Polemics #26: The Fault within Attempting to Regulate Our Faults: A Case Against Regulation of E-Cigarettes:

 

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The Fault within Attempting to Regulate Our Faults: A Case Against Regulation of E-Cigarettes:

 

Moral panic masquerading as strides towards improvement of public health have a longstanding heritage in the framework of American politics. America’s puritanical roots are notable and were clearly manifested in the zealous, yet expeditious legislation ushered in by the proponents of the temperance movement. However, despite the blatant hubris of the moral crusaders of the Progressive Era the prohibition of alcohol was a failed social experiment. The 21st amendment of the United States Constitution became the qualifying nail in the coffin of the moral do-gooder’s utopian dream of a staid and sober society. Ultimately foiled by the imperfect nature of human nature and human desires. The only thing a shrewd bodega owner is to do is to fulfill consumer demand for alcoholic beverages and not question the moral and health implications of its consumption. Serving consumer demand, not passing attributions about consumption habits is the job of the entrepreneur.

 

The object of moral impropriety shifts from generation to generation accompanied by the regulation and laws to discourage such behavior. Among the plethora of vices, we attempt to dissuade people from indulging, vaping has rose to prominence as conspicuous target. Back in 2018 acting FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb attempted to prohibit flavored E-Cigarette vapor solutions and sales of related products in convenience stores [1]. Recently the municipal government of the city of San Francisco passed an outright prohibition on the sale of vaping products [1]. While local governments and their constituency have the right to ascertain the adequate ordinances for their jurisdiction, there are still profound errors in such tactics. Outside of the salient fact that vendors and consumers will fully exploit any loop-holes in present law, it will not prevent consumption and sale regardless of what codes are on the books. Regulation cannot succeed in suppressing demand. The failures of prohibit and the Drug war staunchly demonstrates this axiom.  Per market research vaping is a rapidly growing segment of the commercial market with growth projected “…. to reach USD 47,111.2 million by 2025, registering a CAGR of 24.9% from 2019 to 2025…”[2]. Such estimated market growth is clearly indicative of a mass amount of consumer demand. This is only further substantiated by the 132 percent increase in sales within the 4-year period of 2012-2016 [3]. Considering the immense amount of demand for vaping products, prohibition will only amount to a thriving black-market. Further regulations will only be fruitful in consumer and vendor behavior being direct towards seeking and exploit gaps in regulations. A fine example being San Francisco residents going across the bay to Oakland to purchase e-cigarettes and other associated paraphernalia.

 

A more implicit form of regulation that is designed to discourage harmful behavior is taxation. Often in the form of what is referred to in its colloquial form as a “sin tax”.  The impact of such tactics is most noticeable in tobacco products, namely mass-produced cigarettes. It is estimated that as of 2016, on average 44.3 percent of the retail price of a pack of cigarettes is tax, with many states that number being a little higher [4]. Some states are currently taxing e-cigarettes and other related accouterments at a rate of 60 percent [3]. Should such an excessive taxation be the price of admission to indulge in a dangerous and damaging habit? It is not only the e-cigarette users that are the ones that pay for the consequences of such taxation.  Washington D.C. being one of the jurisdictions where the taxation of vaping products topples even that of cigarettes as resulted in one documented business closure. Due to the establishment not being able to comply with such measures [5]. It is one thing to close shop due to an ineptitude to properly fulfill market demand and compete in commerce, but a whole other when it is due to artificial constraints imposed by local, state, and federal governments.  It needs to be considered that many vape shop owners have families to support and other obligations that are contingent upon the success of their business to fulfill. However, the zeal of the anti-vaping crusaders only sees the moral imperative of saving the average person from their worst impulses. Whether or not vaping is within the panoply of our worst impulse is still a matter of debate. Personally, I would not make myself a human guinea pig to experiment with such a relatively new and untested substance. Regardless, many former cigarette smokers that are part of the “harm reduction” community proclaim that vaping is significantly safer than traditional cigarettes [6]. Some of these claims have been verified in short-term private studies, however, still pending substantial longitudinal results [7]. Making any claims premature and tentative.  Whether or not it is safe or safer is immaterial, it becomes a question of if we should allow adults to make autonomous decisions. Clearly the embittered anti-tobacco/vaping crusaders are requesting that the government to be the white knight to stifle a public health disaster. Utilizing excessive taxation in attempts to shape behavior, is a thinly cloaked attempted to relinquish the prospect of choice. In the same way they aim to do so with current taxes with tobacco, alcohol, and in the emerging market of recreational cannabis products.

 

Quite often such tax dollars are generally earmarked and allocated for specified budgetary expenditures.  Typically, the collected tax dollars are said to be directed towards spending in the sector of public health care. In a superficial manner does seem to some extent noble and even a productive use of taxes collected by local, State, and federal government. There are two core issues pertaining to government funding regards of the cause. One, the government is the most inefficient distributor of resources and this has been proven gratuitously. Between the amount of overhead squandered on the salaries of bureaucrats/administrators and misallocation of collected funds, private charities are far superior.  Misallocation is blatantly obvious as oftentimes the assessment of greatest need is inappropriate determined by magnitude of inequality rather than by severity of circumstances [8]. Beyond the apparent failure of government managed allocation of funds there is also a moral component having health care funding privatized. Taxation is the extraction of an individual’s property without their consent. That is the thin line of demarcation between charity and robbery. Charity should be voluntary and not forced by state enforced compulsion which is back by either violence or threat of incarceration. Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of advocates of compulsory state sanctioned charity complain more than they actual assist. The could choose to volunteer their time, donate their disposable income to an efficient private charity, or start a charity of their own. It is easier to play the role of an arm chair moral judge from the safety of an ivory tower or intoxicated from the hostility of class envy. Despite the inherent or speculated risks synonymous with the practice of vaping, it should be taxed to fund such misguided ventures. Especially we you are confronted with the hypocritical rhetoric encompassing such policies.

 

The issue of sanctions and restrictions placed against “sinful” behavior has been a longstanding and ubiquitous struggle between morality and individual autonomy. From the vantage point of revisionist historical accounts, the left-wing’s virtue signaling towards saving ourselves from our most base and destructive desires be an epistemological descent of Postmillennialist Christianity. To bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth, within the preview of their beliefs a world that exhibits proper Christian ethics and deportment needs to be established. In turn, requires government intervention to enforce policies that make such a Utopian conception a reality. Over the course of time, this ideology over went a series of successive evolutions transforming into a secularized philosophy. The virtue of Science grew to replace biblical justifications as it became the preeminent dogma that the do-goers armed themselves with [9]. Some may find such interpretations of historical events outlandish it is important to consider the connection between piety and regulation. My home state of Massachusetts, is inundated with version laws, ordinances, regulations, taxes, tariffs, blue laws, etc. It was also a state that was founded by Puritans. The heavy reliance and dependence on government in New England is potentially an ideological and philosophical residual of the regions founding ethos. This observation becomes striking when contrasting the similar marriage of state and altar that was promulgated during The Great Awakening which bleed into the core philosophy of progressive era policies [10]. In a sense, government became a profane or secular representation Christian doctrine. Pertaining to the United States, this has always been the case. While the Founding Fathers always called for a conspicuous separation of church-and-state, their philosophy was heavily influenced by the Scottish Enlightenment. An intellectual movement greatly influenced by Scottish Presbyterianism.

 

While the intriguing origins have the evolution of progressive ideology is engaging and it also provides insight to their distrust of freewill exhibited by left-wing ideologues, but there is a deeper moral element to restricting and prohibiting vaping. In theory, if the variable of choice is eliminated can morality truly exist? This where the moral dimension of consumer choices and the folly attempting to shape consumption behavior comes to surface. Hypothetically, if we use state enforced compulsory laws to ensure and individual chooses to purchase kale over cigarettes the action represents the will of the state not an external manifestation of the moral attribution [11]. Such contingencies make it impossible for a moral choice to be made [11]. Any action contrary to the prescriptive law is subjected to violence and imprisonment. The decision making would in most rational cases veer towards the intentions of the state.  Above is reflects of Austrian Economist and Libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard’s interpretation of how state compulsion relinquishes the possibility to make moral choices. These same sentiments were shared by Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek [12]. In all honesty, psychology even validates this perspective. Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg theorized that human morality had various developmental stages. The first of these progressive graduations is the Pre-conventional stage of morality which entailed that an individual has no moral code and that punishment is what discourages undesirable behavior versus moral reasoning [13]. The assumption that because you follow the law you are morally virtuous that is a fallacy. In order to be moral, you need to have a choice and internal dialogue pertaining to the negative consequences outside of the paternalistic sanctions of the government. Even when faced with the moral and health related repercussions of vaping, adults have the right to poison themselves if they desire to do so. The difference being opium derived intoxicants and wine have been around since the dawn of mankind, e-cigarettes are just a new mechanism of doing so.

 

 

Foot Notes:

  1. https://catalyst.independent.org/2019/07/06/san-franciscos-vaping-ban-is-doomed-to-go-up-in-smoke/
  2. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-e-cigarette-vaping-market
  3. https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2018-08-02/e-cigarette-sales-have-surged-immensely-in-the-us-cdc-study-shows
  4. https://taxfoundation.org/state-cigarette-rates-2018/
  5. https://www.atr.org/new-cdc-data-more-9-million-adults-vape-regularly-united-states?amp
  6. https://fee.org/articles/the-governments-crusade-against-e-cigarettes-and-vaping-undermines-public-health/
  7. https://fee.org/articles/the-governments-war-on-vaping/
  8. https://blogs.independent.org/2019/08/15/three-assumptions-the-left-makes-about-economic-inequality/
  9. Rothbard, Murray. The Progressive Era. Edited by Patrick Newman. (2017) Published by the Ludwig Von Mises Institute. Pages 333-334.
  10. https://original.antiwar.com/justin/2018/08/15/god-war-and-progressivism/
  11. https://mises.org/wire/problem-immoral-choices-marketplace
  12. Edited by Hendrickson, Mark W. The Morality of Capitalism: The Freeman Classics (1992) Chapter 8: The Moral Element in Free Enterprise: Written by F.A. Hayek. Published by The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc.
  13. https://www.simplypsychology.org/kohlberg.html

 

 

 

 

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Paragraph Polemics#25:If You Can’t Beat ‘em, join them: The Fallacy of Using China’s Own Medicine Against Them

 

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If You Can’t Beat ‘em, join them: The Fallacy of Using China’s Own Medicine Against Them:

 

As rhetoric and sanctions escalate the already tremulous trade relations between the United States and China it is important to remember that many of China’s tactics are shortcuts. From a longitudinal standpoint many of these hasty policy decisions are erroneous and shortsighted. Such actions have the potential for profoundly negative repercussions down the road. This notion slides right past the ultra-nationalist zealots shouting in disgruntled indignation that “China Cheats”. Much like the inherit flaw in much of our government controlled Keynesian based policies, fixed squarely on the fulcrum of consumption, the consequences invariable surface and only exacerbate matters. It should also be stated that the sentiments of wanting a leveled playing field regarding trade deficits from the MAGA crowd parallels the shrill bleating of Bernie Sanders crying for re-distributive social welfare programs. Such mindless and misplaced ramblings are not only counterproductive but are infuriating.

 

The article from the Cato Institute The Conquest of the United States by China expounded upon the point that the current administration’s attempts to retaliate against China’s trade transgressions mirrors their own tactics. The shift to further state intervention in the economy and “an autocratic government” that stifles the flow of information running contrary to present agendas [1]. The current administration has had to provide $28 Billion dollars in subsidies to the agricultural sector because of the trade war. Attempted to cajole and plead with enterprises to bring production back state-side with promises that constitute cronyism. Urging the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates in a feeble attempt to stimulate activity (the same sin that engender the market crash of 2008). Threats and sanctions directed at Chinese companies such as Huawei and to insinuate that the penalties can be relinquished at the terms of a new trade deal. All should be cognizant of the similar concerns regarding Japan back in the 1980’s and how a decade later all of those interventionist policies let to some profound stagnation [1].

 

This isn’t the appeal of a left-wing ideology with a spurious agenda cloaked under the banner of free trade, but rather a reputation of managed economies. It is frustrating to see ample examples throughout the span of history of the failure of economic planning, yet we are still having this conversation. All because a trade partner is engaging in faulty economic policies does not mean that the United States should follow their example. It is a lot too maddening to see professed pro-market conservatives speak of equalizing the playing field. It can be surmised is an extrapolation of the same principle progressives utilize social justice fixated policies. Markets are not perfect but are far superior to managed economies. That is time tested and proven. Capitalism does operate as a meritocracy in the sense there are winners and losers. This enduring truth would exist even in the absence of Capitalism, due to the natural levitation towards social hierarchies. Capitalism not only is from a pragmatic standpoint more efficient, but also matches the true inclinations of human nature. While China has indulged their impulses to cut corners, the old adage “Cheaters never prosper” needs to be considered.

 

Foot Notes:

  1. https://www.cato.org/blog/conquest-united-states-china

 

 

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Paragraph Polemics#24:The Establishment of Free Trade Ports in the United Kingdom:

 

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The Establishment of Free Trade Ports in the United Kingdom:

Protectionist economic policies are derived from unwarranted fear and a misunderstanding of what constitutes wealth. Protectionism falls into many of the pitfalls of the erroneous assumptions of the archaic mercantilism systems.  Mainly derived from economic nationalism spurred by the notions that wealth based upon the fixed amount of resources you have, and that trade is a zero-sum exchange [1]. Such economic perspectives are patently false and provides justification for undue provocation.  Many politicians and rulers have utilized such rhetoric as a pretense for armed conflict to acquire more resources.  Wealth is in relation to the value we place on the goods we can procure with money, money only being the vessel of value not it’s origin [2]. In theory, if we do not possess channels for obtaining commodities then money is worthless. Hence, why since the dawn pro-market economics, back in the era of the Enlightenment, immense incredulity has been expressed regarding the validity of protectionism. As restricts the free flow of commodities between nations narrowing trading channels to domestic suppliers.

 

Liz Truss, the United Kingdom’s new Secretary of State for International Trade, has proposed to establish ten English freeport areas at existing ports-of-entry.  The designation of “free ports” entails that restrictions such as tariffs on higher order goods (inputs) will be delayed until the finished product arrive in land. Lifting of such restrictions will be tremendously beneficial to manufacturing companies in port cities by lowering costs of production. This policy proposal is estimated to create 87,000 jobs due to increased profitability [3]. The general consumer will reap the benefit of lower market prices due to applied tariff being lower on finished final products versus that applied on itemized inputs. Speculating that these measures will improve the overall production efficiency of the UK.

 

It should be stated that while this policy may be an improvement over the current policy currently implemented in the United Kingdom, it is far from perfect. Ideally, we would want there to be a total absence of importation tariffs versus a lessened tariff placed upon the final inland commodity. However, deregulation is still a step in the right direction. Such deregulation will better help facility international trade which increases wealth by opening trade channels. That is the genuine significance of liberalization of trade policy, isolationism only amounts to economic stagnation. It is irrational to believe that you can optimize your economy by place stringent tariffs and restrictions to attempt to prevent outsourcing of jobs. Tariffs end up acting as punitive measures against the consumer, who is the main impetus in a free market economy. Closing your nation off from the rest of the world only eliminates opportunities for trade rather than it would help foster it. When you abolish tariffs and other invasive manifestations of red tape the world proverbially and literally opens. It is astonishing how even though informed economists since the 1700’s have been staunchly maligning the virtues of protectionism, the relics of old world European monarchy still subsists in ignorance and confusion.

Foot Notes:

  1. https://www.britannica/topic/merchantilism.
  2. Mises, Ludwig Von. Human Action (1949, original) Republished by the Ludwig Von Mises Institute (1998) Page 162.
  3. https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/freeports-must-not-come-expense-broader-free-trade

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Paragraph Polemics#23: Why Thank you for Your Service is Overkill

 

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Thank You for Your Service Is Overkill:

 

The Myth of National Defense (2003) was a collection of essays that not only provided staunch criticism of our interventionist foreign policy, but also provided some compelling arguments for the privatization of defense. Most people find the prospect of privatizing defense to be an outlandish notion. Conventional wisdoms tend to dictate that defense is a function that can only be adequately fulfilled by government.  However, the below excerpt from this collection would firmly refute this assumption:

 

“In this context of political modernity, the problem of law and order arose as a specific State problem. The first and foremost duty of the State toward its subjects became the provision of security. Or, to be less naïve,

 

the State has arrogated to itself a compulsory monopoly over police and military services, the provision of law, judicial decision-making, the mint and the power to create money, unused land(“the public domain”), streets and highways, rivers and coastal waters, and the means of delivering mail. . . . But, above all, the crucial monopoly is theState’s control of the use of violence: of the police and armed services, and of the courts the locus of ultimate decision-making power in disputes over crimes and contracts “ [1]

 

When confronted with this perspective it becomes fair to question if military defense is merely a service much like law, mail service, sanitation services, among other municipal services. My natural inclination would be to pontificate upon the practical application of privatizing defense. However, another realization came to surface. It was the epiphany regarding much of the rhetoric behind thanking military service members for their sacrifice.  Considering that defense is merely a service provided by the government, it seems a little absurd to be acting like their time in the armed services was board line altruistic. I cannot ever recall thanking my mailman for delivery my bills and jury duty notices in a timely manner. Military Service members receive healthcare benefits, a salary, and free higher education provided through the G.I. bill. All of that is funded either through direct taxation or printing more money.

 

Either way more taxation. I will admit being a member of one the branches of the armed services can be dangerous and even deadly. Those who join become well acquainted with the occupational hazards associated with warfare. They are trained for active duty combat.  Also, it can be speculated whether their service has contributed to my own personal liberty. Besides the taxation, much of the military action over the past couple of decades have resulted in destabilization in the Middle East. Has engendered more animosity directed towards the United States and inspired more terrorism. All for the vein cause of proliferating liberal democracy and further expansion of America’s ideological empire. Ideas spread by the sword are rarely ever fully embraced. If the objective of defense is to make Americans safer, I would that the military exercises commenced over the past twenty years have been abject failures. In all honesty, not only paid for inefficient service, but for incompetent service. Regarding to more frivolous matters such as a cheeseburger being over cooked at a restaurant, people are more than willing to express their displeasure. A matter more serious such as defense we accept ineptitude.

 

I surmise that the phrase “Thank you for Your service” is weaponized silence critics of the military by connecting militarism with patriotism. If we do not support our troops we are not patriotic. The presented assumption is that we are somehow morally lacking or in most respects out of step with civil deportment. Developing such a mentality makes it easy for the pro-war think tanks and armament companies (Boeing, Lockheed & Martin, etc.) to push their agenda upon the public. Understanding this mechanism of their propaganda it is easy to see why most people do not question our seemingly perpetual intervention in the Middle East. Exploiting human empathy, patriotism, and a lack of interest in critical appraisal creates a sound equation for reaping some deep profits. Not  free market capitalism, but rather a pervasive corporatism firmly kneeling to the altar of the federal government.

Foot Notes:

 

  1. Edited by Hoppe, Hans Herman. The Myth of National Defense: Essays on the Theory and History of Security and Production (2003) Chapter:1- The Problem of Security; Historicity of the State and European Realism. Written by Luigi Marco Bassani & Carlo Lottieri. Published by Ludwig Von Mises Institute. Page 38.

 

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Paragraph Polemics#22: Denmark and Negative Interest Rate Mortgages

 

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Negative Interest Rate Mortgages in Denmark:

Ten years after the burst of the housing bubble the vestiges of the fallout serve as relics of the ultimate ends of market intervention.  A reminder of the potential consequences of upsetting the natural order. However, it seems as if little has been learned from the folly of artificially low interest rates that glutted the American housing market in the 2000’s. The scope of this willful ignorance extends well beyond the national boarders of the United States. Per Business Insider, Denmark’s third largest bank Jyske bank is now offering 10-year fixed-rate mortgage at a negative 0.5 interest rate [1]. Such a practice would entail that the bank at a small loss would pay lenders to take out a loan (with additional service fees applied). Often operates as a desperate attempt to stimulate purchasing activity in difficult economic conditions [2]. These feeble attempts to stimulate the economy through incentivizing consumption is a hallmark fallacy of Keynesian economic policy. Back at the apogee of the housing bubble, the federal reserve artificially lowered interest rates which encouraged individuals who could not afford to purchase homes to do so. Once housing prices started to rise back to equilibrium price that is when all hell broke loose [3]. The natural consequence being that people could no longer afford their mortgages which resulted in foreclosures.

 

The American housing crisis of the 2000’s tends to be a reoccurring pattern throughout economic history and validating evidence for the Austrian Business Cycle theory. Broadly the theory holds the assumption that inordinate expansion in bank credit spurred by manipulated interest rates leading to market disruptions [4] [5]. The question then becomes why aren’t the artificially lowered interest rates sustainable long term?  The lower interest rates encourage individuals to make finical decisions that would not be typically feasible due to their income or other qualifying factors [6]. While a myriad of factors due determine market price, when driven outside of the acceptable range it will move back towards the equilibrium price [7]. Considering this illusory attempt to increase commerce it merely results in the prices eventually rising and causing the majority of those who obtained loans to default on them. In a very rudimentary sense that is how we arrived at the carnage of the burst of the housing bubble. It is only rational to question if artificially lower interest rates engender litany of negative consequences, why would negative interest rates be any better? It is abundantly evident such short cuts only compound already difficult economic conditions.  An inert market goes from a bustling pace and then plummets to a crisis. These cycles in economics have often been compared to the biological mechanics of drug addiction. You need more and more of the drug until you eventual overdose and you have a much more serious situation than dealing with mere withdrawal. Instead of any opioid, the drug of choice is cheap credit.  The fact that Denmark has learned NOTHING from previous events is astonishing. Considering how obtusely stubborn most policy makers and mainstream economists are I would be surprised if we start seeing negative interest mortgages state side.

 

 

Foot Notes:

  1. https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/danish-bank-offers-mortgages-at-negative-interest-rates-2019-8

2. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/070915/how-negative-interest-rates-work.asp

3. https://mises.org/library/housing-too-good-be-true

4. https://mises.org/library/manipulating-interest-rate-recipe-disaster

5.  https://mises.org/library/austrian-business-cycle-theory-brief-explanation

6. https://mises.org/wire/austrian-business-cycle-theory-explained

7. Rothbard, Murray. Man, Economy, and State. (Original 1962) republished by the Mises Institute 2004, Second Edition. Pages 109-119

 

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Paragraph Polemics#21: The Evolution of my Political Beliefs

 

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The Evolution of My Political Views:

 

2001-2005 (Neo-Conservative) :  At the tender age of 12, I became “ultra-patriotic” in the wake of the September 11th attacks. I bought the false bill of goods sold by the neo-conservatives. Despite my lack of knowledge regarding monetary and foreign policy I fully supported the invasion of Iraq and bought the government reported narrative. I also was a proponent of the atrocity known as the Patriot Act (this was prior to me having a firm understanding of the Fourth Amendment).

 

2005-2007 (Political Atheist): As an angst-ridden teen fixated on the delights of drinking cheap bourbon and Rock n’ Roll music, so I developed a “rebellious” streak. I use that term lightly. My worldview was so cynical I enjoyed the prospect of chaos for its very sake. I wouldn’t even say that I was an anarchist, it was an insouciant nihilism that did not take ramifications, means, or ends into consideration.  Back then I would have voted for Trump not because agreed with him policy wise, but just to enjoy the theater. You could say proverbially, I liked the idea of watching Rome burn.

 

2007-2012 (My Lefty-Liberal Phase): I suppose I grew tired of the futile wars in the Middle East and the political left was pushing the anti-war rhetoric. I was entering college around the time and the politics of political correctness and social justice seeped into my political advocacy. I even voted for Obama (something to this day I regret). Obama ended up only exacerbating tensions in the Middle East and even illegally embarked upon new campaigns. Also, I grew tired of sitting in Sociology being told by an angry feminist Marxist with a PhD how White heterosexual man were the bane of society.  Such disingenuous rubbish made me decided to save the panicked imperative of Social Justice and UBI for the crunchy granola crowd.  Clearly, I am part of the problem (this statement is dripping with bitter sarcasms).

 

2012-2015 (Life Style Libertarian):  Disgruntled with the nonsense plaguing the mainstream political parties decided to join ranks with the Libertarian party. Did I seriously study the ideology as much as I should, probably not. I kind of initiatively adopted an Ayn Randian fixation around self-interest. I knew that I was tolerant of guns, pot , and didn’t believe  that the government should prevent you from pursuing yourself interest in a very broad and abstract sense. However, rarely ever contemplated practical application, I just knew the state was oppressive. It was problematic because how do you reflect such sentiments in policy? I treated Libertarianism as a lofty pipe dream (no pun intended) that was the philosophical remedy to the hypocrisy of our faulty bicameral system.

 

2015-2017 (Belt-way Libertarian): Around 2015, is when I started to take Libertarianism seriously. I wanted to become educated on economics, foreign policy, constitutional law. Practical application became a focal point for me. I started to listen to podcasts from the Cato Institute and was constantly on their website reading articles. No longer was it a matter of shallow self-interest, but I was on the quest to learn how we can create a freer society. However, the question started to become were the pundits at the Cato Institute trying too hard to pander to the political establishment? Granted I still read articles on their website to this very day. However, I began following the work of Ron Paul and the answer became an unequivocal yes. While Cato does an excellent job working within the establishment to gain legitimacy, it isn’t drastic enough to engender any true change.

 

2017-Present (Austro-Libertarian):  Around 2017, listen to the Ron Paul Liberty Report podcast I kept hearing the term Austrian Economics and an Austro-focused think tank called the Mises Institute. I did some brief research and found out about Dr. Paul’s extensive ties to the Mises Institute. Due to the organization’s beliefs regarding intellectual property, they had an extensive library of resources free through their website. I started listening to audiobooks by Mises, Rothbard, Hoppe, etc. I even took free online classes which deepened my appreciation and knowledge of the Austrian School of Economics. It really illustrated to me the folly of government intervention especially in the regards to monetary policy. I never would have dreamed at the age of 17, that at 30 I would be reading economics books in spare time.

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Paragraph Polemics#20: The Illusion of the Independent Voter

 

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The Illusion of the Independent Voter:

 

All too often when discussing politics, political theory, current events, and or policy you will encounter someone who proudly proclaims that they are an Independent. The ambiguity of this term implies a lack of dogmatism and bias that is synonymous with the internal structure of mainstream political parties. On a superficial level this seems to be a reasonable assessment. However, it should be noted many people prefer the label of “Independent” either to create the perception of a freethinker/ nonconformist or to evade the tensions of partisanship. Neither rationale ensures a lack of ideological an ingrained ideological disposition. Often political “Independents” that participate in the political process do exhibit relatively consistent voting patterns and opinions that would constitute a body of beliefs or a philosophy.  Which would quickly sink any the proclamations being a political agnostic. The individual’s political beliefs may not align completely with one of the major political parties, but it still adheres to a broader political philosophy. A prime example would be a conservative that rejects the ethos of the Republican party and therefore claims to be an independent. Abandonment of formal political parties is understandable considering the illiberal nature of political parties. What is precisely meant by the illiberal nature of political parties, is there propensity towards consolidation of political power which is treacherous descent towards authoritarianism. Taking this variable into consideration, while such political skepticism is understandable it does not preclude someone from having a fixed or consistent ideology. The only way this would be possible is if they in the present moment do not have  a precise set of individual values.

 

The political independents by omission also need to be addressed as well because much of their revelations and postulations are a far cry from revolutionary. Inactivity is still activity. When we chose to abstain from acting it is paradoxically still an action. Expressing a lack of interest in participating in the political process, discussing, or even contemplating politics there is still an underlying ideology. That is one of apathy. As much as you pontificate upon the futility of having political convictions like a bitter and sullen teenager, you still hold beliefs about politics. Which amounts to a pseudo-ideology. Expressing a lack of belief regarding a topic is nevertheless a belief as oxymoronic as it sounds. Even if you rashly absolve yourself from the conversation about claiming a lack of belief or concern regarding policy matters. Generally, theological atheists have quite a bit to contribute when it comes to the broad discussion around the matter of theology. To the extent it becomes politicized and evolves into a ideological platform in its own right. The irony is that most political atheists like to complain and dismiss political thought and find comfort in absence. However, many of these individuals would probably find much value in third-party political philosophies such as Libertarianism or Anarchism. Then again, thought and research are prerequisites for such explorations to transpire.

 

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