Sunday, April 13, 2014

Anarchy


Anarchy, noun: "The absence or denial of governmental authority or established order"

That's what most of us think of when the term is mentioned.  Total chaos.  There is, however, an alternate definition that is also found in the dictionary:

"A Utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government".

This is the definition favored by the Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street types.  The problem is, it's false.  Not the dictionary definition, but the reality behind it.  I got sent on this train of thought after a couple of interactions on Twitter this past week (yes, I know, the Bundy Ranch is bigger news right now.  I'll write about that after I've had time to digest some of the facts involved.  It's still pretty murky right now.)  One young lady despaired that "you conservatives" can't leave people alone.  "Why can't you let people do what they want to?  Who cares what other's do?", while a young(?) man had posted a couple Tweets extolling the virtues of anarchy and those tweets had garnered some few retweets and favs, indicating at least some agreement with his ideals.  Disturbed by this, I decided to work on this post and cross-post it to Twitter.  Maybe someone will read this and actually look into the reality behind the Utopian illusion.

The very idea of a Utopia goes all the way back to Plato's Republic, although I doubt many have even heard of the philosophy, much less actually read the work.  Instead, they take to heart what they assume to be the ideals: equal rights for all (men, women, either or neither), everyone shares equally in the bounty produced by the society, everyone's needs are provided for and no one faces the insecurity of the future.  It makes a very pretty picture, indeed.

There is a very great shock waiting for most who actually read Plato's words and see just how "fair" and "just" his Utopian society really would be.

To dramatize the difference, I've crafted the following conversation between an advocate of anarchy and an advocate of a system of rule by law (For those of you who know the reference, it may help to imagine the dialog in the voices of Mr. Hand, and Jeff Spicoli, from Fast Times at Ridgemont High):

Come on, man!  All your rules and stuff are keeping us down.  Isn't this supposed to be a free country?  We can do what we want!

What is it that you find so appealing about anarchy, Mr. Spicoli?  Don't you think we need rules?  Don't we need society?

Oh, no way, man!  Society is just a way for the man to keep the little guys down.  Everyone is equal!  Nobody has the right to tell someone else what to do.

Well, what would happen if everyone just stopped doing what they were supposed to do and just did whatever they wanted?

That would be sooo cool!  Everyone would be free to do what they wanted and they'd be happy.  If they wanted to spend the day surfing and partying at night?  Hey, bud, let's party!

Where would you get the things for the party?  You know, the beer and munchies?  Someone has to make that stuff.

Aww, there's plenty of that stuff!  The stores are full of it.  You're just letting yourself stay boxed in to the old ways, man.  You've got to get out and live a little!

Well, wait a minute.  If you don't work at a job, how are you going to buy what you want?  You're not just going to take it, are you?

Why not?  Those rich guys made all their money from me in the first place!  They've got plenty of money.  They can afford to give that stuff away now.  I have the right to the same stuff they've got!  They're no better than anyone else.  If they're too selfish to share, I have a right to take what I need.

Don't they have the right to keep what they earn?

They have more than they need.  They're just greedy pigs trying to keep the rest of us from having a decent life.

How are you going to get them to give it to you?  You don't think you can just walk up to their front door and demand they give you their stuff, do you?  What will you do when they refuse?

Have you looked around, man?  There are a lot more of us than there are them.  We have the power to take whatever we want.

And how are you going to stop someone else from taking what they want away from you?  Wait a minute!  "We"?  I thought you were an anarchist?  Why do you now say that "we" can take whatever "we" want?

<whispering>The man has no idea what's waiting for them.  We are an army!  An invisible army just waiting to sweep aside the old and bring in the New Order.

An army, huh?  Congratulations!  You've just created society.  Isn't your "army" going to have a leader?  Isn't he going to be "telling you what to do"?

You don't understand, man.  You'll never get it.  That's just until all you rich guys that have been hogging all the good stuff get yours and we finally get our fair share!  After that, we'll all be free to live as equals.  Everyone will finally have the good life they deserve.  Maybe we'll make the rich guys work for us!  Yeah!  It's only fair that they find out what it's like to work for nothing.

And so it goes.  In the movie, Mr. Hand and Spicoli do end up coming to a meeting of the minds over, of all things, the words of the founding fathers.  There is no such meeting of the minds possible with the advocates of anarchy.  They refuse to see the reality that Utopian society not only doesn't exist, but is impossible as they claim to envision it.  For those who haven't read it, in a nutshell, Plato's Republic is a society in which every function is mandated and controlled by a small group of elites who have the power to segregate society as they see fit.  The people are placed in a class structure more absolute than anything coming out of the caste system in India or the system or aristocracy in old Europe.  ALL aspects of life are predetermined for you by these elites.  From where you will live, to what you will eat, to what your life's work will be......even the choice of who, and whether, you will marry and procreate with are solely at the discretion of your overlords.  Not sounding so much like the "society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government" now, is it?

The only one's who advocate for anarchy are the useful idiots who don't truly understand it and those who desire to become their future masters.




 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What Would You Do?

A few weeks ago I posted The End of the World as I Knew It.  And it got me thinking about how my world, and my thoughts about it, have changed over the years.

A few years ago, shortly before I began this blog, I gained a renewed interest in self-education, especially in the realm of politics, individual rights and personal responsibilities due to my increasing awareness of just how much my country had changed (or been changed).

We used to have clearly defined (and more or less agreed upon) standards of public behavior.  We used to have clear ideas of the roles of the sexes in American family life that, with minor exceptions, worked well for all.  i.e. men were men and women were women (and the role of each was essential and valued).

The ultimate result of such near-universal societal understanding was a more or less stable, productive society.  Even where improper, immoral or illegal behavior was commonplace (the mob, for example) there was at least the acknowledgment that the behavior was wrong, even by the perpetrators.  Not so now.

Aberration used to be looked at askance, now it is celebrated as "diversity" and any criticism is deemed "judgemental".  The morals of the past have had their place usurped by the immorality of "situational ethics".  One example is the shift from the disparagement of those who refuse to work for their sustenance and instead rely on handouts to an attitude of false "compassion" and demands that those who choose productive work be saddled with ever-higher taxes and fees to compensate the freeloaders;  and the shift from admiration for the self-made man to disdain for honest work and downright hostility towards men (and women) of achievement.

People once made every effort to avoid going "on the dole", now people are actively looking for ways to get in line and sink their snouts in the public trough and are proud when they achieve their objective of gain without effort.

Government was created to safeguard the rights, privileges and immunities of the individual citizen.  Government is now the single greatest threat to those freedoms, often acting directly against it's chartered responsibilities in the name of  the "common good" and the "general welfare".

We used to be a society that encouraged productive work and discouraged sloth; a society that upheld a proper system of ethics, a code of proper public behavior that included respect for the rights of the individual; a society that scorned those who demanded the "right" to flout those ethics, intentionally act to disrupt the public peace for no other reason than their own amusement and demanded that their desires be met at the expense of the violation of another's rights; a society that provided it's young people with proper role models to help them develop their own identities as adult men and women, both the positive example of the successful businessman/-woman and the negative examples of the derelict and the bum in the gutter.  At least, until such was determined by Progressives to be unfair, unkind, even "unChristian" and called for greater tolerance of aberration  and deviancy.

Results?

We have spawned generations of young people, boys and girls, who have no firm foundation to base their identities on.  If a boy is "too macho" he is castigated for his supposed insensitivity.  If a girl is "too girly" she is warned that her behavior is detrimental to the cause of female liberation and contributing to the stereotype that a woman's place is in the home "barefoot & pregnant".  Boys and girls used to have periodic breaks in their school day to allow for physical activity.  Such helped to maintain physical and mental fitness.  Now, because children sometimes skin their knees, recess is largely banned (it's easier on the teachers not to have to stand outside supervising) in favor of structured activities and quiet "play time" within the classroom.  The girls easily adapted, the boys had to be (and were) drugged into compliance with the teachers' wishes for obedience and order.  Common sense had informed teachers for centuries that boys and girls were different; modern day intellectuals dispensed with that notion as old-fashioned and promoted (enforced) the idiom that gender differences were irrelevant.  Boys can no longer be boys, unless it's the quiet, easily controlled, effeminate type that teachers (mostly female) approve of and girls never learn to appreciate the differences between male/female and, as a result, both sexes are unable to cope with these differences when they come roaring out during puberty.  Both boys and girls are poorly served by such policies.  It's no wonder that so many of our young men seem unable to cope with their feelings, control their impulses, or truly understand what it means to be a "man", while our young girls don't understand their own importance as the primary educators and nurturers of the next generation and, by extension, their role as the "keepers of the keys" to the future.

We have, since the turn of the 20th century, enabled an ever growing and increasingly intrusive federal government to claim power & authority outside the scope of it's constitutional limits at the expense of our once-broad inalienable rights of life, liberty, property & the pursuit of our own individual happiness.  The once primary individual right to private property ownership and the disposition of such at our discretion has been severely circumscribed by the doctrine of "eminent domain", which gives all real rights of ownership to whichever government agency can convince a court that a certain use is contrary to the public good, or that confiscation serves some vague notion of municipal purpose.

I could go on (and on and on and on and.......) but this post is going to be epic enough as it stands.  So let's get to it.

What if I were "King"?

Firstly, there's no chance of getting back to a truly limited government within my remaining lifetime.  It's taken about 150 years of Progressive indoctrination to bring the freest country on the planet down to it's current state.  Given that reversing the tide will take at least as long (likely much longer, given the entrenched special interests and their power brokers), the following agenda will need to be taken up by successive generations of like-minded, freedom loving citizens.  But it's a start:

Article V Convention of the States

I'd advocate a much broader agenda than I've yet seen proposed.  Most only think of this approach to amending the constitution as an avenue to bringing about a balanced budget amendment, something I'm ambiguous about (after all, government needs the flexibility to borrow and spend on contingencies, just the same as a family sometimes needs the flexibility of a credit card to cope with unexpected car repairs, a leaky roof, etc.)  If I were in charge, I'd propose several amendments affirming and strengthening the Bill of Rights and specifically enshrining an individual's right to personal property, and the use thereof, as immune to government interference, save in cases of actual criminal activity.  I'd further propose an amendment requiring that ALL government officials be the first obligated by any new law, statute, regulation or policy that comes out of Congress or any government agency.  In short, no more "do as I say, not as I do".

Restructuring Government

That latter should be made much easier by the elimination of several extra-constitutional agencies now exerting authority over our lives.  EPA: Gone.  DOJ: limited to oversight of the federal & district court system and to settling disputes between the states.  SCOTUS: Tasked with applying questions of law to the Constitution as written and understood by the framers and the ratifying parties.  No more "interpreting" the Constitution in light of modern day "realities".  If the Constitution needs updating, the framers provided 2 avenues for doing such, neither of which is judicial fiat.  All justices will be required to affirm by oath their fidelity to the Constitution and to rely solely on the founding documents of this country in settling disputes.  Violation of this oath will be grounds for impeachment and dismissal from the bench.  Questions of American domestic jurisprudence are only subject to American criminal and civil statutes as written, uncontaminated by the laws of any other nation or ethnic tradition. NLRB: Out.  Reinstatement of the freedom of contract is essential to a free economy and the aforementioned right to property (a man has a property in himself and his marketable skills just as much as in any physical object).  Individuals still retain the right to form voluntary unions in order to get the best deal for their labor, but business owners are no longer required to bargain with the union if they determine it to be counter to the long term interests of the company.  Workers who are unhappy with such an arrangement have the freedom to assemble themselves into a consortium and start their own business in competition with their former employer, if they wish.  Elimination of federal regulations also means an elimination of the barriers to entry erected by government at the behest of and to the advantage of established concerns.  The so-called minimum wage will gradually be eliminated.  Mandatory increases in the costs of labor have only served to raise the cost of finished product (and, by extension, the overall costs of living) and to prevent some from ever getting on the first rung of the ladder of success.  Any unnecessary government body, as defined by their inclusion or omission in the Constitution will be eliminated.  This list includes, but is not limited to, FEMA, Dept of Education, DEA, FDA, Dept of the Interior (all government-owned property not expressly needed for the fulfillment of the proper functions of government will be sold to private citizens/organizations), the Fed, SS, FDIC, SEC, DOT, HHS.  All functions eliminated from federal jurisdiction will be relegated to the individual states, to be adopted as they and their citizens decide.

Eliminate Governmental Welfare

This includes all forms of transfer payments, corporate as well as private.  This is the one alteration that will take the longest to implement, as it must be preceded by a re-education of the public as to the proper functions of government and a re-instilling of the traditional American work ethic.  There will be no special treatment of different types of income.  As long as taxation is the government's means of funding it's proper obligations ALL income needs to be accounted the same.  For too long, the government has used manipulation of the tax code to control business activity and investment, as well as personal economic activity.  On the private side, I advocate for a complete repeal of the New Deal and Great Society programs.  The War on Poverty has been an abject failure, despite trillions of dollars in transfer payments over several decades.  All these programs have done is increase dependence and encourage the atrophy of marketable skills and ambition.  Prior to the New Deal, there were an abundance of privately financed charities in every city and community in the country (in the late 19th century it took 100 pages to list all of the charities operating in NYC), as well as neighborhood churches seeing to the needs of the truly needy and the indigent.  Such a system can once again provide for the temporary needs of Americans who fall on hard times and the permanent needs of those few truly  unable to provide for themselves.

Abolish the IRS

The IRS has become the most powerful and feared of all of the arms of government.  They are largely unaccountable and immune to censure.  They are a power unto themselves:  they write regulations that have the force of law, they prosecute violations of those regulations and sit in judgement of any disputes.  They have the right to violate the Bill of Rights with impunity.  They can (and do) confiscate assets, freeze bank accounts, shutter businesses, garnish an employee's wages and imprison business owners on simply their own allegation of wrong-doing.  They don't have to prove you guilty of a crime; you have to prove yourself innocent.  A complete reversal of the axiom of  "innocent until proven guilty".  The IRS would be replaced by a simple-to-implement flat tax.  Current estimates of the rate necessary to be "revenue neutral" range from 15% to 20%.  However, with the elimination of much of the federal government's over-reaching bureaucracy, I would anticipate that the federal income flat tax rate could be perhaps as low as 10%.  This tax would apply to all private income.  No exemptions, no deductions, no "refundable tax credits".  If you make $10,000 your tax is $1000 for the year.  If you make $10,000,000 you pay $1,000,000.  This would be an incentive for people to better themselves and work to gain a foothold in the middle class, since increased income would no longer be met with an ever-increasing (even punitive) rate of taxation.  If you earn more, you get to keep more.  If you get to keep more, you can afford a better standard of living for yourself and your family.  In recognition that corporations pass all costs of doing business along to the end consumer, the corporate tax rate will be zero.  The proper function of the IRS will be akin to that of a high school algebra teacher:  they'll check your math for errors and omissions.

Education

With the elimination of federal control over education, state and local municipalities will bear responsibility for the proper education of their children in the skills and arts their parent's deem appropriate.  I would like to see a return to the establishment of trade schools, as an option for students who either show no aptitude for post-secondary studies or who do show a particular aptitude and interest for occupations in the physical sciences, such as plumbing, construction, electrical processes, animal husbandry, agriculture, etc.  The trade schools would ideally be funded and staffed by the trades themselves, without need for "certification" by some government body.  The proof of the expertise of the instructor will be evident in the results  of their students.  Think of it as a corporate "farm system" where businessmen could help develop future employees in the skills they need, not the skills some government bureaucrat thinks are going to be needed.  Primary and Secondary education would be funded as, and from such sources, as the community agrees proper, with private tutors providing more intensive instruction in specific subjects as needed.

Property Rights

People will be allowed the right to gain, hold and dispose of private property as they see fit, excepting only that the exercise of such rights do not run afoul of another's rights to the same.  i.e.  You would not be allowed to open a smelting operation next door to a family farm if it could be established that doing so would negatively impact that neighbor's rights to enjoyment of his property or to negatively impact his right to full use of his property, either through potential pollution of runoff or the noise of the operation.  In such a case, industrial use of the property would properly be excluded, or limited to a voluntary agreement between the parties on a plan of compensation.  In either event, the only role of the state would be to certify that such an agreement was made without duress and to ensure the provisions of the contract are upheld.  No one not directly involved or impacted by the decisions would have standing to interfere (no lawsuits brought by some activist group in California to prevent a development in Louisiana, for example).

Currency

It's obvious to all that the development of fiat currencies has played a large role in the increasing cost of living in the modern world and that most, if not all, countries engage in some type of currency manipulation to their benefit or another's disadvantage.  I would ban all fiat currency and order a return to sound money.  Specifically, precious metals.  Under the Constitution, the power to create currency (coinage) lies exclusively with Congress.  Let them reassume their duties and eliminate the Federal Reserve.  Going to pure coinage is impractical at this time.  With the inflation of the nominal currencies there simply isn't enough gold, silver or platinum in existence to be able to convert our entire economy to pure coinage.  What is possible, however, is for Congress to mandate a certain grade acceptable for the minting of legal tender.  Perhaps using 10k or 14k gold instead of 24k and silver coinage of 75% content.  Studies could determine the most efficient compromise and we could get back to a real system of sound money that would be largely immune to manipulation by the federal government.  This could also limit inflation to the levels commonly seen prior to the establishment of the Fed in the early 1900's.  Going to a sound money economy would also bolster American standing and economic power in the world, making us a much more desirable market and leading to a likely influx of foreign investment and a positive balance sheet on our international ledger.

Gay rights?  There ain't none.

One of the greatest affronts to common sense by Progressives has been the proliferation of the so-called "rights" of certain segments of society.  "Gay rights" doesn't make any more sense than "heterosexual rights".  Would anyone applaud the promotion of "white rights"?  Of course not.  Yet we see and hear politicians and activists proclaiming the need to "protect the 'rights' of minorities".  No single segment of society has any rights separable from, or superior to, another.  To quote from our founders: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...".  This was further codified in the Constitution by Amendment, proclaiming that all citizens are entitled to equal protection under the law.  Equal protection.  Not special privileges based on perceived disadvantages or the favoritism of the political winds of the day.  Equal.  All misnamed "anti-discrimination" laws will be nullified.  People have the inherent right of free association, any governmental interference with that right is a misuse of it's authority.

The 2nd Amendment

Being seen by the founders as 2nd in importance only to the freedom of speech & religious expression, the right of a peaceful citizenry to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.  If you aren't a convicted felon or an individual with a documented history of violence against others, you are free to arm yourself as you deem necessary; you are allowed to possess whatever weapons you desire, for whatever purpose.  If you decide that you have a need for a handgun for personal protection, sport shooting, as a collector, or "just because", fine.  "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."  No one has the right to limit your Constitutional rights without cause and due process of law, thus, no state will be allowed to interfere with an individual's decision to exercise his/her 2nd Amendment rights.  The right to carry (open or concealed) will be national.  One important caveat:  since the 2nd Amendment's right to keep and bear arms is of American Constitutional provision, it will apply ONLY to legal citizens of the United States.  Foreign nationals and visitors to this country will not be allowed to carry weapons.

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In brief, all of the above are examples of a society that takes as it's basic assumption the sovereignty of the individual.  In the founder's discussions of what form the new government should take there was much discussion of the "natural state of man" and of "natural law".  It was determined that man, left to his own devices, had the absolute right to all aspects of his life; he had the right to make his way as he decided, he had the right to determine whether he had been unjustly treated and to address such treatment as he chose.  While this was acknowledged to be true, the founders also acknowledged that such behavior by a large population was nothing more than anarchy.  Certainly, it was no way to run a free society in which the rights of every individual are protected from infringement.  Thus, they came to the following modification of Natural Law:  whenever any individual freely chooses to become part of a greater whole (society) they must agree to surrender some part of their rights under Natural Law to the governing body of that society.  That is the origin of the governmental monopoly on the initiation of the use of force.  If you join a society, you agree to surrender your right to "take the law into your own hands" to government in return for the protection of your rights by the society as a whole.  Meaning that all of the resources of the society (city, state, or nation) are brought to bear to protect the individual's rights, giving much greater security to his life than if he had to see to his own protection.  This also infers the corollary, that whenever one acts outside of that society, or refuses to join with them, he forgoes and has no claim to the protection of that society should he be threatened and that the very resources the society uses to protects it's citizens can and may be used to prosecute their claim against any action he may make against one of their own.

The individual IS sovereign.  As sovereigns, we have all agreed to limit ourselves to be subject to such laws as the society we have joined may deem necessary and have an obligation to adhere to such.  A proper government has the lightest touch on it's people while maintaining sufficient strength to fulfill it's primary obligation to protect them from outside aggression.  Anything else is properly left up to us, as sovereign individuals, free men and women.

That's the world I would build, "If I Were King".

What would you do?