The Low-Tech Solution to the High-Tech Police State: Pirate Radio

Capitalist Eric

small pirate studio

There’s an old joke from the Soviet Union: “you can say anything you want- once!” The underlying meaning, of course, is that after you said it, you would never be heard from again. That is the implicit threat that we face every day, so it seems we’re constantly walking on eggshells. Certain words were not allowed to be said, and certain facts are not allowed to be expressed.

You have an employee who’s constantly sandbagging and incompetent, but you’re not allowed to discipline him or fire him, because he’s a “minority,” and you don’t want to get slapped with a discrimination lawsuit. So instead you tolerate his sub-par performance, and hope he’ll go somewhere else on his own volition.

subpar-obama-01

But of course incompetent, sand-bagging people rarely move on; they are like fat parasites, in that once they find a nice host they never go away. You’re not allowed to talk…

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SPEAKING TO NONLIBERTARIANS

An Article from The Future of Freedom Foundation

 

SPEAKING TO NONLIBERTARIANS

by July 11, 2014

If libertarians want to change how nonlibertarians’ think about government, they will need to understand how nonlibertarians think about government. By “nonlibertarians,” I mean the majority of people who spend little if any time pondering political theory, or what Murray Rothbard called political ethics. They may focus at times on particular government programs and actions, or on proposals for new programs, but rarely about government as an institution.

This is not hard to understand. We all come into a world full of national governments that present themselves as providers of a social safety net, guarantors of products and services, protectors of workers, defenders of the national borders, and dispensers of benefits to an assortment of deserving groups (farmers, exporters, too-big-to-fail banks, low-income people, and so on). This is all represented as indispensable to the general welfare.

So for most people, the welfare, or social-service, state is a natural, ever-present part of the landscape. This is reinforced through their “education” in government schools. Few ever question its necessity, much less wonder what life would be like without it. Some people may think the government goes too far (or not far enough) in this matter or that, but the social-service state itself never comes under examination. Its morality is implicitly assumed on the basis of how commonplace it is.

So how can libertarians speak to these people in a way they will understand? How do we get them to question deeply held beliefs that may never have been articulated? My basic advice is to start by trying to see government as they see it. This may be distasteful, but if you want to persuade people, what else are you going to do? Without this, you might as well be speaking in a foreign language.

It is self-defeating to seem to be condemning people for their reliance on or support of the various welfare-state programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Exhorting them to self-reliance will have little effect, especially since it exposes the libertarian to an apparent contradiction. After all, no libertarian would criticize people who buy insurance policies on their homes, cars, health or lives. Nor would we disparage members of the old mutual-aid societies, who drew cash benefits when sick, injured, or unemployed. Why not? Doesn’t this show a lack of self-reliance, a rejection of “rugged individualism”?

“That’s different,” some will say. “Unlike insurance and mutual aid, government assistance is coercive.”

Exactly! What I’m getting at is that people’s attraction to government-provided social services is not the problem (they believe they pay for them through taxes), because similar services offered in the voluntary sector (for-profit or mutual) would be not only unobjectionable but salutary.

Since that’s the case, the libertarian approach should focus on the flawed political method by which the services are provided, not the purported objects of the services themselves — security. We must demonstrate that people cooperating in freed markets (not to be confused with today’s corporatist economy) would be better providers than the state.

This principle is applicable in a variety of other areas. The government regulates or inspects products and services, and licenses an increasing number of occupations, in the name of consumer protection. Since people’s preference for consumer protection in itself is unassailable, the libertarian critique of government in this area shouldn’t imply that those who want help in looking out for shoddy products and dishonest, incompetent providers are irrational. They are just unaware of a better, more moral alternative.

The same goes for workers who worry about their vulnerability to arbitrary dismissal or onerous demands. Again, libertarians do not look askance at individuals who sign contracts specifying the conditions, including the term, of employment. The quest for some certainty about such things seems reasonable in that context. Other things equal, most people would prefer not to be in a position in which they could lose their jobs without notice because the boss had a bad day. This is especially so when the government’s central bank is in the habit of generating bubbles and consequent busts, which can bring long-term layoffs and permanent unemployment — something that could not happen in a freed market.

In all these cases, the problem, again, is with the means — provision through the state — not the ends. The world is inherently uncertain. No one can be sure what tomorrow will bring. So the wish to create islands of relative security in an insecure world — a safety net, if you will — is only rational. The libertarian job is to convince people that, on two counts, government provision is a bad way to secure a good end. First, it is morally wrong because it requires compulsion — the threat of physical violence — starting with taxation. And second, as a consequence of the first feature, state provision is inferior to private provision because it is outside the free and competitive market, a process that, unlike the political realm, ties rewards to customer service and stimulates entrepreneurial discovery, which makes products and services better and cheaper.

For example, market-based consumer protection would be superior to the government’s ersatz version precisely because it would be market-based — that is, offered by competitors trying to prosper by demonstrating competence, establishing reputations, and winning the favor of customers. We see such organizations today — Underwriters Laboratories, Consumer Reports, and, thanks to the Internet, Angie’s List and many others — but they would become even more widespread and more important with the removal of the government’s illusion of protection. (That people use these services demonstrates that they have little faith in government protection.)

Consumers would also be better protected if producers had no shelter whatever from free competition (which all licensing, permits, and costly regulation provide to some extent) and no prospect of government subsidies, bailouts, or other privileges, such as limited liability for damages or immunity from lawsuits because minimum government standards were complied with.

Bureaucrats face perverse incentives compared with those faced by participants in freed markets. The officials who run government agencies have no money at risk, and the people (as taxpayers) have no choice but to put up with them. (What do you do if you think the head of the FDA, FCC, FTC is incompetent?) Moreover, government agencies are easily subject to regulatory capture, by which the well-connected among the regulated influence or control the regulators — leaving consumers out in the cold with only a false sense of security, which is worse than none at all. (Historically, big firms have favored government regulation over the unpredictable competition of the marketplace, which can make market share a fleeting thing.)

In other words, consumers would be safer without government protection. But that counterintuitive claim must be patiently demonstrated, not merely insisted on. (One disadvantage for libertarians is that most people are ignorant of economics.)

Similarly, workers who look to government for protection from capricious bosses unwittingly leave themselves vulnerable to insidious co-optation by “labor leaders” whose higher priority is sitting at the corporate state’s conference table with the big boys. Real protection would be found in truly worker-based organizations whose rules were not written by a Washington bureaucracy to accommodate the insiders.

Even more important, abolition of the myriad ways by which government rigs the market would maximize workers’ bargaining power. These ways include the many impediments to starting small-scale home-based businesses and cooperative neighborhood enterprises, impediments that harm low-income people most of all, who are already hampered by the rotten product delivered by government schools. Killing occupational licensing, permit regimes, zoning, intellectual property, and eminent domain would only begin to free us from this virtually guild-ridden economic system.

Libertarians understand that government — because it operates through force and faces no market test from customers free to say no — offers inferior services even when they would be perfectly legitimate if offered privately. (However, not everything the government does would have a legitimate counterpart in the private sector. Some “services” are intrinsically aggressive.) Libertarians also understand that trusting government to provide those services is a tragic mistake, because bureaucracies inexorably come under the control of those with the most political sway, no matter what the progressives say. On net and contrary to the politicians’ propaganda, wealth tends to be transferred up, not down. That’s how things work.

Libertarians understand these things, or ought to, but most other people don’t. Instead, they see government as a vast mutual-aid society (even if they are unfamiliar with that term): You pay your dues (taxes) and you draw benefits when you qualify under the various programs. If you don’t pay your dues, you are penalized because you agreed to pay them. (Agreed? Presumably by not leaving the country — a highly dubious assumption.) If you don’t like the rules, vote for people who will change them.

Advocates of individual freedom are unlikely to make progress if they don’t educate other people on what’s wrong with this picture.

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Legalising v Decriminalising Drugs: A half-smoked joint

 

An Article From The Economist

 

Decriminalising drugs leaves the crooks with the cash. Legalise drugs instead

“I’M GONNA smoke’a de ganja until I go blind,” sang Bob Marley. “You know I smoke’a de ganja all a de time.” Jamaicans who share his devotion to cannabis have long risked arrest. But this month the government said it intended to decriminalise possession of small amounts of the drug. Several countries in Europe and Latin America have already taken this step. On the day that Jamaica announced its plans, a report commissioned by the Kofi Annan Foundation argued that minor drug offences should be decriminalised in West Africa to reduce violence and corruption.

After decades of failure it is hardly surprising that people are seeking alternatives to the ruinously expensive, bloody “war on drugs”. Prohibiting narcotics has failed to prevent an increase in their use, mainly in the rich world but increasingly in emerging markets (Brazil is now the world’s biggest customer of crack cocaine). At the same time it has enriched the criminal mafias which spread corruption and murder from London’s East End to Tijuana’s barrios, and which threaten to make failed states of countries in Africa and Latin America. Even Britain’s official advisory panel on drugs opposed the government’s move this week to criminalise khat, a mild and little-known stimulant whose users may now turn to more harmful alternatives (see article).

So reform is needed, but is decriminalisation the right approach? Jamaica has proposed that people caught with up to two ounces (57 grams) of cannabis should be fined but not arrested or taken to court. Similarly, drug users in Portugal can be forced to attend classes to get them back on the straight and narrow. Italy confiscates pot-smokers’ driving licences. These lenient penalties save thousands of young people from being branded with criminal records, and spare taxpayers the expense of arresting, trying and jailing them. Jamaica’s police, battling one of the world’s highest murder rates, have better things to do than fill the country’s jails with people whose crime is to have consumed something less potent than their island’s rum. It is madder still that Sierra Leone or Guinea should devote their meagre resources to stopping adults getting high.

But decriminalisation is only half the answer. As long as supplying drugs remains illegal, the business will remain a criminal monopoly. Jamaica’s gangsters will continue to enjoy total control over the ganja market. They will go on corrupting police, murdering their rivals and pushing their products to children. People who buy cocaine in Portugal face no criminal consequences, but their euros still end up paying the wages of the thugs who saw off heads in Latin America. For the producer countries, going easy on drug-users while insisting that the product remain illegal is the worst of all worlds.

Stir it up

That is why decriminalisation makes sense only as a step towards legalisation. Jamaica and other countries frustrated with the current regime should adopt the policy pioneered by brave Uruguay, Colorado and Washington state, the only places in the world to put criminals out of business. By legalising cannabis from cultivation to retail, these places have snatched the industry away from crooks and given it to law-abiding entrepreneurs. Unlike the mafia, they pay tax and obey rules on where, when and to whom they can sell their products. Money saved on policing weed can be spent on chasing real criminals, or on treatment for addicts.

Steps away from prohibition are to be welcomed. But half-measures could be as dangerous as overdoses.

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Cartoon explains Obamacare in Coffee Terms

What if you had to buy your coffee at your local barista shop they same way the US government wanted you to buy your health insurance? There is no better analogy to the Affordable Care Act than this short cartoon on Coffeecare.

 

COFFEECARE

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The costly impact of government meddling with markets: Why competition is good and regulation bad

How to be Profitable and Moral: A Rational Egoist Approach to Business

On my recent second trip to Finland this year my observations and discussions with the locals drew my attention to the value of competition and its effect on prices, through the comparison of Finland and Canada. On the first glance, one would think that Canada’s markets are freer and competition thus more intense, given its location next to the United States which is widely (although mistakenly) perceived as a free market. In some industries, such as consumer electronics, the markets are freer in Canada than in Finland and consumer prices therefore lower. A typical Nordic welfare state struggling with high public expenses, Finland can hardly be considered a free market haven. However, three significant markets are freer in Finland than in Canada, resulting in more competition and lower prices for consumers: air travel, wireless telephone service, and health care. Let’s discuss each to find out why Finns are paying less…

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Make Mine Freedom

Dan Mitchell from the Cato Institute shared with us today this 9:27 minute cartoon from 1948 – entitled Make Mine Freedom, on his International Liberty site. The feature debates the merits of Statism v. Capitalism. ENJOY!

 

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Misguided Beliefs In Political Leaders

An Article from the Future of Freedom Foundation

Find the link to this great article from http://www.fff.org below:

http://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/misguided-beliefs-in-political-leaders/

 

 

MISGUIDED BELIEFS IN POLITICAL LEADERS

by Richard M. Ebeling

This is an election year and as in all past election years we are inundated with promises and proposals from candidates, each hoping to attract our votes. For the most part what they are promising is “leadership” and political solutions to our personal, social and economic problems. They almost always fail to remind us, however, that in the political arena there is nothing they can do for us unless they have coercive power over us.

We need to remember that whenever political leaders undertake to “guide” America it always means a reduction in our freedom to peacefully solve our own problems and improve our own lives as we think best. Rather than each of us having the autonomy to decide what matters to us, those in political control make us all march to a single government drummer.

More Government Means Less Freedom

Are the American people to be guaranteed government-provided or subsidized health care? The only way government can do this is to tax some members of society to cover the full costs of providing it to the targeted beneficiaries, as well as prohibiting under threat of fine and/or imprisonment all attempts to choose one’s one preferred medical service and insurance.

Is government to guarantee every “working American” a decent living through a higher minimum wage? There is no way for government to impose this than by denying individuals under the threat of penalty and imprisonment the freedom to peacefully and voluntarily agree among themselves at what remuneration one person shall hire the labor services of another.

Will government undertake management of “climate change” both with in the United States and around the world? How can the political authorities even attempt to do this – however impractical and impossible – other than by abridging people’s rights to determine the use of their own property in matters of production and the pricing of goods and services they offer to the consuming public.

Besides which, whatever significant environmental problems that may be confronting the world are invariably the results of earlier government regulations over the marketplace, as well as infringements on private property rights that normally serve to limit people’s legal ability to damage others in society. Recognized and enforced private property rights minimize the negative spillover effects of one person’s actions on the property and well being of another, and all without heavy-handed government oversight and control.

Political Control Equals Fewer Personal Choices

Are various selected industries and trades to receive special protection and support from tariff walls against foreign competition, or subsidies to maintain domestic prices and stimulate foreign sales? Then American consumers will pay higher prices for the goods they wish tobuy and have less money to spend in ways that would have been available on an unhampered free market. Government, and not the free choices of buyers and sellers on an open, competitive market, then influences and directs what is offered to consumers and under what terms.

Are the youth of America to be provided with “better education” through greater government involvement in determining school standards, curriculum, and testing around the country? Then parents and children will have even fewer personal choices concerning the content and quality of education, as a government-imposed guidebook of regulations emanates from Washington, D.C., and the state capitals.

Government Commands Require Obedient Individuals

Often the imagery conjured up with the concept of “leadership” is that of the military. The leader is the commander in charge not merely of rallying but also of directing the troops to attain “victory” over a common enemy. A single strategic plan is designed and imposed on the rest of us through a chain of command.

But the very notion of such leadership implies subordination and obedience. What you or I may want must be made subservient to what the political leaders have decided for us. Unlike the totalitarian systems of the last century, such subservience in contemporary America does not involve the direct heavy-handed use of brute police power—at least not in most instances.

It is done in the United States and most Western countries more lightly through taxation, regulations, and legal prohibitions or mandates. Also, there is not one overarching central plan, as used to be imposed in the former Soviet Union. Rather there is an intricate web of different political plans, each the result of the corrupting and often contradictory interactions of politicians, bureaucrats, and special-interest groups in the modern interventionist state.

The Hubris of the Political Power-Lusters

But the fact remains that practically all those politicians running for office are selling themselves as leaders into whose hands we should place some corner of our life, since they assure us that they can take care of us and our problems better than if we tried to handle them ourselves.

Friends of freedom have long warned of the dangers from ceding authority over such matters to political leaders. Adam Smith’s words ring as true today as when he wrote them in The Wealth of Nations more than two centuries ago:

“The statesman, who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals [wealth and resources], would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which can safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.”

Concerning how to apply his time, resources, and energies, Adam Smith said, “Every individual, it is evident, can, in his local situation, judge much better than any statesman or lawgiver can do for him.”

In more recent times Adam Smith’s warning has been echoed by the Austrian economist and Nobel Laureate, F. A. Hayek, who warned of the “pretense of knowledge” on the part of those who wish to direct the affairs of society.

And the German free market economist, Wilhelm Röpke, long ago lamented the “hubris of the intellectuals,” who arrogantly presume they know enough to redesign the social order. We need to remember that the people who offer themselves to us at election time are mere mortals like ourselves. They possess no special wisdom, no Olympian powers that provide them with capacities above the “common man,” whom they claim to want to represent in political office but in reality over whom they wish to rule and command.

Political Parents and the Perpetual Citizen Child

Candidates motivated by various forms of collectivist ideology assume that when men are free, outcomes will be undesirable and that only government can set things right. These candidates view themselves as the political parents who must oversee the citizen-children (the rest of us), who perpetually are never grown up enough to be free and responsible adults.

But whether they are guided by ideology or simply a baser desire for the power that political office can provide, the reality of politics in the modern interventionist state is that “leaders” use their authority to advance special interest plundering at the expense of the rest of society.

To continue with the metaphor, these office holders are in fact abusive political parents who hurt and manipulate many of the citizen-children in their “care” to benefit themselves and favored groups that help maintain them in office. They then use various propaganda devices to persuade the abused citizen-children that it’s all being done for their own good. And, alas, too many of our fellow citizens fall victim to this psychological manipulation and cannot imagine a world without political parents who watch over and “care” for them.

In the free society – in which government is confined to the essential but limited functions of protecting life, liberty, and honestly acquired property – politicians and bureaucrats have no assigned “leadership” role. Their function is far more modest, though a useful one: seeing that each of us is left free from violence and fraud to direct his own life, as he considers best and most fulfilling.

Freedom means for each of us to be “captain of his own fate” and not to be a docile subordinate waiting for those in political authority to decide his fate for him. Indeed, those who advocate political leadership to get the nation moving, to steer it in the right direction, or to impose government cures on supposed social ills at home and abroad are the gravediggers of liberty.

The Real Political Question: Liberty vs. Power

That is why we must always beware, and most especially in election years, of those who offer themselves as our political leaders. Their triumphs mean more nails hammered into the coffin of freedom.

The friends of freedom must remind their fellow citizens that the only fundamental political question in any election is whether or not those running for political office unswervingly declare their allegiance to the philosophy of individual rights to life, liberty and property and its accompanying social system of free market capitalism?

It they do declare such allegiance, then such candidates may be worthy of the citizen’s vote on election day, and if elected they should be constantly challenged to practice the principles of freedom and limited government that they preached when running for political office.

Otherwise, we shall continue down the dangerous path of political paternalism and plunder that ends with neither freedom nor prosperity.

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