Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Three red flags and a fourth

Libertarians harbor massive guilt, especially Christian libertarians.  The pillars of their worldview are certain ideas the rest of the world condemns.  Their guilt is revealed in their words.  They never write or speak about these ideas without apologies, if they’re even mentioned at all.  It’s the time-worn attitude of make concessions to be accepted.  Not all libertarians suffer thus, but almost all.  

Is there something innately wrong with a person of libertarian views?  Do biological wirings get crossed as the person matures and moves from something resembling mainstream views to positions that shove him to the brink of insanity?

Or is it possible libertarian opponents never broke free from the indoctrination of childhood?

I’ll leave that question to the reader.  What I would like to do, with a minimum of guilt, is examine four ideas that most of world rejects as absurd, evil, naive, criminal, or offensive.  Or all of the foregoing.

But wait.  For those assuming I’m a ranting malcontent, let me tick off a brief resume:  Raised by mainstream parents. College graduate with honors.  Father of loving twin girls in their mid-thirties.  Enjoy living in a middle-class and racially diverse neighborhood.  Last I checked found no chips on my shoulder.

And perhaps most importantly: Optimistic about the future — the future of most people alive today.  

Okay, let’s take a look at those shameful ideas.


Are you reading this on a Mac or PC?  Or perhaps a mobile device?  You probably paid someone for your digital unit, and the payment in part flowed into the coffers of Apple or Microsoft.  These guys experience a lot of inflow.  Apple’s gross profit for the 12 months ending March 31, 2020 was over $102 billion.  Microsoft’s for the same period, $94.5 billion.  Are these earnings violations of common morality?  Heck, you only got a computing device out of the deal, whereas these companies are swimming in money.  How dare they get so rich.  Turn them over to the Democrats.  Summon the antitrust gang.  Break them up.  

But you know damn well they wouldn’t be swimming at all if you and millions of others didn’t want them swimming.  You and your fellow consumers are in control.  You profit from their profits.

Consider what the federal government raked in recently.  For FY 2019, total revenue was $3.422 trillion and would have been more if Trump hadn’t cut corporate and estate taxes.  Revenue is used instead of gross profit because government is grossly in the red financially, besides which the concepts of “profit and loss” are lost on the state.  Apple’s gross profits amount to a mere 3% of the federal government’s haul.  You could argue that the government “serves” all US residents and therefore its revenue should be larger, whereas the tech giants serve only a part of the economy.  

Apple, Microsoft and other companies, large and small, bend over backwards to serve you, whereas the state forces you to bend over as it extracts your wealth without asking —and for what?  9/11, Katrina, the “this time it’s different” financial crisis of 2008-2009, the Forever Wars, the depreciating dollar, an educational system that amounts to obedience training, alphabet agencies that spy on and incarcerate people for victimless crimes.  The list is endless.  Because government as it exists is not founded on profit and loss, you (and me) lose.

You can stop dealing with Apple or Microsoft.  Try stopping doing “business” with the state.

You still think profit is an unholy word?


A selfless action is usually understood to mean action taken for the benefit of others.  In common parlance, being selfless is good, regardless of the outcome.  Thus, selfless people have “good intentions” even if they reduce the world to ashes.  Gun controllers love this.  If repealing gun rights saves one life, they say repeal is justified.  Sounds good until you notice all the lives lost because the victims had been legally disarmed.  

But the intentions were noble.

When Muhammed Ali refused to be forced to kill foreigners he knew nothing about — “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong”  — he was acting for his own selfish benefit.  “I know where Vietnam is,” he replied to a reporter, “it’s on television.”  That’s where it was — and all it was — to most Americans.  Few voices dared criticize the state for trying to conscript him for its “noble” purpose.  War has always been a sacred state activity that just happens to make a few people very rich.  But those people aren’t “selfish.”  No, no, they’re patriots.  The selfish ones are those with a backbone like Ali who refused to be pawns in the state’s plans.  Never mind that the war killed millions of people, civilians and soldiers.  It’s the intentions that count, and the state had only the best intentions: stop the spread of communism.  Ali, though, he was acting selfishly, the dog.

If young American men had stood up to the state and refused to join the crusade, thereby not only acting in their self-interest but in the interest of millions of others who were killed, we might’ve had one less nightmare in our history.

“The pioneers of a warless world are the young men (and women) who refuse military service.”attributed to Albert Einstein.


We’ve never had pure capitalism because the state has always existed.  With the state you get corruption and distortions enforced at gunpoint:  Lucrative “partnerships” for some firms, anti-trust persecution for others; protection from foreign competition, protection from market solutions that threaten the profits of state cartels, thick volumes of regulations that often favor lawyer-rich large companies at the expense of smaller ones, and lately counterfeit money stuffed into the hands of consumers to keep them from rioting.

This is not capitalism.  It is corruption and theft on a large scale.  

Capitalism is an economic system that recognizes the “right to unrestricted private property and free exchange,” as Murray Rothbard wrote in For a New Liberty.  

Capitalism as it is used by its enemies is a straw man.

The beauty of stateless capitalism is that it incorporates the moral ideals of profit and selfishness that brings the bounty of the market to people, while keeping violence to a minimum.  The closer an economy gets to pure capitalism, the better off we all are.  Make that far better off when the state is eliminated.

State capitalism makes wars, but it is capitalism in any form that takes the blame.

And the fourth

This one is singled out because almost no one mentions it except to condemn it by implication.  Anarchy in libertarian theory is government without the state.  It means the free market can and should provide all the products and services needed for a peaceful, productive society.  It forbids legal coercion, which is why it excludes the state.    

Lately, President Trump and others have described as anarchy certain urban areas in which police have yielded control to violent protesters.  Anarchy and chaos are used synonymously. 

Robert P. Murphy’s engaging introductory book on market anarchism, Chaos Theory, cleverly adopts the common understanding of anarchy in its title.  Is anarchy really chaos?  Read his book.

[Advocates of laissez-faire such as Friedman and Mises] focused on the necessity of law itself. They simply assumed that the market is incapable of defining and protecting property rights. They were wrong. . . . 
It took no king to produce language, money, or science, and it takes no government to produce a just legal system.
Is anarchy or the state the true champion of mayhem?  Economist Robert Higgs offers some insight:

Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a ‘Great Leap Forward’ that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.

Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.

One way libertarians can get ahead in the world is to stand up for their ideas and their ideals, rather than try to smuggle them past their audience..  

For a proposal to reject the state and claim our right to be free, see my recent book, Do Not Consent, soon to be a short movie.  Be sure to check out my brief interview with Libby, the star of the upcoming film.

George Ford Smith is the author of nine books, all of which can be found on Amazon.   

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