Sunday, March 1, 2009


I want to continue some of my thoughts from my last installment before I move on to new topics.

I am a libertarian. Any of my facebook friends would know this, as I am often wont to scream it from my soapbox. I am also a Libertarian. That capital letter distinguishes the political philosophy, which is very broad in it's definition, from the organized political party, which is much more narrowly defined. All Libertarians are libertarian, but not the other way around. For more info on the party, visit, or explore the Cato Institute, which is very much aligned with the party. The Libertarian Party fits me closer than any other of the non-major parties philosophically. I am, at least for now, encouraging you to explore your options to the donkeys and the elephants, be it us Libertarians, or any other. I may, and most likely will, encourage you to 'go to the light' and get behind the LP. For now- anyone but the 2 biggies!

I mentioned the 'throwing away your vote' argument posed by the keepers of the status quo. I've found a nice little analogy for this in one of my online groups-

Suppose for a moment you are a death row prisoner facing execution. It is known that you have a 46% chance of dying by lethal injection, a 49% chance of frying in the electric chair, and a 5% chance that you will escape unharmed. Would you choose one of the first two options, simply because one of those is the more likely outcome?

Also in my last post- I was a bit vague about the Republicans (especially concerning the W administration) and why people hate them enough to vote whatever Democrat the donkeys put in the race. Well, all I can tell you is what bothers ME about them..

First- and I'll just touch on this until I learn more, and as always opposing viewpoints are welcome and encouraged.
Bush gave $350,000,000,000 to the banks with the 'promise' that they'd lend it to the American people, American businesses, and each other. The Bush 'Stimulus'. Well, they didn't loan it, and we said, "Dang!". No oversight, no plan in place to ensure they acted as promised. The money's now gone, and WE are on the hook for it. The banks need more money now to survive, and they're gonna get it in the form of the newly created TARP, the Troubled Assets Relief Program. Similar to the Bush setup, but with much more oversight, restriction, and enforcement. If a bank takes the TARP money, well, essentially the federal government is now a business partner, and they'll 'make sure' the money flows into the economy. This is the 'Nationalization' of our banks (read: Socialism). I am against this whole thing, but, If powerless to stop it, I'm certainly glad it's being carefully watched. (How careful? Watched by whom? I'll give my thoughts on that either later in this post, or an upcoming one.)

Second- the whole foreign war/big 'defense' budget scenario typical of elephant regimes. $.30 of every tax dollar goes to our nation's defense budget. I am a proponent of a small peace-time military, and calling upon every able-bodied person to help defend America in times of war, when we are threatened, or attacked. This is how it was during the World Wars. World War II was already being waged without us. We didn't 'jump-in' to save anyone, we were attacked before we entered the 'Big One'. We had a small voluntary military in peacetime, and, as when we were attacked on 9/11, the patriots came out and we were united as a nation to fend off the scourge that picked the fight. This is the 'militia' the Founding Fathers described in the 2nd amendment to our constitution. Every citizen is a member of the militia. We ALL have an obligation to defend ourselves, and our non able-bodied fellow citizens; our country. I am pro-draft in wartime, because the American people are more apt to fight for a genuine cause, i.e. our own safety; the preservation of our freedoms, than any BS war the federal government wishes to engage in, if ALL of OUR sons and daughters were called up to fight. The Viet Nam War protests, the largest wartime protest in this country's history, abruptly ended when the draft did, not when the war ended. If all of us or someone close to us is called up to go fight a war, you can bet the protest will be much larger, unless Americans are comfortable with the cause we are fighting for. WWII- we were attacked. Americans decided we needed to do something about it. Not just Congress. All Americans. Viet Nam- different story. Americans were right to decide this war wasn't a cause worth fighting for, more specifically sending OUR sons and daughters to fight for. It's easier to send someone else to fight. But 'not ME!' Everyone was affected. Not just our 'troops'. Stopping the spread of Communism. As if Ho Chi Minh's next target for consumption was US, the U.S.A. No organized military in the world would DARE attempt an invasion of the U.S. Americans know this. Cowardly attack us, yes, but invasion, attempted takeover, no. Vietnam was a Bullshit war, and when they drafted Americans to fight it, widespread protest occurred, because "it might be me that goes next and I'm perfectly safe here at home. No one is attacking us here". Viet Nam War protests were much larger than the protests of the Iraqi War. That's because it's easier to send 'troops' overseas, than it is the rest of our sons and daughters. We do not need to interfere with other nations, friendly, rogue, or in-between. (Militarily that is- I'm a proponent of free world trade) Our meddling in foreign nations' own affairs is a big part of why we were attacked on 9/11. I believe that third of our tax dollars is better spent here at home, NOT keeping a military presence in 150 countries in the world, with bases numbering more than 1000.This only sounds radical in the sense that the feds have manufactured consent in America. How often is Switzerland threatened by terrorism? Are they under 'Orange Alert'? They have the same 'western' freedoms we do. I will expand on why and how we became a country in a constant state of war since WWII soon. Of course, it's mostly economic. A large, full time military was once a boon to the economy, and now we must keep it up for fear of real (and yes, painful) change. Anyone got a war that needs fighting? If not, we'll find one. Someone needs protecting, somewhere..
What do YOU think? I am interested in all viewpoints. That being said, let's get Bin Laden, try him, and get the f*** out of foreign countries.

Something I heard on the Dave Ramsey show on Fox Business channel (the first and only time I've seen his show) that I agree with wholeheartedly- What, other than our military, which is chock full of brave, dedicated great men and women, does the federal government run efficiently? I can't think of anything. This is who we want running our banks and major corporations? This is who we want to provide our health care? Oversee spending? Gimme a break.

In future posts: the IRS's extortion, endless expensive government regulation, and our President's timeline for troop withdrawal from Iraq (excluding the 50000 that are staying.)

See y'all next time. Thanks for reading, commenting, and rollin' with me.



  1. err, good luck with this.

    might want to suggest paragraphing or bullet points to break up the long blocks of rant.

    might also want to check with ron paul as to why we have to get bin laden in the first place.

  2. I appreciate the suggestions on my layout. I am new to this, and want to improve.

    I have 'checked with Ron Paul' and I guess I don't see your point. I'm studying everything I can get a hold of in the time I am allowed, and the points I agree with personally are in my posts. A lot comes from Ron Paul and others like him. I don't claim that these are original ideas, and I feel that most of what I've said is in line with Paul's philosoophies. This is a learning experience for me, which is why I welcome any comments. My own beliefs will evolve as this blog evolves and I continue to feed my head with as many perspectives as I can find.

    Oh, and I'll take the insincere good luck wish for what it's worth.

    Thanks- John

  3. John,
    I will address your points individually in order to provide a more coherent framework for potential retort/response/comment. I will preface this by pointing out that I do not categorically reject libertarianism (whether with a small or a big “L”) per se. There are some valid points made by those who claim to be adherents. I was a longtime subscriber to Reason magazine the unofficial publication of the Libertarian party. Hereinafter, I will refer to Libertarians and libertarianism as “L’s” and “l-ism” for short. To the matter at hand, however.

    1. Let’s briefly address the metaphor regarding l-ism as an alternative to the existing two party duopoly holding power.

    a. First, addressing the choice as being implicitly comparable to the choice of one means of execution or another is not valid. True, it can be argued that some people (active duty combat troops, for instance) do indeed have their life or death determined to one extent or another by the Executive branch of the government. However, given that the active duty US military represents barely 1/3 of one percent of the US population, that is hardly a sound basis for use of the metaphor. Put more succinctly, it is not reasonable to imply that one’s choice of president is analogous to a life or death situation.

    b. Second, your argument is not logically valid since it proceeds from an a priori assumption that the third choice is objectively superior to the first two choices. That is a subjective matter. It is not logically valid to make an argument which proceeds from a subjective assumption. It may be rhetorically effective, but it is not logically valid.

    2. Next, regarding the TARP. I will preface this by pointing out that I have some fairly intimate knowledge of how this shook out by virtue of secondhand - though eminently reliable -information from a group of investment bankers and financiers spread about the globe.

    a. The TARP was ill-considered in most respects. However, it is important to note what the TARP was not. It was not a “stimulus plan” to drive lending. Not really, anyway. It was sold to the American public as that. What it really was, was a confidence boosting measure that the Treasury and the Fed had to make to insure everyone that someone would back up (vouch for) the massive, unbelievable debt hole that every major US broker-dealer and bank suddenly found itself falling into. Essentially, the entire world economy is a giant confidence game and the US is the guy who has to keep the cards moving. Now, many L-s and adherents of l-ism will argue that the cards should just fall where they may. That is ill-informed, dangerous and just plain dumb (I’m sorry, but it just is). Let’s see if we can explain this very quickly.

    i. Back in the 80’s, American investors started wanting more than just plain old dividend-bearing stocks to prop up their retirement plans. So, they started using the massive wealth within their mutual funds to push companies to change their operational policies. The new imperative? Growth and lots of it. Damn the cost, fill speed ahead.

    ii. So, American companies started offshoring jobs. First it was simple stuff like squeakie toys and small, low-tech components for household appliances, etc. But, as the profit margins increased and variable costs decreased, soon even fixed cost models were improving and companies were posting up record profits. This made investors happy. So, of course, if you could outsource one component, you could outsource them all, right? So, they did. And, more and more jobs were lost to cheap overseas competition. Good, you say? Wrong. This drove the median wage level down. Sure, lots of people did okay during the dot-com boom, but as anyone who worked for one of those companies can tell you, that was all ephemeral and it all blew away for most people as easily it came. So, as wages fall, so does consumption. So, how do you prop that up?

    iii. Debt. The US Treasury/Fed/Gov’t figured out that they could increase the buying power of Americans and that those Americans wouldn’t give a hoot so long as their houses kept going up and up in value. They accomplished this by making debt cheap for banks and by cutting barriers to lending. (a quick aside: some will blame the Community Reinvestment Act, here. Though that was some of the problem, it pales in comparison to the bigger issue which is) greed. Lots and lots of greed. And no oversight. Banks lent recklessly, insanely, voraciously. Ask anyone who was in the mortgage business and they will generally tell you that the lending was totally out of control. Consumers meanwhile borrowed recklessly, insanely and voraciously. Because, that’s what consumers s do. They want to keep up with the Jones’s

    iv. Now, we find ourselves massively in debt, with no industrial base to speak of and waiting for a recovery in which we compete with Laotians for jobs they are willing to do for one tenth the price of us. Welcome to the 21st century.

    b. Back to the TARP. The idea was to make sure that every bank president and every director of every Federal Reserve or central bank in every country knew that the US was abso-fucking-lutely not going to let the system crash on their watch. Was it handled ideally? No. Why? Because, by and large, if the average American really understood what nearly happened. Really understood it. They would crap their pants, grab all the guns they could, clean out their bank accounts and go hide in the attic. Again, some adherents of l-ism may think this is preferable. I would suggest that they study recent history in, say, Argentina to see why this is such a profoundly bad thing. Just think what you would do, city dweller, without ready access to food? Starve.

    So, at any rate, yeah, TARP was ill-considered and poorly presented, but it was necessary. But, yes, it really was just as bad as all that.

    3. Regarding bank nationalization. Well, see the above. Most US banks are technically insolvent. While it is okay for a whole country to run around being insolvent, it is not okay for bank since they don’t have, you know, nuclear weapons. Think about it like this. Citibank, Bank of America, etc. are very closely wrapped up with hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign funds and US depositor savings. If one of them were to fail, the consequences would be swift, global and disastrous. You want to fight the Chinese for what’s left of the scraps after Citi goes into receivership? No? I didn’t think so. As with TARP and the broker-dealers (which, you will notice, were generally, dismantled in a reasonably orderly fashion), the US government will likely need to step in for a while and smooth the transition from one state to another. Rapid transitions lead to chaos. Chaos is bad in banking.

    4. The military and US foreign interests. Do you know what makes globalization possible. If you recall, earlier, we discussed the concept of offshored labor. Well, now, with all of that offshoring, we rely on people in many distant lands to make our stuff and grow our food. Globalization (which you profess to support) requires the ability to project force. The interlocking system of agreements, treaties, etc that has been formed to make globalization work is founded on a dizzying amount of back-room protection-racket like handshake agreements (sometimes explicit agreements) where we agree to protect so-and-so from this-and-that in exchange for cheap these-and-those. You don’t drive, John. I do. A long damned way every day. Because I want to ? No, because I have to. If oil went to $200 a barrel forever, that would be really, really bad for my finances and for those of a lot of other Americans, too. (It will one day, but, once again, the transition must be orderly). Food? Yeah, more and more is coming from elsewhere. Clothes. Do you like clothes? Today? When it’s snowing like hell? Well, those are all made in Bangladesh, Malaysia and other places. Every one of those places requires that the US have some military expeditionary force nearby in order to insure that we keep getting the things we need in order to maintain, well … order.

    a. Keep in mind, for instance that the primary thing which would ever enable the US to maintain a smaller army is …. Nuclear weapons. These days, more and more of the vital components (raw materials, cobalt for instance) come from overseas. That means, you guessed it, more troops in faraway lands.

    b. By the way, regarding WWII, it is important to note that only 33% of troops volunteered. The rest were drafted. Many people opposed getting into the war in Europe for quite a while.

    c. There is very little legal basis for the assertion that we are all obligated to protect either ourselves or our neighbors. In the case of ourselves, it is of course illogical not to protect oneself. In the case of others? That is far more gray. There are many instances where it is not only uncertain, it may be specifically inadvisable to come to the aid of others. Just ask any cop dealing with a domestic violence call. The officer very frequently becomes the object of animosity by all parties involved. My Father once pointed out to me that if you see someone you don’t know getting smacked around by someone else, do not get involved. That will only lead to trouble for you.

    5. Okay, this is the last point I will make in this response ( I will, naturally, supply some closing points). Dave Ramsey exhorted his listeners/viewers to show what, other than the military, does the government run efficiently. Let’s return to logical flaws here. Ramsey’s question proceeds from the assumption that we all agree what “efficiently” means. That’s the problem. It’s an issue of framing. In the case of a company producing a widget, the principles of what defines “efficient” can be agree d upon from a financial standpoint. The problem is, when you begin talking about things which are not goods, but are more service oriented in nature, the term efficient rapidly becomes very subjective. Without a common understanding that “efficiency” is a measure which varies depending upon what is being measured, we cannot agree upon an answer to Mr. Ramsey’s question. I would submit, though, the following:

    a. Government exists to provide A). those things which are of low individual (or small group) benefit, but are of high large group benefit. B). act as an intermediary in transactions between individuals where information flow is highly limited or transparency is very low and C). To provide those things which have very high barriers to entry. To wit,

    i. The CDC. The Center for Disease Control is not something you want left to private enterprise. If left to private enterprise, the CDC would need to figure out how to turn a profit. If that’s what you want, you’re clinically insane.
    ii. The EPA. Everybody bitches about the EPA when they are in executive management of a company which pollutes. But, it has been proven over and over again that private enterprise is dismal at self-regulation. Thus the need for an oversight body.
    iii. The State Department. You think companies could handle this better? They are the only ones who can handle it.
    iv. The interstate highway system. This would never have been built without the efforts of Dwight Eisenhower. As an aside, did you know that in old Europe, trains often had to stop at borders and passengers had to switch because a lack of central control and standards meant that train rail gauges differed from region to region.
    v. The US Treasury. For a perfect example of where free enterprise cannot work, see the US banking system in the 1700’s and early 1800’s. At one point, there were many different currencies in use in different parts of the country. This resulted in a complete inability of people to conduct transactions outside of their home regions (or the region where they did business).
    vi. The Consumer Product Safety Commission. Private enterprise can’t do this job. Information frequently flows too slowly, there is too much room for gaming the system and (especially in the case of complex goods), it is too difficult to tell which component is causing failure.
    vii. The list goes on and on.

    Essentially, in asking the question, Ramsey is proceeding from an assumption (again, an a priori assumption) that because some aspects of something are inefficient, the whole thing is bad and is therefore suspect. That is a flawed and intellectually dishonest assumption. I know Ramsey and Neil Boortz and their ilk well. They are part of the typical L and “l” “Throw the baby, the bathwater, the tub and the bathroom” out types.

    Fundamentally, John, while libertarianism is a quaint notion and Ron Paul is a nifty ideologue with some spiffy talking points and some often decently though out positions, it remains that the party and the ideology are essentially crankish, lacking in intellectual seriousness and generally oblivious to the “reality on the ground”.

    There are a wide range of things, goods, services, wants and needs, which, when you reach 300million+ citizens, only the government can provide. In a country as geographically, culturally and intellectually as diverse as ours - a country with such disparate access to communication and with so much variance in intellectual and emotional capacity to process the information given to them, the government serves as, yes, a sort of papa Bear.

    It may be distasteful, but our society and our technology have become so complex that it is increasingly very difficult to rely on only our own senses and “horse sense” to make decisions. While some may wish for a long past idyllic, pastoral world where you could trust people based on a handshake and where you could “get the measure of a man” by having coffee with him, that’s just not realistic anymore. Lots of people trusted their bankers when they said “don’t worry about the interest rate, you can just re-fi it later”. Today? They couldn’t re-fi if their mane was John D. Rockefeller. The cause? No oversight, no strictly enforced regulations.

    Libertarians and libertarians wish for a world where they can be free to carry guns wherever they want, make informed decisions about where to get healthcare, send their kids to whatever schools they like (and not have to pay for schools for other kids), drive whatever they like, spew whatever they want into the nearest lake, whatever. The thing they forget is that their decisions directly affect others. One man’s decision to drive around in a ridiculously huge SUV which is terribly gas in-efficient means I have to pay more for gas. One person’s decision to not pay for school taxes means my kids get one less computer in their classrooms.

    Part of the price of living in this country is that you are a part of a big tribe, whether you like it or not. We are all American’s and the greater good is often served by reducing the freedoms of a minority. I understand that libertarians feel that the government treats us like children. But that’s because – as the mortgage crisis has so clearly shown – we really are children a lot of the time. People are generally rule by their base passions and are often subject to greed to the significant detriment of their neighbors. Look up the concept of the tragedy of the commons to really understand what I mean by this.

    Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough for this response. I am certain to be responded to myself. Take it easy.