Monday, December 13, 2010

Response to CNJ letter to editor- UPDATED

(I was not allowed to respond in the paper, due to a policy of letting the readers have the last word, so I am posting this here instead. My original column is here, and the letter I am responding to is here.)

I was quite excited to see the response by Karl D. Spence to my most recent column. I was slightly disappointed, however, to find he missed my point. Perhaps it gives me an opportunity to clarify some things.

My stance is not so much "anti-government" as it is pro-liberty. Other individuals and groups of individuals can threaten liberty just as much as The State, but those other threats are not usually protected from the consequences of their actions by quite as large a gang, and are not protected by the illusion of legitimacy that has been draped around The State and its actions. However, if someone considers it "anti-government" to be pro-liberty, I will wear that label with honor.

I'd like to address the main points in the letter. Is the city actually keeping the hotel "from continued deterioration" or does it continue to deteriorate? Why is there "no other entity" that could do the same (does it have anything to do with any of the consequences of government action I mentioned?), and why, if it is true that the city has both kept the hotel from continued deterioration AND that no one but the city could have done so, is that goal more important than keeping government out of the real estate business and from using stolen money?

But, I see Mr. Spence has an issue with me calling a spade a spade. Taxation IS theft. Anytime property, such as money, is taken from its owner when that owner would prefer to keep it for his own use, it is theft. If you trade the hours of your life for money, you own that money just as surely as you owned the hours you traded for it. Once they are gone they can never be regained. If the owners of that money did not prefer to keep their own property there would be no need to threaten or penalize people in order to get them to pay "taxes". An act doesn't change its nature simply because the perpetrator has a badge or a government job.

If taxes must be taken to pay for something, it is not necessary. There is no good reason roads must be government-owned. Do you think you use roads "for free" now? You don't. Parks suffer from "the tragedy of the commons". (Have you not been to a city park recently? I have.) Cities which have eliminated traffic lights and all other traffic signals have seen a dramatic reduction in accidents and an increase in courteous driving. What is the benefit in not following suit? I don't need police patrols, and neither do you. It is your responsibility to watch out for yourself (and those around you if you see them being harmed). You can no more delegate that responsibility to anyone else than you can delegate another to eat, drink, or reproduce for you. Fire protection can be, and frequently has been, provided by independent fire departments which use member fees or donations for financing. I have written extensively on such excuses for keeping government around. Government, once again, is completely unnecessary.

Yes, I'm sure cities are happy to get the federal handouts, but receiving stolen property, when you know it is stolen, is just as wrong as doing the stealing yourself. Where does that "federal grant money" come from? Some comes from Clovis residents and some comes from people who have never heard of Clovis. Do you think Clovis gets more than was taken from its residents, or less? Does that make a difference in how you view it? Just because a thief promises to only use the money he takes from you to feed widows and orphans (after keeping a percentage for "expenses", of course) does not excuse or justify his act.

Like Mr. Spence, I also hope a productive use can be found for Hotel Clovis, but "productive" necessarily means without government intervention.

Update: I got a comment on that letter that can be found here and which I wanted to reply to. The main points are that my "ramblings" here make no sense, and that taxation can't be theft because no governments could exist without it, and the world couldn't function without taxation.
For some reason the site is not allowing me to comment, so until I can add the comment there, I'll post it here.

The thieves have convinced a majority of people to believe otherwise, but taxation is still theft.

As for the restaurant analogy, there is no comparison. Are you forced to eat at the restaurant? Are you required to eat at any restaurant and not allowed to prepare your own food instead? If you choose to eat at the restaurant are you not allowed to eat only what you can afford? Are you required to pay for other people's meals too? Restaurants must compete for your business and if you would rather not do business with them they don't send armed thugs to your house to make you pay up anyway.

Why do you believe governments ("city, state or country") are necessary? Rules based upon not harming the innocent are good, but these don't come from government, and all governments violate these foundational rules by their very existence.

Instead of taking money from people, let people pay for the services they want, from the provider they prefer. End the monopoly that is government.


  1. I don't know why they wouldn't let you publish this. I can assure you that it wouldn't be "the last word." LOL

    Nuts to them, Kent. They are playing games with you.

  2. When I see Libertarians cease calling 9-1-1, drive on public roads in cars with government mandated safety standards, using gas that has not shipped to the US protected by various governments' treaties and navies, watch government screened films, use the Dept of Defense-created internet, drink water and eat food that has been cleaned, subsidized, and otherwise monitored by the government, get educations that receive no government funding whatsoever, etc. etc. I will be convinced of the sincerity of this belief.

    The fact of the matter is that for thousands of years people have been gathering together in everything from tribe's to nations. Why? Because it is the most equitable and efficient way to provide security and freedom. If it was not, humans would still be solitary families. America itself has gone through phases where the government was almost nonexistent in people's lives, and the almighty free market reigned supreme; along with debtor prisons, child laborers, slavery, nonexistent safety standards, etc. For all the wrongs the government has done to people, look at all the evils that came from an unaccountable free market. The reason we have the system we have now is because the American people decided to sacrifice some liberty for reasonable security and greater freedoms in other areas. And quite obviously decided and continue to decide as a nation that it is worth it.

    If you still absolutely detest the evils of big government, and wish the services it provide to be provided by private entities, then you are free to remove yourself from this contract (renounce citizenship) and go where this is possible; Somalia, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mongolia, and the Western Sahara region of Morocco all come to mind.

  3. You miss the whole point of government "services" being a monopoly enforced by the threat of death. I would gladly opt out and choose a free-market alternative to any of those things you mention if government didn't kill people to maintain its monopoly. What you demand as proof of "sincerity" is not possible in the society in which we all must exist.

    And, the DoD co-opted (coercively took control of) the internet after it had been created; it didn't create it. But keep believing that particular, and very popular, statist lie.

    As long as a "tribe" or other association of people is voluntary and people can opt out, I have no issue with people organizing however they want. Such is not the case with The State. This cancer has spread planet-wide. This is the first time in human history that there is no frontier available for those who withdraw consent to be slaves. A true, voluntary "collective" would be fluid, with members joining and leaving as it suits their individual wants and needs. No one would be forced to stay with the group when it does things that are destructive to the particular individual. Unanimous consent is the only ethical way to organize anything.

    There is no such thing as "an unaccountable free market". There is always accountability when people are free to choose a competitor. Slavery was government-enforced. Child labor improved the lives of those children (and their families) who otherwise would have been working on a farm doing much harder and more dangerous work. Safety is enhanced by choice and knowledge; not by arbitrary government rules. Debtors' prisons were not free market. Even if something bad isn't stomped out in the free market fast enough to suit you, only government imposes and maintains such destructive edifices. With the support of some of its most pathetic victims, I might add.

    I know of people who have renounced citizenship. The federal government refuses to accept this and continues to pretend to hold a claim on their life. Leaving one gang of thieves to live under another is not a net gain. Plus, the bad guys would love for all the good people to pack it in and leave so they could "win" by default. This is why they shout "love it or leave it". No, I love my friends, family, and the good things about where I live and refuse to abandon them to the bad guys just because the bad guys are powerful.

    Government has done a good job of brainwashing "the majority" to believe as you do, though.

  4. 1) An accountable free market is a myth, and one that Standard Oil, the derivatives industry, and the vast majority of Americans in the 1920's banked on. As I said earlier, there is not one wrong that the government has done that the free market has not done also.
    2) Security can only exist with organized violence, and if I have a choice between free-wheeling unregulated violence that goes to the highest bidder (i.e. the 3rd world) in a free market model of government regulated violence that is accountable to voters, I will always choose the latter. And as stated earlier, there are plenty of nations with little or no government to suit your needs, and at any time anyone with the means to do so can live there.

    Finally, we live in a free nation. You have the right to vote, assemble, et al. In fact, you live in a nation that has MORE freedoms for more people than the original United States in the time of the Founding Fathers did. And the incontrovertible fact is that Americans through both action and apathy have set this system up for themselves, and the majority are content with it. As Locke said, all governments exist through the consent of the people. And whether violently tyrannical or free, all governments have and will answer to their citizenry. People ultimately get the government they deserve, and like it or not, the majority of Americans want this standard of government we have now.

  5. 1) None of those were the result of "the free market" anymore than was the "healthcare mess", or the bailout mess, or any other justification recent government supporters have used for bigger government. And the big difference is that when the free market does something that is wrong, it can't shove a gun in your face to make you go along- without facing consequences. You can defend yourself without the business being able to kidnap or kill you and claim it is in the right. This is rarely the case with government (Corey Maye comes to mind). Government makes the rules and sets up the rules to make its evil actions "legal". Business can't do that. (And corporations are not "business" but a government-created fiction.)

    2) Organized violence is one thing- it can be very good as long as it is only used in defense and not in attack. However that violence should not be wielded by a gang that claims a monopoly on violence. It results in inevitable abuses. If that organized violence is used in attack, as all governments do, it becomes the opposite of security.

    If I choose to go to some other "nation", will the US allow me to take all of my property (or the money I get from selling that property)? No. It demands a cut. It makes no difference where one goes as the entire planet is under The State.

    America is not a free nation. It is freer than some others, but pretending that just because the bed of fire ants you stand in is better than a pit of lava you are in the best situation is a false view of reality. It ignores the meadow just over the hill that is better than either.

    Many people do not have "the right to vote". Just because they are the wrong age, or have done something the government forbids, or a multitude of other reasons. You have the right to assemble, but can exercise it only at the government's whim. Want to gather to tell the president what you think of him? You will be herded into "free speech zones". Want to march in protest? Make sure to beg the government for permission by getting your permits. Any right that is rationed, regulated, licensed, or otherwise infringed is being violated.

    By what measure does America have "more freedom" now than previously? Economic? Possibly, but not very convincingly. Health-wise? Probably, but this is in spite of government, not due to it. By almost every measure I can think of, America is much less free now than even a generation ago.

    Yes, individual people are to blame. And, yes, the "majority" are content. This is probably due to government-run "public schools" dumbing-down the population. Just because people want (or are led to believe they want) this kind of government doesn't make it right. It is a house of straw built on a sand dune, with a lit candle leaning against the wall. Socialism always fails, no matter what you call it or how you justify it. I hope my writings at least make some people decide to take precautions and stop relying on the unreliable. Governments say they exist by the consent of the governed. I don't need to be governed, I don't want my neighbors to be governed, and I withdraw consent, if I ever did consent.

  6. But the fact remains that nongovernmental entities have done the same things governments have in the past, be it the East India Company running entire nations to the Coal magnates contracting the Pinkertons to squash dissent, or Executive Outcomes invading and occupying an entire nation. Fundamentally corporations and governments are the same, groups of people who provide a service. The difference between the two is that a government is accountable to the nation, a business only the customer. Furthermore, a government is motivated to action by the citizenry, a business only profit. And if our society revolved around profit, we would end up just like the aforementioned failed states.

    To clarify my "more free" comment: when our nation was founded, only white property owning males over the age of 21 and usually protestant could vote. Candidates were determined by caucus, and Senators were appointed by state legislature. People who didn't meet the voting requirement were cannon fodder at best, slaves at worst.

    Former Libertarian

  7. "America itself has gone through phases where the government was almost nonexistent in people's lives, and the almighty free market reigned supreme; "

    That time never existed. Would you mind specifying such a period? The earliest settlements were Royally chartered corporations-certainly not free-market entities,or outright military and paramilitary organizations(such as the Dutch East India Co. you mention) and at no point between then and now has government been "almost non-existant". That is a myth-put out, frankly, by libertarians. It is a lie. A stupid and counterproductive one.

    The only example of anything even approaching an example of "almost non-existent" government that I can think of would be SOME(perhaps even most, but certainly not all) of the native American tribes in north America and parts of south America-and they did ok, frankly-well until that whole slaughter bit.

    "Fundamentally corporations and governments are the same, groups of people who provide a service."

    Almost right. Corporations are legal entities that are created by government edict, and so they are really the same thing-both would cease to exist without implied force however, so they don't "provide service" they limit options. Indeed, governments themselves ARE a street sign the next time you pull into a town-it will say, "corporation limit". This is not semantics, they really are the same thing legally.

    Though I don't think you know it, you are beating up on a straw man.

  8. Former Libertarian,

    Corporations are a part of the government and I think any distinction between the two is misguided. Corporations can get away with the wrong they do because of the special relationship they have with the looters of The State.

    I don't measure freedom by who is allowed to vote for the next slave-owner/tyrant.

    In the early years of America, if I didn't consent to the local government (which was normally the only one which could have any real impact on my life), I could move to another town, or move beyond "civilization" altogether. It didn't matter if I qualified to vote or if I were a fugitive slave.

    Nothing is perfect, there is no Utopia, yet liberty is the best possible solution to everything. I have never found any situation where it didn't provide the best outcome- even if that outcome wasn't perfect it was still better than the coercive alternative.

    I know many people think of me as a "non-libertarian" because I don't advocate a libertarian government (which I see as an oxymoron). Yet, since I think the Zero Aggression Principle is still the best rule for dealing with others that has ever been formulated, and I think it is wrong to defraud, attack, or steal no matter what you call it or what silly hat you wear, I will still claim that qualifies me as a libertarian.