Thursday, December 14, 2006

Whoever desires liberty should understand … that every man who puts money into the hands of a "government" (so called), puts into its hands a sword which will be used against himself, to extort more money from him.

— Lysander Spooner, No Treason [1870]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What Will You Tell Your Children?

What will you tell your children when the long dark night of state tyranny descends upon America? Will you tell them the truth? Or will you pretend to them that you did not know?

You have allowed yourself to be fooled for many years. That is why America is in the political, religious, moral, and social decay it is in. It was easier for you to watch television than to bring the POW's home from Vietnam. It was easier to attend sporting events then to replace your corrupt congressmen or president with an honest one. It was easier to vote for the lesser of two evils or not at all rather than to work for those who you were told did not have a chance of winning. It was easier for you to be politically correct, jeer, and make sarcastic comments about "patriots," gun owners," and "religious right wingers" than to join with fellow countryman who were concerned about your homeland. It was easier to believe lies than to search out the truth.

Because you have taken the easy way out, life will not be easy henceforward, not for you, your children, and those you have made fun of.

You have betrayed not only your countrymen, but the past, present, and future. Your ancestors passed on to you the sacred torch of liberty. You personally, by inaction, have allowed it to be almost extinguished. The present moment, this brief time you were given here on earth, was your moment, your chance to give meaning to your life, to make a difference, to leave this earth a better place than you had found it. Instead, the future you have bequeathed to your children, will be because of your complacence and inaction, an ugly one of little happiness, safety, and freedom. All of this so you could take the easy way out.

It was easier for you, oh weak man, to do nothing rather than to do anything. You thereby leave your children nothing of value. Nothing lasting. You bequeath to them a hollow existence, the toy of tyrants, the slave of evil men. What will you tell your children?

Future generations shall curse your name, your grave, and your memory. But worse yet, what will you tell your children when they ask you why the long dark night has descended upon them?

Self-Ownership, Not State Ownership

Recently, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control wrote to hundreds of US researchers scheduled to attend the 4th International Symposium on Coma and Death in Havana, Cuba, warning that they faced "criminal and/or
civil penalties" if they attended the March meeting without a specific license. No licenses were granted. Being good citizens, or afraid to band together and stand up to the threat, none of them attended.

Sad. Say what you will about Castro, and I'm no admirer of the dictator, he has made medical research a high priority in Cuba, especially since he appears to be dying. Blocking American researchers from symposiums there is a loss to us all.

Like most government programs, the 40 year US trade embargo with Cuba has achieved almost the opposite of its purported purpose. It has failed spectacularly in its basic goal of undermining support for Castor's regime, and has given the dictator an easy way of explaining his failures.

Don't bother to ask why the US establishment continues this foolishness when there is no evidence of the policy working. It's the wrong question. Evidence of effectiveness has ever been a criterion for continuation of government policies (the war on drugs comes to mind). Like all official policies, the embargo serves political ends, not the public good.

The more important question is, why do people swallow the concept that their assets and their lives belong to government? Years ago, when I informed my four-year old daughter that she belonged to me, she instinctively challenged me. "You belong to you, daddy, and I belong to me."

A four year old can see the obvious fallacy in the idea that one person can own another, but after a decade or two of compulsory state "education," this libertarian instinct is crushed and the citizenry evolves into what H. L. Mencken so charmingly dubbed "boobus Americanus."

Docile and trained, it never occurs to most Americans to be outraged at the idea that politicians and bureaucrats can control where they travel. After all, boobus already accepts without question (among countless other indignities) that government must be able to invade their privacy, monitor their bank accounts, tell them what they should eat, drink, smoke, and invest in, as well as confiscate whatever amount of their income and assets it chooses.

Libertarian Murray Rothbard once said, "Boobus Americanus is doomed to be boobus Americanus forevermore." Fortunately, thinking individuals don't have to suffer the same fate. Individuals who value personal freedom can still arrange their lives to retain ownership of themselves and their assets. For instance, they can pursue options such as owning their own business, investing internationally, even living overseas. But it begins with a decision not to accept the idea that the state is their rightful master.