Archive for Policy

  • Robert Taylor
  • 31
  • Oct
  • 10

As November approaches in a year that is divisible by two, politics turns from its background nuisance into an obsession. Television ads dominate the airwaves, pamphlets urging citizens to vote for or against certain measures litter the streets, and the debate between friends and co-workers grows deeper and more volatile.

The question inevitably comes up, “so, who are you voting for?” I often get a lot of curious and even angry looks when I explain that I don’t vote. But, comes the usual response, voting is your voice, your chance to participate in our democracy, to change things for the good, and so on.

But when I take a look around, what has been accomplished by voting? There exists poverty, bailout  rip-offs, stupid wars in countries most Americans can hardly pronounce, inflation, and debt.

It’s easy to blame the politicians and bureaucrats for these troubles since they are the ones calling the shots, but the blame lies squarely on us. By voting, we are choosing between the the lesser of two evils, to entrusting our lives and our property to a third party, and at its core, voting implies consent to political rule.

Like inmates in a prison who feel “free” when our wardens give us longer breaks, better meals, or loosened chains, voting gives legitimacy to the State. The State is founded upon naked aggression or the threat of it, but ultimately its authority rests on the consent of the governed.

This is the heart of why I don’t vote: I do not consent to being taxed, regulated, controlled, restricted, lectured, conscripted, and ultimately coerced. As a free and sovereign individual, I feel it is the most patriotic thing one can do.

Just imagine for a second, as the great Frank Chodorov once asked, if no one voted?

Such abstinence would be tantamount to this notice to politicians: since we as individuals have decided to look after our affairs, your services are no longer needed. Having assumed social power we must, as individuals, assume social responsibility – provided, of course, the politicians accept their discharge. The job of running the community would fall on each and all of us. We might hire an expert to tell us about the most improved firefighting apparatus, or a manager to look after cleaning the streets, or an engineer to build us a bridge; but the final decision, particularly in the matter of raising funds to defray costs, would rest with the townhall meeting. The hired specialists would have no authority other than that necessary for the performance of their contractual duties; coercive power, which is the essence of political authority, would be exercised, if necessary, only by the committee of the whole.

By voting, we give consent to a social order that relies on a top-down, monopolistic institution and discourages or eliminates the infinite other ways that order, goods, and services can be provided. As Thomas Paine pointed out, a large majority of the order that exists in society comes from every man’s rational self-interest to improve his existence and the voluntary exchange of goods, labor, and services in the marketplace.

Can you imagine what the reactions in the corporate media and the halls of Congress would be if no one showed up to vote on Election Day? It would send shock waves throughout the entire institutionalized structure of DC’s parasitic empire.

Instead of handing away your life to a snake in a suit who’s sole purpose is to get re-elected, I recommend committing the most revolutionary act you can do and engage in self-improvement. Lead by example and withdraw consent, read voraciously, work hard, and live as freely as you possibly can.

Peaceful sedition, quiet rebellion, and skepticism are the soul of the American contribution to the world. Just ask the great Emma Goldman:

The poor, stupid, free American citizen! Free to starve, free to tramp the highways of this great country, he enjoys universal suffrage, and, by that right, he has forged chains about his limbs. The reward that he receives is stringent labor laws prohibiting the right of boycott, of picketing, in fact, of everything, except the right to be robbed of the fruits of his labor…

Or Henry David Thoreau:

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers, or backgammon, a playing with right and wrong; its obligation never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right thing is doing nothing for it. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.

These sentiments echo the conclusions of many, like Franz Oppenheimer, who argued that there are essentially two ways that human beings can interact with each other: the political means and the economics means.

The economic means include any voluntary, consensual, mutually-beneficial activity, whether it be grocery stores, farmers markets, neighborhood watches, homeowners associations, the internet; spontaneous, horizontal structures of activity that benefit mankind since they are done voluntarily. The political means are the means of all States and private criminals: force, fraud, aggression, or theft.

By voting, we give power and legitimacy to the political, exploitative means of human interaction, that a group of fallible individuals (whether called a King, Monarch, President, or Legislature) has the right or the ability to manage the infinitely complex and unpredictable results of human action.

So this November, I will gladly stand quietly, firmly, with my liberty and my dignity, and withdraw my consent. Can you imagine if a million others did the same?

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  • Robert Taylor
  • 03
  • Jan
  • 10

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how the outlets of the mainstream press in the US are rapidly losing readers and relevancy. These rags of wasted ink and paper, these “news” programs with screaming talk heads, are not “liberal” or “conservative.” They are nothing more than mouthpieces for the centralized whims of the DC war machine.

This theme was echoing through my mind as I witnessed the coverage of the latest events unfolding in the US military’s ongoing occupation of Afghanistan.

Last week, the Taliban launched a suicide attack on a US base that is directing deadly drone strikes over the skies of Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing a handful of CIA agents in the process.

The mainstream press jumped all over the story, warning Americans about the “dangerous instability” in those Central Asian mountains. They noted that the female station chief at the US base who was killed was “a mother of three children.” The prescription of course, is more killing.

This story is definitely news worth reporting, but contrast the coverage of this Taliban bombing with the attention given to another significant story, and the media’s bias is revealed.

In a horrific incident, US troops dragged innocent children out of their bed during a raid, handcuffed them, and shot them, execution style (including an 11-year old girl!). Here is an eyewitness testimony from The London Times (a non-American news outlet, of course):

In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster [of the local school] said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived. “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas. “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.

“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.”

A local elder, Jan Mohammed, said that three boys were killed in one room and five were handcuffed before they were shot. “I saw their school books covered in blood,” he said.

The investigation found that eight of the victims were aged from 11 to 17. The guest was a shepherd boy, 12, called Samar Gul, the headmaster said. He said that six of the students were at high school and two were at primary school. He said that all the students were his nephews.

For some reason, Afghans don't like being occupied (Ahmad Masood/Reuters).

As dlindorff notes in his excellent blog, there was only one report about this war crime in the US. The New York Times mentioned it once, and only about how those pesky civilian killings are getting in the way of the war effort.

The report of this massacre has sparked outrage all over Afghanistan, and more and more Afghans are protesting the US occupation (with its daily dose of bombings and raids) and demanding that Obama stop the bloodshed.

If only Obama were listening. Unfortunately, our chickenhawk-emperor just deployed an extra 30,000+ American troops and is telling us that the US will continue to be killing Afghans indefinitely because of the supposed “threat” the Taliban poses to the US.

Yes, the Taliban are basically Nazis with turbans, but they have no desire to harm the continental US. As attacks like the recent bombings show, they want nothing more than US and NATO troops out of their country. The Taliban are simply responding as most people tend to do when foreign soldiers build bases all over their country, kick in doors pointing machine-guns, and rain down bombs.

The US media could end this trillion dollar war in a heartbeat if it truly valued honest journalism and reporting. They could simply show the countless pictures of maimed Afghans and Marines, or report cowardly bombings from 10,000 feet and the CIA’s soulless drone strikes (Obama’s favorite imperial tool).

Thankfully, information-starved Americans are starting to flock to the free and mostly unregulated Internet for their news as CNN, FOX, NBC and mainstream “news”papers are on life support.

Good riddance.

_

For more of Robert’s work, please visit his Libertarian Examiner blog.

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  • Robert Taylor
  • 28
  • Dec
  • 09

While I spent my Christmas weekend surrounded by family, friends, and the warm central California weather, I tried for just a few days to escape the whirlwind circus of American politics.

Sadly, I couldn’t help myself.

While scanning the Internet for news stories (since TV and newspapers are anemic sources of information), I stumble across President Obama quietly signing a Christmas Eve executive order giving another bailout to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, two of Obama’s largest campaign contributors. And I could barely keep from laughing while watching Senator Max Baucus (D-Pharmaceutical Industry) resurrect the ghost of Ted Kennedy while drunkenly stammering and slobbering all over the Senate floor.

But the thing that stood out to me the most was Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Pentagon) calling for preemptive military strikes on Yemen after the failed attack by what is now being called the “underwear bomber.” On a flight bound for Detroit, a Nigerian man put firecrackers in his pants in an apparent attempt at terrorism. He received training and supplies from Yemen, and Al Qaeda, whose presence is growing in the southern tip of the Persian Gulf, is taking credit for the foiled attack.

Immediately, security agencies (there are too many to count) began beefing up security at domestic and international airports, and President Obama assured us today that he is doing everything he can to keep us safe and will soon be launching “accelerated offensives” in Yemen.

There is so much wrong with the responses to this plot it’s hard to know where to begin.

Increasing government “security” only provides the illusion of safety and at great costs to what’s left of our civil liberties.

As Congressman Ron Paul (R-Constitution) pointed out in a great debate on CNN today, the US is spending nearly $75 billion on security measures that are ineffective and easily outmaneuvered. He correctly notes how markets do a far better of job of providing protection, as it is up to individual owners of factories, hotels, banks, etc. to care of their property. If airlines were in charge of their own security instead of the clumsy and pushy TSA, flights would likely be much safer (and no strip searches either!)

Coming back to the suggestion of Lieberman that the US preemptively rain terror on Yemen, I wonder if he is aware that US special forces have been launching raids inside of Yemen for months, that the US-funded Saudi government is continually bombing the Yemeni border, and that President Obama fired a handful of cruise missiles into Yemen a week and a half ago, killing 120?

These minor points aside, the growing calls to blitz Yemen is typical of US policymakers: counterproductive overreaction. It might come as a shock to some, but terrorism comes to the continental US as a direct response to the terror that the US military has been inflicting on the Arab world for decades.

Initiating sanctions that starve half of a million Iraqis; bombing city after city; propping up corrupt governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan that torture, rob, and kill their own citizens; handing out billions of dollars a year for the last five decades to Israel so that they can wage indiscriminate warfare on their neighbors and cage the Palestinians in their own cities.

These are the reasons gullible young Muslim men are willing to blow themselves up. Losing a family member, a home, or a mosque in a US air strike might piss some people off.

Responding to acts or threats of terrorism with overwhelming military force is like chopping a machete to a problem that needs the calculated scalpel of effective intelligence gathering and police work. Using the logic of the Lieberman and Obama, the British had every right to launch air raids on the Irish Mafia in Boston for helping to fund IRA bombings and India should nuke Chicago for the Mumbia attacks.

The attempted attack last weekend fits the cyclical nature of America’s imperial foreign policy perfectly: we intervene militarily around the globe, terrorists strike back, more socialist security; we intervene militarily around the globe, terrorists strike back, more socialist security…

Under this rubble of fear-mongering and the bogeyman of terrorism, Americans become more and more willing to sacrifice freedom for the illusion of security. Eventually, we will run out of liberties to hand over.

_

For more of Robert’s work, please visit his Libertarian Examiner blog.

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  • Robert Taylor
  • 20
  • Dec
  • 09

When news stories started reporting that DC might be closed this weekend due to a blizzard that was sweeping across the East Coast, I finally got into the Christmas spirit; let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. For the brief bliss of one weekend, Americans would be spared  from the draconian legislation that usually crawls its way out of DC.

Members of the Imperial Senate, however, did find time on Friday to put the finishing touches on President Obama’s 2010 “defense” budget (H.R. 3326, which passed 93 to 6 in the Senate and 400-30 in the House), a $636 billion appropriations bill. It is loaded with all the corruption you would expect in the largest welfare program in US history, $20.5 billion more than President Bush’s last defense bill.

While taking a look through the bill, it’s easy to see why so many members of Congress enthusiastically voted in favor of such a monstrosity. Americans will be robbed of nearly a trillion of their dollars in order to fund pork, pet projects, foreign aid to abusive governments, defense contractors, and all of the politically-connected cronies that always gravitate towards DC when “defense” budgets are being voted on.

I say “defense” because if Congress or the President were interested solely in the defense of this country, than the amount of money needed for effective intelligence gathering and protection of our shores would be about 2-3% percent of this.

George Orwell famously noted that manipulating the language is an essential task of any government, and labeling this a “defense” bill would make Orwell laugh (or cry).

For example, $30 billion is guaranteed to the Israeli government over ten years, which means that the US taxpayer will be funding about a fifth of Israel’s military expenditures every year. $500 million is headed to the thuggish Palestinian Authority. Additionally, Israel is required to spend at least 75% of this money on US contractors. Who says Obama isn’t creating any jobs!

$130 billion of it will be used to keep funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which despite claims by the Obama Administration that we’ll be leaving just in time for his re-election run, we’re not leaving anytime soon.

So far under President Obama’s watch, 231 soldiers (and counting) have died in Afghanistan since he took office, over one-fourth of the total American casualties of Operation Enduring Freedom. In 10 months. After that $130 billion is spent, how many more Marines will have died? And how much more money will be thrown at this mess?

The bill also increases funding to the US Navy, which already has 11 nuclear-armed warships patrolling every ocean and is larger than the next thirteen biggest navies combined. Part of this money has probably funded the US Navy’s new PR campaign, asking more farm-boys and poor blacks to join the “global force for good.”

Even our Navy admits that the US is a global empire.

In addition to the Democrats who voted yay, 34 out of 40 Republicans in the Senate and 170 out of 178 Republicans in the House also voted for this Leviathan bill, which means the Boeing’s and Lockheed Martin’s in their district will continue to supply the money and lobbying power to get them reelected again and again.

This “defense” bill proves that Congress and the President are not divided; they are united behind a single, imperial cause: war.

_

For more of Robert’s work, please visit his Libertarian Examiner blog.

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  • Rob Spectre
  • 15
  • Dec
  • 09

As the final year of this decade of fail draws to a close, everyone with a keyboard is making a list and checking it twice.  It’s the hour for picking the winners and picking the losers; the snoozer season when writers can phone it in for a few weeks with top ten drivel and self-serving ratings.  For those with an eye on Washington, we are producing a familiar name on lists both favorable and failing:  Joe Lieberman.

Photo: US Senate

Photo: US Senate

He kicked off the 21st century as the base play on the Democratic ticket – the guy who was supposed to solidify the Democratic diehards behind former veep Al Gore during his impossible run against the red state calculus that had tilted in strong favor of George W. Bush.  He was the guy to whip Clinton’s old guard behind the less charismatic, but no less thoughtful, leader of a new Democratic party.  Neither he nor his commander-in-chief-to-be succeeded in either task, little match against a decade of gerrymandered districts and Karl Rove’s timely tactics.

Just under ten years ago, Joe Lieberman was the guy you went to if you needed Democrats on your side.  Now, they can barely speak his name without spitting it.  Particularly as we near the endgame for Barack Obama’s healthcare initiative, Lieberman (I-CT)  may be a pariah in cocktail party circles but his careful manipulation of the letter beside his home state has assured his spot as a power broker in the United States Congress.

This week was one where his handiwork was particularly characteristic.  With a single press conference he catapulted himself from the annoying periphery of voices regurgitating talking points to the place where he always seems to end up – the center of the action.  No sooner was a compromised healthcare package announced by Harry Reid’s Democratic caucus that was it torpedoed effortlessly by a short public statement of opposition by Lieberman.  Within hours of his remarks, party leaders were hurriedly meeting and scurrying about, with Joe’s smug smile to greet them across the table.

A few days later, the public option is out.  Early Medicare buy-in is out.  And several previously core provisions of a healthcare reform bill already neutered in committee now seem to be on the table.  Lieberman is playing coy, saying he is “moving towards a yes vote.”   The store might be sold outright by the time the deal is done, leading some on the progressive side of the supposed Democratic supermajority to squeal.  Even some used to the pariah label themselves are calling for an outright revolt, with former DNC chairman (and real-life doctor) Howard Dean calling for the Senate bill to be killed.

Indeed it would seem that Lieberman holds all the cards in Washington and by the masterful straddling of the aisle until the last possible second, he has usurped even the President of the United States as the sole man in America who says what will or will not happen.

If only Lieberman were that man.

But behind the eye popping headlines is the truth that Lieberman is just an instrument of a larger machine, a pawn in a game with stakes so high the odds are always certain.  Were his stand against the Medicare buy-in the principled stance of a deficit hawk holding firm, Democrats would have great cause for concern with Joe Lieberman.  The problem is, he doesn’t believe a bit of it.  Just this past September – three months ago – he said straight into a rolling camera that he believed that people should be able to buy into Medicare at the age of 55.

What caused the flip-flop?  In September, public universal healthcare looked like it could really happen.  Now with the negotiations dragged on by Republicans and Reid’s ineffective caucus coming up short in the red zone, the public option is thoroughly defeated.  With that obstacle down, Lieberman is free to turn on the firehose to water down the bill even more.  While Obama takes a bath in the negotiating room, the bill soaks up the excess until it poses little danger at all to the status quo.

How did the status quo effect such a dramatic change of heart in Joe Lieberman?  Through over $1 million in donations from health insurance in this decade.    During his last campaign in 2006, he ranked second in the Senate for health insurance donations.  And his home state is headquarters to many of the nation’s leading insurance companies, employing 22,000 in Connecticut.  The private health insurance system that raked in billions keeping America sick during the last ten years paid for Lieberman’s independent run.

And this year, that investment is looking awfully sound.

But before Joe Lieberman is vilified as the Judas Big Healthcare bought to kill the public option, before he makes the tops of the movers and the bottoms of the shakers, we should consider his company.

He’s not the only one on the payroll.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/12/15/lieberman-moving-towards-a-yes-vote/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_politicalticker+%28Blog%3A+Political+Ticker%29&utm_content=Google+Reader
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