Self-Empowerment by the Philosophical Dissidents

Libertarians, by necessity, spend a lot of their time in the minutia of a given policy or idea.  The burden of proof is on us to demonstrate why things can exist without government interventions, because it is such a foreign concept to the average person.  This leads to a group of generally well-read supporters, which is great.  It also leads, at times however, to a group that’s constantly entrenched in confrontation regarding their views.  Cue Kokesh.

Adam Kokesh has been possibly the most prominent leader in driving home a very important point in the liberty movement; that you, as an individual, are a strong, capable, wonderful person.

Sure, taxation is theft and the wars in the Middle East and throughout the rest of the world are stupid and awful.  No, the government has no role in dictating the “rules” of marriage contracts or what you can or cannot put into your own body.  And you’re right when you assert that free markets are better for everyone.  

But these are generally contentious issues, and they require a great deal of time and debate to flesh out the various points for your opponent.  In the meantime, we can be making a YUGE impact on swaying them to our side through the way we carry ourselves and through empowering them as individuals.

This is something I’ve hardly mastered.  Progressives that would call a now-dead Castro a pioneer for social progress or conservatives that want to rule the world with an iron fist make it really difficult.

The bottom line, though, is the only way we can lift the bridle of government control of virtually every aspect of our lives is through a collective rebuke of the system as it stands.  The grand moment that we “heave-ho” DC off of our backs will only come when people are confident enough in themselves to fill the void that’s left.  

The poor need to hear that public accommodation laws aren’t helping them.  The young need to hear that they don’t need safe-spaces to withstand dissenting opinion. Progressives need to hear that a growing government will one day turn on them and conservatives need to hear that planting the seeds of democracy in the hole’s made by JDAMs doesn’t yield a thing.  

Each and every one of them is fully capable of carving out their own destiny with just the traits they have and acquire, and no government in the history of the world can prioritize and guarantee their success better than they themselves.

By John A. Dangelo III

Lessons From A Guardian

In many ways, the election of 2016 looks similar to the election of 1892 with a primary difference: a man was running that you’d be proud to vote for, Grover Cleveland. One of the lesser known Presidents in our history and one that is treated like a footnote in many school curriculums, has plenty of relevant wisdom to impart during this turbulent campaign season. Grover Cleveland was a president with strong principles and a distinct understanding of his place in the government.
Grover Cleveland earned the nickname The Guardian President because of his unprecedented use of the veto; Cleveland, over his two terms would use the veto more than twice as often as all of his predecessors combined. Cleveland didn’t view his job, as the president, as one that should advocate for specific legislation but, to protect the American people from bad legislation. This conviction caused a significant amount of controversy over the course of his presidency during which he vetoed legislation such as several pension bills for Civil War Veterans. His most famous veto however, was exercised on the Texas Seed Bill. During the drought of 1887, legislation was sent to Cleveland’s desk to approve the purchase of seed grain to be distributed to farmers as relief. He vetoed this bill and offered the following observation:
I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution; and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadily resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people.
Grover Cleveland was one of the last president’s to display, through his actions as the executive, a real disdain and suspicion for a powerful central government. At a time when our candidates are promising everything from free child care to free college; from expanded nationalized health care to jobs sponsored by government it would be prudent to look to the Guardian and remember his restraint. His preference for Constitutionally limited government over the easy, and politically expedient, answer of using the government to solve problems that it was never designed to address, seems to speak directly to our time where we don’t have a single candidate willing to acknowledge the true and intended scope of the federal government. We have, for many decades, eschewed the kind of restraint practiced by Grover Cleveland, and many of his forebears; we should be considering the lessons of their actions, and begin to take measured actions to reign in our out of control government spending and priorities.
As in matters of domestic policy Grover Cleveland was equally reserved in foreign matters. In his foreign policy, Grover Cleveland was a non-interventionist and is duly credited for reestablishing the Monroe doctrine during the boundary dispute between Britain and Venezuela.
Two events dominate the portrait of Cleveland’s foreign policy during his time as President: the annexation of Hawaii and boundary dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela. These two events standout prominently against the backdrop of our current election and the foreign policy being offered by every single one of the major candidates in 2016. From Grover Cleveland’s perspective, territorial expansion was a relic of a bygone era and he supported free trade with the nation of Hawaii. However, in the four years during which Cleveland was out of office, unrest grew among the sugar growers on the islands and, without the approval of the Commander in Chief, marines stormed the island and overthrew Queen Liliuokalani. Immediately after returning to office for his second term, Cleveland withdrew a treaty for annexation that had been sent to the Senate by his predecessor. Later in the same year, Cleveland would address the Congress with his thoughts on the annexation:
I suppose that right and justice should determine the path to be followed in treating this subject. If national honesty is to be disregarded and a desire for territorial expansion or dissatisfaction with a form of government not our own ought to regulate our conduct, I have entirely misapprehended the mission and character of our government and the behavior which the conscience of the people demands of their public servants.
Although this is a battle that Cleveland would ultimately lose, his wisdom is prescient in a time when regime change and humanitarian wars are not only norm but, the expectation of our leaders. Of the three candidates that will be on the ballot in all 50 states in November they all believe in some adulteration of our military forces, whether it be: humanitarian wars, regime change, or simply aggressive displays of America’s military might where our interests aren’t explicitly served; we are being offered three bad options when it comes to the future of the United States military.
On the other side of the military coin: Grover Cleveland was not against a show of force where, as defined by the Monroe Doctrine, it was critical to our national interest. When Britain and Venezuela fell into dispute over the boundary between Venezuela and British Guiana, Cleveland asserted the United States right to intervene and cited the Monroe Doctrine as justification. Although Britain was resistant to US involvement, Venezuela had long been imploring the US government for assistance in the dispute. While Venezuela had been referencing the Monroe Doctrine as justification for US involvement, Britain did not recognize its legitimacy, and they made their position clearly known. However, Cleveland acted with strength and purpose and would ultimately go on to win this battle. The arbitration played out primarily in favor of British Guiana but, American arbitration of the dispute established the United States as a world power. In the time between then and the election of 2016, we have strayed far and wide from the Monroe Doctrine’s limited and specific scope of American interest. It seems, there is no dispute too petty, too uninteresting, or too expensive that in which the United States is currently unwilling to involve itself. We fight the wars of other countries and have established ourselves as the policemen of the world. If we were to, instead, reassign our predominately offensive military strategies to defensive ends, we would be better served financially, as well as defensively.
Grover Cleveland rose to prominence in a time of great change in our nation. There were those, many of whom were in his own party, that would have like to see him take on a more activist role in government. There were also many that found his adherence to the Constitution and his restraint in use of government to be antiquated and damaging. In a time when we find ourselves electing politicians who promise to fix all of our problems; ensure our happiness; and guarantee our safety, at the expense of our liberty, we would be well advised to look to the example of The Guardian President, one of the last men to occupy the office and faithfully execute the oath in which he swore to uphold the Constitution. Cleveland’s Presidency was marked by an admirable restraint and an appreciation for the limited power of the federal government and, specifically the executive branch. Grover Cleveland was far from a perfect man, but he was a man that is all too often overlooked in history as an “also ran” when he has a great deal of wisdom to impart today.
By Nicholas James

Why Was Coffee Drinking Once Scandalous

In 18th century Europe, many products and services reached a newly emergent middle class for the first time in human history. The capitalist age was maturing, and that meant that average people had money for the first time and lots of choices on how to spend it. One of the new products they could buy was coffee. With that came a great deal of social suspicion and even dread.

None other than Johann Sebastian Bach satirized the puritanical fear of coffee in his delightful and witty “Coffee Cantata.” It was one of the few times he ever tried his hand at pure pop entertainment. Of course he succeeded brilliantly; he was Bach after all!

The “Coffee Cantata” tells the story of a daughter who scandalized her father due to her devotion to coffee. She couldn’t stop singing about how wonderful it is, while her father corrected her constantly.

“You naughty child, you wild girl, ah!” the father yells at his daughter. “When will I achieve my goal: get rid of the coffee for my sake!”

“Father sir, but do not be so harsh!” she responds. “If I couldn’t, three times a day, be allowed to drink my little cup of coffee, in my anguish I will turn into a shriveled-up roast goat.”

She happily agrees to do everything he says in every area of life except one: she will not give up coffee.

And then follows a beautiful tribute to coffee: “How sweet coffee tastes, more delicious than a thousand kisses, milder than muscatel wine. Coffee, I have to have coffee, and, if someone wants to pamper me, ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!”

The father threatens her: “If you don’t give up coffee for me, you won’t go to any wedding parties, or even go out for walks.”

She still refuses.

Then the daughter plays a little game. She has a husband in mind and extracts from him a promise that if she marries him, he must allow her to drink coffee. He agrees. Then she goes to her father, who opposes the marriage, and makes a deal: if she is permitted to marry him, she will give up coffee. The father is delighted, and agrees.

Thus does the daughter gain a new husband, and, much more importantly, a permanent right to drink coffee whenever she wants!

What was this fear of coffee? Why was this such a big deal? It does have some narcotic properties to it, as we all know so well. It can give you a delightful lift.

But that alone does not account for the early opprobrium with which coffee-drinking, particularly for young girls, was greeted. For a fuller account, we need to understand something larger and more socially transformative: the advent of the coffee house itself.

The coffee house was one of the earliest public institutions, operating on a purely commercial basis, that brought a wide variety of social classes, not to mention a mixture between men and women, in a market-based social setting. In the 18th century, coffee houses spread all over Europe and the UK, attracting young people who would sit and drink together and discuss politics, religion, and business, and exchange any manner of ideas.

What the father in the Cantata is actually objecting to is not coffee as such but unapproved, unchaperoned social wanderings.

The Loss of Control

This was a huge departure from the tradition that entitled parents and other social authorities, including governments, to determine what kind of associations their children would have. Coffee houses introduced a kind of anarchy to the social structure, and introduced new risks of randomized contact with ideas and people that parents could no longer control. Coffee represented freedom itself – the freedom to mix, mingle, and consume what one wanted.

Indeed, coffee houses became a great source of public controversy. In England, in the 17th Century, Charles II tried to ban them all on grounds that they were “places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Ministers.” Even a century later, women were banned from attending them, and this was true in France as well. Germany had more liberal laws concerning women and coffee but public suspicion was still high, as the “Coffee Cantata” suggests.

Women who were banned from coffee houses developed a very clever response. In the famous “Women’s Petition Against Coffee” of 1674, women said that coffee was responsible for the “enfeeblement” of men. Historians say the campaign contributed to the gender integration of coffee houses.

We see, then, that the commercial availability of coffee actually contributed to the advance of women’s rights!

Looking back at the astonishing success of Starbucks in our own time, it doesn’t seem surprising. They too serve as gathering spots, social mixers, places of business, and centers of conversation and ideas. We are more accustomed to it now than centuries ago, and yet even today, how much political controversy is engendered by access to products and services of which social authorities disapprove?

War on pot anyone?

As the “Coffee Cantata” concludes:

Cats do not give up mousing,
girls remain coffee-sisters.
The mother adores her coffee-habit,
and grandma also drank it,
so who can blame the daughters!

Jeffrey Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education and CLO of the startup Liberty.me. Author of five books, and many thousands of articles, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook. Email

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Political Rant: Clinton’s Debate Strategy Will Help Trump

Disclaimer: All rants have minimal editing and a general disregard for flow

An interesting analogy can be made between the Wizard of Oz and the presidential candidates. The Tin Man without a heart represents Hillary Clinton and the Scarecrow without a brain represents Trump. The analogy isn’t perfect, but most of the media and much of the public believes it. Democrats might even admit she is corrupt and unpersonable, but they think she is knowledgeable and intelligent. Clinton has primarily chosen to attack Trump on his personality, instead of policy. She portrays Trump as a racist, sexist and a xenophobe. Clinton’s strategy has two main problems:

  • Her attacks are not viewed as credible by undecided voters
  • Trump is skilled at defending against personal attacks

Clinton is one of the most disliked politicians in the modern error. She lacks charisma and is not capable of connecting to voters. Not to mention, her favorability ratings are dreadful. Clinton frequently attacks Trump for his personality, but the attacks do not stick because no one likes Clinton. Voters do not view the Secretary as a credible judge of character. For example, the public would take notice if Martin Luther King Jr. called Trump a racist. MLK Jr. is well respected by the public and is respected for his moral beliefs.  If he was alive today and attack Trump’s personality that could have a powerful effect. Hillary does not have the same credibility, so personal attacks are a foolish strategy.

Additionally, Trump is best at fending off personal attacks. He successfully defended against person attacks throughout the whole Republican primary. Trump can counter punch and he can defend attacks using humor. He famously defused an attack from Megan Kelly in the first debate using humor. The video of this is below.

In Kerry’s Own Words: Syria Prohibited from Attacking al-Qaeda

It turns out that one of the US demands was that the Syrian air force must be prohibited from attacking the Al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in Syria). Crazy conspiracy theory? Listen to John Kerry’s own words at the UN yesterday:

Kerry argued at the UN that it would be impossible to separate Washington’s “moderates” from al-Qaeda while al-Qaeda was under attack:

Now, I have said to Russia many times it’s very hard to separate people when they are being bombed indiscriminately and when Assad has the right to determine who he’s going to bomb, because he can, quote, ‘go after Nusrah’ but go after the opposition at the same time because he wants to.

Does this make any sense? It seem much more logical to argue that the threat of being bombed alongside al-Qaeda would be the greatest incentive for “moderates” to separate themselves from al-Qaeda as soon as possible!

You would think Washington would tell its “moderates”: “You must cease and desist from fighting alongside al-Qaeda in Syria within the next 48 hours or you will yourselves become targets of Syrian, Russian, and coalition planes.”

Instead Washington argues that because its “moderates” refuse to separate from al-Qaeda the Russians and Syrians must stop attacking al-Qaeda!

George W. Bush famously said, “either you’re with us, or you are with the terrorists.” But what happens when Washington itself is “with the terrorists”?

By Daniel McAdams

This article was originally published on ronpaulinstitute.org. Read the original article here

What Happened to States’ Rights?

The power of the Federal Government has been growing. ObamaCare, IRS scandals, and the militarization & federalizing of local police make me wonder, “What is the government doing?” A look back may provide some insight.

The Thirteen Colonies originally organized under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles proved unworkable and a convention was called to amend the Articles. Instead of amending, the convention wrote a new Constitution. Debate raged over ratification, with the Anti-Federalists claiming it gave too much power to the Federal Government. At the time of this debate, people considered themselves citizens of their respective States and not citizens of what has become our Nation. States considered themselves sovereign entities and were leery of delegating more power to a Federal government.

The preamble to the Constitution uses the flowery words “We the people,” but the “people” did not create the Constitution. The people had delegated certain powers to their State governments and the States in turn delegated certain powers to the Federal government. That is why the Constitution severely limits the Federal government’s powers. Article One Section Eight defines the powers of the Federal government and the 10th amendment reserves all other powers for the States and the people. The States, rather than the “people,” ratified the Constitution and the power to amend it (Article 5) is given to the States and not the “people.”

Our Founding Fathers studied human nature and set up a system that allowed government to work, but at the same time provide a check on man’s natural tendency to garner more power. In school, we learned about the separation of powers, Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branches of government that the Constitution established to control these tendencies.

There are two other aspects of separation of powers that I was not taught.

First, when the Constitution was ratified, State legislatures chose Senators (Article One Section 3). This means the two legislative chambers (House and Senate) had different constituencies. The House represented the people and the Senate represented the States. Congress was set up such that a law would pass only if a majority of the people (Representatives) and a majority of the States (Senators) agreed on the legislation. Thus, a law had to meet two levels of approval in the legislature.

Second, think of the above three branches as horizontal separation of powers. The founders also wanted vertical separation of powers; that is multiple levels of government. They knew that government, if needed at all, was best when closest to the individual. For example, stop signs are handled at a very local level rather than in Washington. The Founders did not want a national government (that is, one government that sets all the laws for everybody), but rather a number of governments where power was at the lowest level possible.

In 1913, the 17th Amendment passed, eliminating the States’ voices in Washington. The 17th Amendment changed the selection of Senators from a decision by State legislature to a decision by popular vote. After adoption, Representatives and Senators had the same constituents – the citizens of their state or district. No longer did States have a say in how the Federal government worked.

With direct election of Senators, Congress has passed legislation that negatively impacts the states in two ways. First, legislation forcing States to provide a service without associated funding (unfunded mandates). Second, legislation that deals with issues that should be the responsibilities of the States. A politician’s primary job is to get re-elected. Without State selection of Senators, a Senator may vote in favor of legislation that should be handled at a state or local level or that benefits his constituents even though it hurts his State.

The result has been an enormous expansion of Federal power. The Federal government has more than quadrupled in size, growing from less than 5% to over 20% of GDP, since the early 20th Century, and has taken on all types of activities never envisioned by the Founders. Nowhere does the Constitution mention education, but we now have a Cabinet level Education Department, No Child Left Behind, Common Core, and a host of other education related legislation.

Getting power out of Washington and into the hands of the people and local governments will move us toward re-establishing what the Framers of the Constitution sought to create: a nation of liberty. Repealing the 17th Amendment is a step in that direction.

“The way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the function he is competent to. Let the National Government be entrusted with the defense of the nation and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself.” –Thomas Jefferson to J. Cabell, 1816.
By Thomas Nichta
The author lives in San Antonio and is a Mises Institute Ambassador.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of the Mises Institute.

Frederick Douglass, Tax Rebel

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) is an American hero, a man born a slave who sought and achieved his own freedom – and lived to tell the story in writings and lectures.

But what strikes me most about his book My Bondage and My Freedom is the riveting story of what inspired his escape. His slavery was backed by the force of law, but he felt it most intensely as a practical matter when he gained his first taste of freedom.

His master had come to trust him enough to market his skills outside of the master’s direct control. He had become very good at caulking. At the age of twenty, he proposed to his master that he be permitted to work and remit a sizeable portion of his earnings to his owner. The master agreed.

Douglass tells the story of how he started to earn money. This gave him a sense of his value as a human being, same as anyone else. And with money came some element of volition. When his master took a sizeable portion of it, he knew it was wrong. This was money he had earned. It was his. No man had the right to take it from him.

Now, to be sure, Douglass was writing before the income tax. The whole idea of freedom was that no man could take from you what was yours. If you made it, you could keep it. Here was a practical application of what it meant not to be a slave. And Douglass knew it.

As Douglass explains:

The practice, from week to week, of openly robbing me of all my earnings, kept the nature and character of slavery constantly before me. I could be robbed by indirection, but this was too open and barefaced to be endured. I could see no reason why I should, at the end of each week, pour the reward of my honest toil into the purse of any man.

The thought itself vexed me, and the manner in which Master Hugh received my wages, vexed me more than the original wrong. Carefully counting the money and rolling it out, dollar by dollar, he would look me in the face, as if he would search my heart as well as my pocket, and reproachfully ask me, ‘Is that all? — implying that I had, perhaps, kept back part of my wages; or, if not so, the demand was made, possibly, to make me feel, that, after all, I was an ‘unprofitable servant.’

Draining me of the last cent of my hard earnings, he would, however, occasionally—when I brought home an extra large sum—dole out to me a sixpence or a shilling, with a view, perhaps, of kindling up my gratitude; but this practice had the opposite effect — it was an admission of my right to the whole sum. The fact, that he gave me any part of my wages, was proof that he suspected that I had a right to the whole of them. I always felt uncomfortable, after having received anything in this way, for I feared that the giving me a few cents, might, possibly, ease his conscience, and make him feel himself a pretty honorable robber, after all!

It was this that led Douglass to plot his escape. He seethed ever more over having to give up his earnings or any portion of his earnings. Once he took a weekend off, and he was punished by his master. He retaliated by not working at all, which vexed his master more. Then he got clever and started paying more than was required, causing his master to trust him.

Master Hugh seemed to be very much pleased, for a time, with this arrangement; and well he might be, for it was decidedly in his favor. It relieved him of all anxiety concerning me. His money was sure. He had armed my love of liberty with a lash and a driver, far more efficient than any I had before known; and, while he derived all the benefits of slaveholding by the arrangement, without its evils, I endured all the evils of being a slave, and yet suffered all the care and anxiety of a responsible freeman.

“Nevertheless,” thought I, “it is a valuable privilege another step in my career toward freedom.” It was something even to be permitted to stagger under the disadvantages of liberty, and I was determined to hold on to the newly gained footing, by all proper industry. I was ready to work by night as well as by day; and being in the enjoyment of excellent health, I was able not only to meet my current expenses, but also to lay by a small sum at the end of each week….

It was this small sum that he saved that permitted him to buy a ticket on what was called the underground railroad, and eventually find his way to freedom.

Chattel slavery is a grave moral evil, on a level incomparable to bad tax policy. Nonetheless, commerce, in the life of Douglass, served as the inspiration and the means for obtaining freedom – and freedom from what? From his personal equivalent of the tax man who dared to take from his hands that which his own hands had earned.

Now you see why FEE is offering this beautiful shirt. No struggle, no progress.

By Jeffrey Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education and CLO of the startup Liberty.me.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

A Veteran’s Perspective On War

A Moral Case for the Warfare State?

When can war be morally justified? Libertarians will typically draw from a broad range of non-interventionist philosophical thoughts ranging from total pacifism to defensive-only measures of varying degrees.  One side believes that steadfast, “turn the other cheek” pacifism has little utility in an increasingly globalized world. Yet the other side of the coin is equally difficult to digest.  What is to be said for the neoconservative war hawk’s “shoot first” foreign policy; is it any more easily justifiable?

Veterans in particular have a fairly accepting view of war.  Often in the military community, it’s seen as the logical means to achieving a secure homeland. The argument goes that without a large and advanced military, we would fall behind the power curve of the most elite militaries and they would subsequently burn our cities and loot our coffers.  Obviously, this is a logical leap.  The need for an advanced military only arises as war itself does.  Remaining on the cutting edge of military technology suggests that we walk the razor’s edge of war and peace at any given moment.  Some may argue that this is our reality, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case.

Preparedness is, of course, important.  However, Seymour Melman, a Columbia University professor focusing much of his time on the warfare state’s effect on the economy, found that the US of the 1960’s had the equivalent of 6 tons of TNT per person on the planet.  He wondered, “Have we become more secure than when we had only 1 ton of TNT per human being on earth?”  Naturally, we haven’t.  What we have become is poorer and simultaneously more accepting of the pulsating mass that is the modern warfare state.  The distortion that the “overkill” material Melman reference’s has on the economy is profound.  Imagine the possibilities for innovation that would be possible, if not for the time and effort wasted on militaristic chest beating. Beyond that, shouldn’t we question how the stockpiling of such armaments and their distribution in strategic areas around the world impacts our chances of peace with other powers?

Historically, James Madison, known as the “Father of the Constitution”, was resolutely against standing armies.  In his opinion, the threat of a military that could act at any given moment at the sole discretion of the federal government was a recipe for tyranny. As a matter of fact, non-interventionism is the true militaristic history of this country.  Even the World Wars of the early and mid twentieth century had huge numbers of dissenters, such as the recently repopularized America First movement”.  As Tom Woods notes on his podcast, even Pat Buchanan began questioning the military leviathan after the collapse of the USSR.  What need do we have as American’s to have troops stationed on every inhabitable continent on the world; does this really make us safer since the fall of the Red Army?

My “Come to Jesus” Moment

When September 11, 2001 happened, I was a 5th grader playing on the playground.  Almost to the day a decade later, I found myself in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps as a truck driver providing security for Afghan owned-and-operated civilian fuel trucks.  It was the Wild West to 20 year old me, and I loved it.  Our mission was to ensure the safe movement of fuel and other gear from base to base.  The Taliban, whose mission seemingly paralleled that of Osama bin Laden, would rarely bother targeting the local drivers, but would rather hit the tanks of the thin-skinned trucks.  They knew the absurd costs of fuel we paid, and that we expected losses on every mission.  The irony of millions of American dollars being soaked up by Afghan sand as we worked to plug holes with torn rags wasn’t lost on me even then.  Yet, I had no question about the infallibility of American foreign policy at the time, or the good we were doing for our countrymen by being there.  That has since changed.

The abject poverty experienced by the average Afghan in the Helmand province is astonishing.  There, the humanity of the perceived enemy became real to me.  Intel briefs prior to our arrival, and ‘in country’, suggested that many of the combatants we engaged weren’t actually Taliban, and surely weren’t al-Qaeda.  They were often average Afghan’s either coerced into taking up arms to protect their families from the Taliban’s threats, or simply defending their villages from occupiers they didn’t want around.  It changed my perspective on a war seemingly no one there could rationalize.

In Marc Guttman’s book “Why Peace?” Alex Peterson’s chapter entitled “Discovering Nationalism and The Revolutionary Spirit in Iraq’s Insurgency” speaks to a similar revelation.  The enemy insurgents we’re fighting often have a much more comprehensible position for violence against the US than simply jihad; many of the men taking up arms against occupiers in Iraq are educated professionals.  One must wonder how we would react in a similar circumstance.

So What’s Our Rationale?

Is it our nationalism fueling fervor for war?  If so, is that pride properly placed?  I sometimes see myself as a bit of a Boy Scout patriot.  I recognize, however, that admiring the ideals, history, culture and people of a certain geographical space does not require or equate to loving the government that presides over it or, its responsibility for the negative actions it takes.

Since September 11th we have been at war with terrorism.  Such a broad, enveloping term is borderline Orwellian.  How can we support a global (meaning super duper expensive) ‘war’ on an idea?  Short of a fully functioning world wide thought-police, it seems unlikely to ever succeed.  Surely, the wise leaders in Washington recognize this?  Then why bother?

Maybe Marine Corps General Smedley Butler was on to something.  Twice awarded the Medal of Honor, General Butler simply and brilliantly developed the grotesque link between money and split blood in his speech, “War is a Racket”.

Further, think of the invasion of our digital privacy, the onerous and ineffective means of securing air travel, the creation of Homeland Security and more border restrictions, the calls for limits on firearm sales to those on arbitrarily “terror lists,”, the suspension of Habeas Corpus and so on.  Are you truly any safer because of it?

There has been so little official recognition of the actions of our own government policies in fostering the environment for terrorism to grow.  We have direct fiscal and logistical links to many of the major Middle Eastern insurgency groups of the last three decades.  Yet we continue our foreign policy initiatives of toppling undesirable leaders by arming their detractors in the hopes of propping up more American-friendly ones. All of this intimate intervention in foreign governments and politics shouldn’t leave one perplexed as to why those respective peoples would be tired of our ‘help’, or shoulder animosity because of it.

Even if perpetual, fiscally crippling war in the Middle East sounds better to you than the growth of insurgencies abroad that could potentially cause us harm, consider this: how would a Caliphate with people to feed, an antiquated military, and a relatively modernized economy justify constant war abroad?  Wouldn’t we crush them if engaged, and find it easier to pressure them in such a case? Finally, doesn’t it feel like we are losing this so-called war when the enemy who thrives on instilling fear has resulted is us sacrifice our liberty and money in the name of protection?

With every military action since WWII questionable at best, given the uniformly terrible results, why are we still so quick to beat the drums of war?

To The Veteran and Civilian Alike

The veteran community in the US has been racked by depression, substance abuse and suicide.  It’s gut wrenching, and it’s infuriating.  There are many reasons for this, and it would be unfair to oversimplify, but I speculate that at least a portion of it is due in part to the inability of veterans to emotionally and rationally connect to the mission we’ve been a part of over the last 15 years.  It’s time we, as a community, take a long, hard look at the product of our country’s decisions in the Middle East and decide where our frustrations would be most appropriately placed.

Moreover, as a nation we need to examine the government’s role in our lives.  The increasing size and scope of government is undeniable over the last 100 years of our nations history.  The most glaringly obvious question to me is the morality of a single organization, comprised of imperfect individuals, having the self-proclaimed right to a monopoly on force.  Should the government possess the ability to conscript us, or our children, to fight and die on their behalf?   Is the government entitled to a stake in each of our paychecks that translates into terribly inefficient, fruitless warfare spending? If we were to attempt to deny them any of these self-proclaimed “rights of government,” they then reserve the right to use coercion and violence against us to regain compliance.

The War on Terror, for all its brutality and cost, gave us an entire generation of men and women equipped with a perspective we would be foolish to ignore.  The US government’s foreign policy over the last 4 presidential terms has been an abject failure.  Not necessarily because of the military’s shortcomings, but rather the mission objectives with which they were yoked.  Under no circumstances will we ever defeat or eradicate radical Islamic terrorism, communism, fascism, or whatever other ideological enemy comes before us.  Friedrich Nietzsche aptly noted, “beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” It’s time we re-awaken the quieted spirit of true individual freedom and self-empowerment, and unshackle our selves from the bondage of fear and subservience.

By John A. Dangelo III

Follow him on Twitter @rallyandrecall

What Real Feminists Meant by “Equal Pay for Equal Work”

The phrase “equal pay for equal work” is in play again, with an intended meaning we all know. The idea is that government should force (really force, this time) private employers to boost the pay of women to match the rate of men in the same positions.

Almost every state had laws that specifically limited when women could work.It’s a bad idea; more than that, the policy actually betrays the original meaning of the phrase, circa 1920; more about this in a bit.

Such a law, heavily enforced (after all, equal pay has been the law for half a century), would actually handicap women in the marketplace, taking away their ability to price compete. It would require an army of bureaucrats to enforce by overriding business control over wages and salaries. And because you can comply by either raising wages or by lowering the professional status of women, it would install a new glass ceiling for women, outpricing their labor in the market for professional advancement.  

There is a mighty social cost too. It would do very cruel things to the reputation of all women of accomplishment. It would signal to the world that they only achieved through government power, the use of which is much like putting a gun to people’s heads. Anyone can do that. Nothing to brag about, nothing to feel proud about, nothing for which to take credit.

The market is achieving the goal in any case.

Misogyny and the Law

Maybe you detect a patronizing hint to the demand. It’s as if women can’t really cut it in the professional workforce. They can’t manage their own careers or make their own deals. They can’t cut it. They need the help of the state.

There’s more than a hint of misogyny here. And indeed, if you look at the history of labor legislation as it pertains to women, that is exactly what you find.

Feminists in those days were savvy: they saw exactly what was going on.In the early part of the 20th century, restrictions on women’s work and the regulatory imposition of lower wages were put in place for eugenic reasons. The life goal of women is not to make money but to further the race. Their place is not in the factory but in the home bearing and raising children. Hence, regulations should punish their commercial ambitions.

Feminists in those days were savvy: they saw exactly what was going on. They used the phrase “equal pay for equal work” to call for an end to these regulatory restrictions on women’s work. It was a clarion call not for government but to allow the market to work! It was: let the market be permitted to pay women equal to man, because the law wouldn’t allow it.

What kinds of laws? Almost every state had laws that specifically limited when women could work: not before 6am and not after 10pm. And there were maximum working hours too: not more than 50. (That might sound like more than a full-time job, but 100 years ago, this workload was seen as less than serious.)

Such laws were typical. Also, states and even the federal government offered payments to mothers not to work. It was the earliest form of what we call the welfare state, and the motivation was, again, certainly eugenic. How can the best women breed the best offspring if they are hanging around the factories instead of using their reproductive talents to lift the quality of the human population?

At the time, the women’s movement was dedicated to repealing this law. As the New York Times reported on January 18, 1920, women “have begun a determined fight to prevent the passage by the New York State Legislature of three new labor measures and for the repeal of two laws limiting hours of employment.”

The Equal Opportunity League

“So-called welfare legislation is not asked for or wanted by real working women.”The Women’s Equal Opportunity League, centered mostly in New York, represented 20,000 working women through funding from various organizations. They demanded the right to choose the most favorable hours of employment and to choose the nature of that employment. These were harmed by existing legislation and pending laws concerning the minimum wage, the 8-hour work day, and the factory bill demanding special (and more expensive) accommodation for women workers.

The New York Times interviewed Maude Terryberry of New York. The “Lockwood transportation law,” which limited women’s rights to work as ticket takers, caused her to lose her job. Under this law, women conductors, ticket choppers, ticket sellers, and subway guards could work only nine consecutive hours, and they could not work after 10pm or before 6am. Ms. Terryberry’s life was wrecked by this law.

She told the Times:

I am not asking for sympathy but for an equal right with men to earn my own living in the best way open and under the most favorable conditions that I could choose for myself… In September I lost my job on the subway line. Not until November did I succeed in finding other work. As a ticket seller I made an average of $33 a week. The next work I could get was as an extra saleswoman in a department store at $15 per week. I do miss that $18 a week and I do hate to start over now and then on the wearying and sometimes humiliating task of finding a new job. There are thousands of other women like myself who must be self-supporting and are finding similar difficulties in making a living.

The Times also quotes a Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt:

It is more important than any other consideration at this time that every human being who is obliged to earn his or her own living should have absolute freedom to find any employment which seems suitable and profitable without discrimination or restrictions of any kind. Life is hard enough at best in these days of mounting rents and high costs of living and the liberty and right to labor is as much a woman’s as a man’s just as a fair wage is no more a man’s than a woman’s privilege.

And here is what the Equal Opportunity League itself had to say:

So-called welfare legislation is not asked for or wanted by real working women. These welfare bills are drafted by self-styled social uplifters who assert that working women do not know enough to protect themselves, aided by a few women who once worked but who are now living off the labor movement.

Are Women people? Women are no longer the wards of the State and a law that is unconstitutional for a man voter is equally unconstitutional for a woman voter…

Men’s labor unions have always opposed legislation restricting their hours of labor or regulating their wage scales. Men know that these matters can be adjusted satisfactorily only by the unions themselves.

Working at night is no more injurious than working in the daytime. Many women prefer to work at night because the wage is higher, opportunities for advancement greater, and women with children can enjoy being with their children after school hours in the day time.

Making it a crime to employ women even five minutes after the eight-hour day kills the principle of equal pay for equal work.

What kinds of bills were before the legislature? One would limit working hours per week to 48. The League said: “If the pending bill becomes a law women will be ousted from all classes of work where the wage is high enough to attract men, and they will be forced back into the canneries, textile mills, domestic service, and kindred drudgery.”

Another bill would impose a women’s-only minimum wage. The League said: “such a bill, affecting women only, while purporting to be for their benefit, would really be a serious handicap to them in competing with men workers for desirable positions.”

Yet another bill would apply to women working service professions such as secretaries, accountants, librarians, file clerks, and executives. It would limit their work to 9 hours a day. The League said that this bill would cause women to “be replaced by men” and thereby “prevent women from rising to executive positions and greatly retard their progress generally.”

The League concludes:

If women are to hold the political quality granted by the suffrage amendment, they must insist on having industrial equality as well. It must be made clear that women do not relish – do not need – the so-called protection afforded by discriminative legislation which stunts and dwarfs – bars – woman’s progress, regardless of her ability and capacity for the fullest service, and it must be made clear that women refuse to be handicapped by laws which so restrict, hedge in and limit the scope of their activities to employers of labor.

In conclusion, cheers to the Equal Opportunity League, sadly defunct today. This was an organization that saw government for exactly what it was. It also understood that the interests of women were advanced by the dignity of freedom, not the demeaning dependence and institutionalized misogyny of state paternalism.

BY Jeffrey Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education and CLO of the startup Liberty.me.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Political Rant: Only One State Matters This Election

Disclaimer: All rants have minimal editing and a general disregard for flow

Mark my words, Pennsylvania is the only state that will decide this election. The special nature of this election has flipped demographics upside down. In this Presidential election, Trump will do better with white blue collar middle class Americans. In particular, independents that fit into this group will break Trump’s way. Florida and Ohio are typically swing states, but Trump is already running well above Hillary in those states. The strong senate campaigns of Rubio and Portman will solidify Trump’s win in those states.

Winning Ohio and Florida typically ensures the election, but this is not the case this presidential election. Trump still needs to win one more populous swing state to beat Hillary Clinton. Pennsylvania, the state that will tip the election, is his only real chance. PA has leaned Democratic in presidential elections for many years and urban Philadelphia is reliably blue. Trump can appeal to blue collar workers throughout rural PA that feel left behind by the Obama economy. Usually Pennsylvania is a swing state that has a slight left leaning but in this election it may truly reflect the national average. The Senate race in PA between McGinty and Toomey confirms that Pennsylvania is the most vital swing state this election. In an average of the latest polls McGinty holds a 0.2% advantage and that makes this senate race the closest in the country. The next president will win Pennsylvania because that is the only viable pathway for both candidates.

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