Who Says Libertarians are Against Gun Control??

Ron Paul has it right.  When it comes to disarming an entire group of people, let’s start and end with federal agents who use violence to enforce unconstitutional laws and infringe upon human liberty.

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The Real Libertarian

Because consistent libertarians take often politically incorrect or unpopular stances on controversial issues, they are prone to be presented as heartless wackos who care nothing of the well-being of others.  The libertarian philosophy, on the other hand, was never meant to provide a moral framework for private behavior.  Instead, its premise is based upon the importance of the Non-Aggression Principle as the basis of any interpersonal interaction.  Stated simply, the use of force upon another individual or group of people is only justified in the face of aggression.

At LewRockwell.com Laurence Vance explained the obviously apparent disconnect that exists between progressives and their perception of libertarians.  The Daily Kos has undertaken this simple-minded understanding and laid out an article arguing why progressives should “reject libertarianism”.  In summary, the article misrepresents the libertarian philosophy at every turn and stated the following:

  1. Libertarian values are repellent – Libertarianism celebrates greed and selfishness.
  2. Libertarianism is intellectually myopic – Libertarians cherish freedom above all, but their concept of freedom is constricted and myopic.
  3. Libertarianism is utopian – An active state is a universal feature of advanced societies.
  4. Libertarianism is politically hopeless – You might well agree with me on the three preceding points but still feel that libertarianism has to be reckoned with politically.

Vance contrasts this strawman representation of the libertarian philosophy with that presented by the Future of Freedom Foundation’s Jacob Hornberger.  Hornberger explains how the libertarian philosophy underlies the basis of any truly free society: one in which people are free to “engage in any peaceful behavior whatsoever, no matter how irresponsible, dangerous, or self-destructive”, so long as it does not infringe up someone else’s rights.  There is no inherent necessity for someone subscribing to this principle to be greedy, selfish, or have no concern for others.  People who adhere to any other political philosophy may have just as easy a time exhibiting those traits.  

To live in a truly moral and just society, interaction between individuals cannot be based on coercion or the threat of its use.  There is nothing “repellent” of this value.  There is nothing  in that statement which forces someone to “cherish freedom above all.”  One would hope to live in a world where such a statement is not seen as “utopian”.   And above all, this philosophy is not “politically hopeless”, at least not in the long run.  The trend toward centralization and collectivization is not on a one way street.  From the authoritarian rulers of ancient kingdoms, to the decentralization of the “Dark Ages”; from the absolutism of European Monarchs, to the success of the early American experiment; from the mass murdering totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century, to the recent successes of Ron Paul and the rise of the modern libertarian movement; the political strength of human freedom and constrained government has ebbed and flowed.  The education and celebration of this philosophy can change hearts and inspire action.

As Laurence Vance concluded in his article, “libertarianism celebrates liberty, property, peace, laissez faire, anything that’s peaceful, individual responsibility, free markets, free thought, a free society, and the absence of government attempts to do violence to these things in the name of social justice, correcting inequality, or promoting fairness.”

Such a philosophy as this is needed now as much as ever. 

LOL–Roots of Chicago’s Gun Violence Exposed

The out of control gun violence in Rahm Emanuel’s kingdom could never be the consequences of a deteriorating social structure, the strictest gun control laws in the country, or the disastrous decades-long War on Drugs. Of course not.  Such thoughts are preposterous!

Liberal commentators have been willing to give their own evaluation of the city’s crime problems.

  1. Christine Hefner of the Center for American Progress placed the blame for the out of control murder rates on climate change.  Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, when asked to explain why the 2013 murder rate was already outpacing the record setting year of 2012 she stated:

    “Now there are contributing factors that are not under anybody’s control and may seem odd, but it is factually true. One of them is actually the weather — there is a dramatic increase in gun violence when it is warmer and we are having this climate change effect that is driving that,”

  2. Democratic strategist, Robert Zimmerman, placed the blame for Chicago’s gun violence on the GOP and sequestration.  The Republican’s insistence on spending cuts (and the fantasy belief that they will go through with the sequester), he claims,

“undermines law enforcement in our cities; it undermines so many education opportunities for our younger people and it does in fact create an impoverished class of our society that leads to abuse, leads to violence and leads to more Chicagos.”

I’m not sure any more words needed to be said other than it should be blatantly clear that no one has the desire to actually address or even acknowledge any of the causes this country faces.

Austrians are a Cult!

…proclaims a Keynesian economist in an obviously well-researched, articulate, and comprehensive argument.

Keynesian economist, Joe Weisenthal went on the attack today against Austrian economists calling them a “cult” because they “invented their own language”.  In a series of Twitter posts (the forum for all constructive economic debate) Weisenthal tweeted

People who call Austrian economics a cult often miss the most compelling evidence: That Austrians have invented their own language.
— Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) February 20, 2013

and…

For example, Austrians define inflation totally differently than real economists. mises.org/easier/I.asp#16
— Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) February 20, 2013

(The definition as stated by the Mises Institute is “In popular nonscientific usage, a large increase in the quantity of money in the broader sense (q.v.) which results in a drop in the purchasing power of the monetary unit, falsifies economic calculation and impairs the value of accounting as a means of appraising profits and losses.”)

 There are a few things to note here:

 First, the claim that defining inflation as an increase in the supply of money is an Austrian-created view is flat out wrong.  Until only several decades ago, in fact, Webster’s dictionary defined inflation as “An increase in the amount of currency in circulation…”.  It is a fairly recent phenomena for mainstream economists to associate inflation solely with the increase of prices (a consequence of inflation in the traditional definition).

Secondly, even if a word was created it does not follow that this is ‘cultish’ behavior.  Weisenthal would later criticize Mises for the use of terms such as ‘catallactics’ (a theory of exchange ratios and prices) and ‘praxeology’ (the science of human action).  While it is true that Mises was the first to use these words, he did so only to describe existing phenomena that could be deducted by logic.  Creating words to describe things we all experience is nothing new.  The concept of gravity existed and was experienced from the beginning of time.  There was nothing abnormal or cultish for Issac Newton to use the word  ‘gravity’ to describe it.  As we attempt to better understand the world around us, new words are needed to refer to different concepts.

Because of this, Austrians are not the only ones in economics who have “invented their own language”.  Mainstream economists are now consistently referring to quantitative easing or liquidity traps or aggregate demand or liquidity preference.  

Thirdly, whenever the terminology changed for the now mainstream use of the word ‘inflation’ is irrelevant.  Austrian economics refers clearly to ‘inflation’ (an increase in the monetary supply) and ‘price inflation’ (an increase in prices).  There is no attempt to mislead or deceive.  The concept of an increase in the monetary supply is a critical component of the Austrian Business Cycle Theory.  It doesn’t matter what this occurrence is called (Keynesians can refer to it as kerphlumkination or something if they really want to).  The fact is, ABCT points to this increase in money supply as the central driver for the misallocation of resources across various sectors of the economy and across time.    

The attack by Weisenthal is nonsensical and attempts only to de-legitimize the fastest growing school of economic thought.

(Robert Wenzel takes Weisenthal down in good fashion).  

Ron Paul: Not Letting Up

Ron Paul recently appeared on a radio program hosted by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West and gave a remarkable performance.  It should be clear from his tone and energy that life outside of the House is not going to cart Ron away into the world of obscurity.  Ron has long criticized compromising on your principles to achieve a political gain, but he shows in this interview how it is possible to reach out to those across the political spectrum and come to a common goal without giving up an ounce of what he believes.  The preservation of civil liberties is the necessary bedrock for a free society, and coalitions among people like these is a step in the right direction.

In other Ron Paul news, he will soon begin hosting daily radio commentaries, launch a foreign policy institute, and release an education manifesto covering the history of schooling in the U.S. and the importance of freedom of choice in education. 

And who said he was retiring again??

The Myth of Health “Insurance”

There is no health insurance in the United States today; at least not any that maintains any real connection to what is meant by ‘insurance’.  As Obama’s healthcare overhaul begins to be implemented, there continues to be praise for its extension of health insurance to everyone.  Setting aside the dubious constitutionality of the law itself, there remains little evidence that access to health insurance has any meaningful correlation to positive health results.  Hospitals and emergency rooms treat people with life threatening diseases or injuries regardless of health insurance.  In fact, many emergencies and hospitals actually find it more cost effective to treat patients without insurance rather than deal with all of the regulatory hassles and bureaucratic red tape of Medicaid enrollment and reimbursement procedures.

Aside from this however, the idea that we have ‘insurance’ in the healthcare market is false.    What we have is simply pre-paid medical care.

The difference is not negligible and is important in understanding why the Affordable Care Act is going to anything but make healthcare more affordable.  Insurance deals with protecting against a possible costly, yet unlikely, life-altering event.  Insurance protects against the risk of an unpredictable outcome, not something that you know you will experience in the near future.  Think of auto insurance or home owners insurance.  You buy these types of insurance to protect yourself against the rare, yet costly, likelihood that you wreck your car or your house burns down.  You don’t, however, purchase them to cover the cost of an oil change or a heavy dusting of the family room.  It is obvious that these are not insurable events because they are predictable and/or planned.  If those events were to be included in our auto or home owner insurance we would most certainly expect the premiums we pay to be significantly higher to cover the expenses of these near-certain events.

Unfortunately, such common sense does not exist when it comes to the market for healthcare.  When we speak of health insurance almost all plans cover predictable or preventative medical care.  Insurance that covers things like preventative screenings or annual checkups destroys the very nature of what insurance is meant to do.  Compounding the problem, when these services are offered with no out of pocket fees, people are incentivized to take advantage of them.  When it is known for sure that patients will undergo various screenings or checkups, insurance companies will increase the premiums paid to cover these costs.    

These increased premiums, besides costing consumers more money out of their paycheck, also have adverse effects within the healthcare market.  Because patients know that the the money they paid for their ‘insurance’ entitles them to various services, people are much more likely to utilize them.  This increase in demand will consequently lead to rising costs, leading to a vicious cycle of perpetually increasing demand and prices.

Understanding that there is no such thing as genuine health insurance in the United States is an important first step to curbing costs.  Pre-paid medical care is not the same thing as insurance, and its adverse effects have filtrated throughout the entire system.  Just like in any market, a legitimate price system is essential for allocating goods and services to their most highly valued ends.  Just like any subsidy, the current pre-paid system of health ‘insurance’ severely damages the ability for this system to function, resulting in higher prices and a misallocation of resources.  Freeing the market from the decades of price and product intervention is not a one-step solution, but if we ever wish to address the problems of rising healthcare costs understanding how insurance functions and realizing the importance of a free price system are essential first steps.

From One Manufactured Crisis to Another

From the debt ceiling debates to the fiscal cliff, the government has made a habit of setting arbitrary deadlines, causing widespread panic among political punditry, and then sweeping to the rescue in some grandiose “compromise” that solves all our problems…until they do it all again.  The issue of the sequester is a prime example of this gameplan, with an added twist: we also get to see the president take two diametrically opposed positions.  

As a general history, the sequester emerged from the summer of 2011’s debt ceiling debate.  As a compromise to raising the debt ceiling, a super committee of senators was created and charged with ‘cutting’ (ie. reducing the rate of increase by) $1.2 trillion in spending over ten years.  If the super committee failed to agree to any cuts automatic spending cuts–aka, sequestration– of $1 trillion (also a reduction in the rate of increase and not a real cut) would automatically be put in place.  Well, the agreement never occurred and the $1 trillion in the reduced rate of increase were put in to place.  These cuts were delayed by two months at the end of December when Congress “saved us” with the fiscal cliff deal, thus setting up the “catastrophe” that awaits us at the end of this month.  

The idea of sequestration was signed into law and praised by Obama at the time.  In fact, he publicly opposed any attempts to undue the automatic cuts that were to come.  In November 2011 he stated

“There will be no easy off ramps on this one…The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.”

 It’s funny how time changes things.

In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Obama had this to say about the sequestration cuts:

In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars’ worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year. These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education, energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. That’s why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as “the sequester,” are a really bad idea.

First off, it is interesting that he places the blame for sequestration on Congress claiming that they passed a law.  Yes, that is true…Congress does pass the laws…But who is it again that is required to sign the law before it goes into effect?

Secondly, how is it that a president can take two diametrically opposed stances on the same exact topic and not hear one bit of criticism.  This new position on opposing spending cuts is, of course, not new.  It was the facade that he would actually support cutting spending that was out of character.  

There is no new lesson here, I suppose; just another reminder of the two-face hypocrites and contrived-crisis-averters that plague Washington.