t care whether you’re rich or poor..." This is correct, the natural law of man doesn't respect (recognize) the status of men. But, then you turn around and evidently contradict that by saying: "This is why the natural law, end result of any and every regulation mows over poor people first..." Taken out of context, strictly for clarity, that says, "...the natural law...mows over poor people first..." If the natural law of man doesn't recognize "whether you're rich or poor", how can it possibly "mow over poor people first"? The "physical laws", on the other hand, as in your example of Mt. St. Helens, can certainly "mow over" individuals; but does it selectively "mow over poor people first". Only if the poor people are first in its path of destruction. If you don't obey the "laws of economics", your accumulated wealth, or ability to accumulate wealth, can certainly get "mowed over". And, the "laws of economics" may even effect "poor people" more drastically than rich ones, but only because they live so close to the edge, economically. Although it was reportedly the "rich people" who jumped out of windows in the stock market crash of October 29, 1929, not the "poor people". But the "law of nature", i.e. natural law of man, technically, doesn't "mow over" anyone, and most certainly not the "poor people first". I think that Noah Webster gave a good feel for what the natural law of man is, with this: Law of nature, is a rule of conduct arising out of the natural relations of human beings...Thus it is a law of nature, that one man should not injure another, and murder and fraud would be crimes, independent of any prohibition from a supreme power." We can see from that, that if the natural law of man did "mow over" anyone, (which it doesn't), it would be those who initiate force to injure another, murder, commit fraud, etc. who would be "mowed over".
  • Hogeye Bill's picture
    Hogeye Bill 3 years 1 week ago
    Rights Are Santa Claus
    Page Dabooda
    This is a case where a precise definition clears almost everything up. right (general moral right) - a moral claim to freedom of action Once you know the definition, things fall into place. Obviously rights do not automatically protect anyone. They are only a claim. Obviously what one deems rights depends on one's morality. But is the concept useful? I say yes, because it gives a common starting point - a common premise - for liberty. Theists can base rights on supernatural critters; atheists can base it on the observed nature of humans or an implicit contract upon interacting with society. Egoists can base it on egoism; altruists can base it on serving mankind. From various diverse bases, people can agree on certain moral claims to freedom of action. IOW the concept of rights allows us to ignore the various underlying justifications and still agree on a starting place. There are certain claims common to all these various philosophies. For a more detailed discussion of this topic, see the chapter of my e-book "Against Authority" entitled "Listen Egoist!" at http://www.ozarkia.net/bill/anarchism/library/aa/p027.html
  • Glen Allport's picture
    Glen Allport 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    Nice commentary on religion. As an athiest myself, I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the religious in my younger years -- too many mean-spirited, racist Christians in the areas where I grew up, for one thing -- but I long ago noticed that there are healthy and unhealthy folk in every religion, culture, nation, race, and so on. And those years of being dragged to church and Sunday school left me with an appreciation for those few of Jesus' teachings in particular that are strongly pro-compassion, pro-freedom, pro-real-world. In addition to a couple of STR columns on the topic, http://www.paradise-paradigm.net/columns/three_teachings.html discusses three teachings in particular by Jesus, using four brief quotes from Jesus (see notes at bottom of that column before responding about whether Jesus actually lived, or whether we can really know what he might or might not have said, etc). Love and freedom are wherever you find them. Encouraging those who believe in religion to focus on the positive material in their religion (and there is always positive material) is probably more useful than trying to convince believers that they should believe something else entirely -- besides, it matters not a whit to me if someone believes in the supernatural. It shouldn't matter to anyone else either, I think -- and I'm well aware of the arguments contrary to that, but don't find them persuasive.
  • A Liberal in Lakeview's picture
    A Liberal in La... 3 years 1 week ago Page Bob Wallace
    "And it’s because they believe in Good and Evil..." Methinks that you confuse necessary conditions with necessary and sufficient conditions. To get to the conclusion that you prefer, at least one more ingredient is needed. Why not try utilitarianism, for instance? In other words, look for evidence that they are utilitarians, then factor that into your argument. Now, if we ought to abandon the concepts good and evil, if we ought not to see life as a morality play, then why suppose that the lives of humans are tragicomedy? Instead, those lives would be just comedy. Speaking of tragicomedy, here's a little of my own for ya: "A Democrat and a Republican go to a bar and stay there for hours. They leave. A libertarian pays their tab." Not tragic or funny enough for you? Well, then how about some foodie humor? "A moral nihilist is strapped drown on a heavy wooden table by a moral relativist. The moral nihilist's muscles are tickled with a knife, and its joints, tapped with a hammer and an ice pick. After a period of time, the moral nihilist cries out in protest. The moral relativist replies to the nihilist, 'Complain all you like, but bear in mind that I, too, have my preferences.' Then the relativist reaches into a cupboard for his blowtorch, which he had purchased with the intent to make crème brûlée. The moral nihilist, whose eyes are widening, cries out, 'you're a foodie!'. 'Not today,' replies the relativist. 'I'm just hungry.' " . . . Life is not a goat-song, Bob Wallace. Morality play, yes, but not a goat-song, not even a funny one. Now, why don't you grow up for the very first time in your life? Go on, now, Bob. Give it a go. In the meantime, while you are pretending not to be a child, while you are kicking and screaming in protest, the morality play goes on. Its rules are very simple. Not to do any evil, to cultivate the good, and to purify the mind. These are the rules of the morality play.
  • D. Saul Weiner's picture
    D. Saul Weiner 3 years 1 week ago Page Bob Wallace
    This is exactly right. The "Baptists" take pride in their promotion of coercion since they see it as a way of punishing sinners, which is, after all, God's work (figuratively speaking, since the same phenomenon would apply to secular interventionists too). Thus it should also not surprise us that our "justice" system is heavily skewed toward punishment, not making victims whole.
  • rita's picture
    rita 3 years 1 week ago Web link Michael Kleen
    Let's not forget that George W. Bush and his "dovish" successor, George W. Obama, have killed more Americans than the al-Queda ever dreamed of.
  • Michael Kleen's picture
    Michael Kleen 3 years 1 week ago Page Bob Wallace
    From a Nietzschean perspective, the concept of "evil" is part of the herd morality, which of course is why the the modern state was established in the first place - the protect the herd from "evil." So in that instance I think you're spot on.
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 3 years 1 week ago Page Bob Wallace
    G'day Bob Wallace, The state hasn't defined drugs as "evil", those men who make its private laws have defined drugs as "illegal", in order to keep them profitable, which of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with "morality".
  • Tony Pivetta's picture
    Tony Pivetta 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    Kudos to B.R. on a persuasive and finely crafted column. It's high time libertarians stop ceding the moral high ground to progressives. Not just because transfer payments and business regulations do more harm than good, even focusing solely on the interests of the poor. Efficacy is nagging triviality in this context. No, first and foremost, welfare-statism violates every standard of basic human decency. You can't fund the welfare state--any state--without resorting to taxation. Taxation is just extortion by another name. I have a nit to pick nonetheless. B.R.'s tendentious characterizations notwithstanding, religious views will always have a place in the marketplace of ideas. Belief in God, Christ, virtue, sin, judgment, redemption, heaven and hell survived the coercive atheism of the Soviet Union, the bloodiest dictatorship in history, and they will survive (nay, thrive!) in any devoutly (!) to be realized anarchist society. They are neither "foisted on the uneducated" nor "coerced," in any reasonable sense of that word. This is not to disabuse B.R. of his own atheism. I just see no correlation between religiosity and statism. Some Christians (e.g., the late great Joseph Sobran) are anarchists; many atheists are ardent statists. Why alienate the religionists? Like the raw milk-trafficking Amish, they're as apt to strike the root as anyone.
  • B.R. Merrick's picture
    B.R. Merrick 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    Aha. Then perhaps in the future I should refer to "natural lawS" instead of "natural law" in order to make the distinction. In fact, I'll edit the article to reflect this.
  • Mark Davis's picture
    Mark Davis 3 years 1 week ago Web link Sharon Secor
    It took three shots to kill a Chihuahua? What kind of pea-shooter was she using? A BB-gun? Must be one tough little dog.
  • Mark Davis's picture
    Mark Davis 3 years 1 week ago
    Metamouse
    Page tzo
    Excellent Tzo. The line: "[People] will become accustomed—conditioned, if you will—to accept [an] increasingly miserable state as normal." sums up where we are as a society perfectly. The Normalcy Bias overwhelms the majority of people until they are near starvation and lose it.
  • rita's picture
    rita 3 years 1 week ago Web link Sharon Secor
    Whenever a police officer dies on duty, we are literally inundated with drivel about brave heroes putting their lives on the line blah blah blah. Then one shoots a dog. Or a child. Or your grandpa. And we are reminded that the men and women who would be gods are nothing but a bunch of sniveling, cowardly bullies.
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    G'day B.R. Merrick, Thank you for your friendly greeting and kind words. I'm going to blurt this out, before even reading the rest of your reply, because I have to go to work early, this morning. I humbly apologize if this sounds condescending, but it is a very common error, even with the "experts", to confuse the laws of nature, which is physical law, (as in your examples of Mt St. Hellens and the laws of economics), with the law of nature, which is, in this case, the natural law of man. The natural law of man, according to Noah Webster (c.1825), is "a rule of conduct arising out of the natural relations of human beings...and existing prior to any positive precept," which is virtually identical to the one you found in Wikipedia; "natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior". Once this separation between the laws of nature and the law of nature is clear in our mind it takes not much more than common sense to discover what the natural laws of man are, and how to properly apply them, on a case-by-case basis. The natural law is basically a negative law, in that what you don't want done to you, AGAINST YOUR WILL, you may not do to others, AGAINST THEIR WILL. And, the breaking of any of these laws is a manifest act of consent to have that which you do to others, AGAINST THEIR WILL, done to you. Examples: If you steal a hundred doll-hairs from someone you are manifestly consenting to have one hundred doll-hairs taken from you; if you take, or attempt to take, someone's life, AGAINST THEIR WILL, you are manifestly consenting to forfeit your own life, et cetera, et cetera. FOR'FEIT, v.t. To lose or render confiscable [liable to forfeiture], by some fault, offense or crime; to lose the right to some species of property or that which belongs to one [including one's life]... ~ Webster's 1828 American Dictionary [Bracketed information added] This is why those who wish to rule over you and I, HATE, beyond most men's comprehension, the natural law of man, it "can function as a standard by which to criticize [man-made] law." Knowing this, they resort to their usual modus operandi, discredit and destroy. Same holds true for natural rights, so we play right into their hand when we try to discredit them. This is why Thomas Paine reportedly said this, "That men should take up arms and spend their lives and fortunes, not to maintain their rights, but to maintain they have not rights, is an entirely new species of discovery..." -- he understood their [natural rights] true value! p.s. The boss called and set our start-time back one hour, so I did, after all, get to read the rest of your reply. :)
  • B.R. Merrick's picture
    B.R. Merrick 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    Great excerpt, Glen. My own experience in insisting on cash with doctors has been an eye-opener. Without any complaint on my part (I've always been able to afford the care I needed, and have always tried to save up for it), I find the doctors' fees are always reasonable, usually diminished, and they seem to have no trouble with the lack of paperwork that goes with it. Perhaps if more Tea Partiers in their individual lives insisted on cash, a lot more doctors would get turned on to freedom.
  • Glen Allport's picture
    Glen Allport 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    This is hitting them where it hurts, for sure -- if the State isn't the nice helpful mommy/daddy people keep pretending it is, then -- what IS it? Nice work! Found this today while researching something for a column: http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/cw17.pdf -- "Reinventing Civil Society: The Rediscovery of Welfare Without Politics" by David G. Green Civitas London, 1993 Excerpt:"This book began as an attempt to consider the lessons the former communist countries of Eastern Europe might be able to learn from Western experience of voluntary welfare provision. But, as the study proceeded, it quickly became obvious that we in the West have done almost as much harm to our own voluntary associations as the communist countries, not as part of a deliberate effort to create a mass society of individuals ruled by an elite, but as a result of the inadvertent displacement effect of the welfare state. By narrowing opportunities for personal idealism in the service of others, the welfare state has eroded the sense of personal responsibility and mutual obligation on which a resilient civil society rests." The chapter on Medical Care begins on P. 65: "Medical care was being provided in a variety of ways at the turn of the century.1 The very poor relied on the Poor Law, and provision for the majority of the population fell into three main categories. First, many sought medical care as private patients and paid a fee to the doctor of their choice. The fees charged varied according to income, with rent taken as the chief test of ability to pay. Second, a large section of the population obtained care free of charge through charities, such as the outpatient departments of the voluntary hospitals or free dispensaries. And third there were many pre-payment schemes, commonly called contract practice, based on the payment of a fixed annual capitation fee."
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    Yes. I think Progressives (and really, almost everyone) are more concerned with maintaining their own positive self-image, than they are about people who fall victims to their muddle-headed policies. The latter can always be blamed on their philosophical enemies. Keep in mind, though, that there are lots of poor people being killed in the Middle East, and that is at least as much a conservative project as it is a progressive one.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 3 years 1 week ago Web link Anthony Gregory
    Stupid, stupid article. The comments are worth reading though, almost uniformly opposed to a ban.
  • D. Saul Weiner's picture
    D. Saul Weiner 3 years 1 week ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    I find it really hard to get through to Progressives on certain things. They assume that those who object to high taxes are greedy, only looking to buy some more luxury items. I protest and say that I would be happy to give the money that I currently pay in taxes to worthwhile organizations. I don't want my money being used for wars of aggression, the TSA, the FDA, etc. They see the damage done by the reckless bankers and think that these problems are inherent in business enterprises. Their flawed assumptions are powerful enough for most of them to not even want to have a dialogue with libertarians.
  • B.R. Merrick's picture
    B.R. Merrick 3 years 2 weeks ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    G'day to you too, sir! I defer to you on all matters of natural law, because I didn't even accept it fully until after I debated with you on another article. I am still engaged in an internal debate (somewhat) on natural rights, where I also look forward to your comments. When I think of natural law, I am referring to what I got from Wikipedia: "Natural law or the law of nature (Latin: lex naturalis) has been described as a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore is universal. As classically used, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. The phrase natural law is opposed to the positive law (meaning 'man-made law', not 'good law'; cf. posit) of a given political community, society, or nation-state, and thus can function as a standard by which to criticize that law." My reading of this is: Natural law tells me that Mt. St. Helens is a physical phenomenon that does not think; therefore, it has no regard for human life. So when it blew, it took 57 people out of this life, rich and poor alike. (When I write about natural law, believe it or not, this is the macabre scenario I keep coming up with in my mind.) The sentence you pointed out where it seems to be "respectful of persons" is, in a way, a personification of natural law, or just my writing style. What that means is that when the laws of economics bend to the coercive nature of regulation, economic inequities will be most harshly felt by sentient beings with little means to pay for desired goods and services. Economics will work according to what individual actors do to the economy, whether volitionally or coercively. Like Mt. St. Helens, a higher price doesn't care whether you're rich or poor. But when you look at your hospital bill, it certainly seems like the price has malicious intent, doesn't it? You also said, "If you are saying that natural law is not respectful of the persons (masks) of men, I agree." Then I think we are definitely in agreement.
  • Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
    Lawrence M. Ludlow 3 years 2 weeks ago Page Glen Allport
    Glen, I'm only half-way through this article, and I'm loving it! Your identification of the psychological component is vital. And the psychological dysfunction at the heart of the left and right sides of the political spectrum is a reflection of this unhealthy psychology at the root of statism. I can't claim ultimate precision in what I'm about to say now (nothing is in psychology, which is messy because it involves people), but one can easily say that the unhealthy "id-dominated" personality (or "child-dominated" in transactional psychology) is served by the "left" part of the political spectrum, and the unhealthy superego-dominated personality (or "parent-dominated" personality) is served by the "right" side of the spectrum. Further, the anarchists appeal to the healthy and integrated ego personality (or "adult" personality) but often don't acknowledge or realize this. This is not and cannot be a clean division, but you get the drift. The problem of parenting is so strong in its impact (the lack of respect for infants and children from their perspective) that statism is almost hard-wired into kids as a result of what is considered a "normal" child-rearing experience. Stefan Molyneux has explored some of this in his discussions of non-violent parenting. In a similar and parallel vein, there is a also a growing awareness in the anarchist community about the use of non-violent communication (NVC) as taught by Marshall Rosenberg (here's the link: http://www.cnvc.org/). It, too, acknowledges the need for love as you mention and its genuine expression. I can't thank you enough for bringing this up. This failure to acknowledge the power and importance of love is precisely what is missing among libertarians who get caught up in things like being anti-environmentalists (not just against the statist aspects of the environmentalists, but being anti-nature itself and suspicious of attempts to preserve and act as a responsible steward over natural resources and other life forms). Thank you for so clearly and succinctly expressing your thoughts on this so far. I'm going to recommend this article within my circle.
  • B.R. Merrick's picture
    B.R. Merrick 3 years 2 weeks ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    Thanks, Michael!
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 3 years 2 weeks ago
    How to Hurt the Poor
    Page B.R. Merrick
    G'day B.R. Merrick, I not sure I understand: (1) "It’s natural law, and natural law doesn’t care whether you’re rich or poor, “progressive” or “conservative,” or alive or dead." If you are saying that natural law is not respectful of the persons (masks) of men, I agree[1]. You then proceed to say, "This why the natural law"... Why it what, "...mows over poor people first", (which is the next part of that sentence)? That would make it respectful of the persons of men, if I am not mistaken. But I admit, I may be reading it wrong. Any help would be appreciated. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ [1] I think, however, that you may find that the natural law of man is the law of the living, and not the dead.