Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Fallacy of the Libertarian Cause

I believe its society’s responsibility to provide for those who do not have the wherewithal to acquire adequate housing, food, healthcare, and education, but that means the government must step-in when and where society does not make adequate provisions.

Libertarians, conservatives, and others, claim these provisions, when legislated by government, amount to socialism. Those who believe this way should take a hard look at its definition.

In the Frontline documentary The Warning, Henry Kaufman, Dir. Lehman Bros., 1995 – 08, said, “Libertarianism means those who do well prosper, those who do poorly fail, and the market clears the transaction.” This is precisely the problem with libertarianism, republicanism, or conservatism: the pursuit of wealth.

Ayn Rand, in the same documentary, said there should be a separation between the state and economics. If there is a separation between the state and economics, as Ayn Rand suggests, without law and regulation, as Brooksley Born explains in The Warning, “There will be significant financial downturns and disasters attributed to this regulatory gap over and over until we learn from experience," as we found out with the 2008 burst of the Bubble. It is proof that market-based solutions don’t work, which Alan Greenspan belatedly admitted.

In his column for the Wall Street Journal, 'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years, Stephen Moore recommended that the novel by Ayn Rand should be read by “every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. [If they had] I'm confident that we'd get out of the current financial mess a lot faster.” Well, if every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration read Ayn Rand’s novel and acted on its proclamations as Stephen Moore recommended, we may or may not have got out of the current financial mess a lot faster, but I am absolutely certain there would be a great more pain for Americans.

The book, Atlas Shrugged, claims that liberals relentlessly pursue wealth distribution; that all of our problems have market-based solutions; that there cannot be political freedom without economic freedom. However, the problem is equality and justice should not be interpreted as wealth distribution; as we have experienced market-based solutions do not work; and in the end, there is no such thing as authentic freedom within money-based systems.

The problem with capitalist laissez-faire free market systems is money in itself, and presiding within it an unquenchable quest for profit and wealth that is intrinsic in capitalism. Since a capitalist concern is only for profit and the creation of personal wealth, they fail with “do-goodism,” as Stephen Moore expresses it, unless, of course, it’s in their best interest to do so. Despite their denial with the claim that “when profits, wealth, and creativity are denigrated in society, they [profits, wealth, creativity] start to disappear …” the fact remains that the innate capitalist mindset is completely void of understanding, compassion, or even recognition, for those who are homeless, hungry, indigent, or encumbered with infirmities.

The Proof of the pudding of the latter lies in Henry Kaufman’s very succinct matter-of-fact description of libertarianism, wherein there are no other qualifications than if you prosper there is financial success, and if you fail that’s too bad, the free market simply does not concern itself with anything other than profit and wealth. So, it therefore seems to me that a moneyless resource based system is the solution to these and almost all of our world’s problems.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Perspectives: A Call for Education Exceptionalism

The purpose of human life is its evolution -- not only Darwinian, but mimetic, environmental, and in other ways as well. For that reason, it’s important to perpetuate enduring growth and development, especially by the examples set for our younger generation.

Learning is not always pedagogical. The best and most influential teachers are those who can also inculcate learning by doing, demonstration, from providing best examples and practices in the way they play, interact, apply their knowledge and skills, demonstrate work ethic, develop relationships, by being proactive, by simply how they live their lives, and in their demeanor. Leading by setting a positive professional and personal example is by far the most effective model for teaching and living a purposeful life. This should be the expectation embraced by the school community.

In life, we learn from supraliminal and subliminal messages. For example, sometimes the stimulus that causes fear can be a result of what is heard and seen, but often by what is simply intuitionally felt.

On February 15th , Pembroke High School in collaboration with Pembroke PD and regional law enforcement employed K9s to search student property and their surroundings for illegal drugs and paraphernalia.

The February 18th Right Opinion column, “Gone to the dogs,” stated “This is non intrusive to most students and their persons and sends a clear message that this community is serious about preventing the sale, distribution or use of drugs in and around our schools. It may seem as though we are telling the majority of kids who have done nothing wrong, have not violated the trust of their parents or principals, that we do not trust them. I would hope these dogs tell our sons and daughters that we love them and will keep them safe. It is precisely the actions of last Friday that demonstrate to students that adults are watching them and will hold them accountable. Schools are a place for kids to feel safe and secure.”

Certainly, the PHS students affected by this search intuitively felt that they are not trusted, and the notion that dogs should be used in this way to tell our sons and daughters that we love them is ludicrous. Bringing police and dogs into a place of learning for no reasonable or probable justification is not about keeping them safe and secure; in fact, it produces the opposite unintended consequence of insecurity, some hate, repugnance for the authority of police and their school, and instills unnecessary fear. The supraliminal affect was that coercion, force, and intimidation by threats of violence are the way to achieve power and control, and fix problems.

Furthermore, it was intrusive and not productive; teaching was stopped for the non-educational purpose of searching for drugs. Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the atmosphere created by taking police dogs into schools is “incompatible with nurturing environments that are supposed to be conducive to adolescent education.”

Moreover, police and school officials acted in defiance of the presumption of innocence, and violated reasonable respect for student privacy. Additionally, their action demonstrated that the police, the school, and the community may have failed in their drug education efforts.

The school, by initiating this action, did not contribute to the enduring growth and development of their students, nor did they provide leadership by setting the best positive professional and personal example of exceptionalism.

Therefore, presumptively the columnist was right: education “has gone to the dogs.” However, being that as it may, from my point of view, this search by police, dogs or not, was unacceptable.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is secession a solution to the Washington debt?

Roland Holland declares in his piece, “Secession: A Solution to the Washington Debt Threat,” that government plunder via taxation and debt creation threatens to destroy the financial life of future generations, and that secession is a way to solve these problems.

Well, secession is not a solution.

Holland is wrong in misleading the reader into thinking that government is always the villain and that corporations and Wall Street are the be all and end all to our financial ills. Plunder occurs in the private as well as the public sector, in business, finance, state or federal government as well. As long as we depend on a money-based system, we will always have coercion, avarice, and criminality, which are existential in the system and an intrinsic hazard for anyone seeking wealth creation.

It is a fallacy for anyone to believe that private or public money management and manipulation is a solution to humanity’s problems, no matter whether those problems are financial, or social. The undeniable truth is that unquenchable quest for wealth is the cause for humanity’s problems.

Interestingly, a number of states have introduced legislation declaring sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment: Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, California, and Georgia, while there are about twelve states considering sovereignty. So, secession is not some unimaginable, off-the-wall notion.

Nevertheless, I don’t believe that a sovereign state would voluntarily participate in good faith within a confederation of states; their individual needs will always take priority and may come into conflict with another state’s priorities. Additionally, states would still be tied to the federal government by common interest in some important ways. Secession would be no more successful than that of the southern confederate states in the 1860s, which resulted in the American Civil War. The here and now of yesteryear and the here and now of today are complexly, geopolitically, demographically, culturally, and in every other way very different. Our country has significantly progressed and more sophisticated than the country known to our founding fathers.

Furthermore, the “Washington income tax,” as Holland refers to it, may be less as federal authority and services devolve to the states, but it would mean the states would levy equivalent taxes in order to provide those increased services. Therefore, nothing would actually be gained, except the states would benefit from having greater insight into their individual needs than that of the federal government. Additionally, states could not provide for their individual or collective national defense without dependence on a national department of defense, and therefore there would be a federal income tax or tax of some sort levied for defense.

Rather than secession, we should simply promote the devolution of some federal authority to the states; while over time transfer all authority to the states, then to communities. This would be logistically necessary in order to evolve to a moneyless structure. Community-based authority and control, amongst other measures, is how we will achieve heterarchical systems of governance, develop and retain efficiencies in resource management, affording authentic freedom, equality, and world peace.

Of course, moneyless systems would need to be applicable worldwide. In that, there would be a need to manage, regulate, and utilize resources in an equitable way, and this over time would require an accumulation of greater knowledge, an evolution to technologies that are more advanced, greater communication, greater national and international cooperation, resolve and commitment to an incremental process model leading to fruition.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Lion of the Senate

In the late 1950s, I was a bartender at the Harvard Club of Boston. I served Ted Kennedy. I was in my early 20s. He was in his late 20s. The first time he placed an order it was for a scotch and water with just enough scotch “to color the water.” He always greeted me courteously with that familiar Kennedy smile.

Because of that personal connection, over the next few years, I developed a fondness for him and throughout my life his life’s vicissitudes, tribulations, and personal failings often attracted my curiosity.

At these events, Ted Kennedy was unremarkable amongst his peers; one would never suspect he would be our next Senator from Massachusetts filling the seat once held by his brother John F. Kennedy. Through his long tenure and influence, he became known as the “Lion of the Senate,” a major figure and spokesman for American progressivism while writing more than 300 pieces of legislation. Up to his death on August 25, 2009, he had been re-elected nine times and had served forty-six years.

Although a unique, respected legislator with a mastery of the legislative process, Ted Kennedy’s personal life took a beating: he has been repeatedly vilified for Chappaquiddick, womanizing, alcoholism, and his wealth, which in view of his advocacy for the poor and downtrodden, left him vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy; he suffered the loss of his brother Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. in World War II and his sister Kathleen Agnes Kennedy in an airplane crash, as well as his brothers President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy at the hands of an assassin; and he nearly lost his life in a fatal plane crash in 1964 that left him with a life-altering back injury.

And yet through it all, Ted Kennedy persevered. Through much adversity, he continued to be an effective legislator. His virtues as a hardworking senator, a master at bipartisan negotiation, one who loved his family, a compassionate voice for social justice and champion of working people were often overlooked.

In a column he wrote for Newsweek, “The Cause of My Life,” an article reflecting his enduring goal of universal healthcare, he said that the cost of healthcare reform inaction will be greater over the next decade than the cost of reform itself, and millions more will become uninsured or underinsured; that in other advanced nations, everyone has insurance and health outcomes are equal or better than ours; that inaction would threaten the health of Americans as well as undermine our ability to compete and succeed in the global economy; that universal healthcare legislation would end our disgrace as the only major industrialized nation not guaranteeing healthcare for all of its people; that in his illness he has relied on his congressional insurance, saying “I have never had to worry whether I could afford my care and treatment.”

During his illness, he had thought as never before what universal healthcare would mean to others, and that there is a need to “create a system to ensure someday, when there is a cure for the disease I now have, no American who needs it will be denied.”

Conversely, with the election of Scott Brown, voters in Massachusetts denounced Ted Kennedy’s dream of universal healthcare. Ted Kennedy’s cause apparently has for now passed away with him. But just perhaps his dream and the dream of so many Americans who need universal healthcare will subliminally persist and surface again sometime in the future.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Fallacy of the Misean Vision

Llewellyn Rockwell expresses his paleolibertarian vision in his essay Imagining Liberty: The Misean Vision. In it, he expresses a world vision that would be most beneficial to man. A vision where apparently liberty can only be achieved within a free market economy. He claims the healthcare problem is a result of intervention, as if government is responsible for humanity’s cupidity.

The kind of world I envision is significantly different from Lee Rockwell. My vision does not acknowledge a money-based economy. It’s a moneyless world where war, politics, profit, and any need for compensation would not exist. Unarguably, that is the kind of world that would be most beneficial for humankind. Arguably, the problem is how do we get there. Americans pride themselves on creativity and innovation, and over time that pride can change our perspectives, ideas and attitudes, hopefully evolving to that kind of world.

A moneyless world is an idea. But sometimes ideas become theories, and sometimes they light the way to reality.

Rockwell says in his essay, and of which I agree:

“… society contains within itself the capacity for self-management, and there is nothing that government can do to improve on the results of the voluntary association, exchange, creativity, and choices of every member of the human family.”

“… the greatest guarantor of liberty is an entire population that is a relentless and daily threat to the regime precisely because they embrace this dream of liberty.”

“Sometimes thinking the unthinkable, saying the unsayable, teaching the unteachable, is what makes the difference between bondage and sweet liberty.”

“Freedom is the greatest gift that you can give yourself, and give all of humanity.”

However, the only way to authentic freedom is to eliminate the burden and coercive power of money. This is the one criterion that Lew Rockwell, Ludwig von Mises, Murray N. Rothbard, other libertarians, and philosophers, have overlooked, and therein lays the fallacy of their advocation: money management is not a solution to humanity’s problems it is the cause.

A moneyless society, which would be a free and classless society, is what will achieve liberty. For money creates the greatest obstacle to obtaining the greatest human potential. Humanity does contain the capacity for self-management. And, neither government nor money can improve on the benefit of voluntary association and creativity.

Freeing the obstacles requires new ways of thinking -- as Lew Rockwell said, “Sometimes thinking the unthinkable.”

Philosophically, a moneyless society embodies liberalism as well as libertarianism. It would be a social arrangement that insists on civil liberties and promotes social progress. A society founded on probity and liberty. One that is tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others, and one that progressively searches for new ideas without compensation.

A moneyless society embodies libertarian thinkers like Henry David Thoreau, but rejects the objectivist libertarianism of the likes of Ayn Rand.

Moreover, in consideration of a moneyless society, liberalism and libertarianism may be arguable but nonetheless moot: they lack meaning in a moneyless society. Such a society would be an egalitarian society, yes, but not socialism; socialism, to be definable, incorporates in its meaning the exchange of money for goods and services.

Additionally, for the world’s survival, we need to achieve on the Kardashev scale a type III civilization by not being hindered by the cost of resources but only by their availability, and by employing full utilization of all those resources, which would be available to all people.

Authentic freedom, progress and prosperity, can only be achieved through self-determination and independence from the powerful influences of money. Influences that today are exemplified by political partisanship.