Saturday, April 25, 2009

Beyond Open or Closed Borders

Should people be free to immigrate to our country without restriction? Should borders be "open"? Should people be barred from immigrating to our country who don't have anything to offer us? And should there be quota restrictions?

As a libertarian, I believe in freedom of travel, but I also believe in property rights. What I never considered before was just how property rights and free or "open" immigration may conflict. At least not until I read this article by Lawrence Vance. He explains that although people should be free to travel, they shouldn't be free to trespass on the property of others. He also makes other points against "open" borders having to due with the welfare state and other social programs. The introduction:
Human migration is an ancient, inevitable, and unstoppable global phenomenon. Yet immigration is an issue that divides both conservatives and libertarians. Some advocate a completely unhindered immigration policy ("open borders"), while others favor a total moratorium on immigration for a period of time. Most people are somewhere between these two extremes. Although there are many differences among people of all parties about the economic, political, social, and cultural advantages of immigration, there is one thing that all sides should agree on: there is no "right" to immigrate if it means trespassing on someone else’s property.

Some advocates of "open borders" just don’t seem to get it. It is bad enough that they insist, that the free market requires free immigration and that free trade and free migration go hand in hand. It is worse, however, when they imply that those who support some restrictions on immigration are racists, xenophobes, and bigots. I wish they would refrain from insinuating that any restriction on immigration is incompatible with laissez-faire capitalism.

I also want them to quit misrepresenting the views of their opponents. The opposite of "open borders" is not "closed borders." Libertarians who reject "open borders" are not "anti-immigrant" or "anti-immigration." No proponent of restrictions on immigration wants to close the borders and completely end immigration – no matter how much he is concerned about immigrant lack of assimilation and immigrant use of taxpayer paid health, education, and social services.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gun Control Proponents II

There was a comment left on the last post by the author of the blog Preparedness Pro that linked to an article she wrote about Gun-free Zones. It was a great article and can be found here. What I especially liked and was moved by was a video she included of a congressional testimony by a woman involved in a gunman's rampage with her family, and wanted to share it here (5m, 23s, Google Video):

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is Secession 'Anti-American'? III

In his latest column, Walter Williams explores whether or not believing in the right for a State to secede from the Union is treasonous, as has been claimed by some. The introduction:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry rattled cages when he suggested that Texans might at some point become so disgusted with Washington's gross violation of the U.S. Constitution that they would want to secede from the union. Political hustlers, their media allies and others, who have little understanding, are calling his remarks treasonous. Let's look at it.

When New York delegates met on July 26, 1788, their ratification document read, "That the Powers of Government may be resumed by the People, whensoever it shall become necessary to their Happiness; that every Power, Jurisdiction and right which is not by the said Constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States, or the departments of the government thereof, remains to the People of the several States, or to their respective State Governments to whom they may have granted the same."

On May 29, 1790, the Rhode Island delegates made a similar claim in their ratification document. "That the powers of government may be resumed by the people, whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness: That the rights of the States respectively to nominate and appoint all State Officers, and every other power, jurisdiction and right, which is not by the said constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States or to the departments of government thereof, remain to the people of the several states, or their respective State Governments to whom they may have granted the same."

On June 26, 1788, Virginia's elected delegates met to ratify the Constitution. In their ratification document, they said, "The People of Virginia declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will."

As demonstrated by the ratification documents of New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, they made it explicit that if the federal government perverted the delegated rights, they had the right to resume those rights. In fact, when the Union was being formed, where the states created the federal government, every state thought they had a right to secede otherwise there would not have been a Union.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gun Control Proponents

Great satirical (and true) video from a certain group of gun control proponents, criminals (2m, 35s, LiveLeak):

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is Secession 'Anti-American'? II

In my opinion, there really isn't anything more American than the principle and practice of secession. Think about it. Our country began through an act of secession. Our very claim to govern ourselves instead of by a foreign, central power was realized through the secession and eventual union of thirteen separate British colonies. This is important history as it demonstrates the founding principle of our nation, self-government. While Washington may be on the same continent as most American States, it's centrality is growing and could rightly be considered foreign by some. Here's Congressmen Ron Paul's response (4m 39s, YouTube) to Texas Governor Perry's recent secession comments:

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Left, The Right, & The State

I have completed this book by Llewellyn Rockwell and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a collection of essays over the last two decades that explore the points he makes in his introduction, of which I will re-print here:
In American political culture, and world political culture too, the divide concerns in what way the state’s power should be expanded. The left has a laundry list and the right does too. Both represent a grave threat to the only political position that is truly beneficial to the world and its inhabitants: liberty.

What is the state? It is the group within society that claims for itself the exclusive right to rule everyone under a special set of laws that permit it to do to others what everyone else is rightly prohibited from doing, namely aggressing against person and property.

Why would any society permit such a gang to enjoy an unchallenged legal privilege? Here is where ideology comes into play. The reality of the state is that it is a looting and killing machine. So why do so many people cheer for its expansion? Indeed, why do we tolerate its existence at all?

The very idea of the state is so implausible on its face that the state must wear an ideological garb as means of compelling popular support. Ancient states had one or two: they would protect you from enemies and/or they were ordained by the gods.

To greater and lesser extents, all modern states still employ these rationales, but the democratic state in the developed world is more complex. It uses a huge range of ideological rationales—parsed out between left and right—that reflect social and cultural priorities of niche groups, even when many of these rationales are contradictory.

The left wants the state to distribute wealth, to bring about equality, to rein in businesses, to give workers a boost, to provide for the poor, to protect the environment. I address many of these rationales in this book, with an eye toward particular topics in the news.

The right, on the other hand, wants the state to punish evil-doers, to boost the family, to subsidize upright ways of living, to create security against foreign enemies, to make the culture cohere, and to go to war to give ourselves a sense of national identity. I also address these rationales.

So how are these competing interests resolved? They log-roll and call it democracy. The left and right agree to let each other have their way, provided nothing is done to injure the interests of one or the other. The trick is to keep the balance. Who is in power is really about which way the log is rolling. And there you have the modern state in a nutshell.

Although it has ancestors in such regimes as Lincoln’s and Wilson’s, the genesis of the modern state is in the interwar period, when the idea of the laissez-faire society fell into disrepute—the result of the mistaken view that the free market brought us economic depression. So we had the New Deal, which was a democratic hybrid of socialism and fascism. The old liberals were nearly extinct.

The US then fought a war against the totalitarian state, allied to a totalitarian state, and the winner was leviathan itself. Our leviathan doesn’t always have a chief executive who struts around in a military costume, but he enjoys powers that Caesars of old would have envied. The total state today is more soothing and slick than it was in its interwar infancy, but it is no less opposed to the ideals advanced in these pages.

How much further would the state have advanced had Mises and Rothbard and many others not dedicated their lives to freedom? We must become the intellectual dissidents of our time, rejecting the demands for statism that come from the left and right. And we must advance a positive program of liberty, which is radical, fresh, and true as it ever was.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to Deal with Pirates (& Terrorists?)

Here's Congressman Ron Paul (5m, 35s, YouTube) on how to deal with piracy. He was a proponent of the same solution to deal with terrorists back after 9/11, and since we now have hindsight on just how far we've gotten in our search for bin Laden, his was probably the better course: (Hint: The solution is in the Constitution.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Salt Lake City Tea Party II

We were brave today and despite mother nature, we protested the federal government. I don't know how effective protesting is, and I'm certainly not one to believe that protesting is the most efficient way of bringing about change, but I found value in going as it provided a receptive place for me to pass out literature on the Austrian school of economics. "Why Austrian Economics Matters" by the Mises Institute to be exact.

A friend and I bought 150 pamphlets and passed them out in about 15 minutes. They went like hot-cakes. Only one person, after asking what it was and I explained how the Austrian school has shown the Fed to be the main cause for the business cycle, decided he didn't like it and gave it back. Everyone else was reaching for it as I yelled out "Learn Austrian Economics!" and "Ron Paul is a student of the Austrian school of economics!". I only wish I had a thousand or two. But hopefully what I did have will encourage someone to study up on good economic theory. I also had a label on the back with the Mises Institute's website and this blog's address. Hope they visit! Here's the pictures of us freezing our buns off (yes, that's me holding the End the Fed sign with my eyes closed, not on purpose, but I'm sure you were distracted by my beautiful wife there to my left):

SLC Tea Party

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Bailout Reader

The Mises Institute has created a fantastic resource on our current economic woes called the Bailout Reader that gives you everything you need to know about the economic/political cause and effect of it all. Everything is organized into these nine sections:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
The Housing Bubble
Inflationary Finance
Community Reinvestment Act
Short Selling
The Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle
Who Predicted This?
What to Do
Books to Distribute

I've added this to my Suggested Reading section at the top of this blog.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Bailouts/Stimulus in Perspective

This is a fantastic video by Reason.tv (2m, 44s, YouTube) that puts all of the money our benevolent federal government is pouring into bailouts and stimulus packages into perspective. It compares it to World War I, the New Deal, World War II, and the Iraq War, plus a few other federal projects over the last century. It's absolutely insane how much money the federal government is taxing, borrowing, and inflating in order to fund these projects. On top of that, at the end of the video, take their final number and multiply it by 9 to understand how much of an unfunded liability Social Security and Medicare are.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What is Morally Right About Economic Freedom

This is a great lecture by the Rabbi Daniel Lapin at the recent Austrian Scholars Conference, held at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama. He explores, in a very lively and entertaining way (he is Jewish, after all) what is morally right about economic freedom. That to exchange and make money is virtuous, and uses Judeo-Christian principles to make his point. It's about an hour long (including an introduction for the conference and for the rabbi by Joseph Salerno) but well worth it. As I said, it was very lively and entertaining, and for me, enlightening. (Embedded below, can be found here via YouTube.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

End the War on Drugs III

Anonymous posted a reply to mine of his:

Skyler, you in NO WAY can claim that the views you hold "are in every particular the views of those men that established the foundation of the most prosperous nation in the history of the world, the Constitution." This is simply not the case. Your views on the constitution are so radical the Founding Fathers would be rolling in their graves if we were to abide by certain principles you hold.

[I'm not sure what version of history you heard but, yes, the Founding Fathers of the United States were libertarians and were radicals. Conservative (true meaning) radicals who believed in self-ownership and self-government, to be exact. This is indisputable and any perusing of the biographies of their lives and their first-hand accounts of what they believed about government will prove my point. For your benefit and the benefit of the rest of my readers, here's a few, telling quotes:
"Any people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept alive." - Thomas Jefferson

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." – George Washington

"Resistance to tyranny is service to God." – James Madison

"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." – Patrick Henry
As you can see, with just a small sampling, the Founding Fathers were wisely distrustful of government and so established a Constitution to bind it down. Unfortunately, as Thomas Jefferson predicted, the natural course of the history of America has been a yielding of liberty as government has gained ground. The Constitution may well as not exist because it certainly is no obstacle for our "rulers" today.]


No, the people who run the government are far from perfect. But to say that you are aligning yourself with true and correct principles is bogus. Your view of self-ownership is nothing more than a selfish sense of entitlemet. Entitlement is NOT in lines with truth. And that is what you preach. You preach entitlement. "What's mine is mine. I won't work for anyone but myself. Any help given to an individual by the government or others is simply a way to make people lazy and take away others rights." Ridiculous.

[I'm not sure how you transformed the principle of self-ownership into a selfish sense of entitlement. Entitlement is believing that the world owes me something and that I deserve, sans merit, to be blessed. Nothing could be further than what the principle of self-ownership is about. Self-ownership is nothing more than the principle that I alone own my person, those faculties that extend from that person, and that production that extends from those faculties. It's not about entitlement. It's about ownership. Irrelevant in a free society is whether or not my God has purchased me through his sacrifice. In a free society, everyone owns themselves. If they don't, then who does? Am I equal parts owned by everyone else in the world? Preposterous! Obviously. You also seem to misunderstand that voluntary trade benefits both parties of a transaction. If it didn't, it wouldn't happen. The best way to make money and create prosperity is to have it as your primary focus to serve mankind and make others better off. That's what trade does.]

There is going to come a time when you discover that what is yours most certainly is not, and if I were in your shoes, that would make life miserable. Come on man. You hold such a double standard its sad.

[Double-standard? Do explain. The only double-standard I see among those whose chief aim is not advancing the cause of liberty, is their ignorance of where the prosperity they enjoy comes from. It wasn't created by government, but rather free individuals acting in regards to their own interests, without force, which is the foundation of the state.]

Monday, April 6, 2009

End the War on Drugs II

Anonymous posted a comment I'd like to address. My response is in bold brackets:

Are you kidding me? What a joke Skyler. Your principles of self-ownership are ridiculous.

[You can deny your self-ownership all you want, but by what right do you have to deny me mine?]

What you propose is nothing sort of borderline anarchy. There must be laws. Just because somebody wants to buy sell and use drugs, does not mean they have a "right" too. Heck, as far as I'm concerned, they should make tobacco illegal.

[I don't disagree that drugs, be it marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol are indeed public nuisances, but after doing a cost/benefit analysis to their criminalization, both logic and history is on my side that the War on Drugs has failed. Fortunately for me, I also believe in freedom. Again, you can deny your self-ownership all you want, but you, or any one else, have no right to deny me mine.]

I should be able to walk outside my place of employment without having to take in a big wiff of smoke just because somebody else wants to stand by a trash can and smoke. Oh, but, hey, we own ourselves, so they can smoke all they want.

[Where you work is up to you. Your employment with your employer at their place of business is voluntary. You have a choice, make it.]

Whatever. I don't own myself. You don't own yourself either. You are not your own. I am not my own. We are indebted to One greater than ourselves. We are all beggars. That's all there is to it.

[I agree that spiritually, we've been bought. But as far as this physical universe is concerned, I own myself, and regardless of what I believe spiritually, I don't have a right to force those beliefs on anyone else.]

The only people worried about government expansion are those who are ignorant, those who are not willing to work within the system, like yourself.

[I'm worried about government expansion because the more government expands, the worse-off everyone is. I believe that freedom works because I've seen it work, but also because its morally superior. I believe I'll be held accountable for my beliefs and so it's important for me to understand and align myself with true and correct principles. I believe that is what I'm accomplishing, and use everyday to expand my knowledge of how things work. If I found that something I've held is false, I'll abandon it and align myself with truth. That is my goal, and thus far, my search for truth has led me to freedom.]

Heck, you voted for yourself, and despite what you claim, you really have to right to complain. Of course, you have your freedom of the speech, and freedom of the press, so say what you will. I just say, once again, thank goodness your views will have no lasting influence.

[The views I hold are in every particular the views of those men that established the foundation of the most prosperous nation in the history of the world, the Constitution. I don't believe it a perfect document, but I believe the principles of limited government and the protection of natural rights were inspired of One greater than ourselves. In the words of Auberon Herbert, "By what right do men exercise power over each other?" Can you answer that for me?]

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Salt Lake City Tea Party

Are you tired of the Federal government reaching into your pockets and your retirement accounts and stealing from you through direct taxation and counterfeit inflation of our fiat money supply? Are you you tired of the Federal government breaking free of its Constitutional chains and growing ever bigger towards Leviathan and totalitarianism? Then read up!

Salt Lake City is having a tea party! To protest the growing size and scope of the federal government, Salt Lake City will be having a Tax Day tea party protest at the downtown Federal building. My wife, son, and I will be there, protest signage and all. The specs:

When: Wednesday, April 15, 2009, Noon ~ 3pm *
Where: 125 So. State Street, Salt Lake City
Speakers: Federal Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, Activist and Author Candace Salima

* Click here to find protest information for Provo, Utah and St. George, Utah.