My Own Pie

Libertarian Thoughts from Renaissance Guy

Archive for November 2009

Why Run From Freedom?

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     Why are so many people scared to embrace freedom?  I think that there are many reasons, but the one that stands out among my guesses is this:  freedom brings with it more responsibility than most people can face.

     With freedom comes a need to care for oneself and to care for the people that one is responsible for.  It is possible to succeed hugely, but it is also possible to fail hugely. 

     Nobody wants to fail.  Nobody hopes to fail.  But sometimes it happens.

     I think people are afraid of freedom, because if they are free and if they fail, then they can blame nobody but themselves.  They have to admit that it was their own choices that brought about their failure.  They cannot blame “the government” or “society.”

     And they must resort to asking others for help.

     It is much easier to live with a “safety net” in which you force others to agree to support you in case you fail.  You force strangers to support you because it is easier than swallowing your pride to ask for help from people who know you–your own family, friends, associates, and community members.

     And if you do succeed financially, it is much easier to live with the false sense of guilt for being rich if you can say, “I pay my taxes.  I do my part.”  It keeps you from having to actually choose whether to give up your precious mammon to help others out or to remain greedy and stingy.  It even allows you to ignore your own family members and, if you have any, friends, because it’s “the government’s job” to take crare of them–not yours.

     Yes, freedom and responsibility go hand in hand.  I am happy to say that I am one of the few is willing to accept both freedom and the responsibility that goes with it.  How about you?

Written by ambrosianideas

November 24, 2009 at 2:39 pm

The Night Before Christmas, Libertarian Style

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This is an atempt at humor.

———————————————–

A Libertarian Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,

But if he had stirred through the house that night,

It would have been his God-given right.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there,

And since he is a hard-working man,

Saint Nicholas would come, according to plan.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads–

Sugar plums subject to high taxation

And intrusive government regulation.

Mamma in her kerchief and I in my cap

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.

Our assets were safely invested in gold,

And so we slept soundly in spite of the cold.

Out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was them matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutter and threw up the sash.

I took my Colt-45 just in case

A robber was trying to ransack my place.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave a luster of midday to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer

With a little old driver so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.

I wondered if he had a permit to fly

With those eight tiny reindeer across the night sky,

And if he had to pay duty on all

Those toys that he brought to our humble hall

. . . . . .

As I drew in my head and was turning around,

Down the chimney Saint Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

I wondered what PETA would think of his coat,

Or if sliding down chimneys would get OSHA’s goat,

Or since he hired only elves and no gnomes,

If the EEOC’s mouths would foam.

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack–

Peddlars who supposedly should not gain

From their steadfast daily toil and pain,

For this weighty problem, the statists’ solution

Is coercive income redistribution.

———-

Santa spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk.

And laying a finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He rose the way the stock prices should

In a truly free market, which would be so good.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,

But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight,

Happy Winter Holiday to all, and to all a good-night!

No, he didn’t say that, despite lots of flak.

He said, Merry Christmas, and I said it back.

Written by ambrosianideas

November 21, 2009 at 12:52 pm

The Government and Breast Cancer

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     Confusion and uproar are the order of the day in regard to breast cancer screeing.  The American Cancer Society says that women should get regular mammograms starting at age 40.  A panel called the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force put out a recommendation that women stop getting mammograms that early, saying that they do not have to start until age 50.  After huge outcries from a concerned public, Kathy Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, says that women should continue to get the test in their forties, and assures the public that women on government assistance will still be able to have mammograms before age 50.

     It’s her task force, for goodness’ sake.  Either she backs their findings, or the whole exercise was one big waste of time and taxpayer money.  Or is this how we “create” jobs now–by commissioning a panel to make recommendations that are harmful and that end up being ignored?

     The fundamental question, though, is why the government should determine when and how often medical tests should be performed.  Shouldn’t doctors and patients make that decision?  How does a government know if a woman, a particular woman, should have a mammogram at age 40 or age 45 or age 50?  It should be based on the woman’s family history, personal history, and level of risk acceptance.  Doctors should help a woman make that determination based on what they were taught in medical school and what the medical journals tell them, based on scientific research.  The woman should consider how much risk she is or is not willing to take, and how much she is willing to spend on preventative care.

     My sister died of breast cancer before age 40.  One of her best friends seems to have beaten it–before age 40.  She and other cancer survivors are outraged at the new recommendations.  If women get breast cancer even before age 40, then it does not seem that 40 is too young an age to start checking for it.

     Could it be that the panel wants to help the government save money?  All those women getting mammograms at Uncle Sam’s expense are sure costing a lot.  Maybe some of them will go ahead and die of breast cancer before age 50, and that will save even more money, since those women will not be getting mammograms after they are dead.

     That’s why the government should not be involved in breast cancer or any other medical problem.  You should not treat people as statistics.  You should not promise free, universal health care and then do cost-benefit analyses to determine who gets tests and who doesn’t and to determine ways to save money by letting people get deadly illnesses. 

     Women die of breast cancer.  The government should not be the entity responsible either for preventing or contributing to their deaths.  It’s ultimately up to each woman, in consultation with her doctor, to make those decisions.

Written by ambrosianideas

November 18, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Posted in Miscellaneous

Tagged with ,

The Myth of Society

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     Long ago the people of the world were tired of taking the blame for everything bad that happened to them. They asked the Great Sky Father and the Great Earth Mother to give them a god that could be blamed instead.  The Sky and the Earth did what fathers and mothers do, and they gave the world. . .Society.

     If somebody committed a crime, the people could say, “It’s not his fault.  It’s the fault of Society, because Society drove him to commit the crime.

     If somebody noticed a problem, such as people fighting with each other, he would say, “Society should do something about that.  Really!”

     Nothing much got done, and crimes grew increasingly common.

     Time rolled on, as time always does, and eventually a very wise man arose among the people, seemingly out of nowhere.  “There’s no such thing as Society,” he proclaimed.  “Society is people.  You are Society, and I am Society. ”

     “If people are fighting, then you  have to do something about it, or I have to do something about it.  No entity called Society can do anything about it.  In fact, the best thing of all would be for the people who are fighting to realize that it is bad and just stop.

     It’s their fault after all.  There’s no such being as Society that can override people’s wills.  People are sovereign.  They have volition.  They can do whatever the want regardless of what others do or what others say.  To say that somebody else should be blamed for bad actions is actually belittling the person involved.  It strips that person of his humanity if he is under the control of some other entity.”

     The people listened.  As individuals began taking responsibility for themselves and for their own words and actions, an amazing thing happened.  The god called Society became more and more transparent–like a vapor.  As people began to solve their problems instead of waiting for Society to solve them, the god grew so transparent that he disappeared completely.

     Then things got done, because people were doing them.  Crime rates dropped, because people knew that they would be held responsible for the bad things that they did.

     The world is much better off with people than with Society.

Written by ambrosianideas

November 12, 2009 at 11:46 am

Another Obstacle–Drugs

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     As I grew up, my parents and my teachers were careful to warn me about the dangers of drugs.  I assumed that they were right about the need to keep certain drugs illegal and to put people in prison for using them and for selling them.

     Because I went along with that approach to drugs, I could not align myself with the Libertarian Party or even call myself a libertarian.  One of my turning points came when William F. Buckley, arch-conservative and one of my heroes, changed his mind.  I began to look at the issue a lot more deeply and a lot more seriously. 

     While I don’t want to see the United States of America become one giant hippie commune with everyone high all the time and billows of marijuana smoke floating over the countryside, I have decided that people should have the freedom to use marijuana (and perhaps other drugs) in the same way that they are free to use tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine.

     The War on Drugs, as it is called, is a stupid war and nobody is winning.  It is not actually preventing people from using drugs and it is actually fostering certain crimes that would probably cease to exist if we just made certain drugs legal to purchase and use.  The laws against marijuana certainly lead to more death than its recreational use does.  And lots of young people, especially black people, are in prison for nonviolent offenses.  That’s sad, and I believe that it is wrong.

     None of this means that I, or other libertarians, think that drug use is a good idea or that we do it ourselves.  I certainly never have. 

     It means that a thoughtful consideration of the problem of drugs and drug use leads me and others to the conclusion that we are better off letting individuals make their own choices and letting them suffer the consequences of those choices.  The law, in my opinion anyway, should step in when a particular drug-related action harms somebody else, but as long as people are harming only themselves (if they are doing so when they use certain drugs), then it should not be the state’s concern. 

     Worse yet, the state should not be locking people up who simply wanted to try out a new experience or who made the mistake of succumbing to peer pressure–locking them up with the result that they become hardened criminals in prison.  It’s an insane approach to take.  It is based on emotion rather than good sense.

     I knew that if I ever decided to become a Libertarian, I would have to make up my mind on this issue once and for all.  I knew that I would have to accept this aspect of the Libertarian platform.  I have, and I hope that you will consider it, too.

Written by ambrosianideas

November 4, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Libertarian Party, Libertarianism

Tagged with

An Answer for Scott Erb

with one comment

     Commenter Scott Erb recently brought up the idea that people do not earn their money in isolation but depend upon the benefits of the state in order to earn it. 

     Scott wrote:  “They are able to make that amount of money because of an infrastructure provided by the state, because of a court system that protects investments and contracts, because of an education system that creates skilled workers, and a whole myriad of different things paid for collectively.”

     Here are three things to consider: 

     First, the most glaring problem with your reasoning is that all those things were paid for by the people who benefit from them, especially the wealthy citizens.  Since the poor are paying no tax, and the middle class are paying relatively little, it falls to the wealthy to pay for those things through the heavy taxation forced upon them.  They paid for them, so they should benefit from them.  As you well know, there is no magic money-making machine in Washington, D. C., that the state can use to fund these things.  

     Second, without people earning money, none of those things could ever have existed.  The state would have no resources for financing them.  Therefore, the situation is the reverse of how you paint it.  The government depends upon wage earners, businessmen, and investors in order to have revenue for those projects.  

     Third, many Libertarians would rather the state did not pay for most of those things.   They know that private companies and individuals could do a more efficient job of providing some, most, or even all of them.  (Which, would result in more employment, also.)   However, as long as the state is sponsoring those things, people should take advantage of them–especially the people whose taxes paid for them.

     Scott also wrote, “Moreover, a stable monetary system is necessary, which is done through federal reserve notes (dollars) that are trusted world wide. ”

     People would have even more trust in a dollar whose value was continually increasing as wealth is produced by the people of our country.

     Scott also wrote, “Frankly, I think people would earn far, far less even with no taxes if they gave up what taxes provide, especially if they gave up using the federal reserve notes. ”

     Are you suggesting that if the state did not build roads, people would just do without them?  If the state did not operate schools, people would just let their kids grow up uneducated?

     He also wrote:  ” Besides that, part of the stability rests on avoiding social unrest. Since private assistance won’t be enough (never has been historically) to deal with poverty, you’re more likely to get a revolt of some sort if there aren’t state efforts to deal with problems of income distribution.”

     Surprisingly you do seem to be operating under the myth of the money-making machine, as if some entity called “the government” somehow produces money and distributes it to the people in equal or unequal shares.  The possibility of the people revolting is worth considering; however, you seem to be admitting that the alternative is for the producers to simply pacify the non-producers by giving them just enough to live on.  That’s not a pretty picture.

     I would rather the non-producers have an incentive, such as their own survival, to become producers.  Those who literally will not work,  have no <i>right</i> to demand, much less to extract by force, money from those who are producing wealth.  They can ask, and the request can be denied.  Those who cannot work should depend on their families, their neighbors, and private charities to help them.  I am sure that there are plenty of movie stars, sports players, and fancy lawyers to help those with legitimate needs.

Written by ambrosianideas

November 1, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Libertarianism

Tagged with , , ,