Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Consider the Humble Pencil

In 1958, Leonard E. Read published an article titled,
I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read.  This short story very succinctly describes what Read calls the "miracle of ...millions of tiny know-hows" that go into producing something as simple as a pencil. It has become a classic amongst proponents of free markets.  The actual article can be read here.

What is this miraculous process?  There is the harvesting of the cedar wood used to make the body of the pencil and all of the tools, transportation, housing and food for workers, etc. that are required for this seemingly simple task.  The graphite that is mined in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka), mixed with clay from Mississippi, acid, tallow and other ingredients to make the "lead" of the pencil, with all of the background tools processes, and requirements. Not to mention the rubber for the eraser, the metal for the ferrule, and the lacquer to paint the wood.

All-in-all, millions of people, all with their own skills and knowledge, their know-hows, are involved in the production of something as mundane as a pencil.  
"I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that's too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple."
How can a pencil represent such an important concept as to be important to our very liberty?  It is in understanding the concept that the process of making something so simple takes so many millions of voluntary interactions between people spread across the world.  That all of these processes could never be planned, let alone controlled by one person, group or even government...and this one of the simplest of items.  How then can the central planners of government think they can control whole industries?  Economies?  The climate?  They cannot.
"Once government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: Each one acknowledges that he himself doesn't know how to do all the things incident to mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation's mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. Now, in the absence of faith in free people—in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity—the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental 'master-minding.'"
But, since 1958, it has been more than proven that the government is grossly inept at delivering the mail.  Companies like FedEx, UPS and others have proven that private firms can bring innovation and efficiencies to the process and allows them to turn a tidy profit.  The US Postal Service would have been defunct years ago if it weren't subsidized by taxpayers.  And this is just one of thousands of areas where government is completely inept.  Yet we continue to believe that they know best.  We continue to allow them to control us.  And this, more than anything else, threatens our liberty.

The video below is a great six minute coverage of all of the concepts from the article...with great graphics in living color.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Nature of Meddling

Just a personal observation:

Too many "conservatives" are quick to decry government meddling in domestic economy and affairs, while backing meddling in foreign affairs.
Too many "liberals" are quick to decry government meddling in foreign affairs, while backing meddling in domestic economics and affairs.
We must realize that it is two sides of the same coin.  The issue is too much power in the hands of too few, corruptible people...people who think they know better than all of the masses of the world.  People driven by the power motive.  You cannot have a powerful government in one form of meddling and not in the other.  The answer is less government!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Can you handle the truth?

"History is written by victors." 
~ Winston Churchill

Too many of us believe that the history we have been taught in school or through other outlets of our culture is a collection of facts.  We think of it as more science than art.  Sure, there may be facts we haven't uncovered yet, just as there may be unknown sub-atomic elements that science has not discovered, but when we do, it will just be another addition to the table of known facts we already have.

This may be stated a little too strongly, but I don't think it is too far from true.  This belief, however, is very naive and does not take simple human prejudices into account.  It only takes a very simple thought exercise to realize how this works in practicality.   Think for example of how the people of Japan may think of the dropping of the atomic bomb compared to how Americans view it.  Or how the people of the southern states may have viewed the war between the states as compared to those from the north.  Even now as you think of these examples, you can't help but think that you know the truth about these events.  But do you?  Could it possibly be that you may be a victim of your own prejudices?

And what of Churchill's assertion that victors are the ones who write the history?  Do you find it hard to believe that in the former Soviet Union, or perhaps Mao's China, the official history of those countries and the greatness of their leaders might have been a bit...skewed?  I remember in the cold war years of my childhood the jokes on television where a stereotypical Russian character would say of some wonderful, obviously American invention, "We had it first.  Russia invented that." This was a comedic acknowledgement that in the USSR, people were propagandized that Mother Russia was the most wonderful, advanced nation on earth.  I recently heard the story of how, in an attempt to further show their supremacy over the West, Soviet leaders allowed the movie The Grapes of Wrath to be shown in theaters.  They sought to show their people how bad things were in American in this depiction of Depression-era migrant workers.  The plan backfired, however, when Russian audiences were amazed that even poor Americans had automobiles.

But what about in America?  Are we immune to such biases and purposeful manipulations?  Well, almost from the beginning of our country, people have, let's say sought to direct the narrative to their own benefit.  Our second president, John Adams complained bitterly after his retirement that the Republican supporters of Thomas Jefferson were guilty of spreading a revisionist account of the founding and elevating Jefferson's role above that of himself.  Joseph J. Ellis, in his book Founding Brothers relates that,
"Despite his brave posturings of nonchalance and indifference, Adams was, in fact, obsessed with Jefferson's growing reputation as one of the major figures of the age.  As Adams remembered it, Jefferson had played a decidedly minor role in the Continental Congress.  While he, John Adams, was delivering fiery speeches that eventually moved their reluctant colleagues to make the decisive break with England, Jefferson lingered in the background like a shy schoolboy... Now, however, because of the annual celebration on July 4, the symbolic significance of the Declaration of Independence was looming larger in the public memory, blotting out the messier, but more historically correct version of the story, transforming Jefferson from a secondary character to a star player in the drama."   
We know, for example, that Abraham Lincoln used iron-fisted tactics to suppress any dissenting opinions in the press of the time.  We know that our government used Hollywood and the press as full blown propaganda ministries to support the correct public perception of the World Wars and Korea.  And the examples go on and on.

Why does it matter?  Well, history should indeed be a collection of facts.  But when, through either bias or cynical, deliberate manipulation, the truth of the facts are distorted, they can be used to garner support for everything from ill-conceived domestic policies to immoral and illegal wars.  The truth matters and we cannot leave the telling of the truth to politicians and bureaucrats.
The truth matters and we cannot leave the telling of the truth to politicians and bureaucrats.
In 1850, Frederic Bastiat wrote,  "This is the way an opinion gains acceptance in France. Fifty ignoramuses repeat in chorus some absurd libel that has been thought up by an even bigger ignoramus; and, if only it happens to coincide to some slight degree with prevailing attitudes and passions, it becomes a self-evident truth."  This is as true today in America, with our 24/7 news cycles and social media, as it was in Bastiat's time...maybe more so.

We must be willing to challenge our long-held and inherited beliefs about history.  We need to face the possibility that what we have always known might not be the whole truth, but only what the victors want us to know.  In this modern age, though, the truth is out there to be discovered and acted upon.  You just have to care enough to find it.  But, as Jeff Riggenbach of the Mises Institute says, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. The horse has to want a drink. The American electorate has to want the truth about American history. Too many Americans don't want the truth...any truth. What they want is mythology that will confirm their prejudices."

What about you?  Can you handle the truth?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Myths You Probably Believe

"It aint what people know that causes trouble...it's what they know that ain't so."
It is an interesting phenomenon to me how people can hold so tightly, fiercely even, to beliefs for which they have no basis for belief to which they can point, other than they have just always believed them, or it's what they have been told, or in many cases, they just want to believe them.  Wanting something to be true, however, does not make it true.  Being told they are true also does not make them true...and when it comes to truth, unfortunately, there is no safety in numbers.  Just because "everybody knows" something to be true, also does not automatically make it so.  It has been proven over and over that "the masses" can easily be fooled.

Belief in some myths are harmless and even a little bit fun.  Believing in Bigfoot or a nocturnal, molar-collecting sprite is harmless.  But particularly disturbing to me are the myths people cling to about government...many of which I have believed myself in the past.  These myths are troubling because they are created and perpetuated by the very government system that are the topics of the myths.  The very people who wish to wield power and control over our lives have, through government controlled schools, a sycophantic press, and bold face lies spread falsehoods about their own effectiveness, good intentions and indispensability, all in an effort to create a compliant citizenry who will never question their power or actions.

My path to recovering the truth, I am a recovering Neo-Con, began with simply being open to question my own beliefs and through reading history.  I began to see that much of what I thought I knew was, in fact, distortions at best and in many cases, complete fabrications.  I saw that it is not a matter of party, Republican or Democrat, since they were just two sides of the same coin.  Both parties, on the whole, are populated by statist, central-planning power mongers.  It was not even a matter of Right and Left, for many things I once believed as a rightist neo-con, I now reject.  It is, rather, a matter of truth and fact vs. myth and lies.  It is a struggle between liberty and tyranny.

In the video below from a 1977 lecture, Milton Friedman lays out five widely believed, and never-the-less false myths about government.  Are you open to truth?  Can you get past your own closely held myths and truly consider the logic and history of his arguments?  Friedman says early in the video that "Somebody once wrote...a myth is like an air mattress.  There's nothing in it, but it's wonderfully comfortable, and deflation causes an uncomfortable jolt."  Get ready for a needed jolt concerning these five Myths That Conceal Reality:
  1. The Robber Baron Myth
  2. The Great Depression Myth
  3. The Demand for Government Service Myth 
  4. The Free Lunch Myth
  5. The Robin Hood Myth.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Selfish People Suck!

I am personally sick-and-tired of all the selfishness in the United States.  So many today care only about their own comfort and desires, with no concern whatsoever about those around them or their community at large.

Who are these selfish people of whom I speak?  All those who believe that just by the fact of their existence, somebody owes them.  Those who think that just because they live, they have the right to make claims against the fruits of my labor; who have no qualms about having others confiscate what I have earned for my family and my future by threat of force and violence.

People who have not done what I have had to do to get where I am...who haven't gone in debt to get the education they need to find a good paying job...who didn't walk over a mile to where they could hitch a ride to school for this training...those who haven't been careful to make decisions along the way to get the experience they need to advance...who still think they have a right to my labor so that they can have cable TV, a cell phone, cigarettes and beer...these are some of the selfish people of whom I speak. These are the members of the entitlement class.

The other selfish group are those who care only about their own power and position...the ruling class elites.  This group wields the weapons of force to confiscate the fruits of my labor to buy the votes of the entitlement class.  They care little for either the producer or the entitled.  They will do whatever they must to accrue more and more power unto themselves...even to the point of paying for their lust on the backs of generations yet unborn.  They don't care if their policies of ever increasing and irresponsible spending cause future calamity for society, as long as they get the control they crave now.

It is not the producer, who works to provide for himself and his family, who asks nothing of anyone else, who is selfish.  It is not selfish to want to keep hold of what you have worked for...this is a foundational principle upon which our country was based.  The producer does not mind chipping in for basic services that make modern life possible, but they should not be expected to pay for a hugely bloated bureaucracy that seems geared toward squeezing more and more of the juice from the fruits of his labor every year.  He should not be forced to pay for those too short-sighted...or just plain lazy to take care of themselves and their own families.

Whatever the producers pay seems never to be enough for the entitled and the elite.  We are supposed to be happy to endure another tax, or fee hike, "It's for the common good," they say.  And after all, "it's only a few more dollars, what's the big deal?"  But, it's the cumulative effect of a few dollars for this tax, and that tax and the other fee, year after year that has brought the burden on the producer to be more than 50% of most people's income...and still it is not enough.  We are told that we shouldn't be so selfish.  The hubris! The unmitigated gall! No, it is not we, the productive class, who are selfish.  It is the entitled and elite.  Without the producers the whole system collapses under it's own weight...and there are less and less producers and more and more...parasites every year.

This is what I mean about being sick-and-tired...this is who I mean when I say,
Selfish People Suck!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What is Patriotism?

"The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher plain."
George McGovern
I do not believe the definition of patriotism is the unquestioning loyalty and submission to government.  In fact, this may be the opposite of patriotism.  The founding generation were loyal to the people of the colonies and risked their lives to oppose an unjust and tyrannical government structure.  Power truly does corrupt as Lord Acton rightly stated, and the patriotism of the colonists rebelled against corruption of the imperial power that had ruled the affairs of men for hundreds of years.
“The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
James Madison; Federalist No. 47
The founders understood the true nature of patriotism.  They risked their lives, treasure and sacred honor in service to it.  But this patriotism did not seek to replace one ruling class with another.  They saw government only as a necessary evil, as James Madison said, "if men were angels, no government would be necessary."  They purposefully designed a limited and decentralized structure of government to avoid the the tyranny that too much power can bring.  They knew that the people who would seek office themselves would not be angels.  Indeed, Thomas Jefferson stated that,  "The way to have a safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the function he is competent to [perform best]. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with civil rights, laws, police and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with local concerns of the counties, and each ward [township] direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics, from the great national one down through all of its subordinates, until it ends in the administration of every man's farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best."
"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."
George Washington
Many who seek power, though, often attempt to pervert patriotism by arousing strong emotional allegiances to a cause for which they claim leadership.  This can be a movement such as Communism with their call for "Workers of the World, Unite," or nationalism that calls every citizen to rally to the flag.  Nationalistic fervor has undoubtedly caused more death and destruction than any other force in the history of man, especially in the 20th century where millions of patriotic soldiers marched under the flags of Nazi Germany, The Soviet Union, Red China, Fascist Italy, or Imperial Japan...all killing and dying to prop up corrupt and evil central rulers and regimes while being told it was for the Father Land, Mother Land, their country or their honor.  Patriotism, when corrupted to such causes can be a powerful source of evil.  

Even in the United States of America, government often seeks to control us with appeals to patriotism.  We are to march unquestioning to war because the President declares it is in our national interest to do so.  We have been told that fighting in the frozen mountains of Korea or the rain soaked jungles of Viet Nam were somehow protecting our freedom and American way of life here at home.  If you question this logic or the motives of the government, you are labeled a traitor, a radical, or worse.  We are not to question the actions of our wise leaders, and they can just claim national security concerns to avoid any uncomfortable queries.

Even in politics, the parties seek to wrap themselves in the flag through their rhetoric, photo-ops, and sound-bites hoping to prove that they are more patriotic in their policies and power grabs than the other guys.  Seldom do they appeal to the foundational principals of freedom, truth or justice, but instead attempt to whip up populist passions with partisan attacks that only seek to consolidate and solidify their own power base.  Sadly, far too many of our fellow citizens fall for this tactic believing that only a Republican...or a Democrat...or even an Independent can be a "true American."  The citizen feels better in their self-righteous alignment with the right party, but their blind faith only further enslaves them to a ruling class who cynically manipulates them for its own purposes. 
"The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse." 
James Madison  
No, I do not pledge allegiance to a flag as a symbol of nationalism, a corrupt system of bureaucratic inefficiency and waste, or a centralized ruling elite...my allegiance is to the true principles of liberty on which our country was founded and to my countrymen.  I believe that patriotism...true patriotism...protects and defends its fellow citizens from threats from enemies, foreign and domestic.  It should be based not on slogans, symbols or propaganda, but on principles and deep, abiding truth.  It does not elevate any one person, or group above all others, but sees all men as created equal.  And, above all, knowing of the ever present danger of corruption, it is ever suspicious of power and vigilant against abuses.  Patriotism stands against power when that power stands against the welfare of the people.

Our government, as any other government in the world, is not made up of angels.  It has become corrupt and abusive.  We have failed to protect our liberty against the usurpers and do-gooders alike.  It is time to revive our true patriotism to set this right by demanding a return to our founding principles of limited and decentralized government.  Only then can our future be secured and freedom be assured.  Do not be swayed by false appeals to patriotism which props up the establishment ruling elite, but stand firm on the true principles.  This is my definition of patriotism.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
The Declaration of Independence

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Default is Last Resort...Not First!

"The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned." from Section 4 of the 14th Amendment.

Believing that not raising the debt ceiling equals default means that you must believe that every penny the government is now spending is absolutely necessary...that not one penny can be cut.  The 14th Amendment spells out that the legally incurred debt of the United States cannot be questioned...in other words, it is a debt and must be paid.  Defaulting on debt, therefore is the last resort...after all other measures have been exhausted.  In this current "crisis," however, no other measures are being even considered or negotiated by our imperial dictator.

Before we default on debt, we should...must...cut other spending to the point where we can service our current debt.  We can reduce or eliminate discretionary spending.  We could eliminate departments of government that are inefficient, out-dated, corrupt, or unconstitutional...which is most of them.  We can stop maintaining national parks...national public radio.  We can pull out of the United Nations and eliminate that obligation.  We can eliminate federal funding for food stamps, welfare, and socialized medicine.  We can do very many other things that do not affect the rightful and constitutional operation of what is meant to be a very limited Federal government.  But we cannot constitutionally default on our debt.

If the President of the United States willfully defaults on our legal debt, he should be immediately removed from office and possibly imprisoned for breaking federal law.  If our Congress allows him to default, the States, from whom the Federal government gets it's power, must rise up and recall and replace them with those who will live up to the oath of defending the Constitution.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Debt Limit and Default

President Obama is a liar and if HE CAUSES a default, he should immediately be removed from office. Representative Tom McClintock (R- CA) lays out the case that not only does failure to raise the debt limit not equal default, that it would have to be a conscience decision of the President, against the laws of the land, for the country to default.

We must destroy the Imperial Presidency in this country, along with the elitism of the Senate.  We must take back power to the States and the People and return these offices to their constitutionally proscribed limits.


You're not exempt from the math

This is a very simple and unemotional explanation on why Obamacare sucks.  Dave Ramsey does a great job explaining that regardless of how people may want there to be some kind of magic that will allow this monstrosity of a law to work as we were promised it would...you can't escape the simple math of the situation.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Govt Shutdown - Report from Out Here: Day 11

DAY 11:

Okay...I've skipped some days.  But during days 5 - 10 I was going about my business, living my life, working my job...not feeling any real effects at all form the so-called government shutdown.

But then today, I see the real results...how society is beginning to break down.  Criminals are running the streets.  Look at this article and be afraid...be very afraid.