After a weeklong news cycle of being bombarded with mass shootings and the gun debate focusing on international events is a nice change of pace. It is very easy to succumb to tunnel vision and forget that the scope of politics extends beyond the boundaries of the United States. There has been a lot of senseless noise about “No deal Brexit” ** cascading through the headlines since Prime Minister Boris Johnson has assumed office. . Then again there is a lot of nonsense on both ends of the spectrum. The consensus among the establishment is utter horror and confusion. The proponents of Brexit range from echoing the sentiments of national pride, limited government, to the reverberations of conspiratorial machinations. Such paranoid fabrications (pertaining to the latter) often point to the adroit subterfuge of the “globalists”. While the critics of Brexit rest squarely on the conventional wisdom of the economic folly of severing ties with the trans-continental governing body (European Union) and it’s detrimental implications for diplomatic relations. It almost mirrors the demographical delineation of the Pro-Trump and Anti-Trump disputes in the United States.
The real question becomes does this diametrical and ideologically fueled tug-of-war is it important? I would suggest no. The political establishment will always have a dim view of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, and all other advocates of Brexit. Vice versa. It merely amounts to a conceptual impasse. What is significant is that Brexit reflects the genuine will of the citizens of the United Kingdom. The right to self-identify and self-determination are both within the natural rights of an individual. Here lies the foundation for the logical arguments championing the right to succession and the legitimacy of separatist movements. The American Revolutionary War was without question a separatist movement. It could also be added that it was a campaign for the formulation of American identity. I would assert that if a group of like-minded individuals voluntarily choose to relinquish ties with a governmental body and form their own social organization, it is legitimate without any further justification. Any institution that would transgress such efforts would be acting in a patently aggressive manner. Such philosophical axioms can be applied to any separatist movements. I was a staunch supporter of the Catalonian separatist movement in Spain back in 2017, even though I disagree with their socialist economic policies. Anytime I hear the rumblings of California threatening to succeed with the objective of establish an idyllic socialist utopia, I strongly encourage it!
I do empathize with the populous fervor that is propelling the advocates of the Brexit movement. For one, the European Union is a large multi-national governing body that makes drastically important policies decisions that may not necessarily be in the best national interest of the United Kingdom. Most Americans would be appalled if we had to content with such measures. No, while NAFTA was unnecessary as the market should determine trade not government drafted agreements, it is nowhere near as intrusive or pedantic as the EU. It should also be noted while the venomous ramifications of unconstrainted nationalism is ever-present, the patriotisms regarding English identity is understood. While patriotism can make you obtuse to fault policies, there is nothing wrong with it in the basic sense. The irony becomes that in the United States the pundits that criticize Brexit the most are the ones that in the wake of the Trump administration scream the loudest for direct democracy. Unfettered popular sovereignty is okay, only when it fits their narrative. What is even more perplexing is why weren’t the same individuals calling for abolition of the electoral college when left-leaning candidates were in the oval office? Witnessing the extent of the hypocrisy of American commentators, I can only surmise how bad it is across the pond. While I may not agree with all the policies of the UK’s Conservative, Labour party, etc. the amount of dishonest and disingenuous strategic communication they are confronted with makes me want to side with their cause.
Freshmen Missouri Senator Josh Hawley is truly demonstrating how the Republican party has long since abandoned liberty. While Ronald Regan was far from perfect (as he escalated the war on drugs at the apogee of the “crack epidemic”), at least in his ideological “fusionism” did incorporate some elements of classically liberal elements. Senator Hawley is calling for several regulations directed towards the social media platforms. The proposed regulation pointed at the claims of bias and censorship of conservative users could be valid if these platforms are no longer private companies. Examples of such lines being blurred would be receiving government subsidies, government contracts, working in tandem with the government to collect data, etc. I believe that Senator Hawley may have a point in that regard. However, Senator Hawley is dead wrong in championing legislation aiming to provide safe guards against social media addiction. Per Business Insider, Hawley is pushing for mandated features that prevents individuals from constantly streaming content. One such example being a function that automatically disenables the application and informs the user that they have exceed 30 minutes of usage among other provisions .
Between the trade tariffs, opioid bills, and now social media bills; the populace right is now showing their tastes for nanny-state tactics to promote their agenda. While the Reaganite Republican would give lip service to limited government and not have it reflect in policy, the new-wave in the GOP doesn’t even pretend to favor restricting the role of the state. It absurd to enact such legislation as there are already features on social media publications that can be VOLUNTERAILY utilize to monitor your usage. In contrast to utilizing compulsion to shift companies into designating resources and time to accommodate these purposed measures. Legislative measures that should be left to the individual, adults should be able to manage themselves and their children. Not only does such legislation rob enterprises of time and money for social problems that they are not responsible to remedy, but it distracts from other issues. Issues that are much more pertinent. Engendering greater dependence on the government for functions that should be the responsibility of the individual brings us further down the road of collectivism. Collectivist sentiments are tattered all over the newly emerged right-wing populism sets a dangerous precedent for further aggrandizing the state. It should be recognized that we cannot save people from themselves and that we shouldn’t use the stated to support our own ideology with the force of the law.
Regarding economic policy President Trump at best is mixed from the standpoint of pro-market advocates. The future looks significantly bleaker as he continues to stoke the flames of the trade war with China. The accelerant being dousing the fire, sanctions (in the form of retaliatory tariffs) and bombastic rhetoric. Despite all the talk of the trade deficit, in 2018 China was the third largest export market for the United States . Making it imprudent to constrict that business through aggressive economic policies. However, even considering this obtuse blunder there is potentially light on the horizon. Per the August 4th, 2019 Zero Hedge article, Could the US Be Gearing Up for A Return to The Gold Standard, President Trump announced his nominations for Federal Reserve governors Chris Waller and Judy Shelton. Both advocates of gold backed currency   ***.
Before we start opening bottles and proceed to spray champagne in celebratory jubilation we do need to remember that everything is still conjecture at this point. Neither individual has assumed their position on the board of the federal reserve. It should also be noted that both will remain minorities among the Federal Reserve governors as gold standard proponents. Which means they may only have minimal influence upon making any changes to monetary policy. Beyond even the magnitude of influence over policy the other issue becomes whether Waller and Shelton can remain steadfast on their principles. Often under mounting pressure officials of governing bodies forfeit their principles under the intense scrutiny of senior leadership. Both Waller and Shelton are Pro-gold standard now, however, a couple of years operating as governors of the Federal Reserve erode their convictions? This is all too common occurrence on the senate floor when you have senators not towing the party line. Both individuals are in diametrical opposition to the conventional wisdom regarding monetary policy. Even if they stand their ground regarding the gold standard, both will have to fight an uphill battle as dissenters. This is only compound by the plethora of misinformation that is being promulgated regarding the gold standard.
The fear often proliferated by the fallout of a violent tragedy such as a mass shooting causes people to be willing to sacrifice civil liberties for the sake of safety. While I have promised to try to veer away from such topics, do feel that it is pertaining to resurrect the whole safety versus freedom debate. Why? It is quite salient that after September 11th the American public was more than will to relinquish constitutional protected rights for the cause of eliminating the foreboding menace of terrorism. The results yield has been excessive amounts of airport security, ironically, with a higher failure rate of detecting dangerous contra-band. The whole debacle concerning the spying and data collection practices of the National Security Agency. These are just a few of the copious examples of how we have willing surrendered freedom at the altar of security. Security being firmly held by the grip of state power. This well-developed guise of safety and security cannot be guaranteed. Even if we lived a totalitarian surveillance state, you completely underestimate human nature if you believe you can completely eliminate acts of terrorism and other varieties of wanton violence. The echoing an empty mantra of the post-9/11 era “Freedom Isn’t Free” was the battering ram used to flatten the detractors to such invasive legislation as the Patriot Act.
My concerns were significantly piqued upon reading the August 5th, 2019 Washington Post article: Rise of far-right violence leads some to call for realignment of post-9/11 national security priorities . The article details the calls from the public as well as experts to enact counter-terrorism measures to address the rise of violent acts committed by the Far-Right. Namely the El Paso, Texas shooting which was allegedly spurred by White Supremacist ideology, sparking the uproarious outcry. There is a litany of various problems with blindly crying out for legislative action, like we did when 9/11 happened. When squarely confronted with the governmental abuses in reaction to the September 11th attacks it is foolhardy implement pervasive safeguards against Far-Right activity. Without a concise definition of what constitutes Far-Right terrorism that label can be easily expanded to ideologies and activism that are not categorically even similar (Moderate Conservatives, and even Libertarians). Also, it is imperative that I also mention that such measures without careful consideration can also profoundly damage the right to free speech and free association. The views, literature, blogs, music, etc. of the white supremacist movement is constitutionally protected. Also, long as their activities are not violent and respects property rights, it is legal and protected. I can see an opportunity for exploitation of proposed anti-terrorism provisions being used against individuals acting within their legal rights.
In more of an abstract and theoretical standpoint, I perceive this as being the extreme left-wing’s 9/11. Now they have justification to utilize the state to act against the Far-Right their fierce political adversary. On a subconscious level, enact vengeance for all the xenophobia engendered by the reactionary fervor to the 9/11 attacks. Convoluted conjecture aside, personally, I disagree with both factions and would rather live in a slightly more dangerous world with profoundly more freedom. The ratio of freedom to security generally isn’t so significant to warrant such great capitulations to our rights.
THE EL PASO AND DAYTON SHOOTINGS AND WHY I NO LONGER DISCUSS MASS SHOOTINGS:
Many of my regular readers may be puzzled by the fact that I have yet to address the mass shootings that have transpired in Gilroy (Garlic Festival), El Paso, and Dayton over the past couple of weeks. However, I do have some substantial reservations about providing commentary on such events. I did my best to avoid expressing my opinions on the Parkland Shootings back in early 2018. The patently striking question becomes why? Unfortunately, such tragedies are not conducive to sound and rational debate due to the emotionally gripping nature of the event. Considering the implements of terror used in all these horrific events being firearms, it is invariable that the conversation will shift to the gun-control debate. Which really isn’t a debate as much as it is a virtue signally contest. Nothing fruitful can be gained from such an exchange. The gun control debate is so counter-productive, that it is analogous to the trench warfare of World War I. The proponents of gun control are generally not willing to compromise which caused advocates of gun rights to double down on their stance. Especially when the trends in gun legislation appears to be moving in a more prohibitive manner. A lot of the anti-gun sentiment is only compounded by the excessive amount of media coverage of such incidents. Putting a magnifying glass on such events and then being fixed on them creates the illusion of the such occurrences being more typical then they are. Despite the image perpetuated by the media mass shootings are exceedingly rare, despite the number of guns in the United States.
Mass Shootings are not at the purported epidemic levels angled by media outlets doing what they do best, which is capitalized on death, destruction, and misery. The grislier the event the attention the story receives. I do not blame the public for being frightened! When you are being inundated with gruesome images and being told by opportunistic politicians that the odds of you being a victim of gun violence are more likely than the statistics would suggest. On a basic psychological level, the decree of the mob of petrified media consumers wailing for more gun control is understandable. However, if the perfervid reactionary rhetoric is based upon a skewed representation of the overall narrative it compromises the discourse. Policy derived from fear whether justifiable or not can lend itself to hasty and irrational legislation. The irony is that most avid proponents of gun control proclaim to be on the side of facts, data, and reason. If this is the case, then why are they resorting to tawdry scare tactics to slant the discussion to their advantage? If you tout the virtues of empiricism, objectivism, and science shouldn’t the data be compelling enough? If so, distorted emotional appeals which exploit the victims for political and personal gains wouldn’t be necessary.
Overall, I absolved myself from the obligation to expound upon such events and the overall gun control debate. I have very little to contribute to that discourse other than my previously established points of view. I would rather take more of a passive stance and let the diehard single-issue voters craft intricate and substantive arguments for both sides of the argument. I have too many other topics to focus on concerning politics, philosophy, and economics to devout any more time to the gun debate.
—- Spoiler Alert : I firmly stand with the Second Amendment crowd.
WHAT IS THE CORRECT AMOUNT OF GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY?
Technically this blog entry is not a polemic, but rather an open-ended inquiry into the proper amount of authority that society should allocate to our governing institutions. There several variables that contribute to the appropriate answer to this quandary. For instances, what is the adequate role of government? What categories of human rights should the state guarantee to every citizen of the polity? It is well established there are significant philosophical gulfs between those who hold negative rights in higher regard than positive rights and vice versa. What is more imperative that we have unequivocally protected, right to life sustaining goods and services or the freedom to act in your own best interest? I would assert that this displays the dichotomy between freedom and safety. There is always a certain amount of implied risk, with every degree of autonomy we have. Ideally in practical application this would be a matter of a balancing act. However, is balance every genuine or could ever be achieved?
I would tend to agree with 19th Century French economist Fredric Bastiat that the role of government sanctioned law is to protect our liberty (negative rights) and property . I would side with Bastiat since when we relinquish our freedom we have surrendered everything. This includes our ability to make decisions and even our potential, if our actions are profoundly restricted we can never step out of the necessary boundaries necessary to flourish. In a purely socialistic system, we would confine everyone to a state of mediocrity to ensure that person obtains a slice of the proverbial pie. Considering the pattern of governmental authority to exponentially consolidate versus remaining static, making it fair to question the reality of the state protecting these natural rights. In his seminal 2001 book, Democracy the God That Failed, Hans Herman Hoppe expounds upon how in a democratic system if the government has completely fallen short of protecting such rights. If anything, governmental bodies have been tantalized to bilk the tax payer and the country, due to having no real skin in the game due to the temporary nature of tenure in a democratic public office . Logically is sounding thinking, because if there isn’t any permanency regarding responsibility of the ramifications, legislators are more apt to be reckless decisions. Which are often compensated for by excessive taxation ( “legal plunder”).
If it appears as if we cannot have a moderate balance between state power and our freedom, then incredulity and distrust of governmental legislation isn’t outlandish. The paradox is clearly that government’s role is to protect our natural rights, yet it often tends to violate them through state sanctioned regulations and polices. If the same institutions intended to protect these rights have been historically proven to violate them, how can I advocate aggrandizing them? While the United States was founded on the principle of protecting negative rights, since the Progressive Era, positive rights have superseded them. Guaranteed food, shelter, and medical care comes at a price higher than the explicit tax burden. As it fosters dependence on the state at the expense of our civil liberties. The same institutions that are often opposed to our civil liberties are the ones responsible for distributing resources. That is since it is in their invested interest to oppress our negative rights and fulfill our positive rights to manufacture a firm justification for their existence.
Bastiat, Fredric. The Law. Originally Published 1850. Republished 2007. Publisher Ludwig Von Mises Institute.
Herman- Hoppe, Hans. Democracy the God That Failed. (2001) Publisher Transaction Publishers.
LINCOLN’S TRUE STRIPES ARE REVEALED: HE WAS INDEED A SOCIALIST:
President Lincoln is universally known as a figure of centralization and being a huge proponent of a strong centralized federal government. Those who favor social justice revel in the jubilation of Lincoln success of abolishing slavery. American Right-Wing nationalists venerate the fact that he was able to keep the Union “intact”. If anything, Lincoln not only retained the rebel territories by force, but also further consolidated the power of the federal government. Which grounded the conceptual and legislative scaffolding for the Progressive Era in American history. Few ever questioning his political motives or agenda, protected by an enduring halo effect.
Over the years it has been considered fringe to even remotely entertain the notion of Lincoln being a socialist. Thomas DiLorenzo merely referred to Lincoln’s authoritarian and centralization tendencies in his 2002 book The Real Lincoln was maligned and equated to be a tin-foil hat wearing crank. The tide of public opinion has now shifted, and Lincoln’s socialistic propensities is not being acknowledged, but celebrated. The July 27th, 2019 Washington Post article: You Know Who was into Karl Marx? No, not AOC. Abraham Lincoln which reflects these sentiments. The article openly purports that not only did Lincoln study and admire the work of Marx, but they were pen pals . 20, 15, 10, 5 years ago such an assertion would have been considered the machinations of the most obscure fringes of conspiratorial thought, that would be harshly derided. The article also makes some inferences that Lincoln’s opposition slavery being based in a socio-economic based characterization. In other words, the whole notion that in production’s genuine value be derived from labor versus capital . Which is essentially a squarely socialist argument, but makes a similar mistake that Classical economist make, the difference being that the Classical school doesn’t weaponize it to dismantle capitalism.
Overall, it is exceedingly ironic that when the Austro-Libertarian revisionist historians inferred that Lincoln was an authoritarian it was completely outlandish and laughable. The terms Marxist and Socialist may have been implied but never directly stated. Years later a Left-Wing publication glowingly proclaims Lincoln was Marxist and these accusations now have legitimacy. Perplexing, but a symptom of the contemporary political climate. This only solidifies my negative perceptions of Lincoln and provides insight into his tyrannical wielding of power while in the oval office. Actions such as suspension of Habeas Corpus, regardless of the circumstances, is a drastic infringement upon our civil liberties. Now seeing the profound and deep Marxist influence upon Lincoln substantiates his tyrannical leanings. However, this article also confirms an assumption that knew intuitively that was how the Social Justice/ Socialist movement objectifies human beings. The overall marginalized categorical labels act as pawns and the chess board being what level of social strata that marginalized group resides at. It should be noted that in the Marxist point-of-view the individual the individual is devoured by the identarian category. This is due to the fixation on class struggle. That if anything further convinces me that Lincoln’s abolition of slavery was not sincere. But rather leads me to believe that his agenda had multiple levels.