Who says, “Taxation is Theft”?

Have you ever heard someone say, Taxation is theft? How does it strike you? Is it shocking or appalling, perhaps even frightening? Although it seems self evident to me today, I can vaguely remember the first few times I encountered that saying. Probably about 19 years ago. It did not shock me exactly. But I was confused and not sure I could believe such a bold claim. Yet the more I revisited it and the longer I examined it, the clearer and more meaningful it became to me. It is now an obvious and integral part of my understanding of this mixed up, mumbled up world in which we live. If you want to understand the thinking going on in my personal skull and others like me (Libertarians, anarchists, minarchists, and Ron Swanson) then you may want to consider the expression. Not that you’ll agree with it. But it is helpful if you want to see our framework for the sake of empathy, or even for the sake of better dealing with us in a debate. I’m not worried about giving you an unfair advantage in that debate. Our case is so strong already. ūüôā

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Again, you may or may not agree with the concept. But if you can at least wrap your mind around it then you’ll be¬†superbly equipped¬†to understand your “crazy” libertarian friend or family member. Hopefully this will open up a whole¬†world of communication.¬†You’ll see where they’re coming from. And more than likely you’ll be able to help them see where YOU are coming from.

Briefly, what does it mean to say that taxation is theft, and how could that be true? Consider the following line of reasoning… If I held a gun to someone’s head and demanded their money then you would plainly agree, I hope, that is theft. Even if I wanted to use that money for a worthy cause. Now suppose a group of us got together and voted on taking the money. It would still be theft. And if the entire population voted to elect people to make¬†decisions about¬†taking that money and how to use it, then it would STILL be theft. And of course that is exactly what we have in the institution known as taxation. At least that’s how we tend to view it. If one does NOT pay their taxes, then ultimately men with guns will take them away by force.

If you can grok that one basic idea, then you’ll have the key to the entire libertarian mindset. Essentially, any regulation or¬†prohibition or¬†act of government which is not dealing with a direct¬†act of violence such as theft, rape, or murder – is in ITSELF an act of violence. The only justifiable use of force is in response to such acts.¬†It is called the Nonaggression Principle. (NAP)¬†Thus government run welfare programs; restrictions on what you can do with your own body; and foreign invasions; are all considered immoral acts of aggression.¬†By the way, I’ve seen too much evidence that those activities¬†only benefit the corporate elite, keep people impoverished, and create more enemies for us around the world. But even if¬†we assume¬†hypothetically those programs have some¬†worthy and¬†beneficial outcomes, they are still funded by theft and enforced by¬†violence. They are still¬†immoral.

Love it, hate it, call me crazy, but PLEASE try that on for size. The paradigm of your friendly neighborhood libertarian. And I hope it gives you some insight.

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Libertarian is not “Conservative”

Why have these two often been mixed up together. Why they should not. And what we (Libertarians) can do about it.

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My Favorite Videos

Do you know what I love? I love watching those videos of soldiers returning home. You know the ones I mean. You’ve seen them pop up in your news feed. It is usually a football game, or a graduation, or maybe a birthday party. A marine or soldier in uniform sneaks in and surprises the unsuspecting youngster. The cheerleader at the halftime show had no idea their dad had been released early. The boy who is curious about the huge mysterious box in the backyard is overjoyed when his big brother pops out of it. And we are all brought to tears when mom, fresh from deployment, scoops up her tots.

Now that North and South Korea are reaching a peace agreement I am looking forward to even more of these videos! South Korea won’t need the U.S. forces there. Our military can close the bases and start bringing the approximately 30 thousand troops back stateside. We can have many more scenes of soldiers coming home and reuniting with their loved ones.

You know what? Maybe they could make a whole TV show out of it. Every week we can watch dozens of new homecomings! Keep your tissues handy because this is going to be drippy snot face love city! It will be so popular we will want to close more bases around the world. Everyday there can be an hour of troops coming home and hugging their families.  Never to be deployed for invasion and occupation of foreign lands ever again!

Let’s close all the bases and bring them all home. With over 200,000 forces in about 180 countries around the world, that should be enough to keep us celebrating for quite some time. We can have the video playing non-stop for a year. More hugging, more love, more crying tears of joy. Of course the military profiteers won’t like it. They will be crying tears of anger and despair. But there will be far less need to tax our incomes to pay for the bloated military. All those men and women returning home can spend their incomes here. The overall economy will thrive.

And without the U.S. military getting involved in civil wars of foreign states, and without the perpetual bombings and killing of people’s loved ones, there will gradually be fewer and fewer worldwide enemies of Americans. We will be vastly safer. There will be even more reason to celebrate. Once all the troops are home and all the reunions have been shown, let’s not make the mistakes of the past and send them abroad again. Let’s keep them here, and just watch reruns of them returning home!

Ridicule On the Road to Victory

First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win.

I have two new pieces of¬†evidence that we are in the “ridicule you”¬†or “fight you” stage.¬†Last week I came across a video entitled “The¬†Religion of Libertarians” by a youtube¬†channel called Newsbroke. It’s snarky,¬†not completely inaccurate, and I would even say¬†witty. Yes, it is chock full of mischaracterizations of libertarians¬†and Straw Man arguments against our philosophy, but it does portray the basic principles of Libertarianism.¬†That being self ownership, nonaggression, and¬†freedom – for All, socially AND economically. Many people who are¬†leaning our way¬†will be inclined to look into the Libertarian Party after watching that video. So thanks for the promo! But the main point is that someone took the time to make that video in the first place. They must be getting scared. We are being taken seriously. When you are enough of a threat that they don’t just ignore you, but they (attempt to)¬†make fun of and attack you,¬†then you are doing something right!

Ridicule to Victory

The other recent attack comes from Robert Reich in a video he published¬† on April 19th. He asks, “Should You Vote for a Third Party?” ** SPOILER ALERT¬†** His answer is NO. This longtime friend/advisor to the Clintons, and champion of BIG government, BIG banks, and¬†BIG cronyism,¬†is scared of the little third parties. Enough so that he’s decided to¬†lecture us against the folly of trying to go outside the prescribed two party box. He blames people who voted third party for the loss of Hillary Clinton and the disastrous election of Donald Trump in 2016. Even though the biggest third party vote total was by far for Libertarian Gary Johnson. And most of those voters certainly would not have chosen Clinton as their second choice. In other words, third party candidates “stole” more votes from Trump. Although instead of saying it that way, I describe it as the exact opposite. The Democrats and Republicans actually tend to “steal” votes from the Libertarian, Green, and other parties. Those candidates, such as Jill Stein of the Green Party would be many voters’ first choice. But because they are afraid of wasting their vote they are often shamed into voting for the¬†establishment status¬†quo¬†candidate whom they really don’t want but fear slightly less than the other establishment status quo candidate. Thus the establishment LOVES keeping the Red Team Vs Blue team animosity at full boil.

Which is why it shocked me to hear Robert Reich¬†endorsing something new. In that “Should You Vote for a Third Party” video he advocated for¬†ranked-choice voting. Instead of voting for a single candidate, ranked-choice voting has you put the candidates¬†in order of¬†your preference. If there is no clear winner from the first choice votes the¬†other preferred choices get factored in.¬†As Reich says this allows you to vote your conscience.¬†(So I guess he realizes voting for R’s and D’s goes AGAINST your conscience.) What I don’t get is how he could possibly think ranked-choice voting would be good for the Democratic Party and the system he has fought so consistently to defend.

Personally, I love exploring new possibilities such as ranked-choice voting, and also proportional representation as another alternative. In proportional representation the legislature is made up of candidates from ALL parties in proportion to the vote total they received. If the House is made up of 50 representatives and the Green Party got 10% of the vote total in an election then the Green Party would have five representatives in the House.

I applaud any new system which allows for more choice and enables people to break free from old paradigms. I also encourage you on your journey (be it your political, spiritual, artistic journey, or all of the above) NOT to fear criticisms of your beliefs. Welcome those criticisms, explore and play with them. If someone goes to the trouble of trying to keep you down then you are probably on your way up!

Libertarians’ #1 Issues (Southwest MO 1/20/2018)

A sizable gang of liberty lovers and I took the three hour road-trip from Kansas City down to Springfield, Missouri to be guests at the Greene County Libertarian Party annual convention. I brought my video camera with me and did a whole bunch of short interviews with Libertarians from several parts of Missouri and Kansas as well. The question of the day, “What is your number one Libertarian issue?” The results are a wonderful sampling of the current issues driving the Libertarian Party today.

Flake’s Not So Daring Move

“It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, who is pro-immigration has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party.”

Senator Jeff Flake announced yesterday he will not seek reelection in 2018. The above quote was the only important line from his entire speech.

 

jflakeFlake focused on President Trump’s tweets and indecency of behavior. He accused Trump of being undignified and of having mercurial behavior. Really? Who cares. Everyone knows Trump is a boisterous undignified jerk. Even his supporters don’t try to dispute that. There is nothing brave or edgy about calling the current president indecent, even for a lame duck Republican.

It WOULD have been brave and provocative to criticize Trump for his overreach in executive powers, for unconstitutional use of spying and the Patriot Act, for his failure to keep his campaign promises to end foreign wars, and for escalating the drone-killing of hundreds and perhaps thousands of innocents.

But those exact criticisms could equally have been made about a recent far more popular, dignified, and “decent” president. That is why it is easier for Republicans and Democrats alike to criticize President Trump for his mercurial disrespectful behavior rather than for his deadly immoral destructive policy.

Wishing you love, liberty, and peace РNed Kelley 10/25/2017

Love and Tolerance

It is never wrong to try to see all sides. It is called empathy, and empathy is not equivalent to condoning immorality. On September 11th, 2001 I was one of many people asking, “Why did they do this?” And I continue to ask that question. What would drive a terrorist to that level of hatred, to fly a plane into a building, to kill thousands? I seek to understand their story, their history, how they came to their view. That does not mean I approve of their tactics. What they did was evil. But let us strive to understand in order to help heal and prevent it from happening again. Likewise there is nothing wrong with attempting to understand the mindset of people who would march in the name of “White Nationalism.” Empathy is neither a sign of weakness nor indifference. It is the courage to listen to that which you abhor. ¬†To see all sides does not mean you endorse, agree, or condone their actions. It only means you are attempting to reveal the elements which have brought them to their current level of fear. And make no mistake, it is fear which drives their vitriol, violence, and intolerance.

NonTol QstnWe must not tolerate intolerance! On the face of that statement, I agree. Yet what does that mean? What is an act of “not tolerating” intolerance? Speaking up when someone makes an offensive remark? Good. Refusing to invite a homophobic couple over for dinner? I would not want them at my house either. Boycotting a business run by self-proclaimed Nazis? Indeed, you have every right to do business, or not, with anyone you choose. You even have the right to show up and counter-protest. Although that seems counterproductive to me. Loud counter-protests only bring more attention and energy to the demonstration in the first place. Which is what they want. The best strategy I can think of is to either ignore that Alt-Right rally, Klan march, etc. Or find a creative positive manner of counter protest without seeking a direct confrontation. Direct and violent confrontation is what the Antifa movement tends to do, regardless of whether they have a right to show up seeking a fight, it is not a productive method.

I also find it unproductive to tell someone they should or shouldn’t see both sides. There are many more than just two sides. (Which is why I started from the top with ALL sides.) Claiming that if you don’t want to ban racist speech you must therefore be a racist is a false dichotomy. This is a form of gas-lighting, trying to force someone to choose between either YOUR opinion or a blatant evil. It is similar to the topic of Global-Warming. You either agree with their prescription or you are a climate-change denier. The issue is more complex and there are many questions to explore. What are the causes? What can be done about it? What role, if any, should government play? What can I personally or my community do? Rather than trying to make it a simplistic binary. Those same questions can and should be examined when it comes to topics such as confederate statues and hate speech.

punch chartSo, WHY HATE? Why do people denounce hate with as much vitriol as the haters? I would guess part of the reason is tribal identity. Saying you want to punch Nazis distances you from those bad/fringe/intolerant people, and helps confirm your identity with the acceptable/enlightened/in-crowd. But when one uses the opinions and thoughts of others (not actual violent acts) to justify their own initiation of violence, that is extreme tribalism. It is exactly what those violent and intolerant groups do. And it only leads to more of the same.

 

 

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