government

Rules for Liberty

Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff

Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff. That’s the philosophy of liberty in a nutshell. Everyone should be free to live their lives as they think best, free from meddling by politicians and government bureaucrats.

To me, the values of liberty just seem like a commonsense way to think about political philosophy. The rules are easily understood, our aspirations for government are modest and practical, and our designs on the lives and behavior of other people are unpresumptuous, even humble. The rules are pretty straightforward because they treat everyone just like everyone else: simply; they are blindly applied like Lady Justice would; across the board. No assembly required.

I am not a moral philosopher and I don’t particularly aspire to be one. That said, I have stayed at more than one Holiday Inn Express. That makes me at least smart enough to know what I don’t know. So the rules that follow represent my not-so-humble attempt to boil down and mash up all the best thinking in all of human history on individualism and civil society, the entire canon of Judeo-Christian teachings, the spontaneous evolution of common law, hundreds of years of English Whig, Scottish Enlightenment, and classical liberal political philosophy, lots of Friedrich Hayek, Adam Smith and Ayn Rand, a smattering of karma, and, like any morally relevant updating of a time-tested ethos, at least a few hat tips to The Big Lebowski. All of this in six convenient “Rules for Liberty.”

Freedom…It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

Last week, the Democrats held their Winter Meeting at the Capital Hilton, where Emperor Obama, Slayer of Insurance Companies, Defender of the Poor (and making more every day), the Duke of Deficits, addressed his faithful assembled minions, dispensing tidbits of propaganda like an imperial Pez dispenser, reeling them in with promises of endless supplies of government candy, assuring them it is oh so good for them.

Obama declared that “[a]s Democrats, we’ve let the other side define the word ‘freedom’ for too long…freedom for ordinary Americans to honestly pursue their dreams, that’s what we believe.” He went on to define freedom as the power of government to protect you from any adverse circumstance that may arise in your life, and as the ability for government to provide for your health care, your retirement, food, housing, and so on and so forth.

To quote the inimitable Inigo Montoya, the glorious Spaniard from one of my all time favorite movies, The Princess Bride…Mr. Obama, “You keep using that word [freedom]…I do not think it means what you think it means!’” What Obama is describing is not freedom; it is lifelong dependency on the gargantuan Nanny State, with promises of cradle-to-grave nurturing no matter how irresponsible the decisions you make in your life. Of course, the only way for government to protect you from your own mistakes is by forcing others to pay the price for you. Every action has a consequence, and just because you don’t suffer does not mean that someone does not suffer. Someone has to pay the piper. There is no free lunch.

Shutdown illustrates how government views the nation

If you’re a federal employee impacted by the shutdown, then I’m sure you know how much things like this suck.  After all, you were hired to do a job, and right now, you can’t.  I understand that completely.  However, as bad as the shutdown is for you, the shutdown has done one important thing.  It’s shown us just how much power Uncle Sam believes it has.

In an effort to make the shutdown hurt as much as possible, we’ve seen barricades at the World War II Memorial, an open air memorial that maintains no staff.  The same is true of the Lincoln Memorial and other statues and memorials throughout the nation.  Mt. Rushmore is not only closed, but also closed viewing areas so that you can’t even look at the memorial.

They’ve spent money they don’t have to close down things that wouldn’t have cost them a dime to keep open.  This apparently includes parts of the Atlantic Ocean (for the record though, you can boat through it.  You just can’t fish or drop anchor).

“So what,” you might ask.  It is federal territory, after all, and they are shut down.  It may be ridiculous, but why is this an example of how government looks down on us all.  Well, probably because the federal government is also trying to shut down state parks that receive just a bit of federal funding.

Hillary says we must trust our Government

David Fayram (CC)

Hillary Clinton is starting a whirlwind tour to promote the concept of trusting the government, and touting the merits of transparency in government. While it might be very tempting to consider this a really ironic punchline of a joke, that’s really what the former Secretary of State is doing.

On a practical level, it does make some sense that Hillary would consider it necessary to restore the nation’s faith in its government. As to whether or not she really “gets” why she is absolutely the wrong person to attempt to deliver that message will undoubtedly remain a mystery. Yes, it is very likely that detractors from the right will regularly lampoon her with comments including her infamous statement on Benghazi - “What difference does it make?” That will be enjoyable in the short term, but given the nature of the public and mainstream media, it is foolish to expect that will be enough to defuse her attempts to lie her way to a reasonable chance at seating herself in the Oval Office.

Make no mistake, that is exactly what this tour is about. It has nearly nothing to do with its stated aim. Hillary will be out there making it clear that while she’s somewhat the same as her former boss, she isn’t for the cloak and dagger activities of this administration that have been called “phony scandals” in an attempt to keep them out of the public eye. If that isn’t her gameplan, then she really doesn’t have any intention of running in 2016.

Obama Upset that Americans Distrust Government

“[I]f people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and Rule of Law, then we’re going to have some problems here.” — Barack Obama

Those words were uttered by Obama recently in response to the unfolding scandal surrounding the revelation that the NSA is collecting data on every American, and I have to agree with him. If we can’t trust our very own government, made up of elected officials who have taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic; and if we can’t trust the army of bureaucrats employed by government to execute these laws and policies, then we do indeed have a problem.

And for all of those Americans currently engaged in weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, who are acting as if this monitoring of the private thoughts of every American is somehow sinister and unconstitutional, who “…warn that tyranny [is] always lurking just around the corner”, as Obama said to the students at Ohio State University; well, as Obama also said “You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”

And why shouldn’t we trust our government? It’s not like the NSA (National Security Agency) has been collecting data on virtually every phone call, text message, email, internet search, Facebook post, and pretty much all other forms of digital communication used by more than 300 million Americans.

Seven Steps to Restore Prosperity

The good news about our economy is that it hasn’t been struck down by some mysterious act of God. Acts of Government plague our nation – and acts of Government are entirely within our power to change.

Today I will not recite the dismal statistics behind the failed economic policies of this administration, nor the reasons why these policies have failed. The current Presidential campaign has plenty of that, and the fact is that every single American already knows the answer to Ronald Reagan’s simple question: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago.”

Today, I would instead like to look ahead to what the 113th Congress and the 45th President of the United States must do if we are to restore prosperity to this country.

I’d like to outline seven measures that I believe are absolutely essential to repair our economy and restore America as the most prosperous and productive nation in the world.

FIRST AND FOREMOST – IT’S THE SPENDING, STUPID.

Unless and until we dramatically reduce federal spending and the accompanying tax and debt burden, government will continue crowding out private capital and destroying job creation.

Three numbers tell the story very nicely: 39, 32 and 82. Thirty-nine percent is the rate of inflation and population growth combined over the last ten years between 2002 and 2012. Thirty-two percent is the growth rate of revenue in the same period – despite the tax cuts and the recession. Not quite keeping up with inflation and population growth, but pretty close. Eighty-two percent is the figure that’s killing us. Eighty-two percent is the growth of federal spending.

Sandra Fluke: Totalitarian

Apparently a reporter at the New York Times Magazine didn’t get the memo that left-wing feminist hack Sandra Fluke’s 15 minutes were long past up. The reporter, Andrew Goldman, tracked Sandra down to get her er…..thoughts on some issues related to her call for the American people to pay for her birth control.

First up: About Rush Limbaugh’s despicable comments calling her a “slut” and attempts to have him taken off the air.

Free speech is a complex area legally, but it’s important to recognize that there are distinctions between one’s ability to express an opinion versus one’s ability to use F.C.C.-regulated airwaves to do so, and also one’s ability to engage in speech versus one’s ability to engage in slander.

First of all, there is no moral defense for what Rush Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke. If Rush Limbaugh called my mother, wife, daughter, girlfriend, sister, or any other woman I care about a slut, I would have some choice words for him. As a Southern boy, I was raised by my single mom to show women respect. However, I will defend to my death Rush Limbaugh’s right to free speech.

Decline of American Power – Is that a bad thing?

A lot of conservatives lament the decline of “American Power” around the World. Just this week Bill O’Reilly had a rant about that. But to those who love Liberty, American Power is just another phrase for Government Power, and the less Government there is at home and abroad the better the lives of all individuals around the world will be.

Thoreau had a great quote about that:

“I heartily accept the motto,—“That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,—“That government is best which governs not at all;” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have”.

I look forward to the day when men are prepared for a government that governs none at all. But until then the Leviathan that is the State with its Coercive Power will be with us. Our job for those who love liberty is to educate ourselves and others about the True Nature of the State and the Blessings of Liberty.

Franz Oppenheimer made it crystal clear the difference between how the State acquires what it desires and the way free individuals voluntarily trade to gain what they desire:

In Defense of @AnonymousIRC #Anti-Sec

The rogue Internet hacker group @Lulzsec has disbanded after a two-month battle against targets across the world. In the wake of their attacks are many questions. How can organizations protect themselves against such attacks? How long will other hacker groups continue their cyberwars? And, is what they’re doing actually…ethical?

Without question, hacking is illegal. Yet, despite the illegality of what hacker groups like Anonymous do, there does appear to be a “moral code” to their actions. For example, Anonymous recently took down several Orlando-area websites, including Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s re-election site. Why would an international hacker collective target Orlando? They felt arresting members of Orlando Food Not Bombs, a charitable organization that feeds the homeless in city parks, was wrong. “Anonymous believes that people have the right to organize, that people have the right to give to the less fortunate and that people have the right to commit acts of kindness and compassion,” the group stated in a release.

Wait, a hacker group that stands for “kindness and compassion”? Are there really “hacktivists” out there? Apparently.

Black markets come to life after government regulations force the natural economy underground. Anonymous is fueled by a similar mechanism.  The traditional (and, legal) methods of counter-balancing government abuse have ultimately failed. Freedom of Information Act requests are frequently sidestepped, or altogether ignored. The Mainstream Media — both Left and Right — have become nothing more than cheerleaders for whatever administration is in charge. And, real investigative journalism, like that of gadfly James O’Keefe, is far too rare. Nobody is left to watch the watchers.

Charity Begins at Home (and Church)

In our society it is almost axiomatic that liberals are charitable and conservatives are greedy and heartless. After all, conservatives are the ones calling for spending cuts to social programs, and tax cuts to stimulate job growth. Liberals are the ones that vociferously object to even the most minute of spending cuts to any type of social program, lest the poor, downtrodden and innocent suffer. Yet, as with so many things, such a conclusion may be accepted with little argument, but has very little basis in fact.

Most of us have seen coverage of the personal tragedies in the aftermath of the historic outbreak of tornadoes across the southeastern United States a few weeks ago, which left more than 300 dead. Footage of the massive tornado that devastated Tuscaloosa and other parts of Alabama are heart wrenching. In my little section of northwest Georgia we received significant damage as well. For the second time in three years my home narrowly escaped the brunt of a tornado’s destructive path, but many of our friends and neighbors were not so lucky.

Two days after the tornados hit I drove through Adairsville and Ringgold and witnessed the awesome force of nature’s fury; billboard frames bent at 90-degree angles, warehouses demolished as if they were made of tin foil and swaths flattened trees that looked like matchsticks. There were huge sections of towns that had essentially vanished. If ever there was a need for government this was it, right?


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