Curtis

This is my site. I'm basically a Christian, Husband, Father, Neighbor and in that order. I'm a thinker, how well I do at it is for others to decide. I drive a truck delivering gas for a living and spend most of my time listening to downloaded audio on my favorite subjects. It is mostly these that spark my articles here.

May 282012
 
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Anarchy

brando  “What do ya got?”  That’s what Johnny (Brando) asked when a girl asked, “what are you rebelling against”.  That’s a good place to start today.  After all if ‘what we got’ is good or good enough then why rebel against it?  I mean anarcho-capitalism (AC) seems like such a radical departure from the status quo.  Things would have to be pretty bad for most of us to consider such a change and the risks that seem to come with this one seem so large.  There is another possibility.  AC could be so good that what we have, even if we like some of it, might jusy pale in comparison to what we could have in a free land.  But, lets stick to the first question.  What do we have?  Is it free?  Is it even good?

 

Lets paint the rosy picture of the ideal.  We live in a land under The Constitution which is a constitutional republic, governed by law.  Or take the other view.  We live in a democracy where majority rules and The Constitution defends the rights of the minorities from the majority.  Right from the beginning we see that it isn’t even clear what we have and we’ve had it for over 200 years, what ever it is.  Both views agree it has something to do with The Constitution.  So lets start there, shall we.

What is a constitution.  The World English Dictionary defines it as:   3.  the fundamental political principles on which a state is governed, esp when considered as embodying the rights of the subjects of that state.  Okay, where did ours in the US come from?  It didn’t just fall out of the sky on tablets of stone.  The Constitutional Convention began as an effort to revise the Articles of Confederation which was our first document governing the 13 colonies and then sovereign states.  Yet even at that level many of the revolutionary fathers declined to attend as they though the Articles of Confederation were sufficient.  Among them of note, Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry.  However even this controversial goal gave way to something much more radical.  Some of the delegates openly intended to make a whole new government at the convention.  Strange.  We had just won independence from England and had a constitution that was drafted by representatives of all 13 states and ratified by them all.  This convention was not so unified and thus did not represent the will of all sovereign states.  Rhode Island refused to even send delegates.  In all, the new document of governing principals was crafted and voted on by 55 people (only 55 of 74 who were appointed participated) and only 39 of them approved enough to sign it.  Three years later the first census in 1790 recorded the total population of the US to be 3,579,638 people including slaves.  After all we should include slaves as whole people under the constitution, whether it did or not.  Right?  Document of freedom?  Most states who ratified this document did so with a promise of the Bill of Rights which was added in 1791.  This means that the document these folks offered and other folks ratified wasn’t even complete when it was offered.  Remind you of any health care bill that wasn’t even read before it was voted on?  Old habits die hard.  Anyhow, The Constitution was written by 74% of the delegates sent to do so, signed by almost 53% of them (what a consensus) and 1071 people voted in state delegations for ratification which took over 3 years due to the disapproval of the expansion of federal power.  That is in the end, 1071 people decided on the fate of 3.5 million of whom only 39 signed the document.  This certainly isn’t a democracy.  At best a “representative democracy” but we would have to look at how the delegates to the convention and ratification conventions were selected to decide that.  Surely the slaves weren’t well represented, or the Indians.


SpoonerNow lets look at who these principals govern.  I recently finished reviewing the audio book,  “No Treason” subtitled “A Constitution of No Authority” by Lysander Spooner (click picture to listen free).  It may be found and downloaded from The Ludwig von Mises Institute  (http://mises.org/).  You can read the entire text at:  http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/No_Treason/6.

The basic idea here is that The Constitution is basically a contract between free peoples.  If it is not then we are subject to it without our consent thus no freedom from it or the government it imposes on us.  If it is a contract then who is this contract binding upon by basic principals of law and reason?  Those who sign it.  Okay, that’s 39 people who were bound by it.  Their all dead so I doubt it binds them any longer.  It could be considered binding on those who participated in the system of representation that produced it, i.e.. the generation surrounding it’s production and ratification, except the slaves and Indians of course, they weren’t given a free voice.  But again they are all dead as well.  Okay well, it says ”to ourselves and our posterity”, so there we have it, it includes us.  Spooner answers this rather clearly and directly.

It does not say that their “posterity” will, shall, or must live under it. It only says, in effect, that their hopes and motives in adopting it were that it might prove useful to their posterity, as well as to themselves, by promoting their union, safety, tranquillity, liberty, etc.

Suppose an agreement were entered into, in this form:

We, the people of Boston, agree to maintain a fort on Governor’s Island, to protect ourselves and our posterity against invasion.

This agreement, as an agreement, would clearly bind nobody but the people then existing. Secondly, it would assert no right, power, or disposition, on their part, to compel their “posterity” to maintain such a fort. It would only indicate that the supposed welfare of their posterity was one of the motives that induced the original parties to enter into the agreement.

When a man says he is building a house for himself and his posterity, he does not mean to be understood as saying that he has any thought of binding them, nor is it to be inferred that he is so foolish as to imagine that he has any right or power to bind them, to live in it. So far as they are concerned, he only means to be understood as saying that his hopes and motives, in building it, are that they, or at least some of them, may find it for their happiness to live in it.

So when a man says he is planting a tree for himself and his posterity, he does not mean to be understood as saying that he has any thought of compelling them, nor is it to be inferred that he is such a simpleton as to imagine that he has any right or power to compel them, to eat the fruit. So far as they are concerned, he only means to say that his hopes and motives, in planting the tree, are that its fruit may be agreeable to them.

Spooner answers all arguments that “bind” us as individuals or groups to The Constitution.  Even personal oaths to support and defend it are not binding, either morally or legally.  He deals with them all in stride with basic principals of law and reason to the extent that any argument for binding anyone to it at all looks down right absurd and somewhat silly.  In short as the title goes, The Constitution is of no authority over us whatsoever.  But who would want it anyway?


From our very foundation under this constitution we have higher crime, more imprisonment of nonviolent offenders, more poverty, lower education levels, more war, more debt, less freedom, poorer healthcare,… the list goes on and on.  Government in general, and ours under The Constitution is no different, has been the cause of all wars (no exceptions), overburdening of taxes, and loss of personal freedom of self and property since the beginning of human governments.  Spooner concludes with these words:

Inasmuch as the Constitution was never signed, nor agreed to, by anybody, as a contract, and therefore never bound anybody, and is now binding upon nobody; and is, moreover, such an one as no people can ever hereafter be expected to consent to, except as they may be forced to do so at the point of the bayonet, it is perhaps of no importance what its true legal meaning, as a contract, is. Nevertheless, the writer thinks it proper to say that, in his opinion, the Constitution is no such instrument as it has generally been assumed to be; but that by false interpretations, and naked usurpations, the government has been made in practice a very widely, and almost wholly, different thing from what the Constitution itself purports to authorize. He has heretofore written much, and could write much more, to prove that such is the truth. But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain—that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

 

One only need to look around today, even more so than the condition of 1870 when Spooner wrote those words, our country is in very sad shape and approaching failure or national servitude of the masses to remain solvent for just a few more years.  Can “getting back” to The Constitution help us at all?  As Spooner said, it either authorized what we have or was powerless to prevent it.  Thus if we regress or ‘roll back’ some, many or all of the things that have happened since it’s ratification, what prevents us from getting here again?  What about our posterity?  No, I hardly consider ‘what we got’ as good or even good enough for me or my posterity.  But what then?  Isn’t this the best nation on earth?  Depends on whether you are currently in favor with the government or not.  The real question ignores the irrelevancy of whether there is a better plan currently in place on the planet.  The better question is, is there a better way?  YES!  There is!  Consider it.  Read about it.  Think hard about it.  Don’t settle for what is in current use.  Our forefathers didn’t.  Consider what could be, what should be if we own ourselves and the product of our labor.  Consider freedom in all that it means, without initiation of aggression against others or their property.  What we have may be the best by some measures but it still sucks!

But, how will justice be done without a state?  Murder in the streets!  Who will feed the poor?  Who will build the roads?  Okay, okay slow down.  First consider how well these things are being done now and you’ll climb off the statist high horse quick enough.  Second, if you just think a bit you’ll see that we don’t need government forced labor and taxes to achieve these things.  I heard a funny response to “who will build the roads” a while back.

Asking who will build the roads without forced taxation is like the southern textile mill owner asking how will we have clothing if the slaves don’t pick the cotton.  Gee… we freed the slaves and we are all still wearing denim.  I’m not sure we even saw much of a hiccup in the textile industry due to cotton shortages after emancipation.  Don’t panic.  The world won’t come to an end just because we have freedom.  More later in another post.

flag4So, what should we rebel against?  What we got.

May 262012
 
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Anarchy

anarchWell that’s not exactly what I believe but it’s catchy and I like it.  Government is necessary, this is beyond doubt when one thinks carefully about it.  I make a distinction between government and ‘the state’.  Government becomes the state when it initiates force against peaceful people acting in accord with their own property rights.  I’m getting ahead of myself.

What I’m advocating for these days as I learn and grow is what is known as Anarcho-Capitalism,  private property anarchism, there are other terms used but I like these two.  Maybe the image is changing but I think when most people hear anarchy they get a mental image of riots in the streets and the Sex Pistols singing that punk anthem, “…I am an Anarchist… don’t know what I want, but I know how to get it…”.  Well, that’s not exactly it.  Others remember the “anarchists” from the turn of the 20th century on black and white films, bombing this one and killing that one as they tried to disrupt government and society as a whole.  Closer, but not really it either.  Disrupt government, yes.  Killing and bombing, no.  So what is it?

What I’m talking about is no state.  No federal government, no state government and probably nothing binding on the county or local community level either.  Freedom!  Ultimate freedom in every way.  Freedom to succeed or fail, thrive or starve, earn or beg, produce or accept charity from volunteers.  I know, it’s scary, isn’t it.  Well stop your rushing mind and just think about it.  Do we really need someone else (the state at any level) telling us how we should live?  I know you don’t, but do I?  Most of us think we could get along with others just fine but we have a much lower view of some of the others among us.  They… they are the ones who need governed.  Just drop that for a bit and see if they couldn’t be governed even better in a different way.  Say through free market forces for instance.


flag2That’s right, money! The market is a big part of the equation, but it’s a subset of the only two basic principals of AC (anarcho-capitalism). The black in the flag represents no state, the yellow and the dollar sign represent a free market, and the peace symbol represents non-aggression. So lets look at these two principals.

The first principal that everything else is built on is Self Ownership.  Pretty simple right.  Who doesn’t think they do, or at least should own themselves?  If you don’t there is an AC cure for that problem too.  But if you’re like most of us it seems pretty basic that we do or should own ourselves.  I’ll not get into details but, if you own yourself then there is a logical extension of SO (self ownership) from owning yourself to owning the produce of your labor to personal property and the rights that go with it.  That covers who I am.  What about, how I should act in relation with others and how they should act in relation with me?

Basic principal number two, and the last one.  See how simple a system of social philosophy this is.  EVERYTHING else stems from these two.  Anyhow, number two:  The Non Aggression Principal.  First the misconceptions about it.  It is not pacifism.  It is not saying that no one may ever be forced for any reason what so ever.  It is better stated as, the non-initiation of aggression principal.  One or a group may not initiate force against another person or group of people.  If force is initiated against you, you have the option to defend against that force in defense of yourself or another innocent person being aggressed against.  Pretty simple too, right.  Who out there thinks it’s right when someone tries to force them to do something they do not want to do?  Who (as an individual or group) thinks they should force others to do what they don’t want to do?

And there you have it.  All human interactions are governed according to these two principals and rational deductions from them.  That’s why ‘no government’ isn’t a good explanation of AC.  It’s private and voluntary government based on these two basic principals.


The simplest explanation of these principals is demonstrated in this almost perfect short video.  Think about it and come back for more.  I think I’ll post some more this weekend.

Courtesy of www.isl.org International Society for Individual Liberty
Jul 102011
 

Rand

 

Yes, the ‘Rand’ is Ayn Rand.  The atheist, selfish, capitalist, free market, anti collectivist, merciless etc…  Don’t like her?  Well that doesn’t really matter here.  I’m looking at ideas and maybe I won’t even express hers accurately.  I’ll take a little piece at a time.  I’m interested to see if (though an atheist) her broader views are compatible with scripture.  I think they are.  Lets begin where she would, I think, with first principles.

Rand was a great fan of Aristotle.  Each volume of Atlas Shrugged was named after principles he basically codified.  ‘Non-Contradiction’, ‘Either Or’, and ‘A is A’.  In short if one really lives like these basic principles are not true, reality would kill them.  For instance, Non-Contradiction:  Gravity is real and not real at the same time in the same way so if I jump from the cliff this time I won’t fall…..splat!  And, A is A:  That knife at my throat is not a knife but a stick of butter (A is not A).  I’ll just walk right through it….slice..spurt… dribble dribble.  You get the picture.  Rand however applied these to more practical things as well, and deeply so.

Lets begin with “The Virtue of Selfishness“.  You can read the whole book or just consider the title carefully.   The Virtue of Selfishness.pdf is 138 pages short.

Rand abhorred altruism.  The idea of the rejection of self in favor of the good of all others first.  She viewed this as denying reality and the root of most if not all our problems.  She would even call it evil.

“The Objectivist ethics proudly advocates and upholds rational selfishness—which means: the values required for man’s survival qua man—which means: the values required for human survival—not the values produced by the desires, the feelings, the whims or the needs of irrational brutes, who have never outgrown the primordial practice of human sacrifices.”

Note, she does not equate “rational selfishness” with values produced by the desires, the feelings, the whims…etc…  The ultimate application of altruism is self sacrifice, or literally, making oneself a sacrificial animal for others sakes.  The obvious question follows:  If all strove for and attained this goal of altruism then who would be left?  This is antithetical to human survival!  I get that.  But is the opposite (rational selfishness) the virtue that makes humanity survive?  Is it immoral to be rationally selfish by any widely accepted and properly understood standard, ie. the bible?  Is true altruism found in scripture?  To examine this I’ll make the challenge.  Find me any person who ever lived without self interest ie. truly altruistically.  Most folks I know will immediately go to Jesus.  But think about that a bit before you speak up.  An altruistic sacrifice has no gain for the sacrificial animal, the human sacrifice of Jesus in this case.  But did He gain?  Yes, according to the bible He did indeed gain.  Okay but was that the reason he did it?  Some say if that wasn’t the motive then it is okay if one gains by their selfless altruism.  I’ll even grant that for argument, but again that’s not the example of Jesus.

Heb 12:2 Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross  NKJV

Why did Jesus sacrifice himself according to Hebrews here?  For our good only and nothing for Himself?  Or, even for the Father’s sake yet not His own?  That’s not what it says, does it?  Oh my, was the author of Hebrews a Rand fan?  Self joy is not an altruistic goal, is it?  That seems like a bargain for one of Rand’s “traders.”  He valued the joy set before Him in exchange (trade) for His sacrifice.  How selfish of Him.  Well surely God’s mercy and His sacrifice of His son is an altruistic example of other-centeredness.  Most bible teachers today would remind us that we are not the center of God’s universe, but lets let Paul speak for Him this time.

Rom 9:17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.  18 Therefore (to show His power and declare His name) hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?  20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?  21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?  22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:  23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,  KJV

Wow!! That’s a whole lot of self interest.  How about one of just about every Christian’s favorite passages?

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  KJV

What is the altruistic reason Paul gives for our predestination to be conformed to the image of His son?  That we might have all things work to our good?  NO!!  “THAT” He might be the firstborn among many.  So again it’s all about Jesus and God.  Do we receive benefit from all that stuff?  Of course!  Does Jesus as well?  Of course!  Is it altruistic?  Nope.  Is it selfish?  Looks like it.  Is it bad?  I certainly don’t think so.  Are we to follow after Jesus’ examples?  Then where do we get these ideas of altruism as Christians?  Okay, but that was Jesus and I’m not Jesus.  Shouldn’t we be altruistic according to scripture?  I’ll make this one short.

“Love others”, is that it?  No.  “Love others as you love yourself.”  Notice we are not commanded to love ourselves.  ITS A GIVEN THAT WE DO ALREADY.  In fact if we don’t love ourselves, we won’t know how to love others by the logic given in Jesus’ statement.  Surely of all things self love is self interested and not altruistic.  Do a quick look at virtually all of Jesus’ commands to us and note the self interested reasons He almost always (if not always) gives us for following those commands.  Do X because you want or will like the Y that results.  Never is it, do X because it will only have benefit for others and that is good and altruistic.  It seems to me like a proper understanding of “rational selfishness” and altruism will stand our conventions on their heads and rightly so according to the bible.  One of The Westminster Catechism’s  first questions is “What is the chief end of man?”.  The proposed answer is “To glorify God and ENJOY HIM FOREVER”.   To place these two in harmony and understand better what Rand seems to have missed about Christianity (probably because most of us have as well) I’ll quote the Christian Hedonist, John Piper.  This is on the walls of his church, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.”  This is a traders creed, similar to how Rand understands love.  We will give/trade the most for what we value the most.  I live for His glory (my sacrifice/trade) because it is what makes me the happiest/most satisfied.