Steve G.

Archive for the ‘Socialism’ Category

Libertarianism, Vulgar Libertarianism, and Vulgar Socialism

In Human Rights Abuses, Libertarian, Socialism on October 17, 2009 at 6:34 pm

On September 28th, 2009, Francois Tremblay, a former propertarian anarchist, wrote a blog piece to showcase what he currently sees to be the inexorable problems resulting from a defence of property rights.  In doing so, he quotes extensively from a piece written over thirty-four years ago by capitalism-advocate Walter Block.

In reading Mr. Tremblay’s post, I could not help but to think of how vulgar libertarianism facilitates vulgar socialism and vice versa.  (For those unfamiliar with the terms vulgar libertarianism and vulgar socialism, definitions will be provided below, coupled with examples and analyses.)

The Block piece from which Mr. Tremblay quotes was originally published in 1975 in The Libertarian Forum VIII, no. 9.  Dr. Block’s article, dealing specifically with certain ideological problems he found in the Women’s Liberation movement, does a fine job of inadvertently exemplifying the stigmergic problems of vulgar libertarianism, so I shall start there.  It’s not the simple fact that Block challenges currents within the Women’s Liberation movement that makes his comments of a vulgar stripe, of course, since such challenges need not challenge the validity of the movement as a whole.  Indeed, otherwise good movements should be challenged by radicals who wish to improve said movements by radicalising them.  Instead, the problem is the result of a misunderstanding of the nature and proper constraints of property.

Writes Dr. Block,

It [the pinching that takes place between a secretary and her or his boss] is not a coercive action like the pinching that takes place in the public sphere because it is part of a package deal: the secretary agrees to all aspects of the job when she agrees to accept the job and especially when she agrees to keep the job (p. 6).

My gut reaction here is to say that Dr. Block is wrong.1

And he was wrong, that is, unless he was describing a scenario in which the employment contract specifically allocates to the boss the luxury of pinching or a scenario in which the boss and her employee have mutually agreed to have the sort of relationship where pinching is permissible.2

If this is not what Block was implying, if instead Block was implying that all workers—by sheer virtue of being employees—have de facto agreed to being pinched by their employers, then Block was wrong, and his position was actually in defiance of true property rights.  After all, the woman owns her own body, and does not cease being a self-owner simply because she chooses to seek employment from another human being (i.e., to trade on a voluntary basis the fruits of her labour for something for which she has greater subjective value, e.g., a generally-accepted medium of exchange).  If the employer pinches the employee without the employee having explicitly consented to being pinched, then the employer has usurped from the employee control over the employee’s private property, specifically her physical body, and the employee has every right to sue her employer for such usurpation.

To prevent the employee from issuing such a suit would be just as liberticidal and anti-propertarian as to prevent the employer from firing her employee at any time.

Dr. Block’s insistence here that employers have a de facto “right” to pinch their employees appears to be an illustrative example of what we call vulgar libertarianism.  Vulgar libertarianism is the tendency to see any business-related relationship or institution as de facto just or good.3  Here, Block assumed that if the pinching takes place on private property, it is necessarily consensual by virtue of that fact alone.  While Block was correct to note the differences between private pinching and public pinching, and to point out that the private sector has systemic incentives to eliminate social ills in a way that the government sector does not, he made the irrational jump to concluding that private pinching is somehow not a violation of self-ownership.

It is important that we note the differences between libertarianism and vulgar libertarianism.  While the former is the consistent application of the non-aggression axiom and, by extension, a defence of all justly-acquired, scarce property, the latter is an inadvertent confusion within the libertarian movement between the true free market and the semi-, pseudo-, and un-free markets prevalent under statism.  While it certainly appears true that society has tended to prosper more greatly under state capitalism than under state socialism, nevertheless the libertarian rejects both systems, and confidently predicts that the greatest prosperity the masses can achieve would be achieved under what Rothbard called free-market capitalism or what Spangler calls free-market socialism.

Continued Dr. Block,

There is a serious problem with considering pinching or sexual molestation in a privately owned office or store to be coercive. If an action is really and truly coercive, it ought to be outlawed. But if pinching and sexual molestation are outlawed in private places, this violates the rights of those who voluntarily wish to engage in such practices.

What tortured logic!  This is like saying, “If rape is wrong, then we should outlaw sex.  But if sex is outlawed, this violates the rights of those who voluntarily wish to engage in such practices.”

Of course, the reality is that voluntary sex, unlike rape, should be completely legal precisely because it is voluntary, unlike rape.

Or, “If injecting unsuspecting victims with a drug is wrong, then drugs should be outlawed.  But if drugs are outlawed, this violates the rights of those who voluntarily wish to use them.”

Of course, the reality is that voluntary drug use, unlike forcibly injecting people with heroin against their will, should be completely legal precisely because it is voluntary, unlike forcible injection.

In other words, one does not have to prohibit voluntary pinching (or even voluntary sex) within the workplace to prohibit unconsensual pinching.  It is beyond me how Block ever came to such a silly conclusion.  (At least he realised the virtue in retracting this insanity.)

“The proof,” Block continues,

of the voluntary nature of an act in a private place is that the person endangered (the woman, in the cases we have been considering) has no claim whatsoever to the private place in question, the office or the store. If she continues to patronize or work at a place where she is molested, it can only be voluntary.

This is the same irrationality that leads some people to believe that the state is somehow “really voluntary.”  They say, “You choose not to move somewhere else, therefore you have consented to abiding by the laws of the area.”

Dr. Block would probably reply by correctly pointing out that there is a massive difference between the state and a private, voluntary institution like the free-market firm.  But a violation of property rights does not cease to be a violation of property rights simply because it takes place on another person’s property!

Let us imagine a scenario where radical libertarians have made sweeping victories, and the roads are, finally, all privately owned.  In some cases, the roads may be owned by private firms.  In some cases, they may be co-owned by the residents of the local community in the form of shares.  Whatever the case may be, there is no state ownership, control, or subsidisation of the streets.

Let’s imagine that Smith, who has permission from the owners of Baker Street, goes walking one night down the street and gets murdered by Robinson.  Let’s also say that Robinson is not caught, and thus is not forced to pay restitution for his crime to the family of his victim.

Would this mean that anyone else who traverses Baker Street has agreed to allow others to kill her or him merely by virtue of the fact that she or he has chosen to walk a street where another (Robinson) has been murdered?  Of course not!

Nor would we say that a woman who has been raped on Baker Street has agreed to all further sexual encounters she may have on the street simply by virtue of the fact that she continues to use that street in order to get home.

The only possible exception to this is in the scenario in which the owners of Baker Street have made it perfectly clear to all of their patrons that the street is to be a domain in which people may live out the Hobbesian war of all against all.  Only then could it be said that Smith has agreed to being raped, murdered, or otherwise victimised while traversing Baker Street.  But in any situation where this condition has not been clearly made in advance, it can be nothing but irrational to assume that the victim has “consented” to being victimised!

Let us consider the issue of murder within the home.  If Smith is a guest of Robinson and is standing in Robinson’s home, does Robinson have a right to pull out a gun and simply shoot Smith at will?  Absolutely not.

Robinson does have the right to expel Smith from her (Robinson’s) property, and to brandish her gun if necessary to perform the expulsion.  But Robinson has only the right to use as much force as is necessary to perform the expulsion; she does not have any right to use excessive force, i.e., force above and beyond that which is necessary to encourage Smith to leave.  Since shooting Smith in the head is almost always unnecessary, she therefore only has the right to do this if she feels that she (or her family, or other guests) are actually endangered by Smith.  (This use of force does not, in my opinion, violate the non-aggression axiom because it is a defensive use of force.)

Robinson may also shoot Smith if Smith explicitly consents.  Perhaps Smith wishes to commit suicide, but cannot bring himself to shooting himself.  Thus, he has come to his friend Robinson requesting that she assist him in his suicide.  She is no criminal, in accordance with natural law, for providing such assistance.4

Yet these appear to be the only instances in which one may use this sort of force.  One does not have a right to simply shoot one’s guests, at least not in accordance with natural law.  In a true anarchy where the common legal institutions recognise the supremacy of natural law, one has the right to do whatever one wants except for those actions that would violate the equal rights of others, and since one’s guest remains a self-owner even when she or her invites said guest onto her or his property, the property owner’s property rights clearly cannot extend to a “right” to alienate the property rights of her or his guests.

This bring us back to Tremblay, whose position appears to exemplify a certain vulgar socialism.  Where a vulgar libertarian may assume that property ownership gives one a perverse and totalitarian control over all persons who tread upon one’s property, Mr. Tremblay appears to make the opposite mistake, assuming property itself is perverse and totalitarian.  In fact, we can see that Tremblay makes this mistake by assuming the same property conditions that are assumed by the vulgar libertarians.

Mr. Tremblay writes,

NOTE to all the ancaps who are itching to reply that “sexual harassment is a form of aggression and is simply wrong”: that’s exactly our point. Capitalist property theory allows any form of injustice as long as it’s done “on one’s property.”

I do not know in what sense Mr. Tremblay is using the term “capitalist” here.  If capitalism is to be defined as that mercantilist system of corporate privilege which can only exist as a product of the visible fist of the state, then all libertarians, including anarcho-“capitalists,” are opposed to capitalism.  Contrariwise, if one defines “capitalism” as being synonymous with the free market, then all libertarians, even free-market anarcho-syndicalists and “anti-capitalist” mutualists, are “capitalists.”  But perhaps Mr. Tremblay is using the term in its most basic and value-free sense: a system where one or more person own and may trade ownership of the means of production.

If Mr. Tremblay is using this value-free definition, then he is incorrect to assume that there is any such thing as a “capitalist property theory.”  And if he is using one of the two value-laden definitions I describe here, then he would be well-advised to define which definition he is using, for one’s conclusions may very well be contingent upon which definition is employed.

I’ll simply assume that Tremblay intends to refer to the Rothbardian property theory, which is of course founded on the vitally-important homesteading principle, first developed by John Locke.  Rothbard holds that one cannot own a plot of land merely by claiming ownership over it.  Nor can one own a fenced-off plot of land merely by placing a fence around it.  One can only come to own a plot of land through “mixing one’s labour with the soil,” and as such, when one erects a fence without doing anything to the land that has been fenced off, one can only justly claim ownership of the land directly beneath the fence itself.  This is the Rothbardian property theory.

Rothbard demonstrates quite effectively just how egalitarian his theory of property is in volume one of his Conceived in Liberty (1975).5  Rothbard describes the situation of the evil Virginia Company, which was granted exclusive and authoriarian power by the Crown, granting large tracks of land to privileged elites, elites who in turn would never have been able to maintain dominion over the large tracks if they had been confined by the homesteading principle.  Instead of acquiring and accumulating land through the just means of homesteading and voluntary trade, these elites used labour from slaves and indentured servants to maintain illegitimate control over lands to which they had no right whatsoever.

Assuming Mr. Tremblay indeed did mean to reference the Rothbardian theory of property, let us analyse whether his claim is accurate.  Does such a theory of property allow “any form of injustice as long as it’s done ‘on one’s property’”?  As I have already explained above, it does not.  What I do not believe I have yet sufficiently explained is precisely why it does not.

The short answer is this: the law of non-contradiction.  If I have a right to justly-acquired scarce property that I have either homesteaded myself or that I have acquired through voluntary trade from someone else who has justly-acquired it, it can only be the case that I have this right if and because I justly own my own body and the fruits of my labour.  I cannot justly own any external property if I do not own my own body and the fruits of my labour for, without these prerequisites, how could I ever come to own other things?

Yet, if we live in a universe where the law of non-contradiction is active and real, in a universe in which two contradictory facts cannot both be true, then for a human like me to have a natural right to self-ownership, it must also be the case that other humans also have the same, equal right to self-ownership.  The reason my property ownership cannot justify my murder of you is that our mutual self-ownership is a natural prerequisite to either of us owning any external property in the first place.  To murder you, even if the murder takes place on my property, I must believe that self-ownership is some sort of fiction, and if I do believe it is some sort of fiction, it stands to reason that I cannot accurately be described as someone who believes in any property rights whatsoever.

It is because Mr. Tremblay has recently adopted a vulgar libertarian view of property that he has recently, and unfortunately, declined into a vulgar socialism.6  And this precisely illustrates my point, that vulgar libertarianism and vulgar socialism fuel each other.  The vulgar libertarian sees the vulgar socialist saying “property is theft” and, unthinkingly and uncritically, counters that all property is good.  The vulgar socialist sees the vulgar libertarian saying that big business can do no wrong and, unthinkingly and uncritically, attacks all market activity and division of labour.  Both sides talk past one another, with neither side making any useful progress.

Above, Block assumed that in order to allow voluntary, consensual pinching to take place, we would need to allow all pinching, including involuntary pinching.  Similarly, Tremblay assumes that to oppose involuntary pinching that takes place on private property, we would need to oppose all private property.  In both of these cases, I cannot help but to see the conclusions presented as total absurdities.  If it is true that all pinching is de facto okay, Block certainly has not proved it, and if it is true that abolition of all property rights to external resources is necessary to protect self-ownership, Tremblay has certainly not failed to prove it, either.

Further, in both cases, reason appears to indicate that both are wrong.  It appears to me that reason indicates that a business owner cannot justly claim ownership over her firm if she does not respect the property rights of the self-owners with whom she interacts.  But likewise, it appears to me that reason indicates that if a person has a right to not be pinched, she must naturally have a property right in the scarce matter that constitutes her physical body.7  If this is the case, then it would stand to reason that she also owns the product of her labour, for one’s labour is naturally and indubitably an extension of one’s self.  Thus, in the same way that the vulgar libertarian defies her own belief in property rights when using property claims to “validate” violations of the rights of other self-owners, the vulgar socialist likewise defies her own belief in the invalidity of external property claims when she uses notions of individual autonomy in order to argue against any individual control over those things appropriated from the state of nature through one’s labour.

Therefore, both Block (circa 1975) and Tremblay (currently) appear flawed in their analyses.
  But, perhaps I am wrong.  Perhaps I have misread Dr. Block or Mr. Tremblay—or both!
8  And I’ll be more than willing to consider arguments to the contrary.  In the meantime, all I can say is that I recommend that all libertarians, left and “right,” beware of the lure of vulgar libertarianism and of vulgar socialism alike, for each of them can do nothing good for those who desire liberty, equality, or peace, but instead can only lead to the promulgation of the other.  Let all libertarians, left and “right,” unite, rather than allowing our vulgar variants divide us.

—Alexander S. Peak

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1 I feel obligated to point out that, according to Mr. Stephen Kinsella, Dr. Block has (I’m happy to say) completely retracted his view on pinching.  On Brad Spangler’s blog, Kinsella quotes Block as saying,

“That passage about secretary pinching appeared in the very first edition (1976) of Defending the Undefendable. When this error of mine was pointed out to me, I immediately insisted that a new edition be published, and those words were deleted from it and all subsequent editions. Those erroneous words of mine were incompatible with the libertarian non aggression principle, and with everything else I have ever written about that subject.”

2 Of course, even if this is the case, the employee is free under natural law to, at any time, no longer consent to being party to such a relationship—just as married couples under natural law are free to divorce at any time.

Let’s say I make an agreement with my boss that she may pinch me at any time, and a year later I decide I no longer enjoy being pinched by her.  I inform her that I no longer consent to being pinched.  She may then threaten to take me off her Christmas list, she may threaten to fire me, she may threaten to call all of her friends and tell them I have a small penis—but what she may not do is initiate physical force against me.  Thus, if she pinches me again even after I inform her that she may not, then she has aggressed against me, and it is my absolute and undeniable right to sue her for this crime.

Unfortunately, Dr. Block would disagree with us on this matter.  He unfortunately believes that voluntary slavery contracts would be enforceable in a free society, despite the fact that Murray Rothbard had repeatedly pointed out that it is impossible for someone to surrender ownership of her or his own body as long as it is attached to the will.  If I make a contract with your recording company to record three albums, and I only record two, the Rothbardian position is that I may not be forced to perform the writing of a third album, and that your recording company is only obliged to fulfill its end of the bargain once I have fulfilled mine.  Block, it would appear, believes that I may be justly compelled with force to write and perform songs for a third album.  It appears like the consensus is against Dr. Block here—most anarchists and libertarians I have encountered reject the “voluntary slavery contract” thesis.

For some interesting thoughts on contract theory as it relates to the current matter of pinching, see Kinsella’s reply to Spangler’s post.

3 Such tendencies often lead otherwise good libertarians into inadvertently defending conditions resulting from statism or aggression as if those conditions were instead the product of market.  The term vulgar libertarian was coined by Kevin Carson.  While I do not agree with Carson on everything, I believe his contribution to libertarian thought in critiquing vulgar libertarianism tends to be rather useful.

4 Nevertheless, it cannot be merely assumed that Smith consents to assisted suicide merely by accepting Robinson’s invitation to enter Robinson’s home.  Nor, I would argue, can it even be assumed that Smith has consented to assisted suicide at the hands of Robinson by breaking into Robinson’s home.  Again, only if Robinson actually feels as though an inhabitant of her home is endangered by Smith—or Smith has explicitly and contractually consented to assisted suicide—may Robinson justly take Smith’s life.  For further thoughts on assisted suicide, see my The Intelligent Yet Flawed Jonah Goldberg, 8 July 2008.

5 It must be admitted that Rothbard would never describe himself as an egalitarian, but this seems to be because he defines egalitarianism to mean the sort of insane, forced “equality” one finds in Kurt Vonnegut’s great short story, “Harrison Bergeron.”

Dr. Roderick Long makes the excellent point that libertarianism is actually founded on a fundamental belief in equality.  Writes Long,

“[W]e must turn from Jefferson to Jefferson’s source, John Locke, who tells us exactly what ‘equality’ in the libertarian sense is: namely, a condition ‘wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another, there being nothing more evident than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another, without subordination or subjection….’

“In short, the equality that Locke and Jefferson speak of is equality in authority: the prohibition of any ‘subordination or subjection’ of one person to another. Since any interference by A with B’s liberty constitutes a subordination or subjection of B to A, the right to liberty follows straightforwardly from the equality of ‘power and jurisdiction’” (Equality: The Unknown Ideal, 29 September 2001).

6 This is not to imply that Mr. Tremblay (or any other vulgar socialist or vulgar libertarian) is a hopeless case, or even that nothing he contributes to libertarian thought is valuable.  Rather, I am of the hope that this deviation will be short-lived.  For clarity, I do not encourage that anyone treat Mr. Tremblay too hostilely, for such reactionary tendencies are just as likely to lead a libertarian to vulgar libertarianism as they have lead Mr. Tremblay toward vulgar socialism.

7 This point is one that I do not anticipate Mr. Tremblay rejecting.  Even if he rejects the rhetoric I use, and claims not to believe in “self-ownership,” it appears clear he does believe in self-ownership as I understand the term, lest he would not have a problem with the unwanted pinching of secretaries in the first place.  I’ll therefore assume that his anti-propertarianism simply rejects that property which is external to the physical self.  What is important here is the following sentence, in which I discuss the implications of self-ownership.

The reason I do not wish to assume that Tremblay rejects self-ownership is that I do not want to run the risk of employing a straw-man argument.  If Tremblay actually does reject self-ownership, not just in rhetoric but also in fact, then it would be easy to tear down his argument and show how he cannot possibly defend a prohibition of or opposition to pinching without it.  Moreover, if this is actually the case, then Mr. Tremblay would be unable to muster any arguments whatsoever against rape, murder, or even that institutionalisation of aggression we call the state.  But people make straw-man arguments all too often, and I am more than willing to give Mr. Tremblay the benefit of the doubt here.

8 I’ll certainly admit that I have not read everything written by either Block or Tremblay, so it is quite possible that they have written other things that, were I aware of these works, I would have written this entire piece in a very different manner.

George Phillies: Barr promoting Libertarian Socialism?

In Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Media, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Socialism on August 3, 2008 at 1:00 pm

The following was written by George Phillies, and is reproduced with permission of the author.

Bob Barr Press Release writes about his opponents

So, please, tell us something we don’t know! The bigger fact is that NEITHER campaign is talking about the important issues that affect the lives of Americans. Neither has a real plan that would result in lower energy costs. Neither is going to do anything about $4 a gallon gasoline, the inflation that looms ahead as well as the overall weakening of our economy….

in other words

The President should do something about prices! The President should carry out economic planning!

As afar as I can see, this is a call for socialism.

I’m sorry, but when did Libertarian Socialism become a new wing of our party?

The S-Word

In Libertarian, Socialism on July 21, 2008 at 7:16 am

In Kansas City last week, John McCain said Barack Obama had the “most extreme” Senate voting record, I guess referring to National Journal’s annual rating of voting records during the previous year, which found Obama the most liberal senator based on 99 key votes. (Of course, since someone — Sen. Jim DeMint — was also ranked most conservative, it could be argued both Obama and DeMint registered as equally “extreme”.) After the event, McCain was asked if he thought Obama was an extremist. He replied, “His voting record…is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.” Pressed on whether he thinks Obama is a socialist, McCain replied, “I don’t know. All I know is his voting record, and that’s what people usually judge their elected representatives by.” The Obama camp took this as an insult, issuing a statement saying in part that McCain was issuing “the same old tired political attacks that the American people are sick of.”

But what’s wrong with calling someone a socialist? It is not — or at least should not be — a dirty word. The “same old tired” politics is really the castigation of entire groups because of reasonable but minority philosophical stances. Liberals were so cowed by attacks on their proud tradition that they rebranded themselves “progressives”. Before 1978 or so, “conservative” was deemed a slander.

During an appearance on The Colbert Report earlier this year, George Will summed up the philosophical divide in American politics quite elegantly: “Conservatives tend to favor freedom and are willing to accept inequalities of outcome from the free market, liberals are for equality of outcome and are willing to sacrifice and circumscribe freedom in order to get it.” While Will defended his stance as a proponent of the conservative view, he did not trash-talk the liberal view. His simple summary makes great sense. If one believes freedom to be paramount, inequality is a necessary side-effect, as the government will not be intervening to boost some and hold others back. If one believes equality to be most important, restrictions on personal activity are required to keep those with certain advantages in check.

I heard Kurt Vonnegut speak years ago, when I was still in college, and at one point he thundered, “‘Socialist’ is not a dirty word!” While Vonnegut’s democratic socialism was hardly a secret, I’ve always thought it odd, coming from the author of “Harrison Bergeron“, probably the best cautionary tale of regulation with the goal of absolute equality ever written. I, of course, am not a socialist, though I once was, and I agree that “socialist” is not a dirty word. We need to get beyond such simplistic attacks in order to have an honest debate about the merits of freedom versus forced equality.

New third party political blog

In Green Party, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Socialism on May 20, 2008 at 6:47 pm

I ran across Independent Political Report via Google alerts, and was pleasantly surprised to see some familiar names there.

If you get a free minute, cruise over to see what you think.

Government Gone Wild: Extortion Edition

In Activism, Civil Liberties, Communism, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Drug War, Fraud, Law, Law Enforcement, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Local Politics, Police State, Politics, Socialism, Taxation on April 20, 2008 at 5:16 pm

By now we are all aware that the government can seize your car, your house, your money, etc if they believe the items were purchased with the proceeds of drug transactions. However, the practice of seizing property is actually far more common than that, and far, far more sinister.

Are you aware that the government can steal your house, even if you don’t owe a dime on it, and sell it for as little as one year of back taxes? On top of that they pile on additional extortion fees, and you’ll end up either paying the taxes and fees, or being homeless. They’ll sell it for a small percentage of what the property is worth, and there are predators who actually make a living by buying houses this way, only to resell them.

Are you aware that if you are caught driving a motor vehicle with an expired registration, the government can steal it and place it in an impound, where you will be forced to also pay a high towing fee plus a shocking amount for it to just sit there (usually between $25 and $50 per day) until you pay their extortion fee? Are you aware that if you don’t pay that extortion fee (which at that point includes the fee to the towing company for towing and storage, plus the registration, plus the taxes, plus whatever ticket you got for not having an up-to-date registration) within a short period of time, sometimes as little as 30 days, they will sell your vehicle and you will no longer have any rights to it?

There are predators who actually make a living buying cars that way for resell, too, not to mention the predatory towing companies in cahoots with the government, who make all that extra money for doing nothing (in some places, the government has its own impound lot, but in most, the impound is merely the towing company’s premises).

So, what gives the government the right to take something which doesn’t belong to them, and the right to sell it and give you back nothing no matter how much it was worth, even if you owned the property free and clear?

Only the laws the government has written for its own benefit give them that right, of course. Nothing else gives them that right. There certainly is no constitutional right for the government to steal your property, nor is there a natural right for the government to do such a heinous thing. Extortion, especially on that level, is illegal for everyone except the government.

You are actually far more likely to fall prey to this government extortion scheme if you don’t owe money on your property. Of course, the government knows whether you own it free and clear or not, since they have specifically written laws stating that any lien interest must be filed with them.

Those who fall prey to these schemes are not just those who protest taxes. Instead, most victims are simply good people who fell upon hard times, and many times those hard times are directly caused by government extortion which snowballs.

Let’s say you inherited a home from your parents, and you have a car which you worked and paid for yourself. The home is bought and paid for as well, so you own both your car and your house free and clear. Then let’s say that you work too far away to get there any way except by automobile. You didn’t get your registration paperwork in the mail (not at all unusual in my experience), so you simply forgot it was due. You get stopped by the police because your registration is expired, and they ticket you and impound your vehicle.

At that point, you don’t have the money to get the vehicle out – it will cost you the towing fee, plus daily storage fees, plus personal property taxes, plus registration – and you can’t even make that kind of money because you have lost your job for missing work. You also can’t pay the fine you were levied because you didn’t have an updated registration, so your license is suspended until you pay that, plus about $50 to the DMV to reinstate your license (which in reality requires only a mouse click on a computer).

The only job you can get to feed yourself and your family, and be able to get there and back since you no longer have a car or a license, pays minimum wage. There is no way you will be able to afford to get your vehicle back. So you tell yourself, “that’s okay, I’ve been in hard times before. I’ll eventually I’ll get back on my feet again, and pay the fine and get another car. We’ll scrape by.” In the meantime, the government sells your car right out from under you.

A friend has an old moped they no longer use, and they let you use it so you can get back and forth to a little bit better job. There is no license plate or anything on it, so you assume you don’t have to have that. It’s slower than a bicycle, after all. You are pulled over by the cops, and hit with multiple tickets. You are ticketed for not wearing a helmet, for not having a license plate on it, for not having insurance on it, for not registering it and paying taxes on it …. the list goes on. You are fined hundreds of dollars, even though the vehicle isn’t even yours, and they impound the moped, too. To make sure it gets back the maximum return, the towing company actually sends a tow truck to transport a moped. You also go to jail for driving on a suspended license, even though no one with more than one brain cell would assume you need a drivers’ license to drive a moped, given that they are not supposed to be ridden on main roads because they are so slow.

Once you pay your bail with the little bit of money you’ve saved up to try to get back on your feet, you’re back to zero again. Chances are you’ve lost your latest job because you missed a shift and didn’t call in (since you are in jail, after all).

You get a notice for property taxes, but you can’t pay it so you figure you’ll pay them when you pay everyone else. The government can’t take your house, you think, because it’s paid for and you own it free and clear.

You get another crappy job, and start riding a bicycle to and from work. You are stopped for not having a license on your bicycle, and for not wearing a helmet. More fines ensue, and they impound your bicycle.

You start walking back and forth to work, taking the only job you can find within walking distance, and everything seems okay until a cop shows up giving you legal documents saying your home has been sold for back taxes, and you have only a short period of time (usually 30 or 60 days) to “redeem” what is yours. What’s worse, it has been sold to a stranger for only the amount of the taxes.

Where do you get the money to buy your house back from the extortion agents? At that point your credit is destroyed, so you can’t borrow it.

In many cases, you don’t get the money. The government sells your house and you end up on the streets, with no choice but to depend upon the government to feed and shelter your children, since you lost the good job when your car was impounded, lost another job when the moped was seized and sold and you were arrested, lost your bicycle because it didn’t have tags on it, and eventually ended up having to take whatever crap job you can find where you can walk to and from work. By this time you owe the government thousands in fines, you’re working and supporting a family on minimum wage, and now – as if all that isn’t bad enough – you’re homeless.

The government wants it that way. The more people depend upon it for basic necessities, the more power it has over all of us. It is nothing but communism in action: the people own nothing, because the state has the power to take anything it wants without compensation.

There are many people, every single day, who have encountered these problems, thanks to the many government extortion programs. In fact, I know people who have had these specific problems, so I know for a fact that it can happen, and that it does happen all the time. The mainstream media doesn’t cover it, because to get many stories they must have the cooperation of the politicians who enacted and support these extortion programs. However, whether we see it on the news or not, it is so common that the only thing I find surprising about it, to be quite honest, is that to my knowledge no one has yet snapped and killed someone for stealing their home. You will notice that I said “yet”. It will eventually happen, of that I have no doubt. When it does, I certainly hope libertarians will stand up loud and clear in their defense. I know I will.

As libertarians, we spend a lot of time complaining about federal income taxes. That’s all well and good, but what we should be doing as well is working to stop this kind of rampant government extortion on the state, county, and local level, which destroys the lives of hardworking American families every single day.

If they want to charge taxes, fine; if the taxes get too high, eventually no one will live there, and they will have slit their own throats. However, we should never allow the government to steal property due to nonpayment of taxes, especially when those taxes are levied simply by virtue of owning the property in question. Extortion by force is always wrong, no matter who is doing it, and it must be stopped.

Another thing happens that has nothing to do with Ron Paul

In Economics, Social Security Administration, Socialism on May 20, 2007 at 2:32 am

We’ve got ten years left until Social Security implodes on itself.

Yep, we’re fucked. The Dems had best start finding their Jeffersonian spirit in a jiffy, because we can’t take any more socialism.

Israel realizes socialism doesn’t work

In Economics, Middle East, Socialism on April 30, 2007 at 6:35 pm

They put the kibosh on the kibbutzim.

When Israel’s oldest kibbutz, Degania, announced that it was giving up its socialist ideals and going private–members could own homes and earn salaries based on how hard they worked–few other than the kibbutzniks themselves were happy. For many Israelis, Degania was a symbol of rosier days, a Zionist idyll of honest work and camaraderie. But for those who called it home, the kibbutz had become an anachronism as rusty as the battered farm tools on display for tourists. Today, the younger generation of kibbutzniks pines for individualism. Tamara Gal-Sarai gazes out over the kibbutz lawn until her eyes settle on the blue-white shimmer of the Sea of Galilee. “The Israeli press blames us for killing their utopia,” she says. “It was as if we’d destroyed a national treasure.”

At the very least, this is an argument for volitarianism, for allowing any sort of thing so long as all actions are voluntary. When all actions are voluntary, transition is easier. They essentially switched their economy from a Soviet model to a capitalist one, but because everything was voluntary from the very beginning, it was far easier.

The Virtue of Trust

In Constitutional Rights, Economics, Nanny State, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Second Amendment, Socialism on April 19, 2007 at 8:01 pm

Here is some mental tobacco for you to chew on – “In order to flourish and survive, we must trust our fellow humans”. A trusting and open society is also a safer, healthier and flourishing society. Despite the fact that several of us may have jobs where we deal with people of poor quality, I believe that the population, as a whole is more worthy of trust than we are led to believe. You may be thinking that I am being too optimistic here, but please consider what I have to say.

When you drive, you are placing your trust in your fellow man. You expect people to follow the rules of the road and operate their vehicles in a safe manner. When you drive, not only are you are placing trust in your fellow humans; you are also placing trust in “the great unknown”. When traveling you are placing trust in your pilot, hotel staff, taxi driver, mechanics,concierge etc. Each time you dine at a restaurant or shop at a supermarket, you are placing trust in the providers of those goods and services. Think about all of the transactions you make on just a daily basis. Unless you are a hermit and are completely self-sufficient, you must rely on the goods and services of others. Read the rest of this entry »

Wake Up and Smell the Hysteria

In Environment, Global Warming, Science, Socialism on March 11, 2007 at 5:20 pm

I preface this by saying that I consider myself an environmentalist. I see crap in streams, smell what comes out the end of cars, and it annoys me. I also believe the free market to be the best solution to this. Then I see the crap spewing out of the faces of those who latch onto anything they can to justify their hate for development, growth, and freedom. This documentary is interesting and probably different from anything you’ve seen before on the subject, especially if you’re an anthropogenic global warming fence-sitter like me.

Because We’re The Government….And You’re Not

In Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Drug War, Economics, Humor, Libertarian, Media, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Republican, Socialism, Taxation, War on February 2, 2007 at 9:37 pm

by way of LP blog

Because We’re The Government….And You’re Not

In Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Drug War, Economics, Humor, Libertarian, Media, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Republican, Socialism, Taxation, War on February 2, 2007 at 9:37 pm

by way of LP blog

When Hillary Attacks

In Communism, Democracy, Democrats, Humor, Iran, Iraq War, Media, Middle East, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Socialism, Taxation, War on February 1, 2007 at 3:59 pm

posted by Justin Raimondo at blog

This video (hat tip: Lew Rockwell) is revealing in a number of different ways. First of all, it shows up Hillary Clinton for what she truly is: an opportunist who is only tenuously acquainted with the truth. She now claims that if she had known then what she knows now, she would never have voted for the war: but in this video, in which she meets with members of Code Pink, the antiwar women’s group, she downplays the “weapons of mass destruction” rationale for war, and emphasizes, instead, the brutality of Saddam’s dictatorship.

Secondly, I would note the unctuousness of Code Pink leader Medea Benjamin, who shamelessly kisses up to Hillary in her introduction, and even declares that she “knows you secretly agree with us” about the war. The fun begins when Hillary sternly disabuses Ms. Benjamin of this illusion, lecturing her about the absolute evil represented by Saddam’s Iraq, and reminding her of the Clintonian war against the Serbs, which, as all good liberals know, was a righteous war. Poor Medea — talk about having the rug pulledout from under you!

The best part is when one of the Code Pink women approaches Hillary, at the end, and tries to hand her a “pink slip” — some pink underpants of a decidedly delicate character. This is when Hillary bares her fangs, and lashes out: “I am the Senator from New York,” she intones, wagging her finger at the woman like a schoolmarm, “and if you think I’m going to endanger the security of my constituents you are very much mistaken!”

Wow! How telling that, when cornered, Hillary resorts to the Bushian “we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” argument — and so readily, almost instinctively.

Now that the war is unpopular, however, Hillary is trying to distance herself from her previous incarnation as a hawk. It won’t work — thanks to Youtube!

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Photos by Jim Bovard

Coffee Talk with a Compliant Brother

In Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Crime, Democracy, Drug War, Humor, Libertarian, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Republican, Socialism, War on January 26, 2007 at 4:10 pm

“Sometimes we should just accept things the way they have been and understand that we should sacrifice some of our personal liberties to benefit our nation and this war against terror”.

The paraphrased quote above came from my older brother earlier this new year as I sat down on his porch after a cozy cup of caffeinated coffee and taking hits from a social disease I suffer from called smoking. We were in a debate over the rantings of Keith Olberman directed at his attack on our current administration regarding the lifting of Habeas Corpus and the new founded state of dictatorship our current administration has enacted.

My brother was raised the same as I was, in a Reagan Republican household who thought the Republicans can do no wrong. Now the differences between us are found in our talents: He is a musician, and a damn good one at that. He can rip out lyrics and blur his hands on the neck of any guitar i have ever seen him on, all the while busting out cords that are more sonorous than I have to say the best of them. He would frequent clubs and studios throughout the greater Southern California and simply do what he does best, play. He took himself further than most who have no name and has played with names that went on to sell themselves out for a price, something he never did. I can play a stereo quite well.

Now my brothers argument regarding Habeas Corpus and the new dictatorial powers our current administration have is that their hands are tied to do anything necessary to stop some foreigner from blowing us up on our home soil. He believes that in order for us to continue down our path of freedom we should have to exercise our freedoms by giving some of them up, as did the Japanese Americans during WWII and the nation during the MacCarthy period. All of these we should take into consideration since 9/11.

Another point which he made was that we as a nation have not grown but declined in our way of thinking regarding searches and seizures, whether it be detained while the police search your valuables, your home or your person. His statement is one we have heard throughout the later half of the 20th century “if you’re not doing or hiding anything, whats the problem?”. He truly believes that our police should have the right to do as they please and pull over, walk into, browse and demand on site without a judge. He also feels that giving up these rights are justifiable and will not be abused. Yet he is a Reagan Republican through and through. Read the rest of this entry »

Well at least he’s honest.

In Democracy, Economics, Socialism, Taxation on January 22, 2007 at 10:19 am

Go to hell, gringos!

President Hugo Chavez returned to his weekly radio and TV broadcast Sunday, extolling the ideals of socialist thinker Karl Marx and telling U.S. officials to “Go to hell!” for what he called unacceptable meddling in Venezuela’s affairs.

Chavez defended his government’s effort to establish a socialist model and rejected U.S. concerns over a measure to grant him broad lawmaking powers, saying: “Go to hell, gringos! Go home!”

Score one for having balls big enough to be confused for flesh-colored beanbags. Scratch a couple for being a socialist douche. Wait, what’s that?

The National Assembly, controlled by the president’s political allies, is expected to give final approval this week to what it calls the “enabling law,” which would grant Chavez authority to pass a series of laws by decree during an 18-month period.

Oh, you’re passing an “enabling act”? Well gee golly willakers, where’ve I heard this before? And before someone cries about Godwin’s Law… the dude named it himself, and it follows basically the same lines as the original, so yeah.

So I’m not sure, but I think this pretty well means that you lose at politics, bucko. But look on the bright side-after the world undoes the damage you’ve done and your own country is embarrassed to have ever elected you to anything higher than dogcatcher, you’ll have a lot of lameass kids spraypainting your name all over the place and listening to really shitty metal that talks about you. Maybe some nutcase will talk about Venezuelan UFOs based in Antarctica, to boot.