Category Archives: LibertyList

Emergent Principles of Human Nature; Inalienable Rights

Part 1 of a series of posts defining Emergent Principles of Human Nature; an outgrowth of a challenge issued to me ages ago by a fellow libertarian that I “explain inalienable rights without including god“.  Like most challenges of this type, the work is larger than the speaker or hearer understands at the time. 

This post will be updated and reposted ahead of each subsequent post in the chain, with links to each as they are completed. A lengthy endeavor, but hopefully worth the time and effort for both writer and reader.

Throughout human history we have attempted to find meaning in the world around us.  We do this imperfectly because we are imperfect beings in an imperfect universe; perfection is an unattainable unknowable state which only the deluded think they understand.

As a group we have tried many approaches to find this meaning.  We have given this discipline a name, Philosophy, and established schools of thought within the discipline as varied and as many as there are philosophers in history.  Down through the ages we have dallied with gods and flirted with the idea of the absence of gods, and fooled ourselves that we group of blind men can fully describe the elephant with only our hands and words.

I do not harbor any delusions about the ability of one uneducated man to be able to perfectly describe the universe or establish it’s meaning; for myself, I can only hope to find my meaning within the universe.  To this end I have pursued my lifelong obsession with philosophy; and when I say obsession I do not mean that I have exhaustively read the treatises of other philosophers.  I have done some of that, but I have found that most philosophers aren’t actually interested in exploring naked truths.  They are more interested in explaining why the world is the way they perceive it.

After that fashion, I guess I’m no different than they are.

However, I think that meaning can be found that is universal, objective.  It was because of the word Objective that I first allied myself with Objectivists.  Ayn Rand in her ultimate folly thought she understood the natural universe perfectly. Her writing on the subject, compelling as it is, is incomplete at best.  At worst, her work is used as it is today; to justify horrors by those willing to enact them, citing her works in ways that the author herself would never have condoned. Her claiming of the title Objectivism for her philosophy is illustrative of the massive ego of the woman herself, made obvious by the study of her life, if you are simply inquisitive enough to take up the challenge.

Within every lie is a kernel of truth, as the saying goes, and within the brashness of Objectivism is the truth of materialism, the denial of post-modernism and it’s still-born sibling, solipsism.

The original challenge to define inalienable rights was issued because god; and yet god himself is a hopeless contradiction, a failure of man’s imagination to grasp that the complexity around us is achievable through time multiplied by error alone. The uncreated creator is a substitution for understanding, not an explanation. Accepting this conclusion, it fell to me to offer a real explanation for the concept of rights; an explanation grounded in science out of necessity, since scientific evidence is the only demonstrable way to objectively prove anything.  At least, the only way that we’ve yet discovered.

Aristotle’s unmoved mover may indeed exist, the god of scientists and philosophers, the natural god, but that god does not offer explanations beyond mere existence itself.  It falls to us to explain what things mean to our own satisfaction.

The title of this piece was chosen consciously and deliberately. There are many philosophers who have written over the years of natural rights and inalienable rights. why what I am writing about cannot be simplistically pigeonholed as natural rights will be discussed in the next piece. This piece hopes to offer up a bare bones explanation of inalienable rights, and their grounding in science.  The planned series of posts to follow will embroider nuance into the bare structure I’m presenting here.


The theory of emergence  provides the grounding for inalienable rights.  While rights are vested in the individual, it is only through seeing the interactions of individuals that the pattern of rights becomes clear. There is no concept of property when alone on a desert island (where Rothbard’s simplistic outline of rights fails) all of everything the sole inhabitant of the island touches is his property by definition; but the individual marooned on a desert island cannot hope to do more than survive while his health endures, alone on an island.  Simple survival is the least of any of our human aspirations.

Most of the concepts we deal with on a daily basis emerge from our interactions with others.  Money is a concept that becomes useless in a social grouping small enough to provide for it’s own needs. Families everywhere struggle with introducing money into the social structure of the household, grapple with educating children on what money is, what it means, what is it’s value. If you corner any given individual and challenge them to define money, most of them will be unable to do so beyond showing you a physical representation; which is not of itself a definition.

In groups large enough that the contributions of the individual cannot be valued and compensated accordingly, money becomes a necessity. How else is the individual who makes widgets all day to be afforded to directly purchase food and shelter for his continued existence? When the value of the widget cannot be directly translated by the average person into a quantity of food, the quality of shelter? Money makes that possible, however it is defined. Money is an emergent system, an outgrowth of human interaction.

But rights are not systems themselves. Rights are principles that systems are based on.  Like systems which emerge from human interaction, the principles that those systems are based on are also emergent; revealed through the interactions of individuals.

That money should have a definable value to the individual is a principle (albeit flawed) of the monetary system.  All of the systems around us that we take for granted are based on these principles that most of us never even bother to seek out, let alone question.  Jefferson’s (through Locke) immortal listing of Life, Liberty & Pursuit of Happiness is, as it says in the Declaration, truncated. There are many other principles that can be inferred from the interactions of individuals, there for anyone to see if they simply take the time to look.

Which is why what we are wrestling with here is Human Nature, not ideology, theology, or the natural world as revealed in the study of other animals. How we as humans value each other, or fail to value as the case may be. The nature of the human animal, as it relates to other human animals within the structures we create for ourselves. As I observed in my first outing on this subject;

A prisoner has rights. Not because we ‘allow’ them; but because his [human nature] enables them. The fact that there are prison breaks is merely proof that the prisoners maintain their rights in spite of the full force of government and the people being intent on denying them the exercise of same. 

In the broadest sense, Emergent Principles of Human Nature represents what most people mean by inalienable rights; what has been lacking up to now is some way of objectively defining why rights cannot be separated from the person; this is satisfied in the concept of emergence.  They cannot be separated from the person, because they are only revealed through common interactions with other individuals. Without them, survival in a group is impossible because the basic needs of the individual cannot be met; and any system created that doesn’t take them into account will fail through the actions of individuals intent on fulfilling their own needs.

Rights are not listed on some government document. They aren’t granted by sovereignty, even your own.  They emerge from the requirements for human life, and the process of securing those requirements on an individual basis.

I finished my first entry on this subject with the observation;

That’s about as far as I’ve taken it. Much more to be written…

Apparently I have the gift for understatement, as the length of the many posts to follow should reveal.

Upgrading The Electorate

Dan Carlin’s latest Common Sense (of the same title) inspired a bit of nostalgia on the part of yours truly. That wasn’t his goal, but his unreserved backing for a change in how we elect our public officials (one that doesn’t involve corruption at the outset) combined with his wistful thoughts on whether or not it was possible to get a better class of voter in the US (5 defining characteristics of stupidity was cited, if not directly endorsed) brought back to mind the long held belief of mine that most Americans (possibly most humans) are impenetrably stupid. When I mention this belief in a group setting, I’m generally guaranteed to get an earful, so I’ve learned over time to keep that opinion to myself. But nothing in my nearly 50 years of experience has ever come close to convincing me that this belief is not based on fact.

Which brings me to the conversation on the Dan Carlin forums that brought up a second point of nostalgia. Invariably new podcasts bring out new listeners, most of them with ideas that they think are fresh and unheard of viewpoints; and they’re certain we’ll understand just how great they are once they tell us. This podcast, since it was about campaigns and the budget, brought out the usual chirpy optimistic observation from a new poster, “You wanna take money out of politics? Take the power out of Washington“.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “take the power out of Washington” back in my Libertarian Party days, I’d have a lot of devalued coinage on hand. This was a mainstay of a good portion of simplistic libertarian thought. It’s as ridiculous a proposal as saying that laws cause crimes, so if we had no laws we’d have no crimes. While it is true that there would be no crime if there was no law, people would still die at the hands of other people, and value would still be taken from people without compensation. Consequently the injustices would still occur, we’d just call them something else.

Government is power, so you will never remove power from government. Corruption and government have walked hand in hand since the first politician agreed to do a favor in exchange for support. The question is how to reduce the obvious corruption in the current system. I don’t see any way out of this that doesn’t include a completely public election process, including financing. This is a new opinion of mine, at variance with pretty much all of the regular LP types. The concept of buying my politicians never did sit well with me, even when I was one of the rank and file. I understand the concept of money is speech in the current system, and I even agree with the recent Supreme Court Citizen’s United ruling as far as it applies to the current system;

Money is only ‘speech’ if money is allowed to be contributed to candidates. If money is not allowed to be contributed; if in fact, money changing hands means jail sentences for both parties (and it should. Bribery is a violation of current law) and all elections are publicly funded, then money is no longer a speech issue at all.

Either we can bribe to hearts content, or no bribery should be allowed. Laws attempting to control who bribes and who doesn’t should be struck down.

(My comment on TexasLP Chair Pat Dixon’s article on the subject)

But the current system is at the heart of the problem of an uninformed electorate, and any effective solution is going to have to modify that system.

I’m becoming convinced the only solution that will fix the problem is public funding of elections with some real vicious teeth on laws against gift giving. Basically, they get their wages, they get their office, and if anyone gives them money for any reason, they (and the giver) get jail-time. Don’t know how else to fix this problem. No money changes hands. No money, for any reason, at any time, or off to jail with the both of them. I have not one problem with locking up every industry exec and every congressman for illegal activities, when it comes right down to it. Every. Last. One.
There’s a local radio host (Jeff Ward, 3pm KLBJ AM. Best radio show in Austin) who has a lunar mantra that runs along the lines of I want serving in office to be the most unpleasant job you can imagine. I want people to hate serving in office so much that they can’t wait to leave the job when their time is up. That’s where I’ve been for years. I want them to hate it. I want to have to draft people to serve as congressman, and have them cry as we stuff them on the bus to go to DC. I want them to do the jobs we send them for, and then leave as soon as they get it done because it’s that unpleasant to be doing that job.

We hound their families and their friends to make sure they aren’t serving as blind trusts for officeholders. The most unpleasant job, for all concerned. People beg, BEG to be allowed to not do the job. We’ll have to publicly finance those campaigns, because there won’t be any other money to be had.

That’s what wielding the kind of power an officeholder has should feel like. A 2 year (or 4, or 6 year) long colonoscopy, while we are lodged up their collective asses watching every transaction that occurs.

What about the nostalgia? You said there’d be nostalgia! Got ahead of myself there, sorry. The nostalgia came in the form of the following libertarian pipe dream (and I’m dizzy enough already without pipe dreams) But it does bring back memories of a simpler time;

My contention is that you get back to first principals of liberty first. If the courts do not allow Washington to affect to such large degree the private affairs of individuals, especially in their means of business, you reduce the stakes. If you reduce the stakes then both the impact of corruption as well as the cost of corruption goes down.

I see Freedom and Liberty as the road back to equality and prosperity. I think with each passing day, more and more Americans are coming to believe that. I hope that within my kids lifetimes they will see a reversal of the current trend.

(From the Dan Carlin forums)

It’s beautiful. He has a dream. I remember a young, inspired Libertarian, with dreams much like that. He thought that all we needed was freedom to make things better. Then he started studying recent history, and came to the realization that the jaded in Washington were using the calls to deregulate industries as excuses to line the pockets of themselves and their cronies. Watched in disbelief as a President elected on a conservative wave of sentiment for better, smaller government, spent more money than any President before him, got us into the longest war in US history (He started a land war in Asia! What a Moron! Or he would be, if the sentiment of the people could have been resisted. I don’t think it could. It was the genius of Bin Laden to get us into Afghanistan in force. He’d just watched it consume the USSR. Think we’ll fare better in the end? I don’t.) and did nothing while the largest economic crash in US history happened all around him.

This (no longer capitol L) libertarian had a brief glimmer of hope when Obama was elected. Not that he thought there was any real chance of anything vaguely Libertarian coming out of that administration, but there was Obama’s acknowledged history of drug use that made him think that hypocrisy on the drug war would come hard, and there were the limp-wristed promises of ending wars to inspire optimism. Which was promptly dashed when Obama simply maintained the status quo on all fronts, and even accelerated on others. Even took the time to pass a Republican piece of legislation with his name on it (Romneycare relabeled as Obamacare) just to prove where his heart was.

The final nail in the coffin (no longer libertarian, now just Objectivist) came when the idiots that cast ballots in the last election believed all the lies of the Republicans running for office. That they would reduce government, repeal that horrible health care act (that they would have voted for, had a Republican been in office) and release bunnies, kittens and doves on the capitol lawn, to go with the rainbow Jesus put there. People so stupid that, here in Texas where the government is still bad, they voted in even more Republicans than we had before and gave them a super majority.

These legislators, rather than do the jobs they had been sent there for, promptly passed social conservative laws against gays, muslims, etc. to please their bases, and have yet to do anything meaningful on the subject of fixing the economic system they were sent there to address. The next Presidential election is shaping up to be more of the same.

What I think is this country needs honest debate. The only way to get it is to take apart the current election system, top to bottom. No money changes hands. People who give money to politicians go to jail for treason. Politicians who take money from people go to jail for treason. A two year series of debates is established, which all candidates for office are required to attend. No barriers to entry. If you want to be candidate, you file and you are. You miss one (or two) of the mandated debates, you’re out.

We could even structure it like that great American pasttime, American Idol. Vote candidates off that we don’t like, preliminary to the final nominations and elections. All of it covered on broadcast television and streamed on the internet (on pain of revocation of transmission licenses if not) so that ‘the people’ will understand what is at stake, or at least have to work to avoid it.

Because much as it pains me, bursting bubbles that contain libertarian (or conservative, or liberal) pipe dreams is paramount to getting any real work done in political circles. The world just doesn’t work the way the ideologues think it does.

Poetry vs. Philosophy

Historical musings from the hey I’ll hit publish later” archive. The comments were a response to Dan Carlin’s Common Sense episode #127 but they had almost nothing to do with the episode.


The song Dan is thinking of, unless I am mistaken, is a Don Henley song from his first solo album. Not the Eagles.





Although, as the video above shows, the Eagles are not above cashing in on Don Henley’s solo efforts, any more than they are above cashing in on Joe Walsh’s or any other band members work that will gain them a few more bucks. Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down. Pretty much covers the rise and fall of any candidate, including Barack Obama.

The problem is there isn’t a single person who can fix the problems this country faces. Everyone wants to vote and be done with it. Doesn’t work that way. You have to roll up your sleeves and get to work yourself if you want to see change.

As a general rule I hate music videos. I link them only because there isn’t an easy way to share a song without video attached. The greatest music video is the one running in my head when I’m listening to my favorite music. Having someone else interpret what the sound means ruins the entire concept of ‘music’.

Take it Easy has a specific meaning for me, related to the time and place in my life where the poetry spoke to me. Supplanting that with surfed up images is faking real meaning.

Develop an appreciation for classical music, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. There’s a world of difference between a poet and philosopher. Ayn Rand was a philosopher. John Lennon was a poet. Immanuel Kant was a philosopher (just not a good one) Ludwig van Beethoven was a poet (one of the best ever) There is no question what a philosopher means when he attempts to define reality. A poet’s every word is open to interpretation, and yet the emotion should ring clearly through the words and/or music.

Mistaking poetry for philosophy highlights a key reason why society is still mired in prehistoric superstition and saddled with problems that can’t be solved on anything other than a personal level. Rational legal structures cannot satisfy emotional needs. Wanting to feel safe is not a reason to enslave the medical profession and force me to contribute. Needing to feel cared for is not a reason to steal my retirement savings.

Wanting to save the earth has no bearing on whether your actions will actually improve the environment, or simply destroy property rights; and through their destruction, the fabric of western society itself. If it can be objectively proven that humans are destroying the planet, then either we can be counted upon to act rationally and alter our behaviors for our own good, or the hard-core environmentalists will get their fondest wish. Destroying property rights just improves the hand of the power seeker, who has no more of a clue than you do what will improve the environment.

Wanting to save another’s soul from eternal damnation by outlawing questionable behaviors like prostitution and recreational drug use has proven to go farther towards creating hell on earth than doing nothing at all might have. Allowing individuals the freedom to live their own lives, whether you approve of their choices or not, underscores the value of liberty. Poor choices serve as their own correction mechanism; there is no need for further punishment, it just clouds the issue bringing in a layer of paternalism when none is warranted.

Poetry appeals to your emotion, comforting or crying out for redress. Philosophy informs your mind, and outlines the possibilities in life. Clarifying whether someone is being philosophical or poetical is the first step in understanding whether they are trying to avoid reason, or attempting to motivate with emotion. And the difference is crucial.

Tytler (or Tyler) Quote; Heading for Dictatorship?

I keep running across this quote:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, and is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

These nations have progressed through this sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage.

This is generally attributed to Sir Alex Fraser Tytler, but it has also been attributed to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson (and many others) I’ve even seen a rather lengthy list of titles and a reference location for Sir Tytler (Scottish jurist and historian. Professor of Universal History at Edinburgh University in the late 18th Century. From the 1801 Collection of his lectures) that seems to lend credence to the subject.

It’s a quote that I like and feel sympathetic to. But…

http://www.lorencollins.net/tytler.html proposes that:

The truth is that despite their frequent use, the author(s) of the
above quotes are unknown. With regard to the first quoted paragraph, the Library of Congress’ Respectfully Quoted writes, “Attributed to ALEXANDER FRASER TYTLER, LORD WOODHOUSELEE. Unverified.” The quote, however, appears in no published work of Tytler’s. And with regard to the second, the same book says “Author unknown. Attributed to Benjamin Disraeli. Unverified.”

Yet despite this factual uncertainty, these quotes are not only frequently attributed to Tytler, but just as frequently employ his antiquity as a means of enhancing their reliability. I myself was misled for years before being informed of their “unverified” status.


Has anyone else ever researched the quote? (Snopes has a good piece on the subject as well, hats off to a fellow dancarlin.com forum user for that one) I haven’t, other than to dig far enough to find the above. There is no reference for a collection of lectures that I’ve ever seen. They could be out of print, but they should merit a reference somewhere; if indeed, Tytler is famous for saying the quote that is attributed to him.

Not even the Library of Congress can find the source for the quote, or even the true author. While many in the liberty movement feel akin to the sentiments in the quote, we do ourselves a disservice when we repeat it without knowing the true author; or on what basis we should accept his observations.

True, as was mentioned in a Texas Public Policy Foundation newsletter recently;

While there may be disagreement on the actual author of these words, there ought to be little debate about the pernicious effects of a growing government that numbs its people to the loss of freedom and liberty as it gradually increases dependence. One need not look far to see the many instances where individuals have resigned themselves and relinquished control over important and highly personal decisions. Education is a primary example. Health care may soon be the next.
Yet dependence on government—whether conscious or unconscious—did not occur overnight. Instead, it took years of gradual growth in government’s size and scope. After all, many are unwilling to seriously protest a single small tax increase, forgetting that in the aggregate those increases become real money. Any single regulation may be passable, but it is the force of hundreds of accumulated regulations that begin to cripple an industry and even an economy. Or it is years of expectation that government provides certain services that penetrates people’s minds and softens consideration on the appropriate role of government.

Growing government becomes a powerful weapon against freedom and liberty, as people not only lose sight of those principles, but ultimately back government’s quest to expand its reach.


It’s pretty easy to see why the quote is repeated; the observation could be a truth to be feared, if not merely a myth that seems to be playing out for real right before our eyes.

FFrF Radio: Richard Dawkins!

Podcast Link.

March 8, 2008Special Guest: Richard Dawkins

Do I really need to say anything else about this episode to make you want to listen to it? Come on, Richard Dawkins is the guest. I’d listen to the guy ordering lunch, much less talking about The God Delusion and his other books.

OK, how about he’ll be in Austin on the 19th of March? How’s that for inspiration? I’m just wishing I could get in to hear him speak. Not holding my breath.

The interview was a long discussion (which actually seems short) of problems with creationism, including mention of the Omphalogical argument and Dawkin’s own Climbing Mount Improbable.


“Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

2007 Archive episode.

March 10, 2007Media Covers FFRF & Freethought

This episode is pretty much what the title says it is. The media reporting on the lawsuit discussed in the previous week, and other items of interest.

The edge printing on the new George Washington “gold” dollars was missing on several hundred coins, the so-called godless dollars (“in god we trust” is printed on the edge) rated a mention on the program because of a previous failed lawsuit to remove the motto from the coinage. Some discussion of the (very recent) addition of “in god we trust” to US money.

[This isn’t a major concern of mine. My major concern is the real value of money, not what it says on the surface; consequently, I would prefer to trade Liberty Dollars that say “trust in god”, because I trust in silver much more than I will ever trust in god, rather than trade USD that have no value]

Julia Sweeney rated a brief segment, as did Sam Harris. His piece asks some very pointed questions about the future of our society if we continue to rely on faith to the extent that we currently do.

Dan’s Pagan Pulpit segment deals with the subject of the lack of a factual basis for a real historical Jesus. A more in depth exploration of this subject can be found in the film The God Who Wasn’t There. I caught the sensationalized History Channel special on the finding of Jesus’ ossuary, co-hosted by James Cameron and the Naked Archaeologist. I’m trying to forgive Cameron for this lame film appearance, but I won’t be spending another moment watching anything the Naked Archaeologist does.

The show ended with a Philip Appleman poem. He’s a good poet, but I think they need to get someone else to read his work.

Common Sense 116 – Voting for Cake & It’s Not the Environment, Stupid

Going through the backlog of Common Sense (with Dan Carlin) episodes that I wanted blog on.

I had to go digg up the article that Dan referenced in the first half of the show, it’s that good:

The big lie of campaign 2008 — so far — is that the presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican, will take care of our children. Listening to these politicians, you might think they will. Doing well by children has now passed motherhood and apple pie as an idol that all candidates must worship.

A moral cloud hangs over our candidates. Just how much today’s federal policies, favoring the old over the young and the past over the future, should be altered ought to be a central issue of the campaign. But knowing the unpopular political implications, our candidates have lapsed into calculated quiet.

read more | digg story

This guy is ‘spot on’ (as the English say) and he doesn’t pull any punches. Not even Ron Paul has had much to say on the subject, because what is there to say? Hey, old people, you’re going to have to give up your benefits? Hey, young people, we’re going to raise your tax rates another 40%? No, neither of these solutions work, and yet one of them will have to be imposed; and sooner rather than later.

The sad thing about the Social Security situation is the same story as the situation with foreign policy. Anyone who’s been paying attention knows the system is “broke and broken” but no amount of pointing this out to the politicians for the last 20 years or so has made any difference.

Bush’s half-hearted attempt to introduce ‘private’ (they weren’t, but that’s what they were referred to as) accounts early in his first term met with such a backlash from seniors and Democrats that I doubt anything will be done to solve this problem. It looks like the ‘third rail’ of the political arena will simply be allowed to ‘go to ground’ (bankruptcy) where it will be effectively be rendered harmless to the politicians who remain. Good luck with that.

The second half of the show involved the introduction of the Tata Nano, and the effect that industrializing the third world will have on the environment.

All the issues in this show are presented as having to do with can people vote against their own short term best interests, in favor of long term best interests of the world as a whole; or at least, a larger group than the single person casting a vote.

As far as Social Security goes; as the population ages, and as the taxes start rising on those who are still working, you will see cuts in benefits to the elderly. That move will benefit the people who hold the power at that point in time, and the citizenry they cater too. No amount of whining by the then shrinking pool of boomers will matter that much. Considering it was the boomers who failed to act when the problem became apparent, I’m not going to shed too many tears over the prospect, even if it’s my benefits that get cut.

However, the case for environmental degradation resulting from third world industrialization is hardly a cut and dried matter. Expecting the rest of the world to stay undeveloped just so that we in America can continue to enjoy massive levels of consumption is building castles in the sky. People are going to do anything to improve their lives, and if that means they need a car, they’ll be buying Nanos. Consequently, we may be growing crops in Greenland again in the near future, and sea levels my rise a few inches. Global warming isn’t what we should be worrying about.

I realize the average person prefers to be scared rather than informed; however, the briefest step back from agreeing to whatever draconian measures the enviro-whackos want to impose on us, will reveal several rational objections that make good arguments for doing something else entirely. Arguments like this one from CATO and Indur Goklany:

The world can best combat climate change and advance well-being, particularly of the world’s most vulnerable populations, by reducing present-day vulnerabilities to climate-sensitive problems that could be exacerbated by climate change rather than through overly aggressive Green House Gas reductions.

read more | digg story

The report is written in college level English, I’m sorry. I’ve listened to the audio, and the average person shouldn’t have a problem understanding that targeting greenhouse gas emissions (what environmentalists are doing when they worry about more cars on the roads) will produce a less positive result than targeting things like Malaria prevention, for example.

So, I wouldn’t ask the Indains and others to forgo buying automobiles; it’s a waste of time anyway. Either individual liberty (the ability to make choices for oneself) leads to long term survival for the species, or the species is doomed no matter how you slice it. Pretending that smart people (read as environmentalists) can save us from ourselves, if we hand our freedom over to them, is just another form of magical thinking.

It won’t work.

November 6 – Texas Constitution Amendment Vote

Have you ever read the Texas Constitution? It’s a mess. Check it out, here. There’s been a movement underfoot for years now to replace the outdated state constitution with a version that makes a little more sense (it’s not like we haven’t done that a dozen times before, don’t see the problem with doing it again) but it never amounts to much of anything.

I only mention it because it’s once again time to amend the Constitution, as we seem to do every year here in Texas, and I’m consequently reminded of the idiocy of the current state of our government here.

Anyway, there are 16 amendments this year, which is more than the average year. There are several guides to what the different amendments mean; ranging from the tried and true League of Women Voters to the how can this not be biased guide published on the Texas Legislature’s site. (I don’t know about bias, but I do know that it would take a scholar to find it. 136 pages of wind. Sheesh) There’s even one from the local LP, which I’ll append to this blog entry.

The reason I feel compelled to write something on this anniversary of the annual vote-me-a-benny spending spree is because of the fifteenth amendment on the list, the one that everyone’s favorite biking hero has been cheapening himself shilling for.

Yes, I have a problem with being taxed so that Texas can have their own inefficient version of the NIH, and spend even more money on ill-advised gov’t backed research into cancer than the federal gov’t currently does.

You may well ask “why”, and you better believe I have an answer. It’s because I don’t like theft. It’s bad enough when the state steals from me when it wants to build roads (which it now wants to charge me tolls to drive on) or when it wants to indoctrinate, er, educate children (and pays too much for schools I wouldn’t want to send my neighbor’s kids too, much less my own) at least those types of massively over-funded boondoggles can be justified on the basis that they could benefit everyone in Texas.

Not so the TIH (or maybe it’ll be called TICR, but that sounds like heart research) the expenditures there will benefit only the researchers.

Oh, but I hear you saying “what about the benefit of new cancer cures, those will apply to everyone in Texas” What’s my response to that? The cures will only benefit those who can afford to pay. That’s right boys and girls, just like paying to build stadiums that you then have to pay to attend (or roads that you have to pay to drive on after paying for them to be built) we get to pay for research into medical treatments that we will then have to pay for in order to receive.

Those of us who still have sufficient funds to pay with, that is. Consequently, I’m not exactly gung ho on the subject of giving a few more of my rapidly disappearing dollars to the state so that they can spend it on things they will want to turn around and charge me for.

How about this for a suggestion; I’ll keep my portion of the dollars, and you can bill me for my portion of the research costs if I ever need cancer treatment (or drive on the new roads, or go to a stadium event, etc) Of course, the argument runs “well, you won’t have the treatments (or roads, or stadiums, etc) later if we don’t pay for them now.

I’ve got news on that front too. I won’t be here if my tax burden gets much higher. I’ll be taking up residence under the 360 bridge with the rest of the homeless.

…I guess I really shouldn’t worry. Hillary will be elected next November, and I’m sure she’ll be re-introducing her socialized medicine, er, single payer health care proposal; as well as putting a chicken in every pot, no doubt. Cancer treatment will be free then, right?

So, why is Texas wanting to pay for research now, then? Anyone care to follow the money on this issue?


Travis County Libertarians release constitutional amendments voter guide

AUSTIN – October 18, 2007 – The Travis County Libertarian Party (TCLP) executive committee has adopted positions on 12 of the 16 Texas constitutional amendment propositions to appear on the November 6 ballot.

For: 7, 10, 11, 14
Against: 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 13, 15, 16
No position: 3, 5, 6, 9

Propositions 3, 5, 6, and 9 generated debate among Libertarians. On the one hand, they appear to provide some tax relief. On the other hand, they are targeted toward narrow special-interest groups to buy votes and provide sound bites for re-election campaigns, while the legislature keeps raising spending and shifting the tax burden onto others. Libertarians favor broad-based tax and spending cuts, rather than more complexity and special-interest pandering.

During the debate, some Libertarians expressed the principle, “When in doubt, vote no.”

These are the TCLP positions, with brief explanations:

1. AGAINST (Angelo State University governance change) This would be more than a simple change in hierarchy. It would allow
spending, tuition, and fees to increase.

2. AGAINST (Additional $100 million bonds for student loans) Bonds cause future tax increases. Government subsidies to students enable university bureaucrats to keep raising tuition and fees. Student debt upon graduation has skyrocketed in the past ten years, and we shouldn’t encourage that trend with more tax dollars.

3. No position (Tweaking appraisal cap rules)

4. AGAINST ($1 billion in bonds for state facilities) Libertarians support less spending on state facilities, not more.

5. No position (Tax incentives for down town revitalization programs)

6. No position (Tax exemptions for personal vehicles used for business)

7. FOR (Eminent domain buy-back rights)
This would provide a small amount of protection in some cases. However, the 2007 legislature failed to pass stronger protections against eminent domain, and this is a perfect case where politicians are likely to mislead voters by claiming they support eminent domain reform more than they really do.

8. AGAINST (Home equity loan regulations)
Libertarians believe in free markets and personal responsibility. This amendment would increase government interference with the loan process.

9. No position (Disabled veteran tax exemptions)

10. FOR (Abolish office of inspector of hides and animals)
Libertarians support eliminating the obsolete minor office of Inspector of Hides and Animals. We wish this amendment would also eliminate the State Board of Education, which would represent a real cut in government.

11. FOR (Require record votes on bill passage)
This would allow voters to actually find out how their representatives voted on final passage of a bill. More accountability is good.

12. AGAINST ($5 billion in bonds for Texas Transportation Commission)
The government already does a terrible job of spending transportation tax dollars, and we should not provide new revenue sources.

13. AGAINST (Denial of bail to some offenders)
This has a “tough on crime” sound to it, but it violates constitutional rights to bail and is unnecessary. America has the highest incarceration rate in the industrialized world. The state should focus on removing victimless crimes from the books to reduce incarceration and promote a stronger civil society, rather than imposing ever-increasing criminal penalties on every unwise action.

14. FOR (Permit judges who reach mandatory retirement age to serve out their terms)
Let elderly judges work if they want to.

15. AGAINST ($3 billion for a Cancer Research Institute)
Medical research is not a legitimate function of government. Funding for medical research should stay in the private sector. There is plenty of profit motive in seeking patents for drugs and medical devices, and if that weren’t enough, there is also a great deal of funding provided by voluntary charitable donations.

16. AGAINST ($250 million in bonds for water development to poor unincorporated colonias)
Developers build neighborhoods without providing and paying for infrastructure like water, then want other taxpayers to pay for water and wastewater services for their developments. Wrong. Development should pay for itself without outside tax subsidies.
Early voting starts October 22 and ends November 2. Election day is Tuesday, November 6.

Contact:
Wes Benedict, TCLP Chair
512-442-4910
wesliberty@aol.com


For the purpose of completeness, I’ll add this addendum. It looks like we’ll be getting TICR,;getting a high profile celebrity to back spending your tax dollars (rather than celebrities spending their own private funds) always gets the public behind a project. Amendment 15 passed with 61% in favor. (source, Texas SOS)

Most of the amendments passed by 10 to 20 percent margins. With only about 5% of the population voting (One million of the over 20 million reported in the last census) I wonder how much the vote was skewed by targeted advertising, and how it might have been skewed differently if all those people who are certain that voting is a waste of time (because all the amendments will pass anyway) had gotten off their fat asses and gone to vote.

I guess it’s true that we create our world through our (in)actions.

Hitler, Mussolini, Roosevelt

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. –George Santayana

This struck me as an appropriate quote to answer the inevitable questions of “why” one would go back in time and tarnish the good name of FDR by equating him with Hitler and Mussolini (and to some extent, Stalin) I have long thought that Roosevelt’s reign as president was anything but good; and it would be hard to paint many of his actions with a more dingy color than the facts already contain.

However, there are socialist instructors in our gov’t run schools to this day, and they insist on placing FDR on a pedestal and crediting him with ending the Great Depression and saving the world from fascism; when nothing could really be further from the truth.

Here’s a snippet from the review of the book Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933 – 1939, by Wolfgang Schivelbusch over at CATO’s website:

FDR himself praised the Prussian-German model: “They passed beyond the liberty of the individual to do as he pleased with his own property and found it necessary to check this liberty for the benefit of the freedom of the whole people


read more | digg story

The Great Depression only got to be the great depression through gov’t intervention in the markets, both before and after the stock market collapse in 1929; and it would be hard to say that FDR saved us from fascism when he was so enamored of it. Fascism exists to this day in the US because of this man; and it continues to persist because people refuse to learn from history, to their own detriment.

Ron Paul: The Howard Dean of ’08?

This has nothing to do with the Dean scream (which was a non-event hyped up by the Democrat party leadership so they could hand the nomination to a moderate) but is in fact a pretty well-balanced news piece on the effectiveness of the Ron Paul campaign, and the Ron Paul effect.

Here’s a snippet:

Among the Texas congressman’s loyal, passionate, Web-savvy supporters, that’s not a question. It’s a statement — and a semi-accurate one. Here’s a very important similarity: Like Dean, Paul has been against the war on Iraq from the beginning, setting him apart from the rest of the GOP field.

And just as Dean’s insurgent campaign effectively used the Web to raise money, rally its supporters and create buzz the year before the 2004 elections, Paul’s campaign throughout the year has singularly relied on the Internet to fuel his engine.

All that popularity has translated to online money: $5.1 million in the third quarter, with at least 70 percent of it coming from online donors, according to Paul spokesman Jesse Benton. He raised about $3.1 million in the first and second quarters — 80 percent of it from online donations.

“What we’re seeing here is less about Paul being the Dean of this campaign but about the resurgence of libertarianism on the Internet. In the early ’90s, the predominant philosophy on the Net was libertarian. Ross Perot had a lot of support from that group, which kind of faded in the background once the Republicans took control,” said Jerome Armstrong, founder of the progressive blog MyDD and former Internet adviser for Dean. “Now that group has Ron Paul. And they’re more about being independent than about identifying with either parties. It’s a small voice within the Republican party, libertarians, but they’re creating a lot of noise.”

read more | digg story

As someone who tried to convince family members that Ross Perot was a flash in the pan, and has been a politically active libertarian ever since, I can attest to the lack of candidates outside the Libertarian Party itself that were truly libertarian; or even truly fiscally conservative.

Joshua Levy of TechPresident had this to say:

“Ron Paul’s online popularity is really bigger than Ron Paul the candidate. There’s a void in the Republican party because there are no candidates speaking to the more libertarian financial conservatism that’s been the bedrock of the party. There’s a sense that what passes for the GOP right now isn’t Republican and it isn’t conservative. Ron Paul is filling that void.”

Which is true. There aren’t any conservatives that someone like Barry Goldwater would recognize running for president, other than Ron Paul. To be fair though, there aren’t any liberals running as Democrats, either. There are a dozen Socialists of varying stripes running, but not a single liberal (as liberal is defined everywhere else in the world except the US) that I can identify. Which is a shame. It would be nice to have an election where the average American isn’t asked to choose between a fascist and a socialist.

Maybe this time we’ll at least do without the fascist. Ron Paul has my support, as the only non-fascist running for the Republican nomination. He’s also got my support as the best liberty oriented candidate to appear in any forum to date, with the best chance of success.

DownsizeDC – 20 Minutes, 422 Pages

The latest post on the subject of the Read the Bills Act concerns the passage of this bill:

…the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 introduced on Wednesday, September 19: “Final bill text released twenty minutes before floor consideration.” That’s bad. What makes it worse is, this bill is 422 pages long. Is it just me, or does 20 minutes seem like not quite enough time to read 422 pages? – Downsize DC Blog, 20 Minutes, 422 Pages

The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (H.R.3580) contains, amongst it’s other unread passages, a provision to create a new reporting agency within the FDA, which allows them the ability to remove a product from public access based on a single reported instance of harm; even if the harmed person doesn’t report the harm his or herself.

Considering that the FDA has been wanting to restrict access to supplements for a few years now (purportedly at the request of the AMA) this looks like granting the FDA the ability to do this one supplement at a time; essentially a back door approach to do the same thing that public feed back has stymied up to this point. Considering the hassles that we now have to go through to get former OTC medicines like Pseudoephedrine and Ephedrine, as well as the cluster fuck that was last year’s spinach debacle. Never mind that simply irradiating the food would have removed any possible chance of infection. Don’t even get me started on the pseudo-science behind the banning of that process in the US. This does not bode well for future access to all kinds of products that the FDA will find objectionable under the new reporting rules.


Mea Culpa review 2018, the review continues. I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects.

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.” -Alexander Hamilton and James Madison (Federalist No. 62, 1788)

That is probably the quote that got me to post this dispatch to the blog. I find it interesting that the full context of the quote bears an ominous warning for the every day inconsistency that we’ve seen since the Orange Hate-Monkey took office at the beginning of last year. here is the quote in context,

Fourthly. The mutability in the public councils arising from a rapid succession of new members, however qualified they may be, points out, in the strongest manner, the necessity of some stable institution in the government. Every new election in the States is found to change one half of the representatives. From this change of men must proceed a change of opinions; and from a change of opinions, a change of measures. But a continual change even of good measures is inconsistent with every rule of prudence and every prospect of success. The remark is verified in private life, and becomes more just, as well as more important, in national transactions.

To trace the mischievous effects of a mutable government would fill a volume. I will hint a few only, each of which will be perceived to be a source of innumerable others.

In the first place, it forfeits the respect and confidence of other nations, and all the advantages connected with national character. An individual who is observed to be inconstant to his plans, or perhaps to carry on his affairs without any plan at all, is marked at once, by all prudent people, as a speedy victim to his own unsteadiness and folly. His more friendly neighbors may pity him, but all will decline to connect their fortunes with his; and not a few will seize the opportunity of making their fortunes out of his. One nation is to another what one individual is to another; with this melancholy distinction perhaps, that the former, with fewer of the benevolent emotions than the latter, are under fewer restraints also from taking undue advantage from the indiscretions of each other. Every nation, consequently, whose affairs betray a want of wisdom and stability, may calculate on every loss which can be sustained from the more systematic policy of their wiser neighbors. But the best instruction on this subject is unhappily conveyed to America by the example of her own situation. She finds that she is held in no respect by her friends; that she is the derision of her enemies; and that she is a prey to every nation which has an interest in speculating on her fluctuating councils and embarrassed affairs.

The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?

Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uniformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any way affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow-citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the FEW, not for the MANY.

In another point of view, great injury results from an unstable government. The want of confidence in the public councils damps every useful undertaking, the success and profit of which may depend on a continuance of existing arrangements. What prudent merchant will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce when he knows not but that his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be executed? What farmer or manufacturer will lay himself out for the encouragement given to any particular cultivation or establishment, when he can have no assurance that his preparatory labors and advances will not render him a victim to an inconstant government? In a word, no great improvement or laudable enterprise can go forward which requires the auspices of a steady system of national policy.

But the most deplorable effect of all is that diminution of attachment and reverence which steals into the hearts of the people, towards a political system which betrays so many marks of infirmity, and disappoints so many of their flattering hopes. No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable; nor be truly respectable, without possessing a certain portion of order and stability.

Alexander Hamilton and James Madison are describing the US government as it exists under the OHM currently. What prudent person would hazard their wealth under the rule of this capricious man? When any act of independence is seen as an act of betrayal? This passage speaks volumes about Caudillo Trump and his administration, none of it good.

But that wasn’t the subject of the article in question. The subject was The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (H.R.3580) and what is now obvious to me, a lack of understanding how meticulous the reconciliation process between the two houses of congress is, on the part of the editors of the Downsize DC blog and the average libertarian like yours truly. Either I believe they don’t understand the process, or I believe that they knowingly lead their readers and supporters astray by relying on Republican sources of information without actually checking the validity of the information that was being passed on to them.

I’m sanguine with the FDA itself these days. If anything, they are too forgiving of the supplement industry and far, far too willing to let Americans harm themselves with quack cures and snake oil. A good portion of the population are now either actively participating in MLM schemes to sell each other fake cures, or are the victims of same. Sometimes both at the same time. In the end we have to rely on rigorous testing and science to be able to tell if a product is safe and works as promised. And that means we have to accept that science tells us truth things about the world around us, something that about 50% of the population doesn’t agree is true.

That is the scariest thing of all.