Discussion on War, Business, and Free Markets

This discussion began on Lana Sutton’s Facebook page.  I have changed the names of those posing the questions and comments. Yet, their comments and questions are valid and  important. I have edited their comments for brevity, but the entire discussion can be found at http://tiny.cc/ysfm1

Mr. X’s comments.

Harry, losing corporations that “are too big to fail” do NOT fail. We have welfare, for the corporations and the wealthy.

The intention of the United States Constitution was that free speech would make government accountable. Unfortunately, …most of us work in environments considered private property where limitations on our free speech (properly) apply.

This has I’m afraid taught most of us that it’s hopeless to exercise freedom of speech even in venues where it is important that we do so. It’s not even “cool” anymore because the message of so much Pop culture is that the only sort of person that would come to public access meetings and speak up would be some sort of Homeless Joe character.

But Lana appears to me to be a decent, responsible property owner such as Tom Jefferson hoped would have a say in running the American system. She seems to be mocked, and treated to patronizing lectures that assume, without evidence, that we can just dump representative American republicanism and hang out at the mall.

If we think we can make it in this world without any one particular social arrangement, such as either a particular job or a particular cozy deal, then we act as Lana appears to me to act with dignity as citizens of a republic.

It is true that if we look for a handout we are not fit citizens of a republic and are instead the Roman mob of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. But even in the case of what’s left of welfare, which is almost exclusively provision for mothers and single fathers trying to take care of kids, the recipients act on balance with far more dignity than cheeseball good ole boys trying to change the rules to stay rich.

I think I got Social Security coming in a year. To me, this is not a handout, since it was taken out of a paycheck I earned, year after year as a software developer, fair and square. I even modified payroll systems to change the number easily when in the 1970s Congress kept increasing FICA withholding, and developed a then-modern payroll system easily changed by accountants.

I was told “that is excellent, Ed, but you are one of a kind, and we need a more plain vanilla system going forward since you should really work in California and start a company”, but my Dad was too conservative to even think about loaning me seed money, perhaps rightfully, since he has responsibly self-funded a very long retirement.

So: “you will get my Social Security check when you pry it from my cold dead fingers”, and I also support the Second Amendment. The Founding Fathers recognized that while only some of us are predators we all will defend ourselves.

To my knowledge, no corporation could have ensured me this minimal security. I worked for the research and development subsidiary of Nortel and there I could see that one year, your applied science can be a market leader only to be superseded the next. You cannot provide employees with long term security in this environment because they must overspecialize in individual technologies.

The capitalist model won’t work anymore in developed countries. Neither will the socialist model. The only solution is to go back to acceptance of the idea that we need to act in the public sphere altruistically and with common decency like our fathers and mothers did in ancient times, and combine the models as they did in the New Deal.

Harry Statel’s reply to Mr. X.

Anybody or organization that receives forced contributions through political means and not economic means is guilty of theft.

Forced altruism is not altruism, it’s theft.

I’m a libertarian. That means I would neither be a master or a slave. I have no “right” to commit fraud or the use of force except in defense. I do own my body and the fruits of my labor.

Good intentions do not require my forced participation. I am the best arbiter of my life; not the government, not a non-profit, not “the people”. Just me. I am responsible for my decisions and the consequences. No one else.

I am against the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the hundreds of military-industrial “defense” bases and the nation-building and meddlesome foreign policy since Theodore Roosevelt.

The Constitution was designed to have checks and balances that would keep government to a minimum. The freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, and the freedom of self-defense were natural rights that proceeded the Constitution. But un-constitutional legislation, judicial activists, and political corruption have thwarted the Constitution and personal liberties have been severely curtailed.

I am for free markets, free thought, and personal liberty. Nothing more, nothing less.

Mr. X’s comments

Harry, what does the word “duty” mean to you?

Nobody is “forced” to be anything; this logically entails you are never forced to be an altruist.

My uncle,  received a low draft lottery number in 1940 and was “forced” to “altruistically” put his education and career on hold (he was already 29) and serve his country. He never came back since he was “forced” to “altruistically” lead Nisei who’d very “altruistically” volunteered (being exempt as Nisei from the draft albeit citizens) to take the largest per unit casualties in World War II as soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

But the Army didn’t have to take him by “force”. Therefore I conclude that when one does one’s duty, a libertarian chooses to call this being “forced” to be an “altruist”, and laughs at my uncle, and laughs at my kid brother (Iraq 1991 combat engineers) and laughs at the men and women dying in Afghanistan today in a brutal, medieval struggle meant exclusively to avoid having to face up to our loss of world leadership.

So be a “libertarian”. And when the big boys take your women and burn your huts, here’s the world’s smallest crying towel and the world’s smallest violin. They are playing the game using the rules you support. Oh, they bought their way in to city government, and that’s not FAIR?

Boo [several swear words] hoo.

Markets MUST be free. But they are only free once the local war lord or government secures the perimeter.

Harry Statel’s reply to Mr. X.

“Harry, what does the word “duty” mean to you?”

Duty is as one defines it. But not “duty” as the government defines it.

Nobody is “forced” to be anything; this logically entails you are never forced to be an altruist.”

If a robber takes my money or property for whatever reason, that’s theft. If the government takes my money for welfare, bailouts, or empire building, that’s theft. Both the robber and the government take my money through force.What “good intentions” they have is immaterial; it’s still force. Don’t pay your income taxes and see what happens.

“My uncle received a low draft lottery number in 1940 and was “forced” to “altruistically” put his education and career on hold (he was already 29) and serve his country. He never came back since he was “forced” to “altruistically” lead Nisei who’d very “altruistically” volunteered (being exempt as Nisei from the draft albeit citizens) to take the largest per unit casualties in World War II as soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

But the Army didn’t have to take him by “force”. Therefore I conclude that when one does one’s duty, a libertarian chooses to call this being “forced” to be an “altruist”, and laughs at my uncle, and laughs at my kid brother (Iraq 1991 combat engineers) and laughs at the men and women dying in Afghanistan today in a brutal, mediaeval struggle meant exclusively to avoid having to face up to our loss of world leadership.”

I’m not laughing at anyone, particularly those who serve the county (not the government). But I do believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are wrong, are attempts at nation-building and imperialism, and have needlessly cost lives. I do not think it is in the best interest of America to police the world as that wastes valuable lives and resources of Americans.

For a through examination of the causes of WWII, read Pat Buchanan’s “Hitler, Churchill, and the Unnecessary War.” It was through idiotic treaties with Poland that France and Britain became involved, and eventually America.

Just because I believe that the US wars of the 20th and 21st century were and are not in America’s best interest, does not negate the heroism of its servicemen. Because the government says a “war” is just does not make it so. Because American servicemen fight, are injured, and die does not mean I have no respect for them. The two are not the same, though the government would have you believe they are.

“So be a “libertarian”. And when the big boys take your women and burn your huts, here’s the world’s smallest crying towel and the world’s smallest violin. They are playing the game using the rules you support. Oh, they bought their way in to city government, and that’s not FAIR?”

I support a strong national defense. It is certainly necessary. The Constitution provides for that defense. But I do not believe in globe-trotting to foreign countries where we have no business. I do not believe in interfering in the politics of other countries that are sovereign nations, just as I would not want them interfering in our sovereign nation. I do not believe that American lives are worth losing in fighting wars that are unnecessary for America.

George Washington’s wise words, “Beware of foreign entanglements,” still apply. Unfortunately, the US government has not heeded those words and Americans die.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, were all foreign entanglements. Even Ronald Reagan had the good sense to pull US troops out of Lebanon after the Marines were killed in a massive bombing.

Boo [several swear words] hoo.”

“Markets MUST be free. But they are only free once the local war lord or government secures the perimeter.”

We agree here. I believe that it is the responsibility of the US Government to protect our borders. But our borders do not include the entire world.

Harry Statel

https://harrystatel.wordpress.com/

A reply from Mr. X. His words are in italics. Harry’s are in bold.
“Furthermore, “duty” is by definition what you don’t want to do, and it is my experience that libertarianism is altogether too damn convenient for shirkers, slackers and rogues to be considered a viable philosophy. It needs to be confronted with Kant’s notion of “duty” as doing PRECISELY what one does not wish to do.”

Easily refuted. I don’t consider it my duty to support religious fundamentalism, illegal and immoral wars, corporate bailouts, government laws, policies, and regulations that interfere with my beliefs, and Chattanooga’s corrupt city government.  But according your your definition of “duty” I must support them.

“Americans confuse the negative freedoms of their Constitution, the Constitution’s promise not to mess with our rights to speak, worship, assemble and own firearms, the Constutution’s promise not to mess with unenumerated rights, the Constitution’s noble negativity, with a goddamn open season fishing and hunting license, and the mess in Chattanooga is a result.”

I agree with respect that the freedom of worship includes the freedom to not worship, the freedom of speech includes the freedom not to speak, the right to bear arms includes the right to not bear arms.

(edited for brevity.)

“How. Dare. You. How dare you call your government, which for all its faults is one that men like my uncle died for) a criminal conspiracy?

The government’s enumerated duties via the Constitution were narrow in scope, initially to protect life, liberties, and property. To the extent that the government has eaten away at those enumerated rights, yes it has become criminal. I do not curse our veterans. I fully support them. One can support our servicemen without supporting the government that orders them to fight in  useless wars.

“To label things thus and then use libertarian theory is merely, I am afraid, a lazy way of excusing yourself, in some measure, from the citizen’s DUTY of changing the unjust government as tries Lana so nobly, and if necessary instituting another government: for you define government, without which we would have the law of the JUNGLE, as a criminal conspiracy against your ease and comfort, sir. How. dare. you.”

I dare because I care. Look at my blog. I have spoken out against the Chattanooga government because of its corruption, corporate welfare policies, and diminution of personal liberties. I have spoken out against religious dogmas that seek to tell me how I should worship. But I do not accept anyone’s right to choose my “duty” for me. I am a freethinker who needs no one to tell my my duty to any god.

“And I’m aware of that Nixon speech-writer’s cute little theories which dishonor the men of WWI and WWII. I am quite prepared to agree with Pat Buchanan’s cute little goddamn theory about World War I, since Wall Street pushed America into the war because Wall Street had bet on (loaned money to) the British and the French. Of course, Pat Buchanan didn’t do his homework and forgets the deaths of IWW labor union men in Tennessee and the Pacific Northwest who said it was a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight, because libertarians love a volunteer army with the poor dying, and the death of Joe Hill makes no never mind with them!”

If you read Buchanan’s book, you’ll see that he does not dishonor the service or honor of those fighting. He merely points out that it was a war that could have been prevented.  But Wilson’s War and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles led to the inevitability of conflict in Europe. Then treaties with Poland by the French and British led to disaster and total war.

“But as to WWII. No country in 1939 was an island. Most developed countries had, in the 1930s, gone down the cute little libertarian road of trying to close their borders to manufactures and labor, and this created the Depression. The only successful player of this game, called autarky, was Nazi Germany, since it had expropriated the Jews and was run as a non-union shop with handouts to lower middle class creeps.”

This was not libertarianism; rather the complete opposite. Dictatorships, fascism, communism, are all anathema to libertarians. But it is not the job nor duty of libertarians to participate in their own suicide.

“This threatened to revert Britain to the Middle Ages economically (as it did revert to some extent in 1946 owing to its exhaustion) and make the USA a closed system with whites lording it over African Americans in a zero sum game, even if Hitler did not invade North America…for which invasion he had plans, and which would have used, at the end of this virtual-history war, trans-oceanic bombing and rocketry.”

When Hitler invaded Poland, he did not think the British would declare war as British interests were not involved. Hitler did not want war with Britian. Hitler did want to fight the Soviets( Hitler’s partner in attacking Poland).

You need to learn history. Prior to about 1970, there was no such thing as libertarianism; it was a hippie dream as hippiedom evolved under recessionary pressure to New Age fascism similar in alarming ways to Hitler’s loony theories, because libertarianism is all about the imperial Self which can never define a limit to its whims or fantasies.”

Libertarians were known as classical liberals long before America existed as a country.  The Founding Fathers were for the most part,Classical liberals The distorted use of “conservative” and liberals” today are used as smokescreens to hide government interference from both major political parties.

Also, it is the whims and fantasies of individuals that have provided the greatness of the world’s wealth. Those who decided to risk their own lives and fortunes for their own reasons.

(Edited for brevity.)
“If you produce in a closed system, you don’t clear plantations and you don’t invest in cotton “ginning” machinery. In an homogenous population this MIGHT produce harmony. The problem in the USA was that we were anything but, with different groups fighting over a limited pie.

In free markets and free trade there is no limited pie. Wealth is continually created. I’m not for producing in a closed system, I’m for producing in a free system, where the market decides the success or failure of ideas.

“Buchanan and libertarians are also fantasists because like most American white ideologues, they fail to even see the uniqueness of slavery, and, after the Civil War, American apartheid (“Jim Crow”). The domestic tranquility and prosperity of an autarkic USA prior to WWI was bought at a terrible cost to black folks whose free or cheap labor created the idyllic America of the picture books.”

I am only a fanatic for personal liberty and the right of everyman to decide how he wishes to live his own life. That his life belongs to him and he is responsible for his actions. That he lives for his own reasoned self-interest. With that he has the right to live that life as long as he commits no violence or fraud.

I support the right of everyone regardless of color, sex or national origin to live their life as they see fit as long as they do not use force or fraud in doing so.  I don’t care about the color of someone’s skin; I do care about their character. Frederick Douglass was a great man but because he preached the personal responsibilities of all men, he’s not taught today.

See his essay, “My Bondage and My Freedom”  http://tiny.cc/926mel That is a libertarian (classical liberal) statement, not a socialist or fascist apology.

“John Locke said that a man is entitled to have and to hold what he wrests from virgin land. And he is. But the problem in Lockean theory as regards American libertarianism is that most of America was settled by men holding slaves or white indentured servants and it was the latter who did the work.”

Simply not true. The vast majority of settlers had neither slaves or indentured servants. They did have a certain degree of rugged individualism though, to get away from government authority, religious persecution, and meddling bureaucrats.

“Samuel Johnson, “We are told, that the subjection of Americans may tend to the diminution of our own liberties; an event, which none but very perspicacious politicians are able to foresee. If slavery be thus fatally contagious, how is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes? “

I cannot defend slavery anymore than I defend the right of a master to own slaves. I can defend the rights of all men to own their own bodies and minds, to live as they wish, without the interference of other men or governments, to make their decisions based on their own ideas of self-interest, as long as no force or fraud is committed. I also defend the rights of all men to resist force and fraud, with violence when necessary, to fight such robbery and slavery whether perpetrated by other men or governments.

Harry Statel

Mr. Z’s comments.

Harry it looks like you are making the two mistakes of libertarians. First you rail against one control while completely ignoring or in a lot of cases welcoming another , big business. You may not want to admit it but they limit what you …can buy or sell often as effectively as government. They also distort our media and democracy with their own message and money. Do you think you decide what they do by if you buy their products or not? By and large you don’t your spending is often insignificant both because of their size and because a millionaire can have a million times more influence with them then your average joe. Second you assume all needed public services can be delivered in a private voluntary pay as you use way. In reality some things we all need like clean air and clean water would never be paid for if we let the market take over in those areas.

Harry Statel’s reply to Mr. Z

“Harry it looks like you are making the two mistakes of libertarians. First you rail against one control while completely ignoring or in a lot of cases welcoming another, big business. You may not want to admit it but they limit …what you …can buy or sell often as effectively as government.”

I welcome any business, one-man business, small business, big business, any of them. All I ask is that they succeed or fail on their own merits without government intrusion or government assistance (paid for by taxpayers).

I suggest that instead of “big business” you substitute “corporate welfare”, where government gives money and protection through bailouts, subsidies, and stifling competition by law.

For a more complete study look here– http://wp.me/p10KwY-9M

“They also distort our media and democracy with their own message and money. Do you think you decide what they do by if you buy their products or not? By and large you don’t your spending is often insignificant both because of their size and because a millionaire can have a million times more influence with them then your average joe.”

That distortion is called advertising. Of course I decide what to spend or not spend my money on (unless the government interferes with my choices). In a free market where one makes choices based on self-interest, I can decide to spend my money on football tickets or food, cigarettes or books, booze or pot. But I must live with my choices and I have no right to inflict my choices on you, nor take your money and property to use regardless of my “good intentions.”

If I make poor choices, I live with the consequences. The same applies to you.  If you choose football tickets over food, I am not obligated to correct your poor decision. I may give you charity, but I’m not obligated to do so.

“Second you assume all needed public services can be delivered in a private voluntary pay as you use way. In reality some things we all need like clean air and clean water would never be paid for if we let the market take over in those areas.”

Actually, we would have cleaner air and cleaner water if the government were out of it.

In the law, if someone damages your property by contaminating your water or air, you have a right to sue for those damages.

For instance, take strip-mining. If strip-mining ruins your water supply, you should be able to sue for damages. But, since the government has given special regulations and laws that protect strip-miners, your chances of collecting actual damages are slim to none.

It’s the same with air quality. If producers of air pollution were liable for the damages they caused to another’s property (property includes your body), they too could be sued for destroying the value of that property. Once again, government limits of the polluter’s liability through law and regulations prohibit citizen’s rights to sue for damages in any meaningful way.

It is the government interference that allows the problem to exacerbate without allowing for the free market to control the situation. If the government didn’t protect polluters, polluters would be forced through the markets to either clean-up their actions or go out of business.

The free market has given people more choices about “clean” water than ever before. Look at all the bottled water available today. People make the choice as to whether or not they buy it or drink from the tap. Never mind that much bottled water is simply tap water. The free market allows people to make a choice.

Thanks.

Harry Statel

https://harrystatel.wordpress.com

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