Published last fall at Northern Illinois Liberty
I happened to be listening to NPR this morning, and heard an astounding speech from Obama on Saturday.
He said something like this, “You know, America has done this before. FDR heard the same thing when he introduced Social Security. They said it was socialist. They did. Verbatim.”
If this wasn’t my president, I’d laugh, it is so absurd. Obama says, Americans claimed Social Security was socialist [as if you couldn't tell by the name] and look, it is alright, isn’t it? Social Security isn’t socialist, right?
Then he goes on to say how when FDR wanted Social Security, when Medicare was created and now when Obama just wants to fix our health care system, the debate boils down to hope vs. fear. Apparently those of us who don’t want his change are just backwoods nobodies who are too stuck in our ways to progress into a new age.
I confess, he is partly right. It is about hope and fear. I am desperately hopeful that this health care plan doesn’t go through, and fearful that it might.
I guess in this new and wonderful advanced age, liberty is no longer an option.
Ideas are formally known as “the content of cognition” or the main thing of which you are thinking. That may be the dictionary (or technically the Wikipedia) definition, but for many of us, ideas are much more than that.
Ideas were a common theme in Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. From the Rally for the Republic he said, “Ideas spread, they cannot stop them. Ideas whose time has come cannot be stopped by any government or any army.”
I think an important difference between Ron Paul’s campaign, and the campaigns of other candidates, especially Obama’s, is that Ron Paul wasn’t trying to create a personality cult. I was a Ron Paul fan long before I watched any of his speeches, or actually saw him. I was excited about the ideas that he was spreading. I wasn’t thrilled over Ron Paul personally, but what he stood for.
So what is it about ideas? What makes them so powerful?
1) Ideas Unite
This too was a major theme of Ron Paul’s campaign. There were people from different races, different socio-economic backgrounds (that seems to be the politically correct term, “socio economic”), people who were life-long staunch Republicans, people who couldn’t stand the 2-party system, Libertarians, even, I daresay, some Democrats…all these people had one thing in common–they wanted liberty. They believed in the idea of individual liberty, of limited government, of free markets. Unlike Obama’s campaign, this was not a racially charged run. It had absolutely nothing to do with race, because all people, no matter what skin color, should be free. It had absolutely nothing to do with religion, because all people, no matter who they believe in, should be free. It had absolutely nothing to do with wealth, because all people, no matter how poverty-stricken or filthy rich, should be free. It had nothing to do with education because all people, no matter if they didn’t finish 8th grade, or have six degrees, should be free. That is the power of liberty. I know this personally. It has been a tremendous experience, walking beside so many different people in tea parties and rallies, and working C4L booths with various people, liberty unites and draws people together. I attended an Audit the Fed rally in Chicago this fall, it was a very inspiring event, especially for someone who is new to political activism, who hasn’t attended many rallies or big events. There were all sorts of people at that rally, and we all got along just fine and were drawn together because we all wanted liberty. The idea of liberty united us.
2) Ideas Inspire
I often think about what made me get politically active. It certainly was not the plea of any person that pushed me on. I didn’t see someone on TV, and decide I would go do something for them, because they “asked” me to. I convinced my family to make Tea Party signs and attend the April 14th Tea Party because of the ideas I believed in. And the idea of liberty keeps me going. This work can be very discouraging sometimes. Especially at times like this, when the House passed that huge healthcare bill, even after a summer of strong, and sometimes violent, townhall meetings. I start wondering, is all of this worth it? I’ve put enormous efforts into this work, I’ve sacrificed a lot of time to the cause, mostly because I am at a place in life when I have more time than people generally do. I’ve organized, I’ve planned, I’ve so much, and yet it seems like we aren’t getting anywhere. Maybe I should go back to being a silent observer, a quiet patriot. Is this worth it? And then I think of the world we’re trying to create. A world in which all people are free to pursue their dreams, make a business (and succeed, or fail at it), use their money any way they want, learn whatever they want, and do anything they want as long as they let everyone else do the same. Can you imagine a world where I wouldn’t have to ask permission from Our Father Who Art in D.C. every time I want to do something? I could put an addition on my house without having a government official come look at it, and without paying a hefty fee! I could decide I wanted to drive somewhere, without getting permission to drive a vehicle of transportation. I could start up a business selling cookies from my home, and if people didn’t trust that my home was clean and sanitary…well, I’d go out of business. I could buy and sell anything I wanted, without doing it “under the table” with fear of someone catching me. I could marry someone I loved without asking the government for permission. I could teach my children whatever I wanted, without asking permission.
Now, that’s an idea worth fighting for. That’s an idea I hope I would be willing to give up everything for. It is the one idea we can never give up.
This was first published in the fall of 2009 at Northern Illinois Liberty
This has been my first Veterans Day as an outspoken and staunch non-interventionist. I would conclude that this is not our favorite holiday. Non-interventionists are just not popular on Veterans Day, for obvious reasons. We are different, we stick out, we look just a bit crazy, maybe a little selfish, unpatriotic, oh well, I won’t go on. So what exactly is it about us? Why are we so dogmatic, and almost Scrooge-ish about Veterans Day?
I could say a lot to answer that, but I won’t. I just had a few thoughts on the subject, and thought I’d write it down.
All over the news day they are talking about the men and women who have given up their lives for America.
That sounds very good, sounds almost like something the Ministry of Peace might put out…okay, I’ll refrain from going there. I always end up quoting 1984, wonder why.
We are gravely told that these men and women have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, for our country.
Well, theoretically, if we wanted to be logically consistent,we should have a Jihadist Day too. I mean, there are men and women around the world who have given up their lives for their country, for their religion. What is the difference?
Yes, the Jihadists come over here and bomb our buildings and kill our citizens.
But do you think we don’t do that over in Iraq and Afghanistan? Let’s not be naive, of course we do.
Pardon me, if I am missing some crucial detail, but um…what is the difference between our troops over there, and the Muslims radicals over here?
And um, I hate to bring this up, but what happened to being a city on the hill? Setting an example for the world? As one author aptly put it, instead of being a city on a hill, we’re trying to “hillify” the world.
One more tiny objection…am I the only one in America with qualms about the current wars being unconstitutional? Does that not concern anyone else? The Constitution says that Congress must declare war, but in these cases, the president just did it.
So that’s why I am a non-interventionist, and while I admire those who give their lives, I admire the American military as much as any other group of people through out history who sacrificed their lives for something that they believed in.
That’s why I think we should go back to celebrating Armistice Day, and celebrate the end of war and the renewal of peace.
A Short Story by Savannah Liston
Excerpts published below, the whole will be published in serial throughout the next few weeks.
My name is Adele. But the other sisters call me Catherine. So I do not know who I am.
I crept to the bed and pulled myself up to the window again. The moon was shining brightly, and that helped to sooth my worry. I watched it shining on the cold ground until it moved beyond my sight. Then I lay down and cried myself to sleep.
Thus was my first day at St. Margaret’s Nunnery.
The streets were full of people shouting and crowding all over. I didn’t want to walk out into it, but it was too late to go back now. I took a deep breath and pushed my way through.
The stores were empty, the windows dirty and bare. Children ran around begging from everyone. I was frightened when they came near me, and at last I made them see I had no money or food either. Infants were crying from all over. The big houses were disheveled and crumbling. Most of the people I passed had a listless hollow look in their eyes.
As we walked out of the room I glanced back, through the window, and saw a woman reaching out the window of the burning house.
“You weren’t around to remember the Great War. It was horror beyond imagination. It was just a big fight between everyone. But we lost. The winners made us pay for everything. They made us give them our factories, our food, our money, they forced us to kneel down before them, like nasty sniveling little creatures begging for their lives. I watched everyone around us die.”
I felt heaviness in my heart. The weight squeezed out a tear, and I hastily brushed it away. I shall be a nun. There was leaden dullness left, as if what used to beat with energy and hope had now turned to stone. I felt prison doors being pulled closed, tighter, with each step I took. This was a life of dreary self-imprisonment. This was a life of utter despair and routine. It was safe, but the nunnery felt dead.
It was the man with the strange melancholy gaze who was making sounds.
“Are you alright?” I asked him.
“Do you ever feel a dull aching right about here?” He put his hand over his heart. “That is my ailment. What is your name, child?” He spoke so sadly, and so gently.
“Adele. I mean, Catherine.” I cursed myself for saying Adele; I didn’t know why that came out. I hadn’t called myself Adele for years, at least not out loud.
“Do you forget who you are?”He said with a queer smile. “You aren’t the only one.”
“My hatred destroyed their lives. Just as my parents were at home waiting for me, these soldiers had parents, perhaps wives and children eagerly awaiting news. They would be having a funeral soon. Because I hated, and did not stop myself. It was that night, as I lay in the dark, when I resolved to stop this foolishness, I would begin to love those who wronged me and my country.”
“There are battles to be fought, and I must help. You didn’t take the life vows; I asked one of the nuns once. So you are still free to come with me after this is all over. Here,” he drew something out of his pocket, “this will make it a more solemn promise.” He took my hand and put a small gold band on one of my fingers. “It was my mother’s. Now I can go away, and be sure that you will be here waiting for me.”
I felt a dull ache in my stomach, and said I was going to go lay down. By the time I laid down, the aching had grown greater, and it was in my heart. I was sick of thinking about Franz and life after the war. I thought about seeing Franz again…and dreaded it. I cried until my pillow was thoroughly damp. I cried with fear at what Franz would say, I cried because I was angry with myself for thinking I loved Franz, and I was enraged at Frederick for drawing the tears out of my heart.
Thus was the first day of sorrow after I became engaged to Franz.
Very interesting take on the global economy, what our government is doing, what they plan to do, and what’s going to happen, over at Bob Chapman’s The International Forecaster, read the article here.
I had the great privilege recently of attending an economics class at a local college with some of my friends. Very fascinating, a different way to do school, that’s for sure. Reminds me of Einstein, “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” But I’ll try to keep myself confined to only speaking about Keynesian economics, at least for now.
I met the teacher before the class, so we spoke for a few minutes. I had a chance to look around his office a bit. Didn’t see any Mises or Rothbard, but I glimpsed, “Macro Economics” by Ben Bernanke sitting on his desk. We got to talking about Ron Paul. He said the Ron Paul was an interesting person. I prodded him a bit, I wanted to know what he actually thought of Ron Paul, and why he wasn’t a Ron Paul fan. Turns out he thinks Dr. Paul is crazy for trying to go back to the gold standard, “and he has some problem with the Federal Reserve.” I pointed out that very few people know what the Fed is. He challenged that, and I said, “hey, I stood on a street corner in Chicago, a few blocks from the Fed, and asked people if they knew anything about the Fed, and most people didn’t have a clue.” I pointed out that we (C4L) believed that the Fed is responsible for the boom-and-bust cycle by their manipulation of the economy. He was impressed, I think, by my knowledge of economics, but not convinced. He mentioned that Milton Friedman is his hero, because of his stand for liberty. It seems that if you wanted to make a hero out of an economist because they stood for liberty, it would Von Mises. Von Mises stood up for liberty far more staunchly than Friedman did, Mises enduring some miserable years at the university in Vienna, and then coming to the US where no one appreciated his work or studies. I mentioned Von Mises to this teacher, and he said that there was a nice Von Mises website, so I laughed and said I visit it every day.
About the actual class. It was far more visually interesting than the classes I take, because usually my classes are audio recording, and there is nothing to look at but the blank computer screen. In this class there was a teacher walking back and forth, drawing on the board, and so forth. With that kind of action, 50 minutes is not long at all. He was talking about labor and labor value. The Value of the Marginal Product of Labor (VMP) is equal to the Marginal Product of Labor multiplied by the net price. Mostly review, quite familiar with the words and abbreviations, happily, as I was a bit concerned that the Austrians were so marginalized, they used a different set of symbols and abbreviations. But to my relief, there were the same demand/price/supply graphs and so forth as I’ve used before. I was a little confused at one point because he implied the Law of Diminishing Returns, but didn’t talk about it, or why it is true, so I wasn’t sure if he was going to cover it or not, but turns out they had already talked about it in a previous lecture. I would have liked to hear his explanation of the Law of Diminishing Returns, I suspect it is a bit different than our’s, but oh well. At least it is there. The most amusing part of the class? When the teacher confessed, “recessions just occur in our economy for unknown reasons and they cannot be avoided.” I think I was the only one who questioned the ability of this teacher to teach economics without being able to explain such a common recurrence in our economy, and I only questioned in my head. Doesn’t anyone else wonder why these teachers can’t understand why recessions happen? I mean, they might as well said, with Keynes, “it is caused by the animal spirits of the investors in the market.” I mean, talk about unscientific!
Okay, one more observation about their economics. There is far more math than I generally do in my economics; maybe that’s why I enjoy Austrian econ so much. These algebraic equations and so forth make no sense in the real world. How can you apply it in a meaningful and relevant way? The economy cannot be explained by algebraic phrases. I think this was a joke one of the Mises professors used: There was a drunk man searching the ground around a lamp pole. Someone came up and asked him what he was looking for. “My keys,” he said. “I dropped them.” And the person said, “but your car is way down the street, why are you looking here for your keys?” And the drunk replied, “because this is where the light is.” Suffice to say, I had to do a bit of explaining with this one to apply it to economics. The application is, Keynesians generally use more math in economics because that is what can be understand. They know how to deal with algebraic equations, because they follow a set of rules. But people are unique, and so the actions that they make are unique. They follow their own set of preferences and principles. Obviously, this makes it a bit more difficult to understand. And don’t misunderstand me, I am not comparing Keynesians to drunkards, I am sure there are some very nice people who are, sadly, Keynesians. And this teacher I met at this college was a very friendly and nice person, it is just we have a little different idea of economics. I don’t mean to insult or offend anyone, and this is not meant to be a personal diatribe against Keynesian teachers. Just a comparison of philosophies.
About the college, there was no individuality, no room for free thinking, for challenging the status quo, for thinking outside the box. I would far prefer to flip burgers at McDonald’s if my only other choice was to go to college. Thankfully, those aren’t my only options.
A fascinating article over at Lew Rockwell on the differences between Latin America and the United States.
Excerpts to whet your appetite:
People rarely race around at dangerous high speeds. They don’t delay either. Major collisions are much rarer than in the U.S. I lived for 5 years in a city of one million people that had no traffic lights or stop signs at the time. Traffic flow was very natural. Traffic would flow one way through an intersection until there was a natural lull and then the cars from the other direction would nose in and dominate the intersection until the flow eased in the new direction.
The doctors in Latin America don’t give you the angry obligatory lecture like the traffic cop fascist doctors in the US who make demands of you and level threats and accusations at you if you don’t comply with their “orders.”
Healthier diet and lifestyle: One of the first things you notice when you go out into the world in a Latin American country is that almost everybody is physically fit. Children and adults are not obese. They are not malnourished either. Why? They eat better and have a healthier lifestyle. They eat meats, vegetables, and fruits that they buy fresh and prepare simply. They eat instinctively based on what their bodies need – not based on a government “food pyramid” or FDA labels about salt and cholesterol.
Cars: There are more car choices to fit your needs. All kinds of interesting imported cars are seen throughout Latin America. Many small efficient cars and innovative trucks and specialty vehicles can be purchased that are the current state-of-the art for automakers. These cars are never seen in the U.S. because the foreign company has not paid the millions of dollars to undergo U.S. crash tests and DOT certification.
Read the complete article here.
Okay, perhaps it is a little early to say I am truly “vindicated” but that is certainly the way things are looking. Remember my recent post about Human Rights and the Gitmo Detainees? I said, “Once we start saying that some people don’t have the right to a speedy and public trial, we’re on a dangerous road. Don’t forget that only last spring most of these readers were labelled ”right-wing terrorists” in a MIAC report. So if the “regular” terrorists don’t have a right to a speedy and public trial, it is only a short step to denying right-wing terrorists their basic rights, and pretty soon all American citizens are being tried in kangaroo courts…”
And you thought I was crazy (well, maybe you didn’t, but that sounds better, you know)…and now look–the Supreme Court just ruled that any person that the President or his administration labels a “suspected enemy combatant” will no longer be considered a human. That’s right. “They will simply cease to exist as a legal entity.” And what scares me is that these “non-existent” persons are only suspected enemy combatants…nothing has been proven yet, but their rights are stripped from them. And don’t you think that the conservatives, the libertarians, the right-wing extremists of America are the true enemy of the government?
Anyways, if you don’t believe me, you can read the article here.
And I promise that I will not make a habit of vindicating myself and my opinions, because heaven help me if I sound even remotely similar to Rush Limbaugh.